A/N: Question: Do you hate somewhat callous shitheads as your MC? If yes, then this story's probably not your cup of tea...although...if you want to help decide what one does..then get in here and start voting.

Chapter 1

Far far above the clouds, above the mountain peaks where Dragons roost and above the troposphere where Flying-types soar. Above the stratosphere with its thinning air and above the mesosphere with its biting cold. There exists the thermosphere, a place where the last scraps of breathable oxygen go to die and only Legends like Rayquaza dare reside.

But beyond even that there is the exosphere.

And it is here, in that final boundary before the emptiness of space, where our story begins.

For that is where the rip opened, and a tiny speck without form, substance, or even mass was forcefully shoved through.

The Planets Surface, Kanto Region

There's little warning as the mechanical contraption somehow rolls up undetected. By all rights and good logic it should've made a horrible clamor just from its tank-like treads smashing through the underbrush and yet -by some miracle of science- it creeps into striking distance without anyone at the picnic even glancing its way.

A low hum emanates from the machine as its internal hydraulics shift and not a moment later a robotic arm launches itself from the treeline! Each member of the protagonist trio lets out their own version of a startled gasp but ultimately do nothing to interfere as the two halves of the glass capsule snap shut, trapping the large yellow mouse inside. "Pika! Pika Pi!"

"Oh no! Pikachu!" Ash Ketchum jumps to his feet and puts on the best scowl that a 10 year old can. "Who's out there? Show yourselves!"

Two pairs of smug laughter ring out over a loudspeaker as the bizarre hybrid between a military vehicle and a pizza-place claw machine finishes driving into the clearing. The clear UFO-like dome serving as its cockpit slides open and its pilots leap out in an over-the-top reveal.

"Prepare for trouble!"

"Make it double!"

"To protect the world from devastation!"

"To unite all peoples within our nation!"

"To denounce the evils of truth and love!"

"To extend our reach to the stars above!"



"Team Rocket blast off at the speed of light!"

"Surrender now or prepare to fight!"

"Meowth! That's right!"

It is right then. Right there as the talking cat finishes the chant and raises his little claws high that I feel my screaming disembodied soul finish its plummet to earth and slam into the blue-haired man from above with all the meteoric force that an invisible amorphous concept with no mass can possess.

I wish I could say that the bodies original inhabitant survived the collision. I truly do. I wish that I could say that his consciousness was merely.. forced into the 'passenger seat' for a little while.. or that the personality of 'James' had fallen into a deep slumber... Something relatively peaceful that could provide hope that I hadn't just involuntarily committed manslaughter with the psychic-spiritual equivalent of plowing into them so fast they were reduced to a pink mist.

But I can't say that. It wouldn't be the truth...because the truth is...

There on that forest pathway...with his loyal Pokémon clipped to his belt and his longtime partner in crime standing next to him…

James shattered.

He felt no pain. No shock. He didn't even have time to feel confusion. One moment he was perfectly fine and a few microseconds later the fragmented echoes of what was once his soul were being soaked up into my own.

Had there been a Psychic present, either Pokémon or human, I can't help but wonder what they would have seen? Would the event have bypassed their senses entirely... or would they fall to their knees and retch at the horror of what had just occurred?

All of these revelations though, were things I would only realize in hindsight. Items that would only become clear after the fact, once I actually had time to think about what it was I experienced.

And I certainly wasn't in the right mindset for any of that during those first few minutes.

'Oh no..' I felt this new body lock up as my eyes took in the surroundings. 'No no no..'

"Argh! It's you guys again!" the boy in the red hat growled with a raised fist. "Don't you ever quit?"

"These three just can't help but cause trouble!" Brock pitched in angrily.

Misty nods along. "You'd think there'd at least be someone besides us they could go bother for a little while!"

'No no no no..' A cartoon! A goddamn children's cartoon. A motherfucking no-swearing allowed, no sexual content, comedic violence only, barely even qualifies as PG cartoon! 'Why here! Why would he send me here!'

The robotic arm begins retracting and the main character finally snaps into action. "Pikachu! Break out of there with Thunderbolt!"

"Pika-CHUUU!" Lightning sparks and flares in a blinding display inside the capsule but despite the creature's best efforts none of it seems to have any effect whatsoever.

The Meowth by my feet looses a taunting laugh at the attempt. "You idiot! Did you think we wouldn't plan for your Pokémon's electric shock!"

A haughty chuckle from my left signals the redheads agreement. "Your precious Pikachu's attacks are useless so long as he's in that sphere!"

"Grrr. Well good thing Pikachu's not my only Pokémon then!" He snaps a Poké Ball from his waist and chucks it high with an overdramatic windup. "Go! Charmander!"

"Oh no you don't!" Jessie meets his growl with one of her own. "Ekans! Come on out!"

I do my best to control my breathing as the scene continues to unfold in its stereotypical children fighting on the playground-esque fashion. My new muscles are finally relaxing -which I suppose is a plus-. It at least allows me to break the ridiculous pose James had struck and stand normally. On the downside of things though my stomach feels like its flopping side-to-side like a beached fish and a wave of nausea is threatening to have me hurl my guts out right here on the side of the...tank-thing.

'Ok. Ok. Focus. Just...keep breathing. So we got our ass kicked and then had our soul shucked into a Pokémon universe like it was yesterdays garbage. No big deal...where do we go from here? What options do we have? Any notable resources?' My eyes catch glimpse of the red & white ball clipped to James's belt. 'We have...a Koffing.' I realize with a touch of bitterness. 'Well that's almost the same as having nothing at all isn't it?'

"Charmander, we need to help Pikachu! Get in close and use Slash!"

"Char! Char!" The baby reptile cries in agreement and throws himself into an adorable little run as one claw begins to glow with a white power.

"Ekans, stop that lizard with a Poison Sting!" Jessie gives her command and then angrily elbows me in the side. "James don't just stand around doing nothing! Get your head out of the clouds!"

The jab somewhat clears my daze but it's not enough to make me suddenly jump into the fight or anything. Not enough to make me actually want to participate in this...juvenile inanity. 'It's all just...so dumb.'

Needles of bright light splash against the Charmander's chest and the tiny reptile whimpers as each one connects. The 'Slash' building on his right hand fades away and the little lizard curls up, trying in vain to protect itself.

"Oh no Charmander!" While Ash is busy calling out in distress the two members of his backup crew are already moving to join the fray. "Help him out Geodude!" "Staryu! I choose you!"

The new Pokémon coalesce into being and immediately move to their allies rescue. Ekans easily contorts itself away from the hastily shot Water Gun but then somehow forgets that dodging is allowed when the Geodude charges straight ahead with a basic goddamn Tackle.

'So so dumb..'

As Ekans goes sliding away, it's attention now solely on the rock monster grappling it, the feline at my feet leaps out with a huff. "Well looks like Meowth has to do everything himself it seems! Get ready to take this! Meowth's special Fury Swipe attack!"

Misty throws her arm out. "Dodge it Staryu! Then break out Pikachu using Swift!"

"Hyah!" The starfish grunts and spins into the air. Yellow stars pop into existence around its ruby-like gem and then fire themselves off two or three at a time. The glass capsule develops a few cracks as the never-miss barrage slams into it and the encouraged mouse within begins tackling the walls of his prison from inside.

Gloved hands grab me by my shoulders and start to shake. "James the plan is failing! Do something!"

Trying my best to ignore the red-headed harpy who was one step from throttling me, I turned my distant glassy-eyed gaze back to to the Charmander who, despite some wincing, is pushing himself back to his feet. The flame at his backside flickered a smidgen larger and I could only imagine the little guy was ramping up to some sort of powerful Flamethrower.

'..and that would be the end of it, wouldn't it?' It's obvious how this 'play' I'm caught in the middle of is supposed to end. We'd all seen it a hundred times while growing up, the formula never changes. Team Rocket will get hit by some comedically strong nonsense attack, Pikachu would be freed, and we'd all 'blast off again' just to do it all over same time next week.

'Yeah...y'know what?' I decided as my pupils finally focused and I reached for the little sphere at my waist. 'Fuck that noise.' I don't know why I got sent here of all places..but I sure as shit do know that I'm not starting it off by getting blasted into the sky.

One final ball of light materialized among the combatants. A floating purple orb of noxious gas wearing a far too goofy smile. "Koff! Koff! Koffing!"

The Pokémon barely finished getting it's name out before Ash thrust his arm forward. "You've got this Charmander! Take Koffing down with a Fla-"


It was...difficult...to keep track of the next three and a half seconds. For about a blink the entire world seemed to still at my declaration...and then so much was happening everywhere that I could hardly focus on any of it.

Meowth reacted first, that much I'm at least a little sure of. Scrambling away as fast as four flailing limbs could take him. Next came..Brock I think? Who I saw recalling his Geodude with an uncharacteristic panic. I saw Staryu raising a Light Screen in front of Misty -as if that could somehow protect them- and I saw the Charmander visibly recoil and start to flee with its arms wailing overhead. I saw the Ekans hastily trying to burrow underground and I saw Ash who..well..poor kid didn't even look like he understood what was happening.

And the final thing I saw, before Jessie violently yanked me into the cockpit behind us, as the swelling energy inside the Poison-type reached critical mass and glowed a searing white...was that he never lost that stupid grin. "Koffing!"

There's a great number of famous expressions on the subject of making assumptions. And though they are all a little different and come with their own unique flavorings, they all generally have the same message at the end of the day. Which is don't do them. Assumptions are bad.

I bring this up because...as the explosion that engulfed the forest clearing was potent enough to overturn the vehicle that Jessie had pulled me into and send it rolling...I realized that I had been guilty of making quite the stupid one myself.

This world looked exactly like the animation I remembered. It's characters acted in a manner that was consistent with the silliness of the Original Series. So I had made the assumption that this was the cartoon. A cartoon where the amount of violence was capped by child-friendly physics.

What a hell of a way to get proven wrong.

Trickles of blood dripped down into my eye as I crawled from the wreckage. All sounds were lost save for a dull ringing in the ears and my chest ached as though it had just taken a punch from Captain America wearing a Sockém Bopper.

With one limping step at a time I dragged my feet to the other side of the vehicle and gazed upon the ruin of what was -not a minute ago- a fairly nice picnic spot. What my eyes found there was both confusing...and not.

All three of the trainers are down. Blacked out and sporting a wide array of injuries, but they're...fine? Unless there's something internal going on that I can't see then none of them have anything I would label as life-threatening. Scrapes, cuts, a couple light burns with one or two moderate ones...probably some bruises too that are sure to come..but how does that make any sense? Yeah, they're worse off than me but an explosion of that size should've killed them.

'I'm happy it didn't. Relieved. I hate taking life when I don't mean to..but no one back home would've got off so easily at such close a range.' Unless..the child-friendliness factor isn't gone gone..it's just..reduced. This reality isn't the carefully sanitized kid-version that my initial impression gave, yet neither is it the ultra-violent deathworld that so many like to re-imagine the Pokémon universe as.

Some protection is there. I just can't tell how much with only this one data point to go off of. 'Would it have been worse if 'Explosion' was used instead? What if I'd had a Weezing instead of...oh fuck the Koffing!'

I make my way to the epicenter of the new crater where a faded pale orb is unconscious on the ground. Every part of his iconic purple skin has shifted to a pink so dim that it's almost white. Weak rasps are breathing in and out of his..still somehow present smile..and I get the feeling..nay the certainty..that he's really just barely still among the living. 'Holy shit..if he was at anything other than full health would that have been an actual suicide move? Koffings are worthless but I didn't want to kill the little dude.'

"Are you crazy?!" An irritated Meowth screeches as he reappears from behind a crest in the hillside. "We have codewords for a reason! You need to warn us if you're going that route!"

My mouth opens to try and form a retort when a hand slaps me upside the back of my hand. "Honestly James," Jessie spits out as she walks up behind me, her injuries the lightest of any person here. "What on earth were you thinking?"

"He wasn't thinking!" Meowth asserts with a pointed finger. "Now hurry up and grab Koffing and lets skedaddle with Pikachu!"

"Pika Pi!" A voice snarls from our left causing the group of us to turn. Angry sparks dance along the rodents cheeks as he glowers at us from a crouched position. Eyes steeled with determination stare me down and I watch the little creatures legs tense as he prepares to pounce.

Ekans reemerges from the dirt in front of us and hisses threateningly in Jessie's defense. "Ekaaanssss!" Three sharp nails extend from each of Meowth's paws and he laughs in a menacing snicker. "Heh heh heh! Looks like it's 2 vs 1 and Pikachu's wounded to boot! Meowth admits this is gonna be cathartic! He's wanted to-"

Koffing returns to his container with a stream of light and I turn on my heel to exit the basin. "Wha- Hey! Just where do you think you're going buster!" Jessie demands in indignation.


The redhead sputters -seemingly aghast at the very idea- and twists her head back and forth between the Pikachu ready for a fight and my rapidly retreating form. "Dooohhh you better have a good reason for this James!" she nearly shouts before stomping after me in a huff.

"Jessie, what are you doing!" Meowth cries in alarm. "Pikachu's right here! We've practically won! Guys...guys? Come back….Gah! Wait for Meowth! I'm not gonna take this rat on alone!"

I do my best to drown out the mutterings of James's old cohorts as I step back onto..what remains..of the main road. I can hear their chatter behind me, their questions to each other about what the hells come over me...but I honestly just don't care. I'm much too preoccupied trying to figure out a plan of what exactly I'm supposed to do now. There's a few fragments of James's memories still bouncing around in this head but none of them offer any direction. It's all just random snippets of an unhappy childhood and a couple splotches of engineering knowledge. 'Ugh..they built a Gyarados-themed submarine? And it was powered by peddling? That's just..so impractical. Why wouldn't you ju- '

My introspection pauses as I hit one memory shard in particular...the remembrance of where 'home' is.

A home that I distinctly recall from the show having a loyal Growlithe just waiting for its master to return.

A grin worms its way to my face as my steps pick up the pace. Still don't have a real plan for being stuck in this world..but I at least know the first destination. 'An Arcanine isn't the end all be all of powerful Pokémon..' My eyes dip down again to the ball in my grip. 'But it's a damn sight better than a fucking Koffing.'

This story will possess many Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) elements. Now while there won't be something to vote on every chapter like it were a Quest you'd find on a forum, there will be enough of them that readers should feel they have a guiding hand in the story.

The twists will come from the fact that the other hand on the metaphorical steering wheel is mine.

So let's begin.

CYOA: What general path should 'James' pursue AFTER he's done visiting home?

1) Classic: Aim for the Championship. Why not right? You're in the Pokémon world. It's just what you do. Glory, prestige, influence, women if that's what tickles your fancy. You just have to go claim it. Keep in mind, this route would require somehow getting your name cleared with the law, obtaining eight badges, defeating the Elite Four, and all the usual jazz. Note: Team Rocket doesn't take kindly to deserters. 'The Boss' made it quite clear when Jessie & James signed up. "You're only allowed to quit when you're dead". Incidentally, in case it matters to the reader, this is the path where it is least likely for Jessie and Meowth to stick with you permanently.

2) Rocket: Rise within the ranks of Giovanni's organization until eventually you're the most powerful member of his inner circle. Maybe even make plans for unseating the crime boss and claiming his vast resources (and minions) for yourself. This would require going on Rocket missions, growing strong enough for an Admin position, and stronger still if you want to eventually claim 'The Boss's Chair'. Note: This puts you on a direct path of conflict with the ACE trainer organization, the Pokémon League, and various other independent goody-two-shoes that can't stomach the idea of secret labs or the occasional murder.

3) Bailout: Forget Kanto. Forget this whole world even! You don't accept that this reality is where you're stuck! If you're going to pursue that miniscule chance of going home then that means you need to find a way to open a dimensional rift. The only lead you know of in that category is the Legendary Pokémon known as Palkia. Time to board a flight to Sinnoh ASAP. Note: Any reprisals from Giovanni would be significantly reduced on this path as you're just too far away for him to care. Additionally, this option would massively increase the chances of James coming into contact with Team Galactic. Though whether he resists them, or joins them, would be decided a different day.