Chapter Ten – The Incident
Sizzling flame roared past the Pidgeotto who dipped down to skim the water’s surface, causing water to eagerly flick up and surround the bird as a protective barrier. The sun bled across the sky in a reddish-pink as it began the process of handing over control of the sky to the moon and darkness on what was a crisp, windless evening. Creaks and groans resounded from the wooden walkway which lay above the water like a bridge without barriers and swayed slightly whenever a breeze took to the air. The trainers fought on what was known as Route 12, where many years ago wooden bridges had been erected above where the sea intruded upon the land in order to connect Lavender Town to Fuschia City.
Hisses sang from the imposing ocean as a fireball was smothered by its embrace. Blue had barely regarded the battle before now and instead images of the past flashed before him, frightening remembrances of the SS. Anne. Despite his uncaring demeanour he showed towards the world, Mylos had been correct in his assumption, Blue was a liar. But not in the way Hoenn’s new military leader had thought. Blue did care, even if he refused to show it, the events upon Rocket’s cruise liner had shaken him to the core. Especially seeing his Raticate possessed and defeated by his own Pokemon.
His opponent’s Pidgeotto swooped down towards the bridge where he was met by a flamethrower. Blue’s Charmander had evolved into a Charmeleon now and the larger, more aggressive looking Pokemon sprayed flame towards the approaching target and fried the flying type.
“No,” Blue’s opponent gasped. He had forgotten the man’s name, a fisherman he discerned from the giant rod glued to his left hand and the bags of bait attached to his crimson life vest. “My chance to show the world my prowess…Gone.”
“What you-” Blue began before noticing no further Pokeballs were attached to the man’s belt. “Oh it’s over,” he said carelessly.
“Are you serious?” The man’s face flushed bright red. “You could at least show some humility.” Blue had been serious, his thoughts distracted by earlier events but the fisherman clearly had taken his nonchalant comments as gloating.
“Was joking,” Blue said uncaringly then turned to recall his Charmeleon into its Pokeball.
“So you mock me,” the fisherman said and began to approach him with fists clenched.
“Look whatever man,” Blue started before another voice broke the tension.
“Hey,” a small voice spoke from behind. “I’m sure it’s just a misunderstanding.” Wally squeaked as he approached Blue.
“Kids,” the fisherman growled after stopping his advance. “Apologise,” he demanded.
“Would you just go.” Blue turned his back on the man and began walking back towards Lavender town. “You lost already,”
“Why you-” The fisherman began a charge towards Blue but was halted in his tracks by Wally’s Eevee who snarled threateningly towards the defeated trainer. “You’ll pay for this!” he declared before storming away.
“What was that about?” Wally asked once he had recalled his Eevee into its Pokeball.
“Nothing.” Blue shrugged. “How’d your match go?”
“I resigned,” Wally answered with a slight grin.
“What?” Blue said in shock. “Why?”
“I’m letting you and Leaf do the fighting whilst I find out Rocket’s secrets.”
“Fair enough,” Blue spoke as if the news failed to concern him although truthfully, it did. “So what you doing chasing after me?”
“I have news,” Wally said proudly. “Although you’re heading towards Lavender Town anyway,” he giggled at the coincidence before continuing. “I’ve asked Leaf to meet us there-”
“Great,” Blue said and sighed.
“And finally caught up to you,” Wally went on ignoring Blue’s distasteful remark. “There’s some sort of Rocket ‘experiment’ going on inside on some sort of ‘secret weapon’.”
“Where? Lavender?” Blue gazed across the village as they neared the quaint but creepy abode. “It seems peaceful?” He eyed the houses which lived at the front of the village with their stone walls and purple roofs then looked to the market store to the right then at the Pokemon centre to the rear. Sighting nothing.
“You ignoring that giant tower on purpose?” Wally asked as he followed Blue’s cone of vision. He had guessed correctly, the seven story tower named ‘Pokemon Tower’ gave him the creeps. The bottom floor was fine, a reception hall also used for storage of records, it was the six floors above that he dared not look at. A building lined with the graves of fallen Pokemon where their spirits are laid to rest and trainers mourn their departed souls.
“Rocket are doing something in there?” Blue gulped, knowing his face was as white as a sheet. Wally somehow found this humorous.
“The fearless Blue Oak,” he said and laughed. “Scared of a few graves.”
“I’m not scared,” Blue lied. “Just annoyed I have to put up with Leaf some more.”
“Yeah whatever you say,” Wally said and chuckled. “But yeah, Rocket are doing something in there.”
“How do you know this?” Blue said whilst attempting to compose himself.
“The Servants told me/” Wally smiled, having stopped his laughter.
“How do they know?”
“They have a couple grunts on the ‘inside’.”
“And will they be there to assist us for once?” Blue accidentally allowed his voice to rise at the thought of a seemingly one way alliance.
“They’re still searching for their ‘Last Angel’.” Blue made a noise which was somewhere between a grumble and a sigh in response then looked to the imposing structure which loomed over the passive village like a mountain leaning over a hill, and gulped once more.
Kobra gulped in fresh air when she was released from her Pokeball for the first time. Leaf had chosen to replace Snake with another Ekans, this one more agile but slighter in build than her predecessor. The stone tower which dominated the village caused the hairs on Leaf’s neck to stand on end and a shiver to slither down her spine. The hollowed out windows which lined each floor of the graveyard served only to add to the daunting aura of Pokemon Tower.
“Scared?” Blue teased her as both he and Wally approached.
“Oh come on.” Wally giggled. “You were the one scared.”
“Really?” Leaf said and laughed.
“No,” Blue said as blood rushed to his face and cast a slight pink tint on his skin.
“I’ve never seen you blush,” Leaf placed her hands on her hips and felt like this was a small victory for her.
“Laugh all you want Fuguri-,” Blue began a barb but froze suddenly at a high pitched shriek from inside Pokemon Tower. A shrill wail of horror seemingly born from death itself like something out of a horror movie.
“What was that?” Blue squeaked as all the blood from his face disappeared to leave him as pale as snow. Rocket grunts began to pour from the tower like blood from a fresh wound and lined the entrance to block civilians from entering. The common folk of Kanto remained intentionally unaware of the link between the criminal organisation and the region’s ruling government therefore viewing Team Rocket as a pox on their seemingly unblemished nation.
“Rocket,” Wally hissed.
“You were right then,” Leaf said to her friend before releasing the entirety of her Pokemon. Blue and Wally swiftly followed suit.
“We need to get inside as soon as we can,” Wally spoke quickly as if in a state of panic.
“Well if two of us take carve an opening through the grunts,” Leaf began as she processed the plan in her mind. “Another can sneak by and get inside to find out what they’re doing in there.”
“So who is going in?” Wally spoke as if he feared to take the lead and enter. “There’s a secret weapon in there and megastones and everything. I-”
“Don’t panic,” Leaf said and smiled to him. “I’ll go in. Unless Blue wants to?”
“Nah,” Blue said instantly whilst looking terrified. “I’m alright out here thanks.”
“Come on then,” Wally said to pale man. “Blue, let’s attack some grunts and create an opening for Leaf.”
“Oh…Err-yeah,” he managed before nodding to his Pokemon in an attempt to order them to attack.
Leaf watched as Blue’s fighters joined with Wally’s Eevee in causing chaos within the ranks of the grunts whilst Lavender Town’s residences emptied and a plethora of citizens ran to gawk at the scene. She half-ran towards the entrance and ducked beneath a Rocket grunt who tried to grab her as she approached. The grunt was tackled to the ground by Wally’s Eevee whilst Blue’s Pokemon cleared away the Rocket operatives which crowded the doorway and left Leaf with a clear opening to inside the tower.
She stopped and gaped at the enormousness of the room. Cabinets and bookcases ran across the walls coupled with paintings of famous trainers and their Pokemon. The shelves were lined with papers and books which recorded each and every fallen creature that lay within the tower. A desk sat to her right hand side where a receptionist had fled the battleground leaving a fresh mug of juice untouched on the wood surface. A set of stairs ascended at the far corner of the room but was chillingly shrouded in darkness. It emitted a feeling of dread inside Leaf, especially as two lilac orbs pierced the blackness at head level. Eyes, Leaf realised, the same colour as Agatha’s had been during Possession.
“Yes!” a shrill voice screamed encouragement from the centre of the room which had turned into a scene of slaughter and disarray as recently defeated Pokemon lay entwined with torn pieces of paper and battered books. “Yes yes yes!” Courtney repeated before meeting Leaf with her bright eyes laced with a fiery wildness threateningly close to dipping into insanity. “Ah a visitor,” she announced to apparently noone.
Before Leaf replied she took a further look around the reception hall. Three young trainers battled with Courtney’s Gengar, a round bipedal Pokemon that was the colour of an amethyst stone. It snarled at its opponents with a constant sinister grin which was lit up even further by crimson eyes that were pure evil. It fought against a Pikachu, one Pidgey, two Gravelers, a Geodude and a Cubone. The latter was a small, golden creature which held a club of bone and wore a skull as a mask, the bone headgear had formerly belonged to her mother who had fallen to Courtney and now lay alongside her. Leaf then noticed that the Cubone hadn’t belonged to any of the trio of trainers but was a wild Pokemon fighting for vengeance against the death of her mother.
“Ignoring me?” Courtney shouted across to Leaf. “A pity!” she pulled out her bottom lip and feigned sadness. Leaf continued surveying the scene where she spotted two further purple orbs, these two belonging to one of the Graveler. It had been possessed by the shadowed figure which lurked at the room’s far side.
“Agatha!” Leaf shrieked. “I thought you were dead,” she called across the figure who failed to respond. Courtney burst into a fit of laughter, the sound like a chorus of squeaking mice.
“Agatha’s dead!” She laughed as if the fact was hilarious. “Dead. Gone. Deceased. Deathed. Err…Ignore that last one. Dead!”
“She’s insane,” Leaf thought then said aloud. “Who’s that then?”
“Oh no no no,” Courtney wagged her finger towards Leaf. “This girl does not tell.”
“Phoebe!” Leaf exclaimed, having remember that Agatha said there were two successes which caused Courtney to burst into a series of squeaks once more.
“Keep going this is so funny.” Courtney almost fell from the apparent hilarity of the situation. “Phoebe’s dead too!”
“She is?” Leaf found this to be a surprise although she wasn’t sure why.
“Yeah she disobeyed me,” Courtney smiled as if that explanation was adequate.
“So who are you,” Leaf bellowed to the figure and once more received no response.
“The experiment is a success I think I think I know!” Courtney squealed with joy. Leaf had remained oblivious to the battle before her to this point but now had spotted the Pidgey and Geodude has fallen to the Gengar who now faced the unpossessed Graveler and the Pikachu. The cubone fought the possessed Pokemon alone and was putting up a reasonable fight filled with fury and a desire to avenge her fallen mother. She smashed her bone club ineffectively against the Graveler’s rock skin then leapt to avoid a boulder-like fist. Despite her clear disadvantage and the odds stacked steeply against her, the Cubone refused to back down.
Leaf ordered her Pokemon to attack to Courtney’s distaste.
“Possess ‘em,” she shouted to the figure who shook their head and raised one finger towards her. “No way can you only possess one at once I’ve seen you do more!” She stamped her foot in frustration. Leaf’s Pokemon entered the fray and attacked both the Gengar and Graveler as the trainer’s Pikachu fell to a spectral ball of energy summoned by Courtney’s ghost type. With the help of both Dino and Giggles the Cubone managed to fell the possessed Graveler but even this hadn’t sedated his desire for revenge. The small Pokemon charged at the figure cloaked in darkness who attempted to control the Cubone with Possession.
“No!” Leaf roared and pulled a spare Pokeball from her backpack where she intended to capture the Cubone and save it from Possession but it was too late. The figure held out a hand then twisted their fingers in strange shapes and the link between themselves and the wild Pokemon began to form.
“Get that little twit,” Courtney howled in encouragement to the figure. “Make it club its dead mother or something,” she yelped with laughter to Leaf’s disgust. The words only deemed to stoke the raging fires within the Cubone who began to resist the Possession to both Courtney and Leafs’ astonishment.
“Resist!” Leaf cheered on the wild Pokemon. “Come on!”
“Impossible!” Courtney raged. “You’re failing,” she shouted at the ‘secret weapon’. “You can’t even possess a wild,” she said half out of anger and half of bewilderment. The Cubone placed his hands to his skull and began shaking his head as if to force out the possessor. Leaf’s Pokemon had now surrounded the Gengar and closed in to finish the fight.
“Surrender,” Leaf said triumphantly.
“Never,” Courtney barked and reached into her pocket. The Cubone collapsed through exhaustion but had managed to evade Possession, a feat previously thought impossible by Leaf although by Courtney’s reaction the possessor clearly wasn’t fully competent in the art of Possession just yet. The figure began to retreat up the flight of stairs when he sighted his boss pull a stone from her pocket. The rock was as black as midnight apart from a violet circle housed in its centre.
Gengar’s soul, Leaf realised.
It was a Megastone, an alien rock which could bind a Pokemon’s life within itself and once used on that creature it would unleash cataclysmic levels of power on the soul it harnessed. The Pokemon would violently evolve into a ‘Mega’, an out of control alien creature of unmatched power that would seek to kill or dominate every living thing in sight which included its own trainer. Whilst Leaf had vowed never to use such a stone, Courtney had clearly never made that promise.
A shroud of darkness enclosed on the Gengar as it began the temporary process of mega-evolution that came instead of the bright white light which engulfed a Pokemon during the natural phenomenon. Bright red eyes pierced through the smog before the Mega-Gengar evolved to twice the size it had been originally. Its smile had turned from sinister to savagely crazed and red smoke now covered the creature like a fog.
Feather led the charge. Leaf’s Pidgeotto swooped down towards Courtney’s beast but only succeeded in phasing through the creature who boomed a demonic bellow of laughter at the attempt. Dino lashed out vines whilst Kobra spat venom but both attacks harmlessly vanished within the red smoke. Giggles attempted a psychic strike however the move just deflected off the Mega-Gengars impervious skin. Sap launched spores towards the opponent but again the attack was just soaked up by the red smoke. Fin just turned his tail and bobbed hastily towards the exit where Leaf recalled him to his Pokeball.
“Where’s your gusto now!” Courtney howled with laughter. “You’re going down down down.”
“So are you!” Leaf roared. “Megas don’t listen to humans.”
“That’s why I got this.” Courtney winked then pulled out a design of Pokeball from her pocket that Leaf had never seen before. Normally the capsules were painted white at the bottom and red at the top but this one featured a purple upper region with two red lights affixed to either side. “A masterball! It was made to capture Megas and devolve them inside,” she said and giggled childishly.
“Use it!” Leaf bellowed as her Pokemon were taking it in turns to be smashed about the hall by the Mega-Gengar who combined spectral fists with dark spheres of energy that sapped the life force from her friends. The Cubone had regained his footing and launched into the Mega with a barrage of ineffective blows and met the same fate as the rest of her team when she was swiped away. The ground type flew through the air and bounced twice off the tiled ground before landing at Leaf’s feet.
“Join me,” she leant down to whisper to the Pokemon. “We shall take down Team Rocket together, I promise. But first we need to get out of here.” The Cubone met her eyes and she saw the sorrow and hopelessness within. The wild Pokemon hadn’t just fought for vengeance but also because there was nothing else left for her in this world. Leaf planned to give her a cause and reason to live. The Cubone nodded towards her and in response she opened up the spare Pokeball where the Pokemon she named ‘Club’ hopped inside. The Pokeball zapped into the air and vanished into Storage.
“Surrender,” Courtney teased Leaf with the same words she had used earlier. “Recall your Pokemon.”
“Never,” Leaf stubbornly replied but once seeing her team thrashed around the room by the Mega she began to feel doubt.
“Then they’ll all die!” Courtney declared and her Mega-Gengar approached Dino to administer the killing touch to Leaf’s prone Ivysaur.
“No!” Leaf screamed. “Stop! I surrender! Just stop!”
“Recall them!” Courtney demanded to which Leaf hastily picked each Pokeball off her belt with the exception of Fin’s and began to recall her Pokemon one by one. Once she had done what was demanded of her Courtney then held up her end of the bargain and flung the Masterball towards the Mega-Gengar who was in the process of searching for his next opponent. The capsule summoned the creature within and began to shake violently as the lights morphed from red to yellow. As the shaking subsided the lights then turned to green. “Grunts!” Courtney screamed and in an instant a large score of grunts descended the stairway with haste. “Get her out of her. Imprison her within our base in Celadon.”
Leaf collapsed to her knees and stared at the ground despondently. She had failed once again but this time was even worse by far. She had been captured by Team Rocket.
Wally winced whilst Blue grimaced as darkness descended on Lavender Town once the moon had wrestled controlled of the skies from the evening sun. Moonlight penetrated the clouds and cast an eerie light upon the town where Pokemon still raged in battle. Ten or so Rocket grunts barricaded their path towards Pokemon Tower as a small horde poured out of the burial site, so many that they concealed what was hidden within their midst. Blue’s Pokemon toiled against the Rocket owned creatures that were thrown out in opposition although they were aided by a small section of the townsfolk led by an elderly bald man with wisps of a moustache named Mr. Fuji.
“Back to base,” a grunt that had exited the tower yelled towards the gathered ensemble that formed a wall of black suits before the tower. The men that formed the barrier glanced to one another anxiously then seemed to perform a well organised, staggered retreat to hold off any townsfolk or Resistance members that dared followed the black and purple mass. To the west of Lavender Town lay Route 8 and the only entrance to the pathway of rolling grasslands and low rises lay through a narrow road that cut through a gathering of high rocks like a funnel. The grunt’s Pokemon made their final stand here whilst their trainers fled to Route 8 and blocked the slender pathway.
“Blue,” Wally said sharply. “We need to go inside the Tower and help Leaf.”
“She’s so ugly all those grunts were probably running from her.” Blue laughed to himself to try and force fear from his mind, a foreboding sense of dread had filled him since first sighting the tower, much like it had a few days before when they had reached the lowest levels of the SS. Anne.
“Well if she had chased them out then she’d be right behind the lot of them once they had left,” Wally spoke with concern filling his face. “She’s still inside and we’ve had no sign of her.”
“So we gotta go inside?” Blue gulped. “After you?” He gestured towards his friend to lead the way.
“Never known you to let anyone else go first,” Wally almost chided him then shook his head and jogged towards Pokemon Tower.
Devastation welcomed them. Fallen Pokemon lay sprawled across the floor in a mess of chaos and misery. The only life that remained within the reception hall were from three young trainers who had clearly put up a fight against Team Rocket but had ultimately failed. They now all wept alongside their defeated friends.
“Excuse me,” Wally squeaked as he approached a woman who held a Pikachu within her clutches. “Have you seen our friend Leaf?”
“The girl?” the woman spoke as tears rolled freely down her cheeks. Her Pikachu had clearly fallen recently but whether that was to Rocket, a Megastone, Possession or otherwise Blue couldn’t tell.
“The girl,” Blue confirmed hesitantly. He had scanned the room for any signs of the supernatural but had sighted nothing but death and despair. “She’s not upstairs is she,” he said and gulped once more.
“Rocket-” The lady began to reply then sniffed suddenly. “Took her.”
“Took her?” Wally said and began to panic. “Where? How? What?”
“Wally,” Blue raised his voice in an effort to calm his friend. “Wally,” he repeated when his words had no effect. “Need to be calm mate. We need to track Leaf down and save her before she disappears like Erik.”
“My fault,” Wally began to hyperventilate. “This is my fault.”
“Wally!” Blue shouted for the first time in his life and thus it was almost painful to his throat. “Snap out of it man we need to get her!”
Wally’s face began to turn purple as he gasped for air. Blue could only think of two options now and the first was to strike his friend to try and snap his attention from his panic attack, but he couldn’t bring himself to hurt Wally so took the second choice. He hugged him and told his friend all would be okay. It worked.
“We’ve got to find her,” Wally panted. “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s not your fault mate,” Blue released his friend and felt dirty at being so affectionate towards another. “Rocket have been ahead of us at every turn.”
“They’ll have vanished by now,” the lady spoke again. “Whenever someone sees Rocket round here they always disappear so quickly.”
“What do we do?” Wally asked as tears filled his eyes through the hopelessness he was clearly feeling.
“We’ll save her. We’ll find a way. Her and Erik. We’ll save them both,” Blue promised as anger filled him like fire. This wasn’t Wally’s failure, he felt. It was his failure. He vowed he would atone for his mistakes.
Silver tapped incessantly at the marble table. He grumbled at the thought of a second meeting in the space of just under a week. He hated them. He hated seeing the gathered audience beg for praise from his father like hounds wanting a pat on the head. He hated seeing his father act like some sort of deity and the suits afore him treating him as such. But most of all he hated the fact that the praise he received for his work during the SS. Anne operation had quickly vanished because only yesterday Courtney had captured another key member of the Resistance forces.
“Leaf Fuguri is being held captive within the cellars of our headquarters in Celadon City,” Giovanni announced to the hounds. Silver knew he referred to the Game Corner in the sprawling market city of Celadon. A Rocket owned casino which contained two layers of basement hidden underground where Giovanni laundered finances. The operation was a huge source of income for Team Rocket.
“I did it, did it, did it,” Courtney sang to Giovanni’s amusement. “Like Erik and Raven now Leaf the craven will join…’em,” she began and messed up her lyrics as she always did. Silver yearned to tell her to be silent but knew the back of his father’s hand awaited him if he dared speak unless first spoken to during his meetings. He was there as a figurehead within the organisation although he knew his father one day wished that he would assist his first son, affectionately known as Kai, in one day leading the organisation. But Kai was gone and never coming back.
“We have three options here,” Giovanni went on. “Ransom her back to the Resistance. But I would assume that firstly they lack the funds we’d require and secondly any finances they do manage to muster would be negligible to our organisation.”
“Boo!” Courtney hissed playfully. “Next option!” she shouted.
“The second option is to pair her off with Erik, our other captured member of the Resistance. But again that raises two problems. Firstly, she lacks Erik’s willpower and capability. Secondly, we have other plans for Hoenn’s Champion.”
“Oooh!” Courtney goaded him. “So we need option three!” she summarised. Silver sighed at her stupidity.
“Which is,” Giovanni smiled at his wife then carried on from her. “To lay a trap for the Resistance. A false negotiation.”
“Yes!” Courtney squealed. Silver sensed the other members of the audience being mildly amused by the woman whilst others were perplexed at how she was able to get away with such insolence. “Because she’s his darling wife,” he groaned inside his mind.
“Archer will draw them out,” Giovanni spoke of Kanto’s false mayor. “He will deliver a speech in Lavender Town saying how he is sorry for the uproar and will hunt down Team Rocket.” A few members of the audience sniggered at this. Silver glared at them. “Some of the Resistance will surely be in attendance and our illustrious mayor will be informed of their identities. They will then be approached and offered the chance at a negotiation for the release of Leaf.”
“Oh but then what?” Courtney’s smile gleamed from cheek to cheek. “I come in and finish the job?!” She cupped her hands to her mouth in feigned surprise.
“Not this time, my dear,” Giovanni spoke softly to her. He was always a completely different man to his wife than anyone else as if he channeled the tiny part of himself that was still human towards her, Silver guessed. “No, we shall taint their drinks using poison extracted from twenty Ekans, venom deadly enough to kill a man five times over,” he said coldly. “We shall finish the Resistance once and for all!” A loud cheer of approval roared across the room at these words.
“Hounds,” Silver thought. “All of them. Pathetic Dogs.” He then thought of Kai, his elder half-brother. “Where are you now?” he questioned himself. “My father’s greatest secret. Only him and I know the truth though. Oh, and Professor Oak, of course.”