This is what you get when i cross the coming of HGSS with my favourite geography topic - my first ever oneshot :0
Thanks Becky and DDT for proofreading
Rated 12 for dramatic scenes of stuff blowing up.
The Chasing Flames
A deathly growl ripped through the still air, louder than anything she had ever heard before, more sudden than anything she could have expected. A raging blast that shook the very sky, blanketing it with a dark haze. The sheer power of the earth itself, the choking smell of thick, black smoke and the fire. The golden tongues that burned with fury chasing anything that would try to evade them.
Flaze squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head desperately trying to forget the scene of destruction she had seen. She raised an arm, stained with black, to wipe the salty tears that flowed continuously from her sore eyes. But the picture wouldn’t fade, wouldn’t leave her alone. The sharp scent still clung to her singed clothes and she threw her arm back down in disgust.
She was leaning awkwardly against a hard surface, the cool, white, interior wall of a laboratory. She had been offered a seat but had refused, insisting that she would sit on the floor and that those in more need would be more comfortable. She forced herself to think that she was lucky; at least she wasn’t injured. She was sure that if she repeated it enough times that it would be true, and she was safe now, unhurt. Others had suffered much more, lost much more.
Flaze opened her red tinged eyes slowly and raised her head so her cropped, dark hair rested against the wall. She hoped the wall wouldn’t be too dirty when she finally came to stand up. But that wouldn’t happen any time soon, not since the world had ended. Because it had, hadn’t it? There would be no reason to ever stand up again because there was no point, there was nothing left to stand up for. Not for her, not for any of the Cinnabar evacuees.
At least I’m not hurt, she repeated again. But did that really matter when she had nothing left anyway? Because there was nothing to return to other than the blackened remains of her home.
At least I’m alive, she thought. She gazed sightlessly at the bustling scene in front of her of doctors tending to patients, of families huddled together with their Pokémon.
But they have their Pokémon! Flaze was engulfed by a fresh wave of tears as the vivid memories returned once again to haunt her. She was sure her world had ended, because if it hadn’t, where was her best friend? Why did she have to be perfectly safe in Professor Oak’s laboratory in Pallet Town a whole sea away from him, in place of him?
She never remembered how long she sat there, only that after time the pain had slowly reduced to a ceaseless throb and somehow, she had fallen asleep.
~24 hours previously~
‘Coal!’ Flaze yelled in annoyance, snatching a small, red creature from the air in front of her.
He vaguely resembled a duck, in the sense that it had a round beak anyway. The rest of his miniature body was anything but duck-like. Thin, red fur coated his stocky frame from stubby feet to the bulbous extensions on his head, with the exception of a patch of bright yellow on his stomach. The tiny white claws on his hands and feet may have made him look more intimidating, but like all baby Pokémon, the innocent look in his eyes instantly deducted from the scary factor.
Flaze tried to glare at the Magby angrily, hoping to gain the effect of Coal understanding that repeatedly jumping up and down in front of her while she tried to watch a gym match, after having been instructed not to do so several times, was naughty.
Coal hung limp from Flaze’s grasp looking at her like she was falsely accusing him of murder.
Flaze gave up, grinning. ‘You always get your way’.
The Magby let out a squeak of happiness and jumped from Flaze’s grip, landing on the teenage girl’s shoulder. He let out a small spurt of orange flame from his beak, carefully avoiding his trainer, then snuggled against her short black hair.
Flaze smiled, and then returned her focus to the battle raging below her seat on the balcony.
‘Magmar, use Fire Spin!’ shouted the man on the far left side. Despite the fact that he was clearly quite old based on the remains of wispy white hair on his otherwise bald head, his stance indicated that he was still full of energy.
Well, he was the famous Cinnabar Island Gym leader, Blaine.
He was controlling a Pokémon surprisingly similar to the one on Flaze’s right shoulder, albeit much larger, and much more terrifying looking. The spiked fire Pokémon swished its thick, yellow tail causing the air to crackle from the bright flames trailing from the tip. Its long-clawed hands became fists as it opened its beak and let loose a stream of fire which swirled and twisted around its opponent preventing it from escaping.
Flaze glanced towards the right side of the arena to see how the challenger would react to the fiery attack. It was a young boy about the same age as herself, sixteen. He had ruffled brown hair and a determined look on his round face. His coat and rucksack lay in a heap a few metres back.
‘This isn’t over yet, I still have the advantage!’ he called in a strong voice.
Both competitors were on their last Pokémon. Flaze had to admit she was impressed, the newbies didn’t usually last so long. And it was true that the boy had the advantage, his water typed Pokémon did have the upper hand against a fire type like Magmar. But did he have enough skill?
‘Rain, use Hydro Pump and blast your way out of there!’
The Vaporeon screeched in reply, flinching slightly at the dancing flames caging it before raising its delicate, fin-framed head and shooting a high-pressure jet of water from its mouth. The freezing water hissed loudly on impact and clouds of steam enveloped the stadium like a dense fog. The quadruped twisted its feline body causing the jet to twist and drench the rest of the elevated fire.
Once the flames had gone, the Vaporeon stood its ground, panting slightly, swishing its powerful tail and glowering at its foe.
The boy looked pleased. ‘Now hit it with Bubblebeam!’
‘Magmar! You know what to do!’ Blaine retaliated.
‘Reeyah!’ Rain growled, again opening its mouth this time to shoot pulsing bubbles.
The Magmar stood rigid, unmoving until the last moment when the missiles would surely make contact. Then as fast as lightning it jumped up, stretching to its full length and released a giant burst of burning energy. Waves of fire rippled from its whole body spreading out across the whole of the battlefield heating the air up by several degrees.
The Vaporeon could do nothing but watch for the short seconds that it took for the gushing heat to slam right into it. The blue cat howled in pain as the searing air took its breath away, scorching its body and drying every molecule of water surrounding it. The steam from before had dispersed and the room was thick with humidity. It was all too much for Rain; the boy’s Pokémon slumped forward in exhaustion, collapsing on top of its paws.
‘Rain!’ yelled the boy, running onto the field, ‘Are you okay?’
Blaine recalled Magmar silently.
‘You did really well Rain, don’t take this loss hard,’ the boy said gently and stroked behind the Vaporeon’s central head fin. He held out a red and white Pokéball and Rain was sucked in with a flash of light.
The boy let out a low sigh as his mind came to terms with the loss. He had tried his best, and that was good enough for him. He stood up and faced Blaine.
‘That was a good effort. But you were overconfident. Feel free to return after you train more,’ spoke Blaine gruffly, but not in an unfriendly way.
The boy nodded, picked up his belongings and exited through the rocky tunnel that led out of the cavernous gym.
When he had gone, Flaze cheered loudly, ‘Granddad that was awesome!’ She got up, Coal still perched on her shoulder, and ran down the metal steps from the balcony.
Blaine laughed, ‘I’m glad you enjoyed it my girl.’
‘Sure did,’ Flaze assured him, ‘but it’s awfully hot in here now.’ She cringed, feeling the heat still scorching the air. ‘Doesn’t help that this gym is built in a cave on the side of a volcano.’
Blaine didn’t appear fazed by the temperature. He was used to it after all; being a fire gym leader required these sorts of adaptations. Although the thin white coat he wore would be less stuffy than the tight t-shirt and jeans Flaze had on. ‘Let’s go then, and you can cool off outside.’
‘Sir, there has been a slight increase in tremors that are being recorded at the lab,’ spoke a scientist on the other end of the phone. He was one of Blaine’s colleagues who studied the Cinnabar volcano. The mountain had been active for several years now, occasionally spewing small bursts of lava or shooting plumes of smoke into the warm air around it. Only recently minor earthquakes had begun shaking the lone island, and this had concerned the local volcanologists and of course Blaine himself, who worked so closely with the volcano.
‘Are the quakes big enough to be of any major concern?’ Blaine asked, holding the other end of the line to his ear. ‘Should we start taking precautions?’
‘I think, at the moment, we just need to keep an eye out. The tectonic movement has only been small and may also be beneficial. Many small tremors could disperse the stored energy slowly, in small bursts rather than having one big movement which could upset the volcano.’
‘You are sure that it won’t erupt?’
‘I can’t be certain, but from the statistics it shouldn’t. However we all know it’s due to blow so we may need to do something. Can’t take too many risks.’
‘In that case, inform the services to put a stopper on the tourism for now. Tell Joy to send a message out dissuading any holidaymakers, or even trainers for that matter from coming here. Also inform the citizens of the island that an eruption may be imminent and tell them to start thinking about evacuating.’
‘For the time being, we must prepare the emergency boats and the volcano squads. Can you get the team together for briefing?’
‘I’ll call them now.’
‘Good. Inform me straight away if anything new develops.’
The reverberating echo of smashing rocks bounced over the steep mountainside. A series of flickering lights brightened the dull afternoon, accompanied by the shouts of a girl.
Flaze stood atop a large boulder with her arms crossed, and a thoughtful expression on her face. There was a small tear in her jeans. She had come to the volcano to train with her Magby, Coal, as she did every afternoon, training so her Pokémon would eventually evolve into a Magmar and she might even be able to use it at the gym. That was, if her Granddad ever gave up on doing gym battles. She grinned to herself; Blaine seemed to be able to go on forever.
‘Bii?’ squeaked Coal, jumping around below her. The Pokémon seemed nervous for some reason.
‘What’s the matter Coal?’ Flaze asked. She knew the Magby so well that understanding what it was trying to say was almost second nature to her.
Coal tilted its round head upwards, gazing at the crest of the volcano where a thin trail of smoke was being issued. ‘Mag…’
‘Something happening in the volcano?’
Coal just stared at the plume silently.
‘Seems to be okay at the moment,’ said Flaze kindly. ‘Do you want to carry on training or are you worn out?’
Coal shook his head and jumped up again, ‘Magbiii!’
‘Good on ya Coal. Why don’t you practice that Ember of yours again? See if you can make this boulder too hot for me to stand on. It’s a challenge.’
Coal nodded vigorously then switched to a battle stance, ready to concentrate his aim on the boulder.
‘Ready, set, go!’ cried Flaze, getting ready to take the incoming heat. Training was as much aimed at her as it was at her Pokémon. How else would she be able to take the mantle of gym leader when it came? And Coal was a perfect example of how size wasn’t everything. She knew this wasn’t going to be easy for her.
Suddenly Coal leaned forward, took a deep breath, and started to eject a concentrated stream of fire from his beak. The red-hot flames crackled in the dry air and before long the boulder took on a faint tinge of red.
Flaze closed her eyes, concentrating on nothing but the heat, feeling it rising from below. She listened to the gush of fire pouring from Coal and swirling around the rock, flickering at its edges and licking at the barren ground. She felt the steady rise in temperature as the reddening boulder sent waves of heat through her strong boots. The blaze continued, ceaselessly pouring into existence, the result of years of training together. She and Coal helped each other to do their very best, because Coal wasn’t just her Pokémon, but her best friend.
Finally it was too much, and Flaze jumped, opening her eyes as she landed. She turned to Coal, grinning. ‘Awesome.’
‘Bii,’ squeaked Coal, punching the air, before suddenly turning to the mountain crest again. His black eyes widened in what could only be fear.
‘Huh,’ gasped Flaze, staring at the peak. She was sure the smoke cloud had grown bigger, much bigger, and far too quickly. She didn’t want to believe what might happen now, what was going to happen. She had lived her whole life on the Volcano, she knew the risks but never had it ever looked threatening to her. Not until now, that was. Her heart started to beat faster, like it knew that the moment was coming, the moment after which it might never beat again.
Then it happened. A sound louder than a nuclear bomb rent open the sky, so terrifying that it blocked out every other sense. Flaze stood frozen for that one second that it began, feeling only the ringing in her ears insistent on driving her eardrums to the point of no return. She was standing so still the immense clouds of smoke and ash billowing in rolling clouds in all directions would have turned her to stone, a statue of lava where she stood if it wasn’t for a certain Pokémon pounding her back into reality.
Flaze looked at Coal, clinging to her chest, and Coal looked back with an expression of utmost terror. That moment seemed to last forever, when in fact it was less that a second.
She acted instinctively. She threw a Pokéball into the air and a pale yellow horse emerged with flames in place of a mane and tail. The Ponyta sensed the danger immediately and flared her nostrils, skipping nervously ready to bolt. Flaze leapt onto her back, Coal hanging on tightly. Ponyta needed no command to run. To run for her life.
Flaze refused to look behind her as she clung to the back of her Pokémon. The dancing flames from Ponyta wouldn’t hurt her: her fire was safe. She very much doubted the flames of the raging lava flow would be so kind to her. Yet she could picture the magma gushing from the cracks in the mountain, shooting upwards by the intense pressure of the mantle so far below. She could see the hot rivers of lava, the molten rock charging down the slopes crushing everything in its path, and burning.
Ponyta ran faster and faster, neck lowered and ears flat against her head. Trees rushed past like blurs and rocks were dodged and leapt over.
But Flaze could hear the river coming closer and closer. The roaring of the flames conjured by the heat of the rocks, whole valleys of rock turned into boiling mud pouring towards her. The whistling of boulders flying past her, knocking down trees like pins as they were blasted through the air, too fast to see. The piercing sound of alarms and sirens below her; at least the islanders would get away. Her granddad would save them all, they didn’t need to die. They wouldn’t be killed by the suffocating smoke that turned day into night, even if she would.
‘Mag…’ squeaked Coal so quietly Flaze nearly didn’t hear him.
No, Flaze thought, I can’t give up hope.
The trees around her were soon crackling with fire. Flaze could see barely anything other than the orange of the flames, the smoke was too thick now. The acrid smell filled her lungs and threatened to choke her.
Suddenly, Flaze got the feeling of being followed. Not the feeling that one gets when being followed by another person, someone or something that isn’t a threat, but a feeling of being followed by something dangerous; something incredibly dangerous.
The hurtling boulder was so close that Flaze could even see it through the smoke when her eyes darted behind her, she listened to the scream of the air as it was parted, the missile aiming directly at her. Her throat was too dry to allow her to scream.
She knew she was about to die. How could she have ever thought that was how her life would end? It had been so sudden and unexpected. Tears formed in her stinging eyes. She tensed, preparing for the impact.
Then something happened so quickly, Flaze wouldn’t have noticed if she hadn’t felt Coal leaping away from her arms.
‘Coal!’ Flaze yelled as loud as she could manage, her voice breaking and drowned out by her coughing.
The air around her, already burning with heat, suddenly glowed bright gold, the temperature rising rapidly from the fire pouring from the Magby’s beak in mid jump with enough power to force the projectile away, blasting it to dust.
Tears poured freely from Flaze’s eyes and she pressed her face against Ponyta’s neck, refusing to believe what had happened. She restricted her desperate urge to turn around and find Coal, but her intense fear and sense of loss prevented her from saying the words that would send Ponyta and herself to their doom. Flashes of black and orange blurred past as images in her mind, she felt dizzy.
The last thing she remembered was the galloping rhythm of the horse before she lost consciousness.
~12 hours later~
Flaze continued to drift in and out of sleep, deluding herself that nothing had happened, that she was safe at home with her family and Coal. But the bustle of people prevented her from forming any solid dreams of the reality she had lost forever. Her life was void because her best friend had gone. He had died to save her. This pain was worse than any physical ailment that she could have ever been inflicted with.
Occasionally doctors would pass by her, offering help. She ignored them, because her pain could never be healed.
Families began to leave the lab in small groups, all with the same look of quiet anguish and despair. Yet they would recover eventually. Rebuild their lives on the island or move somewhere new. A fresh start.
‘Flaze,’ murmured a rough yet gentle voice.
Leave me alone, she complained inwardly, not bothering to look up. But as much as she tried to block the signals her brain was sending her, slowly she accepted that she recognised the voice. But the revelation was still no encouragement to look up, because facing Blaine now would be more than she could bear.
‘Flaze, please.’ The voice was insistent.
Still Flaze remained frozen.
But then, as if her deepest wishes had suddenly been answered, she heard the one sound that would give her any reason to live. That one short syllable was enough to shock her fading mind back into life and set her heart pounding.
Shock and confusion enveloped her, it wasn’t possible, it couldn’t be possible. She looked up tentatively.
Bundled into a soft blanket in Blaine’s reddened arms, was Coal. His small body was covered in bruises, scratches, blistering burns and blackening ash yet it was him. Definitely her Magby, and he was alive, just.
Flaze couldn’t believe what she was seeing, her immense shock and pain transforming into aching relief and speechlessness. She raised her hands in a wordless gesture, and Blaine gently laid the bundle in her dirty arms.
The eyes on Coal’s tiny face sparkled, gazing at Flaze like she was the only thing that existed.