Transformative Work

FANDOM: Pokémon

Sapphire Seas

Copyright © 2023 Melissa Irene Burrowes

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the Author.

This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and locations depicted in this story are fictitious.

Contents

Home

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

Chapter 1

Inspector Howard Looker watched the Mauville Game Corner from a solitary distance, keeping one eye on the casino's comings-and-goings and another on his morning coffee.

He wasn't supposed to be staking out the place yet. He had just arrived in the Hoenn region that morning, and he was supposed to contact his superiors before pursuing any clues, but every so often his eagerness got the better of him and he disregarded procedure.

And as usual, he was rewarded.

The couple were walking on the sidewalk across the street with their cat Pokémon, Meowth, prancing blithely ahead. Even in civilian clothes, which together with their unassuming manner made them appear as average tourists, Looker recognized Team Rocket's top admins – Jessica Scordato and James Marchesi.

They stepped into the casino just as Looker's transceiver rang; he glanced at the caller identification, briefly considered letting it go to voicemail, and then opted to answer lest his boss get peeved at being ostensibly given short shrift.

"...Yes?" he spoke, a bit more tentatively than he should have sounded.

"Looker," came the gruff voice on the other line, "you haven't gone off gallivanting after those Jessie and James folks yet have you?"

"Maybe," Looker conceded.

"...damn it, this shit is par for the course from you. You know fully well that's not how we do things!"

Looker could somewhat picture Nanu's indignant scowl, as disdainful as the pedigreed Meowth his superior raised and bred. Nanu was a nickname; his given name was very long and he thought it pretentious-sounding, and his surname of Jenney so common in the police force he preferred to go by a different appellation wherever possible. Looker sidestepped all that by calling him Chief. No need to walk a fine line with aestheticism when he did so with everything else.

"I'm starting to think Team Rocket uses their casinos as secret bases," Looker said. "Every time they're in an area they always check in to the Game Corner owned by Rocket Enterprises. Any way we can get a warrant to search..."

"We've done that countless times already and it doesn't turn up shit," replied Nanu. "You'd think the regional gaming bureau would've discovered something anyway. No more warrants."

It turned out, however, that Nanu had another reason for contacting him today. "In fact a lot of our leads lately are turning up cold, so I'm assigning you a partner to help you work on this case."

This surprised Looker. "That's not necessary. I really am used to working on my own."

"Inspector Anabel Faller," continued Nanu, as if he had not heard the objection. "who's been with the force five years now and also has qualifications as a skilled trainer. She defeated three of Hoenn's Elite Four on the first try and has spent much of her off-time helping to run the regional Battle Tower. Not to mention she's raised contest Pokémon too."

"Which is her side gig?" Looker asked skeptically, "Pokémon training or interregional police work?"

"You might need someone with that kind of expertise on the Pokémon circuit. Word back here in Kanto says Team Rocket's got a rendezvous with some big-shot at the Slateport Pokémon Contest." As Nanu spoke, Looker side-eyed Jessie, James, and Meowth as they emerged from the casino and headed down the sidewalk, as nonchalant as they had come. "They're holding the contest competition this Friday evening so it'd give you two a chance to figure out what they're up to."

When Nanu was decided on something, it was fairly safe to say he would not waver. "All right Chief," relented Looker. "Where do I meet up with this Inspector Faller?"

"The Seashore House, which is the small café on route 109 beside Slateport City. And Looker?"

"Yes?"

"Remember how we do things."


Looker himself was in his mid-thirties and effortlessly handsome; he had dark brown hair and grey eyes, and often wore one of those tan trench-coats that were perhaps somewhat cliché for investigators in cinema, but Looker embraced the hard-boiled noir look and it fitted him naturally.

What it accounted little for was the weather. The day was hot and Hoenn's tropical humidity didn't help at all. Having travelled from the more temperate region of Kanto, and hailing from the decidedly northern Unova, Looker found the climate uncomfortable to say the least. At least his Growlithe, Growly, was happy. Fire types revelled in warmth.

He retrieved Growly's Poké Ball from the pocket of his jacket and with a click of a button on the red-and-white capsule, sent out the dog. Growly appeared before him in a flare of concentrated white light. Poké Balls were essentially high-tech pet carriers, and made transport of Pokémon – the element-wielding animals of that world, as vital to human companionship as they were to the planetary economy – much easier a feat.

Route 109 was a beach overlooking an ocean strait. Colorful striped umbrellas and folding chairs dotted the sand, and tourists lounged about, some under the shade of the umbrellas, the others trying to suntan themselves in the heat. A squirrel-like Pikachu and a fluffy raccoon known as a Zigzagoon could be seen scampering around, playfully underfoot, as their owners batted a beach ball to and fro. Growly turned to watch them with interest, its ears alert.

Looker saw the appointed meeting-place a few meters away and strolled towards it with his pet tagging along at his heels. Set directly amidst both the sounds of the surf and of wild seagull Pokémon, the Seashore House had a casual ambiance. It was, at its foremost, a seafood restaurant. Very fitting for a beach, Looker thought.

Part of the dining area had an open porch overhanging the ocean, with a view of the sunlit seascape and the way it glistened in shades of aquamarine and turquoise. It was here, outlined against the backdrop of the ocean shore, that he met Anabel Faller.

She had a slender figure, and came by a way of refined aloofness made up for in elegantly unspoken charm. Her hair was long and of lilac hue, and her eyes mirrored the stormy greyness of his own; likewise she was perhaps only a few years younger than he. Looker found her attractive.

"Inspector Faller?" Looker introduced himself, "Inspector Howard Looker," he extended his hand and she shook it.

Anabel smiled. "It's a pleasure to meet you."

"I'm sure Nanu has filled you in?" he asked.

"Not quite everything," she replied, "He said you would discuss it with me more in depth."

He didn't address her statement right away, instead he glanced over at the Meowth atop the railing beside her. The cat wore a large pink bow, with a gold name tag adorning a glittery collar, and was grooming herself indifferent to his presence. "Mrrewr," the Meowth half-purred when he reached out to pet her, and it hopped down to accompany them as they sat down at the table nearest the ocean.

"Is this your Meowth?" Looker asked curiously.

"Yes, she's one of Nanu's show-cats. Her nickname is Meowzie. I've been raising her quite a while now."

"Well, I suppose we should dive into the case at hand," Looker said, glancing back to Anabel. "Have you had lunch yet?"

"No, actually," she admitted, "but I have been here before and they serve good food."

"Why don't we discuss it further over a meal then?"

He waved for the waiter to come over and take their order, and after the food was brought. The two detectives spoke at length.

"Up until yesterday I was working on a missing person case," recounted Anabel. "A certain Captain Eideard A. Stern from the Slateport Harbor just vanished. Unfortunately there's not much to go on and it's reached a dead end. That's why I was in this area."

"How familiar are you with the Team Rocket investigation?"

"I know you've been in charge of it. Team Rocket is the largest crime syndicate in the known world – they have a stake in every legal and illegal industry you can think of but their main front is in gambling. The don is esteemed businessman and Viridian gym leader Giovanni Delavita, who runs it all secretly under the established business name of Rocket Enterprises."

Looker smiled appreciatively. "You've done your homework, Inspector Faller. Let me update you... We know Giovanni is in talks with Mr. Joseph Stone to buy him out as the majority shareholder of the Devon Corporation."

"So? Don't company acquisitions occur everyday?"

"Except..." Looker explained, "Rocket Enterprises first acquired Macro Cosmos, and that didn't end well for anyone except Rocket Enterprises. Now they want Devon. Also, we think they might be laundering money somehow through a trust fund. Have you heard of the Aqua Foundation?"

"Not particularly," she admitted.

"Devon set it up years ago as a charity intended to protect marine life."

"There's always the possibility that they want to do legitimate business," Anabel insisted.

"I don't buy into that idea," Looker said, "Although every indication points to that. They've always run a shady operation. I have been tracking two of their admins, Jessie and James." He put his hand in his inside suit pocket and pulled out some papers; some of them were photographs.

Anabel examined them. A frown briefly crossed her face as she seemed to debate her words before speaking them, "They don't look at all like criminals."

"Most everyone says that who hasn't had firsthand experience with them," Looker said. "They became Giovanni's top enforcers for a reason. We suspect them of everything from petty larcenies to cold-blooded murders."

"Then why not bring them in?" she asked, lifting her eyes from the pictures.

"Oh we've tried. God, we've tried. There's never anybody willing to testify against them. The few times there are, those witnesses always tend to come by an accident. They're very good about keeping their crimes clean."

Anabel thought for a moment, then asked, "What is our next move?"

"Team Rocket is planning to meet someone at the Slateport Pokémon Contest tomorrow," said Looker. "We need to go see what they're up to. Where are you staying?"

"Close by, at the Seaside Hotel."

"Me too. We'll meet in the morning and head to the Contest. What room are you in?"

"Number 55... you?"

"54... most likely across from each other."

By now a couple of hours had already passed, the meal had been consumed and, as if on cue, the waiter dropped the bill on the table near Looker.

"I guess we've overstayed our welcome," smiled Anabel, "The more wonderful the meeting, the sadder the parting...or so goes the saying."

What a beautiful smile, he thought to himself, and smiled back.

Anabel spoke up, "Let's split the bill...I pay half, you pay half." Looker nodded in agreement and they both put cash on the bill statement motioning for the waiter to come over.

The waiter came quickly. "Thank you sir," he said as he noticed a generous tip.

The pair left the restaurant and soon arrived at the hotel lobby. They went up the elevator to the fifth floor, walked down the hallway and discovered that sure enough, their rooms were on the same floor facing each other. Bidding each other good night, they parted with plans to meet each other anew bright and early tomorrow.


The Pokémon contest was being held in the elegant nightclub only a short walk from the hotel.

Pokémon contests were a two-part competition. They were essentially demonstrations of a Pokémon's elemental attacks for visual effect rather than power. 'Best in Show' was attained by the animal who could not only impress the judges by pedigree but by presentation.

A grand stage typically reserved for the orchestra lay before a ballroom, where shining black tables had been set up for people to eat and watch the show. Looker and Anabel arrived and sat at a table near the entrance. Meowzie padded in with them and sat on her trainer's lap, purring, as they observed the attendees and waited for the Team Rocket operatives.

Within minutes Jessie and James showed up as anticipated, their own ever-present Meowth strolling in nonchalantly alongside them. They headed directly for a table some distance from them, where a small group was already seated.

The head of the party was a man approaching forty in age, with red hair and wearing a maroon outfit. He was lean in physique and studious in bearing, accompanied by two who evidently served as his bodyguards. When they approached, the older man rose immediately to shake the hands in greeting, and motioned in an almost subservient manner of utmost respect for the couple to join them at their table.

Looker and Anabel watched them intently. "Faller, do you know who that is?" Looker asked her.

Anabel gave a small shake of her head. "I don't recognize him."

"Neither do I," he conceded.

"If only we could hear what they're saying," Anabel lamented. "They're much too far away."

Meowzie, however, was interested in those at the table for another reason. She had her eyes fixed on the Meowth accompanying James and Jessie. When the other cat Pokémon turned and caught sight of her, the same recognition lit in his eyes, to the point that he briefly stood on his hind paws to get a better look. He stood up easily, with a practiced balance far steadier in poise than any average Pokémon's attempt; then seeming to recall himself sat back down on all fours but did not tear his sight away from her.

Looker pointed discreetly at the tomcat. "Their Meowth can speak in human language."

"I've never heard of such a thing," replied Anabel with skepticism. "Meowth can't talk."

"That one can," Looker maintained. "As a matter of fact we suspect all the Pokémon paired with their elite duos can communicate to some degree, as unbelievable as it sounds."

Meowzie, without warning, leapt from Anabel's lap and scampered off. In the same mindset, Team Rocket's Meowth bolted away from his companions and followed her, tail happily held high.

"Meowzie...!" Anabel protested futilely.

Both cats ran off together and were quickly out of sight.

"From Rustboro City..." came the announcement of the next appeal performance, "contestant number four – trainer and handler Shelly Matthews and her Decidueye."

As Looker watched, the man motioned to the stage, and Jessie and James turned their full attention there. Looker drummed his fingers once, impatiently, on the table. They merely appeared to be discussing the contest. He knew they had to be up to no good; it was a gut instinct of his, and as Team Rocket always tended to leave crime and catastrophe in their wake he was not inclined to believe this was any different.

Regardless, they were all evidently interested in the onstage happenings. Looker followed their line of sight to see the Pokémon performing next. It was a raptor, with green and beige plumage and powerful wings. Between the flight feathers were thin, bare quills, not unlike those of a porcupine, which rattled as it shook itself.

The Pokémon's trainer, Shelly, was about thirty or so and had long red hair styled in fluffy curls via a permanent. At a quick signal from her, the bird Pokémon swooped into the air, on time with the onset beat of tropical music.

In a combination display of sparkling energy and cascading leaves, the bird manifested a semicircle whirlwind around its dancing trainer. It spun in flight to fire its quills, shooting the leaves down flawlessly in a barrage of timed arrows. The audience applauded with awe.

"She has her Pokémon extremely well-trained," Looker remarked. "I've heard that kind of bird Pokémon is one of the hardest to raise."

Anabel explained, "Decidueye is one of the only species with major Pokémon League restrictions on their fighting techniques. It hunts prey in the wild by using the quills without plumage as arrows. In tournament battles, even a Hyper Beam can be done in such a way that it isn't sustained, but there's no way to prevent severe injury from an arrow strike. Decidueye has to use its quill arrows in League tournaments as a way to aim energy attacks instead."

"It's certainly got good aim," said Looker, noticing how not one leaf had been missed.

The trainer and her Decidueye, having completed the performance, both bowed to the audience in syncronization and ceded the stage to the judges.

"Could Team Rocket be planning to steal the contestants' Pokémon?" Looker wondered aloud. "They seem very interested in that Decidueye and its trainer."

"That could be," Anabel considered, "I know high-level Pokémon sell for a large sum on the black market. But...doesn't it look like there could be something else to it?"

"We've got to figure out who their contact is," Looker went on. "That would give us a clue. Maybe he's a buyer."

"I doubt it."

"Why do you think so?"

She wavered just a bit. "It just seems unlikely they would discuss it in plain sight. Especially if they're so devious and painstaking enough to cover their tracks."

"They're expert criminals but they're also brazen," Looker replied. "Honestly I'm not surprised. Hopefully their boldness will be their undoing at some point."

The rest of the contest unravelled swiftly. Meowzie returned at some point, her ears flat. As soon as the judges proclaimed the winner, the group the two detectives were spying on got up to leave.

They hurried out in time to see the man in the maroon outfit and his retinue getting into a limousine. Anabel quickly scanned the license plate with a special device, like one might an unknown animal with a Pokédex, and then checked the information the vehicle bureau instantly returned.

"It's a rental," she noted.

"Good afternoon! Lovely day isn't it?" Looker turned to come face-to-face with James and Jessie themselves, walking up to them without a care at all. And here I'd imagined they hadn't noticed us, the detective thought with annoyance.

Besides Meowth, they had sent out their two Pokémon – Jessie's serpent, Arbok, its iridescently purple body taking on an added sheen in the sun; and James' globular Weezing, which kept buoyant in midair by its toxic fumes.

"Planning to have a Pokémon battle with somebody?" Looker asked them straightforwardly. Anabel listened to the conversation, evaluating but silent.

"Actually we were thinking of going out to route 110 to train," replied Jessie with ease.

Looker spoke assuredly. "I thought as Team Rocket members you'd wear uniforms when you go off to do that."

"Again with this," Jessie sighed.

"What makes you so sure we're involved with a criminal organization like Team Rocket?" James added. "We make an honest living. We've done so all our lives."

"To that end, why are you in Hoenn? On business?"

"As a matter of fact yes," answered James pleasantly, "our employer Rocket Enterprises has sent us to finalize a little matter of corporate acquisitions."

"Like how your company acquired Macro Cosmos? Though hopefully this time it won't come with murder," said Looker, entirely deadpan.

"Oh yes, we'd heard about that," Jessie remarked, her blue eyes wide with feigned horror. "What a terrible thing that happened, too! I heard the interregional police still don't know who did it?"

"We have an idea," Looker scowled sourly at the couple.

"Well, good luck catching them." They were almost convincing in their way; if Looker had not known any better he might have imagined the statement genuine. "Now if you're through with the uncalled-for interrogation, we have some Pokémon training to do. See you soon, Officer Looker."

"Inspector Looker," he corrected, but the couple and their Pokémon were strolling off already.

Now Anabel spoke up. "They are brazen."

"But sooner or later they'll slip up and we'll get them," replied Looker.

Anabel found Looker's tenacity admirable, even intriguing. He was charismatic to her. They had only been in their partnership for a day now and she could see the remarkable energy and persistence that made him a great investigator. She only felt that his doggedness in this particular situation was misplaced. The business Team Rocket seemed to be conducting here in Hoenn did not appear to her assessment to be anything illegal...and besides...

"You mentioned they had uniforms?" she changed the topic slightly, perhaps more for her own benefit.

"All of Team Rocket's top echelon wear white attire with their syndicate's signature red R and carry combat whips. They also technically command small squadrons of lower-ranking members, though I've rarely seen it in practice," Looker explained. "They're highly skilled fighters."

"Even those who don't look like it?" said Anabel tentatively.

Looker was staunch in his conviction. "Especially those who don't look like it."

Chapter 2

Over the next month, Looker and Anabel were hard at work trying to uncover what Team Rocket was scheming. All their clues turned up without a lead, and the investigation had effectively stagnated. Attempts to determine the identity of Team Rocket's mysterious contact at the Pokémon contest were fruitless as well. This frustrated Looker but Anabel kept his spirits up, endlessly positive they would unearth something soon.

In the meantime they found themselves spending more and more time with each other. Ostensibly it was all work-related, as it ought to be, but neither could shake off the nagging feeling that there was more to it, though they would invariably have denied their mutual attraction had it come up. The truth was each worried the other might perceive their feelings.

They would often go out to lunch discussing their investigation. The topic would drift off to other trivialities. They told themselves it was nothing more than a coworkers' friendship. At some point, Anabel discussed Hoennian cuisine, Looker mentioned a restaurant not far away from the hotel, and somehow they ended up going to dinner together too.

Betwixt all this Meowzie would slink off to unknown whereabouts.

When Anabel and Looker met for dinner, the waitress took their order and hurried off to fulfill it. From there they naturally flowed into conversation. Looker explained about his start in the police force.

"I started my career in Unova for the local police," said Looker, "Worked my way up to detective there and then was recruited for the inter-regional level. Because of that I was out of the area, investigating Team Rocket, when the Plasma war happened."

"Unova – I actually lived there for about a year," observed Anabel.

"Did you now?"

"It was really for Meowzie." Anabel replied, taking a sip of water, "One of the movie producers at Virbank wanted her to star in a film."

"What was the movie?"

"Invaders."

"That's where I recognized her from!" Looker exclaimed, "You know that became kind of a cult classic."

"I remember how worried the exec producer was that it would flop and the director insisting it would be a hit. Meowzie didn't care so long as I'd feed her after every performance. But there were wild Meowth that would wander into the backlot sporadically..."

The waitress arrived with the food and as they ate, Looker asked, "How about you, Anabel? How did you come about entering the field of police work?"

"Well," she began, "I'd say it's much the same as you... I liked the idea of protecting people, but I also felt drawn to the concept of investigations and finding answers. My relatives..." Her voice trailed, as if she thought she had spoken too much.

"They disapproved of it?"

"On the contrary. I believe they liked the idea too much."

Realizing this ambiguity had only piqued Looker's interest, Anabel elaborated somewhat:

"I think they had one idea about how police work should be and I had another idea. They're practical people. I see it more like a calling," she reflected, her words measured.

Almost conflicted in some way, and slightly weary at unspoken recollections, Anabel glanced down at her food as she continued eating.

"Which makes work difficult sometimes," she muttered; she had not intended for him to hear, but he heard anyway.

"Difficult?" Looker echoed curiously.

She looked up as if realizing she had spoken aloud. Any flicker of weariness Anabel might have had was hidden away in a façade of levity. "Maybe not difficult. Rewarding is a better choice of words."

Eventually they finished the meal and the bill was brought. "I'll take care of it," Looker said and paid it in full. They strolled back to the hotel without saying much more, but in their minds both were still trying to deny to themselves the unshakable reality of possibly carrying their relationship beyond the bounds of professional propriety. They really liked each other's company.

There could be no romance between them. It was against the regulations and tenants of their job. This did not stop them, however, from lingering with each other a little while more in the hallway, each silently convinced they were not overstepping the line.

As they got out of the elevator, Anabel's heel caught in the fabric of the rug and she tripped. Looker caught her easily, wrapping his arms around her to ensure she would not fall onto the floor.

This brought them face-to-face, arousing the emotions that both had been trying to avoid from the start of their initial meeting. Like the ocean's tide they had been drawn together. Their attempts to suppress it were unavailing. Her eyes drifted unconsciously to his lips, his arms still embracing her as he now leaned forward within centimeters of her mouth, then stopped. All at once they seemed to realize and as if of a mutual accord, Looker released her and they each took an awkward step back.

"It's getting late," said Anabel.

"Yes, I suppose it is." He smiled a little regretfully. "I'll see you tomorrow morning, Faller."

"Looker," she nodded in corroboration, and stepped hurriedly away into her own hotel room.

Looker turned the key to his room and opened the door, still thinking about his partner Anabel. She had her mysteries, which only bestowed upon her an alluring quality, and when he found himself thinking back to just a moment ago when they had ended up in each others' arms...

But no. He had to remember his place...their professional conduct... Besides, it wasn't like there was anything more between them...surely not.

This is what Looker told himself as he stepped into the bedroom. In so doing, he noticed a bedside lamp was turned on.

I didn't leave it on, he thought.

Realizing something was amiss, he turned back to leave the room but it was too late.

He was suddenly seized from behind; wrapped tightly by Arbok, and before he could struggle free found himself assailed with a smoky gas by Weezing.

The effects brought on a profound vertigo, and Looker was able to vaguely make out the lithe, shadowy figures of James and Jessie observing at a distance before he lost consciousness.


The next morning, Anabel woke to bright tropical sunshine and songbirds mocking the uncertainty of distant rain-clouds. Meowzie was curled up asleep in a circle beside her on the bed, having let herself in through an ajar window.

"Hello my kitty," she said as she petted the cat on the head, "Did you have a fun night?" The cat only purred in reply and Anabel looked at the clock at her bedside. "I had better get dressed. My partner will be here soon," she said aloud.

When the appointed time for meeting came and went, she grew concerned. Anabel knew Looker was prompt and usually on time. By now, he would have knocked on the door, and they would wander downstairs for breakfast. When he did not show up she went to find him.

She walked directly across from her door to his and tapped on the door calling his name, "Looker?"

There was no answer. This is unlike him, she thought. She saw a cleaning maid working her rounds and convinced her to open his room. Once inside she inspected it and found his transceiver and handgun were atop the table, something that really made no sense as he never left anywhere without them. However, perhaps even more unsettling was that his bed had not been slept in.

Anxiety was now at the forefront. At this point she might have requested to see security footage, but she had her suspicions and therefore something else in mind.

Anabel strode determinedly down the hallway to another, specific hotel room. After two or three knocks, she was met by a couple: none other than James and Jessie. Their Meowth entwined around their ankles, looking up at Anabel with bored, squinted eyes.

"Where is he?" Anabel demanded bluntly.

"Where's who?" James feigned.

"What have you done to Inspector Looker? James you might be my brother but if you harmed him—"

"Come in Anabel," Jessie interrupted, as Anabel stepped into the room. "This conversation is best served in private."

"Easy, Annie; he's alive," James assured as soon as they had closed the door. "We drugged him and threw him out in route 119."

"Route 119?" Anabel, far from being relieved, felt her body immediately tense with dismay. "That jungle? There are man-eaters out there and you left him there?"

"To be fair we left him his Growlithe."

"I don't believe this."

"Not my fault," James answered. "That was Jessie's idea. She said it'd get him out of the way for a while."

"Don't blame me," rejoined Jessie, "That was Meowth's idea. He said it would be funny to see how he'd react."

"What're you looking at me for?" Meowth flattened his ears. "Ask Meowzie. She said it'd force you two to spend time alone and realize you belong together."

Meowzie, on Anabel's shoulder, only hissed at Meowth.

"Is that what this is all about?" asked Anabel, "Here I thought you were trying to skirt an order from Giovanni."

"Giovanni doesn't give a Ratatta's ass about Looker poking around. You know he's got no reason to care."

"Where're you off to?" yowled Meowth, as Anabel turned to leave.

"Where do you think?" she snapped back. "I'm going to get him."

"Better leave your transceiver and weapons," James cautioned.

"Why?"

"Otherwise he'll realize we left you out of it. Can't have that."

Anabel frowned. "You two are the essence of trouble, you know that?"

"Thank you. We try," Jessie smiled slightly.

"Anabel," asked James, "how long do you think you can hold out without your partner discovering you've got relatives in Team Rocket?"

WHUMPUARY PROMPTS: No. 7 (Drugged)

Chapter 3

Looker blearily opened his eyes; at first he did not know where he was. The last he recalled was Slateport City – and Team Rocket – and...

Jeering cries of tropical Pokémon reached him from overhead, where a heavy canopy of wide leaves and palm fronds practically conquered the sky. Rain seeped through the vines, pattering steadily upon moist earth and wet, dead leaves; as Looker forced himself up from where he lay he dazedly took in in these wilderness surroundings, wondering where he was and how the hell he got there.

He glanced up to see Anabel running over from a distance.

"I was looking everywhere for you," Anabel said breathlessly. There was combined relief with something akin to frustration on her face, and as she knelt next to him she added grimly, "We're in the middle of route 119."

"Route 119...?" he echoed.

"I'm native of Hoenn," she reminded him. "I travelled through this territory during my Pokémon League journey years ago. The jungle here is still as untamed as ever."

He thought to search for his belongings and found he did not have his transceiver or handgun. However he discovered a crumpled note in the pocket of his jacket:

stay out of Team Rocket's business

Looker tossed it aside, annoyed. "So they dumped us out here. The scoundrels!"

"It could have been worse."

"Worse than this embarrassment?" Looker scoffed.

"They could have killed us, you know," Anabel posed.

She was right about that, Looker admitted silently, but the way they had been so deftly tricked still frustrated him. They could have stolen their Pokémon too, but it turned out they had all their Poké Balls with them. This kidnapping was meant as a warning.

"Fortree City is due east," said Anabel, "it's really more a village than a city, but there are people."

"We'd best start walking, then," conceded Looker, and they set off down the jungle trail.

Trudging through the rainforest was a wearying endeavor, though neither would admit as much. They tried to avoid the wild Pokémon but alas this proved easier said than done. In such dense undergrowth it was hard to tell apart the natural vegetation from the plantlike features of an Oddish or an Ivysaur until the latter moved, and by then the creature, feeling threatened, would invariably attack.

Growly was able to repel them with its fire attacks, but although its type was normally effective against grass Pokémon the rain-soaked environment put it at a disadvantage. Even with the assistance of Meowzie, they were soon weak, and so were the two exhausted humans from their trek. The journey gradually brought on tiredness to the point where even the act of walking hurt, and they had nowhere to make camp.

Right when they thought they were lost the foliage thinned and they found themselves before a grassy clearing, beyond which a sturdy wood bridge bounded a short precipice overhanging the jungle river. The river was birthed by an extremely tall waterfall that stood picturesquely behind the bridge and alongside a modernistic white building with some sort of equipment on the roof. Anabel was the first to recognize the place.

"The Weather Institute!" she exclaimed. "Thank God – a sign of civilization!"

It may have been evidence of civilization, yet it was strangely desolate. When they stepped into the lobby, they found all the lights bright and on but no sign of other human beings or Pokémon anywhere. "Hello...?" Anabel called, but only silence answered her words.

Looker frowned. "I think there's something suspicious about this. I should imagine the weather institute would be staffed at all hours."

"At least we can dry off," said Anabel, "though I agree with you, Looker."

"I'm going to call headquarters and afterwards see if I can find anybody. Cautiously of course. Classic precautions never go out of style," Looker remarked.

Anabel recalled the animals and took them in their Poké Balls to the restoring machine off to the side to heal.

Meanwhile Looker left to find a telephone, only to discover the phone lines were dead.

Suddenly there was the combined growl of numerous Pokémon, and he turned to find himself surrounded.

The assailants wore short black gloves, black-and-white striped shirts, and navy pants, as well as navy bandanas bearing a white insignia Looker did not recognize. For all intents they looked like ocean pirates, with a sea-hardened gruffness to match. With them were several snarling wolves known as Mightyena, ready to either lunge or unleash energy attacks at their trainers' command.

"Slowly," ordered one of the trainers, as Looker returned the phone receiver to its cradle.

Anabel was soon hustled in as well and pushed beside Looker. She faced their captors tensely.

"Where are the people who work here?" Anabel asked.

"Locked in a conference room upstairs," they answered airily. "Which is where you snoops are going."

"Now is that any way to treat guests," spoke a new voice jovially, "especially when they haven't properly introduced themselves?"

She had long red hair fixed into fluffy curls, and hazel eyes that were sharp as a Spearow's. Despite being armed with only a dagger and a lone Poké Ball on her waist, she evidently was the group's superior by the way they deferred to her authority. It took a moment for Looker to recall she was Shelly, the Pokémon Contest entrant who owned the Decidueye.

At a jerk of her head the guards searched Looker and Anabel, swiftly procuring their identification for her. She scrutinized it wordlessly; then, Shelly raised an eyebrow and glanced up at them.

"The interregional police." She gave an amused laugh. "You're going to meddle in Team Aqua's affairs? You're either absolutely fearless, simply ignorant, or both!"

The levity of her conduct dissipated then, and a glint of cruelty lit in its wake.

"Why don't we find out which it is...?"


Looker and Anabel were paraded outside by the Team Aqua henchmen and their retinue of Mightyena, with Shelly leading the way. She walked to the center of the bridge overhanging the river, and motioned for Looker to be brought forth.

Holding him at knifepoint and seizing him roughly by his hair, she forced him to the precipice of the bridge, to stare down to the rushing water and the numerous red-and-blue fish Pokémon circling below. He could distinguish their impressive jaws and jagged motions in the river; their vicious tendencies were well-known, but Shelly refreshed his memory gleefully.

"Let me tell you about Carvanha, Inspector," Shelly regaled, with inordinate satisfaction, "Out of all the carnivorous Pokémon found in Hoenn's jungles, they are the most savage. They're combination water and dark types, so strong they can shred apart the hull of a small boat. In fact they've been known to strip a live Tauros down to the bone in one minute. Oh, and the smell of blood drives them wild."

Below, the water was frothing from the turmoil of the hungry brutes. Sporadically they leapt up, like Magikarp trying to mount a waterfall, snapping audibly with their jaws before crashing down into the river again. They seemed to realize there was prey on the bridge, and were impatiently clamoring for it to be thrown into their midst so they could wrest it into pieces. With Shelly holding the dagger at his throat, Looker could barely move but he was able to see Anabel out of the corner of his eye being forced to watch. She had gone utterly pale.

His heartbeat was starting to race. Determined to hide his own desperation, Looker tried to focus on an attempt at reason and not the gruesome death swimming below. "Do you really think you can get away with murdering two detectives from the interregional police?"

Shelly had only a pittance of sympathy. "I know we've gotten away with a lot already."

"What is it that you want?"

"To watch," she answered matter-of-factly.

The other Team Aqua minions seemed more uncertain about their actions. One voiced their ambivalence, "Shelly, are you sure about this...?"

"Stay out of it, small fry," she snapped.

"But Archie's not gonna like it," the minion protested rather feebly.

Whatever Shelly countered was drowned out by the sound of an explosion from inside the Weather Institute. When they glanced up startled, Anabel took advantage of the distraction to strike the guards holding her. They doubled over with a gasp, right as Shelly tried to push Looker into the river.

Anabel leapt to save him, catching hold of Looker's hand narrowly; before Shelly could put an end to this she was attacked out of nowhere by a Meowth. It slashed at her with a caterwaul and knocked her away from Anabel.

It took Shelly a moment to comprehend what was going on. Standing on a boulder were Jessie and James of Team Rocket. They were in full uniform, sleekly recognizable white outfits with gloves and boots of black patent-leather, and commanding a small regiment of lower-rank Team Rocket agents ringing the clearing; these were the ones who caused the earlier explosion, Shelly realized, which apparently had released the hostages from inside the building. She saw the latter now escaping, and the Team Rocket group sending out their Pokémon for battle. Ire made the blood rise to her face.

Her subordinates sent their Mightyena to fight them, and two of the wolves jumped to challenge Meowth, giving Shelly a chance to escape the cat's fury and run back to her now-loose prisoners.

Anabel had succeeded in helping Looker onto the bridge, and they immediately sent out both Growly and Meowzie.

Seeing this, Shelly unleashed her own Pokémon Decidueye. "Get them!" she called, and giving a signal sent the bird after Looker and Anabel.

Decidueye held its ground, yet Growly and Meowzie were relentless. The two Pokémon fought in tandem, and Looker found he and Anabel worked surprisingly well as a double-battle trainer team. Under Anabel's direction, Meowzie would bring up a shimmering protective barrier, permitting Growly to strike with its Ember, and Looker in turn commanded Growly to boost Meowzie's Pay Day attacks where he could. For whatever uncertain start they may have had, it was now where both could see the brilliance of their partnership.

Amidst all this they were aware of the small army of Team Rocket agents and their Pokémon, rapidly gaining the advantage in a battle against Team Aqua, as well as James and Jessie directing everything. The novelty that they and Team Rocket were actually fighting against a common enemy was short-lived when Looker's attention snapped back to the fight before him, in time to perceive the inobstrusive signal Shelly gave to her Pokémon and the play following henceforth.

The bird spun in flight and oriented itself in midair just as Looker caught sight of it arching its figure, steadying one of its arrow quills...

It was aiming directly at Anabel.

"Anabel – look out!" Looker exclaimed.

He pushed her aside right as the Decidueye shot its attack. An almost soundless whistle of wind ended abruptly in piercing agony; a gasp of pain broke from him as the quill ran through his arm. Looker fell onto the ground unable to hold back a groan, and Anabel seized hold of him.

Anabel turned swiftly back to the battlefield, a spark of fury in her eyes. "Growly, Ember!"

Growly obeyed her orders instantly, launching its flames directly at Decidueye. The bird squawked and crashed onto the grass, knocked out in one critical hit.

Now Looker and Anabel were unexpectly confronted by a different opponent – not Shelly's cohorts but the Team Rocket agents. In a single strike Growly fell against them, a second subdued Meowzie, and then they were without defense and once again surrounded.

Meanwhile Team Aqua's entire pack of Mightyena had been defeated, to Shelly's astoundment. The extent of Team Rocket's training bordered on military technique and far surpassed their own. James and Jessie had cornered her; without a Pokémon left and unaccustomed to fighting by herself, Shelly could barely dodge Meowth's claws. When she rashly lunged at the cat with the dagger, Jessie nimbly flung it out of her hand with a strike of the whip, and James promptly caught it and held the point to Shelly's throat. She took a step back, eyes wide.

"We know what you wannabe sailors are after," James confronted. "Where'd you find it?"

"I don't know what you penny-ante mobsters are talking about," retorted Shelly.

When the point of the dagger pressed against her neck, drawing a painfully thin line of blood, Shelly relented. "The only one who knows is Archie."

"Then tell Archie," Jessie spoke up, "that Mr. Giovanni Delavita will not appreciate any harm done to our business acquisitions."

"Then maybe you should've invested in flood insurance," laughed Shelly.

James disregarded her remark. "His reasonableness in this regard will make the difference between the continued benevolence of Devon towards the Aqua Foundation and – let's say, the lot of you sleeping with the Carvanha. Capisce?"

Shelly involuntarily shot a glance to the piranha-laden river; now that the tables were turned, her fright was evident. Seemingly satisfied, James cast the dagger aside and as Shelly scooped it up Jessie cracked the whip threateningly on the ground.

"Go tell your captain, deckhand," Jessie sneered.

Meowth punctuated her order with a hiss.

Shelly retreated quickly, and with a motion to her subordinates the entire Team Aqua party fled.

Jessie, James, and Meowth now strolled over to where Looker and Anabel were encircled by the Team Rocket agents.

They were grossly outnumbered. A smirk spread on James' face, but it was Jessie who spoke, almost tauntingly:

"You didn't prepare for trouble, did you?"

WHUMPUARY PROMPTS: No. 6 (Exhaustion), No. 9 (Hair Grabbing), No. 10 (Desperation), No. 11 (Blood), No. 12 (Unfair Fight), Alt. 3 (Recapture), Alt. 4 (Forced to watch)
WHUMPERS-MONTHLY Issue 24: Shot by an arrow

Chapter 4

Fortree was a cozy town hewn amidst the lofts of the jungle tree-branches, nestled tranquilly in the heart of the rainforest miles up from the ground and miles away from any other sign of civilization. Naturalistic huts with thatched roofs had been constructed about the canopy boughs and were connected by a series of wooden platforms and rope bridges, giving the village community a primitive yet appealing vibe.

Looker knew it as one of the wonders of the Hoenn region, and had always wanted a chance to visit it; however, these circumstances were not the sort he had wished for. What made it patently worse was how Team Rocket was well-received here and the townspeople were more than happy to look the other way at having these criminals strolling about, in full uniform, as if they were average travelling trainers. It followed that they could not rely on the villagers for help to flee their captors.

All considered, Team Rocket treated Looker and Anabel with strange courtesy. They were given freedom to walk around the small cabana they were being held in, but two Team Rocket guards posted at the entrance barred any escape, and this time their Pokémon had been taken away besides.

Not that Looker had much strength to protest, let alone walk very much. Clutching the arm where the protruding arrow was lodged, he tried not to focus on the pain – a futile feat. He was becoming lightheaded from the loss of blood; no sooner had they been placed in the hut did Anabel help him to somewhere to sit. He sank into the chair, trying and failing to hide how his body was beginning to shiver from pain.

"Let me see," Anabel said, as she leant over to examine the injury.

"I'm fine. ...it's a mere trifle, not at all painful," Looker claimed, gritting his teeth.

"You were shot with a Decidueye arrow," chided Anabel. "You're not fine. We have to remove the quill or it might get infected."

To this he did not object, the veracity of it being plain. At the same time one of the younger Team Rocket agents stepped in and deposited a small bundle atop the small table to the side. He left without addressing them, and Anabel got up to examine the contents of the package.

"I recognize these herbs," Anabel noted. "They're mostly used for Pokémon, but they work on people too."

"If they're providing medicine, that means they intend to keep us alive," deduced Looker.

"Try not to move. This will probably hurt," she murmured.

Being as gentle as she could, Anabel gingerly divided the arrow in two. Looker flinched as she pulled away both of the split quill shafts, but this done he maintained relative stoicness as she applied the herbal salve and bandaged the wound.

"You saved me back there," Anabel said as she worked, a frail attempt at distraction. "Someday I'm going to return the favor."

"You already did. You helped me back onto the bridge," responded Looker. "Do not expose yourself to danger on my account..."

"We're supposed to protect each other. That's why we're partners."

"Anabel..." Looker began to say, then halted self-consciously. That was the second time he had called her by her given name. The first time had been in the thick of battle with Team Aqua, uttered in the heat of the moment.

He did not want her to be in danger. Not if he could ever help it. He cared about her, as more than merely a partner...

He was falling in love with her, wasn't he?

Before he could say anymore, two Team Rocket guards walked in.

"You. Let's go," said one gruffly, pointing to Looker and motioning outside.

They separated him from Anabel. He was escorted down the rope bridge to another hut at some distance, where they pushed him through the bamboo beaded curtain at the entry and he was then face-to-face with Team Rocket's high-rank admins: Jessie and James. Off to the side, their Meowth was perched atop a low bookshelf beside a bowl filled with various kinds of berries, watching the scene play out.

"Thanks; we'll take it from here," James dismissed the guards.

When the guards left, Jessie motioned to a chair with the whip she held.

"Sit down...the last thing we want is for you to collapse," Jessie ordered.

Still weak from his injury, Looker obliged; however he was defiant as ever. "You must realize your actions will look questionable, and when we prove you two are here as part of Team Rocket—"

"You can't prove we were here at all," James interjected smugly.

A renewed feeling of helplessness came over Looker as he realized the sobering truth of the statement. He glanced warily between James, leaning unconcerned against the side wall with arms crossed; to Jessie, switching the whip to and fro like the tail of an irritable Liepard; to their Meowth, sitting indifferently atop the bookshelf and grooming himself. Without backup, by himself, he could never contend with all three of them.

"What does Team Rocket want?" Looker asked.

"Why don't we have a little chat about what Team Aqua wants," Jessie countered, "They were the reason you ended up dangling from that bridge as piranha bait."

"Right now those fishy fiends have plans to hijack a submarine at the Slateport harbor," James explained. "From what we know, their goal is to wake up a legendary Pokémon hibernating at the bottom of the Hoennian sea. If they succeed, it'll flood the whole region."

"So you're revealing this secret to me?" Team Rocket were never so forthcoming with the authorities; if what they claimed was true it would be alarming, but Looker scarcely believed them. "Where is this dangerous Pokémon exactly?"

"If we knew that, we wouldn't be confiding in you."

"Why are you telling me?"

"It cuts into our business."

"I wouldn't expect anything more noble from the Team Rocket mafia," scowled Looker.

Jessie sighed in disapproval. "When will you realize, Officer, that we're on the same side more often than not?"

"Inspector," Looker corrected harshly.

"...and this is one of those times," continued Jessie ignoring him.

"It'd be easier to believe that," said Looker, "if you weren't holding us hostage, for starters."

"You're not a hostage. You can leave whenever you want. Here are your Pokémon by the way. We took the liberty of healing them to full fighting strength."

He looked at the two Team Rocket elites incredulously but gladly accepted the Poké Balls back.

"Do you know why Team Aqua attacked the Weather Institute?" he asked.

"To find out how to awaken Kyogre. The Weather Institute studies not just planetary weather patterns but also those produced by Pokémon, and consequently they have a lot of info on ancient myths."

"Kyogre?"

"The name of the legendary Pokémon. It's a prehistoric ancestor of Wailmer."

"I suppose you think divulging all this to us makes up for the ambush at Slateport," prodded Looker.

"Oh, that." They both smiled a little patronizingly. "I think us saving your skin from Team Aqua, not to mention all those trapped hostages at the Weather Institute, more than makes up for that...anything else is a gift."

Looker disliked the sound of this. Team Rocket never gave anything for free, except maybe to someone possessing familial ties. They believed very strongly in their way of debts and payments, and always made sure any credit granted was eventually collected in some form. What they were planning, he did not know, and he would certainly never let himself be compromised by them, but for the moment he would take their 'gift' of information and run.

WHUMPUARY PROMPTS: No. 1 (Secret Revealed), No. 3 ("This is gonna hurt"), No. 4 (Lightheaded), No. 8 (Hostage), No. 13 ("I'm Fine"), No. 14 (Flinching), Alt. 2 ("Let me see")

Chapter 5

Anabel paced back and forth in the hut. I wonder what's going on...why the delay? she thought. A noise outside of the door made her glance up quickly to see Looker walk in.

"Finally!" she exclaimed, "I was beginning to worry...what happened?"

"They wanted to chat, apparently," he replied with a sigh, "They're letting us go."

"So what exactly was the interest in chatting?" Anabel asked.

"They confirmed the people who were trying to feed us to the piranhas are a competing organization to Team Rocket called Team Aqua," Looker replied, handing her Meowzie's Poké Ball, "and that this Team Aqua is trying to release a legendary Pokémon called Kyogre."

"Wait a sec," Anabel interrupted, "that rings a bell. I heard somewhere, a long time ago, of an ancient Pokémon related to Wailmer capable of flooding an entire region."

"A disaster, for sure," Looker added.

"Why tell us, though," she wondered aloud, "It's not like Team Rocket would need our help to stop them... or... is it more of wanting us to look the other way?"

"Most likely they are planning something," Looker speculated, "and also want us to be aware that it would, actually, be a good thing they're doing as opposed to their usual sinister activities. Not that I buy it in the least." Immediately he glanced back to the entry of the hut, remembering others might hear, yet the Team Rocket guards that had been posted there were no longer in sight. "There's no motive to waking up Kyogre. Why would anyone wish to flood the region? It's nonsensical."

They were both silent for a moment, without any logical answer to this enigma. Finally Anabel spoke up:

"Well, we're free to go, then. Shouldn't we try to contact headquarters and let them know what's happened?"

"Maybe Team Rocket would let us use a phone," he answered, "but I'd rather not stay here a minute longer. We'd be under scrutiny. Have you noticed how the townspeople here don't even bat an eye at Team Rocket? They've taken over Fortree in a way I didn't think possible."

"You've got a point," Anabel admitted, though there was a twinge of reluctance in her voice, "I even saw the Fortree gym leader having a casual conversation with a couple of Team Rocket people when we were brought here."

Looker had been so overcome with pain when they had arrived that he had not noticed. The arrow wound still held a dull ache despite having been treated. Looker felt weak, and very much wanted to lie down and rest, but he preferred not to remain in what was essentially enemy territory longer. Her observations validated the urgency.

They left the cabana unhindered, and hastened their pace heading towards the town exit. Reaching the main road leading out to route 120, they turned and looked behind them.

Fortree was a vision of peace; there was no one paying attention to them, or so it seemed. They both walked briskly off, making their way on the footpath to Lilycove, the next city over, where they would be able to contact their boss Nanu.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, a pair of binoculars watched them from one of the tree branches. It was Meowth.

The cat Pokémon bounded down to the thatched roof of the hut below and reported quickly to Jessie and James, who stood outside waiting for him. "Prrrr, they walked out of town."

"Good," said Jessie, "Let's hope they're smart enough to know what to do."

"Anabel is intelligent. She will reason with him," James added.


Perhaps walking to Lilycove had been inadvisable, reflected Looker, but what else could they do?

The path there was exasperatingly long, but at least it was not as arduous as route 119. The way had been smoothed more for the benefit of tourists than journeying trainers, providing a scenic landscape interspersed by swathes of tall grass and reeds, and another wooden bridge overhanging a beautiful lake.

Traumatic memory brought a sense of unease to Looker as they walked across the bridge. He kept subconsciously glancing into the water like some dangerous Pokémon lurked in its depths. Anabel noticed.

"There aren't any Carvahna here," she said, "only Goldeen and Marill."

"That's right, all this travelling must be nostalgic for you," Looker recalled, "didn't you say you were originally from here?"

"Well, I took my Pokémon trainer's journey here."

"Oh, you weren't born in the Hoenn region?"

"I was technically born in Kanto. However I've lived here so long, I consider myself native to Hoenn."

That answer was fair enough, and as they left the bridge behind them and continued down the tranquil road, Looker found himself dwelling on the lovely enigma that was his partner. Her many mysteries only attracted him more; he had always found a sense of the exotic in the inexplicable. Even more so when the inexplicable was so pleasant to be around.

...and there he was going again.

Anabel meanwhile had an adjacent dilemma. She was conflicted between laying out all the cards or keeping her hand to herself. If he asked her the reason she left Kanto, she supposed she could concoct something about wanting to train tropical Pokémon that could not be caught in Kanto.

The reality of course was she had wanted to separate herself from the activities of Team Rocket; presumably she could work in her chosen career more honestly in Hoenn, without the overarching shadow of the crime syndicate and its influences on the Kanto police force. A patently ludicrous fancy in hindsight.

Still, there was so much more he did not know of her. That her real surname was Marchesi, not Faller? How could she even begin to explain that? Oh, by the way, my only family is in Team Rocket, the world's most dangerous mafia, which we happen to be investigating. Yeah, I know they lie, steal, and kill like it's drinking water but I'm not like them. ...Yes, I'm as committed to this investigation as you and everybody else in the interregional police. ...No, I'm not going to betray my brother.

Somehow what made it worse was imagining a hurt expression on Looker's face. She had grown very fond of him, which only added yet another impassable facet to her roundabout of conflicts-of-interests.

The more she thought about her predicament, the more she thought it best to keep her mouth shut.

Anabel and Looker reached a grassy hill where they decided to stop and rest, and they sent out their Pokémon from their Poké Balls too.

The grass here was a mossy carpet, unlike the sparse type so prevalent in that tropical region that left bare patches of ground. Berry trees grew beside a shimmering sunlit lake of freshwater, and from the rise they could see the stretch of land remaining to reach Lilycove City. The trail passed a riverbend estuary and proceeded along the reeds till merging with a main road. It was a fairly straight path.

Anabel had picked some of the Oran berries from the trees, and she returned to where her partner was sitting in the shade beneath a small thicket. "At least we have food," she said, settling beside him.

"Doesn't look like we have much left to walk either," Looker remarked.

"Has anything ever happened like this on your previous assignments?" asked Anabel.

"In a word no. But looking on the bright side, I like touring new places. You know we travel a lot in this line of work but rarely get a chance to travel for pleasure. This is probably the closest thing."

As he spoke, her eyes drifted down the path and caught sight of a small group of people getting into a boat and drifting across the river.

"It's the people from Team Aqua."

"What? Where?" Looker followed her gaze, and they watched the boat till it was obscured by the wide leaves of the mangroves and out of sight.

They immediately hurried over. By the time they reached the riverbank the boat had seemingly vanished. Across the river was a small islet, upon which rose a steep mountain peak.

"Over there is Mount Pyre," explained Anabel. "It's a sacred place here in Hoenn. The ancient people had their burial ground on its plateau, hence the name."

"But why would Team Aqua go there?" wondered Looker.

"On the very top is a sapphire said to control the ocean, and has been guarded for generations," she elaborated. "They must want the sapphire."

"Hold on, that's only an old legend."

"All these regional legends hold truth to them and lately they're all coming to light. Look at what happened in Unova and Galar," added Anabel. "I'm starting to think we live in strange times."

"You can say that again," Looker laughed. "Well, so much for going to Lilycove. Come on, we've got to find a way across the river."

Chapter 6

coming soon...