Diamond 48: Give me Allies
Diamond 48: Give me Allies
Lily, Misty, Ash and Pikachu sat at the Cerulean City gym's living room, with the last three still lost in confusion. Lily took a deep breath and tried to organize her thoughts. "You like know about Vermilion, right?"
"Wrong," Misty was as puzzled as ever. If anything happened in Vermilion City she was completely unaware of it. "Wait," she paused, her expression thoughtful. Misty remembered Violet mentioning Viridian City and it was the Viridian mayor who was on TV, "Vermilion or Viridian?" She inquired wondering if her sister had gotten the names mixed up. Either way, Misty still didn't know what could be happening in Viridian or Vermilion that was alarming, other than the destroyed stadium.
"Vermilion, the attack was in Vermilion, but they like got Viridian involved too," Lily dramatized with worry.
Misty frowned, her alarm growing, "what attack? Where is Daisy? What's going on?"
Though he was usually the most impatient of the two, Ash placed his hand on Misty's shoulder to calm her. The announcement of their engagement was far from their minds at the time. "Start from the beginning," he encouraged Lily to tell them the full story.
Lily nodded and began her explanation, her expression grave, "you know Daisy's fiance, Lando Ackbar, is the son of Bane Ackbar of Ackbar Inc."
Misty nodded; Daisy's wedding date was near. Misty's dress was already prepared for her to step into her role as a bridesmaid. She still had to drag Ash shopping for an appropriate tuxedo, he kept procrastinating. She knew Daisy intended to go all out in her wedding.
Lily continued with her face unchanged, "earlier today, Lando's father was like being honored for a donation his company was making to an orphanage in Vermilion City. Lando was there watching and so was Daisy. She called and said she wasn't injured but Lando and Bane were; she said she would call again later. I like tried to call her again but she has her phone off. At least no other attacks were reported on the news," realizing her audience was still confused, Lily elaborated, "Team Rocket attacked during the donation ceremony and like a lot of people were injured, some were even like... killed."
"Killed?" Misty gasped, "that's what the news said? That people were killed?" She paled in absolute shock. Team Rocket had never done anything so extreme before, at least not publicly.
"That's impossible!" It was quite possible and Ash knew it, but he refused to believe it. "Team Rocket are thieves, not murderers. I would believe it if you said they took prisoners. Injuring people and kidnapping for ransom is something I can picture them doing, but killing?"
"Daisy told me about it," Lily snapped, "and it was on the news!"
Misty sat in silent shock while Ash let the revelation sink in with frustration. "What about Viridian City? What about the gym leader?" Ash remembered that Violet mentioned him. His mother was still at Viridian with Giovanni as far as Ash knew.
"They say that Giovanni, the Viridian gym leader and Rune Antilles, mayor of Viridian City, secretly support Team Rocket. Rune is Kenobi's father so Violet was worried about them. The press is like all over them all of a sudden, it makes no sense!" Lily scowled in frustration.
Outside of the public eye, it was known that Giovanni was with Team Rocket and it was also known that a direct confrontation was a bad idea. The pressure of the press was retaliation for the Vermilion attack. They hoped that Team Rocket would go back to keeping a low profile and larger casualties could be avoided.
"Of course it doesn't!" Ash got defensive, while Misty was lost in thought. Usually a son would be a little more hesitant to accept his mother dating someone who was not his father. However, in Ash's case he didn't feel that Giovanni was replacing anyone because his father had never been around. He went straight to the phase of acceptance and even welcomed the gym leader's presence.
"Ash," Misty's voice was barely above a whisper, "do you remember what Brock said? The gym leader did look a lot like-"
"No way!" Ash interrupted, "that's just a coincidence, they're accusing him falsely. There's no way he's evil, my mother knew him, she's known him since before I was born. Besides, he's the gym leader. You heard him at the tournament; you saw how much people admired him. He tried to be so generous to me when he offered to battle at the gym and.... and Persian! Persian is to Giovanni as Pikachu is to me. I can't doubt him any more than I can doubt myself."
Misty took a deep breath and let it out slowly, she knew there was no arguing with Ash when he got defensive like that. "His resemblance to that man might have gotten him into trouble... or maybe it's something else entirely. It could be political pressure. Maybe Antilles' opposing candidate is trying to use the Vermilion City crisis to his advantage. The gym leader is caught in the middle because he's the mayor's friend."
Ash's frown deepened, "that's a dirty trick!" He couldn't believe it, using a tragic event that happened clear across the region to stain the reputation of the Viridian City mayor and his friends. He was upset beyond words and he could imagine his mother was upset as well. "I'm calling mom," Ash announced, taking his cell phone from his pocket, but he was unable to reach Delia. "It says the unit is deactivated, maybe the battery ran out."
Lily got up suddenly, "I'm going to find Daisy."
"You can't just rush into Vermilion City," Misty stopped her, jumping to her feet and blocking her sister's path.
"I can't leave her!" Lily insisted, her voice rising.
"I'll go find her, you should wait here," Misty marched out with a steady pace, followed by Ash.
"I'm going too, Team Rocket has really crossed the line this time," Ash insisted.
"I'm going alone if you like don't want me with you," Lily was determined to find her older sister. Daisy had taken care of her more than her parents. Seeing her determination, Ash and Misty had to agree to take Lily with them.
xoxox xox xoxox
At Giovanni's mansion, Delia grew tired of flipping through the channels. The TV returned to its normal programming and the few scattered news bulletins that came on were only repetitions of what she already knew. She reminded herself that the recent catastrophe was not truly the work of Team Rocket. What happened was not ordered by Giovanni, but the thought of his retaliation worried her.
"How long will it take to stop this false Rocket group?" Delia didn't expect to receive an informative answer as she turned off the TV.
"I don't know," the Rocket girl who was trapped with her in the room replied. If she had not been distracted by her curiosity looking out the window at the lady that was with the boss, she would have left before she ended up trapped with said lady. She would have been on break and gone straight to Cerulean City to a video game convention. She wouldn't have been caught in the following series of events.
"What's your name?" Delia asked, feeling odd that she had been trapped with that girl for so long without knowing as much as her name.
"Huh?" The girl was taken by surprise. She paused, as if replaying the question in her mind since it was so unexpected. "Millennia, but my friends call me Pixel," it was a nickname she received due to her love of video games and technology.
"My name is Delia, let's be friends, so I'll call you Pixel," Delia was trapped and there was nothing she could do about it, that reality had sunk in.
"I can't let you out," Pixel reminded as she took a seat next to Delia on the large bed.
"I know," Delia paused and a heavy silence hung in the air for a few seconds, she didn't like it. Maybe if she talked to someone, the only person available, the seconds wouldn't drag on so slowly.
Ash was probably at Cerulean City celebrating his engagement to Misty with her sisters. Delia knew Misty would want to tell them about it in person right away. The visit to Cerulean City would probably be similar to past visits. Ash would have a story to tell about how Daisy, Violet and Lily dragged him and Misty on a shopping spree and drove him insane making him try on clothes he would never wear. They would get a lot of clothes for themselves and make Ash carry the bags. At the end of the day Misty would apologize for her family's antics and give Ash a kiss for having survived so bravely.
"Why did you join Team Rocket?" Delia finally broke the silence once more.
Pixel was quiet, blending into the background like Leah used to do. Her eyes held a stubbornness that had not been present on Leah's submissive gaze. "I like it, it's the best job I could have."
"Team Rocket is a criminal organization," Delia pointed out.
"Team Rocket is strong; the police won't come after us. Besides, I haven't gotten myself into trouble, unless you count this," Pixel tried to stay as positive as she could in the situation.
"Will you tell me the story?" Delia desperately needed to keep her mind busy or she would continuously think of the worse.
"If you really want to hear it... I used to live at Cinnabar Island, but I never fit in. I was the indoor geek in a town of beach loving people. Things improved when I started to attend college in Fuchsia City. I started working with Team Rocket a couple of days after I graduated. I didn't like living at home, dad was overprotective and mother was... totally crazy. She was panicky all the time because of an experience she had back when I was a year old. My parents both worked at a local hotel and I stayed at the hotel's childcare."
Pixel continued, "There was an act of terrorism on a nearby volcano, which caused a fire at the hotel. Dad went to make sure all the guests knew they had to leave immediately while mother went to get me. The babysitter had already taken the children to safety, but mother was apparently too panicked to realize that. She inhaled too much smoke and passed out. Dad got her out of there and she recovered, physically at least. She got on my nerves badly and I didn't want to go back to Cinnabar Island. They were looking for..." hackers, "office personnel to work for Team Rocket. Since I was in the computer field, I was offered a job. I wasn't at the top of my class, but I had pretty good grades and was at least in the top ten."
A rush of memories returned to Delia, "was that volcano called Princess by any chance?"
"Yeah," Pixel confirmed, "I guess it must have been all over the news back then."
"Was there no other way?" Delia asked softly. It was all too ironic. Han's act of terrorist against Team Rocket affected Pixel's parents. They overwhelmed her with exaggerated concerns, which caused her to become fed up with their dramatic emotions, thus growing a little detached from her own. Finally, she escaped from the suffocating household by joining Team Rocket. They offered her a place to live and she wanted to be independent as soon as possible. She signed up and had been living at the Viridian headquarters since then.
"How did you end up working at the mansion?" Delia encouraged the conversation to continue despite her own mixed emotions about the situation.
"I... failed at my old job," Pixel decided to leave it at that. As a student she was good, she took advanced tests and summer classes so she graduated early. When she got to Team Rocket, she was at the bottom. There were many people who were more skilled than her. It made her realize how little she could learn from the outside world. She did a lot of training, both physical and academic. She wasn't used to exercising so it wasn't easy. She got to class exhausted from the exercise and her brain was hardly functional in that state.
She managed to hold her own for a while thanks to Prism, her Porygon. Team Rocket gave Porygon to all the members of the software department. She wanted to finish the classes quickly so she tried to take the final exams early. She was good at tests as a student, so she thought she would somehow pass. The tests were actually hacking exercises in a controlled environment. They weren't really hacking, just practicing within the training Rocket server. She had to pass the test without Prism, whom she relied on so far, and lacked the skills to do so.
"Then you ended up here?" Delia guessed.
"Not right away," She had lost her confidence. In her current state Pixel was a super geek in comparison to a normal person, but even with all her knowledge she was at the bottom in comparison to the experienced tech Rockets. "I was drained from the busy schedule." She left her old life to have more freedom, but didn't have any time to herself. "I requested to be transferred..." to the hardware department, thinking that would be easier. The transfer was denied and she instead ended up as a supplier. The Porygon she had borrowed was taken away as soon as she left the software department. Basically, she was a delivery girl who took supplies to the field agents. Another Rocket supplier, Mondo, gave her some training.
"How did that job go?" Delia was aware that Pixel was only scratching the surface of the story, not wanting to reveal too much.
"I thought it was alright, but I guess it wasn't." She was late too many times due to being unused to traveling. Because of that, she was demoted to agent by commission. She didn't have a stable salary; she was paid depending on what pokemon she brought in. "I never had any pokemon of my own, so capturing pokemon was not possible, or rather, too difficult."
"You mean stealing?" There was a distinct difference between catching pokemon and stealing them. It was something Delia couldn't help it but to point out.
"I didn't even try that, I was worried I would get caught. Capturing wild pokemon is allowed, Team Rocket isn't just about stealing." Pixel left it at that, not wanting to mention too much about the business side of Team Rocket.
"I know," the thought brought bitter memories to Delia, "there are also scientists conducting experiments." Pixel didn't know the true meaning behind Delia's words.
After her demotion, Pixel had hit rock bottom. One night she was broke and didn't want to go back to headquarters. She knew they would ask her to pay for her room. They couldn't take it out of her paycheck because she hadn't earned anything that month. The room was cheap, but Pixel's account was at zero. She wandered around the streets of Pewter City and someone tried to rob her.
The only things she had were her cell phone and computer, which she was allowed to keep after leaving the software department. The laptop was a glossy black with a red R on top. It was about four inches tall, six inches wide and only an inch thick. It was a lucky seven model. It had a seven gigahertz central processing unit, seven gigabytes of random access memory, a hard drive with seven terabytes of space, seven USB ports and a rocket port.
Pixel knew she couldn't allow some strange man to steal her equipment. She prepared for a fight she knew she couldn't win. Out of nowhere, a Meowth came and gave that masked man quite a beating. Pixel wanted to thank her, but the Meowth was unfriendly and Pixel ended up running away. Looking back on it, it was stupid to walk into an alley in Pewter City. She was used to the safety of Viridian City. Despite being surrounded by a thick forest and having plenty of dark alleys, only Rockets were allowed to challenge the law. There were severe punishments for non-Rockets that broke the law within the city's borders or in the forest. It was ironically a relatively safe place to live as long as Team Rocket remained unprovoked.
Pixel made it to the Viridian park late into the night. She didn't want to go to the Pokemon Center since she was wearing her Rocket uniform, but she couldn't get any clothes from her room at headquarters. She sat under a tree and thought about sleeping there, then she saw that Meowth again. She followed Pixel and she wanted to pick a fight, which Pixel talked her out of.
"I met a strong Meowth one night and tried to talk to her. Of course she only answered with 'meowth' and I didn't understand her, but I think she understood me. I wasn't experienced with pokemon, so I wasn't sure what to expect," Pixel admitted. "We somehow reached an understanding and she ended up as my pokemon, even if she preferred to stay out of her pokeball most of the time. She would battle for me for our mutual benefit. I would give her food shelter and find opponents for her to fight and I caught pokemon with her help."
Pixel had returned to HQ that night after all. She borrowed some money from her friend Laiki to get by while she put her plan into action. She set out for Saffron City the next day. After getting to Saffron City everything fell into place. There was a group there that hosted secret pokemon battles where people made bets. They were not affiliated with Team Rocket, but they were not enemies. The battles were harsh, not something the official league would approve of. Purry, the Meowth, was eager to participate.
"There's this wild Rattata that keeps getting away from me. I named him Speedy because he's so quick to run away. That was how I first ended up working at the mansion. A friend," Laiki, "told me that the mansion staff needed a trainer for something and I came. When I got to the mansion I was told that my mission was to defeat a Rattata that snuck in and they couldn't get rid of. Peachy ended up scaring him off. After that I ended up coming here to do different jobs now and then," Pixel explained.
"I didn't come here just to change a lightbulb," the blue haired girl continued, "that was something I was randomly asked to do. I was here for something else," to go over the security system and make sure the electronic locks and alarms were in working order, just in case. "So, who exactly are you and what is your position with the boss?" Pixel asked curiously.
"I'm no one famous, I have a little restaurant in Pallet Town, I'm usually always there." Delia paused unsure of how to phrase the next part, "I've known Giovanni for a long time... we used to date years ago."
"Really? So you're his ex who is or was getting back together with him?" Pixel knew Laiki would love to hear about something like that, but the Rocket gossip expert probably already knew.
xoxox xox xoxox
Ash, Misty and Lily arrived at Vermilion City. The streets were flooded with police officers keeping a close eye on the people coming and going through the streets, even if not many people were out at the time. Lily had been trying over and over to call Daisy during the entire drive, but her cell phone remained off. She decided to check on Violet, whom she thought had gone to Viridian City.
Violet answered her cell phone after just a few seconds, "Lily?"
"I'm like so glad you answered, I haven't been able to talk to Daisy yet," Lily spoke with worry. "How are things in Viridian City?"
"I don't know," Violet quietly admitted, "I like wanted to call sooner, don't be mad at me. I'm not in Viridian City; I'm in the Vermilion City hospital with Daisy. Mr. Ackbar passed away from his injuries; he was like shot during the donation ceremony. He was alive when he got to the hospital but he didn't make it..." Violet started crying again, Bane Ackbar's son Lando, who was Daisy's fiance, had taken his father's death hard. He was thirsty for justice. He was upset, Daisy was upset and when Violet arrived, she cried with them more than she could comfort them.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Lily screamed into her little pink cell phone with tears forming in her eyes, which alarmed Misty.
"What is it? What happened? What's wrong?" Misty urged, tempted to snatch away the cell phone if her sister didn't answer quickly.
"Violet is in the Vermilion City hospital, she like came to find Daisy instead of going to Viridian City!" Lily informed, with a mix of anger at being excluded, relief to know Daisy and Violet were alright and sadness for the loss. Every hint of color was drained from Misty's face, imagining that Violet was injured and Daisy was missing or hurt as well. "Violet is alright," Lily clarified, seeing Misty's face, "Daisy is like okay too, but Mr. Ackbar, Lando's father, passed away."
As Misty and Ash took everything in, Lily listened to Violet on the phone, "Lando got hurt, but he's not in danger. He like took a bullet on the shoulder protecting Daisy, but the doctors say he should be able to fully recover in time." Violet's explanation was hurried and mixed with sobs.
"We're here," Ash hastily announced as he found a parking space at the Vermilion City hospital. The building stood tall, painted plain white, with many glass windows on each floor. Ash was on edge with everything that was going on, the recent update which revealed a death, only made him feel worse.
"Violet, we're like going into the hospital right now," Lily told her sister on the phone, "yes, we're here, what room are you in?" There was a short pause, "okay," then Lily hung up. "Violet says she'll come get us, they're like not allowing anyone in Lando's room without his permission, he doesn't want to deal with the press right now."
They quietly hurried across the hospital's large waiting room. The tiles and walls were white, matching the rows of chairs. "Excuse me, you can't bring pokemon in here, this is a human hospital, put it in a pokeball."
Pikachu protested and glared at the nurse. Before Ash could say anything, Violet called out to them, "Lily, Misty, Ash!"
"Violet!" Lily dashed towards her sister and hugged her, as if they haven't seen each other in years. Violet returned the emotion.
"You are friends of the Ackbar family?" The nurse inquired, not really needing an answer. "I'm sorry, please go on."
The group hurried to the elevator and Violet led Lily, Misty and Ash to Lando's room. In his room, Lando was going on endlessly about how much he hated Team Rocket. He was light headed from the pain killers and his speech was blurry.
"Daisy!" Lily shared a similar emotional reunion with her oldest sister as she had with Violet, hugging her. The three women stood together hugging each other until Misty joined in as well.
"What happened?" Misty took note of the white band around Daisy's head. There was a little white pillow attached to it on the back.
Daisy touched the little pillow that made contact with the back of her head, "it's like an ice-pack." Her eyes were red from crying and her voice was still shaky. "When Lando jumped in front of me and pushed me down I like hit my head on the floor, but if he hadn't done that..." Daisy became silent; she had never been so close in her life to having a bullet go through her head.
Misty watched as Lando lay in bed rambling about what he would do to get back at Team Rocket. "Thank you for protecting Daisy," Misty felt her own tears start to come out and felt Ash put his arm around her shoulders and pull her close. Pikachu, who was on his back, patted Misty's head gently.
Lando's half-conscious speech continued until he finally declared, "I can't get vengeance on an empty stomach, but I'm supposed to stay here for a while longer. Oh father, rest in peace I will avenge you! Where's my cell phone, I'm calling that restaurant we like and ordering something." His violet eyes remained unfocused and his pale platinum hair was a bit messy.
"They deliver?" Daisy finally let go of Violet and Lily, she kept her arms around her sisters' shoulders even after their group hug had ended.
"They do not, but I'll have someone pick up the food," Lando resolved. "That," he pointed at the clear bag beside the bed, feeding nutrients into his veins, "is not food," his speech was slurred due to the leftover anesthesia from when the bullet was removed from his shoulder and the pain killers in his system. He was still surprisingly talkative, even if most of his speech consisted of repetition and gibberish. His drunken tone was a big contrast to his normally polite and educated clear speech.
"Maybe you should ask the doctors first," Misty suggested.
"What are you saying? If we leave it up to the doctors they'll like starve my poor darling!" Daisy cried, still in a highly emotional state. "This man saved my life today and he will get to eat whatever he wants," she looked at Ash, "and you will bring it."
"Me?" Ash paused and decided not to protest, "alright, just tell me where to go."
Misty sighed hopelessly, it's not like food could do much harm anyway. Lando was already on the phone with his favorite restaurant, telling them to have his order ready. "I thank you for volunteering," he had overheard that Ash would be the delivery boy, "the restaurant is called Squisito, it's on the east of the city, near the coast, you can't miss it. When Team Rocket is destroyed, I'm taking everyone out to dinner there. Let's all eat together here for now, what should I order for you?" He made several suggestions in a different language, none of which Ash understood.
"Whichever tastes the best," Ash replied unsure.
"Great choice, I am having that as well!" Lando laughed for no reason other than his pain killer high and spoke on the phone again in that foreign language. He paused to tell Ash, "you should be on your way; they will have things ready when you get there."
"Right," Ash nodded awkwardly and glanced at Misty before exiting the immaculate white room, heading for the elevator.
xoxox xox xoxox
After going down ten floors and across the large waiting room, Ash exited the Vermilion hospital. He was followed by a reporter and her cameraman. They were in the waiting room hoping to have a word with Lando as soon as the heir to Ackbar Inc. tried to leave. Though they insisted, the hospital staff wouldn't let them visit his room.
"Wait! You're Ash aren't you? The young reporter, Allana, had platinum hair and golden eyes like her father, though her facial features were identical to her mother, Ameda. "A good news reporter has to stay informed. Since it looks like Mr. Ackbar isn't coming out, the Viridian mayor and gym leader's alleged support of Team Rocket is just as much news as anything. Will you comment? I mean, you did win the tournament, but you didn't battle the gym leader, is there a reason for that?"
Normally, Allana wasn't so well informed, but the Viridian tournament had been set to be recorded and the rights to broadcast it had been purchased by the station where she and her parents worked. The arrangements were made before the tournament even took place. Allana was participating in the final edit of the program, narrating the events of the tournament and providing comments to go with the images. She still hadn't done that, but she received a basic summary of how things went and saw a few video clips.
Ash looked at the reporter suspiciously, "what do you mean by that?" He pouted and snatched away the microphone. Allana excitedly signaled for the man with the camera to start filming. Ash looked at the camera and took a deep breath, "everyone, I Ash Ketchum, Indigo League Champion, hereby assure that the Viridian City gym leader, Giovanni, is not with Team Rocket. Stop throwing false accusations! Oh and don't pick on the mayor either." Ash handed the microphone back to the reporter and went on his way, "I have food to deliver, so I have to go now."
Allana didn't follow Ash, his declaration was plenty of material to work with, "thanks!" Grinning from ear to ear, she took her little golden cell phone from the pocket of her loud magenta suit. "Daddy, I have news!" She squealed into the phone.
Her father, the producer for the station's news programs encouraged her to continue, "what is it sweetie? Did you interview the young Mr. Ackbar?"
"No, he's still up in his hospital room and won't come out. I spoke to Ash Ketchum, he won the Indigo League championship two years ago and won against last year's champion at the Viridian City tournament," Allana's voice continued rising in pitch as she went on, "he says people should stop accusing the gym leader and the mayor!"
The news wasn't particularly shocking or controversial; a lot of people still had faith in the gym leader. Nonetheless Giovanni's alleged involvement with Team Rocket was becoming big news and if it was proven to be true, the drama would extend to Ash thanks to his statement. If that happened, that report could be gold. "Let's prepare the report for the airwaves immediately!" The producer decided.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Pokemon. Pixel's father had a brief appearance in the beginning of Diamond 27. Mondo is from the Team Rocket radio drama.