Diamond 52: Give me Pride
Diamond 52: Give me Pride
Laiki rushed down the underground tunnels of the Viridian Rocket headquarters followed by Pixel. "You can't just leave me like this. I'll mess up and there will go my chances of ever cashing in on the better missions!"
"If you mess up, you'll be dead," the grin on Laiki's face never faded. She added when she saw Pixel's stubborn sarcastic look, "I'm not kidding, arm yourself. This is war and the enemy has infiltrated our fortress."
They arrived at an underground garage where several normal looking cars were stored, they were anything but normal. Most of them were black, the classic color of spy movie cars, the kind that was loaded with missiles. Five Rocket grunts followed after the two girls. Three of them got into one of the cars. They waited for Laiki, their squad leader, to take the driver's seat.
"What about the squad you said you would help me put together," Pixel eyed the other two grunts standing next to her with distrust, "we need more allies."
The garage was dimly lit, with gray walls and floors. There was a ramp going up to the ceiling, where a secret door opened leading to the Viridian Forest. "You'll have to make due. I know you have some Rocket fire in you, now is your time to show it." As Laiki opened the door on the ceiling two people and a pokemon fell in. The man and woman were wearing Team Rocket uniforms. The pokemon was a Meowth. "Jessie? James?"
"You know them?" Pixel observed them with suspicion, "why were you up there?"
"We're here to bring important information!" Jessie announced. She honestly didn't know what possessed her to rush to Viridian City after having given up on contacting Giovanni by phone. She told herself the only reason she was there to help the one who had fired them, was because James wouldn't stop whining about it.
"That's right, we know all about Neo Rocket. We're ready to help take them down." James knew that deep down Jessie couldn't stand the idea of Team Rocket falling apart any more than he could. Their Rocket pride pushed them to do their part to save Team Rocket as soon as possible. Besides, Meowth kept worrying about the boss and they had to shut him up somehow.
"Jessie and James... Those two are not Rockets anymore, but I don't think they would ever be traitors. They have real Rocket pride, even if they're incompetent," Laiki explained.
"Hey!" Jessie and James called out in unison; they didn't go all the way from Saffron to Viridian to be criticized.
"Pixel, here's the rest of your squad. The boss will probably have my head for this, but as an agent of a higher rank I'm ordering you to work with these two," Laiki decided and grimacing she prepared to leave, "why does the juicy information arrive when I have to go?" She started up the car and headed up the ramp towards the forest calling out, "Jessie, James, take care of the rookie for me."
"I've been a Rocket for some time; I'm not a rookie anymore!" Pixel argued, but Laiki was already gone. The term rookie still somehow fit despite the time she had spent in Team Rocket. She still getting adjusted and finding her place, so she came off as a rookie. The car sped through the secret forest paths, off to take over Rock On in Pewter City.
"What about me?" Meowth pouted, feeling ignored.
"Alright you two," Pixel noticed Meowth's frown deepening, "three," she corrected, "I can access the secret equipment rooms, but you guys need to give me some information first. What is that Neo Rocket you mentioned? Either way, whoever the traitors are, I'm pretty sure they know they're being hunted, so they'll be prepared."
Jessie grinned, taking command of the mission, "just follow my lead and we'll clean out all the traitors in no time." She had always wanted to command an important mission like this.
xoxox xox xoxox
On the road towards Cerulean City, the atmosphere in Giovanni's car was tense. He had more questions than ever about Ash and his obvious importance to Delia. She was upset and it was all because of his incorrect theory. He shouldn't have made the assumption that she was a spy; it only made things more complicated. He decided to take a moment to think and choose his words carefully. Then he saw a neon-cyan colored car ahead. He knew it was Akira's car and he knew she could cause trouble for Team Rocket if he let her go. He followed the car while he tried to come up with something to say to Delia.
Akira noticed she was being followed. Hiding would not be easy in the light traffic. She recognized the custom made black car as being one of Giovanni's cars and sped up, zigzagging to get past the cars ahead.
Giovanni followed her. He knew he had been seen, but he couldn't let her get away. She would make things more difficult for Team Rocket.
Delia looked up at the road ahead. Giovanni had obviously started chasing someone; it had to be that neon-cyan car. She held on to Persian tightly, "who is that?"
"Akira," Giovanni focused on the road and on not crashing with the other cars.
Akira had to get away; she needed to meet her informant at Saffron City without being followed. She recklessly switched lanes, passing in front of the opposing flow of traffic. A car came to a screeching halt, with the one behind it, crashing into it.
Giovanni drove after her, passing in front of the accident. He would have to make up a story about his car having been stolen to avoid his reputation as the gym leader being stained.
Akira left the main road, turning towards the mountains north-east of Pewter City. She drove as fast as she could without losing control of the car in the narrow mountain paths. To her surprise, Giovanni accelerated in pursuit.
Akira tried to hurry and took a sharp turn on the mountain's side. Her car skittered to the side, unable to stay on the dirt road. It slid down the mountain, though luckily, it didn't overturn. The neon-cyan car came to a stop at the bottom of the mountain, crashing into some rocks near a small stream. Akira battled to get out of the car, pushing the airbag aside and stumbling out. She fell with a sharp pain on her left leg. She was bleeding black blood.
Giovanni stopped on top of the mountain side road. "I can't let her get away. We're also being followed." He noticed the seemingly normal bronze car following them from a distance when the pursuit began. It took a different route at the base of the mountain. The digital display of the speedometer changed to Akira's image below. There was a red circle with a cross targeting her. The words 'lock on' flashed red on the screen.
"You're not going to shoot a missile at her, are you?" Delia asked in alarm. She was ready to stop Giovanni if those were his intentions.
"Relax, it's just a net. I need to capture her alive and interrogate her," Giovanni assured. He pressed the bottom to fire the net. A cannon extended from the car's front, shooting the net at Akira below.
Akira screamed and fell to the ground again when the net landed on her. Despite the pain she continued struggling to get away. With a small pocket knife, she tried to cut the net open as fast as she could. She could see Giovanni was already on his way down the cliff followed by Delia and Persian.
"You should have just waited in the car," Giovanni argued as he tried to hurry before Akira escaped. He lost his footing and fell down the cliff. He got up, a little scratched and bruised, but otherwise alright.
"No way, I'm helping you catch her and taking care of her injuries when we get her back in the car," Delia hurried down the cliff. She stumbled down and fell into Giovanni, but he was able to catch her.
A sudden explosion resonated from the top of the mountain. From the angle at the top, the ones that triggered the explosion didn't see that Giovanni and Delia were out of the car. The explosion had to be the work of their pursuers in the bronze car.
A large boulder was set lose from the mountain and it fell on top of Giovanni's car, the damage was extensive. The weapons system short circuited and several missiles where shot on their own. One of the missiles fell between Akira and Giovanni. Giovanni, Delia and Persian took cover behind some rocks and Akira hurried to get away. She had freed herself from the net right on time.
The aftershock of the missile pushed Akira into the little stream ahead. It was too small and gentle to drown in, but the water was tinted black. The color dissolved as it was carried by the stream. She was in bad shape, but Akira wasn't going to give up. She struggled to get away despite her injuries, leaving a trail of black blood in her path.
The black car was consumed by fire when the rest of its weapons exploded within it. Giovanni, Delia and Persian got away from the falling rocks, debris and sparks on the mountain side. They dashed towards Akira, but were stopped by a sudden gunshot that just barely missed Giovanni. He and Delia, along with Persian, took cover behind the rock formations again. "We're surrounded," Giovanni realized.
Two men and a woman approached from different directions, all of them armed. Akira lay still on the ground until a man and woman were close to her. Then she suddenly took out a hidden gun and opened fire, killing them both at point blank.
"Giovanni, she shot them!" Delia cried.
"I know," what Giovanni didn't understand was why Akira didn't use her gun sooner. She had a good chance to shoot him when he was going down the cliff. In truth, Akira didn't want Team Rocket to fall apart without its leader. She only wanted revenge on the false Rockets who killed Mirta.
Only one man remained, he moved fast towards Akira with full intentions of killing her. It all happened in a split second; the man aimed his gun at Akira and she did not react fast enough. Giovanni shot a well aimed bullet at the man's hand, making him drop the gun in pain. Akira took the opportunity to shoot the man in the head before collapsing of blood loss.
Amidst the chaos, the sound of a helicopter was heard. "The police!" It was the worse timing possible. Giovanni couldn't let himself be seen like this. He grabbed Delia's hand, running towards a cave on the mountain side hastily. They dashed through the dark tunnels with Persian following them.
"Giovanni, those people who got shot might still be alive. Akira is injured but alive. We have to do something," Delia struggled to get free, but Giovanni wouldn't let her go.
"They're dead; no one can survive a bullet at point blank. I don't want to leave Akira in the hands of the police, but I have no choice. Besides, what can we do? It's for a different reason than you, but I didn't want them dead either." He needed information and someone to blame. "The police will help them. If there's anything that can be done, they can do it a lot better than we could."
Delia stopped struggling, instead running along with Giovanni, gripping his hand tightly. "I wish this hadn't happen." They approached the end of the tunnel in the area north west of Cerulean City. They exited the tunnel cautiously, there didn't seem to be anyone out there. The old burnt ruins of a structure were seen near by. Delia recognized it, "it's our old hide out. There was a terrible massacre on that day when the Tempest Gang burned everything. So many pokemon passed away that day, today is a catastrophe too."
Giovanni had not set foot in his old hideout in many years. The ruins were all but forgotten when Team Rocket took over the Viridian gym. He searched around the floor until he found a secret door, leading to a small basement. "We should stay here for a little while. It's not safe to go out there yet." The secret underground room was nothing special, but it would keep them hidden.
Delia took one last look at the darkening skies before going down to the secret room with Giovanni and Persian. She felt as if the darkness would consume her. The day was ending and the sun was sadly setting. Darkness invaded the atmosphere in more ways than one.
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, at the Vermilion City hospital, Lando was arguing on the phone. "I don't care if it's late!" He yelled into his cell phone, "I don't care about what the board of executives says either. I want all business to be halted immediately!" The pain killers had finally left his system sufficiently so that his anger and frustration surfaced full force. He growled in agitation and ended the call. "Daisy, darling, I must go to Ackbar Inc. headquarters right now. I need to take care of a few things."
"But it's the evening and we've had such a rough day," Daisy argued with worry.
Lando looked terribly ashamed, as if he hid a dark secret. "I don't understand what's happening, but I must get to the bottom of this. I need to know why he betrayed us," Lando got up from his bed, despite Daisy's efforts to convince him to rest at least until the next day.
"What are you talking about?" Daisy insisted on knowing. Violet and Lily watched the argument uncomfortable and concerned.
"Daisy, my sweet," Lando simply couldn't look into her eyes. "I'm sorry, but Ackbar Inc. is not an honest company. I didn't want you or your family to know about this, but I can't hide it anymore. When I was very young I was ill and desperately needed surgery. It was a life or death situation. A few years before that, a pokemon epidemic spread through the land and the discovery of the antidote marked its end. Large companies rushed to buy the limited supply of antidote from the mafia. They had it before it was officially released. Waiting for legal approval would have meant the death of many pokemon, so no one ever pressed charges."
Lando continued, "my father's company sold supplies for pokemon only at the time. He had been struggling to stay in the market and didn't have the money to pay for the antidote. Even if reselling it would surely bring a benefit, he couldn't afford the merchandise in the first place. Because of that, his company went down and never recovered. Later, when my life was in danger, father made a deal with the mafia. That same man who was selling the antidote before, agreed to let my father borrow the money he needed to pay for my surgery. In exchange Ackbar Inc. would follow his orders from that day forward."
"My father agreed," Lando revealed, "he didn't have a choice. Things were not as bad as he expected. Business was expanded and many medical discoveries were made. Both pokemon and humans were helped. In the end, that deal had a positive effect for Ackbar Inc. and for all of Kanto. So many lives were saved because of the products we developed with the help of their scientists," he left out the part about pokemon experimentation as part of the development of their products. His father had tried to paint the picture as positively as he could when he son became old enough to know.
"I didn't know what that man from the mafia hoped to accomplish beyond monetary benefits. It was as if he were doing a good deed by taking control and guiding medical science towards great new discoveries. I understand now, Ackbar Inc. was pushed to the top so that he could control Kanto's medical supplies. I've had enough of this," Lando's pain and anger was reflected in his eyes, "regardless of what happened in the past, I can't forgive this. Team Rocket will not continue being benefited by Ackbar Inc., even if it drives the company to bankruptcy," and even if Kanto's health system collapses.
"I must know why the leader of Team Rocket betrayed the Ackbar family. He was the one with whom my father made that deal. We did what he asked, business had been going well. He had no reason to attack us!" Lando firmly declared, "the Ackbar clan might be powerless in comparison to the Roketto clan, but I can't ignore this. My beloved Daisy, that is why we can't get married. Since the time my father died, I became the new head of a mafia group. Until today, we operated serving the most powerful mafia group there is. Now we're about to go to war with them. I'm sorry; I have to avenge my father. I must, even if it means going against the man who saved my life years ago for his own benefit."
"Lando..." Daisy gasped in surprised, while Violet and Lily were shocked to silence. "It doesn't matter! I don't care if you're a gangster. I don't even care if you're like a low rank gangster, I still love you."
xoxox xox xoxox
In the ruins of the old Team Rocket hideout, Giovanni, Delia and Persian sat on the floor. The little underground room was in total darkness. Giovanni's cell phone wasn't working at all anymore. Silence invaded the room for a few long moments. Finally, Giovanni quietly requested, "tell me about Ash."
Delia had wanted to hear something like that from him for a long time, but the situation was different now. "Before that I want you to tell me the whole truth about what's going on. I will answer all your questions soon. Please be honest with me. Regardless of what happened, in the end, you have the right to know. I've kept the secret long enough."
"Alright, I'll tell you," he knew he didn't have to tell her to keep it a secret. This whole mess would have been less complicated if he hadn't doubted her in the first place. "For the most part, things have been going well for Team Rocket. Every now and then there would be a little trouble, but it was nothing big. Then I found out about some traitors that were keeping strong pokemon and several other resources to themselves."
Delia wanted to tell him that pokemon were not just resources but stopped herself from interrupting.
Giovanni continued, "I suspected they were planning something big. At first I thought the traitors were actually infiltrators from an outside organization that held a grudge against Team Rocket. Later, another theory emerged that this was all an inside job. I thought they were traitors within Team Rocket trying to take over. Although it was still evident they had connections on the outside."
"You showed up when all of this was happening, when everything was full of uncertainty," Giovanni explained. "You told me you had something to say and kept hinting without telling me. I started to find it suspicious. At first I didn't know what to think of your sudden visit. Then everything appeared to fall into place. I thought you were sent to spy on me by the enemy because of our past. I thought you were unsure about what you should do. That you were debating if you should reveal the truth or not."
Delia felt a fresh stab of pain but didn't say anything. She knew it; she was being used. She didn't care anymore. She couldn't walk away from this. Besides, somehow she still saw a glimmer of hope, though she couldn't quite understand why.
Giovanni's expression remained unseen in the darkness of the little underground room. Delia honestly couldn't imagine it. "Because of how you spoke of Ash and his presence when there was an explosion underground, I thought I was right. I thought he was the one who sent you to spy on me. While we were at the mansion I got an emergency call and began to think that your true purpose was to serve as a distraction to make me lower my guard. That's why I locked you up and left to try to get things under control. I found out that Ash had defended me when he was interviewed by a reporter. All those accusations surfaced as the enemy's way to pressure the police into taking action. I thought it was a trick," Giovanni finished, "Do you know about Vermilion? That's how everything became public and complicated."
"Yes, I saw what happened on the news while I was at the mansion," Delia confirmed. She asked about something else that bothered her. "Why is Akira's blood black instead of red? Has she been experimented on? I thought that after what happened to Aayla there would be no more human experiments."
"I can honestly tell you I have no idea about Akira," Giovanni was also puzzled about that strange detail, but he didn't disregard the possibility of a mutation. He knew there had been human experimentation in the past, but Akira wasn't supposed to be one the subjects. "If she was experimented on, it was done without my knowledge."
Delia found that she could believe him. Giovanni was obviously confused about it too. Yet she knew there was more to it.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Pokemon. Next: Diamond 53: Give me Truth; it's the long awaited resolution to (one of) the cliffhanger(s)!