After some ten or fifteen minutes of wandering, Lucas gradually realised that he was lost. People were constantly streaming through the corridors of the massive ship, and he recognised none of them. They radiated excitement, and the vast majority seemed to be too engaged in their own activities to help him. How on earth would he find his way to his cabin?
He stopped for a minute to catch his breath, examining his surroundings.
“Wait a minute,” he breathed. “Is that…?”
A few metres away, a pair of twins appeared to be helping out a teenaged girl (with blue hair…?). One was showing her the map, and the other appeared to be doing nothing but talking. The blue-haired girl left, apparently satisfied with her directions.
Now was the time. He might never get another chance to figure out where his cabin was.
He approached the twins stealthily and silently, making sure he was absolutely undete-
“Nice hat,” sjirachied one of the twins, who had actually been watching him the whole time. She was quickly elbowed by her sister.
“Yeah, not like I’ve heard that one before,” Lucas retorted, “I notice you have a map-“
“If you need one, they’re in your cabin.” The twin that remarked on his Swablu interrupted.
“In the drawer.” The one holding the map said.
“That’s the problem,” Lucas continued, “I can’t find my cabin. The higher-numbered ones use some bizarre organisation system to make sure it doesn’t take half an hour to get to the further ones, and without a map I can’t figure it out. Can I have a look at yours for a moment?”
The twins both cried out at the same time.
“No!” said the one without the map, as the more polite one said "Yes!"
She immediately elbowed the ruder one in the ribs. “Tara!” She hissed as she stepped closer to Lucas, handing him her map. As he scanned it, looking for his cabin number, the twins argued in the background.
“Kara, are you gonna just hand our map to every person we see?!”
“Tara, this guy clearly needed help finding his cabin! And anyway, I wouldn’t hand it to people who didn’t ask…”
“Yeah, but how many people will ask? We might want to use the map for ourselves, you know!”
“And we will! It’s not like every single person will need to use the map!”
“Aha!” Lucas interrupted, oblivious to the sibling war. “Okay, got it! You two can have your map back now. Thanks!”
He handed the map back to the girls and took off down the corridors of the ship.
…Did someone just call him pathetic?
Soon enough, he found it. “Cabin number three hundred and forty-five,” He breathed, “Here goes nothing.”
He took off his backpack and retrieved the gift bag he had hastily shoved in there beforehand. Inside was his room key. He hastily jammed it into the lock and twisted it. It gave a click, and the door swung open. The cabin wasn’t really that impressive: a small room with a soft bed and a chest of drawers. Still, it was small, safe and (hopefully) secure.
Lucas sat down on the bed and reopened his bag. It was a titanic mess, spare clothes, snacks and supplies all jumbled together in one. He stared at it for a moment, wondering if it was worth the effort to sort it out.
“Nah,” he declared, reaching into a pocket for his second pokéball.
Wordlessly, he summoned his Minccino, Swish, and nodded at him. A small grin spread out over the pokémon’s face as he understood what he was meant to do.
Without making a single sound, the Minccino leapt up Lucas’s back… and then tackled Atlus to the ground. Awoken from her slumber, the bird squawked loudly, flapping her wings wildly. The two repeatedly attempted to attack each other, to no avail.
Stepping in between the two pokémon, Lucas declared, “Alright, you two; enough fighting. I’m gonna see what’s happening on deck, and you probably won’t be safe alone. Coming?”
The pokémon halted their onslaught. Swish leapt up onto Lucas’s shoulder, balancing precariously, and Atlus took to the air, cautious of what might happen if she landed on his head again.
Before they even left the cabin, the ship juddered into movement as a voice spoke over the intercom.
“The S.S. Anne will now depart, please stay safe and be careful on board. We will be arriving at Fuchsia City at noon tomorrow, I hope you all have a pleasant evening," the captain said.
After taking a second to adjust to the movement of the ship, Lucas and his pokémon headed for the deck.
The deck of the S.S. Anne was bustling with people, and the salty tang of the ocean filled the air. Off in the distance, Lucas could just make out the shape of the mainland. He withdrew his binoculars and examined it more closely. Satisfied that it was indeed the landmass they had just left, he turned his attention to the skies.
“Okay, Atlus. I think you deserve some exercise after all these weeks being cramped in a tiny apartment. Stretch your wings, see if you’ve still got it. Swish? I dunno, just… relax, have a little fun. I’ll be watching Atlus to make sure nothing goes wrong in the air, so don’t get into trouble.”
His Swablu took to the air as he raised his binoculars to eye level. She flew in graceful arcs, loops and turns, clearly happy to be able to fly freely again. Other pokémon soared the skies, but they were just surviving. Atlus was living life to the fullest, enjoying every moment of her newfound freedom.
Lucas’s binoculars began to drift in other directions, examining natural seabirds. A few Pidgey flocked closer to the ship, but other than that the skies were curiously bare.
Out of nowhere, a shape emerged from the water with lightning speed, leaping towards Atlas. It clamped on, and she struggled to maintain her flight.
Lucas whistled, his emergency recall signal having been established many years ago. There was no denying the fact that Atlus heard, given the sharp-angled turn she executed immediately after, but even then there was no way she would have a clear landing.
“Clear it!” Lucas shouted desperately, and a small crowd near where the Swablu was going to land parted.
But by some miracle, the struggling songbird managed to soar over the landing spot without crashing, still high in the air. She angled herself towards the ground, and at last Lucas understood what was going on. Faster, faster, Atlus nosedived, the figure still holding on.
And then they hit the ground. The impact managed to throw whatever it was clamping onto Atlus straight off, and it landed stunned, but relatively unharmed, a few metres away.
Atlus wasn’t so lucky. She landed in a heap on the deck - and struggled to get up.
Lucas approached her and held her in both arms. “You did good, Atlus,” He murmured, “Things could have been a whole lot worse.”
He retrieved her pokéball from his backpack and solemnly activated it, recalling her for the moment. Then he retrieved his ancient pokédex he still had from when he was in Hoenn and activated it.
“Shellder, the bivalve pokémon,” He murmured, reading the text the battered machine displayed.
“At night, this Pokémon uses its broad tongue to burrow a hole in the seafloor sand and then sleep in it. While it is sleeping, Shellder closes its shell, but leaves its tongue hanging out.’ Well then, Shellder. I think it’s time you found out why you don’t mess with my pokémon.”
He whistled twice, a signal for Swish to ready for battle. The Shellder, no longer stunned, faced Lucas and his pokémon, shell snapping open and shut menacingly.
“Okay, Swish,” Lucas yelled. “Let’s start simple. Hit it with a DoubleSlap!”
The Minccino responded with a nod, before dashing in close to his opponent. He then raised a paw, before slamming it back and forth once on his opponent.
He raised it again. Another slap.
They didn’t seem to be doing much whatsoever to the Shellder. It finally got tired of the minute damage that was being dealt to it, and launched itself forward, knocking Swish over with considerable force.
It took him a few seconds to regain his footing. This would be a tough battle.
But then Lucas had an idea. A different tactic was required.
“Swish!” He shouted, as the spectators and other passengers on the ship were acting loud. “That shell’s too hard for you to damage directly! We’re going to have to do things a little differently!”
He cleared his throat. He knew he had an audience.
The Minccino focused for a second, and multiple star-shaped rays came into being. He made a pose, and they shot straight towards the Shellder. It reeled, the attack having hit home.
“Alright, then! That should be enough, Swish!” Lucas cried.
He took his backpack off and rustled through it for a second. All professionalism was now lost.
Not that he cared, of course.
He withdrew his hand from the bag. In it was a pokéball.
“Alright then. This should teach you not to mess with my teammates!”
He threw the pokéball at the Shellder… and waited.