Here it is! The long awaited chapter 17!
I'm also re-adjusting the size, and splitting it into two posts.
Chapter 17: Tracking
“That’s ridiculous,” Jarre scoffed, “Why would Balian be after you?”
I turned around and glanced at him. “I don’t know! Do I look like an oracle?!” I pulled at my fur desperately. I knew I needed to get somewhere safe soon, before I lost my mind.
“Alright! Calm down! It’s okay, we can figure this out,” he sighed, turning to me slowly. “Who else knows about this?”
I slumped against the wall and buried my face in my paws. “No one. You’re the only one I’ve told.”
Jarre seemed to be pondering. He paced in front of me, the softest click clacking sound coming from his talons scraping the tiles. “Well, then we need to tell someone who can help us.”
I raised an eyebrow sceptically and looked at him. “Yeah, and I could’ve figured that out.”
“Look, just work with me here Zanna.” Jarre had stopped pacing now, and his face looked fretful. If anything, he seemed to be more worried about me than I was. He sighed. “Urrghh…I’m sorry. I just don’t want anyone getting hurt, least of all, my best friend.”
A small smile lit up on my face. “Okay then. So who do we tell?”
The Torchic raised a wing to his chin, thinking. “Well, who knows Balian better than his own team?”
I jumped up. “Codan?!”
A grin spread across Jarre’s face. “The very same.”
Great! My mind was now racing a mile an hour. If we got Codan on our side, and Balian really was trying to capture me, we could have a huge advantage! But wait…”Oh, no.”
Jarre glanced at me quizzically. “What is it?”
Concern shaded my face. “Codan, Lani and Balian are a team. The news would destroy them. What would happen then?”
“Oh…” Jarre seemed to have finally caught on. “There isn’t much we can do, Zanna. If he really is after you, we need all the help we can get.” I slumped down to the floor again in utter despair. This was turning out to be a great night.
At that moment, loud footsteps seemed to approach us. Jarre and I huddled close in the alcove, afraid it might be Balian, but the face that appeared around the corner was more than welcoming. “Codan! What a pleasant—“
“Shhh!” he raised a claw to his snout and gestured towards us. “Come here. I need to talk to you.”
I exchanged a confused look with Jarre before following Codan out into the hall. Once Jarre had joined us, the Dragonite’s face turned anxious. “Codan, what’s wrong?” My voice wasn’t exactly comforting right now. It came out more as an encouraging squeak. Jarre tapped me with a wing in an attempt to calm me down.
“I…I need you to come to the hospital wing,” he managed to choke out.
I gasped and turned to the now stricken Torchic, then back to Codan. “What? Why? What’s happened?”
Codan took deep breath before answering, as if he was biding his time before he had to say the inevitable news. He glanced at both of us briefly before letting out a small puff of smoke. “It’s Lani.” Horror seemed to latch itself onto my face. These were the last words I wanted to hear.
Rye paced on the cool tiles, pondering quietly to himself. So many questions…such little time. He buried his face fretfully within his paws, gritting his teeth. Why now? When he was going so well…it was a nightmare!
“If you do that just one
more time, I’m seriously going to hit you. Or at least call in a nurse.” Kraal was less than ecstatic about the Elekid’s behaviour.
Rye barely gave him a glance before continuing. “Scythe has turned…do you know what this means?”
But Kraal didn’t answer. It was more of a rhetorical question anyway. The Elekid seemed to be more absorbed in his own mind than that of reality. The Leafeon sighed and turned his head towards Marilai. “How are you feeling?”
The Glaceon smiled and brushed him playfully with her tail. “Much better. Can I go now? Hospitals give me the creeps.” She scowled and buried her head back under the blanket.
“No,” Kraal laughed. “We can’t go yet. Not until you’re fully recovered.”
“But I am! Honestly!”
The Leafeon raised an eyebrow. “Oh, really? Alright then, stand up.”
Marilai frowned, but obeyed anyway. She hadn’t risen more than a few inches, however, when she collapsed back on the bed, panting. “I, I can’t.”
Kraal shook his head gently. “No, you need time. Just wait, it’ll—” But he stopped in mid sentence as the door to the room opened.
Rye stopped pacing long enough to eye the Pokemon who had entered. His immediate reaction was a sharp growl, issued from that back of his throat. “Leave here.” The words came out harsher than he’d intended, but then, the Torchic was never on good terms with him anyway.
Jarre stepped up to Rye, ignoring the two dogs which now stared at him in complete curiosity. “I need to talk to you.”
Rye gave a sly grin and raised an eyebrow. It always surprised him just how much guts this kid had, especially for a Torchic. “What about, kid? I’m busy.”
Jarre gritted his beak. “I’m not
a kid. And it’s about…Balian.”
“What?!” This had caught Rye off guard. What news could be about Balian? Did the Torchic know? Abandoning all signs of hatred, Rye motioned for the Torchic to follow him. “We need privacy. Come with me.”
He led Jarre down the hall and stopped outside a small wooden door. He gave the Torchic a curt glance before gently pushing it open and slipping inside. Jarre hesitated, but followed when Rye called.
As soon as they were both inside, the Elekid made a swift movement and closed the door, his paw lingering slightly on the handle. He was afraid to hear the news, but even more afraid of what would happen if it were left untold. He closed his eyes briefly and took a deep breath before turning to Jarre. “Alright. What is your news? We should be safe here.”
The Torchic glanced nervously around the barren room. It was almost pitch black, and only a single window occupied the far wall. It was hardly bright enough to let any light through, even though it was nearing midnight. “Safe?” Jarre echoed. His stomach lurched uncontrollably. It didn’t feel
Rye was losing his patience. “Have you got news or not?!” he snapped, glaring at Jarre.
The Torchic puffed out his feathers. “Yes. I have news, but you won’t like it. I’m not even meant to be telling you.” He paused slightly and Rye waited; the only sound being his tapping foot. Jarre swallowed. “Zanna seems to think that…Balian is hunting her.”
Rye spun round instantly and his eyes widened. “What did you say?!” He picked up the Torchic brusquely and stared at him, paws shaking. “Repeat,” he gasped. “Balian’s what?!”
The Torchic struggled and wiggled his legs in midair uncomfortably. “Balian’s hunting Zanna!” he cried. “Now put me down this instant!” Rye mumbled a hasty apology and dropped him to the floor. Jarre collected himself and eyed Rye curiously. He seemed rather more shocked than he’d envisioned.
The Elekid stood almost deathly still. A paw was raised to his chest and he appeared pained. His expression was somewhat discomforting to the bird. He turned abruptly. “How long have you known?”
Jarre hesitated before replying. “Only a few hours. Listen, Rye, tell me what’s going on. What do you know?” Jarre took a step forward as Rye turned his head towards him.
“Do you really wish to know?” There was a trace of mockery within his voice. A smirk crossed the Elekid’s face as his eyes widened. His sudden appearance made him look much older than he was, even in the moonlight. But it also reflected beautifully off his fur. When Jarre had nodded, Rye returned it and raised a paw to his chest again. His voice was unnerving to the Torchic; so cold…yet timid. “Balian was -is- working for Deoxys. But you know this, yes?”
Jarre nodded again. “I know who he is—what he is.” the Torchic replied menacingly.
Rye let out a low hiss. “Good, then it will make this easier. Balian has recently been possessed by Deoxys. When I fought him, I could sense it.” He turned to the window and let his paws rest against the glass gently, fogging up the cool surface. “He, he wanted to kill me,” he continued in shock. “I know that should not come as a surprise to me, but…it still did. How many times can I face this Pokemon…and live?” Rye’s tone ended in a high note. His voice had cracked.
“I’ve fought him countless times, but as Deoxys’ army grows stronger, so does he. I think the only reason he let me live was because the others were there. He would have been exposed. Him…and Deoxys.”
Jarre, who was listening rather intently, shook his head. “I knew Balian was bad, but to still be with Deoxys? Codan and Lani will be crushed.”
Rye pondered this. “It is indeed sad that they should be so close to him, yet so far. There will be no easy way to break this news, but it must be done.” He released his paws from the window and turned to Jarre. “Are you sure he is after Zanna?”
The Torchic nodded. “Positive.”
Rye growled savagely. “Well, then, I must get there first.” He made to stride past Jarre, but the bird blocked his path.
“What is it you plan to do?”
Rye glowered at him before curling his lip back in a snarl. “What I should have done years ago, when he and I first met.” He violently shrugged away from Jarre, who staggered backwards from the force. The Elekid was still glowering when he looked up. “I’m going to rip his heart from his chest!”
Jarre jumped a mile high. “What?! Here?! You can’t! Think how much trouble you’ll be in. Think rationally, Rye. Wait for your chance to—”
“My chance is now!” the Elekid snapped back, “Whether you like it or not!” He made to move to the door again, but the Torchic bolted in front once more.
“Please, think before you act, if not for me, for the guild.”
Rye’s eyes flared. “I would never do anything for you, bird. Now stand aside, or else I’ll be forced to do it myself.” Jarre stood firm and glared at the Elekid. Rye curled his lip back again and bared his teeth. A low growl escaped his mouth, and Jarre lowered his gaze, shuffling slightly aside. “Better,” the Elekid hissed.
“Before you go,” Jarre called, “I want you to do one thing.” Rye stopped hesitantly with his paw on the doorframe. The Torchic turned to him then, and smile slightly. “I have something I have to do,” he began. “If I don’t make it back in time, will you…I want you to watch over Zanna.”
The look on Rye’s face softened. “What?”
Jarre stared at the floor. I don’t know what it is, but I sense something deep within her, something that keeps everyone together; keeps them strong. She has a large heart, and I…I don’t want her to die. Not like this. I know she seems to have some affinity with you, Rye.” The Elekid could now see tears welling within the Torchic’s eyes. “My best friend…promise me…you’ll watch over her, and protect her from Deoxys, if I don’t make it.”
Rye stared at Jarre in wonder. “I…I promise,” he said gently.
Jarre sighed. “Good. Thankyou, Rye.”
The Elekid glared. “But I’m not doing this for you. Hear me, Torchic. Zanna may trust you, but I don’t. And I will never
like you. In my mind, your soul is still cursed.” He growled again before slipping out the door and slamming it shut.
Jarre stared at the closed door. “I know you better than you think, Rye,” he murmured. “You may not be doing this for me, so then; who are you doing it for? Most likely not your father; you despise him. So…who?” No matter how hard he thought, Jarre could think of no reason, except…a tiny thing. One so small, it almost slipped his mind. And though he didn’t approve of it at all, he smiled.
I put my face in my paws and felt wet tears mix into my fur. “Who would do such a thing? Who could…..?” I raised my head just high enough to catch a glimpse of the gasping Houndoom. She lay sprawled across the floor, her breathing distorted and rough. The walls of the hospital wing seemed to radiate my fears, dark shadows whispering words of death. I couldn’t escape it.
“I’m not sure,” Codan answered grimly. “But whoever it was won’t get away with this.” He clenched his paws so hard that his claws cut into his flesh, sending fresh blood oozing onto the floor.
I looked away. I felt sick, and Jarre still wasn’t back from his walk. He said that he needed some air, but there’s only so much air outside. Codan’s words echoed in my mind. “It was poison. Someone poisoned her. See the purple marks on her body? They’re the worst kind. If she recovers, she will be lucky. There are not many Pokemon who are strong enough to survive…this.”
But who had poisoned Lani, and why? I shook my head sharply in frustration. If I ever found out who did this, I was going to kill them. No questions asked. Sparks began to fly from my cheeks as I gritted my teeth angrily. Codan turned abruptly and left the room. Seeing Lani like this must be hard on him.
I gathered up my courage and walked around to her head. I bent down on my knees and pressed my warm body against her muzzle. “Don’t worry, Lani. I’ll find out who did this to you, and stop them.” The Houndoom’s ragged breathing slowed as I ran my paw gently along her flank. At least she seems peaceful enough.
I rose from the ground and turned to follow Codan when I heard a noise. “What…?” But as I turned, a rough paw covered my mouth, stifling my scream as I sank slowly into unconsciousness.
Rye was able to follow Balian’s scent easily through the building. Tracking him was not as hard as he’d thought. But what would he do when he found him? Sparks flew roughly from his ears. I should have done it sooner…torn out his heart!
But his malice took a different turn as he remembered Jarre’s last words. “Promise me…you’ll watch over her, and protect her from Deoxys, if I don’t make it.”
Those words had unnerved him so. What could the Torchic possibly be planning? But he didn’t dwell on that. He’d keep the promise he made, but not for him. He didn’t know who for exactly. I feel so strange,
he thought. Why do I feel like this? I don’t even know what I feel…what I’m doing. I feel something changing within me…but what?
The Elekid shook his head to clear the thought, and focused instead on the direction of the Empoleon. He was getting close now, he could feel it. Stopping for a split second, he placed a paw on the wall and sent out a quick spark. It raced through the wall, leading him to Balian like a magnet. So close…
he thought. Almost there…
The spark grew white hot and then…vanished?
But what did that mean?! Had Balian left the PRA? No, he wouldn’t have done that if he was after Zanna. There was only one other option. He was protected by a barrier.
Rye slammed a fist against the wall. “Damn it!” The sandstone surface cracked slightly, and a few grains tumbled free. How was he to find Balian if he’d disappeared? Suddenly the Elekid’s ears pricked up. Someone was coming…from the direction of the hospital wing. Rye braced himself for a fight as the footsteps came closer. One…two…a Dragonite rounded the corner and Rye jumped in surprise. “Sir!”
“Oh, Rye, isn’t it?”
The Elekid collected himself and stared up at him. “Yes, sir.” Then he thought of something. If he couldn’t track down Balian, maybe he should stick close to Zanna instead. After all, he would undoubtedly be going after her. “Codan, sir,” Rye began anxiously. “Do you know where I might find Zanna?”
The Dragonite frowned. “She was with me at the hospital wing, but…when I went back for her, she was gone. I don’t know where she is now.”
Rye sighed, downcast by his news. “Oh, alright. I was heading there anyway,” he lied. “I should start looking from there.”
Codan eyed him curiously, but said nothing. “Goodnight to you, then,” he murmured, striding off down the hall.
Rye sighed. So Zanna had been at the hospital wing. Hmm…what was she doing there?
He turned to the left and made for the west end, hoping for some miracle, that Zanna might still be there.
Jarre’s eyes focused on the floor, and glared. All he could hear was the rough sound of his talons scraping against the cement as he walked. As soon as Rye had left, he’d come up with a plan. Under the PRA was a large sewer system. Amongst all the pipes, it was rumoured that there was a strong beast; almost as strong as a mountain. “Let’s just hope those rumours are true,” Jarre mumbled to himself. While he had heard that this Pokemon was incredibly strong and rare, he’d also heard that it was in league with the PRA, and therefore, just as intent to stop Deoxys as the rest of them.
The Torchic thought about this as he peered into a puddle. “Urrgh! This is dirtier than I’d hoped. And that stench.
that?” Jarre raised a wing to cover his beak and proceeded down the long, dark tunnel. Several pairs of red eyes flickered out at him, but none dared to show themselves. They knew what he wanted, and were happy enough to leave him be.
A faint light began to shine ahead, but it wasn’t daylight. This light was artificial. However, it did lead the way to what he wanted. Within a few seconds, the light began to grow stronger and Jarre had to shield his eyes. The brightness blinded him after being in the dark for so long.
The Torchic walked the last few muddy steps into a wide clearing. The circular room seemed like a dead end to any other Pokemon, but Jarre knew better. The wet, grey cement walls encased the room. Columns were spread in a circle around the center of the room, which hid an altar amongst them. He slowly made his way towards it, and up the silver stone steps. As soon as he was sure he was the right place, he glanced up at the ceiling. A dark, gaping hole bore down on him. His legs were suddenly shaking.
he thought. I have to do this! To save everyone from Deoxys!
Jarre glared up at the hole and opened his beak wide. “Pokemon of the earth, I beseech you, come down so that I may talk to you!” For a moment, only the echo of his own voice answered him, then…a loud, ear-splitting rumble filled the room. “Wah!” Jarre shouted, “Earthquake!”
And as the quake grew more ferocious, so did the light, until it blinded Jarre so much that he had to close his eyes. The Torchic was tossed from the altar and fell roughly to the ground. In the split second that he opened an eye a crack, a loud roar filled the room, and then it all turned black.
To be continued in next post...