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Transversal, crossing over the backs of legends

Chapter Text

 

Editing FINISHED as of 4/4/2021

Chapter 1,

Giovanni Intro: Something like Genisis

 

 

Perhaps it was his position, up high, nestled in the steel belly of a state-of-the-art helicopter, that lead to Giovanni Sakaki’s state of detachment as he looked down on the world from a window by his seat. His vehicle of the hour was military-grade, illegally garnered, and altered to the point the military might balk on taking it down. Regardless of what Kanto’s armed forces might or might not do it was sturdy enough, and well-armed enough, that the various avian Legends of Kanto and Johto were unlikely to wrangle with the artificial flyer.

 

And considering his life, and how Legends were hell-bent on ending it, the varied beasts out for his blood must be taken into consideration in all things… Thus, what his critics might consider a bit of a dying man’s vainglory in the form of grandiose transport was a necessity to keep on breathing.

 

He’d no intention of being shot out of the sky by a prickly Moltres or rampaging Ho-oh, again.

 

There was a slew of personal touches to the helicopter that left no illusions as to who owned it. The colors of the stolen chopper had been replaced by the soothing, black and reds. He’d built his life about such hues, marking all his organizations with those colors, so the flyer was no different. Beyond the ocular there were more pragmatic luxuries, the Barrier and Lightscreen augmented steel walls to keep the vibrations of the rotating blades to a muted hum to prevent a sensitive passenger from acquiring headaches. The windows were bulletproof and updated to acknowledge the more recently acquired irritants in his life’s perchance for the ‘chu evolutionary line, thus everything was lightning-proofed as well.

 

And among the small indulgences, there were the large. An on-hand weapon system that did not require a piolets interference to set and fire.

 

From his perch, courtesy of technology and luxuries finest, the wilds below seemed obscenely rustic and hellishly familiar.

 

Ilex forest was like many places in the Johto and Kanto, so much so the uneducated would cobble it together with the varied, verdant, forests that made a patchwork of wilds through both regions and decide it inconsequential.

 

It seemed a special kind of insanity that a clearing in this woodland was the holiest spot in Johto. When there were hundreds just like it.

 

Today’s weather in Ilex, courtesy of sensors planted by the Slowpoke Well, noted the forest to be “damp” and “temperate”, and that was a grotesque understatement per the profanity-laden report his Sottocappo, Executive Proton, had penned. The highlights of the report, courtesy of the tablet on his lap, consisted of “Wet and humid enough down here to drown a pack of hounddour, damn the morning rains”, and the persons of interest noted in the area were inconsequential. “Local gym leader is an oblivious idiot, set a rookie Team to “challenge” his gym as a distraction. The only person of possible conflict is an old man named Kurt, the Team arranged an accident for the man’s granddaughter, he's tied up at Golden Rod’s hospital for the time being.” Executive Proton’s griping and information had been taken along with a bland morning repast, adding a bit of bitterness to the food.

 

A flick of his fingers and a finger scan and the device was doing a purge of all tracking software, purging traces, information, then switching modes so that public avenues and their various legal bits and bobs would find nothing untoward. With a click and hum to signify his efforts were complete, he opened up the various periodicals of Johto. The newspaper that covered Azalea at least confirmed Kurt temporarily closing services due to an accident, some faulty ladder at the ‘Well, a nasty fall for the man's granddaughter, the safety measure's failure dovetailed into an investigation that'd tie the local police up for a while at least.

 

Satisfied Giovanni killed all outbound programs, another purge of what commercial trackers he might have acquired, and then he typed in a thirty digit code, the screen darkened, and then awoke after a seeming sleep mode to a familiar, dull, grey. The touchscreen was crawling with video and picture icons, various bits of footage about the destination below. He’d seen them all before, but a refresher wouldn’t hurt.

 

As he leaned into the leather comfort of the passenger’s chair he perused the screenshots taken by his advance team. Photos blended into videos, tests, migratory patterns of local mon, the lot blurred under his blurring vision as boredom and exhaustion both pulled at him.

 

For being The Most Holy Place of Johto the place was decidedly …. uninspired. It was as if some force was holding a list and had ticked off a series of boxes, pinging off the requisite things of grass, moss, trees, applied a multiplier, and decided “well enough” before moving on to other pastures. Two oddities caught his attention. A grave, and a shrine, both man-made set beside a perfectly rounded pool.

 

Pulling his gaze from that grave –

 

Ignoring the tightness in his lungs at the sight, his chest that burned, those sensations were omnipresent and thus it only took a bit of delusion to dismiss them when he needed to concentrate, his dismissal of choice was “it wasn’t important,” and his delusion of “he’d deal with it later” were old standbys.

 

-he considered the shrine. Wooden, weather-worn, yet untouched by the moss that grew rampant around it, it was a contradiction and curiosity.

 

As was the clearing itself. The place was perfectly symmetrical despite being in the center of a forest whose border was the definition of convoluted. His teams had noticed it as a whim and some rather asinine subcommand had wanted to pursue curiosity and done so. And they had found another oddity. Electronic trackers and measurers had failed. a roll of marked rope from a hardware store had confirmed one assumption correct, and born a slew of other experiments with bizarre results. Smartphones, and most techs, failed within the clearing’s bounds. Walkie-talkies worked for some odd reason until one crossed the final tree line. Then everything failed. From watches to lighters, nothing man-made functioned save poketech.

 

A low whistle from his piolet caught the headset just right and caused the Boss of Team Rocket’s earpiece to ping to life and carry the sound breaking the near-perfect silence of his cabin. Noticing his attention the piolet tipped his head, indicating the window nearest to his Boss. Giovanni straightened and looking out and down. Celebi's clearing seemed a target, a pale blue and green Tauros eye, and a gesture for them to go down for a better look was met with a headshake.

 

Static, a crackle from the earpiece and the piolet’s voice carried.

 

“Can’t do Sir, any lower and our tech will fry.”

 

Nodding, the Rocket Boss eased into his chair once more.

 

Under his hands, Giovanni twiddled, then reactivated, the sleeping tech. The latest tests, of ‘mon reaction to the area about the clearing were of some interest. Wild ‘mon being driven to the clearing’s edges only to be wrenched away or pinned by an invisible untraceable force. One test subject’s death played under his hands as he adjusted settings and scope to better see. Tamed zubat herded a wild furret about. It raced from the flying jaws until it hit head-on with… something. Twisting about in a frenzied panic, fighting against what seemed an invisible wall, the beast gave up breaking forward, near fluid as it flipped itself about and bolted from the shadows of approaching wings.

 

The furret ran alongside the barrier so close its fur was pressed down on one side, though above it, tamed zubat swung over and about the “wall” in erratic patterns.

 

One dive, a ‘bat swinging through the barrier to bite into the racing ‘mon’s jugular, the spray of blood was spectacular. The mynx fell with a gurgle and was promptly swarmed from all sides, skin and fur flying.

 

A click and the video paused, dead beast propped up on nothing, being chewed to bits from all sides. He watched what the emotional would consider an unsettling sight with perfect apathy, letting his dark eyes half close, he weighed information against exhaustion and fought the urge to doze.

 

He dared not dream.

 

Death felt so close, only one nap away. Without the varied devices and medication, he’d had to leave at his Viridian hideout when a rival faction had stormed the place… Giovanni might very well die in his sleep. Advanced, complex, sleep apnea was the newest symptom amongst the many varied ones he wrestled with daily.

 

Courtesy of an irate Legend.

 

With the threat of such an immediate death present and the faction of Rocket lead by an ex-Sottocapo that was hell-bent on killing him, he had sped up certain plans. The “later” of his health, was pushed to the state of “now”, hence this flight. The tests on the site which had started out as curiosities when he’d had leisure and nothing else had sharpened in scope and brutality per necessity. Hence the killing, hunting, and the last step that the populous of Azalea were blissfully unaware of per Sottocapo Proton’s last reports.

 

The encirclement of Azalea town, the commandeering of its various technologies, the steady feed of false information to lull the civilians into a state of torpor. The damning falsities of “all is well” even as his syndicate ran wild through Johto. Inspiring terror and using terrorism and violence to rip down the primitive shrines and lesser holy sites all the better to have the proper coin to pay for this… transaction in the making.

 

The strict perimeter about Azalea and its forest would dissipate, without any soul from the town knowing of it. The dead who’d wandered in would be buried, their bodies broke down and scattered under the trees for compost, the gentle clamps of obliviousness eased about the town, and the people who lived beside the holiest site of a region would wake one day, perhaps tomorrow, mildly bewildered to find the world was not as untroubled as they’d been lead to believe.

 

A click against his ear and Giovanni stiffened, waited, and not one to make a man linger, much less this Boss, the piolet spoke. Destination to be met in ten minutes, prepare for descent in eight.

 

Nodding his understanding Giovanni let his fingers rest on the tablet in his lap just so, and the fingerprint reading software hummed to life and locked the whole under his hands until it was a black square of cooling plastic. Sliding the device in its carrying case he pulled a briefcase from under his seat beside him and clicked it open. It was a simplicity to set the device in place, exchange modern wonder for the longish rectangular box that’d held relics that’d been a wonder in their time.

 

Something rattled as he set the box in place, perhaps the finger bones, regardless the goods felt part and parcel to an inferior exchange, but as he slid the box into his trench coat pocket Giovanni Sakaki conceded it was the coin of the moment.

 

And if this “offering” wasn’t good enough. .. Well the experiments had shown poketech worked in the clearing, and he had no shortage of ultra-balls on his holster, and there were no weaknesses in his team.

 

If he could not coax he’d coerce. And if he failed, so be it.

 

He’d take this charlatan of a holy healer to the grave with him and call it his last service to humanity.

 

XXX

 

It’d taken two hours to finish the hike. The route was taken in easy stages, and stubbornness got him where he needed to go.

 

He’d started the walk on his own power, but once he broke the tree line he conceded weakness, summoning and continuing the trek leaning on the forearm of his Nidoking. Enhanced by moonstone transplant surgeries, specific training, and an optimal diet, the beast had more than surpassed the expected four feet height, sporting six and a fraction not counting his horn. The beast glared about, no longer dismissing any with a red R on their chest, clearly recalling Sird’s betrayal and attack at their Viridian hideout. Tail tucked close, bulk an obvious deterrent to any who’d shoot Giovanni in the back, the beast rumbled a wordless death threat. The human branch of the Rocket Boss’ guard was professional enough not to flinch back at the overt hostility. And for that, he rewarded them, a snap of his calloused fingers caused 'King to make his rumbles quieter.

 

The last descent was made in near-perfect silence and a waved hand as he neared the final tree line caused the clutch of men and women at his back to go still.

 

He’d turned to watch them, scrolling weary eyes over the faces of those who’d sworn blood oaths, their children to his service, their lives, and their ‘mon as his to use until they broke if he willed it.

 

They pulled back, miming respect or sincerely respectful, he wasn’t sure, but for now, they followed orders.

 

“Secure the perimeter.”

 

And if his voice was a bloody ruin, none commented on it, they simply left to do as they were told. They’d take watch, and their places while the Boss did what needed doing.

 

And if he failed they’d turn weapon and ‘mon among each other, turn sacred woods to killing ground all to establish a new order when the artificial grave in the clearing’s heart became one in truth.

 

Their apathy was a mercy. He had one minute, perhaps two, before the burning in his lungs scaled to intolerable levels and they tried to shut down, his breathing picked up, alternated between a rasp and rattle. He fought to remain straight, and the effort failed him. Legs buckling, he was sandwiched between a moss-covered tree and tamed ‘mon, Nidoking’s tail sweeping about to obscure and shield him while he struggled to breathe.

 

The fit came and went. With a ragged gasp, Giovanni crawled to standing, fishing out the handkerchief from his breast pocket he dabbed at the moisture about his lips and jaw with practiced motions. If the wetness was blood its hue differed so little from the fabric it was impossible to tell one way or the other.

 

Wordlessly the Boss of Team Rocket tucked the wet fabric into its place. The black of his suit would obscure what needed to be hidden for vanities sake. A few moments came and went, and when breathing no longer burned and the world’s edges seemed less grey he dared one step, another, into sun-dappled clearing too perfect to be anything but artifice, crafted by a beast of nature’s immaculate hand.

 

Shaking off the stone hand at his elbow, mindful of its spines violet and seeping venom, he reached back without needing to see. One scratch on the poison type’s chin and a nudge got the beast to back off, and one toss later and he and the ‘mon were no longer alone. Blinking back the light of ended suspended animation, the oldest, and most loyal member of his personal menagerie set her paws upon wet earth, looking about without a mew, a testament of her training and grace because she was, normally, a vocal feline.

 

For Persian hiding was a simple matter of her nosing about and padding into a thick patch of grass behind the shrine, a quick lay down and squirm got the tall stalks of the long grass to hide her from anything above.

 

Nidoking did not have it so easy.

 

First, the violet beast sunk into the grass beside the cat, earning an irritated “merow” and a paw smack to his snout by the sound of things. An impatient snap of his trainer’s fingers made the beast stand, with a snort, and look for a less abysmal hiding spot. The beast’s spines had poked out like sharkpedo fins in the surf, and another patch and hunker down in even shorter grass got another finger snap and a barked “hurry up”. To the impatience of its master and simplicity denied, Nidoking got creative.

 

Sliding a claw along a thick patch of moss by a tree, the beast rolled back the wet mass and dug a long furrow, twisting so only one eye and his nostrils poked out. He reached back and up pulling the plant growth over itself as it hunkered into the hole like it were a blanket. The edges of its spikes that poked out of the loam were lost among the shadows of branches to a trained human eye, and that would have to do.

 

Contingency set in place, the Rocket limped past the tree line and into the clearing proper.

 

He avoided a dousing courtesy of his vanity. Despite the heat of the day he’d forgone sense for tradition and symbol to better cow his underlings. Though a stereotype all its own his black fedora had kept the water of falling dew off his back, and his trench coat had deflected the rest. Each step of his steel-tipped boots left little scars in the mix match of moss and grass about him as he picked a careful path towards the water, towards that shrine that was devoid of dew through near everything around it was all but drowning.

 

And to that amusing contradiction and to spite himself the Boss of Team Rocket, Giovanni Sakaki, walked to his probable death with a huff of amusement. The noise summoned a white tail to rise out of the foliage. Noticing, he snapped his fingers with a scowl, and the feline’s limb slipped below the grass line, making the clearing seem empty once more.

 

Alone, for all intents and purposes, the Rocket staggered the last few steps to the pool's rock-ringed base and wondered in that near-perfect quiet how the impious were meant to summon a god.

 

He’d a small collection of relics and markers, holy symbols and charms that were pillaged from the various towns and shrines around and about Illex Forrest rattled in a box in his pocket. As worthless as loose change, they were, in theory, steeped with mythology and the stuff of tales. In fact, the lot was the sickening relics of outdated spiritual practices. Preserved finger bones wrapped in half-rotted shrouds were keeping company with wooden scraps that were twined in wish papers and prayer beads. There were stinking things seeped in tree gunk and speckled with feathers that were touted to be from the wings of Legends. DNA testing and basic observation had proven that “Legend” false and common sense screamed that the rest was mummery as well.

 

Still, these things were the backbone of many local superstitions that’d been repeated until it’d ascended to something higher. And at their heart, considering tales and the like, there was one communal theme that bound them besides insanity.

 

Sacrifice.

 

The box and its assorted assortment were large enough to near fill his deepest coat pocket, and that’d been something of an irritant and boon. The plastic casting had necessitated he wears a holster for his gun and tolerate the thing being wound about his waist like a copper. Though Giovanni personally detested being so overt armed he’d be a fool not to be. The arrangement was such that there was just enough room for him to slide a digit over the boxes’ edge and seam without compromising the pocket, and he did so, weighing his options.

 

This was it, make or break. It was in mild shock and amusement he weighed options that’d seemed more fantasy than anything else before. And he circled around practicalities. Rituals were just bargains in archaic trappings.

 

So what could the dying offer something that was effectively immortal?

 

Allegiance was a limited thing if things stayed unchanged, but were his health issues to reverse the effort of upholding a deal with a Legend would likely stretch into intolerability. Wealth was a human-made construct. As for preservation of the Legend’s grounds and non-interference when the gears of industry ground up the remaining reserves of Kanto and Johto … Well, the offer was centered around a human construct and likely to be misunderstood as a threat in all likelihood.

 

Which left him… what to offer then?

 

He couldn’t make a deal unless he either had leverage or collateral.

 

Finger near pricking on a seam, Giovanni withdrew his hand and pulled out the box along with his digit. Flipping it open he stared at the individually wrapped, fussily tab, segregated by lines of raised plastic, labeled, offerings of ages past. They’d been made with no little sacrifice from their originators; if nothing else sanity had been tossed to the winds as their original owners had bound ritual to tawdry to make… these trinkets.

 

And who said the “sacrifice” had to be something of his own?

 

Cracking a Persian’s smile, all edges, and cruelty, Giovanni considered offering and clearing and the subtle tells he could scrounge from its frame and form. There was no place to set the offering before the shrine. The pool got in the way one way and the grave the other. The structure was too shallow to place anything within, and the effort of keeping wood from being affected by reality warned that such may not be wanted.

 

Which left one option, really, and he looked at the pool, dark eyes glinting with a morbid amusement.

 

A fit took him then. Steeling smugness as pain made him bend double, and stubbornness made him lock his legs least he toppling headfirst into the water. He clicked the box shut as fast as he could. But not before his bloody breathing had tainted the lot, receptacle, and relics both. Stubborn had kept him alive thus far, made him get up when others would have given up, but it only went so far this time. Crashing to his knees, mirroring the poise of prayerful repose all unintentional, he fought against his Legend damned death for another breath, another minute, another hour…. He wept as the pain hit reflex, making him curl to ward off blows that weren’t coming, and the poise of curling summoned vile memories, those memories set his heart to hammering in recalled fear. But he couldn’t run, or fight, or do anything save suffer. The whole came together to make him look a pathetic image of suffering. On the whole, he’d mimed a show of repentance by accident.

 

The scene was made doubly ironic for it was done at the foot of the shrine of a Legend, one he hadn’t wronged or earned a lethal curse from.

 

Yet.

 

Striving not to vomit, the Rocket shuddered and panted, eyes slammed shut least the light catch just so to trigger a migraine and vomiting spell all at once. His thoughts devolved from plots and angles to a panicked mantra, a chant that hammered in time with his pulse…

 

Not yet, not yet.

 

The fit passed, and when he dared crack open his eyes he found the world ominously dim and swimming. A bloody mass clasped to his chest, under his chin, he stared at it. Not quite understanding. When the mess sloshed, and his arms hurt, because something under the mess was biting and hard and…. And he could feel the box’s edges digging into his arms; he’d all but folded around it and…. And scraping an arm over the congealed mess atop revealed the box under the organic sludge… The stuff surly stained the front of his uniform, it wet his knees in its falling, and a familiar warmth trickling down his face warned he had vomited, efforts non-withstanding, and his vomit looked like something from the trash can of an abattoir.

 

To that grim reality, of death being so close, the Boss of Team Rocket decided to hang ritual motions, seeming prayers, and just give the offering before things got worse.

 

Because the only worse here was dead, and death wasn’t an option, he’d not allow it.

 

With a shove, he managed to sit up somewhat straight, and with the last of his strength he nudged the box, blood and all, over the thin line of stones that served as this temple’s bank and the lot slid into the deep pool. The offering was accepted without a ripple.

 

And it ended as it had started, by following the patterns of cliché.

 

To his offering of age-old trinkets and present agony he’d, all accidental, set a sun to rise from within the pool. The light started dim and brightened as it rose from under the water. It was a slow, fireless, illumination, that as it crested the water that’d housed it stained stone edges sepia. The view was like a sunrise in miniature saves the colors were all wrong. Molten silver and golds replaced the colors of the rocks due to this false sun, sepia had taken the place of edges and lines. He did not look about himself or at himself to see how he was changed, only relieved that this fake sun produced no heat and so he wouldn’t burn. Curiously his blood on the stone boiled away even as he stared at it, and a tingling rush about his face and hands was perhaps the sight of his death being scrubbed away as well. He didn’t have a mirror or a reflective surface to check. So he didn’t.

 

With a hiss, Giovanni struggled, from kneeling to standing, though his legs trembled at the effort.

 

And so it was when the sylvan god of Illex forest rose from illumination and water both, it found the soul who’d summoned it standing, and not groveling, as was a summoner’s norm.

 

Lips trembling, on hysterical laughter no less, Giovanni considered the sylvan creature before him. It had the look to being the kin to an onion of all the damned things. And that, and this clearing in its unnatural symmetry and additives to its clearing despite the being being a god of nature…. Well, the hypocrisy of it all nearly undid him.

 

Taking one deep breath, least he say what was upmost in his heart, that the little bastard in its perfect natural environs was such an utter hypocrite, Giovanni Sakaki let his gaze scroll over the wonder of a world long lost. Slender wings, leafy frame, twin antenna that was perked and curious –an assumption based off of the tip and angle his Beedril’s own antenna would go when the bug was feeling such things- it was a curious creature whose lower limbs looked almost like they were shoed due to their roundness. The leafy crest of its chest almost looked like the fold of a sprite costume they were angled just so to resemble a neckline...

 

And this… thing… was supposed to be the greatest healer of them all?

 

The Legend looked like a joke. Like a child playing dress-up, one with a perchance for leaves and glue. Fury quickened the Rocket’s heartbeat, gave him the strength to seem strong at least.

 

“Genesis 1:3.” A huff, he meant it to be a laugh and if death weren’t so close it might very well be such. “How fitting.”

 

To the Rocket Boss' words, the beast tipped its head, utterly baffled, no little bit lost, and Giovanni felt uninclined to shed any light on the matter.