The Kanto Journeys

Chapter 10

Giovanni strolled into the training center like he was king of the world. The mere sight of him brought everything to a standstill as those who had been working themselves to extremes just moments before stopped to line up at attention. Many of them failed to disguise their surprise at seeing their boss, normally dressed as professionally as humanly possible, wearing an orange and blue tank top and black gym shorts.

The Team Rocket head stopped in the middle of the ridiculously-sized room. He began to survey the line-up of grunts, taking his sweet time as he did so. He knew that standing perfectly straight and stiff after working out was a hard feat to accomplish for long, and loved seeing his inferiors' faces turn red with the effort.

Just when it looked like some of the grunts would burst, the boss raised his hand. "At ease." His voice boomed throughout the now-silent complex, strong and commanding. All at once, the grunts obeyed, their shoulders going slack and their figures drooping. A small smile carved itself on Giovanni's face. Months of yelling and grueling punishments for disobedience had paid off.

"The results of the Viridian City bombings are in. According to the statistics, exactly twenty people were killed and over four hundred injured. The local Pokemon Center was completely destroyed, along with an apartment complex. Several roads were severely damaged, and parts of the sewer system were ruptured. The city was evacuated shortly after the bombings. The evacuation notice has yet to be lifted. With the exception of the repair crews, the city is completely empty. As for the hospital shootings, we lost some of our men, but managed to take out an important figure- Flint Pewter."

Several cheers followed his words. Many of the grunts exchanged delighted glances, although Giovanni noticed some looked uncertain. He shrugged it off, however. They just needed some time to adjust to the way things worked, that was all. Commanding silence with a single wave of his hand, he spoke again.

"The Viridian City bombings and the Viridian City hospital shootings can officially be labeled as a success. With the city still under an evacuation order, it is free for our taking. All that is left to be done now is to eliminate the repair crews, and ensure that it will be a long while before anyone is allowed to return to the city."

Giovanni paused to let his words sink in. His gaze fell upon one of his Executives, Tobias Huckshire. The man's eyes glittered with a mixture of excitement and importance. When he noticed that he was being watched, he gave Giovanni a respectful salute. His superior responded with a salute of his own before returning to his announcement.

"Orders have been sent to the Executives regarding the groups I have made for this mission. Not every one of you has been put into a group. Those of you who haven't are expected to stay behind at headquarters and continue your training until further notice. Those of you who have been put into groups will be armed and tasked with completely clearing out all of Viridian City. Anyone who doesn't submit to our will is to be shot immediately. No questions asked. As soon as you have cleared the city, you are to detonate one final bomb, planted in a strategic location selected by the Executives. Once this bomb goes off, it will serve to put the city in an even worse condition and push back the date on which residents will be allowed to return.

"Once takeover has been completed, any non-Team Rocket member that enters the city is to be shot on sight. All members of Team Rocket are to dress in plain clothes when above ground to keep our uprising a secret. Anyone who wishes to know the reason for keeping our uprising a secret can keep their mouths shut, since they aren't in charge. Are my orders clear?"

A single, unanimous "Yes, sir!" rose up from the line of grunts. Smiling, Giovanni dismissed them from the center.

As he waited for his people to leave, a single man approached him. Although he approached from behind, Giovanni noticed him.

"Is there something I can help with, Executive?"

Tobias cleared his throat. "Yes, sir, there is. I had a question."

"Go ahead."

"Thank you, sir. When will we be attacking the city?"

"The exact date is in your orders, although I can tell you that it is no sooner than the next two weeks."

"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir."

"Is there anything else?"

"No, sir."

"Dismissed, then."

Tobias looked a bit surprised at the dismissal, but left anyways with a salute. Giovanni watched him go. Although the Executive was respectful beyond belief to him, the Team Rocket leader knew of his true personality. He'd seen it when the man had both been training new grunts and working in the field. He was arrogant and narrow-minded. Of course, that made him the perfect man for Giovanni. He could set him up in the most obvious trap and he'd never know. That made him one of the most valuable people the man had ever met. He would get what was coming to him in time. He had sworn to do whatever it took to help Team Rocket succeed, after all.

Once the training center was empty, Giovanni got to work. He had ordered the Department of Security & Surveillance to turn off all of the cameras and microphones in the center, for what he was going to do required the ultimate secrecy. Not even the highest Executives in all of Team Rocket knew of what was likely his biggest secret. And he would like to keep it that way.

Giovanni raised an open palm and focused. He trained his eyesight on one of the weight-lifting machines. He waited until his field of view had shrunk down to just that object before he acted. Within mere milliseconds the machine was gone, reduced to ash that was quickly blown away with a sweep of the man's hand. A smile broader than any of his inferiors ever would have the privilege of seeing graced his face then. His Aura powers were stronger than ever. It was only a matter of time before they would be ready for their public debut.

Holding his hand out toward a punching bag on the opposite side of the room, he focused again. A ball of glowing blue light appeared in his hand, which he then proceeded to fire at the distant target. The sphere made contact, creating an explosion that was quickly silenced with a single silent command. As the smoke faded, Giovanni saw that this target had also been reduced to nothing but ash.

Next, he pulled out a small pen knife that was tucked away in his shorts. Gripping it tightly in one hand, he dug the blade into his other hand. He grimaced as the pain came, but refused to utter a sound. He dug the knife through his flesh until a bloody, inch-long cut was visible.

Slipping the knife back into its original place, Giovanni held his bad hand directly in front of his eyes. This power was, at the moment, the hardest for him to use. It took a large amount of focus to get it to work, and even then sometimes it refused to cooperate. He pretended that he was on his bed at night, about to meditate before going to sleep. He completely emptied his mind of all thoughts but the single one he wanted. He grabbed onto that thought like it was a physical object, reeling it into focus. He pinpointed the cut with his eyes, the bloody wound overtaking his vision like a red cloud.

Slowly, the skin began to come back together. Giovanni's entire body started to shake with the effort of using his powers. He forced himself to keep his focus on the cut, knowing that if he lost it for even a nanosecond, everything would come crashing down. He urged himself on silently.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity of struggle, the last centimeter of the cut sealed itself. Giovanni fell to his knees, breathing heavily from the effort. His mind went numb as all of the thoughts he had just vanquished came rushing back. He held up his once-injured hand. The cut was completely gone. The only evidence that he had ever been hurt was the sticky blood that covered his pale skin. Grabbing his wrist with his other hand, Giovanni shook it. He started laughing out of both joy and pride. Despite the effort it took, he did it! He really did it!

He rolled onto his back and held his healed hand against the light. Years ago, when he was a new boss and Team Rocket was in shambles, he had never even dreamed of something like this being possible. He thought back to when a helicopter accident had left him with a concussion and a compound fracture in his leg. Oh, how he would have loved to have had his powers then!

Allowing himself only a moment more of rest, he resumed his training. As he continued firing at this and destroying that, he thought about his future plans. Once Viridian City had been captured, he could move his base of operations there. According to his scouts, the mini-headquarters he had built beneath the Viridian City Gym were still there, albeit in ruins. With a little time and TLC, that space could be turned into a training center for Giovanni's Aura powers. No longer would he be forced to interrupt the valuable training time of his grunts. His plans would be sped into motion, and everything would be great.

As for how he was going to use his Aura powers, he'd spent hours planning that out. His powers would make their debut in a spectacular way. Giovanni would stroll right up to the maximum security gated community that President Kimbel resided in. When the guards and big gates tried to stop him, he'd sweep them all aside with a wave of his hand. Anything that got in his way after that would be shot at and reduced to ash, to join with the wind the next time it blew through. Once he reached President Kimbel's house, he'd destroy that, with no regard as to who might be inside. Finally, he'd come to the Pokemon League headquarters. After strolling his way in, he'd march right into President Kimbel's office and make his demands.

It had taken Giovanni a while to figure out exactly what he wanted to demand from President Kimbel, but he was sure he had it figured out now. First of all, he'd demand full pardon from the law for both himself and his Executives. He'd then demand one million dollars from the treasury, as well as the full dedication of Viridian City to Team Rocket. Finally, he'd demand that President Kimbel officially pass the presidency to him. If the President didn't comply, Giovanni would slowly begin destroying the headquarters - and whoever was inside - until the man complied.

Giovanni chuckled as he disintegrated yet another punching bag. Yes, it would be great. Seeing the look on President Kimbel's face as he realized he had not a shred of a chance of ever escaping alive without complying to Giovanni's demands. He pictured himself sitting down in the President's chair, a grin on his face as he bent the law to his will. No one would do so much as take a step without him knowing about it. He'd be the supreme ruler of the world, and no one could stop him. As long as he had his Aura powers, everything would work out just the way it was supposed to.

Suddenly, his walkie talkie went off. Pausing mid-focus, Giovanni pulled the small black box out of his shorts and lifted it up to his face. "Giovanni."

"Giovanni, sir, we have a major problem. Security reported police sniffing around the area. Lots of them."

"Shit," he muttered. He put his hand up to his face and bit the inside of his cheek. Things like this were not good. If the TR HQ was discovered, his plans would be forced to take a planned for but undesired detour.

"Contact the Level 9s. Tell them that they are to gather up their assigned grunts and get out on the streets. Plain clothes only. No uniforms. No weapons. Tell them to do something to direct the police's suspicions elsewhere," he told the man on the other end of the line.

"Any specific orders on how to do that, sir?"

"No. Now get going!" Giovanni's voice turned harsh as he gave his final order. Slipping the talkie back into his shorts, he decided with a sigh that it was best to call it quits. If shit did hit the fan, he didn't want to be caught in the most unprofessional outfit ever to grace the planet.

Returning to his apartment, Giovanni sorted through his vast collection of formal clothing before picking out an outfit. He chose a white shirt, black tie, and black suit and pants. Slipping into the bathroom, he got changed. After giving his hair a slick-back and spraying himself with some cologne, he left. He was just finishing putting his dress shoes on when there was a knock on his apartment door.

"Come in."

The door opened only partially before a man slipped inside. It was one of the lower-ranking Executives, as evident by the "1" stamped on his hat. He looked nervous. Giovanni narrowed his eyes, wondering what else could have gone wrong.

"Permission to speak, sir?" The man's voice was quiet and high-pitched. He sounded like puberty had passed him by without so much as a single word.

"Granted."

The Executive cleared his throat. "I was sent down here by Executive Alesen to inform you of an accident in the Research & Development department."

"Accident?" Giovanni's voice grew into a roar. "What the hell happened?"

The other man flinched. "There was a chemical spill. The chemical mixed with another, and caused a small fire. One of the assistants was quick to put the fire out, although there was some damage done to the tabletop." He braced himself for Giovanni's response.

The boss's voice was just as loud as it had been a moment ago. "Tell me the name of the person who caused the spill."

"It was just an accident, sir. The man tripped over a cord and-"

"I don't care! Give me his name now, or I'll fire you too!"

"Channing Iteb, sir!"

Giovanni set his jaw. "Thank you, Executive. Tell him that I would like to see him here immediately. If he delays, I will have his ass dragged in here with no regard to how much it hurts."

"Yes, sir. Anything else, sir?"

"Tell the Research & Development department that they need to tape down their cords. Inform them that if an accident of this nature occurs again because of loose cords, everyone in the department will be punished as I see fit. Dismissed."

The Executive saluted his superior and left.

Giovanni put his head in his hands. Why couldn't his staff be more careful? He'd made sure to brief them all on the importance of safety in the labs, especially around the chemicals. He'd reminded them time and time again with recorded announcements and signs to take care with each movement they made.

"How can I succeed if I have the world's most incompetent staff working for me!?" he cried aloud. His fist slammed down on a table, sending vibrations through the entire room.

At least a small fire was all that had happened. Damn, was Iteb lucky. Had an explosion occurred or someone died, Giovanni would've kicked his ass all the way to Pluto.

A moment later, there was a knock on the door. Giovanni invited whoever it was in, his voice rough and hard as a result of his anger.

The door opened, and Channing Iteb stepped in. He looked extremely pale, and his eyes betrayed his fear.

Giovanni straightened himself, smoothing out his suit. "I heard about the incident in the labs."

Channing swallowed hard. "Yes, sir. You see, sir, it was all an accident. An extension cord wasn't taped down as it should have been, and I tripped over it. I bumped into one of the beakers, which in turn knocked another beaker over. The two chemicals mixed, and a fire broke out."

"Weren't you looking where you were going?"

"I was trying to, sir, but another researcher was talking to me, and I got distracted."

Giovanni bowed his head. "Distraction is something we cannot tolerate in the labs."

"Yes, sir, I agree. I apologize, sir. It won't happen again."

Slowly, the boss raised his head. His eyes glittered in the dim lighting of his apartment. "You're damned right it won't. Because I'm firing you."

He looked startled. "W-what?"

"Are you deaf?"

"No, sir, but-"

"Don't make this worse for yourself, Iteb. There are much worse punishments than the one I am giving you now."

"But my family! Sir, I swear it was just an accident. It won't happen again!"

"No, it won't, because you won't be there. Last chance, Iteb. Leave, or I'll be forced to turn to more drastic measures." He pulled out his walkie talkie to emphasize his words.

The researcher swallowed. "Yes, sir."

"Good. Now leave, and never come back. And if you ever betray any of our secrets, I'll be on you faster than a hound after a hare."

"Yes, sir." He left.

As soon as he was gone, Giovanni spoke into his walkie talkie. "Dan?"

It took a moment for Dan to respond. "Yes, sir?"

Quickly, Giovanni briefed the man on what had happened with Channing. "I don't think he'll try to retaliate, but I can never be too safe. It is too late for us to change our plans now. I want 24/7 surveillance on him and his family. If he so much as looks the wrong way, I want him subdued and brought back to me. Understood?"

"Yes, sir. I'll get someone on him now."

"Excellent. Make sure you emphasize the need to keep the surveillance out of Channing's realm of knowledge. He is a smart man that knows this organization well. I wouldn't put it past him to assume that we are sending a watchdog after him."

"Yes, sir. Is that all, sir?"

"That is all."

Giovanni set his talkie down on the table and took a seat. He had to admit, he was extremely disappointed in Iteb. He was a brilliant man. Giovanni had expected him to be more careful. He just hoped everyone in the department had learned from Iteb's mistakes. However, now Giovanni had another thing to worry about. Not only did he have to waste a man on surveillance, but he had to find a researcher to replace Iteb. He usually managed to get anyone to work for him so long as he waved enough cash around, but with the smart ones it could be a challenge. He really had to think up a good strategy, one that the geniuses he looked into wouldn't see right through.

"Damn." He ran his hands through his oily hair. Just a mere hour ago he'd been thinking about how perfect his plans were and how smoothly everything was going. Now, that seemed to be at risk. The police were on the lookout, and his gut told him that Channing couldn't be trusted. Sure, he could scare him and beat him all he wanted, but if he told, he told. All it would take was a simple "Team Rocket's back" and the entire region would be hunting them.

Giovanni studied his hands, his eyes tracing the deep lines in his palms. Was it possible that his Aura could somehow fix this? Was there a way to completely shroud headquarters behind a veil of invisibility? Was it possible that he could erase Channing's memories of Team Rocket and eliminate one of his problems? Was it possible that he could find the answers to these questions within the next few days?

He wasn't sure.

He stood up. Even if every attempt was fruitless, the least he could do was try. All he had to do was find a lowly grunt to practice on. Freeze him in a chair and keep him that way until Giovanni was done trying to answer his questions. That was the nice part about being the leader of an organization- he had a whole slew of people to use for whatever needed to be done. He could pick and choose as he pleased, and no one could ever say no and walk away with their head still intact.

As Giovanni placed his hand on the doorknob, he thought about all of the things he could accomplish if he could in fact make himself invisible and erase peoples' memories. He would be even more unstoppable than he was just a short time ago. Maybe he wouldn't even have to fight his way to President Kimbel's office. Maybe he could just stroll right through completely unnoticed. His head began to spin with all of the ideas he had for what he could do with just those two powers.

Damn, was he living a sweet life or what.

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