She awoke on a marble floor. Nearby, a trace of scented ashes wafted from an extinguished marble brazier. Pierce was by her side, and was the only one who seemed to notice she had woken. The rest of the room was chaos. White-garbed students ran this way and that, yammering exclamations. No less than three were holding up Sabrina and trying to usher her out of the room. Two more attended her Alakazam, who was out cold.
“Wha–” Fi heard herself blurt. Her head ached dully. “How–” She propped herself up on her elbows, shocked to see that one, no, all of the walls in the little chamber were now fragmented shards on the ground.
Mirrors. Shattered mirrors.
“It was the incense,” Pierce said. “It was supposed to put you in a trance or something. But Sabrina didn’t count on your heightened sense of smell and you passed out before she could explain.”
A laugh burst out of her. She sank back down on the cool marble, aware of her tired muscles that were no longer frail and useless. Aware of her sharp claws that were leaving little grooves in the floor’s surface. And aware of the thrum in her head. Its sound was no longer invasive or threatening but part of her. Like a heartbeat. This was the power no one could take from her. No one could stop it. Not her parents. Not Sabrina. And definitely not the boss’s useless so-called heir.
Pierce was still rambling. “–then you screamed, and the entire room shattered. Was that… a Perish Song?”
She didn’t reply. Instead, her laugh escalated until her chest ached and tears leaked from her eyes. The sound echoed eerily around the chamber, turning almost frenzied. It was, to put things mildly, immensely satisfying.
Sabrina stood in the Pokémon recovery room, looking over the bed where her Alakazam lay. The white wall tiles glittered with cleanliness; the floor smelled of lemon-scented chemicals. Alakazam’s eyes slowly flickered open, and it turned its large head to meet her eyes.
“Alakazam… Ala…?” it said, confused. What hit me? Sabrina heard telepathically.
She sighed and shook her head. A Perish Song attack, she replied in her mind. Launched by a human.
Alakazam’s eyes widened in disbelief. Not that it distrusted her. It knew as well as she that lying through telepathy was near impossible. And their bond was too great for falsehoods. But even so, the reality of what it had witnessed was difficult to grasp. Sabrina struggled with it herself. It was one thing to know in theory what someone possessing Pokémon powers was capable of. Quite another to see it in person.
So… this is the power you want for yourself? Alakazam asked, interrupting her thoughts.
Sabrina nodded. Yes. There’s no more hesitation for me. I want to take my abilities to the next level. I want… She locked eyes with her Pokémon, the creature who had stood by her side through all her struggles. Even when her father had run off in fear of her. Even when all her friends had abandoned her. I want to be the strongest trainer I can for you. Your equal.
You already are, Alakazam said with a smile. But if this is your desire, you know you have my support.
Sabrina gave a nod. “I’ll contact Fi and Pierce right away, then.” She raised her hand to levitate the phone towards her, only to find Alakazam had already done so. She nodded her thanks and plucked the device from the air.
Sabrina spoke to Pierce first. All pleasantries. She apologized for misjudging how quickly her incense would affect Fiora. She thanked them both for the powerful demonstration of what a merger could accomplish. And she told Pierce to make sure Giovanni contacted her as soon as possible.
She almost hung up the phone there. But when she heard a muffled second voice in the background, she couldn’t resist pointing it out. “If your fellow agent is available, I’d like to speak to her as well, please.”
There was a bit of static as the phone exchanged hands. Sabrina could hear the whirling of a helicopter’s blades becoming louder and louder in the background. So they were leaving already, were they? That certainly didn’t take long.
“Speaking,” came Fi’s dazed voice.
“How are you feeling?” Sabrina asked.
Fi muttered something in coherent in reply.
“Pardon?” Sabrina asked politely.
“I feel like I got hit by a truck,” Fi said. “But… surprisingly better than I did before coming here. Agent Pierce tells me you found the demonstration… enlightening.”
Sabrina smiled, an excitement flickering in her chest. “Indeed. I wish you a full and speedy recovery and thank you for your assistance.”
“Not a problem,” Fi assured her. Her voice sounded gleeful and distant all at once. “Not a problem at all…” And with that, the line went silent.
Fi closed the phone, stepped into the helicopter, and immediately collapsed from exhaustion. After their hasty retreat from Sabrina’s gym, her manic adrenaline had ebbed away, leaving her completely drained.
Pierce took his time prepping for takeoff, careful to keep the noise down as Fi snored softly from the back seat behind him. More than once he found himself glancing back, drawn by her hypnotic breathing. An old habit from when she was ill. So many times he caught himself paying extra close attention to her every breath. Just to be sure.
After a while, he found Sabrina’s words also nagging at his mind. She had sounded so certain… completely positive that he and Fi were meant to be more than just friends.
It left him full of strange feelings.
The fact was, he actually had considered asking Fi to be more than friends. Many times if he was truly honest with himself. She had always seen him as more than some punk street kid or petty criminal. She had pushed him to get where he was in Team Rocket. And he had come to love her for it. But he had kept finding excuses to back off. Before the merger it was easy. Fi had told him not to get too close, and he was determined to respect her wishes. But now? Now she had a full life ahead of her. And he wanted to be part of it.
He shifted his gaze when she stirred, realizing with embarrassment that he had been watching her sleep for a solid ten minutes when he should have been concentrating on getting them home.
His eyes went back to the GPS, and he began to program their course into the auto-pilot. His fingers froze when his eye caught a bright blue mountain display and a familiar name.
Mount Silver. Fi’s always wanted to visit there.
He drummed his fingers in temptation. He’d be breaking protocol. Enough to earn him a red flag and a pay cut. On the other hand, his merger serum was successful. They had snagged Brock, Misty and now Sabrina. If that didn’t constitute a little break time, nothing did.
“Planning a trip?” Fi’s voice broke the quiet, jolting Pierce like a well-aimed Thunderbolt. His hand jerked across the controls, quickly shifting the screen view.
“No. Why would you say that?”
She chuckled. “You’re such a bad liar. Always have been.”
“Humph.” Pierce felt the back of his neck warm, but he kept his eyes steady on the GPS as Fi scooted up into the passenger seat. She reached over her head, stretching and yawning as loudly as a Snorlax before buckling herself in.
“It’s just as well. I’d actually like to take a quick detour, if you don’t mind.”
“Oh?” Pierce arched one eyebrow. “To where?”
“A Poké Shop. Preferably one that sells Ultra Balls. ‘Course I’ll have to borrow your license just this once. Until I get the application sorted. And get the boss to sign off.”
“Ah.” He nodded his understanding, a little smile creeping onto his face. “I think that can be arranged.” He would make sure it would be, in fact. He tapped his fingers on the dash as a new idea came to him. Reaching for his belt, he tried to quell the Butterfrees fluttering in his stomach as he plucked a Poké Ball free and extended it to her. “In that case… here.” The Butterfree sensation soared up into his chest when he saw the emotion work across her face. “A loan,” he said. “Until you catch a team for yourself.”
Fi’s eyes watered, which surprised him. And her too, judging from the awkward blush that pinked her cheeks as she rubbed her eyes.
Pierce pretended not to notice and quickly filled the silence. “I know it’s not your typical starter, but he’s fond of you, and I know he’ll follow your commands.”
Fi took Absol’s Poké Ball in her clawed hand, staring at it with a trainer’s affection. “Thank you, Pierce,” she said at last. Her throat caught just a bit. “You really are too good to me.”
He shrugged, moving his attention back to the controls to hide his smile. “I suppose I’m just a sentimental fool that way.”
Sabrina hadn’t even heard half a ring before Giovanni picked up the phone. Funny. It was almost like he expected her to call and was looking forward to it.
“So, what did you think?” he asked by way of a greeting. She always could count on the man to be blunt.
“I admit, I am impressed,” she replied. “Consider me convinced. When can you arrive?”
His pause was quick but deliberate. Probably to give the illusion he hadn’t plotted every angle of the conversation ahead of time. “Our equipment is stationed here. If you were to travel to Viridian–”
“I’m afraid I must insist on doing the procedure here. Gym responsibilities and all. Surely you understand.”
He grunted. “Very well. We will prepare our equipment for travel. I can be there in a week with my staff. Does this suit your needs?”
Sabrina looked over at the calendar. The day she had already planned for Gladion to arrived was circled in thick red pen. Good to know her precognition skills had not let her down. Even if she was only human. “It suits me just fine,” she said. “See you then.” And she hung up the phone before she had to a chance to second guess herself.