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May 7th, 2010 (8:00 PM). Edited May 8th, 2010 by Dagzar.
Thanks, Giratina! Heh, I actually plan to switch back to weekly updates once I get out of school, though knowing my laziness, we'll see how that goes.
Chapter 42: Rematch
A white and gold angelfish glided through the water, its fins hardly moving. All the other fish in its way scattered as it swam, bubbles trailing in its wake.
The girl turned her head from the fish tank. “Sorry,” she said, feeling bad about zoning out. The only excuse she could come up with was that her gym battle was only ten minutes away; it was so hard to concentrate. “W- What was that?”
“What Pokemon do you think Misty’s going to use?” Ed repeated, leaning on one of the arms of the couch.
“I don’t know,” Ally said. “I hope its Horsea, though. I don’t think my plan will work if it’s not Horsea…”
Ed propped his head on his hand. “What other Pokemon do think she’ll use?”
“Maybe a complicated one?” At Ed’s confused look, Ally explained, “A Pokemon with two types. Like Tentacool or Psyduck.”
“Psyduck’s not a psychic type.”
“William had a Golduck,” he said. “It’s pure water.”
“I always thought it was a psychic-type.”
“Well, it is, I guess,” Ed conceded. “But it’s not classified as one, that’s what William said.”
Ally sighed. “I don’t know what I’m going to do if Misty sends out a Tentacool or Seel.”
“Can’t Sparks beat them?”
“Maybe, but it’ll take a while. Sparks might get poisoned and I don’t know how he’ll do against a Seel.”
“What if she sends out a Goldeen or a Poliwag?” Ed asked. “Those will be easy, right?”
“Sparks can beat them,” Ally said, surprised on how confident she sounded. “They can’t learn Protect, right?”
“I thought all Pokemon could learn Protect?”
Ally shook her head, even though she was unsure. “They don’t look like they can.”
The angelfish caught Ally’s eye again, and she saw it with some of the other fish, getting in their way, almost purposely. The other fish were small and rectangular, with glittering blue scales, but they couldn’t compare with the angelfish. Ally had always liked angelfish; their names were pretty and they seemed graceful.
“What fish you looking at?” Ed asked, bumping shoulders with her as he leaned in.
“The angelfish,” Ally replied, eyes following it.
Ally put her fingertip on the glass where it was swimming. “That one.”
“It’s kind of cool,” Ed said, though his eyes strayed to a different fish tank, one which was under the receptionist’s desk. “Hey, what about that one?”
Following Ed’s finger, Ally saw the huge fish, its body long and black. It dwarfed all the other fish in the tank and swan around without anything getting in its way.
“It’s big,” Ally said. “What’s it called?”
“I dunno, it’s just big.”
The two watched the fish swim for a while longer before Ally said, “Leah should be here by now. Are you sure she’s still here?”
“The nurse at the front desk said she hasn’t checked out yet,” Ed replied, tearing his eyes away from the tank. “But I haven’t seen her since Thursday. She’s not in her room.”
“M- Maybe something happened to her?”
“Maybe Danny’s here,” Ed suggested. “She always went off when he was around.”
Ally’s face brightened. “Oh! Maybe.”
“I bet that’s what she’s been doing,” Ed further said. “She’s been going on dates with Danny and forgot to tell us.”
“Date who?” a voice asked, and Ally could hardly hide her smile. However, when the girl got a good look at her Mentor, she gasped.
Leah had changed. There were scratches on her face and her usual jacket was gone, replaced with a shiny red and silver one. Her hair, once long, was mostly gone. Dark bangs hung on both sides of her face, being much longer than the strands at the back, which had been cut into a spiky look. If it wasn’t for the bangs, you could mistake Leah for a boy.
“What happened?” Ed asked, being the first to get his voice back.
“I got my hair cut,” Leah replied, sounding tired, and before she could be bombarded with questions, said, “I had a bad day. Drop it.”
It was not only her voice; Leah looked exhausted as well, having bags under her eyes.
Both of the kids feel silent, and Ally didn’t dare ask any questions, like where Leah had been or what had happened.
Ed, thinking at least one question was safe, asked, “So, did Sands-”
“Drop. It.” Now the warning in their mentor’s words couldn’t be denied, and Ed paled slightly, turning his head away.
Not being able to stand the awkwardness that fell upon the group, Ally stood. “M- My battle’s going to begin soon,” she said. “I need to go get ready.”
“Good luck,” Ed said, giving her a smile. “You can do it!”
“Thanks.” Ally blushed and turned to Leah, but the older girl remained silent, staring off into space.
When it was obvious nothing was coming from her, Ally walked away feeling a bit stupid, getting out her Poke Balls.
It wasn’t time to think about that. It was time for her battle.
“I hope Ally wins,” Ed said, trying to fill the empty stands with noise. “She’s been training a lot.”
Leah didn’t reply.
“Like, really training. I’ve hardly seen her all week.”
After a pause, Leah asked, “Haven’t you been training?”
“… Yeah,” Ed said, shrugging. To keep Leah talking, he asked, “What happened to your jacket?”
“Stained, so I left it,” she said, fiddling with the silver zipper of her jacket. “Bought a new one.”
“It looks expensive.”
With that avenue of conversation exhausted, Ed turned to the most prominent question on his mind. “So, where were you? You weren’t in your room.”
“I was with… Sands,” Leah said in a low voice, so quiet that Ed could hardly hear. “He’s not doing very well.”
Ed’s heart skipped a beat. “Huh? What happened?!”
“Wild Pokemon attacked. Sands won’t be battling anytime soon.”
“… So he’s like Coralie?” Ed hesitated to ask further since Leah didn’t look up for further questioning, but he had to know!
Several images came to Ed’s mind at the implication, but he pushed them all away. “When will he get better?”
“I don’t know.”
Cutting off any further questions, a teenage girl walked into the arena, followed by a referee with two flags in his hands. On the other side of the pool, Ally appeared and the girl waved to both Ed and Leah before proceeding to the trainer’s box.
“I wonder what Pokemon Misty will choose,” Ed asked to Leah, but the older girl didn’t reply.
Above, the lights darkened and the spotlight overhead the pool brightened, sending a clear beam of light over the event.
Her voice loud, Misty asked, “Do you want me to send out my Pokemon first?”
At Ally’s nod, the gym leader grabbed a Poke Ball from her belt and threw it. “I choose… Horsea!”
A flash of light preceded the water-type’s arrival, and then the Horsea materialized in the water. The Pokemon splashed the water with its fins, and looked towards Ally, waiting for its opponent.
Ally swallowed and took out a Poke Ball, enlarging it. “Go, Amber!”
Almost like she had been practicing, the Pokemon was released in the center of the closest platform, tails waving as he tried to keep his balance.
Up on the stands, Leah asked, “Why Amber?”
“This is going to be a two-on-two battle.” Ed explained. “Ally said that Sparks can’t get past Protect, so Amber has to wear it down.”
“… A status effect,” Leah said out loud, not intending to be a question. After a moment, the older girl sat back in her seat, looking more aware than Ed had seen her that day. “It’s not going to work,” she said. “She should have stayed with a one-on-one; this is going to backfire.”
Ed disagreed. “No, it’s not. Just watch.”
“Good luck, Amber,” Ally said, smiling at her Pokemon.
“Vul,” Amber said, balancing carefully on the platform. The Vulpix didn’t look too happy at being surrounded by water, taking time and effort to stay in the exact middle.
Even if she didn’t look it, Ally was nervous. Her breathing was quick and her heart pounded, everything but the battle fading away. She had to win this one; she didn’t have time for another rematch. Despite all the training she did, there were so many ways that her plan could go wrong - if it could even be called a plan. It was just a set of instructions; everything depended on Amber, not her.
She was so into her thoughts, she barely heard the referee.
“This is a two-on-two battle between Cerulean City Gym Leader Misty and Ally Anderson of Cerulean City with no time limit.” he said, the battle having been prepared beforehand. “Let the battle-”
“Amber!” Ally said and the referee’s mouth had hardly finished closing before Amber’s tails swished. A small blue flame appeared on all four tips and they brightened with a white glow, growing bigger.
Misty stared at the blue flames with an interested expression, but didn’t let her curiosity get in her way. “Horsea, Water Gun!”
The water-type took a deep breath in, its snout shortening, and then released it in a blast of water.
Getting hit with water wasn’t one of his favorite pass times, so despite his reluctance, Amber crouched down and leapt to the closest platform, the white circle sinking with the Vulpix’s weight. Water lapped over the side and the Vulpix shook his wet paws, trying to get his balance back. The flames that were still on the end of his tails wavered with every movement, but never lost their ghostly glow.
“Watch the tails, Horsea,” Misty told her Pokemon. “Use Bubblebeam and spread it around.”
Ally’s orders came quickly. “Flamethrower, now!”
Much like Horsea before it, Amber took a deep breath and out of his mouth came a red hot flame that made the water steam. The heat made Horsea draw back, too preoccupied to make bubbles. Before the tongue of fire even licked it, the Horsea dived under the water with no regrets.
“Let them go,” Ally said when Amber’s Flamethrower stopped.
Amber waved his tails for a moment and then whipped them around, sending the four flames flying. But instead of going straight towards their victim, they floated over the surface of the water, moving upwards whenever a wave came their way.
Meanwhile, the girl scanned the water, looking for any sign of the water-type. She said, “Be careful-”
Horsea shot out of the water right behind Amber, tail curling into its body as it fended off gravity as long as it could. The Vulpix turned and couldn’t get out of the way of the jet of water. The blast sent him flying back, off the platform and into the water, making the pool ripple from the splash.
The Vulpix resurfaced, sputtering, and glared at Horsea, who was floating rather happily in the water.
“Alright, Horsea!” Misty cheered. “Water Gun!”
The order with met with distain by Amber, who’s ears twitched, but the fire-type dived under the surface, the Water Gun harmlessly hitting the water.
With hardly a splash, Horsea followed the Vulpix, its blue form disappearing as it dove down deep. A little ways a way, Amber resurfaced, taking in a deep breath of air. The Pokemon shook his head, water droplets flying off his fur, and looked around, his legs paddling to keep above the surface.
Misty grinned. “Using a fire-type was a bad idea. Alright, Horsea! Twister!”
“Quick Attack, Amber! Get out of the water!” Ally yelled. She wasn’t stupid; she did research Horsea, and no matter what Misty ordered, she wasn’t going to be surprised.
There was an odd sound in the water and the surface started to ripple and bubble. A growl came from Amber’s throat and he tensed. His form blurred and he burst out of the water, front paws making contact with a platform. He scrambled to hoist himself out of the pool until he finally did it, his fur dripping as he finally stood on solid ground.
“Good job, Amber! Now-”
Horsea appeared, jumping out of the water with its little white funs flapping, as if flying. Amber turned, his ears turning downwards, but before he could even open his mouth, Horsea struck first. A twister came from its snout, the swirling air blowing the water from Amber’s fur and making the fire-type crouch down, trying to hold onto the platform with all its might. One of the Will-o-Wisps tried to help, but Horsea turned in mid-air blowing the flickering flame away like a cloud.
Amber sneezed, hair ruffled, as Horsea disappeared back into the water.
Both trainers stood still, waiting for the other to do something. Finally-
A burst of water hit Amber in the face, pushing the fire-type back into the water. The Vulpix coughed and with a yelp, was pulled beneath the surface.
Ally could see her Pokemon struggling beneath the surface, but no matter how many times the Vulpix paddled, he just kept getting pulled down.
‘A Twister,’ Ally thought to herself. ‘It’s pulling Amber down.’ She glanced at Misty from across the pool, who was eying the water with interest. Despite the girl knowing that the gym leader would never allow her Pokemon to drown, Ally still couldn’t help but feel a sense of dread. What if Amber couldn’t get to the surface in time? What then?
Closing her eyes, she pushed away the thought, bringing her focus back to the battle. She could always return her Pokemon if things went wrong, but there was a reason she was using Amber. Sparks couldn’t beat Horsea alone; the electric-type needed an edge against Protect, and Ally knew just the thing.
Since Amber probably wouldn’t be able to hear her properly underwater and not wanting to alert Misty to anything, Ally simply waited.
However, Ally’s silence did the opposite, making Misty glance up.
“Horsea,” the gym leader called out. “Don’t get close!”
Down in the water, Amber struggled, kicking out his legs. The water swirled around him as a result of the weak Twister Horsea had produced and wouldn’t let him go, making him dizzy in the process. Finally, he got a glimpse of the water-type floating below him, and as Ally instructed earlier, let Horsea have it. His eyes glowed blue, the water rippling, and a thin halo of blue shot downwards, following the path of the Twister.
Horsea’s red eyes mirrored Amber’s, glowing a faint blue, and the water-type suddenly shook its head, cutting the Twister off. Free, the Vulpix pushed out its legs and swam back to the surface, the cool air being a welcome greeting.
“Did it work?” Ally asked her Pokemon. Amber used Quick Attack to get back onto a platform again and shook his whole body, water flying. The Pokemon then remembered his trainer existed and gave her an annoyed look.
Back at Misty’s end of the pool, Horsea surfaced as well, swaying as if off-balanced, eyes still glowing blue.
“Now, Will-o-Wisp!” Ally said, seeing her chance.
The waiting balls of blue flame, which flickered with impatience, glowed brighter as Amber needed them again. All four of them glided over the water at a fast pace, narrowing in on Horsea.
“Horsea, go underwater!”
Dazed by Confuse Ray, Horsea shook its head, but dove underwater at the last second. Two of the blue flames pulled back before they hit the water, but the two weren’t so lucky, crashing into the water and turning into steam.
‘Horsea’s confused,’ Ally thought. ‘Maybe now I can do this-’ However, it was at that moment that she really looked at her Vulpix.
It was odd for her not to pay attention to her Pokemon during a battle. Usually, she couldn’t keep her eyes off them, wincing at every scrape as they got them. However, this time she apparently didn’t, as she couldn’t remember when Amber had started shivering and looking so shriveled. His fur stuck to his body, and his paws were in water, having given up on keeping the platform balanced. He breathed heavily and every so often a cough would escape his mouth.
“A- Amber…” Ally said, hand going to her Poke Balls. But she stopped as she was forced to consider what she was doing.
She had to beat Misty, she had to, and a Protecting Horsea got in the way of that. Sparks couldn’t beat it; she knew that, which is why she spent so long just training Amber for this battle. To beat Horsea, the water-type couldn’t be allowed to use Protect. And Will-o-Wisp and Confuse Ray did that. They were what could let her win.
But Horsea was only confused and that would wear off. It wasn’t burned, but Ally didn’t think Amber could stay out for much longer. And if her Vulpix was returned to his Poke Ball, any chance of burning it would flee, the Will-o-Wisps disappearing. Sparks didn’t have an attack to paralyze, so she’d just be back where she started; unable to beat Protect.
No matter how bad Amber looked, Ally couldn’t return him. She had to get a burn in, or she’d lose. Then she wouldn’t be able to be a trainer and couldn’t keep going on her journey with Ed.
“… Keep on going with Will-o-Wisp,” Ally said, trying not to look at her Vulpix. To help her Pokemon, she scanned the waters, looking for any sign of the water-type. Finally, it resurfaced again, close to Amber, still looking wobbly and not making any signs of an attack.
Horsea was so close, actually, it was in arms reach of her Vulpix and the Will-o-Wisps were near Misty’s side of the pool…
Surprising even her, what came out of Ally’s mouth was a different order than expected.
“Amber, Quick Attack! Bite it!”
Amber was tired of everything; the water, the fighting… but still did as his trainer ordered. He crouched down, and leapt forward-
- And crash into a green barrier which hardly even buckled under his weight. The Vulpix slid off the shield and back into the water. Amber growled at the surprised water-type, who floated dumbly in the water. The two remaining Will-o-Wisps circled the shield, waiting for it to crack.
“Underwater, Horsea!” Misty shouted. “Now!”
But the Horsea stayed where it was, looking confused. Its eyes were gazed and its body rocked with the motions of the water.
“Amber, hit the barrier!” Ally exclaimed.
The Vulpix swiped at it with his paw, his foot hitting the solid surface. He hit it again and the barrier flickered for just a moment, before going back up.
Misty called out, “Horsea!”
The blue glow in Horsea’s eyes seemed to fade just as the shield disappeared.
Immediately, the blue flames were on the job, and Amber used Quick Attack to shoot forward, the water slowing him down. The Vulpix clumsily grabbed at the water-type with his paws and opened his mouth, intending to bite down. Faster than it had been the entire battle, Horsea spun around and splashed water in Amber’s face then dodged one of the Will-o-Wisps. One of the others, however, was lucky, and scraped the top of the Horsea’s head, sticking to the Pokemon like glue.
Horsea cried out and dove underwater.
“Got it!” Ally said, not seeing any steam coming from the water. She let herself grab her Vulpix’s Poke Ball and in a clear voice said, “Amber, return!”
The beam of red light swallowed the fire-type and pulled him back to safety. With her other hand, Ally grabbed Sparks’ Poke Ball and threw it over the pool.
The Voltorb had been prepared for this moment as he rolled on the water without stopping to see where he was. Tiny electrical charges ignited over his circular form and caught onto the water, sending electricity all the way to the bottom of the pool.
Looking at the water, Ally saw a green light appear near one of the platforms between the electrical currents. Pointing at it, she exclaimed, “There, Sparks! Sonic Boom!”
Stopping for a brief moment to see where she was pointing, Sparks turned until his face was underwater. Bubbles formed around his body and while the water muted it, Ally could still hear a screech as the sound blast was launched and the green light that signified Horsea went dark.
Sparks circled the pool, waiting for the Horsea to come back up.
“Twister, Horsea!” Misty commanded.
For a moment, it didn’t look like the attack had worked, but without warning, Sparks was pulled off course. He was too light to be sucked underwater, but even from ways a way, Ally could see his angry expression as he was kept in one place.
Luckily, there was an easy way to get out of the Twister and Ally used it.
Even before the attack really began, Sparks was suddenly let free of his prison, but the Voltorb continued his attack, once again electrifying the pool. This time, however, the green light didn’t show up.
‘Did it get shocked?’ Ally asked herself. It looked like it, but…
“Charge,” she said, not taking any chances. Even with a burn, the Horsea had time to use Protect. She didn’t want to be caught off guard.
As Sparks charged, Ally searched the water for any signs.
Did Horsea really lose?
From the other side of the pool, a blast of water caught Sparks in its grasp and pushed the rolling Pokemon back. He hit the side of the pool with a bang, and the Voltorb shocked the water on instinct.
Ally stepped back, being only a few feet away from her Pokemon and only when a few seconds past did she remember to look for Horsea.
There was no need, though. Horsea had obviously not seen the last electric attack coming and floated on the surface of the pool with its eyes closed, a burn mark on its head. The referee came to Misty’s side of the pool and examined the Pokemon closely from the sidelines.
“Horsea is unable to battle,” he declared, raising a flag. “First battle goes to Ally Anderson of Cerulean City!”
“H- Huh?” Ally said out loud. The battle with Horsea had hardly gotten started and she had already won? But she hadn’t really done anything; it was just an accident!
“The burning was a nice touch,” Misty said from across the pool, returning Horsea. She grinned as she took out another Pokemon. “But that won’t work a second time.” Throwing the ball out, she said, “Go!”
A Pokemon was left behind on the platform as its Poke Ball went back to its trainer’s hand. It was the size of a human toddler with navy blue skin. It had a brown shell outlined with white on its back and its ears and tail looked like angel wings.
The water-type copied its trainer’s grin, showing a mouthful of sharp teeth.
“… Be careful, Sparks,” Ally said, eyeing the Wartortle as she tried to think up its move set. She didn’t think Misty would go with a Pokemon like that; it had never occurred to her, even. Wartortle probably knew the standard water moves, though. Bite, for sure, Withdraw, and… Protect?
… It did know Protect, didn’t it?
Her whole plan with Amber was focused on defeating a Protect-ing Horsea, but a Protect-ing Wartortle was something different! She didn’t know all the attacks it could learn or what it was good at- she couldn’t send her Vulpix into battle against those odds!
Though, Wartortle was different than Horsea. It wasn’t as fast and small, so it should be easier to hit, even if it did know Protect.
“Wartortle,” Misty said, snapping Ally back to attention. “Water Pulse!”
A small ball of water materialized in the Pokemon’s outstretched paws, pulsing as it was held together only by Wartortle’s will.
“Sparks, get out of there!”
The Voltorb started to roll, but Wartortle released the water in its grasp, the ball breaking and shooting forward in a circular wall of water. While thin, the wall easily encompassed half of the pool, leaving no escape route for the electric-type. Like a wave, the water barred down on Sparks, pushing him back.
“Bubblebeam!” Misty said.
Wartortle smiled wider. It took a deep breath and then let it out, but instead of air, out came a thick smog of bubbles, clinging together and shining under the light. They spread out over the water, floating both on the air and on the pool.
From where he was, Sparks couldn’t see anything, but even he could hear the loud splash of something diving into the water.
“Spark!” Ally ordered, a few bubbles hitting her ankles and popping as they connected.
The electrical blast was sent straight into the pool, Sparks giving it his best. While the Voltorb couldn’t see anything, neither could the Wartortle. When the electric-attack died down, Sparks waited where he was, floating on the uneasy water. A small wave splashed his side, and the popping of bubbles had the Pokemon turning, just in time to get hit in the face.
Bubbles exploded as he hit them, having been sent skimming over the water like a flat rock. The electric-type rolled in the opposite direction before he was able to stop his motion, feeling a throb come from the middle of his face. Through the path of bubbles he made, Wartortle floated, tail held in the air like a baseball bat with a ribbon of water spiraling around it.
As a finishing gesture, Wartortle sent out a jet of water that shot through the hole of bubbles without popping a single one. It hit the side of the pool where Sparks was only a moment ago, spraying water upwards.
It couldn’t be said that Sparks was trying to hide his approach; the bubbles didn’t let him. Instead, the Pokemon rolled in an arc, past Wartortle until he was on Misty’s side of the field, popping every bubble in his path.
Wartortle sent another blast of water at him, but Sparks swerved out of its path, turning until he got behind the water-type. There was a screech, and a blast of air parted the water in its path, hitting Wartortle on its shell and throwing it face first into the water.
Sparks charged, water being thrown behind him as he sped forward. He ran over the place where Wartortle had floated and surprise was evident on his face as he was bashed up into the air from a blast from below.
Having gone through the same thing before in the last gym battle, Sparks turned in mid air, launching a spark of electricity back into the water. A hardly visible green light was the answer and gravity grabbed hold of the electric-type as he began his descent. Just before he hit the water, a cloud-like tail arched out of the surface, water spinning, and made a crack as it hit Sparks and sent him back up. Wartortle’s position wasn’t strong enough to really send the Voltorb flying, but it still spun the Pokemon like nothing had ever done before.
No matter how dizzy he was, Sparks wouldn’t stand for another hit of the tail, and sparked purposely just before he hit the water. As expected, the tail came up, but gave out as the electricity connected with the water-type. Fast, Wartortle brought up the green barrier over itself and dove towards the bottom of the pool, shuddering all the way.
“Good job, Sparks!” Ally said, exhilaration making her eyes wide and not able to prevent the smile from growing on her face.
“This is getting dangerous,” Misty said to herself, so quietly that Ally almost didn’t hear her. Then, the gym leader said louder, “Nice move, your Voltorb has really been training.”
Ally kept her eyes on the battle, not wanting to get distracted, but still said, “Thanks.”
“Buuuuut,” Misty drew out, “Can you beat this? Wartortle! Show Voltorb you mean business! Ice Beam!”
While Ally couldn’t feel it, Sparks noticed that the water began to chill.
As soon as Misty revealed her trump card, Ally’s mind halted. How was she supposed to-? “L- Light screen!” she exclaimed. “Hurry!”
A gold prison of light wrapped around the electric-type, looking like a woven blanket. Just in time, too, as odd slivers of cyan light snaked through the pool, like veins. Coming up from the bottom of the pool, they froze when they reached the surface, floating on the water like mini glaciers. They interlinked with each other, and reached for Sparks, trying to trap him in their frozen arms, but the electric-type decided that was the best time to get moving.
With ice in the way, Sparks could no longer roll as freely as before, especially with danger lurking right underneath him.
Ally watched the tiny streams of ice with curiosity. She didn’t think Ice Beam worked like that. Why were they only freezing when they got to the surface? ‘It must be a new move,’ she concluded with a little hope. Maybe Wartortle couldn’t make a full beam of ice yet.
However, her hopes were trampled as Wartortle finally came up the surface, giving up on launching its attack from underwater. Sparks gave the Pokemon a wide range, speeding up and refusing to stop for even a moment.
Wartortle opened its mouth, a ball of bright blue light appearing in front of it.
“Spark!” Ally said, knowing she wouldn’t get a better chance than this.
Electricity danced over Sparks’ body, the currents of electricity making the water its new stage. In the middle of an attack, and a new one at that, Wartortle could only be electrocuted, not able to throw up a shield. Still, the water-type didn’t falter, the ball of energy in its mouth growing, and growing-
A thin beam of ice shot out from the ball, stray driblets of the strange energy freezing anything it touched. Unlike Wartortle, Sparks could still move, and cut out his electrical attack, rolling to get out of the way. However, the beam followed, cutting off the Voltorb’s escape route by freezing the water solid. The electric-type backed up, but the ice encircled him, halting his movement as the lower white part of his body was encased.
Finally, the beam was sent up further, covering the Pokemon completely.
“Sparks!” Ally yelled. The layers of ice distorted her Pokemon’s form to the outside world, but even she could tell he wasn’t moving. “Spark! Spark!”
If the Pokemon could hear her, he couldn’t do anything.
The referee waited another few seconds for the Voltorb to do something, seconds that seemed to last forever, until he raised a flag and said, “Voltorb is unable to battle.”
Ally could only stare. And then, as everyone looked at her, it dawned on her that this was a two-on-two Pokemon battle. Her Voltorb had fainted, but she still had one Pokemon left.
Hands shaking, she returned Sparks and reached for Amber’s Poke Ball, her mind blank, not sure what to do.
Her Vulpix could never win against a Wartortle, Ice Beam or not. She had an advantage with Sparks; with him, Wartortle was forced to stick to long-range techniques, and had to move and attack quickly in case Sparks used an electric attack. But Amber wasn’t like that. Wartortle could take as long as it wanted and could come as close as it desired. Her fire-type wouldn’t last more than one minute.
She had to win, though. Her journey depended on it. It didn’t matter if Amber couldn’t win, she didn’t know that for sure. She had to try, right? What if Wartortle made a mistake and Amber burned it? She could win then, if she kept her Vulpix moving around…
No. She knew she couldn’t win, but she had to. She wanted to try, but Amber would only get hurt. She loved her Pokemon; she didn’t want to send them into a no-hope situation.
Indecision must have shown on her face, because Misty asked, “Are you going to give up?”
Ally hesitated. What should she do?
“It’s alright to give up; you tried your best,” the gym leader said. “I’m always up for a rematch.”
“I- I have to win,” Ally tried to explain. “I- I can’t stay here any longer.”
“Why not?” Misty asked, crossing her arms, curiosity on her face. “The Indigo Tournament isn’t until March. You have lots of time.”
Ally didn’t want to say anything about her mother, so she just shook her head, lips shut.
Frowning now, the gym leader said, “You know, it’s alright to leave a city without a badge. You don’t have to battle me right now; why don’t you leave Cerulean and come back later? I’ll still be here when you get back.”
Seeing the situation in front of her, Ally’s eyes clouded over, but she rubbed them as Misty’s idea settled into her brain. It had never occurred to her that she could just come back later. She had spent weeks wondering what to do, at how to beat Misty, when she didn’t have to.
There was nothing stopping her from leaving whenever she wanted; she didn’t need a badge to do that. When she came back to Cerulean, she would be prepared and her Pokemon better trained. Then, she would win the Cascade Badge.
Lavender, Celadon, Saffron… and then Cerulean, Pewter and Viridian.
That was her plan.
“I-” The words had trouble coming out of her mouth, but Ally forced them. “I give up!”
Misty nodded in what could have been approval, returning her Wartortle. “When you come back,” she said, smiling. “I expect a good battle out of you, so train really hard!”
“I will,” Ally said, and even though her loss had hit her hard, she smiled back.
“Ally!” Ed said, coming up to her, Leah following at a slower pace. “So-”
She cut him off. “We can come back to Cerulean later.” Blushing after her quick remark, she added, “I- If that’s okay with you.”
“Yeah, let’s do that,” Ed agreed, looking relieved by her words.
“You’re next, right?” Misty asked the boy, joining the little group.
Put on the spot so suddenly, Ed said, “Uh…”
“I thought you were going to battle her too,” Ally said.
Ed shrugged, looking uncomfortable. “Coralie’s not ready and I can’t use Parasect, so I just thought I’d come back… later.”
After a pause, Ally said, “O- Oh… Is that why you didn’t tell me how you were going to battle?”
“Trainers don’t work like that,” Ed muttered as an explanation. “I mean, no trainers I’ve met leave a city without a badge.”
“That’s because they don’t think of it,” Misty said, rejoining the conversation. “You’re not the first trainers to go training somewhere else before coming back. Cerulean isn’t the best training place, anyways; the wild Pokemon here are weak-”
“- and the only good training ground is a cave outside the city.”
“What’s the cave like?” Ed asked, trying to remember if he’d seen a cave anywhere.
Misty adopted a stern tone. “Very dangerous, so you two shouldn’t go near there. Even when I bring my best Pokemon, I never go beyond the first cavern.”
“Are the Pokemon really strong there?”
“Insanely,” the gym leader said. “And I mean that. There are guards posted by the Pokemon League just to make sure no one goes in there.”
Since Misty had proved herself as a good source of information, Ed asked, “What about Lavender? Are there good places near there?”
“Not really, but if you’re going straight there from Cerulean, you’ll have to go through Rock Tunnel, which is pretty decent. The Zubat can get annoying, but the other Pokemon will put up a good challenge.”
“Thank you,” Ally said and Misty grinned.
“No problem! Good luck on your journey and I hope to see you competing in the Indigo Tournament!”
When they got outside, Leah finally spoke up.
“I’m not coming.”
“What?” Ed asked, the kids turning around to face her.
“The journey,” she said, repeating herself. “I’m not coming.”
Ed asked, “Don’t we need four badges for you to leave?”
Leah stared at him. “I don’t care anymore. I’m going home.” To keep them from saying anything else, she walked ahead of them, hands in her pockets.
“W- Wait!” Ally said, calling after the older girl. “We won’t be in Cerulean for much longer, so please stay until we leave!”
Leah didn’t show any signs of hearing her and kept walking.
“What’s wrong with her?” Ally asked Ed as the two kids hurried to catch up.
Ed hesitated. “Well…”
A/N: Nothing much to say but Cerulean is drawing to a close. Finally.
May 7th, 2010 (9:16 PM).
Nice chapter Dagz, Found an error though
May 8th, 2010 (3:31 PM).
Thanks, Kaji! I'll fix it right up!
May 9th, 2010 (12:02 PM).
I really didn't expect Ally to give up....
anyway, I found a mistake:
Shouldn't it be:
Anyway, it was a very nice chapter.
May 11th, 2010 (3:38 PM).
Thanks for pointing that out, Pika! I'll go fix it! And I'm glad you liked the chapter.
May 13th, 2010 (6:40 PM).
Haven't really had a chance to write up an actual review, but since I promised I'd give one, this'll just have to do. They were excellently written chapters, but there is one thing that miffed me slightly. Where was the actual evolution of Sands? We go from Sands being attacked by Blue's Scyther to him being a Sandslash already, without an evolution?
Credit goes to Sgt Shock for my signature and avatar
May 13th, 2010 (6:50 PM).
Thanks for reviewing, LM! I’m glad you liked the chapters.
May 28th, 2010 (7:58 PM).
Chapter 43: Calling
Ed took a deep breath as he reached for the phone. He dialed a number and stood there, waiting. As it rang on the other end, he watched people walk around the Pokemon Center lobby, eying any strange Pokemon that came within view.
“Hello?” someone asked.
Grinning at the familiar voice, Ed said, “Will! Hi.”
“Ed!” William said, surprised. “I thought you’d never call back.”
“I’ve been busy,” he replied, trying not to remember all the previous nights where he had decided not to call.
“We last talked nearly a month ago,” William said, not sounding amused at all. “What’s going on? Where are you?” There was a buzz of conversation on his brother’s end of the line, and William paused, taking his mouth from the phone and, saying to someone else, “It’s Ed.”
The murmurs turned into actual voices and with a flinch, Ed recognized his mother’s high-pitched tone.
After another few seconds of a muffled conversation, William came back on the line and said, “Mum wants to talk to you.”
Ed couldn’t even protest before his mother took the phone and talked to him clearly.
“Ed! Oh, are you alright, sweetie?”
“Mum,” Ed said, not knowing what to say. “I- I’m alright. I’m in Cerulean.”
Preparing himself for the lecture that was coming, Ed tried to soften the blow by adding, “Really! I’m alright. Me and Ally have just been training our Pokemon a lot.”
There was silence and Ed flinched just by imagining the reaction, but his mother’s reply wasn’t what he was expecting.
“Oh, Ed! We’re so sorry!”
“We were harsh on you when we said that you couldn’t be a trainer and we realize that now. You haven’t called in so long, and we didn’t know what you were doing or what could have happened-”
Ed’s face went red. “Mum…”
“Your dad and I want you to know that we love you and will always support you,” his mother said. “Just please keep in touch, that’s all we want.”
“…Yeah,” Ed said, the floor having been pulled out from under him. He didn’t know what to do; he didn’t think his parents would go right ahead and allow him to continue his journey. Any argument that he had thought up were needed anymore. “Um, I’ve been really busy; sorry for not calling.”
“It’s alright, sweetie. William did the same thing. He would go weeks without calling us or out of range of a phone. How has your journey been? I want to hear all about it.”
“It’s been... great!” Ed said, stomping down the memory of Coralie’s accident. “Me and Ally – Remember her? – we’ve been training our Pokemon a lot, but we lost to Misty, Cerulean’s gym leader, so we’re going to come back later.”
“You lost? Oh, I’m sorry. How’s Paras and Coralie?”
Ed described the battles he was in and how his Pokemon were doing. His Ditto’s injury didn’t once come up in conversation, just the way he liked it. His mother wasn’t Pokemon-savvy by any means, but Ed was patient for once, explaining things, like certain attacks. His mum sounded interested and was always with questions, something that he didn’t mind in the least.
Fifteen minutes had past by the time Ed had finished talking about his journey, and he felt uplifted in a way that he hadn’t been in a while. With his mother talking to him again, it was like everything was all right in the world.
“Is William still there?” Ed asked.
“He’s glaring out the window,” his mum reported. “Would you like to speak with him?”
The phone was handed back, and William’s voice filled Ed’s ear. “Ed, I heard you had a gym battle. How was it?”
Ed had debated with himself for a while on what he was going to tell William. He knew that his brother wouldn’t be happy with Coralie being so messed up, twice even. Now, he had a choice on whether to actually mention it or not. He didn’t have to, the only people who saw Coralie’s accident was Ally, Leah, Misty, and Ally’s classmates. No one else knew. He could avoid William’s disproval, but somehow, Ed knew that William would find out, whether by accident by Ally or Leah, or if Coralie didn’t recover by the time he saw William again. And with his Ditto actually turning color, he wouldn’t be able to hide it.
Then, with mistreating a Pokemon with lying on top of that… William would be so angry.
“I lost,” he said. “Um, Coralie went against a Seel, and, uh…”
“Coralie almost drowned.” Ed quickly continued, “A whirlpool wouldn’t let me return her, so I rescued her, and she was in the Pokemon Center for a while. But she’s getting better now!”
“What? Slow down,” his older brother said. “Coralie was injured… when was this?”
“Two weeks ago.”
After a pause, William said, “Why didn’t you call me then?”
Ed held the phone tighter. “It’s my fault Coralie got hurt. She wasn’t ready for the battle.”
“You trained, didn’t you?”
“Then it’s not you fault,” William said firmly. “Accidents happen, especially with terrain moves like Whirlpool.”
“Will…” Ed decided to be honest. “When I battled Surge, I mistreated Coralie. I pushed her and she fainted because she was too tired.”
“… It’s alright.” His brother’s voice was quiet. “That was a month ago, wasn’t it? I’m sure you know better now.”
“But hey, at least you don’t have to worry anymore, right?”
“Mum and Dad are letting you go on your journey,” William said. “No more looking behind your shoulder and worrying.”
“I guess, but Ally is going to runaway with me.”
“What? You’re way too young for that.”
Ed frowned. “I mean, Ally’s mom is going to stop her from going on her journey if we stay any longer.”
“I don’t know, it’s confusing,” Ed complained. “Ally’s mom is really mean.”
“So you’re leaving soon?”
“We’re going to Lavender Town on Monday.”
“Oh, catching a ghost-type for Sabrina,” William said, sounding impressed. “Good thinking. Any specific targets?”
“… I thought you could only catch Gastly or Haunter there.”
“Not only those. If you’re lucky, you might find a Shuppet. They’ve been sighted around there for the past few years.”
“What are Shuppet?”
“Hoenn Pokemon, pure ghost-types. They look like a cartoony purple ghost with a horn on their head, so you can’t miss them.”
“They sound cool,” Ed said, mentally promising to look them up later.
“I suggest you go after Shuppet instead of Gastly, okay? Gastly are part poison-types; that means psychic attacks will be as effective as ghost-types are on them.”
Ed was aghast. “What! I thought Gastly were pure ghost-types.” He paused. “Where do you find Shuppet?”
“You mean in Lavender? I haven’t been up there in years, but all the ghost-types can be found around Pokemon Tower. I don’t know why, but that tower is the most haunted place that I’ve ever heard of. Not even Mount Pyre comes close.”
“Isn’t the tower a graveyard?”
“It was a long time ago, but there wasn’t enough room for all the graves. It still serves as a funeral home for Pokemon, so make sure you’re quiet and ask permission before going in.”
“Who do I ask?”
William was quiet for a few moments. “I can’t remember his name, but he owns a shelter for abandoned Pokemon as well as the tower. Ask around town when you get there for directions; he’s quite well known.”
Nodding, Ed said, “Okay.” Then, he asked a question that had been on his mind. “Um, Will, how do you catch a ghost Pokemon? They’re not solid, right? So won’t the Poke Balls go through them?”
“Good question!” William said. “Ghost-types are usually intangible, but you’ll be able to hit them right before or as they’re attacking. They need to be solid when attacking or their own attacks won’t work. So, I suggest baiting a ghost-type until they attack and then throw a Poke Ball at it.”
His brother explained, “Annoy it. Ghosts are tricksters; they won’t flee or get scared, so you can do what you want to them until they attack.”
“Alright,” Ed said, already making a battle plan in his head. He could use Parasect to paralyze the Pokemon and Ally could use her Vulpix to wear its health down. Hmm, he might need some extra Poke Balls…
“How’s Leah?” William suddenly asked.
“Huh? Oh, she’s been acting really weird,” Ed said, scanning the lobby to make sure the older girl wasn’t listening in.
“Really? Why is that?”
“Sands’ evolution didn’t go well... Leah won’t say anything else, but it’s bad.”
“I’m not surprised,” William admitted. “She’s had that Sandshrew for how many years? It’s not healthy for a Pokemon to stay in their basic form for that long.”
“What about stone Pokemon?” Ed asked, thinking of Ally’s Vulpix. Ally always rejected the idea of having Amber evolve and she’d be really upset if she was forced to.
“Those are different. Their evolutions aren’t natural and they don’t need to evolve to get stronger. Actually, sometimes it’s the opposite, their evolutions being weaker overall.”
“Then why do people evolve their Pokemon? If they’re weaker-”
William cut in. “As long as trainers train their Pokemon to be strong before evolving them, there isn’t a problem. It’s when the Pokemon are evolved while they’re still young is when you can see problems.”
“Carla wants me to get her an Arcanine,” Ed said. “So when I get a Growlithe, I shouldn’t evolve it?”
“Not until you’ve trained it enough.” He paused. “You might want to hold off giving Carla an Arcanine for a few years, though. Mum and Dad aren’t going to let her keep it.”
Ed asked, “Then can’t I give it to you so that Carla can still play with it?”
“Mum will never let me release it in the backyard,” William said dryly. “She lets me train my Squirtle and Pidgey there, but only because they’re small. Besides, Arcanine can be too playful at times and a giant fire-breathing dog seems a bit too dangerous for Carla to play with.”
After that piece of advice, Ed and William talked for several more minutes before Ed said, “Um, I’m going to go now.”
“A bit,” he said. “And I’m going to Ally’s house tomorrow, so I’m going to be getting up early.”
“Have fun then. Oh, before you go, can you ask Leah to call me? I need to talk to her.”
“Nothing much,” his brother said. “She wanted me to find stuff for her and I need to deliver my findings.”
“I don’t know where she is…” Ed said, looking around. “But, okay. I’ll go look for her.”
Saying his goodbyes, the boy hung up and immediately proceeded to Leah’s room where he knocked. When he got no reply, he went back downstairs to the recovery ward instead.
Before he entered, however, he was stopped by a nurse.
“Do you have Pokemon in there?” she asked.
She looked apologetic. “Sorry, but you can’t go in. The Pokemon need quiet.”
“Oh.” Ed looked towards the doors. “I think my friend’s in there and I need to talk to her. She has a… Sandslash? Can you go get her?”
The nurse did so, but it took a minute before she came back out with Leah in tow.
“Leah!” Ed said, noticing her rumpled clothing, and wondered how long she had been in there. “William wants to talk to you.”
“I’m busy,” she said, her voice quiet.
“He said he has some stuff to tell you.”
The older girl looked surprised, but that faded back into a blank face. “I don’t care anymore.”
Ed was about to insist, but a glance back at the recovery room doors changed his mind. “… Okay. William just wanted me to tell you.”
With that said, Ed said goodbye to Leah and retreated back to his room.
He didn’t know what happened to Sands. He wanted to know, but he was starting to think he never would. He and Ally were leaving the day after tomorrow and Leah wouldn’t get better by then. She was so secretive that Ed thought that maybe he should sneak in to see how Sands was for himself, but on the other hand, he was scared at what he would find. Leah had always been so casual when talking about Pokemon-related mishaps; to have her so depressed meant it was really bad.
Even if it was still early out, Ed felt tired as sat on his bed and took off his shoes. It had been a long day, especially with the gym battle that morning. Tomorrow was going to be the same, with him going to Ally’s house and all. Ally said she would be inviting her friends, so he had that to look forward to.
Ed looked out the window.
Only one more day…
Long after Ed left, Leah sat in the lobby of the Pokemon Center, having been kicked out of the recovery room due to the end of visiting hours. She was annoyed and restless, eyes staring at the people walking and standing around. At her side was Zee, watching everyone like her trainer, but more out of curiosity than boredom.
Leah had been feeling out of sorts, and while she knew that she could be doing useful things (like calling her grandmother), she stayed where she was. It was hard for her to do anything these days. She felt tired all the time and once she found somewhere to sit, she wouldn’t move for hours at a time.
In some part of her mind she realized that there was something wrong with her, but she didn’t feel like doing anything about it.
Though, as she watched the trainers going by, Leah couldn’t help but notice that something seemed a bit wrong. The older people looked worried, like they were privy to information that others did not. Actually, they weren’t the only ones looking stressed. Everything was quieter than normal, and Leah couldn’t tell if it was just her not paying attention or it was actually quiet.
Not that she cared.
Leah looked at her Drowzee, who was flipping through a magazine. The trainer wanted to ask what the psychic-type was looking at but the words were caught in her throat and she turned her head away.
Even if she liked having Zee keeping her company, Leah was glad there was no one else around. She didn’t want to be bothered or have someone talking to her. Not that she had many friends in the first place. Ed and Ally, no matter how strained their relationship may be, were too young for Leah to honestly call them friends. Danny was a friend, she guessed, but she hadn’t seen him in so long that she wondered if he had forgotten about her. Her Pokemon weren’t her friends, but pets. Loved pets, sure, but not friends.
Any other people that she could call friends were back in Pallet Town, but she barely remembered them, their faces blurred in her mind. Sometimes, she even had trouble recalling their names, which wasn’t a sign of close friendship at all.
She had always thought that journeys were supposed to build unbreakable friendships and bonds, but she supposed that was another myth, created by TV shows and books. Not that she helped any such building along. Training wasn’t something she liked, so it wasn’t surprising she wouldn’t be friendly. She didn’t want any friends, that wouldn’t change, but… It’d be nice if someone was waiting for her back home. A best friend, of sorts. She had ones before, but they had always been taken away from her because of training or moving; the regular causes.
She had no one and when she went back home, that would be much more apparent. Her grandmother was always away and her friends from Pallet probably didn’t remember her, either.
Training and Pokemon were what the whole world was built around and to like neither meant she was alone. She refused to change her hobbies, so she supposed that she wouldn’t really connect with anyone, ever.
… Or, she was wallowing in her depression and should stop. She couldn’t be the only one who didn’t like Pokemon or training and she’d find someone who shared that someday. Maybe she would start a Facebook group when she got home.
Leah shook her head, clearing her minds of the thoughts. She looked out the window and saw the sky was darkening. With the sun setting earlier and earlier, she couldn’t tell what the time was just with that and she couldn’t see the clock at the angle she was sitting. She didn’t want to watch people anymore, but she didn’t feel like going to bed.
Back into a state of boredom she went.
“Anything will do,” Leah said out loud, if only to snap her out of her mute state. She turned to her Drowzee. “Zee, come on.”
Leah forced herself out of her chair and waited for Zee before proceeding to her room. Once there, she helped Zee climb onto her bed and sat beside the Pokemon, snagging her white cell phone off the small table.
Ed said William wanted to talk to her. The information that was mentioned must involve the Plates and while Leah had no more interest in them, she needed something to do and maybe William could snap her out of her depression. She didn’t like being depressed; it was annoying.
The phone rang only twice before it was picked up.
It was a female voice, young and childlike, so Leah said, “Carla, it’s Leah. I want to speak to William.”
“Okay!” the voice chirped and Leah heard the sister yell into the background. “Will! Phone’s for you!”
William picked up. “Hello?”
“You wanted to talk to me?”
“Two hours ago,” William said.
“I was busy. What do you want?”
“Found something I thought you’d want to know.”
Leah waited and when no continuation came, said, “Well?”
“Hold on, finding my notes…” There was shuffling in the background and paper was moved and finally, “Found them! Alright, since I couldn’t find anything on the Plates by name, I went searching for similar artifacts or legends that referenced them.”
“How long did that take you?” Leah asked, laying her head on her pillow.
“Not too long because I got lucky. A university friend of mine pointed me towards a North American myth that seems really similar to the Plates. It took place a long time ago, but I’m not sure when. There’s lots of different version of it, but they all basically tell the same story.”
“What’s it about?”
“A girl,” he said. “She found what was referred to as ‘God’s Tablet’ and after which, she was blessed. Certain Pokemon would listen to her and plants would grow under her touch. She was made a princess and was worshipped as a god herself.”
“How do you know it relates to the Plates?” Leah said.
“Because of more research I did. I started looking at stories of humans gaining Pokemon powers of some sort. There are a lot of them, but I found a newspaper article that confirms a story. In 1944, there was a man called Elizur…” There was a pause. “Something. He lived in South America and used some sort of power to make money. He entertained crowds by moving rocks, levitating, without using Pokemon.”
“He could have been faking.”
“I don’t think so. He’s kind of a hero, actually. There was a rock slide where he lived and he stopped it in mid-air. There were lots of witnesses. They said he broke the rocks without touching them.”
“He could have had a psychic type.”
“Witnesses say there was no glow around the rocks, and I can’t think of a way they would levitate or break without anyone noticing a Pokemon. The newspaper interviewed some people and one said that he got his power from a special rock, which I think is a Plate.”
“So, you think Plates give people powers?”
“It looks like it, but I’m not sure.”
“What happened to Elizur?” The name felt a bit familiar to Leah.
“I’m not sure, it doesn’t say. I’ve looked it up on the web, but he disappeared a few months after the rock slide, complaining of headaches.”
“Yeah, that’s why I’m still searching,” William said, pausing. “I have a theory, so listen. The Plates were made out of Arceus and he’s the one who created all Pokemon… Well, he created four of them: Giratina, Palkia, Dialga, and Mew. Mew created the rest. He created the Pokemon using his arms, which are now the Plates. I don’t know how many Plates there are, but I think there are seventeen, one for each type.”
“That’s a pretty big leap of logic.”
“No, it makes sense. Arceus is known for being able to change types and I think that ability was stolen from him when he lost his arms.”
“And how do you know Arceus still can’t change type?”
Leah could almost hear William’s frown. “It’s just a theory,” he snapped, seemingly protective of it. “So, these Plates give Pokemon or even humans powers based on what type they are. They basically change their holder’s typing. And since they’re holding something that belonged to Arceus, Pokemon would like them, recognizing the Plates.”
When William put it like that, it was hard not to believe it. It made sense, not that she knew whether it was true or not. Then, Leah thought back to all the times she encountered the Plates, or specially, what the Elite Four said about them.
“Do you think the Plates would change them physically? Show a sign?” Leah asked.
“I don’t know.”
She continued, “I think that guy might be holding a Plate.”
“Blue, the thief. He stole the Ice Plate. I talked to Agatha and she got… weird when I said he had light blue eyes. Maybe they change the holder’s eye colors?”
“Eye colors don’t work like that,” William said.
“And the Elite Four were really concerned about him,” Leah said, continuing as if William didn’t say anything.
“If someone stole an artifact that gave people superpowers, I would be too,” William said. “Have you seen him use ice powers?”
Leah shook her head. “I’ve only seen him three times and talked to him once, so I don’t know.”
“Well, if you see him again, keep an eye out.”
“I’m not going to be seeing him again,” Leah said, not comfortable with the idea at all. Her chest tightened at the thought. “I’m going home and there’s no way he’ll stop in Pallet Town.”
“Oh, right,” William said. “How are you going to get home?”
“I don’t know. I’ll ask my grandmother to pick me up, I guess.”
“All the way from Pallet Town?”
“She’ll find a way; she always does.”
William sounded unconvinced. “Uh huh. I’m thinking you’re going to have to take the long way home, through Pewter and Viridian.”
“… I can’t go alone,” Leah said, blinking, the thought never occurring to her.
“Of course you can. You’re fifteen. Ed and Ally are younger than you and they’re going.”
“They have each other. Sands isn’t doing well and Zee can’t protect me from everything. I’d be a sitting duck.” ‘For both Pokemon and humans,’ Leah added mentally.
“Then ask someone to go with you. If I didn’t want to go alone, I’d just stand in the lobby in the Pokemon Center and ask around if anyone was going where I was going. You’ll find someone easily.”
Leah conceded, “Maybe.”
“How is Sands, anyways?”
“Bad,” she said, and then looked at Zee, who had curled up at the end of her bed. “I’m going to go.”
“Don’t hang up on me again-”
Leah hung up, putting the cell phone back on the table. She laid on her bed, arms resting at her sides and legs half-way off the bed to give Zee space.
The Plates… It made her feel anxious to realize that any idiot in the world could pick one up and get Pokemon-like powers. Which was probably why the Elite Four was guarding them so closely, but even then, that thought didn’t feel right. Sure, anyone could get powers if they tripped over the right rock, but the Elite Four were really, really concerned. She felt as if she was missing a piece of information.
And that wasn’t even considering the fact that William’s theory was just that; a theory.
All and all, Leah felt tired. She should go to bed. Visiting hours started early in the morning and she wanted to be there for Sands. Ever since his accident, she had regretted every little thing she had done to upset him. She never realized how lonely it was without her Sandshrew.
She also still needed to call her grandmother. It was stupid that she hadn’t yet. She needed to know that Blue had attacked her.
When she looked back at her cell phone, her arms felt heavy and she felt her concentration drifting. Her grandmother was probably busy; she usually was. Leah would call her in the morning. A single night wouldn’t change anything.
Tomorrow, she would visit Sands and the next, Ed and Ally would continue on without her.
Just one more day…
“Eevee are odd creatures with the amazing ability to transform into more than-”
“With the recent death of her brother, Jade Rouge has astounded Kanto with a proposal to-”
“- And he scores with two minutes remaining!-”
The television’s screen went black and the remote was deposited on a side table where it belonged.
Keeping an eye on his hand, Blue took a sip of his coke and leaned back on the couch. He didn’t know why he owned a TV; it wasn’t like he used it very often. It was more of a decoration than anything else, just like the rest of his apartment, which he hardly even lived in anymore. It wasn’t his fault, though. His job kept him busy and now with his new ‘boss’, his schedule was jammed packed.
Putting his coke back on the table, he glanced at the phone, which was as silent as ever. Usually, he’d be out of the house after dinner for an evening stroll, but he was expecting a call and couldn’t leave. Which was a shame as with nothing on TV, he was left with the annoying feeling of boredom. He wasn’t sure when he was getting the call, exactly, but last time he got one of those calls, he was informed of the date and time of the next one.
Blue didn’t like putting his life (and walks) on hold for a phone call, but bad luck had left him powerless, ironically. He had clients and bosses before, but never someone who could ruin his life in an instant.
From his couch, he could see the last rays of daylight fading through the window. The sun was setting earlier and earlier, and being a summer person, he had to say he rather disliked that.
He had been waiting inside for this one call and the beautiful day outside did not make his wait any easier. Despite that, his neighbors had informed him that it was freezing outside and he hadn’t missed a thing, but since the cold didn’t bother him anymore, he could only shake his head and sigh. It was rare he was home and all he wanted to do was enjoy a day outside.
Eying the phone, Blue suddenly blinked and grabbed it out of its holder. His phone was new and portable, and without wire, able to be carried around. He could always go on his walk, but bring his phone with him. That way, he could wait while doing something he enjoyed!
… The problem was that his conversation wouldn’t be that private with people around. Not that anyone would understand what he was talking about, but still…
Ah, screw it. He had been waiting all day with little to do. He would slap himself if he ran into an Elite Four member or something, but until then, he was going to have some fun.
Transferring his phone to his other hand, he reached for his keys, but swore when his useless hand knocked his coke off the side table. He quickly grabbed the can before it could stain the carpet with all its contents, but scowled at the small brown stains that were able to escape their holder. He slammed the can back onto the table and made a mental note to clean up later.
If he had any doubts of taking a walk before, they were erased now. His mood had plummeted and he needed a pick-me-up fast.
He clipped the phone to his belt, put his keys into his pocket, and left his apartment, locking the door behind him. As he walked down the hall, he said a quick hello to the neighbors that he happened to see and then rode the elevator down to the lobby. He breathed in a great gulp of air once he got outside and absorbed the noise and the smells of the city around him.
He lived in the busiest part of Cerulean City, in one of the better apartment complexes. Being around so many people didn’t bother him too much, having come from a large family. Sometimes, he considered moving to Vermillion, where the rest of his family lived, but he loved Cerulean. He could no longer think of living anywhere else.
As he walked down the sidewalk, some people gave him odd looks, but he ignored them. Just because he wasn’t wearing warm clothing on a cold evening didn’t mean he needed to be stared at. It was annoying.
Even if he was in his home city, on a street he walked down hundreds of times, he kept his eyes and ears open. One could never be to careful and the world he lived in could be a bit competitive if you accidently walked into the wrong circles. Last time he let his guard down, a Lucario and its trainer decided to greet him with an Aura Sphere to the chest. His Scyther helped him out of that, luckily, and he had kept his eyes open since. Though, he had just started out as a mercenary, so he couldn’t be blamed too much for treading on some feet here and there.
Still, despite not being able to let his thoughts drift off, Blue liked his walks. While not quiet, they were peaceful and as relaxing as his life would ever get. But even then, he rather enjoyed his life. It could be dangerous and stressful at times, but it gave him a thrill every time he got a job done, whether it was stealing something, killing someone or even catching a rare Pokemon. It helped that it paid well, too.
Blue enjoyed his walk for a mere ten minutes before the phone on his belt rang, buzzing against his hip and letting out an awful shriek. Having never been able to fix the volume of his phone, he could only ignore the flinching people around him and answer the damn thing.
He didn’t even get to say hello before the voice in his ear said, “I want to know about the locations of the Plates you are aware of.”
Used to not questioning things, Blue asked, “Which ones?”
“All of them.”
“I only know one,” Blue said, ducking into an alleyway where the conversation would be a bit more private.
The silence on the other end of the line suggested him to elaborate.
Blue did so. “The Ghost Plate,” he said, but before he said anything more, asked, “Do you want it?”
“Yes. Where it is?”
“Want me to go get it?” Blue further asked, ignoring the question. Before he could reveal anything, he needed to know…
“You are not needed for this,” the voice replied. “Where is it?”
Grinning, the thief said, “Lavender Town, Pokemon Tower. I checked into it and it’s been there for around two decades, so there’s no chance of it moving anytime soon. I’m not sure where it exactly is, but I’m guessing it’s on the top floor. No human guards, the only humans around are priests and they’re for the ghost Pokemon-”
He was cut off.
“Email me the specifics later,” the voice said.
“Alright,” Blue said. “Is that all?”
“No. I want you to report to Celadon immediately and wait for further instructions.”
“… Right now?” Blue looked around, noticing the evening sky and how the city lights only made it appear darker.
“As soon as possible,” the voice said. “I have a job for you.”
Blue sighed, “Joy.” He really didn’t feel like being an obedient little servant, but a job was a job. “What do you want me to do?”
“Report to me in Celadon.”
“I don’t know where you are.”
“I will call you once you get there.”
The reply of, “Do you even know my cell number?” was unneeded as he was hung up on, the dial tone being more annoying than usual.
Blue clipped the phone back to his belt and walked back onto the sidewalk, hands at his sides.
Well, that went as well as it could have gone. The shorter the conversation he had with Giovanni, the happier he was. There was something about the gym leader that put him on edge. Maybe it was that in all his years of travel, Giovanni was one of the few people that Blue couldn’t really predict. It didn’t help that the ground-type user was quick on the draw and could switch personalities at the drop of the hat. It was weird and Blue didn’t like that.
Not that Giovanni couldn’t be predicted. As soon as the gym leader offered Blue a deal, the thief knew that Giovanni would eventually ask about the Plates. Specifically, where they were. The Plates were so valuable that anyone would pay a lifetime just to obtain one and Blue could see why. If some mystical artifact could grant him superpowers, he’d totally take it (without losing his whole arm, thanks).
Blue had been screwed over ever since the beginning of the summer, when Green had approached him. It was only fair that he started to screw over some people himself, starting with Giovanni. The gym leader deserved it.
There was a reason Blue told Giovanni about the Ghost Plate’s location and not Green. While Green would send him down to get it, the gym leader would be using his own minions and not him. What did he care if some people he didn’t know get killed in a stupid attempt to get the Ghost Plate? As long as he didn’t take a step near the place, he would tell Giovanni anything he wanted to know.
Hopefully, the gym leader’s groupies would mess up; it would serve them right for even trying.
Just before Blue reached his apartment complex, he swore he heard a voice.
But being surrounded by people and their chatter, it was easy of him to write it off as someone else’s problem. Blue took the steps to his floor, not in the mood to listen to the cheery elevator music, and entered his apartment.
It was just as he left it and he threw his keys onto the kitchen counter as he stood with his arms crossed, wondering if he should start packing.
The voice was as loud as it was last time, but with no one around, Blue could only take it seriously. His body turned rigid and he took his Poke Ball out of his pocket in seconds flat, releasing a Pokemon onto the tile flooring.
With Smeargle at his side, he crept further into his apartment, looking for any signs of the voice. He pushed his bathroom door open and peered into it with his back against the wall. He searched his entire home like that, looking into every crevice and then some. Just when he was about to put the voice off of being outside his door, it spoke up again.
Blue listened carefully, but he couldn’t pinpoint where the voice was coming from. It was like it was all around him, swirling invisibly in the air. He could tell it was masculine, however, and too deep to be a child’s. It sounded familiar, though he couldn’t remember where he had heard it before.
“Where are you?” he asked.
“I’ll help you; just tell me where you are.”
The voice didn’t reply at first, but then…
“Where?” Blue looked around. “The walls?”
He repeated, “Where?”
After that, no matter how many times Blue called out, the voice didn’t reply, disappearing back into the hole to came from.
The incident made him uneasy and he went to the table his coke was sitting on and took out his gun from the locked drawer. It was too late to leave for Celadon, so he was going to have to spend the night. He didn’t know what prompted the voice, but he knew he didn’t imagine it; it sounded very real, like a mouth next to his ears. So, either he was going insane or a psychic Pokemon was messing with him.
Despite his paranoia, the voice seemed harmless, more on the lines of a prank than something malicious. All the same, his gun and Smeargle would be keeping him company that night. He refused to vacant his apartment just for a voice, especially his apartment. If a psychic-type took one step into his room he’d have Smeargle cut it to pieces.
Blue closed his blinds and then set out for bed, deciding to head to Celadon in the morning. He didn’t know what Giovanni had planned for him, but he supposed he would find out soon enough. It wouldn’t take more than a day to get to Celadon, which gave him plenty of time to plan for anything the gym leader threw at him.
Sighing, Blue patted his Smeargle on the head.
He had one more day…
A/N: Sorry I didn’t update last week, guys! I was busy, so I decided to hold off another week. Either way, I’m doing some wrapping up and building up in this chapter, and goddamn you, William, why do you always suck out my enthusiasm to write? D:
May 28th, 2010 (8:53 PM).
Ah, Dagzy! I miss your weekly updates! (and mine but that's because of weird things happening)
Great chapter and nothing stood out to me as wrong or bad grammar. I wonder who that voice is, hmmm? Is it the same voice from before? I really cannot tell right now as it's been a long day.
Edit: Well maybe one thing.
May 29th, 2010 (12:01 AM).
The bad guy/Mercenary-type-figure is hearing noises,
Leah is still Emotionally overwhelmed,
Ed's back to his old enthusiastic self,
And of course, There's the fact that both Ed Ally(and Leah?) are going to lavender town to catch a ghost type, and the ghost plate also happens to be there, which is Giovanni's target.
I loved this chapter!
I want mah Sands back! >:O
Nice job Dagzar! *Gives two thumbs up*
May 29th, 2010 (8:46 AM).
Mr. Voice is the same one from chapter… the Scyther chapter part two (I can’t remember my chapters anymore ). Not that he talked much then.
Yeah, I spelled vacate wrong, I’ll go fix it.
Heh, I’m kind of surprised myself at how many things are going on, and this arc is rather mild compared to the next few. Ally will be appearing in the next chapter, I can promise that.
May 29th, 2010 (6:49 PM). Edited May 29th, 2010 by Delusions of Originality.
Whew! Finally got myself caught up after reading on and off for about two days straight. I've been taking notes as I go along, though I haven't bothered commenting on too many errors or certain points from the earlier chapters as I don't want this to turn into more of a novel than it already is; I just brought up a few things that I noticed happening a lot or especially liked. I guess there are still a few things I mention that were brought up by others before, but oh, well. I can give more thorough comments about the technical stuff and about the awesome parts when I'm able to read updates at a more regular pace. ;)
Because of the way I was jotting this stuff down, my comments probably seem a little... disjointed. Sorry about that, though I did try to point out where the things I'm commenting on are.
It's ancient history at this point in the story, but one thing that bothers me a little is the fact that even starter pokémon don't understand basic commands until their new trainers start teaching them. I don't have a problem with the pokémon-as-animals view (even though it's not how I prefer to write them myself), and it does make sense that a wild pokémon would have no idea what its trainer was telling it to do, but I'm fairly certain that in most canons a starter pokémon is specifically bred, or at least partially trained, so that it will respond to basic attacks and not leave its new partner completely helpless. It makes more sense that starters would be able to follow a simple command and then leave it up to the trainers to teach them anything more advanced than that. Think about it--a starter that doesn't respond to spoken commands at all? Even if the pokémon seems to personally dislike its new trainer (and I don't know that there's much anyone can do about that), I'd think the distributors would want to do as much as possible to prevent situations like Ally's from occurring--if it isn't safe to send ten-year-olds out on their own with just a pokémon, it definitely isn't safe to give that same ten-year-old a dangerous pet that won't even listen when she says "please don't explode on me".
Kudos on giving Ed and Ally interesting starters, by the way. Sandshrew is a nice break from the usual as well, though I have seen several of those before; voltorb and paras, on the other hand, are quite different (I actually laughed out loud when I first realized that it was a voltorb Ally had sent out-- I'd spent a few seconds wracking my brain about what she could have that wasn't a pikachu, and I totally didn't see that coming). It's one thing to see people try and pick pokémon other than OFFICIALOL STARTERS AND EEVEE, but to go with two pokémon that are easily forgotten and often considered fairly unpopular... two major thumbs up there. Not to mention they're capable of making for interesting storytelling in spite of whatever people think of them, as you've already shown. As far as I'm aware, main characters that own ditto are also rare--they're usually just one-time opponents to add brief transformy interest to a battle, so it's cool to see one show up so often and in so many different situations (even if it will be taking an extended break due to its current state). Do be careful with its name, though--you misspell Coralie as "Coarlie" fairly often. Or is Coarlie the correct spelling? I'm not sure.
I liked the technicality under which Ally was able to win her first badge, although it would've been nice if you'd made it clear that going out of bounds was a possible penalty. Maybe it is by default in the animé and I'm just forgetting since I haven't watched it in years; for all of the battles I can remember reading or seeing, however, going out of bounds was never really a concern unless it was explicitly stated. Additionally, I think it'd only be fair to make sure that that rule was explained beforehand to a pair of rookie trainers, just in case. Imagine if Amber had been the one to set foot out of bounds--would've made for an interesting point, I guess, but it also would've made Blaine look like a jerk, especially from where the readers are standing.
In future revisions, I'd advise against italicizing "it" and "he" in the section where Jordan and Blue make their first appearance. I'd have been curious enough about who and what was being referred to without the emphasis, and I'm not entirely sure that a character would emphasize those things in his or her thoughts anyway--Jordan should be accustomed to his strange partner and this mysterious object by now, even if he doesn't know exactly who/what they are. It's getting a little close to bludgeoning the readers over the head with "this is special this is special and I'm deliberately withholding information about it ooooooo" as it is, you know?
Feeling a little bad for Ed's brother, by the way. Not just because of the leg thing (though I am curious as to how that happened), but... William Williams? Ouch. XD
I liked the part where Leah got out of being hosed down because she was wearing a white shirt. :D That was clever.
You did do a lot of tense shifting and confusing of certain words earlier on ("your" and "you're" most prominently), but for the most part that seems to have improved in later chapters. I have noticed a mistake that you keep making, however, and I'm a little surprised that no one caught it before now. At least, I don't think so; I sort of skimmed some of the longer reviews. I'll pull this line from the beginning of chapter eighteen as an example:
Overall, Dagzar, I find that I'm enjoying myself immensely as I read your fanfic. I actually wanted to start reading it some time ago when I saw it on the favorites list of an author I respect on FF.net, but I was in a big "reading slump" if you will and never got around to reading much fiction at all for a while, let alone fanfiction. Now I'm forcing myself to get back into shape as the avid reader I used to be, though, and Mentor has definitely helped a lot--thank you. The recent plot twists (Leah being Agatha's granddaughter, Blue sending the scyther after her, finally seeing the direction the whole Plate plot is taking, even hearing about that Eizur fellow again) have really piqued my interest, and I'll be following this story closely from now on. Well done.
a.k.a. Phoenixsong, a.k.a. Phoenixkratos, a.k.a. that nerd with too many fakemon
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May 31st, 2010 (7:16 PM).
Wow, thanks for reviewing!
Heh, I love using underrated Pokemon, in fact, choosing a trainer’s Pokemon is my favorite thing to do.
I really, really need to go touch up my earlier chapters. All the mistakes you’re pointing out are giving me the urge to go strike them out of existence. Note to self: go do some editing, like, seriously. <_<
Thanks for pointing out the numerous of mistakes that have ducked under my radar (I’ll take care of them as soon, maybe this weekend). And I’m glad you’ve liked the story so far.
June 3rd, 2010 (7:02 PM).
I really enjoy reading your work Dagzar, and I can't wait for the next chapter! :D
June 3rd, 2010 (7:03 PM).
Thanks, Actshon! Next chapter will be coming out soon.
June 4th, 2010 (5:10 PM).
My review as follows...
Other than that, it’s a well-written chapter. I’m still curious as to who the mysterious voice belongs to. Would you care to reveal who it is via PM?
Credit goes to Sgt Shock for my signature and avatar
June 4th, 2010 (5:50 PM).
Thanks, LM! I can't tell you who Mr. Voice is at all, but you'll find out eventually (like, in thirty chapters). :p
June 25th, 2010 (7:08 PM).
Chapter 44: Journey
“And this is my room,” Ally said, pushing open her door.
Ed looked around. “It’s sure… pink.”
“I like pink.”
“Your house is smaller than mine,” Ed said, picking up a large Mew plushy and running a finger over its soft eyes.
“We have a basement suite,” Ally explained, frowning at Ed until he put the stuffed animal back on her bed. “People live downstairs.”
“That’s cool; you can live with your friends.”
Ally shook her head. “They don’t have anyone my age.”
Leading the way, Ally and Ed went back downstairs where Sam and Maylin were waiting in the kitchen.
“What took you so long?” Maylin asked. “Having fun up there?”
Sam punched Maylin in the arm. “Ew! That’s gross!”
Rubbing her arm, she gave her friend a blank look. “What?”
Seeing the looks she was getting, Sam ducked her head, face red. “Nothing.”
“Thanks, Ally,” Ed said as his friend handed him a glass of orange juice, complimenting Ally’s classmates’ half-full ones.
Ally sat down on the remaining chair at the kitchen table, folding her hands on her lap.
“When’s your Mom going to get back home?” Sam asked, checking the time with the clock on the wall.
“She went to a meeting; she’ll be there a while,” Ally said, taking a sip of her water since she passed on the juice.
Maylin pointed out, “We’ll be in trouble if she finds us here.”
“W- We’re leaving tomorrow.” Ally glanced at Ed. “And Ed hadn’t seen my house yet. “
“So you’re going to Lavender next?” Sam asked, butting in. “Do you think you’ll see any ghosts?”
Ed started, “We’re going to catch some-”
“I mean ghost-ghosts! You know, dead people or Pokemon?”
“Leah says ghosts don’t exist,” Ally said firmly.
“She’s lying,” Sam said. “She just doesn’t want to scare you. There are tons of pictures on the internet!”
Maylin added, “I’ve seen them too. They’re everywhere.”
Ed and Ally exchanged a glance, the boy saying, “I don’t think we’ll see any.”
“We’re going to go during the day,” Ally continued.
“Then how are you going to catch the Pokemon?”
“Ghosts appear in the day, too,” Ed said. “I’ve researched. They’ll just be in caves or dark houses. We’ll find some.”
Sam propped a hand under her head. “Then where you guys going?”
“Celadon,” Ed started to tick off his fingers. “Then Saffron, Cerulean again, Pewter, and then Viridian.”
“You’re almost done!” Maylin whooped. “Oh, wow! I wonder if you guys will be on TV during the Indigo Tournament! That’ll be so cool!”
Sam joined in. “I bet they will! Every battle gets on TV! Remember Josh? He went to our school and we saw him on TV!”
“I thought he lost in the first battle?” Ally frowned.
“Yeah, but he was on TV! How cool is that?”
“You guys will probably get far,” Maylin said to Ally. “You have Amber and she’s-”
“- awesome! And you,” she turned to Ed, “have a Ditto! You can just have it transform into a Dragonite and you’ll win every battle.”
“Coralie’s not…” Ed trailed off.
“What are you going to do after?” Sam asked, taking a large swallow of her orange juice.
“The Indigo Tournament.”
Ed and Ally exchanged a glance.
“W- We don’t know.”
“You should go to Hoenn,” Maylin said with a sigh. “I’ve always wanted to go there. It’s so pretty and warm; I don’t think it even snows over there.”
Sam shook her head. “No, go to Johto. Have you ever been to Ecruteak or Violet? There are ruins over there! It’s a really cool place to explore.”
“Maybe we can go to all of them?” Ed said. “Since Johto is the closest, we can go to there first, then Hoenn, and maybe Sinnoh next.”
“Ew, no.” Maylin wrinkled her nose. “My cousin Tim went there and he said it was all rainy and muddy and you couldn’t walk. Skip it.”
“Then what do we do after that?” Ed asked, the question bouncing around inside his skull. “We travel to regions, getting badges, competing in tournaments… what else are we going to do?”
“Maybe we could try Pokemon contests?” Ally said. “I’ve seen them on TV.”
Ed looked disgusted. “You mean those… beauty contests?”
“Maybe you could catch a legendary!” Maylin said.
That certain suggestion was much more accepted by Ed. “Yeah!” he said. “But where would we find one? No one knows where they are.”
“Did you see the trainer on the news a year ago?” Sam asked. “He caught a legendary just by exploring a cave in a Hoenn desert! You could go to places that no one’s explored! I bet that’s where the legendaries are!”
Going to places unknown didn’t sit comfortably with Ally. “Maybe later.”
“I can’t believe you two are leaving tomorrow,” Sam said, frowning. “I wish you could stay for a few more days.”
“We need to get the rest of the badges,” Ed said. “There’s no time to waste!”
Ally said, “We’ll be coming back after Saffron; we’ll be back soon.”
“I hope so. It’s not the same without you here, Ally.”
The girl blushed. “Thanks Sam.”
Sam held up her glass. “More juice?”
They were still seated at the kitchen table when they heard a car pull into the driveway.
Maylin looked at the clock. “Your mom’s home!”
“She’s early,” Ally moaned.
Sam got out of her chair and headed towards the back door. “Come on! We can sneak past her!”
“But our glasses!” The table still had four empty glasses on it and there was a yellow stain on the cloth where Maylin had almost spilled hers. Anyone could tell that they were there.
Ed grabbed the glasses and ran to the sink to deposit them. Meanwhile, Maylin took a cloth off the counter and put it over the stain, as if it would make it go away.
“Good enough, let’s go!”
At Sam’s urging, Ed and Maylin followed her out the back, but Ally stood still.
“This won’t work!” the girl said. She looked at the front door. “Um, go wait for me at the end of the block. I- I’ll try to explain this.”
“I’ll stay with you,” Ed said.
Ally shook her head. “N- No! I don’t want her to see you here. Please go!”
Reluctantly, Ed left with the other two girls and only seconds after the backdoor closed, the lock in the front door turned.
“Hello,” Ally said, greeting her mother, moving the cloth aside to make it looked like she wasn’t trying to cover the stain up.
Her mother sensed something was wrong and her eyes flickered towards the long haired white carpet, where footprints exclaimed their presence.
“Was someone here?” she asked.
“M- My friends came over,” Ally said. “We only stayed in the kitchen.”
“… Friends aren’t allowed over.”
“I’m leaving tomorrow.”
“What’s that gotta do with anything?”
“I- It’s a special day.” Ally looked away at her mother’s disbelieving look.
Her mother walked past her and entered the kitchen. Her eyes past over the glasses in the sink, but narrowed over the yellow stain. She pointed at it. “What’s this?”
“M- Maylin almost spilled hers; we cleaned it up as best we could.”
“Not good enough,” her mother grunted, touching it with the tip of her finger.
The ensuring silence was awkward and Ally edged towards the door. She didn’t want to be yelled at and her friends were waiting for her. Her mother never listened to her when she tried to explain in the past, so why did she stay behind? Explaining never worked…
Her mother didn’t seem to be paying attention so the girl opened the front door before saying, “I- I’m going out! I’ll be back before dark!”
She left the house before her mother could reply and was at the end of the driveway when the door opened back up and her mother called out after her, “Where do you think you’re going? I’m not done with you!”
The words nearly gave Ally a heart attack and she bolted down the street, running as fast as she could. Her Poke Balls bounced up and down in her pocket where they always were and Ally was never gladder that they were with her.
Her friends saw her running and Sam asked, “What’s going on?”
Ally stopped, panting and turned to looked behind her. Her mother had come out of the house and was standing in the driveway, staring at her. She was too far away for Ally to see her expression.
“Is she going to come after us?” Ed asked in a low voice.
Not knowing at all, Ally stayed on the safe side and said, “Run!”
The four ran together, Ally house disappearing as they turned the corner. Using her knowledge of the back roads in the area, Ally led them to a park that she did not normally go to, where the playground was rusted metal instead of colorful plastic.
It took ten minutes to get there and having run for most of the way, everyone was tired, Sam and Maylin more so as they weren’t used to the exercise.
“That was scary!” Sam gasped out. From the ground, Maylin nodded, sweat pouring down her face.
“Why was she so mad?” Ed asked, catching his breath. “We were only in the kitchen!”
Between her panting, Sam said, “Ally’s mom is really mean. She’s always like that.”
“I didn’t know Moms could be that mean,” Ed said.
“… I- I’m sorry my mum kicked us out,” Ally said, gaining everyone’s attention. “We shouldn’t have gone to my house.”
“It’s okay, Ally. I liked your house.” Ed looked around. “And I’ve never been here before.”
Sam ran her hand down a pole holding up the monkey bars, feeling the textured rust. “My parents never let me come here. They say only bad kids do.”
Still looking upset, Ally stood beside Sam, looking up at the bars. She jumped on a nearby wooden platform and grasped the first bar with both hands. Then, she pushed herself off, swinging by only her hands. She grunted as she made her body swing higher, hooking her feet on the third bar.
“I don’t remember the last time I played on these,” Ed said, getting on the wooden platform and grabbing the bar after Ally had let go of it.
Ally got comfortable up on the top, Ed soon joining her.
There wasn’t enough room on the monkey bars so Sam and Maylin hung out on the ground.
None of them spoke. They all enjoyed the silence and how the evening sky’s blue ate the gold of the day.
“We should come back here,” Maylin said. “It has a pretty view.”
Sam shook her head. “It won’t be the same without Ally.” At Ed’s look, she added, “And you too, Ed.”
“Ed,” Ally said suddenly. “Do you want to battle?”
Ed looked over. “We always battle.”
“I mean a real battle,” she said. “Not training. One-on-one, Sparks versus Parasect.”
“I’d like to see that,” Maylin said.
“Say yes,” Sam urged Ed.
“Okay,” Ed said, dropping through the bars. Ally did the same and the four of them retreated from the playground, finding a nice large space among the trees.
“Sparks!” Ally said, releasing her Voltorb from his Poke Ball. Further away, Ed did the same, and Parasect stood opposite of the electric-type.
“This’ll be good,” Sam said to Maylin, both taking a seat on the grass.
Ally went first. “Sparks, Sonic Boom!”
The Voltorb’s eyes narrowed and a whistling blade of wind was sent across the grass, running into Parasect, who did not move to dodge. The grass-type’s oddly shaped body stood motionless in the face of the assault, the attack not affecting him in the slightest. After a moment, Parasect blinked and, as if he had zoned out, seemed to stand straighter.
“Good job, Parasect!” Ed said. “Use Slash!”
One of the bug-type’s claws glowed white, but as soon as the Pokemon stepped forward, the Voltorb rolled out of his way. No matter how many times Parasect tried, Sparks would roll out of his reach. It became almost like a game, the electric-type finding it fun to give the Parasect hope before crushing it with his speed.
“Sparks, Charge! Get ready!”
A yellow glow surrounded the Voltorb, the electric-type pausing to suck up the electrical energy around him. As this was going on, Parasect came closer, but just before he could cut Sparks open, the Voltorb had already finished charging and sped away.
Ed frowned, but it only took a quick look around to make a decision. “Spore!”
Pale blue dots appeared on Parasect’s orange surface, growing bigger and bigger.
“Be careful,” Ally warned her Pokemon. “Stay away from it.”
Once the spores were in full bloom, Parasect tried to go closer to Sparks, but the Voltorb, heeding his trainer’s words, didn’t even let the bug-type get close.
“Let it go!”
Ally felt a hint of surprise, staring at as the grass-type let the spore go, the blue dots landing harmlessly in the grass around it. She didn’t let that stop her, however.
Having been charged, the electrical energy surrounding Sparks was much larger than normal. The Voltorb sped around the grass, its speed kicking up bits of dirt and dust. Parasect raised his claw and the electric-type rushed into the opening, bashing him in between his eyes. The claw descended like a guillotine, digging into the Voltorb’s head as the Pokemon released the electricity. A trickle of blood accompanied the movement, but Parasect was forced to back off, legs twitching over the electrical current.
“Are you alright?” Ally asked, looking at the bloody mark. When Sparks didn’t give any sign of giving in, she said, “Then use Charge Beam!”
The attack did not require any waiting and it was immediate, the electric-type sending a blast of electricity towards Parasect. Surprisingly, it missed, but not because of the bug-type’s doing. The beam was sent upwards, into the trees, making leaves and bits of branches rain down.
“Whoa!” Maylin said, getting on her feet, while Sam covered her head with her hands.
“Sparks…” Ally looked at her Pokemon, wondering why the attack missed. The harder she looked, the more obvious the answer got. Blue dots stood out on the white part of his body and the Voltorb wobbled, looking very off-balance. She had hardly given a thought at Ed letting his Spore go, but now that she thought about it, Parasect didn’t need to make a direct assault. Sparks’ rolling movements combined with the sleeping powdered ground meant her Pokemon got a face full of Spore.
Her Voltorb twitched, rolling forward, trying to get back his balance.
Ally took a breath. Sparks’ wasn’t asleep yet; she could still win.
“Screech!” she said.
A high-pitched whine erupted out of the spherical Pokemon, making everyone jump back in surprise. Parasect backed away, mist-filled eyes focused on the electrical-type in case of another attack. None came forward, however, as the Voltorb got its bearings, getting up straight.
Eying the still bloody wound, Ally took a risk. “Charge!”
“Don’t let it! Leech Life!” Ed said.
Parasect’s claw lost color, turning translucent as the Voltorb gathered energy. As fast as he possibly could (which wasn’t much), the bug-type ran forward on his tiny little legs and outstretched claw.
Just before the Voltorb could discharge, Parasect slammed his claw into the already festering wound. Sparks froze, letting out an odd mechanical sound. After a moment, just when it looked like the electric-type had fainted with open eyes, the Pokemon began to glow.
Ally watched, walking a bit closer to see what was going on, but then her eyes widened as her hand went to her mouth and she went to her belt. “Sparks, no!”
Ed was able to get out a “What?” before Sparks self-destructed.
The burst of noise had Ally on the ground, holding her ears and the light scorched her eye lids. Despite any fear she might have, as soon as the light died down, she was on her feet.
The attack had pushed Parasect back and he was sitting on the ground, motionless. Her friends were also on the grass, Sam and Maylin shaking while Ed was getting back up. At least they didn’t fare as bad as Sparks. Around him was blackened grass, a couple of them having small tips of fire on the ends of them. Her Voltorb’s eyes were closed and the wound over his eye had turned black like the grass.
She knelt down beside him, his round surface being uncomfortably warm under her hands. “Oh…” she said, feeling tears welling up in her eyes. “Sparks…”
“D- Did it explode?” Maylin asked, staying quite a distance away from the trainer and her electric-type.
“You should return him,” Ed said, not seeing anything to be afraid of as he came right up close. “Voltorb self-destruct all the time! He’s going to be okay.”
“I hope so.” Ally sniffed, returning the Pokemon. She got back up, wiping the dead grass off her pants.
Seeing the Pokemon gone, Sam came over. “D- Do you think we’ll be in trouble?” she said, looking at the burnt grass.
“I- I don’t know,” Ally said. She looked at the sky. What time was it? Finally, she said,
“Mum must be angry…. I can’t leave tomorrow with her being mad at me.” She turned to Ed, offering him her Voltorb’s Poke Ball. “C- Can you take Sparks to the Pokemon Center? I really need to go home.”
Ed took the Poke Ball, balancing it carefully in his hands. “Okay.” Seeing Ally’s nervous face, he added, “I’ll take good care of him, he’ll recover by tomorrow for sure!”
“A- Alright.” Ally took one last look at her friends. “So, I’ll-”
“Wait!” Sam said, stepping forward. “We have school tomorrow, so we won’t be able to see you off!”
Looking at Sam, Maylin suggested, “We can skip.”
The other girl shook her head. “My dad’s been watching me since the school phoned him about the last time I skipped. I don’t want to get grounded.” She looked up. “What time are you leaving?”
“Eight,” Ed said, the gloomy tone in his voice making Sam nod sympathetically.
“I guess we can’t see you later, then,” Maylin said, going up to Ally and hugging her. Ally was startled for a moment, but then she hugged back.
“I’ll miss you,” she said.
Joining the hug, Sam wrapped her arms around the other two girls. “Group hug!”
Ed watched from the sidelines, looking anywhere but there.
“Come on!” Sam said, urging the boy. “You’re our friend, too.” She smirked. “Besides, you’ll never get another chance like this.”
At those words, Ed joined the hug, feeling awkward. Luckily, it didn’t last long.
“Find us as soon as you get back to Cerulean,” Maylin instructed Ally.
Sam also gave such instructions. “Remember, if you see a legendary, don’t run. Face it, and I bet it’ll be impressed enough to be your friend.”
The girl smiled. “Alright.”
“See you tomorrow,” Ed said and the other two girls voiced their goodbyes as Ally jogged off.
Ally walked home, her cheeks pink from the cold. Amber walked at her feet, giving her company and protection for the evening walk. She saw her house at the end of the street, the front porch light beckoning her from the darkness. Walking up the front steps, she stopped when she realized that she didn’t have her key with her.
She intended to sneak upstairs to her room, but it didn’t look like that was possible anymore. As if waiting for the key to magically appear in her pocket, she stood outside the door for a few more minutes.
Finally, she knocked.
“Vul?” Amber asked, peering up at her. Smiling, Ally was glad to get distracted from events, as she knelt down and patted him. After a while, she looked up.
No one had answered the door.
Frowning, she got back to her feet and rang the doorbell. Still, no one answered.
“Mum?” Ally asked the closed door. She went to the porch railing and leaned over it, looking into the living room window. It was pitch black inside, not a light to be found.
“Is she not… home?” she asked, hardly being able to believe it. Her mother sometimes went out in the evening, but that really rare! She always did her shopping after work and once she was home, she was home. The garage was closed, so Ally couldn’t tell whether the car was still there, but the living room light was always on!
She wasn’t out for more than half-an-hour… Why did her mother leave?
… How was she going to get inside?
Ally went off the porch and jogged to the gate at the side of the house. She unlatched it and entered the backyard, trying the sliding glass door. It was locked too.
The evening was getting darker by the minute and she was locked out of her own house. Again.
She could wait for her mother, but she didn’t know how long it would take. She was cold without her jacket and didn’t think she could stand being outside for much longer.
“Maybe the windows?” she asked Amber.
Unfortunately, all the windows were closed and locked, and the second story windows were too high to check.
Ally shivered as she sat down on the porch, her breath coming out misty and visible. Amber climbed onto her lap and the girl wove her hands in the Vulpix’s fur, feeling the warmth.
They stayed like that for who knows how long, but Ally hardly remembered any of it, snapping out of her frozen state when her mother’s car turned into the driveway, headlights flashing.
“W- Where were you?” Ally asked, her mother walking past her with a grocery bag in hand.
Her mother unlocked the door and the girl got up, Amber in hand, and followed inside behind her.
“I went out,” her mother replied. “Forgot stuff.”
“Why didn’t you leave the back door unlocked?” Ally asked, the sudden warmth making her wide awake. “I couldn’t get in.”
Her mother snorted. “And let thieves get in? That’s stupid.”
A sudden rush of anger hit Ally. Her mother never thought of her. Why couldn’t she have a nice mum like everyone else had?
“You’re stupid,” Ally said, before she could stop herself. Then, she stood there, shocked, and her face turned stark white.
“… Excuse me?” her mother turned to look at her with an unreadable expression.
Ally arms tightened around Amber, and she felt the Vulpix starting to growl.
They stood there in silence until Ally bolted, jumping past her mother and racing up the stairs. She slammed her bed room door and then leaned against it, listening closely. She didn’t hear the thundering of footsteps after her, but she did hear her mother enter the kitchen and the TV turning on.
Slowly, feeling like her heart was about to burst, she let go of the door and retreated to her bed, laying down on it with Amber curled against her chest.
After a while, she started to cry.
“Do you have everything?” Ally asked, sitting on Ed’s bed.
“Yeah,” Ed said, stuffing the last piece of clothing in his backpack and then zipping it up. “All done!”
With Ed’s things now off the floor and furniture, the room looked empty and bare, at odds with every other time the girl had seen it. It made her feel sad; she really was leaving Cerulean, wasn’t she? It was hard enough to leave home the first time, and she hoped the second would be easier. With her friends out of the way, all she had to do was walk out into the morning sunshine.
The girl looked over.
“Um, maybe you should call your mom,” Ed said, looking away. “To tell her you’re leaving and stuff.”
Ally adjusted the straps on her bag. “She knows I’m leaving. She wouldn’t want me to call her…”
Earlier, when Ally woke up, she had discovered that her mother left for work surprisingly early and didn’t say goodbye. The night before, she and her mother didn’t speak to each other after the argument, which meant she was leaving on bad terms. She hated that, but by calling, she knew that the situation would only get worse. Her mother was always busy; she wouldn’t want to be bothered.
Ed still looked awkward. “Okay… Maybe you can text her?”
“I don’t have a cell phone.”
“Leah’s going to see us off,” he said. “You can get hers.”
The girl nodded slowly. “I guess.”
Ed closed the door behind them and the two descended the stairs together. The lobby was empty, as usual for the morning, though they saw other trainers like themselves that were getting ready to leave.
“Oh!” Ed turned to her. “Did you get Sparks yet?”
Ally gasped. “I didn’t!” She hurried over to the front desk. “I almost forgot him!”
After thanking the nurse several times once she handed the electric-type’s Poke Ball over, Ally took a deep breath, clipped the ball to her belt, and exited the Pokemon Center.
The morning was very cold, contrasting the shining sun that beamed down at them.
Leah was waiting on a bench outside the Pokemon Center, sitting with her hands clasped in front of her. Her Drowzee sat beside her, shivering at the early morning chill.
“Hi,” Ed greeted as they stood before her.
“What took you?” Leah grumbled. “It’s cold.”
“Then why didn’t you wait inside?”
“I’ve had enough of inside,” she said.
“I- I hope you get home okay,” Ally said. “How are you going to get home?”
Leah sighed. “I’ll figure it out.” She looked at them. “You’re leaving, then?”
“How are you getting to Lavender?”
“We’re taking Route Nine to Rock Tunnel,” Ed said, sounding proud at his research. “It’s going to take a while, but there’s lot of Pokemon there.”
“Are you going to catch any?”
“There are ground and fighting-type Pokemon in Rock Tunnel,” Ally said. “They would be good Pokemon.”
“Right,” Leah said, and then added, “There’s Golbat in Rock Tunnel, watch out for them.”
Ed grinned. “Sparks can electrocute them if they get close.”
“And if that wakes up all the other Golbat and Zubat?”
The display of Ed’s planning ahead made Leah smile briefly. “You researched Golbat, then?”
“We know what they can do,” Ally said. “T- They’re fast, but we just need to use bright light and cover our ears.”
Now Leah looked amused. “They’re five feet tall, you know.”
“… No, they’re not,” Ed said, frowning.
“Yes, they are.”
“No, they aren’t.”
“Haven’t you ever watched the Documentary Channel?”
Ed frowned further. “You always try to scare us, but Golbat are bats!”
“And Arcanine are dogs. Your point?”
“A- Are they really that big?” Ally asked, gulping.
“Ask anyone older than you,” Leah said, waving the argument off. “They’ll agree with me.”
While Ed was deep in though, Ally asked, “Can I borrow your phone?”
Leah looked at her. “You can’t take it with you.”
“I need to make a call.”
“… Only if you do me a favor,” the older girl said, going into her pockets. She cursed when she came out with nothing. “Stay here, I’ll be right back.”
As Leah disappeared into the Poke Center, leaving her Drowzee on the bench, Ed said, “What does she want?”
Ally looked uncertain. “I don’t know.”
Leah came out five minutes later with two items in hand. One was her cell phone and the other was a maroon colored rock, looking like it was covered in dry skin.
“W- What is that?” Ally asked, forcing herself to look away from the stone.
“You don’t need to touch it,” Leah said, putting the rock on the cement path a few feet away. “I just need you to burn it until the blood comes off.”
“Why is there blood on it?”
Leah looked at Ed. “Because,” she said, saying nothing further. Then, she said to Ally, “Send out Amber, then you can borrow my phone.”
Keeping her eyes away from the stone, Ally said, “A- Alright…”
With white light, the Vulpix appeared, his four tails waving behind him.
“Amber,” the girl said. “Use Ember on the rock.”
Amber mirrored his trainer, keeping a distance from the blood-covered object, and released a burst of flame. The fireball swallowed the rock and crackled merrily, burning and sizzling.
They watched the stone burn.
“… How are you going to put it out?” Ed asked.
Walking up to it, Leah leaned over the fire, peering into it. “No clue,” she said, not looking in his direction. “Give it a few more minutes.”
“C- Can I have your phone?” Ally asked.
Leah reached into her pocket and held the phone out, making Ally come up and get it. The girl backed away right after and only when she was with Ed did she open it.
Looking towards Ed, Ally asked, “What should I say to her?”
“I dunno.” He shrugged. “That you… love her and will be home soon?”
Hesitantly, Ally’s fingers jumped over the dialing pad, pressing in certain digits. She frowned. “This is hard. I keep pressing the wrong one.”
“Want me to?”
She shook her head. “I’ll do it.”
After a few more beeps, Ally showed the phone to Ed. “W- Will this work?”
“You don’t have to type in full sentences.”
“I want to.”
“Hold on,” Leah said from the fire. “Who are you texting?”
Ally looked away. “M- My mum.”
“You’re texting your mother?” Leah snorted. “Oh, won’t she be impressed with that.”
“I don’t want to bother her,” Ally explained.
“And I don’t want to imagine what my grandmother would say if I texted her. Just speak to her; it won’t kill you.”
Ally repeated, “I don’t want to bother her.”
The older girl looked at her. “… Then hurry up and send it. I want my phone back.”
The text message was sent and Ally handed the phone to Leah, who put it in her pocket.
“Why is the fire going away on its own?” Ally asked, finally looking at the rock.
“Because it’s being absorbed.” Leah smiled. “Finally.”
The fire was dying down as they spoke, the remaining embers licking the pavement before disappearing. In its ashes was the Fire Stone, looking bright and shiny as the day Leah found it. Any traces of blood had vanished, but Leah didn’t try picking it up, only watching it.
Ed came up to them. “Why was the Fire Stone like that?”
“It had an accident.”
After that small piece of information, the three of them stood around, not looking at each other. From the bench, Zee yawned, reminding Ally at what Leah said when she first caught the Pokemon.
Since Leah wasn’t bringing up the Drowzee’s circumstances and hadn’t since that day, Ally did the same, turning away from the psychic-type.
“… We should go,” Ally said, tucking a strand of black hair behind her ear.
“Yeah.” Ed yawned.
“Well,” Leah said, standing straight. “Bye, then.”
Leah looked like she was struggling with something and finally said, “Good luck. Get the rest of your badges and… be careful.” She glared at them. “Okay, go.”
The older girl shooed the two kids away and watched them depart until she could no longer see their backs.
She stayed outside in the morning cold for a little while longer. Before she went inside, she picked up her Fire Stone, which was nearly hot to the touch. She slid the rock into her pocket and then headed for the recovery ward.
Sands was waiting.
A/N: Okay, looks like there will be one more chapter for the Cerulean Arc, and then we’ll be done.
And sorry for not updating for four weeks. Procrastination paid writer’s block to ambush me and I only escaped their evil grasp a few days ago. To give you guys happy news, I’m going to start updating once a week again since it’s summer and I shouldn’t just be sitting around doing nothing. If I don’t update once a week, feel free to drop kick me in a PM and that’ll get me going, for sure.
June 25th, 2010 (9:59 PM).
Oh, I will. >:3
Anyways, I couldn't find any mistakes for this chapter. Although it's saddening that Leah is leaving Ally and Ed. I'm gonna miss them being together for a while. The trio of mental growth is breaking up.
June 26th, 2010 (10:10 AM).
Well, we appear to be nearing the end. No complaints on this chapter, though I am certainly eyeing that Fire Stone suspiciously. Well... I don't know if there's going to be a climatic arc or next chapter is the last, but congratulations on writing a great story anyway. :3
June 26th, 2010 (10:40 AM).
Thanks for reviewing, you two. Next chapter should be out next Friday, which reminds me that I better go work on it, before procrastination spots me. *zooms off*
June 26th, 2010 (10:58 AM).
Jeezus, woman! You've got 91 chapters planned for this thing?
Yeah, you should probably put it into a sequel... just as long as it doesn't succumb to sequelitis, then it'll be fine.
July 2nd, 2010 (8:25 PM).
Oh, look, more Mentor! Meant to read it earlier than this but I got swamped.
Things are certainly getting interesting now that this arc is winding down, heh. I had a feeling Leah would end up keeping Zee, and I'm glad to see that she's starting to cave in a little bit.
As for splitting it up... well, whatever you feel is best. (Also, I noticed that your chapter count keeps steadily increasing every time you bring it up... first it was ~76, then ~84, now 91! Quite ambitious, but I don't doubt for a second that you can do it.) Since you're roughly halfway now and this is closing the "mentor" chapter and starting a new one, a sequel wouldn't be a terrible idea; it does feel a little odd at the same time, though, starting off reading a fanfic while under the impression that it'd be one story and then suddenly finding out that it might become two! Technically, that means that Mentor is almost done! Maybe if it's wigging you out even more than me and you want to keep it as a cohesive whole you could just change the title, though that'd probably be a little difficult, too. Well, regardless of what you decide, I'm looking forward to the rest (in this story or in a sequel)
a.k.a. Phoenixsong, a.k.a. Phoenixkratos, a.k.a. that nerd with too many fakemon
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July 4th, 2010 (11:18 AM).
Heh, my chapter count changes a lot, I admit. Though, I had to add like four chapters after I figured out that Ed and Ally would have to battle Misty again later.
Also, I’ve decided that I won’t be splitting Mentor into two parts. While the title may not be that accurate as the story goes on, it would be too much of a bother to make another thread. Though, in celebration for finishing part one of Mentor, I’ll be changing my signature banner into something more appropriate for part two (the new banner is shiny, I have to say~).
Also, I apologize for not updating on Friday, but the chapter wasn’t done and it still needs fine-tuning. Stupid thing is trying to drag the story in a direction that I don’t like. -.-
Thanks for reviewing!
July 10th, 2010 (10:48 AM).
Chapter 45: Bitter
It had only been a couple of days, Leah thought, and it already felt like a lifetime. It was surprising how much the kids’ absence left a hole in her life… She wasn’t missing them, but she kept catching herself wondering if and when they were going to bug her. Now that they were gone, she only had Sands to concentrate on, and to a lesser extent, Zee. She didn’t know anyone else, so all her time was either spent with Sands on his bedside, or with Zee, doing whatever came to mind.
It was strange to realize that if the Scyther Incident hadn’t happened, she would be back in Pallet Town. But here she was, still in Cerulean, alone. There was no point in calling her grandmother; Sands was still recovering, but that wouldn’t last much longer. Not too long at all. He was getting better quickly and would be released today, though the doctor advised her to keep Sands off his injured foot.
That afternoon, as she was going to go visit Sands, the television caught her attention. Or rather, the people around it. It wasn’t abnormal for people to be watching TV, but not that many.
A change in her daily routine wasn’t needed but Leah was curious and wandered over. Standing between a long-haired girl and some kid, she saw a news reporter talking, but the chatter of the lobby was too loud for her to really hear.
She turned to the long-haired girl. “What’s going on?”
“They found a dead Scyther,” the girl said, voice soft and barely louder than the TV.
Then, the image on the television changed to show a familiar setting, a path of broken branches leading to a clearing. The body had been cleared up and all that was left was red and strange green stains on the grass.
“After a young trainer found and reported the body yesterday evening, the police have been searching the scene, trying to discover clues on what had caused this strange incident-”
Leah averted her eyes, face turning white.
“This happened near Cerulean?” someone asked. “Seriously?”
One of the other kids said, “T- This happened on a path to Pewter, right? Did a Pokemon do this, ‘cause I’m going to Pewter in a few days-”
“What is a Scyther doing here?”
“Better yet, what could kill a Scyther?”
“Maybe something got out from the Unknown Dungeon?”
Mutters and whispers broke out from that response, and Leah turned tail and left, knowing that the theory was false.
It had not once crossed her mind that the police would find the Scyther. She thought the whole incident would disappear. Did this mean the police would be after her now? She guessed not since she killed the Scyther in self-defense, but she didn’t want to be involved at all. Maybe she could have killed the Pokemon in a better way, but it’s not like she carried a knife with her (something she may need to change). Either way, she tried not to think of killing the Scyther most of the time. It made her very uncomfortable and remembering the blood on her hands didn’t help. She had enough bad memories; she wanted to put them to rest, not bring them all back up.
Back to the police, Leah didn’t think she could stick around Cerulean for much longer. She didn’t do anything wrong, but the police might think differently. She didn’t know how, but anything was possible. Didn’t the police have CSI-type guys? She’d be caught eventually.
Sands was to be released that day, so there was no more time to be wasted. She’d call her grandmother to pick her up, get Sands, and be on her way out.
“Pick up,” Leah said, tightening her grip on the phone as it rang.
How could she be so stupid? Of course her grandmother never answered when she needed her. It was a fact of life.
When Leah got her grandmother’s answering machine for the second time, she hung up, defeated. She had tried her house, got no answer, but that wasn’t much of a surprise. Then, she tried her grandmother’s cell phone, but that was a wasted attempt as her grandmother never turned it on.
Now what was she supposed to do? She had to get out of Cerulean and her ride wouldn’t pick up.
… There was no need to panic. She would try again later, after she picked up Sands.
Sands didn’t seem to like her plan either.
“How am I supposed to feed these to him?” Leah asked, looking at the pill bottle then at the growling Sandslash.
The doctor said, “You have a Drowzee, correct? Hypnotism would be the best way to go.”
“I guess.” Leah put the bottle in her jacket pocket and then turned to the Sandslash. “Time to go,” she told it.
Leah walked backwards for a few steps, bent over and then patted her leg, trying to bait the ground-type. “Come on.”
With another deep throated growl, the Sandslash hobbled forward, its large claws tapping against the solid flooring. Its un-evolved foot made it limp, but didn’t stop it from walking.
Once the Sandslash was close enough, Leah took the Poke Ball hidden behind her back and returned the ground-type. Now that she had seen her Pokemon walk, even not very well, put some of her fears to rest.
“… Thanks,” she told the doctor and left the recovery ward for the final time.
After trying to call her grandmother again (she didn’t pick up), Leah went to the park, where she released both her Pokemon.
“Alright,” she said, sitting down on a bench. Her Sandslash looked around, ears pressed against its head, and its body crouched down. Zee noticed the ground-type’s behavior and reacted appropriately, staying near Leah and having both of her hands free.
“Sands, I have something for you.” Leah was disappointed when the Sandslash didn’t react to the name, but hid it. She took out the Fire Stone from her pocket and held it between her and the ground-type. “Remember this?”
The Sandslash looked at it and it was only good reflexes that Leah pulled her hand back, just as two large white claws slashed the air. At the threatening movement, Zee raised her hand and shoved the Sandslash back with her mental powers, keeping another hand on Leah’s pant leg.
Growling, the ground type shook his head, the spikes on his back being raised up in defense.
Leah frowned, a bit pale. Those claws were sharp; they could have taken off her hand if she wasn’t quicker…
“This isn’t yours right now,” she said to the Sandslash, holding up the Fire Stone. “You’re going to have to earn this if you want it back.”
Really, she wanted to give the Fire Stone to Sands, but he needed some kind of award for good behavior and she didn’t think that Poke-Treats would be enough. She didn’t care how long it took, but she was going to re-train Sands. No ifs, ands, or buts.
The trainer turned to her Drowzee. “Zee, you’re going to have to help me train Sands. He needs a partner to battle with.”
Zee nodded, arm still extended.
“So, Sands?” Leah smirked, wiggling the Fire Stone. “If you want this back, you have to beat Zee, one-on-one.” She looked at the two Pokemon. “… What are you waiting for? Get to it.”
Leah watched them go at it, her breath coming out as a faint mist. Any training that she had once given Sands was no longer apparent. All the Sandslash did was try to hit Zee with its claws, not once trying a Poison Sting or Swift. If a stranger was watching, they’d say that Sands was obviously a wild Pokemon or one that was newly captured. No trained Pokemon would fight so… directly.
On the other hand, Zee was doing pretty well. She deflected the Sandslash’s claws without being touched, her body shrouded in a blue aura. The Drowzee’s concentration didn’t waver, no matter how repetitive the ground-type’s attacks got.
“Sands, use Poison Sting,” Leah called out for the fifth time.
Like it didn’t hear her, the Sandslash continued its assaults. Keeping his disabled paw close to him, he swiped at Zee, only for his claws to be pushed back.
The Pokemon growled, ears flattening.
Leah sighed. “You could do better with Poison Sting. Swift would be nice, too. Come on, you can do it. Think!”
Her words made the ground-type growl louder and it abandoned its attempts at Zee and limped over to her.
Not moving, Leah met his glare head on. She always thought Ally had it bad because of her disobedient Voltorb, but did the girl really have to put up with this everyday?
When the Sandslash took a step too close, it suddenly found itself unable to and was dragged back by an unseen force. His claws scraped across the ground and he hunched over, poised to leap. Leah, not exactly trusting a psychic-type who had been battling for half-an-hour straight, stood up and got out of the way, standing behind Zee.
This was going nowhere. She didn’t think that Sands would be cured fast, but it was depressing to see him in such a state. Sands was never the best battler, but at least he was decent, unlike the angry Pokemon she was watching.
Maybe she was going about this the wrong way. Here she was doing what Ally did, trying to bully her Pokemon into listening to her. While that did work for the girl, it took four months to get results and there was no way she was waiting that long.
Actually, why was she using battling to retrain Sands? Why was she so focused on battling and training? She and Ally had different goals. Ally wanted her Voltorb to listen to her for battles. She, on the other hand, wanted the old Sands back. He didn’t need to battle. Leah just wanted him to be friendly, cute and maybe Fire Stone-crazy (it was hard not to think of Sands without thinking of the Fire Stone).
Sands was acting like a wild Pokemon, independent and with no foresight to his attacks. He didn’t like Leah or anyone. The trick was forcing the Sandslash to rely on her, to trust her, and she had an idea how.
Back before her journey began (both of them), she had a friend who’s house she would visit often. That friend had a pet cat that hated everyone. It was big and fluffy and Leah remembered always wanting to hug and pet it, but the cat always hid where she couldn’t get it. Later, when she went over to the friend’s house, she found the cat waiting for her on a chair, letting her pet it and rub its belly. The friend explained that the cat had been sick and forced to stay in a cage for a couple of weeks, making it rely on the friend’s family to survive.
Leah didn’t have a cage but she did have a bottle of pills that the Sandslash needed to ward off infection. She wouldn’t bother with hypnotism. Maybe a mild Disable to protect against his claws, but Sands was just going to have to deal with her man-handling. Once he was used to her, the road to friendship would be easy.
“Alright Sands,” Leah said, smiling, taking no notice of his behavior. “Good effort today.”
“Slash!” the Pokemon growled.
“Stop growling,” she told it. “You do that too much.”
She returned the Sandslash to its Poke Ball and then looked down at her Drowzee.
“This isn’t working,” she said, “but thanks for helping.”
The next day bloomed with a cloudy sky and Leah yawned as she made her way down for breakfast. Zee wasn’t with her for once as the psychic-type had problems with stairs, but Leah would make to release her right after she ate.
As she came into the lobby, an odd sight greeted her. Everything looked normal, but you couldn’t miss the blue-uniformed cops talking with the nurse at the front desk. They looked serious and Leah saw they had two Poke Balls on their belts.
She passed them without any trouble, but her ears caught part of their conversation.
“We have lots of trainers like that,” the nurse was saying. “The trainer probably has left by now.”
“We know, madam,” said one of the cops with impatience in his voice. “But we need to be sure.”
The other one said, “Has any Pokemon come in the last week with slash wounds?”
Leah felt herself pale and she turned her head away from the scene, trying to hide it. She proceeded to the cafeteria and got some food, sitting down at an empty table.
She really wasn’t expecting to see the police here and she knew they were asking questions related to the Scyther Incident. Her Sandslash had bloody slashing wounds and so did her and Zee. It wouldn’t be long before the police found her. Luckily, Pokemon got injured all the time and she was sure that Sands wasn’t the only one that had a bad encounter with a bladed Pokemon.
Her grandmother wasn’t answering her cell phone (still!) and she doubted that it would happen anytime soon. It happened sometimes, where her grandmother was really busy with battles or conferences. After all, she was part of the Elite Four, one of the most powerful trainers in Kanto. Not only that, but she had been there the longest, for twenty-one years. That was certainly a record. Her grandmother was probably one of the most experienced trainers in the world, not only on ghost-types, but most Pokemon.
Leah wondered what her grandmother would think if she turned on the TV and found Leah linked to a dead Scyther. That would be… embarrassing. She hadn’t yet gotten around to telling her grandmother about the Scyther, Sands evolution, or all that stuff.
Now that she thought about it, what if her grandmother was dragged into the Scyther Incident? Leah was Agatha’s granddaughter and it wasn’t too hard to figure out that they were related, if you knew where to look. They didn’t have the same last name (most gym leaders and high ranking trainers went either by their first names only or got a stage name), but Agatha’s Wikipedia page easily gave out her real last name. And being the only Gordon in Pallet Town, Leah could admit it was obvious.
The news seemed to have a hard-on for celebrities and being related to one wouldn’t help matters.
Maybe she was being paranoid and making a big deal about nothing, but she didn’t want to be involved in this. She would have left yesterday if her grandmother answered the phone, but obviously she would have to come up with some sort of plan. If she didn’t want to talk to the police, she had to leave the Pokemon Center. Maybe she could camp out near Cerulean, but…
‘What if another Scyther appears?’ Leah thought, feeling stupid just by thinking it. It wasn’t going to happen; she didn’t think Blue had another Scyther since they were rare, but what if?
The only fear she had ever had before was a fear of storms, but this fear wasn’t like that. A fear of storms could be taken care of (never go out when it’s cloudy, always have a blanket and a loud TV handy for when one happened…), but this fear was more general, a fear of getting attacked and not being able to do anything.
It was silly since she was able to do something back then, and if she was able to beat a Scyther, then nothing could really stop her.
Leah sighed, and then paled when someone coughed behind her. She turned, expecting to see policemen and handcuffs, but saw a girl instead.
She looked familiar and Leah vaguely recalled seeing her yesterday.
“What?” Leah said.
“Can I sit here?” she asked and Leah noticed the plate of food in her hands.
Leah studied the girl who sat across from her. She had long brown hair, brown eyes, and looked utterly average. She didn’t seem to have any Pokemon with her, which was odd considering that most trainers carried them around. Leah herself wasn’t a trainer and she wouldn’t dream of leaving Sands or Zee behind in her room.
They ate together in silence, the girl not making any move to strike up a conversation with Leah, which she also felt was weird. When someone tried to eat with her, they always tried to get some talk going.
“Did you see the police?” Leah asked.
“Yes,” the girl said.
“What do you think they’re here for?”
The girl sipped her water. “Don’t you watch the news? They found a dead Scyther almost a week ago. They need to find out what happened.”
“It’s dead,” Leah said. “Does it matter?”
“Of course. It’s a Scyther. Such a rare and powerful Pokemon wouldn’t be defeated easily. Whatever killed it could still be out there.”
“Does it have to be a more powerful Pokemon that killed it? Why couldn’t a few smaller Pokemon gang up on it?”
“Wild Pokemon don’t behave like that,” the girl said. “A trainer would have to be behind them for something such as that to happen.”
“Oh.” Leah hoped she sounded casual. “What would happen to the trainer?”
“What do you mean?”
“If someone killed a Scyther, what would happen to them?”
“It depends on what happened. Scyther are very rare, however. The police would treat this case differently if the Pokemon was more mundane.”
There was an odd tone to the girl’s words and Leah asked, “Do you like Scyther?”
“What gave you that idea?” she asked, staring.
“You sound like you do and Scyther aren’t that rare.”
The girl looked as if she was digesting the information. “They are rarer than you think,” she finally said. “They don’t breed well, preying mantises never do, and their evolution is very sought out.”
“Do you like them?” Leah repeated.
“I like all rare Pokemon,” she said. “I’m a collector of them.”
That was news to Leah. “I thought you were a trainer.”
“I don’t see the point of doing that.”
The girl stood, having finished her food, balancing the tray in one hand as she picked up her bag.
“Are you in a rush?” Leah asked.
“No,” she said, the though looking like it had never occurred to her. “Though I do need to get going.”
Leah turned her head away, looking at her own empty tray. “Alright.”
The girl didn’t reply and when Leah next looked up, she was gone.
Leah sat in the cafeteria for another ten minutes before forcing herself up, wanting to get a move on. The lobby was emptier than last time and the policemen had vanished, taking Leah’s stress with them. She ignored the group by the TV and went back to her room.
She had packed her bag yesterday evening and was ready to leave. Unfortunately, she couldn’t do that. Not until her grandmother picked up her stupid phone.
Releasing Zee onto the bed, Leah sat down and took out the bottle of pills that the doctor gave her. They were small and white, the label on the bottle telling her nothing of interest.
She uncapped the lid and turned to Zee. “Mild Disable,” she told her. “I don’t want him to move that much, but no Hypnosis, alright?”
Zee nodded. Taking a deep breath, Leah released her Sandslash in the biggest open space in her room. And even then, the ground-type had little room. Not that he needed it because as soon as he came out, the Drowzee glowed blue, the aura mirroring the one that appeared around the Sandslash.
The ground-type tried to move, but was frozen stuff. Leah could hear it growling, though, deep in the back of its throat.
Leah shook the bottle over her hand and put any extra pills back, keeping only two. She raised the Sandslash’s head with her hand and then paused, wondering what she should do next. Hesitantly, she used her fingers and thumb to open the Pokemon’s mouth as much as she was able, getting a good look at his sharp teeth. Saliva dripped on her hand, but Leah didn’t look at it, bringing her other hand in and forcing a pill into the tiny opening her hand made.
She was about to give him the second pill when the Sandslash made a choking noise, his eyes going wide.
“Drop it!” Leah snapped at Zee and the blue glow faded.
The Sandslash leaned over and coughed the pill onto the carpet, the spikes on his back standing up straight.
Trusting the warning bells going off in her head, Leah brought her legs on to the bed as the Pokemon lashed out with his one good paw, slashing the mattress.
The ground-type backed up from the Drowzee, bumping into the wall. A blue glow overtook the Pokemon’s eyes as the psychic-type forced the Sandslash into the realm of dreams. With hardly a sound, the Pokemon collapsed.
“… Well, that was a bad idea,” Leah said when she finally started to breathe normally, making a mental note to never try something like that in her room again. She leaned over, looking at the long slash mark that the Sandslash made on the mattress, glad that the mark didn’t get on her legs instead.
“Keep him sleeping,” Leah advised the Drowzee, getting up. “I’ll be right back. I need to look up pill-feeding on Google.”
Zee didn’t need to know why Leah was leaving, but the girl felt it was better off telling her. The Pokemon may not know what Google was, but she was still smart. Maybe if the Drowzee kept up good progress and Leah was bored, she would teach the psychic-type how to use the internet.
As she was making her way back to her room after getting stuff from the internet, she spied the television again. People were still watching it and she didn’t think any of them had moved an inch since the last time she saw them.
Leah was about to turn away when she spotted the girl from the cafeteria, watching the TV with her arms folded, an odd look of her face. Curiosity reared its head and Leah walked over.
“Is it the Scyther again?” Leah asked the girl.
The girl didn’t even glance over. “No.”
“Be quiet!” someone shushed.
Leah was going to give the guy a piece of her mind, but looked to the television instead, wondering what had everyone so focused.
A reporter was holding a microphone to a middle-age man. “What do you think of this proposal?” she asked.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he replied. “Kids are always getting killed and no one’s done anything about it. I’m glad that’s changing.”
“What an idiot,” someone muttered, and there were voices of agreements.
On TV, an elderly woman was asked the same question.
“I’ve had three children go into training,” she said, looking sad. “They all left at age ten, but only two came back. Children just aren’t suited for the road and I hope no one else has to go through what I had.”
Another man appeared on the screen.
“Do you think this proposal should go through?”
“No,” he said, shaking his head. “It’s stupid. These things happen, you know? Are you going to ban cars because kids die in those too?”
“Training isn’t just having fun,” a woman said with the microphone to her mouth. “It teaches people to survive and make decisions. Trainers are the most mature and smart people I have ever met. I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t a trainer myself.”
Leah stared at the screen, confused, having no clue what was going on… However, her mind started to put pieces of the facts together.
They had to be joking…
The picture on the TV changed to show a tall blond woman, Jade Rouge, shaking hands with Lance. “Today, Jade Rouge met with the Elite Four to discuss her proposal to raise the age limit on Pokemon training. After the death of her young brother, twelve-year-old Ryan, Rouge has spent much of her time rallying to raise the age limit of Pokemon training. For decades, ten has been the starting age of Pokemon trainers, but if Rouge’s proposal goes through, the age could go as high as fifteen. This shocking proposal threatens to turn the world of training upside down and reactions are mixed.”
“They’re… raising the starting age for Pokemon training?” Leah asked, doing her best to stop gaping. “Since when?”
“It started last week,” a trainer told her.
The television moved on to some other newsworthy story as the group around Leah turned away from it.
“Is it just me,” an older girl said, “or is this getting a bit serious?”
Another person waved it off. “Nah, this isn’t the first time they tried to raise the age limit. It’ll die down like it always does.”
“What if it doesn’t? Jade Rogue is pretty famous. She isn’t some middle-aged house wife that doesn’t have any sway.”
“That doesn’t matter! Who other than middle-aged house wives would support her? She’s turning her back on everyone. What trainer would back her?”
There were agreements throughout the group and not one person showed any doubt.
Leah was still in shock. She could hardy begin to think what she thought about this. It had never occurred to her at all. If she ever turned on the news, she would never expect something like this was occurring. Never. Pokemon trainers had always started at age ten, always, always, always. Any older trainers starting out were rare and could never find success like trainers who started young.
Jade Rogue should have known that this would never work. She would find no support anywhere. Trainers would turn their backs, as they were already doing and anyone even remotely connected to Pokemon would turn away. The Pokemon League, who Rogue was appealing to, would have a hard time doing anything themselves. The organization was mostly made up of retired trainers and no matter how old they were, trainers like that never actually quit. They would always carry the traditions and beliefs of trainers still walking.
Leah’s mishap of a journey when she was ten was unfortunate, but she was sure that most trainers looked at the days when they were just starting out with nostalgia and amusement. Everyone would want new trainers to experience that. Ten-year-olds and fifteen-year-olds experienced their journeys differently.
Ed and Ally saw their journey with wonder and excitement and no matter what happened; they were always ready to continue and see new things.
Leah was too old to see a journey like that; she had outgrown stories of adventure, treasure, and love. She had the future in front of her and unlike kids, she couldn’t turn away from that. It would always be there, looming. She couldn’t live in the present like they did.
With trainers, the stories of heroes and dragons never died no matter how old or mature they got. They could still see adventure in every corner and while death could still happen, it almost seemed like a non-issue. Once you enriched your life with Pokemon like that, it could never be taken back.
Ed and Ally always seemed so excited to explore new places that Leah sometimes wished she could see life like that. To see her journey with wonder and excitement… What would that be like?
“Are you that shocked?”
Leah looked over at the girl from the cafeteria.
“… It’s not that,” She said quietly, shaking her head. She looked at the bag by the girl’s feet. “Are you leaving now?”
“Yes,” the girl said, picking of her satchel. “I have quite a journey ahead of me.”
An odd feeling rose in her chest at the word ‘journey’. It was a painful sense of longing, one that Leah hoped would go away.
“Where are you going?”
“Lavender Town. I have business there.”
Leah wanted a lot of things at that moment, for her grandmother to come and get her, for the police to vanish from her life, for Sands to get better… None of those were stronger than the need to go on a journey. It didn’t matter where. She wanted to travel and explore, see things that no one else had. She had nothing back home; no friends or future.
Why didn’t she want to journey in the first place? Why did she want to go and stay home? Were Ed and Ally bad company, did she not like the travelling, were the places she went to boring?
No, it wasn’t that.
She had made up her mind before she had even gone on her second journey. As soon as her first ended, three days after it started, she hated journeying. She had only one experience to go by and she had taken that, using it as to why she didn’t like Pokemon journeys or training.
Could a three day experience taint four months of travelling? It had changed her attitude so drastically, had made her hate trainers, just because she failed when they didn’t. She had hated Pokemon, even her own, somehow blaming them for a storm that they couldn’t control. She remembered when she got her first Pokemon, a Sandshrew, fat and big-eyed as all young ones were. She had named him Sands because she thought it was the cutest and most original name ever.
Three days later, she had hated him, refused to call him by name or even refer to him with a gender. Just because he was as scared as her during the storm and stayed in his Poke Ball because rain was unpleasant to him.
Leah knew she wasn’t the nicest person. She didn’t do polite or generous, especially to Ed and Ally. Why should she? If she didn’t get any help, why should they?
Was her attitude the reason she didn’t like her journey? Was she so set in her ways that no matter what happened, she would never like it? Never let herself like it? Her name, Leah, meant ‘bitter’ or ‘tired’ and that’s what she was, wasn’t she?
Bitter with everything. Tired of everyone.
If she wasn’t like that, if she let herself enjoy being on a journey, would she like it? Honestly like it? Would she see life the same way Ed and Ally did, with an adventure around every corner?
She had never tried and it looked like her realization had come too late.
If she quit now, if her grandmother suddenly teleported into the room to pick her up, she would never go on a journey again. No matter how she felt, the same thought would enter her mind: It’s too late. ‘Too late, too old,’ her mind would say. ‘She should be getting on with life, not looking to the past.’
Pokemon training was already slowing down, faltering. More kids were quitting before their journey had really begun, or didn’t even try, held back by their nervous parents. Training was a fad and it was finally ending. Raising the age limit on training was just the beginning.
An era was at its end.
The question was what she was going to do. Would she quit or try?
Could she have an adventure too?
Leah looked at the girl. “Can I come?” she asked.
“I’m not going to wait for you,” the girl said, frowning. “I’ve wasted enough time.”
Leah said, “My bag’s packed in my room. I just need to go get it.”
The girl stared at her. “… Alright, hurry up and go get it. I won’t wait longer than five minutes.”
Even before the girl’s mouth closed, Leah started to move. She went to her room and grabbed her bag, making sure everything was there. Going back to the lobby, she checked out, and with her two Poke Balls weighing her pocket down, she exited the Pokemon Center with the girl by her side.
“What business do you have in Lavender Town?” the girl asked.
“None,” Leah said, and thinking about it for a moment, added, “I’m exploring.”
“And what is your name?”
“I am Chandelle.”
As Leah looked at the road in front of her, she knew that later, she would regret her decision. She didn’t know what she was doing or even where she wanted to go, but she wanted to try once more. Third time was the charm, right?
Maybe it would be worth it, maybe it wouldn’t.
She wouldn’t know until she tried.
A/N: Turning-point chapter is a turning-point. I hope I was able to make Leah actually willing go on a journey realistic. Until this chapter, I had no clue how I was supposed to make her go so I just took any opportunity that presented itself.
Guys, I like to thank you for sticking with me up to this point. This is the end of part one of the story and the second part will be more plot-driven and action-oriented than the first, which I hope you will enjoy.