1. We have moved to a new forum system. All your posts and data should have transferred over. Welcome, to the new Serebii Forums. Details here
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Be sure to join the discussion on our discord at: Discord.gg/serebii
    Dismiss Notice
  3. If you're still waiting for the e-mail, be sure to check your junk/spam e-mail folders
    Dismiss Notice

Drowning

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

  1. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Aaaa, I totally missed that you posted the chapter in the middle of all the Yuletide fic stuff! Congrats on your fourth anniversary and also having something to post on your fourth anniversary, heh. It seems crazy to me that this story's been around so long, for some reason I thought it had only been two years or so.

    This sentence is a little weird, because when you have the "Leaping up with a snarl" tacked onto the front there it means the Mightyena is simultaneously leaping up and calming down. Maybe something like, "It leapt up with a snarl, but immediately calmed down when..."

    This is a really cool way to show how Tate's psychic powers work, as well as how devastating it is for him to lose them. You don't often think about how habitual being able to sense other people's thoughts would be if it's just an ability you had since you were born, and therefore how scary it would be for other people to fall silent...

    Overall I really like this scene. Tate reads like such a sad, scared little kid, and you really get a feel for how hard this is on Derek.

    Small tense shift here, should be "was primarily."

    It's interesting that Derek kind of comes to the same conclusion as Maressa here, but has almost the opposite idea about how to go about carrying things out. Maressa decides she needs to leave Team Aqua, while Derek is apparently planning to stay, but thwart the team where he thinks it's doing wrong... sort of becoming a double agent!

    Little coding goof here.

    Kinda surprised he forgot. It must be weighing on him.

    I'm also kinda surprised that Derek didn't pick up on the implication here that they'd teleported out of the room. I imagine he'd still freak out a bit about that, because obviously he doesn't know where they're moving Tate or if they're doing it because they plan to do something worse to him or whatever, but I wouldn't think finding Tate gone would be such a surprise, given this information.

    Yeah, I think he's been distracted a lot, lately...

    I like this little revelation here. Rather true of fanfic as well; there's a lot of pokéfic out there that more or less forgets pokémon exist unless there's need for a battle somewhere.

    On which note, I think it's cool that in this chapter it's actually the pokémon who more or less come up with the whole plan to save Tate, and they handle virtually all of the execution, too. It's Derek's idea originally, but he ends up kind of just going along for the ride. Love how you've put an emphasis on the pokémon characters throughout the story, and this is another good example of it.

    *heated it from within

    Also, they've literally built over pools of actual magma? Oh, Team Magma...

    It would be great to see a little more of a reaction from Derek here. Like, the houndoom nearly bit down *on his head* right there--surely that's a little unnerving? But the way the events are related now is pretty calm and critical, and we don't really get a sense for what Derek feels during the little scuffle.

    *here Claydol primarily lived, and you probably want to make it "where Claydol had primarily lived," matching "had ventured" later in the sentence

    Moving the plot along in this chapter! I look forward to seeing what happens with Jirachi--like Derek thinks, I imagine it's not going to be good for Team Magma, one way or another. Are we going to see some legedaries cuttig loose in this 'fic? Sounds like it could be a lot of fun... still not sure whether Kyogre or Groudon's going to end up getting woken up, but Jirachi, at least, seems primed for a little rampage.

    Congrats again on four years! Looking forward to seeing where the 'fic goes in the next year... maybe to the end? I feel like it has to be gettig close!
     
  2. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner Peace to the Mountain

    Chapter 13:

    You know, somehow it never occurred to me that lunatone might have a beak. I don't know what the heck I thought it was, honestly, but now looking at it that's all I can see. That's absolutely a beak. Today I learned a thing.

    I love Tabitha. And now here I am wondering if Jirachi actually could go that or if Groudon, in some unconscious way (possibly just by existing) would override it (like "nuh, the land is mine; you don't get to play with it!"). I wonder if only Kyogre has the ability to eff with the land/sea ratio in spite of Groudon's wishes (while Groudon is dormant, anyhow).

    Also I'm amused by how insistent Maxie is on Groudon, and what sort of insistent. Maxie you are such a Groudon fanboy and that's adorable.

    Chapter 14:

    Oh, Phoebe. Phoebe, Phoebe, Phoebe. You and Liza both, but especialy you since you're the one who formally agreed to it. Giving these guys orbs is an apocalypse in the making--and I'm pretty sure you know that. It's believable, though, what happened there. Grief can do a lot to a person, including impairing their judgment.

    Makes sense, given he's a fighting-type.

    Chapter 15:

    Fake orbs! Maybe Phoebe and Liza weren't as compromised by grief as I'd thought. Or maybe they were, just in a different way. I wonder if they'd have had less faith in the fake orbs plan otherwise.

    Hell of a nightmare. I wonder if Courtney's right about being something more than that.

    Chapter 16:

    I can't help but suspect Golbat's just tempted the heck out of fate.

    Magma uniforms will probably always baffle the frick out of me. Hoodies + messing around with actual fricking lava just sounds like heatstroke waiting to happen. At the very least. :p
     
  3. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    Welcome back! Glad to see another chapter. ^_^

    Nice spin on the grunt teams all basically having the same 'mons, lmao. That really, really works to Derek's advantage here, and it's amusing how they thought of the idea instead of him. Who's the real trainer, here? ;)

    I didn't have a lot of notes as I was reading, actually... Tate's emotions shine through well here, as well as all the confliction about whether or not to keep him imprisoned. He's just a child, and it's clear everyone involved at least has some kind of conscious about keeping him trapped, even if his imprisonment seems important in the grand scheme of things. I did think the breakout was a tad rushed, the main thing keeping it from feeling TOO rushed being that he was moved to another base location and having to find him, but yeah, with the 'mons finding Tate instead of Derek himself, it felt a tad lacking.

    At any rate, there's a lot of potential directions the plot could go in with Tate being released now. Derek made Tate promise him not to tell anyone a Team Magma member helped him escape, but something tells me that that's not how things are going to pan out in the end. Or at least, Tate's release is going to cause a whole lot of trouble in the near future.

    Looking forward to more!
     
  4. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    Wow, long time, no see! I'm sorry that I hadn't been writing more; I definitely wish I had gotten around to it sooner. I haven't been in the best emotional sorts for the past year or so and it's been hard to find motivation to do much. And the forums have changed! I'm an old lady when it comes to technology (flip-phones are better than smart phones, you can't change my mind) so please bear with me while I try to get this stuff figured out lol.

    Replies!
    Dramatic Melody

    Aw thanks ^_^ I think of Derek as the overall "nicest" character, and I wanted to show that through, especially with his Pokemon. And I always thought of the Pokemon quickly being on-board with their trainers as a way to show that they're loyal to their trainers, regardless of whether it's betraying the actual team. Thanks so much for the review and support! I always love hearing from you :)

    Negrek
    It definitely feels more than two years to me :p But thank you!

    Yep! I didn't even think of things that way initially, but having the two betray their respective teams in their own ways was planned from the start :)


    Yeah... I'm not too pleased with how I've handled characters reacting and dealing with things emotionally. Overall, looking at Drowning over the years, there are a lot of things I wished I had done differently. And learning how to stay consistent with emotions is one thing I definitely need work on lol

    Fair point. I imagined that the overall apprehension and nervousness would block out or impeded a lot of logical thinking, but you bring up a good point.

    He's got a lot going on lol :)

    Thank you so much! I worry a lot that I might put too much emphasis on the humans and not enough on the Pokemon, so hearing this makes me happy and relieved :)

    According to the game sprites, yes! :p

    Ahaaaa I didn't even know how to go into that so I just portrayed it as objectively as I could. But now that I think about it, his thought process would probs be along the lines of "Holy crap holy crap holy crap aaaaahhhhh holy crap holy crap". Maybe I should re-write that part lol.

    Oooh you'll see >:) And thanks again so much for the review--for ALL of the reviews! Like I've said before, you're the reviewer who has helped me the most along my writing path, and I really do owe you a lot of gratitude. And we'll see ;_; I'm trying to keep plowing along!

    Sike Saner

    You learn something new every day, and I'm honored to have been the source for that day.

    Groudon fanboy doesn't even begin to describe Maxie's worship.

    Mhm. And grief will just about totally destroy hers.

    Ehhhh I'll let you be the judge of that when I put up the next chapter.

    I mean, there's a reason Derek knows he can't get in to too much trouble on Team Magma, being a medic and all :p

    diamondpearl876
    Thanks! Sorry the interim was so long ;_;

    lol. Funny story in that originally, Derek was meant to be a totally ordinary grunt with grunt Pokemon--just Golbat and Mightyena. He ended up evolving into his own character during the planning stages though, and I wanted to flesh out Tabitha a lot more and I liked him with his Mightyena, so I decided that Derek could get other 'mons. But yeah, Derek's Pokemon definitely did the most orchestrating in this chapter :)

    Thanks for the note! I struggle with dwelling on parts for too long and rushing them by too quickly, so I'm still working on trying to find some sort of middle ground. I'll keep trying!

    We'll see :) Thanks again so much for the review!

    So, the next chapter is written, and I'll *hopefully* have it out in the next day or so. I just want to touch it up (but for me that can take forever because I hate releasing something whenever I feel like it's less than perfect, but it always because that's real life lol) but more material is coming soon and I do have the rest of the fic planned out. Thanks so much to everyone who has stuck with me through this! :)
     
    diamondpearl876 likes this.
  5. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    All right, here's chapter 17! I feel like my grammar in this chapter is really off overall... Apologies if it turns out that way. Please let me know whatever I slipped up on. Thanks, and I hope you enjoy!

    Chapter 17

    Mist swirled up towards the treetops as the early morning sun ascended into the sky. The dark, broad leaves of trees dripped with water. The moist ground squelched underfoot as Phoebe walked through the wet grass, trudging her way up the mountainside. With every step she took higher, her heart sunk lower in her chest.

    She tried to come and see her grandparents frequently, but no matter how much she came, it never felt often enough. She was busy almost all the time with trainer matches and Elite Four meetings—and now that the Elite Four matches had temporarily stopped, she should theoretically have less work to do. But all of the members were supposed to be searching for Tate and Team Magma around the clock, and she hadn’t told anyone of her and Liza’s secret deal with Team Aqua…

    The guilt built up to where Phoebe was tempted multiple times to turn around and give up. It was the first time seeing her grandparents all month, but she wasn’t going to check up on them. She might not even talk to them. No, she had to talk to them—they at least had to know what she was going to do. Maybe she could even convince them to give her the Orbs—but she immediately scratched that idea. She knew that nothing, not even a request from one of their few living grandchildren, would convince them to do that.

    Squelch, squelch, squelch…

    She knew she could just send out one of her Pokemon and have them swiftly fly her up to the mountaintop, as she had always done so before. But somehow, that seemed even more wrong. Trudging up through the forest and thickening fog seemed to fit her mood more; besides, she wasn’t in a ready mindset to meet her grandparents quite yet…

    The forest around her rustled as Vulpixes darted back and forth, and Ghost-types flitted through the trees, little more than moving shadows. All of these had ceased to bother Phoebe years ago. In fact, she couldn’t remember ever being afraid of Ghost-type Pokemon.

    The dirt path gave way to a stone stairway. The steps were a dark grey, with moss creeping through the cracks and eating away at the crumbling corners.

    Okay, Phoebe told herself as she closed her eyes, taking deep, slow breaths. Explain the situation, say what you want, and if they refuse to give them, then take them. Opening her eyes, she made her way up the stairs, her heart pounding heavily. Physically taking the Orbs would be easy, but she knew that it would weigh heavily on her conscience for a long time—possibly the rest of her life.

    Was there another way? She had already handed over her Banette to Team Aqua—she needed to get him back. Even if Tate showed up before then, they had her Pokemon. She briefly considered telling other members of the Elite Four about this, but she realized—with guilt—that making a deal with Team Aqua was something she shouldn’t have done in the first place. No, it would be better to try and cover up her mistake on her own. Things would work out. They would get Tate and Banette back, and she could re-take the Orbs. She was stronger than Team Aqua—wasn’t she? If it came to a Pokemon battle, her Dusclops and Liza’s Lunatone could easily take whatever criminal Pokemon they had.

    She slowly ascended the stairs. They had always seemed to go by fairly quickly when she flew up with her Pokemon, and even though she was going on foot this time, it still went by much faster than she liked. She paused right as she reached the top of the stairs, glancing up at the large alabaster rocks that formed an archway. The fog had thinned out and she could now see several feet in every direction. Her stomach churned uneasily; she felt as though she might throw up. Resisting the urge, she steeled herself and walked forward.

    All too soon, two elderly people came into view. Their dark eyes were bright, and the corners of their mouths were lifted in cheerful smiles. A walking staff with odd stones embedded in the gnarled wood stood near the man’s chair. Both of them had white hair, and the woman’s hands were shaking. They had started constantly shaking a few months ago, and Phoebe’s family suggested that she come down from the mountain and see a doctor, but her grandmother dismissed the idea. Phoebe wondered if her mother had ever set up that appointment for the doctor to come check on her grandmother…

    Phoebe set her eyes on her grandparents and gave them a soft smile as she came closer. She could see the Orbs out of her peripheral vision, and was using all of her willpower to avoid looking at them directly. They would be where they always were, sitting on a podium right in-between and slightly behind her grandparents. She had barely given them thought before, but now they were all that mattered.

    “Is that Phoebe?” her grandfather asked as she came up to him. He rose to give her a gentle hug, his smile showcasing a few missing teeth. “We haven’t seen you in weeks! Been busy as ever, I suppose?”

    Phoebe couldn’t help smiling as she returned her grandfather’s hug and held her grandmother’s shaking hands. She could allow herself a few moments of happiness with them.

    “Is it true that the League has been shut down?” her grandmother asked.

    “How did you know?”

    “Chimecho told us.”

    The Elite Four member looked up to see a Psychic-type above them, the yellow suction cup on its head keeping it plastered to a tree branch. Their Chimecho would often go out into the world, collect news and bring it back to them to keep them more up-to-date on the goings-on in the outside world when their children and grandchildren weren’t around.

    “What for?” her grandfather asked. “I’ve never heard of this happening before.”

    “You seem very troubled, child,” her grandmother put in. “What is it?” Phoebe’s eyes were downcast. Her grandmother had psychic powers; if she wanted to, she could read Phoebe’s mind. But she wouldn’t do that—she never had.

    And she didn’t have to.

    Eyes still down, Phoebe explained, “It’s because one of the Gym Leaders—Tate from Mossdeep City—has been kidnapped. We’re pretty sure it was Team Magma. And so his sister, Liza, and I made a pact with Team Aqua for them to get Tate back.”

    Her grandparents sat in shocked silence for a moment. “Why would they want that boy?” her grandmother asked.

    “Because he was the one Jirachi ‘chose’—or something. We think it’s that they want Jirachi’s power, so they kidnapped him. Maybe to use him to control Jirachi. We’ve been having a lot of problems since it’s all happened. Police headquarters around the region have been destroyed, along with all of their computers and security information. A lot of data that hasn’t been backed up has been lost. Some people have been lost, too,” she finished quietly.

    Her grandparents sat there in stunned silence, their mouths slightly agape. “This is terrible,” her grandfather muttered as his eyes lowered. “Not only kidnapping a child, but destroying buildings and ending lives. And for what purpose?”

    “Maybe so people will be more concerned with their own safety than with trying to hunt down Team Magma. Just hoping that they aren’t victims of its next attack. And that poor boy’s family,” her grandmother’s face creased with pain and sorrow. “They must be worried sick, absolutely terrified! And the boy himself—I can’t imagine.”

    “Yeah,” Phoebe murmured. “That’s why we need to get Tate out as soon as possible, to put a stop to all of this.”

    “Phoebe,” her grandfather said slowly, “you said you made a pact with Team Aqua. What pact was this, exactly?”

    “Before you go any further,” her grandmother said, “why did you trust Team Aqua in the first place? From what anyone knows, they’re no better than Team Magma.”

    “Because they’re similar to each other,” Phoebe said. “Teams Aqua and Magma know each other better than any outsider does—if anyone is able to free Tate, wouldn’t Team Aqua know how to do it best? And wouldn’t they want to do it just as much as we would?”

    “But you need to think about these people, and where they come from and what they value. No matter what they may claim to be, they’re a criminal organization. They attack innocent people and have destroyed public property, all for the sake of getting what they want. And I find it very difficult to believe that they would help you get Tate back just because it’s a shared goal between you two.”

    “They’ve given me—given me custody of one of their Pokemon as insurance that they’ll keep their word.” So saying, she held up Crawdaunt’s Pokeball.

    Her grandfather’s eyebrows furrowed. “They’ve agreed to free your friend, and they’ve lent you one of their Pokemon…”

    “Because I let them have Banette as insurance that I would keep my word,” she said haltingly, looking her grandfather in her eye. Guilt and fear were gnawing their ways into her heart, as she dreaded their next question.

    “And what was it that you promised them?” her grandmother asked. But Phoebe felt as if she already knew.

    “I promised to give them the Red and Blue Orbs in exchange for Tate.”

    Her grandparents gazed at her critically for a second—not accusingly, not angrily, not even confused. It just seemed as though they were trying to decide how to best voice their thoughts.

    “Those aren’t yours to give,” her grandfather said.

    “It was the only thing they would accept.” Fear and worry had overtaken her now, and she was struggling to keep it together, to keep from crying.

    “Phoebe,” her grandmother said gently. And Phoebe couldn’t keep the tears from her eyes as her grandmother’s gentle gaze met her. “I know you had the best intentions. But these are matters that you’ve never dealt with before, and you’ve made a promise you had no right to. Giving them the Orbs won’t do anyone any good.”

    “But—but they’ll give Tate back—” her voice began to break as tears trailed down her cheeks.

    But her grandmother shook her head. “And what then? They’ll give him back, and then use the Orbs to unleash complete chaos. You will be helping no one.”

    “But—I—I—I—I have to,” Phoebe sobbed. “After—after Tara—I can’t put her through it, too…”

    “Phoebe,” her grandfather said, “I know you empathize with Liza, and that makes this all harder. But you can’t let that get in the way—if Team Aqua has the Orbs, they’ll kill everyone.”

    Phoebe’s eyes were shut tight, sobs wracking her chest. Through her closed eyelids, she could make out a burst of white light and heard the groan of her Dusclops.

    “Phoebe.”

    She looked up to see her grandmother’s dark brown eyes. Not a trace of fear, or even anger. But what she saw was almost worse; it made her heart drop, it melted away all resolve, and put Phoebe into a deeper shame than she had ever felt. It was disappointment.

    Never in her life—not when she had failed to win a Pokemon battle for the nineteenth time in a row, not when her parents told her she was mistreating her Pokemon, not even when she had failed to watch her little brother and her parents found him riding his tricycle in the street while she was watching TV—had she known such disappointment. And they weren’t disappointed in what she had already done; it was in what she was about to do. She was on the verge of calling her Dusclops off when her grandparents’ eyes fell shut.

    She fell to her knees, crying softly for a moment. She could barely believe what she was doing. She would have been content to stay there, but a groan from Dusclops urged her to her feet. Walking over to the pedestal, she looked at where the Orbs sat, gleaming dully. Reaching into the bag slung around her shoulder, she took out a cloth and carefully picked the Orbs up—she didn’t dare touch them with her bare hands.

    Once the Orbs were secure, Dusclops picked her up and soared down the steps towards the base of Mt. Pyre. Phoebe glanced at the sleeping figures of her grandparents as well as the little Chimecho that had fallen near them. It seemed that Dusclops had hypnotized their Pokemon as well. Heart wracked with guilt, Phoebe whispered, “I’m sorry,” before turning her face away from the sight.

    As they descended the mountain, she couldn’t help but think about how her grandparents didn’t even try to stop her. Her grandmother wielded enormous psychic power, and Phoebe knew that she could easily have put her to sleep or much more. Perhaps she couldn’t, and that she had faced the same struggle that Phoebe was facing: when it came to family, they couldn’t do anything against each other. And maybe her grandmother wasn’t just disappointed in Phoebe; maybe she was disappointed in herself for not being able to do what she knew was right, for not being able to stand against family. Were it not for Dusclops, Phoebe would not have been able to take the Orbs from her grandparents.

    Phoebe glanced down at her bag, then set her face forward. Soon they reached the sea, and the salty wind dried the tears on her cheeks. She would work something out—Team Aqua wouldn’t have the Orbs so easily, or for so long. But now she had to get back Tate and Banette.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The ground passed beneath Maressa rapidly as the Pelipper she rode on took her over the dark rainforest. Maressa looked uneasily up at the sky; it was overcast, with random streaks of lightning bursting across it. It had only been a few days since Jirachi had attacked the same route—their ruined base was nothing more than a dark crater that stretched deep into the ground. Turning her attention forward, she saw Matt astride another Pelipper, his gaze set forward, inattentive to his surroundings.

    Maressa gasped sharply and dug her fingers into Pelipper’s skin as a gust of wind battered them. Pelipper squawked as he flapped his wings hectically, desperate to remain airborne. Maressa noticed Matt’s Pelipper also struggling to stay aloft. They didn’t have far to go, though—the place where they met with Phoebe and Liza was just ahead.

    “Come on,” Maressa encouraged Pelipper. She herself was having a hard time too, though—her outfit was not designed for any sort of cold, and goosebumps were racing up her arm. She clung to Pelipper as tightly as she could, though the strength of the wind threatened to throw her off any second.

    “Pelipper, don’t give up!” she pleaded. As Pelipper jerked around, Maressa’s body slipped sideways, and she was only just clinging to him. Pelipper shrieked as the human pulled at his feathers and skin, and jerked around even more erratically—and then the wind stopped.

    After a moment, Pelipper righted himself and Maressa was able to pull herself all the way back on, resuming their smooth gliding. Maressa’s grip was as tight as ever, though—she gasped as her heart raced, trying to comprehend why the wind had picked up and died down so rapidly.

    As Maressa pondered it, the two Pelippers alighted on the rocky edge of the hidden hole in the wall. Maressa and Matt took Pokeballs out of their belt and—after thanking the Pokemon—recalled them. Pushing aside the overhanging ferns, Maressa gazed out at the environment, her heart sinking. The wind was coming and going in erratic bursts; streaks of lightning flew down from the sky, leaving sizzling holes in the ground; the waterfall roared and the river ran more strongly than ever, shaving off the edges of the banks. What was happening?

    “Matt,” Maressa half-shouted to be heard over the waterfall, “I really don’t feel good about this. Should we be here?”

    “The Orbs aren’t coming to Team Aqua on their own,” he snapped.

    “They’re not even going to come! Nobody would come out in weather like this!”

    “People who are desperate to save their siblings and Pokemon will!”

    Maressa glanced at the Pokeballs on her belt and conceded. Maressa released Golduck from his Pokeball as Matt released a Crawdaunt, and the four of them stood and waited. Before too long, the Elite Four member and Gym Leader showed up, both looking shaken.

    “What’s happening outside?” Liza asked, shivering next to her Lunatone.

    “Hell if I know,” Matt answered as he took out a Pokeball. “Do you have the Orbs this time?”

    As her Dusclops set her down, Phoebe said nothing, but lifted up a cloth sack. A chill shot down Maressa’s spine as she beheld Phoebe’s dark brown eyes glaring at Matt with loathing and remorse.

    Matt was completely unimpressed. “Are those fakes again? You know what will happen if they—“

    “Yes, I know!” Phoebe snapped. “They’re real.” So saying, she held the Orbs through the cloth and jostled it so she could show them without touching them directly. They sat in her hands, shining dully in what dim light filtered through from outside. Even though they appeared as mere objects, Maressa could sense some shift in the atmosphere. She glanced down at Golduck—he noticed it too, and was staring at the Orbs uncertainly.

    The lights reflected the greed and hunger in Matt’s eyes. He nodded. “Give me those, and you get your Banette back.”

    “No. We agreed that you give us Tate in exchange for these Orbs. Where is he?”

    Matt frowned. “I can’t promise him to you yet, but if you don’t give me those Orbs, then you’re not seeing him again.”

    The two stared evenly at each other. After a minute, Phoebe merely said, “Let’s go, Liza. We’re wasting our time.”

    “What?” Matt shouted. “But we made a deal—“

    “No Tate, no deal,” Phoebe said swiftly. “As long as he’s with Team Magma, you don’t get the Orbs.”

    “He’s not with Team Magma anymore. Our spies told us that he recently disappeared. No one knows where or how, but Team Magma is freaking out over it.”

    The three girls stared at the Aqua commander. Phoebe was confused and skeptical, but also looked like she was trying to hide relief and hope. Liza was ecstatic, her face lit in a huge grin. Maressa was shocked—she had no idea that Tate had escaped, or that Team Aqua even had spies in the Team Magma bases. Was Matt just lying? She couldn’t tell.

    “He’s free?” Liza asked, bouncing in place with joy. “Phoebe, Tate is free! Let’s go look for him!”

    “Not until you give us the Orbs and my Crawdaunt. We upheld our end of the deal, now you uphold yours. Or you can say goodbye to your Banette.”

    Phoebe glared at Matt. “No, you didn’t. You said you would bring Tate to us. Maybe he is free—or maybe you’re lying—but you didn’t free him and you didn’t bring him to us.”

    Lightning flashed outside, lighting up the anger on Matt’s face. Maressa shivered when she saw his expression.

    Matt held up Banette’s Pokeball. “Do you remember—“

    Outside, the sky split open—lightning flashed so brightly that, even from their spot in the cave, it temporarily blinded everyone. The crack of thunder deafened their ears as the cave around them crumbled away. Maressa screamed and clung to Golduck as the ground beneath her gave way, leaving her tumbling through an avalanche of rock and dirt.

    Clinging desperately to her companion, it was only a couple seconds before they ceased moving. The duo lay under the dirt—Maressa could see nothing, only feel the weight of debris pressing down on her. She gasped for a few seconds before a burst of purple light exploded her vision.

    Golduck’s psybeam attack flew through the layers of debris and into the sky, leaving behind a neat hole. He and Maressa scrambled out of there as quickly as they could, both breathing heavily. After Maressa pulled herself out of the dirt, she looked at herself and Golduck: both had a number of scratches and bruises on them, but neither was badly hurt. They hadn’t been far above the ground, and ended up sliding down the debris more than falling. Maressa looked around her; cliff faces all around them were crumbling away into the roaring river—the very bank she was on was being swept away into the current. Just what was going on?

    Maressa looked over to see Phoebe standing atop the rubble, completely unharmed. Her Dusclops stood next to her, along with Liza and Lunatone. All of them were completely untouched—Maressa presumed it was probably from Dusclops’ intangibility and Lunatone’s psychic powers.

    Liza began to climb on top of Lunatone when the two were blasted by a jet of water. Looking over, Maressa saw Crawdaunt standing on top of the rubble—Matt’s exposed head and shoulders right next to it. The Aqua commander pulled himself all the way out and ordered, “Crawdaunt, Bubblebeam!”

    “Dusclops, Shadow Punch!”

    “Golduck, get Dusclops!”

    The trainers shouted their commands in succession. Crawdaunt opened his claws and unleashed a torrent of bubbles at Liza’s Lunatone a few seconds before one of Dusclops’ fists became visible and collided with the crustacean. Golduck ran forward on all fours and stopped right beneath the Ghost-type to unleash a jet of water in its eye. Meanwhile, Matt charged towards the Elite Four member, who screamed as he wrenched her arm back, punched her in the face and grabbed the sack of cloth out of her hand.

    A split second later, the cloth sack slipped out of Matt’s hand and he was floating in the air, a look of panic on his face. Maressa gasped as she felt—but couldn’t see—something grab her torso and lift her into the air. Dusclops glared at the two Aqua members, its red eye glowing with bloodthirst. Maressa’s torso tightened as the Ghost-type squeezed each member.

    Maressa let out a strangled, panicked cry. “Golduck!”

    Her friend hit the Dusclops with a psybeam, and Maressa fell to the ground. She glanced at the two Pokemon squaring off and looked over to see Lunatone pinning Crawdaunt to the ground while Crawdaunt pummeled it with his claws. Liza was shouting orders to her Lunatone, and Phoebe was sitting on the ground, blood running down her nose, looking dazed. Maressa gasped as she felt cold water touch her feet—the bank was falling away even more, and the water level was rising.

    Maressa’s eyes fell on the sack cloth—Matt immediately picked it up, and as he glanced inside it, his face lit up. Maressa hesitated for a second, terrified at the thought of what she was about to do—so she abandoned all logic and ran over to Matt, striking his nose with the palm of her hand. He let out a yelp; she grabbed his wrist, twisting it around almost far enough to break it, and wrenched the sack out of his hand before sending a kick to his chest.

    Matt sat on the ground for only a second, looking confused and betrayed. But then realization took hold of him, and his confusion turned into rage. Maressa’s heart sank and flooded with dread.

    “Golduck!” she called, panicked and scared.

    She gasped sharply as she felt a hand clamp around her upper arm and throw her to the ground. Matt glared down at her, his icy blue eyes angry and crazed.

    She screamed as Matt lifted her by grabbing a fistful of her hair and shaking her. He let go of her arm and his fist collided with the side of her head. Maressa fell to the ground, colors bursting before her eyes. As her vision cleared, she saw Matt snatch the sack from her hand. Just as his fist closed around the cloth, he let out a scream. He stumbled forward as some sort of liquid splashed onto his back, burning through his coat and sending curls of smoke in the air. Matt turned around, his eyes filled with rage and confusion as he saw Gloom standing behind him.

    “Gloom, Gloom!” the Pokemon called, waving its arms towards the river. His message was clear—for Maressa to get out of there.

    The purple Pokemon ran and jumped into Matt, tackling him to the ground as he released a myriad of multi-colored spores and the sack fell out of Matt’s hand. Taking care not to breathe in, Maressa grabbed the sack and was about to call Golduck but hesitated. There was no way she was leaving Gloom there.

    She was still thinking when she felt the ground beneath her give way. A scream of shock escaped her lips before she plunged into the icy water. Panic engulfed her for a moment, but in just a second her head broke free of the surface and she watched the people and Pokemon fighting on the bank grow smaller.

    “Golduck! Gloom!” she called as loud as she could. The Grass-type didn’t even acknowledge her; he kept shooting acid from the flower on his head at Matt. The Water-type turned his eyes from Dusclops to his trainer, and immediately slipped into the water and sprinted downstream toward Maressa. Once he reached Maressa, she sent Sharpedo out of his Pokeball and the duo both grabbed on to him.

    “Sharpedo, go underwater and as fast as you can with the current—just remember to let me breathe every minute!”

    Sharpedo did so, and the three of them plunged beneath the river’s surface. Maressa kept the sack held between her hand and Sharpedo’s fin. She shut her eyes tightly and held on as well as she could as her Pokemon shot through the water like a bullet. She could feel Sharpedo’s serrated scales scratch open the exposed skin on her stomach, but she didn’t care at the moment—she just wanted to get as far away from the others, especially Matt, as fast as possible.

    Whether she clung to Sharpedo for hours or minutes, she couldn’t tell. In her perspective, everything moved so quickly—every second, she concentrated on holding on to her Pokemon, taking a quick gulp of air every time he shot in the air, and of not letting pain of water rushing through her open wounds overcome her. Her head throbbed madly, and holding her breath only accented the pain. Yet, throughout all this, there was a heaviness in her heart—though they were escaping, Gloom was left behind.

    At last, Sharpedo dove deep beneath the water, and lunged out and over the bank, which lay far above the river. He, Golduck and Maressa crashed into the undergrowth. Maressa and Golduck let go, and though Maressa desperately wanted to lie down, she trotted further into the jungle, with Sharpedo following by sorts of jumping-lunges behind her. It rained heavily.

    When Maressa felt they were decently far from the river, she crouched beneath the plants. The massive trees of the rainforest formed a dense thicket far above their heads, partially shielding them from the downpour. The plants on the jungle floor were large, making it easy for Maressa and Golduck to hide within them—even Sharpedo was shielded from any prying eyes.

    Marerssa breathed heavily as she crouched, leaning against the Dark-type. The rain pattered softly on her head and back; the open wounds from Sharpedo’s scales burned and itched; her head continued to throb. She sniffed—it was cold, she was soaked, and the rain prevented her from drying out. But still, she held on to Sharpedo, knowing that his Dark-type would prevent them from being detected by any psychic powers.

    Moments passed, and the only change Maressa noticed was Golduck stiffening at one point. She relied on his abilities, far more sensitive than her own, to judge when it was safe to move.

    After what felt like half an hour, Golduck stood up, letting them know that enough time had passed since Liza and Phoebe had gone through. It should be safe to move about. Maressa hadn’t even realized they had passed by.

    Standing up, she gazed, bleary-eyed, at her companions. “Gloom…”

    Golduck and Sharpedo both cast their eyes down. Sharpedo growled softly—there was nothing they could do.

    “I have to at least check,” Maressa said, though with how tired she was, she dreaded the prospect of it. “You guys guard the Orbs; I need to see if Gloom is okay.”

    Golduck jumped in front of her, quacking hurriedly—she was in no condition to go see Gloom. She would have to trek well over a mile upstream in the rain through dense jungle. And what if she met Matt along the way? No—he would check. He would be much quicker and safer.

    Maressa listened, and for once, decided not to argue. “I’ll wait for you here.” She looked up at the canopy overhead. “But I can’t wait outside. I’ll freeze.”

    Golduck nodded, bade her to wait, and dashed off. In a moment, she heard him quacking, calling her over.

    “You okay with going back in your Pokeball for now?” she asked Sharpedo. He tiredly growled his affirmation, and Maressa withdrew him and followed Golduck’s quacks to see him standing before the roots of a large tree. He held some tall grass aside, showing the entrance to a den—probably once dug by some Linoone and was now not in use. Maressa crawled inside—it wasn’t very spacious, and she couldn’t do more than sit up. But it was dry, and there were dead leaves scattered about the bottom, making a relatively-soft and dry bedding.

    Maressa glanced up at Golduck, who crouched by the den’s entrance. For the first time in a long time—at least since before Maressa had been captured by Team Magma—Golduck seemed to be in a good mood. His eyes were bright, he was energetic, and he looked hopefully to Maressa to see if she approved.

    “I’ll wait for you here. Please check on Gloom—and please be safe.

    Golduck nodded, and disappeared. Through the grasses covering the den entrance, Maressa could dimly see faint light filter through. Otherwise, she was in total darkness.

    Maressa set the bag of Orbs down next to her, removed her gloves to let her hands air out, lay down, and breathed deeply. She was exhausted, cold, hungry, there was too much running through her mind—Golduck, Gloom, Liza, Phoebe, Matt, the bizarre weather… They did fight exactly where Jirachi appeared a few days prior, when it made the sky act up. Maressa was sure that had something to do with everything falling apart outside.

    But as for everything happening and what was to come… She didn’t know. She knew she could speculate for days on end, but her head throbbed, she was exhausted, and speculation would get her nowhere. Her main concern at the moment was for Golduck and Gloom, and to wait patiently until she heard back from them.

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

    Inhaling deeply, Maressa opened her eyes. She blinked a couple times in the darkness, noticing a faint glimmer of light from the corner of her eye. She had fallen asleep—for how long? Sitting up, she groaned—she was stiff, and her stomach rumbled in hunger. Her wounds on her stomach and side had scabbed over; she had to be careful about how she stretched and turned, or else they would re-open. Gazing blearily at the den opening, Maressa crawled over to it. She was still fairly damp, and now covered in dirt and bits of dead leaves, too. Pushing aside the grasses at the entrance to the den, she saw Golduck lying just outside, sleeping peacefully in the rain.

    Reluctant to leave the dry den, Maressa called, “Golduck!” He awoke with a start, looked over at her, and cheered up when he saw her. Walking over, he sat down at the entrance to the den, gazing at Maressa.

    “Thank goodness you’re okay,” she sighed. “And did you find Gloom?”

    Golduck’s face fell. He nodded.

    “And?”

    Golduck was too late. Matt had already dealt with Gloom.

    “What—what do you mean?” Maressa asked, but she felt the truth sink into her breaking heart. Golduck refused to say any more.

    Slumping back into the den, Maressa let the grass fall back into place as her body shook with sobs. Golduck slipped into the den and wrapped his arms around his companion. Maressa leaned her head on his, and returned his hug, letting his presence comfort and warm her.

    After a few moments, Golduck pulled back and looked up at her. They had to get going; the rainforest wouldn’t be safe for long. Phoebe and Liza would send police to scour the area, searching for her and the Orbs.

    Maressa nodded in agreement.

    Satisfied, Golduck said he would get her some food and non-Team Aqua clothing. Still saying nothing, Maressa nodded and he was gone. She dimly wondered where he would get the clothes, but didn’t feel like asking.

    In the silence, guilt grew in Maressa’s heart. She knew it was her fault—she brought Gloom to the mainland from Mossdeep, even though she had no right to. It was purely selfishness out of missing Seaking that drove her to do so; not to find a replacement for Seaking, but to avoid dwelling on his loss.

    Now she could only dwell on losing them both.

    Had Maressa escaped Team Aqua sooner, Gloom would be all right. But she hadn’t; she didn’t listen to Golduck, and stubbornly stayed because she didn’t want to say goodbye to her friends, because she didn’t want to face the reality of trying to find a job in the real world, because she didn’t know what life she would return to without Team Aqua. In spite of keeping her Pokemon in danger, she remained with Team Aqua out of fear and indecision.

    And what would they do now? They were free, away from Team Aqua. Matt knew of her betrayal, but how long would it be for him to find his way back to the team? The Pokeballs of both Pelipper tumbled into the river and were lost. And would others believe him?

    Maressa’s eyes fell on the Orbs. And what to do about those? She had no idea where they came from, and she couldn’t think of anywhere they would be safe. Perhaps they could return them to the police. The Elite Four could guard them. If the Orbs weren’t safe with them, who were they safe with?

    But an inkling of fear trickled into Maressa’s heart. Both teams had spies working in the civilian world, and in the police force to keep police off Team Aqua’s and Team Magma’s scent. What if the officers she turned them in to happened to belong to one of the teams? And did the regular police force even know about the Orbs? And was any of this reasonable, or was Maressa just paranoid?

    She sighed and grimaced. She should have just handed them back to Phoebe and Liza—even though the two of them didn’t seem trustworthy with the Orbs. Would the rest of the Elite Four and Gym Leaders be any better?

    Without thinking, Maressa reached out and placed her hand on the Red Orb, intending to pick it up and examine it more closely. But as soon as her bare skin touched it, she felt every muscle in her body seize, and her vision washed away.

    The warm earth pressed in all around. There was heat from a nearby magma river. The scent of sulfur filled the nostrils. Every muscle in the great form was weighed down with sleep. Massive amounts of unused energy lay within. It only had to be woken up.

    Open.

    Two eyelids lifted. It lifted its head, breaking bedrock easily—

    Maressa tore herself out of the vision, letting go of the Orb. She lay on the ground, panting as she stared at the object, which glittered even in the dull light. And deep within her, she felt a sort of pull for her to go west—to Mt. Chimney.

    And she knew that’s where it was. She could hardly believe the amount of power within that—that whatever it was.

    That’s what Team Magma wants to control, she realized.

    There was no way. She had managed to make that creature lift its head, but it took a lot of willpower to get out of the creature’s mind and get it to do anything. And it was so powerful—how could any human believe they could control that?

    And that wasn’t even going in to how difficult it was let go. Sure, she might have had a modicum of control over it, but she could easily see herself getting stuck in its mind and losing total control over herself.

    And she knew it was within Mt. Chimney. The pull within her was fading, but were she still holding the Orb, she probably would be heading over there to try and wake up or unite with the beast—somehow. Was that why Team Magma had tried to erupt Mt. Chimney before? Did they know that’s where the beast was?

    Maressa’s eyes roved to the Blue Orb, glimmering next to its companion. An awful thought came to her mind—something that she wanted to do, but at the same time, knew it was a bad idea. Team Aqua didn’t know where Kyogre was. What if she were to find out, and make sure no one ever disturbed it?

    If she thought too much about it, she might dissuade herself from doing it, so Maressa reached out and touched the Blue Orb with the end of her forefinger.

    Darkness. The gigantic body rested on hard rocks. Cold water all around. Barely moving, there was hardly a current. Crushing pressure from the weight of water above.

    Maressa ripped herself away, breathing heavily. She didn’t want to try making Kyogre do anything—it held at least as much power and energy as the creature of the Red Orb. Gasping, she closed her eyes and lay her head on the ground, feeling a pull that stretched to the deepest depths of the ocean. She had only been around a few parts of the sea near Hoenn, and didn’t know it well at all. Yet, in her mind’s eye, she could pinpoint the exact location where the creature lay.

    She shivered. It was so deep and cold—far beyond the possible reaches of any human, maybe even any Pokemon. A nauseating feeling rose from the pit in her stomach as she recalled the weight of water pressing down on her—when controlling Kyogre and when captured by Team Magma. Shaking her head, she slapped her face a few times, trying to snap herself out of it. She had no desire to go ocean exploring again—save for finding Seaking—least of all to the Hadal Zone.

    Throwing the sack back over the Orbs, Maressa wrapped her arms around herself and lay on the ground, mulling over her thoughts, trying to suppress the overwhelming sorrow that kept creeping back on her. Looking for Seaking was probably the next big move for her, Golduck, Sharpedo and Lanturn. Before then, she’d have to find proper clothing, get some food, and overall adjust to normal life again. If Team Aqua had been paying her as they promised, she should have plenty of money in her bank account…

    Going out to the ocean to look for Seaking would be dangerous for a number of reasons, she knew. Her main concern was that Team Aqua might somehow find them again—and what then? What would they do to her and her Pokemon?

    All at once, the reality of what happened to Gloom washed over Maressa again, and she dissolved into tears and sobbing. How could he actually be gone? She remembered the warmth of his body as she held him in her lap and softly sang to him—now her arms only hugged against her shaking sides. And it happened because he tried to protect her… What would her Pokemon do if she were captured by Team Aqua or Team Magma again? And what would happen to them?

    No, nothing could happen to them. She would make sure of that. Were something to happen to them and she had to live without—she didn’t let herself finish the thought.

    As she lay on the ground, covered in dirt and bits of dried leaves, she made a decision. She prayed that she would never have to actually act out on it, but if circumstances called for it, she knew what she would do.

    In a few short moments, Golduck returned, carrying a small sack on his back. After crawling through the hole into the den, he took the sack off and set out some root vegetables and a set of clean clothes. He looked at Maressa, proud of himself for such good findings and eager to see what she thought of them. But when he saw her bloodshot eyes and tear-stained face, he plodded over silently and wrapped his arms around her, letting her cry softly into him.

    Sniffling, Maressa looked at her head and gazed blearily at her companion. “Thanks, Golduck,” she whispered. Looking at the pile of clothes he had set out, she softly asked, “Golduck, did you steal those?”

    The cheerfulness left Golduck as his shoulders slumped forward and he rolled his eyes. Maressa really didn’t have a choice—she needed some sort of civilian clothing. If she wanted it to be “fair,” they could think of it as long-term borrowing. Or they could give her Team Aqua uniform in as a trade.

    “I don’t think anyone will want to wear this. And besides, Golduck, this is giving up my criminal life—stealing a pair of clothes shouldn’t be the first thing I do!”

    Golduck sneered. They were running out of time. If she didn’t want to wear the clothes, then she could try to sneak around wearing Team Aqua clothing and see how long she’d last.

    Sighing, she conceded his point. After shooing Golduck out of the den, she got dressed into the dry-fit shirt and rain pants that he got for her. She also crammed down one of the root vegetables—it was extremely tough and dry, but far better than nothing, and she was desperate. She stuffed the rest into the sack that Golduck brought, grabbed the sack with the Orbs, and crawled out of the den into the rain. She looked up at the canopy of trees as Golduck grabbed her hand. Pushing through the fear, guilt and sorrow that infused her, the two of them headed south.
     
  6. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Welcome back! It's always nice to see you pop up with more story to tell. Hope you're feeling better and have more opportunity to do things you enjoy in the future.

    "Her grandmother's face creased" isn't a speech tag, so it should be capitalized and the dialogue before it should end in a period.

    I like the little snippets of Phoebe's life you show off here. She has kind of a larger-than-life quality as an Elite Four member, but her disappointments are wonderfully normal and human. Totally failing to look after her brother for her parents is the most relatable to me; I think pretty much everybody who has siblings has done something like that at some point.

    Damn, Matt, way to give up all your leverage!

    There's a misplaced modifier here. Maressa's the one clinging desperately to her companion, but she doesn't actually appear anywhere in this sentence, so that clause is kind of hanging around awkwardly without anything to properly attach to. Something like "She clung desperately to her companion, and it was only a couple seconds..." would work.

    You don't want a comma in this sentence because "Ended up sliding down the debris..." isn't a complete sentence. If you have two complete sentences you want to join with something like "and" or "but," you use a comma, but if the clauses you're joining can't stand on their own, you want the word only with no comma.

    Man, I love it when villains just ignore all the normal rules of battle and go for the trainers instead of fighting fair! Same when Dusclops turns the tables.

    OH MAN, GO MARESSA!

    Should be "his" arms, presumably.

    Maybe "sprinted" isn't quite the right word here, since Golduck's swimming.

    You want either "that was now not in use" or just "and now not in use," with no "was."

    Here you want a comma before "and," since "Maressa nodded" and "He was gone" are both complete sentences.

    Man, the stuff about getting non-Aqua clothes is reminding me of the time that Maressa just took off in a freaking hospital gown like she didn't even care. XD

    "Had tumbled," to indicate that this happened in the past.

    "laid" her head on the ground here. Whenever the action's being done to something, e.g. "laid a bag on the table," "laid a blanket across the bed," it's "laid." When the action's being done by someone/something ("she lay down on the floor"), it's "lay." Here the action's being done to something (Maressa's head, specifically), so you want "laid."

    I think you might have gotten stuck deciding between "in a trade" and "as a trade."

    I don't think your grammar was way off in this chapter by any means! Obviously there are mistakes, but there always are, and I don't think the quality took a nosedive or anything.

    Lots going on in this chapter! Maressa finally makes a break with Team Aqua, ends up with the Orbs, and loses another companion. She wants to turn the orbs over to someone else to deal with and go off looking for Seaking, but somehow I doubt that's going to work out for her. Best course of action at this point might be to dump the Orbs in the river and hope nobody stumbles on them for at least a couple hundred years, but admittedly that is passing the buck a bit.

    I think the fight between Maressa and Matt really shows how far you've come in writing action scenes since you started this fic. The whole battle with Phoebe and Liza in general was really tense and dramatic, but the part where Maressa directly engages with Matt was definitely the high point of the chapter for me. It's been coming for a long time, of course, and I thought you gave the conflict some satisfying payoff here. There was a good back-and-forth between them, you did a good job of focusing on the impact each of their attacks had and making them really react to what was going on, and it felt like an appropriately emotionally-charged moment. Gloom showing up to save the day was a little out of nowhere, but you did establish that he liked to hang around near Maressa earlier, so it wasn't a big stretch.

    There are a lot of interesting places we could go from here. I don't know that Phoebe or Liza will have large roles now that they've inadvertently delivered the Orbs into Maressa's hands, but I'm sure we haven't seen the last of Team Aqua, and Maressa herself has some interesting choices to make. Presumably she's going to meet back up with Derek at some point, but what they're going to do then, with Magma and Aqua both after them and the Orbs to deal with, I don't know! One of the things that's been interesting about this story from the start is that it's about ordinary grunts caught up in their team's much larger, crazier schemes, and how they deal with that. You really get the sense of that here, with Maressa neither wanting nor being prepared for the responsibility of having the Orbs but having to deal with it anyway. It'll be interesting to see how she and all the other ordinary people caught up in this mess fare as the conflict gets increasingly out of control.

    Overall I think this was a good chapter to come back to after a long break. It clearly moved the story along and continued the build-up towards what I feel like has to be a fairly imminent climax at this point. Hope the writing goes well and you're able to get the next chapter out a little sooner! There are a lot of cool directions the story could go from here, and I'd love to see which one you end up taking it in.
     
  7. canisaries

    canisaries sometimes i get a deadache, yeah

    Hi, I'm Canis, here to check out the first chapter for the Review Game!

    Prose

    This could use rephrasing, as this is the readers first introduction to the situation and they don't have enough context to figure out which "she" and "her" refer to whom. Even with context it probably isn't so clear.

    This phrasing feels kind of redundant, simply "Sarah frowned" would do and be more compact. It may be simple, but I've found simple to usually be better.

    I feel like the prose could be stronger if phrases like the bolded ones here were removed. You've probably heard the phrase "show, don't tell" a million times like most writers, and you do a good job of showing, but have a bad habit of also telling. In these examples, the information the bolded parts hold is already sufficiently indicated by dialogue, body language or both. Readers like subtlety and feeling like they're smart and observant, so compactness is a virtue.

    Following up on that previous point: a lot of the dialogue tags, such as these, are pretty much superfluous. Since a new paragraph is started with action shifting to a different character, any dialogue in the paragraph is automatically attributed to the character acting in it. This is also handy for the author themselves, as it saves them from having to think of a speaking verb (though on a side note, usually "said" is just fine if nothing else fits).

    On a final note, I'm not too big a fan of the semicolon in fiction, as it almost always feels like it could be substituted with something more common like a dash or an ellipsis. However, the amount to which it was used here is still totally within sensible, so good work on that.

    Description

    I can't lie, it took me several minutes and a friend's comment to understand what this meant. I think it'd be massively clearer if you specified it to be a small curved tear as I kept thinking of "tear" as a huge rift in the sky.

    That hiccup aside, though, I liked the description in this. Colors like "saffron" and "vermilion" are more vibrant than just "yellow" and "red", but they're not words too obscure for the average reader (especially in a Pokémon context, hehe). As mentioned before, there's a lot of body language, which I like to see in fics as it makes the story more visual - and it is true that on occasion body language can say way more than any spoken words could.

    Finally, a highlight of this exquisite sentence:

    *kisses fingertips* it is great

    Characters

    The interaction of characters seem to be the strong point of this chapter and I'm left with a feeling it will continue to be so in the rest of the fic. The main characters' dialogue is believable and natural. The bond between Maressa and Golduck, while largely only told in this chapter, is described in a way that makes it feel genuine and strengthened a lot by their physical interaction towards the end.

    So far, the two main characters don't seem drastically different personality-wise (which made me have to look up which girl was the one with the Golduck for the previous paragraph), but demanding all characters to be distinct to the reader by the end of only the first chapter would be asking too much, anyway. I'm very sure they have more fleshing out later in the fic.

    Sarah and Maressa are said to be friends, but they don't seem to know too much about each other yet, which leads me to believe that they've only recently met, probably via Team Aqua. Don't know if I'm correct, but that's the idea I got.

    Story

    Nothing too drastic has happened so far, not that it should in just the first chapter. However, the setting of two well-intentioned (as far as the reader knows) girls under Team Aqua already promises an upcoming conflict. The eerie name of the fic only adds to this.

    Summary

    Chapter 1 introduces readers to the main characters of Drowning in a quiet but casual situation, evoking a strong feeling of a calm before the storm. Questions are raised as should in a fic-beginning chapter - Why are these girls working for Aqua? What will be found behind that rubble on the ocean floor? Are they going to be fine and if not, how will it affect them?

    Hope you found this review useful or insightful to some extent. If you have any questions, I'll be glad to answer them.
     
  8. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    Yay, new chapter! Welcome back!

    You really pulled all the punches with Phoebe and her grandparents, eh? I actually thought she'd give up taking the orbs in the end, she seemed so regretful and torn over hurting them. I'm glad she was able to take a few moments with them and just bask in them before she had to break the news... and you did the grandmother-ly personality and voice really well, too. The disappointment was obvious and it hit Phoebe hard, I could tell. But there seemed to be a semblance of understanding between them anyway, and a sense of unconditional love.

    Maressa betraying Matt isn't too surprising, though she chose a hell of a moment to do it. I might've liked to see more of her thought process on why she chose that moment, but I think everything was moving so fast that she kinda acted on instinct anyway. Gloom being left behind was unfortunate... and I was glad you skimped on the details of his death. :( I don't think Maressa's heart could've taken it. She's been through enough suffering as it is. I will say it did feel really off at first that she didn't seem to dwell on Gloom's death for long. That just doesn't seem to be her personality, even without the gory details to instigate her feeling even more guilty. But the chapter came back to it after jumping from place to place, which, I think, portrays her scattered mind about everything that's happening pretty well.

    Last thing, a legit criticism: It feels a little too convenient that Golduck would find random clothes and they'd happen to fit her perfectly. Them being too small, or too large, might've added a bit of depth in terms of her needing to improvise or risk getting funny looks from the wrong people over her appearance.

    Overall, this was an impactful one, and you handled the nuances of the emotional parts well, I think. :D Hope to see more of this soon!
     
  9. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    Haha thanks :p That actually happened with my siblings, so I thought it might add a nice touch (except that in my family, my older brother was supposed to watch my younger brother and my younger brother was found playing in the street TWICE).

    Well thanks! I thought it would make the most sense lol. Criminals don't really care about rules :p

    I'm so glad you appreciate this part

    I actually disagree with you here. I used to be a swimmer, and whenever we swim as hard and fast as we can, it's referred to as "sprinting." I guess it might be a bit of jargon; is it inappropriate to use jargon for stories like this?

    Admittedly, the entire time I wrote about Maressa streaking, I was laughing like an immature 13-year-old.

    Thanks haha. As I was going through your grammar critiques, I was thinking, "Grammar will always be the death of me."

    Do things ever totally work out for her? lol. And Idk, I'd probs toss the Orbs in the river; they'd be about as safe there as anywhere else.

    Thank you so, so much. Getting affirmation that I've been improving is probably the best thing that I can hear. And yeah, I get you on the Gloom bit. That's one of the effects of me changing about how I want to handle specific parts of the story, and realizing that they would need prior planning. Oops...

    And thank you so much for your reviewing and helping over these years! I'm glad that the story has kept to its roots of being about Grunt lives. I'm hoping to have the climax cranked out soon; this story is a lot longer than I had initially planned (mainly thanks to characterization...). New chapter should be up soon! =D


    Hi there! Thanks so much for stopping by :) As this was the first chapter and written five years ago (o_o), I have changed my writing style quite a bit since then, so hopefully the hiccups and oddities in the first chapter aren't so present anymore. If I do re-write the chapters, I'll try to clean that up. Thanks for the catch!

    I'm glad you like the characterization! Yeah, Maressa and Sarah have similar personalities, and they did just meet each other through Team Aqua

    And thanks again so much for the review! I always love hearing from new people and getting more perspectives =) I'll keep your critiques in mind!

    Thanks for the welcome! And thanks for the comments! I'm glad to hear that I handled it okay and that it wasn't too out-of-the-blue; I was trying to show someone being torn between love for their family and trying/wanting to do what's right and how feelings/loyalties can overcome one's better judgement. Unconditional love definitely plays a part, and I'm glad you got the feel!

    Yeah, she kinda acted in the moment. And I wanted to keep the plot moving without her dwelling on things anymore because I felt like that was holding it up (AKA I got too impatient ^_^;). Her mind is also super scattered with everything going on. Thanks for the note, though! I'll bear that in mind for the next chapter.

    Very true. Mmm I might tweak that. Thanks!

    Thanks so much for your review! The next chapter is finished, I just need to work on editing and it should be out within a few days!
     
    diamondpearl876 likes this.
  10. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    So here's the next chapter! I don't have too much to say about this. So let me know what you think! Thanks to everyone who has been reading and keeping up with me =) And praise God for letting me be productive and find joy in fanfiction again! I hope you guys enjoy, and any reviews/critiques are appreciated!

    Chapter 18

    Tabitha rewound the video, then played it forward in slow motion. He watched the room slowly fill with black smoke. The screen flickered a few times before shutting off. He grit his teeth and banged on the table.

    How?

    He had received the alert that Tate had disappeared just earlier that day. He spoke with the guards who were watching the kid—two humans and two Houndoom—to see exactly what had gone on. None of them could give an answer.

    “Well,” one of the grunts—was his name Chad? Tabitha thought it was Chad—scratched his scruffy blonde hair. “We were guarding the door. Then it started filling with smoke. And then I passed out.”

    “Me too,” said Jim, the other guard.

    Tabitha stared at them. “And?”

    “That’s it.”

    “That’s it?! You saw smoke, and then you passed out?”

    “Yep.”

    “Did you hear anything? Did anything hit you to make you pass out—did you wake up with darts in your necks, or…?”

    Jim shook his head. “I didn’t hear anything. I saw a bunch of smoke, so I immediately thought there might be a fire somewhere and hit the emergency alarm and I called to Chad to tell him I did. And the next thing I knew, I woke up on the floor.”

    “Same here,” said Chad.

    Tabitha sighed and turned to face the Houndooms sitting next to Chad and Jim. “Did either of you see anything?”

    One Houndoom explained that he saw smoke starting to come in through the cracks in the door before the door was thrown off its hinges. A Golbat flew in and bit him in the back. When he was trying to get the Golbat off, the room filled with smoke and something large and heavy knocked him into the ground, and he passed out.

    The other Houndoom said he saw a person dressed like a Team Magma member. He jumped on him and bit him in the shoulder—but then he suddenly fell asleep, too.

    “You saw a person? What did they look like?”

    The Houndoom scratched the side of his face with his hind leg. The person wore large glasses, so he didn’t see much. But he had a face, shaped like a human’s. He also had a little nose—probably very bad at smelling. There were also two ears—also shaped like a human’s, and probably not good at hearing.

    “Yes, I understand that it was a human,” Tabitha said impatiently. “But were there any other details you noticed? Any defining features? Skin tone? Freckles? Scars?”

    The Houndoom looked so confused. He whined—how could he notice any of that? All humans looked the same!

    Tabitha closed his eyes and nodded. Pokemon didn’t think the way that people did. If he asked a Team Magma member to describe a certain Houndoom, they’d probably only be able to give generic features.

    “Thank you,” Tabitha said to the four of them. “You may all go.”

    They rose and departed. As they left, Mightyena walked in through the open door to Tabitha’s office, kicking it closed with his hind legs. He walked over to his trainer, who ruffled his black fur.

    “I don’t know, Mightyena. Tate’s gone, which means we’ve lost Jirachi. And if we’ve lost Jirachi…” He shook his head. “I really don’t know what’s going to happen.” He was scared; his stomach churned with anxiety. Jirachi was sure to come and attack them. And if that happened…

    He shook his head again. At least this didn’t happen on his watch. But it meant there was a traitor on Team Magma, and the only thing they knew about him was that he had a Golbat. Nearly everyone had a Golbat! But there had to be a way to find out more…

    The Magma commander mulled it over in his head. Not including today, Jirachi had three days left before it disappeared for another millennium. They would only have to hold out for three days—but would they make it that long? Jirachi knew where they were; it could come and destroy them all in an instant.

    Tabitha looked down to Mightyena, but the Pokemon also looked preoccupied. “What’s up with you?” he asked.

    Mightyena growled. That girl was hanging around the corner outside again.

    “Girl? What girl?”

    The Pokemon explained that there was a Team Magma member with a Whismur who hung around down the hallway that Tabitha’s office was on. Whenever the Whismur heard someone coming, she would tell her trainer and the Magma member would pull out a map of the base and study it. But Mightyena sometimes sat in the shadows and watched her. When no one else was around, the girl mainly stared down the hallway at Tabitha’s door, occasionally taking down notes.

    Tabitha sat, thinking on what Mightyena said. It was definitely a Team Magma member who had released Tate…

    Or maybe it was a spy.

    Standing up, Tabitha said to Mightyena, “I’m going to talk to her. Watch my back, okay?”

    Mightyena growled the affirmative. Stepping outside his office, Tabitha walked down the hallway and saw the Team Magma member just as Mightyena described: hand resting on top of a pouch on her hip, looking confusedly at a map on the wall, her Whismur leaning against her legs.

    “What are you doing?” Tabitha asked her.

    The girl jumped at the sound of his voice. “Commander Tabitha! I’m—I’m sorry—I don’t know where I’m supposed to be. I’m—I’m new here, and just started—“

    She stared at him with soft brown eyes, looking genuinely confused and worried. She pushed her shocking pink hair frantically out of her face as she stumbled over her own words.

    “What squadron are you in?” he cut her off.

    “I’m—I’m in B12.”

    B12 was the newest round of recruits; they had joined only a week ago. “You’re supposed to be in the lower bunker. Do you know where it is?”

    “No.”

    Tabitha pointed it out on the map on the wall, and then offered to take her to it. She didn’t seem too keen on accepting, but it was more of a command than an offer. She and her Whismur followed him. They got to a stairwell leading to the lower bunker, where new recruits were holding practice battles under Courtney’s watchful eye. The three of them stopped at the top of the stairway.

    “Just go down these stairs and you’ll find the rest of the squadron.”

    “Th—thank you, sir.”

    She bowed her head slightly, and right before Tabitha turned around, he noticed she held earplugs. He smiled to himself as he walked away. A melodic lullaby emanated from behind him; his muscles suddenly felt heavy, and he whistled.

    Once he whistled, Mightyena leapt forth from the shadows in the hallway. His mouth was wide open, baring two rows of enormous teeth. He tackled the girl to the ground, then clamped his jaws around the Whismur, who had just started to sing. The Whismur shrieked, causing a horrible uproar that echoed throughout the halls. Tabitha—alert again once the singing stopped—covered his hands with his ears, wincing. Mightyena shook his head, jerking the Whismur around, and slammed the little Pokemon repeatedly into the wall until she went still and the hall was quiet.

    The sound of pounding feet echoed up the stairwell. The girl with pink hair took out a Pokeball and recalled Whismur and looked up at Tabitha, her face breaking out in sweat.

    Courtney, with a multitude of new recruits and their Pokemon behind her, appeared at the top of the stairway, asking, “What was that about? Everyone in the bunker heard that screeching.”

    Tabitha asked the girl with pink hair, “Care to tell us why you’ve got earplugs in, and why your Whismur tried to sing me to sleep?”

    The girl stood speechless, her eyes darting between the two Magma commanders. She suddenly ran at Tabitha, taking a knife out of the pouch on her hip, trying to slash him with it.

    Tabitha took a few steps back, easily evading the knife. He reached out and grabbed her hand, holding it still so she could no longer slash him. She struggled, but he grabbed her other hand, and forced her to turn and get on her knees. She looked up at Courtney, who strode over to her with a smile on her face.

    “A knife fight, huh? I haven’t had one of these in a long time!” Courtney excitedly took a knife out of a sheath that hung on her hip. “If you want to let her go, Tabitha, I can play with her. This should be fun!”

    “Be my guest,” Tabitha said. But unfortunately for Courtney, the girl had no interest in a fair knife fight. She just kept on trying to take down Tabitha and escape down the hallway behind him.

    After detaining her a second time—the poor girl really wasn’t strong enough to fight him—Tabitha said, “Looks like she doesn’t want to fight you, Courtney. But Mightyena caught her hanging outside my office; I think she might have something to do with—“ his eyes darted to the new Team Magma members standing behind Courtney, gazing curiously at Tabitha—“with recent problems we’ve had.”

    “Well, that’s upsetting. But if you want to leave her with me, my Ninetales and I can get her talking.” Courtney walked over to the girl, using the blade of her knife to lift her chin up. “You’re awfully quiet. It’ll just be easier if you start talking now, you know.”

    The girl said nothing, but glared at Courtney with murderous intent.

    “Ooh, now she looks like she wants to fight! But yeah, I’ll get her talking, Tabitha. I’ll make a demonstration out of it too, something the newer recruits can learn from. All of you, back down in the lower level! I’m going to show you what happens to spies and traitors. You two, get over here and bring this girl down with you.”

    Two large men stepped forward at Courtney’s command and each took one of the girl’s arms, leading her down into the lower levels. After everyone disappeared, Courtney looked up at Tabitha.

    “What’re you up to now, Tabs?”

    “Don’t call me that. And I don’t know—I’m supposed to figure out who released the kid, but it looks like that might be answered already. Get back to me once you’ve gotten everything out of her, and I’ll plan from there.”

    Courtney nodded. “Okay! Do you wanna come down and help me? Or at least watch?”

    Tabitha’s stomach turned. “No, thanks. I’ve never been a big fan of this.”

    Courtney shook her head. “Your loss. I’ll see you soon!” And she happily trotted down the stairs.

    Tabitha gazed after her, slightly unsettled. Courtney was definitely better than before—it was almost as if Jirachi’s presence completely changed her mindset. He was grateful she no longer showed any doubt about Team Magma, but it was odd to see how much she had changed in so little time.

    The Magma Commander bent down, ruffling Mightyena’s fur and ears while his Pokemon licked his face. “You’re such a good boy. Thanks for telling me about that girl—I should have noticed sooner. I could never do this job without you.”

    Getting up, the two headed back to Tabitha’s office. Was there a network of spies? Probably; they hardly operated alone, from what Tabitha saw. He would ask the Pokemon if they had seen anything unusual or suspicious—they were much more observant than humans were. Otherwise, the best thing to do was to wait and see what the girl would tell them. Whatever she knew, Courtney would soon find out.

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

    Maressa glanced up at the buildings around her. It was so weird being back in her hometown—it almost felt like returning to another reality. From the outside, things all looked the same: the sun shone as brightly as ever, the buildings were just as tall and grey as they had been (though there was a bit more graffiti than before), and people were still milling about, minding their own business.

    She glanced down at Golduck. He didn’t seem too keen on being back here—he was never a big fan of the city; he usually stayed in the wilderness nearby. But today, he insisted on staying with Maressa.

    The river they escaped down led through the rainforest and emptied south into the sea, just east of Mauville. Maressa left the Orbs there with Lanturn and Sharpedo guarding them—mainly Lanturn, as Sharpedo kept getting distracted by every Pokemon that swam by. Lanturn didn’t want to see Maressa go, but Golduck promised to keep the two of them safe.

    It was early morning when Maressa reached Mauville; she figured she must have slept in the den for most of the night. She and Golduck walked from the river through some grassland before reaching the outskirts of the city. It wasn’t a terribly long walk, perhaps thirty to forty-five minutes. Maressa tried to distract herself by talking to Golduck about random things, but soon dissolved into tears and sobbing as the guilt of Gloom’s death washed over her. Golduck reached up and wrapped an arm around her waist, offering his presence as comfort, and listened to Maressa mourn for the majority of their walk.

    Once they arrived at Mauville, Maressa’s eyes were red, her throat sore, she was starving, exhausted, and smelled strongly of the wilderness. After speaking with the police and bank—telling them that she was exploring the jungle on route 120 and lost everything—she had a replacement ID and debit card with her, and ate lunch on a bench on the sidewalk outside, near a clothing store. It had been a much smoother process than expected. Maressa was worried about finding some connection with her and Team Aqua—and Golduck stood on guard next to her in case they needed a quick getaway—but there was no such record to be found. The police didn’t find it suspicious that she had nothing; according to them, trainers frequently ran into disasters and stumbled into town, completely empty-handed. The police ran her Pokeballs through a scanner and found they were only registered with her; there was no association between them and Team Aqua.

    Marerssa was pleased to see her bank account; Team Aqua had been paying her steadily, and a few months with no expenses allowed the numbers to rack up. Her paychecks had come from “Ocean Incorporated”—one of the publicity fronts Team Aqua had to keep their real name and motivations hidden.

    Maressa paused. She looked up at a building next to her. An advertisement for bio-degradable water bottles (“Keep the oceans clean! Do your part!”) made by “Blue Seas” hung from a window. “Blue Seas” was another of Team Aqua’s public names—Sarah said it was how she found them. Maressa’s stomach started to feel queasy. Once she noticed the advertisements, it seemed like they were everywhere. Bar shampoo made without plastic bottles, clothes made from re-purposed plastic, toothbrushes made from wood… All of these products came from companies with names like “EnviroFit” and “Earth Saver.” They were all real companies, giving people real products, producing real revenue—but at least Blue Seas was associated with Team Aqua. How many more of these companies were associated with them? Were any associated with Team Magma? Maressa realized that the profits these companies made must be where her paycheck came from. Did the people managing these companies know they were working with Team Aqua and Team Magma—did they know what they were really up to? Were they members of the teams? Perhaps the connections that Team Aqua and Magma had with these companies kept them in decent public standing, and had kept them mostly safe from authorities all these years…

    Realizing just how heavily involved Team Aqua and Team Magma were with Hoenn culture made Maressa’s heart plummet. Her gyro—the tastiest food in the world, in her opinion—didn’t seem so appetizing anymore. Team Aqua and Team Magma could be all around her—and one wouldn’t even notice.

    “Do you really think so?”

    Maressa jumped up. She looked down to see a young boy, his shaggy black hair hanging around his face, staring up at her. His blue changshan was unkempt, and he looked like he needed a bath. He stared at Maressa with large, blue eyes, and Maressa felt an odd presence against her mind.

    “I wouldn’t have thought Teams Aqua and Magma were everywhere. Although I guess it makes sense. Their members have to live somehow. And they do so much without ever getting caught.”

    Maressa could only stare at the boy. Golduck sat on the other side of the bench, looking at the boy confusedly. He, apparently, didn’t have the same line of thought Maressa did.

    The boy looked up at Maressa, and she gasped when she heard a voice echo in her head.

    Are you one of them?

    What was that? Was it him?

    Yeah, it’s me. I can hear your thoughts. If you don’t want to say something out loud, it’s okay. Just say it in your head. I can hear it.

    Maressa stared at the boy. How could he possibly know her thoughts?

    I’m a psychic. I can hear everyone’s thoughts all the time.

    Maressa gulped. In her head, she said, No, I’m not one of Team Aqua. Or Team Magma.

    The boy nodded. Okay. You were just thinking of them a lot, and you seem to know a lot more than most people. But they aren’t all bad. One of the Team Magma members took care of me, and he was really nice to me. He even gave me orange juice!

    She started. “You were caught by them?” she asked aloud. She wasn’t a big fan of telepathic talking.

    Yeah. I don’t know why. Maybe because I could talk to Jirachi… His blue eyes suddenly looked downwards, and he looked much sadder than before. I don’t know where he is, though. I don’t know where anyone is.

    Maressa’s heart raced. “You—you said you could speak to Jirachi?” She looked closer at his face, and realized that she recognized him—everyone in Hoenn would recognize him. He was one of the Mossdeep Gym Leaders, the one who had gone missing. “And you—you were captured by them, and escaped?”

    Tate nodded.

    How?

    The boy was silent, but Maressa’s mind was racing. Flashes of her own imprisonment and escape from Team Magma ran through her mind. She remembered Archie mentioning something about Jirachi—

    Her flow of thought stopped as the boy stared at her, his blue eyes wide with shock

    You are a Team Aqua member!

    Maressa silently cursed—

    You shouldn’t swear.

    She had a hard time keeping control of her thoughts. No one had ever been inside her head before.

    Sorry. I guess it is a bit rude… I just haven’t been able to do this in a long time. And what you were thinking of was so interesting.

    Maressa shook her head. “It’s okay. No, I’m not a member anymore. I was, but I just got away from them.” She looked critically at the kid. “So, you can hear my thoughts, and see my memories?”

    If you’re thinking about it, yeah. Tate smiled. The guy who took care of you when you were captured also took care of me!

    Maressa gasped. “Derek?” she asked with a smile.

    I guess so. I don’t know his name.

    Smiling, Maressa asked, Did he set you free, too?

    Tate looked away, and his presence faded from Maressa’s mind. “I’m not supposed to tell how I got away…” he mumbled.

    “It’s okay. Derek’s a good guy—setting both of us free…” She shook her head. “What a guy.

    “So,” she asked Tate, “you woke up Jirachi, got caught by Team Magma, and then Derek set you free?” Maressa paused; Team Aqua had heard yesterday that Team Magma lost Tate. “Just how long have you been walking around in the open, kid?”

    Tate looked around them fearfully, as if worried someone might eavesdrop on their conversation. Maressa felt his presence return to her mind as he said, Yeah, he set me free. But I probably shouldn’t talk about it out loud. I just need to find someone who can take me to my family. And I got away yesterday.

    “Yesterday?! Have you ever heard of Pokemon Centers, kid? Or asking someone for help?” How could nobody notice a ten-year-old kid walking through the streets on his own? But then Maressa remembered that ten-year-olds training Pokemon was a common thing; there were often children in dirty, weather-torn clothes milling about cities.

    You have to be a trainer to stay at a Pokemon Center, and I’m a gym leader.

    “I am sure that they would let you stay in a bed overnight if you just asked.”

    But I don’t have any ID with me.

    “You’re practically a celebrity! They would know who you are! What have you been doing, sleeping on park benches?”

    No. I slept on a bench in the bus station.

    Maressa shook her head. “You’re very… adaptable, I’ll give you that. Just go in to a police station and they’ll recognize you and take you to your family.” She paused as she remembered the teams’ infiltration into the police. “On second thought, maybe you shouldn’t do that. But there is a gym in Mauville. Can’t you go to the Gym Leader and ask him?”

    The boy thought about it, and Maressa could feel the flow of his thoughts running through his mind—and running against hers. She shivered. Nothing felt private with open thought processes like these.

    “You’re right. Do you know where I can find it?”

    “It’s not hard to find. Come with me, I’ll take you. Let’s go, Golduck.”

    Golduck hopped off the bench and walked with the duo, staring at them in confusion. Tate hadn’t brought him into their thought process—and he had only heard half of the conversation.

    So what are you going to do now that you’re not with Team Aqua?

    Maressa told Tate—out loud, partially so Golduck could hear—about losing Seaking, and how she wanted to find him.

    Out in the ocean?

    “Yeah, I know the ocean is big, but,” she shrugged, “he’s family. I know he’s out there somewhere, and I can’t just leave him. We all miss him—and he misses us.” And almost from out of nowhere, Gloom appeared in her mind, returning the emptiness and sorrow.

    What happened to him?

    “What?”

    You thought of that Gloom and then you felt really, really sad. Did something bad happen to him?

    Maressa paused, struggling to hold back tears as the memories of Gloom saving her from Matt and Golduck telling her about Gloom played through her mind again.

    Is he gone? Tate asked, staring up at Maressa sadly.

    She nodded, trying to not dwell on the sorrow and guilt.

    I’m sorry. But don’t feel so bad about it. I think he wanted to save you and protect you. It wasn’t your fault. He’s a hero!

    Maressa managed a smile, finding some small comfort in the boy’s eager, hopeful attitude. “Thanks, Tate.”

    So, Tate went on, what will you do afterward you find Seaking?

    “After?” Her heart plummeted as she realized she didn’t know. The Orbs flashed through her mind—she still didn’t know what to do about those. “I’m just doing this one step at a time.”

    What were those?

    “What?”

    Tate looked into Maressa’s eyes, and she saw the Red and Blue Orbs show up again. It was so weird—it was her memory, but she didn’t bring it up.

    “Did you just show me my own memory?”

    Tate nodded.

    “Do you know what those are?”

    He shook his head.

    The Red and Blue Orbs, she said internally.

    He shook his head again. I’ve never heard of them.

    Maressa’s heart sank. “I know what they are, I just don’t know what to do with them.”

    Why?

    “Because they’re dangerous.”

    You can always give them to me, and the Pokemon League can keep them safe.

    “The Pokemon League lost them in the first place.”

    Really? How?

    “Your twin isn’t the best at bargaining.”

    Tate’s face lit up. You met Liza?

    “Yep. And Phoebe.”

    I don’t know Phoebe, not really. I’ve just seen her at meetings. But you met Liza! How? How does she know about the Orbs? And why did she give them to you?

    Maressa gazed coolly at Tate. “You ask a lot of questions.”

    So do you.

    “You’re a wordy little kid, aren’t you?”

    That’s what my mom says, too.

    Maressa cracked a smile. “I take it that you don’t know anything that’s happened since you were caught.”

    He shook his head.

    “Well… I’m trying to keep these objects away from Teams Aqua and Magma, but I don’t know what to do with them. Phoebe and your sister tried giving them to Team Aqua, so I’m not sure how safe they are with the Pokemon League.”

    Why would they do that?

    “Team Aqua promised to save you.”

    And did you guys try?

    “I don’t know. Doesn’t really matter, since Derek clearly took care of that himself.”

    Hmm… Do you know where the Orbs come from? Maybe you can just put them back.

    She shook her head. “I don’t have a clue. And apparently they weren’t safe in their original spot.”

    Maybe you can just hold on to them and don’t tell anyone.

    “Kinda worried about running into one of the Teams again…” she said, looking distrustfully at the advertising around them.

    You can find a tree with a hole in it and put them in there. Liza and I kept a lot of our toys that way.

    “That… doesn’t sound very safe.”

    Nobody ever took our toys.

    “These are a bit different from toys.”

    I guess.

    The three of them stopped beneath a large archway with stone letters spelling out MAUVILLE GYM.

    “Well,” Maressa said, “I can drop you off here. Anyone inside should recognize you.”

    Tate looked up at her. “You’re not coming with me?”

    Maressa shook her head. “The more I stay away from anything to do with the Pokemon League, or authorities, the better. I just want to find Seaking and start my life over again.” She sighed. “Or… I don’t know.”

    Why wouldn’t you be able to do that?

    Maressa gazed at the boy, and internally responded, Because I have the Orbs and I know about Team Aqua, I should do something to stop them. I recognize their members, and can help in their arrest and their downfall.

    But you don’t want to?

    I’m… “I’m tired of dealing with them, Tate! And I’m scared, I don’t want to go through anything like that again! You know what I’m talking about, you faced it too! I—“ She paused; her face creased with pain. “I just want to get my Pokemon together and live a normal life again, but knowing that those people are still around…” She shook her head. “I just don’t know.”

    Well… you don’t have to do that stuff.

    “But I should.”

    Why?

    “Because it’s right.”

    Well… I guess that’s up to you. I don’t wanna fight anymore. I just wanna go home to my family and Pokemon and Jirachi. But because Liza and I have strong psychic powers, our parents wanted us to be gym leaders. And gym leaders are supposed to fight... His eyes were downcast. He shrugged. But I dunno. I wanna stay safe. And if you wanna stay safe, I think that’s okay.

    Maressa said nothing, but let Tate’s thoughts sink in to her.

    “Well, I should go. I’m really hungry, and I miss my family and Pokemon.” Maressa looked down at Tate, who was looking through the archway.

    “Oh… do you want any of this?” she asked and held out her gyro, reluctant to give away the rest, but knowing he needed it as much as she did.

    Tate’s face lit up. “I’ll have a bite.” And he took three.

    Maressa laughed as he handed her the remains. “Take care of yourself, kid.”

    “Bye, Ms. Maressa!” He held out his hands for a hug.

    When he called her ‘Ms. Maressa,’ her heart melted, and she bent down and hugged him. “Bye, Tate. Take care, and tell me if you need anything.”

    “Thanks for the food!” he said. They let go, and Maressa stood up and watched Tate walk into the gym. She wanted to go inside, to make sure he got to talk to Wattson and get to his family—but the less involved he was with a former Team Aqua member, the better.

    She looked down and saw Golduck staring up at her, as confused as ever. What was that all about?

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

    Maressa set her bag filled with a wetsuit, clothes and food on the ground. Before she and Golduck left Mauville, there was one more stop she wanted to make. Golduck agreed to accompany her, and lounged on a nearby bench as Maressa stared down the road to where the buildings gradually thinned out and turned into townhouses. How many times had she walked down this road as she grew up? Every day she went to school, she ran or skipped down this old, cracked sidewalk, wearing an oversized blue Eevee backpack. She was the coolest kid in school for having that backpack. And every day, she walked back home, usually accompanied by Psyduck. He slept in too late in the day to greet her when she woke up, but was always happy to walk home with her.

    It was so surreal for her to stand and stare down that road. The green sign still read RHAEADR LANE in faded letters. She remembered driving out with her father when she was eighteen years old, their car filled with furniture and all of her personal things as she prepared to move out of the house to attend college. And as she and her father drove, her mother and younger sister stood on the sidewalk, excited, yet sad to wave goodbye. She was filled with so much excitement then to get out and live in the real world on her own. And now, five years later…

    Maressa sighed. At that moment, she just wanted to go into her parents’ house and explain everything to them, to ask them what to do, how to fix it—they always knew how to fix problems. She just wanted to stay somewhere she knew was safe, with people she knew would never betray her—and it suddenly hurt so much to remember them. Most of the time, she was fine. But now that she thought of them and realized that she didn’t know when or if she could see them again, it was suddenly so painful.

    But she had made her decision. She joined an organization that seemed all right at first, and as time went by, Maressa became more and more aware of how criminal they really were. Even so, she stuck with them and kept working for them—just because something was criminal didn’t meant it was wrong, and if something was lawful, that didn’t mean it was right. Right? At least, that was what she always believed. But after watching and helping Team Aqua destroy homes, assault people and steal artifacts, there was no denying that Team Aqua did not have everyone’s best interests at heart.

    What would her parents say if she were to walk in and explain to them that she had actively taken part in Team Aqua’s projects? And Maressa honestly didn’t know what they would say. Would they really let their own criminal daughter stay with them in their house?

    And she didn’t know what the best thing to do was. She wanted to go home to her parents and tell them—tell someone—the truth. Betty was in Kanto for school, or else Maressa would have no doubts about going home. But a part of her was scared that her parents would not let her leave the house again. They were never the coddling type, but if this proved to them that she wasn’t responsible enough to take actions for herself, they might insist on keeping her home. Or—and Maressa felt this to be the most realistic possibility—they might turn her in to the police. Which could end either with her in jail or captured by one of the teams again.

    Maressa tried putting herself in their shoes, but she couldn’t. She didn’t know what parenting was like, and she didn’t ever think about what she would have to do if she had a law-breaking child—her parents had probably never thought of it, either.

    Maressa closed her eyes and grimaced as tears rose. Facing Team Aqua or Team Magma again was the worst thing that could happen to her now, and she couldn’t risk the possibility. She didn’t know what the best course of action was to take. The only thing she knew that could be right was to find Seaking.

    She was grateful no one else was around, so she wasn’t embarrassed when hot tears started spilling from her eyes. Seaking’s disappearance and Gloom’s passing both came to the forefront of her mind, and, more than before, she felt so raw and heavy inside. She had been worse than useless. One of her Pokemon disappeared, and another had died—both her fault. What would happen to anyone else she got involved with?

    And she knew that Team Aqua would hunt her down for the Orbs and for her betrayal. They were everywhere. So long as she remained in the same place, they would find her, one way or another—and whoever she was with. Even if she wasn’t scared of her parents turning her in, she would endanger them by staying with them, or even just by dropping by.

    One step at a time, she told herself. Once we find Seaking, we’ll figure out what the next step is.

    Turning around, she walked away from her home.
     
  11. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    This chapter felt a bit quieter and calmer than the last few, but a fair amount happens to move things along anyway. The tension in the scene with Tabitha and the Whismur girl was well written, I thought, and I really liked the way she tried to fool Tabitha and Houndoom with the earplug + Whismur combo. It may not have worked, of course, but we definitely got to see how much Tabitha relies on his pokémon for stuff like this, plus the disparity in personalities with Courtney.

    I didn't expect Maressa to run into Tate, for some reason. But it worked really well. The worldbuilding leading up to that, with Team Aqua and Team Magma owning a lot of Hoenn companies and having a presence all over the place without citizens normally noticing, was fascinating. And I'd forgotten how cute Tate was! And his interactions with Maressa were a treat to see. Maressa's got a motherly air about her here, I think, which isn't surprising, given how caring and considerate she is toward her pokémon, too.

    I do have to wonder the logistics of a 10-year-old becoming a gym leader, even one with strong psychic powers. Given the world in this story, it doesn't seem too unreasonable to assume that while Tate and Liza battle, there's some adults pulling strings in the background, keeping the gym running, paying the gym bills, etc. And maybe some other stuff, but I don't know how prominent a gym leader's role in a city is (ie., whether they have a governmental role or not).

    I like Maressa's reasoning here... and there's a lot of truth in the idea, really. Just remembering how society's laws have adapted over the years to make illegal what was once the norm proves that. Mostly I wanted to point out, though, that I like how you portray her struggle of realizing not everything is quite so black and white ever.

    I really, really hope she finds him, somehow. But like. It seems like such a far-fetched goal with how wide the ocean is. I guess you never know. Looking forward to seeing how it plays out.
     
  12. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Another chapter so soon! Nice work. This was a relatively quiet and reflective one, which is nice after so much action and turmoil. A good time to check in with what the major characters have been up to.

    The girl with the whismur in the Magma base definitely makes me think Zinnia, as does her lashing out with a knife when cornered, but other than that she strikes me as a bit less confident/competent than Zinnia would be. (Also, the hair color's obviously wrong, heh.) I think maybe we were introduced to a character with bright pink hair at some point? I just can't remember who that is off the top of my head. One way or another, I have to guess that if it's not Zinnia, it's some Aqua infiltrator, and quite possibly someone Maressa knows.

    This is a cute moment. That poor houndoom trying to figure out how to describe Generic Grunt, haha. It makes sense that pokémon wouldn't be great at distinguishing humans, the same way that people might have trouble telling e.g. sheep apart. With houndoom I'd kind of expect them to be able to smell differences between humans, but any data there wouldn't have helped Tabitha much!

    Nitpick, but having the whistling mentioned twice here is a little odd. You could start with "Mightyena leapt forth..." and it would be implied that it was in response to the whistling.

    I think you mean "covered his ears with his hands," haha. Although you could just say "covered his ears" if you liked; people will tend to assume he'd use his hands for that.

    Tabitha and Mightyena are adorable as always! I'm really interested in finding out how their storyline plays out.

    I liked the part where Maressa considers all the tentacles Team Aqua's put into businesses around Hoenn. It makes sense; large organized crime groups can make a substantial portion of their income off of legitimate (or at least technically legal) enterprises. Most of them go for less wholesome industries than biodegradable plastics, of course. :p It makes me wonder to what extent Aqua's actually funding those sorts of enterprises and not just profiting off them. Like, do they actually support companies that produce ocean-friendly products, fund research into environmental/ocean-related topics, etc.? It would seem consistent with Archie's legitimate interest in saving the ocean, and sets up kind of an interesting moral dilemma. Sure, Team Aqua's a terrorist organization and you want to see it shut down, but they also may have done some good by supporting environmentally-conscious companies.

    I think you just mean "after," not "afterward."

    tbh the Tate encounter felt a little random and contrived to me. He and Maressa certainly could bump into each other like that, but it strikes me as really unlikely, you know? The fact that Tate hasn't taken any of the more logical paths towards dealing with his situation makes it feel more out of place to me. Like, yes, he's ten, and he's disoriented and traumatized, but him not even thinking of trying to find Wattson strikes me as off. I would expect his first instinct to be to someone he knows, if anything. And he's a gym leader! Despite being ten, I would kind of expect him to have a better idea of how to take care of himself.

    I get why you want to have them meet up here, and the actual scene between them is fine, but perhaps you could come up with a more plausible way for it to happen? For example, maybe Maressa's feeling conflicted about the Orbs and toys with the idea of letting Wattson know about them--like maybe leave an anonymouse note or something--and putting it on the league to sort out, and while she's out in front of the gym waffling, Tate, who's already staying there, runs into her? Or actually maybe she just has fond memories from playing near the gym or something and going there is a result of nostalgia and she bumps into Tate, idk.

    And the nostalgia Maressa shows, visiting her old house, is great! I especially liked the opening scene, where she's remembering her eevee backpack and walking home with Psyduck. A nice choice of concrete, evocative details, and it's a cute picture, too. It's heartbreaking that Maressa feels like she can't go home again, and that because she can't forgive herself she feels like her family won't (or shouldn't) be able to forgive her, either. And finding Seaking, or the dissolution of the Teams, won't be able to change that... I hope in the end Maressa's able to be happily reunited with her family! After all, she didn't sign up with the intent of being a criminal, and even though she didn't immediately renounce them when she found out what they were up to, she still did the hard thing and not only decided to leave, but to actively try and foil their plans!

    This is a solid chapter, and one I think plays nicely to your strengths as a writer. Hope your fic-writing continues to be fun! I'm always looking forward to what comes next.
     
  13. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    Glad you enjoyed it! And thanks, I wasn't too confident about that scene ^_^; Yeah I enjoy writing differences with him and Courtney, haha

    Oh thanks! Yeah, as I mention to Negrek below, I feel like their meeting is a little too convenient lol. But I wanted her to ineract with someone outside the teams; I'm glad to see Maressa comes off as a bit motherly in your eyes =)

    My idea is that Tate and Liza's parents are behind a lot of them being Gym Leaders. But yeah I didn't think ten-year-olds would fully function leading and taking care of gyms on their own. And I picture the Pokemon League as separate from the government, but they hold a lot of influence over the general population, at the least.

    I like Maressa's reasoning here... and there's a lot of truth in the idea, really. Just remembering how society's laws have adapted over the years to make illegal what was once the norm proves that. Mostly I wanted to point out, though, that I like how you portray her struggle of realizing not everything is quite so black and white ever.[/quote]
    It's definitely something I believe in lol. But thanks! And yeah, even these teams aren't so black-and-white, and creates a bit of a moral dilemma as Negrek notes below.

    I hope so too :(

    Thanks so much for your review, diamondpearl678! It's always nice to hear from you! I'll have to check out your stuff sometime soon =)


    I'll be totally honest: I know nothing about Zinnia. I never played ORAS and know very little about their story lines (at least in how they're unique from RS). So no, she's not Zinnia lol.

    This is a cute moment. That poor houndoom trying to figure out how to describe Generic Grunt, haha. It makes sense that pokémon wouldn't be great at distinguishing humans, the same way that people might have trouble telling e.g. sheep apart. With houndoom I'd kind of expect them to be able to smell differences between humans, but any data there wouldn't have helped Tabitha much![/quote]
    Thanks =P I kinda want to highlight differences between how humans and Pokemon think and reason in my fic.

    I think you mean "covered his ears with his hands," haha. Although you could just say "covered his ears" if you liked; people will tend to assume he'd use his hands for that.[/quote]
    ... And here is my most embarrassing typo of today. lol thanks for always catching my typing and grammar issues! XD

    Tabitha and Mightyena are adorable as always! I'm really interested in finding out how their storyline plays out.
    Yep! I kinda get my image of Archie from how he's portrayed in Pokemon Special; iirc he's a TV-star there and has a good public image. And while he's keeping himself under wraps here, he's got a good public-relations standing with different businesses and has them on board with his idea of "saving the oceans" and whatnot.

    Yeeeeaaaah, I gotta be honest and say that crossed my mind too. Originally I was going to have him and Maressa meet in different situations, then cut it out, then put it back in under a new situation because I wanted to be able to show their different characters. Since Maressa has largely been interacting with members of either team so far, i wanted to show it with someone else. But I will also admit that the meeting is too contrived--and the more I write this, the more I feel like I stretched too many things and had a lot of it happen "by chance" for this story to happen. So it's something I'm bearing in mind if I ever want to re-write this. Thanks! (y)

    lol I had a blue Eevee backpack in Kindergarten (I wasn't the coolest kid, but I thought I had the coolest backpack. And it was a private school with uniforms so backpacks were a way to show our personalities). But I'm glad this worked for you! And I'm glad that Maressa comes across as a character really struggling with deciding these sorts of things.

    Thanks so much for your critiques and review! I always enjoy reading your feedback =) Looking forward to your new stuff from Salvage!

    Hello! I know I'm back with another chapter so soon, but I really wanted to let one out today because this marks 10 years that I've been on the forums ^_^; Makes me feel old... But I want to thank everyone who follows this fic! It's a joy to be part of this community =)

    NOTE: Sooooo I goofed on the chronology of the scenes between this chapter and the last. I wrote the scenes out of order and when I put them together I didn't put them in the correct order. Oops. The main chunk of this chapter takes course over a few days, and the two scenes at the beginning take place before it. Thus, they would fit better in the previous chapter. So if things seem out of place, it's because they are. I'll leave it as is for a few weeks and then shuffle it around to fix it. I'll just have to ask your forgiveness on this ^_^;



    Chapter 20

    Tabitha raised his head as the door opened and Courtney walked in.

    “Would it kill you to knock before coming in?”

    “Oh come on, it’s not like there’s anything secret here.”

    “It’s my private office.”

    “Yeah, yeah. Anyways, I found out everything that Aqua girl had to say. There was another spy within the squadron that she gave away, and there’s one more within this base. Two are at the one in northern Hoenn, but that’s all she knew about that.”

    “Are you sure?”

    “Positive.”

    Courtney gave Tabitha the spies’ names and descriptions of them. He turned on his headset and sent orders to Mac, who was ranked just below him.

    Tabitha relayed everything Courtney had told him. “Detain them, and get them to tell you everything they know.” After hearing affirmation from Mac, Tabitha switched his headset off and looked up at Courtney. “And did she say anything about releasing Tate?”

    Courtney’s eyebrows furrowed. “No, she didn’t. She didn’t know anything about that. She told me Team Aqua knew we had Tate and Jirachi, and had even found out that Tate had been released. But if Team Aqua had anything to do with it, she didn’t know what it was.”

    Tabitha switched his gaze from Courtney and stared straight ahead. The spy didn’t know?

    He stood up. “Then there must be more of them—maybe not even related to Team Aqua…” he trailed off, his heart racing. Was the security of their team really this bad?

    Courtney waved a hand. “What do you think I’ve been doing all day? After I got her talking in front of the rest of the troops, I grabbed a few of the high-ranking ones and we’ve been interrogating and investigating every person inside this base. The exits have been sealed and there are cameras around every corner. IF the person who let Tate loose is still here, we’ll know before long.”

    Tabitha said nothing; her words didn’t make him feel any better. Courtney was very persuasive and thorough when it came to interrogation, but the fact that their team had already slipped up this much…

    “Also, the girl said some other things you might want to know.”

    Tabitha snapped his head up to look into Courtney’s red eyes. “Like what?”

    “Like the location of one of their bases, and that they currently have a group studying the area west of Pacifidlog. They noticed that teams of archaeologists kept heading that way, including,” and Courtney’s eyes lit up with a mad glint, “Steven Stone.”

    Steven Stone? Why would he go out in the middle of nowhere at a time like this?”

    “I don’t know, but if there’s something that will make him abandon his precious people when they’re hunting us down more than ever, then it must be something serious. People reckon there are a lot of underwater ruins that haven’t been explored until now because of the water currents.”

    “You said west of Pacifidlog?” Tabitha glanced at the map of Hoenn pinned to a wall. “That’s not too far from our base…” If the Pokemon Champion was leaving at a time like this to look at some ruins around there, then he was sure it was worth looking into. “I’ll talk to Maxie and see what he wants me to do. I’ll probably head out with a squadron and try to follow them.”

    “Good luck not getting caught.”

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

    Steven closed his eyes, his chin resting atop his interlaced fingers. The small room at the Pokemon League Headquarters was totally quiet and held nothing but a desk and a few chairs. Windows stood in for walls, allowing one to see clear blue waters cascade down craggy cliffsides, through a lush jungle and empty out into the sparkling sea below. But Steven kept his eyes closed, trying to keep his anger under control. He knew what he would say—he just had to keep his temper in check. He had a plan to fix their blunder, but he dreaded implementing it…

    The door opened, and his eyelids lifted to reveal two slate-grey eyes. Liza and Phoebe stepped in. A bandage stretched across Phoebe’s nose where it had broken, but the two looked fine otherwise—physically. Both of them were downcast, and Phoebe especially looked deeply ashamed of herself.

    The two stepped in front of Steven’s desk. He remained sitting.

    “Tell me if this is correct,” he said, staring at the two of them evenly. “You two made a deal with Team Aqua. You lost the Red and Blue Orbs, and now they have them.”

    “We did it because—“ Liza started.

    “Respond with a yes or a no. I don’t want to hear any ‘because,’ or ‘but.’ Is what I said true, or is it not?”

    Phoebe averted her eyes. Steven was getting heated up, and she wanted to do anything to keep his temper down. “Yes,” she replied in small voice.

    Steven inhaled deeply and closed his eyes again. “Tell me exactly what happened. Don’t give me any reasons as to why, just tell me what you saw.”

    Phoebe explained as much as she could. “… And then one of them—the man, their commander—ran over to me and punched me.” Her brows furrowed. “I suppose he must have taken the Orbs… It took me a few minutes to realize again what was happening, and by then, everyone else was gone, so we started searching for them.”

    “The guy didn’t take the Orbs,” Liza cut in. “Well, he did after he punched you. But then the other Aqua member punched him, and the two of them fought. And then there was this Gloom that was standing in the forest. It watched us the whole time, but once the Team Aqua members fought each other, it ran out and attacked the guy with acid. So the girl Aqua member grabbed the Orbs and then she fell into the river and her Pokemon followed her.”

    Steven held up a hand to bid Liza to stop. “The Team Aqua members attacked each other? And one took the Orbs away from her commander and left him?”

    Liza nodded.

    Steven’s eyebrows furrowed. “Hmm… Odd.” He sat there for a moment, staring forward, the gears in his head turning. Why would one Team Aqua member attack the other and then leave? Was it a mutiny?

    He pursed his lips. He’d have to think on it later. Either way, the Orbs were gone. “And what happened after the Aqua member with the Orbs fell into the river?”

    “Well, her Golduck jumped in the river, and swam to her, and then they both disappeared. I don’t know what happened to them. But the Aqua commander grabbed the Gloom and—“ Liza paused, and Steven could see something haunting her behind those troubled eyes—“he started hurting it. I was worried about Phoebe, so I stayed with her. Her Dusclops grabbed her and took her away because the ground was falling apart and everything was falling into the water. I got on Lunatone and we went with Dusclops and Phoebe.”

    “What happened to the Aqua commander?”

    “He and his Crawdaunt went into the shadows.”

    Steven nodded. With a Dark-type like Crawdaunt, they could go to shadows and dark spots and hide there, undetectable to psychic powers like Liza’s. Steven wasn’t quite sure what it was—Sydney knew much better than he did—but the Pokemon seemed to exist in a different realm when they did so.

    “And once Phoebe said she felt better, we searched the river for the other Aqua member, but we couldn’t find her anywhere. Lunatone and I couldn’t even feel her with our Psychic powers.”

    Steven sighed. If Liza couldn’t even detect the Aqua member, then she really did disappear—unless she had a Dark-type with her, which was plausible. But it would be too late at this point. The river eventually led to Mauville, one of the larger cities in Hoenn. A woman with a Golduck would blend in easily.

    But they would still have to try, even though the police had been practically useless lately. They consistently failed to get any leads on the whereabouts of either Team Magma or Team Aqua, and even when they did, they quickly lost it. Empty bases and abandoned hideouts were all they could find. There had to be a better way…

    Snapping himself out of his train of thought, Steven looked up to see Liza and Phoebe staring at him. “Thank you for telling me everything. You two have been relieved of your positions. Nurse Joy should have finished caring for your Pokemon, and the two of you can return home to your families—or wherever else you may live.”

    Their faces fell. Liza looked heartbroken, and tears trickled down her cheeks as her bottom lip quivered. She said nothing, but started sniffling.

    Phoebe stared in shock. “Relieved?” she echoed. “N—no. How could you--?”

    “How could I? How could you, Phoebe?” Steven stood up, his voice raising as he glared at Phoebe, fire burning behind his eyes. “You betrayed your grandparents, stole some of the most ancient artifacts in the world, knowing full well what they’re capable of, made a deal with a criminal organization that you know is dangerous and didn’t tell anyone. If Team Aqua has those Orbs, then we’re finished! Because of you, we’re all going to either drown or burn to death—not just us, but everyone in Hoenn and eventually on the earth! You should be arrested for what you’ve done, at the very least!”

    He took a few steps away from them, staring out the windows, breathing heavily. “I was wrong to let you become part of the Pokemon League. You’re strong, and smart, but too young. You still don’t understand how the world works.”

    Phoebe cast her eyes down, her heart racing as tears came to her eyes. Next to her, Liza stood, sobbing softly.

    After a minute—still not looking at them—Steven said, “Liza, you may go. I need to speak to Phoebe for a moment.”

    Liza turned and exited the door behind them, leaving the two Elite Four members together.

    Steven turned around and faced Phoebe, who kept her eyes averted. “I need to ask you something completely different.”

    No response.

    “How much do you know about the golems?”

    Phoebe blinked a few times, puzzled. She looked up at Steven. He gazed at her, awaiting a response.

    “The golems?”

    “Yes, Regice, Regirock and Registeel. They’re characters in Hoenn folklore, and there are a few places around the region that claim to hold monuments to them. You’re from one of the oldest families in Hoenn. Do you know anything about them?”

    Phoebe hesitated. “Well, y—yes, I do. But they aren’t normal Pokemon—they’re much more powerful than anything else we know of.”

    “But they do exist?”

    “Oh, yes, I know they do. But Steven, why do they matter right now?”

    “Because,” Steven said as he walked over to the desk. He reached down, and pulled up something wrapped with a purple cloth. Setting it in the desk, he removed the cloth to reveal a thick stone tablet covered with braille. Phoebe gasped.

    “If the Orbs are gone, and Groudon and Kyogre are going to wake up, we need to have some way to protect ourselves.”

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

    Maressa exhaled deeply as she lay down flat on the rock. It was getting late into the afternoon, and she was tired. She, Lanturn, Sharpedo and Golduck left Mauville the same day they arrived there; Maressa refused to stop and sleep anywhere until they were well away from the city. She met up with Lanturn and Sharpedo at the river near Mauville, then the four of them swam through shallow estuaries lined with mangroves. The area was beautiful, but the bug bites were a nightmare. Maressa knew that, were she to wait until nightfall, the area would light up with bioluminescence. But she had no time to wait. She and the Pokemon quickly glided through the estuary until it poured out into the sea. Maressa didn’t really have any idea of where to start looking once they set out; her only desire was to stay close to land.

    She appreciated how easy it was to explore the ocean—at least, it was much easier than she had thought it would be. The heavily-forested shoreline of Hoenn had a number of hostels, primarily for trainers who kept getting lost at sea and needed to return to the mainland. While the trainers needed to show a trainer ID to get free accommodation, Maressa had to pay. Still, it was much better than she could have hoped for. She had plenty of cash from working with Team Aqua to afford it; she was confident she could hold out until her next job.

    It was afternoon by the time she got out of Mauville and met up with Lanturn and Sharpedo, and once she had reached the first little hostel on the shoreline, the black blanket of night already coated the sky. As the four of them swam through the water, Maressa gazed up at the sky. The moon was brighter than she had ever seen it; a halo of white surrounded it, and the sky formed a starry black dome over the earth. Stars and swirls of the galaxy shone visibly in the sky, only dimmed by the light of the moon. Maressa consented to rest her cheek on Lanturn’s back and gaze up at the night. How could she have lived in Hoenn for most of her life and never seen this? And, just above the horizon, the Millennium Comet left a brilliant, fiery streak across the inky sky.

    Once they were at the hostel, Maressa withdrew money from an ATM inside, bought plenty of food for her and her Pokemon—which disappeared in a matter of seconds—and crashed in the room she rented for the night. Waking up at the break of dawn the next morning, she decided to withdraw more money for breakfast—she spent much more money on food the previous night than she had intended to.

    She was about to punch the numbers on an ATM when she stopped, her finger hovering over the keyboard. The screen showed a history of her monetary transactions—mainly of the payments she received from Team Aqua and of the times she had withdrawn cash since then. If she could see a history of her transactions, including where she had withdrawn money from, could they see it, too?

    Her stomach churned. The white screen showed the exact location and time at which she withdrew cash the previous night. She envisioned someone dressed in a Team Aqua uniform staring at the exact same thing from a Team Aqua base, knowing exactly where to go to find her. Team Aqua practically owned her when she was with them—she had no doubt they could see this. She broke out in a cold sweat and suddenly became starkly aware of everyone around her. If someone looked at her for longer than a second, she instantly became suspicious. Were any of the people here Team Aqua spies? Were they looking for her? Would they knock her out in her sleep and force her to go back with them?

    Maressa punched in the numbers and withdrew the cash. She needed it; she would just make sure to not come back to the hostel and to stay far away from it. She didn’t know how far away others were, but she didn’t care at the moment. She and her Pokemon needed to get away.

    Maressa got breakfast for her and her Pokemon, got some food to hold the four of them up throughout the day, and headed out of there. Hours later, her Lanturn dropped her off on a small, flat rock in open water while Golduck and Sharpedo tried to find out about Seaking’s whereabouts. Maressa, in her pale grey wetsuit, laid back on the rock. She had forgotten how tired swimming made her…

    It was a bit of a shock for her going in the ocean again. If she paused and peered straight down into the depths of the water—so dark she couldn’t see past her hips—and became aware of how far away the bottom was, her stomach felt queasy and she broke out in a cold sweat. But she clung to her Pokemon the entire time, usually either Lanturn or Sharpedo. As her Pokemon were much more adept at ocean exploration than she was, she would usually wait on some sandbar or rock outcrop with one of them while two others went and looked for Seaking.

    The more they explored, the more Maressa realized that the sea was anything but empty. Looking out from the rocky outcrops of Lilycove just a few weeks previous, she dreaded the prospect of venturing into the vast, empty, blue expanse. But it was full of a lot more people than she had realized—almost everywhere she went, she saw young trainers clumsily holding on to their Pokemon that they had just taught how to Surf from an HM, trying to find islands with gyms or the Pokemon League itself. There were plenty of trainers swimming on their own just floating in the water, letting the current move them where it willed. Wild Pokemon were everywhere, although it was mostly just Tentacool and Wingull. Maressa noted, with bitterness, that her wetsuit wasn’t totally effective at protecting her from Tentacool stings. And overall, the sea was shallow enough that there little islands and outcroppings of rock everywhere Maressa went. She was currently at the deepest part they explored so far—far too deep for any of her Pokemon but Lanturn to go into—but on the horizon, the shoreline was still in sight.

    She looked over and saw Lanturn floating at the water’s surface, turning happily in little circles. Maressa’s eyes roved over to her the bags filled with her things, and she thought of the Orbs. Her mood turned dark, and she grumbled as she buried her face in the crook of her elbow.

    What was she to do? Follow your heart. Do what’s right, she was always told. But what was right? What separated something right from wrong? She didn’t know who could be trusted with the Orbs—she certainly didn’t believe in herself—and at the moment, her heart told her to find Seaking and to keep her Pokemon together.

    Maressa turned over onto her back and stared up at the pale blue sky dotted with clouds and multitudes of Wingull and felt smaller than she ever had been before. She turned her head and saw Lanturn floating idly nearby. Did Pokemon have the same sort of doubts about doing the right thing all the time?

    Turning her pale brown eyes back to the Orbs, Maressa grimaced. More than anything, she just wanted to cast the two of them off into the sea and never worry about it again. Let it be someone else’s responsibility. It would be so much easier to turn a blind eye to them and never think of them again.

    Maressa recoiled at the thought and covered her face with her hands. She couldn’t just throw away responsibility; she took the Orbs and betrayed Team Aqua. She should at least try to keep them safe and do what she could to stop her old team. Besides, whether she had the Orbs or not, Team Aqua would try to find her—she just had to think of a way to keep the Orbs safe from them.

    Maressa lowered her hands and faced the sky again. Why couldn’t she just throw away responsibility without a problem? What force made her decide to do what was “right?” And how did her conscience know what was “right” and “wrong” in the first place?

    She snapped out of her reverie and looked up as Golduck swam over and climbed onto the rock next to her. He looked worried and immediately told Maressa that there were several submarines in the area. Most of them were not very deep, but they were all heading west. Maressa saw Sharpedo’s black dorsal fin stick out of the water as he swam up to them.

    Golduck pointed to the small speck sticking out of the waves far away and told Maressa that it was another Sharpedo, and that it was watching them.

    Maressa paused, not sure of what to make of all this information. “Ships? Why so many? … And a Sharpedo? But I’ve never seen wild Sharpedo act like that and just sit still.”

    Golduck quacked. The Sharpedo wasn’t wild, it was trained by humans.

    Fear gripped Maressa’s heart. “It is? Are you sure?”

    Golduck nodded. The Sharpedo was some sort of lookout.

    Maressa stared straight ahead. Someone’s Sharpedo as a lookout… Several ships…

    Grabbing the sack with the Orbs, Maressa held them out to Lanturn. “Lanturn, I want you to take these and get as far away from here as you can. Go as deep as you want—but dim your light.”

    Lanturn grabbed the sack in her mouth, looking at Maressa uncertainly. Why did she have to leave with the Orbs? Why couldn’t Maressa come with?

    “The Sharpedo is probably watching me. If there are Team Aqua members nearby, we need to make sure that they don’t get the Orbs, no matter what. Relax,” she said with a soft smile. “I still have Golduck and Sharpedo with me. They’ll keep me safe.” So saying, she reached down and patted Lanturn’s head before the Electric-type swam away.

    “Golduck, you wanna go see what that Sharpedo is about?” Maressa asked. Golduck nodded, and swam away.

    “Sharpedo, stick nearby me.” Sharpedo growled, and disappeared beneath the waves.

    Maressa sat and watched the waves gently crash, forming foamy white tops on the grey-blue sea. When she saw the speck disappear, she stood up, her body tensing.

    A Sharpedo—similar to hers, but much smaller—leapt out of the water right towards Maressa, his mouth open wide to display hundreds of serrated teeth. Maressa dropped to the ground as it sailed over her and landed on the rock about ten feet away. The Sharpedo growled and tried to hop over to Maressa, snapping its jaws at an alarming rate.

    But Maressa had tamed a Sharpedo before, and so she ran over to it and threw her weight on it, her wetsuit protecting her from the worst of the Pokemon’s rough skin. She pressed down as hard as she could with her arms, trying to pin the Pokemon down and keep it out of water as long as she could. From the top of its dorsal fin to the bottom of its pectoral fin, it was perhaps five feet tall. Maressa panted, sweat beading on the top of her forehead as the Dark-type struggled beneath her.

    “You wanna tell me why you were spying on me?” she asked. She knew she wouldn’t be able to understand it, as she could only understand her own Pokemon—as it was with most trainers. But maybe her Pokemon could understand it and relay information to her—

    As the thought crossed her mind, the Sharpedo shot a stream of water from its mouth, rocketing itself and Maressa into the ocean. Panic shot into Maressa’s heart as she hit the water, but in less than a second, her own Sharpedo darted forward, its mouth enclosing around the smaller one. Maressa frantically swam to the surface and watched her Sharpedo zip around, shaking and crunching on the smaller Sharpedo in its jaws.

    Maressa swam back over to the rock to see Golduck get out. Once he tried talking to the Sharpedo, it swam towards her. It was much faster than himself, so it took him a while to catch up to it—though Maressa’s Sharpedo had already taken care of things.

    Golduck glanced up at the sky, and his vermilion eyes widened, horrified.

    “What?” Maressa asked.

    But she had the answer to her own question as soon as she looked up and saw the same group of Wingull circling overhead as before. She felt guilty for not giving it a second thought when she first saw them.

    She gulped. “Those aren’t wild, are they?” she asked in a small voice.

    Golduck quacked softly. No, he didn’t think they were.

    “Sharpedo!” Maressa called.

    Her Pokemon looked over at her, the smaller Sharpedo gasping from within his jaws.

    “Knock him out real quick, we gotta go!”

    Her Sharpedo only stared blankly at her. A second later, Maressa heard thunderous splashing behind her and wheeled around to see a dark blue submarine emerge from the ocean depths.

    Maressa’s throat tightened; her insides knotted themselves. There seemed to be nothing left to do. Golduck moved in front of her, staring defiantly at the ship, determined to defend his owner to the end.

    The hatch of the submarine opened, and the first person to come out had wild red hair tied back by a blue bandana.

    “Maressa!” Shelly called. She jumped out of the hatch and ran across the top of the submarine, leaping impressively from the edge of the submarine to the flat rock Maressa and Golduck stood on.

    Maressa put her hand on Golduck’s shoulder and whispered, “Do nothing unless I say so.”

    Shelly ran to Maressa and—Maressa couldn’t believe it. Shelly was smiling.

    She stopped right before Maressa and Golduck, looking relieved and ecstatic. “You’re okay!”

    Maressa stared.

    Shelly laughed and opened her arms. “What? Didn’t think you’d see us again so soon?”

    “Well—no,” Maressa admitted. Beside her, Golduck and Sharpedo merely stared blankly at Shelly.

    Shelly laughed. “We didn’t really intend to find you out here, either. I mean, after Matt—“ Shelly cut herself off and closed her eyes. The smile vanished from her face and she looked more frustrated than Maressa had ever seen. Shaking her head, she opened her eyes and said, “Well, before anything else, let me hear your side of the story about what happened.”

    “My side?”

    “Yes. Of course, Matt was able to find us more easily and return to us, and as you were left alone with two Pokemon League members chasing you, I’d expect you to lay low for a bit. But anyway, come inside, then you can tell me all about it.”

    “And what was this about?” Maressa asked, pointing to the small Sharpedo dangling from the jaws of her own.

    “Oh,” Shelly said absentmindedly. She took out a Pokeball and withdrew her Sharpedo. “We’ve been keeping an eye out for any nearby civilians who might spot us. We have recorders attached to our lookout Pokemon so they can tell us if anyone’s around. Some Wingull thought they recognized you, and when you spoke into Sharpedo’s recorder, I knew it was your voice. But Sharpedo didn’t recognize you, so he tried to scare you away.”

    “Tried to take my head off, more like,” Maressa grumbled. But Shelly didn’t seem to hear.

    “Didn’t you have a third Pokemon?” the Aqua commander asked, looking at Golduck and Sharpedo.

    “Yeah, Lanturn is diving at the moment.”

    “Do you know where? We can send a Pokemon to go retrieve her while we’re in the sub.”

    “I got it,” Maressa said, and before Shelly could say anything else, she went to Sharpedo and bent down. Looking him directly in his large, red eyes, she said slowly, “Sharpedo, I want you to dive down and find Lanturn. Tell her to come back to this submarine with no one and nothing else. You got that? Make sure that it’s just her.

    Sharpedo stared back blankly. He knew Maressa was trying to tell him something, but wasn’t sure what it was.

    Golduck came over and quacked softly, telling Sharpedo that Lanturn was to leave the Orbs behind. Sharpedo growled in affirmative, and dove into the sea.

    Maressa stood up slowly, her heart pounding with nervousness as she faced Shelly. Fortunately, her commander didn’t seem to understand what Golduck had said.

    “All right, we can’t dawdle around all day. Your Pokemon will find us pretty easily; this submarine isn’t exactly subtle.” With that, Shelly turned and got back onto the submarine, waiting for Maressa to join her.

    Maressa and Golduck exchanged a look. It was as if her flows of thought and feeling had stopped working. What could they do? There was nothing to do but to go with it, and pray that things would somehow work out.
     
  14. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner Peace to the Mountain

    Oh Phoebe. I want to say "what was she thinking", but honestly? I don't think she was thinking. Just hoping. Desperately hoping. I got the sense her judgment was impaired, but apparently it was even moreso than suspected. Had to be, to let her knock out her own grandparents. I think Steven did the right thing... more or less. Maybe a suspension instead? Idk. I'm not the champion. :p

    Interesting applications of the dark type, meanwhile! The whole "going to the shadows" thing is always a neat idea. I wonder, is that what Sharpedo did for Marissa, or was that just sort of a general dark-type area of effect thing blotting out the mental signatures of anything close enough (or anything Sharpedo wishes to hide)?

    RIP Gloom, meanwhile. Shame he didn't hear her there at the end. Or did hear, but just didn't comply. Incidentally the fact that Liza couldn't go into detail about exactly how Matt killed Gloom has the effect of causing me to imagine that it was really freaking brutal.

    I wonder if those orbs will stay in the ocean. Something tells me no, no they will not. But I suppose we shall see!
     
  15. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    It's a game of wits and resources, my friend. :p And it seems Team Magma's got a fair amount of high level members that disagree with each other's values, which don't seem to help... I like that dynamci you have going, if I haven't mentioned that before.

    Ohh, I love Steven Stone. I already like where this is going, and I want to know why, too. ;P

    Ayee, and there he is! He's got quite an assertive tone, which I'd expect from someone as high in the League hierarchy as him, and just based off of his demeanor I've seen in canon. He definitely has every right to fire Phoebe and Liza, despite the justification for their actions. Your explanation for why a young gym leader isallowed from my last review makes sense, though all of this still makes it clear to me someone young is a liability. Then again, I guess so is everyone who's possibly in a situation like Phoebe and led astray.

    I'm unsure here why Steven doesn't properly dismiss them from the conversation after firing them. Doesn't giving Phoebe and Tate more information about where they're going from here mean they could incercept and mess things up further?

    Pretty description here. :3 I'm glad Maressa's able to enjoy it without becoming broody, like she tends to. She deserves some true peace after everything.

    Interesting question. I guess out of all the 'mons I've seen in this fic, maybe the only one who comes close to thinking that kind of thing on some level consistently is Golduck - you know, when he's looking out for Maressa's best interests, usually.

    Yikes, Maressa's freedom stint didn't last long. D: I guess it's not surprising that Team Aqua would be around as a threat when she's searching for a water-type, but still. Poor girl can't catch a break. Looking forward to seeing how Maressa handles this!
     
  16. Cutlerine

    Cutlerine Gone. Not coming back.

    You know, I'm glad you requested a prize review from me, because honestly my reviewing Drowning is way overdue! I'm sorry to say that I've, uh, fallen behind quite drastically, a state of affairs I'm going to have to correct eventually, but for the time being I've just read a little way back so as to put this latest chapter in context, since I feel it would be kind of a bad review if I went into it without any preparation at all. So! Let's get started.

    There are, as so often, a lot of cool little details here – made the more cool, I think, by the fact that they're spun slightly differently to their usual presentation in fic. Like, dark-types being undetectable by psychics is a fairly standard bit of fanon, but shadow powers are more usually attributed to ghost-types, and much as I like that kind of thing I also really like seeing people take a different approach to the ones I normally see. Dark typing to me feels like a question of attitude above all, like there's a strong suggestion that they're here to break rules and play unfairly, and I can totally see that translating into a capacity to skulk with supernatural efficacy.

    I also really like the idea of raising the golems as a defence against the super-ancient pokémon! This is a thing that I think I used once in a very old fic and which I haven't seen much of in fic since – which is a great shame, because honestly, using giant magic mecha to fight massive climate-altering monsters is a concept that I feel we could definitely stand to see more of in fiction. Like, that the pokémon world allows for such a thing to occur is a point in its favour, and not one that gets capitalised on enough, imo. So I'll be interested to see how that develops from here – because whether or not we see any giant monster fighting, I'm sure we will get to see something of the complex moral ambiguities that surround the usage of that kind of power.

    That's as good a segue as any into my next point, about how I like the way a large chunk of this chapter is devoted to picking up and developing the thread you've previously established of the difficulty of moral action, and moreover, the inescapability of immoral action, forced upon you by systemic and material circumstance. Okay, that last part was really more of a thing in the last chapter, where Maressa has a moment wondering about how far Aqua and Magma have penetrated into society and whether or not any of their more legitimate interests are, y'know, actually legitimate, but the first part still stands. Maressa continues to wonder about whether or not she – or anyone – can be trusted with power, or even the potential for it; more strikingly, imo, there's that whole meandering, cloudgazing kind of thing. She spends a lot of time staring up at the sky in this chapter, creating this kinda vertiginous sense of being lost in something huge and weird – something that you make explicit once or twice, I think, so I don't think I'm overreaching in connecting these particular dots. (I probably am overreaching if I try to connect this with the thing in ORAS' Delta Episode of staring up into the sky as a way of escaping from/resolving problems, but y'know, I like that the story fits into the broader thematic pattern of its source material. That's always something that I like in fic.)

    Let's be real, Steven would abandon his firstborn son if you said there was a cool rock in it for him. :p No, but serious point: your Steven is an interesting one; when I think of his in-game representation I tend to recall more his … oblivious superiority, I guess – the way ORAS painted him as the kind of person who absolutely does not recognise that his ability to blow off all his responsibilities to look for rocks is down to the fact that his net worth is greater than that of a fair-sized town, and who doesn't really see why other people can't have as pleasant a life as he does. But there is that other side to him too, that kind of extremely assertive well, there's something bad happening here and I will stop that thing right now, and that's a side to him that I probably overlook a little. It's cool to see it explored more fully here, with this Steven who is defiantly not the kind of guy who abandons his League position for months on end to pursue his hobby, or who confidently assumes that yeah, Wallace will probably cover for me, it's fine guys.

    I do wonder why he fires Phoebe and then immediately reveals the League's big plan to her, though. That feels like a massive opsec violation. If he's genuinely interested in bringing her in as some kind of consultant on this project, it would make sense to maybe remove her from her Elite Four role (or suspend her; either way, the point would be to make it clear to her and anyone watching that this is quite a strict reprimand) and then to quietly move her into a more behind-the-scenes position so that he can make use of her expertise in the matter of the golems.

    Sometimes, too, there's a slight tendency towards overwriting in your prose, which leads you to create slightly odd phrases like 'A bandage stretched across Phoebe's nose', or 'Maressa consented to rest her cheek on Lanturn's back'; in these instances, the verb isn't wrong, exactly, but it's being used in an unusual way and in consequence reads rather oddly. 'Consent', for instance, comes with two sets of connotations: it tends to either be used of someone in a position of power deigning to do something asked of them by someone who is not, or of someone who is signalling clearly that someone else is allowed to engage in some kind of activity. Neither really seems appropriate here, and so the sentence seems kinda off.

    Finally, here are some more minor nitpicks I noted down as I read through:

    Missing an 'a' between 'in' and 'small'.

    As this paragraph begins in the story's present (which is in our past) and then goes further back into the story's past, I think that from the second sentence on, it should probably be in the pluperfect (i.e. 'She, Lanturn, Sharpedo and Golduck had left Mauville the same day they arrived there', etc.). I appreciate that this could get clunky fast, though, so I think you could get away with just starting that segment out in the pluperfect and seguing back into the perfect as you go.

    That should either be 'Sharpedo, stick nearby' or 'Sharpedo, stick near me'; it seems like these two have collided here and made something new.

    I think interrupting the action to describe the sharpedo robs the attack of its impact a little; it seems much less sudden that way. Perhaps move that description to the next sentence or something? Also, I think that 'towards' probably ought to be 'at'.

    That should be 'closing', rather than 'enclosing'. Or you cold cut 'around' and leave 'enclosing'. That would also be grammatical. Either way, in this section Maressa's sharpedo gets referred to as 'it' a lot, which, given that he's consistently been a 'he' throughout the fic to date, I imagine is a typo.

    And those are all my notes! A solid chapter in a very solid fic, I think. I'm going to have to reacquaint myself more thoroughly with this soon!
     
  17. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    Review responses!

    Sike Saner
    It's the latter; I have this headcanon of Psychic powers not working on Dark-types at all, or on those with them. So since Maressa was holding on to Sharpedo, Liza's and Lunatone's psychic powers couldn't detect them. And maybe I should make my explanation of that clearer somewhere in my fic <.<

    Yeah... I have it planned out how it happened, but because I don't want this to become a gritty-ultradark-superfic I decided I'll not put it in.

    diamondpearl876
    lol Was there something with Tabitha's and Courtney's interactions that tipped you off to that? ;P And thank you!

    TBH I'm not sure how young Phoebe is canonically. I always had the idea she was like... 17? And I feel like people that young in these sort of situations are bound to make rash/very flawed decisions. And I'm glad you like how Steven Stone came across!

    Liza's already gone, he's just speaking to Phoebe. And since he needs her help with the golems, he's explaining why he wants to wake them up.

    lol Golduck's mentality is mostly "protect Maressa no matter what" so when she's making decisions that put her in danger it constantly frustrates him because he wants to protect her but also wants to obey her. And yeah, I've thought of Pokemon has having an overall different mentality from humans.

    Thanks! I'll let you know that she won't be with them long--but that doesn't mean things will be easier for her lol

    Cutlerine
    Oh yay! I'm glad that Steven's decision (this one, at least) is getting taken on well. I was on the fence about including it, since I didn't really want to as time went on, but I have things planned for it to be in there. I hope it doesn't feel like it's dragging the fic on too much. Thanks for encouragement! And I feel like the golems are some of the least-seen legendaries. Maybe because they don't have faces?

    The morer I wrote this and planned it, the more I realized that morality is a big part in it--because canonically TA and TM are well-intentioned teams... they just lack the logic lol. So I feel like the fics about them (or any evil team/anything other than a slice-of-life) will have to deal with questions of morality. And nah, you're not overreaching connecting those particular dots ;P But you are in the one about the Delta episode, as I haven't actually played ORAS ^_^;

    Okay so he left the world in a time of peril to go into Meteor Falls to study the rocks there... maybe you are not overreaching on this point either lol. But Steven was always one of my favorites (he's so friendly when you're just a beginning trainer in RS! and he's got a cool design and cool Pokemon) and I didn't think having him abandon all responsibility would have him make the best impression on readers lol. Glad you like him!

    Yeah, you and diamondpearl876 both brought this up and I think you're both right--he doesn't quite fire her and keeps her around and has work for her to do in practice. Maybe I should change it to a suspension or something of the like.

    Very fair; I'll keep this in mind as I write more. Thank you for your helpful critique! ^_^

    I tried to make "it" be the unfamiliar Sharpedo. I know it probably wasn't my best choice to make a Sharpedo come after Maressa when she already has one; it was just one I thought of since Team Aqua uses them a lot and their fast swimmers and common in Hoenn. But your point is noted, and thank you!

    Thank you so much for your review ;_; I was so touched by this and I'm so grateful you stopped by to read and actually review my fic--something I know doesn't stand up to the ones you write, so when you had good things to say about it, I was so taken aback. Again, thanks so much for your critiques and affirmation, I truly appreciate them!

    Okay, so I have the next two chapters written, I just haven't posted them yet... I want to improve them but I'm not sure how to. And my most favorite part of the story is coming up!! I'm very excited to write that and share it here. Either way, the next chapter will be up soon. Thanks to everyone who's been reading and reviewing!
     
  18. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    Alllrighty, here's the next chapter! I should be able to get one more up before the end of the year--I just also need to remember to get the Gift Exchange stuff done as well ._. I hope you all enjoy!

    Chapter 20

    Steven gazed across the table at Tate. The day before, word came to him that Tate had been found, and in the most unlikely of places: the Mauville City Gym. The poor kid had been taken to the hospital, and once he was released, was immediately brought home to Mossdeep City, where his family awaited him. Once he heard that Tate was back, Steven went to Mossdeep and asked Tate’s family if he could visit and apologize to the boy for his ordeal—and ask him questions, if he was in a suitable state.

    Though Mossdeep was also his hometown, Steven had to forego meeting his own family. The crisp sea air and taste of salt on his tongue instantly made him feel at home, as did feeling the humidity that seeped from the murky waters of the mangrove marshes and seeing the old Cliffside caves he used to play in throughout his childhood. And though Steven would have loved to visit his parents and younger brother, he knew that meeting with Tate was more urgent.

    Later that afternoon, Steven was in the kid’s house, sitting cross-legged on a cushion, listening as Tate spoke. A Kirlia, belonging to the boy’s mother, sat with them. The red horns on his head glowed as he kept the boy in a calm, soothed state. Perhaps it was because of the Pokemon’s power keeping the boy’s emotions under control, but Tate spoke in an almost methodical way. Steven made a mental note to personally find a therapist for him.

    As Tate spoke of his time in Team Magma—of the people he saw while he was there, and of someone who helped him out—the glazed-over look on his face suddenly vanished. His bright blue eyes lit up, and he looked scared.

    “Jirachi!”

    Steven sat up straight. “What is it?”

    “He—he’s so angry, I can tell. I felt him, but he was so faint. But he’s so strong, and he’s so mad! He—“ The boy stopped speaking, his eyes darting around the room frantically. He jumped to his feet. “I think he’s going to do something horrible! I need to get him to stop!

    “Jirachi! Stop it!” he shouted.

    He stood for a second, panting. “I can’t reach him! He won’t listen to me—I don’t think he can feel me! Guys, I need you to help!” He took three Pokeballs out of his pocket and sent out a Solrock, a Xatu and a Slowking. “I need you guys to help get Jirachi to listen to me, or I think he’ll kill someone!”

    The three Pokemon looked slightly confused, but all closed their eyes. All Steven could see was the four of them standing still. But after a few seconds, beads of sweat rolled down Tate’s forehead, and he breathed heavily. His face turned bright red, and veins stuck out on his neck and forehead. None of his Pokemon could sweat, but each of them kept his eyes tightly squeezed shut.

    All of their eyes opened at once. Tate looked horror-stricken and gasped. “No! No, he can’t do that! Jirachi, Jirachi STOP!” he shouted.

    Steven heard footsteps, and Tate’s mom appeared in the doorway, looking at her son with concern. “Tate! What’s happening?” she asked fearfully.

    “Jirachi, don’t hurt anyone else! Just come home, please!

    At Tate’s last word, Steven felt a ripple of energy through the air, as though he stepped into an electric field. Tate’s mental presence—merely brushing his mind before—pressed strongly on his own, and Steven clutched his head in pain.

    And then it vanished. The presence was still there, but it was one of overwhelming joy. A bright gold-and-silver ball of light hung in the air before Tate. His blue eyes shone as tears filled them. He laughed and embraced the little imp. Steven couldn’t help but smile—Tate’s joy infected his own mind, lifted his spirits, and made him laugh with excitement. There was a sense of wholeness, as though a part of his soul that had been missing his whole life was suddenly found. He felt ways that he didn’t know were possible, using parts of his heart that he didn’t know existed. He felt alive.

    In addition to Tate’s infectious joy, Steven was struck dumb with disbelief. He could hardly believe it—it was Jirachi. A creature that everyone thought was only myth—but it was here, right in front of him! A Pokemon that had been around since perhaps the creation of earth itself… What was the proper way to react? And Steven couldn’t help but wonder what sort of rocks and caves Jirachi hid away in those thousands of years…

    After a moment, Steven saw their joy but no longer felt it. Jirachi and Tate closed off their psychic connections from others. A million ideas ran through Steven’s head at once. Choosing his words carefully, he spoke.

    “It’s good to see you’re all right, Jirachi. But why didn’t you come to Tate sooner? Why did you wait so long?”

    Jirachi stared at Steven with large brown eyes. Steven felt an alien presence touch his mind, and an immense power hiding beneath it. A soft, childlike voice spoke.

    I slept, the voice echoed in his head. Team Magma had me attack Team Aqua for days. It made me really tired. I had to sleep a lot. And I wasn’t always allowed to check on Tate. Sometimes, they sent me right out once I woke up. But the last time I checked on Tate, he was gone. So now I’m here!

    “You were going to Team Aqua’s bases?” Steven’s mind ran a mile a minute. If Jirachi was at Team Aqua’s bases, then it might know where the Orbs were. He felt like this was a bad time to bring it up, but Jirachi was to disappear that very night. It was his last chance. “Do you know anything about the Red and Blue Orbs? About where Team Aqua might be holding them?”

    Steven held his breath. If they could get the Orbs, then he wouldn’t need the legendary golems at all, or the drawbacks that they came with.

    The Pokemon looked dolefully at Steven and shook its golden head. I can’t do anything about those. The Team Magma leader wanted them, too, but they belong to Pokemon different from me. They’re not normal objects. I don’t have power over them.

    Steven’s heart sank. “You don’t? But… You don’t even know where they are? You didn’t see if Team Aqua had them? I’m almost sure that they do.”

    Jirachi frowned. I didn’t see them. But if they had them, wouldn’t they have already woken up Kyogre?

    This ultimately didn’t do much to lift Steven’s spirits. He wouldn’t consider Hoenn safe unless he knew for sure where the Orbs were.

    Tate held Jirachi in his arms and said, “Come on, Jirachi, let’s go play!”

    “Tate, wait! I still need to talk—“

    But Tate wouldn’t have any of it. Without Kirlia keeping his emotions in check, tears fell from his eyes and he started sobbing. “No!” he cried. “Today is Jirachi’s last day, and this is the first time I can talk to him! He’s going to leave soon, and I haven’t had any time with him at all! Just leave us alone!” The two of them then vanished in a flash of light.

    Steven and Kirlia stood there, staring in shock at the place the duo had vanished. Steven gritted his teeth—both out of frustration and fear. Jirachi was the one Pokemon who could bring them the Orbs, but Tate refused to listen to reason. If either Team had the Orbs, then using the legendary golems would be Hoenn’s only hope at staying safe—and Steven knew what that meant for him…

    His entire plan was going to be messed up because of a child! Did Tate honestly care more about playing with a Pokemon than about saving the world?

    Walking over to the open door, Steven took a Pokeball off his belt and unleashed his Metagross. The Steel-type opened its great mouth, taking a good minute or so to yawn before gazing blearily at its owner with blood-red eyes. Why did Steven bring him to this place? And why at this time of the day? No one was up and about.

    “It’s not early, Metagross, you just sleep in too late. And I need you to locate Tate and Jirachi.”

    Metagross’s steel-slab eyelids closed as he used his psychic energy to feel all living beings nearby. They opened again a second later. He growled. The boy and the Pokemon were on a nearby hill, playing under a tree.

    “Let’s go talk to them.”

    Metagross stuck out an iron leg in front of Steven. Perhaps it would be better if Metagross talked to them; Metagross heard them shouting from within his Pokeball, and they didn’t seem too keen on listening to Steven.

    Steven pursed his lips. “Fine. I trust you.” As Metagross floated off, Steven called out, “Be gentle, but be firm! Don’t do anything that will make them run away—“ Metagross cut him off with a deep rumble, affirming that he could handle it.

    Crossing his arms, Steven stared after his Pokemon as it disappeared over the green grass. Metagross probably did stand a better chance than Steven did of talking to Jirachi, but Steven had a hard time entrusting jobs like this to anyone else.

    Steven looked over his shoulder to see Tate’s mom and Kirlia staring at him, looking uncertain. He sighed; he really didn’t look forward to explaining this.

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

    Forty-five minutes later—after which Steven spent awkwardly explaining the Pokemon League’s situation with Teams Aqua and Magma to Tate’s mother and talking about hiring a therapist for him—Steven looked up at a tapping sound. Metagross hovered just outside the house, looking through a window at his trainer. The Steel-type was far too big to get through the doorway, and was poking the glass panes with an iron claw.

    Steven excused himself and went outside. “How did everything go? Did you talk to them?”

    Metagross nodded and rumbled. He first spent thirty minutes playing tag with Tate and his Pokemon, and then Jirachi consented to talk to him—they said that they would talk to Steven, too, for a little bit.

    Metagross led his trainer over some hills to where the boy and the legendary Pokemon played. As Steven approached Jirachi, his heart pounded in his chest. Could Jirachi really make any wish come true? What could Steven wish for? For Teams Aqua and Magma to be destroyed? For their leaders to be imprisoned? For the safety of everyone in Hoenn? For him to never need to awaken the golems?

    As Steven and Metagross approached, Jirachi looked up and gazed gently into Steven’s eyes. I see your thoughts, Steven. I see your heart. And I know what you are afraid of. And I can’t promise what the future will be like. There are some things that are too late to wish for. It took me six days to destroy several Team Aqua bases. I can’t destroy both teams in only a few hours. I don’t even know if I can get their leaders and bring them to you. And I can’t do anything after I’m asleep. Then you’re on your own.

    Jirachi’s words sank into Steven. Whatever he might have Jirachi do now could be undone later on. If he had all of the Teams’ commanders and leaders imprisoned, they could always get out. There may always be members of Team Magma and Team Aqua lying hidden, waiting to free anyone imprisoned…

    “But…” he said weakly, “can’t something be done? Can’t you get the Orbs manually? I’m almost sure that Team Aqua has them.”

    Jirachi looked at him curiously. I don’t have time to look for a Team Aqua base. Team Magma told me were some were; I had to find the rest on my own, and it could take days just to find one.

    Steven paused; he looked off into the distance where the sea sparkled in the midday sun, thinking hard.

    He would speak of it with other members of the Pokemon League and see what they thought. He was at a loss of what to do. Bowing his head, he thanked Jirachi, and apologized again for failing to keep him safe.

    Not your fault, Jirachi’s voice echoed in his head as he walked away. Tate and Liza were the only Pokemon League members in Mossdeep, anyway.

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

    Night blanketed the sky over Mossdeep; people gathered outside everywhere to gaze at the comet on its last day. Steven, Drake, Glacia, and Sidney made their way over to the white rock that people had gathered around just seven days ago. Now, the crowd was so thick Steven could hardly make his way through it—he almost never had trouble getting through crowds. Cameras, reporters, and TV crews thronged about the white rock and the little boy there with the luminescent Pokemon floating next to him.

    After talking to Jirachi that afternoon, Steven held a video conference with other members of the Pokemon League, all of whom wanted to come to Mossdeep once they heard Jirachi was back and would disappear that night. The majority of them were too far away to make it in time, and only those in Evergrande City were close enough to get there before nightfall. The conference took hours—Phoebe, Tate and Liza were absent, but eleven people was still too many. Everyone had different ideas of what to wish for, none of which Steven was confident would work.

    By the time the conference ended, the rest of the Elite Four decided they would come to Mossdeep and see if there was anything that could be done.

    The four of them looked at the duo at the white rock. The boy and Jirachi ignored everyone around them and had eyes only for each other. Tate cried.

    “I don’t understand why you have to go,” he said thickly. “We hardly had any time together! Can’t you just stay here with me?”

    Jirachi looked sadly at his friend, saying things that only the boy could hear. After a few seconds, Tate burst into more tears and hugged the golden imp.

    Steven didn’t want to break up the tender moment, but knew he had no choice. His sympathy was severely limited by the urgency of their greater situation. Jirachi was the only Pokemon who could do anything about Team Magma or Team Aqua, and he was about disappear for the next millennium. Steven had to try.

    Tate looked up as the Pokemon Champion approached, but all he could do was keep hugging Jirachi and cry.

    “Steven, please make Jirachi stay,” he sobbed.

    “Tate, if I could do so, then I would. But I can’t—Jirachi is outside of anyone’s control. But Tate, please listen to me. Jirachi is about to leave, but Team Magma and Team Aqua are still out there and they might awaken dangerous Pokemon and cause a lot of destruction soon.”

    Sidney spoke up. “Jirachi saw a lot of Team Magma members before, right? Can you find them again and bring them right here?”

    The imp closed his eyes for a second, his tags fluttering, then opened them again. I can’t sense them. They must have Dark Pokemon with them. Their presence blocks my psychic power—as you know, he finished with a bitter glare at Sidney.

    Glacia said, “What about the Team Aqua members? You saw some of them, right? Can you do anything about them?”

    Jirachi shook his head; he couldn’t sense any of them at the moment, either.

    Drake scowled, looking hard at Jirachi. “Isn’t there something that can be done, though? Another legendary Pokemon besides Groudon and Kyogre—or another object in addition to the Orbs? I feel like there is… I vaguely remember something, but the names and details escape me…”

    “Please,” Steven begged. “Can’t you send anyone to help us? Or tell us what to do?”

    Jirachi closed his eyes for a moment, the tags on his head levitating. Steven felt a wave of energy pulse through him, and when Jirachi opened his eyes, there was a burst of white light—and a completely unfamiliar man standing next to them.

    The man had brown hair that curled slightly, and his dark eyes darted around in bewilderment. His white lab coat was stained red from his shoulder, which was torn up and bleeding freely.

    The Elite Four members had no time to ask questions before a searing pain shot through each of their skulls. Steven saw all of his memories laid bare: growing up on Mossdeep, playing with his little brother, digging in the dirt and studying the rocks outside his home, reading geology and mythology books in his spare time, and learning of a green dragon who could calm raging seas and dim the light of a blazing sun.

    That was it.

    Steven gasped as the psychic hold let go of his mind. His insides churned, and he felt a wave of nausea sweep over him. He had to breathe deeply and calm himself to avoid getting sick. His thoughts organized themselves again, but the image of a vivid green dragon remained at the forefront of his mind. He learned about that dragon growing up—it was one of the central characters in Hoenn myths and fairy tales. But that was all it was: a myth.

    How could he actually believe that anymore? With Jirachi floating in front of him and what Phoebe told him about the golems, he learned that all myths were true—at least to an extent.

    Jirachi gazed at Steven. I think this guy can help. He helped me. And I looked through your memories. You already know what to do. I just made you remember. The Pokemon looked at Tate and smiled. The flap of skin on his stomach opened wide, showing a shocking red eye that gazed around at the people surrounding them. The imp’s body glowed ever brighter, but the silver and gold colors were fading into a pure white. Jirachi rose in the air, a star set against the black canvas of night. But now, I really must go.

    Tate kept his arms outstretched, sobbing hard, begging Jirachi to not leave, but to stay. Why couldn’t he just stay? He and Tate hardly got to play together, but he made Tate happier and more alive than ever before. And Tate promised that he could give Jirachi a comfortable home with good food and place to sleep, if only Jirachi would just stay!

    Eyes sparkling, Jirachi gazed kindly at the boy. A smile remained etched onto Jirachi’s face as his yellow tails wrapped around his body and he disappeared in a shroud of white. The creature dipped into the white rock, vanishing beneath its surface as though it were liquid. Then the white glow faded, and he was gone.

    Tate’s scream was agonizing. He pressed his body against the rock, sobbing hard. “I can’t feel him anymore! I can’t! But he has to be here—he has to be!” His sister was hugging him, tears streaming from her eyes too, though she was much more composed. She gently encouraged him to let go of the rock, to come home with their parents and Pokemon—he still had them, and they all still cared about him!

    But Steven only had thoughts of the shining, slender dragon. He remembered now. As a child, he looked at picture books on Hoenn mythology, and the “Weather Trio” was featured most prominently among the legends. One represented land, one represented water—both were incredibly powerful, gods among beasts, but neither of them held any power over the creature of the sky.

    Rayquaza.

    It was just as prominent as Groudon and Kyogre, but in some ways, overlooked. The Red and Blue Orbs existed to control the behemoth and leviathan, but there was nothing to possess the Ziz. All his picture books said that it rested in the highest room of the tallest tower in Hoenn, and one only had to go up to it to awaken it.

    Steven could hardly believe it. There was a way. If Groudon and Kyogre woke up, then he could summon Rayquaza and return everything to normal!

    He looked around; Sidney, Glacia and Drake all looked rather dazed. Drake’s eyes met Steven’s, and the Champion knew they were thinking the same thing.

    “Tate? Is that you?”

    Steven’s train of thought was cut off as he looked at the bloodied man; he had forgotten all about him.

    Tate looked up and cried, “Derek! Jirachi is gone!”

    “Tate, do you know this man?” Steven asked.

    “Yeah, he saved me from Team Magma. But Derek, you’re covered in blood! What happened to you?”

    Steven eyed him distrustfully. “Who exactly are you?”

    “I’m Derek—I was on Team Magma, but I just betrayed them and they’ll be looking everywhere for me. But please, I need your help. My friend is in danger—they’ll kill her if we don’t do something soon. I can tell you anything you need to know, I know all about Team Magma’s bases, I know where the Red and Blue Orbs are—“

    “You know where the Orbs are?”

    “Sort of, but we have to act now—“

    Steven cut him off. “Come with me, and tell me everything.”
     
  19. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner Peace to the Mountain

    I think, for the most part, it would suck to be in the presence of someone who can like... project their feelings onto you. Make you feel what they do, deliberately or not. But this, specifically? This might not suck.

    Okay, that's kind of adorable.

    Something that grants wishes but isn't actually omnipotent or anything is an interesting concept. Iirc, I've seen wish granters that wouldn't fulfil one, but I think this the first I've seen of something that turned one down on account of literally not being able to do as he's asked. That's if Jirachi was telling the truth, of course, but I honestly think he was.
     
  20. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    Hi everyone; sorry for the long hiatus. This chapter has actually been finished for several months but I didn't get a chance to post it. Brief explanation:

    One of my friends was diagnosed with Lymphoma towards the end of last year. When he was in the hospital, I visited him almost every day. He got very bad, but slowly got a lot better. Then he suddenly took a bad turn and was in the hospital again. He passed away just before Easter. My job also gets busy during the Lent and Easter period, so my time was consumed by work and by visiting him. With all of that being over, I have more time again to focus on other things and have gotten around to writing. I'm working on the next chapter, which is almost done, and hopefully I'll get on a more regular schedule.

    I can't resist writing cutesy trainer-Pokemon interactions.

    Mmm. Yeah, I didn't really equate omnipotent with all-powerful, and having Jirachi just do everything would have seemed too much of a cop-out, I feel (but I still wanted to include it lol) so it seemed reasonable to me. Thanks so much for reading and leaving this review! ^_^

    Here's Chapter 21!


    Chapter 21


    Maressa and Golduck followed Shelly into the submarine through narrow metal halls. Team Aqua members passed by her, shooting curious glances. Shelly led the two into a small room with two large monitors and a few seats.

    “Take a seat,” she said, gesturing to a chair.

    Maressa sat down gingerly while Golduck stood at her side. Though Golduck looked relaxed, Maressa noticed he was staring at Shelly, and she knew he was ready to leap into action at a moment’s notice.

    “Now, how about you tell me you side of the story.”

    “My side?” Maressa asked faintly.

    “Yes, about what happened the other day when you were with Matt and the Pokemon League members.”

    Maressa didn’t know what to say. Her mouth was totally dry. Her mind didn’t seem to work. She spoke slowly, her thoughts forming as they came out of her mouth.

    “Matt and I… We fought Phoebe and Liza. The area was all strange—it was almost stormy, but with no rain. There was a lot of lightning, and pieces of the riverbank were falling into the river.”

    Her mind began to work as she spoke; she could form thoughts more clearly as she played out the scene in her mind’s eye.

    “We all met in the little cave just next to the waterfall, and Phoebe had the Orbs, and the cave just suddenly—it fell apart. We were right next to the entrance, and it’s not that high up, so we were okay. But everything just collapsed around us and we were buried under it all. My Golduck got the two of us out, and Liza and Phoebe looked like they were about to get away. Then Matt and his Crawdaunt got out of the rubble and started fighting Lunatone and Dusclops.

    “So Matt and I fought them, and…” She looked up, straight into Shelly’s red eyes. “They were too strong. We couldn’t beat them. There was one point where her Dusclops picked me up and threw me around—the riverbank was falling into the river, and I ended up falling in, too. Golduck came after me, and the current was too strong to swim against—we were swept away, and… yeah,” she finished lamely.

    Shelly nodded. “And so you got to Mauville and then went into the sea because…?”

    Maressa’s heart knotted. “I wanted to search for Seaking.”

    Shelly sighed and nodded. “Well, that is a much more believable story than what Matt said. He told us that you took the Orbs and tried to fight him to steal them away, and that a wild Gloom started attacking him.” She looked kindly at Maressa. “I know what he thinks about you Maressa, and that he’d be happy to throw you under the bus if it means saving his own skin.” She stood up, pacing around the room. “And I’ve been telling Archie for ages that he shouldn’t give Matt so much responsibility. Oh, I understand why Archie wants Matt around—for what Matt does, he’s very good at it. But so irresponsible! He’s been abusing his power since day one, and has tried pulling strings to just to promote those he favors and get back at anyone he doesn’t like. And it’s only gotten worse, and so many women on Team Aqua have come to me complaining about him—and I’ve told Archie, but he keeps giving Matt second chances! Oh, but I’ve got him this time, I’ve got him!” Maressa heard a note of badly-suppressed glee in Shelly’s last sentence.

    Shelly stopped pacing and looked at Maressa. “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure you’re not in any trouble for this. As for looking for your Seaking…” Sighing, she said, “Maressa, you need to face facts. He’s been gone for a weeks. If he was trying to find Team Aqua, he probably would have found one of our bases or ships by now.” Her gaze softened as Maressa’s eyes filled with tears. ”Oh, I’m sorry. I don’t know first-hand how it feels to lose a Pokemon, but I know it’s hard for you.” Reaching out, she wrapped her arms around Maressa. She pulled back and smiled. “But it’ll be okay—you’re back with us now! We’re going on a pretty fun expedition; I think you’ll enjoy it!”

    Tears fell down Maressa’s cheeks as she nodded dumbly.

    Grimacing, Shelly took out a handkerchief and handed it to Maressa, who wiped the tears away. Shelly smiled at Maressa as she explained, “We’re going to explore and study some ruins just west of here—old caves that have been around for thousands of years, or even longer! But, if you don’t want to,” she said as Maressa made no response, “you can just wait here. We shouldn’t be terribly long—this is just a quick initial check to see if there’s anything worthwhile, and we’ll send more people in later if we need it.”

    Maressa said nothing, but Golduck quacked. He was confused. If it was “just a quick check,” why were there so many ships?

    Maressa relayed his words to Shelly. Her face expressionless, she slowly said, “There aren’t. It’s just this one sub—that’s it.”

    But Golduck and Sharpedo had seen several submarines in the area—they were farther north and east than this one, but they were close by.

    As Maressa told this to Shelly, her eyes opened wide. She looked at Golduck. “Northeast of us? What did they look like?”

    Golduck shrugged. He thought they looked just like this one—that’s why he thought they were all with Team Aqua.

    Without a word, Shelly ran out of the room. Once she was gone, Maressa let her tears flow freely and started sobbing.

    It was too much. It couldn’t be. She was back. She was back. After she escaped them and had even a glimmer of hope of all her Pokemon reuniting again—all gone. Her lie wouldn’t hold up for long—her betrayal would be found out soon.

    Golduck wrapped his arms around her. Maressa looked at him; he was unlike she had ever seen him before. He looked totally defeated and full of disappointment.

    “Oh, I’m sorry, Golduck,” Maressa said as she returned his hug. “I really hoped that we were done with them for good, and now we’re just back to where we were!”

    He let out a deep quack. It wasn’t her fault. He should have been able to keep her away from Team Aqua, to keep her—and the others—all safe. But he didn’t. Team Aqua still came, and he did nothing…

    “Don’t be so hard on yourself.” Maressa held his face in her hands and smiled at him. “This isn’t anyone’s fault, it just happened. They would have found me sooner or later, anyway. But don’t feel so bad—there’s nothing any of us could have done against all of them, trust me. We’ll figure something out; we always have.”

    Keeping their arms around each other, they found comfort in the other’s presence. How long they were in that room, Maressa didn’t know. It was at least half an hour—but she lost track of time, and felt herself drift off…

    When Shelly opened the door, Maressa snapped out of her daze.

    “Come on. I need the both of you,” the Aqua commander said.

    Maressa and Golduck got up and followed Shelly, who jogged swiftly down the hallway.

    “What’s going on?” Maressa asked warily.

    “Team Magma. They’re in those ships following us—at least, I’m pretty sure it’s them. They’ve got something that prevents our radar from picking up on them. We tried sending Pokemon after them, but they came back and told us they couldn’t do anything.” She glanced back at Maressa. “The longer you work with us, the more you’ll realize that this is an arms race in technology. But anyway, long story short, I decided it would be best to try and take them out. I don’t want them following us, and I don’t want to go off-course. We’re in the ocean; they can’t beat us. They’ll only have Flying-types with them, and we should deal with them fairly easily. Still, I called for back-up just in case.”

    “You really think we’ll win? Even with how outnumbered we are?”

    “I’m not worried about it.”

    “How did they find us in the first place?”

    Shelly hesitated. “I have a theory. We haven’t heard from some of our spies for a few days, and for Team Magma to have caught up to us so soon, I think the spies might have been caught. But we’ll see.”

    The three of them exited the top hatch of the submarine. Maressa winced at the bright sunlight as she walked on the slick metal. Several Team Aqua members were there, sending out Pokemon and commanding them as Shelly told them to. Gorebyss, Huntail, and Wailmer dove deep beneath the waves. Tentacruel and Seadra hovered just beneath the water’s surface. Carvanha, Wiscash and Seaking churned up the water, creating white waves.

    As Maressa watched the Seaking splash about, she thought of her own Seaking, and her heart ached as much as ever. And with the guilt and sadness of her Seaking’s disappearance, the shame and sorrow of all other recent events washed over her again. And she didn’t even have Lanturn and Sharpedo with her this time. What if they weren’t able to find her either? Her throat constricted and she choked as she tried to hold back sobs. Tears came to her eyes again. Dimly, she heard Shelly’s voice.

    “… Have the Tentacruel grab anyone who might fall in the water. If it’s Team Aqua, then throw them back aboard. Guard the Pelippers while they’re Stockipiling, because if anything hits them, it’ll blow up in their face. Maressa, your Golduck will primarily stay with us. Assuming your Lanturn and Sharpedo come back you’ll—oh…” Maressa glanced at Shelly’s face and saw it transformed with pity. The blonde-haired woman hastily wiped her eyes. Shelly placed an arm around her shoulders and led her away from the Aqua members where they could talk more privately.

    “Oh, Maressa, I’m sorry about this. I know you’re still upset over Seaking, and your Lanturn and Sharpedo are still gone. And I know you weren’t expecting to fight as soon as you got back. It’s a lot of pressure. But I’m asking you to do this because I know you can!” Shelly placed her hands on Maressa’s shoulders and smiled gently at her. “I know you’re still a great battler, and we’re not in real danger. If worst comes to worst, then we can always retreat into the sea. And I’m sure that your Lanturn and Sharpedo will come back soon.” She wiped fresh tears falling from Maressa’s face. “Going through times like these will make you stronger. And things will get better.”

    Maressa laughed as she rubbed her nose. “I never thought you’d be so nice to me.”

    Shelly averted her eyes. “Archie told me I needed to work on encouragement,” she said quietly. “But anyway, I know things will all work out—oh, look.”

    Maressa heard the splashing water before she saw it. First one submarine came out of the water, similar to the Aqua ones, but dark grey. Several others followed it, forming a semi-circle around their prey. The hatch of the first one opened, and a Magma member stepped out, the white stripes on his pants indicating his rank.

    Shelly walked to the edge of the submarine, standing at the fore of her team. “You know, Tabitha,” she called, “I really don’t appreciate being followed. Seeing as we’re in the ocean and you have no advantage, I’ll let you off with a warning and you can do what you do best: retreat.”

    Another Magma member emerged, hauling up a woman with bright pink hair wearing a Team Magma uniform. Maressa couldn’t see much from her distance, but she appeared unconscious—she didn’t move at all. Shelly clenched her fists at the sight of her.

    “You don’t even want to say hi to her?” Tabitha called, indicating the unconscious woman. “She so generously told us all about you.”

    “Let’s take them out quickly,” Shelly said to her team as more Team Magma members emerged from the submarines, sending out Pokemon of their own. The sky filled with Swellow and Golbat, along with the occasional Beautifly, Xatu, and Tropius. Maressa even spotted a Flygon, the sun shining through its translucent emerald wings.

    The result was chaos. Maressa wasn’t sure what all was going on. Each team seemed to have some sort of plan worked out—at least, the Pokemon all acted as units, whether dive-bombing, spraying a multitude of water jets, creating miniature twisters, or filling the air with beams of ice. Whirlpools clashed with gusts of air, and within minutes, Maressa could believe that there was a downpour.

    If she tried to follow the battle, she may have been able to. But after a minute or so of watching, her heart failed her and she sank into indifference.

    She looked down as someone tugged at her elbow. Golduck stood there, gesturing to the water. This chaos was their opportunity! They should try to leave!

    Maressa nodded. Looking uncertainly at the roaring waters, she tried to figure if she could dive in and escape unscathed, unnoticed…

    “Come on, Golduck!” So saying she ran through the group of Team Aqua members and stopped at the edge of the submarine—or rather, she tried to, but it was so slick with water and rocking in the waves that she slipped at the edge and fell in.

    Panic engulfed her with the waves—she was immersed, couldn’t breathe, and was knocked around mercilessly beneath the relentless waters. She flailed her arms and legs, trying to right herself, trying to find a way up. But there was no way up…

    Seconds later—though it felt like ages—a large mass come up from under her and pushed her to the ocean’s surface. She lay on her stomach, and saw Sharpedo beneath her, with Lanturn smiling next to them.

    “Sh—Sharpedo,” she gasped. “Lan—turn… you guys made it? You saw it was me, even from down there?” She smiled back at her Pokemon.

    Lanturn chirped happily. They could always tell it was Maressa!

    Maressa wanted to ask about the Orbs, but it was no idle place for chit-chat. Sharpedo struggled just to keep upright so Maressa could breathe, and Lanturn kept getting knocked about. Golduck swam over to join them, and like Lanturn, he kept getting sucked beneath the waters. With the return of her friends, Maressa’s sorrow evaporated as her heart beat with confidence. In spite of the danger they were in, joy ran through her veins, giving her life and a will to go on.

    “MARESSA!” Maressa looked up to see Shelly at the edge of the submarine, shouting just to be heard over the roar. “GET OUT AS QUICK AS YOU CAN!”

    Even if she wanted to, she wasn’t sure if she could. Golduck told Lanturn and Sharpedo that they were trying to escape, but the three of them could hardly stay together. Maressa saw now why all the Pokemon acted as units: it was the only way they could move. It was easier to go with the flow than against it.

    If it works for them, maybe it’ll work for us too, she figured. She shouted this to her Pokemon, telling them to pick a unit and stay with it, and take any opportunity they could to get away.

    As Maressa clung to Sharpedo’s back, he joined several Carvanha and Seaking who were darting about at the water’s surface and occasionally jumping out. Seeing a submarine with no one standing on it, Maressa got an idea and relayed it to Sharpedo. As he jumped out of the water, Maressa slid off his back and fell on the surface of the submarine, grateful to have something solid beneath her.

    Getting up, she took a second to survey the scene. It seemed Team Aqua was doing well. As far as Maressa could tell, there were ample Pokemon in the water, creating as much ruckus as usual. She saw several Pelipper perched on the submarine, their bills have open as a bright, white light steadily grew from within.

    Maressa looked down as she saw Lanturn come to a stop beside her. “Hey, Lanturn,” Maressa said, gesturing to the Pelipper, “you wanna hit them with a quick Hydro Pump, or something? Not the actual Pokemon, but stop their attack before they launch it.”

    Lanturn looked at her, concerned. Did they still want to fight? Shouldn’t they just go?

    Maressa grimaced. “I think we can do something to hold them up for at least a bit. Keep them from tailing us too closely, y’know?”

    Lanturn looked doubtful, but swam off nonetheless. As Maressa watched her go, Sharpedo came over, and Golduck followed shortly after. Both were breathing hard, but grateful they managed to escape the chaos. Sharpedo mentioned—with pride—that he bit someone’s wing and nearly took them into the water.

    “Let’s get going once Lanturn gets back. And what happened to the Orbs?”

    Sharpedo growled. Lanturn wedged them into a rock crevice somewhere nearby, deep in the ocean. Where was Lanturn?

    Maressa was about to respond when a boom shook the area. Maressa felt it resonate through the water and air. Thick clouds of smoke billowed from the bills of unconscious Pelipper atop Team Aqua’s submarine. Maressa’s face lit with a smile, and she laughed with relief.

    But something was odd. She didn’t know what, but there was almost a sort of presence—like someone watching her.

    Turning her head, her stomach knotted with fear as she saw Tabitha standing on the ship next to her, staring straight at her. How long had he been doing that? Did he see what she did?

    No time to find out. “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!” she called to her Pokemon as she ran across the sub, intending to jump into the calmer waters on the other side. But she had barely taken two steps before something knocked into her back and slammed her to the roof of the ship, compressing the air out of her as it settled on her. Twisting her neck to look up, she saw the Flygon from earlier crouching on her back. One of its wings had a jagged edge, as though something tried to take a bite out of it. Behind their red shields, its eyes were narrowed as it glared at her.

    Beyond, Maressa saw Tabitha raising his outstretched arms. A Xatu swooped down, grabbed them, and started flying him towards her. Panic, fear, and disbelief swept over Maressa. She had been found by Team Aqua, had a chance to escape, and was about to be caught by Team Magma again. If Tabitha got her, then that was it—there wasn’t hope for getting out. She couldn’t be caught by them again, she couldn’t, she couldn’t.

    After struggling fruitlessly against Flygon, Maressa could only act out on the decision she made earlier—the one she prayed she would not have a need for. But as Tabitha was about to touch down on her submarine, Maressa took three Pokeballs out of her pocket, and tapped them so that a blue light emanated from each button. The weight from her back lifted as Flygon got off her, and she was immediately hauled to her feet. She didn’t turn to look—she tossed the empty halves of the Pokeballs on the ground and stomped on them as hard as she could. With each stomp, pain ripped through her heart—it was like destroying pieces of herself. But she kept at it until there was nothing but shattered bits of red-and-white metal.

    Tabitha dragged her away from the Pokeballs and turned her to face him. He stared at her in utter confusion. “What—?”

    He was cut off by a loud, strangled quacking. Maressa looked down to see her three Pokemon staring at her from the calm waters. The betrayed looks on their faces showed that they knew what she did.

    Maressa had no time to explain. Golduck grabbed Sharpedo’s fin and the two of them launched into the air, landing on the submarine. Golduck immediately pounced towards Tabitha, but was knocked back by Flygon whipping its tail. Golduck held on to the tail, glaring at the Dragon-type with a malice that chilled Maressa’s blood. He unleashed the strongest Hydro Pump that Maressa had ever seen, sending the Dragon-type flying. Before he could make another move, the Xatu dug its claws into Golduck’s shoulders and carried him over the battle in the water. Golduck shot a jet of water into Xatu’s face, and the Psychic-type dropped him back into the roaring waves.

    “Golduck!” Maressa shouted—but he disappeared from view, and all the noise in the world faded away…

    But all the noise really did fade away. At first, Maressa thought Tabitha was breathing unnaturally loudly in her ear, but she realized that the sounds of their breathing were the only sounds at all. The Flying-types all settled on submarines or on Pokemon in the water, and everyone stopped moving. The sea was unnaturally calm, its surface like pale grey glass. The sky was just the same—a shade of grey so pale it was nearly white, and the air and water were both silent and still. The bright sun from before was gone, and wispy clouds drifted through the air.

    Maressa felt a familiar presence in her mind—entirely inhuman, yet immeasurably powerful. And she saw him: hanging in the air above the water, glowing bright gold and silver. He faced her, but his eyes were looking past her—eyes filled with malevolence and hate.

    “Oh no,” Tabitha whispered. He was shaking.

    Where’s Tate? A childlike voice echoed in Maressa’s mind.

    “I—I don’t kn—know,” Tabitha responded.

    You took him away. Jirachi floated towards the two humans, and Maressa felt his power like an electric field, a power that also flooded into her mind, exposing all her thoughts and emotions.

    I fought Team Aqua. I slept. I came back. And Tate was gone. Jirachi was close now, and an invisible force pried Tabitha’s fingers off Maressa’s upper arms. Maressa’s heart skipped a beat as she saw all of the submarines—except for the one she was on and Team Aqua’s—floating in the air.

    You took my friend. I’ll take yours. All the floating submarines crumpled like balls of paper and fell back to the ocean, sinking beneath the glassy water with hardly a ripple.

    Tabitha gasped sharply. He was floating in the air now, Jirachi hovering feet from his face. Maressa’s hair stood up and fluttered gently from the energy radiating from the Pokemon. Tabitha was white—speechless with shock and fear.

    Jirachi suddenly broke his gaze from Tabitha. The Pokemon let out a soft gasp, all the anger and ill-intent gone. He once more appeared as a sad, scared little kid. I’m coming, ran through Maressa’s mind, and he vanished. The sky and water became blue again, and the sun shone once more. But the submarines stayed beneath the waters.

    Once Jirachi disappeared, Maressa collapsed to her hands and knees and Tabitha fell back to the submarine. He lay on the cold metal, breathing hard and fast—almost as if he was sobbing. He spoke into his headset. “Lawrence? Lawrence? … Lawrence, come in…” Tabitha’s face scrunched up as he fought to keep himself under control. “Gregor, you still coming? I need you right now… I think I’m all that’s left.”

    Maressa couldn’t move. As before, waves of nausea swept over her. She breathed deeply, fighting to keep the contents of her stomach down. It was as if Jirachi opened her mind and made a mess of it; her thoughts were disorganized and scattered, and she experienced a million emotions at once. And the horrible sight of those submarines crumpling kept replaying over and over in her mind…

    She had no time to re-organize herself before someone pulled her to her feet. Searing pain shot through her shoulders, and her feet left the submarine. Her world was spinning—the submarine and ocean beneath her were disappearing—there was no up, no down, only lances through her shoulders, and the full weight of her body being pulled along…

    Purple light shot across her vision. She looked past her feet to find the source of light, but the movement made her nausea worse than ever and she emptied the contents of her stomach. Breathing hard, she saw Golduck swimming through the water as fast as he could, Sharpedo and Lanturn trailing slightly behind.

    The three of them shot bursts of water, coordinating so that their attacks combined and slammed into the Altaria that was carrying Maressa by her shoulders. The Dragon-type let out a horrible yelp, and Maressa’s shoulders screamed in pain as she slipped out of Altaria’s claws. She was in the air for less than a second before the Flygon from before swooped in and caught her in its arms. It climbed up into the sky, going so high that falling into the water would be fatal. But she wasn’t high enough to be out of earshot.

    She heard a scream. It was the most horrible sound she heard. It snapped her out of her disorganized mindset and broke her heart. It was her name—not in any human tongue, but in the sounds her Pokemon made. Maressa saw Lanturn, Sharpedo—and Golduck. Lanturn and Sharpedo swam frantically in circles, desperately wanting to do something. Golduck stood atop the submarine, staring at Maressa with the most torn-up look she had ever seen. He screamed again. She couldn’t leave them! She couldn’t go! Why did she release them? They could have saved her!

    Tears fell hot and fast from Maressa’s eyes. Bile came up, and after coughing, called out, “I couldn’t let them hurt you! Take the Orbs—find the Pokemon League!” Flygon started flying east, leaving her Pokemon behind.

    Golduck cried out again. They didn’t care about the Orbs, they cared about her!

    He dove into the water and swam after her and Flygon, making all sorts of promises: he would protect all of them, he wouldn’t give her a hard time anymore, he would never blame her again for anything, he would become stronger—strong enough for all of them, just as long as she would please stay, because he couldn’t lose her again.

    But he did. As he and the other two become nothing more than distant specks in the water, as tears froze onto Maressa’s cheeks from the chilly air, as her body went numb from cold, and as the red Team Magma helicopter came into view and Flygon flew in through the open hatch, Maressa realized that she lost her Pokemon.

    Once it flew in, the Flygon dumped her onto the metal floor of the helicopter. Moments later, a Tropius flew in, and Tabitha slid off its back. People in red hoodies rushed over and recalled the Pokemon back into Pokeballs.

    The Team Magma members ignored Maressa as she lay on the floor, probably because Tabitha wasn’t in a much better state. He leaned against the wall of the helicopter, shaking and breathing hard. His eyes were closed, and he looked as if he was trying not to vomit.

    “Commander Tabitha… what happened?” a young woman asked.

    “Where is everyone?” asked a man.

    Tabitha held up a hand to stop the questions. Swallowing, he replied, “Jirachi came back… He left again, I don’t know why. I tried contacting Lawrence’s ship, but there was no response. The rest are destroyed, at the bottom of the sea.”

    Silence.

    “We tried to get here earlier,” said the man from before, “as soon as you called us in. But the sky became all weird… And we couldn’t get any further—we tried to, but something—some sort of force—kept pushing us back.”

    Tabitha shook his head. “Not your fault… Nothing could be done.” He looked at Maressa lying on the floor. “Cormac, take her into the back. Sheela, give her a quick pat-down—I don’t think she has anything on her, but just in case. No one else contact her.”

    The two Magma members did as ordered, and Cormac had to hold Maressa up like a child while a female Team Magma member patted her down. Maressa still felt nauseous, her shoulders bled freely, and her legs wouldn’t work properly. Once the two Magma members finished and exited, Maressa sat propped up against the wall, sobbing.
     

Share This Page