Trial of the Phoenix

Chapter 3: More Than a Friend

Night had fallen and Ash, Misty, and Lisa decided to camp out in another forest clearing. They had a quick dinner and had decided to turn in early, for they wanted to get an early start in order to reach Ecruteak City before the end of the next day. The sky above was lit by thousands of stars and the forest around the three was filled with the gentle sounds of Hoothoot, the Owl Pokemon. Ash, Pikachu, and Togepi had gone to sleep hours before, but Lisa and Misty had decided to stay up and look at the stars for a while longer. They talked quietly amongst themselves about various topics, of their families, their preference for Pokemon, and it seemed that the two of them were starting to become good friends.

“Wow, I never thought I’d get along so well with someone who likes Fire Pokemon so much.” Misty said to Lisa.

“We fire users aren’t all bad you know.” Lisa joked. “But don’t think for a minute that you could take me down easily if we ever battled.”

“You probably would be a challenge. Especially since you have Entei.” Misty pointed out. “Anyway, it’s kinda refreshing to be traveling with another girl.”

“Even so, I must be ruining your alone time with your boyfriend Ash over there.” Lisa assumed.

“A-Ash isn’t my boyfriend!” Misty frantically denied, as her face suddenly turned a deep scarlet.

“Oh… I get it.” Lisa said with a sly grin. “But I bet you wish he was right?”

“I…” Misty began to retort, but she couldn’t get the words to come out.

“I’m right, aren’t I?” Lisa guessed. “I mean it’s written all over your face.”

“…Is it that obvious?” Misty asked with a slightly embarrassed expression.

“Hey, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.” Lisa assured her. “So how long have you felt this way about him?”

“About a year, maybe a little longer than that.” Misty admitted. “At first I couldn’t stand him. I mostly followed him so he’d pay me back for the bike that he ruined. But after awhile I really started to like him, and then…”

“So have you told Ash how you feel about him?” Lisa asked.

“No.” Misty sighed. “I mean I’ve tried to a few times, but something keeps getting in the way. Plus I don’t think he feels the same way about me. Ash is so immature, and the only thing he seems to think about is Pokemon battles. I just think it would be a waste of time.”

“You need to tell him.” Lisa suddenly said with a very serious expression. “Maybe Ash doesn’t feel the same way about you as you feel about him, but you have to tell him how you feel anyway as soon as possible. Because if you wait too long he may be gone one day and you’ll have missed out on your chance, and you’ll regret missing out on that chance for the rest of your life. Believe me… I know that all too well.”

“Lisa, are you talking about that friend of yours who died?” Misty asked. Lisa said nothing and only looked at Misty with the saddest eyes that Misty had ever seen.

“…We should get some sleep if we want to reach Ecruteak tomorrow.” Lisa finally responded before lying down to face away from Misty.

Misty could see that Lisa didn’t want to discuss the matter and decided to get some sleep as well. A few minutes had passed, and just as Misty was about to drift off she heard a loud rustling that caused her to shoot up in her sleeping bag. She heard the rustling yet again which caused her to look around.

“Is somebody there?” Misty asked with a hint of fear in her voice.

Her question was quickly answered when Zoroark suddenly leapt from the nearby bushes and roared. The monster fox’s appearance quickly awoke Ash and Lisa, along with Pikachu and Togepi. They quickly noticed Zoroark’s presence in the camp.

“What Pokemon is that?” Ash asked.

“I’ve seen a picture of that Pokemon once before. I think it’s called a Zoroark.” Lisa answered as she slowly got up.

“Well, well, it seems that someone in this group is quite knowledgeable.” A female voice suddenly said.

Moments later Noir Mask emerged from the bushes. She looked around at the group and looked shocked at seeing Lisa.

“W-what’re you…?” Noir Mask began to ask Lisa as she stepped backward a little.

“Who are you?” Lisa demanded to know.

“You… don’t know who I am?” Noir Mask said in a surprised tone.

“I think I’d remember seeing someone like you before. Now who are you?” Lisa demanded again. Noir Mask’s lips curved into an amused smirk.

“I am Noir Mask, a special agent of Team Rocket!” Noir Mask announced. “Care to tell me who you are?”

“Lisa Flare.” Lisa replied. “I’ve heard about Team Rocket since coming to this region. You’re all a bunch of thieves who steal Pokemon, right?”

“…What of it?” Noir Mask asked coldly.

“Stealing and abusing Pokemon the way you people do. You’re nothing but scum!” Lisa declared. “I can’t stand people like you!”

“Yes, I’m sure you’re merciless to thieves, even if you know them personally.” Noir Mask responded with a hint of bile in her voice. “Anyway, I was assigned the mission of acquiring your friend’s Pikachu.”

“You’re not getting Pikachu!” Ash proclaimed.

“We’ll see about that.” Noir Mask said to Ash. “But first I’d like to take on your friend Lisa in battle.”

“I’m in no mood to fight scum like you right now!” Lisa declared. “Go Entei!”

Entei emerged from the thrown Pokeball with a roar. The appearance of the great beast of fire startled both Noir Mask and Zoroark.

“Entei? How did you…?” Noir Mask began to asked.

“Roar Entei!” Lisa commanded. Entei let out a great roar that frightened Zoroark and caused it to go back into its Pokeball.

“Use Thunder Bolt Pikachu!” Ash commanded.

“Pik… a… CHU!” the little electric rodent cried as it shot off a large bolt of yellow lightning.

The attack hit the ground right in front of Noir Mask, creating a huge cloud of dust. Lisa called Entei back to its ball while Misty grabbed Togepi. The group then took the opportunity and ran off, and by the time the dust in front of Noir Mask cleared they were gone. Noir Mask hit a nearby tree with her fist in frustration.

“How could she be here?” Noir Mask asked herself. “How?”

Meanwhile, Ash and the others had stopped running once they had gone a certain distance into the forest.

“Okay, I think we lost her.” Lisa said to the other two as they all caught their breath.

“She’ll probably be back though.” Misty assumed. “This isn’t the first time that Team Rocket has come after Pikachu.”

“You mean you’ve run into that masked girl before?” Lisa asked sounding a bit surprised.

“No, it’s been some other guys from Team Rocket that have been after Pikachu.” Ash answered. “Noir Mask seems a lot worse though.”

“Yeah, I’ve never seen a Pokemon like her Zoroark before.” Misty agreed.

“Well, it’ll probably be awhile before she comes after us again.” Lisa reasoned. “We should probably get some sleep in this spot and move out as early as possible in the morning. Hopefully this Noir Mask won’t find us before then.”

* * *

Meanwhile, Noir Mask walked through another part of the forest until she came to a small cave. She went in and sat against the wall of the cave entrance to rest. The simple mission to capture a Pikachu had become far more complicated than she ever expected. Of all the people to run into on the mission, Noir Mask did not dream she would encounter Lisa Flare. And the fact that Lisa had the legendary Entei complicated things even more. After a few moments, Noir Mask decided to contact Giovanni and inform him of the situation. She activated the metal disc and in moments a hologram of Giovanni and his Persian appeared before her.

“Report.” Giovanni ordered.

“There’s been an unexpected development in the mission sir.” Noir Mask reported. “One of the trainers accompanying the boy with the Pikachu has an Entei in her possession.”

“What?” Giovanni said with a look of surprise.

“Unfortunately I was unprepared for this and they managed to get away.” Noir Mask added. “For that I apologize.”

“It is understandable I suppose.” Giovanni told her. “This changes things greatly. As of now you are to forget about the Pikachu and focus your efforts in acquiring Entei. That is now your top priority.”

“Understood sir.” Noir Mask replied, and with that the hologram of Giovanni vanished. Noir Mask’s lips curved into a somewhat insane grin. “Well my dear Lisa, it looks like things have turned out better than I could’ve imagined. Soon we’ll finally settle the score between us.”