Chapter 22 - What Lies Beneath (Part 2)
"You look alot like your sister you know." Bill said with a smile, handing me a peanut butter sandwich. "Sorry, it was the only thing in the fridge."
"You... know April?" I asked, before looking down at the plate.
The sandwich was the best looking piece of food I had ever seen and I wasted no time in scoffing it down. I had been starved for what felt like an age and eating felt good but also like poison at the same time as my stomach cramped every time i swallowed, making me wince in pain.
"Your body's just got to get used to eating food again, don't worry." Bebe smiled.
After calming myself down, Bill and Bebe helped me up onto a computer chair whereas Celio disappeared to cool off. The pair apologized for their friend's behaviour explaining that he was on edge - they all were.
"Yeah, she rescued me from the Rockets in Cerulean City about a week and a half ago. If it wasn't for her, this" He said, slightly lifting his arm in the sling, "wouldn't have been my only injury."
"She was with the Rockets? - Is she okay?!"
"She's fine. It was because of her and her friend that me and two others managed to escape and loads of pokemon were returned to their rightful owners. They're heroes."
“A boy named Alex I think. Brown hair, stripy scarf, glasses?"
I was stunned. I felt pride in my little sister for helping so many people but at the same time one of the reasons i let her travel with Alex was so she could stay out of trouble. My train of thought was interrupted by Celio walking back down the steps carrying a laptop under his arms.
For a moment the four of us said nothing. Celio then slowly approached our group in the corner of the room.
"I... I'm sorry for what I said earlier." He said with his head to the floor, his apology seeming genuine. "It's just that, well... Let me start from the beginning." He sighed, pulling up another nearby chair from the mess.
"Three years ago, when the Trainer PC network was still fairly new, we had trouble connecting the Kanto system with the one in Hoenn. So, to fix the problem I managed to set up an amplifier here in the Sevii Isles, but it needed the power of two relics, which according to local legend, were named the Ruby and the Sapphire."
"They were rocks with enough energy in to be used as a kind of battery for the machine, similar to how Moon Stones have a form of radiation in them." Bebe added.
"So with the help of a young trainer we managed to find the Ruby and the Sapphire, but unfortunatly for us, the latter was stolen by a scientist; a scientist working for Team Rocket." Celio continued.
"Gideon." I said, putting everything I had heard at the warehouse into place.
"Exactly. Needless to say the Rockets were in the middle of their 'disbanding' and so it was fairly easy to re-obtain without too much hassle. Then the problems began. After a couple of weeks the machine began to continuously overload, so I took a few readings - the relics were exerting tremendous amounts of energy. Energy that I had never seen before."
"We were astounded by the level of power these relics had but we could not work out just why, so we decided to send them to someone who could find out more about them - Dr Moon." Said Bill, looking me in the eye.
"One of the best in his field, scientifically speaking." Bill said.
"In his early years on your home island, your father accidentally discovered a hidden temple in the woodland and instead of reporting the discovery, he kept it to himself.
The temple was empty, looted by thieves in the past for all it was worth, nothing of value was left apart from the partial remains of a wall mural.
This piqued his curiosity and so he began studying it whenever he could but wasn't able to make heads or tails of it. He knew it was a piece of Orange Lore so he began going through all sorts of legends and theories, even consulting with Professor Juniper on creation myths but still came to nothing - he'd reached a dead end." Celio explained.
"Then, out of nowhere, the Unown code was cracked. Instantly, thanks to generations of painstaking archaeology in the Ruins of Alph, we could decipher and understand centuries upon centuries of history - of course there were regional variations but the base understanding remained.” Bebe added.
I remembered that. Dad's job was apparently the reason we lived on Cleopatra Island in the first place; it was a place steeped in ruins and culture but apart from a small community, it was virtually deserted.
The year the Code was cracked he was a different person. He hardly spoke to any of us, and if he did it was about his work - he shut himself away from the rest of the world.
"With the rough translation of the symbols on the mural he found out that it revolved around five relics known as the 'Gems' - the 'Diamond', the 'Ruby', the 'Sapphire', the 'Emerald' and the 'Pearl'.
To anyone else, this would have been just another piece of superstitious myth that had been lost in time, but Dr Moon thought there was something more to it. Unfortunately for him, the trail still ran cold.
The mural looked as if it once contained the location of the other Gems but, like everything else in the temple, it had either been destroyed or long forgotten."
"Imagine the look on his face when we turned up out of the blue with two of them!" Bebe cried.
"Needless to say, he told us about his little hobby and, out of curiosity, we agreed to help his research along by taking him to the Dotted Hole and Icefall Cave, where the Ruby and Sapphire were originally found.
Inside, we noticed a wall mural alot like the one found on Cleopatra, only it was preserved perfectly. It displayed similar pictures and symbols to its counterpart but also contained a map which displayed the location of the other Gems. Using it, we managed to find the Emerald and then eventually the Diamond; the only thing missing was the Pearl. And after studying the mural over again we found that the Pearl was the important one – it was the catalyst.”
“…The catalyst for what?” I asked, too concentrated on trying to keep up to think about my feelings.
"The Gems had apparently been worshipped in ancient times for their ‘magical powers’. They were sacred items used in rituals to grant humans control over the elements, similar to pokemon." Celio revealed.
"Wait, so you're telling me these Gems can give people Pokemon powers?"
"Yes. But much more powerful, they would not be restricted to one single type. Each Gem represents a different element - with all of them they could wield any type out there."
"Dangerous. And wrong. At first we didn't believe it. But thinking back upon the amount of power they exerted, it was surely possible." Bill added again.
"We warned your father of the dangers, if they got into the wrong hands, what destruction could happen... but he wouldn't listen. He continued, obsessed for weeks until one day we discovered that Dr Moon hadn’t been telling us the entire truth. Alongside the first piece of the mural in the Cleopatra Island site, he had found what he believed to be the Pearl.
When we went to confront him however, he handed the Gems back to us shouting to high heaven that we had started this so we should take the gems back and leave him alone. He gave us four of the relics before saying that he had hidden the Pearl in a place that no one will ever find.
...But it was too late.
The Rockets must have somehow gotten wind of the research and well... it cost him his life."
“But… I don’t understand. If you have all the Gems then how did Mr Fuji have one?” I asked, trying to digest all the information at once.
Bebe spoke up this time, with a look of sadness and shame across her pale face. “Well, when we heard what had happened to your family, it didn’t take us long to realise what the Rockets were after. We made a pact; Lanette, Bill, Celio and me, to each take a Gem and find a safe, secure place to hide it and not to tell another soul where it was. Just incase… well, if one of us got captured.”
Celio looked to the floor. “They took Lanette.” He said, slowly looking up to face me. His bottom lip was trembling. “On her way from Hoenn. She… She couldn’t get here quick enough.”
“So you see we are all involved.” Bebe said, clasping Celio’s hand. “…Will you help us?”
I was overwhelmed. So much information in such a small amount of time- too much; my father’s obsession with a thousand year old myth, relics that can give people control of the elements and finally, a reason for the slaughter of my home island.
“I-I need time to think... Sorry.” I said, slowly rising to my feet, clutching to the wall behind me for support. Bebe quickly stood up to assist me as I tried to tackle the staircase leading back outside, into the fresh air of the night.
As soon as Adam disappeared out of sight, Bill turned to Celio.
“Why did you lie?”
“I had to. The truth would have killed him.”
The voice was a woman's but not the redhead Rocket's; someone else was in there and she daren't turn to face them.
"Meena you're okay…" The girl whispered, appearing beside April, kneeling down and speaking into the exact cage that she was just trying to open.
The girl was dark-skinned with black hair tied up using a bandana, wearing unusual clothes, two metal bracelets on her right wrist and a small necklace around her neck. Her accent was thick and foreign but the language the two spoke was the same. She had seen April trying to free her pokemon earlier, so quickly made up her mind on where her allegiances lied but April however, remained unsure.
A small yellow pokemon with red cheeks and a round, blue and white pokemon followed close behind the girl; the small, yellow pokemon greeting its blue cheeked counterpart by rubbing their cheeks together through the bars creating static. April recognised the blue and white pokemon as a Marill that instead of running up to the other pokemon, clung to its trainer's leg looking petrified at everything happening around it.
"Get back, we'll make quick work of this." The girl smiled.
"-wait!" April whispered sharply, grabbing the girl's attention. April pointed towards Surge and the redheaded woman.
A look of annoyance spread across the girl's face. "Looks like we'll have to do this the old fashioned way." She reached under her bandana and pulled out two small hexagonal pieces of metal, each end with a different thickness and length and began using one to unscrew the hinges of the cage. "Can you give me a hand?"
April quickly nodded, took one of the peculiar bits of metal and set to work on her side of the cage.
"Who are you?" April asked whilst trying to unscrew the hinges which were much tighter than she had anticipated.
The girl looked at her strangely as if judging whether or not to divulge the information. "Naoko... Who're you?" She said, removing one of the hinges and making it look easy.
"I'm April. Why are you down here?" April asked, quick and to the point.
Noako explained that she was a passenger above deck and when her pokemon ran below, her and her friend Dillan who worked on the ship came down searching for them.
"...I found Puzzle by himself in this place so I knew Meena had to be locked up somewhere around here, but by the time I found her - I'd lost Dillan. I'm such an idiot; I should never have come on this stupid boat."
Then, just as April was about to console her, the cage door came loose and fell to the floor making a loud clanging noise that seemed to reverberate throughout the cargo hold. April was dreading the fact that she might've been caught and bracing herself for the worst, she peered through a gap in the cages to see that the two figures were still speaking as they had been minutes ago.
Once they had been reunited, Naoko wasted no time in withdrawing her plus and minus pokemon. "C'mon, we need to find Dillan." She said, rising to her feet and looking around in the flickering light produced from the caged pokemon.
"But what about the other pokemon - these people are criminals! God knows what they're going to do with them." April protested.
"Which is why I need to find Dillan. He's hopeless at fending for himself and he hasn't even got any pokemon to defend him if he gets caught wandering down here."
"You don't understand - these people are murderers, kidnappers and God knows what else. If we don't help these pokemon, we're practically condemning them to death."
"-What about Dillan? If we don't bother searching we'd be doing exactly the same to him. Look, if you want to help them, then help them. I'm going to find my friend." Naoko said stubbornly, turning to walk down the row of cages.
April grabbed her arm and stopped her in her tracks. "-Who's to say your friend is even still here? If he had any sense, he would've gotten off this boat when he realised what was going on!"
"-Captain?" Came a voice from behind the cages. A voice Naoko instantly recognised.
The girls stopped their feud to peer through the cages.
Surge and the redhead turned to the boy. He was of similar skin tone to Naoko and wore a grey and white SS Anne Uniform. Dillan looked afraid, much more than he should when addressing a fellow crew member.
"Captain... what is all of this?"
Lt Surge raised an eyebrow. "Are you not supposed to be at work boy? You shouldn't have come here." He said with a coarse tone to his voice.
"Sir, where did all of these pokemon come from?"
"Here and there. Not that it's any of your concern, they're well taken care of."
"'Well taken care of' ? Look at them - they've been beaten and starved. These pokemon have been poached - What you're doing is illegal!"
The woman burst out in maniacal laughter. "You talk about these things as though they have feelings. Oh dear boy tell me, is that why you were snooping around here earlier - hoping to free the poor, defenceless pokemon?"
Dillan was confused at the question; he had been mixed up with April.
"Relax, this boy is hardly worth the effort. Stop toying around and get rid of him."
"Captain, how can you do this?! You're a Gym Leader for crying out loud! ...You don't deserve either of those titles... You won't get away with this."
"What are you going to do baby - tell your mummy? Go ahead; you won't even make it to the door." The redheaded woman threatened, brandishing a pokeball.
"I-if you kill me... People will notice that I’ve disappeared; the crew, my family, my friends. You won't be able to cover this up, not from everyone."
"We have to do something!" Naoko whispered sharply.
April agreed, enraged to her core. Everything about these people made her sick and she was determined to get revenge.
"Hahaha, you have no idea how far our influence spreads, we're pretty good at covering things up; after all, Team Rocket does not exist anymore so how could we possibly be involved?" She said as she released a large purple Arbok from her pokeball.
The redhead began slowly advancing towards Dillan with a crazed look upon her face, her high heels echoing ominously throughout the area. The cobra pokemon slithered alongside its trainer, its brightly coloured chest was flexed as it flailed its forked tongue, ready for its next meal.
Suddenly in a flash of white, a Primeape appeared alongside Puzzle and Meena creating a wall between the two humans. "Get away from him!" Naoko cried as she and April ran towards the group, ready to fight. Surge remained completely motionless with his arms folded, as if he wasn't even involved in what was happening.
The redhead stopped her advance and slightly turned her head so she could see the two girls behind her. "Oh bodyguards, touching. Unfortunately for you two you're now defenceless - Arbok, Poison Fang!"
The cobra pokemon lunged towards April with incredible speed, its serpentine teeth coated in a deep purple poison. April had no time to even flinch; she was going to be bitten. That was until Slowking burst from his pokeball, appearing with his arms outstretched in front of his trainer.
"You will not hurt April!" He cried as the whites of his eyes transformed into a strong blue. The Arbok became engulfed in an aura of the same colour and stopped still in midair before being thrown into a row of empty cages by Slowking's psychic.
"What do you think you're doing?!" The redhead bellowed, infuriated. Her eyes met those of the Gym Leader, "Surge, do your job!" She cried, producing another pokeball and releasing a Vileplume.
He nodded and then smiled cockily, releasing a Raichu from a hidden pokeball. Raichu stood poised to attack anything that came near, its whip-like tail waving back and forth behind it.
For a brief second the cries of the caged pokemon were drowned out and noone said a single word. Tension filled the air until the silence was broken by the Captain issuing an order: