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Thread: [M] Pokemon: Avarice Versus Justice! (Ashen and Headwrapper)

  1. #181
    The Moonlight Knight
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    Noticing the gradually rising, red glow in Yulia's cheeks, Clive felt a similar warmth rise in his own face. The warmth was strange, uncomfortable and, one might venture to say, embarrassing. It felt new and foreign, carrying an long-forgotten feeling of newness with it. It demanded a degree of carefulness before choosing another action or before muttering another word. It grounded, humbled, those who felt it. Reminded them of human's inexorable desire for friendship, attachment, or companionship.

    Not one to debase himself, Clive cleared his throat, pretending to look elsewhere for a moment. "Yeah," he finally agreed. "We got a lot to do." Then, he quickly withdrew his feet from the water and stood, causing a ripple to travel across the lake's surface.

    Once everything had been put back and order, the pair made their way back to headquarters. While Yulia worked on documenting their findings from the field, Clive began his search for scientists that may have recently aligned with Avarice. It was going to be a complete crapshoot if identifying any such scientist would be helpful or not, but as long as there was a chance, Clive felt compelled to keep the information at his and Yulia's disposal. Maybe there would be some kind of loose end with the person they identify, a family member who has heard from them recently, a credit card transaction or phone call that could at least get them in the same geographical region as the suspect.

    Several hours went by. For the first hour, Clive spent most of it leering at his computer screen, occasionally taking a break to jot something down. During the second, he did much of the same, however, he had begun frequenting the printer. Each time he returned, he would return with different piles of papers that were kept separate with paperclips. Once the third hour rolled around, he had removed his jacket and rolled his sleeves up to his elbows. He began pinning the documents he collected to the cork board mounted behind him, in the very rare empty spaces that were left. Each stack belonged to a certain person of interest, names that Clive began to commit to memory. Not just the names. Ages, addresses, or at least the ballpark areas, criminal records if a person happened to have one. Their physical traits, their height, weight, facial features if a picture was available.

    Eventually, he began to glean over the last pile of documents that he would hang on the bottom of his board. Carefully, methodically, he turned through the pages. When he reached the end, he flipped back to the first page, reading the woman's name again. Mira Saisho, the name read. Clive wheeled his chair back around to his computer screen, going back to the digital records for Mira. This woman had a mugshot on record, although it was from nearly ten years ago now. The image was grainy on the printout, but the quality was much better on the computer.

    Despite being a mugshot, Mira looked rather pretty in the image. She must have been in her late twenties in the image, which aligned with her date of birth that was listed in the profile that Clive put together for her. Her hair was shorter in length, just barely falling below her jawline, and was shaded in a silvery purple hue. It had clearly been expertly styled. The silvery tresses were straightened and styled into curtain bangs that shrouded the sides of Mira's face, teasing her beautiful and youthful features through the space in between.

    This woman is a scientist? Clive thought to himself, gazing for too long at the woman's shoulders, exposed through her aptly named cold-shoulder top. Once he could finally tear his eyes away from the screen, he sifted through the printed documents again. She stole from Silph Co., he realized. And she was trying to steal a... Master Ball?

    He considered the strange profile for a while longer, before pinning the documents on his wall. It seemed like it was time to call it quits. Although Mira's picture was a welcome distraction amongst the see of unflattering mugshots and images of missing persons, or large question marks where pictures were not available, Clive knew that a rested mind would not have been so distracted by such things.

    ~~~~~~~~~

    A heavy, burdensome force weighed down on Clive the next morning. Moving was a struggle, requiring much effort and occasional stretching in between bouts. "Too old for this shit," Clive grumbled on his walk to headquarters. His muscles ached in response to the previous day's activities, despite his apparent training over the last several weeks. None of that training particularly included swimming, Clive regrettably realized.

    The rest of the morning went by rather predictably. Even Clive's soreness became manageable, only requiring a few pain relief pills and an occasional stretch here and there. The day's oddities only began when Clive noticed a strange, rolled up piece of paper on his desk. "What's this?" he involuntarily wondered aloud as he reached for the bound up roll. The paper was stiff and rough to the touch, and was bound in a single pale blue ribbon. After untying the ribbon, Clive carefully began to unroll the hardened paper, which creaked and crunched under the flexion.

    The inside of the aged document was marked in a fading, dark ink, which outlined what appeared to be a map of some kind. "This is..." Clive held his breath for a long while, before tapping his Rotom-phone awake. "Town Map," he commanded, and he set the phone down next to the map. With his fingers, he pinched at the screen to zoom in towards Blackthorn City, then scrolled down slightly. The aged, dried up map matched the cliffs to the south of Blackthorn. On the eastern side of the cliffs, a strange, red circular mark was stamped. Clive cleared his throat, before letting go of the map, which promptly coiled itself back up.

    Where did this thing come from? Clive could only venture a few guesses. His father and Dragonite hailed from Blackthorn City. Could the map been a gift from one of the older member's of the force? Maybe an old trinket of his father's that served as a memento? "Hey, you guys," he said, addressing the other detectives in the office. "Did any of you see anyone leave this on my desk?" He carefully raised the decrepit document, gently shaking it in front of him.

  2. #182
    The Ashen One
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    Despite a long and monotonous day spent late at the office typing away at her computer, Yulia went home that day feeling proud of the work she’d done. Field work seemed to have that effect on her; there was something about escaping the endless screens and files and paperwork to get a more hands-on approach to a case that was so liberating. Even if they were no closer to stopping Team Avarice than they were yesterday, she had faith the things they’d learned would get them there.

    By the time she arrived back at her apartment, her head was pounding, and she was ready for a shower. She let her Pokemon out of their Balls first, and as they ate the food she laid out for them, she let the day—and the slime from Mt. Mortar’s lake—wash off of her. Pain seized her, drumming from her skull and crippling her, and it was impossible to think at all. So, after a shorter cleanse than she had wanted, Yulia was wrapped in a robe, a cigarette between her fingers, gazing at the stars and wishing she could celebrate a good day at work without a migraine.

    ~~~

    She didn’t know when she’d gotten to bed, or why she’d recalled all of her Pokemon into their Balls last night, but the next morning, Yulia awoke to Fritz poking at her with a look that could only mean he was looking for more food. She sat up in bed, grateful that her headache was gone. It was earlier than usual, but she didn’t see the point in more sleep, not when there was so much more work to do.

    Yulia checked her emails over a bowl of cereal while Fritz noisily ate another bowl of food. She hadn’t had the heart to argue with the Glameow, and with a sigh, she realized she was becoming a pushover. Most of the notifications on her phone were pointless: she’d received updates about the documents she requested but not the actual documents themselves; a Suicune researcher had given her a generic response to a question she had asked about the water-type’s migration patterns; her request for more field work funding had been denied, already, and the points she’d made about it had been ignored. When she finished reading through them, Yulia was already heading out the door, her bowl of cereal unfinished.

    Things at the office were like usual. Yulia greeted the coworkers she saw on the way to her desk, including Clive, who had several more mugshots staring at him from his corkboard than she remembered last time she saw him. She offered him a sympathetic smile for his sores and reminded him that, if he ever needed it, she always had ibuprofen on her. Then she continued to her desk and got to work.

    She highlighted the tasks she wanted to get done that day and then started down her list, working methodically to make sure she didn’t miss anything. Today would be a research day; she wanted to know more about the lake at Mt. Mortar, and Suicune, and the complications of a hastily-built hideout. It was only when she heard Clive call out that she looked up from her work. She couldn’t see what he was referring to, and from the looks of things, no one else knew what he was talking about either. Yulia took a sip of her coffee before starting over to his desk to see what he’d received.

    “What’s up?” She almost didn’t see the aged piece of paper among all of the other things spread across his desk. As Clive compared it to the map on his Rotom phone, Yulia leaned closer, inviting herself into his space. She was thankful for Clive’s familiarity with the region, because she certainly wouldn’t have thought of Blackthorn City, not immediately. Her eye caught on the small red mark on the map, and she cocked her head. “Strange,” she commented. “It looks like a clue to something.”

    She paused to glance around the room. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. It was the usual crowd for this time of day, and though a few people were looking their way curiously, most had already returned to their own work. Could one of them have left this on Clive’s desk? But why wouldn’t they say anything? She turned back to the map, trying to guess at what it even was. “Should we…go there?” It was a little soon to be doing more field work, but this was a special occasion. A clue had practically fallen into their lap. Could this map have been related to Avarice somehow? But who would have information about something like that, and why would they hand it over to the detectives on the case?

    Yulia hesitated. Her gaze wandered to the wall of mugshots behind Clive, and her eyes brushed over the faces of the researchers there. “You don’t think this is a trap?” she suggested. She didn’t want anyone else to get hurt, but she needed to know what this map meant. It could have been nothing—it probably was nothing—but what if it wasn’t?

    Excitement spread through her at the thought. She grabbed her phone from her pocket and found the quickest route to Blackthorn from Goldenrod. Yulia opened her mouth to suggest going with backup, in case, but she stopped herself. Blackthorn… She’d read about Blackthorn at the Academy, the city where Clive’s father was from. Maybe this map wasn’t related to Avarice at all; maybe she’d been hasty and inappropriate by inviting herself over here. Yulia took a step away from Clive’s desk, suddenly feeling embarrassed for jumping to conclusions. This wasn’t her place; Clive’s opinion was paramount here. So, she asked him, “What do you want to do?”
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  3. #183
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    "I... don't know," Clive replied slowly. He picked up the mysterious roll of paper once again. It's dry surface was rough against his finger trips. So dry, he worried the ancient looking scroll would crumble into dust at any moment. "As far as we know, it's just a piece of paper. No sense in getting worked up over it yet. If it really does have something to do with Blackthorn City, then maybe it's just something of my dad's one of the old heads found. Just forget it for now."

    He reassured Yulia with a nod. As if to make a point of it, he tucked the cracking document away into the drawer of his desk. "Go make a lunch run, would ya? I've been wanting to try something from that new Unovan place... Bagel sandwiches I think they're called."

    When he was alone once again, Clive drew a long breath and exhaled slowly. It was time to get back to work. He could not afford any unnecessary distractions. Even with all of the effort that he and Yulia had been pouring into the case, they still did not know when Avarice would make their next move, where they would make their next move, and who they would put in danger in the process. Even after their large scale attack, Sierra was the only significant arrest that GRPD to show for it all. Avarice knew they could get away with more of the same if they felt the payoff was worth it.

    After a while, the detective spun around in his desk to face his board of disordered notes and pictures, so insanely disorganized that almost no mind but his own could comprehend the logic to the arrangement. The only possible was exception was Yulia, who had learned to accommodate Clive either because of genuine fondness or desperate necessity. The collection of profiles he amassed before hung down towards the bottom, and he began to pluck off the ones he no longer had interest in. For example, he removed missing persons whose disappearances did not coincide with Avarice's activities as well as any who were almost certainly deceased, but the authorities lacked hard evidence or a body to prove it. Clive understood that at times like these, even he would need to rely on calculated gambles and assumptions where hard evidence would not give him the answer.

    He paused for a moment to observe Mira Saisho's mugshot turned glamour shot before passing over it, stopping to review a different stack of bound pages he pinned to the wall. Soya Omao, he read. Another scientist who had gone missing. Instead of a mugshot, the reference picture was one that had been clearly taken from an identification card of some kind. Maybe a drivers license or even a college ID. Soya was a young scientist who had graduated with his PhD about five years ago, which was only a year before his sudden disappearance. He was not a native to Johto, hailing from Kalos. In fact, he was only reported missing when his landlord noticed the rent was past due.

    Clive carefully separated the stack of pages from the board and rolled back to his desk. Searching online, he found various research that was performed by Soya. Pokemon and Climate Regulation, On Legendary Pokemon's Migration Patterns and their Effects on Magikarp Birth Rates, and Johto's Ecology Before and After the Burning of the Brass Tower were titles of a few of the works that the researcher had coauthored. Clive glimpsed through the abstracts of several of the published studies, and noticed that they commonly mentioned legendary Pokemon, including Johto's legendary beasts. Could Soya Omao truly be a person of interest?

    A deep, frustrated scowl sank into Clive's face as he considered the prospect. One of the more plausible examples of a scientist who may have aligned with Avarice, yet no one had even heard from him for quite some time before his disappearance. No, there must have been some link that he could dig up. Would it even be worth the time to do so? As he pinned the Soya's records back to the board, he waited for an answer to come to him. To gradually float through his mind or immediately present itself, like decisions oftentimes did. However, it did not happen.

    His frustration subsided when Yulia did eventually turn with some grub. His sullen scowl flipped into a subtle grin as he accepted his share. "Thanks."

    Several hours passed while Clive and Yulia continued their work. They reconciled their findings and discussed their ideas with each other when needed, before splitting off to continue their individual efforts. So much information had been reviewed and passed around that by the end of the day, Clive had nearly forgotten about the strange, cracking, rolled up map in his desk. Even so, when it had grown quite late and the office grew quieter and quieter, he found himself reaching into the drawer. Gently and carefully, he unrolled the map across the top of his desk again.

    Outside, just outside of Goldenrod where the golden bricks and bright lights gave away to the thick, round trucks of shady trees, a small girl hummed tune to herself. Perched upon a sturdy branch, she allowed her legs to dangle, kicking them gently to the beat of the melody. She was almost invisible under the cover of the trees' thick foliage, her long and straight black hair blending in seamlessly. It fell in a long, straight slab to the middle of her back, and two long curtains of hair, tied in pink ribbons, hung in front of both of her tiny shoulders. She used her slender and pale fingers to hold herself in place on the branch. Her lips, pressed together as she hummed, curled into an unnerving smile. A disingenuous smile, almost inhuman, trained unnaturally rather than through genuine human emotion. The girl lifted her hood over hear head before letting herself fall backwards, vanishing into a brief flash of light.

    She reappeared in a brightly lit room, a few steps in front of a large, ornate desk. Seated on the other side was Phoenix, who bolted slightly, almost dropping something in his hand.

    "Holy... How many times have I told you to stop doing that?"

    "Fifty-four," the girl answered in a delicate, singsong voice.

    Phoenix sighed, pressing his long fingers against his deliberately tanned forehead. "You are so lucky you're useful. Where have you been anyway? Any signs of Suicune?" While waiting to hear his answer, he placed his elbow on the surface of the white and gold desk, and rested his head on his fist. With his other hand, he swung a small bell in front of him. The string was simple and thin, almost invisible to someone standing a few strides away. The bell itself was round and the color of brass, and as it swung, it made virtually no sound. "This stupid thing was supposed to summon Suicune, and here we are."

    "I have not detected any clues as to Suicune's whereabouts."

    "Well then why are you here? Keep looking." Phoenix frowned, unimpressed with the answers he had been receiving. A light flashed, and the girl, his psychic, was gone. After idly watching the bell swing back and forth a few more times, he suddenly pocketed the thing and bolted to his feet. With a flourish, he wrapped himself in a black leather jacket with red, green, white, and gold feathers that protruded from the sleeves and collar, and marched out of his office. His march took him down a long, brightly lit, hallway, and down an elevator. He descended for a long, long time, before reaching the bottom. When he arrived, he stepped briskly passed a few of the Avarice workers and scientists that had been scrambling around.

    Finally, he stopped in front of two large, rectangular structures. The large, box-shaped cages where made up of six solid walls, five of which were covered in a white panel to match the aesthetics of the Avarice labs. The six wall was made of a nearly indestructible and clear material, which allowed for safe viewing of the specimens inside. Phoenix grinned in amusement as he turned his gaze from one cage to the other, proudly observing his collection. On his right, lay Raikou, breathing heavily while resting his large cloud-shaped head on its paws. On the left was a Entei, standing tall and proud, but shaking with... something, Phoenix did not really care whether the emotion was rage, fear, or pain, as long as it was effective. "If Suicune won't answer to its bell... Maybe we can find another way to draw it out."

  4. #184
    The Ashen One
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    Just forget it for now. Clive’s reaction to the map he’d received didn’t make much sense, and confusion spilled across her face, unashamed. It wasn’t like Clive to just turn down something that could have been a clue, and besides, where was the harm in exploring? If it did turn out to be nothing, they would only lose a few hours, and at least then they’d have tried. Yulia considered arguing with him, reemphasizing the importance of exploring a possible lead, but something stopped her. Maybe Clive was dismissing this because it was a sensitive topic for him. Maybe all this was about his late father, and pursuing this would mean coming face to face with things he was afraid to find. Yulia didn’t want to push that—she didn’t know where to begin in navigating that—so despite how unsatisfied and disappointed it made her feel, she let Clive brush off their new clue.

    The way he dismissed her was also confusing, though less so. Clive had an abrasive personality, and she’d long ago gotten used to that. She knew he hadn’t meant to offend her by ordering her away from his desk, so she didn’t get offended. Instead, she nodded, mumbling something about being in the mood for a bagel, before heading back to her own desk. She considered calling for a delivery, but the bagel shop was only a few blocks away, and she thought the fresh air could do her some good.

    The streets of Goldenrod were alive with the lunch rush, and as she watched the lines of cars grow longer, Yulia was glad she wasn’t driving in this. Outside the police department, she saw a few protesters with picket signs yelling about…something. She smiled at them as she passed them by, though they didn’t seem all that happy to see her. Glancing at one of their signs, she noticed they were protesting the abolition of the police force due to its inability to stop criminals and keep people safe. Yulia thought of Avarice, of the people and Pokemon they had hurt, killed, and she darted away from the crowd, unable to swallow her guilt.

    In the bagel shop, the array of Unovan flavors met Yulia at the door as soon as she entered. She was overwhelmed by both the length of the queue and the size of the menu behind the counter. After trying for several minutes to decide on their order, she gave up and picked a few things at random, intending to let Clive pick what he liked from her selection. Finally, with their meal in hand, Yulia headed back to the police department, wary of the protesters, and made her way to Clive’s desk, where she laid the array. She only briefly peeked at his corkboard and the files on his desk before deciding he would tell her about any important findings later. When he’d chosen his food, Yulia took the bag with the rest and went back to her desk to eat her lunch and continue work as usual.

    ~~~

    A couple quiet weeks went by, and the detectives were no closer to finding out where Suicune was hiding. Frustration was an understatement, but Yulia tried to be calm about how she approached the data she did have. It wasn’t like she’d been unproductive. She had traced those stones from Avarice’s lair under Mt. Mortar to a region of Sinnoh, though the masons there denied any big purchases of such materials to Johto in recent years. With Natasha’s help, she had revisited the abandoned lab, too, but everything she’d found there had led to a dead end. She had even attended a few press conferences, mostly for damage control, since the public wanted explanations for the environmental changes caused by the legendary beasts’ disappearances, and they wanted updates on the Avarice case. It had been a tiring couple weeks, but despite that, Yulia couldn’t help but feel like they weren’t going anywhere.

    Of course, there was still the subject of that old map Clive had received. They hadn’t talked about it again, and Yulia figured Clive had either gone to investigate it himself or simply thrown it out. Even so, it lingered in the back of her mind. Could it have been the clue to saving Suicune and shutting down Team Avarice? She had tried to do her own research on Blackthorn City, or on Clive’s late father, but she still couldn’t guess at what the map was for.

    She was thinking about it on her way to work one morning. Yulia was stopped at a red light, and she happened to glance towards the side of the road, where a round, pink Pokemon was whimpering. She immediately pulled over to help the poor Hoppip, treating it with some extra potions she kept from her training sessions. The Pokemon chirped happily and floated away, but when Yulia got up to return to her car, she noticed a young girl learning against the passenger side door. She was a slight thing with a faraway gaze and a carefree attitude. Yulia looked around for her guardians for a moment before approaching. Before speaking, though, Yulia hesitated. There was something about the girl’s face that just felt…creepy.

    “Hey, sweetie,” Yulia said in a gentle voice. “Are you lost?”

    The girl looked towards Yulia, but it seemed like she was seeing through her. She giggled to herself. “You’re wasting your time, Yulia,” she sang.

    Yulia stilled. She didn’t know who this kid was or why she knew her name, and there was something terrifying about her demeanor. “I—” Yulia started, unnerved. “Pardon?”

    The girl’s smile widened. “You already know the way to the answers you seek,” she said. Her voice hardly seemed to come from her, as if she were speaking through telepathy, though her mouth was moving. “Why look for other clues when you won’t follow the ones you’ve been gifted?”

    Yulia did not know what the girl was talking about, and she hated the way her voice was raising the hair on her arms. “Okay,” she said quietly, trying to figure out what to do with the strange case. “Why don’t you come with me? I’m headed to the police station, and we can contact your parents from there. Then we can talk more about these…clues.”

    The girl shook her head, her pigtails bouncing. “Good luck,” she said, and after a dramatic curtsey, she vanished into thin air, leaving the detective with far more questions than she knew what to do with.

    ~~~

    For the rest of her drive, Yulia couldn’t think of anything but that strange girl. Maybe that whole conversation was just someone playing a trick on her, but…maybe it wasn’t. What had the kid meant by the clues Yulia had been gifted? All of the leads she’d had so far had been dead ends. Or, all except the one that was yet unexplored. The map. Could that be—?

    Yulia arrived at work only a few minutes late, and she all but ran to Clive’s desk, unable to keep the enthusiasm out of her steps. She really did think she was onto something. She couldn’t explain it—not the girl, nor her feelings about the map—but she needed Clive to know how important this was to her. When she got to his desk, she breathed his name in a rush. “That map you got the other week. I really think we should follow it.” She explained what had happened that morning, the girl who had approached her, what she’d said. “It could be nothing, and it could even be a trap, but I can’t rest until we know for sure.”
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  5. #185
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    Like most mornings, Clive arrived at the police station early in the morning. Stiff as a board, he made his way towards his desk, where he set up his things and hung up his long jacket before settling in his chair. As he waited for his computer to boot up, he idly scratched at his neck, where coarse hairs had begun to accumulate after being unshaven for too long. Once he was logged in, his arms and hands sprung to life as he got to organizing for the day.

    The last couple of weeks had been disappointing, to say the least. There had been almost no traction on the attempts to pinpoint Suicune's location. Clive could not help but believe that every moment that they stood still, they were falling further and further behind Avarice. Infuriated was the lightest way to describe how Clive had begun to feel. Truthfully, he had expected that between him, Yulia, and the few resources at their disposal, they could still manage to track down the elusive legendary Pokemon. Only now was he beginning to feel such a belief to be foolish. In fact, he had begun to feel like they were not opposing Avarice at all were acting more as historians, merely documenting the malicious group's actions only after they had already outwardly revealed them.

    The detective stirred when his partner suddenly burst into view, clambering over to his desk. She wheezed and puffed her case, and explained the events that had transpired on her way to work. At first, Clive appeared surprised, raising his eyebrows highly in anticipation of Yulia's report. He looked more serious when at the mention of the strange girl. That girl. He remembered her high pitched laughter, giggling at the expense of Sierra when Clive arrested her. She even said something about Sierra's capture being a part of her master's plan, which even now, Clive did not know what that could have meant. His jaw tightened at the mention of the map.

    The thought of climbing the rocky mountains south of Blackthorn City, seemingly at the behest of that creepy teleporting girl, raised the hairs on Clive's arms. Before, it was easy to ignore the map because there was no concrete reason to believe it had anything to do with their case. It could have been dropped off by anybody who might have forgotten it. However, to think that a psychic with some connection to Avarice left it there, flat on the desk... what was Clive supposed to make of that? He did not know what to expect to find if they followed the anomalous clue. An Avarice lab? Suicune itself? A death trap, hidden in the mountains, away from civilization?

    Slowly, as if handling a dangerous instrument, Clive retrieved the map and set it down in front of him. "This really does not seem like any better of an idea," he groaned. "Now that you've seen her yourself, you have to admit that girl seems... inhuman, right? And as far as we know, she's involved with Avarice... I'm positive it was her shoe prints we saw in your apartment, remember? But even still... we have not made any headway in almost two weeks..." He drew a long breath, his chest inflating like a balloon as he did so. His mind racked around the possibilities, the risks, the frustrations they shared, the possibility of Avarice beating them to the chase.

    "Let's go, then," he finally said, decisively. "Get your things ready and stock up on what you can carry. We'll go, but we are going with the attitude that this is a trap and taking every precaution we can. It's also a really long way, even if we fly. Blackthorn's not really known for their hospitality industry either, so if it gets dark before we're done then we're to have to rough it at the Pokemon Center."


    Several hours had passed while the pair scrambled to get their affairs in order, stockpile their things, and make the journey towards Blackthorn City. They stopped in Mahogany City, deciding that both they and their Pokemon needed to take a break. Luckily, the Pokemon Center in this city offered food and lounging, which the travelers took advantage of.

    "You know, the Gym Leader here specializes in Ice types," Clive casually mentioned to Yulia before taking a bite out of his hamburger. They any of their Pokemon not in their balls were gathered over to one side of the Pokemon center, where they could rest in the comfortable seating. Clive's Umbreon laid tiredly on one end of a sofa, letting his legs dangle over the edge while resting his head on Clive's knee. Occasionally, the Pokemon would sniff and look upwards, eying the food in Clive's hands. "Actually, we'll be passing by the Ice Path on the way to Blackthorn. You'd probably like it."

  6. #186
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    Yulia hated to admit it, but Clive was right; following the map they had randomly received was a bad idea, and this was most definitely a trap they would be walking into. Yet there was no shaking the feeling Yulia had that the map did mean something, and that that kid was trying to help somehow. Maybe she was just desperate for something considered they hadn’t found anything in so long now, but either way, when Clive reluctantly agreed, Yulia felt overwhelming relief. She went back to her desk to get her things together, already daydreaming about what they would find in Blackthorn.

    As she prepared for their trip, something Clive had said clung to her mind. The psychic hadn’t even seemed human. Yulia remembered the girl, her eerie smile, or the way her voice had an unnerving, almost magical quality to it. If she wasn’t human, then what was she? She seemed too human-like to be a transforming Pokemon using telepathy. Could she have been a ghost? And why was she following Yulia and Clive on this case? The more Yulia thought about it, the more questions she came up with. Realizing she could answer none of them, she gave up on that lead for now and focused her attention instead on following the map.

    When it did come time to go, the two regrouped and set off for their long trip westward. Yulia didn’t know what to expect when they got to Blackthorn City, but while they made their way there, she had plenty of time to research it. She paged through different articles about tourism and Five Places to Visit Before You Leave Blackthorn before her gaze finally fell from her phone, and she looked through the window instead. Yulia was no stranger to traveling—she was from an entirely different region, after all—but as she took in just how big Johto was, and as she thought about how much wider the world was than she’d ever seen, she wondered if she would ever get the chance to travel it for fun instead of for work. When all this was over… If all this ended, and if she was still alive, and not behind bars, then she would think of the places she could go.

    After so long on the road, their break in Mahogany Town was a welcome respite. Yulia relished the chance to stretch her legs and finally use a bathroom. When her stomach started howling, she realized she had skipped lunch, so even the greasy chicken sandwich she shoved into her mouth tasted divine. All her Pokemon enjoyed the berry salad she’d chosen for them too. She had had some doubts about taking a break, but now that she was relaxing, she was thankful Clive had suggested it.

    They got to talking some more. “Pryce, right?” she said in response to his mentioning the gym leader. “I would like to face him someday. Zita would appreciate a level playing field.” Her Beartic was without peer, and Yulia had no doubts she would be able to defeat other ice-type Pokemon without difficulty. She glanced at him over her chicken sandwich. “You know, not everyone from Snowbelle likes the ice and cold. Most of us hate it, actually, since we know how miserable it can get. But…” She smiled. “I do like the cold. The Ice Path seems like a fun tourist attraction, and I’d love to visit it proper, and see what the puzzles are like, when we have more time.”

    Not wanting to spend too much of their day resting, the detectives finished their meals, recalled their Pokemon, and started off again. They passed through Route 44 without event, and when they saw the Ice Path just outside Blackthorn, Yulia edged closer to the window to get a better look. There were several tourists gathered out front in front of a person with a clipboard, and Yulia longed to join their tour group. “You grew up near this, right?” she asked. “Did you ever make it all the way to the bottom? I hear they have prizes for those brave enough to tackle the cold and clear all the puzzles. Sounds intimidating, but also like a great thing to do with friends.” She sighed contentedly. “We’ll have to come back here,” she said. “I’d like to try the puzzles, and who better to try them with than someone familiar with how they work, right?”

    Past the Ice Path, Blackthorn City finally came into view. Yulia was excited to see this new place, and she was especially excited to finally explore that map that had been nagging at her all this time. Now all they had to do was not get themselves kidnapped or killed. With any luck, they would find the answers they’d come all this way for. Despite how bizarre this whole situation was, Yulia was remaining hopeful that they would find something.
    Thanks to Craze for the beautiful Bravely set!

    ~Recruitment Thread~
    Spoiler: Ashen's Personal Hall of Fame 

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