• Welcome to Thousand Roads! You're welcome to view discussions or read our stories without registering, but you'll need an account to join in our events, interact with other members, or post one of your own fics. Why not become a member of our community? We'd love to have you!

    Join now!

Pokémon Drowning

Chapter 8

Starlight Aurate

Just a fallen star
Location
Route 123
Partner
mightyena
Hello! This is a day late, but here's the latest chapter! It's long... again. These things will get shorter at some point, I promise. I hope you enjoy!



Chapter 8


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

One foot…

Then the other…

Left…

Right…

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

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

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

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

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

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


Beep.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maressa started at seeing someone else so suddenly. After a moment, she croaked, “Not too bad, just tired and really thirsty.”

“I’ll bet, after being out in that sun! I’ll go and ask the doctor if you’re allowed to have anything to eat or drink.”

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

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

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

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

“On the fourth floor of the Mossdeep Hospital.”

Mossdeep!

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

Derek and Golbat, you guys are incredible.


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

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

“How am I?” she asked the nurse.

“The doctor says you should be fine. Your strength should return soon, and he said that your leg should heal all right. How did you get that, by the way?”

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

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

Soon, she told herself. I’ll see him soon. And when I do, I’ll apologize for this whole mess and make it all up to him.

But to see him, she had to get to Team Aqua. And to get to Team Aqua, she had to get out of the hospital.

“And how did you end up here?”

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

As she spoke, she could see herself riding Seaking back towards Team Aqua’s submarine before the two were ensnared in Breloom’s leech seed.

“Before the current carried me away, I saw her still struggling. I don’t know what happened to her…”

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

Maressa looked up into the nurse’s warm eyes. “How can you be so sure?”

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

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

“What’s your name? We didn’t find any credentials with you.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She was about to get up and walk over to the window when she realized the tubes were still attached to her. Would the nurse be alerted immediately if she took them off? She suspected so—but staying in the hospital was too risky.

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

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

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

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

“What do you think you’re—”

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

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

Clambering in as quickly as possible, Maressa started the truck—fortunately it wasn’t a stick shift. She jerked her head back to the window to find one of the men trying to open the door, which she had thankfully locked.

Starting the car, Maressa was drove down the road in a flash, constantly checking to make sure she didn’t go over the speed limit. She prayed no one would notice her and it seemed like she melded in with the rest of traffic just fine. No one seemed aware that she had just committed a felony, and everything was going smoothly.

Woo-woo-woo-woo.

Or not.

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

Sweat beaded her forehead as she realized the police were quickly gaining on her. Soon they would overtake her, and she would wind up captured—again. But it would be impossible to outdistance them if she was to stay within the speed limit.

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

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

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

Stepping slowly downstairs, she stopped before a closed door covered with graffiti and grime. Wrinkling her nose against the funky smell that permeated the air, she quickly stepped inside and softly shut the door. She saw why she was the only one in that restroom: the smell was absolutely horrendous. She considered heading back outside when she heard two voices.

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

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

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

This is the Pokemon you decided to bring?!”

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

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

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

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

Maressa’s heart stopped. Those must have been police searching for her, and with Linoone’s odor sleuth, it wouldn’t be hard for it to trace her once it caught her scent. And since they knew the truck she had stolen and she had left it unmoving in the middle of a street, it wouldn’t be too hard for the Pokemon to pick up her scent and sniff her out.

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

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

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

“What are you doing that for?” the Gloom’s owner shouted at the police officer.

“Telling your Pokemon to attack us—”

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

The two continued to argue while the third man tried to slip away.

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

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

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

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

After a few seconds, the dark green powder settled out of the air and formed a green carpet on the floor.

“Thank you,” Maressa said, giving the Pokemon a warm smile before bending over the unconscious lot. She grimaced; her choices were to be a street rat or a police officer. Taking the latter option, she shook off the green dust and pulled on clothes that were too large over her, tightening the belt as much as possible. At least these were clean and didn’t smell nearly as bad. She took off the badges and insignias as best as she could, hoping she could pass by in plain blue clothing.

She rifled quickly through the thieves’ pockets. She found some cash alongside questionable-looking bottles with hand-written labels, as well as a single Pokeball, but nothing else.

“Looks like they aren’t very good thieves…” she mused.

She felt slightly guilty at taking their money, but it was probably stolen, anyway. That made it okay for her to take—right?

Her heart pounded rapidly in her chest. She needed to get out. She opened the door and headed back up the stairs, listening to the plodding gently behind her—

She wheeled around, her heart racing. No one was there. Just the thieves, police officer and Linoone lying on the ground.

Maressa jerked her head about and saw the Gloom standing on the step below her.

“Did you follow me? No! I need you to go back—or stay here—well, this place is pretty dingy. Okay, you can come with me for a bit, but once we’re out of here, you need to stay away!”

She went back to grab the Gloom’s Pokeball from the man’s pocket—what she would do with it, she didn’t know, but she didn’t want to leave it. She made her way back up the stairs, Gloom following closely behind.

The duo emerged from the bathroom, and once they got back out onto the street, Maressa only saw a few people pass by. Keeping her head down, she made her way towards the edge of the city, avoiding police officers and as many people as she could.

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

Maressa made her way through the busy alleyway. She had never been to Mossdeep City and knew nothing about the layout of it. He didn’t even have a plan as to what she would do. She had to get a clear head—she needed to sit down and think about things.

Up ahead, she saw a stone archway marking the entrance to a park. Several winding paths led though stretches of bamboo. Couples stood on small stone bridges hanging over tiny creeks. Stone tables with seats were scattered in different areas.

Maressa started towards the park. It seemed relatively relaxed compared to the rest of the city, and maybe Gloom would finally stop following her.

Walking through the overhanging arch, Maressa went down the pathway, occasionally passing people. Plants of all sizes and colors stretched out their leaves, and flowers of all varieties opened their petals. Everywhere she went, Maressa saw little signs naming plants and describing details about them. She soon saw a little path that led to a tiny patio completely surrounded by overhanging greenery with a stone bench.

Maressa sat down on the bench. Gloom followed and tried to do likewise but he was too short to pull himself up. Bending down, Maressa grabbed him—it took all of her effort to not gag at his stench—and set him on the bench next to her. She inhaled deeply—which she immediately regretted with Gloom right next to her—and tried to think.

It took a few minutes for her heart rate to go down and the excitement to wear off. The adrenaline that coursed through her veins gradually subsided, and all the aches and pains came back to Maressa. Her leg throbbed horribly; she was thirsty; she had a headache; and she was so exhausted. She wished she could lie down and sleep—but she was still too wired to do that.

She still couldn’t believe what happened—she escaped from Team Magma, escaped from a Mossdeep hospital, left her sister with the bill, stole a truck, and knocked out a police officer. Nothing looked good for her. In spite of what she believed about Team Aqua, the thought of going back to them made her feel much safer.

But how could she get back? She scrunched her eyes thought.

She first found out about and joined Team Aqua through a recruiter from “Ocean Incorporated,” which turned out to be a publicity front Team Aqua created to keep their true motivations hidden. She knew there were more—Sarah joined under the company “Blue Seas,” a public relations firm.

“That’s it!”

Gloom turned his head to look up at Maressa as she voiced her thoughts aloud.

“Sarah’s from Mossdeep, and she joined under a company called ‘Blue Seas.’ I just have to find them, and then I’ve found my team and I can go back and get my Pokemon!” She looked down at Gloom. “That makes sense, right?”

Gloom made no response but faced Maressa with the same expressionless face. White drool dribbled from his mouth on to the bench. The sight of it grossed Maressa out—but she felt a twinge of pity.

“You poor thing. Here, let’s get you a bit cleaned up.”

Using her sleeve, she dabbed away some of the white drool. She glanced at the white stain left on her clothes.

Great, she thought. Now these clothes are going to reek until I get changed.

But she had a lead—she knew what to do, and the thought was immensely comforting. She glanced up at the rays of sun peeking through the leaves. She didn’t want to get up—this park bench was so peaceful. Getting up and walking around was going to be painful, and the thought of going back into public where people would be hounding her filled her with anxiety. There was also something oddly comforting of having Gloom be with her—maybe it was just the feeling of being with a Pokemon companion.

But she had to go. She needed to get back to Team Aqua. If she was captured by the police, she’d probably be arrested for everything she did—if she betrayed Team Aqua and tried to give them away and the Team Aqua members infiltrating the police found out, she could wind up as a prisoner with Team Aqua—

Or they might do something to my Pokemon.

Maressa clenched her eyes shut. No, that couldn’t happen—it wouldn’t. She’d get her Pokemon back and the five of them would be a family again. After she got her Pokemon back…

One step at a time, she told herself. She had no idea what she was going to do, but it wasn’t worth worrying about yet.

Inhaling deeply, Maressa stood up, pushing herself off the bench for extra support. Her heart pounded anxiously again and her leg hurt horribly.

It’s easy. Find Blue Seas, and then go from there.

She walked through the foliage back on to the main path. Glancing back, she saw Gloom jump off the bench and waddle up to her.

“Gloom, no!” she said firmly. “You need to stay here. I can’t take you with me.” Turning around, Maressa walked away from him. She heard his footsteps on the path as he followed after her. The thought of him following her tugged at her heartstrings, and she wanted nothing more than to pick him up and hold him in her arms as she walked, just like she used to do with Psyduck.

She stopped and looked down at Gloom. To be fair, a park might not be the best place to drop him off. It wasn’t really a natural habitat—she could at least try to bring him to the outskirts of the city, couldn’t she?

Sighing, she reached down and picked him up. As Gloom’s stench wafted to her nostrils, she grimaced and nearly went back on her decision to cuddle him. But holding him in her arms filled her with a kind of warmth—did it make him happy, too? It occurred to Maressa that he might have been mistreated when with those thieves. He certainly seemed ready and eager to leave them for a complete stranger.

The thought of it filled Maressa’s heart with pity, and as she glanced at the Pokemon in her arms, she cared about him even more. Her eyes watered from the stench—maybe that was why he hadn’t been cared for. Perhaps it was a circumstance of his birth that turned people away from him.

Maressa’s heart twisted. She wouldn’t be able to care for Gloom in the long run, but maybe she could make him at least feel wanted in the present moment.

She told him whatever came to her mind—not her current plan, for fear of eavesdropping passerby’s—but of growing up in Mauville City and what she thought of Mossdeep.

“… and my friend, Sarah, is from here. I wish she was here.”

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

As she exited the park, Maressa recalled festivals and fairs that she attended when she was a child. The colorful costumes, eating little else but pastries, and running off with Psyduck and Betty while her parents yelled at them to come back…

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

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

A few Wiscash floated idly in the water. Marill splashed about playfully, and Lombre lay on dirt at the edge of the water, soaking up sun from the open roof.

Golduck sat on a spit of dirt and looked at the other Pokemon. They were all at ease. Their trainers had been with Team Aqua longer than Maressa had—they were accustomed to being in this place. They were in a large tank filled with fresh water with small areas of dry land at some edges. Parts of the roof were open so the Pokemon could feel natural sunlight.

Looking over the edge of the tank, Golduck saw other ones, some of which were filled with salt water. The tanks formed a hallway in the Team Aqua base. Between them, Team Aqua members milled about. Some walked past the tanks without glancing at them while others went right up to them and spoke to their Pokemon through the glass.

Golduck curled his tail around his feet. He didn’t like this. He knew that, in one of those saltwater tanks, Lanturn and Sharpedo were there. But he couldn’t survive for long periods of time in salt water, so he was put in a fresh water tank with a bunch of other Pokemon.

But he shouldn’t be there. His place was with Maressa and Seaking. His mood further soured when he remembered how she told him to stay behind.

“Don’t worry about it, Golduck,” she said with a gentle smile. The two of them were in her room. Maressa sat on her bed while Golduck stared at her in shock and anger. “It’s just a scouting expedition—it shouldn’t take more than a week! We’re not doing anything dangerous, just exploring the area. It should be a lot of fun! And—“

Golduck cut her off. But why did he have to stay behind? She couldn’t go without him! There were dangerous Pokemon in the ocean. If she ran into trouble, she would need him to protect her.

“I’m not alone. I’ll have Seaking with me. I know, I know, he’s really timid, but when I told him he seemed all for it. He’s plenty capable of fighting.”

But that didn’t explain why he, Lanturn and Sharpedo couldn’t go with her!

“It’s just what the admins told me—Shelly said she wanted you guys to stay behind and for only Seaking to come with. Don’t look at me that way. Maybe they just want to see if I can follow orders—I’m still really new at this. And if this goes well, it could be really good for us here!”

But they were supposed to be friends—best friends! And she suddenly thought it was okay to leave three of them behind just because someone else told her to? Since when did Maressa care so little about them?

“Why are you angry at me?” she snapped. Her smile was gone and her hands were balled into fists. “This isn’t my fault! I don’t want to be separated from you guys! If it was up to me, we would stay together all the time. But it’s not my choice.”

Golduck quacked angrily and turned his back to her. Maressa always had a choice! She couldn’t blame someone else for her own actions.

Maressa sighed.

“Golduck.”

He turned around. Maressa’s eyes drooped and her shoulders slumped. She looked tired and sad.

“You are my best friend. Don’t make this harder for me than it already is.”

Golduck was slightly abashed. He hadn’t realized Maressa was just hiding her own sadness.

But he was still upset. He let out a throaty croak. Why were they separating? He and Maressa had been together their whole lives, and until now, they had never separated for anything.

“I know. I don’t like it, either. But whether or not I like it, I need to learn to trust them—to trust that they know better than I do.”

“Poliwhirl!”

Golduck shifted his eyes to see a Poliwhirl floating in the water, staring at him curiously. She wanted to know if he would play with her.

Golduck said nothing but looked away and flicked his tail. The only Pokemon he wanted to interact with were Sharpedo and Lanturn—but they were in a different tank. He never knew how they took the news that Maressa was leaving with Seaking. The last time he saw Maressa was when she told him they were to be separated.

He looked up at the sky. Maressa would be gone for seven sun cycles—maybe less. It was the third sun cycle. It was already too long.

Curling up his legs and his tail, Golduck watched some Team Aqua members dump lettuce into the tank. The Wiscash and Lombre swarmed as they ate the food, but Golduck had no desire to eat.

He just wanted Maressa back.
 

OldschoolJohto

Never not editing
Pronouns
She/Her
Partner
solrock
Finally getting caught up!

He eyed a number of large fiberglass canisters.
I think a little more of Derek’s thoughts here would’ve clarified that these are the life rafts. I didn’t make that connection at first—it felt like a non sequitur—and I don’t think that was a useful ambiguity.

Would his Pokemon support it?
This thread is interesting. It’s the first time we’ve seen someone other than Maressa take their pokémon’s feelings seriously. I found myself wanting Derek to pull a little more of the weight and contribute something to their plan though.

the most reasonable of the Fighting-type’s ideas involved gun powder, vegetable oil, and glitter.
I don’t think fighting should be capitalized, but I got a chuckle out if that descriptor.

Derek saw Claydol’s visions, felt his every emotion and listened to his every idea. Claydol poured out his observations and ideas, trying to immerse his trainer in his thoughts and convince him to follow his plans.
This loses its immediacy and focus by being summarized. Since he can picture those visions, why not let us picture them too?

She nodded but didn’t seem too keen on getting in the ocean. Derek couldn’t blame her; he could hardly stand being in the sea, and her last experience in the ocean made him sympathize greatly with her.
This is a fun character moment—we know how much she loves the water, and he just want get his head around that.

It’s not just that I’m worried about you betraying us. But I know that Team Magma—and maybe Team Aqua too—have members infiltrating Hoenn’s police force, giving them false leads and wrong information to keep them off our trail.
Hm, I like that you’ve made the police another obstacle ... but I’m not sure I’m convinced! It seems more likely to me that the police would have infiltrated Magma and Aqua than the other way around if they operate like gangs do.

Perhaps, when this fight was over, they could still be friends, and he and she and their Pokemon could all get together.
Aww. Sweet innocent.

Or would it be the same as it was now, and everyone had given up?
Yeah, it does sound disheartening!

A pang of guilt hit him when he thought of Tabitha. His friend was sure to get into trouble for Maressa escaping under his watch, and everyone else in the unit was going to have a rough time as well.
I liked this moment. I did want a little more justifying helping Maressa over helping someone he describes as his friend. After all, he barely knows Maressa.

“It’s mom?!
Its*

The Pelipper, with its massive bulk
Massive and bulk felt like they were doing the same job—you don’t need both.

The doll floated next to Derek, moaning questioningly.
The epithet of “the doll” was jarring for me.

She’s gone. She’s gone and she’ll die.”
This is a little muddled—earlier he said “dead” past tense and now it’s become future tense. That progresión doesn’t feel right. It also felt to me like he’s kicking himself a bit too hard. After all, she agreed to the plan. I wonder if numbness and shock would ring truer for me. Not blaming himself per se but wondering if he did the right thing, if he could’ve or should’ve stopped her.

Breloom urgently chirped, but he ignored them both.
Considering his earlier interest in their opinions, he does seem to ignore them a lot ....

She got off the rail and backed away, overcome with fear.
I like this dance she does, trying and failing to get up the nerve. Deciding that being tortured by Magma is better than death didn’t ring true for me though. I’d rather have a quick death than be tortured for who knows how long. It would make more sense to me if her thought was instead, “She would have to find a better way.”

He didn’t have time to dwell on it before his commander appeared in the doorway.
What happened to “his friend”? Might be nice to have Derek smile and get a cold response. Tabitha is not in friend mode. Failure to connect.

Do you think she’ll live in the ocean
This sounds like they’re speculating about her taking up residence. I think “survive” is a better fit.

I guess I’ll find out soon how she fares ... and whether Derek gets his pokémon back!
 

Starlight Aurate

Just a fallen star
Location
Route 123
Partner
mightyena
I think a little more of Derek’s thoughts here would’ve clarified that these are the life rafts. I didn’t make that connection at first—it felt like a non sequitur—and I don’t think that was a useful ambiguity.
Ahhh totally fair. My bad. Thanks for catching that!

This thread is interesting. It’s the first time we’ve seen someone other than Maressa take their pokémon’s feelings seriously. I found myself wanting Derek to pull a little more of the weight and contribute something to their plan though.
Fair enough! But don't get your hopes up his Pokemon continue to be the one making/carrying out plans

don’t think fighting should be capitalized, but I got a chuckle out if that descriptor.
I tend to do that across my works; if something is "X-type," I always capitalize X, though I not that's not universal among Pokemon fanfic authors.

This loses its immediacy and focus by being summarized. Since he can picture those visions, why not let us picture them too?
That's a good point! I have definitely leaned too much on "tell, not show" lately...

Hm, I like that you’ve made the police another obstacle ... but I’m not sure I’m convinced! It seems more likely to me that the police would have infiltrated Magma and Aqua than the other way around if they operate like gangs do.
Interesting! I kinda had the Harry Potter-esque "Death Eaters invade Ministry of Magic" and get dayjobs but still work for Voldemort (idk if you've ready Harry Potter) in mind when I wrote this and it seemed to fit since, in my head, Archie and Maxie are always one step ahead of those around them. There I go with my headcanons again ^_^;


I liked this moment. I did want a little more justifying helping Maressa over helping someone he describes as his friend. After all, he barely knows Maressa.
That's fair. I read over some deleted scenes recently and I had like... an entire chapter devoted to his inner conflict about this. But I did not feel like that warranted an entire chapter (also looking back on my old writing makes me cringe and I felt like it was too cheesy) so I shortened it. Too much?

The epithet of “the doll” was jarring for me.
Understandable; since Claydol is based off of ancient clay dolls I thought it fit although I guess it really does not look at all like modern dolls haha

This is a little muddled—earlier he said “dead” past tense and now it’s become future tense. That progresión doesn’t feel right. It also felt to me like he’s kicking himself a bit too hard. After all, she agreed to the plan. I wonder if numbness and shock would ring truer for me. Not blaming himself per se but wondering if he did the right thing, if he could’ve or should’ve stopped her.
I guess numbness and shock would be better--I imagined Derek as more of the panicky type when things went totally wrong so he freaked out here. But I guess numb shock might fit that (and the overall tone) better.

Considering his earlier interest in their opinions, he does seem to ignore them a lot ....
I admittedly did not do the best job with human-Pokemon interactions ^_^;

I like this dance she does, trying and failing to get up the nerve. Deciding that being tortured by Magma is better than death didn’t ring true for me though. I’d rather have a quick death than be tortured for who knows how long. It would make more sense to me if her thought was instead, “She would have to find a better way.”
I felt like the TM torture > death decision was her panic and fear speaking--she had been building up the strength beforehand to go through with it, but when actually faced with the prospect of possibly dying, it's a lot more difficult than she had thought and ANYTHING would be better than that. Maybe I should have elaborated on that more? I felt like it was a reasonable in-the-moment action, but that could just be me lol

What happened to “his friend”? Might be nice to have Derek smile and get a cold response. Tabitha is not in friend mode. Failure to connect.
Getting away with my headcanons again--Derek screwed up his job and Tabitha is going to have to pay the bulk of the price for it (from Maxie, at least). Tabitha is not feeling particularly charitable and Derek is still freaking out over Maressa possibly going to her death.

This sounds like they’re speculating about her taking up residence. I think “survive” is a better fit.
Haha, good point.

I guess I’ll find out soon how she fares ... and whether Derek gets his pokémon back!
[/QUOTE]
Thanks again for the review! Always a pleasure to hear from you <3
 
Chapter 9

Starlight Aurate

Just a fallen star
Location
Route 123
Partner
mightyena
Hello! I am a day late (again...) but here is the latest chapter and it is mercifully much shorter than the previous! My life is about to go through some big changes so I should be able to hit the next two-week mark, but after that... we'll see. I'll do my best! Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy.

Chapter 9

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

Gloom sat silently in Maressa’s arms as she chattered away. She talked partly to keep her mind off of the anxiety and nervousness that kept attacking her. Having someone else to talk to and focus on helped—at least a little.

She glanced up at the buildings all around them. For being the lone city on an island, Mossdeep seemed to be quite the metropolis. People bustled around her; sounds of cars and hustling people rang in her ears; scents from street foods and waste filled her nostrils; the urban jungle seemed to sprawl on endlessly. Though Maressa grew up in Mauville, she at least lived in a townhouse on the outskirts of the city—it was not nearly as hectic or crowded as this. How was she supposed to find one company?

Maressa quickly went in and out of a convenience store to buy Mossdeep City Visitor’s Guidebook that came with a map and directory. The bulk of the book was about the city’s history and the white rock that it was noted for. Maressa skipped by it—it was all unimportant—and went down the directory until she found “Blue Seas” and located it on the map. It wasn’t too far away—they should be able to make it on foot.

An hour and a half of walking later, and Maressa wished she had taken a bus. She stood outside a large office building with several different logos on it—and one of them was “Blue Seas.” Her leg was sore and protested in pain every time she put weight on it. She just needed to hold out for a few conversations—she could do that, right?

“Okay,” she said as she turned and faced Gloom. He stood on the concrete next to her. In the ninety minutes it took to get to “Blue Seas,” he followed Maressa the whole way and she didn’t have the heart to push him away. She fully intended to soon, though—once they were out of the city.

“I’m going to walk in there and ask to speak to a recruiter. I’ll—I’ll tell them I was hired under ‘Ocean Incorporated’ and was working on a joint project with them. And I got separated from my company and I’m trying to make my way back. That sounds reasonable—right?”

Gloom didn’t respond. But it helped Maressa to voice her thoughts out loud to someone else.

“I think it’ll be best if you stay inside your Pokeball, Gloom. I’m not sure what they would think of me with a Grass-type Pokemon.”

Recalling him into his Pokeball, Maressa shoved it inside her shoe. The shoes were too large for her, and if she put it in the end and scrunched her toes up and didn’t mind the discomfort, then she could hide it reasonably well.

Maressa closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, trying to calm her nerves. Opening them, she walked over and opened the door. A woman sat at the reception desk inside, her eyes roving up and down a computer screen in front of her. She looked up and smiled at Maressa.

“Can I help you?”

Walking up to the desk, Maressa smiled back. “Hi! Can I talk to a recruiter? I was hired under Ocean Incorporated and was working on a joint project between them and Blue Seas.”

“A recruiter? Let me see…” She clicked on the computer screen and scrolled up and down, gazing at it. “Do you want to talk to one of our higher ups? We have a few people from Ocean Incorporated here who might be able to help you more. I’m not sure how much our recruiters can tell you—and this week they’re visiting schools, so it doesn’t look like they’re in.”

Maressa’s heart pounded ferociously in her chest as she blurted out the first things that came to her mind. “Ah—I guess anyone here who’s working with Ocean Incorporated. I met a recruiter from Ocean Incorporated at the Hoenn Institute of Technology and Architecture this past January.”

“Hmm… I’ll try asking Sean…”

The receptionist picked up the phone next to her and dialed in a number. “Hello, Sean. I have a young woman here who says she works with Ocean Incorporated. She wants to talk to someone who’s working on a joint project they have with Blue Seas… Okay, sure…” She took the phone away from her face and looked up at Maressa. “Do you have your Ocean Incorporated ID with you?”

Maressa’s face turned red.

“No, I don’t.”

The receptionist put the phone back to her face. “She said she doesn’t have it…” She took it away once more and looked up at Maressa. “What’s your name?”

“Maressa Llyr.”

“She says her name is Maressa Llyr…” The receptionist raised her eyebrows slightly as she listened to whatever the person on the other side said. “Oh, okay. Got it, thanks.” Placing the phone down, she smiled at Maressa. “If you come with me, I’ll take you to Sean’s office.”

Maressa followed the woman into the elevator, up a few floors, and down a hallway. She stopped before a glass door, took out a fob and held it up to a scanner to unlock the door. They passed through it and continued down the hallway and stopped before a door that was cracked open. The receptionist knocked on the door a few times.

“Sean? Maressa is here to see you.”

The door was pulled wide open and a thin, bald man who looked to be in his late twenties looked down at Maressa. He smiled at the two of them.

“Thank you, Peggy. I’ll take care of things from here.”

Without another word, Peggy walked down the hallway.

“Come in to my office!” he invited Maressa. “And close the door behind you, if you don’t mind.”

Sunlight poured in through the window and illuminated the small office. A computer sat on a desk, facing away so people in the doorway could not see the screen. Bookshelves lined a side wall but there were only a few books and picture frames on them. A door stood slightly ajar on the other side wall.

Sean went over to this door and poked his head in.

“Lucy? Can you come and give this woman a pat-down?”

He turned back to Maressa. “I’m sure you understand—we have to make security a priority, especially in the city.”

Maressa didn’t quite understand but didn’t know what to say. She stood there numbly as a sour-looking woman came out of the side room and swiftly patted Maressa down. Maressa’s gut clenched as the woman felt around her feet, but she didn’t examine Maressa’s shoes. After a minute, she looked up at Sean.

“She’s clear,” she said and went back into her office without another word.

Sean looked down at Maressa with dark blue eyes. Maressa gazed back. She didn’t know what to do—her heart beat rapidly with apprehension. Her mouth was dry. All she could do was stare back at him.

He smiled. “So!” he said as he walked over to his computer. “You’re Maressa Llyr, right?”

“Yes.”

He typed into the keyboard and turned the monitor around to face Maressa.

“Does this look familiar to you?”

A smile of relief broke out on Maressa’s face. Team Aqua’s skeletal “A” insignia was on Sean’s monitor. Still smiling, she looked up at Sean.

“So you’re a Team Member, too?”

He nodded. “Gotta keep quiet about it—not everyone in this building is with us, and we can’t be too careful.” He typed into the keyboard as he spoke and pulled up a profile of Maressa—the picture she had taken on her first day with them along with facts and features about her.

“Once you disappeared, I was notified—I’m not as high up as Shelly or Matt, but I’m a step above the grunts. I was told to keep my eye out for you. Have a seat!”

Maressa sat in the chair he gestured to. She sighed—in the past few nerve-wracking minutes, she had forgotten how sore her muscles were. Leaning her back against a chair felt luxurious; taking weight off of her legs was bliss.

“You look worse for wear,” he noted. “What happened to you?”

Maressa’s heart clenched. She met Sean’s curious gaze with uncertainty.

“Where should I start?”

“I know Team Magma captured you on a mission four days ago. After that, though, it’s all a mystery. Do you wanna eat while we talk? You look terrible.”

Maressa glared at him for a second before catching herself. She didn’t like being told she looked terrible, but she needed to show respect to her superiors. And besides, the offer of a full meal was too much for her to pass up. Sean placed an order for sandwiches over the phone and Maressa began her story.

She told everything as truthfully as she could but removed her interactions with Derek and Gloom. When she mentioned how Derek left her to check on his Wingull, Sean shook his head.

“That’s a crappy medic—can’t watch his Pokemon fight without worrying about them and forgetting to guard his prisoner,” he said as he drizzled mustard over his veggie sandwich. “Typical Team Magma.”

Several minutes later, the two of them sat before empty plates and Maressa finished her account. Sean smiled.

“That’s quite a story you’ve got! I’m impressed you managed to find us out here—and I’m glad you did. I can’t imagine being stranded in a random city without knowing how to get to any of our bases.”

“What do you guys do here?” Maressa asked. “Sarah and I were recruited into Team Aqua under company names—is this just an undercover Team Aqua base?”

Sean wiped his face with his napkin before replying.

“It’s a bit more than that—you can think of it as one of Team Aqua’s public relations branches. Archie is head over all these companies. Everyone knows that. But a lot of Blue Seas’s employees think it’s only an environmentalist media company concerned with publishing info about the environment—things like ocean acidification, Pokemon migrations, and stuff like that. They know that we’re partnered with other similar companies like Ocean Incorporated, but they don’t know about Team Aqua or what we’re trying to do. And the Boss is having me do a bit of both—I’m Team Aqua member first, but he also wants me to supervise Blue Seas. Make sure things are quiet, you know? And if any news about Team Aqua is leaked, I’ll be more likely to hear about it from here.”

Maressa frowned.

“How do you decide which employees to tell about Team Aqua? I was prepared to just work for Ocean Incorporated—I had never heard of Team Aqua until the recruiter suggested it for me.”

“We try to gauge it in each employee. If they’re more into Pokemon battling—which it sounds like you are—we explain a little bit about Team Aqua and see how interested they are. If all they want is a desk job, we don’t usually mention it. If they’re passionate, and I mean really passionate about the ocean, we might suggest Team Aqua anyway, even if they’re not a Pokemon trainer.

“Anyway,” he said as he suddenly stood up, “This has been a fun chat, and I’m happy I got to meet you, but you really should get back to a proper base. Others will want to hear everything you told me.”

Maressa’s heart skipped a beat at these last words—she didn’t want to repeat her story again.

“Is there a base nearby?” she asked.

“The nearest one is by Lilycove. I’ll have my Tentacruel take you—I know it’s not that fancy or comfortable, but we need to keep you under the radar, and you’ll blend in perfectly with all the trainers surfing on their Pokemon between these two places.”

Maressa nodded and stood up reluctantly. Her muscles ached in protest. The thought of spending the next who-knew-how-long clinging to a Pokemon and surfing the ocean made her want to cry. All she wanted to do was sleep.

Maybe she could sleep later. Looking up at Sean, she smiled gratefully.

“It was great to meet you, too. Thanks for helping me out.”

+++++++++

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

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

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

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

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

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

She glanced at her leg—ocean water had splashed over it and made it sting horribly—and her heart clenched when she thought of Betty receiving the hospital bill. While it seemed funny on a whim, Maressa suddenly realized that her younger sister was receiving a hospital bill with no context whatsoever. And what would happen then? Betty would call them about the mistake, and they would bring up the account of Maressa being there and escaping. Betty would eventually piece things together and their family would find out that Maressa was a criminal.

Maressa’s stomach churned. How would they react to finding out that a child in whom they had put so much hope was breaking out of hospitals, stealing vehicles and running around with a criminal gang?

She didn’t want to think about it.

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

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

Starlight Aurate

Just a fallen star
Location
Route 123
Partner
mightyena
I'm (barely) not late this time! Here's the next chapter, finally featuring the big man himself (that's not really a spoiler lol). I hope you enjoy!


Chapter 10


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

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

Maressa could barely see anything around her. Panic rose—she wanted to scream. But before long, Tentacruel made his way out of the roaring waterways and Maressa felt him riding along a much smoother current. The dimming night faded to total darkness. The sound of waves echoed all around them—they were in a cave.

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

Her heartbeat gradually slowed and she took a deep breath to calm herself.

What’s wrong with me?

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

She sighed inwardly at her own flimsy excuses.

I can’t blame Tentacruel. He knew what he was doing.

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

Glancing down into the water, she made out two lavender orbs shining with an ethereal light. Heart skipping a beat, she turned away as fast as she could, determined not to fall victim to any Pokemon’s hypnosis.

Her heart raced. She had a Pokemon trying to hypnotize her, and she had to find Team Aqua—was this their base? She couldn’t see anything but the stars. Shouldn’t Team Aqua have lights or someone on watch in case team members came?

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

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

Maressa only had a few more seconds of searching before she saw a Politoed’s head emerge from the surface. She met his gaze as he stared at her quizzically for a moment before his eyes lit up with a pale purple light.

Maressa only had enough time to curse her own stupidity before falling asleep.

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

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

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

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


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

The walls and floor alike were of a blank metal, similar to that of the Team Magma base. Though she was again in the only occupied bed in a room full of cots, the arrangement of furniture and layout of the room was different from the previous base.

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

A wave of terror rushed over her and she tore off her left shoe. Shoving her hand inside, she breathed a sigh of relief as she felt the Pokeball still stuck inside.

Maressa released a shuddering breath. Gloom was still with her—that much, at least, hadn’t gone wrong. A pang of guilt hit her heart when she realized that she had yet to release him. But she had gone straight from the city to the open ocean—where was she supposed to let him go?

As soon I’m outside and no one else is around, I’ll let him go, she told herself.

Maressa looked around. If she was captured again, perhaps Gloom would be able to help her get out. It was worth a shot.

Getting out of bed, she walked over to the door only to find that it was locked. Forcing herself to remain calm, she sat back on the bed and buried her face in her hands. Anxiety and worry beat rapidly in her chest, and she was finding it increasingly difficult to not panic. She couldn’t bear the thoughts of being captured again, of having to wait for whatever punishment was chosen for her, of having to escape again.

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

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

Falling back on her bed, she spread her arms out as the smile lingered on her face. She glanced back at the team member and leaped off her bed with joy.

“You’re a Team Aqua member!”

“Well, yeah, I—”

“Then I’m at a Team Aqua base!”

“You’re Maressa Llyr, right?”

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

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

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

“No. You have to talk to our boss.

Maressa’s heart skipped a beat as the final word fell on her ears.

“You mean Archie? He’s here?”

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

“When do I go see him?”

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

Her mouth going dry, she followed the guy out the doorway. He glanced at her as they walked.

“I’m Noah, by the way. Are you nervous?” he asked with a smile.

She shrugged. “A little.”

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

“Do you work directly with him often?”

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

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

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

She grimaced. “Yeah.”

“Then you won’t have a problem.”

They stopped before a set of double doors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The man turned around and smiled as he saw Maressa. Striding forward, he held out a hand.

“So, you must be Maressa! I’m Archie.”

She relaxed as she firmly shook her boss’s hand. She couldn’t think of what to say—seeing him—the big guy, the boss, the linchpin—with almost no warning was so surreal. Looking up at him, she smiled with her mouth half-open and said, “Hi."

Archie turned to the other grunt in the room.

“Could you leave us for a moment, please? This won’t take long.”

The grunt nodded and walked out without a word.

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

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

Shelly looked furious at this interruption, but Archie merely shrugged. “More often than we’d like. Even with sharp rocks and fast currents, some people insist on exploring this area, in which case we’ll usually have our Pokemon take them out.”

A chill went up Maressa’s spine at these words, but she said nothing.

“Sean sent word to me that you were coming here. Some members from our team recognized you and we pulled up your profile and information. If you weren’t a Team Aqua member, then you wouldn’t be in here now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She met his gaze. His pale blue eyes bore into her, and she tried to appear as sincere as she could. She was speaking the truth, after all, and she hoped that he would elaborate on what Tabitha had told her. But she couldn’t control her nerves—her heart pounded so furiously within her chest that she worried someone would hear it.

After a moment, Archie stood up and made his way to the door.

“Come with me, Maressa,” he said, and with a nod to Shelly, he made his way out.

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

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

Archie raised an eyebrow. “Is something wrong?”

“I don’t do well with heights.”

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

Maressa didn’t answer. She just stared out at the deep blue waters that appeared so calm from a distance. Archie glanced at her then turned his gaze seaward.

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

“Because we need it to live?”

“Because it sustains this entire planet and everything on it. Many creatures spend their lives in the ocean without ever seeing land—some live without even seeing sunlight. Entire civilizations have built their culture around the ocean, adjusting and shaping their lifestyles to work with it.”

Maressa couldn’t see his face, but as his voice took on a reflective tone, she felt as if he had almost forgotten about her.

“My own family was one that lived at the ocean’s edge. When I was thirteen, we left. Eleven years later, I made my way back to that same spot where we lived, and it was completely gone. All the plants that grew there, the rock formations, even peoples’ homes—gone. The water ran right against a sandy shore with hotels and beach houses.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maressa took a step forward, feeling the chill wind whip her hair back. The lake she had first met Psyduck in was gone, and who knows what had happened to Seaking’s home? Sharpedo’s old family was bound to meet trouble if it was going to keep moving in-shore, and Lanturn’s old home at the bottom of the ocean was trawled away…

“They’ll have nowhere to live,” she murmured. Archie looked at her out of the corner of his eye. “The ocean habitats are being destroyed. The Pokemon will either be killed or left homeless.”

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

“Sir, may I ask something?”

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

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

Archie didn’t respond immediately but kept gazing out at the ocean.

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

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

Archie turned to her.

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

Maressa’s heart skipped a beat.

Tabitha was telling the truth.

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

“So where do we find Kyogre and the Blue Orb?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Team Aqua boss said nothing, but stared at her keenly.

He doesn’t trust me, Maressa realized with dread.

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

“Sir, I will stake everything on this.”

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

OldschoolJohto

Never not editing
Pronouns
She/Her
Partner
solrock
Responding to Chapter 8!


Her tongue felt bloated. Even though she was dripping wet, her throat and mouth were dry.
Nice details here.

Wisps of blonde hair floated in front of her face as the cold seawater ran gently by her. Her body slowly sank into the dark depths of the ocean below while the orange light of a dimming sun sparkled above. Her limbs hung numbly at her side as she felt the caress of the saltwater, its little eddies kiss her cheeks, and the gentle rocking of the sea.
This passage has a lot of descriptors that too me feel like they’re more cluttered than they are specific. I think you could drop quite a few adjectives and adverbs and it would read better:

Wisps of blonde hair floated in front of her face as the seawater ran by her. Her body sank into the depths while the orange light of a dimming sun sparkled above. Her limbs hung at her side as she felt the caress of the saltwater, its little eddies kiss her cheeks, and the gentle rocking of the sea.

Some woman walking along the beach found you this morning. Good thing we got you here; you were really dehydrated and that hole in your leg was looking really bad.”
I’d change some woman to a woman and hole to wound.

How am I?” she asked the nurse.
This question strikes me as a little odd. She knows how she’s feeling. She could ask instead how the leg is looking—maybe calling Derek’s work into doubt in her mind of scolding herself for making it worse by diving off the boat—or she could ask when she’ll be released.

and after we attacked the Wingull, this huge Pelipper came flying at us.
Did she realize that was what was happening on the boat?

Pokemon have a way of knowing where their trainers are. When I was a little girl, I got separated from my parents when we were in the city once, but our Cacturn found me in almost no time.
Aww, that’s a nice sentiment.

I have to admit that this name threw me. In my Spanish/English brain, both the double L and the Y make the same sound. I did Google and see that it’s a real name, but it wouldn’t be my first choice for a false name.

The bill will be fine.”
This is another line that struck me as unnatural.

Though she was grateful for the professional medical care and attention she was receiving, she had to get out of here, and soon. But how was she supposed to get to the ground from a fourth story?
It wasn't clear to me why she felt like she had to leave RIGHT THIS SECOND. We haven’t seen enough evidence that her pokemon could be in immediate life-threatening danger to justify her literally throwing herself out a window when she’s injured and dehydrated. She didn’t even ask when she could leave—it might’ve been soon anyway! I also thought it was odd that she was concerned about the nurse seeing her in only a hospital gown ... and then later not seeming too bothered by it, especially when doing something active like climbing a tree. More worrying to me though are the shoes! Running across some broken glass could be game over.

I’m sorry,” she cut him off as she stepped in front of him. Yanking the lanyard out of his pocket, she drove her free fist into his solar plexus, causing wind to rush out of him and him to double over.
Big shift from the earlier chapter where she resisted beating someone up! I wish we had more of an indication of how she feels about this.

She heard them giving her orders to pull over,
I doubt she could hear that, and the siren is already the universal signal to pull over anyway.

But it would be impossible to outdistance them if she was to stay within the speed limit.
I would think she’d be trying to calm herself and look natural and drive the speed limit until the sirens started. That would be a good indication that going through speed limit hasn’t helped.

Vehicles filled the lanes for as far as she could see, and the police cars were out of sight. People continued to pour past in a massive crowd. Without a second thought, Maressa opened the door and plunged into the thicket.
It felt like she lost the cops too easily, though I like her having to abandon the car because of the festival. I think you want “into the thick of it.” Thicket is thorns and brambles.

This Gloom has been keeping me out of prison for sixteen months, and I need him to get stronger.”
A little too on the nose—feels less like a person talking and more like a character giving me information.

trying to keep out the noxious perfume
Perfume felt try-hard here for me. I think a literal perfume can be noxious in its sweetness, especially a cheap one, but not all bad smells are perfumes. It might be nice to get a better idea of what kind of bad smell it is. 🙃 IS it perfumey, sickly sweet? Is it sulfurous? Is it a rotting meat smell?

Those must have been police searching for her,
I thought at first that she meant the two grubby men.

It’s a cop! Gloom, get us out of here!”

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

“What are you doing that for?” the Gloom’s owner shouted at the police officer.

“Telling your Pokemon to attack us—”

“We didn’t tell him to attack you, I just told him to get us out of here!”
I feel like the cops are too gentle here by engaging in this obviously silly argument. Get us out of here + spores = ill-intent, Abe I feel like they would act immediately to defend themselves. Also, bruh, no chill! Announcing “Gasp, it’s the cops!” is a good way to be noticed by the cops, as opposed to playing it cool.

waving the Poison-type up-and-down to diffuse the powder more quickly.
Later she takes pains to get kind to the gloom, but here it feels very much like an object. Would be nice to see it react to this.

she shook off the green dust
Good way to make the dust airborne again and breathe it in.

She took off the badges and insignias as best as she could, hoping she could pass by in plain blue clothing.
I feel like she’d need a pocket knife or something to do this effectively. And it would still definitely look like a uniform. Maybe postal worker if she’s lucky.

She felt slightly guilty at taking their money, but it was probably stolen, anyway. That made it okay for her to take—right?
How does she know they’re thieves?

Also, oof, she sure is quick to judge them when she just stole car and punched someone.

all the aches and pains came back to Maressa. Her leg throbbed horribly; she was thirsty; she had a headache; and she was so exhausted.
These are good details to include here—makes sense.

She first found out about and joined Team Aqua through a recruiter from “Ocean Incorporated,” which turned out to be a publicity front Team Aqua created to keep their true motivations hidden. She knew there were more—Sarah joined under the company “Blue Seas,” a public relations firm.
I wish We had more detail on what this entailed! What do these companies supposedly do? When did she realize they were false?

It’s easy. Find Blue Seas, and then go from there.
Would be nice to get an indication of how she plans to find them. Library computer, or ...?

It’s also hard for me to believe her urgency to steal a car when she didn’t have a plan at that moment.

To be fair, a park might not be the best place to drop him off. It wasn’t really a natural habitat
Though a park is close to a natural habitat for some pokemon! Worse places to leave it.

They were in a large tank
I feel like this is under-selling it. This tank has to be enormous, like the size of a room. These are some large pokemon. It seems like keeping them in pokeballs would be more efficient.

But that didn’t explain why he, Lanturn and Sharpedo couldn’t go with her!
It’s true—it feels very sus when, again, she does have pokeballs for them, and it seems like at the base they’re just chilling in a tank.

Our girl is making Good Decusions. Hope she takes some time to reflect on her actions. The sister especially. Leaving someone else with your hospital bill is pretty harsh. Did they part on bad terms??
 

Starlight Aurate

Just a fallen star
Location
Route 123
Partner
mightyena
Hey-o! I am LATE to this reply, which I apologize for, but I want to thank you for stopping by all the same! As I read through this, I found myself agreeing with most of the things you pointed out, so if I didn't respond to certain parts, it's because I didn't have much else to say, haha.
This passage has a lot of descriptors that too me feel like they’re more cluttered than they are specific. I think you could drop quite a few adjectives and adverbs and it would read better:

Wisps of blonde hair floated in front of her face as the seawater ran by her. Her body sank into the depths while the orange light of a dimming sun sparkled above. Her limbs hung at her side as she felt the caress of the saltwater, its little eddies kiss her cheeks, and the gentle rocking of the sea.
Thank you so much! This passage was from the very first draft of Drowning (which I wrote like 10 years ago and where she meets Lugia in an early chapter lolol--you can see it's changed quite a bit) and I never updated this section. I really appreciate you pointing this out!

This question strikes me as a little odd. She knows how she’s feeling. She could ask instead how the leg is looking—maybe calling Derek’s work into doubt in her mind of scolding herself for making it worse by diving off the boat—or she could ask when she’ll be released.
Hmm, fair enough!

Did she realize that was what was happening on the boat?
Yep; Derek explained his/his Pokemon's plan to her and she was with him when she saw the unplanned Pelipper fly through the halls.

I have to admit that this name threw me. In my Spanish/English brain, both the double L and the Y make the same sound. I did Google and see that it’s a real name, but it wouldn’t be my first choice for a false name.
The last name isn't false; it's meant to be her real name. It's Welsh, a Celtic language, so quite different from romantic Spanish and germanic English! I was really into stuff by Lloyd Alexander, who put a lot of Welsh into his works, and I took a name from one of the books and put it in here.

This is another line that struck me as unnatural.

It wasn't clear to me why she felt like she had to leave RIGHT THIS SECOND. We haven’t seen enough evidence that her pokemon could be in immediate life-threatening danger to justify her literally throwing herself out a window when she’s injured and dehydrated. She didn’t even ask when she could leave—it might’ve been soon anyway! I also thought it was odd that she was concerned about the nurse seeing her in only a hospital gown ... and then later not seeming too bothered by it, especially when doing something active like climbing a tree. More worrying to me though are the shoes! Running across some broken glass could be game over.
Fair point on both parts--her "the bill will be fine" was her thinking of sticking her younger sister with a hospital bill (I thought this would be funny 7 years ago...) that I admittedly coulda/shoulda left out. Her leaving the hospital was supposed to be paranoia catching up to her. She gradually becomes more paranoid and anxious over the course of the story, and this was supposed to be her thinking that risking whatever was out there--not thinking clearly about the consequences--was better than the chance of being caught with Team Aqua or Team Magma again.

Big shift from the earlier chapter where she resisted beating someone up! I wish we had more of an indication of how she feels about this.
I guess I'm not doing enough to indicate how she's feeling about things ^_^; I'll keep that in mind, thank you! Earlier it felt unnecessary to her, and here she feels a sort of "fight-or-flight" response and feels she has to do it.

I doubt she could hear that, and the siren is already the universal signal to pull over anyway.
Fair enough; I've never driven through a city tbh, so I don't know how well the sound transmits through there.

It felt like she lost the cops too easily, though I like her having to abandon the car because of the festival. I think you want “into the thick of it.” Thicket is thorns and brambles.
Hahaha I totally missed that. Thanks!

Later she takes pains to get kind to the gloom, but here it feels very much like an object. Would be nice to see it react to this.
Hmmm, like I should have shown a better transition on how she viewed Gloom?

Also, oof, she sure is quick to judge them when she just stole car and punched someone.
That's part of the point--that she's not making good judgements and is trying to deny her own guilt/make herself feel better about doing something she knows isn't right.

I wish We had more detail on what this entailed! What do these companies supposedly do? When did she realize they were false?


Would be nice to get an indication of how she plans to find them. Library computer, or ...?
These get explained in later chapters!

Though a park is close to a natural habitat for some pokemon! Worse places to leave it.
Haha that Gloom would have been better off in that park than where she does take him

I feel like this is under-selling it. This tank has to be enormous, like the size of a room. These are some large pokemon. It seems like keeping them in pokeballs would be more efficient.
Yeeaaah I couldn't think of how to describe it other than a tank, even if it's a room-sized tank. And I thought of Team Aqua as being kinder to their Pokemon--at least outwardly--and letting them have a bit of 'freedom' instead of being cooped up in a Pokeball all the time. Team Aqua might not be nice and friendly, but they doc are about Water-types at least superficially.

Our girl is making Good Decusions. Hope she takes some time to reflect on her actions. The sister especially. Leaving someone else with your hospital bill is pretty harsh. Did they part on bad terms??
There'll be plenty of reflection coming ahead. And the sister part was a joke but I've explored it more down the line and tl;dr their relationship gradually deteriorates over time.

Thanks again for stopping by and for leaving such a lovely review! Apologies for my tardiness; I made a huge move and am super jetlagged and very sleepy as I'm writing this. Chapter 11 is ready and will be posted soon!
 
Chapter 11

Starlight Aurate

Just a fallen star
Location
Route 123
Partner
mightyena
(Finally) Here's chapter 11! Sorry for my lateness; I'm also not sure how punctual I will be in the future, as I'm going through some big (but good) life changes at the moment. I'll do my best to stick to the every-other-Monday format!


Chapter 11



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

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

He held out his hand and a smile split Maressa’s face when she saw her Pokeballs. However, her joy didn’t last, and she looked back up at Noah with a small frown.

“What’s wrong?”

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

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

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

“Should be somewhere on the lower levels. I also brought a uniform for you so you can change.”

Without another word, Maressa took the uniform, ducked into her bedroom to quickly change—remembering to pocket Gloom’s Pokeball—and took off down the hallway. In her excitement, the pain in her leg didn’t bother her so much. Making her way down staircases, she eventually came into a room with several large tanks. Pokemon drifted about idly in the water while some of their humans stood before the tanks or else sat in the water with them. Maressa spotted Shelly standing before a large tank with a few other grunts, examining a Mantine.

“Shelly!”

The Aqua Commander turned around, her expression sour at the interruption. Maressa felt a slight twinge of guilt; she forgot to pay her superior respect, but she pushed the feeling aside and walked over to her commander.

Shelly said nothing but raised her eyebrows questioningly.

“Do you know where my Seaking is?”

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

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

“Where did you last see your Seaking?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maressa froze; the world stopped.

Gone?

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

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

All of those moments were ripped away.

Tears came hot and fast. Maressa’s chest constricted. She knew people were staring at her, but it didn’t matter.

Shelly put a hand on her shoulder, gazing at her subordinate with more pity than Maressa had ever seen.

“I’m sorry.”

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

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

Each word Shelly spoke was like a hammer beating a nail deeper into Maressa’s heart.

“But he won’t just be anywhere out in the ocean—he knows what our bases and submarines look like—he’ll come find one—“ she stopped as her voice cracked.

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

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

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

They shook their heads when they first came out and blinked their eyes. Upon seeing her, their faces became radiant with joy, and Maressa’s spirits rose. She placed her hands on the glass as Sharpedo and Lanturn swam right up next to the side of the tank. Her grief at Seaking’s absence was shunted aside as she let loose a laugh of relief. Reaching up, she caught hold of the edge of the tank and swung herself over the side and into the salty water. Her leg wound screamed in protest, but that didn’t matter. She reached out her arms and embraced Lanturn and Sharpedo when she felt a third being clamp itself tightly around her midriff.

She smiled as she saw Golduck’s shaking form embracing her tightly.

“It’s good to see you too, Golduck. All of you, really,” she said with another laugh. Her tears flowed, but they were no longer of sadness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I know it is.”

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

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

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

Maressa glanced down at the extra Pokeball on her belt. Taking a deep breath, she recounted everything that had happened while she was gone. She told them everything she told Archie, but included everything about Derek and his Pokemon as well as meeting Gloom.

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

Maressa sighed. “I didn’t mean to! He started following me when we knocked out his previous owners—I don’t think he was cared for, and I haven’t found a good place to release him. As for Team Aqua, well… there are things about that that I need to tell you. But don’t you want to meet him first? Don’t worry,” she said gently as she saw their looks of skepticism, “I know what I’m doing.”

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

“I told you, I’ll tell you about that part later. But please meet him; until we can get him somewhere proper for Grass-types, I would really love it if you all made him feel at home.”

Sharpedo and Golduck still looked uncertain, but Lanturn joyfully leapt out of the water. Maressa should bring Gloom out at once!

Smiling at Lanturn’s enthusiasm, Maressa detached the Pokeball from her belt, and soon Gloom stood on top of Sharpedo’s head.

“Gloom,” Maressa said gently.

The Pokemon looked up at her briefly then faced the water again. He stood completely still, as if he was afraid of falling. Maressa reached out, grabbed hold of him, and held him on her lap. Lanturn gleefully chirped a greeting. Golduck did the same, and Sharpedo added his disgruntled greetings to theirs.

Maressa smiled at Gloom looking curiously at each of the Pokemon.

“These are my Pokemon, Gloom. They’re my best friends. We’ll take care of you until we make it back to solid land, and then you can live in a forest with other Grass-types. Don’t worry about the water—I’m not out on the ocean all the time. Golduck knows; he spends a lot of time inside with me, and now you can, too!”

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

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

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

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

“Don’t look at me like that!” Maressa snapped. “I didn’t mean to drag him out here—but I couldn’t just leave him in the city, and I can’t really tell anyone else on Team Aqua about him, can I? They don’t care about Grass-types, they want to drown them!”

Her three Pokemon stared at her in shock. Sharpedo growled—drown Grass-types? They never heard anything about this. Wasn’t Maressa just fighting for Water-type Pokemon everywhere?

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

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

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

When she opened her eyes, all three Pokemon were looking at her—but not with disgust or disappointment. Lanturn looked sad and hurt by her words; Sharpedo looked annoyed; Golduck’s eyes were narrowed in disbelief.

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

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

Lanturn chimed in, saying that they would follow Maressa wherever she went, whether it was back to Mauville, back to Kanto, or even to a whole new region. They would never leave her or abandon her!

Maressa couldn’t say anything. All she did was slide off of Lanturn and wrap her arms around the Electric-type in a hug. She felt another pair of arms wrap around her, and Sharpedo’s snout nuzzling her side.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She looked back to her team. “Let’s do it.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The star…

His eyes opened as the voice faded.

Star? What star? he wondered. With a thrill of hope, he thought The Millennium Comet?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adamhuarts

Mew specialist
Pronouns
He/Him
Partner
mew
Hi Starlight! Thought I should check out your fic after our brief discussion in the server earlier, and I've read the first chapter now to review it.

I honestly recall reading this fic at least once before, but I think I only read a bit of the first chapter long ago. Honestly I should've read the whole thing because the first chapter was really fun for me to read.

I loved the banter between Maressa and Sarah, and the prose augmented their dialogue. You also did a good job in establishing both of their characters as underdogs, though with Maressa being the more experienced battler of the two and Sarah seemingly having issues with her sealeo every now and then. Makes me wonder if the latter would be a source of conflict later.

Not a whole ton happened in the first chapter, but you did enough to make me want to read the rest of the fic moving forward. There were some plot hooks you established, like Maressa's mission as well as that millennium comet. Whether the latter is just a worldbuilding nitbit or actually going to be important in the future remains to be seen. Wouldn't surprise me honestly because I have an inkling suspicion you like Jirachi enough to include it in a fic. Heh. 😉
 

OldschoolJohto

Never not editing
Pronouns
She/Her
Partner
solrock
I’ve fallen so behind! Glad Catnip gave me an excuse to get back on it.💪

Nice to see Maressa starting to process some of her doubts. She’s got big decisions to make.

You’ll understand when you meet them.
Aww, she misses them so much.

For being the lone city on an island, Mossdeep seemed to be quite the metropolis
This jumped out at me as a strange assumption. I’d frame it more in terms of what she had expected, Maybe loops back in her friend from that first chapter and memories of talking to her.

Maressa skipped by it—it was all unimportant—a
The double “it” reads oddly, even with the em dash.

went down the directory until she found “Blue Seas” and located it on the map.
Would an environmental media company be in a tour guide? I could see it if they were explicitly doing, like ... guided reef tours with snorkeling?

Her leg was sore and protested in pain every time she put weight on it.
I’m glad this continues to be a problem.

In the ninety minutes it took to get to “Blue Seas,” he followed Maressa the whole way and she didn’t have the heart to push him away.
I’d cut “the whole way.” It’s already implied and it also becomes a double “way.” She’s getting so attached to the gloom though!

I’ll tell them I was hired under ‘Ocean Incorporated’ and was working on a joint project with them. And I got separated from my company and I’m trying to make my way back. That sounds reasonable—right?”
I can’t tell how much she’s trying to actually sound plausible (❌) and how much she’s just trying to get a coded message To Aqua (✅).

trying to calm her nerves. Opening them,
Sounds like this relates to nerves because of the placement.

She looked up and smiled at Maressa.

“Can I help you?”
I feel like she must look rough though! (Sean even noticed.) She just walked a bunch in the heat and she’s wearing odd clothes that don’t fit quite right. I’d expect the secretary to at least have a look of surprise and try to cover it up.

The shoes were too large for her, and if she put it in the end and scrunched her toes up and didn’t mind the discomfort, then she could hide it reasonably well.
She’s really going to lengths to hide this gloom! Are Aqua agents not allowed to have Pokémon that aren’t water-types? This is also a lot of ands! It may need a comma, since it’s become a list. I’d also consider cutting or rewording “and didn’t mind the discomfort.” It seems like of course she minds it because it’s uncomfortable and she has to scrunch her toes. Maybe it’s more about pushing through the discomfort? This chapter has her leaning on her ability to endure

“Hi! Can I talk to a recruiter? I was hired under Ocean Incorporated and was working on a joint project between them and Blue Seas.”
I thought she was saving this to say to the recruiter? It might’ve been nice to have the secretary doubt and question Maressa a little, force her to give more information and let Maressa wonder if she’s believable or said too much or ....

and this week they’re visiting schools
Oof. Uh oh.

A computer sat on a desk, facing away so people in the doorway could not see the screen.
This is worded like it’s something nefarious or at least standout, but I think that’s standard.

He nodded. “Gotta keep quiet about it—not everyone in this building is with us, and we can’t be too careful.”
Oh interesting. Might’ve been nice to get inklings of this earlier (still wondering what her hiring process was like!) or to see More of Maressa’s paranoia while she’s waiting to meet with Sean.

I know Team Magma captured you on a mission four days ago.
Was it really only 4??? That doesn’t feel like enough, especially if her leg was that injured.

That’s a crappy medic—can’t watch his Pokemon fight without worrying about them and forgetting to guard his prisoner,” he said as he drizzled mustard over his veggie sandwich. “Typical Team Magma.”
Weird that she doesn’t react to this at all! Would be a great source of extra tension in this scene to see her hiding her reactions and misgivings. I can’t really tell what her impression of Sean is.

But a lot of Blue Seas’s employees think it’s only an environmentalist media company concerned with publishing info about the environment—things like ocean acidification, Pokemon migrations, and stuff like that.
Too bad it seems like this work is only being done by an Evil Team (TM).

Maressa’s heart skipped a beat at these last words—she didn’t want to repeat her story again.
This could be expanded! Is it because she’s tired? Because she’s afraid her dwindling loyalty will be exposed? Because it was traumatic? I can’t quite tell where she’s at.

The thought of spending the next who-knew-how-long clinging to a Pokemon and surfing the ocean made her want to cry. All she wanted to do was sleep.
This felt real. Girl, same. Long day. Her determination to put on a brave face is so sad.

and you’ll blend in perfectly with all the trainers surfing on their Pokemon between these two places.”
You can cut “between these two places.”

The way they undulated and rippled gave her chills, a
Interesting that she can love a sharpedo so easily but tentacruel is where she draws the line.

or whether he would make the journey more quickly
“Take the journey” reads more naturally to me here.

Judging by her inability to see any land in any direction, Maressa guessed that they still had a long time to go.
Framing it as her inability felt weird. Like, it’s not her personal failing—no juman would be able to see land.

Maressa went over in her head what she would say to her higher-ups once she got back to base.
“Went over in her head” is a little clunky. I kept parsing it as “went over her head” (because ... not wrong!) I’m thinking another verb would Flow more smoothly here.

Though the teams may be conducting a search where the only option was failure, the amount of damage they could do to civilians was undeniable.
I was a little confused here.

Maressa’s stomach churned. How would they react to finding out that a child in whom they had put so much hope was breaking out of hospitals, stealing vehicles and running around with a criminal gang?
Gooooood questions. We still know so little about her family—not even any flashbacks to give us an indication of what their relationship was like!

I’m very interested to see how you’ll characterize Archie though! Looking forward to “meeting” him. And for Maressa to hopefully be reunited with her pokemon!
 
Last edited:

Starlight Aurate

Just a fallen star
Location
Route 123
Partner
mightyena
Hi Starlight! Thought I should check out your fic after our brief discussion in the server earlier, and I've read the first chapter now to review it.

I honestly recall reading this fic at least once before, but I think I only read a bit of the first chapter long ago. Honestly I should've read the whole thing because the first chapter was really fun for me to read.

I loved the banter between Maressa and Sarah, and the prose augmented their dialogue. You also did a good job in establishing both of their characters as underdogs, though with Maressa being the more experienced battler of the two and Sarah seemingly having issues with her sealeo every now and then. Makes me wonder if the latter would be a source of conflict later.
Hey! So glad to see you here; thanks for dropping by! Glad you liked the first chapter :) Kinda funny that we've both reviewed each other's stuff twice on different forums now, heh. The main character starting off as a typical grunt was one of the main motivations for this story, so I'm glad it came across that way and that you liked it!

Not a whole ton happened in the first chapter, but you did enough to make me want to read the rest of the fic moving forward. There were some plot hooks you established, like Maressa's mission as well as that millennium comet. Whether the latter is just a worldbuilding nitbit or actually going to be important in the future remains to be seen. Wouldn't surprise me honestly because I have an inkling suspicion you like Jirachi enough to include it in a fic. Heh. 😉
lollll what on earth could possibly give you that idea? ^_^; Glad to see you, thanks again for leaving a review!

I’ve fallen so behind! Glad Catnip gave me an excuse to get back on it.💪
Hey there! Always great to see you around again :) If I don't respond to a particular part, it's probably because I again don' really have anything to say about it hehe.

Nice to see Maressa starting to process some of her doubts. She’s got big decisions to make.
Doubts and decisions are the bane of her existence throughout this fic.

This jumped out at me as a strange assumption. I’d frame it more in terms of what she had expected, Maybe loops back in her friend from that first chapter and memories of talking to her.
Hmm, interesting. I've never used flashbacks/loop backs in that sort of way; I feel like it would come across as awkward if I tried, but maybe here it would make more sense or at least read more smoothly?

Would an environmental media company be in a tour guide? I could see it if they were explicitly doing, like ... guided reef tours with snorkeling?
lol you're asking a post-yellow pages-era girl That's a good point! Maybe I should revise it so they do more things like that.

I’m glad this continues to be a problem.
Hehe, people pointed out in the first version of this that her leg issue suddenly disappeared and then ti was coming and going, so I tried to be more consistent on it.

I’d cut “the whole way.” It’s already implied and it also becomes a double “way.” She’s getting so attached to the gloom though!
Good catch, thank you! And I know, I didn't have the heart to cut him out of this version ;_;

I can’t tell how much she’s trying to actually sound plausible (❌) and how much she’s just trying to get a coded message To Aqua (✅).
😅

I feel like she must look rough though! (Sean even noticed.) She just walked a bunch in the heat and she’s wearing odd clothes that don’t fit quite right. I’d expect the secretary to at least have a look of surprise and try to cover it up.
Ah, fair point! I didn't catch it there, for some reason.

She’s really going to lengths to hide this gloom! Are Aqua agents not allowed to have Pokémon that aren’t water-types? This is also a lot of ands! It may need a comma, since it’s become a list. I’d also consider cutting or rewording “and didn’t mind the discomfort.” It seems like of course she minds it because it’s uncomfortable and she has to scrunch her toes. Maybe it’s more about pushing through the discomfort? This chapter has her leaning on her ability to endure
It's more along the lines that she picked up a Pokemon unexpectedly and with already trying to cover the fact that she doesn't want to be with Team Aqua anymore, she doesn't want to have any more things to explain. She doesn't know what Team Aqua would do to a tagalong Gloom and is too scared to find out. She also really misses her Pokemon and is projecting the care for them onto Gloom but isn't fully aware she's doing that.

I thought she was saving this to say to the recruiter? It might’ve been nice to have the secretary doubt and question Maressa a little, force her to give more information and let Maressa wonder if she’s believable or said too much or ....
Fair enough; I probably should have had the secretary be a little less gullible.

Oof. Uh oh.
Gotta recruit them when they're at the right age.

Oh interesting. Might’ve been nice to get inklings of this earlier (still wondering what her hiring process was like!) or to see More of Maressa’s paranoia while she’s waiting to meet with Sean.
Fair enough!

Was it really only 4??? That doesn’t feel like enough, especially if her leg was that injured.
I counted/framed it as 4. I left an indiscriminate amount of time before but then I felt like tacking on some number would be better than to have none at all.

Weird that she doesn’t react to this at all! Would be a great source of extra tension in this scene to see her hiding her reactions and misgivings. I can’t really tell what her impression of Sean is.
Good point! I should have had her stand up a bit more for a guy who risked his own well-being to save her.

Too bad it seems like this work is only being done by an Evil Team (TM).
Right? I feel like with how asinine people in real life are about environmental research, cleanups and coverage, this isn't too far of a stretch. But that's probably a conversation for a different time lol.

This could be expanded! Is it because she’s tired? Because she’s afraid her dwindling loyalty will be exposed? Because it was traumatic? I can’t quite tell where she’s at.
Oh it's meant to be all of the above lol. I guess I could expand on that.

Interesting that she can love a sharpedo so easily but tentacruel is where she draws the line.
I didn't think this is too far beyond belief--Sharpedo and Tentacruel are very different in terms of appearance, if not more. And while Maressa loves her Pokemon and builds relationships with them, she isn't automatically nice or a friend to all living creatures--so something with stinging tentacles like Tentacruel creeps her out on instinct.

I was a little confused here.
Maressa doesn't believe in the existence of the Orbs so she thinks Team Aqua and Team Magma can't possibly succeed. But they're still dangerous and do a lot of damage either way.

Gooooood questions. We still know so little about her family—not even any flashbacks to give us an indication of what their relationship was like!
I guess that's because I don't really use flashbacks/don't know how to use them effectively? I know they can be done well, it's just not something I've tried outside of a one-shot.

I’m very interested to see how you’ll characterize Archie though! Looking forward to “meeting” him. And for Maressa to hopefully be reunited with her pokemon!
Thanks! People liked my characterization of Archie in the past, so I hope you do too! Thanks again for leaving reviews; I'm always excited to see what you've got!
 
Chapter 12 New

Starlight Aurate

Just a fallen star
Location
Route 123
Partner
mightyena
Hey everybody! It's still Monday somewhere in the world, right? So I'm technically not late on this... right? Here's Chapter 12, and I hope you enjoy!


Chapter 12


Maressa walked through the metal doors of their base on Route 123. Her head throbbed—partly from the exhaustion, and partly from her burning anger. She heard Golduck’s footsteps as he plodded happily alongside her, but she was too angry to talk to him.

She and a group of other Team Aqua members followed Matt into a small room. Maressa only half-listened as he gave them instructions for getting ready tomorrow; she just wanted to lie down and rest.

“… You are dismissed,” the Aqua commander finally announced.

Without another word, Maressa walked into the hallway while Golduck followed her. She didn’t get very far before two voices squealed “MARESSA!” and she was thrown off-balance by the force of people hugging her.

As they pulled back, Maressa smiled as she saw Cloe and Sarah standing before her. Both of their uniforms were clean and they looked excited; evidently, neither had been on a mission recently.

Cloe’s eyes scanned Maressa and her smile fell. “What happened to you?”

Maressa’s outfit was torn and dirty, and her forearms were littered with burns. Her bandana and left glove were nowhere to be seen, and an acrid smell hung about her. Most noticeable was her hair, which was black and charred at the bottom edge. Golduck stood next to her, and though he had scratches and bite marks on him, he seemed significantly less put-out—even pleased.

Rubbing her eyes wearily, she said, “I’ll talk to you guys later. Let me put on a new outfit.” She glared down at her Golduck. “And I need to have a talk with you.”

Maressa and her Pokemon walked down the hall. Sarah and Cloe heard the Water-type quack nonchalantly. Maressa angrily replied, “When I said ‘make sure they’re okay,’ that doesn’t mean ‘encourage them to start spitting fire at me’—”

The duo entered Maressa’s room and she slammed the door behind them. Golduck shrugged. Maressa got out just fine; what did a bit of fire matter?

“I LOST TWO INCHES OF HAIR BECAUSE OF YOU!”

Maressa flopped down on the cot, glaring at Golduck, who stood in front of her and acted as though nothing was wrong.

“Do not tell me that everything was a success. Yeah, we made sure those Team Magma members got away, but half of our squad is pissed at me because you led us on a wild goose chase through the rainforest, because you just HAD to insist that the one Linoone who ran away had the Card Key that we needed to access the information, and so I had to run after you and take along another seven people and get absolutely nothing done. Have you forgotten about my leg?!” She pointed to her left leg, and though the cut was hidden beneath the fabric of her pants, it throbbed horribly. “Walking is a pain, not to mention trying to run. But I had to run after and take along half of the squad to make sure that Team Aqua didn’t completely overpower Team Magma.”

Rolling onto her back, she sighed. “And that base was teeny—Derek had nothing to worry about. Even if we did manage to take any hostages, I doubt it would really matter. That base was in the middle of nowhere and doing nothing.” Her eyes narrowed until they were but amber slits in her face. “And then your psybeam ‘missed’ Team Magma while they were escaping and hit the opposite cliff face, completely blocking us off. Seriously, Golduck, whose side are you on?”

The ease and amity vanished from Golduck’s face as he glared at his trainer. Whose side was he on? Whose side was she on? Maressa was the one who said she no longer wanted to be part of Team Aqua or do anything that would help them.

Shifting her eyes, Maressa replied, “Yeah, I know. It’s just that after everything we’d done, the admins were starting to be impressed with us and thought we would have done a pretty good job. But after that embarrassment, they would never think about promoting us…”

Golduck quacked angrily. This wasn’t about Maressa or the admins or what anyone thought—it was about keeping her promise to Derek. She had successfully attacked a small base and managed to keep both herself and any Team Magma members involved safe. Without the team suspecting her of treason, she could take the other Pokemon and get out of there, find Seaking, and live a normal life again.

At the mention of Seaking, her heart panged. She sat up and mulled over what Golduck said. It was true—as far as she and Derek had planned, the mission was a success. No one from Team Magma had been captured, but she had “proved” to the higher-ups of Team Aqua that she hadn’t betrayed them. What was to stop her from leaving?

“I suppose that’s true. I just hope no one found your horrible battle performance surprising. But Team Aqua did end up getting Team Magma’s Key Card—we’re going to find out something that they know.”

Golduck waved a hand dismissively. Whether it was Team Aqua or Team Magma who had the upper hand—none of that mattered now. For all that mattered, the two of them could go on fighting each other until the end of time.

His vermillion eyes glanced curiously at her. Did she have any plans or preferences for when they were going to leave Team Aqua?

Maressa stared downwards, rolling a Pokeball between her hands. “Well…”

What? he demanded.

“I really wanted to see Sarah and Cloe before I left and hang out with them a bit.”

Golduck shook his head, quacking furiously. She couldn’t take time to say goodbye to some friends—she had decided to leave Team Aqua, and that meant cutting off contact with everyone involved.

“I just want to say goodbye before I leave them for good.”

That was the point! If she was going to make some tearful farewell, then they would know something was up and their plan for escape would be ruined. He knew that Maressa cared for her friends, but she was duty-bound to her Pokemon—her family—first. And as a family, finding Seaking was their immediate priority. Stamping his foot, the Water-type cast her a heavy glare. He refused to do anything that would endanger any of the other Pokemon on their team.

Looking downcast, Maressa stopped rolling the Pokeball between her hands. Her face was strained, and she was reluctant to say anything. But a moment later she murmured, “You’re right. The sooner we get out of here, the better.” Holding up a Pokeball, she said, “And we haven’t even said ‘hi’ yet to Gloom today.”

She tossed the Pokeball in the air, and Gloom appeared before them in a burst of white light. Getting off the bed and sitting next to the Grass-type, Maressa put on a smile and greeted him. “Hey, Gloom!”

The furious glare vanished from Golduck’s face as he quacked hello.

Gloom looked at them both then started glancing uncertainly around the room.

“I’m sorry I haven’t let you out of your Pokeball at all today, and I’m sorry that you haven’t been outside. But there are guards all around the perimeter of the base, and we’re not allowed to go too far outside it. So we’ll just have to make do with this,” she finished with a wave to the bare bedroom.

Gloom had stopped looking around and just stood before her, his face still fixated in a small frown and expressing no further emotion.

Maressa smiled. “Don’t worry—we’ll be out of here soon, and then you can play outside all you want! Does that sound good?”

No response. The Pokemon stood there while Maressa smiled at him and Golduck fidgeted uncomfortably. The Water-type shot a glance at Maressa—what were they to do? This Gloom clearly didn’t have any interest in talking to either of them.

Still smiling, Maressa reached out to the Poison-type and picked him up. As she brought him over to her lap, the stench from his flower nearly overwhelmed her. The rotting odor brought tears to her eyes, and she was struggling not to gag. She could have sworn that he hadn’t smelled this bad before. Maybe the stench he gave off had something to do with his mood? But he seemed just the same as before. Perhaps it was due to a difference in stress levels? She had no idea, though it at least seemed possible that a constantly-changing environment was making him stressed out.

She glanced down at the Pokemon in her arms. The way he sat unmoving, staring at something off to the side, reminded her of how Seaking was shortly after she had met him. A pang of sorrow hit her heart at the thought of it, but it also gave her an idea.

Cradling Gloom in her arms, she leaned her head back and softly sang the lullaby she frequently sang to Seaking a few years ago.

O hush thee, my baby
The night is behind us
And black are the waters that sparkled so green
The moon o’er the combers
Looks downward to find us
At rest in the hollows that rustle between

Where billow meets billow
And soft be thy pillow
O weary wee flipperling,
Curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee,
Nor beast overtake thee
Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas


Maressa sang softly, repeating the last line a few times and swaying slowly. As she sang, she could feel the current of Route 119’s river flow by as she crouched in the water, holding Seaking and trying to calm him; she envisioned the moonlight shining over the dark waters, and felt Seaking’s smooth scales beneath her fingers.

As she finished, she opened her eyes to see Gloom staring straight ahead, his body trembling. Peering over to see his face, Maressa was surprised to see tears fall from his eyes. She glanced up and saw Golduck staring at the Grass-type in shock, looking uncomfortable.

Golduck quacked uncertainly. What was Gloom’s problem?

Maressa shrugged. “I couldn’t tell you.” She hugged the Pokemon more tightly to her, managing to ignore the stench for the moment. “But don’t worry about him—he’ll be fine. He’s just had a lot to cope with.”

She dimly heard the patter of footsteps outside the door, and automatically whipped out her Pokeballs to recall the two Pokemon. They returned in a flash of red light just in time for the door to open and Matt to stand there, staring curiously at the space that was previously occupied. He smiled down at Maressa as she hastened to her feet.

“Relax,” he said with a wave of his hand. “You can have your Pokemon out and chill with them. I don’t mind. I was just coming in to see how you were feeling after that last mission.”

“Really?” Maressa asked with relief. As she played with her singed hair, she sourly admitted, “It could have gone a lot better.”

Matt chuckled, slapping overhanging belly with a meaty hand. “Your hair will grow back, it’s no big deal,” he said to Maressa’s annoyance.

“Did you guys find anything on the access card?”

Matt shrugged. “It was mostly just archives of weather patterns. They weren’t only from Route 120, though, which makes me think that they probably stole those records from the Weather Institute. There were also some simulations recorded on there, so our team is looking into that now. Anyway, I wanted to tell you that you did a good job. Your Pokemon were pretty exceptional.”

“They’re usually much better—I promise,” she answered with a grimace.

“Not at all! Your Golduck might have made a few mistakes, but everyone does from time to time, and his intentions were good. Besides, him chasing that Linoone all around the base and shooting attacks provided enough distraction for us to go in and get the access card without much trouble. Even when he did do something wrong, I could tell that you knew what to do. I think I’d like to keep you around,” he finished as he gave her an approving smile.

Maressa perked up. “Does this mean I don’t have to work with Shelly anymore?”

“I’m going to ask permission to transfer you to my group, and I’m pretty sure it’ll be approved.”

“Really?”

“Yep. The boss honestly doesn’t care that much which grunt goes where—you’re all pretty much the same to him. I’ll contact you later with any new assignments once I hear about it. By the way,” he mentioned as he leaned on the door frame and surveyed Maressa with his pale eyes, “do you want to hang out this evening? A couple of the grunts and I are having drinks. You’re more than welcome to come!”

“Really?” Maressa asked again, her eyes alight with excitement. “I’d love to! Thanks for the invite.”

Matt smiled back. “I’ll see you then.” With those words, he turned away and closed the door.

As soon as the door shut, Golduck popped out of his pokeball, arms crossed and staring intently at where the commander had just stood.

“You heard all that?” Maressa asked her Pokemon.

Golduck nodded and quacked sourly. Matt was tactless.

Maressa shrugged. “I guess. Almost as tactless as you,” she added bitterly as she combed her fingers through her hair.

Golduck glanced at his trainer and quacked again. He didn’t like Matt.

“Well, you’d better, because I’m really hoping that we’ll get to work with him and be free of Shelly. Oh, come on,” she begged when Golduck didn’t react. “He can’t be that bad. I’m sure you’ll prefer things with him. Why don’t you like him?”

Golduck glared daggers at her. She was supposed to get out of Team Aqua as fast as she could, and Matt was clearly focusing attention on her. Being re-assigned to him would make it all the more difficult to leave quietly.

Sighing, Maressa answered, “I know. But don’t worry—we’ll get out of here as soon as the coast is clear. I promise.” As the Water-type continued to stand with arms crossed, she pressed, “What else is wrong?”

The Pokemon glanced back at her but this time with concern. He quacked, telling Maressa that he just wanted her to be careful and stay safe.

She smiled. “Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. Besides, we need to be more concerned about his safety,” she said as she held up Gloom’s Pokeball. “Maybe I can find enough time today to get outside and release him when no one else is watching. I’ll have to check on where the guard is stationed, though—I know there are a lot of watchmen stationed on this river.” She turned back to Golduck. “Anyway, you should take a rest. I know things didn’t go the way I planned to, but you earned this. I’ll see you after I shower.”

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

Evening came. Maressa walked through the corridors, her heart fluttering with excitement. Her pockets were empty—she knew Golduck didn’t like Matt, so she decided to leave him behind. Besides, she was just hanging out with some teammates—it was nothing different from what she did before.

As she walked into a room, she saw Matt and several grunts she didn’t know sitting around a table. Nearby tables were likewise surrounded by grunts playing a variety of games: poker, crazy eights, bridge, and several others. The room was full of cheering and groans of despair as people succeeded or failed in their attempts.

Matt glanced at her, his pale eyes alight when he recognized her.

“Maressa! Glad to see you came. Come join us!”

As Maressa sat down at the table, other grunts reached out to shake her hand. She didn’t recognize any of them.

“This is one of the squads I normally work with,” Matt said offhandedly. “We do a lot of research and work in the southeast, around Dewford and Petalburg.”

“Not so much of the ‘scientific’ research, if you know what I mean,” a small man said with a shifty smile. Several other grunts around the table laughed—Maressa tried to awkwardly laugh along, although she had no idea what he was referring to.

“Ever played crazy eights before, Maressa?” Matt asked.

“No, I haven’t. How do I play?”

“Easy. Each player takes up five cards…”

Maressa barely played cards growing up, but as the night rolled on, it became evident that, while she wasn’t very good at cards, she felt a burning need to win every round and fought viciously.

“You can’t put that one down!” she yelled at a grunt named Katie. “That’s a spade, and we’re playing clubs now!”

Katie “humphed!” as Maressa took her card off the pile and flung it at her. Maressa put down an eight, declared, “hearts!” and put down her final card.

A grunt named Jason took the hearts card off the top of the pile and handed it back to her. “You can’t put that down right away; you need to wait for your next turn.”

“What? No I don’t! That’s my final card—I win!”

No, you need to wait until the next round!”

“No, I don’t!”

“Yes, you do!”

“Maressa, you really do,” Matt said with a laugh.

Reluctantly, Maressa picked her card up. Jason, who had also been on his last card, put his down and was declared the winner.

Maressa glared at him when she felt a nudge from Matt.

“Do you wanna step outside?”

Nodding, she got up and followed him. The outside air was warm and muggy, and the sounds of barking Linoones could be heard in the distance. The starlight shone on the nearby river, giving the water a soft sheen.

“You’re pretty competitive, huh?” Matt asked with a smile.

Maressa blushed and smiled. “I guess a little.”

“I think it’s entertaining—it’s good. I always like it when people are trying their best. None of that mediocre ‘I’ll go easy on people so nobody gets upset.’ I’m really competitive, too—that’s why I just facilitate games now. I kept on getting into fights with the grunts, and as an admin, I shouldn’t really be doing that.”

You? You got into fights with grunts over card games?”

Matt chuckled. “Yeah…”

The two of them kept talking—for how long, Maressa had no idea—but as the night went on, Matt eventually suggested they go back inside.

“You did a good job today,” he added as they parted ways in the corridor. “Get some rest, and I’ll be seeing you again soon.”

Maressa smiled at him. “Thanks—and I’ll see you soon!” As she strode down the hallway, her heart was light and fluttery—part of her wanted to gush to her Pokemon about how much fun she had. But she knew how Golduck felt about Matt. Maybe it was best to wait until he warmed up to him a bit more.

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

Maressa’s eyes darted back and forth from the cards in her hand to the ones on the table before her. Across from her and on her left, Cloe and Sarah were rapidly removing cards from their hands and picking up new ones from their decks. On Maressa’s right, Mark was looking uncertainly at the cards on the table and the ones in his hand.

Through the windows, the only visible sight was a sky as black as pitch—any celestial bodies were obscured by curtains of cloud. A small light on the ceiling illuminated the gameplay on the table below as the four people rapidly picked up and placed down cards in a game Sarah had dubbed “Peanuts”—which, as far as Maressa could tell, was just four-way Solitaire.

“How are you feeling about your new position?” Cloe asked Maressa. Once she had cleaned up, Maressa had lunch with her friends and filled them in on what had happened to her, telling them the same things she had told Archie. Even now, she felt the weight of regret at betraying her friends’ trust.

“I’m kinda looking forward to it,” Maressa admitted as she continued to slam cards on the table. “It’ll be great no longer having Shelly tell me what to do all the time.”

“But won’t it be just the same with Matt?”

“No, Matt is way better than Shelly,” Sarah butted in. “He’s a lot less pushy and in your face. If you do something wrong, he’ll tell you and get mad at you for it, but otherwise he’s really chill.”

“I like Shelly,” Mark admitted.

”How?”

“She really knows what she’s doing, and her sassiness is actually really funny. She can also be nice—sometimes.”

“If by ‘sometimes,’ you mean ‘never,’ then I can agree with that,” Maressa murmured.

“Hey, if you’re looking to work with nice people, then you got the raw end of the deal,” he shot back.

“What do you mean by that?”

“You said that Matt is sending you out to the Northwestern part of Hoenn, right?”

“What about it?”

“Those people are thugs, Maressa.”

She glanced at him skeptically. “You know this organization isn’t exactly legal…”

“I get what he’s saying, though,” Cloe added. “He’s talking about people who are only in Team Aqua for the money."

“This is our day-job. We all get paid.”

“Yeah,” Sarah said, “but people like us are in Team Aqua because it’s right—it’s what we believe in and we’re fighting to help other people. But the team members who are sent out on small assignments without their commanders are only on Team Aqua because they want to get paid. They don’t care about their Pokemon or about this world. They don’t care about what they’re told to do—they just do it because they want their money.”

“Yeah, well,” Maressa muttered, “that seems to be the kind of people teams like this one want the most.”

“Maressa,” Mark said sharply, and she glanced up at him, slightly worried. His dark eyes were narrowed as he asked, “where is your Peanuts pile?”

Maressa looked down at the table and suddenly realized that her deck was completely depleted. “I win! PEANUTS!”

“NO!” Cloe slammed her hand of cards down on the table. “I had one card left—one card! I was so close!” She sighed as Sarah began to collect the rest of the cards on the table and tally up everyone’s points.

“That leaves Maressa with seventy-nine, Cloe with sixty-seven, Mark with sixty-three and me with thirty-two… How do I only have thirty-two points?”

“It’s because you suck,” Mark said simply.

Sarah snorted. “Thanks, Mark. Maressa, I can’t believe you won three rounds in a row. You’re so lucky.”

“For real, though,” Cloe agreed. “I can’t believe you managed to escape from Team Magma and then came here and got to go on a mission right away!”

“I can’t believe it either,” Maressa murmured. As the words left her mouth, her thoughts turned to Derek. How was he doing? Had he been punished for her escape? She hoped that he was able to figure out that she was okay.

“Well,” Sarah declared as she stood up, “Hopefully your luck will hold out for a while yet. I need to get to bed.”

“What? Why? It’s only nine p.m.!”

“I’m supposed to be up and ready by six tomorrow morning.”

“But this could be our last chance to talk for a while!” Maressa whined as Cloe and Mark also stood up.

“Maybe for a few days, but we’ll see each other again soon. Besides, we’re both under Matt now—we’ll be seeing each other more often, if anything!”

“Why do you look this upset?” Cloe asked.

The regret and guilt was weighing heavier on Maressa’s heart more than ever before. She longed for nothing more than to tell them the truth, to tell them everything that had really happened and all about meeting Derek and just stay up all night talking to them just like she used to.

But she couldn’t.

“It’s just—I feel like I just got back and already I have to leave again. It’s like we never get enough chance to talk to each other anymore.”

“Well, if your Pokemon weren’t so good at battling, then you could have stayed at the bottom of the team ranking with us and stayed on watch for hours,” Cloe said.

Sarah snorted. “Poor Maressa, your Pokemon are too strong and you’re being promoted. You have it so hard.” She smiled at her friend. “Hey, maybe if my Sealeo can get back to training, then we can get promoted as well and be with you more often!”

The four of them walked into the hallway, wishing each other well before heading in their own directions.

“Cheer up, Maressa,” Cloe said. “It’s not as if we won’t see each other again. We’ll talk soon.” Giving her friend a hug, she and Sarah departed down the hallway as Mark walked down a different corridor.

Maressa watched their forms recede into the darkness, a sorrow weighing in her as she reflected on her friend’s parting words.

“I wish it was like that,” she whispered.
 

Adamhuarts

Mew specialist
Pronouns
He/Him
Partner
mew
CHAPTER 2 REVIEW

This chapter was pretty short, but quite a bit of stuff happened in it worth talking about.

I think you did a good job showing how nervous Maressa was at the beginning of the chapter. Her interaction with Mark was also pretty nice. I wonder how the two became friends.

The Slateport scene was pretty wholesome until shit suddenly hit the fan when the Aqua gang revealed themselves. Things got pretty intense when Mark tried to get Maressa to knock Stern out. Poor scientist lad. Prior to this I'd thought that your depiction of Team Aqua was going to be a less obviously evil group one than the one in the games, so I was a bit surprised to see you're going this route.

I wonder if the events of this fic will be closely tied to how they happened in the games, or if the chain of events will be wildly different to the Team Aqua we know. In any case, I look forward to seeing more of Maressas growing dilemma of being in Team Aqua.
 

Umbramatic

The Ghost Lord
Location
The Yangverse
Pronouns
Any
Here for Catnip!

Well this is ANOTHER blast from the past! I remember following this fic back on Serebii back in the day, and here is a good place to kinda start over with it.

I remember this intro distinctly, and I have one overall conclusion to draw about it:

lesbians_harold.png

It's real nice to see a good character dynamic right off the bat, even if my tired brain kept mixing up the characters. It's also real good to see how you handle the Pokemon characters, I like it a lot. I will say the stuff about certain Aqua operations is a bit yikes given what happens next but not like, in a bad way.

I will try to catch up with this fic again later! Just not now. I am tired.
 
Chapter 13 New

Starlight Aurate

Just a fallen star
Location
Route 123
Partner
mightyena
CHAPTER 2 REVIEW

This chapter was pretty short, but quite a bit of stuff happened in it worth talking about.

I think you did a good job showing how nervous Maressa was at the beginning of the chapter. Her interaction with Mark was also pretty nice. I wonder how the two became friends.
Hmmm maybe it would've been better for me to show development of friendships while in Team Aqua? I wanted to get the plot rolling so I started out with characters on the teams being friends.

The Slateport scene was pretty wholesome until shit suddenly hit the fan when the Aqua gang revealed themselves. Things got pretty intense when Mark tried to get Maressa to knock Stern out. Poor scientist lad. Prior to this I'd thought that your depiction of Team Aqua was going to be a less obviously evil group one than the one in the games, so I was a bit surprised to see you're going this route.
It'd probably be better if it was something less obviously evil, but I wanted to at least show Maressa starting to have doubts about the morality of the Team by the time this fic starts.

I wonder if the events of this fic will be closely tied to how they happened in the games, or if the chain of events will be wildly different to the Team Aqua we know. In any case, I look forward to seeing more of Maressas growing dilemma of being in Team Aqua.
You'll see ;) Thanks so much for leaving a review! I always enjoy seeing comments from you; they make my day! :D

Here for Catnip!

Well this is ANOTHER blast from the past! I remember following this fic back on Serebii back in the day, and here is a good place to kinda start over with it.

I remember this intro distinctly, and I have one overall conclusion to draw about it:

View attachment 272
LOL good to see you back! If you're here for any romance or shipping, this fic is going to be quite a disappointment then, heh.

It's real nice to see a good character dynamic right off the bat, even if my tired brain kept mixing up the characters. It's also real good to see how you handle the Pokemon characters, I like it a lot. I will say the stuff about certain Aqua operations is a bit yikes given what happens next but not like, in a bad way.

I will try to catch up with this fic again later! Just not now. I am tired.
Thanks again for stopping by! I'm glad you enjoyed the first iteration and I hope all is well!

Here's Chapter 13 (on schedule, for once)! I don't have much else to say about it, but I hope you enjoy!


Chapter 13


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


“Are you listening to me?”

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

The Comet!

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

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

It was true.

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

“All right, team. As soon as it takes form,” he said into his headgear. He kept his dark eyes fixated on the glow ahead of him, sweat beading on his forehead. He couldn’t afford to mess this up—not since Maressa had escaped and Team Aqua had destroyed one of their smaller bases. Both were small slip-ups—but both happened so quickly, and both were his fault. He knew Maxie was becoming angrier with him—the man who had given Tabitha a new life was on the verge of punishing him. He shuddered at the thought.

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

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

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

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

“Now!”

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

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

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

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

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

“Lunatone, stop him!” Liza shouted.

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

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

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

Liza screamed as she punched Tabitha’s sides. “What are you doing? Let go of him! Stop it! Stop—”

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

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

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

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

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

“Are we all set to go?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We have them,” the commander said.

“Show me.”

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

“This is the kid Jirachi woke up for.”

“And where is the Pokemon?”

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

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

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

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

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

Where’s Tate?

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

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

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

The boss was not pleased. “You don’t want to do that,” he threatened quietly.

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

Tabitha raced over and lifted Breloom off his leader. Within his head, he heard the voice again—filled with anger, and sending chills down Tabitha’s spine.

Get away from him.

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

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

Jirachi turned towards Maxie, and Tabitha felt a weight pressing heavily down on his mind. The sleeves of his shirt and legs of his pants fluttered from the pure energy Jirachi radiated. Turning towards Maxie, he saw his leader stood perfectly still, staring at the legendary with a level gaze.

Let him go.

“Or what? You’ll kill me and tear this place apart? Look at the position you’re in. I have no doubt that you could teleport yourself out of this room, but those Dark-type Pokemon will prevent you from taking the boy along. And if you try anything, he will rip out that boy’s throat. None of your psychic powers will affect these Pokemon, and if you think you’re fast enough to attack him before he attacks the kid, you can try your luck.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Derek’s. He’s trustworthy.”

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

“Yes, sir.”

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

“Yes, sir. Lilycove.”

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

“No, sir. I’m sorry about that.”

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

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

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

“But do we have to use the Orbs and Groudon to do this? If Jirachi really can grant wishes, can’t we just wish for the land to grow on its own? We can’t it directly return the damaged and polluted parts of nature to their original states and get rid of people?”

Maxie glared at Tabitha. “Groudon is the only Pokemon we will be using to do that. Besides, Jirachi will only be here for a week. Once we awaken Groudon, it’s ours for as long as we want. But we can’t use Jirachi to find Groudon or the Orbs… We still don’t have leads on those. Courtney says the Cave of Origin doesn’t hold information to their whereabouts, only how they were made.” He sat, lost in thought for a moment, before he indicated the door. “You may go now. I have a lot to work on.”

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

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

He turned to Breloom and told the Pokemon to go back to Derek, but the Breloom was still shaking and chirped pitifully. Tabitha tried to walk away, but the Grass-type wouldn’t stop following him. He didn’t want to be left alone! Heaving a sigh, Tabitha began to walk towards the clinic. He knew he shouldn’t be such a pushover for Pokemon, but sometimes, he couldn’t help it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We’ve all got to die at some point—I know it’s a lot to take in, but don’t feel guilty about it. It was her fault; she chose to escape. Also,” he added as he was about to depart, “we have a prisoner down in the basement in the room off to the left. My Mightyena and some Houndoom are guarding him at the moment. I’ll switch the Pokemon out but I’ll just want you to go down there twice a day and feed the guy.”

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

“Thanks. I’ll be in my office—let me know if you need anything,” Tabitha said and closed the door behind him.

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

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

Sitting on his bed, he beckoned Breloom over. “So, Breloom,” he asked, “what happened to you today?”
 

OldschoolJohto

Never not editing
Pronouns
She/Her
Partner
solrock
Responding to Chapter 10! Nice to get a glimpse of your Archie so soon after finishing my Archie chapter! Sounds like she just keeps getting herself in deeper despite her doubts.

if she was not so tired, she may have jumped off Tentacruel and swam for shore herself.
Swum

The water shot in fast, vigorous currents through the stones
I’m not opposed to adverbs as a general rule, but in this case I do feel like your verbs are already doing so much more for you. Shot and slapped are great words to show the force and violence of the water. I also like the world-building aspect that this cave is hard to get to, or at least not an appealing route to travel.

water engulfed the Pokemon and his person
“His person” feels a little strong. They’re not exactly bonded to each other. If anything, I’d say something like “the tentacruel and his human cargo” but even then I’m not sure the emphasis on the tentacruel is appropriate for your perspective character here.

Each time the water covered them, she felt certain that she would never resurface, but Tentacruel always managed to get her breathing again.
Something weird happens here. We go from being covered in water ... to tentacruel CPR? In between it seems like she has to be falling off and the tentacruel is fishing her back out, but we’re missing that information.

Maressa’s feet slipped off his bell.
This implies that she’s standing instead of sitting, which strikes me as too unstable to possibly work.

Glancing down into the water, she made out two lavender orbs
Ooh be careful with this word choice in a story where orbs are also important items of magical significance. This confused me on the first read.

determined not to fall victim to any Pokemon’s hypnosis.

Her heart raced. She had a Pokemon trying to hypnotize her,
“Lavender” wasn’t enough to convey hypnosis to me. Maybe give us some room spinning, heavy eyelids, sliding sideways, can’t quite look away vibes?

She couldn’t see anything but the stars.
It wasn’t clear until the next sentence that she was looking at the cave entrance, which was momentarily confusing. I was wondering how she could still see stars that deep in the cave.

Hello? Is anyone there? I’m a member of Team Aqua, and Sean told me that I could find your base here.”
Feels strange to call it “your base” as if she’s not part of them. I also thought this could do with more pauses—give us an echo or something!

none was the one she wanted to see most
It would be nice to know what makes her lantern stand out to her, or at least how she knows these ones are wrong. Fins too long? Missing the scar from when XYZ? Body too stubby? Etc.

Well, you’ll have to talk to our boss first before you can see anyone else.”
Again, “our” felt weirdly exclusionary here. Maybe the boss.

I’m Noah, by the way. Are you nervous?” he asked with a smile.
Ah, yes, a good punny name.

Archie’s not bad, really. Show respect, definitely, and if it’s your first time meeting him, don’t joke around too much at first. But I’m sure he’ll warm up to you; he likes everyone once he gets to know them.”
This was effective, showing what he’s like by the way others talk about him.

You mean Archie? He’s here?”
This would be a nice moment to show us what she already knows, thinks she knows, or imagines about him.

The man in black looked disappointed.
By process of elimination, this is obviously Archie, so it felt weird to avoid using his name. Also, this would be a good opportunity to describe how he stacks up to the image she’d built of him in her head. Is he more imposing in person, less?

More often than we’d like. Even with sharp rocks and fast currents, some people insist on exploring this area, in which case we’ll usually have our Pokemon take them out.”
What’s his tone here? Angry? Bored?

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

Because it sustains this entire planet and everything on it. Many creatures spend their lives in the ocean without ever seeing land—some live without even seeing sunlight. Entire civilizations have built their culture around the ocean, adjusting and shaping their lifestyles to work with it.”
✅

My own family was one that lived at the ocean’s edge. When I was thirteen, we left. Eleven years later, I made my way back to that same spot where we lived, and it was completely gone. All the plants that grew there, the rock formations, even peoples’ homes—gone. The water ran right against a sandy shore with hotels and beach houses.”

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

“The oceans are dying, and it’s because humans decided to change this world to make it more convenient for them. Have you ever been to Lilycove?”
A couple things here: first, “my family was one who lived ...” is wordy. My family lived ... etc. Second, the connection between “my town has been replaced with tourist stuff” and “the ocean is dying” doesn’t quite land. The first one is about human constructs being replaced by other human constructs, and the second one is about the more-than-human. Your later dialogue for him makes that a little clearer, but here the jump is too big.

And every time someone gets bitten by Sharpedo, people make a big fuss and wonder if the ocean is safe for anyone. But the next week, they forget, and the beach is as crowded as ever.
I think you could expand this, too. For me, this wants something to the effect of “people blame the sharpedo, even though juman changes to the environment are what cause the sharpedo to hunt closer to shore because XYZ.” Or even a “so humans [take action to fortify the beach or take actions against the sharpedos] and then by the next week they’re back ...”

know there’s a fad where children will get a Pokemon while they’re young and challenge different Gyms in a region, and that the people who promote this say that the whole point of is for the kid to grow together with his Pokemon and learn what it means to cooperate with them. But even then, the goal they’re aiming for is to be the Pokemon Champion, as if they rule over Pokemon.
👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 This works well.

While the ocean had seemed fine when she was riding Tentacruel, she had heard reports of people on Mossdeep planning to tear down the mangrove forests and start aquaculture.
“The ocean had seemed fine” is vague abd doesn’t give me much. Ripping out mangroves for aquaculture is a big oof though. 💔

It brought rainwater, made the oceans fresh and suitable for life.
Maybe not fresh though, since it’s still salt water.

A Pokmon of this power won’t be locked away
Typo!

This is definitely in part the influence of reading a John le Carre spy novel in a frenzy the past few days, but—I wanted Archie to sweat her a little harder. She has a few moments of nervousness, but he still accepts her story rather easily. Might be nice if her info about these bases felt more like something she was offering up pleasingly rather than an afterthought.

I enjoyed Archie though! We love a monologue about the ocean. I’m wondering what those bites are about though. Too much “love” from his pokemon?
 
Last edited:
Bonus Chapter New

Starlight Aurate

Just a fallen star
Location
Route 123
Partner
mightyena
Responding to Chapter 10! Nice to get a glimpse of your Archie so soon after finishing my Archie chapter! Sounds like she just keeps getting herself in deeper despite her doubts.
I also thought it was neat we posted chapters about Archie at around the same time! From what I've read so far of yours, I quite like your take on him! And oh yeah, Maressa is super indecisive when it comes to picking something and following through with it.

I’m not opposed to adverbs as a general rule, but in this case I do feel like your verbs are already doing so much more for you. Shot and slapped are great words to show the force and violence of the water. I also like the world-building aspect that this cave is hard to get to, or at least not an appealing route to travel.
Fair enough (I feel like I say that soooo much in my responses haha). This chapter wasn't heavily edited, so your later comments about my word choice are also explained by that. Looks like it definitely needs a more thorough tweaking; thank you for pointing these out! Also the image of "Tentacruel PCR" is hilarious/gross/kinda creepy hahaha.

It would be nice to know what makes her lantern stand out to her, or at least how she knows these ones are wrong. Fins too long? Missing the scar from when XYZ? Body too stubby? Etc.
Hmmm I haven't thought of pointing those aspects out, but her Lanturn is definitely the kind that would have a stubby body! uwu

Ah, yes, a good punny name.
While most of my puns are intentional, believe it or not, this one was random. I took the name from the fastest swimmer on my high school swim team and just ran with it ^_^;

I like all the suggestions you gave here about Archie and others impression of him--I appreciate the tips! I could have done more with showcasing him both in other peoples' perspectives and outside of them.

LOL thanks, Archie. Great advice.
Yeah he's the best boss ever.

Maybe not fresh though, since it’s still salt water.
Well, I was thinking of "fresh" in terms of "not so acidic that only bacteria can live in it."

Argh! These always get me!!

This is definitely in part the influence of reading a John le Carre spy novel in a frenzy the past few days, but—I wanted Archie to sweat her a little harder. She has a few moments of nervousness, but he still accepts her story rather easily. Might be nice if her info about these bases felt more like something she was offering up pleasingly rather than an afterthought.
I first read that as you wanted Archie to swear a little harder (like a drunken pirate) and I thought "But I almost never use swear words...?" and then I read more carefully and NOW I see what you mean. Totally fair! I wasn't confident in my ability to write a not-totally-friendly-but-no-proof-of-betrayal interrogation, so I held myself back.

I enjoyed Archie though! We love a monologue about the ocean. I’m wondering what those bites are about though. Too much “love” from his pokemon?
It was kinda to add to his appearance of a roughened-up sailor and someone who gets his own hands dirty. I imagined they came from him doing too much hands-on work with his own Sharpedo and Carvanha and occasionally fighting them himself (he always won fights with them, btw). Thanks again for your review! Always happy to see something from you :)

I decided to do a bonus chapter! This fic was originally about the low-key lives of grunts, and I wanted to write a bit more about that, even if it isn't the main focus of the meat of the fic. You can skip this chapter without missing anything plot-important; I just wanted to make more use of some characters I had already made and fleshed out. Enjoy!


Bonus Chapter



Sarah’s blue eyes focused on the Team Magma member ahead of her as he gave out orders.

“As Team Magma members, the bond we share with our Pokemon is very important. They need to listen to us—and we need to listen to them…”

At her feet, Zigzagoon yawned and shook his fur. Sarah wished she could have brought Sealeo with her, but the Ice-type had no place in a Team Magma base. As she listened to the Magma member’s comments and commands for them to group off in pairs, the anxiety that had been pounding in her heart started to die down.

She could do this. Shelly wouldn’t have sent her off on her own if she thought it was too dangerous for her.

“It’s a small base of theirs in central Hoenn,” the Aqua commander had told Sarah when she brought her to her office. “What with Team Magma capturing Jirachi, we need to be more aware of their motives and plans than ever. There aren’t any commanders there, just a few members slightly higher-ranking than grunts. They wouldn’t be holding Jirachi there, but it’ll be good for us to know what it’s being used for and whether they have any future plans for it.

“You’ll only be there for three days. Avoid talking to Team Magma members as much as you can. Take a quick look, send us photos of their base maps, and I want reports at the end of every day.” She smiled at Sarah, her red eyes glinting with approval. “You show a lot of promise, and I’m excited to see where you go from here.”

Sarah relished the feelings of excitement and affirmation she experienced in those moments—Shelly trusted her! Matt had referred her, and she was good enough to do this on her own! She was actually helping Team Aqua!

She snapped back to the present as she saw her Zigzagoon face off against a male Team Magma grunt and his Zubat.

“Zubat, use leech life!”

“Zigzagoon, growl!”

The Normal-type bared its tiny fangs and let out a growl at the incoming Zubat. The Zubat’s ultra-sensitive ears picked up the sound and the Poison-type reeled.

“Now, bite him!”

The room all around Sarah echoed with growls, yelps, squeaks, and the occasional embers. She glanced around. Most of the grunts had very young or inexperienced Pokemon: she saw several Poochyena and Zigzagoon, a few Baltoy, the occasional Cacnea and even a Magby. Her eyes swiveled back to the front of the room where the commanding grunt stood and her body went numb in shock.

A second man stood next to the commanding grunt, his arms crossed as he surveyed the new recruits. He held himself confidently and there was an air of authority about him. He was dressed similarly to the grunt but his pant legs were marked with white stripes.

A commander.

What was a commander doing out here? Commanders didn’t drill or train the newest recruits—did they? At least, Sarah, Cloe and Maressa were all interviewed by low-ranking officers in Team Aqua and didn’t even see Matt or Shelly until they had already worked for Team Aqua for a few weeks. And this was everyone’s first day with Team Magma.

What was he doing here?

She snapped back as she heard Zigzagoon bark and saw that the small Pokemon held Zubat, who was flapping his wings madly, between his jaws and jerking his head around.

“Zigzagoon, enough!”

As the other trainer reached out his arm for his Zubat to perch on, he smiled at Sarah. Jovial eyes shone from his round face. “You fight really well!”

“Oh, thanks,” Sarah said quickly, then took Zigzagoon to pair off with another team member.

For a few hours, the trainers and their Pokemon fought each other, seeing who would land the first hit. Sarah was grateful for Zigzagoon—even though she wasn’t a very adept Pokemon battler, the Zigzagoon Shelly lent her was definitely capable of holding his own. Sarah kept her eyes averted from the Team Magma commander—seeing him made her so scared. It was harder to focus on the task at hand knowing he was there, but as long as she gave orders to Zigzagoon, she blended in perfectly.

“Everyone, stop,” the leading grunt commanded. “Your Pokemon need a break. Recall them and take time to rest. I want you all back in here at 5 p.m.”

Looking down at Zigzagoon, she saw his tongue lolling out of his mouth as he panted. She felt guilty—she hadn’t even realized how hard he had been working. Taking out a Pokeball, she recalled him and made her way to the door with the other grunts.

“Hey, hey!”

Sarah kept her head down and eyes forward, not wanting to make eye contact with anyone, until a woman next to her tapped her arm.

“I think he wants to talk to you,” she said, indicating someone behind them.

Reluctantly, Sarah turned and saw the first grunt she battled walk over to her. He was still smiling.

“Hey—you did really well! What’s your name?”

“Sarah,” she said quickly and turned around.

“That’s a beautiful name! I’m Samuel. Do you—do you want to hang out? We can get lunch together.”

Sarah’s heart clenched and her stomach did flips. Glaring up at Samuel, she said, “No, I’m not interested.”

Samuel’s face fell and he suddenly looked guilty. “Oh, I—I didn’t mean it like that, I just thought, since we’re both new—“

No,” she said firmly, and turned around again.

“Sarah,” a different voice said. She looked around and her heart nearly stopped when she saw the commander. His cold, calculating gaze was directed straight at her. “Wait here for a moment, please.”

Sarah numbly stood beside him as she watched the rest of the people leave the room, feeling as if the world was falling apart around her. This was it. She had been found out. They knew she was a Team Aqua member and she was going to be their prisoner.

The group of people quickly became a trickle and soon, she and the commander were the only ones left. The door was still open, and she could hear the people mill about in the halls.

He looked down at her—her fear must have been visible. “Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble. I saw that other Team Magma member talking to you. Is there anything there that I should be aware of?”

Sarah stared at him for a second in disbelief. So she wasn’t found out? He was only concerned about the possibility of her and another grunt getting too close?

Regaining composure, she quickly said, “Oh, no, sir, it’s not like that at all. I’m not here for relationships—I’m not about to do anything like that."

The commander nodded. “Was he bothering you?”

“Oh, no! I think he was honest—I think he just wanted to make friends.”

Tabitha gazed at her coolly for a second before averting his eyes and looking at the door. “I’m glad to hear that. I want you to know, Sarah, that if ever someone tells you do to something you don’t want to—if anyone threatens you, or does something to you and tells you to not repeat it—come directly to me. I have no patience for that sort of behavior among our team. If it’s a petty dispute or disagreement between grunts, then sort it out yourself. I have no time for that. But if it’s more serious, let me know. I try to travel between bases frequently.”

Sarah nodded, feeling as if an immense weight was lifted off her chest. “Yes, sir.”

“Thank you. You may go, now.”

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

As a new Team Magma grunt (or so they thought), Sarah was given a small bedroom in their little base. There was nothing in the room but a bed and a few drawers, but it would be plenty for the three days. Bending down, she removed two electric devices from her pack. One looked like a miniature computer that was small enough to fit in one hand. The other looked like a cell phone from the 1980s, with a simplistic screen and a number pad. She then removed a small grey box and some tape. The box was the exact same shade of grey as her Team Magma gloves.

Removing her gloves, she took out a sewing kit and some tape and set about making a hole in the fabric of the gloves and attaching the miniature camera in there. As she worked, her thoughts turned to the events of the past day.

Everything turned out to be going smoothly so far, even with the commander there! The plan had been simple: show up to a recruiting event for Team Magma, display her abysmal battling skills (although, she admitted with amusement, that part wasn’t completely a lie), and be assigned to a small base in the middle of nowhere.

Even if the base was small and would ultimately be unimportant, Sarah felt very affirmed by getting to go as a spy. Who knew? Maybe, if she got all of this right, she could eventually spy on larger Team Magma operations…

Once she finished hiding the camera in her glove, she examined her handiwork. It didn’t look half-bad; only by close inspection could someone see a miniature lens hidden in the fabric.

Turning to the miniature computer, Sarah accessed the camera and turned it on. Now everything the camera picked up was recorded and sent to her small computer—it was just a matter of getting images of the base.

Sarah opened a drawer and stuffed her belongings inside, being careful to hide the electronics under her pack. Standing up, she took Zigzagoon’s Pokeball and attached it to her belt as she headed out the door.

In the late evening hours, the base was silent—but not dark. Ceiling lights illuminated the hallways, filling them with dull, lifeless light. Sarah kept going, her heart pounding with anticipation, just hoping that she wouldn’t come across the commander, hoping that he had already left their little base.

She didn’t expect to encounter much; if she could just find a layout or map of the base, that would be enough. But all she saw around the corner was another empty hall.

She didn’t want to spend too much time out and about, so she walked around with her hand on her chin or held uncertainly before her so the camera could get a clear view of the halls. At one point, she peered around the hall and immediately jerked back: a Loudred stood with his trainer. Both were at ease, leaning against the wall, looking bored. Probably a higher-ranking grunt keeping watch to make sure the newer recruits weren’t getting into trouble at night. He didn’t seem to notice Sarah, but she didn’t want to push her luck.

After an otherwise uneventful walk-through, she returned to her room and pulled out her small computer, typed up a quick report to send to Shelly, and turned on the other electric device. She dialed a few numbers into it and soon heard it hum. Shelly told her the Magneton steel in there would block any interference, so whatever defense a small base like that would have against transmission, the device should be able to stall it so her report to Shelly could get through.

Sarah kept it on long enough to hit “Send,” then turned it off again. Her heart still pounded with anticipation—she knew nothing would go wrong, but the nature of her work was new to her and it was still nerve-wracking.

As she lay in bed, she thought of all the possibilities that would happen. Was she doing a good job? Would her report get through to Shelly? Did she make a convincing Team Magma grunt? What would tomorrow bring?

As her brain wrestled with these questions, she fell into a fitful sleep.

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

The next morning passed similarly to the first, with the commanding grunt—Sarah learned his name was Connor—giving orders to them and their Pokemon. Today had the trainers and Pokemon work together in doing a series of sprints through the room.

Sarah hated it. After just one round, she was sweaty and panting hard. Why did Team Magma wear such infernally hot hoodies? And after spending so much time in pants for Team Aqua’s uniform, she felt uncomfortable walking around in a mini-skirt. A really, really short mini-skirt. How was it practical at all?

At one point, she looked up and her heart jumped to her throat when she saw the commander standing with Connor again. Why was he still here? Wouldn’t he leave soon? At any rate, it didn’t make her job any easier knowing she would have to dodge him.

Once night came and the rest of the grunts were in their beds, Sarah set up as she did the previous night. She just had to get through the rest of today, then tomorrow, and then she was out of there! As much as she looked forward to finishing, she couldn’t deny that it was exciting to be on spy missions. Setting up her cameras and writing reports made it feel as if her work was tangible—like she was really contributing to Team Aqua’s efforts.

Heart pounding in anticipation, she walked through the hallway as before, keeping her eyes peeled for any map or directory of any sort. She walked down an unfamiliar hallway she had yet—

“Sarah?”

She jerked her head around at the sound of her name, but her fright turned to annoyance when she saw Samuel standing there. His Zubat was perched on his shoulder, its wings folded around its little body. Samuel looked tired and looked at her curiously.

“What are you doing out here?”

“I’m looking for the women’s bathroom—I didn’t see one anywhere near my room.”

“Oh, I’m pretty sure it’s in the opposite direction. It should be at the end of the hall from the women’s rooms; this is the men’s area.”

Sarah smiled, but inside she was disappointed in herself. “Oh, thanks for telling me that.”

Samuel bobbed his head. “No problem. Listen, I really want to apologize for the other day—“

“No, don’t mention it,” Sarah cut him off. She was not interested in making relationships with any Team Magma members—platonic or otherwise—or holding idle chit-chat with them.

“I just really felt like I came off the wrong way. I want you to know that I was just trying to be nice, and make friends—“

“Don’t mention it,” she said more firmly, dropping her false smile. “I’m going to bed now. Goodnight.” She turned tail and walked down the hallway, leaving Samuel looking slightly crestfallen. Not that she cared—she was upset at being forced to turn in early for the evening. But it couldn’t be helped. Better to call it quits early than to get in trouble with Team Magma, right?

As she rounded a corner, she jumped in surprise at the sudden appearance of a Loudred. It looked up at her suspiciously. Behind it was the same trainer from the other night, leering at Sarah with a small smile.

“What are you doing up so late, I wonder? New recruits are supposed to be in bed.”

“I know, I know—I didn’t know where the bathroom was and got lost.”

“Sounded like a little disagreement back there,” he gestured with a nod of his head. His small eyes stayed on Sarah, leering at her over his smug smirk.

Indignation rising, Sarah said firmly, “It was nothing. I’m going to bed now.” She tried to walk past him but he sidestepped, blocking her way. She glared up at him. “Excuse me.”

“What are you up to?” he asked with the small smile on his face.

“I’m going to bed.”

“But are you tired? You want to hang out here with me for a bit?”

“No, I don’t. Now let me go.”

“Or what? You don’t have any authority here.”

“I’ll scream,” she threatened.

He scoffed. “See my Loudred there? His soundproof ability stops all sound we make from going through these halls. Go ahead and scream, kick—anything you want. But no one will be able to hear you.”

As Sarah glanced back at the Loudred and saw the Team Magma grunt approach her, her heartbeat raced. She reached for Zigzagoon’s Pokeball and released him in a flash of white light. But Zigzagoon had only just appeared when Loudred delivered a swift punch, sending him flying against a wall.

“Zigzagoon!” she gasped. Zigzagoon yipped and struggled to stand back up.

Sarah looked up as the grunt stood over her and the blood in her veins turned to ice. She wanted to scream, but in her terror, she was reduced to numb silence.

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

“These are their IDs, sir.”

“Thank you, Connor. You may go.”

Connor left Tabitha alone in the small filing room, a folder with IDs from the new recruits lying open on the table. Tabitha swiftly glanced over them. He partly wished he could have done interviews with prospective Team Magma members—getting an idea of what everyone’s thoughts and views were always intrigued him and was something he enjoyed the most. But with the hectic workload lately, it was better for him to hand it off to Connor. Still, he wanted to do a swift glance over their paperwork in case anything was overlooked.

Mightyena was sniffing around the various files and folders lying about in the room. Tabitha grimaced as he glanced—he would have to scold the secretary for letting the room get in such disarray.

As he checked the IDs of the new recruits, his eyes lingered on that of SARAH ARONNAX. Her ID said she was born 25 years ago in Petalburg City. He scanned the other ones, seeing people in their late 30’s as young as 18 from a variety of cities—mostly in Hoenn, but a few from neighboring regions.

He stopped. Something seemed off. He picked up Sarah’s ID and one belonging to GREG STEIN and held them up next to each other. When they were together, Tabitha saw that the printing on Sarah’s ID was lopsided a little bit and the corners weren’t as rounded as the rest. He lightly squeezed both in his hand; Greg’s ID stayed rigid, but Sarah’s bent fairly easily.

He looked at her ID. A fake? But why?

With a sinking feeling in his stomach, he thought of several possibilities as to why—and none of them were good. Pocketing the ID, he made his way out the door and toward the women’s rooms, Mightyena trailing his footsteps.

He stopped outside Sarah’s assigned room and hesitated. He really, really hated walking in to a woman’s room without at least knocking first—but in this situation, announcing his presence would do damage. Looking down at his canine companion, he asked, “Can you go in there and check? Please?”

Without a word, Mightyena slipped into the shadows cast by the hallway as if they were liquid. Tabitha only waited a few seconds when Mightyena poked his head back out.

Sarah wasn’t in there. The room was empty.

Tabitha immediately opened the door—unlocked—and stepped in to her room. Her bed looked used, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Was she on just a quick bathroom break? That would be the best-case scenario, but something told him there was more to it than that. He glanced at his watch; it was well past curfew, and all the new recruits were supposed to up early tomorrow morning.

“Mightyena, can you try to sniff her out? I’m going to look around in here.”

Tabitha heard the padding of Mightyena’s feet as he left the room, letting out whuffs of air as he sniffed. Looking around, Tabitha shuffled the objects in Sarah’s room to see if she had anything suspicious.

He opened the drawers of her dresser—she hadn’t unpacked her things yet, and her backpack was stuffed into the bottom drawer. Tabitha pulled it out and saw a light emanating from the back of the drawer.

Reaching in, he felt two objects and held them up. One looked like a crude cell phone. The other was a small computer that was turned on—the image was moving rapidly, and he couldn’t make any sense of what it was supposed to show. Tapping the keyboard, he was able to exit the moving image and found what looked like a miniature desktop screen. There were only a few portals: “NOTEPAD,” “CAMERA,” and “CONTACTS.”

Tabitha hit “CONTACTS” and it took him to a very brief address book. A few names were listed: “Boss,” “Shelly,” “Mattimeo,” and “Oscar.”

He flipped back to the homepage and hit “NOTEPAD” as his heartrate quickened. In it were a few simple sentences.

“Day 1.

“Went through new recruit training regimen. They had us pair off and do practice Pokemon battles. Saw male Team Magma commander. He noticed me and told me to let him know if I need anything. Walked through the halls after curfew. Didn’t find anything of interest. Spotted another member. Probably on watch. Went straight back to my room.”

Tabitha released a breath of air. Flipping the computer closed and putting the other device—probably something used to block signals—into his pants pockets, he hurried into the hall.

They had a spy. And while this base was small and had nothing of interest, they needed to root out spies as quickly as they could.

Tabitha barely made it into the hall when Mightyena came scampering around the corner.

He yipped—Sarah was already found! Lucius and his Loudred were detaining her.

“Lucius? Can you take me to them?”

Something didn’t sit right with Tabitha. Lucius was perceptive—which was why he was asked to be a guard—but if he realized that Sarah was a spy, why didn’t he alert Tabitha immediately?

Mightyena set off at a brisk trot and Tabitha followed at a jog. Before long, Mightyena stopped at a corner and Tabitha peered down the hall.

A Loudred stood at the end of the hallway with its back facing Tabitha and Mightyena. A small fluff of brown and white was sandwiched between Loudred’s foot and the floor. Between Tabitha and the Loudred were a pair of Team Magma members—one tall one forced a smaller one against the wall and they were struggling.

The sight of it flipped a switch in Tabitha’s brain and, without thinking, he tore down the hallway as fast as he could. Rage and disgust coursed through his veins as he met the duo—the guy didn’t even look up until Tabitha wrenched his hands off the woman, lifted him and slammed him into the opposite wall. Lucius looked angry, but once he saw Tabitha pinning him against the metal, his eyes widened and his face turned pallid.

Tabitha turned his head and saw Sarah slumped against the far wall. Her hood had slipped off her head; her blonde hair was messy; her face was white and she was shaking.

“Are you okay?” Tabitha asked.

She nodded mutely.

He turned back to Lucius.

“What were you doing?”

“Nothing—nothing! I saw her after curfew, so I pulled her aside—I wasn’t trying anything—!”

He was cut off and the air wooshed out of him as Tabitha kneed him in the navel. Lucius slumped to the ground, taking choking breaths of air.

“Don’t lie to me. I’ll deal with you later.” He looked at the Loudred. It stood with its back flat against the metal wall as Mightyena growled at it—neither of them had fired any attacks. A little Zigzagoon lay limply on the floor nearby them.

Tabitha got down and inspected the Zigzagoon: the little guy was knocked out, but he would be all right. Turning to Mightyena, he said, “Can you look after Lucius and his Loudred? I’ll be back to take care of them. I’ll get someone to help that Zigzagoon soon—he’ll be fine if we leave him as he is for now.” He then looked at Sarah. “Follow me.”

Tabitha walked through the halls to his temporary office, hearing the soft plod of Sarah’s steps behind him. The anger in him quickly died down; more than anything, he felt bad for Sarah. Considering the location, he figured this was probably her first assignment as a spy and was just doing as she was told—and already, she had been assaulted by a Team Magma member and found out.

Tabitha realized that the sound of Sarah’s footsteps had stopped. Turning around, he saw her standing in the hallway, hugging herself and staring ahead blankly. Her knees shook badly.

“Do you need help?”

Sarah didn’t look at Tabitha but just blinked a few times and slowly shook her head. Standing up straight, she walked again and followed Tabitha into his office.

Tabitha moved a stack of papers off the center of his desk to leave a clear area in the middle. He gestured to an empty chair across his desk. “Take a seat.”

She obliged. Her deep blue eyes stayed down; Tabitha thought he saw tears well up in them. He turned away—he felt so bad. The poor girl had just been harassed, and Tabitha had saved her only to tell her that she would now be their prisoner. His heart twisted—he couldn’t bring himself to do it yet.

Spying the kettle in the back of the room, he asked, “Do you want some tea?”

She nodded.

Tabitha boiled the water and set leaves in two cups—mainly to give her time. Once the water was heated, he poured it and allowed the leaves to steep. Returning to his desk, he sat the cups down, pretending not to notice her hastily wiping tears away from her face.

The two of them sat in silence for a while, quietly sipping their tea. It seemed to be doing her some good; she held her mug just below her mouth with her eyes closed, deeply inhaling and exhaling.

Tabitha knew the time had come. There was no use in delaying it.

“I actually brought you here for a different reason.”

For the first time, Sarah looked directly at him. Her head was slightly tilted and her brow was furrowed.

Reaching into his pockets, Tabitha took out the two electronic devices and set them on the desk between them. At the sight of them, Sarah’s face fell. She lowered her mug onto the desk and stared at the electronics with her mouth slightly agape.

“I need you to tell me everything you know. Please make this easy—I don’t want to use force.”

Sarah closed her eyes. Tabitha would never attack her himself, but it would be more effective to let her think about the different possibilities of what he could mean. He knew it was cruel—but she was still his enemy and he needed to get information from her.

“Just start with how you joined Team Aqua. Everything from then until now.”

Tabitha waited in silent patience while she told him. He watched her body language carefully, but she seemed to have accepted defeat: her shoulders were slumped, her head hung, and a few tears leaked from her eyes. There was nothing extraordinary about her story; most of what she said about their internal structure was what Tabitha already knew.

“Are there any other spies here that you know of?”

Sarah shook her head.

“Thank you.”

Tabitha turned on the phone on his desk. He believed Sarah had totally accepted defeat and had told him everything she knew. There was no point in holding her there any longer, even if he did pity her.

“Naomi, please come to my office. I need you to take a woman to room 12C.”

He hung up. Sarah stared silently at his desk while the two of them waited.

Before long, a Team Magma member came in. Her long, dark brown hair fell out of her hood and spilled over her shoulders. A Numel trailed behind her, puffing out whisps of smoke from the hump on his back. “Yes, commander?”

Tabitha stood up. “I need you to take Sarah, here, with you. I don’t think she has anything on her but check her just in case. Make sure no one has any contact with her. Give her food and water. I’ll give you further instructions later.”

He turned to Sarah. “You’ll be kept in one of our rooms in this base. You’ll be provided with food, water and clothing. Let Naomi know when you want to use the shower.”

Without another word, he exited his office, heading back down the hall to where Mightyena kept guard over Lucius and Loudred. Even though such behavior disgusted Tabitha, dealing with people like Lucius did provide him with a form of stress-relief: there was little thinking involved and he got to expend energy.

And even though Sarah turned out to be a Team Aqua member, Lucius would not be on watch again.

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

Cloe’s eyes scanned the river from her vantage point behind some trees. Looking down, she saw her Corsola splash about with some wild Barboach. Maybe she should have kept Corsola in her Pokeball—if anyone saw a Corsola in a river, they’d know there was a trainer about.

She dismissed the thought. No one was around. The place was totally deserted, just like everywhere else she kept watch at. A small town could be seen not too far off, and sometimes the inhabitants like to explore the area. But it was blazing hot, the air was thick with humidity, and bugs crawled around everywhere. Who in their right mind would be out and about at this hour? What need did they have to keep watch?

Sighing, she looked behind her. Past the thicket of trees, ferns and wild grasses, she knew a Team Aqua base lay well-hidden. And she knew that what they did was important—collecting data on rainfall, soil temperatures, and running simulations on soil absorbancy. But it was the scientists who got to do cool stuff like that. She, a grunt who had only joined a few months ago, got to stand outside and make sure nobody interrupted their ‘illicit’ experiments.

And it was hard to not feel unimportant when she thought about Maressa and Sarah. Maressa and her Pokemon had really climbed ranks—she got to work with Matt and go on missions with him! She did things so important that she wasn’t allowed to repeat them! Cloe knew it came at a cost, and she was worried about her friend; ever since Maressa had returned from being Team Magma’s captive, she was crying about losing Seaking or else looking extremely nervous. Cloe was no therapist and wasn’t going to pretend to be one—but she could be there for her and hear her out whenever she needed someone to talk to or just a shoulder to cry on.

Even Sarah had gotten higher up in the Team’s rankings. Matt put her through spy training, and she always came out at the top of her class with high marks. Whether or not she was actually going on a mission, she was not allowed to say. But it had been a few days since Cloe had seen or heard from her, and she figured that Team Aqua would want to put her friend’s skills to good use.

As Cloe gazed out at the carpet of green grass dotted with vines, ferns, and an assortment of flowers in every color of the rainbow, and as she glanced at the sun glinting off the river to make it look like flowing glass, melancholy settled in her heart. She was happy for her friends, but she felt lonely. She wanted to be important like the others—and no matter how many times Shelly and other older members told her that every bit of work for Team Aqua mattered, Cloe didn’t feel like it.

Sitting down, she leaned against a tree trunk, her eyelids slowly closing in the warmth radiating from the noonday sun. Guess this was just the life of a Team Aqua grunt.
 
Last edited:

Adamhuarts

Mew specialist
Pronouns
He/Him
Partner
mew
REVIEW FOR CHAPTERS 3 and 4

These two chapters I've read were pretty much largely pokemon battles and both had Maressa going up against Team Magma and pals. There were quite a few things that happened that weren't just battles though.

I liked the conversation Maressa had with Golduck at the beginning of chapter 3. I still find it a cool detail that Maressa's pokemon just have their thoughts and opinions conveyed through the narration and then it's implied Maressa just has a strong bond with them that she understands them from the simplest gestures.

Her talking to Sarah in the fourth chapter was also short and sweet. I was afraid they were going to grow a bit distant when Maressa looked to talk to her at the end of the previous chapter but didn't want to ruin Sarah's fun at the party.

Maressa's skill for coordination shined really well in these two chapters too. She definitely has a lot of potential to eventually become an executive or captain in the future, assuming she can look past the less moral aspects of Team Aqua. Still, she's more or less suffered defeats in both of her fights. However, things are much more dire in the fourth chapter with her slowly drowning. That sounds like an incredibly horrifying experience and I'd assume she's dead for sure if she wasn't the main character lol.
 

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
Partner
glalie
Heya! When I found out there was a brand new bonus episode, I was definitely intrigued.

Seeing the zubat's reaction to the zigzagoon's growl got me thinking: sound-based moves really would be more or less effective based on how well the target hears, wouldn't they. Against the likes of a zubat, a growl might be as good as a charm.

I wonder how magneton steel is harvested. For some reason I'm picturing them just lopping off the screws. :B

I suspected Sarah would get caught, but judging by her performing super well in her spy training, I can believe she might've pulled it off if Lucius hadn't decided to be a creep. I hope Tabitha kicked his ass hard, btw.

Glimpses at team life are always fun. :D Glad I decided to pop into the thread tonight!
 
Top