Chapter 27: Up in Rose Tower
Leon seemed to be taking an age to come.
Ruby and Hop were still waiting for him in the lobby of the Rose of the Rondelands Hotel and despite his promise to take the two out for dinner, he hadn't shown up yet. Hop was growing concerned, fidgeting uncontrollably in his seat. He knew his brother was pants with directions, but he had his beloved Charizard for that. If he was lost, he would simply get Charizard out to show him the way! So why did he seem to be taking a while?
Thankfully, he got his answer when a text from the Champion came through on his Rotom phone. Hop read it as soon as his phone went off. The text said:
Sorry bruv, gonna be late. Just got caught up at Rose Tower with business with the Chairman. I'll be with you both as soon as possible. Lee. X
"That's a relief." Hop said, sounding more relaxed now he knew what was happening, "I thought something had happened to him!"
"I wonder what he and the Chairman are talking about." Ruby said thoughtfully, "No doubt it's about Project: Eternatus or something like that. As he's one of the only people that knows about it outside of the Chairman, he'd want to keep updated on how things are going."
"He might even be talking about those two freak occurrences in Hammerlocke that happened the other day." Hop suggested, "The tremor was one thing, but the Pokémon Dynamaxing out of nowhere was something else! I bet Lee will want to make sure that everything's safe back in Hammerlocke and there's nothing more to worry about."
"I still wish I knew what Project: Eternatus was about." Ruby mused, "The Chairman says it's for the good of Galar, but that's about all he's said. He hasn't gone into anything more specific than that. How do we know it's for the good of Galar if we don't know what Project: Eternatus even is?"
Hop nodded agreeably. If Project: Eternatus was for the good of Galar, why did the Chairman need to be so vague about it? That just seemed highly suspicious in his eyes. He hoped that once Leon finally made it to the hotel, he'd get the full story on what was going on between the two. His stomach growled furiously, desperate to be fed.
"I sure hope Lee and the Chairman hurry up with whatever they're doing. I feel like I could eat my arm off right now." the Postwick boy complained.
"I still have some Moomoo Cheese left over from a curry I made in the Wild Area yesterday." Ruby offered, taking a half-eaten wheel of cheese out her backpack, "You can have this to keep you going if you want."
"Cheers, Ruby." Hop said gratefully, taking the cheese and biting into it hungrily.
Ruby herself decided to eat the chocolate bar that Bea had given her back in Stow-on-Side. She hadn't thought to eat it since the day she'd received it, preferring to save it as it was something more special due to coming from a Gym Leader. She decided now was a good time to finally have it as she had no idea how long she and Hop would be waiting for Leon's return so they could have dinner together. As Hop and Ruby ate their snacks, Elijah walked into the lobby. He lifted his sunglasses for he didn't really need them in a place like this. He spotted Ruby straight away, glad to see he didn't have to look far for her. His job was going to be a little easier than he'd thought. She was right there with only Hop keeping her company. At least the Champion wasn't with her as that would've complicated things. Elijah did his best to look friendly as he approached Ruby. He shifted his smile to a pleasant one so he wouldn't look suspicious. Ruby was just shoving the last piece of chocolate into her mouth as the Macro Cosmos man came to her.
"Miss Silverlock?" he asked politely.
"Yes, that's me, what is it?" Ruby asked, looking up at him.
"I'm here on behalf of the Chairman." Elijah lied, "He wishes to see you right away."
"He does? What for?" Ruby asked curiously, "I didn't do something wrong, did I?"
"No, no, nothing like that at all." Elijah said hastily, "He only wishes to congratulate you on your victory and progression to the finals. He wants to do it in person as he doesn't get to do that often."
"Well can it wait? Me and Hop are supposed to have dinner with Leon when he gets back." Ruby protested.
"He's with Leon right now so after he's done, you can take him with you." Elijah replied, "Come with me please, it'd be impolite to keep the Chairman waiting."
"Can I come too?" Hop asked.
"No young man, he only wishes to see Ruby." the Macro Cosmos man said, "Don't worry Hop, I'll bring her and Leon straight back here once they're done."
Ruby rose from her seat and slipped her backpack back over her shoulders. Hop stayed where he was, disappointed her couldn't come as well. Ruby just gave him a soft smile of reassurance.
"I'm sure I won't be long." Ruby said casually, "Who knows, maybe the Chairman might have more to talk about than just my victory." she said with a wink.
Hop winked back, catching onto what she meant. Maybe he was finally going to tell her what Project: Eternatus was. It seemed fair to let the star Gym Challenger who was now a finalist in on this big, ambitious project to better the future for Galar. Hop watched as Ruby and Elijah walked out of the lobby together and once they'd disappeared through the doors, he lay back in his seat to relax. It was a shame Ruby had to go as now he didn't have anyone to talk to. He thought he could maybe bring his Pokémon out to pass the time with while he waited.
Meanwhile, Elijah and Ruby walked side-by-side together as the left the Rose Hotel and headed on through Wyndon. Elijah offered his hand but Ruby didn't take it. She thought he was treating her like a child and wanted to show she didn't need her hand holding. Elijah just shrugged and put his sunglasses back over his eyes. Ruby had to wonder why he felt the need to wear them. It wasn't particularly bright as dusk was approaching and the sun was hiding behind some clouds. Maybe he had sensitive eyes or something. The two walked for a few minutes before Ruby started to notice that something wasn't quite right. Elijah said that the Chairman wanted to see her…so why weren't they going to Rose Tower? Ruby looked over her shoulder to see the enormous structure peering over the hotel and the monorail system behind her. Chairman Rose was there so why were they walking away from it instead of towards it? At first, Ruby wondered if Elijah was just taking her a specific route to the tower. But a few more minutes later, they were still walking in a straight line through the city and heading away from Rose Tower. She looked over her shoulder again to see the giant skyscraper getting smaller and smaller. Something was wrong and it made her uneasy.
"Um…sir? Shouldn't we be going that way?" Ruby asked, pointing to Rose Tower, "I thought you were taking me to see the Chairman. Why are we going the wrong way?"
"We need to catch a Flying Taxi." the Macro Cosmos man said, "The Chairman is at Hammerlocke Stadium overseeing Project: Eternatus. As I said, I'm taking you to him."
"No, the Chairman's at Rose Tower." Ruby insisted, "Leon texted me and Hop earlier to tell us that. He's nowhere near Hammerlocke."
Elijah cursed mentally. He had worried on the teenage girl catching on that something didn't add up. He had to think fast if he had any hope of getting the little brat over to Oleana before she sounded the alarm!
"You really trust a man with directions as bad as Leon?" he said, trying to sound like he wasn't choosing his words carefully, "That man couldn't tell Rose Tower from Hammerlocke Stadium. The Chairman's there so we need to set off to Hammerlocke now."
"No!" Ruby said firmly, "Leon's not THAT bad at directions! If he was going to Hammerlocke instead of staying here, he would've told us! I don't know what's going on but if the Chairman wants to see me, we should be going to Rose Tower. If you won't lead me there, I'll go myself!"
She turned to leave. Elijah gritted his teeth anxiously. He had hoped to just quietly slip away with Ruby to avoid suspicion but now the impudent girl was forcing his hand. He had no choice but to resort to Plan B. As Ruby started to walk off, Elijah seized her by the jacket and pulled her back. Then he wrapped one arm around her chest and clasped another hand around her mouth to stop her from screaming. Ruby cried out behind Elijah's hand and squirmed.
"Mmmey! Mmmet mmmoff mmme!" she cried, her voice muffled.
"You young lady are going to come with me whether you like it or not!" Elijah snarled, "I have a job to do and you aren't going to give me any grief!"
He started to haul Ruby away. He was going to take her to a Flying Taxi, shove her into the cab, tell the driver to fly her off to Hammerlocke City and ignore any of Ruby's requests, no matter what they were and then he'd leave Oleana to deal with her once she arrived at the stadium. He would then disappear into the crowd and wipe his hands clean off the whole affair. No one would ever know what was happening. At least, that was his plan.
Ruby squirmed desperately in Elijah's grip. It was hopeless, the man was far too strong for her to break free. He was a grown man, she was only a teenager. He had a very tight grip on Ruby that wouldn't budge whatsoever. It felt like trying to wriggle free of an Arbok using Bind on her. Ruby was very scared. What was going to happen to her? Why was Elijah doing this? If the Chairman wanted to see her, he wouldn't have asked a man to kidnap her in broad daylight so it couldn't be him. Had Bede somehow crawled out of whatever cell he'd been thrown in and hired this man to kidnap her for revenge? Or was he simply just a rogue employee in the company and he was acting on his own accord? Ruby only cared about getting away, she'd worry about his true motives later. Ruby thought quickly on how to escape. If she could get free, then she'd have to make him let her go.
Acting fast, Ruby stomped down hard on Elijah's foot with the heel of her boot. Elijah let out a scream that somehow managed to make itself heard over the general din of the city. Several heads looked up, wondering what had made that noise. Elijah let go of Ruby to clutch his foot and the moment she got free, Ruby spun round and drove her knee straight into the man's groin. Elijah's eyes bulged behind his sunglasses and he collapsed onto his knees in agony. Despite being a teenager, Ruby had strong legs and had given him a very hard kick to his nether regions. Not even a man as strong as him could stand up after that. As Elijah was brought down, Ruby quickly swiped something out of his trouser pocket. Then she turned on her heels and ran for her life.
"HELP! SOMEBODY HELP! THIS MAN'S TRYING TO KIDNAP ME!" she screamed at the top of her lungs.
Luckily for her, a policeman happened to be walking by and had heard Ruby's screams. He turned to see Elijah on his knees and quickly put two-and-two together. He ran over to Elijah, his handcuffs already in hand.
"Stay where you are, sir! Don't move!" he said gruffly.
Elijah didn't even try to resist. As if he could with how much pain he was in! He could only watch with despair as Ruby was swallowed up by the crowd of people that had gathered around, seemingly deliberately to make sure he couldn't chase after her. He'd failed his mission and he had a feeling that both he and Oleana were going to be in big trouble with the Chairman as Ruby would no doubt let him know what had just happened. Elijah had no doubt that she'd stolen his Key Card from him so she could get to the tower and warn the Chairman herself. He could only hope that Oleana would deal with it. He was powerless to do much else as the policeman hauled him onto his feet and slapped the handcuffs on him.
Ruby didn't stop running until she made it back to the Rose Hotel. Despite bringing Elijah down, she kept glancing over her shoulder every so often to make sure he wasn't trying to follow her. The moment she arrived at the hotel, she burst through the door and ran over to Hop. Hop was on his feet in seconds and quickly grasped Ruby in a hug as she threw herself at him.
"Whoa! Whoa, whoa, whoa, calm down Ruby! What is it?" Hop asked frantically, "You look like you've been chased by an angry Tauros!"
"That man…he just tried to kidnap me!" Ruby panted, "He grabbed hold of me…put his hand over my mouth…to stop me from screaming! He tried to…take me away! I managed to escape and I screamed for help! I think a policeman heard me…and is dealing with him! Oh Hop, I'm so scared! What if someone else tries to kidnap me?!"
She grabbed hold of her friend as if determined never to let go. It was like he was the only safe person she could be with now. Hop was outraged to hear that this had happened. It was bad enough that she'd already been kidnapped and tied up by Bede before, now some Macro Cosmos employee had just tried to kidnap her! Why couldn't people just leave Ruby alone for once?
"We have to warn Lee and the Chairman!" Hop exclaimed, "If that man wanted to kidnap you, they have to know! Knowing the Chairman, he won't stand for his men trying to kidnap innocent kids like you!"
"I agree." Ruby said, "Which is way I stole this from the man."
She took out the thing she'd swiped from the man's pocket after kicking him in the groin. Hop looked at it. It was a Key Card, a standard issue for all Macro Cosmos employees to carry in order to gain access to the lifts in Rose Tower. At least they had a way into the tower so they could warn the two.
"Good snatch!" Hop complimented, "Though won't it be risky going in the tower? I mean, what if that man's not the only rogue employee in the company. What if he has accomplices?"
"We'll be ready for them, especially as we have our Pokémon." Ruby noted, "They won't get us."
"I have an even better idea." Hop quickly said, "I can phone Lee and tell him everything. That'll be much more sensible than risking our own lives out there."
Ruby slapped her forehead in annoyance. Of course they could! Why didn't that just occur to her? Hop whipped out his Rotom Phone and dialled Leon's number. He waited a few minutes as it rang. Unfortunately, he got the response he didn't want to hear. The phone informed him that the person he was trying to call was unable to answer and he should leave a message. Hop tried ringing him a second time. He got the same response. Hop frowned.
"Something's up. Lee's not answering." he muttered.
"I guess that either he's put his phone on silent as he doesn't want to be disturbed, he's lost signal or the signal's deliberately being blocked." Ruby said grimly, "If that man has accomplices, they'll not want me going off warning him or the Chairman."
"So it looks as if we HAVE to go in person." Hop said bluntly, "I hate to do this but what choice do we have? Let's go and warn my brother and the Chairman!"
The two children headed on out of the hotel to make their way to Rose Tower. In order to get there as quickly as possible, Ruby brought out Tiger the Arcanine so he could give the two a ride over. Arcanine were huge Pokémon, easily big enough for two teens to ride on. It was lucky for Ruby that Tiger hadn't taken too much damage after his fight with Hop's Toxtricity and had recovered pretty quickly in the Pokémon Centre earlier. Tiger bounded off, moving at a terrific speed. Despite the seriousness of the situation, Ruby and Hop found themselves whooping with joy. Riding on an Arcanine was an incredible experience and Tiger was no exception. He moved with such speed that it felt almost like being in a car than on a Pokémon's back. Ruby gripped Tiger's mane tightly so she wouldn't fall off and Hop wrapped his arms around her waist to keep himself balanced. He'd been quick to apologize for it but secretly, Ruby didn't mind him doing so. Several citizens looked in amazement as they watched Tiger bound through the streets. Some were curious where he and his riders were going but they didn't bother to ask as it was none of their business.
In a matter of minutes, Tiger had reached Rose Tower. Ruby and Hop stared up at the far-reaching skyscraper. It was quite different, and much scarier, seeing it up close than from a distance for they could truly get an appreciation for how big it really was. It almost made the kids want to turn around and go back as the thought of going up this colossal tower suddenly felt very dizzying and unnerving. But they had an important job to do and they couldn't let the height put them off. Ruby and Hop climbed off of Tiger and returned him to his Pokéball. Breathing in heavily, Ruby and Hop entered the tower. Hopefully the man that had tried to kidnap Ruby earlier didn't have any cohorts that would try and stop them now. As they entered, they were spotted by a woman at the reception desk and she called over to them.
"Sorry you two, children aren't allowed in Rose Tower." she said, her tone polite but blunt.
"No, no, it's OK. We were invited by the Chairman." Ruby lied, "I'm the Gym Challenger that's qualified for the Champion Cup and he invited me over to celebrate. He's Leon's brother." she added, gesturing over to Hop, "The Chairman said I could bring a friend." she added quickly.
The receptionist didn't seem very convinced.
"Wait here a moment." she said firmly.
She picked up the telephone and dialled a number. Ruby and Hop looked at each other uneasily. This was not going to work! She'd get a response telling her that they were lying and then the receptionist would throw them out! While they risked getting into serious trouble with security, they had no other choice. As the receptionist waited for her call to be answered, Ruby and Hop legged it. They darted over to the lift and Ruby slipped the Key Card into the slot to get it to open up. The receptionist spotted them and called out indignantly to them.
"Oy! You can't go in there! That's strictly off-limits to non-Macro Cosmos staff!"
Ruby and Hop ignored her. The lift doors closed and it began to take them up to the top of the tower. The receptionist grew worried. What would the Chairman think to this? Would he fire her for letting a couple of kids break into the tower? She still had the phone in her hand and she heard it buzz as her call was answered. It wasn't the Chairman who answered, but instead Oleana.
"We have intruders!" the receptionist cried, "They've run into the lift and are on their way up now! I'm sorry they got past me! I told them to wait and they didn't!"
"Who are the intruders?" Oleana asked.
Did the secretary sound strangely concerned? The receptionist thought so but ignored it as she answered.
"It's the Champion's brother and a silver-haired girl dressed in leather." she answered, "They told me the Chairman had invited them so I was hoping to call him to inquire about that."
"They were lying." Oleana replied, "The Chairman has passed no such invite. Don't worry. I shall deal with them myself."
The receptionist nodded. She knew too well that Oleana was the kind of woman who liked to deal with intruders personally. It was one of many reasons why she was Rose's right-hand woman after all. With the matter considered dealt with, the receptionist hung up and resumed her duties. She looked forward to hearing how Oleana dealt with those meddlesome kids…
While all this had been happening, Chairman Rose and Leon had been talking together. They were right at the top of Rose Tower, the Battle Tower as it was referred to as. It was a huge battle arena with a domed ceiling that easily had a lot of room for Pokémon battles to happen, even when they Dynamaxed. The most elite of Pokémon Trainers battled here and would compete for prizes that couldn't be won anywhere else. Rose and Leon were looking over Wyndon City, the whole metropolis stretched out beneath their feet like some giant map they'd unrolled. They could see the whole city from Wyndon Stadium to the Wyndon Eye. They could even see a bit of forest and mountains outside of the city. The view was spectacular and despite the two having been up in the tower to see it before, it still never failed to amaze them. They almost felt like a pair of kings looking over their kingdom and admiring what they had built up.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" Rose said, his voice full of admiration for his region's capital city, "Everything we've built up over generations, and kept alive with the energy my company provides. Galar truly has become a prosperous region for all to enjoy."
"It's a view I could never tire of." Leon admitted, "Before I become a Pokémon trainer, I could only dream of seeing a view like this. The first time I came up here after becoming Champion…" he sighed as a wave of nostalgia swept over him, "…I'll never forget how incredible it felt to see it for myself."
"And as we know, it's a view that could quickly turn ugly if we don't act now." Rose said cryptically, fiddling with his cufflinks as if trying to get them to fit right, "I worry for our future Leon…"
"I know, we've had this conversation enough times already." Leon said dismissively, "You're concerned about Galar's power supply and how we could have a big power crisis in the future. I get that, but what I don't get is why you're so hung up about it. As I've pointed out, this thing's about a thousand years away from becoming a problem!"
"The fact it'll become a problem at all is why it concerns me!" Rose snapped, "And what if your estimates are wrong, Leon? This power crisis could come in ten years, ten days or ten minutes for all we know! It's why I began Project: Eternatus, to solve this energy crisis before it becomes a crisis."
"And you never thought to consider that that monster you have locked up under Hammerlocke City might cause a new problem instead of solving this one?" the Champion said sternly, "From what I know, Eternatus seems to be a creature made of living energy. How do we know that instead of solving your little problem, it won't just eat the entire energy supply for itself?"
"We've been carrying out this project for long enough to know the risks Leon." the Chairman insisted, "I'm confident we have control of Eternatus. There won't be any risks to our region's safety once we release it."
"How positive are you?" Leon asked coldly.
Rose seemed to hesitate for a moment.
"Very." he said, though his tone of voice suggested otherwise.
"I should hope so." Leon said grimly, "I'd hate it if I had to be the one to clean up your mess. But promise me one thing, Mr. Rose." he added, "If you're going to carry out Project: Eternatus, don't release it on the day of the Champion Cup. I'd hate it if Galar's biggest competition had to be interrupted because you're too impatient to wait to solve a problem that won't be a problem for years to come."
"I'd honestly prefer to solve the whole thing before it can become a problem at all." Rose said, "I know we have the Champion Cup tomorrow but as I say, the sooner the better."
"Chairman…" Leon said firmly.
Rose sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose in exasperation.
"I suppose I can delay for a day." the billionaire said at last, "OK Leon, I won't carry out my plans until after the competition."
Leon smiled appreciatively.
"Thanks sir. I knew you'd see reason." he said brightly, "Is that all you need me for? If so, I'd really like to get to the hotel. Ruby and Hop are waiting to have dinner with me."
"Then don't let me keep you waiting any longer." Rose said kindly, "You're not needed anymore. Enjoy your evening and don't forget to pass on my congratulations to Miss Silverlock for qualifying for the Champion Cup."
Leon nodded. He was about to head on out of the tower until suddenly, Oleana came in. Her emotionless face as usual gave nothing away despite the fact she had urgent news to give. Rose was used to it. Oleana could be telling him that the sky was falling and she'd probably have the same expression.
"Sir, Champion, I must insist you vacate the building immediately." Oleana reported, "We have intruders. They're making their way up here now."
"Intruders?" Rose asked, "Why haven't the alarms been sounded?"
"I thought it'd be funny to let them think we haven't noticed and then catch them by surprise." Oleana said dryly, "Now please, you must leave now."
"If there's intruders, I can handle them!" Leon insisted, "I AM the Champion, you know."
"Oh you won't need to waste your talents on them, Leon." Oleana said bluntly, "I'll deal with them. You just focus on making sure the Chairman is safely escorted out."
Leon understood what Oleana meant. As the Champion, he was by far the most qualified to keep Rose safe from harm. If the intruders were after the Chairman, Oleana would slow them down enough for him to get Rose away and if they got past her, he would then be the next line of defence. Leon and Rose headed towards another lift nearby to take it down and sneak out of the building. But as they made their way over, Rose was beginning to doubt Oleana's story. Why hadn't the alarms been sounded? The alarms ALWAYS went off whenever there were intruders! And why did Oleana seem so determined to get rid of them herself? She would usually rely on the guards to handle that and only come in as a last resort. Instead of taking the lift, Rose went over to another door that lead to a staircase that would take them down to the bottom. The staircase was there to use if the lifts were out of order. Once he and Leon went through the door, Rose closed it but not fully and stayed by to listen in.
"Sir, we should evacuate like your secretary says!" Leon hissed.
"I want to see for myself who these "intruders" are…" Rose said grimly.
He and Leon peeked through the door to see Oleana standing in the centre of the arena with her back straight and her arms folded. She looked like a military woman about to give orders with her stance. Minutes later, a lift pinged as it reached the top floor and to Rose and Leon's surprise, out came Ruby and Hop. Their eyes widened. Why the heck were they here? They watched as Ruby and Hop ran up to Oleana. The stern woman gave them a look of distaste, as if offended that they'd dared to come here.
"I was warned we had intruders. I didn't think it would be you two brats." Oleana said scornfully, "Didn't the receptionist tell you that children aren't allowed up here?"
"We're very sorry Oleana, but we have an important message to give the Chairman!" Ruby panted, "We tried to ring Leon but he wasn't answering so we had to come in person to give him the news!"
"One of his employees tried to kidnap Ruby!" Hop exclaimed, "We had to let him know about that!"
Rose couldn't believe his ears. One of his own employees had tried to abduct Ruby? How could they do something like that! He prided himself on hiring only people with good moral codes! He listened on as Oleana responded.
"My, my, what a tall tale to tell." the secretary said dismissively, "Why ever would you break into Rose Tower to tell a big lie like that? Didn't your mothers teach you that lying is wrong?"
"We're NOT lying!" Ruby snapped angrily, "I'm telling you, a Macro Cosmos employee tried to kidnap me! He came to me, said the Chairman wanted to see me but instead of taking me here, he tried to take me somewhere else and when I objected, he grabbed me and tried to haul me off! I'm pretty sure he's been arrested so you can flock down to the local police station and ask him yourself if you want!"
Oleana still didn't budge.
"I've never heard such rubbish in my life." she said coldly, "I think you've been battling too hard. It's affecting your mental health. You no longer have any idea on what you're saying. I suggest you leave right now before I'm forced to have you arrested for trespassing."
"I'm not going anywhere until I see the Chairman!" Ruby growled, refusing to move, "I don't know what your problem is but I'm not making this stuff up! Either take me to the Chairman or get out of my way! It's VITAL that he hears this!"
Oleana was outraged. Who the hell did this little brat think she was talking to her like that?! She was so going to enjoy putting this impudent girl in her place! Narrowing her eyes, Oleana produced something that Ruby never would've expected her to have…a Pokéball. So it seemed that Chairman Rose's right-hand woman was more than just a secretary. She was a trainer as well! Ruby could sense where this was going and didn't bother trying to object. It was clear that a Pokémon battle was the only way this was going to go.
"So be it. If you won't leave, I'll have to force the issue." Oleana said coldly, "You may be our rising star, little Ruby, but that doesn't mean you're invincible. Allow me to show you what power my Pokémon possess!"
For the first time either, Oleana's face changed. She no longer looked stoic and wooden, but deathly serious and somewhat mad. It unnerved Ruby to see her suddenly display an emotion like that. She watched as Oleana brought out her first Pokémon. She had summoned the Ice/Ghost type Pokémon Froslass, a species first discovered in the Sinnoh region and was one of two forms that the Pokémon Snorunt could evolve into. Froslass was a faintly humanoid Pokémon that was basically a floating head with a long hollow body and thin arms connected to the head rather than the body itself. It looked a little like someone wearing a kimono. It had two ice crystals on its head that resembled horns and a red ribbon around its body. It was also a female-only species of Pokémon. Ruby knew too well what this Pokémon was. Froslass was one of Sapphire's favourite Pokémon and she said that when she became a trainer, it would be one of the first Pokémon she'd catch. Ruby whipped out a Pokéball of her own.
"I hope the Chairman will forgive me for this…" she muttered, knowing how bad it would probably look if he could see her having a battle with his right-hand woman.
Little did she know that he WAS watching and he was concerned about Ruby's accusations and why Oleana seemed unwilling to listen to her. He wanted to come out and sort everything out but now a battle was about to happen, he decided to stay put and watch. Even Leon was interested to see how Ruby would handle this. The two men watched Ruby bring out her first Pokémon, which was Lancelot the Bisharp. It was the first time since he'd evolved that she'd used him as he'd been too over-levelled to use until now. He clanged his arms together, eager for a fight. Froslass made the first move as Oleana ordered it to use Will-O-Wisp to burn Lancelot. Froslass waved its arms and summoned wisps of flames that surrounded Lancelot and then hit him, making him wince. His steel body felt hot as the burn affected him but he was otherwise alright.
"Do you seriously think burning me will stop me?" he crowed.
"No it won't." Ruby said grimly, "Use Nigh Slash!"
Lancelot wasted no time as he followed Ruby's order. Dark energy surrounded the blades on his arms as he catapulted himself at Froslass and slashed viciously at it. Froslass cringed in pain as the dark energy sapped away some of its health. It wasn't down yet but it wouldn't last much longer. Its health was so low that another Night Slash would finish it off easily. Even the burn Lancelot had received wouldn't save Froslass now. Oleana wasn't willing to give up. She ordered Froslass to use Double Team. Double Team was a status move that increased a Pokémon's evasiveness. Froslass created several illusions of itself that began circling around Lancelot, hoping to distract him and leave him wondering which one was the real Froslass. Lancelot watched the images spin around him, momentarily disoriented by them. But Ruby didn't let that slow her down.
"Use Night Slash on all of them!" she commanded.
Lancelot obeyed, spinning on the tips of his toes and swinging his arms around like some killer spinning top. He ploughed through all the images of Froslass until eventually, he hit the real one. He sliced through it and Froslass cried out as it was hit. As expected, that was enough to finish it off. Froslass collapsed onto its side and Lancelot celebrated by scraping his arms together, creating showers of sparks that danced down all over him.
"That wasn't even worth my time." he crowed, "I hope tomorrow, I get a REAL challenge!"
Oleana sniffed as she returned Froslass to its Pokéball and took out a second one.
"Not bad…now let's see you handle this one!" she sneered, throwing the ball to summon her next Pokémon.
This one was a species native to the Alola region and, like Froslass, was a female only species. It was called Salazzle, a Poison/Fire type Pokémon that evolved only from female Salandits. It had a long, slender body that emphasized its feminine nature and looked like some kind of lizard standing on two legs. It had black scales, a dark purple underbelly, pink markings and a long whippy tail. Ruby knew that this one would be dangerous for Lancelot to fight as Steel-types like him were weak to Fire so she returned him to his ball and exchanged him for another Pokémon. This one was weak to Fire as well but it had type-coverage for Salazzle so she was confident it could win the fight before Salazzle could. Ruby threw the ball and out came Hawk Moth the Butterfree. He twirled his cane around in his tiny hands and pointed it like a rapier at Salazzle.
"Ah, another promising minion for me. Maybe I can akumatize this one." he purred eagerly.
"If you do, you can use it to teach its trainer not to be such a *****." Ruby muttered.
"You really should watch your language, young lady." Oleana said, sounding like a condescending mother, "Salazzle, use Incinerate on that insolent little bug!"
Salazzle opened its jaws and breathed a torrent of flames at Hawk Moth. Hawk Moth braced himself for impact as the flames swept over him. Despite the super-effective hit, Hawk Moth was strong enough for him to take the hit and remain in the battle. He flapped his wings to shake off the attack and cackled.
"How pathetic…if you were my little akuma minion, you'd be MUCH more powerful than that!" he sneered.
"Let's show it real power by using Psychic on it!" Ruby ordered.
Hawk Moth pointed his makeshift cane at Salazzle as if that was the source of his power and sent waves of psychic energy sweeping over the fiery salamander. As it was half-poison type, Salazzle was weak to Psychic attacks and they didn't have fantastic defences so unlike Hawk Moth, this super-effective hit was enough to knock it out in a single blow. Salazzle collapsed onto the floor, making Oleana gasp at how easily it had gone down, and to a mere Butterfree no less! Growing frustrated, Oleana returned Salazzle and brought out her next Pokémon.
This one was the Grass-type Pokémon Tsareena. It was another female-only species of Pokémon and was the final form of Bounsweet. It looked like a humanoid plant creature with wide hips, dark purple eyes with long eyelashes, long, thick legs that looked like it was wearing boots, long leafy hair and rather spindly arms. This Pokémon was said to punish anyone that approaches it with evil in mind. It was ironic that it should be working for Oleana in spite of that. Ruby withdrew Hawk Moth and exchanged him for a Pokémon that Tsareena wouldn't stand a chance against: Soundwave the Noivern. Oleana didn't flinch, refusing to be intimidated by the wyvern-like Pokémon.
Ruby made the first move by having Soundwave use Flamethrower on Tsareena. Soundwave unleashing a huge jet of flames that swept over Tsareena and made it cry out as the flames licked away at its body. To Ruby's surprise, Tsareena was able to take the hit despite being met with a flamethrower from a pseudo-legendary Pokémon like Soundwave. That was alright though, Tsareena wouldn't have anything that could threaten Soundwave in return anyway. Oleana ordered Tsareena to use Acrobatics on her opponent. Acrobatics was a Flying-type move that did double damage if the user wasn't holding any items. Tsareena didn't have any items but the increased power didn't do it any favours. It performed some acrobatic flips and struck Soundwave hard but as he was half-Flying type, a flying type move wasn't going to do much to him. Soundwave barely even flinched as he was hit. In response, Ruby ordered him to use Air Slash. Soundwave swung his wing and sliced at Tsareena, taking out what health it had left and leaving Oleana with another Pokémon down. The Grass Pokémon collapsed at its trainer's feet, making Oleana stare incredulously while Soundwave gave a growling laugh of mockery.
"Soundwave: Superior. Tsareena: Inferior." he purred.
"Seriously Oleana, just pack it in already! You're only going to humiliate yourself." Ruby insisted.
"We came here with urgent news and you decided to make a mountain of a Drilbur hill!" Hop put in, "Call off the fight and let us see the Chairman already!"
"Not a chance!" Oleana growled, sounding almost hysterical as she returned Tsareena to its Pokéball, "My job is to deal with intruders, and deal with you I shall! Milotic, sweep them away with an ocean wave!" she screeched, throwing her next Pokéball.
She had summoned the beautiful and graceful Water-type Pokémon, Milotic. It was native to the Hoenn region and was very popular for its attractive appearance. It looked like a sea serpent, albeit a very graceful looking one, with pink antennae above its eyes, a cream coloured body, long red hair like fins that started from its eyes and thickened towards the tips and a blue and red tail that had four diamond shaped scales at the tip. Ruby felt a slight pang in her chest upon seeing this Pokémon. She remembered her dad telling her how his Arcanine had been killed by one of these Pokémon when he was a trainer. But she wasn't going to fight it for that reason. For all she knew, it wasn't even the one that had done the deed. She returned Soundwave and exchanged him for the very Pokémon that would handle this Water-type easily.
Ruby had chosen Freddy the Toxtricity, knowing his sheer power would take it down. She was right. As soon as he entered the battle, Ruby ordered him to use Overdrive. The Poison/Electric Pokémon strummed his chest organs and blasted Milotic with a huge jolt of electricity that took it down in a single hit. Milotic were notoriously hard to take down thanks to their bulky defences but in this case, it hadn't helped it whatsoever. Milotic collapsed onto its side and twitched furiously from the electric shock. Freddy just folded his arms, looking strangely venomous despite his usual showboating personality. It was if he could sense that things were tense and knew it was time to be serious. Even Ruby felt it was unusual to see Freddy this way. He couldn't even be bothered to perform a song to celebrate his victory like usual! Oleana returned Milotic and sighed, sounding irritated that she was down to her last while Ruby still had all six Pokémon left. How was she being beaten by this mere child so easily?!
"OK little Ruby, you've proven yourself worthy of qualifying for tomorrow's competition. But playtime's over!" Oleana insisted, "My last Pokémon will truly take out the garbage that I'm forced to deal with!"
She summoned her last Pokémon, which Ruby was expecting to be another feminine looking Pokémon as Oleana's team seemed to consist mostly of those. But to her shock and disgust…it was nothing of the sort. She was now faced with one of the most hated species of Pokémon ever…Garbodor. This species was native to the Unova region and had a very poor reputation for literally being sentient rubbish bags. It was a hideous looking Pokémon that truly looked like something that was meant to be thrown away and it gave off a revolting smell that made Ruby and Hop gag. Garbodor were known to eat rubbish and turn it into poisonous gases that they could use to defeat their enemies. Very few people had any love for this revolting Pokémon so Ruby had to wonder why Oleana had one. Did she seriously see something in it that nobody else did? Or was it meant to be a physical representation of her as a person: someone who's rubbish at displaying emotions?
Ruby returned Freddy and exchanged him for another Pokémon that would, in this case, take out the garbage easily. Vesuvius the Coalossal was brought out and she looked very mad.
"For Arceus's sake, it's bad enough we had one person kidnapping my trainer, why did somebody else have to go and try it?!" she grumbled.
"I don't know, but we would've been able to deal with it if SOMEBODY wasn't being so stubborn and refusing to listen!" Ruby snarled, glaring at Oleana to emphasize the fact that this was all down to her.
"So you're the reason we're being held up, eh?" Vesuvius said crossly, "Well don't expect me to go easy on you, missy! You can that Garbodor better say your prayers!"
"You're welcome to try." Oleana sniffed, "Especially as my Garbodor can make use of my wonderful invention…"
It was at this moment that Ruby noticed something she had never noticed about Oleana before: she was wearing a Dynamax band. She had called it her "wonderful invention". Did that mean Oleana was the inventor of the Dynamax band? Ruby didn't care. She was going to Dynamax her Pokémon just like Oleana was so she wouldn't have the advantage. Both trainers activated their Dynamax bands and in a matter of moments, both Vesuvius and Garbodor grew to giant size. They grew so big that they nearly touched the ceiling of the Battle Tower. It was lucky that it had been built to be so big, otherwise there would've been no room for Dynamaxing in this place. Garbodor hadn't just Dynamaxed, it had Gigantamaxed. What had been a sentient pile of rubbish now looked like a giant landfill of rubbish with various objects around its body that resembled giant toys of some kind from a wind-up boat to an aeroplane keyring and even a Clefairy toy. This was actually its toxic gases taking on solid shapes. The smell also seemed to get even worse as it Gigantamaxed and Ruby had to physically restrain herself from vomiting. Oleana somehow didn't seem effected by the repulsive odour of her Pokémon. How the hell could she stand that stench?!
"Now Garbodor, use Max Quake and get rid of these pests!" Oleana screeched.
Garbodor obeyed, raising its arms and slamming them down to create a huge shockwave that rippled through the floor and slammed into Vesuvius. Max Quake was a good move to use on a Coalossal as the species had a quadruple weakness to Ground attacks. But unfortunately for Oleana, it wasn't enough. Despite the powerful attack, Vesuvius didn't go down. She was clearly hurt by Garbodor's attack but was still very much active. Her defences had held up and Garbodor's attack hadn't been enough to overcome them. Vesuvius shook herself off and smirked at her opponent.
"Aw come on, you call that an attack?" she boomed, her amplified voice echoing all over the tower, "I'll show you a REAL attack!"
"Indeed!" Ruby smirked, "Show Oleana what a REAL Max Quake feels like!"
Vesuvius didn't need to be asked twice. She activated her own Max Quake and unlike Garbodor's her's was a one-hit KO. The massive attack slammed into the garbage pile Pokémon and knocked it clean out. Even its Gigantamax form hadn't done it any favours in this battle. It fell over backwards, returning to normal as the Dynamax energy ran out, and lay still on the floor. Oleana gaped at her defeated Pokémon, unable to believe she'd been bested so easily. This couldn't be! How could she, the Chairman's right-hand woman, have been beaten by a mere child?! She was beginning to understand why this girl was Galar's new rising star and the one that could potentially move on to compete for the title against Leon. It was foolish of her to think she'd ever been in with a chance. Oleana sighed in defeat as Vesuvius returned to her normal size and Ruby returned her to her Pokéball. She couldn't even muster up the energy to be annoyed or upset about it. Just disappointed.
"Oh Oleana, you truly are a hopeless woman…" she moaned.
"I gave you a chance to back off." Ruby said coldly, "It's your own fault for being such a big-head. Now we've had that pointless conflict resolved, do you mind telling me where the Chairman is so I can tell him what's happened to me?"
"The Chairman is right here, and very impressed with how you defeated my right-hand woman so easily." came the very voice she'd wanted to hear.
Ruby, Hop and Oleana gasped in surprise as Rose and Leon emerged from their hiding place and strode over to them. Rose looked stern as he fixed his eyes on Oleana. The first time in her life, the skinny woman looked nervous. Ruby knew it was cruel to feel this way, but a part of her was finding it amusing to see her looking so afraid.
"Ch-Ch-Chairman?! Wh-what are you doing here? I-I o-ordered you to evacuate!" Oleana stammered.
"I was going to, but a few things didn't add up so I decided to watch you secretly to see what was going on." Rose explained, "I must say, I'm appalled at how dismissive you were towards Miss Silverlock's claims. This girl has already been a victim of kidnapping at the hands of Bede, why do you think she'd come to us and make up a story like that? If there's an employee of mine trying to abduct her, I have every right to know!"
"If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were hiding something." Leon said suspiciously, "You seemed awfully keen to get rid of us when Ruby and Hop came in and you seemed just as keen to get rid of them…"
Ruby nodded. She was thinking the same thing herself. Why did Oleana act so confrontational to her when she'd been telling her story? Why had she been so keen to send them out and keep her from the Chairman? Maybe…
"It was you, wasn't it?" Ruby snarled accusingly, "You hired that man to kidnap me, didn't you?!"
"Don't be insolent you stupid girl! What possible reason could I have to want to abduct you?" Oleana retorted.
Everybody knew instantly that she was lying. She'd been way too quick to deny the fact and was again getting needlessly hostile about such an accusation. Rose eyed her sternly.
"Oleana, is Miss Silverlock's accusation correct?" he insisted, "Are you the one responsible for the attempted kidnapping?"
Oleana froze up. She was tempted to try and weasel her way out of this, maybe try and spin things to make Ruby look like some insolent kid wanting attention. But it was useless. No matter how much trouble she was going to be in, she couldn't lie to the Chairman. He'd only find out it was her anyway so why bother keeping up the pretence?
"Y-yes sir…" Oleana blurted, her voice dripping with guilt, "I hired Elijah to bring Ruby to Hammerlocke Stadium. But you must understand, it was for the good of Project: Eternatus! The project's not ready as they can't awaken Eternatus! We haven't got enough energy so I thought bringing Ruby to us would solve that issue!"
"And you didn't think to simply ASK her that instead of trying to kidnap her?" Rose retorted.
"I only asked Elijah to escort her over to the stadium!" Oleana protested, "He's the one that chose to make it seem like a kidnapping!"
"Taking someone to another place under false pretences is still abduction." Rose said firmly, "You were going to take her somewhere else without her consent. You can't spin this in a way that makes you look innocent Oleana. You decided to commit a criminal act instead of simply asking Ruby if she wanted to help in Project: Eternatus. What on Earth were you thinking, damn it?!" he snapped angrily.
Everyone recoiled. It wasn't often that the Chairman snapped at people like that. The Chairman sighed heavily, running a hand over his forehead.
"What is the world coming to…" he muttered, "First the Gym Challenger I endorse turns out to be a bad egg, and now my own secretary goes against my better judgement. I may have to re-evaluate who I place my trust in in future. Oleana, you're fired. I expect your office to be tidied out by tomorrow."
Oleana stared at the Macro Cosmos founder as if he'd just turned into Garbodor. She wanted to argue, try and convince the Chairman to change his mind and let her redeem herself for her rash actions. But why bother? There was NO arguing with the Chairman when he was in this mood. She looked down at her feet in shame.
"Y-yes sir." Oleana mumbled.
And with that, she was gone. She walked sadly out of the room and took the lift to clear out her office. Ruby watched her leave and didn't turn away until the lift doors had closed. She had no sympathy at all for the emotionless woman. Like Bede, she was another person who would never be a threat to her again. She turned to face the Chairman, who once again was as apologetic as ever.