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Softly Spoken Lies

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Saffron heard her alarm clock beeping furiously. When she looked over at it, it was blinking 9:00.

Waking up, she had an equal amount of excitement and reservation. It was her tenth birthday, and that meant she was ready to get her first Pokémon. She got off her bed and took a look around her room.

It was never exactly the cleanest of places, but it had managed to get even worse over the past few weeks. Screwdrivers, hammers, and nails lay around haphazardly. Half-done contraptions sat around, with Saffron knowing that she'd never get around to finishing them.

The reason why the room was in such disarray was that she didn't see the point in cleaning it when she was going to be abandoning it soon. She was supposed to go on a "Pokémon journey", which entailed leaving home for about a year and trying to become the best Pokémon trainer in the world.

She went downstairs, sliding down the banister along the way. Her mom walked up to her, excited and eager. "Oh, I can't believe this! My little lady is going to become a Pokémon trainer!"

Saffron let out a small, awkward chuckle, somewhat confused. Her mom, Victoria, was almost never this happy. It would have felt terrible to disappoint her, at that point.

"Hey, uh, mom, do you think I should really be going out there? At ten years old? Seems a bit pre-emptive, is all."

Victoria tried to keep up a cheerful tone, but failed to hide irritation. "Oh, no, no! You're plenty old enough! If anything, you really should have gone on this journey earlier." She ran up to the front door and opened it, saying "Let's go! A world of dreams and adventures awaits!"

Saffron noticed that they seemed to be in a pretty big hurry to get her out of the house. She was shoved out the door, with only a quick "goodbye" to go off of.

She looked around. It was very quiet, which wasn't new. Elesto Town was never an especially busy place. It was a tiny town, and realistically speaking, more of a village.

The building in it that stood out the most was the large, standing, metallic building. It was the lab that Professor Pistachio worked at, where he was busy researching and experimenting with different Pokémon.

Pistachio was giving away Pokémon to those about to start their journey. Due to the difficulty of obtaining Pokémon, however, he had started to run low on them. It was why Saffron got up early at nine to get one, since any later and Alex would have already taken it.

Alex then rode from the back of the laboratory on his bike, with a tied up Charmander on the backseat. He hit the brakes in front of Saffron, put his tongue out, and blew a raspberry.

"Aw, you got here early? Did you seriously get the last Pokémon?"

Alex let out a smug laugh, said "Yep! Got here an hour ago, at nine o'clock." and spat at her. His voice was obnoxious and condescending, in a way that seemed like he was pretending that he was any more knowledgeable about Pokémon than she was.

"Wait, but my alarm clock said it was nine, so how could you have gotten here an hour ago?" It took about five seconds for her to figure it out. "Dammit! Daylight savings time!"

In the same sniveling voice, Alex said "Ha, you're supposedly this gadgeteer genius, but you can't figure out how to set your alarm clock? You're pathetic." He raised his middle finger at Saffron before biking off, continuing to laugh.

Saffron decided that she needed to put on her best fake tears when she talked to Pistachio. She entered the laboratory, and went up to talk to the Professor.

He was a tall, lanky figure with dark skin and a scruffy beard. His voice was deep and intimidating, even though, in reality, he was actually pretty approachable

"Saffron, I'm sorry to say that I don't have any Pokémon left. Alex took the last one, unfortunately." He pointed at the back of the laboratory, which did indeed lack any Pokémon.

"You know how hard Pokémon are to obtain as well as anyone."

Saffron closed her eyes, bit her lips as hard as she could, and thought about the inevitability of death. "I wanna get a Pokémon! I wanna, I wanna!" as tears came from her eyes.

Professor Pistachio kneeled down to Saffron. "Oh, okay, calm down now, it's not the end of the world."

Saffron kept going. "My mom's going to be so disappointed! I don't know if I can really go back to the house and tell her I don't have a Pokémon!"

Pistachio let out a dejected sigh. He kept conceding in situations like this, and it was how he ran out of Pokémon in the first place. "Alright, well...I do actually have a Pokémon in the back. If you really want, I can let you have it."

Saffron snapped out of it. "Really?! That's great! I'll take anything! What Pokémon is it?"

"It's called a Jynx."

"I can't believe the Professor didn't have any Pokémon." Saffron looked on at the lake in front of her. She was throwing rocks into it, trying to see how many skips it could make across.

She wasn't entirely sure why she cared. She didn't really want to go on this Pokémon journey - she would have preferred to stay at home, tinkering about with all those unfinished gadgets. Still though, she always wanted a Pokémon. Especially a cute one, one that she could take care of, grow up with, and vent her frustrations with.

She noticed that it was getting dark out, and decided that it was time to head home. She was sure her mom would understand, at least.

When she walked back home, Saffron noticed that loud dance music, flashing lights, and crowds of people were inside her house.

She ran up and opened the door. She saw that it was filled with people drinking, dancing, and crushing beer cans with their foreheads.

Victoria lay on the couch, drunk and her mouth filled with vomit. She heard the door, and looked over to see Saffron. "O-oh, shit, it's Saffron!" she said, behind extremely heavy slurring.

As soon as she said that, everybody in the house turned quiet and stayed still. Somebody leaned over and turned off the radio that was playing the loud dance music.

"Mom, what the heck is going on here?"

She stood up, trying to come up with a decent explanation. "Well, we, were, uh, throwing a farewell party! For you! Also, please don't go into your room."

Saffron was skeptical. "You threw me a farewell party and didn't invite me?"

Victoria realised that she had been caught out. "Well, you...what are you doing here anyway?"

Saffron said "He didn't have any Pokémon. But I can see why you to not see me for a year, so I'll just go anyway. Not for a year, either. Forever."

Victoria said "Oh, please, don't go. Also, seriously, don't go into your room."

Saffron didn't say anything else, and just walked out.

After a few seconds of reflection, Victoria shouted "Hit it!" and the music started back up, and they all started drinking and dancing again.

Saffron could hear the music playing as she walked out of town. She decided that she didn't want to think about it. She also didn't want to think about how, from that point on, she was effectively homeless.

Lacking any other options, Saffron headed towards Route 12, which led out of the city. Kids were warned against leaving the town without a Pokémon, but Saffron was left with no real options. She prayed that she was lucky enough to not meet any Pokémon along the way. They can be very dangerous when you don't have any of your own to fight them off.

Route 12 was a wide pathway into the next town. Tall grass covered up most it, and the path went up, with ledges providing a way to go back down quickly. Walking up the ledges was heavily frowned upon, but then again, so was entering without a Pokémon. She walked up them to avoid stepping on as much grass as possible.

Unfortunately, as soon as she stepped up on a single patch of grass, a Pokémon popped out.

It was a Poochyena. Poochyena was a Pokémon notorious for having an extremely short temper and sharp bite. As such, Saffron tried to make sure that she wouldn't do anything that could piss it off.

As Saffron tried to step away from it, she accidentally stepped on its tail. Poochyena cocked its head up and stared at Saffron. Saffron, scared, ran away. As she sprinted up to the next town, she stepped on more and more patches of grass, which caused more and more Pokémon to appear.

Saffron looked over. She saw several Poochyena, a Graveler, Buizel, Growlithe, and a lot of Rattatta. She ran faster, but ended up tripping on a ledge. The Poochyena that she had accidentally stepped on ran at her, and the rest of the Pokémon followed.

As she tried to get up, the Pokémon ran up and bit and clawed at her while she screamed for help. Growlithe fired an ember at Saffron, and set her on fire. Saffron screamed in pain and rolled on the ground in an attempt to put out the fire. The fire eventually went out.

Growlithe let out another ember, setting Saffron on fire again.

Saffron walked into town. A sign said "Welcome to Rubber Town!"

Saffron suffered from bruises, third-degree burns, bite marks, torn clothes, and bleeding both external and internal. Not having anywhere to sleep, she sat behind the Pokémart and eventually nodded off.

Saffron woke up, feeling ill and disoriented from the day before. She realized that her only option at that point was to obtain her own Pokémon. Which wasn't going to be easy, given that capturing Pokémon was something left exclusively to experts. Still, it was worth a try.

She went around the front door of the Pokémart and entered the shop. It was kept extremely clean, and had fully stocked shelves filled with items needed for Pokémon trainers, like repels, revives, potions, and most important of all, ropes, which were vital for capturing Pokémon. Ropes weren't exactly an ideal way to do it, but nobody had come up with anything better.

She grabbed some potions and a rope. A cashier at the shop's back desk said "Hey, are you paying by card or cash?" Victoria didn't bother to give Saffron any money before booting her out of the house, meaning she was completely broke.

Saffron reached into her pocket. "Okay, let me just go in here, and…" She immediately tried to run out of the front door, but the cashier flipped a switch under the desk that activated an invisible electric grid on the front door and electrocuted her.

Saffron got knocked down on the ground, and coughed up blood. Her vision was blurred, and she could barely stand up. The cashier ran up to her.

"Oh god, I'm sorry! Look, I didn't expect the grid to hurt you so much, okay? Look, I'll take you to the hospital, and-"

Saffron cut him off. "No, no, it's fine. I'll manage. I don't need any help." She didn't want to be taken to the hospital, since her lack of money meant that she couldn't afford to go. Instead, she simply walked out, albeit holding onto the stolen items.

The cashier continued, quietly and to himself. "...I'll get the Pokémart company to front the costs." After a minute of thinking, the cashier went around to the back desk and called up the CEO, informing him of a potential lawsuit.

Saffron got her bearings together. She used the stolen potion in an attempt to heal herself up.

"Oh, god! It stings! It stings!" Her skin felt like it was on fire, and she already knew what that felt like.

She realized that it was intended to only be used on Pokémon.

Saffron then went up into the next route, Route 13, in an attempt to capture a Pokémon. She walked up to the route, and stopped just short of the first patch of grass. She then grabbed the rope, and stepped onto the first patch of grass on the route.

A Pokémon popped out, and she quickly jumped back and took a look at it.

It was a Zangoose. Zangoose wouldn't have been her first choice, really, but she'd take it. It had a red lightning-bolt like stripe on its front, white fur, and sharp, shining claws.

Saffron tied a knot in the rope to create a circle in which Zangoose could be caught. Stepping back, she threw the rope like a lasso, and it landed on the ground so that Zangoose was in the middle of the circle. Saffron pulled back, and the rope fastened tightly around the Zangoose.

"Yes! Perfect! Why do people consider this so difficult?" Saffron shouted, triumphantly.

She soon found out. Zangoose started running away while Saffron was still holding the rope, and dragged her along.

Zangoose ran through Route 13 and onto the road separating the route and Plasteca City. A car drove up to them.

Saffron shouted "No, no, no, NO!" as it did. The Zangoose managed to get past the road in time, but it wasn't fast enough for Saffron to get out of the way, and the car ended up hitting her, instead.

Saffron got thrown on top of the car before landing face down. She kept a firm grasp on the rope, though, so there was no time to recover as she got dragged into Kyoto.

Kyoto was just about the most crowded city in Japan, which was saying a lot. There weren't really a lot of cities there that weren't crowded enough to make a nerd convention seem like a breath of fresh air in comparison.

The Zangoose started clawing its way through the crowds of people, severely injuring several. The police took note, and started chasing after Saffron and the Zangoose.

The Zangoose kept running faster and faster, to the point where it was leaving flame trails. As a result, Saffron's hair caught on fire, and she couldn't put it out due to still holding onto the rope.

The fire spread to her clothes, and she was, once again, caught on fire.

The police shot at the Zangoose in an attempt to stop it, but the Zangoose dodged them by swinging left and right, causing Saffron to get shot in the foot. The pain from being shot in the feet was barely noticed, in comparison.

Zangoose eventually ran up to an extremely wide river in front of it. The pathways to the left and right had been blocked off by police officers, so it looked like Zangoose was trapped. However, it had built up enough speed to run across the river with ease. The massive waves in the water put out the fire on Saffron, and she was dragged across the river into a barren desert.

"Strange geography here." Saffron said, just before coughing up her appendix.

"Good thing I don't need that."

Saffron thought that the chase might finally be coming to a close. Nobody was around for miles, and even the Zangoose seemed like it was getting exhausted. Plus, being bounced against the sand was, at the very least, preferable to being bounced against the pavement.

Zangoose kept running, and Saffron noticed a cactus headed their way. Saffron wanted to let go, but after gripping onto the rope for so long, it took a while for her to register that she should let go and finally abandon the Zangoose.

She let go just before colliding with the cactus, and the Zangoose ran off.

She lay down on the ground, thinking about the events that caused her to lay there, half-dead. Flies started to swarm her body, and she tried to fend them off by waving her hands at them. "No, piss off, I'm not dead yet."

As she said that, she coughed up her left lung. "Oh well, there's a reason I have two."

As soon as she said that, the cactus fell on top of her.

Saffron quietly sobbed. She was too beat up to do it loudly. She pulled the cactus off of her, albeit with great pain and difficulty, and went on to pull out all of the pins. "I should probably get around to writing my will."

She realised that the two key things needed for a will are to know people, and to have things. She had the privilege of neither, unless she wanted to give her burnt up, charred clothes to the guy who electrocuted her at the shop.

"Well, time to try catching Zangoose again."

Saffron got out a dart gun, hiding behind a rock and looking over at Zangoose. She had laced it with Poké Sleep, a special powder that sent Pokémon to sleep. It was, however, highly poisonous to humans, meaning that she had to be careful.

"Alright. I need to... account for the wind, which is going at about three kilometers per hour. This dart is quite heavy, so I should... aim high. If I do this right, the dart should land on Zangoose." Saffron found herself struggling to breathe, which probably had something to do with losing a lung.

She blew into the dart gun. However, it barely fired at all, and landed on the rock.

"Alright, you know what? That's...fine. That's also, completely and totally, fine."

Saffron pulled out another dart from her pocket. "Oh well. I'll just throw the damn thing, instead."

Making sure not to touch the highly poisonous, almost certainly lethal powder at the tip of the dart, Saffron threw it at the Zangoose.

To Saffron's surprise, it actually hit its target, landing right in Zangoose's neck and knocking it out.

Saffron stood up and cheered. "Holy shit, I did it! I finally knocked the damn thing out!"

She ran up to it to investigate. She looked over the Zangoose's body, and pulled the dart out from its neck.

"Wait, no, the hell am I doing?"

Saffron ran away in fear, but noticed that it did not, in fact, wake up. She breathed a raspy sigh of relief.

She went up to Zangoose to investigate, and grabbed its neck to see where the dart landed. At that point, her vision started to blur, and she felt extremely tired.

"Oh, right. Poison." Saffron got knocked out cold.

With the Zangoose still out on the open desert, Saffron took out a metallic trap. It had two steel jaws, and when enough pressure was applied onto it, the jaws would close and trap whatever got caught in it.

She lay it carefully out on the sand, right in front of a large rock. The poison had left her body severely weakened, and she struggled somewhat to open it.

She threw sand on top of the bear trap in an attempt to hide it. This worked - It wasn't totally invisible, but the Zangoose didn't notice.

Saffron ran behind the rock, and whistled in an attempt to get the attention of the Zangoose. Her hope was that the Zangoose would be intrigued enough to investigate, walk right in front of the rock, and step on the trap.

Zangoose walked up to where Saffron had placed the trap, but it didn't activate. Zangoose looked around briefly in confusion before walking away.

Saffron had no idea why the trap didn't activate. She peered over from under the rock to take a look at the trap.

"Well, it doesn't seem like anything's br-"

While in the middle of talking, the trap activated and grabbed onto her neck. She bled from the mouth, screaming "Hrlllpp me, aanybody!"

"Alright, that's enough of this." Saliva came out of Saffron's mouth whenever she spoke, and speaking in general was difficult due to the trap crushing her vocal cords. She pulled out a Poké Pistol, which was like any other pistol except that it had cute Pikachu decals all over it.

Her plan was to shoot the Zangoose in the legs, crippling it and ensuring that it couldn't run away. Her hands shook, twitched, and struggled to hold up the gun. She fired the gun, aiming at Zangoose's legs.

The bullet fired and completely missed Zangoose. Saffron failed to notice that she forgot to account for the wind, instead focusing on how loud the gun was.

"Oh my god! It's so loud! How are guns this freaking loud?!" Saffron held her hands up to her ears and winced. When she let her hands down, all she could hear was extremely loud and obnoxious ringing.

After a few seconds to think about it, Saffron shot another round at the Zangoose.


"Alright, this is it. It ends right here, right now." Saffron drove up to the desert in a massive pick-up truck. Saffron had equipped the front of the truck with sharp, dangerous spikes, while the rest of the truck had been deliberately wrapped up with sparking, faulty electric wires in an attempt to electrocute Zangoose and paralyse it. Since she couldn't reach the accelerator, she had dropped a brick onto it.

Saffron drove after the Zangoose at full speed in an attempt to run into it. "You ain't getting from me now, Zangoose!"

Zangoose walked out of the path of the truck.


Saffron tried to hit the brakes in an effort to stop the truck, but the pedal broke off and the truck kept going. "Uh, well, crap."

The truck kept going, and Saffron didn't know when it was going to stop. The truck approached the river that separated the desert from Plasteca City. Saffron tried to steer away, but the steering wheel broke off.

"Oh, fuck me."

Saffron tried to open the truck's door, but the wires wrapped around it made it impossible. "Oh, no, no, n-wait, how did I get in here?"

The truck drove into the river, with the electricity killing all of the water Pokémon that swam in it and causing them all to float to the top. As the truck sank deeper underwater and it started to flood, Saffron punched the window to her right in an effort to break it, but only ended up hurting her hand.

"Ow! Also, crap."

Saffron finished up her next invention, and took a deep breath born from exhaustion. She coughed up a Magikarp, which flopped around in the sand before quickly dying.

"Well, let's try it."

The invention in question was a small, round container. Pushing in a button in the middle caused it to open up. If it went near a Pokémon, it would cause the Pokémon to turn into a beam of light and enter the capsule. When the container was open, the light would turn the Pokémon back into its original form.

Hiding behind the rock, Saffron pushed the button and threw the capsule at Zangoose. It landed near Zangoose, turned Zangoose into a beam of light, and the beam of light entered the ball.

The container fell to the ground and started wiggling. Saffron was extremely tense, and started tapping the rock furiously with her finger. She knew that it wasn't going to change anything, but it felt right.

Eventually, the container sealed itself shut. It took a few seconds for Saffron to register that it had. Actually catching the thing felt like it had become a far-fetched dream for her, like finding the city of gold or stopping the entirety of racism.

Saffron still wasn't too confident. She walked up to the container slowly, expecting Zangoose to spring back out at any point. Even if it didn't, that wasn't a guarantee that she hadn't accidentally killed it.

The container stayed closed, so Saffron opened it herself. Light came out of it, and turned back into the Zangoose. Saffron walked up to it.

"...Hey there, Zangoose." She reached out her hand in an attempt to be friendly. Zangoose grabbed her arm and climbed onto her back.

Saffron went down to her knees, and started crying tears of joy. "I...can't believe I actually did it." Zangoose let out its cry, with its hand also raised in the air.

"Capturing you is the reason I'm cheering, don't act like you're a part of this."

Twenty years passed.

Saffron had since founded the Silph Company. The Silph Company quickly became the biggest company on the planet, mainly on the basis that nobody bothered trying to compete with them.

"Miss Saffron, you have a meeting at six pm with the mayor of Kyoto."

Saffron looked over at her assistant and said "Look, Maron, I don't have time to do these pointless meetings with nobodies."

Maron was incredulous. "Mr. Kadokawa is a nobody? Is this a joke? He's getting pissed at Silph Co. for tax evasion, and accusations of being a monopoly, and reckless lack of product testing, and-"

Saffron went up and put one of her fingers on Maron's lips. "Shh, shh. Look, we all know that I run this city. The mayor's just the errand boy."

After a few seconds of consideration, Maron said "I hate that you're right."

Saffron let out a knowing smirk before heading back into her office.

Her office had a large window the size of a wall overlooking Kyoto. She put her arms behind her back and looked over. "Hmph."

Her Zangoose sat in the corner, laying on a pillow that Saffron had set out for it. Saffron sat down at her desk, and the Zangoose went up to her. Saffron pet it.

"Sometimes, I wish that my life had went the same way as that Alex jackass."

Maron walked in, with her work cellphone on hand. "Miss Saffron, I don't mean to upset you if you didn't know, but if you mean the Alex that was born in Elesto Town and left about the same time you did...he died of a drug overdose when he was eleven."

Saffron looked right into her eyes and said "Yes, I knew that."

Maron said "Okay, then. Just making sure. Also, your mom is trying to reach you, she sa-"

Saffron interrupted. "Tell Victoria to piss off."

Maron continued, saying "Yes, I know your stance regarding her, but she's had a horrible accident and is on the brink of death, and she-"

Saffron interrupted again. "I don't care. As I said, tell Victoria to piss off." She pointed to the office door, and Maron silently walked away.

"Ugh." Saffron grabbed her TV remote from one of her drawers and turned the office TV on. It was a small CRT located in the bottom right corner of the office. Saffron had been wanting a better TV in the office, but there wasn't really anywhere to put one.

The TV turned on to "Fennekin News", the channel that was usually left running. Contrary to the name, it was not a channel dedicated solely to the Pokémon species Fennekin, but a general news outlet.

Saffron took out a cigarette and watched. After a few minutes going through a fluff piece about a Lopunny being reunited with its owner, Fennekin News started to talk about Silph. Saffron went from lying down lazily to sitting up and fully focused at the TV.

The newscaster was Frank Williams. Saffron had dated him for a few months, but the relationship eventually fell apart. Saffron's aggressive personality and busy schedule didn't make for a healthy relationship.

Saffron insisted that she was over the relationship, but there was a reason why she insisted on watching Fennekin News over a station like PNN or SCDEV, the latter of which she even partially owned at one point.

Frank Williams said "The ever-controversial Silph Co. has lately been accused of shoddy product testing, to the extent that some Pokémon have been reported to have been getting sick! Frank Williams here, and I'll be reporting on this erupting scandal after the commercial break."

Saffron took notice. "Maron! Come here, quickly!"

Maron walked in, already prepared to be annoyed by her.

"What is it, Miss Saffron?"

"What's this about some scandal involving Pokémon getting sick? Why didn't I get notified about this?"

Maron said "Well, our testing is incredibly sloppy, so something like this was always going to be inevitable when you're talking about breaking sentient beings down into the molecular level. It's too easy to accidentally rewrite parts of their DNA in ways that can cause major illness or mutations."

Saffron was taken aback by this response. "Hey, I invented the damn thing, okay? Don't tell me how it works." Saffron finished her cigarette, and stubbed it out using the desk.

The ad-break finished, and Frank Williams was up reporting on the controversy. Maron watched the TV for about five seconds. "Goddammit, Saffron."

"...but some are saying that Pokéballs are negatively impacting their Pokémon's health. As an example of this, this man here claims that his Pokémon had grown severe physical deformities as a result of overusing the Pokéball."

Saffron angrily pointed her hand at the TV, in a way that was meant to indicate to Maron that she should also be dismissive. "Oh, can you believe this, Maron? Can you actually believe this? It's probably just some idiot whose Pokémon got a bellyache."

The station then cut over to a man who looked to be in about his fifties.

"You see, Maron? Just gonna be some old guy who doesn't get technology."

The text at the bottom said "Tanaka Ikeda, concerned Pokémon owner".

Ikeda spoke in an uneasy, raspy voice. "My little darling Pikachu's really been feeling quite sick lately. At first, I thought this was just a passing illness, but it's been a good few weeks now, and he's still very sick."

The camera then panned over to show the Pikachu. Normally, Pikachu tended to be a short, stout creature, but Ikeda's Pikachu was very much not. It had large, pulsating tumors coming out of its body, and the bottom half had become so warped that it walked using the tumors rather than its legs.

Maron was watching the TV with her mouth wide open, and her eyes widened as she saw the Pikachu. Saffron, who very rarely felt any actual guilt, found herself speechless.

Zangoose coughed. Saffron looked down at it and said "Bitch, you better not be getting a terminal illness."

Ikeda walked over to his Pikachu, and held out his hand. "Hey there, my old friend."

Pikachu let out a dry, breathless "Pika…" as blood ran out of its mouth. "Pika?"

Pikachu tried to shake his hand but ripped it off by accident. Ikeda screamed as blood gushed out of his arm.

Pikachu was unaware of what it was doing wrong. It beat Ikeda with his severed arm, seeing it as a friendly gesture. "Pika! Pika!"

Ikeda screamed "I can't believe this happened again!" as he got knocked unconscious.

The camera cut back to Frank Williams. "And, folks, what does that tell you?"

Saffron and Maron stared at each other, dead in the eyes. "Hey, Maron, you should go schedule an interview."

Maron, in a rushed tone of voice, said "Yeah, think I will." before quickly running out of the office.

Saffron wasn't used to being in a suit. Not only was it uncomfortable and itchy, but it made her feel like an uptight jackass. She was meant to be going onto Fennekin News in five minutes to give an interview, but was waiting for Maron to show up and help her to prepare answers. The interview was to be broadcast live at primetime hours, and was projected to be a big ratings hit.

"Goddammit, Maron. Way to be on time."

As soon as she said that, Maron ran up to her, panting. "Sorry I'm late. It's no excuse, but this was really hard to write, and it was really hard to find a working printer, and all the protesters outside our headquarters made getting out difficult, so I had to sneak out the back window using a rope, but then I slipped and landed on the ground and broke my spine, and then all the protesters ran around to the back and started beating me with their picket signs, so then I had to drag myself to the hospit-"

Saffron cut her off. "It's fine, trust me. I've been there."

Maron said "Oh. Well, fuck you for causing this and fuck you for making me try to cover your ass."

She handed Saffron an earpiece and a bottle of water. "Look, we obviously don't have time to learn these answers, and you're about as good at PR as Charles Manson, so I'll just tell you what to say.."

Saffron said "Hey, when you think about it, Manson was very good at what he did." She equipped the earpiece, took a drink of water, and headed out into the newsroom.

Her interviewer was Frank Williams. Saffron expected this, given that Frank was effectively cast as the guy who reported on Silph Co's screw-ups.

That didn't mean Frank was especially comfortable with it, however. Even though he insisted he was over the relationship, there was a reason why he kept trying to get himself taken off the Silph Co. beat.

He started the interview, trying to hide his nervousness. "So, Saffron White. You are the CEO of the Silph Corporation, correct?"

Saffron waited for Maron to say something. Maron, after realising why Saffron was pausing, said "Oh, for god's sake. Yes."

Saffron said "Yes."

Maron realised that they were probably doomed.

Frank continued. "Okay, then. So, I feel...Saffron, that we should jump right into the big question everybody has. Do you feel that there is a link between Pokémon becoming ill, and the use of Pokéballs?"

Saffron waited for Maron to give a response, and heard her shuffling through papers.

Maron spoke into the earpiece, and Saffron repeated. "Well, we certainly can't totally dismiss any link, but we don't feel that we can make any conclusions yet."

Frank looked at her with a stern look and said "So, effectively, you're saying you don't know."

Saffron said "Yes." before Maron got a chance to say anything.

Maron angrily shouted into Saffron's earpiece. "Saffron! The hell are you doing? You can't say if you're the CEO or not, but a question like that you're free to wing it?"

Saffron angrily shouted back. "Shut up, Maron! I'm trying my best!" Frank looked at her, not sure whether to be shocked or confused.

Maron was mortified. "Yup, we're screwed."

Saffron realised her mistake, and tried to course correct. "Maron, uh, represents the general public, who I feel is giving me an overly hard time."

Frank didn't buy it, nor did most viewers. "Isn't Maron the name of your lead assistant?"

Saffron started to panic. Maron was about to speak into her ear, but Saffron ended up getting the word in first. "How do you know about, hypothetically, a person called Maron working at our company?"

Maron took her earpiece off, crushed it, and walked away.

Frank said "Well, a prominent user on social media is called Maron and claims to be your lead assistant."

Saffron realised that she was in trouble. "Well, I don't know about this Maron. About this Maron, Maron.." She held her hand up to her ear, and tried to push in the earpiece. "Maron…"

Saffron was nervous, and tried to calm down. "Okay, okay. This isn't going great, just try to relax. Imagine everyone in their underwear. That'll work." she thought to herself.

Saffron imagined Frank in his underwear. This did not help make her less nervous. She stuck her tongue out and started panting and sweating, thinking about how attractive he was.

Frank, without thinking, said "Wow, you didn't do that when we were together."

This broke Saffron out of it. "...What?"

The camera crew, who were still broadcasting, all collectively said "...What?"

Maron, who was still watching via a TV in the main entrance of the Fennekin News headquarters, said "...What?"

Frank, not realising what he just said, let out a "...Huh?"

Saffron quickly looked for an excuse to stop the interview. She pulled out her phone, which had no new messages or missed calls. "Oh my god, I can't believe it, my mom died!"

Saffron ran off. Frank rushed through his outro. "Uh, well, that was Saffron White, CEO of Silph Co, and I am Frank Williams, signing off."

The next day, Maron went into Saffron's office.

Saffron was sitting down, with her head on her desk. Maron tried to cheer her up. "I didn't think it went that badly."

Saffron looked up at her, and glared.

"Okay, yes, you're right. But on the plus side, people were so distracted by the interview itself that they sorta forgot about what it was about."

Saffron spoke for the first time since coming into work that day. "Alright, look. You're the first person to know what I'm about to tell you. I talked to Frank after the interview was over."

Maron, who was well aware of Saffron's relationship troubles, did not take this as a good sign. "Goddammit, Saffron."

Saffron stood up, holding out her hand in an attempt to indicate that she should hold on. "Alright, hear me out. I know why that relationship failed, trust me. I'm not the easiest person to get along with, and I was busy doing a terrible job running this company."

"Wait, was?"

Saffron said "As of today, I no longer work at Silph Co."

Maron's jaw almost dropped to the floor. "...Wow. Saffron, you have to be joking, right? Because, if it is, I won't's actually pretty funny."

Saffron said "It's not a joke. I'm taking my money, selling my dumbass mansion, and moving in with Frank."

Maron had qualms with this plan. "Are you insane, or are you, like, high? You're gonna give up your position as the head of one of the most powerful companies on the planet, just so you can take a second crack at a shitty relationship? And, hell, do you even have the next CEO lined up?"

Saffron turned her attention to the office window. "Look, I know this seems insane to you, and frankly, that's because it really is. There is absolutely no logical reason for this. In fact, the only reason I'm doing it is because I can."

Maron said "That's your reason for everything, isn't it?"

Saffron smiled and continued. "I'm gonna miss your snark. Look, the thing is, I've never really had a lot in the way of options. My jackass mom kicked me out when I was ten, I had no money, and I never got the chance to actually get a Pokémon. The only reason I even invented the damn Pokéball in the first place was because I needed to catch a Pokémon."

She pointed at Zangoose, who was sleeping in the corner.

"And I needed money, so I decided to sell the technology. I never planned for my company to spiral out of control like this. I've always wanted a comfortable living, but spending all of my days managing a giant company, and having a mansion so huge that the only way I can afford the taxes on it is to dodge them is definitely not that. I'm making a terrible decision, but it's my terrible decision to make."

She turned back around, facing Maron.

"And besides, I do actually have another CEO lined up." Saffron gave a dramatic pause.

"...Miss Maron."

Maron's jaw almost unhinged itself. "I know I said this before...but is that a joke? Do you actually think I know how to run a company? Also, off topic, but it's Mrs."

Saffron said "Look, Mrs. Maron. You've spent your entire time at this company answering to an idiot and barely hiding your contempt. You're more qualified to run this company than I ever was."

Maron, having not yet fully registered what she was saying, said "Well, when you put it like that…"

Saffron said "Actually, as a matter of fact, a lot of my more seemingly ridiculous actions were really me preparing you fo-"

Maron interrupted. "No, they weren't."

"Okay, yeah, you're right." Saffron reached out her hand to Zangoose, who woke up and climbed up onto her back.

"I'll be heading now. You better be preparing for tomorrow, too, you got a interview with the prime minister of Kyoto."

It had finally sank in for Maron. "Wait, are you seriously just handing over the job to me now, that's-"

Saffron interrupted. "You'll be fine, trust me. Design documents are in the safe, code is 0807, don't go into the basement, like, ever, and you should probably prepare a response for when people figure out that the Pokéball catch rates are based entirely on software."

Saffron left the Silph Co. headquarters for the final time, feeling happy for the first time in about twenty years.