Trial of the Phoenix

Chapter 2: Enter Noir Mask

The evening sun had begun to set as Ash, Misty, and Lisa continued on their journey to Ecruteak City. But what the trio did not know was that they were being followed. In the sky above was a hot air balloon in the shape of a cat’s head, though it was an odd looking cat. It was cream-colored and had black ears, very big eyes, and two whiskers on each cheek. Whoever had designed the balloon seemed to have neglected to give the cat a nose, but adorning its forehead was a large gold charm. Attached to the side of this cathead balloon on the right side was what appeared to be the cat’s arm with its paw raised, and on the back was the tail, which was light-brown at the end and curled.

Riding in the green basket of the balloon was a young man with somewhat long lavender hair and a young woman with long almost dark-red hair wearing almost identical outfits that featured white shirts, both with a big red letter R on the front. Beneath these white shirts was a black undershirt, though the young woman’s outfit revealed her mid drift. Another difference was that while the young man wore white pants, the young woman wore a white skirt that ended well above the knees. Both members of the duo also wore black boots and gloves, though the woman’s boots ended above her knees and her gloves went past her elbows.

“Have you spotted them yet James?” the young woman asked rather impatiently.

“That I have Jessie.” The young man known as James said as he spied on Ash’s group through binoculars.

“Well it’s about time.” Jessie huffed. “I can’t believe you lost them in that forest.”

“It looks like the twerps have a new friend with them.” James observed. “Some girl with black hair.”

“Eh, at twerp’s a twerp.” A voice said from the floor of the basket. The creature that spoke was a large cream-colored cat whose likeness was used for the balloon, though it had a body and stood on its hind legs. “Besides, it won’t matter how many of ‘em are once my new super sucker is finished.”

“How long will it take to build it Meowth?” Jessie asked the cat.

“Probably a couple of days.” Meowth answered as he looked over some schematic drawings. “But once it’s done we’ll be able to suck Pikachu, Togepi, and any other Pokemon those twerps got right up to us with even having to leave our balloon.”

“Excellent!” Jessie exclaimed happily. “Soon Pikachu will finally be all ours.”

Jessie’s celebration was short lived, as suddenly something flying at high speed went past the balloon. Its pass was soon followed by the sound of fabric tearing and air escaping. The trio screamed as the balloon plummeted back down to earth.

“What was that?” James asked moments after the balloon had crash-landed.

“I think I know.” Meowth said as he pointed up to the sky.

Jessie and James looked up to see a small black bird flying through the air. It had a large yellow crooked beak and it looked as if it was wearing a hat on its head. Its tail looked similar to a feather duster.

“Is that a Murkrow?” James asked.

“The nerve of that thing to take down our balloon like that!” Jessie shouted as she stormed off into the forest in the same direction as the Murkrow. “I’m gonna teach that bird brain a lesson!”

“Jessie, wait!” James called as he and Meowth followed after Jessie.

The trio chased after the Murkrow for several minutes until it landed in some nearby bushes. Just as Jessie was about to follow Murkrow in and pound it into the ground, a creature lunged out at the trio, causing them to scream and jump back several feet. The thing that had jumped out at them was a fox-like creature that stood on its hind legs at a height of five feet. It had a pointed snout and ears and its upper torso was covered in thick black fur. Much of the rest of its fur was dark-grey, but it had a large mass of red fur on the top of its head tied back into a ponytail by a teal orb. Red fur also rimed the creature’s blue eyes, and the inside of its ears and its claws were red as well.

“W-what is that thing?” a frightened James asked.

“Whatever it is, I hope it doesn’t wanna eat us!” an even more frightened Meowth replied.

“He’s called a Zoroark.” A female voice suddenly said. “And he has no appetite for losers like you.”

Stepping out from the bushes was a girl who looked to be about thirteen. The Murkrow the trio had been chasing was perched on her right shoulder. The girl had very pale skin and blond hair that ended just past her shoulders. A black mask with light-blue lenses covered the top half of her face. Aside from the mask the girl also wore a black shirt that had a large red letter R on the front and a white skirt with a red band near the bottom that ended just above the knees. She also wore white knee-high boots with a red strip near the top, and elbow-high gloves of a similar design. Atop of the girl’s head was a black cap with a red feather sticking out the right side, and around her neck was a white cape that was draped down over her left arm and went down as far as her skirt.

“You get lost on the way to a costume party of somethin’?” Meowth asked the masked girl.

“Wow, a talking Meowth.” The girl observed. “I thought whoever wrote the file on you guys was trying to make some kind of weird joke. But I can obviously see that it’s true.”

“Who are you?” Jessie demanded to know.

“Oh yeah, almost forgot to introduce myself.” The girl realized. “I am Noir Mask, a special agent of Team Rocket sent here to investigate your activities.”

“You, a member of Team Rocket?” Jessie laughed. “Yeah right.”

“You guys too, huh?” Noir Mask sighed. “Every time I go on one of these missions it’s the same thing. ‘She can’t be member of Team Rocket. She’s way too young.’ It gets real old after awhile. Now look, I came here because reports at HQ said you three were wasting your time on a pointless mission! So you better cooperate or it won’t be pretty!”

“Yeah right. Get lost kid!” Meowth told her, but he flinched when Zoroark growled at in as a response.

“Okay, it looks like I once again need to prove I’m not kidding around.” Noir Mask said as she pulled out a large silver disc-shaped device with a blue gem in the center from behind her back.

She put the disc down on the ground, and in seconds the blue gem lit up and projected a blue hologram of a man with slicked back hair wearing a suit sitting in a. Sitting next to the man was a very large cat with black ears and a small gemstone on its forehead. The man stroked the top of the cat’s head.

“It’s the boss!” Jessie, James, and Meowth exclaimed in unison. They recognized the man as the absolute leader of Team Rocket, and the cat as his cherished pet, a Persian.

“Report Noir Mask.” The hologram ordered.

“Giovanni sir, I have located Team Rocket members Jessie and James.” Noir Mask reported. “They are refusing to cooperate with me.”

“Not taking you seriously because of your age I assume.” Giovanni observed. “Do not trouble yourself Noir Mask, with time that will no longer be a problem.”

“Sir, is this girl really a member of Team Rocket?” Jessie asked hesitantly.

“Noir Mask is one of my top agents.” Giovanni confirmed with a hint of annoyance in his voice. “Which is more than I can say for you three. Now you ordered to give Noir Mask your full cooperation.”

“Yes boss.” Jessie, James, and Meowth said together.

“It’s all yours.” Giovanni said to Noir Mask.

“A few years ago the three of you were fairly well-known agents, but after awhile you stopped reporting back to HQ. Care to explain what you’ve been doing all this time?” Noir Mask asked the trio.

“We’ve been pursuing a trainer with a very rare and powerful Pokemon.” Jessie obediently answered.

“Oh I see, and just what is this rare Pokemon?” Noir Mask asked somewhat sarcastically. “Is it a Metagross, a Dragonite perhaps?”

“It’s actually a Pikachu.” James admitted.

“A Pikachu? Really?” Noir Mask said in a very unimpressed tone. “I’ll admit that Pikachu are rather uncommon, but I hardly think that there’s one worth the time and effort you’ve put into chasing.”

“But this Pikachu is special.” Meowth cut in.

“Do you happen to have a picture of this ‘special Pikachu’ you been after?” Noir Mask asked. James walked over and handed her a surveillance photo of Ash and Pikachu. Right away Noir Mask looked at it. “Seems like an ordinary Pikachu to me.”

“But it is special!” Meowth insisted. “It beat us the first time we ran across it. When that happened we knew that were dealin’ with a Pokemon that was truly unique.”

“Or it just proved that you three are way weaker than you think.” Noir Mask retorted. “Either way I think I see what’s going on. You ran across some trainer with a Pikachu. They happened to beat you, you wanted to get back at them, you were beaten again, and soon you became obsessed. By now I’m sure your skills as Team Rocket members has deteriorated.”

“We’ll have you know that we’re as strong as we ever were!” Jessie declared sounding insulted.

“Interesting. Let’s test that, shall we?” Giovanni interrupted. “The three of you shall face Noir Mask in a battle. If you’re able to defeat her then perhaps you are as strong as you claim. But if you can’t defeat her it may be time to reconsider your place in Team Rocket.”

“An excellent idea sir.” Noir Mask agreed. “So how ‘bout it you three? Think you can take me?”

“Prepare for trouble ‘cause we’re taking you down!” Jessie declared as she took a dramatic pose.

“Make it double, we’re not playing around!” James added as he also took a dramatic pose.

Zoroark suddenly fired several black energy rings from his mouth at the ground in front of the trio, causing them to cry out.

“What the hell are you doing?” Noir Mask asked impatiently.

“Our motto.” James explained with an insulted look. “We do it every time we enter battle. It leaves a dazzling impression of who we are.”

“And just how long does your little introduction take?” Noir Mask asked. “You’re leaving yourselves wide open to enemy attack by doing that nonsense.”

“No one’s ever attack us durin’ the motto before.” Meowth argued. “And we’ve been doin’ it for years.”

“Then obviously the trainers you’ve been doing it in front of are bigger idiots than you three.” Noir Mask retorted.

“Now see here you little…!” Jessie began to curse.

“Just get on with it you three!” Giovanni shouted, causing the trio to flinch.

“Okay then, go Arbok!” Jessie called as she threw out a Pokeball. Emerging from the thrown ball was a very large purple cobra with a red, black, and yellow design on the front of its hood that looked like a monstrous face.

“Go Weezing!” James called as he threw out his own Pokeball.

Coming out of the thrown ball was a large floating grayish-purple ball with several bumps on it and a large face without a nose. Just below the face was a white symbol that resembled a skull and crossbones symbol. Attached to the left side of this creature was a smaller almost identical creature that was smaller in size.

“Go Meowth!” Meowth cried as he joined his two Pokemon comrades on the battlefield.

“An Arbok, a Weezin, and a freakish Meowth.” Noir Mask said with a smirk. “Okay then, to take on Arbok I choose Pawniard!”

Emerging from Noir Mask’s thrown ball was a short somewhat humanoid creature that looked like it was wearing a mostly black helmet that was red on top and had a curved blade sticking out on the forehead. Its torso was dark-grey, and sticking out on the front were two bladed discs that gave the impression of ribs. Its arms and legs looked as if they were covered in red armor, and instead of hands it had silver blades.

“To take on Weezing I choose Deino!” Noir Mask announced as she threw out another ball.

Emerging from the ball was a blue dog-sized lizard like creature with a long neck. Black fur covered its neck and most of its head, leaving only its snout visible. Suddenly Deino began to glow with a white light and change shape. When the light cleared Deino had become much large and had grown a second head right next to its first. A pair of ribbon-like wings had formed on its back.

“Oh wow! My cute little Deino has evolved into a Zweilous.” Noir Mask said happily. “Anyway, to take on Meowth I choose Zoroark.”

Zoroark loomed over Meowth and growled.

“Can I switch with Weezing?” a frightened Meowth begged.

“You’d rather face a two-headed dragon?” Noir Mask retorted.

“Uh, never mind.” Meowth said, quickly taking back his previous suggestion.

“Arbok, attack with Poison Sting!” Jessie commanded.

Arbok opened its mouth and fired off several blue glowing needles. The needles bounced harmlessly off the armored Pokemon.

“You’re using a poison attack against a Steel-type Pokemon?” Noir Mask laughed. “You do know that Steel-types aren’t damaged by Poison-type attacks, right?”

“Of course I know that!” Jessie lied. “I was… just seeing of you did.”

“How pathetic. Pawniard, use Night Slash!” Noir Mask commanded.

Pawniard’s right arm bald started glowing with a purple light. The little armored Pokemon charged forward and sliced Arbok across the midsection. The purple cobra fell to the ground unconscious.

“Go Weezing, use Smog attack!” James commanded.

Weezing breathed out a thick purplish smoke from both its mouths. Zweilous suddenly flew up a few feet in the air to dodge the attack.

“Dragon Rush Zweilous!” Noir Mask commanded. A blue light surrounded Zweilous’s body. The two-headed dragon then rammed into Weezing at top speed, causing the toxic ball of gas to be hurled into a nearby tree. “Finish it off with Dragon Breath!”

Zweilous breathed out streams of green flames from the mouths of both its heads at Weezing. When the attack had ended, Weezing fell to the ground out cold.

“Fury Swipes!” Meowth cried as he bared his claws and leapt at Zoroark.

“Dark Pulse.” Noir Mask commanded in a bored tone.

Zoroark hit Meowth with another blast of black energy rings, propelling the feline Pokemon into the same tree that Weezing hit.

“I give up.” Meowth announced in a dazed tone.

“Well that was pretty easy.” Noir Mask commented as she called Pawniard and Zweilous back to their Pokeballs. “It’s clear to me that you three aren’t even fit to clean the toilets back at HQ.”

“I think I’ve seen enough.” Giovanni interrupted. “Jessie, James, and Meowth, as of this moment you are hereby expelled from Team Rocket.”

Jessie, James, and Meowth all had shocked expression on their faces after hearing Giovanni’s decree. They could not believe they had been banished from the organization that they had given years of their lives to.

“As for you Noir Mask, you are to take over their mission in case this Pikachu they’ve been after actually is special in some way.” Giovanni continued. “Surly you should be able to complete the mission far faster than they could.”

“Of course sir.” Noir Mask replied. “What do you want done with those three idiots over there?”

“Do what you wish with them.” Giovanni answered.

With that, the hologram of Giovanni and his Persian vanished. Noir Mask turned to face the trio and pulled out another Pokeball from behind her back. The top half of this particular Pokeball was purple and had two pink circles on the top. Just above the button was a small with letter M. But just as Noir Mask was about to send out whatever was in the Pokeball, she looked at the trio and sighed.

“No, you three are too pathetic to experience my hell.” Noir Mask said as she put back the Pokeball. “I really do pity you three, especially you Jessie. It’s a real shame that the daughter of an elite agent like Miyamoto turned out to be such a failure.”

“Wait, you’re saying my mother worked for Team Rocket?” Jessie asked with an expression of utter shock.

“You mean you didn’t know?” Noir Mask asked in a somewhat surprised tone. “Your mother was one of Team Rocket’s top agents from what I’ve read.”

“What do you mean was?” Jessie demanded. “What happened to her?”

“I guess you do have a right to know.” Noir Mask said. “She apparently disappeared on a mission to capture the Legendary Pokemon known as Mew.”

Jessie was absolutely stunned by this revelation. For years she had wondered what had happened to her mother, and at last she had finally found out.

“Well, I should be going.” Noir Mask said to the trio. “I do have to clean up your mess after all. You three have a good life.”

With that, Noir Mask and Zoroark walked past the trio in the direction that Ash, Misty, and Lisa were headed when the trio had been following them by air.

“So what do we do now?” James asked.

Jessie called Arbok back to its Pokeball and began walking off in a random direction.

“Hey Jess, where’re ya goin’?” Meowth asked.

“To find my mother.” Jessie answered simply.

James and Meowth both looked at each other for a moment. James called Weezing back to its ball and in moments he and Meowth began following Jessie.