Rated PG-13 for violence and some swearing.
Hello everyone! I'd like to thank you for coming to this page. This is just a story that I've been working on since May, and decided I might as well post it at some point. Please, feel free to leave a review! Any comments or critiques are greatly appreciated! I now present to you:
The moon shone overhead, making the sky appear as though it had a curved tear in it. Maressa looked over to her friend as she sat up and pushed her blonde hair out of her face. Sarah lay on her back, her blue bandanna pulled down so low as to almost conceal her eyes.
The bandanna was pulled upward as Sarah's pale eyes looked questioningly at her friend.
"Just making sure you didn't fall asleep." Saying so, Maressa leaned back on her hands, stretching out her legs over the rounded metal top of the small submarine. The river made no noise as it flowed by; were it not for the light patterns caused by ripples, Maressa would have thought the water to be perfectly still.
Sarah sat up as she let out a small laugh. "I wouldn't fall asleep while on watch." She stretched out her legs next to Maressa's as the duo watched the running water of the river pass by.
Maressa shrugged. "I wouldn't be surprised if either of us did. I can see why this position is only given to the most junior recruits." Tucking in her legs, she slid down to where her feet almost touched the water. She dipped a hand into the cool liquid, letting the current soothe her hand with its gentle caress.
"That's because no one ever comes out here!" Sarah let loose an exasperated sigh. "I would fall asleep if it wasn't for the officers coming out to check on us. This is so boring; nothing ever happens and we know nothing will happen. It's so stupid."
Maressa's jaw dropped in mock-horror. "That's insubordination! Sarah, if we are not watching, the ground beneath our feet will blow to smithereens. We are the link that keeps order in this world; without our constant vigilance, this planet will fall apart. And everyone will die."
Sarah snorted and rubbed her face as she looked at her companion. "You're so weird."
"Must be why we get along." Taking her hand out of the water, Maressa sighed as she looked at her friend. "Hey... if I tell you something, will you promise to not tell anyone else?"
"Sure. Is it about what the commander had called you in for yesterday?"
Maressa nodded. "I'm not supposed to tell anyone, but I'm sure you won't tell anyone, and well... I don't even know anything about what we're doing." Looking around nervously, Maressa turned toward her friend again as she said slowly, "They're taking me with them when they go to Slateport next week."
Sarah's eyebrows turned downward into a frown as she asked, "Slateport? Who's going there?"
Maressa fidgeted with the legs of her blue pants as she explained, "Commander Shelly is taking a group of more experienced team members there next week to explore the undersea cliff side. Apparently, there are ancient underwater craters that have been covered up over the years with rocks and debris. The commander wants to uncover and examine what's beneath the buildup."
Sarah's eyes widened as she stared at her friend in amazement. "Really? That's awesome, good for you, Maressa! Getting up there with the champs!" Chuckling, she became serious as she said, "But really, that is cool you get to do that." Suddenly becoming apprehensive, she breathed, "Does she think it may have something to do with... with what we're looking for?"
Raising her hands uncertainly, Maressa replied, "I don't know; all she said is that they could use me when I'm there."
"But you don't even know what you're doing?"
"All she needed of me was a promise to obey any order immediately and without question. Just absolute, unconditional obedience."
"What a small thing to ask for," came the sarcastic reply. Nodding, Sarah tucked her knees beneath her chin as she remarked, "Well, it's no surprise that you're the one chosen for something like this."
Taken aback, her friend asked, "What do you mean?"
"Come on, everyone knows you're one of the best Pokémon battlers on the team. You've commanded entire squadrons and taken down enemies faster and easier than even some of the oldest members. And when you're just using your own Pokémon, you're still no pushover."
Bowing her head in embarrassment, Maressa replied, "It's the Pokémon who do all the work. I just oversee what they do."
Sarah snorted. "Yes, 'the Pokémon do all the work'-- the exact same Pokémon, used by different people, who only manage to win when you're in charge of them." She turned her head back to Maressa. "Just accept some credit, okay?" When her companion said nothing Sarah turned her eyes back towards the moving water, which rippled and shone almost eerily beneath the pale moonlight. "Though I guess your Golduck can take full credit for itself; he fights like a monster. Oh, sorry, I didn't mean it like that," she hurried as Maressa raised an eyebrow at her. "I just mean that even on his own, he can hold off other Pokémon really well. It's as if he can fight without anyone coordinating him."
Maressa scraped her sun-tanned fingers across her scalp as she replied, "I guess. Golduck and I are always working together; we just don't need for me to shout commands. We've been together long enough. He knows what I want him to do, and I know what his limits are so I can have him fight without pushing him to the point of exhaustion."
Sarah gave her a questioning look before asking, "How long have you two been together?"
"How long is a while?" As Maressa gave her friend a deadpan glare, Sarah asked, "What?" but her friend only shook her head and smiled.
Shrugging, she replied, "I'm not actually sure... I think... was I five? Four? Yes, I think it was four... But he was just a Psyduck then, and neither of us knew the first thing about battling. The first few years were just building our friendship; it wasn't until much later that we started getting involved in battling and training."
Sarah sighed as she remarked, "A lot of people would give for a relationship like that."
Cocking her head, Maressa questioned her companion for clarification.
"I, well... you just seem to always get along so well with your Pokémon. My Sealeo and I... sometimes we just don't agree on what to do or what's best for us. And I can tell a lot of other people on the team are like that also. It even happens to people not on our team; so many people are still like that. We get along, and we're still friends, but ..." She cast her eyes downward, shrugging as she finished, "we just don't work together that well all the time."
Snorting, Maressa raised her eyebrows in disbelief. "That's your problem?"
Taken aback, Sarah asked, "What?"
"Everyone has those sorts of problems with their Pokémon. Golduck and I argue all the time. It got so bad once that he wouldn't talk to me for two days." Huffing, Maressa cast her eyes downward as she unhappily mused, "I would have let it go, but he just too stubborn to apologize."
Smiling, Sarah commented, "I guess your personalities do match each other perfectly." Allowing the corners of her mouth to fall, she noted, "But you two still seem to have no disagreements when battling."
"Because battling is something different. When we fight someone, we put aside our disagreements and work together. He trusts me to know what to do, and I trust him to be able to do the right thing."
Withdrawing her hand, Maressa lay next to her friend and gazed skyward into the moonlit night.
Laying on her back, Sarah joined Maressa in silence as the two stared upwards. Raising her hand, she traced a path from the western horizon. "The Millennium Comet is supposed to appear in a few weeks. There'll be a lot of celebrating back at home.... I actually regret not being there for it," she sighed.
Turning her amber eyes to her friend, Maressa asked, "Where are you from, again?"
"Mossdeep City. It's on an island far in the northeastern part of Hoenn. Growing up, we used to go down to the ocean every day." Sarah smiled as she mused, "We would collect Clamperl shells that had washed up on the shore or go exploring the mangroves that grew on the wild coasts. Or, if we were tired, we could just sit on the cliff sides and watch the Wailmer pop up near the shore; we called it Wailmer Watching." Frowning, she added, "It's pretty boring on the history side of things, though. All of our old buildings and ancient architecture aren't there anymore. By the time people really cared about preserving them, they were gone. And our language and writing styles have hardly changed since the island was first civilized." A smile lit her features as she cheerfully added, "But there is the Millennium Comet. When it comes, we're supposed to have a week-long celebration, with singing, dancing and feasting around Hakugyoku Rock. But I won't be there for that," she finished bitterly. As she finished reminiscing, she turned to Maressa and asked, "What part of Hoenn are you from?"
"Not from Hoenn. Kanto."
"You're from Kanto?" When Maressa nodded, Sarah gushed, "That's so cool! I've always wanted to go there; they have beautiful cities and tons of cool museums. What part are you from?"
"It's a small, sea-side village near Fuchsia City. That's where I met Psyduck and had most of my childhood friends." Taking a small pause, she continued more quietly, "But when I was eleven, my family moved to Mauville City."
Noting her friend's toneless voice, Sarah softly added, "Oh, I'm sorry."
Maressa pulled her azure bandanna over her eyes as she replied, "It's fine. I made new friends when I got there. And at least I still had Psyduck to always be with, right?" Saying so, she pulled her bandanna away from her eyes and continued to stare at the sky, her bright eyes reflecting the white moonlight.
Moments of silence passed by as the two lay on the cold, smooth top of the submarine. Maressa and Sarah sat up as they heard the water splash, and four feet slap on top of the dull grey metal.
Maressa smiled as she reached a hand out to her companion. "Hey buddy. What's up?" Giving her a high-five, Golduck sat down next to his friend. Opening its pale yellow bill, throaty noises gargled from his mouth as he communicated with Maressa. Sarah watched, fascinated, as the her human friend engaged in conversation with the blue-skinned, kappa-like creature.
Scooting closer to her friend, Sarah asked, "What does he say?"
"He says he got bored and decided to come talk to us." Looking past Maressa, Sarah tried to make eye contact with Golduck. As soon as her blue eyes met his vermilion ones, she smiled and greeted him. Though his inflexible bill limited his facial expressions, she could make out the happiness in his eyes as he returned her greeting.
Golduck said something else to Maressa, which she translated to her friend. "He also says that it should almost be time for our watch to end." Groaning, the two humans reluctantly stood up and walked to opposite sides of the submarine, their eyes scanning the water for any unusual disturbances. After a few minutes, however, they succumbed to boredom and began to let their minds wander. Neither took any notice as Golduck splashed back into the river. After a few minutes, Maressa heard Sarah gasp and quietly call her name.
Turning around, Maressa saw a dark fin protrude from the surface of the water; shaped like a razor, cutting through the air, it came with alarming alacrity towards the vessel. Smiling, Maressa walked to the edge of the submarine and reached a hand out to the protrusion. A dark, scaly head bisected by a saffron star emerged from the water and nuzzled its owner's black glove.
"Relax, Sarah. It's only Sharpedo." Crouching down, Maressa ran her fingers along the top of her Pokémon's head, grateful for the protection her thick gloves offered her from the creature's cutting-edged scales. Withdrawing a small ball from her pocket, Maressa opened it and recalled Sharpedo, allowing the dull red light to engulf her Pokémon. After Sharpedo shrank down to pocket-size, she snapped the small sphere shut and encased him inside.
Sarah watched her friend deposit the ball in her pocket and shuddered. "I don't know how you do it, Maressa. I wouldn't mind seeing those Pokémon from a distance, but I could never own and take care of one."
Maressa took out another ball as her Golduck came back. "I've never had a problem with vicious-looking Pokémon, honestly. He may look mean, but...." Her voice trailed off as she withheld her words. She was about to say that Sharpedo was "really a big softy on the inside," but that would be lying; Sharpedo was every bit as ornery as he looked. Shrugging, she merely said, "You just have to learn how to deal with them." Returning her Golduck's ball to her pocket, she said, "I expect we'll be relieved any minute now." The two turned back to their respective sides and continued their monotonous task of watching the river.
Three hours later, "any minute" became all but a dream. Too afraid to be caught napping, the pair constantly rubbed their eyes and walked around in attempts to get their blood flowing and fend off sleep. Maressa sent out her Pokémon again, only to find that they were engaged in a deep slumber. After another two hours, the sun began to rise, and the duo stood together at one end of the vessel. With hunched shoulders and bagging eyelids, they stared out at the river. Their bloodshot eyes took in the scene of the rising sun spilling its fluorescent orange light over the earth, causing the water to look like a thousand diamonds strewn across an orange blanket.
Hearing hinges creek, the two turned as the hatch lifted up and a blue bandanna, marked with a small skeletal "A," appeared from below. Looking tired, a girl dragged her fingers through her bushy brown hair before turning her hazel eyes on the sleep-deprived duo. Eyes wide in shock, she asked, "Were you two out all night?" After they nodded dumbly, she responded, "But... Sean and Mike were supposed to cover for you four hours ago."
Maressa attempted to speak, but found that all she could do was make stuttering noises. Neither she Sarah could bring themselves to do more than stare as they struggled to remain awake. Confirming their condition, their teammate only said, "Well, you two can go back in and sleep now. Jana and I will take watch; we're scheduled to move out in three hours though."
As Maressa and Sara lowered themselves into the contents of the submarine, they finally found themselves able to articulate the words they had been trying to say before:
"What the hell."