“I fink we lost ‘em,” the man facing away stated. His pronounced his words rather sloppily, I noticed. “You fink we’re safe ‘ere?”
“Yeah,” the other one breathed after moments of pause.
They both stared through the break of crates to watch something while I scuttled across the floor to my dark and ice type friend. “Let’s go—before they look again!” Before she had time to question me, she followed as I crept past the gap where they both stood looking the opposite way. We made it successfully, and I was glad to find that we were about half-way up the ship. Just as I was about to shoot off, I heard them start to talk again, but this time louder. My curiosity got the better of me, and I dragged myself back to the two. This time, I didn’t bother looking around. Instead, I pressed my side against the box while sitting, listening to their words.
“What should we do?” questioned one of them, clearly unsure.
“Shoot it!” the other insisted frantically, and a brief shriek echoed through the gap between the crates as I heard a thump.
My eyes were wide and my heart began racing as I recalled my previous encounter with a human and his gun. I was sure these men had just sentenced a pokémon to their death, but I couldn’t be sure until I checked.
A duo of claws touched my shoulder, and I snapped my head around to find Zhol standing before me with a modest expression. “Z-Zhol...” I stuttered, momentarily frozen.
“...We should kill them first.”
Zhol’s brow furrowed and her feet remained planted. “...No,” she responded firmly.
“W-what?” I was shocked—until I realised she wouldn’t have known about the fallen pokémon. “They just killed someone!”
The sneasel’s expression became solid and serious, but she still needed convincing. Although she hesitated, she seemed rather curious as she zipped back and ‘round the corner. Haughty talk met me before screams and thumps. Then, trotting out with a tinge of resentment etched between her features, Zhol stopped in front of me to wipe the blood from her front with the side of her arm. Her claws were dripping with the same substance, and she quickly scraped half of it off on the crate’s corner. I wasn’t sure what to think. “...That was quick.” However, I couldn't help but to think that we may have done the wrong thing...even though they were our enemy... Was killing those Rockets when they didn’t threaten us first being as bad as them? My face grew reassurance as I told myself that they deserved it; we were merely paying them back. If they hadn’t killed that pokémon, I wouldn’t have insisted on their deaths...
As I restrained myself from looking back at them, Zhol and I nodded to each other before springing away.
We came to the stairs that would lead us down below. There was a strange smell wafting from beneath the deck, but we ignored it as we left behind the floor of lifeless humans and pokémon.
“Coast is clear,” I mentioned to Zhol, who was at the top of the stairs while I was at the bottom. She whizzed down, and we both slunk past several rooms. The first was to our right with a door closed. I sensed something sinister lurking behind the walls, and I crinkled my nose. Zhol probably sensed it too, since she did the same.
We crept past door after door, weaving through corridors and making our ways past labs that had shuffling and mumbling emitting from inside. Several of the labs had their doors open and...smelled like banana petrol?
“Zhol...” I finished my scan of a two-way passage. She turned from my right. “We should split up to find that crate. It’s either at the end of that corridor—” I gestured to the left hallway, “—or that one,” then to the right.
“I’ll go this way,” she said, deciding for us.
“Okay.” The weavile pre-evolution whizzed down the right hall, disappearing as she turned a left corner. I stuck with what I had been given and dashed down my allocated path, feeling the scratchy carpet under my paws. I came to the same corner that Zhol had – mine being a right turn – and I thought that maybe we would join up once turning a second time. So, trusting that theory, I bolted down the corridor heedless of the pokémon who rounded the next corner and smacked into me. I whined in response, picking myself up at the sound of another pokémon’s snarls. I leaped backwards, a fire blast burning its way just out of my reach and onto a wall to my right.
I widely eyed the smoking black crustiness that was left in a metal wall after the fire attack dissipated, and trailed it back to an orange bill. Two eyes sat above the mouth, and above them were red lumps that formed into yellow flame-like fur. Her whole body resembled fire in some way or another, whether it was in colour or pattern, and she even sheltered a naked flame on the tip of her lemon-coloured tail.
“State your business,” she demanded, assuming a defensive pose while making her claws apparent.
I held my breath. [/i]‘Should I tell her? ...I guess I should... She’ll attack me no matter what, probably.’[/i] “I’m here to free the pokémon,” I declared, not feeling overly confident about what I had just said. I suddenly felt like a fool for telling her. But at the same time, I felt uneasy at the thought of a battle with her. When I faced fire types...I just...I didn’t feel comfortable. As if I would have trouble beating them because our elements would cancel each other out.
“What?” the magmar spat. She, instead of continuing to act defensive, almost seemed sceptical. Like she couldn’t imagine I was capable of it or something. “Uhh...you don’t look like a Team Rocket pokémon...”
“W-what?” ‘Is she stupid or something? Maybe she doesn’t know about what’s going on outside...’
I was considering attacking, when I decided to play along... “Uh—well, I am.” But to that, the magmar stiffened again.
“I-I don’t see your trainer.”
“I...uhh... Master sent me down here on my own,” I lied. I always was a horrible liar.
“And he asked you to release those...pokémon
?” She raised an ‘eyebrow’.
“Well, yeah. One of the Rockets needs, uh...another pokémon to help him train. And I was asked to get one from this cargo hold...thing.”
“I find that a little odd
... They’ll easily be able to kill him and his pokémon.” She considered what I’d said before adding, “And you’d better make sure you have their remotes.” She brushed past me as I stood on the spot.
I thought with wonder. ‘She must mean for a remote controlled door or something. If these pokémon can kill others so easily, it’s possible they lock them down here behind remote controlled doors or something.’
I considered her words and thought, ‘They’re probably all the highest evolutions of the caught pokémon—which is why they were kept here and not with the rest of us!’
I checked to see if the magmar was leaving – and she was – and turned back to where I needed to go. As I walked further, my pace evolved into a jog. I passed more doors, all of which weren’t the right one. I kept my nose high and my senses sharp...
“Here!” I told myself after going around another corner and finding a wall before me. “...Wait...” I looked to my right, but no entrances were present. I poked my head back around the corner to see if I had missed the door and managed to pick up the scent I had previously missed, but what I smelled wasn’t close enough for its whereabouts to be near. The smell of a forest lingered behind the wall that dead-ended me, and the one that a door should be planted in. I scowled. ‘Zhol got the right way. This way was the wrong one.’
I reared back, taking off down the hall. After the long stretch – presumably the width of the ship itself – I zoomed around another bend, then my last one which I knew would’ve connected up to the part with the wall blocking me. However, the wall was probably thin and the room’s door was at the end of the way, which meant I had to wear myself out that extra bit more. ‘I should’ve just blasted my way through the wall!’
I scowled. But my good side used its brain. ‘That wall could’ve meant the difference between sinking the ship and staying afloat. Soaking yourself or keeping your fur dry.’
I came to a halt before I ran my way into the hard surface, and craned my neck. The door loomed over me; it was bigger than a usual one. The door had a sign with human language on it, and a black skull against a yellow background. There was a dried maroon human handprint on the door to top it all off, smears and a splatter of matching colour. I frowned, wondering what could have happened.
I blew a flamethrower on the door...but to no avail. I was rather shocked. I charged up a toxic, vomiting it up onto the entrance’s metal surface. The poison didn’t even stick to it, let alone make a hole. Instead, it slid slowly down the impenetrable surface and dissolved through the floor. I shrugged, peering down through the hole it made, and figured that it would disappear before it could corrode the bottom’s hull and what other layers the ship had.
I looked back to the door. How on earth
could I open it? ‘Hang on...Zhol’s not here, which means she has to have been able to get inside.’
I sat and pondered. “Hmm...” My eyes wandered to a paw-sized, camouflaged button on the wall. I smiled ‘evilly’, as Izante would call it, and pawed at it till it did something. However, it was only a sliver of blackness that told me that I had opened the door.
I decided to wait. No noise at all was coming from inside, which concerned me. “Zhol!” I called. The sole response reaching my ear was my echo, so I paused before repeating myself. “Zh—”
The door swung widely open, and cold claws snapped me up. I almost screamed, but they were shoved over my mouth to silence me. Lights came on, blinding me in the instant, and the door was slammed shut before I had a chance to breathe.