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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 them.
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.”
“We?” 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 had 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-
“-Slooooooooow!” 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!”
“...April?” 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!
Instagram & Tumblr: makoheart
Sorry to anyone who has been following this story, I lost my memory stick with everything I had written on it but thankfully it showed up earlier in the week. I promise not to keep you waiting so long for the next chapter!
Chapter 21 – And You Are? (Part 2)
After passing through a small corridor I clambered up the metal steps, my legs weak and not belonging to me after being bound and malnourished for so long.
Outside, fresh air swiftly filled my lungs, the salt in the air making it bittersweet. It was a dark, starry night and the boat was docked at the base of an L-shaped Island on which a large, dilapidated factory dominated most of the terrain to the immediate right. The factory was surrounded by woodland and to the left of it, lights dotted the distance like fireflies, revealing the location of a small island town.
“In there.” Came a voice from behind me. It was the man in the trench coat, staring up at the factory, his coat blowing in the wind.
“What is?” I asked, still wary of this stranger. But at that point, he was the only ally I had.
That name struck a nerve with me, a name that I’d never had to place a face to but had been trying to for the last six days. “Who is he?” I asked.
“A freelance scientist who used to work for the Rockets before their so-called ‘disbanding’. He’s been here ever since-“ The man stopped talking suddenly and pushed me up against a small cliff behind him, covering my mouth, he strength surprising me more than the action.
Struggling slightly after being caught off guard I silenced myself when I heard voices overhead shortly followed by the echoing sound of scraping metal, presumably the door of the factory sliding open before slamming shut again.
The man I decided to call Trench released me from his grip and I took a deep breath, giving him a dirty look even though I knew why he did what he did. Trench helped me up before turning on his heel and dashing up the hill, silently as ever.
I hot-footed it up the dirt path towards the factory. Atop the hill, the grass was overgrown and was littered with large rocks. Trench was squatting behind one, right beside a smashed window pane. to someone who wasn’t looking, he would have been virtually invisible.
Trench was completely fixated on what was happening inside the factory walls, his gaze not even flinching when I squatted next to him. Until now I hadn’t seen his eyes; a very light shade of blue that was almost turquoise in the moonlight. And for some reason - they unsettled me.
Looking inside, the factory was mostly deserted apart from a few old cages lying scattered here and there. In the shadows a man in a tattered lab coat with erratic blue hair was tinkering with a laptop, turning away from it upon hearing the sound of footsteps marching towards him.
“You people just won’t leave me alone will you?” He said, cockily folding his arms only to be pushed against the wall with Proton’s hand wrapped around his neck.
In the light the scientist seemed to be in his early thirties but his wild hair and eccentricity made him appear much older.
“Tell us where it is Gideon.” Proton demanded as he flexed his fingers and tightened his grip around the eccentric man’s neck.
Gideon let out a nervous laugh. “Hehheheheh! What could you possibly mean? You took everything from this warehouse months ago – Years if I’m not mistaken...”
“But not what you took from the Dotted Hole.”
“Oh ho ho! That Sapphire? It was a passing fancy – useless in fact! Gideon couldn’t even get a buyer.”
Proton smirked. “Well, I’m sorry to break it to you Gideon but if you thought that gem was useless then you’re not as great of a scientist as you think you are.”
Gideon’s expression completely changed; his eyes became enraged and anger spread across his face. I could tell by Proton’s smug expression that he’d produced the reaction he was hoping for.
“Well it matters not anyway, Gideon doesn’t have it.”
“What?!” Proton yelled chillingly. “Where is it?!”
“Hmph. Here’s the deal; tell Gideon why your trinket is so important... And Gideon will tell you what he did with it. Simple, no? Even a buffoon such as yourself should be able to understand that.”
Proton angrily pulled the scientist closer and raised a fist.
“Stop.” Came a voice from across the room. “Let me deal with him.”
Proton immediately released his grip as a hooded figure walked, no... hobbled across the room. In the dark it was hard to make out the actual size of the person, let alone a face. The voice was deep and twisted, disguised somehow.
“Where is it?”
“Gideon told you-“
“-Tell me!!” The figure bellowed, hitting the mad scientist and drawing blood across his cheek, making him fall to his knees.
”All right, all right!” He cried, wincing in pain. “I’ll show you.”
“Good. Now if you give us what we want then we’ll let you in on our little project. So tell us; where are we going?”
Gideon grit his teeth and stared up at the cloaked figure with menace and intrigue. “Knot Island.”
With that Proton and his grunts picked up the scientist and exited from the rear entrance.
“Knot Island... how far is that?” I asked Trench, rising to my feet.
“Not far.” He replied repeating the action.
“Perfect – we’ve got them!” I cried. “Can you take me to the police?”
“No? Fine.” I sighed. “I’ll find them myself.”
“No.” He said again, grabbing my arm as I began to walk away. “You have to come with me.”
I turned back to face him and pulled my arm from his grip. “These people destroyed my home and now I know where they’re going and can put a stop to them, so the only place I’m going is the police station. I don’t have to go anywhere with you.” I said, starting into the forest when a pair of deep, red eyes and white teeth appeared as if from nowhere in front of me. It was the black Pokémon from earlier growling deeply, crouching and ready to pounce.
“Are you sure I can’t change your mind?” Trench said, appearing behind me.
“No.” I said. “You think you can threaten me to get what you want? Forget it. I’m done submitting to threats and I’m done letting them hurt any more people.”
I put my right foot out in front of me to continue into the woods thinking of the last time someone gave me an ultimatum only to go back on their word. When my foot touched the ground I felt something gab my forearm and say “Then I’m sorry.” And before I could react properly, my arms had been pulled up behind my back and as I turned to try and fight him, I slipped and twisted my left ankle.
I cried out in pain and cursed violently at him.
“Now walk.” He said, pushing me forwards.
Once the two women calmed down they began pondering how Slowking happened on his extreme intelligence, throwing theories back and forth, completely excluding April and me.
“His migrains.” Nurse Joy said, pacing around Slowking, her arms half folded with one arm held stroking her chin. “Has he ever had one before?”
“Just the once I think, straight after he evolved...” April replied, still squatting beside the table her pokemon was perched upon.
“Then this shell could be the source of it all.” Joy said as she placed her fingers underneath the shell and began prising it off his head. “Perhaps it’s digging into his-“
The nurse stopped mid sentence, staggering back, a look of shock plastered across her face. April and I exchanged confused glances.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“The shell… It has eyes - It’s alive!”
April and I quickly exchanged glances again before rising to our feet and inspecting it for ourselves. The shell, greyish in colour, was in fact alive and had a large pair of white, cold eyes staring straight at us. Also, on closer inspection, the base of the shell had sharp white fangs protruding from it that were digging into Slowking’s head.
“April, just how did you say he evolved?” Ivy piped up from the computer screen.
April and I explained that a purple pokemon managed to latch itself onto Slowpoke’s head and how it began to evolve straight after.
“-Of course!” Ivy cried, coming to a revelation.
“What? What is it?” Nurse Joy asked, as interested as we were.
“The evolution from Slowpoke to Slowking usually happens when a special chemical found within an item known as a King’s Rock is exposed to their skin and seeps into their bloodstream. However, it’s recently been discovered that the same chemical is present in a certain purple shelled pokemon named Shellder-“
“-Which could explain the evolution!” I said, finishing Ivy’s sentence for her.
“Wait, but if that’s the case then shouldn’t there be a heck of a lot more Slowking running around?” April asked, finding a flaw in Ivy’s logic.
“Well it’s possible that the amount of fat in a Slowpoke’s tail stops the chemical from ever reaching the bloodstream, causing a branched evolution into Slowbro.”
“That may be all well and good,” Nurse Joy began, walking forward, “but it still doesn’t explain why he can actually speak.”
“Could it be the poison?” I asked, throwing an idea into the foreground.
“What do you mean?” April asked, stroking Slowking’s arm with a look of worry in her eyes.
“Well Ivy,” I began, again turning towards the computer, “you said that the chemical can’t get through the fat in Slowpoke’s tail so maybe the poison couldn’t either, but now the Shellder is attached to his head maybe its making him smarter somehow.”
“His migrains…” April muttered, putting two and two together. “He only spoke after he had one on the beach – they must be making him smarter!”
“That… actually makes sense. I’ll have to do some tests but you two could’ve actually made your first scientific discovery!”
Chuffed, I decided to give credit where credit was due. “I suppose I’ll have to give you a mention when I announce it to the world…”
“Why thank you for your generosity.” Ivy replied with just a hint of sarcasm.
“But professor… this poison, it can’t hurt him can it?” April asked, looking up from beside her pokemon looking quite concerned.
Ivy lowered her head for a few seconds in thought before raising it again to speak. “I can’t say for certain, but it doesn’t seem to do any permanent damage... He may just have to live with a small migraine every now and again.”
April looked down at her pokemon and smiled. “Well at least he’s okay. Oh my god - he. He needs a name.”
“Why don’t you let him pick?” I suggested, making me think about the egg in my bag Mr Fuji gave to me.
“Yeah, good idea. So Slowking, what do you want to be called?”
Slowking looked up to the various humans gathered around the table and pointed to himself. April nodded her head and the pokemon said, “Slowking called Slowking.” Sounding confused as to why we’d even ask such a question. “Slowking is tired.”
“Oh... okay. Do you want to go back into your pokeball?” His owner asked in response to the blunt statement.
Slowking nodded and so April produced the red and white ball allowing Slowking to disappear inside via a beam of ruby light. Even though April saw fit to give her pokemon a name now he was capable of speech, he was still a pokemon after all – and he needed his pokeball to rest.
Suddenly the sound of a horn echoed throughout the room.
“What was that?” I asked, taking the egg from my bag.
“That must be the SS Anne” Nurse Joy said checking her watch, “On time as usual.”
Suddenly April’s face lit up and she began to follow Nurse Joy into the reception area. I explained to Ivy that I’d be right back and followed the two girls through the door.
In reception, the port was visible through the glass wall and a very large ship had just docked, lighting up the night sky in the distance.
“Oh my gosh that’s really it.” April said under her breath, just loud enough for me to hear.
Confused, I asked the question, “Am I missing something here? What’s so special about this boat?”
“’This boat’ - Do you live under a rock? It’s the most famous ship in the world and it only stops at each port once a year for one night only. I’ve always wanted to see it!” She cried, practically giddy.
April turned and headed for the front door, picking up her drawstring shoulder bag as she went.
“Aren’t you coming?”
“No thanks.” I laughed, failing to see why a ship could possibly be so interesting. “But I’m gonna go have a look at the gym later and try and schedule a match with the leader.”
“So I’ll meet you back here later?” April said almost rhetorically as she walked out the sliding doors not even waiting for an answer.
“Sure - have fun boat spotting! …Weirdo.”
Catch 'em, catch 'em, gotta catch 'em all; gotta catch 'em all - Pokemon!
Instagram & Tumblr: makoheart
I've known how I have wanted this chapter to go for ages but I just havent been able to write it down well enough until now. I hope this will suffice
Chapter 22 – What Lies Beneath (Part 1)
After what seemed like an eternity of being forced to walk through the forest on my twisted ankle, we arrived at the outskirts of the Island village. I’d exhausted myself in the forest just trying to stay upright and had lost the will to fight Trench’s grip so I decided to gin and bear the pain to see where he was taking me.
In front of us stood the back of a rural bungalow on the very edge of the settlement. No light came from inside; either no one was home or it was abandoned. At least, that was what it was supposed to look like.
Clutching my arm behind my back he pulled me closer and whispered “You going to cause trouble?”
I wanted to think of something smart to say back to him but it never came so I reassured him with a convincing "No."
Still clutching my arm he pulled it back from behind me and put it over his shoulders to help me walk. At the time I figured he’d felt guilty but that wasn’t the case.
“Open it.” He said.
Seeing nothing but a large bush in front of me I asked the logical question. "Open what?" Just as soon as the words had left my lips, the bush separated into two revealing a set of steps leading underground. Looking closer with the help of light coming from below, I could faintly see the outlines of his two pokemon that blended so well into the night, holding the bush apart.
With Trench’s aid I hobbled forwards, down the stairs and through an empty doorway to the right. We entered a room filled to the brim with computers great and small; the sound of typing on a keyboard filled the air whilst discarded pieces of paper littered the floor. Among them was a blonde-haired girl in her mid-twenties with her hair tied into a single ponytail squatting against a mammoth machine to our left, tinkering with its insides and not even noticing our presence.
A curly redhead turned his head from studying a bookcase on our right. He looked only a few years older than me and his face was badly bruised and his left arm hung loosely in a sling.
The third, a brunette with a slight quiff and rounded oval glasses was fast at work typing numbers and letters onto a screen and after a quick glance, carried on with what he was doing.
“Oh good – you’re back” The redhead smiled to Trench, it dropping when he caught sight of me limping beside him.
“-What took you so long?!” The blonde cried, rising up from the floor. “We don’t exactly have much time to sp-“
“-They went to the old lab on One. We’ve got a while.” Trench interrupted.
“Fine.” The woman huffed. “But be quick – I don’t like this.” Trench grunted and released his grip on my arm. Then, without realising how much I was relying on him to stand up, I put my bad leg to the floor, making my leg buckle from the pain causing me to fall to the floor with it.
As I cursed at him again, the girl turned and gasped before kneeling down to help me sit up. “Crowe, what the hell are you doing?!” She yelled, checking me over for an injury. “...Are you okay?”
“Don’t act like you lot didn’t just drag me here, what do you want?” I demanded, pushing the girls hand away from my ankle.
“You dragged him here?!” The redhead asked ‘Crowe’ quite angrily.
“Technically I pushed. But he was going to the police.” He shrugged, leaning against the vacant doorframe.
The two exchanged worried looks with the brunette who had stopped typing on his laptop.
For a moment I thought that they could be in league with the Rockets but then it occurred to me that we wouldn’t have had to stay hidden at the factory if that was the case.
"Who are you people?" I asked, getting mixed signals as to their intentions.
“Friends.”The brunette said, rising from his seat.
"Friends?! Ha!" I laughed. "That's what this guy said before he twisted my ankle!" I cried, pointing with my thumb to the man behind me formally known as Trench.
“Okay, okay, why don’t we all just take a breather?” He said, approaching the group. “Crowe, I think you should make yourself scarce – why don’t you go on patrol duty or something.”
And just like that Crowe silently disappeared up the steps and out of sight. The brunette pulled me over a chair and put it against the nearby wall before helping me up onto it.
“Beebs, can you fix him up?”
The blonde girl nodded and pulled out a first aid kit from in between two wall-height computers and began rummaging around inside it. “Sorry about him – Crowe I mean.” She began, rolling my trouser leg up to get a better look at my ankle which was now red-raw. “He’s my brother, although you wouldn’t think it…”
"Beebs, we're being rude. Celio Browne, nice to meet you."The brunette said, extending his hand towards me. A gesture which I made a point of ignoring.
"Bebe." The blonde girl piped up, putting the finishing touches on a bandage she was wrapping around my ankle.
"And this is Bill." Celio continued, pulling up a chair beside me as the redhead summoned up a smile. "You want to know what we want? Well, in all honesty... we need a favour."
I huffed, thinking that we must of had different definitions of the word. "And I suppose if I don't help you with this 'favour' then you'll get Mr. Trenchcoat out there to set his pokemon on me again?"
"No,no." Celio replied, seeming genuinely shocked. "You're free to get up and leave anytime; we just wanted the chance to talk to you before you went to the police. Don't worry, you can trust us."
I looked closely at the three faces, trying to decipher from their expressions if they were telling the truth or not. Could I trust them? They had freed me from the Rockets and given me my pokemon back, but I’d also had my ankle twisted and been abducted...again.
"...So what is this favour?" I asked, almost dreading the reply.
"We want you to go back onto the Rockets' boat and pretend you're still their hostage -"
"-What?! No way!"
"We only want you to listen out for any information that will help us. Crowe will stay close by to keep you safe-"
"-Safe? You call this safe?!" I yelled, lifing up my bandaged ankle."Forget it! I don't trust him - in fact, I don't trust any of you! And why do you need me to do this when your little lapdog out there is obviously more capable of doing this by himself?"
"Because you're involved now!" Celio bellowed, slamming his fist against a desk as he rose to his feet. "I'm sorry and believe me, I wish you weren't, but the fact of the matter is that you are involved and we need to make the best of the current situation."
"That's a lie." I said, pulling myself upright using the wall to keep my balance. "This has nothing to do with me. And like you said, I can just walk away."
"Don't you see? People will get hurt - you can't walk away, you need to do this. It's your responsibility - why don't you care?!"
As I stumbled along the side of the room to the steps, a combination of rage, hatred and sadness bubbled up inside of me, something that I hadn't ever let surface before.
"Oh let me see... My parents were murdered, I alienated my sister, watched as people died in an explosion that I could've stopped, I was beaten up, kidnapped and almost starved to death. So tell me; what have I got left? Why am I supposed to care?!"
"-Because this is all your father's fault!"
"What did you say?!" I cried, turning around and pushing Celio up against the wall with what little strength I had left. For a few seconds there was silence, I had to process what was just said, replaying it in my mind to make sure I didn't mishear.
"He meddled with something we told him to leave well-enough alone. If it wasn't for him, none of this would even be happening!"
"-Stop it!" Bebe cried, pushing the two of us apart and standing in the space between.
I stumbled backwards and caught onto Bill’s right arm to steady myself, but before I knew it my legs gave way and I collapsed in a mess on the floor, physically exhausted. Confused and angry, tears streamed down my face.
What had my father done? Was he involved with the Rockets? Why was he really killed?
I couldn’t answer any of the questions.
“Celio stop it.” Bill said, kneeling down to try and help me in some way. “It’s not right to put the blame on him – He hasn’t done anything wrong. Don’t make him do this; he doesn’t know what his father did.”
"No... No I don't." I sniffed, wiping my eyes. "But please tell me - I want to know everything."
After April left, I went back into the examination room to finish up my call to Ivy but instead we ended up chatting for ages - we hadn't spoken properly or had a catch-up since I was last home. Ivy told me of her daring experiments and endeavouring research, leaving out all the things that had blown up in her face (which is usually alot), while I told her of everything that had happened on my journey so far, trying to leave out the frightening parts but sadly there was no way around Sandshrew's death.
Talking about it still left me with a gaping hole in my gut but I was determined to move on from the subject, hastily changing the subject and tightening my scarf to try and keep my bandaged neck from showing.
After she realised that I didn't want to dwell on the subject, Ivy, like me, was fascinated by the egg I held in my arms. Having studied with Professor Elm, the leading expert on pokemon breeding, for many years, she was quite adept at identifying the species of pokemon simply by the markings on the shell. I protested that she didn't tell me what was inside, but she insisted that something wasn’t as it seemed. She rambled something about possible regional differences before returning to the real world.
A small blinking on the top right of the screen had been annoying me throughout the whole call but I hadn't the slightest idea what it meant.
"It means you have a message." Ivy said, shuffling through various pieces of paper on her desk. "There's a button on the side of the monitor - press it."
I did as I was told and the image on the screen split into two panels, Ivy on one side and a list marked 'Inbox' on the other. I had two messages; the first was from mum asking me how everything was going and was dated a week ago (Oops!), and the second was from someone I wasn't expecting - Robin.
Selecting the message I was met with a loud "Hiiiiiiiiiiii!" Nurse Joy looked in through the glass with a look that was a cross between confusion and concern on her face before returning to help the queue of people that had suddenly appeared.
Robin was stood in the foreground of a shop, dressed in a pokemart apron in front of a window that looked out onto what looked like a very well-kept park with flowers blooming in every available space. Courtney was close by, both of them looking healthy and back to their old selves which, by itself, put a smile on my face.
"Now Stalker, since you like, totally saved our lives back in Cerulean-"
"-even though you were rude and didn't say bye-"
"we figured that we owe you a little bit."
"Soooo, we've sent you and April all-access passes to the show at the new Dome in Fuschia City!" Courtney cried.
"We know we're being super-duper generous, but don't worry about it, you can give us the difference later."
"So yeah, when you get here just print off the tickets and you're like, good to go!"
"-Hey girls - Get back to work!" Came a voice from behind the camera.
"Uh-oh, gotta go!"
I looked at the screen blankly. Not knowing what the 'Dome' was or what show they were referring to, but sure enough there was an attachment with two tickets in, ready to be printed.
"Friends of yours?" Ivy asked slyly.
"Oh shut up, they're the girls we helped in Cerulean... How'd they get my number?"
"Every phone is linked to the PC system in some way. It's like a big phonebook; you can search for someone with a registered Trainer ID - it makes communicating on the go and trading with other trainers alot easier."
"Oh that's cool, so can i fin-" I stopped mid-sentence as the screen lit up. I had a new message.
"Someone's popular." Ivy remarked. "Who's it from this time?"
I looked at the message, it was marked as from 'Unknown'. Curious, I opened it.
The image was grainy and the sound was muffled, it looked like an old video that someone had taped over. There was a woman with black hair wearing a red hairband across her forehead, dressed in a full-length kimono of the same colour. She seemed quite distressed but I couldn’t make out much of what she was saying.
"April.... I need.... help.
Please! Come... bad feeling..."
The screen became too grainy to make anything out and 'End of Message' appeared on screen.
Whoever she was, she knew both of the siblings and something was most definitely wrong. But the question remained; if this message was meant for April then why did I get it?
“Alex? Alex what’s wrong?” Ivy asked, seeing my blank expression. “What was that message about?”
"Its.. well.. I-I've got to go - speak to you later!" I said hastily turning the monitor off and cutting off Ivy's cries of protest mid-sentence.
Something wasn't right, I looked at the clock - April should've been back by now. I had to find her and show her the message so I ran from the room and checked the foyer. Apart from a now diminished queue of people and Nurse Joy, the place was empty.
Without saying goodbye I ran out into the dark of the night. People were still lesiurely walking along the main road in the safety of the streetlamps, but there was no sign of her. I ran ahead through a maze of darkened alleys headed towards the port but when I reached the seafront I was confronted with a large metal fence. It stretched as far as I could see, and although the fence was scaleable, I would've been stopped by the spikes lining the top.
Frustrated, I clutched a pokeball from my belt and threw it high into the air, releasing Swablu in a flash of white. She hovered in the air, sensing something was wrong.
"Swablu, I need you to go and have a look for April in the docks - Please hurry!" I cried, watching as she propelled herself through the air looking like a pice of wool in the wind.
I waited in what seemed like an industrial estate - a place where I was surrounded by large, corregated metal factories. Looking around, one in particular caught my eye. The front of the factory had two lightning bolts painted on it, crossing each other and forming an X above the entrance whereas written just below it was the word 'GYM'.
Touching the rusty metal I wondered if this really was the gym; there was no light coming from inside and the area didn't exactly look like it had been busy anytime in the past.
Suddenly I heard a series of loud explosions behind me. I turned to see smoke pouring outwards from a massive cruise ship docked closeby, inscinctivly I covered my eyes as a cloud of smoke engulfed me.
"Swablu!" I cried out, slowly stammering forwards.
Carefully, I opened my eyes. A howl echoed through the air just before a dark figure appeared in front of me, hidden in the smoke. It was big, on four legs and coming straight in my direction. Right then I knew that if this was the thing that did all that to a huge boat - I was a dead man.
It was a warm evening in Vermillion City; the smells of the sea floated in the breeze and the cobbled streets were filled with people, most of them leisurely heading for the comfort of home after a long day’s work. The brightness of the night sky was dimished by the illuminations of the city, with only a few stars dotted about the empty space above.
April moved quicker than most in the crowd, eager to see first-hand the world-famous ship she had always dreamt of taking a voyage upon. Arriving at the port she quickly located the dock she was looking for – a raised, stone platform made of smooth grey slate that had been pieced together with the utmost care and precision. A dock fit for royalty no less.
She ascended the steps leading up to the dock and when she reached the top of the platform she could see a slow stream of passengers disembarking. She gazed in awe of the beautiful suits and glamourous dresses shimmering in the moonlight from a distance as they disembarked for the night, only to be confronted by a man dressed in a white Navy uniform.
“Sorry Madam – passengers only.” He said, extending an arm.
“But – oh please, I really want to see it up close.”
“Rules are rules kid.” He said again, standing firm.
Knowing she wouldn’t be changing his mind anytime soon, April turned away disheartened, descending the steps. Just as she disappeared from the Nay officer’s line of sight, a man carrying a net of fish bumped into her. After apologizing with a grunt, the man proceeded to walk down a set of wooden steps adjacent to the dock. April was surprised she hadn’t seen this before and even though she felt in her gut that she shouldn’t, she followed the man down the creaky set of steps.
At the bottom she found that the wooden platform was much larger than she’d anticipated , built underneath the stone platform and around the columns that held it up. People were busily rushing about; fishermen, sailors –everyone had a job to do.
The smell of gutted fish was overpowering and a salty, wet muck coated the wood underneath – this place was not meant for royalty.
April ducked and dived through the oncoming people with cries of “watch it!” and “move!” filling the air as they collided again and again. The fishermen were clearly locals with that gruff accent that Vermillions are famous for whereas the sailors had an accent all their own that seemed to be an amalgamation from all the different places they had been.
After narrowly escaping the barrage of dock workers, April found herself in an area filled with crates twice the height of her, stacked on top of another. Walking through the area felt like navigating a maze but eventually she came face to face with the base of vessel itself.
The ship’s crew were hard at work unloading luggage and yet more crates to add to the maze through a large, rectangular door in the base of the ship. Some of them were not even in uniform, giving April the perfect chance to slip through unnoticed.
Just as she was about to take her first step towards the boat a familiar face walked past her and into the cargo hold of the boat. The man with shockingly bright blonde hair wore a white uniform with many military badges attached to it. April recognised the man’s face from Adam’s first gym battle – Lt. Surge.
Suddenly thoughts of Alex passed through her mind – he was looking for the gym leader and the last place he’d look would be the harbour. But she was conflicted – she wouldn’t get the chance to see the SS Anne again. It was then she saw something that would make up her mind for her.
A woman with blood-red hair in a similar white uniform followed the gym leader into the bowels of the cargo hold. The same woman April saw on the night her family was torn apart.
The same woman who murdered her parents.
Without thinking about her actions for even a second, April strode forwards, following the woman into the bowels of the ship.
Inside, luggage was tied into clusters; ready to be wheeled out at any second whereas further back, things that were staying on board for lengthier periods of time were stored securely. She passed cars, crates and even artefacts that were centuries old but she didn’t give any of them so much as an inquisitive glance. Instead she was focused on the woman in front of her, her high-heeled shoes echoing throughout the open space with every step she took.
Suddenly, light was cut from the cargo hold with an almighty creaking noise. The Loading door had been shut, leaving April in complete darkness. For a moment she panicked, but hearing the echo of heels against the cold floor made her realise that she still knew exactly where she had to go.
Using her hands as a guide, she navigated the twists and turns with ease, the rough, wooden crates feeling more and more like the cold smoothness of metal with every step. Angry and scared, her breathing became heavy and fast.
The footsteps stopped in front of her for a fraction of a second before continuing on as normal. Realising she had been heard, April backed up against a metal crate, putting both hands to her mouth to try and silence herself.
Ahead of her the woman picked up a metal object and carried on walking a few yards.
April tried to regulate her breathing and calm herself down, she thought she had gotten away with it.
Suddenly the woman turned sharply, swinging a pole she had picked up against the metal crates creating an almighty clang. The crates suddenly lit up the entire area with an intense, bright flickering light. April turned around to see that the metal crates weren’t crates at all, but cages with pokemon trapped inside. From what she could tell, they were all electric types screaming to be let out and frightened at the sudden noise.
Footsteps came towards her.
Out of the corner of her eye April could see the woman’s red hair, slanted nose, menacing eyes and the long metal pole she was carrying in her hand. She confidently strode through the isle of cages behind April, clearly on the lookout for someone.
She stopped on the corner beside April, looking around the immediate area slowly. Just centimetres away, April held her breath and shut her eyes tightly, reaching for her pokeballs - sure she was going to get caught until a voice cried;“Over here.”
Turning back to the direction she was facing before, she grunted viciously, throwing the pole to the floor and then proceeding towards the origin of the voice.
After waiting a few seconds longer, April gasped for breath and glanced inside the cage she was leaning on. A small, blue and black pokemon with a yellow tip on its tail was passed out from hunger or exhaustion, she didn’t want to think about which.
Looking around, the cages were filled with pokemon she had never seen before, all electric types that had been illegally smuggled in appalling conditions, she couldn't bring herself to look at them. After composing herself, April slowly crawled forward two isles to an empty cage, being careful not to spook any of the already riled up pokemon into giving away her location.
Through the bars two figures stood side by side. Surge's muscular arms were folded, standing beside the woman looking quite content. "So what do you think?"
"They'll work perfectly." She smiled sadistically, kicking a bar of a large cage in front of her containing a few Electrode. "Get them to Mahogany when you can."
April clutched a pokeball on her belt, barely able to contain her anger. She wished she had gone back to get the police or at least spoken to Alex whilst she could, but there was noone here, noone to help her. She was outnumbered if she tried to do anything.
Then, for some reason, among the cages she was drawn towards a small yellow pokemon with blue cheeks crying out for help. It was alot more active than the other pokemon around it, trying to squeeze its way through the bars whereas the others looked like they had given up trying. It then hit her - she wasn't alone. April knelt to the floor and began pulling at the small cage, trying to levy it open. The pokemon looked at her, confused but still adopting a hostile pose, trying to figure out if she was friend or foe.
Suddenly she heard a footstep behind her - "Found you."
Catch 'em, catch 'em, gotta catch 'em all; gotta catch 'em all - Pokemon!
Instagram & Tumblr: makoheart
I...have something of a review? It's not much, because I'll save the more details for when I catch up. But I wanted to give you something, since you requested.
(I'm only up to chapter six, sorry!)
Alex, so far, just strikes me as a regular starting trainer. So far, I'm wondering where his relations to Professor Ivy is going to take him. (By the way, "Ivy" isn't the character's first name. It's Felina. So it's odd to read the scenes where the family's talking about her.) Same with that Eevee. I'm wondering what's up with that stretched-mouth Eevee.
One thing that I'm wondering is why you went with first-person narration. The plus of writing in first-person is that we're right inside the reader's head. We're noticing what they're noticing, thinking what they're thinking. We're right in their brain. What I feel is missing through a lot of your narration is how your characters actually feel. The plot itself is moving at a good pace. You don't slow anything down when it doesn't need to be. But I would like to see more about how the characters actually feel about what's going on around them.
It was also just a bit confusing to have two different first-person narrators in one chapter...but then I figured out that that's why you have the bold separators.
So far, this is just a simple original trainer fic. But you definitely put the work into this, so I'm going to continue reading and see where this goes.
Thanks for the review
I think i've gotten better at stating and describing emotions in the later chapters but it's definitely something i'll look into for future reference. And in regards to Alex and his Dad calling Felina by their last name, I briefly mentioned it around chapter 12 ( I think) In Felina And The Bird, where Alex states that his sister had always hated her forename.
Thanks for continuing to read, and I look forward to any future comments!
Instagram & Tumblr: makoheart
Chapter 22 - What Lies Beneath (Part 2)
"You look alot like your sister you know." Bill said with a smile, handing me a peanut butter sandwich. "Sorry, it was the only thing in the fridge."
"You... know April?" I asked, before looking down at the plate.
The sandwich was the best looking piece of food I had ever seen and I wasted no time in scoffing it down. I had been starved for what felt like an age and eating felt good but also like poison at the same time as my stomach cramped every time i swallowed, making me wince in pain.
"Your body's just got to get used to eating food again, don't worry." Bebe smiled.
After calming myself down, Bill and Bebe helped me up onto a computer chair whereas Celio disappeared to cool off. The pair apologized for their friend's behaviour explaining that he was on edge - they all were.
"Yeah, she rescued me from the Rockets in Cerulean City about a week and a half ago. If it wasn't for her, this" He said, slightly lifting his arm in the sling, "wouldn't have been my only injury."
"She was with the Rockets? - Is she okay?!"
"She's fine. It was because of her and her friend that me and two others managed to escape and loads of pokemon were returned to their rightful owners. They're heroes."
“A boy named Alex I think. Brown hair, stripy scarf, glasses?"
I was stunned. I felt pride in my little sister for helping so many people but at the same time one of the reasons i let her travel with Alex was so she could stay out of trouble. My train of thought was interrupted by Celio walking back down the steps carrying a laptop under his arms.
For a moment the four of us said nothing. Celio then slowly approached our group in the corner of the room.
"I... I'm sorry for what I said earlier." He said with his head to the floor, his apology seeming genuine. "It's just that, well... Let me start from the beginning." He sighed, pulling up another nearby chair from the mess.
"Three years ago, when the Trainer PC network was still fairly new, we had trouble connecting the Kanto system with the one in Hoenn. So, to fix the problem I managed to set up an amplifier here in the Sevii Isles, but it needed the power of two relics, which according to local legend, were named the Ruby and the Sapphire."
"They were rocks with enough energy in to be used as a kind of battery for the machine, similar to how Moon Stones have a form of radiation in them." Bebe added.
"So with the help of a young trainer we managed to find the Ruby and the Sapphire, but unfortunatly for us, the latter was stolen by a scientist; a scientist working for Team Rocket." Celio continued.
"Gideon." I said, putting everything I had heard at the warehouse into place.
"Exactly. Needless to say the Rockets were in the middle of their 'disbanding' and so it was fairly easy to re-obtain without too much hassle. Then the problems began. After a couple of weeks the machine began to continuously overload, so I took a few readings - the relics were exerting tremendous amounts of energy. Energy that I had never seen before."
"We were astounded by the level of power these relics had but we could not work out just why, so we decided to send them to someone who could find out more about them - Dr Moon." Said Bill, looking me in the eye.
"One of the best in his field, scientifically speaking." Bill said.
"In his early years on your home island, your father accidentally discovered a hidden temple in the woodland and instead of reporting the discovery, he kept it to himself.
The temple was empty, looted by thieves in the past for all it was worth, nothing of value was left apart from the partial remains of a wall mural.
This piqued his curiosity and so he began studying it whenever he could but wasn't able to make heads or tails of it. He knew it was a piece of Orange Lore so he began going through all sorts of legends and theories, even consulting with Professor Juniper on creation myths but still came to nothing - he'd reached a dead end." Celio explained.
"Then, out of nowhere, the Unown code was cracked. Instantly, thanks to generations of painstaking archaeology in the Ruins of Alph, we could decipher and understand centuries upon centuries of history - of course there were regional variations but the base understanding remained.” Bebe added.
I remembered that. Dad's job was apparently the reason we lived on Cleopatra Island in the first place; it was a place steeped in ruins and culture but apart from a small community, it was virtually deserted.
The year the Code was cracked he was a different person. He hardly spoke to any of us, and if he did it was about his work - he shut himself away from the rest of the world.
"With the rough translation of the symbols on the mural he found out that it revolved around five relics known as the 'Gems' - the 'Diamond', the 'Ruby', the 'Sapphire', the 'Emerald' and the 'Pearl'.
To anyone else, this would have been just another piece of superstitious myth that had been lost in time, but Dr Moon thought there was something more to it. Unfortunately for him, the trail still ran cold.
The mural looked as if it once contained the location of the other Gems but, like everything else in the temple, it had either been destroyed or long forgotten."
"Imagine the look on his face when we turned up out of the blue with two of them!" Bebe cried.
"Needless to say, he told us about his little hobby and, out of curiosity, we agreed to help his research along by taking him to the Dotted Hole and Icefall Cave, where the Ruby and Sapphire were originally found.
Inside, we noticed a wall mural alot like the one found on Cleopatra, only it was preserved perfectly. It displayed similar pictures and symbols to its counterpart but also contained a map which displayed the location of the other Gems. Using it, we managed to find the Emerald and then eventually the Diamond; the only thing missing was the Pearl. And after studying the mural over again we found that the Pearl was the important one – it was the catalyst.”
“…The catalyst for what?” I asked, too concentrated on trying to keep up to think about my feelings.
"The Gems had apparently been worshipped in ancient times for their ‘magical powers’. They were sacred items used in rituals to grant humans control over the elements, similar to pokemon." Celio revealed.
"Wait, so you're telling me these Gems can give people Pokemon powers?"
"Yes. But much more powerful, they would not be restricted to one single type. Each Gem represents a different element - with all of them they could wield any type out there."
"Dangerous. And wrong. At first we didn't believe it. But thinking back upon the amount of power they exerted, it was surely possible." Bill added again.
"We warned your father of the dangers, if they got into the wrong hands, what destruction could happen... but he wouldn't listen. He continued, obsessed for weeks until one day we discovered that Dr Moon hadn’t been telling us the entire truth. Alongside the first piece of the mural in the Cleopatra Island site, he had found what he believed to be the Pearl.
When we went to confront him however, he handed the Gems back to us shouting to high heaven that we had started this so we should take the gems back and leave him alone. He gave us four of the relics before saying that he had hidden the Pearl in a place that no one will ever find.
...But it was too late.
The Rockets must have somehow gotten wind of the research and well... it cost him his life."
“But… I don’t understand. If you have all the Gems then how did Mr Fuji have one?” I asked, trying to digest all the information at once.
Bebe spoke up this time, with a look of sadness and shame across her pale face. “Well, when we heard what had happened to your family, it didn’t take us long to realise what the Rockets were after. We made a pact; Lanette, Bill, Celio and me, to each take a Gem and find a safe, secure place to hide it and not to tell another soul where it was. Just incase… well, if one of us got captured.”
Celio looked to the floor. “They took Lanette.” He said, slowly looking up to face me. His bottom lip was trembling. “On her way from Hoenn. She… She couldn’t get here quick enough.”
“So you see we are all involved.” Bebe said, clasping Celio’s hand. “…Will you help us?”
I was overwhelmed. So much information in such a small amount of time- too much; my father’s obsession with a thousand year old myth, relics that can give people control of the elements and finally, a reason for the slaughter of my home island.
“I-I need time to think... Sorry.” I said, slowly rising to my feet, clutching to the wall behind me for support. Bebe quickly stood up to assist me as I tried to tackle the staircase leading back outside, into the fresh air of the night.
As soon as Adam disappeared out of sight, Bill turned to Celio.
“Why did you lie?”
“I had to. The truth would have killed him.”
The voice was a woman's but not the redhead Rocket's; someone else was in there and she daren't turn to face them.
"Meena you're okay…" The girl whispered, appearing beside April, kneeling down and speaking into the exact cage that she was just trying to open.
The girl was dark-skinned with black hair tied up using a bandana, wearing unusual clothes, two metal bracelets on her right wrist and a small necklace around her neck. Her accent was thick and foreign but the language the two spoke was the same. She had seen April trying to free her pokemon earlier, so quickly made up her mind on where her allegiances lied but April however, remained unsure.
A small yellow pokemon with red cheeks and a round, blue and white pokemon followed close behind the girl; the small, yellow pokemon greeting its blue cheeked counterpart by rubbing their cheeks together through the bars creating static. April recognised the blue and white pokemon as a Marill that instead of running up to the other pokemon, clung to its trainer's leg looking petrified at everything happening around it.
"Get back, we'll make quick work of this." The girl smiled.
"-wait!" April whispered sharply, grabbing the girl's attention. April pointed towards Surge and the redheaded woman.
A look of annoyance spread across the girl's face. "Looks like we'll have to do this the old fashioned way." She reached under her bandana and pulled out two small hexagonal pieces of metal, each end with a different thickness and length and began using one to unscrew the hinges of the cage. "Can you give me a hand?"
April quickly nodded, took one of the peculiar bits of metal and set to work on her side of the cage.
"Who are you?" April asked whilst trying to unscrew the hinges which were much tighter than she had anticipated.
The girl looked at her strangely as if judging whether or not to divulge the information. "Naoko... Who're you?" She said, removing one of the hinges and making it look easy.
"I'm April. Why are you down here?" April asked, quick and to the point.
Noako explained that she was a passenger above deck and when her pokemon ran below, her and her friend Dillan who worked on the ship came down searching for them.
"...I found Puzzle by himself in this place so I knew Meena had to be locked up somewhere around here, but by the time I found her - I'd lost Dillan. I'm such an idiot; I should never have come on this stupid boat."
Then, just as April was about to console her, the cage door came loose and fell to the floor making a loud clanging noise that seemed to reverberate throughout the cargo hold. April was dreading the fact that she might've been caught and bracing herself for the worst, she peered through a gap in the cages to see that the two figures were still speaking as they had been minutes ago.
Once they had been reunited, Naoko wasted no time in withdrawing her plus and minus pokemon. "C'mon, we need to find Dillan." She said, rising to her feet and looking around in the flickering light produced from the caged pokemon.
"But what about the other pokemon - these people are criminals! God knows what they're going to do with them." April protested.
"Which is why I need to find Dillan. He's hopeless at fending for himself and he hasn't even got any pokemon to defend him if he gets caught wandering down here."
"You don't understand - these people are murderers, kidnappers and God knows what else. If we don't help these pokemon, we're practically condemning them to death."
"-What about Dillan? If we don't bother searching we'd be doing exactly the same to him. Look, if you want to help them, then help them. I'm going to find my friend." Naoko said stubbornly, turning to walk down the row of cages.
April grabbed her arm and stopped her in her tracks. "-Who's to say your friend is even still here? If he had any sense, he would've gotten off this boat when he realised what was going on!"
"-Captain?" Came a voice from behind the cages. A voice Naoko instantly recognised.
The girls stopped their feud to peer through the cages.
Surge and the redhead turned to the boy. He was of similar skin tone to Naoko and wore a grey and white SS Anne Uniform. Dillan looked afraid, much more than he should when addressing a fellow crew member.
"Captain... what is all of this?"
Lt Surge raised an eyebrow. "Are you not supposed to be at work boy? You shouldn't have come here." He said with a coarse tone to his voice.
"Sir, where did all of these pokemon come from?"
"Here and there. Not that it's any of your concern, they're well taken care of."
"'Well taken care of' ? Look at them - they've been beaten and starved. These pokemon have been poached - What you're doing is illegal!"
The woman burst out in maniacal laughter. "You talk about these things as though they have feelings. Oh dear boy tell me, is that why you were snooping around here earlier - hoping to free the poor, defenceless pokemon?"
Dillan was confused at the question; he had been mixed up with April.
"Relax, this boy is hardly worth the effort. Stop toying around and get rid of him."
"Captain, how can you do this?! You're a Gym Leader for crying out loud! ...You don't deserve either of those titles... You won't get away with this."
"What are you going to do baby - tell your mummy? Go ahead; you won't even make it to the door." The redheaded woman threatened, brandishing a pokeball.
"I-if you kill me... People will notice that I’ve disappeared; the crew, my family, my friends. You won't be able to cover this up, not from everyone."
"We have to do something!" Naoko whispered sharply.
April agreed, enraged to her core. Everything about these people made her sick and she was determined to get revenge.
"Hahaha, you have no idea how far our influence spreads, we're pretty good at covering things up; after all, Team Rocket does not exist anymore so how could we possibly be involved?" She said as she released a large purple Arbok from her pokeball.
The redhead began slowly advancing towards Dillan with a crazed look upon her face, her high heels echoing ominously throughout the area. The cobra pokemon slithered alongside its trainer, its brightly coloured chest was flexed as it flailed its forked tongue, ready for its next meal.
Suddenly in a flash of white, a Primeape appeared alongside Puzzle and Meena creating a wall between the two humans. "Get away from him!" Naoko cried as she and April ran towards the group, ready to fight. Surge remained completely motionless with his arms folded, as if he wasn't even involved in what was happening.
The redhead stopped her advance and slightly turned her head so she could see the two girls behind her. "Oh bodyguards, touching. Unfortunately for you two you're now defenceless - Arbok, Poison Fang!"
The cobra pokemon lunged towards April with incredible speed, its serpentine teeth coated in a deep purple poison. April had no time to even flinch; she was going to be bitten. That was until Slowking burst from his pokeball, appearing with his arms outstretched in front of his trainer.
"You will not hurt April!" He cried as the whites of his eyes transformed into a strong blue. The Arbok became engulfed in an aura of the same colour and stopped still in midair before being thrown into a row of empty cages by Slowking's psychic.
"What do you think you're doing?!" The redhead bellowed, infuriated. Her eyes met those of the Gym Leader, "Surge, do your job!" She cried, producing another pokeball and releasing a Vileplume.
He nodded and then smiled cockily, releasing a Raichu from a hidden pokeball. Raichu stood poised to attack anything that came near, its whip-like tail waving back and forth behind it.
For a brief second the cries of the caged pokemon were drowned out and noone said a single word. Tension filled the air until the silence was broken by the Captain issuing an order:
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Chapter 22 – What Lies Beneath (Part 3)
We emerged out of the hidden basement into the black of night. Freshly fallen leaves crunched under our feet and there was a distinct chill in the air, a sure sign that autumn was on its way.
Bebe helped me over to sit on a tree stump at the edge of the forest and then returned below without uttering a single word, instead offering a small strained smile that wasn't at all convincing. The area was peaceful; crickets sang their tune from within the grass and the ebb and flow of the tide was enough to put anyone at ease. The small community in which Celio and his friends had hidden themselves amongst was quaint, with small picturesque houses dotted about the island all facing toward the open ocean where a selection of small fishing boats were docked in a makeshift harbour, seemingly the local trade.
For a brief moment I'd forgotten the conversation I'd just had. Relics that can give humans power over the elements - Pokemon powers. Could it really be true? My dad being obsessed over what, to him, was no more than a myth... They'd have no reason to lie about it. But what would they want me to do - be a Gem hunter? Get revenge?
The trouble was I knew what Celio wanted me to do. I didn't know if I could bring myself to intentionally go back and be around those people... those murderers and act like nothing had happened. Pretend to be their hostage.
Hostages... The Rockets had already taken me, Bill and Lanette, but me... why me? For information? No, they didn't know who I was. I was nothing special, I had nothing of value and they hadn't even said a word to me since they locked me in the cupboard. The more I thought about it, the more confused I became.
I sighed deeply and laid back upon the stump, looking to the night sky for answers; nothing made sense.
A soft breeze blew through the treetops, the rustling the leaves looking as if they were reaching for the stars.
“Leaving?” Came a voice from above unexpectedly.
Startled, I pushed my body upright and looked around, studying the branches for signs of life... Nothing, but I did know who's mouth the words had come from.
"Crowe? ...Where are you?"
The air around the trees began to appear if it was rippling and then suddenly Crowe appeared, perched directly above me in the branches swinging one of his legs off of the edge.
"H-how did you do that?" I stammered as the ripple effects began again.
A Pokémon’s face appeared beside him, seemingly floating in midair.
"Shadow Sneak. I'm on guard duty remember?" Crowe replied.
I sighed and again laid back upon the hard wood of the tree stump, not bothering to respond to him. After the conversation I had forgotten all about the man I'd named Trench and the unfortunate circumstances in which we had to meet, but I had other things to think about.
"I forgive you, you know." Trench said smugly, tossing a pokeball up and down in his hand.
I paused before responding, wondering if I had heard the boy correctly. "You forgive me? What for?!" I cried, furious that he would even accuse me of doing anything to him.
"Your outburst earlier." He said, catching the pokeball and making eye contact with me. His piercing glare was off put by a raised eyebrow.
Again I paused. Was he trying to provoke a reaction out of me? I wasn't going to give him the satisfaction.
"Well then I guess that makes us even." I said, resting my head back upon the wood and shutting my eyes.
"Let's just say abuse for abduction, sounds about fair." I said supressing a small smile.
"I'm glad you see it my way - without me you wouldn't be here and you wouldn't have known what you do now."
"I wish I didn't." I sighed.
"But you do. The decision now is what you're going to do with the information." He said, turning his body to face me.
"I want to help - I do... but I don't think I'm strong enough, not for all this. You know what happened in Lavender, if I end up fighting the Rockets it'd be the same story all over again."
Trench turned his pokeball to the air behind him and withdrew the almost fully invisible Pokémon before leaping to the ground swiftly and smoothly, making it look as if he'd jumped from a small ledge instead of a treetop.
"Believe me, you and your Pokémon have a lot of strength in you, everyone does. You've just got to find the right way to use it. And anyway, I'll be there to protect you so you won't ever be alone as long as we stick together." He said, putting a comforting hand on my shoulder.
I smiled. The first proper smile of the past few days. "When did you become so nice?"
"I'm always nice." Trench replied, almost rigidly, lowering his tone of voice.
After sharing a small laugh he helped me back inside the "abandoned" bungalow's basement to where Celio, Bill and Bebe were all gathered around a large ceiling-height computer in the centre of the room; Celio was typing away on his laptop that seemed to be connected to it and Bebe was tinkering with the mammoth machine's insides. Bill, who was watching the computer screen over Celio's shoulder, was the first to spot us.
"Adam..." He said, grabbing Bebe and Celio's attention.
They all looked towards me, even Trench, as if they expected me to make some grand announcement. I couldn't tell what they were expecting me to say but the second Bebe saw me in front of her, her eyes lit up expectantly, full of hope. That seemed to be enough, knowing people would be behind me in this... whatever it was, was enough to give me the determination to do it.
"I want to help."
Small smiles spread across the faces of the others and the same glimmer of hope I saw in Bebe's eyes lit up in the eyes of the others.
"But," I began again. "I want April kept out of the loop. She can't know anything about this, the Rockets, our Dad - any of it. I want to keep her hidden."
Trench looked at me suspiciously.
"Understandable, we're already on it." Celio said, resuming his work on his laptop.
"What are you doing?" I asked, hobbling beside Trench to the other side of the laptop. A mess of numbers and code sped across the screen continuously; I had no idea what they meant.
Bill explained that they were transferring her videophone account which was linked to the trainer PC network over to someone else's so she couldn't be traced through it. "I suggested Alex. They seemed quite close when I met them and he is quite a capable trainer so it seemed like the logical choice, as long as it's okay with you of course."
I'd never really spent too much time with Alex but I seemed to trust him, perhaps a lot more that I should have. But Bill was right - Alex did seem like the logical choice.
I nodded in agreement and Celio finalized the change.
"All done down here!" Bebe cried from inside the machine.
"Now all the messages she had will head straight for Alex's account, she'll be untraceable for anyone else but us." Celio said sitting back on his chair.
An overwhelming sense of relief swept over me. It was one less thing I wouldn't have to worry about anymore, my sister was safe.
"But there's something else I have to ask." Celio continued with a serious look upon his face, turning his chair 180 to face me. "Do the Rockets know your name?"
"Erm... I'm not sure." I answered truthfully.
"Think Adam, this is important."
I was thinking. Proton and his goons hadn't spoken a word to me since I was put onto the boat so the only thing I had to go by was the night by the Rock Tunnel. I stumbled upon them, so they couldn't have known who I was, but Fuji was there - he knew my name! He did call out to me when I showed up but that was just my forename, they couldn't have known who I was.
"...What did they do to Mr. Fuji?" I asked.
"He's completely fine." Bebe said, brushing herself down. "He was knocked out for a while after your encounter but apart from that, nothing. They left him behind."
"Then your answer is no."
Celio ran his right hand through his hair. "Then we can stick to the plan."
"And what exactly is the plan?" I asked, wanting to know what I was getting myself into.
Celio gestured to Trench to start the explanation, where he told me that in order for everything to go smoothly, I had to pretend to still be a hostage whilst Trench stows away on board the Rockets' boat. "And together we need to find out any information we can; the extent of their knowledge, where they are heading and anything else that could be useful which I'll then relay back to these guys."
"And if they go after a Gem then you two need to stop them getting it. But for now, you need to lay low." Celio said solemnly.
I agreed. Laying low was easy; the hard part would come if we had to fight to get one of the Gems back. Although I was comforted by the fact that I would have Trench and his Pokemon around to protect me; they were a frightful force, I was just glad they were on my side.
"Adam, there's also something you should know... When we set to work trying to hide April's identity, it looked like someone had already done it. According to official records, you and your sister don't exist."
Again I had to do a double take of what had just been said. "What do you mean we don't exist?"
"There's no birth certificates or any official documentation in the national archives to say that either of you two exist. Looks like professor Moon wanted to keep you safe too. That's why, no matter what the Rockets do to you, you cannot tell them your real name. They will try to get any piece of information out of you that you can, and they won't stop until they do."
"Okay... But I have just one question," I began, "aren't the Gems useless without the Pearl? If no one knows where the catalyst is then aren't we safe?"
"We can't take the chance that they don't know where it is, which is where we come in. We'll hold down the search for the Pearl here while you two gather any information you can."
What Celio said made sense, if we idly stood by and let them gather the Gems and then one day found out that they had found the Pearl too, we wouldn’t be able to stop them. We discussed the details for another half hour before Trench decided that we should be leaving to get back before the Rockets did.
Before we left I said goodbye to everyone, who in turn wished me luck. Celio seemed distracted but Bill and Bebe seemed almost saddened at my departure.
“Are you sure about this? You know you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to…” She said softly, embracing me in a farewell hug.
“Yes, I want to do this… Not just because of my father, for him.” I smiled.
After a much less distressed trek through the woods than last time, we arrived back at the factory as the sun began to rise, followed by Trench’s two loyal Pokémon. We carefully peered over the cliff’s edge where we could see that the Rockets’ boat was still docked and that we were the first to arrive back.
With Trench’s help we went below deck to the room I was bound in only the day before. Crowe performed a quick tidy up of the mess he had made earlier searching for my pokeballs and then helped me assume the position I was in before in the small cupboard, no matter how uncomfortable it was. Trench then left the cupboard door ajar slightly and retreated to another corner of the room, releasing a Pokémon from its ball.
The Pokémon had white legs and lower body and a green upper body and head. Its forearms were shaped like scythes and a teal coloured plume stood atop its head.
“Gallade, Shadow Sneak.” Trench commanded.
His pokemon followed its orders as its forearms began to emanate a shadowy gas which it seemed to spread across its trainer and itself like a veil. Then, as the two stood still, the air around them seemed to ripple and they faded out of sight.
“Now… we wait.”
I awoke to the sound of a crazed man’s scream as he was thrown across the room, his body sliding across the wooden floors into a wall - It was Gideon, albeit very bruised.
“You said it would be there!” Proton yelled, striding into the room, readjusting his glove.
The hooded figure we’d seen at the factory earlier stood at the edge of the doorway, just barely visible, watching the events unfolding and this time not intervening. Proton knelt down and grabbed the scientist’s coat with his left hand and raised a fist in his right only to begin punching the quivering scientist’s already bruised face amid his screams of protest.
I looked to Trench’s corner of the room. He was still invisible, not moving, not helping the scientist who I suddenly felt sorry for. I wanted to help him myself but I knew I couldn’t, we had to let this play out.
“Wait – wait!” Gideon cried, gasping for breath through the blood in his mouth. Proton stopped his onslaught to **** an eyebrow at his victim expectantly.
“The lab, it may have been deserted… but Gideon… Gideon knows of another.”
Proton smiled and released the scientist from his grip. “We’re leaving!”
"Naoko!" Dilan cried, overjoyed to see a friendly face coming to his rescue.
The cobra pokemon quickly recovered from its impact into the cages and slithered back into the fray, leaving the broken remains of the metal prisons in its wake.
"Vileplume - Energy Ball now!" The redhead ordered, pointing toward Slowking and its trainer.
"Volt Tackle." Surge ordered, eerily calm.
Arbok, acting of its own accord, lunged at the trio of pokemon protecting Dillan who instinctively dispersed in different directions. Whilst Dillan and Primeape sidestepped the attack, Puzzle and Meena turned on their feet and ran in the opposite direction, only narrowly missing the serpent's bite. Aggravated, the snake hissed sharply and slithered onwards to gave chase to its new prey.
Meanwhile, Surge's Raichu was fast approaching upon an oblivious Primeape, its orange fur ablaze with electricity. Dillan felt a gust a of air blow past his leg and by the time he had realised what was happening, it was too late. The electric attack had connected sending Primeape skidding across the rough metal flooring of the cargo hold.
The large, heavy petals atop Vileplume's head covered its body in darkness, its small yellow eyes being the only things visible through it. Then, as ordered, the pokemon lowered its large head to the floor where its petals miraculously changed from a poisonous shade of deep red to a rich, healthy shade of green. Vileplume's stamen seemed to come to life as it began to gather large amounts of energy from other parts of the pokemon's body, forming a sphere of energy.
"Slowking - deflect it using confusion!" April cried as the green energy sphere was launched from Vileplume's head.
Slowking concentrated hard on the incoming attack, his pupils dilated as he reached his arms forward, encasing the energy ball in a blue aura. With one mighty swing of his arms to the left, the energy ball's trajectory veered into a collection of metal cages set in the same direction.
As the small could of dust settled, small brown and yellow pokemon began running free through the large hole the energy ball had created in their cages.
April smiled contently as the pokemon ran free from their cages, much to the redhead's disgust.
"Slowking, Zen Headbutt!"
"-Stun Spore!" The Rocket countered.
In the midst of the madness Naoko dodged past the attacks, closely followed by Lulu, running across the room to her friend's aid. The Raichu that had just tackled April's Primeape had turned to Dillan and was poised to launch a new attack, one Naoko recognised. Just as she was about to call out to her friend she felt something forcefully grab her arm so tightly that she was pulled backwards as she ran. Naoko stopped and looked at her arm, she was grabbed by a tall, broad man with bleach blonde hair wearing a clean white uniform - It was Captain Surge.
"And where do you think you're going?" He asked rhetorically, tightening his grip even further.
Naoko's heart was practically in her mouth, she wanted to cry out in pain but she had to warn her friend: "Dillan - hit the deck! It's using Iron Tail!" She yelled across the room just as Lulu fired a water gun from her mouth directly into the Gym Leader's face. Naoko took the opportunity to quickly knee Surge in between his legs, causing him to loosen his grip just enough for her to struggle free.
Dillan ducked to the floor as the poised Raichu leapt into the air and lashed out with its whip like tail, the small hardened lightning bolt-shaped tip powered through the air where his head had just been. Dillan was scared stiff, not knowing how he would defend himself until he noticed the remains of the cage Arbok had slammed into earlier. Reaching out, he grabbed a metal bar and rose to his feet, milliseconds after Raichu touched down onto the floor. The pokemon growled sharply and again turned to face Dillan ready to launch another attack when the steam ship employee swung the metal bar as hard as he could into the pokemon, knocking it out and across the room.
April watched the redhead's every move; each eye movement, each flexing finger, waiting for her to expose some sort of weakness.
Slowking slowly moved his head backwards trying to latch onto Vileplume's wavelength, but the opposing pokemon was quicker than him, shooting an orange haze of tiny spores from within its lowered petals into the air above April and her pokemon.
April covered her eyes; when they were re-opened she saw that the spores had latched themselves onto Slowking and he couldn't move.
The redhead laughed as April begged her pokemon to move, before turning her attention to the last of the pokemon escaping from their cages. "Vileplume baby, stop those pathetic Electrike with Razor Leaf!"
As the last of the Electrike escaped from the cage behind April, four large leaves began to fall from in between Vileplume's petals. April then realised she had no pokemon to stop the attack with; Slowking was paralyzed and Primeape was on the other side of the room. To her, there was only one thing to do.
Vileplume hoisted itself upright and performed a 360-degree spin, using momentum to release the razor sharp leaves into the air. The Electrike stopped, sensing an attack but didn't think fast enough to dodge it, then suddenly April appeared in front of it acting as a shield. The leaves tore through April's clothing with ease and sliced open the skin on her back in four distinct lines. April screamed out in pain and told the pokemon in front of her to run while it could.
Puzzle and Meena had been separated, Meena had climbed to the top of a set of cages behind April and was desperately searching for her partner, every so often letting out a small Spark attack against the Arbok that was snapping at the air around the structure trying to feed, but the attack of the minus pokemon was too weak without the positive charge of her partner.
Puzzle could see the fear in Meena's eyes from behind the cobra pokemon and needed to get to her to launch an attack but daren't climb up the cages because Arbok's speed was far greater than his. Then, seeing an opportunity, the Plusle jumped onto the serpent's tail and began climbing up its body, only stopping halfway to sink its teeth into the snake's skin.
Naoko thanked her Marill for her help as she ran but heard frantic cries of Meena from behind her. Dillan had taken care of himself and was helping the injured Primeape to its feet, so she turned on her heels to help her pokemon.
The redhead laughed coldly at April. "Oooh baby, you really care about these things don't you? What a strange little girl you are! Why protect something that would not do the same for you unless you told it to?"
April breathed deeply from the pain with a tremor in her voice. "I care... ab-bout protecting anything that you want to destroy."
"Oh? And what is that supposed to mean?" She asked, folding her arms, genuinely interested.
"You... you destroyed my home, you killed my parents! I... I'm not going to let you destroy anything again!"
"Hahahaha! So this is a little revenge mission? Well I'm sorry baby, whoever your parents were - they had it coming to them."
Arbok cried out in pain, hissing violently at its attacker. It began thrashing about violently trying to shake Puzzle off, very much aware that it would be in danger of biting itself if it tried to use its mouth to scare the pokemon off.
"'Whoever they were'?! They were my family; they had names, jobs, lives, and what? You don't care?"
"I don't remember. You'll have to be more specific I’m afraid." She said, smugly flicking back her deep red hair and, unaware to April, was keeping one eye on the events occurring behind her.
Naoko arrived on the scene and quickly withdrew Meena into the safety of her pokeball from atop the cages. She attempted to do the same to Puzzle but Arbok's movements were too fast for her to get a clear shot at her pokemon. Arbok became increasingly more violent and began throwing itself against the cages next to it attempting to crush or knock the pokemon off of its back.
Naoko lost sight of Puzzle.
The serpent stopped its onslaught and checked its body over for signs of where the pokemon went. Suddenly Puzzle's cry could be heard a few feet away as it struggled to get up after being thrown onto the cold floor. The cobra pokemon paused, looking at its prey. Slowly it turned its head to the side and began swaying its body back and forth, flexing its brightly coloured chest.
Then, as fast as lightning, the snake darted forwards flailing its tongue and bearing its fangs. Noako acted quickly and withdrew her Plusle without a second to spare, but the snake carried on going - Puzzle wasn't his target!
"Y-you don't remember? - You monster! How can you not remember killing someone?! Their names were Vir-"
Having been following everything happening around him, Slowking watched as Arbok charged towards his trainer. The pokemon suddenly regained control of his limbs, the effect of the spores having almost completely worn off and he moved himself between April and the path of the snake.
Arbok anticipated this and with one quick motion of his neck, slammed Slowking across his side, propelling him across the floor.
"April!" He cried out to his trainer who was cut off mid-sentence and saw just enough out of the corner of her eye to realize what was going to happen to her. Then, as if out of nowhere, a large wolf-like yellow and blue pokemon charged straight into the lunging cobra head-first with a Skull Bash attack.
Witnessing the event from behind, Naoko gasped. "That's a Manetric..."
The Manetric's piercing eyes looked deep into April's as if to tell her something. After a few seconds April responded. "You're that pokemon from before... the Electrike."
The redheaded Rocket snarled upon seeing her Arbok struggle to recover from the attack.
"Looks like I underestimated you but it's not something I plan to make a habit of." Surge said calmly, appearing beside the redhead as she began to issue an order to her Vileplume.
"Ariana. I'll take care of this." Surge said, stopping the redhead mid-sentence before throwing five pokeballs high into the air. Four Magnemite and one Magneton appeared hovering in midair around their trainer; cold spheres of metal with magnets set either side and a single eye set in the centre.
Manetric grunted and nodded to April. "You want me to get on?" She contemplated.
The opposing pokemon would surely beat her own and Naoko's water and electric types - it would be no use trying to fight. Manetric was her way out, but she would have accomplished nothing. She had learnt nothing. Only a name... the name of the vile woman who destroyed her home; Ariana. That had to be enough, for now anyway.
Surge watched as April climbed up onto Manetric and acted instantaneously. "Thunderbolt - all of you, don't let them get away!"
The Magnemite and Megneton gathered, their magnets shaking as they charged electricity for their attack which was aimed at the two girls.
"Naoko - get on!" April cried as she withdrew her pokemon from across the room.
"But -" She cried hesitantly, looking towards Dillan who had just helped Primeape to his feet only for him to be returned to his pokeball.
"We can't win - now come on!"
Naoko nodded sombrely and sat in front of April on the Manetric.
Dillan ran towards the girls but he realised in a heartbeat that he would not make it to them in time for them all to escape unharmed.
He stopped, about to do the bravest thing he had ever done.
"Dillan?! What are you doing?!" Naoko cried.
Not kidding herself as Naoko was, April realised what was happening and placed her arms either side of the dark-skinned girl and tugged on the Manetric's fur, telling it to go.
Accepting his fate, Dillan raised the pole in his hand high into the air to act as a conductor, before looking back to his best friend and smiling. Then, it happened. The pokemon unleashed a wave of electricity that blanketed the crew-boy from head to foot, electricity flowing to every end of his body and back again.
"DILAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!" Noako screamed as he was engulfed in a veil of smoke and Manetric ran up a set of stairs to the upper levels and out of sight. "Go back - go back!! He might still be alive!" She continued hysterically, struggling against April's grip. "-Let me go!!"
April didn't speak, instead concentrating on getting off of the wretched ship.
The group were speeding through the corridors of the ship, passing room after room, however, the Magnemite were in close pursuit. Spark attacks flew through the corridors, aiming for the girls but closely missed. The blue electricity making holes in the polished floors and ornate walls, singing plaster and exploding expensive sconces.
Every level they rose, the halls became more and more lavish but before they knew it they were on the uppermost deck and had nowhere to go. Manetric turned to face the Magnemite and backed away slowly to the edge of the ship as they began charging another series of thunderbolts. Suddenly a white cloud blew past the magnet pokemon followed by a pink haze which caused the Magnemite to all turn their attention to it as they fired their attacks, completely missing their targets. April recognised the cloud immediately - it was Alex's Swablu using attract.
"Blu - Swablu!" It cried flying over the edge of the deck to the harbour below.
April put her life in Swablu's hands and told Manetric to follow her. Not wasting any time, the pokemon ran towards the edge and howled up into the night sky as they took their leap of faith over the side of the ship to whatever was waiting below...
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Chapter 23 - The Spark of Life
The creature charged directly towards me, there was nothing I could've possibly done to avoid it. I turned around and clutched the egg in my arms tightly, doing what little I could to protect it when I heard Swablu's chirp overhead, flying straight past me.
The heavy steps of the creature were getting closer and closer and I savoured every breath until it ran to the side of me and an all too familiar voice shouted out into the night: "Stop!"
The creature came to an abrupt halt, its claws digging into the hard concrete paving as if it were mud. It was a large yellow and blue pokemon that resembled a wolf with a pyramid-shaped mane atop its head; riding on top of it were two people and a Marill.
"Alex?!" A girl cried incredulously.
"April?!" I replied in complete shock, seeing her atop the large pokemon alongside a girl who was clutching and crying hysterically into its large neck.
April had a look of terror painted across her face but I could tell she was trying not to to let it show. She hastily looked behind her and then back towards me. "-Get on!"
I looked back in the same direction she had just turned to and saw the enormous cruise ship with several pillars of smoke rising up from it. "April, what did you..-"
"-Alex get on!!"
I didn't need telling a third time. Whatever was happening, April was endangering herself by stopping to speak to me, so I clambered up onto the pokemon and sat behind her, placing one arm around the egg and the other around my friend.
"Hold on - Go Manetric - Go!" She cried, tugging on a tuft of the pokemon's fur. It began running at an incredible speed that felt far faster than any speed I had been in a car; turning sharp corners around the warehouses with ease, into the streets, through the groups of people that had gathered to see what had happened to the SS Anne and eventually out of the city limits itself.
Manetric continued to run through the countryside for hours. Unlike Swablu, who I had to withdraw into her pokeball, Manetric showed no signs of being even the slightest bit tired. April's expression was stone; her gaze barely faltering from the road ahead, despite her having three large cuts across her back. The girl in front had since stopped her hysterical crying. Although her dark-skinned face was still damp from the tears, she wept no more; instead resting her head of the pokemon's neck and running her hands through his soft, golden fur.
Neither girl responded when I asked them a question. Every so often April would look behind her, but she wasn't looking at me - she thought she was being followed.
Eventually we slowed to a stop. April dismounted and unrolled her sleeping bag, placing her shoulder bag on the floor next to it. "We should get some sleep while it's dark."
That night, April had nightmares.
Whilst she tossed and turned, the girl lay against Manetric, cuddling her Marill for comfort. She slept rather peacefully, probably from exhausting herself from crying so much. Whatever had happened to her, she had a few hours of peace in a world where real life didn't matter.
For some reason, I was the one who couldn't sleep. The egg I’d been clutching all evening felt colder than usual and the light pulsating from inside the translucent shell was definitely a lot dimmer. I couldn't help but feel like something was wrong.
I scanned the horizon trying to take my mind off of matters. It was a clear night, the stars shone brightly above us but there was no sign of the moon. In the distance, something even darker than the night sky seemed to be engulfing the stars one by one - It was the pillar of smoke from the SS Anne, still flowing upwards and showing no sign of stopping. Just what had gone on in that ship?
It was then I saw it out of the corner of my eye. April's bag... it moved. I'd thought I had heard a noise earlier but I told myself it was just the night playing tricks.
The bag shuffled again.
Curious, I climbed out of my sleeping bag, placing the egg in the covers and slowly snuck over to it. The bag was motionless. Was I imagining it? Was the night playing tricks? There was only one way to find out.
As I carefully picked up the bag, several water droplets fell from the lining - it was completely soaked through. I undrew the drawstring and peered inside where I saw fragments of an egg, the same egg I had held in my hands just moments ago, of all different shapes and sizes piled on top of one and another.
The egg... it was broken. Astonished, I looked back to where I'd been lying - the egg on my sleeping bag was still there!
For a moment I was completely confused, and then it had hit me; I was in a dream - I must've fallen asleep looking at the stars. It was the only explanation I could think of, but for a dream it seemed very real. I could feel the dampness of April's bag as I held it, I could hear each drop as it connected with the ground below, I could see the chill in the air as I exhaled and I could still smell the salty sea air on my clothes.
The bag shuffled from side to side. Instinctively I held it at arm’s length before slowly bringing it back towards me as the movement calmed down. Carefully, I peered into the bag. It looked exactly the same as it had moments ago, pieces of shell piled on top of one another, but something... something had changed but I couldn't put my finger on it. Then I realised, there was a faint glow still emanating from the pieces of shell, but it was refracted - whatever was producing the light was underneath the shell pieces.
Curious, I reached in to manoeuvre the pieces of shell when I was jolted with a sudden burst of electricity. I dropped the bag and stumbled backwards, feeling slightly numb and fell to the floor. After a few seconds, the feeling seemed to have returned to my hands and I realised that I'd landed on my sleeping bag, only to become very much aware that my hands were now covered in a slimy pink goop - I'd fallen on the other egg!
A feeling of guilt and horror came over me. I didn't know what to do, how to react. I sat still, motionless as the goop continued to flow out from where I was sitting. When the supply of goop seemed to have been exhausted, it hardened slightly and began moving of its own accord to a spot slightly to my right. The goop on my hands peeled itself off and slid across the ground toward the bigger collection of goop which then after a few seconds fused together to make... Ditto.
"Ditto?!" I cried in disbelief. "I... I could kill you!" I continued, lunging for my pokemon and hugging him as tightly as I could. I couldn't decide whether I was furious or overjoyed at the fact he was masquerading as my egg but whatever the outcome he was still getting a bear hug from me.
"But that means..." I mumbled, quickly realising that the broken egg in the bag was the real one. I scrambled over to the orange shoulder bag that had spread most of its contents over the ground nearby, looking for any sign of life.
Nothing. Then the warm amber glow began emanating from under the last few remaining pieces of shell inside the bag. I opened the bag wider and uncovered a small antenna with an amber teardrop shaped tip. Then slowly the largest piece of shell began to rise and another antenna appeared, identical to the last, before a small blue face came into view. It was small and round, no bigger than a football, with a small fin either side of it and strange yellow eyes that had black crosses for pupils.
Ditto looked at the newly hatched pokemon curiously, as if deciding whether or not to eat it, whilst I was completely enamoured by the new life in from of me.
"Chou?" It cried cutely, looking at the new world around it from under the safety of the shell pieces.
Having never seen the species before, I reached over to my own bag to find the pokedex.
"It's a Chinchou."
I span around and saw April still in her sleeping bag, lying on her side and looking at the newly hatched pokemon. "A boy by the looks of it. They live in colonies further out to sea, it's rare to see one around here..."
"Oh... thanks." I said nervously, unsure what to say to her. "Sorry, did I wake you?"
"What, you falling over and spilling everything out of my bag? No, I slept right through." She said sarcastically - her sense of humour clearly still intact.
"She did." I smiled, nodding my head in the direction of the of the girl who was still curled up next to the Manetric.
April simply sighed deeply in response and looked to the ground for a few short seconds before changing the subject. "Anyway, you need to pick Chinchou up - let him know you're his parent before he settles on someone else."
Hesitantly I reached for the small pokemon. He quickly crouched down and hid underneath his former shell but with one scooping motion, I held him in my arms. He was slightly wet and felt as fragile as a water balloon - I was afraid of hurting him. At first he scrambled and tried to escape my grip but with some help from April I began to rock him from side to side and he quickly became much more relaxed and snuggled itself up against me.
It had all happened so fast it still really hadn't hit me that I had a brand new pokemon in my arms. Chinchou had settled into a gentle sleep and was warm up against my chest. I could feel his small heartbeat beating slowly and I really didn't want to ever let him go.
"Now he's accepted you, all I think you've got to do is capture him." April said gently.
"Capture him? But he was in my egg all along."
"Yeah. But he wasn't born in a pokeball, silly." She chuckled.
April was right, I'd completely forgotten that simple fact. I reached for a pokeball from my belt and tapped his small head carefully, as not to wake him, and the pokemon was transformed into a small cloud of soft, red energy that disappeared inside. A light flashed briefly from the central button on the ball before settling on its natural colour - a sign of a successful capture.
"There we go..." April winced as she adjusted her position in the sleeping bag.
Withdrawing Ditto and clipping the pokeballs back onto my belt I walked over to her.
"It's your back isn't it? ...I saw it earlier." I asked, concerned.
"It's nothing." She said stubbornly as she rolled onto her side away from me, revealing patches of blood on her sleeping bag.
"April you're bleeding! - That is not okay, you need to get this seen to!" I said kneeling down, to take a closer look.
"I'm fine!" She cried, pushing me away.
I lost my balance and fell back onto the floor. We stared at each other for a few seconds, me mostly out of shock but her wide watery eyes told me what I needed to know. She was upset; too upset for words right now.
"Just... let me help."
April closed her eyes in attempt to compose herself, giving me a small nod in the process. I burrowed through my bag looking for the small makeshift first aid kit I'd picked up when I visited home and then placed my sleeping bag next to April's to have something to kneel on.
I asked her to sit up straight and I looked at the cuts - they were deep, I didn't really have any idea how to treat wounds like this. I had bandaged a few Mareep on the farm but never anything this bad, but whatever I could do would be better than nothing.
"So... are you going to tell me what happened?
"He just... stood there. And I went... I went without him, leaving him to die. Naoko kept hitting me, telling me to go back but the Magnemite chased us off of the ship, and that's when I saw you."
I couldn't believe what April was telling me. I remained silent, carefully placing the finishing touches on her bandages.
"And that was all for what? A name... A stupid name. Poor Dillan... Why does it keep happening Alex?" She asked, turning to face me, her eyes filled to the brim with tears.
"Why does what keep happening?"
"Death. People keep dying around me; Mum, Dad, Sandshrew, Dillan - when will it stop? ...I want it to stop!"
April collapsed into my lap sobbing uncontrollably. I'd been a fool for not realising how much everything in her life had affected her. So I did the only thing I could do; held her tightly and whispered some comforting words to her. I reassured her that none of those deaths were her fault and that she couldn't have done anything to save them.
We sat together for a good quarter of an hour as she cried out all of the pain inside of her and eventually she fell asleep, nestled in my arms. After a while I laid back onto our adjoined sleeping bags and entered the dream world with a new pokemon on my belt and an old friend in my arms.
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Chapter 24 - Misheard Whispers (Part 1)
The next morning I awoke with a warm sensation as the rising sun extended its reach over me. Within a few minutes April and Naoko had also woken up and were preparing to leave.
As April and I rolled our sleeping bags up, I could sense a weird vibe in the air - I caught her glancing over to me several times, and when my eyes met hers she quickly averted her gaze. I thought she may have felt awkward about our conversation last night, so I left it at that and didn't start a new one.
Having nothing to pack away herself, Naoko was already perched on top of Manetric feeding her Marill some poffins for breakfast.
"We never really had a chance to introduce ourselves." I began, as I climbed up onto the large wolf Pokémon. "You're Naoko right?"
Naoko tilted her head and gave me a once-over with her eyes before returning her attention back to feeding her mouse pokemon. "Yeah."
"So where are you heading? We could drop you off somewhere if you'd like; with family, friends?"
"My friends are my family - everyone I need is right here." She said, pointing to the lumps underneath her bandana, presumably her pokeballs. Her accent was thick and deep, but yet it was familiar. "There is someone I need to find but you can just drop me off in the next town and I'll find my own way from there."
"Are you sure? I mean we can help you find whoever you're looking for-"
"-I'm sure." She said bluntly, cutting me off mid-sentence with only two syllables.
"At least... come with us to the pokecentre to get checked over." I smiled, leaning into her line of sight.
She nodded gently with a small hint of appreciation as April took her place between us, ready to set off for our next destination... wherever it was going to be.
After a couple of hours, the skyline of another city began to appear on the horizon. Despite how early in the day it was, we passed by many Pokémon trainers and travellers on the dusty trail; some engaging in early battle practice whilst others sat enjoying their breakfast.
The suburbs of the city were what you'd expect - contemporary houses stitched together into picturesque streets, all living somewhat peacefully away from the madness of the inner city. April shivered as we passed by a set of picketed fences and then suddenly glanced over her right shoulder, as if a devil was sitting on it.
"W-what did you say?"
April questioned herself for a moment before dismissing it as nothing.
"Never mind - we'll be there soon."
Further in, the early morning the city streets were alive with movement, many different suits passed us by but the crowds didn't part or even take a second look at the people riding atop a Pokémon - instead we were made to push our way through as everyone else did. This urban jungle was home to a different type of beast, beast that didn't fear Pokémon or their trainers - the office worker.
Eventually we arrived at the safe haven of the Pokémon centre. Having dismounted Manetric, we made our way inside. I hadn't noticed the night before but in the morning light I could see that April was struggling to walk - the scratches across her back must have been affecting her alot more than I'd thought. Manetric could see her in pain and nudged her gently with his muzzle, hoping for her to use him as support. April ignored his plea at first but by the time she reached the door she had no choice but to take him up on his offer.
It was ten times the size of any centre I'd seen before, at at least 4 stories high it stretched back through the rows of office blocks as far as I could see. The entrance was fitting of a building this large. Two large staircases dominated either side of the backmost wall with the reception counter placed in the middle. Several corridors stretched off to the right and left, presumably all leading to the Trainers' bedrooms.
Despite its size, the reception hall was fairly quiet with two people sat at opposite ends of the room, one boy dressed in a grey tracksuit was crouched to the floor tying his shoelaces ready for a morning run with his Machop whilst a girl was stood in the centre of a circle of red sofas, brushing her hair next beside a television using her reflection on the glass wall as a mirror. Most of the trainers would have just been getting up for their breakfasts around that time so the Chanseys were nowhere to be seen, the only one manning the entrance was the city's Nurse Joy; a relatively young girl about my age who had her shimmering blue hair braided into two ponytails that hung down just past her shoulder blades.
As Naoko and I approached the counter, we looked back to April who was stood halfway across the room, facing the direction we'd just come from.
Concerned, I walked over to her and placed my hand gently on her shoulder. "April?"
She gasped and turned around, her expression setting to normal when she realised it was me who was standing in front of her.
"Are you okay?"
She looked back towards the entrance briefly. "I thought I heard... never mind."
"C'mon." I said, guiding her forward. "Let's go get you fixed up..."
She stared intently at her computer under the counter, the reflection in her stylish glasses showing she was busy reading through an online article of some kind.
"I'll be right with you..." She said, noticing our presence out of the corner of her eye, intent on finishing what she was reading.
Naoko and April placed their pokeballs on the counter.
"Please... we need you to heal our Pokémon." Naoko pleaded.
Joy silently chuckled before turning on her chair. "Doesn't everyone? ...Oh my god!" She gasped, rising to her feet and looking the two girls up and down. "Tim? Tim - Get out here!"
A young doctor dressed in scrubs, a few years older than Joy, came running out of a room behind the counter. "-What? What is it?"
Joy tilted her head in our direction and the doctor averted his gaze accordingly.
"And here was me thinking today was going to be a quiet one..."
In hindsight I must've looked very out of place standing next to the girls - them both with frizzy hair and small electric burns across their faces, April with a trio of large scratches across her back and then me standing at the counter with not a mark on me.
Whilst the girls were being checked over, I sat in reception with my newly hatched Chinchou and introduced him properly to Swablu and Ditto. After a few minutes, Swablu lost interest and perched herself on my head. Ditto however, quickly befriended him, taking the exact shape of the new Pokémon and copying his every move, keeping both of them suitably entertained.
The thing that played on my mind was what the girls had been through the night before. If what they had said was true then a gym leader had been illegally smuggling Pokémon into the region with the help of a supposedly extinct criminal organisation - this would be big news.
The incident in Cerulean was just put down to remnants of the organisation loyal to their missing leader taking matters into their own hands, but if there were more... this could be the start of a full-scale revival. I couldn't just sit on the information - I had to do something; so I called the police using my mobile.
Slowly I pressed 9 three times on the keypad and, as it began to ring, I began to realise that I had no idea what I was going to say.
"Nine-nine-nine, what is your emergency?" Came a voice from the other end of the line.
I contemplated my choice of words very carefully, trying to think of a sensible way to explain this somewhat mad situation when Naoko entered the room and slowly walked to the ring of sofas surround the TV.
"...Hello?" The voice asked.
"Sorry... Police please. I want to report a murder."
"What is your current location, sir?"
"The Pokémon centre... I'm not sure what city I'm in."
"Don't worry, we'll trace the call to your location - don't move, we'll be there as soon as possible."
I thanked the man and ended the call. Ditto and Chinchou were still happily playing with each other across the room, using their antennae to create shadow shapes on the wall, so I decided to go over and sit with Naoko.
She was sat clutching her necklace in her right hand and her head resting on her left which was perched on the back of the sofa.
"No injuries then?" I asked, sitting cross legged on the sofa next to her.
"Nothing. A few cuts and scrapes but that's it." She replied, her eyes fixed on the TV.
"That's good though, right?"
"Not for Dillan."
"Sorry... I didn't think."
"No you didn't. He was one of the nicest people I'd ever met and one of the only humans I could actually trust. And now... now he's gone."
"I lost someone too you know."
She turned her attention to me and looked me over, trying to decipher if I was telling the truth. "You have?"
"Yeah... and so has April. That woman you met - Ariana; she burnt down April's hometown and murdered her parents, so we know what you're going through."
Naoko sat upright, clasped her hands together and looked to the floor. She was trying to stop herself from trembling.
"I called the police, they'll be here soon and at least then -"
"-then what, everything will be sugar and rainbows? What good will that do? It won't bring him back - none of it will." She said gently as a single tear rolled down her soft, brown cheeks. "It's just not-" Naoko stopped mid-sentence as she raised her head.
"What? What is it?" I asked.
She tilted her head in the direction of the TV.
'If you've just joined us, this morning's breaking news is that there appears to have been a suspected terrorist attack famous steam ship - The Saint Anne. The SS Anne, as it is more commonly referred to, arrived into Dock 5 of Vermillion City Harbour early yesterday evening, where the passengers disembarked for the night. It then appeared that at some point during the night, a member of the crew discovered a set of stowaways on board who detonated an explosive device, killing the crew boy instantly.
Gym Leader and Captain of the SS Anne, Lieutenant Surge made this statement to the public this morning:'
The screen switched to a man with short, striking blonde hair stood atop a podium in front of a smoking ocean liner dressed in a white naval officer's uniform, dirtied with black smudges.
'Today, this world class ship played host to a tragic event. A member of the crew here, who shall remain nameless until the family have been properly informed, sadly fell victim to an attack by a set of terrorists. However, we now know that he saved the ship and the passengers on it from a much greater tragedy that we believe was planned. For this, I'm sure, the whole nation will give thanks and honour this tragic loss with the decency and respect that he deserves.
That is all I currently wish to say on the matter, thank you.'
The screen shifted back to the news anchor.
'The police aren't releasing much information at this time aside from this piece of CCTV footage that shows the perpetrators fleeing the scene of the crime on what appears to be a Pokémon.'
A dark and very grainy video played on screen, showing three consecutive frames of three shadows riding atop a large Pokémon across a dockyard - It was us!
'At the moment the identity of these three individuals is presumed to be unknown but the police have urged everyone to be on the lookout for any suspicious behaviour following last week's attack on Pokemon Tower and the incident at Cerulean Manor.
In other news, the new member of the Indigo Plateau’s Elite Four was announced today...'
At that moment I felt as if someone had ripped a hole in my stomach lining - I wanted to be physically sick but nothing would come. I - We were now being framed for a terrorist plot and a murder that we didn't commit - something that I wasn't even part of!
"No!" Naoko protested into the air, standing up and kicking the sofa in frustration. "How can they do that?!"
Suddenly my heart skipped a beat as I realised what a terrible mistake I'd made.
"We didn't kill Dillan, we didn-"
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Chapter 24 - Misheard Whispers (Part 2)
"So? We're innocent - they'll listen to our story and they'll believe us."
I slid my hands through my hair, contemplating how everything would look from an outside perspective. "You don't understand... I phoned to report a murder - Surge is saying that there was a murder on board, they've got us on CCTV and we've been here before..."
"What are you talking about?!"
"The incident at the Cerulean Manor that the reporter just mentioned - April and I were there."
"It was an undercover Team Rocket base; they were kidnapping people and stealing their Pokémon to try and get information out of them. April and I accidently found out and freed two people and the Pokémon they had captive. But the Rockets blew up the whole Manor and escaped in a helicopter before the police arrived - there was no evidence left to prove they were ever there.
I was unconscious but apparently they suspected us of stealing the Pokémon for a few days but thanks to the two people we rescued they had no evidence to actually hold us on. But if the police come now and find out that that" I pointed to the TV, "is us, then they'll put all this together for sure!"
Naoko's eyes shifted in different directions as she thought on what I had just told her. Her eyes settled as she reached a decision and she picked up her purple bag from the floor. "I'm out of here." She said with raised eyebrows as she headed for the door.
"Wait - you can't leave without us!" I cried, chasing her across the foyer.
"Why not? You saw how grainy that CCTV was - if I'm not with you then they'll never know it was me."
"You owe April." I said, grabbing the girl's arm to try and make her stop and listen.
Naoko turned to me, enraged. "My friend is dead - I don't owe her anything." She said, pushing my hand away from her using more force than she needed to, marching to the exit.
"She saved your life!" I bellowed as she walked out of the doors and out of our lives.
Just like that, she was gone. Disappearing into the ever-moving streets of human traffic.
To my left I noticed that Ditto and Chinchou had stopped playing and were staring at me, their eyes full of concern.
"Don't worry guys, everything's fine." I said before withdrawing them into their pokeballs, lying through my teeth.
As I began pacing up and down the room nervously, wondering what we could possibly do to escape the situation, a steady stream of people began emerging from their rooms. Which led me to the conclusion - we could just walk out.
I had phoned the police on my mobile - they didn't see my face so we could just act like we were any other trainers and they would be nonethewiser. The only problem was that they would start asking questions about the phone call which would make Joy and Tim point us out as the most likely suspects - we still had to leave.
The back of the Pokémon Centre looked alot more like a hospital than the reception, aside from the number of Chanseys that were strolling in and out of various rooms performing their rounds. The floors and walls all shone a marvellous white and the smell of disinfectant lingered in the air.
Walking down the corridor, I briefly glanced through the glass panes in each door trying and find the room April was being treated in. I stopped when I spotted Tim's spiky brown hair through a window pane crouching down next to a familiar brown-haired girl who was sat upright on a surgical bed.
Lifting my fist up to knock on the door I stopped myself and thought for a moment.
"Swablu?" I asked, holding my right arm out to the side of me in a rigid L shape.
The cotton bird uncurled herself from my head and gently flapped down onto my arm, creating a small breeze that wisped through my hair in the process. She stood to attention and tilted her little blue head inquisitively.
"I need you to keep watch at the entrance and come and find me as soon as you see any police arriving, okay?"
Swablu chirped in agreement and took off, gracefully flying back down the hallway.
I knocked at the door but didn't receive an invitation to enter. Tim glanced over to me and then said something to April before standing up and coming out of the room to greet me. Shutting the door behind him, he gestured me slightly to the right, out of view of the window.
"Your friend April-"
"-Is she okay?" I asked abruptly.
"She'll be fine, luckily the lacerations weren't as deep as they looked and the electric burns are only minor, so all she needs to do is to take it easy for a while and let her body heal. What concerns me is that neither April nor Naoko would explain to me just how they came upon these injuries. If it's a question of confidentiality then I can assure you, we are more than strict on our oaths. But if it's something else... then maybe you'd feel more comfortable talking to the police?"
My heart skipped a beat.
"No, no you don't need to do that... We just ran into a bad batch of Pokémon really, and April took the brunt of it. I think she's just a bit shaken up - I know I would be."
Tim raised his eyebrows and looked at me questioningly with his arms folded. "If you're sure?"
"Positive." I replied, relieved that he had believed the lie. "But she'll be okay?"
"Absolutely. Just... take it easy for a couple of days." He said with a smile, patting my arm and then continuing down the corridor.
Wasting no time, as soon as Tim disappeared around a corner, I took the opportunity to go inside the nearby room and saw that April was still sat upright on the surgical bed. She'd put on a new set of clothes and looked like her old self again, but was sat gazing out of the window to her right, not even acknowledging me entering the room.
"April?" I asked, slowly advancing towards her.
As I neared in closer I could see that the colour had drained from April's eyes; her irises had diluted into a plain white and she was staring blankly... at nothing. Stunned, I looked closely at her and waved my palm across her line of sight but still there was nothing - not even a single blink.
I crouched down in front of her and gently turned her head to face me. April blinked heavily and suddenly her ocean-blue irises were back again.
"...Alex?" She asked groggily, as if she had just woken up from a dream.
"April, listen to me..." I began, holding her hands which she immediately pulled away to cover her ears.
"Ah, the Voice! It's so loud!" April cried, shutting her eyes to try and block out whatever she was hearing.
"Voice? ...April there's no one here!"
"I can hear them... In my head..." She said, rocking herself back and forth where she sat - something was clearly going on inside of her head but unfortunately I wouldn't have time to figure out what as Swablu flew into the room through the gap in the doorframe chirping hysterically.
Realising what this meant, I thanked Swablu for her help and withdrew her into her pokeball before turning back to April.
"I'm sorry April, but we need to leave - now."
"Leave?" She asked, trying to concentrate on what I was saying. "Why?"
"I don't have time to explain; there's cctv and a murder, but basically - we need to hide from the police." I said, trying prise to open the room's only window. "Argh!" I cried out in frustration as I kicked the wall, knowing we couldn't force our way out. We had to sneak away unnoticed so as not to arouse suspicion but in the state April was in there was no way we could manage that.
All of a sudden a flash of white appeared from inside April's bag that lay open on the floor and Slowking appeared in front of us. Looking about the room as if to determine the source, he proclaimed; "I hear it too."
"Make it stop!" April cried, still clutching her head, rocking herself back and forth atop the bed.
"Sorry." He replied, seeming shocked that he hadn't done anything sooner. The regal Pokémon slowly raised his left arm to his forehead and shut his eyes to concentrate as a small deep blue aura began to encase him. He clearly began to struggle as his eyelids clenched tighter together and his arm began to tremble, but nonetheless he still stood his ground and kept trying until a white halo appeared above his trainer's head. The halo lowered itself until it began to absorb into April's forehead almost immediately spreading an expression of relief across her face.
I rushed to her side as she took a deep sigh, enjoying the calmness in her own head.
"Need to get away... hurry, it's strong." Slowking muttered, clutching his forehead.
"Away?" I asked, darting my head back and forth between the Pokémon and the human, feeling like there was something they both weren't telling me.
"From the Voice. But Alex, listen - it was-" April began, interrupted mid-sentence by a voice from down the hall.
"I think the people you're looking for are down here, but just to warn you the girl seems a bit shaken up." It was Joy. And she was leading the police straight to us!
Instinctively I grabbed April's hand and scooped Slowking up in the other arm whilst heading for the door. The corridor was alot busier than it had been a few minutes ago with Trainers walking up and down all eager to pick up their Pokémon to set off into the new day. Looking to my right I could see about 4 or 5 navy blue police caps advancing towards us from the back of the small crowd, so we took a sharp left turn out of the doorway. Making sure to walk at a relatively slow pace so we could blend in with the others, we continued down the corridor coming to a T junction with an operating theatre and prep rooms to the right and other, smaller rooms to the left. April quickly glanced behind us, before we made another left turn.
"Two of them are coming this way." She whispered across to me.
"We need a place to hide." I replied, trying not to let my panic show.
Each room was occupied by another person as we walked by - there was nowhere to hide! Panicking even more I turned around to find that April had disappeared too! Startled, I began to think she had been found by the police so I crept up to the corner and began to peer around it when I was suddenly pulled backwards into a dark, confined space.
It was a janitor's closet.
As I balanced myself I grabbed onto the nearest possible thing to steady myself, but that thing happened to be a woman's chest. "...April?" I whispered.
"That would be me." She replied.
"Oh... sorry." I said, feeling myself blushing in the darkness. Releasing my grip, I quickly backstepped away onto someone else's foot.
"Ow?" A familiar voice said rather sarcastically.
"Shh!!" The two girls hissed, followed by a sharp elbow to my stomach from Naoko.
She pointed to a small vent in the door where outside a young policeman walked past, not quite sure what he was scouting for but on the lookout for anything suspicious nonetheless. We all held our breath as he strolled full circle around this end of the pokecentre, until finally disappearing back around the corner. We all exhaled heavily, trying to regain our normal breathing patterns.
"Do you need to elbow me? I asked sharply, actually more annoyed at her leaving us earlier than the throbbing pain in my stomach.
"Yes. Otherwise you would've gotten us caught, and I wasn't about to let that happen."
"Ugh, why are there so many of them?"
"You phoned to report a murder. If you're prone to killing people then they're not exactly going to just send one officer down to come and collect you are they?"
"Quickly..." Slowking muttered, sounding more and more like he was losing his grip on keeping the Voice at bay.
"Hey, I only asked a question, you don't need to be -"
"-Would you two stop it? We need to figure out how we're going to get out of here!" She whispered sharply, cutting me off.
"Let us handle this." Naoko scoffed, releasing her Minun from her pokeball as she knelt to the floor. "Okay Meena, just how we practiced."
The cream and blue Minus pokemon nodded and shifted closer to the door. Her trainer opened it only a fraction of an inch, just enough for her pokemon to squeeze through and then shut it immediately after. For a few seconds there was silence, April and I looked at each other questioningly, each of us having no idea what we were waiting for. Naoko raised her index finger to signal for us to listen closely and within a few seconds there was a small series of knocks from outside, quick bursts followed by two slow pounds.
"It's clear." Naoko said, opening the door and walking out into the corridor without a second glance.
We chased after her into what was, in fact, an empty corridor where she was heading for a nearby fire-exit. Again she knelt to the floor and began fiddling with a small wire that lead away from the door and along the wall beside it. "April, can you keep watch on the corner?" She asked, not even looking up from her work.
April contemplated this for a moment before nodding. "Sure." She said, carefully sneaking along the clean white walls.
Meena now held up the wire for Naoko as she rummaged about under her bandana, pulling out a small pair of wire cutters and set to work on whatever she was doing.
"...What made you come back?" I asked, taking advantage of April not being within listening distance.
"You were right." She said, concentrating on the wire. "I do owe her... And I'm sorry for the way I acted."
"You came back." I smiled. "That's all that matters."
An echo of shoes running across the tiled floor reached our ears. "They know we're not in our rooms and we haven't checked out - we don't have long!" April cried.
I looked down to Naoko who was still fiddling with the wire. "Any chance you can hurry that up?" Accidentally sounding more impatient than worried.
Naoko twisted two cables together and stood back up, Meena at her side. "Done."
"So that switched off the fire alarm?" I assumed.
"Only one way to find out." She said, pushing the door lever downwards and opening it.
A smug look of satisfaction spread across her face as an almost blinding ray or morning sunshine poured through the opening; a look that was quickly wiped off as a doctor with short, spiky brown hair came out of a nearby room - it was Tim. He looked across to us strangely and contemplated what he should do next.
"-There's Tim, maybe he's seen them." Came the sound of Joy's voice from around the corner.
The doctor remained calm and collected and looked towards us, gesturing his head backwards to the fire exit. Naoko didn't need telling twice and hot-footed it out the door, grabbing April's arm as she went. I stood there for a further second, shocked at what this doctor was doing for us - potentially risking imprisonment for people he didn't know. Tim smiled at me and I silently mouthed 'thank you' before following the girls out the door.
Outside, I rushed down a small set of stone steps into a back alley lined with dumpsters, just in time to find April releasing Manetric from a pokeball.
"When did that happen?!" I exclaimed.
"Nevermind that now, let's just get out of here." Naoko said, climbing up onto the giant wolf Pokémon.
April and I followed her example and we set off through the backstreets. Slowking, still held in my arms, began to shake quite violently as he lost his hold on whatever was inside his head. April turned to try and help her Pokémon but instead became pale and emotionless as Slowking's mental barrier had faded, letting the Voice take over.
"April!" I cried, watching her irises fade to white.
Trying to snap her out of it as I did before, I placed my hand onto the soft skin of her cheek and gently called her name.
...But it didn't work.
Panicking, I tried speaking to her normally. "April, the Voice is back isn't it? ...What is it saying? Just let me hear."
For a few seconds she remained in the zombie-like state; motionless and cold. That was until she opened her mouth and spoke two words; two words in a voice that was strained and that did not belong to her.
Instagram & Tumblr: makoheart
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."
"Exhausted? You did 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?"
"-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? What 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.
"Thank you." 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 do 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."
"Slowking... What was that voice?"
"...I do not know."
Instagram & Tumblr: makoheart
Chapter 26 - Dinner
I woke up with a tightened chest, struggling for breath. Sitting upright the strain on my lungs became even more apparent as they begged for oxygen, their pathways blocked by some unknown piece of bodily goop. Going with what I was taught to do, I beat my chest with my fist as hard as I could in the hope that the blockage would be dislodged. The first time had no effect so I beat it again and again and again until finally, the blockage came up and I was able to spit it out and take a very deep breath.
Once I was able to breathe normally again, it took me a while to notice that I wasn't in the same place as I'd fallen asleep. Deceived by my own memory, I couldn't remember getting here. The last thing I remembered I was on the grassy hill, talking to Slowking, and now I'd woken up there.
Deciding to explore a bit to jog my memory back into place, I found myself walking in a dark and misty area, a place where the purple mist was thick and clouded my vision. My footsteps echoed as I tried to wade through the darkness, brushing the mist out of the way with my hands while although I couldn't actually feel it on my skin, I could sense it around me.
Looking downwards, all I could see was darkness, endless darkness. I jumped backwards, falling over out of fright; I was standing on nothing - walking on nothing. I carefully reached out my foot and swung it in a full 360 degree circle against the 'floor' and it was stable on all angles.
This was definitely not normal.
"H-hello?" I called out, looking for a friend, an answer, any form of life. "Guys!?"
I felt afraid, genuinely afraid and not able to understand or comprehend what was happening around me. My hands began to tremble as I rose to my feet with my legs feeling like jelly. Taking one step at a time, testing the ground before allowing all my weight onto the space between spaces that I was walking on, I endeavoured forwards.
After walking for a while my view still remained the same in all directions, almost as if I was smack bang in the middle of a desert - there was nothing there.
I stood still for a moment, trying to retrace my steps. It seemed like the most logical approach to the situation. I remembered playing with my Pokémon, Chinchou's Shock Wave, staring at the sky and speaking to Slowking but then all of a sudden I'm here. I couldn't remember going to sleep, or walking anywhere or anything; it was just blank, nothing there. Why could I not remember getting there?
As I stood there, I didn't notice that the mist began to slowly swirl around my feet. Then, out of the blue, a voice came from behind me.
I span around to see April, in her torn and tattered clothes from where she's taken a Razor Leaf attack, surrounded by mist, shrouded in the darkness.
"April! Oh am I glad to see you - Where are we?"
I looked closer and she was weeping with her head bowed, her cries echoing into the space around us.
"April? What's wrong?" I asked, attempting to approach her. As I walked nearer she seemed to drift away without moving, still keeping the exact same distance between us.
"It hurts... It hurts so much." She sniffed, not attempting to wipe away her tears. Instead letting them fall into the mist. "Why didn't you help? Why didn't you stop them?"
"I-I couldn't." I stammered. "I wasn't there, remember?"
"But you could've. Now I’m stuck... stuck like this."
"Like what, the scratch? It'll fade won't it? You won't even feel it soon." I said, trying to advance again only for the same thing to happen.
"But it hurts..." She whimpered, turning around to show her bandaged back, her head still lowered.
Confused, I couldn't work out what she wanted from me, or what was happening. She was making me feel guilty for something that I had no part in and I had no idea why.
April then whispered something, but it was too quiet for me to hear properly, so I asked her to repeat it.
"...Help me." She said quietly.
"I'm trying to but I can't-"
"-Help me." She said again, more sternly.
Suddenly her bandage began to stick to her back and then I worked out why as a red smudge appeared. The smudge spread, wider and wider, making the bandage thicker and thicker with blood.
"Help me...Help me... Help me." She repeated.
I stuck my arm out to try and reach her but I just couldn't.
She kept repeating those two words, faster and faster, not even stopping for breath until she suddenly froze.
The only thing I could hear was the sound of my own breath, intermittent and afraid.
With one solid motion, April raised her head and bent her neck to the left and then to the right, clicking it so loudly that it sounded like bones breaking, before centering it again.
Then in an incredibly deep, almost demonic voice she said the words, "Help...meeee." As she turned to face me, giving me the fright of my life.
Her pupils had turned white and the rest of her eyes were a blood red colour, veins and arteries pulsated around her face, bulging out of her skin. Her teeth had turned jagged and she was panting heavily, her hair frizzy and unkempt.
Scared for my own safety I turned to run away only to be met by someone standing directly in my path, surrounded by mist. I stepped back to find that the someone was someone I recognised.
"Adam?!" I cried in shock.
"Why didn't you protect her Alex?" He said angrily, advancing towards me.
I backed away, keeping an eye on the distance between that thing and me. "I couldn't! - I wasn't there!"
"And why weren't you there?!" He demanded to know.
"I-I dunno! I can't remember!"
"Then get remembering!!" He yelled.
"I can't!" I cried, buckling over my own feet and falling to the floor.
"Remember!!" He yelled again, brandishing his razor sharp teeth into my face as his became like April's.
Terrified I shut my eyes as tightly as I could, either in an effort to remember or an effort to pretend he wasn't there. I like to think it was the former. Suddenly I could feel the mist culminating around me, I didn't want to open my eyes but I had to as I was shot up into the air by a pillar of mist.
I screamed, not knowing how to control it as I flew up and away from the demonic siblings like I was on a magic carpet and landed in an even darker space where the mist was black instead of purple, leaving the landscape looking truly barren.
"...Hello?" I called out reluctantly. "Naoko?"
There was no one here, that was until I heard the sound of a twig snap from behind me. I turned around but couldn't see anything. But I couldn't have heard that - there aren't any trees in this place. Then the sound of a coin dropping onto concrete came from the right of me.
Then I could hear the sound of something rolling towards me, something big. I turned to face the noise, ready to face it and then, out of the darkness, a small, scaly round thing, no bigger than a football rolled out. It circled me before stopping in front of me, uncurling itself to reveal itself as Sandshrew.
I was stunned, not sure what to think. The Pokémon in front of me was an exact replica of the the Sandshrew I used to travel with. My Sandshrew. The one that...
The mist swirled in front of me, creating a familiar large mansion, exactly as it looked like on that night in Cerulean. Then figures began to form; a terrified Courtney, clutching onto Robin; a battered up version of Bill crouching next to them, holding his arm; Domino standing tall with her arms folded and a sadistic grin painted across her face and Petrel, with wide eyes and an open mouth, issuing an order in slow motion.
The last to form out of the dark was Sneasel, running towards us brandishing its razor-sharp claws, ready to make the kill. Realising that this must be a part of me remembering I somehow knew to cry out into the air, "Stop it - this is too early!" Not wanting to have to live through that part of my life ever again.
I was again shot upwards into the air on a column of mist just as the mansion exploded, the red light of the fire being drowned out by the darkness. Looking down from my position I could see my life, laid out like a movie, scrolling through different scenes to get to the one we wanted, everything that happened since we were in Cerulean.
Directly below us was the SS Anne with plumes of smoke coming from within. Recognising it I declared that we had gone too far and I suddenly felt like I was being pulled backwards by the collar of my shirt. Everything was happening in reverse, like someone had pressed the rewind switch.
Upon seeing the Pokémon centre I shouted, "There!" and the mist sent me crashing into the scene, rolling across the floor.
When I got up, the room began to form from the mist. I saw that I was in the exam room, the past me standing in front of a videophone.
"Someone's popular." I heard, walking to the videophone. "Who's it from this time?" Ivy asked through the phone.
"Unknown..." The past me answered, opening the message.
The image was grainy and the sound was muffled, it looked like an old video that someone had taped over. There was a woman with black hair wearing a red hair band across her forehead, dressed in a full-length kimono of the same colour.
The memory started flooding back to me of the video message; the message from a woman I didn't recognise saying April and Adam's names. It was the reason I ran to the dock to find her that night.
"I remember!" I shouted into the air. "I remember!"
Suddenly the Pokémon Centre dissipated into mist and it began to attach itself to me, covering me from head to toe until I could see anything at all. I felt like it had lifted me into the air and spun me from side to side before throwing me to the floor.
I hit the floor and suddenly felt free, sitting upright as fast as I could, finding myself back on the hillside, sweating and panting heavily.
It was still night and everyone else remained asleep. Rubbing my head I remembered what had just happened, figuring it must have been a dream... A very vivid dream - then I noticed.
Sat directly in front of me, shrouded by the night was a small gold Pokémon that looked like a bi-pedal fox. I'd never seen it before but I somehow recognised it immediately as an Abra.
"What do you want?" I asked.
The Pokémon had its eyes shut but I knew it could still see me. Abra held out it's 3-fingered hand and floating on it was a small sphere of light, no bigger than a pea. I looked at it, unsure of what the Pokémon wanted and then sat back down.
The ball began to levitate higher and then sped in my direction, hitting my forehead and absorbing into it before I had a chance to move. Then suddenly, I remembered:
The night before, Slowking and I were having a conversation and I was having trouble remembering something... something important. But the conversation diverted so I didn't mention it again. Then, about an hour or so later, Slowking sensed something nearby and called out for it to show itself; that was when Abra teleported from the forest. Slowking said that it had been watching me all night and knew that I had forgotten something and wanted to help. Abra could only help if I was to dream so it could rummage through my mind. I didn't trust this Pokémon and asked if Slowking could do it instead, but he explained that different psychic Pokémon can do different things and he couldn't do what Abra could, so I would have to decide to either take his offer, or leave it.
On Slowking's advice I decided to go ahead with it, so he temporarily took my memories of meeting him so I wouldn't realise that I was in a dream and wake up before I needed to.
"So I remembered all because of you?" I asked Abra, still sat in front of me.
The small psychic fox smiled and then teleported away.
"Wait!" I cried, but it was too late. "...Why did you help me?"
Well, whatever the case, it had worked. I remembered the message and would show April as soon as she woke up.
I laid back in an attempt to go to sleep but the dream had left me far too hot to drift off so easily so I decided to read up on Abra, the Pokémon that offered its help so willingly during the night. After reading through various pages I eventually ended up at a passage that was quite interesting:
'Using its psychic power is such a strain on its brain that it needs to sleep for 18 hours a day and so it has adapted a method of feeding that it can use, even when asleep; it feeds on the dreams of others.'
Great… So I was dinner.
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Not really how I wanted to get to Celadon or introduce Naoko's backstory but c'est la vie, hopefully this one is decent enough for a read.
Chapter 27 – Return To Sender
In the morning I woke from what was thankfully a dreamless sleep to find my face stuck to the screen of the pokedex. Figuring that I must've fallen asleep reading it I peeled it off and wiped away the bit of drool that I'd left on the side before getting up.
April was still asleep with Slowking sat next to her and Manetric curled round them both, keeping them safe, whereas Naoko wasn't in sight at all.
I looked around for her and eventually found her walking back up the hill from the direction of the forest carrying something.
"Hey, look what we found!" She said, reaching the top of the knoll carrying what I could now recognise as a pile of apples. "They were all just lying there under this one tree, lucky huh?"
"Yeah..." I said unenthusiastically. "Lucky."
Naoko placed her horde of apples on the ground shortly followed by Lulu, her Marill, walking around her trainer to add three of her own to the pile. Seeming quite contented by her efforts, Lulu began eating straight away, practically diving into the pile of fruit in front of her.
Not possibly able to eat everything ourselves we let our Pokémon out to join in, and for some of them that was the first time they'd met each other. Puzzle and Meena struck an almost instant liking to Chinchou who decided that it was more fun to play with the apples than eat them. Lulu played the part of a friendly missionary, bringing an apple to Swablu as good will gesture and Ditto, hypnotised by the prospect of more food, sat by the pile on his own before engulfing half of it in one massive bite.
Naoko stopped and stared midway through her bite into an apple at Ditto.
"Don't worry, he does that alot." I chuckled.
Naoko finished her bite before replying, asking a question. "That's a Ditto, right? Where did you find him?"
"My sister gave him to me, he was my first Pokémon." I smiled. "As for where she got him... No idea. Who was your first Pokémon?"
Naoko nodded her head towards the blue mouse Pokémon. "Lulu."
"How did you get her?"
Naoko sighed. "It's a long story."
"Not like we're going anywhere without April awake; if we ride Manetric anymore we'll stick out like a sore thumb."
"Fair point." She said, conceding. "I grew up in this old part of Fortree City in Hoenn - a city where everyone lives in houses in the treetops of the forest. Our area of town still followed the really old customs and beliefs and my parents were especially strict traditionalists. They believed that Pokémon were evil and out to kill everyone and everything they saw, so no one was allowed contact with them and no child was allowed to set foot on the ground, which they said was too dangerous, until they were deemed an adult; or in other words - Eighteen.
People from the other parts of town didn't like us so we were told not to go there without an adult. I never saw the point in it and used to sneak off into the main part of town with my friend but of course the other kids ignored us, knowing straight away what part of town we were from. So one day when I was twelve I decided I'd go to the ground, and I did.
While I was there I found this small secluded pond surrounded by a row of wild bushes and a girl, staring at something nestled in pond weed. I heard something coming so I quickly climbed a tree and the girl hid behind the trunk, but what appeared was just an Azumarill heading back to the pond. It didn't have fangs, didn't look menacing or out for my blood, it was just... there; a blue and white creature that looked harmless.
The first thing it did when coming back was to check in the pondweed at what I worked out to be an egg, her egg. I was fascinated by this so every day for the next week I came back to watch this Pokémon and her egg, and every time the girl was there too. Her name was Lanette and she lived in a nearby village on the ground. On the last day of that week I tried to convince my friend from Fortree to come down with me to meet Lanette but she didn't want to. She said it was okay when we went into the city but going to the ground was too much, so I went without her.
That day... the Azumarill didn't come back. Lanette and I waited all through the night but the Pokémon had just disappeared. Lanette didn't think she'd be able to take care of it so I decided to take the egg home secretly to keep it safe.
When I got there I tried to hide it from everyone but my so-called 'friend' told on me which made my parents search the house. When they found the egg they were disgusted with me and long story short, they exiled me."
"Exiled?!" I cried, almost chocking on my food.
"Yup." She said, taking another bite from her apple.
"But you were twelve!"
"That didn't matter to them. I broke their traditions so I had to go."
"So what did you do? I mean... where did you go?"
"I travelled with Lanette for a while..." She said, laying back on the grass. "We had no money so we ate mostly wild fruit and veg and worked wherever we could to get by. It sounds worse than it was but, to be honest I think it was the best thing that could've happened to m-."
Noako was interrupted by a bark from Manetric. We looked over to see that April had sat up holding her head. She looked like she had a hangover as she squinted through the morning sunshine, looking around her.
"Where... are we?" She asked groggily.
"Just outside the city, you blanked out again as soon as we got onto Manetric." I said.
April looked around her again, eventually settling her eyes on Slowking. "Has it gone... for sure this time?"
Slowking shut his eyes as if he was listening out for something and then opened them again, nodding his head. "Yes, we're too far now."
April barely had time to breathe a sigh of relief before we bombarded her with questions about what she heard. The only problem was that she couldn't answer us... not properly anyway.
"It was just so jumbled and so, so loud. It was like one voice saying a million different things at once and I could barely make out anything it was saying. All it was was a jumble of words like 'follow' and 'ghost' and 's-"
"- 'help me?' Naoko interrupted.
April paused. "Yeah... How did you know that?"
"You said it when you were under." I said, leaving out the small detail that she had said it in another person's voice. "You scared me you know."
"Haha, sorry..." April said, blushing.
"And you think he's joking!" Naoko retorted.
"Naokoooo..." I whined under my breath, also beginning to blush. "But are you okay though?"
"Yeah I think so... See?" She said, managing to stand up quite firmly on her own.
I smiled, feeling relieved. "Good, then there's something you need to see."
After everyone had finished eating we set off for the nearby city and to our shock we arrived quicker than anticipated. Trying to stay away from a place where we could accidently draw too much public attention to ourselves, we stuck to the suburbs in hope of finding a public videophone, but we had no such luck.
The only things we could find were payphones and they didn't have monitors. Public videophones were free to trainers but the trouble was that they were few and far between, mostly in the town centres and Pokémon Centres.
"We can't go there - someone might recognise us." April protested, the three of us crowded around a phone booth.
"It'll be alright, that footage was way too grainy for anyone to recognise us." I began. "And the main thing people would be looking for anyway is three people riding on a great big Pokémon that vaguely looks like Manetric. The only other thing I suppose they could possibly notice would be Naoko's bandana..." I paused, looking at her suggestively.
"What? No way - The bandana stays on." She said adamantly.
"Really, who wears a bandana in this day and age anyway? You'll stick out like a sore thumb."
"Hey!" Naoko protested.
"...Doesn't your mum wear a bandana?" April remarked with an accusative look on her face.
"-Shut up." I countered, realising she was right. Sighing, I agreed to Naoko's argument. "Fine, as long as we don't ride around on Manetric all the time we shouldn't get noticed."
"Still, that being said, why is this video so important?" Naoko asked, flicking through the phone book aimlessly.
"Because it's just... it wasn't meant for me, I think it was meant for April. The woman on the screen looked really worried and she said both Adam and April's names, that has to mean something right?"
"She knew me?"
"And Adam too. At least, that's what it sounded like..."
April thought on it for a few moments, completely unaware that I'd carried on speaking.
"...I could've been wrong but I couldn't help the feeling th-"
"-This woman, what did she look like?" April asked firmly, interrupting me mid-sentence.
"Erm..." I mumbled, racking my brain to try and remember. "I dunno, black hair maybe? Pale face, it was kind of hard to make out."
Something I said struck a nerve with her. "I want to see it."
I looked at her in shock.
"You changed your tune." Naoko remarked, closing the phone book.
"I've got a feeling that I know who it is but I need to see it to be sure." April said, walking out of the booth. "Videophones are in the town centre right?"
Naoko nodded and without hesitation April began marching further into the city. Naoko and I looked at each other before running after her.
It was evening before we got to the city centre. April walked confidently for someone who was worried about getting sighted by everyone around her; something was definitely on her mind and I had a feeling it wasn't the fact that there was a distorted message on my videophone account addressed to her, but the person who the message was from.
The city centre was full of shops that were shutting for the day but also alot that were getting ready to open. You could tell that this was the kind of place that never slept, with every other building having a giant advertisement or light-up club logo atop it.
We followed the road signs for a public park, and eventually ended up at a small patch of grass no larger than a zebra crossing.
"They call this a park?" I said, turning my nose up at the bench placed on top of a small patch of grass in front of us.
"Nevermind that; look - a videophone." April pointed out.
I logged on to my account and to my surprise I had more than a few messages from Ivy, she must have been worried. After all, the last time we spoke I disappeared after receiving a weird message on here and hadn't contacted her since. Deciding I'd look at them later I scrolled down the screen and found the mysterious message.
"From 'Unknown'; that's the one." I said, touching the screen to open the message.
The grainy image of the black-haired woman appeared. I could tell by April's expression that she had recognised her immediately. The woman, wearing a red kimono, was obviously quite distressed but the sound quality was terrible so only a few words were actually coherent.
"April.... I need.... help.
Please! Come... bad feeling..."
The screen faded to black as 'End of message' appeared, written in white.
I turned to see what she made of it and April stood still staring at the screen, chewing on her bottom lip, thinking.
"Was that who I think it was?" Naoko asked.
"Yeah." April replied.
"Do you two both know her?" I asked, dumbfounded.
"You're kidding right, you seriously don't recognise that face?" Naoko asked.
I shook my head.
"That's Erika, one of Kanto's Gym Leaders. How do you not know this - aren't you taking on the gym challenge?"
"Well yeah but..." I said coyly, feeling like a rookie all over again.
"-What city are we in?" April asked suddenly, looking to both of us for an answer.
I actually didn't know, we'd been moving around so quickly that I hadn't kept track of the city names we'd been through.
"I'm pretty sure this is Celadon actually." Naoko piped up.
"So that means...?"
"Mhmm. She's here somewhere."
The girls turned around to scan the immediate area. Not sure exactly what the girls were looking for I too had a look around, presumably looking for something resembling a Gym. Then I noticed, right next to the videophone was another signpost that pointed to my immediate right:
'Celadon Public Park --->'
I chuckled a little and turned to tell the others.
"Hey guys, I found the real park." I said, pointing to the signpost.
April looked in the direction the sign pointed and squinted to try and make out a building in the distance.
"That's it... that's the gym!"
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Greetings kids! Uni has destroyed my online social life (which is ironic considering I'm on it about 80% of the time anyway) but I'm determined to finish this fic, so here's the next part of the story, sorry to anyone who had been following this before
Chapter 28 - Reverberations (Part 1)
The Gym looked different to when I last saw it. It used to be a solid glass dome with a top shaped like a Vileplume's petals but now the right side looked completely different. Two large flowers were the focal point of the roof but then very long yellow and green glass leaves hung down the sides to make a wall, making the building look like a Bellossom. It was really pretty but at that time it wasn't the main thing I had to be thinking about.
After blacking out and having a strange voice yell a million different things at me and then finding out that we're on the run from the police when I woke up, a strange message on the PC should have been nothing. The only thing was that it wasn't just from anyone, it was from Erika. Normally I'd ignore it but she would only send a message to me if she had noone else to turn to, which meant she couldn't turn to Adam - so that worried me.
I headed towards the Vileplume-shaped half of the building, expecting the automatic doors to open in front of me but they were locked shut. Looking through them I could see the receptionist sat behind a desk in the foyer just casually filing her nails.
"Excuse me!" I said, knocking on the glass. "Can you open the door?"
The snobby looking woman paused and glanced over her glasses at me before carrying on with her nails.
"Visiting hours are over, if you want to make an appointment to see the gym leader come back tomorrow."
"You don't get it - she'll want to see me!" I responded, perfectly politely.
"Come back tomorrow..." She repeated, sighing.
"Hey - Listen, just tell her April Moon is here! You got that? April... Mooooon."
"Whatever." The receptionist mumbled, getting up and heading for the toilets.
"Hey!" I yelled, banging on the door. "Where are you going?!"
I kept banging on the door, hoping for a response from someone who was actually helpful, but noone came.
"-April, what are you doing?!" Alex panted from behind me, him and Noako finally catching up.
"Argh," I cried in frustration, kicking the door and turning away from it. "The stupid receptionist won't let me in."
"Well you don't need to beat the place down!"
"I know..." I sighed, sitting down on a step. Alex had never seen me like this before. Heck, I hadn't even seen me this wound up in a while, but I could tell he wanted to help. He even asked Naoko if she could pick the lock but didn't realise that it was an automatic door standing between us and the Gym Leader.
A few minutes later, I heard footsteps running towards the doors and turned around to see Erika unlocking them from the control box inside, the receptionist eventually appearing behind her. The doors opened and she leapt out towards me, wrapping her arms around me in a hug. It felt genuine enough and in a way I wanted to hug her back, but after the last conversation we'd had I couldn't believe anything she did without questioning it.
"April, thank God you're alright." She whispered in my ear, releasing me from the hug.
"I got your message, what's happened?" I asked, straight to the point.
Erika looked around cautiously. "Come inside, we'll talk there." She said, herding the three of us in like cattle before locking the doors behind us.
"Don't you want to say hi?" I heard Alex ask Naoko as they made their way in.
"I said I knew of her, not that I knew her personally." Naoko replied, looking around the foyer.
"Well sooooorry." Alex responded sarcastically.
The entrance was like an office reception rather than a gym, except it was covered in plants of different shapes and sizes. It'd always been like that, the gym was used for loads of things other than battles. Erika led us down a corridor to the left in silence and we went past a large archway into the new part of the building that I'd never seen before.
It was a large, open space, the walls and ceilings made completely of reinforced glass. The floor was a stretch of grass, with flowerbeds and hedges dotted elegantly about the area with a fountain centred in the middle.
"What's this room for?" Noako asked, stopping to look inside.
Erika looked back and explained that there had been a fire a few years ago that had completely decimated half of the building, so she commissioned a new half to be built.
"In a way it’s more of a recreation area. It's been named the Celadon Public Park actually."
"I told you the park was this way!" Alex declared.
"What, do you want a medal?" Naoko asked, not impressed by Alex's ability to follow a signpost.
Alex glared at Naoko as Erika lead us further down the hall into a room where the ceiling was littered with hanging baskets of different shapes and colours and the floor had an abundance of beanbags and comfy chairs.
"This is where I come to relax sometimes... it helps me to-"
"Why did you call me Erika?"
"...I thought you said you got my message?"
"Well I did but it was all grainy and distorted."
"Erm... about that." Alex piped up from behind me, already sat comfortably in a pile of beanbags. "Why did you send it to my account? I mean... We've never met, have we?"
Erika looked confused. "I-I didn't. I sent it straight to you April."
"But it was in my inbox."
"That's impossible... What's your name?"
"Alexander Ivy - Alex for short."
"Alex... Adam mentioned you were travelling with someone called that." Erika said, turning to me.
"Wait a minute, I heard you say Adam's name in the message. Is he here?"
"He was, that's what I wanted to talk to you about. I'd hoped he could've been with you but I guess not."
"What do you mean?"
"Who's this Adam kid?" Naoko asked, completely in the dark about everything that we were talking about.
"I'll fill you in later." Alex replied, hushing her.
"Look." Erika said, brushing aside some vines to reveal a videophone. "He used to send me a message every couple of days to tell me how he was doing and what was happening with him." She said, scrolling down the screen, showing us the list of mail she'd gotten from my brother. "But then suddenly they just stopped coming - It's been over two weeks since i've even heard from him. I'm just so worried but I figured if anyone else would know where he is then it would be you."
"We haven't spoken much since we separated, just like you said we would. Did he mention anything before like where he was going or..."
"Nothing." She replied, not taking note of my comment. "But I know for a fact that he was in Lavender on the day of that attack on the Tower. ...He wasn't on the list of the dead so-"
"Dead?!" I cried. "You can't be serious!" I exclaimed in an automatic response. I didn't want to even entertain the thought, my stomach feeling like it had been twisted by the mere mention of it.
"Trust me, I've gone over every explanation in my head and it's either that or..."
"Or... he's not being allowed to make any calls."
She'd called me here to tell me that my brother could be being held captive or even worse - dead; without any full-proof evidence! I couldn't understand her logic - did she want my help? The last time we spoke she called me a useless burden, there's no way I'd be her first port of call when she needed somebody.
"Have you told the police?" I asked, not believing her.
"I did and it turns out Mr Fuji has already filed a missing persons for someone with his name and matching description, but apparently there's no way to trace him."
Alex and I looked at each other and recognised the name immediately.
"The Mr. Fuji from Lavender?" he asked.
Erkia nodded. I was confused, he never mentioned Adam the whole time we were there, but then again, how could he possibly know that we were related?
"April, remember his speech outside the Tower?" Alex asked.
"Kind of..." I replied, only remembering small segments of it.
"He said something about a 'young man' that tried to stop the terrorists. You reckon that could that have been him?"
"That does sound like something he'd do without thinking about it." Erika replied with a slight smirk.
"You're both insane! How would Adam even get caught up in that in the first place?"
Erika didn't have an answer, instead looking away when I challenged her with a glance. The room went quiet for a few moments before Alex spoke up.
"Is it really that insane? I mean, look at the stuff we've got caught up in... If it can happen to us then it can happen to him too right?"
As much as I hated to admit it, he had a point. That was the moment it suddenly became real - Adam could be in danger, real danger and there was nothing I could do about it. We didn't know where he was, what he was doing or any of it, we were completely in the dark.
"So saying all this is true, why can't the police trace him?"
"They get hundreds of calls about missing people every day, many of them being travelling trainers, but the trouble is they're never as willing to track down pokemon trainers as they are other people. They can go travelling for months at a time, never contacting anyone and not using their videophone or PC accounts, turn up one day to a gym and gain a badge and then suddenly there's a record of them again. As far as police are concerned, it's a waste of their time that they could be using on other cases." Erika explained, sitting down on a beanbag clutching her forehead..
"Well, how do you know he hasn't just done that?" Alex piped up again.
We both dismissed that idea straight away. Even though Adam can be a loner sometimes, he's always in contact with at least one of us.
"I think you're all forgetting the obvious question here - the terrorists, who were they?" Naoko asked, speaking up for the first time in the conversation.
Everyone looked at Erika but she didn't look any one of us in the eye. As she clearly debated what to say in her head, an eerie silence filled the room.
"I'm so sorry April but I'm sure it's the same people that were behind all the other 'terrorist attacks' around here lately..."
I could feel what was coming in my gut and I didn't want to hear it but I had to make sure I wasn't jumping to conclusions.
Them again - Why did they keep showing up in my life?! Every time they appear, someone new manages to get themselves murdered; and this time it could be Adam. He was the only piece of family I had left; if he died I don't know what I would do... My hands began to tremble slightly at the thought but I couldn't cry, I wouldn't cry - not in front of Erika.
Determined not to show any kind of weakness I kept back the fear welling up inside of me, but still I found myself wanting some fresh air to clear my head - It was a lot to process.
“Wait, are you talking about those arseholes from the SS Anne?” Naoko asked, looking to Alex for answers.
“-What? You three were involved in that?” Erika asked, slightly bemused.
“I suppose we should tell you something…” Alex began, reeling out the details of the past week. Everyone else was so engaged in the situation that I was able to slip out of the room unnoticed.
As I walked through the gym, I found myself being drawn to the Public Park.
It was peaceful there, no sounds or smells of the city, just nature in a little bubble. Breathing in what seemed like fresh air, I sat down next to a small stream of water and, in that serene environment, I felt like I could finally hear myself think.
Except, it wasn’t myself I could hear – It was that Voice. The Voice I heard shouting and screaming in my head not too long ago, except now, it was as though I could finally hear what it was saying.
Even though The Voice wasn't in my head anymore, the words still echoed around me, remembering them all gradually one by one. Some of them didn't even make sense to me but I couldn't shake the feeling that they, along with the Rockets, Cerulean, the SS Anne - it was all somehow connected. It's just I didn't know how... until I remembered another word. A word that gave me both a sensation of fear and hope:
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Chapter 28 - Reverberations (Part 2)
I couldn’t describe what I was feeling; anxiety, fear, hope, confusion – all bowled into one.
Not knowing what to make of it, I consulted the only other person who could help me; Slowking. After releasing him from his pokeball he looked up at me questioningly, before sitting on the grass and folding his arms, simply saying; “Out with it.”
“’Ghost.’ ‘Follow.’ ‘Voice.’ ‘Help.’ ‘Me.’ ‘Silph.’ ‘Adam.’ – That’s what that voice was calling out. It’s Adam, right? It’s got to be!”
Slowking scratched the shell upon his head as he contemplated the situation. “I’ve heard those very words before when I held the Voice back from you in Saffron City. However, I do not believe the message was sent by your brother.”
“-Really, why not?”
“Think about it.” Slowking said, rising to his feet. “Why would he refer to himself in the third person? It just doesn’t make sense.”
“Couldn’t he want me to know that it was him sending the message?” I asked as Slowing bent down to take a sip of the indoor stream.
“Telepathy isn’t like sending a letter.” Slowking replied bluntly. “There’s no addressee, no postmark – It’s a gamble at the best of times that it’ll even get through to someone... But that isn’t to say that the person who did send it is not somehow involved with him which probably means-“
“-He is alive!"
I didn't really care about the fact that he could be in danger or whatever, he was definitely alive – I just knew it.
“So is that all we have to do, just follow the Voice and we’ll find Adam?”
“That seems to be the case but that in itself presents an issue. It would seem that the closer in proximity that we get to the origin of the Voice, the more it begins to take over you. We need to find a way so that you can stay in your conscious state long enough so that we can locate the precise place where it originates so we can put a stop to it.”
All of a sudden I was hit by a brainwave. “What if… we shared the Voice? Is that possible?”
“How do you mean?”
I scrambled to my feet and began to pace back and forth. “As in remember when you were able to completely take the Voice from my head and into yours at the hospital? Could we maybe split it and have half each? That way neither of us takes the full brunt of it and can stay conscious.”
“That may just work!”
“Tehe.” I giggled in satisfaction. “I have a brain somewhere in here!”
All of a sudden we could hear the sound of Erika calling out my name echoing down the halls. Annoyed at the mere sound of her voice I sighed and thanked Slowking, withdrawing him into his pokeball and headed for the corridor where Erika appeared in front of me, blocking my way.
“I thought I’d find you here” Erika smiled. “I guess I know you too well.” She chuckled half-heartedly.
“You don’t know me that well anymore.” I snapped, tired, irritable and not in the mood to act all pally-pally with her like she was.
“April, wait!” Erika cried from behind me.
I stopped dead in my tracks. Suddenly memories flashed through my head, memories of all the years the two of us had known each other. The days we spent playing, laughing and the nights they stayed up talking when Adam wasn’t around. Then there was that night…
It was an evening almost exactly like this one, the sky was clear; empty except for a sprinkling of stars and a crescent moon dangling in the night as if it were hung up by a piece of invisible thread.
The heating was busted in the research dorms so everyone was wrapped up in their thermals and knitwear. Well, I say 'everyone', but it was only Erika and me - the researchers were off on some study or another. She'd come to visit about a week before and had spent more time with me than Adam, which, although we got on so well, seemed odd.
We were both sat on the cushioned ledge of a large bay window where Erika was sat comfortably behind me, braiding my hair.
"I'm just thinking... maybe you shouldn't go." Erika proposed.
"...What do you mean?" I asked, confused at Erika's sudden change of heart.
"Well the Professor could always use the help here couldn't she?"
"She has other assistants, I'm just not sure that I want to leave."
"But if you're having doubts then maybe that's a sign?"
"A sign of what?"
Erika sighed. "A sign that you're just not cut out for it."
"Hey, I could take care of myself." I replied, laughing the comment off.
"Except for when a wild pokemon comes out of nowhere, what then?"
"I don't know..."
"You'll call to Adam for help but what if he's not nearby? You won't be able to do anything."
"Well... he's the pokemon trainer, not me." I said, pulling away and turning to face her. "Why are you being like this?"
"I'm not being like anything,” she said so blasé. “I'm just saying - you'll be a danger to yourself and to him. Besides, you'll only slow him down."
"Hey, that's not fair! I can keep up."
"Really? I've seen when you two trek up the mountain together on your little research trips, he's always waiting for you to catch up. Face it April, you'll just be a burden, a useless burden. It'll be better for everyone if you just stay here."
"Stop it Erika!" I yelled, welling up with tears.
"I'm only telling you the truth. Besides, don't you think that it's better that you hear it from me now than from him when you're halfway across the region on your own?"
"You're wrong, Adam would never say something like that."
"Not now maybe, he'd keep it all in his head. But if you keep going like this, believe me - one day he'll snap and it'll sound a hundred percent worse coming from him."
“Now that we’re alone, let me help.” She said walking up to me and taking my hand. “Why didn’t you tell me anything that you’d been through? You know I could’ve helped you.”
“What, help like you did last time?” I said sarcastically, pulling my hand away. “It’s because of you that me and Adam stopped travelling together, It’s because of you that he’s where he is now.”
“That’s not-“ Erika began before I cut her off, not even being close to finishing what I had to say.
“-You made me feel like I had something to prove, that I wasn’t good enough to do what Adam was doing. That’s why I tried to show him that I could cope on my own when I told him to meet me ahead at Cerulean City when we first went to Pewter. Then oh, guess what – I got hurt, exactly like you said I would and we ended up going separate ways.”
“April I didn’t know what else-“
“-But the only thing I want to know is why you said all of that? We were friends and you just turned on me like that – why?” I asked, finally putting forward the question that I’d spent so long looking for an answer to.
“…I was trying to protect you.”
“The world. I thought that if you stayed working for the Professor then you’d be safe, and that was the only way I could see to do it. I didn’t want to see you get hurt but now I know that was the worst thing I could’ve done...”
Erika bowed her head to compose herself, she never wanted to be seen crying but I didn’t know how to respond. The answer seemed so simple, almost too simple. For some reason I was expecting a much different answer, maybe the fact that she wanted Adam for herself - one that I could really hate her for but she was trying to protect me. Could I really be mad at her for that?
“Just let me help you. With whatever you’re going to do – let me do something – please.” Erika pleaded, looking up and taking my hand again.
For some reason I felt sorry for her, the one emotion I didn’t think I would feel in this situation, and for some reason I couldn’t not think of a reason to forgive her. After all, having a Gym Leader on my side is never a bad option to have!
“Fine, you can help. I have a feeling we’re going to need it – C’mon.” I smiled taking her hand and leading her down the corridor to share what I’d learnt with her and the others.
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Chapter 29 – Plan of Attack
Every inch of the ground floor’s tiles gleamed so brightly that it almost obscured our reflections. The room was practically like a vision of how the perfect workplace should look with business men and women coming to and fro, friendly staff answering phones in a corporate tone and of course, an oversized statue of the company logo used as the centrepiece for the room – Who doesn’t need one of them? It was either through the industrial air fresheners and disinfectants or the various plants dotted about the room that filled the air with a floral aroma which, in the moment, reminded me of home, smelling vaguely of Orange Grass.
However, that moment was cut short when we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by a set of three armed security guards asking what our business was at the company. For a moment, we exchanged glances before an elevator chimed open behind us.
“It’s okay fellows, I can vouch for these people. We’re old acquaintances.” A small, elderly, yet youthful man said, stepping out of the lift and pushing aside the set of guards. “Go on, be on your way.” He continued, shooing them off.
The man walked across the pristine tiled-floor of the reception area with a warm grin across his face and extended his right arm out towards the smartly-dressed, green haired businessman in front of him. “Lance, it’s certainly been a while.”
“That it has, Dennis – too long.” Lance replied, shaking hands fondly. “I’d like you to meet my assistant and her R&D team.”
To his left stood a woman with striking red hair tied up neatly in a bun, dressed smartly in a white blazer and a deep ruby skirt with the Devon Co. logo subtly stitched into the pattern.
“And you are?” Dennis inquired, approaching the somewhat middle-aged woman.
“Athena, Mr President. I speak on behalf of my three team members and I when I say it’s an honour to meet you.” She responded, bowing her head slightly out of respect.
“Please my dear, the pleasure is all mine, it’s lovely to meet you all. Now - to business, if you’d all like to follow me I’ll get you cleared through security.” Dennis said leading the way back inside the large elevator.
I felt the cold prongs of a Taser press sharply at my back from one of the other scientists, even through the thick lab coat I was wearing, signalling me to follow. As the doors of the elevator closed the atmosphere changed completely.
“That was almost too easy.” Lance chuckled. “You never fail to create a convincing guise, Petrel.”
“Well it’s nice to know I’m still good for something.” Petrel, the man under the rouse of Dennis answered.
“-Be quiet you two.” The assistant hushed sharply. “There are cameras in here.”
“Relax, I’ve had a sweep through security – it’s only video feed in the elevators.”
From what I could gather, Petrel was a Rocket in disguise too, the man everyone was referring to as “Lance” was in fact Commander Proton who I’d had the great dis-pleasure of sharing a boat with for the past few weeks; but on the up-side, in a suit he could actually pass as a decent human being.
The red-head I felt like I recognised somehow but I couldn’t put my finger on it, nonetheless she was in league with the Rockets and that was all I needed to know. The member of the R&D team who stood directly behind me holding a Taser to my back was another Rocket who didn’t seem to have much of a ranking among the people we were with but it was his job to keep me in line.
The third person in a lab coat (besides me and Mr Taser behind) was a woman with long, dark hair. She hadn’t said a single word since we met; she just clutched at a clipboard with a glazed-over look on her face and followed wherever we went.
Trench had been feeding me information on the boat to keep me updated but as soon as we arrived the information stopped coming. Using his Gallade to hide himself in the shadows, no one could see him – even me. I had no idea where or why the Rockets were taking me along but I just hoped Trench was somewhere close by. As for the Hobbling Hoodie, where he went is anyone’s guess.
“What of the real President?” Proton asked, glancing toward Petrel.
“He won’t be any bother. I really thought they would have done more to up their security, but yes, he saw exactly who was coming.”
The three commanding officers each shared a smirk with the redhead glancing back at me as she let out a small chuckle.
“Almost there now.” Proton said, straightening his tie as the elevator doors opened. “Finally we’ll see some results.”
I could just feel that something bad was about to happen and, as it was, I was powerless to stop it. Wherever Trench was, he didn’t have much time to get here.
Last night was an eye opener to say the least; we’d decided to go back to Saffron City on what was basically a hunch from April, and a pretty freaky hunch at that, that her brother was being held captive somewhere inside. It’s a humungous place and I wouldn’t have known where to start looking but we’d decided to use April as a kind of radar to The Voice that had been following us around; the louder The Voice became in April’s head, the closer we would be to its source, and hopefully, Adam.
April seemed to have gotten over her initial cattiness with Erika who seemed determined to tag along whatever the cost. Apparently her and Adam went back a long time and couldn’t stand still whilst he was in danger. She managed to talk someone from her Gym into giving us a lift in their car to Saffron, which didn’t really take long at all, but as soon as the city limits came into view, sure enough April began to feel the dull thud in her head, gradually getting louder and louder.
As soon as we’d passed the suburbs we got out of the car and continued on foot, sending Slowking out from within his pokeball to share the burden of The Voice.
“Are you okay?” Erika asked, as April began to clutch her head in the middle of the street.
“Yeah, it’s a lot more manageable now with both of us.” She smiled, just beginning to cross a busy road. “We’re definitely heading in the right direction.”
The pair of them, accompanied by Slowking, led the way in front of Naoko and I, deeper into the heart of the city. I hadn’t noticed on our first way through how nice it actually was; I hadn’t seen a single piece of litter on the ground, the air was clear and refreshing and for some reason the skyscrapers didn’t spoil the skyline, the unique architecture added to it.
As we dawdled along behind the two girls, Naoko didn’t seem very much up for conversation, I didn’t know about her but I felt quite redundant in this situation. I couldn’t really help in any way, just making sure April didn’t keel over was probably my main priority as Erika could provide transport and seemed to know her way around.
“Y’know Naoko, you don’t have to come with us. There’s no reason to drag you into whatever this is too.” I said, trying to engage her.
Naoko clutched her necklace as she walked along, the silver chain reflecting the midday sun and shining into the ocean-blue jewel set in the centre. “No, I want to. I need to repay April somehow for saving my life on the SS Anne and besides; you said the Rockets are probably behind this. If they are, I’m going to make them pay for what they did to Dillan.”
Suddenly images flashed through my head of Cerulean City, the explosion… Sandshrew. It wasn’t as if I had forgotten about him, I guess I’d just pushed it to the back of my mind so I couldn’t think about it. The situation suddenly became very real for me – it was personal, I wanted revenge or justice or whatever you call it, but how could I get that when the last battle I had I lost… to the people I’m hoping to fight.
It’d really been that long. If I hadn’t had a pokemon battle since I’d been to Cerulean City, how could I possibly hope to beat them? Maybe after what had happened, a part of me didn’t want to send my pokemon into battle anymore; after all, I’d had a few opportunities to battle and hadn’t taken them.
Then, I took a moment to think about all of the matches I had won and how we did it, not by having the advantage – by learning how the opponent moves. Now that we had lost, I knew exactly what not to do and realised something that I had been naïve to before; bad guys do not fight fairly.
After half an hour of walking, we arrived in the business district of the city and The Voice seemed to be bothering April and Slowking more and more, signalling that we must be close by. We all began looking around for a sign, hoping something would lead us to where we were supposed to go, but I couldn’t see anything remotely useful.
“What exactly are we looking for?!” Naoko asked, trying to raise her voice over the crowds of the increasingly busy streets.
“I’m not… ugh, I’m not sure!” April replied, a bit frazzled.
Erika had gotten to the point of guiding April and Slowking around obstacles like lampposts, just so she could stay focused. “April, think about what you heard before – what did the Voice say?”
“Erm… follow, voice. I-It’s hard to concentrate.”
“There was, Adam, Silph, hel-“ Slowking began reciting.
“-Wait, did you just say Silph?!” Erika asked, surprised.
“That’s right ove-“
“-Hey guys!” Naoko bellowed from across the street. “I think I found what you’re looking for!”
We rushed over the tarmacked road to see the dark-skinned girl standing beside a stone block at the base of a skyscraper with walls made entirely of glass. A seven-foot tall stylised capital S was etched in stone beside the company name of ‘Silph Co.’
Erika sighed and ran her hand through her hair. “Well this isn’t good.”
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I know it's totally unprofessional but I've switch the third person for now as it is just easier to write as I have gotten myself into a rut. Sorry if this isn't too great of a chapter, I'm fairly rusty after... Well, let's just say quite a few months.
Chapter 30 – A Common Enemy (Part 1)
As the group gathered around the stone statue bearing the Silph co. logo, there was a short silence as they each pondered the situation that they had found themselves in.
“I don’t get it. What is this place?” Naoko asked, confused by the daunting feeling the others seemed to be sharing.
“Are you kidding?” Alex retorted. “This is pretty much one of the biggest corporations around; they manufacture everything from pokeballs to chocolate and run all of the Pokemarts in Kanto just from this building.”
Naoko nodded and quickly made a connection in her head. “I see. In Hoenn we have something similar called the Devon Corporation.”
“They’re actually partner companies.” Erika clarified, sitting on a small brick wall beside April. “But if what we think is true, then the Rockets are somewhere inside. It’s just that this isn’t the first time that they have tried to infiltrate the building. Around two years ago, Silph announced that they had had a major breakthrough in their capsule technologies; a pokeball that could capture any pokemon without fail. Such an invention would make billions if sold to the mass population but Team Rocket had other ideas. They infiltrated the company and took everyone hostage, attempting to take the patent only for themselves to use. Noone knows quite just what happened but a few people inside managed to turn the tide against the Rocket leader and took back the plans for the device and the police took care of the rest. When the capsule was made public after that incident, there were pokemon rights protests against what they had dubbed the “Master Ball” and so Silph decided that it would only cause future trouble and discontinued production immediately.”
“So what, are the Rockets going after the plans for the Master Ball?” Naoko mused.
Erika shook her head. “Impossible. They destroyed the plans soon after and only a few prototypes were ever made; no one knows where they are now. Although, Silph and Devon are always looking into new technologies; who knows what they’ve got up there…”
“None of that matters.” April said, standing up. “We’re here to find Adam, not to be vigilantes.”
The pale-faced girl began walking towards the entrance but was stopped by Alex. “Wait a sec, what you said is true but… just look.” He said, turning April around to face the inside of the building.
As they looked through the glass walls, past their reflections, they could see the reception area where a few people were sat in their business suits enjoying coffee before a meeting, others between departments and some standing around aimlessly.
“What am I… looking for?” April asked, pausing briefly to try and block out the Voice.
“That’s the thing. If the Rockets have infiltrated then how will we know who to look for? I mean, it doesn’t exactly look like they’ve walked through the doors with guns blazing like they did a couple of years ago. What can we really do?”
“We can warn them!” She said, pulling away from her friend. “And if that doesn’t work then we can just follow the Voice. It called out to me for a reason; I need to know what that is.”
With that, the foursome headed up a set of concrete steps to the entrance of the large building with Slowking in tow, already standing out from the crowd in their informal attire. Upon reaching the doorway, the path was abruptly blocked by four bald, bulky men in tightly-fitted black suits. It was clear to everyone that that was by design as the men in front of them were obviously the security.
“Do you have an appointment?” The first guard asked, approaching Naoko.
“No.” She said firmly, despite the guard’s hostility.
“No entry without an appointment or Employee Identification. Please move along.”
“Wait, we just need to warn someone. This place is in danger!” Alex cried, attempting to reason with them.
“Silph is one of the most secure companies around here, nothing slips through us. Now I will ask you again, please move along.”
Having no choice but to do as they were told, the group turned around, headed back down the set of steps and back to the statue.
“So what’s Plan B?” Naoko huffed, leaning against the statue and folding her arms.
“I would suggest following Erika.” Slowking replied, pointing to a colourless alley that ran alongside the building, briefly being lit up by the orange of Erika’s blouse.
As they gave chase, they could see that Erika was following someone herself. The pair stopped once they could no longer be seen by those inside the building and began talking just before the rest of the group caught up with them.
In front of them was a shady looking man wearing a black trenchcoat and sunglasses which contrasted against his light blonde hair.
“Is that-“ The man began to ask.
“Yes. But that doesn’t matter right now.” Erika replied.
“How can you say that doesn’t matter?”
“Because we need to be more worried about that.” Erika said, pointing to Silph Co.
The man sighed, looking April, Alex and Naoko up and down. “…I don’t like this.”
“Everyone, this is Crowe. He’s going to help us.”
“…Why?” April asked, curious of the new reluctant stranger.
“That can wait until later.” Erika said, turning back to Crowe. “How are you getting inside?”
“Shadow Sneak; Gallade can take one other person besides me.”
“Well, what about the rest of us?” Alex asked.
“Erika is a Gym Leader so she has automatic clearance for her and one other person which just leaves the other one of you out here. Unless that is, you have any other way of getting inside.”
The foursome looked at each other as if to try and decide who was to be the one left behind. Desperate to think of another way in, Alex then looked himself over and caught sight of his pokeballs latched onto his belt. Suddenly he had remembered something he had seen many days before in this city’s Pokemon Centre and began to concoct an idea. Releasing Ditto from his pokeball, he told the others of his plan and they set it into motion.
Upon approaching the entrance of the building with all of her usual graces and elegance, Erika was confronted by security.
“Good day Miss. Do you have an appointment?” One of the guards asked.
“No, I’m afraid I do not. However, my name is Erika, Gym Leader of Celadon City and I am here to see the Chairman of Public Affairs. He and I have some business to discuss and I’d rather not be here all day.” She replied with a clear confidence in her own authority.
Spotting two people standing directly behind her, the security guard nodded in their direction. “What of your two companions?”
Erika gestured the two forwards and introduced them, one was a man wearing a shirt with slicked back hair and a pen in his hand and the other was a ginger-haired girl who looked in her mid-twenties. “This is my Assistant, Alex.” She said, nudging the man forwards. “My clearance entitles me to bring in one other associate; I trust this will be fine.”
“And the girl?”
“Her name is Misty, one of the Cerulean City Gym Leaders.” Erika said as the girl slowly approached the guards, not daring to venture any further than where Erika was standing. Head bowed, the girl’s face was partially hidden from view.
Seeming vaguely satisfied, the guard turned toward the door and said, “Hmph, one minute we need to verify this with upstairs.”
A surge of panic rushed through Erika’s body. “-Wait!” She cried.
The guard turned around, inquisitively. Curious of the seemingly collected woman’s outburst.
“D-did you not hear that I am in a hurry? Surely you are able to verify us from our faces alone, or do I have to take the matter up with your superiors?” Erika said firmly, placing a hand on her hip.
Exchanging looks the guards seemed to make a unanimous decision then and there. “Very well, our apologies miss.”
The guards parted and allowed the three people to pass through the doors and enter the building. The group passed through the lobby, heading for the east stairwell exactly as planned. Reaching the door, Erika heard a whisper of “Ow, watch my foot, clown-feet.” From behind her, just as a man in a business suit seemingly bumped into nothing and fell to the floor, the paper from his briefcase scattering all over the lobby.
“Quickly!” Erika sighed, holding the door open as people rushed to help the fallen man before going through it herself.
As soon as the door shut, seeing they were in an empty stairwell Naoko suddenly appeared as if from nowhere and fell to the ground, Crowe and a Gallade appearing seconds after behind her, standing upright and staring at her inquisitively. “I think I’m gonna throw up.” Naoko mumbled, holding her stomach.
Alex, posing as Erika’s assistant, scruffled his hair, reached into his pocket and put on a pair of glasses so he could see again and was met with a sight he didn’t expect that made him jump back in fright. ‘Misty’ was writhing around pulling at her face which in its full form looked quite bizarre. The girl had flowing ginger hair, freckles on her cheeks and a pair of recognisably beady, black eyes above an eerily long mouth. After recovering from the shock, Alex quickly rushed to the girl’s side and began peeling a gooey mask off of her until he held a gooey pink blob in his hand – It was Ditto! The girl who was now recognisable as April again, gasped for air. “That was… the most disgusting thing… I’ve EVER done.” She panted, clinging to a stair rail.
All of a sudden the group felt a small tremor flow through the structure and a loud, siren-like alarm began ringing shortly after. Holding Ditto in his arms, Alex peered through the small window of the stairwell door and saw the occupants of the reception are staring at the entrances as they were quickly sealed off by large metal doors allowing no one in or out of the building.
At that point the alarm subsided and a voice began speaking through the building’s intercom:
‘Attention. This is a safety procedure, please do not be alarmed. Silph is doing its best to rectify the situation and urges you to continue your business as usual. Unfortunately at this time we cannot allow anyone to leave the building and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Attention. This is a safety...’
Alex felt a lump form in his throat and turned to the others as they looked to him for an update. “Well, I think it’s safe to say that we’re in the right place…”
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Chapter 30 – A Common Enemy (Part 2)
‘Floor 18’ was the first thing visible as the elevator doors opened onto an eerily empty corridor. Acting as a makeshift foyer, the tiled corridor contained but a single sofa and potted plant beside a large electronic door, easily twice the size of Adam and almost three times as wide.
“This is our only roadblock.” Petrel scowled, peeling off the prosthetics on his face as the group approached a control panel to the side of the door. “Getting the password was child’s play but this beastie has got fingerprint and retina scanners to boot. If it’s anywhere, it’s in here.”
“You mean you don’t actually know if it’s in there? …Fantastic work Petrel, really.” Ariana mocked sarcastically.
“Now Ariana, Petrel has done well to get us this far, do not mock him.” Proton said in his associate’s defence. “He has performed his role in this mission so now it is your turn to prove yourself. Especially considering your mishap on the last mission you were a part of.”
The redhead bit the inside of her lip in an attempt to ignore the comment and summoned over the girl in a labcoat from behind Adam.
“Sabrina, tear it apart.”
That name rang alarm bells in Adam’s mind as the black-haired girl released her extraordinary grip from the boy and approached the door. It couldn’t just be a coincidence that he was with a girl named Sabrina, a fairly uncommon name to begin with, in Saffron City of all places. He knew it meant only one thing – She was the city’s Gym Leader.
Adorning the same vacant expression she had had since arriving, Sabrina’s pupils glowed a luminous shade of purple, the same purple that began to cover the metal doors like the surf spreading across a shore. Once it was blanketed, the metal began to dent and compress into itself as the locks snapped from each other and the hinges were ripped from their frames.
As quickly as it had begun, it was over; leaving only a small tempered mass of steel on the floor.
Adam couldn’t believe what he had just seen. He, like everyone else, had heard of Sabrina’s powers but very few people have actually seen her use them. For a brief moment he remembered that there was now no one holding him there against his will – he could run! However, that thought soon left his mind upon seeing what Sabina did to the steel door. The question still remained though; what did they need him for?
The foursome walked past the clump of metal that lay onto the floor into a room that resembled a laboratory, housing large computers around the edge and another curled around a pillar in the centre. Though he began to follow his captors into the room, Adam felt a strange force usher him inside at a quicker pace, likely Sabrina’s doing.
A team of four scientists frantically darted about the room, disappearing through different exits whilst a fifth stood still with his arms behind his back, staring right at the intruders with a smirk on his face. The man was considerably older than anyone else in the room, slightly rotund with a slight hunch but quickly raised his right hand and effortlessly touched a few buttons on the central computer panel, setting off an ear-splitting siren throughout the building. An announcement rang over the intercom several stories below but it was too muffled to make out.
“I wondered when you might arrive.” The scientist said with a smirk, removing his spectacles.
“Oh, you were expecting us?” Proton asked, advancing toward the man.
“I’m not a fool. The incidents at Cerulean City, Pokemon Tower and of course the S.S. Anne – they reeked of you lot.”
“Well, well, you have been doing your research. I would expect nothing less from you, Pluto.”
Adam listened intently, the only one still in the dark about the current situation. The man they called Pluto was considerably older than anyone else in the room and was losing his hair and though he showed distaste of the Rockets, he seemed altogether menacing in his own right.
“Well this is all lovely but shouldn’t we get down to business?” Petrel sighed, looking towards his leader.
“As you wish.” Proton began. “We have a business proposition for you.”
“Oh?” Pluto inquired, briskly walking across the tiled floor of the laboratory, fiddling with his glasses in his hands. “How… civilized of you.”
“We know you are in possession of the Diamond and we will be taking that with us, but it would be a shame for all of that research you have done into it to go to waste.”
“Oh a crying shame…” Pluto mumbled, reaching a keyboard.
“So we propose that you join with us and you can continue your research. You’ll have access to all the equipment you have here and more, plus you will not have to be bound by the petty moral guidelines of Silph.”
Pluto began laughing uncontrollably, his cackle echoing above the noise of the computers. When he finally caught his breath he looked the Rocket leader dead in the eyes.
“Join Team Rocket you say? Let’s see… ‘Steal Pokémon for profit. Exploit Pokémon for profit. All Pokémon exist for the glory of Team Rocket!’” Pluto chuffed in a derogatory tone. “You have no vision, no goal. At the end of the day you are just petty criminals who would sell any research I conduct. And so my answer, on that basis, is no.” He finished, pressing a button on the keyboard that locked every computer screen in the room.
“You worthless fool!” Ariana yelled bitterly, reaching for her belt only to have her hand stayed my Proton.
“Very well, I had hoped to avoid this.” The Rocket Leader said, taking a disc from inside his pocket and walking toward the central control pillar, holding the disc above a drive as if to taunt Pluto.
The old man grunted. “And what do you propose to do with that? The system is full proof; your little dubious trinket won’t be able to do anything.”
“This is no mere trinket, Gideon made is specifically for you Dr Pluto.”
The scientist let out a small gasp upon the mention of Gideon’s name and began to grit his teeth.
“This will erase any and all research you have conducted to date after transferring it to us and will inflict a malicious virus upon the Silph Network that will spread to your partners at the Devon Corporation. How’s that for dubious?” Proton smirked. “Last chance – what do you say?”
“You’re pathetic.” Pluto said firmly in disgust, slowly reaching inside one of the pockets of his lab coat.
“As you wish.” Proton said with great delight, inserting the disc into the drive. The computer began to made a ferocious noise as the screens around the room switched back on with numbers flying erratically across each one.
Suddenly, part of the central pillar opened revealing a shining grey translucent rock suspended inside a glass capsule.
“Is that-“ Adam questioned.
“-The Diamond…” Proton grinned from ear to ear, staring at it, almost memorised. However he was soon snapped out of it by a fabricated voice ringing throughout the lab.
‘Virus detected. Firewall activated. Virus detected. Firewall activated… Virus..Activate-fire…’
The computer’s voice became more erratic as a blue and pink creature resembling a duck began to protrude out of a large computer monitor adjacent to Pluto. However, something was wrong. It began to twitch and morph, encompassed in a white light until its head had become separated from the rest of its body and it levitated in mid-air with two pale blue ovoids that resembled arms.
“W-what have you done? …Porygon?!” Pluto cried, stunned at the transformation of the firewall.
‘Zap Canon activated.’ The computer announced through the speakers as Porygon started emitting electricity erratically, drawing from the nearby terminal of computers. The electricity seemingly engulfed Porygon in a sphere and the pokemon began to spin, and with it, so did the sphere until it stopped suddenly and launched its electricity toward Proton who instinctively dived behind the central pillar. The sphere flowed suit but collided with the column, sending electricity straight into the heart of the system causing every computer and monitor in the room to explode, one after the other, spreading dust and debris across the lab.
Erika and her group raced up the spiralling stairwell, Naoko wheezing and falling behind but Crowe bounding forward ahead of the others, making the climb look effortless.
“April - anything?” Erika asked, stopping for a breather alongside Alex.
“It’s suddenly quiet, it’s like the Voice knows we’re here but won’t tell me where!” The brown haired girl paused for a moment and reached for a pokeball, releasing Slowking from within. “How about you Slowking, can you hear it?”
“No, nothing. But I can definitely feel its presence nearby.”
“Well that’s great, do we need to search the entire building? How are we even going to-“ Alex began before the group suddenly felt a slight tremor and a cloud of white smoke burst from several floors below. The group looked at each other and instantly realized that their destination had found them.
As she finally caught up, Naoko was met with the group heading back in the opposite direction. “Really?” She panted sarcastically, gasping for breath and leaning on the banister. Suddenly a black blur flew down the centre of the stairwell from a few floors above to the floor of the explosion, landing effortlessly by the door. It was Crowe. “Hey - quit showing off!” Naoko yelled, quickly giving chase.
As the smoke cleared, everyone could see that the lab had been destroyed beyond use. Debris lay everywhere, the computers were fried and the central pillar’s glass capsule had shattered. Adam hid from the blast behind a nearby wall, Ariana and Petrel were shielded from shrapnel by a psychic field created by Sabrina and Pluto had called forth his Bastiodon, a large, impenetrable steel pokemon to act as a shield.
The eerie silence was broken by the sound of shattered glass crumbling beneath someone’s footsteps. Proton walked across the remains of the lab and pushed some debris aside with his shoe to reveal the shimmering Diamond.
His face lit up like the gem itself as he reached down to grab it, only for Umbreon to swiftly dash past and grab it in its mouth. Proton lunged for the pokemon but missed as it jumped at the wall and somersaulted back in the direction from which it came.
Umbreon dashed to its trainer who had just entered the room and handed the Diamond to him.
Ariana grew impatient of Proton’s leadership skills and decided to take matters into her own hands. “Sabrina – stop them!”
Crowe turned on his heel and saw the rest of his group approaching the room but suddenly found himself unable to move. The rest of the group reached the entrance to the room but found their path blocked by a translucent purple barrier. Crowe found himself being spun around to face Sabrina, the quiet girl who had not spoken a word since arriving but whose eyes shone an electric purple as she used her psychic powers to hoist him high into the air. Crowe’s throat began to tighten as the air was ripped from his lungs, clearly struggling to breathe he began to writhe in midair, gasping to catch a breath.
“Trench!” Adam cried. “Stop it - You’re killing him!”
Ariana’s deep red lips smirked as she stared at Crowe, not taking her eyes off of him for a second.
“That’s the idea.”
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Chapter 30 – A Common Enemy (Part 3)
April, Alex, Naoko gasped at the man who was seemingly being strangled to death in mid-air in front of them before they started attempting to break the barrier by any means necessary. As the three of them began hitting the barrier with all of their might trying to force a way through, Erika noticed the familiar glow that surrounded Crowe and looked past him to see an even more familiar face.
“Sabrina?! Wait -- Stop! Put him down!” She cried, slamming her hands against the barrier to no response from anyone on the other side. She wasn’t sure she could even be seen or heard but she knew instinctively that this wasn’t an action of the Sabrina she knew.
Crowe’s Umbreon was confused by the situation and cried out to her trainer whilst maintaining her stance on the ground ready to attack, but the trouble was that she couldn’t comprehend who exactly the culprit was and scanned the nearby people, searching for information.
As his eyes shuffled around the room, Pluto found himself wondering which was the lesser of two evils; the woman who was intent on watching the light leave Crowe’s eyes or the younger woman who was choking him telekinetically. Deciding to help Crowe, Pluto began to issue a command to his Bastiodon but was quickly silenced by the pressure of cool steel on his neck. The aged man looked to his side to see a Sneasel standing on a computer console with its blades drawn against him and its trainer across the room.
“One more word and you die.” Petrel smirked, taking uncharacteristic initiative.
Suddenly April’s head felt tight and a voice rang out inside, the same voice as before but this time it was different – it was like the person it was coming from was right next to her. “Help me!!” The Voice cried, but this time sounded definitively feminine and much more desperate.
“Ghost!” The Voice cried again.
April quickly looked at Slowking beside her. “Did you hear-“
“-Yes!” The Pokemon nodded, understanding the urgency of the situation and that hearing the Voice now wasn’t just a coincidence.
“Ghost. Ghost! Ghost!! GHOST!!” It repeated, each time louder and with more urgency as Slowking seemingly scanned the room behind the barrier. It was then he found what he was looking for and cried out to the pokemon inside the barrier.
“There!” Slowking pointed at Sabrina. “Use Dark Pulse and aim it just above her head!”
Upon hearing this command; like a monsoon, the red of Umbreon’s eyes swiftly became clouded and tenebrous as she took a deep breath and sang an almighty howl at Sabrina, firing a wave of black and purple circles of dark energy in her direction.
It struck the area above the Gym Leader’s head and seemed to impact the thin air and dissipate until, a fraction of a second later, the unmistakable grey pointed head of a Shuppet became visible; its cloth-like body coating Erika’s face like a veil. Clearly injured and disoriented from the attack, the Pokemon screamed an almost deafening shriek before it lifted itself from Erika’s head and pierced through the air, passing through the window that also served as the back wall entirely and disappearing into the night.
As it released its grasp upon Sabrina, the gym leader's legs gave way as she regained consciousness and relinquished control of the barrier and Crowe, causing him to also fall to the floor.
The loud sound of the impact briefly distracted Petrel and his pokemon just long enough for Pluto to take advantage of the situation and swing his arms at the Sneasel in front of him, pushing it off of the console. With a smirk of almost delight at the current situation, Pluto grabbed ahold of the spikes along the ridge of Bastiodon’s back and ordered it to use Iron Defence. The two were almost instantaneously coated in faint metallic silver skin, looking as if they were now creatures made of liquid steel.
Sabrina had fallen right at Ariana’s feet, stirring and mumbling as she came to. The Rocket commander used her boot to tip the Gym Leader’s head to the other side and quickly made up her mind that the girl was no longer of any use to her. “Pity.” She remarked, flicking her ankle to remove Sabrina from her shoe like the piece of dirt that she saw her as.
Although Crowe had held his grip on the Diamond whilst in the air, once he hit the floor it was freed from his grasp and briefly bounced along the tiled floor until it stopped right between Adam and Proton. The younger boy quickly caught sight of the Gem and shifted his gaze to Crowe and back again. Adam knew that Crowe would want the Diamond to be his priority and so he ran for it with Proton having the same idea. Adam scooped it up in his hand and thought he had grabbed the Gem before his opponent but Proton had not planned to reach for it, instead grabbing Adam’s arm as he ran past him and swung a paralysing right hook into his stomach, making the young boy lose his balance and relinquish his grip upon the Gem.
Petrel folded his arms and leaned against the wall with a cocky smile. “You’ve cut through a lot harder before, Sneasel; tear them apart.”
The Dark-type Pokemon elongated its blade-like claws, adorning the same facial expression as its trainer before it charged at the pair. Sneasel attempted a vertical slice but was blocked by Pluto’s raised right arm.
“Heh heh heh, Steel against Steel… I like it.” He said, raising an eyebrow as his enemy recovered from the slight shock of not cutting through its target. This agitated Sneasel as he tried again and again to slice through but had no luck. As this was happening, Proton was slowly walking in a circle around Sneasel, calculating the best angle of attack and when he reached it, he briefly glanced at Bastiodon and they knew exactly what to do. When Sneasel tried another vertical slice, Pluto quickly kicked the pokemon back just enough so it was in the path of a charging Bastiodon using Iron Head, sending it flying against the wall, knocking it out.
The look on Petrel’s face quickly disappeared as he saw Pluto walking toward him. He scrambled for another pokeball but before long, Pluto had pushed the Rocket against the wall and held his silver arm against Petrel’s neck.
“I would say that my arm is pretty sharp right now, but failing that, I could probably crush your neck too so I’d be a good boy… if I were you.”
Umbreon gently nudged her trainer who was still desperately trying to catch his breath just as Ariana appeared, towering over them with a devilish smirk on her face with a pokeball in hand. All of a sudden a green bubble of energy crashed just inches away from where the Rocket commander was standing, causing her to jump backward. As she looked up she could see Alex, Naoko, April and Erika approaching, each with their pokemon drawn from their pokeballs and Erika’s Tangrowth, a 6 foot tall pokemon composed of a mess of blue vines, poised with another bubble of energy ready to fire.
“Next time we won’t miss!” Erika proclaimed.
Adam had a knelt to the floor as a pain seared through his abdomen, his eyes had watered, impairing his vision and as he looked up he saw Proton’s lips speak the words “Know your place, boy.”
Shortly after, he delivered a powerful blow to Adam’s face with his knee making him fall backwards with a bloody nose.
This caught the attention of April who was scanning the room for a face she desperately want to see.
“Adam!” She cried, running over and placing herself between the Rocket Leader and her brother.
“Oh look who we have here… We’re getting far too familiar with each other for my liking. And what’s this? You two know each other - Isn’t this a touching reunion?”
Petrel looked toward the group and recognised Alex immeadiately. “Hold the phone- you know these kids too? That boy with the glasses and the brunette were the ones who meddled with the Manor Project in Cerulean.”
Ariana raised an eyebrow, her face remaining stern, masking the true expression underneath. Knowing there was plenty more to the current situation than pure coincidence, she needed a way to follow up on the situation later as they were vastly outnumbered.
“You lay another finger on him and I’ll –“ April began.
“-And you’ll what?” Proton smirked, folding his arms smugly.
“April – Look out!” Alex cried out to April who turned to see Ariana charging straight for her. Naoko was the first to react, ordering Lulu to fire a Water Gun but as she did so, her necklace began to shimmer brightly, coating the walls in a deep blue light. Lulu’s took in a deep breath and fired a jet of water in the Rocket Leader’s direction. However, the force of the water was many times more powerful than it should have been, somewhat equivalent to a Hydro Pump that managed to push Ariana off of her feet and flying backwards and through the window at the back of the room. The redheaded woman disappeared from view and the group looked to each other in shock.
The remaining Rockets took advantage of the commotion as Pluto had unknowingly loosened his grip on Petrel, allowing him to slide away and head to the back of the room to join Proton. A powerful gust of wind blew through the window sending debris flying around the area as a helicopter appeared outside broken window. A woman with Ariana’s unmistakable red hair could be seen climbing up a rope ladder and into the helicopter, helped up by a face that both Alex and April recognised – Domino.
“Thank you ever so much for the Diamond!” Proton smiled as he turned to jump into the helicopter with Petrel following suit.
“Well don’t just let them get away, they’ve got the Diamond – Stop them!” Pluto bellowed through the noise of the helicopter.
The group all commanded their pokemon; sending balls of energy, lightening, water and ice speeding through the air just as a cloaked figure appeared on the helicopter door with a Shuppet floating just in front; the same pokemon from earlier.
Shuppet began twirling in midair using its horn as an axis, gathering speed at an alarming rate until a green ball of energy seemed to hit an invisible wall in front of the pokemon which dissipated, causing the air around it to ripple followed by the barrage of other elements, all having the same effect.
Shuppet then withdrew toward the helicopter as it turned and began to fly away but not before Domino threw a single dart in the shape of a black rose into the room, just inches away from the group. Alex knew what this was – they had no time to run or to escape. The rose flashed red and then black, faster and faster and until it exploded just seconds after it had landed. The group closed their eyes and grabbed onto the nearest people to them.
After a few moments, they slowly and uncertainly began to open their eyes to see that a dome had been erected around them, supported at the centre by Crowe and his Gallade.
“They’re not the only ones that can use protect.” He smiled, looking slightly worse for wear as the dome slowly faded.
Kneeling down to help her friend, Erika wiped the hair from Sabrina’s eyes as she sat up, very much conscious but physically drained. Alex scanned the room and saw that Pluto and his Bastiodon were still very much intact, letting their silver skin subside after the blast. April released her embrace on Adam and looked around carefully.
“Do you think we’re safe?” Naoko asked, looking around the room as the sound of footsteps began to echo.
Suddenly a dozen police officers entered with their weapons drawn and Growlithes at their side, snarling viciously.
“Armed police, Jenny division - put your hands where we can see them!”
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Chapter 31 - Question Time
“Armed police, Jenny division – put your hands where we can see them!”
Appearing from the nearby stairwell, the group were surrounded by armed police offers pointing their guns in their direction, each with a Growlithe at their side. The group all raised their hands but Naoko instead felt her arm being pulled upwards from the floor until she was upright and a hand clasped over her face.
She began to panic and struggled frantically until a voice gently hushed her; it was Crowe. “Be quiet, they can’t see us.” He whispered.
Naoko quickly scanned the room as the Jennys moved in to arrest the group and realised that they were once again hidden by Gallade’s Shadow Sneak. Crowe slowly loosened his grip on the dark-skinned girl and she took in a deep breath.
“What about the others? We can’t just let them -”
“-That’s not important right now. We need to get out of here.” Crowe said as he dragged Naoko toward the door, slipping past the group of agents and into the stairwell.
After descending one flight Crowe suddenly turned to Naoko and pushed her against the wall, pinning her with his hand around her neck. Naoko was shocked and confused, again struggling against a man who was much stronger than she was.
“That necklace – where did you get it?” Crowe asked, surprisingly calmly, loosening his grip slightly.
Naoko gasped for air, questioning why he was asking between breaths. Crowe tightened his grip briefly to extend his point, “You didn’t answer the question.”
“It was a gift… From a friend in Hoenn!”
“Her name… Her name is Lanette!”
Crowe suddenly released his grip and helped Naoko keep her balance as she regained her breath.
“What the hell is wrong with you?!” The dark-skinned girl cried, glaring at Crowe who now looked deep in thought. He gently rested against the hand railing and fixated his gaze toward Naoko; more specifically, her necklace; not uttering a word for several seconds. “Hello?! What was that about?” Naoko persisted.
“Things are starting to add up.” He mumbled before the police officers began to bring people out of the lab and into the stairwell. Taking initiative once again, Crowe grabbed Naoko by the hand and disappeared into the shadows.
The Jennys began to lead the group, one by one down the stairwell in handcuffs. Alex and April being the first, followed by Erika and then several minutes later, Adam and Sabrina who were supported by a team of medics.
A senior Jenny by the name of Harrison personally escorted the group out of the building via the employee car park at the rear as a crowd had begun to form outside the main entrance. He was a tall man, a good few inches above Sabrina, the tallest in the group and had short, greying hair underneath his azure cap, making him appear older than his age. The group were split between two unmarked police vehicles and then taken to the station where they were processed and then sent to a cell where they would await questioning, away from the prying eyes and cameras of the media.
I was sat on the floor, isolated in my cell. It was dark and the smell of mass produced floor cleaner rose from the chipped concrete below me. Unlike the rest of Saffron, the police station looked old and dilapidated, much like how the rest of Kanto seemed; technologically un-advanced compared to the rest of the world. Rather than being in a solitary room with a solid door, I was in a cubicle of sorts in a corridor with metal bars caging me inside a small area.
Alone with my thoughts, I didn’t know who was around, where anyone was or how deeply I was screwed. As soon as I’d arrived from Silph Co, I’d been shoved straight into a cell at the Saffron police department, completely unaware where any of my friends were.
Come to think of it, I hadn’t actually tried calling out to anyone. Surely they weren’t naïve enough to lock me in the same place as the others? I crawled to the bars and called out, not too loud as to attract outside attention but loud enough so that someone in the room could hear me.
So I tried again, a little louder.
Sighing, I turned my back to the bars and rested my head in one of the small spaces between them. There was no way I could talk about anything that has happened recently without sounding like a mad man but, then again, I had no other alternative.
Suddenly, I heard a whisper; a whisper that sounded vaguely like my name. My head jolted forward and turned to face what I could see of the corridor, which was not much. It could have just been the wind and I was about to turn back around when, as if from nowhere, the faces of Naoko and that guy Crowe appeared, half camouflaged by the veil of his Gallade’s Shadow Sneak.
“Naoko!” I cried in relief.
“-We don’t have time.” Crowe interrupted. “Listen carefully…” He began, telling me that we could not mention the Diamond the Rockets took and were simply there to look for Adam.
“But why? And why should I trust you? We’ve only just met.” I whispered, asking what I thought were justifiable questions.
Naoko spoke before Crowe was able, with a genuine look of fear and concern in her eyes. “Alex, please – just do it for now. It’s important.” And with that, they once again disappeared into the shadows.
Before I could call out to them, I heard footsteps approaching the room and seconds later Harrison appeared from around the corner. He opened the cell and led me to a small room for my formal interview. The was simply a small table in the centre of the room with another officer already seated, just like on the crime shows on TV. I was sat down and Harrison took his place at the other officer’s side, who introduced himself as Detective Shards, a rather rounded man if I ever did see one.
I could feel the nerves tugging at my insides. What was he going to say? What was I going to say? I looked down at my hands and I was shaking. I took a few deep breaths to calm myself and I knew that this was not going to be easy.
I had to lie.
“Team Rocket is gone – they are history. There’s been no criminal activity under that name for over a year, why would they suddenly choose now to make a reappearance?” Shards asked, condescendingly.
“But they haven’t! You just don’t see it do you?” Alex cried, slamming his fist onto the table.
“They’ve been here, right under your noses the entire time. The same thing happened at Cerulean and you didn’t see it then until it was too late!”
“Testimony from a Mr…” Shards paused to scan through his notes. “Mr Bill Dyer, claims the criminals involved were in-fact part of the Rocket Gang but, since there was no formal arrest, there was no evidence to substantiate his story.”
“There, you see? If more people are saying it, surely that means there is some grounding to the theory.”
“Miss Moon, in your own words, please describe to us the events of yesterday’s incident.”
April sighed and ran her hands through her messy brown bonnet. Her hat had been taken from her as she entered the building leaving her with quite persistent hat-hair. “You’re never going to believe me.”
“I was trying to look for my brother; we’d been separated for a while now and I could just sense that something was wrong, really wrong.”
“And so you just happened to come upon his location?”
“No… My Slowking helped me find him.”
The detectives’ brows furrowed and they exchanged a quick glance at each other.
“He’s an incredibly strong psychic pokemon who can communicate with me. I don’t know… he somehow locked-on to Adam and he led us straight to him. It was the only lead I had to find him.”
“And you say you found him… working with the perpetrators?”
“No! No, that’s not what I’m saying at all. He was there with them but he wasn’t with them. I… Well, I don’t know what happened exactly, but he had no part in this.”
“Without a doubt. I know him - he’s my brother.”
“I’ve already told you, I don’t know.” Adam sighed with his head in his hands.
“Being in that situation for as long as you say, you are honestly telling me that you had no idea of why you were there? Why would your abductors not kill you and be done with it at Lavender Tower? It’s quicker, cleaner and less hassle.”
“What can I say? I suppose they just needed me for some reason.”
“And that reason was?” Harrison piped up, seemingly intrigued.
Adam looked around the room in frustration. “I don’t know… Maybe they wanted me to take the fall; maybe they needed someone to blame the whole thing on.”
Shards raised an eyebrow, seeming less than impressed. “And what, the best culprit they could come up with was a teenage boy?”
Adam sat back on his chair and folded his arms. “Well, it’s worked so far, hasn’t it?”
Erika paced up and down the foyer as Sabrina sat in a chair patiently, her head resting on her right hand. After a while, Erika decided to join her friend and sat down opposite her, looking her over with concern. “Are you sure you’re okay? You’re usually quiet but you’re never this quiet.”
Sabrina simply let out a small smile; a smile that would simply look like a small facial twitch to anyone else. “Yes, thank you. I’m fine. Today has taken a lot out of me.” The psychic girl paused and closed her eyes, frustrated about mixing up her words - not something she would usually do. “Well, however long those criminals had me controlled for. The doctor said it could have been anything up to a week, judging from my reactions. ”
Erika stroked her friend’s hand. “Well, the worst part is over at least.”
Sabrina sighed. “I’m just trying to piece together my memories; it’s all a bit of a blur. I was useless to the detectives in my interview.”
“Well, if it helps, I can’t imagine any of ours making much sense to anyone else at the moment…”
Erika looked up at the door to the interview rooms. “They’re taking their time with the other interviews, aren’t they? I think I’ll go and see if I can find out what’s happening.”
Sabrina gave a nod of acknowledgement as Erika approached the front desk. A man sat at the counter filling out some paperwork and seemed unaware of the girl’s presence until she started speaking.
“Hello, I was just wondering about my friends who are being questioned, they’ve been in there quite a while.”
“I’m afraid they are to remain in custody until we can establish the facts about what really happened, miss.”
This didn’t sit well with Erika. “’The facts?’ We’ve given you the facts. You have no right to keep them here.”
“On the contrary. We have every right to keep them here.”
“On what grounds?”
“They have been apprehended at the scene of a crime and must be questioned Not to mention they have been placed at the scenes of multiple terrorist attacks.”
“But that doesn’t mean they committed any crime! That evidence is circumstantial, it proves nothing. You’d better release them or so help me I’ll-!”
“-May I remind you Miss Erika, that your authority as Gym Leader may exempt you from prolonged detainment but your power does not supersede that of any police officer.”
The Gym Leader began to speak again but was quickly silenced by the officer’s overbearing voice. “Especially when they are involved in a criminal investigation. You would do well to remember that.”
Erika paused and grit her teeth. She knew she was powerless to do anything and she hated it. The CCTV was cut; it was just their word and that was it, nothing else. There must be some way of proving something, something they had missed. And, at that moment as if planned from the get-go, a figure walked through the door, escorted by an additional officer.
It was Pluto, who walked up to the desk and presented a disc to the officer.
“I believe this might shed some light on the current situation.”
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Chapter 32 – The Sapphire (Part 1)
Three knocks at the door, a call to enter.
Alex sat at the table and turned to see a policewoman with a ginger bob slip her head through the door; a welcomed brief respite from the barrage of questions being thrown at him.
“Inspector, there’s a man at the front desk – one of the scien’ists from the Silph incident. He’s got somfin’ you’ll wanna see.” She said in a thick Rustboro accent, giving Shards a look before she exited the room.
The rounded man followed, giving a slight nod and whistling, signalling Harrison to follow like a lapdog. Alex noted the brief look of loathing in the greying officer’s eyes upon seeing the signal before he followed the command and also left the room.
A few feet down the hallway was the surveillance room, a dark room with all sorts of CCTV monitors lining the walls and a large computer terminal at the base. Pluto was stood inside the room and was greeted by “Detective Inspector Shards and Detective Harrison, a First-Class Jenny”.
“I assume you’ve brought us here for a reason?” Shards asked, bluntly.
The policewoman nodded, “Play it.”
An image appeared on screen, shakey and a bit distorted as if it was taken on a camcorder, but it was soon clear what was happening. The image was from fairly near ground level and was of the lab in which the suspects were arrested. ‘Zap Cannon activated’ could be heard in the background as the camera started to spin around the lab and the picture became engulfed in white before it dispersed in every direction. The image seemingly remains still for a number of seconds facing Sabrina. “Sabrina – Stop them!” was heard and following on from the order, the psychic girl raised an arm in the camera’s direction and it was thrown backwards and leant to the side, providing an ideal view of the room before the image turned to grain.
“Rewind it a couple of frames, just before it cuts off.” Harrison said, getting close to the screen. He stared at it intensely for a few seconds before coming to a conclusion. “It looks like what the kids said checks out. That woman with the red hair was one of the leaders of the Rocket base during the Chrono Island raid – Ariana.” He sighed and took it upon himself to state that he’d sort the paperwork for the group’s release when he was stopped by Shards.
“Hold on. The CCTV was destroyed at Silph, where did you get that footage?”
Pluto smiled, content with himself not to answer directly. “Where does anyone get any CCTV footage? A security system.” He said, looking at the officers in the room as if waiting for something.
“So I trust I am free to go?”
I knew something was going on. They’d left me in the room for quite a while and I had only my reflection to keep me company. Eventually Harrison came in to uncuff me and tell me that I’d been released due to new evidence that had just come to light. I wasn’t complaining and walked through that door as quickly as I could, passing Shards on the way, who grunted as I passed him.
Back in the foyer, I could see that I was the last one to be let out. Adam, April, Sabrina and Erika were sat talking together and I was escorted straight past them in order to collect my things and my pokemon. After signing out I slowly approached them, feeling a bit like the outsider again. After all, they’d known each other for a while and I was still just the boy they’d met a few months ago.
Just from a glance I could tell that Adam had changed a bit since we’d last met. He seemed a bit older; more mature. At least that’s what it seemed like. Just where had he been? What had happened to him?
Conversation stopped as I reached them and Adam stood up and for a moment, his face was solemn. After a few seconds he cracked a smile and extended his arm. We shook hands and Adam extended it by clasping my hand with both of his.
“Thank you, Alex. Really. Looks like you didn’t do a bad job looking after April after all.”
I could see in his face that he really meant his words but I struggled to see what part I actually played in the whole process. After all, it was April, Slowking and Erika that found Adam, not me. I voiced my opinion and April was adamant that it wasn’t true. When I asked for an example she mentioned the videophone message from Erika.
“Wait a minute.” Erika piped up. “I sent that message to April… How did you get it, Alex?”
That was the question I couldn’t answer. I’d wondered about this message myself and could not come up with a logical reason.
Adam let out a small chuckle. “I think that might have something to do with me.” A group of officers walked past and conversation stopped, Adam’s eyes following them across the room. “We should talk about this later.”
I nodded as Harrison approached us and apologized for the inconvenience, also formally declaring that we were free to leave. I couldn’t wait to get out of that building and put whatever this was behind us. It had definitely not been an easy week.
As we merged with the crowds in the street outside the station, Naoko and Crowe appeared beside me out of their Shadow Sneak, making me jump out of my skin.
“Where have you two been?!” April cried recovering from the shock, sounding almost angry.
Naoko looked slightly guilty. “Well, you see…”
She paused as the rest of us waited silently for the remainder of the sentence. Needless to say, it didn’t come. Crowe took the opportunity to take control of the situation and began leading us toward Sabrina’s Gym, saying there was someone we needed to talk to. I hadn’t known him long but I started to get the feeling that he was the vague-type.
As we walked, I turned to notice that Adam was still stood a few steps behind.
“Adam, you okay?” I asked.
“Yeah…” He said looking a bit taken a-back. “Does someone want to introduce me to these people?”
Later that day we were sat inside a building that was apparently the Saffron Pokemon Gym.
However, walking through the corridors I saw more people in lab coats than people that resembled trainers. But when I stopped and thought about the other gyms, it wasn’t really a surprise that the building was used for some other purpose besides battling.
Sabrina brought us all a hot drink as we relaxed in her private apartment above the Gym. As could be expected, everyone was pretty worn out from the past few days but equally were full of questions. Personally, I was just glad we were in the clear again and had found Adam alive and well.
Crowe seemed to be one of the people that knew exactly what had happened but went to put his head down for a while, at least that’s what he told us.
I could tell that no one really wanted to start the conversation off so I began with something a bit lighter to get the ball rolling as she handed me my cup of tea.
“So Erika, what else is this place used for besides battling? There looked like there was a lot going on downstairs.”
“This ‘place’ is used for research into psychic phenomena and the organisms that possess such powers.” She replied.
“So you do a lot of work with Pokemon?” April asked, having her interest piqued.
“Yes… And no. Pokemon are generally seen as the only organisms that have developed Psychic abilities but they may have just been the first. Life is evolving, and with that comes adaptation. Humans such as myself and the Gym Leader Morty from the Johto region have found ourselves to be in possession of abilities only thought to have been present in Pokemon.”
“So this Morty guy has psychic powers too?” Adam asked, confused.
“Not exactly. Psychic powers are thought to be the foundation for other abilities.”
We all looked to each other, a little taken aback.
Naoko crossed her legs and rested her head on her hand. “Right, now I’m confused.”
“Think of it like so.” Sabrina said, fetching a book from her shelf and placing it open onto the table. “I trust you are aware of this pokemon?”
I leaned in and saw a mural next to an artist’s representation of the pokemon Mew. One that even I had heard of.
“Mew is said to be the ancestor of all pokemon as it contains the DNA of every pokemon ever discovered within it and could potentially form into whatever pokemon it wished to. Permanently. Think of it as a living, breathing stem-cell.
This is where it gets interesting - Mew is also a Psychic-type. The psychic abilities present within Mew formed the base for all other pokemon moves. Have you ever wondered just how a Fire Blast appears in a perfect five-pronged star or how a water gun is able to maintain its power for as far as it does? It’s because every pokemon contains a form of psychic ability. We believe that humans also have this ability. That is why I am able to use telepathy and telekinesis and how Morty is able to see and speak to the undead.”
Silence filled the room. We all looked and felt shocked at what we had just heard.
Adam sat back on the sofa he shared with Erika and asked the question we were all wondering: “Why is this not bigger news? Why haven’t we heard about this before?”
Sabrina sighed. “Sadly, as of now it is just a theory. The only way to fully validate it would be for someone to give us a sample of Mew’s DNA to work with. So for now we just work with who we can, encouraging more people to research it.”
“It’s fascinating, don’t you all think?” Erika smiled, clearly knowing about the concept already.
Suddenly the intercom buzzed and Sabrina got up to let her guests through the door. Little did Adam realise that it would be Crowe accompanied by a boy with curly hair and large, rounded glasses.
A boy named Celio.
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And I'm back! (Hopefully for good this time!)
Chapter 32 – The Sapphire (Part 2)
“Everyone, this is –“
“Celio.” Adam said, rising from his seat.
Silence filled the room for a moment. Noticing this, Celio smiled and extended his hand. “It’s nice to see you again, Adam.”
Unsure what to make of the situation, Adam shook Celio’s hand cautiously. He didn’t know what the boy wanted, if he was alone or even if he was safe; all he knew was that he felt uneasy.
“Oh good, two of you are already acquainted. This should speed things up a bit.” Sabrina said. “Everyone, this is Celio Brown.”
The rest of the group greeted him with a small wave and Celio made himself comfortable on a cushion on the floor and propped his laptop on the table, promptly starting to type away at the keys.
“So how do you two know each other?” Alex asked.
Adam slowly sat down and knew that he had to at least divulge some information; he just didn’t want to have to drag anyone else into his current predicament. “Funny story actually… He’s the reason you got the message from Erika, Alex.”
When Alex questioned how, Adam responded by saying that he had been rescued by Crowe and taken to see a group of people that included Celio. A group he now called ‘the Hackers’.
“The Hackers knew that I was going to be used as the scapegoat for an attack on Silph, but at the time they didn’t know where the attack would be. They needed me to do what I could to gather information about an artefact called the Diamond. An artefact that, if used with some others, could grant humans powers that only pokemon possess.”
“That’s… Not possible. Is it?” Alex asked.
Celio nodded but before he could speak, Sabrina reminded Alex of what they had just discussed. “Humans possess that base-level of psychic ability. Although in most people it lays dormant, it has the potential to be ignited, like in me.”
“But why – why did you use Adam? You could have rescued him there and then!” April said with a hint of anger in her voice.
“Because it’s –“ Celio began.
“-Because I was their only way in.” Adam responded, butting off the truth. “And I can’t just stand by and let the Rockets do this. Remember what they did to us – to mum and dad? Imagine if they managed to do this? Just think about how many other families they could destroy. There is no way I’m just going to stand by and let that happen.”
“Adam…” Erika said compassionately, placing her hand on his thigh. “Stop.”
“She needed to hear that.” He snuffed, quietening down.
Naoko lay across the chair and rubbed her head. “This is a lot to take in at once…”
Celio took in a deep breath.
“There’s a tiny bit more to it, I’m afraid.”
Naoko propped herself up with her arms. “Meaning?”
“Meaning that there are five of us that have been trying to keep the knowledge of the Gems a secret; Bebe, Crowe, Bill, myself and Lanette.”
Naoko suddenly sat upright, her face painted with a confused expression, as if several things had just slotted into place in her head. “Did you just say Lanette?” Naoko asked, her voice sounding gentle and sweet, highly unusual for her.
“Why, yes, yes I did. She is responsible for the PC network in Hoenn – judging by your accent, I’d say you’re probably familiar with her and her work. But anyway, as I was saying-“ Celio carried on, adjusting his glasses as Naoko reached into a pocket and took out a worn, folded-up piece of paper; unravelling it and staring at it intently.
“-we decided that keeping the Gems together was far too dangerous and came up with a plan, of sorts. Each of us would take one of the Gems and find a place for it to be hidden, telling no one else just where it was.”
“I had no part in this.” Crowe piped up from the corner, leaning against a wall.
“But why didn’t you tell each other where they were hidden?” Alex asked naively.
Celio exhaled and showed a small smirk from the corner of his mouth. “It wouldn’t be much of a secret then, would it?” He said sarcastically. “It was to protect the Gems – and to protect ourselves. If someone were to probe one of us for answers about where the other Gems were then there’d be no way for us to give them any information, even if we wanted to.”
“Plausible deniability.” Erika surmised.
“So… How do these Gems work, exactly?”
“That’s one thing that we just don’t know. What we can tell from the murals and such that have been excavated is that it’s a form of energy that uses one of the Gems – the Pearl – as a type of catalyst, with the other Gems representing specific elements.“
Walking over to refill his coffee, Alex changed his point of view. “Now, I’m not saying that I don’t believe you but… without the Pearl, how do you know that these Gems do anything? How do you know that they’re not just… hunks of rock?”
Not expecting Alex to challenge the idea, the group paused for a moment.
“The ‘hunks of rock’ are more than that. They are filled with power in themselves. What the power exactly is we are still looking into, but we know that it can have a direct effect on the potency of a pokemon’s abilities in the immediate vicinity.” Sabrina replied. “The research at Silph was making some strides in that area but now the Rockets have the Diamond.”
“So now we now know them to have the Emerald that Bebe gave to Professor Fuji and the Diamond that Bill entrusted to Silph.” Celio stated.
“-wait a minute.” Naoko interrupted. “You said that the Pearl acts as the Catalyst, right?”
“Why not go and get the Pearl yourself? I mean, without it, the other Gems are useless, right?”
“I’m afraid that’s not exactly an option.” Celio said, adjusting his glasses.
“Of course it’s not.” Naoko huffed sarcastically, leaning back in her chair, running her hands through her hair.
“We don’t know the location of the Pearl. We never have.”
“But didn’t you just say that each of you hid one of the Gems?” April inquired, looking to Crowe and Celio.
Crowe raised his arm. “I told you – I had no part in this.”
“Then how do you know it even exists?” She pursued.
“Well we know from the research at Silph that these Gems are definitely real, so there is every chance that the Pearl is too. We just can’t take the chance that the Rockets will get their hands on the others. The less of the Gems they have, the less havoc they can create, should they gain access to the catalyst.”
“Unless they already have it…” Alex said, thinking of the situation from another angle.
April gave Alex a glaring look.
“What?” He countered, meeting her gaze.
“Can you stop playing devil’s advocate for a minute?!”
“He’s got a point.” Adam remarked. “How do we know that we’re not just chasing something pointless?”
Erika scratched her head. “Surely, if they had the Pearl and the Emerald, then they’d be able to use these abilities and so far we’ve not seen anything like that… Have we?”
“Exactly.” Said Sabrina.
“This leads me to my next point.” Celio continued. “There’s a reason I’m here, and that’s because we have the chance to sneak the upper hand.”
The group’s interest piqued, the spectacled boy continued. “We have one of the Gems, in this very room.”
There was silence. Alex, Erika and the siblings looked amongst each other, confused. Naoko clutched her necklace with one hand and screwed up her piece of paper with the other. “…I have it, don’t I?”
Celio nodded. “The Sapphire, embedded into your necklace.”
“You didn’t give it to me, how could you possibly…” Naoko began before putting two and two together, turning and glaring at Sabrina, her eyes sharpened like daggers.
“I did what was necessary.” The Gym Leader said coldly.
“That doesn’t give you the right—“ Naoko snapped, hitting the arm of the chair with her fist before stopping, gritting her teeth.
“But don’t you see? Now we can –“ Celio began.
Naoko stood on her feet, enraged. “-we can what? Save the world?! And when did we become a ‘we’ anyway?! I never signed up for any of this!”
“Naoko, none of us have.” Adam said, somewhat sympathetically.
“Now, I don’t know what’s happening but somehow you’re all here… together. The girl with the Sapphire, the boy who stumbled into a plot to take both the Emerald and the Diamond and his sister who just so happened to find them both. The same siblings who are also the children of –“ Celio paused, getting carried away in his own rambling, forgetting the promise he made to Adam. “You’re all in one place! Don’t you see? It all fits! We have a responsibility to clean up this mess!”
April turned to Adam, unsure why they were mentioned specifically as the children of their parents but she was not met with the same expression. She could tell there was something he was keeping from her, something he knew that she did not, but before she could open her mouth, Naoko bellowed back.
“That’s bullmuk and you know it! Lanette wouldn’t want—“
“Lanette is gone!” Celio cried, slamming his laptop shut. “They have her… We don’t know what she wants.”
His blue eyes glazed with tears beneath his glasses, Celio showed some genuine emotion for the first time since his arrival. Naoko stood, solemn, staring at the curly-haired boy at the table. Her jaw, wavering. Taking a deep breath, Naoko turned and left the room.
“The children of who?” April asked Adam.
“He just said ‘the siblings who were also the children of’ who?”
“Why are you asking me? He’s the one-“
“-I’m asking you.” She persisted. “You didn’t even look a little surprised when he said it and that’s because you know something. What is it that you’re not telling me?”
“I’m not a little kid anymore, for once in your life just tell me!”
Adam looked at Erika as if for approval but was only met with a blank stare and an empathetic smile. He sighed, rising to his feet and rubbing a hand through his hair. “Fine, let’s go outside. Believe me, you’re going to want some fresh air when you hear this.”
Sabrina moved to place a comforting hand on Celio’s shoulder. He reached and clasped the hand with his, gripping it tightly.
“Get out of my head.” He chuckled.
Sabrina let out a feint smile. “I don’t always need to be able to read your mind to know how you feel. Although I must say… Smoothly done.”
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Chapter 33 – Get Your Head in the Game
Naoko exited the room and headed down the stairs and out the first door she could find. Finding herself outside the rear end of the gym she headed to the first thing she saw – a large, blue waste disposal bin and kicked it with all of her might, screaming. Not able to recognise which of her own emotions she was feeling, she struck the metal again, this time with her fist, splitting the skin on her knuckles. Wincing through the pain, her head fell against the metal and she slammed against it with her other hand, slowly sinking to the ground and bursting into tears.
Finding herself crying into her knees on the dry, autumn dirt, she gave into some of the emotion she had been holding back, if only for a brief moment. Lifting her head and composing her breath, she frantically grabbed the necklace she wore and pulled it off as if she were pulling off a plaster, snapping the chain. Naoko stared at the blue jewel sat in the centre and wondered how something no bigger than a broach could hold so much power. She sniffed and wiped her nose, staring deep into the electric blue of the Sapphire, something she’d never properly taken the time to do before. Becoming almost hypnotised by the jewel, she nearly didn’t hear the voice coming from behind her.
“You got riled up fast.” It said.
Naoko knew in that instant that Crowe was behind her, sat on a branch of a tree above and didn’t even turn to look.
“Leave me alone.” She said firmly.
“I could...” Crowe said, leaning against the trunk of the tree with one leg on the branch.
There was silence between them for a moment, the only sound were the rustling of the tree and the sound of cars on the road in the distance.
“-I’m not going to.” He finished.
Grunting, Naoko rested the back of her head against the bin and said “Look, I don’t want to be part of some prophecy or whatever you call it.”
“I wouldn’t exactly call it a prophecy.” Crowe chuckled. “You think a lot of yourself.”
“You know what I mean! What that Celio said in there about ‘something happening’ because we are all in one room – who the hell does he think he is?! The fact that one of my best friends died and the other one is being held captive and having god only knows what done to her is apparently part of some plan… how sick is that?!”
Crowe chose not to reply. Instead he just sat, stroking his Umbreon.
“It’s just…” Naoko sighed and held out her hand with a screwed up note in.
Gesturing his head to the side, Umbreon leaps from the branches onto the bin and gently took it in its mouth, returning to its trainer. Crowe opened the note and began to read it aloud.
“Naoko – I hope you’re not missing me too much. I’m heading to Kanto to work with the guys on some new code and sadly, it can’t really wait. I might be gone for a while this time and I really am sorry I couldn't say goodbye in person but feel free to visit me if you’re ever in the region, just phone me and we’ll sort out the details then.
I know you’ve had your eye on it for a while so I want you to have my necklace – take good care of it for me, it’ll really match with your eyes and it’ll look far better on you than it ever did on me anyway.
Tell my sister not to run you too far into the ground at the ranch or she knows what’ll happen.
Folding the letter up on an old crease, Crowe held the letter still for a moment, moving his foot off of the branch and turning to fully face Naoko.
“We were a team at one point, Lanette, Dillan and me. She took us in when we had nowhere else to go and now she’s somewhere I don’t even know and well, he’s gone because of the hackers and… this.” She said, dangling the necklace by the chain in the sun. “This stupid hunk of rock.”
Naoko threw the necklace against the door she’d exited from.
“I just want my friend back.”
Again, there was a moment’s silence. Crowe began to lose his patience.
“Boo hoo.” He said, jumping from the branch.
“…What?” Naoko asked, slightly stunned at the response, finally getting a look at Crowe as he walked in front of her.
“I’m one of them – the “hackers”. Crowe said. “Bebe is my sister, Lanette is my friend too and here you are feeling sorry for yourself. You’re in a strop because your friends are gone - boo hoo, mine are too. While you’re sitting here moping, what the hell do you think is happening to Lanette? She is a grown woman, she made a choice to do what she thought was best, what we ALL did. If you’re upset then do something about it and stop blaming other people.”
Crowe picked up the necklace and opened the door to the Gym. “I never usually waste my breath on people like you but at least we are trying to sort this out. You need to make up your mind what you’re going to do.” He said, throwing the necklace to the ground in front of Naoko and re-entered the gym, leaving the door ajar.
Left with her own thoughts, Naoko began to concoct a plan.
Inside the building, Alex sat sipping coffee at a coffee table and feeding his pokemon bots of a doughnut he was eating, enthralled by the tale Celio was recounting.
“So, let me get this straight - April and Adam’s dad was the one who searched out the Gems in the first place and started looking into them?” Asked Alex, trying to keep up.
Celio twisted his wrists with his palms outstretched as if to make a ‘kind-of’ gesture. “That’s basically the gist.” He said.
Alex placed his mug onto the table in front of him and looked at Celio as if something didn’t quite place together in his mind. “So what exactly are you doing here?”
“Trying to talk some sense into you guys. We need all the help we can get and you guys keep appearing wherever this stuff happens. So we figured it was best to get you on our side – you may not have meant to but you’ve been helping us out this whole time.”
Slowking stood on the edge of the roof solemnly, feeling the breeze as it whistled past, caressing his face. Whilst Manetric and Vulpix sat resting, Primape was busying himself with the rest of Adam’s pokemon, with Slowking listening telepathically to the conversation happening between his trainer and her brother.
Perched on an air conditioning vent with their legs dangling off of the side, Adam had explained everything he had learnt about their past and their father’s work from the Hackers. April had remained silent, listening to every word the came from his mouth intently until he’d finished.
There was a brief moment of silence as the pieces began slotting together in her mind.
“So that’s why the Rockets attacked Cleopatra Island. That’s why this all started.” April said, turning and lifting one leg onto the vent. Considering her options, April paused again before promptly asking, “So what do we do now?”
Slightly stunned by her keen attitude, Adam slid off of the vent and onto his feet and began to walk towards his pokemon. “What do you mean ‘we’ ?! I told you this so you’d keep out of this mess!”
Scoffing at the notion, April jumped off of the vent and gave chase.
“So what – you expect me to just carry on and just pretend I haven’t been paying attention at all for the last few weeks? Alex and I were the ones that rescued you, remember?”
Adam stopped and turned back around.
“April, look –“
“-Ugh for God’s sake, Adam! Stop treating me like this fragile piece of glass that’s about to brake. He was my dad too and I am not going anywhere.” April said firmly, holding firm a strong stance. “So you’re just going to have to deal with that.”
Adam cracked a small smile, impressed and a little proud of how much his sister had grown. For the first time in his life he had suddenly begun to think of April as an equal, rather than something that had to be protected a put out of harm’s way.
He walked over to April and put his arm over her shoulder. “I guess you’re right.” He shrugged, much to April’s surprise. “I’d still whoop you in a battle though.”
“Maybe we should go after them.” Erika said to Sabrina as she pressed her face to a window to see if she could see anyone.
“It’s fine, they’re all still in the building.” Sabrina said calmly. “I can feel –“
Sabrina paused, he gaze fixed on the tv that had been playing quietly in the background. Erika inquired as to what was wrong but soon realised and turned up the volume.
“Marking the second departure in recent years, Lorelei Swift of the Sevii Isles has become the latest member of the Elite Four to hang up her duties as part of the Indigo League. This follows the departure of Kanto’s own Agatha Wainwright, who was an original member of the Kanto Elite Four before it merged with Johto’s to create the Indigo League two years previously.
Lorelei refused to comment on her departure, simply stating that it was ‘time for a change’. Kanto-local Koga Metso of the Fuchsia City Gym is the odds-on favourite to replace her and bookies are currently taking bets on whether or not she will follow in Agatha’s footsteps and take on the mantle of Gym Leader.”
The pair gazed at each other in confusion.
“Did you…” Sabrina asked.
“-Not a clue.”
“I called it.” Crowe said, suddenly appearing from a shadow sneak behind the girls, giving them a fright.
Adam and April re-entered the room and all attention turned to them.
“We’re in.” Adam announced as they sat down on a sofa, followed by another voice coming from the doorway.
“So am I.” Said Naoko, as she approached the table. Crowe cracked a small smile, content that she had made a good decision.
“My friend Dillan is gone and the Rockets have Lanette and are doing god only knows what to her - I’ve got to save her. And well..” She said as she turned to the siblings. “I do kind of owe April for saving me on the S.S. Anne – if she didn’t pull me away, I’d be dead too.”
“So you're on board?” Celio asked.
“On one condition.” She said, putting her necklace back on. “Lanette gave this to me – she gets to decide what to do with it. Until then, nobody touches this but me.”
Celio looked to the rest of the group, each nodding to the proposal.
“Agreed.” He said.
After speaking about a plan of action, Celio agreed to first catch everyone up to speed.
“We knew something was going on when Lanette didn’t show up, they took her on her way over to the Sevii Isles. We don’t know how but they must have got her at the port. Then, after that, Bill vanished so suddenly and everything at Cerulean and Pokemon Tower happened. We went into hiding and after you rescued Bill, the Rockets docked nearby our hideout and we sent Crowe to investigate using his Shadow Sneak. That’s when he found Adam. Using the information that Adam overheard, Bill knew they were after the Diamond he’d placed at Silph to be researched so we sent Adam and Crowe there together to learn and bit more and try and stop them where they could.
That part… didn’t exactly work out as planned. But what we do know is that the Rockets now have Bebe’s Emerald and Bill’s Diamond. However, we now have Lanette’s Sapphire, thanks to Naoko here. That leaves the Pearl and the Ruby. Since we still don’t know the location of the Pearl and the Rockets haven’t started wreaking havoc with unnatural abilities—“
“-ahem.” Sabrina coughed.
“Sorry.” Celio blushed. “We can assume that they don’t either. That just leaves the Ruby, and thankfully, that’s the Gem I was in charge of hiding, which gives us a strong advantage.”
“Well, where is it?” Alex asked, asking the question everyone was thinking.
“Beneath Fuchsia City.”
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