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| Ash had crawled on his hands and knees through the air shafts for what seemed like an eternity. It felt like hours, but the way timing was half the time, it was probably only twenty minutes. Still, he had crawled, and crawled, crawled so much that he ached all over. But it wasn’t his hands that were tired of holding his body weight or his knees that were sore from rubbing against the hard metal floor. He was frantic, afraid of what happened to her. His nerves sent tremors through his body. His mind created fanciful images of beatings, torture chambers, and electric shock tables. Just as he was about to explode from all of the tension…
Ash: “What’s that? [straining to look ahead, then smiling excitedly] Hey, I see some light!”
Sure enough, Ash crawled just a little bit further and saw not only the end of the air shafts, but another secret door to get out with little tiny vents that brought in light and a hazy view of the area below.
Ash bent down over the vent and squinted his eyes to try to get a better look. It was very quiet. He could see three walls below, two walls parallel and very close together, while the other wall was adjacent to both and connected them together. The third wall had a closed door on it.
Ash: ~Probably the end of the hallway. This could be it.~
He didn’t know if anyone would be down there waiting for him, but he knew he had to take the chance. With a gulp of insecurity, Ash pushed bit by bit on the small door on the shaft. He wiggled it back and forth, gently pushing, gently wiggling, pushing some more and…
Ash pushed it so hard in the end that if flew open, sending him to meet the floor below with a big thunk.
Ash held his breath and looked around in the semi-darkness with wide eyes. That fall didn’t hurt him much, but it seemed so loud in the loneliness of the hallway. He remained there for a moment, and when he was convinced that no one was around, he sat up, only to find that his legs were dangling off the floor.
He felt around were his legs were and discovered steps that descended below, probably back to the main part of the facility. That was close.
Ash: [wiping his forehead] “That was a close one. [turning to the door behind him] Now, let’s see what’s behind this door.”
He stood up and walked to the door, grabbing the handing and turning. With a great push, he got nothing. It was locked.
Ash: “Great. This has to be the boss’s office. Now how am I supposed to get in here?”
Just then, Ash remembered something…
~Misty: “Here Ash, take this. [handing him her Team Rocket ID] I’ve already had to use this once. You may need it along the way.”
Ash: “But Misty, if they catch you without this, they’ll know for sure that you’re not a Rocket.”
Misty: “They may find out anyway Ash.”
Ash: “But Misty…”
Misty: “Ash! [Speaking softly] Please, just take it.”
The screaming in the hallway earlier, the moaning, the crying…~
Ash: Misty…[shaking his head, looking up with determination] I’ve got to save her!”
With that, Ash whipped the TR ID out of his jeans pocket and inserted it into a slot in the door.
As soon as he pulled it out, the small red dot on the door changed to green, and he was permitted to enter. He quickly opened the door so it wouldn’t lock again, but a sudden uneasy feeling left him momentarily paralyzed from his spot just inside the door.
He briefly looked at his surroundings as he edged his way in through the door. He looked over everything in the small gym-like room. He saw the raised floor opposite of him with what looked like a small room of some sort on the top. He saw the ring on the center part of the floor. His eyes scanned the room, from right to left, gazing at every detail…
His eyes stopped.
The noise was so soft he could hardly distinguish it above the sound of the soft whirring sound in his own ears. But it couldn’t be mistaken for anything else. The soft whimpering, the harsh breathing. His mouth slowly fell open and his eyes grew wide and they became accustomed to the light and focused on where the sound was coming from, on the small cell between the center of the room and the left wall, closer to him on his side rather than the other side of the room.
Before his mind even stopped to let him think, his feet were already hastily moving toward the cell, towards that familiar sound. He picked up speed with each step, until he was almost running, completely unaware of his surroundings and the danger he had just placed himself in. All he cared about was getting there. All he wanted was to get to her.
As Ash was still in the hallway and getting himself ready to go into the room, he had been unaware of a hidden video camera that was watching his every move. In the room he was about to go into, a shadowy figure petting a Persian was looking intently at a T.V. screen that was hooked up to a security camera. Something about this person seemed so familiar…
The boy turned around in the direction of the camera so his face was visible as he was determinably looking through his pocket to find something. That face was undeniable.
The Persian looked up at his master to see the man’s hand stopped in mid air, as if it were frozen in time. The man himself was hunched forward in his seat, staring with wide eyes and mouth gaping open at the large screen in front of him on the far wall. The dark hair. His mother’s look of determination. His own eyes…
Giovanni: “It can’t be…”
The boy finally found what he was looking for, a Team Rocket ID card that he quickly inserted into the door.
Giovanni: “So this is it. This is the presence I have been feeling here all day. [looking down, putting his head in his hand and shaking his head back and forth] It’s been so many years…”
He heard the door open into his ‘office’. He knew that boy was inside. He knew that he would have to face this. He also knew that this meant danger. Danger for him, and for Team Rocket. For he knew in his heart that this boy held the power inside him to break Giovanni away from Team Rocket, for he was one of the only two people in the entire world that Giovanni had ever loved. With shear determination, Giovanni pushed himself up off his seat and forced his legs to hold his weight as he stepped forward to go meet the boy with spiky black hair.
Brock: “The Pokemon Storage room has GOT to be around here somewhere.”
Brock: “Huh? [falling] AHH!”
Like Ash, Brock also fell from the air shafts into the room below, but he hadn’t known that he was already at his destination. Lucky for Brock, no one was in there at the moment, and with sound proof walls in every room, no one heard all of the commotion.
Brock stood up and rubbed his head. It was pretty dark in there, but he could make out the door at the other corner of the room. The door had a window on it that was covered with blinds from the inside. The blinds were half-way open at the moment, so he could see a little bit from the light coming in from the hallway. Brock knew that he wouldn’t get anywhere without being able to see, so assuming that there was a light-switch near the door, he took a step forward.
Brock: “Here goes nothing.”
But one step is about as far as he got.
Brock: [sweat-dropping] “What the?!”
All around Brock, neon-red lasers erupted from the walls and were shining back and forth across the room, crossing one another at random points to create an intruder’s nightmare.
Brock: [mumbling to himself] “Dang motion detectors. Now I’ll NEVER get the light on. Just my luck that Team Rocket would actually do something smart when I really needed them to be dumb.”
With one foot on the floor, the other raised as if he were about to continue walking, and both his arms at 90 degree angles at his sides, he was caught between two sets of laser beams. He didn’t have good balance to begin with, but falling over would mean ‘Game Over’ for all three of them if he didn’t do something, fast.
Brock: [sigh, with little puff of smoke] “This is going to be a long day…”
Even when Ash reached the cell in Giovanni’s office room, he was terrified to look inside and see what he would find. His mind was still racing with the images he had had of Misty being hurt, but he forced his mind to push those thoughts away, and instead focus on her.
He kneeled down by the cell, looking into the darkness at the lifeless lump in front of him behind the bars. His fear swelled up inside him again. Without thinking, he started pushing her body back and forth.
Ash: “Misty. Misty! Wake up!”
He was still shaking her when a small moan escaped from her lips.
Misty: [whispering] “Ash…”
Ash: [still shaking her] Misty! Say something Misty! Please, get up!”
When Ash felt her move, he was so startled that he jumped back for a moment, unable to speak.
Misty breathed in deeply, but her breath sounded shaky and pained. She struggled to sit up, breathing hard the entire time and fighting against her weakness.
Ash: “Ma, Misty?”
Misty finally sat up, breathing heavily. She was sitting with her back toward him, but slowly turned around towards the cell bars to face him.
When their eyes met, it was a mixture of joy and pain. They could only stare at each other in disbelief for many moments, unable to comprehend all they had been through in the last few hours and unable to shake their overwhelming feeling of happiness at seeing each other again and knowing that she/he was okay.
It was Ash who broke the silence, after the joy in his eyes from finding her again turned to heart ache at seeing her face and the pain she had gone through, for him…
Ash: “Misty. [reaching out to gently touch her cheek through the bars] What happened to you?”
Misty: [still in shock of seeing Ash again] “They roughed me up a little. Nothing that a fiery red head like me can’t take, huh?” Her voice was quiet and labored, but Ash couldn’t help but smile at her attempt at humor at a time like this. “Enough about me, what about you?”
Misty raised a shaky hand to touch Ash’s cheek on the other side of the cell wall. When she felt dampness on his skin, she became worried.
Misty: “Oh Ash. What did they do to you? I can’t see you very well in this darkness. Tell me, are you ok? What happened?”
Ash started to cry harder now, silent sobs that forced more tears from his eyes. Here she was, battered and bruised from who knows what kind of mistreatment. And she was thinking about him.
He grabbed the hand that was on his cheek and gently rubbed his thumb back and forth along her smooth skin. In that moment, he couldn’t explain the tremendous feeling he had for this girl…
But the moment was broken with a sudden burst of light.
Ash and Misty dropped their hands and both looked up around the room.
The bright florescent lights had suddenly turned on, illuminating the room
from the ceiling above. Then their eyes moved elsewhere, to a small area
that was raised up from the ground on the other side of the large room,
where another burst of light erupted from the darkness.
Ash stood up from his place beside Misty, unconsciously extending
his left arm out to cover the cell in a protective way as he gazed with
concentrated eyes upon the small room above. A figure began coming
out of the shadows, slowing taking form in the light as the stranger
appeared on a small balcony outside of the small room above.
Ash didn’t know what was coming. He glanced back at Misty who had
tried to get up but couldn’t quite make it. Her eyes were glued to the
emerging figure, full of fright and insecurity. Ash whipped his head back
around to face this stranger, his eyes fixed in his unmistakable determined
Wait a minute. Did he just hear laughter?
Giovanni: [part of torso and face still covered in shadows] “You know, you look just like your mother when you are so determined like that.”
Ash froze. He recognized that voice. It had been many years ago since he heard it, but he could remember it as if it were yesterday. But this was impossible. It just couldn’t be who he thought…
Ash: [incredibly confused] “How do you know my mother?”
Giovanni: [smiling to himself] “You always did have trouble figuring things out. [pressing a button that took the small balcony to the floor, where he stepped off] But, you would never give up until you did.”
Ash: “You didn’t answer my question.”
He almost gasped when he said it, completely unaware of its meaning until now. What he said almost confirmed his first impression of the man. He knew someone many years ago who did that. You asked him a question and he would skirt around it, just like a lawyer or a great business man would. There was only one man he ever knew who did that…
Giovanni: [standing still. Talking quietly] “It’s been too many years.”
Giovanni finally stepped out of the shadows, his face completely visible to a stunned and air-deprived Ash. Ash’s breath caught in his throat, his mind unable to believe who was standing right in front of him and what this would mean. But as he looked up into the older man’s face, all Ash saw were his memories. The kind eyes, his own eyes, looking back at him. His warm, loving smile. Things that had been foreign to Giovanni for many years were all coming back to him, recreating the face that Ash had loved and lost so many years ago.
Ash didn’t say a word. He just started walking toward him, then running. He was running to this man the same way he was running to Misty when he was reunited with her after so long. He didn’t stop for a second, but flew into Giovanni’s arms with a fresh new set of tears. Ash’s sobs were ones of disbelief and joy, of love and loss and being reunited again. He couldn’t speak. He didn’t have to. Both the young man and older man knew what was going on without saying a thing.
Giovanni: [hugging Ash fiercely] “Oh how I’ve missed you, my precious son.”