Hey everyone! This is a massively long one-shot that I've been working really hard on for a few months now. It takes place in the same universe as my main fic Unpredictable, and some characters spill over, but the stories aren't really connected. Even if you haven't read Unpredictable, you shouldn't have a problem understanding what's going on. The only real background you might need is this: a la the games, Team Rocket has taken over Saffron City. This is the story of some people living in occupied Saffron. This is essentially the whole story, but I might add some things later if I feel like it.
The last couple scenes were fairly rushed, so I didn't get a chance to proofread at all, but I wanted this to be eligible for the awards, so I thought I'd upload anyway. I'll probably proofread and edit later.EDIT: Done and done! I'm quite proud of this fic, so please let me know what you think. Any criticism here would be greatly appreciated.
Rated Teen for swearing and violence. Enjoy!
NOW WITH MORE AWARDS!
“Thank God for packing peanuts.”
With a grunt, Harry pulled himself over the edge of the dumpster. The trash had mostly cushioned his fall, but it wasn’t enough to walk away without injury. It felt like he had tweaked his shoulder somehow.
Rubbing his wound, Harry looked around for his Pokémon. A soft cry caught his attention, and he looked down the alleyway to see his Braviary hobbling towards him. The battered Pokémon’s normally magnificent feathers were ruffled, and it took each step tenderly.
“Easy now, boy,” Harry said, taking a Poké Ball from his pocket. “Let’s get you to the center.” He aimed the ball at his Pokémon and recalled it.
“Sorry I keep putting you through this,” Harry said to the capsule before returning it to his pocket and looking around for his hat, which had fallen off. “But we can’t give up hope…”
Finding his wide-brimmed fedora and slipping it on his head, the Unovan trainer limped to the end of the alleyway and looked out along the street. No Rockets could be seen, so he cautiously came out of the shadows and shuffled down the road as fast as he could, one eye always on the dull gray sky. Rockets down here he could deal with, but the ones up there… they were of another caliber.
The glorious Team Rocket elite “Skyguard” was all that stood between Harry and freedom. All that stood between Harry and home. All that stood between Harry and Sophie, plus or minus a few thousand miles.
Harry sighed. If only he didn’t hold the grand prize for worst luck in the world, maybe they would already be married, maybe her family wouldn’t mind so much, maybe these god damn terrorists would have chosen a different time to show up.
But it was no use dwelling on what could have been. They weren’t married, at least not yet. Her family did mind that he was so poor. They minded a lot. And Team Rocket had invaded Saffron City not two days after his arrival there.
No one was allowed in. No one was allowed out. And no one got out either. It infuriated Harry how effective Team Rocket was. Sure, there had been some resistance at first, but it was immediately quelled. Outrage at the injustice done upon them was replaced by fear in the hearts of the Kantoans. For months now, they all cowered.
When not planning his next escape attempt, Harry had taken to chasing groups of the terrorists out of the area. According to some people in the Pokémon Center, at least one other trainer had taken to his example and was doing the same. Some hope there at least…
Harry buried his hands in his jacket pockets and took a shortcut through another dark alleyway, when he heard a rustling in the garbage pile to his right. He paused, but decided it must be some Pokémon. Probably Kanto’s equivalent of a Trubbish. Slimer, or Mukaduk or whatever the hell it was called. If the documentaries he had seen were to be believed, it was literally a sentient pile of shit. Contagiant? No… Terdivore, maybe? He felt like he was a ways off.
Regardless of its name, Harry was not eager to linger too long around such a creature. He began to hurry down the alleyway, but stopped when the garbage pile made a distinctly un-pile-of-shit-like sound.
“Wha…? Whoozzat?” A very ragged figure poked its head out from a pile of newspapers. A pair of familiar brown eyes blinked blearily at Harry.
“Eddie?” Harry exclaimed. “Good lord, partner. What are you doing wallowing in trash?” Harry grabbed the man by his arm and hauled him to his feet. “I thought you were a Contaminaut or something.”
“A what?” Eddie looked at him quizzically with a strangely frightened look in his eyes.
“Never mind. What are you doing here? It’s dangerous out on the streets. Let’s get you home.”
But Eddie just shook his head and stammered, taking a few steps backwards. It was then that Harry noticed that the man’s eyes were puffy and red, his normally neat mousy hair was tangled and knotted, and his clothes were stained in what was unmistakably blood.
“Eddie! What the hell happened to you?” Harry grabbed him by the shoulders, as he looked like he was about to fall back into the trash heap.
“I… you… they… they must have seen me with you.” Eddie began to sob.
Harry’s eyes widened, his hands not leaving Eddie’s shoulders. “Tell me what happened!”
“Last night…” he continued. “They broke into my house. By surprise… they destroyed the place. I barely got away. They took them, Harry! They’ve got Stacy and Clara!”
He began to sob hysterically, his hands covering his face. Harry let go of the man and let him fall to his knees.
“I… I’m sorry.” Harry watched the pitiful scene with deep sympathy.
“There was nothing I could do!” Eddie cried. I-I fought back with Magmar, b-but they had a… they had a Skyguard with them. The one… the one they say is looking f-for you.”
Harry scratched his chin, pulling at his whiskers. So he was a wanted man…
“I-I don’t know what I’m going to do…” Eddie’s hands dropped from his face. He just stared at the ground between Harry’s feet.
Harry grabbed him under his shoulders and hauled him up. “I’ll tell you what you’re going to do. You’re going to come to the center with me, get some rest, and then we’ll see about fixing things up.” He gave the man an encouraging wink.
Eddie just heaved a resigned sigh and nodded once.
The streets were empty, as ever, the rest of the way to the Pokémon Center. Glad that there hadn’t been any trouble, Harry opened the glass door and beckoned Eddie inside.
It was big for a Pokémon Center, almost as big as the one in Castelia City. But it wasn’t big enough for the number of people packed into it. Refugee trainers sat and stood wall to wall, some slept, others talked, but most just stared into nothingness. Their entire world had been upended, and there was nothing they could do about it. Or so they thought.
For whatever reason, Team Rocket had left this building untouched. Perhaps they were afraid to attack such a large concentration of trainers, or maybe they used the medical facilities without anyone’s knowledge. Harry didn’t think it was either of those. Team Rocket was nothing if not cunning. Leaving the Pokémon Center standing gave the people of the city a glimmer of comfort and safety, just enough to not get desperate. Team Rocket wasn’t about to back this many headed beast into a corner where the only way out was a devastating battle. Whatever the Rockets were doing here, they needed the people to stay quiet. And their plan was working.
A few trainers Harry made eye contact with gave a nod of recognition, but he hadn’t been around long enough to know many. He looked around the building for a place to sit, as Eddie’s knees had begun to wobble again.
Though the center had clearly once been a beautiful, modern building, it was now a mess. The once shiny granite floor was now covered in dust, trash, blankets, and sleeping bags. The front wall of the center was made entirely of grimy glass, the view of the street obstructed by a handful of ragged fichus plants and a few steel pillars. The rest of the walls were made from dark oak panels. On the wall behind the U-shaped front desk was a gorgeous map of the Kanto and Johto regions that spanned from wall to wall, the topography painted in meticulous detail.
Only a handful of wooden tables occupied the atrium, as well as a few rows of couches that lined the walls, although those were mostly occupied by the recuperating injured. Harry made his way to the nearest table, where a woman was hunched over in one of the chairs, apparently asleep. The table’s only other occupant was a surly man twiddling his thumbs and glancing around with a look of distaste.
“Mind if we sit here?” Harry asked the thumb-twiddler.
He grunted noncommittally, so Harry pulled out a pair of chairs, lowered Eddie into one of them, and then pushed through the crowd to give Braviary to the nurse before returning and taking a seat.
As always, Harry was amazed at how quiet it was. Honestly, the shuffling of feet was louder than the few conversations that were being had. This place was a nest of fear and hopelessness.
Beside Harry, Eddie had his head in his hands. Harry felt bad for his friend, it was hard not to. With a heavy hearted sigh, he took off his hat and reached inside the headband, pulling out a small photograph.
Harry gazed sadly at the picture of his fiancé. He treasured the picture because it so perfectly captured her exactly how he saw her. It was taken on a beautiful day in a small park in Castelia. Sophie had her arms out, enjoying the sunshine. Her back was mostly to the camera, but she was looking over her shoulder and smiling sweetly into the lens, her bright green eyes twinkling in the sun.
So far away… but at least you’re safe. At least you’re not here.
That was better than Eddie could say. His wife and child were already in Team Rocket’s clutches. Who knew if they were even alive?
Having temporarily indulged his heartache, Harry made to tuck the picture back into the fedora’s headband, but before he folded it, he looked into his fiancé’s eyes.
“I’m coming home… I promise,” Harry whispered.
Putting his hat back on his head. Harry gazed around the room, deep in thought.
They had to, at the very least, find a way out of the city. Then they could bring help. Then he could at least call Sophie and tell her he was okay. But he had tried escaping three times now. Three times, he had been defeated by the Skyguard. Aerial combat while riding your Pokémon was widely regarded in the trainer community as practically impossible. Practically. The Skyguard were experts at it. Escaping through the skies was not an option, and the few city entrances were much too closely monitored. Then how?
Harry’s eyes came to rest on the map of Kanto and Johto. It was beautifully detailed, each city’s landmarks painted in their proper place. Olivine’s lighthouse, Ecruteak’s Bell Tower, even Professor Oak’s famous research lab in whatever little farm town that was located in. Connecting the two biggest cities of each region, Saffron and Goldenrod, was a straight silver line, the bullet train, which also had a stop at the Indigo Pokémon League Headquarters in the middle.
“That’s it!” Harry cried.
Several surrounding trainers looked towards their table at Harry’s outburst. Most were disgruntled, others curious. Harry glanced around at each of them in turn smiling widely, but none met his gaze. The surly man sitting at the table raised a cynical eyebrow before looking back down at his hands.
“Eddie!” Harry grabbed his friend’s shoulder.
Eddie sniffed and looked at him wearily. “What?”
“The magnet train!”
“What about it?”
“What happened to it when the Rockets invaded?” Harry asked insistently, but Eddie just shrugged.
Someone standing nearby spoke up. “Nothing, I don’t think.”
Harry turned to look at the speaker. He was a tattered looking trainer, wearing a torn up blue raincoat and jeans. His large backpack and the six Poké Balls attached snugly to his belt told Harry that he was probably on a journey, or at least had been.
“I was in the station when Team Rocket first attacked,” the trainer continued. “They didn’t destroy anything, though I hear they’ve got a few guards posted.”
“And the train?” Harry asked.
“It’s still there, I guess. In the station, I mean. Goldenrod can’t call it back since Team Rocket cut the power.”
Harry grinned. “Perfect.”
“Perfect for what?” Eddie asked. Several others standing around had taken interest in the conversation and looked on with mild interest.
“It’s like I’ve been saying. The Rockets have got us back on our heels. There’s no way we can kick them out now, it’s too late for that. They’ve dug in. It’s up to us to find a way out of this hell.” Harry looked around excitedly.
“On the magnet train?” the trainer in the blue raincoat said.
“It’s out only option. A train heist.” Harry felt like he was about to burst out laughing. It seemed so wild, and yet… so very possible.
The trainer looked at him for a minute, then rolled his eyes. “You’re crazy. They’d kill you before you even got near the generators. Better to wait for help from the outside than die on some wild escapade.”
“What?” Harry glared back, his smile now replaced with a scowl. With that one line, the trainer had turned all of Harry’s glee to rage.
“Crazy? Better to wait?” Harry shouted, getting to his feet. “Do you even hear yourself? You call yourself a trainer? An adventurer into the unknown? You should be ashamed. Where I’m from, trainers are proud symbols of independence! Of personal freedom!”
Many were now staring. “Look at you! All of you!” Harry waved his arms, gesturing around. “The trainers of Kanto’s finest city hiding like a bunch of Dwebble in your shells. Cowards all! Team Rocket is not an unstoppable force come to sweep you all aside, it’s a shadow of evil that’s happen to have fallen over this city. Yes, you can wait for the shadow to pass, but not before it consumes you.”
Harry paused for breath, the surrounding trainers watching him in awe. “I don’t know the Rockets’ plan. I don’t know what they want with Silph, but I do know that it doesn’t require us to live. They don’t care! They’ll slaughter us all before it’s through. But not if we fight back!”
He waited for some kind of response, but the Center was as quiet as ever. “For God’s sake…” Harry slumped back into his chair. “Someone has to fight back.”
“I agree,” said a soft voice.
Harry looked up, startled. The speaker was the woman who had been sleeping on the table. She had long brown hair and was wearing a green dress that was, like everyone’s clothes, dirty and tattered. She would have been quite pretty were it not for the bruises and splotches of dirt on her makeup-less face.
“I witnessed the brutality of Team Rocket on the first day of the invasion. We are nothing but playthings to them,” she continued. “My six year old son was visiting my sister in Pewter when Team Rocket first attacked. I refuse to let myself be killed before I can see him again. I’ve got a couple Pokémon that may be of use, I’ll come with you.”
Harry smiled at her. “That’s what I like to hear. Someone with spirit!”
“Me too,” said another voice.
A big man pushed his way through the crowd. He was definitely a trainer, a little over six feet tall, and had a shiny bald head. He was large, but built in such a way that it was hard to tell if his size was due to fat or muscle.
“I’ve been fighting the Rockets since day one,” the man said as he moved up and stood next to the table. “They’re an evil bunch of mother fuckers, and I’d love to do whatever I can to stick it to ‘em. Not like I’ve got anything to lose… and I’ve never stolen a train before.” He grinned a big toothy smile.
Harry nodded, his grin slowly widening once more. This was clearly the fellow who had been following his example and keeping the Rockets away from the Center.
Harry rubbed his hands together. “Alright, alright! Now this is more like it!” He turned to look at his friend. “Eddie?”
Eddie looked a little more alert, but uncertain.
“Well, what do you say? You coming with us, partner?” Harry urged.
“I… I can’t,” the grief-stricken man finally responded. “Stacy and Clara… dead or alive… they’re in this city. I can’t leave without them.”
Harry looked into Eddie’s eyes. He was nothing if not determined.
“Fair enough,” Harry replied. “Best of luck to you, then.”
“So where do we start?” the woman asked, looking at Harry expectantly.
Harry clenched and unclenched his hands excitedly. He was eager to get a move on, inspired by the fact that he had an actual plan, and on top of that, he wasn’t alone. But with Braviary being treated, some patience would be necessary.
Some time that night, Harry was awoken by a gruff shake. His eyes snapped open to see the big, bald trainer from earlier, who had introduced himself as Zachary Griffith.
“The nurse said your Braviary’s ready to go. Thought you’d like to know,” the man said.
Harry hopped off of the bench where he had been sleeping, careful not to tread on the man who was still napping underneath it, and thanked Zachary.
“I’ll just go fetch him, then we can get out of here!” Harry clapped his hands together loudly, causing several sleeping refugees to grunt in disapproval.
“We’re leaving already?” The woman who had pledged to join him walked over.
“Of course!” Harry replied. “The sooner the better. Can’t wait around until the Rockets find out something’s up.”
Zachary nodded, but the woman looked skeptical. “You have a plan, then?” she asked.
Harry smiled widely. “That I do. Wait for me outside, I’ll fill you in on the way.”
The two assented and left for the front doors, leaving Harry to pick his way through the crowd of refugee trainers, most sleeping, to get to the front desk.
Poké Ball retrieved, Harry turned to leave, but noticed Eddie still sitting at the same table. His head supported by his hands, the grief stricken man stared morosely off into space. Harry walked over to him.
Eddie looked up.
“We’re about to head out.”
Eddie nodded slowly, his eyes slightly glazed.
“Hey.” Harry put a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “There’s still hope. Don’t you give up just yet.”
That made the man smile slightly. “Thanks,” he finally said. “And good luck.”
Harry grinned. “You too.”
Outside the center, Harry found his newfound followers huddled under a streetlamp, the only light visible in either direction besides the silvery glow of the moon. Harry frowned at the dead buildings that lined the streets as he walked over to them. It was impossible to tell which of them were truly abandoned, which ones held families in hiding, and which ones held forgotten corpses. The thought was disturbing.
Zachary’s greeting snapped Harry from his reverie.
“So boss, what’s the plan?” He grinned.
“Well, it’s not so much a plan…” Harry began.
The woman let out a groan.
“Hold your Blitzles! Let me finish!” Harry looked at the woman. “I don’t think I’ve gotten your name yet, partner.”
“Elizabeth.” She looked up at Harry with fiery defiance in her eyes.
“Well Elizabeth, I may not have a plan but I do have an idea. I’ve always thought of myself as more of an informed improvisation guy anyway.”
“We’re not in the least bit informed.” Elizabeth was looking more skeptical by the minute.
“So we get informed!” Harry grinned, but it didn’t look like either of them understood what he was getting at. “When I first came here, I walked by a big building. It was sort of a combination town hall and library thing. Either of you know the place?”
Elizabeth nodded. “The Saffron City Council Archives.”
“What’s in there? I thought we were going to the train station,” Zachary said.
“I thought we might be able to find some blueprints or something of the train station. It would help us figure out a plan of attack,” Harry explained. “There’s not much reason to guard a library, but there will be plenty of reason to guard the train. We need to have a strategy, and a drawing of the station will be invaluable.”
Zachary nodded in understanding.
“Sounds reasonable,” said Elizabeth. “But I don’t think the Council Archives will be entirely unguarded.”
“Well that’s the fun part, isn’t it?” Harry laughed. “Now let’s get going. I want to be inside by the time the sun comes up. Without the cover of darkness, the Skyguard’ll be able to pick us off like Pecha Berries. Lead the way, partner. Zachary, watch our backs.”
“Gotcha.” Zachary nodded. “And call me Zach.”
“Zach?” Harry feigned indignation. “Your parents give you a wonderful polysyllabic name and you just cut it short…”
Zach looked a little confused. Harry just laughed and punched him playfully in the shoulder.
With that, the trio set out.
After some silent stalking through the shadowed streets, Harry quickened his pace to catch up with Elizabeth.
“So, partner. What’s your story? Where you from?”
“Saffron City, born and raised,” Elizabeth replied quietly. “I run… ran… a small flower shop in the Fountain Plaza.”
“You mentioned a son?”
She nodded slowly and smiled at Harry. “Little Henry.”
“Where’s the father?” Harry asked. He immediately regretted it.
The smile was torn from Elizabeth’s face. “I have no idea,” she responded after a moment.
Harry looked at her quizzically. “You don’t know?”
“He was travelling in Unova,” she said. “I was a couple months pregnant at the time. He never came back.”
“I-I’m sorry,” Harry stammered. This was a woman who was no stranger to suffering.
“The worst part is not knowing. Did he die in some accident in the wilderness? Or did he just leave us?” She stared down at the sidewalk.
Harry looked at her quietly. Not knowing… He felt a pang of empathy, and fear.
Absentminded, his pace slowed until Zach bumped into him.
“Sorry,” the big man said. “You alright?”
“Huh?” Harry looked up at him. “Uhh… yeah. I’m fine.” Steely faced, he continued walking, determined as ever.
After about an hour of walking through empty streets and dark alleyways, Elizabeth finally held up her hand, signaling for Harry and Zach to stop. She peeked around the corner of a building, then looked back at them. The two men stepped forward to hear her as she whispered.
“This is it. Doesn’t look like anyone’s outside, but some lights are on.”
“Do you think the door’s locked?” Harry asked.
“I don’t have x-ray vision.” Elizabeth glared.
“I was just asking!”
“Either way, we should try our best to catch them by surprise,” Zach butted in.
“Good point.” Harry nodded and reached into his pocket. “I have just the thing.”
With a snap and a flash of red, Harry’s Braviary appeared beside them. “You two get on either side of the door and prepare to rush in.,” Harry said. “Braviary’s not worth much indoors, but he’s got the strength to break down the door and handle himself in close quarters.”
The other two nodded and crept around the corner to their positions. Harry followed, but stayed on the far side of the street from the majestic building. It was made out of brick, with large ornamental marble columns up and down its walls. Two high wooden doors sat at the top of a set of cement steps where Elizabeth and Zach now crouched at the ready.
“Alright, Braviary. You ready to fight?” Harry asked his Pokémon.
It narrowed its eyes and spread its wings in preparation.
“Now, use Strength on the doors!”
With two flaps of its wings, Braviary charged forward, talons outstretched. With a loud screech, it effortlessly smashed through the wooden doors, tearing them from their hinges. Harry heard muffled shouts from inside as fighting began to break out.
Right after the doors were broken, Elizabeth and Zach rushed in behind Braviary, dropping Poké Balls of their own to join the fray.
Eager to not be left behind, Harry ran across the street and leapt up the steps in a single bound before bursting into the lit lobby.
There wasn’t much to see. Braviary stepped over a fallen Machop towards a black-clothed man wearing a hat with a red R emblazoned on it. Braviary’s majestic wings made maneuvering in the hallway where they fought awkward, but after toppling a potted plant, it reached the man. The Rocket tried to run, but with a buffet of its wing, Braviary slammed him against the wall, knocking him out.
Elizabeth and a Bellsprout were pursuing another fleeing man up a flight of stairs to the right, while on the left Zach battled a third Rocket.
As Harry watched, a brown bug-type that Harry seriously hoped belonged to Zach was crushing a Raticate in the massive gray pincers coming out of its head. Meanwhile, Zach himself was throwing punches at a lithe man who had no problem dodging them.
The Rocket ducked under yet another swing, then jumped backwards and drove his hands into his pockets. There was a metallic glint on his knuckles when he removed them.
“Well damn,” Harry whispered.
Harry moved towards the duel, careful to keep Zach’s bulk between himself and the Rocket so that he wouldn’t be seen. Once he was close enough, he dove around the big man and rolled behind the Rocket. Before the Rocket could react, Harry had him trapped in a full nelson.
Harry grunted as he tried to hold the Rocket in place. “Hit him, Z!”
Zach drove his fist into the Rocket’s face, making his head snap back into Harry’s. Lights flashed in Harry’s eyes and he stumbled backwards, almost losing his grip on the Rocket. Fortunately, the Rocket was as dazed as he was and didn’t try to escape.
Quickly regaining his senses, Harry released his hold on the Rocket, grabbed his arm, and threw him through a set of chairs stacked by the wall.
The Rocket staggered, but still wasn’t down, so Harry picked him up and dropped him with another punch.
Rubbing his sore forehead, Harry turned to Zach. “For future reference, when I’ve got a guy from behind, you’re supposed to sock him in the stomach.”
Harry bent down and inspected the Rocket’s hands. “Brass knuckles, that’s what I thought.” He removed the crude weapons and deposited them in his pocket. “These could come in handy.”
“By the way,” Zach said, “Z?”
“What was it you were saying about polysyllabic names?” Zach laughed.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures, partner,” Harry replied, reaching up and patting him on the shoulder. “Now let’s go see how Elizabeth’s doing.”
Before they even got to the stairs though, a miserable Rocket was heartily thrown down them by Elizabeth’s Bellsprout.
Zach sniffed. “Just fine, from the looks of it.”
Harry grinned and looked up at the woman standing above them. “Where’d you learn to do that?” he asked.
Elizabeth recalled her Bellsprout as she came down the stairs. “My father was raising me to be a competitive battler before I ran away from home.” She kicked the fallen Rocket, who let out a low groan.
“You’re quite the character, you know that?” Harry said.
“What should we do with these guys?” Zach picked up the Rocket they had double-teamed by the collar of his shirt and threw him on top of the one at the bottom of the stairs.
“Tie ‘em up, for starters,” Harry responded, as he recalled Braviary.
“How about this?” Elizabeth pointed to a glass box mounted on the wall as she pulled out another Poké Ball. “Electrode, use Thunder Wave.”
Red lettering on the glass said “FIRE VALVE – ALARM WILL SOUND IF OPENED”. Inside the box was a wound up fire hose.
A ball shaped Pokémon that looked like an inverted Poké Ball with a face appeared and let loose a small jolt of blue lightning at the box. The electric attack fried the alarm trigger and the door popped open.
With some cooperation, Harry and Elizabeth managed to cut off a long segment of fire hose and tie the three semi-conscious Rockets together. Meanwhile, Zach tried his best to fit the big wooden doors back into their frames to avoid suspicion.
“You know, I think this is a felony,” Harry said, examining their makeshift bindings.
“Something tells me the Saffron PD won’t mind,” Zach replied with a grunt as he gave up on putting the doors back properly in favor of just leaning them against the frame.
“Well if we’re all settled in, I’ll go look around the archive for some kind of blueprint of the train station,” Elizabeth said. “No offense, but you two don’t seem like the kind of people who would know their way around a library.”
Harry shrugged. “Fair enough.”
“Try to find a good place to put these assholes before they wake up.” Elizabeth gave another kick to one of the trussed up Rockets. He didn’t respond, seemingly having passed out.
“Will do, yell if you need help.”
Elizabeth nodded and headed back up the stairs after recalling her Electrode.
Snapping some Poké Balls off of the belts of the Rockets, Harry returned all of their fainted Pokémon and shoved the balls in a drawer of the reception desk in the corner of the room. He then turned to Zach, “Alright, I think I saw a supply closet down the hall. That should be good.”
“Pinsir, stay here and watch the entrance,” Zach said.
The brown bug-type snapped its pincers together in ascent and jumped up on the desk, eyes on the shoddily replaced doors.
With that, the two men each grabbed ahold of the fire hose around the Rockets with one hand and began dragging them down the hall.
“So,” Zach laughed, “when did Elizabeth become the leader?”
Harry punched him in the arm with his free hand, then shrugged and laughed. “Hey, I never said I was in charge in the first place. Here.” They had reached a door that said “UTILITY” in big letters.
Harry opened it and the two dragged the Rockets in among a collection of mops, brooms, and buckets of cleaning fluid.
“That’ll do,” Harry said as he shut the door.
“What happens when they wake up?” Zach asked.
“They’re tied up in a small room with no light, what are they going to do, shout their way out?”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
“What else could we do?” Harry asked.
They went back to the lobby and sat in silence for a while, waiting for Elizabeth’s return.
“Hey Harry?” Zach said after a minute.
“You ever killed someone?”
Harry paused. The other man’s mind was clearly following the same thought process as his. “Once.”
Zach looked over at him, expecting him to continue.
“It was while I was travelling back in Unova. It was a stormy night, and I was trying to hike the last few miles in to Mistralton City to avoid having to spend the night in the rain.” Harry swallowed, the memories all coming back in a flood.
“A guy came up to me on the road. He grabbed me strongly by the arm as I passed. I tore free from his grip and backed away in confusion, but he took a step forward. Over the sound of the storm, he shouted at me to hand over all of my belongings, my food, my Pokémon, everything.
“I was a journeying trainer, all of my worldly possessions were on my back, no way in hell I was giving them up. So I refused. He pulled out a knife and asked again. I reached for my knife, but quickly remembered I’d shoved it into my pack so that it wouldn’t get wet and rust.
“So I steeled myself and refused once more, adding in a few choice words about my opinion of him. Needless to say, he didn’t like that.” Harry stopped.
“Then what?” Zach asked.
“Then my instincts took hold. Next thing I knew, we were fighting. He had me on the ground, knife to my throat one second, and in the next, I pulled a reversal. Before I knew it, I was bashing his head against a rock protruding out of the trail. If that didn’t kill him, then leaving his unconscious body out in the cold storm all night did. I ran the rest of the way to Mistralton.”
Harry sighed. “It wasn’t a pleasant experience. The fact that I stole someone’s life from them weighs on my mind to this day. I wouldn’t do it again, given the choice.”
“What if they deserved it?” Zach asked.
Harry crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair, staring at the big man intently. He didn’t respond.
“Like the Rockets. They’re straight up evil. They’d kill you if they had the chance,” Zach said.
“Some would, sure,” Harry responded. “But would those three?” He jerked a thumb down the hall towards their makeshift prison.
“They chose this,” Zach said.
“But under what circumstances?” Harry replied sternly. “How do you know they weren’t threatened into signing on with Team Rocket? How do you know their families aren’t being held hostage? How do you know they aren’t working off some ridiculous debt they accrued? How do you know they’re as evil as the organization they’re working for? Who are you to determine their crimes?”
And how do you know, Harry added silently, that they don’t have a Sophie of their own waiting at home?
Zach looked contemplative, though unconvinced, and stared at the floor.
That’s when Elizabeth strode down the stairs, a roll of papers under her arm. She walked over to the desk and spread them out. The three of them gathered around.
“The guy at the center said something about generators,” Harry said. “We’d have to turn those on before the train goes anywhere.”
“Here, basement floor.” Elizabeth pointed at a room on the building plans marked “Generator room.”
“It looks like there’s a fire exit that leads right in,” said Zach. “Assuming we could get through it.”
“Electrode can open it,” Elizabeth said.
“So then we just wander around and look for a way to turn them on?” Zach asked.
“Let me see if these say anything about a console.” Elizabeth began shuffling through some of the other charts.
“One way or another, it looks like there are catwalks around the generator room for the next few floors up. It won’t be easy to fight our way from the bottom up.” Harry stroked his bristles thoughtfully.
“Assuming the catwalks are metal, Electrode could zap anyone above us no problem,” Elizabeth said, brow furrowed at another piece of paper.
“We’d need to be careful not to fry the generators though,” Zach pointed out.
“I say we just make it up as we go along,” Harry said.
“You know,” Elizabeth said with a sigh, “part of me thinks that would be best.”
The three of them looked at each other and laughed.
Harry, Zach, and Elizabeth slept for most of the next day, taking turns guarding their prisoners and keeping watch.
After the Rockets they had captured woke up, one of them had been quite vocal. He had kept up a nearly unending stream of insults for a majority of the day, a feat that Harry actually found quite impressive.
Neither of the other two Rockets said much. One seemed scared witless, and the other somewhat bored.
Despite his gung-ho attitude, Harry was nervous about the events of the next night. The little sleep that he got was fitful and he woke up feeling more tired than he had been before.
They had decided early on to attack in the dark, in hopes of avoiding interception, so as the sun began to set the three freedom fighters prepared themselves to head out.
Harry opened the door of their makeshift prison one last time. He was met with the expected greeting.
“You piece of shit! When we get ou-“
“When you get out of here, we’ll be long gone,” interrupted Harry. “For your sake, I hope someone else shows up before long. I imagine this place isn’t terribly comfortable.”
“Are you going to kill us?” the scared one asked quietly.
Harry laughed. “You’re forgetting. We’re the good guys, we play nice.”
“You’re bastards, that’s what you are!” screamed the angry one, struggling in his bonds.
“Let it go, Lex. You’re wasting your breath.” The calm and somewhat bored one looked up at the ceiling. “They won’t get far once the Skyguard get involved, and something tells me they will.”
Harry crossed his arms and glared at him. “What do you know?”
“I know that the Skyguard are very, very good at putting people in their place.”
“Well let’s hope that it’s not a Skyguard that finds you here then.” Harry slammed the door and walked back to the lobby.
Elizabeth and Zach looked to him when he entered the lobby.
“You two ready?” Harry asked.
“Then let’s go break some heads.”
The night was as dark, cold, and quiet as always. No change in the atmosphere preluded the events of this night. Despite the stillness, Harry knew that tonight was when everything would change, one way or another.
The streets were empty, but they took no chances regarding stealth, and so progress was slow.
Harry sighed, more worried than ever.
“Don’t worry,” whispered Zach from behind him. “You’ll see her again.”
Harry turned around and looked quizzically at Zach.
“What?” the big man grinned. “You spent all of today looking longingly at a photograph that you keep in your hat. I’m not stupid.”
“Shut up you two!” hissed Elizabeth. “I hear something.”
They immediately ducked into an alleyway and waited. Sure enough, footsteps were audible, but not from the street ahead.
At the same moment, the three of them spun around and reached for their Poké Balls, but then the shadowed figure walking down the alley spoke.
“Finally! I’ve been looking everywhere for you.”
“Eddie?” Harry stepped forward.
The man stepped forward into a patch of moonlight, revealing that it was indeed Harry’s haggard friend.
“What the hell are you doing out here, partner? If the Rockets knew you escaped their raid, they’ll be looking for you.”
Eddie nodded, and then stared at the ground. “I… I changed my mind. Coming with you would be the most… productive, I guess.”
“Really? Alright, well good to have you aboard then. Eddie, this is Elizabeth and Zach.”
They exchanged brief greetings before continuing down the road while Harry filled Eddie in on everything that had happened so far.
Eddie had a distracted air about him. Harry didn’t blame him, as he was probably still reeling from everything that was going on. Harry guessed that his confusion was the reason he had changed his mind about coming with them.
Zach and Elizabeth seemed calmly accepting of Eddie, probably because Harry had told them his story earlier that day. Each of the four of them had their own motivations, even different goals, but they were united by the horror before them.
The moon never got very high in the sky, as it wasn’t even springtime yet, but there was plenty of light to see the train station when it loomed ahead of them. It wasn’t that big of a building by Harry’s standards, only five or six stories high. Most of its bulk was made up by the huge glass atrium that housed the rails.
The moonlight that managed to shine through the clouds glistened spectacularly on the windows, but Harry’s attention was elsewhere. Just across the street from where they now stood was a windowless red brick building, attached to the atrium but largely unremarkable.
“This way,” beckoned Elizabeth.
They followed her across the street and just around the corner of the building.
“There we go,” said Zach, pointing at a set of stairs leading down from the sidewalk to the brick building’s basement.
“So you’re sure we can get through to the train itself from the generator room, right?” Harry asked Elizabeth as she pulled a Poké Ball from her pocket.
“We spent over four hours poring over the blueprints last night. I think I know what I’m doing,” she fired back.
Harry laughed. “Just double checking,” he said indignantly.
With a click and a flash, Elizabeth’s Electrode appeared at the bottom of the stairs. It’s Thunder Wave lit up the handle-less door for a brief moment. Harry listened carefully for any sign of an alarm being set off, but heard nothing.
After Elizabeth recalled Electrode, they all followed Zach down the stairs. He dug his fingernails underneath the metal plate blocking the door’s latch, and pulled. It took a couple tries, but eventually he got a good grip and easily opened the door.
“I’ll take point,” Harry said. He edged to the front of the group and cautiously walked inside, his hands in his jacket pockets, where they gripped the brass knuckles that he had stolen from the Rocket at the Archives. They were crude weapons, but Harry had witnessed their effectiveness in the past.
It took Harry’s eyes a moment to adjust to the darkness, as the only lighting was the eerie green glow of an exit sign. He was in a short hallway that appeared to open out into a bigger room. He tiptoed forward to the end of the hall and looked around.
This was the generator room alright. The giant cylindrical device lay lengthwise in the middle of the room, surrounded by computer terminals. A single red light blinked slowly on and off below a blank computer screen. Above the walls were lined with sets of catwalks and stairs that lead up several floors, presumably to the level of the train. The ceiling had a large skylight that let a trickle of moonlight through.
Harry beckoned for the others to follow him.
As they filed into the room, Harry and Zach scanned the catwalks above for movement while Elizabeth and Eddie investigated the computers. The path up seemed still and empty, but it was hard to tell in the darkness.
“Shout the second you see movement,” Harry whispered to Zach, then joined Elizabeth by the generator. Eddie wandered aimlessly over to the wall.
“Find what you’re looking for?” Harry asked Elizabeth.
“It should just be a simple power switch, probably clearly marked, but it’s hard to see.” Elizabeth squinted at the panel. “One way or another, the second this thing turns on, any guards will know we’re here.”
“If you and the other two are as jumpy as I am, a quick run should be no problem,” Harry replied. He then turned to look at Eddie, who was walking back toward them with something in his arms.
Harry stepped towards him. “What’ve you got there, Eddie?”
It was a fire extinguisher.
“Eddie?” Harry looked closely at his friend. Even in the dim light, he saw the unmistakable glistening of tears. “What’s wrong, partner?”
Eddie looked at him for a moment. “I’m sorry.”
At that moment, Zach and Elizabeth simultaneously shouted “They’re here!” and “Found it!” respectively. The next thing Harry knew, giant floodlights hanging above had switched on, nearly blinding him.
Harry heard shouts and felt Eddie rush past him. The characteristic snapping of Poké Balls was followed by a series of loud metallic bangs. In the midst of the rush of noise was the hum of the generator slowly growing louder. He blinked his eyes rapidly, trying desperately to get them adjusted to the light.
As soon as they were, a scene of chaos greeted him. Zach flattened a short Team Rocket grunt with a single punch while his Pinsir held off three Zubat.
Two more grunts were rushing down a set of stairs toward Zach, while one was fighting off Elizabeth’s Electrode with his Sandshrew. It sounded like more were above.
Harry silently congratulated himself for recognizing two Kanto-native Pokémon.
It was Eddie’s actions that frightened him the most. He was methodically bludgeoning the generator’s computer terminal with the fire extinguisher in a clear attempt to destroy it.
“No…” Harry’s mouth fell open.
Elizabeth rushed around the terminal to stop him, but it was too late. With one last BANG, the bent metal gave way and wires tore loose. There was a flash and crackle of electricity that sent Eddie flying backwards. The generator gave out a high pitched whine and slowed to a halt.
A wad of toxic sludge that came flying towards Harry made him dive for cover behind the now trashed computer terminal.
Elizabeth slid around the corner and kneeled next to him. She observed the hole Eddie had made with her cynical stare.
“He said he was sorry…” Harry said, staring in shock at Eddie, who was slowly getting up from where he was laying against the wall.
“You know, that really doesn’t change our situation,” Elizabeth snapped.
Harry swore. “Damn damn damn! I should have known. His family are hostages. Hostages!”
“Well, cussing about it isn’t going to help.”
“You think you could fix this?” Harry gestured to the torn metal and stray wires.
Just then a Machop came around the corner and cried out, raising its arms in the air like it was about to rush them. Harry quickly pulled out Braviary’s Poké Ball and pelted the little fighting-type in the face with it. The Machop reeled and, when Braviary burst forth and tackled it, fell backwards in shock.
“You’re the smart one, near as I can tell,” Harry continued, as if nothing had happened.
Elizabeth rolled her eyes and sighed. “Okay. Maybe. This terminal was just used for monitoring. The only reason the generator stopped was a failsafe. I could try to bypass it.”
Elizabeth looked wryly over to where Eddie was staggering to his feet, smoking slightly. “Or I could get electrocuted in the process.”
“Hope for the best.”
Elizabeth glared at him, but pulled out a Poké Ball. “Bellsprout, help me out.”
Harry patted her on the arm and jumped up, ready to join the fray.
Immediately a hand grabbed him by his collar and spun him around. All he saw was a man his height in a dark grey uniform before stars filled his eyes and pain seared through his face.
Harry staggered and nearly fell to the floor. He spat out some blood before looking back at the man, this time in a defensive posture.
His opponent grinned, a lopsided expression that made him seem insane. “I’ve been waiting a long time for this,” he said.
Harry looked him up and down. This must have been the Rocket who had grown obsessed with looking for him ever since Harry had gained infamy from fighting back. His uniform, a more ashen version of the usual Team Rocket garb, clearly marked him as one of the elite: a Skyguard.
Harry didn’t even have time to pull out his brass knuckles before a barrage of punches came his way. The ferocity surprised him. He had done some boxing back in Unova, and had rarely seen a man so well trained. Harry managed to block and dodge most of the punches, but gave up a lot of ground in the process.
“You’re not going anywhere,” the Skyguard growled.
The thought of never leaving Saffron and never seeing Sophie again sent a pang of fear through Harry. He took another step backward, but he couldn’t keep running forever. To avoid getting backed into a wall, Harry suddenly rushed forward. The Skyguard was ready, though, and executed a perfect throw that left Harry sprawled on the ground. Harry struggled to get up as the Skyguard approached, slowly drawing a knife from a sheath on his belt.
But right before the Skyguard reached Harry, a flurry of wings and talons collided with him.
Harry jumped to his feet. “Braviary! Perfect timing, as always.”
The Skyguard shouted and fell back, his knife flying from his hand. Harry jumped on it when it clattered to the laminated cement floor. It was a fine blade, sharp on both sides, with no serrations and a black hilt. This was definitely no survival knife. He tucked it into his belt for safekeeping.
Harry took advantage of the brief respite to look around the room. After pair of vines wrapped up a Rocket and flung him over the generator, Elizabeth jumped up and gave Harry a thumbs up.
“It’s on!” she shouted. And indeed, the generator seemed to be starting back up again.
“Then it’s time to run!” Harry shouted back.
Fortunately, Zach seemed to be a bit ahead of them. He and his Pinsir had begun fighting their way up the stairs, already on the second level of the catwalks. At least two Rockets lay unmoving on the floor. Eddie was nowhere to be seen.
“Braviary, let’s go!” Harry shouted, wheeling around looking for his Pokémon.
The Skyguard had apparently managed to get a Poké Ball free, because a fearsome brown bird Pokémon with a long beak had intervened and was now fighting Braviary. The Mohawk-like pink protrusion on its head told Harry that it must be a Fearow, a normal and flying-type often used by the Skyguard.
But upon hearing Harry’s cry, Braviary tore itself away from the fight.
“No, stop him!” shouted the Skyguard.
Braviary flew above Harry and extended a scaly foot for him to grab on to. He gripped it tightly, and with a few flaps, Braviary had them in the air.
“Fourth floor!” Harry shouted at Braviary. “That’s where the train platform is!”
Harry’s stomach lurched with every beat of Braviary’s mighty wings. He never much liked flying, especially in a manner of this kind of questionable safety. The floor was quickly far below.
As they passed the third floor. A pair of thick green vines shot past and wrapped themselves around the fourth floor railing. Down below, Elizabeth held on tight to her Bellsprout as it attempted to reel them up.
When they reached the fourth floor, Braviary flung Harry over the railing and onto the balcony. He scrambled to his feet and looked over the railing at the battle below. It appeared he had been too quick to ascend.
Zach, now battling his way up the stairs to the third floor, looked like he was in dire straits. Every punch he threw seemed weaker than the last and his Pinsir was barely keeping up with him. Almost twenty Rockets that had been hiding in neighboring rooms were pouring down the stairs.
Before he could act, though, a shout from below caught his attention.
The Skyguard had collected himself. He had mounted his Fearow and they were quickly gaining on Harry. But before they got far, Fearow reached out a long talon and sliced the vines that Elizabeth and her Bellsprout were using to climb up. Caught by surprise, they fell nearly two stories back to the ground.
Harry watched in shock. Zach was quickly being overwhelmed, Elizabeth lay unmoving on the cement floor as a pair of Rockets descended upon her, and Eddie had betrayed them.
With a deafening screech, the Skyguard and his Fearow reached the fourth floor. Harry leaped backwards just in time to dodge the deadly peck that came his way. Braviary leaped off of its perch on the railing and tackled the Fearow, but this was not a fight they could win.
It was too late. They were outnumbered and outgunned. Harry raised his Poké Ball and recalled Braviary before diving through the door immediately behind him. He looked around for something to block the door and found a filing cabinet that fit the bill perfectly. He heaved it in front of the door, wedging it underneath the handle.
There was a crash as the Fearow attempted to push its way through the steel door and Harry’s barricade, but he was safe for now.
There was another crash and the heavy filing cabinet moved slightly. It wouldn’t last for long. Harry immediately turned to run. He was in some kind of office, but there was a door on the other side of the room. He raced through it and emerged, finally, on a small balcony overlooking the train platform.
Harry dashed down some stairs to his left and out next to the train. It was hundreds of feet long, with five or six cars, painted silver with a red stripe along the side. On each end was a pointed car that Harry assumed housed some kind of controls. With the generator on, the doors were open and lights illuminated the interior. The train hummed with electricity.
Harry walked over to the window of the end car closest to him and peeked inside. There was a blue chair in front of two computer screens. A red button next to the computers was labeled “Emergency Stop”. Below it was a lever marked “Throttle”.
There it was. The way out stood right in front of him, just a quick dash away. He would be off before anyone could stop him. He would go straight to the Indigo League and everything would be over. He could be phoning Sophie within a few hours.
But behind him were three newfound friends in the clutches of Team Rocket. Harry honestly doubted they’d treat Eddie very kindly, even after what they made him do. Harry didn’t know exactly what threats they had made against Eddie’s family, but it was impossible to say if they would spare him now that he had done his duty.
As for Elizabeth and Zach? They too were as good as dead if Harry left now.
Harry swore loudly and beat a fist on the glass of the train’s window. He screwed his eyes shut, but tears began to trickle down his face anyway.
There was a loud crash from the direction of the offices he had entered through. Harry ignored it. He began stepping backwards, away from the train.
“I’m sorry, Sophie…” he whispered. “I’m so sorry.”
The Skyguard rushed onto the balcony overlooking the train platform just in time to see Harry, astride Braviary, smashing through the glass wall of the atrium and disappearing into the night.
A grunt ran up behind him. “Damn, he got away.”
The Skyguard clenched a fist and glared at the jagged hole in the glass where Harry had escaped. “It doesn’t matter; I’ll find him again eventually. When I do, he's going to pay.”
Harry groaned and shifted on the uncomfortable asphalt where he sat. Braviary looked at him expectantly from where it stood across the dark alleyway. They had been hiding here for hours. Harry had managed some broken sleep, but now that the sun was coming up, he was beginning to realize the peril of his situation.
If he was going to act, it needed to be soon. It wasn’t even certain that his friends were still alive, and their chance of survival was dwindling by the minute. But Harry had no idea what to do. He had no plan of attack, no strategy, and nothing to give him a step up over Team Rocket.
Was this the kind of hopelessness that Eddie felt? Harry wondered. He never would have betrayed them of his own volition, Harry knew that for sure. Despite the fact that Eddie had been the one to ruin everything, Harry couldn’t help but feel sorry for him.
Looking back, it all seemed so obvious. The silent and surly man in the Pokémon center was almost certainly the operative that had caught on to their little campaign. It only made sense that Team Rocket would plant spies, and Harry should have been more careful. With Eddie in the state he had been in, it wouldn’t have taken much to get him to tell Team Rocket everything he knew and promise to sabotage the mission.
Had he been in the same situation, with Sophie being held hostage, Harry honestly wasn’t sure what he would have done. Would he have denied the Rockets? Or would he have acquiesced?
With Sophie on the line, Harry thought he knew the answer. Eddie was not evil. He wasn’t even misguided. He was just afraid, worried, confused, and incredibly unlucky. Just like Harry.
Harry began to understand the predicament of the citizens of Saffron. They had few choices, and none of them were pleasant. Paralyzed by fear indeed. Sometimes doing nothing was the safest option for everyone.
Nothing was stopping Harry from fleeing back to the Pokémon Center and waiting with all of the other refugees for Kanto’s ridiculous government to authorize some kind of action.
But what about all those things Harry had said about freedom? About acting? About refusing to sit down and take it? Where was all that rhetoric now?
Harry closed his eyes and thought of home. He thought of the towering buildings of Castelia City, and walking down its streets hand in hand with Sophie.
That was what the people of Saffron had taken away from them. There were no homes to be found under the shadow of Team Rocket, only places to hide briefly from your terror. Would he just let that be?
No. His speech in the Pokémon Center had not just been rhetoric. He had been speaking the truth, straight from his heart. It was the duty of Pokémon trainers to stand up for freedom, to persist in the face of opposition, and to battle until they could battle no more.
Harry stood open and opened his eyes. “I’ve still got some battle in me.”
Braviary cocked its head at him.
Harry grinned. “Let’s give this another shot.”
Ironically, the room where Team Rocket was keeping Zach, Elizabeth, and Eddie was larger and better lit than the small closet back at the Archives where they had left the three guards. Other than the small lamp hanging from the ceiling though, it was devoid of furniture and windows.
Zach paced back and forth by the back wall, his hands balled into fists. He occasionally casted angry glares at Eddie, who was balled up in the corner of the room, sitting on the floor and looking at his hands. When the Rockets had first thrown them in here, they had ignored Eddie’s insistent questions about his family.
Zach felt no pity. The second they were left alone, he had punched Eddie in the face. He was now developing quite a nice black eye.
“There’s no use being so antsy. You’ll need your energy if we’re ever going to escape.”
Zach looked over at Elizabeth, who was leaned casually against the wall.
“Oh yeah,” he said. “And when is that going to happen?”
Elizabeth broke his gaze. “Whenever Harry shows up.”
“It’s been hours, Beth. Harry’s not coming back. If he had any brains, he would have left on the train when he got the chance.”
Elizabeth didn’t respond. She was clearly more worried and afraid than she was letting on.
“He’ll come back.”
Zach whipped around and glared at Eddie, who was still looking down. “And how do you know that?”
“I know him. He’ll come back,” Eddie croaked again.
“And I bet he thought he knew you too, you piece of shit traitor,” Zach shouted. “Harry’s gone! He got on the train to the Indigo League, it’s what I would have done.”
“And what makes you think Harry would make the same decisions as you?” Elizabeth asked quietly.
“Just shut up!” Zach shouted at her.
“I’m sorry,” Elizabeth snapped, “I don’t want to disturb your planning of what I’m sure will be an elegant escape.”
“WE AREN’T GOING TO ESCAPE!” Zach screamed, his face contorted with rage. “THERE’S NOTHING WE CAN DO! You think you’re so fucking smart. Why the hell can’t you see that Harry’s gone?”
“Because I believe in the best in people,” Elizabeth said softly.
Nobody said anything for the next several hours. No sound was made besides Zach’s footsteps and the occasional sigh from Eddie.
Harry squeezed his eyes shut as he held on tightly to the thrashing Rocket, one hand over the grunt’s mouth. Finally, the Rocket grew still and Harry opened his eyes, slowly letting the Rocket to the floor.
Harry’s clothes were covered in blood, as was the knife that he had stolen from the Skyguard. That was the third Rocket he’d had to kill on the way in, but there was no other option.
Harry had managed to cut the power before entering. Even though it was mid-afternoon, the lack of electricity made it difficult to see much in the station. He had snuck in and turned on the generator. Without power it was useless, but as soon as the Rockets got the lights back on, it would start up. Hopefully he could find the others by then and be nearly on the train.
Harry had no doubt the Rockets knew he was here, but they were scrambled and low on manpower after the previous attack had injured so many of them.
Now he was on the third level of the catwalks around the generator room. He had been checking each door he passed in an effort to find wherever they were keeping the others, but no luck yet beyond managing to locate their Poké Balls on the belt of the first Rocket he had killed. However, judging from the fact that two Rockets had been guarding this door, he may have found it. The door was locked, but a quick search in the pockets of one of the guards turned up a key. Harry inserted it and opened the door.
Harry’s face split into a wide grin when he saw his three friends inside.
Leaning against a wall, Elizabeth smiled and then looked at Zach, who stood dumbfounded in the middle of the room. “Told you,” she said.
Harry rushed inside. “Told you what? If you guys formed a betting pool over how long it would take me to show up, I want a cut of the profits.”
Zach and Elizabeth laughed. Eddie stood up slowly, unsure.
“You guys okay?” Harry asked.
“Uhh, yeah. Wow, it’s good to see you.” Zach smiled his big toothy smile.
Elizabeth limped forward. “I knew it was you as soon as the lights went out. I goofed up my leg when I fell, so I can’t walk too well.”
“That’s it?” Harry asked. “You fell two stories!”
“I also had a concussion, but I’m fine now,” she said.
“Damn, you’re practically invincible.” Harry tossed each of them their respective Poké Balls. “Here, I found these.”
Zach and Elizabeth immediately released Pinsir and Electrode.
“You two should go outside and make sure we’re still clear. There are a lot of Rockets around,” Harry suggested. They did as he said.
Harry looked at Eddie, who was holding his Poké Ball and looking at Harry. It was hard to tell what his face looked like in the dim lighting.
“Eddie,” Harry said. “I want you to know that I understand what happened. I don’t blame you.”
Eddie looked at him a moment before responding. “I don’t deserve to be rescued. You should just leave me here.”
“Don’t give me that,” Harry said. “You did what you did for your family. I’m not about to let that go to waste.”
Harry turned and left the room. After a moment, Eddie followed.
Outside on the catwalk, Harry turned to Elizabeth. “Since we can’t move quickly, we need to get going right away. I’ve started up the generator, so the second the power comes back on, we’re back in business. Hopefully we’ll make it to the train by-“
The lights switched on.
“There they are!” came a voice from just above them and across the room. A single Rocket that had been invisible in the shadows moments before was pointing at them and shouting.
“Shit,” Harry said. “Run!”
“Fearow!” a booming voice shouted from below. “Hyper Beam!”
There was a searing white light, and all sound seemed to be sucked from the room. Harry instinctually shut his eyes and dove out of the way of the beam of deadly energy that came up from below them.
There was an explosion that rocked the catwalks. Sound slowly began to return to Harry’s ears in the form of screeching metal as the platform began to fall apart. Harry scrambled to more stable ground.
When all was said and done, the Hyper Beam had destroyed an entire section of the catwalk. Harry found Eddie still next to him, but a thirty foot gap now separated them from Elizabeth and Zach.
“Go!” Harry shouted at them. “We’ll go around.”
They nodded and ran off, even as dozens of Rockets began to spill into the room around them.
Harry looked around. They were in the corner of the room and it looked like he and Eddie had the longer route. They only had to go up one floor, but the stairs were on the other side of the gap and would require circling the room to get to them.
A Rocket burst out of a door in the wall several yards away, prompting Eddie to throw his Poké Ball to the ground. From it burst a short, fiery, humanoid Pokémon with a bill like a Ducklett.
The Magmar released a blast of fire that caught the Rocket full in the chest. He screamed in pain as his clothes ignited, and toppled over the railing.
They ran forward, but out of the same door came a second Rocket. Eddie had already passed it, but the Rocket tackled Harry into the railing.
Harry recovered quickly and managed to pull his brass knuckles out of his pockets. A third Rocket came out of the room as Harry broke the ribs of the second one with a single punch.
Harry swore in pain. Regular punches hurt his knuckles, but these things would leave some serious bruises. He kicked his foe back into the third Rocket, and they both stumbled.
The screech of a Fearow announced the arrival of the Skyguard. Harry immediately dropped his Poké Ball and released Braviary.
“Go, Braviary! Don’t let him get close!” Harry shouted.
Braviary dove out into the open middle of the room where the Skyguard and his Fearow were ascending.
Harry was kept busy with his own two opponents, but kept one eye on the Skyguard.
The Fearow dodged Braviary’s first attack with a brilliant rolling maneuver that managed to put it between Braviary and Harry. Fortunately, a blast of fire from Eddie’s Magmar stopped the Skyguard from attacking Harry.
When the obscuring flames disappeared, Harry saw the Skyguard diving off of his Fearow. He caught onto the railing and pulled himself over. Fearow engaged Braviary, so the only thing between the Skyguard and Harry was Eddie and his Magmar.
Harry quickly finished his fight with a few well-placed punches and turned to rush to Eddie’s aid.
What the Skyguard did next was absolutely insane, even to Harry’s sensibilities. He charged forward at Magmar even as Eddie ordered a Flamethrower.
Magmar’s eyes widened and ceased its attack in surprise as the Skyguard grabbed it around the throat. It increased its body heat by hundreds of degrees in a natural defense mechanism.
The Skyguard screamed with pain, but held on tightly. With a shout, he heaved Magmar over the edge.
“No! Magmar!” Eddie cried.
Magmar gave an odd squeal as it fell through the air. Harry watched in horror. It fell three stories before crashing into the generator below.
Harry had seen a fire-type die before, and in a situation such as this, things would not be pretty.
“Eddie, take cover!” Harry shouted. “Braviary, on me!”
Braviary tore itself away from Fearow and flew towards him. As it swung by the catwalk, Harry jumped over the railing and onto its back.
“Hey moron!” Harry shouted at the Skyguard, silently cursing the fact that he couldn’t think of a better insult. “Follow me!”
He leaned low over Braviary. “Go up and use Strength to break through the skylight above. We’re about to get a bit of a speed boost.”
Harry just barely had the chance to see the Skyguard jump onto his Fearow to give chase before Magmar’s natural resistance to its own internal fire gave way.
The fireball ignited the generator and resulted in an explosion that sent Braviary rocketing straight upwards. Harry held on tightly. “Wooooohoooooo!”
They smashed through the glass of the skylight and into the open air, a plume of smoke and heat following them. Harry dove off of Braviary onto the concrete roof of the building. The sun had not quite set yet, but the smoke was making it dark anyway.
Braviary swung around and landed next to him. Its tail feathers were a little singed but it seemed mostly okay.
“You did good, Braviary,” Harry said.
Braviary gave a soft cry of thanks.
Judging by the way the generator was housed, the explosion would have mostly been straight up, so Harry was pretty sure Eddie, Elizabeth, and Zach should be okay. The Skyguard, though?
A screech of pain broke through the rushing sound of smoke as a winged form emerged from the broken skylight.
The Fearow landed on the roof, about ten yards away. It looked like it was in pretty bad shape. Its feathers were smoldering and patches of exposed skin was charred and blistered. The Skyguard stumbled from its back.
He looked a bit better than his Pokémon, but that wasn’t saying much. His clothes were smoking and tattered, and his face shone bright red. His gloves were charred from where he had grabbed Magmar, and Harry wouldn’t have been surprised if he had third-degree burns. That would explain why he didn’t seem to feel pain in his hands, the nerve endings were burnt right off.
The Fearow slumped over. Harry wrinkled his nose at its retched, burnt stench. He couldn’t tell if it was still breathing.
“Looks like this one’s just me, boy,” Harry said to Braviary and returned it to its ball.
The Skyguard glared daggers at Harry. “I’m going to kill you for this!” he shouted.
“To be fair, you were the one who threw Magmar into the generator,” Harry replied calmly.
The Skyguard responded by rushing forward in rage. Harry managed to catch his wrists before he could wrap his hands around Harry’s throat. Clearly the Skyguard’s anger was making him lose his grip.
Harry pushed the Skyguard backward and threw a punch that the Skyguard easily dodged. Harry then braced himself, expecting another rush, which was exactly what he got. He backpedaled, letting the Skyguard push him for a little ways before shoving back. If he could maneuver properly, he could get them close to the broken skylight and throw the Skyguard over the edge.
They traded blows for a couple more minutes as Harry slowly moved them closer to the hole. Once they were close enough, he began to think about how he could get the upper hand. The Skyguard was clearly still more skilled, despite being injured. There was no way Harry could ensure that he wouldn’t be pulled over with him. He just needed one advantage…
Then it hit him. Harry backed away, prompting another rush. The Skyguard’s hands went straight to Harry’s throat, and this time Harry didn’t stop him.
Harry felt the Skyguard’s scarred and bloody fingers fix themselves around Harry’s throat and squeeze. The Skyguard grinned maniacally at his apparent victory.
Harry fought to maintain awareness. He couldn’t breathe, and stars were beginning to dance in his eyes. One hand put up a mock fight against the Skyguard’s grip while the other fumbled at his belt.
Finally, his hand found the hilt of the dagger he had stolen from the Skyguard the previous night. Before the Skyguard knew what hit him, Harry pulled it from his belt and plunged it right into the man’s chest.
The Skyguard’s grip loosened immediately and Harry took in gulps of smoky air. The Skyguard began to fall backwards, his eyes wide, but Harry caught him by the collar and pulled him close.
With that, Harry hurled him over the edge and through the broken skylight.
Then, beside the now subdued rushing of smoke, there was silence.
Harry took a moment to breathe. That was one hell of a fight. He pulled out Braviary’s Poké Ball once more and released it.
“Whirlwind some of this smoke away,” he said, coughing.
Braviary obeyed and began flapping its wings, clearing some of the smoke.
“Alright, buddy. The fight’s not over yet, you ready to go?”
Braviary responded by landing in front of him and bending over so that he could get on.
Harry climbed aboard and they dove back into the smoke filled building.
The explosion seemed to have destroyed most of the supports for the catwalks, as many were swinging precariously or had fallen free completely and plummeted to the fiery ground below.
Braviary dumped him on the fourth floor catwalk by the doorway leading out to the train platform. The door itself was a crumpled mess in the office that the doorway led to, clearly the work of Zach’s Pinsir, which stood right next to it. Zach and Elizabeth were standing in the office and gave shouts when they saw him.
“Where’s Eddie?” Harry asked.
The two rushed forward. “We lost sight of him after the explosion,” said Elizabeth.
Harry turned and looked down to where Eddie had been before the explosion. He couldn’t make out anything through the smoke, so he took off along the creaking catwalk, ignoring Zach’s cries to stop.
Harry rushed down some stairs and jumped over a small gap. When he landed, the catwalk swayed ominously, but stabilized. A single wandering Rocket blocked his way, but Harry quickly disposed of him. When Harry reached where they had been before the explosion, he found an open door.
Through it was a room, empty except for a single body. Harry ran inside. It was Eddie. Fortunately, he just seemed dazed from the explosion, and not terribly injured.
“Come on, Eddie. Up and at ‘em.”
Eddie groaned as Harry pulled him up.
“Can you walk?” Harry asked.
Eddie nodded. “Yeah…”
There was a crash from outside as another piece of catwalk fell away.
“Let’s get out of here before the whole place comes down.”
They ran back into the smoke filled generator room and back the way Harry came. They ran all the way around the room and up the stairs. It appeared that the section of catwalk that had just fallen had come from one of the upper floors and had taken out a small section between where Harry and Eddie now stood, and the door to freedom.
Zach and Elizabeth appeared to be fighting Rockets in the hallway, as sounds of battle could be heard, and they were nowhere to be seen.
Harry took a running jump over the final gap and landed on his hands and knees. The catwalk shuddered violently, but stayed.
When Eddie made the jump, though, there was a loud screech of metal, and the entire section of catwalk gave way.
Harry’s stomach lurched as the loose end swung down. It seemed that the support near the door was still intact, so it didn’t come loose completely, but was bending harshly.
Harry fell to his stomach and dug his fingers into the holes in the catwalk to prevent himself from sliding off the end. He turned around and saw Eddie dangling precariously from the end of the catwalk.
There was a loud snap, and the catwalk swung even lower. It was now almost completely vertical.
“Hold on!” Harry cried.
Harry heard the sounds of footsteps above and saw Zach coming out of the door. He immediately dropped to his knees and grabbed ahold of the loose railing, stabilizing their lifeline, at least temporarily.
“If you can climb up a bit farther I can reach you and pull you up!” Zach shouted.
Harry looked back down at Eddie and climbed down slightly. “Eddie! Grab ahold of my foot and Zach can pull us up!”
There was another snap, and the catwalk swung to totally vertical. Zach gave a grunt of exertion as he pulled on it to keep it from breaking.
“Eddie, grab on!” Harry reached his foot as far down as possible. He looked down again and met eyes with his friend.
Eddie’s eyes were full of tears. He shook his head.
“No!” Harry shouted. “Don't fucking do it!”
Eddie looked deeply into Harry’s eyes. “I’m sorry,” he mouthed.
Eddie let go of the catwalk.
“EDDIE!” Harry screamed. He watched helplessly as Eddie fell away into the fire and smoke below.
With the loss of weight, the catwalk swung upward slightly, just enough for Zach to reach down and grab ahold of Harry’s wrist and haul him up.
As soon as Zach pulled him over the edge, Harry looked over the railing.
“EDDIE!” he shouted, but it was useless. It was impossible to see anything through the smoke.
“Come on, Harry! We’ve got to get out of here before the whole place burns down,” Zach said, and pulled Harry through the doorway to the small office space, where Elizabeth was wrapping up a battle with another Rocket.
Harry wasn’t even thinking as they sprinted through the office, down the stairs, across the platform, and out the front doors.
They found refuge in an alleyway across the street, where they stopped to catch their breath.
“So much for the train, huh?” Elizabeth said. “Where’s Eddie?”
Zach told her what had happened.
Harry, hands on his knees and breathing heavily, just stared at the ground.
“Don’t get too torn up about it, Harry. Eddie got what he deserved,” Zach said.
Harry stood up and glared at him. Despite the fact that Zach was several inches taller than Harry, Harry seemed to tower over him. “Don’t you ever say that again!” Harry shouted. “That could have been any one of us! Just because you don’t have anyone you’re willing to sacrifice everything for doesn’t mean he didn’t either!”
Zach took a step backwards, taken aback.
Harry just leaned against the wall, and took a deep breath. Absolute exhaustion was beginning to overwhelm him as adrenaline began to fade. He slid down into a sitting position and began to cry softly.
They all sat in silence for nearly an hour.
It was Elizabeth who finally spoke. “So now what?”
Harry had stopped crying. He stood up. “Team Rocket is responsible for quite a lot of damage to the lives of everyone in Saffron City. It’s impossible to escape, so I’ll stick with putting the fight to them and giving them due punishment for their crimes.
“As for you two…” Harry continued sadly. “You’re free to go about whatever business you want. I dragged you into this mess with my stupid plan, so I won’t blame you for leaving right now.”
“No,” said Zach.
“What?” said Harry.
“You came back for us,” said Elizabeth. “We owe you our lives.”
“And we’d be glad to repay that debt by kicking some Team Rocket ass,” Zach added.
“We’d never abandon you. Not after all you’ve done for us,” Elizabeth said.
Elation filled Harry’s heart. He grabbed Elizabeth by the shoulders and kissed her square on the lips.
Elizabeth immediately pulled back and slapped Harry hard across the face.
Harry burst out laughing and looked up at Zach. “I’d kiss you too, but you’re too tall.”
“I’ll pass.” Zach laughed. “I thought you had a girlfriend anyway.”
“I do,” Harry replied. “And she’s the reason I’m so glad to have you fighting by my side. So what do you say?” Harry smiled. “The resistance against the Rockets?”
“Sounds good to me.”
“Count me in.”
“Well then,” said Harry. “Let’s go give Team Rocket the ass kicking they deserve.”
DISCOVER HARRY'S FATE AND THE FATE OF SAFFRON CITY IN THE SAFFRON CITY ARC OF UNPREDICTABLE