Stalker put a hand to his forehead. “Right, I don’t suppose you told them that, either. Jade, Astrid… do either of you know exactly how you three escaped from the Viridian base?”
“Are you saying that you do know?” she asked, fixing him with an incredulous glare. “You weren’t exactly there.”
It would have been easy for anyone else to miss it, but I’d known him long enough to catch the tiny glint in his eye. Like he’d been waiting for someone to ask him that, and was already relishing the chance to explain.
“I admit that it took me a long time to figure it out. I watched the security footage and reviewed the reports all night. You two somehow managed to disappear within a crowd that was actively looking for you, then make it all the way to the transport wing without any Rockets or cameras spotting you. And you did it all with an Umbreon at your side for seemingly no reason.”
My eyes swept over her Pokémon warily as I stepped forward into their midst. Feraligatr jerked its head upward, leering suspiciously at me the entire time. Arcanine, on the other hand, refused to look at me—the firedog kept its hateful gaze firmly on a tree further down the trail, as though it were trying to set it on fire with just its eyes. Flareon glanced around at the others uneasily, folding its ears back and flicking its fluffy tail from side to side. Rapidash stood calmly off to the side, eyes closed and flames flickering gently in the wind. Raichu… I could hardly look at Raichu without feeling sick, so I didn’t.
“Are you under the impression that your actions here will decide their fate?” Giovanni asked, once the silence had gone on too long. “They are enemies of Team Rocket. It should be quite obvious what will happen to them either way. This decides your fate, not theirs.”
She took a half step backwards, hands trembling, staring at him wide-eyed. “Please, no. I’ll do anything… anything at all…”
“I have generously offered you the opportunity to prove your loyalty,” her leader snapped. “You will accept it, or you will be regarded as no different from the likes of them. This discussion is over.”
She gaped at the both of us, shaking her head in total disbelief. “I can’t. Believe. I actually cared about you two!” she yelled, pointing forward and signalling for her Raichu to attack. The orange mouse gave an impatient cry and jumped in front of her, yellow cheek pouches already sparking. Without wasting a second, Pichu dashed forward, readying a Thunderbolt of her own and launching it at the same instant Raichu did. The two bolts collided in midair, shooting out waves of sparks and strings of lightning in all directions.
“You want to keep testing my loyalty?!” she yelled. “Fine! Then be ready for me to prove you wrong!”
Lavender Town only had one trainer’s café, and it was tiny. Given Aros and Stygian’s size, we had to eat at one of the outdoor tables, which was less than ideal given the cold wind blowing in from the sea. Everyone argued over who got to sit next to Firestorm, we talked about our upcoming trip to Johto, and for a little while it actually felt like things were normal.
After eating, the walk back from the cafe was considerably less miserable than the walk to it had been. That kind of bothered me. I wasn’t allowed to be feeling kind of alright. Not after what had happened last night. Not after what Rudy was going through. Not after what Chibi was going through. There was no such thing as normal anymore, but it was like all the pain and despair had just melted into background noise that I could barely sense anymore. It was just the way things were. This was life now.
Current Residence: Elsewhere
Favourite genre of music: Jrock, Instrumental, and Video Game
Favourite style of art: Pixel Art, Semi-realistic cartooning, and then all-out crazy chibi
Favourite cartoon character: N
Personal Quote: Insanity loves company