If anyone is reading this for the first time, then let me just say thank you for giving it at least a click. If you're coming back to read it again, then I hope the changes I made are worthwhile. I wanted to take readers deeper, to make you care about the characters, their pasts, and their futures. I updated the opening scene and added a scene at the end to try and accomplish this goal. I will also start including quotes from the animated Clone Wars cartoon from Cartoon Network. When I first began rewriting this fic five years ago, the quotes from the show just stuck with me (I watched a marathon on July 4th of that year, I believe).
This chapter has been updated again, this time for the final time as of 8/24/16.
It is recommended that GS Distress is read first. Otherwise, some things will be confusing.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to Pokémon. All I do own here are any original characters and plotlines. Praise be to Nintendo and everyone who has a had a hand in this franchise that still keeps this 29 year old science teacher playing its games (yay for Sun and Moon) and writing about its characters.
"A child stolen is a lost hope."
Humming to himself, the Pokémon professor checks his tofu and noodles, hoping his dinner is almost done. The man has not had much of a chance to relax and be in a good mood since one of his students went missing over eleven months ago. She was not only his student but a young woman whom he'd watched grow up. When her father went missing on official Pokémon League business (he was an undercover operative, so it was not out of the blue something like that could happen), Samuel and his wife made sure to check in on her and her mother. He knew both parents as it was a small town, and he could sense promise in the young girl. She may not have turned out to be a great trainer, but there is much more to Pokémon than battling. She was proving him right up until that fateful day. Making matters even more dreadful, her mother has passed on after losing her house and her restaurant alongside her daughter in the wake of an illness. Even if Delia does come home, there is almost nothing left for her.
Not only that but he himself has just lost his beloved Robin. They met in university years ago and married soon after he received his PhD while she was working on her Master's thesis. After he left his teaching position to move them and their son back to Pallet Town, they also became research partners. Not only were they a perfect fit in marriage but they accomplished a lot together academically. Often it got in the way of the relationship with their only child, who did not care for Pokémon nearly as much as his mom and dad. Reed became even more rebellious once he became a teenager, but she assured Sam that he would grow out of it. Then six months ago he ran away chasing after a girl five years older than him. Around the time Melia Ketchum fell ill, he finally called home after being gone for all of that time to announce he married the girl they felt was too old for him. To make matters more complicated, he confessed it was a shotgun wedding. While Robin was far more understanding and looking forward to the expansion of their family, Samuel was disappointed more than he was angry. Still, she convinced him things would be okay.
But then Robin fell ill with the same thing Delia's mother caught. Despite all of their work and the best medical care they could get, she also became a victim lost to the virus. That was six weeks ago now, and the only shining light he has had is the news that his son and daughter-in-law are coming back to Pallet to raise their child near him. Not only will it be great place to raise a family but it will be nice to be close to his father Samuel, especially after the death of his mother. That was especially important to his son since his mother just passed away. Samuel doesn't talk about her much since it happened, but everyone can see the toll that loss has taken. His missing student only made it worse. These thoughts he tries not to bother much with, instead opting to focus on smaller and better things.
This is one of those things. Much to his pleasure, his dinner is indeed done. As soon as he reaches for a bowl, however, his doorbell rings. Before answering it, he makes sure to turn off the burner, all the while wondering who it could be at this late hour. Light rain has been falling since around noon, but it got heavy about thirty minutes ago and has yet to let up. The concern replaces the curiosity, though, when he opens the door. Standing there looking apologetic and being soaking wet is his missing student. The shock must be present on his face as the first thing she says is an apology for it being so late.
"Delia," he mumbles out of shock. "Come in out of this rain." He moves aside and ushers his now-found student inside. Without a word, she does as he commands. It's been a long journey, and she is starving, freezing, and tired. He looks around to make sure no one has seen or followed and shuts the door to the cold, dreary outside.
"Professor Oak, I have those results you asked Professor Ivy to email over." Samuel snaps out of his daydreaming and looks at his assistant Tracey. Sure enough, the young man has a paper in his hand and a confused expression on his face. Apparently he appears odd. "Are you okay, Professor?"
"Sorry about that, Tracey. I was just thinking about something else." Tracey's face darkens a bit.
"Do you mean Ash's birthday?" He doesn't answer, but they both know he hit the nail on the head. It has been almost five and a half years since Ash went missing, and his eighteenth birthday is coming up very soon. The older researcher usually gets together with the boy's mother to celebrate and hold onto the hope that he will still return. Tracey always joins them along with Misty and Brock, and if Gary is in town, he comes as well. "Never mind. Why don't we go over this report before lunch?"
"Yes, that sounds like a good idea. I'm curious to see the data she has collected on the differences between butterfree from the Orange Islands and butterfree from the Sevii Islands. You know, her assistants have been studying at the Sevii Islands for the past several months now, and this will be the first paper they try to publish together."
"Yeah, Hope's been keeping me up to date almost every day."
"She sure does call you a lot. I think she may a crush on you." The professor starts to walk away, and Tracey flails a little as he follow.
"Me? Why would she have a crush on me?"
"You still have a lot to learn, my boy."
While the professor and his assistant get to work before lunch, another young man sleeps restlessly on a bed in a dark room. Some may see it as odd that someone so young would be napping at such an early hour, but those people do not understand the concept of working all night. He has had nothing but night assignments for the past week and has yet to adjust to the abnormal schedule. Bad dreams do not help the process, and every night for the last six days he has had dreams that bother him but refuse to be recalled once he is awake.
The young man finds himself standing in the green box at a Pokémon League competition. The first Pokémon he chooses is a bulbasaur, who happily listens to every command. Soon enough the opponent is knocked out. Next a scyther appears on the field. The scyther uses what seems like a quick attack, but bulbasaur wins. Next a bellsprout happens upon the field. This grass type's moves are something he has never seen before, and soon enough Bulbasaur is thrown into the green box, knocking him out for the time. Next he sends out a pikachu, who loses more quickly than bulbasaur. As a last resort, the trainer sends out a muk. Everyone in the audience seems shocked at his choice. The bellsprout tries hurling leaves, but muk's elastic-like body absorbs the energy, causing the leaves to be ineffective. The youth hears himself order a body slam attack, and the poor grass-type is soon covered in the sludge that is Muk They remain still for a few seconds, and when muk finally moves, bellsprout remains motionless on the grass. The trainer in the green box, him, is named the winner, and he then finds himself celebrating with his pikachu, a Pokémon the one dreaming has never owned. The crowd cheers around him.
Awakening suddenly, the youth sits up in bed. That dream was all too real in his mind. Traces of what was said remain in his memory, which help him identify without a doubt that this was a Pokémon League match. Although he has been through Johto and Hoenn, he has never participated in the Indigo League, which makes him wonder all the more why he would dream of a match that took place there, especially from the first person point-of-view. Despite growing up in Kanto, he has never participated in the Indigo League or even visited Indigo Plateau. His father has always encouraged him to reach beyond what is close to home and to search for what is beyond the stars, which translated into him going abroad. But that pikachu gets to him the same way that red-haired girl in the stands gets to him.
He puts his head in his hands and tries to focus on things he knows are real. A young woman with brown hair then enters his mind. He is allowed practically no contact with anyone outside of the organization, and even though there are plenty of grunts, he really only has one friend. She was inducted into the team the same time he was adopted by his father, the group's leader. She was young at the time, only being thirteen, but his father was looking to start recruiting members at a younger age. He felt they could be molded and turn out to be better agents than their older counterparts. At the time, he was about done with a certain trio who failed him constantly. The young man has never met them, but he did see their profiles by accident on his father's desk. They changed goals around that time and have been successful agents in the last five years since they returned from Hoenn.
Shaking his head, he realizes he will not be going back to sleep any time in the near future. Besides, it is almost lunchtime, and his favorite dish is on the menu today. The perks about living on base mean he has access to food whenever he wants as the "company" cafeteria would never refuse to feed the boss's son. Being the sole (albeit adopted) child of an organized crime syndicate's leader affords him some perks.
He plants his feet on the floor and stands up to stretch and toss a shirt on. He chooses a black tee left on his desk chair. After getting in so early, he left his black slacks on. Aside from shoes, the only thing he needs before leaving his room is to comb down his unruly hair. For a while when he was younger, he just had it cut very short, but his father decided he would look better with it longer and slicked back. Due to the spikiness of it, he uses lots of Giovanni's favorite, very expensive hair gel for it is the only thing that works. For now, he decides not to bother with it since he'll just be getting some grub. He might run into Abby, too. She did not have the same assignment as him last night and is on normal time. He knows her well enough to guess that she most likely is hungry right about now and will have the same idea as him.
On the way out of his door, after putting on some shoes, he pauses. Then he decides against grabbing his cell phone. It is unlikely he will need it. The only reason he would is if his father wanted to get a hold of him quickly, but he has not left the base today. At least, those were his plans as of yesterday afternoon. He also makes a mental note to ask about the Indigo League. He and Abby were called back from Hoenn just after he made it to the top four in the Ever Grande Conference. Before that, they traveled through Johto and performed various missions along the way. Perhaps he can convince his father to let him travel around his home region.
With his brown eyes squeezed shut and his fingers rubbing his temples methodically, the young Rocket tries to refrain from losing his cool. His mother and the doctor she hired to care for him since he was but a boy have to constantly remind him of his blood pressure problem. It's an unfortunate condition, likely inherited from his father. Stress exists in many of life's trying situations, but for him, it is extra unfortunate. After all, the son and heir to a crime syndicate will be exposed to more stress than your average person.
Still, despite repeating the stupid mantra the doctor encouraged alongside a prescription, he can feel his blood figuratively boil. He had to push it, had to make her let him run this stupid mission. She always kept him close by to reign him in, and that leash got even shorter when he turned eighteen two years ago. If he is to eventually lead Team Rocket, then he needed field experience, not just simulations, practice, and worksheets. But even then, she only lets him go as far as Viridian, and she assigns him the most pathetic squad to boot. He cannot take it anymore.
"Enough!" The two men and two women flinch and stand in place. "Quit running around like a bunch of torchics with your heads cut off and set the goddamn traps already! We're running low on sunlight, and I know you sorry excuses for grunts have heard the rumors about what lurks out here after sunset."
He is of course speaking about an unknown creature, perhaps a Pokémon, who leaves behind only carcasses. It is disturbing to everyone who hears it, and travelers have stopped coming through the area altogether after many have come across such sights. Some have even been lost to the monster themselves. The forest is only safe in the day, and even then, most don't risk it. That also happens to make it prime ground for catching Pokémon, even if they are not exactly the cream of the crop. There have been sightings of powerful noctowls and hoothoots, which would be useful for their psychic powers. Even a decently-leveled pikachu would be worth it.
"Sorry, boss," a man with an annoying voice, green hair, and green eyes apologizes (ugh, too much green, Gio thinks every time he looks at him). "We just want everything to be perfect."
"I don't care about perfection, Dax, just results."
"It's Doug, sir," he corrects. Gio shoots him a glare, and he gets nervous.
"I don't know why my mother keeps you around."
"Sure you do. I was best friends with her top agent before that Andes incident."
"And she calls me sentimental," he complains. Of course, Gio also knows the man has a son with equally green hair that his mother likes for some odd reason. The boy is foolish and prone to outbursts. Although, most of them revolve around his name. Gio can just never seem to remember it himself. He and his father are useless anyways so it hardly matters.
Interrupting the tense conversation comes the sound of one of the traps they successfully set up actually going off in the distance. By the tone, it is likely a pit trap meant to catch small Pokémon who cannot climb. Gio was hoping for it to be a net trap because that could potentially mean those valuable birds, but he'll settle for this.
"You three stay here and finish setting up the traps. Dougal, come with me."
"Yes sir," they all say in unison. The one picked to come with Giovanni also grabs a bag of tools in case they need to pull anything heavy. As he follows, he thinks that at least the boss got close to his real name this time.
The trap that went off is only fifty meters out so it takes about a minute to reach it, Although it may seem too close to their current position, they were working on spreading out. They thought that in doing so, they would have the best chance to catch as many as possible. As they get closer, however, they begin to hear a voice coming from the hole. He and Doug stop at the edge of it and peer down, unsure of what to make of the situation. He wasn't expecting to catch much, let alone a person, or a young woman to be more exact. Their presence goes unnoticed as she tends to the creature unlucky enough to have fallen into the pit. Judging by her attire, she must be a student researcher of some sort. She might be valuable if she didn't appear so young. As he has come to learn, rookies are never worth the time.
"You," he suddenly calls. Startled, she looks up at him. "What are you doing?"
"Oh, thank goodness. I didn't think anyone else would be around."
"I asked what you're doing. At least have the courtesy to answer the question." Not letting his tone bother her, she explains.
"I was out here doing fieldwork for Professor Oak when I saw this poor numel collapse from hunger and fall into this hole. I had to help it." Gio could ask why the professor would send some girl out to such a dangerous place, but he doesn't really care. Rather, he is amused.
"And just how were you going to carry a fifty pound numel out of a hole all by yourself?" Surprising him, she gets a little bashful.
"I hadn't thought that far ahead. I just knew I needed to do something."
"Oak must be desperate for students if he'd take an idiot like you." The insult to both herself and her mentor angers her, and she stands up to defend them both.
"Professor Oak is one of the most brilliant men in Kanto, and if caring about Pokémon makes someone an idiot, then fine, I must be a huge idiot."
"Well, we can both agree on that. Come on, Dale. We don't need to waste our time any further. I have no use for a dopey numel." The camel Pokémon, known to be too daft to realize it's been injured, who cannot walk when it needs food, whose stubby little legs look ridiculous, can remain in its hole with that dumb girl.
As they turn to walk away and leave the duo trapped, Gio feels slightly bad about it. Sure, she's a moron for coming out here alone and getting trapped as sunset approaches, but even he does not like to condone people to such terrible fates. Still, he keeps walking. It's not his business, anyway. What catches his attention, though, is the sound of a Pokéball opening. The next thing he feels are two vines around his ankles. He nearly trips over himself, but Doug catches him. Annoyed, Gio yanks away. He looks back at the small bulbasaur, who now has him trapped.
"What's the big idea?" he calls out. "Order it to release me now!"
"First you have to promise to help us!" she yells back.
"Why don't you just use your stupid bulbasaur to lift it out? Surely it can handle the weight." Her reply is weaker this time.
"Actually, he got hurt last week. He's not supposed to lift anything heavy." That exasperates the Rocket heir even further.
"You brought an injured Pokémon to a dangerous forest as your means of protection?" Knowing that he is again insulting her, she raises her voice.
"So I don't always think ahead, okay? Excuse me for existing!" He scoffs, agreeing to both points because he knows sarcasm when he hears it. Doug turns to his boss and begins speaking softly.
"Hey, we should help. I'm sure we can find a use for a numel. It is a ground type, after all, your favorite. And the girl can be useful, too. I'm sure Professor Oak would do anything to get her back." His eyes narrowed, Gio stares at the man. For once, Biff's father is actually right.
"Fine," he yells to her. "We'll help. Now let me go."
"Bulbasaur, release the stupid jerk," she orders. That pisses him off, however.
"Stupid-!" Doug holds him back.
"Remember what I said," he whispers. Still not liking it despite the obvious benefits, he relents. Both men come back to the hole. Doug sets the bag down and starts ruffling through it. As he looks, he speaks to her.
"I'll toss down a couple of ropes, okay? You tie them both around the numel. You can tie knots, right?" Unlike his boss, he is not at all sarcastic.
"Yes, I can do that."
"Good. Then me and Gio here will help pull the lug up, and you can help from down there. Then we'll help you out." She agrees, and he tosses the ropes down as he said.
As soon as both knots are safely but not too tightly around the fire-camel, Doug hands one rope to Gio. He keeps the other for himself. Their combined strength and patience (though Gio has considerably less of it than the other two) leads to the safe extraction of the numel. Doug sets about untying the collapsed creature while he reminds her to hang on for her turn. To both his surprise, however, she climbs out on her own just as Doug undoes the second knot. Although his boss won't say anything, he is surprised as well. She recalls her bulbasaur as he has no need to be out anymore.
"Wow, how did you do that?" Doug asks. She smirks and crosses her arms.
"Still think I'm an idiot?" she directs mostly at Giovanni.
"Well, aren't you just the gentleman."
"I never claimed I was." They glare at each other some more. Doug, however is getting anxious. The sun will be setting below the horizon is half an hour, tops.
"Boss, please just capture the numel so we can check the other traps and then get out of here. I don't want to become that thing's next meal, and neither do you." Hearing that, the young woman uncrosses her arms.
"What traps?" Taking Doug's advice, he pulls out an unused Pokéball and tosses it at the numel. It is captured without incident, and Gio puts the ball away. Maybe his mother will let him keep one for once. Dirk's right- it could be useful.
"Our Team Rocket traps. Didn't the R on my hat give it away?" Doug points at the cap on his head, and she finally does notice a large, red R adorning the front. In all of her concern over the numel, she did not notice it at all.
"I thought researchers needed a keen eye." Because he is right (that was one reason she came out here, after all, to work on her observation skills), she doesn't say anything back. "Come on. Let's get out of here." Giovanni and Doug begin to walk away, but she doesn't realize he was talking to her, too. Determined not let the numel stay in the hands of Team Rocket along with anything else they capture today, she runs in front of them to stop their movement forward.
"I'm coming, too."
"I thought that was a given," Gio says. Her expression shows she obviously was not expecting that. "Like I would leave someone out here who can get the authorities on my trail."
"I don't care about ratting you out. I just want to protect the Pokémon."
"Good luck with that."
With no further words needing to be spoken, he begins to walk again. To ensure that she comes along as well, he grabs her arm as he passes her. He pays no attention to her surprised expression and instead thinks of his mother. She will either love him for bringing home a ransom subject, or she will hate him for bringing home an outsider, a foolish girl no less. If her reaction is the latter, then he can have his fun screwing with his mom's head. That should punish her for the mission she sent him on today. He smirks as the trio keeps walking.
If you've read the first story or even looked at the tags for this one, hopefully it's obvious who Giovanni met in the forest that day. I had in my head how their original meeting went for a long time now, but it was really fun to write it out. He thinks she's an idiot, she thinks he's a jerk. I also enjoyed showing where Ash got his brashness from. Plus I snuck in a reference to another canon character. I plan to do more of that.
Until next time, *tips hat*