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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

    Wow, so many reviews! Thanks you guys!!


    Heh, thanks! My thought process was more that Sarah and Cloe hadn't shown up for a while and needed some screen time, so I put them in there. Glad it worked out!

    Thanks! I was happy that I finally got to have a real character scene between the two of them. And I wanted Maressa's doubts to be there so that it would fit in with how she was enjoying being an active Aqua member at the beginning of the fic.

    Honestly, I didn't include it because I just couldn't get anything down. I had a few paragraphs for over a month, but I just couldn't really go anywhere with them and didn't feel like they made much sense, so I just decided to show the after-effects of it. Plus, I had tried writing the full out plan and mission earlier in the fic, and I feel like it didn't go that well, so I opted for a different approach this time.

    You'll see! ;)

    Again, thank you so much! Always a pleasure :)

    I'm willing to be that I laughed more at your response than you did at the fic XD

    That's kinda odd, seeing as other people have said it's a clunky situation that makes them confused XD I'm glad you like it though! I was trying to get that the Pokemon aren't speaking our language, and thus why I don't have direct translations, but that what they say can still be understood by their own trainers. Thanks for the comment, but I may end up just going for the direct translation if other people are still confused about it.

    Thanks for the review! Good to see you back :)

    Thanks for dropping by! It's always greatly appreciated :)

    Yeeeaaah, I've been seeing that others are having the same problems. I was trying to get at that the Pokemon are speaking a different language from humans, and that's why I didn't put a direct translation; that what they're saying has the meaning, but it's not the actual words. I also mean for the trainers who have been with their own Pokemon for a while can understand them, like Maressa and Golduck, Derek and Breloom, Tabitha and Mightyena etc. As I said to Sike Saner, I may end up changing this since I can see a lot are having issues with it.

    Thank you--it really means a lot. Yeah, looking back, I can see that the conversation between maressa and her Lanturn and Golduck and Sharpedo was really cheesy and she's a broken, emotional mess XD Not sure if I'll do something later about it lol. Glad to hear that Archie's scene worked out--I wrote it when I couldn't sleep at night, so I wasn't sure how well it would turn out at the time XD

    I've come to realize that battles are my weak points, and I'm honestly not too sure what to do about them. I feel like the solution was 'keep trying,' but it also seems like they haven't gotten anywhere lol. Thanks, though! I'll keep it in mind.

    As for the escalation, the whole idea I had for this story in the first place was a member of Team Aqua/Magma betraying their own team and thus setting in motion the events that cause the awakening of Kyogre/Groudon and how it resolves from there. I thought it would be best to start it out as low-key and just portray the members in their environment and have it grow from there, so I'm sorry if the story ends up turning into what you didn't think it was ):

    Thanks again, it really means a lot! I'll see what I can do about that dialogue, and hopefully come up with a better solution than what I have now.

    Well, to everyone else, I haven't started writing the next chapter... because I've been writing an extra for this instead. I know I didn't list options or ask if anyone would want to read it, but I was feeling the inspiration and since the two-year-anniversary of Drowning just happened, I felt like doing something special for it. I'm still proof-reading and editing, but it should be up soon! Thank you all :)
     
  2. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Looong time, no see, right? I've owed you these for much too long, so let's get down to brass tacks...

    Chapter 10

    "Spat between gritted teeth" reads strange to me, since it sounds like he's literally spitting, which would be hard to do if his teeth were clamped shut. I think maybe a different dialogue tag would be better here.

    The part where Derek's talking to Golduck felt like it went on a little long to me. At one point Derek mentioned that they needed to hurry up before anybody else came, but since Golduck knocked out that nuzleaf immediately before he got there, and there were grunts around at the time, I'm surprised it took anyone that long to show up. If there's nobody around (maybe they all got knocked out?), you could maybe mention that, or have them duck into a room or something for the time it would take to have that conversation.

    Thinking *about everything that had transpired, maybe?

    Haha, nice.

    *in

    I think "praised" looks a bit silly as a speech tag here--it's pretty clear that's what Tabitha's doing just from what he says.

    *lying

    *have

    Missing some words in the first part of this sentence.

    I enjoyed the conversation between Matt and Tabitha overall. I get the impression that they actually know each other to some extent, or have met before, rather than just having heard about one another secondhand--I wonder what the story there is?

    "...in case they *ever ran into..."

    Huh. I don't remember how you actually come across the dive HM in the games, but it's kind of interesting to consider that the player may be privileged with access to technology that ordinary people don't have. I'm sure if Team Aqua knew the HM existed, they would just steal it for themselves! All in all this makes it sound as though this story's set a little earlier than the games, but based on the fact that we've already had the meteorite theft, it would seem not. The following paragraph where Amanda's saying they're waiting to see whether the technology to teach pokémon to dive or the development of deep-sea submarines is finished first sounds particularly odd--usually when people are talking about tech in those terms, they're talking about stuff that's at least a couple years off. But Captain Stern's submarine should already be mostly built by this point, so if Team Aqua's been watching that unfold they should have a good idea of when it's coming, and the dive HM should already be invented, if you're sticking more or less to the game's timeline. To me it just sounds weird that Amanda's talking about the potential for deep-sea submarine technology when there's an example of one sitting in Slateport about 80% done.

    The little scene at the end of the chapter with Maressa riding on Tentacruel was nice. Since I've read the later chapters already, I kind of know where you're going with Maressa's ambivalence towards quitting Team Aqua. It's definitely one of the highlights of this story, I think--the protagonist isn't someone who just inherently does the right thing, or is even able to decide what the right thing is a lot of the time. I also liked the little bit where Maressa is kind of disgusted/weirded out by tentacruel, which to me was also a plus--she really reads as a whole and flawed person, someone who isn't universally "nice" and autimatically a friend to all (sea) life or anything of the sort.

    Sort of a grab bag of scenes here, mostly getting Maressa back to Team Aqua, plus the bit in the Magma base at the beginning. It's mostly setup for the upcoming chapters, and it works just fine for that--again, having read the next couple, I can see how some of the threads established here are going to play out.

    Chapter 11


    So we're getting Jirachi in on the mix now, huh? You're just going to throw ever yone of your favorite pokémon in here at some point, aren't you? XD

    This development provides some interesting questions about where the narrative's going from here. So far we haven't seen any sign of a May/Brendan figure who might be coming to stop Team Magma or Aqua's plans. Does this mean that there's going to need to be an alternative means of stopping Groudon/Kyogre? A wish to Jirachi might be just the thing (though, of course, Mildred's little bit in the scene suggests it might have more to do with wakening the legends than putting them back to sleep). It will be interesting to see how this little bit with Tate ends up intersecting Maressa's story. Although supposedly the Millenium Comet's arrival was supposed to be "only a few days away" at this point, and while it feels like it's been more than a few days in Maressa's part of the narrative, nothing's come up about it yet...

    "Spectated" is a bit odd here... It's not actually wrong, but it's a pretty exotic use of the word.

    This sentence is a bit messy. It should be "might," not "may," and "swum," not "swam." The end part is kind of clumsily worded... I think you could leave off "than he," or maybe reword to something like "even though she was much slower than him" to make it read a bit cleaner.

    - I liked the part with Maressa in the cave and her dream shortly thereafter. A lot of pretty imagery; in particular I liked the part with all the chinchou and lanturn lighting up the water column--it would definitely be a beautiful sight.

    I think you've got an extra word in here.

    Archie's speech here is an interesting contrast to the way he talks in the games--Team Aqua's schtick there seems to be more "we need to expand the ocean so there's more habitat for pokémon!" It's a bit dumb, but honestly pretty benign, even though it would be a catastrophe if they actually managed to succeed. Archie here sounds a lot more vengeful, much more bitter about the way humans treat pokémon and the ocean, and I get the sense that he's more interested in destruction rather than just more water. An increase in the sea level would definitely take care of those waterfront restorts in Lilycove!

    Heh, her eyebrows probably aren't scarlet... that's not a natural human color, and most people don't dye their eyebrows!

    It would have been nice if we'd gotten to see more of Maressa interact with Seaking earlier, so we could be remembering these moments along with her. It might be because you didn't know where you were going to go with the story initiall, so you didn't get a ton of opportunity to set this up, but yeah, we pretty much only see Seaking during that fight with Team Magma, so we don't have as much of a connection to his loss as Maressa does.

    - It's neat that Team Aqua has a bunch of tanks in their base specifically for water pokémon to hang out in... a nice concession you don't often see; even in the pokémon world, the architecture tends to be designed primarily to accomodate humanoids. Nice how Maressa climbs into the tank to talk with her mons, too.

    Haha, that sounds like it might be kind of a bad idea... those super-abrasive scales, you know?

    I think I get what you're going for here, but I think the way it came out kinda creepy. The real reason why Gloom is with Maressa is because he chose to be, yeah? Keeping him around for any other reason would be hella wrong. Also, if you'd been away from your friends/family for sixteen months, I imagine they'd still be there for you if you got back, right? I'm not sure why it would be different for a pokémon, assuming they have reasonably long lifespans. The way you wrote things here sound to me more like rationalizations Maressa would make if Gloom hadn't indicated he wanted to come but she was keeping him anyway, whereas I think you were going more for her trying to rationalize why it was a good idea to keep him around when the rest of her team isn't too enthused. I feel like at some point Maressa did tell her other pokémon that Gloom wanted to join the team, but now I can't find it--one way or the other I think it would be helpful to at least throw a sentence to that effect into her explanation, so it's not just about why Maressa wants gloom on the team, but also shows his own opinion on the matter.

    Anyway, it was great to see Maressa's reunion with her pokémon here; definitely one of the high points the story's been driving towards. I didn't have any trouble following the conversation, personally, although I do think a disadvantage of semi-translating the pokémon's words the way you did is that it takes away a bit of the personality that might come through in their literal dialogue. Dramatic Melody mentioned that what they were saying felt cheesy at times, and I think some of that might be down to their sentiments being kind of generic--we believe in you, we'll always be there for you, etc. There's nothing wrong with them, but they sound like words that could be coming from pretty much any character designated to give a friendly pep talk in a novel, rather than how a real person might express the same feeling. One way to make the conversation feel more realistic and memorable might be to try to consider how these specific pokémon would express those ideas and make sure that comes through strongly in their dialogue. For example, Lanturn seems kind of idealistic and naive, so maybe she would actually spout off a bunch of friendship platitudes. On the other hand, Golduck is a lot more direct--I could imagine him being a bit shorter about it, more like, "Of course we're with you, you idiot, we're your friends, aren't we?" And so on. But however you see the characters, personally, I think really trying to bring those individual personalities out on the page during this conversation would help lend it a little more weight and credibility.

    Chapter 12

    Heh, it took me a little while to catch on to who Sarah and Cloe were. Some indication of how much the direction of the 'fic has changed since it started out, yeah? I'm guessing you wanted to bring them back so we didn't forget about them. I'm not sure how major you're intending to make them as characters, but if you're not intending to bring them back in any major capacity, I think it might be best to just let them fade from the story rather than focusing any more scenes on them. All in all, while there scene here was amusing, I don't know that it really added a lot to the narrative.

    Quite a pretty song Maressa sang to Gloom. Did you come up with it?

    Have you never heard of knocking, Matt? :|

    Hmm, perhaps he'd take a little more of an interest in Maressa, though? She is kind of noteworthy as being the grunt who got captured by Team Magma, which truly doesn't happen often. That at least might make her stand out from the crowd a bit.

    I get why Golduck's angry that Maressa's kind of put her goal of getting out of Team Aqua to the wayside. I'm more surprised that he's not mad at her for not doing anything about Seaking as well, though. It was a little odd to have Seaking be a major focus in the past two chapters but totally absent here, not even mentioned in a "...but Maressa was doing her best not to think of him right now" kind of way.

    I liked the ending scene--you get a real sense of what Maressa likes about being in Team Aqua and the people she'd miss and possibly worry about if she ended up leaving. They feel like a genuine group of friends. Overall, as I mentioned before, I think that one of the strengths of the last few chapters is how you've built up the conflict between Maressa's realization that Team Aqua is actually kind of scary, and their goals aren't so noble and her personal connections on the team and the fact that it's just so much easier to "go with the flow" and remain a part of it. If she is going to leave eventually (which I imagine is the way it will go--I don't see this story working out to be a tragedy, which I think it likely would if Maressa ultimately stayed), I think it's probably going to take some significant event to really force her to acknowledge that she can't keep going along to get along. Perhaps something to do with Derek? If Maressa's going to stay with Team Magma, there presumably won't be much opportunity for the two of them to run into each other again (since Derek doesn't really do combat).

    The seaking arc is a little more shaky... I think it kind of shows that you weren't originally planning to have it in there, both in that there isn't a ton of setup beforehand and because it kind of comes and goes how much Maressa remembers him in the later chapters. It also has less clear relevance to Maressa's character, in that there's no real choice it forces her to make: looking for Seaking costs her more or less nothing, as far as I'm aware, so there's no reason for her not to try to find him whenever she gets the opportunity.

    Overall I think this was a solid set of chapters. You quite clearly dodged Maressa's most recent mission to the Magma base, but you did a fine job of summing it up after the fact, and it doesn't sound like there was a lot missed by not including it directly. The pacing worked fine, and plenty got accomplished. I think that Chapter 11 was overall the strongest of the bunch, and Chapter 10 the weakest--which isn't surprising, since Chapter 11 was essentially the resolution of a major arc, whereas 10 was more tying up loose ends and moving characters into place. All in all I'm interested to see where you're going with this, and I think the story's been getting better and better with each new chapter. Hope to see more soon... and be quite a bit better about reviewing it in a timely manner, too!

    Also, thanks for your kind words in the December FFQ! It's great to hear that you found my reviews so helpful, and reading about it definitely made my day.
     
  3. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    Well, I have owed you a reply to this review for a VERY long time, and here it is!

    Points taken. When I'm focusing on character interactions, I tend to forget about how much time passes, so it kinda gets away from me ._. Thanks for pointing it out! I'll try to improve on it.

    I always envisioned that the commanders of the two teams have a sort of history with one another--that's the impression I got from the games and anime. It might come up later :p

    I felt like the player character in the games was privileged to have gotten HMs, considering that Dive is given to the player by Steven and that they're never sold in stores or anything, whereas TMs are. And yeah, Team Aqua here at least would no problem with stealing it. As for the whole submarine thing, I honestly kinda forgot about it ._. I should go back and change the dialogue at least to make it sound more like they know about it--maybe I should just change the scene, come to think of it.

    Oh thanks ^_^; I tried to focus more on those parts and make them seem as realistic as I could. Yeah, in case you couldn't tell before, Maressa isn't all-around nice. She can generally be a nice person, but definitely has her limits :p

    Hey, Jirachi was planned from the beginning! nevermind that the resultant events around it have changed but still

    I think I mentioned this to someone before, but I never really intended to have a kid player involved. Maybe they'll show up for a bit, but I was going to have the conflict involving the legendaries be centered around team members. The idea for this fic was actually partially born out of my frustration at how the anime portrayed it, and I was like, "Okay, it would be SO much better if it centered more on the teams than on kids who have nothing to do with this." Hopefully this next chapter answers your questions, and if not the next then the answers are definitely soon to come :p

    Oh yeah, even as a kid playing the games, I always thought Archie's plan was stupid--Maxie's made more sense to me then (not now since I have a basic understanding of the water cycle) but I couldn't believe that he could have such bad ideas and have so many followers. although being an adult and looking at the world around me proves me wrong In the Pokemon Special manga (which I read a long time ago and vaguley remember) I think he was more sinister so I took some inspiration from that since it made more sense to me then. And come on, you would HAVE to know that catastrophic events that would result from plans like this!

    Well, human hair normally isn't purple, blue, or silver (when they're young) and yet you get these kinds of hair colors from people all over the Pokemon world :p And I do know some people who color their eyebrows. Point taken, though! I'll put in a better word.

    Yeah, I'm realizing more and more that there's not nearly as much interaction shown with her other Pokemon as there is with Golduck. It's kinda hard since he's the only one that can stand on solid ground, but I get your point and want to try and fix that.

    Oh woops, yeah. Guess she won't be earning Gloom's trust that way XD

    Oh shoot, you're right. No, she definitely wouldn't be taking him along and just trying to take advantage of him. I'll try to re-work the dialogue and writing to make it make more sense and be less creepy >_<

    Thank you very much! Most of what I could say here has been said to the others, but I guess I'll keep the dialogue the way it is and just focus more on what the individual is like and try to make it come out through that. Thanks a lot for the advice and feedback on this!

    Ah, I see. I kinda wanted to bring in a different atmosphere and show things from a different perspective since I feel like they're pretty much ALWAYS from Maressa's and I waned to shake it up a bit. But yeah, I guess I can just leave them out if they aren't major components to the story.

    Nope! It's Rudyard Kipling's Seal Lullaby. I just changed "shark" to "beast" since sharks don't exist in the Pokemon world :p

    Ohohoho, if you have a problem with this then you're not going to like Matt.

    Well, he kinda did--he personally spoke to Maressa earlier and showed interest in her abilities. Matt's not always reliable in telling people things either, although he's barely been in this story and I get your point.

    Ah, shoot, I meant to include that >_< I don't want her dwelling too much on Seaking and just have her be a whiny angsting mess, but I can't really just leave him out for an entire chapter now...

    Ah, thanks for that! This is one of the times where she has a hard time making a big decision, and the sort of fear that the unknown holds for her (as she doesn't have a clue as to what she would do after she got out of Team Aqua and found Seaking). But the answers to all of these things will show up soon.

    Points taken. Yeah, since I've been told and realized that battles are my weakest point and they're just not that fun for me to write about, I decided to just go ahead and skip... I DID start writing about it, but I wrote maybe three paragraphs and realized it was going nowhere so I just scrapped it and picked it up from what I thought was a more important part.

    And no worries about when you review--the fact that you (or anyone, really) does it at all means so much! Thanks again so much for your review, and the good things I said about you in the FFQ were definitely deserved :)

    Well, it's been eight months... but the good news is that I have at least two chapters' worth of writing done! Sorry for the long wait--my spring semester was crazy and I was in China this summer, so I had little time and it was hard to get going. This chapter is a bit short and non-conventional in terms of this story, but I hope it makes sense and is enjoyable. Here we go!

    Chapter 13

    The streets bustled with people while the colorful garlands hanging from the buildings swayed in a gentle breeze. The sky was dotted with winking stars, which were covered by the occasional cloud passing by. Though it was night, the lanes were packed with vendors and stalls.

    The large white rock stood away from the mass of buildings. The throng of people gathered before it was larger than ever, each person desperately trying to stick a tag on it. Now the rock had hundreds of little wish tags hanging off its sides, some of them getting caught in the breeze and flying away. People jostled to and fro, and a hum of excitement filled the air.

    Tate stood before the rock, more excited than he had ever remembered feeling. He could feel the presence within the stone strongly now—a powerful, joyous presence that was so much different than any he had ever known, but at the same time just happy to be alive. His hands were splayed on the rock’s smooth surface, a large small on his face.

    “Tate! Aren’t you going to go look at the stalls?”

    His twin sister came running over to him, carrying a number of paper decorations as well as a bamboo stick with a piece of paper stuck to it.

    “Are you still looking at that rock?” Liza’s shoulders slumped in disbelief. “This is the first night of the Millennium Comet, and Mom and Dad took me shopping and say they want to take you too! Come on, you haven’t even written your wish!” Putting down her bamboo stick, she grabbed her brother’s hand. “Come on…”

    “Stop it, Liza!” Tate jerked his hand away from hers. “I don’t want to make a wish, I just want to stay here!”

    “But you’ve been standing at that rock all day for weeks! I can’t sense anything, and neither can our Pokemon, and I heard Mom and Dad talking and saying that you need to get away from that rock soon!”

    Tate turned back to face her, ready to retort, but stopped himself. A large number of people around the rock were singing. Something about it, whether it was the lyrics, the music, or just the voices themselves, calmed Tate. Looking back at the rock, he felt a deep peace and joy radiate from within him. There was a strong urge for him to join in the singing, so ignoring his sister’s whining, he added his voice to the song.

    Sasa no ha sara-sara
    Nokiba ni yureru
    Ohoshi-sama kira-kira
    Kingin sunago

    Goshiki no tanzaku
    Watashi ga kaita
    Ohoshi-sama kira-kira
    Sora kara miteru


    “Are you listening to me?”

    The song ended, and Tate finally turned around to see Liza glaring at him. Why couldn’t she relax and just enjoy the festival and let him do what he wanted? She was always so bossy and making things go her way and now when he just wanted to leave her alone she still had to make everything worse. Tate was about to shout at her when people all around him started pointing at the sky and giving cries of joy. He looked up and saw that a cloud had passed, revealing a brilliant, shining orb hanging in the sky with an immensely long tail streaking behind it, pouring forth its celestial light.

    The Comet!

    Tate turned back to the rock—the source of the cry. The light the comet threw on it made it look as if the rock was glowing a bright, pearly white. As Tate continued to stare, he realized that the rock actually was glowing. The joyful presence within the rock was overwhelming, and Tate gave a gasp of delight as he saw a piece from the rock detach itself and hang floating in the air before him.

    Standing under a tree on a ledge a few hundred feet away, Tabitha watched the scene, petting Mightyena at his side. He had abandoned his uniform for civilian clothes, and as he saw the rock begin to glow, he pulled up the green sleeve of his hoodie to rub the goosebumps away.

    It was true.

    Of course it was—Maxie wouldn’t have put his faith in it otherwise. All the same, it took the Magma Admin an enormous amount of effort to do anything but stare in awe.

    “All right, team. As soon as it takes form,” he said into his headgear. He kept his dark eyes fixated on the glow ahead of him, sweat beading on his forehead. He couldn’t afford to mess this up—not since Maressa had escaped and Team Aqua had destroyed their ship. He had completely forgiven Derek for Maressa’s escape; had it not been for his Claydol teleporting their team members out of the sinking ship and safely to land, no one would have gotten out of there alive. But he, Tabitha, was far from being forgiven. He shuddered when he remembered meeting Maxie for the first time after all that had happened—he had been so angry…

    Tabitha snapped back to the present day as a chorus of “Yes, sir!” came through his headgear.

    “Ready,” he said, and he felt Mightyena tense beneath his hand. He scanned the crowd, and though he couldn’t see them, he knew that a number of other Team Magma members disguised as civilians were there with their Pokemon.

    Taking his eyes off the people, he turned his attention back to the glowing spectacle. The rock that had detached began to take the form of three large points with a small body attached to it. The light never truly faded—if anything, it seemed to grow brighter, and it took on a golden hue as the Pokemon became visible. Everyone in the crowd had gone silent and stared at the Pokemon, who gazed down at the boy before it with dark, benevolent eyes.

    Tabitha had but a moment to inspect the Pokemon before jets of flame covered it from each side. The creature let out a horrible cry of anguish, and people started screaming and running away from the floating ball of flame.

    “Now!”

    At Tabitha’s command, a swarm of Golbat erupted from the tree next to him, each leaving behind streaks of smog. A black swirl of energy collected between Mightyena’s jaws, and he opened his mouth to shoot the shadow ball at the newly-awakened creature. In the distance, the glass of building windows shattered as small explosions erupted in the air.

    Tabitha leapt off the ledge and made his way through the crowd of people to the white rock. The area was a mass of chaos and confusion; most civilians were running away, and police were trying to find the sources of the flames. But they were hopeless. Every man and woman with a uniform was the target of some attack—whether they were hit with energy balls, punched out, or on the receiving end of sleep powder, they and their Pokemon were quickly put down.

    The Mossdeep Gym Leaders were the only people still at the rock. The girl had dropped her things and grabbed her brother's hand, trying to get him to leave. Beside her, a Lunatone floated, its eyes glowing blue as it formed a barrier of solidified light between the trainers and the flames. A Solrock was doing likewise, hovering protectively before the trainers as it tried to shepherd them away from the fire.

    “I can’t leave him!” The boy was crying, looking desperately at the fire. “He’s hurting so much—I can hardly feel him anymore!”

    He stopped crying and gave a yell as he saw Solrock collapse to the ground, tendrils of smoke emanating from it. The twins froze in place as they saw a large, black canine charge them.

    “Lunatone, stop him!” Liza shouted.

    The Rock-type immediately got between the Gym Leaders and oncoming Mightyena and shot a pale blue beam from its beak. Mightyena responded with a hyper beam, and the two attacks collided, forcing both Pokemon to stand their ground in an attempt to gain the advantage. Lunatone’s ice beam was causing crystals of frost to coat the grass, whereas the blades near Mightyena’s feet were becoming singed from the sheer intensity of the energy.

    Although the Pokemon were occupied, the humans weren’t. While Mightyena was trying to gain advantage over Lunatone, Tabitha continued running right past the Pokemon towards the twins. Liza gave a terrified scream once she saw him and tried to drag Tate with her, but the boy kept looking worriedly at the flames—which were now a column—in which his friend lay.

    Tabitha ran up, grabbed the boy’s head and delivered a swift punch to his abdomen. Tate gave a sort of choking cough before falling to his knees.

    Liza was screaming as she punched Tabitha’s sides. “What are you doing? Let go of him! Stop it! Stop—” But her shrieks were silenced as Tabitha gave her the same treatment he gave her brother. As he laid her gently on the ground, he gave a discontented sigh. He gazed at the twins lying sprawled next to each other, his mind going a mile a minute. It would be so much easier to take her with them. He knew that she wasn’t the one Jirachi had appeared for, but it was dangerous to leave her behind. She had seen him, and though she was about ten years old, she was still a Hoenn Gym Leader. And if she was anything like the siblings Tabitha had known, she would hunt her brother to the ends of the earth.

    But Maxie said to only bring the boy and the Pokemon, and Tabitha knew that more trouble would come from disobeying Maxie.

    “Enough!” he said into his microphone. The flames immediately died down, and a pack of Houndoom trotted forward from multiple directions, inspecting their work. Tabitha gazed at the Pokemon lying in the middle of the charred dirt. Its once-brilliant countenance was now dark and burned. The large eyelid on its belly was mostly closed, but through the half-open lid Tabitha could see the eye roving back and forth in delirium.

    Suppressing a shudder, the Magma Commander bent down and picked up the creature in his arms. His heart beat rapidly beneath his chest and a cold sweat broke out. He was holding Jirachi. There was simply no other creature in the world like it. What had he, Tabitha, ever done to deserve to hold this Pokemon?

    Nothing. Instead, he had orchestrated its kidnapping, and he knew nothing good would come of it. He glanced down at the empty pokeball that hung from his belt before closing his eyes and shaking his head. He couldn’t bring himself to try.

    “Are we all set to go?”

    He turned around to see Nate come trotting up, likewise wearing civilian clothing and carrying the boy in his arms. Liza was still lying on the ground.

    Tabitha nodded. “Yes. Whether or not everyone’s ready, we need to go.”

    The duo made their way to the wilder parts of Mossdeep, carrying their cargo through deep underbrush and around large trees until they found their helicopter waiting for them.

    As Tabitha boarded the aircraft, he checked out each of the team members. Everyone was there, and all seemed to be in order. At his word, everyone got aboard the helicopter and they quickly took off.

    Nate came up to him. “Tabitha, what do you want me to do with the kid?”

    “Bring him over here. Come on, Mightyena.”

    Going into a store room in the back, Tabitha told Nate to lay the Gym Leader down. Once Nate did so, he exited the room.

    “All right Mightyena, I need you to stay with him at all times. You got that?”

    Mightyena looked up at his trainer, the tips of his ears drooping slightly and his tail hanging low.

    “Oh, don’t look at me like that. I’m not leaving you behind. It’s just that I need a Dark-type to stay with the kid until we reach base. You got that? It won’t be that long, I promise.”

    The Pokemon let out a large huff of breath through his nose, and lay down on the ground, resting his head on Tate’s stomach. He was looking up accusingly at his trainer, and though he was being obedient, Tabitha could tell that he was still unhappy.

    Feeling a little guilty, he exited the room, still carrying Jirachi in his arms.

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

    The door automatically opened as Tabitha walked up to it. Inside, Maxie sat at a chair, talking to a computer screen. From it, Tabitha could hear Courtney’s voice firing off information.

    “So that woke all of the Whismur up, and they started this whole racket and there was no stopping them. The only thing left to do was seal off the entrance to the cave, and Team Aqua immediately left, but there were only five of them so it didn’t take them long and then we got out of there as soon as we could. We had to leave a lot of our equipment behind, but it seems like the entire project was going nowhere—we were there nearly a month and couldn’t find anything—”

    Maxie glanced up as Tabitha entered the room, and his dark eyes immediately looked hungry, eager. Looking back at the computer, he said, “Courtney, we’ll continue this later.” With that, he stood up, looking expectantly at Tabitha.

    “We have them,” the commander said.

    “Show me.”

    Tabitha led Maxie out of his office and down several flights of stairs to the very basement of the base. Maneuvering his way around large crates and boxes, the commander led his leader to a small door, which he unlocked. He flicked the light on to show one of the Mossdeep City Gym Leaders, Tate, sitting on the ground, with a Mightyena resting his large head on the boy’s lap and two Houndoom sitting around them. The kid looked utterly terrified, and he winced as the light turned on, turning his large eyes over to the Team Magma members. His gaze shifted to the canine lying on him, and he looked on the verge of fainting.

    “This is the kid Jirachi woke up for.”

    “And where is the Pokemon?”

    At the mention of Jirachi’s name, the boy’s eyes flickered up to them, filled with concern. The fear wasn’t totally gone, but now there was a great deal of anger.

    Turning away from him, Tabitha exited the room and walked between the crates to another small room. Unlocking it, he opened it and flicked on the light to reveal two Pokemon. One was lying unconscious on the floor, its silver-and-gold body tarnished with burn marks. The teal tags on its head were charred. Its eyes were closed, and it snored softly as a Breloom stood over it, shaking his tail to keep a constant stream of sleep-inducing spores over the burned Pokemon.

    Tabitha moved aside as Maxie walked into the room, gazing steadily at the sleeping Pokemon with a sense of impatience. The commander shivered as his leader stepped closer to the legendary—even in sleep, Jirachi gave off a soft golden glow, and Tabitha could feel an energy radiating from it, practically filling the room and impressing on his mind.

    “Enough,” Maxie commanded the Breloom. The Grass-type stopped shaking his tail, and moved back to stand with Tabitha. Reaching down, the commander patted the Pokemon’s mushroom-domed head as he waited and stared at the Steel-type with anticipation.

    The wait wasn’t long—in a moment, the eyes on Jirachi’s face flickered open and it sat up, stretching its arms back and slowly rocking its head from side-to-side. It gazed up at the duo, and within his head, Tabitha could hear a voice echo. Where’s Tate?

    Tabitha glanced at Maxie—the voice wasn’t his own. It was soft, childlike, and sounded very confused. Had his leader heard it as well?

    Apparently, he had. Staring down at the Pokemon, Maxie answered, “He’s here. And you’ll see him once I tell you what I want.”

    I want him now. With that, the Pokemon floated upwards and drifted over to the other room where Tate sat.

    The boss was not pleased. “Get back here and listen to me,” he hissed.

    With a cry, Breloom sprang forward. Jirachi didn’t even turn around, but kept on drifting towards Tate’s room. Breloom pounced, and was about to tackle the Psychic-type when he was suddenly stopped in mid-air and blasted backwards and into Maxie, sending the two toppling over.

    Tabitha raced over and lifted Breloom off his leader. Within his head, he could hear the voice again—filled with anger, and sending chills down Tabitha’s spine. Get away from him.

    The Magma members and Breloom hurried to the other room to see Jirachi floating in from of Tate, gazing murderously down at Mightyena and the Houndoom. However, the Dark-types were completely unfazed. They were prepared that this would happen, and Mightyena was doing exactly what Tabitha had told him to. He stood over the boy, his teeth right by Tate’s neck, a soft growl emanating from his throat. The Houndoom crept closer to Jirachi, fangs bared and hackles raised.

    Straightening up, Maxie said, “Perhaps now we can negotiate.”

    Jirachi turned towards Maxie, and Tabitha could feel a weight pressing heavily down on his mind. The sleeves of his shirt and legs of his pants were fluttering slightly from the pure energy Jirachi was radiating. Turning towards Maxie, he saw that the leader still stood perfectly still, staring at the legendary with a level gaze.

    Let him go.

    “Or what? You’ll kill me and tear this place apart? Look at the position you’re in. I have no doubt that you could teleport yourself and the child out of this room, but you won’t be able to avoid taking the Mightyena with you. And if you try anything, he will rip out that boy’s throat. None of your psychic powers will affect this Pokemon, and if you think you’re fast enough to attack him before he attacks the kid, you can try your luck.”

    The weight on Tabitha’s mind became lances of pure agony ripping through him. He gasped, and leaned back against the wall behind him. Maxie was lifted into the air, and Jirachi floated right up to his face, glowing so bright that it was blinding Tabitha. Tabitha’s clothes and hair were fluttering madly, and Breloom gave a small squeal of fright.

    Tabitha could hear the leader gasp out, “You woke up just for him. Can you live with him dead?”

    A moment passed, and the bright light died down and Maxie was lowered to the floor. He stood gasping, staring at Jirachi loathsomely.

    “Can’t bear it, can you?” he choked. “Six days of loneliness, tearing everything apart before you become a solid rock for one thousand years again. Though I imagine that you’ve been through all of that before.”

    Jirachi turned to Maxie—Tabitha had only just noticed the Pokemon had been facing Tate—and glared at the Magma leader. The voice echoed harshly, with a note of despair. What do you want?

    “Give me the Red and Blue Orbs,” Maxie said, and as he spoke, he could not help but allow a glint of hunger into his eyes.

    I can’t.

    Maxie paused. “You can’t? Do I need to remind you what is at stake here?” Mightyena punctuated the end of his sentence with a soft growl.

    I can’t! the voice screamed desperately. The Orbs belong to Pokemon who were here when the earth was made—I don’t have power over them. The Orbs were made with some sort of magic that I can’t do anything about.

    The Pokemon and Magma leader glared at each other. Tabitha desperately wanted to speak—he believed wholeheartedly that the Pokemon was telling the truth, but he knew better than to say something at a moment like this.

    Now it was Maxie’s turn to be livid. He glared unwaveringly at the creature floating in front of him before shifting his gaze to Tate and Mightyena. As he did so, Jirachi turned to them as well, its gaze incredibly soft and gentle, filled with tenderness and fear. Tabitha then realized that Maxie wasn’t really looking at Tate, but was studying Jirachi’s expression.

    At last, he spoke. “Fine. If you can’t do that, then go find a Team Aqua base and destroy it.” The Pokemon hesitated, but with a growl from Mightyena and a stern, “Now” from Maxie, Jirachi gave Tate one last look and vanished into thin air.

    Once it left the room, Tabitha felt a weight lift from his mind. His body felt heavier, and the room was much dimmer than before. He didn’t realize it, but beads of sweat had appeared on his face, and his heart was pounding rapidly.

    Turning, Maxie said, “Come with me,” and exited the room. With Breloom trailing, Tabitha turned to follow him, giving one last look to Mightyena and Tate. The Dark-type stood there, ever faithful, gazing at Tabitha. Whatever fear the canine may have felt didn’t show in his eyes, and Tabitha gave him a grateful nod before turning the light off and departing.

    Tabitha was going to tell Breloom to go back to Derek, but the poor Pokemon was shaking so badly that he took pity on him and let him walk with him and Maxie. The trio went back to Maxie’s office, where the leader sat down, wringing his hands and pursing his lips. This was not how he had planned it at all.

    He was about to speak when he eyed Breloom huddling next to Tabitha. “Whose Breloom is that?”

    “Derek’s. He’s trustworthy.”

    Maxie nodded. Eyes downcast, he sighed. “Make sure the boy goes nowhere and that there is a Dark-type Pokemon with him at all times.”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “This wasn’t a complete waste,” he said, though Tabitha had a feeling he was more trying to convince himself. “If we hadn’t captured Jirachi, then the Gym Leaders could be using it to look for us and destroy us. We can’t let them have a Pokemon that powerful on their side.” He glanced up. “Have I given you your next assignment?”

    “Yes, sir. Lilycove.”

    Maxie nodded. “I may change that soon, though…” he muttered. He sat for a moment in contemplative silence, one elbow leaning on his desk, chin in his hand, his eyes flickering back and forth. “It’s only for a week,” he murmured. “But this will be quite a week. We’ll need to stay on our toes.” Eyes turning up towards Tabitha, he ordered, “No more screw-ups.

    “No, sir. I’m sorry about that.”

    Maxie waved a hand. “It’s in the past—we’ll move on. You’re dismissed.”

    “Sir,” Tabitha spoke up. “Do you really think that using it is a good idea? That we shouldn’t just keep it asleep for the next week? It might decide to alert the Hoenn authorities.”

    Maxie shook his head. “It won’t. You saw its relationship with the boy. For this week, it’s alive because of him. There have been millennia in the past where Jirachi never woke up, most likely because it didn’t have someone to latch on to—a sort of ‘friend’ for it to be with. No, as long as we keep the boy under constant threat, Jirachi will do whatever we want it to.”

    “But do we have to use the Orbs and Groudon to do this? If Jirachi really can grant wishes, can’t we just wish for the land to grow on its own?”

    Maxie glared at Tabitha. “Groudon is the only Pokemon we will be using to do that. And we’re aiming for more than just land expansion—you know that. Besides, Jirachi will only be here for a week. Once we awaken Groudon, it’s ours for as long as we want.” He indicated the door. “You may go now. I have a lot to work on.”

    Tabitha and Breloom left the office though the commander’s mind was still abuzz. There were countless things that Maxie could do with Jirachi, and the fact that he was just using to attack Team Aqua—something Team Magma could do on their own at anytime—was infuriating for Tabitha. Even if Jirachi couldn’t directly get the Orbs, there were a number of ways they could use the Pokemon to make a clear path to them.

    Tabitha shook the thought from his mind; Maxie knew what he was doing. Doubting him was useless, and besides that, he was so stubborn that trying to change his mind would do no good.

    He turned to Breloom and told the Pokemon to go back to Derek, but the Breloom refused to be left alone at all. Heaving a sigh, Tabitha began to walk towards the clinic. He knew he shouldn’t be such a pushover for Pokemon, but sometimes, he couldn’t help it.

    He opened the clinic door to see Derek sitting on a chair, staring at a group of bottles filled with pills and chemicals. There were dark circles under his eyes, and his chestnut hair was a disorganized mess on his head. His dark eyes were half-open and didn’t even look up until Breloom had hopped on his lap.

    “Wha—oh hey, you’re back! No, stop that, you’re too big to do that anymore!” In spite of his complaints, he put an arm around the Pokemon and patted him fondly. He glanced up as Tabitha walked over. “You’re all done with him?”

    The commander nodded. “I think so. If I need him again, I’ll let you know.” Looking critically at Derek, he asked, “What’s been happening here? You look terrible.”

    The medic shrugged. “I’ve just had a lot to think on.”

    Tabitha sighed. “Don’t tell me you still feel bad about letting the Team Aqua member get away. I told you, it doesn’t matter anymore. Everyone else has already forgotten about it, so just let it go. Nobody’s still upset at you.”

    Derek looked up at Tabitha, incredulous. “You’re just going to accept that somebody died and expect me to move on?”

    Tabitha shrugged. “It was her fault, she chose to escape. It had nothing to do with you—you were taking care of other things anyway. Nothing can be done about it now. Just do a better job in the future. Also,” he added as he was about to depart, “We have a prisoner down in the basement in the room off to the left. My Mightyena and some Houndoom are guarding him at the moment. I’ll switch the Pokemon out but I’ll just want you to go down there twice a day and feed the guy.”

    Derek nodded. “Got it.” Normally, Tabitha would expect Derek to pose further questions, but he seemed too detached from reality at the moment.

    Tabitha gave a word of thanks, and added, “It’ll be fine. She was just a Team Aqua member anyway—if anything, it might be a good thing that she’s gone.” With that, he left, failing to notice the look of fury and contempt Derek shot him.

    As Derek sat in the room, patting the quaking Breloom, he couldn’t shake off the last few words Tabitha had mentioned. The more he thought on them, the angrier he became. He didn’t often feel angry about much of anything, but the thought of Tabitha celebrating someone’s—Maressa’s—death made him grip the table so hard that his knuckles turned white.

    Nudging Breloom off of his lap, he stood up and glanced at the clock. It was nearly three a.m. He knew he should have been asleep long ago, and he would be regretting it tomorrow. But he couldn’t stop dwelling on how Maressa had gone to the wrong deck and fallen into the ocean with a deep, open wound. If only he had been there to make sure it all went all right…

    Changing into his night clothes, he tried to shake the thoughts from his head. Tabitha was right, it wasn’t good to dwell on the past—though he didn’t really want to admit anything good of Tabitha at the moment.

    Sitting on his bed, he beckoned Breloom over. “So, Breloom,” he asked, “what happened to you today?”
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
  4. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    All right, let's see if we can't get this done in a much more timely fashion than the last one. :)

    Before getting on to the next chapter, just wanted to comment on something you said in your reply real quick:

    I totally didn't realize you were using anime-style character designs in this story! In that case bright red (natural) hair would make perfect sense. My bad if you'd mentioned someone with a funky hair color before and I just forgot, but I suppose most of the Magma/Aqua designs are pretty normal-looking, so there may not actually have been anybody.

    Anyway, on to Chapter 13. Just some line items to start off with, mostly typos.

    You're missing a word here. (Or that "of" should be something else, I suppose.)

    * brother's

    "Brothers'" means more than one brother!

    Do you do martial arts? For some reason I got the impression that you do. Anyway, it just made me wonder whether this is a particular move you know. :p

    * laid, you want the past tense of "lay" here

    You want a comma "and" here, because "they quickly took off" is a full sentence that could stand on its own.

    Not sure what you mean by "impressing on his mind." Maybe you just meant "pressing?" Also, there's a random line break in the middle of this sentence.

    *in front of

    *as he spoke

    lol oops

    When you have narration that breaks up a piece of dialogue like this, you don't capitalize the start of the second piece of dialogue, since you're not actually starting a new sentence. So this part would look like:

    Also, Tabitha clearly hasn't learned not to let Derek interact with prisoners...

    Anyway, short but eventful chapter here. Based on your general appreciation of Tabitha and some of what he's thinking here, I'm wondering whether he's another character you're going to have eventually turn against his team's goals/leave the team/similar. His mightyena doesn't seem too pleased with the way things are going recently, either. To me, what would be interesting to know is why Tabitha's in with Magma to begin with--why does he stick with Maxie despite the kidnapping and violence and general crime? It's not something essential, especially if Tabitha isn't supposed to be a very major character, but if you're going to have him struggle with the idea of staying with Magma in the future, it would be nice to know what he'd be giving up by leaving.

    I have to admit Maxie's Jirachi plan seems a bit shaky. He's basically got to guarantee 24/7 extremely loyal guard on Tate for a whole week, and even if he can maintain that it seems like there are some pretty easy ways to get around that and/or ways it could go wrong. For example, if Jirachi happened to drop some hints about the Magma base to law enforcement and they raided the place, there would be nothing to directly indicate why they were there. So Maxie could order whomever to kill Tate, but what if the police/Aqua/whoever had just chosen to show up or gotten a tip-off some other way? If he kills the kid then, he's going to have given up his only leverage on Jirachi, who in addition is going to be super mad at him, and it seems like you wouldn't want a powerful legendary pokémon that angry at you if you could avoid it (unless Jirachi immediately conks out again when Tate dies). On the other hand, if he doesn't give the order to kill Tate at that point, it would probably be pretty easy for Jirachi to spirit him away in the confusion. So the plan could go sour either way, really.

    Also, if Jirachi had been clever, I have a feeling it could have attacked Tabitha and distracted Mightyena long enough to get Tate out of there. ;)

    Of course, we're also talking about the guy whose ultimate plan is to revive a god to cast the entire world under a drought and "expand the land," and also rejected Tabitha's totally reasonable suggestion to just have Jirachi do the land-expanding instead. Grandiose but somewhat shaky ideas may just be his thing.

    It looks like the plot is picking up again with this chapter. I feel like things are starting to come to a head now--I imagine we'll be seeing what happens when Jirachi shows up at the Aqua base, and there's clearly going to be something going on with Derek and Tate, and we haven't actually seen Groudon or Kyogre awakening yet, but I feel like it could happen soon! I think it'll be interesting to see how thing shake out, one way or another. Since you've got most of the material for the next chapter written (I believe) I hope it won't be long before we see it. I think this was a pretty good chapter to come off a hiatus with, and I'm looking forward to seeing where the next arc of the story goes.
     
  5. Sorry it took a while for this! Have been busy/lazy/etc.

    But damn, what a chapter! I really like how you described the festival and all the activities surrounding it, but what was more impressive was how you destroyed the town. :p Or, well, how you described the destruction, because you sure didn't hold back on the action here! Your description has been getting better and better, and while it would've been easy to get lost in the descriptions with so many things going on in the scene, I thought it was written very well.

    The scene with Maxie and Jirachi was very powerful - I believe this is the first time we're seeing Maxie in person? If I'm remembering correctly, this is quite a scene to introduce him in. Haha. But in any case, I thought you handled this very well, and the stakes made the narrative take a very exciting turn. Bonus points for using what is undoubtedly the best legendary in all of Pokemon. ;) And Jirachi could've Dazzling Gleamed the Mightyena to oblivion but nvm

    But what got me really interested was how you're shaping up Tabitha in this chapter. I know you haven't played ORAS, but a lot of his actions remind me of what his character did in the remakes, so I'm curious where you're taking him with this. I like that you go back to reminding us of his cold ways in his interactions with Derek, too, but it was nice of him to show some mercy after the complications with Maressa.

    Overall an amazing chapter - probably my favorite so far! Really excited to see where all this goes. Awesome job! :D
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2016
  6. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    Replies

    The forum wouldn't let me post this with the chapter since it made the post apparently too long, so here are the review replies!

    Great to see you back! And no worries on time--I'm really not one to talk, lol. And having anyone drop by is always a pleasure :)

    I had mentioned once or twice that Tabitha has purple hair, like he does in the anime, but yeah otherwise I tend to give them more realistic features.

    In all honesty, not really. I've been to a few kickboxing classes and my friends do jiu-jitsu and have taught me some moves, and one of my brothers used to do MMA (or something like it) and taught me some stuff, plus I like fighting in general, but I don't do a consistent martial arts class or anything.

    Yeeeeaaaah..... I'm feeling like for all the credit I give him as a commander, maybe I should have had him catch on that.

    I've been thinking on the backstories for the leaders and admins for a long time, and while I've had some details put in I haven't worked out the majority. I do want to bring it up in the future though--and I'm glad that the importance I place on Tabitha is showing through!

    It's definitely the last thing you've touched on. I've thought about the possibilities of how this can go wrong lol, and that's partially why I'm not making Jirachi as huge or important as I was originally going to, otherwise I feel like my fic would be relying on a lot of Deus ex machina (at least, more so than before :p)

    Thanks so much! I haven't written anything for the chapter afterwards yet, and considering my workload recently it might (unfortunately) be the last chapter for the year :( But I'm doing my best to keep the plot rolling with this fic, so hopefully it'll work out. Thanks so much for the review!! :D

    I feel you bro lol. No worries! It's always good to see you around :)

    Oh, thanks so much! ^_^; I worked a bit on that opening scene and did research to see how a city festival would be (as I've never been to one myself), so I'm glad you liked it!

    Yep! This is the boss-man's first appearance. Thanks! I was worried that I showed too little character from Maxie for his introductory chapter, but at least you thought it was all right! Haha I just had to include Jirachi X) What part of "I haven't played past gen 3" don't you understand

    Really? Huh. Maybe I'll look into what his ORAS counterpart does just to check it out. And I do my best to make him a balanced character, so I felt like some mercy was warranted X)

    Aw, thanks so much Dramatic Melody! It's always great to hear from you :)
     
  7. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    ANYWAYS so here's the next chapter! It's actually been ready since the last one has, but I decided to put a gap between the two and then I forgot about it completely as life got busier. I don't have anything written for the next chapters, so this might end up being the last one I post for the year. Thanks to everyone who has stuck around it for so long, and I hope you all enjoy this next chapter :)

    Chapter 14

    Phoebe glanced around the room, feeling more than a little apprehensive. The Gym Leaders and Elite Four of Hoenn sat around a table. Large windows encircled them, giving a fantastic view of Fortree City. Although the sun shone gloriously, the atmosphere within the room was dim. Nobody spoke, and the eyes of many were downcast. Phoebe glanced to her right—a few chairs away, Liza sat. The child’s eyes were red, and Phoebe thought she could still see tear trails on the young girl’s cheeks. The Ghost-type trainer felt a heavy pang of sorrow, and for a moment, the pain of losing a sibling washed over her but she quickly shook the thought from her mind. If she dwelled on it, tears would come, and a Leader conference meeting was not the proper place for her to cry.

    Everyone’s heads turned towards the door as the last three members—Wallace, Norman and Steven—came in through the door. Norman donned civilian clothes, as usual, and Wallace had left his extravagant white cape behind for a plainer look. Steven still wore his dapper black suit. If there was one thing the three men held in common, it was the expression: each of their faces were grim. The men sat down at the table, and Wallace spoke.

    “As most—probably all—of you know now, one of our Gym Leaders has been kidnapped, along with the Pokemon Jirachi. We have a report of what the kidnapper looked like, though we don’t know who else was involved or how many people. There has been significant damage to some of the buildings in Mossdeep.” He paused, seemingly at a loss for what else to say.

    “So where do we go from here?” Everyone turned their heads at Sidney as he stared curiously at Wallace. His fingers combed through his red mohawk as he noted, “If one of our Gym Leaders is missing, we can’t still have Pokemon trainers trying the League Challenge, can we?”

    “Are we closing down our gyms?” Flannery asked.

    Norman nodded. “It seems that, for the time being, that’s what we’ll have to do.”

    Wallace spoke up again. “And since we’ll be temporarily be shutting that down, we figured it’s best for all of us to put our efforts into finding our fellow Gym Leader and making Hoenn safer. For the past few years, Hoenn has had a crime problem; we’ve known this, but we’ve just left it to the police. As we can see, that’s not good enough. People are scared that they or their children might be the next targets and are leaving Hoenn for other regions. We need to start aiding the police force to do what we can to get rid of these criminals.”

    “But do we know who it was who kidnapped Tate?” Brawley asked.

    “We have guesses,” Steven answered, his eyes pointed fixedly at the table before him, “but nothing is confirmed.”

    “Then where do we start looking?”

    “Anywhere,” said Wattson. “Criminals work in networks; find one, convince him to give away information, and you can trace your way through them. Besides, it’s better to try something instead of sitting here getting nothing done.”

    “Ah…”

    Everyone glanced over as Roxanne started to speak. She looked as though she had something to say, but was incredibly nervous about it.

    “What is it?” Steven asked gently.

    “It might sound really strange…”

    “It’s fine. You’re part of this council too; you’ve earned your spot, and you’ve a right to speak as much as anyone else here.”

    The schoolgirl gulped, then put forth, “I heard rumors that a lot—and I mean a lot—of people think that Team Magma was behind this. Everyone knows that they’re enemies with Team Aqua. If that’s how it is, isn’t it best for us to team up with Team Aqua? Maybe they would help us.”

    “No,” Norman immediately answered. “Team Aqua is just as dangerous and apathetic as Team Magma. Have you forgotten the reports about Slateport? We won’t be picking sides with any of these teams; we need to clear them all out.”

    Roxanne nodded, looking embarrassed.

    “And it’s not confirmed that Team Magma is behind this, right?” Winona asked.

    “That’s correct,” Steven affirmed.

    “But if we’re taking guesses,” Glacia interjected, “then Team Magma is most likely to have done this, aren’t they?”

    Norman looked furious. “We aren’t taking guesses, we’re getting rid of the criminals and finding the missing Gym Leader.”

    “But judging by their Pokemon—“

    “There isn’t any evidence pointing—“

    Don’t you interrupt me. Why is it so bad to assume that Team Magma did this? It’s best to start somewhere, isn’t it?”

    “If we spend all of our time and effort into digging into this one organization and we’re wrong, then we’re giving the others more time to do damage—”

    “We’re wasting enough time as it is, just sitting here,” Wattson muttered.

    “—and they’ll be able to do even worse things with Jirachi on their side.”

    “Even then, do we really know that Jirachi actually appeared?” Sidney asked.

    Drake cut in. “You can’t pretend it doesn’t exist anymore—pictures and videos of it waking up have been all over the news.”

    “But none of them show anything clearly, just a really bright light.”

    “It was Jirachi.”

    Everyone went silent and turned their heads to Liza as she spoke for the first time. She was glaring up at them all, impatient and accusing.

    “It is real, I saw it. And I think it was Team Magma who took my brother. Nobody else uses so many Houndoom or Golbat. And the most important thing to do now is to find my brother, so I think we should team up with Team Aqua and then arrest them all after we’re done with them.”

    Silence pervaded the room for a moment as the older members looked uncomfortably at each other. At last, Drake gently spoke.

    “I don’t think it’ll be that simple. In the first place, we don’t know anything about the whereabouts of Team Aqua or Magma. Finding them would take time, not to mention convincing them to work with us, and then betraying them after gaining their trust…”

    “We don’t know where they are?” the young girl asked incredulously. “There have been attacks the past month and people have known about these teams for years, but nobody even knows where to look for them?”

    Norman interjected. “All of this takes time—”

    “We don’t have time! Tate is with them right now! And who knows what they might be doing to him or Jirachi?” She stood up. “You all can sit around and talk, but I know that there are ways to find these people. I’m going to go rescue my brother.”

    With that, she stormed out. Some Gym Leaders and Elite Four members half-rose from their chairs, calling to her, but Phoebe immediately leapt from her seat. “I’ll keep an eye on her,” she said to them as she ran out the door to see Liza sitting on her Lunatone as it floated away over the treetops.

    “Liza, wait!” Phoebe sent out her Dusclops, who picked her up and floated over to Lunatone.

    “Are you going to try and stop me, too? I can’t wait, I have to go find Tate!”

    “I’m not trying to stop you,” Phoebe said as the four of them cruised over the tree-top houses. “I want to talk to you. First off, where are you going to find Team Aqua?”

    “I’ll look.”

    “Over all of Hoenn? Just take a minute to think about this!”

    “No, you take a minute to think! My brother is gone, we have some of the strongest Pokemon in the whole region, and everyone expects me to just do nothing! Why shouldn’t I go looking for him?”

    “Because it might save his life, yours, and countless others!”

    But the young girl and her Psychic-type floated on, speeding up to get away from Phoebe and Dusclops. “Stop trying to stop me, you can’t!”

    Dusclops shot forward, blocking Lunatone’s way and causing it to halt. Lunatone’s eyes narrowed in anger.

    “Listen to me,” Phoebe begged, “because I agree with you, and I’ll help you find Team Aqua and I think that we should work with them to take down Team Magma because they pose the more immediate threat! I think we need to save Tate and Jirachi, but if Team Magma managed to capture the two of them, what do you think they’ll be able to do to you by yourself?”

    Liza paused for a second, contemplating her words. Phoebe gave in an inward sigh of relief; at least she managed to get the girl to sit still and stop arguing for a second.

    “Well,” Liza conceded, “what do you think we should do?”

    “Let’s talk about this more on the ground.”

    The two Pokemon descended, and Dusclops set Phoebe gently on the ground while Liza hopped off of her Lunatone.

    “Do you have any ideas as to where to start looking?” Phoebe asked.

    The girl’s dark eyes were downcast. “No. Maybe the river or sea, since they’re all Water-type trainers…”

    Phoebe grimaced. “That’s still too much to cover… I wish we knew more about them or what they wanted. Then we might be able to guess where they would appear next,” she muttered her thoughts aloud. “Let’s see what we know: they were at Mt. Chimney, and they made the volcano dormant. Since then, it’s been filling with rainwater, and some plants have started growing and Water-type Pokemon are moving in. In Slateport, they caused that massive tidal wave that destroyed part of the city. Brawley told me that they were in Dewford a while ago, and they caused floods that washed away a lot of the beaches and nearly came up to the city…”

    “So they’ve been flooding a lot of places,” Liza said flatly.

    “Yeah, but we don’t know why. And we don’t know where they’ll go next or—assuming they flood somewhere again—how they’ll go about it.”

    “Maybe by rain? Isn’t that how flooding is usually caused? Or a tsunami.”

    Phoebe thought hard on both of these possibilities. Tsunamis, as far as she knew, were caused by earthquakes—perhaps Team Aqua would get a bunch of Pokemon to use the move Earthquake offshore. She quickly shot the idea down; there would be next to no way to get enough Pokemon to make an earthquake powerful enough to produce a tidal wave, let alone when they were out in the middle of the ocean. Though considering they managed to get a wave to wash over the Sootopolis cliffs by non-conventional means, it was a possibility…

    She thought about heavy rain, and considering the number of Pokemon who could learn the move Rain Dance, this seemed a very real possibility. But if Team Aqua owned so many Water-type Pokemon, why hadn’t they just made it rain already?

    Clutching her head and sighing, Phoebe leaned against a tree. She didn’t understand these criminal teams at all.

    “What’s the matter?” Liza asked.

    “I just don’t know where they’ll go or how they’d do it. It’s possible they could make it rain, but considering there’s a TM out there that causes constant rain that almost every type of Water Pokemon could learn, I don’t see why they wouldn’t do it already—but then again, TMs are expensive, although that wouldn’t stop criminals from just stealing it, but maybe they don’t even know of its existence in the first place…”

    “Do any Pokemon naturally learn how to make it rain?”

    Phoebe lowered her hands and gazed upward, peering at the sunlight streaming through the branches of the tall trees overhead. “I think that there are a few—Wallace would be a good person to ask, though I doubt he’d be too helpful right now. I know the Weather Institute owns a bunch of Castform, which are known for being able to control the weather.”

    “Then let’s just try the Weather Institute!”

    Skeptical, Phoebe glanced at the young girl. “We don’t even know if Team Aqua is going to make it rain, or if they would want a Castform to do it.”

    “Well, we have to start somewhere, and this place sounds as good as any other! And if Team Aqua is using rain, then maybe the Weather Institute will know where. You can stay here and keep trying to think, but I’m going to see if I can find them.”

    Unable to stop her, Phoebe watched Liza jump onto her Lunatone and take off through the trees. After a moment of wracking her brain, Phoebe and her Dusclops hurried after them.

    I suppose I’m lucky that I got her to listen to me even a little, Phoebe thought bitterly. I might as well try to help her and make sure she doesn’t get into too much trouble.

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

    Phoebe and Liza stood before a computer while Dr. Regnen talked on. The scientist in charge of the Weather Institute had been more than happy to receive a visit from a Gym Leader and Elite Four member, and had answered their questions about rain. It seemed that, while there was heavy rain in some parts of Hoenn, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. He didn’t stop there, though—he went on about each rain formation, what their likely causes were, how storms formed and why, and many other patterns about weather that neither Liza nor Phoebe had any honest interest in.

    Pursing her lips, Phoebe glanced at the window to see a light drizzle outside. Route 119 seemed to always be raining, and if they were going to wait, it might as well be at the Weather Institute. While the duo was talking—or rather, listening to—Dr. Regnen, their Pokemon were scouting the area for Team Aqua members or any possible signs of a base.

    At last, Liza felt that she could take no more and kindly asked for permission to leave, stating that she and Phoebe were very busy and had work to attend to. Dr. Regnen seemed a little downcast at losing his only visitors, but bade them a good day. Liza and Phoebe were about to exit until they noticed that the drizzle outside had become a torrential downpour.

    “Uh…” Phoebe said, “Maybe we should wait?”

    “Oh, I’ll take care of that for you!” Dr. Regnen said cheerfully. Taking out a Pokeball, he tossed it in the air, and what looked to be a sentient cloud came out with a cheerful cry.

    “Castform, use sunny day!”

    The Pokemon floated out into the rain, a fiery glowing ball appearing in front of it. Castform launched the ball up into the sky, where it was soon lost to sight. After a moment, a hole opened in the clouds, and intense sunlight streamed forth.

    Phoebe and Liza stepped outside onto the soggy grass, the light so intense that they were blinking to accustom their eyes to it.

    Thanking the scientist, the duo made their way along the path, stopping after a few moments. The novelty of the sunlight had worn off—both had seen many battles, and competitors occasionally used strategies centered around weather patterns. This had been the first time either of them had seen it used outside of battle, however, and they were soon finding out that the effects were neither wide-reaching nor long-lasting, for in a few moments a drizzle picked up again.

    “I hope our Pokemon come back soon,” Liza muttered as she shivered.

    After about twenty minutes of standing beneath the thick canopy in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid the rain, the duo noticed something flitting across the ground towards them. It looked like a shadow without an owner, moving quickly and stealthily.

    “That’s Banette!” Phoebe exclaimed. At her words, the Ghost-type rose from the ground, taking the shape of some ghastly doll with a large, yellow zipper for a mouth. Phoebe was struck with fear; Banette’s usual smile was gone, and thin wisps of what looked like smoke were curling around a bite mark in its side.

    “What happened?” Phoebe asked worriedly.

    Liza watched impatiently as Phoebe and Banette appeared to do little more than stare at each other while Banette made some strange, whispering noises and jerky movements.

    “Well?” she asked impatiently.

    “Banette says that a Sharpedo in the river attacked her.”

    “A Sharpedo in a river?”

    “Yeah. I know that Carvanha occupy the waters around Mt. Pyre just east of here, so it’s possible that they’ve been swimming upstream. But anyway, she said that she was scouting the river, and for the most part the Pokemon were fine, but this Sharpedo attacked her when she got nearby.”

    “Sharpedo are vicious Pokemon anyways…” Liza grumbled.

    “She says he was acting as though he was guarding something.”

    “Aren’t they territorial Pokemon?”

    “I don’t know,” Phoebe snapped as she inspected Banette’s wound. “Oh, I’m so sorry, take some rest…”

    As Phoebe recalled Banette back into her Pokeball, Liza’s Xatu and Phoebe’s Dusclop’s both flew in.

    “Did you find anything?” Liza asked excitedly, failing to notice that neither of the Pokemon were in very good shape. Xatu’s feathers were messy and ruffled, with some of them facing the wrong way. There was a large black patch on his back that, even in the light rain, was still smoking. Like Banette, Dusclops had bite marks that were smoking, and though his didn’t seem as serious, his whole body was dotted with them.

    Dusclops had been scouting the cliffs that were close to the river. As he approached the large waterfall north of the route, a Sharpedo had leapt out of the water and bitten him. Dusclops fought back at first, but his Ghost-type attacks did little damage to the Dark-type. In a few moments, hundreds of Carvanha were leaping out of the water and latching onto Dusclops with their powerful little jaws. The Carvanha only let go of him once he gave in and flew away. Shortly after, he had found Xatu, who decided to go inspect the area from a higher—and hopefully safer—position.

    Xatu had hoped in vain. He flew close to the waterfall, staying level with the cliffs and well out of the water’s reach. Upon approaching the waterfall, Poochyena had leapt on him, tearing into him with their fangs. Shaking them off, Xatu immediately flew back and was hit by a Mightyena’s shadow ball on the way.

    “Now we know that something is up,” Phoebe said. “My Dusclops should be able to handle any wild Sharpedo—only a trained one would be able to fight back.”

    “And those Poochyena and Mightyena were definitely trying to keep Xatu away from that waterfall,” Liza said as she patted the shaking Xatu.

    “Wild Mightyena can’t even learn shadow ball, they have to be taught. Anyway, I think you and I need to go check this waterfall out. Someone is guarding something, and I have a good idea of what both are.”

    Liza agreed, and once their Pokemon had returned—all without news, except that Lunatone said some Golbat were eyeing him nastily—Liza hopped on her Lunatone and Phoebe’s uninjured Dusclops picked her up and they set off.

    The waterfall was massive; tons of water cascaded down from the several-hundred foot-high cliff every second, forming white whirlpools at the bottom. The noise was so intense that Liza and Phoebe had to shout to hear one another.

    As they approached the edge of the cliff, a Mightyena jumped out of a thick clump of grass and fired a ball of swirling black energy at them. Its targets were prepared, however, and Lunatone and Dusclops swiftly dodged the attack.

    “Wait,” Phoebe pleaded, “we don’t want to fight! We just want to talk—we want to work out a deal with you!”

    But the Pokemon wouldn’t listen, and kept on leaping around, black energy swirling around its fangs, trying to get a hold of Dusclops.

    “If he won’t listen, then fine! Lunatone, use ice beam!” Liza shouted. Lunatone complied, though it didn’t hit the Mightyena directly. The Dark-type nimbly leapt out of the way, and the beam hit the ground beneath it, coating the area in a slick sheet of ice. Once Mightyena landed, he lost his footing, and fell onto his stomach with all four limbs splayed out.

    Lunatone and Dusclops both hovered over the ice, and began floating towards the waterfall. Dozens of Poochyena leapt out of the grass to attack, but with a few more well-placed ice beam attacks, Lunatone had covered most of the area in ice and the Poochyena were left helplessly slipping and sliding.

    As they floated towards the waterfall, the Mightyena and Poochyena all let out long, high-pitched howls that sent shivers down Phoebe’s spine and filled Liza with dread.

    “I’m not sure what that means,” Liza said, “but it’s probably not good.”

    “It might be an alarm,” Phoebe murmured. “Faster!”

    The two were nearly at the waterfall now; hovering over a spit of land to the side of it, Phoebe reached over and grabbed Liza’s hand. Her Ghost Pokemon would be able to take them through solid objects, so if there was a base behind the waterfall, they should have no problem getting to it. But as they got closer, faces appeared in the waterfall and shot multiple jets of water at the oncomers.

    Lunatone and Dusclops dropped to the ground. Setting up a light screen, Lunatone tried to defend the others, and though it weakened the water attacks, it wasn’t strong enough to stop them completely. Once Dusclops touched the ground, a Huntail leapt from the water and chomped down on the Ghost-type.

    “Please!” Phoebe shouted, facing her back to the jets of water the Pokemon were shooting at her, “Team Aqua, we don’t want to fight you! We want to make a deal with you!”

    But there was no answer, and it was becoming increasingly clear that just the two of them trying to enter a Team Aqua base was a bad idea. Lunatone was highly-susceptible to water attacks, and was struggling to maintain the light screen to protect the others. Dusclops was pummeling the Huntail with his fists, which exuded a ghostly gray energy. Phoebe and Liza continued to shout, but with the roar of the waterfall, it was very well possible that no one could hear their shouts.

    Suddenly, the water attacks stopped, and Huntail let go of Dusclops and slithered back into the water. Phoebe and Liza heard a shout, and they looked up to see two people standing on the cliffs above them: a man with a blue vest open to show his shirtless torso, and a woman with golden hair that reached her the middle of her chest. Both were dressed in Team Aqua attire.

    “Do you want something?” the man asked.

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

    Phoebe, Liza and the two Team Aqua members stood in a small niche in the cliffside, invisible from the outside due to overhanging plants. Phoebe’s Banette floated in the middle of the room, making faint blue flames that cast a dim light.

    “So your brother has been captured by Team Magma,” the man said once Liza and Phoebe finished explaining their situation. “Why do you think we should do anything about it?”

    “Because you’re their enemies!” Liza shouted. “You should know where they are and what they do and want to attack them and do anything to hurt them!”

    “But you’re their enemies too, and I haven’t seen you do squat. It’s only once they’ve done something to you that you have any interest in attacking them. You should know, kid, that finding someone else’s base, getting inside, getting a person and getting back out isn’t easy. And even then, it sounds like you have no idea which base they’d be holding your brother at. And what makes you think we know where their bases are, anyway? If the Elite Four and Gym Leaders and Hoenn police force are as powerful as they always claim, shouldn’t you guys be able to find us all?” he asked with a smirk.

    “We’ve—tried,” Phoebe said haltingly. “But we haven’t gotten anywhere until now. And it seems like you two teams have some sort of understanding of each other. You fight each other a lot, and it seems like you know each other better than we know you.”

    “But if you’re their enemies,” the blonde-haired woman put in, “would that make us your enemies too? How do we know that you won’t hunt us down and arrest us all once we’ve gotten your brother back?”

    “We only have interest in arresting you because you guys are labeled as criminal organizations!” Phoebe snapped. She was thoroughly soaked, and getting colder by the second—Banette’s werelight didn’t offer any warmth. Being attacked constantly and having almost all of her Pokemon hurt did nothing to lighten Phoebe’s mood, and now she was arguing with a pair of people she had been expecting help from. “If you guys didn’t go around terrorizing people and destroying and stealing things, then we wouldn’t have such a problem! But we don’t even know what you guys want or what you’re trying to do—it just looks like you’re causing trouble!”

    The man put a hand on his hip, staring Phoebe down. “Well, maybe we can work something out then—a deal. Isn’t that what you were shouting earlier? That you wanted to work out a deal?”

    “You could hear us the whole time?” Liza asked.

    “Well, yeah. But maybe if you promise to give us something in exchange, we can get your brother back.”

    Phoebe cut in. “How will that work? We could make these promises and give you what you want, but there’s no guarantee that you would uphold your end. Why should we trust the word of a bunch of criminals?”

    At her words, the Team Aqua woman looked troubled, but the man said, “We’ll give each other some form of insurance—something we’ll want back. That way we’ll have to see each other again, and when we do, we’ll return what we gave each other. Sound fair?”

    Phoebe glanced at Liza, unsure. Were they trustworthy enough? And what would they ask for?

    But Liza didn’t even hesitate. “Deal,” she said.

    “So,” the man pressed, “what do you have to offer us in exchange for finding and rescuing your brother?”

    “What do you want?”

    Phoebe shot Liza a death glare—that was the absolute worst thing they could say, but the man already had a reply on his tongue. With a hungry smile and excited eyes, he answered, “The Red and Blue Orbs.”

    Phoebe’s heart sank with dread. How did they even know about those? Did they believe the stories surrounding them?

    Liza furrowed her eyebrows. “I don’t know what those are.”

    The man looked over at Phoebe. “Do you know what they are?”

    Knowing she was a bad liar, she only said, “You can’t have those. Ask for something else.”

    “That’s the only thing we want.”

    Phoebe’s mind was going a mile a minute, trying to weigh in the situation. The Orbs had to stay together to ensure peace, otherwise those Pokemon would wake up and cause chaos. But even if she kept them together and gave them both to Team Aqua, there was no telling what they could do with that sort of power. Did they want to awaken and control Kyogre and Groudon?

    She thought of the conversations she had had earlier—of how Team Aqua was always causing floods. In a moment, something clicked in her brain, and she stared at the blue-clad people in dread and disdain, shaking her head. And even if Team Aqua didn’t have malevolent intentions, there was no way her grandparents would ever let the Orbs out of her sight—and she knew she could never have the heart to ask them.

    “No. We will never give those to you. Come on Liza.”

    “What?” the young girl asked incredulously. It looked as though her whole world had crashed around her—again. Her eyes, which had held some sort of hope before, turned hollow, and she stared at Phoebe as though Phoebe had punched her in the face. “We can’t just go! This might be only chance to get Tate back!” Turning to the Team Aqua members, she said, “We’ll do it!”

    “NO WE WILL NOT! You have no idea what they’re asking for, what kind of power that would give them! You can’t just go around making promises when you don’t even know what they’re about—you’ll be endangering the whole world for the sake of one person! I know you miss your brother—”

    “No, you don’t!” Liza screamed. “You don’t know! You’re just acting like I just want to be with him, like I’m going to see him eventually and that I need to get over this, but this is more serious! I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again! I’ve lived my whole life with him and—and—” tears were falling from her eyes, and she was gasping. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to him or if he’s even alive. Do you know what this is like?”

    The two stared at each other, and Phoebe felt as though her heart had been torn to shreds. Liza’s words were stirring up memories, and combined with the stress, Phoebe was struggling to hold back tears. Her throat was tightening, making it extremely difficult to speak. Banette put an arm on her trainer’s shoulder, looking concerned.

    “Yes,” Phoebe said thickly. “I do.”

    She turned away, the gears in her mind working rapidly. She dwelt—just for a second—on remembering hearing the news of her sister’s passing, and she immediately wiped away the tears. Turning back to Liza, she sighed. She hated herself for what she was about to do, but she couldn’t put someone else through that pain.

    She looked up at the Team Aqua members. The woman’s face was set as stone, and the man just stared at her contentedly. “Fine. The Orbs for Tate.”

    Smiling, the man extended a hand, which Liza shook. “Now for the insurance,” he mused. Turning to his companion, he asked, “What do you think would make good insurance?”

    “A Pokemon,” she answered immediately.

    The air caught in Phoebe’s throat—that was the other thing she was least willing to give away. But it was no use arguing anymore. Sighing resignedly, she said, “I’ll do it.”

    “No,” Liza muttered. “This is my brother we’re doing this for. I’ll hand over one of my Pokemon.”

    Phoebe gazed at the Gym Leader, and some of her bitterness faded. She appreciated the young girl’s sudden mature attitude, but she decided to go against it. Liza had already lost her brother; asking her to lose a Pokemon as well would be cruel.

    “Don’t worry about it,” she said gently. “I can do this. You lose your brother, I’ll lose my Pokemon, and hopefully we’ll have them both back soon enough.”

    Sending out her Pokemon, Phoebe explained the situation to all of them. None of them seemed keen on the idea of being held by Team Aqua, but to Phoebe’s surprise, the injured Banette volunteered.

    “Are you sure? You’re hurting…”

    The injuries didn’t matter, she explained. If her captivity would free someone else, she would do it. Besides, she added as she spread her arms wide, with all of those injuries, she wouldn’t be very helpful in battle for a while.

    “Well, if you’re sure,” Phoebe said reluctantly. Withdrawing Banette, she held up her Pokeball. “Here’s my Pokemon.”

    “All right.” The man nudged the woman. “Now give them one of yours.”

    The woman only had a second to look utterly appalled before Phoebe shouted, “No! You’re the one who requested the Orbs, and if you think I’m willing to trade one of my highly-trained Pokemon for the trash of a low-class criminal, then think again! I want your Pokemon, or that of another admin, and no one else!”

    The blonde woman’s amber eyes shone with fury. “Don’t you talk about my Pokemon like—”

    But a backhand across the face by her superior silenced her. She stared at him, confounded but as furious as she was moments ago. “This was your idea,” he told her bitterly. “We’re going to have a talk after this.”

    “About what?” she demanded angrily, apparently having forgotten Phoebe’s and Liza’s presences. “About how I honestly answered a question when you asked me? Or about how earlier I wouldn’t let you treat me like a sack of meat?”

    She seemed to have hit a sore spot. One of the man’s hands was in his pocket, about to grab a Pokeball, but at her words, his face hardened. Taking his hands out of his pockets, he walked over to her.

    The woman stood still, looking a little scared at what was to come, but not regretting anything she had said. Hands raised, she tried to defend herself from her commander when he came at her, but he easily overpowered her and grabbing her left thigh, squeezed hard.

    “No—stop!” she cried and then let out a scream of pain. There was a sudden burst of white light, and the man was being thrust against the far wall by a jet of water. Coughing and sputtering, he glared up at the Golduck standing protectively in front of the woman, its vermilion eyes casting a livid glare at the man. Phoebe shuddered—she had never seen any person or Pokemon look so angry.

    The area where the man had grabbed her leg was turning a dark red. The woman leaned against the rock wall, apparently unable to stand up straight. Glaring at the man with a mixture of fear and anger, she flatly said, “Don’t ever touch me again. Give them your Pokemon and just be done with it.”

    “You don’t tell me what to do,” he grumbled as he stood up, but as Golduck hissed, he shrugged, reached into his pocket, and gave a Pokeball to Phoebe. “That’s my Crawdaunt. We’ll meet back here at the end of each day to bring what the other wants. If you don’t bring the Orbs or if you tell anyone else, the deal is off and you can kiss your Banette goodbye.”

    Phoebe stiffened. “Then say the same to your Crawdaunt.”

    The man looked at the Pokeball he handed her, and for the first time, Phoebe could see regret and sorrow in his expression. Shaking his head, he simply said, “We’re done here. Get out.” He turned to the other Team Aqua member. “You stay here. We’re going to have a long talk.”

    The woman said nothing but continued to glare at him, her Golduck continuing to stand protectively before her.

    Uncomfortable, Phoebe and Liza sent out their Dusclops and Lunatone, moved aside the foliage covering the cave entrance and were on their way.

    “Do you think she’ll be okay?” Liza asked worriedly after a few minutes.

    “I don’t know,” Phoebe answered. She thought about what needed to be done: go to Mt. Pyre and ask her grandparents for the Orbs. “But I have bigger things to worry about,” she said grimly.

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

    Derek headed down to the base, carrying a container of spaghetti along with some fruit juice. Ever since his interactions with Maressa, he had grown more sympathetic towards prisoners, and so he had taken some of his personal juice to give them to keep their spirits up. He paused as he was about to take another step down—he didn’t really know what kind of person this prisoner was, and maybe they didn’t really deserve the juice. It was possible that they were really a thug, and not someone he could empathize with like Maressa was. He checked the flavor of the juice: orange. His favorite. Grimacing, he put it into one of his overly-large pockets. Maybe if he liked this person, he would give it to them. Otherwise, they could live with water.

    Descending into the deep darkness of the base, he grew more and more anxious. Breloom told him everything he had seen—and felt. Derek could hardly believe that they had actually captured Jirachi—a Pokemon he had only heard of in classes and mythology books. Hardly anyone had actually believed it was real, but if he believed Breloom (who wasn’t always totally reliable), then they actually had the wish maker living with them.

    Apparently, Jirachi had left the base for an indefinite amount of time. When Derek pressed Breloom for reasons, the Grass-type couldn’t answer—he had missed most of what Maxie said, being so overwhelmed by Jirachi’s feelings and energy.

    Derek reached the basement. In the darkness of the dimly-lit room, it could be hard to believe that it was actually mid-morning. Derek made his way around crates and to the door Tabitha had told him. Opening the door and flicking on the light, Derek nearly dropped the spaghetti in shock.

    On the floor, up against the wall, sat a child. His messy hair was falling out of his bun, and in spite of his youth, his face held a ghastly countenance. His eyes were closed, mouth slightly agape, cheeks and lips twitching uneasily in his sleep. On his lap, a Mightyena lay. The Dark-type woke up at the sound of Derek opening the door, and he raised his head and squealed happily when he saw Derek. His tail wagged back-and-forth ecstatically, but he remained lying where he was.

    The sound of Mightyena squealing woke the boy, and he shifted uneasily as he eyed the Pokemon. Mightyena noticed the movement, shot the boy a dark look and a low growl, then returned his attention and happy wagging to Derek.

    Derek squatted down next to the kid, setting down the spaghetti. “You’re the person Team Magma took prisoner?” he asked incredulously.

    The boy glanced at him, then paused. Perhaps the word “prisoner” hadn’t occurred to him, but after a moment, he nodded.

    “Why?”

    “I—I think it’s because you want Jirachi, and Jirachi wants me.”

    Derek studied the boy and Mightyena, and things began clicking in place. He shook his head. “No…” Standing up, he was about to exit but remembered to take the orange juice out of his pocket and hand it to the kid. “Here. It’s not much, but I hope you’ll like it.” Turning to Mightyena, he jabbed a finger at the Dark-type. “You don’t touch his food, or take that juice, or do anything to hurt him. I’m going to talk to your trainer.”

    Derek sprinted upstairs two at a time, his mind going a mile a minute. Where could he be? It was roughly ten-thirty a.m. He decided to check the training area—perhaps Tabitha was drilling some of the newer recruits.

    His guess turned out to be correct. In a large room, Tabitha stood before a bunch of uniformed men and women, each with their Pokemon out.

    Derek walked over to his commander. “Tabitha, I need to talk to you.”

    His black eyes shot Derek an impatient look. “Wait until we’re done.”

    “It can’t wait.”

    “What is it about?”

    “The kid—”

    Tabitha silenced the medic with a glare and a glance at the grunts. “Not here. I told you, you need to wait until I’m done with them. Now get out.”

    Derek stormed out of the room and back to the clinic, thinking of perhaps trying to stitch the laceration in that Cacnea’s arm back up while waiting. But he soon dismissed the idea—he knew that it was never a good idea to try and work while he was angry, so he just opted to watch Claydol do it. In a minute, he was sitting on a stool, watching Claydol floating before the Grass-type, telekinetically levitating a bunch of tools. The Psychic-type’s telekinesis proved to be just as precise as Derek’s handiwork, perhaps even more so.

    An hour-and-a-half later, Tabitha entered, looking disgruntled. “What is so important that you had to interrupt my training regimen for?”

    Derek stood up. “We’re holding a child hostage? What the hell, Tabitha?!”

    Tabitha’s mild annoyance was overridden by exasperation and anger. “We need the kid because it’s the only way to get Jirachi to listen to us. If we didn’t take him, we couldn’t have Jirachi, and the Pokemon League or the police could use that Pokemon to find us and destroy our organization. And the kid is a Gym Leader. He’s been working against us the entire time—he’s our enemy as much as Team Aqua is.”

    “He’s a kid! He’s barely done anything in his entire life! And you’re fine with stationing a Dark-type right next to him, ready to kill him if he doesn’t do what you want? And he’s a Psychic-type trainer! Imprisoning him with a Dark-type is torturing him!”

    “It’s not torture—”

    “Yes it is! Psychics are used to projecting their minds and feeling the thoughts and feelings of those around them, but they can’t do it on Dark-type Pokemon. It’s like they’re voids or drains on their consciousness.”

    Tabitha looked slightly surprised at this information, but just said, “So we’re preventing the kid from knowing what we think or feel. All the better, then.”

    “ ‘All the bett—’ how can you say that?” Derek was pacing around the room, throwing his arms up in the air. “And have you even considered the consequences of what’s going to happen? We’re going to have the entire legal force of Hoenn hunting us down!”

    Pursing his lips and glaring at Derek, Tabitha raised his hands and said, “This was Leader Maxie’s idea. If you want to take it up with him, fine, but don’t you dare tell anyone else about this. This has to be our most important secret, and we can’t have any of others knowing about it. You’ve been entrusted to take care of the kid, so we trust you well enough to know about this at all. There’s nothing else about this that I have control over, and at this point I’m just carrying out orders.”

    Derek stood there, staring at Tabitha but at a complete loss for words. His commander turned around and exited, shutting the door behind him. Claydol and Cacnea were looking up at Derek, curious and slightly frightened. Derek sighed and sat back down next to Claydol.

    His mind was mulling over the issue, trying to look at it from every angle, and his thoughts kept on turning back to Maressa. When she couldn’t agree with what her team was doing anymore, she had quit. She was brave—she had done what Derek couldn’t do. Derek shook the thought from his head. His situation was entirely different than hers, wasn’t it?

    “Claydol,” he said as one of the Ground-type’s large red eyes met his own, “I don’t know what to do.”

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

    Maressa slammed the door shut behind her, choking out sobs. Sliding down the wall, she lowered herself to the floor. Before her, Golduck looked at her, concerned but furious. With shaking hands, Maressa inspected her leg: Matt had re-opened the wound when he grabbed it, and though a lot of blood had stained her pants, the flow had since stopped. Still, there was a large dark splotch on her left pant leg as a reminder of what had happened. She banged a fist on the ground, crying in frustration.

    “I hate him!” she choked through tears. “I—I thought we were getting along—but then he insulted me—and now this…” Another strangled sob escaped her tightened throat. Some of the anger left Golduck’s eyes, and he came over, put his arm on her shoulders and sat with her.

    She should have escaped earlier, he said. She had been avoiding it for so long, and now there was no more escaping reality. Staying was growing more dangerous by the day, and if she stayed with Team Aqua any longer then she would only be facing more physical torment.

    Maressa’s sobs died down as she inhaled and exhaled deeply. “I know,” she said steadily. “You were right.” She looked down at her gloves, covered in her blood. “And back then, if Phoebe hadn’t demanded one of Matt’s Pokemon, I would have lost another one of you.” As though she was living through it again, she saw the event play out, and her hands balled into fists. “But I can’t just take this! I can’t just let him get away after doing that to me!”

    Golduck jumped up and immediately began quacking angrily. How could Maressa be so stubborn? How could she stay behind to try and get even with someone when there were four other Pokemon who relied on her and when they needed to be looking for Seaking?

    Maressa glared through tears at Golduck. “Do you think I’ve forgotten about all of you? Did you think I forgot about Seaking? I think about him all the time! I think about you—I worry about you all. But I’m with Matt now, and he won’t leave me alone. We stay up late at night talking and then during the day he always wants me with him and he keeps telling me how I good I am at being a Team Aqua member and how if—if I just do what he says then he’ll promote me…” Her face twisted into a grimace, and she shook her head and turned away. She pounded a fist on the floor again. “And now this—I won’t do it anymore, Golduck.”

    Golduck quacked. Then they should all escape!

    Maressa nodded, though she looked uncertain. “I feel like it’s wrong at this point, though. Team Aqua doesn’t want us to leave because we know so much about them. And now we know that Team Magma has Jirachi and if those Pokemon League people keep their promise—which I kinda doubt—then Team Aqua will have the Orbs.” Guilt wracked her face as she looked questioningly at Golduck. “Can we really just do nothing and leave?”

    Golduck stared blankly at her. Team Aqua and Team Magma were large organizations with hundreds of members and countless Pokemon trained for battle and spying. She was one Team Aqua grunt with four Pokemon. What were they supposed to do?

    Maressa stared ahead, deep in thought. “Well, Derek was one grunt with only three Pokemon, and he managed to sneak a captive out.”

    Shaking his head, Golduck paced back and forth. Her situation and Derek’s were completely different—they couldn’t be compared.

    Flinging her hands in the air, Maressa cried, “I don’t know, then! But I feel like I have to—if Team Aqua does get this powerful, how can I live with myself with just running away and doing absolutely nothing after helping them get this far?”

    Golduck didn’t meet her eyes, but just stared off into the distance. He didn’t have answer.

    When he offered no advice, Maressa sighed and took out a Pokeball. Gloom popped out, looking as apathetic as usual. Smiling through her tears, Maressa said with forced cheerfulness, “How are you doing, Gloom?”

    The Pokemon turned her way, and tilted his head to the side as he gazed at her face. At least, Maressa assumed he was gazing—his eyes were so nearly closed that it was hard to tell if he could see anything at all. Maressa tried to wipe her tears away, but only ended up smearing blood from her gloves on her cheeks. Gloom noticed her leg, and took a step back. He turned to look back to her face, more doleful than she had ever seen him.

    “Oh, it’s no big deal,” she said nonchalantly as she peeled off her gloves and wiped her hands on her arms. Golduck shot her a glare, but she ignored him. “This just happens sometimes.”

    Gloom looked completely unassured. It wasn’t just his usual, un-changing expression that made Maressa notice; it was that there was something in his expression—though Maressa couldn’t entirely tell what—that showed a lot more worry. Maressa continued to gaze at him, showcasing her false smile. It wasn’t entirely false, as she was happy to see Gloom and genuinely wanted him to be happy. But with the throbbing and stinging of her leg, it was hard to forget the events that had recently transpired.

    After staring at her for a minute, Gloom did something Maressa had never seen him do. He reached his little arms out towards her. Her heart soaring, Maressa took him in her hands, set him on her lap, and cradled him. As he leaned back into her, she couldn’t help smiling. She glanced over at Golduck, who looked a bit surprised but pleased. Maressa wanted to snuggle her face into him like she used to do to Psyduck and Seaking, but she held back because she knew she would only breathe in toxic substances from Gloom’s flower—which didn’t smell nearly as horrible as before.

    As Maressa sat there, holding Gloom in her arms, rocking him and singing softly to him, she could feel a deeper resentment for Team Aqua growing in her heart. This was what they wanted to get rid of? Gloom was a Grass-type Pokemon—Team Aqua would have no interest in protecting him, and it was highly-unlikely that he would survive whatever new world Kyogre would create.

    When Maressa stopped singing, she leaned back against the wall and merely looked at Golduck. She couldn’t let Team Aqua go through with their plan. She at least had to try something, and if it meant stealing the Orbs from right under Team Aqua’s noses, she would do it. Golduck gazed back at her evenly. Perhaps he disapproved or disagreed with her, but they both knew that he and the other Pokemon would stick with her through anything. Sharpedo was always willing to fight, and Lanturn would do whatever would stop fighting from amongst the four of them.

    The two held their gaze, and after a moment, Golduck closed his eyes and nodded.

    Relieved, Maressa gave Gloom a gentle squeeze. “Don’t worry, Gloom,” she said. “We’ll make sure you stay safe. And we’ll make sure the world stays the way it is.”
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
  8. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    Hi there! So I've been wanting to read lots of Hoenn/Team Magma/Team Aqua kind of fics lately, anddd so of course I had to check this fic out. I'm all caught up and will be quoting some stuff and leaving general comments that I hope will be helpful. XD

    I like this description. It really helps depict such a peaceful opening scene.

    Weird indeed... Maressa's dialogue feels a bit unnatural here. It almost feels rehearsed, and this early on in the story I'm not sure if that's intentional.

    Anddd since I've caught up, I don't think it was intentional. It just reads awkward and could use some edits. I feel this way for the first two or three chapters, actually. The writing style doesn't flow too well in a lot of places, but at some point it's like I'm reading an entirely different author's work and it flows really nicely. So you improved rather drastically and/or made some very nice edits to the fic. XD

    The order of things depicted in the fic confuses me. Maressa's sent on her first big mission shortly after this dialogue. My question is: why would it be her first mission if she's so good? In fact, how does Sarah confidently claim that Maressa's commanded entire squadrons without Maressa having been in a position to do so yet?

    My question brought on from the last quote still stands, but I like the idea being presented here. It seems strange to me that trainers get 100% of the credit in most fics, and even most of the time in canon... when it should be fairly obvious that the one doing most of the work should get the majority of the credit.

    You don't see a pokemon/trainer dynamic like that every day. I like it.

    Nice description here. It's slightly wordy, but I like the image I got from it.

    I'm liking the creative use of pokemon attacks in this scene.

    This part was creative, too, but the plan seems like it would've warranted some practice beforehand. If things don't work as planned, people could get hurt. Shelly says they've tried it, but then why does everyone seem so unsettled?

    Cool dynamic. It makes sense for any team, including Team Aqua. I wonder if this was what they meant when they told Maressa to be prepared to listen to any command.

    You'd think the pokemon would be in their pokeballs, not taking up room in a car. :p

    I see Maressa's got a temper... I got the impression in chapter 1 that she was mostly sweet and innocent, maybe even naive, but it seems there's a part of her that gets really defensive when it comes to her pokemon.

    I see what the obedience thing was for now... The administration and the inferiors don't agree. I wonder what Maressa as the inferior will do about it, if anything.

    That's kind of what I wanna know.

    She certainly seems able to keep from breaking down, but only if she's angry instead of having to protect her pokemon. I like that about her.

    I'm wondering how Maressa learned to trust pokemon more than people. At any rate, trusting someone is much easier said than done.

    I don't usually equate anger with confidence. I'm usually only confident that people will do/say stupid things when they're angry, or that they're at least more prone to making mistakes if they're angry.

    Really like this description here.

    This medic guy is an interesting mix of being distant and being compassionate...

    I lol'd. Sorry, Maressa.

    Huh... This isn't something I'd ever really thought of before myself. I like it.

    I suppose it's a whole different story when you're experiencing the true nature of Team Magma with your own two eyes rather than just through gossip.

    This could be interpreted as kind of creepy... but it's a unique way to portray part of Derek's personality. I like it.

    Lol... I found this adorable, even though this is a serious thing they're discussing. XD

    I have a feeling that Maressa's going to be trying to justify a lot of her actions by the end of all this. I can sympathize with that...

    I don't know, I always got the feeling that was just a standard Gloom-like personality...

    Fate works out in funny ways. At any rate, you're doing a good job portraying emotions and breaking my heart here.

    The whole dialogue about figuring out what to do before Golduck and co. find out about Maressa's kidnapping doesn't make sense anymore when they just tell him literally a couple paragraphs later.

    Oh, dear... I kind of suspected this, but... I guess Seaking's just MIA entirely for the moment. I don't anticipate Maressa handling that very well. At all.

    Lol, is this a subtle reference to mega evolution or?

    Lol... Imagining Maressa talking to a Gloom like this is quite amusing. I can tell how much she loves her pokemon here.

    [quote[“And as there’s no Technical or Hidden Machines for that yet, we’re trying to teach them the old-fashioned way.”[/quote]

    Is there a reason the HM Dive is nonexistent here?

    The way he puts it, returning the oceans to their natural state sounds a million times more sensical than expanding the land... but I guess it's the methods Maressa disagrees with, which makes sense, because your depiction of Team Aqua can be be pretty brutal.

    Can't say that's the smartest thing to do after everything you've just been through, Maressa...

    You do a good job integrating the pokemon dialogue in with the narrative without making the flow of the scene feel awkward. You do it pretty well throughout the entire fic, really, but this scene really sells it for me.

    Yeahhh, I get this feeling. Maressa's justification of trying to keep Gloom feels a bit overdone, considering Gloom's done nothing but stare into space thus far. But when you put it this way, Maressa's actions, thoughts, and feelings all make perfect sense and I can sympathize with her greatly.

    I think Maressa indeed lacks common sense and can say/do naive things sometimes, but... I think it was actually smart of her to be prepared for the worst. If she wasn't worried at all, I would take that as a sign that she thought little of their friendship, not the other way around.

    The mention of her parents/sister doesn't hold much weight compared to what says first. We know next to nothing about her family at this point.

    Well. That sounds exciting, but also disgusting. I lol'd.

    Not quite sure why she was allowed to go on a mission before her leg fully healed. If she was going to get kidnapped again during this mission, she'd literally have no chance of saving herself this time. And we all know that some members of Team Aqua are willing to save themselves at her expense.

    Isn't the longer they stay better? Maressa could just request to keep watch like she used to until her leg heals and think of a convincing reason to leave in the meantime. Disappearing so soon after returning seems the most suspicious move, in my opinion. ...Though now that I'm caught up, her leaving sooner rather than later would've saved her a whole lot of trouble with dealing with Matt and Jirachi.

    Sounds like Maressa's just trying to comfort herself by saying this, or she's insensitive/naive enough to assume that Gloom will no doubt grow attached to her and the rest of the team.

    How reassuring, lol.

    Really like the attack description here. It creates a lot of tension and is vivid enough to help me picture exactly what's happening.

    Another vivid, intense detail... and also creepy in a way. I like it.

    This part kind of makes me like Tabitha a bit... Maybe he'll end up on Maressa's side by the end of all this, if this is how he really feels.

    But... isn't teleporting a psychic power?

    The order this is all introduced in is very strange... You would think they'd put Tate's rescue above anything else, with the gym circuit being an afterthought that trainers will just have to deal with until more important matters are taken care of. Also, I don't buy how the police nor the gym leaders have not found a single thing about Team Aqua or Team Magma in the "past few years" when Liza and Phoebe find a Team Aqua base in the span of half a chapter mostly by luck.

    Another nice detail.

    Anddd all caught up. Overall, the beginning of the fic was a bit rocky, but it improved quickly and hooked me in the rest of the way through. The pacing and flow is spot on, and while the writing style is rather simple in most places, you have a knack for adding in really nice description and subtle details about the characters that brings the story to life. Looking forward to more.
     
  9. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Okay, back for another chapter! I guess we're flipping back to mostly Team Aqua this time, huh?

    Apathetic? I think you meant something different there.

    *you'll be able to do, I think.

    They haven't been out broadcasting their message? I would have thought Archie would totally have been, "You'll pay for your treatment of the ocean! Repent and join us, or be drowned with all the rest, rargle rargle angry rhetoric blah!" The name's a decent giveaway, in any case. XD

    Having them go off to the Weather Institute was a good call, though. It makes sense as a place you'd check out if you thought people were interested in tampering with the climate, and it's a nice call-back to the game plotline, though of course things don't work out the same way.

    *were caused by

    Seems kinda weird that she'd fail to notice that, especially because she cares a lot for her pokémon, yeah? I don't think it would really change anything, either, if she noticed and was worried and asked what happened.

    Not because they steal stuff and cause tidal waves and property damage and so on? She goes on to say as much later in the paragraph, so it seems weird for her to lead with this.

    I really like how Phoebe sent out all her pokémon to ask who'd be willing to go to Team Aqua as part of their deal. Much more respectful than her just handing one of them over like they shouldn't have a say in what happens to them!

    Whoah, up until this point, I thought the person with Archie was Shelly! I was really surprised that it turned out to be Maressa... I can't remember anything from previous chapters that indicated she was going to be meeting with him, and he's acting completely differently towards her than he did before. I feel like I must have missed something, here. ^^; I also COMPLETELY misremembered Shelly has having blonde hair for some reason, so the description earlier in the chapter didn't tip me off. >>;

    This part was seriously intense, though! Probably the most memorable part of the chapter for me. Archie was downright scary. All the more so because he pretty much got angry out of nowhere... I'm not sure if you wanted him to come across as unpredictable and cruel, but that's definitely what I was seeing here! Only thing I would have liked to see more of would be a bigger reaction from Phoebe and Liza. It's something that comes out of nowhere and is over quickly, but surely they're at least a little put off?

    Had to smile a bit at this. What if the prisoner wasn't ~worthy~ of Derek's orange juice? It's a cute little character moment.

    This is a cool image. You don't usually see pokémon having a direct hand in human occupations like this.

    Arrgh, what? I didn't realize the guy Phoebe and Liza were negotiating with was Matt up until the last part, where Maressa explicitly names him. That DOES make much more sense. When you said the guy had his shirt open to show his chest, I was definitely thinking of Archie's usual fashion not Matt's... whatever the heck is going on with his shirtless vest thing. (I think it's less extreme in the old Sugimori art, but I'm having a hell of a time finding the pre-ORAS version to look at.)

    Heh, I love how Golduck completely isn't buying the hero angle here.

    The last part of this sentence is a bit confusing. "Would do whatever it took to stop the four of them from fighting," maybe?

    I quite like the last section overall for the little details it has, like the parallel between Maressa and Derek trying to convince themselves they're in totally different situations or Maressa not really noticing Gloom's stench anymore.

    Anyway, it looks like we're definitely building towards the climax now! You've pretty much set up both Derek and Maressa to be GTFOing on their respective teams, and presumably the Red and Blue orbs are about to come into play... should be exciting! I did have some serious mistaken identity issues in this chapter that made Matt and Maressa's confrontation in the cave really weird... Unfortunately I don't know much that you could do to make it easier to figure out who's who, except modify their initial description a bit. Something referring to Maressa favoring her leg, for example, would have been easier for me to recognize. With Matt I don't really know; he hasn't been a major enough character for me to remember that much about him. Part of it might just be the space between the chapters makes it hard for me to keep track of what everybody looks like.

    Like I said, though, that part was great, even if the lead-in was a little iffy. It definitely makes more sense with Matt, but it still kind of felt like I'm missing something... last we saw Maressa was just getting ready to join his squad, but apparently he's been treating her poorly for quite some time now. It was a surprise, but at least you got a nice moment out of it! I'm not totally convinced by how easy Phoebe was to sway towards trading off the orbs, either. But In terms of the character interactions and emotional responses this chapter, overall I think you did quite well!

    You've got a little time yet if you don't want to make this the last chapter of the year, but I imagine you're going to be pretty busy what with the holidays and all. Hope your semester's gone well and you'll have some time to relax and enjoy writing soon. And idk... I might be underestimating how much of this 'fic is left, but maybe it's possible we'll be seeing the end sometime next year!
     
  10. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    Yo! So I want to thank everyone who has left reviews! I'm sorry for the prolonged absence; life has been getting busier, and it's only recently that things have slowed down and I've started writing again. Honestly, one of the things that kept me the most pre-occupied was falling in love ^_^; Everything is stable now though (I think? I don't know anything about relationships lol) and I've gotten back to writing. I DO have quite a bit written--probably more than I want for the next chapter, but I need to get my scenes straightened out and then proofread and edit everything. However, I'm aiming to have the chapter written and up by the middle of next week :)

    To the replies!
    diamondpearl867
    Ah yeah, sorry about that. People have told me that the story gets better later on, so I HOPE that it's just improvement lol. But yeah, anything that comes across unnaturally isn't on purpose. It was just my rookie writing ^_^;

    I feel like I get a number of comments on stuff like this in early chapters, and I think it's another thing that can be chalked up to me getting in over my head and writing about something that I hadn't thought through as carefully as I thought I had. I've been considering revising the beginning of the fic, as there are a lot of things I feel that I could have done better.

    I'm of the same opinion. I know that before Red and Blue were officially released, it was planned that trainers would fight alongside their Pokemon, and if I'm not wrong it happens in some media like Pokemon Special. I get the whole "training" aspect, but I always thought that if the Pokemon really are super-strong like the media depict, then it has to be due to the Pokemon and not just the trainer.

    Same reason as I gave before. Looking back, I really don't like this chapter haha.

    Eh, you see Officer Jennys with their Growlithes and other Pokemon out. But point taken :p

    Yeah, she's easily angered haha. I don't think "sweet and innocent" were what I had in mind when making her--except when it comes to being in the dark about Team Aqua's motivations. I wanted her to be a nice, likeable person, but I wanted one of her main traits to be her defensiveness and protectiveness of those she cares about.

    Maybe "confidence" wasn't the right word here. I had in mind that she was angry enough to lose her shyness or worry about speaking out against her commander.

    Oooooh yeah. Justification of own actions when questioning your own morals comes into play a lot.

    Lol, a number of my friends played this game called "Alpaca Evolution" at the time. It was really entertaining to watch them play it, and so I just decided to refer to it right here, but under a different name XD

    In the original games, Team Aqua was bent on stealing a submarine to get to the bottom of the ocean, even though the HM Dive existed. I thought it didn't make much sense for them to steal the submarine--or even use that kind of technology--when every single one of them had Pokemon that could learn Dive. So I thought it might make more sense to only have one but not the other.

    Oh, thanks ^_^; Some people tell me I do a good job, but others say that it's clunky. I'm torn as to whether to stick with it or to switch to the Pokemon straight-up talking to the people, even though I don't like the latter idea as much.

    That's another thing I want to expand on if I ever revise this fic. I really didn't know how to integrate her family into this >_<

    Bit of both, really.

    Yeah, and I couldn't come to a decision as to whether it would work if one tried to take a Dark-type with him though... Which I know I should have made that decision before writing this chapter, that way I could stay consistent >_<

    I was trying to give the idea that they never really tried searching for Teams Aqua/Magma. IIRC, the games and anime said that the teams had both been around for a few years "causing trouble" but apparently they were still active and functioning, so I took it that no one really did much about them. Here, since they've kidnapped someone, I would have thought that once they start trying to find them, they would have more success.

    Thanks so much for rerading this through and leaving a review! Also, I don't know what the GIF in your signature is from but I can't stop watching it. Hope to see you around!

    Negrek
    Haha, that's totally something Archie would do XD I meant the whole "how" and what they wanted to do to achieve that, lol. Like Maressa didn't know about their desire to awaken Kyogre.

    Good point. I've had a lot of trouble with organizing my scenes lately so that they make sense chronologically >_< It's a big reason why there'll be a delay for the next chapter, and why I'm a big nervous to put it up 9_9

    Oh, should I have probably used names right at the beginning to make it less confusing? And maybe more sense? Apparently you aren't the only one that got confused--I noticed I won "best villain" but the description for the nomination for Archie included stuff from this scene, which was supposed to be Matt ._. I guess Archie's top is open; I just hadn't thought of it that way because it closes at the bottom, and it's not as open as Matt's lol. And the fact that I'm using old character designs really seems to be throwing people off o_o

    Well thanks! Yeah, whenever I keep planning things out in my head, I have this bad interaction between Matt and Maressa, but I'm not comfortable writing it out or putting it up here DX Should I include it though? Or since I'm not including it, should I just write it out as if it didn't happen--that the only things between them are what's shown? And yeah, I'm struggling a bit when writing Phoebe in the next chapter >_<

    Hahaha, thanks :p But nooooo I can promise that the fic will not be seeing its end this year, lol. There's still quite a ways to go, and I still have a number of details to work out. But it will be continuing! Thanks so much for reviewing my fic each time, and for all the help and critiques you give me. It means a lot!
     
  11. DreamSayer

    DreamSayer Name's Adam.

    I haven't read a lot of stories focusing on grunts, so this one was pretty intriguing to me. The first chapter was done really well in my opinion and I already enjoy the two main characters. Their backstories were also pretty neat and you can clearly tell that both kind of miss their homes. I don't know whether this story will be alternating with the game's plot, but it would still be cool if it didn't. It was short and sweet and 8 can't wait to read more of this.
     
  12. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Well dang, falling in love has got to be one of the best excuses for not updating your pokémon fanfic that I've heard in a while. Congratulations! Hope you're enjoying getting back into writing, but it makes sense that you've had other things on your mind.

    Haha, oh wow, I didn't notice that in the awards. XD Mentioning their names earlier might help, yeah.

    The character design thing is probably a contributing factor, yeah. Unfortunately nowadays people are probably going to think of the ORAS style first. You can add a note to the beginning of the story mentioning the old designs, I guess, but even that probably won't help a ton, since people will already have pretty strong mental images. Not sure what else you could do, though.

    Ooh, wow. D: Sounds intense. I mean, if you're not comfortable writing it out, then you don't need to force yourself to, I don't think. I think you'd want to either try to imply a little more that something happened to change their relationship before we see them again in this chapter, or you can write it out entirely so that it never happened, I guess. But wouldn't that kind of affect how the characters relate to each other in the rest of the story?

    Looking forward to the next chapter! I know you're anxious about putting it up, but I'm sure it'll be great.
     
  13. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    Thanks to DreamSayer for the R&R! I'm glad you liked it and would be happy to have you stick around for more :)

    Hehe, thanks. I guess "falling in love" sounds a bit dramatic now that I come back to this lol. But I could talk about it forever, so without going on about it I'll just say that I hope to be more actively writing.


    Yeah, I'm not sure what to do about it. I want the story and character interactions to be realistic (though how well I've done at that varies a lot over the course of the story haha) and with the characters set up the way they are, the interactions I see happening between them are just ones that I haven't written before and don't know how to take. I'll think of a way to clean it all up though.

    Walp, here's the next chapter, after a long long wait! Thanks for your patience as well as everyone who voted for me in the Fan Fiction awards! (Though it seems the award I got was undeserved; I'm sorry for the confusion ._.) Here's chapter 15, which I've kept on editing over the past week and I still feel like it needs editing but at this point I'm not sure what course of action is best if I keep making edits. So to avoid going full circle, I'll post it and you all can let me know what you think. I know it's very expository, so lemme know whether or not that's a good thing or a bad thing, and a huge thank you to all of my readers and reviewers. Cheers!

    Chapter 15


    Maressa leaned against the tree trunk, gazing out over the wide river as the roar of the waterfall reached her ears. She stood on a protruding piece of land that gave her a breathtaking view of the rainforest stretching out below her, which would also allow her to easily spot any intruders—or visitors. The waterfall nearby was the same one where she and Matt had met Phoebe and Liza. It had been a day since the deal with the two of them, but neither side had gotten what they aimed for yet.

    Not that it really mattered. In that time, she hadn’t had much interaction with other members of Team Aqua. Rather, she had been thinking about what she could do to fight against them. Nothing big or grand had come to her, so she set out doing little things: collecting powders from Gloom and hiding them in air vents when the fans were turned off. She had recently been positioned to be on duty in the security room, where she could watch whatever the security cameras were picking up. She knew which hallways and rooms weren’t under surveillance, and so she had set powders in those air vents, leaving whatever poor people to breathe the powders in when the fans were turned on. She vaguely wondered if anyone of them had been found yet—and if she would end up being one of the people to breathe them in. But she dismissed the thought; if she did end up victim to her own attack, it would make her feel like an idiot but also make her look innocent.

    Switching her gaze to the riverbed, she saw Golduck lazily hovering just beneath the water’s surface, the jewel on his forehead glinting dully. He had told Maressa that her idea of collecting Gloom’s powder and hiding it in the vents was stupid and ineffective, but Maressa noticed that he seemed happy when she had told him. Perhaps, she thought, he merely approved that she was finally doing as she had said and working against Team Aqua—even if it was in a comically inefficient way. Nonetheless, he had promised to set his mind to figure out how to sabotage the team from within, and Maressa said she would do what she could to carry it out—within reason.

    Maressa swiveled her head around to make sure that no team member was looking at her and saw that none were within sight. She turned her head to gaze at some trees standing near her, and saw Gloom sitting beside a tree in a patch of sunlight, a line of white drool dribbling from his mouth. Her heart lightened at the sight, and she couldn’t help a smile from coming to her face. The Grass-type had seemed mostly the same as when Maressa first met him, but she noticed some changes. Whenever she approached him, he turned his head and acknowledged her. If she asked him questions, he would usually nod or shake his head, and Maressa was absolutely delighted. As soon as she had been re-stationed she quickly realized that she had no idea how to take care of a non-Water-type Pokemon. Not only that, but she realized—somewhat reluctantly and shamefully—that she really had no right to take Gloom in. She had taken him in from those criminals because she believed that it was best for him. She had felt that it would be wrong to leave him with people who were on the run and there was no wilderness on Mossdeep Island that was suitable for Gloom to live in.

    All the same, she knew that it was wrong for her to hold on to him and so released him as soon as she was stationed on Route 119, where wild Gloom were commonly found. She hadn’t officially released him; he could technically be returned to the Pokeball, and she always kept his Pokeball on her belt, although it was more for sentimental reasons at this point. Although the sentimentality wasn’t entirely directed towards Gloom; it had always felt right for her to have four Pokeballs with her, and feeling the empty one reminded her of Seaking each time.

    Fortunately, Gloom seemed to acclimate to the rainforest just fine, and Maressa couldn’t help but notice that every time she came outside, she saw him nearby, gazing at her. She smiled at him each time, and even though he hardly made a response, it filled her heart to know that he stayed nearby and that she could still see him.

    She frowned. She wanted to do something nice for Gloom, maybe give him a snack or something to eat. But what did Grass-types eat? Did they eat at all? Every time she saw him, Gloom seemed content to just soak up the sunlight. Maressa’s thoughts flickered back to Derek and his Breloom; he would know how to take care of Gloom. At the thought of those two, Marerssa’s heart sank a little. She wondered what trouble they had gotten into for releasing her and hoped they were all right. There was a longing in her heart to speak to Derek—to speak to someone about her desire to leave Team Aqua and how she had grown to hate the Team. Well, she inwardly admitted, how she had grown to hate Matt.

    At the thought of Matt, she turned her mind to thinking what she could do to damage Team Aqua. Many of the experimental labs had bottles filled with ethanol—that was highly flammable. Maybe she could—

    KABOOM!

    She wheeled around as the sounds of an explosion met her ears. People were screaming and yelling and she saw a group of people wearing black-and-white striped shirts pelting into the forest near her, away from where their base was situated. Maressa ran down the slope of land to where she knew the Team Aqua base was located, hearing Golduck’s feet slap wetly in the grass as he raced alongside her. She came to a halt as she saw the small metal structure nestled snugly between several trees. Most of the base was underground, leaving only a small entrance above ground. But there were copious amounts of smoke issuing from the metal structure and Team Aqua members were stumbling out of it, coughing.

    Maressa started to go forward but stopped when everything in her vision exploded in a burst of light. It was too bright to see; even when she clenched her eyes shut, there was still a blinding golden light. She turned away and buried her face in the crook of her elbow, feeling frustrated, confused and completely helpless.

    A moment later the light suddenly vanished. Maressa opened her eyes and lowered her arm, blinking away the spots that were popping up before her eyes. Heart racing, she raised her eyes towards the heavens and felt a chill roll down her spine. Dark grey clouds were moving rapidly in a spotty formation, erratically letting through piercing columns of sunlight before covering them up again. And just as suddenly as they had started, they stopped, leaving puffy white clouds and serene blue sky.

    Maressa blinked, but didn’t have enough time to question it before she felt every hair on her body lift. She immediately looked down at Golduck and found that she could barely control her own muscles. Golduck didn’t have any hairs—not since he was a Psyduck—but the wide-eyed expression of shock on his face mirrored the panic Maressa felt in her heart. And as she saw her friend suddenly rise into the air and felt her own body rise as well, her heart began pounding furiously and she could feel sweat breaking out on her forehead.

    Whatever force that held her body aloft turned her around, and she saw the reason for the strange occurrences. Maressa’s heart jumped in her throat as she saw a little gold-and-silver imp floating in the air before her, its body giving off a soft glow. She might have considered it cute, but the smoke that was billowing from a large hole in the ground where the entrance to the base had stood, along with the fact that she could no longer move her own body, and with the rage-filled brown eyes of the creature, left Maressa terrified.

    Her terror was overridden a second later by searing pain. She took in a strangled gasp as it felt like a thousand needles were being driven into her brain, and she saw her own memories flash before her eyes: playing in a pond near Fuchsia city, getting into a slap-fight with Psyduck, staring out the window of a moving truck, getting into a slap-fight with Betty, graduating college, receiving her Team Aqua uniform, talking with Derek…

    Each of these memories lasted for a split-second before moving on to the next. Maressa didn’t only see the memories, but felt all of the feelings associated with them: the anger at Psyduck and her sister, the longing and sadness of moving to Hoenn, the excitement of joining Team Aqua, the fear of being trapped in a Team Magma base—and everything else as hundreds of memories were sifted through her mind in an instant. Only the memories of her talking to Derek and escaping the Team Magma base lasted longer. She saw one memory of Derek searching through the medicine cabinet, turning his head to talk to her.

    I like this one.

    Maressa saw the little imp staring at her, its brown eyes stern but approving as it contemplated her memory with her.

    This one is nice.

    It took her but a moment to realize that “this one” meant Derek and that it was the creature’s voice she heard in her head—a voice that was slightly masculine, and of a young age. She thought that maybe it sounded most like a boy, perhaps ten years old or so.

    But how come the imp liked Derek? Did it know who he was?

    I’ve seen him before. He’s nice to my friend. He brings him food and takes care of him.

    Maressa gazed into the Pokemon’s eyes. The pain had vanished from her brain and she could see the Pokemon gazing at her—almost eagerly. She didn’t know who this “friend” was, but the Pokemon knew Derek. And by the sound of it, he was taking care of someone, which sounded exactly like what he had been doing before. Did this mean that he had gotten off easily after Maressa had escaped?

    He’s fine. I have seen his thoughts too. He worries about you a lot. He thinks you’re dead. I’ll let him know that you are alive.

    The Pokemon held Maressa a moment longer—she could feel it examining her feelings of resentment towards Team Aqua and sifting through her memories of making a deal with Liza and Phoebe. As these flashed before her mind, she felt a burst of joy, though it was not from her. The Pokemon’s eyes lit up as it gazed at her and then lowered her to the ground. The two of them stared at each other for a second before it vanished.

    Maressa was only on her feet for a second before the weight of her body came back to her. She fell to her knees, clutching her stomach as it reeled in nausea. She felt dizzy and heavy. Her vision was starting to go black, and she leaned forward and retched, coughing as she wiped her mouth clean. She fell onto her back, arms spread outwards as she breathed heavily, gazing at the sky as colors popped before her eyes. Golduck was at her side in a flash, his vermillion eyes filled with concern.

    Laying a hand on her friend, Maressa panted, “Did… did you feel it, Golduck?”

    The Pokemon’s eyes moved downwards as he nodded slowly.

    “What do you think it was?”

    Golduck shook his head. It was a Pokemon, something far more powerful than anything he had ever come across, but he didn’t know anything else about it.

    Maressa continued gazing at the sky, questions popping into her mind, which she voiced aloud to Golduck.

    “Just what was that thing? Why did it come to attack us? How does it know Derek? Does this mean it’s been around Team Magma before? Why was it so overjoyed when it realized Matt and I had made a deal with Phoebe and Liza? What did it do to the sky, and to our base?”

    As she voiced these thoughts, she thought on each of them and began to piece together bits of this puzzle in her mind, when she felt the ground shake as people were running by. Golduck helped Maressa sit back up as Team Aqua members ran over to the base.

    “Are you all right?”

    Maressa looked up as Nick ambled over. “Yeah,” she said a little shakily. “Just what was that thing?”

    Nick shook his head. “I have no idea. I was just outside one minute, keeping watch, and then I heard this loud explosion. So I took off running as fast as I could—because what was I supposed to do, y’know?—and once I reached the woods, it felt like something was squeezing my brain. And I can hardly even move my own body, and next thing I know I’m in the air, and I see my entire life flash right before my eyes. Literally every single thing I ever experienced flashed before me in maybe a few seconds. And a second later I’m lying flat on my back in the grass. So I got up and noticed that little—that little thing floating in the air, and you and your Golduck were floating in front of it for a few seconds before you two dropped down. Then it vanished—not a sound, just a weird little light flicker—and it was gone.”

    “Yeah… That’s pretty much what happened to me.”

    Maressa stared at the plume of smoke erupting from the ground for a second more before switching her gaze to Golduck. Even though his face showed little expression as usual, Maressa could tell that he was disturbed. His slanted red eyes were soft and glossed over as he contemplated. Reaching out a hand, Maressa rubbed his shoulder. He jolted back to reality and gave her a nod of acknowledgement.

    “You doing okay?”

    Nod.

    “You wanna talk about it?”

    A pause. Shrug. Maybe they would talk later.

    “Gotcha. Do you know what that thing we saw was?”

    Golduck’s gaze cast downward at these words. His shoulders slumped forward and his tail was moving back-and-forth slowly.

    “What is it? Come on, speak to me.”

    The Water-type didn’t move for a moment before he let out a series of low quacks. He wasn’t entirely sure what it was that just appeared before them—but he could tell it was powerful, and very old. Upon seeing that creature, some sort of sense awoke in Golduck—a sense that he should treat that creature with deference and shouldn’t attack it. It was a higher being; it was far above him. But the moment it looked at Maressa, Golduck knew it was a potential threat to her so he cast aside his instincts and prepared to attack anyway.

    Except that he couldn’t. The creature was so powerful; nothing like Golduck had ever encountered or even dreamed could exist. In an instant, it had taken control over his body and brain and scanned all of his memories and everything that was on his mind, halting his flow of thought and rendering him completely useless and immobile, physically and mentally. But it had also done it to Maressa and apparently the other Team Aqua grunts and their Pokemon too, all at the same time.

    Golduck sat down on the ground, his head turned away as he quacked. In all his life, he had never felt so useless. That creature could have done away with Maressa or any of the other Pokemon, and there wasn’t a thing he could have done to stop it.

    Putting an arm around his shoulders, Maressa smiled. “It’s okay. I know that thing was strong—I don’t think any Pokemon I’ve ever met would be able to do a thing to it. I doubt even the Elite Four could give it a fight. And,” she whispered wryly, “it certainly did a number on Team Aqua’s base.”

    Several meters before her, she saw Matt and the rest of the Team standing, staring at where the entrance to the base had once been. The smoke had cleared away, leaving a pit in the middle of the jungle. Matt swore violently and put his hands on his hips.

    “What the hell do we do now?”

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

    For the next several days, the attacks by that little creature continued to occur on all of the Team Aqua bases. Archie told the Team Aqua members that the little creature was known as “Jirachi.”

    “It’s incredibly powerful, as you already saw,” he said to a small contingent of members one day. He sat at a desk, chin resting on one hand, eyes locked as he thought hard. “There’s only one of it, and it’s supposed to only be awake for a week every one-thousand years. Most people don’t believe it exists—I sure didn’t.” He shook his head. “I can’t believe he was right…”

    “If it’s going to keep attacking us, what do we do?” Shelly asked.

    “Lay low. No missions, no going out for anything except to abandon bases and move elsewhere. If it attacks, leave the base and head elsewhere. I’m sure the Hoenn authorities will be trying to track it and investigate the attack sites. Considering we were its immediate target, I’m willing to bet that Team Magma has control of it—somehow.”

    But the Hoenn authorities seemed to be having problems of their own. The day after Jirachi had attacked the base in the rainforest, the police headquarters in Petalburg City was demolished. Maressa saw an image of the building—once so large and fortified—on the TV as little more than a mound of smoking rubble within a steel skeleton. It wasn’t just police buildings—random areas of cities throughout Hoenn were being torn apart by Jirachi’s attacks. The most alarming thing that happened was the eruption of Mt. Chimney, which Team Aqua had recently made dormant and had since become a sort of inland lake. The volcano had shown no prior signs of activity, and suddenly opened wide with bursts of lava and smoke. Copious amounts of ash and gas released into the atmosphere, which settled on the western side of Hoenn when blown by easterly winds. The suddenness of the eruption had most of Team Aqua believe that Jirachi was the reason for it.

    Maressa stood in a room of other Team Aqua members, all of whom were crowded around a TV. As she watched the reporters speak of the attacks and speculate where they might occur next, more and more questions kept coming to her mind.

    The most prominent question was: if Team Magma really was controlling Jirachi, why didn’t they just have Jirachi bring them the Red and Blue Orbs directly? The admins brought this question to Archie, and he speculated that it wasn’t within Jirachi’s power to do so. The Orbs weren’t ordinary objects, he argued, and they may have properties that prevent Pokemon powers from working on them. Well, Maressa thought, if that was the case, why didn’t Maxie just have Jirachi dry up the oceans and make more land by itself? If the power Maressa had seen was anything to gauge by, Jirachi was certainly capable of doing such.

    Maressa mentioned it to Shelly, who’s only reply was, “Because they’re going to get Groudon to do that.”

    Maressa thought back to the words Archie had said to her when she first returned to Team Aqua. She knew that Team Aqua wanted to control Kyogre—were they planning to do that long-term? Jirachi was only awake for a week, after all. But hadn’t Team Aqua’s main objective been to restore the oceans to the way they were before human interference? Was it the same with Team Magma; did they want to restore the land to the condition it was before humans had made such an impact on it? From her conversation with Tabitha, Maressa believed so. If Team Magma had control over Jirachi, she couldn’t see why they wouldn’t just use it to do work that they originally wanted Groudon for. If their goal really was to restore natural habitats, Jirachi should have been able to do it quickly and easily. Why go to the trouble of summoning another Pokemon? Unless they wanted control over Groudon for the long-term, she couldn’t see the reasoning—and even then, how long would they want control over Groudon for?

    In the midst of these events, Maressa decided to take full advantage of Jirachi’s unpredictable attacks to take out her own anger on Team Aqua. Jirachi’s attacks were so frequent that team members didn’t bother investigating if there was any other possible reason for them. Much of the time, people saw the imp as it was wrecking things apart, but there were moments when, seemingly out of the blue, part of the base or its equipment would lie in wreckage, with no evidence left behind. She felt somewhat useless as she knew she couldn’t do things on the scale that Jirachi did without giving herself or her Pokemon away, but she did small things when no one else was around and she knew she wasn’t on camera: deleting all the files on computers, or spilling over bottles of cleaning alcohol in labs and setting them on fire. There was one day where Sharpedo came over to her and proudly proclaimed that he had torn chunks out of some of the team’s aquatic equipment.

    “Sharpedo,” Maressa said worriedly, “other members on this team train and study Sharpedos too. They know what your bite marks will look like—you could easily be found out!”

    But in the wake of everything else that was happening, the other team members seemed more exasperated about the torn equipment than anything. They didn’t bother to look into it, dismissing it as either another of Jirachi’s attacks or the doings of a wild, territorial Sharpedo.

    In the meantime, Golduck was pressing Maressa harder than ever to pack up and leave Team Aqua for good. Everyone was on edge and thinking about Jirachi all the time; she could easily get out undetected and they could start looking for Seaking. It was their golden opportunity!

    “I can’t,” Maressa hissed. “I have to meet up with Matt every day to go see Phoebe and Liza.”

    Golduck shook his head in disgust. Maressa could get away—she just chose not to.

    “But Golduck, what if Phoebe and Liza end up actually giving the Orbs to Team Aqua? Am I supposed to just run away and let it happen? If Team Aqua gets the Orbs, then the rest of the world is done for!”

    Golduck slapped his tail loudly on the ground and quacked angrily. So what if Team Aqua got the Orbs? What were they supposed to do about it? She was one person with three Pokemon, he reminded her. Team Aqua was over a hundred people and hundreds of Pokemon. How were they supposed to fight against them?

    “Because you’re stronger than any other Pokemon on this team,” she told him, and she almost meant it.

    Golduck rolled his eyes at this, but dropped the issue for the time being. A large reason for his desire to leave was that he didn’t want to constantly have to be guarding Maressa and on look-out for Matt.

    Matt had told Archie about the deal he had made with Phoebe, who said that it was stupid and dangerous of him to give her his Pokemon as well as to trust her to keep her word. His anger abated little when Matt showed him Banette’s Pokeball and said that he had made sure that the Elite Four member would keep her promise. Nonetheless, Archie told him to stick with what he had started.

    “Our base on Route 119 is gone,” the boss said to Matt. “Have someone’s Pokemon fly you and Maressa there at the end of each day to meet with them. We’ve sent a number of our own members to pretend to be new Team Magma recruits and spy on them and try to release the boy; I’ll tell you if I hear anything. Bring strong Pokemon with you in case anything bad happens. Who knows, maybe they are looking for an honest bargain. They seem to have their hands tied up as much as we do.”

    Except for the times when Maressa and Matt met to go see Phoebe and Liza, they had almost completely stopped interacting. She could sense displeasure and anger emanating from him each time they were together, but she didn’t care. With her Pokemon on her, he didn’t dare try hurting her anymore—once he was given reason not to. There was one instance, a day or so after they first made the deal with Phoebe and Liza, where he and Maressa walked past each other in the hallway. Maressa’s eyes flickered at him and met his for a split second before he slammed her against the wall. Pain exploded in the back of her head right before his fist collided with her abdomen. The air was completely knocked out of her—she coughed, trying to breathe, but it hurt to do so. Every organ in her body screamed as they spasmed, and lances of agony ran through her body as she crumpled to the floor. A burst of white light erupted her vision, but it was not accompanied by pain. The white light faded, there was a flash of purple, and she saw Matt lying at the far end of the hallway. Looking up, she saw Golduck standing over her, concern and worry in his eyes. The Water-type helped Maressa to her feet, and had her lean on him as they walked down the hallway, not giving the admin another glance.

    Since then, Golduck stayed out of his Pokeball whenever Maressa accompanied Matt. The admin eyed the Water-type warily, but other than that never even acknowledged that they were with him.

    It was the day after the first attack—two days after they first made their deal with Phoebe and Liza. The four humans and Golduck stood in the small cliff-side opening where they had first met. The Elite Four Member and Gym Leader were both soaking wet from the rain outside and looking thoroughly disgruntled. Matt looked up at them, his expression bored.

    “Got anything?” he asked.

    Phoebe wordlessly held up a cloth bag which sagged with weight. Matt’s eyes immediately lit up and he held out his hand to receive it.

    The Ghost-type trainer jerked her hand back. “Give us back Tate and then you can have these.”

    Matt’s excitement was quickly replaced with anger. “We don’t have him—yet. But we’re working on it. At least let me take a look at the Orbs.”

    “Are you kidding me? ‘Just take a look’ means that you’re not going to return them.” She and Liza turned to go. “Have Tate with you next time, and then you can have these.”

    The admin’s face had turned a vivid shade of red as the two of them began to walk out. Phoebe and Liza hadn’t even reached the cliff opening when Matt punched the wall, and a large group of Zubat descended from their perches on the ceiling and filled the air. Grabbing their Pokeballs, the girls sent out Lunatone and Banette but a Zubat had already grabbed the bag from Phoebe’s hands and carried it over to Matt. Maressa watched apprehensively as the admin took the bag from the Pokemon’s jaws and looked inside, his eyes shining in earnest. He reached in and pulled out a dull, blue sphere that looked to be made of glass. All traces of delight faded from his face, and after a second of examining the Orb, he looked at Phoebe and Liza, whose Pokemon were fending off the cloud of Zubat, in disgust.

    “Do you realize who you’re dealing with?”

    At his words, the Zubat dispersed, and Phoebe and Liza looked directly at him. Small bite marks dotted their hands and faces, leaving little bleeding punctures in their skin. Liza looked confused, and Phoebe seemed apprehensive.

    “What do you mean?” Phoebe asked.

    Keeping a steady gaze on her, Matt dropped the Blue Orb. Maressa gasped sharply as it shattered into thousands of azure bits on the rocks.

    It had actually shattered.

    And so easily, as if it were made of ordinary glass. Maressa’s mind seemed to stop working—her flow of thought ceased. She looked up at the other humans: Liza was staring at the shattered Orb in shock, Phoebe was looking at Matt in horror. The Aqua admin looked squarely at the two of them, his expression getting angrier by the second.

    “What kind of person do you take me for? You think that just because I don’t play by your rules means that I’m some kind of idiot? That wasn’t the Blue Orb, and this—” he reached in the bag and held out a perfectly-round sphere of red glass, “—isn’t the Red Orb.” So saying, he dropped it, where it shattered on the ground next to its twin.

    Phoebe grew hysterical. “Do you know what you’ve done?” She shrieked. “Those are needed for keeping the balance of power in Hoenn! Now that you’ve destroyed them, Groudon and Kyogre are all the more likely to set loose and start fighting!”

    “Don’t lie to me!” Matt shouted. “I know those were plain glass objects—the real Orbs would have power, those had nothing!” Breathing heavily, his face was set as he glared squarely at the Elite Four member, who was getting angrier. “If you’re not going to uphold your end of the bargain,” Matt said, “I see no reason to uphold mine.” He reached inside his pocket and took out a Pokeball.

    Phoebe’s face blanched. “What are you doing?” she asked quietly.

    “I don’t get it,” Liza said as she looked up at Phoebe. “What’s going on?”

    Maressa was wondering the same thing, and merely watched as Matt dropped the Pokeball and it clattered on the ground. Placing a foot on it, Matt leaned, gradually pushing more of his weight on it. There was a crack, and a brief spark of static—

    “STOP!”

    Maressa’s head jerked upwards as she heard Phoebe scream. The Elite Four member’s tan face had turned completely white, and tears were running from her dark brown eyes. Phoebe ran forward, trying to grab the Pokeball from Matt, but he deftly picked it as an Azumarill burst out of a Pokeball on his belt and sprayed the Ghost-type trainer with a jet of water. A second later, the Water-type’s body was surrounded by a ghastly purple glow and it was thrown across the room. Maressa looked to her right and saw the purple glow fade from Lunatone’s eyes as it and its trainer rushed over to where Phoebe lay against the rock wall. Azumarill immediately got up from where it laid and ran to stand before Matt, while Liza and Lunatone squared off against them.

    “I’m not interested in fighting,” Matt said. He held up the Pokeball he had previously been trying to crush. “But you should have never tried to pull that on me.”

    “P—please,” Phoebe stuttered from where she lay. She gazed up at Matt, her hair and clothes completely soaked, the pink flowers in her hair sagging. Tears were still leaking from her eyes as she pleaded. “Don’t do anything to hurt her. I’m—I’m sorry—I’ll bring you the real ones.”

    “Oh, I wasn’t going to hurt her,” Matt said nonchalantly. “Don’t you know what happens to Pokemon who are stuck inside their Pokeballs when they’re destroyed? They—”

    “Yes, I know!” Phoebe shouted. Matt chuckled as he watched her gaze at him in terror and shock. “I know, I’m sorry, I’ll bring you the real Orbs—whatever you want, just please don’t do anything to my Banette.”

    “Bring me the real Orbs, and you’ve got a deal. Otherwise, I will destroy this Pokeball with your precious Banette inside it. We’re done here.” Without another word, he walked to the opening in the cliff face, where overhanging plants blocked the view to the entrance. Maressa glanced at Lunatone and Liza, who glared at her, and Phoebe, who was sitting on the floor and sobbing softly. Turning her head, she followed Matt outside to where the Pelipper were waiting for them, her heart heavy with guilt and pity.

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

    Tabitha stood at the back of a room. The walls, floor and ceiling were all made of the same plain, drab metal. He sighed inwardly—it was from working in places like this all the time that made him long for the outside air, for forests, fields and jungles. He knew that being a Team Magma admin would mean a lot of office work, and to an extent he enjoyed what he did, but mostly he couldn’t wait until the day Team Magma took control of Groudon and built up more land, restoring the forests and habitats to their natural states. He reached down to pat Mightyena, but his canine companion wasn’t at his usual spot. Tabitha remembered that his Pokemon was watching their prisoner at that moment, and his heart sank a little further.

    He was snapped out of his reverie by the sounds of footsteps and audible crunching. Raising his head, he saw Courtney walking over to him, a plate piled high with toast in one hand while the other held a half-eaten piece of toast. Chewing with her mouth open, she nodded to Tabitha as she made her way over to him, her long grey skirt swinging from side-to-side with the movement of her hips.

    “How’s it going, Tabs?”

    “What are you doing here? Don’t you have work to do?”

    “Got it all finished,” she said as she took another bite. “I asked the boss what to do, and he said to find a way to kill time.”

    Tabitha eyed her toast with disgust. “Do you have to have that here?”

    “It’s my breakfast! What do you want me to do, starve?”

    He glanced at his watch. “Courtney, it’s 2 pm. Why are you eating breakfast now?”

    “Because I had to work night shifts this past week and didn’t get off until four am, which usually means not getting to bed until about five.” Holding the plate of toast up to him, she asked, “Want some?”

    “No thanks.”

    “Come on, I took too many. Have some.”

    “No, I can’t.”

    “You can’t or you don’t want to?”

    “No, I can’t have grains. I gain weight really easily.”

    Courtney’s black eyebrows raised at his words. “Oh really?” she said as she started eyeing him.

    “Will you stop staring at me?” he snapped.

    “I mean,” she closed her eyes and shrugged. “You could stand to gain a few pounds, is all.”

    “What do you mean by that?”

    “I mean I can see every vein and muscle sticking out on your arm,” she said as she poked his bicep.

    “Stop that.”

    “It makes you look like you’re always extremely tense.”

    “I probably look that way because I am tense,” he said through gritted teeth.

    “Learn to relax a little! And maybe a good way to start with that would be eating whatever you want,” she sang as she waved a piece of toast in front of his face.

    “Kinda hard to relax when there are always people around.”

    “Really? I feel like it’s harder to relax when there aren’t people around. Like when I’m put somewhere by myself and there’s nobody around, I feel myself getting restless and anxious and it gets so boring and I get lonely easily. Either that, or my energy just drains away and I don’t feel like doing anything.” She shrugged. “But maybe that’s just me. Anyway, how are the new recruits?” she asked as she gestured to the group of people before them.

    Tabitha shrugged. “Seem pretty average. I put Connor in charge of them and had them go through a series of exercises, mainly to see whether or not they can take orders. Haven’t had any issues yet.”

    Silence stretched between the two of them, leaving Connor’s echoing voice and the grunts’ replies as the only noise in the room. Tabitha savored the peace, but after a few minutes glanced at Courtney. Her dark red eyes had glossed over, and a small frown was etched on her face. Her brow was slightly furrowed, and she overall looked very worried—and slightly disturbed.

    Taken aback, Tabitha asked, “Are you okay? Courtney?”

    At the sound of her name, the Magma commander snapped out of her trance. Nodding, she said, “Yeah, it’s… it’s nothing. I’ve just been out of it for the past few days…”

    Unconvinced, Tabitha turned his attention back to the new recruits, but his mind was still working rapidly. It just wasn’t like Courtney to suddenly drift off like that—he had only seen her do it a few times before, and had known her for the better part of four years. Why would—

    “Have you felt it?” she asked him suddenly, her eyes shining with worry.

    “Felt what?”

    “That… that presence.” She turned her gaze from him and cast her eyes downward. “Ever since we took them, I’ve sometimes felt it here, even though I’ve never seen it. But I know who it is.”

    Tabitha immediately knew what she was talking about, and glanced worriedly at the new recruits. No one seemed to have overheard their conversation, however. “No,” he answered quietly, “I haven’t felt anything. And I don’t think this is the best place to discuss this. But try not to worry—they’ll both be gone in a few days.”

    Courtney nodded demurely, a most un-Courtney-like way to do anything, but she said no more about it. Even still, Tabitha noticed that she didn’t take another bite of toast, and kept the same, sorrowful expression on her face.

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

    Tabitha’s eyes flickered open as he heard some whining, then scratching. He closed his eyes and rolled over, burying his face in his blanket. Maybe if he pretended that he hadn’t heard him, he would stop…

    A few seconds later, he felt Mightyena’s wet tongue slide over his ear, and he jolted upright. Blinking hazily, he ran a hand through his hair as he tried to see in the blackness of his bedroom. Mightyena continued whining, and even though Tabitha was blind without light, he knew that the Pokemon could see him perfectly clearly.

    “What is it, boy?” Tabitha said groggily. He heard the pads of Mightyena’s feet, then scratching at the door. “What do you need to go out for? Huh? What’s out there?”

    Getting to his feet, Tabitha flicked on the light, blinking at the sudden brightness. Mightyena sat right in front of the door, crimson eyes gazing at Tabitha in worry. The Pokemon’s ears were flattened against his head, and he let out a high-pitched whine as he gazed pleadingly at his owner.

    Tabitha was confused. Why would Mightyena be so worked up? He usually went to bed whenever Tabitha did and slept through the night. When he asked Mightyena why he wanted to go out, the Pokemon only replied, She’s crying, she’s crying.

    She? The only person who stayed near Tabitha was Courtney. He put his hear to the door, but he could hear nothing. Mightyena’s hearing was much more acute than his own, though. And his and Courtney’s rooms were fairly close—it wouldn’t hurt to go check and see if she was okay.

    Putting some clothes on, Tabitha opened the door. Mightyena bounded down the hallway, stopping right before the door to Courtney’s office, which led to her bedroom. Tabitha went down and tried to open the door, but it was locked. Sighing, he pulled a knife out of his pocket and picked the lock open. Opening the door, he intended to peer in and see if everything was okay—but Mightyena pushed the door all the way open as he made his way into the office and through the open door to Courtney’s bedroom. Giving in, Tabitha decided to just go with his Pokemon and followed him in.

    Once he stepped through the doorway, he could hear cries—Courtney’s cries. Tabitha darted into her bedroom and turned the light on to see her lying on her bed, eyes shut, face covered in sweat as she constantly turned back and forth in her distressed sleep. Mightyena jumped up and placed his two front paws on her bed, looking at her with concern.

    “Courtney!” Tabitha called as he hurried over to her bed and grabbed her shoulders. She continued to try and toss, but in her sleep her attempts were weak.

    “No... Can’t be… Gone, all gone…”

    Courtney!” Tabitha felt bad and slightly nervous about doing so, but he roughly shook her shoulders. Courtney’s eyelids flitted open, and she gazed wide-eyed at Tabitha wordlessly.

    “Are you okay? Can you see and hear me?” he asked.

    “Oh, n—no, how can it be you?” she asked before bursting into tears. Sitting on the bed, Tabitha gently wrapped his arms around her and patted her hair, which was stiff with sweat.

    “It’s okay, it was all just a dream,” he said quietly.

    “It wasn’t just a dream,” she insisted as she looked up at him. Her red eyes gazed at him steadily as she said, “Tabitha, I just watched you die.”

    Tabitha’s heart jolted for a second, but he shook his head. “Courtney, I’m right here. Whatever you saw, it wasn’t real. It was all in your head.”

    “Maybe it was all in my head, but why should that mean that it’s not real?” she asked angrily. “Everything I saw—it was all so clear. You and Maxie and almost everyone else was there, and pe—people were dying,” she choked. Her gaze switched from Tabitha and she stared straight forward. “Everything was so bright—the sun was so much brighter than I’ve ever seen. And the sky—it was burning. It was orange and yellow, and looked like it was going up in flames, like it was on fire. And volcanoes were erupting all over, releasing ash and gas, and the air was dirty. People could barely breathe. And I saw—” her eyes widened, and she started shaking slightly, “—I saw it—I saw Groudon. It was huge, it was so huge, and it was so angry. It was standing in this big pool of lava, and staring down at Maxie. Maxie was holding something bright red in his hand, and it was glowing. But Groudon just—just sort of—of breathed out, and lava came out of its mouth—and it covered Maxie and you and—” she stopped, shaking her head as tears came out of her eyes.

    “It’s okay,” Tabitha said soothingly as he held her. As Courtney described what she had seen, he couldn’t help a small amount of fear creep into his heart. “You just had a nightmare. None of that actually happened.”

    “It wasn’t just a nightmare! I’ve had nightmares before, but this was so much more! Tabitha, I saw you and Maxie and everyone else I know on our team get killed by Groudon!”

    “Courtney, I am right here. How could I have been killed if I’m sitting with you right now? You can feel me—you know I’m not a ghost.”

    “But what if I saw was a sort of vision, what if it’s showing me what’s about to come? Is that what’ll happen if we take Groudon?” She shook her head and turned away. “Maybe we were wrong to do this. We should never have taken Tate or Jirachi—maybe we shouldn’t be trying to control Groudon. After all, there’s so little known about it. We’re probably getting in way over our heads. This’ll just end in disaster for us all.”

    Tabitha stiffened. Courtney was the very last person on the team who should be saying these things. “You know that isn’t true,” he said softly. “Maxie has done more research on Groudon than almost anyone. The Red Orb will control Groudon, and everything will be all right. It’s probably just having Jirachi here that’s making you think this—that Pokemon is a Psychic-type, and it might be messing with our minds.” Tabitha stood up. “Trust me, everything will be fine. You just need to get some proper sleep.”

    Courtney shrugged, still looking distracted. “Maybe. We’ll see.”

    Tabitha grimaced. His co-worker was as stubborn as ever. “I don’t want to leave you by yourself tonight; do you want one of your Pokemon to stay out with you?”

    She frowned, thinking on what he said. “Yeah, that’s a good idea. Can you hand me that Pokeball on the dresser? Ninetales is in there.”

    He did so, and she opened the ball to release a large, slightly canine-looking creature. The Ninetales yawned and stretched, its sleek cream-colored fur shining even in the dull light of the room. Tossing its nine tails to the side, it looked questioningly up at its trainer, wondering why it was called out of its ball so late at night. But Courtney simply smiled on seeing her companion and began ruffling the silky fur on its head. The Ninetales closed its brilliant red eyes contentedly and laid its head on its trainer’s bed.

    Before he left Courtney, Tabitha got her a glass of water then bade her goodnight and left her room. As he lay on his bed, staring at the blackness of his room, his mind buzzed with thoughts while the sound of Mightyena’s snores reached his ears.

    The fact that Courtney said that Team Magma should give up was by far the most disturbing thing. Just what exactly happened that made her want to throw away everything she had been working towards for the past several years? Sure, she described everything she had seen to him, but it was just a dream—Tabitha had had his fair share of disturbing dreams throughout his life, but nothing had ever made him completely change what he believed in and give up his life’s goal. Courtney was one of the second-highest ranking people on their team. Tabitha was the one who had strongly vied for her to be made a commander alongside him; he had seen her potential and the lengths she had been willing to go for Team Magma. She had been working with the team since its very beginning—at least, right after Maxie had started recruiting people. She was also by far the most ruthless person on their team. Tabitha had seen few people in life more vicious than her, and he knew that the grunts called her “Crazy Courtney” for a good reason. The most notorious example was the time where a grunt was caught trying to desert Team Magma, so Maxie told Courtney to “deal with him.” Tabitha didn’t know exactly what had happened behind those closed doors, but the grunt had come out of that room, covered in burn marks and shivering, his eyes holding the look of someone who had experienced things that were forever burned into his memory.

    And Tabitha had been with her during other interrogations; she typically sent her Ninetales out and had it inflict small burns on people, which grew in intensity. Tabitha knew that her Ninetales possessed some psychic powers, and perhaps it would mess with the minds of its victims. Other times, Courtney would use the boss’s Houndoom, who would inflict burns that would never heal.

    Tabitha gripped his hair in frustration. It was reasons like this that made him more aggravated—Courtney barely had any morals! She would do whatever it took for Team Magma to win. She was always eager to cause destruction and burn trees and buildings and whatever else her heart desired to the ground. Did a dream of seeing her co-workers dying really mean that much to her?

    Sighing, Tabitha turned on his side, trying to calm his thoughts. This had to be due to them harboring Jirachi; Courtney’s nightmare couldn’t just be a coincidence. But Jirachi would only be around a few more days, and once it was gone, everything would be back to normal.

    If they could make it that long.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2017
  14. ChloboShoka

    ChloboShoka Writer

    I can totally feel the Hoenn vibes in this. I think it's quite fitting how the title is drowning and has a Team Aqua grunt in it. A really good first chapter with lots of detail. I feel like I can route for the characters. :)
     
  15. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Awesome, a new chapter! Let's get back into it!

    First, though, a note about the Matt thing--you don't need to write out a scene or anything if it makes it uncomfortable, but it might help to have Maressa at least mention just what it was that happened. If I remember correctly, they were actually on friendly terms before that scene last chapter where Matt attacked her, so the obvious enmity he shows towards here does come off a little odd to me at least. Just why did he change his opinion on her so radically?
    d
    Okay, then the chapter proper. I don't think it was particularly info dump-y or information heavy in general; it covers a fair amount of ground fast, and there's some summarizing, but it's hardly like this was a bunch of characters standing around expositing at each other! Jirachi shows up and explodes things, Matt flips out at Phoebe and Liza, and Courtney has a nightmare... there's plenty going on! The only thing is, if you want to make the beginning part of the chapter more engaging, you could open with Maressa actually trapping one of the vents with Gloom's spores, rather than having her think back on doing it. But overall I don't think infodumping was a major problem this chapter.

    This struck me as repetitive, Golduck explaining twice that he doesn't know what Jirachi is.

    lol, a reference to Tabitha's redesign?

    I'm going to guess you meant "ear."

    I see Matt isn't the only guy who doesn't know how to knock. :p

    The second part of this sentence is a little funky. You might get away with changing "creep" to "creeping," but it would probably sound better if you reword it entirely. Something like "he couldn't prevent a small amount of fear from creeping into his heart" would sound better to me. Adding the "from" is more correct and sounds better to me, but it would mean you'd need to use a different verb than "help."

    Huh, up until this point I'd gotten the impression that Tabitha doesn't like her much.

    I think I kind of see what you were talking about in terms of having trouble getting all your scenes in the right order with the right chronology. The part with Jirachi blowing up various Aqua bases takes place over several days, so it's odd to jump from there to the scene with Matt and Phoebe and Liza, which takes place the day after Jirachi first attacked. I think simply switching that scene with the description of Jirachi's attacks on the base would take care of that problem.

    Loved how things moved along in this chapter, though! With Jirachi's appearance before Maressa, I'm getting a sense of how the Magma/Aqua storylines might intertwine again, and once they do I bet we'll be rocketing towards the climax of the 'fic. I particularly liked the section where Matt confronts Phoebe and Liza; Matt is really scary there, really threatening, and I love what a scary, competent villainous character he is. The attempt to substitute the orbs was a bad move on Phoebe's part, but it makes perfect sense for her to try, assuming she thinks of Matt as a dumb criminal. Him totally seeing through that plan was great.

    I think this was a pretty good chapter to come back on. It kind of touched on all the open plot threads you've got going on, and it didn't look rusty at all. Nice work, and I hope you enjoy settling into writing this story once again!
     
  16. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    Interesting way to use the powder attacks. It's sad that she left Gloom behind in this chapter - those powder attacks could be useful down the road. I'm surprised she did that in the end, really, given how attached to Gloom she's been. It really proves how serious she is about putting what's right into action now, even if she's super hesitant about it. I know Gloom was no Seaking, but... Still, it surprised me.

    It might've been more interesting to read Maressa's logical thought process on figuring out these questions (or the answers to them), since I was already asking all those questions, too, before Maressa voiced them.

    Poor Golduck. He just wants to protect his trainer. :C For him to say this means he accepts that he's practically useless and not strong in this situation, and it seems a pretty big deal since he's gotten super upset before about not being as strong as he wants to be.

    Nice homage to the pokedex entry of houndoom, lol. Sounds terrifying, though, having burns that never heal. :C A total Team Magma-esque tactic.

    Nice way to end the chapter. :p It's pretty ominous, and I won't be surprised if things break out into chaos before Jirachi is gone. Overall, this was a good chapter where things happened and previous chapters were recapped a tiny bit at the same time. The pacing was spot on, and the tension building up for all parties involved was well written, too.
     
  17. Finally found time to catch up!

    I liked the direction you took Chapter 14. That image of a council of all the League officials was something I really should've expected after what happened in Chapter 13, but it actually took me by surprise - in a good way! I appreciate the sisterly dynamic you've given to Phoebe and Liza here, and of course, I really enjoyed the dynamics between those two and Matt and Maressa.

    Maressa in particular felt really, uhh, real here, and I thought that scene where she finally, finally makes a connection with Gloom was really warranted. Her indecision about leaving Aqua has been lingering for quite some time now, but I think this particular instance is the strongest that actually addressed why she wanted to leave and why it was good for her. So great job with that!

    I was just a bit iffy about Derek's scene here, not because of what it contained - I thought it was a good and much-needed follow-up to the arc in Chapter 13 - but because of how it fit with the chapter as a whole. I think the shift to the Magma base was a bit sudden? But at the same time, I understand why you had to include this, and like I said, I'm actually glad you did since it brought Derek into Magma's current conflict and he's serving as a sort-of parallel and contrast to what's happening with Maressa at that same moment. I don't know, I'm of two minds about the scene's inclusion, but I thought I'd bring it up.

    As for Chapter 15, I have to say that I didn't think anyone could portray Jirachi as this terrifying thing, but you certainly did a convincing job doing so! I'm also glad that it's furthering the parallel-and-contrast thing you're doing with Maressa and Derek - I'm excited to see how Derek reacts to all this!

    That scene between Phoeobe, Liza, Matt and Maressa was pretty good, too, although I did think that you could've framed it better? I think it goes back to what Negrek said about how the story sort-of jumps back to it after a transition that clearly signified a passage of time. It was a good scene, and I understand why it was necessary, but right now it feels like it was insrted into the chapter rather than the chapter naturally flowing into that scene.

    But by far my favorite part about this chapter was how you're approaching Tabitha's character. I thought it was smart to introduce Courtney and let the readers see how they react to each other. I didn't think you'd bring in Courtney's vision right off the bat (although considering how close we are to the climax, it makes sense to establish it), but I think that did a solid job in putting even more depth into Tabitha's character. He's slowly shaping up to be my favorite character of the whole story, so I'm glad that you're giving him all these interesting scenes!

    So yeah, really exciting stuff you're getting into, and I can't wait to see how you deal with all the build up you've been doing. Awesome job! :)
     
  18. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    Hey errybody, sorry for the long silence. The past few months have been really emotionally-taxing for me in real life, and I didn't have motivation to do much of anything. But I'm back! Chapter 16 is written, and just needs some editing. So until that's done (hopefully by the 31st for Drowning's 4th anniversary), here are some replies:

    Negrek
    Makes sense; I'll keep that in mind (and hopefully get to it) when I write about them again.

    Hehehe yep :p

    He doesn't like Courtney much as a person, but he's willing to do mostly anything if it'll benefit Team Magma as a whole. Courtney was the most capable person he had seen (alongside himself and Maxie) which is why he wanted her to be a commander, even if their personalities clash.

    Thanks so much for the review! I always love hearing from you, and after I get things picking up here again, I'll hopefully return to yours! :)

    diamondpearl876
    I wanted to make sure that Maressa is still a good character, and with people pointing out that she was essentially kidnapping Gloom, I felt I couldn't really keep it in good conscience. And I don't intend to have Gloom totally disappear yet--he got a bit attached to her, so you can expect to at least see him again :) You're definitely right about him being useful down the road, though.

    Yeah, he might not be in focus much but he's struggling a lot at this moment, for all the reasons you mentioned :(

    Aw thanks! Hehe, you'll see chaos again soon for sure :p Thanks so much for the review and the kind help! :)

    Dramatic Melody
    Thanks! Glad to hear I did a good job with making her indecisive, since I often can't decide how to put whether it makes sense for her to make the decisions she does (or fail to, lol)

    Thanks for the tip! I think it's fair, and honestly, in general I'm just not sure how to make scene transitions smoother. I think it's because I have several different characters in different scenarios, and I don't know that's a problem or if there's a better way to connect them all that I'm just missing.

    Haha I can't really remember it now, but it probably was just inserted in all honest XD But yeah, I think it's that general problem I have with scene transitions and flow. I'll keep that in mind and try to hopefully make it better!

    Ahhh thanks, I definitely enjoy writing his scenes the most! And I wanted to include Courtney's vision somewhere, and I felt like having Jirachi around would be an as-reasonable instigator to it as there would be.

    Thanks so much for the review! As I said, I'll hopefully be posting the next chapter soon (and hopefully will be better about writing and posting chapters again now that life is slowing down a bit 9_9)
     
  19. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    Happy (almost) New Year's, everyone! And happy 4th anniversary of Drowning! Even though this story has stagnated a lot recently, I want to thank everyone who has been here with me, offering critiques and help and making this story grow into what it is. I'm so very grateful for you all, and I hope you enjoy what's left to come :) As promised, here's Chapter 16!

    Chapter 16

    The door creaked as Derek swung it open. The Mightyena inside was lying down lazily until it heard the door moving. Leaping up with a snarl, it immediately calmed down once it saw the medic walk in carrying a plate of food. The beast wagged its tail happily, its ears flat against its head and tongue lolling out before nosing Derek’s pockets.

    “I don’t have anything for you,” he snapped.

    Derek placed the plate on Tate’s lap. The boy looked at it, his eyes a little hazy as he wordlessly picked up a piece of bread and slowly chewed it. Bags hung beneath his dark eyes, and he stared straight ahead, completely detached from the world around him. The boy hadn’t bathed in the three days since Team Magma had captured him—and Derek could smell it. Unease churned in Derek’s stomach, and he bent down eye-level with the child.

    “Are you doing all right?” he asked gently. “Is there anything I can do for you?”

    The boy was about to take another bite of bread, then lowered it shakily as his eyes roved around in worry.

    “I—I can feel him sometimes… He’s so angry. He’s always so angry. But mostly he’s sad—sad and r-really scared…” He started to quiver slightly. “But usually there’s—there’s nothing. I—I can’t feel anything, I don’t—don’t know where anyone is. My parents, my sister, m—my Pokemon…” He looked down at the Mightyena standing near him. “I see this, but—but I can’t feel it. It—it’s like there’s nothing there.” His eyes turned to Derek. “And I f—feel you, but only now. When the door closes, you’re g—gone…”

    Pity welled up in Derek. He hadn’t realized how taxing having a Dark-type with Tate had been, and how hard it was for Tate to deal with the change of not being able to use his psychic powers as before. Although, Derek figured, those were probably only a small part of Tate’s problems.

    “Is there anything I can get you?”

    The boy sat still for a minute, staring forward before his lips started to quiver and tears started to well up in his eyes. “My f—family… My P—Pokemon…”

    Derek stood up, his heart hanging heavy with guilt and sorrow. He was at a loss of what to do. He wanted to stay with the boy and comfort him, or at least leave one of his Pokemon to keep an eye on him, but he had already spent too much time in there. If he left a Pokemon and Maxie or Tabitha was the next person to come in, he would be in deep trouble. And if they knew he had been speaking with the boy, things would not look well for him.

    With a heavy heart, he left, closing the door behind him as he weaved his way around the crates and ascended the stairs, his mind going a mile a minute. He couldn’t do nothing; he had to get the child out of there.

    But he couldn’t. If he got the boy out, then Jirachi would be free as well, and Derek was sure that Team Magma would be Jirachi’s first target once set free. They would be done for, and Team Aqua would be free to do as they pleased.

    And all for what?

    Derek reached the medical room. Once he shut the door, he crossed his arms and leaned against the wall behind him.

    Team Aqua intended to flood the world; he knew that. Team Magma was hoping to dry up oceans and make the earth a more habitable place for people and Pokemon—these were basic facts that Derek had known since the day he joined Team Magma. His desire to make the world a better place for others is primarily what led him to join them. Team Magma’s vision was enough to take hold of Derek’s mind, weary from years of med school, and give him hope for a faster, bigger change and a brighter future for everyone. It was enough to get him to put off his dreams of becoming a high-end doctor who would spend his days literally saving peoples’ lives. Even when assisting doctors in his younger years and watching patients die on them, Derek managed to overcome the despair and continue pursuing his studies. But Team Magma would bring about something better for everyone.

    Or so he had been told. And while he could justify their feud with Team Aqua, he could see no good justification for torturing their team members. The thought of Maressa being interrogated still made his blood boil. And even though it was to keep Jirachi under control, Derek could not stomach the reality that a child was locked in a dark room for days at a time with little to eat or drink. And these weren’t the only instances—though they were the only ones Derek had personally interacted with, he remembered Tabitha telling him that other Team Aqua members and a scientist had been captured before. Derek dimly wondered what had happened to them.

    He sighed. He had originally hoped that, once the seas were dried up and Team Magma’s goal was accomplished, he could finish medical school and his residency and begin life as a doctor. But with each passing day, he grew to understand Maressa’s point of view more, and now wondered whether it was really worth being a member of Team Magma. He hoped freeing Maressa would have been the last of it; that he would never have to betray Team Magma again and could return comfortably to being a team medic. But he knew in his heart that he couldn’t—he couldn’t even promise himself that this would be the last time he would betray them. No, if Team Magma kidnapped any more civilians or innocents, he would do everything in his power to stop them.

    Derek closed his eyes and nodded. He had to set the boy free. He just had to figure out how to accomplish it. If Jirachi was to destroy Team Magma, then so be it. Opening the Pokeballs in his pockets, he smiled as Golbat, Breloom and Claydol stood before him.

    “I need your help to figure out a plan to release Tate,” he told them.

    Golbat skeptically raised an eyebrow. Releasing another prisoner? Whose side was Derek on?

    “Whose side are [i[you[/i] on?” Derek snapped. “I know this is betrayal. But I need to figure out a way to get Tate out of a tiny little room guarded by a Mightyena without anyone finding out or knowing that we were responsible.”

    Breloom scratched his head, screwing up his face in concentration. Claydol closed about half of his eyes and rumbled deeply. Golbat cast his eyes down and said no more.

    “Oh come on,” Derek said. “We have to think of something. We got Maressa out of here—” His voice caught in his throat at the end as he remembered that Maressa’s escape had turned out a failure.

    Swallowing, he pushed the thought away and continued, “I have no idea what the guard looks like at night, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they added more people or Pokemon, so I’d rather not poke around and try it then.” He thought out loud, hoping to make some sense of the situation and see a way out. “Which means it would be best to try it during the day. And I need to do it when Tabitha is busy—he’s always busy, but I’d need him far away—fat chance of that happening. And I need to not be discovered—the problem is that few people know about Tate being here, and they know that I regularly see him, so I’d be at the top of their suspect list.” He glanced up at his Pokemon and saw them all staring blankly at them. “So? Got any ideas?”

    Claydol rumbled. Derek had himself stuck in a corner.

    Breloom chirruped. He could knock out Tabitha and whoever was guarding Tate, and Derek’s path would be clear!

    “Breloom, they’ll know it was you and that would defeat the purpose!”

    Golbat let out a few squeaks. There were hundreds of Golbat on the team—if he went, it wasn’t likely that anyone would know he belonged to Derek. He could scout out the situation at night and let Derek know if it was any different.

    Derek paused. It was actually a decent idea.

    “You’ll risk getting caught?”

    Golbat rolled his eyes. He wasn’t going to “get caught;” Golbat were always hanging around—he would be nothing out of the ordinary. But even with the minimal risk, he was willing to do whatever Derek needed.

    Smiling, Derek said, “As condescending as ever. Thanks, Golbat.”

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

    Late morning the following day, Derek held a tray of food as he opened the door to reveal the dark, unlit staircase. Golbat flew down from his perch on the ceiling, quietly communicating everything that happened the previous night.

    Golbat spent the night hanging from the ceiling in the room leading to where Tate was contained. Everything was as Derek described it—the room was filled with crates, but nothing lived or breathed.

    A few hours in, the door leading outside opened. Two people and a few Houndoom walked in, down the stairs and into Tate’s room. They didn’t come out.

    Golbat stayed the entire night, silently watching and waiting, but nothing further happened. Derek nodded.

    “Thanks. Take some rest,” he said gently, and returned Golbat to his Pokeball. Placing the Pokeball in his pocket, he descended the stairs, heart pounding nervously as he pushed the door open.

    No one was inside.

    Derek paused, staring at the spot where Tate had been sitting for perhaps a full minute before it hit him. The tray clattered to the floor as Derek sprinted out and back up the stairs. How? Why? Did someone else take Tate and escape? He was the one who was supposed to do that—since when had anyone else on the team tried to free prisoners?

    He stopped outside Tabitha’s office and was about to open the door but paused. If Tate was being freed, should he bring it to Tabitha’s attention? He dismissed the thought—they took him several hours ago. They must have expected to be noticed by now.

    Derek opened the door to see Tabitha sitting at his desk, leaning back in his chair and staring off, his mind zoned out. The commander’s eyes narrowed as Derek entered.

    “I’ve specifically told you to knock before,” he said coldly.

    Ignoring his commander’s comment, Derek panted, “The kid—gone—”

    Tabitha merely nodded. “That’s not a big deal. Sorry, I was supposed to tell you earlier that you don’t need to feed him anymore, but I got distracted.”

    Derek straightened up, and after gasping for a moment, asked, “What? Why?”

    Shaking his head, Tabitha answered, “Don’t worry about it. Maxie wanted the kid moved so he’s in the same base as him now.”

    “Why wouldn’t Maxie just come here?”

    “He thinks the area is too dangerous. To be fair, we are right by the waterway just east of Mauville—it’s crowded, and any waterway that’s used by people so much is likely to contain civilian Team Aqua members.”

    “Oh.” Derek turned to leave. “Sorry about that.”

    “You’re fine. Sorry I forgot to tell you earlier and caused the panic.”

    Derek’s mind buzzed as he slowly walked back to the medical room. Now everything was all the more difficult. He wished he had asked Tabitha where, exactly, Maxie was. Team Magma had nearly a dozen bases around Hoenn—not many large ones, but it had several small outposts and look-out areas. But asking Tabitha such a question would have made him more obvious.

    As he stepped back inside the medical room, he unleashed his Pokemon from their Pokeballs. Golbat grumbled angrily and glared at him—he had just fallen asleep and wasn’t happy about being woken up. After a quick apology, Derek gave his Pokemon the rundown and asked if they had ideas.

    Claydol immediately spoke up—he could teleport himself and Golbat to the different bases and look for Maxie until they found him.

    “It’s too dangerous,” Derek said. “Golbat may be able to blend in, but you are obvious. Besides, you can only Teleport to places we’ve been to before, and we haven’t been to every base.”

    Claydol protested—he wasn’t actually out of the ordinary. Other Team Magma members had Claydol, and some had Baltoy as well. Especially if Claydol went to the bases near the desert—where his kind was found in the wild—he wouldn’t stick out at all. And while they hadn’t been to every little outpost Team Magma had, Derek had been stationed at all of the large ones and several of the smaller ones; that was certainly enough to get started with. Even if they didn’t find Maxie himself, they could surely find someone who knew where he was.

    After considering his Pokemon’s words for a moment, Derek grimaced. “I don’t know, it still seems too risky.”

    Exasperated, Breloom spoke. He was tired of all this talking; Claydol and Golbat would be fine if they went to other Team Magma bases. As far as everyone knew, Derek was still a Team Magma member! And members’ Pokemon were walking around bases all the time. If someone did recognize them as Derek’s Pokemon, what was the worst that would happen?

    Breloom looked almost pleading; Golbat and Claydol, annoyed. Still unsettled, Derek asked, “Are you sure you’re willing to do this?”

    Golbat and Claydol looked at each other—at least, Derek assumed so, as Claydol’s eyes were looking in all directions. They both nodded, Golbat stretched out a wing, and as soon as it made contact with the Ground-type, the two vanished.

    Derek’s heart skipped a beat as the two disappeared, but there was nothing he could do about it now. Heaving a sigh, he turned to Breloom and saw that the Grass-type looked upset.

    “What’s up with you?”

    The Pokemon swished his tail slowly. He felt left out—Golbat was able to keep watch, and now he was exploring bases with Claydol to find out where Tate was kept. It was as if he, Breloom, had no purpose in all this.

    Derek laughed. “You know that’s not true. You were the one who told me all about seeing Tate and Jirachi! You’ve been so helpful in medicine and caring for patients with me, and you’ve been great in battles. From what I heard, you beat Maressa’s Seaking—come to think of it, you’re one of the main reasons she came here, and what got all of this started…”

    He trailed off, thinking of the golden-haired woman lying on the bed right next to the door when they were in Team Magma’s sea base, and of the conversations they had. His mind shifted to hearing that she had fallen in the water when trying to escape—closing his eyes, he pushed the thoughts away. He knew he couldn’t fix the past, but it was difficult to not dwell on it.

    Opening his eyes, he saw Breloom looking up at him curiously. Smiling, Derek reached down and patted the mushroom-domed head. “You’ve done a lot,” he affirmed. “Besides, it’s nice to have you here for company while we wait for those two.”

    Derek sat down on a bed, and Breloom hopped up and snuggled up next to him. Stroking Breloom, Derek tried to keep away the antsiness—but didn’t have to wait long. After perhaps 30 minutes, the two Pokemon reappeared in the room, Claydol looking annoyed and Golbat looking smug.

    Golbat let out a few quick squeaks. Maxie was in the underground base in Mt. Chimney—apparently the team was working on some sort of excavation project. Some Poochyena told them that the storage unit on the lowest level was off-units for all team members unless told otherwise; it was most likely that Tate was down there. Golbat checked and saw two team members standing guard at the entrance to the storage unit and a few video cameras in the hallway leading to it.

    The Poison-type had even planned out how to go about their rescue mission: he could use Haze to fog up the cameras and guard room. Then he and Claydol could take out the guards, get into Tate’s room, and set the boy free.

    Derek stared in astonishment. “You found all that out? Those Poochyena—they just told you? And those team members didn’t stop you? And this plan—are you sure?”

    Clenching his eyes in frustration, Golbat squeaked angrily. Pokemon on the team were always gossiping and spreading news, and Pokemon went about bases all the time. It wasn’t anything worth raising suspicion about. How many times would they have to tell him?

    Derek nodded. “You’re right, sorry about that.” It wasn’t that he forgot the Pokemon were free-willed, he just didn’t think about it. Maybe none of the other team members thought about it either, and so no one suspected any Pokemon of treason. The thought struck Derek for a moment; for a team that claimed to be so Pokemon-oriented, the members often forgot about them.

    He snapped up as Claydol rumbled. If they were going to go with their plan, they wouldn’t really need Derek.

    The medic shook his head. “You forgot one thing—I bet that some Dark-types are guarding Tate; probably those Houndoom from this morning. And besides, I’m the one who decided this—I won’t have you guys do it all for me. I’ll go with, just give me a moment to change. Breloom, I’m going to need your help in a second.”

    Derek went to his bedroom and pulled a Team Magma uniform out of his closet. As a medic, he normally just wore scrubs or a lab coat, but he was issued an official uniform when he first joined the team. Along with the grey pants and red hoodie, the uniform came with a pair of large red glasses that covered the upper part of his face and provided night vision—he wasn’t sure they would help in smog, but they could at least hide his identity in case he walked into other team members. After Derek put on the uniform and stowed the glasses in his pants pocket, he walked out to his Pokemon.

    “Breloom, I need you to use Spore so I can collect it in my gloves.”

    The Grass-type asked no questions, but rather concentrated and shook his tail lightly so a cloud of green spores emanated from it. Derek took hold of the end of Breloom’s tail, rubbing the spores into the thick grey fabric. Once Breloom ceased, Derek stood up, rubbing his hands together and pulling his hood on.

    “I’m ready. Just remind me to not rub my face.”

    Derek waved goodbye to a very put-out Breloom, placed a hand on Claydol and vanished.

    A split second later, he reappeared in a familiar hallway made of carved-out rock. He was stationed at this base for a few short weeks when Team Magma was first settling there and were fighting off several travelers and trainers. Many of their Pokemon were injured from the fighting, and so he was needed to care for and heal the wounded until they dug farther in and hid more easily.

    Derek followed his Pokemon down the earthen hallway, sweat breaking out on his face almost immediately. His heart thumped madly in his chest, and he was constantly on the verge of calling it quits and heading back. He also wasn’t accustomed to wearing the standard uniform and how much thicker and warmer it was than his scrubs. The air within the base was stifling; the volcano heat it from within, and around many corners, pools of bubbling lava lay at the bottom of pits and crevices.

    They met nobody in the halls, fortunately—with Derek’s paranoia, he bet he had a guilty look on his face and doubted he would be able to calmly answer any questions.

    As they reached a descending staircase, Golbat bade them to stop. He turned his scarlet eyes on his companions and squeaked. Once he fogged up the cameras, they would hardly have any time to get everything done before guards noticed and detained them, so they would have to move quickly. Claydol groaned in affirmation, and Derek swallowed uneasily and nodded.

    Turning back to the stairwell, Golbat belched out a stream of thick, black smoke and began flapping his wings to direct it down the stairs. Claydol flew down the stairwell, and, putting on his glasses, Derek followed. He could see nothing, and so kept on hand on the wall to guide him as he jogged down the stairs and through the smoke.

    Some people in front of him were shouting—the wall beside him vanished, and he entered through a door. He heard banging and crashing—he kept moving forward, bumping into crates and what felt like large machinery. Something large bumped into him—he realized it was Claydol, guiding him forward. Stretching out his arms, he let Claydol push him until he hit a wall. Claydol’s weight vanished, and Derek moved along the wall until he felt a doorframe. He found the door handle and jiggled it—it was locked.

    Frustrated, Derek jiggled the handle harder and kicked the door. The crashing and banging behind him had ceased, but the smog was as dense as ever. He heard a faint squeaking and a groan, and had just enough sense to duck as Claydol hurtled over him and into the door, breaking it off its hinges.

    Derek ran inside, and Golbat glided in after him. He was just able to make out two Houndoom, their blood-red eyes filled with rage, before the room filled with thick black smoke. Something large rammed into Derek and knocked him into the ground—he felt it sink a pair of massive jaws into the thick fabric of his hoodie and jerk its head side-to-side. Dererk gripped the Houndoom’s snout, trying to pry its jaws open while pressing his gloves against the beast’s nose. In a moment, the jerking ceased, and Derek felt its jaws relax and the fullness of its weight slump on top of him.

    Pushing the Houndoom off, Derek stood up. The smog was beginning to clear—Golbat was squeaking loudly and angrily while deep, earthen rumbles reverberated from Claydol. There was a loud thump! and as the air cleared, Derek saw Claydol pinning an unconscious Houndoom into the ground—which, in turn, was pinning down Golbat, whose wings he could see flapping frantically.

    Cursing, Derek ordered Claydol off the Houndoom and rolled the Dark-type over to see Golbat with his fangs sunk into the Houndoom’s hide. Derek recalled Golbat into his Pokeball and turned to see Tate sitting on the floor, his white face echoing the shock and fear Derek felt in his heart.

    “We gotta go,” Derek said as he heard shouts and footfalls behind him. Taking hold of the boy’s arm, he put another hand on Claydol and the trio left the base.

    Derek stumbled slightly as he blinked in the sunlight that filtered through the trees. Looking up, he saw that they stood in the middle of an evergreen forest. Shrubs dotted the landscape, and the soil had a sandy quality to it. The songs of bird-Pokemon filtered through the air as Pokemon of different shapes and colors glided through the air above. Derek took a deep breath, inhaling the dry, earthy taste of pine. He had forgotten how long it had been since he tasted fresh air.

    Turning back to his companions, he asked them both, “Are you all right?”

    Claydol rumbled—he had a nasty bite mark on his arm, but otherwise was mostly all right. The boy didn’t reply but looked at the world around him, still in shock.

    Placing a gentle hand on the boy’s shoulder, Derek bent down and asked, “Hey, are you okay?”

    The boy finally turned his large, dark eyes on Derek, and as he did so, the medic felt a peculiar, unfamiliar presence in his mind. Derek smiled as he realized that Tate was able to use his psychic powers to examine the minds of those around him again.

    “Seems like you’re adjusting back to normal, huh?” he chuckled. Turning to Claydol, he seriously asked, “Where are we? You and I really need to get back—all of the bases will be in uproar, and I can’t be found dressed like this out in the open.”

    Claydol groaned; they were in a forest just northwest of Mauville City. It was close to the desert on Route 111 were Claydol primarily lived as a Baltoy, and he had ventured out into this forest occasionally.

    “Interesting. Anyway, Tate, can you find your way back to the city? You just need to head southeast, so in that”— he pointed with his finger—“general direction. I can’t go with you, you need to go on your own. Think you’ll be okay?”

    The boy blinked several times and nodded.

    “Okay, good. And you can’t let anyone know that a Team Magma member helped you. Understand?”

    “Okay.”

    Even though he was happy to hear the kid finally speak, Derek had Tate repeat to him several times that he had escaped on his own, and that nobody from Team Magma ever tried to help him. The medic still wasn’t satisfied, but knew he had to get going.

    “Good luck,” he told Tate, and putting his hand on Claydol, saw the boy’s frightened, confused face disappear to be replaced by Breloom’s surprised, overjoyed one.

    The Grass-type pounced on Derek, hugging him so hard he thought his ribs might break.

    “Let go, let go!” he said, but still smiled at his Pokemon as he wrenched his arms off him. “How were things here?”

    Breloom chirruped—nothing had happened as far as he could tell. How was their mission?

    Sitting down on the bed, Derek turned his mind back to the events that just occurred, and his heart began pounding hard again. He breathed deeply as he closed his eyes and nodded.

    “I think it all went okay. Golbat might be a bit hurt and Claydol has a nasty bite mark, but otherwise, I think we’re fine.”

    He sat there for a moment while Breloom launched into how worried he had been—but that he still had total confidence in their abilities. Half-listening, Derek waited for his heartbeat to return to normal. Once it did, he got up and re-dressed into his scrubs, his mind turning over what had just happened and what was about to happen.

    He felt bad for leaving Tate, but escorting the boy to a city wouldn’t have done much help—and it would put his Pokemon in danger. No, especially after seeing Maressa and her situation, he didn’t want his Pokemon in any peril, and he didn’t want to be separated from them. The boy was probably fine; unless he ran into another Team Magma member, whoever would find him would likely recognize him and return him to civilization.

    Derek desperately pushed the thought of being found out away—considering those consequences was gut-wrenching.

    Another big thing that made Derek uneasy was that Team Magma no longer had any control over Jirachi—and he was willing to bet that the small creature would come after them with a vengeance. He had never seen or experienced the Pokemon’s power, and wasn’t too keen on doing so.

    But there was nothing to do about it now, he told himself as he inspected Claydol’s wound. Tomorrow would come, and he would have to face whatever it brought.
     
  20. I didn’t expect this chapter to be a Derek chapter considering what happened in Chapter 15, but it was a nice continuation nonetheless! I also think this is the first one in a while where you dedicate the whole chapter to one arc, which was pretty good!

    I also thought this did a lot in developing Derek’s character, in that he’s steadily becoming the Maressa on the other side. I particularly liked the exposition you revealed here about him joining Team Magma because they promised a more immediate change. Pitching it like that made it understandable how they were able to recruit quite a lot of people into their cause. But seeing all that crumble for Derek made for some interesting revelations for him.

    And while it was rather minor, I really liked how you included that little heart-to-heart he had with Breloom. It highlights his sincerity in caring for anyone and everyone he meets, and it makes his actions that much nobler. His interactions with his Pokemon overall were pretty enjoyable to read, but I felt like this one was the strongest in terms of conveying his character.

    I was just a bit surprised that Derek’s Pokemon was so quickly on-board with his plan even if Golbat brought up that doubt, but I’m reminded of Maressa’s Pokemon doing pretty much the same thing in earlier chapters, so it’s a nice parallel. Not much else to say other than this is yet another awesome chapter, and I’m really excited to see how this new development shakes things up! :)
     

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