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Atmospheric Pressure

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"Melody, are you doing something important with all of our bandwidth today?" Carol enquired, poking her head around her younger sister's bedroom door. "We're trying to organise our wedding and honeymoon..."

Seeing movement out of the corner of her eye, Melody looked up from sitting cross-legged on her bed - egg nestled in her lap, computer sat on the bed in front of her. She had been reading documentation, scientific reports, and watching videos on taking care of eggs ever since she'd got home from Howie's, armed with some oversized noise-cancelling headphones.

Carol and Rip had been out when Melody had returned to the house, so she'd excitedly taken the egg and her laptop up to her room to do some research, entirely forgetting her dinner and any drinks.

"Didn't you think to ask if you could have that in the house?" Carol asked, pointing sternly at the egg.

Melody sighed and removed her headphones. "Carol, Howie gave it to me. I don't know what it is yet. If it's a Pokémon that will be troublesome, I'll keep it in a Poké Ball while we're indoors. In any case, I'll stop watching videos now you're home."

Carol looked frustrated, but not frustrated enough to start disagreeing. "Fine, but you'd better stick to it. This is our house. Rip and I live here too, you know."

She left the room, leaving Melody to continue wondering what kind of Pokémon was inside. Were all eggs the same size? Did that mean all baby Pokémon were the same size? She knew the markings often indicated what Pokémon was in there, but no amount of researching could tell her anything. Of course, all eggs were unique, just like every person and Pokémon was unique, but it didn't stop her wondering if she'd got her hands on an undiscovered species.

"It's green, so maybe it's a grass type?" Melody wondered aloud. She ran her hands over it - the shell was very smooth. "But then, there are flying types like Natu and Xatu that are green, and some alternate colourations of others…" she put her head in her hands, "You are a mystery, little egg!"

She located a breeder's bulletin board and quickly registered. Finding the forum she needed, she took a snapshot of the egg with her webcam and posted a new thread asking opinions on the species.

After half-heartedly refreshing the page a few times, Melody pushed her laptop shut, putting it into sleep mode. With the egg still nestled between her crossed legs, she lay back, gazing at the photos tacked to her ceiling. These were pictures taken for her college assignments; observations on the coastlines of Shamouti and its three neighbouring islands, detailed observations of rock formation, photographs of the cirrus clouds that forever mysteriously lingered around Ice Island's mountain, and the ash that constantly billowed out of the stratovolcano on Fire Island. What a meteorological nightmare the area was.

She absently picked up a plastic replica of the Shamouti's traditional ocarina and began to practice. She could never tire of the Guardian's Song - the peace and relaxation it brought her was amazing, and reminded her, frustrating as it was, that not everything she was worried about could be explained by earth science.

Melody always played with her eyes closed to help her concentrate, but her eyes snapped open when she detected an unfamiliar scent. It was faint, but it was very sweet and pleasant. She put the ocarina back on her bedside table and sat up, looking at the egg. It was moving the tiniest bit, and was definitely the source of the sweet scent.

"Yes," Melody said, placing her hands on the shell again. "I definitely think you're a grass type."

•••

Satisfied that evening was providing them with enough cover of darkness, two young visitors to the island put their latest plan into play. Cisco clipped a collar to her Aipom's neck, switching on a tiny device attached to it. She patted the little Pokémon on the head, reminding her not to stray too far, lest the signal be lost.

Aipom grinned and winked, making a quiet but swift run for the house. Cisco watched her climb a drainpipe and hang by her tail from the roof gutter, slightly above Howie's open office window. Cisco gave a thumbs-up and retired further into the bushes, making sure as she retreated that the voice was still clear.

"--remember all the interviews and reports from that incident. I mean, really, I'm renting this house from Carol Costello, her sister. There are no doubts in my mind."

Liran and Cisco raised their eyebrows to each other.

"I'm trying to persuade her to participate in the Orange League, so she'll be out of our way. What? Yes, she'll be easy to find. She trusts me, she'll tell me where she is if I ask as a friend. I can always send my Sharpedo or Crobat after her if needed."

Cisco removed her headphones for a moment, and suggested to Liran, "Do you think he's not really got dear Melody's best interests at heart?"

Liran nodded solemnly. "I did say he was suspicious, from the beginning."

They had grown rather fond of Melody; she always stopped to say hello and happily answer questions about attractions on Shamouti and surrounding islands. Umbreon and Espeon were also always pleased to see her, enjoying the attention she gave them.

"Liran, I'm worried something bad will happen to her," Cisco said at length, too uncomfortable to continue listening in to the conversation. She pulled a Pokémon whistle from her pocket and blew on it to recall her Aipom - much to Liran's horror.

"Cisco, you can't do that here!" Liran growled, snatching the whistle back. "There are too many Pokémon in the--"

Liran didn't need to finish his sentence. Not just the Aipom had heard the whistle; the entire breeding centre erupted into a cacophony of Pokémon voices. In a split second, a furious Howie had flung the window open wider, seen the panicking Aipom hanging from his guttering, and yanked her inside.

"Aipom!" Cisco cried, as Liran tried to restrain and quiet her. "Liran, we have to do something, Aipom's just a baby! She'll be so scared!"

There was a resounding crunch noise over the receiver as the transmitter from Aipom's collar was destroyed under Howie's foot. Liran discarded his headphones in agony, detaching himself from an anxiety-stricken Cisco in order to nurse his ears.

"Damn," he said, putting his arms around his shaking partner. "Damn. Cisco, she'll be okay. Melody works there; she won't let anything bad happen."

Cisco looked up at him, "Melody, that's right!"

"Cisco, it's too late in the evening to bother--" he stared incredulously as his partner got up and stumbled away into a run. He stumbled to his feet and gave chase. "Cisco!"