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April 29th, 2010 (12:22 PM).
Oatmeal? Are you CRAZY?!
In the middle of nowhere.
Cassandra’s eyes fluttered groggily as Karen nudged her awake. Today, the girl’s hair was in a ponytail almost on top of her head, with her bright pink hair falling in curls behind her. Cassandra groaned and shut her eyes immediately, not wanting them to be assaulted with colors too early in the morning.
“Get up!” Karen chirped. “We need to get to the Contest building. You need to register for the soonest date, and then you need to get training!”
Cassandra mumbled something incoherent as she rolled over on her side in the bed. She had paid for a room in a hotel; Joanna periodically wired money into her account. Cassandra had considered not using the money and staying in the PokéCenter, but it was too noisy for her.
The only hotel available was a small one on Route 113 called the Poké Love. It was rather quaint— or, it would have been, had it not been covered in ash all the time. The woman who ran the place strived to keep it clean on the inside to make up for the outside. She had been positively delighted to see that a promising young Coordinator was staying in her inn, and had put her up in the best room available.
“Get up,” Karen repeated, and Cassandra finally pushed the ivy-patterned blankets off her body and sat up, stretching and yawning. “I went through your clothes and decided what you should wear to the Contest Hall.”
?” Cassandra snapped, suddenly alert. She stood up.
“Here! I laid them out on my bed!”
“Karen, what the—don’t go through my stuff!”
Karen pouted, and Tuffly came out of the bathroom—
What was it doing in there?
Cassandra wondered briefly—and made big, round, blue, watery eyes at Cassandra. “But I
picking out outfits,” Karen mumbled softly.
“Fine,” Cassandra muttered, looking over at what Karen had laid out. She had to admit that the girl had taste. Lying on the bed was a green knee-length skirt with an off-white camisole to be worn beneath a translucent, light green shirt. “This is good,” Cassandra admitted as she picked up the skirt. “I might let you do my outfits for Contests.”
“Really?” Karen squealed, clapping her hands together. They made a muffled noise— the sleeves of her sweatshirt were fashioned to be too long, and only her fingertips poked out.
“Don’t get too excited.” Cassandra changed in the bathroom and allowed Karen to do her hair—she pinned the front part of it back and let the rest lay softly on her shoulders—before they set off.
It was a ten-minute trek to Fallarbor Town. On the way, Karen insisted on bobbing along beside her with a large pink umbrella, keeping the falling ash off her “carefully-selected outfit”. The Contest Hall seemed bright and garish, the only brightly-colored building in the town. No one stood outside, but then again, Cassandra wouldn’t expect them to in this weather.
Inside the Contest Hall, Cassandra finally breathed freely. It was noisy, the air was conditioned, colors and Pokémon abounded…she was home.
“Come on, the register desk!” Karen closed her giant umbrella and handed it to Tuffly, who carried the item as it followed the girls to the register desk. To her surprise, Cassandra got into line behind Sakura Konohana.
Sakura turned around and smiled. “Oh, hello,” she said. She wore a light blue kimono with a dark blue obi, and her hair was pulled into a tight bun behind her head. “Isn’t it a coincidence that we came to register on the same day.”
“I thought that you would have registered sooner,” Cassandra said. “You were here before us.”
“Oh, I only arrived a day before you did,” Sakura replied with a gentle smile. “I decided to rest and enjoy the hot springs for a while. Are you staying at the Poké Love?”
“Yeah, we are.”
“How nice! I am as well. After this, we should do something together.”
Cassandra smiled. “Okay. Would you be up for that, Karen?” she added, turning to the girl. Surprisingly, the girl was looking at Sakura with her head cocked and a quizzical expression on her face.
“Karen?” Cassandra prompted gently.
After a while, Karen nodded slowly. “If you like.”
This girl is so weird,
Cassandra thought. “Well, that settles it. What should we do?”
“Lavaridge is near here,” Karen said thoughtfully.
“There’s barely anything to do in Lavaridge, though,” Sakura replied. “It’s almost as bad as here. Oh, I wish I had a Flying Pokémon…we could go to Lilycove and go shopping.”
Cassandra winced. She always associated the words “Lilycove” and “shopping” with her mother, especially if they were in the same sentence. “Well, maybe we should just have some lunch together or something,” Cassandra suggested. “I’ve got to get training, anyway.”
“Your Pokémon is Swablu, is it not?”
“Yes,” Cassandra replied. “But I’m thinking of entering Finny into this one.”
Sakura raised a perfect orange eyebrow. “
“My Mudkip. Well, soon-to-be Marshtomp, probably.”
“A Marshtomp? In a Contest? My, won’t that be interesting…” Sakura was next in line, so she turned away from them, pulling a fan from her sleeve and pressing it against her lips as she did so. She stepped up to the counter and Karen grabbed Cassandra’s sleeve.
“I don’t like her,” Karen whispered matter-of-factly. “There’s something…strange…about her. Something fishy.”
Cassandra glanced at Sakura talking to the register woman and smiling behind her fan, which she now opened with a flourish and began to wave gently. “She seems nice enough.”
,” Karen said emphatically. Cassandra frowned.
“Incidentally,” Sakura was saying to the woman, “do you know if any of the judges are here today? I’d like to introduce myself.”
“Maybe I should introduce myself to the judges, too,” Cassandra muttered to Karen. “Do you think that would increase my chances?”
“If you slipped them some money, probably,” Karen replied good-naturedly.
! People don’t bribe in Contests!”
Karen shook her head. “You might not. But I’m sure others do.”
“That’s just wrong,” Cassandra told her crossly.
“I’ll meet you at the door,” Sakura said, turning back to face them and shutting her fan with a snap. “Wait for me if you get there first.” And then she turned and walked off, quickly becoming lost in the hustle-and-bustle of the Contest Hall.
Cassandra stepped up to the counter to register. She signed up for the closest date—three weeks away—and showed the woman Finny. “Um, he’s going to evolve soon,” Cassandra told her, “or…at least, I
“If he evolves before your contest date, you
bring him back here for a second inspection. If you fail to do so, you will be disqualified from the Contest.”
“Okay then.” Cassandra allowed the woman to inspect Finny before returning the Pokémon to its Poké Ball and turning away. She walked towards the door, but Sakura wasn’t there.
“Sakura’s over there,” Karen said, pointing. Cassandra sighed.
“We’re going to wait for her at the door.”
Cassandra did. Sakura was talking to one of the judges, an older, bald man wearing a suit. As they watched, she set the tip of the closed fan on her lips and closed her eyes as she smiled. Then, her other hand poked out of her sleeve as she reached to shake his hand. After what looked like a firm handshake, Sakura gave a small bow and walked away, leaving the man by himself.
“He put his hand in his pocket,” Karen said matter-of-factly.
“You’re observant. Is the ash still falling outside?” Cassandra leaned toward one of the large windows in the front of the building. “Ah, get your umbrella ready, Karen.”
“Tuffly,” Karen said, holding her hand out for the umbrella.
“A pink umbrella to match your pink hair and Pokémon…well, that’s quite stylish.” Sakura arrived with a smile, tucking her fan into her sleeve. “I think I saw a cute little café down the road. Shall we go look?”
After lunch at the café, Cassandra, Karen, Sakura, and Tuffly all walked together back to the Poké Love. Sakura went to her room “to rest”; Cassandra went to her room to change into clothes she wouldn’t mind getting dirty so she could train.
“I don’t understand why you don’t like Sakura,” Cassandra said to Karen as she pulled out a pair of jeans.
“There’s just something fishy about her,” Karen said absentmindedly. She was sitting on her bed, coloring in a coloring book.
“Well, I think she’s nice.”
“Just don’t tell her any secrets or anything.”
Rolling her eyes, Cassandra went to the bathroom to change into her jeans and T-shirt. When she was done, she hung her clothes up in the room’s closet and gathered her Poké Balls off her bed. “I’m going to go train along Route 113. You wanna come?”
“No,” Karen replied, frowning as she moved a sky-blue crayon along the paper. “I’m doing something very important.”
Cassandra let those words hang in the air for a moment as she stared at her companion, whose brow was furrowed as she selected another crayon. “Right. Well, if you need me, you know where to find me.”
Alyssa, your job sounds terrible! If it were me, I don’t know what I would do with myself…seeing Pokémon dying…but I know you’re stronger than I am, and you can keep on fighting despite the sadness, right?
You’re right about Belle’s last email. It worried me a little, too. Why do you think she and Derrick aren’t traveling together anymore? Do you think they had some kind of fight? You know how Belle gets when she’s upset…all withdrawn and stuff. Maybe she’s just tired, though. We’ll wait for her next email.
Well, anyway, I’m going to bed now…stay strong, Alyssa!
Joined Aug 2009
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