Cries and Calls to Action
"It just keeps getting worse. I don't believe this," Tracey muttered, closing his eyes and shaking his head. He and the others were standing near a huge window on the second floor of the ship; this one was positioned right at the bow. Rain continued to pelt everything in sight, and there was a lot to see. Feron Grove was coming into view, and the people watching were pleased with the island before them. The tops of huge palm trees danced in the storm, and a few Lanturn swam by, the lights on their heads glinting in the midday darkness.
"Whoa!" Ash called out. Another lightning bolt crashed into the island's north side, lighting up the entire landscape and showcasing the big port building standing in front of several other structures—some towering and some appearing like beads on the island. "This place is huge!"
Misty smiled and ran a finger over the glass, following a quickly falling raindrop. "And we're actually going to be staying here, so we've got plenty to do. It's going to be so much fun."
Tracey hummed low, his face in the newspaper, and Misty turned to him and said, "Tracey, what's wrong? I know there's some weird bad news out there, but it can't be all bad."
"Let me see," Brock interjected, craning his head toward what Tracey was reading. "Uh oh… There are several people in the hospital in Feron Grove. Some kind of animal's attacking them."
"Some kind?" Misty asked, going over to join them. "They don't know what's doing it?"
"It's not a Pokémon, or at least any they know of," Tracey responded. "My dad's a registered nurse up there, and he's seen most of the patients. They're paralyzed, barely alive."
"And no Pokémon companions to defend any of them," Misty whispered, biting her lip as she read the report.
"Less than two hundred up in the city," Ash said. He stretched up high and yawned. "Feron Grove likes to keep the numbers low because of wildlife and space conservation or something."
Brock frowned. "And there's some sent to Pokémon Centers because of this. They don't even have a chance to defend themselves."
The four friends looked up at the island they were approaching; the captain had announced that they would be landing in ten minutes. The four then looked at each other.
"I don't know if this is something we're meant to handle," Tracey began, rubbing the back of his neck.
Ash tightened a fist, and Misty pulled her fiery hair into a ponytail. "That's the case with everything we do," she replied, and Tracey nodded in agreement, chuckling lightly.
"Let's just keep our eyes peeled, guys," Ash said. "I don't think we should rush into anything yet."
"Right," Brock said, putting his hands behind his head. "Let's see our folks first. Then we can dive into crazy."
Another thunderclap crashed outside followed by flickering lightning. As the thunder dissipated, something else sounded out—lightly at first, but then just as loud as the storm. Low growls, a rolling snarl, and something like an elephant's trumpeting sound made Ash, Tracey, Misty, and Brock quietly gasp.
"What was that?" Ash nearly shouted, startled by the animalistic noises. A few people walking past him and his friends just raised their eyebrows and shrugged their shoulders. He looked at his friends, who stared at him with the same puzzled and astonished look he wore.
The rainstorm that had been assaulting the ocean now turned its attention to Feron Grove for the past hour. Water furiously fell down from the sky and lightning continued to crash around the island. But bad weather was the last of Lia's concern. She stepped off of the trolley that made its way to the southern part of the city and went over to the grassy edge of the land. Around her were Feron Grove Seaport, where travelers of all walks of life first arrived, the industrial shipyard, and a small dock that people looking for fun and adventure used to set sail.
The youngest Feran stopped right at the little dock where a small crowd of people were gathered. Police officers were widening the gap between the people and two boys who were near the water's edge. The younger boy was pale and shivering, splotches of green goop slathered near his mouth, on his bare chest, and on his white swimming trunks.
"It just came out of nowhere…" the older boy whispered, clutching his arm, which was wrapped up by one of the officers' coats; drops of blood dripped from his arm and onto the grass. "It spat on my brother and those two Starly we usually see."
The officer nearest him, a well-toned woman with a jet-black ponytail, helped the tall young man walk away from the scene while two policemen attended to his brother. The two bird Pokémon the child spoke of were floating in the water, also covered by the green poison.
"What did this thing look like?" she asked. "Nobody's seen it for sure, so anything you can…"
Suddenly, the boy doubled over and began to vomit, letting out ragged coughs in between convulsions. That's also when the ambulance sirens began to blare.
"It's okay, kid," the officer said, rubbing the boy's back. "Help will be here soon."
Police Chief Sherry Kanzaki turned around to see Lia running up to her. The two boys had been loaded into the ambulance, and the crowd had been respectful. But as soon as Chief Kanzaki had turned away from the paramedics, there the girl was.
"Chief Kanzaki," Lia said again. She flipped her sopping-wet two-tone hair back; she hadn't bothered to try to find an umbrella in the past hour. "What did those kids say that thing that attacked them is?"
"No idea, Lia," Kanzaki replied hastily, moving quickly toward her officers. "You need to get back home. It isn't safe out here."
"It's moving so fast no one can identify it," Lia replied, keeping in-step with her. "I doubt anywhere's safe."
"Shouldn't you be with your mother right now?" Kanzaki questioned. She tried to wave Lia off, but to no avail. "This area's going on temporary lockdown, but I'll let you get out of here to go see her."
Lia gritted her teeth for a few seconds, looking into the distance as the rest of the people were being ushered toward the huge, round seaport building. Police were so busy with the protesting and curious crowd that they didn't notice four people slipping out of one of the side glass doors and tiptoeing toward the scene.
"She'll be fine," Lia growled. "if we catch the thing doing all of this." The young lady quietly caught her breath after that, her body growing tense. Some kind of high-pitched shriek, sort of like a bird, rang out in her ear. But nobody else around her seemed to notice.
"Lia, either get to seeing your folks or get inside!" Kanzaki snapped, the officers still trying to bombard her with details.
Lia opened her mouth to yell right back, but somebody else spoke.
"Hey, good thing we found you Lia!" Ash called out cheerfully. "We've been looking all over for you."
Lia raised her eyebrows in surprise as she looked at who now surrounded her: the black-haired boy who spoke up, a taller redheaded girl wearing a yellow shirt and jeans, another young man with a button-up shirt and his bangs dangling near his eyes in the rain, and the tallest boy with dark brown skin, probably of Asian or African American descent, or both.
"Jeez," Lia muttered, shaking her head. "What took you so long?"
"Hey, we enjoy walking in the rain," Misty piped up, putting an arm around her. "Come on, your folks are waiting."
The four friends pushed Lia to the center of the group and began to go down the road toward the city. The three police officials looked a little confused as they worked.
"What was that about?" one of the men asked.
"I don't have time," Chief Kanzaki said. "As long as they get somewhere safe."
Lia eyeballed the four teenagers around her as they walked. Judging by the gear they carried, they had just gotten off of one of the incoming transports. All four of them had their eyes narrowed and their mouths pursed tight.
"Did that cop say anything about what's been causing all this trouble?" Brock asked.
"No," Lia replied. "Just more I don't know. Why do you care?"
"We thought about that," Tracey said. "We were going to wait it out, but when a building gets locked down, we usually either escape it or break in."
"Better than sitting around and waiting for things to get worse," Ash added.
Lia allowed herself a laugh. "Okay, that's a plus. But I've been researching this for a while, and I have no definite lead…"
As Lia spoke, a throaty wail came through the stormy atmosphere. A little girl came limping out of a tunnel of trees that covered a dirt road leading to the east. She was carrying a small green lump, and her white undershirt was stained faint red.
The five teenagers rushed toward the child, who was sobbing uncontrollably into the green lump. They all ducked behind the foliage so they wouldn't be seen.
"What happened? What's wrong?" Ash asked.
"Help! That…that red snake!" the girl cried, opening up the bundle a little bit, revealing a barely breathing and goo-splotched Eevee. "It bit my Eevee and he said for me to tell and I…" She began to sob and scream again, and Misty and Brock brought her close and held her.
"Tell you?" Lia spoke, jostling her backpack. "If it can talk… The book…"
"This slime is covering the puncture wounds!" Tracey said, checking the punctures on the limp creature's neck. "That's why Eevee's alive, barely. But it's still toxic!"
"Where did the snake attack you?" Misty asked, rubbing the child's shoulders. "We have to know."
The girl continued to talk through her crying. "Down there…" she pointed down the dirt road. "By the cave near the water…" and then she broke down again.
"Look." Everyone turned to Brock, who pointed through some leafy branches and toward the way they came. Chief Kanzaki and her subordinates had heard the screams and were jogging down the road.
"The police are coming," Brock said, rubbing the little kid's hair. "They'll help you. Go!"
The girl sniffled and nodded, coming out from the foliage and going toward help. The five teenagers took one look at each other, and they bolted down the dirt path and into the woods.