Keep in mind that this story was written in three days and edited at two in the morning, so it may not be the best... heh heh... heh.

Well, it won second place in the Small Writing Contest at PokéCommunity anyhow, so fire away.

The Cat and the Cradle.


At thirty-five years old, it was a common observation among those who didn’t know him that Giovanni Sakaki (né Palladino) was probably a little too old to get married. Among those who did know him, they didn’t ask, because it was Giovanni Sakaki they were talking about and he always knew exactly what he was doing. He was true to his reputation, as for the past two years the bonding of himself and his wife Christine had gone fantastically well.

This was most likely why he was walking into a room in the Viridian City Hospital’s maternity ward right now, intending to see Christine and carrying a picnic basket.

Giovanni was smiling happily, and his expression brightened further when he laid eyes on his wife, lying in a starch-white bed. Her hair was stringy and she looked like she had just gone through Darkrai’s Inferno and back, but even so, he could see her eyes light up when he entered the room. They soon turned to confusion, though, as she became aware of the basket in his hand. There was no tangible reason why they should be having a nice picnic lunch in the middle of the Viridian Hospital, after all.

“I was intending to give this to you on your birthday,” Giovanni began.

“…Tomorrow?”

“Yes,” he said gently. “But we know the boy is coming today, do we not? So I figured… due to the nature of the gift, of course… that today would also be an appropriate time.”

She laughed weakly. “It isn’t a spoon, is it?”

A chuckle, softened so as not to startle her. “No, not quite. But close. Look in.”

As he moved to place the basket on the bed, a doctor who up until then had been standing silently appeared in between them. “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid that you may not give her any food right now…”

“It isn’t food. I just needed a breathable box like this.”

“Well then I must see what you’re giving her first,” said the doctor sternly. After taking the box from Giovanni, she turned around and took a look inside. Both of them could see her body language change, due probably to the surprise, but the box snapped shut again and the doctor cleared her throat.

“Yes, well.” The box was handed back to Giovanni. “I suppose she can… see it. But don’t let it out too long.”

“Of course, of course,” said Giovanni charismatically. “Just a few minutes.”

The box was placed again on the side of Christine’s bed, close enough so that she could open it. She undid the latch and pulled open the box, though for the first few seconds all she could see was darkness.

Then she caught the glint of something shiny, and the feeling that she was being watched. Within seconds, the box had produced a small cat-like Pokémon with twitchy ears, large eyes, and a shining silver pendant on its forehead. The Meowth mewed adorably and padded up to Christine, rubbing up to her arm and taking in the scent. Christine’s confused expression soon turned into one of pleasure, looking down at the little cat as it rubbed against her. Giovanni stood there proudly, his hands behind his back.

“Oh… a Meowth…” she breathed, placing a hand on the Pokémon’s head. Its muzzle turned to snuggle into her palm. “I had one of these… when I was a girl… and the charm is…”

“Silver,” said Giovanni with a smile. “Spoons simply don’t cut it for you.”

She laughed. “Oh, Gio… I… thank you.”

“You’re welcome, dear.” He walked over and put a hand on her shoulder. She gave another little smile.

That smile soon fractured. Her breaths became gasping and ragged. Giovanni and the doctor shared a look, and it was established between them that yes, this was what they had been waiting for. Giovanni took the Meowth back and replaced it in its basket – and just when it had began to warm up to her, too – and the number of people in the room became significantly larger, due to the entrance of an array of people in white clothing. The whole thing started to swirl around, but in between all the ruckus, Christine was perpetually aware of a hand on her shoulder.

A strong but gentle hand.

Another hand, similar to the first, touched her own shaking arm, and gave it a little squeeze. She was beginning to sweat now, and even through the various squeaks, it was good to know that she had someone there who understood her. Who loved her and cared about her and would stay next to her through the entire thing.

The pain came then, both physical and mental. It was excruciating, yes, for both of them, but the pair smiled through it because they knew that at the end of this dark, horrendous tunnel, there was something…

…Pink.

And red.

Within a few minutes Christine felt like she had died and gone to heaven, her happiness was so great. Giovanni felt the same way too, but he was doing a better job of containing himself, smiling downward at the cleaned up child in his wife’s arms. He was crying rather loudly, as most babies do, but Christine appeared to be doing a good job of calming the child down. Eventually the infant was lulled into, if not a comforted state, a grudging agreement to stop yowling.

“Do you have a name?” asked one of the doctors on staff.

At that moment, there came a soft thumping from one of the tables, and the silver-charmed Meowth made his triumphant re-appearance. “Myaah?” it chirped helpfully, twitching one big ear and somehow looking adorable in the harsh lighting. Christine smiled at the sight of the innocent animal – not much past birth itself – and, with the reappearance of that living gift, both parents turned to the querying woman.

“Silver,” they said together.
My child arrived just the other day –
He came to the world in the usual way –

As young Silver Sakaki grew, Christine realized that he had received her hair. His proved to be just as thick, red, and entirely unmanageable as her own. The first time she noticed this was when his father had taken one of his very rare breaks from the job that kept them afloat, at the mere cost of all of Giovanni’s time. He was sitting in their Viridian City living room, watching his son scratch Meowth behind the ear.

Meowth had never been given a nickname, but the Sakaki family were just fine with that; the only plausible name he could have been given was ‘Silver’, and that name was obviously already taken. It had been long since agreed among them that Meowth didn’t need a nickname, he was just so completely Meowth that any other term for him would have been a disgrace. Silver was closer to that little cat than he was to anyone else in the family, even his mother. They did everything together…

Christine’s mind had been wandering then. It was certainly rare for Giovanni to see his son in person, and by this time he was four years old. At that age he was able to have a somewhat competent conversation with his father, and one such conversation was happening now.

Giovanni was in his usual business clothes, a simple black suit, whereas Silver opted for a t-shirt and jeans. The former wore a wide smile, and the latter’s expression was near unreadable. ‘An unusual feat for a child of his age,’ observed Giovanni. ‘Ah, but he is a smart boy.’ The black-clad businessman folded his hands on his own lap, regarding Silver with his chipper face and trying to get Silver to do the same.

It… didn’t seem to be working.

“How have you been, son?”

“I’m okay…” said Silver with a little hesitation. Giovanni figured this was regular for him. “How, uh, have you been?”

Giovanni laughed. “Well, my boy. Well.”

“Oh. That’s… good.” Silver returned his focus to Meowth, who was now occupying the entirety of his lap. The older man looked at the little creature with its beautiful silver emblem. Now, Christine was in the room next to Giovanni’s while he was doing this, but she could have sworn that she saw something unusual in her husband’s eyes. They were a bit too wide, too interested in the little creature.

“Yes, they both have grown a lot, haven’t they?” she said loudly but pleasantly, stepping into the scene.

Giovanni took the opportunity to lean in closer. “Yes,” he said. “They have both grown well.” His eyes turned to Silver. “I’m proud of you both… but especially you, son. You will be a great man in whatever you want to do.”

“I want to be a Trainer,” said little Silver, for the first time showing some interest in the conversation. “A strong one. I’m gonna be like you.”

The boy’s father sat back and laughed. “Like me! Well, Silver, it’s true that I do train Pokémon. And right now… right now, I think that I am number one among the trainers in the world. But I don’t have Pokémon battles as my profession, you know; I need to do other things to support the family.”

“Oh,” said Silver. A pause. Then, “Well then, I’m gonna be better than you, okay?”

“Ha ha! Yes, you become better than me, Silver. I’ll hold you to that.”

The redhead’s eyes brightened at last. “Yeah! We’ll call it a… uh…” He was apparently at a loss for words now, and looked up at his mother. She had always been the prime source of big words – aside from his father, of course. He wanted to use big words now too, because Giovanni did, and he needed to be better than Giovanni.

“Hm… challenge?” offered Christine.

“Yeah,” said Silver, looking downright excited. “We can make it a challenge.” He stuck out his hand, beaming sincerely. Giovanni, also beaming sincerely, took it and shook firmly.

“A challenge. That’s what it will be.”



Later that night, Silver woke up in his sleep. He had had a scary dream again – those sorts of things happened sometimes, but his mommy had told him that every bad dream (or ‘nightmare’) helped him get stronger, since he got through them all okay. Silver took some pride in that, surviving his bad dreams all by himself, without the help of his mother.

…Though he still needed to hug her sometimes.

When Silver’s eyes had opened, he became aware of something unsettling. The warm, vibrating presence of Meowth didn’t seem to be there anymore. Meowth always slept with Silver, and in typical Silver fashion he felt that Meowth needed to be with him.

And so, also in typical Silver fashion, he went to look for him.

He put his giant plush Nidoqueen (a present from his father) to the side and got out of bed. After a moment’s hesitation, though, he decided that he needed Nidoqueen too, and decided to take her with him.

And so, with a big blue dinosaur in his hands, Silver the Brave went on an adventure through his dark house like Dan Daring did in caves. He pretended to wave Nidoqueen at the Golbats who swooped down to attack him, but eventually she told him that she was getting tired, and they decided that they would just run from them instead.

Okay, so it wasn’t the most adventurous of ways to get out of the big bats’ path. But it worked.

It was discovered that Meowth wasn’t anywhere in the bedroom where he was supposed to be, so Silver decided to go out to the hall instead. But he wasn’t in that room either, and he wasn’t in the room that Mommy had said was for visitors only and not him, and so Silver decided that he must be downstairs. Mommy went downstairs sometimes to watch television when it was super-late at night and she was supposed to be sleeping. Maybe Meowth did it too, like he watched TV when everyone else thought he was a regular Pokémon.

Like a super Meowth! Silver’s eyes widened at the prospect of this. What if his Meowth was super-smart? And… and talked? And secretly walked on its hind paws like a person did? Silver was excited by this idea, and that made him want to find Meowth that much more.

Silver took his secret passage down the stairs so that they didn’t make noise (he stepped on the sides of the boards, not in the middle) and got to the bottom floor. He looked around but couldn’t see anything clearly in the darkness; despite this, he told Nidoqueen that he would keep looking, and she agreed by way of nodding animatedly. So he went into the living room and looked around.

It was the same as the rest of the house, which was to say that there was no television glow in it, and Meowth wasn’t in it either. So Silver let Nidoqueen sniff around and followed her into the front hall.

He stopped.

He found his mother and father there, with the door open and Daddy about to go out. He was holding a sack which was thick so that Silver couldn’t see what was inside, and they were both talking loudly. Silver was surprised that Nidoqueen didn’t hear them earlier. But even so, he decided to stay in the corner and be quiet for now, because he was spying on them to get information. Silver the Brave always got information so he knew what he was doing.

“You can’t do this,” his mother was saying.

“I can,” his father responded. His tone was meaner than it had been earlier. “I can, Christine, and I have to.”

“You can’t do this to me… you can’t do this to us!” she continued, sounding upset. “Silver! Think about him for a moment, won’t you? What will he do without you?”

“Christine, Silver will be okay,” he said, tone softening as he reached out a hand for her shoulder. “He won’t remember any of this. He won’t remember me. Just… just tell him something. Tell him I left on a business trip and will not return until he is older. He is too young to—”

Giovanni!” Christine gasped. “He’s old enough to remember things, and he’ll know you were there! You know what you’re doing, don’t you? You’re lying to your child! And you’re expecting me to lie to him, too! I won’t do that, and… you wouldn’t have done that either, when I knew you! You would have… you would have fixed things so everyone could work together!”

Giovanni looked mildly startled. “Christine…”

“Don’t you ‘Christine’ me!” she snapped. “Silver should know the truth… Silver will know the truth! If I could I would go right up to his room and tell him that his father is…”

“Christine,” he repeated more forcefully.

“What?” The woman had passed frazzled by now and was currently plain angry. “Silver is…”

“…behind you.”

Both adults paused. Christine turned around, and Giovanni craned his neck. They both wore wide-eyed expressions, like they had been caught doing something very bad, and the catcher was a scary guard who would lock them up in dungeons if they made a move. But… that was no guard behind them, the one who had finished Christine’s sentence.

There was a scared, confused little boy, clutching a plush Nidoqueen.

“Silver…” they began in unison.

Christine turned back to her husband. “Stop! You have no right to talk to him!”

I have no right?” he retorted. “You were going to…”

“Please don’t talk so loud,” said Silver meekly. He turned to his father first and said, “Dad, if you opened the door because you want to go… I don’t want you to go. Stay a bit more.” He turned to his mother second and said, “Mom, it’s past our bed-time. And… and I had a bad dream…”

Though by now, he wasn’t exactly sure which of his dreams were worse – this one or the previous one. Silver hugged Nidoqueen more and realized that he wouldn’t be able to do that if he were dreaming, so he decided that the previous one was a more bad dream because that one was actually a dream. But then this was…

“Silver,” his father said. “I have no doubt that your mother will try to modify this night so that I come across as the bad guy, so I’ll give you the facts now. I’m leaving because I need to leave, and I won’t return while you’re still living with your mother. Some day I’ll see you again, and we will have that battle we were talking about earlier, okay?” He backed out of the open door. “We’ll get together then, son… we’ll have a good time then.”

And he left.

“Mommy?” asked Silver.

“…Y-yes, dear?”

He looked up at her with giant eyes, and holding Nidoqueen, he asked, “Where did Meowth go?”

His mother wore a face that Silver couldn’t exactly place yet, and kneeled down to face him. “Honey, I need you to do something for me,” she said with uncertainty in her voice. “I… I need you to go back to bed and… and pretend that Meowth was never here.”
and he was talkin’ ‘fore I knew it –
And as he grew –

The time was midnight, last the traveler had checked. The large trees of the Ilex Forest blocked out the moon above, so it was almost impossible to get an idea of what time of night it was – the leaves that got in the way of the moonlight skewed it quite a lot, and getting a decent sense of anything had already been established as impossible. But the traveler needed to get through the forest tonight, so waiting for morning was hardly an option.

Even though it was only mid-fall, the nineteen-year-old menace known as Silver was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, with his hands stuffed into its pockets.

Though Silver hated to admit it, he didn’t like being cold. He never had. If he could he would have ditched this whole plan and went sleeping in a nice, heated room in a Pokémon Center somewhere. But of course he didn’t have a choice; he had gotten a call from the elderly couple south of Goldenrod City that he needed to come pick up his sick Crobat.

Normally he wouldn’t depend on anyone else to train his Pokémon at all. He had been saddled with an egg delivered to him from the Azalea Pokémart, and those PCs in every Pokémon Center never failed to confuse him completely. So he had dropped Golbat with the Day Care, thinking that if he needed to hatch this thing so that he could release it, at least he could get his slacker a few days of full training. He had even gone and explained to it that it was to spend all of its time getting stronger until Silver returned – Trainer’s orders.

Instead, it got sick.

Silver snarled. The one good chance he had given Crobat to take some time to actually improve his battle skills, and it decided to catch the PokéFlu. And of course, those poor old people couldn’t heal it on their own, oh no, he needed to come back and return it so that it would work on the Pokéball-centric healing machine that the Goldenrod City Pokémon Center boasted.

So here he was, stomping through the Ilex Forest, hoping that his Crobat didn’t die before he got there. A dead Pokémon would look terrible on his record.

Silver wasn’t in a good mood tonight. Then again, he was rarely if ever in a good mood, life having gotten exceptionally boring after the New Bark boy – shameless, pesky, and younger than himself! – had trounced him at the Pokémon League. He had been training for the inevitable rematch of that fight for years now, but he had never been able to find the kid again after that last rematch. He called it a challenge to himself, to be able to defeat the best Trainer in the world, and as far as he knew that kid was the strongest. He had even made it past the Pokémon League… and the man Lance, the jovial Champion who had beaten him as well.

Despite this, the kid’s name escaped him – Silver had never had the best memory.

The dark forest loomed over him now as he walked through, crunching on branches with no regard for the Pokémon that may have been disturbed. There had been a time right around the point where Gold – Gold, yes, that was New Bark Boy’s name – and he were ‘rivals’ of sorts, and during that time he had met up with the kid often. Without realizing it, some of Gold’s mindless trust in his Pokémon must have rubbed off on Silver, as his Crobat had evolved then. It was only later that he realized that Crobat evolved by friendship… and he had been growing a little disrespectful then.

That scared him.

Silver had redoubled his efforts to make his Pokémon see him as someone worthy of respect, not a friendship. That had worked, at least, and the creatures were back to the way they should have been acting from the very beginning.

He suddenly became aware of a faint blue light coming from somewhere else in the forest. Was it a Pokémon? He didn’t think there were any glowing Pokémon who lived in the Ilex Forest, and it was certainly too late for any other sane people to be walking around in this place. Silver decided to investigate. (Another bad habit of his, one he could never quite drop – the tendency to get in places where people like him weren’t supposed to be snooping around in.)

Through the foliage he went until he reached what appeared to be the source of the luminosity – an old shrine, covered almost completely with ivy. Silver did recall this being here when he had gone through Ilex the first time, though it certainly didn’t glow. ‘Who,’ though Silver peevishly, ‘decided to put a flashlight in there for giggles?’ He walked closer, intent being to remove whatever stupid light was inside there. But when he opened the leaf-choked shutters, something else happened entirely.

The egg, which he had been holding to his chest in an attempt to warm it, began to crack.

Silver looked on as bits and pieces began to pop off of the egg, all of them dissolving into light as they got farther away. He had never truly seen a Pokémon hatch before, and figured that it could perhaps be called a learning experience. He watched with a blank expression as the pieces gradually slipped off, and finally in a burst of light his latest team member came to the world.

Silver raised an eyebrow.

The thing was small and green, with giant blue eyes and twitchy antennae. Its body and wings didn’t look nearly large enough to support the giant onion-shaped head, but it did so, and the little pixie-sprite-thing fluttered into the air and chirped at Silver adorably. He didn’t exactly know what this thing was, and his confused face was recoiled just slightly. It was… kind of creepy.

“Brii,” said the Pokémon cutely.

“What the…” he began.

“Brii brii,” it continued, pointing at his pocket. Silver realized that he was supposed to catch the thing. After fumbling around for an empty Pokéball – he was down to three now – and subsequently coming up with one, Silver tapped the thing on its onion-shaped head and watched as the Pokéball’s center glowed three times without any hostility from its occupant. Finally, when the capture had been complete, the thing took it upon itself to come right back out.

“Brii!”

Silver returned the Pokéball to his pocket – now with all the other team members – and stared at the thing confusedly. “What are you?” It looked vaguely familiar, like an old toy a friend had once owned.

“Brii brii.”

It seemed that was the only thing it could say, so Silver figured that the species must be called ‘Bree’ or whatever. So he sighed, noting that this thing would likely not be riding in its Pokéball for the rest of the trip.

The man took a break to look up at the state of the moon, or what he could get through the foliage – it was just as helpful as it was earlier, which was to say, entirely unhelpful. Though there did seem to be more white light than before, and it was reflecting in a way that made it seem like it was coming from the trees around…

“Gah!”

A hand reached out to grab the nearest tree branch. Silver was beginning to feel faintly sick.

The world was spinning before the Trainer’s eyes, and it was all bathed in a bright white glow. This entire thing had suddenly gotten very abnormal – but it also got warmer, one positive fact that Silver’s distressed and shaken brain decided to latch onto. That was the only thing he noticed as lights popped before his eyes and his limbs gradually felt lighter and lighter. It was the only thing he noticed as his eyesight faded to the radiance. It was the only thing he noticed as, somewhere around him, a little voice went “Brii!”



When Silver could see again, he was in the middle of a strange place that definitely wasn’t the Ilex Forest. There was a mountain to his right, but the rest of the place was pure grass. It was still night, yes, but the moon looked to be situated in a corner of the sky, not reigning over everything as it had been before. Silver found himself having to adjust his eyes. Bree was still floating next to him, but appeared to be silent; maybe she was watching a Combee or something.

Silver suddenly became aware of someone talking from behind him.

Turning around, he noticed two figures on the dirt road that led past him and over to the mountain. One of the figures was tall and wearing the appropriate garb of a P.I. – thick black coat, fedora, and dark scowl. The other one was a kid of around thirteen in a black sweatshirt with…

Silver paused mid-thought.

He knew this place.

“You told me…” the black-shirt began. “…You told me you were the number one in the world! Are you gonna quit? What are you going to do now?”

Bree was looking on vacantly, watching the conversation with an empty stare. Silver tried to contain his immense reserves of confusion and tried to put on a brave face as well, but he wasn’t doing as good a job (something that concerned him – when a man looks less serious than a little green pixie, he knows he has failed). Silver stared for a frown.

Overcoat Man – his name, like Gold’s, escaped Silver’s reach – was silent for a few minutes, before turning back around to face Silver’s younger self. “One must acknowledge his defeat before he can move on…” he said wispily, the sour expression never faltering. “I will go solo… for now… so that one day I will return with a stronger organization.” His body language suggested that he thought this conversation was over, but Silver knew that his younger self wasn’t going to take that as an answer. And yes, there it was, the barking complaint.

“But what aspect of you was number one? Gathering so many, only to be defeated by a mere child!”

A mere child… yes. Red Rooiakker, one of the few people Silver could respect. He defeated that pathetic Rocket man with ease, and he had done it a good three years younger than Silver was when this conversation took place. Silver had realized by now that he had been taken to the past, and the only explanation he had now was Bree – what power did that little pixie hold, anyhow? It certainly didn’t look strong, but…

“Putting together the potential of many is how you produce a huge power,” said Giovanni icily. “That’s what an organization is… that’s the strength of an organization! I failed… to make the best use of my subordinates’ potential…!” Giovanni looked away for a second now, not wanting to face Silver. “…But you shall witness one day the revival of me and my Team Rocket!”

That had not happened exactly. A man named Apollo had been the mastermind for the new Team Rocket.

Young Silver walked up to the Rocket boss now, and he looked positively livid with the entire thing. “I don’t understand you! You don’t make any sense!” Oh, why had he said that? Admitting that he was confused in the face of an adversary, especially such a low one as this Rocket filth, was perhaps the stupidest thing he had done in his life. The Rocket boss, on the other hand, didn’t call out his stupidity… yet.

“One day you will understand.” With that, the man turned on his heel and walked briskly away.

“I don’t WANT to understand you!” Young Silver bellowed from after him. “I’ll never become someone like you – a coward when you’re alone and acting like a tyrant when you’re in front of other cowards! I’ll become strong, stronger and better than you! I will become a stronger person all by myself! BY MYSELF!”

Giovanni did not stop.

Young Silver stood there fuming for a few minutes more, watching with a screwed-together face as the shady man walked briskly off, and then turned with his own “Hmph!” of displeasure. He continued to storm off, though Silver noticed with some concern that the boy was walking directly towards him. It was then that the man noticed that he had been watching Young Silver the entire time, and of course the enraged fragment of his past decided to comment on it.

“What are you staring at? Scram!” Young Silver delivered a powerful elbow whack directly into his older counterpart’s gut and continued to walk away. Silver remembered that too now, though he didn’t seem to recall it before – was that the influence of time?

Silver stood there in a crumpled position, one hand on his stomach, staring hopelessly after his twisted childhood.

Bree stirred into motion once again. She didn’t even take a look at him as she set to work. Silver was prepared a little better for the wooziness now, and he noticed that, as the symptoms of time traveler’s syndrome came on, the pain in his stomach began to subside. Silver cleared his throat in the middle of the light show, focused on steady breathing, and prepared for liftoff.

He was entirely unaware of the man in the black overcoat and the fedora, standing on a hill and watching the bystander to their conversation.
He didn’t catch the man’s face, due to his standing in a silhouette against the moon.
He said, “I’m gonna be like you, Dad.”

The next place Celebi took him was a cave – a dark one. It was cold as well, unfortunately; Silver was just beginning to enjoy the warmth. His eyes once again needed some time to adjust, but once they did he took a look around. All he saw was a radio, a box of various objects, and an unidentifiable black blob in the corner. Silver could see no relevance in this little place, and he turned to Bree to explain his concerns. The green Pokémon was looking at the black blob, and Silver had only said one word before it began to move.

And once he got closer, where Silver could see him, it was made obvious that the blob was not a blob at all.

“You,” said Silver.

“Me,” said Giovanni patiently. “I do not know who you are… but I have to warn you that this is no place for someone like you. I am conducting my own business here, and you…” Giovanni paused now, to look back at him with a disgusted expression, “…have intruded far enough into my life.”

Though he did not show it, Silver was confused. The last time he had seen this piece of scum he had been only thirteen, and he didn’t look enough like he did back then to warrant a connection. Or, at least, he thought he didn’t. The man didn’t say a word about this, but merely let Giovanni walk closer to him until the two were almost nose to nose. Then he spoke; Silver noted that his breath wasn’t the greatest.

“You have a certain look about you…” he said. “You remind me of a boy I knew once. You have the same eyes… but there is no way you could be him, for you are too old… anyway, I did not see you arrive, but alas you have caught me on my way out. I’m on my way to Goldenrod City, to rejoin my team… are you going to get in my way?” If Silver didn’t know better, he would have said that this last statement seemed more like a challenge than anything else. He didn’t fall for it, though, or rather didn’t have time – the radio crackled to life before he could respond.

“This is the Radio Tower. This is the Radio Tower.”

Both of them turned to look at the small object that was now spitting out a voice, one which was trying and failing to hide its enthusiasm.

“We are pleased to declare Team Rocket’s revival… Giovanni? Can you hear us? We have finally made it! Giovanni!”

Giovanni placed one hand on his hat. “…I will be going now…”

“No! No, you won’t!”

Silver finally found it in him to speak, and he held out his arms to block the older man’s passage. Giovanni regarded him with some curiosity, but did not try to force his way out of the cave. “…Oh? Why is this?”

“Because I am going to battle you, right now,” he said. “And I am going to win. I gave you… I don’t know how long I gave you, but it’s long enough for you to find some common sense! I didn’t get you then, and I don’t get you now, but you are not someone who is going to walk by me without a scratch!”

Giovanni stared at him quizzically, but his gaze soon drifted to the time-traveling sprite next to him. “…Hmm. Tell me, where did you get that Celebi?”

“Celebi? That’s its name?” Silver looked to face Bree – or Celebi, as it were – before turning back to the task at hand. “No! I will not let you distract me any longer! We’re going to fight and I’m going to prove just how weak and stupid you really are!”

Giovanni took a deep breath and looked at Silver. “…So.”

“So what?”

“It seems…” began the Rocketeer, looking at Silver with an unreadable face. “It seems that I have both under- and overestimated you… it is such a coincidence… but that is not of relevance to you anymore, it seems. I will accept your challenge, and we will bring this argument to an end at last… but before we begin, I must tell you something very important.”

“What? I don’t need advice from someone like you.”

“And I have no advice to give to someone like you,” he said. “I see now that you are from the future, and that you have somehow come into possession of a fantastical being that many people can only dream of seeing in the flesh… I do not know how you did that, and I will not ask. But I will say that even as a child, I have admired you for your refusal to ever let me off… easy.”

“You never knew me as a child.”

“No… I suppose I did not. And for that I would like to apologize…”

“What are you talking about?” Silver snapped. He had had quite enough of this freak’s wispy way of holding a conversation. “Either tell me straight or shut up and battle!”

“If one has not known, and if one cannot find out by himself, then he does not need to know,” quoted Giovanni. “A great man said that, and I think it applies here. So, with my thoughts out of the way, I believe it is time for a battle.”

“Spineless worm,” hissed Silver. “It’s about time you came up to let Silver get you!”

“Do you always speak in third person?”

“Shut up! Typhlosion, go!”

Giovanni looked like he was almost going to smile… almost. Instead he took out a Pokéball and released a blue armored Pokémon with a thick, sturdy body. “This will be a four on four battle, yes?”

“Whatever you want. I can match everything!” Silver spat out his words bravely, but only after squashing a small stirring in the back of his mind. For some reason, Giovanni sending out a Nidoqueen had jostled something – but it was gone now.

“Ah, but not this,” said Giovanni. “Earth Power.”

“SmokeScreen!”

Typhlosion choked out a dark stream of smoke. Meanwhile, Nidoqueen was clenching her hand into a fist. The air around her began to glow yellow, and when the creature finally bothered to look up her fist had already made contact with the floor. Beams of light bled out from cracks in the ground, and to Silver it seemed like the whole world was quivering with the immense power that Nidoqueen had put into her attack. Even now, she was staring firmly through the SmokeScreen; he could see her still-glowing outline.

Despite the SmokeScreen obscuring her view, the shaking rifts in the ground still managed to find their way to Typhlosion. The animal roared in pain as he was pushed to the ground by the violent tremors, jagged rocks spurting into the air around him.

Typhlosion got back onto its feet after that attack, looking most definitely beat up but not out of the running yet. Silver wasted no time in pointing at Giovanni and yelling, “Flame Wheel!”

Giovanni listened to the echo with a mildly interested expression and said, “We are in a cave. The echoes take care of your yelling.”

Meanwhile, Typhlosion had curled himself into a flaming ball and was now hurtling towards Nidoqueen. The Pokémon shifted her weight into a more defensive position in preparation for taking the attack; she knew it was coming, and the flames were visible even through the lingering SmokeScreen that had been set up a just a few minutes before. Typhlosion remained there for a good amount of time, rolling and rolling, trying to break down Nidoqueen’s defenses, but the creature stood strong and eventually Typhlosion needed to back off.

“Return.” Silver held out Typhlosion’s Pokéball, and the blue creature was sucked into its glowing depths. He took out another one immediately, and tossed it onto the makeshift field.

“Alakazam, use Psychic!”

The armored Pokémon’s eyes began to glow – a telltale sign of a Psychic attack – and within seconds, Nidoqueen was glowing too. The luminosity intensified as Nidoqueen was lifted off the ground and shaken back and forth like a rattle, swaying and lurching as Alakazam pulled around her gigantic weight. Nidoqueen did not resist, but was making choking noises as if she was suffocating; fortunately, the attack ended before she lost all of her air, and the shaken up Poison-type dropped to the ground heavily.

She was still standing, though, something that disappointed Silver greatly. He was further disappointed when Giovanni called his next move and Nidoqueen started charging forward, mouth open in preparation for a powerful Crunch. However, due to the Pokémon’s girth, she didn’t seem to be going very fast…

“Reflect, before she can get to you!”

Alakazam held up his hands. Light flew across the barrier just seconds before Nidoqueen hit it, and her teeth only grazed the Pokémon’s arms. Reflect acted like rubber, and when Nidoqueen lost enough momentum then she was sent zooming back across the battlefield to skid on the ground.

She gave a last moan and slumped.

Giovanni said nothing, but merely recalled his fallen Pokémon and sent out a new one. This creature was a bird with navy blue feathers and a crest that matched its owner’s fedora. It proclaimed, in a very nasally tone of voice, “HAWNCHKRAOOOW!!”

Silver figured it had a relationship to Murkrow, and he knew what that meant – a Dark-type. So instead of attacking, he told Alakazam, “Recover!”

Recover Alakazam did. In the meantime, Honchkrow was compiling all the nasty thoughts in its head (and there were plenty of those) into one attack of ultimate maliciousness, the one that most people call Dark Pulse. It went hurtling towards Alakazam, who was prepared for the worst – and got just slightly less than the worst.

Even with the Recover and the small strength advantage Alakazam had, it was still hurt a lot by the super-effective Dark move. His stance was beginning to falter, and he knew that levitating himself psychically into the air would only sap up more of his energy. Silver too knew he was in something of a jam; Alakazam was near fainting (that made half of his available party) and he didn’t know any non-Psychic moves past Recover…

…oh wait, yes he did.

Silver smirked evilly. “Alakazam,” he said. “Zap Cannon.” Alakazam raised his arms yet again. Seeing what he was doing, Giovanni quickly told Honchkrow to use Shadow Ball, but Alakazam was faster and stronger as well. The giant orb of electricity practically ate up Honchkrow’s attack and continued on its path towards the great dark bird. Silver noticed with satisfaction that it made a little sizzling sound.
Silver had forgotten the move before now; it was a new Technical Machine addition, and he still wasn’t entirely accustomed to having it around.

Honchkrow crumpled to the floor as Nidoqueen did, and Silver smiled. He was on a roll, just like he knew he would be, and soon this dirtbag would be out of his world forever.

Giovanni shook his head sadly and recalled the fainted Honchkrow, but it was soon replaced with a creature that was basically a brown version of Nidoqueen. But this one had a child in a pouch on its stomach, and that made Silver sneer; who in their right mind would bring a young child into their parents’ affairs? Regardless, Silver knew Alakazam could take her – he was the second strongest on the team.

“Dizzy… Punch.”

Giovanni had put a pause between the words that Silver found unusual, but figured it was just another one of his verbal tics. Kangaskhan didn’t seem to be doing anything, so Silver ordered his own player to go instead. “Psychic!”

But before Alakazam could even move, the bulky mother had sprung forward with incredible force and landed a punch to Alakazam’s stomach. He was knocked out before he hit the ground.

“What…” Silver began.

“The move is called Sucker Punch,” said Giovanni helpfully. “I think you can see why.”

Silver ground his teeth. “I can’t believe you fell for something like that,” he snapped at Alakazam. “Just… return.” Once Alakazam’s unconscious body had been removed from the battlefield, Silver looked at Giovanni again. His expression was mildly amused, a stark contrast to the peevishness that occupied Silver’s.

Kangaskhan was pure Normal, and Silver had nothing to counter that, mostly because he figured that anyone who used a Normal-type is either new or dumb. So Silver decided to send out his Weavile, having evolved while he was traveling Sinnoh.

The navy-blue weasel came to the field with a cocky expression on his face.

“Use Fury Cutter… and aim for the stomach!” Weavile sprang towards Kangaskhan, scythe-like claws primed and ready. She already looked concerned by that last comment, and Giovanni’s desired move – Outrage – only made things worse.

Kangaskhan’s broad paws balled into fists, and she descended on the smaller and frailer creature in a booming rage. Weavile’s cries could be heard as every available limb (including the baby’s) battered away at it, and by the time a livid Kangaskhan booted Weavile back to Silver’s side of the field, he looked like he was about to faint. But the creature held on and got to his feet again, and Silver was ready for it with another attack.

“Faint Attack!”

“Be prepared, Kang…” Giovanni paused mid-sentence. For as soon as Weavile sidled cautiously into range of his foe, Kangaskhan was on him again with all the rage of a highly protective mother (and then some). Weavile and his pitiful defenses couldn’t stand the second barrage, and when his body was punted into Silver’s face it was unconscious.

Silver held the creature in his arms as he recalled it, glaring daggers at Giovanni. “Try and beat this… Gengar!”

He figured that Gengar would be stronger than whatever Kangaskhan could throw at him, due mostly to the fact that Ghost-types couldn’t be hit by a Normal-type like his opponent. So with a triumphant grin on his face, Silver watched as Giovanni ordered a Dizzy Punch.

“Oh, no! I’m not falling for that again!” he proclaimed. “Gengar, use Curse! Wear it out enough and it will become confused!”

“She’s confused already,” said Giovanni. “Incidentally, maybe you should keep an eye on your own Pokémon instead of explaining your battle tactics to mine.” He pointed to Gengar, who was staggering around drunkenly. Kangaskhan, on the other hand, was standing on her side of the field, fist still curled from her Dizzy Punch.

“Impossible,” said Silver. “Impossible! You filthy cheater!”

“Scrappy,” said Giovanni wispily. “It allows the user to hit a Ghost-type foe…”

Silver could only watch the Pokémon turn. Meanwhile, Giovanni recalled the also confused Kangaskhan and sent out another Pokémon instead – his fourth. It was shorter and stouter than Kangaskhan and Nidoqueen, and its armor was purple instead of blue or brown. Giovanni waited politely until after Gengar had punched itself in the face to attack, and when that happened…

“Shadow Claw!”

Gengar was helpless to resist. The Reflect had long since worn down, and the full brunt of Nidoking’s otherworldly claw raked down the Pokémon’s face.

It fell on its back, stiff as a board, face a caricature of horror.

“I… I still have one more Pokémon!” flailed Silver as he recalled his monster.

“You do,” said Giovanni. “But what state is it in to battle?”

“I don’t care what state it’s in to battle!” yelled Silver. “Typhlosion can beat any weakling like you!”

“I see,” the Rocket boss drawled. “Send him out, why don’t you, and we’ll see where that faith is placed.”

Silver did just that. After Typhlosion got over the initial shock of being sent out again, he noticed that he was now facing a Nidoking and figured that Silver and his teammates must have been doing a good job. It heard the order to use Flamethrower, and flamethrow it did, right over Nidoking. But it was still visibly tired from the super-effective Earth Power that Nidoqueen had served it so long ago.

“Double-Kick.”

Nidoking hit it once… twice… thrice… He looked like he wanted to do more, but Typhlosion was already down for the count. And with that fallen Pokémon went Silver’s last chance of victory against the Rocket.

Both Trainers recalled their Pokémon, Silver numbly.

His eyes went wide, as if he had just noticed Giovanni was there, and began backing away from the battlefield.

“Ah,” said Giovanni. “Are you scared?”

“N-no…”

“You are scared because I have defeated you,” Giovanni continued. “I noticed the moves your Pokémon used. Except for the Zap Cannon from Alakazam, they were all stale, similar attacks. If you had given them a wider array of types, then maybe you could have overcome me… but you didn’t.” Giovanni sighed. “In different ways, we fell for the same trap, you see. Failing to utilize our subordinates’ full potential… it happened to both of us. Fortunately, we have time to fix them both.”

Giovanni walked towards Silver, but it was soon apparent that he was walking past him.

“Battle me some day,” he said. “You still have not understood what I said that day five years ago. But when you do, utilize your Celebi’s power and find me again. Then, perhaps, your challenge may be won…”

Silver stared after him as he walked out of the cave and into the sunlight beyond.

“I will not battle you,” he breathed. “You are not the strongest. You were never the strongest. You were bested by someone else… and I will battle him instead!”

He turned to the first thing he saw, and kicked it. The first thing he saw happened to be the box of objects Giovanni had with him, and with the force of Silver’s boot against it, the old latches undid themselves and the box sprang open. Silver walked over to it, thinking that if he couldn’t defeat the stinking roach then he could at least make life harder for him.

With that in mind, he reached in and began pulling everything out and over the floor, not even paying attention to what it was. However, he stopped when he realized that the thing he was currently holding was soft and squishy. Why on earth would he have something soft and squishy in…

Silver’s train of thought came to a crashing halt.

He stood there, gazing at the dirty and ragged stuffed Nidoqueen. Things came together in his head. Parts reattached themselves. Doors long-closed opened wide again.

Silver pressed the object to his chest. It seemed smaller now, less magical and far from real, but it still felt the same. The smell was… kind of the same. But it was the same. The same that he had gone on adventures with, the same that he had played Pokémon battles with, the same that he had slept with.

Holding the Nidoqueen, he turned around to face the opening of the cave, as if his goal would still be standing there, peering in and wearing the stupid fedora. But it wasn’t. The opening was empty, and Silver walked over to fill it.

To the arid mountains he said, “Dammit!”
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