Pokemon Fan Fiction ❯ Anari's Training Daze ( Chapter 7 )
Chapter Seven – Anari’s Training Daze
. . .
It was a perfect morning. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and Anari, awake before her uncle as usual, had already made good use of her youthful energy by bringing them up bagels and fruit from the HQ cafeteria.
« I love the mountains, I love the rolling hills! I love the flowers, I love the daffodils! » she sang loudly, flitting around the room.
« Well, love them quietly, » her uncle told her, wondering why children had to be so noisy. He was making coffee as he looked at a report he’d put off reading yesterday. Anari sat down to eat her breakfast, wondering why grown-ups had to be so grumpy.
« What are you doing? » she asked.
« Going over the Rocket Enterprises report. »
« I thought you were supposed to do that yesterday? »
« I’m the boss. That means I can do what I want, when I want. Now eat your breakfast. » Anari obediently took a bite out of her bagel, preparing to ask another question until Giovanni added, « And no more chatter! »
Things were starting to improve for Team Rocket, and he was pleased to see that figures were up at Rocket Enterprises, the business he used as a cover for Team Rocket’s illicit money-making ventures. This was good, since he was due to meet with Viper today to go over the yearly budget for Team Rocket’s training school. Viper would no doubt be requesting an increase in funds as he did every year. Each year they did the same old song and dance. Giovanni would review the school’s expenses and make his yearly tour of the institution resolved not to be taken in by Viper’s predictions of doom and gloom, and every year his resolve failed when Viper calmly stated every possible scenario of what might happen if a training school for spies, assassins, field agents and special operatives were to go underfunded. Giovanni was amazed at the man’s ability to spin the yarn in a seemingly emotionless manner and still elicit fear as he told of possibilities ranging from incompetent operatives resulting from training with obsolete equipment to the police locating the training base- and Headquarters soon after- because they lacked sufficient funds to keep the location secure. Needless to say, every year Viper got his requested increase.
Well, at least profits are on rise… Giovanni thought as he poured himself a cup of coffee. He moved over to the dining area and set his steaming mug of coffee and the report he was holding down on his kitchen table. Persian sauntered into the room lazily.
« It’s going to be a good day, my friend! » he informed Persian. He bent over to pet Persian and…
« Aaaaaaaaaaaaah! »
« What’s the matter, Uncle? » Anari asked, alarmed.
« N-nothing… » Giovanni said, in a pained tone of voice as he grabbed the kitchen table for support. Intense pain shot though his lower back, and attempting to stand upright only intensified the pain. His bit his tongue to keep from swearing in front of the child, who had gotten up from her seat to investigate the matter.
« Why are you standing like that? » his niece inquired.
« I… threw my back out… » her embarrassed uncle admitted. « Could you go fetch someone from the medical unit… discreetly? »
« Okay, » Anari said, dashing off. How do you throw your back « out »? she wondered. Old people sure have weird problems…
Dutifully the loyal child made her way to Team Rocket’s medical center and reported Giovanni’s malady, but she had no idea what the word « discreetly » meant. She’d assumed it meant to hurry, so she ran the whole way there. Unfortunately, upon arriving at her destination she proceeded to (loudly) tell everyone that her uncle was stuck bent over « like an old guy » still in his pajamas. A medical team rushed to his aid immediately, while everyone else had a good laugh at their employer’s expense.
« The Boss might actually be human like everyone else, » someone said, after Anari had gone.
« Even the high and mighty get old eventually, if they live long enough, » another person said.
Everyone in the room laughed. They also passed on the tale to everyone they interacted with that day.
. . .
« Here’s Viper, as you ordered, Sir. »
« Obviously, he’s standing right in front of me! » Giovanni snapped at Domino. He was still in a considerable amount of pain and he wasn’t happy with agents coming to his personal quarters to report to him while he was still in his sleepwear. The medical team had helped him into a comfortable chair, so at least no one else would see him hunched over like a wizened old tree.
« How’s your back? » the purple-haired man inquired.
« How do you know about that? » his employer asked. « You’ve only just arrived! »
Viper pointed to Domino.
« Just about every agent on base is talking about it, » Domino responded.
Giovanni shot a glare at his niece. « I told you to be discreet!
« I ran as fast as I could! » Anari responded. « I ran to the medical center and yelled that you were stuck and couldn’t get up, just like you said! »
« You yelled? » her uncle asked, putting his now red face in one of his hands. « And just how many people were in the room? »
« The center was full, » she chirped.
« Oh, god… »
As the head of Team Rocket, The Boss, the man who gave orders and signed everyone’s paychecks, Giovanni was omnipotent- and he liked it. As a mere human being, he was mortal and therefore subject to mortal difficulties just like any other man. Still, he thought it best that the rest of the world not be reminded of this fact. He had an image to uphold. His employees had not been hired for their moral values and control through a heathy amount of fear kept everyone in line. Who was going to fear a middle-aged man who could barely move? This slip of a girl standing before him had made him a laughingstock.
« Domino? »
Yes, Sir? »
« Smack that impudent child upside the head for me! »
Domino shrugged at Anari and then did what she was told.
« Hey! » Anari protested, rubbing the back of her head. « What was that for? »
« The word « discreet » means to be SECRETIVE! » her uncle told her.
« Oh. »
« Does this mean you won’t be making your yearly inspection of the academy, Sir? » Viper inquired.
« No, I- » Giovanni stopped, before smiling evilly. He had the perfect idea. « No, leave the report here for me to read and my niece will be going in my stead. »
« Huh? » all three people asked at once.
Giovanni continued to grin. This was perfect. He would have a year blessedly free of Viper’s tales of woe and a day blessedly free of his niece’s « helping ». This would get the seven year-old out of his hair before he ordered her tied up and dangled from the ceiling where she wouldn’t cause anymore trouble.
« You can’t be serious! » Viper ejaculated.
« But who will help you, Uncle, if I go away? » Anari asked.
« You’ve helped quite enough! » he snapped.
Viper stared, first at his employer, then at the child he’d been ordered to take charge of. It was the most ludicrous thing he’d ever heard, taking a seven year-old girl to tour a training school for thieves and assassins. Still, he was far too disciplined a soldier to argue with his leader. He held out his hand. « Let’s go, » he told her, deciding it best to leave immediately before Giovanni produced another child for him to babysit. Hell, if he stuck around he might find himself stuck with the boss’s CAT next! That man is out of his mind!
« So what was that all about? » Domino asked, when Viper had departed, clutching his new charge securely by the hand.
« It’ll do the child good. If she’s to lead this operation one day she needs to learn all she can about it. What better place to start than the basics? »
Domino raised an eyebrow and gave him a skeptical look.
« And I don’t want her roaming around HQ telling everyone of my… situation, » he admitted.
« Yes, » Domino responded, grinning. « There might still be one or two people who haven’t heard yet! »
Giovanni sighed. So much for his perfect morning.
. . .
« Did Jessie and James train here? » Anari asked, when the private plane had landed and she found herself standing in front of Team Rocket Academy. She had talked the entire way, and Viper had long since abandoned giving detailed explanations in favor of short, curt answers. Anari hadn’t seemed to notice the change.
« Yes. »
« And Butch and Cassidy? »
« That’s right. »
« What about Domino? »
« She trained here, too. »
« And Mondo? »
« No, but if he wishes to apply to become a field agent or special operative he’ll train here as well. »
The child was silent for a while, and as they entered the building Viper contemplated what he should call the girl. It would be ridiculous to address a seven year-old in the same manner he did the Boss, or as he had Madam Boss when she was running the organization. But it also felt completely inappropriate to address Team Rocket’s heir in a familiar fashion.
A deaf agent passed them as they entered the building and silently signed a short greeting.
« Hello, » Anari said, but he didn’t answer her. Viper nodded in acknowledgement and signed for him to carry on.
Anari glanced back curiously. I wonder what happened to him?
« Sargent Viper? » she asked.
« Yes? »
« Is this place… is this where my friends are? »
« If you’re referring to the twelve men your uncle recently recruited than yes, they’re here. Most of them, anyway. »
« Can I go see them? »
« Very well, » he agreed, figuring it was as good a place to start as any. They walked down the hall where another agent was cleaning the floor. He greeting Viper in the same silent fashion as the first they’d met.
« Why don’t they talk? » Anari asked as they walked passed him.
« They can’t hear, » Viper responded. « An instructor’s been employed here specifically to teach agents in their situation to communicate with their hands. Here we are. »
They walked into what looked like an ordinary classroom, complete with white student desks. It was empty save for the person cleaning the chalkboard. To her surprise, it was her old friend Henry.
« Henry! »
He turned, surprised. « Anari! What on Earth..? »
« You’re a TEACHER? » Anari asked, after they’d hugged.
« I’m a bit old for boot camp, » he said. « These youngsters can all run circles around me. So they made me an instructor. »
« Team Rocket Academy doesn’t just train new recruits, » Viper explained to Anari. « It’s also a place where many of our older operatives are sent to work when they’re no longer physically suitable for the field. Our new recruits benefit from their vast experience. It’s also where a good number of the disabled are sent; like the men you saw in the hallway. »
« What happened to them? » Anari inquired.
« They lost their hearing in an explosion, » said Viper. « They’re lucky that’s all they lost. Some of the ones sent back to us are missing limbs. »
Henry shot the purple-haired man a look, indicating that he need explain no further. Small children didn’t need to hear about such things.
« So what do you teach? » Anari asked Henry.
« Lock-picking, » Henry grinned. « Although Viper here thinks the course is outdated. »
« With technology on the rise electronic doors have become more common than old-fashioned locks, » Viper replied.
« Still, any crook worth his salt should know how to pick a lock, » Henry told him.
« I daresay, » Viper replied gruffly.
« So what are you doing here, little one? » Henry asked.
« Uncle Giovanni sent me. »
« Our leader deemed it necessary to send Miss Anari to tour the school, » Viper explained. « She’ll be doing the yearly inspection in his place. »
« Fine by me, » Henry replied. He had a feeling the less he and his new boss saw of each other the happier they’d both be.
« What’s an inspection? » the seven year-old asked.
Henry laughed, and explained meaning of the word. Viper just rolled his eyes, again silently questioning his leader’s sanity. He blanked out for while, wondering if back injuries could somehow cause brain damage. He’d never thought of such a thing before, but how else could he explain Giovanni’s decision? A child in a place like this was sheer madness. He prudently decided to skip touring the section where assassins were trained, and was considering skipping the shooting range as well. At first he’d thought a good rule of thumb would be to not take the girl anywhere he would not bring his own child, but he quickly realized this was impossible. He would never have brought his own child to a place like this in the first place.
« Where is everyone else? » Anari asked the old man. « Dan, Kent, Lou and the rest. I haven’t seen any of the others. »
« Well, Lou got a permanent job down in the cafeteria. »
« He would! » Anari laughed. Lou loved food. She highly doubted this change in profession had been anyone’s idea but his.
« The rest are training to became field agents or grunts. All except Kent and Mark, that is. They got special training to become members of the… er… special forces. » He decided that sounded better than telling the little girl that they’d been employed as assassins.
« What about Dan? »
« He’s still here. Got partnered with Tony. »
« Tony? »
Henry used his index finger to trace lines on his face.
« Oh, the guy with the scars. I can never remember his name for some reason. »
« We had another guy here who had that problem, » Viper recalled. « Ages ago it seems. What was his name? Bill? Bob? Something like that. Anyway, we’d best get moving along. There’s still plenty to see. »
Anari waved goodbye to Henry as they left the room to continue the tour.
Anari followed Viper through many halls and corridors, struggling to keep up with his wide strides until he finally noticed the problem and slowed his pace. Over the next few hours he explained the various training programs agents were required to complete and introduced her to various members of the staff. She also got to see the school’s resident PokÃ©mon, watch a well-drilled group of men practice their marching outside and examine a new invention that a semi-retired scientist had recently completed and was in the process of being tested for efficiency. She tried to take a quick glance into every room they passed hoping to see her friend Dan, but she didn’t see any more of her brother’s former employees until she and Viper sat down for lunch. To Anari’s delight, their meal was served by her old friend Lou. He was wearing a greasy apron with Team Rocket’s standard R logo on the front.
« How have you been? » Anari asked eagerly.
« Best job I’ve ever had! » Lou told her. « This place needs me. You wouldn’t believe the sort of slop they were serving before I came along! »
Viper soon sent the man on his way, wanting to take this time to educate Anari on the importance of keeping Team Rocket Academy properly funded. He figured if he could impress upon her at an early age the value of making sure the school was financially secure, he or his successor might not have to go through the same trouble with her as he currently did trying to convince Giovanni.
« What does « funded » mean? » the child asked, when he began his lecture.
« It means to make sure there’s enough money to pay everyone and buy all of the things we need to keep the school operational. Training equipment, instructors, a well-staffed medical center… these things are vital to Team Rocket’s continued success, and as I told you earlier our elderly and disabled also depend on this place remaining solvent. The Team Rocket Retirement Fund pays their pensions, but the funding your uncle sends provides for their medical care. In many cases disabled agents can continue to be valuable, functioning members of the team with a minimal amount of retraining. »
Before Anari could ask the meaning of the word « solvent », an agent-in-training came up to them and reported to Viper that someone had lost (or stolen) several pieces of equipment from the training yard.
« Again? » Viper responded, not bothering to hide his aggravation. « If this is somebody’s idea of a joke, they’re going to see how they enjoy a twenty mile hike! » He slammed down his drink and followed the man out the door. Anari ran after them, taking her slice of pizza with her. She struggled to keep up as the drill instructor marched down the corridors and exited the building. By the time Anari caught up, Viper had ordered another search, and informed everyone that there would be no food that evening unless the missing equipment was found. He was tired of this nonsense.
Anari couldn’t have cared less. Upon entering the training yard her attention was immediately drawn to the two men currently running through the obstacle course.
« Dan! Tony! »
They didn’t hear her. Dan, clearly exhausted, was struggling to keep up with his partner. Tony was well ahead of him, clearing the final hurdle to complete the course. Dan fell into a trap and the instructor blew her whistle.
« Antony, you’re clear! » the woman told him. « Danial, back to the start! »
Dan groaned as he climbed out of the pit and dejectedly went back to the beginning of the course. His partner took a seat on the ground to rest, wiping his face with a towel.
« Still having trouble with that one? » Viper inquired.
« Yes, Sir. He’s agile and he’s well-coordinated, but he still lacks endurance. Once he tires out, he loses his focus. »
Viper told the instructor to take a break, and he took her place. He blew his whistle for Dan to begin again. Anari watched, fascinated.
« Sargent Viper? »
It was a pair of trainees, dressed in dirty blue uniforms. He turned to face them.
« Yes, what is it? »
« We found the missing equipment. Someone shoved it in a utility closet, but now we have another problem. »
« And just what would that be? » he inquired.
« When we cleared everything out we found that all the cleaning supplies have gone missing. »
Viper’s eyes narrowed. Problems of this sort had been cropping up all week, and he was getting tired of it. He recognized the work of a practical joker when he saw it, and he was not fond of jokes. « Put the training equipment back where it belongs, » he ordered them, « And have Henry put a lock on that door. Then find the damned cleaning supplies! » He looked back to where Anari had been standing slightly behind him, prepared to assure her that such incidents were not commonplace before word got back to the boss that he’d lost control here; but the girl was gone.
Someone needs to invent child-balls, he thought. He envisioned people using them to recall their children like they did their PokÃ©mon. Such an invention would surely prove to be quite profitable.
« Did you see what happened to the girl? » he asked.
One of the men pointed, and Viper’s eyes followed the direction of the agent’s finger. Anari was now on the training course trying to follow Dan. She’d managed to dodge all the pitfalls and was now low-crawling under the barbed wire.
« WHAT THE DEVIL! »
Panicked, the Drill Sargent blew his whistle. Dan stopped at once, but Anari continued to crawl towards her friend. Dan turned to see what the trouble was. His eyes widened.
« Anari, no! »
At the sound of her name the child raised her head- right into the barbed wire. She screamed in pain, trying to duck down again, but her hair was now caught in the wire.
« Hold still, Anari! » Dan told her, as he and Tony rushed to her aid. « We’ll get you out! »
Anari raised her right hand to push the wire away from her and immediately realized her error when the barbed wire cut into her hand. Her clothes had become caught as well, and by the time the two men freed her the back of her outfit was completely ruined.
« Miss Anari, the training course is not a playground! » Viper told her severely, but she was crying too loudly to hear him. She had blood running down her scalp, hand and backside and her long hair was a tangled mess. Tony had cut part of it out of the wire with a knife. She looked, as her uncle would later remark, like a begger’s brat who’d been dragged out of a street fight.
« We’ll take her to the infirmary, » Dan said, and Tony nodded.
Viper waved for them to go, now wishing that he had spoken up when the Boss had come up with the insane idea of sending the child here.
Child-balls, he thought again, wishing he possessed the inventive genius to create such a contraption. An idea that would revolutionize the world!
. . .
« I want to keep her overnight for observation, » the female doctor in the infirmary informed Giovanni over the video phone. « Also, I’ll need your permission to give her a tetanus shot. »
« Very well, do it. »
« SHOT? » he could hear his distressed niece cry out from somewhere off-screen. « I don’t want a shot! »
« I see you have your hands full, » he remarked to the physician.
« Actually, she’s been very cooperative, » the doctor told him. « There’s several men in here hovering over her like mother hens and they’ve been doing a pretty good job of keeping her calm. »
« It’s for your own good, Little Bit, » Dan was telling her. « Lou will bring you something nice to eat when it’s all over. »
« You’ll barely feel a thing, » Tony added.
Giovanni fought the urge to smile. « Of course that lot would be there to baby her like a spoiled pet… but where the hell is Viper? He was supposed to be watching her! »
« Well, actually… » the doctor began, before pointing to the right of the screen, « He’s kind of in the middle of a… disagreement. »
« Are you challenging my authority? » Viper was shouting.
« As far as that child is concerned, you’re damn right I am! » Henry yelled back. « What in God’s name was she doing out in the training yard? »
« This is none of your affair! »
« The hell it isn’t! I dangled that child on my knee when she was an infant and I’ll be damned if- »
« Please stop fighting! » Anari pleaded.
« Sargent Viper, the Boss wishes to speak with you, » the doctor said, putting an end to the confrontation. A few seconds later Viper took the doctor’s place in front of the video screen.
« Where were you when I called earlier? » Giovanni demanded to know.
« I was filing a report on the incident, Sir, » Viper responded.
« You’d better have a good explanation for this, or I’m going to « file » your ass! » Giovanni said severely, before mentally adding, As soon as I’m actually capable of getting up off my own…
« She went out there on her own, Sir, when I wasn’t looking. »
« Why weren’t you watching her? »
« I apologize, Sir. »
« You’ll do more than that next time I see you! And if my niece gets so much as an insect bite between now and tomorrow believe me you’ll pay! »
« It was because of me, » Dan said, joining Viper on the screen. « She saw me on the training course and wanted to get to me. I didn’t know she was following me. Sargent Viper didn’t realize either, until it was too late. »
« You’re that impudent young pup that lectured me on « waving guns in front of children », if my memory serves me correctly, » Giovanni observed. « I also believe you called me a psychopath. »
Dan blushed, his face now almost as red as the Team Rocket training uniform he was wearing. « Uh, yes, Sir. »
« Well, I’m glad to see you’ve learned some manners since then, so perhaps Viper isn’t a complete waste of the extortionately exuberant salary I pay him. Where’s the old man? »
« Here, Sir, » Henry said, taking Dan’s place in front of the screen.
« I assume, being at least six or seven decades old, that you know how to look after a child without her wandering into barbed wire? »
« I do, Sir. No further harm will come to her. »
« Good. I leave her in your hands. »
Viper snorted, and Giovanni returned his attention to him.
« You have something to say, Drill Sargent? »
« No, Sir. »
« Good! »
Giovanni slammed his hand on the off button, and the screen went blank. He rose from his seat, wincing as the pain in his back flared up from even the smallest amount of movement. He definitely wasn’t going into the office tomorrow, or the next day, either. Somehow he was going to have to manage caring for his injured niece in addition to making sure his own aching body didn’t fall apart. He turned to Persian.
« Don’t ever have children! » he told the PokÃ©mon. « Miles away and they’re STILL a pain in the ass! »
To be continued
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