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
I find myself in an empty room
There's no one in it
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--
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.
`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.
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.
"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."
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;