Chapter 1: The Dream
"Bring me the sunset in a cup, and I'll give you your mother back."
Priscilla woke up slowly that morning, rubbing sleep from her just-over-ten-years-old brown eyes. She had a weird dream, something about a man telling her to bring him a sunset, but it was fast slipping from her consciousness and memory.
But that didn't matter – even if her brain decided not to work today, that was okay. She didn't have to go to school. It was the first day of spring vacation.
The girl slid out of her low bed, half-crumpling to the floor. Her mother's voice wandered up the stairs and into her room once more.
"I'm coming, Mom," the girl mumbled, pulling a bathrobe on over her pajamas. She lived in Sinnoh, after all, so even though the flowering trees outside were beginning to show their whites and pinks, the mornings were still very cold. Priscilla's home in Pastoria didn't exactly feel the warmth of the nearby southern beaches until much later in the year; it was, however, much farther from the frigid northland and central mountaintops, and those could be cold year-round.
Priscilla was a normal ten-year-old girl, that much was certain. She finished her elementary schooling a few days prior to this morning, and already received her pokemon license from the regional offices in Hearthome City. Her basic schooling was over, and after she took a bit of a break from everything, she planned on traveling around Sinnoh as a trainer. After she finished that, she would come back to Pastoria and enroll in a post-travel middle school, then high school. And after high school, she wanted to go to college and have some sort of exciting career.
She had no clue what such an exciting career would be, however. Priscilla was, after all, only ten.
Yes, the little Sinnohan girl was an average product of the region. Rather superstitious of the power of certain legendary pokemon, of course, ever since the Galactic Incident twelve years prior. Sinnoh had always been a superstitious nation, but now they closed off borders more frequently, monitored scientific activity more closely, and regulated trainer patterns more harshly. People no longer talked about things relating to the Galactic Incident.
Unfortunately, despite the region's best attempts to recover after the Galactic Incident, there were some complications. One of those, though considered somewhat "normal" (despite its rarity), was Poltergeist's disease.
Priscilla knew of three patients with Poltergeist's, and all of them had become afflicted within the time since the Galactic Incident. One was her neighbor's mother, who came down with the disease when Priscilla was four and died when she was five. Another was the man who used to own the marsh plants shop down the road – he died three weeks after he contracted Poltergeist's, and it happened when Priscilla was eight. The third was her best friend's uncle, who was currently dying of it. He was expected to live possibly until sometime in the summer, but nothing was certain.
Or, at least, nothing was certain except for the fact that it had no cure. The first visible symptoms, bleeding around the tear ducts, came too late for it to be cured, anyway.
When Priscilla came downstairs to greet her mother for breakfast, the strange, diluted red tears coming down her mother's cheeks were the things that caught her eye first.
"Hi, sweetie," her mother, Amelia, replied, a shaky smile coming over her face. "We have a few things to talk about, you and I."
And that was when Priscilla's precious normal life came crashing down around her.
It took a week before Priscilla fully realized she might only have a year left with her mom, and a day more than that to realize that the money they needed for her mother's treatment was going to be more than they could really spare.
Poltergeist's may not have had a cure, but the cancerous, bleeding disease could be treated to a certain extent. The Sinnohan ailment was fatal, yes, but patients had been known to live up to seven years with the right treatment. The experimental treatment fell along the lines of standard cancer treatments, involving chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and cocktail medications. Pills, shots, serums, anything the doctors wanted to or could try (as long as the skittish government allowed).
Unfortunately, such treatments were expensive. Very expensive. Amelia had enough saved up and enough coming in from her job as a park ranger in the Great Marsh to cover the living expenses for herself, her daughter, and her two pokemon, but not a whole lot extra. She would have to eventually quit her job due to the disease, and that meant no more money.
Amelia's two pokemon, Jackson the bibarel and Fortuna the staravia, were easy enough to provide for. Fortuna could easily become quasi-wild and live off the land, as she generally preferred to do that anyway, and a family friend at the Pastoria City Gym agreed to take in Jackson for the foreseeable future.
But Priscilla, her daughter, was an expensive dependant. Love alone would not feed a growing girl.
"Priscilla, honey, you always wanted to go on this journey," her mother told her one night as they sat outside, watching the marsh cherries bloom in the moonlight. "You've been talking about it for weeks."
"Mom, I don't want to," the girl mumbled, snuggling up close to her mother. "You'd be alone." A quick glance at her Amelia's bare right arm showed the startling, disturbing signs of swelling sores, another symptom of Poltergeist's. Priscilla snatched up the arm in her hands, holding it close. "I don't wanna go without you."
The woman smiled, wrapping her arms around her daughter. "Sweetie, you know our money can't cover both us and the treatment," she whispered, trying to bite back that acute feeling of failure. "If you leave soon, you'll get an extra few weeks on your friends. They're leaving later in May and June, right? It will be April first in two days! What a lovely day to leave home with a pokemon."
"But you'll be alone," Priscilla stated stubbornly. It was her argument against leaving, and she was going to stick to it.
"I'll have Fortuna, and I can visit Jackson anytime I want. Valerie said she'd come stay with me in a few weeks, too," Amelia said slowly, reminding Priscilla of the long phone talk her mother had with her sister in Solaceon that morning.
Priscilla hadn't meant to overhear much, but she did hear her mother tell Valerie that she didn't want her daughter to watch her die, and that was more important to her than maternal loneliness.
Amelia was scared.
Mothers weren't supposed to be scared.
"And I won't be alone because I'll always have you," Amelia said in a happier tone of voice. "Remember? I bought you a cell phone for your birthday, and you can always call me with it. Even if you don't, you're my daughter, and you'll be with me forever."
For some reason, that made Priscilla even more afraid. "I don't know, Mom. I don't wanna leave you in the house all alone. It'd be scary to be alone, right?"
"Not if I know you're doing a great job with your pokemon out in the rest of the region," Amelia replied. "Tell you what. If you get two badges, any two badges you want, I'll give you a present. You always wanted a glameow for a pet, right? I think Valerie can find a breeder in Solaceon and get on their waiting list early – they give them out quicker to people with more badges, too."
"I don't wanna…"
"C'mon, Priscilla, sweetie, won't you do it? For me?"
It would have taken Amelia much more than the promise of a glameow to convince Priscilla of leaving.
If it weren't for the dream on the eve of April first, Priscilla might not have left at all.
That was the night when, while trying to fall asleep, Priscilla finally realized her mother was going to die.
The ensuing nightmare convinced her more than ever to stay home. She didn't remember much of it, just that a huge black cloud was taking people away and breaking their necks, as Poltergeist's final symptom was a blood clot in the jugular.
Then the cloud took her mother, and Priscilla watched her die.
After she woke up from that, she found herself shivering, cold, and sore in her neck. The clock by her bed told her it was just after midnight on the first day of April.
She wanted to go run and find her mother, convince herself that her mother wasn't dead – yet – but she couldn't. Instead, she somehow managed to fall asleep again, and this time, her dream was quite a bit different.
This time, she saw him. She saw that man. It was the same dream she'd had the night before her mother told her of her disease, but this time, she saw things more clearly. The man was called Zenith, and he stood behind a strange waterfall in a daytime world she'd never seen.
"Bring me a sunset in a cup," he told her from behind the waterfall, "and I will save your mother."
"How do I do that?" Priscilla asked, staring at the waterfall. There was something wrong with it; it wasn't normal. She couldn't tell what it was, but it was there, and it was wrong.
"Go to the point where the land touches the sky and hold up a cup. Tell the sun, 'Zenith sent me to capture the sunset,' and you will have it. Then bring it to me, and I will give you the cure for your mother. Bring me the sunset in a cup," he repeated, "and I'll give you your mother back."
When Priscilla woke up, she knew she had to leave home.
The place where the land touched the sky had to be somewhere in the Coronet Range, as it contained Sinnoh's highest peaks, and it had to be somewhere in Sinnoh, right?
But after the Galactic Incident, the government didn't let people go there unless they were certified with not two, but at least three gym badges.
That meant Priscilla would have to leave home and win those badges, the sooner the better.
So, on that fateful April 1, she set out to leave her Pastoria City home and find the way to capture the sunset in a cup.
Disclaimer: I do not own Pokemon. I do own this story.
Author's Note: Since I'm graduating high school this summer, I thought it would be fun to do a sort of "last hurrah" with a Pokemon fic. My goal is to have at least 15,000-20,000 words in this story by my graduation day, with the end to the story itself before I start college in the fall. Oh, and the other one doing this sort of graduation-story-pact is Digital-Skitty, but I don't know if she's uploaded her story here. It's called "Pedestal", though.
So leave a review! I'll probably update this at least once a week.