3rd July 2009, 6:41 AM
This oneshot was written for a challenge on another forum. Basically, the challenge is to write 7000 words in one week. This is an alternate version of what happens atop Mt. Coronet in Pokemon Pearl, basically, but this time around, Team Galactic have guns, and Cyrus has an altogether more sinister method of reaching his goal. What is that method? Read on to find out. Feel free to point out any errors, and I will get right on to them! M for violence, character death and mild language. Part 1 of 2, the whole thing was too long for one post.
“Go ahead. Shoot me.” His voice echoed throughout the subway station. I couldn’t see his face, couldn’t make out any details. All I could see was the silhouette, a shadow, seemingly part of the endless shadow that made up the scene in front of me. The darkness was in front of me, behind me, all around me. He was the darkness, and the darkness was him.
“I shouldn’t have to,” I said defiantly, struggling to keep my voice steady. “Just put your hands up and come with me.” I kept the gun trained on his chest. I really didn’t want to have to shoot him. The taking of another human life, the snuffing out of another spark to add to the hundreds of sparks extinguished every day, was a burden I didn’t want to have to bear.
“It would be so easy.” He spoke almost conversationally, yet his voice carried a note I really didn’t want to hear. He was in control of the situation, and he knew it. Even though I was the one with the gun. I decided to try again.
“Get down on the ground,” I said, attempting to inject some bravado into my voice. “Down on the ground, now!” He chuckled softly, a hair-raising noise that seemed to fill the deserted station. There was no humour in his laugh. It served no purpose other than to express his disdain.
“You have to shoot me. You have no other option, and you know this.” He was toying with me, playing mind games. “Yet you won’t. You are afraid. Fear is a human emotion. Human emotions,” he said dangerously, “are a weakness.”
“You’re wrong!” I said loudly, feeling a desperate need to block out the sound of his voice, to stop his insidious words from planting their seeds of doubt in my mind. “I’ll shoot you if I have to, but only if there’s no other alternative. Just get on the ground, dammit!” My hands were sweating. My grip on the gun was slipping. I felt my whole body shaking as I fought to retain control. He laughed again, and a shiver ran down my spine.
“I see now,” he said. “It is not fear that stays your hand, but compassion. How bizarre. I am your enemy, yes? A wanted criminal? So why do you feel the need to show me mercy?”
“You are not my enemy,” I told him. “You are a lawbreaker, and you are officially under arrest. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say . . .”
“Can and will be held against me in a court of law. I know. However, I have no intention of coming with you. You have no means of forcing me to. Therefore, we find ourselves faced with a dilemma.” I swore silently. He was right, as much as I hated to admit it. I had no means of contacting anybody else. That blasted EMP had taken care of that. Nobody else knew we were down here. I couldn’t force him to move. Since I had confronted him, he hadn’t budged an inch. He seemed quite content to remain where he was, even with a handgun pointed at his chest.
I was dimly aware that above us, Sunyshore City was still a veritable battlefield. As solid as the station was, it was still struck by occasional tremors as explosions tore the city apart.
“Your private army is doing this, Cyrus!” I said angrily. “The death toll is rising – officers and civilians both – and you started it all!” I was getting carried away. I tried to force myself to calm down. It didn’t work. “Why?” I burst out. “What can you possibly hope to gain from wreaking this destruction?”
“I will not tell you,” he said calmly. Damn it, why wouldn’t he react? Any other man would have done something by now. “I have no intention of discussing my plans with a weak fool like you.” His logic wasn’t adding up. Or was that his intention? Did he mean to confuse me?
“You claim that emotions make you weak,” I said. “Why, then, do you so despise me and those like me? Is hate not an emotion?”
“Not hate,” he corrected me. “Contempt. You are worthless, weak humans. The very spirit that compels you to fight weakens you by equal measure. I have rid myself of emotion; therefore, I am strong. The human race lets their hearts rule their heads; therefore, they are weak.”
“You are as human as any of us!” I shouted, adjusting my grip on the gun slightly. A bead of sweat trickled down the side of my face. “You can’t change what you are!” Damn, this was going too far. I’m supposed to be apprehending the man, not getting into a psychological debate! Yet even as I forced myself to concentrate, I couldn’t help but wonder if he had a point.
“Oh, but I can,” he said. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I grow tired of this meaningless babble.” He stepped forward confidently and I adjusted my aim to compensate.
“Don’t move!” I yelled, the gun shaking in my hands. What was he doing? He didn’t pause. He just strolled on, as casually as if he was going for a walk in Amity Square. I backed up and blocked his exit. The only way in or out of the station was a narrow stairwell, and I had it covered. Cyrus just kept walking.
“Kindly get out of my way,” he commanded. I took a deep breath.
“I don’t take orders from you,” I said. He smiled joylessly.
“Perhaps not, but I suggest you raise your hands.” My head span for a second. What could he possibly be talking about? Then I felt the distinctive impression of a gun barrel pressing into my back.
“Drop the gun,” growled a voice from behind me. Petrified, I did as I was told. The gun clattered to the floor. Cyrus picked it up and casually tossed it over his shoulder. It bounced and skidded into the darkness behind him.
I still could not see his face.
“Good work,” he said over my shoulder. “Deal with this imbecile and get back up as soon as you can, understand?”
“Yes, sir,” muttered the new arrival, shoving me out of the stairwell so that I landed, sprawling, on the concrete floor. Looking back, I saw Cyrus’ silhouette disappear up the stairs. A second silhouette detached itself from the shadows and walked towards me. I couldn’t make out many details, but I deduced that it was one of Cyrus’ many identical soldiers. And he was carrying a gun. An MP-5, probably, judging by the others I’d seen around Sunyshore. “Goodbye, cop,” he sneered derisively, opening fire.
Bullets slammed into the concrete all around me as I desperately rolled away. Chips of concrete flew everywhere as the Galactic soldier laid down a wide spread. I kept rolling, and by some miracle wasn’t hit. I scrambled to my feet, hoping he was as blinded by the darkness as I was, and-
-fell off the platform. It wasn’t a high drop, only about a metre and a half, but I hadn’t seen it coming, and the metal subway rails were unforgiving. I bit my lip to stop myself from crying out, and tasted blood. I didn’t seem to be seriously injured, but it would take a while to get my breath back, and I was sore all over.
“Are you dead yet, little copper?” taunted the Galactic soldier. I heard his boots slapping on the concrete, and hurriedly pressed myself against the side of the platform I had just fallen off. As I did so, my hand brushed something familiar. My gun! It must have fallen off the platform when Cyrus threw it away. Snatching it up, I made sure it was still working and aimed it upwards. I hadn’t wanted to kill anyone before, but now . . . Now, if he saw me, I was dead. I didn’t want to die. I dimly registered motion at the edge of the platform above me. Resolutely, I pumped the trigger three times.
At least two bullets made contact.
The soldier cried out. A second later, there was a thud on the ground next to me, and I realised he had fallen off the platform. He didn’t appear to be breathing, but all the same . . .
Aiming the gun at where I thought his head might be, I pulled the trigger again. The shot sounded awfully loud in the otherwise silent subway station. At least I was sure he was dead now.
I pulled myself back onto the platform with some difficulty, and lay on the concrete, trying to reclaim lost breath.
I just killed a man.
It was self-defence!
But I still killed him.
He would have killed me!
It doesn’t matter. I still killed him. There is one less man on this earth.
I couldn’t believe it. I felt sick. What was I? I felt like a monster. I was no better than Team Galactic.
I knew I had to get up, though. It wasn’t safe here. As I pulled myself to my feet, my foot knocked something. The Galactic soldier’s MP-5. I picked it up. I had a sinking feeling that I was going to need it.
Outside the subway station, Sunyshore City was a war zone. Relief at the presence of light soon gave way to horror. A blanket of smog hung over the streets. Mostly smoke from all the explosions detonated, mixed with the early morning mist off the ocean. The street I was standing on was markedly different to how it had been when I went in. Obviously Team Galactic had come calling since.
Not a single house remained standing for as far as I could see. Most were reduced to rubble. One or two had just one wall left. There was nobody around. It was like a ghost town. Except for the-
I was thrown off my feet by an earth-shaking explosion. Looking around wildly, I saw the source of the disturbance. About a kilometre to the west, a large cloud of smoke was forming. Gritting my teeth, I headed towards it.
Before I could get very far, though, a large, bulky truck screeched around the corner behind me and sped towards the smoke. I leapt out of the way to avoid being run down. The truck, however, slid to a stop right beside me. A door in the back opened, and two pairs of arms reached out and pulled me in. The door slammed behind me, and I felt the truck accelerate again. Grabbing a railing, I looked around wildly. The small compartment was lined with benches. Arrayed about the tray were about half a dozen men, all in khaki fatigues and, judging by the shapes of their torsos, wearing heavy body armour underneath.
One of the men that had pulled me onto the truck firmly pushed me onto a bench, and stood in front of me, looking me up and down. He was a large man, about thirty, with close-cropped brown hair.
“What’s your name?” he barked. It wasn’t a request.
“Tyson Bach, Sunyshore Police Force,” I said, “sir.” I had a feeling this stranger outranked me. “Might I ask who you are?”
“Lieutenant Dragon of the SMC. I’m in charge of this unit.”
“Dragon? SMC?” I asked, baffled.
“We don’t use names here, copper, we have call-signs. Security matters. SMC is the Sinnoh Marine Corps.”
“Oh, thank Arceus,” I said. “Marines.” Finally, there was hope. The SPF was well equipped for dealing with petty criminals, but war was not our specialty.
“Hold up on those thanks, Blue. We’re in a bloody war here, and it don’t look too peachy from where I’m standing.”
“Blue?” I asked, confused.
“Your name is now Blue. You will call me Dragon and obey my orders. We need all the help we can get. Meet the boys,” he said, gesturing to the other men arrayed around the back of the truck. This was all happening too fast. It seemed I’d just been drafted. Dragon pointed to a small man with bleach-blonde hair and a lopsided grin. “That’s Plus. He’s our medic. Crack shot too, but aren’t we all?”
“Sup,” said Plus by way of greeting. I nodded, speechless. Dragon continued his introductions.
“This is Seadra. He’s our sniper.” Dragon gestured at the other man who had pulled me into the truck. He was thin as a rake, but the large rifle he cradled in his arms more than made up for his lack of physical size. He didn’t say anything, opting to just nod. “Boomer, demolitions.” Boomer was a huge, bald man with ebony skin and a mouthful of teeth. He was casually tossing a grenade from hand to hand as if it were a tennis ball.
“Boomer? Why’d you call him that?” I asked. Boomer chuckled.
“I plant bomb. Things go boom!” he said enthusiastically.
“I see.” I swallowed.
“I’m Double-A,” offered another man, whose most prominent feature seemed to be his biceps. “Call me Dubs,” he said in a friendly manner. Seeing the look on my face, he pre-empted my question. “Double-A stands for Anti-Aircraft. I’m the one who gets to lug the bloody Stingers all over the place.” He laughed. The last man in the truck glanced at me furtively from below bushy eyebrows.
“That’s Ninja,” said Dragon. “Espionage. He doesn’t talk much, so don’t try chatting. All right, that’s everyone. Are we clear?” he asked. I swallowed.
“Good. Dubs, fit him out,” said Dragon, propelling me towards the rear end of the truck, where Dubs was sitting. I noticed there was a pile of assorted equipment strewn around his feet.
“Here, give me that,” he said, nodding to the submachine gun I hadn’t realised I was still carrying. “It won’t be much good where we’re going.” I handed it to him gladly. The thing scared me anyway. “Use this instead. It’s an M-16, top of the range,” he said, handing me a solid-looking rifle. “Now, you’re gonna need one of these,” he added, replacing my soft blue hat with a green helmet and placing a small earpiece in my left ear. “This’ll keep your head safe, and,” he tapped a small mic that snaked down from the ear, “this will let you keep in touch. Retain military efficiency at all times while on the secure channel, blah, blah, blah. Now, you need to-”
Dubs never finished his sentence, and I never found out what I needed to do, because at that moment, the truck was rocked by a hefty explosion, sending everybody inside bouncing around like rubber balls. The truck came to a halt, and everybody climbed back on to their seats, breathing heavily. We all looked at Dragon. Grimly, he raised a finger above his head and spun it in a quick circle. Move out.
We all piled out the back of the van, M-16s at the ready. It seemed the comm system had been switched on, for when Dragon spoke next, his voice sounded in my ear as well.
“Fan out, people, secure the area. Form a defensive perimeter around the truck.” Silently, we spread out, settling into a rough oval around the truck.
“Looks like a Stinger, sir,” came Seadra’s voice in my ear. “Driver’s gone, and so’s half the cabin.”
“Affirmative,” said Dragon. “Be on the lookout for hostiles. Let’s roll.” As one, the unit peeled away from the defensive perimeter and followed Dragon, fanning out behind him. “We’re going for the epicentre of that blast earlier,” he said. “Whatever it is can’t be good. I don’t know what those Galactic goons are up to, but I’ll be damned if they’ll get away with it on my watch!”
“Sir!” said Seadra from the right flank. “We got incoming!” I whipped around to look. Sure enough, about ten Galactic soldiers were coming down a side street. They saw us at the same time that we saw them. Professionally, they split in two and advanced down each side of the street, using the buildings as cover. This part of town obviously hadn’t been razed yet.
“Fall back,” ordered Dragon calmly. We retreated warily, backing down a side street opposite the one the Galactic men were coming out of.
“Dragon! In here!” suggested Plus, ducking into a two-story house with the door kicked in. Dragon nodded, and the rest of us followed Plus inside, with Ninja covering our backs with his M-16.
“Oh, dear Arceus,” I breathed as I stepped inside. I felt the bile rising in my throat. “Look!” Sprawled on the floor by the far wall was a tangled pile of bodies, riddled with bullet holes. A young couple, rendered unrecognisable by the messy red wounds all over them. What was worse, though, was the two small children who had suffered the same fate.
“What kind of animals are these Galactic goons?” spat Seadra in disgust. “Children! Those are bloody children!”
“Take up defensive positions,” ordered Dragon, speaking over the top of Seadra. I could tell that he was angry too, but was fighting to hide it. I immediately went to the nearest window and knelt in front of it, gun at the ready, trying desperately to banish the image of the young family from my mind. Seadra disappeared upstairs, clearly focused on the same thing. Ninja, Boomer and Dubs went to the other windows while Dragon took up a position behind an overturned table that gave him a clear shot at the door.
Team Galactic clearly weren’t tactical genii. They had seen us go into the house, yet they all came charging down the street nonetheless. Four of them tried to get through the door, and the rest went for the windows. Gritting my teeth, I pulled the trigger. The glass in front of me shattered, and one of the men on the other side dropped, clutching his neck.
“Nice one!” said Boomer at the next window over. “You keep shoot like that, you be Marine in no time!” He laughed loudly, surprisingly cheerful for a man under fire in a war zone.
The four men that had come through the door were now down to two. Dragon had made short work of the first two through the door, but now, the remaining men were spraying the inside of the house with submachine-gun fire. We were forced to dive for cover. I found myself behind a metal table, crouching next to Dubs, who was bleeding from the arm.
“You all right?” I asked. He waved me off.
“I’m good. Plus will patch that up in no time.” Famous last words. As he spoke, Plus went flying past us, crashing into the wall, blood leaking from multiple bullet holes. Dubs growled under his breath. “All right, now it’s personal!” Gritting his teeth angrily, he stood up. “Eat this, you!” he yelled, tossing a small, silver sphere into the centre of the room. The firing stopped as everyone peered at it, including me. “Idiot,” Dubs muttered, pulling me down behind the table and forcing my hands over my eyes. I soon realised why as a flash of light filled the room. Even with my eyes covered, I saw it.
I dropped my hands from my eyes and peered cautiously over the table, only to see the Galactic men – the two that had made it through the doorway and a couple of their comrades – staggering around helplessly, clutching their eyes. As I watched, Dubs shot one of them in the head. Dragon killed the second one, and Boomer the third, moving with military efficiency and impassiveness. Swallowing, I brought up my rifle, aimed, and fired, blowing the last one off his feet.
“This feels wrong,” I muttered, but nobody heard me. I shouldn’t be here, shouldn’t be killing people. Yesterday, the thought that I would have to kill a man had never crossed my mind. Yet today, in the last half an hour, I had taken three men’s lives. Three men who would never see another sunrise. Three men who might well have had families; wives and small children, just like the ones that were lying on the floor behind me.
But that was just it, I reminded myself. These men had killed innocent people, women and children, without discrimination. I could never forgive them for that. I hadn’t seen a living civilian since this morning.
My sister was still out there somewhere. My twin sister, my dearest friend in the entire world, my lifelong companion, was somewhere in this hellhole of a city. Damn. Those Galactic wretches had been raiding the city all day, killing everyone they came across. Only the police force was able to resist. And Haley was out there somewhere.
I made up my mind then. I was going to tear Team Galactic apart one by one until I found my sister. Dead or alive.
Last edited by M-Dub; 5th July 2009 at 8:20 AM.
3rd July 2009, 9:59 PM
OK, here's part 2. I guess this technically makes it a twoshot. Sorry it took so long to get it up. Enjoy!
Dragon’s voice startled me out of my seething.
“Good job, Blue,” he said. I realised that was as close to a compliment as I was going to get from him, so I nodded and smiled silently.
On the other side of the room, Dubs was bent over Plus’ body, checking his pulse.
“Not a blip, Lieutenant,” he said sadly. “I’m going to get those Galactic creeps!” Dragon raised an eyebrow.
“Be careful, Dubs. Don’t do anything rash, alright?”
“Yes, sir,” Dubs mumbled, not meeting his superior’s eyes. It was obvious that the loss of Plus had hit him hard.
“All right!” roared Dragon suddenly, startling me. “We can’t stay here any longer, so let’s roll. Seadra, how’s things look up there? Are we clear?” There was no answer. “Seadra?”
Sensing that something was wrong, Boomer shot up the stairs three at a time. The rest of us waited, holding our breath. After a few seconds, Boomer’s voice sounded in my ear.
“Oh, man, this no good.”
“What is it, Boomer?” asked Dragon anxiously.
“Ah . . . you need see this, sir,” said Boomer. Looking slightly worried, Dragon jogged up the stairs. I looked over at Dubs. He nodded. We both followed Dragon up the stairs. Ninja remained on the ground floor, standing impassively by the door.
“Oh, no,” I breathed when I got to the top of the stairs. A pile of bodies lay by the window. Three Galactic soldiers, and Seadra. Boomer was checking Seadra over.
“No good, sir,” he said sadly. “Seadra gone. They gone too,” he said, referring to the Galactic men. “They come through window, Seadra get them. Then they get him before they die. All die at same time. Is sad.” Once again, I began to feel a little sick. So much death! Was it really necessary?
But of course, it was, I reminded myself. Haley’s still out there somewhere. I had to get to the bottom of this, for Marie’s sake, if not my own.
“Let’s go,” said Dragon. “We’ll come back for Seadra and Plus if we can. For now, we have to keep moving. Come on.” He stepped past Dubs and I to go downstairs. Boomer, Dubs and I stayed for a moment, looking at Seadra sadly. Then we turned and followed Dragon downstairs, and out of the house. Ninja followed us silently, showing no emotion whatsoever.
“Our best bet is to go the way those Galactic soldiers came from,” said Dragon, heading off at a run. We followed.
For five whole minutes, we saw nothing. Literally, nothing. No Galactic soldiers, no civilians, dead or otherwise. Nothing. The city was empty, and as silent as a tomb. That is, until we came within sight of the market.
On any normal Saturday, Market Square was filled with life. Colourful stalls, noisy children, haggling adults. It was part of the lifeblood of Sunyshore City. Today, however, there would be none of that. But still, there was something there.
“Spread out and approach with caution,” Dragon ordered. Silently, we obeyed, fanning out to creep along both sides of the street, just as the Galactic men had done before. As we neared Market Square, I heard voices. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but they were voices nonetheless. Sneaking forward, I took up a position behind a large skip. I could see the other soldiers taking cover out of the corner of my eye. I cautiously peered around the bin to see none other than Cyrus, the infamous leader of Team Galactic. Standing in front of him were two soldiers, one of whom was holding a silver laptop, which Cyrus was tapping away on. The group was no more than ten metres away.
“Good,” Cyrus was saying. “The Lake Valor sensors indicate that Azelf is waking. Verity and Acuity are slightly further behind, but that is to be expected. Being in close proximity to this city, Azelf will have a stronger mental link than the other two. Sooner or later, it will be fully awake and on its way here, followed by its cousins.” The two soldiers glanced at each other, nonplussed. It was obvious that they had no clue what their boss was talking about. I certainly didn’t.
“Dragon,” I mumbled into my helmet mic.
“Copy, Blue. What have you got?” said Dragon’s voice in my ear.
“Not much, sir. Cyrus is talking about waking up Azelf, as well as something about Lake Verity and Lake Acuity.”
“This can’t be good,” said Dragon. “Azelf is a powerful legendary Pokémon. Whatever he’s planning, I don’t think it involves a happy ending.”
“There’s nobody else in the square,” I noted. “Should we confront him?” Dragon remained silent. I could almost hear the cogs clicking away in his mind.
“It goes against my training, but . . . we need to put a stop to whatever he’s doing before he wreaks any more destruction. Boomer, flash-bang. Ninja, take the one with the computer. Dubs, the other one. Blue, cover me while I take Cyrus. Nobody shoot him.”
A small silver sphere rolled out from Boomer’s hiding place, coming to rest at Cyrus’ feet. This time, I remembered to close my eyes. A familiar flash of white light scorched my eyelids, and when I opened my eyes, the two Galactic soldiers were staggering around, rubbing their eyes. Two shots rang out. The soldiers fell to the ground.
Cyrus had evidently been smart enough to cover his eyes when he saw the flash grenade. He did not run, did not try to fight. He simply stood there, as impassive as he had been in the subway station. Cautiously, we came out of hiding. As the others fanned out to surround him, Dragon and I advanced slowly, guns trained firmly on him.
“What are you doing, Cyrus?” Dragon asked him. “What the bloody hell are you doing?” Cyrus said nothing. Dragon growled dangerously. I could tell he was fighting not to lose control. “Blue, grab the laptop,” he said. “We’ve got you covered.” Cautiously, I crept forward. Cyrus simply watched me.
“Take it,” he said quietly. “Do you think I care if you know my plans? They are already underway, and nothing you can do will be able to stop them. Your destruction is inevitable. You will all die, just like the citizens of this worthless little town.”
Breathing hard, I picked up the laptop, all the while keeping my eyes on Cyrus. He made no attempt to stop me. Retreating to stand beside Dragon, I crouched down on the ground and opened the laptop. It didn’t appear to be damaged when the Galactic man dropped it; the shell was made from reinforced steel. The screen flickered into life. My jaw dropped.
Three videos were playing on the screen. Each seemed to be a current image, judging by the timestamp in the corner, and each showed a similar place – a gloomy cave, with lots of water on the floor. What was most amazing, though, was what was sitting – or rather, floating – in the middle of each. The top screen showed a small, pixie-like Pokémon with a rounded yellow crest on its head. I recognised it from multiple accounts, myths and pieces of art. Uxie. The bottom left screen showed a similar Pokémon, this time with a pink crest. That had to be Mesprit. The bottom right screen showed – nothing. I looked at Cyrus.
“Where’s Azelf?” I asked. Cyrus smiled.
“If Azelf is not resting at Lake Valor, it must already be on its way here,” he said. “It senses the suffering of the people here, and is trying to help them. Soon, Uxie and Mesprit will arrive as well. Look at the screen.” Against my better judgement, I did. “You will see, beneath each of the remaining Pokémon, a green line on a black background.”
“Yes . . .” I wondered where this was going.
“Can you tell me,” he said, “if either of the lines are spiking?” I didn’t understand at first, until I realised that the line was slowly moving across the screen. Every now and again, the line would jump up, like a heartbeat.
“Heartbeat,” I said slowly.
“No,” said Cyrus. “That graph is measuring the Pokémon’s brainwaves. The more activity, the more restless they are. They are eternally dozing, if you will, but now, all three of them feel the suffering of Sunyshore’s people. Azelf, being closest, is already en route. But the others will not take long. You can’t stop them.”
“So if this is all part of your master plan, Cyrus,” said Dragon, “why don’t you tell us how it ends?”
“Oh, no,” said Cyrus. “I would rather keep that a surprise. But we have no time to discuss it, in any case. Azelf has arrived.” He pointed over our heads.
“Don’t look,” Dragon muttered urgently. “It might well be a trick!”
“No, sir,” said Ninja, who was covering Cyrus from behind, and thus facing the opposite direction to Dragon and I. “He’s right.” It was the first time I had heard him speak. Before I could say anything else, however, a strident tone rang from the laptop. I glanced at it.
“Uxie is gone,” I reported. “And Mesprit,” I glanced at it, “appears quite agitated.” Mesprit was awake, and dashing around the cavern at high speeds, flying around and around in circles before finally shooting off camera.
“That’s right,” said Cyrus. “Now you must see that there is nothing you can do.”
“There has to be something,” I said. “There’s always something.” The thought of Haley was, as it had been for quite some time, at the forefront of my mind.
“Ah, yes,” said Cyrus with sudden understanding. “You’re the gentleman that tried to shoot me in the subway, aren’t you? You certainly are persistent. Such determination is honourable, but foolish. This will only end one way. No matter how hard you try, the outcome is inevitable. Now, gentlemen, I suggest you lower your weapons,” he said.
“Now why would we do that?” Dubs asked.
“Because,” said Cyrus, “you have no other option.” As he spoke, Ninja, who had been standing silently behind Cyrus the whole time, swung his aim drastically and fired a single shot. Boomer fell to the ground, clutching his chest. At that short range, even his body armour couldn’t protect him.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing, Ninja?” shouted Dragon angrily, trying unsuccessfully to aim around Cyrus. Ninja was using the Galactic leader as a human shield. Cyrus smiled.
“Drop your weapons,” he ordered.
“We still outnumber you,” Dragon reminded him.
“Not necessarily,” said Cyrus with a hint of smugness as a dozen Galactic troops emerged from their hiding places around Market Square. “Now, drop your weapons.” Dragon’s rifle clattered to the ground. After a moment of hesitation, I followed suit. Dubs, however, would not. He kept his aim trained firmly on Cyrus.
“Stand down, soldier!” Dragon barked. Dubs shook his head.
“I’ve lost enough friends today, sir. I’m sorry.” A single gunshot rang out. It wasn’t Cyrus who fell, however. It was Dubs, bleeding profusely from a hole in his neck. Ninja grinned.
“Damn,” muttered Dragon. “You idiot.” Cyrus shook his head sadly.
“Unload the cage!” he ordered. A large, bulky jeep swung into the square, with what appeared to be construction-site fencing sitting in the tray. Three men jumped out and started dragging the large pieces of metal off and erecting them. A fourth man followed with an electric screwdriver, bolting the pieces together. Within seconds, a large cage stood in the square. Cyrus gestured. “Inside. I want you out of the way while my plan goes ahead.”
Reluctantly, Dragon and I trooped into the cage; on the way, we were patted down and relieved of all remaining weapons. We were all that was left. When we got out of the truck, there had been seven men. Now there were two, three if you counted Ninja, which I wasn’t.
“He must have been a plant all along,” Dragon mumbled, as if reading my mind. “Son of a-”
“Do you have any ideas, sir?” I asked. Dragon glanced furtively at Team Galactic. Cyrus seemed to be occupied with the laptop display, and his men were dissipating, more interested in sealing off the square than watching two unarmed prisoners. “Any other Marines in the city?” Reaching up, Dragon switched off his helmet comm unit.
“Ninja’s still on our frequency,” he explained. “No, no Marines. We were sent in as a recon unit, with orders to put a stop to Team Galactic if humanly possible. Otherwise, we were to get the hell out of here and wait for the Army. So no, we’re on our own. I do, however,” he said slyly, tapping one of his multiple pockets, “have my Pokémon. When the time’s right, we’ll bust out of here. Until then, we just need to see what happens.” At this point, Cyrus walked over to the cage, the laptop tucked under his arm in a surprisingly jaunty manner.
“Well, gentlemen, Uxie and Mesprit have arrived,” he said, pointing. He was as close to happy as he was going to get, I was sure. Following his pointing finger, I saw three small shapes wheeling and diving over a different part of Sunyshore. “All I need to do now is bring them here and secure them,” he said, gesturing to his men, who were setting up three complicated-looking machines nearby. Each machine included an ominous-looking tank full of oozy green liquid. A fourth machine, smaller than the others and looking more like a radio antenna, had been set up near Cyrus. As we watched, Cyrus went over to it and flicked a switch. It immediately began to vibrate at high speed.
I couldn’t hear anything, but apparently Uxie, Mesprit and Azelf could. The three wheeling shapes paused, hanging in midair, indistinct and blurry. Then each of them shot toward Market Square.
“It’s an incredibly powerful Pokémon attractor,” Cyrus explained. “It emits a high-pitched tone that brings nearby Pokémon rushing to it. They sell weaker versions to amateur Pokémon catchers.” He turned and pointed at the men staffing the three machines with the tanks of green liquid. “Be ready!” he said. The men saluted stiffly. This would be their hour of glory, apparently. The time when they would push whatever big button they needed to push to further their leader’s goal.
Uxie, Mesprit and Azelf arrived in a whirl of colour. Sweeping around the square, they emitted ethereal cooing noises that made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. They each seemed fascinated by the vibrating antenna.
One of the Pokémon peeled away from its arc and came to float in front of the cage. It had a pink crest on its head, with a red jewel in the centre of its forehead and deep yellow eyes, soft and deep like pools of resin. There was infinite emotion in those eyes, an ancient empathy. I could do nothing but stare. My daze was short-lived, however. At that moment, Cyrus spoke.
“Now!” he commanded. Glancing over, I saw the men standing by the machines push a short sequence of buttons each. Bizarrely, Mesprit shot away as if sucked up a vacuum cleaner. It flew headfirst across the square and into the tank in one of the machines. A lid immediately closed over it. The same thing happened to Uxie, but Azelf was putting up more of a fight. Struggling desperately, it tried to fly away from the machine, but whatever pull it was exerting was too powerful, and it too was sealed away. In the space of a few seconds, three of the most powerful Pokémon in Sinnoh had been effectively and efficiently incapacitated.
“What are you doing?” I yelled at Cyrus. He did not answer me, simply continuing to issue orders.
“Begin formation of the Red Chain!” he proclaimed, the beginning of a triumphant grin teasing at the corners of his mouth, although I could tell he was fighting to contain it. Even as the soldiers manning the machines continued to flick switches and press buttons, I knew what I had to do.
“You have a spirit, Cyrus!” I called out to him. He turned slowly and walked toward the cage.
“What did you say?” he asked dangerously.
“Blue, what are you doing?” Dragon hissed.
“I know what I’m doing,” I reassured him. “I think.”
“What did you say?” Cyrus repeated.
“I said you have a spirit. You profess to be free of emotion, free of human constraints. But you can’t be.”
“I can and I am!” he hissed. I glanced over at the machines surreptitiously. They were now radiating a dull red light. The lake Pokémon seemed to be in great pain, writhing around and banging into the walls of their tanks. I had to move fast. It wasn’t just Haley I had to worry about now, I realised. Whatever Cyrus was up to, it was going to affect all of us. All of Sinnoh, probably.
“Listen to yourself!” I said desperately. “You can’t deny what you are, Cyrus! You were born human, with human flaws!”
“I have no flaws!” he said, squeezing his eyes closed as if to block out my words.
“You have emotions, Cyrus. You might try not to display them, but I know you have them. When I encountered you in the subway station, you professed to feel only contempt. But I saw different. I know, Cyrus, that you hate us. You hate everybody. You were filled with rage, hiding just below the surface, but you won’t accept it. And now, your plan is coming to fruition. Nothing can stop you. You feel confident. You’re happy.”
“I am not,” said Cyrus, breathing deeply. “Happiness and other human emotions are weaknesses. They get in the way of the objective.”
“No, Cyrus, they don’t.” I looked at Dragon in surprise. He was glaring at Cyrus with an intensity that was almost palpable. “Emotions are part of who we are as humans. They define us, they make us different. If there were no emotions, everyone would behave exactly the same. There would be no uniqueness, no individuality. The world would be-”
“I don’t care,” said Cyrus, struggling to retain control. “Soon, this world will be no more! I will create a new world, and it will be for me alone. I will no longer have to put up with these weak humans and their pathetic notions of emotion and spirit. And you,” he said with finality, “will be powerless to stop me.” I started to answer, but Dragon put a hand on my arm to stop me.
“Fine,” he said. “Make your new world. I don’t know how you’re going to do it, but it doesn’t matter. Just before you do, promise me this. Think about who you are, and what you are. You are as human as the rest of us. Can you sentence millions of your kind to death?” Cyrus frowned, doubtful.
“Sir!” shouted one of the soldiers from over by the machines. “The Red Chain is complete!” Cyrus lost his uncertainty immediately, striding over to take something from the man. Returning to stand before the cage, he held it reverently in his hands. It was a short section of chain, only three links long. What was strange, though, was the fact that it was made out of a ruby-like crystal that emitted a dull red glow. The same glow, I noticed with a shock, as that that had been emanating from the machines just seconds ago. I looked over at the machines, and my heart sank another few inches. Uxie, Mesprit, and Azelf were floating in their tanks, apparently lifeless. The red gem was missing from each of their foreheads.
“You’ve killed them!” I accused. Cyrus shook his head.
“No. They are not dead,” he demurred. “They are merely in great mental agony. They are not being physically harmed, but they are sending out waves of energy far greater than the small amount of suffering needed to bring them here in the first place,” he explained.
“So you’re creating pain, and using it to achieve your ends?” I asked.
“Essentially, yes.” His face betrayed no emotion whatsoever.
“You're sick,” I said. I couldn’t believe it. He was going to go through with whatever dastardly plan he had come up with. Whatever it was, it seemed to involve the destruction of the world. It seemed ridiculous. It seemed impossible. No one man could seek to end the world.
If there was one thing I was certain of, however, it was that Cyrus was no ordinary man. If anybody could destroy the world, it was him. I didn’t know how he planned to do it. I only knew that I couldn’t stop him. It was hopeless.
Cyrus had turned to face toward the middle of the square. He seemed to be waiting for something. Ten seconds later, I saw what.
It started with almost nothing, an infinitesimal speck of blackness in the exact centre of the square.
The speck grew rapidly. In five seconds, it was big enough to swallow a man. Ten seconds, and it could have fit a truck through it. It kept growing until it dwarfed everything else in the square. And then . . . it stopped.
“Yes!” cried Cyrus. “Come forth! Come, and create my new world for me!” The black anomaly thrummed. It was a beautiful noise, deep and mellow, rich and soft. It resonated within me, making me feel as if I was floating. It was beautiful, but terrible. It spoke without words of destruction, whispering of the end of the world as we knew it.
“What is that?” I asked in horror. “A black hole?” Dragon shook his head.
“I don’t know much about physics, but if that was a black hole, we’d all be dead now. No, I think it’s some sort of portal. I don’t know what he expects to come out of it, though.”
“Come forth!” Cyrus repeated, brandishing the Red Chain. “Come forth and serve me!” For a few seconds, nothing happened. Then the thrumming intensified. As everybody in the square watched with bated breath, two glowing points of red light materialised in the upper half of the black portal. “Yes!” cried Cyrus, abandoning all attempts to disguise his triumph. “Palkia! Build me a new world!”
“Palkia . . .” breathed Dragon. I glanced at him; his eyes were positively glowing.
“Cyrus!” I shouted desperately. I was determined to stop him now. No matter what. “What the hell are you doing? You can’t control that thing!”
“Yes, he can, actually.” It wasn’t Cyrus who answered me, but Ninja. Having retreated to a safe distance, he was now standing beside our cage, as cool as anything. “The Red Chain will enable Cyrus to bend Palkia to his will. It will follow his orders and create a new world, destroying this one in the process.” He seemed utterly calm about it. How any man could be so relaxed about his imminent doom, I didn’t know. Glancing at the other Galactic men, they seemed equally at ease. But then it hit me. None of them knew that Cyrus was creating a world for himself alone. They all thought Cyrus was taking them with him. From the Galactic leader’s outburst before, however, I knew he had no such plans. The madman wanted a world of his own, where he could be free of humanity, spirit and emotion forever.
“Ninja,” I said, “do you really think you feature in this new world of his?”
“Of course,” said Ninja, as if I had asked a completely ridiculous question. “The new world is for all of Team Galactic.”
“If you really think that,” I pressed, “you’re mistaken. Can’t you hear the way he talks? He despises emotions, and all things that tie him to the human world. Do you really think he wants to have all of you hanging around to remind him of that?” Ninja said nothing. “For him, it’s like an early retirement with benefits. He gets a world to himself, and destroys this one, and all of us along with it! Do you really want that?”
“If that is Master Cyrus’ will, who am I to deny him that?” said Ninja finally, looking over at the black void. A head was slowly beginning to emerge; a white, draconic head, with pink markings and a wild, untamed look in its eyes akin to that of space itself. Cyrus raised the Red Chain. Palkia seemed to sense the Red Chain. It slowly lowered its head toward Cyrus, toward the Red Chain he held in his hands.
“Damn it!” cursed Dragon. “We can’t do anything!”
“Dragon, your Pokémon!” I hissed. “What have you got?”
“Steelix, Machoke, Skarmory-”
“That’s it!” I cut him off. “Get Skarmory to take that Red Chain!”
“I can’t do that! Who knows what will happen? Palkia might go on a rampage! That thing could destroy all of Sinnoh – including us – before it goes back to wherever it came from!”
“A rampage?” I asked. “Why would it go on a rampage?”
“Palkia is an ancient and savage Pokémon,” he said. “Legends say that it flies into a rage if provoked in the slightest! We can’t risk that!”
“But it would save the world!” I argued. “Remember the saying ‘one life to save a thousand’? Well, this is like ‘a million lives to save billions’! Come on!” I urged. That includes Haley, if she’s still alive, I thought bitterly. Dragon sighed.
“I don’t like it, but you’re right.” He hesitated for a split second before plucking a Poké Ball from his pocket. “Go, Skarmory!” He hurled it through the bars of the cage, and in a large metal bird materialised in a flash of red light. Wheeling in the air, it waited for orders. “Skarmory!” Dragon roared, seemingly over his previous doubt. “Get that Red Chain!” Skarmory screeched in acknowledgement before folding its wings back and diving at Cyrus.
Ninja, realising what was happening, aimed his MP-5 and sprayed Skarmory with bullets. Skarmory spun like a top in midair, changing direction radically, and the volley of bullets missed. The second round, however, struck their mark. Skarmory screeched in pain, but kept flying, multiple dents showing clearly in its armour-like casing.
Skarmory seemed to take forever to make it to Cyrus and Palkia, even flying at full speed. When it finally reached them, it swooped, diving fearlessly under Palkia’s head and wrenching the Red Chain from Cyrus’ hands. Swooping away again, it headed back toward our cage at full speed.
“Shoot that bird down!” shouted Cyrus angrily. Soldiers around the square opened fire on Skarmory, but the bullets went wild, spinning and twisting like miniature rollercoasters. Not a single one hit its mark.
“Palkia’s distorting space!” Dragon muttered triumphantly. “It’s working!”
“No!” yelled Cyrus. “This can’t be happening! Kill that Pokémon!” I grinned.
“He’s losing it,” I said. Skarmory landed by the cage, the Red Chain held firmly in its beak. It cocked its head and watched Dragon with beady eyes, as if asking what it should do next.
“Get out of here,” Dragon said. “Take that thing as far away as you can and drop it into a volcano, or to the bottom of the sea. Anywhere, as long as Team Galactic don’t find it!” Being unable to make a noise due to the Red Chain clamped firmly in its beak, Skarmory simply nodded once, before spreading its wings and taking off in a rush of wind and creaking metal. I breathed a sigh of relief.
“The Chain’s gone,” I said. “We saved the world, I guess.”
“Yeah,” said Dragon, “but we’re toast.” He paused, thinking hard. “At least my family’s in Kanto at the moment. They’ll be all right, even if I don’t make it.” He glanced at me suddenly, as if he had just thought of something. “What about-”
“-my family? Unfortunately, I can’t say the same. My sister is in Sunyshore right now. At least, I think she is. I haven’t seen her before Team Galactic arrived. She might still be alive, for all I know.” Dragon’s eyes grew wide.
“You mean you did all this – told me to take the Red Chain from Cyrus, risking Palkia going on a rampage – while not only you were here, but your sister as well?” he asked incredulously. I nodded. “Even though she might still be alive?”
“Yeah, I know. She’d hate me if she knew.”
“No,” he said firmly, “she wouldn’t. That’s true courage, that is.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
“Do you think so?” I asked. “I don’t feel courageous. I mean, I’ve killed three men today, and I might have just helped sentence everyone in Sinnoh to death! How is that courage?” I asked. Dragon sighed.
“Listen, kid,” he said. “You’re a police officer, not a soldier. But you went out there today and you performed admirably. You killed three men, yes, but that’s the bloody truth of war. You rose to the occasion, Blue. I knew as soon as I saw you that you weren’t suited to this sort of thing. But ever since we left that house, there’s been something different about you. Something buoying you up, something that made you determined to succeed. That something was your sister, right?” I nodded. “So perhaps things didn’t turn out the way we wanted them to. Perhaps we’re going to die in a few seconds. But you did well, Blue. You talked me around to sending Skarmory out, even though you knew you would lose your sister because of it. That is true courage. If we were to make it out of this, I would personally make sure that High Command pinned the biggest bloody medal they ever made on you.” It was the most words I had ever heard Dragon say at once.
“Really?” I asked. Before Dragon could answer, however, we were interrupted by a voice. It was a deep, slow voice, ancient and powerful. It resonated through my head and around the square.
Who is responsible for this? it rumbled, swelling like crashing thunder and silencing all other noise. Who createth such suffering and pain? Who attempteth to bind me? Speak now, or I shall slay thee all. I realised with a shock that it was Palkia speaking. Cyrus, dwarfed by the mighty Pokémon that now loomed above him, laughed crazily.
“It was me!” he laughed triumphantly. “I brought you here! I would have bound you, and forced you to use your power to create my new world!” He was raving now, digging his own grave. Deeper and deeper by the second. Clearly, the failure of his project had sent him over the edge. Either that, or he knew he was doomed anyway, and simply didn’t care.
Thou shalt be justly punished, boomed Palkia. I will have no such disturbance in my domain. Now, it said, sweeping its head around in a great arc to cast its eye over everyone in the square. The Galactic soldiers were cowering behind anything they could find; they seemed unable to run. Who was the one that relieved this monster of his chain of enslavement?
“It was us,” Dragon spoke up bravely. Palkia swung its head around to fix him with its penetrating glare.
Then I am grateful to thee, human, it said, dipping its head slightly. Expect no boon in return, however. I wish not to be further embroiled in human affairs.
“Of course,” Dragon said, bowing. “As you wish.”
Thou art wise, human, said Palkia, beginning to retreat into the portal once more. Fare thee well. Alongside it, Cyrus walked along as if in a dream. His usual military stride was gone, replaced by the shambling shuffle of a sleepwalker. I got the impression that he had no control over his actions.
“Don’t think we’ll be seeing him again,” Dragon muttered. I shook my head silently. Together, we watched the void of emptiness in the middle of the square slowly dwindle away into nothing.
When the portal was gone, the change was immediately noticeable. The sun seemed to penetrate the smog somewhat more than it had before. Galactic soldiers were emerging from their hiding places, glancing around furtively as if they were afraid Palkia might return. Ninja, the only one who had not been hiding, remained standing beside our cage.
“Well, that’s that,” he said softly, with a tone of finality in his voice. “With Cyrus gone, what can we do?”
“Ninja,” said Dragon thoughtfully. “Why did you betray us?”
“I never betrayed you, Dragon. I’ve been working for Galactic all along. All I can do now, however . . .” he paused to draw a pistol from his belt, “is the honourable thing.” I closed my eyes, waiting for the shot. When it came, I flinched; immediately, however, I realised I was still alive. I cracked one eye open, expecting to see Dragon on the ground next to me. He, however, was staring at Ninja in astonishment. I followed his gaze.
Ninja was lying on the ground, with a single bullet wound in his head and a smouldering gun beneath his hand.
“Why did he-?” I started to ask, but couldn’t finish the question. Dragon shook his head sadly.
“He saw no hope. Rather than going to prison, as he no doubt would have, he committed suicide. He saw it as honourable, rather than cowardly.” We both remained silent for a few seconds.
I couldn’t believe I was actually still alive. Instead of tearing Sinnoh apart, Palkia had gone back to wherever it came from, taking Cyrus with it. Perhaps the legends of its ferocity were mistaken. Either way, Sinnoh – and the rest of the world with it – was saved.
Except Sunyshore. The city was devastated. Thousands of people were dead as a result of Team Galactic’s genocide. And Haley. Haley could well be dead too. I wasn’t going to give up hope, though. I was going to search Sunyshore inch by inch until I found her.
Or her body. Either way, I’d be damned if I let a little thing like being stuck in a cage stop me.
“Dragon?” I asked. “Have you got any way to get us out of here before Team Galactic decides to exact revenge?” Dragon grinned, expanding a second Poké Ball to full size.
“I’m sure I can think of something,” he said.
6th July 2009, 12:05 AM
Wow, this is one great story. I'm no expert, but I personally enjoyed this. The only advice that I could give you is to put some sort of quotes around Palkia's speech, that was the only real confusing part. But yeah, a great story all the same.
6th July 2009, 12:08 AM
Palkia's speech, actually, was italicised in the original version. It lost that when I ported over here, and now every time I try to edit it, it tells me there's a '500 Server error' or something, and won't let me change it. So, sorry guys. Glad you enjoyed it, though.