The journey to the Battle Zone was largely uneventful, and before long Dack could see the island on the horizon, rapidly approaching. Excellent, he thought with a smile. Now all we have to do is find Palmer... and hope that he's awake.
Suddenly the ship lurched to a halt with enough force to knock Dack off balance. "What the--? Why'd we stop?" he hollared as he picked himself up and rushed into the ship's cabin.
"We hit something," Luke replied. "It must have been an underwater rock or something. Do any of you have a water Pokemon that could check and see what it was?"
The ship lurched again, knocking both Dack and Luke off their feet. Dack ran back out to the deck to see what was going on. He saw a dorsal fin moving through the water. Another dorsal fin surfaced. And another. And another. As one of the fins dashed toward the side of the ship, Dack managed to catch a glimpse of what the fin belonged to -- a Sharpedo -- before the force of the collision knocked him back again.
Standing back up, the Rocket agent saw that the ship was surrounded by Sharpedo. "We've got to stop these Sharpedo!" he cried. "Before they tear a hole in the ship!"
"I see," Ryan nodded. He was glad they had dropped Ellen off at her house before continuing to Dragonspiral Tower, and he felt like he understood why Ray had run off the night before. Although their Christmas party had been fun, if whatever Black was planning at Dragonspiral Tower succeeded because they had delayed...
Ryan shook the thought out of his head. "Well, there's no time to waste, is there? We'll just have to get there as fast as we can." He quickened his pace a little as they approached the western gatehouse of Opelucid City.
Ellen's mother, who had been listening to the whole conversation, spoke up. "Who told you all this about Ford, anyway?"
Ellen glanced at both of her parents, wondering how they would react to this news. "It was actually Maddison Hayes, Ford's agent that he sent to blow up Castelia."
"One of Ford's agents?!" Mrs. Burks said in surprise. "How did you meet her?"
Ellen sighed. She didn't want to worry her parents, but there was no way out now. "We were trying to stop her from blowing up the city, and she took Sonja and me hostage at the top of one of the central buildings. The others in our group managed to rescue us. We were able to teleport out of the city unharmed -- barely -- but we were too late to stop the bombs."
"Oh, how horrible!" Ellen's mother exclaimed. "That must have been scary."
"It was," Ellen nodded. "But I had faith that our friends would save us."
"These friends of yours," Mr. Burks said slowly. "If they were trying to stop Ford's agent… are they a part of the war?"
"They did say they were chasing a criminal," Ellen's mom recalled. "Maybe they were talking about this Maddison Hayes."
"No, no, they're chasing a different criminal," Ellen quickly explained. "Someone who goes by the codename 'Black.'"
"But a regular Unovan wouldn't ignore the evacuation orders," Ellen's father said. "And Ford made sure that Team Plasma's officers left the city themselves once everyone was evacuated. If your friends ignored the evacuation and tried to stop Ford's agent, then that must mean that they're part of the war. Am I right?"
"N-no…" Ellen stuttered, averting her eyes.
"Don't lie to me, Ellen," Mr. Burks warned. "Are these friends of yours fighting in the war?"
"Well… yes," Ellen admitted in a quiet voice. "But they aren't here in Unova because of the war!"
"I don't care. I don't want you hanging around those people ever again! They're dangerous, not to mention a bad influence."
"But they're not here because of the war at all!" Ellen cried, on the verge of tears. "In fact, the group is a mix of people from both sides of the war! H-how can you s-say that about them?"
Mr. Burks' face softened as he knelt near his daughter and told her gently yet firmly, "Look Ellen. I'm sure they are all very nice people. But if they insist on fighting this war, then that makes them an enemy of Ford. And I know what kind of power Ford has. I have no doubt that Ford's agent was trying to kill you and your friends in Castelia. It sounds cold-hearted, but she was simply eliminating anyone who tried to stop Ford's plan. What if you hadn't been able to teleport away in time? I couldn't bear the thought of losing you. Please try to understand; it's for your own safety that I don't want you associating with those people."
Ellen nodded through her tears. "I… I understand."