Shades of Violet
"You cannot be serious." Sabrina stared at her cousin, her eyes wide. Was something wrong with her ears? Except- no, a quick look around the table proved that she had just heard Lance say- that. Now the only question was, who to bludgeon to death first. Lance, or herself?
"Sorry, no," the League's unofficial leader said, lounging in his chair and grinning. "I'm completely serious."
She shook her head slightly, feeling like her tongue had been glued to the roof of her mouth. In a moment, shock would turn to anger, but she didn't have a moment. Lance was going to put it to a vote, and… "Can't you send someone else?" she asked, and nearly winced at how weak her voice sounded. "Agatha, for example?"
The Elite Four member in question snorted. "Ghosts are weak against psychics," she pointed out. "Granted, psychics are weak against ghosts, but I wouldn't bet on the ghost."
"Your dark types-"
"What dark types?" Agatha asked, and drummed her fingers against the table. "I haven't been able to get a sableye trained up yet, spiritome are impossible to find, and despite what you may have heard, misdreavus aren't dark types."
"Surely someone else…" Sabrina said, looking around the table. The other Gym Leaders refused to meet her eyes, except Giovanni. He, quite obviously, didn't have dark types, and never had. He smirked, she glared, and everyone else pretended the two of them didn't exist.
Lance shrugged his shoulders, ignoring the two Gym Leaders and their enmity with the ease of long practice. "Koga has one dark type, same with Misty, Erika has three and everyone else has none, little cuz."
"Well, there you go. Erika should be the one to-"
Giovanni cleared his throat, and Sabrina glared at him. Pity her morals kept her from doing little things like, say, making annoying people think they had to do the Pidgey Dance or the Midgets of Doom would break their kneecaps.
Giovanni completely deserved to be attacked by Midgets of Doom. The bastard was lounging in a full three piece, lurid orange suit, looking like he should have been sitting at the head of a table in a boardroom with air conditioning, instead of the League's meeting room, at a round table, in a building where 'climate control' consisted of throwing open all the windows and doors and praying for a breeze.
It could have been worse, though. He could have been wearing that lurid tropical shirt, the one with lime green and hot pink mixed together. Maybe he was color blind. Or maybe-
Giovanni was speaking, and Sabrina realized she hadn't heard one word he'd said.
"-protection twenty-four-seven," he finished saying. She glared, to cover up her complete confusion. What needed protection?
"He has a point," Misty said, then ducked her head as the other League members turned to look at her. As one of the youngest members, she was terribly shy, which was a pity. Hopefully she'd grow out of it, or at least lose her temper soon. Red heads shouldn't be so quiet.
"I don't care," Sabrina said, and folded her arms. "I'm not going."
Bruno slammed one fist down on the table; the table shuddered, but didn't break. A tauros could have charged the table, and it wouldn't have broken. "Stop being such a child!" he yelled. "Someone has to go, you're the psychic, and you're the best one for the job! Besides, you can teleport there."
"If I'd ever been to the Northern Wildlife Refuge, I could," she corrected. "But I haven't. I'll be just as slow as any of you, probably slower." Much slower. They, at least, made periodic forays into the wilderness to get pokemon. She didn't, as she didn't need to.
Lance was rubbing his forehead, and finally sighed. "When you come back, we'll spring for a week at a five star resort. Spa included, whatever you want. No upper limit."
Sabrina opened her mouth to refuse, and paused. "Any resort?" she asked. She could hear Giovanni chuckling to himself, and bemoaned the fact that he was too far away to kick under the table. "Any one I want? Wherever I want?"
"Any one, any place, any spa, whichever treatment you desire… One week. Do we have a deal?"
She hadn't been to a spa in ages. The last time had, in fact, been for her mother's fiftieth birthday. Nearly a year and a half ago, now.
Sabrina sighed, and looked up at the ceiling. "Fine," she spat. "One week, at the spa resort of my choice."
"Thank you," Lance said. "Now if we can move to other matters?"
Sabrina stopped paying attention after that. Whenever a vote was needed, she made sure to vote against Giovanni. It wasn't like it mattered. Apart from the renegade psychic holed up in the northern mountains, erasing the memories of trainers, rangers, and some poor, lost bus driver, there wasn't any urgent business. And even the renegade psychic wasn't erasing all that much, as far as memories went. Only about a week or so, as far as anyone could determine.
Well, no hope for it now. She'd have to leave as soon as possible, get it over and done with quickly, so she could get on her vacation.
As soon as possible turned out to be the next day. And only because Lance had shown up at her hotel room's door, and refused to leave.
Sabrina signed the credit card receipt, and glared at her cousin. "I hate you."
"Oh, come now. You were getting in a rut." Lance held open the door, beating the porter by a good second. "And boring. Besides, you hate everyone."
"You have a special place in hell. And I like my rut."
"I thought it was Giovanni who had the special place in hell."
Sabrina glared at an innocent bystander, who quickly got out of her way. "What, the both of you can't have a special place in hell? Giovanni's the spawn of Satan, anyways."
"I just don't see why you don't like him."
"Because you're a blithering idiot, obviously. Why are you here?"
Her cousin smiled. "Making sure you do what you're supposed to, obviously."
Sabrina stopped in her tracks; Lance actually walked several steps past her, before he realized she wasn't at his side any more. When he turned around, she narrowed her eyes. "You're not going with me, are you?" she asked. "I thought it was too dangerous for a non-psychic?"
"I thought you weren't paying attention to what Giovanni was saying."
"I wasn't, his tie was giving me hysterical blindness. I asked Gale, of course."
Lance winced, but she'd expected that. He just didn't understand that, to Sabrina at least, it wasn't all that odd, having her pokemon riffle through her memories. Gale's mindset wasn't human, at all, so it wasn't even an invasion of privacy, any more then your pet Meowth seeing you naked was an invasion of privacy. Besides, Gale was especially good at helping Sabrina remember things, even when she hadn't been paying attention at the time.
Giovanni had pointed out, correctly, unfortunately, that a dark type couldn't extend its immunity to psychics to humans. He had also pointed out that, unless they wanted an amnesiac League member on their hands, they didn't dare send anyone without mental shields only a psychic would have. He had finally mentioned that it might come down to a power struggle, and Sabrina was a powerful psychic in her own right…
Not that he'd been complimenting her. She had no doubts about that. The way he'd said she was powerful was the same way you said a house was well built, when you hated the contractor. Sort of 'nice job, it's not going to fall down, I still hate your guts!' only a lot more subtle.
"Well," Lance said, when the silence between them had stretched on long enough to be slightly uncomfortable. "Be that as it may. The sooner you can get this done, the sooner you can go on vacation."
"Oddly enough, I thought the same thing last night." Sabrina started walking again, and shoved her hands in her jacket pockets.
"Then why didn't you go last night?"
"Maybe because it was dark? Or perhaps because I don't have camping equipment? Or maybe because I don't even know where, exactly, I'm going to have to go?"
"Nearly fifty-thousand square meters. Or was it acres? I can't remember." She shrugged, and glared. "Either way, there is a lot of ground to cover in the Refuge. Unless you want me to be gone for a decade or more, I need a more specific idea of where to go."
"Ah. Well, those records are in the office," Lance said. He frowned. "You still only have three pokemon?"
"I only need the three."
"You'll get there faster if you have a mount," he murmured. Sabrina stifled a wince. She just knew what he was thinking of, curse him.
Moments later, he proved her right. "You'll get some other pokemon, non-psychics you can ride. Then it'll only take a week or so to get to the Refuge, instead of a month."
"Fine," she replied in a monotone. "Will you also take care of my camping gear, too?"
"Of course, or you'll pack a hair dryer." Lance grinned, and fell silent. A good thing too, Sabrina was ready to make him be quiet.
The rest of the walk to the League's office building was made in silence, at least on the part of the two League members. The city swirled around them, chaos just barely controlled. Not one of the civilians would have imagined all the important League decisions were made in a nearly hundred year old building with leaky plumbing, right in the middle of Viridian City's downtown. They all thought the League worked only out of their gyms, or the League Arena outside of Viridian.
Well, Sabrina wasn't going to complain. That assumption had never done any harm, so why challenge it? It only meant no one was going to try to sneak into the League's offices to try and get some information, or worse, get autographs from the Elite Four.
Lance held the office door open for her, and then the elevator door. Sabrina didn't argue. Why should she? It was mere manners, and knowing Lance's mother, her aunt Alexandria; it was only to be expected. Aunt Alexandria would have beaten Lance with a stick if he didn't show a woman proper courtesy.
She waited in the visitor's waiting room, if only because Lance's office had barely enough room for one person. The piles of papers he insisted on having had a tendency to breed, and he was now in danger of losing the room to the piles entirely.
In a short order, he returned to the waiting room with a thin file folder, and keys to one of the store rooms. "Here you go, cuz. Some reading for your journey." He handed over the folder, and she tucked it under one arm. "Now, off to get you some supplies!"
"Are we done yet?" Sabrina asked, and hunched her shoulders.
"Hah, hah, very funny. Not. Now come on."
They went from the second floor, with the offices for the Elite Four and everyone who was associated with the day to day running of the League, to the fourth, where the supplies were kept. Everything from clothing to pokemon to stores of canned, dried, and non-perishable food. The League could have opened several small stores with only half of the supplies on the fourth floor.
Lance waved her over to a seat, which Sabrina was happy enough to do. Let her cousin rummage around to his heart's content, she was going to sit and read the file he'd given her.
She was finished before Lance was, but it just gave her time to think. Ten trainers, three rangers- who were meant to keep the trainers out of the Refuge- and one bus driver had each lost at least a week's worth of memory when they wandered near Mt. Norikura. Elsewhere, there had been no problems.
Apart from location and memory loss, there was nothing tying the cases together. One of the trainers had been innocently lost, two had no idea it was a nature reserve but had meant to be there, one had been exploring, one had belonged to Team Rocket, four had been the victims of teleporting gone wrong, and one had been an agent the League had sent to investigate. The rangers, of course, had belonged there, and the bus driver's bus had broken down, and he had followed a service road trying to find a gas station.
Well, at least now she knew where to go.
Lance shuffled from one of the store rooms to another, and Sabrina closed her eyes. If things went the way she expected them to, this would be the last time she'd have the time, energy, or safety to meditate properly. If she was going to go up against a psychic powerful enough to actually wipe memories- not just suppress them, but utterly destroy them completely- she wanted her mental shields to be at their strongest.
In meditation, she had to be completely honest with herself, let the thoughts come as they would, deal with them, and then move on.
She couldn't wipe memories. She could barely lift anything over five pounds with her mind, couldn't hold down anything over five pounds with her mind. She could read thoughts, speak in people's minds, make them see things, or not see things, whichever she wanted. She could suppress memories and help erase a phobia. She could, in fact, speak to a complete and utter stranger on the other side of the country, so long as she had a picture of the person, but telepathy wasn't exactly an offensive ability.
Fear threatened to swamp her then. What were they thinking? What was she thinking! Going off to fight someone strong enough to do all this- in the middle of nowhere- with no backup-
Sabrina gave herself a mental shake. That was nonsense. Just because someone was strong with telepathy didn't necessarily mean they were strong with telekinesis. Apart from pokemon, you were either a strong telepath, strong telekinetic, or an empath, which was nearly another line of mental powers entirely! For that matter, with this person being so strong - it was entirely possible she was dealing with someone who had just come into his or her powers, couldn't control their telepathy, and had retreated into the wilderness in defense! If that were the case, she could sympathize. When her telepathy had begun to develop, she'd thought she was going mad, able to hear everyone in a nearly five mile radius.
It made sense. A powerful telepath could, theoretically, quiet minds without meaning to- also known as wiping memories as they were formed. Humans lived in the past, anyways. At least, in Sabrina's experience. While part of their mind was focused on what was happening, the noisiest part was always the part of the mind that dealt with thinking about the past and the future. For someone who couldn't help but hear all that babbling, it would be self defense to reach out and 'turn the radio off', so to speak. When the person got out of range, the telepath would stop fiddling with the volume, people would be able to remember again, and there would be a missing week.
All she would have to do was find the telepath, teach him or her how to shield against the press of all the other minds, and that would be that. Once the basics were under control, they could move the lessons to someplace civilized, like a city, and then… Well, maybe Sabrina would end up taking the poor child to her Gym. Having a lot of psychics around could only be to the good, in case the child's shields slipped.
Sabrina reinforced her own shielding, imagining herself as a ball of pale, lavender light surrounded by iron walls two feet thick, made of iron sheets that were layered over each other, making them stronger. Her shields weren't normally so thick, or so ridged, but in the case of an out of control psychic, she would need them.
It left her feeling a little off balance, though. One of her senses had been mostly cut off. It was like having a cold, with everything muffled. Of course, her five senses were perfectly fine, it was her sixth that had been quieted.
She opened her eyes, and nearly jumped out of her skin. Lance was seated right next to her, and she hadn't even noticed him.
She hid her reaction, and frowned. "Have you been waiting long?"
"Not too long. Finished?"
"Good, because I've got your things, and a few suggestions." Lance leaned back in his chair, and looked up at the ceiling. "Which do you want first?"
"Suggestions, I suppose."
Lance nodded, and continued staring at the ceiling. "Unless you want your hair tangled, with leaves and twigs and everything else in it, put it up in a braid. Forget about baths, mountain streams are freezing and if you get hypothermia, or get sick, you're all alone. Forget about clean clothes, too. I'm only letting you go off with as little as I think you can get away with, and if you wash your clothes whenever they get dirty, you won't have anything to wear."
"You make it sound as if my pokemon can't teleport," Sabrina said, frowning. "So long as I set up a distinctive camp, we can just return to the nearest town to re-supply."
"Which is why I'm not sending as much food with you as I would otherwise, but I don't think you want to pop back to town every other day. It'll be a waste of time."
"I suppose so. Fine. I'll keep all that in mind."
"Good. Now, for the supplies." Lance grinned, and his excitement was infectious. Sabrina certainly felt less unhappy, anyways. More like a visit to the dentist then having to go after a legendary monster with only a pointy stick and her own bravery, she supposed.
"That's more then I can carry," she pointed out, nodding at the bags Lance had piled at his feet.
"Well, you'll only be carrying one of the bags. You're riding a rapidash."
"You mean I'll be falling off a rapidash."
"I got you a good one."
"Okay, so I won't fall off every other step."
Lance glared. "There'll be a saddle, so stuff it."
"Oh, good, you don't want to kill me. I was beginning to have doubts."
"I'll tell mother on you, you know."
Sabrina winced. "Please don't. So, what do I have?"
"A very long list of stuff," Lance replied. "You're not used to this, so… more then I'd go out with, or most trainers."
"I did go on a pokemon journey, remember?" she pointed out.
"It doesn't count as a journey when you slept under a roof every night," Lance replied. "Now, you've got the essentials. In this bag-" he hoisted the backpack. "-you have your clothes- two pairs of jeans, two t-shirts, two sweaters, three pairs of socks, a sun hat and a knit cap, two pairs of underwear, and your boots are right there." He nodded at the hiking boots. They didn't look new, but they didn't look worn, either. Someone had obviously broken them in, and then put them in storage.
"Why only two of everything?" Sabrina asked, surprised it had all fit in the backpack. Granted, it was a true hiking backpack, and so a lot bigger then the packs she was used to, but that was still a lot.
"Because you'll be wearing one set of clothes. The other will be in case you get wet, and believe me, you will. It also has your toiletries, garbage bags, water treatment tablets, sunglasses, and first aid kit. It'll carry most of your food, cookware, and camp stove, too."
Sabrina blinked, and looked from Lance's face, to the bag, and back. "And you're able to hold it up?" she asked.
"Remember, I do this a lot. Here. Go get changed, the clothes you're wearing now will never do."
He handed over the bag, and she grunted a little at the weight. There was a bathroom on this floor, thankfully. Her clothes, which were just this side of stylish, comfortable to wear, and made of light materials, were unsuitable for mountain climbing. She folded up the light sweater and slacks, and traded them for the jeans and t-shirt. The sweater she tied around her waist.
At least Lance had kept to her favorite colors. The clothes might not have fit as well as her usual wardrobe, that that was fine. The t-shirt was purple, the sweater a darker purple; the other shirt and sweater were light and dark green, respectively, and she nodded, pleased. The socks were black, to hide dirt no doubt, and the sun-hat was an unfortunate floral print, while the knit cap was black. The jeans were dark washed, and the underwear was dull beige. In all, as far as clothing went, it could have been much, much worse.
She hoisted the pack, and was surprised at how much lighter it was. It wasn't light, by any means, but it was lighter.
When she returned to her seat, she switched her rubber soled sneakers for the hiking boots. They were, she realized, more comfortable then her usual shoes. Maybe she'd keep them, when this was all over.
"Alright," she said. "What next?"
"Well, the backpack is for things you might need right away, but not while you're riding," Lance said. "Your sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and tent are in this roll here, and will be tied behind your saddle." He nudged the roll in question with his foot, even as he put the last of the things in the backpack.
It looked like the tent had been wrapped around the sleeping bag and pad. The tent was an orange color only slightly tamer in shade then Giovanni's suit.
"I hope there are instructions," she said. "Otherwise, I won't be able to get it up."
"There's a page, folded up and tucked in the sleeping bag."
"Now, in the saddle bags, you've got two bottles for water-"
"Two?" Sabrina asked, a little dismayed.
"Two, and that's what the water tablets are for. You have a filter, too, but the tablets should do for the trip. And the bottles are the non-breakable kind, too. Anyways, two bottles for water, a compass, a map, a GPS-watch combo, a few bars of food- the rest of the food went in your backpack- a knife, a flashlight, waterproof matches and lighter, the water filter I mentioned, and binoculars."
"And the rope? And the… netting?" Sabrina stared at the coil of rope in question. The netting, at least, she had some idea about. It looked a little like one of those hooded sweatshirts teenagers liked so much.
"The bug shirt you're going to wear, along with a whistle. The rope will go on your saddle. It's for the tent, or anything else, really."
"So, I'll be completely safe and comfortable," Sabrina said. "You seem to have thought of everything."
"Including the pokemon," Lance replied, looking more serious then she'd ever seen him. Even when taking on a challenger, he looked like he was pulling some sort of joke. Not now. "Your team, of course, and the rapidash you're going to ride. There's a tyranitar here, too- don't argue! It'll listen to you- and a lapras in case you need to cross any wide rivers, or go up them."
Sabrina's mouth dropped open a little. "Are you sure about the tyranitar?" she asked, a little weakly. "You know dark types don't like me."
"It's one of ours," he replied. "It'll listen to you. I'll even introduce you to it."
"Alright. Well. Why a tyranitar?"
"Physical protection," Lance replied, voice grim.