Haha...if you don't like cliffhangers, you'll HATE this chapter. :P
And yes, it does mean a new character, as you'll see shortly.
I wish I got more views too. :P
And, with me completely disregarding my previous lack of motivation and supposed hiatus on this, I humbly present the sixth chapter. Ta-da.
Hailey had a Pokeball in hand, walking down the hallways. Her eyes darted around nervously; she was sure the man would ambush them, and the helmet radar didn’t work very well in cramped quarters like this. “Stay on the lookout,” she breathed over the connection.
At the end of the hallway, there was a large hole opening up into a large room. Hailey stopped by its edge and looked around. It seemed to be a large living room; there was a comfortable couch near the center facing a wall that held a large video screen. A warm-looking kitchen was visible on the opposite side of the room.
“Move in,” ordered Hailey, creeping into the room silently. “Undo your visors so you can hear.” Her own visor slid up into the helmet. She strained her ears for any noise, but heard nothing other than the gurgling of a pipe in a wall somewhere.
“Looks like there’s nothing in here,” Hailey observed. “Let’s split up and search. Nathan, you lead a group right, and-”
“Get out of my house,” said a voice off to Hailey’s right, gruff and angry. She whirled around to see a rather fat man with thick grey hair in a bathrobe. The Alakazam at his side made him more intimidating, however. The Pokemon was the size of a child, but it had a very angular head, with a wide top tapering down to a narrow chin. Its body was a pale yellow, with brown over thicker parts of its body, like armor. Two spoons rested loosely in its hands, which had three fingers with long, sharp nails.
“Did you go into a cave in the desert recently?” Hailey demanded, her hands clutching a Pokeball tightly.
“That’s not the issue here,” said the man. “You’ve broken down my door and entered my home. Leave now, before I call the police.”
“The police aren’t getting here any time soon,” Hailey pointed out. “Now you can tell me whether you captured a Pokemon in that cave, or we can do this the hard way.”
“I can fight you off if necessary. Houdini here isn’t my only Pokemon,” he said, indicating the Alakazam.
Hailey frowned and let out her Froslass, which hung in the air by her head, leering down at the Alakazam. “Did you go into that cave?” she repeated, with more force behind the words.
“Yes, I did. And what’s the problem?”
“Did you capture the Pokemon inside?” Hailey’s hand was already resting on another Pokeball.
“The big rock guy? Yeah, but I don’t know what the hell he is.”
“He’s crucial to our research. I must request you hand him over.”
“He must be rare, then,” mused the man, raising an eyebrow thoughtfully.
“Yes,” answered Hailey impatiently. “Now hand him over.”
“No,” the man replied simply.
“What did you say?” Hailey asked with a biting tone.
“I caught it, it’s mine by right. I’ll sell it to you, though, if you wish. Of course, the break-in will drive up the price…”
“Do not even consider extortion,” spat Hailey. “It will cause you bodily harm. What would your price be, though, if you were to offer the Pokemon?”
He scratched his unshaven chin, thinking. “Five million dollars,” he said, staring evenly at Hailey. “It’s probably one-of-a-kind, and I’m being generous. Five millions dollars, and you get the Pokemon along with a promise from me not to press charges.”
“I’ll pay four million,” Hailey said after a moment’s consideration. “Maximum.”
“Well, too bad. I’m not going any lower than five.”
“Yes you are, or you’ll be paying us to take it off your hands. Preferably with your life.”
“Was that a death threat?”
“I suppose it was,” Hailey said. The other Blizzard members were starting to spread out within the room. “What are you going to do about it?”
“Respond,” he said simply. “Houdini, use Psychic on anyone you can!” Alakazam looked directly at Robert, who was covered in a dark blue aura and thrown against the stone wall with a sickening crunch. He landed in a heap on the floor and did not move.
“Use Shadow Ball, Froslass!” Hailey cried, running away from the man and his Alakazam and pulling out a second Pokeball. “Glaceon, go!” The icy Pokemon appeared and stood between Hailey and the man.
“Houdini, use Focus Blast!” he yelled, pointing at Glaceon. A ball of focused blue energy shot at Glaceon, who was standing with its fur frozen into needles.
“Dodge it!” Hailey screeched, turning to address the others. “DO SOMETHING!”
They sent out various Pokemon; Hailey saw a Glalie, Sealo, Weavile, and Drapion, among others. Nathan had the Drapion and was fiercely giving orders. “Drapion, let out Toxic Spikes around them!” he yelled.
“WHERE IS REGIROCK?” thundered Hailey, Glaceon glaring threateningly.
“In my PC Box,” the man said, smirking. “Unfortunately for you, my account needs my fingerprint for access…”
“SEIZE HIM!” she screamed wildly, pointing at the man.
“Too late!” he roared, laughing over the pandemonium in the room and putting a hand on his Alakazam’s shoulder. “Teleport, Houdini!” The Pokemon closed its eyes for a brief moment before blinking out of existence.
Absolute silence filled the room. The Pokemon all stopped comically mid-attack, but no one laughed. Everyone’s attention was on Hailey. She blinked, her mind racing. He could be anywhere, and Regirock wasn’t on his person anyway.
At least in theory.
“He may have been lying,” Hailey announced, looking around the room. “Regirock may not be in his Box. Search the house. I’m going back, to get in contact with base. Get Robert’s body; we’ll have to bring him back to base and cremate him.”
The other Blizzard members nodded and started looking in drawers and under furniture, while a few others picked up Robert’s lifeless form. Hailey waited for a moment before walking out the way she came.
“So his name is Frank Earlson?” Hailey inquired, speaking to Jonathan over video chat back at the Mauville base. Nathan was standing at attention near the door in the room with Hailey.
“Yep. The heir of the man who invented TM’s. He’s damn rich, Hailey.”
“Stop being casual. Besides, it’s not like a poor person would have had that house. Can we break into his Pokemon storage Box?”
“I don’t think so, not from outside the system. We’d have to hold Lanette hostage or something.”
“That can be done…but it can wait. Just keep your eye on our friend Frank. Where is the government force now? That’s the more pressing issue.”
“They dropped off their cargo at the Lilycove research facility, back in the old Aqua base.”
“Should be simple enough to infiltrate, as long as our spies help us…we do have the blueprints to the place from Team Aqua…hopefully the government hasn’t renovated the place too much.” she paused. “Can you reserve two plane tickets to Lilycove?”
“Yes, Leader. From Mauville, I assume?”
“Of course. The screen you’re looking at displays our location, idiot.”
“Just making sure. First, second, or third class?”
“Second. I’d rather not draw attention, but I want some comfort.”
Jonathan tapped a few keys at his computer. “Done. Your flight leaves at 13:37. That should give you ample time.”
“Good. We have five hours. Time for sleep. Send us a skilled agent to meet us at the airport.”
“Affirmative. We’ve got six Elites here currently. I’ll send you Kilian.”
“He’ll be fine. Just make sure he’s there. Goodbye.” She ended the link.
“So, we get some sleep now?” asked Nathan.
“Just three and a half hours or so. We’ll have to sleep at the airport, though; I’m NOT missing that flight.”
“Okay. Should I put my Pokemon in the PC so I can retrieve them at Lilycove?”
“Of course. Keep something concealed for the plane, though. Just in case.”
“Flight 42 to Lilycove leaves in 15 minutes. Last call for Flight 42 to Lilycove.” The bored-sounding voice sounded over the loudspeaker in the crowded, modern airport.
“Dammit, Nathan, WHY didn’t you turn your alarm on? It’s a good thing I set a backup, otherwise we’d definitely miss our flight…I don’t know why I bother with you…now hurry...” Hailey and Nathan were running through the throngs of people in the airport, trying to reach the gate before it closed, in roughly five minutes.
“If we miss this, I swear, Nathan, I’ll-”
“We’re here,” Nathan pointed out, slowing down as they reached the gate. He fumbled in his jacket for the tickets. They were wearing everyday clothes; Hailey was wearing tight-fitting black jeans and a white tank top, with her hair let down for once. She was wearing heavy makeup to help disguise her, along with colored contact lenses which turned her eyes electric-blue.
“There,” Nathan said, giving the pair of tickets to the woman at the gate. She scanned them, ripped off the ends and handed them back, allowing Hailey and Nathan to walk onto the plane.
It was a relatively small aircraft, with two seats on each side. Hailey didn’t like boarding so late, as everyone’s eyes fell on them as they walked back to their second-class seats.
“Seats 11A and 12C,” Nathan said, looking at the labels along the edge of the overhead compartments.
Hailey wasn’t paying attention. She was giving everyone she passed a quick glance, making sure there was no one threatening. So far, she had seen fat businesspeople in first class, and mostly tourists in second. Suddenly, she paused. One man in Row 9 had met her gaze and was staring back without any real emotion in his eyes.
Hailey felt a cold chill go down her spine. There was no doubt who it was, but how was it possible…? The bearded man clenched his jaw and narrowed his eyes. Hailey blinked and went on to her seat behind Nathan. The encounter had put her on edge. She fell resolutely into the seat and buckled the seat belt, staring at the headrest in front of her.
“What?” asked Nathan quizzically, looking back.
“Not now,” she breathed. “Later.” She glanced at the person beside her. He looked to be about her age, perhaps slightly younger. He had dark hair and sea-green eyes, and was looking at her with something beyond an ordinary glance.
Damn these low-cut tank tops, she thought angrily. She was so often wrapped in thick jackets and surrounded by underlings that she forgot about her slim figure attracting attention. Or rather, the upper area of said figure, which was not quite as slim. The problem was, normally, Hailey could simply order the gawking person to stop, or else punish them. She had forgotten how to act outside of situations where she was in control.
“Hi,” she said awkwardly, shifting uncomfortably.
“Hi,” the teenager replied. “I’m Neal. What’s your name?”
Hailey hesitated for a brief second, then took a chance. “Hailey,” she answered. No one’s going to recognize me in clothes like this, or wearing all this makeup, she reasoned.
“Are you a Trainer?” Neal inquired.
“Yes,” Hailey said. “Are you?”
“Yeah. I’ve got seven badges,” he told her, puffing his chest out proudly. Oh, crap, thought Hailey. The horny idiot punk's full of himself too. I’ll take him down a notch.
“Cool,” she said with a ghost of a smile. “I’ve beaten the Elite Four.” I love when I don’t even have to lie to intimidate people, she thought.
“Wow,” Neal said, impressed. “How come I’ve never heard of you?”
“Well, I lost in the actual Championship tournament, and in an early round,” she explained. “And it was almost three years ago, as well as in Sinnoh.”
“Ah. Damn,” he acknowledged. “I’ve been training for three years and I’ve still not gotten all eight badges to qualify for the Hoenn League Challenge. I might make it this year and manage to beat the Elite Four in time for the Championship Tournament, but we’ll see…”
Hailey almost answered him, but the plane shot forward at great speed, pushing her back into her seat. After the pleasant voice of the attendant announced that they had reached cruising altitude, Hailey undid her seatbelt and went into the bathroom.
The room was cramped; even for someone as skinny as Hailey, it was uncomfortable. On top of that, it smelled as if it hadn’t been cleaned in months. Wrinkling her nose, she activated her wrist communicator, sending a quick message to Nathan. I think I saw Todd when we came in, she wrote. He’s on row 9. I don’t know how it’s him, but I’m almost positive it is. I don’t know if he recognized me. Don’t attract attention. ~Hailey
Nathan turned around and looked at her, looking worried. She mouthed Later, and sat back down next to Neal.
“So, how’d you lose in the tournament? If you don’t my asking.”
Hailey looked at him, slightly less tolerating of him than before. “Cynthia was my opponent in the second round,” she told him. “It was a close one, though. Her Lucario was the only Pokemon left; it barely beat my Glaceon.”
“Ooohhh, I remember that match, actually,” Neal responded eagerly. “I watched it in a Pokemon Center in. Everyone was going crazy; it was almost the earliest loss of an incumbent Champion in over a decade. You look way different.”
“I certainly hope so,” she told him sincerely. “Anyways, times change. I don’t train so much anymore.”
“Yeah…why are you going to Lilycove?”
“Seeing a Contest,” she replied unflinchingly. The cover story was decided on before reaching the airport. “I might check out the art museum, too.”
“All right,” he said. An awkward silence followed inexplicably, and Neal turned and looked out the window for the remainder of the trip. Meanwhile, Hailey checked up on the surveillance of Frank Earlson. Apparently, he had gone to his mansion in Mossdeep after catching a quick flight from Fallarbor.
More quickly than Hailey would have thought, the plane hit the ground, sliding to a neat stop on the runway and rolling into the gate. Hailey got up quickly once hey were allowed and went to Nathan. “Stay a decent ways behind me until we get out of the airport,” she whispered to him. “If that really is Todd, we can’t take chances. I don’t know if he recognized me, but he probably will if he sees you too. You can meet up with Kilian, wherever he is. I’ll meet you both outside the Cove Lily Motel; do you know where that is?”
“Yes,” Nathan hissed back. “My family lived in Lilycove for about a year when I was eleven or so. We’ll see you there. In the meantime, I’ll watch Todd. You should get out first, and lose yourself in the crowd so he doesn’t notice you.”
“Don’t give me orders,” Hailey said reprovingly. “I’m in charge. Either way, sounds like a plan. I’ll go.” They nodded briefly at each other, and then Hailey left, subtly fighting through the mass of people both on the plane and milling around outside the gate. She was much more alert than her lazy stride and slouching posture would suggest; Todd could be anywhere. Paranoia striking her, she chanced a glance over her shoulder. To her distress, Todd- or at least the man very much like Todd- was very close behind her, talking animatedly with a middle-aged matronly woman who had two small children at her side. Unfortunately, Todd glanced away from the lady and met Hailey’s gaze once more, his eyes narrowing just as they had previously. Hailey hastily tore her eyes away and kept walking, this time with more erect posture.
No matter how much she thought about it, there was nothing she knew of that would have allowed Todd to escape all that ice. He should have died of hypothermia in half an hour or so. There was no way he could have broken through the ice. So how the hell could he have gotten out? Her mind gave no answers.
Another glance over her shoulder revealed that Todd was still behind her, though a ways back. Just a coincidence, she told herself. After all, she was just exiting the airport from the front door. She continued on, trying to get to the motel as quickly as possible. By instinct, she reached for a Pokeball. Empty space was all that met her fingertips. Damn, she thought. I had to leave them in the box, and I don’t have time to go to a Pokemon Center…
Her pace quickened again as she briskly walked down the sidewalks. A strong desire to look behind herself again was building, but she held it in check. She didn’t want to seem so suspicious. Spotting an alley, she darted to her right, hoping she’d lose Todd if he was still pursuing.
Hailey broke into a light jog as she went down the dark, smelly, unused alley. There was nothing but high walls of masonry on either side, rising up at least ten stories. No windows broke the hard, unforgiving façade. No sunlight fell into the shadows of the old residential buildings.
Silence, too, filled the alley, unlike anywhere else in the city she had been so far. Her swift footsteps echoed loud and clear between the stone walls. The eerie feeling now spreading from her head down to her toes caused her to speed up yet again. Now she was sprinting full-out. She saw a large, green dumpster and got behind it, trying to slow her breathing rate. Once she had calmed herself down, she peeked around the edge of the rusty dumpster.
Todd was walking steadily down the alley. While he was too far away to determine any facial expression, Hailey knew he could not have good intentions, especially if he knew who she was.
All right, she thought, concealing herself again. Don’t panic. I have more grit than that. Now I need backup. She pulled out her communicator and started typing a message to Nathan.
In an alley, Todd still following. Find me. ~Hailey
Stowing the communicator again, Hailey crushed herself against the filthy dumpster, taking up as little space as possible. She could barely stand the knowledge of what she was leaning against, but currently she was more worried about the burly man coming down the alley. After all, she had been fairly sure she had killed him.
Slow, deliberate footsteps were now the only thing breaking the silence of the narrow street. Ever closer they sounded. Hailey’s heart was pounding with incredible force against her ribs. She felt sure that it was making enough noise to alert Todd to her position. All she could do now was wait.
The footsteps slowed into a stop, or else they were silent. They had sounded incredibly close before the sound disappeared. Hailey hardly dared breathe. Blood pounded around her ears. The sound consumed everything. Conscious thought was barely happening. All she knew was anticipation and fear.
Todd stepped around the dumpster and looked her straight in the face. For a moment, they did nothing but stare at each other. Hailey looked into his eyes and saw no fear, only determination and rage.
“What an exciting reunion,” Todd said, emotionless.
I really have a problem with ending chapters in cliffhangers. I swear it's a disease, they just haven't come up with a name for it yet.