Fifteen or so years earlier…
I was nineteen with the whole world at my fingertips. I was young, an idealist and faced a future full of amazing prospects. I'd just finished my first two years of school in the Pokémon research field, and while I was yet to chose the area I wanted to get into, doors of possibility were opening up everywhere around me.
But for the moment, it was summer break and I'd just gotten off a two week vacation cruising around the Orange Islands. I was back at home with my family, having just received the news of my life. The top ten students in my class had been chosen to go and be taught at the foot of world famous Professor Oak himself. I was one of those ten.
Naturally, my family was elated, especially my father who himself was a scientist - once renowned in his day, though now considered a batty old fool. We didn't hold that against him. Like me he was a dreamer, and so discovering new concepts was a way of life for him. He taught me to be passionate in whatever I wanted to do. For me, and for the moment, my passion was in my schooling. Though, unlike the remainder of my family, I never really thought too far into the future… or the past at that. I'd always been the sort of person who chose to live in the moment. Decision making had never been a great forte of mine. I guess, in the end, it was that quality that made me better able to handle him. Giovanni that is.
It was on the day of my sister's wedding that everything changed. She and her new husband were doctors. And while I loved my brother-in-law very much, I always thought he lacked character. He was a family man with expectations of the like. But it was alright, my sister was a family person too, and so she was more than happy with the prospect of having a little house with him and settling down and breeding. Hell, she was already several months along in her first pregnancy. I always imagined their house would be perfect, white and tidy with good children who played quietly in the yard with their pet Growlithe.
The wedding itself took place at my parent's farm in the rolling hills just outside Fuchsia City. It was just perfect. I was my sister's only bride's maid, she wanted to have a small wedding but as always, it had turned out much bigger than expected. Not that it mattered, there was plenty of food and joy to go around.
Somewhere during the day, my sister caught up with me and pulled me aside and I'd wrapped her into a tight hug. "I'm going to miss you," I smiled.
"I will too, Delia. But don't you worry, you're next."
I smirked at the thought, I'd always had certain ideals of my 'perfect prince charming' and refused to settle for anything less. Not surprisingly, this always seemed to annoy her, as I'd had my fair share of advances… I just wasn't interested in 'Ken doll' clones.
It was when the evening started to settle in that I noticed the black car pulling up the driveway with its headlights turned off. I squinted in the setting sun, believing this was possibly another one of my brother-in-law's wealthy family members. The car pulled up behind the house just out of view of the wedding, and I watched from my seat as my father quickly ducked away. I would have thought nothing of it… but it was just the look of utter panic I saw in his eyes that told me something was very wrong. So I decided to follow him.
Sliding along the wall of the house, I chose to remain just out of view of the tall man who stepped from the car. He wore a business suit and I knew right then that he was no in-law.
My father was quivering as he approached the man, giving him as warm a welcome as he could, though they both knew why that man was there. The man was a wealthy business man – a man of the mafia. And he was taking over a corporation in place of its previous owner who had since retired. And as his first act of duty, he was calling in all outstanding debts. Unfortunately, my father happened to be number one on his hit-list. With interest, my father owed in excess of 1.5 million dollars!
I couldn't believe my ears. Had my father's endeavours really ended up costing him this much? And what did he have to show for it? Nothing but a tiny farm in the hills.
I remember clearly hearing my father's cries as he begged on hand and knee for clemency. He was an old man after all. But this man named Giovanni wanted to hear nothing of the sort. Instead he simply clicked his fingers and all at once men in uniform jumped on my father and stuffed him into the car.
"If you can't pay me back then you can spend the remainder of your miserable existence working it off."
I knew right then that if I didn't do something, none of my family would ever see my father again. I didn't think, I just tore from hiding, screaming at the top of my lungs. "Stop! Stop! You can't do this!"
I tackled the first man I saw in attempt to get my father from the car but he hit me in the back and sent me tumbling for the dirt.
"You can't do this! He is an old man!"
"Who happens to owe me a lot of money," the man in the suit argued.
The bodyguard who had thrown me to the dirt went to hit me again but with the rise of a hand, Giovanni stopped him mid swing, "forget her, get in the car."
"Yes sir," the bodyguard obliged.
Giovanni barely got one foot into the car when I erupted in a loud shout. "Wait! Take me instead!"
The man stopped, turning his head in my direction and I took the chance to continue in my plea. "He is useless to you. But I'm still young, I can be of more use to you. I'll work off his debt for you if you let him go free," I begged. "My sister… his daughter is getting married today, don't deny him the chance to celebrate this, or to watch his grandchildren grow up."
Giovanni had turned to face me now, his intense gaze drilling into me and the toggles ticking over in his head. "If you take his place you'll be going under contract. Termination of such a contract is unacceptable. You might as well kiss your schooling goodbye, Delia."
I was shocked at the mention of my name and my schooling, but I had to realize that he was a man of the mafia - it was his business to know these things.
"I understand," I don't know how, but somehow I gathered the strength to get to my feet and face him. "I'll accept those terms."
It was only then that I became aware of the desperate wails of my father, begging me not to go through with this. But it was done. The contract signed and sealed. It took only the click of his fingers to have my father tossed from the car as I took up his seat. The door closed behind us and we drove off… and I partook of the last glimpses of my home…