Main Dome, Cinnabar aerodrome, 16:30
Raven grudgingly watched the numerous people laughing, smiling and just being cheerful.
’We’re in the midst of a war. How can anyone even feign happiness?’
he thought. He sighed and got up from the bare stretch of metallic wall that he was leaning against. He walked forward and mixed with the crowd.
The Cinnabar Aerodrome was just like the Saffron Aerodrome. Everything inside it was perfectly similar to the other. The Center. The food-court.
The annoying people.
Raven stripped away from the mass and walked over to a secluded bench in a corner. It looked as if it was made of mahogany but Raven knew full well that it was just plastic. Two COMING SOON banners for new shops were at either side of it. A few paper plants were next to it to give it a certain effect and the late afternoon sun shone through the large window behind it.
He sat on the bench and glared at nothing in particular for a moment before taking the circular glass piece out of his pocket.
‘I’ve just seen the boy,’ he spoke to it.
There was silence for a moment and then, ‘What of it.’
Raven shuddered for a second as the soft, hissing voice brought a set of chills to his spine. ‘He seems… well, scrawny.
More silence. ‘Don’t judge him by his looks. You know full well what he is meant for.’
Raven nodded, knowing full well that the creature could see him.
‘You know what you must do. It would do well for you to protect him.’ A final hiss emanated from the mirror.
Raven put the mirror in his pocket and sat, head low and hands together, mulling over what was just said. After a moment, he vanished and appeared near the Exit counter of Gate 9. It was a large circular room with an abundance of people. There were many chairs which were almost completely filled. There was a shop in one of the corners which sold refreshment. On the other end was a hallway to a Hydro-lift which headed to the Main Dome.
He leaned against a wall, eyes narrowed and faced towards the door leading to the flight. A second later, the boy appeared next to the man that he had been sitting next to on the plane. The boy was slightly frizzled. His expression was one of boredom. The man was chatting animatedly with the boy but he didn’t quite seem to be hearing. The man talked on anyway; Raven got hints of the words salt, lemon and natural. Seconds later, Raven didn’t know how, their eyes met.
Pure agony tore through Raven’s body. He stifled the urge to scream to avoid any distractions, but the pain was so unbearable that he let out a series of soft grunts and moans. His face was twisted and his veins were popping.
[I]’Never… again…’[/]I he made a mental note when the pain started to subside. He had just done what he had been told never to do. Everything was ruined.
He opened his eyes to a slit and what he saw surprised him. The man still walking with Ron, unperturbed although silent, as if nothing had happened. Raven watched him suspiciously as he walked with the boy out of the exit counter and into the Main Dome. Just then, he saw one of the security guards take out a mobile holo-phone.
He was wearing a black suit; parallel to the blue of the Saffron Aerodrome guards. It was full-sleeved showing that he was the boss. A granite hat sat atop his head and his polished badge brightly reflected the artificial light. The head of a frizzy haired lady appeared on the phone and started talking with him. Raven moved over to him, close enough to hear and far enough to avoid suspicion.
‘ –the stupid lines. I have half a mind to call the communication authorities. Do you know how long it took me to call you?’
‘Just get to the point. I am the head of Aerodrome Security and I don’t like to waste my time.’ The security guard said irritably albeit a little proudly.
‘The boy. Draven’s son. One of my men saw him heading towards the flight to Cinnabar, so there’s a good chance he’s there. I’ll send you a picture, wait.’
The woman’s head disappeared, a miniature 3-D image of Ron revolving in her place.
‘I think I saw that boy, a few minutes ago. He just passed by here.’
‘Well, why are you standing there muttering gibberish?! Catch him!’ the woman practically screamed and disappeared. The security guard stood there, muttered something about incompetent women, and pressed a finger to his ear.
‘Calling all units. We have a baby runt away from his mother, abducted by a piece of white coal masquerading as chocolate, headed towards quadrant three. I want two farmers at my rear and two to run around the farmhouse. Copy?’
Raven gaped at him, half surprised, half morbidly amused. Code languages these days…
Two guards, who apparently got the message, ran over to him. He put two fingers to his eyes and pointed them towards the door. The younger guards nodded, obviously pleased to be working with an experienced person like the ‘head of Aerodrome Security.’
The three officers then moved slowly, trying to be discreet… or as discreet as it is possible to be in an airport filled with people, towards the hallway. Raven stood, tracking their progress and wondering what he was seeing was really happening.
’The world is a crazy place.’
he concluded. As soon as they disappeared towards the door, although he knew that they would never catch Ron, he followed them.
‘It would do well for you to protect him.’
He sighed. A near impossible task.
Main Dome, Cinnabar Aerodrome, 16:37
Ron stared at Archie whose face was tightened into an expression of deep concentration. A few minutes ago he was gibbering about how to preserve natural foods, but then he stopped suddenly. Ron refrained from asking him what happened, partly because he knew Archie wouldn’t tell him, partly because he didn’t want him to start talking again. There were at a corner of the Aerodrome now, close to the car parking and exits. He looked at the Center of the Aerodrome. It listed various flights to Johto, Indigo Plateau, and etcetera; but not Hoenn.
‘I can’t see any flights to Hoenn.’ Ron said, interrupting Archie’s thoughts.
‘Eh… wha… oh.’ He said finally glancing at the Center too. ‘Unfortunate really…’ he became moody again.
They passed by a huge notice board, similar to the one in Saffron, with a metallic border and a number of flashing images. It read,
All flights from 10 o clock to 12 tomorrow will be canceled on government orders.
‘That’s it,’ said Ron pointing excitedly. ‘On government orders. The Aerodrome. The Army flight is going to leave tomorrow!’
‘That’s great,’ replied Archie absent-mindedly
‘So, we’ll find a place to stay for today, then… how do we get on the ship? Hmm… we could disguise ourselves or something and…’
‘That’s a great idea.’ Archie mumbled.
‘Hey you! Ronald Draven!’
Ron looked around and saw three men in uniform running up to him. The one at the lead was staring at him with malevolence and the two behind him had excited expressions
‘Archie, run!’Ron shouted and a stupid though went through his head: Why did they always call out his name before trying to catch him?
They ran without a single clue to where they were going; Pushing and knocking people over in the process. A few people shouted, a few ‘ooohed’ and ‘aaahd’ and a few also started taking pictures.
‘Here!’ Archie shouted, taking Ron’s arm and leading him towards an escalator. A neon signboard above pointed the way to the exit. The duo rushed down the escalator, pushing people aside and careful not to trip and fall down; the footsteps and voices of the security guards who were following them were distinctly audible above the din of the crowd.
They rushed out of the escalator and entered a perpendicular path heading towards the right. Archie went first and then stopped suddenly; Ron almost crashed into him. Two other security guards in similar outfits were standing with contorted expressions as if they were scared of the guns they were pointing at Archie.
‘D-don’t move,’ one stuttered.
Archie cocked his head to the side and sprinted at an awesome speed towards the guards. He knocked the gun out of one’s hand with a well-timed round-hose kick, took his empty hand and threw him onto the other guard who was staring with shock. He then stood, legs bent and arms in a defensive pose in front of him… until he realized that Ron was staring at him.
‘Well, I er… never thought that you’d be able to do that.’
‘He straightened up and wiped some dust off his shoulder hastily. ‘There’s a lot of stuff you don’t know about me, kid. Now, let’s get going.’
They ran through the path which led to a large semi-circular dome made of glass. The slightly orange-tinted skies of Cinnabar stared back at them, the light producing an unearthly glow. There was a transparent door at the bottom leading the way to the P-level car parking on a large circular extension. Strangely, there were no security guards in front of it. Ron and Archie rushed through the door and stopped eyeing the numerous vehicles.
‘We have to take one,’ said Archie finally.
‘What?! We can’t steal a car!’
‘We have no other choice.’ He walked over to the nearest car; a streamlined yellow and black with a pod suited for two people. It had two identical and parallel poles sticking out at the front and rear which was probably for cutting through the air faster (which Ron highly doubted).
‘How do we open it?’ asked Ron running his hand over the painted hood.
Archie put a hand to his chin and glared at the car with deep concentration. A few moments later, he gave it a slight kick. Almost immediately, the car started making honking sounds, the doors flew open and the interiors lit up spectacularly. The engine revved up with a soft gurgle and the car levitated and stopped, hovering at a suitable height for them to get in. It then gave a ‘hum’, beckoning them to enter.
‘How did you do that?’ Ron gasped in awe.
The answer Archie gave surprised him. ‘I have absolutely no idea.’
Rooftop, Cinnabar Aerodrome, 16:45
‘HEY! UNTIE ME!’
Raven winced at the sound of the voice; the intensity was second to only Draven himself.
‘I’M TALKING TO YOU!’
‘There’s no need to shout.’ Raven replied in his deep and creepy tone.
The security guards were tied to a pole at the very top of the dome. The air-pressure knocked most of them unconscious but one of them refused to sleep; shouting at Raven with every spare breath.
‘I am the head of Aerodrome Security and I order you to let me go, THIS INSTANT!’
Raven pulled his hat tighter over his head, wincing at the sunlight and sweating. It didn’t help that he was on one of the tallest building in Kanto on a cloudless afternoon. He walked in slow, steady steps towards the ‘head of Aerodrome Security’ and gave him a swift blow to the head. He went down instantly, his head hanging limply and a bead of saliva dripping from his jaw.
The hot air was suddenly filled with the wailing tones of sirens. Raven walked to the sloping edge of the roof, silently cursing the builder for making it reflective, and saw something that made him curse again; three black and white police-cars dodging the traffic and heading swiftly towards the Aerodrome.
But how? How did they know Ron was here? The woman in Saffron, Raven concluded. She had called them, and for a good reason.
He whirled around and scanned the levels below; his eyes were moving so fast that they were a blur. He finally found Ron and the man scrambling onto a hover-car.
The sounds of the sirens became louder as the police approached. Raven took a deep breath, readied himself and then ran with an amazing speed; his hand was holding his hat and his clothes were flapping as he sprinted towards the edge of the roof in the direction of the police cars.
P-level Parking Lot, Cinnabar Aerodrome, 16:46
Ron was panicking. The loud honking sounds had filled the air for more than a minute and his anxiety grew with every passing second. He turned around repeatedly in the seat of the car to check upon the tiny black blips in the sky which were growing larger every moment.
‘Hurry up, will you?!’ he practically screamed at Archie, who was having troubles of his own trying to start the vehicle which, Ron realized, was a new model and had a completely redesigned control panel. Archie was pressing at the various buttons on the holographic screen below the window and between the two seats, none of which were having any effect.
‘I’m trying my best,’ he replied with a calmness that was vehemently surprising given the situation at hand.
‘Oh God… the police are after me,’ he mumbled, seemingly to himself, ‘I’m as bad as a common criminal. My father will… AAAHHH!!
But Ron’s scream was completely drowned out by the roar of the wind as the car plunged out of the extension and started falling towards the ground.
‘UP, UP!’ cried Ron, unable to hear his own voice.
Archie put both hands on the steering wheel and pulled. The car obeyed lunging out of the dive and straightening, running parallel to the invisible ground below. Scores of buildings, cars and whatnot rushed past them, various blurs of color barely visible to the eye. The speed was overwhelming; Ron stomach went up to his throat and he hesitantly opened his eyes which were, till then, shut tightly.
‘CARS!!’ he roared again as the vehicle headed with enormous speed towards a line of hovering cars waiting patiently for the signal to change.
Aerodrome Air-space, 16:46
The world seemed to move in slow-motion. Raven was falling, diagonally, with his arms outstretched behind him. He could see, out of the corner of his eyes, the numerous cars below him, but he kept his vision on only one vehicle.
It approached, slowly perpendicular to his fall, just below him. His eyes widened as it drew up. The driver’s face turned slowly and contorted into an expression of deep fear. The sirens blared slowly, the passing red and blue light reflecting darkly on Raven’s face. And suddenly, his feet made contact.
Everything speeded up a thousand times. The car flew off balance, diverted from its path by Raven’s weight. Raven tensed up his legs; his muscles tightened and he leapt of the car and into the air. In the span of a few nano-seconds, it crashed into a building.
The sound that followed was tremendous. Screams, explosions; all could be heard. The various sounds left a ringing sound in his ears as he descended head first into the skies below. A fireball zoomed past him, but he didn’t do as much as look at the aftermath of the crash. His vision was targeted below at the cars that were zooming below. He stretched his hand out and reached for a nearby beige vehicle grabbing the side and holding tight.
The car tilted with the extra weight at the side and its occupant screamed, letting go of the steering wheel. The car rocked to and fro, strangely avoiding every vehicle that almost ran into it. With a mighty heave, Raven pulled himself into the car seat. Immediately, he took control of the car and straightened it. It was now flying high, away from the traffic, towards the direction to the honking cries which were at a considerable distance.
It was then that he noticed his neighbor, a small-mousey man with straw-colored hair, probably in his late-twenties. He was staring at Raven with wide-eyes, his hands in front of him covering his body. He was gasping horribly and looked terrified.
Raven smiled a little smile.
Cinnabar Airspace, Greater Cinnabar, 16:46
Ron lunged for the wheel, jumping on Archie’s lap. Grasping it firmly, he turned to the side, praying. The car turned so sharply that its occupants almost flew of. Ron could see the line of cars out of the corner of his eye, looking blurred as they were flying past.
‘Slow down!’ Ron cried trying his best to control the car. Archie nodded frantically and removed the pressure of his leg on the accelerator and put his foot on the brake. Slowly, the car slowed down and finally came to a stop. Ron got back on his seat and sighed. He breathed deeply, in and out in short sighs of relief. Archie still sat in the driver’s seat blankly observing his surroundings.
They were in probably important part of Cinnabar, somewhere in D-level, Ron guessed. The buildings were quite tall and various holographic billboards surrounded the area. The levels above and below were stemming with traffic.
Ron’s thoughts were abruptly brought to an end by the familiar honking sound which had suddenly pierced the air and were becoming louder every moment.
What was he doing sitting in a motionless car? The police were coming?
‘Let me drive,’ he said and Archie agreed. After they switched places, Ron stomped the accelerator and was instantly propelled, though at a much more controllable speed.
He checked the rear-view display. In the multicolored array of cars, he could just make out the blinking lights and black and white design of the two police cars which were darting through the traffic. Squinting forward, he could see the traffic signal, a pole floating motionlessly in the air, undisturbed by gravity.
He was being chased by the police. Traffic rules could wait.
He turned the wheel sharply and pulled it slightly so that the zoomed away from the air traffic and flew towards the left, rising simultaneously. He then turned the vehicle sharply downwards and fell into a steep dive towards the lower levels. Less traffic, he decided, was probably a good thing.
Archie was remarkably silent; a fact that bothered Ron for some reason. Still, he drove it out of his mind, kept a steady eye in the two police cars now diving behind him and hoped for the best.
Cinnabar Airspace, Greater Cinnabar, 16:48
Raven’s car swooped and fell with a tremendous speed, almost perpendicular to the ground below. The honking of the police cars still filled the air as countless cars moved away to make room for the chase. The boy had done well so far. He was successfully maneuvering the car to avoid traffic whilst keeping the police at bay. Raven wondered whether he would truly live up to his expectation.
As the cars zipped past amid the wailing sirens, honking horns and indecently swearing observers, Raven felt a surge of anger. The car was jerking from side to side and was emitting groans. The boy’s car and the police were falling away into the descents of E-level while Raven lagged behind.
‘Cars are useless,’ he murmured and jumped away.
There was a boom which sounded like the car Raven left behind had crashed. He zipped through the air travelling abnormally fast even for a man jumping off a car vertically onto the ground below.
He dodged the various cars in his path with surprising ease. The rim of the rear of the police car approached and Raven grabbed it with deft fingers. His muscles rippled as he controlled his body weight and fell onwards to the back seat of the car, much to the surprise of the two officers inside.