• 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 New

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 New

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??
 
Top