Chapter Twelve – Team Up
Erik looked around the cabin, sunlight crept in through the cracks in the wooden planks that made up the hut, informing him that dawn had arrived.
The room he was lay in was mostly unchanged from the night before, apart from Blaze now lay upon the table where Lady was when he collapsed. The two men that lived here now were nowhere to be seen.
“Blaze,” he croaked, his hoarse voice swiftly followed by whooping coughs. His Combusken lay still, unanswering.
“Blaze!” he croaked louder, his voice feeling as if it were ripping his throat apart. Still, his Pokemon remained motionless.
Erik weakly clambered to his feet, feeling as if it took all of his remaining strength to do so, before he began stumbling over to the table. The room dimmed noticeably with each feeble step he took, as he barely managed to put one foot in front of the other. The sunlight poking its way into the hut evaporated, replaced by only darkness, the only illumination in the room coming from the table itself; Erik couldn’t see the source of the light but it managed to light the cabin singlehandedly.
“Blaze,” he whispered once more, before running his hand over his friend’s lifeless body. His Combusken had always been warm to the touch but all Erik felt now was cold, like his Pokemon’s body was made of ice.
“Please,” he pleaded, “please Blaze, no..”
Blaze’s eyes shot open, bloodstained, tired, but most of all, furious. The Pokemon opened his beak, and to Erik’s shock, words squeaked out.
“You killed me..” came a voice half squawk, half human. “You killed us..”
“You killed us..” another voice echoed, the door to the rear of the house bursting open to reveal Lady standing tall on her tentacles.
“No!” Erik shouted in disbelief. “NO!”
Erik awoke coughing and spluttering.
“Are you okay?!” an aging gentleman cried, shaking Erik. It took a couple of moments for Erik’s vision to return from to normal from the blur it was at first, for him to recognise the old man as the owner of the cabin.
“Blaze,” Erik whispered, his voice almost as hoarse as it was in his nightmare.
“Your Combusken is okay. We heard you shouting in your sleep, what happened?”
“Night..mare..” he croaked in response. Erik realised that he was lying on the wooden floor, with a blanket of straw covering him. Sunlight peeking through the cracks in the walls with Blaze resting on the table in the middle of the room, the whole scene seemed eerily familiar.
“We took the liberty of burying your Tentacool when the ash storm stopped,” the boy continued, before being interrupted by his father.
“You and your Combusken are lucky to be alive, bot-” the man’s words were cut out by a cry from Erik.
“Blaze is alive?!” he coughed, his intended shout sounding more like he was being strangled.
“Yes,” the man continued, noticeably irritated at being interrupted, “both of your airways were filled with soot, if either of you were out there any longer your lungs wouldn’t have been able to handle it. Your Tentacool’s lungs were only small, which is why hers couldn’t.”
“Has the.. ash.. gone..?” Erik croaked.
“Yep, a few hours after you collapsed it stopped; suffocated a raging fire too. No idea what kicked that up.” It was the boy’s turn to reply, his huge brown pupils staring directly at Erik.
“I’ll.. leave.. now..”
“No chance,” the old man replied sternly, “you need to get some food and water in you first, as do your Pokemon. Leave after breakfast once you’ve recovered some more of your strength.”
Erik was in no mood to argue. His dream had really shocked him, so he sat up in his makeshift bed without a word, ready to be served whatever the two men had prepared for breakfast.
With the taste of warm bread and butter still fresh in his mouth, Erik carefully made his way through the farmlands which resided besides Fallabor Town. He thought that the ash may choke the crops, rendering them unable to grow; but it seemed to have the opposite effect. Fields laced with grain and other vegetables looked to be thriving in the mixed weather conditions underneath the volcano.
Erik brushed aside a long stalk of grain, finding himself on the other side of the fields. His team all resting safely inside their Pokeballs after a berry breakfast appeased their spirits from the torment of the previous night.
“Erik!” came the squeal from across the town, May had spotted him instantly. “It’s a disaster, come quickly!”
She half-ran into the nearby house, which was slightly larger than the rest of the stone buildings littering the edge of the farmland. Erik sighted both a Pokemon centre and contest hall on his way, also spotting the odd flowerbed here and there through the dirt floor that covered the town, which was actually more of a small farming village.
Once he reached the house in the centre of town, Erik bumped his head off of the low door frame, underestimating just how low it was before stumbling into the home. Lab equipment and strange rocks could be seen all over the place, resting up against walls or lying on many small glass tables or the leather sofa.
“My husband!” shouted a small, plump lady who looked to be in her early fifties. “He’s been kidnapped by that team something or other, they were interested in the meteorite he was researching.”
“When was this, Mrs. Cozmo?” asked May in a sweet tone.
“In the early hours of this morning, they’ve been gone a good few hours now. You should’ve acted sooner May, he is your father’s best friend after all.” Erik noticed a sharpness in her tone that he did not like, but remained silent.
“I had to wait for Erik, I’m not strong enough to save him by myself,” she responded in the same sweet tone. “We will get your husband back here in one piece for you.”
“Good. They ran off towards meteor falls to the west.”
“Hold on,” Erik interrupted. His voice was a lot clearer now with it no longer hurting his throat with every word, thanks to the three glasses of water he gulped down at the cabin. “It will be safer for you to remain here with the professor’s wife,” he said to May.
“No way,” May snapped, “I’m coming with you, you always get the glory. Besides, Cozmo actually knows me, he might think you’re another member of Team Magma if he watched the television report on you.”
“Good point,” Erik conceded, as they both turned to leave the house.
Lisia and her Altaria locked eyes with Erik and Dancer, the Pikachu with her paw holding her trainer’s hand.
“Give that Pikachu back to us, Erik,” Lisia demanded. Erik and May had bumped into Lisia as she exited the contest hall, and with some ‘encouragement’ from May, Erik had released Dancer from her Pokeball in order to let her decide who she now went with.
“Dancer stays with me,” Erik replied, feeling the Pikachu’s grip on his hand tightening. “She wants to, we have come a long way together since you last saw her, Lisia.
“She belongs to Emma, not you,” came the retort.
“Dancer wishes to stay with me.” Erik was still shocked that his Pikachu chose to stay with him rather than march out to rejoin the contest hall. A huge surprise, but a pleasant one.
“I was against Erik keeping that Pikachu at first,” May chirped in, pushing her way forward. “I even demanded he take it back to you. But now, look at the two of them, the Pikachu wants to stay and fight for him. You both must have been through a lot Erik?”
“We have,” Erik replied, trying to figure out what would make Dancer stay. “She even joined in a couple of battles for me when I needed her.”
“Exactly!” May responded. “My father always said that when a Pokemon wins in battle for its trainer, the bond strengthens.”
“That must be it!” Erik exclaimed, to himself more than anyone else. “So you see Lisia, Dancer and I have bonded.”
With a grunt Lisia stormed off back into the contest hall. Erik had already healed his team at the Pokemon centre and now they were all back to fighting strength. He had withdrawn Steel from storage as he already had a poison-typed Pokemon in his party so Glutton wasn’t needed, and a fire one instead of his new Numel; whereas he had never used a steel-typed creature in battle before.
“So you don’t mind walking with me this time?” Erik asked May cheekily as they left the village, entering the rock strewn path known as Route 114. The terrain at the start of the route was manageable, mainly more farmland until the path split into the large lake with wooden bridge hovering over it. Further on arose a mini-mountain, complete with steep hillsides and many boulders.
“What do you mean by that?!” May snapped, clearly angered by his joke.
“Err..nothing,” Erik replied cautiously. “Which way to Meteor Falls?” he said, attempting to change the subject.
“Over the bridge and up the mountain, obviously.”
The two walked in silence as they normally did, Erik always seemed to annoy her. Or maybe she was just easily annoyed? He didn’t know which anymore.
A little further on a line of trees covered in berries line the pathway before the river.
“Oh look,” May exclaimed, and the silence was broken. “A Zangoose over there, eating berries!”
“That’s cute,” Erik thought to himself before saying aloud, “we should gather some of those berries for our own Pokemon.”
“Agreed,” came May’s reply with an accompanying smile, as the two sneaked up to the trees. They didn’t want to disturb the Zangoose, the Pokemon known to be quick to anger if provoked. A fact shown to them in evidence as May stepped on a twig, the snap of which sounded like the volcano overlooking them had just erupted.
The Zangoose leapt at them with razor-sharp claws glistening in the sunlight, Erik dived in front of May to protect her from the lunge. He raised his hand to guard himself from the aggressor, but each claw was a knife blade and sliced into his palm. Erik screamed out in pain.
May had released her Marshtomp, the water Pokemon blasting the Zangoose away leaving Erik to grasp his hand in pain. Blood oozed out of the fresh wounds; two crimson scythes embedded in his palm.
“Erik!” May screamed when she noticed the wounds. “Are you okay?!”
“I’m fine, luckily Zangoose isn’t a poison type,” he mused in reply, as blood began running down his palm and dripping onto the ground.
“We’ve got to get that looked at, they might have something for you at the Pokemon centre?”
“No time, we have to save Cozmo,” Erik replied sternly. May opened her mouth to reply but knew there was no changing Erik’s mind once it was made up.
“At least let me bandage it.” It was her turn to be stern, unravelling the bow in her hair which turned out to be rather large – big enough to wrap around Erik’s hand at any rate.
“Thank you,” Erik commented as May tied off the makeshift bandage, it fit nicely around his palm and soaked the blood up effectively. “Shall we continue?” he added, with a smile.
“We’ll have to climb up,” Erik realised, receiving a worried grimace from May. The two had been searching for a way to get up the mountain for half an hour now, to no avail. “I’ll give you a hand.”
Erik released both Blaze and Ice from their Pokeballs to help them up, with only one hand it was a tough ask for him to climb the mountain, but he had no other choice. With his uninjured right hand and help from Blaze, the two combined to lift May up. She grabbed onto a ledge and together the three of them combined their strength to lift her all the way.
Erik’s turn. He clambered onto the back of Ice along with Blaze, the Combusken then using his strength to elevate his trainer. Erik was shocked by how much weight his Mightyena could hold on his back. May extended a hand down to Erik, who grabbed it eagerly and together they managed to lift him up onto the mountainside.
Erik turned to recall the two Pokemon into their Pokeballs, first up was Blaze; a white stream erupting from the capsule and summoning the Pokemon back inside. Ice was next, Erik pointed his Mightyena’s Pokeball at the Pokemon, but before he could withdraw it the Zangoose was back.
Ice and Zangoose matched each other blow for blow, claws blocked by fangs and fangs blocked by claws. Erik tried saving his Pokemon by launching a great ball at the wild Zangoose, but it just swatted the capsule aside; it would have to be weakened in order to be captured.
The great ball had provided a distraction that led Ice to gain the upper hand, the Mightyena lashing out at his foe with his own claws, ripping into the Zangoose’s face, leaving it with a huge cut across its left eye which looked as if it could leave a scar. Erik lobbed another great ball, the Zangoose not seeing it coming this time and was captured, unable to escape from within the capsule.
“What will you name it?” May enquired. “Scar?”
“I was going to pick Scar,” Erik thought to himself, “but I can’t let someone else name my Pokemon, it’s not the same.” After a brief silence he finally replied to May, “Fury.” The Zangoose’s Pokeball disappeared off into storage as they spoke.
As the two ascended up the steep hillsides and jagged rock faces together, huge holes through the hills and on the flats could be seen.
“What do you think caused them?” asked Erik. He and May had been speaking about all sorts throughout the climb, from talking about his journey, his team to May’s own life. Erik had enjoyed the chat immensely.
“Meteors,” May said with a deep smile, “that’s why they call this place, ‘Meteor Falls’, silly.”
“Look at that one,” Erik gasped, noticing the biggest meteor crater of them all as they scaled another small cliff. “You could fit all of Littleroot in it!”
“Not quite,” May chuckled in reply, “it’s huge, though, I’ll give you that.”
“Look there’s something in the middle, is that a hole?”
“It’s the entrance, there should be a ladder nearby.”
“How do you know so much about this place, May?”
“My father and I used to always come here for research when I was little, the meteors fell around fifteen years ago so we’ve been exploring the mystery ever since.”
As they reached the hole in the crater, Erik noticed that the ladder descended into total darkness, but he climbed down it regardless, not wanting to look afraid in front of May.
“Oh, Erik, you can catch a new Pokemon in this cave, it counts as a separate area to the route,” May mentioned as she climbed down the ladder.
Once at the bottom, they were surrounded by the darkness, unable to see anything at all apart from a dim light directly ahead of them. Erik released Blaze and asked him to light the way, his Pokemon’s flames illuminating the passageway. They were surrounded by yellowish walls with stones that looked almost smooth to touch as they made their way towards the light at the end of the narrow tunnel.
“This place is so beautiful, it’s full of Pokemon that fell from space with the meteors.”
As they reached the light they rounded a corner, and Erik could see that May’s words held true.
A huge waterfall filled the cave, with yellow rocks and bridges forming a pathway over the top. The cave descended sharply from where Erik was stood, luckily another ladder was close by. From a ledge overlooking the rest of the cavern, he could see it all. Another exit lay on the other side of the cave and rock-shaped Pokemon floated all around nonchalantly, some shaped like the sun, others like the moon. Erik threw a great ball at one of the sun-shaped ones, May mentioning that it was named a ‘Solrock’, the others named ‘Lunatone’. Erik called his new capture, “Sunny”.
“Hey!” May roared, Erik thought the shout was directed at him at first, but turned to look at what she was seeing. Underneath the bridge which was perched above the lake created by the waterfall, Erik could see flashes of red.
“Those must be the Magma members, there must be some more of that flat yellow rock underneath the bridge,” he thought to himself, before noticing May was already halfway down the ladder. He bolted after her.
Underneath the bridge the tallest of the two Magma grunts slapped the professor again. The smaller grunt then grabbed by professor by his olive-coloured long hair, slapping him so viciously his glasses flew off, almost into the lake.
“Give it up, you bozos!” May screamed as she approached them. “Let the professor go!”
“Or what?” the tallest Magma member snorted. “You two kids think you can take down a Magma Admin? Well good luck with that one!” he laughed raucously to himself.
“Mylos,” the smaller one whispered loud enough for both Erik and May to hear. “We should pair up, take them down in a double battle.”
“I don’t need your help,” Mylos replied to him, the admin’s bulging biceps fully on show as he placed one hand on his hip, the other he used to stroke his chin-strap beard. He probably would’ve used it to comb his hair, but having a buzzcut made that hard to do. “But fine, it will be over quicker with two of us and we can go back to getting this information from the prof.”
Mylos sent out a Mightyena, the grunt following up with a Koffing. May replied with her Shroomish and Erik with Steel, giving his new Skarmory her first taste of war.
Mylos’s Mightyena let out a huge howl, like it was screaming for its life. The violence of the shout caused rocks to topple from the roof of the cave. The yellow stone may look smooth, but they were as heavy as large boulders, crashing into the bridge and ripping through the wooden surface onto the battlefield underneath.
The rocks slammed onto the battlefield, Steel was agile enough to glide out of the way of most of them but Shroomish was less fortunate, a stone spike hitting her. The grunt’s Koffing took the initiative and choked the Shroomish with poison gas, the Magma’s Pokemon as well as May and Erik protected underneath yellow rocks, only their Pokemon were underneath the bridge. The Magma members had picked the battlefield with care.
As Shroomish choked, Steel swooped in. She deftly dodged a couple of falling rocks before gliding up high with May’s Pokemon in her claws and away from the battlefield. The Koffing followed, floating up high as the Mightyena roared again. Erik saw a spike crash into the Koffing but lost sight of it through a wall of falling rock. Steel continued dodging the rocks and flew back towards Erik and May so that Shroomish could be recalled by her trainer.
As Steel neared the bridge the Koffing appeared through the rocks, spiked stones lodged into the Pokemon’s lilac shell.
The weakened Koffing self-destructed.
The enormous explosion destroyed the bridge and sending shards of wood and rock flying out in all directions. Steel was thrown into a wall with two wooden spikes sticking out of her, the Shroomish buried under a pile of rubble and even the Mightyena had a large spiked rock thrown into him.
“What the hell did you do?!” Mylos roared at his comrade, turning when he got no reply to see that his friend had also been crushed by the rocks. Erik had leapt onto May to cover her, and after checking if she was alright, recalled Steel and sent in Roller. May knew her Shroomish was gone underneath all those rocks so she sent out Marshtomp straight away as tears clogged her eyes.
Marshtomp was enraged and blasted water jets at the spike in Mightyena’s side, aiming straight at the pressure point to cause maximum damage. Roller rolled rapidly towards the Mightyena and smashed the rock as Marshtomp fired another wave of aqua at the foe, the combined efforts defeating the injured Pokemon.
“You got lucky that my comrade was such a dimwit,” Mylos said, sending out a Numel. “But my Pokemon are too well trained for yours.”
“Why do Magma love their Numels so much,” Erik joked to May, but his friend was in not in the right frame of mind. Seeing death and having one of her Pokemon defeated must be taking a huge toll on her.
Erik instantly saw what Mylos had meant about his Numel being well trained, it should have proved no match in a two-on-one fight, especially with one of his opponents being a water-type, but was deftly rolling out of the way of both water and poisonous attacks from Erik and May’s fighters.
The Numel stood up, as Marshtomp and Roller both took a moment to recover their energy. Mylos’s Pokemon aimed for the weakened roof, blasting a large burst of flame at the rock surface, which caused a huge shudder that shook the very foundations of Meteor Falls.
Waves of rocks crashed down onto the surface, Erik grabbing May and throwing them both down underneath the yellow rocks, using his body to shield hers from the cave-in. The rocks seemed to roar as they crashed into the surface, dust and darkness kicking up from the avalanche of stone. Luckily, the small rock barrier above them held, but Meteor Falls was split by walls of fallen rock, with the exit now also blocked to them. Roller, Numel and Marshtomp were stuck directly in the middle of the stone pile with Cozmo and Mylos on the other side. All five could easily be dead. May and Erik would have to dig their way through, and hope.