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We Must Survive, To Earn Payback

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“What do you think Pikachu?  Would I look decent in this if I wore it in a showcase?”  Serena and Pikachu were leisurely walking through Lumiose; enjoying the nice weather until Serena spotted a new clothing store on their path.  Asking Pikachu if he was okay with her trying on dresses for a bit, Pikachu smiled and nodded his head at her request.  That is where for the next hour, Serena tried on a handful of clothes and garments to see if any interested her down the line.

Looking in her direction, Pikachu put a paw on his chin for a minute before saying, “Pika”; with a thumbs up at Serena.  Serena giggled at Pikachu for his approving her choice in fashion before decided it was time for them to keep moving again.  With the electric mouse on her shoulder, Serena thanked the staff for their help, and walked back out into the semi-congested sidewalk the shop was located on.  Looking around them, both Serena and Pikachu could not help but smile to themselves at all the commotion around them as they moved.

 Just about a month ago, the citizens were starting reconstruction on the city, and now save for the airport which will open in a few days, everything was up and running again.  It was such a great feeling to see all the people and pokemon moving along their daily lives after the Kalos Crisis.  Serena knew there were some people and pokemon that had lingering health issues, both physically and mentally after what happened before, but if they did, that did not stop them from continuing living life to the fullest.  Even couples Serena and Pikachu saw were enjoying some of the shops and stands that were open right now.  Seeing the lovebirds together though made Serena’s smile dropped into a more somber tone before walking with the small group of traffic on the side walk.

Her body moving on its own, Serena’s mind jumped back to the conversation she had with Clemont the morning before.  “You know how Ash is.  Once he has his mind set on something, it’s hard to change it.  Even if you had convinced him to let you go with him, Ash would of ran off on his own with Greninja regardless.  Plus, by your logic, we would have to blame Pikachu too since he wanted to go with Ash as well.”  She had wanted to believe that Ash would not ditch her if she tagged along with him and Greninja that day, but knowing him, Ash would have gone off on his own when she was not looking.   It made her both sad and frustrated when she thought about it. 

Here she was: seventeen-years-old, a year older now after she left her home in Vaniville to get away from her mother who wanted to push her into competitive Rhyhorn Racing and follow the boy, Ash, that helped her become more self-confident and independent.  Only now, she has become somewhat dependent on Ash because of her school girl crush on him and has no way to find him and save him from whatever took him to begin with.  Even though everyone believes her and Pikachu are not to blame, Serena still can not but feel helpless about everything that has happened.  She just wishes she could have help from Arceus; a clue to help point her in the direction Ash and Greninja are.

Serena was lost in her musings until she was knocked out of them, and on her behind.  Pikachu fell off her shoulder and landed face first on the sidewalk wishing Serena heard his cries before they ran into the person on the ground next to them.  The person in question was a mailman; rubbing his back as it was the first thing he hit on the concrete from the collision.  All three regaining their senses, Serena got up to her feet quickly to help the carrier to his, with an apology.

“I am so sorry sir!  I was not watching where I was walking.”  The mailman brushed himself with a smile as he accepted Serena’s apology, “It’s ok miss.  I should be saying sorry as well because I was trying to read this map I had, and I wasn’t watching where I was walking either.”  Accepting his apology as well, Serena straightened her clothes out as well, as Pikachu ran up her body to climb back on her shoulder.  “Hello, I’m Serena, and this my friend’s pokemon partner, Pikachu!”  “Pika, Pikachu,” Pikachu cried out to introduce himself.

The mailman’s face froze for a second, before nodding to them and introduced himself. “Nice to meet you Serena and Pikachu.  My name is Gunther; I’m a mail carrier here in Lumiose.”  Serena took note of Gunther’s appearance, obviously wearing the standard, dark blue uniform when it came to delivering mail in the Kalos Region.  Other notable features about Gunther was he was a tall man that if Serena had to guess, he would be 5’10”, the fact he wore thick, black rimmed glasses, and he was missing his pinky finger on his right hand.  If Serena and Pikachu met him in one of the many alley ways in Lumisoe at night, they would of ran away in terror, but in daylight, Gunther seemed like a genuine man.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you too Gunther,” Serena replied back as a thought came to her, “Though may I ask why you are using a map while you are working?  Aren’t you supposed to be familiar with the layout of your route?”  Gunther chuckled as he rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment, “You got me there Serena.  This is actually my first week on my own as a mail carrier.”  Both Serena and Pikachu tilted their heads in confusion to Gunther’s answer and he decides to explain further, “You see, I just got recently hired in at the Lumiose Postal Office, and even though I passed my exams and had a trainer go with me on my route for a week, I’m still having trouble.  My route is supposed to go from this address to the last one here, and so far, I have delivered to every other address down except for the last one.  I am not too familiar with the South Side of Lumiose still.”

Looking at the map and the list of addresses Gunther had, Serena recognized the last address was Meyer’s house.  “Oh, I know that one!  Pikachu and I are actually living with the residents of that address right now”.  Gunther gave a look of surprise at Serena and Pikachu before opening his mailbag to reveal the last few envelopes in his bag, checking to make sure of something.  “Well now…,” he said as he looked at the mail, “I thought your name sounded familiar, Serena.”  Gunther turned the stack of envolopes around to show at the top of them, Serena had one addressed to her, funnily enough it came from Lumiose itself. 

Serena raised an eyebrow at this reveal.  She did not know anyone else here in Lumiose other than Clemont, Bonnie, Meyer, and Professor Sycamore/assistants.  The address she was not familiar with, nor does it have the name of the person or possible group it came from.  The only things it had on it was her name, Meyer’s home address, and a return address that indicated it came from Lumiose City.  Serena had to guess something this sloppily addressed could not have gotten through the screening process to be delivered without raising a red flag.  But she was not sure about how the mail gets sorted out to begin with, so maybe it was an error on the post office’s part. 

Wondering if it was ok for her to take the mail from Gunther to deliver, she asked him if she could do it.  Gunther shook his head explaining that it was government rules for the mail to be delivered by a certified employee of the post office to avoid fraud issues.  “So, would you like to walk back to the address with us,” Serena asked, “It could help you memorize your route better”.  “Well if you two don’t mind, then I will take you up on your offer.”  Pikachu chirped in agreement, and the three of them took the twenty-minute walk back to Meyer’s house. 

On the way, Serena and Gunther talked about what Gunther’s job as a mailman was like, and Serena talked about her experience as a Showcase participant, with Gunther admitting he never really watched a Showcase Contest before. They eventually arrived at Meyer’s home which doubled as his repair shop in the front of the building.  “Well here we are,” Serena said.  Gunther dropped Serena’s envelope and Meyer’s bills in the drop box outside the repairman’s business.  “Thank you, you two.  This should help me remember my route a little better now.”  “No problem Gunther; that’s great to hear.  Pika, pika!”  Gunther smiled at them, “I wish you luck on your future Showcases, Serena.  Until then, you have a lovely day you two!”  Serena and Pikachu smiled back, “Thank you very much!  We wish you the same with your job.”

Gunther nodded as he turned around and walked down the street, and Serena grabbed the mail from the drop box to take it inside.  Walking past the counter of the shop, and into the home itself, Pikachu hopped off Serena’s shoulder to play with Chespin in the living room, who was on the floor playing with a small ball.  Clemont was in the kitchen preparing the ingredients he planned on using for dinner in an hour.

“Hey there Clemont.  What are you doing?”  Clemont turned around from the counter with a chef’s knife in his hand and Serena sees meat all cut up in chunks on a cutting board.  “Welcome back Serena.  I’m in the preparation stage of making beef stew for us tonight.  It will be ready in a couple hours or so.”  Serena nodded but noticed a distinct lack of noise in the house, save for the two pokemon playing in the other room.  “Where’s Bonnie?  It seems too quiet right now.”  The inventor chuckled, “She went with my dad on a supply run to the hardware store.  Bonnie was bored here, and my dad suggested he could go with her to help him bring stuff back”.

Serena giggled silently at the thought of Bonnie possibly proposing to every pretty woman her and Meyer came across, and Meyer had to explain everything before carrying Bonnie away in embarrassment.  “By the way,” Clemont asked, “Is that the mail in your hand?”  Serena forgot for a second she was holding the mail, “Yeah.  A couple of these are for your dad; the only other one is for me”.  Clemont raised his left eyebrow, “For you?  Is it from your mom?”  Serena shook her head, “No.  The return address is from here in Lumiose, but it isn’t from the Professor, and you guys are the only other people I know here.”  “Hmmm… That is peculiar.  Can I see the envelope please?”  Serena agreed and handed her mail over to Clemont, after he washed his hands, to see if he can identify the return address. 

After a good thirty seconds, Clemont came to a conclusion, “Well… I do not recognize the address either”.  Serena about fell over in disbelief but recovered and asked for her mail back, and he gave it to her, but asked Serena to wait on opening it.  “Let me go grab something from my bedroom.  I’ll be quick.”  Clemont left the kitchen to the staircase, while Serena shrugged and set the her and Meyer’s mail on the kitchen table.  Sitting down looking at her mail, Serena could not help but being more curious about the envelope every passing second.  She heard Clemont up in his room, moving and throwing objects around waiting to see what he was going to do with her mail.

Pikachu and Chespin stopped playing with the ball and went to see what Serena and Clemont were going to do about the mail as well.  Pikachu climbed up on the table next to Serena mail to touch it and smell it.  Serena noticed him picking at the envelope and asked the electric mouse what he was up to.  “Pipika, Pikachu.”  Serena tilted her head in confusion to what Pikachu was implying, until Pikachu sighed in exasperation and pointing to the envelope and giving a thumbs up.  “Are you saying it’s ok for me to open it?”  Pikachu cried out happily and nodded.  Serena decided to go on Pikachu’s word that her mail is not tampered with and opened it to find there was only a letter in it.

Serena started to read the letter just as Clemont came down the staris to show off what he was doing in his room.  “I knew we would run into a situation like this.  The future is now thanks to science!  I present to you: The Mail Checker Two-Thousand!”  While Clemont kept his eyes close in smugness and expecting was expecting Serena to ask how it works, he opened his eyes a few seconds later to instead see Serena trembling in her chair.  Her hands were gripping the paper tightly while she re-read the letter, with her breathing picking up heavily, and her pupils dilating in shock.

Clemont stood a few feet away from her; his own nerves on edge from Serena’s sudden mood shift.  Pikachu and Chespin were also worried about what had their friend freaking out over a piece a paper.  Pikachu slowly walked to Serena’s point of view to see if he can read the letter himself.  Since he has been with Ash through six regions over the years, Pikachu has been able to somewhat understand and read the alphabet his trainer and their friends use.  It took him a minute to comprehend what he was reading, but as soon as Pikachu put the letter together, he let out an exclaimed, “PIKA?!” 

The shout made by Pikachu snapped Serena out of her shocked state of being and realized Clemont was standing near her.  “Clemont,” Serena shouted as she got up from the table quickly and knocked her chair over, “Read this now!”  Clemont was concerned about what had the performer and the electric mouse panicking about a letter they read, but nonetheless, took it from Serena’s hand and read it out loud.  “Dear Serena, Clemont, Bonnie, and Pikachu, I have information on the whereabouts of your friends, Ash and Greninja-” He stopped reading immediately when he realized what the note just said.  At Serena’s and Pikachu’s urgency, Clemont continued, “If you want to know how to save them, meet me at the return address on the envelope at 9pm, on March 28th.

There was no signature at the bottom of the letter, or on the back of it.  That did not matter to Clemont though as he was still trying to process the information he just read like Serena and Pikachu.  Someone or a group of people possibly know where Ash and Greninja are, they know who he, Serena, and Bonnie were, and the group of friends had about a day and a half to decide to go to the address or not.  Weary of the letter overall, Clemont faced Serena and Pikachu to discus the matter with them, “I don’t about you two, but I do not have a good feeling about this.”  “Pika?  Pikachu Pi?”  Clemont had to guess Pikachu was asking why he was not more willing to jump on this opportunity to save their friends,

“Think about it: Do you think it is a little suspicious that we get a letter from some random person or organization that claims they know where Ash and Greninja are?  We and the police here in Kalos never mentioned to the press that Ash and Greninja went missing, so how can anyone know they disappeared and found them no less?”  Serena and Pikachu did find it odd that despite keeping quiet about Ash’s and Greninja’s kidnapping, there were people out there that knew about it.  “Also,” Clemont continued, “What if whoever sent the letter, was the one responsible for their abduction, and they are luring us into a trap to take us as well?”  Clemont tone of voice was going from calm and logical, to hysterical and worry, “I cannot bear the thought of someone taking Bonnie away from me!  I promised my mom that I would take care of Bonnie and not let anything happen to her!  I WON’T LET IT HAPPEN SERENA!!” 

Serena put her hands up to calm Clemont down as he was starting to sound paranoid, “Ok, ok, ok, Clemont!  Take a deep breath, everything is ok.  Nothing is going to happen to Bonnie.”  Clemont realized how he was sounding and walked over to the table to sit down with the letter in front of him.  Serena grabbed her chair on the floor to put it right side up again to sit down as well, with Pikachu still on the table looking back and forth, and Chespin was on the floor; staying silent during the discussion.  “…I’m sorry for that outburst, Serena.”  The performer saw remorse on Clemont’s face as he was trying to keep himself in check after the episode he had.  It was a quiet couple minutes before Clemont spoke again, “…what do you think Serena?”  “About what we should do regarding the letter?”

Clemont nodded his head as he looks up to see what she would say.  Taking a deep breath and looking him straight in the eye, Serena gave her answer, “I think we should go to the meeting place tomorrow night.”   “Pika, Pikachu!”  Clemont saw Pikachu nodding his head with a determined look on his face; agreeing with Serena.  “We should give this a try.  Officer Jenny and the rest of the police force still have not found a clue or lead to what happened to Ash and Greninja since they vanished.  You know as well as I do the Kanto Government is not going to share anything with us since we aren’t of any concern to them because we are both foreigners and teenagers.  This is the best lead we have had in the past month, and Pikachu and I believe we should take a chance on it!  Plus, the note did not say we couldn’t bring any of our pokemon with us, so if we are walking into a trap, at least we would have protection.  What else do we have to go on?”

Clemont sighed as he took his glasses off to rub his face to relieve the stress headache that was building in his brain.  Serena has some good points to her argument: The Kanto Regional Government is not going to tell a couple of Kalos teenagers anything relating to their friends’ disappearance, and if the information is believable enough, they could tell Officer Jenny and let the police handle it.  The letter did not say anything about bringing their pokemon, so they could theoretically escape if turns into a bad situation.

After a couple minutes of thinking and putting his glasses back on, Clemont conceded to Serena’s and Pikachu’s side.  “Ok, let’s go for it, but I have one condition.”  Serena and Pikachu leaned in anticipation to what Clemont’s request was, “We leave Bonnie out of this.”  Serena was about to ask why, but then she remembered Clemont’s emotional outburst from moments ago.  As much as Serena wants to argue for Bonnie to tag along, she has come to be associated as Bonnie’s “Big Sister” by the child herself and would not feel comfortable with the possibility of putting her “Little Sister” in danger.  Pikachu felt a similar need to protect Bonnie like his human friends, so he can agree with the terms as well.

“Ok.  We can agree with that condition.”  Clemont released a breath he did not realize he was holding and smiled.  “Alright, we will come up with a plan to figure out where the address is located in Lumiose, and go from there.  Until then, keep it a secret from Bonnie and my dad.”  Serena and Pikachu nodded their heads and were going to get up from the table until they saw Chespin still on the floor looking confused.  “Chespin,” Serena said, “We need you to stay quiet about this as well please.”  Chespin realized he was being spoken to and straightened up, “Ches, Pin, Chespin”.  “Kapi, Pikachu.”  Pikachu and Chespin spoke to each other for a minute before Pikachu gave a, “Pi” and gave a thumbs up for Clemont and Serena.  “I guess Pikachu convinced Chespin to not say anything,” Clemont said.

With everything sorted out, Clemont went back to finishing the prep for dinner, which would be a little later now, and Serena and Pikachu went upstairs to their bedroom to take a breather after everything that had transpired in the last couple hours.  Serena flopped down on her bed, staring at the ceiling while Pikachu, climbed onto her stomach and curled himself into a ball to fall asleep.  “Just think Ash.  We could be seeing you again real soon,” Serena said to herself quietly before closing her eyes like Pikachu.


Meanwhile, twelve hours behind Kalos

            The moon was still out, and the night was quiet as Kukui typed away on his computer down in the basement of his bachelor pad.  He had to keep his mind distracted from the metaphorical dead-end he hit the day before.  After calling Samson again to let him know he will unfortunately be taking the week off to look after his “guests”, Kukui then started making calls in Alola and Kalos to see if he can find out who the boy was and if that Greninja was his.  The Coast Guard did not report any ships or boats lost out at sea in the past few days, the few hotels that cater to tourist on Melemele or Akala Island have not had any customers checking in that match the boy’s description.  Finally, Kukui called Professor Sycamore in Kalos remembering Greninja is the final evolution form of the Kalos starter, Froakie, so maybe Sycamore could identify the duo upstairs.  Unfortunately, Sycamore was out of region for a conference to promote a new evolution theory called Battle Bond, and the young man that answer his call yesterday, was not too happy about being woken up at three in the morning and hung up after.

            Throughout the day and night, Kukui spent his time in his basement making the calls and going up to the living room to see if either one of his guests had woken up.  Neither of them has budged since Nurse Joy patched them up, and while it had only been a day, he wonders if either of them was going to wake up within the seven-day limit Nurse Joy set.  Instead of going to bed at night when he had morbid thoughts in his head, Kukui continued his own research on the effects of a crunch attack, and what it could do to an opponent at max power.  Occasionally, he got up from his work desk to grab a snack and beer from the mini fridge he had next to his desk or get up and practice his right hook on the punching bag on the other side of the room. 

It was now about 5am and other than having gotten through halfway on his hypothesis, Kukui was stumped on who the kid and that Greninja were.  Deciding it was probably best to sleep on it, Kukui got up from his desk to catch a couple hour nap before the sun rose up over the horizon.  Just as Kukui’s head hit the pillow and he closed his eyes, Rockruff came flying down the stairs, barking nonstop at him and pulling on his lab coat.  “What do you want?  I’m tired…”  Rockruff stood in front of the couch, whined a little, and ran back up the stairs.  It took a minute for Kukui’s mind to catch up to him, but he is guessing Rockruff wanted to be fed and let outside for a bit.  Kukui inwardly groaned before getting up from his couch and headed towards the stairs as well.

The professor rubbed his face in attempt to wake himself up some as he slowly ascended to his living room.  Once he reached the main floor, Professor Kukui was about to call out for his dog but any sound he was about to make, died out in his throat.  Across the room, the teenager who Kukui thought would still be out cold, was standing in the middle of the living room; back turned to the professor as he looked out a window.  Kukui blinked a couple times, then proceeded to gently pat his face to make sure this was not a dream he was having; the boy was awake and moving.  Kukui looked over to his left to see Rockruff sitting on his hind with a weary look on his face, and Incineroar was curled up on the floor near the front door asleep, unaware of what was going on. 

Mulling it over in his head for a minute, Kukui decided to speak out loud to see if the boy was all there in the head to begin with.  “Uh… hey there… cousin.”  Kukui noticed the boy’s posture stiffened before his whole body turned around to face the professor.  Kukui saw the boy had his head down, with his hair hiding his eyes and his hands were dangling at his side.  Kukui was about to say something else till realized he was probably making the boy nervous with how he just called out to him.   So, the professor straightened himself up to introduce himself more professionally, “Sorry if I startled you a second ago; let me try again.  My name is Professor- “ 

Kukui could not get his name out in time as the next couple seconds were a blur to him.  He felt like someone took a baseball bat to his stomach and his back was slammed into the wall below the loft.  Still trying to make sense of what hit him and keep his pain level in check, Kukui also realized that the same teen he had laying on his couch earlier, had him pin to the wall and there was something in the boy’s right hand.  Kukui looked down out of curiosity to see what the boy could have grabbed in that short amount of time, and what he saw, stunned the professor into shock and confusion.  The boy was holding a water shuriken up to his neck.

“Where am I…” the boy said in a low growl, as Kukui noticed his eyes were hard and feral.  “Who are you?  Do you work for Team Flare as well you twisted freak?  Do you?!”  That was the moment in his life when Kukui realized… he was in big trouble.