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The Rise of Team Neos: Chapter 46: Four is Death

by Psycho Monkey

Psycho Monkey After being separated from his squad by the dastardly Spinner traps, Zack finds himself battling Rocket Executive Archer Kurtz. Can the Ex-Ranger defeat Team Rocket's second-in-command with just Lloyd?
Chapter 46: Four is Death

Being separated from the group didn’t bother Zack at all. It reminded him of some of his old solo missions as a Ranger when he was tracking poachers. Just like with Team Rocket, an enemy could come from any direction at any time. Rather than wander aimlessly around the base though, Zack and Lloyd skated around on the Spinner traps trying to locate their teammates. Zack hoped he’d find a lone female Neos so that he could console her and, in return, she could console him the way only a woman can. As the arrows continued pushing him ahead, Zack could hear the sounds of fighting. In a few moments he would be at the scene of a battlefield.

“Get ready Lloyd!” he poised. The Golduck quacked in response. As the two came around a corner they saw just a railing overlooking an open lobby. Beneath them were about a dozen Trainers: a well assorted mix of Team Rocket and Team Neos with an even more diverse selection of Pokémon on the field. Zack recognized a few of the Pokémon wearing armor as those that marched into battle with Lloyd and Axel.

“Well that was anticlimactic.” Zack mused to himself having expected to be dumped off into the fray. The Spinners instead dropped them off on the overlook where a man dressed in all white with short teal hair stood. He was watching the battle below with his arms behind his back. At the sound of his unexpected guests arriving, the man turned around revealing the red ‘R’ on his shirt.

“Team Neos? I didn’t expect there to be any more on the Spinners.” he said with dull surprise.

“Well what can I say? I liked them so much I just kept getting on.” Zack said casually. “You’re not dressed like the other Rockets. Does that mean you’re an executive?” he observed.

“Correct. I am Executive Archer Kurtz. I am Giovanni’s second in command.” Archer introduced.

“Second in Command? That’s just great.” Zack sighed sarcastically. Of course he would be the one to get the strongest Executive. “Well Lloyd, let’s do our best!” he encouraged.

“You are actually challenging me? It seems the folly of you Neophytes knows no limits.” laughed the Executive. “Let’s go Weezing!” he called sending out the Poison Gas Pokémon.

“What you call ‘folly’ I call daring with a hint of strategy. Use Swagger Lloyd!” Zack called. The Duck Pokémon put his hands on his hips and shook his hips while making taunting noises much to the agitation of his foe. “Besides, we both know you weren’t just going to let me walk away.” Zack said.

“That is correct. You are not walking away from this! Use Smokescreen Weezing!” commanded Archer. Despite its confusion, Weezing belched out a thick black cloud that obscured the entire area. “Now strike the Golduck with Thunder Bolt!” the Rocket Executive followed up.

“Now would be a good time for Psych Up and Dodge!” Zack called as Weezing’s body inflated due to the buildup of electricity. When the Poison Gas Pokémon released its attack, Lloyd had already copied both the Attack Boost gained from Swagger and the ability to see through the Smokescreen which allowed him to see where the Thunder Bolt was coming from and move accordingly.

“Don’t let them do that again! Use Disable Lloyd!” commanded the ex-Ranger. Lloyd put his hands to his head and used his psychic powers to put a mental block on Weezing’s ability to use Thunder Bolt.

“You are quite resourceful. Let’s see how you handle being Poisoned! Use Sludge Weezing!” Archer ordered. In its confusion Weezing simply drooled out the Sludge instead of blasting it causing no harm to Lloyd. “How unsightly.” Archer said shamefully.

“Now Lloyd! Get in there with a Zen Headbutt!” called Zack. The Golduck’s forehead glowed blue as he ran at his opponent and slammed his head into Weezing. The tridents on his helmet only caused added damage to the siamese Pokémon. Zack couldn’t help but be impressed with the added advantage the armor possessed. The only reason he got it in the first place was for Lloyd’s own protection so the facts that it was so snazzy and could be used offensively made it even better.

“Weezing! Use Sludge Bomb now!” the Executive commanded. Weezing shook off its confusion, then launched a pointblank blast of filth at Lloyd. The Duck Pokémon coughed from getting Poisoned by the attack. Lucky for him, Zack was prepared. Lloyd reached into his armor and pulled out a green berry that instantly cured his ailment once eaten.

“What?” Archer yelled in shock.

“I knew we were going into enemy territory so I gave Lloyd a Lum Berry to hold onto just in case of status ailments. You never know if an opponent is going to Burn, Poison, or Paralyze you.” boasted Zack.

“Smart thinking. It seems you are not as foolhardy as the rest of your organization. However, I do not suppose your Golduck has any more Berries in that armor of his?” inquired Archer.

“Who knows.” Zack answered evasively. In truth that was Lloyd’s only Berry, but Zack had come up with other strategies just in case. He pulled out an Item Ball and opened it revealing a red and white launcher that he attached to his left arm. He then loaded it with a grey and yellow disk marked with a number six.

“Oh? What is this toy you have?” the Rocket Executive questioned. Zack answered with a smirk as he aimed the device at Lloyd. “Weezing, they’re up to something! Use Shadow Ball!” Archer ordered. Weezing gathered a sphere of darkness in front of itself then launched the attack at Lloyd.

“Cancel the attack with Shadow Claw!” Zack commanded. Lloyd’s claws became surrounded in a dark aura as he swiped at the incoming orb reducing it to a dark cloud. Then, with the push of a button, Zack launched the disk at the Duck Pokémon giving him an extreme stat boost.

“Now! Finish Weezing with Psychic!” the ex-Ranger called. Lloyd took on a vibrant and wild azure glow from his maximized Special Attack. The Poison Gas Pokémon roared in pain as it was engulfed by the Psychic aura before collapsing to the ground unconscious.

“I see. So somehow that device greatly boosted your Pokémon’s power. And I suppose that ragged sash it’s wearing is an Expert Belt?” analyzed the Executive. Zack shrugged with a chuckle.

“You got me.” he confessed. “Still, I don’t think there is much you can do about it. You might as well give up right now.”

“I think not. You best not be so ignorant as to underestimate an Executive of Team Rocket.” Archer lectured. “Let’s go Crobat! Use Haze!” he called sending out a large purple bat with blue membranes in its four wings and large fangs hanging from its upper lip. Crobat fluttered its wings creating a black mist that eliminated every boost Lloyd had gotten this battle.

“Lovely.” Zack snarked. Had he known his only x6 was going to get used up so quickly, he would have saved it for Crobat. In fact, he found it intriguing that a member of Team Rocket actually had a Crobat. The second highest ranking member in an organization that treats its Pokémon like tools has one that can only be evolved by friendship. Was it stolen or was there more to Archer Kurtz than meets the eye?

“Well Lloyd, there is no way you can outrun a Crobat so fall back with Aqua Jet!” he called.

“You would have your Pokémon retreat?” questioned Archer as Lloyd surrounded himself in water and darted backwards past even Zack.

“See ya!” he said following his partner onto the Spinners leaving Archer standing speechless with his mouth hanging open. Zack may not have had a full team of six like his teammates, but he compensated by being crazy prepared. As a Ranger he was taught to use the terrain to his advantage, even if the foes he faced knew the terrain better. Spending his time on the Spinner traps wasn’t because he was lost: he was mapping them out! When the Rocket Executive regained himself he growled.

“After them!” he commanded. Archer ran to the edge of the Spinner, careful not to set off his own trap as Crobat flew safely over the arrows.

“Turn left and use Ice Beam in three seconds!” Zack called. Lloyd turned his head and fired a ray of frozen air and water vapor. The attack would have completely missed Crobat had the Golduck not hit an arrow that turned him to face his opponent directly. Crobat screeched in pain as the cold blast struck. Archer frowned at how cunning his foe was. Indeed, he had underestimated the wayward Neos.

“Crobat! Shake it off and use Confuse Ray!” ordered the Rocket Executive. The Bat Pokémon’s eyes glowed white as it shot a ghostly white sphere at Lloyd. What Archer failed to notice though was the Spinners once again acting against him. The Golduck was jerked left causing Confuse Ray to miss while giving Lloyd yet another opening.

“In fifteen seconds use Aqua Jet!” Zack commanded quickly.

“In fifteen seconds I would have already won!” condemned Archer. “Slice it with Cross Poison!” Crobat flew in for kill. It was faster than the Spinners allowing it to be on top of Lloyd in seconds and slashed him with its wings. Much to Zack’s relief, the armor served its function by absorbing most of the damage. The Duck Pokémon repaid the attack by first smacking Crobat to his left with Aqua Tail then, as the Spinner’s turned him in that very direct, following up on his order to Aqua Jet. Moving in the same direction as the Spinners increased the power of the attack instead of reducing it like moving against them would have done. Had Archer not sent Crobat on the attack or had attacked from a distance with a move like Air Cutter, the Spinners would have turned Lloyd to facing his opponent anyway.

“Try out smarting this! Crobat! Attack with Aerial Ace and use Toxic!” Archer commanded.

“Oh boy.” Zack said sarcastically as Crobat zipped through the air and rammed into Lloyd before spewing the deadly attack in the Golduck’s face badly poisoning him. “Lloyd! Use Flash and Psychic on Crobat, then Aqua Jet off the Spinners!” the ex-Ranger called as he loaded a yellow disk into his Wonder Launcher.

“Not so fast! Confuse Ray!” Archer shouted. Crobat blasted its opponent in the face with the ghostly white light. At the same time, Lloyd had already placed his hands on his forehead to blind the Bat Pokémon with Flash. In his confusion, Lloyd used the attack called Confusion on Crobat instead of Psychic. He then continued to wander aimlessly on the Spinners, oblivious to his Trainer’s orders and to the Poison that was slowly draining the life from him.

“That’s just great.” said Zack rolling his eyes. He carefully aimed his Wonder Launcher to where he anticipated his partner would end up. It was a lot harder to use on a moving target, especially when the target wasn’t in control of their own movements.

“Crobat! Stop him! Stop the Neophyte!” commanded Archer. Zack sighed in frustration. He just wasn’t getting a break with this guy. He had to hand it to Archer though; he certainly lived up to his position as an Executive of Team Rocket. His ruthlessness was what one would expect from the second-in-command of the world’s largest and most dangerous criminal organization.

As Crobat closed in, Zack could feel the sound waves from the Bat Pokémon’s echolocation bouncing off of him. The blinding effects of Flash mean nothing to a creature adapted to darkness. Zack was left with no other choice. He ran towards Crobat then dodge rolled under the Pokémon’s belly to evade it. As he got back to his feet he ran towards the Spinners in hopes of catching up to Lloyd.

“What are you doing Crobat! Kill him!” the Executive demanded.

“Lloyd!” Zack called noticing his partner sitting on the floor in a daze with a sickly look. ‘Great, now that Lloyd is still, I’m the one moving!’ Zack thought to himself. At least he knew which direction he was going. He turned to take aim at the Golduck only to have to duck suddenly as Crobat swooped in for the attack. He rose after dodging the vampire and shot a Full Heal from his Launcher knowing he might not get a clear shot like this again. Before Zack could sigh in relief, he was struck from behind with an Air Slash. If he thought that attack stung, getting dragged by the Spinners while kissing the floor was no picnic either.

“Now finish him Crobat! Use Sludge Bomb!” Archer commanded. As Zack prepared for the worst his only regret was not getting laid before the mission started. A loud agonizing shriek from Crobat followed by the sound of it falling to the ground however made last regrets more of a goal to reward himself for a mission well done. A blue aura surrounded Zack as he was gently lifted to his feet by Lloyd. The Spinner dropped him off on the same floor space as his Golduck.

“Glad to see you recovered. Sorry it took so long.” said Zack with a grin. Lloyd responded with a thumbs-up. Looking at the terrain, Zack realized there was a straight path leading back to Archer so if he were to use a Pokémon that couldn’t fly or Levitate it would still be able to attack.

“Do not think you have beaten me just yet!” warned Archer. “Your Golduck may be strong, but Weezing and Crobat have done enough damage that my last Pokémon should be able to finish it even with a disadvantage!” He returned Crobat and switched it out for a canine with short black fur covering most of its body, orange fur on its belly and snout, long white horns, an arrow at the tip of its long tail and plating resembling bone covered its back, collar, and ankles.

Archer was right; Lloyd had taken a few good hits from his previous opponents and suffered through poison for a bit as well. That was why Zack wanted to finish Houndoom as quickly as possible in case the Rocket Executive had more Pokémon. A full team of six versus just Lloyd would be troublesome. Good thing he had Hyper Potions for his Launcher.

“Let’s not fool around Lloyd. Use Hydro Pump!” Zack commanded. The kappa inhaled deeply and blasted a powerful deluge at Houndoom. The Dark Pokémon easily jumped out of the way of the attack and ran at its opponent.

“Attack with Thief Houndoom!” Archer commanded. With a hellish howl, Houndoom lunged at Lloyd and tore the Expert Belt from his waist. Houndoom shook its head violently with the pilfered sash still in its mouth. “Do not destroy it! Use it!” the Rocket Executive followed up. With a jerk of its head, the hellhound got the Expert Belt wrapped around its horns.

“We don’t need the Expert Belt to win! Use Water Pulse Lloyd!” called Zack. Lloyd shot out sound waves of water that caused Houndoom to wince when struck. It snarled threateningly at the ex-Ranger and his partner.

“Return the favor with Thunder Fang!” ordered the Executive. The Dark Pokémon barked rabidly as it charged towards its opponent with electricity sparking around its maw.

“Time for Protect Lloyd!” Zack called. The kappa surrounded himself in a big fluid bubble that absorbed the shock of Thunder Fang.

“Fine! Use Feint and then Thunder Fang!” Archer countered. Houndoom smashed through the bubble and clamped its jaws down hard on the Golduck’s arm causing him to cry out in pain.

“Smack it away with Aqua Tail followed with Disable!” Zack commanded. He pragmatically loaded a purple disk into his Launcher just in case. Lloyd meanwhile enveloped his tail in water then slammed it into the Dark Pokémon’s side causing it to yelp. He then used Disable to temporarily block Houndoom’s ability to use Thunder Fang. Archer chuckled at this development. This time it was Zack who had played into his hands.

“Houndoom! Use Sunny Day followed by Flamethrower!” he commanded. The hellhound turned its head to the ceiling and shot a ball of fire out of its mouth with a howl. The fireball exploded filling the room with artificial sunlight. The canine then spat a blazing tongue of hellfire at Lloyd. The Duck Pokémon responded by blasting Hydro Pump to cancel out the attack. The intense sunlight caused Hydro Pump to evaporate faster while drying the air making the oxygen needed for Flamethrower more readily combustible. In the end neither Pokémon made any headway so both stopped.

“It may not amount to much Lloyd, but use Water Sport to keep things moist around here!” suggested Zack. The kappa spewed a light spray of water over himself and the area around him to weaken Houndoom’s strengthened fire.

“Now Houndoom! Defeat Golduck with Solar Beam!” commanded Archer gleefully. Houndoom easily gathered the sunlight and blasted a ray of golden solar energy.

“Spinners NOW!” shouted Zack as both he and Lloyd ran for the nearest arrow. It didn’t matter where they would be taken they just needed to get away.

“After them Houndoom! Use the Spinners if you have to!” Archer ordered. Much to his indignation he realized he too would need to get on the trap if he were to keep up with his Pokémon to give orders and to track their opponent’s moves. It was appalling that intruders were able to not only use what were supposed to be traps to their advantage but they knew the traps better than the top Executive.

“Lloyd! Use Amnesia for if they use Solar Beam again!” Zack called. Lloyd replied with a confused ‘huh?’ indicating he already used it.

“That will not help you! Use Nasty Plot followed by another Solar Beam!” The Executive commanded. Houndoom snarled viciously as it decided how to eviscerate its prey. It then launched another Solar Beam which Lloyd was unable to dodge. The Duck Pokémon started panting from weariness. He would have been knocked out by now had the armor not been protecting him but even it had its limits.

“Use Screech then jump up and hit Houndoom with Aqua Jet!” called Zack. The Golduck let out a shrill honk that caused Houndoom to whimper thanks to its sensitive hearing. He then did as told, jumping and launching himself like a water covered torpedo at the hellhound causing it to yelp.

“Alright, get ready buddy!” Zack said aiming the Hyper Potion loaded Launcher at Lloyd. As soon as he launched it however, Houndoom leaped in between them getting the benefits from the Potion. “You’ve gotta be kidding me!” cried the ex-Ranger. He mentally berated himself for being so hasty and not waiting until Lloyd was further away.

“You will not be using that again! Use Embargo Houndoom!” ordered Archer. The Dark Pokémon howled putting a barrier between Lloyd and Zack. The latter clutched his fists in irritation. Not only was he seriously losing this battle, he was once again regretting not having sex before the mission. Even so, this battle wasn’t over until it was over. There would be time for regrets when he lost.

“Make it rain Lloyd!” he called. The kappa rhythmically moved his body to temporarily supercharge the water inside him, then turned his head towards the ceiling and shot Houndoom’s artificial sun with a powerful blast of water. The steam produced mysteriously created clouds in the room which then unleashed a downpour of rain. Zack pushed up his glasses and pulled the tip of his hood to cover his face better. He always considered Lloyd’s Rain Dance as a desperation move. It wasn’t his style to artificially alter the weather, especially indoors, unless the situation absolutely demanded it.

“Now Lloyd! Attack Houndoom with Aqua Jet 2.0!” commanded Zack. The Duck Pokémon surrounded himself in water, then in one lightning movement struck the hellhound before it could react.

“It’s almost beaten Houndoom! Finish it with Crunch!” ordered the Rocket Executive. Houndoom lunged forward snapping its jaws, but all it managed to bite was air. Lloyd had already darted out of the way with Aqua Jet and was once again meandering around on the Spinners. “Impossible!” yelled Archer. Zack chuckled to himself wondering how long it would take Archer to figure out Lloyd’s ability was Swift Swim.

“I think it’s time to finish this Lloyd! Use Psych Up and Hydro Pump!” Zack called. The Golduck focused on Houndoom and applied the Dark Pokémon’s own Nasty Plot to himself. He then released a mighty deluge from his beak at his foe.

“Move out of the way and use Shadow Ball!” Archer commanded. Houndoom jumped to the side narrowly avoiding the brunt of the attack but still got splashed by the torrent. The hellhound then created a swirling orb of darkness that it launched at Lloyd. However, the indoor rain and Houndoom’s own fatigue blurred its vision causing it to aim where the Golduck was and not where the Spinners were taking him.

“That was too close! I think now is the time to use Brine!” called Zack. Lloyd moved his beak as if chewing before spraying Houndoom with saltwater. The Dark Pokémon howled in pain as it collapsed to its side. Zack held his breath waiting either for Houndoom to get up or for Archer to send out another Pokémon. When neither happed, he let out a silent sigh of relief.

“Forgive me Giovanni.” Archer said solemnly as he returned Houndoom. “I cannot believe that all my effort was all for naught. To think that I was bested by a mere Neos!” he lamented. Zack didn’t pay the fallen Executive much attention though. His first priority was giving Lloyd a Max Potion in bottle form. He didn’t want to waste any of his Launcher ammo outside of battle. He and Lloyd then hopped the Spinners back to the balcony and Archer.

“What is your rank within Team Neos?” inquired Archer suddenly.

“Huh?” Zack asked having been caught off guard by the question.

“Your rank. You overcame Team Rocket’s second-in-command with a single Pokémon. I would imagine you are one of the top brass in your organization.” the Executive said.

“Me? No, no, no. You’ve got it all wrong. I’m just an Officer, nothing special here. Lloyd is my only Pokémon so I do what I can to keep him from fainting.” Zack explained. Hearing those words made Archer’s body go limp. He lowered his head in defeat but had a modest grin.

“So even if I beat you, there were dozens more who could have still defeated me.” Archer chuckled to himself. “Very well then. I surrender. My allegiance to Team Rocket is not worth my own life.” Zack was relieved to hear that the former Executive was surrendering so quietly. Unlike other members of Team Neos, killing wasn’t his forte so if it could be avoided that was the route he was going to take even if it went against his orders.

“Alright, I’m placing you under arrest.” Zack said wondering if he even had anything on his person to bind Archer with.

“Arrest? What do you mean arrest!?” a familiar voice rang out. Zack, Lloyd, and Archer turned to the Spinners where a certain midget was flying over on the back of his Dusknoir.

“A child?” Archer questioned.

“No, that’s Lt. Deter.” Zack whispered to correct the misconception. Both of them were already in trouble, they last thing Zack wanted was to press the lieutenant’s primary berserk button. The midget jumped off of his ghost and pointed right at Archer.

“Dusknoir! Strangle that Rocket!” ordered Lt. Deter mercilessly. The Gripper Pokémon lived up to the name by floating over to Archer, wrapping one of its large hands around the Executive’s neck and squeezing. Archer gasped for air as he desperately pulled at the Ghost-type’s hand to release him. In the end his entire body fell limp. Dusknoir dropped the former Rocket Executive to the floor before getting returned to its Ultra Ball by its master. Lt. Deter then pranced right up to Zack.

“What were your orders Grunt?” he demanded.

“Umm… I’m not a Grunt.” answered Zack rubbing the back of his head.

“You are now you smartass bastard! Now what were you told to do before coming on this mission!?” screamed the midget.

“Defeat Team Rocket.”

“KILL Team Rocket! ANNIALATE! KILL! Do those mean anything to you? I’ll give you a hint fucker! Those words do not mean fucking ARREST!” he ranted.

“That man humbly surrendered! I’m not just going to take a life because I’m told to. Jail time could have reformed him!” Zack pointed out. Lt. Deter glared at Zack fiercely for his defiance.

“How dare you defend Team Rocket! You insubordinate asshole! Forget Grunt! You’re on the highest level of probation Team Neos allows! I will see to it that your Golduck and any other Pokémon you have get taken away from you! You will be--” Lt. Deter was silenced by two loud pops. The midget looked down at his torso to see two red splotches slowly growing on his uniform. “F-f-fu…u…ck…” he choked as he fell to his back on the floor.

“Lieutenant!” Zack cried as he ran over to his superior. He didn’t even need to touch him, Zack knew just by looking at him that Charles Deter was dead, killed by two gunshot wounds to the chest. Zack looked up to see Archer slowly getting to his feet with a gun in his left hand.

“He needed to shut up.” the Executive said weakly as he rubbed his sore neck with his free hand.

“Archer Kurtz, how are you alive?” Zack questioned in shock. He was sure Dusknoir killed him.

“Simple, the stupid Pokémon dropped me when I let my body go limp.” he said uncaringly. The Executive then pointed the gun at Zack. “As for you, I did not expect such a powerful Trainer to be so gullible.”

“Telling me you surrendered, saying your life was worth more than your loyalty to Team Rocket. You were planning to kill me the moment my back was turned!” Zack realized furiously. He was angrier with himself than at the Rocket’s deception. He should have known better. Team Rocket will say or do anything for personal gain.

“One does not become second-in-command to the greatest criminal empire that ever existed or ever will exist by giving in to arrogant upstarts. Face it Neophyte, your little rebellion is doomed to fail! All hail Giovanni!” Archer taunted. The second he pulled the trigger, Lloyd had already used Aqua Jet to get between his partner and the Rocket taking the bullet instead.

“LLOYD!” Zack shouted in panic. The Golduck, still standing, took a deep breath before launching Hydro Pump at Archer. The torrent knocked Archer off his feet and sent him flying into the railing of the balcony. Lloyd only stopped his attack when his enemy was pushed over the side.

“Lloyd! Are you ok!?” questioned Zack urgently. There was a small hole in the chest plate of the Duck Pokémon’s armor with a web of cracks spreading from the impact site. Lloyd rubbed his chest uncomfortably so Zack took the chest plate off. There was a dark bruise on Lloyd’s chest and a dent on the inside of the armor, but other than that the Golduck was no worse off. His armor had completely absorbed the shot. Zack couldn’t help but laugh and cry in relief.

“Would you look at that? It would seem we both owe our lives to Team Neos now. Man I love this organization!” he cheered giving his partner a hug. His elation dwindled when he saw Lt. Deter’s dead body though. “I guess we should move on.” he said somberly.

Zack took a quick look over the railing to see Archer’s body contorted in an unnatural position and blood pooling under it confirming that he was indeed dead this time. He would like to brag about singlehandedly defeating a Rocket Executive, but his own naivety had cost the life of one of his own. Zack hoped that his next encounter would be a friendly one and not another enemy. He knew that if anyone surrendered he would still want to take them in rather than kill them no matter how many of them would try to turn on him because there would always be that one person who could be reformed
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