The Middle Ground
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July 25th, 2011 (1:52 AM). Edited July 27th, 2011 by FlaafyFTW.
Researcher of Orange Lore
Chapter 25 - Laughing in the Face of Me
I don't know weather it was my imagination or the presence that the voice seemed to have that made those two words linger in the air for a few seconds. But whatever it was; it sent a chill down my back that didn't stop until it reached the ends of my fingertips and the tips of my toes.
Apri's gaze remained empty, as if the real girl had been replaced with a china doll. She sat tall as the two words reverberated around us, but as they started to fade she collapsed onto my lap next to an exhausted Slowking. I tried to remain calm and not panic about the situation but I couldn't help but let a small bit of fear through.
"N-Naoko! She's collapsed, what do I do?!"
"Leave her to rest, she's probably just exhausted. I don't think she's slept since... well, before we met."
just hear what I did right?!"
"Yeah, but what do you want me to do about it - go back to the Pokemon Centre and ask them to fix her up? And then while we're there we can say 'oh by the way, we're the ones that everyone was looking for earlier'."
"Of course not, but you could at least check to see if she's okay!" I argued.
"Is she breathing?"
The short answer was that I didn't know, I hadn't even checked. After quickly glancing over her body for any signs of breathing, I couldn't tell for certain one way or the other so I placed my ear to her mouth where I could hear some very soft breaths.
"She's breathing." I updated Naoko, relieved.
"Then let her rest, we can't do anything other than that now."
"But-" I protested.
"Slowking told us to get away from here, so that's what I'm doing. He's about the only one who knows anything about what's happening to her so for now, I'm going to listen to what he said."
Knowing she was right, I looked down at April. Whatever this voice was that was inside of her, it was after her and only her, but why? And would she really be okay once she wakes up? - I couldn't answer those questions and the only one who could was passed out next to his trainer.
Curious to see if the voice was still inside her head, I gently lifted up one of April's eyelids to find that her pupils were still a glazed white. I couldn't look at them for longer than a second or two before being overwhelmed by a sense of fear; not for myself, but for my friend.
By now we'd reached the suburbs, a quaint place quite the opposite of the city it surrounded. It seemed serene and cosy, not exactly what I'd expected from a city this large. Eventually we left the city entirely and decided to give Manetric a rest for a while on a grassy hill. I went to withdraw him into his pokeball but he seemed adamant to stay out of it and nearby his trainer.
By the time the sun had began to set, Naoko was already fast asleep and Manetric had curled himself up next to April and Slowking, leaving me the only one awake. Not being able to sleep, I sat atop the grassy knoll twirling my three miniaturised pokeballs through my fingers thinking on everything that had happened recently. But the truth was that I felt guilty for neglecting my pokemon, I'd even had Chinchou hatch from an egg and spent barely any time with him, but that was about to change.
"Swablu - Take Down!"
Inside a nearby forest, the cotton bird pokemon sped at the thick oak tree in front of her and slammed into its side with all of her might. Taking damage herself from the attack, she then flew back up onto my shoulder, panting heavily.
Praising her, I turned back to Ditto and Chinchou who were mucking about in some of the fallen leaves.
"Ditto, you two were supposed to be watching!" I cried, folding my arms in disapproval.
Chinchou looked downheartened by my tone and upon seeing this, Ditto transformed into something that scared me more than anything he had transformed into before - my face. It looked identical, almost as if someone had taken my head from my body and used it as a puppet in front of me. It had never occured to me that Ditto could transform into anything other than a pokemon
Ditto mimicked my mouth movements to make it look as if i was whining, exaggerating every syllable possible.
"To. Toooooooooo. To-to."
Chinchou found this quite entertaining and began to chuckle, even Swablu let out a small giggle. But, as I realised how strict and moody I was being, the laughter became infectious and I couldn't help but join in.
I laughed agonisingly for a solid minute before I could stop myself to breathe and decided that this kind of training wasn't going to help us tonight. We sat and played together for a while, Swablu choosing to instead watch from the comfort of her usual perch rather than actively join in herself. I tried all kinds of games including bouncing a ball from my bag towards Chinchou in an effort to teach him some battle skills such as how to dodge but he just wasn't treating it the same way as I was, opting to chase the ball instead.
After an hour or so my stomach began to grumble and moan, reminding me that we hadn't eaten properly in a while either, so I had a rummage through my bag but all I could find were empty wrappers and no human or pokemon food. I immediately knew that April was behind it because I can't stand empty bags and wrappers lingering around, so we would have to find food for ourselves.
Remembering that we'd passed a group of apple trees earlier, I figured that maybe the task of getting his own food could help Chinchou learn a thing or two. After explaining to the team, everyone set off to get their own apple.
Swablu was the first to set off, soaring right up to the top branch of the highest tree and grabbing an untouched apple in her beak by the stalk before descending, smugly perching herself on my shoulder showing off her prize.
Ditto had to be a bit more inventive; having transformed from memory into a slightly misshapen Mankey with two tails and one ear, Ditto began climbing the tree with relative ease, letting Chinchou hitch a ride on his back. When they reached a large branch, Chinchou released his grip moments before Ditto-Mankey launched himself through the tree, swinging from two smaller branches to reach a juicy looking apple on the other side. As Ditto sat comfortably in the tree munching on his apple, Chinchou was left looking around for an apple of his own.
He walked up and down the branch, looking at the apples that hung around it deciding which one to go for. When he did, he tried reaching across for a shiny red one it but his short, stumpy arms just couldn't reach far enough. Frustrated, he stomped his feet and tried reach for another. But again - same story.
Annoyed, but determined not to fail, Chinchou's antennae began to vibrate. His face clenched as he concentrated and with one swift motion, slammed his teardrop-shaped antennae together like a pair of cymbals, creating a yellow wave of electricity that spread through the air like a small sonic boom, exploding apples and searing away the stems of others around him.
On instinct I quick-stepped backwards away from the blanket of apples and leaves that fell from the tree just in time to avoid becoming an apple crumble.
"Wow..." I exhaled, recognising the move as Shock Wave - a rare attack electric pokemon sometimes receive through breeding. A Mareep once used it on the farm and knocked out our electrics for a week!
Chinchou, seeming proud of his achievement, fearlessly jumped from the eight-foot high branch. By the time I realised what he was doing, the only thing I could do was watch in horror as he crashed to the ground. To my shock, he hit the ground hard but seemed unphased by it, getting straight onto his feet and briskly walking to one of the many apple pieces that lay scattered around the tree, before digging in.
I decided to turn to the Pokedex to look for an explanation of how he could take such a hit and just get back up. I scrolled through the information before finding what I was looking for.
'A Chinchou's body is made up of over 80% water so they are able to take large physical hits without fear of much damage. Sometimes, Chinchou do not even feel pain from such blows as the water in their bodies absorbs all the force of the blow before it reaches the nerve centre.'
After reading that I got quite excited; a water pokemon that doesn't get damaged by physical attacks very easily with a kick-arse electric attack to boot - what a machine!
We feasted on apples, making sure to leave the charred bits for Ditto, our pokemon bin bag, before heading back to the hillside to sleep. Withdrawing the pokemon back into their balls, I crawled into my sleeping bag and stared at the horizon.
To my left was the city we'd just passed through lit up like a Christmas tree in the night but just to my right was the skyline of another city - I'd never seen two places so close together like that before. It felt like the world had suddenly gotten alot smaller, probably also because we'd started riding around atop Manetric instead of using our own legs.
Diverting my attention to the stars I tried to make out a constellation or two like I used to do back home with Ivy when we were kids. I couldn't make out as many stars as I'd hoped, even though we were technically in the countryside the light from the two cities was still enough to pollute the night sky, so I just lay there and stared up at it, letting my mind wander.
Lying there I was struck with a sense of loss, almost as if I had forgotten something - something important. It had been niggling me for the past few days but suddenly it had caught up, causing me to rack my brain for answers. Was it something I'd seen or heard? Where was it?
Just as I thought I was closing in on it , my train of thought was interrupted by Slowking bolting upright, waking up from his sleep clutching his head. As I ran to his side he moaned in pain, trying not to scream as he had another one of his headaches, this one seeming to last longer than the others. Thinking there was nothing I could do, I sat there and watched, waiting for it to stop but then I remembered that I had the potions Ivy put in the package.
Scrambling across to my bag I rummaged through until a found a small phail of blue liquid and returned to the pokemon.
"Drink this, I think it'll help." I said as I placed the phail to his mouth. At first he seemed resistant but soon gave in, gulping down every drop like it was his last. At first it seemed to have no effect but after a few seconds he calmed down dramatically, taking deep breaths and removing his hands from his head.
The regal pokemon said, still breathing heavily.
"They're getting worse aren't they?"
"Yes... But I am getting cleverer."
I looked at the pokemon oddly, as if it had only just hit me that he could not only talk, but string whole sentences together.
"I've never had a conversation with a pokemon before..."
"Yes you have."
"We... understand. You do not realise, but we know what each other means."
I thought on what he said for a moment. Even though he wasn't saying it the clearest way, I knew what he meant; people and pokemon
understand each other. Even though we don't speak the same language, there had been several times I'd spoken to Ditto and Swablu as if we were having a conversation.
While I was thinking, Slowking rose to his feet and examined his trainer, poking and prodding her in different places.
"You said we needed to get away, you did mean from the city right?"
"Yes. Something is trying to get in so I tried to push it away. In the city it was strong but now we are far away, April can push it out herself."
He said, lifting up her eyelid as I did earlier, pointing out that the colour was slightly returning to her iris.
I felt comforted by that but it still bothered me. "Get in? What do you mean get in?"
"It was looking for a vessel, a puppet to take control of."
"A puppet?! Why did it pick April then? Out of all of the people in the city, why her?"
"I do not know."
"...I do not know."
Catch 'em, catch 'em, gotta catch 'em all; gotta catch 'em all - Pokemon!
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