Chapter Ten – Allies and Adversaries
Erik peered over the boulder he was crouched behind, the baking sun beating down on him with the day feeling as hot as his Combusken’s flames.
“Where are we even supposed to be right now? Fallabor or the mountain?” asked the first grunt in the red cloak, addressing his teammate.
“Mt. Chimney,” replied the second, with a voice a lot more hoarse than his softly spoken friend. “We are part of strike team two, idiot.”
“Sorry, I’m just not sure about this, I hate heights and that cable car creaks every time we go up on it!”
“Just shut up and follow, Maxie wouldn’t send us up there if there wasn’t a good reason for it.”
The two Magma grunts began walking off, they had stopped for a bicker halfway through Route 111 when Erik had spotted them. He sneaked over to a large boulder in an attempt to overhear their conversation, discovering that something was planned for Fallabor town.
Route 111 was comprised of a long, sandy track through mountainous hillsides, with huge rocks and boulders littering the pathway, which lead to a fork in the road. A small desert inhabited the centre of the route, to the right of the fork, whereas Mt. Chimney occupied the road to the left. A flash of movement from the other side of the road caught Erik’s eye, someone was watching him from behind a boulder.
“Come out!” Erik demanded, before leaping over his own boulder and storming over to where he had seen the movement.
“Okay, okay!” a male voice moaned, shortly joined by another.
“We’re coming out,” followed a female’s voice, two figures emerging from behind the boulder. The male was holding a huge black recording device, lifting it over his shoulder and peering through the camera straight at Erik. He wore all navy blue, from his backwards fitted cap to his t-shirt and jeans combination. The female next to him bore an aqua-blue dress with white heels, her short cropped hair as brown as the boulder she was hiding behind.
“I’m Ty,” the cameraman introduced himself, “and this is Gabby, we are amateur reporters.”
“Why are you following me?!” Erik growled as viciously as a cornered animal.
“We’ve been told by our editor to conduct an investigative report on you,” Gabby answered, her stern voice causing Erik to immediately stand up straight. “We have been told you are looking to join Magma, so we are uncovering the plot by following you. We believe that if we decipher the reason as to why so many young trainers are tempted to join Team Magma, we can help put a stop to it.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Erik roared, “I have no intention of joining them, in fact, I’m on my way to fight them. Your editor having an issue with me is the problem.”
“Well it’s too late,” Ty took over, his voice a lot calmer and friendlier than his counterparts. “We have already got enough footage for the first showing,” he finished with delight.
“Blaze,” Erik called, his Pokemon inhaled breath ready to destroy the camera with flame.
“Wait!” Ty cried. “Don’t!”
Erik held up a hand and Blaze relaxed. “Okay,” he started calmly, “I challenge you both to battle, if I win, you explain to me what’s really going on as well as deleting the footage.”
“Fine,” Gabby responded, “but if we win, we air our report along with a full video confession from you, whether it’s the truth or not,” a smug look taking to her face.
“Let’s battle,” Ty and Erik said in unison.
Ty and Gabby sent out a Magnemite and Whismur into battle respectively, insisting on a double battle with Erik, Lady and Roller taking to the stage for their trainer.
Lady was bouncing around the battlefield on her tentacles, leaping from side to side with Roller making circle shapes around her. Erik knew they were trying to intimidate their opponents by showing how well they worked as a team, the Magnemite and Whismur static alongside one another clearly not as well trained.
The Magnemite made the first move of their fight, starting to charge an electrical blast at Lady. Erik’s Tentacool reacted quickly, letting out a supersonic sound wave before her opponent was finished which caused the electricity to overcharge, sending Ty’s Pokemon crashing into one of the rocks on the path. Ice barked in approval at Lady copying his tactic from the gym battle with Wattson’s Magneton.
Roller instantly chased after the crashed Magnemite, grabbing the rock it had smashed into and slamming it down on the Pokemon. Gabby’s Whismur moved to save his ally, before Lady copied Leaf’s trick next, sending pheromones into the air and causing her foe to temporarily fall in love with the Tentacool.
Magnemite took advantage of Roller momentarily stopping his attacks, the stone Erik’s Pokemon was using to beat his opponent which had split in half, leaving the poison-type having to look around for another weapon, the Gulpin knowing that his poisonous attacks would have no effect. The Magnemite began charging for an electrical attack whilst Roller was distracted.
Lady immediately saw the event unfolding, sending out another soundwave, but this time the supersonic attack didn’t have the intended effect; the Magnemite overcharged, but instead of damaging itself, the Pokemon emitted a wave of electrical power, the supercharged attack hitting Lady and paralysed her. Roller only just managed to spin out of the way.
Whismur growled in anger, turning on the Magnemite and pummelling the steel Pokemon relentlessly.
“What are you doing?!” screamed Gabby.
“Avenging his loved one,” Erik replied with a smirk, as the Magnemite was knocked unconscious.
Gabby’s Whismur span around to check on Lady, but was hit by a pulse of water from his new love, along with a blast of poison from Roller. Both attacks slammed her back into the boulder his trainer was originally hiding behind, knocking her unconscious next to her comrade. Roller moved over the the Magnemite to finish it off, with Lady doing the same to the Whismur.
“Stop!” commanded Erik, before he turned to the two news reporters. “You guys going to hold up your end of the deal?!”
“Ty, you know what to do..” Gabby turned to her friend despondently, the cameraman fiddling around with some of the buttons on his device.
“There we go, all clips of you have been deleted,” he said to Erik.
“Good, now tell me why you are really following me.”
“Our editor wanted to set you up as the bad guy,” Ty answered, looking shaken. He glanced at his Magnemite each time he spoke. “We wanted to get trainers who wanted to do good to home in on you as payback for messing our editor about, we were only doing what we were told, I promise!”
“Why is he trying to take me out?”
“You angered him,” Gabby took over, her self-confidence now as fragile as her Whismur. “You’ve made an enemy out of him.”
“All I did was ask a few questions,” Erik complained.
“The wrong questions,” Gabby responded instantly, causing Erik to think the editor must have been part of Magma, or maybe one of the corrupt officials? Or both? Or maybe neither, he couldn’t be sure, but he was definitely bad news.
“Leave,” Erik instructed the two reporters, as he recalled his Pokemon into their Pokeballs, his head aching from the thoughts circling his brain. It seemed to him that everyone was against him, all part of some huge conspiracy.
“You’ve got to stop making so many enemies,” he thought to himself, before being hit by a revelation. “My anger just pushes people away, this conspiracy doesn’t exist, it’s me being paranoid, this is all due to my actions. Even May and Wally have fallen away.”
A raging sandstorm buffeted Erik’s advances, the sand being whipped into his eyes by howling wins, temporarily blinding him as he attempted to cross the desert. He knew on the other side there was a mountain path or cave in which he could easily ascend Mt Chimney, whereas if he tried going up the volcano from the south side he would be forced to climb up a treacherous mountain pass, filled with jagged rocks and unstable surfaces.
His journey through Route 111 after battling with Gabby and Ty was eventful, filled with trainers wishing to battle him to toughen their Pokemon for either traversing the mountain or the desert.
A lady named Irene sent out both a Plusle and Minun, requesting a double battle with Erik who had sent out Ice and was reaching for Leaf’s Pokeball before the Mightyena shunned the support and took the two electric-typed Pokemon down on his own.
Emory was next, the gentleman’s Tailow ripped from the air by Ice’s cold fangs, the icy move strong against the flying-type. Finally, Travis’s Sandshrew was destroyed by Leaf, who used the same tactics as she did in the gym, attracting the foe before sending it to sleep then poisoning it.
The sand continued pounding against Erik, he had lost his vision but continued trudging on regardless, slowly moving one foot in front of the other to attempt to carrying on pushing his way through the storm. One such step was interrupted by a rock, he tripped and fell onto the floor. Erik picked himself up, before walking straight into a cliff face.
He walked for what seemed like a further fifteen minutes, one arm across his face to shield his eyes, the other stretched in front of him to feel for any obstacles in his path. The storm was getting weaker and weaker with every step, he knew he had nearly reached the exit of the desert.
A couple of minutes later and the storm had stopped completely. Erik rubbed his eyes to get any sand out before opening them, the desert was behind him. He peered from side to side to realise that he was where he had started, he must have circled back accidentally trying to avoid any cliffs or boulders in his path. The desert route was inaccessible, he knew that he and his team must now try crossing through the hazardous mountain pass.
Roller smashed into another rock, clearing it out of Erik’s path as they made their way up the mountain. Like when they were in the desert, the rest of his team were in their Pokeballs, Erik deciding that they were safer in there, as well as the fact that if too much weight was placed on the unstable ground it could fall from underneath them.
Roller crashed into another rock, the object exploding into a million pieces upon contact, allowing Erik to walk through unhindered. After a few more steps another rock lay in their path, this one slightly more orange in colour and smaller than usual. The Gulpin carefully rolled up to it before attempting to smash into it, the rock moving out the way just in time.
The rock blasted fire at its aggressor, Erik’s Pokemon leaping out of the way. Erik noticed that the rock was, infact, a Numel; the fire Pokemon angry at being disturbed and ramming Roller until the Pokemon nearly fell off the cliff edge. The Numel had Roller exactly where it wanted him, and began charging once more before slowing down suddenly, Leaf had released sleep gas into the air. Erik threw a great ball at the now sleeping Numel, capturing the wild Pokemon. The ball disappeared into storage the instant the new member of his team was secured in its new home, before Erik decided to call his new capture, “Rocky”.
Night was closing in, and the mountain would be impossible to scale in darkness. Roller found a small cave for him and his trainer to spend the night in, Erik releasing his team from their homes allowing them all to spend the night together.
“Come on Dancer, huddle around the warmth,” Erik spoke to his Pikachu, who was lying away from the rest of the group.
Leaf had released small puffs of powder into the air for Blaze to set aflame, the minute flames giving the team a slight warmth through the chilly night.
Erik realised his pleas to Dancer were in vain. She may be willing to be part of their adventure, but not yet ready to be part of the team. Lady was back inside her Pokeball, unhappy at sleeping in a dark, dank cave, but Ice and Blaze lay side by side, with Leaf and Roller cuddled up to Erik as they slept.
“Tomorrow, we ascend and take down Magma,” Erik promised his team.
The morning sun pierced through the darkness of the night, the sky removing its black cloak and becoming pale blue with a reddish tint, the mountain pass now dimly lit.
Erik recalled his team into their Pokeballs, all except Roller who began smashing rocks once more, the ascent a lot easier this time with him nearing a flat area in which the cable car station made its home.
After another twenty minutes of climbing, Blaze hauled Erik up a cliff, the trainer grabbing onto the top and using his arms to lift himself up onto the flat surface, before recalling his Combusken into the Pokeball. He turned to see the cable car station to his right, with a cave entrance to his left.
“That must be fiery path to my left, a clear walkway downwards to the northern edge of the desert,” he thought to himself.
The cable car station was an unremarkable building consisting of two floors, the second of which was lined with large open windows, the lower floor had no windows however, but did contain a single metal door; which was slammed shut and unresponsive to Erik attempting to push it aside. He realised that the door must have been bolted shut from the other side, and with no first floor windows he made his way to have a look to either side of the station for another entrance.
The western side was completely made up of a huge rock face, with the cable car lines ascending up it all the way to the peak, whereas the eastern side was the opposite, a sharp edge with a long drop to the surface if someone managed to fall off. He released his team from their Pokeballs.
“We need to blast through this door,” he informed them, “I’ll try knocking to see if anyone friendly is inside first, if not, everyone attack it with ranged attacks at the same time.”
Erik proceeded with the plan, thumping the door three times. His fist banging against the steel made a powerful noise, sure to alert anyone residing within the station.
“Who is-” a voice floated down from one of the open windows, Erik looking up to see a familiar figure staring him in the face – it was Grant.
“Everyone! He’s at the door, the guy I told you about!” Grant shouted, to which four more faces appear at the windows looking down on the trainer that had embarrassed their comrade twice before.
In unison, the five Team Magma members sent out Numels, instructing their creatures to blast at Erik and his team with fire. A total of eight of the rock-like Pokemon began shooting bursts of flame towards the group.
“Retreat to the cave!” Erik commanded his group, the seven of them running off towards the cave together, being split up into smaller teams as they dodged the flame blasts, Leaf was separated from the rest of them, along with her trainer.
A blast landed directly in front of Erik, causing him to stop in his tracks, and see another flame burst heading straight for him, he closed his eyes and heard a small scream.
Leaf had dived in front and saved her trainer, rocketing towards the edge of the cliff. Erik reacted rapidly and flew forwards, catching the Oddish with outstretched arms, holding her over the drop below, she was weak but alive.
The two looked back to see another trail of roaring fire heading towards them, seemingly in slow motion. Leaf glanced at Erik for a short moment that seemed to last a lifetime; the trainer catching her eyes full of sorrow, the Pokemon thankful for Erik giving her a chance. Leaf leapt out of Erik’s hands towards the flame, moving to sacrifice herself so that her trainer could get away.
Erik’s vision blurred, a bright white light half-blinding him, absorbing waves of fire blasts from the eight Numels in the building. Seconds slowly passed as Erik’s vision returned in full, a Gloom now standing in front of him; Oddish had evolved. More fire rained down upon them, but they were cut out by a jet of water, the Marshtomp that shot it strolling up and launching water at each window, causing the Numels to be thrown backwards.
“Over here!” May screamed over from the cave entrance.
Erik complied, grabbing Leaf and sprinting into the cover of the cave.
Heat filled the cave like an oven, a passage through a volcano leading downwards to the surface. Erik and May stood side by side at the summit of the pathway.
“What are you doing here?” Erik enquired, still shocked at May’s sudden appearance.
“Not even a thank you?” May whined. “I was in the desert doing some research on what types of Pokemon live there. I left yesterday evening and heard a news report about you going to join Team Magma and thought I’d go see for myself if it’s true the next morning. I can see that it’s not, however.”
“Gabby and Ty must have aired the show about me!” Erik exclaimed aloud.
“Yep,” May responded, “you’re all over the news.”
“What are they saying?” Erik’s heart rate increased as rapidly as his mood dropped.
“That you’ve been a thorn in the side of the authorities for a while with your vile deeds to get back at your father, and you’re looking to join Team Magma to get at him even more, they are saying they are looking into reasons for so many trainers joining the gang and you are a specific case study,” May replied matter-of-factly.
“It’s because I demanded information from their editor,” Erik sighed, “now they’re out for blood.”
“Stupid boy,” May snapped, “do you have to start fights everywhere you go?!” She turned to view Dancer, the Pikachu still accompanied Erik. “So you still haven’t returned her, you disgust me sometimes.”
“Dancer is happy now,” Erik insisted, Dancer half-smiling in response. It wasn’t the full truth, but his Pikachu was certainly a lot happier than she once was. “How did you manage to study in the desert anyway? I tried passing through yesterday and there was a huge sandstorm,” he added.
“I was wearing my goggles to protect my eyes from the storm. Well there’s a second reason I came up to see you,” May continued, tone suddenly changing into a more sweet voice. “I haven’t forgiven you, but I’d like your help. Magma are planning something in Fallabor, I’m off to see Professor Cozmo there for more information, their base in the mountain can wait for now, Erik.”
“Of course I’ll come with you,” Erik responded instantly without thinking, delighted at the proposal.
May handed Erik six potions, one for each member of his team to heal their wounds.
“Here,” she said as she did so, “you’ll want to go to Lavaridge after all this, it’s on top of the mountain and houses the fourth gym. I asked you because I know deep down you’re a good guy, and also the strongest trainer I’ve ever met.” A nervous smile spread across her face. Erik was unsure what the smile indicated, if anything, but thanked her for the items and the information.
“Wait, how do you know about their plot in Fallabor?” he blurted.
“None of your business,” she snapped again, before turning on her heel and beginning her descent down the pathway. “And I don’t want you to come with me, I’ll meet you there. Don’t try and follow me, my bike is outside so you won’t be able to catch up.”
He watched her as she made her way down, annoyed at himself as he always was after an encounter with May. There was always something he could’ve said, or not have said.
Erik sat with his Pokemon at the end of the slope, just before where the cave exited onto the northern section of Route 111. He applied a potion to each of their wounds, also leaving a pile of berries he had picked off bushes on the southern section of the route he was about to enter onto.
Dancer delicately grabbed a berry, nibbling on the skin before handing the remainder to Roller who gulped it down without a seconds hesitation. The Pikachu went to grab another before having it stolen out of her grip, the smell the thief emitted causing her to back off massively, almost running halfway back up the slope.
The wild Koffing ate another berry, and another, none of Erik’s team wanting to go near it due to the stench that came out of the creature. Erik grabbed a great ball out of his bag and threw it at the Koffing, the device ricocheting off the poison-type and opened up to suck the wild Pokemon inside.
“Welcome to the team, Glutton,” Erik laughed, before the great ball disappeared into storage alongside Rocky, the rest of his team gathering back around the berries after the stench vanished along with the Koffing.
Route 111 stretched out before them, and after that lay Route 113, a path covered in long grass and volcanic ash which acted to link the former route to Fallabor Town.
“Right, May has healed us all up,” Erik looked at each of his team as he spoke. “There is still a long way to go to Fallabor, and there are most definitely going to be people training their Pokemon, and even people coming after us specifically. Are you ready for the challenge?”
All six of his Pokemon roared in unison, Erik span on his heel and began the trek to Fallabor Town, to Team Magma, to May.