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The Rise of Team Neos: Chapter 42: Attack on Rocket Game Corner

by Psycho Monkey

Psycho Monkey The final story arc of Volume 1 is at hand! Shit is about to go down! Blood is about to be spilled! A Trainer's resolve is about to be tested! And a ton of epic battles are about to take place! I hope you're ready! >:D
Chapter 42: Attack on Rocket Game Corner

There wasn’t a single person within Team Neos who hadn’t heard about the elimination of Team Aqua and Team Galactic. Of the original four criminal organizations that once gripped the world, only my old nemesis Team Rocket remained. Even better, Raiden received instruction from our higher-ups for us to return to Kanto. It meant we were among the ones chosen to destroy Team Rocket once and for all! Soon they too would be just an ugly memory.

The news that Giovanni Terremoto was the leader of Team Rocket spread like wildfire all over the internet, on TV, and in every newspaper. I could barely believe it when I heard it. I would never have pictured Giovanni as Team Rocket’s Boss when I battled him for the Earth Badge all those years ago. Sure he was a ruthless and very aggressive battler, but I just assumed he was just a tough person. Suddenly his cunning way of combat made so much more sense!

People all over the world, especially the residents of Viridian City and Trainers travelling around Kanto, were absolutely livid when they heard about it. The fact that a criminal mastermind had been a respected Gym Leader for such a long time had everyone questioning the integrity of the Kanto Pokémon League and the government at large. In fact, on the news last night they were reporting riots in Viridian City that escalated to the point where the Viridian Gym was burned to the ground. I heard a rumor around HQ that the riots were instigated by Team Neos as a means of smoking Giovanni out but no one really had any proof on the matter. Even if it were true, the media certainly didn’t know about the rumor to even bring up the possibility and none of the higher-ups were taking credit.

Whatever the reason was didn’t matter to me anyway. This afternoon we had been gathered in the assembly hall where we were to be given an important debriefing by Leader himself! I could barely contain my excitement! If he was coming here, then that meant something big was about to happen and we were going to be a part of it!

“So Raiden. What’s Leader like anyway?” Zack asked.

“I honestly cannot say. I have never seen him nor even heard his voice. Very few people in our organization have actually met Leader. This is quite a privilege indeed.” replied Raiden.

“The chain of command sure likes keeping itself secret doesn’t it?” Eve mused cynically.

“It is for the best. Would you like to be captured because some low class Grunt was able to identify you by name?” our superior asked stoically.

“Master Raiden has a point.” I agreed. I decided to keep the fact that I’ve met Arthias to myself. To be honest, I didn’t really know much about him and I didn’t want to spread false information.

The proceeding moments seemed to slowly tick away, but at last the lieutenants gathered on stage one after another. Together they stood in single file like a well-organized military getting ready to introduce their commander. I chuckled silently to myself knowing what was about to happen.

“Attention Team Neos! We would like to introduce to you all the High Commander of Team Neos, Leader!” shouted one of the lieutenants before bowing and getting back in line.

Arriving stage right was a tall figure wearing a black version of our uniform’s pants and boots, black gauntlets that covered his entire arms, a black breastplate lined with gold, black shoulder pads which curved upwards also lined with gold, and a black cape with a hood attached to it that obscured his face. He had the appearance of a seasoned and imposing warrior.

“I am Leader!” he announced to us in a gruff, yet authoritative voice. “As I am sure all of you are aware of by now, Team Rocket is our only enemy that remains. Thanks to the intelligence gathered by our Stealth Division, we have isolated Team Rocket’s last remaining hideout as the Game Corner in Celadon City. That is most likely where Giovanni Terremoto is holed up. As there have been no casualty reports on Rocket Executives Archer Kurtz, Ariana Sham, Lance Proton, or Petrel Lambda, we can assume they are also in the base. With all of Team Rocket’s leadership trapped in their only remaining stronghold, they make it all too easy. We attack at midnight! Show no mercy! Every member of Team Rocket is to be executed! Just know that I want Giovanni’s head. None of you are to engage him in battle or it will be your head I claim! Is that understood?” continued Leader.

“Yes sir!” we answered enthusiastically.

“Good. You have ten hours to prepare. Make the most of that time by making sure that you and your Pokémon are in your prime fighting condition. Also, those of you who wish to have your Pokémon outside of their Pokéballs, get them fitted for armor to minimize the chances of them getting too injured to battle. Any warrior who cannot battle might as well be dead! You are all dismissed for now. Meet back here by 2330 hours!” With that final command, Leader exited the stage followed by the lieutenants.

All I gotta say is that it had better be some damn good armor.” grumbled Axel sounding about as excited as he usually was about putting on human clothes. I pat his back.

“It’s only for one night. You’ll be fine!” I assured. I turned to Zack and Lloyd. “Are you two going to join us?” I inquired.

“Of course we are! It’s the final battle!” Zack said enthusiastically.

When we arrived at the designated area there were several people from the R&D department with measuring tape ready for us. Besides Axel and Lloyd, the other Pokémon in the room were a Poliwrath, a Dodrio, a Sandslash, a Scizor, a Donphan, an Aggron (not sure why those two needed armor when they’re already heavily built), a Shiftry, a Vigoroth, a Rampardos, and a Drapion.

“Alright everyone, let’s do this in an orderly fashion so we can get this done in a timely manner.” said one of the scientists. “You with the Infernape. Step over here please.” he said motioning me and Axel over. The Flame Pokémon groaned exasperatedly. He was really not looking forward to this.

“Have it hold out its arms.” the scientist said pulling out the measuring tape. I nodded wordlessly to him.

Damn.” sighed the monkey holding his arms out to the side like a ‘T’. Axel had his chest circumference, shoulder width, torso length, waist circumference, lower arm length and circumference, leg length and circumference, and head circumference taken. The scientist shook his hands and tape after taking Axel’s head measurements from most likely getting burned. Seriously, what did he think was going to happen?

Dumbass.” mocked Axel.

“Alright, we’ll call for you in about five to six hours. In the meantime, do whatever you need to prepare for tonight.” Mr. Scientist said completely unaware of Axel’s mockery. When Zack and Lloyd were done, the four of us left until further notice.

“So Zack, what do you plan on doing until show time?” I asked.

“There are a few items I want to pick up at the Celadon Department Store for tonight. Wanna come with?” he invited.

“Thanks, but I’d like to get one final round of training done before we head out. That last warm up could mean the difference between flawless victory and fatality.” I said.

“You are such a battle junky, I swear!” he said with a laugh. “Just don’t wear your Pokémon out too much. Them being tired could also mean the difference too.”

“Don’t worry, I know their limits. I’ll only have them train for an hour each. By that time Axel’s armor should be ready. After that we’ll eat and then nap for three hours to rest up.” I reassured.

Only an hour?” Axel questioned feigning offence. I stuck my tongue out at him.

With that, Zack and I parted ways. While I walked to the training area, I saw a tall lanky figure blocking my path.

“I was hoping to run into you.” Feng greeted condescendingly giving me a creeper smirk.

“Sorry, but you’re not my type.” I said flatly. I tried to continue past him but he stuck out his arm to block my path. I looked the First Seat in the eyes with an unamused look. Just what was he trying to pull?

“You should bow your head to your superiors and not leave their presence until you’re dismissed.” he reprimanded. “Now, should I go find Leader and tell him about you?” he asked keeping his grin. Of course that’s what he wanted. Of all the people for me to flip my shit in front of it just had to be this guy!

“I’m flattered that you think I’m so amazing that you want to introduce me to Leader, but I’m just a lowly officer after all. Nothing special about me.” I said innocently.

“Don’t play dumb with me boy! You know damn well what I’m talking about!” he growled. I tilted my head to the side as if pretending to think about it. “I’m talking about what you did on Mt. Ember!” he yelled growing impatient.

“What I did on Mt. Ember? … Oh, you mean my mental breakdown. Don’t worry, Master Raiden told me to get a psyche evaluation and I assure you I’m fit for duty tonight. No need to bother Leader with such a trivial thing.” I reassured. A lie. I have not fulfilled Raiden’s request yet. It’s not that I’ve been too busy, it’s that I don’t want to take the chance of letting my Dragon-Forme show to anyone else. It was bad enough Feng knew.

“A mental breakdown? That’s what you call it? Mental breakdowns don’t juggle people in midair! And what about your wounds? You and that girl both had head injuries that healed at the same time!” he persisted. What a pain in my ass.

“Hers was worse than it looked and mine looked worse than it was.” I told him. A lie. Chane’s injury was only a small scratch once she got it cleaned up and bandaged. Mine required a lot more maintenance to clean up and suture and it took a lot longer to heal than any of my other injuries because they were Dragon inflicted.

“You jackass!” Feng yelled before punching me in the face.

You’ll pay for that!” promised Axel as his flame blazed wilder. I waved my hand to let him know I had this under control which calmed him down.

“Thank you sir, may I have another?” I taunted with a smirk. Feng growled at me looking ready to hit me again.

“Enough!” I turned to see Raiden walking up the hall.

“Isn’t that cute? Arka is like a mother Ursaring coming to protect her cub.” sneered Feng.

“You should be preparing for our mission tonight, not harassing other people’s subordinates.” Raiden chastised.

“Heh. I was done with him anyway.” he spat before pushing us both aside to go make other people uncomfortable. Once Feng was gone Raiden turned to me with an unamused look.

“He started it.” I defended.

“At least you maintained Human-Forme.” Raiden said coolly.

“Have I lost control in the last two months? No. In fact, I haven’t even gone Dragon since Mt. Ember because we’ve done nothing but patrol the Sevii Islands making sure Triad didn’t try coming back. And let me just point out that I have only ever lost control twice. Safari Zone where we were overwhelmed and our enemies were beating us and Mt. Ember when that Rocket got immolated. I have been in complete control every other time since Dragon-Forme manifested almost a year ago.” I pointed out.

“I know. That is why I am rewarding you by taking you off of probation.” he said proudly.

“Seriously?” I said practically squeeing for joy.

Hell yeah!” Axel congratulated giving me a high five.

“Just keep it under wraps tonight as well. There will be a lot more of us, and I am especially wary of Leader finding out about you. I do not know him so I cannot predict how he will respond.” Raiden warned.

“Trust me, I feel the same way. I do not like the vibes I get off of him.” I confessed. I don’t trust Arthias at all and I’d be very happy if he didn’t even know I was a part of this unit. I really hope that Feng doesn’t go through with his threat.

“Come. You were heading to the training area right? I would like to join you.” Raiden invited.

“To battle you?” I asked worriedly.

“Of course not. I want to give myself and my Pokémon a warm up before tonight’s battle.” he clarified. I felt pretty dumb for even asking. Of course we wouldn’t battle. Raiden was a league above me. There would be no way I’d make a good sparring partner for him. Barely a good warm up maybe, but the way he treats the four of us, I know he’d want us to get something out of it too.

Now that’s more like it!” Axel cheered. He had a point about only training my Pokémon an hour each. Since Feng had delayed me a bit and since I still had to walk to and from the training area, I decided I’d let my Pokémon train for half an hour during which time I’d also do some training. Then I’d have them spar with each other for another half hour. The matchups I decided on would be Piloswine vs. Snorlax, Aerodactyl vs. Beldum, and Riolu vs. Axel. Since the Flame Pokémon was such a spoiled brat I agreed to spar with him too after he was done with Riolu. I made it clear to all six of my Pokémon that they weren’t to faint each other, just work on moves and strategy. For each half hour session, I only commanded one Pokémon for 15 minutes apiece so that they could also build independence.

While my Pokémon and I trained, I made sure to keep an eye on what Raiden was doing too. We’ve been travelling together for months now and whenever I got the chance I would watch him battle or train. He was my goal. He was the first Trainer I had ever battled and was the first one I had ever lost to. We battled a second time when I was a more skilled and accomplished Trainer and I still lost. I watched him to learn. I wanted to learn his methods, his strategies, and his tactics. I wanted to see if I could use them to make myself and my Pokémon stronger. I wanted to study them so that I could one day counter them and beat my Master.

Just like with me, he trained both his Pokémon and his body. He had Raikou out and was practicing different jabs, slashes, and swings with it. It was amazing to me how that spear was like an extension of Raiden’s body. He controlled it and moved as effortlessly with it as I did my fists. In a way I also understood the training it took to move like that. It took me a lot of time, effort, and concentration to use Dragon-Forme on command. Even then I still falter with it when I lose my composer. Not him though. Raiden is poised and in complete control of his movements. Every move has purpose. No energy is wasted. I still have a long way to go before I am at his level.

In the end my training session lasted as long as it would have originally since Axel was unrelenting and my own competitive spirit had me fight him until we were both panting. I guess Zack was right about me. I am a battle junky.

“I hope you did not wear yourselves too much.” Raiden scolded nonchalantly.

“Nah, we’re fine. After we pick up Axel’s armor, I’ll get these six healed up and then we’re all going to take a nap.” I informed while wiping the sweat from my brow. “More importantly, now that I’m off probation, can I get a sword?” I asked with a big grin. Axel laughed at the very idea.

How scary!” the Infernape said still laughing.

“We do not have time to get you one for tonight, and you will not need one after this mission. This will most likely be the last time we see no holds barred combat where our lives are on the line.” he answered.

“So that’s it? After tonight Team Neos is done?” I asked.

“Not quite. I am sure I have mentioned this to you before, but Skylar, Feng, and I were once on the same squad with then-Lieutenant Ross as our commanding officer. I once heard her mention a Phase 1 which I assume to be what we are doing now. That means there is also a Phase 2, though I do not know what that would entail.” explained Raiden.

“Interesting. Hopefully it’s fun because otherwise I’m screwed by our no resignations policy.” I said with a shrug.

Yeah, that would just suck!” agreed Axel.

“Indeed.” Raiden affirmed. He then turned to leave with Axel and I following.

I stopped to get my Pokémon healed up on the way to R&D. When Axel and I arrived back at the lab, Zack and Lloyd were already there getting suited up. Lloyd was wearing really sleek aqua blue armor that was obviously designed with swimming in mind. The chest plate went from Lloyd’s shoulders down to his waist and had a vertical ridge going down the center like a boat hull to make it hydrodynamic. The shoulders were round and separate pieces from the rest giving him full range of motion. They were smooth instead of ridged. There was also a piece that wrapped around his waist and hung down over his crotch and hips, shin guards, and arm guards on his forearm. The arm and shin guards had one ridge each. The only other part of Lloyd’s body that was covered was his head. He wore a helmet with five spikes to accommodate his four horns. The fifth spike was directly in the center of his forehead which, with the two horns on either side, gave the appearance of a trident. His forehead was still exposed so that his jewel was visible.

“Dude!” I said in awe.

Lloyd you look great! I hope my armor is that cool!” Axel complemented. It was the only time besides Masquerade where I had ever heard him excited about putting on an article of clothing.

“Pretty snazzy right?” Zack said almost bragging.

“I’ll say! Lloyd looks like a gladiator ready for battle!” I cheered on.

“He’s not ready yet. We only just finished getting his armor on. I still need to give him some of the items we got at the department store.” he corrected.

“Oh? What did you guys get?” I asked excitedly as if I were the one getting the present.

“The better question should be what didn’t we get?” said Zack with a laugh. I looked at his feet and noticed a shopping bag full of Item Balls.

“Damn. Did you buy the whole store or something?” I joked.

“Nah. They sell more than just Trainer stuff in there. I don’t really have use for capes ya know.” he said adjusting his glasses. I laughed.

“I don’t know why not.” I teased. “Anyway, let’s get you your armor!” I said to Axel changing the subject.

Yeah!” he agreed excitedly.

“Is my Infernape’s armor ready?” I inquired to the nearest scientist. She pulled out a digital key pad.

“Name?” she requested.

“Brian Xelbu. My Pokémon is Axel the Infernape.” I specified. She did a few key strokes.

“Yup. Right this way.” she said leading me to it. All around me my fellow Neos were putting their armor on their respective Pokémon. It was obvious that the armor wasn’t just tailor made for the Pokémon’s individual measurements but also to accommodate their species as well like with Lloyd’s. We arrived at a rack with a few Item Balls sitting on it with each ball individually labeled for who it belonged to.

“Here you are.” said the scientist taking a ball off the rack and handing it to me. “Hopefully everything fits and the specifications are to your liking. You have provided valuable research for us today.”

“You’re welcome I guess? But yeah, thanks for this!” I thanked gratefully. While I had no doubts Axel would kick major ass, I also didn’t want him hurt. I would go berserk again without a doubt and I wouldn’t care who saw me.

Let’s try it on!” Axel requested ambivalently. It would seem his natural dislike of clothes was beginning to overtake his enthusiasm.

“Let’s nap first. As awesome as the armor will be, I can’t imagine you can sleep too easily in it. It’s gonna be a long night and we both need our rest.” I pointed out.

Yeah true.” he said only slightly disappointed. “But let’s eat first!

“Deal!” I agreed. It was already after 7:00pm so it was well past time to feed.

After dinner we took a three-hour nap. When we woke up, I unveiled Axel’s armor for the first time and put it on him. Unlike Lloyd’s which was in parts, Axel’s was mostly one piece. The body armor covered his entire torso with three plates going over his crotch and hips and two long shoulder pads. Despite that, the material was very flexible. Like Lloyd’s it came with shin guards and arm guards but Axel’s were extended so that they covered the backs of his hands and the tops of his feet. My guess is Lloyd didn’t have that consideration because they would hamper his swimming while Axel was a brawler so they wanted to offer more protection to his limbs. The final piece of Axel’s armor was a crown that covered his forehead and had bits hanging down to cover his ears and frame his face. My guess is he got a crown not a helmet because of his flame. And speaking of flame, the armor was red like fire matching the Pokémon type it was made for. Overall, Axel had a very samurai look to him.

Nice!” Axel said with a smile looking himself over in a mirror. It would seem he finally made his decision on this particular outfit of his. I have to admit I’m kind of jealous that I don’t get fancy armor of my own. You can’t say it’s only for Pokémon because Arthias wears it too!

“You look pretty badass Axel.” I complemented.

I am a badass!” he corrected proudly.

“That you are!” I agreed. “Alright, let’s go meet up with the others.” We still had an hour until we were supposed to gather but I didn’t want to be late and risk getting left behind. There also wasn’t anything that I could do to kill an hour either other than socialize with my teammates.

At last the time had come! It was 11:25pm, just moments before Leader commanded us to assemble. My heart was pounding as the anticipation built up inside me ready to explode out! I looked around the room at my squad and the other members. Everyone was ready for the battle to come. The only difference I noticed on Lloyd was a black sash tied around his waist. I was sure that wasn’t the only thing Zack had gotten him, not with all those Item Balls he was carrying. He probably had them all on his person or stashed in Lloyd’s armor somehow. It was too late to ask him now since we’d be leaving soon so I would just have to wait until we get into battle to see what tricks he had up his sleeve.

“H-hey… B-Brian?” Chane asked nervously. “S-stay close t-to me ok.” I put my hand on her shoulder as reassurance.

“Don’t worry. This is no different than any of our other missions. You be your badass self and I’ll kill the Rockets you defeat. Besides, with this many of us here you’ll be perfectly fine.” I comforted.

“I… I know. I’m just so relieved that it’s finally going to be over. All the killing. All the violence. All the cruelty.” she listed off.

“Yup. Once we finish off Team Rocket, peace will come!” I stated. I decided not to tell her about Raiden’s assumption of Phase 2 since neither of us were clear on the details. Chane opened her mouth to speak, but was cut off by Leader’s voice echoing through the room.

“I hope all of you have made all of the necessary preparations. I see a lot more armored Pokémon than I did this afternoon. That’s good. Now!” Leader raised his right arm above his head. “We march to Celadon!” he declared dramatically pointing forward. “We march to the Game Corner and we don’t leave until Giovanni has been dealt with! Any Rocket who gets in our way dies! But do not harm any civilians! The gamblers in the Game Corner are to be left alone unless they attack us first! Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes sir!” we chanted.

“Then go towards the Route 7 exit!” he commanded.

With Leader at the head, we marched out of our underground headquarters, up Route 7, and into Celadon City. Our footsteps echoed through the streets from our sheer numbers. I wasn’t sure how many of us there were. Several hundred? Maybe even a thousand! People who were out this time of the night scattered the moment they saw us. Every last one of them looked terrified.

“Team Neos! What are they doing here? Why are there so many?” I heard someone cry out.

“Someone call the police!” I heard another person say.

“Police? We need the military!” another one said.

To us they were just idle chatter. Leader never stopped walking for a moment and none of us dared to stop either. Really the only ones who could stop without getting trampled would have been the people in the very back or the ones on either flank that could get out of line. But why would they want to? If the panicked cries of the Celadon residents were anything to go by, no one dared mess with us so long as we were together. And for that brief second I understood the Rocket mentality of strength in numbers. Together they were powerful but alone they were weak cowards. But unlike them I wasn’t scared of being by myself. I stayed with the group because I wanted this! I wanted to be a part of this battle! It didn’t matter if it was just my squad of five, the twenty-five person unit we had in the Sevii Islands, or if it was this massive army. I was going to attack the Game Corner no matter what!

When we got to the Game Corner Leader raised his right hand telling us to halt. With that same hand he pulled out a large black claymore lined with red. With a mighty swing of his giant sword he shattered the glass doors of the casino. Inside, the carpet was wine red with yellow stripes on it, the lights were dim, and there were no windows. Slot machines lined the floor where we entered but further back I could see roulette tables and card tables for black jack and poker. Cries of panic and fear erupted from inside as we walked in followed by the annoying sound of an alarm.

“SILENCE!” Leader roared to quiet the ignorant masses. In an instant everyone went silent with the only sound being the alarm. “Go back to your games. We have no interest in you. We are here for Team Rocket and Team Rocket only!” he told them.

“Hey! You’re a security guard right? Arrest these people or something!” some middle aged man ordered a husky guy wearing a security uniform. The guard took one look at us then turned back to the other guy.

“Do you see how many of them there are? Shit! They don’t pay me enough for this!” the guard said. He then turned to us. “You guys can do whatever the fuck you want just don’t hurt the guests.”

“So you’re just going to do nothing?” demanded a woman sitting next to the man, probably his wife or mistress.

“If you want something done do it yourself!” the guard retorted. In response to all the commotion, a lone Rocket came running around the corner. I expected him to flee the moment he saw us but instead he took out two Pokéballs, one in each hand!

LEEEEERRRROOOOYYYY JEEEEEEENKINS!!!!!” the Rocket shouted at the top of his lungs charging us head on! I was completely stunned by how much of an idiot this guy was!

“You’re a helpless fool!” Arthias mocked getting in position with his claymore. Before Leeroy could throw his Pokéballs, Arthias swung his sword horizontally cleaving the Rocket in two. Leeroy’s body continued to move forward due to his momentum but his upper body went left while his lower half went right. This once again got screams of panic and fear from the guests only this time Leader didn’t bother quieting them.

“The weaker they are, the louder they bark.” he ridiculed quietly.

“Did you see that?”

“Yeah! I guess that’s why they call him War God.” I heard two of my fellow Neos whispering to each other.

“Those of you in the back! Stay in the casino and guard this building. No one in, no one out! That alarm will have no doubt alerted the police by now. Keeping these people as hostages will insure that the police don’t try to stop us.” Leader commanded. I was so glad I was more towards the front-middle-ish part of the mob. I came here to kill Rockets and not even the High Commander will stop me!

The rest of us then made our way to the back of the casino where the Rocket had come from. That was most likely where the entrance to their hideout was. There was the sound of crunching glass as we walked on the pieces of the door near the entrance. We also had to maneuver around the pieces of Leeroy’s body which were bleeding out all over the floor.

In the back of the Game Corner was a poster promoting Rocket propaganda taped to the wall. Leader grabbed the poster and tore it down revealing a secret keypad behind it. Did those idiots really think they were hiding that? Leader punched the keypad but all that did was break it. He then started knocking on the wall slowly moving to the east wing of the building. Finally, by the time he reached the corner of the building he hit an area that sounded hollow. Arthias took out his claymore again and hacked at the wall until it crumbled revealing a hidden staircase.

“Let’s move!” he ordered. Without a word we slowly poured down the stairs into the Rocket’s base. I waited impatiently for my turn to go down since the stairs were too narrow for all of us to storm down at once. When I finally got down, we were in a wide open facility with white walls and brown floor tiles. Even down here there was an alarm going off flashing a red light everywhere.

“For those of you who just got down here, Leader’s orders were to fan out! We can cover more area if we spread out, but stay with your squad!” someone relayed over the alarm. I’m guessing it must have been one of the lieutenants.

“Will someone turn that damn thing off already?” Eve complained. I couldn’t blame her, I wanted it destroyed too.

“Intruder alert! Get them!” called a Rocket followed by a dozen or so more. At last! Show time! Unfortunately, before I could rush over to attack my prey, a large group of my fellow Neos engaged them first.

“There are too many of us in one area. We should spread out as Leader commanded.” Raiden pointed out. “Let us head deeper into the facility.”

“Fine!” I agreed enthusiastically.

I didn’t put this armor on for nothing! Let’s go beat the shit out of some Rockets!” declared Axel.

About 100 feet from us was another stairwell. I don’t know where Arthias went, nor do I know how many of us have already gone downstairs, but there was no harm in more of us going down. There were already more than enough Neos on this level to take care of business. My core squad along with a few dozen others stampeded to the lower level where more Rockets were waiting in ambush.

“We’ve got this! The rest of you go on ahead!” someone in the group in front of us advised. Ten Neos surrounded the Rockets to prevent them from escaping or coming after the rest of us.

“Do your best.” Raiden said to them. The one in charge nodded in thanks. “Keep moving!”

I couldn’t help but snarl in frustration. Being in the middle of our horde had its advantage in that I didn’t get stuck guarding the casino, but I wanted to fight too! Aside from my friends there was still a bunch of other Neos running with us. I needed to break away and find Rockets of my own to battle. And will someone turn off that damn alarm already? As we entered and open area I heard a familiar click under my feet. Shit!

“Axel! Grab hold!” I called just as the blue arrows lit up beneath my feet.

Not again!” he cried wrapping his arms around my chest as we were pulled forward. Fucking Team Rocket! Of course you would have this dastardly booby-trap in this hideout as well!

“Brian!” I turned to the sound of my name to see Chane reaching for me. She was quickly pulled left as I was pulled right. I reached out my arm trying to grab her too. Our fingertips touched before we were pulled in different directions again. Dammit! I saw Eve but someone was thrown into me sending us both in another direction before I could even call for her.

“Zack! Lloyd!” I called out noticing they were still close to me. I reached for Lloyd since he was still in arm’s reach.

“Brian don’t!” Zack warned. I looked in the direction the arrows were taking me to see a wall that was getting ready to separate us. I pulled my arm back just as we both passed on opposite sides of the wall. I angrily punched at the wall but I got pulled backwards away from it before my fist could connect.

Even though I was already so dizzy I couldn’t see anything, I knew I was separated from my friends. Sure there were about six or seven other Neos with me, but Zack, Eve, Chane, and Raiden were who knows where! At least I can take solace in knowing they’re most likely with our other cohorts since I am too. All I could do now was wait to get dropped off somewhere.
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