"The police have to set a good example. The law says we can't exploit Pokemon, we simply can't do that. Besides, this place has seen enough exploitation of Pokemon. Funny how this is coming up with the Cipher Lab again. That was the place they used to experiment on those poor creatures, turn them into heartless weapons. Can't believe some creep thought it would be a good idea to take a kidnap victim there."
Orre was in the middle of a huge desert. Actually, Orre was a huge desert, with the occasional settlement dotted across the shifting sands. The towns themselves were tiny, easy to miss from the sky. Despite the best efforts of the governors, the place was almost completely barren. Almost no-one other than ruffians and wanted crooks came here, using the sub par law enforcement to hide from the law. It was a good place to take a kidnap victim.
The huge area of the desert meant that there was a long wait until they reached the lab. Lara took that time to brief Casey – or rather, Jimi – on what needed to happen. Some of the other soldiers, one of which was Aven, were looking at her funny, but no-one commented. How could a dumb creature like that understand her?
Jimi understood perfectly. Lara wanted him to go through the vent, which would have some sort of electromagnetic barrier that might buzz a little. Then, he had to navigate the vents of the building to find the force field generator. The police had been smart enough to hold onto the original blueprints for the lab, and Lara was able to provide a map for the mouse with the most likely area where the generator was being held. Jimi had been given a smaller map to hold onto, just in case. Goal? Destroy that generator.
Not a problem. Jimi was actually looking forward to blowing something up for great justice.
Casey stroked her pet. "You got all that?" She was a little unsure about letting her Pikachu go off into unknown territory by himself, where she couldn't see him. But her first night in Rapture had taught her Jimi was capable of handling himself alone. She had to keep reassuring herself of that.
Jimi simply nodded. He was ready to do this. From what he'd heard about this 'Cipher', he'd be happy to bust this generator and let the cavalry storm this place.
"Cipher was originally little more than one of Team Rocket's subsidiaries, selling off black-market Pokemon to an area with little to no wildlife. In order to boost profits, several scientists in their ranks had been studying a way to turn Pokemon into more effective battlers, using moves with no weaknesses or natural defences. They found it in a mysterious chemical based essence, which they nicknamed 'Shadow' due to it's color and the aura the affected Pokemon gained. By using a combination of this essence and several brainwashing techniques, one of which was simple torture, they were able to produce heartless, powerful battlers. Their leaders kept this discovery from their superiors at Team Rocket, using these powerful 'shadow Pokemon' to corner the black market and make a fortune for themselves."
Looking at it, Casey couldn't understand why this kidnapper would choose this spot to hide his capture. Granted, it was in the middle of the desert of an almost-uninhabited area of the world, but even in this desert, from the air, this 'secret hideout' stuck out like a colossal pimple.
The lab itself was a tarnished white, and despite years of weather in the desert sands, it would still be easy to spot on it's own. Then there was the force field. The force-field was a painfully obvious purple color, creating a huge dome around the white-and-grey blocks forming the former Cipher Lab. Then again, it would seem the current owner of this lab had foregone subtlety for security. Casey had no idea why. What's the point of holding a kidnap victim there if everybody knows where you are?
Then again, it probably wasn't his intention. It sure was lucky that kid had gone past at that exact moment.
The air vent Jimi would go into was several feet away from the lab and the force field. From the blueprints Lara had gotten, if the lab had been discovered and confronted by the police, it would seal up completely, becoming airtight in the process. This vent would give the air the occupants needed until they could manufacture an escape. Not the smartest of security, but judging by the fact they were infiltrated by a common thief and a child early in their career, Cipher was not particularly intelligent regarding security.
The grate had been removed, and a technician with a collar of sorts was waiting by the entrance. Casey and Jimi approached the vent, Jimi carrying a small case around his neck containing a smaller map. The technician tried to attach the collar, only to be hissed at by Jimi. Casey motioned to the collar. "What's that?"
"A tracking device. It's the only useful thing that'll work through the electromagnetic barrier." Casey took the tracking device and attached it to her pet with no interference.
"OK Jimi, you're up." Casey petted her Pikachu for good luck.
"If there's any sort of security, they'll likely hear him going through the vents." Lara remarked. "And time is of the essence regarding Miss Acorn. Sacrifice stealth for speed. We need that barrier down as quickly as possible."
Jimi nodded, and hopped out of Casey's arms. The creature stretched a bit, feeling very confident. Giving his mistress a wink for reassurance, the Pikachu leapt into the vent and disappeared into the darkness.
Casey gulped, hoping that she could be reassured. He's a tough critter, he'll be alright. she managed to tell herself.
The technician opened a laptop of sorts, with a picture of the map of the Cipher lab vents, with a large circle representing the force field/electromagnetic field circling the area. A yellow dot was going through the emergency air vent, approaching the electromagnetic field. "Alright…the, uh, operative is going through the barrier now. Cross your fingers."
Casey crossed them, hiding her hands.
The yellow dot flickered for a second, and then reappeared on the other side of the barrier, still moving.
"Good! Operative is past the field and now approaching most likely room containing the generator…"
"After the Coalition retook MY city, I've had to lower myself to building piddling weaponry for the black market in this rathole of a building! Hardly a fitting job or proper place for the greatest technological genius this world has ever seen. Even with my …assistant, rebuilding the Robotocizer is going to be nearly impossible with what little supplies we have. Regardless, I am not giving up. This is not the end of the line for Ivo Robotnik."
Jimi shook himself. He had just passed through the electromagnetic field that was supposed to deactivate any robots passing through. All the Pikachu had felt was a light buzzing.
The air vent was almost completely black. Jimi was a fair distance away from the entrance, and still a ways away from the lab itself. No light of any kind could be seen. Jimi used a tiny electric current to make a light, so he wouldn't bump into any walls as he went forward.
He shivered. The all-encompassing darkness and tight space was more than a little unnerving. But he could handle it. He could handle anything. He was strong. He was tough. Years under an abusive trainer in countless deathwatches had made him tough. He had gone up against drowning pools of water, blazing fire pits, bone-shattering earthquakes and Lord knows what else. And every time, he came out victorious.
Until that last fight, where he lost his ear, his tail and his voice at the claws of an Excadrill. The trainer had left him for dead, calling him worthless. Dumped him like trash near the abandoned Pokemon Centre, like he was mocking his plight. The Pikachu didn't die, though. He was still a fighter.
If Casey hadn't found him, he wouldn't have been able to fight again. For that, he was eternally grateful to the girl…even though she did make him do strange things. Like the tattoos that designated him as her pet, or the powering of her band's electronics. But unlike the trainer, she cared for him. She helped him through the pain, she gave him a home, she gave him a name, she was a friend as well as a master.
Now, she was counting on him to survive this. And he would not let her down.
It was funny, thinking about Casey at a time like this. But the long walk from the entrance to the lab gave the Pokemon time to reflect.
Jimi saw a light coming from the floor up ahead, and realized that he must be inside the lab now. Jimi walked above the grate, and used the light to recheck his map. The likely room was still a small distance away, and Jimi quickly memorized the route. Further down, second intersection, take right, then left, then down…
Jimi whirled around to see an arm made of cast iron crash through the ventilation tube just behind him. His presence must've been detected sooner than everyone had expected. He had to hurry.
Jimi sent a shock to the iron arm to buy him a little time, and then bolted down the ventilation system to his destination. Further down, another metal blade crashed through the vent, narrowly missing it's target. At the next intersection, Jimi dodged to the right as another iron fist tried to snatch him. Jimi turned left at the next corner, and then he came across another grate…
This iron fist was able to grab him and drag him down. Jimi wiggled for a bit as the security machine ripped him through the air vent. Once it was in the room, Jimi let loose a powerful Thunderbolt that sent the machine into electric convulsions and forced it to let the Pokemon go.
Jimi didn't look at the machine, instead looking for the generator it had to destroy. It was easy to find. The force-field generator might as well have had a neon sign saying 'Zap me! I make force fields'. A large turbine powered the machine, with multiple cords and junction boxes to relay power to the antennae and spherical objects on top. The entire thing was garishly coloured and crackling with electricity.
Jimi smirked and added a lot more.
The Pikachu's Thunderbolt overcharged the huge machine, causing the turbine to spin out of control. The junction boxes sparked and broke apart due to overheating, and the spherical thing on top began to flash red. The electrical arcs became too large for the machine to handle, and the cords seemed to be struggled to get free of this overcharged electricity. An alarm went off, and Jimi heard the wheels and legs of more security coming into the room. The Pikachu poured on the juice into this generator.
It paid off. The Turbine exploded, it's fans breaking into pieces and scattering around the room. The antennae fell to the floor, too damaged by the overpowering electricity to be any use anymore.
Jimi chuckled at the sight of the destruction just as a heavy fist came down on his head, causing him to black out…
"I gave him his name today. Jimi, after Jimi Hendrix. He didn't answer to it for a little bit…took him a while to figure out I was talking to him. Soon as the critter figured it out though, he…hugged me. Saw him crying. Before now, he spent all the time scowling at me and everyone that came near. I wonder why that name changed things. Well, it don't matter. Jimi's asleep now. I can see him smiling. Probably the best sleep he's had in ages. Heh. Poor little guy."
Jimi's actions weren't in vain. Outside, the force field encasing the building flickered for a second and then vanished. Casey smiled broadly. "Good boy."
Arbiter motioned to his team. "We're clear. Alpha team, move in now!" Several Elite and human soldiers leapt out of the Master Chief, ready for action.
Casey turned back to the technician's screen. "Where is he now?"
The yellow dot on the computer screen showed Jimi in the generator room. The dot had been moving very fast in the last few seconds, but it had suddenly stopped. And then it just…vanished. One second it was there, the next…nothing.
"WHAT?!" Casey exclaimed.
"I-I dunno. The signal's been lost…the operative may have been captured."
"Couldn't it have just gone buggy when Jimi uses Thunderbolt?" Casey tried desperately to hide the concern in her voice.
The technician shook his head. "No. That was accounted for. Nothing short of outright smashing the tracking device would stop the signal."
Casey stood up and walked towards Alpha Team, concern etched on her face. Arbiter read her mind and stopped her.
"Chronicler, stay here."
"But-" Casey protested.
"That is an ORDER, Casey." Arbiter then turned to McCloud. "Remain here with Team Bravo, and keep her in your sights."
"Yes sir." McCloud saluted. Casey glowered at her superior for a moment, but thought better of protesting.
"You got it, boss." She grumbled before sulking back to the ship. McCloud followed her closely as Arbiter turned back to the first team.
"MOVE!" Arbiter didn't want to waste any time. Whoever was inside could put the base on airtight lockdown at any moment. They had to move fast if they wanted any chance of freeing the kidnapped Therianth. Arbiter ran up to the lab with Lara and several other soldiers, smashed the front door down and charged inside.
The entrance hall was unremarkable, resembling a waiting room at the doctor's office. Black seats in a hexagon pattern were scattered around the floor, and two withered plants stood beside a glass doorway. No, not a doorway. An elevator.
Arbiter groaned. "Is there no faster way?"
Lara smiled. "Of course there is. Through the floor. The next floor isn't particularly far down." The soldiers moved a safe distance away. At the motion of Arbiter, another soldier placed a black box onto the floor, identical to the one Snake had tried on the tomb door back in Hyrule. This time however, the explosive was far more effective.
After five seconds, the box exploded, producing a large hole in the floor. Once the dust had settled, one could see the floor below. The white, sterile tile was only a six foot drop from the hole. Arbiter and the other elites easily dropped down onto the floor without any trouble. Lara produced several ropes from her own sack, enabling the other soldiers to shimmy down without risking any broken bones. Aven chuckled under his breath. Weaklings.
The white hallways branched out in three directions. It was a split-second decision to split up into three groups. Arbiter took Lara, Aven and several others down the first hallway, and two more groups split to the other hallways.
All of a sudden, an alarm went off, and the white walls went bright red. LOCKDOWN IN PROGRESS
"This isn't good." Lara stated the obvious.
"Why am I so depressed? I am in full control of Robotropolis, supreme ruler. All thanks to my technological marvels. My robots enabled me to take over this pathetic city and rebuild it into my paradise. No-one opposes me, no one threatens me, no one even equals me! So why so I feel so empty? This feeling is keeping me from enjoying my newfound power. I need to find a remedy before I go insane."
Casey found a large enough rock to sit down on. She sighed slightly and started fiddling with some nearby pebbles. She could tell McCloud was still watching her, the dutiful soldier. She could see the fox Therianth out of the corner of her eye, right behind her.
"He'll be alright." McCloud eventually sat down next to her.
"From what I've heard? Yeah." McCloud smiled slightly. "If he broke out of his cage in Rapture, he'll break out of his cage here."
"Yeah, well." Casey snorted. "The guy who put him in that cage was kinda stupid."
McCloud blinked. "I put him in the cage."
"Ohhhh…" Casey gulped. Then she shook her head. "Well, it was still kinda stupid. You need an electricity-resistant case."
"I haven't had much experience with Pokemon."
"Oh, okay then. Sorry." Casey tossed the pebble to herself. Then she blinked. "Wait. You haven't? They're all over the news. Specially the last few years."
"Haven't been on Earth the last few years." McCloud explained. "I'm part of a commando-for-hire unit. Interstellar."
"Huh." Casey shrugged. Her thoughts kept going back to Jimi, preventing her from continuing the conversation. She absentmindedly chucked one of the pebbles away, throwing it into the seemingly endless desert.
The rock made an audible metallic CLANG when it hit the ground a few feet away.
Casey and McCloud both heard the noise. Sand does not make that noise. "Huh?" Not having anything else to do, Casey and Fox went to investigate.
It was hidden under a fair amount of sand, but Casey's shoes made contact with something that was clearly metal. She tapped her feet just to be sure, and found where the real desert ended and the metal began. A quick brushing away revealed a metal plate under the sand. The hole Casey made was small, but the plate seemed to imply it was much larger and hidden under more of the surrounding sand.
"Could just be scrap metal."
"Well, whatever it is, it looks like it's part of the lab. Should we -?"
Casey didn't get a chance to finish her question. A loud noise suddenly erupted from under the ground, forcing both Casey and McCloud to cover their ears and drawing the attention of the rest of the team. A ton of sand was suddenly blown off the surface, obscuring the view and nearly blinding Casey.
If the sand wasn't in her eyes, she would've seen the metal plate was just a piece of a huge door hidden beneath the sands. The colossal secret entrance was large enough to deploy a jumbo jet. The metal doors opened wide, creating a huge rift in the ground into a very dark pit.
Casey had still been blinded by the sand, and the rumbling of the doors opening was disorienting her even further. She teetered unsteadily, trying to right herself and block out the incredibly loud and unmusical noise. Unfortunately, the door was opening right underneath her, and she overbalanced.
The girl flailed about as she realized she was right over a hole. She suddenly lost her footing and began to fall screaming, as if someone or something had pushed her over. It wasn't McCloud…he was too far away. The operative saw the chronicler fall into the dark hole and quickly followed her, jumping down into the room the doors had opened to.
The other soldiers on the surface saw something rise up out of the hidden blast doors. It was the size of a plane, but had a very different resemblance. The mecha had the shape of a man, with blocky pieces and oversized guns strapped to it's wrists and chest. A huge jetpack was propelling it upward, leaving behind a long trail of thick smoke. The wings on the sides and the rather bright paint job didn't seem practical at all. To the soldiers on top, it looked like an oversized, over armed children's toy robot.
The mecha began to fire on the soldiers, and it's bullets and energy blasts were very real. The operatives and police ducked for cover, and started arming themselves and preparing to engage in combat.
Underneath the machine, the blast doors closed, locking McCloud and Casey inside…