The Middle Ground
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August 10th, 2011 (6:11 AM).
Researcher of Orange Lore
Not really how I wanted to get to Celadon or introduce Naoko's backstory but c'est la vie, hopefully this one is decent enough for a read.
Chapter 27 – Return To Sender
In the morning I woke from what was thankfully a dreamless sleep to find my face stuck to the screen of the pokedex. Figuring that I must've fallen asleep reading it I peeled it off and wiped away the bit of drool that I'd left on the side before getting up.
April was still asleep with Slowking sat next to her and Manetric curled round them both, keeping them safe, whereas Naoko wasn't in sight at all.
I looked around for her and eventually found her walking back up the hill from the direction of the forest carrying something.
"Hey, look what we found!" She said, reaching the top of the knoll carrying what I could now recognise as a pile of apples. "They were all just lying there under this one tree, lucky huh?"
"Yeah..." I said unenthusiastically. "Lucky."
Naoko placed her horde of apples on the ground shortly followed by Lulu, her Marill, walking around her trainer to add three of her own to the pile. Seeming quite contented by her efforts, Lulu began eating straight away, practically diving into the pile of fruit in front of her.
Not possibly able to eat everything ourselves we let our Pokémon out to join in, and for some of them that was the first time they'd met each other. Puzzle and Meena struck an almost instant liking to Chinchou who decided that it was more fun to play with the apples than eat them. Lulu played the part of a friendly missionary, bringing an apple to Swablu as good will gesture and Ditto, hypnotised by the prospect of more food, sat by the pile on his own before engulfing half of it in one massive bite.
Naoko stopped and stared midway through her bite into an apple at Ditto.
"Don't worry, he does that alot." I chuckled.
Naoko finished her bite before replying, asking a question. "That's a Ditto, right? Where did you find him?"
"My sister gave him to me, he was my first Pokémon." I smiled. "As for where she got him... No idea. Who was your first Pokémon?"
Naoko nodded her head towards the blue mouse Pokémon. "Lulu."
"How did you get her?"
Naoko sighed. "It's a long story."
"Not like we're going anywhere without April awake; if we ride Manetric anymore we'll stick out like a sore thumb."
"Fair point." She said, conceding. "I grew up in this old part of Fortree City in Hoenn - a city where everyone lives in houses in the treetops of the forest. Our area of town still followed the really old customs and beliefs and my parents were especially strict traditionalists. They believed that Pokémon were evil and out to kill everyone and everything they saw, so no one was allowed contact with them and no child was allowed to set foot on the ground, which they said was too dangerous, until they were deemed an adult; or in other words - Eighteen.
People from the other parts of town didn't like us so we were told not to go there without an adult. I never saw the point in it and used to sneak off into the main part of town with my friend but of course the other kids ignored us, knowing straight away what part of town we were from. So one day when I was twelve I decided I'd go to the ground, and I did.
While I was there I found this small secluded pond surrounded by a row of wild bushes and a girl, staring at something nestled in pond weed. I heard something coming so I quickly climbed a tree and the girl hid behind the trunk, but what appeared was just an Azumarill heading back to the pond. It didn't have fangs, didn't look menacing or out for my blood, it was just... there; a blue and white creature that looked harmless.
The first thing it did when coming back was to check in the pondweed at what I worked out to be an egg,
egg. I was fascinated by this so every day for the next week I came back to watch this Pokémon and her egg, and every time the girl was there too. Her name was Lanette and she lived in a nearby village on the ground. On the last day of that week I tried to convince my friend from Fortree to come down with me to meet Lanette but she didn't want to. She said it was okay when we went into the city but going to the ground was too much, so I went without her.
That day... the Azumarill didn't come back. Lanette and I waited all through the night but the Pokémon had just disappeared. Lanette didn't think she'd be able to take care of it so I decided to take the egg home secretly to keep it safe.
When I got there I tried to hide it from everyone but my so-called 'friend' told on me which made my parents search the house. When they found the egg they were disgusted with me and long story short, they exiled me."
"Exiled?!" I cried, almost chocking on my food.
"Yup." She said, taking another bite from her apple.
"But you were twelve!"
"That didn't matter to them. I broke their traditions so I had to go."
"So what did you do? I mean... where did you go?"
"I travelled with Lanette for a while..." She said, laying back on the grass. "We had no money so we ate mostly wild fruit and veg and worked wherever we could to get by. It sounds worse than it was but, to be honest I think it was the best thing that could've happened to m-."
Noako was interrupted by a bark from Manetric. We looked over to see that April had sat up holding her head. She looked like she had a hangover as she squinted through the morning sunshine, looking around her.
"Where... are we?" She asked groggily.
"Just outside the city, you blanked out again as soon as we got onto Manetric." I said.
April looked around her again, eventually settling her eyes on Slowking. "Has it gone... for sure this time?"
Slowking shut his eyes as if he was listening out for something and then opened them again, nodding his head.
"Yes, we're too far now."
April barely had time to breathe a sigh of relief before we bombarded her with questions about what she heard. The only problem was that she couldn't answer us... not properly anyway.
"It was just so jumbled and so, so loud. It was like one voice saying a million different things at once and I could barely make out anything it was saying. All it was was a jumble of words like 'follow' and 'ghost' and 's-"
April paused. "Yeah... How did you know that?"
"You said it when you were under." I said, leaving out the small detail that she had said it in another person's voice. "You scared me you know."
"Haha, sorry..." April said, blushing.
"And you think he's joking!" Naoko retorted.
"Naokoooo..." I whined under my breath, also beginning to blush. "But are you okay though?"
"Yeah I think so... See?" She said, managing to stand up quite firmly on her own.
I smiled, feeling relieved. "Good, then there's something you need to see."
After everyone had finished eating we set off for the nearby city and to our shock we arrived quicker than anticipated. Trying to stay away from a place where we could accidently draw too much public attention to ourselves, we stuck to the suburbs in hope of finding a public videophone, but we had no such luck.
The only things we could find were payphones and they didn't have monitors. Public videophones were free to trainers but the trouble was that they were few and far between, mostly in the town centres and Pokémon Centres.
"We can't go there - someone might recognise us." April protested, the three of us crowded around a phone booth.
"It'll be alright, that footage was way too grainy for anyone to recognise us." I began. "And the main thing people would be looking for anyway is three people riding on a great big Pokémon that vaguely looks like Manetric. The only other thing I
they could possibly notice would be Naoko's bandana..." I paused, looking at her suggestively.
"What? No way - The bandana stays on." She said adamantly.
"Really, who wears a bandana in this day and age anyway? You'll stick out like a sore thumb."
"Hey!" Naoko protested.
"...Doesn't your mum wear a bandana?" April remarked with an accusative look on her face.
"-Shut up." I countered, realising she was right. Sighing, I agreed to Naoko's argument. "Fine, as long as we don't ride around on Manetric all the time we shouldn't get noticed."
"Still, that being said, why is this video so important?" Naoko asked, flicking through the phone book aimlessly.
"Because it's just... it wasn't meant for me, I think it was meant for April. The woman on the screen looked really worried and she said both Adam
April's names, that
to mean something right?"
"And Adam too. At least, that's what it sounded like..."
April thought on it for a few moments, completely unaware that I'd carried on speaking.
"...I could've been wrong but I couldn't help the feeling th-"
"-This woman, what did she look like?" April asked firmly, interrupting me mid-sentence.
"Erm..." I mumbled, racking my brain to try and remember. "I dunno, black hair maybe? Pale face, it was kind of hard to make out."
Something I said struck a nerve with her. "I want to see it."
I looked at her in shock.
"You changed your tune." Naoko remarked, closing the phone book.
"I've got a feeling that I know who it is but I need to see it to be sure." April said, walking out of the booth. "Videophones are in the town centre right?"
Naoko nodded and without hesitation April began marching further into the city. Naoko and I looked at each other before running after her.
It was evening before we got to the city centre. April walked confidently for someone who was worried about getting sighted by everyone around her; something was definitely on her mind and I had a feeling it wasn't the fact that there was a distorted message on
videophone account addressed to her, but the person who the message was from.
The city centre was full of shops that were shutting for the day but also alot that were getting ready to open. You could tell that this was the kind of place that never slept, with every other building having a giant advertisement or light-up club logo atop it.
We followed the road signs for a public park, and eventually ended up at a small patch of grass no larger than a zebra crossing.
a park?" I said, turning my nose up at the bench placed on top of a small patch of grass in front of us.
"Nevermind that; look - a videophone." April pointed out.
I logged on to my account and to my surprise I had more than a few messages from Ivy, she must have been worried. After all, the last time we spoke I disappeared after receiving a weird message on here and hadn't contacted her since. Deciding I'd look at them later I scrolled down the screen and found the mysterious message.
"From 'Unknown'; that's the one." I said, touching the screen to open the message.
The grainy image of the black-haired woman appeared. I could tell by April's expression that she had recognised her immediately. The woman, wearing a red kimono, was obviously quite distressed but the sound quality was terrible so only a few words were actually coherent.
"April.... I need.... help.
Please! Come... bad feeling..."
The screen faded to black as 'End of message' appeared, written in white.
I turned to see what she made of it and April stood still staring at the screen, chewing on her bottom lip, thinking.
"Was that who I think it was?" Naoko asked.
"Yeah." April replied.
"Do you two
know her?" I asked, dumbfounded.
"You're kidding right, you seriously don't recognise that face?" Naoko asked.
I shook my head.
"That's Erika, one of Kanto's Gym Leaders. How do you not know this - aren't you taking on the gym challenge?"
"Well yeah but..." I said coyly, feeling like a rookie all over again.
"-What city are we in?" April asked suddenly, looking to both of us for an answer.
I actually didn't know, we'd been moving around so quickly that I hadn't kept track of the city names we'd been through.
"I'm pretty sure this is Celadon actually." Naoko piped up.
"So that means...?"
"Mhmm. She's here somewhere."
The girls turned around to scan the immediate area. Not sure exactly what the girls were looking for I too had a look around, presumably looking for something resembling a Gym. Then I noticed, right next to the videophone was another signpost that pointed to my immediate right:
'Celadon Public Park --->'
I chuckled a little and turned to tell the others.
"Hey guys, I found the real park." I said, pointing to the signpost.
April looked in the direction the sign pointed and squinted to try and make out a building in the distance.
"That's it... that's the gym!"
Catch 'em, catch 'em, gotta catch 'em all; gotta catch 'em all - Pokemon!
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