Never fuck with Team Rocket.
A lesson that so many had chosen not to learn until the very end. Often, the knowledge was imparted through blood, loss, and pain. Serious infractions would end only one of two ways: the end of a bullet or the end of a blade.
The business proprietor known only as Mr. Game had only begun to swallow this education down to his gullet. He never should have fucked with Team Rocket. He never should have been so damn greedy and tried to beat them at their own rigged machine.
In his defense, something that he really should have put in his will as an introduction, the chance to be rich just came falling from the heavens. It was like an guillotine disguising itself as a one-in-a-lifetime miracle and he was too stupid to foresee this coming.
Such was his life. He had gambled away fortunes on mere hunches that the slots would come up with his much-needed set of numbers. Counted cards with an ounce of prayer that he would be right on the money. Mr. Game simply never saw too far ahead, always living in the mindset of how his life would be different a year from now.
Team Rocket worked in how things would be different decades from now, if not centuries. Their minds were twelve years ahead, not twelve seconds.
So when Giovanni had taken his leave of the organization so he could slither away into some unknown crevice in some unknown place, Team Rocket was going into meltdown mode. They had to protect their assets and asses from financial ruin. Things were getting dumped into overseas accounts, shallow investments, and quite possibly, buried in a shoebox in someone’s backyard.
The pride and joy of Team Rocket, the game corners, were transferred around to keep the League from shutting it down. They needed the casinos for the income so they could survive the long winter of their discontent and they had to access them again quickly when Giovanni came back. But the international police, along with Detective Looker, started hitting hard like a drunk stepfather with a belt.
The bright idea of selling them in a mock bankruptcy auction for cheap so the businesses could be secretly bought and put in an offshore trust was great in theory. Unfortunately, Mr. Game had heard of the secret auction through a rumor mill and set forth on purchasing them right from under Team Rocket’s nose.
Whoever came up with the idea, once the papers had been signed and the titles transferred, was most definitely shot, quartered, burned, and thrown in Sharpedo-infested waters.
Mr. Game had won the business opportunity, buying the two game corners for practically nothing. He had expected to live a cozy little life filled with caviar and champagne off tourism alone. Even had plans for a big, fuck-you Olympic-sized pool full of money that he would dive into every night.
Team Rocket did not like the change, nor being bent over and screwed by their own system. It had been an embarrassment, still so fresh after being defeated by a ten year old child prodigy and swept away from their radio tower takeover attempt. In a single phrase, they were pissed off that they had been pissed on. But their priorities were forced to change in order to survive.
Then, the unthinkable happened: Giovanni came back.
An absolute shitshow went down at the League. The man hadn’t shown his face in about seven years and now he just waltzes back like nothing happened. Team Rocket was thrilled at the return but everyone else was sore about it.
Especially Mr. Game who had started living large on the profits after paying off loans. Giovanni was now at the helm of his organization and had scores to settle. Massive ones. And he knew that he needed things to be back to the way they were, which was Team Rocket at the top and piss-poor sports squashed at the bottom.
It started innocently enough for business deals. A well-heeled lawyer appeared at the Goldenrod gaming corner and offered to buy the casinos back for double what Mr. Game paid.
The new owner laughed him out of his office. Double what he paid? He made that on drunks during lunch break. Double what he paid wasn’t even enough to cover the prime Feebas lunches that his Meowth named Lucky ate.
Negotiations started. By negotiations, it actually meant that Team Rocket started putting pressure and expected Mr. Game to crack like an egg so they could make an omelette. Considering the talent they had access to, those Rockets could cook up a gourmet meal out of all the eggs they cracked.
It wasn't too scary at first. Grunts showing up to bully and frighten away potential customers. Muggings, stabbings, and random kidnappings occurred near the entrances. Graffiti on the walls and bricks through windows.
To Mr. Game, the idea was quite exciting. Much more than his coin game.
Then it started escalating and Rocket went after him. His house had been broken into and left messages all over the walls. Harassing phone calls and voicemails left all hours of the day. Family members, even distant cousins he never met, getting pursued and harassed in broad daylight.
Now it wasn't so fun anymore. Mr. Game was terrified out of his wits but like a losing gambler, he was in too deep to quit now. Just keep gambling on hands that come up. Surely one would get him out of this hellhole.
He did everything he could think of. He changed the slots with Voltorb Flip to deter the idea he was making a lot of money. The Pokemon he offered were replaced with less desired alternatives. Free coins and not asking to gamble on games.
No dice. The pressure continued. Powerful people were getting involved. It was getting too out of control. The axe came closer and closer to his neck. Employees were starting to quit by the dozens as they were getting scared by the malevolent syndicate.
Mr. Game put everything he owned, including the game corners, into secretive trusts and accounts. He had to get the hell out of the region. Booked a ticket through a private airline flight and packed whatever he could fit into two suitcases.
Day he was leaving, an instant camera photograph was taped to his office door.
The image showed one of the prize corner girls tied up in rope, gagged and beaten, as she laid on a dirty mattress in some nightmare holding cell. Her nose had been broken in two places and her eyes were burned with some sort of acid to cause blindness.
DON'T LEAVE JUST YET. WE HAVE YOUR PASSPORT. Written in her handwriting.
Dread ran through his veins like ice. They chose that girl over the others because they knew he was fucking her. Mr. Game bailed on his escape plan and holed himself up in a dingy basement under the loading dock where the game corner prizes came in.
Every door was locked and every window sealed. Cameras everywhere. A smuggled shotgun by his side. He was going to take down anyone who came knocking, that was for damn sure.
Mr. Game was sucking down cigarettes like a hooker on military discount night. Stress had reached a high point. He should have just taken the cash and ran. Don’t fuck with Team Rocket. Don’t fuck with Team Rocket.
Lucky was clawing at the door. The cat yawned, unaware of the deep shit that his owner was in and yearning for a can of fresh Feebas. Each meow grew louder in pitch and started to get on Mr. Game’s nerves.
“Shut up, Lucky,” He muttered, checking the room once more for openings. Mr. Game knew he would have to sleep sometime but he tried to push past his exhaustion point the best he could. If there were no vents or ways to get in, he might get about thirty minutes of sleep.
Another yowl. Clawing at the door.
“Shut up, Lucky,” Once again, louder this time.
Each section of the room had been mapped to memory. Small, cramped, and sealed in tight. The ventilation window up high was barricaded with plywood. Concrete through the floor until the foundation was reached. A dim series of fluorescent lights above Mr. Game’s head.
One table at the far wall behind him with a brown package laying on top. Addressed to Mr. Game from some unknown supplier in Kalos. He hadn’t looked into it but it was sent in overnight shipping with a plethora of safeguards around it.
His cigarette case was now devoid of cigarettes. Mr. Game rubbed his head, trying to think of how he could get out of this without having to leave in a bodybag. He felt like a fucking chess pawn that had gotten mixed up and landed on a checkers board.
Lucky sniffed at the door, scratching it again. Screaming louder this time.
“Shut the fuck up, Lucky!”
A hiss. Much longer this time, almost quiet. Mr. Game felt a throbbing headache. Fucking cat. He should have left him behind. Maybe Team Rocket could have worked out some of their jollies on Lucky instead of him.
Sweat must have started to pool around his neck as he felt a little damp under his collar. Hot too. Keeping everything tight and sealed must have stopped air circulation.
Shit. Shit. Time to ante up and go all in. Mr. Game cocked his shotgun. Lucky started screeching his little head off as his need for attention hit peak. His master aimed the gun at the door, trying to steady his breathing.
“FOR FUCK’S SAKE, LUCKY, SHUT THE HELL UP!”
Air caught fire in a flash-bang attack. Every molecule in that room turned white-hot and streaked across the entire area from ceiling to floor. Mr. Game didn’t even see it happen; he only felt it happen.
His body was thrown backwards from the sheer force alone, cracking bones as his brain tried to register what just happened. Nerves became exposed, some that he never even knew he had. Blood instantly dried up from the intense heat.
Lucky finally shut the hell up. For good now.
Every inch of Mr. Game's skin felt on fire. Searing, blinding pain dug deep into his soul as dry, weak screams echoed off the walls. The door finally gave way inside, blowing in the cold night air as the only reprieve he could get from the fiery scars.
Footsteps. He tried to crawl towards the sound but the top layer of his epidermis started to stick to the concrete floor, tearing away from his body. The man was quite literally melting away into nothing.
Mr. Game could see Lucky's lifeless corpse get kicked aside like an empty can. His throat closed up as vomit began to choke him. Haze covered whatever sight he had left as blackness crept in like a thief.
The only two things he could make out in his vision was a set of large, black, bug-looking eyes staring at him and a red 'R' on the front.
"You look like complete shit."
The voice was muffled and deep, tinged with heavy breathing. It occurred to Mr. Game in his dying state that the bug eyes were part of a gas mask. Whoever this was, he had absolutely nailed the assassination with the precision of a goddamn brain surgeon.
"Yeah, don't bother answering," The voice continued, "I got a lot of shit to do and little time to do it in. You aren't going to live long enough to be a good conversation partner anyway. So do me a favor and just fucking die or something."
"Oh, all that. Yeah, Archer wanted to dangle you a little longer to squeeze some real estate stuff out but that whole schtick is his business, not mine," The figure flippantly answered, "I'm here for…"
Brown wrapping caught the eye of his attacker, making him snatch it off the table. Inspecting it, the Rocket seemed satisfied.
"Good. It came in," A tittering, "Work real nice. I can't stick around, but I'll let ‘em know about your... predicament. The game corners might look real good back in Giovanni's hands. Thank you for your cooperation, your indubitable service, and have a great fuckin’ day."
The figure made a mocking salute from his forehead, using his middle finger instead of his full hand. With that, Mr. Game saw and heard no more.