Diamond 59: Give me Devotion
Diamond 59: Give me Devotion
After Comet left the Saffron city hall, Akira arrived. She had fallen asleep on the way and taken some time to rest. She didn't mean to, but no one wanted to disturb her. She was a fast healer and her leg had recovered enough for her to walk easily. Running would still hurt, but she didn't expect to need to run. She sent her fans away to get her a few things she claimed to want. A strawberry sundae, purple nail polish, a bottle of perfume of a certain brand, some new clothes from specific stores. It was all just to get rid of them. She needed to investigate on her own.
When the Vermilion attack occurred, the mysterious Saffron City mayor contacted her to assure her it was done by false Rockets. Akira didn't know if this unknown woman was trying to stop her from taking revenge on Team Rocket or aiding her in taking revenge on the real culprits.
Akira had not gone to meet her initially, even if the mayor had requested it. Instead she tried to go on with her plans to get revenge. She wondered if she should have gone to Saffron City from the start. She wondered if this woman had known Mirta and if she knew the secret Akira so badly craved to know. What was she? Why was she different?
As a child, Akira, then called Secura, had once heard Mirta talking to someone else. She closed her eyes and picture herself as a little girl walking through the cold empty halls of the orphanage one rainy night when she couldn't sleep. She saw light coming from Mirta's small office where she kept records and paper work for the orphanage. The door was mostly closed, parted from the frame a mere few inches. "Secura is the grim reaper; we can't let her curse run free," Mirta voiced.
"I know, I haven't told anyone about her," a second female voice replied. "I know I can entrust her to you. History can't repeat itself. I have big plans; I'll obtain what he couldn't. I have someone to help me get it. This will most likely be my last visit in a long time."
"You don't come often as it is," Mirta reminded. "I know I can't talk you out of doing what you want, just be careful."
Secura was frozen in the hallway as she listened. The grim reaper? That was only a myth, she was young, but she didn't believe in such things. What could be so terrible that could be compared to death? Was she dying? Did she have a horrible illness? She didn't feel sick. She didn't dare look into the office; she never knew who Mirta spoke to that night. The little girl retreated silently into her room. She told herself she had misheard. She never dared to ask for the truth. She wanted to know, but at the same time she feared to know. The memories of that night haunted her until eventually the need to know overcame the fear, but it was too late.
Taking a deep breath, Akira made her way to the Saffron mayor's office. No one tried to stop her, as if she was expected. She opened the door and saw a world of red and shadows.
"Sit, child," there was a lady sitting behind a desk with a Ninetales at her side. The woman was covered in shadows, her face hidden. Her hands were folded on the desk, fingers entwined, nails crimson.
Akira sat down across the desk. She couldn't hold her questions in any longer. "Who are you?" Her voice was desperate. "Who am I?"
"Who you are is up to you to decide," the lady spoke calmly. "As for what you are..." She paused observing Akira's intense gaze. "You are a traitor."
"What?" Akira gasped. "Is that why you called me, to stop me from causing trouble to Team Rocket?"
"You were in the news, you're quite a troublesome one indeed," the lady chuckled. "I'm afraid I'll have to imprison you indefinitely."
"No, I won't let you!" Akira stood up and reached for the two pokeballs on her belt. "You don't know; you don't know anything! You didn't know Mirta! You can't give me any answers!" She released the two pokemon from their pokeballs. Jigglypuff and Loudred appeared from the balls' red beams.
"Two against one? That's fine by me," The lady chuckled darkly. "Nien, flame thrower!"
Jigglypuff dove out of the way and hid under the desk. Loudred was left to fight on his own. "Hyper voice!" Akira commanded.
The lady glared, but refused to acknowledge her discomfort beyond that. Ninetales howled in annoyance. "Shut him up Nien, fire blast!"
The blast of fire made the difference in power between the two pokemon obvious. Loudred was knocked out and thrown back at Akira. She fell on the carpet and called back her unconscious pokemon off her. "Don't just hide there Jigglypuff, do something!"
Jigglypuff crawled out from under the desk and hopped on top of it, "Jiggly!" She picked up a red marker from the desk and held it like a microphone, "Jigglypuff-"
"No! Don't sing, fight!" Akira screamed in frustration. She wasn't a real pokemon trainer and didn't know how to use the song to her advantage.
Angered by the interruption, Jigglypuff pouted. Her body was filled with air and she grew slightly larger. She let out the air in a huff, with an annoyed, "puff!"
"The show's over, little girl," the mysterious lady grinned victoriously, "Nien, tackle!" She pointed towards Akira. The Ninetales jumped on her and pinned her to the floor.
Akira didn't stop struggling, "let me go!" Nien growled threateningly and bit her shoulder. Akira screamed in pain, with tears rolling down her cheeks. She was crying more so out of frustration than physical pain.
The lady pressed a button on a small intercom device on her desk, "I have a prisoner that needs to be escorted to her cell."
In a matter of seconds, two men in dark red tuxedoes entered the office to take Akira away. They made sure to take away her pokeballs as well. "Her pokemon, Madame," one of the men held out the pokeballs. One contained Loudred and the other was empty.
"Not interested, you two can battle to see who will keep that Loudred later," she dismissed the Loudred she viewed as weak.
"Thank you, Madame," the two men chorused while they held Akira tightly. She kicked and screamed but could not break free from their iron grip.
Nien sat proudly beside her trainer. She watched as they took the human away. She shared the mocking pride that her trainer displayed.
The two men dragged the complaining girl out and closed the office door. Madame Boss was aware that Akira didn't recognize her as Giovanni's mother. It didn't matter if she did or didn't. Madame looked back at the Jigglypuff on the desk. "It didn't look like you wanted to fight."
"Puff, puff!" Jigglypuff waived the marker around then held it like a microphone. "Jiggly!"
"You want to sing?" Madame laughed. "So that's why you became that girl's pokemon, because she was a singer. I have no use for a pokemon that isn't good at fighting. My business is in battle, not musical performances. Let yourself out little one." On a whim, she decided to spare the Jigglypuff as a reward for being amusing.
"Puff!" Angered that her song wasn't appreciated, Jigglypuff stomped away. She left the office and city hall without looking back. Such an ungrateful audience wasn't worth singing for anyway. She kept the red marker; it may come in handy later.
xoxox xox xoxox
The tension was heavy at the Cerulean gym. Misty was very worried about her sisters. "Let's call the Viridian mayor and let him know that Violet is on her way. She might need help," Delia suggested.
"Alright, the number is on the contact list," Misty scrolled through the numbers recorded in the video phone until she found it. "It's ringing..."
A picture of the Viridian mayor with a bright green leafy background appeared on the screen. "You have reached Rune Antilles, the mayor of Viridian City. I hope to count with your vote for the next elections! I am hard at work making Viridian City a better place and cannot reach the phone right now. Please leave a short message after the beep and I'll get back to you as soon as possible."
"Hi, this is Misty, Violet's sister. I'm not sure if you already know, Violet is on her way to Viridian City. She might be having some trouble on the road," Misty didn't know how to explain things without making her sister sound bad. It could be, and probably would be, interpreted in a negative way if she said Violet was being chased by the police.
Delia placed her hand on Misty's shoulder in a silent offering to take care of the message. Her instinct told her that Rune had to be keeping track of any incoming communications given the situation. "Rune, this is Delia. I was with you and Giovanni watching the tournament at the Viridian Stadium, remember?" Delia's sweet voice shifted to a very commanding, dangerous tone, "pick up the phone right now!"
Ash and Misty jumped at the sudden change in her voice. They attributed it to stress. Their attention focused on the screen again when the picture changed to a live video. Rune was in his office where shades of green were everywhere. The wallpaper was adorned with leaves. The wooden furniture was of a peculiar design with little branches and plastic leaves decorating it. Each piece simulated a very odd kind of fictional tree that happened to be shaped like furniture. "Yes, ma'am!" The Viridian mayor squeaked in the same tone he used for Giovanni when he was told to shut up.
"How did you know he would pick up?" Ash wondered in amazement.
"Intuition," Delia replied with an innocent smile. "Besides, if he didn't pick up, he would call us back immediately after hearing that message. We had to let him know it was very urgent."
"My apologies," Rune sighed, "it's just that Violet said she didn't want to get her sisters involved. When I saw the call came from the Cerulean gym..." Mayor Antilles trailed into silence in his usual submissive nature. He wasn't supposed to say that.
"Violet is there? She made it safely?" Misty was quick to inquire urgently.
"Oh yes," the mayor looked very stressed. "I'm afraid I cannot converse for long. There is much to be done in preparation to find my son. A friend has already sent someone to help." He looked meaningfully at Delia. Giovanni must already be aware that Kenobi was missing and sent someone to find him. "I deeply apologize, I must go. I have managed to talk Violet into waiting here. She had a bit of a run in with the police over her speed- Oh no, I'm sorry, please forget I ever mentioned it. I assure you her record is perfectly clean. I saw to it myself, I am the mayor after all," he sounded a little proud that he could at least do something. The legality of it was very questionable, but no one would dare to question it.
Misty breathed in relief, "thank you. Please keep Violet safe." The use and abuse of political pressure was a topic she chose not to address.
"Of course!" Rune exclaimed, "you don't need to worry about anything. I will protect her as my own daughter. After all, perhaps someday she will be."
After their talk with the mayor, Ash and Misty could at least be reassured about Violet's safety. Delia still had her worries, Violet was very close to the heart of Team Rocket. She didn't think Violet knew about the involvement of the Viridian mayor with Team Rocket. It made her wondered for how long it could be kept a secret. Violet was dating the mayor's son, so the truth might be revealed to her eventually.
"At least Violet is alright, but there's still no word from Lily and Daisy. Things are so complicated right now," Misty would have never guessed her family would get mixed up in such complex and dangerous situations.
"Maybe we should check the news, they might be saying something," Ash suggested. He turned on the TV and changed the channels looking for a news program. He didn't find anything playing at the time though.
Growing impatient, Misty thought of something, "we should try the Kanto News website. Let me go get my laptop." Misty went to get the device and returned, sitting on the couch. Delia and Ash were sitting left and right of Misty, watching the screen. The wallpaper showed a picture of Ash and Misty on a picnic. Ignoring the posted comments and advertisements, Misty clicked on the latest video featured on the site's main page.
The news anchor, Ameda, narrated while different images were shown on the screen. "To everyone's shock this morning, all of the facilities owned by Ackbar Inc. were closed. Neither employees nor clients are being allowed in." A video of confused and worried people gathered in front of closed gates was shown. "The young Mr. Ackbar recorded a short message and sent it to our station. Let's watch..."
The image on the screen changed to Lando. The background showed an aquarium he had at his mansion. He sat on a wooden chair, carved in detail as if the material could be melted and shaped. It had sand colored cushions to sit on and on the backrest. "As I'm sure many of you know, my father was tragically murdered recently. I will not allow this injustice to go unpunished. Until these matters are resolved, Ackbar Inc. will cease all operations. Until then, I must ask for my employees and clients' patience."
When Lando's message ended, the image returned to the news studio. Ameda continued, "Mr. Ackbar has not replied to our continued requests for an interview. Ackbar Inc. is the number one producer for human and pokemon medical supplies in Kanto. The future of the hospitals and Pokemon Centers in Kanto remains uncertain. Ackbar Inc. possesses exclusive right to distribute several vital human and pokemon medical products in Kanto. Our neighboring region of Johto has decided to respect the condition and refused to sell supplies in Kanto. The other regions have had similar reactions."
"This is bad," Misty's worry grew, "what's going to happen when the hospitals and Pokemon Centers run out of supplies?" She couldn't believe her sister's fiance would go so far to pressure for revenge. "The lives of many will be put in danger if something isn't done soon! What do Tempest or Team Rocket care if Kanto collapses? How could Daisy be okay with this?"
Delia sighed sadly, "she loves him," she voiced softly. "She sees what he's doing, but from his point of view. Sometimes, when something is done for the sake of your loved one, it's easy to forget the effect it may have on the world."
Misty grew silent and tried to put herself in her sister's shoes. If someone hurt Delia and Ash wanted justice, would she let him pursue it by any means? Would she stand by him if he hurt others to uncover the culprit? Perhaps she too would be blinded by sorrow anger and frustration. "I think I understand."
"How could you understand?" Ash didn't quite comprehend how Lando and Daisy could ignore the consequences of paralyzing the medical supply industry.
"Ash, if someone," Misty paused as she felt a cold chill run down her spine, "if someone hurt me or your mom. You would want to bring them to justice, right?"
"Of course I would! That's what I've been thinking all along. Tempest needs to be taught a lesson!" Ash jumped to his feet from the living room couch. "We should be out there hunting down Tempest. They attacked mom and Giovanni. They tried to steal from the Pokemon Center. They're the ones that started all of this when they attacked Vermilion!"
"Ash, that's not what I-" Misty tried to stop him, but Ash was determined. She didn't mean for him to react like that.
"You can't just barge in!" Delia insisted. "Tempest is dangerous, you could be killed! What matters right now is that we talk Lando into resuming Ackbar Inc.'s normal operations and not picking a fight with Team Rocket."
"Alright, I understand," Ash clenched his fists in frustration. It was clear that he was not okay with accepting the inaction. He wanted to take control of the situation.
"Let's call Lily again," Misty could feel the tension around Ash building up. She hoped that her sister had at least made some progress. She hoped that Lando was getting ready to give a new message at that very moment. She hoped for the safety of all those she cared for. The video phone showed a message indicating the unit was deactivated. "Lily has her phone off. I'll try calling Daisy." Misty gave it some time, but the ringing was endless and unanswered. "Daisy must have left her phone somewhere. Let's try Lando's number," the tension and uncertainty build up every time the phone rang.
"Ackbar residence," a woman with a marked accent answered the phone. She sounded as if that was not her first language. The device was set to voice only.
"Hi, it's Misty, Daisy and Lily's sister. I really need to speak to them right away," Misty waited in suspense. She had to talk to her sisters. If Daisy wanted to, she could convince Lando to rethink his actions.
"Ah no, apologies miss," the maid replied, "the master and the ladies are not here. I take a message, yes?"
"Where did they go?" The urgency was evident in Misty's voice.
"I do not know," the maid nervously replied. The entire Ackbar mansion staff was on edge with the current situation.
"This is important!" Ash insisted loudly. "We need to talk to them right now!" He demanded.
The maid let out a little frightened yelp, "apologies, apologies, I do not know."
Misty sighed in exasperation, "it's okay, it's not your fault. If they return or contact you, tell them to call my cell phone immediately."
"Yes, yes," the maid hurriedly agreed, "call Misty, yes? I will give the message."
"Thank you," Misty ended the call and got up. "I'm going to find them." She had made her choice; she couldn't sit still any longer.
"I'm with you!" Ash announced. He was tired of waiting around for things to improve.
"Wait you two, this is dangerous. I know you have to go since Misty's sisters are in the middle of everything, but please don't lose sight of the dangers," Delia reminded, her tone was worried, almost desperate.
"Don't worry mom, we'll be careful," Ash assured. "I'll call you later. Maybe you should stay here for now. We've been in difficult situations before, not like this but don't worry, everything will work out."
"That's what I thought," for a long time, but not anymore, "it's not always like that. Don't lower your guard." Delia was reminded of the day when Ash started his pokemon journey.
Ash had called her from the Viridian City Pokemon Center after his first day on the road. She mentioned that it had taken his father three days to get there. It was true, three days of speedy get aways with Saffron City as the starting point. She tried to offer him some encouragement, but Ash didn't seem to respond too well. Her comfort wasn't enough for once. Plus the ambiguous image of a man who didn't exist beyond stories of adventures didn't have much to offer.
She had encouraged him a little more and smiled sweetly. She seemed distracted, too cheery. Then she ended the call before he could see her mask fall. She stared at the blank monitor for a long time. "Please," she wished with all her heart as a tear rolled down her face, "be safe."
The stories about the many different people Ash met soon reached Delia when he called her. His encounters with Team Rocket held a prominent place in Ash's narrations. Even so, he sounded happy. He was truly enjoying his journey and he had made good friends. He knew nothing of her past connections with Team Rocket. Jessie and James, the Rockets trying to steal Pikachu, were also unaware of who Ash truly was. Delia thought that maybe her connection with Team Rocket had finally dissolved in time. It had been over a decade, yet the connection could never truly disappear.
Delia walked with Ash and Misty to the door and watched them take a taxi. She followed the yellow car with her eyes until it was out of sight. She didn't know what to do, she couldn't simply sit and wait.
"Delia?" A sudden voice caught her attention after Ash and Misty were gone.
A red haired woman Delia had not seen in a long time approached the Cerulean gym's front entrance, "Ariana?"
"It's good to see you again; do you have time to chat?" It was obvious that Ariana wasn't referring to a simple friendly chat.
"Yes, come in," Delia had many things to ask. They went to the gym's living room and sat down with suspense in the air. "What happened? Is Team Rocket planning to do anything about Ackbar? If only Lando can understand that the Vermilion attack was Tempest's fault everything can be solved. Then Ackbar Inc. can keep functioning normally. Kanto needs their medical supplies! Where's Giovanni? What is he planning?"
Ariana raised her hands for Delia to slow down, "calm down. Don't throw so many questions at me at once."
Delia took a deep breath, "I'm sorry, this is no way to greet you after such a long time. So many things are happening; I need to understand what's going on right now."
"Archer is taking care of things with Ackbar. He might still be video conferencing with Bane's son right now," Ariana explained. "Since Giovanni is away, Arch is running things while this mess is sorted out. Giovanni said he would end the Tempest problem himself. I wouldn't worry too much, he can be reckless when pushed, but not stupid. Besides, Proton is with him."
Delia nodded, she felt relieved knowing that negotiations were taking place. "Then there will be a peaceful resolution to the Ackbar situation?"
"It depends on how you define peaceful," Ariana chuckled knowingly, "no heads will roll if that's what you're asking. They will be punished for their doubts and disloyalty, but it will be more about business control and economical resources. Team Rocket will have more control over the company now, but things should run smoothly from the public's perspective. If it makes you feel any better, we can't afford to execute anyone right now. The enemies will be blamed for the disasters and sent to jail. It brings back memories, doesn't it?"
"Yes, if all goes well, history will repeat itself in a way," Delia paused, realizing what she was saying. "That might not be such a good thing, let's say things might work out better than before."
"You're still full of hope I see," Ariana smiled as if reminiscing of the past. They had not been as close as Delia became to Leah, Aayla, Luke and Binks, but Delia was friends with Ariana, Archer, Proto and Petrel years ago. "You really put him on edge you know."
"Giovanni?" Delia looked puzzled, "he sent you here, didn't he? He told you it was alright to talk to me."
"Yes, I guess he still trusts you in his own way, maybe without realizing it." Ariana mused. "Giovanni hasn't taken matters into his own hands so directly in years. Arch thinks something happened to overload him, so to speak. He wants to get this over with and it's not simply because of Kanto."
"Do you really think so?" Delia felt a little better hearing that, but at the same time worried. "He seemed relatively calm, too calm. I tried to be patient, but a bottled up reaction is still a reaction. If my news threw him over the edge and made him all reckless, I'm glad!" Ariana laughed and Delia corrected herself, "that didn't come out right. What I mean is that maybe giving him something to think about caused him to want to rush things along. I noticed that he was curious about Ash, but I wasn't sure if he would just let everything go after a while. Maybe everything did overwhelm him, I'm glad to know he's still human enough to be overwhelmed and do something rash." Delia shook her head, "that doesn't sound right either. I'm glad he can still trust me a little. I'm glad he's not indifferent towards us, you know what I'm trying to say."
"I think so," Ariana was both puzzled and curious. She leaned back on the couch and got comfortable for a long talk. Her mission was simple, 'stop Delia from doing something crazy' that was how Giovanni phrased it. "There is something I don't understand. Who is Ash? First I hear he's suspected to be with the enemy and then we're supposed to leave him out of this. Other than a past Indigo League champion, who is he?"
"Giovanni didn't tell you?" Delia paused, unsure of what to say.
"He didn't have time for a long talk," Ariana replied, "he just told us that Ash was not the enemy and that he was to be kept out of this."
Delia resolved that it would be alright to explain things, "he's our son."
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Pokemon. A little more information was revealed, but several pieces are still missing. Doesn't this cliffhanger feel like deja vu? XD