Where Angels Dare to Tread
by Cori Falls
Chapter 6 -- Close Encounters of the Twerp Kind
When James and Meowth finally returned to the cabin, they laid Jessie on the bed and wrapped a blanket around her. Then, James peeled off his wet, muddy clothes and got dressed in a pair of black jeans and a long-sleeved black shirt.
"So, whadda we do now?" Meowth asked as he removed his trenchcoat and dried his face and paws on a towel. "Just hang tight til Gary gets here?"
"No. I still have something to do," James replied. "Grand-mama said that I need to get the safe-deposit box where she put all of her magical tools...and to do that, I need to make a trip to the bank in Rowandale."
Meowth looked at the clock on the nightstand and frowned. "Uh, James, in case ya haven't noticed, it's four in the mornin'...and the bank is closed on Sunday anyway!"
James rooted around in his backpack for a moment and produced an obsidian pendant from one of the pockets. Once he'd looped the cord around his neck and tucked the pendant into his shirt, he turned back to Meowth and smirked. "I know that. But since when has Team Rocket ever been bound by the limitations of regular business hours?"
Meowth grinned as he realized what his friend was hinting at. "Ah, so we're gonna pull a little bank job?"
"Not quite," James told him. "It isn't technically a robbery since I'm withdrawing something that belongs to me -- I just can't wait around for the bank to open, that's all."
"Ya sure know how ta ruin a cat's fun, Jimmy," Meowth sighed.
James rolled his eyes as he brushed the mud from his boots and put them back on. "Fine. It's a robbery. Happy now?" he said brusquely.
Meowth held up his paws. "I was only kiddin'! Jeez, ya don't hafta snap at me like dat!"
James put on his gloves and ran a hand through his wet hair. "I'm sorry," he muttered. "I just have a lot of stuff on my mind right now, Meowth -- I'm too worried to have much of a sense of humor about anything. I'm trying my best to be strong for Jessie, but I'm so afraid. I'll do whatever it takes to save her, but I'm afraid that no matter what I do, it won't be good enough...." His voice cracked and trailed off as fresh tears welled up in his emerald eyes.
"Come on, Jim, don't do dis," Meowth whispered as James sank to his knees and buried his face in his hands. He reached up and placed a paw on his friend's shoulder. "Don't break down on me now -- you said yerself dat losin' it ain't gonna help Jess!"
"Jimmy, I'm scared outta my mind, and I imagine it's even worse for you since ya understand what it is we're up against," Meowth continued. "But dat's precisely why we gotta stick tagedda...why we gotta keep our cool...and why we need ta have a sense a humor. No matter how bad things get, we still need ta be able ta laugh...even if it's only the laughter of the damned."
James looked down at the cat. "You're pretty philosophical sometimes, Meowth," he commented.
Meowth nudged him with his elbow and winked. "I think yer startin' ta rub off on me."
This made James chuckle.
"So, ya feelin' better now?" Meowth ventured.
James got back to his feet and brushed away his tears. "Better isn't the word I'd use," he replied. "But I do feel less hopeless. Thanks, Meowth."
The cat nodded. "Ah, don't mention it. You kept me from losin' it earlier -- I figured I should return the favor."
"And I appreciate it," James told him. Then, looking at the clock, "We should probably go now."
"Yeah. Breakin' and enterin' is best done under cover a darkness," Meowth agreed.
"That, and we don't have much time to spare," James continued.
"I'd prolly be better off not knowin', but I gotta ask anyway. How much time do we have, James?" Meowth queried.
"Magical energies are at their peak during the full moon," James explained. "Grand-mama said that's when Ayesha is most likely to open her gateway to the nether planes."
"The full moon?! Dat's gonna be...."
"....At midnight tonight."
Meowth sweatdropped and placed a paw on his forehead. "Dat means we've only got twenty hours tops! Shit! I knew I shouldn't of asked!"
"Curiosity. It gets the cat every time," James sighed.
Meowth made a face at him.
Ignoring the cat, James picked up his poke balls and Jessie's and released, Arbok, Weezing, Wobbuffet, and Victreebel. "I need you guys to stay here and watch over Jessie for me," he told them.
When the four pokemon looked and saw Jessie lying unconscious on the bed, they went to her side and nuzzled against her. Arbok and Wobbuffet began to cry.
"I know. We're all upset, and we're all worried...and we're all frightened," James continued as Weezing and Victreebel sadly turned to face him again. "But we're going to save her. Meowth and I need to get some things in town, and Jessie needs you here. If we all do our part, she'll be fine. I promise."
His words reassured Weezing and Victreebel somewhat, but Arbok and Wobbuffet continued to cry.
James gave the four of them a comforting pat. Then, he leaned down and kissed Jessie's cold lips again. "You hear that, sweetheart? You're going to be fine -- we're all pulling for you, and even Gary is on his way to help." After caressing Jessie's face for a moment and running his fingers through her hair, he turned his attention back to Meowth.
"Ya ready?" the cat asked as he put his trenchcoat back on.
James nodded and grabbed his own trenchcoat. "Yeah. Let's go," he replied. "We'll be back as soon as we can," he said to the pokemon. "Just remember to stay on guard and do whatever you can to protect Jessie while we're gone."
Arbok, Weezing, Victreebel, and Wobbuffet nodded and gathered more closely around Jessie as they watched James and Meowth take their leave.
When James and Meowth arrived at the bank in Rowandale, it was a little after five in the morning. The sky was still dark, and the weather was still stormy, but the first gray light of dawn could be seen peeking over the eastern horizon.
"Come on," James said as he and Meowth ducked into an alley behind the bank. "Let's get in and get out before this town starts to wake up."
Meowth wrapped his arms around himself and shivered.
Making their way around the building, the two of them presently found the back entrance.
"So, ya gonna use a jimmy, Jimmy?" Meowth queried. "Or are lock-picks yer weapon a choice?"
James gave no reply as he brought out his tool kit and opened a panel on the wall next to the door. After unscrewing the cover-plate, he studied the panel for a few minutes and began to clip and rearrange the wires.
Meowth sweatdropped. "Are you crazy?!" he hissed. "Yer gonna set off the alarm!"
"And forcing the door open won't?" James retorted. After switching a few more wires, the electronic lock was deactivated. He gave the cat a smug grin as he turned the knob, and the door silently swung open.
"Awright, quit yer gloatin' -- I stand corrected," Meowth grumbled.
"It's better this way," James told him. "When I deactivated the alarm, I also took the security cameras offline. And if I put the wiring back the way it was when we leave, it'll just look like the power went out for awhile...which isn't hard to believe, considering this vile weather -- nobody will suspect a thing."
"Good thinkin'!" Meowth said as he followed James inside. The cat smiled again. "I don't give a Raticate's ass what anybody sez about us bein' losers -- yer a great burglar, James...like a modern day Black Arachnid!"
This made James blush. "Well, I don't know if I'm that good, but...."
"Of course ya are!" Meowth interjected. "I'm gonna let ya in on a little secret, Jimmy. On the night Jess and I went back ta Katalia City ta get yer bottle caps, she told me some stuff about ol' Black Ac...and one of the things she said was dat he reminds her of you. Dat's prolly the biggest reason she admires him so much."
James raised an eyebrow. "Really?"
Meowth nodded. "Ya gotta admit dere's some pretty interestin' parallels -- he was born rich but gave up his money so he could live life on his own terms, his best buddy was a Meowth...hell, I've seen some pictures -- he even looks a bit like you! Who knows? Maybe you was the Black Arachnid in a past life, or somethin'...."
"Maybe," James echoed. "I just hope I can be a hero to Jessie the way he was."
"You are, James," Meowth assured him. "Believe Me-owth, you are."
Once the two of them located a computer terminal, James perused the directory and found the access number for the bank in his hometown. After entering the access number into the computer, an option menu for the Lilac Falls bank popped up. Selecting "transfer" and "withdraw," James closed his eyes and thought for a moment. When he recalled the account number Rose had given him, he entered that into the computer as well. As soon as he typed the number, a message flashed onscreen, requesting identification.
"Oh, great," Meowth muttered.
"Don't worry," James said, producing his wallet. "Grand-mama and grand-papa were leaving all of this stuff to me -- they probably put my name on the account." With that, he brought out his ID card and swiped it through.
"Identification verified. Access granted," the computer said in a robotic feminine voice. Suddenly, the transporter next to the computer terminal switched on, and a large, black box appeared on the tray. "Thank you for doing business with the First International Bank of Kanto and Johto."
James touched his forehead and gave a slight bow to the computer. Then, he removed the black box from the tray. "You're welcome!"
"So, ya got a key for dis thing?" Meowth queried.
James's smile grew even wider than it already was as he ran his fingers along the cold, smooth surface of the box and found a series of grooves in the metal near the lid. When he examined the pattern, he noticed that it was an upright five-pointed star inside of a circle. "Yes, I do. I knew this was what grand-mama was talking about!" he replied, pulling the pendant from beneath his shirt and touching the raised areas that formed the golden pentacle on its lustrous black surface.
Meowth gasped. "Is...is dat one a dose devil symbols?" he asked nervously.
"Only if the star is upside-down. When the star is upright, the pentacle is a powerful tool for blessing and providing protection from evil," James explained as he placed the pendant against the grooves in the box. When he gave the pendant a slight turn and brought it back to the upright position, the lid of the box popped up.
"Hey, cool!" Meowth exclaimed. Then, cupping the pendant in his paws, "Hey, wait a sec! I've seen dis thing before! You was wearin' it dat time ya dressed up like a wizard and played crystal ball with dat lawn ornament I found!"
James nodded. "Grand-mama left her pendant to me when she died -- it was one of her most important tools. I guess she made the special lock on this box since she knew that I'd have the key."
Now Meowth was smiling. "I remember Gary told me dat his pendant used ta belong ta his grandma, too -- I think he said it was her good luck talisman."
"I guess that's something else we have in common, then," James remarked as he opened the box.
Doing a quick scan of its contents, he found a velvet pouch filled with semi-precious stones, a set of candles in several different colors, a small cauldron, and everything else that he'd seen his grand-mama use during the initiation ceremony. There were a few other things tucked beneath a velvet cloth, but James closed the lid and locked the box again before he could see what they were.
"So, what all's in dere?" Meowth queried.
"Everything I need," James replied, tucking the box into the folds of his trenchcoat. "I can go through it more thoroughly later."
"Yeah. I don't wanna hang around dis place any longer den I hafta," Meowth agreed.
James frowned. "Indeed. I have a bad feeling...."
Meowth sweatdropped. "B-bad feelin'? About what?" he stammered.
"I don't know yet," James said. "But I do know that Ayesha isn't going to give Jessie up without a fight. She may already be strong enough to wield her powers outside the boundaries of her city, so the sooner we get back to the cabin, the sooner I can go through grand-mama's tools and find a way to protect us."
"Ya think she's gonna attack us on dis plane?" Meowth asked as he followed James back to the rear entrance of the bank.
James paused for a moment and brought out his tool kit again. "It wouldn't surprise me," he muttered. After rearranging the wires and putting everything back the way he'd found it, he closed the security panel again and shut the door.
The two friends exchanged smiles and gave each other a thumbs-up. Before leaving the shadows of the alley, however, James and Meowth stopped and scanned the streets of Rowandale. It was now almost six, and the black of night had given way to a dreary, gray morning. A young boy was riding his bicycle down the sidewalk, delivering the newspaper to everybody on his route, and a few families in their Sunday best were already on their way to church.
"Shit!" Meowth whispered. "We can't go out dere now -- we'd look too suspicious ta all dose people!"
"And we can't afford to wait, either!" James retorted. "The longer we stay here, the more people there's going to be!"
As the two of them debated whether to wait until the streets had cleared or risk being seen, they heard a low, moaning sound. When they looked, they saw a woman with short, auburn hair staggering up the street. Her head was clutched in her hands, and she was soaking wet, as if she'd been out in the rain all night. Her khaki shirt and pants were stained with what looked like a mixture of coffee and blood.
James gasped. "It's her! That archaeologist the twerps were hanging out with yesterday!"
Meowth's brow furrowed. "Jeez, she looks awful! Did she get the number of the truck dat hit her?"
"Ayesha," James said through clenched teeth. "The twerps must've given Tierra the staff and mask after they blasted us off yesterday...and I'm willing to bet anything that Ayesha took them back from her!"
Suddenly, Tierra moaned again. As she collapsed, she caught the attention of everybody in the area, and they all gathered around her.
"Are you okay, miss?!" "What happened?!" "Somebody get a doctor!" several of the passerby cried.
"E-evil queen...in the ruins. She...she...attacked me...took the staff and mask. Have to...stop her...." Tierra babbled.
As the townspeople began to mutter amongst themselves again, three voices rose above the din of the crowd. "TEAM ROCKET!!!!" they cried in unison.
"Fuck! The twerps are here!" James grumbled, backing further into the shadows.
Meowth buried his face in his paws. "Dammit! Whadda we gonna do now? If dey see us, it's all over!"
"If we know anything about those kids, they'll probably follow the crowd and accompany Tierra to the hospital," came James's reply. "But they think that we attacked her. That means they'll come looking for us eventually."
"Yeah. So whadda we do? Wait here til dey head to the hospital, den haul ass outta town?"
True to James's prediction, once the townspeople managed to calm Tierra down and get her back on her feet, they all began to escort her up the street. As the crowd passed by the alley, James and Meowth hid themselves again. From the shadows, they could see Ash, Misty, and Brock at Tierra's side, pumping her for information about what "that horrible Team Rocket" had done to her.
"We've already been tried, convicted, and condemned, before they've even heard the story," James sighed as he listened to the twerps bad-mouthing him and Jessie. "We just can't win with them, can we?"
"Fuckin' little assholes," Meowth hissed. "God, I hate 'em! I hate 'em so much! I swear, if dey do anythin' ta keep us from savin' Jess, I'll fuckin' kill 'em!" His voice trailed off as he covered his mouth with his paws and began to cry.
"Shhh. It's okay, Meowth," James whispered, placing his hand atop the cat's head. "They're not going to stop us from saving Jessie -- we won't let them."
"I guess," Meowth sniffled.
Once Meowth had regained his composure, James went back to the entrance of the alley and cautiously peeked out. "Alright, the coast is clear! Let's go!" he said.
As the two of them darted out of the alley and began walking down the street, they suddenly heard a familiar voice. "Heeeeey! Hey, mister!"
"Shit! Is dat who I think it is?!" Meowth growled.
"Just keep walking," James said through clenched teeth.
When James and Meowth quickened their pace, Ash called to them again. "Hey, I need your help!" he cried. "Our friend, Tierra, was attacked by Team Rocket last night!"
James stopped walking, but didn't turn to face the boy. "What a shame," he replied.
"I was wondering if you've seen Team Rocket," Ash continued. "One of them is a mean, bossy girl with red hair, one is a stupid, wimpy guy with blue hair, and the other is a talking Meowth -- they all look like a bunch of dumb, ugly losers."
James and Meowth bristled as they listened to him.
"Dumb, ugly losers?! Yer one ta talk! Have ya looked in a mirror lately, ya fuckin' piece a shit?!" Meowth hissed under his breath as he unsheathed his claws.
James gritted his teeth and trembled with anger. "No. Sorry. Haven't seen anybody like that," he said, supressing the urge to drive his fist through Ash's face.
"Well, when I find those bastards, I'm gonna make them pay!" Ash announced.
"That's nice," James mumbled.
As he and Meowth continued on their way, however, Ash started following them again. "Hey, wait a minute! YOU'RE TEAM ROCKET!!!!!" he shouted.
James and Meowth exchanged looks. Then, they began to run.
"YOU GET BACK HERE!!!" Ash screeched. "WHAT DID THAT EVIL BITCH, JESSIE, DO TO TIERRA?!?!"
Those words stopped James dead in his tracks. A cold fire of rage sparked in his emerald eyes as he slowly turned to face Ash. "What the fuck did you just say?" he asked in a low, menacing voice.
"You heard me!" Ash sneered. "What did that bitch do to Tierra?! Answer me right now, you loser!"
"Now see here, twerpo...." Meowth snapped.
James placed his hand on the cat's shoulder and silenced him. "Let me handle this," he said softly. "Nobody insults my Jessie and gets away with it."
Meowth grinned when he saw the look in James's eyes. Oh, dat kid's in trouble now! he thought.
"I knew you guys were evil, but this is a new low!" Ash went on. "I'm gonna make you losers pay for what you've done!"
"Now hold it right there, you fucking little shit-weasel!" James interjected. "How do you know it was us who attacked your friend? Do you have any proof? Did Tierra say it was us?"
"Then where the fuck do you get off accusing us of something like that?!" James demanded.
"YOU'RE TEAM ROCKET!!!!" he screamed.
"Your excuses are ignorant, and your remarks are ill-mannered as well as ill-timed," James said coldly. "Now shut the fuck up and leave us alone, basilisk-boy."
Ash gasped. "AUGH! First you beat up my friend, and now you're going to Baskin Robbins to steal ice cream?! How low can you get?!"
James and Meowth facefaulted.
"Jeezus tap-dancin' Christ! What the hell is dis kid's problem?!" Meowth muttered.
"I can see that reasoning with him isn't a viable option," James remarked. Then, to Ash, "This conversation is over. We're leaving now."
"Oh, no you don't!!!" Ash screeched as James and Meowth turned away from him and continued on their way. When the two of them ignored him, he gave chase. Just as Ash was about to tackle them, however, James turned on his heel and delivered a swift kick to his abdomen. Ash cried out in pain as he reeled backwards and fell on his butt.
"What part of shut the fuck up and leave us alone didn't you understand, shit-for-brains?!" James asked. "Meowth and I are just minding our own business -- we didn't attack your friend, we're not bothering anybody, and we're sure as hell not stealing any ice cream, so get the fuck out of our faces, okay?!"
"Grrr! I know you're up to no good, so stop trying to act like you're not!" Ash growled, jumping back to his feet. "You've got something evil planned, and I'm gonna stop you!!!"
As Ash began charging and windmilling his arms, James calmly handed his safe-deposit box to Meowth and watched the incoming attack with mild amusement. Once Ash was close enough to throw a punch, James held up his hand and caught the boy's fist before it could connect.
"AUGH! No fair! You cheated!" Ash whined as he tried to wrench his fist from James's grasp.
"Hmmmph. Spaz," James snorted. With that, he gave Ash's arm a sharp twist and shoved him away.
"Owwwww! You broke my aaaaarrrrrmmmmm!!!" Ash howled.
"GOOD!" Meowth snapped. "Now take the hint and fuck off!"
"I will not!" Ash shouted! "I'll make you losers pay!"
As Ash continued to rant, James closed his eyes and plugged his ears in an attempt to tune it out. A thousand different fantasies raced through his mind -- boxing Ash's ears, knocking his teeth down his throat, ripping his tongue out and strangling him with it, giving him the cussing-out of a lifetime. But then, another image appeared in his mind's eye -- the scene from his dream, where Ash had been trying to capture the basilisk in the mirror. James didn't know why, but for some odd reason, he found himself hanging on to that mental image of Ash screaming, whining, and trying in vain to capture the reflection of his true self...and as he concentrated on the image, he found his hand closing over the pendant he was wearing and felt himself filling with a warm, white light. What I wouldn't give for a little distraction like that now.... he said to himself.
Suddenly, Ash fell silent, and Meowth began to scream.
"Holy shit! What the fuck is dat thing?!"
"Uh...is that some kind of pokemon?!"
Opening his eyes again, James saw a grotesque, turkey-like monster with bat wings and a serpent's tail materializing at Ash's side. Meowth was cowering in fear from the creature, and Ash was pointing his poke-dex at it.
"No pokemon data available," said Dexter.
"WHOA!!! This must be a new species of pokemon!" Ash cried triumphantly. "I just discovered it, and now I'm gonna catch it! Poke ball, GO!!!"
When Ash tossed his poke ball, however, it passed straight through the creature.
"Augh! It must be using a Double Team attack! I've gotta find the real one!" Ash remarked, bringing out another empty poke ball.
When he did this, the monster began to run up the street.
"Heeeey! Wait for me! No fair! I wanna catch you!" Ash whined as he gave chase.
Meowth sweatdropped. "Uh...Jimmy? What just happened here?"
James's eyes widened. "I...I...think I just cast a spell!"
Meowth looked up at him. "You did dat?!"
"I think so. You see, in my dream last night, I saw Ash looking into a magic mirror that shows people a reflection of their true selves. The creature that appeared was what Ash saw in the mirror -- a basilisk," James explained.
"So dat's what dat basilisk-boy insult was all about!" Meowth chuckled.
"I was thinking about that part of my dream just now...wishing that something would happen to make Ash leave us alone," James continued. "And when I did, I felt this strange energy coursing through me...and that's when the image of the basilisk appeared!"
"So ya made dat thing appear, just by thinkin' about it?!"
"Sweet! Magic kicks ass!" the cat exclaimed. "When dis is all over, ya think you could whip up a spell dat'd help us capture Pikachu?"
"No. It doesn't work that way, Meowth. Magic is kind of like The Force from Star Wars -- it can only be used for gaining knowledge, self-improvement, and self-defense...and I don't think stealing pokemon falls into any of those categories," James told him.
Meowth shrugged. "Just thought I'd ask."
James smiled at him. "Come on. Let's get out of here while Ash is still busy with that new pokemon."
"Yeah," Meowth agreed. "Cuz if Ayesha is as powerful as ya say, den dere's more and worse things in store for us den dat stupid twerp."
"Indeed," said James. "I'm glad that these powers really work, but it'll take more than a few illusions to stop Ayesha. I just hope Gary's path is safer than the one set before us."
"Me, too," Meowth muttered.
After casting one last look at Ash, chasing the phantasmal basilisk through the streets of Rowandale, James took his safe-deposit box back from Meowth and tucked it into the folds of his trenchcoat again. Then, the two friends quickly slipped out of town and disappeared into the forest.
To be Continued....
Author's Note: James didn't really break Ash's arm in that fight scene -- he just shoved the twerp away in self-defense...and very rightfully so. Ash only whined that his arm was broken because he's a wuss. At the very worst, all the little twerp got was a sprain, a couple of bruises, and a good cussing-out...and that's the least he deserved, considering how he was acting. (Just thought I'd clear that up in case anybody misunderstood. ^_^*)
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