Remember that old man on the construction site in Vermillion City? He and his faithful Machop were flattening the ground for some ambiguous construction project. They had apparently been at it for three years.
There’s more to the story.
The story begins is Lavender Town. The Lavender Town chapter of Pokemon Red and Blue was short but left a profound impact on the player. Team Rocket was at it again, stealing the skulls of the Cubones of the tower. Local celebrity Mr. Fuji attempted to stop them but was easily subdued and taken hostage. You, the valiant hero, rescued Mr. Fuji and put an end to Team Rocket’s nefarious plot.
The story was juvenile, but there seemed to be so much more to it. Perhaps it is the music that played; it sounds, quite simply, like fear. It leant to an ambience and intensity not present elsewhere in the game. No wonder it is recalled with such vividness by those who grew up playing the game.
But isn’t it curious that, for a town so dedicated to preserving the resting place of Pokemon, a mere three years later the tower had been replaced with a radio tower? Lavender Town had obviously changed the first time you traveled there in Gold and Silver. Aside from the aesthetic changes, the music was now lighthearted and whimsical, entirely different in mood than the previous generation, but beneath the cheerful arrangement of the music was the same haunting melody. Things were not as they appeared.
You see, there was more to Team Rocket’s involvement than you had imagined.
Lavender Town, during the time of Red and Blue, was struggling. It was a town without a draw; it lacked a Pokemon Gym or anything else to attract tourists. Fuchsia had a Safari Zone, Pewter had a museum, Cinnabar had a famous laboratory, etc., but all Lavender Town had was essentially a massive graveyard that was free to visit. Its feeble Poke-Mart paled in comparison to the huge Celadon department store, which was easily accessible through the underground path to the west. Lavender Town was easily the poorest town of Kanto.
One day, a businessman approached the mayor of Lavender Town with a proposition. Radio was a fad that had taken the nearby Johto region by storm. He proposed the demolition of the Pokemon Tower and construction of a Radio Tower in its black. It would be entirely funded by the businessman’s company, and built at no cost to Lavender Town.
The mayor realized that this would greatly upset the residents, but also realized that this was an opportunity for prosperity. The town was desperate. He accepted, even with the condition of the businessman’s plans.
Cubones were indigenous to Lavender Town. Their skulls were extremely valuable on the black market. The businessman’s condition was that his organization would be allowed to hunt the Cubones. The profits from the skulls would fund the construction of the Radio Tower.
Who was the businessman? Giovanni. The mayor of Lavender Town? Mr. Fuji.
Red was simply a pawn in this plot. He “rescued” Mr. Fuji in order to deflect the growing suspicion of his involvement with Team Rocket. As he left the town and continued his journey, Team Rocket quickly resumed the extermination of Cubones.
The plan appeared to be unconcerned with the souls of the resting Pokemon, but it was anything but. Giovanni was a very superstitious man. The takeover of the Silph Company was done so that Team Rocket could mass-produce Silph Scopes, which would then be distributed to grunts involved with the Lavender Project. He also believed that demolishing the tower would disrupt the spirits of the Pokemon inside, so he planned to construct a new tower. The bodies would be moved there before the demolition of the tower would take place.
He knew of a place that would be perfect for this new tower: an empty hill in Vermillion.
Giovanni hired a small independent construction company to build this tower so that people would not suspect Team Rocket’s involvement. The old man’s company used a Pokemon labor force – Machops.
The construction was problematic. It suffered through a string of increasingly bizarre disasters. The funds originally allocated to the company to begin the project were lost after a bank robbery. There were inexplicable machine failures, as well as the deaths of several Machops. Months passed and the project still stalled, making seemingly no progress. The citizens of Vermillion, who had no idea what the construction was intended for, joked about how it was cursed. This would explain the continuing tragedy that befell the Machops, whose attacks could not affect Ghosts.
Nonetheless, Giovanni refused to begin the construction of the Radio Tower until the bodies could be transferred to a new resting place. His greatest fear was disturbing the spirits. Some of his followers came to view him as delusional. He seemed to believe that the Ghosts were trying to communicate with him, that he had, in fact, disturbed the spirits already, causing their activity in Vermillion. His defeat at the hands of Red, a ten year old boy, validated his apprehensions that he could no longer lead an organization that expected him to carry out his plan, that he now feared the consequences of. He relinquished his power and then disappeared.
The new leaders of Team Rocket shared few of his superstitions or apprehensions; the tower was demolished the next day. Strangely, the old man that owned the Vermillion construction company died the same day.
The construction site upon that hill remains in Vermillion City today. It is abandoned – a flat patch of earth, barren except for a few tombstones under which the deceased Machops lay, the only feature that resembles the planned Pokemon Tower that never was. People that visit feel uneasiness. Some claim to hear a faint, very sad melody.
Most avoid this place, but occasionally a traveler from Johto will unknowingly stumble upon it. They claim to see an old man and a Machop, continuously stomping the ground flat for an important construction project.