Cap D. Blue & Sumner Sturgeon
Rating: T for Teen
Disclaimer: Pokemon is copyright its original owners. The authors only own the plot and original characters. Any representation of real persons, dead or alive, is purely coincidental unless it makes a damn good reference.
I can't tell you how happy I am that this is finally seeing the light of day. This is a project that Sumner Sturgeon and I have been developing for about three years now. This chapter itself was first started two years ago: it was put on hold due to real life issues (mostly school). But we pushed through since we've both graduated, and after weeks of repeated editing and revising, it's finally done!
We have big hopes and visions for this story as a whole, and Arceus willing, we're going to see it through to the end. So, without further adieu, let's get right to it!
"Prelude to a New Journey! A Mystery Gift Has Arrived."
She wondered where they had failed before. It wasn't as though the first plan was so complicated. One little mistake couldn't have brought the whole thing crashing down. It was, in fact, the opposite: the plan was too simple. That was why it got foiled by little mistakes. Rather annoying, recurring mistakes. Her boss at the time was so confident that their vision would come to fruition. And yet…
Well, she thought, it had come to fruition, if you tilted your head to the side and squinted. They had awoken the super-ancient Pokémon, and it had the intended effect. Their first miscalculation had been failing to grasp the scope of that effect. Their second miscalculation had been the interference of some snot-nosed brats and a G-Man. Whatever that was.
She and other members of their organization managed to flee before facing legal consequences. Their boss's ambition still burned in their hearts. After all, it was an idea that he had drilled into their minds from day one. But they could not expect to stay in their home region to fulfill it. There were many new factors standing in their way. Starting from square one with those factors was not an amusing prospect.
After some time, they heard whispers of a far-off land. The rumors of events that had transpired there were intriguing. Something about the artificial manufacture of Pokémon, and harnessing their unrestricted, untapped abilities. Inspiration struck. They would go to this land, she decided, and make a fresh attempt at their goal. Some of her workers objected: the citizens would already know what to expect.
"We'll be doing something different," she had told them. "We can fulfill our dream, our vision. Even if the organizations there met an end, we can assimilate them. Put them under a new name, a new identity." She paused here, thinking again about how her boss had failed. They — she — could do things different, perhaps even better. "With our cause, we can persuade the public. Steer them towards accepting us. Our cause is for the good of all. " She pointed at a map of their destination, projected on the wall behind her. "Here, the citizens will accept it."
In the end, they agreed. They arrived in secret, and proceeded to delve through the backwaters of this land. They scoured for the relics of the organization that had roamed here before. Fate rewarded their efforts, and they managed to recruit key people into their midst. A greater stroke of luck was finding new faces, ones unrecognizable to the public. This further insured their ability to remain unknown, until the time was right.
Finally, after all their hard work, everything was in place. She felt confident and assured that things would work in their favor. There would be no mistakes this time. No rash decisions, no unthoughtful actions. There would be layers upon layers, backups for the backups. Her — their — ambition would come to light. If — no, when — successful, they would revel in the glory, the triumph of success. She would be vindicated, free from the inherited failure of their old boss.
She turned to her aide. He straightened up, ready for whatever order she had for him. "It's time," she announced. "Alert all hands: Operation Cloudburst begins now."
Norman placed the parcel onto the table, calling up the stairs. "May! Package for you!"
The Petalburg City Gym Leader looked down at the plain brown box. It appeared nondescript, sporting nothing but an address label and a few stamps. "Although as a father," He murmured, glancing at the box over the top of his coffee mug. "Mail without a return address makes me nervous..."
A distinctive sound of feet descending the steps announced May's arrival. She was Norman's oldest child, a seasoned Pokémon Coordinator, and had recently returned home. A neat pair of jeans and a t-shirt was her attire of choice for this early morning. Her bright blues eyes fell upon the parcel and her face contorted in confusion. "If it helps, Dad," She said, approaching the table. "I haven't ordered anything lately."
"I'm still recovering from that last credit card bill, young lady." Norman replied, taking a sip of coffee, as May looked embarrassed. Even a Gym Leader can have the normal issues of raising a teenage daughter.
"This has no return address," said May, leaning forward to exam the package. It was about ten inches long, five inches high, and five inches wide. She looked up at her father, face apprehensive. "Is it okay if I open it?"
Norman scratched his head, thinking it over. "Well, I did let you go out into the world at age ten, training creatures with crazy powers. I suppose letting you open one unmarked package wouldn't hurt."
"I love you, too, Dad. If my bedroom explodes, it's on you." Shaking her head at her father, May took the parcel and carried it upstairs to her bedroom.
She placed the box down on the floor, closing the door shut behind her with her foot. She grabbed a pair of scissors from her desk. "Okay, mystery gift... let's see what you have for me."
May cut open the tape and opened the flaps. Inside sat a smaller, metallic box surrounded by sheets of bubble wrap. "Always liked this stuff." She removed the second box and placed it on the floor. This box was about seven inches long, four inches high, and four inches wide. It was also sealed with a small padlock. Yet May found no key amongst the sheets of bubble wrap. "Now that's a little weird..."
Standing up, May grabbed a red-and-white Ping-Pong ball-sized object from her desk. She pressed the button on the front of the Poké Ball once, and it expanded. A second press and it burst open in a flash of light. A foxlike creature appeared from the Poké Ball onto the floor. Soft cyan fur with dark blue rhombus marks lined its slender body. The Glaceon shook and stretched its body before looking up at its Trainer.
"Good morning, Glaceon." May stroked her Pokémon, the Ice-type's fur feeling cool to the touch. "I've got a locked box, but no key... could you use Iron Tail to break it open for me, please?"
Glaceon nodded, so May stood up and moved back a little as her Pokémon arched its back. Its tail gleamed a bright silver and stiffened completely. With a sharp swing and a loud snap, Glaceon sliced the padlock in two. The bottom half clattered to the floor. Glaceon let out a small bark of glee, and May smiled. "Thanks for that." She said, patting its head before turning her attention back to the metal box.
She lifted open the lid, one hand in front of her face in case anything unsavory jumped out. The only thing inside was some sort of electronic device. It sat within a precise indentation of the box's soft lining. The sheer strangeness of the contraption took May aback. The best comparison she could make was to a tablet computer.
It was about five inches long, two inches wide, and a quarter-inch thick. Connected to the bottom were fabric straps. May figured they attached it to her arm. (She wondered why she thought of herself wearing it when she didn't even know what it was.) There were also three straps coming from the bottom and both sides on one end. They lead to a small, circular piece with a concave surface. It appeared to match against the surface of a closed Poké Ball exactly.
May turned to look at Glaceon, who had moved up next to its Trainer in curiosity. "Might as well see what this thing does, right?" There were no physical buttons on the device, so May pressed a fingertip to the screen. It light up immediately and projected a three-dimensional image just above the device's screen.
As May watched, the image morphed into the form of a slender adult woman in a lab coat and glasses. The entire image displayed in green, making it difficult to determine her features. Her face appeared both stern and sad as she spoke. "If you are hearing this, then it means you have received the Snag Machine Mark Three."
"What the heck is a Snag Machine?" May asked Glaceon, despite knowing her Pokémon had no more idea than she did. As if having anticipated this question, the hologram spoke again.
"The Snag Machine is a device created for snagging Pokémon." May's jaw dropped open. What was the woman talking about? "While you may object to this notion, know that it only works on corrupted Pokémon. They are also known as Shadow Pokémon. The region of Orre is being overtaken by people using them."
The image of the woman then disappeared and replaced with a map of a barren desert land. Small diamond shapes denoted the locations of towns, cities, and other landmarks. The woman's voice continued to speak. "I ask that you travel Orre, snag the Shadow Pokémon, and bring down their users."
The woman reappeared, her face somber. "I fear that there is more at risk than just the wellbeing of Pokémon. There is a sinister plot afoot that must not continue. I'll be sending you more messages in due time. Good-bye." The hologram disappeared, leaving May staring in disbelief at the screen.
She turned to Glaceon, who stared back up at her. Both Trainer and Pokémon had similar confused expressions on their faces. "Why did I get this? I'm a Coordinator, not a superhero." May looked back down at the device in her hands. A realization came to her: the fate of an entire region now rested there as well.
This Snag Machine, she thought, offered tremendous power. The ability to "snag" Pokémon was not something to mishandle or abuse. May knew she would have to handle it with delicate care. It was her responsibility now.
But was the woman's message true? About the "sinister plot"? If so, refusing this burden would likely have untold consequences for Orre. But what if it was a trap? It seemed too much effort had gone into this package for that to be true. May heaved a heavy sigh. "Looks like May's Expeditions got another season… whether I like it or not."
Norman was completely understanding of May's news of an unexpected trip. "Those are the best kind." He told her, standing up from his breakfast plate. "Before I forget, though, I have something for you."
"One mysterious package wasn't enough?" May asked, already annoyed at one surprise that morning. She had changed into light, comfortable clothes fit for travel before coming back downstairs. Her outfit now was white shorts pulled over black bicycle shorts with a red tank top. May had her bandana folded it into a narrow strip before tying it on backwards. The ends of the knot stuck out the top of her head like Buneary ears.
A yellow fanny pack settled around her waist. Her Pokémon, always a necessity, were safe inside, resting in their Poké Balls. The Snag Machine was also there, inside of a zippered pocket. May wasn't quite sure how the strange device worked, at least not yet. She was planning to experiment with it during the long voyage to Orre.
Norman, knowing that the question wasn't directed at him, ignored it. Instead, he went over to the hall closet and pulled out a shopping bag from it. "Brendan told me to give you this if you left on another journey." Brendan Birch, son of Professor Birch, was a childhood friend of May's family. He was also, more often than not, a thorn in her side. One of his hobbies, for some reason, was clothing design. Sometimes he would ask May to model his newest travesty, which never ended well for him.
"Tell him I'll kick his butt when I get home." May wasn't looking forward to whatever was in that bag. But Brendan had a surprising amount of foresight. He usually knew what May needed before she herself even knew she needed it. One way or another, whatever was in the bag would somehow come in handy.
"No 'thank you'?"
"Only if this is useful at all." Standing up on tip-toe, May kissed her father on the cheek. "Bye, Dad. I have a boat to catch. Tell Mom and Max I'll try to call when I can." May sighed as she left the house, closing the front door behind her. The thought of whatever trials were waiting in her future was not appealing. With a deep breath, May began her trek towards Slateport City. There, a sea liner was waiting to take her to what would be the most difficult fight of her life.
To be continued...
Comments? Thoughts? All are welcome. If there's enough interest, I'll remind myself to post the new chapters here.