Chapter 1: Introductions
He would get up, walk to work, and whittle away at mountains of papers until the mountains turned into hills. Then he’d go back home, which was a company apartment, which was located right next to his job. Wash, rinse, repeat.
He remembers that it was a wednesday, the day Giovanni came in. Why he was there, no one was sure, but he looked as though he was seeking something. He had the power to make the nonsensical appear sensible, such as a conversation between an acclaimed gym leader and a lowly office worker. Granted, Archer didn’t think he was “lowly”, as Giovanni would phrase it. He was great at his job, but on the same token, he wasn’t particularly high in the corporate ladder. Staying would have been a horrid death sentence.
When he started off Team Rocket was a vision, a warehouse, and a couple hangers of nondescript black clothing. He had a contingency plan—if this venture didn’t pan out, he could just swim back to his old job. His boss received an email the thursday after Giovanni’s proposal, saying that he would be taking a month off due to the loss of his mother. He hadn’t spoken to his parents in years, but he had the PTO and company reputation to make the move believable.
Archer wasn’t his real name, either. He remembered it used to be something along the lines of “Tim” or “Tommy”. It was quite impersonal, so he didn’t mind when Giovanni re-christened him “Archer”. The whole thing was a shot in the dark, but if anyone was gonna make it work, it would be the lowly office worker.
Chapter 2: Perhaps
“We have to start out small if we’re gonna manage to do anything. Giovanni wants to eventually move out of this warehouse, so I propose we at least procure some sort of store-front to conceal our activities. Thoughts?” Archer pointed to the small whiteboard he was standing next to. It was comforting to use materials similar to those found at his old office department. Made the whole thing less tense.
“Yeah, but when are we gonna steal some pokemon?”
“We can’t do that until we get a place to set up shop, sweetie.”
Giovanni had plucked three different people from various parts of society, telling them all to meet at a warehouse until further instructions. It was like a psycholgical experiment, only he wasn’t there to observe them. He was off fufilling his gym duties, or at least that was what Archer assumed. Those instructions were delivered by a Murkrow, who held a tightly wrapped letter in its beak.
“Find us a meeting place that hides in plain sight.
This was all up to Archer, of course. Never mind that Giovanni could have called instead of sending a knockoff carrier pigeon. The other two people were a little…..eccentric.
First up there was Petrel, who was one dimensional, to say the least. He was a bit too goal-focused, which was a nice way of saying that he could only talk about ways to steal Pokemon. Archer liked his energy, though. Those human fireball types could easily be used to burn through the less desirable activities.
“We could always just start a pokemon rental service! And then we could keep all the pokemon for ourselves……..”
“Your missing the point. We’re doing this to not be conspicuous.”
“At least he’s thinking of stuff! Best to not discourage him, Archie.”
Then there was Ariana, who was from Johto. She had a bit of country twang to her, which was somewhat interesting. What was more interesting was how Giovanni specifically mentioned her “inheritance” when introducing her. Now, Archer didn’t look differently at those type of people, but he did envy them. She looked naive enough to not be aware that most folks had to work at least five out of seven days a week.
“I wasn’t discouraging him. And don’t call me Archie.” Arch er slumped into his moving chair, and then grabbed his laptop. “I’ll look online for places that would fit what we’re looking for.”
“Anything we can do?”
“Just don’t burn the warehouse down.”
Petrel gave a thumbs up and a toothy smile, before running off to go play with his Pokemon. Ariana waltzed off, before starting a small commotion. “Okay Jynx, your gonna tell me if that guy in Goldenrod City likes me!” Archer mostly tuned them out. If there was anything positive about them, it was the fact that they were positively harmless. The worst they could do is be a minor annoyance. Not to mention that it was no fun to work alone.
An hour or two passed, which was when they started to become antsy.
“Jynx we’re gonna try one more time! He loves me, he loves me NOT !?”
Archer could see them beginning to pace, which was around the time he remembered seeing a for sale sign in Celadon City. “I think I’ve got a hit.”
“Really!?” The other two said in union.
“Yeah. Let’s go check it out.”
The building was about the size of a standard Pokemon center, but online information listed the place as having an expansive basement and additional small cottage. Archer placed a call in advance, and was welcomed to the sound of a humble old man. “ This won’t be hard. ”
“So, why sell prime real estate?”
“I’m getting old and I’m moving off into the country.” The owner looked as if he was in his late 60s, and had a Growlithe by his side. The dog growled quietly while sniffing the ground.
“Are you going somewhere like, say, Viridian? I heard that where a lot of people are retiring these days.”
“Oh no, I’m from Johto! I only stayed here because of my wife. She was from around here.”
“ So we won’t have to worry about him coming around. ” “I mean, there are worse reasons to stay. I’m sure she was quite nice.”
Some awkward silence followed, only to be broken by the elder’s request.
“What are you guys going to use the space for?”
“We’re with a nonprofit that was recently founded, and we need a place to base operations. We work with hospitals to give Pokemon to underprivileged children who aren’t able to catch em themselves.”
“That seems fulfilling!”
Petrel stopped glancing into the front's windows, cutting in. “Yup! We move Pokemon around!”
“He could have worded it better, but yes that’s what we do.”
“Well then, I don’t see any problems with this! I’ll go draw up the papers.”
It was quite odd how this was all coming together. Not that it wasn’t plausible, but this didn’t feel very probable last week. Nothing ever ended this smoothly. There was always paperwork, and paperwork for the paperwork, and then stamps that had to be certified by department managers. Archer took it in for a moment. “ This is actually happening. ” He would finally be able to see the tangible results of his work. Perhaps that was why he was doing all this for a man he had just met. For recognition.
“Just initial here and here and the property is yours.”
“Ariana! Get over here. You see sir, she’s in charge of our financial affairs. I’m just a pretty face.” “ What I meant to say was, she’s a walking ATM machine, and I have an IQ that’s at least triple digits. ”
“I’m comin’.” The way she took the man’s pen and just signed on the dotted line said so much about her.
“Okay, I guess that settles it! I wish you young lads the best. Don’t get into any trouble, okay?”
“Oh don’t worry! We won’t.”
Chapter 3: Official
Many residents had come by the construction site, concerned about what was taking place. It was a natural reaction, sure, but it wasn’t one that Petrel found particularly welcome.
“Didn’t an elderly man own this place? It used to be such a nice house. What exactly are you doing to it?”
“We’re turning it into a casino lady. Got a problem?” He said it with a smile, as he said nearly everything else. His little goatee was taunting her.
“No! Not at all…….” Of course she went off to spread the news around. Everyone had questions, but no one asked them. And so the residents of Celadon City remained in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction with the Game Corner. It’s origin became a widely kept secret before the grunts even put the sign up.
Oh, and there was the fact they had grunts now. As Archer put in the team newsletter, “We are now officially an organization! 400 members strong. Remember, there is strength in numbers.” Giovanni wanted him to stress unity, yadda yadda. They had hit the big time, and that was all that mattered.
“What is the status of the Celadon Game Corner?”
“Petrel says construction is almost finished. I even sent Proton to help him sort out the finishing touches.”
And there was a new executive. Giovanni didn’t even need to give him a name. He was so excited he did it himself.
“I’m so happy to finally meet you all! I’m like, your number one fans! I even dyed my hair to look like you guys!” How a tiny underground organization could amass such fervor, Archer wasn’t sure. He’d never seen someone rise up the ranks from sheer force of will. Not in his old line of work. In a way, Proton was the only executive of the four who had earned their spot.
“What has changed?”
“Depends. Do you want to discuss the team or the weather?”
Even with all the hustle and bustle, Giovanni had settled on having breakfast with Archer on Mondays and Fridays. It was the most anyone had managed to see him, and so sprung Archer’s reputation. He would forever be seen as Giovanni’s right-hand man, which wasn’t entirely untrue. On many days the two would even stray from TR-related conversation, letting themselves fall into talking about things as innocuous as the Pidgeys roosting outside. Archer had enough trouble figuring out where the professional and private line between them ended and began. More on that later.
Ariana had even begun to develop a knack for winning people over. It must have been a combination of good-looks and that patented Jhoto hospitality. She would work the powerful connections that Giovanni roped in, mostly with expensive dinners and fine wines. A distinctly important character came into the picture around this time, and she was the first to meet him.
“So what’s your name? At least tell me that! Giovanni is already making me keep the rest of this hush hush……..”
“Oh I do hope this is a success! I’m not sure what it is, really. You ought to feel quite special, old man. Even I’m not allowed to know!”
He brushed that age comment off with a scratch of his mustache. “Trust me, your better off not knowing. It can’t hurt you if it does not know you exist.”
Why Giovanni had to be so dramatic about things Archer wasn’t sure. Of course he had to call at two in the morning on a weekday, when no one would ever be fucking awake. “I’m going to a dinner tomorrow night and I need a plus one. Now I know Ariana will be upset-”
“ Tomorrow night as in today, or actually tomorrow?”
“Today, then. I assumed you weren’t asleep yet.”
Archer rubbed his eyes until he couldn’t anymore. “Where are you, even?”
“I’m in Johto, but I’ll be back in Kanto for the dinner.”
His voice came out dry and scratchy, which was likely making him come off even more annoyed. “So you know there’s a time difference and you somehow still believed I was awake?”
“Send me the address and I’ll make it there in time.” He slammed the phone back into the wall, on his “boss” no less. “Ughhhhhhhhhhhh.”
The dinner hall was simply sparkling, bedazzled head to toe in all sorts of refracting gems. He’d heard about Saffron City’s glamour but never had the time to check it out. It was better than the lie the billboards all over Kanto were selling.
An employee even stepped in to take his coat before he made it into the even more glamorous main hall, which came after the dinner hall. This place was like those tiny dolls that had tinier dolls in them.
“Your early, ain’t ya?”
“I mean there ain’t nobody else around, is there?”
Archer looked around. The only people were himself, and a buff semi-tan spiky blond. “I guess not.”
“Your not a gym leader so imma’ assume your somebody’s date.”
“I don't know if I would say I’m a date. I’m more of an accessory than anything.” He punctuated his honesty with the tussling of his hair. If he had something to do with his hands, he’d be less likely to come off as anxious, and by extension uninterested.
“Wait, don’t tell me. Your with Giovanni?” The blond had a marsh-green suit on, which was supported by brown boots. He almost looked like a drill sergeant of sorts.
“Good answer! Totally correct. Literally one hundred percent right. I don’t know why I’m emphasizing your response so much…...” It wasn’t so much that the stranger with a good eye was nerve-racking, it was how the situation almost felt computer-generated to elicit anxiety. Somehow Archer arrived early to an event he didn’t want to attend. Somehow Giovanni wasn’t punctual the one time he requested the same of his somewhat trusted confidant and employee. Archer knew that wherever he was, whatever he was doing, he was deriving some sort of sick pleasure from the situation he dragged him into. Anyways, he was still going to try to play it cool.
“Did you dye your hair for him, or was it always that way?” His pupils were soft, but sharp. Lasered focused, yet non-threatening.
“You’ve been asking a lot of questions mystery man, and I don’t even know your name. How about you tell me that?”
“You don’t know who I am?”
“Not unless my job requires me to, which it doesn’t.”
“ Who do ya think I am?”
“You're not someone’s date, I’m assuming. Following that logic, you know way too much about Giovanni, so I think it’d be safe to say you’ve seen him multiple times. At this dinner, perhaps? You also give off a very specific look, the sort of look a type-based gym leader would have to facilitate. Given all that, it’s safe to say your a gym leader.”
“Ding ding ding ding! Correcte-mundo. I’m---”
“Ravenous.” Now there were three men in a mostly empty ballroom. Giovanni’s suit gave off a distinctly mafia vibe. Archer thought about the potential analogy to Team Rocket before snapping himself into a welcome response.
“Your finally here!” “ It’s about fucking time……... ”
“They moved the dinner the eighth floor. I assume we’re all going?”
“That would make sense, wouldn’t it, Vanni’?”
A fancy dinner with talented trainers of all stripes is more surreal than it looks on paper. Archer might not of known all of their names, but they all had distinctly curated images that made it easy to understand their backgrounds. There were boys with ripped sleeves and girls who wore extravagant dresses. One redhead looked a little too young to be there. On the whole, everyone looked like they were in their late twenties, early thirties.
“Are you upset with me?”
“No, not really.” Archer was still miffed at the whole empty ballroom thing, and decided to drown out the noise with champagne. He had ditched the social niceties awhile ago.
“Well your not looking at me directly, and your not interacting with the other guests. If you have something to sa--”
“Why do we have to do this?”
“Do what ?” There he was again. Pretending to be clueless.
“This whole cat and mouse thing. It’s childish and it’s bad for business.”
“You didn’t have to come if you were gonna act like this.”
“ I don’t know why he acts like everything is black or white. ” “I’m just gonna walk away before I say something we’ll both regret.”
He should have tried the balcony before the champagne, because it really did cancel out all the chatter. All he could hear were the faint sound of the car driving far down below.
“I love your hair.”
A woman with bright red hair called out to him.
“What, this? I just looked in the mirror one day and thought “this is boring”. One trip to the drugstore, and now we’re here.”
“You know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Giovanni happy. I’ve caught him smiling a couple times, even though I rarely see him.”
“He was a tough egg to crack, but I think I’ve figured him out. He just loves control! Can’t get enough of it.” They moved closer before continuing their conversation by staring at the 11 PM traffic.
“Most men do.”
“I don’t mind because I’ve got my own stuff going on. At least I don’t think I mind. Hey, aren’t you Lorelei? Like, Elite Four Lorelei?”
“Yup.” She had that whole cool girl image on lock.
Finally, someone he recognized. “Your a legend! In my opinion, you should be the one running the Indigo Plateau.” The Elite Four were renowned in a way that gym leaders simply were not. Everyday people knew them. They had brand deals and sponsorships, the type that name-brands were built on. Lorlei was a trainer first, but she represented a lot more in Kanto’s grander culture. The same went for Lance, Bruno and Agatha (or “Hagatha”, as Archer had named her).
“I would, but I think you and I and the rest of the world know Lance’s little dramatic heart wouldn’t be able to take it.”
The boy with the teal hair let out a genuine chuckle.
“And what’s your name?”
“Well Archie, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Your certainly Giovanni’s better half.”
That one made “Archie” do a double take. “You think we’re together?”
“Well I just assumed.”
He’d dealt with the right-hand man assumption a dozen times before, but the idea that they were a couple ? That was odd. He could sort of imagine it. It wouldn’t be ideal, but it was possible, he guessed. “I work for him actually.”
“And either way he’s extremely hot & cold.”
“I can understand that. I married outside of my profession. He’s a marine biologist. We make it work.”
“That makes sense, given your type specialty.” “ I’m 99% sure it’s ice, but she might dabble with water pokemon. ”
“I kind of crave that domestic life sometimes, you know? I could never stop working but it’s still nice to have someone waiting at home whose schedule is much more straightforward than mine.”
“Now I need somebody like that.”
She took a sip from her glass, before pressing her glasses closer to her face. “Don’t we all?”
“Everyone says things are so slow now but for me, like, things never slowed down. It was just all work, work, work.”
“It certainly feels as though we’re waiting on something.”
His interest was piqued. “How do you mean?”
“Let me let you in on a little secret. We haven’t had somebody challenging in quite awhile.”
“ Really ?”
“These new slew of trainers just ain’t cutting it. Not for me at least. Most of the little twerps can’t even whittle me down to a single mon’! It’s quite sad, honestly.”
“Maybe it’s just not the right time.”
“Perhaps.” Lorelei turned her focus to the moon, which fully shown itself as their conversation progressed. The Clefairys and Clefables were probably doing some dance somewhere. “Things do change. Maybe this is just a phase. It only matters when your in it, right?”
“In it? I don’t follow.”
“The peaks that come before & after the valleys. Take this for example. We had a tanker fiasco in the Sevii Islands a couple years ago. That was a real busy time for me. We didn’t know who was trying to steal the boat, and it attracted serious national attention. People could have seriously gotten hurt! The decisions I took during that time really mattered. But now?” She paused. “I’m deep in the valley.”
Archer just stared. He wasn’t sure how to respond, so he didn’t.
“Excuse my deep thinking. I might have drank too much.”
“No it’s fine! I’m a bit lost in thought myself.”
“I’m going to go inside. It’s getting a little chilly, even for me.”
“And don’t let Giovanni get to you. I know he has that effect on people.”
“I won’t. And thank you.”
Lorelei stopped one more time before opening the door to go inside. “I think we’ll be seeing each other again real soon. Good night!”
He stood out there for a couple minutes before going back inside.
The party had slowed down considerably. “Hagtha” had turned in for the night, and most of the group was either at the bar or chatting in small circles. Archer saw no sign of Giovanni.
He checked all over before peeking into the hotel’s hallway.
Giovanni leaned into the wall-stuck phone. “Thank you. And remember, all progress gets filtered through me.”
“ Well. This is interesting.”
His boss hung up the phone, which was Archer’s sign to get back to the party. There were some things people aren’t supposed to hear, and he supposed that short conversation was one of those things.
“ So let’s see. We’ve been psychologically toyed with, made a new powerful friend, and learned that our boss is a secretive liar. What else could happen? ”
“Hey smarty! You seem a lil’ lonesome.” The mystery man from earlier was back, only more wobbly. He was suit was ruffled and his hair had turned frizzy.
“ I’ll bite. If only because I feel bad for him .” “ You seem a little buzzed.”
“Yeahhhhhh. It happens sometimes.”
“Are you gonna get home okay?”
“Yeahhhhhh. Oh shit, wait. HU—-“ And he vomited into the decorative plant.
“Jesus Christ. Grab my shoulder.” “ Giovanni doesn’t need me anyways. ” He took a pokeball out of his pocket. “Golbat. Do me a favor and fan this man before he throws up again.” The bat Pokemon looked confused, but quickly did as told. “Where do you live?”
“Well I got a room on the fourth floor for this dinner. I think. My keys are in my pocket somewhere, lemme just rustle around.”
“Just get in the damn elevator.” “ I guess gym leaders aren’t totally clean. I mean it makes more sense than less.”
The man lugged himself into the gold-tinted machine. “ You know you kinda look like Persian? A pretty fluffy one. Fluffy fluffy fluffy……” He began trailing off into some trite musical tune.
“You can tell me all about that once we get to your room.”
I went on a bit of a detour with this one. Hope ya'll like it :P