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June 6th, 2011 (11:00 AM).
Oatmeal? Are you CRAZY?!
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: In the middle of nowhere.
“How—what—?” Cassandra was dumbfounded. One second she had been sitting sidesaddle atop a Ponyta, and the next—boom! Ellia had evolved into a Rapidash. Sure, the journey through Route 111’s desert had been harsh, and they hadn’t had time to stop in Mauville City to talk to the mob of people excited about her appearance or to bathe and rest, but how exactly did that promote an evolution?
“Perfect,” Karen said from her place on Fluffy’s back. She adjusted her sleeves. “Just in time to enter Slateport City. It’s about time,” she added to Ellia, tossing Cassandra a brush. “I thought I was going to have to buy a Fire Stone and force you myself.”
Ellia tossed her beautiful head in annoyance, nickering, and Cassandra ran the brush through her hair. “You know, I’d really like it if you’d clue me in to what you’re talking about.”
“Ellia was ready to evolve when you caught her,” Karen replied. “She’s been holding out on you.”
“Deciding if you could handle it.”
“And I suppose I proved myself?”
“By going through the desert,” Karen said. “Now hurry up, we need to get into Slateport!”
Heart beating, Cassandra straightened her back and smiled serenely like Karen had taught her, practicing for when she made her entrance. Ellia walked at a brisk pace up the path, and the sound of cyclists whizzing overhead soon died away as the bustling city of Slateport came into view.
The smell of sea salt almost assaulted Cassandra as she breathed in deeply. She had been here before, of course, with her parents, but it seemed more exciting now that she was on her own and a star. “Let’s go straight to the Slateport Contest Hall to register,” Cassandra told Karen, who agreed quickly.
It seemed that Cassandra attracted attention as soon as Ellia’s hooves hit Slateport’s walkways. Heads turned and people whispered and pointed; she heard her name multiple times.
“I didn’t know she had a Rapidash,” she heard someone say as Ellia trotted past. Cassandra felt giddy. She knew she had to start training, but she also knew she wouldn’t be able to resist browsing the marketplace before she got started. She glanced up at the contest hall, which was larger than Verdanturf’s and Fallarbor’s combined; understandable, since this was where most contests really got televised. She slid gently from Ellia’s back and adjusted her white skirt as she got to the door, which slid open automatically to allow her to enter.
Slateport City Contest Hall was a lively, bustling place. A long line of people Cassandra vaguely recognized from Verdanturf or Fallarbor stood at the registration desk—Sakura Konohana was not in their number.
In her search for Sakura, Cassandra hadn’t noticed anything odd, but now that she turned her attention back to the general public, she realized that everyone in the lobby had frozen as she entered. Even the people in line for registration had turned to look at her.
“Hello?” Cassandra said hesitantly. And then a flurry of activity ensued—people leapt up and rushed to her, seizing her hands and pushing closer to her, asking for autographs and pictures, asking about Ellia, shouting and yelling and shoving.
But then Karen was in front of her with Tuffly, both of them spreading their arms wide. Tuffly used Doubleslap on a few persistent people, and the warning made everyone stay back, forming a circle around the confused Cassandra.
“What—?” Her question didn’t have time to form on her lips; Karen seized her hand and dragged her forward, shouting about making a hole as she plodded toward the registration counter. The crowd parted a bit as they neared it; Ellia reared, kicking her hooves, and the crowd parted a lot.
Cassandra signed up for the soonest date—next week—and turned to look at the mass of adoring fans, who now seemed to be taking pictures.
She was famous.
The crowds roared as Cassandra rode into the stadium (which was much larger than Verdanturf’s or Fallarbor’s combined) on Ellia’s back. Her heart raced as she gazed up into the sea of adoring fans. Some held up signs emblazoned with clever—sometimes rhyming—slogans showing their support and love for her, Cassandra Étoile, the girl who was, not too long ago, just another kid dancing in her backyard. She had been rich, yes, but plenty of kids were rich—Sakura Konohana, for instance.
Cassandra picked out Karen’s bright pink hair among the many heads in the crowd. The girl had picked out the white floppy straw hat that now sat upon Cassandra’s head, its pink ribbon trailing over the brim behind her. Cassandra had protested it at first, but once she had placed it on her head and stood in the mirror wearing the gauzy white dress on which she had decided, she had realized that it completed her “Mother Nature” look.
Ellia tossed her head, and Cassandra smiled and waved out at the crowd, who cheered loudly. The stadium floor was suspended over water, which Ellia eyed warily; she stood straight and proud, though, calming under Cassandra’s soothing pat. The girl slid gently off Ellia’s back, her bare feet touching the floor.
“Welcome to the first round of the Slateport City Hyper Rank Contest!”
Cassandra’s smile widened; the crowd roared. She had actually been severely happy that she had drawn the first slot, and now she stood across from her opponent, one Melba Wisely, dressed in a black corset-top with red sleeves and a long black skirt, her long dark hair falling down around her face. She seemed irritated.
“Let the first match between Cassandra Étoile—”—the crowd yelled wildly—“and Melba Wisely—”—another part of the crowd cheered—“begin!”
“Okay, Ellia!” Cassandra yelled, pointing towards the stadium; Ellia galloped out, rearing and pawing at the air, shaking her mane—embers flew from her and landed in the water, fizzling slightly.
“Are you serious?” Melba asked in a flat tone. She didn’t look too happy. As Cassandra watched, she tossed her Poké Ball with a sort of graceful awkwardness, and a Sneasel spun out of it.
“And Ms. Wisely chooses her Sneasel. Looks like Ms. Étoile has a type advantage!”
Of course, Cassandra made short work of Melba’s Sneasel—a bit of speed and a well-placed Flamethrower took it right out.
Cassandra’s second battle was against a male Coordinator, which surprised Cassandra; she had come up against so many girls, she had quite forgotten that men competed at all, let alone competed at Hyper Rank. He had a sort of ninja-martial-arts-guy theme going, and his Hitmontop was a formidable opponent, but Ellia ran circles around it to dizzy it before taking it out with Stomp, which turned out to be more graceful than anyone thought it could be.
Karen met Cassandra her small lounge—the Hyper Rank accommodations were impeccable—before the final match, Tuffly in tow. She sat down on the fluffy pink couch and studied the large television showing the current battle, her arms folded across her chest.
“You need to watch out for her,” Karen said, pointing at the screen. “If she wins this battle, she’s against you—she’s another favorite.”
Cassandra picked up the packet of papers to her left. Each Coordinator had been given a page-long profile of the other Coordinators competing in the contest; Cassandra flipped through until she found the picture of the girl to which Karen was pointing.
The picture looked a bit different from the girl on the television—while the television version was moving, dynamic, yelling, her blonde hair flying as she twirled in time with her Pokémon—a Dragonair—the picture version gazed up at Cassandra calmly, a determined smile hitched about her lips. Her name was Laura Evans, and she was from Blackthorn City in Johto. Her picture was one of the few that wasn’t a snapshot from a contest. In fact, Cassandra’s profile picture was from her Verdanturf Contest, and Swablu was in it.
“She’s from Johto?” Cassandra looked back up at the screen, mouth open.
“People who come from other regions often do better than Hoenn natives,” Karen replied. “They’re more determined.”
Cassandra nodded. “I see.”
“Swablu is close to evolving,” Karen remarked, changing the subject. “I think she’ll be an Altaria before we get to Lilycove. That’s what you wanted, right? To win your last contest with Altaria?”
She smiled. “Yes.” She loved the way Karen had put it—to win your last contest with Altaria. Not to compete in your last contest with Altaria. Because she was going to win. It didn’t matter that competitors from other regions seemed more determined—Cassandra was determined enough to be all the way from Almia.
Cassandra’s moments leading up to her final battle were blurry, so it seemed as though she jolted awake standing across the stadium from Laura Evans and her Dragonair.
The MC’s shouts were indistinct to Cassandra’s ears, and the only word she heard was the last one—“Begin!”
“Dragon Dance!” shouted Laura; her Dragonair twisted its long body in a graceful dance, wasting precious seconds. Her points bar went up for the dance, but Cassandra had other plans for it.
“Ellia, Flame Wheel!”
Ellia wrapped herself in flames and smashed into Dragonair so quickly it didn’t know what hit it; it went flying backwards, landing in a crumpled heap at Laura’s feet.
“That was a nasty first hit!” the MC boomed over the crowd’s boos and cheers. “And Miss Étoile’s points surge up, while Miss Evans’s fall back!”
Cassandra met Laura’s eyes across the battlefield as Dragonair rose up. This was going to be a quick battle, that was for sure, but both of them had an equal chance of winning. Quick but intense—that was how Cassandra liked it.
“Dragon Rush,” Laura said, and Dragonair rose up. A blue aura surrounded it, and a big ball of blue light came quickly toward Ellia, Dragonair in the center.
“Agility!” Cassandra yelled, and Ellia took off in a red-and-white blur, zooming around behind Dragonair and leaving a trail of small flames. “Fire Spin!”
Dragonair’s blue light was extinguished in a fiery vortex, which trapped it. It spun helplessly, crying out as the flames singed its skin.
“And Dragonair is trapped by Ellia’s Fire Spin!” the MC cried excitedly. “Laura’s points have taken a huge hit, and Dragonair might not be able to last much longer!”
Cassandra grinned as she locked eyes with Laura again. She basically had this in the bag.
“Dragonair,” Laura said quietly. “Twister.”
Out of the top of the swirling vortex of fire burst a tornado, which swallowed the blaze whole, disbanding it. It bent to capture Ellia in its heart, lifting her off the ground and suspending her in air, spinning rather quickly.
How was she going to get out of this? Cassandra needed to think quickly; she didn’t have much time. Right now, Ellia was at Dragonair’s mercy; one twitch could send her flying into the water below. She couldn’t use any direct or physical attacks…a ranged attack would have to do.
The MC was in the middle of saying, “How will Miss Étoile get out of this one?” when Cassandra yelled, “Fire Blast!”
Dragonair was directly under the Twister, since it came from its mouth; Ellia’s attack dropped straight from the bottom, stopping the tornado and swallowing Dragonair within it. Ellia tipped forward and landed all four hooves on Dragonair’s body before springing away, embers flying off her mane. Cassandra’s points bar pushed forward.
“Dragonair, into the water!”
“Nair!” the Pokémon cried, and it vanished into the water, extinguishing the flames. Steam rose from where it landed.
Ellia froze. Silence descended on the stadium; not even the MC spoke. “Careful,” Cassandra whispered. “You don’t know where it’s coming from; stay alert.”
The Rapidash nickered, backing up a few steps and glancing around. The silence continued for several still seconds; no one seemed to be breathing.
“Now! Aqua Tail!” Laura yelled suddenly. Dragonair sprang out of the water, bringing its tail down in a mighty smash; as the water flew toward Ellia, Dragonair went towards the battlefield, coiling itself for another attack.
“Jump!” Cassandra yelled shrilly.
Ellia leapt up, soaring over the water meant for her.
The water splashed harmlessly behind her as Ellia ducked her head, flying straight toward Dragonair and piercing it with her horn. Dragonair collapsed and Ellia sprang away, its mane and tail flaring up in the breeze as it landed gently, glaring at Dragonair.
Laura’s points vanished completely.
“And that’s it!” the MC yelled. “Miss Evans has no more points—Cassandra Étoile is advancing to the Master Rank in Lilycove City!”
A camera zoomed towards Cassandra’s face as she smiled happily, closing her eyes and throwing back her head, thrusting her arms in the air. The crowd roared; flowers fell all around her.
Sakura Konohana hadn’t hindered her one bit. She was going to Lilycove; she was competing in the Master Rank. She might even meet Sakura there.
And she would win.
Cassandra sat down in front of the video phone in her hotel room, watching the static roll across the screen as it rang. Karen was off somewhere in Slateport—where, Cassandra didn’t know—so she was alone, thank goodness. She had been assaulted by people shoving microphones in her face, and she had talked to so many people she was extremely happy to be by herself with just her Pokémon.
But now she had to call Joanna.
As usual, Dorothia the cook answered the phone. “Cassandra!” she cried happily. “I saw your contest on TV!”
“Really? It’s already been on?”
“They’re broadcast live,” Dorothia replied. “So, did you want to talk to your mother?”
“I don’t want to, but it’s a necessary evil,” Cassandra replied.
Dorothia laughed. “I’ll transfer you.”
There was more static, but only briefly, and then Joanna’s face appeared, her bedroom in the background. She took a sip from the wine glass she held and smiled.
“I saw your contest, Cassie,” Joanna told her.
“You aren’t doing as bad as I expected. I assume that you’ll be doing the soonest Master Rank contest?”
“Yes.” Cassandra felt her back teeth grind together.
“I think I might come out and watch,” Joanna said. She took another sip of wine. “That will be something to see…my daughter finally making something of herself. Imagine how proud I’ll be when you finally win.”
Cassandra bit back a sharp retort. Instead, she asked, “Is Father home?”
“He’s in the bathroom. I expect he’ll want to talk to you, so you should stay on the line.”
Cassandra nodded and fell silent. She didn’t have to say anything to Joanna if she didn’t want to. Silence stretched between them, in which Joanna glanced away and drank her wine.
The door in the background opened and Gerald came out, wearing a dress shirt and slacks. When he saw Cassandra’s face on the video phone, he broke out in a huge grin and hurried over.
“Sandy-bear! Joanna, sweetie, why didn’t you tell me she called?”
“You can see for yourself, can’t you?” Joanna asked, placing her wine glass out of frame.
“Sandy-bear, I saw your contest,” Gerald said, bending down and almost pushing Joanna out of the picture. “You were magnificent!”
“No, truly! I am so proud of you! And you’re going to the Master Rank in Lilycove—that’s a huge deal!”
“I was telling her we might go watch,” Joanna said stiffly from her corner of the screen.
“Well, of course we’ll go!” Gerald said happily, clapping Joanna on the shoulder. “There’s no reason we shouldn’t! We need to cheer our daughter on, right, Mama J?”
Joanna cringed visibly. She didn’t need to answer, because just then Karen came into the room, tossing her pink umbrella onto the bed. Tuffly came behind her with shopping bags.
“I should probably go,” Cassandra said. “I need to rest, and then it’s on to Lilycove City! See you guys there?”
“Perhaps,” Joanna replied at the same time Gerald boomed “Of course, Sandy-bear!”
Cassandra said her good-byes and hung up, smiling as she turned to Karen, who began to immediately pull different types of material from the shopping bags, followed by a sewing machine. “I’m going to make your Master Rank dress,” she said.
Cassandra stood and crossed the room, wrapping her arms around the girl in a hug. “Thank you,” she said. “I couldn’t have done all this without you.”
Karen batted her away. “You haven’t won it all yet. Thank me then.”
Cassandra smiled and nodded. “Right.”
OMG YOU GUYS!!!
I totally won my Slateport contest!
Alyssa, I’m sorry you hate that woman or girl or whoever she is, but I’m sure you can give her a nice good punch in the jaw and she’ll behave.
Belle, you can beat your mom, I HAVE FAITH IN YOU!!!
I WON MY CONTEST YAAAAYYYY!!! XD I’m so excited!!!
I have to get to bed now, because tomorrow it’s off to Lilycove City and then tons of training so Swablu can evolve into Altaria before the contest!
Did you know that so few people enter the Master Rank Contest that I’ll only be fighting two battles? o.0 And it’s broadcast live, so YOU WILL HAVE TO WATCH IT!!!
Talk to you guys laaatteeerrr!!
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