Diamond 71: Give me Surprises
Diamond 71: Give me Surprises
The elevator doors closed blocking out the cold air conditioner of the hallway. The elevator began to go up towards the higher underground levels of the Viridian Rocket headquarters. The tension in the air floated heavily. "Delia," Giovanni tried to look at her face but she looked away, "look at me."
She lowered her face and shook her head. "I'm fine, I can do this," her voice was shaking. "I can visit Binks again, I can control myself," she insisted almost pleading.
"I know, you did very well," Giovanni saw many possibilities in the future if things progressed as they had so far. "You don't know how much you've helped him."
"I'll make sure he finds himself," Delia didn't care about Giovanni's plans for Binks. She just wanted to help him recover. She couldn't stand the thought of him living as a prisoner used for his scientific knowledge. He was not a thing, not a resource, he was a person.
"You don't have to keep everything bottled up all the time," Giovanni tried to hug her.
For a moment, Delia leaned into him and allowed the overflow of emotions to show. Then she pulled back quickly and dried her eyes with a determined look. "I told you, I'm fine," she glared.
"You've been on edge," Giovanni observed. She wasn't so distant before. Now she was looking at him almost as if he was poisonous to her. The pained yet welcoming look in her eyes was gone.
"Can you blame me? I'm not just going to play your game. I'm not here to give you everything you want. Not anymore," her voice was lowered to a fierce whisper. She was tired of being forgiving.
"This isn't like you," Giovanni spoke calmly. The elevator reached its destination and opened. A few Rockets made their way through the long hallway ahead.
Delia waited until the Rockets passed by before continuing, "I don't like being this way," she admitted. "It's just that, I'm not supposed to care about you, so I won't. It should be my choice to make." She made it clear the conversation was over. She would speak of the matter no more.
It was an unusual event for Giovanni. Delia had never really confronted him in such a way. She just left, ran away. This time she wanted to face him without the burden of past feelings, but it wasn't easy. She couldn't simply erase the past and she couldn't make herself hate the present. She wanted Ash to know what was his right to know. She couldn't find the balance between being too involved and not involved enough.
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, down in the secret underground laboratory, Laiki was getting ready to share her suspicions with Luke. "About Comet," she began in a grave tone.
Luke didn't like the way the topic was brought up, "he's like going to be like okay, right?"
"I don't know," Laiki admitted. "There is something that Binks didn't tell you about him, back when he used to take care of him when he was little. He told me, but I didn't think it was of any use to make you worry."
Luke's expression turned concerned, "like what do you mean?"
"Comet wasn't expected to," Laiki tried to think of a gentle way to phrase it but found none. "He's not expected to live a long life." She stopped there. That was what Binks had told her without explaining it further, but she had reached her own conclusions.
Luke looked absolutely heartbroken. "Are you like saying he's not just like tired? Is this like a sign of like the end?" Luke couldn't accept that. Comet was his son; he wouldn't give up on him so easily. "No! That like can't be, there like has to be a way to like save him, you know?"
Laiki sighed sadly, "I couldn't say."
Luke was determined not to lose hope, "I'm like staying positive, you know?"
Laiki smiled weakly. She feared the worse, having already faced reality, "yeah, I guess there's nothing more to do. I'll believe in him too."
xoxox xox xoxox
Several levels above the secret laboratory, but still underground, Comet was sleeping in his room. Someone calling at the door woke him from his restless slumber. "Comet, are you in there?"
Comet waited for the blurry voice to become clearer as the person at the door called again. He got up and immediately felt dizzy. He fell sitting on his bed again, holding his head. His forehead felt warm, but he was cold. He didn't get sick easily. He had never felt this ill before.
"Comet!" The person at the door was growing impatient. There was a silent pause, then footsteps.
"Wait, don't go," Comet forced himself to get up and tried to steady himself. He quickly opened the door.
Pixel had started walking down the hall, assuming Comet wasn't in his room after all. She stopped and looked back. "So you were in there. Were you sleeping? What a waste of free time. C'mon, let's run around the galaxy for a while. Remember those two big mutant monsters? I mean the ones in the second area, in the buildings beyond the caves. You said you would help me slay them. I'm a strong mercenary but this isn't a one person job."
Comet took a moment to absorb the information, "oh yes, the game." His brain seemed to finally restart and connect to his surroundings.
Pixel looked impatient, "Have you been training your character at all? I'm ready for the S rank missions! You're not going to get over your cold if you just lay in bed bored out of your mind. Video games are the best way to get over a cold!"
Comet nodded weakly, not quite all there, "I agree. Let me grab my game. Should we go play in your room? Your router is faster than mine and we're going to need a wireless that doesn't lag."
"Yup," Pixel nodded, "hurry up, we have mutant monsters to slay and rare treasures to collect!" She cheered.
Comet got his handheld game from his cluttered room. "Let's go," he made himself smile, as the world became less blurry. "By the way, you look different."
"Custom made uniform," Pixel replied. Instead of the standard boy style uniform she usually wore, and still did if it was cold, she was wearing a slight variation of the Team Rocket uniform. The tshirt had short sleeves; it was black with a red R. She had black jean shorts that went to her knees with a belt carrying several pokeballs. Her black boots had silver metal at the soles. They were heavy, but felt cool, so the extra effort was worth it. Her gloves were short and black. Her dark blue hair was in it's usual ponytail and she wore small silver earrings. The red R on the uniform stood out as always.
"It looks cool," Comet sleepily complimented as he closed his door and followed Pixel. He never used to get sick like that. He wasn't sneezing or coughing as he should be if he had a cold. It was just a fever and exhaustion.
xoxox xox xoxox
Later, Misty was resting in her room at the Cerulean City gym. Her eyes were closed though she was still awake. "Misty!" Ash's voice sounded as if it was nearby.
She quickly got up and looked towards the window. There he was, riding on Charizard. She opened the window and let him in, "I'm glad you came," they hugged tightly.
"It's okay, I'm sure we can work something out," as usual, Ash tried to stay optimistic. Charizard complained from out the window. He didn't fit through it. "Thanks for the ride Charizard, I knew I could count on you to bring me here really fast." Ash walked over to the window, petting Charizard with one hand, his other arm still around Misty's waist. "Take some time to rest," he called the fire pokemon back into his pokeball.
Misty's Marill began to talk to Pikachu, answering his curious questions. Marill had been listening to the Waterflower sisters' conversation and was well informed. The two pokemon nodded to each other and headed towards the door, "Pikapi, Pikapipi."
"You're going to spend some time with Misty's pokemon? Okay, see you later Pikachu. Actually, I'll let everyone out," Blastoise, Charizard, Charmander, Charla and Bulbasaur, were released from their pokeballs as well. Charla had been given to Ash's so she could be with her mate and son. Misty's room was suddenly very crowded. "Take a break everyone, go play with Misty's pokemon."
Ash's pokemon expressed their eagerness and made their way out of Misty's room after Marill and Pikachu. Misty's other pokemon were at the gym's pool. There was a bit of a traffic jam at the door as the larger pokemon made their way out. Eventually they all left the room, making their way down the hall to go downstairs.
"Having everyone here makes me feel better," Misty voiced. Being around Ash and his pokemon had become very natural to her.
"I'm glad," Ash smiled. They both sat down on Misty's bed. The mattress felt odd to Ash. "Are you sure this thing isn't going to pop?" He poked at the mattress.
"You always ask that whenever we sit here," Misty laughed, relaxing a little more. "It's a water bed; it was built to be used. It won't pop; it's not a water balloon."
"If you say so," Ash poked at it some more.
Shades of blue were predominant in the room; representative of the water type pokemon Misty loved so much. Soft yellow was another present color. There was a doll collection in the corner of her room. She had won it many years ago. They remained well preserved. A collection of fishing rods lined one wall with various boxes full of different lures. There was a picture on the nightstand of Ash and Misty together.
"What am I going to do with them?" Misty let out a deep breath. "Maybe there's no use in worrying, but I don't know what to do. The worse part is that they won't give me all the details because it's for my own good, so they say. That just makes me wonder how bad things are."
"Maybe it's not so bad," Ash tried to make Misty feel better, though he didn't know what they were up against. "I know!" He suddenly got an idea. "We should go to Saffron City!"
Misty blinked, not quite following Ash's train of thought. "Saffron City? Why there?"
"Because Jessie and James live there," Ash replied, "they used to be in Team Rocket," he reasoned. "They should know something. Okay, so they must have been kind of low ranked, but maybe they have some information after all."
"It's worth a try," Misty decided, though it was getting late. "We should go tomorrow, first thing in the morning."
xoxox xox xoxox
When the next day came, Ash slept in. He was woken up by Misty who urged him on his way. During dinner the previous day, Misty got the feeling that her sisters were conspiring to take her and Ash shopping as if nothing was out of the ordinary. No direct invitation was made, thus Misty decided it was best to leave before it happened.
They ate a quick breakfast with their pokemon. The pokemon were all put into pokeballs except Charizard and Charla, who would carry them to Saffron City. As usual, Pikachu stayed out as well, riding on Ash's shoulders.
The trip to Saffron City was relatively short. Ash and Misty soon landed in front of the pokemon day care center as passers stared. Ash had called his mother the previous night, in case she was back in Pallet Town wondering where he had run off to. She was still in Viridian City and would probably stay there for a while. Ash's mind was occupied in helping Misty obtain more information about her sisters' situation with the Roketto clan, better known as Team Rocket. As a result he left his questions for later, but was determined to hear the truth about his father at some point in the near future.
"Thanks for the ride you two!" Ash expressed his gratitude to the two Charizard.
"Yeah, that was fun," Misty thought it would be more difficult than it was to ride on a Charizard. Charla made sure to fly steadily, carrying Misty, while keeping up the pace.
With the two Charizard back in their pokeballs, Ash and Misty entered the pokemon day care center. The little bells on the door rung as they opened it and went in. The cheery atmosphere inside, seemed to be more festive than ever. "Twerps!" James jumped towards them from behind the front counter. "Guess what? Guess what?" He jumped up and down excitedly.
"You found a really rare bottle cap?" Misty knew how much James loved those. It was expected for him to become that excited over it.
"It's even better than that!" James cheered.
"Did you find a super rare bottle cap?" Ash guessed. Misty had stolen his guess and he didn't have time to think of a new one.
"Even better!" James loudly cheered. "I do commend you on knowing the difference between rare and super rare though," he smiled.
Ash blinked, "you mean there's a difference?" He paused and laughed, "of course there is! I knew that," he grinned proudly.
Misty pushed him gently and teased, "no you didn't."
"I did too!" Ash insisted.
"Fine," Misty rolled her eyes with a smile, "have it your way, maybe this is about an ultra rare bottle cap."
"That would be even better than a super rare," James agreed, "but that's not it either." He waited energetically for the right guess to come. "It's something even better!"
Jessie emerged from the door in the back, having heard the conversation. "Why don't you just tell them?" She suggested, "you've been telling everyone. I bet more than half of Saffron City already knows."
"That's because it's something to celebrate," James was smiling from ear to ear. "Wouldn't it be amazing to find an ultra rare bottle cap to commemorate this moment? It's okay though, I'll still celebrate with or without the bottle cap."
"Okay, I give up, what's this amazing thing that happened, that's even better than a bottle cap, better than a super rare bottle cap and better than an ultra rare bottle cap?" Ash inquired curiously.
James nodded, "it's even better than all three put together," he grinned proudly, "Bottle cap is having a baby. I mean I'm having a Jessie. Jessie's having a bottle cap." James got tongue tied again. "What I'm trying to say is I'm pregnant." He paused and thought about it, "I mean we are," he tried to correct it.
Jessie placed her hand on his shoulder, "don't hyperventilate," she joked, "I think they already got the message."
A wave of "congratulations" and best wishes was sure to follow. Meowth soon entered the front room followed by the other pokemon that had been playing in the yard. From there on, the atmosphere turned increasingly cheerful and the purpose of Ash and Misty's visit was forgotten for a while. They also took some time to look at Flareon and Growlie's egg making guesses about if it would be a boy or a girl.
It wasn't until a couple of hours later that the topic came up as to what brought them to Saffron City. Misty was reluctant to mention it since she didn't want to ruin the cheerful mood. Ash was, as usual, rather direct. "We want to ask about Team Rocket."
Silence invaded the cheerfully decorated room where they all sat in fluffy cushions around a table eating cookies. "Ash, don't be so direct," Misty whispered under her breath.
"How did you know?" James was the first to truly break the following silence in puzzled curiosity.
"No one should know, how did you figure it out?" Jessie insisted upon the question. They both assumed that Ash and Misty knew they were working for Team Rocket gathering information.
"What do you mean?" Misty carefully asked. "Just how much do you know about... things?"
"What things?" Jessie inquired. She was no longer so sure about Ash and Misty knowing about her and James returning to Team Rocket. Their new job was quite different and it defied the law a lot less, but the information they gained would still be useful. They were still allied to Team Rocket in the end.
Misty was reluctant to talk about it. Her sisters had told her to keep things a secret. Maybe if they had given her sufficient information she wouldn't have to go looking for it. A cold chill ran down her spine. "Nothing," she quickly tried to amend what she had said.
Jessie and James exchanged glances. Meowth stared at Ash and Misty curiously. He looked at Pikachu searching for answers. The yellow electric pokemon didn't breathe a single word. The silence piled up until Jessie spoke again, "if you know something we already know, there's no use in hiding it." She ambiguously hinted at the possibility of Ash and Misty knowing about her and James' new positions in Team Rocket.
Taking a deep breath, Ash decided to get things started in the most neutral way possible. "We were just curious because of all the things that happened recently. A lot of rumors were going around. Since you used to be in Team Rocket, we thought you might know."
The atmosphere turned less tense. "You wanted to ask about the past?" Meowth inquired, to which Ash and Misty nodded. "We're supposed to keep it all a secret," he reminded. He didn't want to ruin his second chance at being recognized. He couldn't picture himself living with the boss anymore. He wanted to stay with Jessie and James.
Meowth wanted to make friends with the pokemon that stayed at the day care center. He wanted to be there to read stories to his little nephew or niece, when the egg hatched. Even so, some recognition would still be nice and he didn't want to negatively affect Jessie and James' careers either. All in all, being allied to Team Rocket was rather convenient, especially with the current arrangement.
Misty couldn't take it anymore, "we know about Team Rocket and the Roketto. We know who Team Rocket is for the mafia," she said a lot but at the same time not much. "In general terms, can you at least tell us how bad the situation is? Even if you only say things that are common knowledge for those that are, or were more involved, that's enough. It doesn't have to be something secret."
"If that's all you want to know," Jessie mused about it for a moment before deciding it was safe enough. "The Roketto clan and Team Rocket are indeed the same. I guess you could say the Roketto clan is like an elite group within Team Rocket, but the grunts are under their command so there's no line to draw. They all answer to the same boss. The identity of that boss is top secret and I can't reveal it."
Misty nodded in acceptance, "I understand," maybe if she found a piece of information that her sisters had not shared and confronted them with it, they would reveal the whole story.
"Is there anything else you can tell us?" Ash searched for more information.
James was lost in thought trying to think of something that wasn't too revealing. Meowth spoke up first, "I happen to know the boss has a big swimming pool. He's also good at boxing and has his own private workout gym." That information was nothing too relevant to the investigation at hand. Knowing random personal details about the Rocket boss would lead them nowhere if they didn't know who he was.
James opened his mouth to contribute some other random detail about Giovanni, but Jessie cut him off. "Okay, that's enough information from our side. Now it's my turn to ask something. Have you heard of any secrets lately?" She looked at Misty questioningly.
Misty looked away, feeling as if her sisters' secret was already too exposed. "No, not really."
"Well," Jessie grinned confidently. "I just happened to know that Team Rocket decided that the Cerulean City gym was off limits. Generally, they don't pick fights with gym leaders, but there are no rules against it." James and Meowth observed Jessie. She was revealing a little too much, but Misty should be aware of the details already. The Waterflower sisters served as the gym leaders, taking turns to fill the role.
"I didn't know about that," there wasn't a single hint of doubt in Misty's eyes as she denied everything.
"Can we stop?" James snapped. "All of this going around in circles is making me nervous. Are you two planning to make a deal with the mafia or something?"
Misty paled and Ash adamantly denied it, "no way! We have nothing to do with the mafia. Misty doesn't, I don't, no one does!"
Jessie blinked in realization, "sounds like James hit the nail on the head, didn't he?" She grinned victoriously again, then the possibilities sunk in. This was the perfect opportunity to gain information for Team Rocket. Regardless, she couldn't do it and she knew neither could James. She didn't want to get the twerps into trouble after they became friends. Besides, Delia would never invite them over to eat again. "Alright, come clean, we won't get you into trouble."
Misty paused, she felt that she was in as deep as she could get. She sighed exasperated and tired. "What are the consequences of breaking an oath of secrecy?"
"Scary," Meowth shuddered at the possibilities swimming in his wild imagination.
"I think it's at least okay to say you have an oath of secrecy," James elaborated.
Meowth nodded in agreement, "yeah, that much should be fine."
"We have an oath of secrecy to Team Rocket," Jessie stated. "It's okay for you to say to whom you have an oath of secrecy."
"The same," Misty revealed.
"I knew it," Jessie exclaimed, "then the Waterflowers really were involved with Team Rocket. I can understand why you would worry. It would tarnish your reputation as gym leaders." She remembered how careful the boss was with his reputation.
James agreed and further added, "it'll be bad for Team Rocket too. If they said you should keep it a secret, it's because they don't want anyone knowing of it. I guess that applies to us in that we are forbidden from committing any acts that have a negative effect on Team Rocket. Either way, we'll keep your secret anyway, right?"
Jessie nodded, "of course, even Meowth can keep his big mouth shut under the right circumstances." The wheels in her head began to turn. Maybe it would be alright to inquire about the Waterflowers at Team Rocket. "James, why don't you take the pokemon to play at the park? Ash and Misty can go with you," she suggested it casually, but it still sounded sudden.
"What are you going to do?" Misty immediately wanted to know.
"Nothing that will affect you. I might actually be able to help you. There are some things I need to know first. Don't worry, I promise on Delia's delicious cooking that I won't get you two into any trouble," Jessie seriously assured, her expression sincere.
Ash and Misty exchanged glances before simultaneously nodding. Their eyes reminded Jessie that they were counting on her to keep her promise. Ash and Misty soon left with James and the pokemon towards the park. Jessie was left alone to make a few calls and find out what was the real limit of the information that could be exchanged. She would speak with caution.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Pokemon. Pixel and Comet are playing Phantasy Star Portable 2. That game is made of awesome!