"Wake up to yourself," she snapped, "don't you realise what you are? Who you are?"
I think that was the only time my mother ever came close to shouting at me.
It was weird, really. Other people couldn't understand it. She was nicknamed the "Woman of Ice", not just for her choice in Pokemon, but her personality. The only time she ever lost her cool was when she thought someone wasn't for real. She hated insincerity.
Nobody thought she cared about anything. She treated everyone with cold detachment, thought nothing of killing someone, doing the dirty work herself, and was feared and hated by all the cops.
But she was never cold to me. Nobody else could understand that. But it made perfect sense to me.
She was my mother.
When I was young, I always knew I was different. I went to school, I played basketball, I had a pet - a Persian, my favourite Pokemon.
But after school, I would come home with Persian and instead of going to a normal house with a normal mother and father, where they would have a snack and start doing their homework, maybe go outside and play baseball with some kids in the neighbourhood... I would go to a place that most people feared to venture near, a place the police suspected but would've never dared to approach.
Team Rocket Headquarters.
That was my home. I saw some terrible things. I knew my mother was a murderer. A gangster. I was surrounded by criminals and I knew that one day I would be worse than any of them.
This didn't really bother me. I knew my place in life, even if I couldn't escape it. At school, when the teacher asked her class of six-year-olds: "What do you all want to be?", all the girls said they would be a hairdresser or a teacher, and the boys wanted to be firemen and policemen.
When it got to me - I was the last one called on - I said that I would be the boss of Team Rocket.
The teacher actually laughed, now I'm glad she didn't take me seriously. But back then I was full of childish outrage at having her think I was just being a stupid kid.
After all, she wasn't the one who came home to walk past one room, a lab where horrible experiments were being carried out on helpless Pokemon and another room, one full of weapons and artillary, who had lessons after school on how to raise Pokemon, who was given nervous respect by world-wide feared criminals, who had a mother who was the legendary Woman of Ice.
Persian was my only friend. I liked some of the Rockets, they were my role models, but my mother continually stressed that I couldn't trust anyone, and I shouldn't. She said that Pokemon were the only ones who could be trusted, which was why raising them was the key to ruling the world.
That was okay by me. I liked Pokemon better than humans, anyway.
I never found out what happened to my father. He would've been Italian, I guess, because he gave me my name and my face's features. But I don't know his name. I don't know anything about him, because nobody said anything.
I think my mother killed him.
"Giovanni," she said to me one day, in her usual calm voice, "it's time you got your first Pokemon. People can't be trusted, so you need to start getting trustworthy allies."
"I thought truth was evil," I replied. It was a motto of Team Rocket.
"Yes," she said, "but it does not apply to Pokemon. Pokemon are the key to everything."
"I have Persian."
My Persian purred and headbutted me in the stomach. I stroked it happily. My mother had rescued it from one of her own laboratories. It hated all humans except for me and my mother. No Pokemon hated my mother, even ones she had stolen.
They say animals are a good judge of character.
"Persian is not a strong fighting Pokemon," she said.
I proved her wrong. I did get my first Pokemon, a Nidoran, but my Persian became an extremely adept fighter. We were determined to prove everyone wrong. My mother, who would never admit defeat, confessed later that she had been wrong.
"Remember," she said, yet again, "don't let anybody, not even me, tell you that your Pokemon is not strong. Any Pokemon can be strong, from a Magikarp to a Charizard. Respect all of them."
By that time, I was a little older, and less innocent. (Was I ever innocent?) I replied, "you always tell me to respect Pokemon. But you steal them, you use them to commit crimes and kill people, your labs do those disgusting tests on them."
Her eyes smiled at me. "I'm not a good trainer. But you can be."
"If I'm gonna take over Team Rocket, how can I be?"
"You will be," she reassured, "if you understand Pokemon. Don't make mistakes like I do. We're doing tests on Pokemon, but when you take over, you can put an end to that."
"Why don't you?"
"We have to find their secrets first. Find the truth of a Pokemon's power. Respect comes from understanding."
She knew I was confused and ruffled my hair. "Don't worry, it'll fall into place. Don't worry about right and wrong, it'll just confuse you. Just remember who you are and what your future is, and remember that you can trust your Pokemon. That is all that matters!"
"Humans don't matter. Giovanni, remember that. Humans don't matter, they never matter. Revolutionise things. Use Pokemon, and free the world of Pokemon. That is what Team Rocket is."
"Team Rocket is just a criminal -"
"Don't use that word. You don't understand, do you. You will. Team Rocket's ultimate goal, OUR ultimate goal - it's to free Pokemon. Fully understand them, Giovanni. The rest of Team Rocket doesn't understand. They just join for the chance to act like juveniles and cheat people. So they wouldn't understand, but Giovanni."
Her voice became more urgent.
"They don't need to understand, because they are humans. You and I are the ones who pull the strings. Do what you need to do after you've worked out how you're going to work towards your goal."
"Yes! Have a goal. And that goal has to work towards the benefit of Pokemon. Giovanni, people will not understand you. That doesn't matter. Pokemon will. That is why my Pokemon like me. That is why yours like you. Because we understand."
"I think I understand."
"You do. Be strong, Giovanni. Remember... you're my son, and I love you."
That was the first time she had ever said that. She looked a little embarassed - my mother! I had never seen her look embarassed!
She quickly turned and left the room.
I never saw her again.
She was right. She said no humans could be trusted, and she was talking about herself!
I never hated her though.
I took over Team Rocket. I knew what I was doing, even if I was only fifteen at the time. Lots of people resented having to follow a teenager's orders. I made a few enemies, but I kept my identity secret from the outside world. I beat all challengers with my Persian. I knew the way things ought to be run, and took it on.
I earned some grudging respect.
I quit school.
I stopped playing basketball. I'd been getting quite good at it.
I never forgot what my mother said to me.
My best friend, my Persian, was constantly disrespected and mocked by all trainers, until it beat them. I was sure it was the strongest Pokemon in the world. I didn't care if it was or not, it was the only one I most trusted and that's all that counted.
Then, it ran away.
Don't know what happened.
It just did.
I couldn't find it anywhere.
My first Pokemon who I trusted had left me. My mother had been wrong for the first time in her life. There's no guarantees about who you could trust. My Pokemon guide said that Persian were known for fickle meanness. Mine was never like that. Mine was a friend.
But I felt that if I couldn't trust my mother, there was no hope for me. So I still believed in what she said, that you could trust Pokemon. After all, it's true I never knew what happened to Persian.
I got a Meowth. It was the most unusual Pokemon I'd ever heard of. It could speak! But it refused to evolve, and I wanted a Persian.
I was having an argument with Meowth once, and I suddenly realised, I couldn't trust Meowth either. Meowth could speak, and thought like a human. And humans couldn't be trusted.
I dumped it on Myamoto's daughter. Myamoto had worked beneath my mother, and I knew her fairly well. She died when her daughter was only five, leaving her to be brought up by Team Rocket, a similar childhood to mine, except she didn't have anyone to care. I had my mother.
It was almost sad, but I didn't like people so it didn't bother me.
A few months later, Persian came back. I didn't ask any questions. But then I knew for sure that my mother hadn't been lying. She was right, like she always was, when she told me I could trust Pokemon.
That was actually great. Not good at expressing my feelings - I'm cold, like my mother, but... there was one person I could trust. Even if she's dead now.
But she was a bit wrong about something. It's not important to understand your Pokemon. It's more important to like them and work with them without having to understand them. Persian and I are a solid team, even if we don't always know what the other is thinking.
And we're stronger than ever, 'cos we stick together and trust each other. That's the thing my mother always told me and I listened.
Flames billowed out of a window two rooms down, and cops ran through the corridors like rats through a maze. Outside, Giovanni was handcuffed and being lead into a police van.
Jenny looked at the small notebook she held in one hand. Hand written, presumably not so long ago. She'd confiscated as many documents as she could find before the fire claimed Team Rocket Headquarters, but this one was something quite different from the normal categorising of Pokemon stolen, new laboratory discoveries and calculations of profits.
In the desk, beside it, was a Pokeball. Somehow, Jenny knew that Persian would be inside. Giovanni had deliberately left it behind.
"I hate this job," she muttered, but from respect, left the notebook in the bottom desk drawer, where it would be lost forever and never seen again.
Her eyes almost - almost - went misty at the last line she saw written on the page, but she hardened herself and left the room.
You know what? I didn't even know my mother's name.