Chapter Fifteen: Contrition
The trip to the Pokémon Center was not uneventful. On more than one occasion, Torok had to double back or duck into alleyways to avoid the Rockets patrolling the street. Noctua of course, had no trouble flying across town. He of course stayed near Torok, but also maintained enough distance to avoid his Ire.
Once Torok was safely delivered to the Center, Noctua landed inside. He had no doubt that Madam Kuroi called ahead, for the Center’s skylight was open to accept him. Doctor Azure was waiting for them. “Evening boys.” He says. “I wish we could be meeting under better circumstances.”
“Where is Mance?” Torok asks. Azure pets the Charmeleon’s head. “I am sorry, Torok, but I sent him to Cerulean City with a batch of Pokémon already. The Rock Pup Trio are headed to Lavender town now, and you are going to Celadon.
Professor Azure has a backpack. Carefully contained inside are Pokéballs of various trainers. The backpack itself is made of metal and sealed. Only a ranking medical professional should be able to open it. That being said, Azure knew that Team Rocket likely had methods to defeat the encryption on the backpack, which is why he was sending them in the care of two powerful Pokémon. This is how Azure sees it. He tries to see nothing but the good in people, though his profession as a doctor always seems to show him the worst in them.
Torok and Noctua travel along Route 7. Torok carries the backpack. He has refused every offer Noctua has made to carry it. In truth he refuses to speak to Noctua, aside from telling him to stop talking. Torok walked forward earnestly. He was trying his best to stay mad at Noctua. He didn’t hate the bat. He actually admired how much he cared. The sound of his voice, how it was at once shrill and piercing while also being deep and smooth. It was a meeting of thunder and lightning. It was the sound of a thunderstorm, and Torok was loathed to admit that he loved it. He loved so many things about Noctua. And yet Torok hated him. Noctua Left Orion. He left him to die. He fled and didn’t look back. Why. Whywhy. Why was Orion dead and Noctua alive? … … … That was a horrid thought. And even as Torok seethed with anger, he chastised himself for thinking that way. Noctua didn’t kill Orion. Cyprès killed Orion. But Noctua could have saved him. He SHOULD have saved him. He left him! He left Orion! He- “WHY ARE YOU TOUCHING ME!?”
Torok turned and let loose a cone of flame. It was not -that- strong. Noctua would be hurt but not damaged… “Torok blinked. It was not Noctua that was now running around to his side. A Mankey had walked up to him, and had tapped him on the shoulder. The Mankey now ran, screaming and batting at his signed fur. In truth it was not that bad. He would just need to grow his fur back. But the pain was real. Soon the cries of the Mankey began to multiply. They came out of the trees alone the road. More Mankeys dropped from the trees, and soon surrounded Torok and Noctua. They circled the two Pokémon, yelling in anger and beating their chests. Torok backed up close to Noctua. “s...Sorry.” He said weakly, both to the Mankey he burned, as well as the rest of her assembled kindred. As one, the Mankey charged in on the two.
“PickmeupPickmeupPickmeup!” Torok yelled, clinging to Noctua. The Noivern was already grabbing the Charmeleon’s shoulders, and the two launched into the air. Noctua strained with the sudden need to hold the Charmeleon as well as the heavy backpack. But once the two were in the air, they lazily floated along, away form the crowd of angry primates. Torok, and Noctua breathed a collective sigh of relief.
“What was that?” Noctua asks, feeling nothing but concern for his companion. “I didn’t mean to.” Torok says defensively. “I thought he was you.” And as soon as Torok said that he regretted it. Noctua looked away from the Charmeleon below him, but the look of hurt on his face was still plain to see. Something struck Torok’s ankle, and brought him back to attention. The Mankey were chasing after them. Rocks and sticks sail through the air. A few hit home, throwing Noctua off path. “Let’s Go!” Torok yells, and Noctua dives, rapidly gaining speed. He soared along the ground, traveling at speeds he had always dreamed of going. A rock the size of a grapefruit falls out of the air, and connects squarely with Noctua’s back. Time seems to move at a glacial rate, as the implications rush through Noctua’s head. There is no choice to be made. Even as he falls out of the air, he rotates. Massive wings fold around the Charmeleon that Noctua is holding. Even as he falls to the earth, he pulls Torok to his chest, holding the cold metal pack close, and wrapping himself around the lizard. Noctua lands. The rocky path scrapes against his back, leaving a muddy red streak in his wake. Soon he stops sliding and begins to tumble. There are a few wet smacks and a crack as he rolls along the ground. Torok is thrown from Noctua’s arms, and lands along side him. While he is not nearly as injured as Noctua, he is far form unscathed. Several sections of his scales are torn away, revealing bloody meat underneath. The Mankey are closing fast, still furious. More rocks and sticks fly through the air, landing about the downed pair. Torok steps forward. The turpentine is already forming is his mouth. He moves it about, preparing. All his rage and anger distills into a ball of boiling chemicals. The fluid ignited in his mouth, and launched out at the oncoming Mankeys. A densly packed ball of flame shot out of Torok’s mouth and hurled towards the oncoming riot. With a loud bang not unlike that of fireworks, the orb split apart into eight streams of flame at the crashed into the ground, scorching a line along the path. The Mankeys stopped. They hesitated. Torok stared them down. He spat some remaining effluvia onto the ground, which smoldered slowly, a thin line of smoke slowly drifted upwards in front of the Charmeleon, like the trail of incense. Torok stared down the Mankeys. He hated them. He hated all of them. He hated butterflies.
The Mankeys turned, and retreated back to their trees. They never would admit their defeat, and they shouted curses and threw rocks as they fled. But they fled. Torok sank to the ground, covered in the stabbing pain of the many abrasive wounds he carried. Torok looks back to Noctua. The bat is crumpled in a haphazard pile, as if a young child had grown bored of him and tossed him away. There was a growing pool of blood under him. It mixed with the dirt to make a murky brick colored mud. A sharp stick is impaled through his left wing. It is likewise coated in murky crimson. “Bon boulot...” Noctua mumbles, far too pained to be bothered with translating his praise. The Bat tries to stand, which proves to be a rather monumental effort. His wounds are caked in dirt, just as Torok’s are.
“Je suis désolé.” Torok says solemnly. The various pains about him were nothing compared to the one in his heart.
“Y'a pas d'mal.” Noctua replies. He laughs at his own joke, though laughing only hurts him more. Noctua leans on Torok, and together, the two continue on the path towards Celadon City.
* * *
Officer Ankaishoku watches his post vigilantly. His duty is to protect Celedon City and he takes that duty very seriously. It starts with a loud bang, that echos for a time. An explosion off in the distance. It could be a gunshot, or the crack of a fire attack. It could be trainers fighting each other, or fighting the local wildlife. However it could just as easily be bandits or others such. This puts Ankaishoku on alert. His companion, a Pidgeot, also rouses from her roosting spot. She holds out a leg, already knowing that she is needed. Ankaishoku attaches the signal ribbons to his Pidgeot’s legs. Each band has three colored ribbons on it. They are tightly curled and held in place with clasps. Ankaishoku opens the door to the guard station, and Pidgeot flies off down Route 7.
It does not take terribly long for the second boom to sound. This is a sound that Ankaishuko is more familiar with. It is the sound of his Pidgeot breaking the sound barrier on her return trip. She has found something. She never hurries back unless she has something to report. Ankaishuko grabs his binoculars. Pidgeot will have sped to Mach 1 for the sonic boom, to announce her return. She would then bleed off the speed as she approached the station. Soon he has her in sight. He adjusts the focus, and looks at her feet. Two ribbons trail behind her. The first one confirms his suspicion. A yellow ribbon flutters from her left foot, signifying Pokémon combat. Normally not a cause for concern, unless of course it is accompanied by a ribbon from her right foot. Such a ribbon is indeed fluttering behind her, a red one. It whips about in the air as she slows her descent. Ankaishuko is highly trained, just as his companion is. He his his radio in his hand already. His response time is exemplary.
“Dispatch. Dispatch. This is East Guard Station. Repeat. This is East Guard Station. I have a medical emergancy on Route 7. Requesting a bus equipped for Pokémon.” He says
“This is Dispatch. Request received. The Center is sending an ambulance now.” His radio squawks. Ankaishuko can hear the sirens already. He presses a button on his desk, lowering the bollards outside in preparation for the emergency vehicle. The pitch rises and falls as the ambulance passes the guard station. Ankaishuko watches it speed down the road of Route 7.
* * *
Noctua lays in bed. A machine beeps steadily beside him. A bag of clear liquid drips steadily. He is covered in bandages of various size. Most are damp with blood and other fluids. A nurse will be by to change them soon. A collection of stitches hold the tear in his wing closed. Torok rests on the bed at his side. This will be the third time the nurse has had to shoo him back to his own bed.
“Je suis désolé.” He whispers softly. He has said nothing but those words since the ambulance had found them.
“Y'a pas d'mal.” Noctua responds. He smiles down at the Charmeleon. He wants to hold him, to let him know that everything is ok. He wants to assure Torok that all is well, but he dares not move. He settles for a few more words. “Je t’aime.” He says. They are powerful words that have such a horrible meaning between the two of them. But his use of them makes his intent all the more potent.
“Moi aussi, je t'aime.” Torok says softly, and the act of speaking those words brings him to tears.