"Secure it, now. The old man has something we need, and the only way we're going to get it is to take it by force. Nothing will stand in our way. You know the rules - any interference must be dealt with accordingly. Team Rocket does not reward gentleness or mercy." She spat the last word as if it disgusted her.
There were no arguments; there never were. Madame Boss, the only name by which she was known, was a harsh, but fair master. There were great rewards for those who showed their loyalty and faith in her leadership, and great horror waiting for those who didn't.
"Take two men with you, it should be enough. The tower only has weak Ghost Pokemon and a bunch of mourning trainers. If you move stealthily enough, I would expect that you would not need to engage in battle with any of them." Madame Boss often spoke like this, issuing commands casually, but the young Rocket was trained to recognise her words as orders, not suggestions.
The man bowed deeply. His short brown hair falling in his eyes as he stood straight once more. "I understand. We will do our best to serve you."
"And Team Rocket," she uttered softly.
"Yes, of course, and Team Rocket," he agreed, staring at the back of her chair, yet knowing that she was watching his every movement. She never revealed herself to the grunts; they were allowed the pleasure only when they had shown that they could have faith in a boss they had never met, and if they failed, never would.
"Go," she spoke softly, yet forcefully at the same time. There was no mistaking her tone; she would not accept another defeat like the Game Corner incident. "May Giovanni be pleased with your work."
The young man took this is a blessing. Giovanni, the supreme head of Team Rocket, would hear of their success, or failure, and those who served his admins well would be sure to be considered for executive positions.
Soon the three Rockets reached the large grey structure on the outskirts of Lavender Town. It loomed over them, its roof hidden as it blended in with the rolling grey sky.
Being in charge, Dusty ordered the other men to enter and make their way quietly to the roof of the tower, where they would find the man they were searching for. He would follow after, making sure to cover their tracks, and deal with any suspicious individuals who were looking for a fight.
So the group split up. Dressed in plain dark clothes, Dusty and his crew were able to blend in easily. The ground floor held nothing but an empty reception desk. He watched silently as his men headed for the nearest flight of stairs, then pulled out a pair of binoculars; the Silph Scope that had been handed to him by Madame Boss during their earlier chat. She had told him it could be used to see and differentiate Ghost Pokemon, even when they made themselves invisible.
After loitering near the reception desk for a few minutes to give his men a head start, Dusty began to amble up the stairs. He took them slowly, hoping that he would seem like just another mourner in the small group of trainers he was likely to meet surrounding the Pokemon's graves on the next few floors.
Sure enough, there were few people about, mainly elderly people who had recently lost the Pokemon that they had once begun their journeys with so long ago. His fellow Rocket members were nowhere in sight; they must have already ascended up the next flight of stairs.
Dusty paused for a moment, taking in his surroundings. He knew that the bottom floors acted as the most recent Pokemon graveyard, while the top was where most of the wild Pokemon were. As he stood there, waiting for his men to get a head start, he found his eyes drawn to a large tomb stone with an etching of an Arbok.
Jason Abott mourns the death of his starter Pokemon, Atara, 1985-1997. Your service will forever be remembered.
At that moment, the Silph Scope began to beep in his pocket. Before Dusty could pull it out however, he heard a voice call out to him.
"Is that your Pokemon then?" Dusty turned to find an old man had shuffled up behind him. He wore a pair of small glasses and had short, curly white hair. In his left hand was a dented wooden walking stick, and it was this that he leant on as he spoke.
"Oh... no." Dusty managed a smile. "I was just looking."
"Ah, strange to see someone your age interested in history," the old man chuckled, as if he had made a particularly funny joke. "Come on then, let me introduce you to my Pokemon."
Dusty followed the old man reluctantly, figuring he still had time to spare before he was expected on the rooftop.
The old man moved slowly, led by the clinking of his cane, before coming to a stop at a group of four gravestones, each with the same Pokeball pattern etched at the top. Unlike the other graves on this floor, these were unkempt and crumbling, seemingly older than their surroundings.
"This is my Arcanine," the old man smiled, stroking the cold stone as if it were a Pokemon. "He was my starter Pokemon, oh, we won so many battles together." Dusty just watched as he moved to the next stone. "And this here is Seadra. She was a beautiful Pokemon. I raised her from an egg."
Dusty nodded, feigning interest. He had given his men enough time to reach the rooftop. He turned away to look at the far staircase. "I have to go," he said apologetically.
"Oh of course, it was good to meet such a nice young man," the old man smiled sadly, his green eyes twinkling.
But when Dusty turned back to say goodbye, the man was already gone.
Dusty made his way up the next flight of stairs. This was the top floor, now he just had to climb the final spiral staircase to the rooftop and make sure his men had captured the old man they had been briefed on. He felt a sudden coolness wash over him, and recognising the feeling as a Ghost Pokemon, pulled out the Silph Scope and held it to his face. Before he could investigate further, however, he heard a yell from the other end of the room.
The floor was like a maze, littered with old and decaying tomb stones from centuries before; the Pokemon whose masters had since passed on. He moved around them slowly, unable to see properly through the thick fog that had descended on this floor.
He heard another shout and this time could make out figures through the mist. He raced forward, tripping over a broken stone and landing on all fours. He looked up to see his men armed with Pokeballs. Two large Pokemon - a black dog with skull markings and large horns, and a thick, purple snake - hovered over something dark at the foot of the stairs.
Quickly climbing to his feet, he approached the men.
"What's going on? Madame Boss said there was to be no trouble," Dusty began, trying to see what the Pokemon were crouched over.
"We know, sir," the shorter man replied. He wore a black bandanna over his dirty blonde hair. "We were just about to head to the roof when this wild Pokemon came out of nowhere and attacked us."
Dusty looked annoyed for a moment, then spun around, making sure they weren't being watched.
"Oh, but don't worry, sir, we finished it off already. It was just a Marowak," the other man continued. He was tall and lean with brown hair and bright green eyes.
Dusty nodded, his eyes once again focused on the Pokemon. "Right then, continue up the stairs," he ordered.
The men nodded, and then the shorter one held up his red and white orb, calling back the Arbok in a flash of red light.
"Hou hou!" the other Pokemon growled viciously, its back to them as it crouched over the body on the floor.
"Argh, it must still be alive," the other Rocket said, and he moved forward to examine the wild Pokemon that he had mauled.
Dusty followed, walking around the snarling beast to see exactly what was happening.
Trapped in the corner of the stairwell was a tiny Pokemon. It had short brown fur and a large white skull on its head. In its clawed hands it held a small bone that it was clutching tightly as it peered up at the jaws of the angry Houndoom.
Next to the baby Pokemon was the body of a Marowak. The two were very similar; the main difference was in the size of the skull helmets that they wore. The Marowak's helmet had a large crack down the middle as the Pokemon lay motionless, its eyes frozen open, and its paw still tightly gripping the bone club that was its weapon.
"Houndoom, finish it!" the larger Rocket member cried, pointing a finger at the shivering baby.
Dusty just stood there, his eyes focused on the mother who had died trying to protect her child, whose home had been invaded by strangers... murderers... "STOP!" he yelled before the Houndoom could attack. "We've wasted enough time. Call back your Pokemon. I'll handle this."
The taller man looked disappointed, but returned his Pokemon anyway.
"Both of you, get to the roof top now. If we're lucky Mr. Fuji won't have heard the commotion down here. Secure the area, I'll be there in a few moments."
The two men nodded and began to climb up the final spiral staircase. Each step they took with their heavy boots echoed loudly in the foggy room.
When the sound had disappeared, Dusty turned back to the Marowak, taking in its lifeless form. There were large bite marks around its neck where Houndoom had attacked. Scorch marks blackened its cracked skull helmet and deep grazes were visible on its arms and back, probably from a flurry of Poison Sting attacks. The Pokemon lay sprawled on its stomach, its arms spread apart, its thick tail lying limply to one side.
Knowing what he had to do, he pulled a red and white orb from his pocket and threw it into the air. A flash of red lit up the stairwell, startling the Cubone. From the light materialised a large, grasshopper-like Pokemon. It was tall and green with an armoured body and four long clear wings on its back. Instead of hands, each arm ended in a glistening silver scythe for which the Pokemon was named.
"Scyther, use Slash." Dusty's voice was monotone and uncaring as he ordered the attack on the frightened baby. This is my job...
he thought as the Bug-type rushed toward its opponent, but he couldn't help wondering what the old man he had met would say if he saw him attacking such a defenceless Pokemon.
With a single whip of its right blade, the Scyther had not only gained Cubone's attention, but cut a nasty gash in the Pokemon's side. Howling in fright, the young Ground-type got to its feet, its eyes narrowed in anger at the attack.
Before Dusty could call for another move, the Cubone caught Scyther's gaze. While their eyes were locked, the Pokemon let out a wail, lowering the bug's defences. Dusty couldn't help looking into the Cubone's green orbs, knowing that behind the tough act the little Pokemon was confused and hurt.
While Scyther was caught in the Leer attack, the Ground-type thrust its bone weapon at the grasshopper. It spun horizontally in mid air, missing Dusty's Pokemon by mere inches.
Surprised, but glad that the Cubone's attack had missed, Dusty called for a Night Slash attack. The Cubone didn't even attempt to dodge as Scyther's right blade began to glow a deep purple. Just as the Ground type was about to be subjected to another slashing, the bone club came hurtling out of the fog, knocking Scyther on the back of the head, the impact causing it to lose its balance and crash into a group of gravestones.
The Cubone jumped into the air to catch its club while Scyther struggled to get back to its feet.
Dusty was impressed by the Bonemerang attack, but knew he should have expected it. "Use Night Slash again, Scyther," he called as the Bug-type slashed its arms angrily in the air.
This time Scyther was able to land the hit. Not only did the impact add another cut to the small Pokemon's body, but the Dark power that propelled it caused the Cubone to hurtle backwards, crashing through a large head stone and causing it to smash.
Knowing that the battle was almost over, Dusty wondered how he could best finish off the Cubone, but each time he thought of what he had to do, Marowak's lifeless eyes appeared in his mind. Shaking his head, Dusty looked up just in time to see the Ground-type hurtle out of the fog, crashing into the unsuspecting Scyther before it had a chance to dodge. The Headbutt attack forced the Bug Pokemon backwards, its clawed feet struggling to grip the dusty floorboards.
After its attack, the Cubone fell to its knees, clearly exhausted. It was puffing heavily and sweat was dripping down its light tan stomach.
This is it
, Dusty thought, preparing his final command. "Scyther, you're doing good. Finish it with Double Team and then X-Scissor."
Offering a small grunt to show that it understood, the overgrown grasshopper flew forward on its small wings. Its body then began to glow in the murky fog, before seemingly splitting into many copies which circled the tired Cubone, each one looking as solid and powerful as the next.
Dusty watched as Scyther's final attack began. First the scythes of the many copies all began to glow with an eerie green light. The Scyther then dashed forward together, their blades crossed over one another, preparing to unleash the final attack and end the orphan's life.
"Wait." Before he could even think about it, the word left Dusty's mouth. At once Scyther flew backwards from its target, each of its copies slowly fading back into one as it landed next to its master.
Dusty stared at the floor, not wanting to see the body of the Marowak, and her child who had almost shared her fate. He felt something cold move through him and shivered as the Silph Scope began to beep. When he looked back at Cubone, he was surprised to see that it had managed to crawl toward its mother and was now kneeling before her expectantly, puffing heavily and whimpering softly as if wondering why she wasn't helping it.
"Cubone, bone," it cried as it sat at its mothers head, peering into her lifeless eyes. When the dead Pokemon didn't answer, the child tried prodding its mother with its tiny bone club. "Cubone! Cubone! Cuuuubone!" The Pokemon's wails tore at Dusty's ear drums. The Cubone was crying now. Its whole body shook as large tears ran down its cheeks to mix with the bright red blood that splattered the ground. The two washed together until they became one, and still the Cubone wept for its mother.
The Cubone sat there unmoving; the fury of the battle finally taking its toll, its half open eyes fixed to its mother's lifeless ones.
Dusty knew he couldn't kill this Pokemon; he couldn't take such a young and innocent life. Instead he reached for a Pokeball from his belt, determined to right the wrong that he had inflicted upon the now orphaned Cubone. He shut his eyes for a few moments, then thrust the ball at the fallen Pokemon.
As the ball wobbled, the Silph Scope began to beep louder in his pocket. He pulled it out, pointed it toward the Pokeball, and saw Marowak's ghost, her eyes still wet with tears as she wept silently. She quickly looked away as her eyes fell on her own body, torn and ripped on the ground. When she looked up again, her eyes were fixed to Dusty. She offered him a small, grateful bow; thanking him for sparing her child, before she turned and disappeared into the fog.
Dusty knew that if Madame Boss found out, she would probably have him killed, but he didn't care. And as the ball rocked gently on the ground, he vowed never to take another life again, but instead to care for this Cubone that had lost everything because of him.
From the far corner of the room, a ghostly dog watched Dusty spare the Pokemon's life and nodded, before it too disappeared into the fog to report back to its master.
"Thank-you, Arcanine," the old man Dusty had met earlier smiled, glad that he had sent the ghost to watch over the young Cubone. He, too, was a spirit; old and weathered for the many years he had spent in the Tower, watching over new and old Pokemon alike. It was hard knowing that he was unable to change fate, but altering the course to save the life of a baby Pokemon, and perhaps that of a young man, was worth the pain of being stuck on earth... in the end.
Going for: Cubone
Characters Required: 10-20k
Total Characters: 15,982