Chapter 12: Rescue Operation!
The silence was deafening.
Misty had heard that phrase many times before, but never understood how it could be possible. How could silence be deafening?
It was only now, sitting in the cold and lonely Team Rocket cell, did she finally understand—the silence was going to drive her insane.
"Sam…" she muttered, just to hear words again. "How long has it been?"
From the other side of the cell, Sam lifted her head miserably from her knees and glanced at a crooked clock hanging on the wall. It looked as if this room had been an office once, but had been later converted into a room with a holding cell "Two minutes since you last asked me," she replied tartly, "and thirty-five minutes since we were thrown in here."
Misty scowled at Sam's tone of voice, and stood up. "I hate this!" she exclaimed. "We have no Pokémon, nobody knows we're here, and who knows what Team Rocket and Alexander are up to! They could be hatching a fiendish plot as we sit here, twiddling our thumbs!"
"What do you want me to do about it?" Sam snapped, glaring at Misty through her pink-tinted sunglasses. "They took all our Pokémon away, and unless you think you can bash your head on those bars and get us out, we're going nowhere."
"Hmph." Misty turned towards the cell bars and stuck her face against them, trying to search the room for some way to escape. "Some Pokémon Master you are."
Sam bristled slightly at the remark, but didn't reply. Instead, she tried to go over what she knew about the situation. Alexander was being hired by Team Rocket, no doubt so that Rocket members would not be risked during the Open House activities. Considering the skill and ferocity of the Team Rocket agents they'd encountered, it was also safe to assume Giovanni was spearheading the operation; Team Rocket's best members were always in Giovanni's direct service. Not to mention Viridian City Gym had formerly belonged to him, before Pokémon League found out who he really was. And since Pokémon League was still working through the process of recruiting a new Gym Leader, it wouldn't have been hard for Team Rocket to use this empty gym and the surrounding buildings as a temporary base of operations.
Fine, fine. But why all this fuss?
"We'll have these brats locked up too."
…Was somebody else being held captive around here?
"Misty… I'm worried," she said out loud, making the redhead stare at her. "I… didn't tell you this earlier, but I'm here in Viridian to help Lance with that prophecy thing, too."
Misty gave her a tentatively relieved expression. "Oh… so you know…?"
"He told me about Ash, and about… Latias."
"Oh. Ok, good."
Sam immediately shook her head. "No. Not good," she replied. "That Team Rocket gal… she said something about locking us up too. All these Team Rocket agents, and yet no big heist during the Open House. And with Alexander being here… Misty, did you ever tell him anything while he was hanging out with you as Katsuo?"
"I…" Misty hadn't really given it much thought, but as she remembered everything she'd done with Katsuo in the past day, her heart sank. "I… did tell him about how I've seen so many Legendary Pokémon while traveling with Ash. I told him about how Ash seems to be able to befriend them so easily. I… told him about meeting Latias…"
Sam nodded slowly. Now it all made more sense. "Alexander must have figured out you guys were knowledgeable about the Legendary Pokémon, and got close to you so he could learn more," she hypothesized. "But now I'm concerned that… he might have somehow learned about Latias. Or Ash's role as the Chosen One. Or both. They could be in trouble…"
"Oh… I-It's all my fault, isn't it? I shouldn't have talked about those things with him… and I should have listened to you when you warned us…" Misty sat down and tried to hold back her tears. "I'm sorry, Sam…"
"No… don't be sorry…" Sam crawled over to her friend and gave her a smile. "It's ok. You didn't know this would happen. Please don't be upset; it's not your fault."
"But still… Ash and Latias could be in danger, and we're stuck here. And they took our Pokémon, too…"
The thought of her beloved Pokémon in Giovanni's hands, particularly her dear Joey, upset Sam. Worse, though, was the fact that Sam had been carrying her Master Ball today… which contained her Mewtwo, Five-Star. He was the fifth and final Mewtwo in a series of attempts by Team Rocket to create the most perfect Pokémon clone from the DNA of Mew. Giovanni would surely be delighted to have one of his experiments back in his possession. Sam knew she had to help her Pokémon out somehow, but the only resource they had at their disposal was… Togepi.
Sam glanced at the sleeping baby Pokémon nearby all curled up into a red-and-blue spotted white egg, taking a nap. When Team Rocket members confiscated their Pokémon, they chose to leave Togepi in Misty's hands after it had set up an ear-piercing wail of terror. Sam supposed they enjoyed their eardrums intact more than they did rare Pokémon…
Getting to her feet, Sam stretched and crossed the cell to a tiny, barred window probably four feet higher than her head, leading to the outside. It wouldn't be possible to escape this way, obviously. But maybe there was a view of something or someone that could help them get out of this mess. It was worth a try.
"Hey, Misty, give me a boost," she said.
"…What for? You're not that tiny; you can't fit out that window."
"Well, obviously. But I just wanna take a look."
Misty rolled her eyes. "Fine…" She trudged over to Sam, and—after a couple of false starts—managed to boost the smaller girl up so she was eye-level with the window.
Sam craned her neck up and stared through the tiny opening, trying to see where they were. All that was in her line of sight were the sides of the other warehouses. She couldn't even catch a glimpse of the rest of the city. That scratched shouting for help off the list. No one was going to hear them from here.
"Can you hurry it up; my shoulders hurt!" Misty complained.
Sam didn't reply, but looked up as best as she could to the blue sky above. What if they were never found? She wished she was like Will and capable of communicating with her friends telepathically. The only being she was connected to in such a way was Lady Skye, Johto's Ho-Oh… and Sam knew she couldn't talk to or summon the majestic phoenix Pokémon on demand. If Lady Skye was going to rescue her chosen—which was highly unlikely to begin with—she would have done so by now. The fact that Sam was still imprisoned meant that Lady Skye had faith in her abilities, and expected Sam to do well on her own.
I wish I was just as confident in my abilities, she thought.
"Sam… I can't… hold you anymore!" At that precise moment, Misty's arms gave out and she dropped her friend in an undignified heap on the cell floor, nearly crushing poor Togepi. Startled, the egg-like Pokémon woke up and—like any baby would—began to cry.
Sam instantly clapped her hands over her ears, and Misty swept Togepi up into her arms in a vain attempt to soothe the baby Pokémon. "Oh, Togepi, don't cry! It's ok! Calm down!" Misty assured, though her words were easily drowned out.
"Make it stop!" Sam begged.
"Some Rocket's gonna come in here and get us for sure!"
"I know, but—!"
The banshee wail echoed all throughout the Rocket hideout.
It had been almost an hour since Tracey had begun looking for Ash and Latias, and things were starting to look bleak. He should have at least heard something of them… but no. Nothing. At least not in Viridian City. Brock had gone to the Pokémon League to tell Lance, but Tracey had hoped their concerns would be a false alarm and Ash and Latias were just playing together somewhere. But this long without any word did not fill him with much hope.
The young Pokémon watcher sighed and sat down on a bench near the Item Mart, wondering if he somehow could have done more to help. He should have been there for Ash since the two of them learned of this prophecy. Being there at the time Ash learned of his role as Latias's chosen, Tracey felt he had some sort of obligation to help protect the prophecy as well. But no… he hadn't taken it seriously enough. And now… Ash and Latias could be in trouble.
"I hope we're wrong, Marill," he confessed out loud to his Water-type sitting at his feet, looking up at her trainer worriedly. "I hope nothing happened to Ash and Latias…"
Marill patted Tracey's leg. "Marill mar," she soothed.
A few moments passed, with Tracey in silent contemplation as to where he might search next… when all of a sudden, Marill's ears perked up.
"Mar? Marill marill?"
Tracey snapped to attention instantly. Marill was trained to listen for Pokémon sounds, which helped Tracey find rare Pokémon in the wild to observe. Perhaps her ears had caught wind of Ash or Latias as well! "What do you hear, Marill?" he whispered excitedly.
Marill's rounded ears twitched, picking up some sort of Pokémon sound. It was faint at first… but it soon became audible on the breeze.
Even Tracey became aware of it. "Wha? What's that?" he wondered, putting his ear to the wind to listen closer.
"Marill! Marill ma!" The Water-type knew that sound! She instantly began bounding off towards the general vicinity of the Viridian City Gym.
"Wait! Marill! Wait for me!" Tracey leaped to his feet and followed Marill, hoping that what she heard was a clue to his friends' whereabouts.
After running across the city, Tracey found himself out of breath as he and his Marill peered around the corner of the warehouse. The Water Pokémon had seemed very certain this was the spot, but after spotting a few shady characters dressed in black patrolling the area, Tracey realized this could be a dangerous situation. The two had to sneak cautiously around the area to avoid being detected.
Those guys… they don't have big R's on their outfits, but the uniforms look like Team Rocket, the Pokémon watcher thought pensively. Could it be they're still here? I thought they would have cleared out after the Viridian Gym shut down…
He was so involved in his thoughts that he nearly let himself be seen by one of the guards on patrol. Marill, fortunately, was still paying attention, and tugged her trainer's pant leg harshly to snap him back to attention.
"Whoa… too close…" muttered Tracey to himself, ducking for cover again. "Thanks, Marill."
As Marill continued to lead the way, it didn't take Tracey too long to realize that the sound they had been following seemed to be louder than ever. Much, much louder. Marill scowled and covered her sensitive ears, and Tracey's eyes widened in recognition. That was… Togepi's cry!
"Misty! But… wait, what is she doing here?" Tracey wondered, his sharp eyes seeking the source of the crying. It was then he suddenly noticed a small window at ground level not a few feet away, covered with bars but definitely where the sound was coming from. He glanced up at the warehouse it was attached to, before getting down on his hands and knees and crawling over to the window. One peek inside was all he needed to confirm his worst fears.
"Misty! Sam!" he exclaimed, upon spying the two girls vainly trying to calm Togepi. "What are you doing in there?"
The two looked up in surprise, and Togepi instantly stopped crying. "Tracey?" Misty gasped. "I might ask the same of you! How did you find us?"
"Marill heard Togepi's crying, and we followed it here," the young Pokémon watcher explained, trying to size up why the two were in a cell inside this suspicious-looking building. "I was looking for Ash and Latias…" He then stopped short, horrified that he might have let slip the secret to Sam. "Err, I mean, Lani!"
"It's fine, Tracey. Lance already explained the situation to me earlier," Sam assured. "I want to help Ash and Latias, too."
Relieved, Tracey nodded. "That's good to hear… But, again, what are you two doing in here? With all these Team Rocket guys running around?" His face suddenly grew worried. "Are Ash and Latias in trouble?"
"We don't know, but it's possible they are," Sam replied, averting her gaze to somewhere other than Tracey's questioning look. "Alexander was working for them the whole time, just like I thought he might be, and now it seems he knew about Latias as well, even though you all tried to hide her secret. Even now, Team Rocket may already have gotten their hands on her."
The thought of sweet little Latias in the clutches of Team Rocket was unbearable. "We've got to do something!" Tracey gasped.
"We'd love to," Misty pointed out, "but it's going to be tough when we've already been caught and locked up in this cell."
"Right…" Tracey looked around quickly, before he grabbed a Pokéball off of his belt and tossed it through the bars to his friends. "Here. Use Scyther to get out of that cell."
Sam caught the Pokéball in her hands. "Thanks, Tracey. Now, you'd better get out of here and find Lance or something. If you stay here any longer—"
"Hey! You, kid! Whaddya think you're doing?!" A loud shout from behind Tracey caused him and Marill to whirl around, and stare straight up at a trio of tough-looking Rocket grunts. "Think you're gonna help those prisoners get away? Think again!"
Tracey quickly leaped to his feet and backed away from them. "Marill, Water Gun!" he commanded, and instantly the Water Mouse Pokémon leaped up and shot a jet of water into the Rocket grunts' faces. They sputtered and yelled for a moment, giving Tracey the opportunity to turn and run in the opposite direction, Marill right behind him.
"Oh, no you don't!" the first grunt yelled, grabbing a Pokéball and throwing it out in front of him. "Go, Primeape! Get that punk!"
"Nidorino, hunt him down!" yelled the second grunt, following his teammate's lead.
"You too, Haunter! Make sure he doesn't get away!" the third shouted.
The three Pokémon appeared with fierce cries, quickly following the young Pokémon watcher as he and Marill ran off. The lead Rocket grunt took a quick glance into the cell window to make sure Misty and Sam hadn't somehow escaped, before leading his teammates after Tracey as well.
"Oh no… I hope Tracey will be ok," Sam remarked, looking worried. If those Rocket grunts caught up with Tracey, he would be hopelessly outnumbered.
Misty shook her head. "I'm sure he'll be all right," she assured. "Right now, let's get out of here."
"Right." Sam turned back to the cell door and released Tracey's Scyther outside the bars. "Scyther, please help us out! Use Slash on the lock!"
The Bug/Flying-type looked confused at first to see Sam giving him orders instead of Tracey. "Scy? Scyther scy?"
"We're in a Team Rocket secret base, and Tracey gave you to us to get out of here," Misty quickly explained. "He might be in trouble right now, so hurry and let us out so we can help him!"
At that, Scyther understood. He nodded and assumed a brief fighting stance, before lunging at the door lock with a cry. "Scy-ther!" With two lightning-fast Slashes, the lock fell to the floor in pieces, and the door opened.
"Great job, Scyther!" Sam congratulated, as she and Misty dashed out. "Now we've got to get out of here…"
Misty quickly ran past her friend and opened the door to the room, peering out into the hallway. "Hurry up, Sam, before somebody comes," she urged, Togepi clutched tight in her arms.
"Scyther, let's go." Sam quickly followed Misty out of the room and down the hallway of the Rocket hideout as fast as she could, praying that they could find the way out and help Tracey. Hopefully they wouldn't be too late…
But they soon found that their hopes were too good to be true. Because standing in their way was none other than Agent 009 of Team Rocket herself… Domino.
"Well, well, I was just coming to interrogate you two ladies," Domino smiled, motioning to the Rocket grunt at her side to prepare a Pokéball. "And here you are, running loose again. It seems I got here just in time!"
"Take a hike," Misty snapped, remembering this girl from when she and her friends had helped Mewtwo and his clones against Team Rocket. She knew Domino was bad news.
Domino shook her head. "How rude," she chided, flourishing a black tulip before her. "I'm afraid you're going to have to pay for that remark!"
Sam glanced around, noticing another hallway just behind and to the left of where she and Misty were standing. Maybe… "Misty, get ready to turn and run," she whispered. "I'll go a different way. If we split up, there's the slight chance at least one of us can get away."
"Gotcha," Misty replied softly, holding Togepi close and preparing to run.
"Sorry, but we've got better things to do than stay and chat!" Sam shouted at Domino. "Scyther, Quick Attack!"
"Scy-ther!" The Bug/Flying-type quickly flew forward to the attack, straight at Domino and the Rocket grunt. As soon as he did, Misty turned and ran down the hall as fast as she could, trusting that Sam would escape quickly as well.
Domino quickly leaped aside to avoid Scyther's attack, leaving her Rocket grunt to get tackled fiercely. He yelped in pain as he was slammed into a wall, winded from the blow. Before Scyther could turn around and take care of Domino, however, the Rocket Agent tossed her tulip at it, which shocked Scyther with energy and caused him to collapse to the floor.
Sam gasped. "Oh no, Scyther!" She quickly recalled the battle-worn Mantis Pokémon into his Pokéball, then turned and ran down the other hallway.
"Don't think you can escape so easily!" Domino shouted. She turned to the Rocket grunt slowly getting to his feet, and pointed down the hall where Sam had gone. "You follow that girl," she commanded. "I'll take care of the brat with the Togepi. I don't care what it takes; just make sure she doesn't escape."
The Rocket grunt saluted, before tossing a Pokéball out. "Golbat, let's hunt!" he yelled, as the large Bat Pokémon appeared. The two quickly disappeared in pursuit of Sam.
Domino frowned at this development, before speaking into her radio. "All Rocket units, on alert," she commanded. "We've got a few miscreants running loose… Don't permit them to escape!"
Tracey ran for his life through the Rocket warehouse lot, Marill now in his arms, praying to whoever would listen to let him get back to the safety of Viridian City soon. He hadn't taken the time to turn and look, but he could tell the Rocket grunts and their Pokémon were still right on his trail. He could hear them. Marill squirmed in his arms, apparently protesting about something or other, but Tracey wasn't really paying attention; he had much more pressing concerns.
If I get captured, Lance might never know where to look for Latias and Ash before it's too late, he thought. Team Rocket will be long gone by then! And then… then what? What will happen to everyone…?
Just as Tracey caught sight of the way out of the warehouse lot, and his heart lifted with hope, Nidorino and Haunter suddenly appeared as if out of nowhere in front of him, causing him to stop short. Marill wailed in despair, and Tracey realized that she had been trying to tell him all along that those two Pokémon weren't behind them anymore. Whoops. Guess he should have listened…
"Looks like the end of the road for you, kid," the head Rocket grunt sneered from behind Tracey, his Primeape pumping its fists eagerly.
Tracey turned to face him and his two other teammates nervously. "You're not… gonna get away with this!" he shouted, realizing how weak his words sounded. But really, how was he going to get out of this? He was far too outnumbered!
"Ohh… really?" the Rocket grunt sneered. "I think we'll have to disagree. Primeape, Nidorino, Haunter, get him!" The three Pokémon cried out in response and prepared to advance on the poor trainer.
"Venonat, go!" Tracey yelled, sending out his Bug/Poison-type Pokémon to fight back. Marill leaped out of his arms and faced down her opponents with determination, ready to protect her trainer as well. "Venonat, use Sleep Powder! Marill, use Water Gun!"
"Veno-veno nat!" The bug Pokémon leaped to the attack against Nidorino and Haunter, spinning about to release spores of Sleep Powder, while in the other direction, Marill shot a jet of water against Primeape.
"Haunter, counter that Sleep Powder with Psychic!" shouted the third Rocket grunt.
"Ha-ha-haunter…" Laughing, the Ghost/Poison-type held its hands out, focusing a blast of Psychic energy at the Sleep Powder wafting towards it and making it go in the opposite direction. The Sleep Powder hit Venonat instead of Venonat's opponents, and the Bug/Poison-type fell into a deep sleep.
"Oh no! Venonat, wake up!" Tracey gasped. But it was no good—the Sleep Powder had done its work.
The head Rocket grunt laughed at Tracey's misfortune. "Your turn, Primeape! Low Kick!"
With a wild cry, the Fighting-type leaped forward at Marill, barely fazed by the Water Gun she shot at him, and kicked the Water Mouse Pokémon straight back into Tracey, knocking the him over. Tracey held his fainted Pokémon close, wincing from the blow, and looked up at the Rocket grunts and their Pokémon looming over him.
"Nice try, kid!" the second Rocket grunt laughed. "But I think it's my turn to finish the job! Nidorino, take that kid out with Cut attack!"
The Poison-type roared and charged forward, his dangerous horn pointed straight at Tracey. Tracey squeezed his eyes shut, terrified.
From out of nowhere, a beam of purple, psychic light shot out and hit Nidorino in the back, causing him to cry out and collapse to the ground right in front of Tracey. The Rocket grunts looked up in shock to see Will and his Girafarig step up, with Lance and Brock quickly coming up from behind.
"Pick on someone your own size!" Will cried, a dangerous glint in his purple eyes as he pointed forward. "Girafarig, Shadow Ball on Haunter, then Psybeam again on Primeape!" Before the Rocket's Pokémon could even react, Haunter was taken out by Girafarig's powerful Ghost-type attack, and another Psybeam knocked Primeape unconscious.
The head Rocket grunt cursed. "It's Pokémon League!" he cried. "Let's get out of here!"
"Don't think you can get away that easily!" Lance shouted, flourishing a Pokéball and tossing it into the sky. "Aerodactyl, subdue them quickly!"
"Aeeeeerr!" The prehistoric Pokémon descended upon the fleeing trio with lightning speed and pounced on them, leaving them stunned upon the ground.
Lance smiled approvingly, and nodded at Will. "Think we got them."
In the meantime, Brock ran to Tracey and helped him up. "You ok, Tracey?" he asked.
Tracey nodded, and recalled his weakened Pokémon into their Pokéballs. "Yeah, I think so," he said, still tense from the fight. "How did you guys know to come here?"
"We didn't at first, but Will sensed a battle going on over here, so, expecting the worse, we ran over," Brock explained. "We were already looking all over town to try and find everyone. And it seems we came just in time."
"Any later, and I would have been toast," Tracey shuddered.
Will came up and kneeled next to Tracey. "You're not hurt, right?" he asked, petting Girafarig's muzzle.
"Nope. Thanks a lot for saving me, Will."
"But of course."
Lance, with his cell phone to his ear to call the police, paused to regard Tracey with a smile. "I'm glad we got here in time… So, it seems Team Rocket is behind our troubles."
Tracey nodded. "They have Misty and Sam imprisoned, though I left them Scyther to help them escape. Sam also mentioned she suspected that Ash and Latias are around here somewhere as well."
"We should have known…" Will sighed, watching Lance's expression turn unpleasant for a moment, before he began speaking to Officer Jenny on the phone. "Many of us suspected Team Rocket was still operating in the area, but our resources have been stretched thin, and the Pokémon League board didn't think there was enough evidence to warrant a deeper investigation. Giovanni took advantage of that, it seems."
"Well, look on the bright side," Tracey said. "Now you have due cause to shut these guys down for good."
Will managed to smile. "That's true, Tracey," he agreed. "All right. Here's what I'm thinking. Ash and Latias, as well as Misty and Sam, are somewhere in this complex. The police will be arriving to secure the area, but you can bet Team Rocket will have a way to get out of here fast if they realize they're in trouble. So we've got to take action now before we lose the element of surprise."
"All right," said Brock. "So what do we do?"
"Mm… I think… Lance and Tracey ought to go look for Ash and Latias. Yes, that would be best. You and I can go look for Misty and Sam. How does that sound?"
"Sounds good," Brock replied. Tracey nodded his agreement.
Lance finally looked up, putting his phone away. "I told Officer Jenny the situation. She and her police force will be here soon. In the meantime, I think Will's plan is a good one. Let's head in and take out Team Rocket from the inside."
"You're good at that, aren't you…?" Brock smirked, thinking of how that was just how he'd met Lance in the first place—as an undercover operative, investigating Team Rocket at the Lake of Rage.
"Aerodactyl, stay here and make sure these goons don't wake up and warn their friends," Lance instructed his Rock/Flying-type. "Officer Jenny will be here to apprehend them soon enough." The Dragon Master turned back to his friends, and nodded. "All right, let's go. Remember, if Giovanni himself is here, these will be some of Team Rocket's strongest members. They won't go down easily."
With nods of agreement, the four set out to locate their friends within the Team Rocket hideout, hoping they could locate all of them before Team Rocket found out…