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Kouji Ichigaara

"So Fighting beats Dark? How in the world does that work...?"

0 · 312 views · located in Kanto Region

a character in “A Girl and Her Magikarp”, as played by Eskay

Description

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” The wise man can pick up a grain of sand and envision a whole universe. But the stupid man will just lay down on some seaweed and roll around until he's completely draped in it. Then he'll stand up and go: Hey, I'm Vine Man.”- Jack Handey







ImageNickname: N/A

Age: 22

Gender: Male

Trainer Type: Team Cataclysm Field Agent

Hometown: Celadon City

Hair Color: Black

Eye Color: Gray

Skin Tone: White

Height: 5’7

Weight: 145 lbs

Physical Description: Short and wiry are the best initial descriptors of Kouji’s build. His posture is less than ideal, and his complexion is rather pasty. In stark contrast to his physical appearance, however, Kouji is actually in very good health, both physically and emotionally. Though he ranks fairly low on the Team Cataclysm chain of command, he routinely ignores the Team Cataclysm dress code in favor of his own wardrobe- very dressy clothes for every occasion (to put it in perspective, khaki’s and a polo shirt are dressing down for Kouji.)

Potential Interest: Cassandra, though that could change once Kouji learns the true intentions of Team Cataclysm…

Skills and Abilities: Kouji is a hardy, practical, and critical-thinking young man. What he lacks in learned knowledge he more than makes up for with logic, practicality, and “street smarts.” Though not bulky per se, he is quite wiry, and makes a surprisingly formidable fighter should he be challenged. As far as being a trainer is concerned, however, Kouji is a rather odd case. His skills at raising and battling Pokemon are quite extraordinary, as Kouji has next to no conventional knowledge about the inner workings of Pokemon! He hasn’t familiarized himself with the universally accepted names of attacks, lacks knowledge of type advantage (barring logical ones such as fire trumping water and grass,) and misunderstands the way that evolution works, among other rudimentary lapses. This oftentimes elicits torment, and he is frequently mistaken for a novice. However, his training regime consists of exercises tailored to the unique needs of each member of his team- he determines his team’s strengths and weaknesses from each of their individual talents and characteristics, and not from typing, movesets, or universally noted statistics. Because of his unique (and ignorant, skeptics would be quick to chime in,) philosophy, he oftentimes takes other trainers completely off-guard in battles, as he frequently issues bizarre commands that are unique to him and his team (telling Boss to “unleash Beast Mode,” instead of ordering him to use “Outrage” for example) and sends members against opponents with an obvious type advantage. In spite of his haphazard tactics, Kouji still wins far more battles than he loses, which is what inevitably drew Team Cataclysm to him.

Other: Ever the oddball, Kouji is quite adept at fighting other Pokemon himself! His personal philosophy is that he cannot possibly earn the respect of his team if he is not able to take attacks himself. While he of course refrains from joining the fray in regulation battles, he will not hesitate to jump in if the situation is not official or life-and-death. Kouji possesses a katana that he routinely brings along with him during Team Cataclysm operations (and while he is not trained per se in the art of sword fighting, he is resourceful and scrappy enough to make use of the weapon nonetheless.)

Personality: Kouji is a rather unfortunate case- it’s not as though he’s a social outcast, but his utter disinterest in himself is what ultimately turns many people away from him. He has always sought to better himself, yet a strong sense of humility ultimately keeps many of his talents out of the public eye. He is one of those individuals who most wish that they could hate, in that he is typically good at whatever he tries his hand at. Quick thinking, Kouji is quite adept at sizing up people within minutes and formulating tactics on the fly, making him a natural leader.
However, it is with this “jack of all trades” nature that many of Kouji’s flaws begin to become prevalent. Because he catches on to new concepts rather quickly, he rarely feels the need to ever delve deeper into a learned concept, thus Kouji rarely ever completely masters a skill. Kouji is also very hard to read- his facial expression rarely ever shows anything aside from indifference, which gives Kouji a perpetually negative first impression. This is a shame, as Kouji is typically quite interested in other people (he just fails to wear his emotions on his sleeve.) While his ability to keep his emotions in check is a boon on the battlefield, his impartiality hinders his social life, as he is notorious for over-rationalizing his friends problems, when it would be better if he would open himself as a listening ear.

History: Kouji grew up in a fairly well-off family, as the Ichigaara’s own a fairly successful custom Pokeball shop. Kouji’s childhood was fairly privileged- the only thing that may be critiqued about him and his sister Maya’s parents is their lack of strictness.

Though Kouji didn’t begin his Pokemon journey until he was 16, he earned his first badge at ripe age of 9! As a birthday present to the then-young Kouji, Eirika allowed Kouji to make a “challenge” to earn a Rainbow Badge, finding his determination quite adorable. To her astonishment, however, Kouji and Hero quite handily swept her entire team. Though the Pokemon League rules prevented an un-registered Trainer from acquiring a Badge, she broke protocol and awarded the badge anyway, with the understanding that Kouji would keep it under wraps until his journey was to begin.

And under wraps he kept it, until that fateful morning of his 16th birthday. For the next five years, Kouji would take time off from school to pursue training and badge challenges, earning a total of 4 (Rainbow, Cascade, Thunder, and Marsh,) before his priorities were suddenly shifted.

On his way home after earning his Marsh Badge, Kouji was assaulted by a few Rocket Grunts, apparently interested in his father’s Dragonite. The Grunts were handily defeated, which garnered the attention of a member higher up on the chain of command. Though less handily than the Grunts, Team Ichigaara managed to defeat the Executive who carefully tracked down the young trainer. This action garnered the attention of Team Cataclysm.

Having spent the past year as a field operative for Team Cataclysm, Kouji has put his personal journey on hold in favor of obliterating the Rocket Gang forever (in addition to his personal experience, Kouji’s father has also shared stories of his own encounters with the syndicate.) However, Kouji was only told of Team Cataclysm’s short term goals- the team had done enough research on the trainer to know that he would not be in favor of instilling their new world “order.” Should Kouji discover the truth behind this organization, the results could be quite destructive…



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Pokémon Species: Typhlosion
Pokémon Nickname: Hero
Pokémon Nature: Brave
History:
Cyndaquil- Kouji was given a baby Cyndaquil by his parents on his seventh Christmas, and since then, Hero has been Kouji’s oldest and most loyal companion. Kouji started his Pokemon journey later than most of his peers, so it was just the two of them until his 16th birthday.

Quilava- Hero reached his first evolution quite early considering Kouji had only him to raise before his journey. Once Kouji turned nine, the two of them felt confident enough to challenge the Gym Leader Eirika. Much to her surprise, the up-and-coming trainer swept her entire team with almost relative ease!

Typhlosion- After the meeting with his father, Hero and Boss began regular training sessions together in order to both re-acquaint and test each others strengths after being apart for so long. These sparring bouts rapidly grew in intensity, and it was only a matter of time before Hero reached its peak of evolution, becoming a powerful Typhlosion. Though it still pales in comparison to the raw power of Boss, he still remains Kouji's nearest and dearest companion.

Move-set:
- Eruption
- Flame Wheel
- Earthquake
- Smokescreen
- Protect

Team Compatibility:

Boss- Mutual Respect- They’ve both been in the Ichigaara family for quite a while, and have had that much time to form a bond.

Wattson- Respect deferred to Hero- Though Wattson’s proven himself a formidable asset in his own right, Hero still considers himself more of a mentor figure than an equal to the playful Wattson.

Croqua- Respect deferred to Hero- Croqua is very much the baby of the group, and Hero does his part to show him the ropes.

Ether- No respect- The only reason Hero tolerates the troublemaking Ether is because of her willingness (however reluctant) to help Kouji round out the team.

Bignacious- Respect deferred to Bignacious- The biggest and eldest Pokemon on the team, Hero acknowledges the gentle giant’s strength, even if he has been in the group for the least amount of time. Since his joining, Hero has engaged in many sparring matches against the deceptively clever beast, viewing him as a mentor of sorts.

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Pokémon Species: Dragonite
Pokémon Nickname: Boss
Pokémon Nature: Docile
History:
Dragonite- Though he occasionally saw his father’s Dragonite during his childhood, Kouji shared very few memories with him until his fateful rendezvous with his father. Along with sage advice and a Fire Stone, he also instructed his Dragonite to accompany his son. He claimed that his longtime companion was too docile for his harsh training regime, though in reality, it was a simple act of fatherly precaution. If he had to sacrifice his most powerful asset in order to grant his son a loyal guardian, then he would gladly forego his own ambitions. Proving his strength and determination early on, Kouji nicknamed his father’s companion “Boss,” and he has been the leading powerhouse of Team Ichigaara ever since.

Move-set:
- Outrage
- Fire Punch
- Dragon Claw
- Dragon Dance
- Roost

Team Compatibility:

Wattson- Mutual Respect- Though small, Wattson is rapidly becoming the most adaptable and well-rounded member of the team. Boss tries not to let it go to his head, however, as Wattson still has lots of growing to do.

Croqua- Respect deferred to Boss- Boss took an immediate liking to the eager Croc. Kouji took notice of the chemistry, and made time spent between the two of them a mandatory part of Croc’s training regime. Under Boss’s wing, Croc will surely soar to be a valuable asset to the cause.

Ether- No Respect- Though Ether will submit to Boss’s influence, Boss will have nothing to do with the unstable Ether outside of battle.

Bignacious- Mutual Respect- Though Boss will oftentimes look to Big for counsel, the big guy views Boss as every bit his equal- What Boss lacks in Big’s experience he more than makes up for with power and insight.

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Pokémon Species: Elekid
Pokémon Nickname: Wattson
Pokémon Nature: Impish
History:
Elekid- Kouji met Wattson during a visit to the Power Plant shortly after earning his Cascade Badge. Upon entering, he witnessed the lone Elekid engaged in what appeared to be a territorial dispute against a slew of Grimer. In an attempt to even the odds, Kouji and Hero joined the fray, driving away the opposing Grimer. Upon further investigation, however, the Elekid was defending a family of Pikachu, defending their young who had been poisoned during the battle. With the help of the Elekid, Kouji brought the victims to the nearest Pokemon Centre, and helped them find a home outside of the hostile Power Plant. Impressed with the Elekid’s potential, Kouji asked if he would like to accompany him on his journey. The Elekid wouldn’t be captured without a fight, which Kouji obliged. Though Elekid defeated Kouji, he was surprised that a human would dirty his hands fighting a Pokemon. From then on, the two have grown a mutual respect for each other, and although Wattson tends to goof off more than Kouji would like, Wattson has a special place in Kouji’s team. This also marked the first time Kouji engaged a Pokemon in combat directly, which he later implemented in both his and the rest of his team’s training exercises.

Move-set:
- Thunderbolt
- Cross Chop
- Psychic
- Substitute
- Flash

Team Compatibility:

Croqua- Mutual Respect- These two became best friends shortly after meeting, and have been causing mischief ever since! On the battlefield, the two work together in perfect sync. They may not be the strongest individuals on the team, but their teamwork is something that even the mighty Boss can learn from.

Ether- Respect deferred to Ether- Wattson is the only one on the team who is able to experience a genuinely civil Ether. Perhaps it is because he is the only other special attacker on the team, but Ether has absolutely no qualms about taking Wattson under her wing.

Bignacious- Respect deferred to Bignacious- Big is a big ‘ol softie, and has a bit of a soft spot for the two little ones. When the situation doesn’t call for him to be the “adult,” he oftentimes joins Wattson and Croc in their antics!

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Pokémon Species: Totodile
Pokémon Nickname: Croqua
Pokémon Nature: Hasty
History:
Totodile- During Kouji's push for the Thunder Badge in Vermillion City, he came across a Johto Breeder by the name of Ameria. Curious about the profession of Breeding, Ameria explained that when abroad, Breeders typically make the most money by bringing specific region-elusive Pokemon with them to sell. The universally standard "starter" breeds are typically the most sought after for their growth and versatility. She brought with her many Cyndaquil and Chikorita, but oddly, only one Totodile. According to Ameria, Totodile is one of the least sought after starters from any region, so she only breeds one or two per trip.

Their conversation was cut short, however, by a troop of Rocket grunts who initiated a snatch-n-grab op with the two trainer's Pokemon. They unfortunately succeeded in stealing all but the lone Totodile, who was more than willing to accompany Kouji in the amateurishly obvious trail they left behind. Kouji had dealt with Rockets before, but try as he might to sway Ameria to stay behind, she insisted that she go with him.

The three tracked the grunts down to a crude hideout in Diglett's Cave, where Kouji and Totodile made quick work of the rookie Rockets, successfully netting their Pokemon back. As a reward for getting her bred monsters back (as well as being genuinely impressed with their natural chemistry,) she offered Kouji the Totodile free of charge. She also gave Kouji a photograph of her and a certain scarlet-haired young man with an eyepatch. She inscribed the number of her breeding center, telling Kouji to call that number if he ever wanted a particular Pokemon bred for him.

Move-set:
- Thrash
- Crunch
- Ice Punch
- Waterfall
- Dragon Dance

Team Compatibility:

Ether- Respect deferred to Ether- Although most of the team finds her repulsive, the eager to please Croc sees something in Ether past her irksome nature. Ether makes no qualms about it, relishing in Crocs praise as though she has deserved it all along!

Bignacious- Respect deferred to Bignacious- Unlike Wattson, who has always been capable of fending for himself, Big takes particular caution with Croc. He is always uneasy of seeing the little guy fight, but knows that this is the only way he will grow.

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Pokémon Species: Porygon-Z
Pokémon Nickname: Ether
Pokémon Nature: Naughty
History:
Porygon- Kouji’s sister Maya works as an intern to the world-renown Bill, and one of her projects was to analyze the properties of the cyberspace Pokemon Porygon. Though her primary objective was to observe the qualities of the creature in cyberspace, she had a personal curiosity as to how it would perform in the field under various circumstances. Not having much time to go out into the field, however, Maya sent the Pokemon to Kouji, having him perform the experiments himself.

Porygon2- Phase two of the experiment would inevitably lead to how an evolved Porygon would perform under the same experimental conditions. Issuing the control an Up-Grade, Kouji performed the same experiments with the newly upgraded Porygon2.

Porygon-Z- Unfortunately, the third phase of testing would come to an abrupt end. Although the Dubious Disc exponentially increased the Porygon-Z’s power, it made her quite unstable, erring on the side of masochistic (though it still grudgingly took orders from Kouji.) When he tried to send it back to his sister, Porygon-Z infected Bill’s personal computer with viruses out of sheer malice. Kouji was forced to remove the Pokemon from cyberspace before it corrupted more than just Bills personal computer. Recognizing its destructive power, Kouji aptly named it Ether and it has become part of the team ever since. Also important to note- Though it has no gender, Ether insists on being treated as though it were a female. Perhaps another glitch brought on by the Dubious Disc?

Move-set:
- Tri Attack
- Psyshock
- Ice Beam
- Nasty Plot
- Double Team

Team Compatibility:

Bignacious- Respect deferred to Bignacious- Though grudgingly, Ether acknowledges that Big is the wisest of the Team. Besides Kouji, Big is the only other team member who Ether will willingly submit to.

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Pokémon Species: Snorlax
Pokémon Nickname: Bignacious
Pokémon Nature: Relaxed
History:
Snorlax- The last Pokemon to join Team Ichigaara, not much is known about the beast, save that he is quite a bit older than the rest of the team. While visiting Lavender Town, Kouji came across Mr. Fuji, who seemed to be having a tough time with a grieving Snorlax. After an unfortunate accident near the coast, the Snorlax had lost both his mate and his child to the ocean, and was unable to retrieve their bodies. Mr. Fuji arrived just in time to see the two be taken, and just in time to pacify the beast before he went after them and upped the body count to three. Though unable to find the female Snorlax, Croc was able to swim deep enough to recover the body of the Munchlax. Grateful for his act of selflessness and with nowhere to go, the Snorlax became the sixth and final member of Team Ichigaara. Though it took him a few years to fully recover from the accident, he has since become a big, loveable, wise, and powerful “Bignacious” cat!

Move-set:
- Return
- Brick Break
- Metronome
- Rest
- Sleep Talk


So begins...

Kouji Ichigaara's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kouji Ichigaara Character Portrait: Cassandra Thorne Character Portrait: Kojiro Takashi (WIP:Poke History)
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

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#, as written by Eskay
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Guard duty. Guard. Duty.

Though Kouji had only been a member of Team Cataclysm for a little under a year, the fact that he was actively sought out for his tactical mind and prowess on the battlefield should have at least granted him the opportunity to surpass this scrub work. It's not that he particularly minded being a low-man on the totem poll (he gathered quite quickly that the term "Field Agent" was a fancy synonym for "Peon,") he just was under the impression that he wouldn't be quite as bored doing it.

Nevertheless, recruiting Kouji was a double-edged sword- they knew that his interests lay solely in putting down the criminal syndicate. Unbeknownst to him of course, he was run through the system several time by the Psych Division, who proceeded to advise The Officers not to inform Kouji about their grander aspirations. Kouji had no interest in any new world order- he rather liked things the way they were.

Kouji sat slumped in the parking garage with Hero, Croc and Wattson, leaving Boss and Big to guard the rear entrance. Kouji seldom kept any of his team confined to their Pokeballs (save for the mischievous Ether,) which proved useful in alleviating the need for him to patrol.

The sound of Kojiro's bike was almost music to the zonked Kouji. Slowly rising up, he strode to meet his two superiors, noticing Cassandra taking a very un-Cassandra-like move in allowing herself to ride partner to anybody, let alone the dim-witted Kojiro. He couldn't deny Kojiro's immense power, though, which is all that defines good leadership according to the Cataclysmic Code.

He dusted off his black suit and rubbed his drowsy eyes, addressing his two superiors. "You guys don't look pissed- I guess the op went well?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kouji Ichigaara Character Portrait: Mykeisha Bruma Character Portrait: Cassandra Thorne Character Portrait: Atomsk Walker Character Portrait: Kojiro Takashi (WIP:Poke History)
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"Hey Kouji," Cassandra greeted in response to the inquiry, but she figured that Kojiro would be explaining the rest at some point, and besides that she didn't really have much to say about it. The op went down fine, a few Rockets got pummelled, life was good. Sometimes.

"The op went smooth enough, had a couple followers, but I took care of that I think."Kojiro didn't exactly comment on the eye wear statement. He'd gotten blood in his eye because he took off his goggles to begin with. Instead he settled for taking of his coat to inspect the damage, the thing was naturally riddled with tiny bits of glass- he probably was too. The part that got to him more was a blatant tear towards the tail of his coat, a section roughly the size of his palm was missing. He shrugged it off, it wasn't like that end would carry his scent so much as the smell of where he'd recently walked so a Growlithe would only be able to take a follower to Mt. Hideaway. Just to check, he also unbuttoned his shirt, nothing worth noting in terms of body damage, which meant his own blood would be the most for evidence aside from the Rocket Grunts.

"Right I know Cass wasn't the only one that watched the fight. So what's everyone's opinion on my auditioning the Trio?" He openly asked this over Cataclysms intercom; something told him the local nerds either camera fed the fight to the Team or they managed to stealthily watch it on their own. Since Cataclysm was young he didn't want to make any ill- timed moves. "Also what's everyone thinking, personally after I get patched up I'm thinking some aggressive expansion is in order. That and more members equals more sparring partners, don't suppose anyone has any ideas or alternatives? Maybe some form of casual entertainment?" With that he threw himself on one of the couches in the common room, his clothes could stay on the floor.

At this point, Cassandra stalked into the room, a square red box dangling by the handle from a pair of dark fingers. Striding past Kojiro, she dropped it nonchalantly into his lap, raising a brow at his queries over the intercom but not offering to comment at this point. In truth, her devotion to the larger project of Team Cataclysm was pretty sparing- all she was properly concerned with was getting rid of Team Rocket. Still, she'd do what she had to in order to see this goal accomplished, and filching members (good ones) out from underneath that pompous executive's nose was quite in line with it.

Moving into the kitchen, which was attached to the common room on this floor, she too spoke, and expected that she would be equally as heard. "Fastest way to expand is to get known. Saves us the trouble of finding people to join if they all want to come to us." Rummaging around in a few cupboards, the woman started a kettle over the gas stove and set to chopping some vegetables, clearly more comfortable with a knife than most people had any right to be.

"An idea as tasty as what I'm looking for," a specific "ghost girl" responded as she stuck her head in the refrigerator, without much warning of having entered in the first place.

Cassandra rolled her eyes. It was like none of them knew how to cook or something. "Go sit down, Gastly, I'll take care of it." Shaking her head, the woman lifted the kettle off the burner and replaced it with a skillet, dropping all the things she'd been slicing into it with a sizzle. The water, she moved elsewhere, throwing some tea leaves in to steep for a few minutes. She was pretty sure that if these people didn't have her around, half of them wouldn't ever eat. Much as she professed not to give a damn about any of them, she did care enough that she'd really rather that not happen. So she (grudgingly) cooked at least once a day when she was around, and made enough for at least ten people, so that the leftovers could sit in the fridge until someone remembered that they had a metabolism at two in the morning and wander in as though a kitchen were a foreign concept.

Honestly, she was kind of irritated that her mother had rubbed off on her so badly.

Despite being asked otherwise, Mykeisha decided to walk over to the counter anyhow, simply out of wonder for what she was to expect to be eating later on. Yes, even for a dead woman, Mykeisha had quite the appetite, simply another quirk among her many, many others. "What is it that Miss Thorne is making for us tonight, I wonder..." Mykeisha asked, holding a pink and blue fan over her mouth, gazing into the skillet. Of course, the fact that the last anyone heard of her was that she was trapped in a burning building only a couple hours ago was one that Mykeisha did not make obvious, as she wouldn't even be standing there if she was human, or if she didn't have a Gardevoir.

Sometimes, the urge to smack oneself on the forehead was almost too strong to resist. Cassandra wasn't the most familiar person in the world, and if she didn't like a person, they weren't allowed to call her anything but her name, but she had never liked or encouraged being called 'Miss Thorne.' It was, in fact, how that person had addressed her, and if she'd disliked it before then, she despised it now. Still, one didn't exactly tell Mykeisha something like that and expect her to care or remember. The ghost just did things her own little bizarre way, and the rest of them either put up with it or didn't. "Stir fry," she answered simply, choosing to let the matter drop. The tea was done steeping, though, and she placed several cups on the counter to indicate as much, pouring herself one and leaning up against the surface to drink hers as the food cooked behind her.

Her father had always encouraged the practice of consuming tea after physical activity, and since he was over fifty and still regularly beat the tar out of people half his age, she saw no reason not to maintain the habit even in his absence. If the others chose to, well, their health would be better. If not... no skin off her teeth, anyway.

Strolling into the kitchen at a lethargic pace, Kouji took a seat on a cushion positioned closer to the door than to the rest of the officers. Though he put in a little less than a year's time with the organization, he still felt like a bit of an outcast. He's no stranger to the indifference he wears on his face- it's a flaw that his sister incessantly derides him for.

He did a scan of the room, noting the presence of all but one of the officers. Cassandra took her usual spot preparing the meal for the evening- she put on a tough face, but Kouji could tell that her care for the group went deeper than she probably wanted anyone to pick up on. Head honcho Kojiro was next on his scan, who had sustained some sort of injury to his eye. Kouji reasoned not to bring it up, confident that somebody would do a better job of bringing that up.

Lastly was the mysterious Mykeisha. Though Kouji was a typically accepting person, he never could quite read her. Any attempt to ever engage her in conversation in the past proved fruitless, as she would either be off in her own world, or making claims about her alleged death.

"And Maya told me that I was socially inept..." he thought to himself, giving Wattson and Croc leave to go and play. Hero lay at Kouji's feet, never one to stray too far from his old friend.

It was at this point that Kouji grew weary of being the elephant in the room, and decided to join in on the conversation. "At the risk of overshooting my pay grade, how did the mission go? Doesn't look like we lost anybody."

"I really could care less about this pay grade crap," Kojiro answered while bandaging up what cuts and injuries he got from the glass. "From my end the mission was rather boring, all the effort in planning the thing and a simple charge took care of everything. If anything the trip back was more interesting. Three Grunts from Rocket decided they wanted to dance, and I'm hoping they'll decide to join soon, it's not often you find a three man cell with that level of potential."Kojiro's voice was rather dull as he spoke, after all it wasn't too important now. "But Cass, what do you mean 'get us known'? That could be anything from robbing a bank to going door-to-door asking for members. Also, how long until that disk gets cracked?" He refrained from suggesting they split up despite believing the more things that could be done at once, the better.

"Oh yeah, I should also hit up the Center and get my team patched up. Or is our own medical wing working now?" At this point, his voice once more possessed inflection. In truth, even he didn't know if it was from true concern for his Pokemon or simple lust to get back into battle. "As for losing anyone, I don't know. It's not like I counted who went in and then came out; I kind of assumed that people would just go do their own thing and then we'd all get a call when the disk was cracked."

"Med wing's working, though only the pokemon side," Cassandra replied in her usual languid tones. Pausing a moment to flip the ingredients around in the skillet, she set her tea down and flicked open the communication device on her other wrist with her free hand. "Daisuke says the disk may be a couple hours yet. Personnel check-ins indicate that everyone made it out without incident, but also that Jeremy hasn't shown his face here yet." She shrugged. That wasn't so abnormal. Trying to coordinate the team was kind of like herding Meowth; they all sort of did their own thing and only really came together when it was necessary. Things were probably better that way-- if this whole thing blew up in their faces (and she wasn't an idiot, it probably would), then they'd all be able to move onto the next without too much difficulty.

"As for getting known, well... that's all about getting people to believe that we're worth supporting, isn't it? Trainers aren't the only people we can use. We need popular opinion to keep the police off our backs, and we need financial backing if we're going to keep running expensive operations like this one. End of story." If they didn't manage to find those two things somewhere and somehow, they'd never be able to take down Team Rocket, and that was really the important bit, wasn't it? She'd learned the hard way that you didn't do that kind of thing alone, not with the new leader in charge. That'd get you beaten and trapped in a collapsing building, and more importantly, without your pokemon. The lines of her face hardened at the thought, and her mouth dropped into a scowl. Poking around in the fridge to hide it, she found some rice and reheated it for the stir fry, dropping it in with the rest.

How to go about it was a bit more of a challenge, and she gave it some thought before responding properly. "Well, besides the Gym Leaders, who are the most well-known people in the region? I'd say it's a pretty even tie between TV personalities and radio broadcasters. They're in the spotlight all the time, which is right where we want to be, yeah?" Mercurial, her face shifted into a devilish grin, playful where solemnity had been but moments before. This could be fun.

Atomsk walked into the common area after a particularly brutal training session with Rai and Thai. Atomsk believed that in order to properly communicate with ones Pokémon, one needed to be able to go toe to toe with them. Feel what they feel. This gave Atomsk a particularly toned body. He walked in with Rai and Thai on his heels. He had a noticeably large flow of blood coming from the top of his head, although his hair covered the location of the actual wound. His shirt was still off, and he lit a cigarette as he walked. He walked up to Cassandra, she was in the middle of cooking, and reached into the skillet to grab the plethora of foods mixed into it. He threw the handful into his mouth, and chewed happily. "That's pretty good Cass, although it's lacking spices. Throw in some salt and pepper. but it still needs more than that."

"Well, maybe that's because I haven't added the spices yet, you lug," Cass replied, watching with distaste as Atomsk grabbed a handful of food right out of the skillet. "Honestly, it's like living with barbarians. Didn't your mother ever teach you patience?" She was tempted to smack him with a wooden spoon or something, but he looked like his pokemon had already kicked his ass enough for the day. That would be extra carbos in their food for the next day or two, if she had anything to say about it. "Get your sorry self over to the first-aid kit Kojiro's using or I'll teach it to you, and we don't want that, now do we?"

This sort of banter was more or less the norm for the two of them, as Atomsk was occasionally Cassandra's sparring partner, and therefore subject to a bit more friendliness than the average schmuck. Perhaps unfortunately, she best expressed such goodwill with sarcastic barbs and threats of physical harm. Well, she'd never claimed to be normal, either, and it sort of worked out most of the time, so whatever. Flipping open another cupboard door, she grabbed an array of spices both mundane and exotic and set them down on the counter. Personally, she liked her food hot enough to cause most to sweat, but she toned it down for the less curry-inclined in the group.

"You don't have to tell me to use a damned first aid kit, I was already planning on it." Atomsk got annoyed whenever he was told to do something by Cassandra. He didn't really like his own mother, so getting mothered by Cassandra wasn't something he particularly liked either. He grabbed a hand towel, and wiped the blood from his forehead with it. He grew uncomfortable quickly with so many people around. He didn't like showing off his scars, so he threw on his shirt and tie quickly on his way over to the table Kojiro was sitting it. He grabbed some bandages and rubbing alcohol from the kit. He poured the rubbing alcohol over the wound, not even wincing from the pain, and then wrapped the bandages his head. He took a deep inhale from his cigarette, and breathed out a decent cloud of smoke.

Eevee ran into the room and quickly jumped up onto his shoulder. She nuzzled into him, and he proceeded to pet her. "How long until dinner? I'm hungry as hell!"

Her initial response was to roll her eyes, but she did glance behind her to check on the food. "Two minutes, tops. Anyway, we were just talking business, if you have any input." She waved a hand as if to say it made no difference to her, then cast her eye over the selection of spices, selecting a good four from the bunch and heading back over to the stove. Kojiro could fill him in if there was anything worth passing on, but at this point, it seemed like more summaries of events wouldn't help and it was probably best to just decide on something.

Kojiro finally acknowledged Atomsk's presence when the man helped himself to the first aid kit. He usually got along with man, and even began speaking in a friendly tone. "Got your ass handed-" at that point Kojiro had to suppress a wince from a spike of pain in his skull. For some reason, he'd always get these when around Atomsk for extended periods of time."-to you again I see. Sparring Pokemon can be fun and all, but there's really no reason to go at it so hard core." Kojiro had already finished bandaging himself before Atomsk had gone for the first aid kit, if anything this meant he no longer had to put it away. He stood up and began to walk out of the room, "Well if anyone needs me I'll be in the med bay then. Gotta patch up my team after the little scrap today." Sure he was technically avoiding people at this point in time, but he'd rather avoid the pain in his skull at the moment.

"Cass just save me some, I'm starving. Also don't listen to Atomsk on spices, he likes to fry his tongue."

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Character Portrait: Kouji Ichigaara Character Portrait: Mykeisha Bruma Character Portrait: Atomsk Walker
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#, as written by Hoga
The depths of Kojiro's stupidity never ceased to bewilder Kouji. He sent an open invitation to Rocket Grunts? At this rate, he may as well put up a sign welcoming every Rocket spy to waltz right in and shut down their entire operation! His lack of concern for the return of his troops added further fuel to Kouji's proverbial fire of steadily increasing tension. Even disregarding the blatant lack of concern for the lives of his team, any number of them could have been abducted and interrogated for information. Kouji couldn't fault him for being a quality trainer- perhaps even stronger than Kouji himself was. This was where his merits ended, however, and he fervently began to wonder what the rest of the Officers saw in him.

Before he could protest, though, Kojiro left the room with Atomsk, a Cataclysm Agent like himself. Kouji held a great deal in common with Atomsk, sharing his philosophy that if a Trainer wasn't capable of taking a punch from a Pokemon, then he had no business calling himself their master. He had always meant to join him in some of his training sessions, but his recent surge of grunt work had proved difficult to get in any form of training, conjoined or otherwise. Eager to give Kojiro a piece of his mind, Kouji beckoned the half of his team currently with him to follow as he pursued the commander and his friend. Before he could protest his recent decision-making, however, he stopped to overhear the pair's conversation.

He paid no heed to the initial small talk, instead focusing in on Atomsk's concern over Kojiro's memory. Though Kojiro certainly wasn't winning any awards for efficient brainpower, Kouji had no doubt that something as significant and long-term as an old friend would easily slip even Kojiro's mind. Before he could begin to further assess the conversation, however, Kojiro threw yet another curve ball- ordering Atomsk to track down some girl that he saw whilst recruiting the Grunts. Kouji sensed a faint twinge of hesitance from his fellow agent, though he couldn't interperet anything deeper than that. It was then that Kouji resolved to accompany Atomsk on this new mission.

It wasn't that he particularly cared to get in Kojiro's good graces, or even about getting to the bottom of this mysterious girl he knew. Rather, he wanted to pick Atomsk's brain about the man he was taking orders from. He often thought about probing the other Officer's minds (Cassandra in particular- she seemed to have a good head on her shoulders,) but in retrospect, someone who seemed to be a little closer to him may have more insight to alleviate Kouji's concerns, or at the very least, advice on how to take him out of his ill-deserved position. Besides, he wasn't exactly in close with any of the officers yet- at this point in time, Atomsk was the closest thing to a friend in the organization that Kouji had.

In addition to the faux detective work, Kouji was simply bored and needed something to do. He was also genuinely interested in perhaps getting to know Atomsk, seeing as the two shared almost identical philosophies both concerning Pokemon and personal life in general. Seeing the two break away, Kouji took this time to head to the back entrance and round up the remainder of his team. Filling them in on what the situation was, the six of them (with only Ether being confined to her Pokeball,) headed to the front entrance to meet their hopeful partner in this new undertaking. He didn't have to wait long before Atomsk showed up, his team also characteristically absent from their Pokeballs.

"Hey Atomsk," Kouji greeted, meeting him halfway, "Couldn't help but overhear that you're doing some recon on a suspicious Trainer. Would you mind if I tagged along? They've had me doing grunt work practically since I got here, so I'm dying for something to do."

Atomsk was somewhat startled. He wasn't expecting company. He had just lit another cigarette, and nearly dropped it after being surprised. He looked behind him to see Kouji. He took a deep breath in at the question of if he could tag along. He wasn't looking for company, especially on this mission, but He liked Kouji somewhat, and figured getting to know someone on Team Cataclysm wouldn't be such a bad thing. "Yeah, I suppose that's fine. But I want it to be clear that I'm in charge. I'm on something important for Kojiro, and its something that only I can handle correctly."

Kouji held back a chuckle, finding it humorous that everyone in this organization vied for charge of some form or fashion. Still, he was in no position to protest, nor did he have any particular desire to boss around his potential ally. "Sure, that's fair," Kouji responded, looking around at the large number of monsters that had materialized, "If you don't mind me making a suggestion, though, I notice that we've got a small army here. I know neither of us like keeping our friends here in their Pokeballs, but if our job is to tail this girl, then we should put our personal philosophy aside." With that, Kouji withdrew each member of his team to their respective custom Pokeballs, save for Hero.

"If we keep one out each, we'll be able to handle an ambush without the extra step of determining a fighter and fumbling with their Pokeball."

Atomsk looked over to Kouji with a nasty glare. He must have been spying on him and Kojiro. He wouldn't be able to know about his mission otherwise. He took another drag from his cigarette, fairly irritated now. He looked back to his team. He wouldn't really need them, but he had no Pokéballs to speak of. Not that he needed any for anyone other then Sumo. He turned around, walking backwards as he looked towards his team. He spoke up for them to hear. "Spread out guys! I need to be alone for this one." They did as he asked, and wandered off in their own directions, save for Eevee who remained on his shoulder. Atomsk turned back around, continuing his brisk walk with Kouji in tow. He looked to him. "First off, No Pokémon for this one. We're going in alone. We don't have to worry about fights or ambushes. Second, I don't take kindly to spying, so you're going to tell me everything you heard, got it?"

Kouji's respect for Atomsk was dwindling rather rapidly. He didn't bat at eyelash when Kouji mentioned tailing an anonymous Trainer, but once Kouji divulged his knowledge about her gender, Atomsk's proverbial "beast mode" engaged. This led Kouji to believe that it wasn't his inadvertent espionage that set Atomsk off, but his potential knowledge of the Trainer herself. Whatever the catalyst was for Atomsk's angst was didn't concern Kouji, however- it was his amateurish disregard for potential threats. There was no way Kouji was going on any sort of op without his team. It was both foolish and rather silly, considering the technology existed to bring them along without actually dragging them along. There's a reason why they were called 'Pocket Monsters.'

"You call it spying, yet you weren't going out of your way to conceal your conversation," Kouji retorted, recalling Hero to his Pokeball, "Terribly sorry that I overheard, but you weren't exactly keeping it down to a dull roar. As for what I heard, it was nothing more than some small talk and some business about memories. The only thing I latched onto was the talk of this Trainer Kojiro was concerned about."

He also added, "And you'll forgive me if I don't exactly jump on board with leaving my team here, not when I can literally put them in my pocket. I'll refrain from walking around with them, but I see no advantage to willingly leaving them here, when I can essentially 'go it alone' while having easy access to them."

"Sorry if I made it seem like you have to leave them right here. Having them in Pokéballs is fine. And besides, we have nothing to worry about. We're not going into this as blind as you think we are. I know the target. We have no reason to worry. I'm not being a fool." Atomsk's smile was long wiped from his face. He held his cigarette in his mouth, and shoved his hands into his jacket pockets, pouting. He looked over to Kouji once again. He guess he really couldn't complain about him overhearing the conversation. It still bugged him though. It was alright though. They hadn't really gotten too far into details about anything. It meant he was still in the clear.

"When we get there, I want you to hang back when I talk to the girl. Go gather other info, whatever you see fit, but I really need to talk to her alone.........alright..........?"

Kouji nodded at Atomsk's rationale, deciding to chalk it up to a misunderstanding and left it at that. Keeping Atomsk's pace, he awaited another verbal lashing regarding his eavesdropping, which fortunately didn't come. This partnership had started off rather rocky, and Kouji was anxious to get it back on track.

He listened carefully to Atomsk's last instructions, simply responding, "Sure thing." Kouji saw no reason to dispute his request- this mission was beginning to sound like more and more of a personal nature rather than quashing the Rocket's ambitions. Besides, Kouji had no real attachment to solving this 'mystery' at that current point in time, so granting Atomsk this act of obedience may prove to ease the tension a little.

Atomsk was somewhat suprised by Kouji's easy response He wondered if he really would hang back, but doubting him wouldn't do any good. He decided to give him another chance. "Good. Thanks." Atomsk took another drag from his stub of a cigarette, and spat it to his side, putting another one in his mouth. As he lit it, he addressed Kouji again. "So is there a particular reason you decided to tag along? You've kept to yourself since you joined. You don't seem to be like the rest of everyone here."

"Cabin fever, mostly." Kouji replied, "I've done nothing but guard HQ and babysit the analysts since I've been here, so I could use some fresh air. We've also got similar philosophies, so I figured getting to know you would be pretty cool too."

He added, "As for my 'one man wolf pack' routine, I guess that's been kind've two pronged." He took a moment to inhale, "I've got this thing where my face doesn't exactly express my intentions. Apparently, I always have a look of indifference on my face, which I'm sure has turned of more than a few people away from me. Which sucks, because I'm generally pretty empathetic."

He paused, "However, something else has kind've been bothering me. I was actively sought out and recruited for my skillset- battling and strategizing, essentially. But I've been in the group a little less than a year, and I've done nothing more invovled than guard duty and the occasional mop-up of residual Rockets at the outset of an op. It's not that I mind being low-man on the totem pole, but I'm curious as to why they'd hire me to do a job and then prevent me from doing it."

"Well I'm glad you took an active interest in me I guess. It's nice to know someone here is at least some form of socialable. I'm sorry that you face is deceiving, but it is what it is. You've got to try to work past it."

Atomsk paused. He had a few suspicions as to why Kouji was kept at arms length. Despite Kojiro's erratic behavior as of late, he still held some semblance of intelligence. He probably knew the Kouji was still a wild card. A loose cannon. If he knew everything about Cataclysm, he would probably quit. Kouji needed eased into it. He needed to be turned to their said.

Heh, "their" side. He spoke as if he was one of them. In a way he was. Although the true reason he was here was to save his friend. He wasn't sure who or what he was anymore. He was losing himself to this desperate pursuit. He wondered if he would be able to save Kojiro. And if he could save Kojiro, could he save himself? He wasn't sure he could come back from this.

Atomsk snapped out of his self induced trance after nearly tripping over a rock. He hurridly responded to the other half of Koujis question after he came back to his senses. "I think you know why you're being kept so far from the heart of things. You're insightful enough to discern that."

Kouji chuckled at Atomsk's remark, "You sound like my sister, except for the being genuine part. Maya typically bitched at me until I faked a smile. Come to think of it, that was the last thing she told me before she left to work with the Pokemaniac Bill!"

Kouji's reminisince was short lived, however, as he noticed Atomsk's abrupt lapse at the mention of Kouji's latter concern. This didn't bother him so much- Atomsk potentially had information that superseded Kouji's 'need-to-know' level and may have required time to filter through what was safe to divulge. It was his verbal response that hit Kouji with a strange feeling, though he couldn't pinpoint why. What was Atomsk's angle in all of this?

Eager for answers, Kouji decided to ease into the role of the inquisitor, "Well I'll thank you for the compliment. I always assumed I was just being shown the ropes and earning trust. Guess I've just got to wait it out a little longer." This was a hardly the truth, though Kouji decided not to push the topic any further until he knew he could completely trust Atomsk. "If you don't mind me saying, I'd say that you're also a little different from the make-up of the typical Cataclysm-er. Mind if I ask what keeps you around?"

Atomsk wasn't really looking to divulge a large amount of information to Kouji. "Well as I'm sure you can tell, I'm defiantly not all for Cataclysm. I'm here for something more. I made a promise and I intend to keep it." Atomsk wasn't happy about giving away even this little bit of information. But from what Kouji heard earlier, he was sure that not a lot was left to the imagination. "Kojiro. He's why I stick around."

Atomsk looked down again, lost in thought. He wasn't usually this down, but the topics had been touchy for one, and it put him in an uncomfortable place. He took another huge drag, and let it out, calming himself down some.

Kouji was surprised- not only was Atomsk far more up-front than Kouji had expected, but he may have revealed more than he intended. Why wouldn't Atomsk be 'all for Cataclysm?' The organizations purpose was to eliminate Team Rocket, right? What's not to be 'all for' about that?

Considering the nature of their current relationship, Kouji reasoned that it was probably better not to bring this new point to fruition- at least not now. If anything, though, Kouji now knew that Atomsk was a man of character, and somebody that he could definitely trust down the road.

There were more puzzle pieces to be put together, but that would come later, as Kouji still had a job to do. "That's...pretty noble of you, Atomsk." Kouji responded genuinely, "I don't know what the nature of you guys' relationship is, but I hope that whatever is going on gets solved. If there's anything I can do, let me know."

This was the first time in the conversation that Kouji's words didn't have an ulterior motive. Now that he knew Atomsk was a friend (or could be, at least,) he could afford to let down his guard a little. "Well, you've been pretty open with me, so I'm willing to follow suit. I'm an open book- ask me anything you'd like!"

"Well I'm not really sure what to ask man. I guess I'm confused why YOU are here. You're a lot closer to me then anyone else. I wonder why you stick around. I have a motive. But what about you?"

Even without knowing Cataclysms true intentions, Koujji seemed out of place here. He was disciplined and fairly normal, not at all like the other members. The violent nature of the group would be enough to scare most off. But Kouji stuck around, even while being kept at arms length. It made Atomsk raise more then one eyebrow at Kouji and his situation.

It was a fair question, and one that Kouji didn't feel the need to falsify. "My motive for sticking around? I wish I had one as selfless as you, to be honest. My goal is simple- to get rid of Team Rocket, or at least do my part in helping to disband 'em. My family's run into some semblance of trouble at their hand, and I've also been ambushed a few times. I'm tough, but not foolish enough to attempt to take down an entire syndicate by myself. When the Cataclysm recruiters approached me with this gig, every fiber of my being told me to steer clear."

He stopped for a minute, realizing that he was about to make himself somewhat vulnerable to (essentially) a complete stranger, "I've always had kind of an easy life. My family inherited a pretty successful custom Pokeball shop in Celadon, so we've always been pretty well off. I always had a pretty rigid schedule and never really dealt with much conflict outside of Pokemon battles. Not really wanting much to do with confrontation, however, I typically never stood for much. I don't think Dad liked that too much, though he'd never say it to my face. I guess I got to thinking about it, and decided that not only could I do something good, but this could also be my chance to take a stand against something big, something threatening. I don't like things hurting me or my family, but I guess my ulterior motive is more self-actualization."

He took a deep breath- it was refreshing being able to open up to an actual human being for once, "Once this job got posed and I got my thoughts sorted out, that was it. I guess that's what keeps me here- some naive sense of protecting and being a part of something bigger than myself. A little selfish maybe, but I guess thwarting an evil syndicate will supercede the quest for ones self in the history books."

Atomsk wasn't sure whether or not to be happy or sad about the blissful ignorance the Kouji lived in. If only he knew. From this short conversation, Atomsk guessed that Kouji's views would definitely clash with Cataclysm. Atomsk was happy. A pure soul. He hope Kouji would be able to stay that way. But the unfortunate truth was that not a lot of people can keep from being corrupted.He hoped that Kouji would be one of the few who would not succumb.

He thought to himself, should he reveal the truth to him? He thought about it, but he would not do it. Despite him not enjoying this path, he would not betray the feelings of his friend. He would let the issue lie for now, although he wished to keep others away from this dark path.

"Yeah. We will definitely go down in history man. But let me impart some advice onto you. Don't lose yourself. You're one of the good ones. I don't want to see someone like you fall. I've seen too many people lose themselves to an obsession." Myself included.......he thought to himself.

Kouji was strangely comforted by the encouragement of his new friend. He wasn't too much older than Kouji, yet that somehow seemed even more reassuring. Was Atomsk hiding something? Most assuredly- however, (for the moment anyway,) this was enough. Atomsk surely had issues of his own, and just getting to become this close with somebody on the team would prove to be quite a boon.

Genuinely touched by his concern, Kouji let a smile escape his lips, "Heh, I'll do my best man. Thanks for the concern, I really do appreciate it."

Between the two of them sizing each other up and engaging in an abrupt heart to heart, the two had come across a town. Kouji wasn't sure if this was the target area or not, but decided to make himself scarce anyway, "Looks like we're here...maybe? In any case, I've got some things I need to pick up from the Mart. I'm gonna run on ahead- come grab me when we're ready to move on."

"Lost yourself yet?" a woman's voice piped up behind Atomsk. Mykeisha was standing there, perhaps a little too close for a human, smiling lips covered by a fan.

Atomsk had lost one companion and gained another one in almost the same moment. He was a little uncomfortable with the distance between the two of them. He took a few steps back, putting a bit of distance between the two of them, before addressing the woman. "You give me far too little credit Mykeisha. I've braved the wilds long enough to know how to make it from point A to point B."

"Oh, you know I didn't mean that," Mykeisha grinned under her fan, "I see you've been somewhat busy, but the Boss gave you a task, didn't he? You don't mind me tagging along, do you?"

"Jesus, I really wanted to go this one alone. although I guess it can't be helped at this point. You're getting the same orders I gave Kouji though. No Pokémon. No fighting. And I talk to the girl alone. No eavesdropping either." 'No fun,' Mykeisha added in her mind. Atomsk tossed another cigarette butt to the side of the road. Eevee, yawned and jumped off his shoulder as he did this, and began to trot next to him. He stuck another cigarette in his mouth. He usually didn't smoke this much, but he had an uncomfortable day, and was anxious for what the rest of the day had in store.

Mykeisha simply giggled, as if she found some part of Atomsk's attitude amusing. 'And which one of us is superior?', she thought, after all, she was one of the very first members of Team Cataclysm. She did have suspicions of Atomsk's attitude, of which she had confirmed on her own secret accord, but she wasn't going to do anything about it. Why? Perhaps for her own oh-so-mysterious reasons.

There could be many reasons for it, one could theorize, why she does this stuff. After all, Mykeisha was in a similar state as Kojiro. They'd been seperated from the ones they'd cared about. Of course, Kojiro had no memory of his missing one. But he had somebody to help him, who cared for him. Perhaps that was the reason Mykeisha did nothing about Atomsk. She didn't know all the details involving him personally, but she only needed to know the jest of it. However, Mykeisha...
"Well then, Mister Leader, lead the way before she escapes."


"Escape? Escape from what?" Atomsk was wondering what she ment by escape. Was Junko captured? Was she on the move again? Mykeisha however, did another but giggle, twirl around, fan held out to her side, as she went passed Atomsk, nearly grazing him with her dress, and continued walking on, signalling Atomsk to follow.

"I don't like being taken for a ride Mykeisha!" He said as he picked up his pace to catch up to her, as she has bounded ahead of his quite easily. "What do you mean?" The tone of his voice was clearly unhappy. Distressed even. He hoped that this would give her a reason to tell him what she meant, but he knew it would take a bit more prodding to get anything useful out of her.

Honestly , Mykeisha thought, the man was hopeless. She spun to face him. "Tell me, what's mystery woman to you anyway?" Mykeisha asked.

Atomsk grew angry quite quickly. He really didn't like revealing things about himself, and revealing anything about him and Junko was something he was even less willing to do. "Last time I checked I didn't answer to you Mykeisha. It's none of your business anyways. It's important to Kojiro AND myself. And that's all you're getting."

"Oh, so stingy, but so pink, like a Clampearl in comparison." Mykeisha complained.

"Yeah well I'm not one for letting others in. Sorry to dissapoint." Atomsk threw the last butt to the ground. Junko didn't know he smoked. He was sure would take a little heat for it, but he was sure it wouldn't bug her too much. Still, he felt as if he had to hide it for some reason. They were close now. It wasn't a long walk by any means. He stopped when he say a group dealing with some Rocket Grunts some distance away. And there she was. Junko. How long had it been. At least a year. A bit longer then that. He remembered. The last time he saw her was the day before Kojiro disappeared. He had told her to meet him outside their hometown of Cerulean. In the clearing past the bridge where they used to watch the stars. It seemed so far away now. Hell, it seemed like a different life. A different him. He never showed up. He found out about Kojiro. And he began his search. What would she say? How would she feel? He wasn't sure, but at this point, he really didn't care. He wanted to see her, regardless of the insults and scolding that were likely to come from it. He looked to Mykeisha. "Well, this is where we part. I've got business to take care of." He left her to her own devices, and began his brisk walk towards the group. He slowed his walk as he got closer, each step feeling heavier then the last. He stopped short, but close enough that she could hear him. "Junko....' He said before pausing, unsure how to address her from here.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Kouji Ichigaara Character Portrait: Mykeisha Bruma Character Portrait: Kenji Akihiko Character Portrait: Atomsk Walker Character Portrait: Junko Takashi Character Portrait: Ravenna Fiori Character Portrait: Kael Skye
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"I agree, they obviously are not the ones we need...probably too ignorant to have information entrusted to them," Junko stated flatly to Kenji's question. As she made to turn around towards the city, the call of her name stopped her in her tracks and she turned towards the source. Messy black hair and familiar blue eyes caused Junko's own eyes to widen a bit before narrowing dangerously thin. She stampered towards the male, her finger pointed towards him in what was supposed to be an intimidating appearance.

"You!" she shouted, as she poked the male in his chest, "You left me there without a word! Do you know how long I stayed at that clearing waiting for you!" her voice growing a decibel with each word. She resisted the urge to slap Atomsk as her hand flew up. She placed it down at her side before sighing. Turning towards her group, she shook her head before returning her attention towards Atomsk.

"You and I have a lot to catch up on, but we have other pressing matters at hand. Our business will have to wait," she spoke, her tone in a flat, monotonous style. In all honesty she was seething. He had told her to meet him the day before Kojiro disappeared at a small clearing. It was one of her favorite spots as a child as the three of them used to stare at the stars, counting them, naming them, silly things like that. She waited for hours and he never showed. Kovaa had woken her up the next day as she had fallen asleep in the clearing, waiting for Atomsk to appear. It seemed important, at least to him and she was furious when he never showed.

Atomsk smiled. Strangly enough, he enjoyed the scolding. Just like old times. She turned away and put her attention on the Rocket Grunts once more. He looked forward to talking to her. He walked up behind her and wrapped a single arm around her shoulders. He gave her a tight hug. "It's good to see you again." He said, leaning down so he could whisper it to her.

He let go, and walked over to a nearby building. He leaned up against it, observing from a distance. He made sure he was in sight, that way Junko knew he wasn't going to run. It was then that Nano began yelling at him. He looked down to the Pokémon. She looked upset. He leaned his head to the side, a signal to jump onto his shoulder. Nano complied, and began playfully chewing on his ear once she was a top her perch, She growled angrily. Atomsk could tell she was jealous. He raised his hand to pet the small Eevee. She ceased her chewing and enjoyed Atomsk's affection, although it was clear on her face that she was still unhappy.

Atomsk looked intently at the group. He knew what he had been ordered to do. Saving the grunts. But he had no such plans. He was going to let them be captured. This was a small act of defiance. All he would allow himself. He wondered what Junko and her companions would do to them. He pushed the thought from his mind. Not really caring in all honesty. They were Team Rocket. Scum as far as he was concerned. Although he was no better. He smiled to himself. He couldn't be sad now. Junko was here. He looked forward to catching up.

A woman stood among the trees, off of the clearing, and grinned, a Beautifly fluttering around her, despite such a Pokemon not being native to Kanto. Clearly Atomsk had some kind of connection with Mystery Woman. Mykeisha always felt as if she needed to 'know things' about mysterious people, probably out of, and her Boss was first on that list, and if she was bored again, she'd find stuff about her seemingly not-as-interesting teammates. She'd gotten a clue Atomsk was involved with him in some way. Of course, she wasn't a direct person, and Atomsk wasn't the most open of people either. So, she got most information by eavesdropping all the time, and the fact she was a ghost really helped with that, which is why she could simply stand in semi-clear view and simply observe behind people, or even in front of them, though the latter wasn't the case. She was only interested in Atomsk's peculiar decisions and the identity of the mystery woman, whom of which Mykeisha knew little else than her existence. Of course she had yet to notice somebody else whom of which would have been much more important to her.

Kael eyed the man as he walked into view with a little more caution than he normally would have when dealing with strangers. The man's whole demeanor seemed to scream shady to Kael. The fact that the guy didn't seem at all at odds with the fact that there were three members of the most notorious criminal band in the region was a clear warning indicator in his eyes. Or eye rather... He thought ruefully.

Junko seemed to know the man though as she stalked over and, less than subtly, began greeting the newcomer. Even with her obvious knowledge of the man, Kael frowned. He wondered if it might be her brother she spoke of finding, but dismissed the fact based on the way she was dealing with the appearance of the new guy. Kael leaned a little closer to Ravenna to see what her thoughts were regarding this new development. "Who do you suppose he is?" Even though the man didn't appear all that hostile, Kael still kept a hand close to his belt, ready to call on his own Pokemon in a moment's notice.

Ravenna looked a bit distracted, though her eyes were fixed on what was quite obviously an emotional reunion. She didn't need empathy to tell her that. But that man... he was such a dull shade of blue-grey, as though he'd once been brighter, but all the color had bled right out of him. She almost didn't notice, though, because something pinged on the edge of her awareness, the sensation of another's presence. It would have gone unnoticed in a city as large as this, with a population so dense, but it was too familiar for her not to notice. And yet... it couldn't be. Surely, her mind was playing tricks on her. Kei was dead. She'd dreamed her friend's demise as though she'd lived it, and the end had felt so final. Kei had known she was going to die, and then there had been only blackness. It was a nightmare that still gave her shudders, and unconsciously, Ravenna brought her hands up to wrap around her biceps, as though trying to ward off the cold.

She might have even turned around, but Kael spoke then, and the question let her focus on something much less worrisome than old memories. Tilting her head to one side owlishly, she blinked as he walked away, taking up residence against the side of a building. "A Minun to a Plusle," she said softly. A friend, perhaps even a counterpart; it was too muddled to tell. Feelings weren't things she always understood, even if she could detect them, and in the end, Junko's irritation overpowered nearly everything but the affection anyway. The depth of that, she couldn't gauge, but it seemed important.

It was all a few too many developments for her, perhaps, and with the niggling sensation of being watched in the back of her mind, she chewed absently on her lip and turned back to the Rocket Grunts. By now, though, they weren't alone. Of course not; the events had caused major structural damage, and people were beginning to gather. In the distance, she could hear police sirens-- in all likelihood, someone had called in the officers. The Grunts were by now looking very uncomfortable, but clearly too frightened of Kenji to risk running away. The blond one felt resigned, if irritated, and the other two weren't even thinking clearly enough to read, probably as overwhelemed by the goings-on as she was. The milieu of emotion and thought here was making her feel faintly nauseous, and she swallowed thickly.

"The police will be here soon," she announced, seemingly to everyone and no one simultaneously. "Maybe we should..." she stopped, truly unsure as to how to continue the thought. Press on to Vermillion? Would Junko's friend want to come? Would the others prefer to stay? She found herself unable to ask the questions, her brain addled by the intensity of what was occurring.

"Yeah, I suggest we book it. The fuzz gives me the jitters and I don't like the look we're paintin'. The last thing I want is to be affliated with these fools," Kenji suggested, backing away from the trio of Rocket's and back toward his own group. The first thing he noted was the arrival of a stranger pairing off with Junko. This earned an arched eyebrow from Kenji and a look to Light. Both shrugged at each other in unison. "Yappin' isn't gettin' us anywhere quick, so let's get this show on the road, yeah? I say we leave these stiffs to their own devices." Kenji posited. He really didn't want to have anything to do with the police. "Dunno, but we can find out later," Kenji answered Kael.

"We still got a job to do, and we can't do it if we're bein' questioned."

"Yeah, because everyone loves talking about everything and nothing all at once," Junko replied to Kenji. She turned her attention towards Ravenna as she spoke up. Taking a final glance towards Atomsk through the corners of her eyes, she returned her attention towards Ravenna and smiled. "We should press on towards Vermilion. We should leave these guys," Junko stated, jabbing her thumb in the direction of the grunts, "to Officer Jenny," she finished, crossing her arms against her chest. She tossed a glance over her shoulder towards Atomsk.

"If you are coming with us, I suggest you come introduce yourself to the group. I am not doing that for you," she shouted over her shoulder and smiled back to the group. "Shall we?" she asked as she began walking away from the group. She didn't want to waste any more time by standing around doing absolutely nothing to help further her goal. And to find Bill's Pokemon of course.

Kouji departed the Mart a few supplies wealthier, and Croqua gaining a berry to hold onto. Croc was especially vulnerable to to status infections, so Kouji figured that a Chesto Berry would help his developing immune system some. As he began to reunite with Atomsk, however, he noticed that the pair of them had suddenly become quite a handful!

Not really attempting to stay out of sight, himself and Croc stood at the outskirts of the Mart. Kouji was a fair distance away, but still close enough to make out significant features in each of the new faces. Closest to Atomsk was a female trainer whose posture signified a persona of confidence. He heard her say something in an irritated tone towards his companion, though he couldn't decipher anything coherent.

"That's gotta be the chick Atomsk was ordered to tail..." Kouji reasoned, seeing only one other girl present.

Other girl? Kouji's eyes were immediately drawn to the trainer farther back, closer to the red-haired trainer. Her stance seemed withdrawn, indicating that she felt withdrawn, or at least introverted from the rest of her companions.

Before he could indulge in this girls beauty, however, Kouji was drawn to the other two trainers present. He wasn't so much interested in the brawny guy, but rather the crimson-haired trainer who stood comforting this beauty. He seemed familiar, though he couldn't put his finger on why exactly...

There was a lot to think about- it didn't help that the group appeared to be moving. Police sirens could be heard in the distance, and as the group pressed onward, the apprehended Rocket Grunts came into sight. It was here that Kouji needed orders- should he stay behind and be Atomsk's backup, or head back to HQ? He stayed within eyesight- if the other members saw him, then so be it, but he needed confirmation from his "leader" now on what his priorities should be. As curious as Kouji was now about these 'friends' of Atomsk, Kouji's task was complete.

"Wait, what?!"

He blurted out the statement without thinking as Junko called out to the 'scruffy' newcomer leaning against a building. Kael had been, rather enthusiastically, nodding along as Kenji suggested leaving the site and the grunts behind to continue on their own 'errand' while dodging the, arduously long, questions of the local police; but his nodding was interrupted as the new individual was invited over and, even more so, to accompany them. Junko seemed to know him, but still....

His arrival seemed to be all too convenient in Kael's mind. Perhaps the appearance of the Rockets and the days' events were starting to get to him and he was possibly becoming paranoid, or maybe Ravenna's '...Minun to a Plusle..." comment was still lingering in his head as well. But the nagging feeling persisted in the back of his mind when he looked over the man once more. "Hmph..." Kael let out the sound without warning as he gave up on trying to rationalize everything. "Let's just go, this waiting around is starting to grate on..."

He left his sentance trail off as he caught the sight of someone standing out from the scenery. The wiry, black-haired youth stood staring at their group from a distance, not showing any signs of coming closer or retreating. At first, Kael thought the guy was curious about three Rockets in the middle of the streets, but his eyes seemed to be locked on to where Ravenna and Kael stood, a bit away from the Rockets.

Not remembering a time anyone had stared at Kael for more than a few seconds before averting their eyes, he surmised the man must be staring at the pink-haired woman next to him. Kael lifted his eye again as he realized he had just been 'checking her out' himself as he mulled the question over in his head. "Uh..." he tapped Ravenna lightly on the shoulder and pointed in the direction of the man, "I think you have an admirer..."

"You sure he ain't yours champ? You're quite the handsome catch," Kenji teased as he followed Junko away from the center of trouble they've found themselves in. In his eyes, the further away from the fuzz, the better.

"Eh?" Ravenna emerged from her distracted thought process at the statement, following the direction Kael was indicating, trying to decide if she recognized the person there. But she didn't, and she shook her head. "I don't think so," she replied simply, if with a small amout of residual puzzlement. It wasn't like she'd never been stared at before; people had done so all the time back home, largely because they thought her weird. Folk were naturally curious, and she didn't let that sort of thing bother her.

That said, this situation was hardly the most comfortable overall, and her shoulders slumped in visible relief when the group started moving again by consensus. The man Junko had spoken to hadn't moved yet, but she knew, in that strange way she sometimes knew things, that the faded fellow would not be leaving them quite yet. Being a relatively trusting sort, she shared none of Kael's reservations about this. Junko, despite her words, did not seem uneasy to have him around, and that was enough for her, at least for the moment. Maybe, when they were further away from the crowd and all the distraction, she'd put her more unique talents to use, but they were all but pointless with so many people in such close proximity, all of them feeling one thing or another with strength: anxiety, suspicion, curiosity... it was a heady mix, certainly.

Eager to be away from this place, Ravenna spared one last look for the Rockets and followed in the wake of Junko and Kenji, already anticipating the relative peace and quiet of the road. She'd not quite expected this much excitement when she'd awoken this morning, that was for sure.

To Mykeisha's disappointment, she could hardly hear a word of what any of these people were saying. Not to mention that nothing hugely interesting was going on, the most intriguing thing was probably the tied up Rocket grunts (and perhaps one of the girls had some of the most beautiful pink hair she'd ever seen). She contemplated letting them escape, but decided against it. Mykeisha decided it was best to return to the base, so she could eat, and hopefully something interesting was going on. That was how Mykeisha operated, to her own amusement, which came in the form of curiosity. However, witnessing a fellow spy, she decided there was one more thing she could do, and hid behind a tree.

"Hello, Mister Stalker." the ghost woman's voice greeted behind Kouji, in a similar matter as she did to Atomsk, being rather close to him like the creeper she was. How she ended up there as if she appeared out of thin air was unexplainable beyond the Pokémon universe.

Mykeisha's sudden appearance quite startled the usually un-flappable Kouji, though her meddlesome demeanor hardly surprised him. Croc was even more startled, to the point that he began angrily chattering at her, bearing his fearsome teeth with hopes of intimidating her. "Oh my," she responded to the pokemon in false astonishment, bringing fan up to her face.

"You're lucky I didn't bring my sword- with my reflexes the way they are, I might've cut you in two..." Kouji retorted, quickly withdrawing Croc to avoid drawing further attention to himself, "And I'm not stalking anybody. Atomsk is in charge of the op- I'm waiting for his word while observing these other guys. They look friendly enough, but you can't be too sure."

" And again I am asked the question of why a Psyduck gets a headache when another one already has, I've already taken care of it." she responded.

Kouji scratched his head, "And I had been doing so well avoiding this crazy chick...oh well, may as well indulge her and be done with it..."

He was in no way interested in anything this bizarre officer had to say- still, if Atomsk was simply going to send the two back to HQ, it may be good to get in cozily with another officer should things turn sour. Kouji's recent conversation with Atomsk left him with the impression that not all was what he thought Team Cataclysm would be. Not that he didn't have his suspicions before- he simply needed to hear it from a fellow member.

Mustering all of the patience and mock interest he could, Kouji spoke, "So, Mykeisha, what brings you here? Atomsk was pretty deadset on doing this op alone- I imagine curiosity got the better of you?" He made sure to take a few steps back, being understandably uncomfortable next to the woman who believed she was dead.

"Well, I could ask the same question, but as I said about the Psyducks..." she faltered a bit and gazed at Atomsk. "A servant like yourself wouldn't mind doing one task for me, call it a dying will, if you may." she played with her fan and glanced at him. "After all, we had so much fun this morning without you, right? You must be becoming like me to do something new and exciting, right?"

Kouji went from confused to irritated in a matter of milliseconds. He had learned to simply go with the flow when she started spouting off nonsense like the bizarre Psyduck analogy, but he wasn't too keen on being referred to as a servant. It was bad enough that he was technically supposed to take orders from her, but being belittled at her expense was where he drew the line. Especially when he was fairly sure that he was every bit her equal in a fight.

"Let's get something clear- I can't do anything about you pulling rank, but nowhere in my contract did it say I had to put up with being called your servant. I'm getting paid to fight Rockets and run ops for you guys, not put up with your bullshit." Kouji paused to let himself cool down- he was usually good about keeping his emotions in check, but something about this bizarre woman rubbed him the wrong way.

Composing himself, he calmly replied, "...in any case, it sounds like this 'task' of yours is gonna be more of an order. If that's the case, I'm all ears."

Mykeisha frowned under her blue and pink 'mask', but then went back to smiling, as if never offended at all. "Ever hear the expression, 'ghosts have no mouths'? Anyway, I was hoping you'd follow Atomsk, if you please, for the Boss's sake, perhaps? He's not in trouble, but I want you to report his actions to me whenever possible, alright?" she ended with a light smile, but then she turned to face away from Kouji.

Kouji put both of his hands into the pockets of his black dress pants, putting the weight on his hind leg. Was Mykeisha serious? Why would she be interested in the happenings of Atomsk? Even more curious still was why she was asking him to do it, when she was more than capable of spying herself. Either way, Kouji wasn't having any of it, and he had justification to refuse this order.

"Sorry, but maybe you missed the part where I mentioned my contract. Spying on my colleagues has nothing to do with overthrowing the Rockets." He paused a moment to reflect on the fact that she mentioned Kojiro, "If Kojiro's got suspicions that Atomsk might be a Rocket, then I'll go and hear it from his own mouth."

He had no delusions that Atomsk was an enemy, as it contradicted all of his observations- this was simply to get Mykeisha off of his case. Still, he grounded himself a bit more- he wasn't sure how Mykeisha would react. She always seemed to have her own agenda, and he wouldn't put it past her to react a little more violently. Calmly standing a bit taller, he would put the ball in Mykeisha's court, "I think we're done here, unless you've got something else for me?" He sincerely hoped that the former was not the case.

"Do you honestly think I signed any contracts to become this?!" she shouted, not daring to turn around or make a move. She went silent for a few seconds, but then spoke up again, her voice wavering slightly, "N-no, It's okay... I can do it myself..." She paused again, standing like a statue facing the crowd she was watching before, at Atomsk, the mystery woman, the pink-hair, the big guy and the cyclops. She turned her head slightly and looked back at Kouji. "I only ask you this; Do you want to become stronger?"

Kouji was once again taken very much off guard, even jumping a little at her sudden outburst. Kouji was used to seeing Mykeisha engaging in her own idiosyncratic devices, but now she seemed almost vulnerable. Kouji retraced his words, trying in vain to figure out what the catalyst was for her abrupt distress. He could tell that something was genuinely troubling her, but he hadn't enough information (nor enough motivation) to decipher what.

He only became more puzzled as the question about becoming stronger escaped her lips. Kouji caressed Bignacious's Pokeball, fearing that anything he responded with might send her down a more violent outburst. Rational wordplay was all but lost on this one, so it seemed.

Kouji decided that it would be prudent to be frank with her on this answer, fearing that antagonizing her any more would draw unwanted attention.

"Stronger, huh? There's a loaded question. I guess I could warn you that curiosity killed the cat, but apparently death has no real hold over you these days..." The quip was intended to give him some time to ponder the surprisingly deep question, "I guess my quest for strength started with Dad. I never cared much for any sort of confrontation- Pokemon battles, arguments, debates, they were all kind've a drag. I only took up battling as a way to get Dad's attention. At least, that's how it started. Our Pokeball shop got hit by some Rocket Thugs back when I was just getting started. Nobody was hurt- nobody that mattered anyway. But watching my Dad fight them- I guess that's when I knew my purpose. All my life, I kinda stood by the sidelines, never picking a side or standing for anything for fear of stepping on someones toes. Dad fights to be the worlds best Dragon Trainer- I guess I fight for myself."

He paused for a moment, "Well, I guess I can give myself a little more credit than that. I guess Pokemon training was sort've my way of making a stand. If I could battle, I could protect what was most important to me. At the time it was my family, but now that I'm here, I guess I have some crazy notion that I'm gonna make some sort of noble contribution to getting rid of an evil syndicate. I'm not looking for glory- I'm just tired of standing on the sidelines."

He made eye-contact with his superior, "So I guess the answer to your question is 'yes.' I do, in fact, wanna become stronger. Why do you ask?"

Mykeisha was close to being teary-eyed from Kouji's story. Listening to the life story of a living man was not too different from listening to that of a dead one, but rather, instead of ending in eternal regret or peace, the story had a continuance. It also caused Mykeisha to remember she had not spoken with real ghosts in a very long time.

She rotated her head more so her eyes would meet his. "As long as you have the resolve to get stronger, you're good enough for this Team. If you do it to protect someone, that is true honor." If only she had another protecting her that time, not just another Pokemon, but another human, then just maybe...

Mykeisha was a paragon of unpredictability this day! Kouji was astonishingly at a loss for words, simply because he had no idea how to read this woman!

"Geez, one minute she's talking down to me like I'm some sort of puppet, then the next, she's trying to build me up as some sort of hero...what in the world is her angle in all of this?"

Sensing no malice or ulterior motives to her words, Kouji responded in kind, "Um...well, thank you Mykeisha." He wasn't used to talking about himself at this length, so he wasn't really sure how to react to someone's judge of his character. Still, as grudging as it was considering the source, he was a little relieved to hear some genuine words of encouragement.

He would've felt bad not returning her sentiments, but given the nature of their relationship, he didn't feel he had a lot to say. The girl believed that she was dead- for all he knew, she may interpret a compliment as an insult! Still, ever preferring forgiveness afterwards in favor of permission beforehand, he would try his luck.

"Look, I know we aren't exactly the best of friends, and I can't really sympathize with you. But empathy is something I've gotten good at over the years...so, uh, I hope things start looking up for you." Kouji decided that this whole encouragement thing was something he dreadfully needed work on.

Atomsk smiled at the invitation. The perfect excuse to tag along. He planned on doing a little sweet talking, but it turned out to be unneccesary. Atomsk looked to Junko and her group of companions. "Hey give me one second to tell my friends! I'll be right back." Atomsk turned tail, and briskly jogged over to Kouji and Mykeisha. The two were talking, and Atomsk didn't particularly care what it was about. He looked to the two of them, speaking up as to grab their attention. "Hey you two! I'm going a ways farther with these guys. Why don't you head back? All three of us missing would leave us vulnerable. Especially an officer. I'll head on alone." How I wanted it in the first place, he thought to himself.

Mykeisha frowned. Them going elsewhere meant it was about impossible to track them. Not to mention Kouji refused to take on her task, of which she'd issued precisely for this type of situation. However, Mykeisha was never, ever, the one at lost, as she did have another plan. "But what of your task?"

"I'm performing my task. I'm following the girl. I never planned on saving the grunts. It is far too risky, and the information I'm likely to obtain is invaluable. I'm not going to give up this oportunity for just three grunts." He paused to think. Maybe these guys coming along had some use. "Since I'm going this part alone, you guys can make yourselves useful, and we can fulfill both parts of this mission with some bonus to boot. Considering the size of Saffron City and the previously huge occupation that Team Rocket had here, I'm sure that there are more then just those three Grunts that you will find locked up. I know it's risky, but if you two could stage a jail break, we would not only be releasing potentially hundreds of Grunts, we'd also be giving them a reason to come over to the side of Cataclysm. You think you two are up for the challenge?"

"Ask the Boss for large scale things, but I'm not up to that sort of thing..." Mykeisha responded. At that, she simply started walking in the direction of the base. Her appetite at that time as equal to that of the human energy consumption rate.

Kouji couldn't help but feel that Atomsk was simply saying "Piss off" in a very candycoated manner. Even more ineresting was Atomsk, no higher up on the chain of command than Kouji himself, was giving orders to an officer. It was a day of strange occurrences, and as curious as Kouji was about the emergence of this new group and their relation to everything, he decided that today was not the day to solve this mystery.

Instead, he decided that it may be prudent to take advantage of this offer presented to him. All this time he had waited for someone to ask him to do his job- with Atomsk's proposal, he would do one better in that he could make a significant splash without having been "officially" told.

As soon as Mykeisha brushed aside the proposal, Kouji chimed in, "I'll do it. This op isn't an official order, right? I'm low man on the totem pole, so I've got less to lose than Mykeisha does. She can go back to HQ and relay all that's happened here. I'll stage the jailbreak- one man will be easier to breach the prison with, or if worse comes to worse, it'll be easier for just me to escape."

Not that he was particularly interested in making any friends, (or for that matter, springing Rockets from prison,) but this act of unsolicited servitude might grant him the loyalty and trust of some of the higher-ups. Kouji didn't care to be in the dark, and to that end, would do anything to find the truth.

"Well then by all mean Kouji. In the meantime..." He turned around and began walking back towards the group. He paused, before he was out of earshot, and turned back. "Thanks for earlier Kouji. It was......nice!" Atomsk turned away, and walked back to Junko's group. "Since I'm tagging along, I'm Atomsk." He said without looking at anyone in particular. He was far too nervous. At this point, he didn't care if Junko knew. He stuck a cigarette in his mouth and lit it up, calming himself greatly.

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-The Prison Break-


Atomsk's final orders lingered in Kouji's head like a broken record as he was left alone to watch his two superiors part ways. It certainly had been an interesting day- he had gone from gruntwork to aiding a prison break in a matter of hours!

Kouji despised working alone- although he had all of his Pokemon with him, the grunts of his companions could never replace tried and true human communication. There was also the issue of the operation itself- freeing fugitives from a prison. Truth be told, Kouji was having mixed feelings about the whole ordeal. He got into this group to put the Rockets down, and yet he is now being made to rescue them?

He cast aside his doubts, worried that they would prevent him from following through. This was his big chance to earn the trust of his higher ups, which consequently meant a chance to start getting some answers. He steeled himself for the gravity of his situation- now he just needed to formulate a plan. His primary goal was to free as many captured Rockets as possible, all the while not harming the guards inside.

He considered the possibilities; A frontal assault would be a fatal mistake. The worst case scenario would be his complete annihalation, and the best case scenario involves him hurting many innocent guards to free these criminals. This plan was counter-intuitive, so he immediately scratched it. Sneaking into the high security facility would also prove futile, as he would be spotted by either the sentries or the security cameras. Either way, he would be compromised on the spot, and considering his status among his fellow Cataclysm-ites, he didn't anticipate a daring rescue on his behalf.

He then began to consider the capabilities of his team. All of them were capable of fighting in their own right, but he had to consider what else they were capable of accomplishing. Bignacious, oddly enough, was the stealthiest member of the team, while Hero and Wattson were about even in terms of running speed (Croc could actually outrun the both of them, but he was still too young to appreciate the gravity of the situation enough to take it seriously.) Boss could fly, and Ether...

"Wait a minute! Ether!" Kouji thought, instinctively clutching her Pokeball. Porygon-Z was upgraded from the Porygon model for the purpose of messing with computer systems. The cops probably had tech support strong enough to block a full-on system crash, but he was sure that Ether could at least trigger the alarm to incite just enough panic in the compound to free the grunts and make a fast escape. Upon making this revelation, Kouji made a trip to the Pokemon Center, releasing Ether from her Pokeball and explaining the plan to her.

"This mission is gonna get pretty hectic on your account, so I'm sure you'll have a field day," Kouji began, "I'm gonna patch you into an e-mail and send it to the Prison Ward. Once the message gets sent, find your way into the prisons system. I need for you to locate the cell numbers of only the Rocket Grunts. Once you have that, send me a message on my Pokegear to let me know that you've got 'em, then I'll give you the go ahead to trigger the alarm. Once you've done that, open the cells that you've found, and I'll have Boss blast a hole in the southern wall. If all goes well, I'll be able to run them out and give 'em a 'pep talk' of sorts. I'm going in blind, so give me about two hours to retrieve you again, otherwise, you should head back to Bill's. Everything clear?"

On any other given day, Ether would have been less than enthused simply being addressed by Kouji, much less taking orders from him. However, Kouji was giving her an uncharacteristically chaotic order, which she wholeheartedly supported. Saluting him with her artificial limbs, Kouji nodded in approvement, confined her to her Pokeball, and deposited her into the PC Network. He then composed a phony e-mail addressed to the Prison Ward (whose address was located conveniently on their website,) and sent along his bug right behind enemy lines.

While waiting for Ether's confirmation, he made a second trip to the Mart, purchasing a cheap party mask meant for concealing his identity. He was doing this op dangerously close to home- the last thing he wanted was for his face to be seen by his family after a prison break-out. Before he could ponder the ramifications for much longer, however, his Pokegear beeped the familiar chime that told him of a new message. Sure enough, Ether had located the cells that the Rockets were being held in- there were quite a number of them like Atomsk had said, but they were all conveniently being held on the ground floor away from the other inmates. This would make staging the escape all the more easier.

He released Hero and Wattson from their Pokeballs- this plan was going to require speed and efficiency, and he could count on that from both of these guys. Steeling his nerves, he gave Ether the go-ahead to trigger the alarm- which she did with a smile on her insane face. The three burst through the front door mere moments after the alarm triggered, running headlong into the ensuing chaos.

To Kouji's surprise, the guards were far more preoccuppied with the sudden alarm trigger than Kouji's presence. They must have been drilling for a possible rescue attempt since retrieving the prisoners- but they were stationed in droves everywhere except the front door. This worried Kouji, but he had come too far to turn back now.

He reached the holding block as outlined by Ether. This op had so far been way too easy- something was most assuredly amiss.
Before he could hypothesize further, however, the door slammed shut behind him, locked from the outside. Amidst the panicked chattering of the Rocket Grunts, Kouji could see one lone figure standing in the middle of the room. He was calm, cool, and collected, hands resting firmly on the Pokeballs on his belt.

"Small stature, and a mask..." the Prison Ward observed aloud, "You ain't like no Executive I've come across before. You ain't dressed like 'em either. You're either top brass or cannon fodder. Either way, you fell right into our trap, and I ain't gonna let this opportunity go!"

Kouji grounded himself a little firmer, observing his opponent a little more. Judging by the way he was dressed, this must be the Prison Ward, and if he was stupid enough to lock himself in a room with a potential lethal breach of security, then he must've been pretty sure of his abilities. Kouji would ordinarily send his entire team to quickly put down the guy, but the room was big and the acoustics were awful- he was going to have a hard enough time issuing orders to one Pokemon, let alone five. Not saying a word, he watched as the Warden unveiled his first combatant.

Prison Warden Michael
Pokemon: Shiftry, Houndoom, Hariyama, Magnezone
Difficulty Level: 9


With a resounding crack, Michael's Pokeball revealed his first combatant- A Shiftry, primed and ready for battle. The Pokemon was almost as aged as its owner, though judging by its stance, he was certainly no stranger to battle. The outcome of this match was not of any importance- Kouji merely needed to stall long enough for Ether to open the doors to the Rocket's cells.
He scanned the room- to his dissapointment, the corridors were quite narrow, preventing him from unleashing his entire team upon Michael. He was a Warden, after all- he probably expected such 'dishonorable' tactics, making the venue a very wise choice. The Grunts, now recovering from the initial bewilderment, began to realize what was happening, and began cheering wildly for Kouji, calling him 'Maskman.'

"Maskman, huh?" Kouji thought to himself, "That's actually got kind've a nice ring to it..."

Michael, however, was not one to be toyed with, shouting "Hey Mask Boy, Negasus here ain't known for his patience. I ain't got no problem tellin' him to tear you apart if you don't send out one of your own!"

Negasus, Kouji assumed, was the name given to Michael's Shiftry, and by the Pokemon's restless demeanor, he wasn't bluffing. "Hero, you're up buddy." Kouji murmured to his oldest companion, "Remember- your job is to stall. Take him down if you can, but don't push yourself."

Hero nodded in agreement, slowly stepping in front of his master. Without giving him time to think, Michael's Negasus charged at a breakneck speed, crashing down on Hero with a ferocious Brick Break. Completely caught off guard, Hero took the full brunt of the assault, sliding across the hard prison floor back to Kouji's feet. The prison erupted in a unified chorus of instigating "Whoah's" and "Oooh's" from the grunts.

Wattson chattered wildly, assisting Kouji in helping the bewildered Hero back to his feet. "You okay, bud?" Kouji asked, which was responded to with a stern nod as Hero stumbled back to his feet. Kouji offered further counsel in the form of an observation, "Punch for punch, this guy has the advantage. Aim low- he stumbled a little bit on that last attack, which makes me think he's spent more time flexing his arms than focusing on his footwork. You can end it quickly if you can knock him off balance"

Hero nodded with approval, but not before Michael could chime in with a quip, "You got spirit, but you're still young and green if you think your Typhlosion can win just 'cause you have type advantage!"

Kouji had no idea what type Shiftry was, nor what Typhlosion's attacks were strong against, so the insult was about as effective as a child calling him 'stupid.' Realizing that taunting wasn't eliciting any sort of response, Michael began to bark orders to Negasus, "You've almost got him, Negasus! Hit 'im with another Brick Break!"

This would be his decisive mistake, however, as Hero seldom fell prey to the same trick twice. He watched the behemoth's clumsy feet, grounding himself on all fours in preparation to retaliate. Without even so much as a command from Kouji, Hero allowed his fiery spines to heat up to a fever pitch, unleashing a dire Flame Wheel to the unsuspecting Negasus's feet. As Kouji predicted, Negasus was not prepared for a blow to his rather unassuming feet, and consequently toppled over from the assault. Hero, in response, clambered atop the Shiftry's exposed stomach, delivering a devastating Eruption to the entirety of Negasus's body, rendering him all but done for.

"Alright Negasus, come back!" Michael beckoned, returning the defeated Pokemon to his Pokeball, "Looks like this'll be interesting after all. Let's bring it home, Fiona!"

With this, Michael let loose his second fighter- a Houndoom. Upon her emergence, she howled a shrill battle cry, followed by a slight hop into an intimidating stance.

Neither Kouji nor Hero were phased, the former simply issuing a quiet order to his companion, "This one looks quick, but I bet you're quicker. Hit him with some fire." Typhlosion charged towards Fiona ablaze, knowing full well that the latter command meant for him to attack with a Flame Wheel (Kouji was clueless to the universally-accepted names of Pokemon techniques.) To Kouji's bewilderment, however, Fiona simply opted to dodge the attack, following up with nothing more than an unassuming bark.

Confused by Michael's uncharacteristically passive tactics, Kouji bade Hero to attempt another Flame Wheel- to which he obliged, albeit a hair slower than before. Fiona exerted even less energy dodging the assault, continuing to bark maliciously at the ever wearying Hero. This left Kouji utterly confused, until he witnesses a very strange act from Hero. After his second attempt, he slowly staggered to his feet, coughing up what appeard to be a dark liquid. Kouji recognized that substance anywhere- Hero had been subject to a Toxic Poison, and from the looks of it, it had been slowly eating away at him since Negasus' demise.

"Well that was clever," Kouji grumbled to himself, recalling the poisoned Hero to his Pokeball, "His Shiftry must have excreted the Poision while Hero was wailing on him. He somehow cued his Houndoom in on that fact, which is why she's opting to let the poison take effect instead of wasting energy fighting Hero herself. Smart."

Fiona howled loudly, a triumphant display of her wittiness. Kouji could have opted to have Hero do some form of damage before fainting, but that would be disrespectful to his team. Kouji had never let his Pokemon faint before, and he was not going to start now. However, the problem now was finding another combatant to stall for Ether. Wattson was integral to the final phase of his plan, so he couldn't risk losing him, and Croc was far too weak for the likes of Michael's battle-hardened team. Boss would have been the best choice, as he was easily Kouji's strongest ally, but winning was not Kouji's priority.

Without a word, Kouji tossed a Pokeball into the prison floor, revealing Bignacious to be his next competitor. The Grunts roared with applause- they truly had no idea what was going down here. Kouji tossed Big a berry from his pack, offering some words just audibly enough for Big to hear, "Remember, we're trying to stall for Ether. I'm sure you could eat this guy for breakfast, but play a little more passively with this one." Big nodded, inhaling the berry without thoughts to trivial matters such as chewing.

Quickly sizing up the new opponent, Michael barked new orders at Fiona, "He's gonna be resistant to fire, Fiona. Hit him hard and fast- we want to hurt him more than he can heal!"

Letting out a howl, Fiona rushed at Bignacious from his left side, bearing her fangs in an attempt to sink a ferocious Crunch into Big's flabby flesh. He let her get close, before lashing out with one of his trademark Brick Breaks; an attack that she just barely avoided. Fiona again charged Big, this time feigning right attack in favor of re-attacking the area she just left. This tactic worked, but not without suffering a nasty Brick Break across her skull.

The two combatants gathered their bearings, both suffering from brutal assaults. Though Big wasn't nearly as fast as Michael's Houndoom, he was at least twice as resiliant, having both bulk and a way to recover from wounds. This Houndoom was built for offense, so as long as Big could outlast the mutt, he would surely emerge the victor.

Michael must have realized this, as he barked an order contradicting his initial observation, "Fiona, light 'em up! Torch him with a Fire Fang!"

Big saw his opportunity to cause some major damage. Instead of dodging the attack, he protruded his gut as the target for Fiona, intending to absorb the brunt of the assault with his legendary Thick Fat capabilities. After allowing her fiery onslaught to be mostly absorbed, Bignacious retaliated with a punishing Return. Fiona was buffetted, but far from defeated, quickly bouncing back up into an aggressive position. Bignacious, on the other hand, found himself rather troubled at the most recent hit he took. This, in turn, troubled Kouji, as he was certain that Big had the upper hand.

He soon realized Michael's sudden paradigm shift; Fiona's recent attack had left Big with a nasty burn that was rapidly eating away at his health. He knew he was going to have to order Big to rest up, which would further open him up to assault from the much faster Houndoom. Even with Big's capabilities to attack in his sleep, the results were often of a sporadic nature, and Houndoom was going to be capable of dealing damage far quicker than Big could heal. This was easily the hardest battle Kouji had ever fought. Still, he had to stall long enough for Ether to open the cell doors, as Kouji was quickly realizing that this was the only way that he was going to get out of this in good shape.

"Big..." Kouji paused, knowing full and well that he was ordering Big's defeat, "...take a snooze."

Big obliged, falling immediately into a deep sleep. The regenerative powers of a Snorlax still amazed Kouji to this day- almost instantaneously, his wounds began to patch themselves up, and all signs of the burn were all but exhausted.

As Kouji predicted, unfortunately, Michael was hoping for just this very thing to happen. Almost instinctively, he ordered a mercilous onslaught from Fiona, to which she gladly obeyed. Tossing and turning, but still deep in slumber, Big was forced to endure the attack, unable to do anything about it. Kouji knew that Big's only chance at getting out of this was in the hands of Lady Luck...

"Big, time to roll the dice..." Kouji ordered hesitantly. At his command, subconsciously initiated a Metronome, and what followed was quite miraculous- Big was engulfed in water! The Metronome had prepared Big to launch a sleeping Waterfall at Fiona. This stroke of luck, however, became Big's ticket to defeat, as Michael let out a sinister grin.

"Yeah, I'm sure you thought water was a great idea, didn't ya? Zap 'im, Fiona!"

Mimicking her owners grin, Fiona's fangs began to spark wildly, charging headlong into Big's aquatic attack. The electricity was augmented by the cats now watery frame, dealing fatal damage to the already unconsious kitten. Big's sleep grew restless, mirroring Kouji's own anxiety.

"Ugh!" Kouji couldn't help but let loose a disdainful grunt, recalling Big to his Pokeball, "How could that happen...?"

"Is this seriously the best rescue party Rocket can muster?" Michael jeered, "The last time I had Metronome used against me was from my daughter's Clefairy! How in the world did you become an Exec?"

Kouji was now legitimately concerned- he only had one more Pokemon he could afford to stall with, but he knew that Croc was highly outclassed and would only last a few minutes at the most. Boss was the only one on the team capable of putting down this mutt, but he had only seen two of Michael's team, and though Boss was quite powerful, it was still one against potentially five more! Ether would have to finish quick, or this op would go dreadfully sour...

"I'm sorry Croc, but I need your help..." Kouji sadly beckoned, sending forth the eager Croc.

Michael rubbed his temples, now genuinely dissapointed, "Are you kidding, Mask Boy? Don't make me put this one down- he's just a little one."

This proceeded to set Croc off, chattering wildly at his new nemesis. Kouji could only put his hands in his pockets, knowing full well he had just sent his weakest link to battle with a titan. Still, Kouji had to make every second count, hesitantly dropping a simple order to the eager Croc, "...time to power up, buddy..."

Always eager to please, Croc began to dance wildly about, performing the esoteric Dragon Dance that Boss had taught him. Michael, in response, merely shook is head in bemused dissapointment.

"Kid, you've got stones, and that's something I respect." The Ward chided, "But now it's time to teach you a lesson in humility. Fiona, Thunder Fang!"

Croc stood nary a chance, as Fiona caught him at the torso with an electrifying bite, deftly tossing him to the wayside after the electricity had coursed through its veins. Croc had never suffered such an onslaught before, struggling to even make it to his knees before he buckled over again in defeat.

Michael shook his head as Kouji shamefully withdrew his companion, "Why would you do that to him? I know you Rockets aren't exactly known for your compassion, but you had to know that your Totodile didn't stand a chance!"

Worried, Kouji grabbed hold of Boss's Pokeball- Boss was the only one capable of destroying the south wall, which would be their only means of escape once Ether unlocked the cells. If Ether didn't hurry, this may very well have been the end of Kouji's journey.

"Boss..." Kouji began, tossing Boss's Pokeball into the arena, "Drag this one out as long as you can. We still need you after this fight..."

Michael's posture suddenly became more rigid, concerned at the unexpected presence of a genuine threat. Still, whatever doubt he had was dissolved in an instant, offering an immediate shift in tactics to the ever-hardy Fiona.

"Alright Fiona, on your toes!"
Michael cautioned, "We're gonna run some 'Hard Defense' with this one!"

Boss was Kouji's strongest contender, and he had no doubts about his ability to tango with this already-wearied Houndoom. Still, she was a formidable opponent, and the Ward still had at least one more competitor who was probably just as strong as the current one, if not moreso. Boss was going to have to scare this one into a more passive strategy if he was to outlast her.
"Boss, let's show him our version of 'Hard Defense' with the business end of your nails!"

Bearing his mighty Dragon Claws, Boss swooped in to deliver a decisive swipe to the on-guard Fiona. However, just as Boss was close enough to make contact, Fiona had erected a barrier that rendered his claws completely inneffective! He took to the skies, gathering his bearings after the failure of his onslaught.

Kouji had seen this move before; He believed he had heard a trainer call it Protect in the past. He also remembered that the move would not function if attempted to be used multiple times. Not giving him time to recharge the move, he ordered Boss to follow up with another Dragon Claw, to which he followed through.

Michael was not to be bested, however, ordering Fiona to launch a volley of Shadow Balls at the incoming dragon. Instead of dodging the projectiles, however, Boss opted to stay his course, taking most of the attacks as a price to nail him with his deadly claws. The exchange ended in Fiona being knocked farther back, while Boss grounded himself to recover from the shadowy missiles. Having time to properly process the pain, it took a lot more out of him than he anticipated, rendering Boss almost as exhausted as Fiona.

Before further blows could be exchanged, however, Kouji's Pokegear lit up, indicating a new message had been received. To his great relief, it was from Ether, who had identified the cells of the Rocket Grunts.

He glanced over at a nearby cell, quietly addressing four Grunts who were completely enthralled with the battle.
"You four," Kouji beckoned, immediately getting the attention of the prisoners, "You're all about to get sprung. When your door opens, I need you to help me grab the Ward. We're gonna throw him in a cell so we can get out of here without a tail. We clear?" The Grunts gave an inconspicuous nod, completely convinced that Kouji was one of them.

He swiftly sent a confirmation e-mail to Ether, gaining the confusion of the Ward. "What're you up to, Mask Boy?"

"I was never a match for you..." Kouji admitted, adopting a more dominant posture, "It's clear that I've got a lot to learn, but beating you was never the goal. This was."

Almost as if cued, the cell doors began to open one by one, rendering both the prisoners and the Ward quite confused. The initial shock quickly wore off from the prisoners, however, as they simeltaneously charged towards the center of the room.
Kouji had to act quick- the guards outside would inevitably hear the riot and organize within a matter of minutes. Quickly convening with the four Grunts, they charged at the Ward. Fiona had pounced upon one of the Grunts, but the other three and Kouji were able to (albeit with some difficulty,) pin the ward to the ground, just as he was going for another Pokeball. Fiona reeled around and, having immediately sized up the situation, immediately stood down, realizing that any further retaliation could lead to her and her master's demise.

Amidst the chaos, Kouji barked an order to Boss "Beast Mode the south wall, Boss! Take them south to Route 6, and hold them there until I catch up!" He made certain to get up close to the dragon, so that no one but him may hear his order.

Without a second thought, Boss began to charge the wall, parting the crowd of Grunts like the Red Sea. Kouji and the Grunts, meanwhile, combined their strength to force the hardy Ward into the nearest cell. He patted the Ward down, retrieving the lightest Pokeball from his belt, reasoning that this one was Fiona's.

He aimed the Pokeball at Fiona, returning the hound back to its ball and placing it back into the Ward's belt. "I know it's hard to believe," Kouji whispered to Michael, "but I'm actually on your side. I'm not here to steal your Pokemon, I'm here to recruit."

Michael grimaced, "Whose side your on makes no difference to me, Boy. You broke into my prison and released criminals; Mark my words, I'm gonna find you. And when I do, your ass is grass."

Fully understanding the Ward's animosity, he ordered the Grunts to use his own handcuffs to cuff him to the outer cell bars. He nodded at the not-so-inconspicuously placed security camera, knowing full well that Ether had access to the footage, just as the Grunts left the cell. By this time, Boss had totaled the wall, and began to lead the Grunts into the direction of Route 7. As the Wards cell door shut, however, the rest of the prison staff had begun to pile into the cell block.

This rush of personnel is exactly why Wattson had not participated in the battle. "You guys might wanna cover your eyes," Kouji warned the Grunts, now turning to the focused Wattson, "Blindside 'em, Wattson!"

With a resounding battle cry, Wattson unleashed a blinding Flash attack upon the unsuspecting guards, rendering them completely blinded by the attack. With their escape path now clear, Kouji, Wattson, and the remaining Grunts all made a break for the hole in the south wall. In order to better cover their escape, Wattson let loose a myriad of Thunderbolts to disorientate the already blinded guards, as well as further cover up the sound of where they were running.

After an exhausting sprint, the group had made it to the secluded area of Route 6. Kouji was surprised to see that most of the Grunts had stayed at the designated spot. He had underestimated their loyalty to their own cause- a trait that Kouji wished that he also possessed for Team Cataclysm...

"There isn't much time," Kouji began, immediately gaining the attention of all of the Grunts, "the Saffron Police are undoubtedly on our trails as we speak, so I'm going to make this as brief as possible. I'm not one of you- if it were up to me, I would have left you all in that prison to rot."

This comment caused more than a handful of Grunts to make threatening gestures and shout explitives. However, some of the smarter Grunts made motions to quell these outbursts, realizing that this was indeed their savior, and that they at least owed him the courtesy of listening. Once again garnering their undivided attention, Kouji continued.

"Be that as it may, however, today wasn't for me. And believe it or not, it wasn't even for you. I brought you out of that prison to give you a chance to be a part of something greater than yourselves. What that something is, though, is completely up to you. Some of you may choose to go home to friends, family, or maybe to even start over. If that appeals to you, then I implore you to pursue that venture without a second thought. Some of you may opt to rejoin the ranks of Team Rocket. Know that I won't stop you from returning, but keep in mind that the next time we meet, I won't hesitate to put you down where you stand."

Though obviously far more anxious, they continued to listen with unabashed interest. This kind of talk wasn't Kouji at all, but merely an act. A means to an end. Still unsure of whether he had done the right thing or not, he proceeded to conclude this mini-speech.

"However, what you have seen today is a mere fraction of what's to come. Team Rocket is losing power, and simeltaneously, a hammer of justice is rearing to quash it from its tyrannical reign. I came into that prison- alone!- to show you what one, nameless agent can do. Rockets, I am a mere Grunt like yourselves. If you want to feel what true power is, want to see what true justice is, or merely wish to join the winning side, I ask that you join the ranks of Team Cataclysm. Your status, strength, and even prior affiliation won't prevent you from joining- simply drop your 'R's' and seek us out. "

He had left the Grunts in a confused frenzy, but before anything drastic could be done, he hopped up on Boss's back, bearing his claws as a warning to any who dare approach his master.

"We have recruiters in Commerce City." Kouji explained, "If you want to join, walk into any bar and ask the bartender if they can spare a glass. You'll be approached by someone who will ask you why you need a glass. Your response will be silence- look them dead in the eye and say nothing. This will begin your walk to true justice."
With that, he nodded to Wattson, who knew to be ready for a command. "Sorry guys," Kouji apologized, "but I can't risk any of you following me. Wattson, lights out!"

With that, Wattson let out a Flash, blinding the unprepared Grunts. Amidst the chaos, Kouji quickly withdrew Wattson to his Pokeball and took to the skies mounted on Boss.

"Once the blindness wears off, split up. You'll all be caught if you travel as a large group- head away from Saffron and give yourselves a few days before you head to Commerce City. Good luck!"

Boss then took to the skies, flying towards Vermillion City at Kouji's request. As the approached the outskirts, however, he had Boss land, withdrawing him back to his Pokeball. There was a possibility that the jail break had made headlines by now, and he couldn't risk being apprehended. Tossing his jacket, tie, and mask into the sea, he approached the city, heading directly for the Pokemon Center. As he turned over his Pokemon to be healed, he headed for the PC, withdrawing Ether from the network and placing her Pokeball back with her team. She had definitely been the MVP for this op, and at this point had considered her an asset to his team.

After retrieving the rest of his now-healed companions, he walked north-east, heading towards the outskirts of Saffron. He found a rather secluded patch of grassland, and proceeded to give his superior Officer Cassandra a call from his Pokegear

"Cassandra, it's Kouji. I've just completed an op, but it's too risky for me to try and re-enter the city. I'm in need of an extraction- can you pinpoint my location from my Pokegear signal?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kouji Ichigaara Character Portrait: Mykeisha Bruma Character Portrait: Cassandra Thorne Character Portrait: Jeremy Thrall Character Portrait: Kojiro Takashi (WIP:Poke History)
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After giving everyone a full day to rest (except Kouji; the sheer stupidity of breaking a bunch of Team Rocket Grunts out of prison by himself with no upper level sanction from anyone but Atomsk, who hardly counted, had landed him with cleaning duty), Cassandra had assembled the admin-level battlers in a meeting room the following evening and laid out the details of their next publicity operation: a temporary takeover of the Lavender Town Radio Tower. Contrary to Kojiro's initial hypothesis, they needed more than one or two people on this, as holding the entirety of the tower for long enough for Daisuke to hack the radio frequencies and get someone (Kojiro) broadcast over the radio for everyone to hear was going to take a small, but pretty elite, team.

For the purposes of this mission, she explained, they were dividing into two smaller groups: she, Mykeisha, and Kouji would be acting as the distraction, hopefully drawing most of the trainers and security personel on staff to the lower floor, where they'd battle if they needed to but otherwise simply hold off any interference. Meanwhile, Kojiro and Jeremy would be advancing to one of the broadcasting rooms on the upper floors, communicating with Daisuke to learn when to give their message to the public. Cass wasn't too concerned with what it was, though she had mentioned to Kojiro beforehand that he'd do well to keep the emphasis on the defeating of Team Rocket rather than any of the rest of that business he seemed to be attached to. Jeremy was there to help in case anyone happened to miss the memo about what was going on downstairs and try to fend them off-- timing was imperative, and they had only a small window to accomplish what they wanted, which meant that Kojiro had to get where he needed to be quickly.

"Right," she said, almost dreading the response, "Any questions? Let's try to keep them relevant, please," she said, flicking a momentary glance to the "dead" girl. "Otherwise, we're hitting Lavender in two hours."

"Oh no, none at all." Mykeisha answered. She was rather excited for the whole event. Despite the fact that it was right next to Saffron, Mykeisha had never been to Lavender Town in a long, long time. She'd heard it had changed quite a bit since she had last seen it. She thought it was rather disrespectful when the graves were moved and it was turned into a radio tower. She couldn't wait to 'haunt it'. After all, that was her job as a vengeful spirit.
Cleaning. Duty.

In Cassandra's defense, Kouji conceded that he probably deserved to get chewed out. To be honest, he found it quite refreshing- being yelled at had to at least have been one or two rungs above being completely taken for granted. However, the least any of them could have done was to grant him some form of commendation. True, it had been just about the most reckless thing Kouji had ever done in his life, but his actions granted Team Cataclysm quite a number of new recruits- by Kouji's recollection, about 75% of the troops he sprung from the prison turned up for employment in Commerce City. He also found her anger to be a little odd, considering she didn't bat an eyelash when Kojiro brought in Rockets to join the cause.
Regardless, Kouji had accomplished the task he set out to do. He had proved that he was a force not to be overlooked and effectively made a name for himself. Sure, it took an act of uncharacteristic brazen to get the higher-ups attention, but he was sure that, in the long run, this would prove effective to his cause.

Either that, or he would quit. He still had doubts about this entire organization; his suspicion kindled even more by the words of Atomsk.

"Atomsk..." Kouji thought to himself, still unsure of his motivations, "Just what are you up to...?"

He still hadn't quite forgiven him for assigning him the phony op. just as a way to get him off his back. A simple "we're done here" would have more than sufficed. More than that, however, he couldn't quite grasp why he took such an interest in Kouji's 'goodness,' then immediately telling him to spring a bunch of Rockets.

There were too many questions, and not nearly enough answers. The only think he could do now was to lay low until the higher-ups realized that Kouji's actions actually benefitted the Team, or until the whole thing blew over. With that, he proceeded to silently mop the HQ floors, awaiting further orders.

Kojiro had just checked up on his Kingdra, the slower method of treatment would take another day for it to fully recover but he had no complaint. On his way over to one of his favorite lounging spots, he came across Kouji mopping the floor and felt an odd desire to talk. "Kouji," to his own memory, this was the first time addressing the man by name." I ask for three Grunts and you get me a whole prison...good ambition. In fact, I'm willing to bet Cass is only mad since she didn't think of it herself. I know that I'm jealous of the battle I heard you had." He didn't stop walking until he reached a door.

"I can understand having a mere Agent mopping a floor should a Grunt not be around...but it seems beneath Cataclysm's newest Officer don't you think? After all the sudden surge in our ranks requires more people to keep them in line. Keep this up and a spot at the top could very well be yours for the taking." Kojiro left the room after that and the rest of his peers would have their own opinions on how he was trying to restucture things for the new numbers and expected growth. But short of exceptionally strong newbies, the majority of the new promotions would be within the current members. It was something of a reward for loyalty and a way to show appreciation while putting distance between the elite and the masses. His current idea for the new ranking structure was simple: The Elite, some kind of sectional leader, a tier of officers that was subdivided a bit, Agents and then Grunts. The current command structure was too small for something like this, but Kouji should get what he meant. That said, Kojiro pounded in Cass' number and hit call. First he wanted her to get a couple side things ready for the Lavender invasion: something of a fake website with code names that gives something of member stats and 'service record'. A dummy call center would also compliment his intended anouncement, he could think of nothing better to hide his plans than a rather 'legit' seeming business. If everything worked out well, the bit of stick that was this mission would work endlessly well with the bit of carrot he'd tell to the masses.

"Fine then, looks like we're ready to go. Kojiro, Daisuke said he's taking care of that extra stuff you wanted. Everyone else, let's get a move on, shall we?" Whatever else may be said about her, Cassandra was willing to put her personal opinions aside for the making of a stronger team, at least for the moment, and she certainly had not objected to Kouji's promotion, though it would have been within her rights to do so. She hated the fact that Rockets that had been out of the picture were back on the streets (and that other 25% weren't just going to go home to their families), but she was done saying anything about it. Her point had been made, and the only grudge she bothered to hold onto was the very particular one she had for the person who'd ruined her life.

Jeremy's features were set in his trademark frown. He leant against the wall at the back of the room, watching and listening. He had no intention of offering his opinion, since after all he wanted nothing to do with running the political agenda of Team Cataclysm. Now he had even less reason to involve himself. Kouji's promotion was an interesting decision and Jeremy had no concern about that either way. It was Kojiro's preogative to promote someone to an officer. The title meant nothing to Jeremy, Team Cataclysm was lead by the strong. Until this man could prove himself stronger or as stronger then one of them he wouldn't have any respect from Jeremy. Of course there was another facet to his concerns. Kouji's promotion was due to his actions that were supposably serving Team Cataclysm's needs, not his own strength. Coupled witth the fact they were now seemed to be recruiting Team rocket criminals en masse without any filter to weed out the weak undesirables it seemed that Team Cataclysm was being diluted into another criminal organisation instead of the advocators of strength and power they once were.

Regardless he would do what he had to. At least some of the members of the group had earned his respect and their visions were something he would not mind coming to be. Ultimately his goal was to bring Team Rocket to their knees. Yet they were a sizable organisation with hands in every town, city and company. He couldn't take his revenge alone. Fury wouldn't be joining him on this mission and it saddened Thrall a little to go out without her. Although in the end they were aiming for a fight her abscence wouldn't be sore, although for some reason he expected some conflict.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kouji Ichigaara Character Portrait: Mykeisha Bruma Character Portrait: Cassandra Thorne
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Team Cataclysm and the Lavender Town Invasion!



Lavender Town was almost eerily quiet at night, as one might expect from the haunted place that it was. Draped in the shadow of Mt. Moon, even the starlight from above had trouble filtering into this place, which gave them a fair opportunity to proceed under the cover of late evening. This was the time when families and trainers would be settling down for the night, and it was known as optimal airwave exposure time for radio programming, meaning that many of the most popular shows were broadcasting around now. Exactly what they needed. With a quick gesture, Cassandra signaled to the others, indicating the all-clear for their approach. In contrast to how they'd gotten to the tower in the first place, they were going to just waltz right in the front door and make a lot of noise. Or at least the three in the distraction group were going to. Kojiro and Jeremy were going to slip in behind them, likely unnoticed in all the commotion the other three were causing.

"All right. Mykeisha, Kouji, let's go." Throwing open the door with a well-placed kick for dramatic flouish, Cassandra put her cat-face on and stalked in grinning like the Cheshire she so often was. A few startled staff members shot the three Cataclysm admins surprised looks, and it was clear that she had their attention. "Ladies, gentlemen," she intoned mischievously, "Please welcome this evening's entertainment." stepping aside, she allowed her two teammates to enter. The plan was to take over the building, pure and simple, and to that end, they were going to battle any trainers that might be present and not bother too much about preventing structural damage. More power to them if they could pull this off without looking like villains, but even heroes couldn't always leave everything unblemished, now could they?

'Cataclysm's newest officer.' Kojiro's words still rung in his head like the echo of a bell in a gymnasium. He certainly expected some form of commendation for his actions, to be sure, but nothing as dramatic as a full-fledged promotion! Though anybody else would be elated to receive this honor, Kouji found himself in a quandry- Officer status brought many more limitations than privlileges, at least as far as Kouji's agenda was concerned. Not until now did he realize the boon that being a no-name agent had been to him. Gone were the days of slipping by under the radar- he was going to have to be a lot more concientious of his actions if he was going to get to the bottom of this.

Still, he couldn't help but be a little happy. He played a high-risk high-reward game and came out victorious, and 'Officer' had a very nice ring to it the more the thought about it. He had also gained the trust and respect of Kojiro; being the head of the entire operation, this was truly the only relationship that he needed. Perhaps being an Officer would bring in some perks after all.
He didn't have too much time to ponder his situation, however, as Cassandra's dramatic entrance soon called for the rest of the supporting actors. He adorned the inverted Pokeball mask he bought from Saffron- some of the Grunts he had sprung had found themselves transferred to the Saffron Branch, and most had still taken to calling him 'Mask Man,' despite the fact that he was introduced as 'Kouji Ichigaara.' He also wanted to eliminate any possibility of his activities getting back to his family. Though he knew that he was acting in favor of the greater good, he was afraid that (at the very least) his mother and Maya would highly disapprove of his actions.

He strolled into the tower in typical Kouji fashion- slouched, hands in pockets, and with complete disregard for the word 'haste.' He lazily glanced the perimeter, noticing nothing in need of his immediate attention. He palmed Wattson's Pokeball- this op called for distraction, so unleashing his entire team like he is used to would be completely uncalled for. He refrained from letting him loose just yet, instead waiting to follow Cassandra and Mykeisha's lead. He was already on Cassandra's naughty list, and didn't particularly want to give her any more reasons to chew him out.

Lavender Town, why had she'd not come back to haunt this place, like every other ghost did. Perhaps it was because she had no ill-feelings about such a place. Such a place served as her home, when she was alive, of course. Or maybe she was afraid people she knew would recognize her ghost, and she would end up hurting them, somehow.

Though, if there were one place that was deserving of being haunted was the Pokémon Tower. It was once her favorite place in Kanto, a place she had visited time and time again, until she left for the bigger world, and consequentially died. She could remember almost all the spirits, and their own little life stories, and she could remember all the pokemon as well. And now they were all moved, just so the tower could be converted into a radio tower for human entertainment. In all truth, she'd rather burn the place to the ground, but such a thought was too unpleasant for this happy-go-lucky spirit.

So there she was, in a light grey cloud-print dress, with large sleeves as always, and a pink and blue fan in her hand. She made way for Cassie, who had every right to go first, but she made herself visible to gain attention. As much as she had thought it would have been more effective if she went by herself, as humans were more afraid of ghosts than humans, it wasn't as if she had much choice in the matter, or rather, Mykeisha didn't feel like objecting to a fellow elite and creating a conflict.
"Good evening from the afterlife." Mykeisha greeted.

The sudden appearance of a trio of random strangers immediately put the security staff on alert-- they were all quite familiar with Team Rocket's antics in matters like this, and though these three didn't look to be Rockets, it didn't hurt to be cautious. The two guards at the desk in the front room stepped out from behind it, each's arm going for a pokeball at his or her waist. "Hold it," the woman said suspiciously. "There's no extra broadcast scheduled for this evening. State your business.

Cassandra's grin only stretched wider. "Honey, my only business is making yours that much more difficult."
She winked at the both of them, but yawned when the woman and her partner both tossed their pokeballs to the floor in front of them. "Nobody's any fun anymore," she drawled, rolling her cat-gold eyes to the ceiling. Turning to the other two, she shrugged. "Be my guests." Crossing her arms and making absolutely no move to reach for her own pokeballs, she stepped to the right to allow Mykeisha and Kouji the battle, personally profoundly uninterested in it.

Security Guards Annika and Nicolai
Pokemon: (Annika) Growlithe, Cloyster | (Nicolai) Mightyena, Carnivine
Diffculty Level: 6


Kouji let out a barely audible groan- the prospect of cooperating with Mykeisha seemed about as efficient as performing heart surgery with a toothpick. On the bright side, Kouji was now on the same rank as Mykeisha, meaning that he wouldn't have to put up with any antics she may begin to engage in. With a swift motion, he un-latched Wattson's Pokeball from his belt, ready to throw him into the fray.

"Wattson, Dummy Defense!" Kouji beckoned, using a code that they had practiced numerous times. Upon materializing, Wattson telepathically produced an image resembling a toy doll. This was the phenomoena known as Substitution, aiming to draw the attention of any attack aimed at Wattson until it breaks.

If this op called for Kouji to act as a diversion, then he would have to drag this out as long as possible. Outright overpowering everyone was also a viable option, though he wished to keep from harming any of the employees. With that, he slinked back, waiting for Mykeisha to make her move.

Mykeisha reached into her sleeve to grab a Pokeball with her free hand. Tossing it in front of her, it unlatched upon contact with the ground, and a Pokémon emerged. It shrieked and cackled and waved it's arms around wildly as it stood on it's two stubby legs. It's zipper-mouth sneer could have also been looked at as a frown.

"Mima, use Curse" Its trainer ordered. Mina rose her arms into the air and a ghostly pin materialized. The Pokemon then grasped it and jabbed it into its exposed stomach with a sharp thrust, and with a couple sickening twists, it pierced through the doll Pokemon all the way. From the sharp gasp emitted by Mima, one could tell it was painful for her, but only faltering a little bit, the Pokemon glared menacingly at it's opponents.

Annika gasped as Mima's curse gripped her Growlithe upon his emergence into the battlefield.

"No! Kindle, are you okay?" she worried, receiving a pained nod from the now cursed Growlithe, "We'll make him pay! Bite him!"
Annika seemed to have a control issue with her emotions, as her mind was focused solely on getting revenge on Mykeisha's Mima, and not on alleviating Kindle's curse (or the fact that she had a partner.) Her Growlithe seemed capable enough in battle though, as her fangs glowed with sinister energy as she charged towards Mima.

Nicolai, however, was far more wisened to battle, scanning the battlefield intensely as his Mightyena emerged from its Pokeball. Though Mima's Curse was a deadly move, he knew that another use would render Mima defeated as well. What was more pressing, however, was the presence of Wattson's Substitute...

"Rolf, keep your distance," Nicolai ordered his Mightyena, "take out the Elekid's Substitute with a Shadow Ball!"

This threw a wrench in Kouji's plans, as Wattson had intended to Cross Chop the Mightyena after he had disposed of his Sub. Its Shadow Ball rendered his Substitute useless, though not all was lost, as Wattson unleashed a vicious Thunderbolt upon Rolf. The shock left him injured, but still hardy enough to retaliate.

Thoughts ran through Mykeisha's head the lightening speed. Mima, already injured, would be seriously injured from a dark type attack. If Mima retaliated, it'd be easier to pull off a sneaky close range attack, such as Theif, given that she didn't flinch. Growlithe needed to be taken out of the way to make way for Froslass, as she was only planning on using ghost types. However, there was only one other option, one that rided on Mima alone, but there was a reason why she chose Mima.

"Mima, dodge it and use Frustration!" Mykeisha called. The Doll Pokemon attempted to avoid the Pokemon charging toward her, it's stubby legs taking it nowhere. Kindle, however, was quicker, and managed to bite the ghost-type, taking a hold of it's arm with it's teeth. Mima yelped, but growled and used it's free arm to pound Growlithe's face, yet it didn't release it's grip on Mima's arm. Mima continued pounding, until the puppy Pokemon couldn't take any more hits to the face and let go. Mima, however, did not quit attacking, punching it once again, then as the Pokemon faltered, Mima jumped on it's back and flailed it's arms wildly pounding on it's perch in an upset fit, each punch expressing itself and it's purpose until it felt it was enough, much to the horror of the defending Pokemon's trainer.

Annika winced along with her Pokemon, unsure of how to react to its seemingly helpless situation. Nicolai, however, kept his bearings, whispering a word of advice into the panicking Annika's face.

"Kindle...Flame Wheel!" she commanded, suddenly full of vigor. Kindle at once became ablaze, preparing to toss the ghost from its back.

Nicolai emitted a ferocious grin, simply beckoning Rolf to "Crunch it." Mimicing its masters smile, Rolf beared its darkly fangs and prepared to defeat Mima by means of a pincer attack. Kouji proceeded to scratch the back of his head ferociously, realizing that they were quickly going to throw this bout if he and Mykeisha didn't start working together. In a stroke of pure reflex, Kouji dashed towards the stalking Rolf and delivered a drop kick square into its jaw, effectively bewildering both master and Mightyena.

"U-uh-" Nicolai stuttered, having never seen a human attack a Pokemon directly, "R-Rolf, Crunch him instead!"

Faster than Kouji could leap out of the hounds way, however, Wattson sprinted between him and his assailant, taking the full brunt of Rolf's jaws. Tossing Wattson aside like a ragdoll, Rolf readied himself, now distracted from his initial order.

"We've gotta start communicating, Mykeisha," Kouji stated firmly, withdrawing a severly injured Wattson to his Pokeball and exchanging him for Croc, "Tell me what your plan is and we'll see that it gets done."

"Keep that up and you will become a ghost" Mykeisha told him, and then called an order out to her Pokemon. "Mima, Destiny Bond!" Mima jumped off the flaming Pokemon's back, already having taken damage from the attack, and started glowing in a purple aura. By now, Mima looked like an old doll on the verge of falling apart, yet it's mouth was still forced into a grin. However, now that she pulled the Destiny Bond card, she was more or less safe. Growlithe was pretty beat up, and would likely succumb to Curse, so as long as any Pokemon but Growlithe attacked Mima, she would have served her
purpose.

Then Mykeisha glanced back at Kouji. He wanted a plan. Considering he almost hurt himself trying to protect an inferior Pokemon, Mykeisha couldn't tell if he was more or less deserving of the Cataclysmic title. This caused her to smirk a bit.

"Listen, Mr. Half-Living," she told him, "Mima will be fine, she has her own magic tricks ready, she's quite the charming demon. Just do me a favour and blow out that little dying flame for me, alright?"
Had Kouji not been presently engaged in an op, he likely would have given Mykeisha a drop kick of her own. However, for the time being, Kouji would have to withhold his anger at her bizarre lack of sense and focus on the task at hand.

"Croc, let's take that Growlithe for a swim." Kouji ordered Croc, who more than willingly obliged as he immersed himself in water and blasted towards Annika's Kindle. Between the super effective strike and the curse that had taken its toll, Kindle slumped over in defeat.

"No...Kindle! Return!" Annika lamented, withdrawing her exhausted Growlithe. "Sheldon, it's all up to you now..."
She hesitantly let loose her final combatant, a far more experienced looking Cloyster.

"We aren't out of this yet, Annika," Nicolai reassured, "Rolf, Howl! We'll take as many of them down as we can!" At this command, Rolf howled as loud as he could, appearing to have become quite invigorated.

Kouji didn't imagine Croc would last long against such a strong opponent. He glanced at Mykeisha, who seemed to be unphased by the whole scenario, stating, "I'm not gonna keep Croc out here for too much longer- he can't handle these guys. It looks like your ghost is plotting something- does he need bulk or speedy support?"

"She," Mykeisha corrected, "Mima, Destiny Bond again! Mina, it's aura having faded quickly, grew bright again. Mykeisha wondered which of the two would be stupid enough to attack Mima.

"Jesus Mykeisha, TALK to me! Kouji snapped, momentarily allowing his frustration to cloud his judgement, before roughly re-composing himself, "Look, if you're not gonna work with me, then you're just getting in my way."

Nicolai grinned a devilish grin, realizing that he could use this situation to his advantage. Bannette was a dangerous opponent- Destiny Bond essentially made it untouchable, but leaving it unchecked, it could curse another one of their team members. Either way, they were down a Pokemon- unless one of the Masked Man's teammates took care of her for them...
"Annika," Nicolai beckoned, "Have Sheldon confuse that Totodile. Trust me!"

Quite confused herself, Annika obliged, ordering Sheldon to hit Croc with Supersonic. The sound waves echoed loudly in Crocs ears, and try as he might, he could not resist the waves influence and began stumbling over himself. Before Kouji could react, however, Croc had charged up a Waterfall and scored a direct hit- unfortunately, it was upon Mima, who still had her Destiny Bond primed. In her weakened state, Mima collapsed, unintentionally taking Croc along with it.

Kouji was furious, though not at Mykeisha- this old timer was far too clever to be a simple attendant. "Alright, NOW I'm pissed," Kouji steeled, withdrawing Croc, "I'm gonna send in my wildcard- do you have anything that can cover a glass cannon?"

Mykeisha put her fan over her face and frowned. A confused Pokemon tended to hurt itself easily, but for one to hurt it's own partner seemed unheard of. But then again, when one was confused, they couldn't tell anything. After all, she'd been confused before. She withdrew her broken doll.

But still, her reputation as a Cataclysm was in stake. Mima was pushed aside, having only assisted in taking down one Pokemon. She could not afford to be demoted, as Cataclysm was all she really had in the living world, the only opportunity to do anything in her endless existence, and if her rank had dropped, she would have not that closeness to the higher-ups of which she was comfortable with.

"Frosslass, Houndoom, Torterra, Gardevoir, Lapras," She said slowly. She didn't really have much choice but to ball up her dignity to speak like a normal person, not that she disliked Kouji, but she simply did not like being straight, or just interacting and cooperating with the living directly, as it was clear to her that there was an obvious boundary, even though she was only imagining it.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kouji Ichigaara Character Portrait: Mykeisha Bruma Character Portrait: Cassandra Thorne Character Portrait: Jeremy Thrall Character Portrait: Kojiro Takashi (WIP:Poke History)
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#, as written by Eskay
Kouji thought for a minute, before quickly putting Ether's ball away, instead tossing Bignacious into the fray. Ether was Kouji's only special sweeper, while Mykeisha's team had compartively more.

"Changed my mind- you should do the brunt of the attacking. I'll have Big here draw in most of the aggro, so send in something that can blast 'em.

Annika, starting to get the hang of her position, once again beckoned her Cloyster to use Supersonic. Bignacious, wily of Supersonics properties, instinctively plugged his ears as tight as he could, preventing confusion. Nicolai didn't seem phased, however.

"Rolf, show him the power of you fangs!" Nicolai ordered, adopting a much more intense demeanor. Rolf willingly obliged, charging at Big with all he had. Though he successfully sunk his teeth into Bigs arm, the gentle giant's bulk proved much too hardened to be phased significantly, and though hurt, still had little trouble throwing the mutt to the wayside. Rolf stood back up, primed and awaiting orders.

Mykeisha decided that was enough time for her to wait. She released another Pokemon. A Houndoom materialized and growled. It wasn't prepared to fail again. "Foul Play," Mykeisha said sternly. Houndoom immediately darted toward it's dark canine challenger and tackled it, sending both of them rolling.

Rolf was too focused upon Bignacious to see the darting Houndoom- he was taken completely off guard, suffering a critical hit from the strike. He limped away from his newest assailant, nearing his Trainer. With a renewed sense of focus, he simply ordered Rolf to launch a Hyper Beam in retalation. He primed himself on all fours, opening his mouth as wide as it could open. Out of his oral cavity burst a golden beam of energy, heading right for Mykeisha's Houndoom. Houndoom, however, refused to move, seeming intent on taking the attack full on, simply to protect it's trainer. Mykeisha didn't utter a single command, and simply watched the attack land.

Annika fret, knowing full well that this was her last Pokemon. In a defensive maneuver, she nervously ordered Sheldon to Withdraw. This turned out to be fortuitous, as the maneuver successfully blocked an instinctive Brick Break from Bignacious's enormous paw.

"Do you fear death?" Mykeisha asked the woman, before issuing another attack to Houndoom, whom of which was still standing, having survived the last attack. "Shadow Ball and Iron Tail!" Houndoom, taking advantage of Rolf's recharge time to attack it with a ghostly purple orb, and then dashed at the defenseless Pokemon, it's tail glowing white, and delivered a powerful blow to the hyena Pokemon.

Rolf, weakened from both battle and his most recent attack, proved quite incapable of dodging Houndoom's onslaught, and consequently succumbed to the barrage. Noticeably jarred from the recent development, Nicolai recalled his friend, beckoning his final Pokemon.

"Venus, let's end this!" Nicolai summoned. Annika, having adopted a far more observant demeanor, noticed an opening in Mykeisha's Houndoom following its recent victory.

"Sheldon, hit Houndoom with a Hydro Pump!" she ordered, to which Sheldon instinctively obliged.

Bignacious, however, was listening, and just as the cannon of pressurized water hurtled towards Houndoom, he jumped to intercept the blast, taking the full brunt of the attack. The blast left him winded, but Big still had more than enough stamina to flash a toothy grin and a 'thumbs up' to Houndoom.

Houndoom didn't give anymore acknowledgement to the big Pokemon than a glance. Houndoom never took to kindly to anyone but it's trainer, and by occasional extension, the rest of her Pokemon. However, had Bignacious not intervened, Houndoom would have shamed it's master once again.

"Tell me, does the Ichigaara wish to finish this fight, or can we do a little more haunting?" However, though normal-types like Bignacious were designed to last long times, fire-types burned out quickly, and Mykeisha knew it.
Kouji couldn't be certain as to how many Pokemon were left on the opponents side- however, judging by their sudden apprehension, he could assume that they were on their last legs.

"I think we should divide and conquer right now. Big'll hold off her Cloyster so you can take out the Plant. He wasn't too familiar with the names of the Hoenn breeds, "They're starting to look a little worried- I think we've got this."

Bignacious looked back at his trainer for further commands, receiving simply the image of Kouji pounding his right fist into his open left palm. Knowing full well what that meant, he reared back, aiming to deliver another Brick Break to the hapless Sheldon.

"Clamp!!" Annika cried out, desperate to keep her companion in the game. Without a hitch, the Pokemon opened his fortress-like shell and immediately closed it back down upon the gentle giant's fist. This move, though taking Bignacioius off guard, ultimately turned out to be Sheldon's demise. As if by instinct, Bignacious began repeatedly slamming Sheldon into the ground, using the strength of his Brick Break to systematically pound away at Sheldon's stamina. After several strikes, the battle-weary Sheldon had reached the end of its run, fainting under the super-effectiveness of the Fighting attack. Utterly dejected, Annika withdrew Sheldon into his Pokeball.

"She's not sending out any more. Looks like it's one on two now...

Despite having asked Jeremy for his opinion on going down to the front, Kojiro began walking that way anything. Apparently the question was more of a statement of intent. There was an undisguised spring in his step as he went to the stairs, and even as he began his way down them. Beneath the helmet, he had the type of happy smile that belonged to a person who was no longer sober. His stride was unrushed, but unlike his usual rushed or predatory gait his stride was instead truly casual. Like he was simply taking a stroll for the pleasure of the stroll itself. Cassandra was the first to arrive within his field of view as he finished his descent- then came the battle... a one vs two...he assumed the remains of a former double.

"Well it looks like everyone is just about ready to leave," Kojiro's voice no longer held any of its usual tones. The voice seemed like that of a spectator simply sitting back and enjoying a show without any form of urgency but manifestly enjoying himself. "So guys, in light of the sudden increase in our recruited personelle. I've been thinking a slight training camp is in order to get them up to par...does a fifteen win streak endurance battle against their fellow recruits sound enough? I'm thinking that and a battle to be graded by an active member should be enough... or do you think I'm going to easy or harsh on the prospectives?" The lack of sarcasm and apparent genuine concern should have raised a flag or two if someone was paying attention to his current mannerisms.

Kouji's intent focus was abruptly broken at the appearance of Kojiro. Nodding at his hint to vacate the tower, Kouji recalled Bignacious, deciding to address Nicolai.

"You're not too bad," Kouji commended, "Believe it or not, I'm actually on your side. When the time comes, I hope you use your power for something worthwhile..."

He then turned to Mykeisha, "I think we're done here."

"Shame," Mykeisha responded, as if she actually was having fun, "Well, I suppose no more violence needs to occur, even if it's against our morals as Cataclysms. Spirits, living and dead, should be allowed to rest. Memories too..." At that, she turned, her fan up to here face. Her canine Pokémon approached alongside her. The fire Pokemon emitted blue Will-o-Wisps from it's mouth, which circled the the two of them like spirits. The ghostly flames spun around faster and faster, until the two of them burst into flames of which lit up the entire room. Then, the two of them were gone. Twice now had Mykeisha burst into flames that week.

With Lynn now secluded back in her pokeball, although she probably despited it, Jeremy followed after Kojiro. His black shoes making wet squelches as he stepped on the soaked carpet. Lynn had preformed well, if she wasn't so energetic she would be a far greater contribution to the team. They understood each other well, as was the same with all his pokemon, but on the greater scale he can't totally predict her. He followed after Kojiro, the man went for the full face covering mask which wasn't suspicious at all, Theatrics weren't Jeremy's style.

"As long as they get some sort of test I don't really care less."

The following morning, the sun rose over the mountains and upon Lavender Town, just as it always had. There were no zombies, of course, as some tended to think of Lavender as the type of place where that happens. People asked a traveling, living girl about that all the time. But now, her spirit simply watched the quiet lavender-colored town wake up, sitting on the very roof of the Pokémon Tower, a radio tower of which broadcasted all over Kanto.

Though she'd initially came to haunt the place as the vengeful spirit she was, she learned accept that some things needed to be let go. Just as the living needed to let go of the passed, the passed needed to let go of themselves. Perhaps then, more spirits, like herself, could be put to rest.

But now, she had more present matters to take care of. With the promotion of a member in such a small group, meant that attention towards performance within the higher ranks would be slightly increased, and with that, the likelyhood that somebody falling behind would be demoted, and that pointed toward the ever so lax and carefree Mykeisha. In fact, as of lately, she'd had to win battles by cowardly methods before she could show weakness. She seemed to be causing her Pokémon to faint more often. Unless she did something impressive, she'd become overshadowed by the ever-so-daring Kouji, who was likely to only get better. Thus, she needed to consider some serious training. Only Mima and Houndoom were ever meant for combat, the rest having been trained as contest Pokémon. She just needed to find the right way.

As Mykeisha gazed upon the town, legs hanging off the side, a Pokemon fluutered in her direction. A large butterfly Pokémon, not the Kanto-native Butterfree, but of another kind, Beautifly. Mykeisha stuck her hand out and let the Pokémon land on her finger. At the sight of the cheery Pokémon, she smiled. Perhaps it was this Pokémon's doing that the Morning Sun was so beautiful.