Chapter 21: Bye Bye BlueChipEdit
Ash hadn’t known how long he had been on the floor crying, but then he had decided at last to see the rooftop where he knew Kay must have walked last. The sky-hatch stairwell was one flight tall, but it seemed to take Ash a long while to get there. He didn’t know how much longer he would have to wait before he could meet Kay again. But he knew he would; he just had to, even if it took until he became a full-fledged adult…
He was thinking all these things that he didn’t even notice that he had arrived at the rooftop, in the frigid twilight air some two thousand feet high. The sun was setting, its brilliant ruby orb slowly dipping into the horizon as streaks of exotic orange, purple, and pink radiated outward through the heavens. A vague, gilded outline highlighted the contours of the clouds. On the other side, the sky became progressively darker in a rich variant of purple. In a corner of the flat roof was a large penthouse. Overhead, several helicopters marked with the symbol of the Saffron City police buzzed. Kay was nowhere in sight.
He spent a long while on the rooftop, alone in his silence, trying to calm his mind down and relax despite the obvious impossibility of it. What would happen to his sister? Or his mother, for that matter? And to think he, a trainer, could do nothing about it… It was just too much to bear.
Finally he ventured back downstairs. He returned to the same room where Agent 007 and his comrade had fallen. All the doors and walls had reverted to their normal state, except for those that had been obliterated in the firefight. As Kirlia affirmed, the place was already swarming with police. How long did I spend on the rooftop? Ash wondered. There were investigators taking pictures of the agent and grunt, and two Silph Co. guards were being interrogated about this particular death. Ash reasoned that the fact that the Team Rocket guards weren’t revived was because they were already past the ‘near-death’ stage by the time the police had arrived.
“Tomorrow, when the news breaks out, I’m sure the company CEO, Mr. Cash, will call for a board meeting at the penthouse atop the roof,” testified a guard.
“What files were here?” asked the questioner, who had a police badge pinned on his dark blue uniform.
“Databases and documents regarding the master ball’s new algorithm for intercepting other pokeballs from catching a trainer’s pokemon,” replied a guard. “It’s a very important, perhaps even essential part of the technology used for creating the master ball.”
“Thankfully, now that we had killed the Team Rocket agents, that stuff may not have been successfully uploaded,” added the other.
“Yeah right you killed them, I did that!” exclaimed Ash in righteous fury that someone would take responsibility for a kill that he had made. He tossed his gun onto the ground right in front of the startled investigator.
“No, we did,” the guards retorted with what Ash knew was a clear lie.
He took up two pokeballs. “Show me pokemon that could have done that to that computer,” Ash challenged, tossing them into the air. His Charmeleon and Cloyster materialized. The guards were taken aback by this challenge, and backed down uncertainly.
The investigator shot them a doubtful look which soon turned scornful, then turned to Ash. “Well then, would you care to explain just what happened?”
“That would be a long story to tell in one night, but I’ll cut to the quick. I’m a nobody at this company, but I had been given the privilege of helping the guards stop a Team Rocket operation late this evening. And that’s exactly what I did. The grunt over there was killed by their own so-called ‘Agent 001’. And now, would you please move out of the way? I have other matters to attend to.” The police grunts walked out of the way, but only after taking a few hasty snapshots of his face.
“Young man, wait! Did the agent manage to get this database uploaded to the internet?”
Ash was already leaving the room. “That’s for me to know and for you to find out,” he said with a wry smile.
“This is an investigation, you know!” said the questioner, exasperated. “Go Chimecho! Scan that boy’s mind!” he said, tossing a pokeball.
The wind-chime pokemon materalized and inserted its mental presence in Ash’s mind. ((Kirlia, stop him,)) he telepathed to it curtly. His Kirlia then went into Ash’s mind, and together they jabbed a spike of pain into the Chimecho. Ash smiled as it was forced to back off, wincing. This was another psychic ability he had learned from his encounter with Sabrina, and he knew the importance of keeping a secret all right. “No, this is an aftermath,” Ash retorted, before walking down the hallway toward the now-active elevators. His pokemon trailed him (or in Kirlia’s case, sat on his shoulder).
“Hey Ash, I think we ought to celebrate our victory today by going to a buffet,” prompted Charmeleon.
“Not until after you manage to do your math homework correctly,” replied Ash.
“Quit mumbling or I’ll have you take a bath,” Ash joked. It put his Charmeleon back into line in a hurry, even though it was quite capable of tearing Ash apart.
It was late morning of the next day, and while Ash sat on a felled tree log and looked through store catalogs, his Kirlia was up and about dancing on its graceful, slender legs. It was a beauty to look at, and Ash just wondered what it would be like when it metamorphosed into its final form. He didn’t even know what Kirlia would choose to become – a male Gallade or a female Gardevoir…
“There now, you happy?” Charmeleon said at last, pushing a sheet of paper in front of Ash’s eyes. It had used its claws to write down the calculations. It was about how quickly his smokescreen would disseminate throughout a room. There was quite a bit of physics involved, taking into consideration such concepts as root-mean-square-speed and whatnot, and the intermediate steps weren’t written out very well.
“Hmm, it seems to be correct… But why can’t you do your work the way your pal Cloyster does it?” Ash returned, holding up another sheet of paper. Cloyster had on it, meticulously worked out the physics of how long it would take, using its ability Rollout, to hit a target fifty feet away when on a thirty-degree incline downhill. That almost-always hidden brain of its knew Newtonian Physics with surprising acuity.
“Well, can we go eat at a buffet now? I’m practically starving!” None of them had eaten any breakfast.
The next moment an audible rumble came out of Ash’s stomach. He rubbed a hand where he thought the sound had emanated. “Erm… Yes…”
“All right! At last!” cheered Charmeleon. “After having had to eat freshly caught (and poorly cooked) meats almost every day for much of the past year, it would be a delight to indulge in something tasty for once!”
“Meh, I’ll stay out here in the woods,” said Cloyster, reaffirming its intention to eat nothing but algae and plankton.
“Take care,” Ash told Cloyster, before wincing as Kirlia suddenly teleported onto his shoulder again. “Can’t you give me a warning before you get on?”
((Oops, I forgot…))
“Whatever… Let’s go,” Ash said, and suddenly the trio vanished, to reappear right outside the entrance to the restaurant.
“All you can eat style! This is exactly what I want! Smoked foods, broiled foods, barbeque…” Charmeleon began blabbering excitedly like a little baby again.
“Hey, take it easy,” Ash told it. “I’m footing the bill on this one with my credit card, and I don’t like to be indebted to anyone,” he warned.
“I’ll behave,” said Charmeleon wisely, though its tail continued to dangle and swoosh from side to side, posing a significant fire hazard to what was otherwise a mostly wooden building. Someone released a Squirtle just in case things started smelling overly burnt…
No trouble came of it. When they were finished the trio paid their bills (290.50), then departed for the brokerage. Ash looked at his watch and saw that it was now 10:20 AM – enough time for the stock market to adjust.
“Hello there young man, what may I do for you?” asked the broker ever so pleasantly as Ash walked in.
“What’s going on with Silph Co.?”
“Ah yes, that, yesterday night there was trouble in the form of a massive Team Rocket infiltration. I think a diagram might be what you’re looking for.” He turned his computer screen around so that Ash could see it quite clearly. The stock chart for SYLF had a variety of candlesticks, and Ash knew how to read it. The one for the morning was nothing but down – from a high of 2,502.56 Y a share at ten o’clock sharp to 1,063.24 Y a share about thirty seconds later. The stock was incredibly efficient – it had entirely adjusted based on what new information had just come out that morning about the company’s outlook. In the next twenty minutes the stock had continued to plunge, now to a low 912.00 Y a share. It hadn’t changed much in the last ten minutes, which meant it probably wasn’t going to go much lower.
Ash smiled. “Ah, so Silph Co.’s stock has been inflated lately because of the prospects for their master ball design, isn’t it?”
“Seems like it,” replied the broker. “After all, we’re estimating that a master ball monopoly could sell them for 100,000 Y Kanto dollars or more each, putting them far ahead of even the luxury ball. Rumor is that Team Rocket’s espionage had stolen an incredible amount of information. As far as algorithms go, once online they can’t be eradicated from hyperspace. Most people are thinking that if indeed important parts of the master ball algorithms had been stolen, Silph Co. may not get the patent. And the company had poured many fortunes into its R&D. As for now, we don’t know what the situation is going to be like, and we’re still waiting news about what data had actually been leaked out. But, as you know, times of uncertainly are also the best times for turning a profit,” the broker prodded.
“Indeed,” replied Ash. From what he knew, being an insider at last evening’s interception, he knew that Team Rocket had been unable to steal at least something of great importance – Ash had by now forgotten exactly what the technological ramifications were, but his insider knowledge meant that he knew that Team Rocket’s real chance of having obtained the complete information for creating a master ball was much lower than what others were predicting. Which meant that stocks will go back up once the confusion has been cleared up.
Which meant that he should buy stocks now.
“My portfolio is currently short SYLF by eighty shares, so I’d like to buy and transfer them now.”
“Ah yes, the other person lost a little bit of money then,” the broker reasoned pacifically. Ash could tell that to him even a million Kanto dollars was small change.
Ash did some quick calculations. He could pay off his short position in SYLF for 72,900.00 Y Kanto dollars, for which he had received 200,000.00 Y. That meant his shorting SYLF had turned him a profit of 137,690.00 Y overnight. Far more than he could receive by ‘gambling’ in the casino…
My but am I greedy.
He had some 148,000.00 Y Kanto dollars in assets. So he could buy another 160 shares of SYLF without having to draw on credit. And he didn’t want to do that, just in case things didn’t work out as he expected. He didn’t want to have to be sidetracked by working for someone to repay debts when he should be striving to rescue his family.
“I’ll buy 160 shares of SYLF,” ordered Ash. Within seconds the transaction was done, and he walked out with that security - and practically nothing in his wallet. Instead, he was 1000.00 Y in debt. Not too much; just enough to fill out his order into a nice, round number.
Now, normally it would be prudent to not ‘put all your eggs in one basket’. But Ash, having advance knowledge, and being a psychic and all, knew better. For him, it made more sense to ‘put all your eggs in one basket – and then watch that basket’.
And that was exactly what he was going to do, he said to himself as he walked toward the Silph Co. Tower.
The place was incredibly busy. An immense and sudden fall in the company stock had revealed a major vulnerability that few people had seen beforehand. The formerly solid blue-chip stock had suddenly become incredibly volatile, and throughout the ground floor Ash could see enraged and dismayed shareholders alternately shouting at their wealth managers and financial advisors via phone and demanding an explanation from the company’s swamped public relations team.
“I repeat, there is no need to worry about the prospects of this company,” shouted someone with a loud voice in an obviously futile but necessary attempt to calm the stockholders. “Your stock in this company will hold its value over time. The master ball plans could not have been stolen, and competitors will be unable to produce production of master balls.” Now for a change of topic to divert attention away from their worries: “On other fronts, we are making ground-breaking technological advances. We will secure our patent within the month and proceed to sell master balls at monopoly prices. Your stocks are worth more than their current value, just remember that. So don’t sell.”
Nevertheless the predominant single word muttered by people over and over again on their phones was “Sell!” Ash snickered despite himself as he fought to reach the elevators. These people obviously had no clue what they were doing, no clue what the future would hold for them…
“Get rid of these shares, sir!”
“Nah! I believe prices are going to go up again! Buy!”
“Sell this stupid stock!”
“I’m not getting a reasonable explanation from their PR officials. Tell our men to sell half of our holdings in this company!”
“We can’t tell. Nah, it’s a hold…”
“Thank you, anchor. Here we are at the Silph Tower ground floor, where enraged stockholders are furious that such a calamity could occur to the prices of what had until now always been considered a blue-chip stock. SYLF—“
“What I want to know is, why the heck did you call this a blue-chip if it can suddenly lose so much value?”
Ash was nearing the elevator now. He still had his card key from yesterday, and he slipped it into the card reader.
“Don’t try to reason with me, sir! I want my shares of SYLF sold and sold now!”
The next moment the elevator doors closed around him and he was going up. The workers in the same cage as he was gave him an askew look, wondering what such a small kid was doing coming up with them. He’s probably some CEO’s son or something… But he doesn’t look like it…
It took a long time, and his ears were now hurting a lot from the change in air pressure, but finally he had arrived at the 206th floor. He passed by a lot of worried company workers who had suddenly seen their own assets crumble as the company stock fell. From there it was a short walk before he had arrived at the roof. The penthouse, larger than his own home, loomed before him. I wonder if the CEO’s already in there. It’ll be interesting to hear what he has to say…
As it turned out, the place mostly empty. That is, except for a single large conference room which was filled with important people, many of whom Ash assumed to be Goldenrod analysts (aka. Financial analysts). The CEO was missing, probably because given this bad situation any reasonable person would want to procrastinate. Overhead, several Chimecho floated about, and guards stood at the entrance as well as along the halls.
“Hey, kiddo, what are you doing here?” challenged a guard as Ash walked up.
“Yeah, this is serious business happening here, you shouldn’t intervene.”
“Who I am?” Ash challenged right back, even though he was considerably smaller than the armed guards. “I’m a guard here, too!”
The two guards burst into laughter. “Ha ha! You a guard!? Silph doesn’t accept kiddies like you to be guards, ya know!”
Ash snarled. “You’ll be mistaken if you don’t think I’m a guard. I did a lot of good for your company too last night, only you don’t know it.”
“Hey kid, give up on your lie once you know it won’t work, okay? That’s a hint for life,” a guard said pedantically.
“Humph! Well it also turns out that it’s not my only reason for being here. I’m also a major shareholder of this company! I own this company! I’m your boss! So let me in!” He flashed his proof – the certificate that he had bought the shares of the company. For a moment the guards looked at it.
Then they burst out laughing for the second time in one day. “Major shareholder?! With just a hundred and some shares?!”
The other guard joined in, “You’ve got to be kidding with me! The CEO isn’t letting anyone in to this meeting unless they have at least a hundred thousand shares, and that’s just being light!”
"Yeah, too light," agreed the first.
“Grr, let me in!”
“Nope, sorry, no can do,” said the guard, striking a pose that squarely blocked the entry. Ash was stuck in the hallway, and he knew that the walls here were bound to be soundproof.
Just then a balding man in his sixties and wearing a flawless tuxedo and necktie came into the hallway. He stopped and stared at Ash for a moment, then reached into his pocket to pull out a picture. He looked back and forth at Ash, at the picture, and back. Then he put it away, and walked up to the door to the conference room. The guards let him pass, bowing down to whom even Ash knew was Mr. Marc Cash. But then he startled the guards by turning around at the doorstep and pointing at Ash.
“You - come in with me.”
The guards looked at the CEO and at Ash and back with a totally perplexed look on their face.
Ash threw out his tongue at them. “Who’s got the last laugh?” he said, before following the CEO in.