(Original, sci-fi) Aquarius

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  1. #1
    Registered User Clare's Avatar
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    Default (Original, sci-fi) Aquarius

    This is a "Pokemon" fic I'm currently working on. I've got four chapters completed and posted on fanfiction.net and I'm hoping to start on Chapter Five soon - that will be posted first on Pojo's board. In any case, I thought you might like to read it so here it is. Just keep in mind that, unlike with "The Chimera Children", this is an ongoing fic.

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    Chapter One

    "Is it time to go yet?" Ryan demanded impatiently as he and the rest of his family sat in the waiting room at Olivine City's large ferry terminal. As nine-year-old boys often do, he rolled his eyes impatiently and began kicking his feet against the chair he was sitting on. It seemed they had been there for years, even though it couldn't have been more than a few hours, and he was starting to get bored and restless - he wanted to get up and explore, but his mother had told him to stay put as the boat that would take them where they were going was due at any time.

    "Stop that!" his sister snapped beside him, putting out her hand in a bid to restrain his legs. Candida Benson was fourteen years old, a willowy blonde in a pink t-shirt and denim cut-offs, a duffle bag slung over her shoulder. The latter contained three paperback novels and the Poke Ball that housed her Pokemon, a Togetic and a Lapras. She and the Water/Ice Pokemon had been together for as long as she could remember, since she was two in fact. Since the day her parents, who were marine biologists, had found a Lapras beached at Cherrygrove City . . .

    The Lapras was a female and an examination had revealed that she had been attempting to lay an egg but had got into difficulties. As a result, the egg had to be surgically removed before it burst inside her and caused even more damage than she had suffered already. Luckily, she recovered after several weeks spent in the convalescent pool at Cherrygrove's Pokemon Centre, but she had been unable to care for her egg herself so the Bensons had taken care of it for her. When it hatched, they had adopted the baby Lapras - officially as a family pet, but it soon became clear that she had formed a strong bond with their toddler daughter.

    Twelve years on, the Benson family - parents Jack and Lydia; their two children, Candida and Ryan and the respective Pokemon of each youngster - were about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime. They had been among sixty families chosen for one of the most ambitious projects ever attempted, living deep under the ocean in a specially designed city of watertight domes. Once installed, they would remain there for twelve months with no contact with the outside world aside from a weekly delivery of supplies from the mainland.

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    Ryan left off kicking the chair long enough to give his sister a long hard look. "I'm bored, Candy," he complained peevishly. "Can I let Elekid out for a while?" he asked, reaching into his pack and groping round for his one Poke Ball. But his mother quickly checked him before he could find what he was searching for.

    "No, Ryan!" Lydia Benson said firmly. "I've already told both of you there's to be no letting your Pokemon out until we reach Aquarius."

    Ryan scowled and muttered something under his breath as Lydia reached into her own bag and produced a dog-eared comic, one of those they'd bought in the convenience store back in Cherrygrove to keep Ryan occupied until the arrival of the boat that would take them out to Aquarius, the name of the undersea city. "Look," Lydia said in her oh-so-reasonable voice. "Why don't you read some of your comics for a while? It'll pass the time . . ."

    "Already done it," Ryan muttered. Spending a year in an underwater city had sounded like an adventure when his parents first told him about it and he had spent many hours fantasising about it, but he hadn't known then that it would involve waiting around for so long. "Mum, do we have to sit here?" he asked at length.

    "Yes we do. We'll be going in a very special boat that's been made especially for us and it should be along at any . . ."

    She was cut off abruptly as an announcement came over the tannoy system. "Your attention please! This is a call for all those selected for the Aquarius Underwater Living Project. Please make your way down to the harbour and prepare to board the Aquaship." On hearing these words, the entire Benson family exchanged glances, knowing that this was the moment they had been preparing for, the moment when they would begin their last few minutes on dry land for a year. Jack Benson quickly gathered up his bags and walked towards the exit with his wife and children following in his wake.

    The Bensons slowly made their way out towards Olivine Harbour, as always lined with ships of all shapes and sizes. Most looked fairly ordinary, basic sea-going vessels with names like Pride Of Olivine or Silver Staryu that served to ferry passengers across the sea, but there was one whose design stood out in stark contrast to all the rest. It was completely flat on top, with no sign of funnels and, if anything, looked more like a wheel-less bus that a boat. "that's it - over there," Jack said as he checked a picture of the strange-looking boat against the craft standing in the harbour. He pointed towards the craft in question and the family quickly headed towards it. As they got closer, they saw that a queue was already snaking its way round the harbour . . .

    "Not MORE queues!" Ryan muttered. He had spent most of that morning standing in line with the rest of the family, waiting around while Jack got the family's paperwork cleared with the people running Aquarius. And, if there was one thing Ryan Benson hated more than anything, it was standing in queues.

    "This shouldn't take too long," Lydia said consolingly as the family attached themselves to the end of the line. "It took so long at check-in because they had to check we were who we said we were - so no could get into Aquarius who wasn't supposed to be there . . .

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    Sure enough, it did not take long before the Bensons were safely seated in the craft and the door was sliding shut to seal the passengers inside. As a sign with the words "doors locked" pinged on above their heads, they knew there was now no going back. From here on, their immediate future lay beneath the ocean in Aquarius. Slowly, the craft began to move, at first travelling across the sea as if it was an ordinary boat, but it gradually dipped forward until the entire vessel was under the water.

    Shouts of excitement issued from the passengers as they beheld for the first time the wonders of the deep - watching nature shows on tv and even visiting aquariums could do little to prepared anyone for the sheer spectacle they were seeing now. It was as if they had entered an alien world, one filled with new places to explore and new things to discover.

    "Look!" shouted a voice just across from where Candida was sitting. "A whole colony of Octilleries!" The speaker was a dark-haired girl of around Candida's own age, who wore black trousers and a white top and had a Pikachu perched on her shoulder and spoke with an accent that suggested she had not originally come from Johto. She pointed out of the window towards several of the red octopus-like Pokemon and turned towards two people who could only be her parents.

    "There's a Corsola!" someone else called as one of the pretty Water/Rock Pokemon swam past the vessel taking the people selected for Aquarius to what would be their home for the next twelve months.

    "Look, Timmy," said the young woman sitting immediately behind the Bensons with her three-year-old son, the youngest family on board. "Look at those two Seadras." She pointed to the two Water Pokemon bobbing along on the current, looking for all the world like miniture dragons. In fact, that was what had earned the entire Horsea line the name Dragon Pokemon, even though Kingdra was the only member of that line to be classed as even a part-Dragon Type.

    "Cool! A Gyarados - I've never seen a wild one this close before!"

    "If half the things they say about wild Gyarados are true, I'm glad we're in this Aquaboat . . ."

    Candida gazed out of the window, staring awestruck at the exciting underwater world she and the other passengers had entered and would be calling home for the next year. At length, she turned to her mother. "Is this everyone?" she asked. "All the people who'll be in Aquarius?"

    "No, just the ones from Johto," Lydia replied, turning away from the window for a moment. "There are some from Kanto as well - I believe they're sailing from Vermilion."

    Candida looked down at her two Poke Balls, wondering if she should let Togetic out for a moment - Lapras was too large to be released in a confined space, besides which she needed to be in water. But, before she could decide, a shout from up at the front of the Aquaboat dragged her attention away from her Poke Balls and towards something looming in the distance . . .

    "There it is!" someone shouted. "That's Aquarius!"

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    Everyone in the Aquaboat crowded round to get a first look at the undersea city. This consisted of several dome-shaped modules built on the sea floor and connected to each other by glass tubes, giving the effect of a vast network. The whole thing was built around a giant central hub, which appeared to be the powerhouse of the operation, the place containing Aquarius' electricity generators and food storage areas. And, since the Aquaboat was heading straight towards it, it clearly also contained the city's docking facilities.

    Slowly, a door slid open to allow the Aquaboat passage into the interior of Aquarius. As it did so, a buzz of conversation broke out among the passengers as they speculated among themselves about what the next twelve months would be like. The idea of living at the bottom of the ocean was still a relatively new concept, one which had been tried before but never on this scale. With the contingents from Kanto and Johto combined, there would be something in the region of three- to four-hundred men, women and children living in Aquarius. And, needless to say, many of the passengers had brought at least one Pokemon along . . .

    As the Aquaboat slowed to a halt inside the docking bay and the doors slid shut behind it, two men in grey uniforms boarded the vessel, the latter carrying a clipboard and pen. "Good afternoon, everyone," he said in a curt voice. "I am Professor Wilson and I am the director of the Aquarius project. Shortly, you will be leaving this Aquaboat for your living quarters so please pay attention as my colleague calls your names and module numbers."

    The other man took the clipboard from Wilson and began to call out the names of the passengers in alphabetical order.

    "Allwood, Curtis and Allwood, Estella - Module 36."

    "Andrews, Ron; Andrews, Vickie; Andrews, Jason and Andrews, Lisa - Module 50."

    "Arrowsmith, Bill; Arrowsmith, Diane and Arrowsmith, David - Module 12."

    "Austin, Terence; Austin, Lorna; Austin, John; Austin; Mollie and Austin, Craig - Module 46"

    As he started on the B's, Candida and her family made sure to listen carefully until they heard him say: "Benson, Jack; Benson, Lydia; Benson, Candida and Benson, Ryan - Module 55." Hearing this, Jack Benson picked up his bags and beckoned to his wife and children.

    "That's us - let's go," he said as he led them down the aisle and out through the door at the front of the Aquaboat. As she stepped down, Candida clutched her Poke Balls and gazed round at her surroundings, mentally absorbing her first sight of the interior of Aquarius. The area they were in at present appeared to serve as the main entrance to the whole complex, consisting of plain creamy-white walls with corridors leading off into the heart of the undersea city. A digital clock directly overhead showed that the time was 1430 on May 19 2031.

    "Module 55?" muttered Jack as he studied the map Wilson had handed him.

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    Finally, the Bensons reached the dome-shaped structure that would be their home during their time in Aquarius. Lydia slid the keycard they had been given into the slot and they all trooped inside to inspect their new quarters. These consisted of an open-plan living and dining area with a kitchenette in the far corner - the latter came complete with a microwave oven and a fridge-freezer stocked in preparation for their arrival. The bedrooms were located round the edges of the module, a large master bedroom for Jack and Lydia and two smaller rooms for their children. Ryan promptly bagged the nearest of these and flung himself onto his bed, letting his Elekid out of his Poke Ball as he did so.

    "I hope you'll keep it tidier than your room at home," Candida remarked as she peered in with her Togetic perched on her shoulder. Then, she quickly withdrew and made her way to her own room; like most teenage girls, she had little time to sit talking to her younger brother, besides which she still had a lot of unpacking to do herself. There were CDs to be sorted and posters to be pinned up . . .

    It was while Candida was placing her favourite Jigglypuff doll - one she had had since she was seven and had become something of a mascot - on a shelf that she heard the intercom ringing. Switching on the computer on her desk, she saw the girl with the Pikachu standing in the glass tunnel that connected Modules 54 and 55. And, since it looked as though she and the girl would be seeing a lot of each other, she decided to introduce herself.

    "Hey!" she said, smiling.

    "Hey yourself!" replied the girl, her unusual accent somehow even more obvious than it had been on the Aquaboat. "How's it going?"

    "Fine - I'm just getting my room sorted . . . I'm Candida Benson, by the way."

    "Autumn Lane. Look, all the kids and their Pokemon are having a get together in the main Recreation Area - why don't you come along?"

    "Sure," Candida replied. "I'll be along shortly. Mum!" she called to Lydia, who was arranging her make-up on her dressing table. "Is it OK if I go with some of the other kids?"

    Of course," Lydia called back. "Just take the map with you until you know your way around."
    Last edited by Clare; 18th June 2005 at 05:21 AM.

  2. #2
    Formerly MagmaChar Crimson Flames's Avatar
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    Fantastic! Such a unique story, I've never read a Pokémon story quite like this one. I can't wait until the next chapter!

  3. #3
    Registered User Clare's Avatar
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    Chapter Two

    As Autumn and Candida made their way through the network of tubes that connected Aquarius together, they swapped life stories. The two girls were near the same age, Autumn being the elder by five months, and it was already clear that they were going to be close friends even though their hometowns were miles apart - Autumn and her family had lived in a town called Whitebeam City before coming to Aquarius - and it was unlikely they would have met under normal circumstances. They had Pokemon, Autumn's Pikachu and Candida's Lapras and Togetic, but the idea of going on Badge-collecting journeys had never occurred to either of them.

    "Actually, I've only lived in Johto for the last two years," Autumn was saying as she patted the Pikachu in her arms. "I was born in Petalburg City, see?" Candida nodded her understanding, recalling that Petalburg City was in Hoenn - which, she reasoned, would explain Autumn's accent. She had never left Johto in her life, apart from a weekend trip to Viridian City with her school, and certainly hadn't ventured as far afield as Hoenn . . .

    "What was it like?" she asked at length.

    "What was what like?"

    "Petalburg City," Candida replied. "Did you have many friends there? Was there a Pokemon Gym?"

    "It was . . ." Autumn paused for a second. "It was a great place to live - I had loads of friends there. But I had to leave them all when Dad got a new job in Johto - mind you, I've been keeping in touch, letting them know how things are going. As for Pokemon Gyms, the one at Petalburg uses Normal Types . . ."

    "Same as the Gym in Goldenrod," Candida observed as she and Autumn continued their trek through the undersea complex. By now, the two girls were in the communal area of Aquarius, the place where all the families chosen to live in the underwater city could meet and get to know each other. It was pretty much empty right now, presumably because most people were still getting settled, but a small crowd of teenagers had congregated in what seemed to be a recreation area . . .

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    One of the youngsters, a tall brown-haired boy in jeans and a basketball shirt, spotted Candida and Autumn and called them over. "Hey, you two!" he shouted. "Come join us!" Candida studied him closely; she didn't recall seeing him in the Aquaboat, so he had to be one of the Kanto contingent, one of those who had sailed to Aquarius from the port in Vermilion City.

    "Hey yourself!" she called back as she and Autumn made their way towards the group he was part of. This consisted of the boy who had hailed them; another, slightly younger, boy; two girls of around sixteen and a third boy who bore a strong resemblance to one of the girls. All five youngsters nodded towards the newcomers as they took up position in the group and the air was soon filled with introductions.

    "I'm Autumn from Whitebeam City," Autumn volunteered, patting her Pikachu as she spoke. "And this is Candida from . . ." She paused as she tried to recall where Candida had said she came from.

    "Cherrygrove City," Candida supplied. "And you lot are?"

    "I'm Kevin," said the boy who had called them over. "I train Dark Type Pokemon. I think they're real cool - wanna see?" Without waiting for a reply, he pulled out four Poke Balls and released the Pokemon housed within. With brief flashes of light, the forms of a Houndour, a Sneasel and a Murkrow materialised and gathered around their trainer. Kevin patted the Houndour and Sneasel on their heads and allowed the Murkrow to fly up onto his shoulder.

    "My name's Kelly," said one of the two girls, the one with red hair who wore a grey skirt and navy blue crop-top with the words Cool Chick emblazoned on it in silver thread. She was the one who resembled one of the boys, whom she now introduced as "my brother, Jeremy - he's a pain in the butt at times."

    "I know what you mean," Candida laughed, her mind straying to Ryan. "I've got a brother too."

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    "So, what Pokemon do you guys have?" Kevin asked at length, gazing round at his companions. His own Pokemon had settled around the table the youngsters were sitting around, the Houndour reclining at Kevin's feet while the Murkrow perched on the back of Kevin's chair and the Sneasel sat on the table. Like Pokemon trainers everywhere, the youngsters enjoyed nothing better than comparing Pokemon and that was what had prompted Kevin's question.

    "I've just got this Pikachu," Autumn replied as the small yellow Electric Type scampered off her shoulder and went to speak to Kevin's Sneasel. A brief pause followed as everyone listened to the two Pokemon going "pika pikachu" and "sneasel sneasel" and speculated about what they might be saying. There were few who had managed to interpret the mysteries of Pokemon speech, although many trainers did learn to understand their Pokemon's wishes and desires.

    Next, Kelly pulled out four Poke Balls and released a Skiploom, an Aipom, a Delibird and a Clefable, all of whom were female except for the Aipom. "This is Drifter," Kelly explained, indicating the Skiploom hovering in mid-air. "Skiplooms drift on the breeze, you see. And that's Cheeky - the Aipom; the Clefable is called Pinky . . ." She paused to extract Cheeky, who had tangled himself in her hair while she was speaking.

    "And the Delibird?" Candida asked.

    "Just Delibird - I couldn't think of a suitable nickname. Mind you, I don't think Delibird minds too much." As if to confirm Kelly's words, Delibird got to her feet and performed a little dance on the tabletop as Jeremy pulled out his one Poke Ball and prepared to release its contents.

    Before he could do so, Kelly grabbed his arm and forced it down. "Oh no, Jeremy!" she said sternly. "Not when I've got Drifter out . . ."

    Jeremy muttered something in which the others could just make out the words "bossy-boots", but he put his Poke Ball away all the same. "My Charmeleon," he told the others. "Trouble is it doesn't get along with Kelly's Skiploom so I can't let it out when Drifter's around."

    Next, the other girl - her name was Sandra - pulled out two Poke Balls and pressed the button on one of them to release a Wooper; The small Water/Ground Pokemon promptly hopped onto the table beside Autumn's Pikachu, Kelly's Delibird and Kevin's Sneasel as Sandra prepared to let out her other Pokemon. This proved to be one of the rarest of all non-Legendary Pokemon, a Dratini, a blue Dragon Pokemon that had once been classed as Legendary until an actual colony was found. "W - where did you get that?" asked Autumn, indicating the Dratini. Few trainers had even seen a Dratini, Dragonair or Dragonite, much less managed to catch one . . .

    "At the Dragon's Den," Sandra replied. "I live in Blackthorn City and they're famous for their Dragon Pokemon - they even have this festival every year where they choose a local girl to be the Dragon Queen . . ."

    At length, Kelly turned to Candida and the third boy to ask why neither of them had let out their Pokemon yet . . .

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    Candida flushed; she had been so wrapped up in admiring the Pokemon belonging to Kelly and the others that she had forgotten about her own Pokemon. She took out her Togetic's Poke Ball and prepared to activate it. "This is Togetic," she explained as the graceful Flying Pokemon emerged and perched herself on her trainer's shoulder. "I've got a Lapras as well, but that needs to be in water so I can't let it out here . . ." Candida examined Lapras' Poke Ball for a few seconds before slipping it back into her pocket.

    "No problem," said the third boy, who hadn't spoken until then. "You can let your Lapras out In the swimming pool. There's one just round the corner, well two really - one's for Water Pokemon."

    "How do you know that?" asked Autumn.

    "Because I train Water Pokemon, so the first thing I did when I got here was find out if there was somewhere they could exercise," the boy replied. He had short light-brown hair and wore blue jeans and a t-shirt in a darker shade of blue. Round his waist he wore what appeared to be a belt-purse with two round bulges in the money compartment; evidentally, this was where he kept his Poke Balls. Many trainers liked to have their Poke Balls somewhere they could be easily reached at short notice. "Sorry," he added as he realised he hadn't introduced himself, "my name's Marc - Marc Turner."

    "Well, let's get down to the pool," said Sandra. "I think Wooper and Dratini would like a swim too, wouldn't you?" She directed the last two words at her Pokemon, who nodded vigorously. "Then . . . return!" she commanded as she pointed the Poke Balls at Wooper and Dratini, who vanished into the Balls in a flash of light. The others - with the exception of Autumn, whose Pikachu didn't travel in a Poke Ball, and Marc and Jeremy, who hadn't let their Pokemon out at all - followed her lead and they headed in the direction Marc had indicated . . .

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    Marc led the others towards the swimming pool nearest the door. This was filled with just about every Water Pokemon imaginable, all of whom were splashing about under the watchful eyes of several humans who could only be their trainers. Among other Pokemon, there was a graceful Goldeen whose fins flowed behind her like a skirt, a Psyduck lazily swimming a backstroke, a Totodile showing off for the benefit of a nearby Quagsire, an Octillery propelling itself along on jets of water and even a Sharpedo. Candida gazed at the shark-like Pokemon; she had heard of Sharpedos from wildlife documentaries on tv, but this was the first time she had seen one in the flesh.

    "What are you waiting for, Candida?" Sandra demanded as she released her Wooper and Dratini. "Let out your Lapras!"

    Candida then remembered why they had come down to the pool and pulled out Lapras' Poke Ball. She held it out over the water and opened it, causing her Lapras to appear in a blaze of light as Marc summoned his own Pokemon nearby. These proved to be a Seadra and a Squirtle. The former promptly drew back her head and gave her trainer a playful squirt of water from the end of her snout.

    "Oh, Seadra!" Marc said with mock exasperation as his t-shirt was quickly soaked. "Seadra's always doing that," he explained to the others. "That's its way of showing affection."

    Candida knelt beside the pool and allowed her Lapras to swim right up to her so she could scratch the Water Pokemon under the chin the way she liked. Lapras closed her eyes and made a soft musical sound of the sort a contented Lapras makes. Then, as she had often done while exercising Lapras around Cherrygrove Bay, Candida grabbed one of the bony projections on Lapras' shell and hauled herself onto her back. She had ridden on Lapras many times, although Lydia had forbidden her from doing so unaccompanied until she had learned to swim reasonably well, and always found doing so extremely relaxing. There was something about just sitting back and letting your Pokemon take you across any stretch of water . . .

    "You and that Lapras seem real close," Kelly observed as Candida steered Lapras to the water's edge for a moment. "You had it long?"

    "Since I was two," Candida answered, before explaining about how her parents had helped a mother Lapras who was egg-bound and reared the baby themselves while her mother was recovering. "My earliest memory is of riding it with my mum - I must have been about five or six then."

    She climbed off Lapras and walked over to the others - Autumn, Jeremy, Kelly, Marc, Sandra and Kevin, kids she had only recently met but who already felt like old friends. Clearly, life in Aquarius wasn't going to be too bad; at least there would be plenty of other Pokemon trainers for her to hone Togetic's and Lapras' battle techniques against . . .

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    At first, life in the underwater city passed by uneventfully - unless you counted the day an inquisitive Igglybuff belonging to one of the younger children in the complex wandered into the room that housed the generators which converted the energy from the waves into electricity and got locked in. But all that changed the day Marc and Kevin, who had become close friends during the last few weeks, decided that it might be fun to take a look "behind the scenes". What this meant was going into those areas that Wilson and the other Aquarius staff had placed strictly off-limits to unauthorised personnel.

    It was Kevin, who already had a reputation for being a rebel, who came up with the idea while the teenaged population of Aquarius were having Pokemon battles one afternoon. He had just been defeated by a boy who trained Fire Pokemon and used his Quilava, Magmar and Combusken to devastating effect and was sitting at a table with Marc - who was waiting for his turn - sipping Cokes and watching out of the corner of his eye as Autumn's Pikachu battled another girl's Delcatty. The beautiful cat-like Pokemon with cream fur and purple ears looked somewhat like an Eevee evolution, but the Pokedex stated that it had no relationship to Eevee and its evolved forms and instead evolved from a tiny red and cream Pokemon called Skitty . . .

    "Hey, Marc," Kevin said after a while. "I've just had an idea! You know those areas we're not allowed in? The ones with NO ENTRY signs plastered all over the doors?"

    "Well, what about them?" asked Marc, who had his Squirtle's Poke Ball out ready for when his name was called. Seadra would not be much use here since the battle wasn't taking place around the pool, so her Poke Ball was stashed in Marc's belt-purse.

    Kevin grinned mischieviously and leaned across the table to whisper in his friend's ear. "Well I've been thinking we should take a look inside, see what goes on behind the scenes at this place . . ."

    "Are you serious?!" Marc demanded. "We could get in trouble for doing . . ."

    He was cut off by an announcement over the speakers set up around the arena; while he and Kevin had been talking, the battle had been decided when Autumn's Pikachu used a Thunderbolt Attack on the Delcatty. "And that's victory to Autumn and her Pikachu!" announced the man who had been appointed as referee as the Delcatty's trainer recalled her Pokemon. "Next up we have Kelly O'Hare and Candida Benson!"

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    "Er . . . great battle, Autumn," Kevin stammered as Autumn and her Pikachu sat down beside him and Marc. He hoped she wouldn't realise the two boys had not been watching the battle at all. "Listen," he went on, "there's something I'd like to discuss . . ."

    But Autumn cut him short. "Can't it wait until after Candida and Kelly have had their battle?" she asked as the two girls entered the arena and stood facing each other. There was no question that Candida would use her Togetic since Lapras could only battle in water, but which of Kelly's Pokemon would be chosen to oppose her?

    The answer came when Kelly picked out a Poke Ball and sent it spinning through the air with a shout of "Go, Delibird!" A brief flash of light followed and Kelly's Delibird stood in the arena looking prepped for battle.

    Candida had Togetic's Poke Ball ready in an instant. "Togetic, I choose you!" she called as she threw the Ball and it burst open with a flash of light that faded to reveal a Togetic hovering in mid-air. Then, she nodded to Kelly from across the arena to give the other girl permission to make the opening move.

    Kelly did not need telling twice - when it came to Pokemon battles, it often helped to be able to strike first. "OK, Delibird," she said, "let's kick off with a Swift Attack!" In response, Delibird clapped her wings together and a volley of golden stars appeared as if from nowhere and began shooting directly towards Candida's Togetic.

    Candida thought fast, trying to decide on the best strategy for fighting a Delibird with a Togetic. She had never battled against one of the quirky-looking Ice/Flying Pokemon before so all she had to go on was theory. Swift, she recalled, was a deadly accurate Attack and could hit Pokemon even if they tried to take evasive action . . .

    "Togetic, let's play 'em at their own game!" she told her Pokemon. "Use your Swift Attack!"

    Now stars were flying from Togetic as well and colliding with those Delibird had already released. The two Pokemon were fairly evenly matched in terms of battle experience, but Togetic had the advantage of being a Normal/Flying Pokemon using a Normal Type Attack and attack power tended to be greater if the Pokemon was the same Type as the move it used. Consequently, it did not take long for Togetic's barrage of stars to start pushing Delibird's back . . .

    "Don't give up, Delibird!" Kelly urged when she saw her Pokemon was in trouble. "Try your Icy Wind!"

    The temperature of the air suddenly seemed to drop and Candida felt herself shivering as a gust of cold wind blew from Delibird to Togetic. She had to think fast - Flying Type Pokemon like Togetic had a weakness against Ice Type moves so she had to do something to make sure Togetic wouldn't take too much damage. "Togetic, Protect!" she ordered as Togetic struggled to stay airborne in the face of the onslaught from Delibird.

    Togetic's body glowed and an invisible barrier formed around her, shielding her from Delibird's Attack. But Kelly wasn't about to give up and quickly called on Delibird to switch strategies and use Fly. In response, Delibird flew up to the ceiling with every neck in the room craned to watch as Togetic followed hot on her heels. Both Pokemon collided in mid-air but shook themselves and resumed battling.

    As Delibird and Togetic circled each other, an idea occurred to Candida. It was a risky move, one that could cost her the match if it failed, but it might also be what finally decided things. "Togetic, try your Metronome!" she called, noticing that Delibird seemed to be bracing herself for another Swift Attack. No-one knew quite how Metronome worked, only that it allowed any Pokemon who could use it to use any known Pokemon Attack regardless of whether or not it could actually learn that move. The only drawback was that the trainer had no control over which Attack was used . . .

    Togetic waved her tiny arms and everyone waited to see what would happen next. As it turned out, they didn't have long to wait before Togetic opened her mouth and a hot stream of fire blasted towards Delibird, striking her full on the flank before Kelly had chance to tell her to counter-attack or at least dodge out of the way. It was all over. As Delibird plummetted to the ground, Kelly quickly readied her Poke Ball.

    "Delibird, return!" she ordered, drawing the Ice/Flying Pokemon into the Ball as the referee announced the result.

    "And Togetic Metronomes a Flamethrower to knock Delibird out of the air. Victory to Togetic's trainer, Candida Benson!"

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

    At the table she, Marc and Kevin were sitting around, Autumn patted her Pikachu and turned to the two boys. "So what was it you wanted to talk about?" she asked.

  4. #4
    Registered User hydromorph's Avatar
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    Default Suspensiveful...

    Now showing in a fanfic near you, THE reality show to see this summer. Survivor: Aquarius. Well, actually the name reminds me of the WotC expansion Aquapolis, but that's besides the point.

    Very well written work, I remember it from pojo's boards, but i don't think i read too much of it then. I'm almost glad because I get suspense, but I'm pissed cuz now I don't know what happens. You time the ending of each chapter very well, a good quality to hook on readers for the next chapter.

    Only problem I had is the characters were introduced a lil fast for my primative brain. It's not your fault though, since I guess with the format of the story, it was unavoidable, plus you described them very well to the point I can even vaguely describe them if I don't remember their names.

    Top notch, can't wait for the next one. I just hope Delibird doesn't get voted off...
    Bands that kick ass!: Adema, Linkin Park, Staind, Mudvayne, Godsmack, Korn, Hoobastank, and alot more i'm too lazy to think of...

  5. #5
    Registered User Clare's Avatar
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    Chapter Three

    "So let me get this straight, you want to go snooping round areas that are out of bounds to us?"

    This question came from Autumn, who sat with her Pikachu in her lap gazing at Kevin and Marc as if they had just suggested trying to rob a bank. Candida, Kelly and Jeremy stood nearby - Sandra was currently in the arena pitting her Wooper against a boy's Teddiursa - and all of them appeared to be wondering the same thing. What could Kevin and Marc hope to gain by pulling such a stunt?

    "Well, at least it'll give us a look at what goes on around this place," Kevin said, gesturing at the vast window nearby. This provided a panoramic view of the underwater world and the various Water Pokemon that ranged the deep - right now, a large shoal of Goldeen led by a Seaking was swimming past. "Think about it," he went on. "Have they told us anything about why we're here?"

    "To find out if people can live under the ocean?" supplied Candida, who failed to see what Kevin was getting at and had accepted the fact that certain area of Aquarius were out of bounds as a matter of course.

    "True," Kevin acknowledged. "But, I've been checking the maps we were issued when we got here - and around 50% of this place is marked in red, meaning it's off limits to us. So why would anyone go to the trouble of building this place and then place half of it out of bounds?" He paused and fingered his Poke Balls as the others looked askance at him, each of them clearly wondering where all this was leading.

    "Unless Wilson and the other staff are plotting something," he went on, ignoring Autumn as she rolled her eyes and muttered "Boys!" under her breath. "Maybe they've got a secret machine room somewhere around here and . . ."

    "It houses some device they plan to use to take over the world," filled in Jeremy.

    "You watch too many spy movies, Jeremy O'Hare," Kelly said with a sigh. Her brother's fondness - nay, obsession - with action thrillers had often caused friction between the two siblings and they had had countless disagreements over the issue. Kelly considered such movies to be far-fetched, all special effects and no plot, and the last thing she wanted was to pander to Jeremy's fantasies. And, if Kevin was going to start encouraging him, she was going to leave Aquarius early and return to dry land to stay with relatives. There was no way she would put up with . . .

    Her thoughts were distracted by what was going on in the arena. The boy's Teddiursa had just felled Sandra's Wooper with a Dynamic Punch and the two trainers were preparing to send out their next Pokemon. Sandra, of course, sent out her Dratini since she was her only Pokemon apart from Wooper and her opponent opened his next Poke Ball to reveal a Piloswine, a shaggy pig-like Pokemon with tusks only inches off the ground. Dratini slithered across the floor, ready to face her opponent . . .

    "Who do you fancy this round?" Autumn asked the others, grateful to have an excuse to divert the subject in another direction.

    Kelly frowned, trying to recall what she knew of Piloswine and Dratini and their respective Attacks. "A Piloswine is Ground/Ice - so it can have an advantage in battle against a Dragon Type," she observed. "On the other hand, Dragon Attacks can do some serious damage . . ."

    Candida knew what she meant. Once, during a battle at Cherrygrove Bay, her Lapras had been hit full on the flank with a Kingdra's Twister - the Water/Dragon Pokemon had exhaled a small tornado out of its snout and blasted Lapras out of the water, depositing her on the beach. She had been out of action for a week afterwards and Candida had since made a point of teaching both her Pokemon how to block various Attacks . . .

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

    Eventually, the battle ended with Sandra calling on Dratini to use Dragon Rage at exactly the same instant the Piloswine's trainer called for a Hyperbeam. Every neck in the room craned to watch as the two Pokemon launched into the powerful Attacks. Dratini opened her mouth to send a hot blast of breath in the Piloswine's direction, but he moved a fraction of a second faster and a powerful blast of energy sent Dratini careering across the floor to land at Sandra's feet. She looked down at her Pokemon with a concerned expression on her face.

    "Dratini, are you OK? Can you get up?" she asked.

    "Tini," Dratini said as she forced herself upright and turned to face her opponent. Piloswine, meanwhile, was breathing heavily, exhausted by the physical effort involved in firing his Hyperbeam - if that move had one disadvantage, it was that it often left any Pokemon who used it too tired to launch a follow-up Attack immediately afterwards . . .

    "Quick, before Piloswine gets its breath back!" Sandra ordered. "Use your Toxic!"

    In response, Dratini again opened her mouth and proceeded to spray Piloswine with a poisonous purple goo; unable to move aside in time, the pig-like Pokemon took the attack full in the face and was momentarily blinded. His trainer, knowing there was no way to win now - even if he called for time-out to wipe Piloswine's eyes, the effects of the poison wouldn't go away without treatment at Aquarius' Pokemon Centre or at least a dose of Antidote - did the only thing he could. He pulled out a Poke Ball and recalled Piloswine.

    "Piloswine is in no condition to fight!" the referee called from the sidelines. "Dratini is the winner!"

    Sandra ran to Dratini and hugged the blue Dragon Pokemon round the neck. "You did it, Dratini!" she exclaimed happily. "And against a part-Ice Type as well!" She pulled out Dratini's Poke Ball and pressed the button to activate. "You've done me proud," she said as Dratini disappeared into the Ball's core.

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

    Over the next two days, Kevin, Jeremy and Marc talked of little other than what was in the areas of Aquarius that had been placed out of bounds. All three boys were totally convinced there was something untoward going on and no amount of arguing from the girls could convince them otherwise. Finally, Kelly could stand it no longer . . .

    "Look, Jeremy!" she snapped one evening after he brought the subject up once too often. "There's nothing odd going on around here and, if you still don't believe me, I dare you to go snooping round and see what happens when they catch you breaking bounds!"

    Jeremy looked his sister full in the face, scarcely able to believe what he was hearing; usually Kelly tried to order him about at every opportunity. "Cool!" he said, not noticing - or pretending not to notice - the sarcastic tone in her voice. "I'll go get Marc and Kevin - after all, it was their idea in the first place!" With that, he grabbed his Charmeleon's Poke Ball from his bedside locker and dashed out of his family's module without bothering to close the door behind him.

    "Jeremy!" Kelly called as she dashed into the glass corridor after him. "Wait! I didn't mean . . ." But Jeremy had already disappeared round the corner and was out of earshot. Kelly sighed and rested her back against the transparent wall, folding her arms as she thought ruefully about how tiresome Jeremy could be. He could be extremely stubborn when it suited him, responding to attempts at reasoning with him by stuffing his fingers in his ears and singing loudly or, worse, doing what he wanted to anyway . . .

    Kelly knew immediately what she had to do - find Autumn, Sandra and Candida and get them to help her find the boys before they got themselves into trouble by snooping around. Why, she asked herself, did boys have to let their imaginations run away with them all the time? What was it about being male that made them refuse point blank to listen to reason? She didn't know, but what she did know was that she had to try and keep Jeremy, Marc and Kevin out of trouble . . .

    Since Sandra's family lived in the module nearest to her own, she elected to go there first and ask her to fetch Autumn and Candida with her. As she approached the front door of the Pitt family's module and rang the intercom, she hoped she and the other girls would be able to find the boys and convince them there was nothing going on.

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

    Sandra emerged from her module wearing a pink bathrobe and towelling her collar-length strawberry blonde hair. "Kelly?" she asked, draping the towel over her arm and looking at her friend out of puzzled grey eyes. "What's going on? I was just in the shower . . ."

    "Get yourself dressed and come on," Kelly ordered, an urgent tone in her voice. "We've got to get over to Autumn's and Candida's as soon as we can - I'll explain on the way over."

    Sandra rolled her eyes impatiently, guessing what was coming next; she had heard about Kevin's plan to break bounds and, like Autumn, Kelly and Candida, did not think it was a good idea. "It's those boys, isn't it?" she sighed as Kelly nodded reluctantly. With that, she turned to go inside, only for Kelly to grab her arm and hold her back.

    "No, hear me out - I need the three of you to come with me and try to make them see sense."

    "I suppose you're right," Sandra said, although she wished fervently that Kevin, Marc and Jeremy hadn't decided to be so nosy. In her experience, no good ever came out of breaking bounds - once, a group of students at her school had been caught loitering in the boiler room and wound up getting detention for a week. She did not know what would happen if the three boys were caught, but some instinct told her they would be in serious trouble. They had to be convinced the staff at Aquarius had nothing to hide, but first . . .

    "Wait there while I get dressed," she told Kelly as she disappeared into the module.

    Five minutes later, Sandra emerged wearing a red mini-skirt and black t-shirt and clasping the bag she used to carry her Poke Balls in her hand. She looked at Kelly and nodded decisively. "Let's go get Candida and Autumn and find the boys," she said.

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

    It did not take long to find Candida and Autumn - they were both in the Bensons' module playing card games on the computer in Candida's room. When they heard that the boys had done what they had been threatening to do and gone snooping round private areas of Aquarius, they reacted much as Sandra had done with a mixture of concern and annoyance. "Why do boys never listen to reason?" Candida asked as she and the others headed in the direction Marc, Kevin and Jeremy were most likely to have taken. This was a long winding corridor that led deep into the bowels of the undersea city, to the real powerhouse of the operation.

    "Why don't you tell me," Kelly replied as the four of them rounded a corner, their movements tracked by the closed-circuit camera on the wall. But they paid it no heed; the need to find the boys and get them out of trouble was uppermost in all their minds and they would worry about what the staff might have to say later. Even though Jeremy annoyed her like hell at times, he was still her brother and there was no way she was going to let him do something as foolish as what he and the other two boys were doing now . . .

    Eventually, they saw the boys at the far end of the corridor, outside a grey door which had the words NO UNAUTHORISED PERSONNEL BEYOND THIS POINT painted on the front in vivid red. And, just in case that wasn't enough to get the message across, the door was security locked with a keypad on the wall beside it for those who did have a right to be there to enter their PIN numbers and swipe their cards.

    Needless to say, neither Kevin, Jeremy nor Marc had such authorisation, but they were not about to let that stop them - not when they were so close to uncovering what was going on. They had tried entering various combinations of numbers, only for the words "insert card" to be flashed each time, and knew time was running out fast. They had to get through that door before someone came along and caught them.

    "Any ideas?" asked Marc as he leaned against the wall and exchanged glances with Kevin and Jeremy.

    Jeremy nodded and smiled to himself as a plan occurred to him and he pulled out his Charmeleon's Poke Ball. "We'll have to blast that door down," he told the others, pressing the button on the front of the Ball as he spoke. "Charmeleon, I choose you!" he added as his Charmeleon emerged in a flash of light. "Use your Flamethrower on that lock!"

    "Meleon!" Charmeleon snarled as he opened his mouth and sent a jet of flame in the direction of the keypad, which slowly began to melt in the heat as the three boys stood back out of range of Charmeleon's flames. Even then, it became hot enough to cause them to sweat and Marc eventually had to take his t-shirt off and drape it over his arm. If there was one problem with using Fire Pokemon in confined spaces, it had to be the heat their Fire Attacks generated . . .

    All the while, Kevin kept his hand on his Houndour's Poke Ball, ready to call on the Dark/Fire Pokemon if Jeremy's Charmeleon showed any sign of tiring. But it turned out that wasn't necessary as the keypad finally melted and the door sprang open. Without realising it, Jeremy had been exploiting the one weakness in the undersea city's security system - all the doors with keypads had been designed so they would open automatically should the keypad fail for any reason. The desingers of the system - widely used in banks - had been thinking along the lines of electronic failure or, possibly, an errant Porygon, and hadn't considered the possibility of a Fire Pokemon melting the keypads.

    Nonetheless, Jeremy wasn't about to question their good luck. He recalled Chameleon and turned to Kevin and Marc. "Let's get in there before . . ." he began, only to find himself cut off in mid-sentence.

    "Someone spots you?" Kelly asked archly as she appeared on the scene, followed closely by Sandra, Candida and Autumn. The latter's Pikachu was perched on his trainer's shoulder and the other three girls all had their Poke Balls with them.

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

    "Oh . . . Kelly," Jeremy said, trying his best to look innocent as his sister strode over to the three would-be trespassers. "This . . . this isn't what it looks like, honest."

    "It looks like three immature boys who couldn't mind their own business," Kelly said, folding her arms and giving the boys a penetrating stare. "Look, if I've said it once, I've said it a million times - there is NOTHING odd going on here. And just you wait till Mum and Dad hear about this. When they find out you've sabotaged a security system . . ."

    She was cut off abruptly by the sound of footsteps pounding down the corridor and voices that sounded distorted as if the speakers were talking into communication devices. It was impossible to hear what was being siad clearly, but the youngsters managed to catch enough to know that the speakers were Aquarius staff and were heading in their direction. And, since the corridor they were in was so long, there was no way they could get clear of it before they were caught.

    Kevin ducked through the door. "In here - it's our only chance!" he told the others as Marc and Jeremy followed him and the girls hung back. "Look," Kevin said when he saw their hesitation, their reluctance to follow his lead, "those staff members will be here any second so, if you'd rather get caught . . ."

    Hearing this, Kelly knew she and the other three girls had no choice in the matter - pandering to the boys' fantasies seemed to be the lesser of two evils right now. She sighed and, as the oldest of the girls, gave her decision. "All right, but on one condition," she said in a firm tone, her eyes fixed on Jeremy as she spoke. "If we don't find anything odd, will the three of you give it a rest?"

    "Just get in here!" Marc said impatiently as the footsteps pounding along the corridor grew louder and louder . . .

  6. #6
    Registered User Clare's Avatar
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    NOTE: I am working on the fifth chapter and I'll do my best to have it ready for posting soon.

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


    Chapter Four

    There was no choice but to do as Marc said and enter the room he, Jeremy and Kevin had just broken into; the security alarm was blaring and several staff members - alerted by the noise - were hurrying to see what was wrong. Fortunately for the seven young would-be spies, the room happened to be lined with packing crates conveniently large enough for all of them to hide behind. So that was what they did, dropping to the floor behind one of these crates seconds before two Aquarius staff came in accompanied by a Growlithe and a Mightyena.

    "Who's in here?" demanded one of the men as he had the Mightyena sniff round and his companion told the Growlithe to do likewise. "I know there's someone in hee who shouldn't be - that keypad didn't melt itself. So come out before I get the whole staff to look for you!"

    Crouching behind the crate, Kelly shot Jeremy a look of fury when she heard those words - it was all because of his crazy idea that there was something untoward going on that they were in this mess. Why, she asked herself for the umpteenth time, had he refused to take any notice when she and the other three girls tried to reason with him? What was it that made him think everything was one long spy movie?

    "I hope you're happy now!" she hissed at her brother. "I told you this would happen if you went snooping around."

    "Yeah, well no-one forced you to come after us," Jeremy shot back, gesturing round at Kevin and Marc. "So why don't you go back to your modules and play with your Poke dolls like good little girls? If you can get past the big bad staff of course . . ."

    The only response this got him was a frosty glare, one that would have frozen even the strongest Fire Pokemon, from all four girls and an angry "pika pika" from Autumn's Pikachu. The small Pokemon had barely caught the drift of what Jeremy had said, but instinct told him that it had been something very patronising. So, perched on his trainer's shoulder, he flattened his ears against his head and stiffened his zigzag tail.

    "Oh, put a sock in it!" Kelly shot back. "We went after you because we wanted to keep you out of trouble and . . ."

    She was cut off abruptly as Pikachu, tiring of all the arguing and deciding he would rather go and explore their surroundings, leapt off Autumn's shoulder and scampered across the floor before any of them could stop him. This was a very worrying development - if the Pikachu was seen, he could unwittingly betray their presence. And the man with the Mightyena was drawing worryingly close to their hiding place . . .

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

    Diversionary tactics were called for and it was Kelly who came up with the plan they would use. It was risky - one wrong move could land them all in trouble - but there was no alternative except letting Autumn's Pikachu be caught and, possibly, themselves as well.

    "OK, here's what we'll do," she whispered as she readied the Poke Ball containing her Skiploom, Drifter. "When that Mightyena gets close enough, I'll have Drifter use Stun Spore to paralyse it for a while - then, while its handler is busy, Autumn, you go grab your Pikachu. And, just in case the Growlithe shows up, one of you others had better have a Pokemon on standby . . ."

    "What about my Squirtle?" suggested Marc. "It should be able to handle a Fire Type."

    Tension pervaded all around as the seven youngsters braced themselves to launch into the plan they hoped desperately would get rid of the Aquarius staff long enough to allow them to get out of the forbidden area before they were caught. Autumn could see her Pikachu capering merrily across some crates as if he was on the jungle gym she had set up for him back in Whitebeam City and longed to rush out and grab him. But she knew it was safer to wait until the men had gone and forced herself to sit tight between Sandra and Candida, both of whom were clutching their Poke Balls even though they hoped their Pokemon wouldn't be needed.

    Suddenly, the Mightyena gave a yelp and sat down on the floor - directly below the crate which Autumn's Pikachu was now dancing on top of. This also happened to be the crate the youngsters were hiding behind and they could clearly hear what the Pokemon's handler said next.

    "What is it, boy? Have you found the intruders?"

    Kelly tensed - it was now or never. She had to release Drifter without being seen and get the Skiploom to use her Stun Spore on the Mightyena. She also had to make sure neither she nor any of her friends accidentally inhaled any of Drifter's pollen while she was carrying out the move; it was rare for trainers to become paralysed from the effects of Stun Spore, but it had been known to happen, usually when a Pokemon used the move in a confined space such as this. Candida already had her hands clamped over her mouth and nose - she had once been knocked out when a Butterfree used Sleep Powder on Togetic and she accidentally inhaled some of it while trying to recall her Pokemon and did not want to repeat the experience. The others followed her lead as Kelly pressed the button on the front of Drifter's Poke Ball . . .

    "Drifter, we need a Stun Spore to knock out that Mightyena ASAP," Kelly whispered as the Grass/Flying Pokemon with a yellow flower on her head emerged and hovered a few feet in the air.

    "Skiploom!" Drifter replied as she floated up and slowly tilted her head in the direction of the Mightyena. Before the wolf-like Pokemon had chance to react, the Skiploom's body contracted and a quantity of golden powder shot out of the centre of her flower and drifted downwards . . .

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

    As soon as the two men had gone, taking the paralysed Mightyena to the Pokemon Centre that had been set up in Aquarius complete with the obligatory Nurse Joy and a staff of Chanseys, the youngsters crept from behind the crate and went to retrieve Autumn's Pikachu. But the small yellow Pokemon moved a fraction of a second faster, darting across the crate and through a nearby ventilation shaft before they could get near enough to stop him.

    "Pikachu! Get back here!" Autumn ordered as she saw his tail disappear into the shaft. They were really stuck now - there was no way she would leave without Pikachu, but would the shaft be able to accomodate seven teenagers? Kevin craned his neck to inspect the opening before making his decision.

    "Someone will have to go in there," he told the others as he inspected each of them in turn. "I think Marc, Candida and Jeremy would be best - and Autumn too, of course, since it's her Pokemon in there. The rest of us will try and get back to our modules before anyone realises we're here."

    "What's the betting they already know after Drifter paralysed that Mightyena," Kelly remarked with a sidelong glance at her brother. It was his crazy ideas that had led to this and she wanted no further part in it.

    "Hopefully, they won't realise you were in here as well," Kevin said as he gave her a nudge forward. "Remember that Igglybuff that got into the engine room?" At seventeen, he was the eldest of the three boys - Jeremy was fourteen, the same age as Autumn and Candida, and Marc was thirteen - and, as a result, was slightly more mature than either Marc or Jeremy. "That just wandered away from its trainer, so there's a chance they'll think the same thing happened again."

    Kelly and Sandra still had misgivings - they would much rather have gone into the vent where they might at least be able to keep Marc and Jeremy out of trouble - but had to agree that it was best if some of the group removed themselves from the scene. The vent would be cramped enough with just four humans and a Pikachu in there, but seven humans would only make matters worse. "You're probably right," Kelly conceded as she raised Drifter's Poke Ball to recall the Skiploom, who was still hovering around at head height. "Come on back, Drifter," she added as Drifter disappeared into the ball's core . . .

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

    The vent was covered by a fine mesh grill and, while one corner had become slightly detached to allow a small Pokemon like a Pikachu to slip inside, there was no way a human could get through. Luckily, Kevin always carried a set of basic tools round with him (he said one never knew what would be needed on a Pokemon journey) and, with Marc standing on his shoulders and wielding a screw-driver, it took only a few seconds to remove the grill. Even so, they had to work quietly, lest the cover fall to the floor and the noise alert someone.

    Finally, after what felt like hours, the last screw came undone and Marc was able to life the grill aside and peer into the vent. "It'll be a little cramped," he informed the others. "And we'll have to move in single file."

    "How much light is there?" asked Candida, craning her neck to look up at the opening through which she, Autumn, Jeremy and Marc must shortly enter. Small dark spaces had never been her thing - not since the time, at the age of five, when she accidentally got shut in her parents' wardrobe while playing a dressing-up game. Fortunately, she was quickly rescued, but, ever since that day, the very thought of entering a confined dark space was enough to start her shaking uncontrollably . . .

    "I . . . don't know," Marc replied. "It looks quite dark, but a Pokemon with Flash should be able to fix that." Then, since neither Squirtle nor Seadra could learn Flash (and the latter couldn't move very well on land anyway), he turned to the others and asked if any of their Pokemon could use that move.

    "My Pikachu can . . ." Autumn said before tailing off as she realised her Pikachu was the reason they had to go into this vent in the first place. "But it won't do us much good if it's in there . . ." She gestured towards the opening. " . . . and we're out here."

    "Well, hurry up and think of something before we get caught!" snapped Jeremy. He too would have liked to help, but his Charmeleon wasn't compatible with Flash either - which left only Candida who could possibly help them. He turned to her quickly. "Candida, do either of your Pokemon know Flash?" he asked her.

    Candida nodded and reached for her Poke Balls before pulling out the one that housed Togetic. "Here," she said as she handed the Ball to Marc. "It'll have to be Togetic - Lapras can't learn Flash and it needs to be in water . . . plus, it's too big anyway."

    Wasting no time, Marc pointed the Poke Ball in the direction of the opening and prepared to release Candida's Togetic. He wasn't sure if this would work, how the Togetic in the Ball would take to being summoned by someone other than her rightful trainer. Pokemon could be fiercely loyal to their trainers and might refuse to listen if anyone else tried to command them to do anything. But all he could do right now was call on Togetic and hope for the best . . .

    Togetic emerged in the customary burst of light and looked around bewildered when she saw that it had been Marc and not Candida who summoned her. Candida, seeing her Pokemon's confusion, spoke to her reassuringly. "I'm right here, Togetic," she said, "and I need you to use your Flash to light up that ventilation shaft . . ."

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

    Togetic's small body flashed once before starting to glow steadily, enabling the four teenagers to see where they were going as they entered the shaft on their hands and knees. The Normal/Flying Pokemon took the lead, darting through the shaft since the space was too confined for her to fly, while Candida crawled immediately behind her. Next came Marc, closely followed by Autumn who was praying fervently that they would find her Pikachu safe and they would manage to get back to their modules without being caught. Jeremy brought up the rear.

    "I hope Pikachu hasn't gone too far," Autumn commented as she crawled stolidly along. She adored the Electric Pokemon, having raised him from a Pichu she found in Petalburg City and adopted as a pet, and did not want to see anything bad happen to him.

    "Well, I just hope we don't get caught," Jeremy said behind her. On hearing his voice, Autumn briefly forgot about her Pikachu and whipped round, fully prepared to give him what for - if he and the other boys hadn't wanted to be nosy . . .

    "If we get caught, it'll be your fault!" she snapped. "You boys were the ones who wanted to go snooping around!"

    "Still . . ." Jeremy paused for a moment. "No-one forced you girls to come after us and besides . . ."

    He was cut off abruptly as a small yellow object hurtled towards them - Autumn's Pikachu had heard his trainer's voice and promptly made a beeline for her. "Pika pikapi!" he called happily as he leapt into her arms, relieved to have found her after spending several minutes lost in the ventilation shaft. He had tried to light his way with a Flash, but that was starting to wear out by now and he was glad to be back with those he trusted.

    "Pikachu!" Autumn exclaimed as she hugged her Pokemon. "Are you all right?" By the light of Togetic's Flash, she examined him closely and was relieved to see there weren't any serious injuries. She turned to the others.

    "I guess we'd better be getting back - providing we can find our way," she informed them. The others agreed and were just about to turn and head back the way they had come when voices issued from the room below, prompting the four youngsters to press their ears against the metal floor of the shaft in order to listen properly.

    "Is all going according to plan?" asked a male voice.

    "Everything is." The speaker was another male and his voice carried the confident tone of someone very sure of himself. "Wilson doesn't suspect a thing - he still thinks this is an underwater living project. Just wait until Team Midnight make their presence in Aquarius known . . ."

  7. #7
    Live life to the MAX! Obscura_Max's Avatar
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    Well I finally finished reading what you've posted so far, with all the distractions and such it takes me a while. I like it so far but in a few places it almost seems as you're stalling for time and length, saying the obvious. Its not a bad thing, its just a bad thing to have too much of, and I think you go a little over the limit.

    However its a pretty interesting plot which with a little better execution could make it a great story of equal calliber to the best fics in this forumn.
    ~Evil Fly~
    Conquering the world,
    One insect at a time.

    ~PissAnt the Conqueror~
    Hording homes, yards and foods,
    One residence at a time.

  8. #8
    Registered User Clare's Avatar
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    Chapter Five

    A shocked mutter swept through the four youngsters hiding in the vent as they heard the men talking. Team Midnight, they knew from tv news reports, were a notorious criminal gang said to be even worse than the Team Rocket which had plagued Johto and Kanto in the late twentieth century. So-called because they tended to operate under cover of darkness, Team Midnight members wore black t-shirts and combat pants that enabled them to blend into the dark alleys of various cities. But what were they doing here in Aquarius? What on Earth could they want with an undersea city?

    Marc and Jeremy shot the girls a look that clearly said "told you there was something going on", an expression which Autumn and Candida chose to ignore. But there still remained the problem of how to get out of the vent without being seen and, assuming they could manage that, they would then have to live with the knowledge that Team Midnight was abroad in Aquarius and may be planning some fiendish scheme. "We'll have to let Wilson . . ." Marc started to say, but Autumn cut him short.

    "We're not supposed to be in this area," she reminded him. "And, if anyone finds out . . ."

    " . . . we'll be in trouble," added Candida, who did not like the idea of having Team Midnight around any more than the others did. But she also knew that, as things currently stood, they had little chance of exposing Team Midnight without anyone finding out they had broken bounds - or rather, the boys had broken bounds and the girls had gone to stop them before they landed themselves in trouble. Now, thanks to the curiousity of Autumn's Pikachu, they were stuck in this vent and dared not leave until they could be certain the coast was clear . . .

    "Guess all we can do is wait," Autumn sighed, stroking her Pikachu on his head as she spoke. The Team Midnight members had left a few moments earlier, but there was always the risk they could return and catch the four youngsters as they tried to escape.

    "And hope Kelly, Sandra and Kevin got back OK," added Marc, leaning against the metal wall of the shaft. Then, as his stomach gave a sudden grumble, he asked: "I don't suppose anyone has some food on them - I'm getting famished." Autumn frowned, thinking it was just typical for boys to think of food at a time like this, but she checked her pockets all the same before shaking her head. Candida didn't have anything either, but Jeremy managed to find a bar of chocolate in the pocket of his jeans.

    It had melted slightly and was sticking to the wrapper like a brown adhesive, but he managed to break it into six pieces so there was enough for the four humans, Autumn's Pikachu and Candida's Togetic. It wasn't the most filling meal in the world, but it should tide them over until they could make their way back through the shaft and, hopefully, get to their modules without being seen. But it was only a matter of moments before the grill they were near was thrust open and a man crawled into the long and slanting shaft . . .

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

    "We were told there were voices coming from this shaft," he said as he closed in on the four youngsters. Autumn's Pikachu braced himself to Thunderbolt the man, but Autumn restrained him; an Electric Attack in such a confined space was too risky. Not that they were without Pokemon protection, for Marc's Squirtle had broken out of his Poke Ball the second he sensed impending danger and soaked the man with his Water Gun. "And it seems our information was right - looks like you kids couldn't keep your nose out of things that don't concern you . . ."

    Marc quickly recalled his Squirtle and Candida did likewise with Togetic - this was exactly what the girls had tried to warn Kevin, Jeremy and Marc about, the reason they had tried to put a stop to the boys' crazy ideas. But that wasn't all . . .

    "Look!" Autumn whispered as she pointed at the man. The others looked at him more closely and saw that he was wearing a black t-shirt and combat pants, garments which they all knew could mean only one thing - and a glimpse of the letters TM tattooed on the man's upper arm confirmed it. A shocked silence fell, a silence that was finally broken by Candida.

    "You - you're from Team Midnight!" she shouted. She had only seen Team Midnight members once in her life - a band of them had tried to rob a bank in Cherrygrove City when she was in there with Lydia - but there was no mistaking that mode of dress . . . or that tattoo. She made as if to throw Togetic's Poke Ball, but the man's only response was to laugh mirthlessly.

    "What if we are?" he shot back. "It seems we'll have to teach you brats not to go snooping. Reeves and Tanner," he called to the floor below, "help me with this lot."

    Whoever Reeves and Tanner were - more Team Midnight members, the youngsters supposed - Autumn and the others were not about to wait and find out. They made to crawl away down the vent in the hope of outrunning the Team Midnight member, but he moved a fraction of a second faster and seized hold of Autumn as she attempted to escaped, hauling her forcibly out of the vent and into the room below. Finding herself surrounded by Team Midnight agents, all of them armed, she gulped and prayed that her Pikachu would get away safely.

    "Want me to go get those other brats?" asked a dark-haired female Team Midnight agent, addressing the man who had seized Autumn. The latter was struggling to get away, but his only response was to tighten his hold on her arm and lean close to her, whispering that she was "for it now".

    "No, Reeves," he said to the woman who had spoken. "They'll have scattered by now and we can't draw attention to ourselves until the signal comes from HQ. We'll just take this one - if anyone asks, we caught her breaking bounds."

    "Accurate enough," Reeves said with an expression on her face that made it look as if she was eating a lemon. "In the meantime, we'd better try and find out what those kids were doing in that vent."

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

    Only Autumn's Pikachu had noticed his trainer's capture and was now trying desperately to get attention from Marc, Jeremy and Candida. "Pika pikachu!" he called urgently, pointing to the vent with frantic gestures. "Pika! Pika!"

    "Shh, Pikachu - they'll hear you," Candida whispered, pressing her finger against her lips. If there were Team Midnight agents in Aquarius - and, after seeing that man's uniform and tattoo, she had no doubt there were - the last thing they would want was to have kids overhear their plans, whatever they were. The appearence of the Team Midnight agent exposed a major flaw in the vent as a hiding place - sound carried far too easily and this meant they would have to get out as fast as possible . . .

    But there was no silencing the frantic Pokemon, who continued to shout and point, trying to tell the three youngsters that Autumn had been taken and might be in serious trouble. "Pika pikachu pi pika pika!" he insisted. And, even as Candida clamped her hand over his mouth in a bid to keep him quiet, she began to realise something wasn't quite right; she had only known Autumn's Pikachu for a short time, but she already knew he would never shout like this unless something was wrong. Looking round at her companions, she realised what that something was . . .

    "Marc, Jeremy," she whispered to the two boys, "have either of you seen Autumn?"

    They shook their heads. "Not since that Team Midnight agent showed up," Marc replied. "You don't think . . .?" He paused, unable to bring himself to say the words he had been about to utter. Not that it mattered because Jeremy and Candida had both realised the same thing . . .

    "That Team Midnight has her?" prompted Candida, keeping a tight hold of Autumn's Pikachu for fear the Pokemon might run off again. She did not dare squeeze too hard in case the Pikachu did what she had been warned Electric Pokemon often did when held too tightly and gave her a Thundershock. "I was just thinking that myself and, as soon as we're out of here, we're going to find her."

    "We don't even know where they've got her," Marc reminded her. "And besides . . ."

    "It was you nosy boys who landed us in this mess," Candida reminded him. "And, if you stop to think about it, she must be somewhere in Aquarius and we have to figure out where . . ."

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

    Fortunately, the three of them managed to get back to where they had first entered the vent without being detected and all they had to do now was get clear of the restricted area they were in and alert Kevin, Kelly and Sandra. Assuming, that is, that they could make it past any guards that might have been stationed nearby . . . But they knew they had to do something about whatever fiendish plans Team Midnight were devising and their capture of Autumn made this all the more urgent.

    Candida was cursing under her breath, still furious with Marc and Jeremy for landing them in this mess. She had taken charge of Autumn's Pikachu and was struggling to keep the Pokemon from running off to look for his trainer; instinct told her that Team Midnight's plans would be too much for a single Pikachu to handle and, besides, they still had to figure out where Autumn was being held. Only then, would they be able to make any rescue plans.

    It was rather ironic that one of the reasons Autumn had been caught was because she and the other girls had been trying to prevent it from happening to Kevin, Jeremy and Marc. At the time, it had seemed like a straightforward case of breaking bounds, but the discovery of Team Midnight agents in the underwater city seemed to indicate that there was something going on, something that could only mean trouble . . .

    "Told you there was something strange going on," Jeremy whispered triumphantly as they made their way towards the corridor that led into the room where Autumn's Pikachu had first escaped into the vents. But Candida's only response was to nudge him in the ribs; the last thing she wanted was to be reminded of that and besides . . .

    "There are guards up ahead!" she whispered, pointing towards the two men standing further down the corridor with their hands on their Poke Balls. Clearly the guards whose Mightyena had been knocked out by Kelly's Skiploom, Drifter, had sent for reinforcements.

    "Are they from Team Midnight?" asked Marc, keeping a tight hold of his Squirtle's Poke Ball.

    "If they are, they must be working undercover," Candida replied. "They aren't wearing Team Midnight gear for one thing. Still, we can't take any chances," she added as she turned to the Pikachu standing beside her and tightened her grip on Togetic's Poke Ball. Lapras would, of course, be of little use in their current environment. "Pikachu, I know I'm not your usual trainer, but could you stun those guards with your Thundershock?"

    Pikachu did not need telling twice. He leapt into the air, charging up as he did so, and let fly with a powerful jolt of electricity which got both guards dead on and put them temporarily out of action. Candida, Marc and Jeremy promptly hurried over to check they would pose no further threat for the moment. A quick examination of the unconscious men assured the three youngsters they would not be waking up any time soon - nonetheless, they did not like leaving them there to be found by someone who could be part of Team Midnight . . .

    Seeing a nearby room, Marc nodded to the others; cottoning on to his idea, Jeremy and Candida knelt down behind the men's heads and, gripping them under their armpits, managed to drag them over to the room and deposit them inside. (Judging by the tables arranged in a U shape, this room was intended to be used for meetings or something similar). Then, Marc slammed the door shut and it bolted automatically.

    "Let's get back to our modules!" suggested Jeremy.

    "But what about . . .?" Candida started, thinking of Autumn, at the mercy of the Team Midnight agents somewhere in Aquarius.

    "I'm worried about Autumn too," said Jeremy, guessing what Candida was about to say. "But we'll need to get the others before we try anything."

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

    Autumn, meanwhile, found herself being led deeper and deeper into the bowels of the undersea complex, to an area so far under the ocean floor that there were no windows through which wild Water Pokemon could be seen swimming. She was shaking with apprehension, wondering what the Team Midnight agents were planning to do to her. And what about Candida, Jeremy and Marc? Had they managed to get back to their modules safely and was her Pikachu still with them? Moreover, would her Pikachu . . .?

    Her thoughts were cut off abruptly as Reeves hustled her into a room in which a plump man sat at a desk with the self-satisfied expression of a company director about to dismiss an incompetent employee. "Ah, Reeves," he said to the female Team Midnight agent as the latter prodded Autumn sharply in the small of her back. "I see you got one. How many were involved altogether?"

    "We saw at least four - two males and two females," Reeves replied. "All kids, but three managed to get away. Luckily, we got . . ."

    She was cut off abruptly as the man - the brass plaque on his desk declared that his name was Gordon Rich - picked up a notepad and hurled it at her head. "You incompetent fool!" Rich raged as Reeves ducked her head while keeping a tight hold on Autumn's arm. "You know how important this plan is for the future glory of Team Midnight - and three snooping teenagers could ruin everything!" He sat back down and drummed his fingers on the desk as he pondered what to say next; it was tempting to have Reeves finish the job she was supposed to do and round up whoever else had overheard his agents, but exposing their presence before the time was right would undo months of planning. This required another approach . . .

    "You, girl!" he barked at Autumn, who was trying to look as detached from the proceedings as she possibly could. "Who were the kids with you? What are their names?"

    Desperately, Autumn told herself that there was no way she would betray the others and land them in the situation she instinctively knew she would find herself in once Rich was through with her. For one thing, whatever Team Midnight were planning, the people in Aquarius would have more chance of resisting if someone knew roughly what was going on. "I don't know," she replied, keeping her voice as level as possible. "Just some . . . kids . . ."

    "Liar!" barked Rich, searching his desk for something else to throw. "Do not lie to a Team Midnight director! I'll ask you again - what are the names of the children you were with?"

    "I don't know and, even if I did, I wouldn't tell you!" Autumn shot back. Part of her wished she had her Pikachu with her to back her up, but the rest of her hoped fervently that he had made it safely back with Marc, Jeremy and Candida. "You have no authority here, you . . . you Team Midnight scum!"

    "I have no authority? My dear girl, I fear you are mistaken. That fool Wilson will only be in charge for as long as my agents are waiting for the signal from HQ - and, when it comes, Team Midnight will take control. So, I suggest you co-operate like a good little girl and tell me who else was breaking bounds with you."

    "Never!" Autumn shot back, incensed at being referred to as a "little girl" when she was already 5'3". This pattern of Rich demanding answers and Autumn refusing to give them continued for five more minutes until Rich lost patience and decided it was time to resort to desperate measures if he was to loosen Autumn's tongue . . .

    "Very well, my dear," he said in a deceptively calm voice as he got up from behind his desk and walked over to Autumn, who gagged at the smell of stale tobacco on his breath. "Maybe you'll feel differently once you've had a taste of . . ." He paused for dramatic effect. " . . . the Tank!"

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

    The Tank proved to be a room lined with white tiles that had what looked like shower heads ranged along the walls. As soon as Reeves and Rich got close enough, they roughly shoved Autumn inside and slammed the transparent door shut, locking it before the girl could stagger to her feet and escape. Not that this didn't stop her from leaping up and banging on the door, calling the two Team Midnight members every insulting name she could think of (she actually referred to Reeves in a way that implied she was a female Growlithe), but it made no difference. The only response she got from the Team Midnight members was a gloating smile.

    "Here's the deal," Rich told her, leaning close to the keyhole so Autumn could hear him through the locked door. "Reeves and I have some business to attend to and we'll probably be gone a few hours - hopefully that will give you time to reconsider what you said earlier. By the way," he added as he and Reeves turned to walk away, "I hope you can swim . . ."

    Even as he spoke, the shower heads all seemed to switch on of their own accord . . .

  9. #9
    Live life to the MAX! Obscura_Max's Avatar
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    Finally an update for one of the fics I'm reading. Nice installment but it was notoriously short. Your wording needs a tad bit of work, I wont quote you but there were a few spots hat didn't make sense, they weren't important but they did stick out to me.(I'm a bit of a perfectionist)
    ~Evil Fly~
    Conquering the world,
    One insect at a time.

    ~PissAnt the Conqueror~
    Hording homes, yards and foods,
    One residence at a time.

  10. #10
    Registered User Clare's Avatar
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    Chapter Six

    Candida, Marc and Jeremy wasted no time in finding the others; they knew Autumn was in serious trouble and, unless they could stop Team Midnight, the whole of Aquarius would be as well. Fortunately, Kelly, Sandra and Kevin had all made it back safely and were in Kevin's family's module when the other three tracked them down.

    "Kelly!" Jeremy shouted the second he saw his sister. "Team Midnight . . . they're in Aquarius!"

    Kelly rolled her eyes, convinced this was another of his tall tales, and went back to grooming her Delibird. "Haven't you caused enough trouble today?" she asked witheringly as the red Ice/Flying Pokemon hopped off her lap. "You'll only make matters worse if you go round saying stuff like that. Besides . . ."

    "It's true," Candida assured her, picking up Autumn's Pikachu and holding him close to her chest. "We overheard some of them talking. Then, we tried to get away so we could warn you, but one of them got Autumn . . ." She trailed off, unsure how to express the uncertainties she felt at not knowing what Team Midnight had done to Autumn or even where they were holding her.

    "Got Autumn?" Sandra echoed. "Where?"

    "I don't know - and we don't have any way of finding out," Candida informed her. The severity of the situation was beginning to hit home to her; even though she still had no idea what all this was about, she knew it had to be something really big or Team Midnight wouldn't have captured Autumn. The others had to find her and help her, but how could they do that without any idea where to look? Aquarius was a big place, covering a vast area of ocean floor . . .

    Kelly pulled out the Poke Ball that housed her Clefable, Pinky, and examined it briefly. "Maybe, we do," she said enigmatically. "Maybe, Pinky can help us . . ."

    "How could a Clefable help?" Kevin asked, his hands instinctively straying to the Poke Balls that housed his Murkrow, Sneasel and Houndour. "They're not Psychic Pokemon for one thing and . . ."

    "But they can learn Psychic," Kelly reminded him. She had made a point of teaching all her Pokemon as wide a range of moves as possible. When it came to Pokemon battles, using moves not of a Pokemon's particular Type often provided an element of surprise and many a Fighting Pokemon trainer had gone into battle against Pinky confident of an easy win against the Normal Type Clefable, only for a well-aimed Psychic Attack to scupper their strategy.

    Kelly quickly released Pinky and told the Clefable to use Psychic to try and pinpoint where Autumn was. In response, Pinky closed her eyes and slowly began to glow with a blue light that, had she been using Psychic in battle, would have concentrated itself into a blast of mental energy powerful enough to knock most opponents off their feet. In a non-combat situation, however, the light remained diffused and gentle, almost as if the Clefable was meditating . . .

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    Inside the Tank, the water had reached Autumn's waist and she was repeatedly telling herself that, no matter what Team Midnight did to her, she would not betray her friends. Even as her trousers were soaked through and began to cling uncomfortably to her skin, she remained determined not to give in and allow those - she searched for the right word - swine the satisfaction of seeing her grovel. Since the water had nowhere to drain, this small room would continue to fill up until the description of it as a "Tank" proved chillingly accurate, but Autumn wasn't worried about that for the time being. She was a good swimmer so she should be able to tread water at least for a while . . .

    Suddenly, as she floundered about now chest-deep in water, she felt something in her mind. Thoughts that weren't her own seemed to have entered her head and something told her that these weren't even human thoughts. They were the thoughts of a Pokemon, a Clefable, who seemed to be trying to find out where she was. It was then that she remembered that Kelly had a Clefable and, even though they were not Psychic Types, Clefables could learn Psychic. Kelly must have told Pinky - which, Autumn remembered, was the name of her Clefable - to try and find her by using Psychic.

    Desperately, she tried to reply to the Clefable-thoughts that had penetrated her mind. Having never attempted to communicate telepathically before, she wasn't entirely sure how to go about it, but, from what she remembered of how the subject was dealt with in fiction, concentration seemed to be the key. So she tried to empty her mind of all thoughts not essential to her immediate situation - not an easy task when impressions of her parents and her Pikachu kept flittering into her head. Would she ever see them again?

    Not unless she could tell Pinky where she was . . . So she thought as hard as she could, hoping against hope that the Clefable would be able to convey the message to the others. "I'm in a . . . thing called a Tank," she finally managed. "This Team Midnight Exec called Rich put me here . . . It's filling with water! Hurry!"

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    "Well?" Kelly asked as the Psychic connection between Pinky and Autumn broke and the light surrounding the Clefable faded. "Did you manage to make contact?"

    Pinky nodded resolutely. "Fable," she said in her enchantingly musical voice. Then, realising the urgency of the situation, she grabbed Kelly by the hand and attempted to pull her to her feet. "Fable fable clefableable!" she said urgently, trying to tell her trainer that Autumn was trapped in a room that was filling with water. Kelly and the others had to hurry and find their friend before it was too late.

    "What's up, Pinky?" asked Kelly, stroking the Clefable gently. Pinky had been Kelly's first Pokemon; she found her as a lost Cleffa near Mount Moon and took the small Pokemon under her wing, carefully raising her until she evolved into a Clefairy. A Pokemon journey followed, during which Kelly acquired her other three Pokemon and evolved Pinky into a Clefable using a Moon Stone she was fortunate enough to find on her travels. Pinky did not know human language - few Pokemon ever learnt to speak and most of those that did never mastered more than a few words - but, like all good trainers, Kelly was able to interpret what her Pokemon was trying to say.

    "Clefable fable!" Pinky said urgently. "Fable clef!" It was hard to translate Pokemon speech exactly, but what she was basically saying was: "C'mon - Autumn needs us! Hurry or she'll drown!"

    "Drown?" echoed Kelly as if Pinky had spoken to her in English. Autumn's Pikachu clung to Candida and whimpered as he heard the danger his trainer was in. "Where is she?" Kelly asked next, an urgent tone in her voice.

    "Clefable!" Pinky responded.

    "In a tank?" asked Kelly. "You mean like an aquarium?"

    Pinky nodded again and the youngsters exchanged uneasy glances. They had to find this "tank" fast, but they did not know where to begin looking. Not that Kevin was about to let that stop him - he quickly grabbed his Poke Balls and dashed off, intent on acting the hero. But he didn't get far before Sandra grabbed him by the arm and pulled him back.

    "Where do you think you're going?" she demanded.

    "To rescue Autumn," Kevin replied.

    "Without stopping to work out where they've got her?" Sandra countered. "Think about it, damn it! Team Midnight aren't likely to have her in any public areas - it's more likely she'll be in some place we're not allowed in . . ."

    "Changed your tune, haven't you?" Jeremy said sarcastically as he stood tossing his Charmeleon's Poke Ball into the air and catching it again. "Before, you girls were trying to stop us from breaking . . ."

    "This is different," Candida reminded him. "Team Midnight has one of us and we've got to get her out before it's too late. But we can't do that if we keep arguing. Now," she added when the others had fallen silent, "let's try and figure out how we're going to get in there."

    "Well, if my guess is right, Team Midnight are bound to be looking out for anyone snooping round out of bounds," Sandra said. "So that leaves the route we took this morning out . . ." She paused and tried to think of alternate routes into the core of Aquarius, but only one seemed feasible. "Run back to your modules and grab your Aquagear," she said at last. "Looks like we'll have to go for a swim."

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

    Everyone in Aquarius had been issued with an Aquagear, underwater breathing apparatus to be used if it was ever necessary to leave Aquarius via one of the underwater emergency exits. As she took the perspex mask, rubber tube and oxygen cylinder out of her cupboard, Candida recalled the classes that had been given at the beginning of this project to teach people how to use the equipment. "Never thought I'd be using this for real so soon," she said out loud.

    As she hurried out of the room, she made sure she had her Lapras' Poke Ball with her. It never hurt to have a Pokemon on standby and this was a situation that called for Water Pokemon. She took stock of all the Water Pokemon she and her friends had - she had Lapras, Marc had Seadra and Squirtle and Sandra had Wooper and Dratini; the latter wasn't a Water Pokemon, but she did know a couple of Water Attacks.

    Just as she was hurrying out into the corridor, she ran into Ryan who immediately began to bombard her with questions about what she was doing and why she needed her Aquagear. "I can't explain now," she said, trying to push him out of the way. "I'm in kind of a rush . . ."

    "Can I help you?" Ryan asked hopefully, gazing up at his older sister. He had no idea of the seriousness of the situation, of the danger that Autumn was now in - and nor was he aware that Team Midnight had infiltrated Aquarius. So far, the only people who knew were Candida and her friends and they had to find out exactly what was going on. But they first had a more pressing problem to deal with . . .

    "Yes," Candida said at last. "You can help by staying in the module and not getting unfer my feet - this is something that's not for kids." She bent down to look at Autumn's Pikachu, who was clinging to her leg, and picked the small Electric Pokemon up in her arms. "And you can also keep an eye on this Pikacu while I'm gone - let it play with Elekid or something."

    Ryan muttered something, but Candida didn't hear what he said since she was already racing down the corridor.

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

    When the friends met up at the nearest emergency exit, Sandra outlined what they were going to do. "OK, remember what they taught us in our safety drills?" she said. "Strap on your Aquagear, open the hatch and swim out." The others all nodded and Sandra smiled before continuing with her pep talk. "Once we're out, we'll let out our Water Pokemon and have them keep an eye on things while we get to Aumtumn. Was Pinky able to work out where she's likely to be?" she asked Kelly.

    "Yes - somewhere in the West Section," said Kelly. "That's where most of the out-of-bounds areas are . . ."

    "Then west is where we'll have to go," Kevin said resolutely as he donned his Aquagear and stood looking rather bizarre with a rubber tube in his mouth and a perspex mask over his eyes. He tried to say something with the tube in his mouth, but all the others heard was a muffled "Mm-ay m-mn" that could have meant any number of things.

    "Pardon?" said Marc, who had the Poke Balls containing his Seadra and Squirtle ready for when they would shortly be needed. Kevin blushed with embarrassment and pulled the tube out of his mouth before repeating himself.

    "OK, come on!" he urged the others, who had no difficulty understanding him this time. Without wasting any more time, they fastened on their Aquagears and, once Jeremy had opened the emergency exit, swam out into a bizarre underwater world. It was like nothing they had experienced before - even seeing the world of the ocean through the windows in Aquarius had done little to prepare them for the reality of swimming deep in the ocean.

    They adjusted their Aquagears to allow them to talk, albeit in a slightly echoey way, and swam off in single file, skirting the outside of the undersea complex. All they had to do now was work out which direction was west, not an easy task when they didn't have the sun to guide them - luckily, Kevin had a compass with him so they used that to guide them. "OK," he said, holding the compass up. "The needle's pointing to the left and a compass always points north - so that means west must be that way." He indicated the direction with a wave of his hand.

    As she swam, Candida observed many wild Water Pokemon swimming around outside Aquarius. Two Starmies span through the water, their jewels shining brightly, while a Dewgong and a Sealeo played together, riding an underwater current and a shoal of Magikarp bunched together and swam in perfect harmony as if they were a team of synchronised swimmers . . . In short, there were sea-dwelling Pokemon everywhere she looked, although most of them didn't seem too bothered by the intrusion of a group of humans into their world. For a split second, she thought she caught a glimpse of Lugia, the Legendary Pokemon said to range the oceans, but she only saw a shadow and that disappeared within seconds.

    "Hurry up, Candida!" Marc ordered when he saw her staring at a Seel and its pup. "We've got to get to Autumn! We can't waste time Pokemon-watching!"

    Candida muttered a hasty apology and swam off after the others. He was right, of course - this was hardly the time to be watching Pokemon, not while Autumn was in danger. Hopefully, once all this was over, she would be able to come down here and watch undersea Pokemon at her leisure.

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

    In the Tank, the water was now nearly as high as the ceiling and the relentless deluge still showed no sign of abating. Autumn clung to a pipe on the ceiling in a desperate bid to keep her head above water, but her fingers had become numb and she was beginning to lose her grip. It was only a matter of time . . .

    Should she give in and agree to Rich's terms? That thought briefly entered her mind, but she dismissed it almost immediately; there was no way she would betray her friends by selling them out to Team Midnight. Even if doing so was the only way to save herself . . .

    Then, just when she was beginning to think all was lost, Marc's head broke the surface, swiftly followed by Sandra's. The latter swam over to Autumn and gently eased her away from the pipe she had been clinging to. "It's OK, Autumn - I got you," Sandra whispered as she supported her exhausted Friend's head.

    "H - how did you . . .?" Autumn tried to say.

    "Get in here? We figured out where you'd be with a little help from Kelly's Clefable. Then, we all swam out of Aquarius and, when we guessed we were in the right place, Wooper and Marc's Squirtle dug a tunnel on the ocean floor and we all swam up it - lucky it came out here, eh?" While Sandra spoke, Kelly, Jeremy, Candida and Kevin all broke the surface until all seven of the companions were reunited. But that still left one pressing problem.

    "Er . . . how are we going to get out of here?" asked Jeremy. "Autumn doesn't have an Aquagear with her for one thing . . ."

    Candida had the answer - or at least a temporary solution. She pulled out her Lapras' Poke Ball and summoned the large blue Water Pokemon. "Get on Lapras' back!" she ordered as she hauled herself onto the Pokemon's shell. "And hurry!" she added as she glanced at the door and noticed it was beginning to buckle under the pressure of the water flooding the room. "That door can't hold out much longer!"

    Sure enough, almost as soon as they were all on Lapras' back, the water pressure grew too great for the door to withstand and it burst open, sending seven humans and a Lapras cascading out into the corridor.

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

    Nearby, two Team Midnight agents looked up with a start when they heard the collective yell of seven teenagers caught on a wild and unexpected water ride. "What was that?" asked one of them, his hand instinctively reaching for the Poke Ball that housed his Gengar.

    "It came from the corridor where Rich stashed that kid in the Tank," his companion said as he looked up from grooming his Shiftry. With that, he hurried off to investigate with the Shiftry following hot on his heels, but all he found when he got to the corridor in question was a flooded floor and a door forced open by an excess of water pressure behind it. Candida and her companions had had the presence of mind to get clear of the scene before anyone unwelcome showed up. There was no sign of the girl who had been caught earlier in the day, so she had to still be alive - had she drowned, her body would surely have been somewhere nearby . . .

    "What?!" the man cursed. "How dare that brat escape?! And on my shift too! If Rich hears about this . . ."

    Before he could continue, the communicator he carried in his pocket began bleeping. He switched it on and immediately heard Rich's voice giving instructions to all Team Midnight members in Aquarius. "Word has come through from HQ - the Plan will commence tonight," he informed his underlings. "By morning, all these fools will be our slaves."

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

    A quick check-up at the medical facility did not reveal any serious injuries to Autumn, although she was chilled as a result of being in the water for so long. The medics told Candida, who had been the one who brought Autumn in, to take her back to her Module so she could rest up.

    As she and Autumn, clad in white bathrobes since their wet clothes were being aired out in the laundry, hurried down the corridor, Candida felt a sense of relief that none of the others had wanted to come to the medical facility with her and Autumn, instead choosing to head back to their modules. It made her story that Autumn had slipped and fallen into the swimming pool - which was closed at this hour - seem less like to be disbelieved. All they could do now was hope no-one would start asking questions.

    Little did she know what lay in store that night . . .

  11. #11
    Registered User Clare's Avatar
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    I hope no-one minds me dredging this up, but I lost my password a while back and I've only just got round to getting a new one.

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


    Chapter Seven

    Candida sat up with a start when she heard the tummalt of voices issuing from the corridor. She fumbled for her lightswitch and flicked it on, wondering as she did so what could be happening at this time of night - the Marill-shaped clock on her beside cabinet showed 2.30AM in red digits flashing on the model Pokemon's belly. Everything looked normal - her posters were still on the wall and her Jigglypuff doll was still on the shelf - but there was obviously something untoward happening in Aquarius.

    She was just about to get dressed and go investigate when Ryan burst in with his Elekid close behind. "What's going on, Candy?" he asked. "What's all that noise?"

    "I don't know," Candida told him truthfully. "But I'm going to take a look . . ." With that, she grabbed Lapras and Togetic's Poke Balls and, stopping only to pull on her slippers, she made her way out into the transparent tube that linked the Bensons' module with the rest of Aquarius. A shocking sight met her eyes.

    Men and women in Team Midnight uniforms were swarming all over the place, breaking into modules and hauling the bewildered occupants and their Pokemon out. Fortunately, they hadn't reached the area where Candida and her family lived, but it was only a question of time before they did. This must be the plan she and her friends had overheard some Team Midnight agents discussing. She had no idea what that plan might be, but she knew it had to be bad and she had to warn the others.

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

    Racing over to the neighbouring module, she pressed down hard on the intercom, praying all the while that Autumn or one of her parents would hear it and answer. "C'mon!" she muttered to herself. "Answer! This is . . ."

    Before she could get a reply, she was suddenly grabbed hold of by her wrist. "Don't even think about it, you little witch!" hissed a menacing voice as Candida turned to find herself staring into the cold grey eyes of a female Team Midnight agent. The latter roughly pulled the girl away from the Lanes' module and dragged her out into the corridor, keeping a tight hold of her arm the whole time. Candida would have released Togetic, but the woman was prepared for such a move and snatched both of Candida's Poke Balls.

    "You won't be needing those," she said with a wicked sneer.

    That was it. Candida wanted answers and she meant to get them. "Would you mind telling me what's going on here?!" she demanded, forcing herself to keep her voice level. "Why have we all been woken up like this?"

    "You'll find out soon enough," the woman informed her bluntly. "Right now, you are coming with me." With that, she turned and marched away, dragging the dumbstruck Candida along with her. With her free hand, she toyed with the Poke Balls she had "liberated", wondering as she did so what Pokemon were inside. She hoped at least one would be a Dark or a Poison Type since these were her speciality - her own Pokemon team consisted of a Golbat, a Cacturne, a Nidoking and a Houndoom. Not only that, Team Midnight had plans for such Pokemon . . .

    But Candida had no knowledge of this. "At least tell me why you've taken my Pokemon," she said, trying her best to sound casual. She was sure the woman wanted her to beg and she wasn't going to give her the satisfaction. Lydia had said long ago that Team Midnight were just a bunch of low-life bullies - and bullies thrived on causing fear. Often cowards themselves, they boosted their self-confidence by picking on those they knew couldn't retaliate.

    The woman responded to Candida's question by elbowing her sharply in the back. "That's classified Team Midnight information!" she snarled. "And maybe you'd like to explain how that kid some of our agents caught managed to get out of the Tank."

    "What kid? What Tank?" Candida responded, hoping against hope that she looked sufficiently puzzled. Then she recoiled as the woman struck her viciously across the face.

    "Don't act innocent with me, miss! A girl fitting your description was seen with three other teenagers in an area that was out of bounds. One of the youngsters, another girl, was caught and placed in the Tank, but . . ."

    She was cut short by the male Team Midnight agent called Tanner. "Crozier, interogate her later!" he ordered from where he and three other agents had the bewildered Bensons surrounded. "Right now, we've got to get our new "workforce" assembled. If the plan is to work, we can't waste time on a bunch of brats."

    Something about the way he said "workforce" made Candida uneasy, as if he was using it as a euphemism for something far more sinister . . .

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

    Less than half-an-hour later, the entire population of Aquarius had been roused and unceremoniously herded deep into the underwater complex. Children, bewildered and frightened by what was happening, clung to their mothers who, even though they were themselves afraid, tried to put up a brave front. Several of them were whispering reassuringly to the youngsters, all the while wishing they could be sure that everything would be all right. Outside, sea-dwelling Pokemon such as Gyarados and Wailmer swam past, unaware of the turmoil within Aquarius.

    As she and the rest of her family were shoved into the room where she, Autumn, Jeremy and Marc had first overheard the Team Midnight agents, Candida saw Sandra standing with her parents and wearing a nightshirt with a Skitty print on the front. The eyes of the two girls briefly met as Candida winked and made a quick OK sign with her thumb and forefinger. A nearby Team Midnight agent saw this and gave the girl a sharp prop with his rifle butt.

    "No communicating!" he barked. "No speech, sign language - nothing! Just stand there until the Supreme Ruler of Aquarius arrives!" With that, he turned and stalked off, whistling nonchallently as he did so. There were few things he liked better than throwing his weight around.

    Lydia waited until he was out of earshot before whispering to her husband. "What in the name of Johto is going on here?" she asked. "Why would Wilson want anything to do with scum like Team Midnight?"

    Candida kept silent. She knew Wilson had nothing to do with this, that he must now be a prisoner himself, held elsewhere in the underwater complex. But that did not answer the question of what Team Midnight wanted or how their plans could be thwarted - and she still didn't know if she would be allowed to have Togetic and Lapras back. Kevin, Jeremy and Marc had been right - there was something untoward going on in Aquarius.

    Presently, the door on the opposite side of the room swung open and Rich swaggered in with a self-satisfied expression like that of a conquering general on his face. This had gone better than he had hoped. There had been no serious violence and it was clear that no-one had escaped. There was much to be said for the element of surprise and for the Team Midnight executives who had waited until the early hours of the morning before sending the order to procede with the plan. Bewildered half-awake prisoners were far less likely to cause trouble.

    "All right, listen up!" he commanded in an imperious tone. "Team Midnight are running things here now and you will all do as we say or else . . ."

    "Or else what?" called a voice from among the assembled throng.

    "You'll soon find out if you don't do as you're told," Rich said shortly after trying in vain to find the culprit. He paused and paced up and down, smug with satisfaction that the plans Team Midnight had for Aquarius would shortly come to fruition. All it required was a few hours of slave labour . . .

    "Meanwhile," he went on, "you will all be taken deep under the ocean floor to await further instructions. I expect full co-operation from all of you. Any dissent, any rioting will be dealt with swiftly and harshly."

    Candida knew the last thing she should do was call out, but she couldn't help herself - she had to know what would happen to Lapras and Togetic. "What about our Pokemon?" she demanded.

    "They are being held for . . . safe keeping - you'll get them back shortly."

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

    A shocked mutter swept through the throng of people, most of whom were still in their nightclothes. Team Midnight in Aquarius? Surely not - hadn't there been checks to make sure only those chosen for the project were admitted? But there was no mistaking those uniforms and the arrogant way in which the agents were behaving. Had they been here from the first day and, if so, how had they managed to sneak in?

    Candida and her friends were silent, each of them wishing they had told someone about Team Midnight before it was too late. Doing so would have meant admitting they had broken bounds, but at least none of this would have happened. At least they wouldn't have been woken in the early hours and dragged out of their modules to face whatever Team Midnight had in store for them. As it was . . .

    Their thoughts were interupted by the sound of Rich's voice barking out orders. "All men and adolescent boys this side with Agent Tanner!" he ordered, pointing to the right. "Women, girls and younger boys must assemble over there." He pointed to the left. "They will be escorted by Agent Reeves. You will do this in an orderly fashion or suffer the consequences." With that, he marched off the way he had come, a satisfied smirk on his face. It had been almost too easy. All it had taken was a few late-night raids and Team Midnight was now running things.

    There was a shocked silence following Rich's words. Many families did not want to be separated, mothers divided from their sons, wives from their husbands, children from their fathers, sisters from their brothers. Lydia Benson, like many other wives, was clinging desperately to her husband, not knowing when they would see each other again. Jack stroked her hair in an effort to reassure her, while both their children hovered around uncertainly.

    Presently, Reeves appeared on the scene and pulled Lydia out of her husband's arms. "Time to break up this happy family," she said grimly. "You and your brats are coming with me."

    Lydia, Candida and Ryan looked at Jack, the same bewildered expression etched on all their faces. He sighed wearily - he didn't like what Team Midnight were doing any more than they did, but there seemed to be little option other than doing as they were told. His children had had their Pokemon confiscated (Ryan had refused to let go of his Elekid's Poke Ball until a burly agent kicked him to the floor) and Rich had warned of "serious consequences" if anyone refused to co-operated.

    "I'll be all right," he told them, wishing he could be as certain as he sounded. "You three go on now."

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

    Lydia Benson and her children were led deeper and deeper under the ocean floor. The clear perspex that gave the people of Aquarius a panoramic view of the oceans was replaced with blank white walls with no hint of decoration except a large portrait dominating the corridor. It showed a stern-looking white-haired man in a grey suit, an Absol curled on his lap. A small label at the bottom identified him as:

    Sergio Lenoir
    Founder and President of the glorious Team Midnight

    Neither the Bensons nor any of the other prisoners had time to examine the portrait in detail before Crozier, the agent who had caught Candida, stepped forward and pressed down on an almost invisible notch in the wall. Slowly, the portrait slid sideways to reveal another corridor, this one long, narrow and lit with bare electric lightbulbs. Everyone hung back uncertainly, instinctively knowing that whatever lay at the end of that corridor could only be bad news . . .

    "Move it, you worthless scum!" Crozier spat. "We haven't got all day!" And, to show what would happen to anyone who didn't do as they were told, she grabbed a small girl (who couldn't have been much more than eight years old) and slammed her fist into the child's stomach. The girl doubled over with tears in her eyes as a woman who seemed to be her mother looked on helplessly.

    Candida's lips narrowed in disgust. That was just typical of Team Midnight to pick on the most defenceless person they could find. She longed to go and comfort the sobbing child, but fear that doing so could result in her getting hit herself held her back. Some day, she vowed to herself, Crozier would have to be taught a lesson . . .

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

    The hidden corridor seemed to go on forever and everyone was footsore and weary by the time the Team Midnight agents called a halt in a vast undersea cavern with many side tunnels branching off from it. "This," Reeves announced as she stood resting her hand on the rocky wall, "is your new workplace. You will labour here for the glory of Team Midnight and . . ."

    "What exactly is this place?" demanded Kelly from where she stood with her mother. Jeremy, of course, had been separated from them and was with his father and the rest of the men and older boys.

    "It's a treasure cave," Reeves said shortly. "Haven't you heard of a treasure cave before? Well, now you're in one and your job will be to get the treasure. If you work hard, you'll be suitably rewarded. However, if you don't . . ."

    She deliberately left the last sentence unfinished so the prisoners could draw the inference themselves. But they all knew that whatever Team Midnight had in store for anyone they caught slacking was bound to be bad. Then she continued issuing her orders. "You will all receive a plastic tag with a number on it," she said as other agents moved among the crowd, handing out black plastic squares as they did so. "That number tells you which Shift you'll be working so don't lose it . . . Oh, yeah, and those of you on Shift One will be starting work right away. The rest of you will remain in your dormitory until your Shift begins."

    Candida turned her tag over and saw a number 3 printed on it. "I'm on Shift Three," she said to her mother and brother. "What about you?"

    I'm on Shift Three too," said Lydia, showing Candida her tag. "But Ryan's on Shift Two and I don't know what Shift your father will be on . . ." She paused as she wondered how it could all have gone so wrong. Everything had started so well, people achieving what even the inhabitants of Pacifidlog in Hoenn had never managed and building a city underwater. Now that Team Midnight were running things, she had no idea what was going to happen.

    Putting on a brave face for the sake of the children - even though Candida was old enough to realise the severity of the situation - she suggested that, since they didn't have to start work straight away, they should head for the dormitory and catch up on their sleep.

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

    The dormitory proved to be a large cell lined with bunk beds with washroom facilities at the far end. Reeves and Crozier halted the prisoners inside the room and pointed to an A4-sized notice on the wall.

    "These are the rules you will be following while you're in the service of Team Midnight," Crozier told them. "I suggest you read them through carefully as disobedience will be . . ."

    " . . . punished severely," Autumn muttered from somewhere nearby. She felt strange without her Pikachu perched on her shoulder, but she had had to tell him to hide for his own safety. As soon as the Team Midnight agents broke into her family's module, she stuffed her Pikachu into the air-conditioning vent in her room and told him not to come out no matter what happen. She only hoped he would be all right . . .

    "And the most important rule is this," Crozier went on, ignoring the interuption. "No escaping - you'll find getting out of here easier said than done anyway. And now," she added as she and Reeves moved towards the door, "we will be supervising those on Shift One." And, without another word, the two Team Midnight agents were gone.

    Candida sat down on the nearest bunk, which only had a thin mattress, and sighed.

  12. #12
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    I don't think anyone minds you pulling that back from the abyss. actually, I'm really glad you did! This is a interesting fic. if you hadn't pulled it back up i'd have not got to read it.
    It's pretty unique as far as pokémon fics go and I hope you keep writing it!

  13. #13
    Registered User Clare's Avatar
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    Chapter Eight

    "You! Girl!" a Team Midnight agent barked to Candida. "I've got something for you!"

    Warily, Candida got up off her bunk and made her way across the dormitory towards the door. In the week that had passed since Team Midnight's takeover, life in Aquarius had become, to put it bluntly, unbearable. The entire population was forced to work for hours on end in what she could only describe as an undersea mine, its purpose still not entirely clear. The worst thing had been being without her Pokemon and she had often lain awake, wondering how Lapras and Togetic were faring.

    Now, however, she could scarcely believe her eyes as she saw what the agent was holding - two Poke Balls. And these weren't just any Poke Balls; they were the ones that held her Pokemon, whom she hadn't seen since Crozier confiscated them. The agent gave a sly grin as he held out the Balls, keeping them just out of her reach. "If you want these back, you'll have to do something in return," he informed her.

    "And what would that be?" Candida asked coldly. She did not care for the look on his face and her mind was racing through the various degrading things he might make her do. Like most trainers, she had thought she would do anything for her Pokemon, but, now that it came down to it . . .

    "I want you to say "Team Midnight rule"," the agent informed her.

    Candida looked at him coldly; there was no way she was going to utter those words and she let the agent know as much by stamping on his foot. "The only thing you rule is a pile of trash!" she retorted. She immediately regretted those hasty words as the agent pushed her to the floor and held her there with his foot.

    "I think you need to be taught some respect," he informed her as everyone else in the dormitory looked on nervously. Autumn was at the far end of the room and, having tried in vain to warn her friend against crossing the agent, was now shaking at the thought of what the man could do. Candida was a fourteen-year-old kid and wouldn't stand much chance against the powerful agent of Team Midnight . . . There was a sudden gasp as the agent aimed a vicious kick at the girl he had pinned to the floor.

    "Never - insult - Team - Midnight!" he barked, punctuating his words with more kicks as Candida curled up in a bid to make as small a target as possible. Her head was ringing, tears of pain and humiliation pricking at her eyes as she struggled to avoid shedding them, determined not to give the agent that satisfaction. In the end, Autumn could stand it no longer. She ran forward just as the agent was about to deliver another kick.

    "Candida, please - just do as he says," she pleaded. Dimly, Candida looked up into Autumn's face, noting as she did so the expression that clearly said it was probably better to obey this outlandish command lest her refusal to do so lead to even more trouble.

    So, with a sigh of immense reluctance, Candida said the words she had been commanded to utter, forcing them out with such distaste that they felt almost like swear words. "Team . . . Midnight . . . rule!" she said through gritted teeth. The agent looked down at her, pleased that he had forced her to grovel, and thrust her Poke Balls at her.

    "There! Take your wretched Pokemon!" With that, he turned and left, slamming the door behind him.

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

    Candida went and sat on her bed, clutching her Poke Balls as she shook with anger and humiliation. She hated Team Midnight more than ever. Some day, she vowed to herself, she would get back at that self-satisfied agent who had kicked her. Some day, she would make him sorry he had ever come near Aquarius . . .

    "Candida, are you all right?" It was Sandra who had spoken. She was still wearing her Skitty nightshirt, now covered in dirt from hours of working in the undersea cave. She got up and knelt beside her friend, clasping Wooper and Dratini's Poke Balls which she had had returned to her earlier in the day, although, in her case, she hadn't been forced to do anything degrading in return. Nonetheless, she knew how Candida must feel; she had been bullied at school when she was eleven and had once been beaten up so badly that her parents had reported the matter to the principal and the culprits had been expelled.

    "I'm . . . OK," Candida lied. "I was just wondering what we could do against Team Midnight . . ."

    "Me too," Sandra admitted. "We still don't know what all this is about, but I'm pretty sure whatever it is will be bad news for us . . ." A pause followed, during which the two girls looked each other in the face, both feeling helpless in the face of the organisation which had seized control in Aquarius. After a few moments, Candida stood up and held her Lapras' Poke Ball as if she was preparing to throw it.

    "Then we shall fight!" she declared. "We shall band together and drive Team Midnight out of here!" Everyone in the room turned in her direction, noting as they did so that a change seemed to have come over her. She spoke with an assurance beyond her years, as if she was a politician at a pep rally, and many couldn't help agreeing with her.

    "Yeah!" someone shouted. "Squash Team Midnight!"

    "Let's give 'em what for!" added someone else.

    For several moments, there was so much shouting going on that Candida was worried the noise might attract a guard. "Shh!" she said, pressing her finger to her lips. "We won't get anywhere if we alert anyone. So let's discuss this and decide what we should do."

    "Candida's right," seconded Autumn. "We need to get properly organised if we're going to try a rebellion . . ." She paused and leaned against the wall with her arms folded. "If only there was some way to get word to the men."

    But, for the life of her, she couldn't think of any means of doing so without being detected. The women and children in Aquarius never saw the men except in the mine these days and the constant vigilence of the Team Midnight guards made passing secret messages under those circumstances easier said than done. But there had to be a way. There had to be some means of contacting the men . . .

    Her thoughts were distracted by a frantic call of "Pikachu!" from somewhere nearby. She held her breath, scarcely able to believe what she was hearing. That sounded like her own Pikachu's voice and it seemed to be coming from the vent set high on the wall. Had he come all this way just to be with her again?

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

    "Help me, Candida," Autumn whispered as she pushed a chair towards the grill and stood on it. Between them, the two girls managed to get the wire mesh off the vent and Autumn reached inside. Moments later, she emerged holding a very bedraggled Pikachu.

    "Pika!" the yellow Electric Type said in a tone that conveyed a mixture of relief at seeing his trainer again and annoyance that she had gone away and left him to fend for himself. For the last seven days, he had kept himself alive by raiding the now unattended larders of Aquarius, but all he ever wanted was to be with Autumn and, while he was exploring one day, he found a shaft he had never been down before . . .

    That was how Autumn's Pikachu had found his trainer again and it also provided a possible solution to the question of communicating with the men. Autumn stroked the Pokemon gently, rubbing the red electric sacs on his cheeks in the way he liked as he squealed with delight. Then she put him down and looked at him gravely. "Feel like helping the ARM?" she asked, pronouncing each letter separately.

    "ARM?" echoed Candida. "What does that mean?"

    "Aquarius Resistance Movement - ARM for short. I just made it up off the top of my head. It's what I think we should call ourselves."

    "Anyway," Autumn went on, addressing her Pikachu once again, "we need some way of communicating with the men without Team Midnight knowing. Would you like to be our messenger?"

    "Pikachu," the Pikachu replied, nodding vigorously. Like most of his kind, he was fiercely loyal to his trainer and was willing to do anything she asked. Autumn patted him on the head again and turned to the others.

    "Do any of you have a notepad and pen - something we could use to write a message?" she asked. A brief silence followed as everyone in the room exchanged glances and shook their heads; Team Midnight's night-time raid had given the people of Aquarius little time to gather together any personal belongings. "Anyone?" Autumn asked, a look of desperation etched on her face.

    Candida sat down on her bunk, her head in her hands. As she stared straight ahead, her eyes chanced to glance at the list of rules Team Midnight had pinned to the wall and an idea occurred to her. It was risky and could land everyone in trouble, but it seemed to be their only option. She stood up and walked over to the list.

    "We'll tear a scrap of paper from this," she said. "It's risky, but it'll be worth it if we can get a message to the men . . ." With that, she pulled down the sheet of unlaminated A4 paper and tore a square off the corner. She had just rested it against the wall when she remembered that she didn't have a pen with her.

    "I could use some help here!" she called to the others.

    In response, Kelly rummaged in her pocket and produced a Biro. "I swiped this from Crozier's pocket yesterday," she said with a grin as she handed it over to Autumn. Autumn took the pen, rested it and the scrap of paper against the wall and scribbled the words:

    ARM
    We aim to fight a common enemy and need to discuss plans. Send reply to AL

    on it. She kept it as ambiguous as possible to guard against the note falling into the wrong hands; hopefully, Kevin, Jeremy, Marc or one of the other males would be able to work out what it meant, whereas Team Midnight would be none the wiser. Satisfied, she called her Pikachu over and handed him the note.

    "Pikachu, take this to Kevin, Jeremy or Marc," she whispered. "But stay out of Team Midnight's way."

    As the Pikachu turned to go with the hastily written note folded up and tucked inside his cheek, Autumn hoped this plan would work. If it didn't, if her Pikachu was caught . . . She did not want to think about it.

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

    Things were little better in the men's quarters and the uncertainty wasn't helped by the fact that, while Jeremy's Charmeleon and Marc's Seadra and Squirtle had been returned to their respective trainers, Kevin had not seen Houndour, Murkrow and Sneasel since a burly Team Midnight agent confiscated his Poke Balls. Something told him that the three Dark Type Pokemon were in serious trouble and he had no way of determining what was happening to them, what unspeakable purposes Team Midnight wanted them for. He was leaning against the wall, wishing he had some means of contacting the girls when he heard a "Pika!" from somewhere near his feet.

    Kevin bent down to see a Pikachu standing in front of him. "Hey, aren't you Autumn's Pikachu?" he said as he knelt down and stroked the small Pokemon. "What are you doing here?"

    "Pikachu," the Pikachu replied, reaching into his mouth and pulling out a rather soggy piece of paper. "Pika pi pika!" he said urgently as he handed it to Kevin.

    Kevin took the note and unfolded it. The ink had run, but it was still fairly legible. He read it through a couple of times, wondering as he did so who or what ARM was. He knew AL had to be Autumn Lane since it was her handwriting and her Pikachu had delivered the note. As for who the "common enemy" was . . .

    Kevin's train of thought was interupted by Marc and Jeremy coming off duty after another shift spent searching an undersea cavern for some unknown treasure. Both boys hated their conquerors with a vengeance and longed to be able to teach them a lesson, but Kevin had vetoed any idea of rebellion for the time being. Acting rashly would only land them in worse trouble, he said. He chose to forget that, not too long ago, he had been more than willing to take what was on reflection a rather foolish risk.

    Marc and Jeremy both spoke at once.

    "What's going on, Kev?"

    "What's that Pikachu doing . . .?"

    "It's Autumn's Pikachu - don't you recognise it?" Kevin filled in. "And it brought me this." He held out the note so they could read what Autumn had written.

    "Arm?" said Jeremy, assuming it was all one word. "What arm? Whose arm?"

    "I don't know," Kevin pointed out. "But Autumn says we've got to get a reply to the girls somehow . . ." He paused and stared round the dormitory, which was identical to the one which housed the women, girls and younger boys, right down to the long lists of rules. Looking closely, he saw that the note had been scrawled on paper torn from such a list; a few fragments of sentences could still be seen on the reverse. "I don't suppose either of you has a pen," he added at length.

    Marc and Jeremy shook their heads. "But maybe we can let them know another way," Jeremy added, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a small keychain shaped like a Lunatone. "I bought this on holiday in Hoenn once - if Kelly sees it, she'll know we got the message."

    "All well and good," agreed Marc. "But how do we arrange a meeting?"

    Jeremy ignored that. "What's important right now is that we can communicate with the girls - it doesn't matter what we say." With that, he handed the keychain to Autumn's Pikachu.

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

    With the keychain clasped in his mouth, the Pikachu darted nimbly through the shadows. He instinctively knew that what he had been asked to do was important and was careful to stay out of the way of any Team Midnight guards he saw. Autumn had told him Team Midnight were trouble and, more than anything, he longed to Thundershock the guards or, at the very least, sink his teeth into their hands. But he resisted the urge - he had to get back to Autumn and let her know he had made contact with the boys.

    Finally, after much ducking and weaving, he made it back to where he had started from. He located Autumn and darted over to her, looking up at her with Jeremy's keychain still in his mouth. "Pika!" he said.

    Autumn looked down at her Pokemon. "Pikachu? Did you see the boys? Where did you get that?" she asked, taking the keychain out of his mouth and examining it. It was a perfect miniture of a Lunatone, moulded out of modelling clay and with a metal ring to hold the keys attached to the top. She turned it over and over in her hands, remembering having seen such keychains on sale in Hoenn. But, as far as she knew, this design was not available in Johto so where had Pikachu found it?

    "Pika pikachu pikachu chu!" Pikachu piped up impatiently. Autumn glanced down at him and realised she had been so busy examining the keychain that she had forgotten he was there.

    "Sorry, Pikachu," she laughed. "I was just wondering . . ."

    Before Autumn could complete her sentence, Kelly chanced to glance in her direction and noticed what she was holding. "Hey! Isn't that Jeremy's keychain?" Kelly asked, walking over to her friend and looking at the miniture Lunatone in her hand. She turned to Autumn's Pikachu. "Did Jeremy give that to you?"

    "Pi!" The Pikachu nodded vigorously and leapt up to touch the keychain. Autumn picked him up and hugged him close as she pondered their next move. If the keychain did belong to Jeremy, it meant Pikachu had made contact with the boys. The next order of business was finding a means of keeping that line of communication open without arousing Team Midnight's suspicions.

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

    A klaxon sounded nearby, followed almost immediately by the sound of clumping feet and a harsh female voice shouting. "Up! Move it, you scum!" she barked. Candida's eyes narrowed as she recognised it as Crozier's voice and restrained herself as the woman who had taken Lapras and Togetic marched in. Crozier stood with her arms folded, a willow cane tucked under one of them, and addressed the assembled women as if she was a Sergeant Major. "Next Shift in ten minutes! If you're part of it, move your lazy butts!"

    Candida and Autumn were part of the next shift so they joined those moving silently towards the workings. Before she did so, however, Autumn hurriedly hid the keychain inside a slit in her mattress lest a Team Midnight agent find it. Then she addressed Kelly in a hurried whisper. "I'll speak to Jeremy if I can," she said. "Don't worry."

    Kelly nodded and sat down on her bunk, while Autumn's Pikachu perched on a nearby chair. She looked down at the Poke Balls containing Drifter, Pinky, Cheeky and Delibird and sighed - it was going to be a long few hours.

  14. #14
    Java Girl Barb's Avatar Retired Staff
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    For a while I felt that the fandom had been written out, and then you go and prove me wrong by writing a wonderfully original work like this. I'm definitely looking forward to reading more, but if you don't mind me pointing a couple of things out:

    In chapter 7, I believe the word you're looking for is 'tumult,' not tummalt.

    Also, in chapter 6, the kids are swimming outside of the undersea complex, yet we're never told how deep the complex actually is. Scuba diving is restricted to about 300-350 feet at most; anything deeper and you need a submersible. The water pressure would crush you otherwise.

    The action in your chapters is well-paced, but I'd like to know a little more about why and how Aquarius was built, and what the people there actually do. Candida's parents are marine biologists, which makes sense, but what about the others? Are all 60 families made up of scientists?

    And why no contact with the outside world? Cables that currently lay under the ocean floor provide telephone and television services to various cities; why can't Aquarius have computers in order to perform experiments, do research, or just communicate with others? I can understand Team Midnight cutting off their communications in order to take over, but I can't understand a multimillion dollar underwater facility not having any communications to begin with.

  15. #15
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    Yeah, Barb's got a point with the whole communication's scenario. would be nice to know why they can't have communication. Unless it's like they're meant to be surviving without contact with the outside world...? except for food deliveries.

    Well, I'm enjoyin it. I tend not to look for plot holes (not the most helpful reader am i? ^^; ) I was just enjoying the fic.

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