Chapter 18: The Silph CorporationEdit
Eight days had passed. The speculation about Zapdos had long since become fifth-page news. It was now late in the evening, mere half an hour before the time Ash could expect Team Rocket to begin. Ash had spent the entire time training his telekinetic powers, including that of bending metal objects.
“Okay everyone,” said Ash while they were in an uninhabited part of the forest, “let’s try a psychically coordinated attack once more.” As Ash knew from reading back at the Viridian library and from practice with his pokemon, they were all able to hear what he was thinking, even if Charmeleon and Cloyster had no ability to reply telepathically, much less try to open up a channel of communication by themselves.
((Charmander, flamethrower. Cloyster, shoot a spike into its path at the tree right there, so that it comes out all fiery and heated up. Kirlia, redirect the spike so that it shoots at the other tree right behind me.))
And that was exactly what happened, without any flaw in teamwork.
Ash had long ago realized just how extensive the uses were for the ability he now possessed. For it gave him an immense advantage over his opponents. Even as his pokemon were in their pokeballs, he would be able to instruct them on their first action, without the opponent even having an inkling of what was going on. And then he could summon them out and they would immediately attack just the way he wanted them to.
Though the complicated commands were still quite off, much like radio static interfering with the communication. It was yet going to take some more work.
“Great work! Now, let’s do some final practice in preparation for defeating Team Rocket.” The next moment Kirlia smiled, drilling into his mind and confusing him utterly for a short while. “Huh? What am I doing here? Was I doing something illegal? I forfeit!” said Ash abruptly, causing his pokemon to burst out into laughter.
Ash glared at them. He had gotten quite used to the prospect of having his Kirlia fuddle with his mind; however, it never ceased to bother him. The very thought that his Kirlia could take control of his mind for an indefinite period of time was enough to make him want to improve his own mental faculties. “Whatever, do whatever training you want, or if you really want to, have a day off. I’m going to develop my own psychic abilities now.” Staring intently at what he knew was a fifty-pound Kirlia, he willed it to slam into the tree behind it.
The Kirlia knew what he wanted to have happen, however, and was incredibly indignant. It set its arms akimbo and tramped off, making as much a thumping noise as it could with its light weight.
Ash turned to his silverware set and decided that maybe it would be better to start with the basics. Trying to use kinesis on something organic – such as most pokemon – would be an incredibly tough challenge for someone fated to reach no higher than – was it a lvl. 33, or 38? – Kadabra’s psychic capacity. Surely conductive metals were easier to work with, and the steel in his silverware would make that very simple. He had already twisted a gun on-the-spot back at Celadon City, and this was a long time later.
In five seconds he had bent ten spoons. In five more seconds he had bent them all back again. Now they all looked doubly bent, not un-bent, and the crooked outlines of the silverware reminded Ash of trying to fold a paper first this way and then back again. The crease was still there.
“Next,” thought Ash. He figured that using a potion sprayer from afar would be rather useful. He set a bottle, with spray attached, onto the ground, and willed it upward. It rocked a bit, before flipping over. Pathetic, he thought to himself.
It was now getting very close to the time that Team Rocket would plan its infiltration of Silph Co. In the meantime Ash had already warned both the police and Silph Co. of his foreknowledge. So supposedly they both had taken actions to protect the company secrets. How well that would work, he would soon find out.
Because he was going to stage an infiltration into Silph Co. as well.
Silph Co. was located in Saffron City’s tallest skyscraper, some two hundred stories tall, but it didn’t operate on them all. The vast majority of the floors were leased out to other businesses. Which also meant that simply staging guards at the entrance to the building would accomplish nothing. So naturally, no guards stopped him from walking into the imposing behemoth.
The first floor was mostly empty, with an information desk, plenty of seats, booths for buying pokeballs at their standard price (now 206.99), and an immensely large pool in the middle, complete with a trio of variously shaped fountains. The floor was kept constantly in a state of impeccable cleanliness, so that he could see the stainless-steel wall surfaces reflected through the floor panels. A massive crystal chandelier and brilliant shop-lights hung from the ceiling gave the room a very upbeat feeling; windows from all sides made it seem natural too; and red carpets and gold-plated plaques and decoration brought it regal glamour. There were very few customers loitering around in this lobby. The entire first floor was made to be impressive, not useful, and businesspeople and researchers constantly used the dozen elevators scattered about the building to get from one place to another.
“Hello there, may I be of service to you?” asked the receptionist sweetly as Ash approached the information desk.
“Ah yes, I would like to get a copy of the company’s annual report to the shareholders,” said Ash, appearing entirely confident of what he was doing.
The receptionist shot him suspicious eyes. “I’m sorry, but we don’t have them available here.”
“That’s inconvenient,” said Ash. “Well in that case I would like to go upstairs to the office of someone who does have this information.”
“Actually, you can’t go up there,” replied the receptionist hastily.
“And why is that?” queried Ash with a slight smile on his face.
Because we’ve been having reports of trouble brewing, so I’m supposed to not let others know what’s going on. The fewer strangers who get access to the Silph Co. floors near the top of the building, the better. “You can’t simply barge in and get the annual report, you know what I mean?”
Ash kept himself from laughing at this pitiful attempt to say one thing and think another. “Oh? And why can’t I?”
“Let’s just get this over with, or else you’ll be wasting both of our time.”
“Well, because I don’t have the authority to give you a copy of the report,” replied the receptionist at last and with a barely inaudible sigh.
“Ah, so now the truth comes out, you can’t,” muttered Ash smugly. “Then this won’t have much to do with you. I demand to be brought over to someone in the company with the authority to do so.”
“Pardon my asking, but like, who are you? Strangers can’t simply burst in through the door and demand to know company information like this,” the receptionist protested defensively.
“Excuse me, but I’m not just any stranger,” said Ash as he held up a document. “I’m a shareholder. I’m an owner of this company. That makes me partly your boss. Now get me the information I want, or else some manager is going to get unhappy that simple matters weren’t taken care of.”
“Oh, all right,” the receptionist gave in at last, and told the other one to take over for her. “I’ll take you to the manager.” She led the way to the nearest elevator, and they went in. “By the way, how many shares of our company do you own, that you are so eager to find out about our report?” Evidently Ash’s youth was incredibly unimpressive.
“Just one,” said Ash with a conceited smile as he put his document back in his back-pack.
The receptionist just sighed, resigned to wasting her time doing such a pointless task. She clearly had no idea that while Ash had gone long on a single stock, he had gone short on 50 of them. So the worse the report sounded, the better it was for Ash’s wallet.
“But if you were so eager to find out about us, how come you didn’t come in to ask about two months earlier, when I actually had that authority?” The moment she said this, she realized how pathetic it sounded, and blushed as Ash cocked his head in amusement. Ash didn’t bother to answer; instead, he looked out the elevator window. The nearby buildings which occluded view of the rest of downtown were sinking right before his eyes. His ears hurt from the speed at which the elevator was moving. Outside, the tops of the other buildings were below him. Even further below, the cars and people were as ants and aphids.
“Here we are,” said the receptionist, inserting her work badge, which doubled as a card key, into a slot on the elevator. The polished-steel doors opened, revealing two guards standing on either side, alert, with their guns at the ready. On their belts were pokeballs, holding those faithful allies which would be useful in any firefight. Not too bad, thought Ash. But I wonder how they would fare against a foe who can simply teleport throughout the building, sidestepping guard and lock alike?
((Kirlia,)) he said to the psychic pokemon sitting on his shoulder, ((teleport us.))
((Kirlia did you hear me?))
((Of course I did. We can’t teleport in this entire building.))
Now this is more like it, thought Ash. Now those Team Rocket people will be hard pressed to navigate this place and steal all the secrets… But still, that puts me at a disadvantage too. If someone decides to catch me then I won’t be able to get away.
They entered one of the innumerable offices in the building. Due to good planning, it was small but felt spacious. At the desk, right beside computer, sat who must be the manager, decked out in a black pin-striped suit. “Sir, I’ve brought up a shareholder who wants a copy of our annual report,” said the receptionist curtly.
The manager looked up from his duties. “Why, this is but a kid!” he exclaimed. Ash promptly ignored the man's rude, though very true, statement. Even the receptionist didn’t dare say that to my face. I’ll see how his attitude is when Team Rocket’s through… Ash smiled wryly. “Ahem, excuse me. A stockholder is of course entitled to seeing our annual report,” he stated as he rummaged though a drawer and quickly drew out a stack of documents with the cover ‘letter from the president’.
“Ah yes, this is what I wanted to obtain, thank you,” Ash said as he took the report. “Oh, and since I’m here, what’s with all the precautions? Is there some risk going on?”
“Very good question,” replied the manager, stalling for time to come up with a suitable answer. “We at Silph Co. are very wary about any chances competitors may have for stealing our company secrets. That’s the same secrets that’s going to make your share of the company shoot through the roof,” he emphasized. “I’m sure you’ll agree that the precautions are absolutely necessary for your own financial benefit. There is, however, no need for concerns. Nobody is going to be able to steal the company secrets, especially the Capstone Algorithm that is so critical to the development of the master ball… Everything is safe around here. Your money is safe with us.”
Yeah, right, thought Ash wryly, in more ways than one. Of course the public relations manager had better have a smooth tongue and be swift at convincing me of the safety of this company. But just how well protected is this secret? He immediately opened a channel with the manager’s mind, even as he continued speaking normally, “Ah yes, that answers one doubt that I have had…”
Suddenly an alarm right next to the manager went off. The blaring caused Ash to back out of the psychic connection, and the next moment the alarm was silent. The manager too was taken by surprise, but he evidently knew what the blaring meant. He turned to face Ash with a disappointed and unhappy expression. “I don’t think prying into my mind is such a good idea, young man,” he said, detaching a pokeball from his belt in what was evidently a threatening gesture.
A Chimecho appeared, suspended in the air. An incredibly light pokemon, it was the form of a wind chime with a porcelain-like ball on the end. From his months of studies, Ash immediately knew this to be a psychic pokemon, and now Ash was a bit worried. “I… think I need to go to the restroom,” he told both the manager and the receptionist, and dashed out of the room, but not before the Chimecho had entered his mind. Ash attempted to erect a psychic wall, but it was no contest. Within a split second the Chimecho had broken it down with the mental equivalent of a battering ram. His mind fell, ricepaper before a storm. It then proceeded to analyze his mind for any negative intentions, even as Ash kept increasing his distance from it by running for the nearest restroom. Finally the connection broke, as Ash rushed into the room where even the Chimecho was not allowed to enter.
The guards posted further down the hallway took note and immediately rushed over, pokeball in the left hand and gun in the right. Meanwhile the Chimecho had floated over to them, making chime sounds all the way, before whispering to the guards (as Ash could still hear), “let the boy be. He can stay in here all night if he wants to. We have little to worry about him, and he may prove to be an asset. He is the one who let slip that Team Rocket is about to strike.” The guards, upon hearing this, returned to their posts.
Ash sighed heavily. He was relieved that the guards weren’t about to stick a gun at his forehead, yes, but he was also amazed that the Chimecho could so easily wring his secrets out of him. ((Kirlia, why hadn’t you done anything to stop it?! Could you have stopped it?)) asked Ash.
((The Chimecho’s psychic potential is much weaker than mine. However I let her peer into your mind because it would make our task suddenly so much easier.))
((Yeah… You’re right… Now what?))
((Now we wait the ten minutes until Silph Co. closes down.))
((I knew that…))
((Kirlia. You done drawing?))
Half an hour later, it was all silent and dark. The entire floor was closed for the night, as were the dozen-odd other floors right above and below this one that were also being used by Silph Co. Everyone had departed – everyone, that is, except for the guards. A few of them had finished their watch, and were replaced by others. But on the average the number of guards had nearly doubled from what it was during the day. Each of them had the card keys necessary for traversing from room to room.
Various walls had suddenly been lowered from the ceiling, making the halls into tiny rooms that could not be navigated. This had constituted Silph Co's latest special barrier to entry. These walls had been taken from elsewhere on the adjacent floors, which meant that other rooms had been merged together into larger rooms. The elevators had stopped running to their floors, but the lights remained on, as if trying to impress upon a shadowy outside force that everything and everyone within was not already asleep by now.
By implicit agreement, Ash and his team of pokemon were allowed to stay on the floor. They were trapped in the bathroom, even its doors having been put in lockdown.
The Chimecho from earlier had joined up with three others just for this floor, the 204th floor out of the 206 floors in the building. But then, this was a massive floor spanning nearly a city block both wide and long.
Ash had his Kirlia do all the hard work of using its psychic capability to learn what the precise layout of the floors were – and they had become a veritable maze. His notebook was now filled with lines representing walls, doors, and windows. Various computer nodes were spread across the various floors, each holding its own, critical component of the data necessary for constructing a master ball.
Ash was now passing passive psychic feelers through everyone’s minds, low enough so that they would not set off the psychic klaxons (which had gone off several times earlier from his lack of ability). But it also meant that he couldn’t peer into the guards’ thoughts. Not that he had to. He just wanted to know which guards were stationed where, so that he would know when something had gone wrong. From an earlier attempt (which set off the alarum), he had learned that the guards had been told that keeping the secrets safe and stopping the espionage ranked higher than keeping the building unharmed, even the skyscraper’s structural integrity.
Suddenly there was a shudder, and a muffled scream from somewhere distant. Guards began moving about, sliding their card keys through doors when necessary and trying to anticipate where the next unpredictable incident would arise. The guard right outside the bathroom door was likewise about to depart, but then slid an extra card key under the door to Ash so he could participate without breaking down the bathroom door.
Ash muttered only two words to his team, and they all understood its consequences.