The Road to Indigo (Pokemon RP (Closed): Chapter 7: Dead Living On The Radio...)

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After Sarah had said that she was alright and was able to lift herself to stand, Callum grabbed onto Eileen's leg again and stood up as well. There was a sharp and then dull pain in his knee, but he was still good to go.

"Looks like you can use a hand, bro. No need to have all this baggage when London Bridge is falling down, yaknowutumsayin'?"

Callum was surprised by the other man's arrival. "Huh?" Was all Callum could get out in his first response. After a second of processing what the man had said Callum was ready for a proper reply. "No I'm good. I can carry Eileen by myself and Sarah's alright to walk on her own. Now let's get to those life boats and get back to shore." Callum replied to Charlie and Sarah before turning and heading for the lifeboats at a jogging speed.

"This way!" Leading the charge off the deck was Marlon, the only crew member who wasn't participating in the battle, and thus the only one who knew where the intact lifeboats would be. The members of the crowd who didn't have Flying Pokemon who could carry them off the ship were hustled down flights of stairways to a lower deck where the lifeboat access was. The gradual tipping of the ship was making things a little difficult to traverse, but Marlon was able to get the stream of people flowing to the proper place.

The S.S. Anne had been fitted with a loose pulley system that allowed the boats to be brought to where they would be needed, to make sure all would be used in case of an emergency such as this. But there still probably wouldn't be enough. Marlon looked down at the distance still needed to go before hitting the water. Judging from the bend of the ship, there wasn't much time before

"All right, well have to do this the hard way. Come on out, Shakespeare!"

Marlon tossed a Pokeball in the air and emerging in the water below was a massive Gyarados, which elicited a few terrified screams from party goers not aware that this was a trained Gyarados.

"GYAR!" it roared, drawing more screams.

"Shakespeare!" Marlon commanded. "Grab a hold of the railing!"

The massive Pokemon extended it's body upwards and clamped down on the rails of the exposed decking with its teeth. It gave it's trainer an assured nod.

"Good work Shakespeare! Now every one with a water Pokemon capable of supporting them, climb down on Shakespeare's back and get to a point where you can safety disembark and ride back to shore! Everyone else, start filing into the life boats, and I'll start lowering you down into the water!"

The back end of the ship was starting to sink, the hole blasted out by Jean-Simon's escape causing it to submerge twice as fast as the other end, but that was the other reason Marlon released Shakespeare. His strength should be able to keep the other end of the ship afloat for long enough to get everyone off. Or so he hoped. Lt. Surge was making sure any non Rocket trainers didn't get left behind the ship. Once he got back, he'd know how long they had.

A few people moved forward and timidly moved down Shakespeare's back as others started slowly getting on the boats that Marlon indicated. It was moving in an orderly fashion for now.

"All right!" Surge's yell was unmistakeable from even the depths of the stairwell. "Everyone's out! Let's move'em!"

Marlon nodded and started helping more people onto the boats. The younger trainers were helped on ahead of some of the older ones and a couple of lifeboats could be seen floating alongside the ship. Trainers were starting to make the leap off the Gyarados and onto their own Pokemon. Then the noise came.

A loud creak came from the middle part of the ship, followed by a whoosh of air. The back end of the ship was starting to dip below the waves and the front end was starting to tilt a little towards it. It was time to get out, order be damned, and people without Pokemon that afforded them ocean travel started pushing to get towards the boats. It was quickly turning to chaos.

Jordan was along the side of the throng, belly up against the railing of the ship as everyone suddenly tried to move forward. The small launching platform was packed tighter as a can of sardines and with the heightened sense of urgency, everyone was desperate to create some space. He couldn't see anyone from the group he was travelling with, certainly not beyond the large man right beside him. He tried to use his lanky body to his advantage, peering up and over to see where the others might have been shuffled in the crowd. He even got up off of his heels to try and get an advantage on the other heads, but the man beside him was having none of that.

"Back off punk!" he said, intent on keeping his space in what was left of the line. To punctuate this threat, he shot an elbow off to the side, catching Jordan right in the jaw.

The second that strike made contact with his head, Jordan regretting trading a couple extra inches in height for a good percentage of his balance. The blow knocked Jordan off his feet, and off to the side. Unfortunately for him, there was no wall to cushion his blow. Just a gravity-powered express lane off the ship. Jordan took that trip, plummeting into the cold sea below. Still knocked for a loop by the man's elbow, Jordan was unable to stop himself from sinking at a pace matching the S.S. Anne.

It was a quieter world under the waves. The roars of the events above barely registered to the denizens of the deep that Jordan had joined. The most prominent sound was that of bubbles. Bubbles of air escaping the pockets of his hoodie and jeans, and the packet of jerky bites still lodged in his sweatshirt. That rush forced a pair of meatballs out and into the open water. At the emergence of these tasty treats, two droplets of light shined nearby.

When Jordan finally came to, he was on the back end of the giant Pokemon that the fishing guy had holding the ship up. An older man leaned over him, hands still on Jordan's chest. "He's awake!" he called up towards the ship. "Looks like he's going to be OK!" He leaned back in, taking his hands off his chest. "Boy, you got some lucky there! Surviving a fall like that! What were you thinking?"

Jordan, as usual, was confused. "I what? I fell? Dude, I don't even know. I was like up there, and now I'm here."

The man shook his head. "Must be a bit of brain damage," he muttered to himself. Looking back at Jordan, he stated. "Again, you just got lucky your Pokemon kept you bobbing along there. Don't even know how he got out, but he saved your life, that one."

This didn't clear anything up for Jordan. My Pokemon? I didn't know Vince bro could swim. I thought he was like, anti-water or something. "Where is my bro?"

"Over there," the man pointed just of the Gyarados' tail and into the water.

Jordan looked over expecting to see Vince hovering above the water, but all he could see is a pair of glowing yellow droplets, illuminating a blue face with a pair of plus signs for eyes. "Chinnnchow!" it confirmed.

"Wait but that's..." Jordan was going to explain that it wasn't his Pokemon, but this man did just say it managed to keep him afloat in the ocean until he was brought aboard the makeshift medical station. "You think he's strong enough to get me back to shore?" The little face in the water didn't look like it was built for endurance.

"He kept you up didn't he?" the man told him. "Look if you're that worried about him, you can follow me and my Seaking. You can follow in our wake, might be a little easier."

"OK, that could work I guess," Jordan bluffed. He had no idea what that was in the water, but if it saved him, it must at least be friendly. Still, a little bit more cajoling couldn't hurt. "Here Buddy!" Jordan said, the on-the-spot name earning a bit of a scoff from the man who tended to him. "Come get a treat for saving my life!" He reached into the pocket of his shirt and pulled out a soggy jerky bite.

The Chinchou had a fair amount of it's new found prey today, and it wasn't going to let another opportunity for a morsel pass it by. Especially now that it had found the source of it's recently discovered favorite snack. The Angler Pokemon quickly swam over and hopped up onto the Gyarados' tail. Running as fast as it's little legs could carry it, the Chinchou bounded over and happily ate one of the jerky bites. "Chowchow!!" it exclaimed, even licking at Jordan's hand to get all the flavor it could.

Now that it was out of the water, Jordan got a better look at the relatively small Water type. Small, but still apparently able to hold him afloat. Well, like, I guess if he likes me, that means I finally got a Water Pokemon. That works I guess. It's what I wanted.

"OK, you ready? We need to clear out so others can get down here and get off," the man stated.

"Yeah, totally dude. Let's get out of here."

The man let out his Seaking and dove into the water to grab onto him, Jordan and Chinchou following behind him. As Jordan held onto Chinchou's sides and swam off, he did enjoy the experience of being carried along by a Pokemon again. It reminded of him of home, and it was the first good feeling he had in a day that seemed like it dragged on for months.

Marlon's skills at training his Pokemon were just as impressive as his fishing skills and they showed. Despite the ship's best efforts, Shakespeare was able to keep the S.S. Anne from sinking until the last person had been loaded either into a boat, or onto it's back. Once the Man Overboard drama had passed, things went much more smoothly, with very few injuries to report. Once Shakespeare let go of the ship however, it quickly completed it's goal of turning into a Polish submarine. As the trainers looked on, the S.S. Anne disappeared into the depths of the bay.

Once the lifeboat was moving away from the ship, Rochelle let out a sigh of relief and slumped in her seat, grateful for the small boats that the ship had possessed. Two encounters with Team Rocket in three days... it was nuts. Absolutely insane. First they destroy part of a mountain, now they sink a ship with hundreds of people aboard... still, everyone had made it out alive.

Except that one guy who had been shot. But Rochelle didn't want to think about that. She busied herself with her pack to take her mind off of it, making sure that her possessions were unchanged. Aside from a little smoke damage to the pack itself, everything was fine apart from being shaken around. Which was good. Her Poké Balls, too, were all there on her belt; another relief. Satisfied with her possessions being okay, Rochelle turned her gaze from her pack to the others aboard the lifeboat. She didn't want to look back at the wreck of the S.S. Anne.

Shit. Shit! was all that Aeris could think. Please get us safely to land, please get us safely to land... Every time someone even bumped slightly into her, she jumped. Mika was there to help her along, but even he could only do so much. Aeris had not taken kindly to the giant Gyarados that had appeared. It frightened her enough to close her eyes and hold her hands over them, letting Mika guide her to the life boats.

They got into a life boat with plenty of other people and were lowered down, and started moving away from the S.S. Anne when it sunk into the ocean. Relieved that things were better now, Aeris still didn't feel comfortable. All this water surrounding them. Who know if she'd fall into it? She buried her face in Mika's chest and held onto him tightly while he tried to comfort her.

Though that was hard when they had apparently gotten onto a boat with a few kids who were having fun rocking it a bit back and forth since they were bored and just wanted to do something until they got back to land. This only caused Aeris to panic even more, holding tighter around Mika. "Hey! Stop that! She's afraid of water!" Mika yelled at the kids, who stopped and felt bad about what they'd done. "Sorry, lady." one of them said to Aeris. This made her smile a little, though not for long. Mika sighed and rubbed the back of her head, waiting until they'd get back to land so that Aeris would get better.

The rush of people headed to the lifeboats overwhelmed Sarah. She was used to crowds, going to university and living in the city, but never had there been such a rush to where they were going. She guessed that a bomb planted on a ship was enough to cause that panic.

When the explosion had come, they had all begun going to the lifeboats and upon arrival, Sarah jumped in to help Callum bring his lady friend into the boat. She was heavy though and Sarah ended up just barely getting her into the boat before falling down and taking the girl and Callum down with her. She struggled to the top of their pile of bodies and called the man who had just joined them into the boat as well. When he entered the boat shuddered and began to lower into the waves, the wakes of which were getting larger as the massive boat slowly shuddered into the sea.

She turned to the others in the boat, kids shivering, anxious mothers pouring over them, it was obvious that this was a new experience for them. Not the ship sinking, Sarah expected that a ship sinking would be a new experience for almost anyone, but rather the idea of terror, or of not having anything, cruise ships were not cheap after all so it was evident that for the most part one had to have money to even attend such a party.

As she thought about this, she fingered her two Pokeballs absentmindedly. In addition to Mai, she had a Magicarp named Splash that she had obtained early into her trip. She silently cursed that she hadn't taken the time to evolve it, a Gyrados might have been able to take she and her friends with it across the sea. It couldn't be helped, but she also couldn't help but feel guilty that if she had actually trained a little instead of just researching, she might have been able to help more instead of being a hindrance.

Charlie took a bit of pause, stopping to realize just how dire the situation had become. He struggled to keep his footing as the ship he stood on kept rumbling. Kids, adults, trainers alike all showing varying faces of panic, terror, fear. Even with the lifeboats, with safety being within but a few lively strides, it was an emotion that still showed prominent. Which was normal, and expected. It's not everyday that the massive ship you once enjoyed amenities, commodities, and some camaraderie on, actively disintegrated under your feet. The trainer looked on silently as people of all types boarded the lifeboat before him, including the trio of trainers he offered to help.

The one blonde of the three called out to him, and excitedly motioned for him to board as well. It snapped him from his little trance, and the sounds of screaming around him intensified in his ears. As one of the last to climb onto the boat, Charlie kept silent as he sat ahead the three trainers. He turned around in his seat. He couldn't take his eyes off the S.S. Anne as they were lowered into the water below. Even as they slowly paddled to land, Charlie said nothing. Around him, passengers whimpered and sniffled. He looked towards the three trainers, remembered how the boy inadvertently gave the names of the two girls, but not his own. It seemed Eileen drunkenly faded in and out of consciousness, with Sarah lost in thought. The cruise ship behind them soon lost its main power, and the lights flickered out. The occurrence made everyone jump. A scream was heard from beyond the lifeboat Charlie inhabited. The world around them became ever so dark, and the water accentuated the darkness.

There was nothing left to watch of the Anne, and Charlie looked down to his fellow trainers. After minutes of keeping his mouth shut, he decided he should break the silence with a proper introduction. He held out one of his hands.

"I'm Charlie. guys from around here? I'm from Johto." He established quietly, he deciding the situation didn't really call for raised voices. Then, his question made him think about all the others he managed to meet earlier. Rochelle, Aeris, Jordan. He began to wonder if they managed to make it to a lifeboat. He hadn't seen any of them after the Team Rocket attack. The hand held out sprung to life as his Xtransciever began to ring. He pulled the hand back, and saw that it was his mother. Had she already found out about the terrorist attack? He let the device ring a few more times before deciding to ignore the call. He knew how his mother was, she'd call again.

"I'll talk to you later, Ma." He thought slowly, watching the screen of the Xtransceiver go dim.

As the boats slowly made their way back towards the mainland, powered by Pokemon and paddle alike, Jordan kicked along as his new ally carried him along through the waves. Everything on him was now soaked, his sleeping bag and frying pan were sinking down to the bottom of the sea with the S.S. Anne, and this was not the way he intended to return to the water, but right now he couldn't be any happier. The fact that this Pokemon in front of him willingly came out of the depths and saved him, it was a needed boost after those battles with Misty and Rochelle shook his confidence. I can totally do this. If this little bro believes in me like that, to come up with me, I gotta be like, doing something right. Yeah.

The lights atop the Chinchou's head served as a beacon to the people waiting on the pier and on the shore. The explosion had shaken the tranquil night across Vermillion, and to see so many trainers returning safely eased many of the citizens' fears. They started processing the partygoers immediately; getting any injuries and Pokemon looked after, helping people deal with the situation, finding enough beds for everyone. It was an ordeal, but the city was up for it. Everyone was eventually taken care of.

Inside a hotel next to the pier that had been converted into a one night hostel, Jordan sat down on the toilet in the bathroom. The shower was running on cold, as he looked after his newest companion. The Chinchou was frolicking in the water, enjoying the sprinkling.

Jordan tossed one of his leftover jerky bites into the tub, and Chinchou quickly ate it up. "You know, you're a real bro coming through like for me. Not even like my Pokemon, and you saved my ass from the deep."

"Chooooow? Chowchowchinchow." Bro? I'm a girl, but you can call me whatever if you keep giving me that food.

"I know it's probably just cause of the food, but still, means a lot." Jordan stared ahead into the wall, still a bit overwhelmed by the events of the evening. "And, I dunno if you're cool with this, or what not, but like, I want you to stick with me, you know?"

"Chinchowchinchinchow. Chinchow." You keep giving me food like that, I'll let you hitch a ride anytime. That stuff is awesome.

Jordan didn't understand Chinchou, but it seemed to be agreeable enough. "That's awesome. And you know, I think I got a name for you too. It's kind of girly, but whatever, it's important to me, so you can deal. Worse case Johto, we'll find something else. Anyway, before I got shipped out to Pallet, I was saving up for this primo board. It was so just rad looking, it had the water playing with the sun, and it was so slick and everything. Like, it was just perfect. And it was called 'The Solana'. Dunno what it means, but it was awesome. But now, you're the awesome one little bro. So I think that's what you should be. K Solana?"

"Chinchow! Chinchowchinchinchow! Chowchow! I like it! First the food, now the name! I think this is going to work!

Jordan smiled as Solana seemed to take to her new name like a sunburn to a redhead. "I'm stoked you like it so much. Thought you like, wouldn't like it, like you know?" Jordan produced one of the Pokeballs from his pocket. "All right, so like you're good to get in this then?"

Jordan pressed the button to enlarge the ball, but instead of an empty ball, he picked an occupied one. Vicky flew out into the small room. "BITBITBIT! BITBIT! BITBIT!" THIS IS TOO SMALL! TOO BRIGHT! LET ME OUT! She darted around the room, bashing into the walls due to the high watt hotel lighting. Luckily she managed to hit the button and plunge the bathroom into darkness. Or so it would have been, had Solana's antennae glowed enough to light the tub area. Still, the absence of heat was enough to calm Vicky down, as she perched on the shower bar above the tub, hanging upside down.

"Sorry Vicky bro," Jordan apologized. "Least Solana's got the light covered."

"Bit?" Who? Vicky pinged down to discover the other presence in the tub below. "Bitbitzubit? Zubit..." Another girl who makes light? I don't know...

"Chinchowchow. Chinchow." Least I don't freak out like that. Disgraceful.

Jordan tossed another bite to Solana, and she attacked the morsel with reckless abandon, gobbling it up. Vicky let out a noise that could be interpreted as a high pitched snicker. "Again, sorry Vicky." He returned the Bat Pokemon into her ball. Fishing in his pockets he found another ball. "K, this one's gotta be empty. It's light and stuff. So you cool with this, Solana?"

The antennae bobbed up and down, indicating a nod of approval.

"Cool." Jordan lightly tossed the ball at Solana, and the light and red energy disappeared into it. It barely shook in the pool of cold water before clicking shut. Jordan plucked the ball out of the tub and shut off the water. "Man, what a long ass day." He left the bathroom intent on getting a good night's sleep for once.

END OF CHAPTER 5! (That took forever...)


"I would like to thank you all for coming out today. I know the events of last night were rough on everyone," the man on top of the steps started. A meeting was called at Vermillion City Hall with all the survivors of the S.S. Anne sinking required to be present.

"Anyway, my name is Patt Roman. I am the president of Grand Old Party Cruises, and owner of the S.S. Anne. I can not express enough shame that what started as a way to promote the relaunching of one of our flagships turned into such a horrendous disaster. What happened on board was a tragic hijacking that could not have been prevented and totally was not my fault in any way whatsoever! Now, as compensation for all the suffering caused on board by these heinous criminals, I would like to announce that my company is going to give each one of you, a one time check for $1500 dollars!" This was met with some applause from the crowd. "You can spend this on whatever you like; replacements for your valuables, therapy, donations to my campaign to become Governor of Kanto, anything. However, by taking this money, you officially agree that this sinking was no fault of my own or my company's, and will not attempt to hire any lawyers to prove otherwise! Also, by showing up at this meeting, you will be accepting the check and not taking any other recourse, or asking for money at a later date! Is that clear? Great! Then I'm off to a pancake luncheon with the directors of ShieldonMobil! Peace out!" Roman released a Braviary from a Pokeball and awkwardly hopped on before the Valiant Pokemon took off into the sky.

"Whatta swell guy," Lt. Surge said to himself as he took to the microphone. "All right! You heard da man! Reps at da alley ways will be giving ya da checks! Cash 'em at the banks nearby! If yas want something ta do, come down to da gym and see if you can take me on! This meeting is over!" Surge walked confidently off the steps back towards his beloved gym, as the crowd was left wondering what had just happened.

Jordan was looking through the crowd for any of his friends since they were all separated on the ship, and the first one he ran into was Alan, who was rushing off back towards the North exits. "New Guy! Where you going bro?"

Alan recognized the surfer voice and turned around. "I'm going back to Johto, Jordan. A first hand account of this story will be just the thing to give my career a kick start! I might even get to do an expose on Roman. I think he's been hiding his taxes in the Orange Islands. Anyway, tell Eileen I'll run with what I got from her, and to look for the story!"

Alan bolted after that, running right past the attendants who were handing out the compensation checks. As the walked around, one of them handed Jordan an envelope, containing his hush money.

"Well, this is totally going to food. Wonder where everyone else is?" Jordan looked around, trying to find another familiar face amongst the crowd.

During the night after the events with Team Rocket and S.S. Anne, Mika's mental health had taken a turn for the worse due to the Team Rocket attack as he started to freak out in the middle of the night, throwing Aeris out of the bed they slept in inside the Pokécenter. She woke up suddenly because of that and was scared of what she saw. The nurses presumably heard the noise from him, as he wasn't exactly keeping the noise down, and saw him freaking out over there. "Get the sedatives before he hurts anyone else or himself!" One of the nurses ran back to the front of the Center to grab the sedative while the other nurse held Mika down in the bed. Aeris just watched in fear with tears in her eyes, the recent incident along with this taking its toll on her.

The other nurse came back with the sedatives and administered it to a vein in his arm. After a moment or so, he relaxed and seemingly fell back to sleep. The nurses had handled a case like this before, even if they were more used to Pokémon than people. They would, however, need to call a real hospital. The nurse that held down Mika went over to Aeris and hugged her, holding her close to her. "It'll be alright, dear. He'll be alright..." She wasn't sure she sounded convincing herself, but she tried her best to comfort the crying Aeris.

Soon enough, paramedics came to retrieve Mika, carrying him out on a stretcher and into an ambulance. Aeris didn't have the will to stand up, so the nurses had to help her back into bed since the floor would be too cold for her to sit on all night. One of them stayed behind to comfort her, since this was probably more than she could handle all alone. They'd seen how close the two were when they entered the Pokécenter earlier that night, so they figured how hard this might be for Aeris. She kept crying her eyes out and eventually cried herself to sleep, but the nurse stayed by her side the whole night.

Aeris wasn't all there during Patt's speech, thinking about the event from last night, both on the S.S. Anne and in the Pokécenter. Her eyes were red because of the tears she'd shed, and she was still on the verge of starting again. The crowd applauded when Patt mentioned the money and, once he was gone, Aeris started to look for some of the others. She was handed an envelope with a check and put it in her backpack for the moment. She kept looking for the others, but she was feeling so weak, she fell down on her knees and held a hand to her forehead, her other hand on the ground as she started to cry again. When would Mika be alright again? What would she do until then? She didn't care about anything else right now. She just wanted Mika to be alright.

Simon took his check feeling only mildly compensated for the crazy events on board the S.S. Anne. 'No more parties, no more boats.' he decided looking at the almost glittering gold text used on the heavy paper. On the bright side he wouldn't need to deliver any packages any time soon. He should probably check in to the office anyway though. 'Just in case they have an emergency.' With Shadow safely resting in his Poke Ball Simon had an easier time navigating the rush of people all trying to get their fair share of checks. "Excuse me, excuse me." He was so very tired of people. And crowds. And crowds of people. Once free of the mob Simon paused to take a breath. He spotted a relatively empty bench nearby and immediately gravitated towards it. With his backpack secured just-so on his back he didn't want to take the time to unstrap from all of his gear. So he...leaned for a bit.

'No offense', Simon thought, glancing down at the bundle carefully secured across his chest, 'but you've gotta start carrying your own weight one of these days. The Pokemon egg was barely visible in its wrapping of cloth and clothing. 'I need to find the bank.' Simon realized. He had a bright and shiny check to deposit. And a possible Poké Mart trip to make. 'Two stops, maximum.' And then lunch since it was about that time. 'Three stops. What kind of person has pancake luncheons? Oh, wait.' Simon glanced down at his C-Gear. He had to stop by the Pokemon Center before lunch. Possibly even before the Poke Mart spending spree. His strange non-appointment appointment to pick up Drowzee was soon. Simon frowned as he recalled his visit the previous night.

"But why do I have to leave him?" The doctor had tried to explain twice already but with complex phrases filled with medical terminology and a lot of numbers. Simon wanted a simple and plain reason for Drowzee to be left for 'overnight testing'. One without numbers!

"The doctor should have gone over this with you already." The assistant who Simon had been directed to had started off impatient and was rapidly approaching annoyed based on his sharp tone.

"He did but-"

"The Pokemon must be left for overnight examination. Trainer scheduled for follow-up report and pickup tomorrow afternoon. See, it says right here."

"I'm sorry but I still don't-"

"For Psychic Pokemon, most of our best work is done when they're asleep. We can monitor their vital signs and check for anything irregular in their brain wave activity." The helpful and coherent explanation came from a new voice. Simon turned to see one of the front desk clerks, phone in hand, giving him a friendly smile. "Plus our x-ray machine is broken and the technician won't be in until morning.".

The assistant gave an indignant huff but made no direct comment.

"Thank you." Simon sighed heavily. He gave a respectful nod to the clerk who smiled again and waved before turning back to her station.

"Here." The assistant dropped a stack of paper onto the front desk. "This is your receipt. This is the agreement form stating that we're allowed to test, treat, and administer items to your Pokemon during its stay. Just sign at the bottom of each page and Judy will finish processing everything." Judy, for Simon could see the name tag once he got closer, began dutifully stamping each sheet of paper while still maintaining her phone call. Were he in a better mood Simon would have been impressed by the multitasking. As it was he accepted his papers in silence. He earmarked the page stating that he had to return by two p.m. the next day.

"Have a nice night." Judy called after Simon as he left the building. Busy reading his papers, he forgot to respond.

'Bank, Center, Spree.' Simon recited to himself. Abandoning his bench he walked along the road until he spotted a sign with Bank --> in golden paint. He began to walk in the indicated direction.

For a change, Rochelle had managed to sleep through the night: being exhausted from the events aboard the S.S. Anne helped a lot. Though by the time she got up, properly awake and rested for the first time in a while, she remembered the Rocket surprise in its entirety. The appearances, the battle... the shooting. Again, Rochelle didn't want to think about that. She needed to move on.

Which was exactly what she had planned for the day. Cashing the cheque she had received from an attendant could wait. She wanted to challenge Lieutenant Surge. Hopefully the ensuing battle would be a good one, pushing away the memories of the previous night. An important point to consider was that everyone she knew had made it out okay. She hadn't had much contact with any of her friends that morning, save for the odd wave or 'hello'.

But the point remained. Rochelle knew that she could take comfort in the smaller things. She remembered a couple of lines from an oldish song: Yesterday is history, tomorrow just a mystery. The past was just that. It had already happened. There was no point in dwelling on it.

All of these slightly clichéd phrases she recalled, smiling to herself as she made her way to the Vermilion City Pokémon Gym. Most of her Pokémon were travelling alongside her: Phoenix was soaring above her, Iskra walking alongside her, and Eva was jumping-slash-gliding from lamp-post to lamp-post. A couple of times, Rochelle had to remind her two Flying-types to stay close. Eva needed more reminding than Phoenix, who happily returned to her when she told him to.

It turned out there was a bit of a queue to get into the Gym: most of the people that made up the line were likely Trainers from the S.S. Anne, Rochelle figured. Still, that would give her time to plan how to beat the Lieutenant. She began to think over her options as she joined the back of the line. Surge favoured Electric-types, so the obvious answer was Eva since she was part Ground-type and thus immune to Surge's type of choice. The next best back-up... Iskra? Maybe. Or Phoenix if he could move fast enough to dodge the inevitable lightning bolts that Surge's Pokémon would throw -

"Hey, you. You with the Spearow."

A rude voice cut into Rochelle's thoughts. She turned to find a Trainer behind her, brandishing a Poké Ball. "How's about a practice match before taking on the Gym Leader?" She recognised the guy. It was the Trainer she had beaten back on the S.S. Anne, the one with the Sudowoodo.

"Practice match? More like a rematch, I think," she answered. "You lost to me before, and I'll beat you again. Got anything other than that Sudowoodo?" she half-mocked, a smirk on her face as she remembered how easily Kirsten had drenched the Rock-type.

"You know it. Come on out, Slugma!" The guy released his Pokémon from the Ball. A small red creature that appeared to be made entirely of lava materialised at his feet. Rochelle promptly pulled out her Pokédex to scan it.

image#218: SlugmaLava Pokémon
Height: 2'04" / 0.7 m.Weight: 77.2 lbs. / 35.0 kg.
Ability: Magma Armour(This Pokémon cannot be frozen.)
Its body is made of magma. If it doesn't keep moving, its body will cool and harden.

After scanning the Slugma, Rochelle's Pokédex beeped and displayed new information about Phoenix.

Pokémon Recognised: Spearow.image
Moves:Peck, Leer, Aerial Ace, Pursuit

Aerial Ace, huh? A new Flying-type move, probably. Rochelle decided she wanted to put Phoenix's new move to the test. Using Kirsten again would make beating the guy too easy. "Phoenix, you up for it?" she asked the small bird on her shoulder.

"Rrrow! Spearrow!" Phoenix chirped before launching himself from Rochelle's shoulder.

One short and decisive battle later:

"That's twice now I've beaten you," Rochelle commented as she watched Phoenix picking at his feathers. He'd taken a hit from a Rock Throw, but held on and delivered a couple of telling blows with his new move. According to the Pokédex, Aerial Ace was a move that almost never missed, due to the user moving incredibly fast... intriguing. And potentially useful against Lieutenant Surge.

"No. I refuse to accept this! You're just... just lucky, is all. Yeah, that's it! Got lucky!" The guy was furious at losing to her a second time.

"Luck had nothing to do with it. Phoenix was just better," Rochelle shot back. "Also, remember there are people watching." Their battle had drawn attention from the people ahead of them in the queue, even if it hadn't lasted long.

The guy immediately shut his mouth, called his Slugma back into its ball and smartly walked away. Rochelle had no doubt that he was pretty mad about the results. But she figured she was in the right. Phoenix had been faster, and most likely stronger. Rochelle took a Potion from her pack and sprayed the little bird with it, healing the grazes and cuts he had taken from the thrown rock. Once she was done, she beckoned to her shoulder and Phoenix happily hopped up.

The battle over, Rochelle went back to waiting in line for her turn at the Vermilion Gym.

Callum extended his hand and shook Charlie's before he pulled it back to remove his Xtransceiver. "My name is Callum. I'm from Hoenn," Callum replied to Charlie before going ghost white. Callum saw a person in Rocket clothing floating face down across the water and lost all will to talk. Instead he just remained silent for the rest of the trip; rowing the boat when he was asked to.

Once he got on shore, Callum carried Eileen back to the Pokémon Center. He set her down in front of a toilet and took her Pokémon along with his own to be healed. After a few minutes the Pokémon were healed and Callum returned to Eileen passed out again with her head in the toilet. Sighing at the seemingly familiar sight, Callum picked up Eileen again and brought her to the bunk she had claimed earlier at the Pokémon Center. He grabbed a garbage pail and put it beside her bed, before putting a bottle of water beside it, and finally returning her Pokémon to her bag. Exhausted from having to look after Eileen, Callum grabbed a quick shower before falling asleep in an empty bunk in an empty room.

The next morning Callum found himself walking away from an announcement from the owner of the company that ran the S.S. Anne. No amount of money would make up for the prior night, but he figured he wouldn't get much more and simply took his check and left to go cash it. Lucky he got to the bank just as the lines of people wanting their compensation money started to build up; in short time the check was cashed and he had to move on with what to do next.

Well since Lt. Surge is now around and his gym's open I might as well get the badge I came here for. Callum took off for the gym and spotted Eileen a bit farther back in the line. She had sunglasses on and was drinking from a coffee while trying to hide her obvious hangover as best as possible. Ouch. She did bring it on herself though. Callum sighed and walked away; yesterday was the most stressful day he'd had in a long time and he just wanted to relax for a bit.

After taking the long way to the gym that was less crowded, Callum arrived to see a line already formed and a battle going on outside of the gym. Callum recognized one of the people battling. I know her, but I don't know her name. Was she on the ship last night? No wait she was in the cafeteria in Cerulean City. She's a member of the group Eileen joined up with.

After the battle Callum saw her head for the line to battle Lt. Surge and got in line behind her. Callum was about to tap her on the shoulder before Wait I should check to make sure that I have the right Pokémon in me. I don't want to start a conversation and have to run away a few second later. Callum checked the pack on his belt and listed the Pokémon in his head. Nincada, Spinarak, Pineco, Oddish, and Paras. Ya I should be good with these guys.

Callum reach forward again and tapped Rochelle on the shoulder. "Excuse me, but I feel as if I saw you at the Cerulean Pokémon Center with a group of people my friend told me she was traveling with. I never got the chance to properly introduce myself to all of the people there." There was a brief pause in Callum's introduction as he saw some interesting bird Pokémon off in the distance. Eventually he clued back in and extending his hand. "Sorry if I have the wrong person, but my name's Callum and I'm from Rustboro City, Hoenn.

Rochelle felt a tap on her shoulder, and turned again to find... another Trainer. This one she recognised from back in Cerulean City. He had shown up the day after the group had visited Misty's Gym. Rochelle briefly remembered that she had a score to settle there.

"Excuse me, but I feel as if I saw you at the Cerulean Pokémon Center with a group of people my friend told me she was traveling with. I never got the chance to properly introduce myself to all of the people there. Sorry if I have the wrong person, but my name's Callum and I'm from Rustboro City, Hoenn."

Rochelle accepted the handshake, introducing herself in turn. "You don't have the wrong person. I'm Rochelle Sanders, from Goldenrod City, Johto," she answered, copying his manner of introduction. "These are Phoenix, Eva and Iskra," she added, gesturing to the three Pokémon she had out: the latter two were sitting at her feet, while the former remained on her shoulder.

"So what kind of Pokémon do you have?" she asked Callum, hoping to start up a conversation to pass the time while they waited for the line to move forward.

"Cool." Callum replied as Rochelle gestured to her Pokémon. He didn't know exactly what each of them were, so he took out his Pokédex and scanned all three of them. There wasn't enough time to look at all the information so he just checked the species name and their typing. Hopefully she'll do well in a battle against Lt. Surge.

Callum almost missed Rochelle's question about his own Pokémon while looking at the Pokédex.

"Well I'll show you the ones I have on me right now," Callum replied as he opened the poach on his wasted and started to pull out his Poké Balls.

"This one here's Paras." There was a flash of red light and the Mushroom Pokémon appeared on the ground. "Par Paras."

"'s Spinarak." The String Spit Pokémon appeared and crawled up Callum's leg. "Rak Spinarak."

"Oh I wonder how Pineco's doing. He rushed ahead and used Selfdestruct last night." The Pineco was released and started to hop around Callum. "Pineco pine." "Ya you did good yesterday but be more careful with that attack in crowded areas.

"Let's see I know I have two more, ah. He's the newest edition to my team, Oddish." The Pokémon materialized on the ground, sound asleep. "I guess it must be tired. I should return it before it wakes up." Callum pressed the center button on his Poké Ball and retracted the Oddish back into it.

"Only one left now. I hope he behaves better today than yesterday." "Cada cada." The Trainee Pokémon darted out of the sun and into the shadow cast by Callum. "He's a bit of a prankster, but he likes to avoid direct sunlight when possible. Because of this he has to go out of his way to do it most times, so it's a bit infrequent and random."

"I also have a Ledian, a Butterfree, and a Kakuna in a Devon Corporation storage box. long have you been traveling with this group? Eileen said she'd only just met them when I first saw your group."

"Compensation check?" Charlie murmured from his position within the thick of the crowd. He thought of how this sounded more like a bribe, but the thought was pushed from his mind as he formed a line along with the lot of last night's victims. Even if one might have their dignity, they still wouldn't turn down free money. Money that a starting trainer like Charlie would need. But, even while the boy had money on the mind, there was one other factor that plagued his psyche. Other than the Callum, Sarah, and Eileen trio he met at last night's conclusion, he still wondered what ever happened to Jordan, Rochelle, and the other trainers he had the pleasure of acquainting with. As he reached the head of the line, he made a short swivel once collecting his check. His eyes darted across faces in the crowd, seeing if he could spot a familiar. His search was concluded as a much more hasty customer shoved him out of the line, complaining about "holding everyone up".

"Didn't see anyone." He thought lightly, looking towards the gold-embroidered envelope that most likely housed an equally embroidered check. He began wandering around the city square, contemplating if he should cash the note before or after his fight with Lt. Surge. Eventually he sat at a nearby bench, releasing Quinn from her ball. Alerted by the sudden rays of bright light, the Fire Mouse pokémon stirred awake, letting out loud yawn and stretching.

"I hope you had a good night's sleep Quinn, for today, we take on the Legendary Lieutenant Surge in hopes to win the Thunder Badge!" He told in booming, yet phony voice. She enjoyed his act nonetheless, hopping to her feet happily. Just then, an empty rumbling noise was heard from the stomachs of both trainer and pokémon alike. With so much on the boy's mind, he somehow managed to skip out on breakfast. Quinn frowned at her hunger pains, and climbed to her usual perch atop Charlie's shoulder.

"Yeah, breakfast sounds like a good idea. I wonder what they might have to eat at the Pokécenter..." He pondered aloud as he rose to his feet. He hadn't realized beforehand, but most of the crowd had dissipated from the town square, either to cash their checks, or to battle the city's gym leader. There was one person that stayed fairly static at the square's center, someone on their knees, their face seemingly obscured when noticed from afar.

"Some sort of beggar? No...I'd recognize that red hair anywhere!" His thoughts began to conclude that it was his former classmate that he was heading towards, but the bright orange vest the girl wore said otherwise. It was starting to look more like Aeris than Rochelle. The fact someone he got to know survived last night's attack made him happy. But his happiness didn't explain her current state. He slowed his pace as he neared, and lowered to her level.

"Hey, Aeris, Mornin'. You feeling alright?" He asked hesitantly, not entirely sure how to react to this situation. Quinn jumped down from Charlie's shoulder, instantly recognizing the fire-colored girl from last night's dinner.

"Qui! Quiqui! Cynda!" She squeaked happily to Aeris as Charlie surveyed the surroundings. He was expecting Mika to show at any time, but to no avail. He looked back at the girl.

"Where's yer boytoy? Sleeping in late?" He continued with his questions, these two asked with a tone of coy.

Aeris kept crying for a while, before she heard a familiar voice. She looked up from the ground and saw, as well as she could because of her tears, that it was Charlie. He was asking about Mika and if she was alright. She kept on crying while she tried to answer him. "I'm not...alright, no. That attack yesterday...must have...hit me harder...than I realized. And Mika..." She tried to talk through sobs and hiccups.

Upon thinking more about Mika just made her cry more. "He got...taken away...had a freak out last night...I don't know...if he'll be alright...or when he'll be alright..." She tried to stand up, barely able to and walked over to the nearest bench, whether or not Charlie followed her. She hadn't bothered to let Blaze out, but she didn't really feel like it. She needed to go take out the money for the check, but she couldn't be bothered. She felt sad and lonely. Even though she had the friends she'd made thanks to the group, she still felt alone because Mika wasn't there anymore.

Mika getting taken away was the last straw after the attack. While they had been alright after they'd gotten back to land, she still had been afraid of falling into the ocean and drowning. She should have never gone onto the S.S. Anne, and she should have made sure to have Mika not go on it as well. But of course, one is always smarter afterwards. She couldn't do anything but wait for Mika to be alright. She didn't want to continue her journey as a trainer. "I'm hopeless... this whole thing is hopeless..." she murmured to herself as she sat on the bench and cried.

"Oh...oh geez." Played through Charlie's mind as Aeris explained herself. Once she walked away, the palm of his hand forcefully came within contact of his forehead. "Stupid-! You had to bring up the boyfriend in that manner. You should've been more cautious!" His thoughts scolded him. Quinn looked between the two with a expression of confusion. She couldn't understand why the fire-colored girl was sad, and her stomach was still grumbling. The same could be said for Charlie, with the exception being that he did understand Aeris' condition. He understood how last night events could leave someone traumatized. Even with that, Charlie wasn't entirely sure how he should go about this scenario.

"I'm not just gonna leave her...i'm not a dick." His stomach interrupted his thoughts. "But dammit...I need something to eat." He rose to his feet, picking up Quinn as he did. He looked towards Aeris as she sat on the bench he spotted her from. The display of her anguish triggered a memory from a corner of his mind. A memory of an event that helped him get through a dim transition in his life (and, subconsciously, possibly through last night's events). He walked over to the bench she inhabited, and sat next to her. He let out quiet sigh, and put a hand on her shoulder.

"It's...okay, for you to be this way. We all have that one point in our lives where an event effects us in a way that makes the future bleak, and dark. Like, a feeling that everything just grinds to a halt. I understand the pain you're going through, because there was a time when I felt the same way. It wasn't all that long ago either, I must've been like, 14 or something. It was when my grandmother passed." He spoke with hesitance. Memories of the years past flooded through Charlie's mind with every pause.

"She of the nicest ladies I've had the pleasure of knowing. I can still remember all the times she would go out of her way to help both my family, and our community. I remember, sometimes after school, i'd ride my bike all the way to her small home in Azealea Town. She'd always be there, waiting with open arms and a infectious happiness that would brighten even the worst of days. She was also compassionate towards Pokémon, and even introduced me to the owners of a day-care center that wasn't too far from Goldenrod..." Charlie took another pause, this one accompanied with a heavy sigh. The thought of his grandmother's smile started to weigh down on him.

"One day, I rode to her house, as happy as ever. If you've heard a story like this before, then you'd know where i'd be going with it next. But I didn't know. Not that day. All I could do was watch as paramedics wheeled her out of the house on a gurney. And even then, even as her health started ailing her, she still smiled at me. During the ride to the hospital, she looked up to me. With her last breath...she said: "What happens next will hard for you. But you must know, as hard as it will be, you must give yourself the strength to move forward. Do not slow down. Keep going." ...She never made it to the hospital, but her words stayed with me."

"...A-at her funeral, it was the first (possibly the only) time I've seen my father so hurt. I don't even want to imagine how hard it would be for me to see my mother go, and the look of pain he'd shown only made me feel worse. I felt like I needed to say something, so I told him what she said to me. And what I said to him, i'll say to you." By this point, Charlie had leaned in close. He began to talk with a quiet tone.

"As hard as these next few days will be, you must give yourself the strength to move forward. Do not slow down. You gotta keep going." He recited. He sat up, and used his shirt to wipe away what gathered on his face. Quinn looked up towards her master, smiling. Charlie smiled back, and lifted her into the air momentarily. The air hung in silence for but a moment.

"My grandma's gone...but she still lives on in my memories. And through Quinn. It's how she got her name, after all." He told Aeris as he petted his Cyndaquil. The momentum of the moment shifted slightly, as Charlie's stomach made another agitated growl. He gave another look in Aeris' direction.

"If you're feeling any better...we're gonna get something to eat somewhere (hopefully someone's still serving breakfast). You should come with us." He suggested.

Listening to Charlie's story with half her attention, Aeris kept crying, though it was starting to be more sobs and hiccups than tears falling. As he went on, she didn't exactly cheer up, but she cried less and less, even if she still sobbed. And when he was done, she was leaning against him a bit, more for comfort than anything else. There may as well have been a cloud over her head, she was feeling that down.

"I just want him to be alright..." she said half quietly. "And I'm sorry to hear what happened to your grandmother... But it's nice that you still have fond memories of her..." When he suggested she come with him and Quinn to eat, she half absentmindedly nodded. Food wouldn't be a bad idea right now. Maybe she'd let Blaze out a little later. Right now, she wanted to go with Charlie to eat, see if that would help her. She wasn't thinking about the check, but it was still in her backpack for when she'd feel like going to the bank.

So Callum seemed to favour Bug or Grass-type Pokémon... Rochelle noted that she would have an advantage over him in a battle, courtesy of Phoenix. The Spearow in question was eyeing the Spinarak on Callum's leg. The two were roughly the same size, but Phoenix was looking like he'd just found himself a snack.

"That's not food, mister, that's another Trainer's Pokémon," she noted aloud. Phoenix looked a little sad, but acknowledged her statement. Rochelle turned her attention back to Callum before he spoke again.

" long have you been traveling with this group? Eileen said she'd only just met them when I first saw your group."

"Oh, I've been with the group since we all started out back in Pallet," Rochelle explained. "I came straight to Vermilion from Olivine City, then backtracked to Pallet. So I've been through about a third of Kanto twice now," she noted with a light laugh. "Of course, I could've gone to Professor Elm first. In hindsight, he was probably the better choice to visit, since... well, I don't mean to disrespect Oak, but the man is 85. He's past his prime. Tried to give us broken Pokédexes... some of them weren't even Pokédexes at all."

The line shuffled forward a couple of paces, and Rochelle and Callum moved accordingly. "But then... if I had gone straight to Elm, I might have missed out on meeting my Horsea, Kirsten." She plucked the last Poké Ball off of her belt and held it up as an example. "She needs to spend a good portion of her time in water, though, so I'll leave her be for now."

Briefly she entertained the idea of carrying a tank of water around on her pack... not for the first time. But that would be far too heavy to lug around on foot. It was easier just to carry Kirsten in her arms, or let her bounce along on her tail.

Charlie didn't immediately reply to Aeris' words as he stood to his feet, the thoughts of his grandmother lingering within his mind. He nodded slowly as she gave her condolences, and helped her to her feet as she mentioned memories.

"...But it's nice that you still have fond memories of her..." He looked back to her, then took a slow glance skyward.

"All she's done...I could never forget..." He replied quietly. The statement hung in the air for a moment, before Charlie took a look towards Aeris. He smiled a light smile. Surveying the area, his eyes stopped on an establishment the easily resembled an eatery of sorts. He took a step forward, and beckoned for her to follow.

"I didn't get to know him as much as you've, but I think Mika will be okay. Yeah, I truly think that. And if you think so as well, then he will. But in the meantime, you gotta show that you still care for him. And not just by sitting around and moping. You do that by progressing with him in mind. You gotta fight with his memory in dedication. You fight, and you keep climbing, until the two of you are back in each other arms. And you gotta make sure you're passionate about it too! Like, more passionate that you usually are! I'm talking 'Pierce The Heavens' passionate!" He told her with some excitement.

"...You'll definitely have a chance to put your love to the test when you face Surge. But can we please get out of this funk in the meantime? I find it hard to eat when you're sad." He pleaded with explanation. As the two stopped walking, they had appeared in front of a fairly plain-looking building, pictures of various platters of food plastered against windows.

"Awwww yeah, i'm ready for some real food. None of that pokécenter, cafeteria crud. Ooooh, I hope they sell pancakes. Would'ya like some pancakes Quinn?" He asked the perched pokémon, who chirped happily in reply. Opening the door to the establishment, a bell placed above the door gave off a quick ring. Charlie held open the door, a chivalrous act his father taught him at a young age.

"Ladies first." He told her with a beckoning tone.

Charlie was right. She couldn't just be sitting there and moping while Mika was in the hospital. But she wasn't sure about much right now. She'd at least start with eating. Aeris followed Charlie to an eatery of sorts, and when he motioned her to go in first, she did, making sure she wasn't too far ahead of him.

When they were inside, there were a lot of people there. Presumably people who had gotten their checks from the people who'd been handing them out earlier. It was noisy in there due to the people eating and talking, and she didn't feel very comfortable right now in noise, but she had to eat.

As she walked towards the counter, she thought to release Blaze. Perhaps she was hungry as well. Kind of lazily, she reached for her Pokéball and released her, the Charmeleon yawning when she appeared. Some people looked towards them when Blaze appeared with a white light, but continued to eat shortly afterwards.

A woman greeted her and Charlie. "Good morn- I mean, afternoon. Can I take your order?" Aeris smirked a little when the clerk had to correct herself, but that small smile vanished almost as quickly as it came. She wasn't sure what to get for herself, but something simple would do. "I'll just have a cheese and ham sandwich, please. With some orange juice." She figured that would at least be something. The clerk wrote it down, then turned to Charlie.

It was no compensation for nearly being killed by Team Rocket...again...but Tyler wasn't about ready to protest a free check for $1500. He waited for an attendant and took his check the moment one came near. First things first, he needed to get to bank. The check was nothing more than a piece of paper with a big number on it until he cashed it in. Everyone else probably had the same idea, so he wanted to get there first.

Tyler weaved his way through the crowd and found his way out of city hall. The fresh air was much needed relief after being cooped up in that building for so long with so many people. After finding a conveniently placed sign that pointed him towards the bank, Tyler started walking. Off in the distance, he spotted a familiar figure heading in the same direction.

"Hey, Simon!" Tyler called as he picked up his pace to catch up with him.

"Well then it's good that you came here instead of going to Professor Elm. From the sounds of it you and your Horsea get along pretty well and it'd have been a shame to not meet up. Your trip also sounds more interesting than my own. I got a job at the Devon Corporation to capture Pokémon for some research. Professor Birch was away on vacation slash research so I wouldn't be able to start there as soon as they would have liked. So I got flown to Pallet Town in order to start with Professor Oak.

I must also say that I agree with the notion of him not having it all there. I heard his name in school and know he's done a lot for our world, but he tried to give me an old calculator as a Pokédex. That might not sound so bad but when I pointed it out he tried to replace it with an old sandal. I honestly think he as just grabbing the first thing he found in his closet. Eventually a research assistant was able to locate a 'semi-used' Pokédex. By 'semi-used' he must have meant fell off the back of the truck and got scratched up. Still it worked, and here I am; my first trip outside of Hoenn and my chance to travel the world," Callum told Rochelle with a growing vigor when he spoke of traveling the world.

"Also don't worry about your Spearow attacking my Spinarak. Your Spearow might have a type advantage, but my Spinarak is really inventive and has taken down his fair share of flying Pokémon. He's more than a bit bold and has made a habit of trapping them with his String Shot. Type advantage doesn't mean a lot when you can't flap your wings," Callum said with a bit of a chuckle before eying the Spearow and seeing the look he missed the first time. He pulled out his Poké Balls and returned the Pokémon he'd recently released.

"Well you kind of already heard what I want to do; travel the world. Any big dreams or plans of your own?" Callum asked as he scanned the sky and water line for something interesting. He found nothing. The constrictiveness of his fixed place in line was starting to get to him. Two trees to hang his hammock from and sleep away some of yesterday's stress were starting to look much more appealing to the trainer.

"Hey, Simon!"

Simon turned his head at the sound of his name, his expression one of confusion until he recognized Tyler. "Hello." Simon greeted the other trainer with a brief smile and partial wave. He slowed his pace until Tyler reached him. "Did you get your prize from Mr. Roman?" Simon asked. He held up his folded check in one hand before putting it back into his pocket. He walked backwards into the bank's front door and - assuming that Tyler was also interested in the bank - he held the door open. Simon scanned the interior of the bank with a casual glance. There were already a few short lines forming at the teller counters but someone had been smart enough to make sure all of the lanes were open today. Two uniformed guards hovered near the main entrance and a third stood behind one of the tellers looking quite bored. There were two offices on the far side but the lights were out so Simon guessed that the occupants were either at lunch or not working today.

As Charlie followed Aeris into the restaurant, he let off a bit of a perplexed expression about the crowded occupancy of the place. Considering the influx of inhabitants, most of which were most likely from the-now late-S.S. Anne, it should've been expected for the place to be the way it is. Charlie thought differently in regards to the whole situation, but soon shrugged off the thought.

"Good morn- I mean, afternoon. Can I take your order?" As Aeris ordered first, Charlie had a quick thought about the clerk's correction.

"Afternoon? It's clearly still morning ti-" His low murmurs were interrupted as he made a habitual glance towards his Xtransceiver, showing the time as 5 minutes past high noon. "Huh. So it is afternoon." was the thought that followed. And even then, his thoughts wandered even further.

His mind was more on the topic of food, entirely to the point that Aeris had to nudge him out of his self-inflicted stupor. Replying with a quick "Oh, sorry" in the clerk's direction, he directed his attention to the what resembled a menu, their selection of dishes printed on a paper that was neatly embedded into the counter's marble surface. His eyes lit up as he found what he was looking for. But then, confliction rose in the boy's thoughts, in regards to the present time.

"You guys serve breakfast after 12, right?" He asked with doubt in his eyes. The clerk replied with a bubbly nod, and Charlie couldn't be happier.

"Ah, okay then, I'd like the flapjack meal, eggs scrambled, and extra bacon, with orange juice." He confirmed with a proud, definite tone. The clerk told the two to find a place to sit as she calculated totals. "Your food will served momentarily!" She said lastly as the two looked for a place to sit amongst the crowds of the place.

"Did you get your prize from Mr. Roman?"

"I did," Tyler replied, brandishing his check as the two of them took their spot in line. "Oh, and..." A friendly smile crossed his face. "...thanks for saving my ass back know...the boat." He put a hand on Simon's shoulder. "Don't know if I would've made it if you didn't show up. I owe you one, man." Sentimental moments were never Tyler's specialty, but he thought that he needed to make his gratitude known. It would be rude if he didn't, he felt.

Simon jerked his head in a brief nod. "You're welcome. Glad I could help." He shrugged his shoulder, the same one Tyler had briefly touched, and took a step backwards as the line began to move. "Your Kadabra saved us both at the end," Simon recalled, "Could you thank...Geist for me?" Simon took another step and accidentally backed up into the counter. "Sorry." he immediately turned to apologize to the teller as he took his check back out. He gave the teller - whose name-tag he couldn't read - the check and dutifully recited his full name, the last four digits of his trainer identification number, and which account he wanted the money to be deposited in.

"Would you like a receipt?" the teller asked once the machine had finished verifying his check.

"Yes, please. Thanks." Simon folded the given receipt and slid it into his glasses case - the first thing he could find at the top of his pack. Pulling the still-open bag Simon moved to the side so that Tyler could move forward.

"Could you thank...Geist for me?"

"Sure can. He's eating like a king tonight, that's for sure," Tyler replied before Simon excused himself to go deposit his check. A few minutes later, Simon left the teller's window and moved aside for Tyler to step forward.

"Next customer in line, please," the teller called.

Tyler approached the window and pulled out his check. "Yeah, I'd like to make a deposit." He handed the check to the teller, who examined the piece of paper for a moment before setting it aside. The teller asked for his ID, which he fished for out of his wallet and presented. Tyler then gave his bank account information when prompted. After that, it was only a few button presses on the teller's part until the transaction was completed.

"Thank you," he said to the teller before putting away his receipt. With their business done, Tyler and Simon headed out of the bank. "So...are you gonna challenge Surge today?" Tyler asked, trying to start up a conversation.

Aeris and Charlie found a table for two in a corner of the eatery and had a seat. The place was so crowded, there weren't a lot of spots there to sit. And most of the other places were for more than just two, so they felt it wasn't good to take a table meant for four for themselves.

Aeris looked out the window at the weather. It was sunny, which would make her feel a bit up, but she only had her mind on Mika at the moment. She sighed while they waited for their food. She looked towards Blaze, who looked back towards her with a quizzical expression. She recognized Charlie, but didn't see Mika anywhere. She briefly asked her, but Aeris just looked away with tears again in her eyes, though she tried to fight them back. "I'll tell you in a bit..." she said to Blaze, who still wanted to know, but didn't push it. It seemed something had happened and she didn't want to talk about it.

Not too long after, their food was served to them. The sandwich Aeris had ordered looked alright to her, and the orange juice looked good. She had a few small bites of the sandwich and took small sips of the juice.

Sarah struggled out of bed a bit later than she normally woke. While she hadn't had any nightmares of any sort, a common side effect of trauma, she had experienced difficulty in falling asleep, only really dozing off when Mia, breaking out of her normal trance, to nuzzle softly against her. The intuition of Pokemon was truly amazing.

After a brief hot shower and a rough attempt at making herself somewhat presentable, she had walked to where everyone had gone, where the owner of the S.S Anne had presented everyone with a cheque of 1500 dollars. While it was a sizable amount, Sarah was sure that most were only accepting the amount now because they needed the immediate cash flow to get back on their feet. She was sure more would sue in the days to come.

She would cash the cheque later though, it appeared the bank was nearly backed up to the brim with customers trying to cash their new cheques and she wasn't interested in long lines at the moment. Instead she set about finding one of her new friends, the immediate thought was to go back to the Pokemon Centre to wait for one of them, but before she could set off that way, she stopped by the gym to investigate who her friends would be fighting. To her surprise, Callum was already there, talking to another trainer he appeared to know.

Cutting through the line that had begun to build, she guessed pent up energy after a brutal prior night was to blame, she tapped Callum lightly on the shoulder.

"Well, you kind of already heard what I want to do; travel the world. Any big dreams or plans of your own?"

What did she want to do, after completing the Indigo League? Rochelle pondered this question for a moment. There was a lot out there. Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, Unova... Callum's idea of travel was a good one. But there was also the idea of settling in one place, landing a job and becoming comfortable with one's place in the world. The idea did not seem all that fantastic, though.

Rochelle liked the idea of a job, or something, involving Pokémon. Maybe she could join up with a Gym... maybe even become Leader some day. The Goldenrod Gym Leader, Whitney, was kind of a pushover according to some people. Rochelle made a note to find out how the Gym hierarchy worked. Could someone challenge the Leader for their position?

"I don't know, really... there's a lot out there," she eventually answered. "Other regions to explore, Gyms to challenge, people and Pokémon to meet. Maybe I'll find something that catches my eye more than anything else. Dunno when that'll happen, though," she added with a short laugh. As she finished speaking, a slightly short girl, presumably a Trainer, approached Callum and tapped him on the shoulder. Did she know him from somewhere? Most likely last night.

Charlie almost couldn't wait to dig into his food as it was presented to the table. However, before he and Quinn could dig in (or, before he could; Quinn began munching on bacon regardless), he couldn't help but take a glance at the distraught girl that sat across from him. Aeris was eating, but it was still clear that a metaphorical cloud hung over her head. He tried not to make it obvious that he was basically staring at her, and soon his eyes floated over to the Charmeleon that sat next to her. Blaze showed an expression of concern that reflected his own, and he briefly wondered how it must be for a pokémon to perceive their master's personal problems.

"How can I cheer her up?" He thought simply. He began to ask her about Mika, but was interrupted before he could pronounce a word. His Xtransciever was ringing off the hook, and he knew exactly who it was. He let out a nervous chuckle before looking down towards the device. He figured it'd be best if he opened the call as coolly as possible.

"Hey hey he-" He started, only to promptly interrupted by yells.

"CHARLES DELACROIX!! How dare you ignore my calls! You know I saw the news last night, do you know how worried I was?!" It was Charlie's mother, by the way. By how loud she was yelling, she was conveying two points. Firstly, her happiness to see her son alive was hard to covey through all her worry-anger. Secondly, a good number of that restaurant's patrons were silenced as a black middle-aged mother yelled loud enough to briefly suck all attention out whatever conversation they were having. Charlie tried to play it off, but it was clear the outburst left him embarrassed. His mom kept up the barrage of loud-happy-angry-worry words, and Charlie tired his hardest to calm her down. Even if couldn't get a word in.

"Mom. Mom, m-...okay, mom. Momma. mom. I know mom. I'm sorry Mom, it won't happen again. Mo-, lemme speak to dad mom. I love you too Mom lemme speak to Dad. Momomomomomomom, lemmespeaktodadmompleasegeez" Would be the gist of how Charlie's side of that conversation went. Soon, the phone was relinquished from the overactive mother, and the calm, stoic face of a much taller male appeared.

"Dad, hey." Charlie greeted through a sigh.

"Charlie, you should've returned our call last night. We didn't hear the news until after we called you, and that sent your mother into a tizzy." Samuel replied, his stolid demeanor obviously contrasting his wife's. His words quickly sunk into Charlie's mind, the a very visible expression of guilt appeared on his face.

"Yeah...I know. It was just...we were just coming out of of a tense moment when I got the call. Most of us were still shook from what had happened. I know for a fact that I didn't get that much sleep last night." Charlie explained, his father letting the words hang in silence for but a second.

"...I see. How're you feeling now?" He finally asked.

"I'm...fine now. Just hungry-Quinn, you didn't have to eat all the bacon!" Charlie gave the Cyndaquil a bothered look. She looked back at him with a oblivious smile and a burp.

"Oh? Were we interrupting your breakfast?"

"Nahhhh. were, but y'know-"

"Say no more. You finish eating. Just, call us sometime, alright?" Samuel asked. Charlie nodded simply as his father hung up. He gave another annoyed look before softening the expression.

"You're lucky you're adorable." He told her before looking towards Aeris.

"Parents, amiright? ...I meant to ask this before I was interrupted, was Mika? Was he a cool dude?" He asked. He wanted to wait for an answer before he started eating, but his stomach begged to differ.

"You never really do," Callum replied before he felt a light tap at his shoulder. Callum quickly turned around and saw the top of a head of red-brown hair. Quickly shifting his gaze down, Callum recognized Sarah. "Morning Sarah. I can see that you're in better shape than Eileen was this morning," Callum said with a smile, completely oblivious to the lineup of pissed off trainers that Sarah left behind her.

"Oh ya, I'm forgetting something important." Callum announced as he stepped back from between the two, so that they could properly face each other without being an obstruction. "Sarah this is Rochelle. She's one of the people that Eileen decided to join up with before I met her. And Rochelle this is Sarah. Eileen and I met her last night on the Anne after running away from an angry sailor. Long story don't ask by the way."

After Eileen had cashed her check at the bank, she went to the Pokémon center to get something to eat. The coffee she had gotten earlier hadn't helped her hangover and she threw it out after barely drinking any of it at all. The food selection at the Center wasn't the best, but Eileen found a greasy egg and bacon sandwich that she promptly ate. The food helped a little, but Eileen still had a headache and the lights seemed a little too bright. Defeated, Eileen went back to her room at the Pokémon Center and went back to sleep; there was a hope in her that she might be able to sleep the hangover away. Almost right away she was fast asleep dreaming of how she would defeat Lt. Surge.

A loud burp shook the air outside of the McDonald's near the pier. The customers on the patio turned at the sound and while a couple men nodded silently in approval, most shock their heads at the uncouth action. "Sorry bros, my bad," Jordan apologized as he left the area as quickly as possible.

Jordan was feeling much better after his pit stop at the "restaurant". It was a long wait in line at First Tohjo, as everyone from the town square was looking to cash in their newly acquired hush money. The muzak was terrible. Eventually Jordan succeeded in acquiring some funds, and he immediately focused on having a nice celebration meal. Now that he had accomplished that goal, he wasn't sure where to proceed to.

Hmmmm, what to do. I guess I could like, go to the PokeMart or something. Spend some more money. He looked at the wad of cash still in his pocket. Uh...rather hold onto this for, at least like, a little bit longer. But what else is there to do? Jordan tried to recall the facets of the city. Dude from the ship. Bro said he had a Gym round here. Maybe I could do that. Get some more cash. Or probably lose. But whatever, least it's free.

After getting some directions from a pair of somewhat condescending patrons at a cafe, Jordan made his way to down towards the waterfront. Before he got to the gym however, he was confronted by his nemesis from earlier. A sizeable line pointed the way into the large red, white and blinding neon yellow-colored building in front of the ocean.

Dude. Not cool. I don't want to wait in another line and junk. Jordan scanned ahead into the line. Hmmmm, think that's like Tyler and Simon up there. Guess I can go with them but that's still a bit off....wait a sec. That Rochelle up there? With Direction Dude. They look right close. Perfect.

Jordan took off along side the line until he reached his intended cutting targets. "Hey bros!" he offered to Rochelle and Callum. "Totally weird seeing you here...this close to the door. I should totally join you guys and stuff. Take Surge dude on at the same time, right?"

The phone call Charlie received startled Aeris and momentarily brought her out of her funk. Though that quickly came back once Charlie asked her about Mika. Not his fault, she knew. "Well, he was nice. And fun to hang around. I didn't think only knowing each other for such a short time would affect me this much... then again, it feels like it's been a longer time than just a little under a week. Maybe more like a few months. Call me crazy, but that's how I feel." She actually almost cracked a smile at that when thinking about it further. It was a silly thought, she admitted to herself.

She took a few more bites from her sandwich and drunk a bit more of her OJ. "I still didn't know a lot about him, and I hope that the future will present more opportunities to get to know him better." She was starting to feel a little better, but it would be a while before she'd get back to her full cheery self. "Hopefully his Pokémon are being taken care of in the meantime. Can't imagine that it would be all the comfortable to just be stuck in a Pokéball for a really long time."

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