(Continued from last post.)
For a moment, Redclaw considered giving her his real name; the name his parents had given to him in the wild, but he rejected that thought immediately. He wouldn’t be able to bear being called by that name; the memories of what he once had and lost would be far too painful for him. “Redclaw,” he stated at last.
“My name is Ardunia,” the girafarig replied, nodding to Redclaw.
Redclaw was about to reply when he noticed that, one by one, the boy with the backpack was releasing pokémon. The other Rocket members looked unimpressed as one by one the boy released mildly or pretty badly injured pokémon, who were taken to cages; some tranquilized first, others just carried-too weak to fight back.
“Please tell me you caught something worthwhile and didn’t go catching all the badly injured ones,” one of the Rockets, whom Redclaw recognized as Solus’s trainer, said while rolling his eyes at the new recruit.
“I…I didn’t think these were too bad…” the boy stammered, “With a bit of healing they could become strong fighters…” The other trainer didn’t reply, and the boy reached for another pokéball, hoping that this one contained a pokémon that would impress the others; he knew he’d caught some that were fairly strong. Taking a deep breath, he released the pokémon.
The moment he released it, he knew he’d made a bad choice. The pokémon couldn’t stand, and when he released it, it toppled over onto its side, grimacing in pain. Redclaw, however, just stared. It was Stormblade.
He watched as Solus’s trainer walked over to the boy, looking anything but amused. “What…is this
?” he muttered, pointing to Stormblade.
“It’s a scyther…uh, sir…” the boy replied shakily.
“I know it’s a scyther, you idiot!” the older trainer snapped, “Why on earth did you catch it? I specifically told you…get the ones we can battle
with! Not that ones that were going to be put to sleep anyway in the next few days!” Reaching for the backpack, he grabbed it from the boy’s hands, glaring at him. “How many other
pokéballs did you waste?” he growled, throwing the backpack to the ground.
The boy looked frightened. “I…I did what you said,” he whispered sheepishly, “I caught the ones I thought we could use…it may be hurt but it’s still a scyther
…once it heals it’ll be a powerful fighter for us.”
“Really?” Solus’s trainer sneered, “And what makes you think we want to waste medical attention on something so weak?” Beside him, Redclaw could hear Ardunia fidgeting uncomfortably in her cage. He turned to see that the girafarig looked worried, as she stared at Stormblade and the other badly injured pokémon. She paced back and forth in the small space, though there was scarcely enough room to turn around. Redclaw felt sorry for her; it must be hard for a girafarig to have to stay in a confined space.
“It can be strong!” the new recruit was saying, “Pokémon like scyther are tough…and if this one survived getting these injuries in the first place…it must be strong!”
Solus’s trainer looked down at Stormblade, who lay slightly curled up on the floor. He aimed a kick at the scyther’s back, where it was bandaged, and Stormblade merely growled in response. “It didn’t even try to strike back,” the trainer muttered, shaking his head, “Doesn’t seem strong. However…since you seem so keen on convincing me that this scyther was worth catching, I’ll make a deal with you. We’ll test it. If it survives, we’ll let it recover and you’ll have succeeded in your task. If not, then you’ve failed your task.” He glanced scornfully at the other pokémon the boy had captured, and they shrank back fearfully in their cages.
“F-failed?” he replied, looking frightened.
The other Rocket member smiled. “Yes, failed. So do you accept the deal or not?”
The boy hesitated for a moment, then looked at Stormblade, and nodded.
“Well then…” came the other trainer’s reply, “Let’s see if this scyther really is
as tough as you claim it is…” He crouched down, fitting a metal collar with a chain around Stormblade’s neck, noticing that the scyther didn’t move. Without showing the slightest sign of wariness, he began dragging Stormblade across one side of the room, where he stopped next to a large flat metal surface, like a large table close to the ground, by which rested a small machine. Stormblade still hadn’t moved.
“What are they doing?” Ardunia spat, disgusted. Redclaw said nothing and continued to watch.
The new recruit followed slowly, now looking uncertain. “Are…are you sure you should be doing this? I mean, it’s an injured flying type…and even healthy pokémon die sometimes…”
“But it’s tough
, right?” Solus’s trainer replied mockingly, “What do you have to worry about?”
“Stormblade!” Redclaw cried out, though the sound was muffled by the muzzle, “Get up and move!” At the moment, the Rocket’s back was to Stormblade, but to Redclaw’s dismay, the scyther didn’t even look up. Redclaw lowered his head. Stormblade was too weak…
As some of the other Rocket grunts walked over to Stormblade, one of them asked, “Isn’t this a waste of time? We have work to do…it won’t survive…”
“Jeremy here says it will!” Solus’s trainer replied, and the boy merely glanced at the floor.
“What’s…what’s happening?” Redclaw asked Ardunia, watching as the humans, with the aid of some of their pokémon, moved Stormblade onto the slab of metal, attaching part of his chain to one of the many rings on the wall near the machine, but attaching it in a way that made the chain from where it attached from Stormblade’s collar to the wall a lot shorter, making it impossible for the scyther to sit or lie down. When Stormblade tried to raise his scythe at one of the Rockets, a blow to the head from a Team Rocket aggron stunned him.
Redclaw watched as shackles were attached to Stormblade’s arms and legs, and chained to certain parts of the metal table, immobilizing him. Redclaw glanced worriedly at Ardunia, who pawed angrily at the floor of her cage, scraping her hooves sharply across the metal.
Stormblade could feel burning pain shooting up his broken leg, and he tried to lift it, even if only a little bit, knowing that even putting his weight on it only slightly had caused him excruciating pain before. Even though he tried, there wasn’t much he could do, and he could tell he was being purposely forced to stand that way.
As one of the Rocket members moved toward the small machine, Solus, who was sitting near Redclaw’s cage, began a whispered conversation with a Rocket golduck. Meanwhile, the human near the machine smiled and stepped back. And at the same moment, Stormblade started screaming.
Redclaw stepped back, his eyes wide, as Stormblade began to struggle and thrash as tremendous volts of electricity began surging through his body from the machine. Every pokémon in the cages was staring horrified at the struggling pokémon, fearing they might be the next.
“So far, so good, eh?” Solus’s trainer smirked with a glance at Jeremy, the new recruit, “Too bad it’s only just starting…” As he spoke, the electricity flowing through Stormblade’s body seemed to intensify, and he thrashed harder, trying desperately to reach the shackles or collar with his blades, teeth, anything! Stormblade no longer seemed aware of anything around him. All he could think of and feel was this horrible agony that he could do nothing to stop.
“It’s still alive!” Jeremy shouted, “You can stop now-it’s proven that it’s strong…”
“We’re still just beginning,” Solus’s trainer replied smoothly, not giving the boy a glance.
Stormblade’s struggles were growing more desperate. The scyther's wings were flared out, and he was straining against the collar and shackles, in some desperate attempt to break free, pushing back with his legs against the metal table, so hard that blood began seeping from the bandages around his injured leg, and Redclaw was almost certain he would break it again at any moment. However, Stormblade didn’t even seem to notice. He pulled madly at the chains, unable to do anything else but stand and endure the torture.
Jeremy could not understand the scyther’s words as it screamed, but he was sure it was probably begging them to stop…to end it. Shakily, he turned toward the others. “It’s lasted long enough…” he began.
“I’ll be the judge of that,” Solus’s trainer sneered back at him.
Stormblade’s cries intensified, and he continued to thrash madly, unable to bear the agony any longer.
“Please just stop!” Jeremy shouted desperately.
This time, Jeremy got no reply, and the Rockets merely watched the scyther calmly. Redclaw watched in horror as Stormblade’s struggles grew weaker, and his screams stopped. The scyther could do nothing but feebly pull against the chains now.
Then suddenly, it all stopped. Stormblade’s collar chain was carefully detached from the wall, and he collapsed on the table, jerking and trembling in excruciating pain, sparks flying across the table and his body. Smoke rose from the collar and shackles; the heated metal had burned into his neck and limbs.
Redclaw glanced at Ardunia, who seemed as if she'd been holding her breath the whole time. "He's alive..." the girafarig whispered slowly.
By Redclaw’s cage, Solus nudged the Rockets' golduck. "Pay up," he said with a smirk, and the golduck grudgingly placed a few pokéblocks in front of the espeon.
“Well, I suppose you were right about this one…” Solus’s trainer stated, “We’ll treat its injuries, though if it doesn’t show improvement within a few weeks, we’ll have to dispose of it.” He turned toward Stormblade, who was still lying against the slab of metal, trembling uncontrollably; his breathing coming in ragged gasps every few seconds. Without a word the trainer picked up Stormblade’s pokéball and returned him, before striding out of the room. “Get the rest of them in cages,” he called over his shoulder, motioning to the backpack containing the rest of the pokéballs.
As he left, Solus turned toward Redclaw with a smirk. “It’ll be your turn soon…” he said with a grin.
Stormblade woke up slowly, vaguely aware that he must have passed out some time after being returned to his pokéball. He was still shaking uncontrollably, and he could feel the pain in his leg getting worse as he woke up more fully, his hazy vision clearing enough for him to realize that he was in some sort of small cell, next to many others. He was lying on an old blanket in his own cell, but there was no food or water. In the cells next to him, he could hear a few pokémon crying out or whimpering. Where was this place…?
Feeling worried but too weak to stand up, he lifted his head, listening to the cries of the other pokémon. He could see some of them wearing dirty bandages, and he assumed this was where injured pokémon were healed. However, Stormblade knew that if this place were a Pokémon Center, it would be closed down immediately; these pokemon were all obviously still in pain, and none of them had received anything close to adequate care. They had probably only had their wounds bandaged and been given medicine to fight infection, and then were just kept here.
Laying his head back down, Stormblade tried to appreciate the thin blanket the humans had given him to lay on. It didn’t offer much warmth or comfort, but it was better than the cold concrete ground of his small cell. He was actually surprised they had given him a blanket; none of the other pokémon had one, and he wondered which human had given it to him. He wished whoever had given him the blanket had given him some food or water too. Apart from a single rawst berry to help heal his wounds from Thunder’s trainer’s Arcanine, he hadn’t eaten since he and Spark had passed through the forest alone. That had been before meeting Snowcrystal.
He wasn’t quite sure how long he would be here, but in the back of his mind, he feared that the humans would grow tired of waiting for him to heal, and find a way to get rid of him.
Rosie knew she shouldn’t rest long. Painfully, she staggered upright on three legs, holding her broken forepaw above the ground. Limping forward, she decided to try and make it as far away from the poachers as she could, ignoring the pain in her leg…or trying to.
A few times, Rosie collapsed when the pain was too much. Every time however, she would get up again, and keep going; her fear of what the poachers would do if they caught her motivated her to carry on, despite the pain. She knew they probably wouldn’t even be looking for her, but all the same, she had to keep going…
To carry on as fast as she could…
Back at the ruined Pokémon Center, a police officer was talking to Officer Jenny, while standing beside a small, sandy-haired boy, who kept looking worriedly at Jenny.
“He says his meowth had a tracking collar,” the other officer explained, and turned to the boy before asking, “Was your meowth injured when you brought it to the Pokémon Center?”
Looking surprised, the boy shook his head. “No,” he replied, “I just wanted the nurses to check on him…I thought he might be getting sick…they said they had a lot of other injured pokémon to take care of but they said they would check on him…”
Listening, Jenny waited until he was done speaking before replying, “If the meowth was taken in just to be checked on, it must have been in its pokéball for most of the time. I think there’s a very likely chance it was stolen. Where those people took it, no one can be sure, but the areas beyond this city are mostly vastly unexplored wilderness which little is known about; it’s very likely that they could have set up some sort of base there. Stonedust is
one of the most isolated cities in this region, and most trainers don’t dare venture north of here. Vast wastelands, dangerous ice mountains and many other harsh territories that have never been fully explored...it’s no wonder.”
Ignoring the boy’s horrified look, she continued, “But if they’ve only barely captured all the pokémon, I’m sure we can use the meowth’s collar to find their location, before they realize it’s a tracking collar…and that’s
how we’ll find out where they’re hiding!”
To be continued...