Categories > Games > Pokemon > The Fire in Their Eyes

Chapter 3

by Pillowrabbit 0 reviews

An alliance is forged.

Category: Pokemon - Rating: PG - Genres: Fantasy - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2016-08-21 - 2170 words

When Blanche was little, she’d perch on his knee and listen to his stories. He chewed them around like tobacco. Pried them out with his teeth. Even in the end, when his mouth was empty and he had no more stories left to give, Blanche would always remember her favorite one.

An earthquake had struck when the world was still new, when not even the first stars had yet been made. It thundered; it shuddered; it loosened the seams of the earth and split it wide like an apple core. The first village felt the sky shake. Houses tumbled through the cracks. Swallowed up by the ground. They fell down, down, and down. How the people screamed! How they cried for help! But their shrieks were only whispers against the earthquake’s mighty roar.

Yet, one heard. A silver bird. It rose with its great wings. Right before the village was dashed to pieces at the very edge of the earth, it caught them on its back and flew upward, higher and higher, away from all the danger. It soared toward heaven, and the villagers swore they had never seen any bird like this one.

Silvery-white, shimmering on its edges. Like a patch of living cloud, as though it were carved out of ice itself. Its eyes were old, the story had said, but held within them were wisdom. Wisdom, strength, and kindness.

Blanche ignored the hostile glares, the accusing whispers behind her back. She kept her gaze straight ahead and walked a calm, steady pace. Guards flanked her on both sides. She could practically feel the wariness rolling off them like waves.

In the end of the hallway was a room.

“She will see you shortly,” said one of them, and they hastily hurried back out the door.

She let her gaze fall on the empty table and its set of chairs. The walls were bare, the wallpaper a drab set of stony gray.

A lone window hung on the far side of the room. Through it, she could see the rolling storm clouds, the downpour leaving streaks of tears down the glass.

The sound of the door unlocking.

She turned to see Candela make her way through it, not even bothering to give her so much as a glance. Blanche could see the stiff way she walked, the tiredness in her shoulders, the stray hairs fanning her forehead. And her face, pinched with worry, as though she could actually feel, like she actually cared about all that had happened. A hint of surprise danced around Blanche’s nerves, but she forced it away. Keep alert. She searched the enemy’s hands for any hint of a weapon. Only then did she let herself relax.

Candela dropped onto the chair and heaved a heavy sigh, enough to rattle her bones. She gestured impatiently to the empty chair across the table.

“Well?” she hissed. “Let’s get this over with. And be warned, I’ve got cameras everywhere. We can see your every move.”

Blanche felt her hackles rise, her brow furrowing at the remark. Control, she told her herself, breathing steadily. It’s all about focus.

Instead of a glare, she gave her a tight-lipped smile, and settled over the chair. The table was wide enough to face each other, but not so close that they bumped knees. Good. Even now, she couldn’t help but quicken her breath at the thought of actually talking to someone from another team. This was taboo. This was unspoken of, never even dreamed of, not in a thousand years. A Mystic and a Valor together in the same room. What would her uncle say if he saw her now?

Blanche sat up straight and crossed her arms. Look confident. Intimidate her. “I remember when this first started happening. They disappeared for weeks at a time, with no warning and without a trace. When they finally showed up again, they changed. They grew irritable. Disobedient. Little details that no one bothered to pay attention to until it was too late. Sometimes they went missing too. Just vanished out of the blue.” Blanche thought back to one of their own Rattatas, brought up and trained well just like all the other Pokemon they captured. None would dream of ever biting her. Until one day, some did.

Just some nibbles, not deep but enough to hurt. Maybe a few angry squeaks too, and scratches, as though they didn’t quite recognize her.

Pretty soon, they stopped listening altogether. Tossed her words away like a rock into a stream. They attacked anything and anyone that moved. Pokeballs couldn’t contain them. Blanche remembered, with a heavy heart, how she had to put them in cages, the last thing she ever wanted for her Pokemon.

It started with just the small ones. Geodudes, Weedles, Pidgeys. Then, like a patient hunter, it moved on to the bigger game.

She kept her voice steady. “Their strength increased tenfold. None of us knew what had happened. Steel cages became useless, since they could trample them as easily as twigs. We had to lock them up. My researchers worked hard to find a cure. It’s been months now.” She hardened her gaze. “I know you don’t take this problem lightly. You saw what that Nidoking did.”

Blanche didn’t flinch. She didn’t even waver, didn’t falter or jump, not even when Candela slammed her fist on the table and shot her face up to send her a fiery scowl.

“Is this what you’ve come all the way here to tell me? All this useless crap? Do you actually think I’m retarded enough to not know everything that’s been going on for the past eight months?” She stretched her mouth back into a half grin, half grimace. “Don’t answer that. I know exactly what you think of me. And if that’s all you have to say, then you might as well scram. I have a funeral to get to.”

Blanche caught her furious gaze and held it, matching her brown eyes with her own steely gray. She searched deep within them. She was a snake sliding through the grass, noiselessly, stealthily, scenting things out and waiting for the right chance to strike. She watched the emotion flicker in her opponent’s face. Candela’s eyes smoldered, but they also held something else. Hurt. Sorrow. She saw the broken girl from earlier, lying face-down on the ground.

Yes. The snake opened its jaws and struck.

Candela was already halfway out the door when Blanche said, “How many?”

The girl stopped in mid-stride. Blanche noticed the way she clenched her fists, hard enough to leave her knuckles bone-white.


“You understand me. How many?” Blanche leaned back against the chair, making herself seem nonchalant, as though they were talking about nothing but the weather.

She saw it coming from a mile away. A slight gust of wind. A whoosh. A blur. She caught the hand right before it slapped her. Tightened her grip, grinding the bones together. Candela stiffened and shot her another glare.

“Let me go,” she said, voice dangerously low.

“I told you already,” Blanche said, and even she couldn’t help a trickle of irritation from leaking through. “I came here to talk, not to fight. I have lost many of my own people too. Good people. You want to know exactly how many? Twelve so far. Too much for me to bear.”

“Then that’s your problem, not mine. Now let go of my arm, or I won’t hesitate to break your nose.”

Idle threats. Just what she’d expect from a Valor.

“My researchers and I have examined the bodies of the Pokemon we’ve had to put down. There was nothing unusual about them. No growths, no changes, and no illnesses whatsoever. It is not a virus.” At this, Candela stopped moving. Cautiously, Blanche loosened her grip. The enemy yanked her arm away and stepped back, rubbing the bruise on her wrist. Hatred was still written all over her face. But the anger was gone. She made no move to leave.

Blanche continued, “What we did discover was a strange marking on all of them. Very small, about half an inch, but there nonetheless. It is in the shape of a lightning bolt.”

“Lightning bolt?”

“A scar. But always in the places where we aren’t likely to see. The back of their ears. The inside of their paw. Beneath their arms. It is as though someone is deliberately capturing Pokemon and carving that mark onto them.”

The twitch of a grin. “You’re saying that somebody’s running around these woods, hunting down Pokemon and--”

“If you check that Nidoking’s body, I promise you’ll find one too.” The cocky grin faded. “Possibly strategically hidden beneath its horn, or on the base of its tail, where no one will notice. A person really is behind all this. Or.” She leaned forward. “A group of people are behind this. This isn’t a game, Valor. This is an attack. They are deliberately catching Pokemon and then releasing them back into the woods. Somehow, they are able to alter their minds, change their personalities, make them forget everything about their trainers. You saw how much damage it’s done already.”

She scoffed. “That’s insane. So some crazy organization’s doing this? Well, what do they want from us?”

“To destroy us, possibly. If we don’t do something soon, more and more Pokemon will be infected just like that Nidoking. And it’ll get to the point where we won’t be able to hold them back.”

Without warning, her mind turned and strayed back to all those months ago. The Rattatas were the first to go. And then went the rest. She could still remember the stricken looks on her teammate’s faces when their own Pokemon suddenly went missing, nowhere to be found, then turn up weeks later with fangs bared and fur bristling. One by one, they became savage beasts, snarling and growling, not hesitating to lunge and tear a person’s arm off.

Then Blanche’s own Steelix. If she closed her eyes, she could still hear the terrified screams of her team, the deafening roar of the furious beast, of metal crunching and twisting as it writhed through the hallway. Calm down! What’s wrong with you? No. It can’t be. Steelix. Don’t tell me it’s gotten you too.

The grief was crushing and sudden, coming like a hard-knuckled blow. That was when she had finally broken down. When she had decided to come here, begging at the feet of her opponent. The thought of it had made her want to spit. But she couldn’t risk it. She couldn’t just stand and watch it tear her team apart. She couldn’t lose the Pokemon she had left.

Candela’s back was turned toward her. When she spoke, she sounded surprisingly calm. “So you want me to help you track these people down.”

Even now, Blanche wanted to wrinkle her nose at those words. Helping a Valor. It made her insides drip with disgust, but she stifled it enough to say, “A temporary alliance. Or a truce, if you will. Just long enough for me to find what I’m looking for.”

“Then can’t your researchers help you? Or the rest of your team?”

“They’ve already been through enough. I want them to stay together, since they’ll be safer that way. And besides.”

She stood up. The floorboards creaked beneath her. “I am the leader of Team Mystic. It is my duty to protect both my people and my Pokemon. The ones I have left, at least.” She lifted her chin. “And frankly, even if you are cowardly enough to turn down my offer, I will still carry on by myself.”

Candela glowered. “I’m not scared,” she sneered. “You should hear yourself. Oh, let’s shake hands and be friends!” she mocked. “We’ll forget everything that’s happened for the last few hundred years.”

Blanche sucked in a sharp breath. “Believe me, Valor, this idea repulses me just as much. But I’m at the end of my line.”

Silence. It hung like a boulder over their heads, threatening to crush them both. Blanche watched Candela. Saw how she opened her mouth to say something, only to close it again. Watched as she dropped her head to stare down at her shoes.

Finally, she glanced up. Blanche saw fire burning in her eyes.

“Fine, then,” she said. “I’ll do it. I don’t really have a choice now, do I? This won’t stop until I hunt down those people and give them hell for all they’ve done to my Team.”

Blanche stretched her arm out. “A pleasure being with you,” she said icily.

Candela didn’t shake her hand.
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