Here we go, the fiftieth chapter! Though it is not fiftieth overall including the blogs and interludes, it is still a milestone, particularly as this chapter and the two that follow will dramatically shape Alaska and the rest of her journey. I hope you enjoy, and know that there will hopefully be more to come in the future!
Chapter Fifty: Change
"Alaska, WAIT!" Sandy screamed out. Alaska normally would have paused, but her mind was focussed elsewhere, hundreds of thoughts and images flashing before her eyes. I can't stop, Sandy… I nearly lost you, I can't lose them either…
Screams and shouts came from across the floor, but Alaska could not tell who the voices belonged to or where they were coming from. She smashed her fist into the buttons for the lift, briefly remembering lying on the floor but forgetting how she had gotten here, but none of that mattered. As a light flashed to show the elevator was coming, Alaska felt a tug of wind, the bite of bitter cold seeping into the building, heard the sound of thunder, rain and wind blurring in amongst the voices, saw the occasional hot white flash that burnt like the neon glow of the battlefield she had destroyed.
The wind, maybe the wind could have saved them, Alaska thought as the lift dinged. No, that's stupid… they fell, all of them fell, and it's all my fault again…
"Alaska, wait for us!" Someone, possibly Daisy, yelled, but Alaska could not bare to share a lift with someone else; their judging eyes and words would be too much to handle, the tension would be suffocating, the pain even more excruciating than it already was. Alaska ran into the lift and slammed the button to shut the doors before pressing for the ground floor. She glimpsed briefly unfamiliar faces running towards her, the room dark except for the one jagged, gaping hole on the opposite side that was letting everything come in, and had let them go out…
The doors slid shut, the lift lurched down, and Alaska was alone.
She found herself sitting on the cold floor, the strength to stand fading away. Alaska clutched her knees close to her body to try and stop herself from shaking, but her body quivered uncontrollably, and her eyes began to feel wet, the entire world blurring.
How did this… how did any of this happen? Alaska asked herself as darkness settled throughout her body. This was meant to be a simple journey, a chance for freedom and to experience life, to let Paige spread her wings and for me to fly as well… Well, that's another lie right there… I wanted to prove I was better than Chloe, I wanted to prove Paige and I could be champions without using a Starter… and look we're my jealousy has gotten me now…
Alaska thought back to the prophecies that had haunted her throughout this quest, the ones that had tried to shape her and that Alaska had to tried to let in. Latios' words from this morning came back to her as clear as day; 'before you have left this city, you will lose another… you face your greatest challenge yet.' The challenge was Alexis, it had to be… but who am I going to lose? I can't let any of them die… I nearly lost Sandy, I nearly killed Trevor, people all around me keep dying and every city I go to gets blown up… what is the point of all of this? Why do I survive but everyone and everything around me keeps falling?
The lift came to a sudden stop, and Alaska forced herself to her feet again as the doors slid open. She stumbled out into the reception, the water feature being deafened by the raging storm outside. I probably caused that as well, Alaska thought darkly as she moved out, eyeing the sliding doors she had entered through, everything's my fault, isn't it?
"Excuse me, but do you know what is going on?" The receptionist called out. "There are alarms going off throughout the building, there is some glitch occurring with the battle system, and I just heard something fall outside."
No… Alaska had hoped they might be able to save themselves somehow… but if they had fallen… I lost, I lost, I lost… She ran across the reception, her footsteps echoing off the walls but barely sounding over the rain. There was a ping as another lift arrived, and someone shouted out to her a moment later, but Alaska did not look back, she simply ran. She had to find her answers.
The doors slid open at her approach, and the weather came crashing in.
Alaska was forced to stop and reassess her plan. It seemed like a million gallons of rain was falling from the sky, and it seemed to be drawn to her, soaking her within seconds and making her shiver worse than ever. The wind threatened to blow her backwards, the loud roaring and howling deafening and only making Alaska's fears grow.
"Oh god, where are they?" Alaska muttered to herself, and she forced herself to move further out into the storm. She could already feel her shirt clinging to her skin, her damp hair being blown all over the place. It was a terrible feeling that got down beneath your skin, but Alaska could not stop now. There was no way she would abandon them like this, not after everything, she couldn't leave Paige or Butterfree or Bellsprout… or Darwin…
"PAIGE!" Alaska screamed, silencing the voices and thoughts in her head. "PAIGE, WHERE ARE YOU! BELLSPROUT, BUTTERFREE, DARWIN YOU BASTARD, WHERE ARE YOU!" She looked around to see if anyone was coming out, but the storm had made the world dark and grey, drenching all the colour in a blast of freezing water and hiding everything in shadow. The wind was deafening, silencing everything else on the street, and every sane person seemed to be hiding in the local shops, murky yellow light shining up and down the street. Alaska wouldn't be surprised if her words had been tossed asides, and her Pokemon wouldn't be able to hear her anyway.
"PAIGE! BUTTERFREE! SOMEONE ANSWER ME!"
"Alaska!" A voice shouted from behind, and Alaska turned, for a moment thinking it would be Paige, but quickly remembered the fact her Pokemon can't talk. Sandy was running towards her, her dress and hair hanging limp from the rain, Morimoto and Daisy lingering in the doorway. "Oh my god Alaska, you had me so worried! Something is wrong with you, you need to sit down and take a breath!"
"I think something is wrong with you!" Alaska replied, her voice cracking between a laugh and annoyance. Of course something is wrong with me, something has been wrong for weeks! "I am not sitting down, I have to find Paige and Darwin and your Pokemon as well! Help me look!"
"There are easier ways than running around in the freezing rain!" Sandy shouted, looking sad and desperate as she did too much lately. "You can call Pokemon using PokeBalls, remember?" She held her two in her hands, empty and ajar, and Alaska realised she should have known this… it seemed so obvious now that she thought of it. "Remember you said you would trust me and start treating me like a proper friend, back in the Diglett Cave? Well, you need to remember that now! The Pokemon are alright, trust me," Sandy was staring pleadingly at her, trying hard not to scream at Alaska to see sense. Alaska paused, staring back into the eyes of the friend who had been through so much with her already, yet they never got time to actually be friends, too busy trying to stay alive.
"Fine, I'll trust you this time," Alaska said, forcing a smile, and Sandy instantly looked more relaxed. They turned back towards the Game Freak building and the shelter offered, though Alaska kept turning and looking around, trying to find any sign of the Pokemon. Her shoe crunched over shattered glass, and Alaska looked up at the hole above. That is a long fall… Paige and Butterfree have wings, but this weather… and what about Darwin and Bellsprout?
"Are you sure they are going to come?" Alaska asked, looking around for signs of blood but only seeing more glass distributed between puddles.
"Yes Alaska, of course they are!" Sandy said with a strained smile. "Hang on a second… can you hear that?" Alaska froze, excited and scared at the same time. For a moment, she could only hear the rain and wind that surrounded them, and thought Sandy was trying to trick her. But than a soft cry came out through the veil of rain, and Alaska spun around, the thoughts in her head pausing for just a moment as she saw Paige and Butterfree float out from an alleyway behind them, Bellsprout hanging between them with her vines.
"PAIGE!" Alaska screamed, and she ran forwards, stumbling through puddles that flooded her shoes. Paige looked as wet as Alaska felt, but the Bird Pokemon beamed when she saw Alaska, and Butterfree and Bellsprout's faces lit up as well when they saw Sandy. The two broke free to move to their own trainer, letting Alaska leap up and pull Paige down into a hug, their two wet bodies colliding into the ground.
"Oh Paige, I thought I had lost you!" Alaska said, her voice cracking as she rolled on the street, holding Paige tightly and being hugged back with giant, wet wings. "Don't ever scare me like that again, you hear me! I thought I had lost you!"
"Pidge Pidgey Pidgey Ooottoo!" Paige replied, and Alaska smiled back and laughed. She watched as Sandy pulled her Pokemon into a hug as well, and saw Daisy and Morimoto smiling from the sliding doors. Her fears had been for nothing, her dark thoughts simply poison in her mind; everyone was safe, and Alaska thought for one fleeting moment that she had nothing to worry about… I won, I won!
"Prime… Prime Ape Ape!" An angry grunt sounded from the same alleyway, and Alaska felt the joy evaporate as quickly as she had been soaked. The embrace between her and Paige loosened, and the two turned towards the alleyway that had been made as dark as midnight by the sudden storm. Darwin came stumbling out, an angry sneer across his face, the look almost comical on his wet body. Alaska noted though that his hands were bunched up in fists, and there was a malicious glare in his eyes as he looked past his trainer. Alaska looked around and saw Sandy pulling Butterfree and Bellsprout in tighter, backing slowly away with fear on her own face.
Wait a second… Alaska thought as she pushed herself back to her feet, making sure she was in the way of Darwin and Sandy, how did all of this start? I fell over, and when I looked up, there was a Twister, than the explosion…
"Darwin is out of control Alaska, you have to stop him!" Daisy yelled from behind, and Alaska looked back briefly to see she had run forwards, PokeBalls in her hands in case of emergency. "He has been disobeying your orders all day! He nearly killed Alexis' Meganium, and possibly would have killed Butterfree if Paige hadn't gotten in the way, and that ended just as badly!"
"What did he do to her Twister?" Alaska asked, trying to remain calm, but anger was rising up inside her again, and her head felt like it would explode.
"I believe the power of ThunderPunch combined with Twister to strengthen it before making the shock wave, and the spinning force sucked Butterfree and Bellsprout inside," Morimoto explained, joining them with an oversized umbrella that struggled in the wind. "The four were thrown out when the Twister exploded, and clearly shattered the window. It is a miracle they survived, though I believe Pidgeotto and Butterfree's wings would have had something to do with it."
"So… it is all Darwin's fault?" Alaska asked, turning back towards her Pokemon. The Primeape stood there with his angry, ugly glare, ignoring the fact they were talking about him and looking past Alaska towards Sandy. He doesn't care about anything except winning, Alaska thought. He will destroy anything if it allowed him to win… Damian's Charmander, Alexis' Meganium, Sandy's Butterfree, and he was so willing to destroy Surge's Mine Field… though that was my suggestion… am I the problem here? Alaska's head was spinning, hundreds of thoughts overloading her system. It felt like something was crushing her throat and chest, and Alaska wanted to find somewhere to sleep, to forget about all of this…
"Ape Ape Prime!" Darwin snarled, and he began to stomp forwards, his powerful legs crushing the already broken glass beneath them, his eyes focussed entirely on Sandy.
"No Darwin, stop!" Alaska yelled, stepping towards him, but Darwin simply moved asides to avoid her. "Listen to me, I am your trainer! You are not allowed to hurt any of them!" She stepped to the right this time, but still Darwin moved around her. "STOP! LISTEN TO ME FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE!" Alaska grabbed onto his arm as he came past, holding it as tightly as she could. Darwin let out a screech like he had just been scalded and turned around, swinging his free fist.
Alaska felt pain rushing through her head, and the next thing she knew she was staring up at the clouds above, rain landing on her eyes, Paige hovering above her looking startled. She groaned, tasting blood in her mouth and feeling something streaking down her face. She tried to move, but it only made her head spin. Sandy appeared above her, shouting behind for help, but Alaska could barely hear her. She could only hear the voices in her head screaming at her: You lost, you lost, you lost. After a few moments, Alaska forced herself to sit up, the simple movement causing something to rise up in her swollen throat, and she spat a mixture of blood and bile onto the footpath, her stomach suddenly hurting as much as her brain was.
"Darwin…," she whispered, the word poison on her lips. Paige fluttered down, squawking, possibly trying to stop her, but Alaska gave her a pat and stared forward. Darwin was frozen to the spot, his fists still bunched up. His stance and mouth showed his anger, but his eyes were wide and fearful, a look Alaska had come to recognize well during this journey. There was a chance the Primeape felt pity, but Alaska was not having any of it... not now, not after everything.
"Get out of my sight," she hissed, slurring the words slightly from the blood in her mouth and nose, but they came out all the same. Darwin remained standing, though his stance weakened. "Didn't you hear me? This is the last order I am ever going to give you! You have nearly killed Pokemon, you've ruined EVERYTHING! Get out of my sight right now, or I will set Paige, Frances and Nadia on you, and you will not enjoy it. Leave… NOW!" Darwin looked stunned, remaining perfectly still, silence falling across the street except for the storm, except for Alaska, who had the voices and thoughts in her head screaming at her in protest. She didn't want to let Darwin go, but there was no way she could keep him. Her entire body was shaking now, her head bleeding and in pain, the rest of her body seeming to shut down, the rain making her freeze, and all Alaska wanted to do was crawl up and sleep, the tears starting to build up. "GO, GO, GO! GET OUT OF MY SIGHT NOW! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, JUST GO!"
Alaska couldn't have said when Darwin finally moved. Time began to pass in a blur as she lay on the abandoned, stormy street, sobbing uncontrollably. Sandy wrapped her arms around her, crying in her own way, but nothing would console Alaska. She had not cried for years, but nothing was holding her back now. Tears, rain and blood streamed down her battered face. Alaska felt weak, she felt helpless, and when she looked up and saw Darwin had gone, she only broke down further.
"It's okay, it's okay, it's going to be alright Alaska, you'll see," Sandy whispered to her in a cracked voice. "Everything is going to be fine!" Alaska wiped the blood from her nose and spat the rest from her mouth, trying to control the tears but failing, and wished one of her Pokemon knew Sunny Day so they could end this relentless weather. But Alaska knew that Sandy was wrong, and she forced her friend's arms away from her, wobbling back to her feet as a bleeding, crying mess.
"Nothing is ever going to be fine," Alaska hissed, shaking uncontrollably as she got back to her feet, the taste of vomit rising in her throat. "I have ruined everything… this journey, my Pokemon, you… myself… I can't turn back now… I'm stuck on this path, aren't I?"
"What? No! Of course not! You can always turn back Alaska, you can fix everything," Sandy said, smiling in her eternal optimism, but Alaska shook her head. "If you can't turn back, than what else can you do?"
"Run," Alaska replied, and she turned away. Her feet were moving before anyone else had realised, her mind being the last one to register it, and Alaska had passed two buildings before anyone called out for her.
"PIDGE!" Paige screamed, and Alaska heard her fly after, but she still didn't stop. She and Paige could simply run and fly away together, leave this journey in the past and find something new to do. They reached the end of the street and Alaska turned right, nearly running into a car and earning a sharp honk of the horn, but she simply kept running. She wanted to throw up, she felt weak, the tears and rain were making everything into a strange wet haze, but still Alaska kept running with Paige by her side.
If I run fast enough, I can leave this all behind, Alaska thought. This war, all these puzzles, the people trying to control me… they can stay and let the world burn around them, and Paige and I can keep on running… there's no turning back… I lost, I lost, I really, truly lost…
The follow up chapter will be coming soon! I am wondering if any of you saw that coming - let me know, I hope I am not too predictable :P I am not sure if I mentioned this already, but thanks to everyone who nominated Alaska in the last Writer's Awards! I really appreciate it :D