Case File: Raging Waves

By: Curtis Wildcat

Part Three

Immediately upon returning to the gym I retreated to my quarters. I'd had enough of outside life for now, and I'd decided that I wasn't going to venture back out until I'd attained all the knowledge that I needed. This meant burying my nose in the library books until I'd practically inhaled their wisdom. Knowledge, as the old maxim went, is power.

Whoever came up with that saying didn't have to deal with the racket caused by a magical little black box.

Gritting my teeth, I glared at said box. The entire time I'd been in this room, it would not be quiet at all and would instead regale me with dozens of different songs by a number of different composers. None of the music was really understandable, and I did not care much for it; so how could I make the thing understand that I was not in the mood for entertainment?

"Well, duh," you might say in either a disrespectful or disbelieving tone. "Just push the stupid Power button."

I know now that it was a radio, something that the people termed 'technology'. I didn't know this at the time; I was under the impression that it was a magical artifact of some kind. There was no detectable evidence that the thing could be shut off, and while I could still read with the music going it would be a whole lot nicer if I didn't have to put up with it.

I thumbed a thin wheel towards the top of the box thoughtfully. What to do, what to-

...and jerked my hand away as the annoying music was replaced by a quiet hissing noise. Taking another look at the box as it sat there, hissing away, I tentatively placed my hand back where it had been before...

Nothing happened. No hissing creature materialized and leaped out at me for disturbing its slumber. Deciding to experiment, I once more ran my thumb over the wheel and felt it turn beneath-

An orchestra assailed my ears. I heard it all: the brass section, the winds, the strings, the percussion... it was the sort of music reserved for nobles and royalty. Majestic and magnificent, powerful and awe-inspiring in the hearts of mortals.

I was onto something here.

Turning the wheel more in the same direction only granted me more hissing and an inability to push it further, so I decided to turn it the other way. I ignored the orchestra and the strange-sounding music; what I needed to hear was what else it could play.

There were several people talking to each other about a recent Pokémon tournament and the results thereof. Informative, but not my speed at the present time.

A woman was giving a lecture on Pokémon care and battling, apparently being spoken from someplace called the Orange Islands. She sounded like she knew what she was talking about, so I took note of her name when it was spoken and continued onwards...

Have you ever heard the saying: 'music soothes the savage beast'? I'm certain you have; it's fairly common, and much like 'knowledge is power' it has its roots in truth. An unfamiliar instrument seemed to hum in my ears, and something in my figurative heart responded to it. A light beat, and some noises that seemed almost mystical. I moved my hand away from the wheel and let it drop, listening.

This doesn't sound too bad.

The hum rose an octave, seemed to linger, and then dropped again. Listening carefully to it, I tried to decide what kind of instrument it was. It sounded closely like a horn, but at the same time it didn't give off the same vibe. Unfamiliar or not, it was very attractive and easy to listen to. I wonder if I would be able to take this box with me when I go home?

When I go home... would I be able to return?

I shook my head. Don't start thinking like that, Dolphin, I chided myself. The world of Ruby Eye and Ceiphied is where you belong. Whatever it was that brought you here, it does not give you leave to start thinking scandalous thoughts. Focus on acquiring the power and knowledge necessary to breach the walls between worlds.

Shutting my eyes and opening my senses, I let the box's music fill me; I didn't want to start thinking that I actually enjoyed this world to the point where I wanted to remain, so I took a chance with what I was hearing and gave my mind something to occupy itself. Unconsciously, my feet began to carry me around and across the floor in slow movements. My hair flicked through the air on each turn, and my hands and fingers fluttered about in seemingly preplanned movements. The music was me, and I was the music (just for the sake of redundancy).

The traitorous thoughts simply would not go away.

I never did get around to continuing my reading that afternoon, so engrossed was I in the music that I came to know as smooth jazz; it had to have been at least five hours easy before I was next disturbed. I was not so into it that I did not detect Misty's presence before she knocked, thus I drifted to a stop as she entered.

"Sorry to bother you again," she greeted me, "but I'd like to speak to you in the arena for a few minutes. If I may?"

Looking for the discarded notepad, I picked it up and scrawled a message. -'Certainly, on one condition.'-

"What's that?"

-'How do you get that box to stop singing?'-

Giving me a look that was half-exasparation and half-amusement, Misty pushed something on the side of the box; for the first time since I was rudely awakened by it, the melodies fell silent. I raised an eyebrow. It's really that easy? And here I was getting irritated over nothing.

"So much to learn and so little time," Misty snarked, turning and leaving the room. Whether there was something ominous in her tone of voice or not, I couldn't make up my mind. I opted to follow her out instead of dwelling on it any longer.

A few minutes later, I was standing directly across from Misty on a set of floating platforms. She was too far away for me to write messages back to her, so the best I could do was hope that she could make out my facial cues and body language. "I've been thinking about what you were telling me earlier about your status," she explained, speaking loud enough for me to hear her clearly. "Just hearing about it isn't good enough for me, so I'd like to see a demonstration."

An arched eyebrow. I was strong enough to dust this city, sweep it up, and throw it away. What sort of demonstration does she have in mind? And what emboldened her so to ask such a thing from me?

"It will be a one-on-one Pokémon battle, you versus me," she explained. She smiled challengingly. "Or, instead, you versus Gyarados. The battle will continue until I've seen what I want to see, or until either side is knocked out."

Ah! So that's the plan. If I'm all that I say I am, then I would obviously have nothing to fear. I can handle this. Subtly, I altered my clothes and made them just a bit lighter in both feel and appearance. Perfect. This shall be my regular ensemble.

"So, it's alright with you?" Misty asked.

I undid my ponytails and let my hair flow free, kicked the shoes away, then jumped into the water. I matched her smile with one of my own-even without knowing if she could see it or not through the water-and gestured at her, as if beckoning her forward. This was my element, and no upstart was going to match my prowess. Fear me, child, and drown in the ocean of my power.

"Then let the match begin," she declared, withdrawing the sphere that she'd used to make the sea serpent disappear. With a flourish, she tossed it into the air. "Gyarados, I choose you!"

A flash of light, and Gyarados formed into being within the pool. Roaring on what had to have been general principles, it dived down deeper to stare at me face to face. 'Are you alone?' it growled, surprised. 'Why are you down here? Where's your Pokémon?'

"Don't need one," I mouthed to it- and almost recoiled in surprise. What I'd said to Gyarados was clearly audible!

"Dolphin-!" Misty cried out, just as surprised as I was. "You can talk!"

The words throbbed in my head. I can talk! I... waaiiit a second. There has to be a catch. "We'll concern ourselves with that later," I spoke again. Yep, those were words coming out of my mouth, alright; the way they sounded, they seemed deeper and stronger than expected from someone my physical age. "Let's just get on with the battle. Make your move, child."

Misty nodded. "Let's see what you can do. Gyarados, Hydro Pump!"

Not entirely certain what to expect as the serpent roared an affirmative, I crossed my arms in front of my face. A powerful jet of water, a spiralling wave twisting around it, slammed into my defense. I could feel some of the water seeping through my skin, rejuvenating some energy that I wasn't aware that I'd lost during the day, but the force of the attack left no doubt. I was blown into the side of the pool; I clung there for a few seconds before lowering my arms and pushing myself free. Your standard human probably would've been knocked unconscious, maybe gotten injured. Me? I was just as happy as could be... and delighted at what these creatures were capable of.

Before Misty could call out another attack, I went on the offensive. Teleporting right into Gyarados's surprised face, I decided to see what my physical body could take by winding up and slugging the serpent right between the eyes. Not the wisest approach one could take, but it served my purposes well enough; Gyarados recoiled, roaring, and slapped me out of close combat range with its tail. I was able to straighten myself before I hit the side of the pool again. Somewhere in the background, I could hear one of the Pokémon (don't remember which one; I doubted I'd met them all yet) mutter something about a "Mega Punch", whatever that meant.

Already I was analyzing both ends of the fight. Misty's pet sea snake was powerful, true, but that smack I'd just received stung more than the 'Hydro Pump' did. Long range combat seemed the way to go here. As long as I kept my distance and maintained a close watch so that nothing came flying at me, I could claim an easy win. It sounded like they actively relied on a trainer's commands, which would give me plenty of forewarning.

As for me, I was experiencing the primary downside of having a physical body; when I said that Gyarados's tail had stung me, I wasn't kidding. Multiple points from head to toe made me feel as if an acupuncturist had gone berserk, even though the water settling into my skin healed the minor injury quickly. This last part was neat, but I wasn't a suicidal masochist like some others I knew; I hated-

Curses-here it comes again! Focus, Dolphin!

Gyarados was charging in, aiming to ram me into the wall again. No order had been given for this one (No wonder I didn't see it coming), giving me very little time to dodge or think about what I was doing. Quickly I threw my hands out and formed a water-like barrier in front me; the snake hammered it head-on, causing it to ripple, but it held.

"Use Thrash attack, now!" Misty called out.

Roaring, Gyarados started smashing against the barrier repeatedly and violently with its entire being. I recalled a brief blurb that I'd memorized from the library book about its species. In general, they were easily angered and provoked into blind rampages, even after being caught and trained once in a while; legends had it that they were responible for causing wanton destruction to human civilization in ages past. It was a far cry from the floppy, weak carp they started life as.

While I wasn't intimidated by what I'd read and what I was now experiencing, I was starting to become angry myself. I'd seen greater threats amongst the shinzoku ranks, and they had fallen easily; no overgrown dragon expy was going to best me. Not now, not ever!

Deliberately allowing my opponent to break through the barrier, I teleported again somewhere behind Gyarados and to its left. I tried to dredge up the darker aspects of my being and manifest them on the physical plane as a spear of power, but instead saw a spiralling cylinder of water form around my hand. Not understanding but not wanting to waste an opportunity, I thrust out my hand and willed whatever it was to fire. I was rewarded with an aquatic blast akin to a large Fireball, my arm jerking me back from the recoil. The shot struck Gyarados's side, and I smirked at the roar I heard from it. It had to have felt that...

The Pokémon turned to face me, looking angry as always but not attacking just yet. It seemed like it still had plenty of fight left in it. 'Color me impressed,' it rumbled. 'You certainly have the power of our kind, if not the form.'

"Remind me to pat myself on the back later," I answered dryly. "So, what happens next?"

"Gyarados, return!"

I almost jumped when I heard Misty's shout, wanting to protest, but it was too late. Gyarados seemed to calm down just a little as the red light struck it, causing it to disappear. "That's enough, Dolphin," I heard. "You've proven yourself right after all. You win."

"Awww," I whined a little. Yes, you heard that right. "It was just getting fun, too." I winced at how childish my words sounded.

I couldn't see Misty's face, distorted as it was through the water, but I could almost picture a chagrined smile. "Battles usually are. Anyway, if you don't mind, I have some things I need to ask you. Preferably face to face."

I shrugged and twisted through the water a bit, picking up speed. Shooting out of the pool, I flipped in mid-air and landed feet-first on one of the platforms.

Misty was clapping when I looked up. "I'll give that an 8.2."

-'Huh? What are you talking about?'- I asked elegantly... or tried to. My speech had taken another leave of absence, I noted. Had to be when I left the water. I'm starting to think that there's a trick to this...

The clapping stopped. "You can't speak anymore?" Misty inquired confusedly... and concernedly. Yes, there was some definite concern in that tone of voice; it almost had me twitching. "But you were doing just fine underwater."

Thank you, child, for the unknowing repetition. Frowning, I jumped backwards into the pool again and swam over to where Misty was standing. "I'll need to think about that awhile before I can give you a reason why," I said. "What do you want to know?"

"As long as you're going to be staying here," she offered, "would you be interested in a job as my assistant?"

An assistant... to you? How's that supposed to look on my record? 'Mazoku lord, worked two weeks for a shrimpy tomboy?' "I doubt it would pay all that much," I murmured. "What would it entail? Menial work, battling, whatever? I'd still like to work on getting home."

...Did I really just ask about that? Something's wrong with me, and it's not just the obvious stuff.

"You wouldn't have to actually battle anyone, if you didn't want to," Misty clarified, sitting down on the platform to see me better. "You would just need to assist me with minor tasks. Taking care of the Pokémon, directing any gym challengers to me, making sure the pool and the area around it is clean, and that's pretty much it. If you want, you can get a bit of money from whatever side jobs I take."

Sounds simple enough. Come to think of it, since I could actually find out first-hand-or, in this case, first-fin-what the Pokémon want, that's a problem solved right there. "You told me last night about those. What sort of side jobs would you be doing around here?"

"Well, I'll be giving some local kids some swimming lessons tomorrow morning," Misty said, starting to count off on her fingers. "There's also the matter of helping a few novice trainers get better acquainted with their Pokémon from time to time... their parents usually pay for those. Champion swimmers occasionally book appointments at the gym to practice. Then there's the water ballets and shows, which get the most income. Which reminds me, I'll need to look at some of my sisters' scripts to see if they've done anything new recently..."

Misty continued to talk, but I wasn't listening. To do research on a method to bring myself home, I would need to stick around. To stick around, I would need money (which on the surface was rather silly; it's all just paper and rocks when you get down to it). And how would I get this money?

"-that getup for the 'Beauty and the Beast' tale, where Violet had that ridiculous-looking Ursaring costume-"

"The water ballets," I interrupted before she could go any further, my eyes cold. "Tell me more."

A few beats later, recovering from her annoyance at the interruption, she did.

Dinner was rather quiet...sort of. Misty had taken it upon herself to show me how to use the magic boxes in the kitchen... excuse me, the "modern appliances". I couldn't get too close, not with my hair the way it was, but it was the thought that counted. Stoves certainly have come a long way from the time when you had to burn wood to make them work, haven't they?...

Er-hem... I'd better just leave it at that and move on.

Understandably, my 'rescuer' and soon-to-be boss wasn't big on meals that took a long time to prepare; she told me that it was a habit from her travelling days that hadn't quite gone away yet, as one of her friends did all of the cooking. Deciding not to risk fiddling with the stove or the "microwave oven" just yet, I settled for a sandwich and a few of those berries that Misty bought for me earlier. It was subsequently downed by another cup of that delicious coffee.

Feeling full... it's an odd thing for someone who never had a stomach before. I kind of liked it.

I hadn't felt at all tired since my sudden catnap during Gyarados's training, and my coffee had nothing to do with it. Maybe it was a side effect of whatever it was that I had become, maybe it wasn't; either way, I knew that I had to prioritize if I was to get anything worthwhile accomplished during my waking hours. Vaporeon, who had rejoined me after the battle, stuck close to me; I absentminedly scratched it behind the ears, saying nothing as I straightened out my mind.

Continue to read up on Pokémon. That one's a given. These creatures are looking more and more interesting. And since they're the reason why life in these parts is so stable...

Study the sign language book. It'll beat carrying that notepad around all hours of the day. It's funny, the lengths that people will go to make themselves understood.

Figure out those aquatic entertainment shows and how I was to perform in them. If I'm going to get paid for something, it may as well be something that is fun to do.

Most importantly, I'm going to need to learn how to control these creatures. If it is really as easy as Misty seems to imply, the full might of the oceans would be under her control. No, there's a definite catch. Recalling the lecture that I'd briefly heard while learning how to use the radio, I smiled around a mouthful of coffee. And I think I know how to discover the truth...

-'Misty?'- I inquired. -'While I was fiddling with that box earlier, I'd heard someplace called the Orange Islands mentioned. Do you know anything about them?'-

...by speaking with someone higher up in the hierarchy.

End of Part Three