Diamond 38: Give me Determination
Diamond 38: Give me Determination
Laiki tightened a bandage around the Nidorina's paw, "there now, you're okay." She didn't understand how the city hall's improvised medical facilities became so full so fast. The Viridian Pokemon Center couldn't be full yet, or even occupied enough to be considered crowded. Those trainers probably thought it was cooler to go to city hall to have their pokemon treated for a change. Or perhaps they were directed there as part of the mayor's campaign. It was all the more work for Laiki, albeit she was supposed to be backing up the Pokemon Center, not turning city hall into its replacement.
Comet entered with his Meowth, Purry, following him a few feet away. She seemed to be embarrassed to be seen with such a ridiculously dressed trainer, in his lime green waiter suit. One thing was for sure, she would not ride on his shoulder like she usually did. "How's it going?" Comet greeted.
Purry considered running off again, but she wanted to stay close enough to her trainer to have easy access to all the areas in the arena. She loved watching battles; it helped her improve by observing the way other pokemon fought. She was a very tough and feisty pokemon. Besides, she would never forgive herself if she missed the ending of the tournament when the Viridian gym leader was scheduled to battle. That would be her chance to see his handsome Persian. Even if Persian wasn't sent out to battle, Purry knew he would be there next to his trainer as always. She would watch him hidden in the shadows as she always did.
The city hall looked as elegant as ever, with its mirror-like perfectly polished floors. The walls were adorned with forest themed wallpaper, which would have looked terribly tacky despite its expense, if not for the lovely glass chandelier overhead. The chandelier saved city hall from being a total eye sore by taking away all the attention that would have otherwise been directed at the leafy wallpaper. 'Forest pride,' that was what the mayor called his decor. It was an effort to win the votes of those who were fans of the Viridian forest. The forest was taken very good care of. Far from doing it as a favor to nature, the reason was mostly because it was a wonderful cover for run away thieves to sneak into their base.
"Busy," Laiki had a nice welcoming expression, but it was obvious she wasn't happy to be kept too busy to have time to snoop around. "How are things out there?"
"Not too great. A lot of the trainers that gathered here did it for the price money. Most of the real professionals wouldn't be interested in an unofficial tournament not backed by the league, even if it is legal," Comet stood in a corner leaning against the wall near the examination table.
Laiki's next patient was a Voltorb. "There's nothing wrong with this one, he just fainted," she muttered as she tried to resuscitate the pokemon without causing him to explode. "So what's the problem? Is the crowd getting out of hand?" She wished she could see it, it certainly sounded more interesting than what she was currently doing. The injuries coming from battles seen by the public were not a real medical challenge, unlike the critical conditions she was used to treating.
"Not quite," Comet grinned, clearly amused. "You know how they were making the trainers battle to eliminate each other because there were too many? You're not going to believe what this guy did. He certainly made things go faster. It makes me wish I could battle him, too bad I can't enter the competition because I'm stuck delivering snacks."
"Voltorb! Voltorb!" The patient was finally awake and not in a good mood.
"Return!" Laiki called the Voltorb, back into his pokeball. It was her way to deal with stubborn pokemon when she would rather occupy herself with something else. "Well, are you going to tell me what this mysterious trainer you speak of did?"
Comet petted his Meowth, who hissed in response. She rarely allowed anyone to pet her, scratching at whoever tried. Comet was an exception, but not while he was wearing lime green. She ran off to the other side of the room and sat proudly in a corner. Comet looked down at his clothes, "only the boss can wear such bright colors without being hated."
"Even if we forgive orange, I doubt anyone would overlook lime green for too long. Besides, he's been dressing better lately," Laiki commented. "You're doing it on purpose, aren't you?" She pouted indignantly, "keeping me in suspense like this. C'mon, tell me, who is the trainer you spoke of? What did he do?"
Comet grinned, "Ash," he announced, "the Indigo League champion of the year before last." The man who Comet did not know was Delia's son. He only knew her by her first name from his father's stories. "The same one everyone is expecting to see facing off against last year's winner in this year's championship."
"No way, now that's news!" Laiki cheered excitedly, "tell me more, I must know!" Theories about the boss secretly having a descendant somewhere in the world were not unheard of. But every time the theories surfaced the stories eventually faded into nothing. This time, not even Laiki was expecting it.
xoxox xox xoxox
At Giovanni's office at the Viridian Gym, Delia had fallen into a monologue. After bringing up the topic of the letter she left before her departure from Team Rocket, she recounted various events from the past. She added in all the thoughts she didn't voice and perhaps didn't fully realize at those times. She had set her mind to revealing everything, but she couldn't find the balance between being too direct and going in circles.
The phone rang, putting an end to Giovanni's already drying patience, "I have to take that call."
"I understand," Delia did not complain and instead grew silent. She remained frozen in place, save for the motions of petting Persian on her lap. She reasoned that if Giovanni wanted her to leave, he would have said so. Besides, back when her abundant knowledge about Team Rocket had been recent, he never made the effort to find her, not even for the sake of ensuring her silence. He knew she would never speak against him.
Giovanni recognized the caller's number as coming directly from the mayor's office. He answered, knowing full well that even if mayor Rune Antilles was quite useful, he could be too much of a worrier at times.
"Giovanni, we have a problem!" The mayor's voice came from the receiver as soon as he heard the ringing stop, even before Giovanni could speak. "There's this young man who scared off some of the trainers. They say he has really strong pokemon and walks around with a ferocious Pikachu on his back!" As he listened to Rune, Giovanni tried to imagine the ferocious Pikachu. The gym leader found he could not; some pokemon just couldn't look ferocious.
"He's not from Viridian City," the mayor continued with great concern, "he's from Pallet Town or something like that. Do you happen to know where that is?" Mayor Antilles was a man of high society and politics, though he was far from being a rich extremist. He did not think of an excursion to a 'peasant town' as a novelty. He simply did not know where on the map the little town was located because he had no business with it.
"Pallet Town is south from Viridian City, but why does it matter? A few decent competitors had to show up, that doesn't sound like a problem at all," Giovanni had taken a quick look out the window at the crowded streets below before Delia arrived. The city was infested with amateurs that called themselves trainers, he could tell just by looking.
"You'll take care of him won't you?" Rune insisted in a worried voice, "don't forget our plan. If someone from Viridian City wins the tournament, that trainer will win all the way in the extra battle against you. If someone from out of the city wins, even if they get the price money, they will not get the glory. It will be up to you as the gym leader to avenge our proud city!"
"I'll win no matter what, just like I told you," regardless of if the trainer was from Viridian City or not, Giovanni would not allow himself to be defeated.
"But what about-" before Rune could finish, Giovanni ended the call and silence once again invaded his office.
"Is everything okay?" Delia felt the need to say something, before the atmosphere became too heavy with accumulating silence. In reality not more than a few seconds of quiet had passed.
"Yes, it's just Rune worrying about someone from Pallet Town with a ferocious Pikachu," clearly, Giovanni thought the mayor's worries were ridiculous and exaggerated. The mention of the little town brought up a question, "do you live in Pallet Town?"
Delia took a moment to reply, she had been a little distracted thinking that the trainer from Pallet Town who had the ferocious Pikachu had to be Ash. However, his Pikachu was absolutely adorable. The only ferocious thing about him was his appetite for her pancakes. "Yes, I do, I've lived in Pallet Town for many years," so far Delia had discussed the past, but had not spoken of the present. "In fact, I have a little restaurant there, you can't miss it; it's the only restaurant in town. What I mean is, maybe you should drop by sometime."
"Is that why you came here?" Giovanni sat beside Delia again, he was finished waiting. "You looked like you had something important to say. Your voice reminded me of when you were about to tell me a vital piece of information I never would have guessed you could obtain."
That wasn't the case; this was information that was impossible for her to not know. After all, no woman can give birth and not notice. "Do you like to watch the Indigo League championships on TV?" She finally found a strategy. Before telling him about Ash's identity, she would tell him just how great Ash was.
"Delia, just say what you were going to say," Giovanni insisted. As curious and surprised as he was due to her sudden visit, his patience had run dry listening to her stories of the past. He thought he would have figured out what this visit was about by then, even if she didn't say anything directly.
"This is what I was going to say, it's important, the truth is-" the phone rang again, cutting off Delia's sentence. She remained quiet as Giovanni went to answer the phone. She wanted his full attention when she explained everything. She would wait until he was done talking, rather than rush her explanation or share him with the phone. He could follow both voices, she knew that. But with news such as the kind she brought, his train of thought might come to a full halt when he heard, or perhaps speedily derail. As long as he had some sort of reaction that was not indifference, Delia would be satisfied. Anger, regret, happiness, disbelief, any emotion would do, it was uncaring indifference that she feared.
The conversation on the phone went in a similar way to last time. Mayor Antilles' speedy worried rambles came from the receiver as soon as Giovanni picked it up, before he could even speak. "We have less than fifty participants. A few of them have been identified as being very good, but mostly they are beginners. The good ones keep their battles quick because of the power difference in comparison to their opponents. Add to that the fact that so many trainers dropped out and the tournament will be cut short. We are ahead of schedule, but in a bad way! Even if we had too many participants before that troublesome man with the ferocious Pikachu showed up, now we don't have enough. We're taking late entries, but if worse comes to worse, I'll need your personnel out there to fill in the spots."
"Which is what I said should be done from the beginning," Giovanni reminded, he didn't share the abundant concern the mayor had about his 'personnel' being discovered.
"Yes, yes, but who would have thought he would show up, do you know who he is?" Mayor Antilles didn't give Giovanni the chance to answer before he revealed the young man's identity, though not by name, "he's the Indigo League champion from two years ago!"
Giovanni looked pleased with the news; he was looking forward to a challenge. He had no real battles in a long time. Badges were still given away now and then simply because that was his duty as a gym leader. He had to fulfill it to keep his position, but those were not real battles to him. "Good, I'm looking forward to that battle," Giovanni hung up in a slightly better mood than before.
"I take it you received news of a worthy opponent?" Delia voiced as naturally as she could. She had been very close to revealing everything before the interruption and she intended to pick up where she left off as soon as she recovered his attention.
"Yes, the Indigo League champion from two years ago is here, according to the mayor," Giovanni observed Delia's expression, she was a little surprised for a split second, then took on a knowing look. It was as if she had heard exactly what she wanted to hear. He remembered how Delia always found ways to surprise him and somehow ended up knowing far more than he expected. "You asked me if I watched the Indigo League championships on TV and it turns out the champion from two years ago is here. I take it this is not a coincidence."
"Do you know who he is?" Finally the conversation seemed to be advancing, which pleased Delia.
"No, I didn't watch the championship, I was busy. But if he's from Pallet Town then you must know him. Everyone still knows everyone there, right?" Whatever puzzle was awaiting; it had to be solved soon.
"Yes, I do know him," Delia smiled filled with thoughts of her son, their son. "It was many years ago when he was ten, nearly eleven really. That was when Ash started his pokemon journey from Pallet Town. He traveled to many places, met many people and had many adventures. He's come very far since then. You wouldn't remember him; you never battled him for a badge and I doubt you ever met."
During the time of Ash's first journey there were several small gyms that gave out badges aside from the main eight gyms of Kanto. Because of that, Giovanni wasn't surprised to hear someone had made it to the Indigo League without ever battling him.
"He does have an Earth badge though," Delia added, observing Giovanni's expression. She still had his attention and interest, he was puzzled and curious. "You weren't here during that time, he battled someone else to obtain the Earth badge," Jessie and James to be specific, but there was no need to associate their names with Team Rocket anymore. They had retired from the team a few years ago, or rather they were fired. Both of them were good people after getting to know them as friends rather than criminals. Delia certainly knew how to make them behave with the promise of food. Jessie, James and their talking Meowth were big fans of her cooking.
"So his name is Ash and he has an Earth badge, which he obtained while I was away," it wasn't rare that Giovanni had to delegate his gym leader duties, thus he didn't look too deeply into that detail. He didn't realize the mysterious Ash was involved in the incident that ended up leaving the gym in ruins. He didn't know anything about Ash's involvement in the Mewtwo case and he didn't remember Mewtwo. Giovanni's memories about the legendary pokemon were locked away and he was convinced the cloning experiment had been a complete failure. "He's from Pallet Town and he has a Pikachu," Giovanni finished listing the facts he knew so far, "all of this is somehow linked to something you came to say?"
"Yes, it concerns both of us-" again Delia's voice was interrupted by the phone, but that time her expression was annoyed. Her face lacked the patience she practiced the last two times.
She sighed as Giovanni went to pick up the phone. He spoke before Rune's worrisome rambles came, "what is it now, Antilles?"
"Goodness, are you angry? I suppose the seriousness of the situation finally sunk in. I'll be shooting myself in the foot if this tournament puts Viridian City below the level of some small town in the middle of nowhere," the mayor dramatized, "if it comes to that, you must win and avenge Viridian City!"
"You said that already and I told you that no matter what, I'll win the battle. If you don't have anything else to say, stop calling, I'm busy." Whatever mystery Delia held, it had build up to the point where it would endlessly bother Giovanni if he didn't solve it. It couldn't be anything urgent, if it was, Delia would have said it already without worrying about the phrasing, unless she was unsure if she should say it. Either way, he wanted to know what was important enough to make her show up at the gym after a very long absence. He told himself he shouldn't care, but the mystery kept nagging at him to be uncovered.
"What about the speech? We're starting the tournament and you're supposed to give a speech too. I'll start with my speech. It won't last more than ten minutes, so please get ready. We need to start the tournament before more people leave!" Mayor Antilles was clearly stressed.
"I'm on my way," Giovanni didn't wait for a reply before ending the call. He looked at Delia, who was giving him the very same look she gave him many years ago. It was the expression she had when she used to say she missed him, even if they lived together.
"I know, you have to go, but it's alright, because I want you to see for yourself what I was trying to tell you. I want you to know what I mean," her words didn't make too much sense to him. The only clue was the young man who had won the Indigo League championship in the past. "If you face him in battle, you'll learn more than what I could tell you, that's just how it is for two great trainers." She got up and started walking towards the office door, "I hope there's enough room for one more in the crowd."
"Wait, why don't you just tell me now? What were you going to say after you came all this way?" The mystery was really annoying Giovanni.
Delia smiled, "it's nice that you're interested in knowing, even if you don't know why you should be."
He didn't inquire further, if that was how she wanted it to be, then he would figure things out on his own. Nonetheless, he would make sure she stayed long enough to clarify his theories, whenever he came up with them. "You won't be able to find a seat now, unless you have a VIP pass."
xoxox xox xoxox
At the main entrance of the Viridian Stadium, Brock grimaced about his horrible luck. The girl from the ice-cream cart down the street was very nice to him and flirted with him for a while. He helped her take care of business, selling snow cones and popsicles of an assortment of flavors and various frozen treats. Eventually, she sold everything in her cart and left.
Brock asked for her number, email, or any means to contact her. She replied that her boyfriend might not like it if another man called her. Heartbroken, Brock rushed to the stadium realizing at last just how much time had passed. He was out of luck in more ways than one, as the stadium was full and Wendy wasn't allowing anyone else in.
He decided that at least he would keep her company guarding the front gates. Then a tall man with dark hair and a mean glare, wearing a lime green suit arrived. The man growled, "is this guy bothering you?"
"Not at all," Wendy grinned, "Brock, was it? This is my husband."
Brock's jaw dropped, he was having really bad luck that day, "um... nice to meet you." Before the dangerous looking man could reply, Brock ran away in depressed embarrassment.
From a safe distance, Brock looked back at the Viridian Stadium and sighed. If he didn't get married soon, he feared he never would. Everyone was either dating, engaged or already married. Soon Ash would be married too whenever he got around to propose.
He wondered the streets passing in front of the city hall on his way to the Pokemon Center. He wanted to find a quiet spot to sit and wait. He had come to terms with the reality that he would miss the tournament. He couldn't even flirt with Jenny or Joy because they were both married. Each of them had a baby girl identical to the mother.
He noticed people going in and out of city hall quite freely and wondered in. The large lobby at the entrance had been transformed into a medical facility and there was a pretty blond nurse. She was talking to a red haired young man.
The man began to leave, saying something about getting back to work. As he passed by, he stopped and looked at the depressed Brock, "are you okay?"
Brock looked absolutely agonized, "is she your girlfriend?"
Comet gave him an odd look, "of course not!"
Laiki threw her head back in laughter, "he's more like a brother to me," though they were not biologically related.
Brock's face brightened so much that Comet backed away, startled by the sudden change of expression. "Do you need help with anything?" Brock dashed over to Laiki, "by the way, my name's Brock, I'm a pokemon breeder. What's your name?"
Feeling ignored, Comet decided to continue on his way with Purry, following him. The Meowth still refused to be carried down the busy streets while her trainer was dressed in a lime green waiter suit. Comet decided not to meddle. Surely Laiki wouldn't lead on that poor desperate guy too much. She already had two boyfriends, one in Johto and another in the Orange Islands. Then again, she might want to have a Kanto boyfriend. Comet shook his head and kept walking; it was none of his business anyway.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Pokemon. The part about there being other gyms aside the main eight is a reference to Gary's many Kanto badges in the anime. Jessie and James will appear in the story later. :D