Disclaimer: I don't own Pokemon.
Author's Note: Since it's been snowing in my neck of the woods, I decided to write this.
Dedication: To fairy of irrelevence, who I wish I can share the gift of playing in the snow with.
Timeline: Two weeks after Pokemon Adventures Vol. 2 No. 3.
"As you can see from our chart, the entire Kanto region will experience a twelve inch snowfall by tomorrow morning."
The weatherman sounded artificial: from his slicked back hair to his smooth voice-but unfortunately, his prediction would be true.
'Just what we need: another delay.'
With a push of a button on a console, the image quickly dissolved into a map of the Kanto region. The man hid in the shadows and stood before the televised image, surveying his domain.
'With the mutant Eevee no longer in our control and the Mewtwo project gone haywire; this blizzard won't help any of my plans.' The shadowed figure massaged his temples; it'd been a long month. A door opened and a familiar gruff voice blurted out, the man continued to stare at the screen.
"Hey Boss! I was thinking of pulling a heist at the Pewter City Museum now with this mega blizzard jamming up everything. That alright with you?"
The Boss gave a sigh. "That's where the old amber is, correct?"
He narrowed his gaze. "Aerodactyls. Interesting. The last I heard, Blaine was perfecting his cloning techniques while raising Mewtwo. Get it."
"Yes Giovanni." The visitor saluted and was about to leave.
He turned at the call of his name. "Sir?"
"Use the Dan'in who need to be disciplined for this assignment. The rest…can take off for five days in proper shifts." Giovanni muttered, almost as though he hadn't wanted to be heard.
Lieutenant Surge was surprised: the Boss never gave anyone time off.
"Yes sir. Permission to speak freely?" He thought he'd brave the unknown.
"Are you feeling alright?"
He sucked in another breath. "I'm fine…given our recent frustrations with our operations lately, a period of rest might be the best course of action." A simple, mechanical answer.
Giovanni was notorious for being a taskmaster, and made sure no one shirked duty. But time off is time off. If Surge asked again, the Boss Rocket might change his mind.
"Yes, sir. As you wish." Surge quietly left the room.
As much as he loathed giving the men time off, it was for the best: the organization would be useless if the men were overworked and ended up failing even more. And between the Mewtwo project, the hunt for Mew, and the takeover of Silph-along other operations, his agents were stretched out everywhere with nary a chance to rest in months. With the blizzard, the region would slow down for a week, and giving the Rockets to chance to follow.
'Mother would force the men to plunder during this time as everyone is slowing down but we've had a most busy year, and the Badge Amplifier will soon be online; I will need all in good shape.'
Giovanni pushed another button on the console to view the outside cameras of the Game Corner. Hard to believe that, in a few hours, everything would be covered in whiteness.
'White, silent death.' He turned his attention to several cameras that showed the skeleton trees.
He wondered why people celebrated snow when all it symbolized was death. 'More…childishness.'
Giovanni went to his desk and saw a stack of cases on his in box.
'And while the men have their play, I'll be stuck in here. No matter, if I indulged, this organization would grind to a halt.'
He grabbed the file on top.
'The giant Slowpoke project? Don't know what I was thinking when I approved that.' He signed his signature and focused on the next file.
'One down.' He continued trudging through the paperwork.
The sound of air currents filled her ears. The darkness offered no help, as expected. She sensed the shift in the air. She turned to her right.
Her caramel, humanoid companion rose and threw a spoon into the air. The spoon rolled with grace into the air and hit the side of a floating sphere. The sphere fell unceremoniously on the floor.
"Kadabra, Psybeam. To the left."
The Psi pokemon closed its eyes, turned its head to the left and spewed out a rainbow beam of energy into the air. The second sphere tried to float away from the beam.
"Maximize the spread."
The Kadabra widened the beam to a spray and connected with the sphere. It then joined its twin on the ground.
The darkness was lifted as the sound of the falling sphere reached her ears. She removed her blindfold, then glanced at the timer on the adjacent wall.
'One minute and five seconds. Good…but not good enough.'
"Good, Kadabra. Return." She recalled the Psi pokemon into a red and white sphere with a flash of scarlet light.
She waved her hand through her raven hair, and stared at the timer.
'My best time and still not enough.' She then grunted and caressed her temple. The training and the recent sojourn to Celadon City had been draining.
'I suppose I should ask for some time off to rest, but I know better than to waste time with that. Besides, Giovanni doesn't grant time off for anyone, lest they're six feet under.'
'I have to do it again.' "Computer? Restart the timer." The computer did as she commanded and it was reset to zero. She was about to wrap the blindfold around her eyes when a door opened.
"Again with the training? Even I know when to rest." A wise and arrogant voice was heard.
"That, Koga is the difference between someone who is an athlete and someone who is an Olympian. Knowing you must push the limits." She quipped tonelessly as she tied the back of the blindfold.
"Even Olympians know how much burnout can wreck the body, and make it of no use to anyone. You've been around Giovanni too much. His stubbornness is rubbing off on you. "
"Tenacity is a quality a warrior must use to fight the enemy, not hide behind deceptions and smoke and mirrors like a coward." Her mind was focusing; the fallen spheres began to rise.
"My smoke and mirrors may be cowardly but it gives me an edge with my opponent and disrupts that sense of balance, Sabrina."
"Balance? Poke Ball, go." Another red and white sphere floated from her belt and opened: a violet insect with scaled wings came forth.
"Venom—moth—moth." The poisonmoth pokemon screeched its distorted roar, flapping its wings, discharging its pollen.
"Yes, balance. When I clash with my opponent, they know that I'm human as they are and that creates a sense of balance, a common ground and my traps distort all of that. But at the end of the day, I'm still human as they are. You and your own powers gave you that edge outright and intimidate everyone, which gives for a good reputation but not much else. It deepens the fear. That pesky fear of the unknown." He tried to hide his bemusement.
"Stop hiding your emotions, I know you enjoy toying with me. Computer? Start the timer. Venomoth, Psybeam." She levitated the spheres and had them zigzag all over the room, as the automated clock began to start and the poisonmoth pokemon spit out with a Psybeam of even brighter color.
"I wish I were psychic so I'd win every argument. And it missed."
Sabrina was irritated; it was hard to control the spheres, her Venomoth and deal with Koga's taunting. "You'd be an embarrassment as a psychic. It isn't artificial: like your traps. Venomoth, Psybeam to the left." Venomoth obeyed its mistress' command, Koga looked upward.
"Artificial traps aside; a ninja is a weapon, who commands body and mind. He is a weapon himself. Beyond your…little parlor tricks, can you fight without them? Judging by your scrawny body, and the fact you look like you'll be curtseying to the Reaper soon, I'd say no. And it missed again."
Various items were starting to rattle; the spheres were beginning to droop.
'Don't lose control, don't lose control.'
"I may not have your or Surge's ability to resort to fisticuffs but I can fight well enough on my own. How is Janine's mother?"
Sabrina caught the emotional spike in Koga's mind; his rage was palatable. He jumped kicked at the Psychic Rocket. She teleported before the hit connect.
"Taunting is a good weapon, yes? You taught me that." She reappeared at the other side of the gym. "Venomoth."
Venomoth flew above the ninja. "Three seconds and he fills the gym with Stun Spore. I can escape in two. I doubt you won't make more than ten feet from the door." Sabrina allowed…an evil grin to pass on her lips.
Koga craned his head above and saw the Venomoth waiting to unleash its paralyzing dust.
"Your hero worship of him is so obvious you're even timing your moves. But very well, I…apologize." He bowed to her.
"Good, now go and leave lest I change my mind."
'About as devious as he is. Interesting.' Koga wondered if Sabrina would catch his thought.
'I suppose it is.' Sabrina barbed telepathically.
"I am now. All I came to say is that Giovanni is giving the agents time off because of the blizzard."
"I wasn't aware there was one."
"Perhaps if you weren't hiding in the training room all the time, you might have learned something." Koga enjoyed their cat and mouse game.
"I thought you were leaving. Venom…" She was losing her concentration; not to mention her control.
"Why didn't you just tell me this before and leave?" She opened the doors telekinetically.
"Because I had to get my entertainment for the day." Koga said without a beat. "I am leaving for Fuchsia right now, should be able get some time with Janine while keeping up appearances and maybe…play the snow with her. Amuses her for some reason."
"The thought of you and your spawn being buried in an avalanche is rather amusing." She said in a deadpan.
"And you? You'll no doubt stay here the whole time trying to catch the ball. At least my daughter and I can indulge in some fun every once in a while." He walked out of the gym and into the shadows. Sabrina closed the doors with her powers and teleported to the center of the gym.
'Indulge in some fun. Ridiculous nonsense. While he gets weaker by playing with himself and his insipid daughter, I'll get stronger.'
'Playing in the snow. Waste of time.' Sabrina remembered the children when she was younger coming outside to play whenever a snowstorm besieged Saffron City. She was busy with her training and had no time for such childish games.
'Wastes of space-wasting everyone's time with that idiotic ritual.' The spheres finally crashed on the floor, starling the Psychic Rocket.
'Blast it.' She levitated them again but found the spheres wouldn't leave beyond a few feet above the ground. She sighed and allowed them to droop gently onto the ground. She got up and removed the blindfold.
'Perhaps rest is what I need now. I can resume later.' "Venomoth, return." She recalled the poisonmoth pokemon to its Poke Ball.
She massaged her temples again; she was surprised she hadn't make the gym collapse upon itself. Koga's taunts gave her quite a bit of ammunition.
'Just an irritant. All irritants are to be put aside for the safety of the body.' She began a mantra. After several mantras, she calmed down but still felt fatigued. 'I'll resume later after I rest. Rest is practical in this case so I wouldn't be indulging and lapsing.' She wondered when she'd have enough control to stop using these simple mantras.
'The price I pay for being advanced.' She walked out of the gym, feeling too weary to simply teleport like she usually would. She didn't even have enough energy to clean up the gym.
'Father would be displeased by this fatigue. As would I. I have to overcome this if I'm going to stay in the Rockets. But how do I refine my training and prove I'm not "a little parlor trick?" ' She wondered further, in the shadows, lost in thought.
Giovanni signed his final paper and looked at the time.
'Six o'clock? Later than I thought.'
He placed the file in the folder and left it at the top of the stack. 'That should be enough until tomorrow.' He stared at the pile. 'What a depressing thought. No wonder she took her life.'
He deactivated the monitors and was walking out of the room, turned at the door way and glanced at the room. The chair's silhouette stood out in the darkness, Giovanni's eyes focused on it. 'Your symbol still remains, Mother. I can't even black it out anymore.'
He walked down a corridor and entered the main laboratory. He focused his eyes on a row of glass cylinders as he walked down the steps, the one at the end gained particular interest.
'Hard to believe you came to life in such a cramped space. At least you're getting the space you need at Cinnabar.'
A scientist broke his thoughts. "Yes?"
"We have just received a report from Blaine. He labeled this high priority." The scientist handed the Boss Rocket a business folder.
'Injection of new D.N.A. strain in the matrix successful. The cells merged and filled in the gaps in the D.N.A. sequences. The resulting new tissue has started reformation and completion is to be estimated in five days.'
Giovanni handed the folder back. "Tell Blaine good work and to give me daily reports. That shall be all."
"Yes sir." The scientist soon faded with the rest of the machinery.
'How ironic that he would be finished in winter. And that's just the tip of the iceberg, pardon the pun.' He allowed a small smile to curl his lips.
'I wonder I should teach him Blizzard. Be rather fitting, I suppose.' He lingered by the cylinder for a few minutes and then left the chamber of horrors.
Giovanni wandered aimlessly in the corridors, wondering where to go: topside for the pickup of funds from fleecing the sheep, perhaps Silph Corporation to oversee the tests for the Master Ball or maybe return to his home in Viridian to prepare for the storm.
'Home. I haven't been home in over a year.' Not since he closed the gym to oversee his job as Boss Rocket had he returned to the small city, and he preferred it that way.
'I can't be playing with children at a time like this. The master plan will spoil.' Giovanni suddenly felt a tinge of envy. 'Although it would be amusing to play in a match again…but I can't afford the indulgence now.'
Sabrina wandered aimlessly as well. She wished she was topside for a drink of the Mt. Moon water some of her opponents would briefly think about during a difficult match, back when she was the Saffron City Gym Leader.
'With this hunger, best with water and not a substance attached to some addiction-like soda pop.'
Not that those conditions would be useful now.
'I must ask Giovanni who designed this base and…dare hope the fool has done me the favor of killing himself before I could.'
She suddenly felt another's presence quickly approaching her from around the corner. Giovanni suddenly felt another presence approaching him from the corner. Sabrina didn't have enough strength to read the intruder's mind or immobilize, so she grabbed a Poke Ball. He decided to encounter the intruder head on, if he had Pokemon, he had enough time to protect himself. He couldn't let fear paralyze him out of his job.
They both clung to the wall, waiting to strike. '1…2…3!'
They both jumped from the corner and nearly collided.
"What are you doing here?" His muscles began to relax.
"I was going to my room to rest. I am…tired from my training." She admonished herself for admitting weakness—not to mention her small blush.
Giovanni would have smirked if he were dealing with anyone else, Sabrina he knew better than that.
"I understand. It's been one of those long days, soon to be longer with the blizzard."
"Yes, sir. Koga informed me. I hear you're giving the agents time off." She could still sense his emotions. 'He feels so…tense.'
"It's for the best. The year has been most busy. Since the region will shut down, this would be a good time to rest, despite the opportunities."
"Yes, Koga is leaving for Fuchsia City and I'm sure the agents will be going to their respective homes to rest and be with their…loved ones." The phrase sounded alien to the Psychic Rocket.
He noted the hesitance behind her unfeeling monotone. "Yes, that is their business. Surge is going on a mission; his choice. And you?"
"I have not decided." She would not stutter in front of him twice in a row.
"Best make your decision before the snow totally covers. I doubt your mind, formidable as it is, would endure the blistery cold for very long." She sensed a feeling inside him, small, almost unperceivable, but still there.
"I shall endure. The cold is simply a state of mind."
Coming from anyone else Giovanni would have scoffed, but her…he almost believed her.
"Perhaps but don't risk your life on a mere battle of body versus mind."
'Mere?' Sabrina couldn't suppress her rage.
"The battle is far from mere. If you knew more about me, perhaps you would understand that."
Giovanni knew of the abilities within her, and that she could destroy everything with a thought if she so chose, but he would not coddle her. His honor expected more from him, but he could see from her body language that she was tired…and frustrated.
"You are correct: I don't know much about psychics-but I don't want to lose you over a case of foolhardiness."
Sabrina was too tried to hide her blush. "Thank you for your concern." She said in a monotone.
"Of course, we wouldn't be where we are without you." He never complimented her (or anyone) much but he could indulge just this once. Better her be in the better mood and everyone live than die in pride.
"Anything for the team, sir." She didn't want to ruin an attempt with praise with her ego and over analytical mind.
"Well, I'll leave you to your rest. You need it more than most. Enjoy your time off." He began to walk away.
"What will you do with yours, sir?"
Giovanni briefly stopped and became lost in thought. She caught his change in mood, one of rumination.
"Paperwork. Without bureaucracy the world would grind to a halt."
"I suppose, although I fail to see the need for it."
"Without paperwork, our greatest weapons Mewtwo or the Badge Amplifier would not have existed, or our master plan. It's a substitution for the field work you do." He hated to rationalize.
"It is but it gets things done."
"Doesn't leave much for a lively existence does it?" Sabrina felt pity for the Boss Rocket. She enjoyed the battle: it was the only time she could indulge in emotion. To cut oneself from that, and the fact Giovanni once knew of the thrill of battle, the life of a Gym Leader, felt like emotional death.
"The price for ambition I suppose. If I don't see you, then have a nice vacation." And he left her to her thoughts.
'A pity that such talent has to be sacrificed for the glory of the Rockets.' She wondered how such emotions began to leak out.
'Perhaps, because you care for him.' Her conscience observed. Sabrina let out a scoff.
'I care for no one. It's a means to an end.'
'Then why feel pity-and your blushes?'
'Lapses, I was fatigued. Nothing more.' She walked down the corridor.
'Once is a lapse, twice is a pattern. Father's instruction.'
Sabrina said nothing, and was reminded of what would happen if she went home: her father drilling further training into her and saying her association with Team Rocket, and their shadowy, mysterious leader was a foolish mistake.
'It was a chance to be more than a mere sideshow attraction.'
She rubbed her fingers on the R insignia on her uniform. She, unlike the others of the Elite Triad, wore it proudly. 'A symbol of who I am, a symbol of rising. Like the Rocket I am now. Why shouldn't I feel a measure of…pride.'
The only other one who shore his insignia was Giovanni. Although he was muted about his work, he had a sense of pride. Some within the organization would call it gradiosity, she wouldn't.
'He has a superior vision and clarity, which is why I joined in the first place.'
'That wasn't the only reason.' Her conscience chided.
'No. But it made for lovely motivation.'
'He gave you the release that was needed.'
'Yes. The jobs he's assigned to me have done that rather well.'
'But how long will it last?' Sabrina felt perplexed by that.
'I have been doing fine so far, I do not foresee a problem.'
'For now, but wanting more than global domination and refinement of the power will happen. It is inevitable. You're revealing that by your pattern with him.' Sabrina had no counter.
'An unfortunate side effect…to most. But I am not like most people. This…lapse is the result of latent hormones, a triviality.'
'No, but no one is immune. Also Father's words.' Sabrina clutched her hand to her tunic.
'I'll prove him wrong. Even as I freeze.'
'You've been associating with the Rockets for too long. You're absorbing their grandiosity and pride.'
'I am in control of myself.'
'Until you see him next.'
Sabrina ignored her conscience and continued walking. 'Pattern with him. Absurd.' She tried to block him from her thoughts.
'Today I felt an aura of…misery and ennui from him. How interesting.' She realized her error.
While the night went silently on, the snow sprinkled down and down. Giovanni was watching the snow via his security cameras.
'The silent death is right on schedule.'
He went to his PC and logged on the database. He was observing today's active roster. Nearly half the agents were crossed out.
'No doubt they crawled and struggled to the computers to check themselves out. I should dock them for that, something Mother would do.'
He then searched the higher ranks and saw the Elite Triad. Sabrina's name was still on the roster.
'Interesting. Thought she would have left for home to spite me. I misjudged her. Might as well start on recommendation for promotions while I'm here.'
He watched her file and noted her supervision of the Eevee project and the spying on the Celadon City Gym Leader Erika. 'Exceptional work, hasn't failed me like Koga or Surge. Plus her abilities and skills make her more advanced. Perhaps I should assign her to Silph and oversee the Badge Amplifier. If I'm indisposed hunting this brat Surge and Koga told me about, I'll need a second command. She'll be a good inspiration.'
'For the men or yourself?' His conscience questioned as he continued to glance at the file.
'It's for the good of the outfit. I'm above such petty concerns.'
'Then why give her more power? Mother was strict on handing authority to subordinates.'
'She's a good agent who hasn't failed me. If she was going to take over, she would have already.'
'Or she's getting into your good graces and a double cross. Most of Mother's enemies came from within.'
Giovanni wanted to laugh. 'That's because they were more ambitious; people who weren't concerned with the price of tape recorders and audio equipment and the transporting of extra agents to a hazardous site.'
'Different when you have lack of resources.'
'True enough. The technologies to achieve her dreams weren't even designed yet. She had to increase her profit margin with what she had. Like this.' He typed in a few commands and a distorted, melodic mew was heard from the speaker.
'Hard to believe my weapon came from that, her greatest moneymaker to the world.' He allowed the pride to wash over him and nearly smiled.
'Fitting testament to your power. Be ironic if you allow the psychic too near Mewtwo and they bond and destroy you.'
'Perhaps. If I trust her enough to show her.' He turned off the audio.
'If you trust her with additional rank, then you may lapse and do it.'
'Unless I instill enough loyalty in her and she can control it for me.' He said in rising smugness.
'But then you'll be at her mercy. And Mother was especially clear when it came to mercy.'
'It's an emotion that can be controlled like the others. Just like certain people can be more controlled than others. Her powers are straining her, giving her rank will put her mind at ease, establish trust and then I can control and twist.' The dark smile was rising in strength.
'But she's a mind reader.'
'Easy enough. After observing enough of her suppression exercises, I'll gain her trust and block her.'
'Until a lapse, a second of dropping your guard.'
'Mother once said to her agents: "you knew the job was dangerous when you took it." I wish I knew where she acquired that-but it fits.'
'Then accept the risks and chance of choking on your pride.'
'But not until I make my mark on the world.' He logged out and walked to the cameras which were slowly being whited out.
'Perhaps the snow will be my undoing. The last thing I see may be white. Be rather ironic.' His thoughts then turned to black: a raven black.
'Perhaps some good may come from this. Having…a companion to these operations wouldn't be so insufferable. She and I are similar—we are both intelligent and know what power is and want to taste it. And she does show enthusiasm with the uniform, which is refreshing. But how to approach her?'
Her personnel file only had her vital statistics and her history upon joining the Rockets, everything else was blank. Other agents would have raised a red flag with the Boss Rocket but with her great power lying just beneath, he broke protocol.
'But if I promote her and allow her to approach Mewtwo, how many other rules will I break?' The risks were dire.
'But then if I don't, what will I miss? The chance to control the symbol of my mother and our ambition, and what else?' Giovanni tried to complete the thought, but it seemed so…out of reach.
'No matter. More important agendas to think about.'
He began to contemplate a plan as the snow continued to fall.
The alarm clock blipped its incessant charms at seven A.M. Sabrina allowed herself to sleep in an extra two hours; an indulgence she learned from her mother. She groggily sat up and willed the curtains to open. The sheer brightness made her shut her eyes tight, and she rubbed the world into focus.
Through her third story window, she saw the powder covering everything in sight. 'How…pleasing.'
From her vision, she saw a few Dan'in walking and soon playing in the snow. 'Childishness. I fail to see the point of sullying yourself in that. Fools; just like the children back then.'
She remembered the other children just like her, playing in the snow. She asked her father why she couldn't go outside.
'You are above them Sabrina. Their childishness would only tie you down.'
'But father, I feel their delight. Can I not see why they act like that so I can understand them more fully?' She had a…twinkle in her eye long thought to be buried away.
'If you do, you will indulge more and more and it will be for nothing. And we'll have to start over. Do you want that?' Sabrina looked at her mother; the older woman had a pained look on her face.
'Come, we have meditation to do.' She stole a glance of the children outside playing, and then never looked back.
The Psychic Rocket sneered as some of the Dan'in screamed in delight and threw snow at each other, while their Pokemon ran around in the snow.
'Shouldn't they do something more productive?' She observed one last minute before entering in the shower and indulging in the tingling sensation of the hot water as it drizzled on her flesh.
'Beyond meditation and training, today will be slow and uneventful. Perhaps Giovanni can play a practice match with me to pass time.'
'And focus is brought to him again, the pattern forever repeating.' Her conscience chimed in.
'Curiosity and boredom, nothing more.'
'The pattern is getting stronger with your subtlety; soon it will be irreversible.'
'It will not go that far.'
'The glances, the blushes, the stuttering, all subtle clues to reinforce, perhaps a direct course of action is best.'
Sabrina nearly double took. 'Direct?'
'If you overindulge, then you can stop the pattern. Another of Father's commandments.' Sabrina turned off the shower.
Sabrina weighed the risks: she knew hardly anything about the Boss Rocket, other than that his ambition and his intellect were most appealing. Her curiosity and the fact that they were alone made the opportunity too good to pass up.
'What if I absorb too much?'
'What if you ignore it and it gnaws at you for eternity; paralyzing you?' Sabrina got out and looked at herself in the mirror as she wiped away the steam; circles under her eyes, with the tinge of being bloodshot, her alabaster skin turning even paler.
'I can not ignore this. I have to resolve this before further damage results.'
She went to her closet and gripped a clean uniform, her thumb lingering of the crimson R. 'How is he capable of this? How does he make me lose my…' The thought kept eluding her, another by-product of her possible feelings towards the Boss Rocket. She let out a sign, put on the tunic, then her stockings and boots, and walked out of the room.
Giovanni decided to emerge from the row of slot machines, and noticed how empty the Game Corner was. He even dismissed the clerks, why waste the overtime? He walked by the transparent doors and noticed how the snow was at his shins. 'The weatherman was wrong. An extra foot.'
He glanced through the window to the empty streets. 'Celadonians are smart than I give them credit for; even the compulsive gamblers aren't here.'
His eyes turned to a handful of children suddenly appearing and beginning to play in the snow.
He noted a pair of children, a little boy and a little girl walking closer to the Game Corner, waving their tongues, trying to catch snowflakes.
'Looking and acting like dogs. No wonder our generation is doomed.'
"I bet I can catch the most!" The little boy chirped in between the flakes descending upon his tongue.
"Nope! I will!" The little girl countered waving her tongue around.
Giovanni actually watched them with fascination. 'All they're doing is waving their tongues around catching the crystals. Why? It's merely water.'
"I'm gaining on you, Megan!" The cherub turned his back on her.
"Says you." Megan bent over, scooped up a snowball, and threw it at the little boy. "Take that, John!"
The compact sphere splattered into a soggy mess on his coat. He quickly turned to her.
"What? It was a giant snowflake." She closed her eyes and nodded in an expression of authority.
"You'll see a giant snowflake when you're eating one." He was beginning to scoop a snowball while Megan stood her ground.
"You throw like a girl. I'm not afraid."
Sabrina wandered the corridors, searching for Giovanni until she saw a flight of stairs with a light at the top. The main entrance was closed off almost 9/10ths of the time, so she decided to investigate. She teleported to the top of the steps and glanced toward the emptiness of the casino. She saw Giovanni's back to her, right by the door. She felt him and sensed his thoughts-fragmented yet focused. She stealthily walked over to him and watched the scene from several feet behind his form.
She saw the two children playing in the snow. She couldn't understand the action either.
"Give your best shot." Megan stuck her tongue out.
"I will!" He threw the snowball, but the projectile quickly lost altitude and joined the rest of the snow on the ground.
"See? I'm right…as always." Megan donned a cute smirk.
"You'll see how right you are after you get an ice coating." John went running.
"Have to catch me first." Megan maintained her smirk as she ran from him.
"Megan, get back here!" The echo began to run into the Rocket casino. Both Giovanni and Sabrina were dumbfounded. These two children…were having fun in the snow. It was unfathomable to the Rockets. Snow was simply a weather condition, not for amusement.
'How is that possible?' Both thought simultaneously.
'Weak children.' Giovanni sneered and turned to see Sabrina.
"Sabrina, what are you doing here?" He tried to calm down his slightly rapid heartbeat.
"I saw the main entrance open, and I was concerned. May I ask what were you doing up here?"
"The security cameras couldn't gage the depth of the snow and the remaining Dan'in are outside in it."
"I see. I noticed that they were…making fools of themselves in the snow earlier." Sabrina tried to suppress her venom.
"That's a valid method of reasoning. I merely call it "childishness." "
"Agreed. And after that spectacle I can agree with your term."
Giovanni nearly gave a small smile. "Yes, after that display. I fail to see the point."
"I fail to understand as well. The snow is an intrusion, nothing more. Yet people indulge themselves by playing in it. It's merely frozen water. Have they lost their minds?" Sabrina tried to curtail her rising emotion.
"I'm curious as to why. Is there some gratification?"
"From what I felt…it's merely a form of play. I remembered the other children playing in the snow when I was younger. "
Giovanni's ears perked up. A childhood memory, useless in its own right but coming from the Psychic Rocket, it was an opportunity to execute the plan.
"Really? Did you join them?"
Sabrina felt anxiety and curiosity from the Boss Rocket. She enjoyed the charge his current emotions were giving her, yet she felt tinges of deeper emotions completely alien to her.
"No. I wouldn't sully myself with such a childish act."
"Exactly. Why conform to their standards when you don't have to? Let them show themselves for the fools they are." He said, gaining a smirk from the little girl.
"Never bothered to think of it like that."
"Sometimes an outside observer can make a better analysis."
"True. Considering that we feel the same about this, did you do the same when you were younger or…did you indulge with them?" Sabrina knew why she felt this way, but why did he?
Giovanni wasn't sure to reveal such information but if he was going to establish a rapport; this was as good of an opportunity as any. As long as he didn't reveal that much; he had an image of mystery to maintain.
"Never. I simply failed to see the point and my mother agreed. I had my studies to contend with, which had a greater priority." Close enough to tell the truth.
Sabrina zeroed in on the final parts of his statements. 'Studying? So he was engrossed with this task as a child just as I was. Interesting.' So absorbed were her thoughts, a blush slipped past her.
He ignored the blush and turned back to the window. "How fortuitous that your mother had your way of thinking."
He let a sigh, almost unperceivable. "Well, my studies were more important, otherwise I wouldn't be where I am."
"As leader of the Rockets or the Viridian Gym Leader or simply being yourself?" She allowed a sliver of hope for herself that the Boss Rocket might take the hint and opened up more; particular about his past-a greater mystery than Mew.
'I wish I had a safe answer for her. I suppose a half truth shall be sufficient.'
"I think myself best qualifies. It was to "unleash my potential." That's the way she put it."
'Potential. Heard my share of synonyms. So much like myself. I wonder if he ever tried to indulge like I tried to with the snow.'
"I'm sure the grueling work was worth it. And the cherishing of the little free time you have received for yourself."
"Actually no. I never had free time. Always busy with a subject." He continued the game. The Psychic Rocket's slight pity for him began to gestate.
"Such as now with the paperwork?" Giovanni chuckled ruefully as he turned to her.
"One way of looking at it. But we wouldn't have all this without my ability to part forth the red tape."
"I don't disbelieve it but…all human beings need rest and relaxation from their routines." The Boss Rocket nearly laughed out loud.
"You an expert in people now?" He was starting to enjoy this.
"I'm somewhat of one after seeing you and your precious bureaucracy authorizing agents to vacations before their burn out states cause liability to the organization." She's surprised herself by mimicking his wording. 'Must be a side effect of this "pattern." '
Giovanni's smirk grew stronger. "Impressive wording. You'd have a good life as a paper pusher."
"Bite your tongue."
"Yes. And furthermore…I can't argue with that logic. But it's not like I can hop a helicopter to Seafoam." He folded his arms, still defying her.
"No, that's impossible. But you can use the climate as a proxy."
"I thought we agreed it was childishness."
"It is. But you did say that you were "curious as to why? The gratification?" " Sabrina stared straight through him. The Boss Rocket couldn't counter such logic and it was his own to top of it. 'Good counters. And she can stand her ground. How refreshing.'
"Well, given that line of logic…I can't argue with you on that. An experiment would help get my mind off my precious bureaucracy." He arched an eyebrow.
Sabrina wouldn't give him the satisfaction by smirking or further blushing. "A good sociological experiment can easily do the task. And with the Dan'in and the children playing would make for a good observational baseline."
"As long as we're taking time to experiment, might as well take our Ice Pokemon as well. The environment can be positive for them."
"If you're suggesting a battle…it would be a good diversion. I haven't battled you yet." A whisper of a smile played of the Psychic Rocket's lips.
"I'm always good for a challenge. Haven't lost yet." Giovanni enjoyed playing his Gym Leader bravado; made battling much easier for him.
"The keyword is yet. You've have never faced me." She was slowly adopting his emotion. He was turning to walk to the back.
"Today will be a day of firsts, I'm sure. I'll meet you here in ten minutes. Dress warmly in case your mind isn't up to the task." He gave a sideways glance before he went downstairs.
'The better question is how much of your mind is up to the task?' Her smile was slowly growing.
Giovanni was rummaging through his closet. 'Ah. Here we are.' He pulled out a long black trenchcoat. 'Been wondering when I'd be able to wear this.'
'Still smells like mothballs.' As he put on the coat, he was wondering about Sabrina and the possibilities of today.
'I wonder how this will go.'
'She's adopting my patterns and logic. This is almost too easy.' He opened the top drawer of a dresser and put on a pair of fleece lined black gloves.
'Perhaps it is too easy. Maybe she read my mind already and is thinking of a way to dispatch me. A case of who played who.'
'Or she is merely using my personality as a way of goading me into something else. Never met a woman so cerebral and mysterious that didn't get on my nerves.' He grabbed a pair of black boots from the closet and pulled them on.
'Since this seems to be a time for indulgences and experiments, you could see her as less of a means of an end.' His conscience chimed in.
Giovanni was suddenly lost in thought. 'Would it be so insufferable to approach this at face value? Mother always said search for the ulterior motive and if not, then weakness.'
'But then as that brat demonstrated with Surge and Koga, not everyone is out to get someone. You're merely in that business.' Giovanni returned to the drawer and put on a black stocking hat.
'Since this is merely an experiment, I suppose I could live it alone and take it as it is. Just need to be cautious. I'm not dealing with an ordinary person.'
'Careful. Over cautiousness has been a source of undoing before.'
'Yes. Mother was over cautious in many aspects. I rather spare myself that.'
Giovanni let out and began to walk out the door. 'I wonder if I can tell which will be the game and which will be real.'
'At least it should be amusing if nothing else.' And he walked to the oncoming brightness.
Sabrina was waiting by the doors, she saw snow descending once again, covering the tracks of the children.
'He nearly exposed himself that time. He feels tensest about his past and his mother. I can empathize. That could be the key to unlocking his mystery and possibly a link to bind us. '
'His shields did crumble briefly. With play as subterfuge, perhaps he can open more.' Her conscience mused on the Boss Rocket.
'Perhaps. Hopefully I have enough emotions to test that, if I don't…' She heard footsteps and turned to the reverb. Giovanni nearly smirked at the sight: Violet coat with faux fur on the sleeves and the hood, violet mittens, black boots, complete with black snow pants that hugged her hips. He hated to admit to himself how attractive she looked.
"Interesting look. I always pictured you in black, like that architecture design I see with some of the agents in civilian clothes." Giovanni allowed himself to look over her twice.
"Architecture…you mean gothic?"
"I believe that's the term yes."
"It can be many things: a state of mind, a sense of fashion, even a new sort of status. And I wouldn't waste my time." Sabrina scoffed as she folded her arms, her classical gesture.
"Sounds like you had some experience to make those descriptions." 'Now the tables will turn.' Giovanni suppressed the urge to return the gesture.
"I've been around."
"Your age tells differently."
"All the more to deceive." She said without a beat. Giovanni slipped out a chuckle.
"Touché. Ready to go into the abyss?" He gestured to the door.
"Fine by me." They proceeded to walk to the door. Giovanni opened the door for the Psychic Rocket and gestured. "Ladies first, I believe." Sabrina was so surprised she released another small blush. 'Hopefully he can think this from the blast of air.' She went out and tentatively made her first step on the ivory covering.
She clutched her arms, and her breath crystallized. "I didn't believe it would be this…chilled." Her tone as icy as the climate, Giovanni merely gave off a smirk and walked slowly in the snow, joining her.
"The weatherman was wrong about the inches; it wouldn't be a leap to also be incorrect about the temperature."
"I don't suppose you'd be willing to tell who that is." She began to slightly shiver and pulled up her hood.
"If you're referring to harm on his well being, rest assured I shall make him scream his name when I am finished with him." He continued the smirk and finally surveyed his surroundings. It had a serene silence to it, a rather unique beauty.
"How death should be." He murmured under his breath. Sabrina raised an eyebrow. "Pardon?"
"I always believe winter as time for endings. The snow punctuates as a cover for white, silent death–which is how death should be. More of a peace to it." He sounded like he was in a trance or deeply lost in thought.
Sabrina subtly tried to probe him when she felt a barrier around his emotional state. 'Further training and I might sense what he is feeling.'
"Interesting interpretation. Rather…poetic."
"Not poetry—only the musings of a silly man. Now, shall we? I believe some of the agents went into the forest." He gestured to the west.
"Sure." She said without a beat, and they walked past the Game Corner. She was still sending out her probes, and felt nothing.
"I never realized how pleasing snow appears as it covers all of man's progress." She started the conversation, waiting for a lapse.
"Yes. The appellation of death seems to fit as it triumphs over all and simply none can elude its grip. As in the snow." He wanted to say it in a monotone like hers, yet couldn't suppress his pensive emotions.
"I can see your point—it certainly covers everything in sight." 'What is he feeling?'
"The worse part is it hides in nature. Making it unbeatable as many movies and clichés have shown the classic struggle."
"The classic argument of man versus nature. Yet we're attempting it ourselves." She couldn't let that pass.
"Mewtwo, and your backup plan of the Legendaries. All that."
"Mewtwo is the perfect way to symbolize our newfound dominance of science. And the fact we're using one of the oldest Pokemon in existence as a baseline, yes, further enhances the irony. And the birds are simply a backup to power." They were walking to the nearby forest.
"You're aware of the struggle and the low probability of success it is to be had and yet you continue on. One could call that foolish." She was going to be amused on what his reaction to be.
Giovanni noticed the skeleton trees and sucked in a breath. "Actually, I called it an irony of sorts. But I'd like to inject some of that with ambition and idealism."
'Irony? Must be a wonderfully lurid back story behind that.' "And what would that be?"
Giovanni kept staring at the branches and realized how amused and relaxed the Psychic Rocket made him and the possible slips of the tongue he made. He had to think fast.
"Since my reputation is that of the most powerful of the Gym Leaders, I should have a Pokemon that reinforces that image, that I conquer nature along with man." Fitting logic to fool her, except she felt him as he quickly contemplated.
"And you believe your man-made reputation should override nature." She took the bait, but not after a twist of her own.
"Call it a side effect of being a master of destiny."
"That is what you wish to call it?" Giovanni ignored the remark and trudged on.
They saw some of the Dan'in in the distance through the trees in an open field, throwing snowballs at each other, the two Rockets stopped.
"Enough distance. Time to observe." Giovanni lowered his voice. They could barely hear the taunts but the emotions; one can cut with a knife.
Sabrina sharpened her focus on the distant agents. She felt a deluge of happiness pour from them and flood her shields. The recoil was becoming too strong. She massaged her temple. "Problem?" He glanced at her.
"It's nothing. Fatigue." She couldn't avoid the tiredness in her voice.
Giovanni glanced at the Dan'in and their Pokemon making forts and laughing along the way. 'Childish. But…appears that they're entertaining themselves with it. Building structures; destroying the pristine. Waste of time.'
"If you want to head back, we can." The Boss Rocket said in a perfunctory tone of compassion.
"I am fine." 'I don't want to go back there.' Sabrina felt bitter over her indulgence. He wasn't sure: he actually had a desire to stay outside with her; he didn't want to deal with the paperwork again.
"All right. But the second you falter…we're going." Sabrina was touched by his act of kindness and suppressed her true expressions once again. 'I shall not blush.'
"Thank you. They appear to be enjoying themselves. Some form of pleasure derived from it."
"But why? Why is it so fascinating? They're disfiguring and molding it to their whim." He spat out.
"Perhaps… it's like you said: "molding it to their whim." The thrill of creation often has the feelings of pleasure and contentment attached. That could be an answer." Sabrina surveyed the skeleton trees.
"True, the emotional rush to create is strong but why not do it in all the other months?"
"Nothing to create that has that playfulness attached." She had to maintain her focus.
"That is true. The earth dominates all but this time. A modicum to that theory that the air controls all, I find that slightly specious."
"You would find that specious, Gym Leader of the Earth." Sabrina relaxed and released a smirk.
"Always failed to recognize how an aerial attack is effective when an attack on the foundation is much stronger." He suddenly felt a drip on his head, looked up, and covered his face from the failing snow.
"A loose branch." She said emotionlessly. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine." He brushed himself off and resumed watching the crowd. She narrowed her eyes at the snowballs now being flung and concentrated.
"They seem like they're having the time of their lives, including their Pokemon." He noticed some of Dan'in diving, scooping, rolling and throwing the snowballs.
"Pokemon do take from their masters. You shouldn't be surprised." She allowed for a small sigh, and massaged her temple.
"I'm not, but I didn't think they'd be this content."
"The rest of the year, you have them at a tight leash. They take any free time as manna from heaven."
"I think "tight leash" is a bit much." Giovanni harrumphed.
"You've never dined with them."
"Rather strong implication." He folded his arms.
"You need to have a tight control over them but not enough to make them smothered."
"Yes but if I don't, someone else will take my place. If I became loved instead, it will mean weakness, weakness to be exploited. I can't take that risk. As long as I don't become cruel, then they won't turn." 'Oh Lord, I'm starting to sound like her.'
"Do you think paraphrasing Machiavelli will help your cause?"
"Considering my goals, I'd say yes."
"As long your ambition doesn't supersede your paranoia, you can continue that line of thought." Then Giovanni felt something wet smack him in the back, he turned to find no one there.
"What?" She said with a guileless look.
"Nothing." A theory was beginning to form.
"I'm not sure what's more amusing: them using the snow to build fortresses for defense, or using them for weapons. Man's ability to convert anything into a weapon never ceases to amaze." He played a small smirk.
"You realize of course, there are many ways to twist that sentences and point out your massive ego."
"I'm aware of the irony but you must admit I'm right."
"I am and you are correct: anything can be twisted to a weapon. But the weapon should be as creative as the welder. A lesson I have observed while being with you and the Rockets."
"Yes, that is the difference between an artist and a butcher. The level of creativity." Giovanni had a glint in his eyes not seen before.
"And whether they had passion for their task. Someone doing it mechanically obviously has no concern for the job. Only getting it done."
"Or some odd amusement-like you and the snow. Whatever you're doing, stop."
"I have no idea what you mean." She said in a monotone.
"The branch was one thing; you tipped your hand with the snowball."
"That could have been a sniper."
"Possibly, but you have to consider the timing of the hits. Under your theory, my assailant could have struck at any time, no. The attacks waited for appropriate timing of the conversation which accounts for only you."
"I withdraw my statement about your paranoia being lacking."
"Good. At any rate I hope it felt good."
"What felt good?" She turned to face his smirk again and nearly blushed again.
"Your attempt to play. You joining the masses and twisting the snow to a toy." He bent over and grasped the snow.
"Well…I must confess…it was amusing to taunt you."
"Amusing? Then you're having, dare I say…fun?" He stood up, a fist curled.
"Amusement and fun are two different emotions."
"I don't think so. You need the ability to have fun to find something amusing, like this." He quickly turned and flung a tightly packed snowball at her chest.
"Direct hit I say." He nearly smiled.
Sabrina gave him a dirty look. "So it would seem." She nearly smiled. The branches rattled and the dust sprinkled before the solid snow started to fall all around him.
"You have to do better than to sprinkle powder." He taunted as he began to run.
"It will be more than powder." She began to run in hot pursuit.
She willed the snow to life, and created snowballs and flung them at the Boss Rocket. He ducked and hid behind a tree as they splattered on the ground. "Pitiful." He said bemused. A branch trembled.
The powdered debris fell on him; he covered his head with his arms as he grunted in frustration.
"You were saying?" She walked to the tree.
"I'm saying you'll need more than your parlor tricks." He lunged out, and flung another snowball.
The snowball stopped and levitated right before it connected. "A parlor trick is more than enough to deal with you."
"Let us see if you are right." He flung multiple snowballs at the Psychic Rocket; she caught them all in time and then allowed to descend on to the ground. He reloaded and flung more.
'The timing issues aren't as bad as I thought it would be.'
Sabrina caught them and then had a thought as they hovered. She returned them at Giovanni. The Boss Rocket kept dodging and made two more. 'Time for a surprise.' He flung them like Poke Balls.
"You never learn." She almost scoffed as she was about to veer them back where they came from.
"I don't know about that." He smirked as he threw a snowball at one of them floating and a bright flash burst from the collision.
A large ashen clamshell materialized, opening to reveal indigo insides and a spherical face and a lone horn above.
"Cloyster." It sneered.
"Spike Cannon at the trees!" Giovanni commanded the bivalve.
Cloyster's horn shot out several spikes at various trees around the Psychic Rocket. The concussion was strong enough that the snow fell off the impacted trees. Sabrina teleported before the snow made its impact. Giovanni smirked and made another snowball.
'Her timing of the teleports should make her in two seconds and if I know her, she'll be right…here.' He rapidly turned and flung the snowball and hit her on the chest as she materialized.
"I'd say I learned a great deal from you." Giovanni gave off a wide smirk as Sabrina dusted herself off.
"You manipulated me." She stated in an as-a-matter-of-fact tone.
"No, I merely observed you and calculated the timing in my head."
"Laudable but your arrogance is once again your undoing." She narrowed her eyes and a snowball was forming and levitated at rapid pace to the Boss Rocket. Cloyster saw the projectile and yelled to its master.
Giovanni moved out of its path by lunging to his right and rolling in the snow. "Please, you have to be faster than…" He never finished his sentence as a snowball was thrown in his face.
"Not fast enough. I made another snowball while you were performing that show." She went over and extended her hand.
Giovanni wiped the snow off his face. "You're lucky I blinked." Instead of getting up, he pulled her down, and she fell on top of him.
Sabrina realized where she was and gave off a strong blush. "Enjoying the snow now are we?" He rather enjoyed the sexual tension. She lingered for a few seconds before she got off him.
"Despite your trick, I'd say—"
"This is where the noises came from." A foreign voice interrupted them. The two Rockets rapidly got up and had to think: if the Dan'in found them like this, it would severely compromise their positions.
"Recall Cloyster." Sabrina whispered to him.
"Cloyster, return." Giovanni recalled the bivalve Pokemon back into its Poke Ball. Sabrina held on to him tightly. "Watch." She teleported them right before the agents made the clearing. They rematerialized high above on a tree branch. "Do not be afraid. I have you." She whispered comfortingly.
The Dan'in looked around the clearing. "Looks like a party." One said.
"Go sweep in teams of two. Make sure there are no witnesses." One commanded and the rest with their Pokemon scattered in various directions.
"Could have waited until we made snow angels." One grumbled to his partner as they ran right by their tree.
"Hold on." She clutched him tighter. He was fortunate his back was to her, he would gladly die a thousand deaths as long as she didn't see him blush. She teleported across the trees, Giovanni used all his will to keep the contents of his stomach private.
They finally materialized near the Game Corner, Sabrina reluctantly released him. "Well, that was more than we bargained for." Giovanni tried to suppress the blush.
"Indeed." She returned to her monotone. He hid his sudden disappointment.
"Been a unique experiment wouldn't you say?" He wanted that blush to return.
"Without a doubt. Although—" He looked up at her.
"I would not have minded to staying there to see what are…"snow angels." " She had a wisp of a knowing glance.
Giovanni gave off a hearty chuckle. "We should save something for next time."
'Next time?' Sabrina raised an eyebrow.
"Now, it's getting cold and we should get inside. Won't do the organization any good if we have stuffed up noses now would it?" He said in a warm tone, a feeling he hadn't had in years.
"No, it wouldn't." They began to walk back to the building.
"Incidentally, what were you going to say before we were interrupted?"
She was silent for a moment; she hoped the emotions she absorbed from him would help think of an excuse.
"Despite your trick, I'd say—it's perfect proof of what an ass you are." She then teleported, he smirked as she faded away.
'Mother would agree-given my behavior there today- but I don't.'
Sabrina willed the clothes off and got dressed in her uniform. 'Perhaps I should have said the truth. That I did enjoy it.'
'But until I'm sure about my feelings about him, I must continue to play games.' She exited her room and walked down the hallway.
'I wonder if he enjoyed it as well. I sensed…contentment, almost…enthused feelings from him.'
She entered the training gym and found a silver thermos with a note lying on one of the mats in the center of the room. She levitated the note to her hand.
—Hot chocolate to warm you up. I enjoyed today, even if you didn't.
She was touched by his gift—and by his words. Her lips were turning, into a small smile. She sat down and picked up the thermos and drank the hot contents slowly, to savor his gift. Her eyes gazed over the remaining liquid.
'I do not think I have had enough rest to resume training today.' She decided to indulge and simply sat there. 'And I still have an experiment to finish.' She closed her eyes and focused on her mind to find him. She'd burned his emotions into her; she can feel him anywhere now. She felt him in his office, and created a connection, long enough to say…
Giovanni looked up from his paperwork and searched his office, he swore he heard Sabrina.
He went back and couldn't stop smirking and nearly blushing again. He didn't know what was the most enjoyable: playing in the snow, her blushing, or her holding him tightly and showing him emotion. He'd rather go back to that than these inventory forms.
'I don't think it would weaken the war effort any if the forms were filled tomorrow.'
He picked his mug of hot chocolate and turned his chair to the security cameras, watching the snow fall, covering everything, including of the remains of the head Rockets' one time of indulgence and play.
'Well, here's to next time.' He raised his mug to the cameras.
This was most entertaining for me because my take on the characters evolved with it. Made it much more binding to me. Nothing left to say but leave a review on the way out and see you in the funny papers.