There is some drug use and bloody violence in this chapter, just a warning.
CHAPTER 12: Alekhine’s Gun
In the dark alley within Goldenrod City’s southern slum, Pierce led Giovanni, Ariana, Jessie and James to a hidden doorway. Once inside the building, he brought them to the top floor and stopped just outside of a closed room.
“Giovanni, Ariana, right this way,” Pierce said as he inserted a key into the door and opened it.
Giovanni nodded to Pierce and entered the room, followed in similar fashion by the others. Pierce closed and relocked the door once they were all inside.
The base Pierce had spoken of was, in actuality a mostly empty storage area. Three laptop computers were set up on some tables at the end of the room, where three other people were waiting. Jessie and James hung back, their faces glistening with nerve-induced sweat.
“Giovanni, sir!” the older of the two women happily said. Her age was given away by the streaks of gray in her thick, dark green hair, but she was also bound to a sophisticated computerized wheelchair. Using a trackpad located next to the red digital keyboard on her right armrest, she maneuvered herself up to Giovanni. “Good to see you all here in one piece. We’ve gotten the base together, as ordered.” She took an ornate pipe and lighter out of the pocket on her floral-necked lab coat, then lit the pipe and deeply inhaled from it before adding, “It’s a modest affair, I know, but it serves its purpose.”
“Rosalie, what of the Meteonite?”
Before Rosalie could answer Giovanni’s question, Jessie and James jumped in front of him and interrupted. The worry they both felt was overwhelming, and when added to how close they both felt to what they wanted, they were both left fighting back tears in front of their superiors.
“Boss, please forgive us, but we can’t wait anymore!”
James immediately continued Jessie’s thought by saying, “Meowth has been missing for too long! Do you three know where he is?!”
Giovanni clenched his fist, but calmed when Ariana grabbed his arm.
“Don’t get mad at them, it’s not worth it. They just miss their teammate… which is understandable.”
Rosalie smiled warmly. “My, my, you’re quite eager, aren’t you? Luckily, I think I have some good news. Trevor, Ada, come here.”
Responding to the scientist’s gesture, the other two Team Rocket members who had been waiting with her approached. Both of them were wearing black variations of Stacia’s uniform, complete with the same parallel columns of gold buttons on the chests. Trevor wore pants and boots with his uniform while Ada wore a one-piece, knee-length dress and sneakers.
“Go ahead and tell them what we got,” Rosalie directed after a moment of Jessie and James just staring eagerly up at them.
“W-well…” Ada shyly said. Out of nervousness, she scratched at her sky-blue hair as she spoke. “…Team Rocket has… someone on the inside of Polaris. Based on what he’s told us… Meowth is somewhere in this city.”
“Is that really true?”
Amused by Jessie and James’s passion for saving Meowth, Trevor laughed and brushed some of his long brown hair from his face. “It’s called the Purine Base, apparently. We know that it’s one of Polaris’s major facilities and that it’s in this very city, but we don’t know exactly where. Apparently, the exact location is kept a secret even from Polaris’s members.”
“It would stand to reason that they also took the Meteonite there,” Ariana concluded, disgust evident on her face and in her voice. “If we find Meowth, we find the Meteonite.”
“Correct, Executive Ariana,” Rosalie confirmed. “We know that wherever the Purine Base in Goldenrod City is, Polaris has definitely taken both Meowth and the Meteonite there.”
“Then we should find out where they are, march right in and take what belongs to us!” Jessie boldly proposed. She accentuated her point by balling up her fist and striking it against her chest.
“Patience.” Trevor urged, before smirking mischievously. “We’re working on a plan for when all our forces are ready, but mark my words, we will look for Polaris, we will find them, and we will beat them.”
“W-we can’t b-be… too reckless. Polaris is… already planning something in this city.”
“Do explain,” Giovanni ordered.
Rosalie took a long drag from her pipe and exhaled the smoke, then entered a command into her wheelchair’s computer. A red-and-black digital screen was projected in front of her, and an intense look filled her somewhat-bloodshot eyes as she looked at it.
“A post went up on the Polaris website,” she explained. “It says that a ‘day of the people’ will take place in Goldenrod City in three days… well, two, once midnight passes… and it will include a speech presented live in person by Ghetsis’s deputy Zinzolin. We suspect they might be planning to use the public protest as a cover for some other deed.”
Giovanni did not respond right away. Instead, he walked across the room to a large chair that was set up near a wide window, sat down, and leaned to his side as he thought.
“I agree,” he finally said, “they’re likely using it as a distraction. We can try to implement our own operation to derail theirs. Rosalie, Ada, Trevor, keep gathering intelligence from our man on the inside while we wait for our remaining field agents.”
“Yes, sir!” all three of them responded.
“What about us, dear Boss?” James asked, resisting the urge to fall to his knees and beg.
“You two will wait here,” he rumbled dramatically. “I have a very specific job in mind for you.”
On the eastern end of Azalea Town, a short distance from both the main population and the town’s entrance, stood the Slowpoke Well. While on the surface it merely seemed to be an unassuming stone tube piercing the earth, at the bottom of the well was an expansive cave, the environment of the Pokémon that loaned the well its name.
The next morning, having recovered from her sudden bout of illness the night before, Olivia had gone to the Slowpoke Well with Silver, looking to capture Pokémon. It was home to more than just Slowpoke, and she had found a Pokémon she wanted to catch. Silver stood back, leaning against a wall and watching as Olivia battled the Pokémon with her Roselia. She overwhelmed it quite quickly and threw a Poké Ball at it, at which point she could only stand by and watch as the ball shook on the ground.
“Come on…” she thought, clenching her fists and teeth. “I have to get more Pokémon if I’m going to get anywhere!”
The Poké Ball pinged just then, almost as if it was responding to Olivia’s pleas. She didn’t react right away, instead, she simply stared at the now-still sphere, letting what had happened sink in.
“I… I actually got another Pokémon…” she uttered, slipping to her knees behind Roselia. Tears briefly welled up in her eyes as she realized that it was the first Pokémon she had captured after finding out the truth about her father. A feeling of confusion came over her, and it didn’t go away even when Roselia tried to hug her leg.
“It’s just capturing a Pokémon…” Silver said as he walked up to her. “I don’t understand why you’re so worked up over it.”
“Sentimental value!” Olivia shot back. “The Pokémon I caught before this was… I caught it while being driven by something I don’t have anymore. This is really the first time I’ve caught a Pokémon for myself and not for my dad…”
“I will never understand the attachment someone like you gets to a father figure,” he harshly stated. “I have no need to be seen as worthy in my father’s eyes, and if you ask me, you should get over it too.”
“Shut up! What right have you got to tell me what to do? My dad meant everything to me and now he’s completely gone!”
Silver opened his mouth to answer, but didn’t speak a word before he froze. After remaining still for a moment, he sharply lashed his head around, listening for something.
“Collect your Pokémon and come here,” he whispered. “I heard something. Someone’s here.”
Olivia quickly heeded Silver’s advice, picking up the Poké Ball containing her new Pokémon and returning Roselia to her own. Once she moved up alongside Silver, she quietly asked, “What’s going on?”
“I heard someone moving around. Be careful.”
Silver stepped out from the wall and took several paces forward, intending to peer down a nearby tunnel to see if he could make anything out. However, as soon as he reached the tunnel, someone came running out and collided with him.
“What are you...” Silver froze when he saw who he was looking at – a man wearing a black uniform that bore a red ‘R’ insignia. Almost instantly, his mood turned to pure rage. “You, Proton!”
Proton initially reacted with surprise to his encountering Silver, stepping back with a wide-eyed look on his face. He quickly shifted to a more sarcastic tone, however, with his expression changing to a manic grin to match.
“Well, well, look who the Meowth dragged in!” Proton chuckled menacingly. “It’s the return of the prodigal son!”
“Shut it!” Silver growled, sweeping his arm before himself. “Tell me what he’s got you doing here right now!”
“Maybe you should go ask your daddy yourself. I’m sure he’d like to see you!”
“Silver, what’s going on?” demanded Olivia. She felt her stomach beginning to turn.
“Nothing you need to get involved in,” Silver answered through clenched teeth while arming himself with one of his Poké Balls. “Get out of here. Go find Looker and tell him what’s happening.”
Proton shrugged and turned up his hands. He hadn’t immediately noticed Olivia, but her presence barely fazed him. “So sorry, little lady, looks like you just got stuck in the middle of this. Thank Silver for getting you caught in the sights of the scariest and cruelest guy in Team Rocket!”
Before either Olivia or Silver could react, Proton opened one of his own Poké Balls, releasing a Shuckle. Much like his trainer, the Shuckle wore a crazed, menacing look.
“Hold her down, Shuckle! Wrap!”
Taking aim squarely at Olivia, Proton’s Shuckle reared back and shot his front legs from his shell like tentacles. Repulsed by the idea of even being touched, she recoiled and started to run, but a huge shape towering over her shielded her from Shuckle’s grasp.
“Feraligatr,” Silver shouted over Olivia’s gasp, “Ice Punch!”
Using his right arm, Feraligatr delivered a forceful chop strengthened by freezing air to the tentacles wrapped around his left. Shuckle recoiled from the chill and pulled his legs back into his shell.
“Tch… giving us a hard time like always, Silver?” Proton spat, his face curling in disgust.
“More like beating you and taking you down again!” Quickly turning to look at Olivia over his shoulder, Silver again yelled, “Go! Get out of here and go get Looker!”
Olivia wanted to run, but she found her body slow to respond to her mental commands due to her fear in the moment. The only immediate response available to her was to back up slowly and just try to put some distance between herself and the danger.
Proton laughed, his sadistic grin returning. “Boy, Silver, aren’t you a hero? Some hero when you don’t even bother telling her how close she really is to us!”
“Go!” Silver roared at Olivia, ignoring Proton’s mocking.
Olivia’s mind and body finally clicked together, allowing her to turn and run. As she fled she could hear the crashes and explosions of an unfolding battle behind her, but she could not pay much attention to it. She just knew she had to get away as quickly as possible.
“The Pokémon World Tournament is soon to begin!” the stout, thick-browed man on the Azalea Town Pokémon Center’s television announced. “ Pokémon Trainers from all around the world are gathering here at the Realgam Tower in Orre, and I, Freddy the Scoop, will be there to bring you all the exciting action!”
The lobby of the Pokémon Center was fairly empty that morning. Azalea Town wasn’t often visited by large amounts of traffic, instead, it was usually the case that only a few trainers at a time would come for their Hive Badges and leave as soon as they got them. Only a small handful of people, including the nurse, were in the lobby while Matt, Looker and Nikolai were there watching television and drinking coffee.
“It makes me happy…” Nikolai mumbled, staring at the screen.
Shifting his gaze sideways to look at Matt, Nikolai answered, “…that Pokémon can bring people together over such distances. I want the world to be a place where people and Pokémon can grow together through their interactions with each other. That’s my ideal formula…”
“I can appreciate that. I mean…” Matt noticed Looker staring intensely at the two of them, but didn’t pay it much attention. “…if that kind of thing came to pass, perhaps it would be therapeutic to Olivia’s mind. I’ve noticed that she really opens up when Pokémon are involved.”
“So where is Olivia, anyway?” Matt and Nikolai’s conversation was interrupted by Nekou swaggering in, with yet another beer can in her hand despite the early hour. She sipped at it, then continued, “I expected her to be out here with you.”
“So you finally woke up, huh?” Matt said with a wry grin. “Don’t worry about her. She felt better after last night, so she went with Silver to the Slowpoke Well to catch a new Pokémon.”
“The… Slowpoke Well?” In an instant, the cool, flippant attitude present in Nekou’s expression evaporated, giving way to a hardened, dismayed look. “With Silver?”
“Yeah, when she brought up the idea, I didn’t want her to go alone but I did want her to strike out on her own a bit. Looker was the one that suggested Silver go with her.”
“But… the Slowpoke Well? What made you think that **** was a good idea?”
Matt shrugged. “It’s open to the public, so she’s not going anywhere she shouldn’t. What’s the worst that could happen?”
As if on cue, at literally the moment Matt closed his mouth, the Pokémon Center’s doors slid open and Olivia came crashing through.
“Matt!” she screamed out, not realizing where her group was yet. “Nekou! Mister Looker!”
Nekou immediately pitched her beer can into a nearby garbage pail with great skill, then hurried to Olivia. The three men were left standing behind her, confused and worried about what had upset her.
“Olivia, calm down!” Nekou implored her young friend, who collapsed into her arms. “Tell me what happened!”
“I… I caught a new Pokémon… but then we ran into him…”
“Who is ‘him?’” Matt questioned, not noticing how Nekou shuddered upon Olivia’s revelation.
“And Silver, what is the location of his being currently?”
“It was a man called Proton, who was wearing a Team Rocket uniform. Silver knew him, I think. He tried to capture me when we ran into him but Silver stayed behind to battle him.”
“If the Team Rocket has started some sort of operation of sorts,” Looker pondered while holding his chin, “it is being my duty as an International Police agent elite in rank to stop it!”
Stopping only to shoot Nekou a brief, venomous glare, Looker sprinted for the door, leaving Matt, Olivia, Nekou and Nikolai no choice but to leave their coffee behind and follow.
Bright, blazing sunlight greeted them as they reached the outdoors, forcing them to try and hastily adjust their vision. Having gotten outside first, Looker got used to the morning sun before any of the others, and ran off to the east while shouting nonsensically about Team Rocket. The others were able to follow him after a brief moment.
As soon as the stone entrance to the Slowpoke Well came into view, it became clear that the conflict had escalated. Proton had fled to the surface with Silver in pursuit, and the two were now fighting out in the open. Silver’s Feraligatr had just delivered a finishing blow to Proton’s Shuckle, and having recalled his Pokémon, Proton was starting to flee using a jetpack strapped to his back.
Just as his jetpack’s rockets ignited, Proton caught sight of Looker. Shooting the detective a sarcastic grin, he saluted and yelled, “Missed me again, didn’t you?”
“Stop! International Police!”
“Oh, come the **** on!” Nekou groaned in exasperation. “You seriously think that he’ll stop for that?”
Proton lifted into the air and, without hesitation, turned to Ilex Forest to the west and began to fly off.
Silver, however, would have none of it, even as Matt, Looker and the others just watched the Rocket Executive flee. “Feraligatr, shoot him down, right now!” he shouted, pointing at Proton. “Dragon Pulse!”
Locking his gaze onto the shrinking figure in the sky, Feraligatr opened his mouth as widely as his large jaw would allow. A cluster of blue light took shape just within, which within seconds fired like a cannon of energy. The attack managed to hit Proton with pinpoint accuracy, and though none of the group could hear him swearing his luck, they were able to see his jetpack fail, sending him falling into the forest.
“What are you all waiting for?!” Silver demanded, recalling Feraligatr as soon as his work was done. “Let’s go after him! I’m sure that’s not a problem for any of you, is it?”
Silver didn’t wait for an answer to his question. He just turned and ran, his body overflowing with more than enough energy to run all the way across Azalea Town and into Ilex Forest. Matt, Olivia, Looker and Nikolai all followed immediately while Nekou brought up the rear, scowling viciously all the while.
In his laboratory, Dr. Zager was frantically entering commands into his computer while Galvantula skittered around in the background, alarmed by the sound of his voice.
“Proton? Proton, come in!” Overcome by frustration, Zager slammed his fist down on his desk. “Of all the times to lose communication...”
Returning to the thermal imaging of Ilex Forest, the scientist found himself unable to do much more than stare at the readouts it displayed. Since the night before, multiple bursts matching the signature of Meteonite energy had been detected there, but there was something else, another kind of energy flowing through the area that truly put his nerves on edge. He kept watching the time-lapse reading of the forest over and over, searching for an answer he wasn’t sure was there.
Even though it was the middle of a clear morning, Ilex Forest was still a gloomy place. The one saving grace that the group had was the availability of a long but clear and distinct path to follow. The relatively small number of travelers that came through the area were still enough to convey the need for a road; without it, the forest would be nearly impossible to pass through.
“He’s got to be nearby here,” Silver said. “He didn’t get far into the forest before I shot him down.”
“Pardon me for chiming in, but maybe it would help to have a Pokémon search? You have a Gengar, as I recall.”
Silver was caught by surprise by Matt’s suggestion, but he thought about it and quickly realized that the idea was a smart one. After removing Gengar’s Poké Ball from his belt, Silver opened it, releasing the ghost. Gengar grinned widely and laughed, happy to be doing something.
“Gengar, look through this immediate area for a man wearing a Team Rocket uniform,” the red-haired trainer directed. “If you find him, bring us to him immediately.”
Gengar nodded and said his name to confirm that he understood what Silver wanted him to do, then drifted off into the woods. However, Silver let out an angry sigh and sharply turned to his companions.
“I could use a little help, you know. I don’t expect it from all of you but I’m sure at least one of you will put in the effort.”
“You know, you could just say please,” Olivia muttered, though she did let her Minccino out. Almost immediately, the Normal-type Pokémon fretted about cleaning up some nearby leaves using her tail.
“For as rude as he was happening to be behaving in the manner of, Silver does occur to have a point,” Looker commented. “Matt, what Pokémon have you got in possession on your person?”
“Right now? I’m carrying Heatran, Sigilyph, Eelektrik, Golurk, Roggenrola and Drilbur.”
“A Psychic-type ought to be of use…” Nikolai listlessly said.
“And she can fly, too. I agree.” Matt reached into his bag, intending to take out the Poké Ball containing Ayingott, his Sigilyph.
Just as he put his hand on it, though, an unexpected interruption broke in. A loudly-screeching horde of Zubat and Hoothoot, numbering about thirteen total, emerged from the trees. The Hoothoot had dull, tired looks in their eyes, and despite having no eyes to share it, the Zubat were carrying themselves in the same agitated manner.
“Look at their eyes,” Nekou growled, “or at least the Hoothoot, anyway. And nocturnal Pokémon out in the daytime?”
“Are you suggesting what I think you are?” Matt asked without looking at her.
“Yeah, I am. They’re under Meteonite influence, just like all those other Pokémon… like the ones in Union Cave.”
“I can feel something influencing their minds…” added Nikolai, standing with his arms spread.
Some of the Zubat and Hoothoot took notice of Olivia’s Minccino sitting on the ground before them and became even more angered. Before she even realized what was happening, she found herself being targeted by multiple Air Cutter and Night Shade attacks.
“Stop those with Swift!” Olivia quickly commanded.
Minccino lashed her tail forward, spraying a wave of stars to shield herself. Most of the white and purple energy waves coming her way were dispelled, but a few still got through. She was only struck by the Air Cutters, though, as she was immune to the Ghost-type Night Shades. Scratched in several places and dirty from the dust kicked up around her, she fled back to the safety of Olivia’s arms.
“Minccino, it’s okay…” she whispered to her Pokémon, gently stroking Minccino’s head.
“I’ll take care of this. Ayingott, make your mark!”
The Sigilyph burst from the Poké Ball she was contained within. Right away, she noticed the injured Minccino in Olivia’s arms and realized the Zubat and Hoothoot were to blame. She confronted the gang by angrily chirping at them, but they were too far gone under the Meteonite’s influence to fully notice.
They did, however, perceive Ayingott as a threat. The Hoothoot hung back while the Zubat encircled her, preparing to attack.
“Ayingott, that’s nothing to you! Wipe them all out with Psychic!”
Much to Matt’s surprise, Ayingott hesitated. She didn’t wait for long, but it was enough that Matt and the others noticed. When she attacked, she used her psychic power to surround all of the Zubat with blue light before tossing them away.
Nikolai stepped up alongside Matt, but didn’t look at him, instead covering his eyes with his hat. “I sense that your Sigilyph is unhappy with something. Not you, but… there is something weighing on its mind.”
Matt looked back up, struggling to identify in his mind what it was that he had done wrong, only to see that the Zubat had somehow quickly returned to surround Ayingott once again. Meanwhile, Silver had sent out his Alakazam, and the two of them were trying to cut down the Hoothoot with electric bolts Alakazam was launching from the spoons he held.
Suddenly, a Swift attack struck some of the Zubat, breaking their formation around Ayingott. Matt turned in surprise to see that Olivia’s Minccino had regained her courage and was rejoining the fight, having climbed out of her trainer’s arms.
“Thanks for that, Minccino,” he said, though he was looking at Olivia. “How about we do this together?”
“All three of us?” Nekou interrupted, holding a Poké Ball in her hand.
“You know what, that’s a good idea,” Matt said with a smile. “Let’s go for it, all of us! Manticore, make your mark!”
“Join them, Marie!”
Matt’s Roggenrola and Nekou’s Sneasel stepped up alongside Minccino after taking form. Marie looked to Minccino and growled sharply, smiling to encourage her companion. Manticore, however, didn’t wait for Minccino and Marie or even for any orders from Matt. As soon as she saw the swarm of Zubat, she jumped into battle, shooting a stream of four rocks at them. The Zubat scattered but reformed with some speed.
“Manticore, I didn’t tell you to use Rock Blast yet!”
“Looks like it hasn’t gotten much more obedient since you caught it,” Nekou remarked. “Fine. As always, woman must clean up the mess created by man, huh? Olivia, let’s team up and do this. I want you to use Swift again.”
“Alright,” Olivia answered, nodding. “I trust you. Minccino, do it! Use Swift!”
Nekou watched as Minccino followed Olivia’s direction. Once the stars of Swift were in the air, Nekou followed with, “Now, Marie, use Ice Beam on Minccino’s Swift!”
While sharply hissing, Marie looked up at Minccino’s Swift attack and fired rays of blue, freezing energy from her claws. The ice surrounded the stars on contact, turning them into sharp-edged weapons that slashed through the Zubat horde. Many of them dropped to the ground, unable to continue after being cut down by the combination, leaving only three severely weakened Zubat still airborne.
“Let’s put an end to this all at once! Ayingott, hold them still with Psychic, and Manticore, hit one of them with Rock Blast!”
“Marie, take one of them out with Knock Off!”
“Minccino, you finish the last one off with Aqua Tail!”
The last three Zubat had attempted to attack again by opening their mouths wide, but Ayingott pinned them with her psychic power, rendering them unable to do so. Marie jumped at the trio as soon as they were frozen and smashed the middle Zubat into the earth with her right arm. Manticore followed up by taking aim at one of the others and shooting three rocks at it, and just as Olivia intended, Minccino smacked the last down with her glowing tail.
At the same time Matt, Nekou and Olivia were defeating the Zubat, Silver was finishing off the Hoothoot on his own using his Alakazam. The owl Pokémon proved to be little of a challenge to the powerful Psychic-type.
“Alakazam… you did well.” Holding up a yellow-and-black Ultra Ball, Silver recalled Alakazam back to its confines. Just as he did so, though, Gengar returned and began pulling on his arm. The ghost Pokémon gestured into the brush, prompting Silver to turn around – only to see a figure rushing through the forest not far away. “There he is! He was hiding right in front of us!”
“Silver, be waiting!” Looker’s call was in vain, as Silver, overcome with his wish to capture Proton, dashed off into the bushes to give chase after recalling Gengar. With no other options, Looker turned to the others and said, “We shall make note to meet up at the other end’s exit of the Ilex Forest!” before hurrying off after Silver.
“What is going on?” Matt wondered out loud as the detective departed.
“**** if I know,” Nekou said with a shrug. “But I’d be willing to hazard a guess that it’s Polaris’s fault. Those Zubat and Hoothoot were clearly under the influence of Meteonite energy, but there shouldn’t be any way for that to be possible. There were no meteor strikes in this area.”
“Nikolai, what did you mean by Ayingott being unhappy with something?” Matt questioned.
“I haven’t pinpointed it just yet… let’s walk with the Pokémon and perhaps I will figure it out.”
“I like that idea.”
With their plan set, the group continued down the road, walking with Ayingott, Manticore, Minccino and Marie alongside them.
They didn’t notice the twelve pairs of small, yellow eyes watching them from the bushes.
A large, metallic airship piloted by Colress was flying over the western ocean, heading in the direction of Goldenrod City. He was seated at an expansive control panel within the craft’s cockpit, and while flying it, he was also carrying on a videophone conversation with Getriebe and Jeunes.
“Everything’s all in order here,” Jeunes stated, smirking. “Two days from now, we’ll be able to execute the operation just as planned.”
“The research has been promising,” Getriebe added. “If my calculations are correct, the Meteonite will work exactly the way we want.”
“I’ll be there in plenty of time,” answered Colress. “Nothing will get in our way. Between the power of the Meteonite and the public support Mister Ghetsis’s speeches have been gaining for us, Polaris will reach its objective soon enough. What are you two currently doing?”
“We’ve nearly finished scanning our stocks of Pokémon into the Purine Base’s databanks,” Getriebe explained. “Once our indexing is complete, we’ll send the data to the Adenosine Base so you can use it.”
“I figured it out,” Nikolai abruptly announced while the group and their Pokémon were continuing down the road in Ilex Forest. “I know what your Sigilyph is distressed by.”
“Oh? What is it?”
“Your Sigilyph does not like its nickname. It wishes to be given a new one.”
“Wait, I don’t understand,” Matt replied, raising an eyebrow. Ayingott didn’t seem to dislike that nickname before.”
“I feel it may have been waiting to see on its own if you would change its nickname… now that Sigilyph has decided that you aren’t going to be doing that, it’s beginning to act out.”
“I guess that makes sense,” Nekou remarked, walking with her arms crossed behind her head. She then glanced back to Olivia, only to notice that she had her head down. “What’s wrong?”
“Something doesn’t feel right,” Olivia sullenly said. “I feel kind of sick again… and I really want to see my mom for some reason. All of a sudden I really miss her.”
“We’ll call her when we get to Goldenrod City, okay?” Matt was attempting to reassure Olivia, but in his own mind, he was nervous. Anabel’s poor state when they’d contacted her the day before didn’t give him a good feeling.
“Wait, do you hear something?” Nekou suddenly said.
Snapping out of his thoughts, Matt focused his hearing, and Olivia focused hers as well. Both of them quickly heard loud voices coming from some place nearby, which evidently was what Nekou was referring to.
“I hear it, too...” Nikolai uttered. “Let’s go find out what it is…”
Matt, Nekou, Olivia and Nikolai ran further down the road, seeking the source of the voices. They quickly came upon a young boy and girl, both dressed in sky-blue school uniforms and carrying lunchboxes.
“Are you two okay?” Matt addressed them.
Reacting to his accidentally overaggressive tone, the pair reeled back. “Stop! Don’t take any more of our Pokémon!” the boy cried.
“We didn’t take any of your Pokémon to begin with,” Nekou rebuked. “What’s going on here?”
“Who are you?” questioned the girl.
“Just some traveling trainers, as you seem to be,” Matt answered, gesturing to Ayingott, Manticore, Marie and Minccino. “If I frightened you before, I’m sorry. Please explain to us what happened.”
“Our Ivysaur disappeared into Ilex Forest... we were looking for it and now we can’t find our way out anymore!”
“Did it run away?” Olivia wondered.
“Y-yeah, it did…” The girl sniffed before adding, “but when it ran away, right before it ran away it was struck by a beam of red light.”
Matt, Nekou and Olivia all gasped and looked at each other in shock, and though Nikolai’s reaction was far more muted, the surprise in his eyes gave away that he had a similar feeling.
“You guys are all thinking what I’m thinking, right?”
Nekou closed her eyes in disgust at the answer she had to give to Matt’s question. “No doubting it, it’s a Meteonite strike. But this isn’t like the others, this is ****ing deliberate…”
“There’s children here!” Matt hissed before softening his tone. “But what do you mean?”
“If that’s the worst thing they ever hear, they lived some pretty sheltered lives,” Nekou said with a shrug. “Consider the past Meteonite strikes… the one in Union Cave, I mean. Only Ground-type Pokémon were affected. Meanwhile, today we’ve seen Flying-type Pokémon and now Grass-type Pokémon affected, plus, did you hear what she said? Their Ivysaur was struck by a beam of red light before it ran off. Someone in this forest is using a Meteonite and deliberately controlling certain Pokémon with it.”
“What are you talking about, lady?” the girl whimpered. “Who took our Ivysaur? You know, don’t you?”
“Not for certain, but… I have a good suspicion about it. Come on, we have a Psychic-type Pokémon, we’ll help you search for it. We’re heading through the forest anyway.”
“How do we know we can trust you?” The boy was suddenly growing angry, and he stood glaring up right into Nekou’s eyes. “They’ve been talking about Team Rocket being around here lately. You could be one of them! This could all be your fault!”
“If someone from Team Rocket stole your Ivysaur, you would have known it,” Nekou coolly dismissed. “Those guys… they’re way too showy for their own good. They wouldn’t have taken it in the way you described.”
“I think… I think you can trust her…” Matt put in. “She’s right, after all. Team Rocket’s members run around in those uniforms with the huge red ‘R’s on them. You didn’t see one of those, did you?” The boy shook his head, prompting Matt to say, “Then please, trust us. Come along, Ayingo…um… I’ll think of a new name for you soon, okay? Let’s just help these kids find their Ivysaur and see if we can’t get down to the bottom of these Meteonite attacks.”
“Sigi, sigi,” Ayingott chirped, her cry filled with equal parts enthusiasm and frustration.
Elsewhere in the forest, Silver and Looker were still sprinting after Proton, who was unable to shake them despite his best efforts to vanish into the underbrush.
“Stop, you piece of scum!” Silver shouted through the trees at his target. “I swore I’d take all of you down, and I’m keeping my word! You won’t escape!”
“Be halting! The long arm of the law can manage to work to reach anywhere!”
Proton didn’t say anything, but he did glance over his shoulder at his pursuers. He realized that they were slowly closing in on him, meaning he wouldn’t be able to keep running forever.
“Oh, if ever I’ve needed some luck, now would be a hell of a time for it!” he thought to himself.
Much to his surprise, however, his wish actually came true. Over a dozen Psybeam attacks suddenly burst from the surrounding bushes, striking the ground all around Silver and Looker. They had to stop their chase as they were surrounded by Venonat, Butterfree and Masquerain. Proton, meanwhile, knew this turn afforded him the chance he needed to escape.
“Damn it, we lost him!” Silver growled as soon as he realized he couldn’t see Proton anymore. “We’ll have to track him down all over again... but we can’t do that until we deal with this problem.”
“I am finding myself in complete agreement with you, Silver.”
Some of the Butterfree and Venonat broke from the horde and moved forward, aiming another round of their multicolored Psybeam attacks at the two humans, who swiftly jumped aside to get out of the way. Silver quickly sent out his Gengar to face them, while Looker brought out his Toxicroak.
Far north from the unfolding events in Ilex Forest, another incident was about to take place. Another of Polaris’s airships descended to the ground near the vast autumn forests surrounding Ecruteak City, and after its stairs unfolded, Ghetsis stepped out. The crazed dictator’s cape blew in the gentle wind surrounding him as he set his intense, wicked gaze upon the city before him.
“Ah, Ecruteak City…” After looking from the west half of the city, which was urban and developed, to the east, which was still filled by a small number of older, traditional wooden buildings, he closed his eye. “A city of contradictions that proves the sins of the Tenganists… what a fitting place for my ascension to my rightful throne as the King of Harmonia…”
After pulling on the button fixing his cape around his neck, Ghetsis turned and walked toward a nearby pagoda, sitting alone at the northern edge of the city against the forest. His cane made a loud tapping noise with every step he took on the stone roads of the city’s traditional half. When he reached the building, he stopped only for a moment to grin to himself before stepping inside. To announce his presence, he simply slammed his cane against the wooden floor.
From the halls of the temple, three elderly men dressed in black robes emerged. They all regarded Ghetsis with a mixture of confusion and anger in their eyes.
“We are the Wise Trio…” one of them said, stepping forward, “…and I am Masa, the head Sage here. What business have you with us, intruder?”
“Now, now, there is no need for such hostility, for I am but a simple sage like you,” Ghetsis answered, smiling disarmingly. “I have simply come to talk about some very important business with you.”
“What business would that…”
“Master Masa…” one of the other two Sages interrupted.
“What is it, Koji?”
“I recognize this man…” The fear evident in Koji’s voice grew with each word he spoke. “This is the man who represents Polaris… Ghetsis… Harmonia…”
“So my secret’s out, then.” Ghetsis opened his eye again, but never stopped smiling. “I guess it’s time to dispense with the formalities.”
His eyes widening, Masa pulled a Poké Ball from his robes. He then gestured to Koji and the third Sage, who did the same. “Koji! Gaku! Prepare to defend Bell Tower! We won’t let him destroy another of our holy sites!”
“You foolish Tenganists… Pokémon cannot stop me from reaching my destiny.”
Ghetsis banged his cane against the floor again. On cue, the Shadow Triad materialized in front of him with swords in their hands. Before they even knew what was going on, Masa, Koji and Gaku were cut down. The last thing the three Sages ever saw was Darkness, Pestilence and Chaos wiping splashes of blood from their uniforms while Ghetsis towered over them, his face twisted into a sadistic grin.
“We’re establishing a base here until the event,” Ghetsis declared. “Darkness, Pestilence, go fetch the prisoners from the transport.”
After the pair of Shadows warped away, Ghetsis looked to Chaos and gestured at the fallen Sages with his cane. “You, Chaos, get rid of them. Dead men don’t put up a fight so I know you can handle this.”
Much like she had been since arriving in Ilex Forest, Séduire was hiding up in one of the trees. Using the holographic display on her Meteonite cannon, she was observing the movements of Matt and the others as they went through the forest.
“Yes, come to me… you’re almost here…” Taking a deep breath, Séduire shifted her weight on the branch. “I think I’ll give you a gift to welcome you home…”
With a flick of her hand, Séduire moved off of her surveillance of Matt and onto a control panel for her weapon itself. She smiled to herself as she programmed a command into its system.
A short distance away, Matt, Nekou, Olivia and Nikolai were continuing down the road with their Pokémon still out and the brother and sister accompanying them.
“Ivysaur!” the boy called out into the depths of the forest. “Where are you?”
“Come on, please come back!” his sister shouted in the opposite direction.
“Nekou, are you absolutely sure that this is another Meteonite event? This doesn’t feel like the other times.”
“I’m certain of it, no ****ing doubt,” Nekou mumbled in response to Matt’s questioning. “You’re not taking one thing into consideration. I told you someone’s doing this deliberately. They might be controlling the Pokémon too, and if that’s…”
Suddenly, Olivia stumbled and fell against Nekou, leaving Nekou to hold her up. The entire search party stopped its trek through the forest immediately.
“Olivia, what’s wrong?” Matt said in alarm.
“I don’t… I don’t feel so good…” Olivia tried to push herself off Nekou’s side and onto her own feet, but she felt her body becoming weak.
“Don’t worry, Olivia, I’ll hold you up.” Looking to Matt, Nekou scrunched up her face and said, “Find those kids’ Ivysaur so we can get out of here. Olivia’s sick again.”
“I would if I had a lead to go on!” Just as he finished speaking, Ayingott taped his shoulder to garner his attention. “Huh? What is it?”
“Glyph!” Matt’s Sigilyph screeched, gesturing to the bushes a short distance down the road.
“I don’t understand…”
“Matt… I think we have company,” Nikolai warned.
The entire group turned to where Ayingott had indicated and stared intensely at the brush, awaiting whatever would emerge. Moments later, another group of Pokémon leapt out to attack, their eyes filled with the same tired look all the other Pokémon influenced by the Meteonite possessed. It was a team comprised mainly of several Paras and Carnivine clustered together.
However, one of them stuck out, having no other companions like him. In addition to the other Grass-types in the swarm, a single Grass-and-Poison-type Pokémon was present.
“There’s our Ivysaur!” cried the boy, a look of great relief coming across his face. Without hesitating, he started running towards the group of Pokémon, not realizing what danger he was in.
“Stop!” Nekou screamed. “It’s not safe!”
Dramatically underlining her point, the Ivysaur, without even briefly hesitating, attacked his trainer by launching a number of sharp-edged leaves at him. He avoided being hit by barely an inch, jumping back in a panic.
“Ivysaur, what’s with you?”
“Right now, that’s not your Ivysaur,” Nekou coldly said. She tapped the side of her glasses, activating their computerized scanning. “The entire energy flow in this forest is in flux, from the looks of it. That’s why all these Pokémon are acting like this… whoever is behind this has caused a lot of damage with repeated Meteonite blasts.”
“Can you make Ivysaur go back to normal?” the girl questioned while shielding her brother.
Before she could get an answer, three of the Paras attacked the group with Energy Ball, forcing them to jump to the sides of the road to avoid the glowing, crackling spheres.
“We might be able to, but we have to defeat them first. Charlotte, come out and help!”
Matt fumbled in his bag for the Poké Ball he wanted, and when he found it, he simply opened it in his hand instead of throwing it. His Eelektrik materialized, floating a few feet off the ground.
However, as soon as Charlotte appeared, Manticore turned away from the swarm of Grass-types to face her. The Roggenrola’s memories were stirred by seeing Charlotte. She specifically remembered what had happened the day she was captured on Route 30, when she was outside Mr. Pokémon’s house. It had been Charlotte that Matt used to capture her.
Overcome by anger, Manticore charged at Charlotte, striking her midsection with Headbutt.
“Manticore, stop it! Charlotte’s your ally now!”
Paying little heed to her trainer’s order, Manticore hesitated for only a second before beginning to charge at Charlotte again. Unwilling to take another hit for Manticore’s rage, Charlotte started to generate electricity around herself. Matt managed to head off the conflict by recalling Manticore, just in enough time to make sure Charlotte’s Charge Beam hit only the ground.
“Why… did that just…” Olivia weakly said.
“Seeing the Pokémon that was used to capture Roggenrola caused it to become enraged,” Nikolai quickly answered. “We do not have time to deliberate on such a thing. These Pokémon… are in much worse condition.”
“Manticore wouldn’t be so great against Grass-types anyway,” Matt realized. “Charlotte, I’ll leave this to you!”
“Marie, you go too!”
“Minccino… do your best…”