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    Reality is a dream TheLlama's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
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    Default The Clandestine, Book 1: SAYA (Chapter II)

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    Ladiiiies aaaand gentlemeeeen! You are here for one purpose! To read fanfiction, great fanfiction even! This is a purpose I aim to, and hope to, let you indulge in through my new fanfiction series! While one that often presents at a moderately slow pace and loves to kick established canon in its daddy bags, it is a story of an epic journey with a small beginning, a story that will take you through many philosophical issues - some now, some later, some much later -, all the while presenting itself as well-written, intriguing and captivating - or so this writer hopes! It has been in the workings for some time now, and incorporates plot elements from several discontinued attempts at writing a good story (one of which had its first chapter posted here) - most of which were discontinued before even the writing stage, as I couldn't decide on a good direction for them. That, however, has solved itself with this story - a story I know where will go - approximately anyway -, a story I know what I want to do with, what I want to tell with.

    My hope is naturally that this is a story that you, the reader, will find interesting, and even if you don't, leave feedback on, so I can improve myself and write the first-rate story you did not see in this particular story. But! You are not here to listen to me talk! So without further ado, I bring you:

    The Clandestine, Book 1: SAYA

    Chapter I

    I find myself in an empty room
    It's lonely
    There's no one in it
    It's cold
    I don't know I ended up there
    But it's not silent
    I know but one thing
    For the voices told me

    The world is dead


    “Gol-golbaaaat!” A shrill screech among many rung throughout the air as the last clouds of bat pokemon flitted towards their caves, hiding from the emerging rays of the rising sun. With said sun came a frisky breeze, its chill morning air rustling tree canopies as if trying to wake bug and bird pokemon alike. Soon, the lush, forested hillside of Greenhorn Island would bustle with the cries of pokemon, from the frightened shrieks of prey to the triumphant roars of predators. The island was also home to a few humans, and on its hillside a small, modern house sat hidden among the conifers. Here a teenage girl, who was ready to start a new and important day of her life, slept peacefully in her room. Another female, this one adult, peeped inside, her head tilted so that her long, black hair fell in front of her face. Brushing it to the side, behind her ears, she smiled as she looked upon her daughter.

    “Saya, wake up,” she said in a singsong voice.

    No reply. The body underneath the warm duvets lay still, like the soul inside was in another world; the dream world. She wondered what dreams her daughter had right now. How her soon-to-come journey would be, perhaps? Flying in the sky? Beating the Champion? Or bad ones? She’d had a few bad dreams recently. Not that it mattered; she had to wake up! The woman called her daughter once more, this time raising her voice a little, the singsong tone fading away.

    "Saya, wake up!"

    Still no reply. Not even a jerk of a muscle. She opened the door widely, and headed over to her young Sleeping Beauty.

    "Saya! Wake up!" Her tone was growing more austere.

    Nothing. She twitched her eyebrow, this was getting annoying.

    “If she’d only go to bed in due time,” she mumbled, “this wouldn’t happen!” She took a deep breath, and screamed, “Saya! Wake up this instant!” This was the last time she’d try and wake her; if she didn’t wake up now, she’d leave her be, letting her oversleep. Choice and consequence was an important lesson to learn... or re-learn in her case. Yet, looking at her daughter, she couldn't help but calm down a bit; she looked like such a big baby sleeping there after all. Her baby. She couldn't really help but smile... to think that today, she'd--

    A rustle.

    And another one. She was waking up. Finally!

    “Took your time,” her mom said chafedly, crossing her arms. Saya was lying still in bed, her face cheek-down on the pillow, facing her mom.

    “Mom, it’s too early!” was all her daughter said, morning-grumpy as always.

    “It’s not my fault you go to bed so late!” her mom said, eyeing her daughter with a stern, motherly look.

    “And it’s not my fault you’re such an early bird!”

    “So we’re both at fault."

    “Yeah, but I’m the victim here, so you’re most at fault. Now can you get out?” she snapped harshly. She did have a valid cause.

    “Calm down! I only wanted to make sure you got up in time.” She shifted her eyes to the windows on the other side of the room, looking at the vast ocean on the horizon. “You’re leaving today after all...” she said, her tone now more gentle and caring.

    “Mom, please. I’m seventeen; I can get up by myself!” She pointed over to a round-bellied chatot figure with two pointers at her night table. “The alarm clock is set at eight. It would have wakened me anyway.” She moved over in the bed, stretched out her right arm and hit the note on top of the figure, which was the alarm trigger. “Now need for that now,” she sighed, resigned, giving her mom a narrow gaze.

    “Okay, okay!” her mom said, defeated, and turned around to exit the room. She raised her right index finger, and said strictly, “Just don’t fall asleep again, now!”

    “Mooom!” Saya replied, exasperated.

    “Breakfast in an hour” was all Saya heard from the hallway outside. She swore she could have heard a teasing chuckle as well.

    Saya's mom was a bit relieved. Today was the final time she would see her daughter in her grumpy morning mood. It would be nice to enjoy some silent mornings... yet it would be rather empty. Today her source of both much pride and equally much annoyance was leaving for her Trainer journey. However that would end up. She had often wondered why her daughter wanted to become a trainer anyway. She wasn’t bad, but she had so many other talents. And she'd turn eighteen this year; she would have to fight in the senior league... But they had already talked the subject to death, so she wasn’t about to bring it up once more. It was just that when her skills obviously lay elsewhere - she’d make a much, much better ranger or a scientist -, she found it weird that Saya would choose such an alternative. Her mother had, herself, decided to be a trainer because she was good at it. Saya’s older siblings had both chosen what they were skilled at as well. The thing that made her wonder so was that Saya tended to evade the subject when she asked her why she really wanted to be a trainer. “It’s my only dream” and “I want to do it” were the standard evasive replies.

    But in the end, Saya's choice was her own choice, and as a mother she felt that she should not stand in the way of her daughter’s choices, rather, she should support it. Besides, the influence she and Saya's dad had on their daughter was not to be denied, so arguing against it would make a bad case anyway. Heck, maybe their influence was why she felt the way she did.


    Saya lay in bed for five more minutes before getting up. The sun shone straight into her room, dazzling her. She'd hardly been able to sleep, something she had remedied with a small gaming session last night.

    As she got out of bed, she yawned. Sometimes she wished reality was as easy as games. She'd been playing World of Pokemon last night, a wondrous game set to a fictional world known as Nippon. The thing she liked most about the game was how everyone had a chance to be someone, to be something; you just had to work for it. She had herself started out as a peasant girl in the northern kingdom of Hokkaido - she'd begun there since it so obviously resembled her own home country of Sinnoh. She'd work consistently, and eventually, she had become the queen of the entire country. But in the real world, it wasn't that easy. Even while working hard, you could fall. Even if you worked your entire life, you could end up never becoming anything.

    She let out a carefree sigh. It wasn't as if she could actually do anything about it, so thinking about it wouldn't help either. She stretched her limbs for a few seconds, and then got down to the floor for some exercise. Push-ups, fifty times two. Sit-ups, fifty times two...

    She felt so strange. Or more specifically, it was strange that she didn't feel very much. Today she and Lotus, her ralts partner, were leaving for their trainer journey, but she didn't feel any excitement. Maybe it hadn't sunk in yet, maybe she just needed to get out the door, but she'd expected herself to run on the ceiling for this entire morning. Instead, it was all as usual. Banter about bedtimes. Sleepiness, a workout, shower, then breakfast. Maybe it was because she was seventeen now, almost an adult - not some hotshot thirteen-year old who naively thought they could be a pokemon master if they just worked hard enough.

    Then again, she did look forward to it, when she thought about it. Climbing mountains, exploring caves, traversing the victory road, meeting new pokemon, new people. Get to know them. Make friends. Maybe she'd end up travelling with someone? She could get a bird pokemon and ride it, fly high into the skies, feel the adrenaline rush through her body... it would be really thrilling, when she just took the time to think about it. Now she felt a small tingle in her stomach; that sensation she'd been looking for. The feeling that told her this was the right decision. `Yeah! I'm gonna do this! ´

    About half an hour later, she'd finished exercising and felt ready to take on the world. Physical activity always lifted her spirits, gave her that enthusiastic sparkle that told her not to care about ifs and buts. Maybe reality wasn't coated with gold, maybe she couldn't do it. But she'd have to try, right? To become number one, to be the best; to become the Champion! `And when-- if I do... ´

    She figured she'd go wake Lotus before she went into the shower. She walked out of her room - and realized it would be the last time she would enter it for a long time. She gazed at it for a few moments. She'd always loved her room, so simple and empty. Except from the bed in one corner, and her work desk in another, there was nothing in it. Two of the walls were lined with large windows, giving the impression of being out in nature - not in a house. In nature... She always felt she belonged more outdoors than indoors. She liked nature, she liked fresh air. It made her comfortable.

    Taking one last gaze, she closed the door to the hallway and went through another opposite her own. The small room inside was almost empty, save a light bulb in the roof and a wicker basket on the floor. In it lay Lotus; a ralts and Saya's first pokemon. The small, green-white figure seemed so serene lying there.

    "Time to wake up!" Saya said.

    `Already am.´

    `Then why're you just lying there? ´

    Lotus got up from the casket, then proceeded to walk towards the door. `Why do you keep lying in bed after you're awake all the time? ´

    `Tch... got me there,´ Saya admitted. She followed after the ralts, and they headed into the bathroom.

    Saya quickly got into the shower, intent on enjoying it as much as possible - when travelling in the wild you'd have to make to with rainfall or any rivers you passed as far as washing yourself was concerned. Hot water showers would be far and few between.

    `So.. you're sure you want to do this?´ Lotus asked after a few minutes. The young ralts was pacing around the bathroom floor, seemingly with nothing better to do.

    As Saya got the question, she stopped shampooing her hair for a slight moment, before continuing, and answered: `Of course I am! ´ She loathed it when people - or pokemon - nagged her about her decisions. She'd had more than enough people during her life telling her what she was meant to do and supposed to do. She had followed such wishes back when she was supposed to go on her trainer journey four years ago, abandoning the idea in favour of high school. Even though it had been fun - she enjoyed simply learning things -, she'd regretted that decision ever since; she had longed for freedom, for independence. Now she could put all that behind her, begin what she'd meant to begin four years ago.

    `No need to get so upset,´ Lotus replied. `I know you want to do it... I just want to make sure you really want it, that you're not just doing this out of defiance. A pokemon ranger also get to travel a lot, and communicate with pokemon´

    `Well, thanks for caring, Mom,´ Saya replied, snappily. `I have my reasons, okay? It's just... hard to explain in words.´ Saya paused momentarily, as if realizing something, then asked, `Wait... you're not just asking for my sake, are you?´

    `Saya... I'm not a battler. You know that,´ Lotus replied. `I'm just... a little bit scared, is all.´ It was unusual for the usually-proud ralts to admit something like that.


    Behind the shower curtain, Saya's silhouette stopped moving. Then the water stopped, and in a split second she pulled it the curtain aside. Lotus stared at her standing there; feeling both surprised and curious - was she angry?

    After a few seconds, Saya knelt down inside the shower tub, then reached out her hand.

    "Come here... please," she said, hesitantly. It was unusual for her to actually speak to Lotus, so the young ralts stood there a few seconds, before taking a few careful steps toward Saya.

    When she could reach Lotus, Saya grabbed hold of the baffled pokemon and lifted him up, cradling him in her arms. When their faces met, Lotus saw that she was smiling; smiling very warmly. Her face and her clear, blue eyes glimmered in the water. Her countenance was one of concern.

    `I know it's scary, and maybe you're not cut out for battling. But you won't know until you try, right? ´ She made a lopsided chuckle. `Heh... and if there's one thing I know about you, it's that you enjoy trying.´ Saya paused for a slight moment, before continuing. `And if you're not one for battling, then relax, don't battle. I'll catch a team of strong, friendly pokemon. They'll protect you, they'll fight in your stead.´ She laid Lotus in her arms, stretching them out wide. `[/I]So there's nothing to be scared of. Nothing bad's gonna happen that you don't want to happen; I'm not gonna make you fight if you don't want to.[/I]´ She brought him close, hugging him against her chest, leaning her head on his. "It's a promise."

    `Hey... I'm a man, you know.´ If a ralts could blush, then Lotus would be red through and through.

    They kept hugging each other for a short while, before Saya set Lotus down. `I'm gonna finish my shower, now. Why don't you go find my brother? He's probably bored out of his mind right now!´

    `Yeah...´ Lotus replied, and sniffed. Crying?


    After finishing the shower she got into the travel gear she'd planned out - a long blue t-shirt, and a pair of shorts, coal black to match her hair. Since summer was approaching, warmer clothing was not really an issue to consider, not yet anyway. Before she headed off downstairs, she took a look in the mirror. At the person that was her.


    She felt a sudden onset of dizziness.
    She tried to take her gaze away from the mirror. She couldn't.
    Then the mirror... the image... it was like a vortex... warping her mind... drawing her in





    Silent murmurs in her head. The room around her was shifting. `No... NO!´

    Blood in the bath. [Drip;drop;]

    Then the voice of a child. A children's tune.

    Dark, dreary room
    Children screaming, running
    Dolls in hand, hand in hand
    One by one they dropped down, dead

    [static;]What a..arrshh..arr[static;] you?

    Her head ached. Static buzzed across her mind. Flanging voices were in her head, bumbling in a chaotic murmur. The room around her looked a kaleidoscope. Saya grabbed her temples. `Get... out of my head!´ They wouldn't go away, though. They never did. They came and went as they pleased. She tried to remember... what... something made them go away. Made it silent.

    More static!


    A distant call. A familiar sound.


    Her mother's voice. She tried to calm down. She was here. In her bathroom. No voices. No blood. No... scary. It was normal. She looked in the mirror. She saw herself. Black, wet hair. Dim,. blue eyes. Her own face.

    "Yeah!?" she answered, trying to gather herself. She could have those episodes again, and again, and again - but she'd never really get used to them. It was... frightening.

    "Breakfast is ready!" her mother called out. Saya was still a bit upset, so she didn't answer immediately. "Are you okay up there?" her mother followed up, responding to Saya's silence.

    "Yeah, I just got caught up in a thought!" Saya lied. The young woman didn't really like talking to her mom about the voices in her head - if nothing else, because it worried her. She didn't want to worry her mom. At least not now!


    After taking five minutes to get dressed and fix her hair, Saya headed downstairs, enjoying the smell of food that permeated the entire floor - one of the advantages of an open kitchen. The living room downstairs was like her bedroom; large, open and walls lined with huge windows, letting the morning sun seep in while giving an exquisite view of the glimmering ocean down below. The furniture was smooth and elegant, in tone with the whole minimalist theme of the house. Saya really enjoyed it, and he had long thought that whenever she settled down, she'd buy a house like this, only on a mainland somewhere.

    She headed over to the kitchen where her mother was, busy putting the finishing touches to the breakfast - a large bowl of salad with newly made croutons.

    She turned towards Saya, eyeing her for a few moments. "Oh, look at you!" she said in a motherly tone. "You look so beautiful!" And not to forget, Saya reminded her of herself when she once set out on her own Trainer journey; so determined, so headstrong, wanting nothing else than journey and adventure. Fuyuko Iwakawa - thirteen years old, ready to tackle the world to the ground and climb the remains!

    Realizing she was about to get lost in thoughts, she shook off her nostalgia as well as she could. "Saya, would you turn on the news?"

    "Yeah," Saya replied, and went over to the TV corner. Slouching down in the couch, she reached for the remote and turned on the TV - just in time for the news.

    "This is Miriam Kayleigh of PokeNews - bringing you the latest news from the pokemon world!" The anchorwoman spoke in a very typical newscaster fashion, with affected pronunciation and a clear, determined voice.

    "Earlier today, the lead technicians of Bill Enterprises, having worked around the hour for almost a week, could finally release some very good news after the critical and dramatic breakdown of the Pokemon Transfer System last Tuesday." Saya shuddered simply from thinking about it. She remembered very well when she first heard the news last Tuesday - a critical corruption had occurred in the transfer system, and evidently all transfers that had happened after the corruption, but before the total breakdown, had resulted in the total loss of the pokemon being transferred. There was only a gap of an hour, but in that time tens of thousands of pokemon worldwide had already been lost. She really wondered what these good news were, and paid all her attention as PokeNews broadcasted the press conference in question.

    The chairman of Bill Enterprises - simply known by the name “Bill” - stood solemnly at a podium, in front of a large crowd of reporters. Camera lights were flashing and murmurs filled the open plaza in front of BE Headquarters, but both subsided as the man began to speak.

    "Earlier today, after days of hard work," he began, speaking slowly, "our team of technicians managed to secure cyber-traces confirming that every pokemon lost last Tuesday is, in fact, not lost." He paused a while at this. Saya felt really relieved right now. Her older sister Mariko had been out of her mind; she'd lost two of her closest friends to this incident. Now she could relax, at least a little. The middle-aged man cleared his throat, and then continued. "They are now working full-time towards recovering the lost pokemon, and are also making great strides in finding out what - or who - is behind this failure." He paused again, this time a lot of questions arose from the crowd of reporters. Chairman Bill brushed them all aside, with the usual promises of updates soon to come and "no comment" replies.

    "You hear that, Mom?" Saya called out, tilting her head backwards. Seeing the room upside down made her giggle.

    "No, I asked you to put on the news because I wouldn't be able to hear them," her mother replied dryly. "But..." her tone grew more serious. “Yeah. That's good news for Mariko, poor girl."

    "Yeah..." Saya paused for a moment. "Where is she now anyway?" Saya asked curiously.

    "When I talked to her last week she was in Snowpoint, she’d just beaten the gym leader there," her mother replied. She'd put the finishing touches to the breakfast, and had set the table as they spoke.

    “Yeah, okay.” While her mother sat down, Saya gazed around curiously. "Where's our little wannabe ranger?" she asked, referring to her younger brother, Kenta.

    "Probably in his room, watching that ranger show he so loves," she replied. "You want to go get him?" her mother asked.

    "Yeah, sure," Saya replied. She turned around in the couch, and vaulted over it.

    "No climbing the furniture, Saya!" her mother interrupted.

    "Yeah, yeah, whatever," Saya scoffed, and proceeded into the hallway behind the stairs up to her floor, to fetch her brother.


    After breakfast, Saya found herself with nothing to do for the next two hours, waiting for the appropriate time to leave. She spent some time lying in the couch, meditating over her impeding journey, dealing with growing nerves as the realization that she was really leaving sank in more and more. The better part of the two hours, however, she spent practicing martial arts on the veranda. More specifically the martial art goukajutsu, based on the unique fighting style of infernapes. Saya had picked it up as a kid, and she'd thoroughly enjoyed practicing it; as a martial art that was known for being acrobatic and featuring a wide range of moves, not to mention its focus on gathering internal energy - chi -, which was great for relieving stress and keeping those... voices at bay.

    It was her mother who cued her, saying she had better get her stuff and leave before it was too late - she wouldn't want to miss the ferry, after all. Saya took time to finish the kata she was performing first, though: A series of straight punches, ending in a left uppercut. Immediately following it, she spun around, put her hands to the ground and stretched out her foot in one move; a sweeping low kick. Using the momentum from the kick she shot into a backwards flip kick supported by her arms, and landed about a meter away from her hypothetical opponent. She took another step back, and regained her stance.

    "Very impressive," her mother praised, clapping her hands in a slow, almost sardonic fashion. "But the ferry's not going to wait forever." Saya took a deep, controlled breath, and turned to her mother. She responded with a confirming "yeah" and headed indoors with her.

    "Oh, by the way, I have something for you. Get yourself ready, and I'll get it," her mother replied, and bustled off to her study. Knowing her, Saya figured that something was an old trinket or whatever that had some sentimental value or provided "good luck". She had given similar things to both of Saya's sisters when they had left as well. Saya didn't lack any appreciation for such a gesture, but she never managed to attach sentimental value to objects.

    She did, however, feel slightly excited upon looking at the ten pokeballs at the end table next to their front door, though. But that excitement came from imagining the journey she was about to embark on, it wasn't the pokeballs themselves that gave her those emotions.

    `Oh, well,´ she thought to herself, as she picked them up and placed them into her backpack, one by one, carefully. The main compartment of her backpack was sorely empty, except for some basic food, a jacket and her shoes - she preferred walking barefoot this time of year. She wondered if she should buy a Great ball or two before she started her journey for real, but she shrugged off the idea - at least for now she probably wouldn't need any, and if anything she should set off some money each month for a pokedex; while she could memorize a lot herself, having a dex to help her out would be really nice, especially when planning battle strategies and deciding which pokemon to capture. `Or maybe I could hook up with a trainer with a pokedex.´ For some reason that sounded really immoral.

    The sound of her mother calling for her attention drew her away from her thoughts. She turned around to find the older woman standing in front of her, with her hands clasped together around some mystery object. She could only guess what it was, but when her mother opened her hands she was actually pleasantly surprised. It was a beautiful stone, appearing to sheen with a faint light. When she received it, she noted it was warm to the touch.

    Saya replied with a genuine "thank you", as she threaded the chain attached to it over her head. It was slightly heavy; she figured she wouldn't be carrying it around her neck constantly - yet she reassured her mother that she would carry it at all times. Evidently it had given her both good luck and had much sentimental value; it was a gift from her own mother when she had once set out on her journey.

    The last thing to do now was to fetch Lotus and introduce him to his pokeball - she'd only gotten them a few days ago, so she hadn't come around to doing that yet. He had spent the last hours meditating by himself, and was probably hanging around with Kenta by now. They'd always been great friends, which was really strange considering how they had so different personalities. But then again, a ralts was a pokemon that was easy to understand and who easily understood others, he could probably befriend the most serene of angels and the most evil of demons at the same time - after talking through their childhood traumas and resolving any longstanding emotional issues, that was.

    "Kenta!" Saya called out suddenly. Her mother gave her an ominous “don’t do that again”-stare. Within the second, she heard the rumbling of reeling footsteps, and out from the hallway jolted a flash of brown pyjamas, eyes and hair - plus one bewildered ralts -, coming up so fast that Saya stepped aside on reflex. When he stopped, she noticed her brother seemed outright flustered, in tears, almost.

    "What's the matter?" Saya asked him.

    "You.. you..." he sniffed, "I thought you had left without saying bye to me!" he shouted, even more flustered. "And you forgot Lotus!" Saya couldn't help but smirk at the five-year old's innocence. She crouched down, and reassured him that she'd never do such a thing; neither forget to say goodbye nor leave Lotus behind.

    `And you,´ she eyed Lotus sternly `you could have told him I hadn't left´

    `I wanted to see how it played out.´

    `Sadist,´ Saya stated dryly.

    "Really?" Kenta asked her, probing for confirmation. "Really, really?"

    "Yeah, really," Saya responded, with a warm smile that reassured Kenta, and proceeded to hug him, embracing him with both her arms.

    "H-hey! What're you doing!?" the young boy cried out, as he failingly tried to escape her grip.

    "Just you grow up to someday become a fine ranger!" Saya said mellowly, ignoring the boy's reaction. She felt a sensation welling up, as if she would let him down if she left. All those fun moments, all those times she'd been there for her little brother. Sororal concern, perhaps? Whatever it was, it certainly made her bit melancholy.

    But the boy obviously wasn't - not on the surface anyway. He finally wrestled his way out of her hug, took a few steps back and steadied his foot. Snorting a slight, he wiped his nose with his index finger, saying, "Hmpf! You don't need to tell me that!" He then assumed a determined pose, one foot in front of the other, his arm up front, bent with a fist clenched, and continued, "Because I'm going to be the best ranger there ever was!"

    Saya, in response, sighed. "You know, imitating the main character of that silly show makes you look really uncool."

    The young boy got very upset by this, and, pointing his finger at Saya, responded thereafter. "Pokemon Ranger Adventure isn't silly!"

    "Yes it is!" Saya retaliated quickly. Flailing with her arms, she continued, "It's everything but grounded in reality!" Saya paused a slight, then continued. "It's sugar-coated, ridiculously immature, it completely ignores the laws of physics and the animation looks it's from the last century!"

    "That's not true!" the boy uttered, intimidated by his sister, who was taking a deep breath from her run-down of his favorite show.

    Bending over him a bit, she smirked. "You don't really know what I just said, do you?" she claimed, her tone sardonic.

    The boy didn't respond, sulking silently instead. Saya caught a quick disapproving glance from her mother that spelled something along the lines of "don't be bombastic towards your brother", so she stretched out her hand and patted him on the head, with an assuring grin.

    "Well, whatever. You can like whatever you like," she admitted.

    "Yeah!" he replied steadfastly. Annoying as he could be, she would miss these arguments with him. Oh, well. She could always phone him if she felt like annoying him.

    ...She now understood Lotus' earlier desire not to tell Kenta that she hadn't left.

    "A little harsh, aren't we?" her mother asked.

    "Pff, he can take it," Saya replied, brushing the comment aside. And it was true, he could. She wouldn't have done it otherwise.

    "Well, at least you won't be around to annoy him anymore," her mother joked. Saya figured she'd not tell her of her earlier plan.

    Fetching a pokeball from her backpack, she turned to Lotus. `You ready?´

    `Yeah!´ the ralts replied, and Saya touched ralts with the ball. It opened, and a white beam emerged, engulfing the ralts. After it did, it closed, shook for a few seconds, and then fell still. `I got ralts!´ she thought, smirking easily. Now she was the one mimicking silly shows.

    Saya and her mother then proceeded to step outside, Saya togging on her backpack as they went. Well out, Saya revelled in the noon sun, which shone brightly. Yesterday's rainfall had left a soothing aroma in the air, and inbetween the rustling breeze the constant murmur of cicada pokemon could be heard, with the occasional shrill shriek. The sky was a perfect blue, save for a few puffy, white clouds careening lazily past.

    The perfect day to start a journey.

    "You got everything now?" her mother asked.




    "Trainer certificate?"


    "Your... shoes?" Her mother wasn't really surprised that she was walking barefoot.

    "Yeah!" Saya's tone was getting more and more impatient. "They're in my bag."

    "Well, then..." her mother said, and brought out a poke ball. She opened it, and out came her togekiss, Cael. "I guess this is goodbye."

    The two women proceeded into a long, long hug.

    "I'll miss you, Saya" her mother said, her voice clearly emotional.

    "Yeah," Saya replied. She usually got laconic at moments like these.

    After breaking the hug, Saya climbed onto Cael, taking a firm grasp in its thick feather coat.

    "Now you take her straight to the Blacklight Island Port, right?" she demanded of Cael. The togekiss was known for being a bit... unruly and adventurous; coupled with Saya riding her one could risk them deciding to take a flight around the world as a "short detour" before heading to their destination. "The S.S. Auricu is leaving port in two hours. You need to be there in one hour." The actual flight to Blacklight City wasn't more than twenty minutes, though; she figured quite well what that meant

    "Well, then... bye."

    "Bye Mom."

    As Fuyuko took one last look at her daughter, she was filled with a well of emotions. The feeling a parent had when sending their children away on a journey like this - one that would be filled with not only excitement but also danger and obstacles - was not one that could be described in words. Even if she had sent out three of her children already, it was hard. Even if she herself was an experienced trainer, it was hard. Even if she knew that a trainer journey was something anyone would enjoy and grow from, it was hard. Even if... even if--

    "Don't worry, Mom!" Saya said suddenly, interrupting her mother's thoughts. "I'll call you regularly, and I'll find someone to travel together with! You don't have to worry so much, I'll be perfectly fine!" And with that one, carefree comment, that reassuring smile, Saya made her forgot all her worry, all her nostalgia... all her desire to be young once more. It was said that you only live once - but as a parent, she disagreed. Seeing your children grow up, seeing them carve their own paths and live for themselves... it was as if she could live through them. Their joy became her joy. Their worries became her worries. Their adventures became her own.

    With that thought in mind, she waved her daughter off, seeing her soar off into the sky - towards a new horizon. And as she turned around to walk inside, she couldn’t help but smile, more warmly than she had in a long time.


    If people were wondering - Saya and Lotus do communicate via telepathy (hence the italicized speech). This seemed to confuse at least one of my betas, and won't be explained in-story till the next chapter, so I thought I should clarify.

    Much appreciated credit goes to my beta readers, @Stellar Haze; and @unrepentantAuthor;
    Last edited by TheLlama; 2nd January 2013 at 04:17 PM.
    "People like you and me overcame the Neanderthals. People like you and me overcame the Ice Age"

    "You can hold [the brain] in the palm of your hands - and it can contemplate the vastness of interstellar space"

    "Along some paths of cosmic discovery there are times when, at least for now, one must be content to love the questions themselves"

    The Symphony of Science; a tribute to the marvels of science and nature.

  2. #2
    Because I like Tophats Tophat Dragoneye's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Clandestine, Book 1: SAYA

    Alright, amateur review time! I haven't reviewed a lot, but I'll give my best shot.

    At first, the length of the chapter took me by surprise as I'm not used to it. However, everything I read was pure enjoyment for me. Great explanation of the characters introduced in the chapter. I also like the way Saya and her Ralts communicate with each other through telepathy. Makes sense since Lotus is a psychic type. What really caught my attention, and most likely everyone else who read this chapter, is the voices in Saya's head, but that she's also uses an Infernape-based martial art. Makes me think there's more than meets the eye for obvious reasons. What also caught my attention was the case of the Pokemon Transfer System incident that was told in the news. Smells like a plot to me :)

    I also find it realistic the way you made her departure from her home, which I really liked.

    It's still to early for a final verdict, but these are my thoughts so far.

    A quick question: When does the story takes place? When I read that Bill was the director of his company and remembering that his transfer system were based in a small house in the games, it made me wonder if it's some time in the future.
    Last edited by Tophat Dragoneye; 22nd May 2012 at 04:03 PM.

    Many thanks to Blue Dragon for the signature

    ONE-shot: Forced into Retirement

  3. #3
    Reality is a dream TheLlama's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Clandestine, Book 1: SAYA

    ...and I was beginning to think no one actually read it :P Thanks for the positive words!

    It's not only because Lotus is a psychic type, also because the ralts evolutionary line are very good at sensing and (in my head) transmitting emotions, and thus concepts, which means telepathy isn't a far stretch, in my head anyway. But yeah, it's natural for most psychic types the way I envision them. They're also smart enough (mostly) to have a completely developed language, unlike many other pokemon (who do not possess actual language, but can communicate certain basic things verbally).

    Yeah, the voices in her head was one of the main things I figured would hook people who read it :P Not that it's only there as a hook, far from that! Her practicing an infernape-based martial art is a coincidence, it might as well have been karate or something else, but when creating her character I wanted something more pokemon-themed, for plot-wise reasons. I remembered the pokedex entry stating that infernapes fought using some kind of unique marital art, and figured I'd use that. So yes, there is more than meets the eye.

    Glad that you enjoyed how I started it out, I was unsure if the length and writing might put people off, but it seems I wrote well enough for the length to not put you off at least, that makes me glad!

    As for when it takes place, I haven't particularly placed it anywhere. I mean, there's several changes from, established canon, so the best guess would be something of a parallel world at the approximate same era, just like how the games and the anime and the manga are three different canons that take place in the pokemon world around the same time across each.
    "People like you and me overcame the Neanderthals. People like you and me overcame the Ice Age"

    "You can hold [the brain] in the palm of your hands - and it can contemplate the vastness of interstellar space"

    "Along some paths of cosmic discovery there are times when, at least for now, one must be content to love the questions themselves"

    The Symphony of Science; a tribute to the marvels of science and nature.

  4. #4
    ポケモン Tsutarja's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Clandestine, Book 1: SAYA

    You know, I dislike this feeling - the feeling of envy.

    I know it's wrong but this was such a good start to a story that I can't help but to feel otherwise. You set up pretty much the whole thing; Saya's relationship with Lotus, the voices in her head, possible foreshadowing of the actual plot - the characters were quite realistic and there's nothing I can really point out that was wrong. Your descriptions are impeccable as well as your flowing writing, everything flowed so well. I also payed attention that the stone Saya was given by her mother. (possible Shiny Stone; I can already imagine the development regarding Ralts and battles)

    It was a bit longer than I'd expect the first chapter to be, but I didn't really mind it - in fact, there was just the right amount of content. Yes, a quite good first chapter!

    I'm also digging the telepathic talk between Saya and Lotus.

    This may not be my best review, but yeah, I enjoyed this chapter and I can safely say that I will remain reading this as I'm greatly interested in what further developments might occur. This has a lot of potential, use it well!

    Keep up with good work!

  5. #5
    Reality is a dream TheLlama's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Clandestine, Book 1: SAYA

    Geez, you guys make me blush o.o

    Okay, maybe not, I don't blush or get embarrassed or such, but were I someone else, I'd probably be blushing right now. Proud, however, I am! It pleases me to know that my writing is not only good, but also enjoyable. I hope I'll be able to live up to your standards as it goes on. Or exceed them, even. I'm not ambitious! :P

    possible Shiny Stone; I can already imagine the development regarding Ralts and battles
    Shh, it's not predictable D: It might be, might not be however; I'm still unsure as to how I want Lotus to develop, there are three possible routes I'm considering right now. Won't spill any beans on what they are, though!
    "People like you and me overcame the Neanderthals. People like you and me overcame the Ice Age"

    "You can hold [the brain] in the palm of your hands - and it can contemplate the vastness of interstellar space"

    "Along some paths of cosmic discovery there are times when, at least for now, one must be content to love the questions themselves"

    The Symphony of Science; a tribute to the marvels of science and nature.

  6. #6
    Reality is a dream TheLlama's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
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    Default Re: The Clandestine, Book 1: SAYA

    The Clandestine, Book 1: SAYA

    Chapter II

    I get up
    It's dark
    I look around
    There's a strip of light
    The room is ever-changing
    Falling through the void
    Yet it settles in my mind
    Beckoning me

    For here is God


    The extra time Saya had on her hands she used as her mother expected; flying around with Cael, enjoying this fine day for all it was worth. The sun shone brightly, the rippled ocean below sparkling in its light. The sky above was a clear, clear blue, aside the occasional puffy white cloud drifting lazily past. Such a bright day attracted many sea pokemon to the surface, some jumping, some soaring, others preying. They even got the pleasure of flying amongst an emergent school of mantine, watching them and their symbiotic remoraid as they skimmed gracefully across the surface.

    Even more fun had it been when Cael later on yanked upwards, bringing them into one of the clouds drifting by overhead - only to discover it was not a cloud, but a flock of swablu and altaria. The notorious songbirds broke into a chaotic uproar as Cael and Saya pierced the flock, though a skilfully placed thunder wave attack from Cael scared them from taking any further action. Then, on the spur of the moment, she singled out a straggler in the tumult, told Cael to hit the swablu with a straight-on thunder wave, and proceeded to make her first capture. A little cheating perhaps, since Cael wasn’t her pokemon, but nothing she couldn’t excuse herself for doing, once. Besides, swablu evolved into a dragon-type, it wasn’t every day you got the chance to capture one!

    After flying around some more, they set course for Blacklight Island. It was the capital of the tiny nation Saya had been living in for most of her life; Colun. A small island country in the middle of the ocean consisting of a few settled islands and a few dozen uninhabited ones, it was too small for its own pokemon league- so prospective trainers had to move out of country for their journeys. The most common was Auricu across the ocean to the west. A two-day trip by boat away, it was the closest region, though the Kanto-Johto area to the east was also very popular. Saya preferred Auricu, as its trainer league churned out world-class trainers one after another; while hard, the challenge would make her grow more, she figured. She never had any expectation of reaching far in any league anyway, so taking a harder one wasn’t all that bad - she quickly berated herself for thinking like that however - if you didn’t expect you’d be able to do something, you’d certainly not be able to do it. ‘Positive thinking, Saya… positive thinking!

    As they approached the volcanic island, its city came into view. Downtown it was little more than an unruly mess of skyscrapers, most of which had popped up in the last two decades. Its beaches were lined with hotels and tourist facilities, and along the sides of the dormant volcano lay many grand mansions - Colun was widely known as a tax haven, so it attracted droves of rich people. Nearing the port area, the cries of wingull and hooting of ships gradually began filling the air, and the bustle of the port seemed to spring to life. Not only was it a popular cruise port, it was a bustling trade hub; being situated in the middle of the ocean it was a common intermediate stop for ship traffic going either way across the ocean, not to mention the fact that Colun was a leading producer of hi-tech industrial goods.

    After locating her ship, the SS Auricu, among the multifarious vessels docked at the port, she directed Cael to the plaza in front of it and set him down at one edge of it. The square was animated, filled with young trainers ready to start out on their journeys, some taking a last whiff of air before boarding ship, others seeing off their parents and relatives, and others simply playing with their pokemon. In one corner two kids tried to initiate a battle - but were quickly stopped by a security guard. Saya loved vivacious crowds like these - so long as she was alone anyway. She wasn’t really one for social intercourse, but observing people, strangers; looking in from a distance... there was something incredibly enticing about that - people gave much away about themselves, she felt, and it was enjoyable to read, without having to get involved.

    That shy, timid boy over there for instance, the longing way he looked at his friend… or that gaily-clad girl behind him making a scene, hiding her insecurities behind a brazen demeanour. Everywhere she looked she saw people, she saw their emotions, feelings, aspects of themselves they only showed indirectly, through convoluted actions and gestures - some subconscious, some conscious. They hoped others would see their message, that they would get the attention they wanted, hear the words they wanted. But it was futile, for most people would not pick up on that. She found it amusing and intriguing how people were afraid to be direct, even when not being so often caused the most grief. Nor would they learn from such futility, they would keep making such mistakes. People often went on and on about how we’d learn from our mistakes, but in the end all that would happen was we would change, and then make another mistake. Then we would change again, make a new mistake, and so it would continue. Maybe some people never made the same mistake twice, but we never stopped making new mistakes. Would it then matter if we did the same mistake a thousand times, or did a thousand different mistakes?

    “Togi?” The crystalline voice of her mother’s togekiss broke her out of her ruminations.

    “Yeah, sorry, didn’t forget you. Just… got lost in thought.” She replied, as she turned to him.

    “Togi-togi” Cael replied reassuringly, as if it didn’t matter to him. He was always so nice - but then again he was a togekiss; kind of lay in his genes he’d be nice.

    “Well, then. Thanks for the ride,” Saya remarked, smiling awkwardly. “Have a nice trip back.” With that, they hugged shortly, and Cael took off. She looked at him as he flew away into the distance, and didn’t turn until he was but a small dot on the horizon. ‘Good-bye, boring life!’ With a slightly melancholy sigh, she started walking towards the ship’s gangway, clutching tightly around the ticket in her hand.


    “…and if you need anything, the staff is always at your disposal.”

    Saya was too busy taking in the visuals of her cabin to look at the steward, but replied laconically with her thanks. The steward stood there for a few moments, before leaving and closing the door, leaving the seemingly spaced out girl to her own.

    The cabin was small, as one would expect - a small, separate bathroom and a bunk bed, as well as a porthole. Since whomever she would have to share the cabin with hadn’t arrived yet, she figured she’d go ahead and claim the top bunk. She took of her backpack and threw it atop the bed, and climbed onto it herself; she figured she’d hold off exploring the ship until her bunkmate arrived.

    After she’d made herself comfortable, she fetched from her backpack a pokeball - the one containing her newly-captured swablu. She directed it toward the middle of the room, and pressed its center button. In response the ball opened, a white beam shooting towards the middle of the room, gradually manifesting itself into the simple shape of a swablu. The blue songbird seemed bewildered at first; natural given its circumstances. After a few seconds though, Saya tried to get the swablu’s attention to her by calling out to it.

    “Blu?” The swablu turned around, looking confounded still, but it quickly recognized Saya as its trainer, and flew over to her, though slowly, hesitantly. To help it feel secure, Saya didn’t move, aside from gently stretching out her arm to the Swablu. A few moments passed, Saya staring at the swablu, it eyeing her for any suspicious movements while moving slowly towards her, before it was close enough for Saya to pet its head-body. It seemed to enjoy it, and Saya thus brought it close, letting it perch on her hand.

    “Nice to meet you…” Saya stared at the bird for a slight while, “…girl.”

    “Blu-swablu!” she greeted in kind.

    “So, uh, I’m Saya, and from today on I’ll be your trainer,” Saya continued. The little bird stood perched at her arms, attentively listening. “I hope we’ll be getting along well and such, and, uh, I also hope you enjoy battling, ‘cause we’ll do a lot of it where I’m headed,” Saya stated, a little awkwardly, but with a confident look on her face.

    “Blu-blu!” the swablu replied. Her tone and demeanour were both overly reassuring.

    “Heh,” Saya chortled, “we’ll see about that. I’ll go to the deck later on and we’ll see what you can do, okay?”


    “Well, then, I’ll return you to your pokeball, Aria.” Saya remarked, and picked up the ball lying next to her.

    “Blu?” The swablu seemed puzzled.

    “Oh, the name?” Saya realized she should’ve explained that. “It’s, uh, a name I thought of for you.” She scratched the back of her head. “You like it?”

    “Blu-blu!” she replied, seemingly happy.

    “Good.” Saya let out a relieved sigh, and with it, opened Aria’s pokeball to let her into it. After putting the ball back into her backpack, she fetched her mp3-player and a set of compact headphones. She never went anywhere without her music; the thought of a journey without music was, to her, horrifying. Just like how a movie without a soundtrack was incredibly boring, a day without music seemed extremely bland to her. There was also the matter of the... voices, which she felt appeared more seldom when she listened to music. Starting it up, she put on her headphones, and found some slow, mellifluous piano music to relax to.

    Sadly, she did not get more than a few minutes of it before the cabin door burst open; in it appearing a character Saya nearly instantly felt she would resent. Long, black-dyed hair, probably with extensions; a corset over a knee-length dress, both black with red lines; and black, buckled boots reaching her knee - obviously an attempt at some gothic or lolita fashion. Saya liked that kind of outfit, she really did, but she could not help but resent people who wore it. They were people who wanted to be unique and different, to express a sort of outwardly self, but in the end they just looked the same as so many others. They were people who needed an identity and proceeded to coat themselves with the flashiest one on the market.

    Indeed, most people lied and put up facades when with others, but these were people who took it one step further and put up facades and produced a persona when they faced themselves. On one hand they deserved some kind of pity for being what they were, on the other hand Saya found them to be the most annoying kind of person - add to the fact that they were usually overly energetic and brazen, clingy and impulsive, and that was a recipe for a horribly annoying person right there.

    Depressingly, it also dawned on Saya the fact that she was veritably stuck with this person for the next two days. If anything she figured she should at least try to put up an accepting facade. Not that such was her forte, both because she loathed it and simply because she was bad at it. Thus, she surmised, the best course of interaction would be no interaction. In that regard, she leant back again and closed her eyes, before the lolita girl had ever noticed she’d paid any attention. If she was lucky, she could get away with it.

    Or not. That pricking on her shoulder appearing a few moments after was distinctly human in nature. She opened her eyes, and turned to the girl - she’d half-climbed the side of the bunk and was face to face with Saya. She took off her headphones - so much for that relaxation - and stared blankly at the girl, who in turn was starting at Saya, quizzically.

    “What?” Saya asked grumpily, after a few more seconds of the strange girl staring at her.

    “Hey,” the girl said, unfazed by Saya’s obvious reluctance towards interaction.

    Saya sighed. “Uh, hey.”

    “How are you?” the girl asked.

    Saya figured if she seemed uninterested the girl would pick up on it. “Okay, I guess.” She avoided eye contact, staring into the wall instead.

    After some silence, the girl responded, chafed, “you know, it’s common courtesy to return that kind of question.” Saya could swear the girl’s face was even closer now.

    Saya sighed, once more. If the silent treatment didn’t work she’d have to bring out heavier guns. “You know, if you want attention or whatever, that’s fine, but go bother someone else for it; I’m not enabling you.” Again she avoided eye contact as much as possible, fiddling instead with her music player.

    The girl got down from the edge of the bed, her heavy boots making a thump as she landed on the floor. She didn’t seem visibly put off. “Implying, what, I have sucky self-confidence and striking a normal conversation is me seeking attention?” she retorted, and shook her head. “Sorry, girl, couldn’t be more wrong.”

    Saya groaned. “Right, so you only dress like the most attention-seeking person ever - but you’re not.” Now that the girl was below her, she offered her the dubious honour of a glare.

    “So basically you figure that everyone who dresses up alternatively does so because they have sucky self-confidence and or need attention? Good one...” The girl’s sarcastic tone irritated Saya, who crossed her arms in response.

    Alternatively. A camouflage for your insecurities, I see.” She still stared at the girl, standing in the middle of the small cabin. “And yes. I mean, it’s really obvious why. People lack self-confidence; they feel they’re not being seen. Then--”

    “Then they dress like whores or anime characters or whatever to get everyone’s attention, yeah, yeah, heard it before.” While Saya hated being interrupted, the girl wasn’t far off. She didn’t find an immediate retort, instead looking at her, waiting for her to continue. The girl rather walked towards the outer wall of the room, leaning against it and crossing her arms as if in response to Saya doing the same.

    “Do go on,” Saya eventually requested, since the girl remained silent.

    “See, I mostly agree with you, there’s a ton of vain idiots who dress all flashy and act all flamboyantly because they need to cover up something, so your deduction works – most of the time anyway, you assume everyone do when you shouldn’t; there’s always exceptions.”

    “Yeah, no, see, everyone thinks they’re the exception, that they are better than the others,” Saya replied dryly. “An ‘alternative’ person would look at another ‘alternative’ person and think about how that other person is ‘such an emo’, when they are just like that themselves.” She stopped to take a breath. The girl was gazing attentively at her for once, giving her time to speak her mind. “They might look at a ‘normal’ person and say ‘they are so pale and boring’ when they themselves are equally plain and boring and look just like a ton of other people do. Everyone sees in others what they don’t want to see in themselves,” she finished, with a slightly lopsided smirk.

    “Are you any better, then?” the girl retorted immediately. “Are you not also a person who thinks herself of a better ilk than the average human?”

    “What I am irrelevant. We were discussing you, not me.” Saya got up from her resting position as she spoke, assuming a cross-legged position facing the cabin so she could face the other girl directly.

    “On the contrary,” the girl replied, “if you are no better, what right do you have to criticize me?” She spread her arms wide, in a questioning manner.

    “By that argument no one can criticize anyone,” Saya replied, flailing her arms. “We’re all humans and all flawed. And if you must know, I am very conscious of who I am and my role in relation to other humans,” she finished, rather matter-of-factly.

    Right. How can I know your answer reflects your rational mind, and not the kind of holier-than-thou attitude you’ve been talking about?” the girl challenged. This time she smirked a little.

    “You can’t, you’d have to trust me.” Saya paused, letting out a sigh. “And, you know, there’s no point in posing a question if you’re just outright gonna reject the answer like you’re doing now.”

    “You ask me to trust you – yet you completely ignore me when I say what I’m like,” her opponent asserted.

    Saya sat back in her bunk, leaning against the long-side wall. “Okay, so we pretend you’re an exception and don’t lack self-confidence, nor are you an attention whore. Then why dress like that?” Saya hoped she could retake the initiative.

    “Maybe, oh, I dunno, because I like it?” Again with that annoying tone, Saya thought.

    “No, see, no one dresses like that simply because they like it,” she affirmed.

    “You ask for reasons, but flat out reject them when I give them - oh, who was it that chastised me fro doing that? Besides do you really find it that hard to believe?” Not really, Saya figured. She did like it herself after all, simply for the looks. But there were a ton of reasons against wearing it oneself.

    “Yeah. It’s cumbersome--”

    “I find it comfortable, actually,” the girl interrupted.

    “And you don’t get to see yourself with it so much, which defeats the purpose of liking it--“

    “No, you can just visualize that. Besides, it makes for a better experience when I actually do look at myself in a mirror or something.” Saya hoped she’d stop interrupting her – and make good arguments to boot.

    “And finally,” Saya said, slowly and loudly, not wanting her conversational counterpart to interrupt her once more, “most people outgrow it once they get over their phase of wallowing in self-pity.”



    “So basically what you’re saying is you can accept exceptions, except when you meet one. Good one. Oh, and not to mention, I can’t outgrow something I never was.”

    “But- Ugh, whatever.” Say couldn’t really think of a quick retort. “I’ll give you this one.” While she hated losing and generally argued till the other person gave in, this time she was the one who had to cave.

    “So have we learned a thing or two about prejudice today?” the girl asked smugly, as she headed over to her bed, chuckling to herself.

    “Save me the condescension,” Saya replied. She couldn’t help but laugh a little herself – the teasing seemed friendly in nature and the mystery girl didn’t seem all that bad after all.

    “I’m Saya, by the way,” she said after a few moments of pause.

    “I’m Mira,” she responded, busy unpacking her backpack.

    After that the conversation flowed relatively light-heartedly, and before long they decided they’d have a pokemon battle on the ship’s battle deck, to test their mettle against one another.


    Saya took a deep breath of fresh air as they entered the ship’s battle deck; a large exterior in the front of the ship, filled with many small battle arenas obviously intended for the low power and subsequent small scale of rookie fights. She stretched her arms as wide as she could, letting out a long “aaaah” to express her comfort. The ship was still docked, with the city on one side and the ocean on the other. Young kids shouting commands and the sound of battles, the bustle of the harbour and the cries of wingull, all blended together in a cacophony of sounds, and Saya felt entirely rejuvenated. She marked a battle spot that would be theirs and pointed to Mira towards it.

    Saya turned to face Mira, eyeing her for a moment. “So how old are you?” Saya asked.

    “Fifteen,” she replied.

    Saya raised an eyebrow. “That’s a weird age to start.”

    “Yeah,” Mira remarked, scratching her head, “I worked at a gym after trainer school.”

    “Getting a head start, eh?” Saya smiled coyly, nudging Mira's shoulder, but her countenance quickly subsided. “Ey, that means you’re gonna kick my ass. Not fair!”

    Mira chuckled. “Relax, me and Lightning – uh, that’s my starter, a shinx -, didn’t train a lot back then, he wasn’t the right pokemon for the gym. Besides you’re like what, nineteen-“

    “Seventeen” Saya interjected.

    “Seventeen, so you’ve got like four years of experience.”

    Saya laughed nervously, averting her gaze. “Heh, yeah, no, we hardly ever practiced.”

    “I see,” Mira responded, and with that a moment of silence ensued, as they made their way to the small field – no more than about five meters longside, and placed their backpacks down next to the field. "That makes us about equal then."

    Mira sat down on her knees, browsing through her backpack – for her pokeball, no doubt “So who’s your starter?” she asked, her voice muffled by the backpack.

    “Huh? Oh, it's Lotus.” Saya sat down cross-legged, and started browsing for her own two pokeballs. “I’ll not be using him though; I’ll be using Aria, who I caught on my way here.”

    “Oooh, you already got two?” Mira remarked excitedly. She’d finally found her pokeball and took it from the backpack, not hesitating to open it, revealing the black-and-blue feline figure. His yellow eyes scanned the alien surroundings with unmistakable curiosity, before settling on his master, whom he jumped into the arms of. She petted Lightning happily, the young cub waggled his star-tipped tail happily in response. Meanwhile Saya had found her two pokeballs, letting out Aria and Lotus.

    `Hey, you caught someone without me?´ he asked, upon noticing Aria.

    `Heh, yeah, got caught up in the moment, sorry,´ Saya remarked, smiling defensively. Lotus then proceeded to introduce himself to the swablu – the latter becoming visibly flustered at Lotus’ telepathic communication – Saya remembered the first time she’d experienced it; it was an alien means of communication indeed.

    “You have a swablu? Lucky!” Mira interjected, as she sat down Lightning, letting him greet the other two pokemon. “So which one is your starter? You only gave me a name.”

    Saya watched as the three pokemon played around; Lightning jumping up and reaching for Aria with his paws, Aria flying just too high for Lightning to reach her, and Lotus standing there, chuckling silently to himself. `You okay?´ Saya inquired to Lotus, and turned to face Mira. “Lotus – uh, he’s the ralts.”

    `Yeah,´ Lotus replied, but he didn’t get to say anymore before the shinx jumped him, licking his helmet. After a few seconds however he teleported away, leaving the baffled Lightning to fall to the floor with a small thud. Aria then perched on Lotus’ head, trilling a cheerful tune that was as much laughing at Lightning as with.

    Mira nudged her, asking Saya why'd she weren't using he starter. “I, uh, we, well, have our reasons,” Saya replied, still eyeing the three pokemon. Lightning seemed slightly put off by Lotus’ action, which prompted Saya to tell him to apologize - and before long the three of them were all playing cheerfully around once more. As for enlightening the now-puzzled Mira, she didn't feel like it.

    “Want to get this party rolling?” Mira asked after a few moments. Saya nodded, and cued Aria that she was up.

    The two trainers lined up on each side of the small field, with their pokemon in front of them. The two trainers asked if the other was ready, and with agreeing nods, they both sent off their pokemon. Mira commanded Lightning to charge up electricity, and he started rapidly trampling his forelegs to the ground, generating electricity with his forelegs. Slowly and surely the two golden bands on his forelegs started glowing, as they stored more electricity.

    Saya meanwhile, realized she had yet to actually check out Aria’s moves, and that she was at a type disadvantage. In a bout of panic she simply called out for Aria to tackle the shinx; a basic move that most if not all pokemon were capable of - though a lightweight such as Aria would not inflict a great deal of damage. The songbird seemed a bit unsure of the order at first, but proceeded to follow it, and dived towards her feline opponent, closing her wings tight as she was about to make contact.

    “Dodge!” Mira cried out, though the shinx had his forelegs tied up, and found it hard to dodge. The songbird made first contact, and while not in any way a powerful strike, it was a start - Saya had also remembered a few other moves inexperienced swablu were capable of - pecking, singing and the astonish attack notably.

    As the swablu flew back into a proper position, Mira ordered a thunderbolt attack from Lightning, who tightened his muscles, face to tail. Sparks started flying along his fur, slowly coalescing at his tail, which he raised high in preparation for firing the electric attack.

    `Lightning can use thunderbolt?´ Saya was very surprised at this - it was a very advanced move for such a young pokemon; most likely Mira had used an instructional TM. Nonetheless, she had to cope.

    “Dodge, and then use astonish!” Saya commanded, and swablu began drifting to the right. Her opponent caught on to this however, and aimed his electric strike properly to hit the swablu, the electricity no doubt dealing much damage and causing her to flinch slightly, but not enough to not carry out her orders, and she started swerving back and forth while nearing in on Lightning, screeching in order to disarray and frighten him - and when she was close enough, she darted into a head-on tackle, this time due to his reaction strong enough to send him flying off his feet, landing on his back next to Mira.

    “Hang in there, Lightning,” she encouraged, and sure enough the shinx was quick to get back on his legs, running back into the battlefield. Instantly Saya called out for Aria to use her sing attack - if she could make Lightning fall asleep, the battle would be pretty much over! The songbird started rocking gently back and forth, singing a mellowing tune that could make any pokemon calm down and fall asleep.

    “Distract yourself from it! Growl!” Mira called out. She remembered the lesson on the sing attack very well - she’d slept in class the lesson after, leading to no small amount of jokes on the coincidence. It taught that to avoid the sing attack, a pokemon should mentally distract themselves from the sounds, for example by making noise itself, thus preventing the hypnotic effects of it. The shinx roared out - if it was strong enough to be called as such -, his thin, relatively bright voice not carrying far, but still enough not to fall asleep.

    “Peck him, Aria!” Saya called when she saw the attack failed, forgetful of the fact that air-type moves usually weren’t effective versus electric pokemon. Mira retorted by ordering Lightning to send a flurry of sparks towards Aria, now charging beak first towards the shinx. He tensed his muscles and quickly charged electricity through his body, causing his fur to slightly glow - the golden parts in particular -, and before Aria could reach him, he sent electrical sparks flying, several of them hitting the songbird, dealing enough damage for her to faint, dropping down to the floor right in front of Lightning, who growled with delight at his victory. Mira jolted her fist into the air, likewise exclaiming her pleasure at the victory.

    Saya on the other hand, recalled Aria, praising her for a job well done - she couldn’t help but feel a little dejected though; she’d hoped to win her first battle.

    It was then she noticed Lotus was trying to communicate, and turned to him.

    `I… I can f-fight if you’d like. ´ His uncertainty was evident; drooped shoulders and eyes looking down into the floor.

    `Don’t force yourself, Lotus, ´ Saya replied. Even as she said that, she felt it would be beneficial for him to gain some battling experience; she just didn’t want to put pressure on him.

    He stood there for a few seconds, before suddenly looking up at her, with an unmistakable bout of determination - surely a façade, but she didn’t need any telepathy to read that he really wanted, and that to deny him it would be, at best, rude and inconsiderate of his feelings.

    “Hey, Mira!” Saya called out. Mira, who was busy petting Lightning and congratulating him on a job well done, looked up, slightly absentmindedly, at Saya. “Would you mind it if Lightning also had a battle against Lotus?”

    Hardly a second passed before Mira and Lightning both assumed a confident posture, legs apart, Mira’s index finger pointing at Saya and a huge smirk on both their faces. “You bet we will!” she exclaimed. They both seemed high on endorphins from the previous victory, and Saya couldn’t help but think of the phrase “pride goes before a fall” - in the very least she hoped that was true.

    The trainers both re-assumed their positions on each end of the battlefield, Lightning jolting into position, and Lotus teleporting into the field - ralts were not known for their ability to walk fast.

    “Confusion!” Saya called out - official rules prohibited telepathic giving of orders during battles, and while not an official battle Saya found it a generally unfair affair to use telepathy. Lotus responded to her order, and his two horns started glowing with a faint crimson. He gathered the tips of his arms in front of his face, slightly bowing his head almost as if praying. As he fired off the telekinetic shockwave, he opened his arms wide, jutting his chest forward, as if he was physically sending it out.

    “Dodge!” Mira cried out, but the shockwave proved too wide for Lightning to dodge - yet also weak enough for him to retain balance. Mira then called for him to use a tackle attack, and the young cub dashed towards his unagile opponent, who received an order to stop the charge with a new confusion attack - it did however only slightly halt the shinx’s progress, who could continue his dart towards Lotus.

    “Teleport!” Saya called out, and smirked a little. Teleport was a very helpful move for such situations - however it did come at the cost of expending power on a solely defensive move, and one that demanded much energy to use, to boot. As a strategy of attrition, it was always doomed to fail, unless the power gap was of such a character that using teleport was not needed in the first place.

    Lotus obeyed, and as Lightning was about to hit his adversary, he suddenly found nothing but thin air in front of him, catching him slightly off balance. Saya then called for Lotus to use a double team attack; creating three illusory copies of himself by the time the shinx had turned to face him - confusing him as to which was the real one. This was the first step in a strategy Saya felt particularly proud of.

    “The second from my right!” Mira called, pointing at that particular copy. “Tackle it!” Saya had figured Lightning also had a limited power, not being able to use his lightning attacks too many times without rest; especially so after using thunderbolt. The feline charged at the Lotus Mira had pointed out as the real one - she’d watched the attack and knew which one was real.

    However as Lightning struck Lotus, he found that he hit nothing but thin air. Being unprepared for the thin air right up until the impact, he was not able to retain balance when he landed, falling on his side, brushing against the floor. Just as Saya had planned - by combining double team and teleport, she could confuse even those who saw where the original stood as to where he was by teleporting to the location of one of the copies, and at the same time leaving one where he stood. Thus she overcame the problem most unagile pokemon had with double team - they could not move fast enough to properly confuse their opponents as to the original’s location.

    “Confusion!” Saya shouted, and with the shinx not able to dodge, Lotus managed to score a critical hit this time around, sending the cub flying through the air towards Mira, who called out to encourage the shinx, and then tasked him with charging up electricity. In response Saya ordered Lotus to use another confusion attack - this time Mira had Lightning dodge in time however, the shinx performing an agile jump above the telekinetic shockwave. She then ordered him to use a spark attack on Lotus, who Saya in return had teleport away from the attack, the sparks of electricity and the young cub hitting nothing but empty air and the floor.

    `Hey, I have my limits you know, ´ Lotus reminded Saya, who was not very efficiently conserving his energy at the moment. Saya acknowledged his words, however a little bit grudgingly.

    “Tackle!” Mira left Saya with no time to think of a good strategy, and she ordered Lotus to use his confusion attack once more to try and stop the shinx’s assault. It proved unfruitful however; while it slowed him down and dealt some damage, Lightning still managed to deal damage to Lotus, and the difference in body weights ensured the feline’s tackle attack dealt a fair bit of damage. Saya dared not order another teleport attack, for fear of Lotus expending all his remaining energy.

    “If you direct the confusion attack slightly askew, it can cause your opponent to miss.” The appearance of a sudden voice made Saya jump a little, spending a few seconds before she could collect herself, and turn to face the source of it. A young man stood next to her, tall and lanky, clad in an ankle-length leather trench coat, only loosely tied around the waist to reveal a t-shirt and what looked like buckled cargo pants. He wore army boots, and his head was topped by a fedora - all articles of clothes were pitch-black, giving an impression of some bleak character borrowed from cyberpunk fiction. And here he strode in, interrupting a battle like he had all the rights in the world to do that. `Just because you think you look cool doesn’t mean you can act all arrogant,´ Saya thought, staring dryly at him.

    She blinked a few times, before asking, “I’m sorry, what?” she jabbed.

    “Just that,” he replied cryptically, before elaborating: “If you task your ralts - Lotus, was it? - with directing his confusion attack slightly sideways, relative to the path of the shinx, you can throw it slightly off balance, leading it to miss its attack.”

    “Yeah, I got that,” Saya replied chafedly, “but what’s with inter--”

    “Hey!” Mira shouted, pointing an index finger at the mysterious character, “I don’t know who you are, but don’t go around interrupting other people’s battles!” Her voice was fairly agitated - most likely the adrenaline from the battle coursing through her.

    The man raised his hands in response, palms facing Mira to indicate he meant no harm. On top of that he smiled gently as he said, “Ah, I do apologize.” His voice was calm, slow. “I meant no offense; I just saw this young lady struggling and thought I would offer her some advice.”

    “Well isn’t that all high and mighty of you!” Mira retorted heatedly, her fists clenched, prompting Saya to join in.

    “Hey, Mira, stop being so rude!” she chastised. “He apologized already; let’s just get on with the battle.” Mira didn’t want to agree, but she wasn’t impervious to logic and agreed they could.

    “Whatever,” she replied, rather sulkily. She could always complain to the strange man afterwards. Saya wasn’t particularly happy either, and planned to voice her opinion afterwards. With that in mind, his advice was sound and for that she was happy - it could also be that rather than rude and or arrogant he was simply socially ignorant and meant only to be helpful - as he himself said. `You got what he said? ´ she asked Lotus.

    `Yeah, ´ he replied, and poised himself for battle once more.

    “Hit him with a spark attack!” Mira started, and the shinx followed suit, running towards Lotus, his muscles generating electricity as he ran, fur and body taking on an electric glow, sparks crackling.

    “Confusion!” Saya cried, and Lotus did as she - and the mystery man - told, aiming the shockwave at a slightly off angle, timing it to hit Lightning late enough he would not be able to adjust - and indeed, the hit threw him of balance. Lotus’ timing was a little off though, and the shinx slightly grazed him; though the impact was not at all considerable, and enough to throw the feline slightly in disarray.

    “Keep going!” Mira shouted - having not heard what the young man said she assumed Lightning had just missed or Lotus had gotten in a lucky dodge -, and he followed orders; turning around and continuing his charge. Saya called for Lotus to keep to the strategy, and this time he was successful. As his opponent was a few steps away from him, he sent away the shockwave, letting it hit the shinx so he veered off his course just as he was about to hit Lotus, missing him completely this time.

    “What are you doing?” Mira complained, frustrated that Lightning could miss Lotus like that. Saya on the other hand was both excited and relieved; she’d found a good and alternate way to have Lotus avoid attacks - some attacks anyway, and only in some circumstances, it wouldn’t work on a heavy or particularly skilled pokemon she figured.

    “Hit him straight on with confusion, give it all you got!” Saya ordered, and Lotus started charging up a powerful shockwave, his horns glowing brightly. Saya ordered Lightning to dodge, and he started moving out of Lotus’ path, but the ralts was able to adjust and trace his opponents’ movements, hitting the cub straight on with the shockwave, sending him flying backwards. As he landed, he rolled around once, stopping just outside the field, lying entirely still. Both Saya and Mira tensed as Lightning lay entirely still, hoping he would get up.

    He didn’t, and after a few very excruciating seconds, Mira called him back to his pokeball, praising him for a job well done - he had, after all, nearly beat two pokemon. Saya stood in disbelief still, it took her a few seconds before she realized that she had won. `Lotus, you did it!´ she exclaimed.

    `Yeah!´ he replied, very proud indeed at his achievement. Saya, while definitely happy, was more tempered. Indeed Lotus had beaten a pokemon, but it was only a rookie trainer’s, one that had already fought a battle at that, and he only did it with advice someone else had given. She - and Lotus - had a long way to go, if her goals were ever to become true; to reach them she would have to catch many strong pokemon and work hard with them.

    `What’s wrong?´ Lotus inquired, aware that Saya didn’t seem to have her mind entirely on his achievement. Saya didn’t reply right away, but walked over to him and lifted him up, hugging him tightly.

    `Congratulations, Lotus!´ Saya praised, entirely avoiding his question. He wasn’t happy with that, but in the end the surge of hormones from winning took over and he gave to the happiness of the situation. After a long moment of silent hugging, Saya found Lotus’ pokeball and let him into it. Her complexion then immediately changed; her face tightening as she turned around.

    “Hey, y-” she interrupted herself as she turned around; noticing that the sabled man from earlier was gone. Turning to Mira, she asked if she’d seen where he went - she was facing his way after all -, receiving nothing but a shake of the head in reply; Mira had been too engulfed in the battle. “Well, nothing to do about what you can’t do anything about;” she shrugged, “can always talk to him if I see him on a later occasion.” Mira nodded, and with that they both decided to head for the ship’s pokemon centre to let their pokemon heal up


    “…come back in about an hour, and your pokemon will be ready,” the joy said. Saya was listening attentively, but Mira was letting her mind drift off. She felt sad, and angry. Why’d she have to lose? Lightning was doing such a great job. He’d have won, too, against two pokemon, if not for some idiot with a plan.

    No, of course, she couldn’t think like that, she told herself. Even if someone had a plan she should not lose. She would inevitably meet people who, unlike Saya, had well-thought strategies, who had strong pokemon. She’d need to stay on top of her game to be able to compete. She’d need strategies and plans; she couldn’t fumble around like she did in this match. She was better than that, she knew. She had so much potential, she could become better than them all, and then, then she could finally reclaim what was-

    Prodding on her shoulder. She lost her train of thought, got back in contact with the world, the noises of the pokemon centre, the girl standing next to her.

    “Are you all right?” Saya asked. “You were clenching your fists awfully tight just now,” she remarked.

    “Yeah,” Mira answered softly. “Just… annoyed at that guy, is all,” she lied, averting her gaze.

    “Still?” Saya responded exasperatedly. “I already admitted it’s your victory, really, I wouldn’t possibly have won if not for him, you know that, I know that.” She hesitated a little. “You’re better than me, okay?” she said, a mix of enthusiasm and anger in her voice.

    “Yeah, but-”

    “Hey!” a person behind them suddenly shouted. “You’re blocking the line.” The two girls looked up and noticed that a line had, indeed formed; they’d been lucky to get to the pokemon centre before it.

    “Ah, sorry,” Saya lifted her arms, “we’ll move.” Prompted by that the two girls moved out of the pokemon centre, and into one of the ship's many interior hallways, by now bustling with young trainers. “Want to go grab a small bite?” Saya offered, and Mira simply nodded in response.

    “So what made you want to become a trainer?” Mira asked, looking at Saya. “Anything in particular, or just going with the flow?” She gesticulated with her hands at each question. “Or, of course not, you went to high school, wouldn’t be following the flow then. Hmm, then perhaps-”

    “Hey.” Saya, sighed, interrupting Mira’s increasingly rapid ramble. “Were you asking me the question, or yourself?”

    “Woops, sorry, I tend to, hmm, let my mind wander aloud,” she explained.

    “Don’t we all,” Saya replied sagaciously, “don’t we all.” She pointed right to indicate where they should go at the intersection they were approaching. “I saw a real neat place just up here earlier. Anyway, why I wanted to be a trainer!” she replied, wanting to get to the answer. She had to stop for a while though, to think about it, how to answer. It was not that she didn’t know, as much as she needed to find a way of wording herself that saved her from elaborating on her entire life story.

    “Hmm,” she started thoughtfully, “I guess you could say I just want to prove to myself that I am a good enough trainer.”

    Mira yawned quickly, not bothering to cover her mouth. “Ah, sorry ‘bout that,” she remarked afterwards, laughing awkwardly. “Good enough for what, then?”

    And there was what Saya had hoped to avoid. Not that she minded talking about herself, but she didn’t want people to get wrongful opinions of her. “Well, my siblings are all really good trainers and or coordinators, same with my parents - that is, mom was, but she decided to give up being a trainer when she was around my age.” Saya sighed. “Such a shame, too; she was in fact a favourite to win the Senior League in Johto.”

    “Ooh,” Mira remarked excitedly. “Why’d she give it up?”

    “I’m not sure- oh, sorry,” Saya bumped into a person, turning around to apologize, then back to Mira, more mindful of the crowd. “Basically she, uh, tends to avoid the subject whenever I ask her about it.” She bit her lip. “Pretty sure she had a bad experience with something.”

    “Oh, I see,” Mira replied, not sure what to respond with. “But yeah, so why did you want to start training then? Family heritage? Wanting to follow in your parents’ footsteps?”

    “Nah, nothing like that.” Saya paused for a slight, scratching her neck ponderously. “I want to do my own thing; they all did it because they wanted to, not necessarily because they'd be good at it. That's the same with me; I always wanted to be a trainer - my parents often discouraged me from it in fact, that’s why I went through high school and everything.” She pointed towards a large sign just a little further up the hallway. “That’s the place.”

    Mira widened her eyes at Saya’s statement - she’d said it casually but to Mira that seemed unbelievable. “They didn’t want you to become a trainer? Even when they themselves were?” She raised her arms, continuing her exasperated rant. “What the hell is up with that? I mean, even if not for their heritage, you wanted to become a trainer! They should-”

    Saya placed a hand on Mira’s shoulder, inviting her to calm down, and pulled slightly on it to invite her to turn and face her. “Not to be rude, but I don’t think you should be judging people you don’t know,” she stated, her voice and countenance almost unnaturally calm. “Besides,” she grinned lopsidedly, “it’s not as if they are wrong. I’m more cut out for other things. And it’s not like they don’t support me, I mean, Mom might not always show it but deep down I know she’s proud I’m doing my own thing, and she knows that’s what’s important, to do what you want yourself, in spite of whatever you’re predisposed to do.” She was staring directly into Mira’s eyes now, and Mira saw that fire burning in her blue eyes - she recognized it well, almost as if staring into a mirror. “So I’m going to work hard, find strong companions, train them, train myself, and in the end I’ll win. I’ll come out at top, I’ll be one of the best, so I can prove to myself that with a strong heart and will, I can do anything; that that’s what matters, doing not what I’ve a talent for but what I want to do. That’s why I want to be a trainer.”

    It took Mira a few seconds to gather from Saya’s intensity; she was frankly taken aback by it. “Ah, uhm, sorry, I tend to get eager and carried away,” she responded. “I usually don’t mean anything rude by it, I just- ah!” she interrupted herself, waving a hand in defence, “I shouldn’t be making excuses, anyway, I’m sorry for speaking like that of your parents!” She seemed really flustered, flailing about and blushing ever so slightly.

    Saya chuckled. “Hey, it’s cool. Saying sorry is okay, I can see you didn’t mean it like that. Anyway, hunger is me; let’s get into the caf already!” With that, she turned around and headed towards the cafeteria.

    “And whose fault is it we ended up standing in the hallway?” Mira teased, and smiled at her. The girl in front of her, she thought, was the real deal; her desire was founded in a wish to be good for her own sake and do what she truly enjoyed. `…I might have something to learn from her,´ she mused, staring pensively at the raven-hair in front of her for a few seconds before following her.

    It did, however, not take many steps before Saya stopped once more, at the entrance to the small cafeteria. “Hey!” Mira exclaimed as she nearly bumped into the other girl. “What’s with suddenly stopping?” She quickly realized it however, as she looked over Saya’s shoulders, recognizing the black-clad man sitting alone in a corner of the cafeteria. “Whoa, is that-”

    “Yeah,” Saya responded.



    Mira put her arms to her hips, bending slightly forwards towards the other girl. “Hey, you didn’t even let me finish.”

    Saya turned to face her, brows furrowed. “And what’re you gonna say? He apologized earlier and it’s not like you can do anything more than that, that’s just you satisfying an inane desire to control.”

    Mira would have liked to argue the other girl’s point, but the more she thought about it the more she realized Saya wasn’t exactly wrong, and she left it at a few failed attempts to form a reasonable retort. It was about then she noticed that the monotone man had spotted them, and was in fact waving at them.

    “Ah, you’re right,” Saya remarked after Mira made her aware of it. “Let’s go over to him. But don’t get all rude, he apologized already, remember?”

    Mira scoffed and gazed away. “Hmpf, what’s the point of heading over to him then?”

    “He might be nice company.” Saya prodded Mira’s shoulder. “Besides, it’s not like you have to tag along.”

    “Aaaah, whatever” Mira scratched her head. “I’ll try. No promises.”

    “Yeah, yeah,” Saya shrugged, and headed over to the man, followed closely by Mira, who despite her promises was frowning ever so slightly.

    “So what do you want, O strange person?” Saya asked as she seated herself on the chair opposite him, Mira grabbing a third chair and placing it on the side opposite the wall.

    He finished the bite of food in his mouth in no hurry, before swallowing, eyeing the two girls all the time. Saya was calming gazing back, but Mira was frowning, her arms crossed and a finger tapping rapidly. He turned to Saya to answer, “Ah, I merely wished for company.”

    Saya raised an eyebrow. “So you just call over random people. Creepy, much?”

    “Ah, but you are not entirely random,” he replied, casting an exemptionary glance over to Mira, who turned her head away when their eyes met.

    Saya leant back in her chair, arms crossed loosely, waiting for him to elaborate. “Meaning what, exactly?” she inquired after a few seconds, when said elaboration didn’t come.

    “That would be your battle earlier, which I once again apologize for interrupting,” he said, smiling gently. Saya tried to probe him for genuineness but neither his amber eyes nor his smile offered any conclusiveness either way.

    “Yeah, what was that about?” Saya had meant to inquire about it - originally to voice a complaint but she figured he’d meant his apology and was just being awkward or something along those lines - him contacting them here could very well mean just the same thing, so she decided to simply shrug it off.

    “I thought yours was an interesting battle compared to the others going on there,” he stated calmly.

    Mira jutted forward in her seat, putting her hands to the table. “So we’re supposed to feel, what, special that you decided to interrupt just our battle?” she inferred, breaking her hitherto silence, much to Saya’s chagrin. So much for suppressing that inane desire, she thought.

    He smiled gently, looking over Mira as he responded, “Ah, but that’s not what I meant at all.”

    “Actually you did.” She pointed at him. “You were trying to excuse your rude action just now using that reason.”

    “Not in any way an excuse, I know my actions were rude - that is why I apologized. It was merely on an observation on why I interrupted in the first place, meant to answer your friend’s question. I did never expect to demand respect or honour with that remark; it would be rather on the contrary in fact. I do not in any way feel so entitled as to induce thankfulness in others; it is not something to be demanded nor earned, except if one goes out of one’s way to be friendly or helpful towards others, and if anything I went out of my way to be unfriendly.” He paused, drank a sip of water, holding up his hand to indicate he was not done. “Quite frankly though,” he continued, “even with my earlier actions in mind I think you are being very unreasonable.”

    Mira huffed, baring her teeth. “You wanna battle over it?”

    He chuckled lightly at that demand. “What ever would such a battle decide? Besides, trust me, you wouldn’t want to fight me. I’m not exactly a… rookie.” While his demeanour was as calm as ever, the two girls couldn’t help but feel the intensity of the implied threat.

    Mira was about to speak up, but Saya stretched out her hand to halt her. “Mira, stop it. What did I just tell you about that silly desire to control?”

    Mira cast her glance in Saya’s direction, her face muscles all slightly tightened. “But he-“

    “No, Mira, no buts. You’re just holding on to incessant pride, and whether or not he’s intending to this guy is making a fool out of you. Be a good human and admit a loss.”

    “But- I-” She blushed slightly. “Fine,” she sulked. “But I want to eat, and this guy,” she gave him a condescending glare, “is making me lose my appetite, so if you’ll have me excused I’ll be leaving.” With that, Mira grabbed her backpack, and headed for the counter, the two others staring at her.

    “Well... nice job pissing her off,” Saya remarked, after Mira’d walked sufficiently away from them.

    “I did not attempt nothing of the sort, however,” he replied, as they turned to each other.

    Saya smirked. “Yeah, not so sure about that, mister emotionless. But, indeed, she is probably the most irritable person I have ever met.”

    “Quite so,” the other man agreed. “Ah, but I forgot to introduce myself. I am Aaron,” he stated, somewhat solemnly.

    “Saya here, pleasure’s all mine,” Saya replied, her eyes once more fixated on Mira, who left the small cafe with her food, offering Saya no eye contact at all.

    “I do wonder what makes an unlikely pair such as the two of you friends,” Aaron inquired after a short while. “You seem like you’d get at each other the first moment you met, and you seem to be polar opposites, yet you put up with her.” He leant forward, putting his elbows to the table and resting his chin on this hands.

    Leaning back in her chair in response, Saya chuckled a bit, putting her hand to her mouth. “Funny you should mention, we did in fact argue as soon as we met. Some stuff about her appearance. And we’re not friends per se, I wouldn’t say anyway - we only met earlier today.”

    “Even more the reason to wonder why you put up with such a temper,” he argued, and sat up in his chair, putting his hands in his lap.

    “Hmm.” Saya mused on it for a slight, then offered a theory, “I might simply not be used to such a temper, that is, my patience might have yet to run out? Though,” she looked to the cafe entrance, “I think she isn’t as different from me as you’d think.” Indeed the girl did have a fuse shorter than any person she’d ever met, but she didn’t have the highest amount of patience herself. What was more relevant though was that burning desire she’d seen in her just earlier, when Saya talked about why she'd become a Trainers. The way Mira reacted was like looking into her own eyes, only brown not blue, and she felt sure Mira thought the same. Simply put it wasn’t that youthful desire all kids had to become the very best, there was something behind it, she’d recognized, something very real and personal, much like she thought the case was with herself.

    “How so?” Aaron solicited, when Saya didn’t offer a follow-up, jumping Saya out of her musings.

    “Oh,” Saya realized she wasn’t even looking his way, and turned to face him, “uh, well, she knows she has a short fuse and is working on it, so it’s okay. And, uhm, we’ve got similar goals is all.”

    Aaron smiled. “I see. You are a very acute person indeed. You-” he was interrupted by the buzzing of a cell phone. “Oh. Regretfully, it seems I am required elsewhere. Such a shame: I would have loved to remain and chat with you. With that, he got up, grabbed his backpack and started for the door.

    “Hang on a sec,” Saya stopped him, holding her arm in front of him. “You said our battle was interesting... more interesting than the others. Why?”

    “Ah. Think not much of it; it was merely a choice of battles between thirteen-year old rookies and you two, several years older... rookies. I would take a shinx with the ability to use thunderbolts and a ralts with double team teleport combo over two pokemon lacking all but the ability to scratch and run at each other any time the opportunity gave itself.”

    She curved her lips and whistled. “Niiiice. How did you notice the teleport thing?”

    “Ah. It’s not particularly hard to see if you’re experienced - the visual clones were all static, you just had to spot an irregularity in one of them, such as shivering, or breathing.” He looked down at her, “not that hard of a strategy to see through, unless improved upon. But misunderstand me not,” he continued, as he pushed Saya’s arm to the side, “it’s an interesting strategy for someone who have never fought a battle before - I assume you have not, outside of Trainer’s School - but it is not at all energy-effective, so considering that you have to be extra careful when you use it, and spendthe chance to score a decisive hit well.”

    “Uh, right,” Saya replied, considering his words. Before she got the chance to say anything more, he’d left, so she instead turned back to the table, and let out a sigh of relief. She was glad she’d been able to talk to some people today; as much as she often didn’t care much for company not having it at all wasn’t particularly fun either, and knowing she could communicate with other people still lifted her spirits. Who knew, maybe she’d even wind up with a travelling partner.


    Fuyuko let out a longing sigh, as she gazed across the living room. With her husband away on work for days at a time, and only Kenta left of the five children, she felt it rather empty. There was so much size, for so little. Well, Kenta could be quite rowdy so she wouldn’t feel all bored. She smiled at the thought. The more she considered it however, the more she came to feel she should find something to do with her time. While being a housewife and raising her children had been - was - fantastic, watching them head out into the world made her feel more and more that she too, belonged out there. She missed the days of traversing the land, searching for new companions and rivals alike, competing to become the best there ever was. Her face muscles tightened. She couldn’t do that… not anymore.

    Riiing. The ringing of the house’s telephone pierced the silence, jumping her out of her thoughts. She sat for a few seconds to gather her mind before heading over to the telephone station, located at an end tale near the front door.

    She eyed the display. Unknown caller. No video transfer.

    She wondered who it could be, calling at this time of the day, and pressed the reply button. “You’ve reached the Iwakawa residence, this is Fuyuko.”

    Konnichiwa, Fuyuko-kun,” an elderly voice replied. Fuyuko's heart skipped a beat when she recognized the voice. She’d not heard it in a while, she thought he’d be gone from her life by now, that he’d given up. But no, he hadn’t. She felt sweat droplets starting to form, yet her body was cold, very cold. Bad memories flickered across her mind, and it took her more than a moment to reply.

    “Takahiro,” she responded, unable to utter anything more than his name. Her breath was heavy but she tried to control it as best she could.

    “No honorifics?” he replied, continuing to speak in Japanese. “You’ve forgotten your manners, I see.” His tone was slow, but firm.

    “What do you want!?” Fuyuko demanded, her voice aggressive.

    “Now, is that a way to talk to one’s f--”

    “You’re not my father,” she interrupted. “Not anymore! Now what do you want!?” She wished very much to hang up but that’d get her nowhere. She needed to know what he wanted - no, she knew what he wanted, but she needed to be sure he hadn’t any new trick up his sleeve.

    “You know full well what I want, Fuyuko.”

    “How did you find me?” she inquired. Her hands were shaking visibly now. She’d tried to hide away, run from him. Sometimes she’d been able to but he always caught up. She’d hidden this number, only revealed it to a select few persons.

    “That is of no concern to you,” he brushed off. “Now, I await your answer.”

    “My answer is the same now as it always was. No!

    “I had hoped the years would have made you reconsider--“

    “I will never slave for you!” Fuyuko spat, slamming her fists into the table, so hard the family picture on it fell down.

    “Don’t you have children?” the man asked, ignoring her. “I heard one of them left only today.” Fuyuko flinched. “Saya, was it? It would be such a shame if anything was to happen to her, or any of her siblings, wouldn’t it?”

    Her whole body shook as he finished his sentence; as if a jolt of electricity had just run down her spine. “You… stay away from my children!” she shouted.

    “Then you know what you have to do,” he retorted, demandingly. “Lend me your power, and I will not touch your children.”

    Click. Fuyuko was not left with a chance to respond before Takahiro hung up. She fell to her knees, feeling her mind sinking together with her body, tears welling up in her eyes. She’d thought a lot of bad things about him, but his persistency was more intense than she’d imagined. Was he getting desperate? No matter, he was threatening not just her anymore, now. A feeling of resignation sank over her; brought back memories. Memories of lost dreams. Of years spent running away, thinking she’d never have a normal life. Of-

    “What’s wrong, mommy?” The voice belonged to Kenta, who had no doubt heard her shouting. He stood slightly hidden behind the door leading “Who were you talking to?”

    She withheld her sobs, swallowed deeply and took a deep breath, before turning to Kenta, forcing a smile. “Don’t worry, darling, Mommy’s just tired.”

    “You sounded angry, not tired,” Keita replied unknowingly.

    “Sometimes when people are tired they sound angry,” she remarked. “Why don’t you go back to your room and play? Mommy’s fine,” she finished, and Kenta did as she told, though only after staring at her for a few moments, wondering if she was indeed alright.

    “It’s going to be alright, Mommy,” he said, as he headed into the hallway leading to his room. The naïve optimism of children was amusing. Simply thinking everything was going to be alright wouldn’t get you anywhere - though neither would lamenting, Fuyuko eventually figured. She looked up, brushing her long hair away from her eyes, and gazed into the lofty, two-story ceiling. ‘What should I do? ’ Although the question bugged her for a while, she knew full well what she had to do. There was only one thing to do....


    Taking a long time between chapters? Nah, not at all. I hope to be able to write more frequently now, and I really want this story to get going. Reviews are appreciated. Oh, and if you wonder about the "air" type, that's just the flying type. I have done a few changes to the types (and there are uh, two that I have added), but nothing of great consequence
    "People like you and me overcame the Neanderthals. People like you and me overcame the Ice Age"

    "You can hold [the brain] in the palm of your hands - and it can contemplate the vastness of interstellar space"

    "Along some paths of cosmic discovery there are times when, at least for now, one must be content to love the questions themselves"

    The Symphony of Science; a tribute to the marvels of science and nature.

  7. #7
    ^^ Safe-T's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
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    Default Re: The Clandestine, Book 1: SAYA (Chapter II)

    Quote Originally Posted by TheLlama View Post

    Much appreciated credit goes to my beta readers, @Stellar Haze; and @unrepentantAuthor;
    Oh, you had beta-readers... even though I noticed at least 10 simple corrections (no offense). But, despite that I would still like to offer you myself as a beta-reader/editor... if you don't mind of course. :)

    Anyway, I only read the first chapter so far, but I gotta say you my friend are off to a great start! The character seem great, and are very well portrayed. Your story has got so much room for an amazing plot to be introduced and you seemed to have already added some good foreshadowing to that. And overall, I liked it and will proceed to read the second chapter and give you my thoughts on it.

    And you can count on me to be a regular reviewer to you fic. :)

    Oh, and I hope you accept my offer on being your editor.


  8. #8
    Reality is a dream TheLlama's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Bergen, Norway

    Default Re: The Clandestine, Book 1: SAYA (Chapter II)

    Thanks :D Very curious about those mistakes in the first chapter because I reread it a thousand times and had, as you pointed out, two betas ;P I very much appreciate your offer to betaread, and will take up on that.

    Note that updates will still come at an irregular basis, but this is highly motivating :D
    "People like you and me overcame the Neanderthals. People like you and me overcame the Ice Age"

    "You can hold [the brain] in the palm of your hands - and it can contemplate the vastness of interstellar space"

    "Along some paths of cosmic discovery there are times when, at least for now, one must be content to love the questions themselves"

    The Symphony of Science; a tribute to the marvels of science and nature.

  9. #9
    Because I like Tophats Tophat Dragoneye's Avatar
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    Oct 2009
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: The Clandestine, Book 1: SAYA (Chapter II)

    It certainly has been a while since you posted the first chapter of this fic, hope you can post chapters more regularly from now on (no pressure).

    Anyway, to the chapter. And wow! It is long! I guess I'll have to get used to read long chapters, which is not a bad because there's a lot of good details.

    Mira seems like an interesting character and also acts as the opposite of Saya, which creates some unique interactions between them, like their argument when they first met. I'm keen to see how the relationship will develop between the two. Aaron, likewise, is also interesting and he'll no doubt play a larger role in the story if my guess is correct.

    Whoever Takahiro is, it is certain he has made an impact before the story and will during it. It is also interesting that Saya's mother is his daughter and has some sort of dark past with him. I'm keen to see where this goes.

    Other than that, I enjoyed reading the chapter.

    Many thanks to Blue Dragon for the signature

    ONE-shot: Forced into Retirement

  10. #10
    Reality is a dream TheLlama's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Bergen, Norway

    Default Re: The Clandestine, Book 1: SAYA (Chapter II)

    Will probably please you then, to know that the third chapter will be up sometime during the next week ;)

    Thanks for the feedback, good to know that the plot threads I'm tossing about intrigues, and that the length isn't off-putting.
    "People like you and me overcame the Neanderthals. People like you and me overcame the Ice Age"

    "You can hold [the brain] in the palm of your hands - and it can contemplate the vastness of interstellar space"

    "Along some paths of cosmic discovery there are times when, at least for now, one must be content to love the questions themselves"

    The Symphony of Science; a tribute to the marvels of science and nature.


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