Diamond 80: Give me Sincerity
Diamond 80: Give me Sincerity
"I still think going to Pallet Town is a bad idea," Giovanni insisted, displeased with the results of their argument.
"You said it was okay and I'm not letting you take that back," Delia reminded him with a victorious grin. Waking up in each others arms that morning felt more natural than either would have expected.
"You know I didn't," Giovanni didn't count his so called agreement, "you shouldn't ask me important questions when I'm thinking of other things," he chose not to specify what other things, Delia already knew the answer to that.
"Either way, you know I would have gone anyway," Delia's mind was made up. She would talk to Ash in the peace of the home he grew up in and nothing would go wrong. They exited the room leaving the luggage behind for the staff to deliver to their helicopter.
As they walked down the hall, a maid caught sight of them as if she was searching for them. "Ah, I have found you," she smiled politely, "good morning, excuse me; I have a message for you. There is a lady named Ariana who wishes to speak with you immediately. She is waiting in one of the guest rooms. She requested to see the Viridian gym leader in private," the maid shifted uncomfortably, wondering what urgent business brought the mysterious lady to seek the gym leader.
The story sounded quite strange, but just as the one behind it expected, Giovanni had to investigate. "I'll go see what this is about, you should go get Ash. I'll take you back to Pallet Town in the helicopter."
Delia found the sudden arrival of Ariana to be strange too, but she agreed. "Alright, we'll be waiting." Whatever was going on, she should have the chance to find out about it soon. Maybe it was related to a new lead on who was behind the recent happenings.
Giovanni followed the maid to the guest room where Ariana was supposed to be waiting. When they arrived it was empty. The maid looked surprised, "I'm sure this is the right room. She looked down the hallway as if counting the doors. Another maid exited the room next door with a basket full of sheets to take to the laundry room. "Louise, did you see a lady with red hair leave this room?"
"Yes, she went out just as I came. I'm not sure who she was, a guest from yesterday's festivities, I assumed," Louise answered naturally.
"Oh, I'm sorry it seems she went somewhere else," the first maid felt a bit embarrassed, though she had no real reason, it had not been her fault.
"That's alright," Giovanni found the entire situation to be very suspicious. "I'm sure we'll run into each other soon enough." As soon as he was away from the maid he gave Ariana a quick call and got right to the point, "where are you?"
"Checking up on Johto's HQ," Ariana replied perplexed by the unexpected call from Giovanni. "Why do you ask? Do you need me to do something?"
"Never mind, keep working on what you're doing," Giovanni ended the call and hurried to find Delia. Needless to say, Ariana found the entire occurrence to be quite strange.
xoxox xox xoxox
"Delia?" A woman with short red hair approached Delia as she looked for Ash. Her large dark shades hid half her tanned face. The part that stood out the most were her thick boots, that looked as if they were several sizes too big for her. She was wearing a black business suit, but there was no red R present on it.
"Yes?" Delia didn't recognize the woman.
"Giovanni is leaving due to some unexpected business. He asked me to take you home. Please, come this way," she seemed to be in a hurry to leave.
"Where is Giovanni? I want to talk to him before he leaves," Delia insisted.
The woman spotted Giovanni at the end of the hall, coming from the direction opposite to where Delia was facing. He was faster than she expected. "There he comes, I will be waiting in the car outside, excuse me," the woman quickly left.
"Delia, who was that?" Giovanni seemed to have no idea that he was apparently leaving and someone was supposed to take Delia home.
Her eyes widened in realization. "She's suspicious, after her!" Delia wanted to end the danger as fast as possible. If she could get a clue from that woman, that might help.
Seeing Delia dash away after the unknown woman, Giovanni was quick to chase after her. Delia turned a corner and stopped. There was a fork and Delia had no clue which way to go. "She's gone, we won't catch her now," Giovanni voiced bitterly. The suspect was right there and she slipped away. "I can't bring any agents here without causing a commotion. It's best if we just leave. We're going to my place."
Delia sighed; the danger became very apparent in her mind. "Alright, for now I'll tell Ash you invited us over. Then I'll tell him the truth when we get there." She felt that she had no choice but to agree not to return to Pallet Town for the time being. She felt like she was being hunted down. She didn't want to get Ash involved, yet that was exactly what she was doing by telling him the truth. The need for him to be informed was more urgent, he had to be on his guard.
xoxox xox xoxox
Misty returned to Cerulean City with Violet, Lily and Brock, their transportation provided by Lando's staff. Ash boarded Giovanni's helicopter with his mother and the gym leader. The pokemon had all been reunited with their trainers. Most of them were in their pokeballs, save for Pikachu and Persian. The tension was heavy in the air at first. They all tried to lessen it with a casual conversation about pokemon battles. For a moment, the tension was lessened significantly as Ash and Giovanni spoke of their coming battle. Before that there was another more urgent matter to tend to that they all silently knew about.
They stopped at Pallet Town, since Delia wanted to personally assure Professor Oak that everything was alright. She knew he had been worried about her recent reunion with Giovanni and all that had been said in the news. Vandel watched the scene in secret. If Delia was with Team Rocket, she was safe; he didn't need to follow her. He wondered just when the chain of events that concluded with the great catastrophe would occur. He didn't know it had already started. He was soon called over by Gary to meet Ash.
Ash stopped by to talk to Gary while his mother went to see Professor Oak. Giovanni had decided to wait for them in the helicopter. He knew the effect of Delia's reassurance might not be as strong if he was there. Mother and son exited the Oak research lab together. "How was Belle?" Delia casually inquired; the silence that had fallen upon them after landing was too heavy.
"She's doing much better. Skye is helping Gary take care of her," Ash replied as casually as he could, but could think of nothing more to say. As they walked back to the helicopter, Ash tried to get the conversation going again so that the uncomfortable silence wouldn't return. He spotted the orange car in front of the house, "looks like Giovanni left his car there," he could think of nothing more to comment on.
"Actually, it's ours," Delia revealed, much to Ash's surprise she gave him the keys.
"Are you serious?" His worries were momentarily pushed back at the thought of being able to drive such a cool car.
"Yes, Giovanni said we could have it. You can use it whenever you want, I don't really need it much," Delia smiled as naturally as she could. Her mind was still focused on the approaching conversation she would have with Ash.
"Wow, that's really generous," Ash's focus shifted suddenly from the car to his questions. He wondered who his father was. If Giovanni had always been nice to his mother, why wasn't he chosen in their past triangle? Just who was the man who ended up winning his mother's heart? Who was his mysterious father?
The rest of the helicopter ride to Giovanni's mansion went by in relative silence. There were some attempts to converse, but the talking didn't quite pick up. Ash's questions had resurfaced too strongly.
xoxox xox xoxox
At the Viridian Rocket headquarters one of the Rocket guards was surprised to find Iblis in the underground dungeon. "I thought you were on break," he curiously stated.
"I was, but a few things came up. Before I move on, I thought about doing one last interrogation with her," she glanced over at Poisona. Alakazam and Gengar were already out of their pokeballs, standing left and right of their trainer. "I'm not sure if I can get anything more out of her, but what can it hurt to try? Can you give me a moment alone with her?"
The request was not unusual. It was best for the subject being interrogated not to have any distractions. "Sure, I'll be out the door." He unlocked the cell before leaving. Poisona was chained to the wall so there was not much she could do.
"Wait," Iblis calling made the guard return. Iblis was examining the unmoving Poisona. "She's weak, too weak, we're losing her."
"Oh man, it's because she's been refusing to eat properly," the guard was annoyed. It would be bad if they ended up with a corpse in the dungeon. He knew Poisona was supposed to be handed over to the police alive after they were done getting information out of her. "The local nurse is not around. I'll have to call someone to take care of her."
"There's no time, I'll do it. I'm not an expert but I have some basic knowledge," Iblis offered, she knew she would be in trouble if she let the prisoner die. "Help me get her to the infirmary."
"Alright," the guard unlocked Poisona's chains. She fell limply into his arms, seemingly unconscious, but twitching slightly, as if she was aware.
"This is bad," Iblis observed Poisona's state, "at this rate, what awaits her is death."
As the last word escaped Iblis' lips, Poisona sprang to life. She tackled Iblis to the floor hard. The guard scrambled to pull Poisona back. The berserk lavender haired woman grabbed on to Iblis' leg as the shock psychologist tried to kick her off. She gripped Iblis' ankle, twisting it painfully, before the guard finally managed to bind her wrists with handcuffs.
"I'd say this one's just about ready to be thrown in a padded room. Are you going to be okay?" The guard got to work on chaining Poisona. She was unusually strong for someone so thin. It was as if her body was running on pure adrenaline and she didn't care if she tore herself apart.
Iblis cursed loudly and glared at Poisona. Her two pokemon helped her up. She kept all her weight on her right foot. Her left ankle was still strangely twisted at an impossible angle within the flexible white boot. "I'll live," she painfully declared.
xoxox xox xoxox
The helicopter transporting Giovanni, Ash and Delia landed at Giovanni's mansion between Kanto and Johto. The winged Rapidash statue on the fountain in front of the mansion reminded Ash of a Christmas decoration he still kept in Pallet Town.
Ash and Delia were given a quick tour of the mansion, since Ash had not seen it before. Ash knew Giovanni must live in luxury, but he was taken by surprise with the appearance of his mansion. It was much fancier than Ash had imagined. After they were shown to their rooms, Giovanni left to tend to some business. Delia knew he must be going to oversee the progress of the investigation and the scientific studies, along with other Team Rocket business. He was also giving her some time alone with Ash.
After Giovanni left, Ash stood beside his mother as if waiting for her to say something. Pikachu stayed on his shoulder motionless; he could feel the uncertainty in the air. Persian had left with Giovanni, following him everywhere as he always did. "Ash, I promised to tell you about your father." Delia summoned all her courage and brought up the subject. She watched as Ash silently nodded expectantly, "let's go to your room, we can talk there without interruptions."
The room where Ash was staying was different from the one where Delia was locked before. It was in a different area of the mansion and looked much fancier. It was equipped with its own living room and a large bathroom aside from the bedroom. It had a large 3D mirror TV and a potent sound system as well as other modern luxuries.
The color indigo predominated with accents of red and orange. It should have looked bright, yet it was all so well arranged, it had an elegant appearance. They sat down on the indigo couch, sinking into its softness among the red and orange cushions. Pikachu hopped off Ash and sat on the couch next to him, completely quiet.
"I don't even know where to start," Delia admitted. "I'm really sorry I didn't tell you sooner. I kept everything quiet for far too long. It's all somehow built up into... I don't even know what to call it."
"Just tell me everything, step by step," Ash encouraged.
"Alright," Delia nodded, "this will be a long talk." Instead of diving into the complications of the present, she started from the beginning. "There are things I've only half-told you. I guess I should start by clarifying that. I mentioned it took your father three days to get to Viridian City, but I never told you he came from Saffron City."
It was only the first bit of information and Ash was already surprised. He had thought his father was from Pallet Town. Thinking back on it, it was an impractical assumption. In that little town everyone knew everyone, if his father was really from there, or lived there at some point in the past, someone would have known. Someone would have slipped up and mentioned him. Ash realized that maybe all his assumptions about his father could be wrong. He listened with an open mind like a blank canvas for his mom to paint an entirely new picture on.
Delia continued, "I also told you that your father and I met in Cerulean City, that was true. It was also true that our first date," using the term of 'date' lightly, "was at the beach. We were interrupted when your father was attacked by a Gyarados."
Ash found himself reflecting on the similarities between himself and the mysterious man that was his father. Coincidentally, Misty was from Cerulean City and Ash's first official date with her was at a beach. Ash and Misty had let their pokemon out to play. Misty's Gyarados got protective of her, which was unfortunate for Ash. After defeating the Gyarados in a pokemon battle with some help from Pikachu, the water pokemon decided Ash was worthy to be with his trainer after all.
Delia continued her little review, "it's also true that we battle against evil pokemon gangs and rescued many pokemon that were being mistreated. We were also involved with the discovery of the cure to the epidemic many years ago. All of that is true, but I never told you the specifics."
Ash listened with attention, his curiosity building up with every passing second. Pikachu was in a similar state, his eyes also focused on Delia.
"I was doing an internship at the Cerulean City Pokemon Center," that much Ash knew, but the next part would be new to him. "One night, a gang of thieves snuck in and stole some of the pokemon from the center. I caught them in the act but was unable to stop them by myself. Your father was the leader of that gang."
Ash's jaw dropped. He tried to compose himself and urged his mother to continue with his eyes.
"The pokemon were sick, the epidemic was at its worse. I didn't know what fate awaited them in the hands of that gang. That's why I followed them and insisted that they let me join. I wasn't trusted at first. They allowed me to care for the pokemon, but that was it. I stayed at the warehouse, where the stolen pokemon were kept. I had my chances to escape, but I didn't. After I earned some trust, I moved into their hideout," Delia recalled.
A million questions floated in Ash's head. He was unable to find his voice and simply nodded.
"Things happened quickly after that with one thing leading to another. Your father must have taken a liking to me, but I didn't trust him at first. By that time I had freedom within the gang and was able to reassure nurse Joy that I was alright, so she canceled her missing person report. I also stayed in contact with Professor Oak, who had been my teacher. Your father and I went to Pallet Town to give Professor Oak some samples to research. He promised not to cause trouble for Professor Oak or try to steal his pokemon if I dated him for a week. In the end, that week turned into something much longer," once Delia started to talk about it she became calmer, remembering those times.
The question was written all over Ash's expression, even if he couldn't fully voice it. He tried to push the words out, "does he...?"
"Yes," Delia understood, even if Ash didn't finish his question. "Professor Oak knows. I don't think anyone else in Pallet Town is truly aware of this, at least not beyond a few rumors. Either way, I'm sure Professor Oak is the only one who can make the connection, no one else in town would recognize your father if they saw him." They had seen him, but they had no idea who he really was beyond his public image.
Another wave of realization washed over Ash, but he didn't want to jump to conclusions. Was his father alive? He pleaded for more information with his expression.
Delia continued her narration, "Your father and I were heading back from Pallet when our friends from the gang called to say a rival gang attacked our hideout. The place went up in flames and there were many pokemon casualties. We didn't realize it at the time, but the enemy was taking advantage of the leader's absence. It was Tempest, the Tempest of the past, the original one. The other gang, the gang I was a part of was... Team Rocket."
"Team Rocket!" Ash's exclamation was chorused by Pikachu, who spoke in his own language.
"I know it's a shock, but things were different back then," Delia tried to explain. "The epidemic was the greatest disaster and Tempest was doing some terrible things. They gave their pokemon all sorts of drugs to make them stronger at the cost of terrible side effects. Many pokemon were dying. That day, when Tempest burned down our home, your father and I rushed back to help our friends. We were chased by the police and even staged a false hostage situation where I pretended to have been kidnapped. When we made it to the hideout, it was too late for the pokemon in the blazing warehouse. All we could do was fight back with everything we had. The battle quickly turned around, it was as if having their leader with them was enough to give everyone strength. Then the police arrived and both Tempest and Team Rocket had to flee."
Ash's attention was completely captivated. He tried to imagine the Team Rocket of the past and how different it must have been. It almost sounded as if his mother was proud of the Team Rocket she remembered.
"Back then, Team Rocket was only a small gang. We fled to the south of Kanto and made ourselves at home in a beach-side cave," they were homeless, they didn't have anything, yet at that time, Delia felt that she had everything. "Tempest tracked us down and went on the attack. However, the drugs they fed their pokemon backfire and the pokemon... they didn't make it. Tempest had to retreat and we tracked them down to their hideout."
The entire story almost felt like the plot of a movie. It was amazing that it was actually real. It still had not fully sunk in for Ash or Pikachu.
"Do you remember the story I told you about when I used your father as a pokemon to battle a wild Graveler? That happened when we became trapped underground after Tempest attacked the beach cave." All the pieces of the puzzle were slowly falling into place and Delia felt the moment of truth approach. "Cloyster and Kingler were with me at that time. Cloyster was given to me as a Shellder by my friend Luke, from Team Rocket. I evolved him with a water stone to save your father from the wild Gyarados that attacked him during our 'date.' Kingler volunteered to come with me after witnessing that at the beach, back when he was Krabby."
Delia continued her story, dropping a few heavy hints that Ash took a while to catch, "your father's Rhydon, started out as a Rhyhorn he took from Venom, the Tempest leader. His Golem was the Graveler he battled. Tempest was allied to a lady called Amethyst. She was the Viridian gym leader at the time and the girlfriend of Venom. That was their hideout, the gym. Venom experimented on himself and turned into a mutant monster. Team Rocket stormed the Viridian gym one night. We fought Tempest and Venom. Your father's Machamp was originally Amethyst's Machoke. Venom took her pokemon and he... he killed her. Venom had many pokemon trapped in his hideout. They were set free and attacked Venom; that was his end."
Ash was still in shock, he needed to hear more. The infinity of questions in his head continued to expand. Added to the growing collection were questions about the Viridian gym and Giovanni's role in the story.
Delia was almost done with the story, "despite the sacrifices, we were victorious in more ways than one. We found Tempest's research for pokemon experimentation. The virus from the epidemic came from them. It was a side effect they allowed to run wild. Binks, a friend from Team Rocket who was good with science, studied the information with Professor Oak. Professor Oak knew a good portion of what happened and helped us. It was all so a cure could be produced. This was a big turning point for Team Rocket. We settled into the Viridian gym as our new home. Tempest was arrested and took the whole of the blame. Team Rocket had the antidote, they had influence, they would soon be unstoppable."
Ash was still yet to say another word.
Delia finished, "with our cured pokemon, we cleaned Kanto of other gangs. We battled and took away their pokemon. We healed them and made them our own. It would be years before any other gangs aside from Team Rocket surfaced. Throughout all of that, I had with me a pokemon egg. The egg was from a Persian who passed away when I was working at the warehouse. Your father's Persian started out as the Meowth that hatched from that egg."
Finally, all the dots were connected in Ash's head; his face was full of realization. Delia gave him a moment to process his thoughts and find his voice. "Cloyster, Kingler, Golem, Rhydon, Machamp, Persian, the Viridian City gym... all of that... it's all related to Giovanni, his pokemon, his gym."
"Yes, I already told him I would reveal the whole truth to you. Giovanni is your father, Giovanni Roketto," Delia finally revealed. It was clear Ash still had many questions. "This must remain a secret; he is not only the gym leader, but also the leader of Team Rocket. Please, don't be angry at him for not being there for you. He didn't know about you until recently. I never told him until now." Delia's regret resurfaced.
The things that Ash overheard started to make sense. His mother wasn't wishing that he had a different father; the man she spoke of was the same. It was his connection to the mafia she was talking about. That had to be the reason she was in danger. That was what she was protecting him from. Too many questions still remained. "Why?"
That one word felt like a cold stab for Delia. It was spoken without anger, only confusion. "Team Rocket took a more criminal approach to their activities, they became the mafia. I had many dear friends in Team Rocket, I still do," she admitted. "An anti-Rocket group picked a fight with us, a group that had ties to some of our friends from Team Rocket." Delia wasn't sure how much about that she should be revealing. She wanted Ash to meet Luke one day without making it too awkward for them. "Torn between family, love, friendship and loyalty, some of our friends ended up involved with the enemy's side. The battles that followed took many casualties. I saw a dear friend lose her mind and kill many, I saw another friend throw her life away for power. I saw my dear comrades suffering. It was too much. I didn't blame Giovanni and I still don't. He was involved, but he didn't cause those disasters, they were his friends too."
Delia swallowed and forced her voice to come out. She had tears in her eyes, but she didn't seem to notice. "I was almost engaged. Giovanni's proposal was interrupted and I didn't have the chance to give him my answer right away." It was ironic how much it paralleled Ash's situation. The difference was that Ash later received an answer. "I never told him, we were caught up trying to get things under control when everything fell apart. I was so close to saying yes. Even after all that I intended to stay. I still had hope. Giovanni is ambitious and sometimes extreme in his methods, but I... I loved him, I still do."
Ash was clouded by a vast confusion. If they were in love despite the situation, why did his parents go their separate ways? He saw his mother's sincerity. He saw how painful it was for her to leave his father. "Mom..." He hugged her; he couldn't stand to see her cry like that. "It's okay; you don't have to tell me everything at once."
Delia tried to even her breathing and calm her tears; Ash looked ready to cry himself. She must have worried him. "You've already waited too long to know," she insisted. "When I found out I was pregnant, everything changed," Delia decided to be honest about it. "You were a surprise, I'm happy you came to me. I'm very thankful for you," it was the one time she wasn't careful, the night of the Flame Festival in Cinnabar Island when Kanto was coated in the fiery colors of fall. "I wanted to give you a peaceful childhood, so I left. I didn't tell Giovanni about you, I left him a letter and my pokemon, then I went away. He must have known I went to Pallet Town, but he didn't know about you. He must have thought that life was too much for me, maybe he thought letting me go was what was best for both of us."
Delia looked into her son's eyes, "I'm so sorry. It was because of the choice I made that you never knew your father and he never knew you. I was only thinking about protecting you and acted on that. I don't know if I made the right choice, but I'm really proud of you and I love you so much. I'm sorry I kept the secret for so long, I'm sorry," her voice gave out and she could do nothing more than to hug her son as a rush of emotion overcame them both.
Ash and Delia's talk continued for several hours as Ash was given the chance to ask all the questions he wanted. Delia relived her past, the happy moments and the sad ones. Ash still needed some time for everything to sink in. They had some lunch and Ash took a nap. The racing thoughts that came with the truth were more exhausting than he imagined.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Pokemon. Since my subtle hints are sometimes too subtle, in case anyone missed it, some romance did happen off camera between Gio and Delia. Let's just say there were no pillow walls this time.