Diamond 31: Give me Optimism
Diamond 31: Give me Optimism
The storm had begun to subside and the waves in the ocean became gentler, but the sea refused to be completely still, as if conveying the restlessness of those who inhabited New Island. Captain Adoy's ship had sunk to the bottom of the sea, but the captain did not go down with his ship. He was effortlessly taken prisoner when members of Team Rocket boarded the sinking ship to make sure not a single enemy slipped away in the cover of the storm.
It would be very unlikely that they would survive the storm out at sea without a vessel, though with the help of strong water pokemon it was not completely impossible and that was a chance to escape Giovanni would not give them. It was that decision, which did not concern their safety at all, which in the end saved Captain Adoy from drowning. The captain, who did not like confrontations, had his ship taken by force and was being held prisoner aboard the vessel, Han had been desperate.
Captain Adoy knew too much, so he, along with the Han's crew, would suffer a similar fate as those in the Tempest Gang in the past, given up to the police for them to employ their resources in keeping them in jail. With his growing political influence, Giovanni could make sure that they, and those who were previously imprisoned from Tempest before, did not get out for many years. It was a simple, effective and not too messy way to get rid of the problematic group, at the same time giving the authorities someone to blame.
The New Island research facilities were not constructed to hold prisoners, with only a few cages available large enough to contain humans. They were made to keep human sized pokemon, albeit those were rare in the laboratory, since the smaller ones were easier to experiment on. However, one of the three Team Rocket ships that had been in the assault was equipped with cages below deck to transport human sized pokemon or larger. Cages were harder to break out of than pokeballs and made it possible to monitor the pokemon constantly. It was in that ship that the prisoners were kept temporarily, in the shores of New Island.
It was still night, but it would not be long before the sun rose in the horizon, signaling the beginning of a new day that was already off to a bad start. Delia had left the ship she was on when they reached New Island and gone to the laboratory to see how her friends were doing. It was hard to tell if Binks was better or worse, he was sleeping when Delia found him, curled up in what had been Aayla's room, hugging a bloody ragged pillow with stains that matched the shades of red and maroon on the walls of the once immaculate white room. Rattata sat at the foot of the bed looking up, waiting patiently and worried for her trainer to wake up.
Shaking her head solemnly, Delia headed back to the door but stopped. She had decided that things had to change and they would. "Binks, wake up!"
He woke up startled at the sudden voice, jerking up suddenly and looking around the room in a panicked daze. "Where am I?" His hair was as messy as before and his clothes were just as dirty, his eyes were far more bloodshot, but also more focused despite the heavy scent of alcohol in his breath.
Delia wished he was only drunk and not insane; it was hard to perceive the smell of liquor above the scent of fresh blood before. Maybe he had been in shock and his metal capabilities gave out temporarily, she certainly hoped it was only temporary. "Binks, are you sane?" It was not a gentle approach, it was indeed a terrible one, but Delia was simply too tired to sugar coat her question.
"I sure hope so," Binks rubbed his temples, feeling his head pounding harshly. "I have a hangover," he admitted, "I'm sorry, did I say something strange? I can't seem to remember anything." He examined his surroundings and asked again even more perplexed than before, with added fear when he woke up enough to realize the bloody walls were not leftover illusions from a nightmare, "where am I?"
"You're in the New Island laboratory," Delia's voice and expression reflected her lack of sleep and exhaustion from pushing herself so much that night. "I'm not sure where to start, but things are going to change, the purpose of this laboratory and many other things," she was simply too tired to think about the specifics at the time. "Why don't you start by getting out of this awful room and cleaning yourself up?"
Binks nodded, examining his own filthy appearance. "Yes you're right, I badly need a shower." Rattata hopped on the bed wagging her tail, glad to see her trainer was awake and seemingly in a better state than when he fell asleep. "What a bad trainer I am, I'll get you cleaned up too Rattata, I don't want you to get sick." Then he seemed to remember something all of a sudden when the daze of the hangover finally allowed his memories to resurface, which filled his face with alarm, "where's Aayla, she turned into a..." he dared not say monster.
"She's alive," Delia assured, at least that's what she was told, of course, it would be too much to say she was okay. "She's still human despite her appearance and I trust you will do anything you can to get her back to normal."
"Yes, of course," Binks was aware that Delia must have realized his call when she was at Cinnabar Island was a lie. Aayla couldn't speak, not because of having her tonsils removed, but because she had lost the ability due to the mutations and could only growl. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have lied, I was in denial," he was clearly repentant.
"Look to the future, all we want in the end is to rebuild our world and hope has not failed me yet," not completely at least, or maybe hope had died long ago and Delia was only holding on to its ghost in a deeper denial than that which plagued Binks. "Be strong for Aayla," those were Delia's parting words to Binks before she went to see Luke and Leah.
xoxox xox xoxox
The situation reminded Delia of the past, only gloomier. There was a time when Team Rocket had no place to go, they were homeless with their biggest asset being their abundant courage and unbreakable determination, it was the only thing they had to their names back then. Delia remembered the time right before the Viridian Gym was freed from the Tempest Gang to become the new home of Team Rocket. The team had changed infinitely, but there was still hope, as they say, when you hit rock bottom all that is left to do is climb up, they had done so before so why not accomplish it again? Team Rocket would stay on top, never again to fall so low; Delia wanted to make that happen.
She was on the first floor of the laboratory, about to head towards the basement where the cells containing Luke and Leah were, when she saw Giovanni coming in after checking on the prisoners on the ship. He only glanced at her, but that was enough, she hurried to him concerned with how stressed and tired he looked. "Are you okay?"
"Yes, everything has finally settled down," they were both clearly exhausted as he led her out of the laboratory and towards the leader ship where they could rest.
"Where's Aayla?" Delia immediately inquired, "you said she was with the team." Delia had asked about her friend as soon as she saw Giovanni again when they arrived back at New Island and he had told her that Aayla was alright, that she was with the other members of Team Rocket.
Giovanni wasn't fully aware of how much Aayla's appearance had changed, he assumed she might have a few scars maybe, but never guessed she had been mutated that much. He assumed that Aayla had to be somewhere in the sea of black uniforms with red Rs, he never got to see the video Binks took, but if Aayla had accompanied Delia in her reckless mission, then she had to be well enough. None the less, Aayla's whereabouts were a mystery; it was another thing that had to be dealt with later. "I don't know," Giovanni finally admitted.
Disappointment and frustration quickly returned to Delia full force, "you said she was with the team, were you just guessing? You really don't understand; I knew it was a lie, but I wanted so badly to believe you!"
"Delia," he interrupted raising his voice above her upset accusations, then paused as they went onboard the ship anchored at shore and down to the cabin below deck, "I have a lot on my mind right now," he finished in a softer tone, weary rather than annoyed.
Delia nodded, filled with guilt; it was her foolish choice that could have cost Aayla her life for all she knew, but she couldn't throw her anxiety at Giovanni, he had never looked this stressed and tired for as long as she had known him. Everyone was at breaking point if not beyond it, perhaps even the seemingly invincible leader. "I'm sorry, just forget about what I said," the words tasted bitter, she couldn't believe what she was saying. "Right now all that matters is that the crisis has passed and soon everything will be running smoothly again."
"There's a lot to be done," just going over the long list of plans he wasn't sure how he would accomplish threatened to give Giovanni a headache.
"Yes there is, and it will be done, I'm sure it can be accomplished," they were in their cabin at the leader ship, safely behind locked doors, away from the tension of the aftermath of the chaos, "there will be no more traitors in Team Rocket."
No more traitors, if only everyone was that loyal. Outside, the sun shone in the early morning, but instead of waking up as the people of Kanto must have been doing in their homes; Giovanni and Delia were finally going to sleep after being awake for nearly twenty-four hours.
The cabin was slightly more elegant than the rest of the ship, but it was still simple with plain floors, lacking the plush carpets of a truly luxurious cabin. There were no glass chandeliers, fancy entertainment systems or expensive furniture, but there was a soft comfortable bed, with fluffy pillows clothed in the same dark red of the sheets. It was not a color Delia felt like looking at, but it didn't matter, she was thankful she could finally rest.
Delia's slumber was fueled by exhaustion alone, as her thoughts refused to be silent, the grim possibilities of Aayla's fate were still in her mind along with similar pessimism related to Luke, Leah, Binks and Team Rocket in general. She kept subconsciously pushing those thoughts away as they haunted her nightmares.
xoxox xox xoxox
It was mid day when Giovanni woke up; he had a lot of work to do, a lot of trust to test and even more to take away. He would not leave any openings for betrayal; somehow, he would accomplish it, even if it felt as if it was impossible. Perhaps Delia's optimism was what kept everything together after all, along with her uncanny ability to do what needed to be done in the most critical moment.
Delia woke up soon after Giovanni. Her slumber was not restful at all and the images of nightmares were still fresh in her mind. She still felt tired, but she didn't want to go to sleep, even if it seemed impossible, her dreams really were worse than reality. She was clinging to Giovanni so strongly in her unconscious state that he could not get up without waking her.
"You can rest a little more," he finally escaped her tight embrace, which was so much more welcoming than the situation that awaited him, but he knew he had to face, the sooner the better.
"No, I'll get up too, I'm not that tired," her rapid heartbeats and quick words were not due to being energetic, but to the unconscious rush of adrenaline from nightmare induced fear. "There has to be something I can do, I'll help out with anything, I want you to count on me." It was true that they disagreed on many things before, but they were making progress and it all started with Mew. Delia just had to keep finding ways to make the right things appear as the most beneficial path to Giovanni.
Her apparent burst of energy was another of Delia's surprises, "you're energetic for someone who hasn't had any caffeine in over twenty-four hours." Giovanni could use some coffee, the last time he had any in Cinnabar Island before the volcano attack. He had been a little distracted when the explosion suddenly came, he was thinking, analyzing, while at the same time listening to Delia, wondering how ready she was to play a bigger role in Team Rocket.
His thoughts from that morning were set aside after the crisis began and now was certainly not the time to think of such things. But even he had to admit that this time he would need someone to help him more directly, someone he could rely on, someone that reminded him that nothing was truly impossible, someone he could trust completely.
Delia wondered why Giovanni looked so lost in thought all of a sudden, so analytical and plotting, yet at the same time so human. "Giovanni, did you hear a single word of what I said? Are you sure you don't want to get some more sleep? You never get a lot, but maybe you should this time. I can go take a look around and bring you the full report; I don't want you getting sick from exhaustion." She made herself smile, for a moment forgetting all that she had lost, all that she thought she lost, all that was uncertain, all that was left behind and all that was destroyed. Instead she focused only on what she was thankful to still have. For a moment despite it all, she looked radiant, too good to be true.
Now was really not the time, but for once, he didn't care. He retrieved a small black box from his pocket, he wasn't sure if the time was right back at Cinnabar Island before the attack, the atmosphere had been, but that was not the part that truly mattered. Beyond the walls of the cabin, uncertainty awaited, all the more reason to have at least one certain thing in life, he placed the little box in her hands.
Delia looked at the box curiously. Was it a jewel he meant to give her and forgot about after the volcano was attacked? She knew to expect something fancy and expensive, rare and valuable, she was right, but the contents of the box still surprised her. It was a ring, a beautiful platinum ring with a big diamond on its center.
Delia could hear her own heart pounding as time stood still and for a fleeting blissful moment all the bad memories went away, all the negative events were erased and she felt as if they were the only two people in a perfect world. She was about to answer, she was about to accept, but before she could speak, the ship rocked violently.
The noise that came with the sudden movement was loud enough to go through the thick walls of the cabin. Delia gripped the box, closing it in her hand as she struggled to stay on her feet. Before she could even think, she was running out of the cabin after Giovanni, rushing out to see what was happening. Everything descended into chaos from there, it was a massacre.
One of the ships was on fire, sinking slowly into the relatively shallow waters of New Island's coast, the flames near the bottom turned to smoke as they reached the water, but the top of the deck was still ablaze, it was impossible to get in. The explosions had come out of no where and all Team Rocket could do was try to put the fire out. It couldn't have been Han or his allies; they were imprisoned on that very ship.
A chain reaction with the machinery, cannons and fuel supply had been started on the ship carrying the prisoners where Leah, who looked less sane than Binks, was standing at the bow of the ship, motionless with a wicked expression. She was quiet, sweet and polite, but she carried a lot of pressure she did not let out until she finally snapped, she could no longer run away from her problems or keep them bottled up.
Leah had learned a lot from Aayla when they were still friends, becoming a skilled thief with her ability to remain unnoticed. She knew how to pick locks, not that the lock of her cell was particularly hard to pick, since no one would expect pokemon to even try. Leah's suffering began when Han supposedly died, and it only became worse when she found out he was alive. She cursed the man who stained Han's memory and killed him along with all his followers.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Pokemon. The quote "all we want in the end is to rebuild our world," is a reference to Final Fantasy VII, Rufus says this in the Advent Children movie. The flashback is almost over, then we'll be moving on to the "special chapters" and finally the present story will continue.
What was said about the ring in Diamond 01 has finally been explained: "She slid the platinum diamond ring on her finger; it felt heavy and it reminded her of her sorrow during the occasion that should have been happy. This was the first time she ever wore that ring, but the action could have no significance after so many years."
About Leah, sorry about that... I've been hinting that she's a little unstable for a while. Instead of facing her problems she used hypnotism and denial to run away from them. She's was generally a submissive person, but held a lot of bitterness and pressure without an outlet for it. Plus I think it was easy to tell she had a bit of an obsession with Han.