A Promise Broken. The Search for a Friend.
Where was he going? When would he get there? What was he looking for?
These were questions that Tristan did not know the answer to, and the time, he couldn’t have cared less about. It had been several days of aimless wandering since he had left the Pokemon village. Now, he found himself wandering through a dim cave. The walls were made of pale blue stone, with the occasional green stone protruding amid the blue. Crystal clear pools of water were scattered throughout the cave and where there wasn’t a pool of water, the ground was pale white and glossy with a thin film of water.
The shock he’d experienced that day when he left the village had passed and in its place were sorrow and loneliness. “Everyone… everyone hates me…” he thought occasionally as he walked onward, letting his bleak mood consume him. “I had this feeling back when I was a human. It haunted me constantly. Was I fooling myself into thinking I could escape it? Am I really meant to be alone?”
Tristan had managed to keep from starving by eating the apples, berries and seeds that he found along the way, though food was gradually becoming harder and harder to come by, so he was forced to ration what little he had left. He carried these items in a pale green scarf he’d found on the ground. Under normal circumstances, he might have tried to find out who its owner was, but these were not normal circumstances, and so, he gave it no thought. The scarf couldn’t hold as much as the toolbox, but it held just enough for what he needed. He had the scarf tied around his neck, allowing his back to carry the burden instead of his arms. As he walked, his stomach ached with hunger, though he knew if he ate too soon, he would have less for when he really needed it. There was, though, no doubt that soon there would be no food left, and what would he do then? Starve to death?
As Tristan continued, he began to lose a sense of the world around him…
“Dave!” a distant voice called. “Time to come in for dinner!”
The sun was setting on the suburbs of Iconium City, the orange glow of the sun cast long shadows from the surrounding bungalow houses, the cars parked in their driveways and the lush green trees spaced evenly along the road on every lawn. Among these things, two twelve-year-old boys walked along the cement sidewalk, which ran parallel with the still freshly paved road.
“That’s my Mom,” Dave said with disappointment. Dave had golden blond hair, which caught the brilliant colours of the sunset. His deep green eyes were also lit by the unique lighting. He wore a plain red T-shirt with denim shorts, as well as a pair of black sandals on his feet. For his age, he was a little shorter than average, though, to compensate for this, his marks in school were among the highest in his grade. This was seen by many to be his blessing, but to him, it was his curse. At least, he used to think it was his curse. He frequently used to be the target of the local bullies at school, who were jealous of his high marks.
Tristan, who was just above average height for his age, looked over at his friend. His deep brown hair hardly caught the sunset; however, it still had an orange-like sheen on it. Like with Dave, the sun highlighted his rich brown eyes too. He wore a black T-shirt, with a blue long-sleeved shirt beneath. He also wore dark blue jeans and on his feet, a pair of running shoes that were nearing the end of their days. His marks in school, however, weren’t as admirable as he’d wanted them to be. This was not because he didn’t try to do well, though and it was not it because he didn’t care. Because his parents constantly moved, it had taken a toll on his studies and Tristan had to cope with different schools and different teachers. By the time he entered a new school, a normal student would have adjusted while Tristan had to start over from square one.
The first time they met, Tristan had been leaving his first day at his fifth school. Dave had been near the bike-racks, on his way home. He was stopped, though, when a few bullies from his class had started harassing him, trying to steal his finished assignment.
Being the new kid in school Tristan knew all too well with how it felt to be bullied, and had hardly hesitated to jump into the fray to fend off the bullies. Dave received this act, which Tristan had thought was only the normal thing to do, with appreciation and admiration. Grateful for the deed, Dave wanted to pay back the favour in any way he could. He achieved this when he learned that Tristan needed catching up in terms of academics. From this, a sort of friendship spawned where Tristan helped Dave by acting as somewhat of a bodyguard, while Dave aided Tristan by being a sort of tutor. That was the first time Tristan had ever made a true friend, the evening they had first met was an evening very similar to the one that surrounded them now. Before long, they had become best friends, neither of them seeming to do anything without the other.
“Darn,” Dave continued. “Too bad dinner couldn’t be later.” Only moments after he had said this, a low rumble resounded from his stomach. He raised his hand up to the back of his head, grinning slightly, “hehe… Looks like my body is saying differently, though. I guess I’ll be seeing you tomorrow then?”
Hearing Dave’s mother call for him put a weight in Tristan’s heart. He wished his mother could have called him home, it didn’t even have to be for dinner. He wished his parents could have cared half that much for him as Dave’s parents did. He knew what would be waiting for him at his home. No one would be there to welcome him. No warm meal would be waiting on the dinner table, nobody would be there to help him with his homework if he didn’t understand and nobody would be there to wish him good night. Like every night, when he arrived home, he’d have to fend for himself.
His parents would arrive late that night, only to rest a few hours before leaving again early the next morning. On a normal day, Tristan wouldn’t even see them. It was a rare occasion to actually see his parent’s faces and when he did, they would never pay much attention to him. Tristan, despite feeling envious of Dave, did his best to hide his emotions.
Tonight, though, there was something else that was also bothering him. Something strange, something he couldn’t explain. It was as if Tristan could feel that something coming, something huge.
“Hey, Dave?” he asked nervously.
“Yes?” Dave said, turning back.
“Can I ask you something?”
“Sure,” he answered hurriedly, “but you gotta make it quick, you know how upset my mom gets when I don’t come home right away.”
He paused a moment. What had he even wanted to say? He wasn’t even sure about that. It might have been just his nerves acting up after all. Still, he felt compelled to say something. “Dave. We’ll always be friends… right?”
“Huh? Why would ask something like that?”
“If… I end up moving again,” Tristan said, trying to make sense of his feelings. “Or if we don’t see each other any more for whatever reason… you won’t forget me, right? We’ll still be friends?”
“Is that what this is about?” Dave replied, a cheerful smile spreading across his face. “Well sure. I mean why wouldn’t we? Of course we’ll always be friends.”
“Tristan?” Dave said confusedly, seeing the uncertain expression on his friend’s face. “I don’t understand why you’re asking this. Is something wrong? Are you actually moving?”
“I…” Tristan began, “No. I don’t think so… I usually would have plenty of warning about that. Please just promise me though. Just humour me. Please?”
“Alright alright,” Dave answered, with his hands raised slightly. He proceeded to put one hand on Tristan’s shoulder, “I promise you that you will always be my friend and no matter what happens, I’ll never forget you. It’s the honest truth, and I say it with all my heart. Okay?”
“… Okay,” Tristan said, though it didn’t do very much to reassure him. “Thank you.”
“Hey, no problem!” Dave chuckled, “I don’t know what that was about, but if it helps I’m glad to do it.”
“Dave!” Came the distant voice again, this time sounding annoyed, and displeased. “Last warning!”
“Well… see ya then!” Dave waved as he began head for his home.
“Yeah.” Tristan answered a couple moments later, after Dave had already walked a short distance away. Saying goodbye was nothing out of the ordinary; it was something that he would have usually done absent-mindedly. Why was this time so different? He tried to shake the feeling off, but every time he did it would only return again. By now, Dave had turned the corner, disappearing behind the tall, green hedge that surrounded his backyard. Tristan held his breath a moment; the last rays of sun disappearing behind him.
“Goodbye…” he thought quietly as he turned to head for his own home, reaching into his pocket for his keys.
Tristan’s senses returned to him that moment. He had apparently been aimlessly walking that entire time, though he couldn’t remember any of it. “That was the last time I ever spoke with Dave… at least… the Dave I knew…” Tristan thought, “the next day, he disappeared.” He stopped to think a moment, an image of Dave’s new form appearing in his head. “It’s been four years, Dave… and you have already broken your promise! You have already forgotten about me!!” He fell to his knees, punching the ground in frustrated sorrow. He winced in pain as he lifted his hand again to look at it. A cut he had received from earlier on his journey had reopened, causing blood to begin to drip onto the ground. But blood was the last thing on Tristan’s mind. “Why? Why did you break your promise!?”
By now he had already exited the mouth of the cave, and into the surprisingly chilly evening air. Ahead of him, lay an enormous mountain, which was black against the setting sun. The mountain was scattered with hundreds of tiny bright orange lights. Lit from the orange beneath, steam rose high into the darkening sky above the mountain, eventually dispersing back into the air. On the very top of the mountain lay a crater, where the steam reflected the brightest of the orange light. The foot of the mountain stood within a couple kilometers away from him. Even from here, the sight was intimidating.
Whether it was because he was finally losing his mind, or if it was because something had motivated him to keep moving, Tristan lifted himself back to his feet and continued on his path towards the mountain. He shivered, as the air became increasingly chilly.
“I shouldn’t be getting cold in a place like this…” Tristan thought, rubbing his arms together to try to warm up. “This is a volcano. It should be hot here… And with the earth’s temperature rising, the heat should be unbearable. And yet…” As much as this was a troubling thought, though, Tristan didn’t pay it any mind, returning instead to a state of anguish as he reminisced over his sudden memory again.
Tristan saw no point in walking to the peak of the mountain, instead, he traveled along the slope, close to the base. It was said that here, too, resided a Pokemon of legendary power and if it was anything like Articuno, then he wanted to avoid confrontation at all costs. He hadn’t even managed to fully recover from his last battle, with parts of his body aching as they were reminded by the cold.
Every once and a while, he’d pass by a pool of lava, that had managed to withstand the cold night air, though in many places, it looked as if the cold had prevailed, causing the lava to freeze back to its solid state. It was these places where he’d take a brief rest, gratefully soaking in the heat from the lava before continuing. As soon as he left though, the cold would quickly return.
He continued walking for several more hours, until he reached a part of the mountain where a small plateau had formed. The plateau was completely bare, and surrounded by enormous outcroppings of rocks. As well, at the end of the plateau farthest from the mountain resided a small pool of lava. The plateau itself was nothing special, but it was what was on the plateau that caught Tristan’s attention. As he approached, he could see two figures standing in the center.
“Who could they be…?” Tristan thought as he crept up to one of the outcroppings, trying hard not to make a sound. Being sure to stay close to the rock, and to remain hidden in the darkness, Tristan peered between two of the rocks and into the clearing.
The figures were those of two large birds, much like the size of Articuno. One of the birds had black and yellow spiky feathers that made it look like it had been struck by lightning. It had a large crest of feathers around its head, with a very long, thin, orange beak that looked like a nasty weapon. The colour of the beak was also the same colour as its legs. Its piercing eyes, which were circled by black rings, glared at the other bird Pokemon with great distaste.
The other bird was just as strange as the first. It had flame coloured feathers, making it resemble that of a phoenix. It had dazzling wings, with an elaborate head crest which both seemed to be on fire. In fact, this Pokemon was the brightest Pokemon on the plateau, being the largest, if not only, source of light and heat there. Tristan was surprised that even standing at his distance of ten meters, he felt slightly warmed. It, too, had a pointed beak that was the same colour as its brown legs; however, its beak was significantly shorter compared to the yellow bird’s. It also shared the same expression of yellow bird, looking as if there was anywhere it would rather be than in its company.
The tension in the air between these two birds was intense. Tristan could almost feel the negative charge in the air as he watched on, thankful that they had been focusing on each other so much that they hadn’t yet noticed him. It was clear by the silence, and the looks they exchanged that they hated the very sight of each other. Yet, if this were the case, why were they here? Before Tristan could think of a reason, a new sound resonated from the edge of the plateau, as a new Pokemon entered. Both the yellow bird and the fire bird turned to see the newcomer, while Tristan tried hard to peak out from between the wedges of rock without being noticed.
The very moment he caught a glimpse of this newcomer, he froze; finding himself momentarily paralyzed with shock. It was Articuno, the very same Pokemon that had so nearly cost him his life. He quickly hid himself again, pressing his back hard against the rock, hoping he hadn’t been noticed. What was he doing here? What the heck was going on? His eyes darted to all sides, his pulse rising as he waited for the three birds to pop out from behind the rocks, which he thought would be any moment. What would he have done then? He couldn’t even handle one of them without help. He wouldn’t have stood a chance against three!
As the seconds passed, however, the only thing that surrounded Tristan was silence. As Tristan began to calm down, he took a moment to think clearly over the situation. Both of the birds on the plateau had been turned away from him when Articuno came in and Articuno was too focused on them to have noticed a little Cubone hiding far away in the shadows. They couldn’t have noticed him. He also had noticed that Articuno had a slight limp to his step. Like Tristan, he still hadn’t fully healed to their battle. Cautiously, Tristan dared another peak around the rock.
By now the three birds had congregated in the middle of the plateau, Articuno being the centre of their attention.
“What took so long?” the fire bird demanded impatiently, in a low, but very clear voice.
“Who cares about how long it took?” The yellow bird interrupted fiercely, snapping his head towards the fire bird, cutting Articuno off before he could even start speaking. His head snapped back to Articuno, as he asked a question of his own, “Well? Did you do it? Did you finish the job?”
“Excuse me!” a voice echoed though the passages of Lapis Cave, “Oh, please wait a moment!”
A small, blue and tailless, bipedal lizard turned his head at the sound of the voice, wondering whether or not the voice was addressing him. He had a solid, whitish bone structure which covered the top of his head in the shape of three bumps that extended all the way to the back of his neck. The only other parts of his body which wasn’t blue was the skin under his chin, and a triangularly shaped region of skin on his belly, both of which were pale yellow. Looking back, the Bagon watched as a Totodile wearing an orange and yellow bandana around his neck rushed up to him, a Torchic wearing a blue scarf running alongside him. The Totodile was lugging a rather large toolbox along with him as he tried to wave, as if trying to make sure he’d caught Bagon’s full attention.
Upon arriving, Totodile panted slightly as he set down his toolbox and bent over to rest his hands on his knees. A moment later, he reached for the bandana around his neck, removing a small badge that had been attached, and showed it to the Bagon. “We’re… We’re a rescue team. Team Supernova,” He stated. “We’re looking for a Cubone that might have come by here. Can you please tell us if you’ve seen him? And if you have, where he went? His name is Tristan and he would have been traveling alone.”
The Bagon shook his head. “Uhhh… I didn’t see any Cubone passing by here.”
“You didn’t?” asked Totodile, heavily disappointed. His head sank as he reattached his badge onto his bandana. “Well… thanks anyway… sorry to trouble you.” With this, he reached for the ground, picking up his toolbox again before continuing on.
“Here’s payment for your cooperation,” the Torchic said hurriedly, handing a few Poke over to the Bagon before hurriedly following Totodile. When she caught up to him, she slowed down to his pace and they both walked in silence.
It had been several days since the incident in the village, and since then, they had been desperately trying to pick up on the trail that Tristan had left. However, Tristan had apparently become invisible, since almost zero Pokemon they had seen so far had seen him. All they had to go by were a few leads, which were a couple Pokemon pointing in a general direction they had seen him go. Even then it might have been any Cubone. The team seemed to grow more and more hopeless with each step they took.
No more than an hour after the events in the Pokemon Square, the village was more or less back to its normal pace. The angry crowed had dispersed to carry on with their lives while Charizard, Tyranitar, Sceptile and Typhlosion had stayed behind, to decide what should been done from there. Dave, who had lost his spirit to go on a mission, had retreated to Wiscash Pond, which was where he usually went when he wanted to calm his nerves. Plucking up their courage, Totodile and Torchic confronted Team ACT and Team Blue, demanding what they had done to Tristan.
“What are you talking about?” Sceptile had asked, still fuming with anger. “Didn’t you see what he did?”
“Really,” Charizard exclaimed. “How can you be friends with a pathetic little glory seeking wannabe like him?”
“HE’S NOT LIKE THAT!!” both Totodile and Torchic answered defensively.
“What’s this?” Tyrantar said, “You’re siding with him?”
“Of course!” Torchic cried, “He’s our friend!”
“He wouldn’t try to steal anyone’s glory! That’s just the kind of thing Tristan does! And if you took a moment to get to know him, you would see that!” Totodile added. “But you didn’t, and now he’s out there somewhere alone because of what you did! Is that the kind of thing rescue teams do to each oth-”
“ENOUGH!!” Sceptile growled while clenching his teeth so tightly that it snapped the seed in his mouth the second time that day. “Your team is in no position to tell us what’s right and wrong. You steal missions, you try to benefit on other people’s accomplishments, who knows what else you have been doing!”
“I think you’re idiots being deceived by his trash!” Charizard said, crossing his arms impatiently. “I also don’t want to hear anymore about this. Do you want to be the next to leave?”
“I wouldn’t want to stay here, even if you begged me!” Tododile yelled defiantly. “I don’t want anything to do with people who would cause pain to my friends!”
“That goes for me, too!” joined Torchic.
“… So this is how it is going to be?” Tyranitar finally spoke after a couple uncomfortable moments of silence. His voice was calm, yet cold at the same time. Whatever rage he harbored, he did very well at hiding it. “I knew your team was nothing but trouble.”
“Leave! And never show your faces here again!” Charizard growled. Unlike his teammate, Charizard was not able to conceal his rage as well. His fists were clenched, trembling as he held himself back. “This village doesn’t need you either!”
It was then that Totodile and Torchic had turned their backs, approaching the bridge to leave the village. Behind them, they could hear Sceptile call threateningly, “You better hope that I never see any of you again!”
Neither of them paid any acknowledgment to the last comment, continuing on with their march out of town. By now they had reached the forest, the village disappearing behind the dense trees. Neither of them talked for several minutes, only when they had reached the path to their team base, had they stopped to think.
“So…” Torchic started.
“… So what?”
“What will we do now?”
“Isn’t it obvious?”
“You want to go find Tristan. Is that it?” Torchic asked.
“And you don’t?” Totodile asked, turning to Trochic with an accusing look.
“Its not like that,” Torchic replied defensively, “You know full well that I would be the first to go and find Tristan. But… its just that…”
“You’re still not sure if he’s a human,” Totodile finished. “Torch-”
“I know you’re thinking the same thing!” she shouted back. “Tell me honestly! Why was it that you decided to recruit him back in Tiny Woods? Did you believe that Tristan was a human the first time he told you?”
“This has nothing to do with-”
“I… I…” Totodile stuttered, averting his eyes with shame, “I was hoping that our team would be the next Team Blue. It seemed too good to be true when I found Tristan just lying there in the clearing. It was exactly how Sceptile described the first time he met Dave. I thought… I thought that if he became a member of our team, then we would be destined for great things too…”
“Exactly,” Torchic said, “Do you remember what you told me back then? You told me that we should play along, to deceive him into thinking we believed his story. How far are you willing to go Totodile? How long are you going to keep this up until you realise that he might not be human after all?”
“… I know it was selfish to use Tristan like that,” Totodile admitted. “I guess I just became blinded by my excitement that we might be onto something big. But…” he continued, as he lifted his head to face his team mate, “Torchic. I’m not going after Tristan because he’s a human. I could care less if he was human or not anymore. I’m going after him because he’s my friend. Back there in the village, I wasn’t acting. That’s how I really felt. Tristan is a valuable friend to me. He is to you too, isn’t he?”
“Of course he is!” Torchic blurted. “I am just as close a friend to Tristan as you are. But it would be wrong to go after him because you thought he would lead our team to greatness. I want to save him because he’s my friend, too.”
“Then, there’s nothing more to discuss,” Totodile finished a smile beginning to return to his face. “Let’s go find Tristan.” With this, Totodile turned towards the dirt path, and began to walk, increasing the distance between him and the village with every step. Torchic quickly joined him.
“We’ll have to apologize to him,” Torchic said. “He deserves to know what we’ve done to him.”
“I know… But for now we need to worry about actually finding him.” After this, they walked for a couple more minutes, until Totodile stopped at a fork in the road. His eyes traveled from one path to the other and back again.
“Do you even know which way he went?” Torchic asked.
“… So you just started walking without any clue as to where he went? We didn’t even bring our toolbox! How far do you expect we’ll get?”
“Hey hey” Totodile said, raising his arms frantically, “I didn’t see you taking the lead.”
Torchic let out a tremendous sigh; “We’ll never find him like this! C’mon, we’re going back to the team base. We need to treat this like a rescue right? So we’ll need items to help us along.”
“Alright…” Totodile answered, as he turned to follow Torchic back to their team base.
The following days passed with little success. Now they were exiting Lapis Cave after searching what felt like every square foot of it. Exhausted, they wondered which way to go next.
“Do you think we will actually find him?” Torchic asked, “Do you think he came this way? I mean, what if we’re heading farther and farther away from him”
“Well,” Totodile answered his voice heavy with doubt, “We were told he was heading for Lapis Cave… and he wasn’t in there. But what now?”
Torchic looked down trying hard to to think like Tristan would. But doing so only caused her to become even more unsure where to go. “It’s hopeless,” Torchic said, opening her eyes. It was then that something on the ground caught her attention. “Or… is it?”
“What is it Torchic? You find something?”
“C’mere,” she answered, waving Totodile over. Look at the ground here. Doesn’t it look strange to you?”
Totodile looked to where she had indicated. Surely enough, a small part of the ground looked different from everywhere else. The dirt here was stained and extremely dark shade of red to the point of almost being black. Torchic lowered her head, close to the substance to smell it, and drew back quickly upon realizing what it was.
“What is it?” Totodile asked.
“It might be,” Torchic answered. “But look here. Look at how the dirt is shaped. It looks like he was kneeling or something… and look. There are footprints heading in that direction!”
“Mount Blaze…” Totodile said quietly, as he followed the tracks with his eyes, “why would he go there?”
“We have to follow him,” Torchic urged, “what if he’s in danger?”
“Yes,” Totodile answered, “We’re not giving up on him just yet!”
And so… with a new lead to go by, Torchic and Totodile hurried off toward Mt. Blaze as fast as their legs would carry them, hoping that by some chance the path would lead them to Tristan. While on the mountain, something was unfolding that would threaten the lives of all three of the members of Team Supernova.
“The feeling of being exiled…” Torchic thought to herself as she ran, “I’m no stranger to that feeling. When you think everyone hates you… Tristan… you are wrong. Just like I was back then, too.”
To be continued…