Chapter Sixteen – The Last Angel
A silver robe covered her, shrouding her face. She floated above the volcano atop her Pidgeot and stared down upon the chaos of battle which took place on the rim of the volcano’s mouth.
“Lyra,” Leaf said, her voice like a hiss at the woman on her who hovered above the chaos on her Pidgeot. A shrill cry of pain distracted Leaf from the glare of resentment she held on her mother. The Moltres had been wounded by a large rock thrown by Ethan’s Golem and the Servant’s cheered as feathers rained from the sky towards them. They’d only need one to open Cerulean Cave, and the legendary Pokemon with yellow feathers tipped by fire and a long slender body with an enormous thin beak had just spilled dozens of the objects.
Leaf rushed up the side of the volcano. It was steep and the stone ground crumbled in places as she climbed whilst a foreboding feeling swept her. She knew she was too late.
“Leaf!” Ethan called down, having noticed her climbing the mountain side. “Just in time.”
A swarm of Servants stood with and around him, circling the opening of the volcano where the Moltres flew above, the awe-inspiring creature seemingly guarded the landmark. There must have been the entirety of the Servant’s members present.
Leaf ignored Ethan’s calls and was still unsure as to her plan of action once she had reached the summit. If she just released her Pokemon to battle the entire army of Servants she’d surely be defeated and there was no way of talking them down. She could try to steal the feather and fly away but it would be tightly guarded and Lyra’s Pidgeot would catch her. As she ascended higher she could think of no other way. She’d have to improvise once she had reached the Servants and Ethan.
The Moltres screeched a painful cry of desperation and twirled its slender frame to avoid a rock then blasted flame from its mouth towards a Golbat used by a Servant. The legendary Pokemon fought powerfully and admirably but was slowly being overwhelmed by the weight of sheer numbers.
Leaf knew of the so-called “legendary” Pokemon. They were creatures who could not be caught in any conventional way as they’d escape from Pokeballs with ease but instead had to be tamed, like dragon-type Pokemon. To tame one, a trainer would have to earn their respect by impressing the legendary, or dragon type, with the bonds between their Pokemon, prowess in battle and the strength of their mind and soul. To tame a dragon was difficult, but to tame a legendary was said to be almost impossible.
“Wait!” Leaf shouted towards the Servants who ignored her calls. “You’ve got the feathers, why are you still attacking it?!” There were only a handful of legendary Pokemon in existence and if the Servants had obtained two feather’s from both Articuno and Zapdos, then those Pokemon must have also then been defeated by the group. Leaving even fewer legendaries still alive.
“The Angels must fall so we can release Him!” a Servant said in reply to her.
All of a sudden, Lyra screamed. Then the Servants entered a mass panic, unsure of what to do. Leaf herself froze and considered what was about to happen, because Ethan had pulled an empty Megastone from his pocket. Leaf considered whether a Megastone would work on a legendary, but seeing how Lyra had crafted one using the alien rock and whatever else specifically for Mewtwo then the Servant’s leader could have made at least one more.
“What are you doing?!” Lyra screamed to Ethan. “We need-” she began, then she noticed her daughter. Leaf met her mother’s gaze and scowled before charging at Ethan in an attempt to stop him whilst Servants stood motionless around the Volcano, still unsure what action they should take.
Once again, Leaf was too late. Ethan had hopped upon one of the Servant’s Pidgeotto and flew towards the legendary beast before leaping onto the Moltres and pressing the Megastone onto its back.
“With this Mega I shall have my revenge upon Rocket for destroying my hometown!” he called as a dark shroud engulfed the Moltres who screeched in pure agony as the process of Mega-evolution took hold.
“We planned to do this together with Mewtwo!” Lyra called but received no reply, so she steered her Pidgeot downwards.
Leaf watched in frozen horror as the black mist dissipated from around the Moltres.
Ethan appeared lifeless from his short time in the shroud and tumbled from the legendary Pokemon’s back to plummet into the volcano. A chilling screech sounded from the Mega-Moltres who was now at almost twice the size of a man with crimson eyes and claws like knives protruding from its feet. Instead of a beautiful orange flame kindling at the tips of its feathers, the fires had now turned black and its feathers a much paler shade of yellow.
The beast swatted aside swarms of Golbats and Pidgeotto as if they were harmless insects whereas previously the plethora of Servant owned Pokemon had caused it significant harm. Mega-Moltres then burst out blue flames towards Ethan’s Golem who was incinerated by the fire. Leaf moved her hand towards her belt but squealed in surprise as she was grabbed and lifted from her feet. She found herself soaring upwards and being dragged up into the air to look down at the volcano and the massacre occuring on the rim of its open mouth. She then felt a hand grab her and began to hoist her upwards until she was on the back of a Pidgeot and alongside her mother, Lyra.
“What have you done?” Leaf said, her voice weak and strained.
“This wasn’t the plan,” Lyra replied, her face anxious.
“The plan was to mega-evolve a powerful Pokemon,” Leaf accused her. “Mewtwo or Moltres, the result is the same.”
“Servants!” Lyra bellowed, ignoring her daughter. “Lead your Pokemon down into the volcano,” she cried as the Mega-Moltres turned to face both herself and Leaf.
“It’s going to attack us,” Leaf said and felt fear pulsing through her whilst all the Servant’s Pokemon entered the volcano and disappeared within, pelting the Mega-Moltres with ineffectual attacks as they descended into the dark depths. Despite these forlorn strikes against the legendary Pokemon being little more than an annoyance to the Mega-Moltres, the beast fell for Lyra’s cunning ploy and swooped down within the volcano where the pits of lava lay.
“Close your eyes,” Lyra said to Leaf. “You shouldn’t see this.”
“See what?” Leaf said, confused as to Lyra’s plan.
“Cinnabar Island was where it all began,” her mother replied. “And where many lives now end.”
“What?” Leaf said and heard the explosion at first. A world-shaking sound which signalled the start of a scene more terrible than Leaf had ever seen. A Mega-evolved Pokemon may be strong, almost indomitable, but loses the part of it which makes it a living being. The survival instinct and intelligence of a creature which seeks more than power and dominance. Lyra was an expert in the area and Leaf guessed that her mother would know that a Mega would seek out the most powerful foe it could in order to dominate or destroy it and seeing a horde of Pokemon grouped together in a volcano was a temptation it couldn’t resist. But the creature was so powerful that once it unleashed its unstoppable blue flames combined with the pits full of lava, it would blow the volcano.
Leaf watched in horror as shards of rock shattered across the island and crushed homes. She watched the lava pour from the volcanic ruins and smear the island and its inhabitants in ruin whilst smoke choked the life from the land. The cataclysmic devastation that Lyra and Ethan had unleashed was more than enough to destroy the Mega-Moltres within its destructive grasp. But it was at the cost of Cinnabar Island and all her Servants and their Pokemon. And Lyra seemed not in the least bit concerned.
“They’ve all served their purpose,” Lyra said coldly, holding three feathers and an empty Megastone in her hands. Leaf was too shocked to answer.
“I saved you because you are my daughter,” Lyra said once her Pidgeot had landed in Cerulean City. The cave where Mewtwo was held lay within eyesight. “But that is my last favour to you. I recommend that you now leave Kanto or you fall to my Mewtwo. Either way, the choice is yours.” She turned to walk away from Leaf and undressed from her silver robe to unveil a skin hugging black dress.
“How,” Leaf spoke for the first time since the explosion which Cinnabar Island had perished under. “How could you?”
“Because, my naive little daughter, Team Rocket destroyed me and this is my way of returning the act.”
“All those people-”
“Are necessary sacrifices.”
“You’ve lost your mind,” Leaf said and felt her body tremble with fury. “But you were never religious? Why? How can you-”
“You were always so slow to catch on,” Lyra interrupted her. “I could never hope to get the three feathers, hold off Rocket, damage Giovanni’s operations, unleash Mewtwo and defeat three legendary Pokemon by myself. Especially as I was exiled from Kanto. So I found people who had had their lives destroyed by Giovanni and Team Rocket and gave them a new hope, a religious hope. They believed they were exacting their revenge on Team Rocket whilst striving towards a better life. They were hopeless and desperate and I gave them back that hope along with a purpose.”
“It can’t have been that easy to persuade all those people,” Leaf said, surprised.
“But it was. So many of Kanto’s population are oppressed and even more in Johto now Rocket armies moved into there. Like Ethan for example, Team Rocket burned down his home.”
“But people believe that Rocket and the government are separate, don’t they?”
“Not all. Especially when I provide them with undisputable evidence.”
“Is this your Lord Raven’s plan? Did you free him from Rocket’s prison?”
“No,” Lyra said quickly. Leaf gulped and felt her stomach sink, somehow she believed her. “This is my revenge. Giovanni destroyed me, now I destroy him.”
“You used me too,” Leaf realised. “And my friends. You used the Resistance to further your goals.”
“I did the same to you as I did with the Servants. Used your hatred of Team Rocket for my own gains. Now you see why so many people so easily followed my made up religion.”
Leaf wanted to stop her mother. She wanted to strike her or unleash her Pokemon upon her. But her body refused to listen to her commands. She trembled as the shock of Cinnabar’s demise paralysed her movements. “Please,” she managed to say. “Don’t unleash Mewtwo.”
Her mother laughed at that. “Why not?”
“For me,” Leaf begged. “Please. We are so close to stopping Rocket.”
“No you’re not,” Lyra snapped. “And without mine and Ethan’s help you’re even further away.”
“Please,” she begged then an idea came to her. “Give me time. You have everything you need now. Just give me time even if it’s to escape Kanto. Let me try and stop Rocket and save my friends who are held captive. And if I can’t then let me get myself and my friends out of Kanto.”
Her mother looked at her for a second and for that small moment Leaf thought she saw some humanity in those dark eyes. “Fine,” she said. “You have until tomorrow night. But I’m unleashing Mewtwo no matter what. These two days are for you to rescue your captive friends and escape Kanto.”
“Why?” was the only word Leaf could manage to say.
“Because I love you,” her mother said softly to Leaf’s surprise. “Now get out of here.”
Leaf turned to walk away, to where she had not the slightest clue. She looked at her PokeNav and the time showed 14:09. Then when all hope had been lost a shining beacon pierced through the fog of her desolation in the form of a phone call from Okaido Oak.
“Leaf,” he said with a voice strained by sorrow. “I know where he is.”
Medical instruments lay upon a table which was swathed in dim light. Enormous containers like giant test tubes which contained Pokemon held in stasis took up the furthest part of the room along with a plethora of machines which hummed quietly.
Silver use cleaning solution to spray a spot of dirt upon one of the pearl-white machines which only added to the smell of bleach which lingered within the room, which was more of a makeshift laboratory. A laboratory used to house the man who sat tied to a chair and had been subjected to yet more experimentation at the behest of Silver’s father, Giovanni. Silver himself didn’t administer the so called ‘surgery’, but was left to oversee the room and ‘keep it clean’. By that his father had meant to keep the subject in good health but Silver instead had played ignorant. He wanted no part in his father’s “Project Union” so instead he cleaned the room and kept the patient’s sanity by treating them as if they were still human.
“Still silent?” Silver said to the patient who hadn’t spoken in weeks. Not since he had delivered that soul crushing news which had turned the subject from indomitably defiant to hopeless and willing.
Silver moved over to the subject who had tubes connecting his veins to the machines like wires and crouched down slightly so his eyes were at a level with his. He studied the young man’s face. The silent subject’s once blue eyes were now rimmed in shadow and almost red in colour, full of rage and darkness. The effect of combining a human with the power of a Megastone along with trying to give him the abilities possessed only by Pokemon. This was Giovanni’s “Project Union”, his masterplan he kept so quiet from everyone apart from himself, his son and the man who applied the experiments, Bill.
Bill had been useful to Silver before in a ploy to gain the Resistance’s trust but was another who had been broken by Giovanni so that the Team Rocket boss could usher his control over the scientific genius. It also allowed Team Rocket access to Storage, which was why they could obtain so many Pokemon so quickly. Rocket left the Resistance’s held Pokemon alone however, so that Leaf and her friends wouldn’t catch on and attempt to take back Storage.
“I released Lord Raven,” Silver revealed to the patient. He had spilled his thoughts to the silent subject over time knowing that the man hated Giovanni possibly even more than he did. “I wanted to prove it could be done. I wanted to show myself that I’m capable of rebelling against my father.” The subject locked eyes with Silver for a moment then looked swiftly away. He was a defeated man but full of rage and Silver feared him more than even his own father. The patient wasn’t only incredibly powerful after being subjected to Project Union, he had a burning hatred for anything and everything related to Giovanni.
“Look,” Silver said. “I can’t do this anymore. Especially now that my father has reunited with Okaido, his favourite son. I’ll be cast out and left for dead.” The man looked at him once more but showed no signs of comprehension. “You may know Okaido as Blue Oak,” Silver said to help his thoughts. The man nodded simply then lowered his head once more.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t stop them,” Silver blurted. “He was a good kid,” he said, referring to the incident which broke the patient. “I tried, I swear. But my father planned it all. He wanted to break you and knew this was how to do so. You were his secret Project Union all along and the only way to achieve his goal was to plan the death of Wally.”
The man looked at him at the mention of the name. Silver saw his eyes flicker with signs of hatred, disgust and even a little sadness.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t stop them, Erik,” Silver said to him. “But to make amends, how about we strike a deal?” He spoke at length of his plan with Erik and when he stopped the broken man looked directly into his eyes, then nodded.
“Blue don’t do-” Daisy began but Okaido had already dialled the number to his grandfather’s Rocket contact at exactly 14:00.
“Hello,” the man said at the other end of the line.
“Hello,” Okaido replied. “It’s Okaido Razzo.”
“Giovanni said to expect this call,” the man replied. “The name is Nigel, I operate the Test Centre.” Okaido paused for a moment. So Giovanni had been so sure that he would join their side.
“I wish to join Team Rocket,” Okaido said,” and fulfill my father’s legacy. I wish to join his side and be the heir to his empire, as is my right and desire as his eldest son.”
“It is indeed!” Nigel boomed.
“I’m told we only have one base of operations left,” Okaido said quickly. He was sweating nervously at the enormousness of his act. “So I’m guessing that’s where my father will be?”
“Indeed!” Nigel boomed again.
“I guess my old friend Erik is being held there too,” he said and laughed nervously.
“So?” Okaido snapped, trying to imitate his father’s distaste for someone not getting to the point of the matter. “Where am I to meet my father? Where is our final base of operation?”
“Why right here!” Nigel responded ecstatically.
“At the Test Centre?” Okaido gasped. “That’s Rocket’s base of operations? I thought it was just secretly owned by my father and used as a means of obtaining new Rocket recruits. Not used as a base?”
“As I tell my examinees,” Nigel replied. “The most obvious answer is sometimes the correct one!”
Okaido slammed the phone down. After all this time, after all the searching and travelling the region to find where Erik was being held. He was where it had all began, in that Test Centre where he had initially been captured. Okaido rapidly dialled Leaf’s number into his PokeNav. The pressure of the events that had recently transpired had tortured his soul and left him emotionally fragile. But now he was going to reunite with his father. The PokeNav clicked as the call connected.
“Leaf,” he said with a voice strained by sorrow. “I know where he is.”