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NOTE: As I have posted chapters 1-4 on Serebii already, they will be posted here in fairly rapid succession. This is still a work in progress, however. So, when there is a sudden gap between posting dates, it is because I'm busy trying to get the next chapters written. This project will not die! Not on my watch!
Anyway, without any further babble on my part, here is the story! Thank you for taking the time to read, and I hope you enjoy...
Against All Odds: Shadows over Hoenn
Rated PG-15 for Violence,Use of Profane Language, and Mature Themes
“We need to shut down the forest. It is becoming too dangerous.” Professor Birch reiterated the statement to President Stone of the Devon Corporation.
“I don’t see why this is necessary. Aren’t Pokémon attacks common? Especially in such a diverse ecosystem as the Petalburg Forest?” Mr. Stone asked.
“Yes, but not like this. These Pokémon aren’t defending their territory like usual. They’re purposely seeking out and attacking humans.” Professor Birch turned to his companion. “Norman, you tell him.” Mr. Stone turned his chair to the second man standing in front of his desk.
“Professor Birch is right. Mr. Stone, it is too dangerous to allow people to walk through the forest. Just yesterday a boy was carried into the Pokémon Center in Petalburg City. He was found unconscious on the side of the road just outside of the forest. If you had seen how badly he was hurt…” Norman couldn’t finish his thought. A grim look spread across his face.
“Well why don’t we just figure out what is going on and fix it? Why must we close the entire forest?” Mr. Stone still wasn’t sold on the idea of shutting down his entire forest.
“We are trying. I have been in contact with other Pokémon professors from the other regions. We are all baffled as to why this is occurring. I’m currently working with them and a few Hoenn specialists to figure this out, but as of yet we haven’t gotten far. For now we must close the forest.” The sense of urgency and desperation in the professor’s voice seemed to worry Mr. Stone, as he remained silent for a few seconds.
“Sir, if I may?” Attention was drawn to the man behind Mr. Stone. He had been there the entire time, but had remained quiet up until that point, causing both the professor and Norman to forget his presence.
“Of course, Juan, what do you think? You’re my most trusted advisor.” Mr. Stone looked over at him.
“I think that we should shut down the forest. We can instead set up a ferry service between Route 104 and Rustboro. That way we can leave the Pokémon alone and keep our finances in order through the ferry service.” The idea left the question as to whether Juan was more worried about the people, or the company.
“Finances at a time like this…” Norman grumbled under his breath.
“It’s settled then. The Petalburg Forest will be closed.” Mr. Stone stood up.
“Thank you very much. Things will be a lot safer now.” Professor Birch shook Mr. Stone’s hand. Norman did the same.
“Have a good day, gentlemen.” Mr. Stone returned to his work.
The professor and Norman exited the sprawling Devon Corporation complex, into the busy rush that was mid-day in Rustboro City.
“Well that could have gone better,” Norman said as he and Professor Birch began walking back down the street to Route 104.
“What do you mean? Mr. Stone made the right call and closed the forest.” Professor Birch looked at his companion, unsure as to what he had meant.
“He agreed right after that little weasel Juan assured that the company wouldn’t suffer financially.” Norman made a disgusted face at the thought of putting money ahead of people’s lives. “A corporation shouldn’t own public land anyway. Devon already has a monopoly on cellular service, Poké Ball production, and basically every other Hoenn-made product. Why must we give them land too?”
“Devon has lots of economic sway. Wallace, Drake, Phoebe and all of them in Ever Grande know that. From where they are it’s best to give Devon what it wants. Even if it isn’t always the best choice…”
Their conversation was interrupted by shouting on the opposite end of the street. The source of the shouting was a man in a hooded red outfit. The distinctive mountain-shaped black “M” on his chest identified him as a member of Team Magma. He was shouting at the people passing on the street. They barely acknowledged his existence.
“People of Hoenn! You have upset the balance between human and Pokémon! The time is coming that Pokémon will destroy us all! Join us, Team Magma, and save yourself!” The shouting drew little more than a few glances from the pedestrians.
“These Team Magma preachers are everywhere. Do you really think that this could be some kind of omen? That some kind of divine balance is the cause of all of this chaos?” Norman looked at Professor Birch, skeptical.
“Well, so far my entire lifetime of Pokémon experience is failing to give a logical explanation for all of this. However, I’m not sure how much I’d trust these Team Magma types,” The professor said, as the air was filled with loud shouts and cries.
Their attention was drawn to a large crowd outside the Pokémon Center. Rushing over, they grabbed the first person they saw.
“What happened here?” Norman asked the woman.
“A man was found severely injured in Petalburg Forest.”
“How is he doing now?” Professor Birch asked. The woman looked at him with a solemn look.
Norman and the Professor exchanged horrified looks, unable to speak.
Finally, the professor opened his mouth and said what he had been fearing the entire time. “It’s getting worse.
Chapter 1 – A Competition Between Friends
The hot Hoenn sun beat down on the Slateport City beach. Other than beachgoers, there were many trainers here, as a preliminary round of the Hoenn Battle Frontier was to take place.
“Blaziken, use Sky Uppercut!” Complying with his trainer’s wishes, Blaziken charged at the opponent’s Marshtomp.
This isn’t good. Marshtomp’s trainer thought. If he lands that, Marshtomp’s finished. I could try to use Water Gun, but there’s no way he’ll beat that speed. I guess I can only try…
“Marshtomp, use Water Gun!” She cried.
The words barely left her mouth as the Water Fish Pokémon leapt straight into the air. It went right over Blaziken’s fist. Upon landing on the ground, Marshtomp whirled around and opened its mouth. A forceful stream of water flowed out, striking Blaziken in the back. Surprised, Blaziken was knocked onto its knees.
“What the…” Blaziken’s trainer was stunned at what he had just witnessed. He looked at his opponent. She adjusted the red bandanna on her head with a sigh of relief.
“Don’t worry, May. I’m far from through!” He shouted across at her.
“Wow, I can’t believe that actually worked! I don’t know if you are going to win this one, Brendan!” May turned her focus to her Pokémon. “Marshtomp, use Water Gun again!”
“Marshtomp!” The Pokémon replied, getting ready to strike the still dazed Blaziken.
“Of course I’m going to win! Quick, Blaziken, you know what to do!”
The Blaze Pokémon whipped around so fast that Marshtomp almost lost its balance. It was quickly struck with the claws of the Blaziken. The attack visibly did a substantial amount of damage, as Marshtomp waddled around dazed for a few seconds before regaining composure. Marshtomp held back from fainting, however, blasting water in Blaziken’s direction. Blaziken took the Water Gun to the chest and did not move a muscle. May and Marshtomp were both stunned.
Why didn’t that work? Water is super-effective to fire! There is no way that Blaziken could have withstood two blasts of Water Gun… She was baffled.
“You really have so much to learn, May. Alright Blaziken, let’s finish this.”
Brendan didn’t have to say another word. Blaziken prepared another Sky Uppercut, sending the attack right into Marshtomp’s jaw. Unable to retaliate, it fainted.
“Awesome job, Blaziken!” Brendan exclaimed.
May retracted Marshtomp into its Poké Ball. “It’s okay. We did our best.” She wiped the sweat from her face.
“Looks like I win … Again.” Brendan boasted, putting Blaziken into its Poké Ball. Even he was out of breath from the battle.
“How did Blaziken withstand that Water Gun? Water attacks do double damage to fire-types, plus the fact that Marshtomp is a water-type makes it even more powerful. Combined with the fact that Marshtomp’s special ability Torrent raises water’s power when he’s weak, there is no way that you could last through two of them.”
“Though in the midst of your calculations, you missed the fact that Blaziken is simply tougher than normal fire-types. Come on, your father is the Petalburg City gym leader and one of the best in the region. You should know that you must keep your Pokémon strong.”
“Just because my father is a gym leader doesn’t automatically make me an amazing Pokémon trainer.”
“It should help. I mean, it would probably help if you evolved Marshtomp already, for starters.” May was used to this blunt, know-it-all type of response from Brendan. It was just his way of trying to help.
She thought about what he had said, and looked at Marshtomp’s Poké Ball in her hand.
“We’re not exactly ready for that yet.”
“You might want to consider it. It would really help.” Brendan paused and removed his hat exposing his short black hair. He proceeded to wipe his brow. “Wow, it’s so hot out.” He placed the hat back on his head. “Would you mind walking back to the hotel with me?”
“Absolutely,” May responded. The two began walking towards the sprawling seaside metropolis that was Slateport City.
“So how has the professor been?” She asked, remembering back to when she was younger and would help the professor with his Pokédex project.
“Oh, you know. He’s okay. He is busy a lot with this whole Petalburg Forest crisis. He said that wild Pokémon attacks are up 65%, and people have been getting seriously injured. I’m not sure what to make of that.” Brendan paused. “My dad was trying to get Mr. Stone from Devon to close the forest.”
“Yeah, my dad had mentioned that he was going with the professor this afternoon to discuss it. Apparently there are also these groups out there claiming that this is some kind of divine punishment.” May was unsure what to think.
“That’s crazy. I couldn’t imagine something like that. I mean, divine punishment?” As crazy as it sounded, the two friends, like everyone else in the Hoenn region, were baffled as to what these recent attacks meant.
Brendan and May approached the Slateport City Hotel. The hotel was a large modern style building overlooking the Slateport Harbor, the busiest in all of Hoenn.
“Okay, I have to go meet up with someone now. I’ll catch you later, May!” They stopped and Brendan said his goodbye before going off towards the entrance.
“Alright, bye!” May stopped and waved as he walked towards the building. A smile spread across her face. She always had enjoyed his company. Suddenly, Brendan stopped and turned back.
“Don’t forget to evolve Marshtomp!” He shouted back, as if he expected it to be evolved by the next time they met. He continued on his way. The words suddenly shifted May’s thoughts back to the utter failure of a battle that she had just participated in. It wasn’t Brendan’s fault at all. The fault was hers.
May sighed as she walked back to the beach. The sky glowed with an orange tint as the sun began to set. The water gently crashed against the sand. Staring off to sea, May found herself replaying the battle in her head. She was so sure that she had it, yet it slipped away. She and her Pokémon weren’t strong enough. It was yet another upsetting defeat, against her closest friend.
You have so much potential to be amazing, May. You just have not realized it yet. The words echoed in her ears. It had been over four years since that day. Since that fateful battle with Steven Stone. Since her lifelong dream to become one of the many to achieve the status of champion in the Hoenn region ended.
It wasn’t Steven’s fault of course. May admired him with the same intensity as the girl that grew up following his every move on TV and reading every book written by him. It was her fault for not training enough.
She sat on the warm sand and remembered that day. She had entered the champion’s room confident that she had all of her bases covered. This sense of security faded when all of her Pokémon had fainted save Swellow. The type matchup of Swellow and Aggron was tipped in Steven’s favor, though that alone wasn’t what killed the battle. It was Swellow fainting from one hit with a SolarBeam. The move was a grass-type, usually ineffective against Swellow’s flying-type. The issue was May’s lack of training. She had failed her Pokémon.
Steven had told her to train more and to return one day for a rematch. May, however, knew that she still hadn’t gotten strong enough. She was losing hope.
“It’s been four years, Steven.” May sigh and lowered her head in shame. “Where is my potential?” All was silent besides the soft crash of the waves.
Well, like I promised, here is chapter 2! As always, thank you for taking the time to read, and I hope you enjoy!
Chapter 2 – A Dire Situation
The first thing that Brendan heard was the screaming. Upon rushing outside to check out the source, he was greeted by complete chaos. People were running towards the harbor, where a large congregation was watching something going on in the water.
From what he could make out, there was a medium-sized cruise ship stopped at the harbor entrance. Smoke was rising from it, and several creatures were flying around it.
Brendan quickly grabbed the arm of the first person he could. “What is going on here?”
“It’s the Pokémon. They’re trying to sink that cruise ship!” The man quickly continued running to the harbor.
Brendan stood in place, unable to grasp the knowledge. Pokémon? Trying to sink the cruise ship? It was just like Petalburg Forest. Apparently it had spread here.
“Hey! Brendan!” A voice broke Brendan’s thoughts. He turned to see the Dewford Town Gym Leader, Brawly, calling to him. “Come on, a group of us trainers are going to attempt to stave off the wild Pokémon!”
“Let’s go!” The two ran to the edge of the water, where the rest of the trainers were assembled to defend the ship.
“Okay everyone, we need to get as many people out of here as possible. We need to split in half, with one group trying to keep Pokémon away from the ship while the other gets people out of there!” Brawly took command, becoming the unofficial leader of the rescue attempt.
Brendan threw out his Wailord, Flygon, and Pelipper, informing them of the current situation. “Okay team, those wild Pokémon are trying to sink that ship out there. We have to stop them!” The Pokémon cried in agreement. Brendan jumped onto Wailord’s back to help bringing people off of the ship.
“Let’s go!” Brawly made the call, and the rescue party set off towards the ship.
Just before setting off, Brendan looked up. He was greeted by a Swellow, which joined his flying Pokémon. It was followed by a splash in the water, as a Marshtomp entered the water.
“Don’t leave without me!” Brendan turned to see May running over.
“Hurry up!” He cried. She got on Wailord’s back, and the Float Whale Pokémon sped through the water to the besieged ship.
“I came as fast as I could,” May said, still out of breath from running. “How did this happen?”
“I have no idea. I heard the noise, came outside, and Brawly asked me to help. I don’t know what’s with…” Brendan trailed off, unable to finish his thought. The ship was in front of them, and they could see the true horror of what was going on.
The ship was being encircled by Wailmer, which were taking every opportunity to ram the ship. There was a small hole in the side of the hull, and it was sinking by the minute. As if that wasn’t bad enough, hordes of Wingull were pecking at the passengers. It was complete pandemonium on deck. People were running and screaming. All of the lifeboats had been detached due to the actions of the Wailmer, which then proceeded to destroy the empty boats as they fell into the water.
Brendan scanned the ocean, taking note of the other trainers using the rocks as platforms to command their Pokémon.
“May, I have an idea. I’m going to have Wailord drop me off at that rock outcropping over there. Can you help ferry people back to shore?”
“Yes I’m on it!” May replied. Brendan jumped onto the small rock. May and Wailord swam over to the ship. She looked at the panicking people on the ship.
“Onto that?? Are you crazy?” A passenger asked.
“It’s better than on a sinking ship!” That seemed to change the passenger’s mind. After Wailord’s back was filled to capacity, they set off at top speed for Slateport City. Marshtomp swam behind, warding off the water Pokémon while Swellow knocked down and pursuing Wingull.
It didn’t take long for the hostile Pokémon to notice the rescue effort. A hostile Wingull swooped down towards Brendan, just narrowly missing him.
One of the other trainers wasn’t as lucky, getting knocked into the water as a result. A pack of Sharpedo took advantage of this, swimming towards the trainer.
“Flygon! Stop those Sharpedo!” Brendan cried in an attempt to save the trainer.
It was futile, however, as there were too many. Flygon was powerless to stop them as they dragged the trainer underwater. He didn’t resurface. Brendan froze, horrified at the brutality that he had just witnessed.
He may have stopped paying attention for too long, as he heard the cry of a Wingull coming in from his left. It was about to hit him when his Pelipper slammed into it. Due to being much smaller, the Wingull fell into the water, while Pelipper was barely scratched.
“Thanks, buddy!” Brendan said, relieved.
May was on her way back with another Wailord-load of passengers when one of the rogue Pokémon rammed into them. The people screamed as the large whale Pokémon shook. This shaking was enough to throw May off of balance, tumbling her towards the water. The people yelled and tried to grab her, but they didn’t make it in time. Wailord stopped moving, with the intention of turning around to save her.
“No! Wailord! Keep going!” She shouted, struggling to stay afloat in the rough water. The Pokémon was unsure.
Having finished their last meal, the pack of Sharpedo turned their attention to May.
“Try to swim back! I can grab your hand!” Shouted one of the passengers, a man with a white fisherman’s hat. He leaned over, extending his hand. Frightened, May looked from the Sharpedo charging towards her to the man and attempted to fight the current and swim back, but it was no use.
Whatever Pokémon that had hit Wailord before had come back for a second strike. Already off balance and leaning over the water, the passenger was toppled into the sea. The Sharpedo heard the second splash and were upon him in no time. The man disappeared into the depths of the ocean.
A woman riding Wailord screamed. She tried to get to him as the others held her back.
“Nooo! Let go of me!” She shouted. “I have to save him! Joseph!”
“It’s too late!” Cried one of the people holding her back. Blood filled the water as a white hat floated to the top. It was half-chewed and bloody. The woman screamed and cried.
Wailord took this as a sign to keep moving towards Slateport City.
Now finished with Joseph as their meal, the Sharpedo turned their attention back to the panicking May. Six gray fins closed in from every direction.
She tried to swim back to the city, but it was no use. The current was dragging her away from Slateport City and towards the fins.
Like the answer to a prayer, when Marshtomp leapt out of the water, commanding a large wave which threw the Sharpedo back. Swellow followed through with a wing attack, rendering the Sharpedo unable to retaliate.
“Thank God for you two…” May said, breathlessly.
Marshtomp quickly motioned for May to get on its back, as it took off for the shore. Swellow kept to the skies, providing support.
Suddenly, a loud crack resonated through the harbor. Everyone heard it; the people on the ship, the trainers in the water, and even the bystanders in the city.
With that crack, the cruise ship snapped into two pieces and took the final descent into the ocean. In no time, the hordes of Sharpedo descended upon the people now struggling to swim in the water. There were no more rescues that day.
* * *
The scene in the Slateport Harbor that night was one of mixed sorrow and confusion. Some people were hugging loved ones who were saved that day by the brave efforts of trainers, while a majority of the people were mourning the loss of life.
May sat in the Slateport City Pokémon Center. She and Brendan had just been released from a medical evaluation, and had already spoken to every news agency imaginable.
Brendan walked in from outside, where he had been speaking to Brawly.
“The ship was the S.S. Hoenn, and was transporting both vacationers and Battle Frontier participants from Lilycove to Slateport. There were approximately 110 people on board, and with the combined efforts of all of the trainers, we managed to save 43.” Brendan took a deep breath, unprepared to continue. “That’s approximately 67 presumed dead. There’s no way to know otherwise. Captain Stern and the Coast Guard went out to the sinking site, but there’s literally nothing left of the ship. Or the people…”
May was staring off into space, only half listening. “Those Pokémon. They didn’t just attack a ship, they killed all of those people…” She looked at Brendan. “What is happening here?”
“I have no idea.” Brendan sigh. “Look, May, Brawly also told me that Scott is cancelling the Battle Frontier. Do you want to go back to Littleroot Town with me?”
“Anything to get away from this…” May replied, sluggishly. She was mentally and physically drained from the whole ordeal, and just wanted to be back in the safety of her own home.
“Come on, let’s go back to the hotel,” Brendan suggested. They got up and left the Pokémon Center, entering the cool Slateport night. Despite it being well beyond midnight, the entire population of the city was up and about, as if it was midday.
When they arrived at the hotel, they were greeted by a crowd standing around a tall man dressed in all black. He wore a blue cap with a stylized “A” on it. The man was flanked on both sides by two others with black and white striped t-shirts and the same blue cap.
“Who’s this?” Brendan whispered to May.
“They aren’t Team Magma. I haven’t seen these people before.” She whispered back.
“People of Slateport City! You have all witnessed this awful attack firsthand! Kyogre is angry with us! We humans have upset our Pokémon overlords! I, Archie, the leader of the sea-loving Team Aqua, encourage you to join us today! We are committed to fixing horrible mistake that we all have made!”
At first, no one moved. Then, a woman stepped forward.
“Archie is right! We must stop this madness! The survival of every last person depends on it!” She shouted to the crowd. A man walked up, joining the woman and Archie.
“I agree! We have to make it right with Kyogre!” He shouted. A few more people joined them. As time passed, most of the crowd joined them.
“Team Aqua!” A woman shouted.
“For Team Aqua!” Someone else echoed.
Brendan and May didn’t say anything, and just exchanged worried glances. They tried to separate themselves from the crowd.
It wasn’t long before the crowd had begun chanting for their newly found saviors.
“Team Aqua! All hail Team Aqua! Team Aqua!”
Here is another chapter for your viewing pleasure. This one may be a little less action-y and more storytelling geared, but hopefully it will help make the plot clearer. As always, thank you for taking the time to read, and I hope you enjoy chapter 3!
Chapter 3 – Running Errands
There was a knock on the door.
May reluctantly opened her eyes, immediately squeezing them shut again after taking in the bright morning sun. Maybe I imagined it… She tried convincing herself that there was no knock and she could continue sleeping.
A second loud knock resonated from the door. May forced herself up.
“Hello?” She asked, trying not to reveal the tiredness of her voice.
“It’s Brendan. My dad and Norman…I mean, your dad, are here.”
May immediately perked up. “My dad is here?”
“Yes, they arrived earlier this morning to help investigate the S.S. Hoenn sinking,” Brendan explained.
“Okay, give me a few minutes!” May exclaimed, leaping out of bed. She hadn’t seen her father in days, and with everything that had happened, there was no one that she would rather see.
Ten minutes later, May was standing in the elevator as it approached the first floor. As the doors opened, she immediately spotted Brendan, Professor Birch, and Norman at the far end of the large lobby. They were sitting around the ornate fireplace, and seemed to be deep in a conversation. May approached them.
Norman was the first to look up. He smiled as he saw his daughter. The look on his face was one of both happiness and deep relief.
“Well look who it is!” He said, standing up and walking to her. They embraced.
“Hey, dad!” May exclaimed.
“I’m so glad that you’re okay!” Norman’s expression turned to concern. “How are you holding up?”
“I’m okay, considering I witnessed a shipload of people get killed…” May trailed off, not wanting to think of the previous day’s events again.
“That’s why the professor and I are here,” Norman looked at Professor Birch.
“Are you any closer to figuring this out?” Brendan asked his father. Professor Birch sighed. Norman and May took their seats.
“No,” Was his simple response. “Though we may have found something that might help us figure out what is going on here.” Brendan and May looked up, intrigued.
“What did you find?” Brendan asked, with a tone of excitement and optimism.
“While searching the wreckage of the ship, Captain Stern and his diving crew found the body of one of the Wingull that had apparently been killed in the attack. I had one of my assistants take the body to Mauville City, where Lanette, Drake, and a team of Hoenn biologists are currently stationed. The scientist will take blood samples and analyze the Wingull, with the hope that we can find something in its biology that can explain why these Pokémon are acting so erratic.” Despite the intended optimism in the endeavor, Professor Birch was well aware of how speculative and farfetched it sounded.
“Why did you send your assistant to Mauville? Can’t you call Drake and Lanette and tell them to take their team and go back to Littleroot Town?” Brendan asked.
“We can’t call them.” Everyone turned to Norman, who had broken his silence.
“Why not?” May asked.
“There is currently a massive blackout around Mauville City,” Norman looked from May to Brendan, who both had confused looks on their faces. “Early this morning all infrastructure around Mauville City went out. Electricity, PokéNav service, everything is currently down. The professor and I decided to send someone to Mauville City, as we cannot let this set us back. If there is something inside this Wingull that can help us figure out this crisis, we need it to be analyzed as soon as possible.”
“Which brings us to the reason that we are telling you this,” Brendan and May shifted their focus back to the professor. “We would like you two to go to Mauville and just make sure that the package gets there okay.”
“Why us? Isn’t your assistant already on his way there?” Brendan inquired, confused.
“Yes, but with a situation as critical as this, the more people that we have on this the better. And if there is anyone that we can trust with this, it is you two.” Professor Birch explained.
“Will you do this for us? I know this attempt sounds like a shot in the dark, but we are running extremely low on ideas.” Norman looked at the two young trainers. Brendan and May simply looked at each other and nodded.
“We’ll do it.” Brendan answered for the both of them.
“Excellent! Thank you!” Professor Birch exclaimed. The four of them stood up and walked towards the door.
May felt a hand on her shoulder, followed by her father’s voice. “May, can you hold on a moment? I want to talk to you.” She did as she was told, letting Brendan and Professor Birch exit the hotel.
May turned around and faced her father. He had a concerned look on his face. “What’s wrong, dad?” She asked.
“May, I want you to be careful while out on this assignment.” Norman’s tone worried her.
“Of course, but Brendan and I are just going up to Mauville City, it’s not that dangerous.” May was unsure as to where Norman was going.
He looked at her with a sense of urgency that she had never seen in her father before. “Look, May, I haven’t told Professor Birch because he has enough to worry about, but I have a very bad feeling about this situation. I think that we are all in a lot more danger than it already seems.” Norman’s eyes wandered off in thought.
“Like what? What are you thinking, dad?” May asked.
“I’m not sure, but there is something that we are all missing here. These Pokémon attacks are only one part. There is something very sinister afoot.” Norman looked back to his daughter and took note of her bewildered expression. “All that I’m trying to say, is to be careful of who you trust. We cannot be sure of everyone’s intentions in such a situation as this. And please promise me that you will take extra care of yourself.”
“I promise.” May was only confused further by her father’s ambiguity, but she trusted him implicitly.
“Thank you,” Norman’s expression changed to one of relief. “Okay, you should go rejoin Brendan and be on your way. Good luck on your assignment.”
“Thanks, dad,” May smiled, starting towards the door. She stopped halfway and turned around. “I love you, dad.”
A large, proud, fatherly smile spread across Norman’s face. “I love you too, sweetheart.”