Chapter 10 – Intervention
‘You guys ready?’
King put his hands together and stretched his arms out in front of him, cracking his knuckles.
There were murmurs of assurance from the group of teens standing before him. He looked between each of the four of them. First he looked to Saf. While it was true he was dating her that wasn’t the reason she was part of this operation or his group of favourites. Her blue hair and multitude of gold rings had become her signature but what King really loved about her, in every sense, was her ability to fearlessly stand in the face of the most extreme violence and aggression without even slightly losing her cool. He had never met a woman quite like her, nor a man for that matter. Next he looked to Slim, though it hurt his neck to do so. Slim wasn’t particularly clever but having a man who was comprised of six foot eight of pure muscle was always good for intimidation purposes, if nothing else. He was loyal too, which was important. The last two members of the small group were Yin and Yang: two identical twin brothers who joined the gang at roughly the same time. Both were short in stature and wore baseball caps over messy blonde hair. No one could ever tell them apart and King didn’t even bother to try any more. It was obvious that neither of them cared about this however as they persisted in wearing extremely similar, often matching clothes. They also both answered to either name. They made a good team, though, and seemed to be able to communicate without even talking, making them very useful to have around when pulling off something like this.
The five of them walked through the gate into Ecruteak City and began executing King’s carefully orchestrated plan. Saf gave King a quick peck on the lips before disappearing behind the Dance Theatre with Slim, who gave a sombre, silent nod to assure the others that everything was under control.
King walked to the front entrance of the Dance Theatre with Yin and Yang on either side of him.
‘Yin, you ready?’ asked King, ‘You’re sure you know what you’re doing?’
One of Yin and Yang nodded with a large grin.
‘And you two are you sure you can get the signal across, right?’
Both twins nodded confidently at this.
‘Alright, well get going then! Good luck!’
One of the twins nodded and ran into the Dance Theatre. King and the other twin stood outside, keeping watch and waiting for the signal.
Meanwhile, Saf and Slim positioned themselves directly underneath the window of the Kimono Girls’ main dressing room. Each of them gripped a Poké Ball in their hand: Saf her Fearow’s and Slim his Pidgeot’s. It was important that the Flying types were ready to go at a moment’s notice. Saf’s drill was to carry herself, Yin and the Kimono Girl to safety, while Slim was expected to take Pidgeot round to the front and pick up King and Yang. A moment’s delay could result in someone getting arrested and that was not a sacrifice they were willing to make.
‘Saf! Slim!’ came a voice from behind them suddenly.
The duo turned to see who it might be.
‘Champ!’ exclaimed Saf, ‘And you brought your trainees too! How cute. Listen, we’re a little busy right now, so there’s no time for a reunion but I hope there’s no hard feelings about the other day. You know how it is.’
Will’s face contorted with anger. Max and Frankie stood silently behind him.
‘Guys, I don’t care about that right now. You have to listen to me. This is a trap! Spike’s arranged it so that Hunters X and Y are gonna be here! You, Slim and King are all gonna get arrested!’
Saf laughed in Will’s face.
‘Calm down, Ackbar. There’s no need to get jealous. You had your chance to be in the A Team and you chose to go chasing Badges instead. You made your bed, now go lie in it. When this operation comes off good, me, Slim and the Yin-Yangs are gonna be totally made up as the top dogs. Spike can go fuck himself, he chose not to come and he’s gonna regret that. Your little scare tactic’s cute, it really is, but we’re not biting so take your shit somewhere else, we’re busy.’
Will sighed in frustration. Max wanted to say something but was too scared. Frankie was too busy holding back his tears to do anything.
‘I’m serious!’ insisted Will, ‘Look, is King here? I need to speak to him.’
‘King’s round the front but if you think he’s gonna be any more likely than us to fall for your shit, you’re sadly mistaken.’
Saf and Slim both laughed. Will opened his mouth to speak but the gigantic Slim cut him off with a baritone dismissal.
‘We don’t care. Shut the fuck up and fuck off. The grownups are busy.’
Will sighed again and led his brothers around the building. He was sure King would be more understanding. Around the front of the Dance Theatre, Will saw King and either Yin or Yang standing beside the main entrance.
‘King!’ shouted Will.
‘Champ!?’ said King in shock and confusion, ‘What are you doing here?’
King grabbed a Poké Ball from his belt.
‘If you want to talk about getting your Pokémon back, now isn’t the time. I know you don’t have strong Pokémon on you, Champ. Don’t think I’m afraid to fuck you up. I’m busy right now.’
‘It’s not about that,’ insisted Will, ‘I’m trying to help you! This whole thing... It’s a trap! Hunters X and Y are gonna be here!’
‘Oh, come on, give us a little more credit than that. We’re not going to be drawing any negative attention. Yang is inside battling the Kimono Girls one by one as per the rules of their standard challenge. There’s going to be no reason for anyone to even consider calling the police until seconds before we escape with a high priced hostage. It’s all worked out. I appreciate your concern but it’s really not necessary.’
‘No!’ objected Will, ‘It’s Spike! He’s arranged it so they know you’re gonna be here!’
King was silent for a moment. Will, Max, Frankie, and either Yin or Yang all looked to him expectantly.
‘That’s inconveniently plausible.’
King paused again.
‘You’re telling the truth, aren’t you?’
‘Hm... Even if you’re not, the risk is too high. It’s definitely possible that Spike has decided to fuck us over, and if he has, we’ll really be in for it. Champ, if I find out you’re lying to us, I’m not going to be happy. I don’t know what I’ll do just yet but it’ll be something you won’t like. You got that?’
‘Okay, Yang,’ continued King, turning to the small gang member beside him, ‘I need you to signal Yin to tell him that it’s time to go. You got that?’
‘You sure, Boss?’ asked Yin or Yang.
‘Yes, definitely. We can do this another time. It seems I need to deal with Spike first.’
The twin leant inside the door of the Dance Theatre and gave an almost silent mumble that didn’t even sound like a word.
‘Alright, we need to get going now,’ instructed King, ‘Yin will be able to catch up. We can send a message to Saf and Slim as we walk and they can pick us up on the way.’
King immediately started marching towards the South exit of Ecruteak, his accomplice following. Will led Max and Frankie in the same direction. Moments later they were joined by the other twin. Will breathed a sigh of relief but suddenly their escape was interrupted by a female scream.
‘That was Saf,’ said King suddenly, a look of terror passing across his face.
‘She’ll be fine,’ said Will, ‘Isn’t Slim with her? She’ll be fine.’
The recognisable cackle of Hunter X was the next thing to be heard.
‘She’s not going to be fine,’ said King, ‘We need to go back for her.’
‘No!’ snapped Will furiously, ‘You know that’s stupid! There’s nothing we can do to help! This is X and Y we’re talking about! You know what tangling with them is like! You’re not gonna save her, you’re just gonna get yourself caught!’
‘I can’t leave her.’
King turned to go back to the Dance Theatre but Will violently grabbed him by the shoulder. Max, Frankie, Yin and Yang all stood uncertainly, unsure of what to do.
‘Get your fucking head screwed on, King. You can’t save her. If it had been me or Spike or Yin or Chubby or anyone else instead, would you be going back right now? What if Saf had been with us and it was just Slim by himself back there? Would you be going back? You know as well as me that you’re in this mess because you fucking failed at treating Saf like an ordinary member of the gang like you said you would. Do you really think Spike would be doing this to you if you hadn’t passed him over for that bitch at every fucking opportunity? When I left he was supposed to take my place. You know he was, and he knew he was too, but instead you make that whore your right hand man. That’s fucked up. Start thinking like a real leader. Saf and Slim are fucked, there’s nothing we can do about that. Is leading Yin and Yang to the same fate and putting yourself behind bars so Spike is free to run the gang how he likes gonna solve anything?’
‘I can’t leave her,’ repeated King with a pathetic look in his eyes.
He wriggled free of Will’s grip, grabbed a Poké Ball from his belt and ran back towards the Dance Theatre. Everyone looked to Will as if for orders.
‘You two are coming with us,’ said Will to Yin and Yang.
The twins nodded obediently.
‘Let’s get going. At least King will have bought us some time.’
Will began sprinting out of Ecruteak, leading his brothers and the twins behind him. Once again, they ran for a considerable distance but this time southwards from Ecruteak. This run was even longer than the first, with Will refusing to stop until they were nearby the entrance to National Park. He stopped just as suddenly as he had the previous time.
‘Alright, you two,’ said Will gesturing towards Yin and Yang, ‘I want you to remember that I saved you, alright? If it weren’t for me, you’d be banged up with King, Saf, and Slim right now. You got that?’
The twins nodded.
‘Alright. Now fuck off. I need some time with my brothers.’
The twins nodded again. They looked to each other hesitantly for a moment, and then headed off in the direction of Violet City and the Ruins of Alph. Once the twins disappeared from sight, Will led Max and Frankie underneath a large tree that obscured them from easy view.
‘How are you two feeling?’ asked Will.
Neither Max nor Frankie responded. Will put his hand on Frankie’s shoulder.
‘We can relax for a bit now. Do you guys want to send your Pokémon out?’
Max and Frankie hesitantly nodded and reached for the Poké Balls on their belts. Squirtle and Aipom, sensing their trainer’s agitation, went over and began fearfully hugging Frankie as soon as they were released from their Poké Balls. Bulbasaur and Growlithe both stood very close to Max, but looked resolutely outwards. There seemed to be significantly less rivalry between them, they seemed to cooperating to ensure that Max could rest. Will sent out his own Pokémon: Charmeleon and Flaafy. The two of them strolled around the group, keeping a casual eye on their surroundings. Although it tried to keep its eyes to itself, Bulbasaur struggled to hide the fact that it was interested in its old friend’s development.
‘I know that was scary,’ continued Will, ‘And I’m so sorry you ended up getting involved with those guys. I promise you won’t have to deal with them again, okay? From now on, I’ll deal with them alone and I’ll tell you where I’m going and what I’m doing so you don’t have to worry about me.’
Max and Frankie were silent for a moment.
‘No,’ said Max eventually, ‘You’re not going to deal with them alone. Telling us where you’re going isn’t enough. We’re your brothers, we want to help.’
‘Yeah,’ said Frankie in solidarity.
Will paused thoughtfully.
‘Alright but you guys have to listen to me, okay? No more playing renegade cops, okay? If I include you in what I’m doing, we’re a team, and that means no going behind each other’s backs. You got it?’
Frankie nodded but Max did not respond.
‘You got a problem with that, Max?’ asked Will.
‘No, I think it’s a good idea,’ said Max, ‘I just don’t think you’re doing it.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘That gang... They were all calling you “Champ”. That girl... she was talking about you having a chance to be in a team but blowing it on Badges or something, and when you were talking to King... I don’t know, you were talking like you knew everything. You said he passed Spike over when you left... What did you leave? Were you in the gang, Will?’
There was silence among the three brothers. Max and Frankie stared at Will, waiting for the answer to the question they had barely dared to ask. It felt as though hours passed before he finally answered.
‘Yes. I was one of them.’
Max wanted to scream at Will. He couldn’t believe he had been part of that disgusting gang. He couldn’t believe he had worked with the people who had mugged and humiliated them. However, he found himself too overcome with emotion to even open his mouth. Frankie was similarly dumbstruck, though more out of distress than anger.
‘Look, I’m sorry, I know it was wrong. That’s why I left. I fell in with the wrong people... It was stupid... It wasn’t bad at first but... it escalated quickly. It was just four or five of us, battling each other, making other people battle us, getting strong. Before long we had people wanting us to train them... We had recruits, underlings. Next thing you know, we were the strongest Johto trainers you could find outside a Gym... We had more firepower than most local police stations... We got carried away. I realised it was wrong and I distanced myself from it, I tried to start putting my talents to a positive use – that’s why I took up my Gym challenge.’
‘You didn’t try and shut the gang down though,’ answered Max, ‘You didn’t even try and help the people they hurt. You just ignored it and hoped it’d go away.’
‘It’s not as simple as that, Max. You’ve seen them. They’re pros. There’s nothing I could’ve done. You know our mugging happened because I stopped hanging out with them, right? That’s all I did to piss them off. What do you think they would have done if I’d took an active stance against them? I had no choice.’
‘You were pretty high up in this gang, weren’t you? You made it sound like you were King’s right hand man: Deputy Leader or something?’
‘It’s not as formal as that. King’s the boss because everyone respects him as the boss... He’s got no official title, he’s just self evidently the boss because he runs things. I was the guy he turned to for help and took with him on all the most important missions. Spike was always jealous. He wanted recognition. He always felt like King favoured me unfairly. I thought that was part of the reason he lost his temper so easily... I thought if I became less involved, King would have no choice but to turn to him more often. I thought that would mellow him out a bit, make him a bit more reasonable. I thought him calming down might even make the gang a better place but things only got worse. King turned to his girlfriend, Saf, for the things he used to turn to me for and that just made Spike even madder. Things got out of hand... Some of it was my fault, some of it wasn’t. I am so sorry you guys got caught up in this mess. I’m sorry I had anything to do with these guys in the first place. I really am. I hope you guys can forgive me enough that we can work together.’
Max was about to respond with further accusations but Frankie spoke first.
‘Everyone makes mistakes,’ said the youngest Wynne brother, ‘You’re our brother. Of course we forgive you. We know you’re a good person really and we know that you always look out for us. We love you.’
‘Max?’ asked Will.
Max suddenly felt far more sympathetic than he had done before.
‘Frankie’s right. You’re good to us.’
‘Then we’re all good?’ asked Will with a smile.
Max and Frankie nodded happily. The mood of their Pokémon also seemed to improve. Squirtle, Aipom, Bulbasaur, and Growlithe all gazed up at Will lovingly. Charmeleon and Flaafy stood on either side of Will, looking down on the smaller Pokémon like children who they were determined to protect.
‘So what’s the plan?’ said Max eagerly.
‘I think there’s only one thing we can do. We’ll need to go to the Ruins of Alph and try to appeal to Spike’s better nature. I’ve got my Badges with me now. My plan had been to offer King my Badges in exchange for him giving our Pokémon back... I just hope Spike will accept the same deal. He should be in a good mood now that he’s the boss...’
‘What!?’ exclaimed Max in horror, ‘You can’t give them your Badges!’
‘Yeah!’ said Frankie.
‘I don’t see what choice we have, Max,’ retorted Will, ‘These guys are the real deal. I’ve dealt with them before. Charmeleon and Flaafy aren’t ready to take these guys on... and I’m sorry but it’s obvious that your Pokémon aren’t exactly fighting machines either. If we go in there guns blazing, we’re just gonna get fucked.’
There was silence for a moment.
‘We have to at least try!’ said Max eventually.
‘No we don’t!’ snapped Will, ‘Max, you need to get used to the real world. Sometimes you don’t have a choice, sometimes someone else just holds all the cards and there’s nothing you can do about it. Sometimes you have to play their game. Losing my Badges isn’t a big deal. I can report them stolen and claim back on the insurance. Anyway, everyone in Johto knows I’ve got five Badges, it’s not going to slow my progress even the slightest bit.’
‘I guess...’ grumbled Max.
Max and Frankie’s Pokémon were beginning to seem less impressed by Will.
‘Have you two eaten today?’ asked Will, ‘Look, we’ll head to Violet, pick up something to eat and then we’ll head to the Ruins of Alph and I’ll offer Spike my Badges. We’ll get our Pokémon back, I’ll probably be provided with new Badges, and even if I’m not, I’ll at least have them on record. We’ll be able to go back to our normal lives and Spike and the others will have no reason to bother us any further. Okay?’
Max and Frankie reluctantly murmured in agreement. This solution sounded a little too much like giving up for their liking.