Diamond 83: Give me Enlightenment
Diamond 83: Give me Enlightenment
It was one of the most elegant and largest living rooms in the mansion. It could be used as a room to have a get together if a big open space wasn't needed, as the room was mostly occupied by furniture. It was in the middle of a collection of rooms that seemed to exist for the sole purpose of housing expensive furniture. The room had three large golden double doors connected to a square hallway all around it.
The most striking feature of the room was the artistic mural occupying the entire wall that was without doors. The painting was very realistic, as if the room had a glass wall with an ocean view. Several statues of water pokemon were placed in front of the painted wall; the 3D sculptures further brought the art to life. The sand was not a natural color, but the painting matched it, in a brilliant gold. It made Delia wonder if it really was gold dust.
The carpet had a design that made it look as if it was golden dust, though it was a thick fluffy plush texture. Delia shifted on the couch, the clear material it was made of looked like plastic, but it was far more comfortable than she imagined it would be. The water filling the peculiar couch shifted with little pokemon figurines floating inside it. Goldeen, Seaking, Magikarp, Horsea and Seadra were among them.
Pixel sat rather stiffly, she wasn't used to sitting on water furniture. Neither were the other two, but Delia adapted and Laiki's mind was elsewhere. "You're not going to believe what's happening!" Laiki bounced nervously in place. Her movements caused the water in the couch to shift.
It made Delia and Pixel bounce too, in a human wave. "Stop rocking the boat!" Pixel complained.
Laiki ignored the complaint and continued her dramatics, "Maybe now I can get some answers. What am I being accused of?"
"This couch is weird," Pixel muttered as she tried to get somewhat comfortable. "You're being accused of stealing the boss' Flygon and Garchomp and giving them to the assassin. He thinks you're her accomplice."
"I know you're innocent," Delia offered, "when Giovanni returns, I'll talk to him."
"Thank you," Laiki sincerely voiced, though Giovanni's distrust still bothered her. "How in the world was I framed in the first place?"
"You, or rather someone who looked like you, was caught by the gym's security cameras in the hall," Pixel revealed. "It doesn't make sense."
"Exactly, I'm not a traitor!" Laiki emphasized.
"Sit still!" Pixel hissed as she and Delia was thrown against each other with the water couch's motions. "Anyway, that's not what I meant. I know you're not a traitor, but why would the assassin frame you specifically?"
The way she left, abandoning the stolen pokemon, was very suspicious. "Let's list off all the facts we have," Delia suggested. "Maybe if we put our heads together, we'll be able to figure this out. We'll get to the bottom of this and catch the culprit!" The two younger women nodded in agreement.
Rex entered the room with a tray of food and drinks. Laiki had met him in the hall before finding Delia and requested some snacks to calm her nerves. He paused and observed the scene before him. He had not really caught the conversation. A cold chill invaded him as he glanced at Delia. She was upset and looked very much like a lady of the mafia with the expression she wore. Her eyes seemed to say 'you'll regret making me angry.' This was quite different from her usual sweetness.
Pixel had a rather sadistic expression as she caught her right fist in her left hand. She was wearing iron knuckles attached to her black leather gloves. Laiki's expression could only be described as pure evil while she made stabbing motions in the air as if holding an invisible dagger. He felt his face becoming warm, he thought mafia girls were attractive, more so if they were a little rough.
Rex quickly served the snacks on the small transparent, nearly invisible, coffee table in front of the group. He felt the three pairs of eyes on him and shifted uncomfortably. The same stubborn strand of auburn hair that always broke lose of the neatness of the rest of his hair did so again.
"Thanks," Laiki winked, "if you don't mind, can you make sure no one interrupts? We're having some girl talk."
"Of course," Rex was quick to comply, hoping that the rush of blood to his face wasn't too obvious. The women looked like they were plotting the demise of all mankind. For all he knew, perhaps that was the very definition of girl talk. "Have a pleasant time, ladies," he swiftly left.
"He remembered the syrup," Pixel chirped in delight, as she picked up her plate with a dark chocolate and chocolate chip brownie. She began to pour a generous amount of chocolate syrup on it.
"Is that healthy?" Delia decided to eat her brownie without any additional ingredients; it was already sweet enough in her opinion.
"I'm a sugar junkie, I can take it," Pixel closed her eyes in delight, savoring the chocolate.
"I need comfort food," Laiki began to devour her brownie. She then paused and opened up the liquor bottle, serving it in the three cups. She picked one up and held it, "to... Rex and how cute he looks when he blushes."
Delia followed suit, holding up her own cup, "to... Giovanni and how adorable he looks when he cuddles Persian."
"To..." Pixel paused, holding her cup up, "I don't have a boyfriend."
"What about Comet?" Laiki teased.
"Fine," Pixel smiled wickedly, "to Comet and how hot he looks all the time." Laiki's jaw dropped and her eyes opened wide. Seeing her expression, Pixel was invaded by a fit of laughter, which Delia couldn't help it but to join. "I know you're never going to let me forget that, no matter how many times I say I was kidding. That's alright because it was worth it to see you make that face."
"You're mean, you know that? Not that I didn't already know you like him," Laiki pouted and drank the rest of the contents of her cup.
Delia had only taken a sip for the toast and Pixel had not tried it at all. As an absolute lover of sugar, alcohol was too sour for her taste, unless it was in the form of a frosting covered spiked cake.
After getting a good laugh out of their systems, the three women gained focused expressions and Delia began to lay down the facts. "It all started at Razzo Albergo, a hotel in Cerulean City. I was attacked right next to it. The first attacker's left foot was injured in the fight."
"The security cameras in that alley were disabled," Laiki added. "This was done by a man who worked at the hotel. Peculiarly, he was found passed out at the control room with no memories of his actions." There was something else that stood out about that man, but Laiki couldn't quite put her finger on it.
Delia continued, "the second attack occurred at Vermilion City, in Lando's mansion. That second woman got past his security, probably taking advantage of the many guests that were there at the time to slip by unnoticed. She intended to lead me away, but her plan failed when she was unable to keep Giovanni distracted long enough. She ran away as soon as she saw him."
"At some point before the third attack someone who looked like Laiki stole the boss' pokemon from his gym office," Pixel added. "Then the third attack happened in this very mansion. Similar to the hotel incident, a man was found passed out after disabling the security system. He too worked for the boss. The woman involved escaped after leaving behind the two stolen pokemon. It makes no sense that she would abandon them after going through the trouble of stealing them. Stealing them was a very risky move. Even if she realized they wouldn't listen to someone they didn't know, she could have sold them or gotten rid of them. We can reason that she was desperate to escape, but even so something feels off. What do we know about her motive for the attempted murder?"
"Just theories," Laiki mused, "right now the theory that stands out the most is revenge on the boss."
"She said she was my rival, but didn't say in what sense," Delia revealed.
The statement caught Laiki's attention, "that has to be her motive! She's trying to steal the boss away from you; she's your rival in love!"
Delia thought about the possibility Laiki suggested. It seemed too much like something out of a TV drama, but she couldn't entirely discard the theory. "I suppose that would be a reason to get rid of me."
"She's in Team Rocket," Pixel concluded, "if she's so obsessed with the boss, then she must have met him as more than the gym leader. That is how she came into contact with the men from inside the organization."
"So then, the third woman is the leader of the operation?" Laiki wondered.
Delia's expression showed realization, "there might not be three."
Laiki was quick to follow the train of thought. "That's right, if someone who looked like me was caught on video, she must be a master of disguise! Furthermore, if she's that possessive of the boss, she might not want to work with other women, who could betray her and steal him for themselves."
Delia nodded, "the theory fits. Their voices sounded similar, though not exactly alike. She could have just been purposely changing her tone. The first woman had an injury on her left foot, the second and third women had very large boots. They were big enough to hide bandages and even some sort of thin brace or cast. Pain killers should make it possible to walk without too much trouble. Those three might have been one."
"Additionally, she hit her head when Peachy attacked, but that was later," Pixel recalled. "Laiki, you're always in touch with the latest gossip, what can you infer?"
"I'll take that as a compliment," Laiki paused, thinking hard, "there's a nagging detail I can't quite bring out from the back of my head. I know the boss has admirers, even though he seems blissfully unaware of the fact. None of them seems to fit the profile though."
"The part about the stolen pokemon still feels off, she could have sent one of her zombie men to do that with less of a risk," Pixel pointed out.
"That's it, the men!" Laiki remembered that nagging piece of information that hid in the back of her mind. "There was a rumor going around that Iblis was flirting with them, both of them. Icy Iblis taking interest in something other than poking around people's heads is a novelty."
"Icy Iblis?" Delia repeated. "She seemed nice, but she did have an injured left foot." She didn't want to jump to conclusions; Iblis had been polite to her and Ash. "Maybe that was just a coincidence."
"Poisona attacked Iblis during an interrogation session, that's never happened before. Iblis is usually in control of her interrogations," Laiki remembered what she had heard from one of the dungeon guards. "Her left ankle was injured when Poisona went wild. She has already been handed to the police by now. They shipped her off to a mental patient facility, I think."
"Oh my..." Delia was obviously horrified by the turn of events, but at least Iblis had an alibi. "Then Iblis' injury really did have another cause."
"Don't be so sure," Laiki tried hard to remember the timing and details, "I heard something about Iblis' rotten luck. Some Rockets were talking about how her possible boyfriend from Cerulean City turned out to be a traitor and how she had been seen walking with a limp. That was before the incident when Poisona attacked her."
"You've told me about her before," Pixel recalled. "She uses hypnotism as part of her interrogations, right?"
Delia's eyes widened as she followed the connecting dots, "do you think she hypnotized Poisona into hurting her to create an alibi?"
"It's possible," Laiki nodded. "If you say she was nice then she was definitely acting weird."
"It was convenient that she happened to be knocked out near by, apparently by a blunt hit to the head." Delia was getting suspicious and she didn't like it. Iblis had been so nice; she didn't like the feeling of distrust. Was that how Giovanni felt? Did he question his agents wondering when they would betray him? He must still have some trust at least with the executives. Delia knew he had to be careful and so did she, but she didn't want Giovanni to completely lose the ability to trust.
Something suddenly clicked in Pixel's mind. The entire situation was like a video game where all the clues came together to reveal the truth. Like the lawyer protagonist, she had decided to believe in Laiki's innocence. After that, it was all a matter of putting the pieces together, like a detective. Wait, lawyer, detective... "Iblis is a psychologist, isn't she?"
"Yes, but she's more likely to traumatize her patients than help them," Laiki was always opposed to her treating her brother. Iblis was supposedly the best around in her field, so Giovanni put her on the job anyway. Binks wasn't one of the victims of her interrogations, but it still made Laiki uneasy to think that the torturer was trying to become her brother's healer. She would have no reason to hurt Binks. The boss considered him to be a valuable scientific resource. If Iblis didn't want to disappoint him, she truly had to try her best. It was those thoughts that made it possible for Laiki to deal with the prospect.
"We've stated that she is the culprit and so far everything fits. She wants to get rid of Delia, but knows it will be difficult. Even if she succeeded," Pixel certainly hoped not, "that would not mean that Giovanni would welcome her with open arms. If he has continued his past relationship, then we can conclude that he never let go of the past. Luke is in danger, that's why the executives are gone!"
"Woah, wait!" Laiki raised her hand in a sign of stop. "You lost me in your mental leap!"
"What do you mean? How do you know?" Delia wondered how everything was connected.
"Laiki, you're better informed than me, so confirm this," Pixel began her explanation, "is it true that the executives have been called to other regions recently due to several high ranking officers falling ill?"
"Yes, that is what's going through the rumor mill and I would say it's a reliable piece of information," Laiki paused and thought about it, then she made the connection. "The high ranked Rockets suffered from fainting spells attributed to stress. Ironically, they had been following a stress relieve program that included energy drinks and music. The items were sent to them by mail and were designed by... Iblis" The last word came out as a whisper.
"Ironically their stress level increased and they're bodies were weakened," Pixel stated.
"Iblis is known to use chemicals to partially sedate her interrogation victims or make them hypersensitive to her convenience, she has access to such things," Laiki's heart pounded with worry as all the pieces were put together. She feared the revelation they had stumbled upon.
"Giovanni is without his closest friends," Delia realized, "with so many things going on, he must be close to a nervous break down for all we know. He's only human," Delia worried.
"She's trying to root out the past," Pixel concluded. "With the executives far away, they can't influence him. I don't know all the details, but Comet has told me a few stories about the past. When I went to Giovanni's gym office, with Flygon and Garchomp, Luke seemed to recognize them."
"Yes, he was training them," Laiki confirmed, she was in a sense, a human database of events and gossip.
"If the pokemon were stolen, Giovanni might ask Luke about it, right? The one framed for stealing them was Laiki." Pixel expressed her theory, "doubt, betrayal, stress, and uncertainty. She's trying to turn all the people that remind Giovanni of the past into bad memories. She wants to get rid of Delia and of anyone who is somehow connected to his past with her. She's tainting his memories little by little until he's forced to cast them aside, because it will just be too much to bear. The boss is strong, he's not easy to break, but she's getting desperate to accomplish it. Then, when his mind is at its weakest point, she'll find a way to mold his environment and make him think what she wants him to think. She would have the knowledge to do this if we consider her background. She's trying to brainwash him."
Laiki's face had become frozen in shock, as had Delia's. Pixel instinctively looked around the room despite not having heard anyone come in. For a second she almost expected Giovanni to be standing right behind her as she went on about her conclusions. It looked as if the other two women had seen a ghost and not of the pokemon variety.
"Binks," Laiki sobbed, her tears suddenly coming out like a flood. "She knows!" She spoke in desperation, her voice invaded by broken sobs. "She knows you've been seeing him, she has her ways to obtain information. She knows the past, she knows it. She probably forced it out of Binks early on, she's known all along. Now more than ever Binks' connection to you is obvious, she's going to kill him!"
"No!" Delia gasped. From the moment she found out the truth about Binks, she had been terrified that a mistake on her part would cause him irreparable damage. Had her help exposed him to greater dangers? "I didn't mean for him to be in danger, I don't want him to be hurt more."
Laiki tried to calm her crying, but the idea of her fragile brother being further tortured shook the very core of her being. When she was growing up, even if he was a little emotionally unstable, he was all she had until she adjusted to life in Team Rocket. "It's not your fault," she choked out, "I have to... I need to."
"I'll go," Delia insisted. "You need to stay hidden until I talk to Giovanni. Hide in one of the guest rooms here."
"Right..." Laiki nodded, still sobbing into Delia's shoulder. She had not noticed when Delia hugged her and started gently brushing her hair with one of her hands, the other softly placed on her back. "Rex is willing to help, I'm sure." When she thought of someone precious to her getting hurt, Laiki felt guilty about her multiple boyfriends. They might be precious to someone too, if they discovered her betrayal and suffered, would they feel pain similar to hers? Did they have friends and family who would be hurt because they were hurt? Laiki had to recognize the fact that she was emotionally overloaded if such thoughts plagued her. She was a natural player who very rarely felt a tiny hint of guilt. "That's it; I'm making a resolution here and now to stop being such a man addict." It was a resolution she would probably break. "I'm only keeping Rex because he's going to become my favorite after all the things I'll make him do to help us."
"I don't understand," Pixel finally voiced, she had been staring at the scene consumed by confusion. "Did I miss something?"
"It's a secret," Delia tried to explain. She stopped and looked at Laiki, encouraging her to be the one to reveal the truth. Binks was her brother and it was up to her to come clean about the situation to her friend.
Laiki nodded and tried to calm herself enough to speak clearly. "Comet doesn't know. I can't explain in full right now, but please don't tell him. Very few people know this, for now, keep it a secret." Laiki observed as Pixel nodded. "My brother, Binks, is alive. He's in a very fragile state of health and mind."
Pixel had many questions, but what stood out the most was the danger that could overtake him. "He'll need help," was all she could say, she didn't want to further upset Laiki. Pixel could doubt her own theory to reassure Laiki, but that would be a lie. She had confidence in her conclusions.
"I'll help him, I'll make sure he's alright," Delia assured.
One set of doors was suddenly thrown open and Rex rushed in. "Lord Roketto is here!"
"Go to a guest room. One that Giovanni has all but forgotten, far from his personal area of the mansion," Delia urged.
"Right," Pixel nodded, while Rex stared in confusion at Laiki, wondering what afflicted her. The two Rocket girls quickly snuck away.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Pokemon. The videogame Pixel was reminded of was Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.