.Author's Note. Owwie, my brain hurts. This chapter took way too much thought for what it was worth, but nonetheless, I have choked it out. I've figured out some more details for my plot here, so I've inserted a few plotty things in here and there. Seriously, half of this crap I just figured out last night and decided to work with it.
I know I'm not very dedicated to this fanfic, but believe it or not, it's on my mind quite often now. It's a big puzzle for me to figure out, since I have to work to get it all pieced together, and I do like trying to figure out puzzles. Like what characters to add. That's a big one. I've finally figured out how to connect characters from canon and how to involve some of the details from the anime. So that pleases me to no end!
Anyway, as you've probably seen, and you will see for good reason, there are discrepancies with Sorano's personality. What I mean is she doesn't seem to have a set personality and she changes sporadically. That's done purposefully and don't worry, I have a direction I'm going with that. :3
Okie, sooo to help me out with this story, I'll be accepting ideas! Anything suggested will go under immense consideration and credit will be given when and where due! Thanks in advance!
O-KAY~ I think this is all for my author's note! I hope you enjoy this newest chapter of When It Rains!
R&R please, poppets~! (please please please please...)
Chapter Five: Direction
Beep! Beep! Beep!
An unfamiliar alarm going off caught Sorano's attention, ripping her from her current task of annoying the crap out of Thea to watching the serious girl take out a strange device that was the length of her hand and had a display screen which was lit up with several little blips. The ebony-haired Trainer craned her neck over the other Trainer's shoulder to try to get a better glimpse, but this was proven to be all in vain when the screen had a glare from the sun that kept her from interpreting what little she could actually see.
"C'mon, Crazy Chick, lemme seeee!" she whined, intentionally being irksome by grabbing onto Thea's arm and shaking it about, as if her tone didn't already get her attention. But all she got was an absentminded, I'm-busy-and-need-my-personal-space-you-brat smack to the forehead, to which she shrunk back and inflated her cheeks in her own annoyance.
Turning not one eye in the younger girl's direction, Thea scoffed, "Call me Crazy Chick again, and I'll have my Tyranitar blow you up." Her threat came out with all seriousness that was intended, no matter how distracted she appeared with whatever was showing up on the small screen. From her pocket, she pulled out a small compass, and her gaze went back and forth between the objects occupying her hands, as if to double-check something.
Totally glossing over the threat, only one thing in the russet-eyed girl's words registered in Sorano's brain. "A Tyranitar?! I've always wanted to see one of them! I've seen them on TV during the Johto League, but I've never seen one up close and personal! I've been looking for a Larvitar, but since I'm a new Trainer, they're not exactly easy for me to fi—"
A single death stare shut her up in an instant.
Sorano's face deflated of enthusiasm. "You're no fun." She crossed her arms and struck a defiant pose (or at least she thought it was pretty dang defiant with how she turned her face aside and all). "I'm gonna go and find someone more fun than you. Don't get lonely without me—don't miss me!"
Putting the compass back, the older girl looked off into the distance, basically ignoring Sorano's presence entirely, which could only put the dark-haired Trainer out. Without a word (a response, goodbye, or otherwise), Thea took off running into the forest, disappearing quickly into the green, causing one lone Sorano to boil inside and shout with all hopes her voice would be heard, "No! You can't leave me! I'm leaving you! Get back here so I can ditch you!"
A sigh was now the only company the girl possessed as she stared at the place where her acquaintance had disappeared, loneliness beginning to sink in almost immediately. That's what I get, I guess… She made a face and began into the forest, no concern for direction or destination. Olivine City wasn't far away, she knew, but she lacked all motivation to battle for a badge. Not after blowing a shot like that. I really thought I was getting somewhere too… She pushed past the foliage in her way, but allowed the branches to smack her as they pleased.
"I have no idea what forest this is even…" she murmured, trying to scout out a blazed path for easier travel. She pinched the bridge of her nose and groaned, trying to push against branches that didn't feel like moving before giving up and going around. "This is definitely not fun."
She wandered for a good while, finally after what felt like forever finding a well-trodden path, before a rest was deemed doable, and so she climbed up onto a lower branch of a tree hanging over the path. Propping her bag against the trunk, she let her feet dangle from where she sat. It's after lunch, I suppose… she figured, taking out a simple snack to nibble on. But she was hardly in the mood to eat; rather, an untraceable sourness was bubbling up and she was highly distracted in trying to shove it away.
"This tree here is a nice tree," she mused plainly, trying to lighten her own mood and coping with unresolved issues that she didn't wish to admit. "I think I'll call him Mr. Tree. You see, Mr. Tree doesn't ditch his friends like some other people…"
Then without warning, something unrecognizable shot down the path under her, the great speed of its travel shaking the entire tree and causing some cracks to resonate from the branch. Unfortunately for Sorano, she was far too enthralled by the unknown creature to hear the cracking and merely teetered to keep her balance. "Holy crap, what was that?!" She craned her neck back, but by that time, it was long gone, and the only evidence of its existence was the rustling of leaves.
That's amazing. You'd think that any Pokemon trying to fly in a dense forest like this would have a lot of difficulty, but the way it shot by was like it didn't have to maneuver at all… She decided then to pull out her PokeDex, wishing to search the database for any sort of Pokemon that could possibly even think of flying that fast. But after only a few short minutes (and a bit more undetected cracking of the branch), she decided the number of possibilities just wasn't worth searching through.
"I think it went this way!"
Sorano slid slightly further down the branch (anti-smart move) and leaned forward, seeing a redheaded girl…carrying a guy on her back? What?
And without further ado, of course the exact moment they ran under that particular branch, it just so happened to break, and so in a single instant, they found themselves on the ground with Sorano moaning on top of them, rubbing her backside. "Oww, Mr. Tree, how could you?" she murmured, pouting at the branch that had failed to hold her weight as she stood up and helped the two victims up with a bright red face. As soon as they were both standing, she began awkwardly bowing like nuts. "I'm sorry! This was my fault! I totally didn't know that branch was going to break!"
The red-haired merely laughed awkwardly, shaking her head at the clearly younger girl's antics. "It's no problem." But then she frowned, peering over Sorano's shoulder and appearing a bit discouraged. "Although I think we missed our chance, Josiah. It's long gone by now." She looked back at the boy who seemed a good few years younger (judging by the fact she was an inch or two taller and he hadn't developed the toned muscles of traveling—actually he was actually sort of scrawny now that Sorano thought about it, albeit it didn't do him any detraction in the appearance category) and shrugged before turning back to Sorano. "Anyway, I'm Mara Tsujyou."
"And I'm Josiah Perez." The dark-haired boy next to her gave a small smile, causing Sorano to give a light one back.
Sorano scrutinized the two for a moment, taking in their appearances before asking, "Uh, random question. Did I see wrong or were you—" She gestured to Mara, causing the girl to raise her eyebrows. "—carrying him?"
At this, Mara didn't hesitate to let out a laugh. "That was a bit…unconventional, wasn't it?" She gave this half-hearted grin as her green eyes flickered away. "See, Josiah's ankle is all swelled up and inflamed, so I told him he should stay off it, and since it's too dense here to get a Flying-type, this was basically the only option, given that we were in such a hurry." She broke off into a bit more laughter, rubbing her cheek with her index finger. "But I guess I shoulda probably…asked first. But I was just so excited after seeing that Pokemon rush past!"
Sorano smiled. These Trainers didn't seem to mind her presence; maybe they'd be more accepting than Thea was. But then again, most others acted the same way as Thea, so she really shouldn't be surprised if the outcome was the same. At that invading thought, she tried to keep herself optimistic. After all, hoping for the best was the only thing keeping her afloat. Getting past the fact that Josiah didn't seem fazed about the entire ordeal—in fact, he didn't even seem to notice that last exchange between her and Mara that regarded him—she suddenly decided to add, "Oh, I forgot to introduce myself! I'm Sorano Kato."
A last minute decision caused her to pull out what was left of her snack and present it to her new acquaintances. "Here, to make up for…uh, falling on you, how about some honey cookies? I made them myself before I left from my home in Cianwood, but they're still pretty fresh. They're made with sweetened Combee honey from Sinnoh."
Instantly her words made Mara's face brighten up like a child on Christmas morning. Her green eyes shined as they gazed down to the small baggie of familiar cookies. "Oh wow, I never thought I'd see a local delicacy being made in Johto! They look just like the cookies I ate back home when I was a kid…!" For a second, Sorano thought the redheaded girl was going to cry she was so overjoyed. As the older girl gingerly took one from the bag, slowly and precisely as if it was a science, she came closer and closer to that near-tears look. "And smell that honey! It's as if we're actually in Floaroma Town…"
Mara's cloud nine left the two younger Trainers in a unanimous stupor. If this was how she was before even taking a bite, it would be quite the experience to watch her reaction once she sunk her teeth into that apparently highly-regarded cookie.
"Whew! We've been running for a while! I think we need a break now, Ron!"
Kimiko extended her arm and latched her fingers around her brother's wrist, pulling him to a full stop the minute they broke through the thick green of the forest and emerged atop a cliff overlooking the bustling port-city of Olivine. Close to the harbor itself, Kimiko noticed, were many stands set up and multi-colored banners strung from light posts. And even from the distance that separated them from the city, the rhythmic beat of music still reached up the cliffside to their ears.
Olivine was always an active city, as many cities on the water were. It was home to Johto's largest ships and the hub off all trade with all the surrounding regions. It was where anyone would go if they desired to be a sailor and travel the entire world. Plus, the city also received its share of Trainers; those coming and going to and from Johto to adjacent regions often took the vessels that ferried them wherever their journeys took them because it was far cheaper than by plane. And there was also Jasmine, a Steel-type Gym Leader, to give challengers a good fight with her formidable Steelix.
In short, Olivine always possessed its share of activity. But today the city seemed even more lively than usual, everyone all gathered at the wharf. Kimiko could only imagine what sort of things the townspeople were doing down there to celebrate; dancing and games and food and maybe even a Pokemon battle or two or possibly even a tournament. She was heavily hoping for the games and food above all else. Okay, maybe just the food.
"Ron, check it out! Olivine is holding a festival! We should go and make sure everyone's having a good time!" Aka, Ronin knew all-too well, join the festivities and party so hard the next morning would be a living hell. With narrowed eyes, he watched as she whipped out her PokeGear and began to search through her contacts. "I'll just contact Mara and tell us to meet us there at her earliest convenience!"
Ronin was quick to object, just as his twin knew he would. "But shouldn't we—?"
Cutting him off, Kimiko waved him off. "Don't worry, Ron. Mara's a big girl; she doesn't need us to hold her hand and lead her outta one measly forest! Don't forget who her mentor is!" At this, she took the opportunity to thump her chest with a curled fist and click call on her PokeGear. "I never skimp on lessons when teaching my juniors!"
If there was any lesson that Kimiko skimped on, Mara knew it was this one. Actually, Mara could think of multiple lessons that her senior taught that weren't exactly up to par, but as of now, the brunette's poor teaching ability was the last thing on her mind. The thing that was occupying her thoughts was the exact thing that she didn't hesitate to voice.
"GIANT BUG! KILL IT! KILL IT! KILL IT!"
It should be stated here and now that usually Mara was the type to keep her cool when confronted with any number of opposing wild Pokemon and could put up a pretty good composed front when she needed to, but when it came to one little Weedle suddenly turning, calling over hordes of Beedrill, and them all swarming all around her, Josiah, and Sorano, there was no way that level-headedness would be part of her personality description. Along with her appearance, this was the primary thing that she had in common with her cousin—she didn't want to think about the story behind it; now definitely wasn't a good time for that—and it wasn't something that she could exactly handle.
"It must've been the honey from the cookies that attracted them…" She heard Josiah murmur, which really didn't help the situation much because he was flatly blaming the sweets of her childhood. But she figured that she could let his remark slide with what she was doing, since at this current moment she was basically using him as a human shield.
Sorano, on the other hand, was absolutely thrilled with all of this. Being the first time exposed to this many Beedrill at one time, especially this close up and when they were this active, one could simply say ignorance was bliss. "Whoa, look at them all! The biggest one is usually the leader, right?" Her head was shooting every direction, looking for the said leader with an exceedingly-excited grin occupying a vast majority of the muscles on her face.
"We do NOT want to meet the leader, Sorano!" Mara put up the hood of her sweatshirt—as if that would do anything to better her position—and tried to shrink within herself. "Just don't do anything to agitate them!" The constant humming of their wings was dizzying and she only motionlessly stared as the stinger-wielding insects circled in their search for the honey that they had caught whiff of.
The ringing of Mara's PokeGear interrupted the scene and the sound of it caused the girl to frantically pull it out, feeling a renewed sense of revelation as she saw Kimiko's icon blinking on the screen. She clicked the button to answer and quickly began, "Kimiko, we have a prob—!"
Not even seeming to hear her, Kimiko's cheerful voice interrupted her, obviously in a world all her own, "Hey, Mara, just checking in to say Ron and I are gonna be in Olivine partying it up! Meet us there as soon as possible, 'kay? Byeee~!"
"Kimiko…" Her voice an irritated grumble, Mara barely kept herself from crumbling onto her knees and into the fetal position. But with her senior on her mind—being annoyed with her still was considered being on her mind—suddenly deciding to make like the brown-haired girl and have a mid-crisis revelation. She peered down the back of her human shield and scanned the Pokeballs hooked to his belt. Spotting the one with a little flame emblazoned on the red top, she snatched it up, and called out the creature inside. "Please know Smokescreen, please know Smokescreen, please know Smokescreen…"
The young Cyndaquil burst out in a flash of red light, just about as confused as its Trainer at this point (who had this really deranged look on his face at current), and instantly seeing the horde of Beedrill, burrowed into the ground. Not a Dig, but just…dug about a foot down, plopped into the hole, and pretended it didn't exist.
Mara deadpanned, Josiah groaned, and Sorano was too busy to notice.
Yup, they were officially screwed.
"Sir, my targets have left the area. What do you suggest?"
Aku Otoko's expression grew from grim to downright furious. This was only more bad news to add onto what had already been occurring. Not only was Project X-Shinka, the focus of his every effort, at a standstill—for the fault of his underlings, he surmised; they were far from reliable—and now this call had arrived from one of his field agents in the midst of it all.
The dark-haired man leaned back in his chair, but said nothing; no, he was a composed professional. Setbacks were only to be expected from half-rate subordinates; he just had to roll with the punches, as they say. Things would start progressing after they had surmounted their impasse, and they'd quickly be on their way again. It was only a matter of time.
He ignored his agent, the earpiece lingering in its place not forgotten, and sat back up to his desk. The office surrounding him was dimly lit, the only source of light from a desk lamp kept always aglow over his workspace and more importantly, the only touch of home that remained—a cracked yet ever-elegant picture frame. The picture pressed inside was untouched, undisturbed by the outside world. Not the person in the photograph though; no, she's gone now…
Pulling up the files that had occupied many long hours of intent study over the last number of years, his eyes scanned through line after line. He wasn't even going to think about how long it took to compile all of this data, because as of right now, it was proving utterly useless. The thought made his blood boil with frustration, thus he was forced to turn his attention away from the screen of his laptop and over to that manila folder that had remained as a source of irritation all its own. His fingers traced over to it and pulled the paper-clipped pages out.
Out of everything, this was the most irksome of every mystery. What he held in his hands was the research files of the renowned Dr. Yung, a scientist that had once resided in Kanto and disappeared almost two years ago after his laboratory caught fire due to what had been described as "an experiment gone horribly wrong". Reports (or moreover, rumors) had suggested that involved with the case were five minors and the world-famous Professor Samuel Oak. Most were skeptical, as there was no concrete evidence that they were even in the vicinity at the time.
But Mr. Otoko knew better than to be skeptical.
After all, he had helped fund this research that led to his downfall.
However, in all honesty, he held very little faith and interest in his associate's so-called "Mirage Pokemon" project. The thing he did hold interest in, on the other hand, was the data and research that had went into the project. By the sounds of it all, he had access to an unsurmountable amount of information. And that's where the mysteries had made their roots.
Where did he get all of that data?
And more importantly, where did it all go?
He fingered through the pages, leafing through without any second thoughts, until he came to the last page. It was a webpage, printed in black and white, with an article and a picture stapled to it. The picture wasn't from the web, nor any media source, the green-haired man knew, as he lifted the photo and peered at the back, reading the cursive handwriting scribbled onto it. All that was written was three words, three simple, half-legible words.
Remember your promise.