The Middle Ground
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January 16th, 2011 (4:01 PM). Edited July 26th, 2011 by FlaafyFTW.
Researcher of Orange Lore
Chapter 21 – And You Are? (Part 1)
On day one I woke up suddenly when the roar of an engine throttled beneath me, vibrating the floor and breaking me out of my hypnosis. I was in a tiny room, cluttered with mops, brooms and all manner of cleaning products. My head was dazed, my eyes dreary, but even so I could sense that the room around me was swaying – I was definitely at sea.
Little by little feeling was returning to me. First the shroud upon my memory lifted, bringing back to me the last things I remembered; a hilltop, an explosion, the Rockets. My first instinct was to scream but my throat was sharp and fierce, and nothing above a half-hearted cry of pain came out of my mouth. Then, as my body began to loosen, I could feel my stomach clenching from hunger, but it was a long, drawn out pain; the hypnosis must have put me out for days, a week, maybe even more.
When I tried to stand in the small, confined space I realised that my hands and feet were bound. Deciding to save my energy I sat upright and rested my head on the door to my right. Hoping to gain a glimpse of the ship’s layout I peered through to the next room. But it was dark, too dark to make out shapes or spaces. Lifting my hands to turn the doorknob I found that it was locked – Of course, so I wouldn’t have an easy time escaping like I had so naively hoped.
On day two I was woken by sunlight beaming into the small room through a porthole high up on the wall I hadn’t seen the night before. Looking around the room with fresh eyes I saw what I thought was an illusion – five bottles of water! I crawled across the room frantically, opening a lid of the bottle and pouring the cool liquid down my throat. Only it wasn’t cool, it was warm, harsh and salty; causing me to spit it out over the floor and curse blindingly into the air. Despite the fact it was sea water, but water nonetheless, and I had a funny feeling it was all I was going to get.
From the amount of noise above me I could presume it was the main deck. It was alot more active than the night before, with footsteps going to and fro in every direction. From what I could gather, the boat was pretty small and I had a fairly good idea of my escape route should I manage to get out. By the end of the day I’d tried kicking the door open several times but it didn’t budge. I had a feeling I was too weak to finish the job so I tried reaching for my belt, but it wasn’t there. My pokemon were gone, but hopefully still on board. For now anyway, I was truly alone.
By day three I had put names to the footsteps above me; when there’s not much to look at you tend to listen. I counted four separate sets of steps, each belonging to one of
The strong, confident stepper was Proton, a foul excuse for a human being.
The two that followed after him with short, quick steps were his lackeys.
The fourth, a foot-scraper who doesn’t appear much was most probably the captain, weather he was one of them or some innocent I didn’t know.
More salt water, no food. The swaying of the boat was getting worse, or it was just me. But whatever way, I was throwing up regularly. Life is grand at sea.
Day four – I woke in the early hours to hear someone new boarding the ship. From what i could tell they were a somewhat slow but uneven stepper who seemed to lose their balance every so often. Hobbler alert.
After a few more hours sleep I tried again to answer the questions that’d been in my mind since I’d woken up on the hell vessel;
‘Where in the world is Chrono Island? Who is Gideon?’
And more recently
‘who has that damn hobble?!’
On the night of day five we stopped. The engine silenced and everyone on the deck above disembarked leaving me alone. No change there.
After a few minutes, sea birds walk upon the empty deck in the search for scraps of food but suddenly they scramble away. Something had spooked them, probably a pokemon. But then I hear footsteps – swift and unnaturally quiet, but definitely human. Someone is here who isn’t supposed to be.
Sensing danger I instinctively reached for my pokeballs, taking me a few seconds to realise the futility of what I was doing. For some reason, the presence of this stranger frightened me.
I could hear them rushing down the stairs, one on foot and two other creatures jumping from rail to rail, the metal clanging as they did so. They were pokemon, and they moved just as swiftly as their master. They reached the room the other side of my door and began searching end to end for something, or someone.
Again I shifted myself toward the keyhole and peered through but I was met with darkness once again. The handle turned. Then the door began to shake. Quickly. Violently.
Then, after a few moments of silence, I hear a clinking, metal against metal – the lock was being picked.
So, using the wall behind me, I pulled myself upright and readied myself for the appearance of an attacker.
The lock unlatched and the door opened slightly. A figure appeared in front of me and I leapt forwards, attempting to use my bodyweight against them but the figure was too quick, darting to the side as I fell to the wooden floor.
Before I hit the ground a pokemon was on top of me. It blended into the night, letting me only see its deep ruby eyes and yellow rings around its head and ears.
“Argh, get off!” I cried, trying to push the beast away.
“-Relax.” Came a voice from the figure who stepped into view. It was a man, only a year or so older than me with short, spiky blonde hair. The rest of his face was hidden from the moonlight but he wore an undone black trenchcoat and dark blue trousers.
“Who are you?!”
“What do you want?” I asked as I still struggled to escape.
“-Then untie me!”
The man slightly lowered his head for a few seconds before gesturing his hand. A white-furred pokemon with a gem set in its forehead stepped out from the shadows.
“Stay still if you want to keep your hands.” The man said bluntly as the white-furred pokemon used its razor-sharp antennae to slice through the ropes binding my hands with a single flick of its head.
The black furred pokemon leapt from on top of me and in shock I scrambled back against a desk that’s drawers had been turned out.
“Thanks...” I said, sliding the ropes off of my feet.
The white furred beast grunted in the doorway before leaping up the stair rails, quickly followed by its black furred companion.
The man in the trench coat produced a piece of material from inside of his coat and held it up – my belt!
“You’ll be needing this.” He said, throwing it over. “C’mon. There’s something we need to see.”
I asked just as the man quickly ran out the door, barely even finishing his own sentence.
“Hey - wait up!”
Are you sure?”
“Yes. Um... I think.” April answered, doubting herself.
“And you saw it too?”
“One hundred percent. There was another boy called Jake who heard it too, but he was more interested in his own pokemon and went home.” I explained to Vermillion City’s Nurse Joy; an aging woman whose face had just begun to show wrinkles, with gentle green eyes and greying blonde hair tied up in a neat bun.
“Did he say anything since?” She asked, circling a large metal table in the centre of a pristine examination room. The walls that surrounded us were large sheets of frosted glass tinted in the traditional pokecenter colours.
“No... I tried getting him to talk again on the way here but he seemed alot more interested in everything else than me.”
“Everything else?” Nurse Joy inquired. Turning her head to face April.
“Just everything around us; buildings, people - even birds.”
“Hmm.” She grumbled. “How odd. I’ve heard stories of Slowking capable of speech but that’s only in legends and myths, I never thought I’d actually hear anyone claim to have heard it themselves.”
“I never knew that Slowpoke even
another evolution, let alone myths about it.” I leaned from the corner and whispered in April’s ear.
“Go figure.” She whispered back. “Hey, do you think the professor will know anything about this?”
“What, my sister? I’m not sure it’s exactly her specialist field...”
“Well she seemed to know everything worth knowing about water types when I lived there, she might know something useful.”
“I s’pose it couldn’t hurt.” I shrugged, turning towards the room’s video phone to see Joy still speaking, completely captivated by her own ramblings.
Even though I hadn’t had an account for very long, using a videophone had become second nature, back home we used to have to walk into the city if we ever wanted to make an important call. It took me a few seconds between digits to remember Ivy’s direct number, but every time I stopped to think when dialling, April presented me with the missing one almost instantaneously. It was then it hit me just how much time her and her brother must have spent with Ivy and how we never knew about each other’s existences until we just happened to meet.
Once the phone had been answered we could see Ivy on the monitor, actually in focus for once. The tips of her azure hair and part of her labcoat had been singed, with ash covering most of her right cheek.
“Alex? April? What a nice surprise.”
“Taking the hands-on approach again I see?” I said slyly, raising an eyebrow.
Ivy gave herself the once over, realising the state she was in before answering, “Well there’s no better way to get results. Now, I’m guessing this isn’t a social call?”
“Well Professor the thing is tha-
Slowking suddenly cried out repeatedly in pain as he held his hands to his bowed head.
“What is it? What’s happening?!” April asked, her gaze darting between the three of us and the monitor.
“I- I’m not sure!” Joy replied, checking the pokemon for a wound.
“Sloooow! Slowking!, Sloooooooooo... Ouch.”
Slowking cried, coming to an abrupt stop.
“Ouch?” I repeated after a few moments of silence, dumbfounded by the revelation that this pokemon really could speak. The first time I could’ve been imagining it, but hearing it a second time made it become a reality. “He just said ouch didn’t he?”
“That’s... Impossible.” Nurse Joy said as she stepped back and sat on a plain, white chair in disbelief.
“I knew it!” April cried. “You saw that didn’t you Professor?”
Ivy was stunned, “Did I hear that right?”
“Slowking,” April said, quickly walking to her pokemon’s side, “say something else!”
The pokemon said in a deep voice that sounded airy, almost as if he was talking in a constant yawn.
“Yes, yes that’s right Slowking!” She cried excitedly as her pokemon’s attention turned to me.
I froze, tongue-tied. A pokemon has not only spoken to me, but recognised me! What does a person say back to that? Slowly I raised my right hand in a greeting, only managing to utter the word “H-hi.”
The pokemon stared at me before cautiously raising its own arm in a similar fashion, probably unaware of its meaning.
“Amazing.” Nurse joy proclaimed, rising to her feet. “He actually understands what he’s saying...”
“-This is groundbreaking!” Ivy piped up. “If I could be the first to document it...”
“-I wonder just what level of intelligence he has, perhaps we could teach him. He’d be invaluable as a translator for the injured pokemon...”
“-you could send him over and then maybe I could perfect...”
It was then I came to another shocking realisation; “Oh dear god there’s two of them.”
Catch 'em, catch 'em, gotta catch 'em all; gotta catch 'em all - Pokemon!
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