Chapter Eight – City of Glass
This was not what Erik had expected. The trainer from Kanto arrived at Mauville city with the dark of night creeping in, anticipating the city to be similar in style to Rustboro or Petalburg. Instead, Mauville comprised of a single glass building, so large it made Erik feel like an insect, small and insignificant in stature compared to the gargantuan construction.
Erik tried peering through the glass walls of the city, but was unable to see through the opaque walls, instead finding himself staring at his own reflection; his pale skin covered in dirt from the route he had just travelled. Adjusting his cap and wiping some of the dirt off of his brow, Erik made his way through the sliding doors and into the city.
“I want to challenge the gym leader,” a green-haired teenager said to the balding man next to him, the man looked to be in his forties, wearing a cream-coloured jacket and blue jeans.
“You are nowhere near ready to challenge,” the man responded, the two having the debate just metres from the doorway in which Erik had entered, “and as your uncle, I will not allow it until you are ready.”
“You can’t tell me what to do!” the boy squealed, storming off further into the city.
“Wally!” the uncle shouted as he chased after his nephew, “wait!”
Erik hadn’t been noticed by either of the two, but decided to follow them anyway; the gym was his destination too, after all. Looking ahead he saw a bicycle rink and a restaurant, as well as another set of sliding doors further down the hallway, looking to lead to the outside.
As he ventured through the large glass doors, Erik noticed that the city was actually designed to be a huge shopping mall, which emerged into a large courtyard which occupied the centre, an open sky above. From here Erik could see a garden on the roof of the city where electrical pylons arose, reaching out and touching the sky.
The city had three layers: the ground floor was topped by apartments with hotel suites on the first floor, where the residents of the city lived. Erik knew that Mauville was directly on a crossroads of four different routes, Routes 110, 111, 117 and 118 all met up with Mauville, leading to the city having many travellers staying at it’s hotels.
Erik proceeded through the courtyard, a Pokemon centre and mart on either side of another set of sliding glass doors, which opened for Erik as he walked up to them. In front of him now was both Mauville’s electric-typed gym, and Wally.
“Hey Wally, you challenging the gym too?” Erik kept his tone calm and kind, he knew that the boy he now spoke to was of a weak constitution.
“I want to, but I don’t know if I am strong enough,” Wally replied, he was still frail and shaky, but looked significantly better than when Erik first encountered him in Petalburg city.
“How did you manage to defeat the first two gyms if you aren’t strong enough?”
“Some stranger handed me a Stone badge, I don’t know why, he just did. The second gym was easy because my Ralts’s psychic abilities are super effective against the fighting types.”
“Wait,” Erik was taken aback, “you were just handed a Stone badge? Magma was making people fight for them?”
“I know they were, but one of them just came up to me and smiled whilst handing me one, he even knew my name!” Wally seemed happy with the incident, a smile lighting up his frail face.
“Very odd,” Erik pondered for a moment before continuing, “Well my Pokemon need training before the gym, I’ve lost enough in battle with leaders and would this time like to make sure my team is strong enough, would you like to train with me?”
“What would we do?” Wally replied instantly, he seemed nervous at the suggestion.
“The city is located right in the middle of four routes, I have just traversed one of them but we could easily train along the other three, starting tomorrow?”
“Okay! That sounds good Erik.” The boy noticeably relaxed, likely thinking that Erik wanted to battle him before.
“Thank you, sir,” Wally’s uncle spoke to Erik, “make sure my nephew is ready to take on this gym, I can’t have him losing the Ralts he holds so dear.”
“I want to take you back Dancer, I really do.” Erik sighed as he spoke to his Pikachu, who was slouched in the hotel room corner eating a bowl of berries.
Erik had taken his team to one of the hotels in the city, using money he had won from his battle with Brawly to pay for a three-night stay. The staff at the hotel had even provided Erik with a large bowl of water for Lady to sleep in, so that she could spend the night with the team.
Blaze and Roller were already asleep on the floor, Ice was attempting to sleep but Ninja was in one of his annoying moods, buzzing constantly around the Poochyena to wind him up. Erik crawled out of the bed and crouched down next to Dancer in the corner of the room.
“The next gym is an electric user gym. Lady is weak to it, Ninja strong against electrical attacks, the other three are neither weak nor strong,” he began, but Dancer continued chewing on the berries looking uninterested, “if you do not wish to fight you do not have to, but being an electric type yourself would be a big advantage for us, their attacks will be absorbed by you and you can use your dance moves and speed to attack them back with fists.”
Dancer looked repulsed by the thought she might have to battle, and Erik was close to giving up. On one hand he was delighted he had gotten a free Pikachu, the Pokemon was unregistered before so there was really no consequence to taking her for himself. But the other side of the coin was that Dancer was unhappy, May was upset, and all of it was causing Erik to become disillusioned. He couldn’t bring himself to go back to the contest hall and face up to what he had done, and he would never abandon a Pokemon into the wild, he was lost.
Erik’s thoughts were interrupted by Ice barking at Ninja, the Poochyena had begun chasing the Nincada around the room but Ninja was far too quick and agile for Ice to catch. The hound-like Pokemon came over to Dancer and nudged her with his nose, asking for her help, to which the Pikachu was delighted to have a chance to showcase her agility and moves.
Dancer picked up the bowl of berries with her paws and handed them to Erik, then bolted after Ninja. The Nincada was slightly faster but Dancer more agile, a quick turn on the spot enabling her to tackle the bug Pokemon softly to the ground, Erik’s laughter filled the room, waking both Roller and Blaze.
The lake stretched out in front of Erik, Lady bobbing up and down as she swam at pace, attempting to strengthen herself for the task ahead – to carry her trainer across the water. The river split Route 118 in half, located at the bottom of the rocky cliffs that linked Mauville city to the water’s edge, on the other side of the lake was fresh grass and steep hills which according to the map on Erik’s Pokenav, led to huge pathways of varied terrain in which he could train his Pokemon.
Blaze was jogging back and forth along the rocky route, alongside Wally and his Ralts, with Dancer sunbathing on the side of the lake, getting the occasional splash of water from swimming Pokemon which cooled her down underneath the baking mid-afternoon sun. Ninja, Roller and Ice were all inside their Pokeballs after battling with other trainers throughout the day.
First, a woman picking flowers had decided to challenge Erik to a fight, but her Oddish and Roselia were easily taken down by Ice’s cold fangs, his frozen attacks strong against the grass-types, although the Poochyena’s was finished for the day afterwards as he had taken a few hits in the fighting. A fisherman challenged Erik next as he made his way down to the lakeside, his Carvanha taken down in a joint effort by Ninja and Roller, but the duo had trouble against a third trainer’s Magnemite. The electric Pokemon’s steel shell proving tough to break down, but luckily Blaze was on hand to save the day, melting the steel with fire.
“Lady,” Erik called out to the Tentacool who had been swimming from one edge of the river to the other all day, “let’s give this a try.”
Lady swam over, pushing herself forward through the water using her tentacles, she seemed unsure whether she would be able to carry her trainer on her back. Erik leaned down and smiled at her before patting his Pokemon on the head.
Erik lifted himself onto Lady, her head remaining barely above water. They took off slowly, the Tentacool clearly struggling with the weight of the trainer on her back, they had made it not even a quarter of the way before Lady began sinking, Erik tried clinging onto her but to no avail, he was going under too.
He let go, underneath the water’s surface his vision turned hazy, through the blur he could see all manner of Pokemon; hordes of Magikarp swam together in unison, with groups of Tentacool sleeping near the riverbed. “So Lady and Gu must have gone to sleep in these groups with their friends” Erik thought to himself, before snapping out of bewonderment when he realised he was drowning.
Lady moved to wrap her tentacles around Erik and try to drag him to the surface, but she wasn’t strong enough to do take him all the way, a wild Carvanha was heading for them, potentially seeing Erik as prey, it wasn’t unknown for the carnivorous Pokemon to attack humans. Lady tried moving more hastily, but the Carvanha was closing in rapidly, the wild Pokemon opened its jaws to reveal two rows of razor-sharp teeth, moving within inches before Erik felt a hand on him dragging him out of the river in the nick of time.
“Are you okay?” his saviour asked him, lime-green eyes brimming with concern.
“Just fancied a little swim,” Erik joked to Wally, also giving a nod to Lady, impressed she had managed to carry him almost all the way back to land.
The cacophony around Mauville food court was growing louder by the minute, Erik and Wally sat with their Pokemon around a table in the corner to relax after a long day of training, although relaxation was difficult when it seemed that every inhabitant of Mauville had chosen to have their dinner at the food court.
“Thanks again for saving me today Wally,” Erik thanked his friend, Blaze chirping in agreement from the stool next to his trainer.
“It’s okay, you’ve helped me so much I should be thanking you,” Wally replied, and now it was the Ralts sat next to him that chirped in agreement. Ninja, Roller, Lady and Dancer had already returned to the hotel room to sleep, but Ice was still with the two trainers, sat at the heel of his new friend Wally, hoping the green-haired trainer would feed him some more meat scraps. Ice and Wally had bonded earlier when the Poochyena saw his new friend pulling Erik from the lake, the dark type had stayed by Wally’s side since, as thanks for saving his trainer’s life.
“Poochyenas’ value strength,” Erik began, “and my Ice is no different, because he saw you saving me he now sees you as stronger than me,” Erik laughed as he said this, he knew that Ice was loyal to him even if he had a temporary obsession with Wally, “he also wants to protect you now as a thank you for saving his trainer, that’s why he is staying by your side.”
Wally laughed, stroking the Poochyena before a silence engulfed the two of them for a few minutes.
“We will train to the west, along Route 117 tomorrow, that connects Mauville to your uncle’s house in Vandenturf. Then the next day will be our final day, going north out of Mauville to Route 111,” Erik said, breaking the silence. Wally froze at the statement, looking uncomfortable.
“Erm..” the trainer stuttered in reply, “I do not wish to go along Route 111.”
“There is a house there, the Winstrate brothers live there together, four of them.”
“Who are the Winstrate brothers?”
“My childhood bullies, they made my life almost unbearable at trainer school.” Wally was extremely downbeat as he spoke about the past, continuing on to fill Erik in on everything that had happened to him at the school. After he finished, Erik made him a promise.
“Then that is our goal, to prove we can take on the gym we will defeat these Winstrates, together.”
Route 117 stretched out ahead of Erik and Wally, the dusty dirt road that connected Mauville city to Verdanturf town was flanked by tall grass and flower beds, where wild Pokemon roamed free undisturbed by humanity. Immediately to their right was a small house, with an accompanying garden crammed full of Pokemon.
“That’s the day care centre,” Wally informed Erik, seemingly reading his thoughts, “if you have a weak or young Pokemon that aren’t ready for battle yet, you can pay the centre to take care of that Pokemon and give it some basic training until it is battle ready.
“Interesting,” Erik thought aloud.
The two trainers began the day’s training. Roller was ordered to attempt to smash some rocks at the end of the route, to the side of Verdanturf tunnel, Lady was running up and down the route on her tentacles to try and boost her strength and speed outside of water. Ninja and Blaze were practising aerial moves, flying or hovering and then swooping down, whereas Ice and Ralts were running up and down the length of the dirt road. Even Dancer was practising, bored of sitting doing nothing she moved up to Roller and began blasting rocks with electricity.
Wally went ahead to join Ice and Ralts in their running, wanting to train himself as well as his Pokemon, leaving Erik alone with his thoughts.
The Kantonese trainer reflected on how far he had come, who he had lost to get this far, and how strong his team was now looking. He was sure that him and his Pokemon could now battle any challenge that awaited them.
Suddenly, an indigo coloured blob crashed into him, a ferocious looking wild Zigzagoon emerging from the grass after it. Erik lifted the blob up, seeing that it was in fact an Oddish who was under attack, the grass Pokemon leaping from Erik’s grasp and hiding behind him as the Zigzagoon went in for another attack.
Erik acted quickly, throwing some berries that he had saved for his own Pokemon’s lunch to the floor, which the Zigzagoon gratefully munched on, and then offering the wild Oddish a Pokeball to escape into.
“I’ve always wanted a grass type in my team,” Erik smiled as he held out the capsule, the Oddish happily accepting the escape route.
“Welcome to the team, Leaf,” he whispered to his newly caught Pokemon.
Evening was approaching, the sky turning crimson as the sun began setting for the day with a cold chill now taking to the air. Erik had deposited Leaf into the day care centre, he was almost certain that she was battle ready, but with his team already having six members he didn’t want to upset anyone by replacing them, especially now Dancer was taking part in the training.
Leaf seemed to be incredibly shy, and was nervous about leaving Erik in the day care centre until her trainer spoke some comforting words to her. She looked half-starved, evidently bullied out of any food she had found herself in the wild,
“Hopefully the day care centre would take good care of her,” Erik thought to himself.
Erik shut the curtains of the hotel room after staring into the evening sky, most of his team were already asleep after a long day’s training and he had left Wally to visit his uncle in Verdanturf town after seeing that the locale had a contest centre, not wanting to risk them identifying him and Dancer.
The Pikachu was asleep alongside her new friend Roller, the two having spent the day together smashing up rocks. Ninja, Blaze and Lady asleep in their respective floor-beds. Ice was still awake however, rubbing his head up against his trainer. The Poochyena was still loyal to him after all.
Erik left the room with Ice to take his time to further explore the huge city, now that he had some downtime after training before he and Wally left to challenge the Winstrate brothers to next day.
Both the east side and the west side of the glass metropolis were packed full of shops, ranging from Pokemon masseurs and hairdressers, to battle shops to cafes. The northern section of the city had a television studio, the gym, a “battle institute” where trainers could participate in mock battles with another, and a bicycle shop, in which Erik now stood.
“You heard me correctly,” the salesman assured Erik, “a bicycle has already been bought for you, although the purchaser didn’t leave a name.”
“What did he look like?” Erik asked
“Looked quite menacing but was actually rather friendly, brown hair, narrow dark eyes?”
“What was he wearing?”
“Black suit and trousers, purple undershirt, had a big red letter on his arm that I couldn’t see.”
Erik had no idea who the man could have been, but the shop assistant was certain that the bike had been purchased specifically for him, so he took it without further questions, chaining it up at the bicycle rink.
“What do you think, Ice?” Erik asked after clicking the bicycle lock he had gotten free with the bike into place, “who bought me this bike?”
Ice barked an unintelligible response, the Poochyena was walking about a lot more confidently than before, confidence returning and guilt disappearing.
“We should go to that TV studio, there are some questions I’d like to ask,” again, the Poochyena barked happily in response, as the two made their way to the home of Hoenn’s television network.
“So you refuse to tell me anything about the Mount Chimney base of Team Magma?” Erik spoke sharply to the news editor, who was wearing a white shirt with a tie striped in what seemed like every colour imaginable.
“We cannot reveal our sources, I’m sorry.”
“Okay, but have you heard any other news concerning Magma?” again, Erik asked sharply.
“There is a story we are about to run, and as you are so insistent I can give you a quick heads up before the report is broadcast in an hour? But only if you promise to leave me alone,” the editor said with a smile, clearly wanting to give Erik anything so the trainer would go away.
“Okay, tell me.”
“The authorities are setting up a police force in order to counter Magma and any other criminals in the region.”
“Okay that’s good, who are they recruiting into the force?” Erik asked, unsure on whether he could trust this new force after what Maxie had said about corrupted authorities.
“Reformed Magma members, who better to catch a criminal than a reformed criminal? They will be led by the deputy head of Hoenn security, let me just look up his name for you,” the editor began typing into his computer before continuing, “The Magma members that have been defeated in battle and had their licenses taken away are being given another chance, being given a police license instead.”
“That sounds idiotic. Surely these are bad men?” Erik inquired, Maxie’s words seeming to have more and more truth in them.
“The people in charge believe that they will be grateful for a second chance, knowing their enemies. Only the goons are reformed criminals though, the squad leaders are all reputable trainers, don’t worry. The new force, however, should be able to extinguish these goons forever, I guess that’s why they are calling the force, ‘Team Aqua’,” the editor chuckled, “Archie is the name of the leader of the force, will you leave me alone now?”
“One more thing,” Erik continued, the names Aqua and Archie meaning nothing to him, “who exactly are the authorities, I’ve never heard of any of them they just hide behind you media people.”
“You’ll have to find that out for yourself, boy,” snapped the editor, clearly fed up with the young trainer who asked many questions.
Erik and Ice decided to return to the hotel room for the night, ready to challenge the Winstrate bullies along with the gym the next day, alongside their new friend Wally.