This was going to be longer, but I figured that the battle deserved its own chapter. :P So this one's short. :3
Chapter nine: Rough and Tough
I didn't have a proper chapter picture, so I drew this one quickly. Forgive the ridiculous anatomy!
After the ralts had woken up, I had asked her how she had gotten herself into such a situation. I figured that she hadn’t done anything wrong—Wulua had just abruptly gone berserk at her. However, as I had asked her, she just eyed me as if I had done something unforgivable, and turned straight to Hakumei.
“I was...listening to...her
,” she hissed, gesturing with her head upwards at me, “and shortly after, that psycho maniac sandslash began to attack me.”
“I see,” Hakumei replied, seeming to ponder.
“Where’s my ribbon?” She interrupted Hakumei’s thinking and began looking about. “I was wearing it before he attacked me.”
“What did it look like?” I asked, stepping into the conversation she had cut me out of.
Before she replied, she seemed to glare at me. “It’s gold. Like your yellow fur but prettier.”
“W—” But before I could say anything, Hakumei, by the looks of it, butted in so as to stop me starting a fight.
“Where did you last have it?” he asked calmly, drawing the ralts’ attention.
“Um...over there somewhere.” She pointed to the front left corner’s direction, straight along the wall, as we were situated on the left but at the back.
“Do you want me to go and get it for you?” I asked, trying to sound nice but actually clenching my teeth a little.
She was silent for a few moments before replying with, “Fine. Go and retrieve it.” Frowning, I began to pad in the direction she pointed. “Fetch,” I heard her mutter after I was a few metres away. It was intended for my ears...but I wondered why on earth that little brat was being such a snob to me! I hadn’t done anything to her but save her...
Muttering under my breath, I sniffed the floor for the ribbon’s scent. If I was correct, it should’ve smelled like that ralts... But with the many, many pokémon inside this crate and so much...disgusting waste everywhere, it was proving to be not very easy to locate.
I glanced up, scanning my surroundings. I was amidst many pokémon – a lot of them in their elemental groups I had said for them to go in – but what caught my gaze was a large circle of pokémon who weren’t categorised by their types. It was around where the ribbon should’ve been, so I decided to stride over to them to check out what they were looking at.
After approaching the circle of pokémon that had managed to distract my attention, I stuck my nose between a plump, blue and cream sealeo and a stocky nuzleaf with a green leaf atop her head. They seemed a little bothered by my intrusion, but it was soon worth it as I spotted who was the centre of attention.
“They suspect...nothing.” The purple floating figure smiled, speaking with neither satisfaction nor timidness. “The humans are clueless...”
“Haunter!” I cried, pushing through the two pokémon who frowned at my actions. “You’re back! How did it go?”
“...They suspect nothing! The humans didn’t see me,” he answered almost proudly.
“That’s great—but are the others ready? All out of their cages?”
“Y-yes. I had to help, though.”
“Awesome!” I quickly shouted, becoming excited on the spot. Hearing such news was clearly getting me all jittery. “We need to do one last thing before escaping.” The haunter looked at me, raising an eyebrow...or whatever was a haunter’s equivalent. “Break the locks!”
Back outside again, the purple ghost pokémon stuck to the growing shadows around the ship. He, one last time, was going from crate to crate, letting the pokémon who were still prisoners to the sea vessel know what he was doing. This was the third time he would be entering the crates that day. Why hadn’t that flareon just asked him to do it in one go? ‘Oh well,’
he thought, watching as a human wielding a device that displayed light marched past him without noticing him. ‘I guess striking at night is a good plan, anyway... And she probably knows what she’s doing...hopefully.’
He arrived at the front of a particular cage, slipping inside and calling out to the pokémon—who were, thankfully, willing to listen up and formed in their elemental type groups. He began to stutter once the attention all came down on him, but he swallowed, built up his courage, and then told them that he was about to break their crate’s lock from the outside. He said that when he and/or any other ghost pokémon came in through the wall and gave them the order to attack, they would be able to storm out by breaking the door open – or down – with ease then that their lock had been broken. He also explained how the inside of the crates were soundproof, which was presumably part of their isolation program, and explained why no Team Rocket members had come in to see what all the noise was.
The pokémon howled with pleasure and excitement, ready to give the evil Team Rocket a taste of their own pokéblocks! The haunter would join in, of course, with all of this and contribute to the destruction of this human ship which travelled through the middle of nowhere.
The pokémon would take the Rockets by surprise, starting with Dusty’s crate to make them feel like they have the upper hand, but eventually, as the haunter melted into each wall of other pokémon’s crates, everyone else would help with the brilliant plan and ultimately take over. They would make sure the ship was left in pieces, and the humans were destined to be stranded out in the ocean, probably never to see land again alive. Their pokémon would go with them, if that was the case, or else attempt to seek revenge on their own by joining the freedom fighters.
But then again—who knew how this would all turn out? For all this haunter knew, everything could backfire and they could end up all being tortured and thrown into other smaller and rusting cages. On top of that, the Rocket count was unknown, and therefore nobody could be sure how outnumbered they would be. Maybe the prisoners would be outnumbered, causing inconvenience for all pokémon who had once been locked in metal cages. Not one soul wanted it to turn out that way, however, and hopefully their desire would keep Arceus from letting them down.
Again and again the haunter hid in the shadows which were casting themselves in blotches around the ship, darkening the day and making it harder for the humans to make out where things were; their eyesight was poor in the dark. But with the cylindrical objects they held in their hands, light was projected upon their wishing. However, it was only a line of light; although long, the beams weren’t widespread.
This pleased the haunter as he thought about it whilst slipping into another shadow. He knew that if one of their devices shone on him, however, his presence would be revealed. ‘But, then again,’
he thought, ‘they could either assume that I had escaped or that I was a new pokémon who happened to wander onto the ship. Since they probably assume that their system is foolproof, maybe I could just—’
The purple ghost pokémon squealed as he shielded his eyes with his two hands in response to a blinding bright light.
“Halt!” yelled a human voice, his footsteps an indication of his nearing presence.
thought the haunter hastily. However, he decided that he better not slip into the wall next to him. Although it would be an easy escape route, he would probably be better off being caught by a Rocket and thrown into a new cage. If he simply sunk into the wall, the man might become suspicious... He wasn’t going to take chances and draw attention to the crate and possibly endanger the inhabitants. That would be reckless and unintelligent.
“Don’t move, you pokémon scum!” he ranted, and the haunter sighed.
‘I’m not moving...’
Soon enough, the man had called out a meowth to attack him. However, since meowth were normal types, the haunter knew that he wouldn’t be harmed by any of their usual attacks—and he was right. Little did he know about the man’s friend’s mightyena, however, which used bite on him. Being a ghost type, most pokémon would expect the haunter to be non-solid matter. However, he was as real as an igglybuff’s rubber-like body.
As the sharp teeth of the grey and black pokémon struck him, he yelped, but did nothing in his defence on purpose. The pokémon’s nose was red, and he could see that from his view. He had two black stripes that trailed from his back onto the front of his face, and he had black legs.
The haunter endured the attack as the jaws were clenched tightly around his lower body, and the first man who had stopped him was dismissed by the Rocket who owned the dark type pokémon that was latched onto the haunter. The man recalled his meowth – which looked in a poor condition – and the haunter was quickly taken downstairs into an office of some sort which held a large, frowning man who looked most indifferent.
He was wearing a different uniform to the Team Rocket minions—one that was rather like a suit and that lacked the gloves, boots and a hat that the other uniforms had. Under his jacket was a white shirt that stood out against the black. “What?” he growled rather demandingly. The grunt seemed to straighten and speak with a wobbly and somewhat cowardly tone.
“Uh, th-this pokémon was found wandering the sh-ship, sir,” he explained, trying his hardest to keep his brown eyes locked with those of his superior’s. The higher-ranked man, who sat behind a desk and on a large black chair, shifted his gaze to the haunter in a timid mightyena’s mouth. The pokémon must’ve felt the way his trainer – if you could call Team Rocket men trainers – felt towards the man.
“Cage it. Must be either a wild one or another one of you girls’ pokémon,” he grunted, the top of his lip twitching with what seemed to be contempt for the creature. “Throw it in one of the crates. I don’t give a rattata’s arse which one. Just don’t let it go. Any extra pokémon for labour and money is useful.” He looked about to get back to his papers before adding, “And check the internal cargo hold once you’re done with that.”
'Internal cargo hold?!'
the haunter thought in shock. ‘This means there’s another place full of pokémon!’
“Y-yes, sir!” the minion saluted to the man, almost shakily hurrying out of the office. In spite of how much the haunter was in pain, he managed to utter a harsh chuckle. Although, it made the pokémon carrying him without a care in the world for his wellbeing simply squeeze his jaws tighter as punishment.
“Arghh,” the ghost type cringed, his body increasingly finding it harder to inhale oxygen.
The Team Rocket minion proceeded down a long hall that the haunter would’ve found somewhat fascinating if he hadn’t been in a mightyena’s mouth. He was carried, still hanging upside-down, past several rooms. Smells of different sorts wafted in his direction, and he had to hold his breath as particular doorways passed by. One of the rooms, which smelled like chemicals and other bitter human products, occupied a man with black fur on his head and round lenses stationary on the bridge of his nose. His fur was neatly cut and short, and he had his forearms behind his back. He wore a long, white human jacket, which looked like it clipped together in the middle. The rest of the room looked pristine and white, but disturbing at the same time. How could a room with cooking chemicals be clean?
The male human stepped forward as the haunter and his two captors passed by, but seemed to call out to them. The Rocket came to a halt and turned inside. However, the dark canine pokémon stayed put outside. He took a seat on the floor, the ghost type hanging from his mouth. The haunter had gotten used to the pain now, and he noticed that the jaws were relaxing a little bit, so the pressure wasn’t so much.
The humans discussed some things, and apparently the one who was in the white pelt mistook the minion for someone of higher importance. The haunter could hear about apparent chemicals that the human was telling the Rocket about, and he heard that one of them was unmistakably labelled by him as ‘hydrochloric acid’. The haunter could see a sheet of thin silver metal that was significantly large leaning up against the wall. He could hear bubbling and spluttering of some sort, and there was something wafting his way which reminded him of bananas crossed with...a substance that humans used to run their ‘automobiles’. It was called ‘petrol’.
“Banana petrol?! HAH!” I laughed – or out-burst – at the comment made by the haunter who floated next to me.
“Y-yeah...” he confirmed, seeming to giggle a little.
“Anyway, that’s another human we won’t need to worry about,” I stated, motioning to a body lying unconscious against the wooden wall of our crate.
Once my friend, the haunter, had brought two captors (one being the human’s pokémon) with him to the crate as he rested in a new cage – which we broke with ease – the Rocket man issued his mightyena to attack. Before the male pokémon had a chance, the pokémon of the crate panicked and attacked the human. One blow of an iron tail by a raticate instantaneously rendered him no longer conscious, which, I figured, was necessary. We would kill him shortly, but first he would be the hostage that we display to the Team Rocket members as a decoy for when the haunter would go around to the insides of the crates and inform the pokémon of their release time. According to the ghost pokémon, the eight of the crates’ locks had been shattered, and ours was one of the last ones—as he was captured by the Rocket before he could do anything, and therefore he didn’t have a chance. Lucky he hadn’t done it yet though—if that Rocket had realised that when he came to our crate – which he probably selected as the cage to put the haunter in for its low pokémon count – to lock him up in, he could’ve seen the severed lock and made a fuss over it.
The mightyena that accompanied him was threatened by a few of us, but he had given in (typical for a Team Rocket member) and said that he didn’t want to fight us, the innocent pokémon. I was glad he refused the offer to stick with his trainer, though. It meant one more pokémon to fight on our side, and one to be taken off Team Rocket’s side. It also meant we didn’t have to silence him, and the dark type explained that he never wanted to be a Team Rocket pokémon anyway, and they had only caught him for his threatening appearance and skills in battle. He had shown us his trainer’s other poké balls, which contained a zubat and a bronzor. They, too, were more happy than not to join our side—which suited us just fine.
“Okay—shush!” I exclaimed, attempting to silence the group of pokémon in the crate I was apparently in charge of. “He’s going to break our lock now!” I yelled again, once again standing on my pal, Luck, for height. “Where’s that mightyena?” I asked, scanning the room.
When someone near the front row stepped forward, I whispered to him to take the human outside before we killed him. The same beedrill that had killed the previous human would do the job quickly and simply, and then they would attack the Rockets. The mightyena nodded, jogging across to his previous master’s side. He clamped his jaws around his arm, but carefully so as not to wake him. I bit my lip. Getting the mightyena to assist us in his trainer’s death was risky, but a test of where his loyalty lay. I knew I could never harm my master, but hopefully his was horrible enough to kill.
“He’s just gonna break the crate next door’s lock first, and then ours. We shall all be ready to fight within less than thirty seconds!”
Everyone hesitated to begin to chant. We all trembled to begin with—what would the fight turn out like? Would we win, or...would we all die? How many Team Rocket members were there out there with their many pokémon among them? Would our numbers be great enough to fend them all off? Only time would tell. Only if our courage helped us pull through. Only if we overcame that sense of doubt and lack of faith.
“SEVEN, SIX, FIVE, FOUR, THREE, TWO...ONE!!” Within the next few moments of cheering pokémon, the door creaked slightly open. It silenced us all; even I stopped moving. I could feel the tension build as the near-impossible thought of our liberation surged through the hearts of us all.
“...FREEEEEEDOMMM!!” I yelled once spotting the haunter’s purple body peep in.
“YEAAAHHH!!!” everyone roared over all other noise, stampeding through the enormous gates of prison and back into the real world—where they belonged! Vibrations were forced not only through the crate’s wooden, cleanliness-ridden floor, but probably throughout the whole ship’s surface!
The only things I could hear were pokémon’s battle calls being shouted at the tops of their lungs and the stomps and steps of the escapees. I let a huge grin creep across my face as I leaped down from Luck’s shoulders once the crowd had pretty much filed out, competing against each other to be free, and I rushed over to any remaining, usually small pokémon who had been trampled. Most of them were okay, but a few had been knocked out already. I helped the awake ones up and gave them smiles, and Luck tended to those who were unconscious. I noted that the human was gone, and I assumed that his pokémon had dragged him out. Good thing, too—it meant he was becoming less and less attached to him. I couldn’t image anyone with an attachment to a Team Rocket member personally, though.
Gathering myself and holding my fluffy chest high, I coated my body with a gush of flames, feeling the heat surge through my veins. I let out a long, loud growl, listing all the attacks I could bestow upon the humans and their pokémon. I pictured each and every one of them, allowing my eyelids to fall. Focus was required to battle, and as soon as I stepped outside, I would expect to immediately enter some sort of battle. Side by side, all of us would get through this terrible episode we all had to live through, and we’d fight to the end. Support would hold us together, and if we all believed enough, we would all survive and prevail; helping each other was the key to survival.
Hopefully everyone had all listened to me and they would get the fish pokémon into the water first, then secretly ship off the baby pokémon or any other not able-bodied. The last thing that I wanted was for the little ones to be hurt, and for the sick to perish before their time. Everyone was important, but the pokémon had to understand that the weak were first on the agenda. They most-likely couldn’t fight properly, so there was no point in having them on the ship anyway.
I had organised for some pelipper to carry pokémon like any togepi or cleffa in their large bills to shore. Pokémon like lumineon and golduck could carry pokémon under the water if not on the surface, since I did know most water pokémon to be very skilled and fast swimmers.
Getting my mind back on track, I set my goals on one thing: escaping alive and doing anything in the process that would help. And not only for just me to escape...but every other innocent pokémon who had done nothing to deserve what they’ve had to endure...