Chapter 7: Crisis in Celadon

A cacophony of screams and complaints poured out of the Pokemon Center when the glass doors slid open. Yumin trotted up the marble steps, returned his Tygo to his Pokeball. Zakana followed. Bounding down the giant hill after Happiny had irritated his shoulder and back even more. They felt brittle, like the wind could snap them, every step more laborious than the last.

When he reached the top of the stairs, he said, “Yumin, wait up.”

Yumin had entered the Center and was marching toward the counter in the center of the dome-like structure. If Zakana thought the Pokemon Center on the Orange Islands was magnificent, Celadon’s Center was awe-inspiring. Aside from when he was younger, this was only the second Pokémon Center Zakana had been in. The array of glass panels lining the area above the walls cast a rainbow glow onto the linoleum floor below. Sunlight seeped through the dome with a directness that was almost blinding.

“Zakana, hurry up!” Yumin called, moving through the crowds quickly.

Zakana was careful not to bump his shoulder against passersby.

“Absurd! What kind of Ponyta shi—”

“Honey!” said the man’s wife. “We can come back in a few hours when things slow down.”

Suddenly, Zakana remembered the reports on the radio—the blackouts in Saffron and Vermillion, the chaos in the Pokemon Center on the island. Could it be happening in Celadon too?

“Yumin, wait,” Zakana called, thinking his presence could somehow make this better. “Yumin!”

He was already at the head of the line. Someone that Zakana did not see knocked him on his bottom.

“HEY!” he called, looking around for the perpetrator. It was useless. People were moving like a colony of ants slowly being roasted by the kid with the magnifying glass.

“I need my Pokemon for the next gym battle,” cried a boy that looked like he had just stopped using a baby bottle.

“Excuse me,” Zakana said after returning to his feet. “Can you tell me what’s going on?”

A woman with shoulders like a linebacker stopped, squared up, studied Zakana like he was a piece of salami. After smirking at him, she seemed to decide that it was okay to report what she knew. “The blackouts in the other cities are affecting the Pokemon Center here too. The Personal Computers, nurse stations, and healing centers aren’t working either.” As if an idea suddenly struck her, her eyes went wide and she said, “I’m taking this up with the mayor.” Then she walked away.

“What do you mean I can’t retrieve my Pokemon?” Yumin’s voice carried above the crowds. “Is this some kind of joke? What kind of Pokemon Center are you running?”

Zakana put his hand on his cousin’s shoulder, who shrugged it off. Again, he blasted his question at the nurses behind the station. One of them looked seconds from tears. Zakana almost felt bad for her.

“When am I supposed to withdraw my Pokemon? How can I change my line-up?”

A different nurse, one with a strong jaw line, and a face that wasn’t about to break into tears strolled up, spoke to Yumin. “You’ll have to come back when the systems are back up. Keep tuned in to the emergency broadcast channel, sir.” She did not break eye contact with Yumin.

His eyes bore down on her but with no effect. The other nurse popped out of her chair and scurried away.

“This isn’t normal. Two blackouts and all systems down in Pokemon Centers elsewhere? This smells real Magikarp-y to me. That means it smells like fish, lady. Real bad.”

“I’m familiar with the expression, sir.” She punctuated her last word with a seething hate she could not quite release. “If you’ll please move along, or wait at one of the designated areas, we would greatly appreciate it. If your Pokemon need medical attention, our nurses are maxed out. You can take a number or go to a nearby Pokemart and use sprays, gels, or whatever else suits your needs. Thank you.”

Yumin spun around. “Whatever,” he said. “Let’s get moving, Zakana. We can use the Center in Bambi’s Academy.”

Again, Yumin moved through the crowds, reached the exit. The glass doors slid open and more people spilled in and out.

“What the hell is going on?”

Zakana’s breaths became a staccato of aspiration, brought on by bouts of hunger and fatigue. His face was hot enough to melt plastic, his hands rubbery, sickly. Yumin followed a path leading to a bus stop. He stopped in front of it, studied the sign there.

“We can just wait it out, sweetcheeks.” A boy the same age as Zakana leaned in and kissed his girlfriend on the forehead.

“If you say so, sweetums.” She slid her hands inside her boyfriend’s hoodie pockets and fell into him.

Yumin made a retching noise, said under his breath, “waiting it out like the rest of the chumps.”

The couple, clearly stricken by puppy love turned on Zakana, confused about where sounds were coming from. The boy, now turned, looked a few years older than Zakana, his face leathery and burnt from the sun. “What did you say, kid?”

Kid. Zakana looked up at him, immediately realized what had happened. Before he could remedy anything, Yumin cut in.

“He didn’t say anything. I,” Yumin said, drawing in a dramatic breath, “called you a chump.”

“Finally, the bus is here!” someone shouted.

Zakana saw the blue vehicle moving down the road, bouncing rhythmically. His eyes locked with the girlfriend. They exchanged looks of disgust, reserved for those things at the bottom of scum-filled ponds. Tearing their eyes from each other, they moved to their counterparts.

“You’re gonna pay for that mouth of yours,” said the boy.

“Yeah, who’s gonna make me pay?” Yumin stole a glance behind him, his eyes took in the bus now coming to a stop.

“Yumin, not now please,” Zakana begged.

People practically fell off the bus when the doors opened. Those getting on were savage-like, their teeth barred, eyes glowing with insatiable hunger. Where had Zakana come to?

The boy who had been called Huan by his girlfriend, raised his chin at Yumin. The lockdown seemed never-ending. Zakana tugged at Yumin’s letterman jacket. “This is dumb and not worth it.”

It became clear to Zakana that Yumin was trying to keep this couple from getting on the bus, which would make them miss it too, given the rate that they weren’t moving.

Zakana linked arms with Yumin, pulled him onto the bus as Huan and Soda, as she was affectionately called, followed. The doors closed behind them. Yumin swiped his card across the machine at the front.

“Thank you for riding Celadon Bus Railway,” it said. Yumin swiped again for Zakana.

Huan and Soda swiped their cards after them. Zakana pulled Yumin through the aisle away from the couple, away from their silent, judging eyes.

“What are you trying to do?”

“Relax,” Yumin said,” smoothing out his letterman jacket. “They’re just a bunch of kids.”

“They’re older than us. And I only have one good arm. I don’t think we should be making trouble.”

Yumin sighed, agreed. “Fine . . . only because we need to get to Bambi. Otherwise, those two should have been taught a lesson.”

When they got off the bus some twenty minutes later, Huan and Soda stayed on, which relieved some of Zakana’s stress. He was still dog-tired and wanted so badly to sleep and have a working arm again. Something inside him boiled up, made his hate for Pokemon surface again. How had that thing been so aggressive, so careless to attack Zakana like that?

Down the road, Yumin pointed to a green and gold building 15 stories high. Silver columns lined the entrance, held up a second story patio that overlooked the area. Zakana could see the letters carved into the building that said,

Celadon’s Master Academy for Boys and Girls

“Why is it called a Master Academy?”

“Because it trains students to be Masters.” Yumin walked toward his sister’s Academy. “This place is one of the most prestigious schools in the region. I could have never gotten in.”

Zakana wondered how true that was. Yumin had to be an excellent trainer if he was able to travel the world with his dad.

“Apparently Bambi wrote a really phenomenal essay that blew the headmaster out of the fishing pond. My parents were so proud of her.”

Yumin stopped to stare at the building before him. Then he looked down at his feet.

“There’s glass down here . . . and that window up there is broken.” Yumin knelt down, examined a piece of glass. “What the—there’s blood on it.”


Yumin shot up. “This is strange.” His tone was forceful, yet fearful. Something in his throat caught. “Let’s go.”

They came to the front door and Yumin opened it.

The first thing Zakana noticed was the amount of green around him. The carpets, curtains, plush rugs—all colored a seafoam green. Staircases flanked Zakana on both sides and directly in front of him sat a cedar n-shaped desk that nearly took up the entire room. It reminded Zakana of a cross between a library and a mansion.

“Hello!” Yumin called. “Is anyone here?” Yumin shot Zakana a quick look. “It feels like no one is here.” All of the sudden, Yumin decided this was true. He sprinted up the stairs and called into the chamber that shot up to the other floors above. “What is going on in this damn town?”

Zakana wondered the same thing.

“Get up here, cous. Bambi’s dormitory is on the 3rd floor.”

Zakana made his way up the staircase to the left, saw Yumin standing inside an elevator, his finger on the buttons inside. “Put a step on it.”

Zakana entered the elevator and the doors closed.

“There should be a mini Pokemon Center on the 7th floor. We can take care of our Pokemon there.”

“Have you been here before?”

Yumin shook his head.

“Then how do you know where everything is?”

Yumin pointed to a sign near the elevator buttons that explained what was on each floor. Zakana read the description next to floor 3 that read, “1st year dormitories.”

The elevator reached the 3rd floor. Its doors opened, revealed a long, red-carpeted hallway.

Again, there was only silence. Zakana thought he heard a door slam. He followed as Yumin sped down the hallway.

“Bambi! Bambi!” He called, his voice determined to find her now. “Where are you, Bambi?”

Distant memories flashed inside Zakana’s head . . . the day that it happened. He panicked, quickened his pace. He would never lose another family member again, that was sure. He would find them. He would find Bambi. “Bambi,” he called. His face became hot, his cheeks flushed. “Bambi!”

Ahead of Zakana, Yumin stopped, leaned down to pick something up. He held something in his hand, turned to face Zakana. “This . . .”

A blue necklace with dim ringlets of red-orange flames inside fingernail sized beads hung from Yumin’s hands. “It’s Bambi’s necklace. My mom made it for her before she left for Academy . . .”

Seeing the necklace not on Bambi’s neck sealed away all doubt inside Zakana’s mind. Bambi was in trouble . . . no this whole building was in trouble, with its eerie whisperings. It made Zakana feel like Missy, his mother’s ghost Pokemon, was watching them. It felt like many ghost Pokemon were there, hiding in their cloaks of invisibility but listening to everything Zakana and Yumin were doing and saying.

“Hello!” Yumin called again. He sprinted to the end of the hall, saw the window cast open. “You don’t think?”

“She could be anywhere in this building, Yumin. Let’s keep looking.”

Zakana looked out the window, saw no disturbance below, nothing on the grass. Yumin continued to pull on every door he passed. “They’re all locked! Hello, is anybody in this damn building?”

A look of despair fell across Yumin’s face. Zakana pushed the button to open the elevator nearby. “C’mon. Let’s check the 7th floor. There have to be people in the Center.”

In the elevator shaft Zakana could hear something as he neared the 7th floor. A shrill shrieking noise pierced his ears. Yumin grabbed a Pokeball from his belt, pressed the middle button. Suddenly, everything became serious—Yumin’s demeanor, Zakana’s mood. He could feel the tension around him. And then the lights began to flicker. Again, there was a shriek. Zakana knew it before Yumin mentioned it.

“There’s something up here. Get your Pokemon ready.”

When the elevator door opened, Zakana saw nothing, or rather a set of dim lights flickering staccato behind a misty screen of smoke.

“Go, Braviary! Go Tygo!”

Yumin jumped into the cloud before him. “Braviary! Use gust on this smoke! Tygo! Find any survivors!”


Zakana was slow, but was this the kind of scene he had walked into?

“Bambi!” he called without thinking. Then the shriek came again, and a grunt. Seconds later, Tygo skidded across the floor, landed in front of Zakana’s feet. Slowly, he looked up, faced the monsters that were now in view. They were the biggest things had Zakana had ever seen and immediately he knew what type of Pokemon he was looking at. There was no mistaking the two of them, their scaly wings outstretched, squared up again each other, like giants holding up the earth with their bony but powerful hands.

“Dragons!” Yumin shouted.

Zakana could not see his cousin. He could not see Braviary. He lifted Tygo off the floor, felt how skinny and bare it was. Zakana removed his own Pokeball and pressed the center button.

“Go, Slowpoke!”

Slowpoke emerged from the Pokeball, said, “Slowpoke.”

“You’ll have to kill me first!”

Zakana looked over expecting to see Yumin, instead noticed a man holding onto the blue dragon’s leg, like it was a baobab tree. The orange dragon, which stood on just two feet glared at the man and his dragon. It stood there, moved its T-rex arms in strange formations and then . . .


Zakana felt the pulses from where he stood. He saw the neon blue light zap the dragon’s head, run through its body, and then hit the man. His hair stood on end, and he shouted an agonizing shout.

“Zakana!” Yumin appeared from the peripheral of smoke, his Braviary beside him.

Another man, much smaller than the man with the blue dragon, suddenly emerged, patted the orange dragon on the belly. In a dark smoky voice, he said, “get out of here. Unless you want to lose your Pokemon as well.”

The man who had been shot with lightning fell to his knees. A steam rose from his body as the shocks reverberating through his shaking body dissipated.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

It happened faster than Zakana understood, faster than Yumin could react, faster than the man could recover. Somehow, the other man threw a Pokeball at the blue dragon—it was a Pokeball thrown at a Pokemon that clearly belonged to someone else. And then, with a snap and whip, the blue dragon disappeared inside the Pokeball. The man laughed, clamped his hands around his new prize.

“Don’t interfere with us,” the man said as he mounted his dragon. The beast’s legs bulged, knees bent and it blasted into the air, through an open window above. Zakana looked down at his Slowpoke. Both of them had done nothing.

“Sir!” Yumin knelt down beside the collapsed man. “Professor Durridge? Are you okay?”

Zakana moved next to his cousin, saw the red-white space in the man’s eyes, the decay there. His hair stood on end and there was a strange smell coming from him, like burnt flesh.

“He took them . . .” The man’s tone was weak, defeated. “My Salamence.”

“Where is everyone? Where are the Center’s nurses? We need to get you help.” Yumin looked frantic, crazed.

Durridge shook his head, closed his eyes. “Those in the Center fled. There’s no more time, son. You can’t help me, now. I’ve lost my Academy. I’ve lost my Pokemon.”

Zakana watched this man in horror. Even now as blood seeped out of his gnarled mouth and teeth, Zakana pitied him. His love for his Pokemon was written all over him, and now that he had lost them, was broken, shattered beyond recognition. As he spoke, Zakana believed he might still live had he but one Pokemon. That was the good they had done for this man. Then there was the orange dragon that had basically fried him with lightning at the bidding of another man. It was evil . . . grotesque. The Pokemon and trainer matched in depravity.

“My sister is a student here. Her name is Bambi. Do you know what happened to her?” Yumin held the man in his arms, looked down hopefully.

Again, Durridge shook his head. He coughed. “Listen to me. I don’t know who is still in this Academy or if others were captured or not. I came to protect the Pokemon in the Center.” Blood dribbled down the man’s face, frothed at his lips like crushed roses. “They attacked this Center and many others.”

He took one great deep breath, looked at Zakana as though noticing him for the first time. “All of the Pokemon from Centers, anything being held in the reserve systems . . . those clamp balls they have been manufacturing and using against Pokemon that aren’t theirs . . . they’re gone . . . all of them are gone.”

With that he drew his last breath and went still.