Chapter 13: Cruise Ship, Party Night
As though unfazed by pleads for help from the two twelve your old trainers at the front gate of the Kanto Defence Force Academy the two military police brandished their automatic rifles as a warning for the benefit of any Pokémon Trainers who were thinking about sneaking into the base. Although they sympathized with the boy and his sick Pikachu their military training demanded that they turn him away without delay so that the road would be cleared for official escorts on that very special evening.
Frustrated by the soldiers’ unyielding stoicism the girl started to create quite an uproar, to the military police’s irritation. “We have to speak to Lieutenant Surge about a sick Pokémon. This is of the utmost importance. He’s the electric Pokémon specialist, isn’t he?”
“Look, kid,” The first soldier stepped forward, his hand blocking their way and his face a patronizing sneer. “No unauthorized personnel on base.”
“Come on, Gregory,” The second whispered, so that the children wouldn’t hear their disagreement.
Gregory turned back to his associate and repeated himself. “No unauthorized personnel on base.”
“What if the Colonel wants to help?”
“And what if he doesn’t, Horton? Surge would chew our arses off.”
Stepping forward Ross spoke up for the first time since they’d arrived at the military base. It had taken Ross, Amy and Growlithe four days to track down Lieutenant Surge, which was strange considering his infamy in the nearby Vermilion City. He would come in to the local drinking establishments during rest and recreation and drink the town dry with his buddies. With no enemies to fight the military was becoming complacent and that could become dangerous for Kanto should the mysterious Team Rocket take a physical presence in the world.
“If we can’t go in then could you at least tell him we are here to see him?” Ross asked.
Private Horton, the more sympathetic of the two, seemed as though he were about to concede to Ross’ request and phone his superior, but Private Gregory stopped him. “I’m sorry, little boy, but tonight is a big night. You probably know about the fancy party aboard the S.S. Anne, being the big time trainer you are, well, the lieutenant was invited to the Captain’s table, so he’s pretty busy this evening. Try again tomorrow.”
Angry that he was being patronized by the tactless soldier was about to make a scene, but thought better of himself. Instead Ross just nodded and turned to leave. “Thank you for you help.”
“We’ll be back,” Amy added as they retreated down the road, past a convey of limousines.
It was an overcast afternoon, draped in shadow by the sun which was already beginning to set, rendered invisible by the grey sky, in mockery of the fiery summer that had scorched the entire region just two months before. As autumn began and Ross’ fellowship made their way south towards Vermilion City the weather began to turn surprisingly rapidly, ignoring the claims by meteorologists that Mount Cinnabar was throwing up enough dust to transform Kanto into a tropical zone.
While scientists futilely tried to figure out what was happening on the island in southern Kanto Ross and his Pokémon friends trained feverously, so that they would never be faced with a Nugget Bridge defeat ever again, however the path on self-improvement didn’t end there for Ross; he endeavored to spend his free moments talking to Amy about her past, her interests and her dreams. Although he felt the girl wasn’t telling him everything about her past he could understand her hesitation, since he hadn’t told her that he had known Alexander Oak. Ross took enough comfort in the fact that they were finally talking like they were friends, instead of merely traveling companions.
Although they had taken a detour past Saffron City to reach Vermilion City faster Ross had insisted that they wait before looking for Lieutenant Surge, partly because he wished to continue his training, but also because he wasn’t ready to hear of Alex’s inevitable victory at the Nugget Bridge, so they camped about outside Vermilion City until Ross was ready to get back to the civilization he had been avoiding. His fears were justified, for Alexander had wiped the floor with all competition, claiming the fifty thousand Pokéyen reward
The news reached the group when they were sitting at a café in the city centre and the radio announced the Champion of the One-Hundred and Forty-Ninth International Pokémon League at the Indigo Plateau. The reporter had also mention the rising talent from Pallet Town and grandson of the world-renowned Pokémon Professor, Samuel Oak, who had succeeded in winning the Nugget Bridge Tournament without losing a single Pokémon. Amy thought he had taken the news well.
“Well, are we going?” Snapped from his reverie Ross looked to Amy for an explanation. “To the party aboard the S.S. Anne.”
“I don’t remember getting invited.”
“I do,” Amy held up two small, gold tickets.
Understanding hit Ross like a bolt of lightning. “Of course! Bill! I’d forgotten.”
Pocketing the tickets Amy squinted at her friend, almost absurdly. “You got so worked up over the party back at the lighthouse, how could you forget about it?”
“Just slipped my mind,” Ross shrugged.
As they continued down the road, through the wet, dank forests surrounding Vermilion City Ross began to become aware of the salty smell in the air, reminding him of the lighthouse they had washed up at so long ago. He was a different person now, desperate to fulfill his dreams no matter the cost, sacrificing his own happiness to see his friends become the best they could be. Even Magikarp was showing signs of improvement, although another greater then a Metapod would still be able to take him out in one hit.
Starting to get ideas for the party Amy tried striking up a conversation. “If this party is formal enough to attract Bill’s attention we’ll need something to wear other then our travel clothes.”
“Eh?” Ross grunted, distracted by thoughts of Pokémon leagues.
“We should go and hire some stuff to wear.”
Frustrated by her male friend Amy decided to take control of the conversation. “I could get a black dress, with sequins and I could wear a rose, like a broach. Oh, it would be great to wear a dress again. I’ve been traveling so long I’ve forgotten what it’s like to go to one of these big events. There’s nothing quite like an upper-class social, with dukes and princes from strange and exotic lands. The clouds are a little depressing, though.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Ross laughed.
With a quick shake of his head the trainer from Pallet sighed. “I expected more from you, but you are like all the other girls, obsessed with getting your dream guy and having a wonderful evening of dancing and stuff.”
“Hey, I’ve been on the road a lot longer then you and I want a magical evening,” Amy insisted.
As they walked Ross became more and more dreary. “I doubt they even make dresses like what you’re describing for twelve year olds.”
“I turned thirteen at Bill’s house,” She informed her companion bluntly. When he stopped in the middle of the road and stared at her incredulously she explained. “You were busy training and I didn’t want to distract you, so Bill, Growlithe and I had a private little ceremony.”
Ross turned to his loyal puppy Pokémon. “You knew about her birthday?” Growlithe nodded and continued to strut down the road, as though he were **** of the walk. “Traitor,” Ross muttered.
“Don’t worry about it,” Amy insisted when they continued.
“Birthdays aside, what about money, we can’t afford dresses and suits and stuff.”
“As much as I hate to admit it, I’m loaded.”
Rolling his eyes again Ross paused when they left the woods. “Why wasn’t I informed?”
Before them was Vermilion City, the port town of the central Kanto valley and home dock of the S.S. Anne, the most prestigious ocean liner in the world, challenged only by the S.S. Aqua which was being constructed in dry dock in Johto. About the same size as Cerulean City Vermilion was a sprawling metropolis, which lacked the high rises of Saffron, but made up for its horizontal orientation with a huge development district and dock front.
As they entered the city Ross turned to Amy. “So, what did Bill get you?”
* * * * *
Careful not to disturb his medals which hung proudly in their splendor above his heart whilst uncomfortably adjusting his tie, one of the few arts he was unable to master in all his years as a drill instructor, not to mention a Pokémon Gym Leader, Lieutenant Colonel Galvani Surge silently ran through the etiquette he was required to adhere to at the dinner aboard the S.S. Anne. When he had initially received his invitation from Captain Bow he was hesitant to accept, but quickly realized the sad truth; he had nothing better to do.
Laying down his arms in face of a superior adversary Surge threw his tie down to the floor of his bedroom and grabbed a clip-on from his drawer, forced into impatience by the limousines outside which beeped their horns to announce their presence. His watch read six-oh-five, he and his entourage were already late for the reception. Although Surge despised formal events where he was forced into the uncomfortable military dress uniform of dark navy and black, he admired punctuality.
A knock on the door preceded Major Victor’s entrance into Surge’s bedroom. Although not as physically imposing as his commander the executive officer was by no means scrawny, able to throw his subordinates about on the gym mats with the greatest of ease, a mastery Surge had taught him. Surge didn’t acknowledge his presence at first; he simply stood before the mirror struggling with the clip-on with all the ferocity of a private wrestling a foreign soldier to the ground.
“God, I hate these things,” Surge muttered to Victor who waited patiently for the colonel to finish getting ready. Victor would never disrespect Surge by pointing out their tardiness for the reception, for he was sure he knew what time it was.
Stepping to the side to see Surge’s progress in the mirror Victor allowed himself a slight shrug. “I’m sure you’ll get it eventually, sir.”
“I wasn’t talking about the tie,” Surge explained with the wry grin.
“You never did enjoy wearing full dress, did you, sir?”
Nodding incessantly as he worked the final clip around his collar Surge became flustered by the fiendish contraption that was supposed to do little more then hang around his neck and avoid being hindrance. Surrendering once again to yet another worthy adversary Surge threw the clip-on to the ground. “To Hell with a tie.”
Crossing the room to the bed Victor picked up the sabre that rested comfortably on the end of the bed and turned back to his commander. “It’s is part of the uniform, sir, and it’s required at these formal parties.”
Surge snorted and grabbed the weapon by the black and gold scabbard. “What are they going to do? Disallow me entry into their gala? If we are turned away I’ll simply have the drivers take us to the Indecent Gardevoir and we can drink the night away. We haven’t done that in a while, have we?”
Slapping the sword to his side Surge began waving his free arm eccentrically. “Screw champagne! Give me some Red Tauros any day.”
“Yes, sir,” Victor laughed.
The executive officer of the Kanto Military Academy was glad that his superior was in better spirits. Over the past few years Surge had become more and more distant, staying in his room at night instead of fraternizing with the men, which used to be his hallmark as a commander. It came with the knowledge that the world was at peace and with the Rangers patrolling between the cities it would stay that way.
Lieutenant Colonel Surge had been trained by dinosaurs of an archaic epoch where the road to peace was pathed with destruction, instead of the good intentions of the young. It was becoming more and more obvious to Victor that the Kanto Defence Force was becoming more and more obsolete as time went by, and as it slipped into neglect so did the commanding officer of its training grounds.
Picking up his white cap from the bed Surge straightened up, as though he were being drilled. “Well, what you think?”
“You look like ****,” Victor answered quickly. To sate the military protocol that had been bred into him by his years in the military Victor endeavoured to stick to ceremony, so he brought his left foot to his right with a quick jerk and snapped his right hand to his brow in salute. “Sir.”
Returning the salute half-heartedly, a sign of disrespect Surge slapped his executive officer on the shoulder and pointed to the door. “I didn’t know you cared. After you, Major,” His emphasis on rank made Victor cringe, but he was glad his shot was in.
By the time they had exited Surge’s cabin the Colonel was marching with army-borne purpose, saluting his subordinates crisply and quickly as he made his way towards the parked limousines. He was the model of military etiquette, a totally different person from the spoiled boy who had traded blows with Victor just moments before. As a colonel Surge knew his place and the place of his men whilst on duty.
The chauffeur opened the back door of the limousine for Surge who leapt in quickly and shifted across so that Victor could enter behind him. When he reached the far window he saw a private running across the asphalt towards his car. The man was completely dwarfed by the military outpost behind him, which bustled with activity. Hundreds of soldiers ran drills while fighter jets rocketed overhead, bound for the Bay of Kanto where the I.B.C. Kangaskhan’s Child was performing manoeuvres.
As the private reached the limousine the phone rang on the console next to the television and bar fridge. Surge wound down the window and pointed at the phone for the benefit of Victor who climbed into the limousine and slammed the door. “Can you get that?”
“Lieutenant Surge, sir,” The private saluted, surprised to see his commander through the window of the limousine.
Frustrated by the pet name he had received from the Pokémon training community Surge returned the salute and sighed. “Although I’m not on duty, I’d prefer it if my subordinates accorded me the respect I deserve and address me by my military rank, which is Lieutenant Colonel, or Colonel if you think that’s a mouthful, never Lieutenant. Is that alright with you? Private Horton,” Surge snapped, reading the man’s nametag before finishing.
“Sir, yes, sir,” Horton stammered.
“You aren’t being drilled, Private; one ‘sir’ is enough.”
Surge paused as a fighter took off, drowning out their conversation. While they waited Horton stood dumbly in the presence of such a powerful figure. After a few seconds the noise subsided, but before Private Horton could deliver the report he had undoubtedly crossed the compound to convey Major Victor interrupted, covering the mouthpiece and holding the phone up to Surge.
“Sir, it’s for you,” Victor advised. “It’s important,” He added when he saw that Surge didn’t appreciate being interrupted mid conversation, first by a jet then by his executive officer.
Nodding, Surge turned back to Horton. “Make it quick, Private.”
Private Horton was cut off by the limousine driver, who wanted to get underway and sought to make sure his passengers was similarly inclined. The black screen separating the driver’s cabin from back lowered slowly and the chauffeur stuck his head through the gap. “Whenever you are ready, sir.”
“Just wait until the Colonel is finished with Private Horton,” Victor advised.
Taking the phone from the major as he spoke Surge prompted Horton to be quick. “Sir, a couple of minutes ago two Pokémon Trainers came to the front gate asking to talk to you about a sick Pokémon, but Private Gregory and I turned them away.”
Without interrupting Surge and Horton Victor continued talking with the chauffeur. “When you head into the city make sure you take the north road. We are supposed to be entertaining a non-com, the President of the Pokémon Fan Club, so we’ll have to make a slight detour.”
“Don’t worry, about it, Major, I already have it written in my routes.”
“Did you point them in the direction of the Pokémon Centre?” Surge asked the Private, sarcastically.
To Surge’s annoyance Victor turned to him. “That’s alright, isn’t it, sir?”
“Its fine,” Surge insisted, rubbing his eyes. Putting the phone to his ear the Colonel looked up at Private Horton. “Thank you for telling me, Private. I’ll keep an eye out.”
“We weren’t sure whether we should report to you directly, because it’s not strictly military.”
“All Pokémon matters come to me, directly, thank you, Private,” Rolling up his window Surge indicated for the driver to proceed out of the compound. “Damn kids should learn not to come knocking. Haven’t I defeated enough of them?” Surge asked Victor rhetorically, lowering the guise of seniority in the face of their privacy; the chauffeur had brought the screen back up.
Ignoring all protocol Victor had gone to the bar fridge and poured himself and his compatriot a glass of champagne. “I guess there are two more you need to beat, besides, you don’t win all your battles. You gave a Thunder Badge to that Alexander kid from Pallet Town.”
Taking a sip before removing his hand from the mouthpiece of the phone Surge nodded. “Damn ground types. Hello?”
“Galvani?” The young female voice asked, nervously. “It’s Misty, from the Cerulean Gym.”
Surge chuckled to himself. “I know who you are, Misty.”
“Sorry, but we haven’t talked in a while.”
“Hold on, I’ll put you on the monitor,” Victor leaned forward and pressed a button on the side of the television in the limousine, calling up the image of the beautiful red-head from Cerulean City. When she saw Surge’s face appear on her own screen she relaxed. “Now, what’s so important?”
“There was an incident at the Nugget Bridge Tournament last month. As you might have seen on the news the winner of the tournament was a young boy from Pallet Town; however what wasn’t publicized was the fact that the winner of the event was approached privately by an employee of the sponsor. He tried to recruit the winning trainer,” Misty reported, solemnly.
Curious Surge leaned forward. “Recruit him into what?”
Misty fidgeted on the small monitor, upset by her answer. “The incident on Mount Moon has lead to speculation that there is a new organization rising.”
“Team Rocket?” Surge laughed. “That myth has been floating around for years.”
“Well it’s gotten to the point where the League has decided to look into the validity of the stories. I’m actually calling to inform you there is a Gym Leader summit at Indigo Plateau next month to discuss the current situation. Everybody will be attending, from Kanto to Johto, with the possible exception of Sabrina, who is sending an emissary in her place.”
Taking a long sip of his champagne Lieutenant Surge considered the implications of such a summit; there hadn’t been so many Gym Leaders in one place for nearly a hundred years, ever since Team Bane was wiped out. It would be a real treat seeing all the Gym Leaders from Johto, he hadn’t talked to some of them in years, so it would be nice to catch up. Judging by Lorelei’s conviction is seemed there would be little time for pleasantries, though.
There must have been quite a bit of unrest at Indigo Plateau for Lorelei to get authorization to call a summit. As coordinator of the Gym Leader Challenge it was Lorelei’s responsibility to see that all the Gym Leader’s were well informed with the League’s policies and if that meant the League had decide to take the Team Rocket stories seriously then the Gym Leader’s were going to receive their orders in a months time.
Putting his drink on a coaster set in the door Surge snapped back to the conversation. “So, who is the emissary Sabrina is sending?”
“Her associate, William Bender.”
“And why won’t she be attending herself?”
The image of Misty flickered as she shrugged. “Lorelei didn’t say.”
“When is the summit exactly?”
Surge suddenly became excited by the idea of a clandestine organization that had managed to evade the Pokémon League for as long as it had. Although he, like all honest trainers, understood the tragedy of war the sad fact was that all his training in the military was pointless unless he could put it to use, and it sounded as though Team Rocket would provide him with that opportunity. His anticipation was bitter-sweet, but he could only guess it was the same for all the Gym Leaders.
Gym Leaders could only battle so many children who didn’t understand how to wield their Pokémon and they could only fight so many adult trainers who had lost their thirst for adventure before their skills became stagnant. He knew he was wrong to feel the way he did, but part of him hoped all the rumours were true and Team Rocket was rising.
Curious as to what Misty thought of the whole situation Surge tried exploring her opinions. “What do you think of this whole Team Rocket crisis? Sounds like a steaming pile of Tauros **** to me, but I suppose if the League thinks something of it then its worth investigating.”
“I’ve seen evidence of Team Rocket’s presence first hand, so I don’t think it’s something to laugh at, however I do think it’s a waste of time,” She admitted.
“How do you figure?” Surge asked, downing the remainder of his champagne and passing the empty glass to Victor, who placed it in the bar fridge and handed his superior another, more squat glass filled with scotch and ice, which rattled around in the limousine as it pulled into the city.
Adamant in her convictions Misty flicked her hair back and grinned. “I could be going to my boyfriend’s beach house, but instead I’m committed to this summit, thanks to these criminals, that mightn’t exist at all. If they do exist I’m going to kick their arses for wasting my time.”
Surge glanced at Major Victor. “Uh, okay,” Feeling the limousine begin to slow he looked back to Misty apologetically. “Sorry, Misty, but we’re about to take on another passenger and he isn’t authorized to hear this information. I guess I’ll see you at the Indigo Plateau.”
“Alright,” The Cerulean Gym Leader nodded, nobly. “See you then. Bye.”
“Goodbye,” Surge clicked off the television just as the door of the car opened.
Climbing in was an older gentleman in a black suit complete with a cloak and a top hat, and an elderly lady that could only be his wife. The old man’s wispy white goatee betrayed his age, which was well past a lot of the Pokémon Trainers that Surge knew. As the President of the Pokémon Fan Club he was once a great trainer in his day, but now Howard Lincoln was just a senile old man who spent all his time worshipping trainers and Pokémon alike. He had actually made a business around following the exploits of trainers.
Although he had little respect for Howard now Surge had heard stories of the old timer’s exploits as a young lad. He had never become a Pokémon Master, few did, but his skills were impressive none-the-less, allowing him to reach the final round in several Pokémon League tournaments until his retirement over twenty years before.
He courteously tipped his hat to Surge and Victor. “Hello, gentlemen.”
“Hello, Howard. Madam Lincoln,” The major smiled at fan club president and his wife and offered them a seat. “It’s good to see you again. Tell that granddaughter of yours that the cookies she made for Lieutenant Surge’s Squad were much appreciated by all the boys. Right, Colonel?”
Surge just huffed; he wasn’t interested in the banter between Lincoln and his executive officer who just so happened to be courting the older man’s granddaughter, Surge’s mind was focused on the summit being arranged at the Indigo Plateau, and it was pointed in that direction for the rest of the trip to the Cruise Ship S.S. Anne’s pier. The S.S. Anne itself was visible long before they reached the wharf, though, for it was a huge ship, greater then any other in the water.
Although it was a tremendous vessel, dwarfing all those in the water, there was rumour that it was at the end of its life and would soon be replaced by the Fast Ship S.S. Aqua from Johto. Having sailed many times on the S.S. Anne as a child Surge would be saddened if the old cruise ship was retired, like so much else in the world around him. It was symbolic of the progress being made and heralded a new age of technological prosperity.
At three-hundred and sixty-three meters long, with a beam of thirty-four meters, the Lapras-class Cruise Ship could support over seven-hundred passengers at any one time, lending its three function halls to their needs or one of dozens of onboard restaurants. It was one of a kind when it was commissioned nearly half a century ago and it still catered to the best in the world, outclassing all other cruise ships, while still allowing for lower class guests.
Surge took a deep breath of the salt air before proceeding up the gang-plank, his entourage in tow. The red and white hull and twin smoke stacks conjured memories of his childhood where he would watch the majestic behemoth set sail every chance he got. Nostalgic by the time he reached the top he was disappointed to see the first mate waiting to greet him instead of Captain Bow.
“Lieutenant Surge,” The elderly officer extended his hand forward to greet the mountainous Gym Leader. “I am Commander Stern. I’m afraid the Captain may not be joining us tonight.”
“That’s too bad,” Although disappointed by the news Surge did not let it show. Captain Bow was almost as old as the S.S. Anne itself, so it was hard to distinguish between the old seadog and the grand vessel he commanded. Commander Stern was just as ancient as his captain, but it was Bow who entertained the local schoolchildren with stories of fighting pirates off the coast of Hoenn, whilst Stern busied himself below deck with ship operation.
Directed into the main ballroom by restaurant staff Surge was surprised to see the golden halls so alive with activity. The night before any voyage from Vermilion City a great party was held in honor of the vessel’s hometown, but the captain had outdone himself this time. So many people were enjoying the festivities onboard the S.S. Anne that the royal red carpet that adorned the interiors was completely blocked out by party goers. The only floor visible was the crystal of the dance floor.
Classical music hung in the air, providing those in the centre of the room with a beat to waltz to. Everybody else strolled between their tables, chatting happily to old friends and acquaintances that could only come together at a party aboard the S.S. Anne. Stepping through the crowd Surge made for the great stairway that pointed upwards to the bow of the ship. It was in this private dinner hall that the captain’s table was situated.
Before he even reached the stairway he was stopped by a guest who recognized him and wanted to talk to him about one thing or another. It was not an unusual event, due to his position as Gym Leader. The thing that made Surge look at the boy twice was the fact that despite his tuxedo the boy looked completely out of place at the party, not in part because of the Growlithe at his side, but also because of the dirty sneakers on his feet, beneath the hired tux.
“Lieutenant Surge?” The boy asked
Pausing with one foot already on a higher step and his hand groping the railing Surge stopped to address the boy. “Yeah, that’s right. How can I help you, boy?”
“My name is Ross Spare of Pallet Town…”
Suddenly Surge’s memory returned to him, the name of Pallet Town of particular significance. He remembered all the news reports and even his conversation with Misty and realization dawned on him; Ross Spare was the trainer who won the Nugget Bridge Tournament and uncovered the Team Rocket plot. He must have received an invitation to the party from Captain Bow in recognition of his achievement in Cerulean City.
Trying to hide his ignorance Surge extended a hand. “Ah, Ross, I’ve heard a lot about you.”
* * * * *
Although the party, which was in full swing behind her called out to Amy she continued to make her way down the first-class nexus towards the officer’s quarters at the front of the ship nestled beneath the bridge for easy access during an emergency. Occasionally a member of the S.S. Anne staff would stop her and see if she required assistance, but she sent them away, because she knew exactly where she was going; Captain Bow’s cabin lay just ahead.
While Ross and Growlithe searched for Lieutenant Surge at the party Amy forced herself to steal away and find the captain of the ship. It had been some time since she had stretched her trainer muscle, having fought against her last Gym Leader over six months before in the backwater town of Pewter. Traveling with Ross only lead her to gyms she’d already been to, so she had little to do but train Vulpix, Wartortle and Geodude.
Not once did she regret her decision not to part company with the naďve trainer from Pallet Town, but it did mean that she would have to find other ways to entertain herself. Finding the legendary Captain Bow, the Cut Master, was one of these ways. Although he spent most of his time captaining the S.S. Anne Captain Bow also kept a Farfetch’d which was reputed to be capable of cutting anything its experience and skill was so wealthy. Amy looked forward to being advised by the master.
It was surprising to hear from the cook’s aid that Captain Bow would not be at the celebration he was hosting. Rumours onboard the S.S. Anne would have Amy believe that the captain was suffering from mal de mer, a condition that would make him the laughing stock of the oceanic community. Captain Bow was under the influence of sea sickness.
Coming at last to the old man’s door Amy rapped gently against the oak wood door, careful not to make too much noise incase she aroused the interest of more staff. “Captain Bow? Are you in there?”
Hearing nothing the young trainer felt defeated, however when she was alerted to movement in the room by muffled footsteps her hope of learning from a master was rekindled. Surprised by her own gall Amy reached down and turned the door handle, prying the large wooden gate from its frame. It slowly fell inwards and allowed its operator access to Captain Bow’s cabin. Holding her breath, incase she found something not too pleasant, and cursing Ross, whose persistence had obviously rubbed off on her, Amy proceeded into the room.
“What do you want?” Captain Bow shouted from beneath a towel. “Go away!” He corrected.
Stepping over the threshold of the cabin and holding her hands up in defence of her obstinacy Amy was amazed by the decor of the room; it was a monument to a man’s lifetime achievements. Along one wall was all his qualifications as captain of various ships and awards he’s be granted by captains of others, but along yet another was all the trophies he’d garnered performing his Farfetch’d’s technique at numerous tournaments and League events.
Addressing the man whose head rested on the edge of a red bucket, shielded by a white and green towel, Amy spoke up. “Captain Bow? Wow, I didn’t want to believe the rumours, but I guess they are true after all; you are sea sick.”
“Just came in here to tell me that did you, young lady? Thank you for your commentary.”
“It’s just,” Amy stammered, nervous, despite her aversion to society’s myths. “You are a living legend, so it’s really odd seeing you hurling into a bucket when you should really be navigating the oceans of the world. How did you get by for so many years with your ailment? Surely somebody would have noticed you sick before.”
Captain Bow snorted. “I never complained.”
“But wouldn’t that mean that nobody ever diagnosed you?”
“What do you want, young lady?” Bow ignored her previous rationalization.
Rolling her eyes Amy made her way over to the small kitchenette built into the side of the regal cabin. Rummaging across the tabletop she encountered a small box that made her smile and conclude her search. Pulling a mug out of the cupboard and setting the kettle to boil Amy dropped the bag of ginger tea that she had procured from the box into the mug and leant back, contently, sure that the captain would find some relief in her concoction.
Unsure as to whether he should alert security or remove the intruder himself Captain Bow struggled to his feet. “What are you doing there?”
“Making tea,” Amy answered, plainly.
“I don’t feel like tea.”
“I’m sorry, Captain, but this will make you feel better, I guarantee it.”
With the kettle’s task completed Amy began pouring the boiling water into the captain’s mug, making sure that the steaming water absorbed as much of the ginger as possible, then aptly dunking the bag twice in ceremony. Triumphant she presented her creation to the sick old captain, who stared at the tea with more then a little suspicion. He, like many others, had heard stories of queer folk about who were up to no good, so he was wary.
Despite his misgiving Captain Bow took the mug from the little girl and took a sip, cringing in the aftertaste of the ginger, but continuing to drink at his visitor’s behest. As he drank the girl came to his side and rubbed his back, spreading the warmth of the tea through his body. When he was finished the nausea that had dominated his being was diminished.
Surprised by the results of the girl’s remedy Captain Bow became curious of her identity. “Who are you?”
“My name is Amy Amaranth,” She proclaimed proudly.
Doubt still stopped him from opening up to the young lady, but Captain Bow did feel grateful to her for alleviating his illness. He had always suspected that ginger tea helped cure sea sickness, and now she had proved his theory. If he had known about the miracle cure earlier he could have avoided years of discomfort.
“Well, Miss Amaranth, thank you for your assistance.”
Amy smiled. “Actually there is something you could help me with.”
“Really? I do not know what an old dog could do for somebody such as yourself.”
“Teach me cutting combat.”
Taken off guard by her request Bow slowly realized that it made sense. He had always been unable to train an apprentice because he was too sick to be near people, but now that his ailment was resolved it was only logical that his saviour be his first pupil. Besides, he was old and he made no illusions regarding his mortality. Cutting was an art that needed to be kept alive, because none could develop it naturally.
As excitement gripped his old heart so did dawning sadness. “I would be happy to help you, however the S.S. Anne sets sail tomorrow, and it would take more then one night to teach you about the art of Cut. Are you traveling to Johto? If you are taking the full trip and not just attending the party I could expose you to all the wonders of my Farfetch’d’s technique.”
“Oh,” Amy’s face was plunged into deep thought. “I don’t know where I’m going.”
“The S.S. Anne docks at Mahogany Town,” Bow advised her.
Sadly, Amy shook her head. “I actually have some business in Kanto.”
“That’s too bad,” Captain Bow admitted solemnly. It was a shame that Amy wouldn’t be able to train with him, but he could tell that she could get by without being a Cut master. “Although you wont be able to gain any sort of mastery over Cut tonight, perhaps we can attend the party together and I can give you some pointers. It’s the least I could do for you.”
“I’d like that.”
So, as Amy waited outside the captain’s cabin Bow fixed himself up, putting his tie on over his uniform, which was unbuttoned in a futile attempt to removed pressure on his belly during his retching. When his party clothes were in order Captain Bow made his way out of the cabin and met up with the girl. Arm in arm they made their way back to the party.
Coming back out in the main reception hall Amy was struck with a sense of awe. Although there were many trainers at the party she could see that the youngest was a few years older then her; even if Bill had decided to attend he would have been considered a spring-chicken. The age barriers troubled her not, though, because in her black dress the thirteen-year-old felt splendid.
Amy looked around the party in search of Ross and Growlithe. She wondered if her naďve young friend had found Lieutenant Surge or not. Despite his scruffy nature he would blend in well with the rest of the party goers, handsome in his miniature tuxedo as she was in her little dress. I was all very pretentious, playing grown ups, but Amy played a child every other day, so she wanted it to be different for once.
Led up to the private balcony by the captain Amy was troubled to hear shouting coming from Captain Bow’s table. For some reason Ross immediately came to mind, but she dismissed the thought that he was the cause of all disagreements everywhere. When she heard a Growlithe barking Amy slapped her forehead.
“What’s going on here?” Captain Bow demanded of his guests.
Although for the most part Amy couldn’t recognize the people she managed to put faces to reputations. There was Ross of course, who was locked in argument with a man of military posture, who Amy remembered was Major Victor from the Vermilion Gym. His commanding officer, the imposing Lieutenant Surge, sat to the side, an amused grin slowly creasing his face. Trying to break up the disagreement was Commander Stern, a sailor almost as ancient and revered as Captain Bow. Finally, an older man with a mystical white beard sat apart from the events at the table with a lady of similar ancient age.
Victor, seeing Captain Bow, straightened his uniform, always glaring at Ross. “Captain Bow, it’s good to see you can join us, we heard that you were indisposed from Commander Stern. I trust the force preventing you from joining us was not serious.”
“Not anymore,” Bow smiled at Stern. “Now, young man, don’t avoid my question.”
“This kid is plaguing our table with lies and deceit!”
“That is Tauros,” Ross shouted, defiantly.
Pulling out a seat for Amy Captain Bow took his place at the head of the table. “Could you expand on your accusations, Major, or should I remain in suspense?”
Wiping his forehead with a napkin Victor tried to calm himself before continuing. There was no doubt in Captain Bow’s mind he didn’t want to lose face in front of his girlfriend’s grandfather, so he allowed the youngster his breath. “This boy claimed to be the champion of the Nugget Bridge Tournament. He had us all fooled!”
“Lies!” Ross interrupted. “All lies!”
“It’s true,” Surge muttered. “It was really my mistake.”
With a contorted look of frustration Victor continued, trying not to step on his commanding officer’s toes either. “Colonel Surge made the initial mistake of believing the boy was Alexander Oak, but luckily Mr. Lincoln picked up the deception.”
Looking sideways to the last member of the party, Amy was shocked to realize that she recognized the man at last. He was Howard Lincoln, the President of the Pokémon Fan Club, and a legend in his own time. Now he just amused himself by encouraging the young to follow their own dreams. Lincoln perplexed Amy greatly, for he was mainly myth, but there were many stories of him encountering legendary Pokémon.
“Don’t drag me into this debacle,” Mr. Lincoln pleaded with a laugh.
Turning to Ross Captain Bow shrugged. “Do you have anything to say in your defence?”
“First, let me just say that I never once suggested that I was Alexander Oak, but Lieutenant Surge just got mixed up when he heard where I was from. Major Pain-in-the-Arse here got angry when I alluded to his brain being the size of a Rattata terd, and then things got blown way out of proportion.”
“Please, Captain Bow,” Amy spoke up. “Ross is my friend, so I know that he’s telling the truth. This was probably just a big misunderstanding.”
Rubbing his chin Bow shook his head. “I don’t know Miss Amaranth.”
“Amaranth?” Surge murmured under his breath.
“Ross and I are here representing William Aboideau, and you trust his judgement, don’t you?”
Captain Bow thought for a moment and Amy feared that Major Victor was going to see his desires come to fruition and Ross keel-hauled, but just as Bow delivered his verdict he smiled at Amy. “I suppose you are right. If young Master Bill can vouch for him then I’m sure Ross is of noble character. Besides, I owe you a lot more then some archaic wisdom, Amy.”
Hearing his master’s name and ‘noble’ used in the same sentence caused Growlithe to chuckle. Not prepared to try his luck Ross kicked his companion in the ribs, jarring him out of his amused chortle. Captain Bow greeted Ross to the table officially as Ross Spare of Pallet Town instead of Alexander Oak, a mistaken identity that Ross would be more then happy to shed, considering his disposition towards Pallet’s prodigal son.
Once the guests had recovered from the excitement of the identity crisis they began to delve into Ross’ past, asking questions of his hopes and dreams and his relationship to Alexander Oak, who had amassed quite a bit of popularity, especially in Howard Lincoln’s circle of followers. Hearing that Ross already had two badges the guests encouraged him to challenge Lieutenant Surge, or Lieutenant Colonel Surge, as his official rank insignia displayed.
When Ross’ interrogation was finished the conversation turned to politics, some supporting the international government in Celadon City, but still others against the Prime Minister and his stubborn refusal to open free trade with Hoenn, like many other organizations in Kanto, including the Silph Corporation and the Pokémon League itself. When talk turned to rising Pokémon crime in Kanto Colonel Surge politely excused himself.
Despite a rocky start Ross was pleased with himself at the end of the night; he had managed to make powerful contacts in the Pokémon world, including Major Victor who begrudgingly warmed up to the young trainer, and by nine o’clock Ross and Amy found themselves standing on deck, excused for the evening while the older guests were regaled with stories of Captain Bow’s adventures in the south islands.
Equally bored by the discussion of the old folks Surge followed the kids out. Ross, Amy and Growlithe made it all the way around the to starboard side of the ship, which faced the black sea and the crystal clear night, all signs of an overcast day washed away, before Surge caught up to them. “Excuse me, Ross.”
“Lieutenant Surge?” Ross squinted in the moonlight. “Or do you prefer Lieutenant Colonel?”
Surge shrugged nonchalantly. “Whatever; you are a Pokémon Trainer, so it’s okay.”
“Have you thought about helping Pikachu?” Amy asked.
“Sure, although I’m a Gym Leader, not a doctor, but I’ll see what I can do,” Surge agreed to help with a lot less goading then Ross or Amy originally thought. “But the main reason I followed you out here is to ask you to challenge me to a gym battle,” Seeing his audience’s bemused expressions Surge shrugged. “You know how it is; there are no challenging trainers these days, but good trainers come out of Pallet Town. What do you say?”
“Okay, I guess. How about Amy?”
“Well, she’s already beat me before, but if she wants a rematch,” The colonel grinned.
“Been here too, eh?”
Turning to leave Surge looked at his watch and saw that it was nearly lights out time and he wanted to get in a quick drink at the pub while he was off the base. “Why don’t you swing by the base tomorrow and I’ll see if me and my boys can’t help Pikachu? See you then.”
Lieutenant Colonel Surge was a friendly enough person to Ross, but he could see the Gym Leader was the extroverted jock-type that always gave him a hard time in school. Old animosity aside Ross was glad the base commander was going to help him with Pikachu. When he first set course for Vermilion City he thought he was going to heal one of his friends, and now, to his pleasure, he was going to get a gym battle as well.
Leaning against the railing and enjoying the moonlight as it reflected on the still water in the bay Ross tried to take in as much of the sight as possible, because in a couple of days time living the high-life would just be a memory and he would be back in a life of constant training and uncertainty. T was true that he would never trade that life for any other, but it was good to have a break in routine. Even Bill’s house provided a change of scenery.
Suddenly remembering Bill and Amy’s birthday Ross turned to his friend, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a round object wrapped in a white paper bag. “Happy birthday, Amy.”
Amy, who was deep in thought, performed a double-take on the bag. “Ross, thank you.”
“Sorry, it’s nothing extravagant. I just used the some left over money you gave me for the tux.”
Spotting the sneakers Ross was wearing in place of the highly polished shoes that usually accompanied formal wear Amy raised an eyebrow in suspicion. It was apparent her funding had been used for personal use, but she didn’t mind. The thought was all that counted. Tearing the white paper off Amy smiled when she saw a Pokéball with a black and yellow northern hemisphere fell out. It was a Greatball, the advanced version of the Pokéball by the Silph Corporation.
“Look on the back,” Ross said, gleefully.
Turning the Greatball over to see the opposite side from the activation trigger Amy found some small writing, carved into the battle using a knife or another crude implement. It read:
“Happy 13th Birthday, Amy
Catch something legendary
Your friend, Ross”
“Friend,” Amy murmured in shock. She was surprised to hear Ross use such a word, because she hadn’t had a human friend since before she began her journey nearly two years before. Emotion swarmed her heart, but she stifled it, a task that had become frighteningly easy through practice.
Looking up to see Ross staring intently at the moon, wonder in his eyes Amy felt some of the emotion she was feeling bleed through. It was incredible for her to accept such feelings, but it felt so natural it couldn’t be wrong. Ross was her friend; they had been on the road together for months, and in the month since the Nugget Bridge Tournament Ross had opened up to her, kidding around as he or she would with their Pokémon.
Ignoring the icy shield she had created around her heart, like a Cloyster’s shell, Amy leant forward and kissed Ross affectionately on the cheek, snapping him out of his dream-like trance. Her feelings for him were completely unlike those she felt for Bill, and it was no surprise that his reaction was completely different as well.
“What are you doing, wench?” Ross gasped.
Amy grinned. For the first time in a long time she felt close to somebody, not romantically attracted, but emotionally close, and this made her feel safe, not vulnerable as she’s always suspected. Hugging her perplexed companion Amy soaked in the night, committing everything from the stars to Ross’ horrified _expression to memory, because it would soon drift away. She had always thought that winning Pokémon battles made her happy, but now, as she hugged her friend, she wasn’t so sure that was where real happiness lay.
Meanwhile, Ross was wondering if it was a wise idea to give the girl his carefully chosen gift. Maybe he should have just stashed the money until an opportunity presented itself for him to buy a bike from the stores in Celadon City.
“Girls,” Ross huffed.