Mahogany Town |Evening 
Before the Mienshao can even speak, he and the Persian both seem to notice something. They didn't have to wait long to find out what it was when the Mienshao said, "You're sweet to notice, but I think our game is actually over now." This was quickly followed by the Tauros backing out of the doorway, and the group inside was given a view of the new hostages and their captors. Heh, the two new guys had the same hair col-... holy shit the girl looks like a mini-Ariana. Even with Max's infamously terrible face recognition skills, she could tell that the young red head was likely related to the crazy woman. The older lady looked positively giddy over this haul, and that... was probably as close to a confirmation as she was going to get at the moment. Oh god, I hope crazy doesn't run in the family. Despite her usual aversion to looking at people in the face, the realization kept her staring at the pair of newbies for far longer than her typical quick glances. Following a random thought, she shifted her gaze to the male, but his eyes were different enough from Archer's that she quickly threw out the theory that these two were Ariana and Archer's children. Well, at least the guy wasn't.
Any further musing was cut short by Ariana practically gloating over the group of hostages,"So, we're all here again. I swear to God, if the dogs hear anything else, I'm going to just let them kill them. This is way too time-consuming." Despite being in this shit show, Max couldn't help but be mildly grateful that they hadn't had their fuck up later in the day. Ariana took the center stage with gusto as her Arbok slithered up to her, "All right then, everyone, listen up." As if I have anything better to do. The crazy redhead decided to better explain what was going on for anyone not from the region, "Most of you already know, but for the ignorant, we are currently standing in an old Hideout of Team Rocket's. While this was just the façade, the real Hideout is beneath us, and that's exactly where we're going. It'll be dark, cramped, and full of traps that are likely still functional, as most of them are triggered instead of electronically sprung. Archer and I know the way, but I suspect many parts of it have collapsed due to neglect and, you know, the apocalypse." Well, there was the confirmation finally about all the fucking traps. Assuming she wasn't lying, then they definitely had a better chance than tackling the Tomb of Horrors. Going through a collapsing building was not on Max's bucket list, and frankly, condemned houses unnerved her. So did cave systems and being in really dark places. In other words, she was going to have a great time. Horror games don't fail me now.
After that info dump, she chuckled as she shouldered the bag that held Grigori's pokeball and threatened, "I'll be keeping your leverage close to me, and you may use your own pokemon at our descretion. Any that surprise Archer or I and it's a bullet to the fucking head." Then, she added with a wink, "So don't." Part of Max was morbidly curious about which head she was threatening. The Pokemon Ariana held? The "surprise" Pokemon? Or the transgressing human? Figuring that the question would be unappreciated, Max held her tongue, but she couldn't help a certain image that flashed in her mind. She wouldn't want Grigori to get hurt; god she would never forgive herself if this happened, but the image of Ariana getting surprised when she let out an Aggron in a building with shitty integrity was sadistically amusing. Logically, she knew that they would all be fucked if that happened, but dammit she was having a moment. Max bit her lip to prevent any movement of her lips that would indicate what she was thinking.
Archer stepped forward with nearly military precision, "Your fellow hostage Fenix has already discovered some flashlights. There aren't enough for everyone, so if you already have one, we suggest you use it. Ariana will lead, various members of our teams will escort you in the middle, and I will bring up the rear. Be on your guard-- many of the traps that might still be down there involve captured pokemon, like Electrode, who may have become infected over the course of the Hideout's abandonment. I trust I do not have to explain why an Electrode exploding in the middle of a structurally unsound area is a bad thing." Max very noticeably winced at the mention of the Self-Destructing spheres and gritted her teeth at the image. It had been a few Geodude and Graveler... but the explosion had killed one of her Pokemon, heavily injured half of her team, and sent another on a rampage... She had gotten somewhat hurt too, but Kale had shielded her... Before her mind could wander too much, she nodded in grim agreement with the statement. No, she did not need a reminder about how devastating explosions could be.
When he finished his spiel, Archer then began to line the hostages up, and Max took that as her cue to finally stand up. Before straightening completely, she gave Misty one last ear scratch, and the pony gave her a concerned look that the human missed. Max was straightening the straps on her backpack as she was reminded of the heavy weight in her hoodie's pocket. Yeah... better move those batteries. Flashlight can stay though... When he finished lining them up, Max couldn't help but notice that he had very specifically put the two smallest people in the middle. While she wasn't complaining about that, since that included her, it was almost... strange. Usually you put the people in the middle who needed the most protection, and it only made sense that the smallest humans would need that the most. However, she hadn't thought that Archer would even bother with that consideration since they were all just meat shields to him. The New Guy next to her definitely looked frail; the apocalypse had obviously not been kind to him. Something about the way he looked very vividly reminded Max of Misty when she had first met the Ponyta. The small pony's ribs were showing, and she looked terrible. Though a big difference between the guy and Misty was that Misty had been terrified when she met her.
Ariana looked the line up over and nodded her approval before starting back up, "For those concerned for your missing pokemon." Misty's eyes opened wide as she finally realized why Max had been so compliant, and the pony was terrified about which of her team-mates they had stolen. At this point, the redhead made her way to the once-hidden door and finally said, "Team Rocket has little need for pokemon they can't control. Especially since, you know, there's no Black Market to sell them on anymore. So really, once Archer and I get what we've come for, we do plan on letting you skitter away, your teams intact. Any questions?" There was always the chance she was lying, but there was nothing Max could do at this point. She had to take their word for it and hope for the best. She shook her head to indicate the negative. The woman heaved open the door, and several of the Rocket's Pokemon went ahead to scout. Seeing the ominous stairway reawakened her earlier panic, and Max's breathing hitched. She quickly bit her lip and gripped her hands tightly together as she sought to quell her fear of being underground in the dark in a dangerous building. Don't forget the potentially exploding Pokemon. And doing this with people she didn't know, at least one she didn't like, and a man that had immense leverage over her. She shut her eyes and took a deep breath as she imagined the ocean that was always within reach from home, and how she used to fly on Melody for fun... If she imagined hard enough, she could hear the crashing waves... Fenix's voice quickly drew her out, but she had missed the words said. Her heart was still racing, but at least now she didn't feel like crying. I have to be brave. I have to be brave...