Diamond 49: Give me Intelligence
Diamond 49: Give me Intelligence
Ash drove through the nearly empty streets of Vermilion City, bordering the coast. "Pika!" Pikachu pointed at an elegant structure that looked like a miniature palace painted in shades of blue. It had an ocean theme to it with seashells embedded into the walls, the paint created the illusion of an underwater castle. A large sign held by a mermaid statue read 'Squisito' in golden letters.
The mermaid had a blue-green fish tail with a yellow star on the hip. She was wearing a pink seashell bra and a pearl necklace, earrings and hair clips. Her face was partially covered by her red hair. She reminded Ash of Misty.
"Good job Pikachu, it looks like this is the place, I should have guessed it would be fancy," Ash's little indigo car looked out of place among the few luxurious cars in the nearly empty parking lot. He exited the car with Pikachu on his shoulders and entered the restaurant through the front door.
There was a large tank on the right with a few small water pokemon swimming inside, mostly Goldeen, Seaking and Magikarp. The left side was lined with several smaller tanks holding Krabby, Kingler, Shellder and Cloyster. On the wall facing towards the street there were various paintings depicting water pokemon. The opposite wall was made of glass, showing a clear view of the beach.
"Sir," a man dressed in a formal suit with his royal blue hair impeccably brushed back, addressed Ash. The man stood behind a polished brown wood podium at the entrance of the restaurant. On the podium there was a list on white paper lined with gold, a gold plated pen and a little golden bell. "This is a formal restaurant; you can't come in dressed like that. As for your Pikachu, please make sure he at least wears a bow tie."
"Um... I'm here to pick up a delivery?" Ash finally noticed the critical look directed at him. "It's for Lando Ackbar."
Upon mentioning the name, the man's face changed from disapproving to forcefully cheerful, "ah yes, you must be Mr. Ash Ketchum, correct?" The man picked up the little bell and rung it. A lavender haired waitress, dressed formally, rushed over, "Mr. Ash Ketchum is here to pick up the delivery Mr. Lando Ackbar ordered. Please inform the chef."
"Yes, right away!" The slightly nervous waitress hurried off to the kitchen, entering a small door between two tanks containing a Shellder and a Krabby.
Before the waitress with long lavender hair returned, several people in similar attires recalled the pokemon in the tanks into pokeballs and let other pokemon into the tanks. They were also water types, but some were from different regions. They headed out to the beach and let the pokemon that had previously been in the tanks out to play there, as if to keep the atmosphere interesting by occasionally switching the pokemon in the tanks.
The waitress finally returned, carrying four bags. The bags were made of heat enclosing fabric in four different shades of blue with golden lining. The name Squisito was written in golden letters on each of them. "Here is the food, please let Mr. Ackbar know that we hope he enjoys it!"
"I will, thanks," Ash took the bags and soon after, the waitress returned to her job. It looked like Lando had told them to put it on his tab. The waitress seemed a little less nervous when Ash finally started to leave.
Ash noticed the waitress whispering something to the man at the podium, but didn't hear them clearly. He thought he heard the phrases "the other business" and "even the champion," spoken with disapproval and a hint of fear. Ash didn't know what that was about, but assumed it was unimportant and disregarded it as if he had not heard.
Ash returned to his car with the bags, placing them on the passenger seat next to Pikachu, "hold on to them."
Pikachu nodded, "pika." He hoped that Lando remembered to order something for him.
Ash tried to start his car but it didn't work. "Gotta change that battery," he remembered, "Pikachu, it looks like the battery needs another charge." Pikachu followed Ash out of the car. Ash opened it exposing the engine and hoped his battery wouldn't be fried completely after another of Pikachu's charges, "be gentle."
"Pikachu!" Pikachu aimed a relatively small amount of electricity at the battery, and kept it going for a few seconds.
"Alright, let's try again," Ash closed the lid on top of the engine and went back inside the car. Thankfully, the car started immediately after the battery was charged, "good, it worked!" He knew he couldn't keep on doing that forever, eventually, the battery would give out. He still kept procrastinating to change it though. The battery was in a more or less sufficiently working condition for the time being.
xoxox xox xoxox
Ash made it back to the Vermilion City hospital uneventfully and took the food up to Lando's room. A nurse had tried to stop him, but her sentence was cut off by another, who pointed out he was with Mr. Ackbar's friends. As soon as she heard, the first nurse quickly excused herself.
Ash moved the bag's handles from his hand to forearm and reached for the door, opening it without knocking, he didn't think too much of the action. The room had changed since Ash was last there and for a moment he thought he was in the wrong place. Yet the Waterflower sisters were all there crowded around Lando, so that had to be the right room. They were listening to his endless speech, which sounded a little more coherent with each passing minute.
Ash set the bags quietly on the white table in a corner of the room, next to a glass vase holding a dozen red roses. The room was filled with various gifts, flowers, pokemon plush toys, fruit baskets, cards, letters and wrapped boxes. They must have been held back by security and just recently brought up to the room after passing inspection. "I'm back," Ash announced.
"Ash!" Daisy squealed at the top of her lungs, with similar reactions following from Violet and Lily, "Ash!" "Ash!"
The three women crowded around Ash, pulling him into a suffocating group hug that threatened to choke him to death. Fortunately, Misty interfered, "give him some breathing room!"
When Daisy, Violet and Lily finally let him go, Ash took a deep breath. He began to recover the normal color of his face, instead of being slightly blue from the lack of oxygen. "Wow, you must really be hungry."
"Oh you silly baby brother," Daisy pinched his cheek, catching Ash off guard.
"It's not about the food," Violet took Ash's hat off and ruffled his already messy hair. She passed the hat to Lily.
"It's about Misty and you," Lily put Ash's hat back on his head, pulling it down over his face.
Ash adjusted his hat and blinked in confusion, "Misty and me? But you already knew about us."
While her sisters giggled, Misty clarified, "Lily noticed the ring and brought it to everyone's attention. They wouldn't stop asking about it so I had to tell them. Sorry I couldn't get them to wait until you came back."
"It's okay," Ash smiled, "Does this mean you'll tease me as your little brother from now on?" The three oldest Waterflower sisters nodded in unison. "I guess I can live with that," Ash laughed.
"Splendid!" Lando suddenly cheered, "then we shall raise our swords to combat the evil Team Rocket as brothers in arms!"
Daisy sighed, her previous gloomy mood surfacing, "just when I thought the pain killers were like clearing out."
"Yeah!" Ash couldn't forgive Team Rocket this time.
"Don't encourage crazy things!" Daisy elbowed Ash. Hopefully, when the pain killers dissolved from his system, Lando would be a little more rational and let the police handle things.
xoxox xox xoxox
The tension was heavy in the Viridian Rocket base. Laiki was feeling terribly frustrated, more so than ever before. She was not only a nurse, but also an information gatherer and Team Rocket's enemies had been hiding under her nose for far too long. She let out an exasperated breath as she sat on her desk at the Viridian gym's secret underground structure. The pokemon in the medical facility watched her. They were unable to turn their eyes away from the human that irradiated tension and stress.
She looked over the list of the people who had been identified as traitors. The boss was very displeased with the situation and its unpredictability. The list held several names that Laiki would have never guessed would be traitors. They were effective and hard working, they were not recruited after the disbandment of rival gangs and they had lost nothing to Team Rocket. Every aspect of their past life was free of any reason to hold a grudge. It didn't make any sense, why would seemingly loyal Rockets suddenly turn into traitors?
The clues were leading Laiki in circles. She thought that it was an outside job with a few infiltrators involved, but it was looking more like an inside job by the second. The involvement of an outside group in the situation was very likely, but they were not the only ones. If that was the case, who would want to rebel and why?
Those were not the only worries in Laiki's mind. Akira had disappeared shortly after the attack at Vermilion City went public. Laiki feared that she would do something crazy on her own. She hoped that Akira was aware that those who attacked were not real Rockets, but rather traitors acting without Giovanni's consent.
Laiki hoped that Akira didn't try to get vengeance on her own and make things worse. Being a famous singer, Akira was well known, as was her link to Team Rocket. It served to enhance her rebellious image and help her sell more songs. If she took action, then the link between the attack and the real Team Rocket, albeit a lie, would be undeniable. Akira was known to be a Rocket and labeling someone so famous as a traitor wouldn't be enough to convince the police or the underworld.
They might assume Team Rocket really was senselessly causing trouble. They would theorize that a violent direct take over was on its way, instead of the slow and steady take over that was the truth. With Akira's added attention from the media, Team Rocket's business associates would surely be driven to the edge. They would start seriously doubting the Rockets' trust, putting a strain on business.
Worse yet, they might assume Giovanni simply couldn't control Team Rocket. Laiki wondered if that would make the boss throw the slow and steady take over plan out the window and blow up all of Kanto in a fit of rage. "Arg!" She felt like banging her head on her desk. She knew about a portion of Akira's secret past, though some details were lost in time.
She knew that Akira had grown up in that orphanage at Vermilion City until the age of fourteen. For reasons unknown to Laiki, she was not adopted, despite being a healthy, cute little girl, with a melodious voice. Maybe someone prevented her adoption for some reason. Akira was later adopted by a man who became her agent. Evidently, he only wanted to make money off her talent. She ultimately ran away and joined Team Rocket, though she still continued her music career.
Mirta, the woman who was in charge of the orphanage, was killed during the attack. Naturally, Akira would be thirsty for revenge. Mirta had taken care of her since she was a baby. At least the reason why the attack took place in that specific event made sense. They must have gathered information about Akira and decided to use her fame against Team Rocket to get more media coverage. Plus Ackbar Inc. was an important business partner. It was like catching two Pidgey, with one pokeball, though that was only a saying. The enemy must be expecting Akira to do something. They might keep pushing her if she didn't; she had to be found.
Laiki eyed her little cell phone warily, she didn't know how safe it was, but this was urgent. She couldn't contact the boss and assumed he must have gone out to face the restless media once again. She instead called Comet and left a short message, "bring back Akira," and hung up quickly. There was a possibility that Comet might not receive the message at all, but Laiki had no other way to contact him.
Many questions still remained. Laiki theorized that maybe someone within Team Rocket wanted to overthrow the boss, but she didn't know who. It tortured her that she couldn't figure it out. She felt wrong not knowing what was going on around her. She was used to knowing even what was not her business.
She refreshed the screen of her laptop computer and looked at the Kanto News' official website. There was something new there. It was a report concerning comments made by Ash Ketchum, the Indigo League champion of two years ago. Wait, Ketchum? That was Delia's lastname. Someone as nosy as Laiki would care to learn such a detail. In contrast, Comet would settle for hearing exciting stories were everyone only had a first name and no history beyond what was contained in the tale.
She took note of the many comments posted on the page before she even viewed the video. She had many theories swimming in her head. There was something odd about the comments on the page that Laiki's critical eyes noticed right away. Too many people were demanding a press conference to be given by the gym leader. The commenter names were different, but they came from the same place. Thanks to Team Rocket's custom browser, codenamed Ninetails, she could easily track the IP address of each comment. Even if she wasn't a computer expert, it only took a few clicks. The IP address of each comment was the same and Laiki knew she was on to something. She quickly played the video.
Ash was defending Giovanni. He was not from Team Rocket, but the traitors did have allies outside. Plus this matched the strategy Laiki had theorized about, using famous people to give the situation more attention. Many people were looking forward to seeing Ash and Ritchie battle and that was exactly what happened recently. Their fame had increased lately. "A trap," Laiki concluded. Someone was trying to take out the boss and establish control over Team Rocket. It was someone ruthless enough to cause a big commotion. By that line of thought they would want to get rid of Giovanni in public and a press conference would be the perfect chance. Ash's comments should motivate people to ease up on the accusations against the Viridian gym leader, but only a few comments were in Giovanni's favor. Their IP was different.
Laiki knew that the boss suspected Ash. He told her about it while giving her a quick disapproving scolding for being unable to locate the traitors before the chaos exploded. This proved that the boss was correct; Ash was with the enemy. Delia, a relative of Ash, though Laiki didn't know what their relation was, had to be a spy. She had to tell the boss right away, or at least, as soon as the press released him. She had a feeling that he would be able to see something else in those clues that eluded her.
xoxox xox xoxox
At Giovanni's mansion, Pixel sat in the guest room with Delia. The Rocket was researching the recent events on her little computer with Delia watching the screen. She came across the video of Ash defending Giovanni and noticed that Delia paled. "You know him? I mean other than as a famous pokemon trainer."
Delia remained silent for a moment before replying, "I don't know him personally."
Pixel didn't believe her and her doubts increased when she further researched Ash Ketchum. She found that he was from Pallet Town. There was a world of information online, but people wouldn't find anything among the spam unless they knew how to search. "You do know him; he's from Pallet Town too." Pixel had never been to Pallet Town, she only knew where it was located on a map. She didn't know it was the kind of little town where everyone knew everyone, yet she still found Delia's denial suspicious.
Delia shook her head and remained silent. Pixel took on a thoughtful expression. She felt as if she stumbled upon something important. Before she could say anything else, the door to the guest room was opened. A woman with a tray of food entered, "Pixel? I thought you left." She placed the tray of food on the desk.
"I didn't want to open the door without permission," Pixel admitted, she did have a keycard hidden. Delia looked towards the door, but found two men guarding it. She knew she wouldn't be able to get past them so she didn't even try.
"Well," the cook continued, she was short and had pale orange hair, with a few white strands. She looked very similar to her sister, who worked as a Rocket scout. "You can leave now, unless you want to stay and keep our guest company." Delia frowned; she wasn't a guest, she was being held there against her will.
"I think I'll give her some space," Pixel headed for the door with her little computer on hand. She slipped out past the two men. Delia knew the girl's curiosity was awakened and that she would research Ash.
xoxox xox xoxox
Pixel sat in one of the large luxurious living rooms of Giovanni's mansion. The theme of this particular room was gold. Several paintings hung on the walls in golden frames, filled with similar shades. A Sandshrew looked towards the sky, with glowing skin. The sunlight was too strong and golden to be realistic. Yet the painting had a certain charm to it. Somehow it didn't look blindingly bright. Despite the background consisting of golden sand, the pokemon still stood out.
Another painting showed a group of Pikachu surrounded by an autumn scenery. They were playing in a pile of golden leaves, their golden fur perfectly glossy. In a similar autumn environment, another painting depicted a group of Kakuna and Beedrill. The most stunning painting in the room was definitely Zapdos. It was much larger than the others, taking up practically an entire wall. The legendary pokemon of lightning had his wings spread far left and right. Electricity surrounded him as if it would fly out of the painting.
The couch was covered in a detailed golden fabric. It was shiny, but somehow not too bright. It all contrasted perfectly with the dark neutral colors of the walls and carpet. Pixel focused on her research and came across a picture of Ash. He was in some kind of formal event sponsored by Ackbar Inc. He held a Pikachu wearing a tuxedo top. Next to Ash there was a red haired woman in a dress, her arm linked with his. Pixel looked further into it. Many connections lay hidden just below the surface. They were waiting to be discovered if only someone would search for them.
She found out that the red haired woman was Misty Waterflower, of the Cerulean City gym. That information didn't hold any leads to uncovering whatever mystery was out there. She researched Delia, but found little about her. Delia had been careful, claiming to be camera shy after Ash became better known. She wasn't the only Ketchum in Kanto, so the champion didn't need to automatically be linked to her unless there were other elements that led to that connection.
She paused and looked at the picture one more time. There was a certain familiarity about the photo. Pixel felt as if she had seen Ash before, but not in the Indigo League or the recent tournament. Maybe he reminded her of someone, but she didn't know who. She knew she wasn't supposed to be calling anyone, but this could be important so she took the risk and called Laiki.
"Pixel? What is it? Did something happen?" Laiki asked hurriedly.
"No, sorry to call like this, is the line safe?" Pixel inquired unsure.
"I don't know; you know a lot more about these things than me!" Laiki was still missing vital pieces to the ever growing puzzle. She wanted to find them as soon as possible. She needed to tell Giovanni what she came up with, but he was still busy with the press.
"Just do an image search for Ash Ackbar," Pixel left it at that, Laiki would surely find that same picture.
"Got it, I have to go," Laiki was unaware that Delia was at Giovanni's mansion with Pixel. If she knew, she would have urgently asked her friend to get information from her.
Regardless, getting information from Delia was exactly what Pixel intended to do. If she just asked a few key questions, Delia might tell her something. She got the feeling Delia was not a bad person. Maybe if Pixel could talk her into believing it was for the best, she would reveal the truth.
xoxox xox xoxox
At the Viridian Rocket base, Laiki did an image search for Ash Ackbar. That was not the lastname of the champion, so Laiki wondered what this was about. When the picture of Ackbar Inc.'s formal party appeared on the screen, Laiki knew she found what Pixel wanted her to find. She remembered the picture Binks had shown her long ago, the copy of the same picture Luke had shown Comet.
She imagined the two images overlapping, the first semi-transparent over the second. When Ash didn't have his hat and had his hair so perfectly brushed back, he looked like a younger Giovanni. Was it a coincidence or something more? Even if the line might not be safe, Laiki had to discuss this further.
xoxox xox xoxox
Delia didn't waste any time as soon as she was left alone in the guest room. She threw the pillows on the floor and pulled the sheets off the large bed, immediately getting to work on tying them together. She tugged strongly on the ends to make sure they would support her and tied them to the handle of the window. She threw her improvised rope down, after checking to make sure there was no one watching. Thankfully, the people who were outside earlier had finished their tasks and were gone.
Reminding herself not to look down, Delia exited the room through the window. She held on to the sheets with one hand and to the windowsill with the other. The glass opened towards the inside and the sheets tied to the window's handle would close it with the weight. It was inevitable, Delia couldn't think of another place to safely tie the sheets. Of course, she wanted to escape as noiselessly as possible. Holding on to the windowsill she pulled the glass closed with the sheet. After giving it one final tug for reassurance, she started to climb down.
She went as fast as she could, hoping no one went out or looked out one of the windows near her path. Finally, Delia reached the end of the sheets and hopped down safely to the ground. She didn't even take a moment to catch her breath before she started to run as fast as she could towards the tall gates. With some difficulty, she managed to climb over them, though she ripped her dress a little and had a painful fall. Fortunately, nothing was sprained or broken. She made it to the other side of the fence without any major injuries. It was ironic and she mentally scolded herself for it: her destination was the Viridian Gym.
xoxox xox xoxox
Pixel returned to the guest room where Delia was being held captive. She had asked the butler to stand guard at the door just in case. She opened the door and immediately noticed something was very wrong. The pillows were on the floor and the sheets were missing. "Oh no!" She rushed to the window, the only possible escape route. She pulled it open and found the sheets tied together, leading down from the window, "she's gone!"
"What?" The butler rushed into the room, "I can't believe this, the boss is going to be so angry at us!"
"You mean at you!" Pixel argued, "it was the mansion's staff's job to keep her here, not mine!"
"Weren't you the one checking to make sure the alarms were working properly?" The butler countered.
"And they are," Pixel retorted, "the alarms go off when someone breaks in, not when someone breaks out!" She pushed past him out of the room, "I have no time for this. Even if it's not my fault, I'm going to find her."
Pixel ran out of the mansion and spotted something shiny on the ground below the escape route. She picked it up and realized it was a diamond earring. "Delia must have dropped this." She threw out a pokeball with a lightning bolt sticker on it.
"Pikachu," a female Pikachu emerged from the red beam of the pokeball. She had a blue bow on her left ear and long fur atop her head.
"Peachy, track down the owner of this earring!" Pixel held out the earring for Peachy to get its scent. She wasn't really a pokemon expert since she didn't grow up among them.
"Pika!" After sniffing the earring, Peachy took a deep breath, examining the scents in the air. She dashed around the mansion towards a window on its side.
"Why would Delia go this way?" Pixel wondered as she followed her pokemon.
Peachy went inside through the open window leading to the kitchen. The cook saw her come in. "Hello there Peachy, have you come for a snack?"
"Peachy!" Pixel called after her Pikachu, "this is no time to be a glutton, the boss' guest slash prisoner has escaped!"
The cook gasped, "she's gone?" As the cook stared at Pixel in shock, Peachy dashed towards a pie that was set to cool on the counter. She picked up a near by fork and began to devour it. She ate a lot and did it fast, but somehow she was neat.
"Yes and we're going to find her, Peachy return!" Pixel called back her Pikachu, leaving a half eaten pie where she was. Perhaps not all pokemon were experts on tracking scents, though Peachy was certainly good at finding food.
Pixel ran towards the front gates of the mansion, which were still closed. A shred of fabric was caught on one of the points that the fence's bars culminated in. It was the same color as Delia's dress. She hurried to unlock the gates and ran out. Maybe Delia had gone back to Pallet Town. Pixel's cell phone rang and she answered it while running, briefly glancing at the caller ID. "Sorry Laiki, I can't talk now, I'm chasing someone!"
"Oh, sorry, sorry, focus on that!" Laiki quickly hung up. Sometimes the truth is staring at you, but you don't see it until it shouts at your face.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Pokemon.