The Middle Ground
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November 7th, 2011 (6:22 AM).
Researcher of Orange Lore
Greetings kids! Uni has destroyed my online social life (which is ironic considering I'm on it about 80% of the time anyway) but I'm determined to finish this fic, so here's the next part of the story, sorry to anyone who had been following this before
Chapter 28 - Reverberations (Part 1)
The Gym looked different to when I last saw it. It used to be a solid glass dome with a top shaped like a Vileplume's petals but now the right side looked completely different. Two large flowers were the focal point of the roof but then very long yellow and green glass leaves hung down the sides to make a wall, making the building look like a Bellossom. It was really pretty but at that time it wasn't the main thing I had to be thinking about.
After blacking out and having a strange voice yell a million different things at me and then finding out that we're on the run from the police when I woke up, a strange message on the PC should have been nothing. The only thing was that it wasn't just from anyone, it was from Erika. Normally I'd ignore it but she would only send a message to me if she had noone else to turn to, which meant she couldn't turn to Adam - so that worried me.
I headed towards the Vileplume-shaped half of the building, expecting the automatic doors to open in front of me but they were locked shut. Looking through them I could see the receptionist sat behind a desk in the foyer just casually filing her nails.
"Excuse me!" I said, knocking on the glass. "Can you open the door?"
The snobby looking woman paused and glanced over her glasses at me before carrying on with her nails.
"Visiting hours are over, if you want to make an appointment to see the gym leader come back tomorrow."
"You don't get it - she'll want to see me!" I responded, perfectly politely.
"Come back tomorrow..." She repeated, sighing.
"Hey - Listen, just tell her April Moon is here! You got that? April...
"Whatever." The receptionist mumbled, getting up and heading for the toilets.
"Hey!" I yelled, banging on the door. "Where are you going?!"
I kept banging on the door, hoping for a response from someone who was actually helpful, but noone came.
"-April, what are you doing?!" Alex panted from behind me, him and Noako finally catching up.
"Argh," I cried in frustration, kicking the door and turning away from it. "The stupid receptionist won't let me in."
"Well you don't need to beat the place down!"
"I know..." I sighed, sitting down on a step. Alex had never seen me like this before. Heck, I hadn't even seen me this wound up in a while, but I could tell he wanted to help. He even asked Naoko if she could pick the lock but didn't realise that it was an automatic door standing between us and the Gym Leader.
A few minutes later, I heard footsteps running towards the doors and turned around to see Erika unlocking them from the control box inside, the receptionist eventually appearing behind her. The doors opened and she leapt out towards me, wrapping her arms around me in a hug. It felt genuine enough and in a way I wanted to hug her back, but after the last conversation we'd had I couldn't believe anything she did without questioning it.
"April, thank God you're alright." She whispered in my ear, releasing me from the hug.
"I got your message, what's happened?" I asked, straight to the point.
Erika looked around cautiously. "Come inside, we'll talk there." She said, herding the three of us in like cattle before locking the doors behind us.
"Don't you want to say hi?" I heard Alex ask Naoko as they made their way in.
"I said I knew
her, not that I knew her personally." Naoko replied, looking around the foyer.
" Alex responded sarcastically.
The entrance was like an office reception rather than a gym, except it was covered in plants of different shapes and sizes. It'd always been like that, the gym was used for loads of things other than battles. Erika led us down a corridor to the left in silence and we went past a large archway into the new part of the building that I'd never seen before.
It was a large, open space, the walls and ceilings made completely of reinforced glass. The floor was a stretch of grass, with flowerbeds and hedges dotted elegantly about the area with a fountain centred in the middle.
"What's this room for?" Noako asked, stopping to look inside.
Erika looked back and explained that there had been a fire a few years ago that had completely decimated half of the building, so she commissioned a new half to be built.
"In a way it’s more of a recreation area. It's been named the Celadon Public Park actually."
"I told you the park was this way!" Alex declared.
"What, do you want a medal?" Naoko asked, not impressed by Alex's ability to follow a signpost.
Alex glared at Naoko as Erika lead us further down the hall into a room where the ceiling was littered with hanging baskets of different shapes and colours and the floor had an abundance of beanbags and comfy chairs.
"This is where I come to relax sometimes... it helps me to-"
"Why did you call me Erika?"
"...I thought you said you got my message?"
"Well I did but it was all grainy and distorted."
"Erm... about that." Alex piped up from behind me, already sat comfortably in a pile of beanbags. "Why did you send it to my account? I mean... We've never met, have we?"
Erika looked confused. "I-I didn't. I sent it straight to you April."
"But it was in
"That's impossible... What's your name?"
"Alexander Ivy - Alex for short."
"Alex... Adam mentioned you were travelling with someone called that." Erika said, turning to me.
"Wait a minute, I heard you say Adam's name in the message. Is he here?"
"He was, that's what I wanted to talk to you about. I'd hoped he could've been with you but I guess not."
"What do you mean?"
"Who's this Adam kid?" Naoko asked, completely in the dark about everything that we were talking about.
"I'll fill you in later." Alex replied, hushing her.
"Look." Erika said, brushing aside some vines to reveal a videophone. "He used to send me a message every couple of days to tell me how he was doing and what was happening with him." She said, scrolling down the screen, showing us the list of mail she'd gotten from my brother. "But then suddenly they just stopped coming - It's been over two weeks since i've even heard from him. I'm just so worried but I figured if anyone else would know where he is then it would be you."
"We haven't spoken much since we separated, just like you said we would. Did he mention anything before like where he was going or..."
"Nothing." She replied, not taking note of my comment. "But I know for a fact that he was in Lavender on the day of that attack on the Tower. ...He wasn't on the list of the dead so-"
"Dead?!" I cried. "You can't be serious!" I exclaimed in an automatic response. I didn't want to even entertain the thought, my stomach feeling like it had been twisted by the mere mention of it.
"Trust me, I've gone over every explanation in my head and it's either that or..."
"Or... he's not being allowed to make any calls."
She'd called me here to tell me that my brother could be being held captive or even worse - dead; without any full-proof evidence! I couldn't understand her logic - did she want my help? The last time we spoke she called me a useless burden, there's no way I'd be her first port of call when she needed somebody.
"Have you told the police?" I asked, not believing her.
"I did and it turns out Mr Fuji has already filed a missing persons for someone with his name and matching description, but apparently there's no way to trace him."
Alex and I looked at each other and recognised the name immediately.
"The Mr. Fuji from Lavender?" he asked.
Erkia nodded. I was confused, he never mentioned Adam the whole time we were there, but then again, how could he possibly know that we were related?
"April, remember his speech outside the Tower?" Alex asked.
"Kind of..." I replied, only remembering small segments of it.
"He said something about a 'young man' that tried to stop the terrorists. You reckon that could that have been him?"
"That does sound like something he'd do without thinking about it." Erika replied with a slight smirk.
"You're both insane! How would Adam even get caught up in that in the first place?"
Erika didn't have an answer, instead looking away when I challenged her with a glance. The room went quiet for a few moments before Alex spoke up.
"Is it really that insane? I mean, look at the stuff we've got caught up in... If it can happen to us then it can happen to him too right?"
As much as I hated to admit it, he had a point. That was the moment it suddenly became real - Adam could be in danger, real danger and there was nothing I could do about it. We didn't know where he was, what he was doing or any of it, we were completely in the dark.
"So saying all this is true, why can't the police trace him?"
"They get hundreds of calls about missing people every day, many of them being travelling trainers, but the trouble is they're never as willing to track down pokemon trainers as they are other people. They can go travelling for months at a time, never contacting anyone and not using their videophone or PC accounts, turn up one day to a gym and gain a badge and then suddenly there's a record of them again. As far as police are concerned, it's a waste of their time that they could be using on other cases." Erika explained, sitting down on a beanbag clutching her forehead..
"Well, how do you know he hasn't just done that?" Alex piped up again.
We both dismissed that idea straight away. Even though Adam can be a loner sometimes, he's always in contact with at least one of us.
"I think you're all forgetting the obvious question here - the terrorists, who were they?" Naoko asked, speaking up for the first time in the conversation.
Everyone looked at Erika but she didn't look any one of us in the eye. As she clearly debated what to say in her head, an eerie silence filled the room.
"I'm so sorry April but I'm sure it's the same people that were behind all the other 'terrorist attacks' around here lately..."
I could feel what was coming in my gut and I didn't want to hear it but I had to make sure I wasn't jumping to conclusions.
Them again - Why did they keep showing up in my life?! Every time they appear, someone new manages to get themselves murdered; and this time it could be Adam. He was the only piece of family I had left; if he died I don't know what I would do... My hands began to tremble slightly at the thought but I couldn't cry, I wouldn't cry - not in front of Erika.
Determined not to show any kind of weakness I kept back the fear welling up inside of me, but still I found myself wanting some fresh air to clear my head - It was a lot to process.
“Wait, are you talking about those arseholes from the SS Anne?” Naoko asked, looking to Alex for answers.
“-What? You three were involved in that?” Erika asked, slightly bemused.
“I suppose we should tell you something…” Alex began, reeling out the details of the past week. Everyone else was so engaged in the situation that I was able to slip out of the room unnoticed.
As I walked through the gym, I found myself being drawn to the Public Park.
It was peaceful there, no sounds or smells of the city, just nature in a little bubble. Breathing in what seemed like fresh air, I sat down next to a small stream of water and, in that serene environment, I felt like I could finally hear myself think.
Except, it wasn’t myself I could hear – It was that Voice. The Voice I heard shouting and screaming in my head not too long ago, except now, it was as though I could finally hear what it was saying.
Even though The Voice wasn't in my head anymore, the words still echoed around me, remembering them all gradually one by one. Some of them didn't even make sense to me but I couldn't shake the feeling that they, along with the Rockets, Cerulean, the SS Anne - it was all somehow connected. It's just I didn't know how... until I remembered another word. A word that gave me both a sensation of fear and hope:
Catch 'em, catch 'em, gotta catch 'em all; gotta catch 'em all - Pokemon!
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