Chapter Eleven: Hyperthermia
Torok landed solidly on the sidewalk. Obsidian touched down gracefully behind him. His passengers safely deposited, Noctua turned about in the air and flew off.
“They are on the ground.” He thinks. His thoughts echo through the minds of the entire team, thanks to Saji serving as their operator. “We have traced the cause to incense, normally found at Pokémarts. It’s a local brand that caters to calming Pokémon after training.” Kuroi explains. “It is locally produced here in Saffron. You two will be exploring the warehouse.” Kuroi says. “We just need to find out what the active ingredients in the incense are, then that Doctor can make a cure.”
It was roughly three in the morning. Torok was a bit groggy. He had slept beforehand to prepare for the operation, but he was slow to wake. Obsidian seemed unphased by the late hours, though she always was awake at night. The warehouse was on the opposite end of town, and was nested alongside its kin. It was indistinguishable from its fellow warehouses aside from the number above the front door.
A brief jet of flame melted the lock on the door. The door opened to reveal ordered shelves stacked two stories high. Boxes of all kinds were arranged on the shelves, forming a maze of wood and plastic wrap.
“What are we looking for?” Torok asks. Obsidian stops and looks at him. Her mind echos in his head. “Think, don’t speak. We can’t hear you unless you give your thoughts to Saji.” She thinks. “What are we looking for?” Torok thinks. His embarrassment is evident in his thoughts.
“What is in the warehouse?” Kuroi asks. Obsidian looks at the label on the nearest box. “Liechi berries… Liechi… Liechi… A lot of Leichi berries. Oh, Lactose powder…” She says. “Leichi berries are used to increase combat performance. They are sanctioned by the NPL, and moderately regulated. Leichi oil made from the berries would probably produce the same effect if burnt and inhaled, but it wouldn’t cause the effects that Michael described.” Kuroi explains. “Lactose powder is harmless enough. It is often used by cooks as a sweetner. It is also used as a sand-in for cocaine in movies.” She thinks.
“Punk… Stick?” Torok thinks. He is not quite literate in Kantonian. “That is the charcoal stick that the oil is placed on.” Kuroi explains.
“Wait...” Obsidian thinks. She walks to the crate of lactose. There is a crack in the side, probably from some mishandling of the crate. With a swipe of her paw, a fragment of the wood was pulled away. “Lactose powder is a.. powder, right? Not a liquid?” She asks. She bats at the hole made in the create. A plastic bag falls out. Inside she can see plenty of bags of white powder, but this bag is different. Inside is a thick deep red liquid. It is viscus, almost to the point that the term sauce would better describe it. With a slash of her claws, the bag is opened and the contents ooze out. Obsidian sniffs. “Crimson Heat...” She says. “That would do it...” Kuroi says.
“What’s that?” Torok asks. “A stimulant distilled from the blood of fire-types.” Kuroi responds. “My blood is drugs?!” Torok says in alarm. “Only when you put it in a machine and squeeze all the blood out.” Obsidian teases. She grabs his head with her paws and squeezes playfully.
“Focus you two...” Kuroi says. “Saji, can you grab that crate?” There is a shimmer of light, and the crate disappears. “It’s heavy...” Saji thinks. “I won’t be able to take this home and pick them up as well. Do you want me to stash it somewhere?” She asks. “Prioritize the crate. Get it home. Noctua, you will be picking them back up.” Kuroi says. Noctua acknowledges and silently doubles back. He lands on the roof of the warehouse and waits. “Here we go.” Obsidian says. The crate before her is open. Boxes of packaged incense are packed in hay. It is about half full. “There is some machine over here!” Torok thinks. There is a massive metal drum sitting next to a table. On the table are unmarked bottles of red effluvium. At the end of the table, a row of punk sticks were being submerged in the red muck. “The whole set up is here!” He says. Obsidian joins him. “It’s a press.” She states. “Mixing Crimson Heat with Leichi berry oil?” She asks. “Hyper-aggression… Increased testosterone, adrenaline, This has to be it. Destroy the equipment. We need to shut down production while we track down who is actually running this operation.” Kuroi instructs. Obsidian spreads out to a braced stance. Her rings light up and she fires a single dark pulse at the press, irreparably destroying it. A sudden light and a crack draw her attention. Fire is pouring out of Torok’s mouth, and engulfing the crate of incense. “No. Nonono. What are you doing?” Obsidian says. She runs over to the Charmeleon. “We are destroying it.” He says, looking at her. “The Equipment! We need to keep the incense to make a cure!” Obsidian says. She stops. Her nose burns. Hazy red smoke is billowing out of the burning crate. “Don’t breath in!” She says. She sinks to the ground beneath the smoke. “Noctua, I need you to break some windows so we can breathe!” She thinks desperately. Shortly after, there is a loud screech, and the glass windows on the roof of the warehouse shatter. Torok is busy staring into the flames. They are so beautiful. The fire smells wonderful. It is a new smell and an old smell. Exciting and also familiar. His side hurts. There is a small scar along the side of his belly. He has mostly forgotten it, but now the memories return. He remembers a stone, the urn, and then the butterfly. “Torok. Torok don’t. Look at me. I am here. Look-” Obsidian is saying, but she is far away. She wasn’t there. She could have stopped the butterfly but she wasn’t there. He was. He could have stopped the butterfly. He could have saved her.
Torok stops listening. He is done listening. He begins to burn. It was a pleasure to burn.
“Torok breathed in the incense! He is torching everything!” Obsidian exclaims. “Get him away from the smoke!” Kuroi commands. “Saji! Can you get them out?” “I am half way across town with the crate. I won’t get there in time!” The Alakazam responds. Noctua lands in front of the Charmeleon, nearly standing in the flames himself. He flaps his wings once. A powerful gust throws Torok backwards. Once the Charmeleon is on the ground, Noctua dashes forward and snatches him up. The bat screeches at a window, shattering it. He flies out into the night sky, clutching the squirming Torok in his talons. “Get him to the Center!” Kuroi demands. Noctua speeds across town. Obsidian crawls out of the burning warehouse. She ducks into an ally just as the fire department arrives.
Docter Hakishi was in the main lobby of the Saffron City Pokémon Center when Noctua landed, depositing the thrashing Chameleon on the floor. Hakishi recognized the signs immediately. Soot was covering the Charmeleon, as well as the Noivern that brought him. His tail flame was nearly twice it’s normal size, indicating that his body was trying to shed a lot of excess heat. His eyes were glowing red, his breathing was fast and panicked. Hakishi turns to look beside her. A trio of dogs sit, obediently waiting for instruction. “Mica, go get Doctor Azure.” She says. The Rockruff jumps to his feet and runs off. “Janus, get to the IC and get a fever bath drawn. We will need oxygen for his tail.” The Lycanroc nods, and heads down the hallway. “Ashley...” Hakishi says to the Jolteon, “Thunderwave...”
Torok spasmed and shook, then finally held still as paralysis overtook him. A syringe was pressed to his neck, and soon he was unconscious. Michael Azure came running, escorted by the Rockruff. “Azure, This Noivern just brought in your Charmeleon!” Hakishi says. She stops speaking. Standing next to Azure is a Charmeleon. He looks identical to the one on the ground, save for the fact that he is wearing a brown hoodie with the Center’s logo on it.
“He’s right here...” Azure says, gesturing to the Charmeleon behind him. He looks at the unconscious Torok on the ground, then up to Noctua. Realization strikes. “Get this Chameleon to the cooling tank.” He says, already guessing as to what ailed Torok. He turns to Noctua. “Is she here?” He asks.
There is a flash of light, and Madam Kuroi appears. Saji slumps, drained to exhaustion. The Alakazam disappears happily into her Pokéball. “It’s Crimson Heat.” Kuroi says, drawing the attention of everyone. “Crimson Heat mixed with Leichi Oil.”
Doctor Michael wasted no time. “Set him up on dialysis, and two milligrams of Naloxone. Give him another three doses of two milligrams, once dose every two minutes.” Torok is soon on a stretcher and being carried to intensive care. Doctor Azure walks over to Madam Kuroi, and after a brief bow, takes hold of her wheel chair and brings her along with her Pokémon.
* * *
Torok wakes up in a tub. Surrounding him are bags of now tepid water. His arm is strapped to a board. There is a tube attached to it, several actually. His blood flowed from his arm into a machine, which was softly humming. A second tube brought the blood back to him. In his other arm there is a third tube, this one was filled with a clear liquid. He can’t move. To be fair he doesn’t want to move. He is hot. Everything is hot. Even the cool bags of water are somehow hot.
“-For a few more hours. After that we can take him off the machine. I still want to keep him over-”
Listening was hard. Torok felt like he was underwater. He wanted sleep. There was pain as well. A lot of pain. Sleep will help…
Torok wakes again. He is in a different room. His arms no longer have tubes in them, but they are wrapped up in cloth. He still hurts, and decides not to move. The room is small and the air is different.
“You’re awake.” Someone says. Torok looks. She is sitting across from him. She is here. Her scales are red, not gold but she is there… No… She isn’t. “Are you?” the someone says. He… says. Torok blinks, but he doesn’t respond. The Chameleon stands. He stands. He walks over to Torok’s bed. “This room is rich in oxygen. Humans can’t exist in here too long without getting intoxicated. It’s good for open flame fire-types like you and me.” He says warmly. Again, Torok doesn’t react. “Can you tell me your name?” The Charmeleon asks. For a time Torok says nothing. He looks at the Charmeleon on his bed. He looks so much like her, but also different in the eyes, skin, and face. Her yet not her. “Torok...” He says. “Hello Torok… The Charmeleon says. “My name is Mance.”
Torok looks away and sighs. Mance continues. “Do you know where you are?” He asks. “Pokémon Center… Saffron” Torok responds. “Yes, perfect. Keep this up and you can go home tomorrow.” Mance says. He gets up to return to report Torok’s condition. A hand reaches out and grabs him. “Don’t leave...” Torok says. He can’t look at Mance. He is afraid he will see a butterfly. Mance sits back on the bed, and holds his patient’s hand. “I am not leaving.” He says. “Ever?” Torok responds. He shuts his eyes, and slips back into unconsciousness. Mance smiles, and gently rubs Torok’s head.