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Old 05-23-2017, 12:39 AM   #1
Heather
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Rotom Heather's C Drive

The C Drive


A small laptop computer resides on a nightstand beside Heather's bed. This is not their PC Storage terminal, however, or even their usual computer for other business. Instead, this computer is as though a diary first and foremost. Contained within are documents detailing memorable stories that Heather never wishes to forget, personal annals of the distant and recent past, some never meant to leave the virtual walls of the local disk. Here, memories are enshrined in memory, in The C Drive.

C:\Documents\Seedling.docx
The first step to going anywhere is admitting you're unhappy with where you are...

C:\Documents\Scorched.docx
A single memory, a weakness...

There's nothing else here...yet.

Last edited by Heather; 06-13-2017 at 04:15 PM.
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Old 05-23-2017, 12:42 AM   #2
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C:\Documents\Seedling.docx

Seedling


Another night in Nimbasa City. Streetlights shining, voices carrying, music blaring, trains running, all of the usual sounds of the second heart of Unova carried on in a formless harmony as the moon hung gracefully over the city skyline, a slim white crescent against the black, light-polluted black backdrop of night as though a small crack in a barrier of darkness. Near the heart of this sprawling tourist trap was the beacon of light that drew the crowds as moths to a flame: the amusement park. Usually somewhat winding down at this hour, the park was home to what had really been bringing the people that night: Elesa's Gym, a runway that glittered and sparkled much longer than anything else in the city. But even more attractive than the Gym Battles were the fashion shows, regularly drawing crowds that made the likes of Big Stadium jealous.

One such show was just winding down. This show was all about teen fashion, and Elesa believed in truth in advertising, thus, Nimbasa teens did all the modeling, with proper compensation, of course. Backstage, the models were congratulating each other on another show well done. Most of them, at least. One young teenaged boy headed straight for their dressing room instead, a stern, unreadable expression etched onto their face. They quickly shut the door behind them and changed back into their normal clothes, calmly folding the last outfit from the show and setting it aside. Thus began the litany of tasks to end the evening, washing off makeup, making sure everything was neatly hung in its proper place. Tonight, however, would be different than the others. This would be the last time. As the young model was just about to finish packing up, a knock sounded at the door, a pattern they recognized all too well.

"Come in, Miss Elesa." they said grudgingly. They ought to have expected this, really. The door opened, and Nimbasa's own Gym Leader stepped inside, slowly shutting the door behind them. She looked around the room with a seemingly pained expression. The place was practically barren, most of the young boy's effects packed away, never to come back. Everything had been emptied out.

"I see you meant what you wrote to me, Daniel. I'm surprised you've already packed up this much." Elesa said, striding over to the vanity with a sigh. "You have a bad habit of leaving without saying goodbye, you know. Is something the matter?" she asked, turning to the boy. He tried to hide the jealousy that immediately erupted. That outfit she was wearing, it was just too perfect. It was probably literally tailored for her, and it just worked, just like anything she wore. Heck, just like anything anyone in this whole group wore...except for them.

"No." they responded, uncomfortably. "This just isn't for me. I'm sorry. Everything's in order on the rack there. I'll be going now." they finished, moving for the door.

"Daniel." Elesa said, a bit more pointedly, causing a shiver to run down their spine. The name came like a syringe, a mere pinprick that sent a chilly wave throughout their entire being. This was Elesa's serious mode. "Something's on your mind, I can tell. Be honest with me. Is something the matter?" she repeated the question. Daniel hesitated, weighing their options. He knew he had to say something. If he wouldn't tell, Miss Elesa would go to great lengths to find out. She cared deeply for anyone who walked on her runway, after all, which was part of the reason the entire troupe idolized her: not only was she the picture of the profession, she was human to them, helping them at all times in any way she could. But at the same time, the whole truth wasn't something they were ready to share yet.

"If I may answer with a question," they responded, "why do you keep me around? I'm the weakest link out of everyone, and this whole city is just about brimming with boys and girls alike more talented who'd literally die for my spot on that runway. No matter how gussied up I get in anything I'm modeling, nothing works. I never actually look good in any of this, and it shows. Even the other guys are more popular than I am, and I just drag this show down with me. It's time I cut everyone a break." Elesa shook her head with a sigh.

"Is that all?" they asked expectantly. Daniel simply nodded in response, not bothering to make words. "Do me a favor, and put something on from the rack. I'll step out, just let me know when you're ready." She continued, striding out the door. Daniel sighed, and changed into one of the outfits from the show that night.

What's the point, they wondered, I look awful in this still. As they finished putting it on, they invited Elesa back into the room. She looked over Daniel a couple of times.

"This one, huh? It's a good choice. Good look. But you're right, there's something missing. Try another one." she instructed, again leaving the room. This process continued for a while, making Daniel thank Arceus their dad was away on business, as their mother was much more patient about that sort of thing than he was. Finally, Daniel was sporting the last outfit from the rack, the last outfit from that night's show, as Elesa looked them over once again.

"Yeah, that's definitely it. I know what's missing here. What all of these were missing." Elesa said calmly. "What's missing is your faith. If you don't believe something looks good, it shows. Confidence is the key to a good look. Do you want to revise your lineup for the next show? I still have it in the back." She continued, prompting Daniel to just shake their head.

"There's no point. I don't look good in anything. The 'right style' can't cover up how bad its bearer looks. Everyone else here is worth dressing up, just not me." Daniel said, aggravated.

"So that's it. It's not a lack of faith in the clothes, it's a lack of faith in yourself." Elesa replied, deep in thought. "You know what? Get changed out of that. I'm going to get you one last outfit, and I just want to see you in it. Promise me you'll try it on, and if it doesn't work, it doesn't work, alright?" she asked. Daniel sighed deeply and nodded, and Elesa left the room. They got changed out of the outfit and hung it up again.

I wonder what this last outfit is going to be. Daniel wondered as they finished hanging the outfit on the rack once more. Just then, Elesa returned, carrying a nondescript paper shopping bag.

"Just try this on, and let me know when you're done!" she said quickly, leaving the bag on the floor and quickly shutting the door behind her. Daniel reached into the bag and pulled out...

A dress. A bright blue, floral print dress. Small, white flowers bloomed from white silhouettes of tall, winding stems all across the fabric. Daniel simply sighed. They had officially lost where Elesa was going with this, but they wouldn't get anywhere trying to resist. They undressed, and stepped into the dress, pulling it up...only for it to stop halfway, the narrow seams unable to progress. No, that wouldn't work, they'd just tear the fabric. They stepped back out, and found the bottom once more. This time, they draped the garment over themselves like an oversized shirt, and this time, it worked. Getting it completely on took a little work, as their figure didn't exactly match the seams, but in the end, it fit well enough. The skirt came down to their knees, and the straps rested comfortably on their shoulders. The waist felt a little tight, but not unbearably so. Though, having a skirt as opposed to pants made Daniel feel a bit of a draft-perhaps they ought to invest in shorts to wear next time-wait, what were they thinking? This wasn't happening again, why were they thinking of a next time?

"I'm finished." They called through the door, and Elesa reentered the room, sizing Daniel up once more. A smile came to their face.

"Good, good, it gets around your ribs, like I'd hoped. The length is perfect, too, and the color is just perfect. I'd say you look rather patriotic, what with the white and blue and your red hair. What do you think?" she said optimistically.

"It's a dress. It's for girls. I look ridiculous in it. Can I go now?" Daniel replied curtly, just wanting to be done.

"That's odd," Elesa said with a grin, "most guys aren’t practically checking themselves out in the vanity while saying that." Daniel flushed red as they realized they indeed hadn't been able to tear their eyes away from the mirror while Elesa continued. "And your only concern is that you would look ridiculous, not that you would look bad. I can sense the confidence in you, Daniel, even if it's just a little seedling." Elesa paused for another moment in thought before resuming. "I have an idea, but I want to know that you'd be willing to try it. How about, for next week's show, you model dresses like these. Not like this of course, I'll make sure you pass flawlessly for a girl, but still. Would you be willing to try it?" she asked. Daniel hesitated. She had a point: For once, they hadn't hated it right off the bat. Perhaps it was worth trying out.

"...All I need is a cover story to get backstage as my usual self and have my parents be none the wiser that I'm performing, just in case they decide to attend." Daniel responded.

"Glad to hear it. How would you like to work backstage next week? It'd certainly be something to try for someone a bit disillusioned in modeling!" Elesa said, as if someone were listening just now of all times.

"Sure thing. Thanks for the opportunity, Miss Elesa. Though, I should get out of this before I go, of course."

"Yes, indeed. But before that, we should think of a stage name for you for next week. Any ideas?" Elesa replied, again going deep in thought. Daniel simply examined the dress again, and had a thought.

"What's the name of the flowers on this? I don't recognize them." they asked calmly, and Elesa had a lightbulb moment.

"They're called heathers, and I think that's a great idea. You want to go with that?" Elesa asked, heading to the door.

"Sounds good to me. Same time next week, then?" Daniel asked as Elesa made to exit the room.

"Same time next week. Good show tonight." Elesa said, leaving for the last time. Daniel got changed back into their normal clothes and left the runway. The usual hum of the city had died down to a dull roar: it was getting to be quite late. Daniel unlocked their bike and quickly pedaled home, their mother waiting with dinner on the table. Despite everything, Daniel couldn't help but be excited for next week's show.

Last edited by Heather; 05-23-2017 at 03:14 AM.
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Old 06-13-2017, 04:12 PM   #3
Heather
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Scorched

That night marked a full month since that fateful night. The fourth show that featured Daniel as Heather had just ended, and they quickly rushed backstage to get changed back into their normal clothes, as much as it pained them. They liked doing shows like this. They didn't much care if it was supposedly weird, they finally liked how they looked in the mirror for once, especially when they were all made up, and that was that. It was an odd feeling they didn't know how to describe, but every other day of the week, they felt trapped and not themselves, but for those scintillating moments on the runway, everything finally felt natural.

It was with the banging open of the door that it all crashed down. They hadn't gotten out of their last outfit yet when it happened. A man's voice they hoped they'd never hear back here rang through the room.

"Daniel!? What the fuck are you wearing!?" Their father, tall, serious, clad in a suit and tie, and with a withering expression on his face, strode into the room, towering over his child like a looming monster. Daniel backed up a step, fearful, unable to make words. Their father had always been strict, but this...they could feel the malevolence radiating from them. Then came another voice, a beacon of hope.

"Firstly, you're not supposed to be back here, Mr. Pridemoor. And secondly, they're wearing the only things I can offer them that they feel comfortable with on the runway." Elesa cut in, holding an Ultra Ball in her hand. "That being said, I suggested it initially. Leave them alone, and more importantly, leave the room, or I will have to remove you myself." she finished. Daniel's father stood there, contemplating his options. After an agonizingly tense minute, he gave an annoyed grunt and moved to leave the room. At the last second, however, he produced a strange looking Poke Ball from his pocket, expanded it, and pressed the release in one fluid motion.

"Magmortar, Flame Burst!"

What came out of the Ball was a Magmortar, certainly, but Daniel could barely make it out, a dark cloud seemed to persistently surround the Pokémon, filling them with dread. That was the least of their worries, however. The Magmortar roared viciously, launching several fireballs at a high velocity, each scattering smaller ones on impact, setting a good portion of the room ablaze, before one last fireball struck the heat lamps around the dressing room's vanity.

There was a near deafening explosion, and flames, smoke, and sparks flew every which way. The clothes on the rack were already starting to catch fire. On the end hung the dress that Daniel had first tried on that fateful night, safe for now from the flames. Ducking under sparks and embers but still being struck by a few, they quickly grabbed the garment from the rack and looked to the door, only to see Elesa and their dad locked in combat, Magmortar against Zebstrika. Flames blocked the doorway, rising higher than ever, as smoke filled the room. Daniel saw their father look back at them. Daniel had the dress clutched in their arms, shielding it from all the flames and sparks...as their father shut the door. The flames only grew, fueled by the busted heat lamps, scattered drywall, and other such tinder. Smoke quickly began to fill the room, and the flames closed in. For what felt like hours but must have been mere minutes, Daniel curled up in the center of it all, waiting for the flames to consume them as their life flashed before their eyes.

Suddenly, Daniel's hallucination was shattered as the door was broken down by what had to have been a Dynamic Punch. A Poliwrath immediately began hosing down the floor with Hydro Pump, making sure not to hit Daniel lest they be pushed back into the fires behind them. Behind it, a Swampert unleashed a powerful Mud Shot at the burning heat lamps, quickly quelling the electrical fire. Daniel slowly crawled towards the exit of the room as the last of the fire was extinguished, when they were promptly scooped up by a firefighter and taken outside. They were covered in small, but painful burns.

--Two weeks later--

A Growlithe. A police hound, well trained, definitely not going to attack. It shouldn't have been intimidating, and yet Daniel could barely look at it without flashing back to that night. That strange Magmortar, they had learned, was something called a Shadow Pokémon. Artificially emptied of empathy, they were creatures hellbent on strength and fighting, difficult to control and not at all averse to attacking people with the intent to kill. Their father had wanted to see them burn that night, for doing the one thing they could still enjoy. That was all there was to it.

"Daniel, focus." The voice snapped them out of their stupor as the officer across from them looked them dead in the eye. "I'm getting tired of having to repeat myself, here, and it's a damn miracle you only wound up in the burn ward for a couple weeks with nothing too serious, because we need to build this case quickly. Now, again. You said your father sent out a Magmortar from a strange Poke Ball you did not recognize, but it appeared to be shrouded in a black cloud such that it was barely visible. Correct?"

"Yes, officer. One of the nurses told me that means it's a Shadow Pokémon..."

"That's true. Now, Daniel, if you could see that black cloud once, you will see it around any Shadow Pokémon you come across. It's both a blessing to have forewarning, and a curse to have to know that they're present. I'll call it a blessing, as your sight provides us damning evidence that your father was in possession of a Shadow Pokémon without a registration, but you probably won't see it the same way..."

--Two more weeks later--

"Would the witness please state their name and occupation for the record?"

"Heather Pridemoor. I work as a model for Miss Elesa." Heather stated with bated breath. The defense attorney shook their head.

"Witness, your legal name, if you-"

"With all due respect, sir, you asked my name, and I gave it. My legal name and my name are two separate things. Now, unless there's another problem, I would testify." Heather insisted. Thankfully, the judge seemed like they didn't much want to be there either, and simply gave the attorney a look that told him all he needed to know.

"...As you will, then. Your testimony, please."

"Thank you. On the night of July 12th, 2014, I was going backstage to my dressing room after a show, the fourth in which I'd performed looking more like this." Heather said, gesturing to her outfit. "At the time, neither of my parents knew I was doing this, for reasons you can probably guess. I'm not sure what possessed the defendant to come looking for me, but they did. I was busy removing my makeup at the time, and I hadn't gotten out of the dress I had just been wearing yet, when the defendant entered my dressing room and questioned why I was in such attire. I was scared, and didn't respond. About a minute or so passed before Miss Elesa confronted him. He just stood there for a few minutes, before he made to leave the room. Just as he left, though, he got out a Poke Ball the likes of which I'd never seen, and released a Shadow Magmortar. The creature was surrounded by a dark cloud, I only knew it's identity because the defendant stated it. He ordered it to use Flame Burst, setting the room ablaze and causing the heat lamps around the vanity to explode. I saved one dress in particular from my clothing rack before it caught fire, but then noticed I was trapped, and just went back to the center of the room. The defendant, by now in battle with Miss Elesa, shut the door behind him, causing the room to begin to fill with smoke. I sat there, curled up for what felt like hours, awaiting what felt like certain death, before I was rescued by the firefighters and their Pokémon and taken outside the building, where they found I had sustained multiple burns. Nothing that didn't heal in time, mind, but let my two week's stay in the burn ward be enough proof for that." Heather recounted solemnly.

"Does the defense have any questions for the witness?" the judge asked. The attorney simply shook their head.

"The witness is dismissed."

--One Year Later--

"Heather, come here. You'll want to see this." Heather's mom said, handing a pamphlet to her daughter as she came into the room. It was a brochure of sorts.

"Fizzytopia, accepting new Trainers soon? The name sounds funny, but...haven't people happened upon entirely new species there, and more? It sounds like fun!" Heather said, placing the brochure back down on the table.

"Yes, which would be great if you're serious about doing research of any kind, rather than just doing light academic reading as a hobby." her mother added, much to Heather's chagrin.

"I'll consider it. But hasn't it been nearly impossible to get over there?"

"Apparently the League over there closed registration for new Trainers for a while-years, even, and it doesn't help that some of them haven't been seen in all that time. Even if the region's League isn't the best organized, it's an out of the way place. I know it's not likely you'll ever have to worry about that slimeball of a man again, but in any case, I'd like you anywhere but here, and a secret place like this one is just perfect. Once Grace arrives and your application gets accepted, I'll get you a ticket over there immediately. Start packing anything you're going to take with you."

"Alright, mom, I'll get started."

--September 4th, 2015--

The door to the registry bust open. Heather, in that same blue and white dress, stumbled in, exhausted from a long bike ride. She'd had to go practically across the region for this. Turning in her accepted application, Heather took the starter pack she was offered. Looking through it all, she took out a single Poke Ball and let out its inhabitant, an Emolga.

"Hey, Grace! It's official now!"

The two chatted excitedly as they left, but it had been a long ride, so Heather decided to rest at the nearby Pokémon Center. Taking a seat on a sofa in the lobby, she stretched out and relaxed, Grace lounging on the seat next to her. A while passed before a Trainer entered. Heather had been simply watching them come and go, seeing their various Poke Balls, but one on this Trainer's belt caught her eye and made her seize up in terror. She'd seen it once before: A Shadow Ball. Flashbacks of that night rushed through Heather's mind in shattered fragments whose edges only made it worse. Grace noticed her Trainer curled up and shaking, and tried to get her attention to no avail.

A memory, scorched into her psyche, her sole weakness.
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