Chapter Six – Storm on the Beach
“Team Magma increases dramatically in size,” blasted Erik’s Pokedex. The rookie trainer had tuned into the news after watching Gu’s body float away in the sea, the Tentacool’s remains bobbing up and down a few times before sinking beneath the watery surface, returning home.
“After the break-in at Rustboro gym, the criminal group have gotten their hands on all of the region’s Stone badges,” the reporter for ‘Region Round-Up’ continued, “the gang are currently going on recruitment drives all over the island, looking to bolster their numbers by handing out badges to willing trainer’s currently without one, who would otherwise have had their licenses’ taken away.”
“This is working out just the way they want it to,” Erik thought to himself, “someone linked with Magma must have a lot of influence.”
Ali led the team through one of the cave’s hidden passages. It was so narrow that Erik had to walk sideways in order to fit through it, carrying his bag by his side.
Brawley had informed them that Steven was indeed inside Granite cave, deep within the ruins. Upon returning to the cavern, Ali had taken the initiative and shown Erik a hidden pathway down to the deeper depths, the Makuhita knowing his home like the back of his own gloved hand.
Erik clambered out of the narrow passageway, to see himself arrive into a vast open space. It was like a huge chunk of rock had been taken out of the cave leaving this huge area, with four solid flat walls, three of which were plain.
The surface on the far side, however, contained what looked to be ancient drawings of one gigantic Pokemon that was shaped like a dinosaur, or some type of lizard, breathing fire. The creature had strange, horse-shoe shape symbols on each arm.
“Hello there,” a calm voice reached Erik, a kindness flowing through the words.
Erik’s eyes snapped to a man standing below the drawing, he hadn’t noticed him until he had spoken. The long, green haired gentleman wiped dust off his suit after he realised he had company.
“Steven, I presume?” Erik asked to which he got a cool nod in reply.
“This Pokemon on the wall here is ancient, possessing tremendous power. Rumours have surfaced that it is laying dormant somewhere here in Hoenn.”
“Hopefully it stays dormant,” Erik remarked, noticing the creatures destructive power as the drawings depicted it burning down a village, people running in all directions.
“Hopefully,” Steven echoed, “but there are those who believe capturing a Pokemon of this power would make them almost invincible.” Steven reached out and calmly took the letter from Erik’s hand. “From my father I presume, thank you. What is your name?”
“I’m Erik, your father asked me to deliver it for him.”
“It takes some man to be able to gain my father’s trust. How many badges do you have?” Steven had a confused expression on his face.
“Just won my second today.”
“To have only two badges, but my fathers trust. You must be a special trainer, Erik.” Steven strolled off as he spoke with a confident stride, “it was nice meeting you, Erik. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of each other soon.”
Peeko grabbed the package by it’s strapping out of a fellow Wingull’s beak. The flying Pokemon had flown directly towards her trainer and Erik as they sat motionless at Dewford docks, sitting on the deck of Briney’s cloud-white boat.
The sailor took the package, opening the note on top of it, before turning to Erik.
“The President has another favour to ask of you, Erik.”
“What this time?” Erik said dryly, feeling he was becoming a delivery boy for the owner of the Devon Corporation.
“This is the same package you took from that awful Magma member back in Rusturf tunnel, the President has asked you to deliver it to a man named Captain Stern, at Slateport docks.”
“Where’s Slateport?” Erik asked quizzically, and more importantly, he thought, what was in it for him?
“On the way to the third gym, which is in Mauville. The President realises to get to there you would have to go through Slateport anyway.”
“So there’s nothing in it for me? I’m just his delivery boy?” Erik snapped, which seemed to take his sailor friend aback.
“You can refuse if you want to,” Briney calmly spoke, “I assume we are docking at Slateport’s southern beach anyway, so I can take them if you wish?”
“No, it’s fine,” Erik sighed, “sorry for snapping. I will deliver these parts then I am done helping this man,” he finished, firmly.
The ocean pathway and warm sands of Slateport beach combined to create Route 109, allowing Erik to fish in the waters for a potential new addition to his party.
Asking Mr. Briney to stop the boat so he could do just that, Erik cast the fishing line off the edge of the yacht and into the deep blue sea. A Tentacool gracefully swam up to the line, taking the bait. Erik quickly reacted by lobbing a Pokeball, capturing the creature easily. He named her, “Lady” for how graceful she was, before they carried on until the boat collided into the soft sands of the beach.
Departing the boat, Erik could see Slateport city in the distance. A huge metropolis of tall buildings, bright lights and noise loomed over the beach. In front of him were deck chairs and umbrellas, which were hung low, blocking his view of the rest of the beach.
The baking hot sun beat down through a clear blue sky with the salty smell of the sea filling Erik’s lungs as he moved forwards. Strangely, the sound of Pokemon battles reverberated around his ears.
“I guess the beach is a popular training zone,” he thought to himself, before pushing a umbrella to the side to reveal the entirety of the beach.
It was a war zone.
Deck chairs were upended. Scorch marks filled the sand, some still smoking. Everywhere Erik looked, battles were raging. But they were not friendly training battles, instead full-on fights between Pokemon relentless urged on by their trainers.
A bulky man who looked like a sailor sighted Erik and bolted over to him.
“You!” he stormed, “I challenge you!”
“What’s going on here?” Erik inquired, the man’s skin-tight white outfit drenched with sweat as he replied.
“Noone on this beach has a badge, this is our last chance for one,” he growled, desperation clearly overcoming him.
“What do you mean?” Erik continued.
“Mr.Sea is in possession of five Stone badges, the last five trainers standing are all invited to his hut over there to receive one,” the sailor pointed as he spoke, Erik following the finger to a wooden sand bar in the far corner of the beach.
“How is the ‘competition’ so popular, the announcement has just been passed and badges stolen only yesterday?”
“It’s been planned for a week now, from even before the announcement banning trainers. And to get myself a badge I am going to take you out of the competition!”
The sailor’s Machop was to be Blaze’s opponent.
A wild swing by the fighting Pokemon took Blaze off guard, catching him in the jaw and sending him backwards. A roar of flame shooting into the air harmlessly having been smacked out of Blaze’s mouth. Machop followed in with another wild lash, but Blaze rolled over causing the fist to land softly in the sand. Erik’s Torchic blasted another wave of fire, engulfing the Machop in flames, who managed to get another blow into Blaze’s chest before being consumed by the inferno.
Blaze slouched weakly to the floor, as Ali strutted over to comfort him.
Erik looked up to see a young trainer giving him a look, the boy’s Zigzagoon winning him a battle against another teenaged fighter.
“Hey, I’ve already won two battles today, you’re next!” the boy shouted over, as his Zigzagoon rushed at Ali.
As the Makuhita went to use his fighting type advantage on the normal typed Pokemon, the Zigzagoon kicked up a mass of sand, blinding Erik’s warrior. Through the mist of sand, Ali was blind to his opponent flying through and headbutting him, followed by a wild scratch with sharp claws. As the Zigzagoon went in for what looked like the finishing blow, Ali grabbed the creature by it’s fur, slamming blow after blow into it and etching out a narrow victory.
“Hey, leave my brother’s Zigzagoon alone!” came the cry from another child trainer, a young female with dark eyes. “My Azumarill will finish your Pokemon off whilst they are weak.” she declared, flicking her even darker hair from her face.
Ninja zoomed out, darting from side to side and using Zigzagoons trick of kicking up sand to try to blind his foe. The opposing Pokemon recoiled but managed to summon a mountain of water at the Nincada. Ninja was almost washed away, before Ice leapt in. Erik’s Poochyena’s icy bite was ineffective against the Azumarill’s watery surface.
Blinded by sand, the young girl’s Pokemon missed with water blasts and wild swipes whilst Ice kept his fangs in a tight lock on his foe.
“Do it for your master!” the girl shouted, who’s Pokemon responded to her by grabbing Ice and slamming the Poochyena into the ground. “Yay!” came a childish squeal, “the sand may be soft but my Azzy is strong!”
Ice struggled to get back up, the Azumarill preparing for a final blow, until Ziggy saved the Pokemon who had once tormented her, ramming into the Azumarill with a voracious headbutt
Ice stumbled along the beach, heading straight for the beach house. The Poochyena’s trainer deciding he wanted to stop this madness.
“This is Magma’s doing,” Erik informed his team, “Lady looks too weak to battle, she needs training,” he said about his newly captured Tentacool, who was off swimming. Like Gu, she seemed to prefer swimming in the ocean to the company of her new companions. Erik turned to Ziggy, “you’re the only one who’s fit enough to fight,” he said sadly.
Ice barked a reply.
“Okay,” Erik chuckled, “you too,” Ruffling the Poochyena’s fur as he spoke.
As Erik put his hand on the hut’s crimson red door, another sailor shouted from behind him.
“Hey kid!” the man’s voice deep and vicious. “You think you’re worthy of that badge? Prove it.”
“I’m not trying for the badg..” Erik started before the big sailor interrupted.
“Of course you’re not. Liar.” The man threw a Pokeball, a Wingull coming out of the spherical mechanism.
Ice stepped up, wanting to prove to Erik that he could still be relied upon.
The Wingull shot out a blast of water, to which Ice leapt over and jumped onto the flying creature, his fangs gripping into the Wingull and taking it out of the air. As the two of them crashed to the surface, the Wingull was the one who took the brunt of the fall. Ice quickly finished it off.
The sailor threw his other Pokeball, a Machop coming out this time.
“Ice come back!” Erik shouted, both Ice and Ziggy were weak to fighting Pokemon so he would have to use the weakened Blaze or Ali.
Blaze put himself forward, hobbling weakly onto the battlefield.
The Torchic knew his trainer once again needed him, so he would have to be at the top of his game. A long, drawn out fight ensued with Blaze managing to apply the final blow, but was now unable to stand. Ali weakly strode over and gave the Torchic an arm in support.
They all entered the beach house together.
The entire hut consisted of a single room. It was infact, a small cafe, with the tables turned over. Behind a counter at the far end of the room was an aging man in a black suit, what little hair he had left made up a white beard. Large front teeth completing the goat-like look.
“You are my five winners!” Mr.Sea announced, a whistling sound accompanying his every word. Erik realised he was stood in the room with four other trainers.
“No fair!” shouted a child trainer, who still wore a rubber ring around his waist. “Those two are your bodyguards, they haven’t even beaten anyone!”
A woman in her mid-twenties echoed the child’s sentiments, “I agree with Simon, this is completely unfair.”
Mr. Sea just laughed, until Erik shouted, his voice causing the rest of the room’s occupants to turn around.
“You’re just a puppet for Team Magma,” the trainer from Kanto started, “you are looking to boost your ranks with trainers who have no other choice but to battle for those badges.” A stunned silence momentarily engulfed the room.
“Whoever takes this trainer down gets his badge. To give to a friend!” the bald man announced, to which Simon and the woman turned to Erik eagerly, the boy throwing out an Azurill.
Ziggy charged in before any other member of Erik’s team could react, knowing she was the only one fit enough to fight.
“She’s come such a long way,” Erik thought proudly to himself, a smile appearing on his face. “Ziggy!” he called out, “Let’s do this!”
Ziggy purred in response before ramming into the Azurill with her head, using the same technique she had seen another Zigzagoon use back on the beach. The water Pokemon responded by blasting bubbles filled with acidic liquid at it’s opponent.
The fight lasted a couple of minutes, both Pokemon going back and forth with the same moves. Erik’s Pokemon managed to grind out a victory but she was now as battle worn and injured as the rest of the party.
A Goldeen shot through the air, straight at Ziggy. The water Pokemon seemed to float, flapping her tail rapidly in order to propel itself.
Ice jumped in, returning the favour from earlier and saving Ziggy’s life. Ice was clearly struggling, barely managing to muster the strength in order to do so.
Erik’s Poochyena bared his fangs at the Goldeen, the fish Pokemon responded by blasting water straight at Ice.
Ziggy struggled back to her feet, trying to gather enough strength to save Ice once again, but failed.
Ice closed his eyes as the blast hit Erik’s weakened Pokemon straight on. But Ice felt nothing.
The Poochyena opened to eyes to see Ali in front of him, shielding him from a relentless stream of aqua. After the Goldeen stop firing to pause for breath, Ali collapsed.
The Makuhita had sacrificed himself to save Ice.
Full of primal rage, Ice tried to get to his feet so he could retaliate, but was unable to stand. The Goldeen inhaled breath in preparation for the finishing blast of water, but Ziggy rammed into the side of it.
With a wink to Ice, the Zigzagoon slumped to the floor, exhausted.
Ali was gone. Ziggy, Ice and Blaze were slumped on the floor, too weak to move. Ninja was the only one still standing, barely. Erik’s last hope feebly pushing himself forward to meet the two bodyguards who were now slowly approaching.
Erik knew his team wouldn’t last, this was the end of his journey, he knew.
“Why didn’t I leave the situation be. I didn’t have to be the hero and take down the bad guy here,” he sighed, as the first of the bulky duo sent out a Poochyena.
Ninja buzzed and began moving through the air rapidly. He managed to use his speed to his advantage, landing on top of the Poochyena before digging knife-like claws into his foe’s back, sapping the life out of it.
Erik could see that his Nincada had used the last of his energy doing so, but Ninja had won him the fight, or so he had thought.
Ninja leapt off from the back of the defeated Poochyena, to be faced by a charging Carvanha. The first bodyguard had instantly sent out his other Pokemon, attempting to take down Ninja whilst he was distracted.
The Carvanha was closing in, surrounded by a jet of water.
“No, Ziggy, wait!” Erik shouted, as his Zigzagoon pushed herself to her feet, striving to rescue Ninja.
Instead of the Nincada taking the blow, the Carvanha rocketed straight into Ziggy. Her winning momentum had failed her, she had been too weak to withstand the impact.
Ziggy’s lifeless body slammed against the wall, before slumping to the floor. Erik’s eyes flicked back to Ninja, the battle was still going on and he could feel his journey coming to it’s conclusion.
That wasn’t what hurt the most. What was destroying Erik was the fact that he had made some good friends, who all fought for each other and himself, and these friends were now falling one by one to Magma’s puppet, Mr.Sea.
The Carvanha readied itself to charge again at Ninja, the predatory creature preparing to finish off the bug Pokemon.
As the bodyguard’s Pokemon opened it’s jaws to eat the Nincada alive, it was crushed by a flaming table.
Blaze had used the last of his energy to set a table on fire, Ice using the last of his own to charge into it, sending it crashing into the Carvanha.
“He’s all yours, Dwayne,” the defeated bodyguard said to his colleague.
“Cheers mate,” Dwayne followed, his rough voice beset by a thick accent, “his three remaining Pokemon, the Torchic, Poochyena and Nincada, are all pretty much dead anyway. This won’t be a problem.”
As Erik studied his team, he saw the bodyguard’s words rang true. None of the three could stand and Lady was off swimming in the ocean, she wouldn’t be here anytime soon.
Dwayne sent out a Tentacool of his own, the creature charging straight for Blaze. Erik’s Torchic was too weak to defend himself so sat there unable to get out of the way, Ninja and Ice were too weak to jump in and save him.
“Blaze,” Erik shouted, “I need you now more than ever. Please, PLEASE, don’t die.”
Erik felt tears streaming down his face as he continued, “remember String, Speedy, Bunny, Gully, Gu, Ali, Ziggy. Don’t let their deaths be for nothing. Keep going. Please,” Erik shouted through an ocean of tears, as he mentioned each of his fallen Pokemon their faces came into his mind, all of them had sacrificed themselves to help him get where he was today. And now he was about to lose everything.
A bright white light suddenly engulfed Blaze. The Tentacool ramming straight into the shining beacon, and Erik’s Torchic was gone.
Dwayne’s Pokemon flew through the air and landed right by him, the bodyguards Machop charging in to be met with a double kick by the newly evolved Combusken. Once again, when Erik had needed saving most, Blaze came through for him. The fighting fire beast that had emerged from the bright light stormed up to Mr.Sea and grabbed him, tall enough to be standing face to face with the man.
The newly evolved Combusken shared Torchic’s bright yellow and orange feathers, but had grown from a small chicken into a fully formed animal.
Erik ran over to Mr.Sea who was now pinned up against the wall by Blaze.
“Why are you doing this?!” Erik demanded, he could feel his voice straining as rage flowed through it.
“Pl..Please,” Mr.Sea pleaded, eyes fixed on Blaze who looked ready to burn him to a crisp.
“You’re working for Magma aren’t you? Whats the plan?”
“Out with it!” Erik roared, Blaze screeching in tune with his trainer.
“It was for my son, he’s only just started his journey,” the man looked set to burst into tears, his body shaking furiously through his fear. “Magma said they’d give him a badge if I held a little competition.”
“What would have happened to the five victors?”
“Maxie is in town, the five would have gone for a talk with him to collect their badges and be persuaded to join the gang.”
“Maxie?” Erik asked quizzically, he hadn’t heard the name before.
“The leader of Magma. He’s heading to Slateport on a secret mission.”
“What mission?” Erik growled.
“Please. I don’t know, I’ve told you everything.”
Erik told his word and left the man slumped on the floor, a shaken mess.
Blaze stood at a height with Erik as they looked around Slateport. Ice and Ninja hobbled up alongside them. Lady now with them in her Pokeball.
The city was huge, on the right hand side huge waves crashed against the shore from the vast ocean that neighboured Slateport. Bordering the sea was a shipyard, museum and harbour, each of which was bustling with activity.
A housing district took up the centre of the city, containing shops and a Pokemon centre within it. The famous Slateport market resided to the left, tents and canopies abundant as Erik saw goods of all types being sold, from incense to dolls to herbal remedies.
Nothing there piqued Erik’s interest however, he had a task to fulfil.
“Stern? He’ll at the the museum,” a bald man named Dock had informed Erik as he’d entered the shipyard enquiring for the captain.
A huge overpass loomed overhead, Erik stood on Route 110 which lay to the north of Slateport, hoping to add another member to his team. He decided that President Stone’s favour could wait a little longer whilst he caught a new Pokemon.
Route 110 connected Slateport to Mauville city. The grassy terrain lay above a large lake, and was a common training spot for trainers looking to challenge the third gym. Overlooking the route was a huge overpass, known as the “Cycling Road.” Many used the bicycle-only pathway to avoid Pokemon or get between the two cities quickly.
Erik went into the long grass in hope of finding a new partner.
Instantly, a green blob rolled past him, grabbing the berry Erik had picked from a tree as he’d entered the route out of Ice’s paw and eating it herself.
The Poochyena growled, rearing up and baring his fangs after having been only just healed at the Pokemon centre, but Erik called him off. Instead the trainer threw a Pokeball and captured the Gulpin, naming it “Roller.”
Blaze cried out.
A group of people dressed in full body crimson robes darted past and were headed straight for Slateport, Erik let them get a head start in order to follow them discretely.
As they re-entered the city, Erik and his team saw the group of Magma members join up with another, the expanded group then entering the museum.