RESUME FILE 1.3: SHE CLEANS UP NICELY
Years ago in Celadon City, on one side of a dream…
When Gela awoke, she saw the girl walking through a forest in the early summer with a friend. Everything around them was silent. She smiled. For once, it was a dream she did not mind having.
The two girls trudged through the grass, only stopping their conversation to glance around and make sure they were still following the almost indistinct trail. “I can’t believe your mom comes on campouts. Mine doesn’t come anywhere near them. Security concerns and stuff.”
“It is kind of strange. After years of more or less ignoring me she has tried to be really involved in my life in the last few months. I am not complaining, of course. It is nice to see her. I just do not really understand it.”
“Oh, uh, she might have a reason, then. But it’s nice that she’s spending time with you! I get to talk to my mom maybe once a month. Yours is spending a weekend a month with you and then some. You should feel really glad.”
The girl stopped in her tracks. “You keep bringing up her reason for doing it. What is it? Why will you not just tell me already?”
“Look, you’re my friend and I want to tell you, but I can’t. I just kind of overheard our parents talking at my house and, um, just forget I said anything.”
“Fine. Just do not bring it up if you do not want to talk about it.”
The two resumed their walk in silence until they came across a large stream flowing through the woods. The girl smiled and leaned down beside it to release Drako into the water. The Magikarp flopped around briefly to test the water before swimming in more regular patterns in the stream. His trainer slipped her shoes and socks off to rest her feet in the water. Her friend waited for another minute until she realized that they were going nowhere. She crouched down on the water’s edge and stared at her broken reflection and the orange fish moving beneath the surface.
“You really have a thing for water, don’t you?”
“Uh-huh. I’m going to be a great water-type trainer and the Champion and maybe also a professional swimmer when I grow up. Water is important for that.”
“I think my mom wants me to get into politics or something. She has me go to a lot of social events with her and gets me nice clothes. I like it. I don’t really know what this “politics” thing is, but it can’t be too bad.”
The girl frowned. “My parents used to argue about it a lot. I do not really understand it either. Apparently our mothers are good at it.”
The two gazed off across the stream, content to wonder about the mysteries of politics for another few minutes before a loud, boyish voice burst out from behind them.
“Woah! That’s a big Magikarp! Get out of the way so I can catch it.”
The girl turned around to face the newly arrived boy. “No, we will not. He is my Pokémon, thank you very much.”
“Wait, you have a Pokémon? How? It isn’t legal until you’re ten. Are you ten?”
“I am nine, but I think most adults have better things to do than punish a girl training a Magikarp a year early. It is not like I could possibly do any harm with it.”
“Cool. I’m going to be nine in a week. Could you help me get a Pokémon?”
“I do not have any Pokéballs on me right now. Sorry, I cannot help you.”
“Come on! Surely you have something.”
The girl exhaled in frustration. “No, I really do not. Please go away.”
“Liar. I’ll take your shoes until you help me.”
“Hey, that is—come back!” The girl watched as the boy picked up her shoes and ran off into the woods. She quickly withdrew Drako and ran after him barefoot. The grass was slick with dew and the boy was athletic with a head start. But the girl was not about to give in. For a half hour she chased the boy across the grass, weaving around trees and almost losing sight of him at times until the boy finally collapsed along the edge of a ravine.
He laughed nervously and dangled the shoes over the edge. “You run well for a girl. But now you’re cornered. Give me a Pokéball or I’ll drop them.”
“I told you I do not have one. Please give me back my shoes.”
“Because otherwise I will make you do something you do not want to.”
“Like,” the girl flailed her arms beside her, “I do not know, like something!”
“You are being really convincing here. Could a girl like you really—oof.” He flinched from a barefoot kick to the side and his grip momentarily slackened, sending the girl’s shoes tumbling down the ravine. “Great, what was that for?”
“Get my shoes. You dropped them, now you should go and get them.”
The boy nervously eyed the edge of the ravine. “Look, I don’t think I can do that.”
“Fine. You will have to repay your debts, then.”
“I only have three dollars. Will that be enough?”
“No, but…” A mischievous glint came into the girl’s eyes. “Do you regularly camp here?”
“My unit comes every month. Why do you care?”
“Fine. You can work for me for a few hours a campout until you pay them off.”
“That seems really unfair to me. You just lost a pair of shoes and you seem to run just fine without them.”
The girl smirked. “Do you want another kick?”
“No, no. Ugh. You win. I’ll be your dumb servant or whatever for the next few campouts. Whatever makes you happy.” He started to rise to his feet but stopped midway. “By the way, I never did get your name. My parents told me to always introduce myself and get the name of anyone I met, and if we’ll have to deal with each other, we should start with that. My name is Horatio Mars. And yours is?”
Gela began to walk away as the girl gave her name and the world dimmed and faded. She already knew the rest.
More recently in Celadon City, on the other side of a dream…
The room was extravagantly decorated with the finest food and drink the region had to offer and filled with the most politically powerful men and women in the region. The past three Champions drank and shared stories in a corner as the chiefs of the intelligence agencies quietly sipped their drinks and exchanged quick remarks as they scanned the room. On stage, the present and future heads of the most powerful agency in the regional government chatted with the Prime Minister and the wealthiest magnate in the land. And sitting in a table with a front-row view of the entire event, Gela was bored out of her mind. Occasionally a magnate or DII executive who recognized her would come over to talk in hopes of getting a better connection to the family of the woman who would soon be wielding incredible political power. None were interested in genuine conversation. Some persisted in talking long after Gela made it clear she had no interest, but most were polite enough to stay away from her affairs. She made a few attempts to work on coding Fissure but her usually ponderous speed was hampered by people coming up to talk and her extreme exhaustion. It had been three days since she had slept in her usual bed and she had not deemed her situation important enough to use Stelo. That had side effects.
Gela tried to stay awake since she was in the public eye at an event that her mother apparently cared about, but she could not prevent her vision from occasionally fading to black before she jolted awake in her chair and shifted to stave off a future blackout that inevitably came. After a few lapses Gela pulled out her tablet and began to type a little more. While she would have to wait to get a real keyboard and Kodo before any meaningful work could get done, a little manual input would not hurt. Only a few lines in, she was interrupted by an enthusiastic hug from behind that almost made her drop the device she was holding.
“Gela! It’s so strange to actually see you dressed up for something!”
“Victoria, my arm,” Gela seethed as quietly as possible while still getting the message across.
“Oh! Oh my, I’m sorry. Did I hurt it?”
“Yes, you hurt it. Just about any pressure hurts it. You will be forgiven, though if you sit down here right now and give me something to look busy doing and keep me awake.”
“As you wish,” Victoria sat down in the seat next to her. “It’s better than sitting with my grandparents, anyway. Half of them are tycoons who insist that in two years I go to some fancy school to study business overseas, as if intelligence actually matters in amassing fortunes here, and the other half are military nuts who think I need to join the services now. It gets awkward quickly.”
“I can imagine. My mom ran away when she was nine and my dad’s family does not have anything to do with me anymore, so I do not quite have that problem. I am perfectly fine listening to how your life sucks, though. Do tell me more.”
“Someone’s a little grumpy today.”
“My arm is throbbing, I have not had a proper night’s sleep in days, I wasted two hours getting prepared to come to this ordeal and I am bored out of my mind to boot. I think I can afford to be a little bitchy today.”
At long last a man in a tuxedo walked up to the microphone on stage. “Hello. We will be starting the main program in two minutes. Please be seated so we may begin.”
“Finally. You know what is going to happen? My mother barely told me anything,” Gela said.
“I think my mom’s going to give a short history of the department and your mom. Then there will be an acceptance speech and the main party will begin.”
Gela gave her a blank look. “You mean there is more of this ‘partying’ after the speech? Can they not keep these things simple?”
“From someone who makes a living training Pokémon to do complicated things, you’re rather opposed to elegance and festival. Lighten up. It’ll be good for you.”
“What are the chances they would card me if I asked for a drink?”
“I thought alcohol messed with your sleep.”
Gela sighed and leaned back in her chair. “It does. But my sleep schedule is already shot and I need a distraction.
Before she could flag down a server, Mrs. Everett took the stage. “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Sharon Everett, Chairman of the Department of Internal Investigations. We are gathered here tonight to honor Suzanne Esprit, my successor in the post. Before we begin, allow me to give a brief history of the DII.”
Gela sarcastically muttered under her breath, “Because the people gathered here definitely do not know about the DII. No chance at all.”
“Look, it sounds nice. Let her give exposition if she wants.”
Mrs. Everett continued, “The Department was founded a few years after the Second Revolution. At the time, gangs and corrupt officials controlled most of the government. Our region was little more than a mafia state and the League was in shambles due to inept leadership. Even most seats in the Parliament were filled on the whims of local crime syndicates. The Department of Internal Investigations was founded by then-Champion Rutherford to clean up the mess. We were given broad authority to make and enact policies based on general resolutions from the Parliament. Within two years the prices at Pokémarts and grocery stores had halved and their profits were up. The cost of running Pokémon Centers declined and quality improved, leading to more and more citizens of our region having access to basic supplies and health care. Our League became competitive once more. The parliament was elected by the people and our industries thrived under government supervision and occasional nationalization following the odd failure.
“In our government, the Champion has responsibility for the League and our defense. The Parliament and the people determine the course we shall take. Corporations and independent segments of the bureaucracy thrive, but it is the Department of Internal Investigations that makes specific policies, and calls out the other branches when corruption occurs. I have spent thirty years of service in the Department and I do not regret a second of it. Tonight, an equally longtime veteran will be taking my place.
"Suzanne Esprit first joined the Regional Intelligence Authority at the age of twelve as a junior clerk. Over the course of two decades she rose through the ranks to become a full agent and eventually Assistant Head of Operations in the Island District. At around this time, she generously accepted an offer to transition to the DII. In her eighteen years of service to our department, she has proven to be an exceptionally talented administrator and assistant. Please, give a round of applause for our newest Chairman, Suzanne Esprit!”
“That was relatively short,” Gela whispered to Victoria.
“You aren’t going to clap for your own—oh, sorry. That was stupid of me. What else could she say about the DII? It isn’t like she’s going to say much more than what they formally do. And almost everything else about your mom is classified or too touchy to discuss.”
“I guess,” Gela relaxed in her chair as her mother walked onto the stage. “Hey, if I zone out and fall asleep, please do not wake me up.”
“You know the press would have a field day if they caught you falling asleep during your mother’s speech. Do you really want to inflict that on her that early in her tenure.”
“If the press are smart they will not bite the hand that could rip their head off.”
“Fair enough. You could show a little more respect.”
“I am here in heels. That is far more than I would do for anyone else on the planet.”
Gela watched her mother speak for a full five minutes, occasionally shifting a little to ward off encroaching darkness. When Mrs. Esprit first referred to her ‘wonderful daughter', her wonderful daughter stopped fighting sleep.
Years ago in Celadon City, on one side of a dream…
Gela woke up in front of the pool at her old home once more. This time the girl before her had longer hair and was taller than most of her poolside dreams. She had traded her normal wetsuit for a more standard swimsuit her mother had purchased. Great. The middle of the dark days. Gela sat down on a seat in the deck. She had a hunch as to what the dream was going to show and wanted to observe it more closely than normal.
The girl was in the water with her Magikarp as usual. It was neither particularly cold nor warm, suggesting either early fall or late spring. As usual the girl and her Pokémon were alone. Three minutes into the scene, the screen door opened and the girl’s mother stepped out. The sun had not yet begun to sink under the horizon. A few years ago the girl would have found her mother’s appearance before sundown strange, but now she hardly batted an eyelash.
“Hey.” The girl’s mother sat down in a seat next to Gela. “What have you been doing today?”
“I read a chapter of my textbooks and worked on a technical machine for an hour before coming down here. And you?”
“Same as always.” Her mother frowned for a moment while the girl was underwater before regaining her composure. “Are you excited for the campout next weekend? We’re going to a different camp than normal. This one is at the foothills of Mount Moon. Supposedly there are hills and caves.”
“So, Horatio will not be there?”
“No, but you can see him next month.”
“Okay.” The girl resumed her aimless swim as she gathered the resolve to say what she wanted to. “I am going to Saffron tomorrow with Mr. Aldo to challenge the gym there. Sabrina is one of the harder leaders, but I have had almost two years to train since losing to the Celadon gym and she will not know my strategies as well. I think I can win. Can you go?”
Her mother glanced at her watch for a second before replying. “I am sorry, dear, but I have work. I am sure you will put up a good fight.”
“I see.” The girl looked down at the distorted image of her feet in the water while her mother rose up to go back inside.
“We can talk more about the campout at dinner. I have a call I need to make for now. I love you.”
As her mother left, the girl weakly whispered back an affirmative answer. Had she been in Gela’s position, she would have seen a deeply worried expression fall over her mother’s face as she looked talked to a servant who went off to find a directory shortly after their conversation. When he reached the section for major Saffron companies, he picked up the phone.
Six weeks later on Cinnabar Island, on the other side of a dream…
The dully colored Arcanine lifted its head as two humans walked in the door of its master’s office before it fell back into a resting position. The fire-type’s resting place had moved slightly from the last time Gela had been inside the room, but that was the only notable difference Gela could see in Conti’s office.
“You didn’t have to come all the way out to Cinnabar to see me. I would have gladly met you in the Seafoam Islands or wherever else you wanted to meet.”
“It is fine. I have some business I need to take care of on the island. It turns out that I am actually a professional volcano jumper with an interest in ancient mansions,” Gela replied.
“I see. Please be seated, Ms. Esprit. Or The Batman or whatever other name it was you preferred. I take it you have one of the disks to give me now?”
“No, I was really just here to chat. Talk about life problems with a billionaire I barely trust and is quite possibly a cliché action film villain.” After a moment of confused silence, she continued “Not quite. I actually have all three of them done. Just let me get them out.”
As Gela shifted gear around in her backpack to pull out the disks, Conti’s mouth fell open. “It’s only been eight months. My technology experts predicted it would take you two years at the earliest. How did you get it done so quickly?”
Gela put the disks on the table and blankly stared at him. “I thought you said you liked spy flicks? Have you not learned that the best programmers in industry will always dramatically underestimate the capabilities of a sarcastic teenager with a tablet?”
Conti laughed as he ran his finger over the disks’ casing. “It is still very impressive to see this in real life. Outside of your, uh, film protagonist advantage, how did you do this so quickly?”
“I already had one done when you asked and was half-way done with a second. Fissure, Flint’s move, was hardly any different from an Earthquake drive I made a while back. There were some modifications to be made and that took a few weeks, but I had a decent start. Not to mention that I highly doubt your ‘technology expert’ actually knows how technical machine coding works beyond the very basics. It really is not that hard if someone in the know taught you.”
“I see. My researchers have already procured the technology to teach these moves to capable Pokémon, so I will not need that from you. The remaining funds will be transferred to an offshore account and—Zapdos, I can’t believe that I’m really holding these things. I expected it to take a decade to bring my dream to fruition. Now I could be Champion within a year.”
“About that. Remember my disclaimer? The moves are powerful and can annihilate basically anything in one hit. Getting the one-hit is the problem. If your Pokémon are not powerful enough to go toe-to-toe with the best before having the moves, they will not make all of the difference. They really just tip close battles definitively to your side.”
Conti smiled wryly. “Ms. Esprit, if I am willing to shell out ten million dollars on these devices I surely have the money to buy Pokémon capable of using them. That will hardly be a problem. If there is nothing else I should know, my secretary will contact you shortly to tell you how to get the remaining money.” The magnate extended his hand—his left one this time—to shake. Gela rose and returned the handshake before moving to the door and stopping.
“No pistol shots to the back of the head? No orders to your Arcanine to burn me to a crisp? I have outlived my usefulness to you and you are just letting me go. Disappointing. I may have overestimated your competence as a villain.”
“Gela, I come from a long line of noblemen from the Isles and hold a deep faith in the Storm Gods. My code of honor would forbid such tactics. Beyond that, I am a man of business. All I have in some cases is the sacred trust placed on a contract.”
“Well, it looks like you might be an anti-villain then. I will need to reflect upon how this affects your chances of success.”
“Or I might just be the protagonist. Have you considered this?”
“Nope. You are far too rich and well-connected to actually be the hero of this kind of story.”
Conti laughed as he rose to his feet. “Coming from the multi-millionaire daughter of the most powerful woman in the region, this is somewhat amusing.”
Gela turned to face the noble before she left the room.
“Did I ever claim to be the hero?”
Years ago in Saffron City, on one side of a dream…
Gela woke up to see the girl and the family butler, Mr. Aldo, walking the streets of the region’s largest city in the late afternoon until the girl stopped walking and slumped down on a park bench. The older man joined her a moment later.
“That Hypno was really strong,” the girl stated.
“Yes, it was quite the powerful specimen. But you knew you would have to face Pokémon like that on your badge quest.”
“I was not expecting them this early. I was hoping for a Kadabra or a Slowpoke or something that would actually be injured when hit by a Double-Slap. Something I could actually stand a chance against.”
“Well, maybe this isn’t for you. You’re a genius with technology and you like camping well enough. You could just do those things. They would let you play with your Pokémon, too.”
The girl stared off into the crowds and watched the throngs of people coming and going who were entirely oblivious to her plight. “It was that Hypnosis. I was already losing, but then I started getting sleepy and I could not focus. Then I lost.”
The older man blinked in surprise and turned to look at the girl. “You say that the Pokémon’s attack made you tired?”
“Yes. Is that important?”
The older man stood up immediately and began to walk at a brisk pace. “There’s supposed to be a population of Drowzee by Vermillion. If we hurry we could be there by nightfall when they come out. Who knows, we might even solve your problem.”
Yes, it had solved one of her problems. She could sleep normally with the Hypno and the side-effects would not surface until years later. And in the ensuing weeks her dream of being Champion had slowly faded to nothing. It would be years before it was revived again by two successive victories. Then she tried to battle Sabrina again. And then several of her problems began.
END FILE 1.3: SHE CLEANS UP NICELY
PROCEED TO FILE 1.4: CURBSTOMP BATTLE