Summary: When Satsumi's dad goes missing on a trip to investigate an ancient temple ruin, she decides to do everything she can to find him. She knows it won't be easy. Sickly for most of her childhood, Satsumi grew up sheltered and isolated, and even though her health has improved, she's still a timid, awkward girl prone to worry. Dealing with her new friends is almost as much of a challenge as dealing with her new enemy. But most troubling of all is the strange mystery which threatens to pull her under. What happened in that ruined temple so long ago? What does it have to do with her dad's disappearance? And what it Satsumi's connection to it? She'll soon find out, whether she wants to or not.
Satsumi's Physical Description:
Prologue (Pt. 1)
I knew something was wrong when he didn’t come home for my birthday. My mom said it was nothing: “Maybe he just forgot what day it is; you know how absent-minded your dad can be”– but I could tell she was only trying to make me feel better. She pretended that everything was fine, that there was nothing wrong with sitting at a table for two at my favorite restaurant, or with putting a third of my cake back in the fridge, or with actually being able to hear the funny parts of my favorite movie because no one was laughing too loud. Did she think I didn’t notice that her smile was too wide, her voice was too high-pitched and bubbly, or that she kept turning her face away so I wouldn’t see her worried expression? I kept glancing at her while we watched the movie– no, not watched– my mom’s eyes were glued to the TV screen, but she was staring straight through it.
But I pretended, too. My mom was trying so hard to make me happy, and I didn’t want to make her worry about me. So I told her that she was right, maybe something came up; maybe he got so busy he lost track of time. I could almost believe it myself– he really was absent-minded, just like my mom said. He’d forgotten her birthday a few years before; boy, she’d really let him have it for that.
It wasn’t the first time he’d been away from home, either– a three time Pokemon League Champion, he travels sometimes, giving speeches and exhibitions. But this time wasn’t like the others. It started when Professor Ookido came to our house one day about a week ago. There was nothing unusual about that; he lives nearby, and he and my dad have been friends since they were kids. But this time, it seemed like something was bothering him. His smile was too thin. When I answered the door, he mussed my hair and said, “Hey, Short Stuff,” like always, but he didn’t stop to talk to me, just asked where my dad was. I led him into the kitchen, where my dad was crouched putting down food bowls for Pikachu and his other Pokemon. He looked up, stood, and said hi to Professor Ookido when we entered. Then he said, “Satsumi, why don’t you go upstairs and clean your room?” He didn’t answer when I said that my room was already clean, just frowned, crossed his arms, and looked me straight in the eye. I knew what he was trying to tell me-- cleaning my room was just an excuse; really, he just wanted me to leave so I wouldn’t hear their conversation. I was really curious, but I wasn’t going to argue. So I left.
That night at dinner, my dad told my mom and me that he had to leave on business for a few days. When my mom asked what kind of business, he shrugged and said, “Some archeologists just finished digging up some ruins over in the Nirakar Region. Shigeru wants me to go check it out.”
“Ruins?” my mom said, pausing with her fork halfway to her mouth.
“Yeah, out in the desert, some temple in some mythological city or something.” My dad shrugged. “I don’t know much about it, but Shigeru seemed excited.”
“Then why can’t he go?”
My dad looked at me with raised eyebrows, and I turned my face toward my plate, embarrassed by my outburst.
“Shigeru has too much to do at the lab,” said my dad, “he has to get the starters ready for this year’s new trainers.”
That made sense– it was almost time for new trainers to start their Pokemon journeys. But that didn’t make me feel any better. I rolled a pea around on my plate with my fork so I wouldn’t have to look at my dad.
“Don’t worry, Satsumi,” he said with a smile in his voice. “I’ll be home in plenty of time for your birthday. Have I ever broken my promise?”
I shook my head, feeling a little bad for doubting my dad. I’m really proud of him, and I’ve kind of gotten used to him being gone sometimes; these days, I don’t even cry when he leaves. But I still miss him when he’s away, and he knows it. That’s why he promised me he’d always be home for my birthday no matter what. My dad’s always told me that the day I was born was the most important day of his life, even more important than the day he set out on his Pokemon journey, or the day he first won the title of Pokemon League Champion.
That’s why I knew, deep down, that he couldn’t have forgotten. Even if he got held up this time, he would’ve at least called. My mom kept her phone near her all day, kept checking it. The light came back to her eyes every time it rang, then disappeared again as soon as she looked at the caller ID. I hope I hid my disappointment from her better than she hid hers from me.
It was getting late when she looked at the clock, sighed, and headed upstairs. She came back down a minute later carrying something small in one hand. My mom sat down next to me on the sofa and handed me a box a little bigger than my open hands, wrapped in blue paper and pink ribbons.
“Happy birthday, Satsumi,” she said. “This is from both me and your dad. I was hoping he could be on the phone when you opened it, but... I guess he’ll just have to miss out, huh?”
I nodded and smiled back at her as best I could.
“Go ahead, open it!”
I tried to show enthusiasm as I tore into the paper, but a chill ran through me when I saw what the present was. My stunned reflection stared back at me from the blank screen of a new model Pokedex, visible through the cellophane window of the box.
“Mom... wow... this is...”
“You like it?” she said with a laugh in her voice. “Your dad and I picked it out weeks ago; we think you’re finally ready to begin your Pokemon journey.”
My mom nodded.
“You’ve been a lot healthier these past couple of years; I almost can’t remember the last time you got sick. And your doctor says it’s ok now.” She paused, then added “Actually, you probably could’ve gone last year, but we wanted to wait and make sure.”
Why did I feel so anxious? I’d been waiting for this day since I was a little kid. My parents told me countless stories about their adventures while I was growing up– about how they met all of their Pokemon (and each other), about all the places they traveled to, all the gym matches and tournaments they battled in, about all their encounters with the “evil” Team Rocket. I’d make them repeat my favorite ones over and over (especially the one about how my dad won his first Pokemon League), and dream about having my own adventures. What kind of Pokemon would I train? What region would I journey through? What kind of people would I meet? I spent hours imagining it all and couldn’t wait to leave home.
But my dreams got put on hold. I was born two and a half months too early, and was sickly for most of my childhood. Fevers, ear infections, and (worst of all), respitory infections– it seemed like there was always something wrong with me. My parents and I hoped I’d be better by the time I turned ten, the age when most kids start their journeys. And I was; at least, I wasn’t sick as often, and when I was, it wasn’t as serious (though I was still small for my age). But my doctor said I still wasn’t healthy enough to travel on my own. My tenth birthday was miserable, and not just because I had a fever. All the other kids my age got to start their journeys; I loved Pokemon just as much as they did, but just because I got sick sometimes... it wasn’t fair! Nothing my parents did to cheer me up worked. They told me, maybe I’d be well enough next year;
“No, I won’t,” I sobbed, “I’ll always be sick, and I’ll never get to be a Pokemon trainer!”
I said it because I was frustrated and upset, but really, I hoped my parents were right. When they weren’t, I started to give up. It seemed like I was just doomed, Pokemon-wise. But now that my chance had finally come...
“It’s ok if you don’t want to leave just yet,” my mom said.
I looked at her and shook my head, scolding myself for letting her see me worry.
“It’s not that, this is really great; thank you so much! I was just surprised, is all.”
She smiled warmly at me and tucked my hair behind my ear.
“Ok. But you don’t have to rush things, you know; take as long as you need to feel ready. One more year won’t–-”
“Mo-om, I’m fine!!” I said, pretending to be annoyed.
She laughed and said “Ok, ok! But I wanted to tell you that, anyway. Especially since...”
That’s what was bothering me: I was worried about my dad; I couldn’t leave home without knowing he was safe.
“It’ll be ok, Mom,” I said, trying to sound casual, “Dad’ll definitely be home before then.”
My mom put her smile back on and said “I’m sure you’re right.” We both tried to believe that I was.
My mom had contacted the authorities in Eternia City the day after my birthday, but they couldn’t find my dad. The police started an investigation, interviewed my mom, Professor Ookido, talked to people in the area where he’d disappeared. He’d been seen there, at least. The archeologists at the site said that he’d been there a week ago, wanting to explore the ruins. They hadn’t allowed him in, and he’d gone back to his hotel in the city after a short argument. All his stuff was still there. But my dad had just disappeared. No one had seen him after that night; they had no idea where he’d gone. The police wanted to investigate the ruins, see if he’d been there, but first they needed a permit; it would take days for them to get one.
With every day that passed, I lost a little more hope. Every night, I cried alone in my bed, trying not to imagine what had happened to my dad. What if he was sick somewhere? What if he’d been kidnapped? That didn’t seem likely, not when he had Pikachu and his other Pokemon. But they’d disappeared with him. I wished Pikachu were sleeping curled up next to me, the way he always did when I was sick or sad. I hugged my Clefairy doll tight instead, but it wasn’t the same. I wanted to crawl in bed with my mom like I used to whenever I had a nightmare, but I couldn’t let her know that I could hear her crying. I’d never felt so alone in my life.
Waiting to hear something about my dad was driving me crazy. The day for new trainers to leave on their Pokemon journeys was getting closer and closer, but I couldn’t leave without him there, could I? Everything was so wrong, it wasn’t the right time. But that was an excuse; I was really just afraid. After all, what could I do against something that even my dad couldn’t handle? But sitting around waiting for the phone to ring wasn’t helping anything, and I knew deep down that I should be doing everything I could to find him. My dad had always been there when I needed him. Like the time when I was little and I got really, really sick, the sickest I’ve ever been. He was away at the Pokemon League finals, going for his third title. But when I woke up in the hospital, he was right there holding my hand, looking down at me and stroking my hair. He’d stayed home for a couple of years after that, to make sure I was ok. My dad would do anything for me. And now that it was my turn to help him, I couldn’t let him down. So I decided– I’d leave on my Pokemon journey, and I’d find my dad, no matter what.