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Drowning

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Starlight Aurate, Dec 31, 2013.

  1. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    So, it's been a while, and I really wanted to do something special on December 31st since that was the 1-year mark of Drowning being on the forums, but I was out of the country at that time and I've been fighting writer's block ever since. So, sorry, but I couldn't think of anything special to put. Anyway, here's the latest chapter!

    Chapter 8

    Derek’s thoughts whirred about as he walked along deck, the salty wind whipping his face. He eyed a number of large fiberglass canisters, his mind racing, formulating a plan.

    At least he knew how to get Maressa out of there; the problem would be framing her for her own escape and avoid getting himself into trouble.

    He grimaced as he faced the wind, the slate-grey clouds completely blocking the sky. He hated being out at sea, and, especially on days like this, he longed for a bit of sunlight. And, though he couldn’t feel any rocking from the ship, he would rather have his feet planted on solid ground. Pity stirred inside him as he thought of Claydol, Breloom and Golbat; as unsuited for the ocean as he was, they were even less compatible with it. Except when he sent Golbat out to scout over the waves, the Pokemon remained inside all day, cut off from fresh air but too scared of the ocean to come out.

    A pang of guilt hit him as he remembered that he had yet to tell his Pokemon about his plan to free Maressa. Would his Pokemon support it?

    It doesn’t matter, he told himself. They wouldn’t have to agree with his decision; after all, they were still his closest friends, and he knew they wouldn’t be too angry or label him a traitor for choosing to set Maressa free.

    Sighing, Derek took mental note of the position of the canisters holding the life rafts, and went back inside, making his way to his room. Once there, he let his three Pokemon out of their balls.

    “Listen,” he said, ignoring Breloom’s protests at being woken up from a nap. “I’ve got something to tell you.”

    As he told the Pokemon his intention, they remained silent, not making any objections or appearing even the slightest bit surprised. Breloom looked smug and cheekily asked if Derek had any other ideas for betraying Team Magma.

    “What? No, I’m not turning traitor—” At least not permanently, he noted to himself. “Will you calm down? Anyway, I need to think of a way to get her out of here without any of us getting caught. Do any of you have any ideas?”

    The three Pokemon thought quietly for a moment, but it wasn’t long before Breloom was spouting out ideas. Eventually, Derek had to tell him not to give anymore suggestions, as the most reasonable of the Fighting-type’s ideas involved gun powder, vegetable oil, flour, and glitter.

    “What about you two?” he asked Claydol and Golbat, ignoring Breloom as he sat sulkily in the corner.

    “Dol….” Claydol moaned as Derek felt the Psychic-type connect a telepathic link between the two of them. Over the mental connection, Derek could see Claydol’s visions, feel his every emotion and listen to his every idea. Claydol poured out his mind’s contents, trying to immerse his trainer in his thoughts and convince him to follow his plans. But Derek knew Claydol too well, and had been working with him too long to fall so easily into the depths of his Pokemon’s mind. Eventually, as Claydol’s ideas proved to hardly be saner than Breloom’s, Derek had to pull away, leaving Claydol disappointed.

    “Can you think of anything, Golbat?” he asked hopefully. Though Golbat wasn’t as strong as Breloom, and not as intelligent as Claydol, he had more common sense than either of the two, and his ideas weren’t often as roundabout or convoluted as the others’.

    The bat-like creature ruffled his wings, stretching them out thoughtfully. Through a series of high-pitched “eeks,” he suggested giving a diversion while Derek took Maressa away to escape.

    “What sort of diversion?”

    The Poison-type suggested that, while on watch some night, he could grab a Wingull, bring it inside, and chase it around the interior of the ship. That, he figured, should distract the guards—at least for a little bit.

    Derek thought, and his heart lightened. Wingull were everywhere on the open ocean; it wouldn’t take long for Golbat to chase a small one onto the ship. And besides, wild Pokemon were always making their ways inside bases somehow—it wouldn’t be obvious that Golbat had chased it in on purpose.

    Looking up at Golbat, Derek asked, “Do you really think you could do it?”

    Golbat nodded.

    “Thank you,” Derek said, and a heavy weight seemed to be lifted off of him as he stood up. He held out his arm, and Golbat hopped happily onto it. “Since I don’t want anyone to see me rewarding you after you chase a wild Pokemon around the base, I’m going to treat you right now. What do you want for dinner? Calm down,” he told Breloom and Claydol as the moaned in disbelief. “I let you both choose last week; it’s Golbat’s turn anyway. I’ll go get started on the food.” With that, he and the bat-like creature left the others.

    While he walked, Derek contemplated Golbat’s plan. It seemed as good of a plan as anything he would be able to come up with.

    I just hope it works.

    ++++++++++++++++++++

    The next evening came, and Derek smiled at Maressa as he entered the room.

    “How are you doing?” he asked her.

    “I’m fine,” she replied, and she really did seem fine—her smile was genuine, and there was a sort of hope shining in her eyes that, until recently, had been absent.

    “Do you remember everything I told you—about our base, and team members?”

    She nodded.

    “Okay, just please be careful with that information. If anyone finds that I told you that—“

    “Don’t worry,” she cut him off. “It’s not as if I’m going to tell everyone that I escaped with the help of a Team Magma member, and that he gave me the information I have.”

    “I know, just….” He shrugged uncomfortably.

    “I understand. Don’t worry; your secrets are safe with me, and I’ll do everything I can to make sure everything will be all right.”

    He smiled at her, and said, “The ship has stopped moving now, but there’s a current going south. It should carry you to Mossdeep City by morning.”

    She nodded, but didn’t seem too keen on getting in the ocean, even if she was in a boat this time. Derek couldn’t blame her; he could hardly stand being in the sea, and her last experience with it made him sympathize greatly with her.

    The two descended into silence until Derek voiced aloud a concern.

    “I’ve been thinking,” he wondered, “since you don’t really want to be part of Team Aqua, what are you going to do once you get out? What will you do once you get to Mossdeep?”

    Maressa sighed, and her golden eyebrows furrowed as she thought. “I’ve been thinking about this, too,” she said at last. “At first I was thinking I would go straight to the police—”

    “Don’t do that,” Derek interjected, as he suddenly remembered something.

    She eyed him, a little annoyed at being interrupted. “I’ve changed my mind since, but why do you think I shouldn’t do that? If I was to go, I would be giving only stuff about Team Aqua; I don’t have anything to give about you guys other than what you’ve told me and the fact that you own a boat.”

    “It’s not just that I’m worried about you betraying us,” he told her. “But I know that Team Magma—and maybe Team Aqua too—have members infiltrating Hoenn’s police force, giving them false leads and wrong information to keep them off our trail. If one of them got wind that you were there, you could end up as a prisoner again.”

    Looking taken aback for a moment, she stared down at her feet, apparently lost in thought. Judging by the distressed expression on her face, Derek figured that she didn’t know this, and his anger at how much their teams were keeping their own members in the dark burned within him.

    “Well,” she said after a momentary silence, “I decided that I’d return to Team Aqua anyway. Even if I did go to the police, I don’t know how much I’d be allowed to help outside of giving them info. My Pokemon are still with Team Aqua, and I’m not going to leave them unless they’re with me.”

    Her worry was gone, replaced by stark, yet calm determination. Derek smiled; he worried about the possibility of her getting caught as a traitor to Team Aqua, but he admired the dedication she had for her Pokemon.

    “And what will you do afterwards?”

    She shrugged. “Whatever I can to slow them down. I’ll have Golduck, Lanturn, Sharpedo and Seaking with me, so they’ll have ideas and we’ll figure out where to go from there.” She looked up at him, her face shining with gratitude. “Thank you for everything, Derek. I don’t know what I would do otherwise.”

    “You can thank me after you’ve gotten off this ship.” But he smiled warmly all the same.

    He checked his watch. “It’ll be dark outside by now. We’ll hear Golbat and the Wingull once they fly in here. Breloom will be chasing after them, hopefully getting more peoples’ attention. Claydol is in the hallway, keeping watch. Once the coast is clear, he’ll let me know, and we can get you out of here.”

    Maressa looked confused. “How does he let you know?”

    Derek tapped his head. “He makes a mental link between us, so if he wants to tell me something, he just has to connect our minds and let me know what he wants to.”

    “Are you always connected that way?”

    “As long as Claydol isn’t in his Pokeball, the link is always there, but not always open, you know? Like….” He scratched his head. “It’s hard to explain, but he can pretty much telepathically communicate with me whenever he wants to. And as long as the link is open, I can communicate with him.”

    Maressa nodded, and the duo descended into silence. Derek glanced at her; her face had the same creases as she did when asleep, as though she was constantly worried. He wondered how she was when she was with her Pokemon; he imagined she wasn’t always this concerned or distressed. Perhaps, when this fight was over, they could still be friends, and he and she and their Pokemon could all get together.

    When this is all over….

    But just when would it be over? And when it was, how would the world be—conformed to Team Magma’s ideals, or flooded in accordance with Team Aqua’s plan? Or would it be the same as it now was, and everyone had given up?

    Definitely not the last one, he thought bitterly. He knew his commanders too well. And though he had seldom seen Maxie, the few times he had, he had noted a powerful, confident aura emanating from him. And Derek knew that Tabitha would stay by Maxie until the end—he wouldn’t stop at anything until Team Magma’s goal was achieved.

    A pang of guilt hit him when he thought of Tabitha. His friend was sure to get into trouble for Maressa escaping under his watch, and everyone else in the unit was going to have a rough time as well.

    He shook the thought from his head. They may get in trouble from those of higher rank, but it wouldn’t be as bad as what Maressa would have to go through if she stayed. He tore his mind from the subject, letting his thoughts wander elsewhere until he heard screeching.

    Perhaps he heard the screeching because he had been expecting it. Soon, however, it was drowned out in the numerous voices filling the hallway.

    “Get them out of here!”

    “Whose Golbat is that?”

    “Look out, there’s another one!”

    Derek opened the door and stuck his head into the hallway just in time to see a streak of white closely followed by a blue blur. Breloom was sprinting down the hallway, shouting excitedly. A few Poochyena bounded past, followed by their trainers. The Magma members were commanding their Dark-typed companions to attack the two flyers, but Golbat and Wingull were far too fast for them and were speeding away quickly.

    One of them, a sandy-haired man named Nate, suddenly stopped. “Derek, isn’t that your Golbat?”

    “Was it?” Derek tried to appear mildly concerned, silently praying for Nate to leave and follow the commotion deeper into the ship.

    However, Nate didn’t have enough time to reply before a deep, furious squawking echoed through the halls. The two turned, and Derek’s heart sank as he saw a large Pelipper hurtling towards them, its wings so large that it could barely move about in the hallway. Derek ducked back into the medical room and Nate flattened himself against the wall as the avian flew past, screeching angrily.

    “I think that’s the Wingull’s mom,” Nate said.

    “It’s mom?!

    “Yeah; the Wingull that flew in here was pretty small, and I saw that Pelipper sticking close to it, so the mom is probably still looking after it.”

    A fear for Golbat filled Derek. He knew that Golbat would have been able to handle a scared Wingull, but he wasn’t confident that he would fare well against an enraged mother Pelipper. Without a second thought, he sprinted down the hallway, Nate following slightly behind him.

    It didn’t take long to get to the fighting Pokemon; their screeches, combined with the voices of angry Magma members, were echoing throughout the halls. Derek felt something brush against his consciousness, but he ignored whatever Claydol was trying to tell him, overriding it with his own thoughts.

    Claydol, get over here! Golbat might be in danger!

    Derek and Nate followed the sound of the chaos until they saw a large group of team members standing together. Wedging his way through a crowd of red hoodies, Derek got to where the Pokemon were fighting in the middle of a hallway. The door to the security room was wide open, and the guards had their own Pokemon out, with their backs turned to the camera feed.

    “Numel, use Take Down!”

    “Watch out for its Water Gun!”

    “Gloom, Sleep Powder!”

    The Wingull was zipping around, screeching in fear. The Pelipper, with its massive bulk, was shrugging off all attacks aimed at it. When the Gloom released a green powder into the air, the Flying-type flapped its powerful wings, pushing the dust away from it and into a crowd of Magma members and their Pokemon. The trainers and their companions fell to the ground, all fast asleep. The Pelipper turned its attention back to Golbat, who was flying around, dodging all attacks aimed at him.

    Derek bit his lip, at a loss of what to do. He didn’t want Golbat to use Haze or Supersonic in the confined space, but he couldn’t just let Golbat grow tired and be beaten.

    Suddenly, Claydol appeared, floating into the midst of the battle serenely and yet with a sense of urgency. Derek breathed a sigh of relief at seeing his friend. The command had barely formed in his mind when Claydol obeyed. The Pelipper and Wingull suddenly stopped moving, held in place by the Ground-type’s psychic power.

    “Good work, Claydol!” Derek turned to the two guards, Lloyd and Stephen, standing in the doorway, who both appeared surprised by Claydol’s sudden appearance and interference. “What do you want him to do with them?”

    Lloyd shrugged. “Just take them outside and set them loose again.”

    “Yeah,” Stephen agreed, eyeing the Pokemon frozen in mid-air with distaste. “Thanks, by the way.”

    “Sure thing.” Derek decided to not apologize for his Golbat being the reason for the two of them flying in in the first place; as long as he cleaned up the mess he made, everything would be okay. “Come on, Claydol.”

    He led his Pokemon down the hallway while the other Magma members tried to wake their sleeping teammates up. He had only been walking for a minute or so when another member came sprinting down the hallway, hollering at the top of his lungs.

    “SHE’S ESCAPED! THE AQUA MEMBER ESCAPED!”

    The man stopped right in front of Derek, panting heavily, his hood slipped off his dark brown hair. Derek felt as though a leaden weight sank to the bottom of his stomach, and all he could do was give a quiet, “What?”

    “The Aqua Member—went overboard—fell in water—escaped—” the team member panted out.

    Maressa, no.

    Derek sprinted down the hallway at top speed. He followed the way that the other team member had come from, and the fear in his heart grew as he realized that these halls weren’t the ones in which he had planned to take Maressa. In his concern for Golbat, he had completely forgotten about her. He prayed that she had figured out how to open a canister and take a life raft off, that she would at least have a chance of surviving. If she hadn’t….

    Derek flew out onto deck, where the starry sky stretched out endlessly above the calm, black sea. No life raft canisters were in sight—she had gone to the wrong deck.

    “Maressa, oh, Maressa, no….”

    His shaking hands gripped the rail as he stared over the waters going by beneath them, devoid of any sign of life.

    She’s gone. She’s gone and dead.

    He barely noticed when Breloom bounded out onto the deck, followed by Claydol, who blasted the Wingull and Pelipper away with psychic energy. The doll floated next to Derek, moaning questioningly.

    “She’s gone, Claydol. She’s gone and dead because of me. If I hadn’t told Golbat to chase that Wingull—if I hadn’t left her…. She’s gone. She’s gone and she’ll die.” He couldn’t bring his voice to rise above a whisper, couldn’t bring himself to do anything but stand at the railing at stare at the starlit waters, hoping beyond hope that he might see a blonde head bobbing on the surface.

    But there was nothing. There was only the sea, empty and oppressive, swallowing up everything while a twinkling sky winked innocently down at them.

    He could hear footsteps pounding through the halls behind him, was dimly aware of voices shouting over the ship. Claydol moaned once more, and Breloom urgently chirped, but he ignored them both. He stood, in silent dread and sorrow when he was suddenly aware of the air becoming thick with spores, and before he knew it, the green particles had filled his lungs. His consciousness slipped away, and he let go of the railing as he fell to the ground, wondering why his Pokemon had chosen to put him to sleep.

    ++++++++++++++++

    When Derek had sprinted down the hallway after Golbat with the other Magma member trailing behind him, Maressa could only sit and stare in shock. She had expected Derek to stay with her, to guide her to deck and help her take off, not leave her alone. What was she to do now? Getting up, she made her way over to the door and looked both ways down the hall. It was completely empty.

    She paused, thinking for a second, then turned the opposite way that Derek had run and began walking down the hallway, going as quickly as her injured leg would permit. She understood his concern for Golbat, but this could be her only opportunity to get out; she couldn’t afford to miss it.

    Her eyes darted around anxiously as she increased her speed. Walking in the halls made her feel vulnerable, exposed, and at every turn she made, she expected to come face-to-face with a Magma member.

    She stopped at an intersection, thinking hard. Derek had briefly gone over where they would go to get out, but she was having trouble remembering his instructions.

    As she thought she heard footsteps approaching, she wheeled around, heart beating furiously in her chest. Did she really hear footsteps? Or was she so anxious that her mind was playing tricks on her? Either way, she had to make a decision. She went straight, and continued along as quickly as she could, in constant fear of being discovered.

    The smell of salt hit her as soon as she stepped outside. And, though the danger was far from over, a smile broke over her face. She stepped over to the railing, breathing in the salty air, filling her lungs with it, feeling so elated, so free. The ocean flowed calmly beneath the still ship, and as she leaned against the rail, closing her eyes, all anxiety melted away as tranquility washed over her.

    Opening her eyes, she looked around the deck. Derek had said there would be life rafts, but she couldn’t see any. The nervousness came back as she looked around, failing to find them. Had she gone to the wrong deck?

    She looked back out at the dark waters, wondering if perhaps she could trust the current to carry her somewhere safely without a life raft. But as she stared into the black depths, memories of her last venture into the ocean returned, and a fear drove deeply into her heart.

    She backed away from the rail, slightly shaking. Get a hold of yourself. Now is your chance to leave; you don’t want to be stuck here. Forcing herself to approach the rail again, she gripped the cold metal bars. Hoisting herself up, she put both feet on it and settled in a crouch, preparing herself to jump as she stared contemplatively into the waters. She had never been afraid of the ocean before—but up until a few days ago, she had never come close to dying in it, either. None of her Pokemon were accompanying her this time. Could she live in the ocean alone, even for a short period of time?

    “You have to go,” she told herself. “Time is running out, and if you don’t go, Derek and Golbat will have done all of this for nothing.”

    In spite of her words, she couldn’t bring herself to go into the waters. As she gazed at them, she could almost feel the weight of the air tank dragging her down, of her leg bursting with pain, and of her lungs about to burst. Already, the water seemed to come up to her, and she could see herself sinking, drowning, dying….

    Who am I kidding? she realized. She got off the rail, backing away, overcome with fear at what she had been about to do. Sure, if I stay here, I’ll suffer, but if I go into the ocean without a raft or boat, I’ll die.

    Inhaling deeply, she turned away, and realized just how badly her hands were shaking. She didn’t want to face whatever Team Magma had in store for her, but compared to death, it was preferable. She prepared to go back inside, wondering if she could get in without anyone catching her.

    As soon as she turned around, her heart stopped in her chest. A red-hooded man stood in the doorway through which she had come, staring at her in shock.

    “HEY!” he shouted as he lunged towards her.

    Without thinking, Maressa turned around, climbed onto the rail, and launched herself off of the ship. Before she hit the water, she realized what she had done, and panic engulfed her as the salty liquid swallowed her up. Her leg stung horribly in the water, and primal fear devoured her as she could feel a current carry her away from the ship.

    Sticking her head above the surface, she took in great gulps of air, her heart racing in a panic. For a few moments, her limbs were beating frantically, but then her habits overcame instinct, and she treaded her arms and legs steadily, floating along in the dense waters. The current was swiftly carrying her, but it was a calm night, without much wind. The stars shown serenely out of the sky, illuminating the seascape with an ethereal light.

    Turning her head, Maressa watched the Magma ship steadily shrink until it appeared as little more than a speck on the horizon.

    Maressa floated on her back, staring up at the star-strewn sky. She hoped that no carnivorous creature would be attracted by the scent of her open wound, but fear would do her no good now. All she could do was wait for the current to carry her to any nearby land, and try to stay alive.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2015
  2. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner Peace to the Mountain

    I don't see how pantsing the ocean furthers Aqua's goals. :p

    When I read this, my first thought was wait, really? I knew there was an attack that could bypass protect/detect/what have you, and feint attack kind of sounded right somehow, but I couldn't recall ever having that kind of success with feint attack myself.

    A couple minutes and a trip to bulbapedia later, and I realized why it sounded right: there's another move, simply called feint, that bypasses protect-style moves (and in fact only works at all when one of those is being used). Feint attack, meanwhile, is just an attack with immutable accuracy. So I thought oh, okay, two moves with similar names; I could easily get 'em mixed up, too.

    Then it finally occurred to me that maybe the ghosts are just using feint attack to kind of short-range teleport past the barriers (I've had a ghost-type character do something along those lines, as a matter of fact) and realized that in this context that feint attack probably works just fine.

    tl;dr you inspired me to take a time out and really think about pokémon moves, and that's probably a good thing

    Looks like her morals are loosening a bit. I'd been starting to wonder if maybe the Illicit Aquatic Activities Club wasn't for her after all and her conscience would drive her to bail. That might still happen, but things like the above suggest it's a little less certain. We shall see what happens, I suppose.

    OW. OW OW OW. I could practically feel that.
    I hope she gets time to worry about it soon. That sounds like the kind of injury that could bleed like hell.

    OW. Yeah you uh... prrrrrrobably wanna go easy on that leg for a good while.

    Y'all are a lucky duck. Seaking horns aren't exactly what I'd call tiny, after all.

    Maybe I shouldn't be reading this while hungry. I am envying the **** outta her right now even though she's in really kind of bad condition. XD

    ...can I have it?

    OW, ****...

    Now this, I can relate to. I definitely have an attention threshold, and while it's rather higher than it used to be, surpassing it will still turn me into one of those cats that goes "NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO..." X3

    Particularly since SOME PEOPLE insist on jamming their fingers in that ****. :p

    Derek what is with you and that shitty old "hysterical female" stereotype. Do you need a boot to the head, son? I think you might need a boot to the head.

    He swears loyalty to Magma now, but he's already had some bumps in that road where their ethics are concerned. I wonder if he'll really be able to stick with them when all's said and done. Maybe he and Maressa will both end up deserting, in the end.

    And the seeds of treason begin to sprout.

    I wonder if he's beginning to fall for her.

    Idk man. I don't think I'd be handing her sensitive TM information if I really wanted her to keep TA from moving forward.

    Really starting to think he's, ah, thinking with more than just his brain, heh.

    Awww, doggy dreams!

    Well, that's adorable.

    Those things certainly have enough eyes for the job. :p

    WHOOPS-A-DOODLE. Have fun with that, Magmas!


    Nice double cliffhanger there in that last chapter. Of course I wonder how Maressa's going to get out of this pickle (I can't say I'm wondering if she will), but I also wonder about why Derek got spored, and whether it was Breloom who did it or someone else.
     
  3. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    They're just that obsessed with the sea :p

    But whoops, I had actually never realized how that could be read that way ^_^;



    Er, I'm going to have to deny credit on this and say that I did mean Feint Attack and I didn't know the move Feint existed and this chapter was just bad writing. As I've said (but it was in reply to another reviewer so you probably didn't notice and that is A-OK), chapter 2 is essentially my bane. I need to get rid of it or rewrite it or something....

    Well, you probably saw in the later chapters that she does decide to bail, but there's no denying that she does enjoy working for Team Aqua. I was kinda aiming for readers to get the idea that she enjoys Pokemon battling, but also gets pleasure at the idea/realization of taking her enemies down.


    I'm sorry for causing you all this pain D:

    Hm, maybe I should have put that injury as her main concern and the solarbeam as something she didn't notice until it hit her? That's probably a better idea, come to think of it.....


    Is this cheap writing? Maybe this is cheap writing. I don't know, I just didn't want her entirely out of commission since being on Team Aqua requires a lot of physical activity and I felt like if that crippled her then she'd be near-useless. And I figured that if she was going to get injured badly enough to have to be given medical care by the enemy, the thighs or the buttocks would be the safest places since they have the most muscle padding the bones and arteries. And while it's painful for it to be all torn up, it does heal after a while. And I chose the thigh since I felt like the butt would be too weird/funny/awkward, and it would make sitting down a pain.

    If hospital food is your thing, go ahead!

    Glad to hear that this is relatable! I feel the same way about a lot of things. If I get someone complimenting me on so-and-so, I'll feel pretty good about it. But if more people do it, I just get uncomfortable and I want to go hide away and be left alone. So yeah, I totally get where your'e coming from XD

    If you have someone that needs time to rest and recover, you definitely don't want Tabitha watching over them, as Derek soon realized.

    You'll have to excuse him, he doesn't have much experience with ladies. And if Maressa/any other woman found out what was going on his head, then they would be to give him a thrashing :p

    Yeah, he's really relying more on trust at this point than on logic. Which isn't the smartest thing for someone to do at this point, but hey, no one's perfect.

    Well, he is going more with his heart, but what he's using isn't too far down south, if that's what you were thinking :p

    I'm having a hard time telling if you're being serious on the latter, but if so, two adorable moments in a row by me? *Fist-pump of victory*


    And they do! :p

    Thank you, and thanks so much for reviewing! I always have fun reading your comments, whether they're here or for other stories. :)

    A big thank you to everyone who has nominated me for the 2014 Fanfiction Awards! It really warms my heart knowing that people read this, and thank you all so much for being here and looking at what I've posted :) The next chapter is taking a while, but I feel I've made fair progress so far and since I'm on spring break now and will be sitting in a car for 3 days soon I'll hopefully be able to get some stuff done.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2015
  4. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    Well, here's the latest chapter. This one didn't want to be written, so if something feels forced, that's because it probably was. Thanks for reading, and if you have any comments or criticisms, feel free to leave them below!

    Chapter 9

    Derek blearily opened his eyes, blinking in the bright light. He sat up, wincing as his head throbbed. He wondered why it was throbbing, then remembered what had happened.

    He looked around but could not see his Pokemon. He was lying in his bed, and Nate stood in the doorway.

    The blonde man nodded to Derek. “It’s about time you got up; you were out for a while. What happened? Did you faint?”

    “No, I….” He rubbed his head, trying to remember. “It was my Breloom; he used spore on me, and I fell asleep.”

    “Why did he do that?”

    “Good question….”

    “Probably to save you from Tabitha. He was furious when he found out that the Aqua member had gotten away.

    "Was furious? Is he fine now?”

    “No, he’s still really mad, but he’s cooled down some. I’m supposed to go tell him that you’ve woken up; he wants to talk to you.”

    “Great,” Derek grumbled as Nate walked out.

    He sat for a moment on his bed, thinking over what happened. He wanted to know why Breloom had knocked him out, but his mind was cut off from his Claydol’s. He reached in his pant pockets, but they were empty, as was his nightstand. Worry gnawed at him—had they taken his Pokemon away from him?

    Derek gasped as he remembered Maressa and passed a hand over his face as he closed his eyes. He didn’t have enough time for guilt to overcome him before his commander appeared in the doorway.

    Derek glanced up as Tabitha slammed the door shut. The commander's eyes burned lividly, and the glare he gave Derek sent chills down his spine. “What happened?” he demanded.

    As truthfully as he could, Derek recounted everything that happened from the moment he first heard Golbat screeching through the hallway, though he didn’t say that Golbat had intentionally chased the Wingull inside.

    “Once I heard there was a Pelipper, I got scared for Golbat and ran after him—”

    “And you just left the door wide open while Maressa was fully conscious?”

    “Yes, I did. I forgot about her; as soon as I heard Golbat was in trouble, I forgot about everything else.” He met Tabitha’s dark gaze evenly and merely said, “I’m sorry.”

    The commander continued to glare down at him, disgusted, but eventually his dark countenance softened. Sighing, he turned away. “What am I going to do with you, Derek? I can’t let this pass without punishing you, but we can’t really have you anywhere other than where you are now.”

    “What will happen to me?” Derek asked curiously.

    Tabitha shrugged. “I’m not sure…. I’ll talk to Maxie about it. What you can do or where you can go will probably be more limited, but I can’t see much else happening other than that. After all,” he turned back to Derek, and his gaze had softened considerably, “you were acting out of concern for your Pokemon, so that much is understandable, at least. Just pay more attention in the future.

    “Also,” Tabitha said as he crossed his arms and leaned against the opposite wall, “what about Maressa? Do you think she’ll live in the ocean without her Pokemon?”

    Closing his eyes, Derek shrugged and shook his head. “I don’t know, but death is likely. Even if she doesn’t get eaten or die from dehydration, there are millions of diseases and bacteria in the ocean; even in a short span of time, her wound can easily get infected. She might be able to live if she makes it to land and gets medical treatment, but if not, then the infections could kill her.” As he said the words, the reality of them hit him again, and he bit his lip to try and stop it from quivering.

    Tabitha nodded. “Shame.” Standing up straight, he walked over to the door and made to leave, saying, “I’ll talk to Maxie about what to do with you. Until then, just try to rest. You hit your head pretty hard when you passed out.”

    “Tabitha!” Derek exclaimed suddenly as his commander was about to walk out. The purple-haired man looked questioningly at him. “Do you know where my Pokemon are?”

    “Stephen’s holding onto them. You can have them back after I’ve talked to Maxie. They’ve all been returned to their Pokeballs, and none of them were hurt.” With that, he walked out, shutting the door behind him.

    Derek sank back down into the bed, more worried than before.

    You can have them back after I’ve talked to Maxie….

    What did that mean? If their boss saw fit to punish him, then would he not see them again? Would Golbat, Claydol or Breloom be punished for what he did?

    His heart sank, and he knew that he would not be able to sleep. He had gotten Maressa out of there, but now he was utterly alone and unsure of what the future held.

    +++++++++++++++++++++

    The sun beat oppressively down on the seashore. The pale sand burned beneath Maressa’s feet as she struggled up the sandy coast. Her head was light and pounding horribly. Her tongue felt bloated and even though she was dripping wet, her throat and mouth were dry. Her muscles were so cramped and exhausted that she just wanted to curl up on the ground but she had to keep going.... She had to get back to her Pokemon….

    One foot….

    Then the left….

    Right….

    She stopped, and gazed blearily ahead. Everything seemed green, but it was hard to tell. Her vision was blurring, and suddenly everything went black as she lost all sense of feeling.

    ++++++++++++++

    Wisps of blonde hair floated in front of her face as the cold seawater ran gently by her. She allowed her body to slowly sink into the dark depths of the ocean below, while the orange light of a dimming sun sparkled in the air above. Her limbs hung numbly at her side as she felt the caress of the saltwater, its little eddies kiss her cheeks, and the gentle rocking of the sea. Turning to face downward, she could not make out the ocean bottom, but only beheld a black pit below. Eyes half-closed, she peered into the chasm as her body sank further downward into the maw of the great pit.

    Closing her eyes, she could only feel her body dragging itself deeper and deeper into the depths of the sea. No heart beat within her, no blood ran through her veins, no air circulated in and out of her lungs; she was one with the element around her, allowing the waters of the ocean to pull her as her mind delved into the bliss of oblivion.

    She opened her eyes again. The sparkle of the sun seemed much farther away as she felt the blackness grow around her. Growing dimly aware of a change in scenery, she absentmindedly turned her head to her side. She perceived numerous figures rising up from the darkness below her. Few at first, they came in great multitudes: black, shapeless objects that climbed up through the water to greet her.

    She watched them curiously, trying to perceive what they were. They were beginning to take shape—


    Beep.

    And as she inhaled deeply, her world was black for a moment before she opened her lids and saw a bright light shining overhead. Her brow furrowed; the last thing she remembered was falling on the beach, but that bright light came from a ceiling lamp.

    She looked around; she lay on a bed, much like the one she had been on when she was with Team Magma. An IV tube was connected to her arm, and a heart monitor sat next to her. A small tube was connected to a wrap wound around her right index finger, and she could see a red light emanating from it. She licked her lips—they were still dry, and she was horribly thirsty.

    Blinking, she sat up straighter. This was definitely a hospital—and not a Team Magma one—but where was she?

    Gazing through an open window, she saw the green treetops before a bustling city. She felt a thrill of hope—had she made it to Mossdeep?

    Her attention was torn away from the window as a young woman dressed in dark blue scrubs walked through the door. She smiled at Maressa.

    “Good, you’re awake! How are you feeling?”

    Maressa paused, a little bewildered at this woman’s sudden appearance. After a moment, she croaked, “Not too bad, just tired and really thirsty.”

    The nurse laughed, and exclaimed, “I’ll bet, after being in the ocean for so long! I’ll go and ask the doctor if you’re allowed to have anything to eat or drink.”

    Maressa watched in bewilderment as the woman left. If she wasn’t allowed to drink, then why on earth did she have an IV tube in? She sighed and leaned against the numerous pillows.

    In a moment, the nurse was back, holding a styrofoam cup. “Here you go.”

    Maressa gratefully took it—fumbling a little with the awkward tube on her finger—and drank deeply. Never had anything tasted or felt so good.

    Finishing her drink, Maressa asked, “Where am I?”

    “On the fourth floor of the Mossdeep Hospital.”

    Mossdeep! A grin split Maressa’s face, and an immense relief overcame her. She had made it—she was here, she was free.

    Derek and Golbat, you guys are incredible.


    “Some woman walking along the beach had found you this morning. Good thing we got you here; you were really dehydrated and that hole in your leg was looking really bad.”

    Maressa had temporarily forgotten about the wound in her leg. At the mention of it, she took the blanket off to see she was wearing nothing but an apron. Quickly getting over her embarrassment—the only other person in the room was another woman, anyway—Maressa examined her leg. Fresh, clean bandages were wound around it, but it didn’t hurt at the moment.

    “How am I?” she asked the nurse.

    “The doctor says you should be fine. Your strength should return soon, and he said that your leg has been healing pretty well. How did you get that, by the way?”

    Maressa paused. She hadn’t thought of making up any stories or aliases for when she got back to civilization. Deciding to start with the truth, she merely told the nurse that Seaking’s horn had punctured it. When asked for elaboration, she said that she had been surfing on him when they had run into a pack of Tentacool, and Seaking had gotten into a fight.

    At the mention of Seaking, her heart panged with sorrow.

    Soon, she told herself. I’ll see him soon. And when I do, I’ll apologize for this whole mess and make it all up to him. But to see him, she had to get to Team Aqua. And to get to Team Aqua, she had to get out of the hospital.

    “And how did you end up here?”

    Maressa was jerked out of her thoughts when she met the nurse’s questioning glance. The words poured out of her mouth as she mentally formed a story. “I was surfing—on Lanturn, this time—just north of route 124. We were planning on doing some training, so we started a battle with a young Wingull. I hadn’t noticed that its mom was in the area though, and after we attacked the Wingull, this huge Pelipper came flying at us. It proved to be too much for Lanturn, so I tried to recall her, but the Pelipper knocked my Pokeball out of my hand and I fell off of her.”

    As she spoke, she could see herself riding Seaking back towards Team Aqua’s submarine before the two were ensnared in Breloom’s Leech Seed. “Before the current carried me away, I saw her still struggling. I don’t know what happened to her….”

    The nurse smiled warmly, and said, “I’m sure she’ll be fine. The ocean is her natural habitat, after all. And don’t worry, you’ll see her soon.”

    Maressa looked up into the nurse’s warm, brown eyes—eyes so genuine and full of sincerity. “How can you be so sure?”

    “Pokemon have a way of knowing where their trainers are. When I was a little girl, I got separated from my parents when we were in the city once, but our Cacturn found me in almost no time. And Pokemon are closer to nature than humans tend to be; I’m sure your Lanturn noticed which way the current was flowing. She’s probably waiting just off of Mossdeep for you now.”

    Maressa looked down at her hands. Could it be true? If so, would Seaking have known that she was on Team Magma’s ship—would he know that she was here? Did he even know that she had been captured by Team Magma? Her heart pricked with guilt as she remembered seeing Seaking swim away in a panic, still entangled in the life-sucking vines.

    “What’s your name?”

    She glanced up at the nurse, momentarily confused. “We didn’t find any credentials with you,” she explained.

    Maressa hesitated for a second, then said the second name that came to her mind: “Elizabeth Llyr.”

    “And your address? I assume you’ll want the bill mailed, correct?”

    “Yes,” Maressa said with a small smile, thinking of her younger sister’s reaction on seeing a hospital bill she had never planned on getting. “The bill will be fine.”

    +++++++++++++++++++

    A few hours later, and Maressa was still fiddling with the tube attached to her finger. Though she was grateful for the professional medical care and attention she was receiving, she had to get out of here, and soon. But how was she supposed to get to the ground from a fourth story? And where was she to start looking? She was pretty sure that Team Aqua had a base near Mossdeep, but she had never been there and wasn’t sure of the exact location.

    She looked down and pursed her lips. Even if she did have all of that figured out, she would need clothes before she did anything else. And she was terribly hungry—maybe she could wait for food first….

    She gazed outside where the sunlight filtered through broad leaves, dappling the tiled floor of her room green. How to get down from the fourth floor….

    A sudden weight seemed into drop to her stomach. What if they had put her on a higher floor on purpose? Did they suspect that she was a member of a criminal team, and they had put her far above the ground to try and prevent any chance she had of escaping?

    Her heart was pounding furiously in her chest. If they had looked up Betty and recognized her as looking too different from Maressa and realize that the real Maressa Llyr had not been heard from for months, they just might realize who she was. Once they recognized her as a Team Aqua member, they could just as well send her off to prison.

    I’m practically a prisoner already, she thought as she looked around the room.

    That settled it; there was no time to get food, get clothes or heal. She had to leave the hospital and get back to her Pokemon now..

    She was about to get up and walk over to the window when she realized the tubes still attached to her. Would the nurse be alerted immediately if she took them off? It was a possibility, but if she was going to get out, then she had no other choice but to remove them.

    Glancing back and forth between the window and the tubes, she breathed steadily, readying herself to be more active than she had in days. Taking the IV tube out of her arm and ripping the wrap off of her finger, she sprang out of bed and bolted to the window. Unlocking it, she breathed a sigh of relief when it opened with ease. She took a second to breathe in the fresh air, then quickly got on the sill and grabbed hold of the tree branches. She placed both hands and feet on the thin branches as she slid closer to the trunk where the tree’s limbs were thicker. Descending slowly, she tried to climb down steadily, but she was weak and tired and hadn’t been tree-climbing in months. Though she made it past the third and second stories, she had only gotten halfway down the first story before she slipped and fell to the ground. She groaned as she landed on her leg, and sat up, clutching it.

    Standing up, she looked around. The hospital stood in the middle of a large parking lot, but in front of her and to her right she could see only empty cars. To her left, along the building, she could make out a street and people passing.

    She took in a deep breath, closing her eyes and steeling herself for what she had to do. The faster she went, the sooner it was done, the better. Opening her eyes, she took off, not quite at a sprint, as her leg was still too damaged for that, but going as fast as she could despite the pain. Her face burned as she made her way into the open, and she could see people pointing at her and hear them give shouts of surprise and laugher as a woman in nothing but a hospital gown streaked by.

    She stopped as she saw two men standing in front of a truck, staring at her in utter confusion. One of them had a lanyard hanging out of his pocket. It was almost too easy, but at this point, she was willing to do anything to get out of the open.

    “What do you think you’re—”

    “I’m sorry,” she cut him off as she stepped in front of him. Yanking the lanyard out of his pocket, she drove her free fist into his solar plexus, causing wind to rush out of him and him to double over.

    “Hey!” the other man started, but didn’t have time to do anything before he was also bent over, dropping his coffee as his hands flew to his nose.

    Clambering in as quickly as possible, Maressa started the truck and was almost ready to climb back out when she realized it was a stick shift. She jerked her head back to the window to find one of the men trying to open the door, which she had thankfully locked.

    It was but a few seconds before Maressa was driving down the road in a flash, constantly checking to make sure she was in the right gear and not going over the speed limit. She was having trouble remembering how to shift properly, and was praying that the truck wouldn’t stall, but it seemed like she melded in with the rest of traffic just fine. No one seemed aware that she had just committed a felony, and everything was going smoothly.

    Woo-woo-woo-woo.

    Or not.

    “Dammit!” she whispered as she looked in her rear-view mirror to see flashing red-and-blue lights following her. She could hear them giving her orders to pull over, but she ignored them and drove onward.

    She could feel a sweat coming on as she realized the police were quickly gaining on her; soon they would overtake her, and she would wind up captured—again. But it would be impossible to outdistance them if she was to stay within the speed limit.

    “Idiot!” She shouted as the realization hit her. Stepping on the gas, she drove onwards, going into the heart of the city where traffic was quickly thickening. And not just vehicular traffic—people were swarming the streets, seeming to fill every alley and lane. Flags and other decorations hung from buildings. Elaborate streamers and paper decorations bedecked every wall and spanned the gaps between buildings. Maressa stared in awe for a moment, and she actually had time to appreciate the beauty and effort, for the traffic had come to a standstill.

    She looked back. Vehicles filled the lanes for as long as she could see, and the police cars were out of sight. People continued to pour past in a massive crowd, and without a second thought, Maressa opened the door and plunged into the thicket.

    Heart hammering and face flushing, she shoved her way through people as quickly as she could, ignoring those who called or stared after her. Making her way through the streets, she wound her way into an alley, and soon ended up in one of the nastiest buildings she had ever been in. She briefly considered going somewhere without such a foul smell, but she figured that perhaps the smell was keeping people away and would take the police off her trail.

    Stepping slowly downstairs, she stopped before a closed door covered with graffiti and grime. Wrinkling her nose against the funky smell that permeated the air, she quickly stepped inside and softly shut the door. She could see why she was the only one in that restroom; though the walls and floors were dirty, the smell was absolutely horrendous. She was considering heading back outside when she heard two voices.

    They were speaking softly, and indistinct, but they sounded urgent. Maressa didn’t want to face any people, but she was in a women’s bathroom, and she did need clothes….

    Disgusted with herself, but desperate, she crept over to the handicapped stall from which the voices came. Going into the stall next to it and standing on the toilet, she peered over the top, and soon saw why the bathroom smelled worse than it looked.

    A Gloom stood on the ground, white nectar dripping from its half-open mouth. Two fully-grown men stood around it, and as she studied their filthy skin and stained clothes, Maressa figured they contributed to the stench.

    This is the Pokemon you decided to bring?!”

    “You said that your products would work on any Pokemon. This Gloom has been keeping me out of prison for sixteen months, and I need him to get stronger.”

    “He smells awful! How can you work with this?”

    Ducking back down, Maressa took in great breaths through her mouth, trying to keep out the noxious perfume. What were men doing in the women’s room? It didn’t matter; she didn’t think she could take them on, especially not if they had a Gloom with them. She was deciding what to do when she heard the door burst open.

    “Ugh, I would have been able to follow this stench by myself! Come on, Linoone, she can’t be far away.”

    Maressa’s heart stopped. They could only be searching for her, and with Linoone’s Odor Sleuth, it wouldn’t be hard for it to trace her once it caught her scent. And since they knew the truck she had stolen and she had left it unmoving in the middle of a street, it wouldn’t be too hard for the Pokemon to pick up her scent and sniff her out.

    The two men burst out of the stall and halted right before Maressa, but their eyes were fixed on the policeman and the striped creature standing beside him.

    Before the policeman had time to say anything, the slightly trashier-looking of the two men shouted, “Oh, ****! It’s a cop! Gloom, get us out of here!”

    “Glooooom….” The Grass-type started to emit dark green spores from the flower on its head, but it had barely begun to do so when the Linoone bowled it over, swiping furiously at it.

    “What are you doing that for?” the blonde-bearded man shouted at the police officer.

    “Telling your Pokemon to attack us—”

    “We didn’t tell him to attack you, I just told him to get us out of here!”

    The policeman and Gloom's owner continued their shouting match while the other man tried to slip away.

    “Hey!” the officer shouted as he noticed the dark-haired man trying to slide by. As soon as he was noticed, he took off at a run, only to be tackled to the ground by the Linoone. Shouts were echoing all throughout the little room, and all the while Gloom was remained sitting where it had been tackled, still puffing out the green powder.

    A lightbulb went off in Maressa’s head, and taking a deep breath, she ran out of her stall over to the purple Pokemon. The others started in shock as they noticed her, but she paid them no attention. Grabbing Gloom, she held her breath and ran to the other side of the room, waving the Poison-type up-and-down to diffuse the powder more quickly. The police man had just grabbed her arm when his grip suddenly loosened, and he fell to the ground in a deep sleep. His Pokemon and the other men soon followed.

    Maressa put Gloom on the ground and stepped away, turning her head away to take in a quick breath. The Pokemon didn’t seem to notice or care that its trainer had fallen asleep; it just stood where Maressa had set it, puffing out spores. For some reason, Maressa felt a sense of sympathy stir within her. With how little it seemed to care at knocking its own trainer out, Maressa wondered why it took orders from him in the first place. Would it take orders from just anyone?

    “You can stop now, Gloom,” she said. The Pokemon turned towards her, but its uncaring facial expression didn’t seem to change—it did, however, stop emitting Sleep Powder.

    After a few seconds, the floor was coated with the dark green powder. “Thank you,” Maressa said, giving the Pokemon a warm smile before bending over the unconscious lot. She grimaced; her choices were to be a street rat, or an overweight police officer. Taking the latter option, she shook off the green dust and pulled on clothes that were too large over her, tightening the belt as much as possible. At least these were clean, and didn’t smell nearly as bad.

    Maressa was about to walk outside when she turned back to Gloom and saw it standing there, staring dully at the wall ahead, completely indifferent to everything that happened. She felt an unexpected surge of sadness as she contemplated the small Pokemon.

    “Don’t worry about your owners, Gloom. They’ll be fine,” she tried to reassure him, but she doubted that the Pokemon would have worried regardless of what she told him. As she looked at him, she found that she couldn’t bring herself to leave the Pokemon there with those people and Linoone. It seemed like the Gloom’s owner and his affiliate were criminals—what would happen to it once they were arrested? Did the police arrest Pokemon as well as their trainers?

    Going over the man with the dirty-blonde beard—or maybe it was just blonde and the dark color came from actual dirt; Maressa couldn’t tell—she looked through his pockets, wondering if he had any other Pokemon that Gloom could be with. She found one Pokeball, which she soon discovered was Gloom’s. She also found some cash, but nothing.

    She looked through the other man’s pockets, finding some questionable-looking bottles with hand-made labels. Maressa sighed in dismay. While use of the status-boosters wasn’t illegal, whether or not it was ethical was widely-debated among Pokemon trainers. She turned back to the Gloom, and her sympathy for it only grew. She desperately wanted to help it, but she knew that she had to get out of there soon, lest other police officers came into the bathroom.

    “Come on, Gloom,” she said, half-hoping the Pokemon would show some devotion to its trainer. But it didn’t; as though it had never seen the man in its life, Gloom walked away from him and trailed after Maressa.

    The duo emerged from the bathroom, and once they got back out onto the street, Maressa only saw a few people pass by. Pulling her hat low and keeping her eyes down, she made her way towards the edge of the city, avoiding police officers and any people she saw.

    In spite of her desperation to get out, she couldn’t help but wonder at the bustle of the city. Surely it couldn’t always be this busy. And with the decorations adorning so many of the buildings, she figured there must be some sort of festival going on.

    Night had fallen by the time she and Gloom had reached the outskirts of the metropolis. The pair had climbed upon a high ridge, and from her perch, Maressa could survey the city under the night sky. Now that she was outside, she could tell that it wasn’t all that large—it was significantly smaller than Mauville. The space station stood a little out from the city, and the shuttle stuck out prominently against the dark blue sky. Just behind the city, a large mountain stood, mostly covered in greenery and foliage, untouched by human machinery.

    Maressa sighed as she lay down. She was tired, hungry, and her leg was hurting horribly. Not for the first time, she wondered if she had done the right thing by escaping from the hospital. And what had become of the police officer and the two men in the city restroom? Were the police still looking for her, or had they abandoned chase? It wasn’t as if she had done much wrong—she had left the truck behind, and getting out of the hospital just meant that she was using less of their supplies. Right?

    Maressa shrugged the thoughts away as she stared at the stars. Her heart ached, and she missed her Pokemon more than ever. Sure, she had Gloom, but the Pokemon had done little except follow her around. She wondered how well her Pokemon had taken the news of her disappearance, and if they were being treated all right.

    She turned to look at the Gloom, just sitting on the ground, soaking in the moonlight, completely indifferent to the world around it.

    Why? Why was it so uncaring—what had happened to it to induce such apathy, to make it so cold and aloof from the world around it?

    Sighing, Maressa sat back up and called Gloom over. If she was to judge by anything she had seen before, it looked like Gloom had never been cared for—not at least since it had been under the command of the blonde-bearded man.

    As Gloom’s stench wafted to her nostrils, she grimaced and nearly went back on her decision to cuddle it. Maybe this was a reason why it hadn’t been cared for before—perhaps no one could stand it's stench and pushed it away. Perhaps it was just a circumstance by birth that it had been treated by people this way. These thoughts only made Maressa’s heart ping with pity and guilt, and forcing away feelings of revulsion, she held the Poison-type in her lap.

    She glanced uneasily down at it, wondering if cuddling with a Pokemon that could unleash toxic spores was the best idea. If she couldn’t hold him, then how was she supposed to bond with him? Did Grass-type Pokemon even want to be cuddled? If not, then how did Derek get so close to Breloom?

    The thought of Derek brought a new wave of loneliness over Maressa. She hoped he hadn’t gotten into too much trouble for setting her free…. And the thought of Derek brought thoughts of her other friends—of Cloe, Sarah, Mark, and countless others.

    She looked over Mossdeep, recalling everything that Sarah had said to her. It seemed so long ago that the two had been lying on the back of a submarine, sharing each other’s life stories. Had it really only been a few weeks ago?

    “I wish you were here, Sarah,” she whispered.

    She smiled grimly as she remembered Sarah wishing that she would be there too, for the week-long celebration. Maressa suddenly realized that this celebration must be the reason for the decorations and heavy traffic. And, it seemed, she had arrived just in time to be smack in the middle of it all.

    Leaning against the trunk of a tree, Maressa recalled festivals and fairs that she attended when she was a child. The colorful costumes, eating little else but pastries, and running off with Psyduck while her parents yelled at her to stay close to them.

    “What do you think, Gloom?” she asked. “A festival sounds like it would be a lot of fun, but I don’t think we’ll have time for that. Maybe someday, though, we could come back here with Sarah. And her Pokemon and my Pokemon and you could all get together. Would that be fun?” Gloom made no reply, but just sat, content to fall asleep in Maressa’s arms.

    +++++++++++++++++

    Golduck’s arms were crossed on top of the edge of the tank, his head resting on them. His crimson eyes were dull and drooping, and he took little notice of any Pokemon that went up to him and tried to get his attention.

    “He’s been like that for days,” Dan noted.

    “Because he hasn’t seen his trainer for days,” Matt replied. “Her Sharpedo and Lanturn have been behaving like this too. We have to do something quickly, or they’ll realize that their trainer is gone.”

    Dan turned his hazel eyes back to his commander. “Are you still planning on going back and getting her?”

    Matt hesitated, and after a moment replied, “I want to retrieve her and find out if she’s given Team Magma any information about us. Even though we evacuated our bases, none of them have been attacked, so I don’t know whether or not she’s told them anything yet. I want to find out if she has and then act from there. And I think I want to bring him with us.” He finished with pointing his finger at the lonesome Golduck.

    Dan started. “Take her Golduck with us? But if she has given them any information—“

    “We won’t know until we find her,” Matt cut across. “We’ll find her and bring her back here and act from there. But by the sound of it, the Magma base she was captured on was fairly large, and we won’t be able to afford to stay there for long. If we bring her Golduck with us, rescuing her will be all the easier.”

    “Why?”

    Matt’s blue eyes glinted as he eyed Dan critically. “Do you realize how far a Pokemon or its trainer will go for each other? I realize that you haven’t known your Huntail for very long,” he continued as he turned his eyes back to the upset Golduck hanging over the edge of the tank, “but if a Pokemon realizes his trainer is in danger, he’ll do anything to get her back.” He smiled as he mused, “It’s because of my Sharpedo that I’m still here today.”

    “Care to elaborate?” Dan pressed when the commander had stopped talking.

    Matt shrugged. “I used to be an underwater construction worker, and one day I made a mistake and almost drowned. As soon as my Sharpedo realized I was in danger, he got me out of it and everything was okay.

    “So yeah,” he went on, ignoring Dan’s inquiries for more details, “if we get that Golduck to come with us, I don’t think we’ll have too much of a problem getting in and out of there quickly.

    “Besides, her Pokemon won’t help us if she isn’t with us. And if she has given Team Magma information about us, we’ll just have to get rid of them both.”
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2015
  5. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Huh, it looks like I completely missed chapter seven. Not sure how that happened. Guess we'll do both all at once, then.

    Chapter 7

    I'd say "Claydol groaned" here, since it's the beginning of the scene and we don't know who's talking yet.

    I love this line because it says a lot about Derek and Maressa both. It's one thing for a character to say they consider their pokémon to be friends, or that they treat them the same as people, but it's little gestures like this that really show it. On the other hand, the fact that Derek's surprised suggests that he doesn't quite view his pokémon as people in the same way Maressa does--the implication is that talking directly to Claydol isn't something he would have thought to do. If you just wanted him to be impressed because it's unusual for people to interact with pokémon like that, not necessarily because it's something he wouldn't do, it would be better to add something like "He almost never saw people ask pokémon direct questions like that."

    "Ravaged" is a bit dramatic for someone's facial expression changing. Sounds painful.

    I think someone else mentioned that Derek comes across pretty sexist, and it's cringeworthy sentences like this one that really reinforce that. If it wasn't your intent for Derek to come across as a misogynist, it's statements like these you've got to watch.

    Kinda rich of her to be hassling Derek about that when she herself didn't seem to have much of an idea what Aqua was up to until quite recently.

    "Verified" is a weird speech tag in general, but you would ordinarily only use it for a factual statement where the speaker is actually verifying something ("Yes, that's correct."). By asking the question, Derek's hoping to verify something.

    Tying in with your contest entry, I see.

    Iiii think you meant covered her face with her hand.

    I don't think "unrequited" is the word you were going for here.

    Why?

    Like with a semicolon, you don't capitalize the first letter after a colon.

    You want to reword this; the way it's constructed now, Maressa's eyes aren't wide with shock, Derek is.

    "Egged" isn't really a dialogue tag. I think you might want to dial your dialogue tags back a bit in general, and use "said" more often; when you're reaching for weird ones like this, it's usually about that time. It's clear Courtney's egging Tabitha on from what she said.

    Also, typo: "rough," not "ruff."

    When you break a sentence of dialogue in half like this, the second part doesn't start with a capital letter. So:

    “Right. But,” he added as a last thought, “do you really have to talk to me like this? Can’t you and I be more professional with each other?”

    If the part after the break were its own, standalone sentence, then capitalizing the first letter would be correct. But since it's just a continuation of the first part, it's not capitalized.

    Btw elipses only have three dots, not four, even when you would ordinarily end the sentence in a period.

    Anyway, you wondered whether nothing much happened this chapter. On the one hand, there's nothing wrong with taking a chapter or two off for calmer scenes that focus primarily on character interaction. There are times where you need to keep the tension up and the pace relentless from chapter to chapter, but I don't think this is one of them, nor necessarily that kind of story in any case. Further, "stuff happening" isn't necessarily about characters moving from one place to another or action as such; sometimes the most important stuff is happening in the characters' heads without their external circumstances changing much. I'd say that's the case with this chapter: it's really about how Derek's feelings about Maressa change.

    That said, I think it could use a little tightening up. There's nothing wrong with what this chapter is, but I think you might have spent a little too long with it here and included some stuff that it might perhaps be better to cut. In particular the scene at the end with Tabitha feels a bit out of place. I think I know what you're doing with it--trying to give an explanation for why Maressa and Derek have so much time to interact without her getting tortured, but I don't know that it's really the best solution. Tabitha's excuses really do sound like excuses, and I can't imagine that they would hold up if Maxie were actually interested in the information she had to offer. As Courtney pointed out, the value of what she knows degrades very, very rapidly; they really should have tried to interrogate her as soon as they thought she was physically capable of standing up to it. If they aren't particularly interested in the information she has to offer, then she's nothing more than a liability; patching her up and keeping her fed is doing no more than wasting resources. I think rather than a conversation where you, through Tabitha, try to logic your way out of it, it might be better to attack the problem a different way. One possibility would be to keep the amount of time Maressa's been around more vague; right now it looks like almost a week? Maybe a little more than a week? If you were less explicit about how long it's taking Derek to come to his decision about helping her escape, I probably would have imagined it happening within a couple of days and not thought too much of it. Alternatively, make it more clear what they think they can get out of her that would be valuable despite the time delay--something about the team's long-term strategies, for example, or something else they can't easily change in response to her going missing. In that case, you'd need to have some reason they're convinced she'd know that, too. Or perhaps they're not primarily keeping her for information at all, but e.g. Tabitha really, really wants her on Team Magma because of how she battles and is really, really convinced he can get her to join if he works on her long enough. Obviously she and Derek would still have to think he was still going to torture her even if he had no intention of doing so, but that would probably be easy to arrange. In any case, I think the current conversation with Tabitha highlights my questions more than it puts them to rest.

    Nonetheless, the little bit with Tabitha and Mightyena at the end was defiitely cute. I have a feeling we'll be seeing plenty of Tabitha in the future since you won't be able to resist writing more about those two. :p

    In a similar vein, the first conversation between Maressa and Derek felt a little strained, like you wanted to make their motivations clear ("Why is Maressa in Team Aqua, anyway?") and seized this as an opportunity to get it all out. It can be really hard to shape a conversation so it comes across as two people genuinely talking rather than asking the appropriate questions to reveal what the author wants revealed, but this one felt a bit stilted and exposition-y to me. One thing to consider, maybe, is that you don't need to have everything come out at once. You'll have plenty of opportunities for the characters to reflect, one way or another, on why they're a part of their respective teams.

    I did like the bits about Maressa trying to teach her pokémon calculus and she and Derek discussing college--the latter because it sounded more like normal banter and the former because it's a very specific, effective piece of characterization. You see plenty of stories with trainers who are close to their pokémon, they're good battlers, best friends, etc., but there's often not a lot of specific detail to back that up; they're just generically good friends. Having a calculus-loving character who tries to share that passion with her pokémon, on the other hand, is very unusual, and gives a wonderful sense of who Maressa is as a person. A lot of effective characterization is finding the pertinent details like this, details that set your character apart from everyone else and make them a unique individual, and you nailed it in that part.

    Anyway, my overall impression of this chapter is that it did what it needed to do. You needed to show Derek coming to the decision that he would help Maressa escape, and I think you handled that just fine. There are some parts that I thought could be cut down a bit or removed, but I think it served its purpose just fine overall.

    Chapter 8

    I'm kind of wondering why he didn't tell her that was the plan earlier on. She could still have chosen to sneak out on her own even if he did.

    Misplaced modifier here. The way this is worded, "turning her head" refers to the Magma ship's head, not Maressa's. Something like "Turning her head, Maressa watched the Magma ship steadily shrink...". Here the object of "turning her head" is Maressa instead of "the Magma ship."

    So here we have the actual escape! I don't have a ton to say about this chapter, to be honest. I think it pretty much does what it needs to do, but despite the fact that it has more action than the previous chapter, I think it's actually more of a transition-y chapter than the last: Derek's already made his decision, so this chapter is just the playing-out of that and setting things up for whatever happens next. The little cliffhanger with Derek is interesting; unless someone already suspects him of having a hand in Maressa's escape (possible), I can't think of any reason he'd get put to sleep like that.

    Chapter 9

    Right before I was going to post my review. I guess that's what you call convenience!

    You have a lot of problems with commas and coordinating conjunctions in this chapter. There were one or two cases that I marked down in the past couple of chapters, but there were just a ton here, so I figured I'd talk about them now.

    Anyway, you use a comma and a conjunction (like "and" or "but") to join two pieces of a sentence that could stand as complete sentences on their own. The problem you're having is using a comma and conjunction to join two pieces that couldn't be complete sentences on their own.

    For example:

    "Could not see his pokémon" isn't a complete sentence, so rather than the comma and conjunction, you should leave it at "but:"

    Same thing here:

    "Passed a hand over his face as he closed his eyes" isn't a sentence, so:

    And you don't need the comma here:

    Those are just some examples; there were plenty more cases where the issue cropped up in this chapter in particular. Just something to be on the lookout for.

    The "his" in the second sentence actually refers to Derek and not Tabitha, so Derek's the one with eyes burning lividly, etc.

    "Countenance faded" is a strange way to put it; it sounds like his face is literally fading away. I think something like "relaxed" or "softened" would work better.

    Hmm, ominous!

    You probably meant "drop into her stomach." Also, don't capitalize after colons.

    Maybe make clear that Liz is Maressa's sister beforehand? I don't believe she's been mentioned before, so I was pretty confused as to why that particular name popped into Maressa's head until later when Maressa mentioned that she had the same last name. I was also kind of surprised that her sister wasn't one of the things she considered when she was thinking about times during her escape when she might have done things wrong--not only is she getting stuck with the hospital bill, but since Maressa was using her name, she might be getting a visit from the police later herself!

    It's "too risky," but then she does it anyway? I could see her deciding to take the chance anyway, but here she kind of goes straight from "nah, too risky" to climbing out the window without any indication that evaluation's taken place.

    When you have a participial phrase ("Starting the car") like this, set off by a comma, it indicates that the action there is happing simultaneously with whatever's going on in the phrase it's attached to. Like "She brushed her bangs out of her eyes, fixing him with a vicious glare," the woman's brushing and glaring at the same time. This sentence reads funny because Maressa can't simultaneously be starting the car and driving down the road in a flash.

    This line tripped me up, since up to this point "the two men" has been referring to the two thieves, so I spent a while trying to figure out where the third dude had come from, not realizing one of "the two" was the policeman.

    I'm kind of surprised she doesn't know this. I'd have expected this to have come up for her at some point before now. Hasn't she ever seen a cop show on TV or something?

    Overall, I enjoyed Maressa's escape from the hospital. It was a nice mixture of action and a little humor from how absurd her situation is--it's not too often that a character in a hospital gown punches out a couple of guys, steals their car, and then ends up accidentally crashing a drug deal and taking out both the dealers and the police. It's certainly a memorable sequence, and for the most part I think it works. There were a couple of things that felt a little off to me about it, though. First, Maressa's leg injury and physical condition just kind of disappeared throughout most of the chase scene. She's almost as badly off in this chapter as she was when she first ended up on the Magma ship--her leg's healed a bit, but she's starving and still dehydrated after being picked up off the beach, so she's going to be tired and weak on top of still having her leg wound to worry about. And running anywhere in the city without any shoes would be extremely painful (and rather dangerous) for anyone not used to it.

    That's not to say that it would be impossible for her to pull this off, and a bit of adrenaline can go a long way towards making crazy feats possible. I just would have liked to have seen a little more acknowledgement of how much it's costing Maressa to run around like that, both during and after her escape.

    Also, the thieves in the bathroom were a little off to me. If they were loaded with so much stuff (and they were loaded--tons of cash, vitamins, evolution stones, technical machines), it seems like they'd probably be able to take better care of themselves and pick a more savory meeting spot than that bathroom. Maressa running across them like she did was a little convenient (although since it was originally a problem for her, I don't think that's a serious issue), but her then getting this huge stash of stuff off them seemed a bit over the top. The evolution stones in particular struck me as too convenient; I know Maressa expresses that she doesn't intend to evolve gloom, but in trainer 'fics you almost always have some contrived reason pop up for the pokémon to evolve anyway ("oopsie I dropped the stone and my pokémon picked it up/he was going through my stuff and found it/etc. and now he's a sparkly belossom"). I don't know whether you were trying to set up for that kind of situation to happen in the future, but even if not, the fact that these random thugs Maressa ran across happened to be outrageously loaded seemed a bit too convenient to me.

    Extra "had" at the beginning of this sentence.

    Just as an aside, you're going kind of heavy on the elipses in this chapter. They're definitely effective in the proper place, but when you use too many of them it starts to give your writing a sort of dreamy, distant feeling. Also, I'll reiterate what I said earlier about elipses always having three dots, not four.

    Gloom's been an "it" for the rest of the chapter, so it's kind of jarring to see him referred to as "he" in this paragraph (and then back to "it" later).

    They... haven't figured that out yet? I'd expect the ship to have sailed on the Aquas being able to trick them into thinking there was nothing wrong. It also seems a bit late to be mounting a rescue mission; just as the value of a hostage's information diminishes quite dramatically over a short span of time, so does the chance that you'll be able to recover one from the opposing team...

    Either the dialogue is "So yeah, if we get that Golduck...", in which case the "I" in "if" shouldn't be capitalized, or it's "So yeah. If we get that golduck...", in which case there should be a period after "details" instead of a comma.

    Anyway, I like this chapter overall. As I mentioned, I thought the escape sequence went pretty well, and it's nice to see what's up with Team Aqua and Golduck in particular. The bit with Derek felt a little tacked on, since it was less something happening with him than it was resolving why he got knocked out at the end of the last chapter and establishing that something might happen to him in the future, but other than that I think it's pretty solid.

    It looks like you might be setting up a kind of "ships passing in the night" situation with Maressa and Golduck--she'll manage to get back to the Aqua base, only to discover that her pokémon are gone with the team who's gone off to look for her at the Magma base. Whether that's the intent or not, I look forward to seeing where that goes, since I'm interested to see how Maressa's pokémon operate when they have to try to work together with humans who aren't their trainer. I also sense that there will be more Maressa/pokémon interaction in the future, too, which will be great; in general, you write really adorable scenes of pokémon and their trainers, like the bit with Maressa and Gloom in this chapter. I sense there will be more of those in the upcoming part of the story, and it'll be extra-touching when Maressa finally manages to reunite with her own team.

    Looking over these past three chapters, I think the story is developing well. There's both a clear indication of where things are going and a sense that the story is moving forward rather than going in circles. It will be interesting to see how you resolve Maressa and Derek's respective arcs; there are a lot of different ways you could go with them (from them personally escaping the teams, to one of them deciding to stay loyal, to them even managing to put a serious dent in Magma/Aqua's plan somehow), and I don't know which one you're going for yet, which is great. I think you've given yourself plenty to work with over the past three chapters, and as long as you keep moving forward you can write your way into a satisfying end.

    Anyway, by my guess we're probably around halfway done with the story, so good luck getting the rest done. It's all downhill from here!
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2015
  6. Umbramatic

    Umbramatic The Ghost Lord

    'Bout time I caught up with this. Review systems GO!

    Chapter 7

    First off, I really love that this chapter is from Derek's perspective, since it gets some insight into him and what he thinks of Maressa and how they're kind of parallels and I totally ship the- *shot*

    But yeah, if you didn't intend those things mentioned by Sike and Negrek to be sexist they should go. Also...

    If the bolded line is implying what I think it is and they sometimes kill returned prisoners for no good reason I seriously wonder why Derek or any other Magma member stays loyal for any reason other than fear.

    Also your Tabitha is old-school Tabitha and while it's hardly detrimental to your story I felt I should note it's slightly jarring after ORAS' depiction, and it's kinda similar with the other Admins too.

    Though I can probably just rationalize this story as being a branch of the original RSE timeline if Zinnia's theory is correct so it's not too much of a problem.

    Chapter 8


    I like this Breloom.

    No real problems with this chapter; the botched escape attempt was fun and as Sike said nice double cliffhanger.

    Chapter 9

    As Negrek said, the escape scene was a lot of fun! I did had a feeling of "maressa wut r u doin" throughout, though, since I have the sinking feeling she's just making things worse for herself.

    Also:

    1. That Gloom is adorable.

    2. Wonder what those Pokemon that helped her were.

    3. The ending... reinforces the worry I had with Derek earlier, only now with Team Aqua.

    But yeah. If Negrek is right and this is about halfway through, -or even if not- looking forward to seeing the rest of the plot unfold.
     
  7. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    Thanks! I really want to get across that Maressa cares deeply for her Pokemon, though I know the lack of her interacting with them makes that a lot less convincing and harder to show. And fixed; I added a bit similar to what you said.


    I was going for drama. Hence the failure. Fixed.

    Aghghg I didn't mean any of this, but you and Sike and Umbramatic are all right >_< I think I put this bit in and the other bit so that he wasn't all "Oh this poor woman she goes through so much pity pity cry cry" and it just ended up being, well... you know. Fixed.

    Yeah... But hey, no one's perfect, amirite? Or does this just make her less likeable?


    Oh good gravy yes I did. Fixed.


    I've gone through everything you've pointed out and fixed them all, but this is by far the most embarrassing typo I have ever made to date.


    Really? I feel sure that I've been seeing elipses that take place in the middle of a sentence have three dots and ones that end a sentence have four (I think we even went over this in one of my high school English classes for when we were turning in papers). Huh...

    This is what I was hoping it to be; I included this chapter because, well, I thought it was essential. I didn't think Derek's decision to help Maressa escape would really be convincing or make any sense unless the two really got to know each other, so that's what I tried to do here. I just said that "not much happens" because everyone just stays aboard Team Magma's base and talks to each other, and I understand that a lot of people might think that boring (I personally enjoy reading action-oriented scenes more at least half of the team).

    I tried to do this (I wasn't even thinking a week, maybe just a few days) because I honestly don't know how much time for her to be there would be sensible. Is a week good? Or only three days? How much time before they decide "screw this, let's tie cinderblocks to her feet chuck her overboard"? (not that they would actually do that, but you get the point)

    Yeah... I wasn't really sure what to do, because I really didn't want them getting rid of/torturing her too soon. I don't really have a good answer for this :/

    You're right. I can't. Can you take a guess as to what my favorite Pokemon is? :p

    Gotcha. I did re-write the scene between them several times, since I wanted to get everything out but I also wanted it to seem like them becoming friends would be believable. That, and people have been telling me that my scenes with interactions between characters have been relatively strong to my other scenes, so I guess I just thought that it would work out. Oops :\

    Oh, uh, thanks ^_^; As said before, I did want her and them to seem good friends, and since she's left without them for a good chunk of the story, I want to get that across when I can.

    Yay :D Thanks so much for your feedback! I'm glad I managed to accomplish something lol

    I'm honestly kinda confused as to what you're asking.

    Oh, the end was more of a cliffhanger than I had intended, especially since it seems like the opening scene of chapter 9 was a disappointment. Maybe I should get rid of this part? I did it because he was all "oh noez she's gone without a boat and she'll die what am I gonna do she's dead and it's my fault." I just feel like if someone had seen him in that state of shock/horror and heard him blabbering like that then his cover would be blown, and since his Pokemon really don't want that Breloom would just decide to put him to sleep and try to pass it off as he fainted from realizing that the prisoner he was supposed to be watching escaped.

    Too convoluted? Would the chapter just be better without it?

    I knew there was some divine power prompting me to post this chapter at that moment!

    All I'm going to say here is good gravy did I drop the ball on grammar in this chapter (and I initially wrote "grammar" as "grammer" >-<). Looked for what you pointed out and (hopefully) fixed them, but knowing it's me this is probably still a trainwreck.


    VERY MUCH SO.
    A little bit of trivia I just want to throw in here in case anyone wants to spend another 20 seconds of ther life: The dream she has before she woke up is something from the very first draft of Drowning. It was initially something different, and since I saved that deleted scene and thought that the description was half-way decent, I'd just put that into a dream since she just narrowly escaped dying in the ocean twice. It doesn't really make any sense, but eh.


    Probably notoriously bad planning on my part. I initially DID have Maressa thinking about what her parents would think but then wrote it out, and then I just decided to write in her having a sister because of this scene. So yeah, I should either edit an earlier chapter or get this little bit out.

    Woops. Fixed. Which is really odd that I didn't catch that until you mentioned it; I must have been thinking in the opposite direction (but it was too risky to stay there, or something).


    ... Maybe? :I

    Oops... Yeah, I'll have to change that. Totally didn't catch that, and I don't know why -_-

    This is all thanks to me being the worst planner in the world lol. Honestly, did plan to have it as it is now (I fixed it), but while I was writing I think I would just include those things so that she could have those if she needed them.... but she really doesn't need them, which I realized as soon as I read your post. Even if she had them, and I kept them in, she never would have used or found a use for them anyway. So yeah. My bad, and fixed (I hope).



    I would expect that Team Aqua would want to hide it from her Pokemon that she was gone so that they could, at least, still use her Pokemon until they see that her Pokemon aren't helping them or performing nearly as well when she's not around (kinda like some animals will go into depression if their owners are gone for too long). That, and their decision to rescue/bring her back now was to stem from "none of our bases have been raided or attacked, so maybe she's stayed loyal and held out against them," and I feel like they would value that loyalty enough to try and get her back (and save whatever information she has while they still can).

    Mmmmaaaaaybe....


    Oh, thanks ^_^;

    Thanks so much again! It does feel good to write this, and while I have the climax and falling action, I still don't exactly know how I want the resolution to work out. But I've got a while.

    Is it? I actually don't know, lol. It doesn't FEEL halfway done, that's for sure. But thanks so much for all of your feedback and support! I admit, I'm a little confused as to why I keep seeing you coming back here, but no complaints! It's always great to have someone review my work and offer all the help that you do :)


    How were you going to end that sentence? :p
    But yeah, I think it's keeps things a bit fresh by changing perspectives and not always having it from Maressa's. And part of the reason I made Derek a boy is so that we can have some boy perspective and not just everything from the eyes of a girl.

    Well, I more included that since it's more off "I don't know what the worst is and I don't want to think about what it could be." Kill is a bit too harsh for Derek's mind, and so I left it more ambiguous.

    I... don't really understand what you're saying. I haven't played ORAS, but the Tabitha here is supposed to be the one from the anime (looks just like the one from the original Gen III games), in case that clears anything up!

    Thanks! Glad you liked him (I was really hoping someone would find that entertaining!) and it!

    Well, going back to Team Aqua will have risks, definitely, but she has get to her Pokemon, right?

    I'm not really sure where you're getting this from... can you point it out?

    Great minds think alike (if you consider Archie and Maxie great minds, anyway).

    Thanks! It's great to see you back, and I hope I can write this to what will be a satisfying end for you!
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2015
  8. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Oh, nah. I tend to like characters who mess up and otherwise aren't on 100% of the time more than those who are generically "nice;" they're more interesting to me.

    i c wat u did there

    As far as I can tell, the four-dot variant of an ellipsis is only used in formal papers where you're using the mark to indicate omitted material, and then only in certain cases. I've never seen four dots used in fiction.

    Ehhh, it really depends on what they're expecting to get out of her. Like I said, if their ultimate goal was some information that wasn't likely to change over time/couldn't be changed on short notice, they might hang onto her for a while (or if they though they could get some other value out of her, e.g. trade for a hostage Team Aqua has). Otherwise, I dunno, probably two or three days? There's every indication that they don't often capture members of Aqua and therefore rarely have the opportunity to ask questions, so I'd really expect them to try and make some accommodations to take advantage of this windfall.

    Well, seeing as you told me earlier... XD

    When Derek rushes out, Maressa sits around being confused because she assumed he was going to show her the way out and help her get started. I was just wondering why Derek hadn't already made this explicit ("My pokemon are going to create a distraction, and then I'm going to show you the way out..."). I was pointing out that the scene would still work fine if she was instead confused because she knew she was supposed to go with him, but then decided to just leave herself anyway.

    I think it's fine. There's not a super-dramatic resolution to the cliffhanger, but I don't think there needs to be, either.

    Oh yeah, I get why they'd try to mislead the pokemon like that. I was just surprised that her pokemon still buy the excuse even though it's been several days now since they've seen Maressa, since I assume she tries not to leave them alone for anywhere approaching that long under ordinary circumstances.

    /late yup

    Hope the next chapter's going well!
     
  9. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    c: People can have doubts about my credibility as a writer, but you can't say that I don't learn!

    Hm. Admittedly, I never looked or noticed whether or not they're used in fiction. Once I learned the formal way, it became habit and now I do it all the time.


    All of these things have crossed my mind, and anyway I was figuring it was three-to-four days that she spent there. My only issue was that I wanted her to actually know Derek enough to where she could say they were friends, and for a while I didn't know if a few days is enough. And even if she didn't give them information that depreciated quickly, then Team Magma could torture her in front of the rest of their team to make an example of what happens to Team Aqua members/traitors or (as you pointed out) hold onto her so they have something to exchange in case one of their members is taken hostage.

    Oh, that's right, I did! I'm still waiting for that excerpt by the way (never mind the fact you never promised it

    Okay, gotcha. I oughta go and fix that.


    I figured with a job like Team Aqua I'd assume that some people would be gone a long time, but as I never made that clear and it's perfectly fair to assume otherwise I can see where you're coming from.

    Thanks, and same to you!

    Hello again! Sorry it's been close to two months, but with finals and my computer getting a virus things were pushed back considerably. But since school is out, hopefully I'll have more time to write! Anyway, here's the latest chapter.

    Chapter 10

    Black waters passed by the windows as the little submarine cruised through the depths. Inside the vessel, a group of Aqua members stood at attention before their commander.

    “Does everyone understand what they’re supposed to do?” Matt asked the small squadron. When everyone answered in the affirmative, he nodded, turning his head to look out the window, the gears in his mind turning steadily as he thought of the night ahead.

    At a window near the front of the submarine, Golduck stood looking out, thinking solely on the task at hand.

    He had never completely calmed down after the humans had told him that Maressa had been captured. Though he was no longer firing blasts of water or psychic energy, beating down anyone in his way in his attempt to get to sea so he could chase after the enemy and rescue his human, a fire still burned within him. And though the gist of his anger was at the people and Pokemon who had captured Maressa, he wasn’t happy with Team Aqua for waiting so long to tell him of Maressa’s ordeal.

    But he would see her soon. Of that, he was sure—though neither Lanturn nor Sharpedo were able to accompany him on to the enemy base, he was confident that he would be able to get Maressa out. And she would be okay; she wasn’t the type of person to break down or lose hope.

    He started as he saw a bright light outside the window. It grew, and he was able to glimpse a Lanturn swimming before the submarine passed it by.

    He sighed; he knew that Sharpedo and Lanturn would have wanted to come, and he would have liked their help in this. And what of Seaking? Golduck assumed that he was with Maressa, as no one had seen him and nothing had been said of him. Even though he didn’t like to think of his friend captured and facing whatever the enemy had in store, his heart did lighten at the prospect of seeing Seaking again.

    Turning back to the group of blue-clad humans, he studied them, contemplating and thinking of how strong or weak they would be. Were they reliable? It didn’t matter; all that mattered was that he would get to Maressa soon.

    +++++++++++

    The Swellow chirped sharply, jerking its wing away. Flecks of blood flew from the injury, and the Pokemon hopped away as it glared angrily up at Derek.

    “I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” he apologized while mentally berating himself for treating his patient too harshly. “I didn’t mean to pull that hard—come back here, I promise it won’t happen again.”

    Eyeing him warily, the Flying-type hopped over to him, holding its wounded wing gently. Derek worked on it, trying to keep his mind off of what might have possibly happened to Maressa and instead on trying to treat the Swellow. Ever since it had been pulled beneath the waves and man-handled by that Tentacruel, one of its wings had been ripped and cut up so badly that it could hardly get off the ground.

    “There,” he said as he finished applying the bandage. “Oh, don’t look at me like that. I’ve been doing a good job so far, haven’t I? Why do you think this wouldn’t work out so well? Come on, I’ll take you back to Nate.” With a shrug, the Pokemon hopped onto Derek’s outstretched arm as he pulled off his gloves, stood up and began to walk out of the clinic.

    All the while as he walked the corridors, his mind kept on turning back to Maressa, and for a reason he could not explain, the conversations he had been holding with her. He had gotten excited when she mentioned she enjoyed hiking, and he had been thinking—when the feud between Team Aqua and Team Magma was over, of course—of inviting her to join him in going to Johto and climbing Mt. Silver.

    He came to a grey door, and without even knocking, opened it up and walked right in to see Nate bending over his phone.

    “Hey, Nate,” he said as the sandy-haired man glanced up. “I’ve got your Swellow.”

    Nate smiled when he saw his Pokemon. The Swellow hopped off of Derek’s arm and happily glided on to its owner’s shoulder.

    “What are you doing?” Derek asked him.

    “Trying to get my Ampharos to evolve.”

    “But Ampharos can’t evolve.”

    “In this game, Ampharos Evolution, they can. It’s pretty addicting. Anyway, did you ever get your Pokemon back?” he asked Derek.

    “Yeah, I did. After the boss cleared me, my Pokemon were sent back.”

    “What about you? Did you get into any trouble for what happened?”

    Derek shrugged. “My pay is reduced, and now I’m only supposed to go where they tell me to.”

    “Isn’t that how it was before?”

    “Pretty much, but before it was just implied where here it’s stated outright.” He shook his head. “There really wasn’t much else they could do to me, not if they still wanted a medic working for the—“ he suddenly stopped as an alarmed, panicked sensation shot throughout his body.

    “What is it?” Nate asked, concerned as Derek suddenly put a hand to his forehead and his eyes darted around restlessly.

    “I don’t know—Claydol just sent me a warning, but he hasn’t told me what it is yet. I’m going to go back to him, and make sure my Pokemon are okay.” Without another word, he flew out the door and headed back to the medical room.

    “Claydol!” he exclaimed as he burst into the room and saw the earthen doll floating before him. “What’s happening? Where are the others?”

    The Ground-type started rumbling urgently, but he mainly sent information to Derek through memories of the past few minutes. Derek saw a group of men and women wearing black-and-white striped shirts coming up from the lower decks of the ship. They moved swiftly and as quietly as they could, taking out Magma guards when their backs were turned.

    Tearing himself away from Claydol’s thoughts, Derek frantically wondered, “But how did they get on? Shouldn’t the alarm have gone off?”

    Images of guards asleep at their posts poured from Claydol’s mind into Derek’s own.

    Angrily, Derek asked, “Did you do this?” When the Pokemon replied in the affirmative, Derek spat between gritted teeth, “Dammit, Claydol, I’m still a member of Team Magma! We aren’t supposed to take them out, we only told Maressa that stuff so that she could still be trusted by her team! Now we have members of Team Aqua infiltrating this base and you’ve only been helping them! No, I don’t care if they have Crawdaunts with them,” he raged as Claydol sent images of numerous crustaceans with stars adorning their heads scuttling alongside the Aqua members. “You should have at least told someone who would be able to fight them if you can’t! Why did you do this? Stop trying to show me your memories—just give me a straightforward answer!”

    But Claydol was showing more than just memories; he was giving Derek his ideas and reasons. At first, all Derek saw was a Golduck slipping through the passageways, leaping up on guards and knocking them and their Pokemon unconscious. Tabitha and the others will realize soon what has happened. We need to give this one a chance to know what has really happened, what Maressa actually wants to do.

    Derek tore his mind away from Claydol once again, thinking hard. They had a Golduck with them—Maressa had a Golduck too, and she hardly seemed to stop talking about him.

    “Maressa,” he realized. He looked into Claydol’s glowing red eyes. “That’s why they’re here, aren’t they? To retrieve her? And that’s her Golduck—they must have brought him to help them find her. But how—” At that moment, he was cut off by blaring sirens and red lights flooding the rooms. His heart sank; if Team Aqua was caught, they would likely just try to leave as quickly as possible, and he would have no way to let Golduck know what happened to Maressa.

    Sensing his human’s thoughts, Claydol groaned hopefully. Golduck wouldn’t leave, he let Derek know. He would try to tear through every inch of this Magma base until he found his trainer.

    “Are you sure about that?” Derek asked skeptically.

    Claydol moaned again, telling his trainer that it’s what he would do for Derek.

    Taken aback—and rather touched—Derek gave a small, “Wow… Thank you.

    “But we don’t have time for that,” he called over the blaring sirens. “We need to find Golduck and tell him!” Derek ran out into the hallway, and stopped. Which way was he to go? Upon examining Claydol’s memories again, he noted the way that the Aqua members were taking to get to the upper decks. Taking himself away from Claydol’s mind, he sprinted through the hallways and began to give chase.

    “Where are Breloom and Golbat?” he asked as he ran along. Floating beside him, Claydol explained that he had told them as soon as he saw the Aqua members coming, and the two had gone to help the other Magma members.

    “Nuzleaf, use pound! I SAID POUND!”

    Derek heard trainers urgently shouting ahead, and had turned a corner just in time to see a Nuzleaf get whipped by a thick blue tail and slam into a wall. The Grass-type slid to the floor, unconscious. Magma members let out yelps of surprise and fear as a human-sized, azure creature bowled them over.

    “Wait—stop!” Derek called as the Golduck tackled him to the ground and took off running down the hall. Getting up, Derek sprinted after him, calling, “I know who you’re looking for—I know what’s happened to Maressa!”

    The lake monster turned back, and as its vermilion eyes met Derek’s, the human fell to his knees as he felt a splitting headache come on. He had no doubt of the source of the headache—he could feel the Golduck’s anger and distrust, but just as apparent were his desperation, longing, and concern. Derek tried to communicate with him as he did with Claydol, to use feelings and memories rather than words, but Golduck’s psychic abilities were much rougher and less refined than Claydol’s. When Derek tried to communicate, the Water-type pressed harder with his mental force. Feeling as though his head might split open, Derek let out a cry: “Please! Listen!”

    Suddenly, the headache stopped. Derek lay on the ground, gasping at the sudden cessation of pain, though the faint tingling of an alien mind lingered. Looking up, he saw Golduck and Claydol staring at each other. Through his mental link with his Pokemon, he could see that the two were engaged in a struggle, and though Golduck fought with indignation, worry and love, he was far outmatched by Claydol.

    Tears were streaming from Golduck’s eyes as he stood, immobilized, frustrated that his attempt to save his owner had come to a grinding halt, and there was nothing he could do about it.

    “Claydol, stop! Let me talk to him! Don’t argue—trust me!” he urged as his Pokemon groaned skeptically. “Just link my mind with his. Please; there are things I know that he should see. I know I can do this. I’ll be fine.”

    Reluctantly, Claydol did his trainer’s bidding, letting go of his psychic hold on the Water-type and allowing both Derek’s and Golduck’s minds to flow freely into his. Acting as a medium between them, he could allow the two to communicate.

    Once Claydol stopped pinning down Golduck’s mind, Derek felt a stabbing mental force again. Gritting his teeth, he concentrated with all of his might on an image of Maressa. Golduck’s attack lessened, and Derek brought forth more memories—of when he first saw Connor carrying her into the medical room, of him treating her wound day after day, and of the conversations the two had. Golduck had halted his offensive entirely, and just observed Derek’s memories, absorbing their meaning.

    Derek only showed flashes of the memories; he knew he didn’t have much time before the other Team Magma members showed up. He focused on Maressa’s doubts about Team Aqua, and quickly turned to the conversation he and Maressa held of her plans for what would happen once she got out of there.

    After this last memory, Claydol cut Golduck off from himself and Derek. Golduck looked down at Derek, still lying on the ground, eyeing him coldly.

    “Please understand,” he whispered. “I would never want to hurt her—I did everything that I thought would help her. She should be on her way back to the Team Aqua base now and be waiting for you.”

    He evenly met the Pokemon’s gaze, trying to get across his sincerity, but he was unable to read the Water-type’s expression.

    “Razor Wind!”

    Derek felt a wind ruffle his hair as it blew just above him. Golduck snapped his gaze upward, and dropped to the ground to dodge the blades of air. Derek turned his head around to see a troop of Team Magma members, all drenched to the bone, filling the hallway. A Nuzleaf stood at the fore of the group with a lump popping out on the back of its head and an angry red welt on the side of its face. Upon seeing the Nuzleaf, Golduck hopped over Derek and immediately charged towards it. The Grass-type’s face flooded with fear, and it gave out a frightened call as Golduck lifted it bodily off the ground and used it to whack the knees of the nearest Magma member.

    Dropping the Pokemon, Golduck barreled his way through the group, shooting jets of water and beams of psychic energy before emerging through and thundering down the hallway.

    Leaning his head back on the ground, Derek gazed blankly up at the ceiling. Brain throbbing from the mental battle with Golduck, he tried to let his mind rest, but couldn’t stop thinking from everything that had transpired. He winced when Claydol sent a questioning thought to him, soon followed by an apology.

    “I told him everything I needed to, Claydol,” he said to the earthen doll. “I just hope he can get out of here and find her.”

    ++++++++

    Tabitha sprinted through the corridors, fuming as he and Mightyena tackled down any Aqua members or aquatic Pokemon they came across. Though he had told his team leader of Maressa’s escape as soon as it had happened, Maxie still hadn’t decided on his punishment. Tabitha had spent the past few sleepless hours overwrought with anxiety, and having his base infiltrated did not lighten his mood.

    Although, he admitted as he punched out a Team Aqua grunt, this sort of action does take my mind off things.

    Hearing a squeal of pain, he looked up and gasped as he saw Mightyena fly into a metal wall.

    “Mightyena!” he shouted. His worry was groundless, however, for the canine immediately got up and snarled at the oncoming opponent.

    Looking ahead, Tabitha smirked as he saw a man whose belly hung over his blue pants stride forward. “Matt,” he mused. “I should have figured. No one else would be sneaking around like this. What’s wrong? Too cowardly to attack us in the open?”

    The Team Aqua commander sneered. “ ‘Too cowardly?’ Don’t forget that we’re in the open ocean; we just figured that you lot weren’t worth wasting our resources on.”

    “But it’s not us you’re here for, is it? Even though our corridors are tight, I can tell that you didn’t bring many team members here with you. But you were probably hoping to bring one back.” He surveyed the overweight man with his dark, penetrating eyes. “You’re here for Maressa, aren’t you?”

    Matt only smiled knowingly and admitted, “That’s right, we are. So if you hand her over, then we might leave without sinking your base.” His blue eyes gleamed as he added, “We have a horde of Sharpedo swimming around beneath your boat, and any one of them can tear through sheet metal as if it were paper. So if you want any chance of walking out of here alive, you’d best hand our team member back over.”

    “If you want Maressa back, you’ll have to get to her.” Smiling, he gestured to the empty hallway behind him. “I’ve got her locked up in a room back there, and I’m the only one with the key.” He held up a set of keys, watching the light reflect off of their dancing forms. “So if you want her, come and get her.”

    The Team Aqua commander cracked his knuckles. “Gladly.” He took a running start, but had only gone a few steps before a black ball of energy collided with his bare chest and thrust him several feet backwards, knocking him flat on his back. Mightyena stood protectively before Tabitha, snarling.

    Patting his companion, Tabitha praised, “Good boy!”

    But there was no time for anything else to be done, for Matt’s Crawdaunt scuttled towards his opponents with a vengeance. He was holding out his claws as water swirled around them and bubbles frothed from between the pincers.

    But Crawdaunt’s crabhammer never collided with the canine. Mightyena leaped and dodged, taking advantage of his greater agility to stay out of his enemy’s reach.

    Tabitha frowned as the crustacean’s claws crashed into the metal walls, leaving large dents. He gritted his teeth as he watched his Pokemon dodge the Crawdaunt’s weighty appendage. With Crawdaunt’s higher defenses and sharing the Dark type with Mightyena, there wasn’t much he could do, especially in this confined space. “Mightyena, end this quickly! Pin him down!”

    Ceasing his defensive strategy, Mightyena rushed towards the Crawdaunt and crashed into his foe. He let out an angry howl as his enemy’s crabhammer cracked down on his back, and the two were left in a heap on the ground. Shrugging off the attack and recoil damage, Mightyena stood up and planted his front feet against Crawdaunt, who was laying on his back with his short legs flailing in the air.

    “Good work. Now Mightyena, use hyper beam.”

    “Crawdaunt, no!”

    As an orange light emanated from a glowing orb between Mightyena’s jaws, Crawdaunt’s eyes briefly shone with fear before the beam hit his fleshy underside.

    Tabitha smiled grimly as he saw Matt recall the Pokemon. “Best get out of here while you still can.”

    Pocketing his Pokeball, the Aqua commander smiled. “I don’t think I’m the one in danger, here. Look around you.”

    Making sure that Mightyena kept his eyes on their foe, Tabitha turned his head to see grunts from both teams engaged in Pokemon battles. Attacks were ricocheting off the walls, causing damage. People were trying to run by each other, often getting hit by some Pokemon attack. Many Pokemon were looking around in confusion, trying to pick out which Pokemon they were supposed to fight. Others had given up trying to pinpoint a particular target and were just firing attacks randomly, filling the corridors with water or smoke.

    “I know that this place can’t sustain much more damage.” Tabitha turned his head back to Matt as the Aqua commander spoke. “So if you release Maressa, I’ll call off my team and we’ll leave you all in peace.”

    “I’m sure you will,” Tabitha replied with a sneer. “Though, I can’t help but wonder why you would want her back. After everything she’s told us, I have a hard time believing that Team Aqua would still find a use for her.”

    To his satisfaction, the grin on Matt’s face left at these words. “What did she tell you? What did you do to her?”

    Smiling, the Magma commander said, “Give us a few days and you’ll see. And all it took was verbal threats, her physical condition is fine. But now that you know she’s been helping us, do you really still want her? You might as well save yourself what time you have and just leave.”

    “We’ve come this far, we might as well take what’s ours! Go, Azumarill!” He tossed another Pokeball into the air and it burst open, revealing an Azumarill.

    “Azu!” she cried upon release. Narrowing her eyes, she smiled at Mightyena, who growled in response.

    “So you want to take Maressa back just so you can repay her for betraying you?”

    “I’m a firm believer in justice, so I’ve got to make sure that a traitor is rewarded as deserved. Now, Azumarill, use bubblebeam!”

    The aquatic Pokemon opened her mouth, and a stream of bubbles shot forward. Still worn out from using Hyper Beam, Mightyena couldn’t do more than stand his ground while the attack hit him.

    “Good, Azumarill! Now use—” Matt was cut off by sudden quacking. Tabitha saw a Golduck suddenly appear next to Matt. The aquatic creature was urgently quacking as though trying to tell Matt something.

    Azumarill and Mightyena both relayed what the Golduck said to their trainers, and Tabitha smiled as his lies were revealed.

    Matt raised his head, a smile playing on his face but his eyes burning with a mixture of amusement and fury. “She isn’t here, is she? You’ve been lying to me this whole time. Why? Trying to keep me fighting and hoping to take me as your new captive?”

    “You could say that.” Turning to Golduck, he stated, “You’re Maressa’s Golduck, aren’t you? You miss her, I can imagine. The way she fidgets with her fingers or crosses her arms when she’s nervous or uncomfortable, or how she’ll stand up and start shouting if the argument gets heated.”

    Golduck looked shocked at his words, and Tabitha grinned at the aquatic Pokemon’s surprise.

    “I admire your tenacity in coming here to save your trainer. But I can’t help but wonder why you waited this long to try and get her back. If the two of you are as close as I expected, I would have thought you to come here as soon as we took her prisoner, and not wait for the rest of Team Aqua to try and get her several days later.”

    Golduck had a moment to look shocked and horrified before turning to the Aqua Commander with eyes alight in anger. The gem on is head began to glow, and his shoulders were raised as his arms shook.

    “He’s lying, Golduck,” Matt said flatly as he glared at Tabitha.

    “Am I? You haven’t seen her for days, have you? Did they tell you that she spent almost all that time on her mission and was only captured by Team Magma in the last day or two?” He frowned. “I can see that Team Aqua would tell you this because they want your cooperation, but as her Pokemon, you at least have a right to know what’s happened to your trainer.” He smiled again. “But what does it really matter, in the end? She’s gone, off in the big blue sea, and if you want to see her ever again, you might as well start looking.”

    “Team Aqua, let’s move out!” Matt shouted, his calls echoing throughout the corridor.

    Tabitha smirked as he watched Matt start speaking into his headset. “You really think I’m going to let you off that easily?”

    Matt stopped speaking into his headset and glared at his enemy. “You shouldn’t have lied to me. For your sake, I hope you have a competent second-in-command here. Take him out, Azumarill!”

    Tabitha braced himself for whatever attack might come, and Mightyena protectively jumped in front of his trainer. But rather than hurling her body at them or flooding the hallway, Azumarill filled the air with a melodious hymn. The music filtered through Tabitha’s mind, and he had a second to realize that the Azumarill was using the move sing before his eyes rolled up into his head and his body crashed into the ground.

    ++++++++

    Sunlight peered through the trees as mist rose up in vaporous tendrils from the ground. The air was heavy with humidity, and smelled of loam and decaying undergrowth. Maressa blearily opened her eyes to see the verdant leaves of the trees swaying gently above her. Rolling onto her side, she saw Gloom standing on a clear patch of ground, taking in the sun’s rays.

    Maressa sat up, wincing at how sore she was from sleeping outside. Her clothes were damp, and she was still chilly from the cool night air. Pushing aside her small troubles, she turned to Gloom and smiled at him. “Good morning,” she said. Gloom turned his head towards her—was he looking at her? Maressa couldn’t tell, as his eyes were always closed—and turned away again a moment later.

    Maressa furrowed her brow as she considered what she needed to do. She knew she probably needed medical attention. She didn’t know how bad her leg was but she didn’t want to look at it if she didn’t have to, and since it wasn’t hurting any more than it was yesterday she figured it hadn’t worsened. Her stomach growled, and she rubbed it thoughtfully as she glanced at Gloom. If she was hungry then he probably was too. And yet he seemed so content to just stand in the sun. That made sense, she figured, as he was a plant. But he also had a mouth—did he need to be fed actual food as well?

    Maressa stared up at the canopy of leaves, torn as to what to do. She had no idea how to take care of a Grass-type Pokemon, but she couldn’t just leave him here.

    Why not? He’s happy here.

    As the thought entered her head, she looked back over at him. He did seem okay standing in the forest, though she couldn’t honestly say if she could tell whether or not he was happy.

    “Hey Gloom,” she called. He turned towards her. “Do you want to come with me, or would you rather stay here?”

    The Pokemon only continued to face her, and she guessed that he was considering his options. After he stood for a minute or so and had made no response—not so much as a change of facial expression—Maressa decided to turn her thoughts again as to what to do.

    She sighed as she considered her options. What she needed to do was obvious; it was how soon it needed to be done and how to go about it that were problematic. Any sense of freedom or liberation she had was dampened by her longing for her Pokemon and her solitude. Sure, she had Gloom, but he had barely interacted with her.

    Leaning against a tree trunk, she stood up. There was no question about it; she had to get back to Team Aqua as soon as possible. She had to get her Pokemon and then get away from Team Aqua and from this whole mess. She already knew what the first thing she would do when she had escaped: visit Betty and apologize for any hospital bills or police visits she had received.

    Maressa cringed as she thought of her younger sister. She had only recently considered the full consequences her recent actions might have had on Betty. True, she had hardly spoken to her in the past year, and their relationship had been steadily weakening ever since Maressa had confided her opinions about how the world needed to change to Betty, but she was still her sister. If anything bad were to happen to her on Maressa’s account, Maressa knew she would never be able to forgive herself.

    Tearing her thoughts away from her sister, there was still the matter of what to do about the present. Maressa was sure that there would be Team Aqua members disguised as civilians hanging around Mossdeep city, but how was she to find them? Out of the thousands of city inhabitants, she figured there would be perhaps ten Team Aqua members at most.

    She dimly remembered Sarah telling her that the people of Mossdeep enjoyed watching Wailmer pop out of the sea. She knew that people from Team Aqua were interested in training Wailmer, and if they were able to do it in a place like this, where having Wailmer near the seashore was perfectly in the norm, then perhaps they would be willing to take advantage of that.

    Looking back at the forest, Maressa grimaced. She didn’t fancy walking along the edge of the island until she saw familiar faces training the Water-type Pokemon, but she couldn’t think of anything else to do. She was about to walk away, but couldn’t bring herself to move more than a few feet.

    She closed her eyes in exasperation. Just keep going. He’ll be fine, she told herself. Even still, she couldn’t help but give one last glance back to the Gloom standing on the bare patch of ground. He had stopped facing her, and Maressa took that to mean that he didn’t care about accompanying her.

    With this thought came a twinge of sorrow. Get moving, she told herself. He doesn’t need you. But perhaps she needed him. She had known him for barely a day, and already he had saved her from a cop—though not of his own accord. In spite of this, she didn’t want to go on without him. Sure, it might be hard to take care of a Grass-type while on a boat or with a bunch of Water-type Pokemon, but Team Aqua had managed to keep all of its human members alive. Maressa knew she could take care of Gloom, no matter what it would take.

    “Gloom, will you come with me?” she asked. The Pokemon turned towards her, and as she started to walk away, he trailed after her. Her heart soared with elation as he walked with her, and she gave him the biggest, most sincere smile she could. He made no response, but just followed her to the edge of the island.

    +++++++

    “… and that was when Sharpedo got really mad. Ever since he came with me, he and Seaking have been like brothers. Which is kinda weird, since they have such opposite personalities, you know? You’ll understand when you meet them. Anyway, Sharpedo really didn’t like these other Pokemon picking on Seaking, and when he saw how upset Seaking was getting, he got super defensive and started to really rip into the others. I mean,” Maressa shook her head, “I’ve seen him get aggressive in battling, but I’ve only seen him get this vicious a few times. But you won’t have anything to worry about,” she said with a smile as she looked down at Gloom. “I’m sure that once Sharpedo meets you, you two will get along great.”

    Gloom made no response to Maressa’s chattering, but simply plodded alongside her. The two had been walking along the edge of the island for the better part of an hour. Maressa had avoided places congested with people entirely; she figured there was no chance of finding Team Aqua members where they could attract a lot of attention more easily. She also didn’t fancy going where police might still be looking for her and risk getting caught.

    On her left a forest filled the area, and beyond that the tops of the buildings thrust into the cloud-strewn sky. The cliffs dropped down perhaps ten meters into the water below, and as they walked up the natural incline of the land, the vertical distance to the sea grew. Maressa planned on moving to new territory well before the cliffs were a fifty meters tall; she couldn’t imagine any Team Aqua members trying to train Wailmer from up there.

    Or so she at least told herself. In truth, she had hardly been paying attention to whether or not she was passing by any people, as she had quickly become absorbed in her one-sided conversation with Gloom. She wasn’t sure whether he was so quiet because he was a great listener, but it was still fantastic to have someone to talk to, and by focusing on conversation she was able to better ignore the growing pain in her leg. She didn’t tell him much about Team Aqua, but rather focused on recounting past experiences with her Pokemon. The more she spoke of them, the more she longed for them, and a small spur of excitement grew within her as she anticipated seeing them so soon.

    As she briefly stopped talking, she noticed Gloom slightly raise his head, as if he had seen something in the distance. Looking up, Maressa’s heart jumped as she perceived two figures standing at the edge of cliff, looking down into the water. She was about to rush forward when she stopped and considered the Grass-type standing at her side.

    “I’ll talk to you soon, Gloom,” she said as she withdrew him into his Pokeball. If she was going to leave Team Aqua, she would rather have them not know of her new party member. She briefly considered letting Gloom back out and explaining everything to him, but just pocketed the ball and moved on. She would explain to him once she got all the details sorted out, but at the moment many things in her mind were jumbled and confused.

    As she got closer, she breathed a sigh of relief as she recognized a pale woman whose auburn hair was tied at the end. Maressa wasn’t sure who the stocky, muscled man next to her was, but as he was shouting orders to some Pokemon in the water below, she figured he was also with Team Aqua.

    “I said leap out of the water after five seconds! You have to go against the current, or else you’ll get stuck back here! Ready…?” His voice trailed away as he saw a woman wearing a dirty police uniform that was far too large for her come up to him and his partner. She looked slightly apprehensive, but beneath the nervousness there was an underlying sense of joy.

    “I’ll take care of this,” his partner said, and walked calmly over the police officer.

    Maressa stopped as the auburn-haired woman walked up to her bearing an annoyed expression. She hesitated; ever since she had first joined Team Aqua, she and all other new recruits had had the secret saying hammered into their heads in case they ever ran into situations like this, but she was still nervous that she might mess up.

    But she was too deep in now to pull out. Making sure that there was no one else around, she said, “Life resides on land and in the sea.”

    The woman looked surprised and replied, “But life on land depends on the sea. Life in the sea is completely its own.” After giving the obligatory response, the grunt beckoned to Maressa and walked over to where her partner was standing. “It’s okay Aiden, she’s one of us.”

    Once she was at the edge of the cliff, Maressa looked down. Her head spun as she gazed from the dizzying height, but before returning her attention to the other Team Aqua members, she saw some aquatic Pokemon drifting in the ocean waves.

    Aiden looked concerned. “What’s up? Is there something from the boss?”

    “Did you hear anything about a Team Aqua member captured by Team Magma?”

    The woman nodded. “Yeah, but I don’t know any of the specifics. Why?”

    “I’m her.”

    The duo stared at her, dumbfounded. The man turned to his partner. “Amanda,” he said. “Do you understand what this means?”

    The woman, however, ignored him entirely. “You?” the woman exclaimed “But—but how? How are you here?”

    “I—Do I have to explain here?” she suddenly asked. “I spent the night outside and I haven’t eaten anything for over a day.”

    Aiden piped up. “Sure. You can—”

    “You can come with me back to my place, and I’ll get you real food and clothes while you tell me about what happened,” Amanda said in a rush.

    “Oh come on, I was just about to say that!”

    “Too bad, you had your chance. We’ll see you later,” she said as she started away.

    “You know what, maybe we should both go. After all, it’s safest when we’re together, right?”

    The red-headed woman glared back at him. “But you know what’s also safe? Not having the commanders mad at us for not doing our job in the three weeks we’re stranded out here. Come on, you can handle one day alone. Besides, she’s got to get some real clothes, and that’s something you can’t give her.” So saying, she turned away from her partner and made her way into the city with Maressa on her tail.

    Soon, the duo were in a small apartment on the outskirts of the city. Maressa sat on a chair in her kitchen, dressed in civilian clothing for the first time in she couldn’t remember how long and eating real food. In exchange for the hospitality, she recounted everything that had happened to her, omitting her conversations with Derek and Tabitha as well as the part Derek and Golbat had played in her escape but telling everything else as truthfully as she could.

    “Wow,” Amanda said as Maressa finished recounting the events. “That’s crazy. The boss is going to be so happy that you got out of there though! But I can’t imagine how much trouble the people in your squad are going to be in.” Shaking her head, she picked up the dishes from the table and headed over to the sink. “I suppose we ought to get you back to a base as soon as possible.”

    “Are there any nearby?”

    “Closest one is in Lilycove. But that won’t be a problem, it’s perhaps a day’s worth of surfing away. And you can borrow one of our Pokemon; I’m sure the leaders won’t mind if one Pokemon doesn’t get all the training they planned.”

    “Thank you. What are you training the Pokemon here for anyway?”

    Amanda had stopped washing dishes for a moment, and glanced sidelong at Maressa. “How much—nevermind,” she said as she turned back to washing the dishes. “We’re trying to teach these Pokemon how to dive deep to the bottom of the ocean. For exploration purposes, you know,” she added hastily. “And as there’s no Technical or Hidden Machines for that yet, we’re trying to teach them the old-fashioned way.”

    “And how’s it coming along?”

    The auburn-haired woman sighed. “We can’t really tell. Maybe these Pokemon could make it on their own, but I seriously doubt as to whether or not they could do with a person on them.”

    “What makes you so certain that they can do it in the first place? A lot of sea-dwelling Pokemon live in the photic zone. They were never meant to dive deep.”

    “Some of our team members working as scientists have told us that there are groups of people working on developing a Pokemon move that allows them to dive thousands of feet beneath the surface and carry a human with them. If that’s the case, we want to make sure our Pokemon are physically capable of doing it.”

    “Are we going to just steal the technique once they’ve finished designing it?”

    At this, Amanda set down her dishes in the sink and turned around to face Maressa. The blonde woman simply sat on the chair staring innocuously at her teammate. Cautiously, Amanda asked, “How much do you know about Team Aqua?”

    “How much do you know?” Maressa shot back.

    “Enough to be trusted to go around in civilian clothing and not betray our team to anyone looking for them.”

    Smiling, Maressa responded, “Fair enough. All right, then. I know that we’re searching for Kyogre and the Blue Orb and that we’ll do anything it takes to get them.”

    “How much is ‘anything’?”

    “I flooded a city to make sure we could escape safely.”

    Satisfied, Amanda nodded and turned back to washing the dishes. “Depending on when the technique is finished, we might take it. Or until naval technology catches up and develops submarines that can go down to the seafloor without being crushed. Whichever comes first, we’ll go for.” Turning back to her, she continued, “If you’re done, we should get you back to the team. Are you ready to leave?”

    Maressa shrugged and responded, “As ready as I’ll ever be.”

    +++++++++

    The sun beat down heavily on the azure waves as they passed by. Maressa gazed ahead, her arms wrapped around the upright part of the Tentacruel’s bell. She wanted to talk to the Pokemon, but his face—if you could call it that, as it seemed to be just a pair of eyes—was beneath the water as he quickly made his way through the salty sea. She glanced at his brown tentacles and shuddered. The way they undulated and rippled gave her chills, and she knew that each carried a devastating stinging power. She cringed at the thought of being ensnared in them, and felt pity for whatever poor ocean-goers had.

    Amanda had said that Lilycove was a day’s worth of surfing away but Maressa didn’t know whether that applied to a fast Pokemon like Tentacruel or whether he would make the journey more quickly. Judging by her inability to see any land in any direction, Maressa guessed that they still had a long time to go.

    For what felt like the thousandth time, Maressa went over in her head what she would say to her higher-ups once she got back to base. Her mouth went dry at the thought of lying to Shelly or—her heart skipped a beat at the thought—her boss. Could she really go through with it? She felt like it would be so much easier to keep going the way she was, to just keep working for Team Aqua. After all, they were searching for the stuff of legends, things that didn’t exist. Wouldn’t they just keep on searching forever, ultimately accomplishing nothing? How much harm could they really do?

    Suddenly, images of the flooding city and Team Magma attacking her teammates at Mount Chimney appeared before her eyes. Though the teams may be conducting a search where the only option was failure, the amount of damage they could to do civilians was undeniable.

    Maressa grimaced, as suddenly abandoning Team Aqua didn’t seem enough. As a former member of Team Aqua, with knowledge of their bases and plans, shouldn’t she do what she could to actively bring them down?

    Pushing the thought aside, she decided to talk about it with her Pokemon later. As much as she looked forward to meeting with them again, there was also a sense of dread. She would tell them her plans to leave Team Aqua, and whether or not they would join her was their choice. They had always readily carried out any orders they were given while on the team—she just hoped that they hadn’t become so attached to it and the other Pokemon that they would rather stay there than with her.

    Closing her eyes and hugging Tentacruel’s bell more tightly, Maressa allowed herself to wallow in the worry and anxiety that had been with her the past few days, considering all the different things the future could hold and what she would have to do about each one.

    After a while, she opened her eyes again and looked up. Whatever would come would come, but she wasn’t sure she was ready to meet it when it did.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
  10. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner Peace to the Mountain

    Ah, looks like that answers that.

    :eek: Intriguing. I wonder if that's a clue as to how she made it ashore or just something in her dream, something maybe hallucinated due to a lack of oxygen.

    This reminds me of a story. This one time, at a monster truck rally, I noticed this pretty, metallic green beetle crawling around among the bleachers. Worried it'd get stepped on, I picked it up and took it somewhere a little less crowded. As thanks for rescuing it, it made this horrible smell that I can't even begin to describe other than that it was stubborn as frell. Couldn't wash it off; it had to wear off on its own damn time.

    My point is, I have to give Maressa kudos for having the guts to pick up something she knew would be smelly from the start, heh.

    Cute!

    I'll bet. Plus golduck doesn't have the whole panoramic view thing going on like claydol has.

    ...Have I mentioned that I really like claydol in general? Because wow, I really like claydol in general. :D
     
  11. Hi! So I finally got around to reading the whole thing (or, well, what's available of it), and I have to say that your plot is really, really engaging. It perfectly balances the over-the-top buffoonery you'd expect from villainous characters with the realness of Marissa's emotional turmoil. You have scenes like the Tabitha-Courtney phone call and the Derek-Maressa conversation in the infirmary (or whatever it was) that are lighthearted in the surface, but then you get to the nitty gritty of how these admins will stop at nothing to prove their devotion to their team's cause and how these grunts are in this endless effort to rationalize their decisions one way or the other.

    I think you explore the power dynamics of the teams really well, and you convey them with very solid scenes. I particularly like the Tabitha-Marissa scene for that - it's a great, plot-heavy scene that really drives home the point of how trapped you can be in being a grunt while shedding light on what will probably be the "big event" of sorts later on in the fic. I can't wait what you'll do when you bring in Maxie and Archie.

    Maressa's a very likable character, too, and I think you portray her very realistically. Her doubts about the team don't come out of nowhere, and it's nice to see her consistently put her Pokemon [or other Pokemon in general, for that matter] first before herself. There's also this sense of toughness, but as expected, we find out that this becomes a mere facade that's easily broken.

    If there's any criticism about her character that I wanna point out, it's something that isn't really tied to her characterization but what happens to her character itself - some of the events that happen to her to move the plot forward feel a bit too serendipitous. I guess I'm just put off by her being saved by some random woman who just happened to pass by the beach when she was there and was kind enough to bring her to the hospital, or that a little snooping around the town led her to two undercover aqua grunts in a secluded area where no one would see them. Now, I get that these are necessary, and that these types of lucky breaks are normal for main characters in general, but what I'm getting at is that, well, the first time she was saved from drowning, you immediately gave context and made it realistic - Derek won't let a person die because of his character, and it serves as a very nice contrast to what she herself did a few chapters ago. I might just be overreacting to random kind beach lady and Maressa's incredible luck, but I do think you should take caution with things like this (in that, well, don't overuse it).

    I was gonna comment on how flowery your description was in the early chapters, but you've seemed to improve on them in the later chapters, so good job on that. I also really like how you describe battles - they're action-packed, but they're clear and easy to follow.

    And a random comment:

    I am a sucker for title drops like this [and this is the only one so far! of the exact word at least], and how you surround that with these images of death and uncertainty is really telling of how dark the premise of this story can be. You'd want to remove the period at the end of those ellipsis, though. They already serve the purpose of a full stop.

    Overall a really great fic, and it just keeps on improving with every chapter. Can't wait to see what happens next! You have a knack for making great cliffhanger endings. :)
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2015
  12. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    Replying to Dramatic Melody's review since it's too much to fit in one post

    Okay, wow, thank you so much for this review. This is one of the most heartwarming things I've read for me, and it just feels good to hear that someone likes my story and thinks I'm doing a good job. I'm glad you like it! Hopefully I can keep going with this and work my way to a satisfying end ^_^;

    This is a very valid criticism, and I thank you for pointing it out. With the whole "being found by someone on the beach and being taken to the hospital;" I did that because I felt like that was an easy possibility. I live (somewhat) close to the seashore and I know that people like to take morning walks along it, and since Mossdeep is a pretty populated place so I felt like it was likely that she would be found by someone. And if you find a person lying unconscious on the beach, I'd figure that the first thing someone would do is call emergency medical services and try to get them help. At least, that's what I would do, but it might just be my lifeguard training showing through.

    As for finding two undercover grunts... yeah, even I admit that that's a pretty big stretch. Admittedly, it was most convenient since I wanted to get her back to base and get the plot moving so I just did what I felt was quickest, but I can see that it comes off as just too lucky or coincidental. Sorry about that ^ ^;

    Again, thanks so much! And haha, thanks for that last comment ^_^; I never had any idea that I was good at making cliffhangers (or that I was even making them--it just seemed like an appropriate place to stop the chapter) until a few chapters ago.

    Thanks for the review! Your criticism has been noted, and hopefully I'll get better about that.
     
  13. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    All right all right all right everyone, here's the latest chapter. Sorry about how long it took (but I did make my deadline!), and about how long this chapter is. The scene at the beginning was supposed to be at the end of chapter 10, but I kind wanted to end that chapter where I did so I tacked it on to this one. I was making a lot of little tweaks on this chapter towards the end, so HOPEFULLY it fits together well enough.

    Hope you enjoy!

    Chapter 11

    Moonlight shone on the tall pearlescent rock. People were crowding around it, trying to touch the historic, mystical stone or else sticking on it small tags on which were written the contents of their hearts, from their trivial desires to fervent prayers. Many standing closest to the rock gazed at it, giving a respectful moment of awed silence before moving back into the heavy throng. One boy stood before the rock, oblivious to everyone else crowding around it, not moving out of the way—for no one would demand a Gym Leader to move aside for themselves.

    Tate stood with one hand on the rock, his mind connected with the presence inside it. It was nothing more than a whisper of a thought, but it was there. For as long as he or anyone else could remember, this rock had been nothing more than a shrine for people to come and put their wishes or respects to. It was one of the symbols of Mossdeep, but had been overshadowed by the space shuttle and science center in recent years. Now, with the Millennium Comet coming, people were flocking to Mossdeep City to partake in the celebrations.

    It had only been within the past few days that whenever he walked by the rock, Tate could feel something call out to him. The first few days it hadn’t even been a whisper, but he could just feel another consciousness brushing against his mind. It was completely unfamiliar to anything he had ever felt—nothing like the mind of a human, and even much different from those of Pokemon such as Solrock or Xatu. And every time the consciousness contacted his own, he could sense a deep longing and loneliness emanating from it.

    “I don’t get it,” Liza said once when Tate was standing by the rock by himself. “Your psychic powers are like the exact same as mine.” She walked over the rock and put her hand on it, her brow furrowed as she stretched out her thoughts in search of the alien presence. “How come you can feel it and I can’t?”

    “I don’t know,” Tate replied, and he really didn’t. Ever since birth, he and Liza had been on the same level—except for a brief spell when she suddenly gained a surge in power before him, but he soon caught up to her afterwards. No matter what he did, no one else seemed to be able to feel the presence. He had opened his mind between the presence and others, such as Liza or his Pokemon and used himself as medium between them, intending to let them interact over his mind. But every time he did, the Pokemon or his sister would tell them that they could feel nothing.

    Tate had never even considered that he was going crazy. The presence was there; he could feel it, he knew it! It had been growing stronger every day, and contacting with it made him feel so happy, even though he couldn’t explain why. And as the presence grew more prominent, more complex, his joy grew, for he sensed that he would soon meet whatever lay beneath the surface of the stone.

    And as he stood with his hand pressed against the moonlit surface, he could hear a small voice echo through his head.

    The star…

    His eyes opened as the voice faded. Star? What star? he wondered. With a thrill of hope, he thought The Millennium Comet?

    From the alien presence came a rush of joy, surging through Tate in affirmation. A grin split his face. That’s only a few days away! he thought. With this thought, a surge of happiness emanated from the presence, and Tate’s spirits lifted.

    From the back of the crowd on a small ledge overlooking the people, Mildred spectated the scene. Her pale eyes rested on the small boy, who had never failed to come to the rock each night. As she saw the boy smile gleefully and press both hands against the rock, a surge of excitement coursed through her.

    He had to be the one; no one else had the same pervasive joy as he did when they went to that rock and no one else was going to it as often as he. Most people were only interested in having their own wishes granted to fulfill whatever frivolous desire infected their souls—but this boy always looked as though he was reuniting with a friend whom he had not seen in a long time.

    Mildred furrowed her brow as she toyed with the Skitty icon in her keychain. The Millennium Comet was still days away, but it was imperative to get the group ready as soon as possible.

    She smiled as she watched the boy close his eyes with his hands on the rock, his face peaceful. Hardly anyone believed in legends, and that left almost no one to protect them. Even in the police standing around the rock were just there to keep the traffic flowing and make sure the crowd was under control. They didn’t expect anyone to steal anything, for to them and at least ninety percent of the rest of the people there, it was only a rock. And how was someone supposed to steal a three-meter-tall rock?

    Absentmindedly putting her hand in her pocket, her fingers found a coin and stroked its circular edges. She frowned as she caught snatches of conversation from people making their way past her, complaining about how life had taken an inconvenient turn or how they couldn’t afford the new model for a car and had to settle for a slightly less expensive one.

    Soon, people of Hoenn, she thought as she traced the jagged black ‘M’ on her coin, Soon you’ll be wishing that these were the only problems you had.

    +++++++++++++++++++++

    Night hung over the world like a stellar cloak by the time Tentacruel and his passenger had reached the shores of Lilycove City. Maressa let out a sigh of relief; after riding over the ocean waves for hours, her throat was parched, her head pounding, her eyelids drooping, and she was soaked to the bone. The sandy shores were tantalizingly close—was she not so tired, she might have jumped off Tentacruel and swum for shore herself.

    But as the shore neared, Tentacruel began swimming more northward, toward a large outcrop of jagged sky-scraping rocks. Maressa instinctively clenched Tentacruel more tightly as he approached the formation. The water shot in fast, vigorous currents through the stones, and waves slapped aggressively against their sheer, weather-beaten sides. Many times the water engulfed the Pokemon and his person, and terror coursed through Maressa as she emerged coughing and sputtering. Each time the water covered them, she felt certain that she would never resurface, but Tentacruel always managed to get her breathing again. Even with the rough currents, he was able to use his powerful tentacles to traverse the treacherous waterways and avoid slamming into the rocks too forcefully.

    Maressa could barely see anything around her, and panic was rising in her chest so quickly that she felt she could scream. Soon, Tentacruel made his way out of the roaring waterways and Maressa could feel him riding along a much smoother, one-way current as what little light there was faded to total darkness. By the way the waves echoed around them, she figured they were in a sea-cave.

    Her arms still clamped around Tentacruel with an iron grip, she could feel him rise up out of the water and stop moving forward. After a moment of her holding on uncertainly, the Pokemon jerked forward and Maressa’s feet slipped off his bell. She sharply took in a breath and her heart fluttered frantically in her chest for a moment before she felt her feet hit solid rock. Making sure that her footing was secure, she let go of Tentacruel’s bell and listened to him slither back in the water and watched his spectral outline diminish into the distance against the dim light of the cave entrance.

    Her heartbeat slowing, she took a deep breath to calm herself.

    What’s wrong with me?

    Sure, she had been frightened out in the ocean before, but only when she was far from shore or caught in inclement weather. Back then, it had been a realistic fear of her and her Pokemon being hurt or stranded—not the constant, ever-growing terror that had been eating her for the past day. She tried to reason that it was because her Pokemon weren’t with her, that it was because she was with a stranger whom she didn’t know whether or not she could trust him.

    She sighed inwardly at her own flimsy excuses. I can’t blame Tentacruel. He knew what he was doing.

    She continued to stare at the cave entrance, which was now brightening as the stars awoke and shone over the earth, pondering the source of her fear when a glow caught her eye.

    Glancing down into the water, she could make out two lavender orbs shining with an ethereal light. Heart skipping a beat, she turned away as fast as she could, determined not to fall victim to any Pokemon’s hypnosis. She had to find Team Aqua—was this their base? She couldn’t see anything. Shouldn’t they have lights, or someone on watch in case team members come?

    Turning away from the cave entrance to face the uniform blackness, she tentatively called out, “Hello? Is anyone there? I’m a member of Team Aqua, and someone told me that I could find your base here.”

    No answer returned, but suddenly the waters lit up with several bright yellow lights. She looked down at the water, and gave a cry of delight as she saw numerous Chinchou floating beneath the water’s surface, illuminating the cave with the bioluminescence from their anglers. Kneeling down to get as close the surface as she could, she hungrily searched through the Pokemon. She spotted a few Lanturn—none that she could see were hers, but what if her Lanturn was there, lighting up the cave to welcome her companion back?

    Maressa only had a few more seconds of searching before she saw a Politoed’s head erupt from the surface. She met his gaze as he stared at her quizzically for a moment before his eyes lit up with a pale purple light, and Maressa only had enough time to curse her own stupidity before falling asleep.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    She stood on the brink of rock high above the open ocean. The sky and waters alike were pitch-black, melding into each other so that she could not tell where one began and the other ended.

    The sea below was suddenly lit with thousands of pinpricks of light. Chinchou and Lanturn filled every layer of the water column, shining like nautical stars. Maressa bent down, looking through the water desperately for her friend. There were so many, but none was the one she wanted to see most. She couldn’t clearly make out those farther below the surface, and she got on her hands and knees to peer more closely into the dazzling depths. As she got down on all fours, her hands slipped, and she plunged into the sea. All the living lights went out, and she could feel herself sinking deeper into the now-empty ocean.

    The air was gone from her lungs. She couldn’t breathe, and she felt as though fabric was pressed against her nose and mouth as she sank deeper into the void.

    It can’t end this way, she thought. I have to get out of here. I need to leave.

    Her eyes popped open, and she saw that there really was fabric pressing against her nose and mouth. Lifting her head off of the pillow, she looked down and saw that she lay in a bed.

    The walls and floor alike were of a blank metal, similar to that of the Team Magma base. Though she was again in the only occupied bed in a room full of cots, the arrangement of furniture and layout of the room proved to her that she wasn’t in her enemy’s base.

    Breathing a sigh of relief, she laid back down on the pillow before immediately sitting back up. She wasn’t in the Team Magma base, but where was she? Had she gotten to Team Aqua, or had she been captured by the police and was to meet whatever sentence they had for her?

    A wave of terror rushed over her, and she dug her fingers into her pockets. They were empty, and her heart continued to pump furiously as she glanced about the room for the jacket she had borrowed from Amanda, but it was nowhere in sight. Dread was sinking into her heart. Where was Gloom? He was her responsibility; she had promised to stay by him no matter what. If something had happened to him…

    She tried to push the feeling away, but to little avail. She knew there wasn’t anything she could do about it now, but that didn’t make her feel any better about it. Guilt mingled with her fear as she buried her head in her hands. She had finally made a friend since being captured by Team Magma, and he was already gone.

    She couldn’t accept this; she at least had to try looking for him. Getting out of bed, she walked over to the door only to find that it was locked. Forcing herself to remain calm, she walked back to the bed and once more buried her face in her hands as she sat down. Anxiety and worry beat rapidly in her chest, and she was finding it increasingly difficult to not panic. She couldn’t bear the thought of being captured again, of having to wait for whatever punishment was chosen for her, of having to escape again.

    Taking her head out of her hands, she clasped her fingers as her heart rate slowed. She knew her Pokemon were somewhere out there, and no matter how many times she was captured, she would find another way to escape, and she would be with them again.

    As speculations of her current situation roamed through her mind, the door opened. She jerked her head up, and a smile split her face as she saw a man wearing a black-and-white striped shirt and a blue bandana standing there.

    Falling back on her bed, she spread her arms out as the smile lingered on her face. When she glanced back at the Team Aqua member, joy and relief radiated from her heart and filled her entire being with ecstasy.

    As he strode toward her, she jumped up. “You’re a Team Aqua member!”

    “Let’s not jump to conclusions, here.”

    “Then I’m at a Team Aqua base!”

    “You’re Maressa Llyr, right?”

    “Yes! Yes, I’m Maressa, and I’m here, I’m back, I can see my Pokemon again…” Her voice trailed off as she strode restlessly about the room, her arms held wide out in childlike glee.

    “Well, you’ll have to talk to our boss first before you can see anyone else.”

    Maressa’s arms returned to her sides as she turned curiously to her team member. “What do you mean? Do I have to talk to Shelly or someone about everything I went through?”

    “No. You have to talk to our boss.

    Maressa’s heart skipped a beat as the final word fell on her ears. “You mean Archie? He’s here/?”

    The man nodded. “He’s scheduled to go in… and do something soon,” he said cautiously. “But he said he’ll talk to you while he’s here.”

    “When do I go see him?”

    “Right now. If you weren’t already awake, I was supposed to wake you up.”

    Her mouth going dry, she followed the guy out the doorway. He glanced at her as they walked. “I’m Noah, by the way. Are you nervous?” he asked with a smile.

    She shrugged. “A little.”

    “Don’t worry too much about it. Archie’s not bad, really. Show respect, definitely, and if it’s your first time meeting him don’t joke around too much at first. But I’m sure he’ll warm up to you; he likes everyone once he gets to know them.”

    “Do you have to talk to him often?”

    He nodded. “Just whenever he comes here. I’m in charge of this base here, so whenever Archie comes I have to be the one to make sure that whatever he wants is here and everything is ready for him.”

    “Do you think he’s easy to work with?”

    “Let me put it this way: have you worked with Shelly before?”

    She grimaced. “Yeah.”

    “Then you won’t have a problem.”

    They stopped before a set of double doors. “Wait here,” Noah said before he walked through them. He was gone for a second before he reappeared and gestured for Maressa to go inside. Heart fluttering rapidly, she was about to open the door when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked up to see Noah looking kindly at her.

    “Don’t be nervous. Everything will be fine.”

    Giving him a smile in return, Maressa steeled herself and opened the door.

    Three people were standing around a desk looking over maps. One was dressed as an ordinary grunt, while another was wearing a dark coat and black pants. The other was Shelly, who alone noticed Maressa come in.

    “They just can’t go that deep,” the grunt was saying.

    The man in black looked disappointed before asking, “Have we heard anything new about Stern’s Shipyard lately? Hm, what is it?” Shelly nudged him and then indicated Maressa standing in the doorway.

    The man turned around and smiled as he saw Maressa. Striding forward, he held out a hand. “So you must be Maressa! I’m Archie.”

    She relaxed as she firmly shook her boss’s hand. “Hi,” was the only thing she could think of saying.

    Archie turned to the other grunt in the room. “Could you leave us for a moment, please? This won’t take long.” The grunt nodded, and walked out without a word.

    “So!” he said as he sat in a high-backed wheelie chair. “I’m sorry that you had to be knocked out before we could take you in, but it’s a necessary precaution.”

    “Why? Have civilians shown up here?” Maressa couldn’t help asking.

    Shelly looked furious at this interruption, but Archie merely shrugged and answered, “More often than we’d like. Even with sharp rocks and fast currents, some people insist on exploring this area, in which case we’ll usually have our Pokemon take them out.” A chill went up Maressa’s spine at these words, but she said nothing. “Some members from our team recognized you and we pulled up your profile and information. If you weren’t a Team Aqua member, then you wouldn’t be in here now.

    “But enough of that. I want to hear everything that happened to you. Matt said that you were captured by Team Magma, and they’re not likely to just let a Team Aqua member go without getting some inside information first.”

    “I didn’t tell them anything, sir. I escaped.”

    “I trust you did. And I want to hear everything that happened to you while you were there, how you got out and how you got here.”

    Maressa paused before beginning. Archie seemed amiable enough, but the atmosphere felt strained. Her boss appeared to be inspecting a number of small bites on his arm, but she could tell that his attention was focused on her. Shelly was standing by his chair, staring straight ahead, but Maressa was willing to bet that she was also paying close attention to her every move. With the air thick with tension, the blonde-haired woman could tell she was treading dangerous waters.

    One wrong word, and I’m done for, she realized.

    She took a deep breath, and launched into her story, telling everything as truthfully as she could but omitting the conversations she had had with Derek and his Pokemon and of taking Gloom with her.

    When she finished, she looked up to see her boss staring down, his eyes drifting out of focus. Without looking at her, he asked, “Everything that Magma Commander, Tabitha, told you about us—do you believe what he said?”

    Here was the test. Knowing her fate hung on the next words, she slowly said, “I don’t know what to believe, sir. I’ve never heard that Team Aqua would do those things, but I know that we fight for the good of the ocean, and making it larger would make sense.”

    She tried to meet his gaze with a sincere one of her own. She was speaking the truth, after all, and she hoped that he would confirm or deny what Tabitha had told her. But her heart was pounding so furiously within her chest that she worried someone would hear it.

    After a moment, Archie stood up and made his way to the door. “Come with me, Maressa,” he said, and with a nod to Shelly, made his way out.

    Maressa followed the Aqua leader through the metal-lined walls of the corridor. She could feel herself break out into a nervous sweat—had he seen through her? Where was he taking her? Was she about to hurt her? She prayed it wasn’t the last; he was much taller and heftier than her, and she didn’t fancy trying to hold her own against him.

    After walking up a few staircases, he opened a small door. The sound of waves smacking stone and the kiss of the sea breeze met the duo as they stood on a small rocky precipice facing the open water. There was no rail between the humans and the edge of the rock. Maressa glanced over the edge and immediately took a step back as her stomach churned. She inched away until her back was flat against the door.

    Archie raised an eyebrow. “Is something wrong?”

    “I don’t do well with heights.”

    “Ah.” He stepped forward to peer down at the violent waves below. “Yeah, it’s a pretty long way down. Don’t fall.”

    Maressa didn’t answer, but instead just stared out at the deep blue waters that appeared so calm from a distance. Archie glanced at her, then turned his gaze in the same direction.

    “Do you understand why we fight for the ocean, Maressa?”

    With a shrug, she responded, “Because we need it to live?”

    Without turning, he replied, “Because it sustains this entire planet and everything on it. Many creatures spend their lives in the ocean without ever seeing land—some live without ever seeing sunlight. Entire civilizations have built their culture around the ocean, adjusting and shaping their lifestyles to work with it.” Maresa couldn’t see his face, but as his voice took on a reflective tone, she felt as if he had almost forgotten about her. “My own family was one that lived at the ocean’s edge. When I was thirteen, we left. Eleven years later, I made my way back to that same spot where we lived, and it was completely gone. All the plants that grew there, the rock formations, even peoples’ homes—gone. The water ran right against a sandy shore with hotels and beach houses.”

    Maressa tensed; Archie’s tone had hardly changed, but she could sense a deep anger flowing from him. Underneath his words, there seemed to be a touch of malice. But when he turned around, his eyes held no cruelty or vengeance. They were hard, and he appeared that of a man filled with self-righteous indignation.

    “The oceans are dying, and it’s because humans decided to change this world to make it most convenient for them. Have you ever been to Lilycove?”

    She was surprised at the sudden answer, but just shook her head in response.

    He averted his gaze. “It’s right beyond this rock formation. And with cliffs and sea stacks like these, you’d expect the edge of the city to be the same, wouldn’t you?” He shook his head. “It’s covered in this sand that they imported from the southwest shores of Hoenn. The rocks are gone, and it’s become a large beach resort.”

    When he didn’t say anything for a few moments, Maressa put in, “The sand won’t last long, will it? Especially if Lilycove has an erosional coast—it’ll just wash away.”

    He nodded. “And so they keep bringing more. It’s a short-sighted goal that will make them a bit of money for the moment. But it’s also altered the environment in such a way that it’ll take years for it to recover. There used to be tons of Pokemon in the tidepools and colonies of Corsola living there, but now it’s almost completely dead. Other Pokemon have tried moving in, but it never lasts. And every time someone gets bitten by Sharpedo, people make a big fuss and wonder if the ocean is safe for anyone. But the next week, they forget, and the beach is as crowded as ever.

    “It’s as if people no longer care to live together with Pokemon, as if all the technology and activist movements that have happened have been for nothing. I know there’s a fad where children will get a Pokemon while they’re young and challenge different Gyms in a region, and that the people who promote this say that the whole point of is for the kid to grow together with his Pokemon and learn what it means to cooperate with them. But even then, the goal they’re aiming for is to be the Pokemon Champion, as in they rule over Pokemon.” He shook his head. “It’s just a façade that the people in power are trying to put up so it looks like living and working with Pokemon is still possible, but it won’t be for long.”

    His expression hardened. “And the Gym Leaders and Elite Four—people paint them to practically run this place, but for all the influence they supposedly have, they haven’t done jack **** about protecting the Pokemon they claim to love.”

    Maressa stood in silence for a moment, taken aback. He had said much more than she expected, and as she thought on it, her heart sank. She didn’t actually know enough about the Elite Four or Hoenn’s rulers to contradict or confirm Archie, but she couldn’t deny the environmental changes she had noticed. While the ocean had seemed fine when she was riding Tentacruel, she had heard reports on people of Mossdeep planning to tear down the mangrove forests and start aquaculture. And she could remember being a nine-year-old back in Kanto, watching lakes be filled in and forests be torn down to make room for more housing.

    Maressa took a step forward, feeling the chill wind whip her hair back. The lake she had first met Psyduck in was gone, and who knows what had happened to Seaking’s home? Sharpedo’s old family was bound to meet trouble if it was going to keep moving in-shore, and while Lanturn’s old home at the bottom of the ocean seemed safe for now, it was only a matter of time before human actions had an effect there as well…

    “They’ll have nowhere to live,” she murmured. Archie side-glanced at her, and she continued, “The ocean habitats are being destroyed. The Pokemon will either be killed or left homeless.”

    Her boss clapped a hand on her shoulder. “And that’s why we have to do what we can to fight for it and return it to its full livelihood once more. People say that global warming is causing ice to melt and the seas are already expanding.” He sighed. “Even if that’s the case, it doesn’t help us. The waters may be growing, but the ocean is dying. This is why we have to keep fighting people like Team Magma, who would see the ocean shrunk down to make more room for land.”

    “Sir, may I ask something?”

    He nodded. “Don’t bother asking if you can ask. If my answer was ‘no,’ you would have already defied my orders.”

    “How will summoning Kyogre help the ocean? I don’t know much at all about this Pokemon,” she hurriedly added, “but I find it hard to believe that a single creature can right everything that millions of people have been doing for years.”

    Archie didn’t respond immediately, but kept gazing out at the ocean. “Kyogre is unlike any other Pokemon on this planet. It was here while the earth was still young, and while the oceans were acid. It brought rainwater, made the oceans fresh and suitable for life. And by making the oceans habitable, land became habitable as well. As the ocean has lived and governed this planet, so has Kyogre. It isn’t just a Pokemon; it’s the embodiment of the sea itself.”

    Maressa said nothing. She had no idea how Archie could have known all this, but decided not to voice her skepticism and just silently accept what he had said.

    Archie turned to her. “A Pokmon of this power won’t be locked away in a Pokeball and become a slave to a person’s will. People in ancient times made the Blue Orb to control Kyogre, and using that Orb is our only hope.”

    Maressa’s heart skipped a beat. Tabitha was telling the truth.

    Her boss went on, “If we can find Kyogre and find that Orb, then there’s hope that we can return the seas to their natural state and prevent humanity from destroying them ever again.”

    Maressa turned to him. “So where do we find Kyogre and the Blue Orb?”

    He sighed. “That’s what we’re working on. And trying to stop Team Magma while doing that is no easy task.” He turned to Maressa, his eyes filled with sorrow. “We can’t let them get the Red Orb and control Groudon, Maressa. They would drain the oceans and tear this world apart.”

    She nodded. “I’ll do whatever I can to help stop them sir.”

    He turned back to the sea and, putting his hands on his hips, replied, “That’s what I like to hear. You can be very useful to us, Maressa.”

    “I know where one of their bases is and how we can get in,” she said in a rush.

    Archie turned his head towards her, his dark eyes suddenly piercing. “What?”

    “It’s true. I heard one of their commanders talk about it with another member.” And she quickly told him everything Derek had relayed to her.

    The Team Aqua boss said nothing, but stared at her keenly. He doesn’t trust me, Maressa realized with dread.

    “Are you sure about this?” he asked slowly.

    “Sir, I will stake my job on this.”

    Archie turned back to the sea, and a smile split his face. “Then let’s show them what we can do.”

    +++++++++++++++++

    Once Archie had finished with her, she made her way back to the room she woke up in. Now that her nervousness and anxiety were ebbing away, weariness was settling in again and she wanted to sleep. She had just turned a corner when she was suddenly intercepted by Noah.

    He smiled when he saw her. “Here you are. They were held at one of our bases near Slateport, so we decided to bring them for you.” He held out his hand, in which rested pokeballs.

    Maressa’s heart rose and she couldn’t help a smile from splitting her face as she took the small objects. However, her joy didn’t last, and she looked back up at Noah with a small frown.

    “What’s wrong?”

    “There are only three pokeballs here. I have four Pokemon.” She checked them; Seaking was missing.

    Noah shrugged and shook his head. “The people at the other base told me that was all of them. But,” he quickly added when he saw Maressa’s look of terror, “it’s possible that your other Pokemon was separated from the rest. You can check with the head of your squadron and see if they know anything about it.”

    Maressa nodded, her spirits rising slightly. “Do you know where Shelly is?”

    “Should be somewhere on the lower levels.”

    Without another word, Maressa took off down the hallway, making her way down staircases until she came into a room with several large tanks. Pokemon drifted about idly in the water while some of their humans stood before the tanks or else sat in the water with them. Maressa spotted Shelly standing before a large tank with a few other grunts, examining a Mantine.

    “Shelly!”

    The Aqua Commander turned around, her expression sour at being interrupted. Maressa felt a slight twinge of guilt; she had forgotten that she should be paying her superior respect, but she pushed the feeling aside and walked over to her commander.

    Shelly said nothing but raised her scarlet eyebrows in question, so Maressa asked, “Do you know where my Seaking is?”

    “Why would I know that? You’re one of several grunts I’m in charge of; I can’t keep track of everybody’s Pokemon.”

    “Yes, but I just got these three—” she held up her Pokeballs—“back, and Noah said that I should ask you where the other one might be.”

    “Where did you last see your Seaking?”

    “He was fighting with me when I was captured by Team Magma.”

    “And do you know what happened to him afterwards? Was he captured, or did another Team Aqua member take him?”

    Maressa traced her steps through her memory as she recounted, “He was caught in Breloom’s leech seed, and I kicked him when his horn punctured my leg, and then I was hit by the solar beam…” She looked back up at her commander. “That’s all I remember.”

    “What about his pokeball? Did you keep that with you?”

    “No, that… fell in the ocean,” she whispered as realization took hold of her.

    Shelly’s eyebrows climbed higher on her forehead. “Your Seaking was caught in a leech seed attack, and you dropped his pokeball in the ocean, and you’re hoping to find him at a base?” She shook her head, her long red hair swaying from side-to-side. “I’m sorry, Maressa, but it sounds like your Seaking’s gone.”

    Maressa froze; it was as if the world had stopped for a moment. There was nothing to think about. Nothing to feel.

    Gone?

    Seaking couldn’t be gone. How could he be? Seaking, who was so timid and yet so cheerful, who was the only one willing to try and learn calculus, whom she had saved from people who saw him as only an object.

    And she could feel all those moments she had spent with him, holding him, singing lullabies to him at night when he was too nervous to sleep, withdrawing him in the middle of a battle when he was getting too scared to keep fighting, having him play with Golduck, Lanturn and Sharpedo, steadily building his trust and feeling him love her in return. And it felt as if all those moments were ripped away.

    Tears were coming hot and fast now. Maressa’s chest felt like it was being constricted. She knew people were staring at her, but it didn’t matter.

    Shelly put a hand on her shoulder, gazing at her subordinate with more pity than Maressa thought her commander could have. “I’m sorry.”

    Taking a few deep breaths, Maressa slowly asked, “But we can find him, right? We have plenty of aquatic Pokemon; they can search for him, can’t they?”

    Shelly grimaced and shrugged. “The ocean is a big place, Maressa. Yes, we have water Pokemon, but if we send them too far out into the sea, it’s possible that even they could lose their way and not return.”

    Each word Shelly spoke was like a hammer beating a nail deeper into Maressa’s heart. “But he won’t just be anywhere out in the ocean—he knows what our bases and submarines look like—he’ll come find one—“ she stopped as her voice cracked.

    “If that’s the case, then maybe he will come back. But I can’t promise anything. We’ll keep an eye out for him, though,” she added with a soft smile. “How about you spend time with your other Pokemon? I’m sure they’ll be happy to see you.”

    Maressa looked down at her shaking hands and at the small balls. Closing her fingers around them, she nodded, and made her way over to a tank at the far end of the room where only a few Corsola sat on the bottom. She paused, torn; part of her just wanted to curl up by the tank and sob, but the desire to see her Pokemon overrode it.

    Tapping on each of the balls to enlarge them, she tossed them into the air where they burst open and released her friends in flashes of white light.

    They shook their heads when they first came, blinking their eyes. Maressa felt a twinge of pity for them; they had probably spent the better part of the past week kept inside their pokeballs. But pity gave way when her eyes met those of her companions. Upon seeing her, their faces became radiant with joy, and Maressa’s spirits rose. She placed her hands on the glass as Sharpedo and Lanturn swam right up next to the side of the tank. Her grief at Seaking’s absence was shunted aside as she let loose a laugh of relief. Leaping up, she caught hold of the edge of the tank and swung herself over the side and into the salty water. She reached out her arms and embraced Lanturn and Sharpedo when she could feel a third life form clamp itself tightly around her midriff.

    She smiled as she saw Golduck’s shaking form embracing her tightly. “It’s good to see you too, Golduck. All of you, really,” she said with another laugh. Her tears were still flowing, but they were no longer of sadness.

    Sharpedo let out a soft growl, letting her know much they had missed her.

    Golduck finally looked up, and Maressa could see that his eyes were slightly bloodshot. He quacked with anger, telling her to never leave them alone like that again. Had she known how much worry and anxiety she had put them through?

    Maressa smiled gently. “Don’t worry; I don’t plan on ever doing that again.”

    Lanturn chirped up as she nuzzled Maressa’s palm, adding that it would be so good to have Maressa and Seaking back again.

    At the mention of Seaking, the painful realization came back and Maressa started crying again. Her three Pokemon looked at her, worried and confused. What was she crying for? Hadn’t she brought Seaking back with her?

    Maressa was about to explain, but suddenly became aware of the Corsola watching them at the bottom of the tank and of the voices of people drifting to them from around the corner. She didn’t feel ready to talk about it in front of others.

    Forcing herself to calm down, she quietly said, “I’ll tell you soon; let’s go somewhere more private first though.”

    ++++++++++++++++++

    Soon, she was wearing a full-length wetsuit and sitting atop Lanturn out in the ocean. It had been difficult getting the wetsuit on—her leg still hurt quite a lot, and trying to squeeze it into a body glove had been no painless task. Still, she had managed, and had gone with her Pokemon out to the tranquil, azure sea where the sun shone down on them cheerily. Her Pokemon drifted in despondent silence; news of Seaking’s disappearance had hit them as it had hit her.

    Sharpedo’s eyes angled in anger, and he let loose an angry growl. He couldn’t spend any more time sitting there—if Seaking was out in the ocean, then he had to go and find him and bring him home safely.

    “Sharpedo, wait!” Maressa called as her companion shot off. He stopped, and the worried, anxious look he gave Maressa tugged at her heartstrings.

    Lanturn swam over to Sharpedo, telling him that he wasn’t alone—they would all search for Seaking.

    “No, we can’t just leave and search for Seaking!” Maressa shouted.

    Golduck quacked angrily—why couldn’t they search for him? He was part of their family. What could possibly be more important?

    “Nothing is more important, I know! But there’s so much to tell you guys first.”

    Sharpedo interjected. Whatever she wanted to say could wait; Seaking had to be found now.

    “It can’t wait! I need to talk to you all right now!

    The shark-like creature let loose a horrible roar. Seaking had been stuck alone in the ocean for the past week—he could be starving or hurt, and was surely lost and confused. Yet all Maressa wanted to do was talk. She didn’t want to look for him, and Seaking’s disappearance was her fault in the first place!

    Lanturn and Golduck stared in silent shock at the two. Sharpedo’s eyes were a deep shade of red, and the water around him frothed as he growled. Lanturn cautiously backed away, and Golduck swam protectively between the two Pokemon. But Maressa didn’t seem the least bit intimidated. Tears were trickling down her face again as she let out a sob.

    “I know it is.”

    Lanturn crooned sympathetically. It wasn’t Maressa’s fault—nobody had ever meant for Seaking to get lost.

    “It is my fault, Lanturn. Whatever happens to any of you is my responsibility. I made this promise when I became your trainer—to protect and care for all of you.” She let out a strangled sob. “And I didn’t. If it wasn’t for me, he would still be here.” Raising her head, she gazed at Sharpedo. “I’m so sorry. If there was anything I could do to bring him back, I would. But we might be in danger. Sharpedo, please come over here and let me explain everything.”

    The water around Sharpedo calmed, and the red in his eyes died down. Though he still looked unhappy, he swam closer to Lanturn and Golduck, the latter of whom eyed him warily.

    She glanced down at the Pokeball on her belt. Noah had given Amanda’s jacket back to her the last time she had seen him, and she was immensely relieved to find Gloom’s Pokeball still hidden in the lining. Taking a deep breath, she recounted everything that had happened while she was gone. She told them everything she told Archie, but included everything about Derek and his Pokemon as well as meeting Gloom.

    Golduck was startled; she brought another Pokemon—one that couldn’t even swim? One that would most likely die if Team Aqua’s goals came to fruition?

    Maressa sighed. “Yeah… there are things about that that I need to tell you. But don’t you want to meet him first? Don’t worry,” she said gently as she saw their looks of skepticism, “I know what I’m doing. I thought about it before I took him along with me—and it’s not as if I forced him, he came with me.”

    Sharpedo interjected. Did the Gloom know that she was with Team Aqua?

    “I told you, I’ll tell you about that part later. But please meet him; I don’t think he’s been cared for much, and I would really love it if you all got to know him and make him feel at home.”

    Sharpedo and Golduck continued to look uncertain, but Lanturn joyfully leapt out of the water and encouraged Maressa to bring Gloom out at once. Smiling at Lanturn’s enthusiasm, Maressa detached the Pokeball from her belt, and soon Gloom stood on top of Sharpedo’s head.

    “Gloom,” Maressa said gently. The Pokemon turned to look up at her briefly, then faced the water below again. He was standing completely still, as if afraid of falling. Maressa reached out, grabbed hold of him, and held him on her lap. Lanturn gleefully waved a fin in greeting. Golduck did the same, and Sharpedo added his disgruntled greetings to theirs.

    Maressa smiled at Gloom looking curiously at each of the Pokemon. “These are my Pokemon, Gloom. They’re my best friends, and I’d love it if you would join us and live with us. Don’t worry about the water—I’m not out on the ocean all the time. Golduck knows; he spends a lot of time inside with me, and now you can too!”

    The Grass-type Pokemon turned and looked up at her, and for the first time Maressa thought she could detect something other than indifference. Even though his eyes were closed and his mouth was permanently frowning, something gave her the impression that he was confused, and almost a little hurt.

    Maressa smiled wider and hugged him closer. “Don’t worry, we’ll protect you and make sure that you’re treated well. I’m sorry that you couldn’t meet the last member of our family…” She trailed off for a moment and sniffed. “But you can still be with the rest of us! How does that sound?”

    Gloom turned away from her and stared out at the water, as if contemplating on all she said. A breeze blew, causing the waves to turn choppy. Maressa was caught off balance for a moment, and gripped Lanturn tightly with her legs to stay on. She returned Gloom to his Pokeball, not wanting to run any risk of him falling into the water.

    Once the Grass-type was back in the small sphere, Golduck and Sharpedo cast her uncertain, worried looks.

    “Oh, don’t you see?” Maressa pleaded. “I couldn’t leave him. I know he could have just gone back to the wild, but I wanted to show him that life with people isn’t all bad—that he and other Pokemon aren’t worthless to all humans, and that we do love them. And that man who owned him before said that he had had Gloom for at least sixteen months. Would Gloom have anyone to return to if I set him free?” She looked down at the Pokeball on her belt. “Maybe someday I’ll send him back to the wild, but I want to give him a chance with us first. If he never wants to be with us, or if things get too dangerous, then I’ll let him go.” Even as the thought came to her, she felt herself fighting off a new wave of tears. What was this? How come she was crying so easily at everything now? Was she really that attached to Gloom already, or was the prospect of never seeing Seaking again accentuating the sadder aspects of life?

    She felt someone nuzzle her hand, and glanced down to see Lanturn looking up at her. Crimson eyes shining, Lanturn happily told her owner that she would do everything she could to make Gloom feel at home, and that she supported Maressa in her decision to make him part of their team.

    Sliding off Lanturn and into the water, Maressa wrapped her arms around the Electric-type in a hug.

    Golduck quacked, asking about Maressa to elaborate on her thoughts about Team Aqua.

    Maressa bit her lip for a moment. Here was the hard part. She had just gotten back with her friends, and she might lose them again. She tried to steel herself for rejection, but after a few seconds stopped trying. It didn’t matter what tears she would try to push back; she knew that she was a wreck without her Pokemon. Nonetheless, she had to tell them her decision, and go with it whether or not they decided to stay by her.

    Maressa related everything Tabitha had told her, and of her conversations with Derek afterward. Her words tumbled out in a rush; how she had thought through everything she had been told, and how she came to the decision that she would no longer be a Team Aqua member.

    “And I don’t think that they’ll let me out, so I’d have to escape without them knowing. And I really want you all to come with me. But this is your choice to make; I understand if you don’t want to betray them, and that you wouldn’t want to come with me for being a traitor, if you didn’t want to be with a human who was too much of a coward to finish what she started—” she cut herself off. Closing her eyes, she breathed deeply for a moment, trying to ready herself for whatever response they might have for her.

    When she opened her eyes, all three Pokemon were looking at her—but not with disgust or disappointment. They all looked so sad, and hurt by her words.

    Sharpedo growled sorrowfully. Did she really think that they wouldn’t want to be with her anymore just because she didn’t want to be on Team Aqua? Did she really think so little of their friendship?

    Maressa floated on the waves, speechless. Golduck quacked, telling her that they had never been had any love or loyalty Team Aqua. They were there because she was.

    Lanturn chimed in, saying that they would follow Maressa wherever she went, whether it was back to Mauville, back to Kanto, or even to a whole new region.

    Maressa found herself unable to say anything at these words. All she did was wrap her arms around Lanturn in a hug. She felt another pair of arms wrap around her, and Sharpedo’s snout nuzzling her side.

    “Thank you,” she whispered.

    They let go of each other, and Sharpedo dove underneath and resurfaced below her so that she was sitting atop him.

    “I’m going to make this work,” she told them. “We’ll get out of here and away from Team Aqua, and we will find Seaking and we can all be a family together again.” With a pang of guilt, she added, “And I’ll go to my parents and sister and explain what I’ve really been doing these past few months and make everything up to them.”

    Golduck looked skeptically at her, asking if she could trust anything she heard about Team Aqua from Team Magma.

    “I was thinking the same thing. At first, I thought Tabitha was just lying the whole time, but then I realized that everything just fits. I don’t think he was ever lying to me, even when he offered me a position on the team. I mean, he showed interest in us when he fought us at Mt. Chimney. And after all, he told me more about Team Aqua than anyone on our team ever did.” Her voice faded as she reflected on the curious relationship that existed between a grunt and enemy commander. He had seemed willing to tell her anything about Team Aqua; she wondered if she should have asked more questions, and if he told her more information than he told his own underlings…

    Snapping back to the present, she lamely finished with, “And the Team Aqua leaders already confirmed everything he said, anyway.”

    The Pokemon said nothing, but just floated along the waves, each lost in his or her own thoughts.

    “I think we should leave soon,” she informed them. “Before we’re sent out on any more missions. And if we do, we won’t have to join in on the attack on Team Magma.”

    Lanturn looked concerned. If Derek was counting on Team Aqua to attack them at that moment, shouldn’t she go with them like she promised?

    “What—Why?” Maressa asked in disbelief. “I want to help Derek, and attacking Team Magma and assisting Team Aqua is just going to put them all in more danger!”

    But he had told her that information so that Team Aqua wouldn’t accuse Maressa of treachery, Lanturn explained. He knew that Maressa had escaped; if she didn’t follow through with the attack, then he might assume that Team Aqua didn’t believe Maressa or that she had died on the trip to Mossdeep.

    Maressa sat on Sharpedo, her thoughts rolling along as she bobbed up and down on the waves. It had never occurred to her that Derek might have left her for dead.

    “Do you really think he’ll care that much about knowing whether I’m okay or not?”

    Golduck piped up, saying that if he cared enough about her to give away information about his team and put them at risk, then he would definitely want to make sure she was okay.

    “Yeah… I just don’t want to have a part in this anymore.” As she said this, her thoughts turned to Seaking. She would give anything in the world just to know that he was okay, and though her relationship with Derek was quite different from hers with Seaking, she could imagine how much pain and uncertainty he was going through.

    She looked back to her team. “Let’s do it.”
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
  14. I just have to get this out of the way first:

    This made me laugh so much because this is exactly how I think Archie's personality compares with Shelly's. *imaginary high-five*


    This was a great read, both as a way to settle a lot of matters raised by previous events and as a set up for what happens next. Though there was quite a lot that happened, it still felt like a relatively tame chapter, which is fitting considering what you imply the next chapter to be about.

    My favorite part of the chapter has to be Archie's speech. It reminded me a lot of the Team Aqua chapter in The Teller's Rally Interpretation 2, only here Archie seems much less laid back. It has an air of urgency to it, and it serves as a great [idealistic] summary of what Team Aqua is fighting for. Although I do have to wonder if this speech of his is somewhat rehearsed. He may have the same spiel for similar situations where a grunt's faith in the team is compromised, and he knows exactly what to say to turn that doubt around.

    Contrary to what I say above about her, I do feel like Shelly's short scene with Maressa here is warranted, and it does show that above all else, Shelly is someone her teammates could count on. I like how you balanced her sternness with her concern over Maressa's situation, and it's nice to see this side of her (although I'm pretty sure it's the last we'll do so, haha).

    As for the scene with her Pokemon, I did have to do double-takes on some of the dialogue, seeing as you're presenting the Pokemon's as indirect quotes. It wasn't too confusing, but I did have to check that what I read was in reference to what the Pokemon said rather than what Maressa was thinking. Also, it verges a bit on the cheesy side at the end with that last line, but I guess it makes sense seeing as that certainty in their plan contrasts nicely with how unsure Maressa was with her whole ordeal in the paragraphs before it.

    But how you handled Maressa revealing her intents of leaving Team Aqua was really good. Although I can't say I was surprised by how the Pokemon reacted to it, it seems like a great way to contrast all that doubt and fear she's been feeling in the past few chapters - that, hey, her Pokemon's with her no matter what. Again, a bit cheesy, but very much welcome for Maressa's situation.

    Overall a great chapter, and it succeeds in what it sets out to do, in that it resolves some plot and moves something that seems bigger in motion. I'm also interested in how you'll deal with the Seaking subplot - I figure it's gonna be something big in the future. Great job! :)
     
  15. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    *Returns le high-five* Yay! :D

    Ha, glad you liked that! ^_^ That speech was honestly what was holding me back the most, since I knew that it would have to be reasonable, but for the longest time I I couldn't come up with anything. It wasn't until about 1 a.m. of a sleepless night that I was able to come up with something, so I just decided to stick with it.

    And yeah, parts of it are definitely rehearsed. While it's all true for him, he doesn't want to give away too much information.

    He, maybe ;) I felt like it was necessary to try and undo the heartless, cartoonishly-evil Shelly of the earlier chatpers and show that everyone has a sympathetic side to them.

    Noted. I had a hard time trying to decide how to portray Pokemon speech, since I don't want it to come across as a direct translation but for it to be something that their trainer can understand, but also in that they speak more with feelings and actions than with direct words. Does that make sense?

    Yeah, I was worried about going on cheesy with this chapter since I tried making it so emotional. After you come to accept that someone is gone, you're really just accepting whatever comfort comes your way. As for the last line... I really couldn't think of what else to write DX

    Eh, I almost felt like the cheesiness here was inevitable. As I said before, any comfort at times like these are welcome, and I felt like it was necessary to show that her Pokemon are staying with her through thick and thin, though admittedly I may have gone way overboard XD

    Thanks! The Seaking subplot wasn't really planned--it was partway through writing that I realized that he wasn't around, so I'm deciding to roll with it and do what I can.

    Thanks so much for the review!
     
  16. Praxiteles

    Praxiteles Friendly POKéMON.

    I'd seen this fic when it just went up I think, and I was attracted by the premise, but I never got around to reading it. I'm gonna rehash what the others said and say that it's just so nice to focus a story on Team Aqua grunts, partly because Aqua Grunts are the coolest, but also because this is, the right perspective to do an evil organization fic. Everybody already knows too well that Archie has grandiose ideas and the player character is God in the form of a ten year old or whatever. The story of Team Aqua should come right from the bowels of the working trainers.

    Haha, I already like these two's friendship.

    Ahh, I really feel their sense of unfair helplessness in a situation they know they're too smart for. That came off really well :p

    Nice moment of environmental horror. Did I say I have a weakness for sea-based stories?

    Wow, great going with the type combination, police.

    Whoa, nice. You have a good eye for cool and scenic moments. I think they shine on the strength of your description, you seem to have good images. I thought the battle in general was well laid out, even if other people pointed out logical problems -- it had a nice momentum of attack after attack. I want to see how you write one on one battles too.

    *glaring* This boy is trouble.

    A lot of people like your friendship scenes. I found them very tantalizing to what were probably strong friendships she'd kept with members before this story started. The support she's ended up getting has been mostly from all kinds of new people, in different renegade situations; still, I wonder if she'll get a chance to go back on some of her older relationships too (and I also wonder which of them are solid friends, and which are 'trouble').

    I love this description of the sea route. I'm glad you have personal experience with diving and ocean stuff like you said.

    That breloom is now a favorite of mine.

    Ohhh I love the chaos of the battle. And Marressa really impresses me by how hands on she battles. I never thought a human would endure a leech seed by themself.

    Hahaha Team Magma seems to be stealing all the charisma in this fic.

    I'm really interested in how this plays out (maybe this is far off, but is there really a world-creating pokemon?) Your fic is very practical on one hand and the ultimate plot you have to follow is very very harebrained.

    When will this girl catch a break from being thrown around...

    I think Chapter 6 was my favorite so far; it was the most nuanced and dramatic exploration of the team dynamics yet, and it also let a lot of satisying questions open about what's really going on.

    A true Team Aqua Grunt.

    I like that the experience of working in the teams comes down to a kind of workplace ethics; what kind of circumstances led these people to find a life in their teams, and how disposable exactly are they to the company.

    Oh my god I already love her

    Your dad and I will discuss what you did later....

    Aw yeah!

    Well, this is an interesting development. I'm not sorry at all to see Tate and Liza introduced in this fic *points at avatar*

    These dream sequences are always great :D The atmosphere of trailing longing from whatever she's failed to do just before falling asleep, and the recurring theme of the sea, which definitely has part of her phobia of the ocean, but also I think, must be foreshadowing a deeper something coming.

    Haha, nice. These people are ripping through their and each others' teams so they can tell each other they're okay.

    Sorry I couldn't give critique -- I actually deleted some paragraphs I wrote in the first few chapters about dialogue and action, because you obviously figured them out yourself (very very quickly, it seems like!) I think this is a really strong fic that's following through on its good premise. I also think it's rare for a fic to represent its pokemon so strongly (I can only think of one other). The last update was a while back, but I certainly hope this story is chugging along.
     
  17. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    Heh, thanks! ^_^; and heck yes, Team Aqua grunts!! It's great to see another fan :D

    Thanks! Glad I was able to make the atmosphere I was going for.

    No you did not, and I'm happy to say that I share that same weakness! :D Even though that chapter remains my least favorite, I'm happy that some good things were there in it.

    Well, since when have the Pokemon world's police ever really managed to get much done without the help of a bunch of ten-year-olds?

    Thanks! As I said before, I kinda want to re-hash this part of the story, but others have advised to just keep going and so I'm leaving it here for now. Glad I was able to make something out if, though ^_^;

    Not as much as the ones to come, I'm afraid.

    I guess I had never really thought of it, but relationships are a big arching theme in this fic. Certainly, not all of the relationships she'll make will be beneficial (this is Team Aqua we're talkin' 'bout, here), but I also want to show that everyone is human and has the need for companionship.

    Thank you! I love the ocean :p

    He's got quite a bit of personality in him.

    I think I remember coming across somewhere how an original concept for Pokemon had the humans battling alongside them, though it was ultimately rehashed. Still, it always interested me, and a trainer like Maressa isn't afraid to get her hands dirty if her best friends are fighting as well.

    They're certainly some of my favorites X)

    Working with the hare-brained plot was actually a struggle I was having earlier on when I started writing. I've come up with a sort of solution; I just hope it works out...

    Just you wait; it hasn't even started.

    That chapter was by far my favorite. I kept re-writing it because it was so much fun and I really wanted it to work out well since I felt it was so important. Glad to hear you like it!

    Her body image is very important to her.

    That's another part I want to explore while writing this fic, though I'm not sure how in-depth I want to go. I was actually considering exploring concepts such as harassment in the workplace (just look at the female grunts' outfits, for corn's sake >_<) but I've also realized that I'm really not comfortable writing that and just don't know enough about it to go in detail.

    There'll be more of her around!

    Something along those lines, yeah XD Though Tabitha would totally be the dad and Maxie the mom.

    Yay! I was a bit worried that bringing them in would seem an abrupt change, but I hope that where I want to go with it will be worthwhile.

    You hit the nail on the head and I'm actually really, really happy that someone has noticed this. And thanks!

    Yep!

    No worries! I'm really thankful that you left this review in the first place. As I told you on your profile, this review actually gave me a lot of motivation to keep working and really brightened my day.

    And thanks for the comments on improvement! I really can't take all the credit, as I couldn't have improved nearly so much without the reviewers helping me out. This fic didn't have many updates because I had a lot on my plate in terms of school, but hopefully I'll be more productive over Christmas break and in the near year. Thanks again for the review, Praxiteles!

    Hey everyone! So I (finally) got the next chapter written! It's a bit shorter than the more recent ones and didn't turn out quite as I expected, but that's partially because when I tried writing it the way I expected it to go nothing would come out (if that makes sense...). So enjoy!

    Chapter 12

    Sarah pushed her light hair out of her eyes as she scanned an article. Idly taking a bite out of her hotdog, she leaned against the wall, occasionally holding the hotdog in her mouth while she used her free hand to scroll down the tablet.

    She was so intently reading until something large hit her and the hotdog was knocked out of her mouth and onto the floor.

    “Ah! No!” she cried. Turning around, she saw Cloe standing there, her eyes wide open as they were fixed on the food lying on the ground. “What’s wrong with you? Why would you just run up to someone and push them when they’re holding food in their mouth?”

    “I’m really sorry! Look, it’s still good—here, you can eat it!” She bent down and picked up the hotdog, holding out for Sarah to take. When her blonde-haired companion didn’t move, she started to wave it around under her nose. “Come on, you know you want to. It’s still warm.”

    Closing her eyes and shaking her head, Sarah let out a small laugh. “It’s fine—you can just throw it away. Anyway, what’s up?” she asked as Cloe walked back from the trash can.

    “Not much, I just wanted to see what’s going on with you.”

    “Cloe, we work together. I’m with you almost every hour of every single day. And all we do is stand outside and watch Vigoroths swing from trees and scratch their butts and we call it ‘work’ and get paid for it. We talk to each other all the time—there isn’t anything going on in my life that you don’t know about.”

    “Come on, we do more than that! Remember the time we watched a Zangoose take off that Seviper’s head?”

    “Ew! Don’t remind me about it.”

    Indicating the tablet, Cloe said, “And I don’t know what you were doing on your tablet.”

    “Oh. I was just reading some article. Apparently, if you keep a small adorable Pokemon as a pet, you’re more likely to be a happy person.”

    Cloe’s eyebrows rose. “People have written an entire article on this?”

    “Yeah. What about it?”

    “It just seems like common sense; I wouldn’t have thought that anyone would need an article to know that sort of stuff.”

    “This isn’t common sense—Maressa didn’t know it either. She was the one who sent me the link and told me that she thought it was really cool.”

    “Yeah, but since when has Maressa ever been one to talk about having common sense?”

    Sarah frowned. “What do you mean?”

    “She thought nail-polish remover was the same thing as make-up remover, so she put the nail-polish remover on her face. And when she was helping me pack, she put my face soap in the same bag as my contact lens solution—it ruined my contacts! And she’ll keep eating food after she’s brushed her teeth at night.”

    Sarah shrugged. “Eh. Everyone has stupid moments. At least she doesn’t decide to get peoples’ attention by ramming into them.” She cast a glare at her companion as Cloe smiled sheepishly.

    Cloe’s smile faded. “I’m just glad that Maressa’s okay…”

    “No kidding. I can’t believe that she got out of a Team Magma base! And she’s already going on a new mission.”

    “She is? How do you know this—how come I don’t’?”

    “Maybe because you aren’t friends with an admin?”

    Though Sarah wasn’t sure she would call Matt a “friend,” she was closer to him than most of the other teammates. She figured it was due to her being in his squadron from the beginning; there had been many idle hours that they filled with just talking, and lately he had been inviting her and a few other teammates to go out and eat food or just chill.

    Cloe nodded. “Probably. Sarah, whatever you hear, you have to tell me. I don’t have friends in high places.” Looking relieved, she added, “But from what you’ve heard, Maressa’s doing okay?”

    Sarah nodded. “Yep. She’s out on a mission, and her group is coming back soon. I just haven’t gotten the chance to see her yet,” she added, looking slightly dejected. Checking the time on her watch, she muttered, “Aw, crap, I need to go on duty in five minutes…”

    Clapping her hands, Cloe exclaimed, “Oh, it’ll be so good to see her and talk to her again!”

    Snorting, Sarah asked, “Talk to her about what? We haven’t done anything of interest.”

    “Yeah, well I bet that wherever she went, she didn’t watch those Vigoroths have—”

    At that moment, a door could be heard opening in one of the higher levels, and it was shortly followed by a cascade of footfalls. Running down the halls, Sarah and Cloe sprinted up the steps to see a group of fifteen or so team members come in, looking exhausted but mostly pleased. Matt stood at the head of the group, giving orders as his pale face glistened with sweat.

    “You all are dismissed.”

    The group dispersed, and Sarah and Cloe soon saw Maressa walk through the diffusing crowd.

    Calling her name, they ran over and hugged her, but as soon as Cloe let go she asked, “What happened to you?”

    Maressa’s outfit was torn and dirty, and her forearms were littered with burns. Her bandana and left glove were nowhere to be seen, and an acrid smell hung about her. Most noticeable was her hair, which was black and charred at the bottom edge. Her Golduck stood next to her, and though he had scratches and bite marks on him, he seemed significantly less put-out.

    Rubbing her eyes wearily, she said, “I’ll talk to you guys later. Let me put on a new outfit.” She glared down at her Golduck. “And I need to have a talk with you.”

    As the duo walked away, the Water-type quacked nonchalantly. Maressa angrily replied, “When I said ‘make sure they’re okay,’ that doesn’t mean ‘encourage them to start spitting fire at me’—”

    As the door slammed shut behind them, Cloe turned to Sarah, looking amused with a hint of worry. “What do you suppose that was all about?”

    “I think we just need to give those two some alone time. Anyway, I need to go on watch again. I’ll see you soon—and if you get to see Maressa, tell her I want to meet up with her again!”

    Cloe smiled and waved. “Sure thing!”

    “Thanks! Enjoy your break!”

    As Sarah walked away, she heard a scream erupt from behind her, echoing around the halls and penetrating the closed doors.

    “I LOST TWO INCHES OF HAIR BECAUSE OF YOU!”

    =============

    Maressa flopped down on the cot, glaring at Golduck, who stood in front of her and acted as though nothing was wrong.

    “Do not tell me that everything was a success. Yeah, we made sure those Team Magma members got away, but half of our squad is pissed at me because you led us on a wild goose chase through the rainforest, because you just HAD to insist that the one Linoone who ran away had the Card Key that we needed to access the information, and so I had to run after you and take along another seven people and get absolutely nothing done. Have you forgotten about my leg?!” She pointed to her left leg, and though the cut was hidden beneath the fabric of her pants, it throbbed horribly. “Walking is a pain, not to mention trying to run. But I had to run after and take along half of the squad to make sure that Team Aqua didn’t completely overpower Team Magma.”

    Rolling onto her back, she sighed. “And that base was teeny—Derek had nothing to worry about. Even if we did manage to take any hostages, I doubt it would really matter. That base was in the middle of nowhere and doing nothing.” Her eyes narrowed until they were but amber slits in her face. “And then your psybeam ‘missed’ Team Magma while they were escaping and hit the opposite cliff face, completely blocking us off. Seriously, Golduck, whose side are you on?”

    The ease and amity vanished from Golduck’s face as he glared at his trainer. Whose side was he on? Whose side was she on? Maressa was the one who said she no longer wanted to be part of Team Aqua or do anything that would help them.

    Shifting her eyes, Maressa replied, “Yeah, I know. It’s just that after everything we’d done, the admins were starting to be impressed with us and thought we would have done a pretty good job. But after that embarrassment, they would never think about promoting us…”

    Golduck quacked angrily. This wasn’t about Maressa or the admins or what anyone thought—it was about keeping her promise to Derek. She had successfully attacked a small base and managed to keep both herself and any Team Magma members involved safe. Without the team suspecting her of treason, she could take the other Pokemon and get out of there and live a normal life again.

    Sitting up, she reflected on all her Pokemon had told her. It was true—as far as she and Derek had planned, the mission was a success. No one from Team Magma had been captured, but she had proved to the higher-ups of Team Aqua that she hadn’t betrayed them.

    Looking at Golduck, she admitted, “I suppose that’s true. I just hope no one found your horrible battle performance surprising. But Team Aqua did end up getting Team Magma’s Key Card—we’re going to find out something that they know.”

    Golduck waved a hand dismissively. Whether it was Team Aqua or Team Magma who had the upper hand—none of that mattered now. For all that mattered, the two of them could go on fighting each other until the end of time.

    His vermillion eyes glanced curiously at her. Did she have any plans or preferences for when they were going to leave Team Aqua?

    Maressa stared downwards, rolling a Pokeball between her hands. “Well…”

    What? he demanded.

    “I really wanted to see Sarah and Cloe before I left and hang out with them a bit.”

    Golduck shook his head, quacking furiously. She couldn’t take time to say goodbye to some friends—she had decided to leave Team Aqua, and that meant cutting off contact with everyone involved.

    Frowning, Maressa put in, “I just want to say goodbye before I leave them for good.”

    That was the point, he emphasized. If she was going to make some tearful farewell, then they would know something was up and their plan for escape would be ruined. He knew that Maressa cared for her friends, but she was duty-bound to her Pokemon—her family—first. Stamping his foot, the Water-type cast her a heavy glare. He refused to do anything that would endanger any of the other Pokemon on their team.

    Looking downcast, Maressa stopped rolling the Pokeball between her hands. Her face looked unusually strained, and she looked reluctant to say anything. But a moment later she murmured, “You’re right. The sooner we get out of here, the better.” Holding up a Pokeball, she said, “And we haven’t even said ‘hi’ yet to Gloom today.”

    She tossed the Pokeball in the air, and Gloom appeared before them in a burst of white light. Getting off the bed and sitting next to the Grass-type, Maressa put on a smile and greeted him. “Hey Gloom!”

    The furious glare vanished from Golduck’s face as he said hello to his fellow Pokemon.

    Gloom looked at them both, then started glancing uncertainly around the room.

    “I’m sorry I haven’t let you out of your Pokeball at all today, and I’m sorry that you haven’t been outside. But there are guards all around the perimeter of the base, and we’re not allowed to go too far outside it. So we’ll just have to make do with this,” she finished with a wave to the bare bedroom.

    Gloom had stopped looking around, and just stood before her, his face still fixated in a small frown and expressing no further emotion.

    Maressa smiled. “Don’t worry—we’ll be out of here soon, and then you can play outside all you want! Does that sound good?”

    No response. The Pokemon continued to stand there while Maressa smiled at him and Golduck began to fidget uncomfortably. The Water-type shot a glance at Maressa—what were they to do? This Gloom clearly didn’t have any interest in talking to either of them.

    Still smiling, Maressa reached out to the Poison-type and picked him up. As she brought him over to her lap, the stench from his flower nearly overwhelmed her. The rotting odor brought tears to her eyes, and she was struggling not to gag. She could have sworn that he hadn’t smelled this bad before. Maybe the stench he gave off had something to do with his mood? But he seemed just the same as before. Perhaps it was due to a difference in stress levels? She had no idea, though it at least seemed possible that a constantly-changing environment was making him stressed-out.

    She glanced down at the Pokemon in her arms, and the way he sat unmoving, just staring at something off to the side reminded her of how Seaking was shortly after she had met him. A pang of sorrow hit her heart at the thought of it, but it also gave her an idea.

    Cradling Gloom in her arms, she leaned her head back and softly began to sing the lullaby she had sang to Seaking a few years ago.

    O hush thee, my baby
    The night is behind us
    And black are the waters that sparkled so green
    The moon o’er the combers
    Looks downward to find us
    At rest in the hollows that rustle between

    Where billow meets billow
    And soft be thy pillow
    O weary wee flipperling,
    Curl at thy ease!
    The storm shall not wake thee,
    Nor beast overtake thee
    Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas


    Maressa sang softly, repeating the last line a few times and swaying slowly. As she sang, she could feel the current of Route 119’s river flow by as she crouched in the water, holding Seaking and trying to calm him. Even as she sat, she could envision the moonlight shining over the dark waters, and feel Seaking’s smooth scales beneath her fingers.

    As she finished, she opened her eyes to see Gloom staring straight ahead, his body trembling. Peering over to see his face, Maressa was slightly surprised to see tears pouring out of his eyes watch him sob. She glanced up and saw Golduck staring at the Grass-type in shock, looking uncomfortable.

    Golduck quacked uncertainly. What was Gloom’s problem?

    Maressa shrugged. “I’m still trying to figure that out myself.” She hugged the Pokemon more tightly to her, managing to ignore the stench for the moment. “But don’t worry about him—he’ll be fine. He’s just had a lot to cope with.”

    She dimly heard the patter of footsteps outside the door, and automatically whipped out her Pokeballs to recall her two Pokemon. The Pokemon returned in a flash of red light just in time for the door to open and Matt to stand there, staring curiously at the space that was previously occupied.

    He smiled down at Maressa as she hastened to her feet, looking slightly apprehensive. “Relax,” he said with a wave of his hand. “You can have your Pokemon out and chill with them, I don’t mind. I was just coming in to see how you were feeling after that last mission.”

    “Really?” Maressa asked with relief. As she fingered her singed hair, she sourly admitted, “It could have gone a lot better.”

    Matt chuckled, slapping overhanging belly with a meaty hand. “Your hair will grow back, it’s no big deal,” he said to Maressa’s annoyance.

    Shoving aside her irritation, she asked, “Did you guys find anything on the access card?”

    Matt shrugged. “It was mostly just archives of weather patterns. They weren’t only from Route 120, though, which makes me think that they probably stole those records from the Weather Institute. There were also some simulations recorded on there, so our team is looking into that now. Anyway, I wanted to tell you that you did a good job. Your Pokemon were pretty exceptional,” he said with a cheeky smile.

    Grimacing, Maressa answered, “They’re usually much better—I promise.”

    “Not at all! Your Golduck might have made a few mistakes, but everyone does from time to time, and his intentions were good. Besides, him chasing that Linoone all around the base and shooting attacks provided enough distraction for us to go in and get the access card without much trouble. Even when he did do something wrong, I could tell that you knew what to do. I think I’d like to keep you around,” he finished as he gave her an approving smile.

    Maressa perked up. “Does this mean I don’t have to work with Shelly anymore?”

    He nodded as he said, “I’m going to ask permission to transfer you to my group, and I’m pretty sure it’ll be approved.”

    “Really?”

    “Yep. The boss honestly doesn’t care that much which grunt goes where—unless you guys are in for a promotion, you’re all pretty much the same to him. Anyway, I’ll contact you later with any new assignments once I hear about it.” With those words, he turned away and closed the door.

    As soon as the door shut, Golduck popped out of his pokeball, arms crossed and staring intently at where the commander had just stood.

    “You heard all that?” Maressa asked her Pokemon.

    Golduck nodded and quacked sourly. Matt was tactless.

    Maressa shrugged. “I guess. Almost as tactless as you,” she added bitterly as she combed her fingers through her hair.

    Golduck glanced at his trainer and quacked again. He didn’t like Matt.

    “Well, you’d better, because I’m really hoping that we’ll get to work with him and be free of Shelly. Oh, come on,” she begged when Golduck didn’t react. “He can’t be bad. I’m sure you’ll prefer things with him. Why don’t you like him?”

    Golduck glared daggers at her, and Maressa was startled to realize that some of Golduck’s anger was directed at her. She was supposed to get out of Team Aqua as fast as she could, and Matt was clearly focusing attention on her. Being re-assigned to him would make it all the more difficult to leave quietly.

    Sighing, Maressa answered, “I know. But don’t worry—we’ll get out of here as soon as the coast is clear. I promise.” As the Water-type continued to stand with arms crossed, she pressed, “What else is wrong?”

    The Pokemon glanced back at her, but this time with concern. He quacked, telling Maressa that he just wanted her to be careful and stay safe.

    She smiled. “Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. Besides, we need to be more concerned about his safety,” she said as she held up Gloom’s Pokeball. “Anyway, you should take a rest. I know things didn’t go the way I planned to, but you earned this. I’ll see you after I shower.”

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Maressa’s eyes darted back and forth from the cards in her hand to the ones on the table before her. Across from her and on her left, Cloe and Sarah were rapidly removing cards from their hands and picking up new ones from their decks. On Maressa’s right, her friend Mark was looking uncertainly at the cards on the table and the ones in his hand.

    Through the windows, the only visible sight was a sky as black as pitch—any celestial bodies were obscured by curtains of cloud. A small light on the ceiling illuminated the gameplay on the table below as the four people were rapidly picking up and placing down cards in a game Sarah had dubbed “Peanuts”—which, as far as Maressa could tell, was just four-way Solitaire.

    “How are you feeling about your new position?” Cloe asked Maressa. Once she had cleaned up, Maressa had lunch with her friends and filled them in on what had happened to her, telling them the same things she had told Archie. Even now, she was still feeling the weight of regret at having to betray her friends’ trust.

    “I’m kinda looking forward to it,” Maressa admitted as she continued to slam cards on the table. “It’ll be great no longer having Shelly tell me what to do all the time.”

    “But won’t it be just the same with Matt?”

    “No, Matt is way better than Shelly,” Sarah butted in. “He’s a lot less pushy and in your face. If you do something wrong, he’ll tell you and get mad at you for it, but otherwise he’s really chill.”

    “I like Shelly,” Mark admitted.

    ”How?”

    “She really knows what she’s doing, and her sassiness is actually really funny. She can also be nice—sometimes.”

    “If by ‘sometimes,’ you mean ‘never,’ then I can agree with that,” Maressa murmured.

    “Hey, if you’re looking to work with nice people, then you got the raw end of the deal,” he shot back.

    “What do you mean by that?”

    “You said that Matt is sending you out to the Northwestern part of Hoenn, right?”

    “What about it?”

    “Those people are thugs, Maressa.”

    She glanced at him skeptically. “You know this organization isn’t exactly legal…”

    “I get what he’s saying, though,” Cloe added. “He’s talking about people who are only in Team Aqua for the money.”

    “This is our day-job. We all get paid.”

    “Yeah,” Sarah said, “but people like us are in Team Aqua because it’s right—it’s what we believe in and we’re fighting to help other people. But the team members who are sent out on small assignments without their commanders are only on Team Aqua because they want to get paid. They don’t care about their Pokemon or about this world. They don’t care about what they’re told to do—they just do it because they want their money.”

    “Yeah, well,” Maressa muttered, “that seems to be the kind of people teams like this one want the most.”

    “Maressa,” Mark said sharply, and she glanced up at him, slightly worried. His dark eyes were narrowed as he asked, “Where is your Peanuts pile?”

    Maressa looked down at the table and suddenly realized that her deck was completely depleted. “I win! PEANUTS!”

    “NO!” Cloe slammed her hand of cards down on the table. “I had one card left—one card! I was so close!” She sighed as Sarah began to collect the rest of the cards on the table and tally up everyone’s points.

    “That leaves Maressa with seventy-nine, Cloe with sixty-seven, Mark with sixty-three and me with thirty-two… How do I only have thirty-two points?”

    “It’s because you suck,” Mark said simply.

    Sarah laughed as she answered, “Thanks, Mark. Maressa, I can’t believe you won three rounds in a row. You’re so lucky.”

    “For real, though,” Cloe agreed. “I can’t believe you managed to escape from Team Magma! And then come here and get to go on a mission right away!”

    “I can’t believe it either,” Maressa murmured. As the words left her mouth, her thoughts turned to Derek. How was he doing? Had he been punished for her escape? She hoped that he was able to figure out that she was okay.

    “Well,” Sarah declared as she stood up, “Hopefully your luck will hold out for a while yet. I need to get to bed.”

    “What? Why? It’s only nine p.m.!”

    “I’m supposed to be up and ready by six tomorrow morning.”

    “But this could be our last chance to talk for a while!” Maressa whined as Cloe and Mark also stood up.

    “Maybe for a few days, but we’ll see each other again soon. Besides, we’re both under Matt now—we’ll be seeing each other more often, if anything!”

    “Why do you look this upset?” Cloe asked.

    The regret and guilt was weighing heavier on Maressa’s heart more than ever before. She longed for nothing more than to tell them the truth, to tell them everything that had really happened and all about meeting Derek and just stay up all night talking to them just like she used to.

    But she couldn’t.

    “It’s just—I feel like I just got back and already I have to leave again. It’s like we never get enough chance to talk to each other anymore.”

    “Well, if your Pokemon weren’t so good at battling, then you could have stayed at the bottom of the team ranking with us and stayed on watch for hours,” Mark said.

    Sarah shook her head. “It’s all Golduck’s fault. You should never have let him be so strong.” She smiled at her friend. “Hey, maybe if my Sealeo can get back to training, then we can get promoted as well and be with you more often!”

    The four of them walked into the hallway, wishing each other well before heading in their own directions. “Cheer up, Maressa,” Cloe said. “It’s not as if we won’t see each other again. We’ll talk soon.” Giving her friend a hug, she and Sarah departed down the hallway as Mark walked down a different corridor.

    Maressa watched their forms recede into the darkness, a sorrow weighing in her as she reflected on her friend’s parting words.

    “I wish it was like that,” she whispered.
     
  18. I really like the opening scene here. The more laid back, almost nonchalant way Sarah and Cloe were acting puts a great contrast when Maressa and Golduck start arguing. It was very simple and quiet, and I thought that was a smart way of easing the reader into the chapter.

    Nice of you to show Maressa's doubts with her plan of escape as well, since it works great as a continuation of how ready she felt at the end of the previous chapter. Contrasting that with how Golduck was the one who was ready to leave makes a lot of sense, and I could tell that it'll put a strain on their relationship given that she has a new job now. I really like Maressa's more vocal character here, too, especially when she's talking with Golduck.

    I was sort-of hoping that their mission infiltrating the Magma base would figure in a bit more, but I get why you'd relegate it into a flashback rather than going full-on detailing it since it's meant to be a distraction and nothing else. I just thought it would add some action into the chapter, but I'll all for more quieter chapters like this, of course. :p

    I was gonna comment on the Gloom scene, but I feel like you're setting that up for something, so I'll just say that I'm really curious as to where you're taking Gloom's character.

    Again, good job with the chapter, and I can't wait to read what's coming next. :)
     
  19. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner Peace to the Mountain

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    She said EXACTLY what I was thinking. I am much amused. XD

    Pffff... Good answer. Or funny answer, at any rate.


    Anyway. I rather like how you're handling the pokémon/human conversations in this. It's an elegant solution; it flows about as well as it would if they were speaking the same language, while still making it clear enough that they aren't. Pretty cool. :D
     
  20. Rediamond

    Rediamond Middle of nowhere

    Hi. Just finished reading this.

    To start with, I like it. A lot. I like the style of it, the scope, and characterization. I had to think for a fairly long while to come up with enough things to note to make it worth our time for me to leave this review and you to read it.

    I'm not sure how I feel about the Pokemon dialogue's formatting. I mean, to start with it confuses me exactly how the two are communicating. Can trainers understand Pokemon language? Just that of a few species? In detail or vaguely? Because I'm pretty sure that all of these hypotheses have been contradicted at some point or another. And while others have noted they like the style, for me it's a thing that consistently takes me out of the narrative in temporary confusion.

    Which is problematic here because the narrative really does flow. Some of the dialogue can occasionally sound cliche (like the conversation with lanturn/sharpedo/golduck), but overall it usually works. I've even really liked some parts (Tabitha's later scenes, Archie's monologue... which actually made me really sympathize with Team Aqua's cause). Setting is good, but it's Hoenn so that's kind of a given ;)

    I'm also not entirely sure how I feel about the escalation of things. It starts being 'sold' as a story more or less about the grunts of a criminal organization doing day to day things. And then that's not at all what it's about. Still a great story, but not quite what I thought I was getting in to. And, to be honest, I kind of like the low key stuff more than your battles. Those are ok, but I think overall weaker than dialogue and character interactions.

    tl;dr you've got a good story, maybe rethink pokemon-human dialogue
     

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