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August 22nd, 2010 (8:46 PM).
Thanks for reviewing, Giratina! :D
I have to say, chapter 48 is coming along extremely well, so expect the chapter to be posted at regular time~
August 23rd, 2010 (3:26 PM).
I saw three Shiny Zubats and mowed them all down without knowing what a Shiny was. >:I So that's why I'm looking for one.
September 10th, 2010 (9:06 PM).
Chapter 48: The Power Plant, part two
The noise was still echoing in Leah’s ears as she dragged Ashley down a hallway. Common logic suggested that she was supposed to be running away from the noise and not going towards it, but Chandelle was still out there. Leah’s personal feelings didn’t matter; Chandelle could hardly defend herself with one Pokemon that was apparently bad in power plants.
Leah never knew that power plants were so big on the inside until she hesitated at a crossroad of hallways. She thought power plants were composed of a bunch of big rooms with machines in them. She could hardly comprehend they had hallways.
“Which way?” Ashley asked, looking no less scared than when the noise happened.
Too busy thinking to say anything, Leah chose the path closest to the noise, walking as fast as she could without breaking into a run. If they had to deal with a dangerous Pokemon, either by running or fighting, she didn’t want to be out of energy.
The hallway led into the room where they had separated with Chandelle. Chandelle wasn’t there and neither were the baby Pikachu. When baby Pokemon were smart enough to flee when Leah wasn’t, she had to question what she was doing.
Chandelle was athletic and knew a lot about Pokemon, so Leah had to trust her to get out on her own. What Leah should have been doing was escorting Ashley out. Instead, she was dragging a ten-year-old on a pointless rescue mission. Besides, why was she assuming the bang was a bad thing? Sure, there were probably Voltorb everywhere, but maybe Chandelle wasn’t in any danger and only knocked something over?
“This is so stupid,” Leah muttered to herself, not walking any farther.
Ashley stopped behind her, letting go of Leah’s hand. “Do you think your friend is okay?” she asked.
“I don’t know.”
Leah had only turned away only for a second before Ashley cried, “Look!”
Appearing from the other hallway was Chandelle, looking disoriented with one hand holding her head and the other clammed around the strap of her bag.
“Chandelle!” Leah exclaimed.
Chandelle turned their way, a flash of recognition on her features as they ran over to her. Her normally straight brown hair was a mess and there was a tear on one of her sleeves, showing a shallow red cut.
“I made a mistake,” Chandelle said, grimacing as she wiped dirt off her chin. “We must leave-”
From the end of the corridor a screech sounded and Chandelle leapt out of the doorway, a blast of air blowing past her. It crossed the room and hit the wall with a loud bang, leaving a dent in the stone.
Leah paled. She knew a Sonicboom when she saw one. “What did you do?”
“Let’s leave!” Ashley said, pulling on Leah’s arm.
Instead of doing what the blond suggested, Leah looked to where the blast had come from, wanting to get at least a glance of the attacker. She could see nothing, but then a shape appeared in the dark, sparks of electricity illuminating its floating form. Three eyes glared at her and its steel body shone.
It wasn’t what Leah had been expecting, and she couldn’t decide whether that was a good or bad thing.
The Magneton sparked, forcing Leah to look away from the brilliant sight.
Well, at least the Pokemon couldn’t explode-
“Come on!” Chandelle said, herding Leah and Ashley away from the Magneton. Leah didn’t like being treated like that, but she didn’t want to get electrocuted, so there was no point in being difficult. She followed Chandelle as she raced down another hallway, another screech making it clear that the Magneton would not be left behind.
Seeing a door coming up ahead, Leah skid to a halt, tried it, and cursed when it didn’t open.
“What are you doing?” Ashley asked, stopping with Chandelle up the hallway.
“We can’t just run!” Leah replied, scowling. “It’ll follow us!” She wasn’t going to run all over the power plant until the Magneton went away. She didn’t know much about those Pokemon, but it looked angry and she doubted it would let up any time soon. They needed a place to hide.
She backed up a few paces and ran at the door, shoulder first. It didn’t even budge under her weight, and her frustration couldn’t drown out the sudden, shooting pain in her shoulder.
“Move out of the way!” Chandelle snarled, pushing her towards Ashley. She stood side-ways from the door, bent her knees, and lashed out with her foot, hitting the door beneath the door knob. It didn’t work, but the long-haired girl took a deep breath, regained her balance, and tried once more. This time there was a snap and the door burst open.
The three girls ran inside and Chandelle closed the door behind them, leaning against it.
The silence was filled with their heavily breathing. A bang down the hall broke the quiet, but another one didn’t follow.
Leah leaned against the wall and held her injured shoulder tightly, the throbbing pain making her wince. To take her mind off it, she glanced around the room, but it was just a regular office. There was a desk, covered in a layer of dust, and there were wires connected to the wall, ones that could have been used for a computer. There was a small window next to the desk, but this one still had glass in it, not that you could really see out of it.
“What are we going to do?” Ashley asked.
“Be quiet!” Leah snapped, glancing at the door.
“Magneton hear using vibrations, not sound,” Chandelle informed them with a tired note in her voice.
Ashley made a sound of understanding. “Can it get in here?”
There was another bang, this time closer to the door, making the trainers jump.
“Do Magneton have hands?” Leah grumbled, the pain in her shoulder making her regret getting out of bed that morning.
“Can’t it blast down the door? I mean, it seems powerful.”
That was something Leah hadn’t thought of and the realization that she might have gotten them all trapped made her freeze. A small space like the office they were in was no place to battle a Magneton if it got in. They’d all be fried. Damn it, she should have just ran. What was she thinking? She just had to hope the door was sturdy enough to live a Sonicboom or a Thunderbolt.
Trying to hide her guilt, Leah turned to Chandelle. “What’s going on? Why is it chasing you?”
“I made a mistake,” Chandelle said softly.
“Yeah, what mistake?”
The older girl’s silence made Leah sigh.
“Looks like we have lots of time now. Just tell us.”
“… I found something that proved interesting, but the Magneton intercepted me and attacked. My Pokemon can’t hurt a Magneton, so I used Confuse Ray to keep it occupied as I devised a plan.”
“You used Confuse Ray to occupy it?” Leah scowled and looked to Ashley. “And this is how confusion fails. Remember this.”
“I had no other choice!” Chandelle defended. “Magneton are mostly immune to my Pokemon’s attacks. Confuse Ray was only thing that would work in a short period of time.”
The space under and around the door lit up, catching their attention, and the door groaned as crackling filled the air. The sound faded, but it didn’t settle their nerves.
Ashley rubbed her arms. “When do you think it’ll go away?”
“When it calms down,” Chandelle said.
Leah looked up at the older girl, who was now much taller as she was the only one still standing.
“Sit down,” Leah said.
Chandelle looked down at her, eyes flickering to the dirty floor, but complied, sitting cross-legged and away from the walls.
After a pause, Leah asked Chandelle, “Where is your Pokemon?”
“… I’m not sure. I lost track of it when I ran.”
“Will the Magneton hurt it?” Ashley asked.
“I trust it to stay out of sight.”
“What Pokemon is it?”
Chandelle took a while to reply. “You wouldn’t have heard of it.”
There wasn’t anything to say to that, and while Leah scowled and sat in suffering, she wondered what Pokemon it was and why Chandelle felt the need to hide it. Either Chandelle was embarrassed by the Pokemon or it was incredibly rare or powerful. Maybe even both. Trainers could be very protective over their Pokemon, especially ones that they considered trophies. For a collector like Chandelle, she probably hated showing them to anyone.
While the room seemed peaceful in its darkness, light coming in from the window and lush green leaves pressing against the glass, Leah didn’t like it. It was just like the mansion on Cinnabar, old and dusty. But while the mansion was relatively lifeless, the power plant was not.
If only it wasn’t a Magneton on the other side of the door. She had bad experiences from that family. Surge had beaten her with a Magnemite, and the species had the oddest typing. Electric and steel was combination that was tough to beat if you didn’t have the right Pokemon. Which Leah didn’t. A Sandslash and a Drowzee, no matter how obedient and willing, wouldn’t be able to scratch it. A Zubat also wouldn’t help at all, and whatever Chandelle had apparently couldn’t work in the environment they were in.
Leah wished she had Ally with her. A Vulpix would be able to make short work of a Magneton. Ed’s Ditto could even be viable, depending on whether he could make it transform properly.
A quiet voice broke the silence.
“Why do you sell Pokemon for money?”
Chandelle turned her head.
“Why do you?” Ashley repeated, drawing her knees up close to her chest and allowing her Zubat to perch on her arm.
“That’s how Pokemon collectors make a living,” Chandelle replied, just a quiet.
“Couldn’t you just battle? Why do you have to sell them?”
“I don’t like battling. It’s…” Chandelle paused. “I’d rather just watch.”
“Why did you start collecting?”
“Why do you ask?”
“I want to know.”
Leah didn’t think Chandelle would reply, but surprisingly, she did.
“I started out as a trainer, but it didn’t suit me. I like… having Pokemon, capturing them.”
“What was your first Pokemon?”
There was an odd quirk to Chandelle’s lips. “A Cherubi.”
Leah mentally echoed the question. She had never heard of it before.
“A grass type, from Sinnoh.”
“That’s a long ways a way.”
“So you live there?”
“I grew up there.”
“Do you have any siblings?”
“No…” Chandelle hesitated. “Do you?”
Ashley seemed surprised that she had a question directed at her. “No, I’m an only child.” She looked at Leah. “Are you?”
“An only child? Uh, yeah,” Leah said.
“I wished I had a sister or a brother.” Ashley sighed. “It would be cool.”
Leah grimaced. “I wouldn’t want one.”
“I’ve looked after a few younger kids.” Bratty younger kids that could really be useful right then and there. “They’re annoying.”
“That’s true,” Ashley said, not sounding like she believed it. “I wouldn’t mind an older one, though.”
“You live in Lavender, right?” Leah asked.
It was then Ashley seemed to remember that she didn’t want to talk about herself, but answered anyways. “… Yeah.” She tried to get attention off herself. “Where do you live?”
Chandelle spoke up. “Professor Oak lives there.”
“Yeah. I’ve never met him.”
Leah’s grandmother sometimes expressed an interest in bringing Leah over to meet him, but she always declined. After her journey at age ten, she never wanted anything to do with Pokemon.
“So, what was your first Pokemon?” Ashley asked Leah.
“A Sandshrew… and I only have two Pokemon.”
“You haven’t retired it yet?” Chandelle asked, looking up. “Five years of battling is too much for a Sandslash.”
“He’s only had a few months of battling.” Leah frowned, a feeling of sadness making itself known in her gut. “He only evolved a few weeks ago…”
Now Chandelle looked surprised. “You’re old for a starting trainer.”
Leah’s reply was swift. “I’m not a trainer.”
“Then what are you?”
“Why are you a traveler?” Ashley asked.
“Because I want to be.” Leah scowled, not liking the direction the conversation was taking. She wasn’t a trainer, she didn’t want to be one, and it wasn’t up for discussion. You didn’t need to be a trainer to go on a journey.
“Being a traveler will only take you so far,” Chandelle said.
Leah directed her scowl Chandelle’s way. “That doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t matter what I am.”
“What are you travelling for? To see things? To explore?”
Leah didn’t mean to react, but she must have shown something as Chandelle narrowed her eyes.
“To explore, then,” she said slowly. “If you want to explore, then why do you act as a trainer? You don’t need to walk to places, or carry and battle Pokemon like you do. It’s only your word that proclaims you a traveler. Everything else says you’re a trainer.”
“Just because I train Pokemon-”
Chandelle interrupted. “It’s more than that. A trainer doesn’t just train Pokemon, though that’s a popular occupation. Training dates back centuries. Back then, before it became a sport, trainers walked undiscovered lands as they were the only ones who could. They made maps of these lands, documented Pokemon, collected the strange objects that they found- they were adventurers, mapmakers, explorers, and travelers. If you say you’re a traveler, then you’re saying you’re a trainer, but in doing so, you’re lying to yourself.”
There was something in the way Chandelle spoke, a passion that Leah had never heard from her before. The long-haired girl had a spark in her voice that made whatever she said sound true, like it was the way of the world.
A spike of envy shot through her, and Leah wondered why she couldn’t be passionate like that. That was what she was searching for, the way of life that trainers lived day after day, the absolute wonder in their voices as they talked about their journeys, the world that only trainers could see…
Why couldn’t she be like that? Why did she have to be so… normal.
“Wow, trainers did all that?” Ashley asked, her mouth slack-jawed. “I never knew…”
Chandelle smiled slightly. “Many don’t. Training is not just a sport for people to take amusement in.”
Ashley turned to Leah. “Why don’t you like calling yourself a trainer?”
‘Trainer’ was just a word. It didn’t matter what she called herself. She wanted to follow the training ‘lifestyle’, she supposed, but she didn’t want to be a trainer. Training had always brought her misery. Storms, brats, assassination attempts; she didn’t want to be a trainer.
She hated it, really. Ever since she was ten. Just because she was… acting like one didn’t mean she was going to call herself one.
It was just a word.
What was the point?
Ashley continued, “Now that I know all that stuff, I really want to be a trainer now. I don’t care what my parents say, when I see them again, I’m going to demand to be made a trainer.”
“I don’t think there’s any point,” Leah said, trying to be logical. “Haven’t you heard? The training age is going to be raised to a higher age.”
There was an odd note in Ashley’s voice. “I know…” Then, she quickly added, “And it might not happen.” Turning to Chandelle, she asked. “What do you think?”
“I don’t know,” Chandelle said. “It will take months for something like that to get through the Pokemon League. You should get your answer by spring.”
Ashley frowned. “I hope it’s not raised too far…”
It probably wouldn’t… At first. Leah knew how these things went. As soon as the age limit got a foot in the door, it would not stop until it went all the way up. Maybe it would start at thirteen, at first. Then it would only take little work for it to be raised to fifteen, then sixteen, and then why not go all the way to eighteen?
Leah could just imagine the outrage for the years to come. She doubted the debate would ever die down, not until the old ways were only remembered by middle-aged parents and senior citizens. She could imagine a grandfather telling his grandson, ‘When I was your age, we trainers started out at age ten and we walked across countries training our Pokemon all alone. So don’t you go complaining having to walk a mile to school.’ And the grandson would say, ‘Yeah, sure, Gramps.’
“Is it gone?”
Snapped out of her daydream, Leah glanced at Ashley and Chandelle, seeing them both looking towards door. Now that she thought about it, it was rather quiet and had been for who knows how long. Were they free to leave?
“Give it a minute…” Leah said. She didn’t want to exit the room just to come face to face with a Magneton.
Chandelle got up and put her hand on the door, putting an ear to it.
“It seems to be.”
Going a step further, she opened the door slowly and peered both ways down the hall.
“Let’s go,” Leah said, helping Ashley to her feet. They needed to get out quickly.
The hallway seemed longer with the threat of electrocution over their heads. Leah felt relieved when they found themselves in the room they started off in, the exit only feet away. She did feel a bit annoyed that the room they had taken shelter in wasn’t that far from the exit. They could have just ran out with no problems.
Chandelle stopped and slowly looked up. “Wait-”
Leah paled and pulled Ashley out of the way, ducking her head as the Magneton descended on where they were. The Pokemon wasn’t much bigger than a man’s torso, but it was certainly threatening as it dropped to the ground like a anvil before defying gravity just before it hit the floor, faux bouncing until it was eye-height with Chandelle.
Leah stopped at the door, looking at Chandelle, who was staring at the Magneton with caution from only a few feet away. It was a stare down, neither making a move until the girl put her hand in her pocket.
“Now,” Chandelle murmured, her eyes narrowing as she rushed into action.
The Magneton wasn’t used to people running at it as it froze, not attacking, as Chandelle pulled out a silver rectangular object. She flicked it open, a blade snapping into place on one side. Stopping just before the electric-type, she moved to the side, hitting one of the Magneton’s magnets with her blade, making a sharp ting sound.
The Magneton screeched, sparking violently as it flew backwards, all three eyes closed in pain.
“Run!” Chandelle yelled at the two frozen girls in the doorway.
Leah opened the door and shoved Ashley outside. “Run!”
Not paying any attention to Ashley’s protests, Leah waited until the door closed before taking out a Poke Ball. She didn’t want her Drowzee to battle on glass, but she couldn’t just let Chandelle fight the Magneton by herself, especially without Pokemon.
“Zee,” Leah said, letting her Drowzee out on a patch of glass-less ground. “Don’t move.”
The Drowzee did so, freezing as Leah put a hand on her head.
Leah had no intention of actually fighting the Magneton. She only needed to distract it, and Zee didn’t have to move around while using her mental powers.
The Magneton was recovering, Chandelle standing opposite with her knees bent, ready to dodge, when the electric-type developed a blue aura. By an invisible force, it was thrown back into the wall, its metal body banging against the stone.
Chandelle glanced at Leah, but didn’t question why she was still there.
Pulling itself together, the Magneton looked around in confusion before finally focusing on Leah and Zee. Its three eyes narrowed.
Leah tensed, putting a hand on the handle of the door. That Magneton was smart. She didn’t think psychic-types lived out here, but it had already figured out that Zee was the cause of its pain.
With sparks flying from its magnets, the electric-type lit up with a yellow glow, and sent a thin bolt of lightning towards Zee.
Leah didn’t have time to shout in surprise, and Zee stepped in front of her trainer, raising her hands. Her eyes turned a brilliant blue as she concentrated on the lightning bolt and moved her hands to the side. The lightning bolt turned in mid-motion, but only barely, as it arced past the Drowzee, stands of electrical energy reaching out to touch Zee. With a flash, the bolt hit the wall and dissipated without any fuss.
“Are you alright?” Leah asked, coming to her Drowzee’s aid as the psychic-type made a whimper. The left side of Zee’s body had gained a red-ish tint, easily visible on her golden skin.
She didn’t expect Zee to be able to redirect such a powerful attack, but that electric attack was more powerful than she thought. She knew storms made electric-types powerful, but that powerful?
The Magneton screeched, regaining Leah’s attention. It sparked.
Keeping her eyes on the wild Pokemon, Leah asked Chandelle, “What are you waiting for? We need to leave.”
“I can handle it,” Chandelle said, armed only with a knife. “I didn’t ask you to stay behind.”
“Why are you…” Realization crept up on her. “Are you trying to catch it? You don’t have any Pokemon with you!”
Chandelle said nothing, but her body became tense as stared at the Magneton, knife arm raised.
Leah grit her teeth. She thought Chandelle was only distracting it, giving her and Ashley time to get away. But to try to do something so stupid without Pokemon? It was insane. She originally thought that Chandelle was experienced in this sort of thing, but apparently not. No one experienced would try to fight a Pokemon by themselves.
Chandelle would definitely get killed, being too stupid and arrogant to give in. And now Leah couldn’t leave in good conscience.
****. She couldn’t fight a Magneton. What was she supposed to do?
Suddenly, a voice came from beside her.
“Zu-Zu, distract it!”
Leah jumped, startled, whirling around to face Ashley.
“I told you to run!” Leah said, aghast, not wanting to protect a tagalong ten-year-old as well.
“I’m not a kid!” Ashley said, scowling, and in a quieter voice, added, “**** off.”
The Zubat swooped in the air, being too small and fast for the Magneton to hit. The electric-type seemed frustrated, sending blasts of air and electricity at the annoying Pokemon.
Chandelle watched from the sidelines, occasionally jumping aside when an attack came near to her. Her brows were furrowed and there was a frown on her face. Finally, her knife arm dropped to her side and she grimaced.
“We should leave,” she said loudly, getting Leah and Ashley’s attention.
“I thought we were going to fight?” Ashley asked, frowning.
“I’ve changed my mind. We can’t take this. It’s too powerful.”
“Then let’s go!” Leah snarled, not wanting anyone to do any take backs. She felt a bit confused why Chandelle had just given up out of nowhere, but who was she to complain?
Leah opened the door, Ashley calling to her Zubat before ducking under her arm and going back outside. With Chandelle right behind her, Leah grabbed Zee’s hand and followed the blond into the chilly afternoon air.
They ran across the grass and Leah was so busy looking behind her that she bumped right into the chain-link fence. It rattled and dipped under her weight, and she cursed as she got back to her feet.
Chandelle was hurryingly putting on her gloves while Ashley took a running start and leapt high onto the fence, climbing like a monkey until she reached the top.
Behind them, there was a bang as one of the window frames exploded outwards, the Magneton floating through.
“It’s following us!” Ashley cried, balancing at the very top of the fence.
“Obviously!” Leah scowled, knowing that she’d never be able to climb the fence fast enough. She didn’t think the Magneton would actually follow them outside.
She turned to Chandelle.
“Is your Pokemon still out of its Poke Ball?”
“Yes, but I don’t know where it is-”
“Then call it! Is it deaf or something?”
Chandelle hesitated. “It won’t hear me.”
The long-haired girl took a deep breath, put her hands to her around her mouth and called out, “Em!”
The scream was so high-pitched it made Leah wince. However, despite the sound, nothing appeared in the next few seconds.
While waiting, Leah told Ashley, “Get on the other side of the fence! You’ll be knocked off!”
Ashley nodded and she climbed down as fast as she could. Once on solid ground, she asked through the fence, “Now what?”
“A fence isn’t going to protect me from a floating Pokemon!” Ashley protested, hands gripping the fence.
“Then run! Or hide behind a tree or something.”
While Ashley was scowling, Leah looked at Chandelle.
“Where’s your Pokemon?”
“It must have not heard me,” she said with a frustrated look. “It gets too distracted in places like this.” She looked towards the front door of the power plant. “… Can you hold the Magneton off?”
“I’m going to get my Pokemon. Hold the Magneton off until I come back.”
Leah gaped at her. “Will your Pokemon even be able to hold it off?”
“No,” Chandelle said. “But my Pokemon will at least be able to wall it.”
Before Leah could express her confusion over the term ‘wall it’, Chandelle had already run off, taking a wide arc around the Magneton before disappearing through the door.
Now Leah was alone with a Magneton.
“Zu-Zu can distract it!” Ashley said, still right behind her.
Correction: Leah was alone with a Magneton and an unhelpful ten-year-old.
“Your Zubat’s tired,” Leah said. “He won’t be able to keep dodging like that.”
“But then what can we do?”
Looking at Zee’s burned body, Leah had to admit that her psychic-type wasn’t going to be much use time around. She was too slow to dodge and too weak to deflect attacks.
So, the Zubat was tired, and the Drowzee was hurt. Who else was left?
Leah felt nervous as she enlarged the bruised and battered Poke Ball. Sands’ lessons weren’t going well and she was trying to put him against a real threat? What was she thinking?
But what choice did she have?
For the first time that day, the Sandslash stood outside, uninjured (not counting the bad paw) and able to battle.
The Magneton floated closer, examining its new opponent. On the other hand, the Sandslash didn’t seem curious at all, instead letting out a growl. The ground-type dropped to four legs, leaning to one side to make up for its shorted left leg. The spikes on its back bristled, standing upright.
Leah had never seen Sands get angry so quickly. It usually took Leah or Zee approaching it for the Sandslash to act out. It was possible that maybe Sands remembered his previous encounter with the Magnemite in Vermillion. To be so soundly defeated didn’t happen often.
Engulfing itself in electrical energy, the Magneton blasted the Sandslash with shocks and sparks, but the ground-type wasn’t bothered, only growling more loudly. The small flashes that the lightning caused, however, made the Pokemon back up.
Leah followed her Pokemon’s lead, trying to make sure the Sandslash didn’t back into her.
“Sands,” Leah said. “Use Swift.”
There was no reply as her command was ignored. It wasn’t unusual and Leah expected it, but it still hurt.
“Don’t you remember me?” Leah asked quietly to herself, only able to look on. “I’m your trainer! You can’t have just forgotten five whole years…”
The Magneton floated upwards as the Sandslash lunged, a swipe of its paw only hitting air. As the electric-type floated higher, Sands watched with dark eyes, claws pawing the ground. It turned its head, spotting the tree by the doorway, and jumped on the trunk, claws digging into the bark.
“Hey!” Leah exclaimed, not liking where this was going. Sands was a ground-type; he wasn’t supposed to be off the ground and especially not in trees. “You’re not a cat; get down!”
Due to Sands’ small size, the tree was able to support the Sandslash’s weight, but the branches were another matter. They buckled under the ground-type as the Pokemon balanced on top of them, its claws keeping it from falling.
Now the two Pokemon were eyelevel with each other and they stared, neither willing to make the first move. Despite being made stupid and reckless by evolving, the Sandslash must have realized what position it was in as it acted cautious, taking slow steps to the end of the branch.
Leah was nearly biting her tongue in horror. She wanted to call out in outrage, but she didn’t want to distract her Sandslash. One false move…
Finally, one of the Pokemon blinked. The Magneton screeched, magnets moving to face one spot of air, and suddenly a Sonicboom was unleashed, its wail distinctive and echoing. It was only a short distance to the ground-type and it had only one option, which it took. Suddenly, the world was filled with a falling Sandslash and there was nothing Leah could do.
Not that she accepted that.
“Make him float!” Leah cried and started to run as Zee took her words to heart.
In midair, the Sandslash’s descent slowed down, but only just. He hit a branch on the way down, his body tumbling off.
Leah knew it was a stupid idea, but what else could she do? With her arms outstretched, she managed to get under Sands, her hands digging into spikes as she caught him. Her legs fell out from beneath her and she fell back, her head hitting the ground. Sands let out a short cry as his weight impacted her chest, and then he was still.
From the edge of her hearing, Leah could hear Ashley say, “Are you alright?”
She felt too dizzy to reply and wondered if catching her Sandslash was a good idea. She didn’t want him to get hurt since he had already gone through so much. Besides, he was a small thing, not that bigger than a Sandshrew. It wasn’t like he was one of those giant Sandslash she saw on TV. Still, her body hurt and her hands grasping Sands’ spikes felt wet.
Opening her eyes, she looked straight up in the three eyes of Magneton. He was almost hard to see against the pale gray sky, but she could tell it was glaring down at her. He glowed with a bright yellow light, and Leah turned her head to the side, seeing Sands full-grown claw by her face.
Leah looked back up to see the Magneton being overtaken by a blue aura before it threw it off, sending a blast of electricity out of her line of sight.
“Sands…” she said, her voice sounding strange to her ears. “Get off.”
The Sandslash moved but didn’t get off. She could feel his un-evolved paw digging into her shirt and the spikes shifting under her hands. He pressed his head against her neck and his voice box vibrated against her skin as he growled softly.
It was odd. This was the first time she had ever been this physically close to her Pokemon since he evolved. She had never really felt his new skin or spikes and now that she was doing so, she didn’t want to let go. To think it took a dangerous situation to make Sands stay close to her willingly.
The Magneton’s glow was so bright that Leah closed her eyes, any thought of getting up having fled her mind.
A Magneton’s electricity was so strong that she wondered if it would hurt. Or would her nerve cells burn so quickly that she wouldn’t register the pain?
There was a shout, a cry, and suddenly, the light against her eyelids vanished.
Leah opened them, finding the Magneton was gone from the sky.
“What happened?” Chandelle demanded, leaning over her and taking up most of her vision.
“I think I hit my head,” Leah said.
Sands growled loudly when Chandelle tried to touch him, and Leah took that cue to finally get up. She didn’t want to, it was comfy on the ground, but she couldn’t stay like that forever. It was hard to get up with her Sandslash pinning her upper body down, but she managed. Sands sounded unhappy when he was transferred to her lap, but Leah could care less as she held her pounding head.
“… I think you have a concussion,” Chandelle said.
Wanting anything to distract her, Leah looked for the Magneton, seeing him duck and weave around balls of shadowy plasma. The attacker was obviously a ghost-type as it floated and the Magneton’s attacks went right through it. The ghost-type was made up of oranges, blacks, and greens and looked like a lawnmower with an insane grin. Leah thought she knew what the Pokemon was, but her head was pounding and didn’t let her concentrate.
Chandelle must have saw Leah watching and said, “That is Rotom-M. I call it Em.”
“Rotom-Mow,” the long-haired girl said. “He can’t do much to Magneton, but it can’t do anything back either.”
At another time, Leah would be happy that Chandelle decided to talk without prompt, but the words only made her headache worse.
“I need to sit down,” Leah said.
“You are sitting down.”
“To lay down, then.”
Chandelle stood up. “This isn’t the time for that.” She stared up at the battle in the sky and yelled, “Em! Will-o-Wisp!”
The Rotom’s grin got positively wider as its wheels spun, blue-white flames igniting around them. With a screech of delight, it charged full speed ahead, leaving a trail of fire. It raced around the Magneton, coming closer, giving it no room to escape, until the two Pokemon physically clashed. Rotom’s form blurred, phasing through the steel-type, leaving its flames behind, and allowing its lawnmower shape to return once a safe distance away.
With a barely heard electronic cry, the Magneton started to descend to the ground, a part of its silver form burned an ugly dark brown-gray. Even though the flames had vanished on contact, the burn was spreading as the seconds ticked by, making popping noises as it ate more and more of the metal.
“It’s been defeated,” Chandelle said.
“What wrong with its burn?” Leah asked, trying to keep her attention on the battle.
“Steel-types burn badly. Even the littlest of flames can make them melt.”
The Magneton hit the ground, landing softly. For a moment, it stood upright, a burned black object against the cloudy sky, then it fell over with hardly a sound.
Chandelle helped Leah to her feet and then approached the fallen Magneton. Leah followed a close distance behind, her Sandslash staying where he was. The steel-type’s eyes were closed and its iron body looked crunchy, like an overcooked piece of chicken. Reaching into her satchel, the long-haired girl took out a Great Ball and tapped it against one of the magnets. The Magneton was sucked inside and the ball twitched in her hands before calming.
“You caught it,” Leah said.
“I have to catch something,” Chandelle looked at her Rotom. “Thank you, Em.”
Playfully, the Rotom phased through its trainer, making her shiver.
“Why didn’t you use Will-o-Wisp before? It worked so well…”
“It misses too much to be reliable,” Chandelle explained, pocketing the Great Ball. “It was only luck that it worked on the first try.”
“Drow,” Zee said, staggering up to them, wincing with every step. Leah went to her knees and checked over her Pokemon. The burns didn’t look that bad, but they were obviously causing the psychic-type pain.
“You did a good job,” she said to her Drowzee. “We just need to work on your deflection.”
Zee managed to nod and Leah returned her, not wanting the Pokemon to deal with the pain any longer.
There was a clang and Ashley leapt to the ground, running over to them.
“Did you catch it?” she asked Chandelle.
Ashley had a hint of envy on her face. “You’re so lucky. I bet Magneton would make a great Pokemon.”
Chandelle said nothing, only looking at Leah. “I’m going back.”
“I found something, a room,” she said, “but the Magneton intercepted me.”
“What, in the power plant? What’s so important about it?”
“I want what’s in that room.” Turning around, Chandelle didn’t seem willing to take no for an answer as she didn’t even wait for their replies.
Before she could even take three steps, Ashley said, “Wait, I’m coming too!”
The two went ahead, leaving Leah by herself.
Before Leah could follow, she glanced at Sands. He was sitting on his hunches, the quietest and calm she had seen him. He looked up at her approach and a rumble began in his throat.
“… You’re getting better,” she said. “Making progress, I just know it. You can’t fool me with those growls.” She took out her Poke Ball and pointed it at Sands. “We’ll make more progress later. Return!”
Red light pulled Sands back into his ball and Leah touched the top of it, and then put it away. Turning on heel, she ran to catch up with the other girls.
The room was located at the very back of the power plant, between two old machines that had probably not been dusted in decades. It was in good condition considering it was missing half of its roof and half of one wall. There was no rubble on the ground and no furniture in sight. It would be empty if not for the odd materials on the ground. There were wispy clouds of cotton, some large branches and straw, even a few old blankets. They were all placed together in the corner, under the roof.
“Is it a… nest?” Ashley asked.
It was a good question. Leah knelt down and touched a piece of straw. “What’s it doing here?”
What type of Pokemon made a nest in a power plant and on the ground, no less? It was a big nest, and as far as Leah knew, Pidgeot and Fearow lived in the trees. Maybe a Dodrio lived here? But then how would it get out of the room when the door was closed and the only entrance was the roof? She supposed it could jump out, but…
“Look at this,” Chandelle said.
Leah turned, looking at what the long-haired girl was holding. It was long, maybe as long as her forearm, and covered in dirt. As Chandelle wiped it off with her fingers, it revealed a yellow color that looked nothing like Leah had ever seen.
“Wow, is it a feather?” Ashley asked, peering closely.
Chandelle was quiet, and Leah could guess what she was thinking about.
“There’s only one yellow bird Pokemon…” Leah said out loud, wanting a confirmation.
With a quiet voice, Chandelle said, “I wouldn’t think something like… that would consider this place good nesting grounds.”
“I guess that’s why it isn’t here anymore.”
Leah looked at the nest again and rummaged through it, finding another yellow feather.
“What’s here?” Ashley asked, before realization crept over her. She gasped. “Are those…?”
It was silent for the next few minutes as Chandelle, Leah, and Ashley went around the room, picking up all the feathers they could find. Not all of them were in good condition, but the ones that were got put in Chandelle’s bag for safekeeping. Only Leah kept one at hand, unable to let it go.
Not wanting to wait, she used her bottled water to rinse the feather off, drying it off with her shirt. The edges might have been sharp at a time long ago, but now they felt soft under her fingertips.
There were no protests from Ashley when Chandelle declared they were leaving and after a quick hop over the fence, they were on their way to the Pokemon Center.
Leah had hardly noticed the last time they went outside, but they really must have been in the power plant for hours. It was getting dark out and it looked like it was going to rain again.
A while later, Ashley asked, “… Is training always dangerous like that? Do Pokemon attack people?”
“Sometimes,” Leah said, too busy examining her feather to really pay attention.
Ashley sighed “I really wish I caught something. Now I won’t get another chance for one.”
“Do you need an electric-type? Go train a Pidgey or something. They work for beginners.”
“It’ll take too long and I need something strong now so I can go on my journey.”
“If you’re not on your journey, who’s looking after you?” Chandelle asked.
Leah rolled her eyes, telling Chandelle, “Don’t bother, she won’t tell me.”
“Don’t talk about me like I’m not here.” Ashley frowned “I’m not a kid.”
“You sure look like one.”
Ashley’s eyes flashed and her face reddened. “Don’t judge me based on that!” she hissed.
Not put out by Ashley’s temper, Chandelle asked, “Are you a runaway?”
“Are you planning to get your guardian’s permission to go on a journey?”
There was some hesitating. “Yes.”
“What’s that noise for?”
Chandelle seemed satisfied with the given answers as she turned away from them.
Leah, however, wasn’t.
“When are you going back to Lavender?”
“… Me?” Ashley asked.
“When I get a Pokemon!”
“Are you going to get picked up or are you going to go back on your own?”
“I’m waiting, I guess.”
Leah raised an eyebrow. “You guess?”
“It’s complicated, okay?”
“… Okay, whatever.” Leah mirrored Chandelle and went back to brooding over the feather.
The rest of the trip back went smoothly, and once at the doors of the Pokemon Center, Ashley stopped them before they went inside.
“Uh, thanks for coming with me to the power plant,” Ashley said, rubbing the back of her head. “I- It wouldn’t have gone well if I went by myself.”
“Just don’t try to capture any Pokemon by yourself, okay?” Leah said.
“That’ll be hard. Usually no one wants to help me.”
“Trainers don’t really come to this Pokemon Center. I think it’s because it’s getting colder. No one really travels in weather like this.”
“I’m going inside.” Chandelle said.
“All right,” Leah said, pausing before adding, “Thanks for coming.”
Chandelle blinked, and then nodded at her before leaving Leah and Ashley alone.
“So, I guess you’re leaving tomorrow,” Ashley said.
Ashley fidgeted. “I’ve been thinking…” she started. “I don’t really want to stay here anymore and I don’t know when my parents will come get me. I want to go home and since you’re going that way…”
“… You want to come with me?” Leah asked.
“Yeah.” She quickly added, “Only to Lavender, I swear!”
Frowning, Leah said, “My Pokemon can barely protect me, much less you.”
“Your friend’s coming too, right? Her Pokemon was pretty powerful.”
Leah didn’t know what to say or think. Not that she had been journeying long, but she didn’t think anyone would ask to come with her.
Deciding to play the safe option, she said, “If you want to come, go ask Chandelle. I’m following her.”
Lips splitting into a wide grin, Ashley’s eyes sparkled as a weight seemed to be lifted off her shoulders.
“Thanks! Don’t worry, I won’t be annoying!” She looked at the Pokemon Center’s doors. “I better go get packing, then!”
‘You haven’t even asked Chandelle yet,’ Leah thought with a bit of disbelief. She didn’t think Chandelle would say no, but it was possible.
“Oh, and, uh, Leah…”
Glancing over, Leah saw that the blond had calmed down, looking a bit embarrassed.
“I thought you were really brave when facing that Magneton,” she confessed. “And I can tell you really care about your Pokemon. You didn’t even think, you just caught your Sandslash out of that tree… I don’t think I’d be able to do that.”
If being asked to escort Ashley to Lavender Town didn’t bow Leah over, that did.
“… T- Thanks,” she managed to get out.
Ashley’s face brightened. “No problem!”
With a skip in her step, the blond entered the Pokemon Center and left Leah alone.
After a moment, Leah took a deep breath in and then exhaled.
Back at the power plant, she wasn’t trying to be brave. And she hadn’t faced the Magneton alone, not really. Sands and Zee had been with her and they could have died from her stupidity. She had always called Ed and Ally morons, but she was the biggest one of all. Maybe catching Sands from a great height seemed brave to any outside onlookers, but it really wasn’t. All she had been trying to do was… her duty. She didn’t like calling herself a trainer, but it was her job to keep her Pokemon from getting hurt, especially from her own actions.
The whole day hadn’t gone well at all. If her adventure kept going in that direction, she might have to reconsider the adventures all together. Nothing good ever came out of them…
Leah looked at the yellow feather.
Well, maybe sometimes.
To think something as soft as this had once been a part of a creature that was so entwined in myths and legends it may as well be one of a kind. A Pokemon so rare that only once had it ever been captured on film and that was only a glance of a yellow bird in the sky.
Did the feather really belong to…?
It didn’t matter. Not right then and there. Her Pokemon were hurt and needed treatment and then she wanted to get some sleep. It had been a long day. Tomorrow, they would go to Lavender Town and Leah almost hoped that nothing would happen, that it would just be a regular day.
It was a pipe dream, but it was nice to think about.
The clouds rumbled and drops of water plopped onto the ground, and in minutes, a steady downfall was quickly soaking the earth.
Leah watched from under the overhang and sighed.
A gloomy end to a gloomy day.
A/N: The ending may have dragged on a bit, but I rather like this chapter. It wasn’t as difficult like some other chapters are. *glares at chapter 47* Anyways, I have two questions for you guys.
First, you’ve probably noticed, but I’ve been doing some weird stuff with Sands’ gender for the last few chapters. He’s been primarily an it, but sometimes he’s a he again (he’s only referred to as a he when Leah is thinking about him instead of describing his actions). I’m just wondering if this is confusing to you and if I should stop and pick one of the other.
Now for a much more general question, what are your thoughts on Ashley and Chandelle?
Thanks for reading guys and I hoped you liked the chapter!
September 10th, 2010 (11:42 PM).
Sands is fine as a he/it. I am not having any issues following whats going on.
As for Ashley and Chandelle.
Ashley: Sounds like Ally and Ed had a kid in the future, then some how manged to send her back in time just to annoy Leah. xD. Honestly though, Ashley does sound a lot like Ed and Ally, she is calm and caring like Ally, but also has a curious streak that could easily get her in trouble like Ed.
Chandelle: IMO what Leah wants to be. She knows about Pokemon, enjoys having them, but does not fit into the "Trainer" category, whether Leah could ever sell a Pokemon is something I am not sure of yet, but I think the mentor just got a mentor.
I think I need another chapter to get a better understand of the two,
I really need a new signature.
September 13th, 2010 (1:57 PM).
Thanks for reviewing, Buoysel! Sorry it took a few days to get back to you; university started and it’s like, ugh.
I’m glad the he/it thing isn’t too confusing. It’s something I’ve been worrying about recently, especially since I myself sometimes forget to refer Sands as an ‘it’ during combat. I used to have so much trouble making sure that I referred my characters’ Pokemon with a gender that now I can’t stop. -.-
Heh, Ashley’s starting to grow on me quite a bit and I agree that she seems to be naturally good at annoying Leah. You’re also right in that Chandelle is the type of person that Leah wants to be, which I didn’t realize until you pointed it out. Luckily, Ashley and Chandelle are going to have lots more time to develop, which I’m definitely look forward too. ;D
October 2nd, 2010 (8:00 PM).
A/N: Whoa, when was the last time I had an A/N at the top of the chapter? Anyways, just a little note, this chapter is a bit weird in that it skews the timeline. I always write this story in chronological order, but the first scene of this chapter takes place the night before Leah and new groupies explore the power plant. Just a heads up since this might actually be a little important later on.
Oh, and insert violence warning here. Let me present to you my most violent chapter ever, guys! :D I hope you enjoy!
Chapter 49: Of Bone and Blood
“There’s nothing here,” Ed said, hardly being able to hear his words over the rain.
Ally shivered, pressing against him as she tried to stay under the umbrella. “Maybe we’ll find something soon?”
It didn’t look like it. The two of them had been out in the rain for what felt like hours, looking for any possible sign of a ghost. The sudden rainfall had hardly deterred them, but when the roads and sky were black and the only light came from the streetlamps, it seemed impossible to find anything.
Ed had viewed the rumors of Lavender Town’s dark past with nothing but curiosity and excitement. The stories were scary and that’s why he liked them. However, there was a difference between thinking about them while being nice and cozy at home than walking around at night.
On either side of them, the stores and buildings were dark and empty, and there wasn’t a soul outside, not even an occasional passing car.
They had left the Pokemon Center at nine-O-clock sharp, a perfect starting time to look for ghosts, but not even ten minutes after stepping outside the excitement over their ghost hunt had wore off. With the rain, they were unable to send any Pokemon out. Amber didn’t like water, Ally didn’t want Sparks to accidently wander off, Parasect was too slow, and Coralie wasn’t much use at all these days.
Ed found himself glancing around himself, not out of determination to find ghosts, but more out of fear. He didn’t know what he was afraid of, but walking around at night wasn’t the thrill he expected it to be.
Yawning, Ally said, “I’m really tried…”
“Me too,” Ed said, though it was only a half-truth. He was tired, but he kept getting a jolt of alertness whenever he heard a sound that wasn’t the rain. Nothing had appeared or tried to attack them, but he was starting to wonder if that was a good thing or not.
“Where are all the ghosts?” he said. “I thought Lavender Town was supposed to be full of them!”
“Maybe it’s not dark enough?”
“It’s must be nearly midnight! Perfect ghost hunting time.”
Ally had nothing to say to that, and they trekked on.
It wasn’t even five minutes later when Ally took in a sharp breath and pointed into the distance.
“Look, the lights are on at the tower!”
Ed tilted the umbrella so he could see where Ally was pointing and felt his heart speed up.
When they had first arrived in Lavender Town, the place they wanted to catch ghost Pokemon in was the Pokemon Tower. Unfortunately, they were told that the Pokemon Tower didn’t let people in to just catch ghost-types. The place was on sacred grounds and acted both as a church and a funeral home to the people.
The tower stood tall at the very edge of town and even from the other side of it, Ed could still see the small pinpricks of light, looking out of place on a gloomy night.
“Maybe someone lives there?” he said and then scowled. “I wish we could go inside. I bet all the ghosts are in there.”
“We’re not allowed.”
“I know, but… We need a ghost-type to beat Sabrina.”
Ed felt Ally shift at his side. “It’s a church and a graveyard!” she said sharply, lowering her voice. “We can’t go in there.”
“Why not?” he asked, finally voicing the idea he had been playing with for the past hour. “If we sneak in no one will know.”
Ally sounded uncomfortable as she stuttered, “B- but…”
Stopping, Ed looked at the tower’s light and then back at his friend. “Come on, Ally. It’s okay; I bet tons of people have done it.”
“… If someone does find us, they’ll be really angry,” she whispered.
“We can do it. I know we can.” Ed hoped he sounded convincing as he didn’t feel that confident either, but what other choice did they have? He didn’t want to walk around at night on the off chance of finding a ghost Pokemon.
They began walking again, Ally taking her turn holding the umbrella without comment.
“What’s wrong?” Ed asked.
Voice barely audible over the rain, she said, “It’s wrong to trespass…”
“Are you scared that someone will recognize us or something?”
“... No, it’s not that.”
“We can put out hoods on, if you want,” he said. “We’re fast. If someone see’s us, we can run away and they won’t be able to find us later.”
Ally shook her head. “I just- I really don’t like ghost-types.”
“Oh, is that it?” Ed felt a bit stupid for not realizing that sooner. It wasn’t the first time that she admitted that she didn’t like ghost-types, after all. “I’ll protect you. You can count on me.”
“But you can’t fight ghosts! They can be invisible and go through things. How can we fight that?”
It was a good question. How could they fight that?
For all their talk about wanting to capture a ghost-type, Ed didn’t know much about them. They were just… ghosts. He never had a reason to question that further. People caught them before, though Ed had never met anyone who had. William once said that he tried to catch a ghost, but he couldn’t. There were really rare and when he watched the last Indigo Tournament, he could only remember seeing three of them out of all the battles!
Even if they did find a ghost right then and there, he wasn’t sure what they could do to it when it was raining.
They needed more information.
“I have an idea,” he said. “Let’s go back to the Pokemon Center and tomorrow, we’ll look up ghosts on the internet and in books. We can find a way to fight them and tomorrow night we can go to Pokemon Tower.”
Ally was quiet for only a moment. “What if our Pokemon still can’t fight them?”
“They should be able to!” A piece of information, long forgotten in his memory suddenly came to the forefront of his mind. “Oh! I just remembered! William once said that you could use a special Poke Ball to catch ghosts.”
“I don’t remember but I’m sure we can find out!”
Slowly, Ally nodded her head. “All right.”
“… So, do you want to go back to the Pokemon Center?”
Ally sounded relieved. “Yes. I’ve never stayed up this late before.”
“Me either! I hope we catch a ghost tomorrow so we don’t have to do it again!”
The next day went by quickly and before they knew it, sundown was upon them. The rain had rarely stopped throughout the day, but still, Ed couldn’t help but scowl at the sky as he put on his jacket.
Ally was already prepared and spent her time playing with the strange black and green Poke Ball in her hands. Finally, she said, “What if we miss?”
“We won’t,” he said. “I’ve been practicing my aim. If you want, I can throw your Dusk Ball for you.
Ally’s reply was firm. “No. I want to do it myself.”
The departed from the Pokemon Center and put their hoods over their heads. They had decided against bringing an umbrella as they would be sneaking around and holding something would just distract them. It wasn’t raining as hard as it was last night, at least, but it was still not kind to them. Soon, water was trickling off the edges of their jackets and hems of Ed’s pants were soaked.
It was a twenty minutes walk to Pokemon Tower and it seemed every step they took darkened the sky until the only the tiniest light came from the horizon. Ed looked on either side of him, watching the stores close and their lights turn off.
Even before dinner, Ed and Ally had talked out their plan for getting inside Pokemon Tower. It wasn’t going to be easy but Ed figured that someone had to leave a window open somewhere. It was a big tower, after all. Maybe they would even go through the front door. It all depended on if someone was inside or not. Either way, it was their best bet to get to the tower early, when it was still light out, so they could get there okay. Then, they’d hide and wait for an opportunity.
The road to the tower was lonely with only few streetlights keeping it company. It led the two of them to the very edges of town, where buildings were exchanged for short, bristly trees.
The tower came into view and while it wasn’t the first time Ed had saw it, the place was still pretty cool. It sat on a hill, against the mountain side, stone steps leading up to its entrance. The tower itself looked gray-purple, and was made up of nothing but brick and wood. It looked like part of a castle or even a lighthouse. To the other side of it was a parking lot, looking almost empty in the little that Ed could see.
“Where are we going to hide?” Ally asked.
Ed pointed at the trees and bushes behind him. “No one will see us there.”
“Are you sure?”
“Look at it!” Ed said. “It’s so shadowy, no will can see through it!”
It wasn’t like a forest or anything, but there were enough trees to resemble the small forest-y area at the back of Ed’s house. Shadows draped on the trees like spider-webs, rendering the whole place black.
Carefully, they hid amongst the trees, getting into a position to see the door on the tower. They were right by the road so even if they couldn’t see anyone leaving, they would definitely be able to hear them.
It was a long wait, the rain being lousy company as the two of them didn’t want people to hear them talking. Every once and a while someone left the tower and went to the parking lot to drive off.
Ally pressed her mouth against Ed’s ear and whispered, “When are we going to go in?”
Ed checked his watch, bending down so no one could see the light. It was nearly nine-thirty.
“We’ll wait another half-hour,” he said. “We’ll go in at ten.”
As the half-hour that passed, only two other people came out of the tower, and eventually Ed felt confident enough that no one else was going to come out.
Except for one thing…
“There’s someone still in there,” Ally said, looking at the lit windows. “There has to be!”
Ed stifled his yawn and pulled away from the trees. “Let’s go take a look.”
“Maybe we should wait some more-” Ally cut herself off as she pushed back a particularly grabby bush. “It’s still early.”
“We’re just taking a peak.”
Ed waited for Ally to catch up and then they climbed the stairs, the rain and lack of light making it difficult. When they made it to the top, Ed approached the front doors. There was a tiny window in each of them, a gentle yellow light coming from within.
Unfortunately, he had a few problems with the windows.
“Can’t you see?”
“I’m too short!” Ed said, growling, jumping up and down. Why were the windows so high on the door? “And I can’t jump high enough.”
Ally shushed him, “Be quiet!”
“Then why don’t you try?”
They switched places, Ally finding she had more luck in height as she stood on her tip-toes, and with a bit of jumping, she was able to see in.
“Do you see anyone?”
“I don’t think so…” she said.
Making sure his hood was secure, Ed glanced around one last time before grabbing the door handle. “Then let’s go inside.”
His eyes still wasn’t used to the light, so he winced as he entered the front room. Ally quietly shut the door while Ed shivered, liking how heated the inside was.
Other than that, there wasn’t much to the room. It was small and there was an empty front desk beside the door. There was another door, Ed peaking in it to see a large darkened room.
“I think it’s a church,” Ally said, looking over his shoulder.
Ed closed that door and went to the staircase, hidden to the side of the front desk.
“Ready?” Ed asked, grasping the banister and testing the front wooden step.
Ally joined him. “Yes,” she said, though she didn’t seem that convinced.
The next floor was quite different.
“Creepy…” Ed said, staying close by the door as Ally gaped at the sight.
The room was full of gravestones. They were a variety of sizes and shapes, but there was no mistaking them for anything else. Worse, the gravestones could have been hedges for a maze as there were walkways branching out throughout the room. If they weren’t gravestones, Ed would be convinced it was a museum. On the other side of the room was another staircase.
“I- I don’t like this,” Ally whispered, grabbing Ed’s hand. “I really don’t like this.”
Ed didn’t either, but he didn’t show it. “They’re just gravestones,” he said, squeezing Ally’s hand and smiling at her. “There’re no bodies.”
“Bodies don’t matter,” she said, but she was the one who led the way through the maze of graves. Other than their hand grasping each others, they kept their arms at their side, not touching anything.
From above, there was a thump.
Both of them froze.
After a minute of panicked silence, Ally managed to get out, “W- What was that?”
“Maybe you should send out Amber,” Ed said, his free hand going for his own Pokemon.
Ally let go of Ed’s hand to fumble with her bag and her hand was shaking as she brought out Amber’s Poke Ball.
She hesitated. “The Poke Ball makes a loud noise. Someone’s going to hear us.”
There was another thump, this time right above their heads. Before they could even respond or devise a plan, a series of thumps followed a small body that jumped down the stairs on the other side of the room and onto the ground in front of them.
It was as big as a kid and Ed thought it was at first, but the white skull head quickly changed his mind. The Pokemon didn’t make a move towards them, but kept its eyes on them and held its bone weapon tightly in one hand.
“Is that a Marowak?” Ed whispered, pretending that the Pokemon still hadn’t seen them.
“I- I thought only ghost Pokemon lived here,” Ally said. “What do we do?”
Ed hesitated. “We’ll go past it.”
“But it’s watching us!”
“Maybe…” He wanted to send out one of his own Pokemon, but as soon as the thought occurred to him, he knew that it would never work. Parasect was too slow and Coralie wouldn’t be able to fight on such short notice.
Ally shook her head, backing up past Ed. “Let’s leave. It probably belongs to someone here.”
The Marowak wasn’t doing anything, so Ed was forced to agree.
Finally, Ed said, “All right.” He turned around.
Then the Marowak attacked.
Ed saw Ally’s eyes widen and the sound of footsteps raced towards him. He half-turned, the bright red eyes of the Pokemon bearing into his. A Poke Ball flew past his head and released Amber into the quickly closing gap between them. The Vulpix growled, flames licking the side of his mouth, and the Marowak readied his weapon.
“Marowak!” a man’s voice called out.
The Pokemon skid to a halt, feet from the Vulpix.
At the base of the staircase stood an old man in white and red robes with a balding head of gray. “Marowak, what are you doing?” he said, frowning at the ground-type. “Leave these poor children alone.”
The Marowak glared at Ed and Ally one more time before going over to the old man and standing at his side. A head poked out from behind the old man’s robes, looking like a miniature version of the Marowak. It squeaked, “Bone!” and gave the Marowak a great big hug.
Ed stared at the Cubone, almost missing the old man’s question.
“And who are you?” he asked them.
Ally looked like she was going to bolt and Ed searched the man’s face, looking for any sign at what to do. He didn’t seem angry that they were trespassing.
“…We just want to catch a ghost Pokemon.”
“Ed!” Ally sounded horrified.
The old man, however, wasn’t bothered. “Oh, is that all?”
“Are we in trouble?” Ed asked.
The old man shook his head. “No, no, it’s common for trainers to come looking for ghost Pokemon. I just didn’t expect anyone this early. Ghosts are most common at the witching hour.”
Ally swallowed. “I- I thought no one was allowed in here.”
“That’s correct, but I sometimes make exceptions for trainers. I know how rare ghost Pokemon are, after all. Lavender Town is the only city in Kanto that has such a big colony.”
The old man’s calm tone and sympathetic words took away any tension and dread Ed was feeling. He lowered his hood, noticing Ally following his lead.
“Then it’ll be a while before they show up?” Ed asked.
“Yes, though maybe if you’re lucky a few will come out early.”
Ally looked at Ed. “What do we do now?”
“You’re welcome to stay if you wish,” the old man said.
“Yes, though I advise you not to touch any of the headstones. Ghosts can be very peculiar about them.”
Ally inched away from a gravestone as the old man helped the Cubone back up the steps.
“Where are you going?” Ed asked at his turning back.
“I am about to put souls to rest,” he replied. After a moment, he added, “Would you like to watch?”
Ed couldn’t keep the doubt out his voice. “You put souls to rest?”
“Um…” Ally took a step forward, fidgeting. “I- I’d like to watch.”
Frowning, Ed felt a bit annoyed at his friend. They were there to catch a Pokemon, not to watch… whatever the old man was going to do. He was glad that the old man wasn’t mad at them, but still…
“What about you, young man?”
Ed didn’t really have an option. “Sure…”
“My name is Mr. Fuji,” the old man told them, and then continued his way up the stairs. “Follow me.”
Ed wanted to say something to Ally, but she had already gone on ahead, making him sigh before joining her.
The next floor up was exactly the same as the last one and as Fuji led the way, he began talking.
“You’ve both been trainers for a while, I presume?”
“Yes, since July,” Ally said.
“Four months… That’s a long time.”
“It’s been a long time!” Sometimes, Ed could hardly believe it had only been a few months since he left Fuchsia for Pallet Town. So much had happened.
Ally asked, “Are you a trainer?”
“In my younger days I dabbled a bit, but I much prefer a quiet life.”
Ed glanced at the two Pokemon beside the old man.
“Is the Marowak and Cubone yours?”
“No, no,” Fuji said, shaking his head, “I don’t technically own them. In my spare time I run a shelter for abandoned Pokemon and that’s where these two came from.”
“Then why are they here?”
“Not everyone is as polite and courteous as you two. Sometimes young folk from out of town like to cause trouble, so Marowak here protects the tower.”
“Wak,” the Marowak agreed, a swagger seemingly entering its walk.
“So he’s trained?”
“She,” the old man corrected. “And yes, she’s quite trained, though I’m not sure of her history. I found her wandering around Lavender with her son without a trainer in sight, so I took them both in.”
Before they reached the stairs a woman almost looking nearly as old as Fuji hurried down them, wearing white robes and carrying a purse under her arm. When she saw them, she slowed her pace and a blush graced her pale features.
“Going home, Victoria?” Fuji said.
The woman nodded. “Yes, sir.” She glanced at Ed and Ally, a line of worry appearing on her forehead. “But before I go, may I talk to you for a moment?”
“Certainly.” The old man looked at the kids. “Wait right here, this shouldn’t take too long.”
The woman looked really worried and Ed felt a spark of curiosity at what could be wrong. As the two walked some distance away, he glanced at Ally and quietly followed them, ignoring her sound of protest. He pretended he was looking at the gravestones as he got closer to their position, but kept an ear on their conversation.
“I’m really worried, sir,” the woman said. “They’re everywhere and I have a really bad feeling about this-”
“I have seen groups like these before and they don’t seem to mean any harm-”
“I’ve seen them too!” The woman’s voice quieted. “I- I’m sorry, sir, but these people aren’t like the ones from before. I can tell whether someone is a hoodlum or not, but these people don’t act like that at all and that’s what worries me! Please here me out.”
“… What have you seen?”
“I haven’t seen them do anything, but even you must have seen how they act! They’re always hanging around the tower and watching. I can’t help but notice them every time I enter and exit this place. There’s so many of them that whenever I walk around town, all I see is people wearing those red badges-”
“You don’t have to fear them. They are not going to harm you.”
“Why are they here, sir?” Victoria whispered. “They’ve been here for a week and I know they must be planning something terrible-”
“Victoria.” Fuji interrupted gently. “If it bothers you that much, I will talk to the police and investigate in the morning.”
There was silence after those words and then the woman said, “T- Thank you, sir!”
“Now, I think it’s time for you to go home. You must be tired.”
Ed, seeing that the conversation was over, casually went back to Ally, just able to hear the woman’s reply.
“Yes. Thank you again, sir, and have a good night.”
Ally looked up as he approached. “What’s going on?” she asked.
“Tell you later.”
Fuji returned, his eyes meeting Ed’s only for a second before he looked away.
“Who was she?” Ally asked the old man.
“Victoria? She is my associate.”
“She looked scared…” Ed said, his mind racing. He and Ally had only been in Lavender Town for two days, but he had never seen any weird people around. Well, maybe that was because he had been inside studying all of that morning, and the day before they were mostly in the Pokemon Center too.
Fuji looked sad. “Yes.”
The old man led then up the next two floors in relative silence.
Ally was the one who broke it. “How do you put souls to rest?”
“A prayer with a few words from the heart,” Fuji said, his voice honest.
The old man chuckled. “You sound a touch disbelieving. Yes, it does seem simple, but it is more complicated then that. When a Pokemon dies, their soul is trapped in their body and must be released and put to rest. Their soul can be released simply by burning or destroying the body, but if not put to rest, their soul becomes angry and malevolent.”
“So they turn into ghosts?”
“Not the ghosts you are thinking of. Have you ever been walking, and for no reason at all, suddenly became very depressed or angry?”
Ed just looked ahead blankly.
“That is what those ‘ghosts’ do. They may inhabit a specific place, maybe the site of their death. They are never corporeal or really sentient, but their emotions are still there, having no where to go but to affect the people around them.”
Ed was no stranger to theories about ghosts. He had stumbled upon several of them that morning, in fact. But it was the first time someone was discussing one with him in real life. If his theory was true, then did all Pokemon turn into ghosts when they died? Wouldn’t that mean there were ghosts everywhere? And what happened to humans when they died? Would he turn into a ghost Pokemon eventually?
That would be pretty cool, actually, but it still left him feeling weird and out of place.
Ally, however, didn’t seem to be out of place at all. She was smiling for the first time that night.
“What if a soul isn’t released from their body?” she asked.
“That would be very hard to do,” Fuji said. “Even when buried completely intact, the body decomposes and is destroyed, releasing the soul. The only way it could really be trapped is if the body was frozen in ice or unable to get out of a Poke Ball.”
Now Ed and Ally were on the same level as they glanced at each, their faces a bit green. Ally frowned, her eyebrows knit together.
Fuji noticed Ally’s behavior and both of their faces as he stopped. “Oh, I’m sorry. Am I disturbing you?”
“No,” she said slowly, “it’s really interesting, but…
“We’ll speak no more of it,” Fuji said as they began walking again. “Why don’t you two tell me of your journeys so far?”
The talk lasted another two floors before they reached the final one. This floor was unlike the other, resembling the first floor somewhat. It was divided into rooms, Fuji going through one of the doors that led to a small chamber. It was a weird room, maybe even more so than the ones with the graves as there were strange pieces of papers stuck to the walls and windows. An altar stood at the very front of the room with a lidded pot and a book sitting on top of it. Other than that, the room was mostly bare, though Ed noticed there was a large safe-like object in the corner that was covered in a dusty, pink drape.
Fuji walked up the altar.
“This is where I put souls of Pokemon to rest.”
“A – Are there bodies up here?” Ally asked.
“No, no, the body has already been cremated,” the old man said, putting his hand on the pot. “All that is left to do is say a prayer and hope for the best.”
He smiled. “You’ll see.”
Ed and Ally stood back and watched as Fuji took the lid off the pot and placed it in the middle of the altar. He took the book, flipping it open to a bookmarked page, and read from it. Ed didn’t recognize the verse, but Ally seemed to as she clasped her hands in front of her and bowed her head. Not sure if he was supposed to do that too, Ed simply lowered his head.
A thump made Ed look up. Fuji had put the book down and the pot now had a strange wisp of smoke floating out of it.
“… Are you done?” Ed asked, making Ally open her eyes.
“Yes. Do you notice the smoke?”
Ally walked closer. “What is it?”
“When put to rest, a soul either disappears into the earth, becoming part of it, or it condenses into something new. It doesn’t happen quickly but maybe in a few days or a week, this bit of smoke will take shape in a ghost Pokemon.”
Now Ed joined Ally and they both looked at the smoke.
“That’s a Pokemon?” Ally asked, awe in her voice.
“It will be.”
Ed reached out to touch it, but hesitated, and decided not to. “I thought ghost Pokemon weren’t actual ghosts,” he said. “That’s what our… friend said, that they’re only a mix of gasses.”
“It hasn’t been proven what ghost Pokemon are or where they come from,” Fuji explained. “I have heard many theories regarding them, though I choose to believe that ghost Pokemon were once regular Pokemon, born again into a ghost.”
“Then what happens to ghosts when they die?”
“Ghosts do not die, I’ve found. They only disappear or fade away.”
Ed shivered, as Fuji put the lid back on the jar and pushed it aside.
“… Where are all the ghosts?” Ed asked, if only to get the conversation off that weird topic.
“Ghosts are always around, even when you can’t see or feel them. There are hundreds of ghosts that live here.”
Ed looked around. “Does that mean the ghosts are here right now?” He swiped at the air, imagining that he just touched a ghost.
Fuji chuckled. “No, no.” He grinned. “Well, not up here, in any case. I’ve had trouble with mischievous ghosts in the past that liked to interfere with my prayers and rituals, so I’ve warded this floor against them. They can’t come up here.”
“Ward? Like magic?”
“A bit, yes.” He motioned to the strange tags on the walls, windows, and doors. “Spell tags are, let’s say, enchanted by psychic Pokemon to stop Pokemon from going past them. They’re quite useful.”
It was much later when Ed and Ally left the ‘holy room’, Fuji and his Pokemon behind them. It was nearly two in the morning and no matter how much Ed yawned there was a well of excitement in him that was waiting to burst.
Ghost-types were finally going to come out! He had been waiting for hours.
Ally held up the Dusk Ball to Fuji. “Will this work on ghosts?”
“I see you two have come prepared,” he said, smiling. “It’s common for trainers to come here without bringing the proper materials. Do you know how to catch a ghost?”
“Yeah.” Ed nodded. “They need to go solid to attack, so we need to get one angry and then I’m going to use my Parasect to Spore it.”
“I advise not. Not many people know, but when sleeping, ghosts are invisible and intangible. You won’t be able to catch it if you do that.”
It wasn’t the first time that night, but Ed was glad that they had met Fuji. He knew so much about ghosts and Ed bet that he now knew more about ghosts than even William!
Ally said to Ed, “If we can’t use Spore, I can just get Sparks to shock it-”
She was cut off as all of them stopped. At the other staircase, a group of people had wandered up, cloaked in black with hoods drawn over their faces. Each one of them had a red badge over their left chest and while they were hard to see, Ed recognized them. They looked identical to the one he still had in his bag, the one in the shape of an R.
“Who are you?” Fuji said, not unfriendly, but Marowak uttered a low sound as she took a few steps forward.
“Are you the owner of this tower?” one of them said, voice light and feminine, as she walked closer to them.
“Yes. I am Takashi Fuji. Who are you?”
Instead of replying, the cloaked figure took out a Poke Ball and released a Pokemon between them. It was a black dog, bone-like stripes sticking out of its back and had two horns curling on top of its head. The evil-looking creature even acted like its appearance, a rumble coming out its throat as it showed fangs.
Taking that as a bad sign, Marowak got in front of Fuji. Feeling a weight on his leg, Ed saw Cubone pressing against it, his eyes widened in fear.
“Where is the Ghost Plate?” the woman asked.
Fuji said nothing, but he clenched his fists, knuckles white.
“We know that it’s here,” she continued. “Now where is it?”
“Who are you?” Fuji demanded.
“We are Team Rocket.”
A hand enveloped his, and Ed looked over to meet Ally’s gaze.
He didn’t know who Team Rocket was, but they were definitely bad news. Why else would they dress like that? They were threatening Mr. Fuji with Pokemon and Ed wanted to send out his own to fight. But he couldn’t. Even if he had powerful Pokemon, he didn’t know what that weird dog Pokemon could do and even then, it was only one Pokemon from one person. What was stopping all of the other black-cloaked people from sending out theirs?
He didn’t want to just do nothing, but what else could he do?
“You won’t have it,” Fuji finally said, and his eyes hardened. “Marowak, Bone Rush!”
Her starting to glow green, Marowak lunged, wielding her weapon like a club. The dog Pokemon jumped aside from the first swing and then craned its neck forward, jaws just missing the ground-type. Marowak was quick, bringing its weapon down again, but the strange Pokemon was faster, the bone hitting the floor with a smash.
“We should help!” Ally said, going for her Poke Balls.
Before Ed could state his own opinion, the lead black-cloaked member nodded at her team and they dispersed. A couple went back downstairs, but the majorly went towards them, going around the battle.
The approaching strangers made Ed panic and his eyes darted to the staircase, wondering if he could make it. Ally took out a Poke Ball, about to throw it. However one of the Rockets darted forward, grabbing her wrist and making her cry out in pain as she dropped the ball. Both Ed and Fuji went to intervene, but they were grabbed too and Ed glared at the hand that clamped down on his shoulder. Cubone tried to flee, but he was picked up and crushed against someone’s chest, a large hand over his mouth.
“Don’t treat him like that!” Ed exclaimed, hearing the muffled cries of the Cubone. The hand on his shoulder tightened and he winced, staying still.
More black-cloaked members streamed past them and their footsteps echoed on the stairs.
“You don’t know what you’re doing!” Fuji exclaimed, struggling, but unable to break free.
“We know exactly what we want,” the woman replied.
The battle was still ongoing, but Marowak was obviously distracted, its head constantly turning in its owner’s direction.
“Stay focused, Marowak!” Fuji said.
Fire licked the dog Pokemon’s mouth as it tried to bite down on the ground-type, but the Pokemon was taking Fuji’s words to heart, leaping back from the bite and brining its bone down upon the fire-type’s head. The dog whined, backing up.
“Houndoom,” the woman said. “Flamethrower!”
Fuji turned white.
“No, not in here-”
Even from meters away, the blast of fire was still burning hot. As soon as it came out of the dog Pokemon’s mouth it shaped itself into a star, brighter than the ones in the sky. Marowak dove out of the way and the graves were set ablaze as the fire continued on, hitting the wall and exploding. Yellow embers crackled like fire works, raining down all over the room and Ed went to the ground, forcing the man holding him to go with him.
The fire burned and sizzled and the wall happily burning as everyone uncurled from whatever position they were in, shaken into silence.
The woman, the only one who had stayed standing during the explosion, crossed her arms and sighed. “I said Flamethrower, Houndoom,” she said to her Pokemon. “Not Fire Blast.”
Ed was dragged to his feet as the man seemingly in charge of him stood. “Jesus, woman,” he growled to the Houndoom’s trainer. “Are you stupid? Don’t use fire here.”
“Shut up, Don,” the woman said with contempt in her voice. “Everything’s okay. Look, the fire’s already going down.”
The fire was doing just that and Ed watched them. Flames that once reached far over Ed’s head were getting smaller and smaller, and they withered and crackled in a struggle to stay burning.
“Houndoom, let’s try this again!” the woman snapped. “Flamethrower.”
Marowak ducked the stream of fire, staying on her feet as closed in on the fire-type and hit it in the face with his bone. The Houndoom growled, charged forward, and snapped its jaw over the bone. The ground-type’s eyes widening, she grabbed onto her weapon with both hands and pulled, the battle turning into a tug-of-war.
While Marowak was agile, she struggled to hold onto the bone, the Houndoom jerking her from side to side. At a particularly sudden jerk, she let go and was thrown to the ground. With barely any effort, the fire-type looked at its foe and snapped the bone, letting the pieces fall. Not knowing what to do, Marowak backed away from the Pokemon.
“Marowak!” Fuji said. “Thrash!”
The Houndoom came closer to its prey, thin tail swishing, but just before it lunged, Marowak attacked. She used no weapons or special maneuvers; she only used the rest of her strength and power to destroy. Head butting the fire-type in the face, she grabbed her foe’s head and smashed it into a grave. The Houndoom tried to fight back, but every time it tried to regain its footing, Marowak threw it off balance again.
Watching her Pokemon getting beaten back, the woman said, “That’s enough, Houndoom. Get back, Ember, then Crunch.”
Distracted by the small ball of fire, Marowak didn’t see it coming until she felt the fangs dig into her stomach. She howled, struggling, but the Houndoom lifted her in the air like a rabbit, jaw clamped around her middle.
“Hey!” Ed shouted, but any other words of outrage died in his throat.
Blood leaked out of the Houndoom’s mouth and the dog Pokemon shook its head, making blood splatter on the ground. It was like how a dog would shake a stuffed animal, fur and stitches being ripped open as stuffing flew out. But the stuffing was red and wet, the Houndoom wasn’t a dog, and the Marowak didn’t have the silence of a toy. Her cries went on.
There was a crunch, a crack of bone, and the Marowak went silent, slumping like the toy she shouldn’t have been.
In the back of his mind, Ed heard Fuji make a little sound that could have been a sob, but he didn’t comprehend it. His eyes were glued to Marowak and his eyes followed after her as she dropped from Houndoom’s jaws. She didn’t move, but blood still leaked out of the wounds, brighter and redder than Ed ever thought blood was.
There were footsteps behind him as the black-cloaked members returned from upstairs.
“We have it,” one declared and his voice was close enough that it broke through the haze of Ed’s mind and he turned his head. Held in both of the Rocket’s hands was a square-shaped object, wrapped in white cloth.
Ed looked at the Ghost Plate, looking small and thin, and then looked back at Marowak, who died trying to protect it… Protect them.
With strength he didn’t know he had, he pushed the man holding him back, and with a cry, ran at the guy holding the Plate. One of the quicker Rocket members tried to grab him, but he ducked under the arms and grabbed the object out of surprised hands. The Plate was lighter than he thought it was, almost like an empty cardboard box, but when he held it close to his chest it was as hard as stone.
There was no movement in the ranks of the Rockets. Everyone was looking at him as he stood close to the staircase with the object everyone wanted in his arms. He was aware of his Poke Balls against his side, but he felt odd and had a strange feeling that he didn’t need them.
He didn’t know what a Plate was, but back when he and Ally were traveling with Leah, he sometimes heard her talking about it over the phone, to William. He asked William once what it was, but he never answered.
Whatever he was holding was dangerous. He didn’t know what it did, but no matter how hard the Plate felt, it seemed like it was shifting in his arms like a snake.
Some of the Rocket took steps towards him, but the woman stopped them with a raise of her hand. She strode across the room, her heels clip-clopping against the floor. When she was a few feet from Ed, she lowered her hood, revealing a pretty face framed with maroon curls.
“Give the Plate over to us,” she said to Ed.
Ed clutched the Plate tighter. “N- No!”
Her lips thinned, but the woman turned them into a smile.
“We’re not going to hurt you or your friends. We just want the Plate.”
“You killed Marowak!”
“We weren’t here to kill anyone. We aren’t here to kill anyone. If the Marowak stayed out it, it would have lived. It made the first attack.”
He didn’t believe the woman’s words for a second. He didn’t even care if what she was saying was true. Either way, Marowak was still lying there, bleeding on the floor, dead.
He just watched a Pokemon die and he didn’t do a thing.
Hands trembling, he looked at the Plate, feeling the soft cloth that was covering it. Finding the fold underneath it, he unwrapped the item, letting the free cloth dangle.
“Stop that,” the woman snapped. “You aren’t to touch it!”
Ed hardly heard her. Keeping part of the Plate unwrapped so that he didn’t touch it, he gazed down at the thing that Marowak died for. Its surface was like glass, colored with a soft shade of purple, and he could see his reflection staring back at him with wide and fearful eyes. There were words etched into it, little squiggles in a language he didn’t recognize.
Dragging his eyes away from the Plate, he looked up at the Rocket members and gasped.
The room had changed.
Everyone was still there, looking at him, but a gray-purple mist clung to them. But even if he called it mist, it wasn’t. It was like a ghost in and of itself, wisps floating through objects and people like they weren’t really there. There was a huge clump of it around the fire and it was like little hands were strangling the blaze, making it burn itself out and die. Some of it even went through him and he could feel its cold and slimy presence in his skin.
He reached his arm out and tried to brush it away from him, but it only took his hand and slithered up his arm.
It was disgusting. He didn’t know how he didn’t notice it before. Was that what the Plate did? Make him see things that weren’t supposed to be there?
Then he remembered what Fuji said, about how ghosts were all around the tower. It would make sense, but the mist didn’t look like a bunch of ghosts or even a single one. It was just… there.
“Give up the Plate,” the woman repeated.
“C- Can’t you see it?” he asked her, frowning. “This weird…”
The woman looked confused, and that was a good enough answer for him. The Plate must be causing the mist or letting him see it. Either way, it didn’t matter. He had the Plate, but what he supposed to do with it? He couldn’t fight his way out and the Plate was being creepy. He didn’t even want to hold it anymore.
Should he just hand it over?
As he turned his head, he caught Ally’s eye through the mist. They stared at each other with identical frightened expressions, but unlike Ally, he wasn’t trapped.
Maybe he could do something after all.
He looked at Marowak’s body and raised the Plate above his head.
“You want this?” he asked, voice cracking.
“Yes, now hand it over-”
“Then go get it!” he screamed and threw it with all his strength. As soon as the Plate left his hands, the Rockets homed in on it, trying to grab it, but it sailed over their heads.
The mist of ghosts disappeared and despite the feeling of relief washing over him, Ed didn’t waste any time. While everyone was distracted, he jumped the guy handling Ally. Luckily, the guy wasn’t paying attention and didn’t see the kick to his shin coming. Grabbing Ally by the wrist, he pulled her over to the staircase and they huddled there.
“Are you okay?” he said, gasping for breath.
“I- I think so-”
Ed looked up just in time to see the Plate begin its decent. He had thrown it high and it flipped several times in mid-air, the cloth coming undone and letting go. The Plate landed beside Marowak, splashing in the Pokemon’s blood and landing without a single dent marring its surface. Hardly a moment after, the cloth landed on top of it, covering the Plate up, and its edges staining pink with blood.
One of the Rockets leaned down and touched the cloth, intending to take both it and the Plate, but the cloth collapsed beneath his hand, anything under it gone.
The Rocket stared at the empty cloth dumbly.
“What type of magic trick is this-”
And Marowak raised her head.
Blood dripped off the bottom of her skull, and her sightless white eyes looked up at the grunt who gotten close. He stumbled away as she got to her feet, rivers of blood running down her torso.
Ed heard Ally say, “What?”, and despite being too busy staring to reply, his thoughts echoed hers.
Didn’t Marowak die?
“Ma-” Marowak tried to say, but the rest of it came out in a gurgle.
“Houndoom, kill it,” the Rocket woman whispered, her voice easily heard over the dead silence. “Kill it now.”
Houndoom approached the Pokemon, hunched over, but just before it looked like it was about to lunge, it let out a whimper and ran over to the woman, hiding behind her legs.
Turning to her fellow Rocket members, she yelled, “Kill it! Send out all your Pokemon- I don’t care. Just kill it-”
The Marowak howled. It was not a present sound, but even through the Pokemon’s mouth and throat was half-filled with blood, it went on.
Ed and Ally covered their ears and closed their eyes, anything to get away from that awful noise.
Suddenly, there was a shout that briefly drowned out the howl, but it quieted as fast as it came. A familiar coldness prickled at the edge of Ed’s senses. It slithered under his skin and he shivered at the feeling, hoping it would go away. When it didn’t, he opened his eye, not daring to look at anything other than his feet, and saw the mist was back.
“E- Ed!” Ally said, her eyes still closed. “There’s something wrong.”
The howl stopped abruptly and Ed gained the courage to look up at Marowak.
He really wished he didn’t.
The Pokemon was bent over, throwing up blood. Around her were the mist-ghosts, clumped together like bodyguards.
A Rocket member yelled and Ed caught a glance of the mist surrounding his face before he looked away. The man’s yell was caught off and Ed had the terrible feeling of knowing what the mist was doing to him.
“Houndoom!” the woman exclaimed, holding out a Poke Ball. “Return!”
Trapped by the mist, the Houndoom didn’t try to avoid the red beam of light that penetrated through the ghosts, bringing him to safety.
The woman took a step onto the staircase that led to the top floor and hesitated. She looked at her panicking teammates and yelled: “Get out of the tower! Break windows, I don’t care! Run! That’s an order!”
Then she disappeared up the steps.
A hand took Ed’s arm and he heard Ally’s cry of surprise.
Fuji held both of their arms, his lined face grave. He did not say anything, but pulled them to the stairs that the Rocket woman used.
“Wait!” Ally said, her eyes widening. “Sparks is still there!”
Ed turned, seeing Ally ripping her arm out of Fuji hold and going for an abandoned Poke Ball on the ground.
“No!” Fuji called out, hand failing to grasp the back of her shirt.
The mist was see-through, letting Ed see Ally grabbing the ball. She went back towards them, her face relaxed, a worry gone from her mind, when the mist blocked her from the exit.
She showed confusion, her hand failing to break through the mist that had let her through so easily.
“Ed?” she said, frowning, her eyes getting a bit wider as a realization slowing crept upon her that she shouldn’t have let them.
The mist shifted, like it was in metamorphosis, and suddenly Ally was gone from his sight. In the mist’s place were black masses that floated from the ground, now easily being able to be called ‘ghosts’. They weren’t familiar to Ed, but they looked like Haunter with their large paws and open mouths. However, they had no eyes and their mouths were turned downwards, but whether in horror of sadness, Ed couldn’t tell.
“Ally!” Ed yelled.
“We must go!” Fuji whispered. “Before it’s too late…”
Ed shook his head. “I’m not leaving her behind!” He looked into the mass of ghosts and called out, “Ally! Ally!”
There was a small cry from beyond the ghosts.
Fuji wouldn’t let the same thing happen twice and his grip was like steel, Ed unable to shake it off. The old man pulled him up the stairs, Ed struggling all the way, and only paused momentarily to scoop Cubone up from where he sat dazed.
Just before Ed was pulled onto the final floor, he thought he caught a glimpse of her shirt, the pink standing out against the black. She cried his name one more time, and it rung in his ears as he was able to see her no more.
And there was nothing he could do.
A/N: Before anyone asks, no, Ally is not dead.
Anyways, I think this is the fastest pace chapter I’ve written. So much stuff happened and look: the Plates are back! And Team Rocket finally appeared! It only took forty-nine chapters for them to come in, eh?
October 5th, 2010 (5:34 PM).
Man, feels so good to keep reading this story. Just wanted you to know that I still take time every once in a while to read this fic because it i so good.
Tell you what, once you publish the next chapter I'll try to have a more formal review, look for misplaces commas (hah!) and stuff. For the moment I can tell you the part that I liked, but I'd guess you pretty much know it already: Sands. Seeing him go on and try to keep with the Magneton, even if doing a bit wildly, was interesting because since Lt. Surge I always had though that Sands would learn to fight differently. Until the whole thing that happened with him, anyway.
Having him finally stick to Leah, if a bit painfully, was a nice touch. Even if it is the basic knowledge that he would be safe in a pocket holding his Fire Stone (I haven't forgotten the shipping) it reads like a senseful and warming way, at the same time, to signal something that may guide to Sands' recovery. I found Chandelle's comment on Sandslash and Leah's training acute and alluring, although strangely out of place. Maybe because of all what was happening around, maybe... I'll have to reread again and have something for the review.
Speaking on which... I don't have too much of a formed opinion on the new girl characters, but I did found Ashley remniscent of Ed somewhat. And the commentary that she was like "Ed and Ally's child sent back in time just to annoy Leah", made me giggle more than a couple of times as I reread the chapter.
Bonus points for the whole Lavender issue. But you made me cry a bit. It is one thing when you play the game and a sprite comes in and tell you Team Rocket killed this Marowak. It is another thing to have the death on-screen, sort of, with Cubone watching (I still remember Fuji picked him dazed or something) as well as Ed, what with the conditions given. I wondered what was he trying to do with the Plate... what was he thinking taking it away and just staying a couple of steps away from TR?
Overall a nice chapter. Makes me feel good to be visiting. So I'll comment more later.
Also, I want a Zapdos feather. Any tips for my Nidorino to handle those Magneton (no I won't touch the Pikachu nest)? XD
October 9th, 2010 (7:45 PM).
You know, to be honest, I keep forgetting that the Fire Stone even exists. You mentioned it and I thought to myself, ‘Fire Stone? What Fire- Oh. Right. That thing…’ I feel pretty bad that I keep forgetting it since when I read the earlier chapters, it’s pretty much a given when Sands appears, the Fire Stone will be at least mentioned.
About Marowak, I kind of wish that I gave her a little more screen time. She was just kind of there, fought Houndoom, died, and then the whole Plate thing happened. Ed wasn’t thinking when he grabbed the Ghost Plate at all. He just wanted to do something, no matter how stupid it was in hindsight. He’s actually pretty lucky Team Rocket knows what happens when someone physically touches the Plate, which is why they were so careful with him.
Nidorino can easily handle Magneton. All they need to do is use Water Pulse or Hidden Power. If they don’t have either then I’m sorry, they’re kinda screwed (I actually look Nidorino up and was surprised that those two attacks were pretty much the only thing that could affect Magneton).
I’ll be looking forward to your giant review. Next chapter should be up in a week (read: two weeks due to procrastination).
October 10th, 2010 (4:03 PM).
Such a great story, I can't wait for more.
October 10th, 2010 (7:26 PM).
Thanks, Gary! I'm glad you're liking the story so far~ :D
October 17th, 2010 (10:38 AM).
I joined the forum about one week ago, and I've spent my time well, reading this story (though I was so into the reading I skipped most other comments). o_o
I really like the story and I'm curious to read the continue! Very, very good job! I also have a lot of predictions about what's gonna happen, but since I havn't taken my time to read others predictions and thoughts, my ones have to wait until later.
(I'm actually aiming at writing a fan-fic myself, but I'll wait until I'm completely familiar with the forum :] )
and.. again... Really good job! ^o^
I'm a lurker, but hey n_n ~
October 17th, 2010 (12:30 PM).
Agh it feels good to be back- and to be reading this again.
I loved the power plant arc (Ashley was like the Ally/Ed stand-in, which made it feel like they weren't even gone) I found the part with the pikachu(Plural) great, and it added a slight cuteness to the chapter.
I didn't like Chandelle at all. I Just didn't like her personality. And she didn't win points for selling her shiny poochyena. That's just cold. Still, just because I don't like her doesn't mean she wasn't a well designed character. She had depth and a past, And you really got a good look into who she is as a person.
But enough of my redundancy.
I loved the most recent chapter! The rapid pace made it enjoyable, it had the perfect amount of violence, It gave us some insight into team rocket's current objectives and Ed gained the power of a Plate! And it was the ghost Plate too. o_o....I wonder what it does exactly......? I was upset to read that the Marowak died(It IS one of my favorite pokemon after all.) I wonder what's going to happen to ally? I'm not that worried, because you said she wasn't dead, but i'm still curious...
Leah better hurry up and get to Lavender though.....
I STILL WANT MAH SANDS BACK!-But it's good to see that he's progressing
I think you meant Pleasant.
last but not least,
I'm not sure what you intended for that to say...
Maybe: She started to glow green, then Marowak lunged, wielding her weapon like a club.
And that's it!
October 20th, 2010 (7:21 PM).
October 22nd, 2010 (8:31 PM).
Chapter 50: Lavender Town
“There’re not here?” Leah said, hardly able to believe it.
“I’m sorry, but they left last night,” the nurse replied.
“They checked out?”
The nurse checked the computer and looked puzzled.
“No, they haven’t.”
Leah frowned. “Do you know where they went?”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t.”
Walking away from the front desk, Leah put her hands in her pockets, trying to keep a worried expression off her face.
Ed and Ally were missing. That wasn’t the news that she wanted to hear as soon as she got to the Pokemon Center. She had been expecting to run into them immediately and for them to bombard her with questions on why she was there. They weren’t supposed to have disappeared last night. It was nearing dinner time so that meant that Ed and Ally hadn’t been seen for almost a day.
Leah was so wrapped up in her thoughts she nearly walked past Chandelle, who had been waiting near the stairs.
“Do you have the key?” the long-haired girl asked, uncrossing her arms.
“We’re on the first floor,” Leah said, handing it over.
It wasn’t a long walk to their room, but to Leah, it felt like forever.
Obviously, Ed and Ally had gone out to catch ghost Pokemon and something must have happened. Maybe the ghost Pokemon were too powerful; she didn’t know. And that was the problem. Leah had been separated from the two kids for nearly two weeks and they had already gotten themselves into trouble. She had always been under the assumption that she had been cursed with bad luck, but apparently she must have contaminated Ed and Ally with it.
… She made jokes, but it still didn’t lift her unease. A lot could happen in a day.
Chandelle opened the door of their room and Leah took in the standard Pokemon Center room (two beds pushed against the wall on either side of the room, drawer in-between them, desk near the door). Throwing her backpack against the bed to the left, Leah collapsed on top of the mattress without even taking off her shoes.
Her eyes were closed, but she could still hear Chandelle unpacking.
The quiet was starting to get on Leah’s nerves. She had spent the last three days in the presence of Ashley, who had rarely shut up, and now that the blond had left it was odd to sit in silence. Not that Ashley would be gone for long. As soon as they got into town, the small girl had separated from them to go looking for her parents, though promised to meet back up with them later.
Leah opened an eye to see Chandelle sitting on the bed and facing her, frowning.
It took a moment for Leah to process the question. After all, it wasn’t everyday that Chandelle actually asked her something.
Sighing, Leah kicked off her shoes. “Some kids I used to travel with are supposed to be here,” she said, “but they left last night without checking out and haven’t come back.”
“How old are they?”
“Ten.” Leah paused. “Well, one of them is ten, the other’s eleven.”
Chandelle resumed packing.
Turning over and propping herself up on her elbows, Leah scowled at the continued silence. “What?” she pressured.
“Do they disappear like that often?” Chandelle asked.
Chandelle went quiet again and Leah was about to call her out on it when she said, “… If they don’t come back soon, you might want to call the police.”
The police were the last people Leah wanted to see.
“The police? Why?”
“Pokemon or not, walking around at night in an unfamiliar town is never the best idea.” Chandelle picked up one of her nightgowns. “I’m going to take a shower.”
“Hold on, wait!” Leah said, sitting up and stopping the long-haired girl in her tracks. “You can’t just leave me with a statement like that! What do you mean?”
Hesitating, Chandelle once again sat opposite of Leah.
“When I was twelve and a regular trainer, I went to Veilstone City,” she started. “I was exploring, as I always did in a new city when I lost track of time and it got dark. I became lost and wandered near the warehouse district when I was… accosted by two strange men. I only had one Pokemon on me at the time, my Gastrodon. Do you know what a Gastrodon is?”
“… A dinosaur Pokemon?”
Chandelle looked amused. “No, not at all. A Gastrodon is a water-ground-type native to Sinnoh. They are basically slugs.” Her smile faded. “I attempted to fight off the men, but my Gastrodon was both too slow and inexperienced to fight their Pokemon off.”
“Why didn’t you just run?”
“There was no where to run to.” She coughed. “I was also spirited as a child; running never entered my mind in those situations. Unable to fight and unable to run, what do you think I, a twelve-year-old girl, did against two adult men?” She didn’t wait for an answer. “Nothing. I did nothing.”
“… What did they do to you?” Leah said, fearing the answer.
“You don’t need to look horrified,” Chandelle told her sharply. “They took my Gastrodon and all the money I had on me. After that, I flagged down a car and got directions back to the Pokemon Center. That experience taught me never to travel or explore at night unless in a large group.”
“You’re saying that my friends might have gotten mugged?”
“It’s very possible. When you’re a trainer, you will at least experience something like I did once.”
“But my friends have strong Pokemon.” Leah just couldn’t see Pokemon like Amber losing in some random battle.
“Everyone has Pokemon. Your friends are children. Anyone older could have had Pokemon for years.”
Chandelle stood up. “Now, I’m taking a shower.”
Ignoring the click of the bathroom door and the sound of the shower turning on, Leah turned back to her thoughts, already regretting asking Chandelle to explain. She had been worried about wild Pokemon getting the best of the brats, but humans?
That wasn’t something she wanted to think about.
After Leah had her own shower and finished eating dinner, she dragged Chandelle to watch television in the lobby. She refused to spend the rest of the evening sitting in her room doing nothing and since Chandelle didn’t seem to have anything planned, it was only fitting that the older girl joined her.
“Where is everyone?” Leah asked as she grabbed the remote off the table. There were usually wars fought over the remote in every Pokemon Center she had been to. It was the first time she was able to touch one.
Chandelle didn’t look up from the book she was reading. “It’s late in the year; most trainers go home at this time.”
“It’s foolish to travel in winter.”
Leah guessed that made sense. Which brought up the question what she was going to do. There was no point in going back to Pallet Town if she could just stay at a Pokemon Center. While her grandmother was usually home for the holidays, it was only for three weeks- then she’d be off to Indigo leaving Leah alone again.
“What do you do in winter? Go back to Sinnoh?” Leah was curious. It was hard to picture the cold and aloof girl going back home to family and enjoying their company. It just didn’t click.
“Not this year. It’s too far away.”
“Can’t you just teleport?”
Chandelle shook her head. “Teleporting can be dangerous over a large distance. I’m more likely to overshoot my mark or teleport into a solid object.”
“Then what are you going to do this year?”
The long-haired girl sighed, folding the edge of her page when she realized that Leah didn’t feel like shutting up. “I have family living in Fuchsia,” she said. “I’ll be joining them this year.”
“Is that why you’re in Lavender?” Leah asked. “Because you’re going to Fuchsia?”
Chandelle put down her book and didn’t answer.
“… It’s not something I can speak about.”
“Oh, come on. I’ve been travelling with you for, like, a week.” Leah sighed. “Not even a hint?”
“You wouldn’t want to know,” Chandelle said with no doubt in her voice.
“You’re so sure?”
Chandelle did something strange: she smiled. “You’re having problems with the police, correct?” she said.
“What?” Leah did have problems with the police back in Cerulean, but that felt like weeks ago. She never wanted to see them, but that didn’t mean she was having problems.
“You seem strangely avoidant of them,” Chandelle continued and met Leah’s eyes. “If you get involved with me, there is a chance you will get involved with them.”
Leah’s eyes darted around, looking for any people close by before she leaned in and asked Chandelle, “Are you doing something illegal?”
“I am not stealing or killing anyone,” she replied, not bothering to whisper. “But you could call it that, yes.”
“… All right, keep what you know to yourself,” Leah said, wiping her hands of the issue. If there’s one thing she wasn’t going to do, it was get involved with something illegal. “You know, you could have told me that when I first asked then I would have left it alone.”
“I am not telling things like that to a stranger.”
Suddenly, the remote was plucked from Leah’s hand, and she whipped her head around, getting a face full of a grinning blond.
“Hey!” Ashley greeted, leaping over the back of the couch and getting comfy in the small space between Leah and Chandelle.
Leah moved over. She would have been madder at loosing some couch space, but was too busy mentally chucking at the un-amused expression on Chandelle’s face as Ashley got off her lap.
“Where’d you come from?” Leah asked.
The blond flipped through channels at a breakneck speed, eyes sorely on the television. “Just got here!” she said, finally turning away from it.
“I thought you went to go see your parents.”
Ashley shrugged. “Couldn’t find them.”
It took a moment for Leah to process that.
“How can you not find them?”
Shrugging again, Ashley asked, “What channel are the Indigo League reruns on again? Can’t remember.”
Leah refused to be distracted. “Did you check your house?”
“Wasn’t there,” she said. “And the doors were locked.”
“Did you try calling them?”
“They don’t have cell phones.”
Leaning back into the cushion, Leah sighed. “So, you’re locked out of your own house and you can’t get in touch with your parents?”
“Mmm, my dad’s window was open,” Ashley reluctantly parted with, “but there’s no way I’m going back there for the night.”
Ashley huffed. “I’d be alone! That’s creepy.” She averted her eyes. “And, well, since I’m going to be a trainer anyway, I’m just going to stay here.”
“You were at the Pokemon Center at Rock Tunnel just fine,” Leah said.
“Yeah, but there was a bunch of people there! There’d be no one at Dad’s house except for Zu-Zu.”
“How did you stay at the Pokemon Center?” Chandelle asked, looking over. “I doubt you have a trainer card.”
“Mom talked to one of the people in charge there to let me stay in a room.”
“Then how are you going to stay here?”
Ashley plastered on a smile. “Well, you guys have a room, right?”
As soon as the thought of Ashley staying with them ran through her head, Leah said, “There’s only two beds.”
“Just give me a blanket and pillow and I’ll be fine,” the blond said. “I swear I’ll be quiet. Pleeeeease?”
When both of the older girls’ expression didn’t change, Ashley added, “I don’t want to sleep outside and it’s too late for me to walk back home. I don’t have anywhere else to go.”
While Leah really didn’t feel like sharing her already small room, she didn’t want to turn Ashley away either. Maybe if she was older Leah wouldn’t feel any guilt about banishing her to sleep on the lobby couch, but she was just a kid; a secretive kid that shouldn’t have followed them back to Lavender anyways.
Leah looked at Chandelle.
“What do you think?”
The long-haired girl was silent, finally saying, “Only if she’s quiet.”
Ashley’s face lit up. “Yes! Don’t worry! You’ll hardly notice me! I promise!”
“I’m noticing you,” Leah said, opening one eye.
In the darkness of the room, the shifting stopped.
“Sorry,” Ashley whispered, “but there’s not much room on the floor.” In the smallest amount of moonlight that shone through the blinds and the green glow of the clock, Leah could see the blond attempt an awkward smile. “I thought I’d have more.”
There was no point in pretending to go back to sleep, so Leah said, “Maybe you would if you didn’t have a separate pillow for your Zubat.”
Leah never knew that Zubat could sleep like a normal mammal, but there it was, sprawled out on a small pillow as it slept.
“Zu-Zu always sleeps with me! It’s how we roll. Right, Zu-Zu?”
The bat didn’t answer, which spared Leah the pain of being waked up entirely instead of the drowsy state she was in.
“Be quiet,” Chandelle hissed from the other bed.
Ashley ducked her head. “Sorry!”
Hearing Ashley make a small sigh as she tried to get back to sleep, Leah copied the younger girl’s motion and closed her eyes.
However, sleep didn’t come. It rarely did on the first night of a new Pokemon Center. While her body was protesting being awake, her mind wasn’t shutting up. It kept throwing ideas and worries her way now that it finally had her all to itself. Even then, she had trouble sleeping ever since the first day of her journey. No matter how much she was used to it, all the travelling wasn’t good for her nerves and that wasn’t even mentioning the adventures that haunted her dreams.
Nighttime was Leah’s least favorite times of day. In the day it was very easy to push worries aside, but at night they all piled down on her, pleading for attention.
Ed and Ally’s disappearance just added to the list.
Where had they gone? They had been officially missing for a day now and the clock kept ticking. Did they really get mugged like Chandelle was? That was probably the worst case scenario. Because if that happened then Leah was already too late. She couldn’t rewind time and help them. Whether their Pokemon was stolen, or the two of them were in the hospital (or worse), they were out of her reach.
Maybe she was just making a big deal out of things. Maybe they got distracted and wandered far enough away from town that they had to camp out for a night. Or maybe they just forgot to check out- Yeah, forgetting to check out would be a good answer. That was safe and a bit humorous and the only thing it would do was make her worry.
Of course, there was always the option that they had been attacked. And not mugged, too. Attacked as in fighting for their lives, not their possessions.
Blue had attacked her only a few weeks ago. She had gotten away, thank god, but what was stopping him from going after Ed and Ally? When they were on the S. S. Anne, she remembered him mentioning Ed. Not his name, but it still meant he remembered him and knew who she travelled with. So, what if he thought she was still travelling with them, and followed them to Lavender Town? What would he do to two children, who were alone and practically defenseless at night, when the person he was targeting wasn’t there?
It could make him frustrated and make him take it out on them. But as much as Leah could imagine it, she knew nothing about Blue and what he did. Maybe he didn’t go after kids? But she was only fifteen and he had no qualms about sending a Scyther after her.
Blue was pretty much the reason most of her journey had been so bad. While the Seafoam Island thing could be put off as an accident, he had ruined the S. S. Anne trip, and tried to assassinate her. Judging by all that it wouldn’t be a surprise if he was behind Ed and Ally’s disappearance too.
If that was true, if Blue did target them as well as her, what was she supposed to do? She was a day late if anything had happened. All she could do was survey the aftermath and try to pick up any pieces.
Either way, she couldn’t do anything tonight. Not while she was comfy and cozy in bed. First thing tomorrow she would look for Ed and Ally- all day if she had to. She wasn’t leaving Lavender Town until she found them or at least what happened to them. Saffron and Danny could wait.
Leah’s thoughts drifted as sleep started to work its magic.
However, just when she was sure she was about to leave the waking world behind, a sigh caught her attention. Her eyes were too heavy to open them, but she could hear Ashley yawn and turn over. Then there was another sigh, louder than a normal one was, and it dragged Leah from the depths of sleep, slapping her mind awake.
The frustration of being denied sleep only made her more awake. She pulled her blanket up to her neck, letting part of it sit over her ear, but as the minutes passed, it didn’t help. She was so relaxed that not even the smallest sound could escape her attention.
Finally, when sleep seemed farther away than ever, she used most of her strength to open her eyes to look down at Ashley. The blond was laying on her back, the only movement being the rise and fall of her chest. Just when Leah was about to close her eyes again, Ashley turned onto her side and curled her legs closer to her body.
“Can’t sleep?” Leah whispered.
The girl froze, and then looked up at her. “I guess I’m just not tired,” she whispered.
“Want another blanket?”
Leah wasn’t going to get up and get one, but she was sure she could live without one of her own.
However, Ashley only sighed in her pillow. “… It’s okay.”
“Maybe another pillow?”
“No, I don’t need those. I just… can’t sleep.”
“Just close your eyes and you’ll get to sleep eventually.”
“I’m trying. It’s not working.”
Ashley kicked back her covers and sat up, rubbing her eyes.
“I’m getting a drink of water,” she said.
The blond stood, and Leah shut her eyes for the inevitable blinding. Luckily, Ashley was smart as she closed the bathroom door behind her before turning on the light. The faucet was turned on, water hit the sink, the light turned off, and then Ashley came back out. She padded over to her makeshift bed and glanced at it before kneeling before Leah’s bed.
“Leah,” she said, her breath brushing the older girl’s face. “Do a lot of trainers sleep on the couches downstairs?”
“Yeah,” Leah replied, thinking of all people at the Cinnabar Pokemon Center, the busiest place she had ever been to. While Vermillion and Cerulean weren’t as busy, she still remembered seeing people curled up on couches and benches. “But,” she added, “This place seems emptier than usual. I’m not sure there’s anyone sleeping in the lobby.”
Ashley glanced at the door.
“I don’t want to go out there if no one’s going to be there.”
Sleep wasn’t going to come as long as Ashley was awake, Leah could see that now. Since the trek from Rock Tunnel to Lavender wasn’t that far, this was the first night they had spent together. And thank god too if she was having that much trouble sleeping. Ed and Ally were always asleep as soon as they laid down and if Chandelle had problems getting to sleep she didn’t show it
And really, Leah wanted to go to sleep. Especially if she was going to need to energy to look for Ed and Ally.
Leah raised her head, looked at her own bed as best as she could, and then asked Ashley, “Do you want to share my bed? I have room.”
Putting a hand on the bed, Ashley hesitated.
‘Take the offer, stop whining, and let me sleep,’ Leah mentally said.
“… Are you sure?” the blond asked.
She scooted over and Ashley climbed onto the empty space. The bed wasn’t made for two people, but since the girl was so small, they were able to squeeze together without a single limb hanging off the bed.
Ashley let out one final sigh as she became comfortable. Though, despite her squirming attempts to give Leah some space, her body was pressed against hers and her face was even closer than before.
“I haven’t done this in a long time.”
“What, sleep in someone else’s bed?” Leah asked, wondering if she should turn over to face the wall. She didn’t like being this close to someone.
Ashley closed her eyes.
Leah thought the girl had fallen asleep and a felt a spark of annoyance at getting to sleep so easily, but then the blond said in a low voice, “I used to climb into my parents bed all the time.”
It was probably the most private thing Ashley had ever said to her and that was saying something considering that Leah had only confirmed that she had two parents that evening.
“What do you mean?”
“You said you hadn’t done it in a while.”
“It started to get embarrassing,” Ashley whispered. “One of my classmates found out and she told the entire school. Everyone laughed at me. So I stopped.”
Leah had many memories of when she was little, but she couldn’t recall her friends or classmates acting like that. They could be immature at times, but never… bullying. And even then, why make fun of someone for something that most kids did? Isn’t that what kids do? Go to their parents for comfort at night or when they couldn’t get to sleep? Maybe the times were changing and kids were growing up quicker, but five years wasn’t that long of a time.
Ashley had fallen silent and Leah wondered whether to say anything. It was a pretty private thing the girl had just told her and she hardly need to prompt her. Should she say something back?
But before Leah could say anything, Ashley asked, “Did you ever sleep in your parent’s bed?”
“I can’t remember.”
The blond’s reply had a note of depression behind it.
Closing her eyes, Leah rearranged, “I probably did, but my parents… they past away before I was eight.”
Ashley made a tiny gasp and shifted closer to the older girl as if trying to comfort her.
“It’s okay,” Leah said, biting back a yawn. “I don’t really remember them, anyway.”
Though sometimes she would have liked to.
Even with their recent conversation buzzing around her mind, Leah could feel sleep closing in.
“Good night,” she said.
And then Leah fell asleep
It didn’t even feel like a few minutes later until a hand was roughly shaking her and a voice yelling in her ear.
“What?” Leah asked, hardly comprehending what was going on.
Being the rebel that she was, she discarded the order and drifted off again.
The splash of water was like a slap to the face.
Leah opened her eyes, nearly having a heart attack seeing Ashley standing over her. The blond’s face was pale, her body trembling as her eyes kept darting to the door.
“I’m sorry about the water,” Ashley whispered, “but you wouldn’t wake up…”
Nothing could go back to sleep after water had been thrown onto them so Leah sat up, keeping the blankets over her cold legs. She looked around, noticing the world outside the room’s window was still dark. Taking a glance at the clock, she winced at the time. It was three in the morning; way too early to be up.
Then, Leah finally became aware of it. She didn’t know how she missed it before.
There was screaming come from downstairs. There was only one voice making it, obviously a man’s despite how shrill it was.
“What’s going on?” Leah asked, grabbing her Poke Balls off the table and standing.
Ashley crossed her arms, trying to control her shivering.
“I don’t know… He just started screaming a few minutes ago. He still hasn’t stopped!”
“Obviously,” Leah muttered. She went over to the door, keeping both of her Poke Balls in one hand.
“Don’t open the door!”
Leah spared the blond a glare, not having time for that. Ignoring the intake of breath behind her, she opened the door and peaked down the hall. She could see lights on from the other doors and other heads head poking out. Some of said heads were yelling at each other and all she could get out of it was that they had no clue on what was going on.
She looked back at Ashley and the shadowy figure of Chandelle that was sitting silently on her bed.
“Stay here,” Leah said, trying to calm her nerves. “I’ll go check it out.”
Not waiting for a reply, she left the door open as she left, and strode down the hall, trying to keep her head held high. Her pajama pants flapped at her heels and the heads quieted as she walked past, their gazes following her.
She really didn’t need to check it out herself, but she wouldn’t feel safe until she knew the cause of the noise.
Suddenly, a pounding of footsteps came towards her and Leah turned, catching Ashley’s eye. The blond took a few deep breaths, steadying the Zubat on her shoulder, and took a place beside her. They didn’t say anything to each other, though Leah felt a bit of relief that she wouldn’t have to go investigate by herself, even if her backup was a kid.
The lobby was completely empty by the time they got there. It seemed that Leah was the only one stupid enough to follow such a sound. The screaming was much louder by then and it made Leah want to curl up under a blanket somewhere. She had never heard such blood-curdling sounds in her life.
Ashley, while having enough courage not to grab onto Leah’s shirt, stayed behind the older girl as they walked closer to the front doors of the Pokemon Center.
In all the Pokemon Centers Leah had been too, the layout was generally the same. Front desk, couches, big-screen television, and a glass door. It was the last point that she both blessed and cursed at that moment. She wouldn’t have to go through the trouble of unlocking and opening the front door without knowing what was on the other side, but she could see the cause the screaming immediately.
She really wished she hadn’t.
The man was pressed against the glass, fists pounding on the door. He was wearing all black and his clothes were ripped and torn like he had been out in the wilderness for days. His mouth was opening and closing, the only sound issuing forth being a scream or a yell.
It wasn’t the man that was the problem. It was the thing eating his head that was the cause of all this.
It was like a small monster of smoke, black and shapeless, and it surrounded the top of the man’s head. Blood ran down his hair and face, and marks of red stained the glass doors, the man having pounded on the door too hard and too long.
Leah wanted to ask why the man didn’t just bang his head against the glass to kill the creature on it. It didn’t look like a ghost, but if it was doing something like eating him, then of course the ghost would be physical enough to get hurt by that, right?
However, when she tried to talk, no words came out of her mouth. Her mind was working perfectly, but her body still wanted to be elsewhere.
Ashley had abandoned any attempts of courage and was hiding her face against Leah’s back. In-between the screaming, Leah could hear other voices behind her as more people braved the sound and came to see what was going on.
It felt like minutes later when she was finally broken out of her shocked state. A voice rose above the screaming as a boy looking just out of high school stood by Leah and yelled at the onlookers, “Hey, why’s everyone just standing around? Help him!”
The boy approached the door, throwing a Poke Ball before him.
The lizard Pokemon, orange scaled with a tale tipped with flame, stood to the side as the boy fiddled with locks on the front door.
“Zach! Be careful!” a girl exclaimed, also coming closer.
The lock clicked and Zach gave an uneasy grin at the girl.
“Don’t worry, Nat. I got this.”
And he swung open the door. The man leaning against it fell, landing on the floor of the Pokemon Center. However, he didn’t seem to notice this as he was still screaming and withering, legs and arms thumping the ground.
“Now, Charmeleon! Flash!”
The fire-type swished its tail, the flaming tip brightening. At the last minute, Leah turned her eyes away, closing them tightly. The flash of light was intense, made only worse by the dark room. Even with her eyes shut the light still hurt. She could hear groans and shrieks from the people too slow to turn away. Only when the light dimmed and faded did she open her eyes again.
Her vision was blurry and there were spots in front of her eyelids, but she could see the man face down on the ground, completely silent. The smoke monster had vanished.
The girl apparently named Nat approached Zach and bent down to see the man properly.
“Excuse me, sir?” she said. “Are you alright?”
Zach joined her.
“Obviously not. Look at his head; it’s a mess.” He shook the man’s shoulder. “Want me to call an ambulance, man?”
“What’s going on?” Ashley asked Leah in a low voice. “It that guy-”
“Oh my god!” Nat screamed, jumping away from the body, her friend right behind her with his hands up.
The people watching the scene surged forward in interest, pushing Leah and Ashley closer as well. The first few people who caught sight of it gasped or tried to fight the tide to get away from it. Leah herself got a glimpse of the man’s face, or the bloody flat surface where it was supposed to be. Nausea made itself known, but she pushed it down, trying to wipe the image from her memory.
“Is he dead?” Ashley asked louder, peering around Leah. But the older girl only shifted to the side, pulling the blond away from the body and crowd.
“Either that or he’s going to need a new face,” Leah said grimly.
A tide of voices suddenly broke out.
“Someone call the police!”
“What killed him? Was it a ghost?”
“Who is he?”
Nat’s voice joined the crowd’s. “Zach, get away from it!”
“Everyone shut up!”
The people quieted until there were only whispers going on between them. Zach stood in front of the crowd, his arms folded, his Charmeleon beside him.
“Now,” he said. “Who was the first one here?”
Faces turned to each other with confusion and Leah was about to join them when she remembered she was the first one there. For a moment, she wondered whether it would be okay to not say anything since it wasn’t like she saw anything incriminating, but she wanted this over with as soon as possible. Not saying anything would only raise further questions and frustration.
“I was!” she said, stepping forward.
Zach turned to her.
“Did you see anything weird?”
“No, just that guy screaming.”
“… All right, then.” Zach’s eyes met the nurse’s, who stood at the back wearing the typical nurse’s outfit. He pointed to her. “Hey! Go call the police!”
She nodded and hurried off.
“Now, listen up!” he said, directing his voice at everyone. “Who here as their Pokemon and doesn’t mind guard duty?”
There was a not a word spoken.
He sighed. “Look, that guy just died in front of us and me and Charmeleon can’t guard alone.” He pointed at the body. “You saw what that smoke thing did to this guy, right? And I see some of you guys holding Poke Balls, so don’t bother hiding them.”
When still no one said anything, Nat stepped forward.
“I’ll guard with you, Zach,” she said, taking out a Poke Ball from the shirt pocket of her pajamas. “Let’s go, Ivysaur!”
The plant Pokemon stood by Charmeleon on four legs, its teal body and pink bulb glowing yellow from the fire-type flame-tipped tail.
Zach smiled at her.
“… I’ll help,” Leah said, surprised to find herself saying that. But what choice did she have? She was not going back to sleep after something like this and she wasn’t sure if she’d feel safe sitting in her own room. Being with a group meant more protection, plus, she would get more information about what cause this. Were those smoke things common in Lavender? If so, she wanted to find out.
She released Zee, putting Sands’s Poke Ball away for safe keeping. She doubted her Sandslash was ready for guard duty yet.
“Nice Drowzee,” Zach said, nodding at her.
Leah looked at Ashley, not sure what to say. While there was more safety in a group, she didn’t think the blond would be able to help out much and if one of those smoke things did attack them, she’d probably only get in the way.
“Go back to bed,” she finally said. “Chandelle’s still there so you won’t be alone.”
She didn’t like Chandelle, but she at least trusted the girl’s skills at Pokemon. She bet those smoke things wouldn’t like going against her ghostly lawn-mower.
Ashley’s eyes narrowed and she scowled.
“No, I want to stay with you!”
As they argued, Leah kept an ear and eye on what Zach was doing. More people had offered up their night and he was directing them to the other entrances of the Pokemon Center. Other people were leaving of their own accord, having figured out that there was nothing they could do (or didn’t want to do).
“- Zu-Zu may not be strong, but he has really good hearing! No one will be able to slip by him.” Ashley paused. “Leah?”
Leah turned back to her. “What? Oh, right-”
“You aren’t listening!” she said, looking hurt. “I can help!”
Being up in the middle of the night had made Leah tired and fogged her mental capabilities. That was the only reason that she could think of on why she was sighing and admitting defeat.
She sometimes wished she was more stubborn.
“Do whatever I tell you,” she told the blond. “No hesitations.”
Ashley nodded, grinning. “Whatever you say.”
Leah turned her attention to her Drowzee. “Ready for some guard duty, Zee?” she asked, putting a hand on the psychic-type’s head.
A green thumps-up flashed through her mind and Leah sent the same image back with a smiley face. While Zee was still working on reading emotions, she was quickly expanding and evolving her weird mental communication system all the time. While she still liked to use colors for emotions, Leah was still surprised at the human symbols that the Pokemon sent her. Almost enough that Leah was getting ready for when the psychic-type sent her a mental message in words.
Shaking her head, Leah walked towards Zach and Nat, trusting Zee and Ashley to follow.
“Hey, thanks for guarding with us,” Zach greeted, seeing her come up. “What’s your name?”
“Leah,” she said.
Zach smiled, glancing at Ashley. “And how about the lovely lady by your side?”
The blond went red. “Uh, Ashley,” she stuttered. “I’m Ashley!”
“Aww,” Nat cooed, grinning. “You two sisters?”
Leah had no clue how the girl had got to that conclusion. They looked nothing alike.
The confusion must have been present in her voice because Nat laughed, sticking her hand out. “Anyways, my name’s Natalie. It’s nice to meet you two.”
Leah shook her hand and Ashley did the same.
Happening to glance down at the body again, Leah felt her previously light mood disappearing and worry take its place. “I didn’t know ghosts could do something like this…” she said.
No, she was sure. She knew ghosts, even the ones from other regions. While ghosts could do some nasty things, they couldn’t do something like that. And even if they could, that small smoke thing didn’t look like any ghost she had ever seen.
Zach frowned, going serious. “Yeah, I didn’t either. The guy must have really pissed the ghost off for it to go to these lengths.”
“I’ve never heard of a ghost being this violent,” Natalie said. “Malicious and cruel, yes, but never like this.”
“Maybe he knocked over a grave at Pokemon Tower?”
“When you did that, you only got licked and went to the hospital paralyzed.” The girl grimaced. “You didn’t get… chewed on!”
“Maybe-” Zach cut himself off and knelt down next to the body.
“What are you doing?”
“… Is it just me,” he said, “or this guy dressed kind of weirdly?
Natalie didn’t seem too concerned.
“Maybe he was travelling at night and needed to blend in. We’re done that before.”
“Yeah, but we didn’t use black. If you want to camouflage, you use green or brown; anything other than black… Actually, he kinda looks like-”
Taking a sharp breath, Natalie joined him on the floor.
“Do you think…?” she said, lowering her voice.
“Maybe. I can’t really tell from the back.”
“Do you know him?” Leah asked.
Natalie ignored Leah. “I’m not touching him,” she said.
Zach, however, turned to her. “Can your Drowzee mentally lift things?”
“Not a body,” Leah said shortly. Honestly, she didn’t know, but she didn’t want Zee to touch that thing, physically or mentally.
Not going near the head, Zach grabbed the man’s shoulder and lifted him with a grunt.
Natalie fidgeted. “Don’t touch it. The police aren’t going to like it!” When Zach put the man back down in place, she hesitated and asked, “Is he one of them?”
Zach scowled. “Yeah, he has the badge on.”
“Then what’s he doing here?”
“Not sure. Probably nothing good.”
“What are you talking about?” Leah demanded. “Who is he?”
“Have you ever heard of Team Rocket?” Zach asked in return.
“No.” She frowned. “… They sound familiar.”
Zach and Natalie exchanged a glance and it was the boy who said, “Team Rocket is a gang that steal and mass-capture Pokemon to sell.”
“We battled them in Mount Moon,” Natalie added. “They were rounding up all the Clefairy there.”
“They’re not too strong- I doubt many of them are real trainers- but there’s tons of them. Me and Nat were barely able to beat them back at Mount Moon. Professor Oak was with us, though, so we lucked out.”
“You met Professor Oak?” Ashley asked, awed.
Zach nodded. “Yeah, cool guy. I didn’t even know he owned such a strong Dragonite.”
Natalie looked out the window, worried.
“… Zach, do you think they’re after the ghost-types at Pokemon Tower?”
“They could try, but there’s no way they’re capturing them. The ghosts would just turn intangible until they went away.”
“They could use Foresight.”
Zach snapped his fingers. “… Damn, that’s right. ****, this can’t be good.”
It was only because Leah was on edge that she heard it. There was a light padding of feet and Leah caught Chandelle slipping into the room, unnoticed to everyone but her. She was still in her nightgown and her Rotom-M floated at her shoulder, looking quite see-through.
“Chandelle,” Leah called out, making everyone aware of the guest. “I thought you were staying in bed?”
“You never came back,” she replied coolly, joining the group near the body. “What’s going on?”
The body was right in front of her, but Chandelle seemed to want Leah’s explanation.
“A ghost killed someone.”
Chandelle glanced at the body.
“Who is he?”
“Some Team Rocket guy.”
Any ounce of interest Chandelle had vanished and her face went blank.
“Nice ghost-type,” Zach said. “From Sinnoh?”
A whine sounded in the distance, the unmistakable noise of police sirens. It sounded like there were many of them and were coming up fast.
And then Leah had a thought.
“Why did he come here?” She focused on Zach and Natalie. “I mean, if you two recognized him so fast and he’s a criminal, why here? Didn’t he have any friends to go to?”
“He was confused,” Chandelle answered softly.
“He didn’t know where he was going?”
She shook her head. “He knew. This is a Pokemon Center. Where else would a trainer go to seek refuge?”
Those words sent a shiver down Leah’s spine.
Obviously, there was something weird going on in Lavender Town and she really didn’t want to find out what it was.
A/N: Mentor has reached fifty chapters! :D
Also, celebrating fifty chapters, I have a fun little challenge for you guys. See, I was editing this chapter and just when I was about to finish I noticed a BIG plot hole. After sobbing in shame for a few minutes, I realized while it was big, it was also shallow enough for me to fix (or at least offer an explanation for) in later chapters. In the meantime, I want to see if any of you can guess what it is. So, consider this a challenge. Any winners get… a spoiler. Specifically, I will tell you where Leah, Ed, and Ally each get their next Pokemon and what chapter it will happen in. You’ll have to guess the species of Pokemon they get for yourself.
Yeah, not much of a prize, but better than a cookie, right?
October 23rd, 2010 (4:22 AM).
Yay, another yummy chapter! *-*
Do we get unlimited guesses? C:
My first guess;
The time and nights doesn't really fit, but maybe they're not meant to either.
You see, Ed and Ally "they left last night" and they had been missing for almost a day = The tower incident was the last night.
Then the rocket guy comes and gently knocks the pokécenter door the next night.
Where has he been during the day between the nights and why is the gastly (I guess it's a gastly?) eating him the next night and not the last night? Though, maybe the rockets didn't go back to a safe place and got attacked the next night again by some reason.
I doubt that the gastly would have stalked and kept confuse the rocket guy during the day only to eat him the next night.
Am I right? : o
I'm a lurker, but hey n_n ~
October 23rd, 2010 (8:44 AM).
And since this challenge thing was finished so quickly, I’ll make another since I have found a different plot hole in Mentor a while back which no one has called me out on yet. The prize is the same as last time (i.e. spoilers). This plot hole is related to the rules of evolution. Somewhere in the story I have broken one of them, so it’s up to you guys to tell me which one and where it happened (it’s pretty blatant).
And no guessing for you, Daeva; you already have your prize.
October 23rd, 2010 (10:50 AM).
This is my first time posting here >_< And I haven't posted anywhere in more than a month.
Is it okay to make more than one guess in one post?
Is it the part where an untrained spearow evolved in a cage? or that butterfrees can't evolve?
October 23rd, 2010 (11:06 AM).
I think, but I may be mixing stores in my head... that you talked about a Pokemon evolving normally, when it in the game, it has to be traded to evolve.
I may be mixing your story and another one so if its wrong just ignore me. ^^;
I really need a new signature.
October 23rd, 2010 (11:12 AM).
Oh!! I think I know!!! *impatiently stretches up hand with a big smile and makes noise with chair*
I actually did consider a strange thing before, but since it was earlier in the story I didn't mention it C;
Do you mind if I guess by PM? xD just for fun, I might could be wrong too.
I'm a lurker, but hey n_n ~
October 23rd, 2010 (11:15 AM). Edited October 23rd, 2010 by trash.
I like it.
When will we be able to read more?
I'll refrain myself from guessing to spare me some humiliation
October 23rd, 2010 (12:20 PM).
December 13th, 2010 (8:41 PM).
Long time no see, guys! Sorry for the lack of updates, I’ve been busy with finals and school. But now that the semester is over, I can start writing again. I should have an update by the end of the year, but we'll see how it goes. Now, the real reason for this message is tell you that I'm revising Mentor. Not rewriting or anything big like that, but I'm re-reading all of Mentor's chapters and doing a bit of editing if I see something weird. Though, if I do some major rewriting, like if I see a scene that I'm really not happy with, I'll let you guys know what scene it is so you can re-read it. Anyways, just wanted to give you an update on the current situation. I'm not exactly sure when I'll be posting next, so have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Years.
December 16th, 2010 (11:42 PM).
Goodness, I was waaaaaaaayyy behind. This was a nice procrastination break. But you've seriously been doing a great job- there's a nice mystery going on here. Can't wait for the next chapter!
February 11th, 2011 (9:47 PM).
Chapter 51: Aftermath
Never in all her life did she have such a crazy and sleepless night.
It must have taken hours for her to get back to sleep, not that Ashley in her bed helped much. It was hard to sleep when someone just died in the building you were in. She had been so paranoid that Zee had the honor of keeping her company for the rest of the night (but on the ground since she had no room on her bed). At least she wasn’t the only one frightened as she was sure the disappearing red eyes and green glow from above Chandelle’s bed wasn’t a hallucination.
Either way, her night sucked and all plans she made the day before were scrapped. It was hard to motivate herself to look for Ed and Ally when she could barely walk five steps without bumping into something.
Luckily, she wasn’t the only one suffering as Ashley looked just as tired, the endless energy of youth having abandoned her. Chandelle was the same as ever, though Leah couldn’t decide whether the long-haired girl honestly got enough sleep or if the coffee she kept sipping was affecting her.
The three of them sat in a booth in the restaurant part of the Pokemon Center. The blinds were shutting out the sunny morning and Leah and her bloodshot eyes couldn’t be more thankful. Breakfast had come and gone and now all they were doing was sitting there, doing nothing aside from the occasional small talk.
Leah would have liked to get up and go do something important, but she was too comfy and her legs kept refusing her commands.
It was very quiet in the restaurant and if Leah strained her ears, she swore she could hear the talk of the cooks in the kitchen. It wasn’t that everyone was being quiet, though. It was just that Leah and her group were the pretty much the only ones there. The restaurant, like the lobby, was deserted.
She didn’t think she’d ever seen a Pokemon Center so empty before, but due to the guy who died, she couldn’t blame anyone from switching locations immediately. If she had the energy to walk across town to get to another Pokemon Center, she probably would have too.
First Ed and Ally disappeared and then the… murder last night. Why did everything have to get so complicated?
Suddenly, two shadows fell onto their table.
“Hello, ladies,” Zach said, smiling despite the tiring and horrific night.
Standing beside him, Natalie added her own greeting. “Good afternoon. Did you have a good sleep?”
“No,” Leah deadpanned.
Ashley gave a mumbled answer and Chandelle only drank her coffee.
Zach gave them an odd look. “… Anyways, have you seen the news?”
“No?” Leah wasn’t sure if her eyes would even be able to stand looking at a TV. “What, did the police find out what happened to that guy?”
“No news on that yet.”
“Pokemon Tower’s been locked up,” Natalie said.
A surge of energy seemed to come over Ashley. “What!” She leaned forward “Why?”
Shrugging, Zach said, “No one knows. People tried to get in yesterday but couldn’t.”
Taking off his backpack, he slid into the booth next to Chandelle and across from Leah. In ordinary circumstances, Leah wouldn’t have been too pleased that someone was inviting themselves to sit down but the guy seemed to be a source of information. It also helped that the frown Chandelle was sending him amused her.
“Zach, we shouldn’t bother them,” Natalie said, looking uncomfortable.
He only wagged a finger at her. “No time for nagging, Nat. Something weird’s definitely going on and we’ll need all the help we can get.”
Biting her lip, Natalie sighed. “You’re right.”
She sat down next to Leah, giving Leah the honored joy of being in the middle of the booth.
Leah, however, frowned. What did he mean by ‘help?’
And then what the guy said before occurred to Leah.
“Wait, what do you mean ‘couldn’t get in’?”
“I don’t know,” he repeated. “That’s just what the news has been saying. Apparently, people who work at the tower tried to get in early this morning but the door wouldn’t open and none of the keys would work.”
Leah shrugged. “So? That sounds like regular ghost activity to me.”
“How? Do ghosts usually jam doors?”
“My grandmother has a bunch of ghost Pokemon. They sometimes do that; they think it’s hilarious,” Leah said dryly. While living with ghost Pokemon was fun the first few times her grandmother let them roam around the house, they got annoying real fast.
“Well, the news people sounded pretty concerned when I listened to it. I guess these types of ghosts don’t do that sort of stuff.”
Ashley shook her head. “No, they sometimes do. At night, they like to move things around the houses closest to the tower.” She hesitated. “But they’ve never done anything to the tower itself before.”
After a moment of thought, Zach leaned back and crossed his arms. “Okay, do you guys agree something’s going on?”
“… What do you mean?” Leah asked.
“I mean, it can’t be a coincidence that the Pokemon Tower locked itself up and a Team Rocket member was murdered by a ghost around the same time.”
Shaking her head, Leah said, “I don’t think that was a ghost.”
“Then what was it?”
“I don’t know, but it was no ghost. It didn’t look like any ghost-type Pokemon I’ve ever seen- and I know ghost-types.”
Natalie frowned. “Zach… What if it’s a-”
“We talked about this, Nat,” Zach said, cutting her off. “There’s no way it’s one of those.”
“One of what?”
Zach and Natalie exchanged a glance, and then Zach sighed.
“Have you ever heard of Missingno?” he asked.
As soon as Leah heard that name, any respect she had for the two trainers vanished.
“Those things don’t exist,” she said, scowling.
“What’s a Missingno?” Ashley asked.
Chandelle sipped her coffee. “A Pokemon that’s said to live off the coast of Cinnabar Island.”
Leah couldn’t help but add, “One that doesn’t exist.”
Having pretty much lived on the internet for the past few years, Leah could safely say she had enough information on Missingno to write a book on it. Missingno was the star of an urban legend that started to gain attention around a decade ago when a famous Pokemon capturer from Viridian vanished while looking for it on Cinnabar Island. It gained so much attention, in fact, that some people honestly believed that it existed, though its origin story changed depending on whom you were talking to. There was even a petition that circulated the internet a year back that was tried to get the Pokemon League to acknowledge Missingno’s existence and put it into the Pokedex.
Leah had gotten sick of Missingno stories soon after it gained a wide audience. There were only so many times she could run into it on the internet before she became annoyed by the whole thing. It didn’t help that her grandmother had known the vanished capturer and told her that the man had drug problems and had probably wandered into the jungle while high and had fallen into a ditch somewhere… Okay, those weren’t her exact words, but it was what she implied.
Either way, the entire thing was just stupid.
“Well…” Zach said, rubbing the back of his head.
Zack was quiet for a moment and then said, “… A few years back, Nat and I went to Cinnabar searching for one and we both saw something.”
“You looked for one of those things?” Leah said, holding back an additional comment on how stupid that was. Why would anyone seriously go chasing an urban legend for?
Ashley was still clueless. “What’s so bad about them?”
Leah met Chandelle’s gaze, motioning for her to do the explaining.
“Missingno are said to be glitches of reality and can damage it on a whim,” the older girl said carefully. “There have been many… stories that they can erase people from existence or drive them insane.”
“Does it exist?” Ashley asked, frowning. “I mean if there’s all this information on it-”
“There’s only been sightings and disappearances,” Zach said. “No one has actually captured it in a Poke Ball or on video.”
Natalie added, “But we’ve seen it and it looked a lot like the thing from last night. They’re both black and ghost-like with glowing white eyes.”
“Missingno don’t usually look like that,” Chandelle pointed out.
“I know, but they’re shape shifters, right? It’s only one of their forms.”
Zach sighed. “We’re not saying it’s Missingno, just that it could be. Besides, it doesn’t really matter what the ghost is.”
Natalie shot her friend a hurt look. “Zach, I think this is kind of important! We can’t fight an unknown ghost!”
Shaking his head, Zach said, “It went down pretty easy to light. If there are more of them, I don’t think they’ll be much of a problem.”
“The ghost disappeared; we don’t know if it was defeated. It just ran,” Natalie insisted. “I think we should find out more about these ghosts. What if they are Missingno and we run into them again?”
“Nat, do you want them to be Missingno?”
“Then let’s drop it. While the ghosts are creepy, we should concentrate on Team Rocket; they’re the important part here.”
“I can’t just drop it!” Natalie snapped. “I know Team Rocket is important, but-” Natalie sighed, the anger leaving her expression. “I really don’t like the look of these ghosts. No one recognizes them and I’ve never heard of a ghost that will try to eat a human. And with it looking like Missingno…”
Letting out a breath, Zach said, “Do you want to leave? We can take a bus to Saffron if you really want to go.”
“Not yet,” Natalie said, rubbing her eyes. “I guess… Sorry, Zach, I’m just tired. Maybe if I got more sleep I’d be more up to this. Nothing’s really happened yet and I’m already creep-ed out.”
“It’s alright, Nat. I’m tired too. You want to go to Starbucks or something? Maybe that’ll help.”
Natalie rose to her feet. “All right.”
As Zach got up to join her, she turned to everyone else. “Sorry about interrupting.”
“We’ll talk more later,” Zach added, waving goodbye.
“Bye,” Ashley said, but Leah and Chandelle were silent as they watched the couple leave.
“…Do you think it’s a Missingno?” Ashley asked.
“It’d better not be,” Leah found herself saying. While she was firm in her belief that Missingno did not exist, it still begged the question of what the ghost from last night was. The only thing she could think of was that the ghost was a shiny Pokemon of some sort and the dim lighting made it seem like a different Pokemon altogether.
Really, she could speculate all she wanted, but until she got a clearer image of the ghost, there really wasn’t a point.
Chandelle took one more sip of her coffee before sliding out of the booth.
“Where you going?” Leah asked.
“I need to check up on a few things,” Chandelle said grimly, following the path Zach and Natalie took out of the restaurant.
Ashley waited until Chandelle was out of sight before asking, “What do you think she’s doing?”
Leah remembered Chandelle’s reasons for coming to Lavender Town. “It doesn’t matter,” she said. “It’s none of our business.”
After that, it was with great drowsiness that Leah found herself back in the lobby of the Pokemon Center, sprawled out on one of the plush chairs. She had neither the energy nor the motivation to go all the way back to her room, so the chair became her substitute bed. Her body demanded sleep and she had no choice but to give it some if she was going to do anything useful later in the day.
Ashley joined her on the chairs, but she was doing something actually useful: watching the news on TV in relation to Pokemon Tower.
The TV wasn’t very loud, so it was easily ignored. It helped that the reporter onscreen was talking in a droning voice, the perfect background noise to going to sleep with. While the news was could have contained important information on Leah current situation, she had no interest in it. She didn’t care that Zach and Natalie thought something bad was going on; she wasn’t going to get involved. As soon as she found Ed and Ally and made sure they were alright, she was leaving Lavender.
Over the next twenty minutes, Leah drifted in and out of sleep, dreaming of many strange things. Just as she was sure that she was about to completely fall asleep, there was a thump from the chair next to her.
Opening one eye, Leah glared at the person who disturbed her. To her surprise, however, it was Chandelle, who was frowning deeply as she bent over her bag, digging through it.
Leah would have liked to go back to sleep, but an irate Chandelle was a rare thing and she found her curiosity piqued.
“The Pokemon Storage System is offline,” Chandelle said in a clipped tone. She gave a small sound of frustration as she came back up from her bag empty handed.
Leah blinked, sitting up properly. As far as she knew, the Storage System wasn’t offline too often.
“Is it broken or something?”
“I don’t know.”
“What were you trying to do?”
“I need to switch over some of my Pokemon. If the situation gets any worse then I must be prepared.” Chandelle sighed, throwing her hair over her shoulder and then leaning back in her chair. “A Rotom and a wild Magneton are not enough protection.”
“… You think it’s going to get worse?”
Chandelle gave her a strange look. “Don’t you?”
Honestly, Leah didn’t care if it did. As long as she wasn’t in town when it happened, then what did it matter?
“-was last seen two days ago at Pokemon Tower,” the reporter on the TV said. “Officials are uncertain whether Mr. Fuji has anything to do with the mysterious lockdown of Pokemon Tower.”
“Fuji?” Leah said.
Ashley looked over. “You don’t know who that is?”
“Everyone knows about him,” Ashley went on. “He takes care of Pokemon Tower.”
Leah looked at the screen, which showed a picture of an old Japanese man.
“So he’s missing?”
“Looks like.” Ashley frowned. “I wonder what happened to him…”
The screen cut to outside the Tower with the reporter and a blond middle-aged woman.
“Victoria Reed has worked at Pokemon Tower for over ten years and works directly under Mr. Fuji. Victoria, why do you think the Pokemon Tower closed up?”
The woman didn’t look comfortable to be on camera. “I- It’s hard to say,” she said, hesitating. “Halloween is just weeks away, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if the ghosts were acting up, though-”
“Is this filmed live?”
Leah looked up at the sudden question, glancing at Ashley. The blond had her eyes cemented on the screen.
“Maybe?” Leah shrugged, having no clue. “Why?”
The blond narrowed her eyes.
“Do you… know her?” Leah asked.
“She’s my mom.”
That wasn’t what Leah had been expecting.
Ashley didn’t reply.
“So your mom works at Pokemon Tower?” Leah mused out loud, looking at the screen.
With barely a grunt, Ashley leapt out of her feet and went towards the front door. Leah swung her head around.
“Hey, where you going?”
“I’m going to find my mom; she should be home now,” Ashley said, just before she went out the door.
Leah got up, cursing at both her body for how sluggish it felt, and Ashley for making her get up in the first place.
“I’m going after her,” she told Chandelle.
The older girl waved her off and Leah left.
Ashley didn’t say anything when Leah followed her to the bus stop, got on the bus, and then took a seat beside her.
The bus was already well on its way when Ashley said, “I didn’t want you to come. Why did you?”
“Why not? Are you not allowed to have friends over?”
Ashley snorted. “Never asked.”
Honestly, Leah didn’t know why she followed Ashley either. She should have been getting some much needed rest, not going on a field trip with a girl she hardly knew.
Though, even if they had barely known each other a week, Leah liked the blond. She was annoying and loud at times, but there was a certain charm to her. Sometimes, she even found herself thinking Ashley as a friend… even if it did make her feel weird. The blond looked so much younger than her and barely reached her waist. Every time Leah glanced at her, she remembered that this girl was only the same age as Ed and Ally. She wasn’t sure if it was the swearing or the secrecy, but Ashley seemed so unlike her previous charges.
Either way, Ashley was her friend and that meant Leah had the right to be worried about her livelihood. It just wasn’t natural for someone as young as Ashley to be so… mysterious.
“… You know,” Leah said, choosing her words carefully, “The more secretive you are, the more assumptions I’m going to make about your home life.”
A confused look flashed past Ashley’s face, before it turned into a snarl.
“My parents aren’t like that!”
Leah noticed a few people turning their heads at the yell, and glared at them until they looked away.
“Then tell me about yourself,” Leah suggested.
Ashley was scowling low in her seat, arms crossed. It might’ve made Leah rethink about pushing if the blond didn’t look so adorable while doing it.
Rolling her eyes, Leah said, “Fine, I’ll start. My name is Leah Gordon and I’m from Pallet Town. I usually live with my grandmother, and I have two Pokemon, Sands the Sandslash and Zee the Drowzee.” She paused as she wondered what else to say. “… I love Jason Dare, I don’t like storms, and my favorite Pokemon is Salamence. Your turn.”
“… My name is Ashley Reed and I’m from Lavender Town,” Ashley said quietly, eyes focused on the window. “My parents are divorced but I mostly live with my mom. I have one Pokemon, Zu-Zu, though I want more. I love all things Pokemon, I hate people’s stupid assumptions, and my favorite Pokemon is Lanturn, I guess.”
“See, that wasn’t so hard,” Leah said, smiling slightly as she digested the information. She didn’t really get any tangible information, but it was a start, at least.
She glanced at Ashley, who was still frowning.
“Oh, quit pouting. What does it matter that I know things about you?”
“… Have you ever-” Ashley shook her head. “Never mind.”
“Seriously, what? I’m not going to laugh.”
Ashley sat up straighter.
“We’re here,” she said.
The bus pulled to a stop in a suburban neighborhood. Ashley got out of her seat before Leah could say anything, and the older girl was forced to follow. Once off the bus, Ashley walked quickly with her hands in her pockets and her head low. Leah’s height allowed her to easily keep up with the blond’s pace. Leah wanted to restart the conversation from before but every time she glanced at Ashley’s closed off face, she thought better of it.
The neighborhood was nothing like Ed’s or even her own. Instead of the cheery middle-class homes or the old and possibly haunted houses, these homes seemed small and cramped. There were no sidewalks so Leah and Ashley walked just off the road on the patched grass.
About five minutes into their hike, Ashley turned a corner and cut across a lawn to get to the house on the other side. It was a small, modest home with white plaster walls and a plain garden out front. Ashley knocked on the door as Leah shifted behind her, suddenly reevaluating her decision to come here.
Before Leah could make an excuse and run, the door opened, revealing the middle-aged woman from the television. She looked at both of them with something like disbelief.
“Hi, Mom,” Ashley said quietly.
“… Ashley?” she said, surprise evident in her tone. “What are you doing here? I- I thought I told you to stay at the Pokemon Center at Rock Tunnel.”
Ashley shrugged. “I didn’t want to stay there anymore. Can we come in?”
The woman blinked. “O- Of course.” She opened the door wider and Ashley didn’t hesitate on entering. Leah reluctantly followed her, feeling out of her depth.
As Leah followed Ashley’s example by taking off her shoes, the woman asked her, “And who might you be…?”
“She’s Leah!” Ashley said, going into another room.
Leah nodded at the woman and followed the blond to the family room. Ashley was sprawled out on the couch, leaning against the arm and when she saw Leah enter, she motioned for her to sit beside her. The springs groaned and the couch dipped under her weight as Leah sat down.
There was a strange, heavy smell in the air, one that Leah could only describe as musty. It made her nose wrinkle, but she did her best to ignore it, preferring to take a glance around the room instead.
There was a television in the corner, an old, bulky one instead of one those wide screens you saw now and days. While the floor and couch weren’t dirty, per say, there were a few stains here and there, probably made by some type of food. In the middle of the room, the floor turned into linoleum and with the addition of counters, a kitchen. There were dirty plates and glasses on the counter and over the sink, on the window sill, were several orange-tinted pill bottles.
Leah glanced over to Ashley, but the blond avoided her eyes, only staring at the wall in fake interest.
The woman entered the room, holding her arms and looking lost. She looked from Ashley to Leah, then back again, before sighing and going into the kitchen. She picked up one of the pill bottles and drowned a couple of pills down with water.
“Would you like some water?” she then asked them, already taking glasses from the cupboard.
Ashley shook her head, but Leah accepted a glass when it was offered to her. The woman remained standing with own cup in hand, staring down on them with an unreadable expression on her face.
Finally, she said, “What are you doing here, Ashley?”
The blond leaned back into the couch. “I saw you on TV, so here I am,” she said.
“In Lavender,” Victoria whispered, shaking her head. She raised her voice. “I thought I told you to stay at the Pokemon Center at Rock Tunnel.”
“I didn’t want to.” Ashley shrugged in casual disinterest. “It was really boring.”
Leah sipped her water, listening to the sound of a car whizzing past outside.
“Ashley, listen to me,” Victoria said, taking a deep breath, “you must go back through Rock Tunnel. You can’t stay in Lavender-”
“Why not?” Ashley asked, her voice gaining the common tone of an annoyed teenager.
“Don’t ask questions. You have to leave.”
“No!” the blond snapped, crossing her arms. “I’m not moving until I know what’s going on!”
Leah really didn’t want to intervene, but she couldn’t help but add, “Is it because of what’s going on with Pokemon Tower?”
The woman continued staring at Ashley, looking like she hadn’t heard Leah.
However, Ashley grasped hold of Leah’s theory. “No. It’s the tower, isn’t it?” she challenged. “Something to do with the tower.”
Seeing as it was her only chance to get information, Leah further asked, “Did you know this was going to happen?”
Victoria was silent as she stared down into her drink.
Ashley huffed. “Mom! I’m not a kid! Just tell me!”
When the mother didn’t reply, the blond opened her mouth to say more, but Victoria sighed and stopped her with a wave of her hand.
“No, I- I’ll tell you,” she said quietly. “For the past few weeks, I’ve noticed… strange people wandering around town. They dress all in black and they all have a red pin on their shirts. I tried ignoring them, but they gave me a bad feeling.” She paused, gathering her thoughts. “Not only that, but the ghosts have been much more aggressive than usual. I think they, like me, sensed something bad was about to happen.”
“That’s why you sent me away?” Ashley asked, frowning. “Because you thought something bad was going to happen?”
“Couldn’t the people have just been… Goths or something?” Leah added with similar disbelief. While intuition was somewhat useful at making snap decisions, sending a family member away because of it was a bit much.
Even when hearing the tone of their voices, Victoria only sipped her drink. “I have lived in this town for my entire life,” she said. “Ever since I was a little girl, I have been able to tell when something bad was going to happen.” She saw the doubt on their faces. “This may seem unreal to you, but this sixth sense has never proven me wrong. I trust it.”
Honestly, Leah thought it was more likely that any ‘feelings’ that predicted bad events were just coincidences. If the woman had a bad feeling, then she would automatically pay more attention to any bad events in her life and contribute them to it. Just because they seemed to be related to each other didn’t mean they were.
But that didn’t change the fact that the people she described sounded awfully like the vague description she had gotten of Team Rocket. Black wardrobe? Check. Red pins? She didn’t know, but she could easily find out.
“I didn’t want to send you off on your own,” Victoria continued, looking at Ashley. “But whatever was going to happen was going to big and I- I didn’t want you apart of it.” She shook her head. “The night before the tower went into lock down, I warned Mr. Fuji of my bad feelings. He agreed to look into it. Then the tower locked down and I think he’s still in there.”
“Why did the tower lockdown?” Ashley whispered, looking troubled. “It’s never done this before. You think it because of those guys in black?”
“Have you ever heard of Team Rocket before?” Leah asked the woman.
She shook her head. “No, I haven’t.”
The three sat in silence, brooding. Leah mentally sighed, wondering what to do. Obviously, something big was going down in Lavender and if it wasn’t for Ed and Ally, she would definitely consider leaving.
Though, that reminded her.
“I have a question,” Leah told Victoria, making her look up. “I’m looking for two of my friends; they came into town a few days ago. They’re ten, eleven-years-old; pretty short. The boy has orange hair, freckles, has a Parasect and a Ditto. The girl has black hair, Asian features, probably wearing a pink shirt, and has a Voltorb and a Vulpix. Their names are Ed and Ally. They’d definitely be together, and I’m kind of worried about them. Have you seen them?”
They weren’t the best descriptions, but by the time Leah had finished, Victoria was already nodding slowly.
“I’ve seen them,” she said.
Leah let out a breath. “When?”
“A few days ago. Actually-” A strange expression crossed the woman’s face, one between confusion, half dawning fear. “I- I didn’t remember them until you described them to me. I wasn’t paying attention to them, but they- two children matching that description were with Fuji, the night the tower went into lockdown.”
It took a few seconds for that to sink into Leah’s brain. After which, she thought many things, most boiling down to: ****.
Now what was she supposed to do? If Ed and Ally were trapped in the tower with Fuji then there wasn’t much she could do. She assumed that the people investigating the tower’s lockdown were smart enough to try breaking the windows, but if they couldn’t open it, who said she could? Was she just supposed to wait until the tower unlocked itself? That could take forever!
And then there was Team Rocket. Even with a name as stupid as that, Zach and Natalie both vouched for the team’s evilness. She didn’t know how Team Rocket was tied into the whole tower mess except for the fact that they were.
But seriously, what was she supposed to do?
“Do you think the tower will unlock by itself?” Leah asked Victoria.
The woman only looked pained. “I- I don’t know. I’m sorry.”
Leah looked away, not knowing how to proceed.
She looked up.
“If it’s any consolation,” Victoria said, looking down at her glass. “Fuji told me that if anything were to happen to the tower and he wasn’t available, I was to notify the Elite Four immediately.”
“Have you?” Leah asked, her mind taking that information and going into overdrive. Why would the Elite Four have to be notified about the tower and not the Pokemon League? Why specifically the Elite Four?
Victoria frowned. “I called the number I was supposed to, but I didn’t talk to the Elite Four directly, only a messenger. I’m not sure when they’ll get it.”
“Call them again and tell them kids are stuck in the tower, too,” Leah ordered. “That’ll make them come quicker.”
“I can’t,” Victoria said, sounding frustrated. “I tried calling them this morning, but it wouldn’t go through. The phone lines are jammed.”
Leah felt a shiver creep down her spine. Hearing that the phones were down was the worst thing to hear in horror movies, and since she was in a town filled with ghosts, Leah couldn’t help but feel she was in one. Lavender had a tower that contained nothing but graves for crying out loud. Enough bad horror movies were filmed in Lavender, anyways.
“Ashley,” Victoria said, making the blond look up. “Go back through Rock Tunnel.”
“What? No!” Ashley sat up straighter, looking ready to argue her point. “I want to stay-”
“Ashley.” Victoria’s voice gained an edge. “Don’t argue. I don’t want you in Lavender.”
Ashley rolled her eyes. “Oh, so now that something interesting is happening, you want me to leave.”
“This isn’t the time-”
“Don’t tell me what to do!” Ashley snarled. “I’m going to stay in Lavender! It’s not like I’ll be in danger!”
“I can’t take that chance.” The hand that held Victoria’s glass tightened, turning the knuckles white. “I can’t-”
Ashley stood up. “I’m not defenseless!” she said, her face turning red. “I’m not a kid! You can’t tell me what to do!”
“I’m your mother-”
That statement hung in the air between them as Leah tried not to choke on the tension. She did not get out of bed that morning just to wind up a witness in a family argument.
“I don’t want you in Lavender,” Victoria whispered in the heavy silence. “I don’t want you here.”
“Well, good thing I won’t be staying here then,” Ashley declared, purposely mishearing her mother’s words. “I’ll stay at the Pokemon Center on Route Eight.”
Victoria repeated her daughter’s words under her breath silently, a bit of confusion coming over her face. Slowly, she said, “But wasn’t that the Pokemon Center…”
Like a flip of a switch, Victoria’s mood turned around. She put down her empty glass and an edge entered her voice, the kind of edge parents got when they wanted to rule their children with iron fists.
“Absolutely not,” she said coldly, her voice allowing no arguments.
Even if she couldn’t see Ashley’s entire face from her angle on the couch, Leah saw the blond hesitate, her body flinching automatically from the tone.
However, Leah had to give Ashley props as she didn’t back down.
“I’m staying at the Pokemon Center,” Ashley repeated a bit slower. “And there’s nothing you can do about it.”
“Someone died there,” Victoria argued. “Just this morning. You must know.”
“Of course. I was there,” Ashley said.
Leah tried not to facepalm.
Apparently, Ashley knew her words were facepalm-worthy too as she continued, “And you know what killed it? A Charmeleon’s Flash attack. Only one attack from one Pokemon. The Pokemon Center is filled with trainers with tons of Pokemon! It must be the safest place in Lavender Town! And the guy who died didn’t die in the Pokemon Center. It was outside.”
It was a good recovery and was even partly true. The problem was that everyone on the scene, including Leah herself, didn’t do anything. She and everyone else only watched as the guy was being eaten by a ghost. If Zach and Natalie weren’t there, Leah had to wonder how long it would take until someone stepped in and did something. If people hesitated when something bad was going on right in front of them, how were they supposed to be trusted to help unconditionally? Not only that, but the Pokemon Center was already rather empty last night, before the attack. That morning, the place was practically deserted, and Leah wouldn’t be surprised if she, Ashley, Chandelle, Zach, and Natalie were the last people in the Pokemon Center by the time they got back.
Pokemon Centers were safe, but it didn’t mean they were impervious to all danger. If what Victoria said was true, that something bad was on its way, then things would only get worse. While Chandelle, Zach, and Natalie’s Pokemon seemed to be able to take care of them, Leah had only one useable Pokemon, really, and she might as well not even count Ashley.
If only she had no conscience and could just ignore Ed and Ally’s situation, then she wouldn’t have to think about such things. She could just leave. Unfortunately, she wasn’t a sociopath and all she could do was hope that things would work out.
“I don’t want you there,” Victoria said. “If you must stay in Lavender, then you’ll stay with me.”
“No, I want to stay with Leah.”
Suddenly, the overprotective glare of a mother was upon her and Leah tried not to fidget in place. The gaze made her feel like all of her misdeeds (which was a long list) were being read out to a crowd of judges that wanted her to be hanged. It was one thing to observe a family argument and another to be brought into it.
“You can’t ask a stranger to protect you,” Victoria said, turning back to Ashley.
“Leah’s my friend, not a stranger.”
“And how long have you known her for?”
Ashley stuck out her chin. “I met her on my first day at Rock Tunnel. So, two weeks. She’s a really good trainer,” she added.
Leah tried not to wince at the blatant lies that were coming from Ashley’s mouth. Two weeks? More like four days. And that wasn’t even starting on the trainer thing.
Victoria looked at the older again, and asked, “How old is she?”
“Seventeen,” Ashley said without hesitation.
Victoria looked hesitant. At the look, Ashley added, “Chandelle will be with us, too. She’s Leah’s friend. She has really strong Pokemon and is, like, twenty.”
Her case having been made, Ashley crossed her arms and waited for the final verdict. The blond seemed confident but Leah saw the doubt on Victoria’s face, how she kept stopping herself from reaching up to clasp her necklace in a nervous habit.
“No,” Victoria finally said.
Ashley stood in shock. “What? Why?!”
“I can’t trust strangers to protect you, Ashley. While they may have good intentions, they won’t be there for you all the time. Your Zubat cannot provide adequate protection and if a wild Pokemon attacks, you have no way of defending yourself.”
“I told you!” Ashley said, frustrated. “Leah is going to be with me and she’s not going to leave me alone!”
“I think Leah has enough to deal with without you adding to it,” Victoria shot back.
And that was true. Leah did have a lot of things to deal with (Ed and Ally were locked in the tower, Sands was still misbehaving…) and a tagalong would just add to that. However, Ashley was growing on her and while Leah couldn’t trust the blond to battle to save her life, she was more mature and capable than Victoria assumed.
Leah coughed. “I don’t mind looking after her.”
As long as ‘looking after’ meant ‘doing what she wanted and letting the blond follow’, then Leah was surprised at herself that she didn’t really mind.
Ashley gestured to Leah. “See? She doesn’t mind!”
“Thank you for volunteering, Leah,” Victoria said gently, “but Ashley will stay with me.”
And Ashley blew up.
“No! You can’t just order me around!” she screamed. “I’m old enough to decide for myself! You never let me do what I want! I bet you won’t even when I turn twenty!”
The blond spun on heel, stomping towards the door as she called out behind her, “Come on, Leah! We’re leaving!”
Leah glanced at Victoria, taking in her miserable look, before getting off the couch and following. At the doorway, however, she hesitated, looking back at Ashley’s mother.
“I’ll… keep an eye on her,” she promised. Then, after putting on her shoes, she exited the house and crossed the lawn, where Ashley was waiting. Leah almost expected Ashley’s mother to follow them out of the house in one last attempt to stop them, but she didn’t.
The two of them walked back to the bus stop without saying a word. It was only when they were waiting for the bus did Ashley speak up.
“She’s always getting in my way,” the blond grumbled, fists clenching. “I hate her.”
“… She just didn’t want you to get hurt,” Leah said after a pause. “She looked pretty sad.”
“It serves her right! She’s always stopped me from doing anything! I’m hardly allowed to go outside anymore!” Ashley leaned back into the bunch, sighing as all the anger seemed to drain out of her. “Just because…”
When Ashley didn’t go on, Leah felt it was a good idea to change the topic.
“What about your dad? Do you see him often?”
Ashley brightened up. “Oh, he’s cool, way better than Mom. He lets me do what I want as long as I’m back home before ten PM.”
That sounded a bit more like irresponsible parenting to Leah, but she kept her thoughts quiet.
“You live with both of your parents?”
“Yeah, I change houses every few days.”
“Must be annoying.”
“I’m used to it.”
The conversation petered out and Leah and Ashley were quiet as the bus came and picked them up. They were dropped off close to the Pokemon Center and they walked the rest of the way. Just when they were getting close, Leah saw a Pidgeot fly overhead, its long wings pumping as it got higher. She could barely catch a glimpse of the person riding it.
“Whoa, what Pokemon is that?” Ashley asked, pointing.
Right outside the Pokemon Center was a large green dragon with red-rimmed wings and what looked like red glasses over its eyes. A boy was securing a saddle to its back as the dragon’s long tail whipped back in forth in impatience.
“Can’t remember,” Leah said, knowing she’d seen the Pokemon somewhere but couldn’t recall its name. “I think it’s from Hoenn.”
They stopped to watch the boy climb onto the Pokemon’s back and motion for the dragon to fly. With a few flap of its wings, the dragon leapt into the air, the boy holding on tight, and the Pokemon was airborne, taking off into the sky.
While Leah wasn’t a trainer, she wondered whether she should consider getting a flying-type that could get her places. It would cut down on the travelling time by a reasonable amount and it’d definitely be cool to fly… However, she was looking for adventure and that was usually found between cities. So if she just flew over all of that, she might miss out on opportunities.
Though that didn’t mean she was saying no to a flying-type. She’d love to have something like a Salamence. That would be cool.
“Hey! Over here!”
Leah turned her head, seeing Natalie waving at them from beside the Pokemon Center’s doors. Ashley waved back and rushed over while Leah took her time.
“Where’s Zach?” Leah asked, not seeing him around.
“He went to look at Pokemon Tower.” Natalie said. “He should be back soon.”
The screen doors of the Pokemon Center whooshed open as two women walked out, wearing large backpacks.
“Everyone’s leaving,” Ashley said, watching them go.
Natalie sighed. “Everyone’s spooked. You should have seen all the people that left early this morning. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bigger rush of trainers in one place.”
“Aren’t you going?” Leah asked.
“I’m not sure. Zach and I are still deciding. It’s not like this is the worst thing that’s happened when we were at a Pokemon Center.” Natalie smiled. “One time, when we were near Mount Silver, a wild Steelix got out of the mountain and almost destroyed the Pokemon Center we were at.”
“A Steelix?” Ashley repeated with awe. “Wow.”
Natalie laughed. “We were lucky we weren’t hurt, honestly.”
As Natalie told more stories to Ashley about her adventures, Leah retreated into her thoughts.
She didn’t know what to do. Here she was, doing nothing outside the Pokemon Center while Ed and Ally were trapped in a tower. She wanted to do something, but what could she do? She had no weapons or strong Pokemon, and it wasn’t like she was some kickass action girl like Chandelle who could fight by herself. She was only some fifteen-year-old who was in over her head… Again.
Ashley laughed, making Leah blink and rub her eyes.
She really needed more sleep.
“Where’s Chandelle?” Leah asked Natalie.
“The long-haired girl? I haven’t seen her since this morning.”
Leah didn’t know what Chandelle was up to, though it would have been nice if she was around. While her personality needed improvement, at least Chandelle seemed to know what she was doing. Maybe she could help her out.
Shaking her head, Leah said, “I’m going to go look around.”
Ashley perked up.
“I’ll come with you.”
“No,” Leah said. “Stay here.”
Leah did promise Ashley’s mother she’d look after her, but that didn’t mean she wanted to be with the blond twenty-four / seven. Leah needed to think and if she just stayed at the Pokemon Center then she’d never get left alone.
“You don’t need to worry about me,” Ashley said, scowling.
“I’m not,” Leah said. “I just need to think. I’ll be back later.”
Putting her hands in her pockets, Leah started to walk.
The rest of the day was spent wandering the town, thinking. There wasn’t much else she could do. At least walking around was better than doing nothing.
Lavender Town was much like Pallet, she found. It was a small place with old-fashioned houses and shops, and where everyone knew each other. Unlike Pallet, however, Lavender had a somber feel to it, almost like the whole town was tinted in a shade of gray. Maybe the tower lockdown was just making people worried, but she never saw anyone smiling or walking around town like she was. It was like as soon as their task was completed, the townspeople immediately went back home, not milling around.
It was a depressing place and Leah wished she didn’t have to stick around.
Eventually, she found herself walking away from the center of town and towards Pokemon Tower, which rose in the distance. The tower was the tallest building in Lavender and could be seen from a long ways around. It was an old thing, and as far as Leah knew, it was only used for church services and that situated on the bottom floor. The rest of the tower served as a cemetery for dead Pokemon, which was the oddest place for a cemetery she had ever heard of. It sounded like a waste of a tower.
The sun was already setting in the distance, casting the sky in orange and gold. It was depressingly early for the sun to set, and she knew that the sun would only set earlier and earlier until spring arrived. It was annoying and she wondered how trainers were supposed to travel in winter if they hardly got any daylight. She supposed that was just another reason trainers usually took a break around that time.
The constant crunch of gravel under her shoes was her only company the entire trip to the tower. Everything else was silent.
The road reached a dead-end, the tower being the only building in the area. Leah stopped in front of the impressive stone staircase and craned her neck as she stared up to the top of the tower. If Ed and Ally were in the tower, she wondered if they could see her from there.
No one stopped her from climbing the steps and trying the front door. It was locked, obviously, but she felt she had to try.
It felt odd to her that the tower wasn’t being guarded at that very moment. Weren’t people curious of why the tower was locked up? She half-expected to see news crews still filming here, but it looked like everyone had abandoned the area.
Leah shivered, not sure whether it was because of the cold or because she just realized how alone she was. Against her will, she went around the base of the tower and tried peering in the first-story windows, but all she could see was black. She squinted her eyes and tried looking closer (there had to be something) when a pair of bright white eyes appeared right in front of her.
“Holy-!” A pulse of fear went thought her and she found herself jumping back, nearly falling off the big hill the tower was sitting on.
She heard what sounded like a snicker and a black being materialized on the other side of the window, attached to the white eyes. The ghost phased through the glass, still snickering, and looked down on her.
The ghost was like the one from last night, completely black, and had strange black claws like a Haunter. Unlike the one from last night, it had a big, white, and open-mouthed smile that seemed to be frozen onto its face. It looked like no ghost she had ever seen and that made her more nervous than anything else.
Keeping an eye on the ghost, Leah backtracked to the stairs and carefully walked down, knowing how a regular ghost’s fun would include pushing her down them. To her unease, the ghost followed her. It didn’t attack her or do anything threatening; it just… followed with that big grin on its face.
Speeding up, Leah jumped the last three steps and fast-walked back towards town. She tried to squash the urge to run, as if there was a fight she would need to conserve her energy. Just in case, she felt for a specific Poke Ball in her pocket and released Zee next to her.
Instead of looking around like she normally did when just released, Zee immediately zeroed in on the ghost, shooting it an uneasy look.
“Ignore it,” Leah told her Drowzee, taking her Pokemon’s hand within her own. “Just… hold my hand while we walk, okay?”
Zee squeezed her hand, her claws lightly pricking the trainer’s skin, but didn’t stop glancing at the ghost.
Leah resumed her walk, now with Zee at her side. Having a Pokemon out would usually make her feel better, but physical contact allowed her to feel her Drowzee’s strong emotions involuntarily. A deep dark blue kept flashing in Leah’s mind, bringing with it an intense and almost primal fear. When her own Pokemon was more scared of a ghost she had only looked at than Leah was after spending two days in Lavender, then Leah thought it was likely she was in a very bad situation.
The urge to run was almost irresistible, but Leah was afraid that it would only provoke the ghost. Instead, she kept a fast, if stiff, walk, trying not to glance over her shoulder.
It felt like hours until they reached the more busy parts of Lavender and it was only then that Leah let herself look back.
The ghost wasn’t gone, but it floated further behind, still staring at her with a grin.
Shuddering, Leah made her way back to the Pokemon Center.
By the time she got there, the ghost was truly gone, and she felt the cold tide of relief sweep through her.
Safe at last. She was never exploring Lavender again, that was for sure.
There were only three people in the lobby, no one Leah knew, and all of them were gathered in front of one of the couches, having a heated discussion.
“-Does this place even have a hospital?”
One of them was typing on a phone. “There’s a clinic, but it’s closed.”
“There are nurses here.”
“They’re for Pokemon, not for humans, moron!”
Leah stared at them. What was going on?
“We should call the police; let them handle it.”
“What if they think we did this?”
“That’s stupid. Why would they think that?”
Not wanting anymore surprises that evening, Leah made her way over to them with Zee still clutching her hand.
“What are you guys-” she began to say, but the words died in her mouth as she caught a glance of the occupant of the couch.
She was deathly pale and had scratches over her skinny arms and face. Her black hair was matted with twigs and her clothes were dirty and torn. One of her hands was tightened around a Poke Ball and the other lay limply on her stomach.
The person was unmistakable.
The bright rays of the dying sun shone from the roof-high windows, casting a red glow on the room. The Pokemon Tower was the highest building in Lavender Town and, as Ed found out as the hours past, had the best view. The mountains cradled the bloody sunset with its jagged peaks and instead of being in awe of the sight, he could only feel depressed. Mountains reminded him of his mother as she loved mountains. A car ride could rarely go by without his mother telling him to look out the window to see the pretty mountains.
Ed brought his knees closer to his chest, ignoring his stomach’s feeble growls.
He would rather be at home than trapped in a haunted tower. It was dinner time now and he was sure that his mom was serving dinner to everyone at that very moment. He wondered what they were eating. Maybe chicken, or pasta, or even pizza if his mom didn’t feel like cooking. He could almost hear his mother’s yell that would call everyone into the kitchen to dish up. His dad would enter the kitchen first, eager to eat, and then his brother would wander in from the computer room, hooking his cane to his chair before sitting down.
His mouth watered at the very thought. When his parents tried to stop him going on his journey, he put up a big fuss, but he knew that the one place he would rather be at that moment was home. His journey was fun at first as Leah never stopped him and Ally from eating junk food for dinner, but he sometimes forgot how much he liked a home cooked meal.
A voice came from behind him.
“Are you alright, Ed?”
Ed didn’t turn around to face Fuji. “I’m fine,” he muttered, even though his stomach growled again.
“Just hang in there,” Fuji said, putting a hand on his back. “Help will be here soon.”
‘You said that on the first day,’ Ed thought bitterly, but didn’t voice. There was no point.
He heard Fuji sigh and the hand left his back. Ed turned his head and watched the man walk back to his office. Fuji had told him that he was trying to work out a solution, but any hope Ed had died hours ago.
The only reason they hadn’t been taken by the ghosts was that the top floor of the tower was warded against them. The ghosts couldn’t get in, but that didn’t matter much when they couldn’t get out. All the ghosts had to do was wait for them to die of starvation.
Ed felt tears prickling the corner of his eyes.
He thought that sneaking into Pokemon Tower would be an adventure, but it was anything but. He just wanted to forget those guys in black, forget that Marowak died, forget that they were trapped, forget that Ally was…
He just wanted to go home.
This wasn’t an adventure anymore.
Swallowing down a lump in his throat, he wiped away any tears with his shirt. He didn’t want to cry in front of people he didn’t know, especially her.
Ed snuck a glance at the woman, who was huddled in a corner with her back pressed against the wall. She had taken off her black jacket, revealing a plain purple shirt, and had her head back with her eyes closed. The only movement she had done in hours was the continuous stroking of her Houndoom’s head, who was pressed up against her side.
The Team Rocket woman killed Marowak and due to the situation, Ed was stuck in the room with her. After the first few heated hours, Ed had taken to ignoring her and the woman replicated the action. But that didn’t mean that Ed wasn’t angry. He was; he could feel the simmering anger underneath his hunger, but he couldn’t make any use of it.
Ed had wanted to tie her up with Coralie or put her to sleep with Parasect, and it was for those reasons that the woman kept her Houndoom with her. Any attempts to do anything to her would be met with a Flamethrower, or so she said. So there was no other choice but to leave her alone. She made no attempts at conversation and Ed was glad for it. He didn’t think he could keep himself from yelling, otherwise.
All three of them were trapped. If they tried to leave by the door, or even break the windows, the ghosts would be able to get in. Ed didn’t know what the ghosts would do to them (though he remembered what they did to the woman’s friends), and Fuji refused to let them find out.
So their only choice was to starve, hoping that rescue would come.
Ed looked out at the sunset again, trying not to bury his head in his knees.
All he could do was wait.
A/N: YES. IT IS DONE. I NEVER WANT TO SEE THIS CHAPTER AGAIN.
Anyways, let’s see if I can get my schedule back on track. Hopefully, I should update again in three weeks.
February 12th, 2011 (4:39 PM).
Yay, another chapter! I really like the way you've built up tension- showing everything from Leah's point of view and then switching to Ed's was extremely effective. I really, really liked the bit about Missingno and hope to see more about that in the future. Otherwise it'll seem like such an interesting explanation was wasted...
It might be really useful to put a little Previously in Mentor... blurb at the beginning of each chapter because although I remember bits and pieces of what is going on, I have a hard time following the whole thing. Anyway, nice chapter, keep up the great writing!