So…great news. Anyone who’s been following this so much that, despite the fact that I said I wasn’t coming back until the back half of August, you still checked the site every once in a while to see if I had posted a new chapter, you’re in luck! I just got a new laptop, and the thing r0xx0rs, in a word. And I also have a bit of ‘net access in the mornings before my dad gets up to hog it, so I’ve decided to make an early return here.
With that said, I present you with likely my favorite written chapter so far.
Ye olde Revolution Johto fans shall salivate.
Okay, let’s roll.
Chapter 11: One Journey Ends
June 5, PA 2013 - Route 105
Captain Devlin, Arnaz, and several other crew members looked on as a makeshift coffin bearing the body of Ferdinand Devlin, veteran pirate and captain of the Selma, floated further and further out to sea, eventually disappearing into the distance.
“You doin’ alright, man?” Arnaz asked as the pirates began to scatter.
“I’m trying to figure out what I should do,” Devlin replied. “I’m not sure about risking my entire crew to go chasing after one girl...especially for a guy that I don’t know very well.”
“Yeah, well....” Arnaz sighed. “You’re the Captain, so we’ll follow you whatever you do. Where is that kid, anyway?”
“He’s holed up in his room down below,” Devlin replied. “I haven’t seen him at all since yesterday and, now that it’s mid-afternoon...”
“Aw, man, he’s taking it hard,” Arnaz groaned. “That’s exactly why kids his age shouldn’t get too attached to each other.”
“Hey, you shouldn’t say that,” Devlin answered. “Those two must be close for a reason.”
“Don’t know,” Arnaz commented, shrugging his shoulders. “I’ve never seen two like them before. Most kids their age would have gone running scared at what happened yesterday – especially if they’d never fought at sea before. But those two...they just hung right in there – almost like this was something they’d done together a hundred times. Hey, Royce...you don’t think...”
“Don’t be nuts, Arnaz,” Devlin interrupted. “How old are they both? Fifteen, if that? I’m being generous here.”
“Maybe you should go and talk to him,” Arnaz said.
“Bad idea,” Royce Devlin replied. “He’s already very upset, and we don’t want to make anything worse.”
“Tch...yesterday was such a disaster,” Arnaz groaned.
“That’s why I’m not sure about going after Carrigan,” Devlin answered. “...and even if we decide to pursue him, we don’t know exactly where he is.”
“So, we just stand still until you can make some sort of decision, then?” Arnaz asked. “You know, the Imperials are still out there...”
“The Solaris didn’t seem to want anything to do with us yesterday,” Devlin replied. “It’s strange...they had us and then...they just let us go.”
“We could land in at Dewford like we planned, then just plan what to do from there,” Arnaz suggested.
“What in the name of Davy Jones are you thinking?” Devlin asked in an unnaturally high voice. “She’ll probably be dead by then!”
“Well...what do you suggest we do?” Arnaz asked. “You don’t wanna chase Carrigan, and you don’t wanna just go to Dewford and ignore it. Is there a third option, or maybe a fourth?”
“No, because all my other options fall under ‘ignore it’,” Devlin groaned. “I don’t have any options.”
“You’ve got a good point,” Arnaz replied. “Well, we’d better make a move quick, either way. I don’t like the idea of sitting here waiting for the Imperials to eat us alive.”
Her eyes opened and she immediately felt pain in her arms, almost as if they were being stretched above her body. In fact, her entire body hurt. It felt as if someone had slammed her into a brick wall...several times. She shook her head to attempt to clear wet and disheveled pink hair out of her face. She let out a groan as her eyes focused and she quickly realized that she was hanging several feet off the ground – by her wrists. Looking up at her was none other than the new captain of the Sapphire Skull pirates, Robert Carrigan. His prized zanbato was conspicuous by its absence. However, it had been replaced by a whip, and the bosun-turned-captain did not appear to have good intentions with the lashing weapon.
“You’re awake,” Carrigan grunted. To Carrigan’s left (from Katrina’s vantage point) stood a youth wearing a blue hood over an orange shirt.
“You’re alive,” Katrina replied, the strength in her body and voice returning.
“Sorry to disappoint you,” Carrigan commented. “I’ve gotta admit, that reckless charge of yours took me by surprise. But you forgot one important rule of hunting – never wound what you can’t kill.”
She stared defiantly at Carrigan – there wasn’t much he could do to her that would be worse than what she had already gone through. There was no pain he could inflict on her that she hadn’t already felt. Carrigan cracked his whip, laughing. Katrina steeled herself. She braced as he raised the whip –
“Sir!” Carrigan stopped as he heard a voice behind him. By process of elimination (the elimination being that there was no one else in the room), Carrigan singled out the hooded boy with the scar on his cheek.
“Clayton, what is it?” Carrigan asked.
“I believe as the newly-appointed bosun, this is my job,” Clayton commented. “You have more important matters to attend to, do you not?”
“What’s your angle?” Carrigan asked suspiciously. Then, smiling nastily, he settled on what he thought was the answer and added, “Ah – I see. If that’s what you’d like, then I’ll leave you to do your – ahem – business.”
“Alright, Captain,” Clayton said a bit impatiently. Carrigan dropped the whip in Clayton’s hands before exiting the chamber. Clayton looked over his shoulder and then dropped the whip on the ground.
“Clayton...” Katrina repeated incredulously. “So, that’s your name.”
Clayton walked up to where Katrina was hanging from the ceiling. He backed away and pulled out his sword. Her eyes widened – he was going to kill her! He reared back without a word and tomahawked the sword. About a second out of his hand, Katrina realized that the sword was going to miss high. As soon as she went to breathe a sigh of relief, the blade cut through the twine rope and she let out a scream as she began to fall. To her great shock, she ended up in the arms of Clayton, who set her gently down onto the floor soon after. Still silent, Clayton walked past Katrina toward the wall, where his sword was lodged. As he leapt high into the air, Katrina felt a slight breeze. She was a bit surprised at a few things. First of all, Clayton had cut her free. Secondly, she didn’t know a whole lot of people that could jump that high with that little effort. It was almost as if he had mastered gravity.
He landed calmly on the ground and sheathed his sword. He then reached down for Katrina’s wrists. She shook out of nerves momentarily as this boy quietly went about doing his task. It turns out that he was trying to untie her wrists from the twine. She opened and closed her hands repeatedly to return the circulation, as well as favoring her wrists, where the rope had eaten into them and left deep, crimson imprints in her skin.
“Are you alright, Katrina?” Clayton asked.
“Hm?” Katrina wanted Clayton to repeat himself – she wasn’t sure he’d heard him correctly.
“That’s your name, isn’t it?” Clayton replied. Katrina was unconvinced. “Are you alright?”
“I’ve felt better,” Katrina said, lifting herself into a sitting position against the wall. “How long was I out?”
“Almost a full day,” Clayton replied. With a disgusted-looking facial expression, he informed her, “Carrigan wanted to wait to torture you until you woke up. He likes hearing his victims scream, of course.”
“But you saved me,” Katrina commented.
“Of course I did,” Clayton said, as if Katrina should have been expecting this.
“What now?” Katrina asked.
“For now, just let me do all of the talking,” Clayton replied.
He sat at the table with his face buried in his hands. He had been here for what seemed like an eternity, brooding in the self-inflicted darkness of his quarters. He pulled his face from his hands and gazed across the dark room at the other bed – a bed that was empty. It was a bed that should have and would have been occupied, but now...
Part of him was still in shock. He couldn’t believe that she had been captured. He felt like half of himself – like a part of his soul had been ripped away from him. He wondered where she was – or, even, if she was.
His fists clenched.
They were going to pay.
All of them.
He would find them – no matter what it took...
...and he would cut them down, one by one.
Last of all, he would get Carrigan.
He would torture and kill Carrigan in the slowest, most painful way possible...
...and enjoy every minute of it.
Carrigan deserved a spot in the deepest, darkest, dankest corner of hell. He would grant him that.
Carrigan would wish for death to deliver him...and it would come, but oh, so slowly.
He would love to watch a crimson river gush forth from Carrigan’s cooling and decaying corpse, until there was no blood left.
...until there was no life left.
A loud rap on the door snapped him into alertness. Slowly, he stood and trudged around the desk to the door. As he opened it, the sudden intake of light blinded him and put his eyes out of focus. Once he could see properly again, he stepped forward.
“You’re here to make fun of me, aren’t you?” he said to the two standing outside his door. “Forget it. I’m not in a good mood.”
He turned around, attempting to shut the door behind him. The girl motioned to the young man behind her, who quickly stepped in front and grabbed the door before it shut, showing himself and the girl inside. Travis didn’t see who it was, but one of them flipped on a light switch, because the room was completely illuminated in a matter of seconds.
“You need some sunlight,” the young man behind him suggested. “You’re going to turn all pasty – then I’ll be forced to laugh at you.”
“I’m not in the mood for jokes right now – especially bad ones,” Travis said without turning around. “What’s your angle, anyway? Why are you being so helpful all of a sudden?”
“Because I want to,” the young man said. “What harm am I doing?”
“Don’t ******** me, Kenjiro,” Travis turned around quickly and barked. “You don’t help anyone unless you want something in return.”
“I don’t want anything – nothing except what I already asked from you,” Kenjiro commented. “And, it’s only been about three weeks, but I know you well enough to know you won’t be able to do it in a state like this.”
“Isn’t that so sensitive?” Travis replied sarcastically. “You’re trying to cozy up to everyone nowadays, but I see right through you, Kenjiro.”
Kenjiro walked behind Reivyn and whispered something into her ear. Reivyn turned around and seemed to protest, but Kenjiro told her something else and she seemed to understand at that point. She embraced him around the waist – a gesture that he returned – and walked out of the room, closing the door behind her.
“Okay, so...what’s your story?” Kenjiro asked, sitting down rather relaxed in his chair.
“What?” Travis seemed very incredulous.
“Tell me how the two of you became the way you are,” Kenjiro said. “I want to know – everything you can remember.”
“Why don’t you tell me your story first?” Travis said, sitting on the bed and eyeing Kenjiro distrustfully.
“Why don’t you tell me yours?” Kenjiro countered. Then, sighing, he added, “Look – we could do this all day. There’s someone else I’d like to tell everything to...and I haven’t told her yet, so you’ll have to wait your turn.”
”Have youtried being friends with Kenjiro? Just once?”
“Fine,” Travis said tersely, pulling what looked like some sort of paper out of his pocket and flicking it in Kenjiro’s direction. It floated in the air like a leaf in the wind for several seconds before Kenjiro finally caught it, investigated, and turned to Travis.
“This is a...picture,” Kenjiro commented, sounding confused.
“That’s back from when my life was almost normal – actually, a little bit better,” Travis replied. “I had a promising career in Pokémon Training, national media spotlight...and, look – I was with the girl of my dreams.”
“When was this?” Kenjiro asked.
“Turn the picture around and find out,” Travis replied. Kenjiro, an intrigued look on his face, did so, and let out a slight gasp.
“This picture is dated from nearly two years ago,” Kenjiro commented. “You two have been together since then?”
“Not just together – inseparable,” Travis replied. A sensation of burning needles pricked the corners of his eyes. Determined not to allow Kenjiro the satisfaction of witnessing this, Travis looked toward the wall and added, “It’s been just about two years since we’ve been apart like this. Anyway, life was good back then. I’d been leaked some info about a supposed terrorist group, but it wasn’t my responsibility – not yet. Just about a week or two after that, I got the sword. That’s when everything went to hell. This supposed ‘terrorist’ was actually a demon prince with a droid army – and it was up to me to stop him.”
“That was the war in Johto I kept hearing about,” Kenjiro sighed.
“Nobody knows more about it than the two of us,” Travis said. “I was just thirteen, and I had to lead an army of Johto’s best fighters into battle. The first one was a sea battle – not that different from what just happened yesterday. People had already switched sides and given their lives to let me escape...and things only got worse.”
Kenjiro didn’t say a word.
“About a month later,” Travis replied, “we battled in a fort south of Blackthorn City. Katrina, though...she slipped off to help the flank to the west. In three days, we were both back at Blackthorn City. The army I led lost entirely. The detachment she was in won their battle. I woke up to the news that my grandfather – a man I loved and respected and tried as best as I could to model my life after...my mentor... – was murdered. And the next thing I found out was that she had been attacked...and they basically told me that they didn’t expect her to survive. That was my breaking point – I gave up. I left the city and went to kill myself. But then...”
Kenjiro looked up and saw Travis literally shaking.
“She was alive,” Travis croaked. “She came after me and, right as I went to jump...she stopped me. She brought me back to my senses, and we went back together. The first day of September...”
“I don’t need to hear anymore,” Kenjiro said, quickly standing up. His heart was pounding, and he thought in that moment that he would have rather been forced to fight the boy than to see all of this. This was...too much even for someone as stoic as him to take.
“I’m not through yet,” Travis snarled. “We finished our fight in a crater – and then came face-to-face with the man that had ruined my life. Imagine being in a place with a red sky and nothing but dry, cracked earth for miles and miles – as far as the eye can see and even beyond that! That was where we had to finish it. That’s where I saw him for the first time.”
“Who?” Kenjiro asked. Travis let out three ragged breaths, his azure eyes glazing over and his face contorted, like one trying to hold back a terrible scream of agony.
“My enemy – the man whose existence changed me forever,” Travis said. His face hardening, he looked straight into Kenjiro’s eyes and said clearly, “Lord Angelos.”
“Angelos...?” Kenjiro muttered, leaning forward in his chair. He felt much like the reader of a horror novel – a story that was too sick and twisted for him to want to continue on reading, and yet, too enthralling for him to put down.
“And then we fought,” Travis replied in a hollow, deadpan voice. “It was like something out of the Apocalypse, but...”
“You won?” Kenjiro asked.
“Would I be able to sit here and talk about it if I hadn’t?” Travis answered. “We won...I survived, but just barely. When I came out of there, I had everything from stab wounds in my chest and face to a shattered right leg. They told me at first that I could forget any more traveling – said I’d be lucky if I could walk the same again after my injuries. But I wouldn’t take no for an answer. So I came back. It took me two years, but I did it – and I’ll be damned if anyone takes it away from me again!”
He was on his feet, a determined and laser-focused rage coursing white-hot through his veins. Kenjiro looked into those eyes and nearly felt his heart stop.
“I want my life back,” Travis said simply and calmly. “That’s why I came out here. So, you see – I didn’t need any of your extra incentives at all. I just needed you to stay out of my way.”
“It’s a good feeling to have a life of your own,” Kenjiro said. Looking up at Travis, he continued, “It’s something I’ve been working on for damn near five years...”
“It’s easier trying to find it for the first time than trying to get it back,” Travis answered significantly.
There was a long silence. Kenjiro heaved a sigh.
“Since she’s acting in the name of the Prince, I guess we can’t just leave her, anyway,” he finally droned. “It’d put us in one hell of a bind if the Imperials got her and found out she was working for Prince Elrik. The shock of knowing that he’s alive is one thing, but if they found out he was over an underground movement with designs on yanking the throne from Edgar...”
“All about the mission, hm?” Travis sighed. “Y’know, I was right about you.”
“Sorry I can’t spare any sympathy for you,” Kenjiro said, a grimace contorting his face. “You take care of yourself way too well. Even if I cared, that wouldn’t help you much. You already have everything you need – more or less. Other people, though...”
Travis could have sworn that he saw Kenjiro’s eyes dart to the door momentarily before they focused on him again.
“In any case, I’ll help you,” Kenjiro continued. “Like I have much of a choice...”
“Using force?” Travis asked.
“If asking nicely doesn’t do the trick,” Kenjiro replied. “That’s how you would do things, isn’t it?”
“If I had time for negotiations,” Travis muttered.
“These are still negotiations – just aggressive ones,” Kenjiro replied. “I’ll talk to Devlin first. We don’t need you to do anything rash.”
Travis laughed bitterly – a mirthless laugh – then he stared a hole into Kenjiro’s soul, the normal warmth in his blue eyes ascending to an unbearable and piercing flame within seconds, the smile completely gone from his face.
“You already know I don’t trust you,” Travis growled in a low tone. “But you might save me some energy, so we’ll try things your way. If you can’t find a way to convince him by the time the sun comes up tomorrow, we’re switching over to my plan.”
He made no attempt to hide a flick of his eyes that directed Kenjiro’s attention to the bed behind him. There, on the bare mattress, was a picture of the girl that would normally rest there, along with a katana seemingly trembling in its curved, white sheath.
“That qualifies as rash,” Kenjiro commented, the color going from his face a bit.
“Maybe...but I just realized something,” Travis said. Kenjiro’s curious silence prompted him to continue: “If you applied your ‘anything goes’ attitude to actually caring about somebody...we really wouldn’t be that much different, would we?”
“Okay, fine...sunrise tomorrow is more than enough time,” Kenjiro replied. “You just stay in here and try not to break anything – like a face or even a pirate ship, for instance.”
Kenjiro stood and walked toward the door. Taking one last look at Travis and then shutting the light off, he shut the door behind him, enveloping Travis in darkness once again. He took off at a brisk walk up onto the deck. Almost as if she knew he was coming, Reivyn turned around and came running toward him.
“You’re here,” Reivyn said, almost as if she was surprised.
“Yeah, I...survived, I guess,” Kenjiro replied, not quite meeting Reivyn’s eyes.
“Survived? I know he’s scary when he’s angry, but...” Reivyn trailed off.
“We’ve got until tomorrow. He should be close to healthy by then,” Kenjiro sighed. “After that, all hell’s gonna break loose on this ship.”
“What do you mean by that?” Reivyn asked.
“He’s got this ship hostage,” Kenjiro replied. “He said I have until sunrise tomorrow before...”
“Kenji...you’re shaking,” Reivyn said. Kenjiro looked at his hand, which was indeed trembling.
“He told me...horrific things,” Kenjiro said, trying to steel his shaking hand.
Katrina sat down on the bed. The rooms on this ship weren’t as nice as those on the Natus, but still...a cot beat the floor of a torture chamber anytime. These beds were harder and slightly smaller than the ones on Devlin’s ship. This room, however, was slightly larger and had more space as it was a single, and a room reserved for the higher-ups. This was the bosun’s room, which had belonged to Carrigan before Ferdinand made him the Selma’s new Captain. At that point, it was passed on to this strong but mysterious Clayton fellow that had seen fit to rescue Katrina from her torture. Now that she thought on it, the name ‘Clayton’ sounded very familiar...
“Drink this – it’ll help you get your strength back – and probably cheer you up, to boot,” Clayton said, offering Katrina a mug. Katrina put her nose over it and took in the aroma of her favorite hot tea. A coincidence? No...there were only a handful of people – three of them male – that knew that this was her favorite tea. “The winds of change are blowing. It looks like it’s time for me to follow them.”
“What do you mean?” Katrina asked.
“I might be needed somewhere else now,” Clayton replied. “This atmosphere is sort of...uncomfortable nowadays. I got to know Ferdinand pretty well. He was actually a good man...but his grief and his anger at his own inadequacy as a father and husband turned him bitter. He wanted to...get rid of all reminders of his failure. The only thing he did right was taking in Carrigan, who was an orphan he found at sea, on the run from the law.”
“Needed somewhere else?” Katrina asked.
“Somewhere where I can help people,” Clayton said. “I have to atone for my sins – especially against you.”
“Against me?” Katrina asked. “Have we met before?”
“You met the person that became what you see here in front of you,” Clayton sighed. “I don’t like to talk about him – and I’m sure you wouldn’t, either.”
Katrina set her mug down.
“I’d like to thank you for helping us,” she said, standing up.
“It’s the least I could do, I guess – hm?” Clayton felt two hands taking his from behind. He turned around and, to his great shock, saw Katrina leaning in as if she wanted to kiss him. “What do you think you’re doing? Don’t you already have someone –“
“He doesn’t need to know, does he?” Katrina asked, a mischievous grin on her face. She inched in closer, closer...
At the last possible second, she threw her hand up to Clayton’s head and yanked his hood off. Backing up a step, she got a good look at his face.
“Good move,” the revealed boy said, a half-smile flashing on his somewhat deadened-looking face for a second.
“You’re not the only one who’s changed,” Katrina replied.
“You’re not the same innocent little girl anymore,” the boy said, turning around. “I can’t say I’m surprised.”
“You fool...why didn’t you tell me sooner?” Katrina asked, clenching her fists.
“Because I know you wouldn’t trust me if I told you who I was,” the boy replied.
“You left with a lot of secrets,” Katrina said. “You didn’t tell us that you were Lugia’s Swordbearer...the one that desires to bring peace and balance of powers...”
“I didn’t know myself...for a while,” the boy said.
There was a long silence after this.
“Listen...” Katrina said, turning the boy around and embracing him. Her voice breaking, she pleaded, “Go back home. Your family hasn’t seen you in two years and they’re worried to death.”
“They’ll get along fine without me. All I ever did was burden them,” the boy replied. He let go of Katrina and walked toward the door, sighing, “Sorry about all this...”
“Don’t you walk out on me...” Katrina shouted, finishing the statement with the boy’s full name. The boy, registering the use of his full name, which was only used by his family members and the very few friends he’d had through his lifetime, stopped dead in his tracks and turned around. “I forgive you – but that doesn’t do any of us any good if you won’t forgive yourself!”
“First off, don’t call me that,” the boy growled. “Second – do you have any idea what it’s like to have someone’s blood on your hands? A life that you loved and could have saved, but failed?”
“Why didn’t you tell us you were involved in the war? We could have helped you!” Katrina said.
“Third, don’t yell,” the boy said. “I’m risking a lot by having you up here, and I can only get away with it because I’m pretty much second-in-command now and because Carrigan’s mind is always in the gutter. Fourth...he’d never forgive me for keeping you from him for so long. That’s why I need to get you back.”
“We’ve both learned that it doesn’t do anyone any good to hold grudges against people,” Katrina replied. Then, remembering a conversation she’d had with Travis about someone else, she corrected herself and said, “At least, I’ve learned...’
“I know how much it would hurt him to be away from you after all this,” the boy said. “The old me would have used that information as a weapon.”
“I have a question,” Katrina replied. “Do you know a girl named Avril Pennington?”
“No,” the boy replied.
“Did you know any girl that was named Avril?” Katrina replied. The boy’s eyes became sunken and dead.
“She was my first love,” the boy said. “I met her during the war, and everything about me changed. But then Fate had to punish me for my wrongdoings...it took her away from me. She’s dead.”
“Are you sure?” Katrina asked.
“She was on Angelos’ airship when it blew up!” the boy turned around, yelling. “Nobody survives that! And I thought the Penningtons didn’t have any children!”
“They didn’t – until after you disappeared,” Katrina replied. “Then, they adopted a teenage girl. She’s become one of my best friends, actually. It’ll make you happy to hear that she’s doing well.”
“Why? I don’t know her,” the boy replied, turning around. “Even though I treated you really badly, this is a cruel trick to play on someone. I’m leaving.”
“No, you aren’t,” Katrina retorted, her baby-blue eyes glowing. The boy tried to push the door open and found that he could not. He turned around. With a tough look on her face, Katrina snarled, “I purposely got myself captured so I could get onto this ship and talk to you. You’re going to hear me out!”
“Stop yelling,” the boy pleaded. “Carrigan’s going to find us.”
“You can’t honestly convince me that you’re afraid of him!” Katrina exclaimed. “You have one of the Three Legendary Swords.”
“Three?” the boy repeated. Katrina smirked.
“A-ha...out of the loop, are we?” she said. “Looks like I have lots to tell you. Now, if you will, turn around for a second.”
The boy turned around and heard a rustling behind him. Ten seconds later, Katrina’s voice sounded and she said, “Okay, you can look now.”
Katrina was standing there with an envelope. By process of elimination, he figured that she must have hid it somewhere under her top. Was she trying to deliver this to him specifically?
“What the hell is that?” the boy asked.
“A greeting card,” Katrina answered. “For you.”
She held out the card and, nervously, he took it. His hands trembling, he opened it. He got it out back-first and recognized the PennBriar Greetings logo immediately. He turned it around and saw what looked like a hand-painted drawing that was divided into two main elements. In the lower left-hand corner of the card was a pink, butterfly-like creature with huge eyes and big, white wings with black markings. He recognized it immediately as a female Butterfree. She seemed to be perched on a tree. He looked at the other side, which had the same creature, except of an indigo color and flying high in the air. He opened the card and read the words.
“Here’s hoping you flutter back to me one day,” he said, sounding shocked. What got him more is, where there would normally be a name or a signature, there seemed to be a piece of paper that had been folded several times, taped to the inside of the card. He took it out and opened it.
If you’re reading this letter, then it means that I made a very lucky guess about where you’d be next. I’m not sure exactly why you left New Bark Town, but I hope you come home soon. I really miss you. Maybe Katrina told you already (I gave this letter to her, hoping that she would find you somewhere), but I survived the war and the explosion of the airship...somehow. You might think it’s crazy, but right between the time the ship exploded and when I passed out, I saw this huge, white bird. I think it might have been a Pokémon, but what Pokémon would spend its time trying to save my life? I haven’t figured it out yet.
In any case, someone found me right outside of New Bark Town and took me to an orphanage. It wasn’t long before a couple from your neighborhood found me. They’re my parents now.
His hands shook continuously and the constant pulling and tugging threatened to tear the letter in two. Katrina jumped up and guided Nate to his bed, holding onto both of his hands to keep them steady as he continued to read.
I hope you haven’t forgotten about me after all this time. I haven’t forgotten about you at all. There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think about you and hope and wish that you’ll come home soon.
I guess I’ve been adjusting pretty well to a peaceful life. I learned how to play guitar and I write music from time to time. I still remember how to fence and I’ve been giving lessons, so if Katrina pulls a sword on someone, don’t be surprised. I own a Butterfree – it’s my favorite Pokémon. Someone must have thought me to be attractive because Mrs. Sasano came to me and asked me to model for her clothing line. I turned her down, though. I don’t plan on going anywhere until I see you again.
I made this card for you because I knew that you’d recognize what it meant to us...and, guess what? My parents liked it so much that they put it into their line of greeting cards. It’s being sold nationwide now. I’ve never forgotten what you said to me on the beach that day. Now that it’s happened, I want you to come back home so we can fly free together.
Please come home when you’re ready. I’m waiting for you, just like you told me right before you went out to fight.
I’m still waiting for you.
P.S. – I’m sorry about this, but this picture is how I look now. Not too impressive, I know. I hope you didn’t cut your hair – it looked okay long.
Sure enough, a picture of Avril was taped onto the bottom of the letter. Nate looked down and saw a positively radiant-looking teenage girl. This was her, no doubt, but she looked so much different. Her tall, slender form indicated that she had grown significantly over two years. Her long, flaxen hair was no longer flyaway, but straight. It went halfway down her back. She also had beautiful, symmetrical bangs that covered her forehead and came to a rest just short of her shining, silver eyes. She was smiling broadly and the shine coming from her straight, even teeth (not like they hadn’t been before) was one of many – she wore silver earrings that had narrow, straight chains of silver hanging down from them at a length of about two inches. Nate could almost hear them chiming in the wind. She also wore a necklace around her neck that was almost unmistakably a Butterfree. She wore a green shirt that was see-through at the midriff, as well as white pants. Across her knees (as she was sitting down) was an acoustic guitar.
“She’s...beautiful...” Nate whispered, his hands now shaking too much for him to hold anything. The letter, the card, the picture, and the envelope all floated to the ground at once. Six hundred and forty-four days – he had counted every single one. His convulsing hands found relative rest in the vicinity of the cross-shaped scar he had received on his left cheek six hundred and forty-four days ago...the scar that symbolized his fateful decision to follow the path of light.
Six hundred and forty-four days, he had mourned inwardly, silently, hidden from the rest of the world, and for many of the six hundred and forty-three nights that interposed them, he dreamt – about that fateful crater, and the sight of that airship catching fire hundreds of feet above the ground. And some of those nights, he dreamt wildly that, whether on this side or the next, they were reunited.
But he never imagined that it could happen.
For six hundred and forty-four days, his dreams had kept him barely holding on, with the knowledge that, in slumber, he would see her again, if only for a few moments.
But now those dreams were a reality. So suddenly had she been taken away from him...and six hundred and forty-four days later, just as suddenly, she had been given back. The dam that had held back his pain for nearly two full years burst forth in spectacular fashion. It was now that Katrina realized how tormented his soul was. Silently, she pulled away from him, lost in thought for a moment. He had taken her good news as permission to finally release the pain that had been haunting him for all this time.
Someone else she knew – and loved – had done so in a similar moment...
She blinked slowly. Almost before she realized it, two warm trickles slid down her cheeks, stinging a cut or two she had sustained in her last fight. Wiping her face, she looked up and, as feeble as she knew from experience that her comfort would be in a moment like this, put an arm around him.
“You don’t have to suffer anymore, Nate,” she said.
“She’s alive,” Nate sighed. He emerged from his hands, tears running down his cheeks at a steady, quick rate. “I never for a second dreamed that – I thought there was no way – I don’t know what to do.”
“Do what the letter says,” Katrina said. “As soon as this ship hits land, go home and find her.”
“She is...alive?” Nate asked. “Is this...really for real?”
“I didn’t come all this way just to lie to you,” Katrina answered.
“What do you need me to do?” Nate asked after a long silence. “I’ll do anything to repay you – anything!!”
“I need this ship to go to Dewford Island,” Katrina said. “We both do. I can see Travis again once we’re on land, and you can catch the next ship going back to Johto to see Avril.”
“Carrigan would never go for it,” Nate sighed.
“We’ll just have to remove him from the picture, then, won’t we?” Katrina replied a bit fiercely.
Nate looked back at her. One look at her eyes told him that she meant business.