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June 5th, 2010 (5:13 PM).
Oatmeal? Are you CRAZY?!
In the middle of nowhere.
Alyssa stared down at Ziggy’s fur as she stroked it. Her other hand was busy propping up her head, as it was drooping considerably. Ziggy stayed still, but only because it made Alyssa even sadder when he went anywhere; so he stayed huddled on her lap, worried sick.
She looked up. Ian stood in front of her, a frown on his face. “Did you get any sleep last night?”
Ian’s frown deepened and he pulled up a chair beside her. “You didn’t need to stay up all night, you know.”
Alyssa sighed and put her fist in her cheek once again, letting it mash the soft skin of her face as it propped it up. She had long ago taken out her ponytail, and her hair was scraggly and limp.
“Alyssa…someone’s coming from the Ranger Union today.”
Alyssa nodded. She had spent the night at the base last night instead of going home to Chicole Village. Barlow had told her that they needed everyone present to guard the prisoner until someone from the Ranger Union came to pick him up. Luanne, Barlow, and Crawford already slept at the base every night; Alyssa went home, and Ian stayed in a house in Vientown.
“Why did you stay up all night? We guarded the prisoner in shifts, remember?”
Alyssa nodded again. She did remember. She remembered yesterday and last night all too well…and there was nothing she could do to forget. Every time she had started to drift off, images of crumpled Graveler and Geodude would flash into her head. And when once, she had finally started having a perfectly normal dream, it had suddenly turned into a nightmare when gigantic rocks came crashing down from the sky unannounced.
“Hey…come on. Barlow said you and me deserve a break, and you look like you could use some fresh air. Let’s go outside.”
Alyssa shook her head. “The prisoner,” she mumbled. Ziggy shifted in her lap to look up at her. “We can’t leave the prisoner.”
“Barlow’s watching him. Come on, Lyssi.”
Alyssa looked up at Ian sharply. Her brother used to call her Lyssi.
Lyssi my sissy!
he would say jokingly as he hugged her tight, or pulled her to her feet after she fell, or kissed her on the top of the head, or tucked her in after a story.
“Lyssi?” she echoed faintly. Ian scratched the back of his neck.
“Sorry. It just…came out.”
“Please don’t call me that. It’s what my brother used to call me.”
“I didn’t know you had a brother.”
Silence dropped between them as heavily as a stone. Ian reached out and touched the hand that was so diligently petting Ziggy. “Alyssa…”
She shook her head and looked at her hand. Ordinarily, she would have been thrilled that he was touching her, but she couldn’t muster it up now.
“Come on, Alyssa. Let’s go.”
Finally, Alyssa nodded. Ziggy climbed up to hang on her back as Ian and Prinplup led them out of the base.
Dawn was just beginning to spill over the horizon. Alyssa brushed her bangs out of her eyes and squinted. Ziggy pushed his nose into her ear and sniffed, making her smile for the first time that day.
Ian and Alyssa stood side-by-side for a while. She was quite thankful to him for dragging her out into the fresh air; a light breeze brushed her face, and she breathed in the scent of grass. It really was nice out here. She looked around at all the houses. Life would have to go on, no matter what happened. Her life, for certain, was going to be a lot more complicated than she had thought…but she was going to have to keep pushing through. She remembered the baby Poliwag, and how she had handed it carefully to the Poliwrath. The Poliwrath had taken it into his hands and closed his eyes; when he opened them, he had looked up at Alyssa with a deep sadness. She had watched as the family of Poliwag and Poliwhirl buried the small Pokémon…but then they had moved on. And that was what Alyssa needed to do.
Alyssa pulled in a deep breath and looked over at Ian. “Does it get easier?” she asked him.
Ian sighed. “Not really. But you have to find your own way of handling it. Everyone has a different way. Luanne has her beauty crap—you’ve noticed that, right? Crawford has his drinking. Barlow has his gruffness.”
“What about you?”
He was quiet for a moment. “It’s…complicated. It’s a long story.”
She was just about to tell him that she had time when they heard a rumbling and a van pulled up. A man wearing a Ranger uniform with a shock of messy brown hair clambered out of the passenger’s seat. “We’re here to pick up the prisoner,” he said. A Buizel bobbed along beside him. Alyssa eyed his Styler. He was definitely a Top Ranger.
“Come on in,” Ian said. He and Alyssa led the man inside. “Barlow!” Ian called. He went into the hallway that led to the overnight rooms, leaving Alyssa in the lobby alone with the man.
“I’m Alyssa,” she said, holding out her hand to the man.
“You’re Alyssa!” he cried, clasping onto her hand and pumping it excitedly.
“I’m Keith. It’s nice to meet you. Was that kid Ian? Are you two the ones that did that whole cave-thing yesterday?”
“Uh…yeah,” Alyssa replied, taking back her hand and feeling quite shaken up. She was saved from further questions by the appearance of Barlow and Ian.
“Ah, they sent some Top Rangers to get the prisoner, I see,” Barlow said. “Nice to see you again, Keith.”
“Nice to see you, too, Barlow. Well, I’ll be taking the prisoner, Ian, and Alyssa with me. Could you two escort the prisoner out?”
“Ian and Alyssa?” Barlow thundered, no longer happy to see Keith. “Why would you need them?”
Keith looked shocked. “Didn’t you get the message? Chairperson Erma wants to promote them to Top Rangers.”
“What?” Barlow yelled. “Top Rangers? They’re rookies!”
“Yeah, but what they did was extremely worthy of Top Rangers. They both show incredible potential!”
“But you have no idea if that was a fluke or not,” Alyssa said wonderingly.
“It wasn’t a fluke,” Barlow muttered. “I at least know that. You two are damn good Rangers.”
Keith beamed at them, but Alyssa and Ian were shocked. Neither of them knew what to say. Alyssa was too tired to deal with this. “So…I’m gonna be a Top Ranger?”
“Yep!” Keith replied.
“I’m gonna be a Top Ranger.”
“You sure are!”
Alyssa suddenly felt dizzy. She wobbled over to the counter and grasped the edge, leaning on it heavily. “You’re sure there’s no mistake?”
“No mistake! You are now a Top Ranger!”
“Alyssa?” Ian stepped forward, a frown on his face. His outline was blurred…everything else was kind of blurry too…Alyssa squinted. “Alyssa?” he repeated, and his voice sounded far away. It echoed as if he were in a tunnel.
And then everything faded to black.
“She stayed up all night last night.”
“I told everyone to sleep in shifts!”
“I know, but I think she was having nightmares. It was her first major mission, after all.”
“CORN DOGS ARE YUMMY.”
Several different voices danced through Alyssa’s head as she weaved in and out of consciousness, some making sense, some not. Finally, after a long bout of unconsciousness, she awoke.
First things first—she needed to take stock of her surroundings. She was lying on a bed, with Ziggy slumbering quietly on her stomach…she turned her head a bit. It was the same bed she had been assigned to sleep in last night, but hadn’t used. In a corner of the room, Ian sat in a chair. When he saw her move, he jumped to his feet and strode over to her. “Alyssa!” he said softly.
Alyssa moaned in reply. “What happened?” At the sound of her voice, Ziggy perked up and looked at her.
“Well, Keith told you that we were going to be Top Rangers, and you fainted.” Alyssa noticed that he couldn’t keep the grin off his face at the mention of being a Top Ranger. It certainly was exciting news.
“How long have I been like this?”
“Well, you fainted around five-thirty in the morning…it’s two o’clock in the afternoon now.”
“What?” Alyssa sat bolt upright, dislodging Ziggy; but she felt so overpoweringly nauseous and dizzy that she lowered herself back down. Ian laughed and Ziggy nestled down again.
“Don’t panic. I’ll go get you some lunch.”
“The Rangers that came to pick up the prisoner are staying here for the night and heading back to the Ranger Union in the morning. They figured it’ll give us a chance to pack, since we didn’t know about this yesterday.”
Alyssa nodded. “I need to go home and pack everything up.”
“Hey…” Ian leaned over her, gently placing a hand on the side of the bed. “Did you dream?”
“Leaving? But you just became a Ranger!”
“I know, Mom. They’re promoting me.”
“But—but—you’re so young! And you’ve only been a Ranger for a few weeks!”
“Yeah, I know.” Alyssa climbed the stairs to her bedroom. Her mother followed her worriedly, but her father stood in the kitchen, where he had been when she entered the house.
When they arrived in her room, Ziggy jumped from his place on Alyssa’s shoulder and scuttled across the floor, sniffing to make sure he knew where he was. Ambipom looked up; it had been making Alyssa’s bed. The two hands on its tail had been straightening her nightstand. “Am!” it said happily.
“Don’t get too excited, Ampibom,” Diana said to the Pokémon as she entered the room. “Alyssa’s being promoted, and she’s moving away.”
At first, Ambipom’s face fell; then it appeared to be happy for her. Its tail-hands left her nightstand and reached across the room to her dresser, where Alyssa was, to give her a hug.
“Aw, thanks, Ambipom,” Alyssa laughed. “Do you know where my suitcase is?”
“Am!” It hopped over to her closet and pulled it out.
Diana crossed her arms. “Well, I suppose I’ll help you pack, too.”
So guess what? I’ve been promoted to TOP RANGER!!! Yep yep yep!! I guess the whole traumatizing cave-thing kinda paid off. When they came to pick up the prisoner Ian and I apprehended (AHHH, that makes it sound so cool! XD), they told us about our promotion!! That’s right, OUR promotion. Ian’s going with me!!
Oh, did you see Belle’s other email? I really think something’s up with her.
Belle, what’s wrong? Something’s up with you and I know it. What happened? Are you okay? I’m worried. Cassandra is too. You’re not explaining anything like you used to. How did the battle go? What did Erika say afterwards? Why did she give you a Sun Stone? How did you get a Pokémon from a mansion? Did you get in trouble? What happened between you and Derrick to make you not travel together anymore?
Love from your worried sick friend,
P.S. I got promoted to Top Ranger! Be happy or something.
Joined Aug 2009
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