Thanks! There's some sadistic part of me who actually likes to show things more twisted and sinister than they appear in the franchise normally xD
Yep, my portrayal of him here isn't like anything seen before... then again, my opinion of him isn't like anyone else's so that probably explains it And hey, someone needed to expose him for the type of person he really is, and not the facade of respectability he hides behind
Thanks for reading!
Thanks to Haruka of Hoenn for proofreading drafts of this chapter.
The PG-13 rating stands due to violence, drug use, and language.
Omni Trainer Products, Kanto Division, Saffron City, May 30, 9:04 AM
Tobias Bartles was watching the computer monitor on his desk intently, with Red and two well-dressed men looking on. The bookcase was moved out of position, revealing a door. The CEO noticed three women enter the lobby of the building on the surveillance image on his screen. “Quick! Get in the closet!” Red and one of the men entered the passageway, while the other man shoved the heavy bookcase back into place after them.
A few minutes later his secretary buzzed in to the office through the intercom. “Mr. Bartles, three women from the League Investigation Bureau are here to see you.”
“Send them in.”
As Lisa, Leaf, and Lorelei entered the lavish top-floor office, the boss greeted them with a smile. “Well, what can I do for you today?”
Lorelei flashed her badge. “Pokémon League, Investigation Bureau. I am Lorelei, and I’m here with agents Lisa Northwood and Elizabeth Purvis. Mr. Bartles, I trust you are aware of the League’s discovery of a meth lab deep within Mount Silver that was found yesterday?”
“Why yes, it’s been all over the news. Why do you ask?”
“Is it not true that your son, Red, was last seen on Mount Silver?”
Tobias’ smile disappeared as he stood up at his desk. “Agent Lorelei, are you trying to imply that my son is involved in the manufacture of illegal drugs? I know my own son far better than you. I know that he is a fine, upstanding citizen who once served as Champion and is still highly regarded throughout both Kanto and Johto. I am quite insulted that you would make such a bold accusation against my own flesh and blood, especially to my face. Or are you just jealous that you could never beat him as an Elite Four member?” The executive’s smile returned, only this time it was a sly smirk.
“First of all, Mr. Bartles,” Lorelei said with a hint of irritation in her voice as she crossed her arms across her chest, “I am quite insulted that you would think that I, as a professional, would harbor a grudge against something as trivial as losing to someone during their official League challenge. Second, I never recall battling your son at all. I do recall, however, battling and losing to the young lady to my right,” she continued as she motioned to Leaf.
Leaf added, “And I remember quite vividly that I held the title of Champion for two years – from mid-2006 to mid-2008. I even have documentation to prove it.”
“Well, it is sad to see that your memory has failed the both of you. And that the young lady has seen fit to forge official League paperwork. If you check official League records, you’ll discover that Red has been listed as Champion from mid 2006 to late 2009, when he decided to step out of the spotlight. Moreover, there is no record at all of Kanto ever having a female Champion. And even if your story – which I find quite unbelievable – was true, why would you wait four years after your alleged “replacement” to investigate?”
Leaf hesitated. Mr. Bartles continued, “As I thought. You have no reason. And I don’t know why you’re telling me all this in the first place, other than trying to discredit my son. I am a business executive. I have no sway in the League’s selection of Champion.”
“With all due respect, Mr. Bartles,” Lisa said, “you are the Indigo League’s official operator of Pokémon Centers and Marts. To say that you have no influence in the League is, quite frankly, unbelievable.”
“I will repeat myself. While I and my organization do have say in some of the League’s policies, the selection of Champion, Elite Four members, Gym Leaders, and the like are not among them. And we have strayed off topic. Even if these allegations against my son are true – which I can assure you that they are not – it doesn’t change the fact that I have not had contact with my son since 2009. Whatever activities he may or may not have been involved in, I have no knowledge of them. Will that be all, ladies?”
“For today,” Lorelei answered.
“Then please, leave my office. I am quite a busy man, you know. And have a nice day.”
The three investigators made their way to the elevator. Lisa said, “We don’t even have probable cause to seize his computer or check his cell phone records. And he’ll probably replace both by the time we do find enough evidence. We have enough to charge Red for the drugs based on finding his old ID card in the cave with the lab, but since nobody’s seen him…”
Leaf sulked. “So, we’re out of luck?”
Lorelei answered, “Not by a long shot. We just need one witness who’s willing to testify. Then we can go about seizing more concrete evidence.”
“And I think I know how we can find one.”
“All right, 00479. Let’s head back to headquarters. I’ll issue surveillance to trail Bartles and to recover any computers that are discarded by the company or at his estate.”
Meanwhile, back in the office, Tobias watched as the three agents left the building. As soon as they left, Red emerged from his hiding spot.
“No doubt they’re gonna order their agents to watch me. Sorry, son, but you’ll have to bear with this – we need to sneak you out. Tripp and Mercer, go down to the storeroom and get our largest shipping box and a hand truck. Quickly, now! Before they start surveillance on us!”
“Yes, sir!” The two men quickly left the office.
Red’s artificial voice started up. “So you’re sneaking me out inside a shipping box? Clever, but I hope they don’t catch on.”
“I hope not either. And by the time you get back, I hope they’re done snooping around the estate – otherwise I would’ve just left you there.”
“So, what do we do with your computers, Dad?”
“We hang onto them, for now, but we start wiping records. They don’t have probable cause so they can’t barge in and take them. But if we throw them out – or even just the hard drives, they can just take them from the dumpsters. It’s technically public property as soon as we toss them.”
“I see. But how do we know they won’t get their probable cause?”
“At this point, they need a witness to testify. This morning I ordered Tripp to have his men watch those that I think might turn on me. If they do try to snitch, they’ll kill them. We already made Franklin an example; hopefully that’ll scare them stiff.”
“What about the others?”
“Don’t worry about them. I know them well enough to know that greed alone will keep them in our corner. But that girl in the blue dress… Northwood… I’ve heard that name somewhere… Wait, I know exactly who she is! I was trying to establish OTP in some region way off somewhere, but some company called Northwood beat me to the punch. Later, I began funding some ‘brotherhood’ cult that was researching mind control and Shadow Pokémon, in the hopes that they would take over that region and would allow OTP to kick Northwood out and start operations there. But that group was dismantled…”
Tobias went to his computer and began typing furiously. After looking at several sites, he yelled out, “I knew it! The executives’ bio page on the Northwood company website says that their CEO’s daughter is named Lisa… and news reports about the defeat of that brotherhood group mentions the Northwood girl as one of the principal figures involved in their downfall! Well, Red, you want to kill that Leaf girl badly, but now I want to kill that Northwood girl just as much. I invested millions into that brotherhood cult and because of her, that investment was a total loss!”
Pokémon League Investigation Unit, Celadon Branch, 10:35 AM
Lorelei hung up the phone and placed the receiver back on the base. “Okay, I’ve got agents keeping an eye on the Bartles residence and the OTP headquarters. Fortunately Bartles drives a bright red Lamborghini so I don’t think it’ll be too hard to track him. And that car’s his pride and joy; if he suddenly starts driving something like a Hyundai instead, we’ll know something’s up. Now, 00479, did you say you might have a way to get us a witness?”
“Yes. You don’t suppose Bartles would be above tax evasion and misreporting, do you?”
“No, we’ve already been investigating OTP’s finances and trying to build a case. We’ve compiled enough evidence to charge the company’s accountant, but we haven’t acted on it since we’re still trying to link CEO Bartles directly to the fraud.”
“Okay, do you know who this accountant is?”
“I believe his name is Dirk Turner, who lives in Vermilion. OTP lists Turner as their CPA on their website.”
Lisa began to scratch her chin. “This Turner… has he been in trouble with the law before regarding tax fraud?”
Lorelei turned to her computer. After a few keystrokes, she shook her head. “Aside from two speeding tickets and a parking violation, he hasn’t been in any trouble with the law.”
Fidgeting with her dress, Lisa said, “Well, that’s good. The fact that OTP is probably his only client that is involved in tax fraud probably means he isn’t a Bernie Madoff-type and he just got himself in over his head. He could be our witness. Let’s go ahead and issue that warrant and I’ll confront him about it…”
Lorelei held up her hand. “Wait. Agents 00158 and 00236 have just wrapped up a mission in Sinnoh and are returning to Vermilion Port this afternoon. I’ll have them remain there and then they can confront Turner.”
“Oh, I haven’t worked together with them in a long time! Think they’ll become part of the investigation?”
“Quite possibly. But back to business. I’ll go ahead and prepare a warrant for Turner. I need you and Leaf to check out the Deuces Wild Bar downtown. We’ve collected evidence that it’s being used as a front for money laundering, and OTP might be involved. We might get more witnesses from that operation. Stop and see Agent E in R&D first; see if he has any gadgets for you.”
“Yes, Commander. Let’s go and check this place out.”
Leaf and Lisa left Lorelei to do her research. After making a stop by the R&D department to pick up some equipment, both girls made their way out of the facility. In the parking lot, Lisa led her companion to a dark blue Buick Roadmaster Estate wagon. Unlocking the door, she said, “No, this isn’t my personal car, but it is my designated vehicle when I’m doing official business in Kanto.”
Leaf got into the front passenger seat and settled in. “I know I’ve ridden in here already, but I just gotta say : Ooh, these seats are nice and comfy!”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way! I’m all about the luxury in my cars! Wait until I get out on the road and you see how smooth and quietly this rides!” After Lisa turned on the air conditioning and connected her MP3 player to the Buick's stereo, she was ready to go. Firing up the V-8 engine, she carefully maneuvered the big wood-trimmed station wagon onto Celadon's main highway.
Once on the road, and talking over the sound of an 80’s pop ballad on the stereo, Leaf asked, “Those two agents Lorelei mentioned coming into Vermilion… you know them?”
“Yup! Their actual names are Alexis Howard and Shannon Fisher. I actually met them while on my journey, and they convinced me to do crime investigation for the League… they actually quit badge collecting to enlist. It’s been months since I’ve seen them and I hope I can work with them on this mission. Oh, here we are.”
The girls looked at the building in front of them. It looked worse for wear, with big neon signs displaying “Deuces Wild” and names of various brands of beer – “Miller,” “Bud Light,” and “Coors” the most prominent among them. A half dozen Harley Davidson motorcycles were parked outside, along with a beat-up black Chevy Camaro with flames sloppily painted on the sides.
Lisa picked up the microphone for her in-car police radio. “Yes, this is League Bureau Special Agent 00479. I am requesting a backup officer be sent to the Deuces Wild Bar in Celadon. We are preparing to question a subject within and may be taking him into custody.” Placing the mike back on its holder, she turned to Leaf.
“Well, don’t this place look inviting?” Leaf asked, rolling her eyes in disgust.
Her companion scoffed. “Sure does. Okay, the guy we’re looking for is Bradley Johnson, but he goes by ‘Big Dog.’ I don’t have a picture of the guy, but I’d say we’re looking for someone big.”
“Naturally.” The girls exited the car and walked into the bar, where the smell of smoke and alcohol hit them instantly. It was a dark, smoky place, with minimal lighting, trash and cigarette butts all over the wooden floor and tables, and plenty of empty beer bottles everywhere. The pool table in the corner seemed to be the center of activity. The pair walked up to the bar, where a bald, muscular bartender greeted them.
“Aren’t you ladies a bit young to be in a place like this? Ah, who cares? What can I get you?”
“Information,” Lisa answered. “What do you know about Bradley ‘Big Dog’ Johnson?”
“Who wants to know?” asked the bartender, as several of the other patrons by the pool table looked toward where the girls were.
“League Investigation Bureau, Special Agent 00479,” Lisa said, showing the man her badge. “Now, are you going to give us the answers we want?”
A customer stepped between Leaf and Lisa. The hulking, bearded man made a hand motion in the direction of the exit. “Get the hell out of here.”
Lisa looked at the man and frowned. “Not the answer we were looking for.” Both girls removed their hats and set them on the bar before facing the patron.
“Well, maybe if we snap your pretty little head off, then you’ll get your answer!” the man yelled as he raised a pool stick in the air.
Lisa quickly jabbed the irate patron in the gut and shoved him to the ground, prompting four of his friends to approach the girls. One took a swing at Leaf, who ducked under the fist and tripped him with a leg sweep. Another came at Lisa with a pool stick. She knocked him upside the head, causing him to stagger backward and drop his weapon, then she followed up with a roundhouse kick, sending him falling into several bar stools.
One of the men smashed a glass beer bottle on a table and charged at Leaf. She jumped on top of another table and kicked the man in the head, sending him reeling and crashing through the pool table. Seeing this, another friend picked up the pool balls and heaved them at the girls. After dodging, blocking, and batting down several of the projectiles, the pair went on the attack. Dodging several more punches, Leaf dealt a hard punch to the man’s stomach, causing him to lose balance. Lisa followed up with a leg sweep, knocking him onto the floor.
Leaf sidestepped to avoid several kicks from another assailant. When he threw a punch, the girl blocked it with her hand and followed up with a knee to the groin. With him screaming and hobbling, Lisa delivered a punch to his head, leaving him sprawled out on a table. One of the men struggled to his feet, but another whack upside the head sent him crashing through some chairs and a table.
One thug picked up a chair and took several swings at Leaf. She ducked underneath each attack and jabbed her elbow into his gut. The man fell down, the chair smashing into pieces after hitting the floor. Lisa had her hands full with a particularly muscular bar patron. She jumped on top of the bar, while the man grabbed a bar stool and heaved it at her. The girl jumped up to avoid the incoming attack while Leaf snuck up on him from behind and smashed another chair over his head. As he turned to face his other attacker, Lisa executed a spinning kick that left him dazed. Another kick, and he was down for the count.
After the brawl, both girls dusted off their clothes and placed their hats back on their heads. “A little bit testy, aren’t they?” asked Leaf as the bartender looked on in stunned shock.
“You know, we come in here to ask one simple question, and all hell breaks loose,” said Lisa as they surveyed the damage and the men lying on the ground. As both girls turned to the stunned bartender, he took a step backward. “No, no, you’re not going anywhere. Now, are you going to talk?”
But Leaf noticed a heavy-set man open the door and taking a quick glance at the mess inside before taking off running. “Lisa, I think that’s our guy trying to flee!”
Both girls left the bar and followed their out-of shape suspect down the sidewalk. Catching up to him wasn’t hard, but it took several swift kicks to subdue him.
As Lisa handcuffed the man, she asked, “Why’d you run?”
“Shut up. I ain’t saying nothin’!”
“Have it your way,” Leaf told the man as a police cruiser rolled up. “Ah, perfect timing, officer.” Both girls shoved the suspect into the back and told the officer, “Take him to League Investigation Bureau headquarters.”
“Roger.” The officer drove off with the overweight man in the back of his cruiser.
“Glad that’s over,” Lisa scoffed as she dusted off her dress. “I hate going to these shady type of bars to question people. And I use the term ‘people’ loosely.”
“Ugh, even being in that place made me feel dirty… Kanto didn’t have all these shady places in operation back when I journeyed… just the Rocket-controlled Game Corner back then.”
Lisa asked, “I know I’ve had training, but… damn, where’d you learn those sweet moves?”
Leaf smiled. “Self-defense classes. And lots and lots of Walker, Texas Ranger!”
Vermilion City, 2:49 PM
A black Ford Crown Victoria sedan pulled up in front of a two-story beige house. Out of the car stepped two girls – one with long black hair, the other with blond hair. Both were wearing identical outfits – a green button-up top, blue denim skirts, and black leggings.
The black haired girl said, “Looks like this the address. 2794 Tiger Run Court, home of Dirk Turner, CPA. Let’s see him.” The pair approached the front door and knocked.
“League Investigation Bureau, open up, Mr. Turner!”
A thin, well-dressed man with balding brown hair and a goatee opened the door. Both girls presented their badges. The man sighed. “I can probably guess why you’re here. It’s about OTP, isn’t it?”
“Yes. League Investigation Bureau, my name is Agent Shannon Fisher,” said the black haired girl, “and this is my partner, Alexis Howard. Mr. Turner, we at the League have evidence of tax fraud involving OTP, and your name is listed as the individual who assumes responsibility of the firm’s taxes.”
“You do realize that, as the responsible individual, you could face twenty years in prison? The Kanto Department of Taxation has been cracking down especially hard on tax fraud in recent years.”
Dirk Turner began sweating nervously. “Yes, I understand that, but…”
“Mr. Turner,” said Alexis, “we’ve also investigated other firms and people you handle finances for. There’s no evidence of fraud with any of them. Now come on, you don’t strike us as a bad guy. Certainly not one who deserves two decades in federal lockup. Won’t you tell us what’s up?”
“Ma’am, I’d love to, but… Tobias Bartles is not a man to underestimate…”
Shannon crossed her arms across her chest. “We League Agents aren’t people to be underestimated either.”
“Okay, listen… Dennis Franklin. He used to work as an attorney for OTP. We used to work in the same office. We’ d eat lunch together almost every day. We both knew about OTP’s corruption and had known for awhile. About five months ago, he tells me that he’s planning to go to the authorities to file a report about the company. I told him not to, because of previous threats Bartles made against me, but he was adamant about doing it. Two days after that conversation, he’s found dead in his home. Shotgun blast to the back of the head. No suspects were ever charged with the murder, but I knew he was killed because Bartles found out. I don’t want to be the next murder victim.”
Alexis said, “As my partner said, we League Agents are not to be underestimated. That goes for Mr. Bartles, too – he better not underestimate us, either. If you agree to testify, we will protect you until the trial. We haven’t lost a single witness yet, and we’re certainly not going to end our undefeated record because of that thug.”
“Fine. I’ll testify. But you two better make sure me and my family remain safe. Let me gather what evidence I have, and what Dennis gave me right before he died. But I have a wife and daughter. We need to stop by her work and the elementary school before we leave. And I want to get going as soon as possible.”
“Don’t worry, Mr. Turner, you’re in safe hands with us. And we’ll pick up the rest of your family.”
“All right.” The flustered accountant removed his suit jacket and hung it on a chair, then removed his tie. “I’ve handled taxes and accounting for OTP for years… long before Bartles became CEO. And even after, it wasn’t until 2006 when we started skirting the law. That’s when OTP really started expanding, buying up companies and getting into the business of running League operations – he would take over Kanto’s in mid-2007. Bartles never liked paying taxes, and of course, with more profits you pay more taxes. He told me, ‘I don’t care how you do it, but make it so we don’t pay more than $1,000 in taxes. And if you don’t or you try to alert the Kanto Securities Commission, I’ll kill you.’
“Now, keep in mind our actual tax liability would have been many times the $1,000 amount he named. He created ‘shell’ charities which were nothing more than front operations. The company ‘donated’ millions to these groups. Some of that money was funneled right back into the company, but much of it went directly to Bartles himself. He told me to destroy our official records and only keep the doctored ones, but I secretly kept both.”
Alexis rubbed her chin. “Well, we’re aware of the fraud end of it. That’s what led us to you. Did he mention anything about other criminal activity?”
“Yes. Beginning in 2010, I asked him about millions in income that wasn’t in company records. He revealed he had a side operation in Mount Silver, but wouldn’t divulge any more details except that his son was involved and they were in regular contact. At first, I thought it was some secret mining or oil-drilling operation, with Red’s Pokémon providing assistance to the workers, but after hearing about the meth lab bust there, I got that sinking feeling that those drugs were the source of that money. I also saw significant outflows of money that weren’t connected with any company operations. Bartles called them donations to Kanto League officials, but I really think they were bribes.”
“And you’re willing to testify these statements, under oath, in a court of law when we try Mr. Bartles for these crimes?”
“All right then. Let’s pick up your family and get to Celadon.”
As the three of them left the house, a black Ford cargo van parked across the street caught Alexis’ attention.
All three hit the ground as automatic gunfire erupted from the driver’s seat of the van. Bullets whizzed over their heads and struck the house behind them and shattered lawn ornaments. Remaining low to the ground, the three crawled slowly to where a car parked on the street provided cover. Knowing he could not get a clean shot at his targets, the driver exited the van while another man emerged from the passenger side. Dressed completely in black, the pair made their way across the street, guns trained on the gray Volvo that their targets were hiding behind.
The two agents, crouched behind the car, removed their guns from their holsters. Shannon turned to Alexis and whispered, “Ready?” Her partner’s silent nod was all that she needed. Both girls stood up and instantly began firing their pistols directly at the men, taking them down before they could get off another shot at them.
The girls led a shaken Dirk Turner to their own car. Alexis radioed to the local police. “Attention Vermilion Police units in the vicinity of the 2700 block of Tiger Run Court. This is a League Investigation Bureau Special Agent. We have just been involved in a shootout at house number 2794. Two suspects involved; both are down with wounds. We need backup to secure the scene and an ambulance to tend to the injured suspects.”
In the back seat of the Crown Vic, Dirk was finally catching his breath again. “Wh…wh…wh… Are you sure we’re going to be safe? Those guys were waiting for us!”
“Well, we took care of them, didn’t we? Trust us, we won’t let anything happen to you. Come on, let’s get your family and get out of town.”
Meanwhile, Shannon was just finishing up a call on her cell phone. In a low whisper, so that their witness couldn’t hear, she told her partner, “Okay, Lexy, that was Lorelei. She said that Lisa left to meet us a couple hours ago and we’ll probably rendezvous somewhere between Saffron and Vermilion. Lorelei said that we’d probably need extra help in protecting our witness, so she had Lisa and a partner assist us.”
“Well, considering this ambush, it would appear that she’s right, as usual. Did she mention who Lisa’s partner was?”
“Nope, guess we’ll find out soon enough.”
The sounds of police sirens were becoming steadily louder. Alexis turned to face Turner and said, “As soon as backup takes over securing the scene, we’ll be off.”
Bartles Estate, Route 16, 3:15 PM
Tobias Bartles, in a black business suit, paced back and forth in his living room, hands on a cell phone. His son Red, in a black T-shirt, red ball cap, and blue jeans, lounged on the leather sofa, smoking a crack pipe.
“Dammit! Why haven’t Clark and Weston gotten back to me? They said they saw two League agents enter Turner’s house and were going to kill them on the way out and phone me back, but…”
This brought Red to attention. “You don’t suppose that those agents took them down?”
“Shit!” the father yelled, crushing the cell phone in his hand. “At least I used a prepaid phone to communicate; I don’t think they could trace that directly to me. Especially since I paid cash for it.” Two men entered the room. “Mercer!” Tobias yelled, pointing to the shorter man with spiked, bleached hair. “Take Jones and Rader, and take the copter to Route 6. Look for a black unmarked cop car traveling north. Shoot the hell out of it and make sure everyone in it is dead!”
“Yes, sir!” Mercer ran out of the room. Tobias faced the other man, a brown-haired man of medium build. “Tripp, I’ll have you stay here for now. Clark and Weston have failed. I hope that your right hand man Mercer fares better.”
“Don’t worry, sir; Mercer will get the job done.”
“For your sake, let us hope that he does. We’ve worked too long and hard for all of this to lose it now just because some bitch from the past started poking her nose where it didn’t belong.”
“I know,” agreed Red. “It had to be done. I mean, the idea of a girl Champion is completely absurd. She needed to be removed in order for our region to save face. Still wish I was Champion, though. One Pokémon - one goddamn Pokémon took it away from me.”
“Really, I never thought a wild Nidoking would’ve made it into the estate in the first place. And then to just attack while we were doing nothing more than sunbathing? It’s just a good thing I was having work done on our patio; I just grabbed a knife from the workers’ toolbox and stabbed the thing before it did anything worse to you. Even if having your throat slashed, losing your voice, and losing the Championship aren’t exactly pleasant.”
“Don’t remind me of that thing. Yeah, I know it indirectly helped us to make money hand over fist making and selling dope, but it’s because of it that I can’t trust any Pokémon other than my own. And the ones we have guarding the compound. Pokémon not of my own do not deserve to live… they could attack me at any moment just like that Nidoking. My Pokémon must reign supreme, for my own protection! And that is what drives me to keep battling and give my Pokémon more power – to eliminate the competition! Speaking of my own Pokémon and giving them more power, do we still have any of those Rare Candies or those Poke-steroids left? I need to pump my Pokémon up even more since I lost to that bitch Leaf.”
“Sorry, I’m out. I need to get back in touch with Fast Eddie and see if he can get us some more on the black market. But let’s save that until after we’re done with Turner and these League pigs. If she wants another battle, we’ll be playing by our rules.”