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It took Silver a further day to make it down Mt. Silver. The blizzards became so bad that he had to shield himself by hiding in an assortment of caves and crevices in the mountain. By the time he reached the base of the mountain, he almost felt close to collapsing, but pulled himself together as he journeyed through Viridian and the accompanying forest. He made it back to Pallet Town as the fiery sun rose up at the dawn of a new day, bathing the land in a strange, surreal light. After he'd got a fair distance away from the mountain, his journey thankfully became a lot easier, mainly due to the fact that the weather was much calmer and milder. As soon as he entered the town, he went to find Blue. She was waiting for him as she promised she would, even though he'd taken longer than expected. She was talking excitedly on her Pokégear to someone, but quickly put it down when she saw Silver. "Hi!" she greeted him brightly, grinning widely. "How was your trip? Everyone else is already here. Unova's Dex Holders were quicker than expected, considering they're so far away..." "Blue-" he began, only to be cut off. "Hey... where's Red, by the way?" He couldn't bear to look at her, knowing how the news would affect her. But he had to tell her. He steadied himself, forced himself to look her in the eye and began to explain. -***- There are times in life when the shock of an event is so great, it is hard for those it impacts to let out their emotions. There are times where there is nothing else to do but cry. The reactions of the Dex Holders when they first heard of Red's demise were scattered across this spectrum. Some of them- Sapphire, Gold, Pearl and Black, namely- were downright furious, immediately planning to do something about it- inevitably, this would turn out to be going after Team Rocket. Others were plain upset. Tears were shed and arguments were had. Silver wasn't surprised, frankly. Teenagers were susceptible to a wide variety of emotions. After the initial uproar had calmed down a little (which still wasn't much), the police were called. The next few hours were a blur of interviews, investigations and coffee. It was hard to recall precisely what had happened. By the end, most of the Pokedex Holders were thoroughly exhausted. All fourteen remaining Dex Holders sat in the police station's waiting room in varying states of boredom. It was oddly silent for a normally energetic group. There were a few half-hearted words exchanged, but not much else. It wasn't over quite yet, however. Footsteps broke the silence as a small, mousy woman entered the waiting room. "We need to speak to you to relay some information," she began, then as the group began to stand, hurriedly added: "But just a few of you. The only room free is too small for too many people." A few muttered words were whispered among the Dex Holders as they elected three of their number to attend this discussion. Eventually, the Johto trio slowly stood up. "Okay, please follow me." the woman said shortly, and lead them down a shadowy, bland corridor to a solid grey door."Through here please." They entered the room in silence. -***- “There are some things you should know about this investigation.” the chief police inspector began as soon as the three sat down in the uncomfortable plastic chairs provided. He was apparently the one leading the investigation and had the look of a man who did not have time for silly questions. “For one thing, it would be far too dangerous at this point in time to carry out an investigation.” The heavyset man sat at the desk in front of them, glaring them down, his tone cold and almost condescending. He clasped his hands in front of him on the table, shifting forward in his chair. At the confused looks on the Johto trio's faces, he continued. “Mount Silver is already in its most dangerous season. From now, the snow storms will get increasingly worse. If we send a team up there, they may be injured or even killed.” “That's fair enough..” Crys responded, nodding in agreement, but it didn't seem genuine. “But... what about-” “Of course,” the police inspector began talking over her. “This means that we will be unable to locate the corpse for around two months.” “Two months?!” Gold bristled. “That's pretty disrespectful... you're gonna leave him to rot up there?” The police inspector shot him a glare, taking a sip from the mug in front of him. “You have to understand that this is in the best interests of our team.” “We... can't really argue with that, Gold.” Silver attempted to pacify the reckless boy. Gold sighed, but didn't make any other protest. “There's another thing.” The inspector's expression became all the more serious. All of a sudden, it seemed darker in the room. The noise from the outside seemed to muffle itself. It was like this room had suddenly become separate from reality to process what was about to occur. Instinctively, Gold looked around at his two friends, but they refused to meet his gaze. The inspector coughed, drawing attention back to him. “The public cannot know anything about the death of the victim.” "Wait, what the- What do you mean, 'the public can't know'?" Gold leaned forwards, giving the police inspector an incredulous look. His tone was already beginning to get agitated. "Red was murdered! By Team Rocket! If the people don't find out, lives could be in danger, damn it!" He slammed a fist on the desk in front of him to make a point. While Crys agreed with him, she couldn't help but roll her eyes at his hot-headed actions. She extended a hand to tap him on the shoulder in a weak attempt to calm him down. This outburst was not going to help their case. The police inspector was evidently unimpressed, as he let out an overly-dramatic sigh and aimed a cold glance at the Johto trio. "If the public find out," he said slowly. "There will be mass panic. If Team Rocket are back and have this time managed to take down the most powerful trainer in Kanto… It means that this time, their plans could succeed. The population will react extremely badly to this-" At this, Gold let out a huff of rage and mumbled something along the lines of 'no shit, Sherlock.' The police inspector ignored him and continued. "-Which would give Team Rocket more reason to attack. They'd increase the terror amongst the population and give themselves even more of an advantage. Therefore, it is best that we keep the case under wraps until we are able to devise a plan to stop Team Rocket... It's what's best for the region." "Best for the region?" Crys couldn't help but jump once more into the discussion. Admittedly, she was getting a bit worked up herself. "Red's been killed brutally and you want to protect the region? Right now, shouldn't the priority be working out who needs help? They could be after the rest of the Pokédex Holders, too! We need to be protecting ourselves, and our juniors, and making sure that our families are all safe..." The police inspector shook his head. "The needs of the majority outweigh the needs of the few." "So you're gonna let us die!" Gold snapped, shaking his head bitterly. He could hardly believe what he was hearing. He clenched his fists. "That's not what I'm saying." "It's what you're implying!" The raven-haired Dex Holder got to his feet, his face flushing red as he got even more angered. "The region ain't in any danger yet and the people are safe until we prove otherwise!" "The people are undoubtedly in danger. We've got to focus on defending them-" "That's what you keep saying! Quit repeating yourself!" Silver remained silent during the shouting match, thinking things through in the corner. It was true that they needed to protect themselves, but most of the Dex Holders were capable of that anyway. They wouldn't need police help. While he understood Crys and Gold's fears, he believed that if they tried to get assistance from the useless police, they would just be wasting time. It was best to try and find Team Rocket straight away. He shivered slightly. Was this the new plan- to kill the Dex Holders once and for all? It was certainly a sudden change in tactics. He couldn't bear to think about his own personal links with Team Rocket at this point in time. The thought of what his... father may be doing now made him feel sick. "Keeping the whole affair secret from the public wouldn't help us. It isn't 'protecting' them from anything. It just makes them more at risk." Silver finally spoke up. "What he said!" Gold shouted, glaring at the police inspector. "I'm sorry, but that's just how it is. It has been the decision of every officer on this case." the police inspector continued, unperturbed. "And as of now, it is a criminal offence for any one of you to inform the public of this case." This was followed by a stream of furious arguments from the trio. Crys and Silver tried to disprove the inspector’s claims, while Gold ended up letting out an angry stream of spluttering. The police inspector ignored them and got to his feet, a flicker of annoyance passing over his expression. "This meeting has reached its conclusion. There is nothing more you can do at this point in time. If you wish to protect yourselves, then do so, but we will not help you. Additionally, we will know if you try to let the public know of this. You will be endangering them if you do." The police inspector headed out of the room, pausing at the door. "Have a good day." With that, he was gone, leaving three seething Dex Holders in his wake. -***- "They're doing what?!" "Is that even legal? God, I knew the Kanto law system was messed up, but…" "Oh man, just let me near that slimy police inspector guy and I will beat him up so badly for ya-" "Don't be so barbaric! You'll just get arrested. That won’t help anyone." Needless to say, the rest of the Dex Holders were hardly pleased at the revelation that were the police not helping them at all. The news that they were banned from informing the public of the imminent danger of Team Rocket caused even more of a ruckus. It took several minutes to calm everyone down to a point where the matter could be discussed. Even then, it was obvious that each Dex Holder was completely fuming. They’d already suffered in the face of tragedy and now they had to deal with the knowledge that they were on their own from now on. The group of fourteen was gathered around the round pine-wood table in the hotel's bland, cheerless conference room, all with varying stages of worry, anger and fear in their expressions. After the Johto trio had emerged from the conference room, they'd headed back to the hotel where the fourteen of them would be staying for the duration of the meeting. It was then that they'd taken the conference room to discuss what was currently going on. The conversation of the last ten or so minutes had mainly consisted of the Johto trio explaining their experience to the others. It had taken longer than it should have done, as other members of their group kept interjecting with questions or exclamations of anger. The general consensus was that something had to be done, whatever the cost. "So what if the police try to arrest us?" Emerald shouted across the table. "Stuff 'em! They can't stop us!" "I have to agree..." Platinum spoke up. "Not about going against the law, though. It's our duty to assist the population. We cannot simply allow innocent people to get hurt. Protecting the world and its population has always been a priority. By keeping them in ignorance, we are not helping them." Blue shrugged, fiddling with the keys of her Pokegear as she spoke. "I agree completely... But like we've already said, we have to think about Team Rocket's immediate plans. If they're after us Dex Holders first, we need to plan some way to defend ourselves."There was a mumble of assent from the gathered group." There's another thing." Crys spoke up, slowly, as if unsure of whether to mention it. The Dex Holders were already worked up and she wouldn't be any help if she fuelled their anger. Nevertheless, it was important information and they needed to know. "The inspector also mentioned that it's too dangerous at this point in time to investigate Mt. Silver- the blizzards are getting worse. Send someone up there, they'll die... so Red's body won't be retrieved for a good few weeks." "What the hell?!" Sapphire leapt to her feet, clenching her fists. Several of the others shuffled slightly away to avoid getting hit in the face. "Can't they get some sorta Pokémon that can withstand that? God dang, this police force is the worst! Are they even trying?" "To be fair, at least they're not doing that on purpose, too. That'd be the final nail in the coffin-" Ruby began. A look of gradual horror appeared on his face. "Oh god, that's a very bad metaphor to be using at this point in time! I apologise entirely for my mistake!" Sapphire rolled her eyes and muttered something rude under her breath. Ruby shot her a dark look and opened his mouth to say something. Before they could begin an argument again, Emerald banged his fist on the surface of the table. The pair looked up, falling silent. "Both of you! Don't start now!" he shouted. "This ain't the time to be arguing, after all!" "Fine, fine." "Okay..." "So... what should we do now?" White asked, biting her lip. She was picking at the hem of her shirt, tugging at loose threads nervously. "Do we just head back to our home regions?" "No." Green shook his head, speaking for the first time since he'd heard the news. His reaction to the whole situation was indecipherable. "It's far too risky. Even if Team Rocket doesn't act in Hoenn, Sinnoh and Unova, it's likely they have agents overseas. We need to stay together. For now, we'll just remain in this hotel and work out training plans. For now, just head to your rooms for the night. We can talk more in the morning." Several of the Dex Holders got to their feet at this, relieved to be finally able to go to sleep and temporarily forget about the tragedies of the day. The rest soon followed, shoving chairs awkwardly back under the table. Crys had to prod Gold, who was staring off into the distance and apparently not paying attention. It was an out of character action, but then everyone was too messed up by the latest events to keep up a normal facade. “Goodnight, everyone, I guess.” “Yeah, goodnight.”They parted ways at the door, setting off down the corridors to their respective room. The atmosphere was heavy and strange. Outside, the winds howled a mournful song for the dead. The air was eerily silent. The clocks kept ticking.