Struggle to Survive! Into the Shadow of a Greater Threat.
It was a silent few moments atop of the peak of the mountain centering Frosty Forest. The snow had ceased falling, and the wind had died down to only a gentle breeze. A break in the clouds revealed a beautiful view of the sky scape around the mountain and of the setting sun. The clouds, which blanketed everything below from view reflected a bright orange hue, almost blinding to the eyes. Finally, a moment of peace could be enjoyed. Or, perhaps it was just the eye of the storm.
Articuno took a moment to revel it in. However, he couldn’t help but be annoyed with himself. Looking again at the damage he’d taken, he shouldn’t have received as much as he did. He had been bruised on his right wing, which would definitely impair his ability to fly. He also had another bruise on his cheek. Both of these places were where the human had struck him. If he’d known the battle was going to be tougher, he’d have used Sheer Cold earlier. He also was still having trouble moving, after being double hit by Thunder Wave by his two little hostages. “Grr…” he grunted, “how shameful.”
Articuno spread his wings to take off, dispersing hundreds of tiny, shimmering, blue ice crystals around him. Before his feet could leave the ground, however, a strange sound from behind reached his ears.
“Nah… it couldn’t be,” he thought, turning towards the sound, “Impossible…”
Before him were the frozen figures of his hostages: Minun, Plusle and Caterpie. Just where he’d left them. But next to them… Was he seeing things? Before him stood the human Pokemon, unfrozen, and fully conscious.
“IMPOSSIBLE!!” Articuno shrieked in shock.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Tristan asked, as he glared at the legendary Pokemon with anger, and venom in his eye. In his mouth, the bitter after-taste of a Reviver Seed lingered. “I’m not finished with you yet!”
“Hehe…” the legendary chuckled, “You would have been better off freezing to death, it’s more peaceful, I hear.” It was true Articuno had taken a beating from this human, but upon closer inspection, he saw that this human was in much worse shape, with many places on his skin suffering frost bite, and deep cuts all over his back. It would be no problem finishing off this weakling now.
“If I did that,” Tristan replied, exhausted, “then I wouldn’t be able to pay you back for killing my friends.”
“What is it about these… friends you fight for?” Articuno said curiously as if trying to find out how Tristan's little mind worked. “What is so special that you fight so hard for them?”
“Like you’d ever know,” Tristan answered angrily, “You don’t have any!”
“Why you little piece of… FILTH!!” Articuno roared with rage. With his anger, fierce wind returned to the mountaintop. With the peaceful calm now gone, snow and cold came in to fill its place.
Tristan stood defiantly, holding his ground, refusing to back down. In reality, he could barely keep holding onto his bone, his hands being so numb from the cold. Other parts of his body were also beginning to become numb. The cold in the air leaked through the scratches on his back, causing him to become still weaker. His mind knew what it wanted, but how long would his body last? How much further could he push himself before he could push no more?
Stepping towards Tristan, Articuno said with a sound of mocking, “Is moving your mouth the best you can do? Do you think petty insults will save you? Do you really think I’m going to let you live after saying a thing like that?” Now directly in front of Tristan, Articuno raised his large blue wings and smirked once more, “Say goodbye, you filthy human.”
A fresh blast of wind swept across the mountain peak bringing what seemed to be all the snow in the forest with it. The wind met at the center of the plateau, where the wind swirled and spun. Seconds later, the wind and snow formed an enormous icy column that reached and disappeared into the clouds above. In the middle of this mammoth cyclone Tristan stood, trying to hold onto what little that he had left. Each individual snowflake felt like a miniature dagger piercing into his skin.
Why did he have to die? What did he do wrong? These among other thoughts swirled in his mind like the snow in the wind. Why did it have to end this way?
He remembered how Totodile and Torchic were the only ones willing to believe he was really a human. How he was welcomed into their team with open arms, when they so easily could have just left him behind to be lost and confused. He remembered the feeling of excitement, and accomplishment they all shared after completing their first mission. How he was able to support his friends in their time of need, and vice versa. They meant so much to him. What would he do without them? It was almost to the point that they were like family. Now, he felt alone. Again.
“No!” he thought, drawing strength from his will, “I won’t let it end like this!”
Another gust of air from the blizzard swept him back, pushing him out of the clutches of the blizzard. Beside him was the miniature toolbox of Team Charge-Net. It was open and inside was a familiar blue looking berry. Without thinking he grabbed the berry and shoved it in his mouth, chewing as quickly as possible to feel its effects. As the energy began to return to him he looked beside the toolbox, seeing another familiar item.
The link box! Maybe it wasn’t so hopeless after all. “First things first…” Tristan thought, grabbing for his bone. With it, he flung it towards Articuno, who jumped aside once more to dodge it. This diversion finally caused the blizzard to cease, and gave Tristan the time he needed to use his link box. In desperation, he linked all four of his moves at once. No sooner had he done that had he began to charge directly for Articuno, ignoring any pain that tried to hold him back.
“Oh please…” Articuno sighed, watching Tristan’s approach, “What surprise do you have for me this time… another head butt?”
“I’ll show you!” Tristan shouted, moving to strike Articuno with his bone. Tristan couldn’t help but be impressed with the speed of this bird. How many times had he dodged his attacks? And this time was no exception. Now at Articuno’s side, Tristan was left fully exposed.
“It’s as I thought,” mocked the legendary ice Pokemon, raising his wings again to whip up wind. “Another predictable attack. You’re strong, I’ll give you that, but this will be your downfa-”
Wasting no time, Tristan initiated his actual attack. Every single move he had, with all his strength he unleashed on Articuno, aided by the fire of his inner fury. “BONEMERANG!” He shouted, sending the bone flying directly past Articuno’s head. Articuno flinched slightly, expecting the attack to hit. “HEAD-BUTT!” he continued, springing up into the air, finally managing to make a connection with his skull and Articuno’s. At the same time, Bonemerang was returning, and before Articuno could correct himself for a safe landing, he met face to face with the bone.
“OH SHI-,” Articuno, thought in the only moment he had. The downward spin on the bone caused him to be whipped clean out of the air, landing back first in the snow, knocking the wind out of him.
Tristan jumped high above the downed bird, catching the bone, and allowing gravity to bring him upon his opponent. “TAIL WHIP! BONE CLUB!” he finished, stomping down on Articuno’s chest, while striking hard with his bone on the side of his neck. He felt the bird’s entire body flinch beneath him at this, and causing Articuno to shriek in pain.
“YOU HAVEN’T FELT THE HALF OF IT!!” Tristan roared, bringing his bone down upon the bird once more. He hit again and again and again. He kept hitting over and over again, his anger overpowering him, as if he could not control himself. “This is for Totodile!” he cried, tears streaming from his eyes; “This is for Torchic! This is for-!”
“Enough!” Articuno finally choked, flailing wildly to get Tristan off. He staggered to his feet battered, bruised and practically pulverized. Tristan rolled to a stop and like Articuno, staggered to his feet. He just now realized he’d not only hurt the bird, he’d hurt himself in the process. All his thrashing about caused the cuts and scrapes on his shoulder to reopen. It was dusk now, and any trace of the sun had vanished, not that they would have seen it through the thick cloud and snow anyway. It was very dark now, and Tristan found it difficult to see far past Articuno.
“No more!” the blue Pokemon said, gasping for air “Please. No more.”
This sparked another flare of anger in Tristan. “Oh! And what would you have done if I said that?”
“Ignorance… that’s one thing I hate about filth.” Articuno grumbled, looking down into the snow with a look of detestation and humiliation. “I’m not as heartless as you think. It’s not in my nature to kill mercilessly. My role in this world is to be the guardian of the forest, and its inhabitants. And it is a job I take seriously.”
“You act pretty heartless to me! What with trying to kill me an-”
“You!” Articuno interrupted, “Are different.”
“What? Why me? What did I do?”
“How should I know?” Articuno replied, “You must have done something, or nobody would have told me to kill you.”
“Wh… What?” Tristan asked, slowly beginning to calm down. His anger, bit by bit, was replaced by confusion. “But, who?”
Articuno glanced up over through the cloud to the edge of the plateau at something Tristan could not see. “You will know soon enough,” was his simple reply, “Whoever is doing this seems pretty desperate. You won’t be left alone for long.” Again, he looked over to the edge of the plateau. Something had caught his eye, Tristan just wished he knew what. He looked back down at Tristan, and for the first time, Tristan thought he saw a hint of sympathy in his eye. “Cherish what moments you have left.” On this final note, with great difficulty and pain, he spread his wings and lifted himself into the air, and being far from graceful, began to depart from the mountain peak.
“Wait…” Tristan moaned, as the last of his energy drained out of him quickly. He was now able to fully realize the shape he was in. Frostbite covered him from head to toe, and he was beginning to slip in and out of consciousness. “Who… who wants to… kill me? Wh… what’s going… going… going…” But before he could finish, he finally fell into the depths of fatigue.
The last things he saw were several shadowy figures approaching him through the fog. He thought he heard faint voices, but whatever they said, he did not know. He began to fall forward, but did not remain awake long enough to feel the landing.
Strange… he thought he ought to know those voices...
Tristan opened his eyes to see the bright light of the sun glinting in his eyes. It was strangely warm here, wherever “here” was.
“Hmmm…” he thought, “Is this death?” as he sat up and scanned to see where he was. He was back in the comfort of the team base; the warm afternoon air seeping into the base made for a good contrast after the freezing night. At his side were Torchic and Totodile, who’d been having a quiet conversation up until now. Tototile looked pretty relieved to see Tristan up. Perhaps it was because Torchic was distracted from getting on his case. “Oh…” Tristan said, still half awake, “I must be dead.”
“You’re not dead!” Torchic shouted, irritated “Is that the first thing you say after all that’s happened!?”
“With what he’s been through,” Totodile said towards Torchic, “I don’t blame him.” He turned to Tristan, “Taking on a legendary, how on earth did you manage that?”
“Hang on,” Tristan said holding out his hand to stop them. “What happened? I was told that you were all killed.”
“Who told you that?” asked Totodile.
He sighed. “That ‘oh so legendary Pokemon’ Articuno.”
Torchic shook her head; “We’re fine, as you can see.”
“That’s a relief,” Tristan said. Either Articuno underestimated his friends, or he didn’t try to kill them after all. He paused a moment to think. “So… what did happen?”
Totodile, aided by Torchic, began their explanation of everything that had happened since the avalanche. How everyone, including Team Supreme, managed to survive, and how they joined forces to find him. Tristan found it hard to believe that they joined forces, it had been less than a day ago that they were at each other’s throats. They continued to explain that when they neared the peak they saw Articuno retreating from what seemed to be a battle, evidently injured severely.
“When we arrived at the top of the cliff,” Totodile continued, “we were all shocked to find that it was you who had caused Articuno all that damage.”
“How did you do it Tristan,” Torchic asked, “what happened?”
This time it was Tristan’s turn to explain his side of the story that had unfolded on the peak of the mountain. He explained that he’d found Team Charge-Net there, and that Articuno had used the novice team as bait to bring Tristan there and how he had been told that both Totodile and Torchic had died. He also mentioned how Team Charge-Net tried to help him with his battle, but ended up becoming frozen as a consequence. Finally he explained how a Reviver Seed, an Oran Berry and a Link Box all saved his skin and helped him win the battle.
“You’re amazing Tristan,” Totodile said in awe, “if only we could have helped in some way, though.”
“Well, I’m really impressed,” Torchic added. “But what could have caused you to pick a fight with Articuno in the first place? He’s not supposed to attack innocent Pokemon, like that.”
“Eh, uh…” Tristan answered nervously. Articuno had mentioned that someone else had wanted him dead. Should he tell them? What would happen if he did? Would they abandon him? Would they say that he was too dangerous to be around? He didn’t want to worry them either. Perhaps nothing would came of it anyway. “I… don’t know why.” Tristan began to feel uncomfortable when he said this, and quickly tried to change the subject. “Anyway, what happened to Team Charge-Net?”
“They’re fine now, but you were much worse than they were,” Totodile said, “As soon as we got back we took you to Nurse Chansey to look after you guys.”
“She said that if you had been exposed to the cold any little longer,” Torchic continued, “your frostbite would have been incurable. Your limbs were black when we found you, and your back was…” she shuddered at the thought. “Oh I can’t even imagine what happened to you. Thankfully, she said you’d make a full recovery. All you need is rest.”
“Alright,” Tristan commented. He noticed for the first time that he was practically covered from head to toe with bandages. That nurse they were talking about sure must have worked hard if she’s done this much. One question, though, took priority over all the others. “When can we rescue again?”
“Well…” Totodile said, “she recommended against rescue missions.” He then gave a broad grin and whispered into Tristan’s ear, as if Chansey were nearby, “I’m sure we can go on a few easy missions, though. As well, since you got to Team Charge-Net first, we got to keep our bronze rank. And we don’t have to worry about Team Supreme anymore, they promised to leave us alone.”
“That’s good…” Tristan replied.
As the day went on, the team continued their conversation, eventually deciding to prepare for a mission the next day. As the team visited the Pokemon Village, the warm weather felt comfortable to Tristan after his cold encounter, though he still didn’t appreciate how humid it was. Tristan de-linked his attacks at Gulpin’s link shop before helping Torchic and Totodile prepare for the mission. The team also caught word that Team Blue would be leaving early the next day for another long mission.
With that, Tristan was left for the night at the team base, while Torchic and Totodile departed for their own friend zones. As Tristan watched the sunset, he decided on his plan of action the next day. He would wake up early, before Torchic or Totodile could arrive at the team base. He would then head for the Pokemon Village. His goal would be to encounter Dave alone, and try to talk with him. Just like Gardevoir had asked him to do. With that in mind, he went indoors and as night fell, he prepared for bed.
“Dave,” he thought, “the first time I met you, you didn’t recognize me. But I’m sure that if I explain everything, you’ll remember. Please… remember…”
Before long, he drifted into sleep. What would tomorrow bring?
To be continued…