B1 — 29. Project 223
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1:  Giovanni Rocket (It's about to get real...)

Pokemon Map: 


I loosely follow this map as a visual guide; the creator made it in paint?!?!  It's insane!  Some errors here and there, but I follow its design for the most part.  Areas can be further apart, some cities are in the wrong places or not listed, and the regions aren't nearly so close.  The best map I've found, though!




Lyra takes Rhea and the group to meet with Giovanni for dinner, but before that, he wanted to check Rhea's current status with the Gym Challenge ... He was right, and the Master Balls, combined with the incredible raw Stats, Moves, and multiple Abilities of her Pokemon bump her up into Silver-tier before her first badge.

There can be exceptions and overrides made, but Giovanni put in his own recommendation that the other Leaders can see.  He's observed Rhea's strategies before and knows she is not skilled in low-tier combat, and that affected his decision to test her before making it to Pewter.

They had dinner with the Rockets and went home to prepare to go to Dark City!

Now ... We return to the darkness of the Pokemon World ... What has happened in the underground conflict that has shaken Viridian?


I'd like to thank my patrons for continuing to support me:

LifeStatZero, Jakub, Lore, Anskelis, Brian Barrett, Erika Roldan, Dylan K Hoadley, and my other Patrons!

Family Tree / Characters


Rhea Everhart (Swablu) - Main Character.  Long blonde hair, coral blue eyes.

Maya (Mya most of the time) - Mawile, female.  Hyper-aggressive competative personality.

Nova - Eevee, female.  Very impressionable and seems to have taken a rather attention seeking personality from Rhea showing her off.  Can turn into all Eeveelutions.

Mother - Christie Everhart (Very Low Master-tier Trainer, renowned Breeder, and Scientist; a daughter to Drake and Glacia; younger sister of Cynthia)

No Pokemon Listed

Father - Keith Everhart (Grandmaster Trainer; family not mentioned yet)

Franky - (Main Team) Gengar, male,  Keith's Starter.

Jeffery - (Main Team) Fearow, male.  Keith caught him when starting the Hidden Master Village.

Vilora - (Main Team) 5”11 Butterfree, female.  Knows Teleport.

Frisky  -  (Main Team) Medicham, female.  Very shy about meeting new Pokemon.

Sabin - Rhea's older brother by 3 years, a Platinum-tier Trainer.

Atreyu - (Main Team) Houndoom, male.  Sabin's Starter that he caught with his father, Keith, near Mt. Silver.

Luna - (Possibly Main Team) 4”11 Mismagius, female.  Sabin recently caught her in a secret cave near the edges of Mt. Silver.  Knows Imprision.

Unnamed - Kangaskhan that beat Katelin’s Roserade

Cynthia (Cindy) - Rhea's aunt and one of the Top-Tier Legendary Trainers of the world.  She's the Active Champion of Sinnoh, tutoring Dawn to take over the position in time.  Age - Late 40's.

Lila - (Back-up Main Team) Spiritomb that is on the average level of her main team.
Esfforia - (Main Team) Her 14”7 Garchomp, female.
Melina - (Main Team) 50”11 Milotic, female.
Unnamed Togekiss - (Main Team) 8”11 
Unnamed Lucario -  (Main Team)
Unnamed Roserade - (Main Team)
Unnamed Eelektross - (Main Team)
Unnamed Gastrodon - (Back-up Main Team)
Unnamed Braviary - (Back-up Main Team)
Unnamed Glaceon - (Back-up Main Team)
Polic - Unknown Pokemon.  Weaker Pokemon that Cynthia brings on visits to help push Sabin.

Bianca - Rhea's cousin, Master-tier Trainer, and Cynthia's daughter.  Age 26.  Having a difficult time living away from a major city with making exotic and new dishes.  Rhea's pretty close to her.

Unnamed Stoutland - 4"6 at shoulders.

Hilbert - Bianca's husband, Former Champion of the Unova League (replaced by Iris).  Rhea believes he's kind of clumsy. 

Grandpa Drake - Rhea's Grandfather, Cynthia and Christie's father, and Glacia's husband.  Apparently, he's a Former Legendary-tier Trainer.  He's lost a lot of his former strength over the years but is still a terror if he's serious.  Owns a boat that he built himself as a young man.  Married to Glacia; Active Hoenn E4, Rank-1, but Glacia is trying to get him to retire.  He won't until someone worthy can take his spot.

Grandma Glacia - Rhea's grandmother on her mother's side.  She is a match for Drake, although, the type advantage might play a role in that.  She's still easily Champion-tier in her youth and holds an E4 position.

Amira Rocket (Mew) - A part of  Rhea's Team.  She is the granddaughter of Giovanni and Ariana Rocket, and the daughter of Lyra and Silver Rocket.  She's really reserved about friends, very responsible, and shy.  She has a habit of putting on her sunglasses to adopt a persona to protect herself from criticism and rude behavior.  She loves her family dearly.

Lyra Rocket - Amira's Mom.  Her daughter classifies her as a stalker that went after her dad.  She's very hyper-active and doesn't know when to not push boundaries.  A High Champion-tier Trainer, she traveled with Legends like Ethan and Kris.

Zelri - 4"11 Porygon-Z, female.

Silver Rocket - Amira's Dad.  Not much known other than him being a caring father that works for his father.  High Master-tier.

Ariana Rocket - Amira's grandmother on her dad's side.  She's the highest-ranking Administrator in the Rocket conglomerate.  Possibly between Master and High Master-tier.

Giovanni Rocket - Amira's infamous grandfather on her dad's side.  He's gone through a lot since his criminal days and now has a legitimate business that has built up the Viridian, Pallet, and Pewter City-States to their current glory.  Grandmaster-tier Trainer and the Gym Leader of Viridian.  No one has been able to beat him since Chase, the current Champion.

Mallory (Lori) Medina - Rhea's final teammate.  Not much is known about Lori so far, except that her parents died when she was young and Grimsley took her and her sister in.  She takes after the bright, devious side of her step-dad.  Seems to have some subtle attention needs from her sister since she was always too busy to hang out.

Shauntal Medina - Mallory's older sister, and Unova E4, Rank-4 Member.  She's an author, too.  Grandmaster-tier.

Grimsley Brooks - Mallory and Shauntal's step-dad and Unova E4, Rank-2 Member; High Grandmaster-tier.  He's in many underground circles.  Married to Karen Brooks, but they don't live with each other.

Karen Brooks - Wife of Grimsley Brooks, notorious party-girl, and Kanto's Active E4, Rank-1 Member.  She's Mallory and Shauntal's step-mom and Casey Brooks' mother.  High Grandmaster-tier.

Casey Brooks - Mallory and Shauntal's step-sister.  She's in the Starter Award Program with Rhea's team.  Casey is a notorious national party-girl mess that streams herself doing stupid and ridiculous stuff, taking after her mother. 

Jason - Rhea's best friend growing up in the Hidden Master's Village.  He's pretty outgoing and cheery.

Katelin (Kate) - Jason's older sister by 3 years and Sabin's girlfriend.  Rhea used to really dislike her for taking her brother's attention away but started to warm up to her recently.  Platinum-tier Trainer with an Encrusted Platinum Soul Badge to her name.

Jace - (Main Team) Noctowl
Fabio - (Main Team; Lead Pokemon) 6”10 Ampharos
Noral - Male Roserade that was beaten by Sabin’s Kangaskhan

Annila - Jason and Katelin's mother.  She's a picture fanatic and obsessed with Gym Leader Viola.  Master-tier Trainer.

Unnamed - (Main Team) Yanmega
Reon - (Main Team) 6”8 Poliwrath

 Kent - Jason and Katelin's dad.  Not much known, but assumed within Master-tier.

Lucian Allard - On a team with Jason and Lenard (Len/Lenster).  He's a very cocky boy that has something to prove to his parents.  He's rude and insufferable to most.

Diantha Allard - Lucian's mother, Siebold's wife, and Active Champion of Kalos.  She's supposed to be a decent Trainer within the Champion-tier bracket.  She doesn't have a lot of time to spend with her family between being Champion and an actress.  She's not on good terms with Rhea's family right now.

Siebold Allard - Lucian's father, Diantha's husband, and Kalos Active E4 Rank-3 Member.  Grandmaster-tier.  Owns a 5-star restaurant.

Ludovic Malet - Siebold's nephew and Lucian's cousin.  Seems to somewhat look up to Lucian and follow his mannerisms ... just not as insufferable.

Lenard (Len/Lenster) Hart - Best friends with Mallory and on the same team as Jason.  He enjoys creating music and partying, just not in the same way as Casey.

Elesa Hart - Len's mother, Gym Leader in Unova, and cross-regional musical superstar.

Blue - Legendary-tier Trainer that appears to have a deep hate for Giovanni.  He had some unknown tragedies that happened during the Ultra War that caused him to turn to alcohol to cope.  He's married to Leaf, and they had some ups and downs with their relationship, but seem on the recovery.  Rhea dislikes him for ruining her 8th birthday and the special card her mother made.  He works with Red in Alola at the Battle Tree.

As much time as I have at the moment to make this; I'll continue to increase the data in time.


4:43 P.M. June 15, Tuesday, 106 PH (Post Hoopa Event)

Events:  The start of the 2nd week in the Joint Kanto and Johto Indigo Summer League Preliminaries.  The last Days of Rest after the previous week’s battles.  One day after Ho-Oh healed everyone.


Giovanni saw his granddaughter and her friends off; Lyra would take them back to her place, and after a bit, Silver would join his wife.

Once they’d left, he entered one of his extensive studies with Silver, Matori, Purrfection, and Ariana.  Only two staff were allowed on the residence floor of his tower, and among many reasons for that, this room was numbered.

The study had unique ancient texts and rare artifacts from across the globe; items of unknown power were discovered and transported here to await testing.  What safer place was there than an area he had complete control over, and Cremgr, his High Master-tier Gengar, took shifts with slightly weaker Ghost Pokémon he had to keep the place locked down.

Cremgr took pride in having a perfect record, never allowing a single thief to escape, and kept watch on Giovanni’s greatest treasures; he was too paranoid to store them far away.  This was his vault, and it may have appeared utterly open to the world to see, yet that was also the symbol of power he held.

Giovanni wasn’t the strongest Trainer on the planet by a large margin.  He never slacked, which is how even as a Gym Leader, or around High Master, where most Master Trainers petered out and found it difficult to advance further, he continued to make gains.

Cunning, connections, and a vast spy network were how Giovanni made his significant empire of resources, and yes, he was powerful.  Currently, he hovered around the average range of Grandmasters; of course, few knew that, underestimating his actual strength, and if he was really going to war, then there were numberless tricks and preparations he’d made—yet this situation was different.

He sat down in an armchair, Matori standing beside him.

Cremgr floated out of the shadows with a broad smile to hover around him; Giovanni gave the ghost a smile and nod, soundlessly receiving his detailed report on the two staff’s movements that were charged with upkeeping the floors.

Jume and Tessa were in their forties, and Giovanni saved the two from certain death in their youth; they were utterly loyal to him, yet one could never be too careful.

Silver and Ariana sat opposite him, his wife pouring a glass of wine before taking a sip and following his gaze to Viridian Park, perfectly on display from their vantage point inside Rocket Tower.

“Is it bad?”  She asked, straightening her pants and crossing her legs.

Silver breathed a deep sigh, accepting a glass from his mother.  “The entire thing was a smokescreen; I only question if Ghetsis used the opportunity of Zinzolin in Viridian to make a move or if he was planted from the beginning.  Project 223 was taken from the 10th basement containment room.”

The Rocket family’s expression fell into a stiff grimace at the news; Giovanni had expected there to be a breach after Matori got an unusual activity alert, yet this changed everything.  Project 223 was so secretive that the number of people that knew about it could be counted on two hands.

Matori’s vision went to her tablet, keeping up to date on current Rocket activities across the world, scanning reports as silence closed in on them in the wake of the information.

Giovanni wanted to curse; he didn’t like the idea Silver put forward, and he refused the wine Ariana offered.  He needed a sharp mind, and dulling it might feel better, but it wouldn’t help him out of this situation

Had Ghetsis actually played him?  It didn’t make sense, though—no one should have been interested in exposing 223’s existence.

He folded his hands across his lap, glaring down at the park while Purrfection offered his own outlook on the situation; his Persian usually had a much more varied perspective than his own, giving him another angle.

The events played before his mind on repeat, dissecting, analyzing, and projecting; a decision had to be made if he’d report his findings to the United Indigo League.  Complications would arise that he did not want to deal with once coming clean about the breach and what was taken.

Plasma wasn’t capable of this on its own; it was a fractured organization, and to say there were only three factions would not have been entirely correct, which was one of the problematic aspects of dealing with it.  Although, their division was also their weakness.

N had his piece that operated on behalf of the Unova League, specializing in rooting out the splinter cells that developed after its collapse.  They went by a prefix now, Ideal Plasma, but everyone simply called the group as a whole by its original name.  They operated from N’s castle, making use of his noble bloodline inheritance, which allows him to run the ancient piece of technology.

Colress took over most of the organization’s scientific branch by force upon Ghetsis’s 2nd collapse, funneling much of the team’s financial resources away from its other members.  The group’s rapid advancements came from understanding old technology and improving upon it, granting them their invisibility devices.

The scientist had been known to go to extreme lengths to make methodical breakthroughs in various research fields, which he hid behind the excuse of being compelled by Ghetsis, pardoning him to a certain degree.

When given a chance, Colress would use any method available to prove a thesis; however, he operated within the framework of those he used as protection, which meant openly heinous acts were not even on his well-structured brain when in the service of the United Leagues.

On the other hand, Ghetsis was a patient and charismatic man that drew in his followers like a cult leader, manipulating their morals little by little until speaking up on social media became mentally breaking women at a black site to join the cause.  It was rather slow but an effective practice, developing zealots that looked to him as a god.

Ghetsis was more of a religious and philosophical figure than a businessman like Giovanni, and that made it difficult to predict the enigmatic man because such people were not beholden to reason or limits.  Ghetsis would do absolutely anything to achieve his goals.

He taught his cult that humans had corrupted the natural balance of the world, and he sought to show the masses the inexcusable effect humanity has had upon not only Pokémon but the world itself.  In fact, he pulled in many Rangers and Pokémon to his sympathetic cause.

Humanity had subtly warped the entire wild infrastructure by injecting a human hierarchical pyramid into even the most remote areas of the planet.  Humans were the dominators, and we called it a bond, but in reality, we were brainwashing Pokémon into acting as our servants, which was ironic, given Plasma’s methods.

He exposed a more recent discovery to the masses that had been kept quiet for a decade, requiring further study; Trainer fortitudes were addicting to Pokémon, and the man twisted that information to his advantage, claiming that the initial hit Pokémon gained made humanity a destructive drug to the Pokémon world.

It wasn’t entirely wrong, but falsely narrated, which was why there was power in the message.  In truth, the effects weren’t nearly as powerful as he claimed them to be, and extended research showed it, but the full details of the matter weren’t important to Ghetsis; he only needed a cause people could believe in.

To his followers, human-kind is a parasite that must be purged, but just like his recruiting tactics, Ghetsis was careful and gentle with such a message.  He drew people closer and closer to fanaticism, guiding them to the idea that only he was capable of righting such wrongs.  One small violent action led to another, turning from protests to riots to re-education camps to produce more zealots to concentration camps for those that refused.

Every rally and hopeful message about allowing Pokémon to return to a life untouched by the toxic human fortitudes hit a place in sympathetic Trainers’ hearts, and he centered on that drive, contorting it beyond recognition.

The bold and righteous ideologues would then blindly go out like drones, carrying his message to more people and Pokémon to be pulled into the slow maelstrom, dragging them bit by bit below the depths of Ghetsis’s ideology until they’d gone too far to return.

On the surface, it was a nonviolent campaign of persuasion and ideas, drawing in dozens of intellectuals and sages to propel his influence further, such as Zinzolin, Giallo, and Ryoku.

Only a few of those individuals broke away from Ghetsis after he was exposed, but most were far too committed to the cause, poisoned by their holy figure’s own toxic ideas; they couldn’t turn back, much like the Pokémon they supposedly fought on behalf of.

However, true to their intelligence, most acted in such a way to maintain plausible deniability, supporting their god by pulling in more support and continuing to serve as rally points for violent Plasma cell leaders to receive training.

Ghetsis was a formidable, cunning opponent that few could get a proper read on, even with aura perception since he was powerful enough to manipulate it as a Low Champion-tier Trainer.

Burgh was utterly taken in by the man, arguing on his behalf that he raised important questions that needed to be explored, even going so far as to try running his Gym without bonded Pokémon, seeking to see how a pre-pokeball Gym might function.

Giovanni only gave Ghetsis’s theories a glancing thought before rejecting the ideological and childish notions; the world was harsh, and trying to create some kind of Pokémon and human utopia was not something he wished to put wasted effort into.

However it was done, civilizing the world would play out as it always had, the strong dominating the weak, which would then make the weak strong as they discover ways to win back the edge.

His life was cruel, and he dealt with life as it had treated him, firming his resolve and getting to work, molding his own future.  If others were too weak to accomplish that, then how would they ever sustain a peaceful utopian world, to begin with?  They couldn’t, and the cycle continued.  Plus, putting your complete trust in a single man was a fool’s game.

Were humans providing intoxicating energy to Pokémon?  Yes.  Were Pokémon providing intoxicating energy to humans?  Yes.  It was a symbiotic relationship, and he had no issues with it; the world was what it was, and he’d manipulate it any way he could to get what he wanted.

The issue came when this cult leader had turned his sights on something he shouldn’t have known about, and that was his current dilemma.

Giovanni’s mind finished processing the motivations behind Plasma’s split leadership by the time Purrfection and Silver completed their thoughts, and he broke the proceeding silence; Ariana and Silver were pondering their own connecting thoughts on what information they’d gathered.

“Ghetsis’s plot was flawless … but it wasn’t by his design.  The irregularities blinded me to his true objective; however, my focus isn’t on why he did it; it’s how he knew about it.  Is there a leak inside the caretaking personnel?”

Silver set his half-empty glass on the table beside his chair, arms folding while slowly shaking his head.  “As far as I’ve been able to identify, there isn’t.  Only three people handle 223, and all of them check out; you vetted them yourself.  Manipulations might be revealed from the mental scan, but given the level of the breach … we’re not dealing with Plasma but another organization.”

Ariana rotated her wrist, red eyes glaring at the shifting liquid in her glass and sending its scent across the room to Giovanni.  “A 10th Floor breach, and of 223 … if the information wasn’t leaked from within the organization, then it was from a researcher on the initial project.  Few would know of its unique ability, though.”

Cremgr sent him a message that his expected guest had arrived; Colress was on his way, and Giovanni gave him temporary access to his private elevator to this floor.  The man descended upon the tower from the Plasma Frigate, barely able to keep its cloak active after the damage Iris had done to it during the night.

He had to get the sensitive parts out of the way before the scientist arrived; Giovanni’s mind was running laps, following the events that lead to this outcome.  “Colress is making his way to the elevator.  We have someone on Lusamine?”

Matori hissed.  “We tried, Master, but the best we have is long-range surveillance; she’s … unstable, which is expected, but the issue is Guzma, hounding anyone that tries to intervene.  Last night’s incident was … difficult for the woman to handle, and she’s spending her time with Guzma in the city, trying to sort things out in her mind.”

“Christie, Bill, and Kukui’s recommendations?”  Ariana inquired.

Silver shifted to face his mother.  “I spoke to Christie before we ate; she’s going over the data with our researchers, but Kukui has been occupied by Gladion and Lillie.  Bill and her confirmed that Lusamie’s entire physiology has taken another shift after Ho-Oh’s actions.  His energy appears to be interacting with the residual parasitic force of the Nihilego.  They’re still compiling the data … it’s just Lusamine isn’t cooperating after her breakdown to run further tests.”

Giovanni ran his hands through his neatly trimmed, close-cut black hair, releasing a hard breath.  “It’s a complicated situation that couldn’t be avoided.”

“You did everything you could to try and fix it,” Ariana offered with a sad smile.  “She just needs to go through the stages of grief.”

“We might not have time to ease her into that,” he mumbled, reaching over to pet Purrfection as he gave a similar response.  “If opening the wounds and allowing her to feel the full weight of her loss will speed up the healing, we should nudge it in that direction.  It won’t be easy on her, but it might be the only path forward to get her cooperation.”

Matori made a sad note in her throat.  “So … move pieces around to allow her to dive headfirst into the deep-end?  I can have some of our agents guide her in that direction from afar, but Guzma’s reactions will be unpredictable once she starts breaking down, and we’ll need to maneuver … Keith, Christie’s husband, might be able to handle it if Lusamine can’t control herself, but…”

Ariana shook her head, nose twisted in a distasteful manner.  “Lusamine’s gone beyond Grandmaster-tier and reached Champion with her fortitudes after being infected by the Nihilego.  She may no longer have any Pokémon, but by physically augmenting her body with her fortitude, she could become a very deadly public threat that would force Police intervention.  She could be taken out of our jurisdiction, and Jenny wouldn’t be compliant.”

“Mmh … Guzma couldn’t handle that level of augmentation,” Silver grunted, shifting uncomfortably, “even from a woman’s weaker form; he’d be in danger himself.”

Giovanni knew why his son was unhappy with the direction things were taking; the only person capable of completely shutting Lusamine down was his wife.

“I hope it doesn’t get to that point, but we have to plan for it.  Lusamine is a danger to not only herself but others, and she could overpower most Pokémon at that tier.  In addition, Guzma would attack any Trainer that tried to subdue her in that fashion, in any case, and put his own body in harm's way.  He’s too sympathetic and attached to her.”

“I get it…”  Silver growled, glaring at the window.  “I don’t have to like it, and Blue’s already returned to Alola.”

Not that he’d offer us any favors…

Their gaze shifted to Ariana as she folded her left arm across her stomach.  “I don’t like it either, Son, but Lyra might be our only option.  Chase could even be at a disadvantage if they squared up; he is more versed in the technique, but she has more raw power, combined with the explosive edge the parasitic energy apparently grants her.”

Giovanni sat straighter as Matori stiffened, drawing everyone else’s attention.  “What is it?”

Matori licked her lips, scanning down a few recent reports.  “There was a … unexpected report just made by Domino … found at the hospital.”

“Domino is back in the region?”  Silver asked, glancing at his mother.

Ariana nodded.  “She completed her mission in Galar last week and was given time to rest, but with the unexpected things happening around Viridian, I called her back to stake out the hospital in case any uninvited guests returned.”

The purple-eyed woman’s expression tightened, vision returning to the tablet.  “A spy is best suited to rooting out spies … she caught Kasa trying to gain access to Lusamine’s data.”

“Kasa,” Giovanni growled, sitting back to fold his hands across his lap; this changed everything.  “The thief … so, that’s how Ghetsis did it … everything’s falling into place.”

Silver’s brow furrowed, glancing between his parents, brooding stares.  “Kasa?  I don’t know that name.”

“Hmm,” Ariana released a low hiss of air.  “She’s a top-tier thief for hire and worked on Project 223 … impersonating a renowned male scientist in our employ that she’d kidnapped and killed.  Kasa was an unprecedented spy … even before her transformation.  It’s a miracle Domino noticed her, yet if it were anyone, it would be her; Kasa is the girl’s idol.

“However, I’m not seeing the connecting dots between Kasa and Ghetsis; she already had Project 223’s data, double-crossing her client and killed him, from what I understand, and used it to become … whatever she is today.  She was trying to access Lusamine’s data, which means after stealing 223, she doubled back to gain further information.”

Her red irises lifted to Giovanni.  “Are we sure Ghetsis is behind the abduction if Kasa was involved?  She’s been operating as a public figure for some time now, using her skills to infiltrate and manipulate the Societea non-profit organization to some end in Oblivia.”

Giovanni thought about it for a moment and nodded.  “Kasa already has the data on 223, and she’s gone even further with it, applying the research to herself.  Ghetsis would no doubt want 223, and Kasa wants something he can grant her; besides, she’s one of the few free-lance contractors in the world that would target Rocket.”

His black eyes lifted to Matori.  “I assume she escaped?”

“Sadly, yes,” Matori sighed, “Domino couldn’t make a scene where they were, and Kasa is far too dangerous given her abilities to handle within a public space; she sent the report and tried to follow, but naturally, she slipped into the crowd without a trace.  They exchanged pleasantries … Kasa poked at Domino’s past and tried to get her to go solo.”

Giovanni would have preferred she had made a scene, despite the casualties that would have followed, but she wasn’t operating with the appropriate information to make that decision.

He sat back with an agitated growl.  “With Kasa as the delivery agent, Ghetsis will get 223 without question, even in an IP Maximum Security Prison.”

There wasn’t anything he could do about it.  Ghetsis had cornered him; it wasn’t a situation he’d experienced often in his life, but Kasa was the link that made this possible, meaning something much bigger was in the works, and this had been planned for a very long time.  It just so happened that one miscalculation had utterly thrown him into a loop and launched Ghetsis’s plot toward success—Lusamine.

The woman had drawn Ho-Oh’s actions, raised his security in areas Ghetsis wasn’t trying to penetrate; although, that increased scrutiny had given him Kasa’s involvement, which was a stroke of luck.

By dangling Zinzolin, Iris had come running, causing tension between Ethan and her, forcing his absence, and drawing his stationed Pokémon with him.  Mixed with Lyra being forced to protect Amira, pulling her away from the city, Skull’s presence drawing Jenny’s eye, manipulating Colress into the area to further attract the League’s notice … there had been too many variables.

It was a flawless combination to completely snatch Giovanni’s attention.

His vision turned to the door as Colress was guided in; the man had a smile that he shouldn’t be feeling.  “I appreciate the warnings and invitation, Giovanni,” he greeted.  “Ariana, Silver,” he added, “a lovely evening.”

When he sat, Giovanni pondered the direction he had to take; it was time to choose, and he didn’t like his options.  The best way to handle it would be silence if he wished to avoid blowback, and Ghetsis gave him that option to tell the League, which was a trap.  The moment he leaked the information of 223 to the United League, Giovanni’s allegiances would be sure, and Ghetsis would have evidence to spread to the underground.

His legendary credentials among the criminal circles would evaporate overnight, and much of the protection he enjoyed from that reputation could be in jeopardy, harming his family … his vulnerable granddaughter.  There was only one option, and it was now sitting across from him; Ghetsis had forced him to go into an underworld war.

“Colress … how are the damages?”

The man chuckled.  “A lot less severe than they could have been had you not warned me of Iris discovering our location; her using that mock battle with Ethan to aim an attack at us without our instrument’s notice was brilliant.  Of course, the girl has continued to surpass all my expectations.”

Silver frowned, red eyes darting between them while readjusting his long red hair, falling to his lap.  “You are cooperating with the United League; why would Iris attack you when she is a part of it?”

Colress turned his yellow eyes to him with a curious smile; the man had run so many experiments on himself to improve his own fortitudes that it had changed his hair and eyes.  He was the only scientist in the world to have replicated a process similar to the parasite Ultra Beast, yet went about it by a completely different method and with much less drastic results.

“Hmm … yes, well, Iris has had a very … colorful history with Plasma, and honestly cares little for the deal Alder made with me.  She tolerates my work but has shown no issues with showing me my place.  Iris is a very wild and imperious girl that might have inherited the Defiant Ability from the … experiments gained from generations past.”  He theorized, taking out a tablet from his large lab coat pocket.

“The Dragon Clans have a very obscure history, which is one of many side projects I hope to crack as they are the only ones able to accelerate Dragon Pokémon’s evolutionary progress to such a marvelous extent…”

“Fascinating,” Giovanni cut in; he would have enjoyed Colress sending his data to his scientists to explore or go over, but he didn’t have time for the man’s obsessive scientific explanations.  “Colress, what do you suppose Ghetsis’s goal was?”

“Hmm … obviously not gaining Zinzolin back, given that Iris came herself to snatch him up with her claws, which made me think he had some alternative plan in Unova while drawing her away, yet nothing of significant importance has come from my contacts.  I hope you found my message about Iris on the transport helpful?”

Giovanni’s legs crossed the opposite way, and he nodded.  “It gave me time to maneuver Ethan into an agreeable mood to not escalate things further, and I believe her addition to the transport was a calculated play on Ghetsis’s part to draw more chaos from Ethan meeting the Unova Champion.”

“They do have rather conflicting personalities,” Colress replied.  “I came in hopes of warning you of Ghetsis’s plays in your city and offering my help if needed, yet I became the one in desperate need of your assistance.  A miscalculation on my part by underestimating Iris’s wrath for my part in the attack on Opelucid City and the casualties therein.”

“Indeed,” Ariana mumbled, working on her second glass of wine.  “To the point, though … Ghetsis’s plan to recover Zinzolin is still underway, yet we failed to understand his true target … Rocket.”

Colress’s left eye lifted, vision shifting to Giovanni.  “Consider me enthralled,” he stated, leaning forward with excitement in his yellow eyes.  “I can understand his desire to usurp your authority, Giovanni; Ghetsis is an egomaniacal cult leader that truly believes the world belongs in his self-righteous hands.  However, making an open enemy of you is not an action the Ghetsis I knew would take until he gained that ultimate power.  What has changed?”

Giovanni closed his eyes, taking a deep breath before looking at Colress.  “You know about the Mewtwo Project?”

“Mmh … you have kept that savory data under lock and key.  I would love to say yes, and that I had seen the project files myself, yet I cannot.

“If you had opened the project to me, I would advance dozens of groundbreaking research.  I have gone to great lengths to even locate the scientists that were on the program, alas, all but two are either dead or had their minds erased, and I cannot get my hands on the survivors.”

Giovanni focused on the scientist; Colress’s posture had shifted with interest as the conversation’s direction changed.  There was a reason why Giovanni never repeated the project.

“Mewtwo made certain that most wouldn’t have the chance to recreate the process after his female counterpart was created,” Giovanni replied.  “That being said, a large number of programs were developed from that experiment, one among them resulting in the creation of Ditto by the failed attempts at cloning Mew’s DNA.”

Colress nodded.  “I was only recently able to find my own little Ditto, given their rarity after you made a concentrated effort to consolidate the market.”

Giovanni’s eyes narrowed, glaring at the park through the glass walls.  “Selling them was a mistake … they granted too much power.”

“Heh, yes, a lot of terrible incidents came from the various Ditto you sold twenty years ago, but most died from genetic issues within that time.  They all are flawed in some manner, though, which is fascinating; some have survived for me to conduct further research.”

Colress’s vision narrowed.  “Although, what does Ghetsis, Mewtwo, and Ditto have in common?”  He mused.  “Ditto is indeed very valuable, but they all have drawbacks.”

“Most have drawbacks,” Ariana mumbled, taking another sip of her wine.  “Ghetsis used the chaos across Viridian, Saffron, and within our organization in regards to Lusamine in order to steal 223 … a Ditto that has perfect transformation and is fully compliant with anyone that bonds with it, having no side effects from being unbound.”

“Excuse me?”  Colress mumbled in shock, pushing his glasses up, yellow irises widening.  “A Ditto with perfect transformation?  Explain.”

Giovanni folded his fingers in his lap, giving the man a cold stare.  “223 was developed primarily using breakthrough research when Christie worked for Rocket and utilized her advanced knowledge of genetics, gained through the Mewtwo Project, with her mentor, a brilliant scientist that was murdered after overseeing most of the plan’s competition.

“223 can transform into any Pokémon, object, human, or whatever the bonded Trainer desires if they have enough energy to grant it; one touch, and it can replicate a human’s memories and personality.  The one drawback is that 223’s Energy Core is just as malleable as its Trainer, meaning it requires an outside power source, like a Trainer’s fortitudes or a machine, in order to transform.”

“Heh … ha-ha-ha-ha!”  Colress began chuckling until it grew to full laughter.  “Drawback … drawback?  That’s not a drawback, Giovanni, that’s the gold egg … the prize … a link I’ve been trying to understand for years!  And you’ve had it all along,” he clapped.

“Giovanni, we must be more open with one another; with the resources you put into research and development, connections, and … oh, oh, heh, I’m getting ahead of myself,” he mused, sitting back while regaining his controlled demeanor.

“Ahem,” his yellow irises shifted between the Rocket family’s stoic expressions, “right.  Ghetsis has 223 … I love that number now … hmm … ah, so … he plans his return, which puts my position at risk.  You have called me here to warn me of Ghetsis breaking out of prison.  I’m touched, Giovanni,” he commented, bringing up his tablet to swiftly play with it.

Matori wasn’t a fan of the man’s swing from excentric to controlled behavior.

Giovanni allowed him to continue making plans and sending instructions to his men above his tower; Colress’s passion was the way to pull him in, but he could never fully trust a man that was so easily swayed by the meat of scientific fancy.  This was the kind of man that would destroy the world to prove his thesis was correct.

Colress’s eyes sparkled.  “Although, I suppose you had no choice; I’m the only ally you can rely on, it seems.  Ghetsis must have suspected you had connections in the United League that could halt him and promptly cut that off.  You need someone that knows the inside of Plasma.

“Of course, I’ve already labeled myself a criminal in the eyes of Ghetsis, having betrayed him once before to regain control over the science division and its resources.  The fear of me rejoining him is off the table.  He knows I would have been pulled to you, putting a target on my back.  Ghetsis isn’t a fool to think he could keep his actions hidden from you for long…”

A broad smile lit his face again.  “Ah … he’s determined enough to go to war with Skull, me, N, the United League, and you … oh-ho-ho, this is getting exciting!  223 offers such a massive advantage … he could impersonate anyone … get anything … go anywhere.

“Oh, but the data I stand to gain is … more than adequate for that risk and the lives of my fellows.  You wish to regain 223, correct, and then allow me my shot with it … to understand its secrets?”

Giovanni kept his emotionless gaze upon the thrilled scientist; working with Colress would be much easier than any of the other options at his disposal.  He had to get ahead of this, and that meant throwing in his hat with a person he knew, and this man’s inner motivations were acceptable since he could guide those actions.

“Ghetsis being free concerns me,” he stated.  “His grab for power would include overtaking me, given time, and he’s shown the nerve to attack my headquarters already.  However, I cannot act so openly while he has 223.  I need your inside spy network to lock down his position and get 223 back; his next move is Unova, retrieving Zinzolin by simply walking him out with 223.”

A controlled grin returned to the man’s lips as he rose, walking over to hold out his hand.  “Then that is where we start.”

Giovanni rose to his feet, taking the man’s hand.  Ariana and Silver kept their peace, but he’d need to go over detailed plans with them after Colress left.  It was more than just his name and life on the line; Amira would be in danger if his connection to the United Indigo League was revealed.

“I look forward to working with you, Giovanni,” Colress stated, breaking away to swiftly return to his airship.  “We’ll accomplish great things in the future!  Hehe, I can taste the discoveries.”

“I’ll be in touch.”

Giovanni watched him leave, hands clasped behind his back; Matori was already sending orders throughout Rocket’s network, directing operatives to various tasks in preparation for the information war and tactical diversionary moves that needed to be taken.

He planned on sending Rocket scientists aboard his vessel; Rocket could gain valuable technology data from it, and Colress would be more than willing, given what Giovanni was offering the man in return for his aid.

Colress would jump him back into this game and give Rocket a way to fight Ghetsis’s return to power.  Giovanni wouldn’t make it easy on the man.

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