Diamond 46: Give me Family
Don't Give Me Diamonds
Diamond 46: Give me Family
Delia wasn't sure what kind of bread it was, but it was fluffy. It was as if the food couldn't decide if it wanted to be bread, a pancake, a waffle or some kind of cake. The buttery substance in it also couldn't decide if it wanted to be butter, cheese, honey or some rare yellow-bronze sauce. As for Delia, she couldn't decide if she was awake or asleep if her thoughts had decided to attribute personification metaphors to her food. The point was that it was all delicious and seemed to adapt to whatever taste she wanted to feel out of the list of possibilities.
As for the muffins, she really couldn't decide if they were muffins, biscuits or creampuffs, or perhaps a combination of their best aspects. The filling, albeit delicious, was a complete mystery to Delia and she wanted to ask for the recipe, or to speak to the cook, but did not. She felt like a country girl who didn't know as much about cuisine as she thought she did. That was all the more reason to keep quiet, least her lack of expertise in the business she had dedicated the past years to make her feel more exposed than she already felt.
Going back to the bread, Delia knew for certain that the thin strip of meat in the middle, albeit akin to bacon, did not come from a Tauros. The taste simply didn't fit, it had a delectable taste, but the taste was too soft to be Tauros. She also decided not to ask about what it was.
"You look like you have a lot on your mind," Giovanni broke the silence that had invaded the elegant dinning room. He had taken his seat, temporarily ceasing the 'Charmander moment' at Delia's insistence.
"Of course I do," ironically, instead of thinking about the multitude of things she should be analyzing, Delia was studying the food. She picked up her cup and drank as if to buy herself more time. The juice was deep red like something that a vampire would be presented drinking in a movie pretending it was blood. The strong yet pleasant aroma reminded her of grapes, apples and raspberries all at once, it tasted sweet and good. She allowed herself another moment of distraction observing the paintings that lined the white walls.
The frames were a polished and sparkling gold, which she knew must have been real. Even with its shine, the beauty contained in the paintings didn't pale. The paintings were so majestic that any other frame not made of pure gold, would offend them. Delia almost expected the pokemon in them to come to life when she looked at them.
A Gyarados towered in the middle of the sea surrounded by a storm. The clouds were so detailed it almost look as if they would shift with the wind any second. The illumination of lightning overtook the horizon and if someone looked at the painting long enough, they would expect to hear the sound of thunder. The Gyarados looked to the sky with a determined expression, challenging the storm. At the same time, the mighty pokemon appeared to long for the end of the storm in the horizon, where a faint hint of calm could be seen.
Another painting on the wall depicted a Persian laying on a brown rock surrounded by a grassy field of lush green. It was as if the canvas held the texture of the grass and fur rather than that of paint on the material. It looked as if the soft pleasant breeze would blow the grass gently and the Persian would welcome it as a relief to the heat of the sun. The hunter was satisfied; the Persian's expression had a clear mark of victory. The pokemon was resting after a successful battle, inhabiting his territory proudly, as if no one could ever defy him.
"Delia," Giovanni's voice got Delia out of her thoughts again. She looked at him for a long moment before coming to a choice.
She wouldn't go in mental circles anymore; she would let things flow as she did in the past. She would do whatever she felt like doing at the time. If she got herself into trouble, she would get out of it. If she got hurt, she would recover and if she felt Giovanni should never know about Ash, she would keep the secret. Until Giovanni and everything else around her began to make a shred of sense, she would just go with the flow and follow her instincts. "How about you give me a tour after breakfast?"
xoxox xox xoxox
That same morning in the Viridian Rocket base, Laiki was having a fit. She was out of her goody-goody nurse disguise, as she called it, and once again wearing her own version of the Team Rocket uniform. It consisted of a black shirt, lacking buttons or a zipper, instead folded as a kimono or yukata would be. It had a red R, though it was in the back. The shirt was held closed by a thick white band around her waist, tied into a bow on the back.
She wore short black gloves that reached only up to her wrists, a black mini skirt and white boots. Her hair had bangs falling on her forehead and long green locks framing her face on both sides, trailing down to her mid back. The rest of her hair was blond and only reached down to her shoulders.
She had an attractive figure that made heads turn and had no qualms about using it to her advantage. Something that never seemed to change about Laiki was her love for gossip. "Do you know what I heard?" She threw her arms in the air as Comet entered the Team Rocket medical facilities below the Viridian Gym.
"What did you hear?" Purry, the Meowth, was riding on Comet's back since he was wearing his Team Rocket uniform instead of the ridiculous lime green suit from the previous day. His uniform was standard, consisting of a long sleeved black shirt with a red R on the chest, long black pants and matching white boots and gloves with a thin red line at the edge. He never liked wearing the hat, though his red hair stood out. He was carrying a folded up newspaper.
Comet had known Laiki since he was a child and was used to her antics, regarding her as an older sister. He grew up in Team Rocket, learning from his father that he must always remain loyal no matter what. Raised on those beliefs, he would never betray Team Rocket, though he might consider doing things his own way if he firmly believed that it was for the good of the Team Rocket and especially the boss. Lucky for him, he had never found himself faced with that kind of choice and followed his orders without question so far.
Laiki lowered her voice, as if keeping a secret from the pokemon that lay in various beds of different sizes. They were recovering from the previous day's commotion in the tunnels below the park. "I heard the boss was with a lady yesterday." Laiki eyed the pokemon, though none of them seemed to care about her revelation, they just lay still in their beds, their breathing being their only motion.
White was the predominant color of the medical facilities and Laiki never liked it. She said it would be much more cost effective to get red sheets that didn't need to be replaced so often after being worn out by the strong detergent. White was hard to clean, not that it was her chore to do, but she felt sorry for whoever was on laundry duty dealing with bloody sheets. The tiles, the walls, the sheets, it was all white. The beds and various pieces of furniture had silver metal legs, though the surfaces were still white.
"We already knew that," Comet reminded, "Delia was here, remember?" The day Laiki forgot a piece of information about the life of any celebrity, and the boss counted as a celebrity for her, would be the day the world would surely end. "It was even in the newspaper."
"Lies!" Laiki squeaked, "I'm subscribed to a hundred and eight daily newsletters and they didn't mention anything about it, granted that I'm not done with all of them yet. Are you seriously telling me it's on the newspaper? Who would think to look for news on the newspaper?"
"Who indeed?" Comet sarcastically replied, though he understood that Laiki meant to say that the newspaper only had news she considered to be boring. "How do you get through so many newsletters a day anyway?"
Laiki pointed to the little black headphones resting on her neck united by a thin silver band, "I listen to them while I work. I just get them from my email with my phone and have it read them to me." Laiki looked towards the picture sitting in the corner of her desk framed in simple brown wood. "She was the one who told me about that trick, she loves technology and thinks reading is as outdated as paper."
The desk was cluttered with several gossip magazines, a blueberry granola bar lay on top of the tallest pile in the corner opposite to the picture. The photo showed Laiki and Comet along with another girl with blue hair and a Team Rocket uniform. Her uniform was the male version because she didn't like skirts and found the extra long gloves and boots to be uncomfortable, though she was more of a geek then a tomboy.
Comet almost expected Laiki to tease him and ask if he still liked her. She was older than him, albeit not by much, but Laiki had heard her say she preferred older men. The girl had been Purry's previous trainer, though Comet still thought of her as Purry's true trainer. She had given him the Meowth because she thought Purry would prefer to be the pokemon of a higher ranked Rocket.
Laiki snatched away the newspaper from Comet, "the gym leader's inspirational speech, blah, blah, blah. The artistic splendor of the accurate replica of an ancient Roman coliseum, blah, blah, blah." She scanned through the paper, "Aha! Gym leader Giovanni and mayor Antilles were seen with a mysterious lady who was their guest at the tournament... where's the juicy stuff? It doesn't say anything about them being together."
Comet paused, realizing what Laiki was talking about. He decided not to mention he saw Giovanni and Delia not long ago while playing waiter during breakfast. He was still supposed to be on break, but there was too much going on for him to leave. At least his current tasks were easy, nothing complicated like his usual sneaky nocturnal missions. "I'll need the newspaper back, I have to deliver it." Comet took the newspaper and hastily headed for the door. He was not surprised that Purry jumped off his shoulders. The Meowth was madly in love with the boss' Persian, but would never let him see her, not until she evolved. Until then, she would only see him if she could stay hidden while watching him.
"Are you taking the newspaper to the boss?" Laiki called after him, "be observant!" She condensed a whole world into those two words. It was as if she was expecting Comet to magically obtain the whole story of the previous evening's happenings by just glancing at Giovanni's expression. Comet was only going to leave the paper in Giovanni's office, not hand it to him personally. He knew the boss would not appreciate being interrupted.
xoxox xox xoxox
After breakfast, Delia got a tour, but it was not of the remodeled Team Rocket headquarters. Giovanni instead took her to a mansion west and slightly north of Viridian City. The mansion was situated at the very edge of Kanto, bordering Johto, with Victory Road not too far away. There were so many trees around it, that it remained hidden and mysterious with a slightly dark atmosphere due to the massive trees blocking the sun.
The mansion had marble-like white walls with climbing deep green vines that had matching green leaves. In the daylight it looked like another painting. At night, it probably looked ominous, as if it were haunted. Delia would love to see it. The mansion had a triangular redish-brown roof and glass windows framed in gold.
The path that led to the mansion looked bumpy with its white and gray stones placed close to each other to form the road. In reality, it was only a visual illusion; the road was whole, solid and smooth. The gates, with ten feet tall bars culminating in sharp points, were a glossy black. They surrounded the mansion sitting atop three feet of thick black bricks at the base of the fence.
The large gates opened as Giovanni pressed a button on his tiny black cell phone with the red R. Delia realized it must be programmed to be more than just a cell phone. She felt watched as Giovanni's expensive black car, no doubt equipped with missiles, made it past the gates. The driveway was long with a circle in front of the mansion and enough space for two more cars to drive by on either side.
There was a majestic fountain made of pure white marble in the center of the drive way's circle in front of the mansion. In the middle of the fountain there stood an elaborated sculpture of a winged Rapidash. The flames of the mane and tail were carved in exquisite detail. The wings made of cold hard stone looked as if they would feel as soft feathers to the touch. If the statue wasn't a pure white shiny color and instead painted in the fiery shades of the pokemon, Delia might have thought that the winged Rapidash was real.
She couldn't help it but to remember the Christmas ornament she had received from Giovanni's mother during her secret visit on a cold December years ago. Ash loved that winged Rapidash. He was unaware of where his mother had obtained it. After Christmas ended and the tree and decorations were put away, Ash asked to keep the winged Rapidash in his room. Delia had smiled and given it to him, it was still in Ash's room to the present day.
The sparkling water of the fountain was too blue to be natural; it must have been artificially colored. Delia imagined a little Ash running around the round fountain's edge despite being told not to. He would fall into the bright blue water and emerge soon after. He would splash towards the edge of the fountain, only to turn back and look at the winged Rapidash. Then the little boy would climb on the pokemon statue and dream he had caught a real winged Rapidash. Such things never happened and they never would.
Feeling her eyes water, Delia tried to focus on examining her surroundings to stay occupied. The car where she and Giovanni were, was not the only one in the large drive way. There was also a long black limousine, a red convertible and two sports cars, one silver and one orange. Though she felt as if she, Giovanni and the Persian on her lap were the only ones there, the shy presence of others existed.
There was someone polishing the red convertible and someone else tending to the bushes that lined the base of the mansion with dark red roses. They were not wearing Team Rocket uniforms and they were both very quiet. They blended in with the background, their gazes unfelt, even when they curiously looked at Delia. They didn't know her.
The mansion's large double doors were opened and Giovanni got out of the car. Delia was still staring at the scenery in amazement. She didn't snap out of her bittersweet dream until a deep voice rung out with a polite, "milady?"
Delia noticed then that at some point the butler had exited the mansion. He had opened her car door while she sat there staring at the regal residence. She got out of the car, seeing that Giovanni was waiting for her a mere step ahead. Giovanni placed his arm around her waist leading her inside. She followed silently up the few steps that led to the golden double doors, which the formally dressed butler closed behind them.
Delia tried to keep her imagination quiet, but whenever she saw an article of decoration inside the mansion she pictured a past that never was. Seeing the various pokemon sculptures she couldn't help it but to imagine her little Ash, their little Ash, climbing all over them. Then the imaginary little boy would run towards the line of paintings on the walls. He would point at them and loudly declare that he would catch those pokemon one day. That is if the boy would have had any time to run around while being prepared for his future in Team Rocket. Such thoughts made the imaginary boy disappear as Delia returned to reality.
Delia felt as if she was being escorted to meet the king and queen of a distant land. She didn't know how to behave in front of royalty and the slightest offense would bring forth a war. That was how she felt and it didn't go unnoticed by Giovanni, "you're so tense."
Delia looked at him wondering if there was a trace left of the Giovanni she used to know. She refused to believe that stubborn, unpredictable and wild man was gone. The man who ran around with a gang getting into mischief and causing trouble with somewhat noble side-effects couldn't have fully disappeared. "Can we go on a date today, to wherever I choose?"
Giovanni attributed Delia's tension to a feeling of guilt. The guilt was rooted on that she was working for the enemy, spying on him. Giovanni had no doubts about his theory. Her request was extremely suspicious, but he would pretend he didn't know anything about her secret plans, "of course, wherever you want."
Delia paused and thought about her request again, she wasn't sure where she wanted to go. "Before that, I want to see the rest of your pokemon, I've missed them. I want to help you take care of them like I used to."
Giovanni knew for certain Delia would never hurt innocent pokemon, although he wasn't gullible enough to hand over his newest pokemon to a spy. His pokemon varied over the years, he changed them around whenever he came across a stronger one. Even so, he still kept his pokemon from long ago. He would let her train them. Maybe it would bring her good memories and speed up the process of bringing her to his side.
xoxox xox xoxox
Delia got a tour of the mansion, minus the secret basements. After that, they went outside so Delia would have plenty of space to get reacquainted with the pokemon she had not seen in years. Giovanni watched as Delia showered his pokemon with attention. They were out in the backyard with the mansion casting a shadow on the space behind it.
Golem, Machamp, Rhydon, Cloyster and Kingler were all there. They looked a little on edge at first, growling at Delia and backing away when they caught Giovanni's scolding look. It had been so long since they had received such close attention that they had all but forgotten what it felt like to truly be cared for. The only one that got any attention from Giovanni was Persian, who sat by his side as he observed Delia. Cloyster and Kingler were, ironically, the most reluctant to go near Delia.
"It seems that the bond between trainer and pokemon has faded, but it must still be there," little by little, the pokemon relaxed with Delia's gentle words and affections. "Giovanni, you haven't been giving them the attention they deserve," he should have expected her to say something like that. He didn't reply and she didn't really expect a reply.
His cell phone rang and he answered it uneager, while Delia continued tending to the pokemon, "what is it?"
The call was from Luke, who had been working in Johto, "dude, Giovanni, I like heard Delia was like back, man!"
Giovanni knew Comet would tell his father. The boy was loyal, having been raised in Team Rocket. He was a good agent, but there was no such a thing as the perfect Rocket agent. "Yes," Giovanni kept his reply simple, so as to not call Delia's attention to the conversation.
"Can I like talk to her, like please?" No matter how many years passed, Luke would forever keep the very same style of speech. It was carried over to his writing, much to Giovanni's annoyance when he had to read a report. Since it seemed that Luke was simply incapable of writing in any other way, Giovanni had someone 'translate' and summarize Luke's written rambles into a decent report before attempting to read it.
"Not now," It was not good to give Delia too many reminders of the past. She would have only the ones Giovanni selected. He didn't want her to think of anything unfortunate and reestablish her resolve to go through with her mission for the anti-Rocket group. The group's full details were still a mystery. Ash was a suspect of being a part of it and as a result those who accompanied him.
There were traitors in Team Rocket being internally hunted, which caused the tension to run high in Viridian. The true extent of the group was still unknown. Giovanni needed Delia as his double agent for everything to progress swiftly and smoothly in Team Rocket's favor. He had to be sure of her loyalty before he sent her out on a mission.
"Like later?" Luke was satisfied enough with Giovanni's answer. He wasn't expecting to be allowed to talk to Delia at all; at least not so soon after her mysterious return. "Thanks, man! I like totally appreciate it, you know?"
"Just make sure you finish your work," Giovanni noticed that Delia was watching him from the corner of her eyes while she played with the pokemon. Persian had joined them as well. She spun around laughing along with Machamp, her hands in his, her long brown hair flowing in the breeze. It was like a cheesy scene from a fluffy movie. Thankfully, the pokemon controlled his strength and Delia wasn't sent flying when he let her go. She was left a little dizzy, but amused.
Delia stumbled dizzily towards Giovanni, still in a fit of laughter. "You really need to relax once in a while," she took his little cell phone and pressed the button to turn it off. She placed it in his hand again and he pocketed it, not really expecting any important calls anyway. The anti-Rocket group wouldn't strike so soon, not while they were waiting for Delia's report.
Giovanni took her hands, but instead of spinning around aimlessly, he pulled her towards him and kissed her. He stopped when he heard the mansion's backdoor opening a short while later.
The butler exited the mansion to the backyard and shifted uncomfortably. He was regretful of having stumbled upon the scene and hoped that the boss wasn't too angry. The breeze blew, moving a single auburn hair out of place, the rest perfectly brushed back. His dark violet eyes remained fixed on Giovanni's shoes, even without looking, he knew the Rocket leader was glaring. "Sir there is a call for you from agent Comet. He says it is important."
Comet must have been calling about something truly significant if he was being so insistent, after being unable to reach the deactivated cell phone. Without another word, Giovanni took the wireless phone the butler was holding with a bad feeling building up, "what happened?"
Comet's worried voice came from the receiver, "there was a donation ceremony at the Vermilion City orphanage. It was sponsored by Bane Ackbar, CEO of Ackbar Inc."
The company produced medical supplies of various types and was divided into two branches, for human and pokemon products. They made pain killers, anesthesia, medical lotions and several others things. The company purchased experimentation subjects from Team Rocket. They had been buying from Team Rocket for years and shared a strong business relation. In the public eye Ackbar Inc. was known for its charitable events for both pokemon and humans.
"The ceremony was attacked in the name of Team Rocket; it's all in chaos at Vermilion City. Apparently Rockets just stormed in and started shooting left and right. Boss, this is big." Comet couldn't find the words to elaborate further. Team Rocket had not attacked its own ally, but it was made to look like they did.
Giovanni gripped the phone tightly; he wasn't expecting something like that. It was more extreme than what Han had done years ago. It was worse than the things that happened when little anti-Rocket groups emerged occasionally over the years. Perhaps the elusive Ash was smarter than he was given credit for. Delia wasn't a spy, she was a distraction. She was supposed to make Giovanni think that they would wait to gather more information before attacking. She was there to make him lower his guard thinking he still had time to prepare. He couldn't stand having someone a step ahead of him like that.
Delia would never approve of such a ruthless attack on innocent lives. Giovanni knew she must have been unaware of the anti-Rocket group's plans. Most likely to the extent of her knowledge, she was nothing but an information gatherer. That didn't change the fact that she had served as a distraction that made him think the enemies were biding their time.
"Keep it under control, set the security to level red and start carrying out plan fourteen. I'll lead the operation from Viridian," Giovanni would need to command the mission in continuous communication with the field agents. He had to keep the damage to a minimum, make sure business with Ackbar Inc. was fixed, get rid of the police. He had to find a way to prove that this wasn't Team Rocket's doing or business would be affected.
Giovanni realized what they were trying to do. They wanted to strain Team Rocket's political and business relations and push the police into taking action. What was keeping the authorities at bay was that they feared the casualties that an all out war with Team Rocket would bring. Because of that, they would be fine as long as they operated behind the scenes. If those casualties were a reality either way, they would have no reason to hold back and no choice but to fight. Giovanni had many resources, but he knew they were not infinite and it wouldn't get him any closer to controlling the world if he wasted them.
Taking over the world wasn't the hard part, maintaining control was. Giovanni knew that taking control of a territory by sheer power wouldn't work for too long. He thought it would work years ago, but realized that eventually it would all fall into a constant war that could hardly be called domination.
He would move in slowly. Making the economy of Kanto, Johto and other regions depend on Team Rocket to the point where they would collapse without it was important. He made that plan a reality in Kanto, Johto and the Orange Islands, with progress being steadily made in other regions. The recent event was terrible for business and it affected Team Rocket's underground image as well. What's the use of fearing an attack if the fear doesn't serve as a tool of survival? If the attack is inevitable without a cause, what's the use in trying to prevent it? Immediate action had to be taken.
To be Continued
And so the plot has been set in motion... :D Disclaimer, I don't own Pokemon.