Chapter 30 – A Common Enemy (Part 2)
‘Floor 18’ was the first thing visible as the elevator doors opened onto an eerily empty corridor. Acting as a makeshift foyer, the tiled corridor contained but a single sofa and potted plant beside a large electronic door, easily twice the size of Adam and almost three times as wide.
“This is our only roadblock.” Petrel scowled, peeling off the prosthetics on his face as the group approached a control panel to the side of the door. “Getting the password was child’s play but this beastie has got fingerprint and retina scanners to boot. If it’s anywhere, it’s in here.”
“You mean you don’t actually know if it’s in there? …Fantastic work Petrel, really.” Ariana mocked sarcastically.
“Now Ariana, Petrel has done well to get us this far, do not mock him.” Proton said in his associate’s defence. “He has performed his role in this mission so now it is your turn to prove yourself. Especially considering your mishap on the last mission you were a part of.”
The redhead bit the inside of her lip in an attempt to ignore the comment and summoned over the girl in a labcoat from behind Adam.
“Sabrina, tear it apart.”
That name rang alarm bells in Adam’s mind as the black-haired girl released her extraordinary grip from the boy and approached the door. It couldn’t just be a coincidence that he was with a girl named Sabrina, a fairly uncommon name to begin with, in Saffron City of all places. He knew it meant only one thing – She was the city’s Gym Leader.
Adorning the same vacant expression she had had since arriving, Sabrina’s pupils glowed a luminous shade of purple, the same purple that began to cover the metal doors like the surf spreading across a shore. Once it was blanketed, the metal began to dent and compress into itself as the locks snapped from each other and the hinges were ripped from their frames.
As quickly as it had begun, it was over; leaving only a small tempered mass of steel on the floor.
Adam couldn’t believe what he had just seen. He, like everyone else, had heard of Sabrina’s powers but very few people have actually seen her use them. For a brief moment he remembered that there was now no one holding him there against his will – he could run! However, that thought soon left his mind upon seeing what Sabina did to the steel door. The question still remained though; what did they need him for?
The foursome walked past the clump of metal that lay onto the floor into a room that resembled a laboratory, housing large computers around the edge and another curled around a pillar in the centre. Though he began to follow his captors into the room, Adam felt a strange force usher him inside at a quicker pace, likely Sabrina’s doing.
A team of four scientists frantically darted about the room, disappearing through different exits whilst a fifth stood still with his arms behind his back, staring right at the intruders with a smirk on his face. The man was considerably older than anyone else in the room, slightly rotund with a slight hunch but quickly raised his right hand and effortlessly touched a few buttons on the central computer panel, setting off an ear-splitting siren throughout the building. An announcement rang over the intercom several stories below but it was too muffled to make out.
“I wondered when you might arrive.” The scientist said with a smirk, removing his spectacles.
“Oh, you were expecting us?” Proton asked, advancing toward the man.
“I’m not a fool. The incidents at Cerulean City, Pokemon Tower and of course the S.S. Anne – they reeked of you lot.”
“Well, well, you have been doing your research. I would expect nothing less from you, Pluto.”
Adam listened intently, the only one still in the dark about the current situation. The man they called Pluto was considerably older than anyone else in the room and was losing his hair and though he showed distaste of the Rockets, he seemed altogether menacing in his own right.
“Well this is all lovely but shouldn’t we get down to business?” Petrel sighed, looking towards his leader.
“As you wish.” Proton began. “We have a business proposition for you.”
“Oh?” Pluto inquired, briskly walking across the tiled floor of the laboratory, fiddling with his glasses in his hands. “How… civilized of you.”
“We know you are in possession of the Diamond and we will be taking that with us, but it would be a shame for all of that research you have done into it to go to waste.”
“Oh a crying shame…” Pluto mumbled, reaching a keyboard.
“So we propose that you join with us and you can continue your research. You’ll have access to all the equipment you have here and more, plus you will not have to be bound by the petty moral guidelines of Silph.”
Pluto began laughing uncontrollably, his cackle echoing above the noise of the computers. When he finally caught his breath he looked the Rocket leader dead in the eyes.
“Join Team Rocket you say? Let’s see… ‘Steal Pokémon for profit. Exploit Pokémon for profit. All Pokémon exist for the glory of Team Rocket!’” Pluto chuffed in a derogatory tone. “You have no vision, no goal. At the end of the day you are just petty criminals who would sell any research I conduct. And so my answer, on that basis, is no.” He finished, pressing a button on the keyboard that locked every computer screen in the room.
“You worthless fool!” Ariana yelled bitterly, reaching for her belt only to have her hand stayed my Proton.
“Very well, I had hoped to avoid this.” The Rocket Leader said, taking a disc from inside his pocket and walking toward the central control pillar, holding the disc above a drive as if to taunt Pluto.
The old man grunted. “And what do you propose to do with that? The system is full proof; your little dubious trinket won’t be able to do anything.”
“This is no mere trinket, Gideon made is specifically for you Dr Pluto.”
The scientist let out a small gasp upon the mention of Gideon’s name and began to grit his teeth.
“This will erase any and all research you have conducted to date after transferring it to us and will inflict a malicious virus upon the Silph Network that will spread to your partners at the Devon Corporation. How’s that for dubious?” Proton smirked. “Last chance – what do you say?”
“You’re pathetic.” Pluto said firmly in disgust, slowly reaching inside one of the pockets of his lab coat.
“As you wish.” Proton said with great delight, inserting the disc into the drive. The computer began to made a ferocious noise as the screens around the room switched back on with numbers flying erratically across each one.
Suddenly, part of the central pillar opened revealing a shining grey translucent rock suspended inside a glass capsule.
“Is that-“ Adam questioned.
“-The Diamond…” Proton grinned from ear to ear, staring at it, almost memorised. However he was soon snapped out of it by a fabricated voice ringing throughout the lab.
‘Virus detected. Firewall activated. Virus detected. Firewall activated… Virus..Activate-fire…’
The computer’s voice became more erratic as a blue and pink creature resembling a duck began to protrude out of a large computer monitor adjacent to Pluto. However, something was wrong. It began to twitch and morph, encompassed in a white light until its head had become separated from the rest of its body and it levitated in mid-air with two pale blue ovoids that resembled arms.
“W-what have you done? …Porygon?!” Pluto cried, stunned at the transformation of the firewall.
‘Zap Canon activated.’ The computer announced through the speakers as Porygon started emitting electricity erratically, drawing from the nearby terminal of computers. The electricity seemingly engulfed Porygon in a sphere and the pokemon began to spin, and with it, so did the sphere until it stopped suddenly and launched its electricity toward Proton who instinctively dived behind the central pillar. The sphere flowed suit but collided with the column, sending electricity straight into the heart of the system causing every computer and monitor in the room to explode, one after the other, spreading dust and debris across the lab.
Erika and her group raced up the spiralling stairwell, Naoko wheezing and falling behind but Crowe bounding forward ahead of the others, making the climb look effortless.
“April - anything?” Erika asked, stopping for a breather alongside Alex.
“It’s suddenly quiet, it’s like the Voice knows we’re here but won’t tell me where!” The brown haired girl paused for a moment and reached for a pokeball, releasing Slowking from within. “How about you Slowking, can you hear it?”
“No, nothing. But I can definitely feel its presence nearby.”
“Well that’s great, do we need to search the entire building? How are we even going to-“ Alex began before the group suddenly felt a slight tremor and a cloud of white smoke burst from several floors below. The group looked at each other and instantly realized that their destination had found them.
As she finally caught up, Naoko was met with the group heading back in the opposite direction. “Really?” She panted sarcastically, gasping for breath and leaning on the banister. Suddenly a black blur flew down the centre of the stairwell from a few floors above to the floor of the explosion, landing effortlessly by the door. It was Crowe. “Hey - quit showing off!” Naoko yelled, quickly giving chase.
As the smoke cleared, everyone could see that the lab had been destroyed beyond use. Debris lay everywhere, the computers were fried and the central pillar’s glass capsule had shattered. Adam hid from the blast behind a nearby wall, Ariana and Petrel were shielded from shrapnel by a psychic field created by Sabrina and Pluto had called forth his Bastiodon, a large, impenetrable steel pokemon to act as a shield.
The eerie silence was broken by the sound of shattered glass crumbling beneath someone’s footsteps. Proton walked across the remains of the lab and pushed some debris aside with his shoe to reveal the shimmering Diamond.
His face lit up like the gem itself as he reached down to grab it, only for Umbreon to swiftly dash past and grab it in its mouth. Proton lunged for the pokemon but missed as it jumped at the wall and somersaulted back in the direction from which it came.
Umbreon dashed to its trainer who had just entered the room and handed the Diamond to him.
Ariana grew impatient of Proton’s leadership skills and decided to take matters into her own hands. “Sabrina – stop them!”
Crowe turned on his heel and saw the rest of his group approaching the room but suddenly found himself unable to move. The rest of the group reached the entrance to the room but found their path blocked by a translucent purple barrier. Crowe found himself being spun around to face Sabrina, the quiet girl who had not spoken a word since arriving but whose eyes shone an electric purple as she used her psychic powers to hoist him high into the air. Crowe’s throat began to tighten as the air was ripped from his lungs, clearly struggling to breathe he began to writhe in midair, gasping to catch a breath.
“Trench!” Adam cried. “Stop it - You’re killing him!”
Ariana’s deep red lips smirked as she stared at Crowe, not taking her eyes off of him for a second.
“That’s the idea.”