The Search for Team Supreme. The Lord of the Sea!
“Aw, man! I’m soaked!” Torchic groaned as she and Tristan set foot through shallow water, followed closely by Croconaw. Dripping wet, she shook herself vigorously, trying to rid herself of it while at the same time scattering water droplets everywhere around her. Tristan, unappreciative of this, had to shield his his face to prevent himself from getting any more wet. “That’s the last time we go surfing on your back, Croconaw!” she shouted angrily, pointing a damp wing towards him.
Tristan couldn’t help but agree. It was a rough and uncomfortable ride to get here. It was also pretty awkward sitting on Croconaw’s back with Torchic while he broke through waves, giving him little warning before he got a face full of sea water. It was a shock that he would never get used to. As well, he especially hated the notion that all he had to do was slip and he would sink like a rock into the depths of the ocean. For that reason he was tense throughout the entire trip and now his muscles thanked him for it by giving him a dull aching pain all over. At times, he wondered what motivated him to do this.
That was the reason. But were they really worth it? He couldn’t imagine them doing the same for him. Whenever these thoughts came to him, though, he would shake them off. He was different from them. He didn’t care about what they would’ve done, he would do what he felt was right. Their lives could be in danger, and whether he liked them or not, he wouldn’t just sit by and let them die.
It had been a day since they planned this. They knew that if they wanted to catch up to their rival team they would have to act fast. The nurses who treated them had all expressed their disapproval to the departure, urging that they were not fully recovered. But they knew that if they took the full time to heal, they would never reach Team Supreme in time. With this in mind, nothing could be said by the nurses to change their minds, and that morning, they left the camp. Since then, they had endured the unpleasant journey of crossing the ocean.
Tristan tested his shoulder a bit, as he had done several other times that day. Still a bit tender, but it had come a long way since yesterday. The nurses, whatever they did, had done a marvelous job. This, too, could be seen by looking at Torchic and Croconaw, whose burns had all vanished, save the places where they had been scorched the worst, which were now little more than scars.
It was out here, in the middle of the ocean, where their search for Team Supreme had taken them. It was also a place that was said to be home to the creator of the world’s oceans and seas, Kyogre. The entire region was a vast expanse of dead coral from an ancient reef that had risen above the water’s surface. Now, only the skeleton of the reef remained, giving the appearance of a field of jagged, grey rocks protruding from the shallow water, some reaching even higher than the three of them combined. Despite this, the only places they could walk was in the shallow water at their feet, which in other places was deep enough to submerge Croconaw. Tristan would need to be careful to avoid the deep water.
Upon first setting foot into the water, Tristan had expected it to be cold, like the journey here had been. Instead, it surprised him to find that it was warm, with mild gusts sweeping by every once in a while. It felt better than he had expected, but one quick look to the sky was enough to bring his spirits back down. Above them, the sky was overcast, with clouds that hung with menacing darkness. Scattered in areas ahead of them, he could make out places where curtains of rain made their long journey to the ground, as well as places where the noon sun broke through the clouds and reached down to the ocean in dazzling golden rays.
Looking more closely, he could see that the clouds were gradually moving to the east, back in the direction from which they came. So this was where the storms were coming from. They were all coming from Stormy Sea, where the weather was always stormy. But then again, Stormy Sea looked like it had been here a long time, and the violent storms in the village were relatively new, from what he heard at least. It seemed the only explanation they still had was the rise in the Earth’s temperature. Would they ever get to the bottom of what was causing it?
“I tried to keep you guys dry...” Croconaw apologized, adjusting their toolbox over his shoulder. “It’s not my fault we ran into rough water by the end of it. This is called 'Stormy Sea', for a reason.”
“Yeah well...” Torchic replied, still bitter. “I don’t want to go on a mission out to sea unless we absolutely need to. Okay?”
Both Tristan and Croconaw nodded in agreement, Tristan more enthusiastically than the latter. With that said, the three departed, and began their march towards the center of the reef.
The first few hours that passed were relatively uneventful. Every once in a while Croconaw would try to spark conversation to his two team mates, though, it never lasted beyond a few sentences before they became silent again. It was hard, Tristan found, to keep his spirits up when he was surrounded by all this water, and he had a pretty good idea that Torchic felt the same way. All the water just kept weighing him down, sapping his energy away.
As the team continued, Tristan gazed at his surroundings. An unsettling feeling had been lingering in the back of his mind since they entered the dungeon. Ever since they’d passed by the first outcrops, everything, every detail of the dismal landscape looked the same. In every direction there were the same bland, pale, grey rocks emerging from the water. Not only did it prove difficult to tell if they were progressing, it also restricted their vision, allowing them to only see as far as the nearest rocks. It didn’t take long for Tristan feel as if he was losing his sense of direction.
“Okay!” he said finally, pointing at a nearby rock. “I swear I’ve seen that at least five times now!”
“Really?” Croconaw asked, surprised by his outburst. “How can you tell? All the rocks look the same to me.”
“Exactly my point,” Tristan continued. “How are we supposed to tell where we’re going? Because as far as I can tell, we’re wandering aimlessly!”
“Well...” Croconaw began, searching for words to say.
“We do have a plan don’t we? You knew something about where to go when we entered this dungeon?” Torchic asked, her anger beginning to rise.
“Hey, I never said I’ve been here before!”
“You mean we were lost the moment we stepped in here?” Tristan asked, disbelief etched across his face. “What good is the plan to beat Team Supreme to Kyogre exactly if we don’t even know where we’re going?”
“Well uh...” Croconaw hesitated again. “I... uh, I figured that if we walked in a straight line we would reach the centre eventually...”
Tristan looked directly ahead of them. Another pale grey rock stood in the way. And not far beyond that, undoubtedly another one stood. He couldn’t have been serious. It was impossible to walk in a straight line.
“Right.” Torchic said. “How are we supposed to go in a straight line when we got these big things in the way? Surely by now we’ve gone in everything but a straight line. This is just great. Not only do we not know how to get to Kyogre, but now we don’t even know where we are!”
“C-come on guys!” Croconaw stuttered. “W-we can think of something. All we need to do...”
Croconaw’s voice trailed off as Tristan detached himself from the argument, turning back to the landscape around him. Again, no matter where he looked, everything looked the same. If only there was some sort of landmark. Something that they would be able to make a reference from. And then there was the problem that the area they were searching was so vast. No place they had been, be it Silent Chasm, Uproar Forest, Frosty Forest or Mount Blaze compared to the shear size of Stormy Sea.
They could mark the rocks somehow as they passed them. But all that would have accomplished was to warn them that they were going in circles. It wouldn’t have done anything to actually help them get to Kyogre. But what else could they do?
With a sigh, he looked skywards, as if hoping that some answers would lie there. He gazed, absentmindedly for a moment. The clouds above him, almost as dark as night, drifted silently in the direction he was facing. The sound of thunder rumbled far off in the distance behind him. Wait a minute. The last time he had seen the sky, he remembered it was heading East towards the village. But their destination, lay West. They had been turned around somehow after all.
Tristan turned back to Torchic and Croconaw, who were still in argument. “We’re going the wrong way,” he interrupted.
Both of their heads snapped towards him. Croconaw wearing an exasperated expression, and Torchic one of frustration. Somehow, despite their great difference in height, she was managing to make him cower. They stared at him for a moment before Croconaw spoke
Tristan pointed to the sky. Both his two team mates looked upward, both also taking a minute to realize what he was talking about.
“The clouds...” Croconaw groaned, slapping his forehead. “We forgot about the clouds!”
“It still wouldn’t have helped much,” Torchic replied. “It only tells us what direction we’re going in. It doesn’t tell us where we need to go.”
“True... But then - ah!”
Before Croconaw could finish, though, Tristan had stuck out his hand, signaling for both of them to stop. Above the arguing he had heard another noise. He wanted to be sure what it was. “Shh!” Tristan hissed quietly. His eyes darting left and right as he listened intently. “I think I hear something.”
All three of them stood still, straining their ears. And then a noise did become apparent. From somewhere ahead them, among the rocks, the sound of splashing and shouting could be heard.
“What is it?” Croconaw whispered.
“Sounds like a fight,” Torchic replied quietly. “Think we should check it out?”
Before Tristan or Croconaw could answer, though, the ground beneath them began to tremble. The water around them came to life with ripples, sending little splashes of water up around them. Tristan didn’t know what to think. Was it Kyogre? No, it couldn’t be. But as suddenly as the shaking had struck, it eased off, followed by a tense silence.
“You think it’s over?” Croconaw asked, craning his head as high as he could as if trying to see over the rocks.
“Dunno,” Tristan answered. “Let’s go check. It’s not like it’s out of our way.”
Both of his teammates nodded in agreement, and began to head in the direction where they heard the fight. Cautiously, they navigated amongst the rocks, peering around each one to make sure they weren’t walking into the middle of a battle. It didn’t take long before Tristan found the cause of the commotion. Pressing himself against the opposite side of the rock, he motioned for Torchic and Croconaw to follow him.
“Well?” Croconaw asked once they reached him. “What is it?”
“I didn’t get a good look,” he answered. “But I’m sure that the shaking was caused by one of them.”
Tristan turned to peek around the rock for a second time. There were four Pokemon in the water ahead of them. Three of them Tristan could only describe as being strange purple grey blobs with eyes. When he first saw them, he thought they only looked like that because he barely took a glance. But they really did look like puddles of sludge. The other Pokemon, who was farthest away from them, was a deep blue coloured fish with long yellow whiskers and yellow “w” shape on his forehead. Tristan only had a couple seconds to examine him before he found himself being nudged in the shoulder. His injured shoulder. He winced slightly as his nerves became agitated again. Irritated, he turned back. Croconaw had been peering around the other side of the rock, and by the looks of it, something about the scene had excited him. Torchic was taking her turn peering around the rock as well.
“Tristan!” he whispered frantically. “That Pokemon. The fish one. That’s Elder Whiscash!”
“Elder Whiscash?” Tristan replied, almost letting it out as a cry, but catching himself. He’d heard quite a bit about him before, but he never got the chance to meet him in person yet. He was the oldest Pokemon in the village by far, and many of the villagers went to him for wisdom and knowledge. “What’s he doing here?”
“Beats me.” Croconaw was equally perplexed.
“And what’re those Pokemon around him?”
“I believe they’re called Grimer. From what I hear, they’re made of nothing but sludge.”
“He’s in big trouble!” Torchic exclaimed, joining the conversation. “He’s surrounded, and it looks like they’ve poisoned him too! I don’t think he has any strength to fight!”
Tristan looked around the rock a third time. She was right. The old fish looked weak and exhausted, not to mention that he was covered in scrapes and bruises and had a purplish tinge to him. However, the three Grimer, even though they were better off than he was, still looked to be breathing heavily. As Tristan watched, one of these blobs spoke.
“Heh... hehe... he’s stubborn for an old guy...”
“Yeah,” said the one on the right. “Who’d have thought that he’d put up such a fight...”
“Well it doesn’t matter,” the third and middle Grimer said, looking from side to side at the other two. “He only has so much in him. It was only a matter of time before he’d tire out.”
“No... Please...” Whiscash moaned in a trembling voice. He was shuddering all over, looking sicker by the minute. “They’re not yours to take...”
“Whatever Gramps,” the middle one spoke again as he approached the village elder and reached for what looked like a toolbox that was strapped around him. “Now you just have a nice sleep while we take that off your fins. Nighty night.”
Tristan had seen enough. By this time, it was clear which side was in the right. Without even giving warning to his friends, he jumped out from behind the rock.
“Hey! Leave him alone!”
The middle Grimer turned around, only to see a flash of white as a bone hit him directly between the eyes. He slumped into the shallow water without a single sound. The other two Grimer had a little more time, and cried out in alarm as they saw the new arrival.
“Why, you-!” the right one growled as he began to rush towards Tristan. By then he had only just caught the bone again, but it slipped out of his hands. It was covered in the purple sludge of the first Grimer. With no time to pick it up, he braced himself for the attack.
“Oh no you don’t!” Croconaw shouted as he and Torchic leapt out from the other side of the rock. The Grimer was caught completely off guard, and before he had time to react, Croconaw had already released a ring of water which was propelled by that mysterious pulse of air. In less than a second he too was knocked out cold. Whiscash really must have done a number on them, Tristan thought, for them to be taken out so easily.
Tristan turned to the last remaining Grimer, who stood still for a moment, too shocked to do anything. He looked between the newcomers and his fallen comrades. “Sh**! No way I’m taking on all three of you!” With that, he fled, disappearing amongst the rocks.
Tristan couldn’t believe the hypocrisy of it. Hadn’t the Grimer just ganged up three against one against Whiscash just moments ago? But when faced with the same odds, all he could do was run away like a coward? For a moment he felt like chasing after him just to he could give him a taste of what it felt like, but his attention was brought back when Torchic spoke.
She was standing next to one of the unconscious Grimer, looking somewhat disappointed. “Oh... you guys took care of them already... Looks like I was-” She stopped herself in mid sentence.
“What Torchic?” Tristan asked, picking his bone up out of the water. “Something wrong?” This had also caught Croconaw’s attention.
“Ah... no it’s nothing,” she replied, trying to put on a smile, thought it wasn’t terribly convincing. Realizing this, she looked down towards Whiscash and pointed urgently. “Look, this isn’t the time for this! We need to help him!”
She was right of course, for lying in the water nearby was the now barely conscious town elder. Without further delay, Croconaw jumped to his side, setting down the toolbox, reaching for two berries. One Tristan recognized instantly as an Oran Berry and the other was a pink, heart shaped berry, with spots of a lighter colour of pink.
“What’s the pink one?” Tristan whispered aside to Torchic.
“That’s a Pecha Berry. It cures poison.”
“Here, open up,” Croconaw said as he put the pink berry near his mouth. “We’re here to help. You’ll feel better after this.”
Whiscash took it lethargically, his eyes half closed, his body limp. He ate the Oran Berry soon after. After about a minute some of the life and colour was beginning to return to the old Pokemon.
“Oh, thank you young ones!” he said happily. “I thought I was a goner there. You showed up just in time!”
“It was nothing,” was Tristan’s automatic response.
“Nothing you say?” The old fish chuckled. “I must disagree it wasn’t nothing, young man. For that nothing you just did saved my life. And I dare say that I am not worthless quite yet.”
“W-we weren’t saying you were worthless!” Croconaw said quickly waving his arms frantically in front of him.
“Way to go,” Torchic said, nudging Tristan in the side.
Tristan rolled his eyes; Why did everyone have to make such a big deal out of this simple expression? He didn’t use it that often...
“No no, do not worry,” the elder reassured them. “I was only joking. May I ask the name of the team that just saved me?”
“W-We’re Team Supernova,” Croconaw answered still getting over his little panic attack. “But Elder Whiscash? We’d like to know-”
“Ah... So you are Team Supernova, the team that I’ve been hearing so much about!” the old fish exclaimed. “Finally, I get the chance to meet you! I’ve heard so many good things about you from Plusle, Caterpie, and especially Minun!” He gave a quick glance at Tristan at the mention of the last Pokemon’s name. “I’ve been looking forward to the day when I’d get the chance to meet you. You three have so much in common with Team Blue.”
Croconaw was silent for a minute. His mouth was wide open and his eyes were sparkling. It was as if he had gone into a trance.
“Hey, Croconaw?” Torchic asked, trying to get his attention. “Hello in there! Yoohoo!”
Tristan on the other hand, decided to let him stay in his state of bliss for a little longer. He turned to face Whiscash again. “Uh, Gramps? What were you doing here in the first place?”
“Hm? Oh! Of course!” the elder replied. “Yes, it must seem strange to see an old fish like me here in a place like this. Well you see, I managed to swim to safety before the mudslide struck. I could feel it in my bones, something just didn’t feel right. Imagine my horror when the entire village fell into the sea! Never did I imagine that something like that would ever happen..."
“Well, once things had settled, I did what I could to help, and then I heard that some of the villagers had been swept all the way to Stormy Sea. So, hoping I could be of some help, I packed some goods here,” he indicated his toolbox. “And then I came here in search of survivors. Well as you can see it didn’t really work out. And it seems I turned out to be more of a hinderance than a help if I was the one who needed rescuing. Again, I’d like to thank you and apologize for causing you trouble.”
“It was-” but Tristan stopped himself when he noticed that all three of the others were looking at him. He managed to keep himself from rolling his eyes, though the urge was strong. “It was a pleasure. You weren’t any trouble at all.” He followed it up with an annoyed glance to his team mates, who both smirked at one another. Well, at least someone was amused by this.
“Say, Elder?” Croconaw asked. “You wouldn’t happen to know your way around these parts would you? You see we’re trying to get to the center of this dungeon, but we’ve only been going in circles up till now.”
“Oh my!” Elder Whiscash said with a gasp. “What business do you have that would take you all the way there? You know a Pokemon of terrible power sleeps there?”
“Yes, we know,” Torchic answered. “But we’re trying to get there before Team Supreme does... they’re another team, by the way.” She briefly explained what the villagers had decided, and what Team Supreme was doing. “But we’ve heard different things, you see? We don’t think it was Kyogre who caused the disaster. So we’re trying to stop them.”
“I see” the village elder replied. “And you say you don’t know how to get there?” A wide grin spread across his wide face as he said this. “Well, maybe I don’t have to be so useless after all. For I do happen to know my way around these parts. Why, I even used to live here many years back.”
“Are you serious?” Croconaw exclaimed. Whatever doubt or worry he had earlier had all but evaporated, and was replaced with excitement. “You can actually take us there? How far are we? What’s the quickest way to get there?”
Whiscash gave a hearty laugh before indicating the team to follow him with one of his whiskers. “Well I can’t say we’re terribly close just yet. But I’ll show you the quickest way I know to get there.”
Time passed more quickly now with this new addition to the group. There was a new atmosphere among the members of Team Supernova. A feeling of confidence and purpose. Finally they actually knew that they were going the right way. They soon found out that Elder Whiscash was very talkative, for there never seemed to be a moment where there wasn’t someone speaking. Even Tristan seemed to forget that he was surrounded by water. Instead it was Torchic who was the silent one, who was slightly separated from the rest of the group with her head down. Several times Tristan wondered whether he should ask her about it, but decided to let her be. Currently, Whiscash was telling them about a story about how Lucario started the very first rescue team.
“Wow!” Croconaw exclaimed. “I’ve always wondered why the top rank was named after a Lucario. Hey! You think we could ever be like them?” Tristan shrugged, and Torchic didn’t even reply. “Torchic? You’ve been awful silent. What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” was her simple response.
“Come on,” he tried again. “You not yourself. Something’s wrong.”
“No! There’s nothing wrong!” she snapped back defensively. “Maybe you haven’t noticed, but we’re surrounded by this crummy water! And let’s not forget those lovely clouds up there. No, nothing wrong here! Why don’t we go for a swim, it’ll be loads of fun!”
Tristan wasn’t convinced though. He usually hated being around water too. But now, even he found that his spirits were high. High enough to be talkative, which felt kind of weird for him. It was as if the two of them had switched places somehow.
“You can tell us,” Tristan spoke. “We’re your friends right? Who else would you tell if there was something wrong? We’d tell you if something was wrong with us.”
Her gaze met Tristan’s and her eyes widened. He knew this reminded her of the night on Mount Blaze. The night where so many secrets and emotions had gone flying. It was then that they realized how important it was to not hide secrets. And remembering this, she looked down again, embarrassed for the outburst. It took several moments before she spoke. “Um... well,” she began. “I... I’m not... I’m not dragging this team back am I?”
Tristan had to double take after hearing this. If he had been expecting anything it wasn’t this.
“Why would you say that?” Croconaw asked. “Of course not!”
“Yeah. Of course you would say that,” she went on. “I know you’re saying it out of pity. But we all know that I’ve hardly done anything for the team lately. I did so little in our battle with Moltres, and I did absolutely nothing to save Persian back on the cliff. Hell, I’ve been utterly useless ever since we entered this dungeon! I can’t... I can’t help but feel like I’m becoming dead weight...”
“That’s not true!” Croconaw protested. “You were a big help when we were facing Moltres! Believe me, I would have been toast if you hadn’t jumped in when you did! As for the other two thing... well... well... Tristan?”
Tristan for once had been following the conversation closely enough to know what was going on. “Hey. It could have easily been you in our place instead. If it was you in those places you would’ve done the exact same thing that we did. It has nothing at all to do with being useless. It has everything to do with being in the right place at the right time.”
Torchic looked between him and Croconaw, then shook her head again. “No,” she said, unconvinced. “I don’t know when it happened, but you guys suddenly seem much stronger than I am. How will I ever be able to keep up with you guys?”
“I don’t mean to pry,” another voice interjected. It was Elder Whiscash. He had been listening in the entire time. “But Torchic, I must side with your friends here. They are right. Firstly, you are out of your element here. If we were in a hot and dry place you would undoubtedly have more of an edge.”
“Exactly!” Croconaw added. “Sorry to interupt elder... Remember when we were in Uproar Forest? I was pathetic! You wer the one who shined most of all in there.”
Whiscash gave a smile, and continued. “And you must not forget that you haven’t even evolved yet. I’m sure you’ll find that you are just as capable as they are. And you’ll be even stronger once you evolve.”
Torchic gave a great sigh and turned to her team mates again. She still looked doubtful. “You guys really mean that?” All three nodded. “Well... if you say so... I... guess it was pretty stupid of me to bring it up...”
“It’s good that you did,” Croconaw answered.
“Yeah,” Tristan said. “It’s better to get things out in the open like that.”
Torchic closed her eyes and managed to give a little smile. But this time it wasn’t faked, it was genuine, and Tristan and Croconaw could tell right away. “Thanks...” she said quietly.
A brief silence followed, where the four travelers were off in their own thoughts. Tristan was glad to see that Torchic was back to normal again, currently walking between him and Croconaw with more confidence in her steps. But he still worried that she wasn’t entirely convinced. Hopefully, if there was a battle to come, she would get the chance to prove to herself that she was a valuable member of the team.
It didn’t take long before Elder Whiscash had gotten everyone talking again. As they marched on, not much of the landscape changed. It seemed that everywhere they went there was the bleak landscape of pale grey rocks, and endless shallow water. Tristan had no idea how the elder knew his way around this place. The only thing he noticed changing was the darkening sky, but that wasn’t because of the weather, rather because the sun was no longer directly overhead. Less light was able to penetrate through the clouds. The other thing he couldn’t help but notice was that the jagged rocks were steadily becoming larger. Many of them now were the height of low buildings. It made navigating seem even more difficult since it was even harder to see.
The air, was now becoming noticeably cooler, and the wind stronger. Even though the water beneath them remained pleasantly warm, a gust of wind every once in a while would send shivers down Tristan’s spine. Dead ahead in the sky were the darkest clouds he’d ever seen. The strange thing was that they were not moving with the wind, but instead, swirling slowly in a circular motion above one fixed spot. Perhaps this was what Whiscash was using to guide them. It looked ominous, and he couldn’t help but feel a hint of dread welling up in his gut. What was he getting himself into? His instincts were telling him to walk the other way, but his heart was telling him to move forward.
What used to be distant rumbles of thunder were now louder, and much closer, sometimes sounding like they were high above his head. In the distance a flash of lightning forking from the clouds to the ground. Lightning wasn’t what he was worried about, though. He had learned during his battle with Zapdos that for some reason, being a Cubone made him immune to lightning. It was Croconaw who would be the one to worry about this. But even then Tristan had learned that there wasn’t even a need for anyone to worry about lightning. As long as they stayed close by, all electricity somehow was directed towards him, as if he were some sort of lightning rod. He didn’t mind this one bit. No, what worried him was the rain. The last time he’d been caught in a storm it felt like he was being pelted with miniature daggers. It was an experience he never wanted to go through again. But looking ahead of him, it seemed inevitable.
“We should be almost there,” the town elder spoke from ahead of them. He rounded another rock, and let out a great breath of relief. “And... here we are!”
Tristan was the second to round the corner, but froze in his tracks. Immediately he was followed by Torchic and Croconaw.
“Woah...” Croconaw uttered under his breath.
Woah was right. For what lay before them was a sight unlike any Tristan had ever seen. Ahead of them, the water suddenly fell away over the edge of what seemed to be an enormous hole, plunging into a black abyss. Rising out, curving close to the edge of the hole stood an enormous wall of arches and vaults, which towered high above the surrounding skeleton of the reef. Tristan wasn’t sure exactly what to expect when they got here, but a temple was not very high on his list. What was also apparent right away was the fact that the walls were made of a substance completely different from the surrounding reef. This material seemed metallic, with a dark blue colour to it. Running around the circumference of the structure, above each arch, were long dark lines that would glow a bright red, then fade away again. It was almost as if these lines were the veins of the building, and the constant brightening and fading of the lines was the heartbeat of whatever lay deep inside. High in the sky above the structure was where the darkest clouds hung, swirling low enough that they might have been touching the very top of the temple.
Ahead of them was a narrow span of the metallic material that served as the only bridge to cross into the structure. Upon entering the building, it became a set of stairs that led deep into the temple, so far that it was impossible to see. Another line ran it’s length, ending at a circle with four short prongs directed towards the reef.
Before Tristan had time to admire it, though, a splash of water behind caught his attention. It seemed to have come from one of the nearby rocks. But what had caused it, he did not know. Instinctively, his hand gripped his club tighter and quietly nudged his friends, bringing the rock to their attention.
“There’s something over there,” he whispered.
“Another Grimer?” asked Croconaw.
“Could be,” Tristan answered. Maybe it was the same one from before. Maybe he had brought friends. He wouldn’t have been surprised.
“No... I don’t think whoever’s back there is a foe of ours.” It was Whiscash who had spoken. His eyes were closed in concentration, his long whiskers dipped partway into the water.
“How can you tell?” Croconaw asked.
“These whiskers serve more of a purpose than just decoration you know. They can also feel tiny vibrations in the water. Whoever is back there, their pulse is quick. They’re scared, and stressed too.”
“Okay...?” Tochic replied slowly. “What’re we gonna do about it then?”
“Well-” Croconaw said before being cut off.
Tristan stepped forward so that he was directly in front of the rock in question. “Whoever’s back there!” he stated. “You have to the count of five before we beat the crap out of you!”
Both of his team mate's jaws dropped in disbelief, but the threat had done its trick. There was more motion from behind the rock. “D-don’t come any closer! Leave me alone!” The voice was strangely familiar, though Tristan couldn’t quite place it. It was a young masculine voice that had spoken, and like Whiscash had said, it sounded frightened. Tristan suddenly felt a pang of sympathy.
“We won’t hurt you,” Tristan said, calmer this time. “Just come out where we can see you. We’re a rescue team.”
There was a brief silence. “You are?” A head popped out from behind the rock, revealing the face of an orange canine Pokemon. Tristan took in a sharp breath of shock upon recognizing the face. It was Growlithe, their very first client. He must have been one of the unfortunate Pokemon that Whiscash had set out to save. Had he been wandering through this miserable place ever since the disaster? How many more villagers were still wandering amongst the rocks?
Growlithe, cautiously at first, stepped out from his hiding place, taking a moment to look over each of them. Apparently he too was surprised to see their faces. He slowly walked up to Tristan, as if expecting him to disappear like some sort of mirage.
“It’s... It’s you...” he said feebly. “It’s really you. I’m not imagining this.”
One look at the young canine was all Tristan needed to be able to tell that he was in rough shape. His orange and black fur was soaking wet and smudged with dirt, and in some places, blood. As he stood, his legs trembled, struggling to bear his weight. Even his eyes told Tristan just what kinds of things he had been through. They were tired, but still very alert to everything that was going on around. He had been brought to his limit, not only physically, but mentally as well.
“Team Supernova?” he asked warily.
“Yes, we’re here,” Tristan replied. “What happened?”
“Mud...” he mumbled, as if trying to recollect a distant memory. “A wall of mud. It pushed me. It pushed me right off the cliff! I couldn’t do anything. I fell, and then the water hit me.” He paused a moment, furrowing in concentration. “Then... I woke up here. Alone.”
“My dear boy,” Whiscash spoke up, approaching the two of them. He was accompanied by Croconaw and Torchic. “You’ve been wandering around here ever since the disaster?”
He nodded slowly, and Tristan could see his expression. His lips began to curl down into a frown, and his eyes began to fill with tears. Suddenly, it was as if all he’d been holding back for the past few days came spilling out at once. He sobbed heavily, chest heaving. “I was so scared!” he wailed. “I didn’t know where I was. Or where my sister was! Ruby... she was with me when the disaster struck. I don’t know what happened to her! I’ve been wandering all over since then, but I couldn’t find her. I... I’m scared she might... that she might have...”
Tristan’s eyes widened. His sister was with him? What could have happened to her?
“It’s okay,” Torchic said, coming up beside the Growlithe to comfort him. “She’ll be fine.” To this he didn’t respond.
“Here,” Croconaw said, reaching for his toolbox. But before he could open it, Whiscash stuck out one of his long whiskers to stop him.
“No,” he said. “Allow me. That’s why I brought this with me after all. May as well put these supplies to good use.”
Croconaw nodded, allowing Whiscash to reach into his own toolbox, and pull out a rather large yellow berry with orange flecks on it. Tristan bent his head slightly, he’d never seen this berry before.
Before he could ask, Croconaw let out a surprised gasp. “That’s... That’s a-!”
“Yes, indeed. It is a sitrus berry. Over the years I’ve been saving these for just such an occasion.”
“What’s the big deal?” Tristan asked. It didn’t look so special to him.
“Sitrus berries aren’t the easiest berries to find,” Croconaw replied. “There are few places where the climate is ideal for them to grow. But man do they have healing power.”
“You don’t have more of those, do you?” Torchic asked curiously.
“Only a few,” Whiscash answered. “I think now would be an appropriate time to use it, don’t you?”
Both Croconaw and Torchic nodded. Tristan nodded too, but only because his team mates were. He was interested to see how much this berry did exactly.
“Here you are,” Whiscash said, giving the berry to the Growlithe.
The fire Pokemon received it gratefully, taking several large bites to eat it entirely. By watching, it looked as if the berry had a very tough firmness to it, but it took effect almost as immediately after he finished eating. Soon, he was standing properly, his body strong, and his eyes wide awake. Physically, he looked better, but it still didn’t erase the look of worry on his face.
“Growlithe,” Whiskash asked. “Can you tell us why you ended up so deep in this dungeon? Do you realize where you are?”
He shook his head slowly. “No. I wandered aimlessly for most of the time. It was all I could do to avoid getting noticed by other Pokemon. At one point, I thought I saw a rescue team. So I followed them. They seemed to know where they were going, but I tried to keep my distance just in case. Eventually, though, we ended up here.” He indicated to the ominous blue temple. “It wasn’t too long ago actually. They went ahead inside. But I was too scared to follow them. There’s something about this place that just... scares me. Then soon after... you guys came.”
Tristan’s heart froze. Another team had come this way? No doubt it was Team Supreme. So they were too late. He looked back at the entrance. What if they were already in trouble? What if it was too late to save them. What if... what if they were already... He shook his head to try to clear his mind. Not yet. He would not give up yet.
“This other rescue team...” Croconaw asked frantically, sharing Tristan’s anxiety. “Do you remember what Pokemon they were?”
The Growlithe paused, thinking hard. “I... I think... I think the leader was a Machop. And... there were two other Pokemon. One might’ve been an Aipom... and tho other was a ghost Pokemon.”
All three members of Team Supernova exchanged worried looks and Tristan could tell that they were sharing the same thoughts as he was.
“Well what’re we waiting for? We gotta go after them,” Tristan stated.
“But... if they already went in there...” Croconaw started. “Well... what if it’s already too late?” It was exactly what Tristan had been thinking only moments ago.
“We left the village already thinking that we might be too late right?” Tristan asked. “Now we find out that we weren’t that far behind them after all. Isn’t this much better than what we could have hoped for? We’re right behind them! We could reach them before it’s too late! Maybe we will be too late if we stand here worrying about it, but if there ever was the best chance to catch up to them it is right now.”
“Tristan’s right,” Torchic said, nodding. “I’m not gonna turn around after all this. And especially knowing that we might have actually been able to make it.”
Croconaw looked suddenly embarrassed and was about to speak, but Tristan beat him to it.
“Alright, we’ve spent enough time talking. Let’s go!”
“Woah there!” came Whiscash’s voice. Somehow, Tristan had almost forgotten that he and Growlithe were even there. The village elder was chuckling again. Nothing seemed to get his spirits down. “I must say that you three are quite amazing to watch. Before you go running in there please allow me to wish you the best of luck when searching for Team Supreme. And thank you for allowing me to accompany you.”
“It was - We wouldn’t have been able to make it here without you,” Tristan replied. “So in the end it kinda worked out.”
“You won’t be coming in with us will you?” Croconaw asked curiously. “What’re you gonna do now?”
“Heavens no,” Whiscash answered. “I believe this old fish has seen enough adventure for one day.” He reached into his toolbox, searching around in it a bit before he found what he was looking for. Out of it he pulled a small, clear, glass orb. “I think I’ll be taking this young one back to the village now. Something tells me he’s seen enough adventure too. So you won’t need to worry about us. Go on now! You’re in a hurry are you not! Don’t let us waste your time! Go get Team Supreme!”
“Oh, right,” Croconaw replied, the sense of urgency returning to him. “Thanks again then!”
All three of them then turned to cross the bridge. Tristan might have looked over, but there wouldn’t have been anything to see. Besides that, he didn’t feel like he had the time. Tristan glanced back the moment he crossed the bridge to see that the elder and the brother were waving after them. Then he continued to lead the way down the stairs.
“Good luck Team Supernova!” he could hear Growlithe call after them. “Come back safe!”
After that, the sounds from the world above diminished, and a very still silence enveloped them. All that could be heard was their own footsteps as they descended farther. As well, the light faded away just as quickly. All that they had to guide them now was the red line in front of them that glowed and faded with that same slow rhythm.
He could only hope that they were somehow making ground on their rival team. Not much farther he kept telling himself. Just ahead, they’re just ahead. But once more a sense of dread was beginning to well in his gut. Every step he took it felt as if their chances of catching them grow ever smaller. No. Not yet. Don’t give up yet.
With this in mind, he and his team ran faster still
To be continued…