"Don't wander off too far!"
It was with a worried gaze that I saw Chill off, that carefree airheaded lapras of mine happily swimming away from the ship we are on with songful cries and Fuzzy perched on her head. Even when we are already sailing at top speed, our journey to Unova via the sea would take at least a month and my pokemon cannot be cooped up with me on the ship the entire time or they might go stir crazy, they need their exercise.
Our previous trip from Hoenn to Indigo was alright, because we made frequent pit stops at many nameless islands along the way and I could let them out then. However, I was informed that there are not many pit stops for the sea journey from Indigo to Unova and I cannot use the same arrangements for my pokemon. For the sake of their well-being, I had to send a few of my pokemon back home, mainly those who are not suited for a long journey through the sea. Kratos, Flamel, Ness, and Hulk are the members of my team who I had to send back home through the PC transfer system before boarding the ship because I cannot possibly let them out of their pokeballs and wander around the ship, or have them stay near the ship like what Chill or Toothless can do with their flight or swimming capabilities.
'Rena, be a dear and help keep an eye on their locations.'
'Chill will be fine with Fuzzy around. Playful they may be, but they are aware of the dangers the sea can hold. I will remind them to stay close if I sense them wandering too far off.'
I scratched Rena lightly behind her ears as I returned back to laying down on the sunchair on the deck of the ship and took out another book that Lucian had recommended before we parted ways. On a long and boring ship journey like this, finding ways to kill boredom is an art form on its own. Everyone has their method of coping with boredom on a long ship journey and mine tend to be a little more peaceful than most.
It's early morning and the sun's out today, but the sun rays are gentle and warm enough for me to want to stay around on deck. I have a thermos flask filled with warm tea on the table next to me and a beach umbrella overhead, just the perfect setting and mood to read a book on a lazy morning.
"Not so close, Toothless, you might just accidentally set my book on fire," I reminded Toothless when he got a little too curious and poked his snout just a little too close to the book I am reading. Rena slapped her tail on his snout as another reminder and glared at Toothless, causing Toothless to glare back at her with an equally annoyed stare.
"I thought you wanted to go flying?" I scratched my adorable fire breathing lizard underneath his jaw as he snorted, a small puff of ash blowing out of his nostrils as he did so. In the end, Toothless decided to curl up and lay down beside me on the deck to sunbathe, snoozing away under the warm rays of the sun with Lily swaying just right beside him as she too, delightfully soaked up the sunlight. Snap prefers to stretch his wings, already flying above the ship in circles. He might choose to sometimes fly above the clouds for a short while before diving back down within my sights to let me know that he is sticking close enough to us.
Kel had decided to somehow scale the walls and is now standing at the top of the ship to enjoy the view. I'm not afraid of her being up to any form of mischief because Kel tends to keep to herself and has never caused any problems for me. Bigblue had decided to stay in his pokeball instead of going for a swim while the smaller members of my pokemon are staying near me. Even the ever vigilant Archer seems relaxed and is sitting down on the floor with his back against the wall, which is a rare sight because he always seems so high strung for no apparent reason.
I heard the youngest pokemon on my team stumble and turned my head in her direction. As I thought, it will take a while for her to get used to her new body.
"Take it easy, Joy, it takes a while to adjust to your new form. Just relax for now."
With Shannon's help, Joy had just managed to achieve evolution yesterday. While there is not much of a difference between the anatomy of a cleffa and those of a clefairy beyond the increase in size, it will still take Joy a certain amount of time for her to get used to her larger and clunkier movements. She's big enough now, I could no longer lift her up without exerting effort. Shannon had done a quick check on her after Joy's evolution and said that there should be no unwanted complications from the sudden evolution, but that is something that we can only tell after we continue to observe Joy for a few more days.
Joy had been trying her best to adjust to her new form as fast as she could, but I would prefer if she could take it easy. Rena had walked up to her and I know she is chastising Joy for her impatience with how she is flicking her tail at Joy's head in a reprimanding manner.
I turned my attention back to my book. With Rena around to help look out for the more problematic members of my team, I can afford to relax a little.
I lost track of time for a short while as I immersed myself in my new book. It wasn't until I heard footsteps that I lifted my head to see who had decided to make an appearance on the deck as well. I spotted Looker walking up to the deck with a tired yawn as he stretched his arms, now dressed in a casual plain white tee and bermuda shorts instead of the usual detective-ish outfit that I see him in. Surprisingly enough, I see his sableye, Sparkles, walking beside him this time. I usually don't see Sparkles around at all, or any of Looker's pokemon for that matter.
I see Sparkles tugging at Looker's shirt to catch his attention before pointing my way. I gave them both a brief smile and a wave as a greeting and watched as they walked up to me.
"Good morning. I wasn't expecting you to be up this early, pretty sure that everyone else is still asleep."
"I am a light sleeper when I'm on a ship," I explained. "Besides, the weather's pretty nice today, so I decided to get myself some sun before the sunlight becomes harsher later on in the day. You wake up pretty early yourself. What's the time now? Seven thirty?"
"Seven forty if we want to be a little more exact. Have you had breakfast?" After seeing me shaking my head, Looker spoke, "Then I would get breakfast for us both and also for our pokemon, if you don't mind. The dining room should have the breakfast ready by now."
"There's no need for the trouble, I can get breakfast for-"
"It's hardly any trouble," Looker dismissed my concerns before his shadow consumed both him and Sparkles, leaving me to stare at an empty space with my mouth wide open. They returned about ten minutes later with lots of food in tow, most of it for our pokemon.
"They have these today," Looker said as he placed a cup of warm milk and a plate filled with a small slice of apple strudel and some tarts on the table beside mine. His breakfast consists of a bowl of steamed rice, grilled fish, and a bowl of miso soup, the standard breakfast which most Indigo citizens prefer. He probably really wasn't lying when he said that he was from Indigo.
I took another look at my plate. I'm actually surprised that he actually managed to pick out the kind of food I would prefer to eat for breakfast, because I do have a preference for sweet stuff in the morning and my breakfast would always go along with a cup of warm milk if possible.
Looker seemed to notice the look on my face for he addressed it right after.
"If I couldn't be at least this observant, I should probably tender my resignation. Observing the preferences of the people around me is something I do, sometimes even without me realising it. I knew you prefer to eat something sweet in the morning by the third breakfast we had together and you always get yourself a cup of warm milk if there is such an option."
"It's still very impressive," I admitted. "At least, I don't have that kind of habit or skill."
"It's something that is either trained into you or you forced yourself to do so. It is a good thing to not have been raised in such an environment," Looker said as my attention was suddenly drawn to the other pokemon that followed behind Looker, some of them which I had never seen until now. They are helping him with carrying the food over that is meant for our pokemon.
"They are mine," Looker affirmed. "As you can see, Sparkles, Missy, Cofagrigus, Gengar, Golurk, Toxicroak, Chandelure, and Mr Mime. This is my team."
Looker's pokemon gave their greeting as my pokemon and I did the same. Even Toothless had perked his head up upon sensing their arrival and Kel had silently leapt down from her spot to join us, observing Looker's pokemon with a wary gaze. I patted Kel on the head to get her to relax, signalling to her that we are within friendly company.
Soon, our pokemon and us are having breakfast on the deck. Looker and I are sitting across the small table while our pokemon sat down on the floor around us and gorged on their meals. There is a certified pokemon chef on board so the meals here are a lot nicer than what we could usually find on normal ships. Fuzzy and Chill had returned by now although it seems that Chill had hunted for her own breakfast during her swim because she isn't as hungry. Fuzzy, however, had snatched one of my tarts off my plate and proceeded to messily gnaw through it, sending crumbs flying about everywhere.
"You got cream all over your face now." I chided Fuzzy as I took a serviette and wiped the cream off Fuzzy's face. Rena slapped Fuzzy on the back of his head with her front paw and glared at him for his mischief, not that Fuzzy ever paid it any mind.
"Fuzzy can have this."
Looker tossed a cookie at Fuzzy's direction, which the little troublemaker immediately leapt to catch in midair before flying off to enjoy his meal. I raised an eyebrow at Looker, a little surprised that he managed to get Fuzzy to stop his mischiefs with just a simple cookie.
"Something on my face?"
"No, just surprised," I popped another tart into my mouth, feeling the crisp and sweetness permeating my mouth as I observed Looker's pokemon. Looker's pokemon don't need much food. To be more exact, ghosts do not rely much on physical sustenance to sustain themselves. In fact, the only ghost on Looker's team that is actively eating is Looker's gengar, who looks to be having some sort of eating contest with Wacky.
Come to think about it, I never got to ask him about the details of what happened that day.
"How did you defeat Archer?"
"Come on now. We both specialise in ghosts, Vel, and we know that they have some of the best skills available to equalise the playing grounds of any battle no matter how strong the opponent may be. Think about it, what is one move whose true effects can only be triggered by ghosts?"
"... Curse. You used Curse," I deduced after taking a few seconds to think about the question he posed but quickly recalled how useless Curse was in the face of truly powerful monsters, as was the case in my gym battle against Juan and also when I battled Archer.
"But it couldn't be easy for Curse to inflict substantial damage against pokemon of Archer's calibre. I tried it with Dolly on several occasions, but it didn't work out. It only ever worked on opponents who are on a similar or lower level than us."
"There are tricks that I could teach you but ultimately, experience is the best teacher when it comes to these things," Looker explained. "Curse is a move that encourages the user to endanger their lives to drag their enemies down with them and in this day and age, not many will be able to find a reason to justify subjecting their pokemon to commit into learning something so life-threatening, which is the main reason why it is not commonly used among trainers now. Moves like these are more commonly seen in periods of conflict and the increase in popularity in usage of such a move never meant good news to any region."
"How do you train ghosts to endanger their lives while ensuring a safe training environment?" I probed further, realising that it is not everyday that I have the opportunity to drill down into the details of pokemon moves that not many will choose to master. It is also rare to meet a Ghost Specialist who is able to use this move to easily bring down an Elite Four level trainer and to be able to consult him on such matters.
"You can't," Looker replied honestly and upon seeing that I was about to ask another question, raised a hand to have me take a pause. "Let me just ask you a question that I was asked in my youth. What does it mean to be a Specialist? To lead a team of pokemon who all share a common typing? No, it's obviously more than just that. What do you need to do to be considered as a pro, a bona fide specialist of a certain typing, just like the Pillars around the world today? I couldn't answer that question back then and even when I was given the answer I couldn't figure it out until it was too late. To be a Specialist is to embody everything that your specialty represents. In our case, it's ghosts, and I'm sure you already have a very deep understanding about them. Their characteristics, their natures, their habits, everything. You already have all the answers in the palm of your hand, Vel, especially after learning under Agatha. What are ghosts to you? Excluding the few anomalies, what are their prominent characteristics that make them ghost types?"
"They are vicious, but usually stay out of the way of others unless provoked and are often content in being left alone. They are vengeful, but only if you did something to offend them. They love chaos and abhor stagnation and it can be expressed in many ways, from the relatively harmless pranks to the more destructive bloodbaths that some might revel in. They are patient because of their immortality but also have a low disregard for their own lives and safety, because they are often overconfident in their inability to die unless they are facing opposing dark or ghost types."
"You have your answer. To be a Specialist is to embody the very same characteristics as the pokemon type you specialise in, because this is how you truly get to know and understand them on a deeper level and therefore, having the means to bring out their true potential. Now, going back to your previous question, how do you train ghosts to endanger their lives while ensuring a safe training environment? I told you that you can't but after our discussion on what it means to be a Specialist, do you understand why now?"
"Curse is a move whose proficiency can only be improved under life or death circumstances, there's no other explanation," I gulped at the implications that I finally realised under Looker's guidance, in which he confirmed with a silent nod.
"Ghosts thrive under chaos even if it means endangering their very own lives. I wholeheartedly agree with Agatha that you will make a very splendid Ghost Specialist, Vel, if you ever choose to pursue this path, and could possibly have what it takes to clinch the title of Ghost Master like Agatha did. This is not just about your ability to easily befriend them, which I agree is a great boon, but is also about your personality and mindset."
"I don't see myself as a chaotic person."
Looker let out a chuckle.
"Very few people can look and assess themselves objectively, so I'm not surprised that you couldn't see it. Yes, I have seen the meticulous and careful side of you. You can be patient when the situation calls for it. You have the ability to plan things out, to plan for contingencies and even plan for further contingencies in case the original contingencies don't work out, but think back. Whenever your plans are thoroughly screwed you have the tendency to become reckless, just like the ghosts you command. You have no qualms going through actions that are high risk in nature as long as it justifies the high rewards you will get if you succeed and sometimes, you just seem to disregard your own safety as long as you get the job done. It's not a healthy mindset to possess and if I may be so bold as to make a guess, that may be because you have long since accepted the fact that you will most likely die young due to your illness and thus, death does not scare you as much as it should. I have seen viciousness within you that I had never ever seen in another child your age, not even in children like Tate and Liza who are the most similar to you in all aspects, and your vicious side is especially pronounced when things happen before your eyes which you absolutely cannot stand for."
There's something within Looker's words that simply made me snap.
"If you are implying that I am mental-"
"It's not that. Ask yourself, in your participation in the war at Lilycove and Battle Frontier, did you truly have no choice but to stay and fight? Did you really have to stay? No, you know for a fact that you could have escaped and run away at the very beginning, but you chose to stay despite not realising you had made that choice. Your subconscious which is the representation of your true self kept convincing yourself that you had no choice but to stay. In both invasions you experienced, you chose to stay and return fire with as much viciousness you can pay back with because you couldn't accept those acts being committed in front of your eyes when you could have done something, because the commitment of those acts provoked something within you that you can never stand for. The interpol, why did you demand to join in the first place? No matter how prodigious, does a thirteen going to fourteen year old girl really have a place in such an organisation? Did you really have no choice in the issue? Was your family's influence really not enough to grant you the protection from being sucked into this mess? No, you chose to join because deep down, you know you want to. Something about the prophecy provoked something within you that maybe even you don't understand yourself, but you decided to take action nevertheless. Lucas Foster provoked you with how he was forcing you to join their ranks, becoming an insurmountable obstacle to your dream of traveling the world, and what did you do to get your payback? Pushing for the creation of the interpol, pushing for improved and closer relations between regions, be it economically or otherwise; you forced him and his cabinet of ministers to be actively involved with the other regions to get them off your skin, dragging them down with you in the process because if you have to be forced to save the world to escape their intervention, they better not be twiddling their thumbs and relax within the comfort of their office while you are doing all the work. I don't mean it in a negative light, but you are a vengeful person in a twisted sort of way, Vel. Tell me, all of that, does that not sound like the behaviour of the ghosts you befriended? Do you not exhibit each and every characteristic that these mysterious creatures possess? Going by that line of thought, wouldn't that make you an exceptionally suitable Ghost Specialist?"
For some reason, I couldn't answer. I couldn't form any words to argue otherwise because somehow, he seemed to see through everything about me even if he wasn't there to see me at my worst. How I made my first kill at Lilycove, how the exposure to the evils of the world had forced me to accept mass slaughter as an acceptable means to protect who and what I can when I was trying to protect the Battle Frontier alongside my father and brother, and then the desensitisation to all the killing and gore during what had gone down recently in Johto. In all three incidents, be it twofold, tenfold or a hundredfold, I always managed to make the attackers pay, one way or another. The dissolution of Team Magma and Aqua, followed by their extermination, and then how I simply let Kratos, a tyranitar, one of the most vicious and feared species of pokemon to ever walk this planet, to brutally rampage across the enemy's lines at Goldenrod in his mega evolved state. Whenever I'm hurt or I come across something that I cannot stand for, I would somehow make the instigators pay, directly or indirectly. I was hurt and nearly died at the hands of a terrorist organisation, catching the eyes of the President of my region that wants to exploit my abilities, and what was the ultimate outcome from that? I made him advocate for the creation of the interpol and indirectly forced him to do a lot of work to make it happen. If it wasn't for me, the interpol wouldn't exist, and it all happened because deep down, I was so angry that he threw such a big wrench in my dream to travel the world and I was petty enough to find a way for him to stop bothering me in the most troublesome way possible. How did I do that? I presented him with an even bigger issue he couldn't ignore: to keep him busy, to stop the prophecy through the power of friendship between all regions and that is something that will keep him very very busy for at least the next few years, maybe even a decade.
There had always been an ugly viciousness within me that I am not willing to face, and it took someone who I only just started to get to know to point it out for me.
"You… are very scary, Looker. Very, very, scary," I cannot help but tell him and I'm sure that I am not imagining the cold sweat that is forming on my forehead. I can sense Rena's distress through our link. She is an empath, she is extremely sensitive to any change in my emotional state. She had already subtly placed herself between me and Looker from where she is sitting alertly on my lap, always ready to defend me with her life should she deem Looker a threat to my well-being.
Looker gave a resigned sigh, that exasperated smile never quite leaving his face.
"I'm sorry if that is the impression I impressed upon you but like I had told you that day, I will always be your ally, Vel, always. Isn't that right, Missy?"
I was startled when something suddenly hooted into my ear, making me jump in my seat. I spun around, spotting Looker's mismagius howling in laughter at the little prank it managed to pull on me, somehow eluding our senses even when Rena was on full alert.
"On a more serious note, I sincerely apologise if I made you uncomfortable, but I also truly felt that it is more beneficial if you could face the truth and the sooner, the better," Looker apologised with a deep bow, his actions taking me by surprise. "Everybody has their own masks to wear, me included, and nobody likes it when their carefully crafted masks are torn down and their true selves are laid bare for anyone else to see, I understand that. But if you truly want to go far as a trainer, this is something that you have to face and understand at your earliest convenience, that who you are as a person will affect the kind of trainer you will be and also the specialisation that you are naturally suited for. Everything that I said earlier, they were done with the intention for you to realise just how compatible you are with ghosts. Those are my honest thoughts."
"How do you know so much about me? I don't think I'm really that easy to read."
"No, you are not," Looker shook his head. "You are, in fact, rather mysterious, and the more I observe you I only receive more questions than answers. You don't act your age and no matter how much I dig into your past I never found a possible answer. You display remarkable maturity from a young age, but what brought that about? You are born into a loving family that would do anything to make you happy, you are their precious little daughter and sister and your family never hesitated to hold Hoenn's economy hostage the moment President Foster tried to make a move on you. In Hoenn, your family is the closest to what could be considered royalty or a noble in the present time. You were born with everything everyone else can only hope for but never have. You could live your life in luxury from the moment you were born and will never need to lift a single finger to get anything you want. When born into such a family, just what forced you to mature as you did? Are you a genius, and does that account for that maturity? No, you are smart but not to the point of being a genius, people like Mary, Shannon, and Nova surpass you by far in that department. Volkner too, seeing how he made solar panel bridges a reality to solve his city's energy needs. It's a habit from work for me to do profiling for everyone I meet, Vel, but I still am unable to understand why you turned out the way you did. You are very hard to read, but that doesn't mean that your motivations are difficult to understand."
"Being hard to read… The irony of hearing this is not lost on me, especially when it's you who are saying those words."
"I accept that, and I know that it will be hard for me to earn your trust. You are entitled to not trust me on everything else, but do trust me that I never meant, or will ever mean you any harm. If my words can't be trusted, what about Rena's?"
"What does this have to do with her?"
"You should know that espeons are extremely sought after, not just because of their rarity that stems from the difficulty of getting an eevee to grow into this particular evolutionary form, but also because they are an empath type psychic whose loyalty to their trainers are absolute. Not only that, their species' abilities in this field are extremely reliable, capable of sensing intentions from everyone around them to the point of achieving pseudo-prediction if this aspect of their abilities are trained well, making them the perfect bodyguard and protector for any trainer. One week, one year, ten years, Rena can monitor my intentions for as long as she likes and I can guarantee you that she will never find me harbouring any malicious intentions when it concerns you, not even once."
I glanced back down at Rena, who looked back at me as the jewel on her head sparkled for a brief moment.
'It's true. Ever since we met him his intentions about you were never malicious in any way or form, not even on that day when you had a relapse in the forest.'
I stared at Looker in silence, futilely trying to take a glimpse of something that I may have missed about him only to fail. In the end, I decided to simply ask.
"This is the second time I heard you saying that you will always be my ally. Can I ask why?"
"You are always allowed to ask, but I always have the right to keep my silence," Looker smiled knowingly as he resumed his meal. "You are allowed to ask other questions, preferably those that I do not have to keep a secret from you. Contrary to what you may think, I do not enjoy keeping secrets either."
Recognising that he simply wants to steer our topic of conversation to areas where I can be comfortable with, I decided to take up his suggestion. There was a brief moment of silence as I mulled over what could possibly be considered a question that he can answer.
"What made you decide to be a Ghost Specialist?" I asked as Looker shoved another mouthful of rice into his mouth with his chopsticks. Looker chewed on his food for a few seconds, seemingly in deep thought before making his reply.
"It… How should I put it? It was my way out at that time. Believe it or not, I wasn't always a Ghost Specialist. I started out as a Poison Specialist."
That piece of news was a small surprise. I glanced at Looker's toxicroak, then back at him. It's not unheard of for trainers to decide to switch specialisations halfway into their career, but I never thought that Looker would be one of them.
"There were a multitude of reasons, but if I had to choose a driving factor for my decision back then, it was because of my family. My family was known for their expertise with poisons. Every single poison type that you could possibly find in Indigo, we know how to deal with them, including how to extract their poison for our own use. I was born into a big family and my elder sister was the best in our family. I looked up to her a lot. She was just so perfect. Growing up in such an environment made me want to become a Poison Specialist as well, just like her."
"Then what changed?" I asked carefully, not sure if this is a personal matter for Looker but at the same time, I am very curious as well.
"I just couldn't make it no matter how hard I tried," Looker said as he continued to poke around his meal with his chopsticks. "My family wasn't harmonious by any means, in fact I would even say that my relationship with some of my siblings was rather cordial at best and cutthroat at worst. Many of them mocked me for my inability to be a decent Poison Specialist like they are. My mother passed away when I was very young and so the only person who really cared and raised me was my sister, which I told you about earlier. She told me many times that I am really not suited for our family's specialty but being the stubborn boy that I was, I didn't listen."
Looker drank a spoonful of his miso soup before continuing.
"Things changed when my sister got to acquaint herself with a Ghost Specialist, the person who would later on mentor and guide me on the road which I am travelling on now. She was the one who saw my potential that nobody else saw and took me in as her apprentice, that was how I became a Ghost Specialist. Everything that I am now, it is because of her."
"She must be very skilled."
"She is," Looker agreed with a faint smile as he stared at his meal for a few seconds before getting back to it. My mind quickly searched for the names of any notable Ghost Specialists that might fit the description of Looker's mentor but I came up with a blank, which is weird considering that I had came across a number of respectable names when helping Agatha with the textbook project and yet none of them seems to fit the bill. A female Ghost Specialist that has to be from Indigo that is also older than Looker... only Agatha seemed to match the description but I know that the person cannot be Agatha.
"What is your teacher's name, if you don't mind me asking?"
"That…" Looker paused in his meal, a faraway look in his eyes as he stared at the bowl of rice in front of him before shaking his head. "It's no use. She just abruptly left one day. I haven't seen her in a long time."
"Didn't leave any clues behind for me to track either, she can be cruel like that," Looker snorted but I can sense the fondness he has for her in the tone of his voice. "I'm still looking for her to this date without much luck, but I'm sure that I will find her one day. I know that I'm getting close."
"How can someone disappear off the face of the earth like that and manage to hide themselves from you?" I cannot help but question because I am aware of Looker's capabilities. Given his skills and clout within the PWL, I find it hard to believe that anyone could hide from Looker in the first place, much less for such a long time.
"You will soon realise in our line of work that there are many strange things and people in this world, people with unexplainable abilities and skills that baffle even the brightest minds but at the same time so low profile that hardly anybody knows about them. My mentor is one of those. Her ghosts have the ability to pop up anywhere she wants to go as long as it is within a certain range, and mind you, that "range" of hers is absurdly large."
"The longest distance I remembered was about the distance from one end of a city to another, and I believe that was her ghosts doing so without trying. She could easily be in one city at a moment and suddenly be in another city the next. It's an infuriating ability if you are the one trying to get a lock on her."
"That sounds like a really cool ability to have." I hummed in thought as I looked at Dolly, who is also looking back at me with an equally excited gleam in her eyes. Whatever Looker's mentor did was probably Shadow Sneak or something similar, and if we could somehow recreate her ghosts' proficiency in that move to be able to quickly move from one city to another in mere seconds…
Oh boy, now I'm excited as well.
"Whatever you are thinking about, you might want to reconsider," Looker brought us back to reality the moment he spotted the wordless exchange I had with Dolly. "I had the same thoughts as you did too when I first learned of it, but being able to do what she was able to do takes years, if not decades of practice. Ghosts can be patient, but that patience does not usually extend to repeatedly practicing a single move for what could take decades to master."
Dolly let out an agitated chitter, sounding offended at the remark as she immediately dove off with a Shadow Sneak and disappeared from view.
"Thanks to you, Dolly now has the drive to practice Shadow Sneak all day. She can be strangely stubborn when it comes to certain things," I remarked, knowing Dolly's temperament and also how she has no need to rest or sleep thanks to her Insomnia ability. Her unique ghost physiology combined with her Insomnia ability means that she can really keep practicing a single move 24/7 if she really wants to, the only thing that is holding her back is her mindset.
"I… will look forward to news of her success then," Looker finished lamely as he stared at where Dolly was just a few seconds ago.
"She probably will succeed. Dolly's a little bored out of her mind on this ship so having something to work on might be beneficial for her instead," I mused as I lazily rested my chin on the palm of my hand. "Imagine the kind of pranks that she can pull if she could be at one end of a city at one moment and suddenly reappear at another end the next. We might have just created a monster and I am actually looking forward to it."
"Ghosts," Looker said with an exasperated shake of his head as the ghosts around us openly laughed at his remark.
I stayed on the deck to continue reading my book after the pleasant breakfast I had with Looker, who had left after staying to chat for a short while. I returned back to my room when the heat from the sun was about to get hotter and only came out when it was time for lunch. I bumped into Elesa, Skye, Shannon, Nova, Akamu, and Mary at the cafeteria when I arrived. Basically, almost the entire squad.
Somehow, our lunch turned into a fashion lesson for the girls in Elesa's room right after, with Elesa excitedly sharing tips on how to groom ourselves from head to toe. She had manicured Nova's nails, gave Skye a few tips on how to make better use of her usual clothes to dress and present herself (I never knew that there were so many ways a girl could wear a jacket), gave Shannon a complete makeover that left everyone's jaws hanging, Elesa included. Apparently, Shannon has the makings of a real beauty if she actually bothered to make an effort to dress herself and wear contact lenses instead of the big bulky glasses which she usually wore on her face. Elesa didn't have much to comment about Mary because Mary is a certified natural beauty and excluding Elesa, she has a better fashion sense than all of us combined. She and Nova did have fun trying out the clothes in Elesa's wardrobe though.
Then, it came to the moment that I have been dreading.
"It's your turn, Vel!"
Elesa's chirp was a little too happy for my tastes. Seeing the excited gleam in everyone's eyes isn't helping things either.
"I'm fine as it is," I declared as I took a few subtle steps backwards, trying my best to spot a way to escape the impending disaster.
"We had our turn, now it's yours," Skye said with a sharkish grin, now wearing a set of Elesa's sportswear that the Unovan model had suggested to Skye to try out. I have to admit that Elesa's eye for fashion is uncannily sharp. Skye is already very outgoing and sporty to begin with, but she looks even more so after wearing the combination of clothes Elesa suggested she should try out.
"Yeah, this is actually fun," Nova added with a grin all too similar to Skye's. I took another few steps backwards, only to bump into Mary who had somehow moved to stand behind me and her hands now holding onto my shoulders.
"Will you guys let me go if I beg?"
"Nope!" Mary chirped back as she pushed me to sit down by the side of Elesa's bed. I resigned myself to my fate as the women in the room discussed what I would look best in, comparing various articles of clothes against my body as I sat there like a motionless doll. It wasn't long before they stripped me until I'm left with nothing but my undergarments and had me try out the clothes that they had picked out for me. From casual, to sporty, minimalistic, vintage, traditional, cute, punk, hip hop, artsy, grunge… I lost count on how many kinds of fashion styles there are after that. All I remembered was being their barbie doll for the day as they dressed me up in various styles before stripping me down and then repeating the entire process for hours on end.
"Are we finally done?" I asked for what seems to be the umpteenth time that day, now dressed in a feminie looking floral dress with slightly ruffled trims and puffy sleeves, which is ridiculous because floral and me never mix but somehow Elesa made it work. I am a little on the small side and considering that Elesa is an adult while my body is still that of a child, she had to fold some of her clothes or manually alter them somehow through various methods for her endless array of clothes to fit me. Seriously, just how many articles of clothings does she bring along for a single trip?
"How can anyone look good in everything?" Shannon sighed in envy, her glasses now back on her face although she is still wearing the dress that Elesa had her wear and in the hairdo Mary had done her hair up in. The rest of the women are circling around me and scrutinising every part of my body and attire and I just obediently sit at my spot like the little doll that I am, understanding that the quickest way out of this is to simply cooperate.
"If you were a few years older, I would have done everything to convince you to join my agency as a model. It's rare for anyone to be able to look good in almost every style," Elesa said with a hand to her chin, her sharp eyes still scrutinising every detail of me from head to toe.
Skye suddenly sported a wicked smile on her face as she made another suggestion.
"We haven't made her try sexy."
"She's only thirteen…" Mary trailed off as she continued to observe me but I can see that the figurative gears in her mind are turning as though she is starting to agree with Skye's suggestion. I glared at Skye, who shot me an unrepentant grin and I just knew that she is doing this to mess with me.
"But she already has the "goods" to pull it off." Elesa used her hands to gesture in a pushing up motion in front of her chest. "And to be sexy doesn't necessarily mean having big boobs, although it does help… Alright, you made me curious. Now I really want to see Vel in a sexy look."
"I will get Dolly to curse all of you," I tried my best to appear threatening but seeing how they are making their advances, I didn't succeed.
"What's wrong with trying things out? It's only us girls here and it's not like we are taking any pictures. There's no need to be so shy," Elesa gave me a light slap on the back and passed a few articles of clothes into my hands. "Go, Vel! Amaze us with your sexiness!"
I looked at the clothes in my hands, then back at them.
"I swear, if any of you took any pictures of me wearing these…"
"We swear, fingers crossed," Skye held her fingers up in a cross in what is supposed to be a solemn manner. It doesn't reassure me in the slightest.
I cannot help but frown a little when I am finally done with wearing the new outfit the ladies had picked out for me, making several small adjustments so that Elesa's clothes could fit my small frame without just slipping right off. I admit that it does bring out the sexiness, as much as a thirteen year old could in any case, but I just felt a little exposed with how much skin this is showing.
"The cut is a little too low, and I don't like the bareback design. Skirt's a little short too."
I am now wearing a baby blue crop top paired with a white mini skirt. The colour scheme does bring out the energy a teenager my age should be having, the bare design and the low cut at the front does bring out the theme of "sexiness" that the girls wanted me to try out without being overly provocative, but all I wanted to do now is to change back into my original clothing.
"This is perfect," Elesa rubbed her palms together in glee. "I knew this colour scheme would suit you!"
"Now I really want to take a picture." Skye thought aloud. "Seriously, Vel, you look good in this. Just think of how many heads you would turn the moment you walk down the street."
"It's too revealing," I frowned. I could probably still accept exposing this much skin if this is swimwear, but walking down the streets like this just felt like it is too much for me to handle. It just feels different.
"If this is her now, imagine when she finally reaches legal age."
"Nova, you are not helping."
"I'm simply speaking the truth. You sure you don't want to take a picture? I think it would look great as a profile pic, you are totally slaying it."
My answer to all of their suggestions was a simple one word reply.
Character and pokemon list:
Velda Vera, Age: 13, Female, Pokemon Trainer, Member of the International Police
Pokemon on hand:
1) Rapidash (Flamel), male
2) Swampert (Bigblue), male
3) Banette (Dolly), female
4) Flygon (Snap), male
5) Absol (Kelsa), female
6) Charizard (Toothless), male
7) Cradily (Lily), female
8) Espeon (Rena), female
9) Pachirisu (Fuzzy), male
10) Tyranitar (Kratos), male
11) Clefairy (Joy), female
12) Nidoqueen (Ness), female
13) Pangoro (Hulk), male
14) Porygon-Z (Jarvis), genderless
15) Scizor (Archer), male
16) Lapras (Chill), female
17) Gengar (Wacky), male