Chapter 1: A Dream Stolen
1:21 AM: I woke up to a CRASH of shattering glass and then the CRUNCH of boots on the shards. I threw on my clothes and pulled on my boots. I knew better than to encounter broken glass with my feet unprotected. I crept into Papa’s bedroom to wake him, but he was gone. Already investigating the disturbance, I thought.
I hurried down the hall to where the house met the research center. Hearing voices inside that weren’t Papa’s, I sneaked to the doorway and opened the door just a crack. Nothing could have prepared me for what then met my eyes. The research center had been trashed. Papers littered the floor, and broken glass was scattered everywhere. Papa was already confronting a group of five men in black uniforms, who were standing by the computer console. The intruders I couldn’t see clearly, but they were faintly illuminated by a pale beam of moonlight. Their arms were crossed, and they all smirked arrogantly. One by one, they turned towards us.
The tallest of them spoke. His voice rung with a haughty tone. “Ah, Doctor Roberts. So nice to see you.” He smiled, but the smile never reached his dark eyes. “We are here on a mission to ‘confiscate dangerous research’. Dangerous, that is, for you. This research that we seek is on the rare ‘Diamond Onix’ phenomenon. If you give us this, we may decide not to harm you.”
“Never!” Papa replied, angrily. “ Even if I did have any research about this so-called ‘Diamond Onix’, I would never, ever reveal such prized information to a criminal gang.”
Be careful, Papa, I thought, knowing my father would go to any length to keep his knowledge out of the wrong hands.
“Oh, Roberts, Roberts, Roberts. . . “ Tall Man chuckled wickedly. “Why must you be more stubborn than a Rhydon? I’m sure that you have this research somewhere.”
“I’m telling you, I don’t!” snapped Papa. “I had just received a letter from Dr. Harrison of Pewter City, revealing conformation to the rumors of the Diamond Onix. We were preparing to leave for Pewter City.”
“We will save you the walking. Our mission, should you be unwilling to comply with our orders, is to transport you to our Headquarters.” Papa made as if to run, but Tall Man gave a snap of his fingers and two grunts tackled Papa, holding his hands down behind his back. Tall Man shook his head. “Oh, Roberts, you’ve always been a difficult man. But not to worry, I believe you’ll rather enjoy your vacation. I hear Saffron City’s beautiful this time of year. . .”
I turned to flee and alert Officer Jenny, but my footsteps were not silent on the hard tile. Before I could scream, the other two grunts grabbed me, and one clamped a gloved hand over my mouth. I was dragged into the research center, kicking all the way. Tall Man towered over me. “Oh, Roberts, I had almost forgotten you had a daughter. My, she is the picture of her mother, isn’t she? Well, I’m sure we can put her to work in our grand scheme. Yes, I believe she’ll make the perfect trap for our friend the Diamond Onix. . .”
I tried to cry out to Papa, but the hand was still clamped tightly over my mouth. “Let her go! She has nothing to do with this! Annie!” Papa pleaded desperately. Those were the last words I remember before something dark and sweet-smelling was pressed against my face. I fought with less and less strength as the chloroform took effect. I just couldn’t struggle any more; my head was feeling lighter and lighter, until, suddenly, everything went black.
I was conscious again. Not completely, but at least I could think, a little. Snapshots of memories swirled in my head as I tried to piece everything back together. The research center. Books and papers strewn about. Papa yelling at someone. Being put to sleep. Diamond Onix. It was coming back now. Papa and I had been captured by someone trying to steal Papa’s research on the Diamond Onix. That must be it.
I tried to open my eyes, but they wouldn’t open. I’m still half-asleep, I thought. I wondered where Papa was, and felt frustrated that I didn't know. I felt so helpless, so vulnerable. Where am I, I thought. Am I in Saffron City yet? I wanted to sit up, but I felt almost paralyzed. Wake up, I silently pleaded with myself.
Suddenly, a light snapped on above me. Even though my eyes were already shut, they closed even more tightly in response to the bright glare just on the other side of the lids.
“Get up,” ordered a contralto female voice. A somewhat heavy, but soft, object hit my stomach with a thud. I groaned at the impact. “I said get up,” the voice repeated. “It won’t due to keep the Boss waiting.”
I struggled to sit up and rubbed my eyes. At last I could open my eyes and take in my surroundings. I was sitting on a cot in the corner of a small, gray room. The door had one, small, barred window. A tall, formidable-looking woman with sea-green hair was leaned in the doorway, a pouting expression on her lips. I looked down at the bundle that had just been dropped in my lap. It was my traveling bag, the one I had packed the previous afternoon in anticipation of traveling to Pewter City.
I glanced at the woman, who now appeared to be studying her fingernails, or would be if she wasn’t wearing gloves, in surprise. “Don’t think we’d send you on a trip without your bag,” she smirked.
“A. . .trip?” I asked, now frightened more than ever. This couldn’t be good.
“I can’t give you all the details myself, but I’m sure the Boss will fill you in. Just get ready to go.”
The cell had a small sink, so I washed my face and brushed my hair, as best I could without a mirror. Then Scary Lady, as I called her in my mind, led me down a hall, into an elevator, then down another hall. When we reached a large door, Scary Lady knocked. Silence followed for a moment, then a voice spoke from a speaker above the door: “The Boss will see you now.”
The door slid open silently. I was ushered by two grunts into a large, dark-walled chamber. I saw Papa, in handcuffs, held by yet another grunt, on one side of the room. Directly in front of me was a large dark gray desk. The man sitting at it was wearing a green jacket with two rows of brass buttons, one on each side. He was clean shaven and had brown hair, combed perfectly, not a hair out of place. I recognized him as the former Viridian City Gym Leader, Giovanni.
He spoke. “Ah, Annie. It was nice of you to join us. Sit down, and we will talk.”
“I’ll stand, thank you.” I replied, my voice shaking. I was determined not to show fear despite the pounding of my heart.
I felt a hand clamp on my shoulder, long, stiletto nails digging in, painfully. Scary Lady hissed menacingly into my ear. “When Boss Giovanni tells you to sit, you sit. Now!”
I had no choice, really. I chose a chair and sat. Giovanni continued as if nothing happened. “We have heard rumors that your father, Doctor Roberts, has been, or soon will be studying a rare and unusual Onix. He appears to have no real information, only rumors and reports sent in by anonymous people, so we will have to send someone into the field to study it. It would never do to send uniformed grunts into the field. One might notice them, but if, say a girl, like you were to go out to study it, no questions are likely to be raised. Annie, will you do this for us?”
“You want me to study a Pokemon for you?” I was incredulous. “Why would I work for a gang that would hurt a Pokemon as soon as look at it? You probably want the information so you can do bad things!”
Scary Lady shot me a mean look, but I ignored her.
Giovanni chuckled. “Annie, as stubborn as her headstrong father. I admire a strong will, particularly in my lieutenants. They won’t give in or quit. But this stubbornness of yours will only end up hurting yourself or your father.” I saw Giovanni open a Pokeball. I made to cry out, but was too late. A Zubat flew out to perch on Papa’s shoulder. “If you won’t willingly go collect the information I want, then this Zubat will bite your father. Zubat, be ready to use Leech Life!”
I went to help Papa, but Scary Lady gripped me in a headlock, just in front of Papa. I struggled and bit, but to no avail. I called out. “I’ll go, Papa. I’ll collect the information they demand. I can’t let them hurt you.” I choked back a sob. Papa brushed a tear from my cheek with his thumb.
“My brave girl, my Annie,” Papa smiled, the corners of his eyes crinkling. “Always ready to help. To find the answers we seek, consult Dr. Harrison in Pewter City. He should be able to provide information on the Diamond Onix’s whereabouts.”
I nodded, still sniffling. Scary Lady loosened her hold on me. I broke free and wrapped my arms around Papa, for a brief moment, before Scary Lady and a grunt dragged me from the room.