Disclaimer: I don't own Pokémon or have any rights to it.
Note: Mt Miyazaki is called Mt Hideaway in the english dub. I just liked the japanese name better. Also, the episode 'To Master the Onixpected' will give an idea how big the onix are.
After a few days' walk through the Viridian Forest, Vander and Firebrand hugged the mountain range that bisected the eastern and western halves of Kanto. They had paid Molly a brief visit, but kept their plan a secret. Both knew she wouldn't let them try to battle a giant onix.
The rocky mountainside path was dotted with shrubs. Firebrand had little trouble defeating the numerous geodude and occasional onix that challenged them. Most trainers they faced were also easy.
Many used water types, but Vander's toughest challenge came from a diglett trainer a few years older than him.
Diglett kept retreating underground to avoid attacks and launch counterattacks.
Firebrand did the opposite, leaping high into the air to evade any attempted Dig or Slash. However none of her Flamethrowers hit their mark.
The stalemate had lasted a full twenty minutes before Firebrand had an idea. She leapt into the air upon feeling the telltale rumbling and twisted her body. Her Iron Tail wacked Diglett in the head and she then trapped it with Fire Spin.
The opponent remained undaunted. "Retreat underground and extinguish the flames with Sand Attack!"
Firebrand soon lost sight of Diglett, but then the tunnels lit up with a bright light.
The opponent smiled.
"He's evolved Firebrand!"
She understood and nodded.
However that was a crucial mistake. Dugtrio exploited her brief distraction.
Firebrand's response came too late.
Dugtrio emerged beneath Firebrand and the blow sent her upwards. It then quickly followed through with a Slash.
Firebrand clutched her pained belly as the momentum carried her several feet away. She landed in one of the holes that peppered the battlefield.
"Get out of there with Flamethrower!"
However the fatigue and damage slowed her response. Her flame turned bright yellow upon hearing the next command.
"Finish it off with Earthquake! Hurry!"
Dugtrio's body began to vibrate, generating shockwaves that shook the entire battlefield. Soon it was over.
Vander recalled Firebrand and then saw his opponent approaching. The boy was clearly a veteran, from his well-seasoned gear to his well-developed figure.
"You did well, in fact I think that was the most drawn out battle my Diglett's had against a fire type. No wonder he evolved." He extended his hand, which Vander shook immediately. "Your charmeleon's strong, but I think you should consider letting it evolve into charizard soon."
His words remained on Vander's mind the next day. They were having lunch in the shade of one of the few small trees that grew in the scrubland when he brought it up. "What do you think about evolving?"
Firebrand looked up from her meal.
"You'll be able to fly and use Earthquake. That could've helped you beat Dugtrio." He finished his last berry. "What do you think? Are you ready to evolve yet?"
She ripped off and swallowed another chunk of meat and then shrugged. Her tail began tracing the spot on her back where her wings would eventually be.
Vander smiled and reached out to scratch her chin. "I guess it depends on what we find at Miyazaki." He pulled out a notepad and flipped to a page with notes on the mountain. "The onix are bigger, stronger and have tougher defense, but they still fight like regular onix."
She could handle an onix. Yet the memory of the pictures she had seen made flying sound more appealing.
"Evolving will make you more vulnerable to rock type attacks. Even a Rock Throw from one of them could knock you out."
Firebrand was back to being impartial. She just resumed her meal.
Vander understood and got up. "We can talk about this later." He began cleaning up their campsite. "Let's get a look at those onix first."
She nodded as her head leaned back and she swallowed the last chunk of meat.
They made steady progress even as the wilderness grew thicker. There were more large bushes between the trees as they left the more heavily traveled routes. The pair eventually reached a ridge over which they could see the peak of Mt. Miyazaki. It was notably larger than others nearby.
Perhaps they could see Pallet Town from the summit, Firebrand thought. It would be funny if they caught sight of her parents doing their morning flight.
"It's probably less than a day's walk from here. I think we should camp there," Vander pointed towards the base of the mountain. "Let's get a full night's sleep before we go up."
Night had crept across the sky when they made camp. Firebrand remained at near their campfire to watch over everything while Vander foraged for berries.
The boy was alert when he returned, arms laden with many berries. "It was too easy," he said, dropping them in their empty cooking pot. "There are too many berries in these trees. It's like the pokémon aren't eating any at all." Peeling a small chunk off one, he pressed it to his tongue, paused, and then swallowed it. "It's not poisoned."
Firebrand stopped eating and began glancing around. The flame on her tail grew slightly and the tongues flicked more violently. Her eyes and ears were as sharp as ever and she would snap in the direction of any sound. She gave up after a few minutes. Perhaps there were no pokémon to be found.
Vander had also been glancing around. "That's weird." He gave up after one last look around before grabbing a berry. "We saw plenty just a mile ago. Could the onix have scared them off?"
Firebrand stood up and began inspecting the perimeter of the campsite. They were in a small clearing between two trees and two bushes. She had used her claws to make a small entrance through one of the shrubs. Poking her head out through it revealed nothing.
"It couldn't be the onix."
She looked back at her trainer and raised an eyebrow ridge.
Vander was looking at his notes. "The onix are supposed to be kind and friendly if you don't bother them." He extracted a pen from its slot in the notebook's spine and began writing.
Firebrand lay on her belly, her head facing the entrance. She remained this way as her trainer finished his notes and began clearing up. After a few minutes she felt the fire die down. The tongues of her flame began to settle.
"You should get some sleep too," Vander said as he smothered any stray embers. "If something comes while we're sleeping, it'll probably wake you up anyway." He lay down, his feet barely missing the trunk of one of the trees. "I mean it," he said a little more forcefully when he saw Firebrand's head still up.
She sighed and flattened out completely, uncurling her tail so her flame was where their fire had been. Taking deep breathes brought her tail flame down, satisfying her trainer. However she would remain awake for a few hours longer, wondering why they were apparently alone.
Vander figured this out when he awoke and saw that she was still sleeping. He decided not to wake her until after gathering some berries for their trip. They were stored in their mostly unused cooking pot and he packed twice usual load to make up for the smaller sizes.
Firebrand felt groggy when Vander woke her, but was still able to walk with him soon enough. Silence prevailed during their hike up the mountain, but the sun made Firebrand less worried. At least now she could clearly see any potential attacker.
"Look." They both stopped as Vander pointed out a pidgey perched on one of the tree branches.
The bird was preening itself. Its head darted in the direction of Vander's voice.
The bird looked almost relieved when it saw them, so Vander tried to approach it. "Hey little guy."
It took no chances, bolting into the air the moment it saw his movement.
Vander crossed his arms and frowned as he watched the bird flying away. "Wonder what's wrong?" Then he noticed Firebrand glancing around. "See anything?"
She turned to him and shook her head.
They had similar luck with two other pokémon they saw on their way up. Soon the pair reached a stream. Vander immediately noticed a set of familiar grayish boulders behind some low-lying shrubs on the other side. After leaping across they crept around the bushes and froze at the sight of a massive onix head.
"It must be at least two or three times as big as a normal onix."
They were fixated on its head, which, minus the crest, was around Vander's height. Then they realized that it wasn't moving, but its eyes were open.
"It's not sleeping." Vander slowly approached the head and began knocking on it. There was no response. He began investigating the other segments and gasped when he reached the middle one. "It's…broken...how?"
Firebrand's flame began turning more yellow. This looked impossible to her. Jeb couldn't do it. Though her parents probably could, it would be still difficult for them.
"Something killed it." Vander began writing his observations in his notebook. "It was a punch or some other strong attack, Hyper Beam maybe? Shattered it in one blow." What went unspoken was the flesh, a few inches beneath the rocky hide and the dark bloody patch surrounding the injury.
Firebrand hissed and pointed to a trench in a mass of flesh. Something had scooped it out. She then saw him drift downwards to the patch of soil-colored blood.
"With this much blood we should find footprints." Vander soon found the bloody track way. "Should we follow it?" He turned to Firebrand and took note of her more yellow flame. I'm scared too, but he still wanted to know.
Firebrand glanced at the footprints and her flame became more normal when she saw how dry they were. The killer had done this a while ago and moved on.
They resumed walking. Both silent and nervously listening for any indication they were being stalked. The dried bloody footprints eventually faded into the earth.
"I guess that's it." Vander circled back to examine the tracks. "They look like Jeb's but a bit bigger." He saw Firebrand sniffing at them.
She looked up at him and shook her head. The scent had faded.
Vander took a deep breath. "Alright…Let's try to find onix." He put his ear to the ground and closed his eyes. A frown slowly appeared on him. "Nothing," he said after a few minutes as he got up. "How about you?"
Firebrand flattened her body against the ground. She got up after a minute and shook her head. No onix moving in the area.
Vander let out a deep, exasperated sigh. "Guess we'll save that Great Ball for something else." Then he paused as if remembering something. "We still have a lot of mountain left to search. Maybe we can also recruit whatever killed that onix to help us."
Firebrand's flame grew slightly, the tongues whipping around vigorously. Its color was now bright yellow.
"Firebrand?" He walked up to her and began scratching her chin. "I won't make you fight it if you don't feel up to it." He waited until he saw her flame return to its normal yellow with red tongues. "Let's focus on finding an onix. We'll go on from there."
The ground began rumbling.
Firebrand tensed as her flame swelled to double size.
The rumbling got closer and more intense. Then there was a pause.
They covered their faces when the ground in front of them exploded moments later.
A tower of rocks rose up accompanied by a deep growl. "Iwark!"
"Ready Firebrand?" Vander was now shaking a little. Their opponent was huge.
Onix lowered its head and began growling.
Vander glanced at Firebrand and saw her slowly relax. Looking back at Onix, he noticed it growling, but not attacking. Is it talking? Firebrand definitely looked like she was listening.
The conversation lasted a few minutes with Onix letting out low growls, and glancing around periodically as if keeping watch.
Firebrand would ask a few questions, but mostly remained silent.
The conversation ended with onix tunneling into the ground and Firebrand beckoning Vander to follow before she jumped in.
Soon they were both down the hole. The tunnel's width was a testament to its creator's size. Vander saw a few side tunnels, but Firebrand seemed to ignore them. They continued on a straight path with her leading the way and eventually came upon an expansive cavern.
There were lights strung up on the walls, between the entrances. Vander soon spotted what looked like a camp. It consisted of a tent with a log bench and an area covered in ash where there was likely a fire.
A man with a graying hairline, most likely in his fifties, emerged from the tent and waved to the pair. "Hello," he said in a friendly tone. "We don't get guests down here. How are you two?"
"We're fine," Vander replied. They don't get guests? I've seen horror movies start out like that. "Is there something wrong with camping up there?" He pointed to the ceiling.
The man raised an eyebrow. "Didn't you notice something strange going on up there? It's a dangerous place."
"Why?" Then he remembered the corpse. "Is something killing the onix?"
The man nodded. "A monster. At least that's how that onix you met describes it. My wife and I never saw it." He sat down on the bench and invited Vander to take a seat next to him.
As her trainer sat down, Firebrand began looking around the cavern, but glanced back at regular intervals to make sure Vander was okay. She made sure to stay within earshot of the conversation.
"My name is Earl," the man said. "My wife, Marsha, and I came here to study the giant onix. After a few years we became friends with the onix you just met."
"How do you know the one we met is the one you're talking about?"
"It's the only one left. The others are dead or left the mountain." Earl took a deep breath. "It came a few months ago and started killing everything. Onix sensed what was coming and brought us down here before anything got to us. Over time, we kept seeing fewer and fewer onix. Now our friend is the only one left and he only goes to the surface to gather food for us. You're lucky he found you." He took another deep breath. "So what's your name?"
"I'm Vander," he then pointed to Firebrand. "She's Firebrand."
Earl nodded smiling and waving at her. Then his expression darkened as he turned back to Vander. "Have any more pokémon? I assume you came here for a giant onix."
Vander shook his head. "She's my only pokémon." He sensed a reprimand coming. "We weren't going to fight an onix if she didn't think she could handle it. We just wanted to get the best one we could." He showed Earl his Boulder Badge.
The man nodded. "Fair enough, but I strongly suggest you leave as soon as possible. Onix can take you back when he returns."
"Why don't you come with us? If it's so dangerous, shouldn't we all go?"
Earl shook his head. "My wife and I discovered a large clutch of eggs in one of the underground chambers. There are too many for us to carry and they are too fragile for Onix to take them. We're not going to leave until they hatch or we die. Onix agreed to take care of us."
"Are they onix eggs?"
Earl shook his head. "We don't know what laid them and they look different from any egg we've seen."
Firebrand noticed a glow coming from one of the passage. She pointed it out.
Earl smiled and stood up. "Ah, it's Marsha. She was out checking on the eggs."
Vander got up and then he and Firebrand followed Earl to where the glow was coming from.
Marsha, a woman about Earl's age with the same graying hairline met them at the entrance. "Oh we have guests?"
Vander introduced himself and Firebrand and then they returned to the campsite. Onix joined them several minutes later.
As they ate lunch Vander kept glancing around the cavern, and then at Onix who was lying still. "So what did the onix use this chamber for?"
"The onix here have built a network of tunnels and large chambers," Earl said. "I knew they were social, but only discovered the full truth when we befriended him." Earl gestured towards the coiled rock snake.
Onix mustered up a smile.
"The tunnels change from time to time as the onix feed on the soil, but the chambers generally stay the same. The onix used to sleep or socialize in them."
"There are even bigger spaces as well," Marsha said. "The mountain is really big, but the onix live and move in three dimensions, not just across the surface." She smiled wistfully. "Family units would live in these spaces and there was a much larger space deeper inside where they would get together and celebrate their holidays."
Onix turned away from them as his eyes began watering.
Earl got up and walked over to the rock snake and began rubbing his head. "I miss them too," he whispered.
Vander watched them for a moment before turning back to Marsha. "What kind of holidays did they celebrate?"
"As far as we know they gathered during the summer and winter solstice." She sighed. "If only that creature hadn't shown up. We might have seen one of those celebrations and Onix would still be happy."
Firebrand had been listening to Marsha's story while she watched Onix. He definitely had a cloud of sadness hanging over him. He'd kept his distance from them and always seemed to be thinking about stuff. Her trainer had been that way for a while after the incident in Pallet Town.
"Did Onix live here with his family?"
Marsha nodded. "Onix has all the passages memorized," Marsha told them. "He has an excellent memory. Soon after the creature came he brought us here."
"Why didn't the onix all stay down here?"
"The soil they prefer is usually up top here," Earl replied. "Most decided to move out. Many challenged it and failed while some were just unlucky. Onix knows better though."
Vander nodded before asking his most important question. "Do you know what the creature killing everything looks like?"
"We haven't seen it," Earl replied as he rejoined them. "Onix carved some drawings for us when we asked him about it."
On cue, Onix raised his last three tail segments and began carving an image into the ground. When finished it looked like a stick figure, but with four arms instead of two.
The bulky four-armed figure crept through the forest under the glare of the afternoon sun. It had nothing to fear from the few inhabitants left on the mountain, but what prey remained could fly away. Soon it spotted a target.
A small flock of pidgey perched in one of the trees. They looked familiar and it soon remembered that it had killed their pidgeotto parents. The largest, oldest one was preening while the others fed on the now copious amounts of berries. Reduced size made them less nutritious yet easier to swallow.
It grinned and moved behind another tree, out of their line of sight. Then its eyes began to glow. Small stones began rising from the soil, though it slowed the process down to avoid noise. A ring of floating stones was circling the figure a few minutes later. Its heart raced with excitement as it raised a finger and pointed to the oblivious flock.
The stones shot out in a straight line towards the trees. Sounds made when they pushed through the brush were the only warning the birds got.
Several fell to the ground, and a few managed to fly away. The largest managed to dodge the attack and soon spotted the cause. With a significant number of his flock on the ground he decided to challenge it. Memories of his parents and their death remained burned into him.
It grinned as the much smaller opponent dove towards it, beak glowing. While technically super effective, a Peck would do little damage. A forearm was all it required for defense and a slap from one of the other three sent the bird sprawling on the ground.
Wing flaps signaled the flight of the flock. The big one called to them, telling them to leave him behind.
It grabbed the pidgey by the neck, ignoring the others.
The bird's wriggling had little effect. He then landed several Pecks in rapid succession, but it was still in vain. The attacks continued, and soon the glow enveloping his beak spread across his body.
This was what it had been waiting for, and it grinned. It waited, maintaining a minimal grip, until the Pidgey had finished growing. Then its grip tightened rapidly.
The newly evolved pidgeotto went limp.
The plucking began. Then it smiled.
The elusive last onix had surface a distance away. He had not noticed it and was soon back underground.
It placed its ear to the ground and grinned broadly upon hearing the rumbling. Throwing the partially plucked pideotto to the ground, it moved in the direction of the rumbling.
The three humans and Firebrand looked over the figure Onix had carved into the ground.
"There's only one pokémon that looks like that-"
Something slammed into the ground above them, cutting Vander off. Successive hits began shaking the cavern and created a small shower of soil from the ceiling.
Firebrand was thrown off balance and her flame was bright yellow and double normal size. She remembered this situation.
Vander also recognized it. "Something is using Earthquake!"
"It's here!" Earl quickly grabbed a lantern. "We have to check on the eggs!" He stumbled down the tunnel Marsha had come from earlier.
The shaking stopped moments later and Marsha turned to Onix with wide eyes. "Can you lead us out of here?"
Onix nodded and patiently waited as they gathered their belongings.
Vander put on his backpack before helping Marsha pack hers and Earl's. Like Vander, the coupled only had a few pairs of clothes, which he and Marsha stuffed into the larger pouches. The most precious thing after those and the toiletries were their notes.
Once the bags were packed Firebrand donned Earl's backpack and they followed Onix through on of the other tunnels.
Firebrand felt claustrophobic in the tunnels as Onix took up most of the space in front of them. Without him they would all be trapped underground. Her flame and Marsha's lantern were their only light sources.
Vander felt just as uneasy. I really need to get a flashlight. He made a mental note to do so once they left the mountain.
The shaking started up again. It was directly above them.
Onix halted and flinched as the entire passage shook. The three behind him were thrown off balance.
Marsha was panting and her heart raced as she willed herself to stand. It was a futile effort while the shaking persisted. "How does it know?"
"Must be tracking Onix," Vander exclaimed. "If you put your head to the ground you can track their movements."
It knows how to do that? "That's…that actually makes sense." She gave up trying to stand and looked to the rock snake in front of her. Onix couldn't turn around, but she could tell he was thinking. "Onix? What are you planning?"
The rock snake let out a low growl, mainly meant for Firebrand. Then he dug into the tunnel's right wall and slithered down the newly created passage.
"He's leading it away!" Marsha felt her eyes watering. It probably tracked the other onix this way. Found each of them underground and flushed them with Earthquake.
The shaking stopped after another minute and the three were able to stand.
Firebrand got to her feet first and beckoned the humans to follow. She began leading them down a side tunnel that would take them to Earl and the egg chamber. Then they would all escape together.
It pressed its ear to the ground. Off course the Earthquake had not been enough. This one was among the sturdier ones. After a few minutes it got a general sense of where the rumbling was headed.
Trees and bushes gave way as it barreled across the mountain. Its four arms came in handy, protecting its face from the foliage. The last onix was on the move. It refused to let it escape.
Bird pokémon scattered as the beast approached and then passed them. They were relieved to see it was after something else. The more curious among them flew a safe distance behind and saw it periodically stopping to place its ear to the ground before resuming its run.
The onix had been moving faster than before. It was perplexed at its inability to catch up. Placing an ear to the ground for the seventh time, it listened and heard the rumbling.
Onix was no longer moving horizontally. He was burrowing deeper into the ground. In fact he was now so deep that even Earthquake might not have been able to flush him out.
It wanted to fist the ground in frustration until something clicked. Onix had picked up the pace and changed direction. After leading it for miles down the mountainside it dove deeper to escape. All four of its fists clenched tightly as it let out a mighty yell. Turning back it began retracing steps to where it had first used Earthquake.
The ground was still distorted from the impact its attack had made.
Fists began glowing bright red and it was soon pounding the ground with all four. It struck the same spot in rapid succession. The hole grew deeper and wider with each strike.
It took roughly twenty minutes for them to navigate the passages to where they found Earl.
He was in a chamber large enough for only one giant onix. It had a large pit at its center in which there were at least fifty eggs. In the light of his lantern they looked black with purple patches.
He looked surprised to see them. "What happened? Where's Onix?"
Marsha answered him. "He decided to lead it away from us. It had been tracking his movements underground."
Earl put an arm around his wife. "It was bound to happen sometime I guess. He was always the smart one, so I'm sure he'd figure something out."
Vander looked over the clutch and Firebrand seemed equally fascinated. "They don't look like any eggs I've seen." He'd seen quite a few, including Firebrand's when visiting Pallet Town with his father.
"They might not even be native to Eastern or Western Kanto," Earl said as he and Marsha broke apart. "He knelt beside Vander and rubbed one of the shells. "They feel warm, but I think they might take a long time to hatch under these conditions." He picked one up and handed it to Vander. "Here."
Vander took it. He needed both hands to hold it. "Are you sure?" Looking back to Earl and Marsha he saw them smiling.
"I think it will most likely hatch if you take it," Earl said before gesturing towards the nest. "There are so many eggs there that even if this is the wrong choice its still worth the risk. The others will remain down here, no better or worse than they had been."
Firebrand gave Earl's backpack to him and joined Vander in inspecting the egg.
All heads turned in the general direction of the sound.
Earl and Marsha paled. "It's down here," they both exclaimed.
They were soon running with Firebrand leading based on Onix's instructions.
Earl and Marsha's lanterns provided ample light, and Vander was grateful. Carrying the egg took both arms. He also couldn't run at full speed for fear of tripping and breaking it, though he still kept pace with the two adults.
They heard footsteps. Something else had joined them and was now running through the passages. However it stopped often and the sound grew quieter and louder. It may or may not have been gaining on them, it was clearly not sure of its destination.
Both Earl and Marsha were starting to pant. While in shape for their age they were clearly not used to sustained jogging.
Vander was also breathing more heavily and his heart was racing. Luckily the cool underground temperatures kept sweating to a minimum.
The pattering of feet seemed to getting louder. It was getting closer, and this time there was a steady increase in sound.
Everyone's hearts began thumping, and not just from the effort.
Firebrand felt the pressure mounting. The others were following her. Onix had trusted her. Now the creature was gaining on them. She kept her eyes pealed for the landmarks Onix had told her to look out for. Light from her swollen flame made seeing a non-issue.
The patter of footsteps behind them got even louder.
Her eyes caught sight of one of the landmarks and she turned right. She had felt the slope of the ground for some time. According to Onix this would lead them to a thinner layer of soil that she could blast through.
"It's a dead end!" However Vander calmed a little when he saw Firebrand. She knows what she's doing.
Firebrand clenched her fists, blocking out the pattering. Her tail flame swelled to triple normal size and she expelled a Flamethrower. It created a molten circle in the soil. Then she delivered two Metal Claws to the spot before it cooled.
The soil gave way and soon there was a passage large enough for them to walk through. Upon exiting they found themselves near a cliff that overlooked a sloping wasteland.
"We're closer to the boundary between western and eastern Kanto," Earl said. "The base of the mountain is still a few hundred feet down."
Vander looked back and heard the pattering. It's still getting closer. "We should get going now!"
Thus began a scramble along the side of the cliff. There were few trees here to hide them, and they could find no way down the mountain.
"Hold on." Earl stopped. "Give me a minute."
Firebrand stood guard as the two rested. She was not exhausted yet, but her trainer was showing some signs of fatigue. Suddenly she tensed up. Her flame became even more violent.
A figure leapt from where the entrance to the underground. Its momentum carried it over them to land several feet away.
Their escape route was blocked.
Vander clutched his egg tightly as he stared into the face of his new enemy. "Machamp!" It towered over all of them, and he took special note of its lack of a belt. A chill ran through him as he thought of what could follow and he stepped back, egg in hand.
Machamp grinned. Though the onix had given it the slip, there were four new victims that couldn't escape. It flexed all four arms as the charmeleon among them stepped forward with a challenge. This would be fun.