4 hours later. Yes, that long. April has been in hiding in the woman’s locker area, specifically in the laundry room. Not a single person has gone to check up on her because it’s always a waste of time. The length of time these flashbacks happen varies, but she can credit many nightmarish, sleepless nights because of them.
At her side is the bottle of flower perfume which was once was full, but is now half empty. She steps to her feet, taking a deep breath of fragranced air. Using the mirror, she cleans her face and makeup, blending eye shadow and eye liner to hide her puffy eyes, as well as eye drops to remove her redness. She grabs her perfume and slides her shades back on, ready to go again.
She’s lost a lot of valuable time.
“April!” Commander Nickels happens to walk down the path outside the locker room. “How are you doing?”
“Fine. Just fine. I’m sorry...”
“Don’t worry about it. How’s your investigation going? I heard you talked with Uriel.”
“Yes sir. But he couldn’t provide any useful Intel. I think I’ll head to the Pokemon Center where he was last scene.”
He nods. “Good work. Keep me informed.”
She knows everyone knows about what happened to her and the blackouts she has, but nobody ever says anything about it. Mostly because they’re afraid it will force her back into that state. Which it might. Either that, or nobody actually cares about her to see what’s the matter. Which has made it difficult to talk with her fellow Officers, because no one wants to risk talking with her. One wrong word and she was gone from reality.
Back on the computer, she checks for any updates with the Stolen Pokemon Recovered file. Two more are in process: Gorebyss and Zigzagoon. As long as Oddish and Roselia are still there, she didn’t care about the others.
After that, she walks to the Pokemon Storage room and uses the key she had made. It works. She walks down the aisles of Pokeball holding shelves to where the 15 Pokemon remained. Checking her notes for the correct number, she grabs a Pokeball. She finds the second number, grabbing that Pokeball in her other glove.
“Oddish. Roselia. I hope your owners don’t show up.” She hugs them to her chest, dancing around the room.
The door creaks open, allowing a voice in. “April, what are you doing in here.”
Two officers and the Commander stand at the entrance. She stops dancing, placing the Pokeballs back in their holdings. “Uh, nothing. I was just, uh... How’d you know I was here?”
Nickels points to the camera in the corner. “You don’t have clearance for this room. This is a major violation you know.”
“Yea, I know sir. But I just wanted to spend some time with the Pokemon. I apologize for my behavior lately.”
“How can you expect me to give you assignments when you’re doing things behind my back.” One of the officers whispers in his ear. He whispers back. “Really? Dancing?” He addresses April, rubbing his mustache. “April, I’m going to reassign you to Pokemon detail. Every morning we let them out to feed them, then put them back in their Pokeball. We don’t have time to roam around and play with them. How would you like to be our Pokemon Caretaker for the time being?”
April stands in awe. “You mean, take care of Pokemon?”
“Yes. We can open up the Pokemon Training hall upstairs for you to play with the recovered Pokemon until we find their owners. Lord knows they must hate being cooped up in a Pokeball all day.”
“Th-Thank you sir. I would love to.”
“Excellent. I also have this for you.” He hands out a small bronze badge that says ‘Junior Detective’ at the top and the city of Blackthorn engraved in the middle. “To make it official when you’re in the city. Remember, I’m trusting you. I don’t want to have to take that away.”
She understands, completely. In one swoop, she almost lost everything that is important to her, but instead gained that much more. The extra responsibility and extra trust chokes her heart, wanting to leap out and give that man a hug. But instead, she salutes him with a proud smile.
Another next day later. Her detective work continues in the early gloomy morning, not wasting a single minute stopping by the station first. Today, she would get her chance to play with Pokemon- to play with a grass Pokemon. But before that.... the Pokemon Center.
Near the center of the city, this two story Pokemon building is open to all Trainers and similar Pokemon care persons. It is here that Jack was known to have stayed, and was last sighted on the day in question. She’s only been inside half a dozen times during festival seasons, when Trainers from all across the league would show up. She loves seeing what kind of Pokemon they bring, hoping to spend time with any Trainer that brings a flowering Pokemon. But alas, she hasn’t found any yet.
Nurse Joy stands behind the counter, with her pink hair in a ribbon and warming smile upon entering. “Hi there, what can I do for you?”
Nurse Joy was interviewed about this Trainer many times, all leading to the same answers. ‘He stayed a little more than two months and only came by at night to sleep. He rarely talked to anyone and kept to himself most of the time.’ But there has to be more to the story. Anything that would lead to where he went and what kind of Trainer he is.
“Hi Nurse Joy. I’m wondering if you can help me.”
“Sure, what is it?”
“I’m looking for my boyfriend, he’s a Pokemon Trainer. His name is Jack. Have you seen him around here?”
“Jack,” Joy and a few other eavesdropping Trainers’ ears perk up. “You mean the mysterious Trainer that saved the city?”
“Er, I think so. He did say something about helping Blackthorn... er something. But that means you saw him, right? Is he here?”
“No, unfortunately not. He disappeared that night when the Tang Gang was caught. No one’s seen him since. Which is a shame too, he’s a good kid. You’re very lucky to have him.”
April forces a blush. “Aw, thanks. But you don’t know where he could have gone?”
“Sorry dear. He was a quiet one, didn’t talk much. Only time I’d see him was in the morning when he left and at night when he arrived to sleep.”
The same story. “But you must have talked to him. Did he say anything at all? Please, I miss him so much.”
A beep sounds from her computer. “Just the normal Trainer chit-chat that everyone talks about. Training for a Gym match, training for the festival, training for training. That sort of stuff. He talked about it quite a lot since our leader was on vacation the entire time he was here. He was kind of impatient about it, but I could sense he didn’t mind the extra training. The day after he left, the leader announced his return.” She looks up at the tv hanging over the room. “I do hope the media didn’t scare him off. He’s quite a hero.”
“Then he challenged the Gym?”
“I wouldn’t count on it. Every Trainer comes back here for a check up after an intense Gym battle, especially facing Dragon type Pokemon. My guess is he left town. Sorry I can’t be of much help to you.”
A younger boy tugs on April’s pants. “You talking ‘bout Jack?” She looks down at him with a nod. “I wish he’d come back. We made a bet to see who could win their first badge. Now I’ll never know if I beat him.”
A Gym match, of course! Besides the Pokemon Center, all Trainers stop by the city Gym. But if what Nurse Joy and the little boy say are true, then he can’t be an experienced Trainer. No. That would mean he’s a novice Trainer. But, the time line is off and he couldn’t have challenged the Gym because the leader came back the next day. But maybe....
“Oh,” Nurse Joy interrupts, “I did send one of his Pokemon to Goldenrod City. You can call the Pokemon Center there and leave a message with them if you’d like. If you find him, please send him our thanks.”
“Huh? Oh, yea. I’ll do that. Thanks for the help little boy.” The automatic doors open and close as she leaves.
Her red scooter skids to a stop. She drowns her mouth with water, having exercised more than she’s wanted to today. She stretches her legs, sticky from sweat inside her Capri pants. As she approaches the menacing dragon door to the gym, a sign hangs over the handle. Closed.
“What? No way.”
In that moment, the door pops open and shut, letting a small, old man out. He wears lime green pants and a fancy Hawaiian shirt. His head is missing patches of gray hair but his face is fully confident in his appearance. She thinks he’s a loony.
“Can I assist you?”
“Is the Gym leader around, I have some questions...”
“He’s busy. My name’s Gorgi, assistant to the Blackthorn Gym. Walk with me.” They take a right around the huge Gym building, walking through a beautiful array of well watered plants and flowers. “So, what’s your question, miss?”
She takes off her hat, covering her heart, also putting on a sympathy show including both visual and audible sadness. “It’s my boyfriend. He went missing a couple weeks ago and his family... uh... ahem... I’m worried about him. *Sniff* He said he was going to challenge your Gym, so I was wondering if you saw him here?”
“Oh, it’s okay. What’s his name, miss?”
“Jack. This was going to be his first gym battle... he was supposed to wait for me.” She frowns quickly. “Some nerve of him.”
The old man’s eyes tighten. “Sorry to hear that. What did you say his last name was?”
Shoot. He caught her. Without knowing his last name, he wouldn’t know whom she is talking about. Her glove clenches the razor scooter. “I- I don’t remember. We met at the, uh, Cherrygrove Pokemon Center... gasp... I don’t think he knows my last name either! But. But... I can describe him. He’s a little taller than me and about my age. Short brown hair... I think... uh. Someone like that had to have shown up.”
“A Mr. Jack, eh? Let me recall. ....... Oh yes, we did have one by that name. He really gave our leader a strong battle. It’s too bad you missed it, I’m sure he would have loved to have you by his side. Your name, miss?”
“Oh, it’s April. And thanks. Do you know where he’s heading now? I can’t seem to reach him by phone anymore.”
He laughs, “That’s understandable. He’s up in the mountains where phone signals can’t reach.”
Mountains? She had no idea an out right lie would grant her valuable information like that. “So you do know where...”
“Yes, I do. But I can’t tell you that.”
“What, why not? I’m his girlfriend, remember?”
“I know what you said, but that’s not who you are. Am I correct in this?” He watches her face destroy itself with guilt. “I’m sorry, April, but he has asked to go on his way in peace. He’s smart in doing so too, because any Trainer in this position would allow all the praise to go to his head, making him arrogant in training and battles. And that last thing any Trainer needs is extreme overconfidence.”
April stops walking with him. “Thank you for your time.”
“Wait.” He puts her arm around her sullen shoulders. “If you intend to search for him, best of luck to you. But if you find him, will you do what you’re supposed to do, or do what’s right? Detective.”
“Uh, yea, Whatever. Thanks.” She twists away from his arm, walking back to the main street. ‘Do what’s right.’ What’s that supposed to mean? Doing her job is the right way. And how did he know...ooww oh.... before venturing out, she had stuck her bronze badge on her satchel bag. Joy couldn’t see it because it was hidden behind the counter. What a stupid mistake.
But not costly. She has enough information to make a more intelligent guess where the Trainer is heading next. From Blackthorn City, there are four main places to head to: Indigo Plateau; Mahogany Town; Goldenrod City; or New Bark Town. New Bark Town can be eliminated since there are no mountains south of the city. Goldenrod is a dangerous route to travel for a new Trainer. He has no reason to go to Indigo Plateau. He has to be heading for Mahogany Town through Ice Path, where phones won’t work. There is a Gym there as well.
Jack: Must have started from New Bark Town, goes to Blackthorn City and wins badge. Goes to Mahogany Town next.
A heart bubble pops over her head. “Wow, he must be some kind of Trainer to win his first badge from the hardest Gym in the league. Dragon Pokemon are scary.”