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Pokémon The Quest for the Legends

Introduction / Prologue

Dragonfree

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Staff
Location
Iceland
Pronouns
she/her/hers
Partners
  1. butterfree
  2. mightyena
  3. charizard
  4. custom/scyther-mia
Welcome to The Quest for the Legends, an original trainer fanfic that I originally started in 2002 when I was twelve, started rewriting from scratch in 2004, and then completed in 2018, exactly sixteen years after it started.

I have plans to do a proper rewrite of this story. This is not that rewrite. This will be me posting that 2004-2018 version that I completed, with light edits but no more than that. This is mainly for two reasons: 1) I'm creating chapter art for every chapter as art practice, and it'd be nice to be able to do something with it; and 2) various people on here have expressed an interest in reading the completed fic to me, but understandably the task of doing so is a bit overwhelming when it's 77 chapters and a prologue. Posting it here with a delay between chapters and the opportunity to comment and interact with people in the process probably makes it a lot easier for that to actually happen as a thing people can have fun with!

What I mean by light edits is that I'll probably clean up stuff like typos and grammatical errors, maybe correct blatant easily-corrected inconsistencies, and alter a sentence or two here and there that I find especially awful. I will not be altering events to be any less cooked up by a twelve-year-old, or the writing style to be much less clunky; doing so in any useful capacity would require that full rewrite and all in all take years. I still want to do that, but in the meantime, this is just to let people read it on Thousand Roads in its full completed not-particularly-glorious glory. (I might finish doing some rewrites I've been meaning to do to chapter 76 in particular? Maybe? If they happen to be done when I get there?)

Thus, this version of the fic is pretty old and bad! When I read through and commented on the whole fic after it ended, I felt it started to more or less hold up as still enjoyable on its own terms for me around the late thirties range (in terms of chapters), if that tells you anything. Before that point, there's just a whole lot of absolute ridiculous nonsense, especially in the first few chapters. I'm well aware of this; actual critique would probably be a waste of your time. Feel free to poke light fun at it, though. I will be doing so myself throughout this thread, both introducing each chapter and in some spoiler-free endnotes on each. I'm just hoping you all have some fun here.

Content-wise, this story is more or less a T rating. It has one (1) f-bomb in it; a bunch of routine Pokémon battle violence that's bloodier than canon but still ultimately temporary and harmless; a good bit of more intense violence and mortal peril, including between humans (this includes violence against minors); some instances of brief/mild gore; alcoholism; several character deaths; and various generally dark/disturbing themes, including recurring themes of suicide. If requested I can include a heads up before individual chapters containing some of these themes if that would be helpful for you (please do request it if so!), but please consider this a warning that applies for the entire fic - it's not that there's just this one chapter that discusses suicide.

The posting schedule will probably be largely determined by when I finish chapter art, which is to say, usually spaced some 3-6 days apart probably - unless people would rather I slow it down to a regular schedule like one chapter per week, which I can also do if that's something people would prefer. At the point of starting this thread, I've already done the chapter art for the prologue and first three chapters; I'll post three days apart until I catch up with the chapter art. The general idea with the chapter art is to try to finish illustrating the final chapter by the fic's twentieth anniversary, June 19th 2022, though I have no idea if I'll actually make that; if you join me for this, perhaps we can all celebrate the anniversary together.

Thus, without further ado, please enjoy the prologue, a supremely clunkily-written effort to be mysterious and hint at grander things. Did you know my trainer fic has a dramatic plot about legendaries dying horribly, which is of course not going to come up again at all for the next 24 chapters?



Prologue

2021-06-19-prologue-small.png
The flaming remains of a town burned sadly in the sharp wind. Gray, gloomy clouds covered the sky, a bit of vibrant red sunlight reaching through them in the west.

The blood-soaked ground was covered in bodies. Most of them were whole. In fact, a few might still have been breathing some of the last breaths of their lives. Others were completely torn apart, so that it seemed almost like a supernatural being had swept past with the sole intention of killing them, but its mere presence had made everything else drop dead as well.

There was one thing that the torn apart ones had in common: while they lived, they had been known as legendary Pokémon. These former streets contained the bodies of twelve legendary Pokémon. All but two of them would soon be buried in the sands of time, forgotten and insignificant in history.

These two others had another thing to tell them apart from the other legendaries, which was that they were not among the mutilated ones. And in fact, had anyone been there to compare them, he would have found the two distantly similar. Both of them had somewhat catlike heads and long tails with ovals on the ends, but one was smaller, pinkish-white and had a rabbit-like contrast in the length of the four legs, the front ones being short but the back ones long. It was breathing faintly. The other was larger, more human-shaped overall, had a light purplish gray body and a deep purple, muscular tail. It also had a large, drying wound in the middle of its non-moving chest.

After a while, the small one stirred. Consciousness slowly returned to the furred body. A leg twitched. Soon enough, its eyes opened.

“Mew?”

The small creature rose up and stared wide-eyed at the destruction.

The Legendary Pokémon levitated a meter or so into the air as its big, innocent-looking sapphire blue eyes fearfully scanned the area, as if looking for something. Then it seemed to have found what it was looking for; it stopped, kicked the air with both of its long hind legs and darted towards the left.

Terrified, the legendary looked upon a black, feline-like head with neon green markings. The same green shade was also on six long spikes which sprouted from the back of its head, three on each side. The left eye socket was empty; what had been the right eyeball was now merely a bloody mess.

The pink legendary’s disbelieving eyes stared at the head in horror, oblivious to the death all around. Silent tears filled them.

“Chalenor…” sounded a weak telepathic voice around the lifeless town.



Such description, wow, an excellent choice by fourteen-year-old me to spend a significant proportion of the dramatic prologue by word count on a very dull description of what Mew and Mewtwo look like even after being convinced by a reviewer to spend less time on describing exactly what Chalenor looks like

Chalenor is one of many, many fakemon legendaries featuring in this fic; be prepared. His spikes and markings change color with his emotions, according to the RGB system, with the red factor signifying anger, the green factor signifying excitement or tension, and the blue factor signifying sadness or grief; exactly one of the many revisions of the prologue states that they faded to blue at the end here, which is why they're illustrated that way despite only being described as green in the text here.

Versions of the prologue also differ on whether his head is just lying there on its own somewhere or if the body is nearby; this version makes it sound like the former, but the illustration shows the latter because honestly just the head lying there is just kind of a comical image.
 
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Negrek

Whole of the Moon
Staff
Don't know that I'll have much to say as this rolls along, but it's fun to see you reposting it!

Also, Chalenor's severed head lying alone in a bloody field is the most hilarious mental image.
 

Flyg0n

Flygon connoisseur
Pronouns
She/her
Partners
  1. flygon
  2. swampert
  3. ho-oh
  4. crobat
  5. orbeetle
I'll have you know this is glorious and beautifully describd, such striking and evocative prose :quag:

i cannot wait for the next chapter

(seriously though the drama levels here are so gloriously youthful in a genuinely cheesy-ish yet enjoyable way)
 
Chapter 1: The Pokémon on the Road

Dragonfree

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Staff
Location
Iceland
Pronouns
she/her/hers
Partners
  1. butterfree
  2. mightyena
  3. charizard
  4. custom/scyther-mia
Thank you, thank you

Without further ado, the long-awaited (for the last three days) actual chapter one, wherein we actually meet our protagonist (and immediately bring the narrative to a halt while he inner monologues for like seven straight chunky paragraphs). Exciting!


Chapter 1: The Pokémon on the Road​

2021-06-25-chapter1.png

Exactly 999 years later, it was a beautiful morning in the town of Sailance in northwest Ouen.

The trees’ branches swayed gently in the soft breeze, providing a constant, quiet rustle. The sun was rising, coloring the sky in a glorious, vibrant red. The air was comfortably warm and fresh. The only thing the scenery lacked was birdsong. That was also the only part of it that Mark Greenlet even remotely cared about.

He was short, thin, dark-haired, and currently on the way to school. A year ago, he would’ve been with his best friend Alex, chatting and feeling good. Now, Alex was probably somewhere with his Totodile having fun, while Mark was home in Sailance, walking alone, quiet and feeling miserable.

Mark’s parents were over-protective. There was no question about that. Almost all the other kids had been taken to Green Town last year to receive a Pokémon from Ash Ketchum. Out of the ones left, Mark was the only one who had been looking forward to it for his whole life, only to have his parents tell him that it was too dangerous. What did they know, anyway – they had lived in northwest Ouen for their whole lives and never been trainers.

The problem was that northwest Ouen had no Pokémon in it, for some reason that Pokémon experts had always debated about. The people who lived there were all lawyers or other rich people who wanted a life in peace without Pokémon and little kids asking them for a battle all day. And if there was anything that people who had lived there for more than thirty years did not understand, it was the concept of Pokémon training. Mark’s parents kept pointing out to him the possibility of getting a ‘real’ job. A programmer? How about a professional artist, since you draw so well? They would ask questions like that every time he mentioned that he wanted a Pokémon of his own, and were absolutely incapable of understanding how he felt when all his classmates and friends left.

Mark walked grudgingly into the school building. He hated it, especially the prison-like outwards appearance and that dull, rock-gray color of it. Mark loved living things; he had since he was little, and hated gray because it was so lifeless. The corridors were even duller, even grayer and even more lifeless, which only added to the depressing feeling of the whole building. To top it all, all the students were snappy and irritated, usually because they wanted to train Pokémon, and the teachers were all snappy and irritated too, simply because of the gloomy atmosphere that never left the building.

Mark’s first lesson on Thursdays was Battling Strategies, a branch of Pokémonology. He sighed as he sat down in front of the classroom. What a waste of time; he would never get the opportunity to use any battling strategies. Besides, whether it was because of his rather negative opinion on the classes or because he would rather spend them drawing on the back of his school papers, he was completely lousy at Pokémonology. For tests, he desperately sank himself into the textbook and sure enough, he managed to learn the bits of the text he found the most interesting pretty well. The problem was that they always asked about the most boring and uninteresting things, such as the level at which one Pokémon approximately evolved into another. This just made him despise Pokémonology even more.

He preferred Pokémon Communication classes by far – ‘Pokémonish’, as they were usually referred to in everyday speech. He was much better at languages than learning stupid things by heart, aside from finding Pokémon’s language very interesting in general. Those few things in Pokémonology that had sunk in over the years mostly had something to do with their remarkable language of syllables, bodily expressions and voice tones anyway.

One of the very best things in Pokémonish, too, was that in exams, live Pokémon were brought to classes and the kids got one Pokémon each to stage a normal casual chat with. At the end of the class, the Pokémon each gave the teacher a report on how well the students handled the conversation. Mark was very good at it, which he was deep inside rather proud of although he didn’t like to brag. He remembered the test last year where he had discussed Pokémon rights with a Vulpix. He smiled faintly at the thought; it was probably one of the best memories of his life. The two of them had had so much in common, and they had ended up in an exciting discussion about Pokémon rights that went way past the time the exam was supposed to take. The teacher had been forced to recall the Vulpix into his Pokéball in order to get Mark to leave the classroom. Since then, Mark had been daydreaming about one day sneaking out to Green Town on his own and getting a Vulpix; this one incident had bumped the red fox Pokémon to the ‘awesome’ section of his favorite Pokémon list.

But the class he enjoyed the most was Art. His Pokémon drawings received very positive comments by Miss Taintor, who was a professional artist along with her teaching. She was the type of person that was always honest and unafraid of telling somebody basically that their work sucked, but she mysteriously managed not to sound mean, however bad she thought it was. Mark was weird when it came to criticism; he subconsciously hated being criticized at all by other people, even if he completely agreed. That could be a good thing; in fact, it had been what caused him to suddenly decide to draw all day during the summer when he turned nine. When Miss Taintor saw his art in fourth grade, she had said, as he still remembered word for word: “Big improvement, young man – if there were more students like you in this stupid school, I’d be out of a job.” Probably another one of his very best memories – being congratulated by a harsh critic felt a lot better than the constant compliments from his parents and relatives who always pretended that everything he did was the greatest thing since sliced bread, and hearing a teacher call the school stupid made him feel like they were on the same team. After that, he had started to appreciate constructive criticism – he still didn’t technically like it, but it definitely helped.

He was pulled out of his thoughts by the sound of the bell ringing. Mark hated that sound; it hurt his ears. In his opinion, it should just be about as loud as the beep of his digital watch – at least everybody in the classroom could hear it quite clearly if he had forgotten to disable the alarm, and that one wasn't too loud even to his own sensitive ears.

At least, he heavily stood up and got in line with the few other kids in sixth grade who weren’t out training Pokémon. Mrs. Grodski, who taught Pokémonology, was a very grumpy old lady who wore the biggest glasses Mark had ever seen, spoke through her overly large nose and had developed a strong hatred for Mark for some reason he had never understood.

“Good morning, class,” she said sternly as everybody had taken their places standing behind their chairs.

“Good morning, Mrs. Grodski,” the class mumbled, apart from Mark, who said his usual “Good morning, Mrs. Grumpy.” He knew it was safe; it drowned completely in the rest of the class’s murmurs.

“Today,” Mrs. Grodski announced with a frown at how tired all the kids sounded, “we will be studying up on recoil attacks. Sit down and turn to page forty-two, please.”

Mark sighed and opened his book as Mrs. Grodski watched him carefully, but as soon as she began talking, he silently took out his binder and started to draw a Lugia on the back of an English assignment. It was his favorite Pokémon of all; he drew it all the time. Articuno, his second favorite, was a bit trickier to draw, but that didn’t make him like it any less. He loved all the legendary Pokémon. In fact, he was utterly obsessed with them. He had been fascinated by the ultimate beings of the world since he was little.

“And just what do you think you’re doing, Mr. Greenlet?” Mrs. Grodski’s voice snapped. He looked slowly up from his Lugia, partially covering it with his hand. Mark had a hard time hiding his laughter behind an innocent expression.

“I believe I’m drawing, Mrs. Grodski, unless I’m very much mistaken,” he said in a sarcastically polite voice. There were some snickers from behind.

“Quiet!” the teacher screeched. “And stop scribbling on your papers, least of all in my class!”

Mark grimaced at her as she returned to her desk, and made the textbook stand open on the table, shielding the binder and making him look like he was actually reading.

-------

Finally, the day was over. The sky was now slowly getting covered with depressing clouds. Mark went to play soccer with the fifth graders as usual, not really concentrating.

It was early May. May was something that Mark subconsciously connected to the bad knot in his stomach that formed every year as he watched all the lucky ten-year-olds drive away for Green Town at the end of the month to get a Pokémon. The kids he was with now would probably all leave on an adventurous Pokémon journey soon while he would be left at home, standing at some street corner and drawing the city with imaginary Rattata poking out of the dustbins, Taillow singing in the trees and maybe a lone Meowth staring hungrily at them from below.

The ball came flying towards him and he kicked it away very hard, not bothering to aim anywhere. Stupid Pokémon! Why couldn’t they just get their butts over to northwest Ouen!

Mark felt all the unfairness of the situation load up behind his eyes and attempting to get out in liquid form.

Oh, no, you don’t, you’re staying in there, he ordered, screwing his eyes shut for a second and opening them again. He felt a strong urge to be alone.

He ended up leaving the game and going home to sulk.

The weather was now gray and gloomy, fitting Mark’s mood perfectly; the clouds were thickening and it would likely start raining soon. He quickened his pace as he turned down his home street. When he was just about to cross it, he heard something. Something that came from the bushes his back was currently turned to.

He jumped, twisting around immediately. Dead quiet, he waited for a few seconds. Then it happened again – a branch moved and a twig cracked.

Very slowly and carefully, his heart beating like a drum in his chest, he stepped up to the bush and pulled the branches apart. To his great disappointment, there was nothing there at all. He sighed. He had been hoping he had found the first Pokémon of northwest Ouen… maybe a Vulpix. He grinned at the thought, but then shook his head.

“Come on,” he said bitterly to himself, “stop dreaming… you’re never going to become a Pokémon trainer.”

He ran across the street. It was starting to rain.

-------

After a very normal, quiet dinner with his parents while watching Bravo Trainer, he sat down in the sofa in the living room and stared outside through the blurry, wet glass in the window facing the street.

He stopped dead.

There was definitely something moving out there. Something… reddish?

The word ‘Vulpix’ instantly crossed his mind, although he knew it was ridiculous to assume that the starter Pokémon of his dreams had suddenly appeared in front of his house. Mark leapt to the front door, into his boots and pulled the door open.

There was indeed a Pokémon there, but it wasn’t a Vulpix. It was an orange, cute-looking bipedal lizard; one of those he had used to point at in picture books when he was little, announcing that it was a Fire-type in order to make his parents nod appreciatively and tell him he was really smart remembering it all.

But this was a real, living Charmander, not a picture in a book, and this fact made the Pokémon seem scary and foreign. It was lying limply in the middle of the road, and the flame that was supposed to be on the tip of its tail was merely a small, bright glow. That was still enough to indicate that it was alive.

At first, Mark just stood there dumbly, staring, but then he was knocked to his senses by the sound of a car. He ran out into the road, picked up the Pokémon and hurried inside with it, already soaked wet by the downpour.

Mark slammed the door shut and started fanning the Charmander’s tail flame stupidly with his hand in order to revive it, with little success.

“Mom! I – I found a Charmander on the road!” he panted.

“Really?” sounded his mother’s voice absent-mindedly from upstairs. “Very nice, but why don’t you just go into your room, dear?”

“Parents,” Mark hissed at nobody but himself and the unconscious Pokémon in his arms. Then he yelled: “Aren’t you listening? I FOUND A FREAKING CHARMANDER!”

He heard his mother, clearly thinking this was some kind of a game, sigh and stand up before coming down the stairs with red, tired eyes and a cup of coffee in her hands.

Crash! She dropped the cup and it fell to the floor, shattering into a thousand pieces and spilling coffee all over.

“Wha - what is that thing?” she then squeaked, sounding like this was the first time she saw a Pokémon close-up, which it probably was.

“It’s a Charmander!” Mark snapped. “A Pokémon! And it’s dying!”

“Oh God!” she uttered out, speechless. “John!”

“Not now,” Mark’s father mumbled from upstairs, sounding half-asleep. She dug her fingers deep into her curly mess of blond hair, repeating “Oh, what can we do? What can we do?” in a panicky voice.

Mark rolled his eyes, sighed and started waving his hand again in an attempt to get the Charmander’s flame burning properly. Slowly as the tail tip dried, the flame was restored. Mark breathed in relief, half because the Charmander was saved, half because his hand was getting stiff from all the fanning.

“Is… is it okay?” his mother asked carefully as Mark shook his entire arm to loosen his hand muscles.

“Yeah,” he said and smiled. “But I think it needs rest. Er… I guess you should go and get some old cloth so I can put it in my bed, otherwise it’ll burn the house down.”

His mother went back upstairs and got some old clothes of Mark he didn’t fit into anymore. He took them to his bedroom and placed them in the corner of his bed, laying the Charmander gently on top of them. The tail flame burned peacefully. Mark wondered who originally had the idea of making clothes flame-proof; it had always seemed very pointless to him, but now it sure came in handy.

He picked up the book about the Johto legendary Pokémon on his desk and started to read, keeping an eye on the lizard. He was starting to calm down and think reasonably. Of course, this Charmander wasn’t wild. It obviously was trained. Charmander were very rare Pokémon from Kanto; how would one suddenly be in Ouen, let alone the northwest? Its trainer was probably looking for it. Maybe he’d get a reward for finding it? Or maybe, just maybe… it had been released on purpose?

Mark grinned, looking forward to next morning.



Hope you all enjoy the strong "and then everybody stood up and clapped!!" vibes of that school scene, as well as 'Mark tells you about why constructive criticism is good'.

There is a whole lot that bugs me about how the fic handles Pokémon early on. They are sapient people and there's a bunch of worldbuilding about why they're equals and so on, and that's stuff I'd already decided and not something I made up later, but somehow despite this I managed to insistently not treat Charmander like an actual person in these earliest chapters, such as in how Mark here at the end thinks entirely in terms of the intentions of Charmander's hypothetical trainer and not in terms of Charmander himself even potentially having any agency. Please disregard that nonsense, it's weird and wrong and out of character.

Fun TQftL trivia: that weird random worldbuilding bit at the end about clothes being fireproof? That happened because I used the wrong English word in a previous version, and when a reader or two scratched their heads over it, I inexplicably doubled down and made this up instead of just admitting that I, a fourteen-year-old speaking English as a second language, had gotten this single word wrong. An insight into the mind of fourteen-year-old me.
 
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Chapter 2: The Book

Dragonfree

Moderator
Staff
Location
Iceland
Pronouns
she/her/hers
Partners
  1. butterfree
  2. mightyena
  3. charizard
  4. custom/scyther-mia
It's time! Are you ready to hear about all my eleven-year-old self's fake legendaries, in a chapter where Mark sits there reading about them in a book, yet somehow I manage to also stuff in a bunch of separate absolutely wild nonsense? Get hype.



Chapter 2: The Book​

2021-06-26-chapter2-small.png

When Mark woke up, the Charmander was still asleep, but this time curled up with the tail flame burning peacefully beside its head. Mark carefully placed his hand onto the Pokémon’s back; it was warm and seemed to be breathing normally. He gave a faint smile, dressed quickly and then tiptoed into the kitchen, where he was greeted by his parents’ serious faces and folded arms.

“Mark,” his father sighed, “we need to talk.”

-------

“Why not??” Mark shouted across the table, crushing his cornflakes violently. He couldn’t help noticing that despite his parents being very much unlike each other in outwards appearance – his father having black hair and being short just like him, but his mother a tall, thin blonde with big, toadlike eyes – they managed to look remarkably similar when they were both of the same mind.

“It’s very simple, Mark; it’s dangerous out there,” his father sighed.

“So what? I’d have a Pokémon for my protection!” Mark said eagerly.

His mother replied quietly: “But what if your Pokémon turns against you?”

“That… that… just… doesn’t happen!” Mark said lamely. In fact, he had no idea, but he would soon learn it, if only they would stop getting in his way.

“Are you sure?” his mother asked kindly.

“Well, no, not really, but…”

“See, we just want to keep you safe,” she said in a voice Mark recognized as the one she used when she was trying to be convincing. Needless to say, Mark had become completely immune to it over those eleven years.

“But, oh, Mom…”

“Besides,” his father interrupted, “we’ve yet to check all the reported lost Pokémon.”

Mark didn’t say anything; he was aware of that, but he was still hoping somebody had released the Charmander on purpose. His father stood slowly up, not taking his eyes off Mark and went to the computer in the corner (which was mainly used to find recipes online). Mark quickly jumped to read over his shoulder as he searched the official lost and found Pokémon database for ‘Charmander’.

A broad grin spread through Mark’s face as the results appeared: two lost Charmander, both of them in Kanto.

His father sighed. “That does not mean you’re about to go on a journey.”

Mark was going to protest, but was interrupted by a sound:

“Char?”

The little lizard carefully stepped into the kitchen and looked curiously around.

“Oh, it’s awake,” Mark’s father groaned.

“I’m not an ‘it’,” said the Charmander, offended, at least if Mark’s knowledge of Pokémonish was as accurate as ever. The Pokémon’s voice, though rather high-pitched on human scale, was masculine.

Mark turned to his father with and said in a scolding tone, “He’s a he, dad. Should I have said ‘Oh, it’s awake’ when I came in here and saw you?”

“What’s going on?” asked Charmander, puzzled.

“We’re arguing over whether you will go psycho and kill me,” said Mark and shot a ‘what-weirdoes-those-adults-can-be’ look back at his parents. Charmander raised an eyebrow.

“Look, hon, that’s not quite the way we put it,” Mark’s mother began, but Charmander interrupted loudly:

“What am I doing here, anyway?”

“Er,” was all Mark’s father said.

“I brought you in here when you fell unconscious on the road in the rain yesterday,” said Mark, leaning down to Charmander’s level so the lizard wouldn’t have to look so far up. “And the reason we’re arguing is that I was… uh… wondering…” Suddenly he felt like abandoning the idea; it seemed so ridiculous when he was starting to say it aloud.

“If you can be my trainer?” Charmander finished for him, sensing that Mark wasn’t about to continue. Mark nodded nervously; the Pokémon just smiled. “Sure, why not, since you saved me and all… I need a new trainer anyway…”

“What’s your name?” Mark immediately asked, feeling comfortably warm and light.

“I don’t really have one, just call me Charmander,” he answered cheerfully. Both of them looked hopefully up at Mark’s parents, wearing the broadest grins they could manage.

“No way,” said his father, folding his arms. Charmander’s expression dropped.

“Maybe I should just leave, then,” he said emptily, turning around.

“No, wait… you can stay here and all… just as a pet or something!” Mark’s father called after him, not wanting to send the poor thing out to die in the next downpour. Charmander turned slowly back to them.

“Do you trust me more here than out there?”

“It’s just that...” Mark’s father started, but his wife interrupted:

“You can’t deny that there are dangerous Pokémon out there – and you’re too small to handle them if they do attack.”

“But they’re usually nowhere near Sailance!” Mark argued.

“Usually,” his father emphasized.

Charmander couldn’t think of anything to say – it looked like his and Mark’s silent plan wasn’t working.

Yet.

-------

For a few days, Charmander was a pet. Mark and him always went to bed very early, but set Mark’s digital watch to beep at two AM or so, and then in the dark bedroom with Charmander’s tail flame as the only light source, they discussed ways to get out on a journey. Just for fun, they started imagining this was the dungeon in the castle of two evil lords who kept them imprisoned, inventing loads of ideas of how to escape, each more absurd than the other.

“I think we must use our cunningness for this,” Mark whispered, leaning closer to Charmander. “You will set the castle on fire and while they burn, we will run and tell the world of their dictatorship so that peace can reign in Ouen again.”

They both snickered.

“Hey, Mark…” said Charmander thoughtfully, “I think I have an idea. A real idea…”

-------

Mark walked into the kitchen in the morning, his face expressionless.

“I don’t want breakfast, Mom,” he said. “I’m not hungry.”

“What? Why?”

“I just don’t think there’s any point being alive anymore.”

Crash. A second cup went to waste. His mother’s expression was so priceless he almost burst out laughing, but he resisted it; he had to keep up the depressed face.

“Mark! Don’t say that!” she squeaked.

“It’s just… my friends are all gone,” he went on.

“But how do we fix that, dear?” she asked in a worried tone.

“I just wish I could go and meet up with them, on my own journey.” Mark immediately realized that the smile that followed was far too hopeful. And too un-depressed. His mother sighed.

“You’re not funny, Mark. I mean… do you even have any idea how much that cup cost?”

“A lot, if I know you correctly,” Mark muttered, well aware that the cup was just a random thing she turned her attention to because she had been very upset. Neither of them said anything for a while, until his mother sighed again.

“Are you that desperate to go on that journey of yours?”

“Of course I am!” Mark replied, his expression brightening up. “Mom, Charmander and I have been secretly thinking up plans at night! We’ve been imagining you’re evil dictators keeping us inside a dungeon and planning our escape in the middle of the night!”

“And,” said Charmander’s threatening voice as the lizard Pokémon entered the room, “we will do that every night from now on and there’s no way for you to stop us.”

Mark’s mother put up a weird expression halfway between a smile and a hopeless look, and then said: “You’re incredible, boys – I think there’s no way to keep you in here for very long before you think of a way to force us to let you out.”

“YES!” Charmander shouted.

“WHOOOOO!!!!” Mark yelled, giving his Pokémon a high five. He hugged his mother tightly.

“Thanks, mom.”

She just hugged him back, tears in her eyes.

-------

Things were being packed into an old red and blue backpack that looked like it could burst at any time. Mark’s father was not happy, but he had ended up giving in to his wife, who was suddenly all for it like she had never thought otherwise. Mark and Charmander bounced around the house in a wild celebration-dance. They gave him a tidy sum of money to buy things for. Finally, he set off with Charmander by his side.

“Bye, Dad! Bye, Mom! I promise I won’t get myself killed!” Mark’s mother smiled through the tears as he waved. Then he turned and started running.

The gyms in Ouen had been arranged so that the recommended first gym was in Cleanwater City, a big one which was conveniently not that far from Sailance, then went in a spiral inwards until the last gym in Acaria City in the heart of the continent. Cleanwater was near the edge of the Pokémon-inhabited part of Ouen, built near a mysterious lake which was famous for being so clear that the bottom was always visible in detail, despite being the second-deepest lake in the whole of Ouen. It was therefore called “The Lake of Purity”.

But Mark was not headed to Cleanwater City yet. He was going to the Sailance Library to get a book about Pokémon training.

Mark, despite all his interest in Pokémon, was a rookie when it came to the trainer career itself. He knew how it worked, of course, and the rules of the Pokémon League, but frankly he was rather clueless about the rest. His parents knew no more, seeing as they had never been trainers, so they had advised him to go to the library. There had to be some kind of a book explaining all that stuff. He had just never looked for one since he never thought he’d need it.

The library was a huge, bright white building in the middle of the town. The walls were decorated with carvings of various Pokémon; Mark’s favorite was located over the door and was a big Articuno flying to the left, its tail feather swishing behind it and looking amazingly alive. As always when Mark entered the library, he bowed his head slightly as he looked at the magnificent bird. The automatic door slowly slid open before him, and he prepared to walk inside when he remembered that Pokémon weren’t allowed in the library.

“Sorry, Charmander, you’ll have to wait outside,” he said guiltily. “I won’t be long.”

“No problem,” said Charmander, smiling. “It’s not like anybody will kidnap me or anything.”

Mark eyed a few people staring at the Pokémon like a miracle, and pride started spreading around his chest. To think of it… he was a trainer.

He smiled back at his Pokémon friend and then entered the building.

The search computers along with a few shelves of paperbacks with huge titles greeted him, along with the familiar smell of books that Mark had always loved. But he ignored them and walked right to the elevators, as this book would be on the second floor, which was devoted to Pokémon training. As he entered the lift, an endless row of Marks stared back at him from the mirrors on the sides. All of them turned to the buttons at the same time, and all of them managed to slip their fingers between buttons two and three, accidentally highlighting both as the elevator started ascending.

It stopped on the second floor and a tall, thin young man with a suitcase stepped in, holding a book. Curious as to why such a man would be reading something on Pokémon training, Mark took a peek at the title. It was something stupid about Pokémon battles being a bad influence on kids; however, Mark completely forgot to get out of the lift until he discovered that the door had closed and they were starting to go up again. The elevator came to a halt and the door opened. Mark looked uncomfortably up at the man, who looked out of the book and seemed to wonder why Mark hadn’t exited yet. He hated to be stared at by strangers; that feeling pushed him out through the door to enter the floor about Pokémon in general.

This was the floor he usually stopped at when he went to the library. Every so often, he would return his books and take out new ones, most of which were always about legendary Pokémon. The shelf containing those books was located… right in front of him.

He had automatically walked straight up to that shelf when he’d exited the elevator. And as he had so often seen that shelf, he immediately noticed a new book that made his heart pound faster. On the black spine, golden, curly letters formed the title:

The Ouen Legends

It was an interesting fact that while all the legendary Pokémon of Kanto, Johto and Hoenn were well known and their existence definite, most of the Ouen ones appeared to be very shy. Many scientists didn’t even believe they were real. All photos were too blurry to tell if the creatures on them were anything more than normal Pokémon. No Pokédex data recorded. A ton of reported sightings with no evidence to support them. Hence, Mark could well imagine why it would be hard to write a book about them; at least it had to be, considering that he had never seen one before.

That fact only made his need to read this book even more overwhelming. He felt drawn to it like a fly to a lightbulb. Barely even realizing what he was doing, he extended his hand and grabbed the book with a firm grip, slowly drawing it out of the shelf. What surprised him was that the book was dusty, like it had been there for years.

Mark shook his head and, with the book in his hands, walked over to a big, fluffy and comfortable-looking green couch. He flung himself into it, examining the cover illustration. At the top were six dragons in different colors, the so-called Color Dragons. Below them, eight unicorns. At the very bottom… Mewtwo?

Yup, he was sure of it. The whitish-purple anthro cat-like shape was unmistakably that of the first super-clone that had ever been created and had gotten such experiments banned. A Kanto legendary.

What’s Mewtwo doing on the cover of a book about the Ouen legendaries? Mark thought. He looked better at Mewtwo’s shape. The eyes were closed, but looked creepily open all the same. It’s that highlight, said Mark’s artist eye. The shading gives that effect; the highlight on the eyelid looks distantly like a pupil. But it was still scary to look at closed eyes that seemed to be watching. Had the cover artist drawn it like that on purpose?

Either way, Mewtwo wasn’t supposed to be there at all. Mark scanned his head for a reason why Mewtwo would be on the cover of a book about the Ouen legendaries, but found none.

He shrugged and opened the book. He flicked past the title pages, leaned backwards and sank himself into the book.

It started with the Color Dragons. The left page had a watercolor illustration of them, with their names written near them.

Lidreki was small and cute with silver scales. What caught Mark’s attention about it, however, was that somehow, the scales broke the light into the colors of the rainbow where the light shone directly at them. Lidreki technically wasn’t one of the real Color Dragons; it evolved into them. That made it no less of a legendary, though, as it was just as shrouded in mystery as its adult forms. The Color Dragons themselves were all larger than Lidreki; they were dragons with big, clawed legs, small arms and broad wings spreading out from their shoulders.

Dragoreen, the Dragon of the Poor, was a metallic green, feminine-looking dragon and didn’t have any outstanding features over the others. She glared hatefully at Preciure, the Dragon of Wealth, opposite her on the page; he was a golden male with silver spikes lined down his back. He returned the gaze, full of loathing.

The crimson dragon above Preciure was a female: Raudra, the Dragon of Fire. She shook her golden mane, facing her back at her brother Dracobalt, the Dragon of Water. He was deep blue in color, with a fin down his entire back, and shot a sideways glance at Raudra, clearly not too keen on her either.

The last two were Puragon, the White Dragon, and Venoir, the Black Dragon. Puragon was a pearly white female with four narrow crystalline horns, looking serenely at the viewer. Venoir, on the other hand, was pitch-black in color, a male, and had dark purple, bull-like horns. His eyes were creepily red, staring hungrily at his sister across the page.

Mark smiled, his gaze moving over to the right page.

THE COLOR DRAGONS

The legend says that an ancient, powerful dragon Pokémon named Vaxil, the Dragon of the Rainbow, laid six eggs and hid them where no living creature could harm them. One she dropped into the crater of a volcano, one she hid at the bottom of a deep lake, one she secured in a dark cave, one she buried in snow, and two she took with her to her own cave, filled with gold and treasures.

The first egg to hatch was one of the eggs that Vaxil had taken with her. As the other eggs would later, it hatched into a Lidreki. He was greedy and loved nothing more than burying himself in his mother’s gold.

The second egg to hatch was the one in the volcano. That Lidreki was female, and she loved the lava, fed on it and never felt the need to leave the volcano’s crater. The third egg was the one in the dark cave. It was a male, and he fed on poisonous Pokémon that lurked there in the dark, without ever finding out that there was anything outside the cave.

The fourth egg that hatched was the one in the snow. The young Lidreki was a female, and slowly became oblivious to the cold. The fifth egg was the one at the bottom of the lake. A male, he adapted to underwater life, hunted fish and rarely went out of the lake.

Finally, the sixth egg hatched – the other egg that Vaxil had taken with her. It was a female, and a deep rivalry immediately started between her and her older brother. They hated each other, and one day, he fought her out of the cave, and she sought her brothers and sisters to help resisting him.

She went to her sister in the volcano and to her brother in the lake. She went to her brother in the cave and to her sister in the snow. She lived with all of them for a while, and told them all – because Vaxil had told her – where the other ones were hidden, and asked them to come and help against her oldest brother. They agreed, more to see their mother than to help their sister, but as they traveled, they developed a deep hatred for each other, and upon their arrival in Vaxil’s cave, a fight broke out. The oldest brother fought the youngest sister, the sister from the volcano fought her brother from the lake, and the brother in the cave fought his sister in the snow. Vaxil attempted to stop them, but they merely fought her back, and in the end Vaxil threw herself off the cliff to her death. The siblings were horrified, each blaming another, but slowly they became enveloped in a white glow and evolved, each to one of the Color Dragons depending on their habitats from birth.

Due to their mother’s death, they decided not to keep fighting and let each other leave in peace, and supposedly they still lurk out there, desiring only superiority over the opposite sibling.

All of them have special abilities. Raudra, Dracobalt, Puragon and Venoir have immense powers of fire, water, ice and poison respectively, but Dragoreen’s attacks are independent of the target’s weaknesses or resistances, and Preciure’s golden scales can repel any attack well and effectively.


Mark turned past some pages consisting of the few things he already knew, interviews with people who claimed to have seen them and some old paintings of the Color Dragons, and finally reached the next chapter.

The left page again had a watercolor illustration. It showed the unicorns all together, dashing towards the viewer. The first one, Waraider, was white with a bony, swirled horn and broad, feathered wings extending from his shoulder blades. Emphire, to Waraider’s left, was also white but had a flaming mane and tail, a golden horn and fiery wings of some sort flapping at her sides.

Next was Seasar, who was dark blue in color. He didn’t appear to have a tail or mane at all; instead, a stream of water flowed smoothly down his neck, along his whole back and then gracefully dropped down behind him like a waterfall, only to dissolve into thin air before reaching the ground. Although hard to see, he had wispy, formless, vaporous wings.

Electhrone was the fourth one, to the left of Seasar. He was whitish-yellow, but sparks of electricity appeared to replace his mane and tail. The horn was a bit crooked; odd, very straight, pointed feathers formed his two wings.

Natruler was next; her fur was off-white, but where the mane and tail should have been, grass and leaves sprouted right out of her skin. Long, feather-shaped leaves formed into her thin wings, and the horn looked almost wooden. At Natruler’s side was an icily bluish-white one, Freezaroy. Her silky mane and tail produced snow that spiraled after her, blown away by the flapping of her giant wings. The wings were made of thin icicles rather than feathers. So was the horn on her forehead.

The last two were Mysticrown and Darkhan. Mysticrown’s tail and mane were magenta, and a big, purple gem replaced the horn. Similar smaller ones glistened in various places on her body, most noticeably on all of her white wing feathers. Darkhan, on the other hand, was pitch-black with leathery, bat-like wings and some sort of thick black smoke forming his mane and tail.

Mark turned to the information page.

WARAIDER’S HERD

Waraider the Normal-type leads the group of his special-typed counterparts; unlike the Color Dragons, all of them supposedly keep close together wherever they go. According to the legend, their being together keeps the world balanced, and should they ever be separated, chaos will reign until they reunite.

There have been unusually many reported sightings of the herd, but neither photos nor Pokédex data exist to prove any of them.


Mark skipped past a lot of pages, just for the sake of finding out what he was the most curious about: why Mewtwo was in that book. He thought he remembered one more legendary – if he knew correctly, one of the Ouen legendaries was in fact confirmed to be real – but the name escaped him at the moment.

He looked at the illustration first as he had done before. Again, its eyes were closed in that creepy ‘watching’ manner that had been on the cover picture. Mark couldn’t help wondering why it was drawn like that, though. He would’ve believed Mewtwo’s eyes would usually be open.

The answer was on the right page, where the title – partially – explained it:

CHALETWO

“Oh, yeah,” Mark muttered to himself. “That was the name.” He definitely remembered Chaletwo as one of the legendary Pokémon – however, he didn’t believe he had ever seen any pictures of it. At least he thought he’d remember if there was an Ouen legendary that looked exactly like Mewtwo.

He started reading the text.

Chaletwo is the only one of the Ouen legendaries whose existence is definite and confirmed. He appears every year at the exact same time and place: 4:26:45 PM on the 25th of May, just outside Green Town. It is thanks to the tourist attention that sprouted from Chaletwo’s annual appearances that Green Town became so big.

The first time that a human witnessed him, he supposedly said telepathically: “Do not fear. I am Chaletwo and do not intend to harm you nor any other living thing. I only wish to come here once a year and have a quick look around the world.”

Nobody knows why he bears such a striking resemblance to Mewtwo, who is in fact a Kanto legendary (although that is arguable, considering that he is man-created).


Well, at least it wasn’t just something that Mark had never found out.

Due to Chaletwo’s limited availability, Mewtwo has been asked about this by a reporter.

“Do you think I wouldn’t like to know?” he answered before teleporting away. “He said he didn’t wish to tell, least of all me. He wouldn’t reveal anything else. Stop asking.”

People wonder whether Chaletwo might be another super-clone, backing that up with the name he after all introduced himself with (which ends in the trademark “-two” of a genetically modified Pokémon clone), but experts doubt it.

“He’s not just a simple second Mew clone,” Ash Ketchum explains. “I’ve studied both of them carefully, and I’m telling you that every last hair on their bodies is the exact same. Technically, Mewtwo’s creators could have made an additional one with almost the exact same genetic code, resulting in a clone that’s the same, but face it, according to all sources we have, Mewtwo destroyed the lab and everything in it, which would have had to include another embryo if one had been there.”

Chaletwo differs from Mewtwo in two aspects: his eyes will destroy or kill anything they are pointed at except his own eyelids, and Pokédexes record a Dark element in him in addition to the Psychic that Mewtwo has. Pokédexes also classify him as the most powerful Pokémon in the world, tied with the Kanto legendary Molzapart.


Molzapart. Mark, obviously, could have recited many books’ worth of information about it if he wanted. It was not confirmed to exist, but said to have been created when Mew found the legendary Mist Stone, which was rumoured to have the power to evolve any Pokémon at all, whether it could naturally evolve or not. Mew made a decision to attack the stone in order to prevent Pokémon from stumbling across it and evolving into scarily powerful creatures, and called the Legendary Birds of Kanto for assistance. But even their attacks combined could not destroy such a magical object, and instead they found themselves facing the “evolved form” of their attacks: a large, magnificent, golden bird with a burning flame on its head, brightly blue wing feathers, a long, dark blue tail feather, huge bright orange talons, and the psychic powers to severely injure its accidental creators with one blast. Then Molzapart flew away and trained until his power had no match.

Apart from Chaletwo, apparently.

Mark checked his watch, discovering for how long he had been reading, and jumped up, quickly returning the book to the shelf as he ran down to meet up with Charmander again.



So, you may have noticed the incredibly contrived sequence of events that leads to Mark reading this book. Is it destiny? Some force compelling him to read the book at just the right time? ...Nah. There is absolutely nothing special about this book. It was literally just an excuse to infodump about my amazing fake legendaries. In one of the revisions I for some reason decided I wanted to insert some vaguely implied destiny here, and then somehow in this revision I decided I was going to remove all that except I somehow managed to make the events here even more contrived in the process. I have no idea how I managed this.

This chapter is stuffed with ridiculousness, but in particular, what exactly Mark knows and doesn't know about his own world and region is hilariously strange. You don't even get to know the half of it here, but I'm going to just point out that he's apparently barely aware Chaletwo even exists, but it turns out later that the starter Pokémon giveaway he's been longing to go to is literally at a festival built around Chaletwo's yearly public appearance. I cannot.

yes this fic literally contains a legendary bird hybrid created from a fake urban legend item in R/B/Y, it is going to get wilder than this
 
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Chapter 3: Vuiiii!

Dragonfree

Moderator
Staff
Location
Iceland
Pronouns
she/her/hers
Partners
  1. butterfree
  2. mightyena
  3. charizard
  4. custom/scyther-mia
Another short one, wherein I get very melodramatic for some one-off POV shifts, Mark obtains his second Pokémon in a bit of a déjà vu, and I attempt to introduce some worldbuilding.



Chapter 3: Vuiiii!​

2021-07-03-chapter3-small.png

When Mark was out of the library, Charmander was sitting on the stone steps, his head resting against the shiny wall and his eyes closed peacefully. Basically he looked absolutely adorable, attracting quite a few ‘awww’s from passers-by.

“Are you asleep?” Mark asked cautiously, poking Charmander’s shoulder. The Pokémon jumped, eyes opening wide.

“Wha… no, I was just… er, in deep thought,” he replied awkwardly.

“Right,” said Mark and grinned. “Shouldn’t we move on?”

Charmander stood up, and they walked out of the town while dark clouds gathered above them.

-------

Keep running, keep running…

Four small paws beat the ground soundlessly.

He had no idea where he was running, nor did he care.

It didn’t matter.

Why would it? He had better things to worry about.

A bright white lightning flashed with a terrible roar of thunder. He shrieked in fear, turned around and ran even faster in the other direction.

Small drops of water started falling, trickling down his beautifully light brown fur coat and soaking the soft, creamy-colored ruff around his neck. He shivered, but kept running.

-------

It had started to rain. Charmander’s tail flame was spouting thick steam; Mark glanced worriedly at it every now and then as they walked down the road south to Cleanwater.

“Are you going to be OK?”

“Yeah, I’ve been through more rain,” said Charmander casually, obviously referring to the one Mark had saved him out of.

“If you think so,” said Mark doubtfully, still keeping an eye on his friend.

-------

Should I give up all hope?

No…

It… can’t be…


He was far too exhausted to run, but the knowledge that with every passing second his greatest fear was more likely to have come true drove him on.

His forepaw hit a small rock hidden in the wet grass. He tried to keep his balance, but tumbled over. He got up right away and despite the pain nailing his left front paw, he endured it and kept going at the same pace.

-------

“Hey, Charmander, have you ever thought about evolution?”

“Yeah, why?” Charmander asked.

“Do you want to?” Mark rephrased his question.

“Huh?”

“Do you want to evolve?”

“Why are you asking?” Charmander said, puzzled, looking up at Mark.

“Shouldn’t I ask you?” Mark asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Of course you should,” Charmander said, looking down. “But most trainers wouldn’t. That’s why I was surprised. My old trainer wouldn’t.” He spat the last words in a resentful tone.

“Yeah, that’s one thing,” Mark said thoughtfully. “Did your trainer release you?”

“No… not really…” said Charmander faintly.

“What happened?”

“Well… he battled a girl with a Quilava once. Didn’t use me for it; he never used me at all. But she beat him and he showed her my ball, lied that I was level 15 like her Quilava was, and asked to trade. She bought it; she didn’t really appear to like her Quilava all that much for whatever reason. They just did an unofficial trade by handing each other the Pokéballs, and then my trainer quietly made himself disappear. Then it appears that when the girl registered me to her Pokédex and found out I was level five, she tossed the ball to the ground in anger and ran after my old trainer, so I popped out of the ball and was left there. Then I just walked off in a random direction, and ended up in that monsoon.”

“Oh…” was all Mark could say. He paused, then added: “He must’ve been a selfish little brat.”

“Yup,” said Charmander and sighed.

-------

He was beyond exhausted. He was even starting to slow down. He tried to order his legs to speed up again, but they refused and answered simply by collapsing under him. He helplessly crawled a bit on through the tall grass, and to his horror he realized that he was lost either way.

It was too painful…

He eyed the road and the cars just a few meters away and dragged himself toward it.

-------

“Hey,” Charmander suddenly exclaimed, “did you hear something?”

“No,” said Mark.

“It was just, you know, a small rustle…”

“Like a Pokémon?” Mark suggested hopefully.

“Yeah…”

Mark stopped and looked around the dry grass on both sides of the road. Something moved, just a few inches from the roadside.

He carefully came a bit nearer and saw that it was a little brown furball with long, rabbit-like ears. A thick, creamy ruff covered its neck and a bushy tail extended from its backside. It was flailing around a bit, apparently trying to crawl but not really being successful.

“An Eevee!” Mark shouted so loudly that the Pokémon made a desperate, yet unsuccessful attempt to get up and run away before fainting with fear. He quickly realized the mistake of his over-excitement, and started thinking about his next problem.

“Why do I have to run across an Eevee just when I don’t have any Pokéballs?” he moaned. “Just my luck…”

Exactly then, he caught a glimpse of something in the grass, a few meters away from the Eevee. It was a familiar red and white sphere…

He couldn’t believe it. A Pokéball was lying there, exactly when he needed it.

He quickly walked over to it, bent down and picked up the ball. It felt cold and metallic; a few grass blades were glued to its wet surface by the water. But it would work just as well. He took aim at the Pokémon.

“Pokéball, GO!” he yelled, just like he had seen on TV.

“What do you think you’re doing??”

Charmander jumped up and punched the ball away in the air so it missed its target.

“What was that for?” Mark groaned.

“What was it for?” Charmander snapped, raising up his tiny thumb. “One: He’s unconscious.” Charmander raised his forefinger, continuing: “Two: He’s obviously too young to battle at all, don’t you see how small he is?” He raised the third miniscule finger. “And three: He’s in an absolutely terrible state; he’s obviously been through hell before we came here.” He lowered his hand firmly. “Don’t you know the Agreement? If a Pokémon is caught while unable to put up a fair fight for its freedom, it is free to ignore or even attack its trainer until released back into the wild.”

Mark blushed; of course he knew this. The Agreement between Pokémon and humans clearly stated that Pokémon must only be caught while they were still in proper condition to battle. He had forgotten all about it in the shock of seeing one of the most sought-after Pokémon in the world.

“Also,” Charmander went on with folded arms, “he’s young enough for me to strongly suspect that he shouldn’t be wandering around on his own. I think he must have lost his mother.”

Mark now felt terrible about his foolish longing to throw a metal ball at the little thing. It could’ve died; what was he thinking?

“A male, you say?” Mark asked.

“Yeah.” Charmander nodded.

Mark slowly walked towards the fainted Pokémon, bent down and touched the fur on its head. It was soft, thick and very smooth, but with a few twigs tangled in it. He brushed them off, and the Eevee’s body twitched a bit.

Carefully, he picked the Pokémon up. Its body was warm; Mark felt weird holding it. He stroked a few times over the fur on its head with some soothing words, and to his delight found that Eevee’s eyes opened a bit.

“Vuii!” he shrieked and weakly struggled to get away, but Mark held him tightly. Eevee seemed to find the warmth from a living body to be somewhat comforting and in the end just curled up in his arms.

For a few seconds, Mark just stood there as if in a trance, but then snapped out of it.

“We’d better hurry to Cleanwater to get him help,” he said to Charmander before breaking into a run. The lizard followed on his heels.

A lone Pokéball was left by the roadside.



Ah, yes, the chapter where I establish the existence of the Agreement governing Pokémon-human relations, while also making Mark out to be very special and remarkable as a trainer for... asking his Pokémon if he wants to evolve. Jesus. The cringe is real.

The explanation of how the Pokémon needs to be capable of putting up a fair fight for its freedom is also pretty weird and uncomfortable, implying that the Pokémon would in fact be "fighting for its freedom", and thus that if it loses that fight it's no longer free. Nonsense, bad, uncanonical, please ignore.

Charmander telling Mark off for trying to catch Eevee is legit my favorite thing that happens in the early chapters, though.
 
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Flyg0n

Flygon connoisseur
Pronouns
She/her
Partners
  1. flygon
  2. swampert
  3. ho-oh
  4. crobat
  5. orbeetle
Okay so this story almost feels like really really high-tier, subtle satire/parody fic. Like elite tier. The writing is still good enough to justify it feeling genuine and some might read it and just think its a story, but people familiar in the fandom and pokemon... it just takes on a whole new meaning.

Truly this is a magnificent work of art.

The random happenstance of events, the dramatic declaration to his parents that he really badly wants to go on an adventure, the super info dump on the wonderful legendaries (which, I might add, i adore) and then oh look! an Eevee.

Even an abandoned charmander trope. (Seriously whats wrong with people and adbandoning fire starters???)

Also 'Chaletwo' aka "Hey just looking around" like... I laughed at this so hard. Also the casual line about reporters just hitting up Mewtwo for a fluff piece and he's like ">:{ go away". Not to mention casual mentions of Ash Ketchum, fascinating.

This is genuinely charming and funny to read and I'm already having a ball.
 
Chapter 4: Cleanwater City

Dragonfree

Moderator
Staff
Location
Iceland
Pronouns
she/her/hers
Partners
  1. butterfree
  2. mightyena
  3. charizard
  4. custom/scyther-mia
Chapter four! In which things get even wilder.



Chapter 4: Cleanwater City​

2021-07-14-chapter4.png

After ten minutes or so, Mark and Charmander arrived at the Cleanwater City Pokémon Center, panting.

Mark went straight up to the bell on the desk and hammered it with his hand until a red-haired nurse dressed in white, whose name was most likely Joy, came out of a room in the back.

“No need to be so harsh on the bell,” she said serenely.

“I… I found this Eevee,” Mark panted, attempting to catch his breath, and gently placed the little Pokémon, unconscious, on the desk. “He was fainted near the road to Sailance…”

“Sailance?” the nurse, whom Mark just decided to call Joy, asked. “Isn’t that out of the Pokémon-inhabited area?”

“Yes, it is, is Eevee going to be fine?” Mark asked very quickly.

“What was an Eevee doing there?” repeated Nurse ‘Joy’.

“Should I know that?” Mark said loudly. “I asked: Is he going to be all right?”

Nurse Joy took out a small tool resembling a red cellphone, pointed it at Eevee and pressed a button. A little beep was heard before she took it and read off it.

“He’s just exhausted, hungry and cold,” Nurse Joy announced upon looking back at Mark, smiling. “He will be fine, but it could take some time to revive him. Just have a seat, and I’ll alert you when something happens.”

Mark sighed in relief as Nurse Joy took Eevee into the room at the back, then turned around and as he was now breathing normally again, he took some time to look around.

The floor was covered in a light pink, fluffy carpet. The room was very large, and at random places all over except in the direct path from the automatic door to the counter, there were big, comfy-looking red sofas. Several trainers sat in them, either chatting or just staring into thin air, waiting for their Pokémon to be healed.

Mark walked towards the nearest sofa, which was empty, and sat down there, tapping his foot impatiently while observing the room better. The walls were painted white, but covered in posters and advertisements about everything from the Ouen league and challenges for trainers to always carry Potions with them to cheap travel packages. Meanwhile, Charmander stood at the foot of the sofa, watching his tail flame burn.

The automatic door slid open, catching Mark’s attention. A girl ran inside. She had long, brown hair and wore a pink sweater and a dark blue skirt.

She hurried to Nurse Joy, quickly handing her three of the Pokéballs attached to her belt, and then walked towards Mark’s sofa and sat down in it, glaring anxiously at the back room where Joy was treating her Pokémon.

Seeing as Mark had nothing better to do and many things to ask, he decided to talk to the girl.

“Um, excuse me…” he said, turning carefully in her direction. She jerked her head in his direction, and upon realizing he was waiting for an answer, she replied with a dry, “Hello.”

“Do you live here?” Mark asked. The girl nodded.

“Can you tell me something about the Pokémon gym here?”

The girl shrugged. “Sure. What would you like to know?”

“What type of Pokémon does the gym leader train?” Mark asked, happy to have managed to get to the point so quickly.

“Legendary Pokémon,” she answered simply.

What?!” Mark yelled so loudly that a few people stopped talking to stare at him. He lowered his voice, his face going red. “Erm… how does a gym leader train legendary Pokémon?”

The girl giggled. “You’ve never heard of Rick? He spent ten years of his life finding the legendary Pokémon of all the regions. He got some hairs, feathers, whatever of them, and cloned the legendaries for himself and his junior trainers. They don’t train them much at all, though, so they’re really low-leveled.”

“Cloned? But that’s illegal!” Mark protested.

“Super-clones are illegal,” the girl corrected. “And only if they could wreck something. His Pokéballs prevent the Pokémon they hold from directly disobeying a command, making them harmless. He made the balls himself. He even got a special license allowing him to keep one super-clone, no higher than level ten, mainly for experimental purposes.”

“But affecting Pokémon’s free will is breaking the Agreement!” Mark argued. The girl just shrugged.

“Yeah, maybe, but Rick’s got the police in his pocket. He’s capable of world domination with all those legendary clones, and they know it only too well. As long as he isn’t doing anything they absolutely have to do something about, they won’t. They’d get completely screwed unless they attacked in hundreds.”

“But he isn’t about to do anything like that, is he?” Mark asked worriedly.

“Of course not, he’s a respectable man with a little brother,” said the girl.

“What’s a little brother got to do with anything?” Mark questioned, puzzled.

“Their parents died in a car crash when Rick was fifteen, leaving him alone with his two-year-old brother,” the girl explained. “Rick has been like a parent for his brother since then. Shows that he’s responsible and knows what he’s doing.”

“Oh.” Mark paused. “So he has them all?”

“Well, nobody knows, since he only uses the Kanto and Johto ones, but that’s what they say.”

“So, are all of the legendaries at very low levels, then?” he then asked.

“Yeah, they don’t go higher than level 15,” the girl said. “And the more Pokémon a junior trainer has, the lower are their levels. The strongest ones are possessed by the junior trainers with the fewest Pokémon.”

“Sounds balanced,” Mark said.

“But remember that they’re legendaries after all,” she warned him.

“OK, thanks,” Mark said, and was about to ask something else when Nurse Joy stepped forward and gestured for both of them to come. Both kids stood up and walked towards the counter.

“Megan, your Pokémon have been fully healed,” Nurse Joy said with a small bow, handing three Pokéballs to the girl, then turning to Mark, “and your Eevee is going to be in perfect battle condition tomorrow. The hotel is just round the corner, if you plan on staying there.”

“Battle condition?” Mark asked. “But isn’t he too young to battle?”

“Technically, yes,” Nurse Joy sighed. “But he’s been battling, apparently. Got some Rattata bites and scratches. Goodness knows what he’s been through…”

“Oh, okay,” said Mark. “But I’ll release him afterwards, right? He isn’t caught in a Pokéball…”

“Well…” said Nurse Joy sadly, “I have to admit that I don’t think that’s a very good idea. He’s been battling, but hasn’t fared all too well. If he came across a Raticate or Sandslash…”

“You mean I should take him?” asked Mark, shocked.

“I mean that we should explain the situation to him when he wakes up, and ask him what he wants to do.”

Mark didn’t answer; he wanted to own an Eevee, of course, but tried not to because he knew then he’d be disappointed if Eevee rather wanted to be released.

“Is your Charmander fine?” Nurse Joy asked, smiling.

“Yeah,” said Mark, snapping out of his thoughts. “Anyway, thanks. I’ll come back tomorrow.”

Next, Mark went to the Pokémart with Charmander. It looked a bit like the Pokémon Center beside it: a big, white building with an automatic door and a dome-shaped roof, except that instead of the Pokémon Center’s red color, the Pokémart’s roof was blue. Beside the door, a large sign clarified the building’s identity.

Mark walked inside. To the left, there was a counter with a funnily-dressed punk guy behind it, busy claiming cash for people’s purchases. To the right, metallic shelves with healing items, Pokémon food, and all sorts of Pokémon equipment stood in straight rows all the way to the back of the shop.

Mark examined the contents of the first shelf. They were healing items; to the far left, cheap Potions and status-recovering items were stacked; then they gradually got more expensive towards the right. Mark grabbed a few of the purple and green spray bottles known as Potions, then walked a few steps onward. Most of the items he wasn’t all that interested in; this early on, they wouldn’t be worth their price.

At the end of the row, he stared longingly at a little white box with a red cross on it: a Pocket Healer. One could place a Pokéball into it and press a button, and the Pokémon inside would be refreshed with energy in an instant, as well as gaining a boost to its natural recovering abilities while inside, allowing it to fully heal of all its wounds in a remarkably short time. Of course, this item was reserved for out-of-battle usage.

Unfortunately, the price tag contained the rather unattractive number of 98,000. Mark quit dreaming and went on.

He browsed through the shelves. Stat-boosting items were for more advanced trainers, and he didn’t want to buy TM and HM moves until he had planned his Pokémon a bit better. If Eevee would come with him, he would maybe buy an evolution stone for him; of course, he reminded himself as he walked past them, Eevee might not come with him at all, and might not want to evolve, or would rather evolve into an Espeon or Umbreon.

The Pokédolls he wasn’t too interested in, but near them were the Pokéballs and Pokéball belts, so Mark took one belt with six Pokéballs attached to it. Finally, he bought a bit of canned Pokémon food for Charmander and Eevee, and walked to the counter in order to pay. All this stuff put a huge dent in the money he had brought, but that was what the money was for, after all. He just hoped he had enough left for the hotel.

Once outside, Mark pressed the little buttons on the Potion bottles one by one, minimizing them to the right size to fit neatly into his backpack. He also put on his Pokéball belt. He checked his watch; it was six o’clock, and the rain had subsided. Finally, he stuffed the cans of Pokémon food into the bag; it was now getting full.

He eyed the hotel sign behind the shop, picked up his bag with a sigh and walked to the hotel, Charmander following him like a fiery ghost.



Just casually dropping in a throwaway expository conversation that the very first gym leader clones legendaries, has the police in his pocket, and is capable of world domination, as one does, while the characters involved are more fascinated by discussing what level his legendaries are. Beautiful.

It does get less wild from here. Until chapter 20, that one's also pretty wild.
 
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Chapter 5: The Lake of Purity

Dragonfree

Moderator
Staff
Location
Iceland
Pronouns
she/her/hers
Partners
  1. butterfree
  2. mightyena
  3. charizard
  4. custom/scyther-mia
Time for chapter five. Get ready for some things to start Happening... just as soon as the first scene is done describing utterly unimportant things in tedious detail. You really need to know exactly what buttons Mark presses to set up his Pokédex, guys.


Chapter 5: The Lake of Purity​

2021-07-20-chapter5.png

The hotel was a huge building that appeared to be entirely composed of glass from the outside. To Mark’s pleasant surprise, he found a sign outside it announcing that Pokémon trainers paid half price.

He walked inside, not sure if Charmander was allowed outside a Pokéball, but just assuming he was. An elderly lady in a blue dress sat by the counter and read the newspaper. Her huge square glasses were on the edge of falling off the tip of her nose.

“Excuse me,” said Mark. The woman looked up and observed him carefully, eying Charmander.

“Pokémon trainer?” she asked in a monotone voice.

“Yeah,” answered Mark.

“How many nights?” she asked, turning slowly to a computer standing beside her.

“One to begin with,” Mark said.

“Your ID number, please?”

Mark immediately realized that of course, he had forgotten to buy a Pokédex, and what was more, he had never actually gone and found a book about training at the library. Feeling stupid, he blushed and said: “Er, I don’t have one yet.”

“It’s necessary to give your trainer ID before checking in,” said the woman.

“I’ll go to the Pokémart and buy a Pokédex, then, and come back afterwards,” Mark suggested. The woman nodded and sank back into her newspaper.

Mark walked outside again, closely followed by Charmander. The clouds were slowly drifting away, predicting a starry night and good weather tomorrow.

“Well, there’s always something you forget to buy,” Mark sighed. “Charmander, would you like to go into your Pokéball now, or…?”

“Yeah, maybe, I’m getting tired of walking,” said Charmander, relieved. Mark removed one of the red and white spheres attached to his Pokéball belt, maximized it by pressing the button, and touched Charmander gently with it. He was turned into red energy and drawn into the ball.

Mark went into the Pokémart, constantly reaching down to check if the Pokéball was still there. He would just have to get used to it, but at the moment it was somehow really disquieting. Reassuring himself that his Pokémon was definitely still inside the Pokéball, Mark walked over to the fourth row of shelves, finding Pokédexes of various shapes, sizes and colors lined there. After a bit of thought, he picked a sapphire blue one with a white back, some red lines and signs for decoration and two flaps to fold in so that it would fit neatly into one’s pocket. After paying almost all of his money left, he exited the shop, unfolded the Pokédex and turned it on.

“Thank you for choosing Pokédex Advance, Kyogre edition,” said a voice with a British accent as if to test the sound. The screen turned light blue, and then displayed the words “Would you like to start the set-up now?”

Mark selected ‘Yes’ and pressed A.

“Please place your right eye in front of the scanner and press A,” the screen now read, with a small picture showing with a red arrow where the scanner was located on the device – apparently, the Pokédex used the same tool to identify Pokémon as its owner’s iris. Mark held it up to his eye, pressed the button blindly, and as he heard a beep, he removed it, blinked a few times and looked at the screen. It showed the words “MATCHING PATTERN – PLEASE WAIT” for a second, then all sorts of information about him appeared, including his name, home address, date of birth, education, bank account number, and even, to his horror, an absolutely terrible school photo.

“I look drunk on this,” he said to himself with disgust, then looked back at the screen. The information about him had been replaced with a big “Thank you for registering your Pokédex. Your ID number is 0439522166.” Mark pressed A and now it showed the main menu, indicating that he wouldn’t need to do anything else for the set-up.

Curious, he selected the option ‘About the Pokédex’. The voice immediately started speaking again.

“The Pokédex was invented by Professor Samuel Oak of Kanto. Its original purpose was, in Oak’s words, ‘to be an encyclopedia for the trainer to get more information about their Pokémon, and to automatically and safely record the data of any undiscovered Pokémon a trainer might see on their journey, in order to tell fact from fiction when it comes to new Pokémon discoveries’. Since then, all sorts of useful features have been added to the Pokédex’s potential and now it is the only essential tool a Pokémon trainer must have, combining the various devices that have been developed in different parts of the world for all kinds of Pokémon-related purposes. After Oak retired, the development of the Pokédex was continued by his grandson, Gary Oak, who…”

Mark decided not to listen to all of it so he pressed B and the voice fell silent. Finally, to register Charmander to his ID number, he held the Pokéball up to the scanner and pressed A.

“Charmander – lizard Pokémon,” the Pokédex announced. “It is very vulnerable to water; if the flame at the tip of its tail dies, so does this Fire Pokémon.”

The screen then asked if he would like to view this Pokémon’s stats; he chose ‘No’ and it showed the main menu again, except that now it said ‘1 Pokémon caught’ in the top left corner.

Mark turned the Pokédex off and walked into the hotel again.

“Back?” the woman asked, not looking off the newspaper. Mark nodded.

“So, your ID number?”

“0439522166,” Mark said after turning his Pokédex on again to check. The woman entered it into the computer.

“Mark Greenlet?”

“Yeah,” he answered.

“You said one night?”

“Yup,” said Mark cheerfully. The woman handed him a key labeled with the number 387. Assuming that the Pokédex had handled the payment automatically, he walked up some staircases to room 387. It was small, but neat; everything in it was blue except for the walls. Blue bed sheets, blue lamp, blue carpet, blue curtains. He switched the light on.

Mark flung himself on the bed and sighed, letting his mind flick through the day’s adventures.

The legendary Pokémon, of course, had most of his attention. He had set it as his goal to reach Green Town in time to see Chaletwo. If only he could ever know what was up with its similarity to Mewtwo. Mark sighed again.

Why hadn’t he ever found decent books on the Ouen legendaries before? And why hadn’t he found that book before?

His stomach made a loud gurgle to protest this stupid distraction from the bare necessities of life, and Mark rose lazily up.

“Let’s get ourselves something to eat,” he muttered, knowing that Pokémon could hear the outside world from inside their Pokéballs. He went down to the hotel’s restaurant and Mark ordered a pizza for both him and Charmander to celebrate the first day of their journey after making carefully sure that Pokémon were allowed and that Charmander didn’t mind trying human food.

“By the way,” Mark asked as they started greedily attacking the pizza, “you never actually answered. Do you want to evolve?”

“Dunno,” said Charmander as Mark took a sip of his coke. “I’ve heard that Pokémon can go through a huge mental change when they evolve.”

“Yeah,” said Mark eagerly; this was exactly one of the few things in Pokémonology he found to be very interesting. “It’s because if Pokémon don’t have very defined beliefs and a determined personality, their added power after evolution can result in arrogance, the sudden realization that humans are wimps, and just an overall change in their views on the world. It depends on you, really.”

“I’m not sure, I don’t want to change mentally… but I want to be strong, and to fly as a Charizard one day.”

“They say that late evolution helps in these aspects,” Mark commented. “Personality changes are usually biggest in Pokémon that evolve immediately when they can.”

“Yeah,” said Charmander absent-mindedly, watching a Pidgeotto flying outside the window. “That’s probably best, just evolving when I’m properly ready…”

He looked at Mark. “I’m a bit nervous, though. What if I just reach level 16, evolve – and turn into a completely different person?” There was worry in his voice.

“You just need to resist it. You can stop your own evolution without much trouble,” Mark said reassuringly.

“Yeah,” said Charmander, sounding more comfortable. “You’re probably right.”

-------

After they ate, Mark suggested that they go up to the Lake of Purity and catch some Pokémon. Charmander liked the idea, so they decided on that.

“Charmander, look around for wild Pokémon too,” Mark said, sending Charmander out of his Pokéball as he walked along the road to the Lake. Tall grass surrounded it in both directions; small bushes poked out of the grass here and there.

“What’s that?” asked Charmander, pointing. A purple tail, curled up at the end, stuck out between the grass blades to their left.

“I think it’s a Rattata,” said Mark thoughtfully, “but I don’t really want one, they’re pretty puny…”

The Rattata seemingly took great offense to this comment, as it immediately leapt out of the grass, baring its fangs.

Mark had never really liked Rattata, but seeing one in real life, he found it kind of cool-looking. The shiny, bright purple fur of its back blended smoothly into the pure white of its belly, paws and lower jaw. Two long whiskers vibrated on either side of its face, sensing small changes in the air; shimmering red eyes full of determination stared hatefully at his face and then turned to Charmander with a low growl.

“Rattata!” the Pokémon cried in a high-pitched voice, leaping at Charmander, who quickly swished his tail forward into the purple rat’s face. Smacked sideways with a burn mark on its cheek, the Rattata let out a cry of pain, but nevertheless stood right up again and raced head-first towards Mark’s fire lizard.

“Dodge!” Mark shouted, suddenly now remembering that he was supposed to be giving his Pokémon orders. Charmander ran to the side, more out of instinct than obedience. The Rattata followed angrily and finally took a well-calculated leap at the lizard’s tail, biting it firmly.

“Charmander, try scratching it,” Mark suggested, Charmander already raising his claws. With an angry “Mander!”, he slashed the Rattata across the face.

“Raaat!” screeched the rat Pokémon, stepping a bit backwards as it started to wag its tail rhythmically. Charmander’s eyes followed the curled tail end; left, right, left, right…

“Don’t be distracted by it, it’s trying to catch you off guard!” Mark called. It was too late, though; the Rattata leapt at Charmander with a triumphant battle cry and tackled him to the ground. Growling, Charmander slammed his tail flame into the Rattata’s face again; he was still too inexperienced to use proper fire attacks, but the fire on his tail tip was always there. The rat Pokémon screamed in pain, but then retreated into the tall grass.

Mark shrugged. “Well, I didn’t want to catch it, anyway. At least, you did great, Charmander.”

He said the last words in an attempt to sound cheerful, but he couldn’t help thinking that he hadn’t played a very big part in this battle.

-------

When they arrived at the Lake of Purity, they found that it was crowded by tourists and trainers. Pokémon battles were going on all around; noisy Pokémon cries and their trainers’ shouts filled the air.

A huge tourist information sign was positioned near the lake itself. Mark walked up to it, recalling Charmander into his Pokéball in fear of somebody tripping over him or something.

The sign told some useless facts about the Lake of Purity, like its size and how there were no rivers in or out of it – and then, the legend behind its purity, which was the only thing Mark was really interested in on it.

It was far longer than it had to be; it was basically an extremely dramatic description of how Suicune had saved the city, which was small then, by cleaning the lake and banishing the Gyarados that terrorized it. Since then, Suicune had raced all the way from Johto to purify the lake every night.

Mark realized that he had an extremely broad grin on his face and quickly told it to look normal. He looked back at the text. Below the legend, there were a few words that seemed especially directed at him:

WARNING: Legendary Pokémon possess power that no human could dream of and should never be attacked, provoked or even approached. Travelers are advised to leave the lake before nightfall.

The warning, of course, wasn’t likely to convince many foolish people like Mark that trying to see Suicune wasn’t worth the risk. Much more effective, however, were the “Missing” reports below, telling the reader of people who had seemingly just vanished into thin air near the Lake of Purity at nighttime, the only trace being a bit of red on the dried grass blades on the bank the next day.

Mark quickly decided he could just see Suicune sometime later and turned away from the sign. The crowd was thinning, so he had some space now. Mark threw Charmander’s Pokéball to the ground and it popped open, releasing Charmander in a shower of red light before bouncing right back into his hand.

“Should we go into the tall grass?” Charmander asked, pointing at a patch of grass near the left side of the lake.

“No, I think we should try in the trees over there,” said Mark, looking towards the right. Charmander shrugged.

They walked over to the trees and Mark picked up a small rock. Not bothering to aim very carefully, he threw it towards the nearest treetop. As it disappeared into the denseness of leaves and branches, the rock apparently angered one of the inhabitants of the tree; an annoyed chirp of “Pidgeoooott!” was heard as a streak of brown and crème shot upwards and then dived down towards Charmander.

“Uh oh,” Mark muttered before issuing his command: “Charmander, dodge!”

The fire lizard attempted to duck, but the bird Pokémon grabbed him with its talons and took off into the sky.

“Hey!” Mark shouted. “Let go of my Charmander!”

The Pidgeotto grinned devilishly and flew over the lake, threatening in very clear sign language to drop the petrified Fire Pokémon into the water.

Mark knew that the pigeon wouldn’t dare breaking the Agreement by murdering a trainer’s Pokémon, but he didn’t like being taunted in this way at all. His hand moved towards Charmander’s ball.

“Pidgeotto,” he announced loudly, “come back here and face me like a Pokémon!”

The Pidgeotto made a rude sign at him, at the same time emphasizing its false threat by releasing one claw off Charmander, who winced.

“You asked for it,” Mark sighed, holding out the Pokéball and recalling Charmander into it before sending him back out with both feet on the ground. The Pidgeotto dived at Charmander again, but the lizard took both Mark and his opponent by surprise when he opened his mouth and released a cloud of silky flames which engulfed the unsuspecting bird Pokémon before it managed to turn. The pigeon’s scream of pain died down quickly as it fell to the ground with a thump, scorched black.

“Whoa, nice Ember,” Mark congratulated his Pokémon. “Good job, Charmander. Only too bad I didn’t get to catch it.”

“Sorry,” said Charmander apologetically, sounding somewhat confused at the same time. “I didn’t even know I could do that…”

“Yeah, seems like you’ve reached level seven,” Mark explained. “Charmander learn Ember around that point.”

“Hey, look,” said Charmander, pointing. A yellow armadillo Pokémon with shiny scales was watching them curiously from a safe distance.

“Cool, a Sandshrew,” Mark said, his expression brightening up. “Ground-types are always useful. I’m going to try and catch it. Charmander, attack!”

They ran towards the Sandshrew. It instinctively curled up into a tight ball before the jet of flames Charmander fired from his mouth reached it, and the tough scales mostly repelled the heat. It showed no intention of uncurling afterwards.

“I guess I’ll have to resort right to the ball now,” said Mark, rather loudly in order for the Sandshrew to hear him well, and then took out a Pokéball. He paused, waiting for a reaction, but when there was none, he hurled the ball at the armadillo Pokémon.

The sphere hit the yellow, scaly ball, opened around the middle, and the Sandshrew was transformed into pure energy before being drawn into the ball in a beam of red light.

The ball fell to the ground. First it was still; then the button glowed blue as the ball slowly started rocking to the sides. Mark watched it intensely, clenching his fists automatically as if to telekinetically prevent the ball from opening again. Gradually, the ball slowed down as the blue light on the button began to fade…

The ball suddenly took a sharp twitch, its two halves separating again as Mark disappointedly watched the Sandshrew materialize on the ground. The armadillo Pokémon growled unsurely, realizing that just curling up and waiting was the worse option.

“Ember!” Mark ordered. Immediately, Charmander leapt forward and blasted a jet of flames from his mouth, which hit the Sandshrew before it managed to curl up again. Screaming, the Pokémon stumbled backwards and fell over.

“Let’s see how well you break out of Pokéballs after that,” Mark said, taking out a second ball and throwing it. As it hit the Sandshrew, the Pokémon was absorbed into the ball in the form of red energy before the two halves of the Pokéball closed tightly.

The ball fell to the ground, and for the second time, Mark watched the button light up as the ball wobbled harshly in the grass. After a few seconds of fighting between the armadillo and the metallic sphere, the ball claimed victory; the blue light faded away and the Pokéball stilled with a ping, confirming Mark’s first Pokémon capture.

“Wow,” Mark breathed after a few seconds of silence, walking slowly towards the Pokéball and picking it up. The smooth, cold surface of the metallic sphere was wet, the grass it lay in still covered in water after the earlier downpour. Mark got a creepy feeling when touching it; he actually felt that there was a Pokémon inside it.

He slowly took out his Pokédex and pointed the scanner at the Pokéball. When he pressed a button, the Pokédex started speaking:

“Sandshrew – mouse Pokémon. It likes curling up into a ball for protection; its rock-hard scales can repel almost any physical attack. It is also an extremely fast digger.”

Again, the Pokédex offered Mark the option of viewing the Pokémon’s stats. This time he chose ‘Yes’. The screen immediately showed detailed information about his new partner. It was a young male, level nine; it even announced that he had a careful nature.

“Sandshrew, go!” he shouted, tossing the ball forward. It burst open as it hit the ground and bounced back into his hand as his newly-captured Ground Pokémon formed from a red beam where the ball had landed.

“Shrew?” asked the Pokémon, confused, scratching his head. Mark was going to introduce him to Charmander when he felt a finger tap his shoulder.

“Hey,” said a voice. He jumped, turning around. Sandshrew and Charmander looked around too.

It was a girl, probably around his age. Her most attention-catching feature was her long, blue hair; at the moment she had it tied in two weird ponytails which somehow stuck forward and outwards from her head. Her face looked rather plain, although she had an annoyed expression Mark sincerely hoped he had no part in. A dark blue sweater was visible beneath a white jacket; white shorts with an old-looking Pokéball belt covered her otherwise bare legs down to the knees.

“What are you staring at me for?” asked the girl, rather rudely. Mark felt idiotic.

“Erm… what was it you wanted?”

“A Pokémon battle,” said the girl like it was the most obvious thing in the world, plucking one of the two balls from her belt. Mark felt rather confident; he had a level nine Pokémon after all.

“Two on two?” Mark asked, nodding towards his companions.

“I’d prefer one on one, actually,” said the girl, smiling the oddest smile Mark had ever seen. On her mouth’s behalf, it was a normal smile, but her eyes had a glint of something between malice, confidence, and the kind of glint he usually got when he thought about legendary Pokémon.

“Hey, wait,” said Mark, looking at Charmander and Sandshrew, “this isn’t fair. You’ve seen both of my Pokémon, but I haven’t seen either of yours.”

“Fine with me,” said the girl, shrugging, as she grabbed her two Pokéballs, maximized them into either hand and threw them both to the ground. Two Pokémon formed in a flash of red light.

One was a huge butterfly, with a wingspan of around one meter. Its body was dark blue with a tint of purple; two bright red, compound eyes almost covered the top of the head, while the mouth was light blue with two miniscule fangs in it. In the same shade of light blue were two tiny arms and long feet. Broad, silkily whitish-transparent wings fluttered in the breeze; a fine system of dark veins covered their delicate surface.

The other Pokémon was a giant, metallic vulture; it stood considerably taller than its trainer on two narrow, yet powerful-looking legs. Talons that looked like they could crush bones to dust with little effort dug into the ground. It all shone in various shades of gray except for the bright red, peculiar, sword-like wing feathers. A long, sharp beak extended from its pointed head.

Mark felt even more confident seeing the girl’s Pokémon. Both her Butterfree and Skarmory were vulnerable to fire attacks, so Charmander should beat whichever Pokémon she chose.

“Sandshrew, come back,” he said, holding out Sandshrew’s Pokéball and pressing the button. A red beam shot out of it, hitting the armadillo so that he dissolved into red light and shot back into the ball.

The girl examined Charmander, and without taking her eyes off him, she took out one of her Pokéballs and returned her Butterfree into it. The two Pokémon left took their places and nodded towards each other.

“Skarmory, fly up!” the girl commanded loudly, suddenly speaking very fast and basically in a completely different tone of voice.

“Skaaaa!” screeched the vulture in a high-pitched, raspy voice before it clumsily took off from the ground. As it ascended, it gained better control of its flight and then rather gracefully circled above its trainer’s head, watching Charmander.

“Man, are you slow?” said the girl impatiently. “Stop staring at Skarmory like that.”

Mark blushed, envying the girl for being able to focus properly on the battle; he was too fascinated by the Pokémon themselves to concentrate.

“Uh, Ember!”

Before Charmander could do anything, the girl grinned devilishly. “I doubt anything less than a Flamethrower is going to hit Skarmory up there, you know.”

Mark slapped his forehead and took a deep breath. Why couldn’t he just think for once? That girl had probably paid more attention in each Battling Strategies class than he had ever done counting all of them together.

“Skarmory, peck it and then pull up, quickly!” the girl ordered. The steel bird obeyed instantly, swooping down at the fire lizard. Charmander automatically released a small cloud of flames from his mouth, but the Skarmory dodged the fire skillfully without much trouble and then jabbed its long beak into Charmander’s stomach before shooting upwards again. The lizard tumbled over, almost setting fire to the grass but quickly stomping on it to put it out as he rose up again with difficulty.

“No, wait, Charmander – try lying low, and then the Skarmory can’t get to you without crashing!” said Mark, getting a strategic idea. The girl smiled triumphantly as Charmander crouched down.

“I hope you will remember from now on that you should always take into account the possibility of TM moves,” she announced before ordering in the Pokémon battle voice: “Swift!”

“Ska-a-a!” the steel vulture cried, flying high above Charmander and releasing a flurry of small, sharp metallic feathers from its body. Charmander was bombarded by them, getting cuts all over his back. Moaning, the lizard attempted to stand up, but failed. Mark felt terribly sorry for him, but a certain determination made him want to at least try as hard as he could in his first trainer battle.

“I can keep this up for however long you like,” said the girl calmly as her Skarmory released another blast of razor-sharp feathers. “You can just as well give up.”

Mark shook his head, not liking this girl at all.

The girl sighed, rolling her eyes. “Another Swift, then.”

Her Skarmory nodded loyally, preparing to shake off more steel feathers. Mark opened his mouth, just to say something, got a sudden idea and blurted out as quickly as he could: “Melt them!”

Charmander used his last strength to lift his head; he spewed a cloud of flames upwards, enveloping the feathers, and for a moment, it seemed like Mark’s plan was working.

Then, white-hot, but not melted, the feathers all fell through the fire, visibly tearing up Charmander’s flesh like knives. He cringed in pain; Mark looked down, unable to watch what terrible torture he was putting his friend through.

“You think a small Charmander’s Ember is hot enough to melt Skarmory feathers?” asked the girl, raising her right eyebrow. “Man, you need to study.”

No words were necessary; Mark just silently recalled the badly cut Charmander into his Pokéball, accepting defeat.

“Well – anyway, I’ve got loads of training to do now, I’m planning to challenge the Gym leader tomorrow…” said the girl, recalling her Skarmory – as Mark noted especially – without any compliments at all. She looked at him as if wondering if it would be appropriate to say goodbye, but then just turned swiftly around and hurried towards the city.

“What level is that Skarmory of yours, anyway?” Mark called after her.

“Seven,” she shouted back, disappearing behind a hill.

Mark stared, feeling more than ever that he was completely lousy.

He sent out Charmander, who was still bleeding, and took one of the Potion bottles from his bag. Carefully, he sprayed it on the lizard’s scratched skin, muttering constantly about how extremely sorry he was. The wounds slowly started to close right before his eyes.

“This feels good,” Charmander said in relief. “Kinda tickling, but cooling and eases the pain. And pain is an inevitable result of any battling, so don’t worry about it.”

After a few more seconds, there were barely any traces of the cuts left. Mark looked up to find that he was alone with Charmander.

The clouds in the west were blood red, but higher up, the sky quickly faded into the purple and finally dark blue of evening.

I shouldn’t be here, Mark immediately thought, glancing at the missing reports on the tourist information sign and imagining his photo and name on it. Panicking, he looked at the lake.

The air chilled as a graceful, dark blue shadow rushed out from the forest to the right. The elegant, catlike shape stopped on the bank of the lake, illuminated by the moonlight which now flowed out after a cloud passed above.

The head that was now to Mark’s horror staring straight at him belonged to a darkish blue feline. White, diamond-shaped spots covered its slender body. A crown-like crystal shape grew backwards out of its head. Two long, pearly white ribbons floated in mid-air by its sides, rippling gracefully like the ocean’s waves. A long purple cloak which appeared to sprout from the base of its neck moved in similar soft waves.

“Suicune,” Mark whispered, forgetting all about the missing reports; all that mattered was that he was right now looking at a legendary with his own eyes. By his side, Charmander also stared, stunned, at the legendary Pokémon.

That one moment seemed to last for hours. Then Suicune did what Mark could’ve sworn was a small bow or nod, and then a white paw carefully touched the water’s surface. Instantly, Mark saw the purification spread out in ripples. As suddenly as it had come, the graceful Pokémon sped back into the woods.

At that exact moment, a much more terrifying shape rose from the lake.

A dark blue, scaly monster or dragon, rising high above them, staring at Mark with terrifying, red eyes with the whites visible all around them, and a gaping, fanged mouth…

The Gyarados’ roar drowned Mark and Charmander’s screams, but as Mark was preparing to turn away, he quite clearly heard English coming from the monster:

“No! Don’t leave!”

The Gyarados’ voice sounded desperate, almost terrified.

“You – you can speak human?” Mark croaked.

“Yes, but that’s irrelevant. What matters is that you stay here, understand?”

Mark slowly came a few steps forward, blindly obeying the beast without thinking about the possible consequences.

“No, don’t come so near.”

He stopped, confused.

“Step back!” the Gyarados ordered.

“Why?” Mark asked, puzzled and terrified at the same time.

“DON’T TEMPT ME!” the monster hissed.

Figuring that at least he could barely be worse off that way, Mark took three steps backwards.

“Tempt you how?”

“I don’t want to lose you like the others before I even start explaining myself.”

“What others?” Mark asked, nevertheless having a strong feeling about who they were. The Gyarados didn’t answer, just jerked its head towards the tourist information sign with a pained expression. Mark felt sick.

“Look, that doesn’t matter now. The only thing that matters is getting me out of this place.”

“What…”

“I need to get out of Suicune’s reach!”

“Suicune’s?”

“SUICUNE IS A DAMN MURDERER!”

Mark was convinced that this Gyarados belonged in an insane asylum. “I don’t understand…”

“It doesn’t matter! What you do is catch me and get me to a Pokémon Center. You must not tell anybody where you found me. You must never mention what happened here to anybody. If you just do that, I will serve you with all my might forever. Agreed?”

“But…”

“There’s no time for questions!” the Gyarados hissed. “Just do it!”

Mark backed away.

“PLEASE!” The giant sea monster lowered its head to the bank with a few odd coughs, then looked up again, its eyes full of water. “Please…”

Mark stared, open-mouthed, at this turn of events. They were likely to be crocodile tears, of course, but the desperate tone in the Gyarados’s voice throughout the conversation made them look a lot more real.

After all, it could barely hurt…

“O–okay…” Mark said doubtfully, taking out a Pokéball and throwing it as well as he could at the sea serpent’s body. All of its gigantic shape was transformed into bright red energy which was then sucked into the ball as it bounced back to land on the bank. The ball didn’t wobble; the monster wasn’t showing any resistance at all. Instead the button’s blue glow immediately faded away and the ball pinged.

He carefully walked over to the ball like the Gyarados could suddenly burst out of it, then bent down and had to collect his courage before touching it.

He turned around, to Charmander.

“Incredible, isn’t it, how such a large Pokémon can fit into such a small ball?”

Charmander looked puzzled. “Uh, now that you mention it,” he answered, “yeah, it’s kind of weird. Why are you suddenly asking about that?”

“It’s just…” Mark paused, trying to think of the right words for how weird he felt knowing he was holding a huge monster in his hands. “Oh, let’s just go back and get him to a Pokémon Center. Or her? Wait…”

He took his Pokédex out of the side pocket of his backpack and pointed it at the Pokéball.

“Gyarados – atrocious Pokémon. Evolving from the weak Magikarp, Gyarados are known to sink ships on occasion. They are among the Pokémon that have dragon-like powers but do not have the genetic structure of a true Dragon-type Pokémon.”

The statistics appeared on the screen upon Mark’s command.

“Okay, it’s a he, at least. Level 20… I’ll probably crush the Cleanwater City Gym with him…”

“Are you sure? The guy uses legendary Pokémon, remember…”

Mark shrugged. “Perhaps. But Gyarados is a strong Pokémon, and… holy Miltank!

“What?” asked Charmander, seeing that what shocked Mark so much was something the Pokédex said, and he wasn’t tall enough to see the screen.

“Just look at those stats! They’re much higher than what an average Gyarados is supposed to have. And look at this picture of a typical Gyarados – if you compare the color of the armor to the one I just caught, mine is much darker…”

“Odd,” said Charmander simply, not that interested. “Shouldn’t we go back to town and get Gyarados healed like he asked?”

Mark just shrugged, still with his mind on Gyarados’ odd qualities.



Hope you all enjoy Gyarados's EXTREMELY DRAMATIC dialogue about his TEMPTATIONS to eat people he's trying to talk to, while it is Suicune who is A MURDERER

It keeps killing me when I read these chapters how insistently Mark keeps recalling Charmander at every possible opportunity because I just wanted to not have to write him being an actual character I guess. Also still writing weirdly about capturing.
 
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Flyg0n

Flygon connoisseur
Pronouns
She/her
Partners
  1. flygon
  2. swampert
  3. ho-oh
  4. crobat
  5. orbeetle
my gosh this is an absolutely glorious read like. priceless. I have such an asbolute love for flawed products and spend more time watching 'bad' shows than good ones, so this is my jam (not this is bad necessarily) its so entertaining I love it.

Mark is such a weird kid, so little makes sense, and the weird rambles or hyper specific details about certain things is phenomenal.

You’ve never heard of Rick?
The great and MIGHTY AND AMAZINGGGG

Rick.

“Yeah, maybe, but Rick’s got the police in his pocket. He’s capable of world domination with all those legendary clones, and they know it only too well. As long as he isn’t doing anything they absolutely have to do something about, they won’t. They’d get completely screwed unless they attacked in hundreds.”
Oh yeah everyone knows this guy can totes take over the world and they just let him have this stuff and all the dude wants to do is run a gym.

“Of course not, he’s a respectable man with a little brother,” said the girl.
Oh! oh! my bad! this guy's not dangerous he has a little brother! very responsible., you see.

I've never seen this used as an explanation before and I have to say, its perfect.

Mark selected ‘Yes’ and pressed A.

“Please place your right eye in front of the scanner and press A,”
FINALLLY. I've been wondering this for the past fifteen years but the world finally knows! press the A button! Also it HAS to scan the right eye I guess or its all over. left eye no good.

then all sorts of information about him appeared, including his name, home address, date of birth, education, bank account number, and even, to his horror, an absolutely terrible school photo
should we be concerned about information security, lol?

Curious, he selected the option ‘About the Pokédex’. The voice immediately started speaking again.
"Curious, he selected the option 'Exposition' " :wink:

Why hadn’t he ever found decent books on the Ouen Legendaries before? And why hadn’t he found that book before?
because, Mark my dear, plot

“I think it’s a Rattata,” said Mark thoughtfully, “but I don’t really want one, they’re pretty puny…”

The Rattata seemingly took great offense to this comment, as it immediately leapt out of the grass, baring its fangs.
Rude

I'd attack him too tbh.

the only trace being a bit of red on the dried grass blades on the bank the next day.
well thats morbid. Also my immediate thought was 'Suicune is a murderer' and maybe I'm right.

They walked over to the trees and Mark picked up a small rock. Not bothering to aim very carefully, he threw it towards the nearest treetop.
WHy

Also classic. What's better than throwing a rock and angering a bird pokemon right after starting ones journey??

I have to say though, nothing can really top SUPER DRAMA MURDER GYARADOS and Mark just catching it and musing on pokeball tech immediately after.

Please continue to entertain me.
 
Chapter 6: The Mammal, the Monster and the Mental Change

Dragonfree

Moderator
Staff
Location
Iceland
Pronouns
she/her/hers
Partners
  1. butterfree
  2. mightyena
  3. charizard
  4. custom/scyther-mia
Chapter six time! Prepare to be introduced to Rick...'s junior trainers.



Chapter 6: The Mammal, the Monster and the Mental Change​

2021-07-24-chapter6.png

Mark walked silently with his Pokémon towards the city. He was still afraid of what he held in his Pokéball, attached to his own belt.

This Gyarados was strange. Too strange. The more he thought about it, the more uncomfortable he felt. Yet, Gyarados was more likely to be dangerous to him if he attempted to release him. Mark was stuck in an odd situation – and perhaps a serious one at that, if the sea monster would wreck something. He found it absurd that a few minutes earlier, he had been thinking, “It can barely hurt, can it?” Of course it could hurt. It was a Gyarados. What if he went berserk at the Pokémon Center or something?

“Uh, Mark?” Charmander asked carefully.

“What?” Mark replied, snapping out of his thoughts.

“We’re here,” the lizard pointed out.

“Oh,” said Mark stupidly, looking around. They were in front of the Pokémon Center again; it looked somehow safer in the dark with the fluorescent lighting of the roof, made to help trainers find it.

Stepping inside to be greeted by the warmth, Mark noticed that there were still quite a few trainers sitting in the red sofas, tapping their feet or just staring into the air in a kind of a trance while their Pokémon got healed. Mark imagined how it must be to wait anxiously for the nurse to try to heal a severely injured Pokémon, not knowing if it would live or die… He would never, ever let Charmander get hurt so much again. He would rather give up.

He walked with Charmander on his heels across the room and to the desk, where the red-haired nurse was currently standing, waiting for more patients.

“Good evening. You’re out late,” she said in her trademark soft voice.

“Hi, I’d like to have my three Pokémon treated overnight,” Mark said.

“I don’t think that’s necessary…” Charmander began, but Mark just picked him up and put him on the desk, looking him in the eyes.

“That Potion was just temporary,” he explained. “You’re still worn-out after the battle and the cuts haven’t fully healed; it would be better if you stayed here for the night. You’d have to be inside your Pokéball, anyway, since I doubt the hotel would allow a Pokémon with a flame on its tail to sleep in one of their rooms.”

Charmander shrugged. “Well, guess it’s best, then. See you tomorrow.”

Mark nodded and touched the lizard lightly with the Pokéball, and he was dissolved into red energy and sucked into the ball. Plucking the two other occupied spheres from his Pokéball belt, he handed them to the nurse.

“Come back tomorrow for them,” she said, smiling. Mark felt alone as he walked out of the Pokémon Center.

-------

He came to the hotel. A few of its windows were still illuminated from the inside, but most were dark. All the Pokémon trainers the hotel was usually full of were either at the Pokémon Center, out trying to catch nocturnal Pokémon, or had gone to bed already, hoping to start the next day early.

Mark entered quietly, going up the stairs to his room. Just like it had felt odd when Charmander first went into his Pokéball, it felt odd when he was being treated at the Pokémon Center.

Mark sighed and couldn’t wait to retrieve his partners next day.

-------

“Here are your Pokémon. Eevee is still inside, sleeping. I have a concern about your Gyarados, though…”

Mark was in the Cleanwater City Pokémon Center after a breakfast at the hotel, getting his Pokémon back. It was rather early in the morning, and currently Mark was the only trainer there.

“What is it?” Mark asked, worried. Had Gyarados attacked somebody? Wrecked the healing machine?

“He suffers from a severe lack of nutrition,” the nurse explained. “What have you been feeding him, anyway?”

“Nothing,” said Mark truthfully. “I just got him.”

“I figured that had to be it,” said Nurse Joy, nodding thoughtfully. “Your other Pokémon aren’t underfed at all, so it seemed sort of odd that you would starve him.”

“What can I do about it?” asked Mark, concerned. Maybe that was why Gyarados wanted to get out of the lake? Just to eat? No, he had talked about getting out of Suicune’s reach…

“I fed him very nicely,” said the nurse, smiling. “After eating, he even said – in English, mind you; that’s quite some Pokémon you got! – that I was the second-nicest human in the world, after you.” She giggled.

“Huh? After me?” Mark was puzzled; he hadn’t thought Gyarados liked him so much just because he brought him to a Pokémon Center.

“Yes. You must have earned his respect. Most Gyarados are quite overwhelmed by their power when they evolve and are some of the most arrogant, impolite Pokémon you’ll ever see – he isn’t like that at all.”

“Well, that’s good,” Mark said, brightening up. To think of it… Gyarados would actually obey and be his strongest Pokémon…

“Anyway, shouldn’t we wake Eevee?” the nurse suggested, gesturing for him to follow her. They walked into the room at the back; it was all dark blue and seemed cold, very unlike the warm, fluffy pink and red of the waiting room. In a cardboard box with blankets in it standing on a table, Mark saw the furred creature he had found the day before, fast asleep and content, with his thick tail wrapped around his body.

“Eevee,” Nurse Joy said sweetly, “time to wake up.”

She gently reached down and touched the Pokémon’s fur carefully. Eevee stirred, gave her hand a friendly lick and then opened his gleaming brown eyes. He noticed Mark with an expression of curiosity and, unless Mark was very much mistaken, some level of gratitude.

“Remember me?” asked Mark slowly, offering his hand. Eevee carefully reached up with his nose, sniffing his fingers, then rubbed his head up against his hand. Mark started scratching him behind his ear; Eevee gave a soft “vee” and then started licking his hand too. Mark looked up at Nurse Joy; she was smiling.

“He’s really friendly and trusting; he will probably be a good Pokémon for you if he wants that. I haven’t mentioned it; perhaps you should explain the situation now.”

“Okay…” Mark started nervously, withdrawing his hand so as to keep Eevee unbiased. “Erm… Eevee, do you have a home?”

The Pokémon’s ears dropped as he shook his head sadly.

“Would you like me to… take you with me?”

Eevee instantly nodded excitedly.

“And… um… I’m a Pokémon trainer, you see…”

“Vii?” asked the small Pokémon, tilting his head.

“Don’t you know what a Pokémon trainer is?”

Eevee shook his head and looked up at Mark curiously.

“That’s a person who… er, keeps Pokémon inside little balls, like these.” Mark removed Charmander and Sandshrew’s Pokéballs from his belt and showed them to Eevee, minimized.

“See, then you can make them inflate, like this…”

Mark pressed the buttons and the spheres instantly maximized into battle-size. Eevee started, taking a small jump backwards inside the box. Mark laughed.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of. Come on, the balls won’t bite.”

Eevee carefully touched the cold, metallic surface of Charmander’s ball with the tip of his nose. He shivered, apparently still finding that thing a bit creepy, but with a small nod he confirmed his acceptance of the Pokéballs.

“Okay, now, don’t be scared…” Mark carefully dropped the balls into Eevee’s box; they both opened and the two Pokémon formed in red light beside Eevee before the balls bounced right back into Mark’s palms.

This was something Eevee clearly found a lot harder to accept, which was no more than Mark had expected; his eyes widened from the shock of seeing two Pokémon materialize from thin air right beside him. Eevee pressed himself against the wall of the box, moaning nervously as he covered his eyes with his long ears. Charmander and Sandshrew looked confusedly around; Charmander soon realized what was going on, carefully bent down to Eevee’s level and cautiously lifted one of his ears from his face. A terrified eye half-opened, then shut again as the Pokémon forced its ear back down. Sandshrew curiously poked Eevee’s thick, soft mane; Charmander started to pat Eevee’s back reassuringly.

“It’s all right,” Mark said quietly, now placing his hand carefully on the scared Pokémon’s head. “Look.” He brushed Eevee’s ears away and pointed both Pokéballs at the Pokémon they belonged to; Charmander and Sandshrew both dissolved into red light as they shot back into the balls.

“Now,” Mark began explaining as Eevee started to calm down, “a Pokémon trainer carries Pokémon in balls like these, and when they see a Pokémon or another trainer, they use their Pokémon to battle.”

Eevee looked expectantly up at him, waiting to hear more.

“They send out their Pokémon from the balls – only one at a time – and they battle the other Pokémon or trainer’s Pokémon. If their Pokémon are getting too hurt, they will recall them back into their balls. A Pokémon trainer will always heal their Pokémon as soon as possible when they are hurt, and make sure they get plenty of food and never suffer permanent injuries.”

Mark had never in his life thought about what Pokémon training actually was – yet now, he was telling it to an innocent, young Pokémon that hadn’t had a mother for long enough to learn about these things. It felt odd.

“Then…” Mark’s voice was trembling for some reason, “… the trainer… well, usually… becomes really close to the Pokémon – a type of friend who takes really good care of them and loves them like their own siblings... and usually, the Pokémon will feel like that too…”

Eevee’s shiny, big eyes still looked happily up at Mark’s deep green ones. Mark took a deep breath before asking the final question.

“So… will you… do you want me to train you? Don’t think about what I want, just what you want. Do you want to be released back into the wild where you can continue your life, or do you want to… come with me and I’ll be your trainer?”

A hot pulse throbbed in Mark’s neck with every beat of his heart. They sounded unnaturally loud now as the boy and the Pokémon stared deep into each other’s eyes; nothing could be read from either’s expression.

“Veee!” Eevee finally said happily, nodding and placing his forepaws in Mark’s hands. He picked the Pokémon carefully up, unable to believe he actually had an Eevee now. The fluffy Pokémon emitted some sort of a purr, digging his nose into Mark’s face.

“Eevee…” Mark started in a muffled voice because of the fur covering his mouth, “if you’re going to be my Pokémon, you need to go into a Pokéball.”

“Vee?” the Pokémon asked. Not having very good control of Pokémon’s complicated language due to young age, he managed to get his meaning across, but not word for word.

“Yes, see, sometimes I can’t carry you with me otherwise. Pokéballs are nice, just like a luxury room with everything you need. You’ll even feel all dreamy and comfortable, and when you’re sent out, you’ll be refreshed, just like if you were sleeping.” Mark knew this in fact because that time he had discussed Pokémon rights with a Vulpix in a Pokémonish test, one of the things they had talked about was whether it was right to capture Pokémon in Pokéballs, and Vulpix, who was pro-Pokéballs, had described to him what Pokéballs were like.

“Vui,” said Eevee skeptically, glancing at the Pokéballs Mark had replaced at his belt. Finally he looked up at Mark, seemingly still a bit scared of the balls. Mark took one of his empty balls and touched Eevee lightly with it; the Pokémon dissolved into red light and was drawn into the ball.

Mark waited a few seconds; the ball stood quite still in his hand, meaning that at least Eevee wasn’t trying to break out of it.

He dropped the ball into the box again; a beam of red energy burst out of it and took shape into Eevee. He looked quickly around, realized that he was back in the box, and then accepted the Pokéball with a small nod.

“Great,” said Mark, still not believing what was happening. Him, with an Eevee!

“Will you come into the Pokéball now, then?” he asked upon the realization that Eevee was waiting for him to say something else. The Pokémon thought a bit, but then nodded, smiling. Mark recalled Eevee into the Pokéball, convinced that he was the luckiest person alive.

“Erm… thanks, Nurse Joy,” Mark muttered, not sure what to say. She just smiled. “It’s Eevee who’s going to come with you, thank him.”

“Wow,” he just breathed.

“So, where are you headed now?” asked Nurse Joy kindly.

“The gym,” Mark said, still staring at the Pokéball in his hand.

“Good luck, then. You’ll need it,” were Nurse Joy’s warning words before Mark left the building.

Absent-mindedly, he walked out of the Pokémon Center, noticing that he was getting used to having his Pokémon inside Pokéballs. The sun was shining now; the stormy clouds from the day before had drifted away overnight and now the sky was clear.

He wandered around a bit, looking for the Pokémon gym, but once he found it, he was surprised he hadn’t figured that huge yellow building with the glass dome roof he could always see behind the other houses had to be the gym.

The door was odd; it was round and shaped like a Pokéball lying on its side. The button that would normally maximize the ball said “PRESS”. When Mark nervously pushed it with his hand, the two halves of the door separated and moved to the sides with a rumbling noise. Mark carefully stepped inside; he heard the door slide back into place behind him.

Now there was no turning back. He took a deep breath and walked forward, through a second gateway; the entrance room was just empty for whatever reason.

He was on a Pokémon battle arena, that was certain, and an overwhelmingly huge one at that. The glass dome was three times as high as the ceiling in a regular house, and the room had all the features a standard battle arena had to have: a large pool on the right side that was obviously intended for Water Pokémon, and the way the floor was marked had a very clear meaning. Just ahead of him was the red-painted box he was supposed to stand in. He nervously took his place; a trainer stood up from a bench at the other end and stepped into the box at his end. Mark found his clothes very odd: a cap that seemed too big for his head, a jacket and shorts, all bright neon green.

“Hey, you have to battle me first. Rick will only take on the best of the best,” the boy called in an extremely monotone, boring, politician-like voice.

“I wasn’t going anywhere!” Mark shouted back. The trainer ignored it.

“Three on three, ready, go, Articuno.”

The boy hurled forward a black and red Pokéball with as much power as he could; it burst open in mid-air, releasing Mark’s second favorite Pokémon, and bounced back to the trainer.

A smooth, peaceful-sounding cry of “a-ar” emitted from the magnificent, parrot-like icy blue bird as it circled the middle of its own half of the arena, dragging a darker blue, wavy tail feather after its body. Swooping gracefully down every now and then but pulling up again, the legendary Pokémon loyally awaited its trainer’s orders. It pained Mark to think that the Pokéball had brainwashed his second favorite Pokémon like that – thankfully just a clone.

Mark hesitated, but then decided that sending out Charmander would be worth the risk. He blindly reached for the Pokéball and threw it forward. The ball popped open upon impact with the floor and sent out the lizard.

“Mander!” he growled, assuming a battle stance and glaring at the Articuno, focusing. Mark could figure out what was going through his Pokémon’s head; the last time he had been put up against a Pokémon he was supposed to have an advantage over, he had lost. He wasn’t going to go down a second time.

“Charmander, be ready to dodge!”

The lizard nodded, still concentrating on his opponent.

“Articuno, Powder Snow,” said the junior trainer in his monotone voice.

The legendary bird’s eyes closed as it glowed white; the room cooled gradually as every flap of its wings and every wave of the long tail feather started emitting flurries of snow which flew straight at Charmander. Mark shivered as the cold wind blew in his face. Even before he opened his mouth to issue a command, Charmander seemed to read his mind and breathed a tongue of flames at the snow, melting and boiling it instantly and leaving Charmander unharmed.

The junior trainer swore loudly, still in the monotone voice, and then ordered: “Articuno, Gust.”

Instantly, the magnificent bird started flapping its wings in Charmander’s direction instead of up and down, and also faster and faster. In a remarkably short time, a strong gust of wind powered up and sent both Mark and Charmander flying into the wall.

“Sorry,” said the junior trainer, not sounding it. “Peck!”

The Articuno clone immediately dived down with a cry of “Aaaarti!”, heading straight towards Charmander. Mark had no time to think, but luckily Charmander spat out a blast of flames by instinct just as the bird was about to hit him. For a second Articuno was on fire, and unfortunately that was the exact second when its beak smashed into Charmander’s belly so that he was thrown harshly backwards; but when the flames died, the legendary bird crashed clumsily on the ground.

Stretching out both of its wings, Articuno’s icy feathers were clearly dripping with water as it withered in pain; Charmander stood heavily up and despite hating to do this to a Pokémon he loved so much, Mark made a final command:

“Finish it with another Ember!”

Articuno was helplessly trying to take off, but failing. Charmander fired another cloud of flames which enveloped the legendary Pokémon; when it cleared, Articuno lay in a pool of water on the floor, defeated.

The junior trainer grumpily recalled the half-melted bird.

“Go, finish off that overgrown salamander.”

He threw forward another Pokéball, black with glowing red stripes like the previous one. Out of it came a spiky-feathered legendary bird that Mark recognized immediately as Zapdos.

The pitch-black and shocking yellow thunderbird opened its long beak as it ascended through the air, letting out an electrical cry of “Dooos!”

“Charmander, quick, uh…”

Mark didn’t have time to make an order; Zapdos fiercely flapped its wings without a command and released a bolt of lightning which shot down and hit Charmander. He screamed in pain, then went stiff and fell down to the floor like a stone statue.

“Charmander! Are you all right?” asked Mark worriedly. Since there was no response, he was forced to recall his Pokémon and wait until he would be able to heal him.

“Go, Sandshrew!” Mark did this without much thought; Sandshrew seemed like the obvious one since he was a Ground Pokémon and therefore immune to Electric attacks, but immediately after the yellowish brown armadillo materialized on the floor, he realized how foolish a decision it had been; Sandshrew wouldn’t be able to harm Zapdos either unless it came near enough for him to scratch it.

“Drill Peck,” said the junior trainer dully. Immediately, the thunderbird let out another cry towards Sandshrew as it prepared to dive.

“Sandshrew, Defense Curl!” Mark ordered quickly, that being just about the only thing he could do. The armadillo Pokémon locked tightly up in a knot in an amazingly short time; Mark quickly looked up to watch Zapdos again. The spiky bird now started spinning like a drill in mid-air and then dove towards Sandshrew at high speed, jabbing him with its beak. The curled-up Sandshrew rolled like a soccer ball from the impact; Mark automatically blocked his path with his foot. Immediately, the armadillo uncurled, seemingly unharmed, and focused on Zapdos again, although, as Mark couldn’t help noticing, with a complete lack of determination.

Zapdos swooped down again without an order. Likewise, Sandshrew curled up without Mark having the time to say anything. This time, though, Sandshrew rolled himself powerfully out of the way. Zapdos barely avoided crashing, pulled up and was clearly getting ticked off by now. With yet another electrified “Do-o-os”, the thunderbird started zooming back and forth near the ceiling, gaining speed as it went and soon turning into a blurred streak of yellow and black before it lunged down at Sandshrew again. The armadillo Pokémon didn’t have time to curl up again, and being stabbed with Zapdos’ long, spear-like beak in his vulnerable white underbelly was too much. Letting out a piercing cry, Sandshrew was thrown a bit backwards, but then collapsed, his chest bleeding disturbingly much.

“Oh God,” Mark muttered, still unable to do anything about it but just recall the Pokémon and hope he would be all right. Now it was facing the next problem.

Mark automatically grabbed Eevee’s Pokéball, but hesitated. Eevee was so young, and had immediately started to trust him out of childish innocence. How could he let Eevee get as badly injured as Charmander and Sandshrew?

He couldn’t.

His hand moved to Gyarados’ ball, plucked it off his Pokéball belt, and threw it at the pool as he bit his lip. Sending out a Gyarados against an Electric Pokémon? He had to be going crazy.

Gyarados took shape out of the red light as Mark’s Pokéball bounced back into his hand. An intimidating roar sounded from the sea monster, visibly unnerving even the legendary Pokémon.

“Thunderbolt,” said the junior trainer, smirking. Zapdos prepared to do the same thing as on Charmander, but the most that happened were a few sparks that shot between its wing feathers.

“Dos!” growled the legendary with a hint of annoyance, attempting to charge up electricity again. Mark’s mind raced. Zapdos was probably tired after the battle with Sandshrew; did Gyarados perhaps have a chance?

“Dragon Rage!” Mark roared. Gyarados raised his head and, letting out another ear-splitting roar, he fired a jet of crimson red, dark flames from his mouth.

The blast hit Zapdos powerfully. The bird stayed in the air for a second, stiff; then, with a weak “dos…”, it fell to the floor. A smile broke out on Mark’s face; Dragon Rage was a very, very powerful attack at this stage of his journey, because it always hurt exactly as much, completely independent of the user’s strength or any kind of weaknesses and resistances. That meant that the attack’s outcome depended purely on the victim’s ability to endure pain – a weak, inexperienced Pokémon, such as most of the ones he was facing now, would therefore fall unconscious from being subjected to it once. He was just remembering this now – some of Mrs. Grodski’s classes appeared to have sunk in after all.

He grinned. He would sweep this gym’s floors with legendaries, all on account of Gyarados’ Dragon Rage attack.

“Zapdos, return,” said the junior trainer dully, holding the Pokéball forward and recalling the battered bird. “Go… Moltres…”

From the junior trainer’s expression and even duller tone in these words, he was also well aware of how powerful Dragon Rage was against such low-leveled Pokémon. He threw the Pokéball with less enthusiasm than before; the golden phoenix that was the third and last of the legendary birds of Kanto burst out of it in a flash of red light.

“Mooool!” the swan-like bird cried, smoothly ascending into the air and leaving a trail of flames behind from its fiery wings and tail. When it was just slightly below the ceiling, the bird shook its head powerfully, the fire that rested atop its head blazing up and adding to the powerful image of the legendary. Moltres flapped its flaming wings slowly, focusing on Gyarados with keen eyes, ready to take an order.

“Another Dragon Rage!” Mark called, slightly nervously; what if it wouldn’t work? Gyarados immediately released a blast of crimson fire from his mouth again, but with the grace of only a legendary, the phoenix dived down, evading the attack with ease.

“Oh man,” Mark murmured, gritting his teeth. “That thing can dodge.”

“Glow,” said the junior trainer. Mark flipped through his head, not remembering any attack called that, as he watched Moltres start to glow bright white. Suddenly something clunked into place, and Mark realized that this was the preparation for a Sky Attack.

“Gyarados – Dragon Rage!” he commanded desperately, hoping that the sea monster would be quick enough to get the hit in. Unfortunately, just as Gyarados started forming the dragon flames in his throat, Moltres’ glowing swan shape shot towards the huge monster at amazing speed, its beak stabbing Gyarados right where two plates of his deep blue armor met: the exact place where he was vulnerable.

With a terrible roar, the sea monster screwed his eyes shut, flailing around in pain with the no longer glowing Moltres still stuck with its beak between two enormous plates of armor. Interestingly enough, Gyarados’ size was such that he managed to splash enough water at the phoenix to almost put out its fire. A high-pitched screech was heard from the legendary bird as it tried to flutter away while Gyarados regained his balance.

“And now, quickly, another Dragon Rage!” Mark blurted out.

Being wet clearly slowed Moltres down considerably, since as the bird tried to fly out of the way, Gyarados managed to fire yet another blast of crimson flames, hitting this time. Moltres fell unconscious in mid-air and dropped limply to the ground.

“Wow,” Mark muttered to himself as the junior trainer resentfully recalled his last Pokémon. “That’s got to be the only time in history a battle was won on account of Splash.”

The junior trainer took a small thing that looked like a car key out of his pocket, pressing a button on it. The Pokéball-shaped door on the other end of the arena slid open with a rumbling noise. The trainer pointed lousily over his shoulder with his thumb and then walked up to the bench again, sitting grumpily down with crossed arms. Mark nervously walked towards the door, but then stopped.

“Can I go back? I need to heal my Pokémon,” he asked the trainer, feeling a sting of guilt for having almost forgotten how injured Charmander and Sandshrew were.

“You don’t need to, there’s a nurse just beyond the door,” the junior trainer muttered, still sulking.

Mark walked through the round doorway; it immediately closed after him. As the junior trainer had said, a blond-haired woman in a white uniform waited just by the entrance, clutching a Pocket Healer in her hands.

“Good morning,” she said politely with a small bow. “Would you like me to heal your Pokémon?”

“Er, yeah… thank you,” Mark said, carefully handing her the Pokéballs. She gave a tiny nod, placing one ball at a time into the Pocket Healer and pressing the heal button.

“Done,” she said, smiling, as she handed the balls back to Mark. He thanked her and then went on to the battle arena, which was identical to the previous one. This time around, however, the trainer wore red clothes with white linings on them, had bushy, purple hair, and was already standing in his square, grinning broadly with a scary glare of enthusiasm.

“Three on three,” he said in a loud, clear voice with a British accent, holding one of those black and red Pokéballs. “Go, Raikou!”

The Pokéball released a huge tiger-like Pokémon, yellow in color. Its unnaturally long claws and fangs combined with the fact that its face was all hidden made it look scary; a black triangular plate covered the forehead and nose, four metallic-looking whiskers spread out from the front of its muzzle, and creamy white tufts of fur handled the sides of the head.

Mark had never been that much of a Raikou fan compared to the other legendaries, but he found a certain grace in the way the tiger’s muscles tightened under the black-striped skin and the absolute determination in its red eyes, the only visible parts of the face. Unsurely, he grabbed hold of Sandshrew’s ball. Raikou was very well capable of using Crunch and other non-Electric attacks, and Sandshrew didn’t know any Ground attacks.

But it wasn’t like Charmander or Eevee would do much better, and letting Gyarados get beaten by the first Pokémon that was sent out would be suicide. He made his decision.

“Sandshrew, go!” he shouted, throwing forward the Pokéball. As it bounced off the ground, it released the armadillo Pokémon in a flash of red. Sandshrew didn’t appear to be a fan of Raikou either; his eyes opened very wide at the sight of the tiger and then he curled tightly up into a ball, which appeared to be his ideal solution to whatever problems he was facing.

“Raikou, Calm Mind!” shouted the junior trainer. The tiger closed its eyes and bowed its head in deep concentration, then started glowing with a faint lavender aura. After a few seconds of waiting, Raikou raised its head again, its eyes open.

“This won’t do, Sandshrew, Raikou will just use some stat boosters!” Mark said impatiently to the scaly sphere that was supposed to be his Pokémon, poking it with his toe. Sandshrew slowly uncurled, but this was the chance the junior trainer was waiting for; he quickly gave Raikou another order:

“Crunch, now!”

The tiger leapt at Sandshrew before he had the sense to curl up again, and with a roar, it locked its jaws around Sandshrew’s body. The armadillo Pokémon’s arms helplessly flailed around in mid-air; he gave a squeak when Raikou started squeezing its jaws together. A few drops of blood fell to the ground.

“No… Sandshrew, come back,” Mark said limply, holding up the Pokéball so that Sandshrew was absorbed into it. Perhaps Pokémon battling wasn’t the right sport for him…

“Go, er… Charmander.”

Mark still didn’t want to send out Eevee, although he wasn’t sure why he was more ready to let Charmander get hurt.

The little lizard came out of the ball in a red beam of light and clearly didn’t like Raikou that much either.

“I’m supposed to battle that?” he whispered in disbelief, flicking his big eyes quickly back at Mark.

“Sorry, Charmander, we have to,” Mark answered with a pained expression. “Just do your best.”

Charmander nodded slowly and said in an odd voice: “Yes. I will.”

Immediately after Charmander finished that sentence, the junior trainer gave Raikou a new command:

“Raikou, Spark!”

The thunder tiger started sparkling with electricity and jumped towards the much smaller Fire Pokémon. Charmander leapt to the side with surprising agility and then grabbed hold of Raikou’s jagged, metallic tail. Snarling oddly in a way that wasn’t very much like him, Charmander spat a bit of fire at the tail end. The reaction was immediate; a painful howl came from the legendary’s mouth at first as its body stiffened, then it started sprinting across the arena in an attempt to shake Charmander off. The lizard held on as well as he could, occasionally breathing flames on the tail end again in order to keep it hot. Mark could see that it was slowly melting.

Finally, Charmander fell off, bouncing once off the floor before landing on his side, seemingly unconscious. The junior trainer desperately tried to tell Raikou to stop running around in circles, but the Pokémon ignored it, putting higher priority on cooling down its tail than finishing the battle. For a few seconds, Mark was worried about Charmander as he didn’t move, but then the small Pokémon stood up with difficulty, looking dizzy and breathing very hard. He started walking towards Mark.

“I… have a headache…” he said weakly, then dropped back on four legs, panting uncontrollably as sweat sprouted on his skin.

Slowly, the little Pokémon started emitting a bright white glow. Mark and the junior trainer both watched, stunned; even Raikou stopped running and turned its head sharply to watch.

“You weren’t going to evolve until later, remember?” Mark said, remembering what they had discussed at the restaurant the previous day. On second thought, that was a stupid thing to say; obviously Charmander had to remember it, but he was in no state to resist the evolution.

Charmander’s now pure white shape was steadily growing larger and bulkier. A small horn grew out of the back of the Pokémon’s head. His muzzle lengthened. Then the growth came to a halt. For a second, the shape was just there emitting a bright aura; then the glow faded, revealing a crimson red Charmeleon: bigger, more muscular and dragon-like, but otherwise somewhat similar to Charmander.

A more adult-shaped eye looked at Mark. A weak, deep “Char…” came from the evolved Pokémon, but then his legs collapsed under him and he lay limply on the ground, fainted.

Shaking, Mark held forward a Pokéball. “R-return,” he stammered, his freshly-evolved friend disappearing into a beam of red energy.



Mark are you sure you know what's best for Charmander's health better than he does with your zero understanding of how Pokémon training works and active dislike of the school subject where you study that sort of thing, are you SURE (also Charmander stick up for yourself, don't just go along with his nonsense)

There's a lot of weird treatment of Pokémon going on here once again. Mark goes starry-eyed at the notion that Gyarados will obey him, just after learning he's been starving (and of course does not deign to attempt to talk to him about this at all); I think I pretty much only knew this word at the time from the obedience mechanic in the games, so maybe it sounded slightly less oof to me at the time. Then there's his whole explanation of training framing it as trainers using their Pokémon to battle. I hate it, please stop. The notion of a debate about the legitimacy of Pokéballs also has me cringing a lot, as if the obvious answer in this world isn't "Pokéballs are bad if and only if the Pokémon in question doesn't want to be in one, which they can easily and clearly communicate", but at least I guess we can charitably pretend it's a debate where some people think Pokéballs should be outlawed entirely because of potential for abuse.

Mark's explanation of Pokémon trainers beginning with "it's a person who keeps Pokémon inside little balls" kills me, though. Truly the correct detail to lead with, amazing.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the inherent comical nature of a gym where throwaway cardboard-cutout junior trainers use actual legendaries who go down in a few hits from tiny unevolved opponents (and a Gyarados with a cheap cheese move because something possessed me to give him Dragon Rage early in this revision, a fantastic way to make Gyarados's acquisition seem less like a convenient deus ex machina), because we are going to spend a while on this - though thankfully with some other wild stuff happening in between fights. I got it into my head as a child that it was very silly the anime's gym leaders never had junior trainers like in the games, and in my fanfic I was going to do it properly, i.e. by making my main character have a bunch of pointless extra battles before the ones with actual stakes, just because a video game does it. A+ writing decision, twelve-year-old self (and further A+ writing decision from my fourteen-year-old self, who only cut down the junior trainer battles slightly for this revision).

Rick's junior trainers are all based on particular trainer sprites from the games; can you spot which ones from my descriptions?
 
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Chibi Pika

Stay positive
Staff
Location
somewhere in spacetime
Pronouns
they/them
Partners
  1. custom/pikachu-chibi
  2. lugia
  3. palkia
  4. custom/lucario-shiny
  5. custom/incineroar-starr
Y'know, even though the legendary gym is deeply silly and getting the boot in the revision, I'm having fun imagining the timeline where the gym has like, worldbuilding attached to it:
  • Obviously being the coolest gym ever not just to Mark but pretty much half the kids in the region. The training community constantly begging Rick to allow spectators to his matches. Rick, of course, refusing every time.
  • Junior trainer battles set up like a puzzle boss to essentially force new trainers to think outside the box to defeat a vastly stronger foe. Possibly not even going to the knockout, just until you can show that you can actually hold your own against Rick.
  • Every so often pocket cam footage of Rick's battles shows up on Youtube and is near-instantly taken down. Everyone downloads it and hosts it elsewhere anyway.
  • Oodles of conspiracy theories that somehow manage to be even more batshit than the actual truth. Authority figures calmly explaining why the theories are nonsense and there's nothing worth investigating.
Alternatively, for the stone-evo gym:
  • That One Blog that posts constantly about how there are Legendaries in the gym. They've interviewed everyone who's ever had a friend of a friend claim to see one. They will not stop until they have Uncovered The Truth. Wake up, everyone!
  • Badly focused, overly-bright footage of an Arcanine that is totally an Entei you guys, never-before-seen footage of real Legendaries in Rick's gym!!
  • "Say, have you ever noticed that the number of Raikou sightings has dropped severely since last year, really makes you think. 🤔🤔🤔"
  • Taylor publicly traipsing around with Mewtwo² is probably the happiest day of Blog Owner's life.
 
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Chapter 7: Charmeleon's Trainer

Dragonfree

Moderator
Staff
Location
Iceland
Pronouns
she/her/hers
Partners
  1. butterfree
  2. mightyena
  3. charizard
  4. custom/scyther-mia
I am delighted by the thought of That One Blog

(should probably use spoiler tags to post actual references to later bits of the fic, though :P)

Either way, chapter seven, wherein we get some awkward backstory infodumping and Mark buying TMs.




Chapter 7: Charmeleon’s Trainer​

2021-07-30-chapter7.png

Mark was stunned by Charmander’s evolution itself, but no less the fact that even though they had decided to postpone the evolution to a better time, neither of them had been able to do anything to stop it. It also wouldn’t stop bothering him what Charmander was like just before the evolution; he had looked so sickly, sweating like that, and had a headache. And how he acted when he battled Raikou – it wasn’t normal. Not like him.

Nevertheless, as he reminded himself, he was still in a battle, and two out of the three Pokémon he could use for the battle had fainted, one of the possibilities left being really young, and the other one extremely vulnerable to the opponent’s attacks. He tried to think, but felt he was absolutely unable to concentrate while still worrying about whether Charmeleon was still the same person as before or not.

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, then opened them again.

“I forfeit.”

“What?” the junior trainer said, apparently finding this absolutely unheard of.

“I give up,” said Mark a bit louder. “I’m going to lose the battle anyway.”

“You’ll have to battle both of us again,” the junior trainer pointed out.

“Can I just have a quick one-on-one with the guy before you or something?” Mark called back. The junior trainer, not really disliking the idea, shrugged and picked up a car key thing like the other junior trainer had possessed, pointing it at the door Mark came through so that it opened.

“Thanks,” he said before jerking around and running through the door.

The junior trainer in the first room noticed him and apparently had had cases of people rushing through his arena in the wrong direction before, because without words he picked up a key and opened the front door for Mark. He threw a yell of “Thanks!” over his shoulder before exiting. He was in such a hurry that he didn’t notice the girl he crashed into in the doorway.

Both of them fell over, landing harshly on the ground.

“Ow,” Mark groaned, standing heavily up. So did the girl. He was about to say sorry for running into her, but then recognized her as the blue-haired girl whose Skarmory had given Charmander a beating at the Lake of Purity.

She was still wearing the same clothes, but three other things were different about her. Firstly, her hair was done differently; now two locks fell down on either side of her face outside the ponytails, which also no longer stuck into the air like that, but rather just a little to the sides. Secondly, she had a necklace. Thirdly, her Pokéballs were missing.

Mark stared at her waist for a few seconds, seeing no trace of the battered Pokéball belt that used to be there. He saw her right eyebrow rise higher on her forehead, before she realized why he was staring. She gave a faint smile.

“My Pokéball belt was getting old, and in the mart this morning I saw these Pokéball necklaces and couldn’t resist buying one,” she explained, pointing at what Mark had taken for red orbs on the necklace when they were actually real, minimized Pokéballs. “It’s more convenient against thieves, anyway,” the girl added.

“New hairdo?” Mark asked. The girl blushed.

“Look, whatever first impression might be forming in your head, I swear, I don’t usually change random things in my appearance like that. Normally people have a hard time convincing me to change my clothes.” She sighed. “My name’s May, by the way. Yours?”

“Mark,” he said. Apologetically, he added, “Sorry for bumping into you like that.”

“Nah, it’s okay, I have plenty of time. How is your Charmander doing, anyway?”

“He… just evolved,” said Mark faintly.

“Oh. I see.” May looked at him for a second, then asked in a different tone: “How did you get him, anyway? You from Kanto?”

“No, Sailance,” Mark answered.

“Sailance? Sorry, I don’t really know Ouen place names – I’m from Johto, you see. Originally came here to get myself a low-leveled Skarmory, my favorite Pokémon.”

Mark nodded; the next city to the south, Alumine, was famous for having the biggest Skarmory nesting ground in the world just outside it. Then his brain told him there was something wrong with this statement combined with what he already knew.

“Wait – did you get a Caterpie as your first Pokémon?”

May sighed deeply. “No,” she said. “Professor Elm gave me a Cyndaquil. I actually picked her just because she was female, and females are so valuable – I seriously have no idea what I was thinking, because I hate Cyndaquil. She didn’t exactly like me that much either. Then, while I was training just north of Cleanwater, I found this guy and battled him. He had a funny-looking Pikachu, and I used Cyndaquil against him. Basically, she was losing, but then suddenly she evolved in the middle of the battle and beat his weird Pikachu. I actually like Quilava – don’t ask me why I like Quilava but hate Cyndaquil – but as a person, I don’t think she will ever like me.

“Then, completely unexpectedly, the boy wanted to trade his Charmander for my Quilava, and said it was level 15. So I thought, yeah, why not? And I actually gave that stupid little git my Quilava,” she spat the words ‘stupid little git’ very pronouncedly, “for a Charmander I had never seen that then turned out to be level five. And I got so angry (and stupid, mind you) that I actually tossed Charmander’s ball away and went to try and find that boy, who had of course just left with my Quilava. That’s actually the reason why I’m still here in Ouen; I’m trying to find that guy and get my Quilava back, but I think I’m taking part in the league too since I’m here anyway. But I’m a bit worried about the Charmander, because either he’s there somewhere in his Pokéball, or he got out of it and…” Her eyes darted around as if she was wondering how to word what she was going to say, but finally just finished it with three words: “Well, it rained.”

She suddenly looked at Mark. “What’s wrong? You’re so pale.”

“Wha… er, no, it’s nothing,” said Mark quickly. “Sorry.”

May’s right eyebrow ascended again, indicating that she didn’t really believe him, but she said nothing. There was an awkward silence

“Well, I sorta need to challenge Rick, so… see you around,” she finally said, turning back to the Gym. Mark’s eyes flicked to the Pokémon center further down the street, and he nodded. “Yeah, I have to go too.”

May shot a quick look at him. “Well, bye then, Mark.”

“Bye,” he replied. As May stepped into the gym, Mark broke into a run again, hurrying even more to the Pokémon Center.

Charmander technically belonged to May. There was no question about that; she had received him in a trade. But then again, she had thrown him away like a piece of garbage, just because he wasn’t high-leveled enough for her almightiness, and she had agreed to a trade which opposed the Agreement – trades were never supposed to happen without consulting the Pokémon first.

Although she did seem to regret having thrown Charmander away.

All the same, thought Mark, calming a bit down, I’m his trainer now, and she couldn’t claim him back unless it was what he wanted.

He slowed down as he reached the automatic door to the Pokémon Center. It opened, and he walked hastily inside.

“Nurse Joy…” he panted, ringing the bell and experiencing a déjà vu flashback from last night. A few seconds passed, Mark’s heart pounding in his chest; then the nurse came out of the back room.

“What can I do for you this time?” she asked warmly.

“It’s… it’s my Charmander… I mean Charmeleon…”

“What about him?” she asked.

“He evolved, and he seems so different, he couldn’t stop it because he was so weak when it happened, and I’m worried, oh please…” Mark took a deep breath while Nurse Joy’s face turned grave; he just handed her Charmeleon’s Pokéball.

“Come with me,” said Nurse Joy, taking the ball and gesturing for him to follow her into the blue back room.

“Before I start treating him, I’d like to talk to you,” said the nurse, looking deep into his eyes. “No matter how different he might seem after the evolution, he’s still the same Pokémon. Pokémon evolution is like growing up; when you’re a kid you have certain ideas about the world, but when you become a teenager they might change a bit – or a lot. For Pokémon who just evolved, it’s the exact same thing except that it happened all of a sudden rather than gradually as it would in a human’s case. If he had enough respect for you as a Charmander, he will still be ready to battle for you no matter what happens. He could be very different, or he could be pretty much the same – but there will definitely be a change. Your Pokémon is no longer a child, and you need to realize that. Treat him with care, and don’t give him a reason to dislike you. A reason for him to dislike you is not necessarily what would be a reason for you to dislike him; he’s basically a moody teenager whose limits should not be pushed. Do you understand?”

Mark felt sick, but nodded.

“Good. This might take some time, so please wait in the waiting room.”

Mark walked into the fluffy waiting room with a knot in his stomach. He wondered who had the stupid idea of making the waiting room pink and red; these colors were absolutely inappropriate and way too happy. The gloom of the back room would’ve been much better.

He was also not too fond of this Nurse Joy. Mark didn’t want a moody teenager whose limits should not be pushed; he wanted his friend back. The last thing he’d ever care about would be whether he would still obey.

He flung himself into one of the sofas and for half an hour or so, he sat there with a blank expression, staring at an ad for Kantonian Airways. A red-haired boy who seemed to fit very well with all the fluffy pinkness decided to try to be funny by waving his hand in front of Mark’s face. He hated himself for smiling at it; it wasn’t funny at all.

Finally, Nurse Joy came out of the back room, holding Charmeleon’s Pokéball. Mark immediately sprang up, running towards the desk.

“He seems fine physically,” said the red-headed nurse. “You judge the mental part.”

With a small bow, she handed Mark the Pokéball. He accepted it and walked out of the Pokémon Center.

He stopped beside the building, hesitated, but then dropped the Pokéball to the ground. Charmeleon materialized from red energy as Mark caught the ball again.

For a few seconds, they just looked into each other’s eyes. Mark had never noticed how awkwardly small Charmeleon had been as a Charmander; even now, evolved, he was smaller than an average Charmeleon.

“Hi,” said Charmeleon finally in a low voice. Mark suddenly felt a lot better.

“Hi.” Mark paused, leaning against the wall and staring into the air. “Sorry we didn’t get to postpone your evolution as we intended.”

“It’s okay,” said Charmeleon, leaning up to the wall too and likewise not looking at Mark. “It felt quite amazing, actually.”

“What was it like?” Mark asked, this being one of the things he had often wondered about although his voice wasn’t up to showing interest of any kind at the moment.

“Everything just disappeared in a bright white light. First I thought I was dying… then I felt the power that was always hidden somewhere in my body burst out. I felt like… like I was melting. I had a kind of a vision of a Charmeleon walking towards me, pulling me away and taking my place… a twinge of pain at this point for some reason, I think… but immediately afterwards, I felt so much wiser and older. Then the white light faded, I saw you, but I was very weak after the evolution and lost consciousness…”

He hesitated.

“You know, it’s weird – when I think back at my Charmanderhood, it feels so… childish.”

Suddenly he looked straight at Mark, meeting his eyes.

“It’s strange… Why did I just want you to train me back there? Why wasn’t I suspicious of you for a single moment? Not that I am now,” he added quickly, “but… I mean, what if you had been a bad trainer and abused me or something? It was a stupid thing to do, just accepting you as my trainer immediately because you told me you saved my life. Don’t take me wrong, I mean… of course you are trustworthy, but what did I know then? You could’ve been somebody… bad.”

Mark had no answer to that. Charmeleon didn’t appear to be expecting one, either; it was more like he was thinking out loud.

“Well, I was lucky. Really lucky.” Charmeleon smiled faintly at Mark and then turned away again.

“Do you feel like wiping out some more junior trainers?”

They grinned at each other; both knew the answer.

“Come on,” Mark said, holding Charmeleon’s Pokéball forward. The red beam shot out of it, dissolving the Pokémon.

Mark hesitated for a moment. He had been in a rather hopeless situation earlier, mainly because his Pokémon’s attacks were kind of weak compared to the ones the legendaries knew. The only one with a halfway decent attack was Gyarados.

He remembered when he had seen the TMs and HMs at the Pokémart. He thought for a bit. Flamethrower was a TM. Earthquake was a TM. Return was a TM.

One good TM for each of his Pokémon except Gyarados would probably give him the edge.

Mark walked decisively towards the market. He went back to the shelf he remembered as containing the Technical and Hidden Machines. Ten years ago, Hidden Machines were really rare items. Now, you could buy them at Pokémon markets for around the same price as a TM.

He browsed through the selection of CD covers. Each of them had a photo of a Pokémon performing the attack it contained, the TM or HM number, and the attack’s name. He found TM35 for Flamethrower, TM26 for Earthquake and TM27 for Return; they were more expensive than the Potions and Pokéballs, but still relatively cheap. He made carefully sure to himself that these attacks would definitely work well; then he went to the counter to pay the punk dude.

After he got outside again, he let Charmeleon out.

“Charmeleon,” he said in a formal tone, “are you willing to accept this Flamethrower as your first Technical Machine move?”

The Pokémon grinned. “I do,” he then said seriously.

“Good,” said Mark. He opened the CD cover carefully; even though he thought he knew how to use a TM, he checked the instructions with the disc carefully just to make sure. He then took it, and touched Charmeleon’s head gently with it.

The CD’s vibrant red slowly drained away from it, leaving it dull gray and useless and enveloping the Pokémon with a fiery glow. Charmeleon closed his eyes; the glow slowly sank into his skin.

It was done.

“Do you feel any wiser?” Mark asked, not sure how exactly it was supposed to work.

“Sure do,” said the Pokémon with a smile.

“Great. You can go back into your ball, then.”

Mark held forward the Pokéball; Charmeleon was drained into it as a beam of red light from the button hit him. He took out the second ball.

“Sandshrew, go!”

Mark’s Ground Pokémon appeared, curling into a scaly ball before even seeing whether he was in battle or not. Mark laughed.

“Oh, come on, you aren’t going to get hurt, I’m just going to teach you a TM.”

Sandshrew uncurled in an instant, looking unsurely up at his trainer. Mark felt a twinge of guilt; Sandshrew didn’t trust him. Of course he didn’t. Mark wouldn’t trust somebody who kept letting him get injured, either.

“I’m… sorry about it all, you know,” he said in a low voice. “I didn’t mean to get you hurt so much.”

“Shrew,” the Pokémon said unhappily.

“Well… would you forgive me if I made sure you never lost a battle again?”

Sandshrew didn’t answer.

“At least, I’ve got a TM for you. You know what that is, right?”

The armadillo Pokémon nodded faintly.

“Yeah, and it’s Earthquake. That’s a very, very powerful attack. You’re going to do great with it.”

Sandshrew had apparently heard of this devastating attack sometime among the Sandshrew he grew up with; he just nodded, quite a bit more confidently than he had ever looked before.

“So…” Mark took out the second CD cover, opened it and picked up the disc, “stand still and concentrate.”

Sandshrew closed his eyes; Mark touched him with the CD, orangeish brown this time, and like before, the color faded from the disc and instead started circling Sandshrew in the form of energy. It then seeped through his hide. The armadillo shook himself powerfully, then looked back up at Mark with his beady black eyes, perhaps a bit less hopelessly than before.

“We’ll beat those junior trainers now, right?” Mark said meaningfully.

“Sand,” said the Pokémon, nodding.

“Good,” said Mark, smiling, as he recalled the armadillo Pokémon.

Next up, it was Eevee. Mark took a deep breath.

“Go.” The small brown furball emerged, looking curiously around and eying Mark intensely.

“Eevee, you don’t know what a TM is, do you?”

Eevee shook his head.

“Well…” Mark found it so awkward to be explaining so many things to Eevee; why did he have to go through all this but not anybody else?

“See,” he finally began, “Pokémon know moves. You know that, right?”

The Pokémon nodded.

“Yeah… and TMs… or Technical Machines… can be used to teach a Pokémon a move that it couldn’t learn otherwise.”

“Vi?” the small Pokémon questioned.

“Well, see – I take this disc,” he removed the Return TM from the cover, “and when I touch you with it, your cells will react to it and then a complicated process starts, and basically, after it you’ll be able to focus your power in a – er – new way.”

Eevee nodded nervously.

“Okay, then…” Mark took the disc and lightly made it touch Eevee’s head. The Pokémon let out a small sound, but didn’t move. His eyes closed; white orbs of energy drained from the disc and started circling Eevee slowly. They went faster and faster, and finally faded into Eevee’s fur. He shivered, opened his eyes and moaned a little.

“Are you okay?” asked Mark, concerned. Eevee nodded a bit, shook himself vigorously and appeared to feel better afterwards.

“Now, uh… do you trust me?”

Eevee nodded.

“Then focus on it very carefully,” Mark said, not sure how to explain the attack. Eevee screwed his eyes shut, concentrating.

Slowly, a pinkish aura started emitting from Eevee. He let out a soft squeal of curiosity, probably feeling energy building up in his body.

“Great!” Mark cheered. “This attack is called Return. You basically do that, and then tackle the opponent. Okay?”

Eevee nodded nervously, the pink glow fading.

“Ready to go to the Gym?” Mark asked carefully.

“Vee,” said Eevee decisively, nodding.

Mark was still not sure whether it would be right to use Eevee in battle.



So what happened here is something like this: my twelve-year-old self made my first gym leader train legendaries, mostly because I wanted all my gym leaders to have fully evolved Pokémon, and there are very few Pokémon that can be fully evolved at very low levels, so clearly the obvious solution was the first gym leader trains cloned legendaries what do you mean that's bonkers. But when I made my main character battle all his tedious junior trainers that I also insisted on having, I found that it was pretty awkward writing about him beating these whole-ass legendary Pokémon with his Pokémon that know Scratch and Ember and Tackle. And the correct solution to this dilemma, twelve-year-old me figured, was not to make Mark use some cool strategies that'd make it make sense they could beat the legendaries (I sure couldn't think of any); definitely not to change this gym leader to not use legendary Pokémon. No, instead, the solution was to decide that in my fanfic you can just buy endgame TMs cheaply at any regular Pokémart, and then have him go buy some before he rechallenges the gym. Problem solved!

Then, my fourteen-year-old self saw this and decided yes, this is great, this is not cheap or boring at all, let's expand it into a full scene about Mark teaching his Pokémon TMs. Exciting.

The bit where Charmeleon describes having a vision of a Charmeleon taking his place when he evolved is a remnant of the evolution headcanon I had back when I started the precursor to this fic, wherein evolution meant a different person entirely would literally take their place, and the unevolved form would be trapped forever in a sort of pre-evolved Pokémon purgatory, forever betrayed by their trainer for letting them evolve. Why on earth was this my headcanon, at the same time as I myself had only ever refused to evolve one Pokémon on my games? Don't ask me, my eleven-year-old self is frequently a mystery to me.

The reason May has changed her hair and moved her Pokéballs to a necklace since chapter five is actually just that originally her character design was literally Kris, but then before I wrote this chapter I decided to give her a slight redesign to be a little more unique, and instead of just quietly editing the description in chapter five, this meant I went and gave her a random out-of-character makeover here that makes a big deal out of her hairdo. Why.
 
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Chapter 7 Extra: The Full Story

Dragonfree

Moderator
Staff
Location
Iceland
Pronouns
she/her/hers
Partners
  1. butterfree
  2. mightyena
  3. charizard
  4. custom/scyther-mia
And now for something a bit different: occasionally, this fic features extras. These are not mandatory reading; they're just a bit of extra background or expanding upon something in the chapter. The first one I'm posting here is simply briefly narrating the story that May already explains in the chapter, which is not terribly inspired or useful, but it is more narrative writing that's canon to the fic (and provides slightly more of a glimpse into May's character), so I might as well include it for completeness.


Chapter 7 Extra: The Full Story​


May watched intensely as Metapod went stiff and fell to the ground with a clunk. The Pokémon’s eyes closed heavily. The cocoon started rocking to the sides, and suddenly a large tear split through its shell. Blinding white light shone out of it. A crumpled, glowing shape squeezed itself through the rip. The bright light faded. On top of the green, lifeless shed was a small, dark blue creature. Slowly, it spread out the great, silky white wings that were folded around its body. A few flaps dried them; then the Pokémon took gracefully off into the air.

“Free,” sounded the Butterfree’s cry.

May was pleased; finally after all this training with a braindead, immobile cocoon, it had evolved into something of worth. Not the most statistically powerful Pokémon out there – Butterfree were very fragile, and it was more the exception than the rule if it survived a single blow – but very adept at strategically disarming its opponent with poisonous powders.

“Like flying, Butterfree?” she asked fondly. This Pokémon would bring her many a victory. Her freshly caught Skarmory would, too. Unlike Cyndaquil. May had picked her first Pokémon only for being a very valuable female starter. But Cyndaquil was, and had always been, a very unattractive Pokémon to her. A hedgehog/anteater cross was the first thing that came to mind when she saw it for the first time. That long snout, squinted eyes, tiny legs…

May had therefore, much to her own dismay, never been able to appreciate her starter, despite being female. Of course, Pokémon tended to pick up their trainer’s feelings towards them very quickly, and Cyndaquil had soon grown to despise her too. It was a no-win situation.

“Hey! You there! Girl!” called a voice. May turned around. It was a boy of around twelve or thirteen, a little older than her, wearing red shorts with a lot of pockets and a black T-shirt. Long, fiery red hair surrounded his face, falling a bit into his big, gray eyes.

“What?” she asked.

“Could you battle me?”

May shrugged. She held up Butterfree’s Pokéball lazily, recalling the butterfly Pokémon. “One on one?”

“Go!” the boy said, throwing forward an odd, black and red type of Pokéball that May had never seen before. It opened to reveal some kind of Pikachu.

Yet, the Pikachu didn’t look right. The yellow, mouse-like body was familiar, as were the long ears – but not the blue, shiny balls that tipped them. Its claws also looked greatly extended from what she would have labeled as a normal Pikachu, and were also shiny blue. Its tail was not the lightning-bolt shape it was supposed to be, but rather a jagged, black thread, ending in a blue triangle.

“Pika,” it hissed in a deep, menacing voice that could at the very most belong to a Pikachu with a very bad case of cold. Suddenly, bright blue waves of electricity started streaming between the balls on its ears.

May knew her types. Electric attacks would be very effective on both Butterfree and Skarmory. She couldn’t risk that, even if that meant sending her starter out.

“Cyndaquil, I choose you!” The Pokéball burst open, sending forward a beam of red energy that formed into May’s first Pokémon.

On Cyndaquil’s shiny black back, flames sprouted out as she resentfully cried out her name. She didn’t like battling for May very much, but she still did. Probably she had some loyalty gene in there.

The boy smirked. “Shock Charge!”

May, despite having studied carefully up on Pokémon attacks, had no idea what Shock Charge was supposed to be, except that it obviously was an Electric attack.

The strange Pikachu got down on all fours with another menacing hiss and leapt towards Cyndaquil. She was caught in the middle of the electric current between its ears and froze with a pained scream of “QUIIIIL!” The Pikachu stood back up, grinning so that two vampire-like fangs glinted in its mouth. Cyndaquil’s flames died down in an instant as she fell down on her back, unable to move.

“Darn it!” May drove her foot into the grass, biting her lip. Shock Charge seemingly paralyzed the target.

“Slam!”

The Pikachu nodded, wrapped its odd, thread-like tail around Cyndaquil’s immobile body, and slammed her between two rocks a few times, seemingly enjoying it.

Suddenly, it let out a cry of pain, releasing Cyndaquil as she started glowing bright white. The boy stared wide-eyed at what was happening, but May wasn’t moved. She had expected it.

Cyndaquil’s shape changed, her head becoming more distinguished from her body and turning into more of a triangle shape as it grew ears. Her stubby legs lengthened into full-fledged paws. Her overall outline became more elegant and less chubby, just as her whole shape grew larger. Finally, the glow subsided, replaced with an evolved Pokémon.

“Quilava!” she announced as flames flared up on her head and backside, looking at May with newly-opened eyes.

“Quilava, Ember!” she commanded, clenching her fist. Quilava spewed a blast of brightly-colored flames at the unsuspecting Pikachu, leaving it scorched on the ground.

May looked triumphantly at the boy. Without words, he recalled the Pikachu back into its Pokéball. He seemed to be about to leave when he suddenly asked: “Hey, I have a Charmander. Want to trade it for your Quilava?”

 

Flyg0n

Flygon connoisseur
Pronouns
She/her
Partners
  1. flygon
  2. swampert
  3. ho-oh
  4. crobat
  5. orbeetle
wherein evolution meant a different person entirely would literally take their place, and the unevolved form would be trapped forever in a sort of pre-evolved Pokémon purgatory, forever betrayed by their trainer for letting them evolve.
yo Free, what the heck
holy smokes
that is one of the most terrifying headcanons I've read in a long time

“Look, whatever first impression might be forming in your head, I swear, I don’t usually change random things in my appearance like that.
No, the author does that 😏
Knowing that this was all due to a design change is jsut, really funny to me, because May just goes on for a bit like 'I swear I just changed my appearance' but the way she justified it makes it sound like trainers are almost not allowed to change their appearance, lol, or its super uncommon.

“My name’s May, by the way. Yours?”
I still can't believe the odds that you picked this name for her before the pokemon show had the character. Sue gamefreak!

Originally came here to get myself a low-leveled Skarmory, my favorite Pokémon.”
Ah I guess there's nowhere in all of Johto to get one, heh

He made carefully sure to himself that these attacks would definitely work well; then he went to the counter to pay the punk dude.
Why is the shop guy a punk dude. Was it mentioned previously for some reason or is he just. a punk now.

“Do you feel any wiser?” Mark asked, not sure how exactly it was supposed to work.

“Sure do,” said the Pokémon with a smile.

“Great. You can go back into your ball, then.”
I don't know why but both times I read this it made me laugh like

"Do you feel wiser"
"Yeah"
"Cool. Now get in your ball"

The wording on it is just peculiarly amazing to me.

Also I'm glad you came to the conclusion that the only solution to a gym leader who uses cloned legendaries is to.... have mark buy high-level TM's for cheap.

Also how did he get money? I guess he had enough savings but I get the impression he's not a wildly successful trainer?

But really, does that matter? Apparently they're barely pricier than potion. Glorious.

Also I am convinced that Weird Pikachu is some kind of clone/hybrid/weird thing and I'm sure it'll be relevant, can't wait to see why
 
Chapter 8: The Master of the Clones

Dragonfree

Moderator
Staff
Location
Iceland
Pronouns
she/her/hers
Partners
  1. butterfree
  2. mightyena
  3. charizard
  4. custom/scyther-mia
Whoops, this should have gone up yesterday, I swore I posted on Wednesday and not Tuesday

Chapter eight is here, featuring more tedious junior trainer battles with a couple of interesting tidbits followed by some exciting infiltration and grand revelations in more or less exactly the form I cooked up when I was twelve.


Chapter 8: The Master of the Clones​

2021-08-02-chapter8-small.png

“Do you mind if we just have a one-on-one?”

Mark asked this question nervously to the junior trainer wearing all the neon green. He was still clearly in a very bad mood, but nodded curtly.

“Go, Arcanine.”

A huge creature burst out of the Pokéball. Its overall shape was rather dog-like, but the gleaming orange fur with jet-black stripes looked more like a tiger. It shook back its cream-colored mane, letting out an ear-splitting roar as it swished a bushy tail. Its huge black claws dug into the floor as it snarled towards Mark.

“Uh… is Arcanine a legendary?” Mark asked, confused.

“It isn’t, but it was considered one in ancient times,” said the junior trainer simply. “Let’s just get this over with.”

Mark hesitated, but then took out Gyarados’s ball. It was better to be safe than sorry.

“Go!” he yelled. The sea monster formed into the pool, letting out an even louder roar. Even the Arcanine appeared to flinch for a second, but then it started growling again.

“Dragon Rage,” Mark just said.

Gyarados threw his head forward, blasting out dark flames. The Arcanine leapt skillfully out of the way and countered by leaning down low for a second and then leaping at Gyarados at incredible, unavoidable speed. The sea serpent roared in pain, darting forward and grabbing Arcanine’s tail in his mouth. The giant canine froze for a second; then it swung around and fired a great jet of fire from its mouth into Gyarados’s face. He retaliated with another blast of dragon flames, which enveloped the Arcanine. The great dog howled in pain, turned to Gyarados again and attempted to release another cloud of flames, failing. Then with a final yelp, it lost its balance and its whole majestic shape dropped down to the floor, defeated.

“Arcanine, return,” said the trainer, the dog Pokémon dissolving into red energy and being sucked into the Pokéball. “Go on.”

Mark nodded, walking across the arena to the nurse, and after getting his Pokémon healed, through the door to the purple-haired trainer.

“You back?” he asked enthusiastically. “Great! Go, Raikou!”

Mark grinned. “Go, Sandshrew!”

The armadillo Pokémon didn’t curl up upon entering the battle this time. His eyes fixed on Raikou, he awaited the order he knew he would get…

“Earthquake!”

The junior trainer’s eyes widened in surprise as Sandshrew rose to his hind legs. Slamming back into the ground, the small Pokémon made the floor ripple like liquid. The attack was unavoidable; Raikou jumped over one wave but landed just as the next one struck. As the floor rippled under the legendary’s paws, it shivered and released some electric sparks.

Sandshrew rose up for the second time, preparing to perform the attack again, but the junior trainer quickly countered: “Raikou, Crunch!”

Immediately, the tiger leapt forward, grabbing Sandshrew in its mouth like the other time and starting to squeeze.

“Scratch!” Mark ordered desperately. The small Pokémon dug its claws into Raikou’s jaw, and the tiger released him with a pained roar. Sandshrew looked rather weak and battered as he stood on his hind legs again, preparing for a final Earthquake. As he smashed his paws into the ground, the floor rippled, and Raikou, with a weak “Raiii”, lost its balance and collapsed.

“Shrew,” said the armadillo wearily, yet with a hint of pride. He had worked hard enough for now; Mark recalled him.

“Go, Entei!” yelled the trainer, hurling forward the black and red ball. A reddish-brown, bulky, lion-like Pokémon burst out of the Pokéball with a deep, loud roar. A star shape surrounded its face, yellow at the top, white at the bottom and red at the sides. A grayish-white cloak that reminded Mark of a cloud or smoke kept changing its form on the Pokémon’s back. It was Mark’s favorite out of the Legendary Beasts of Johto.

He observed Entei while he thought about which Pokémon to choose. Entei’s eyes looked back at him, painfully robotically. Mark bit his lip; he was growing to despise that Rick person before even seeing him, just for doing that to legendary Pokémon. Even if they were clones, it was wrong...

“Go, Gyarados!” he said, throwing the ball that held the sea monster. Gyarados formed with his usual opening roar. Entei started roaring back at him. For a few seconds the battle was a roaring contest between the two Pokémon; then Entei’s trainer shouted: “Sunny Day!”

The lion lifted its head towards the dome roof and closed its eyes in deep concentration. The sun appeared to get clearer and hotter.

“Dragon Rage!” Mark commanded. The trainer gasped; Gyarados formed crimson flames deep in his throat and fired them at the lion. Entei leapt to the side, dodging the attack easily.

“Entei, Flamethrower!” roared the junior trainer. The legendary inhaled deeply and sent a cloud of flames towards the sea monster. Gyarados quickly countered with another Dragon Rage. Mark knew dragon flames were stronger than normal flames, but seeing as Entei was a Fire Pokémon, he wasn’t sure Gyarados would claim victory now.

He watched worriedly. The blasts still just met in the middle where the flames mixed and formed a huge orb of fire. The two Pokémon did their best to keep up the attack, and neither appeared to be stronger than the other.

But Gyarados was much higher-leveled than his opponent, and after a few seconds, Entei had to breathe. This gave Gyarados the chance to engulf the lion in dragon flames. Another deep roar like the one Entei had started the battle with sounded; when the fire cleared, Entei lay on the ground, defeated.

“Return,” said the junior trainer disappointedly. “Go, Suicune!”

Mark held his breath as the legendary he had seen the night before at the Lake of Purity appeared out of the ball. The slender blue body was the exact same, as was the unique crystal on its head and the white, rippling ribbons. But the expression was not. Even though he had only seen Suicune at a distance, he was positive that the eyes hadn’t been so robotically blank.

Gyarados’s eyes, however, were very much filled with emotion. He stared at the legendary with a mix of anger and loathing.

“Why?” he growled. Suicune, of course, was a brainwashed clone and therefore showed no reaction except assuming a fighting stance. The purple-haired trainer stared at Gyarados, puzzled.

“It… it can talk?” he asked, for the first time getting distracted from the battle. Gyarados paid no attention to this comment; he just closed his eyes hatefully in concentration.

What happened now was amazing. The dark blue of Gyarados’ armor faded into gray. When he had turned completely grayscale, he suddenly opened his eyes with an ear-splitting roar, and two narrow, bright red beams of energy shot from his eyeballs at Suicune. The Legendary staggered backwards, looking to be in serious pain, started to sweat uncontrollably and finally fell unconscious to the floor with a weak “Cune…”

The junior trainer’s jaw dropped.

“What the heck was that?” he breathed in disbelief.

“I… I don’t know,” said Mark, just as stunned. Gyarados turned his back at the legendary and Mark sensed he wasn’t wishing to talk about reasons for anything.

“Well… looks like you won,” said the trainer, staring at the fallen beast. A pool of water was forming around the place where Suicune lay.

The trainer took out one of those keys and opened the door as Mark recalled Gyarados.

“Go on.”

Mark nodded and went through the door as the trainer recalled Suicune. The nurse healed Mark’s Pokémon in the Pocket Healer.

The next arena looked identical to the other two, but the trainer there was a little boy wearing a very awkward, formal-looking suit. He ran his fingers slowly through his blond hair.

“Hi,” he greeted dryly. “You here for a battle? I’m warning you – it won’t be easy. Two on two.”

The boy took a minimized Pokéball from inside his suit, maximized it and threw it forward.

“Go, Ho-Oh!”

What came out of the Pokéball was absolutely huge. It was a gigantic, crimson bird, almost three times as tall as the boy. It stood on big, pitch-black talons and had peculiar, mask-like markings around its eyes. The Pokémon opened its crooked beak and let out a majestic, fierce cry. Then suddenly, it pointed its head upwards, the golden, crown-like crest on its head swaying back, and stretched out its broad, colorful wings, taking off into the air.

Mark considered his options, knowing that he was doing exceptionally well against this Gym just because he knew so much about the legendaries. Ho-Oh was a Fire Pokémon, but capable of using very varied attacks. It would be a risk, but Mark plucked Gyarados’s ball off his Pokéball belt.

“GO!” he shouted. The sea monster emerged into the pool with his usual opening roar.

“Dragon Rage!” Mark ordered quickly, not wanting to risk an Electric attack making contact with Gyarados.

“Sunny Day,” said the boy calmly. Ho-Oh closed its eyes and took on a fiery glow as the sunlight shining through the dome intensified greatly. Mark shielded his eyes from the light with his hand. Gyarados breathed out a blast of crimson flames at the rainbow-colored bird and Ho-oh screeched in pain.

“And now, Solarbeam!” commanded the boy. Ho-Oh obeyed, forming an orb of sunlight in its beak and firing a white-hot beam of light at Gyarados. He roared as the beam struck him, leaving a burn mark on one of the segments of his body. He countered with another Dragon Rage, which turned out to be too much even for the legendary; Ho-Oh let out a weak cry and then landed exhaustedly on the floor.

“Return,” said the trainer disappointedly. “Lugia, do it!”

Mark felt his stomach twitch upon hearing the name of his favorite Pokémon of all; he felt both excited to see it and very pained to know that he’d just see a clone. The red and black Pokéball opened in mid-air, releasing the Pokémon it held.

If Ho-Oh was huge, Mark didn’t know what Lugia was. The bright white draconic creature stood on powerful legs, stretching its somewhat hand-like, feathered wings out to a wingspan of what looked like almost six meters. Combined with the long neck, the Pokémon itself was probably over five meters tall. Growing back from the eyes were the two black spikes that Mark had always loved the most about this legendary.

“Gyarados, Dragon Rage!” Mark ordered quickly. Gyarados wouldn’t last long, especially not after having been hit with that Solarbeam previously, but at least he’d be able to dish out some damage with the most powerful attack on his whole team.

“Lugia, Psychic!”

Lugia started glowing with a bright blue aura as Gyarados charged dragon flames in his mouth. The sea monster unleashed the attack a moment before the legendary; Lugia got hit hard by the flames, but then fired a blue blast of psychic energy at Gyarados. He roared in pain and collapsed weakly.

“Return,” Mark muttered. He considered his possibilities. Despite what some people thought, Lugia was a Psychic Pokémon rather than a Water or Dragon one, so Charmeleon wouldn’t be at a disadvantage. With it this sunny, the lizard should win.

Mark made his decision and grabbed the Pokéball with his hand.

“Go, Charmeleon!”

Mark’s evolved Pokémon came out. He appeared to flinch slightly at the sight of Lugia’s size, but quickly came back to his senses.

“Flamethrower!” Mark blurted out.

“Hyper Beam!” the trainer said, gritting his teeth.

Lugia started charging a white orb of energy in its mouth.

“No, wait, Charmeleon…”

Lugia threw its head backwards before firing the beam.

“DODGE!!!”

Charmeleon jumped swiftly out of the way, just before a bright white beam smashed into the floor just where he had been. Some of the floor seemed to melt.

“Flamethrower, now!” Mark ordered. Lugia was worn-out after using all of its energy in a Hyper Beam and couldn’t counter when Charmeleon breathed a tongue of flames towards it. With a loud cry of pain, Lugia collapsed.

“NO!” shouted the boy. He recalled Lugia disdainfully.

“Go on, then,” he muttered, opening the door. Mark went through it and healed his Pokémon nervously. The previous match had been a close call.

This arena was also identical to the previous ones. The trainer wore a lab coat and glasses and had long, black hair.

“You’re going down,” he said confidently. “One on one. Go, Mewtwo²!”

“Mew… what?” Mark questioned. The Pokéball opened to reveal a strange Pokémon.

It was a light purplish blue all over. Its head was somewhat catlike with two horns pointing straight upwards in place of ears, but the overall shape was slightly humanoid. The whole body was so unnaturally thin, though, that Mark wondered if it had ever eaten a single morsel. He could count the ribs under the furred skin, and the long arms and legs had two bony fingers or toes each. Its eyes were small, white and had no pupils. Finally, absolutely contrasting with the weakish appearance of its body, it had a very long, muscular, dark blue tail ending in a round shape.

It suddenly dawned on to Mark what it was. It was Rick’s experimental super-clone, but he had in fact ‘cheated’ – he made a super-clone of a super-clone. Super-clone².

“Go, Gyarados,” Mark said nervously, sensing that this would be a difficult battle. The blue sea monster emerged from the Pokéball into the pool. Gyarados let out his battle roar.

“What is my task?” said Mewtwo²’s voice weakly inside Mark’s head. He couldn’t help feeling horribly sorry for it.

“Fight,” the scientist ordered. He didn’t need to say anything else. Mewtwo² started glowing bright blue as the same glow took over Gyarados’ shape.

“Gyarados, Dragon Rage!” Mark commanded desperately, but Gyarados couldn’t do anything that wasn’t Mewtwo²’s will now. Slowly, he rose up into the air, drawing closer to the ceiling.

“No,” said the weak telepathic voice as Mewtwo²’s glow started fading and Gyarados got lowered back towards the pool. “I… don’t… want…” Mark saw the clone’s body starting to sweat, like it was making a great effort.

“Fight,” the scientist growled again. It was like Mewtwo² was zapped with electricity or something; its body went stiff for a second, but then it started glowing blue again. At that very moment, Gyarados unleashed a blast of crimson fire which enveloped Mewtwo². A telepathic scream of pain could be heard; then the clone was left dazed and dropped down, fainted. Mark felt a twinge of guilt.

“Return,” muttered the scientist. “Face Rick, kid,” he then said, reaching into his pocket and taking out the key to the Pokéball door. It opened slowly.

Mark went through the door and got his Pokémon healed, noticing that this arena was about double the size of the previous four. But the Gym Leader was nowhere to be seen.

“Rick went to the basement,” the nurse explained. “You’ll just wait here, won’t you? I need to go now.”

Mark nodded, and the nurse hurried out through a side door.

Mark sat down on a bench. The basement? Where was the basement? What was Rick doing there?

He stood up, walking backwards from the wall and looking if he saw a door somewhere. His foot slipped and he was sent flying into the pool.

Mark’s first thought was that he’d have to change his clothes. The second thought was that this pool was stupidly deep. The third was “What’s that hole in the wall doing there?” The fourth was that he’d better get out of the pool.

He swam to the bank and climbed up. He looked around, and, seeing no signs of Rick, he sent Gyarados out into the pool.

The sea monster looked around, seeing no opponent, and turned back to Mark.

“Could you swim down there and see what this hole in the wall is for?” Mark asked. Gyarados just nodded and dived down. Mark saw him disappear through the hole. After a few minutes, during which Mark wondered why he was being so nosy, the monster returned.

“It’s very interesting, actually,” Gyarados stated. “It’s a pretty long tunnel, but it ends where you go a bit up, and it’s got steps up, like you can empty the pool and then walk the whole way. There’s a red room there. I couldn’t go in so I didn’t see much.”

“A red room?” Mark questioned blankly. “Emptying the pool?”

“Yeah, you can probably empty it somehow. Try the light switches over there.” Gyarados jerked his head towards the wall, which had six switches on it in two columns of three.

Mark walked over there, not sure why he was doing this but driven on by curiosity.

The switches weren’t marked. He pressed the first one and the lights went out. He quickly pressed it again, but nothing happened. He tried it again a few times, but then tried the second switch. The boxes the trainers were supposed to stand in got illuminated. Nothing happened when he pressed it again, either. He tried the third one and Gyarados got lit up too. He growled, screwing his eyes shut.

“I don’t like this light, Mark,” he said.

“Sorry, I can’t turn anything off here,” Mark apologized, attempting to press this button again. The fourth switch, to Mark’s great relief, put the lights back to normal. Pressing the fifth one, he wasn’t really expecting anything interesting to happen, but with a great noise, a drain opened at the bottom of the pool and the water level started lowering.

“You’d better recall me before it empties,” Gyarados commented. Mark nodded, holding forward the Pokéball as it dissolved Gyarados into red energy. The pool took a bit of time to empty, but it was way too deep for Mark to get to the bottom.

He hopelessly tried the sixth switch, and small handles appeared out of the wall of the pool, forming a ladder.

Mark shrugged and went down, wondering what Rick would do if he came back. He nervously entered the tunnel and walked through it. It was rather long, but in the end he came to another, short staircase. He climbed up, ending in, as Gyarados had said, a room lit by red lights. A see-through door led to another red room; it was open.

He curiously went in, but then heard voices. He quickly ducked behind a low wall. Through the red glass on top of it, he watched two scientists walk into the room, which he now had the time to examine.

It was full of glass tanks containing a brown liquid. Inside them floated Pokémon embryos, some very Pokémon-like, others just creepy, shapeless forms at the early stages. Each tank had a screen and a keyboard on it. Odd, pyramid-shaped devices of different sizes were lined along the walls. Mark realized he was in Rick’s cloning lab.

One of the scientists walked to a tank containing what looked somewhat like a Caterpie. The other one walked to one that was farther away so Mark didn’t see what was in it.

“Hey, Peter,” the nearer one called, “I think it’s ready.”

The Peter guy came and peered at the Caterpie.

“Yeah, looks pretty good,” he agreed. “I’ve got to tend to mine, though.” He walked back to his tank, and the one with the Caterpie did something on the computer and then the brown liquid started flowing out. The Caterpie was left in the tank and slowly opened an eye.

“Cater…” it squeaked. “Cater… two!” Mark suddenly understood what was going on – they were making more super-clones, ones that Rick didn’t have a license for. He hardly dared to breathe.

The scientist pressed a button and the tank opened with a low hiss. He picked up the Catertwo, smiling.

“What a beauty!” he said proudly. Peter came holding a Pikachu super-clone – it had blue balls on its ears, blue pawpads, long blue claws and a threadlike, jagged tail with a blue triangle at the end. It looked menacingly at Catertwo and hissed, baring its sharp fangs.

“Mine’s pretty good too,” Peter said. The other one examined the Pikatwo.

“Well, nothing beats Rick’s. You know, the one he gave to Taylor,” he commented.

“Ah, well, that doesn’t count,” said Peter. “Rick’s the cloning master.”

“Yeah, but seriously…” said the other one, lowering his voice, “I’ve got to say, Rick’s spoiling the kid. If my little brother came to me and said the Charmander he got as a starter was too weak and he wanted a clone, I’d tell him to shut up and clone one himself. But nooo, of course Rick just gives him the best clone we’ve ever made, and I heard he’s going to give him even more! And then Taylor lost his Charmander and got some level 14 Quilava out of nowhere, just to keep it in the Pokéball all day without training it at all! And I mean, what’s Rick thinking, giving him super-clones? Anybody at all can see them! This is madness, somebody will catch him one day if he keeps this up...”

The scientist stopped abruptly upon seeing a blond-haired, handsome man of around twenty-five enter from a side room, who Mark assumed was Rick.

“Hey, Peter, Jimmy, do you know who was playing around with the switches?” he asked worriedly.

“Well, nobody entered, at least,” said Jimmy. “We’d have noticed.”

“That’s good. Let’s just hope it was some random kid.” Rick smiled faintly, but walked back to the room. In the doorway, he turned around again. “Oh… Lee says Mewtwo² is resisting the Clone Ball again. We’ve got to make a new model of the ball.”

The two scientists nodded.

“Let’s go evolve these beauties, now,” said Peter happily and they walked over to the pyramid-shaped machines near the walls. Mark saw his chance; he quickly glanced at the door he came through, but the entrance room was filling with water again. Mark assumed that Rick was refilling the pool. He looked around the room and eyed a staircase leading further down. Not seeing any other possible exit, he crawled silently towards it.

It led to a long corridor containing nothing but posters on the walls with ideas of new super-clones. Mark took a quick look at each of them, but didn’t have the time to read any properly. At the end of the corridor there was a ladder; Mark climbed up and hit his head on something hard. He discovered it was a trapdoor. Lifting it carefully up and climbing through, he discovered he was in the seemingly empty entrance room to the gym itself.

He shivered, remembering that his clothes were still wet, and rushed to the hotel, thinking about this experience.



Yes, Mark, you're definitely winning because you know so much about legendaries, and not because you have a cheap special Gyarados and taught your Pokémon TMs

If the description of Lugia sounds weirdly underwhelming for Mark's supposed favorite Pokémon, that's because at the time Lugia was one of my least favorite Pokémon, and although I made a point of giving Mark his own taste in Pokémon, I was clearly not great at empathizing with the perspective of someone liking Lugia. Uhhhh it's really huge? And his favorite thing about it is uhhhh the eye spikes. Convincing.

Hope you enjoy Rick's elaborate idea of security, which involves making the entrance to his secret lab easily visible to literally any Water Pokémon, nothing being locked in any way, and his employees regularly just choosing to leave the gym and let any random trainer who wanders in run amok. Truly amazing.

The entire lab infiltration scene plays out basically identically to how it did when I was twelve. Some phrasing is even strongly inspired by the original version. So that's why it's especially bonkers. Mark just kind of does the whole thing on autopilot out of idle curiosity, occasionally having a fleeting thought about whether Rick will find out but never actually thinking through the implications enough to actually weigh the risk against anything. It's deeply strange and I love it.

When I published the original version of this chapter, I included my artwork of Rick's superclone posters and it's all glorious. Please feast your eyes on Catertwo, Metatwo and Buttertwo; Pikatwo, Raitwo and Bulbatwo; Ivytwo, Venutwo and Charmantwo; Charmeletwo, Charitwo, Squirtwo, Wartortwo and Blastwo; Pidgetwo, Pidgeottwo and Pidgeotwo; Rattatwo and Raticatwo; Spearotwo, Fearotwo, Ekantwo and Arbotwo; Sandshrewtwo, Sandslashtwo and Nidotwo; and Nidorinatwo.
 
Chapter 9: Mew's Escape

Dragonfree

Moderator
Staff
Location
Iceland
Pronouns
she/her/hers
Partners
  1. butterfree
  2. mightyena
  3. charizard
  4. custom/scyther-mia
Also late with this one because uuuugh. Chapter nine, wherein we finally leave this gym behind, oh and Mew is there.


Chapter 9: Mew's Escape​

2021-08-06-chapter9.png

The old woman by the counter looked dully up as Mark walked past, but showed a great deal more interest upon noticing that his clothes were dripping with water.

“Why are you so wet?” she asked suspiciously.

“Fell in a pool,” Mark muttered absent-mindedly without looking at her. She didn’t get anything else out of him before he disappeared up the stairs.

Mark felt like he’d had an overdose of mysteries for one day as he took his wet clothes off. Charmeleon was technically May’s. Should he talk to Charmeleon about it, or just forget it and hope she would never find out? And to think that the guy who had originally received Charmander was the brother of Cleanwater City’s gym leader! And Rick was making more super-clones… he was abusing Mewtwo²… and Gyarados clearly had some serious issues with Suicune and used some weird mega attack of doom! This was so complicated!

Mark put on his blue jeans and white Pokéball T-shirt, sat down on the bed and sighed.

Why me? I just wanted a Pokémon journey, not a headache like this!

After sitting there and staring into the air for a couple of minutes, he stood up. He was just going to get that badge, and then he could think about the other stuff. Better get the gym over with.

And punish Rick in a battle for doing this to the legendary Pokémon.

Mark felt oddly confident now that he felt like he had to do this. He walked determinedly out towards the gym.

Rick shall pay.

The first junior trainer didn’t seem to be there when Mark arrived. A note on the door told challengers to go right through, with the key taped to the note. Mark pressed the button on the key and it slid out of the way. The other three junior trainers weren’t there either. He went straight through all of their arenas.

The young, blond-haired man from the lab was there, however. And so was May. He was hatefully handing her a coin-like object.

“Hi,” she said as she walked past Mark on the way out. He quickly whispered, “Wait for me at the Pokémon Center, I seriously need to have a word with you. It’s about your Quilava.”

She looked puzzled, but nodded and walked outside.

“Hello,” Rick said dryly. “Another challenger?”

Mark nodded, turning to the gym leader.

“How many Pokémon do you have?” Rick asked.

“Four,” said Mark.

“Four on four it is, then,” said Rick. “I choose…”

He reached down to his Pokéball belt, with six Clone Balls attached to it, took one and maximized it. He grinned.

“…Articuno.” Rick threw the ball powerfully forward. It popped open in mid-air, releasing a second Articuno clone. This one seemed all the more aggressive; it glared at Mark with ruby red eyes, scratching the air with its talons as if to show its power.

“Go, Charmeleon!”

The red lizard emerged from bright white light.

“Flamethrower,” Mark ordered.

“Ice Beam!” Rick countered quickly. Charmeleon’s blast of fire met with an elegant beam of ice crystals from the sky blue bird. Where they met, water started showering down into the pool.

“Come on, Charmeleon,” Mark muttered, clenching his fist. The lizard looked back at him and then suddenly, without warning, stopped breathing flames and leapt out of the way. Articuno’s Ice Beam smashed into the ground as Charmeleon fired another Flamethrower from directly below the bird. The flames enveloped the legendary and Articuno fell, its wings on fire, into the pool, where the flames went out. Rick recalled the Pokémon, his face expressionless. He replaced the Clone Ball on his belt.

“The battle isn’t over yet,” he said coldly.

Rick paused for a second, but finally took another ball off his Pokéball belt.

“Ho-Oh, show him not to mess with legendaries,” he growled.

Rick sent out a Ho-Oh, even larger than the one the junior trainer had. It flapped its multicolored wings and took off.

“Earthquake.” Rick’s voice was icy; he clearly did not like losing the first round.

“Charmeleon, return!” Mark shouted, knowing it was the wisest thing to do. “Gyarados, go!”

Ho-oh slammed into the ground just as Gyarados materialized in the pool, but being in the water, the sea monster was not affected.

“Dragon Rage!” Mark roared. Gyarados released a blast of dragon flames at the giant bird. It screeched, trying to retain its balance. The blue dragon blasted more crimson fire at the legendary, and it gave up with a final cry, landing gracefully on the floor and spreading out its wings before collapsing.

Rick gritted his teeth, recalling Ho-Oh.

“Raikou, show him!” he snarled, tossing the third Clone Ball into the arena. “Bring that thing down with a Thunderbolt!”

The tiger-like Pokémon leapt out of the Pokéball in mid-air, roaring. Electricity crackled in its fur, and before Mark had the sense to do anything, a blast of lightning was fired at Gyarados. He roared in pain and then fell down motionless. Mark seemed to remember reading that Gyarados were extremely vulnerable to electricity as he recalled the sea monster.

Mark nervously took out Sandshrew’s ball.

“Go! Earthquake!” he said quickly as he threw the Pokéball. Sandshrew posed in mid-air and came down hard on the ground, causing the floor to ripple. Earthquake was an amazingly complicated attack; a human who got caught in the waves of the ground would merely feel a small tickle, but for the Legendary Beast of Thunder on the other side of the arena, it was in fact devastating, disrupting the delicate balance between the positively and negatively charged ions in the Electric Pokémon’s body. Raikou growled, trembling a bit.

“Another Earthquake!” Mark commanded. Sandshrew rose to his hind legs, preparing to perform the attack again.

“Quick attack!” Rick hissed. Raikou leaned back and then leapt forward at undetectable speed, striking Sandshrew hard. He lost his balance, and the tiger then attempted to sink its fangs into the little Pokémon’s body, but Sandshrew acted quickly of his own accord and stung the legendary’s paw with one of his claws, injecting poison through it into the tiger’s blood. It howled in pain, staggering backwards, and then Sandshrew had the chance to unleash a second Earthquake attack. Raikou weakly let out some small sparks and then fainted.

Rick swore loudly, recalling the tiger.

“Very well… go, Mew!”

Out of the ball came a light pink, furred little creature. The hind legs were much longer than the tiny front paws; its long, threadlike tail ended in an oval shape. Big, stubby ears rested on a catlike head with two big, sapphire blue eyes.

The previous legendary clones had had absolutely emotionless eyes, like robots made to do what they were told, save for Mewtwo²’s resistance. But Mew was different. The eyes seemed somehow faded, half-closed, and above all horribly sad. The Pokémon looked limp.

“Surf,” Rick hissed. Mew’s weary eyes glowed deep blue and the water in the pool started rising in a great wave which crashed upon Sandshrew with terrible force, but flowed neatly past Mark on both sides. Slowly the water drained back into the pool, and Sandshrew was left soaked and shivering.

“Shrew…” he said weakly before losing consciousness.

Mark hesitated. His determination from before was fading, and he only had Eevee left.

Oh, come on, maybe I’m being overprotective, he thought. Jeesh, I’m turning into Mom…

“Go, Eevee!” he yelled, throwing the ball. The little brown creature materialized and looked at Mew with his big brown eyes.

“Eevee, Return,” Mark said anxiously. Eevee looked at Mew for a second, but then turned back to Mark.

“Ee… vee,” he said. It took a bit of time for Mark to realize that this was the first clearly understandable thing that Eevee said. He was saying that he didn’t want to attack Mew because it was so sad.

“Oh, Eevee, please, there’s nothing we can do about that!” Mark said desperately. Eevee just shook his head.

“Vee?” he said, stepping a bit forward towards the legendary.

“Thunderbolt!” Rick spat. Mew didn’t react to it at all, and was instead watching Eevee.

“Darn it, Psychic! Something! Attack, you stupid thing!”

“Mew…” said the Pokémon weakly. Eevee tilted his head curiously and walked farther up to the pink creature. He carefully laid a paw on its shoulder.

“Eevee?” he asked. Slowly, he started glowing with a pink aura – the positive energy that Return was made of. Suddenly, Mew’s eyes opened wide. Then it dropped down, unconscious.

Eevee jumped away with a shriek, clearly very confused about what had happened. He carefully poked the pink Pokémon’s body; it didn’t move.

Rick turned very pale. He slowly took out the Clone Ball, recalled the Mew into it and started muttering to the ball.

“You… there’s a curse on you… I’ve lost every single battle I’ve used you in… this is all one of your devilish little tricks… you’re going to bring me down…”

Suddenly, Rick turned to Mark.

“Catch,” he said, throwing the ball at him. Mark caught it.

“Huh?” he asked, confused, staring at the orb in his hands.

“Take it away! The devil, just take it!”

“What the…”

“Don’t you want it?” Rick asked in a low growl. Mark looked open-mouthed at the ball. He was almost going to say no, he couldn’t accept something like this, but then he remembered the sad expression on Mew throughout the battle. He couldn’t leave it here.

“…Yes.”

Rick’s eyes glinted.

“Good boy. Your badge.”

He walked firmly up to Mark and dropped a small silver coin into his hand. Mark examined it. It had an eye engraved in the middle, but it was surrounded by a raindrop, a bolt of lightning, a flame and a leaf. The back of it said “Element Badge”. Mark pinned it to his T-shirt.

“Leave,” Rick said icily. Mark just went through the side door, pocketing Mew’s Clone Ball. The feeling was odd, and not at all what he had imagined it would be to win a badge.

He would have to go to the Pokémon Center and get Mew healed, but of course he couldn’t hand Nurse Joy a Clone Ball. She’d think he had stolen it.

What he was therefore going to do first was a so-called ‘inter-Pokéball transfer’. It could be done at any Pokémon Center using the trading machine. It was basically exactly like trading, except that both of the Pokéballs were owned by the same person and one of them was empty. Afterwards, the Pokéball the Pokémon used to be in would be unusable unless one went and got it recharged for a fee, which was only slightly cheaper than buying a new ball, so along with having to waste another Pokéball to put the Pokémon in, it usually didn’t pay off. Therefore, trainers rarely did the transfer unless they had a very special reason to.

But Mark did, and therefore he walked up to the trading machine in the corner of the Pokémon Center. He placed Mew’s Clone Ball under one of the tubes after making sure nobody was watching, and then one of his normal Pokéballs at the other end. He set the machine to inter-Pokéball transfer mode, and the two balls got sucked up into the metallic tubes. The great screen in the middle of it showed Mew’s silhouette traveling across the screen, and Mark did his best to stand in the way so nobody could see it. Finally, both balls dropped down again.

He picked up the Clone Ball, minimized it and put it in his pocket. He didn’t know why he felt the need to keep an unusable brainwashing Pokéball, but he just did. Then he took a deep breath and picked up the other Pokéball, now holding Mew.

He walked over to Nurse Joy, trying to look normal, and gave her the Pokéballs.

“Mostly just exhausted,” he said. The nurse nodded, placing the Pokéballs on a tray and putting it into the full-size equivalent of a Pocket Healer. After a few beeps were heard, she took them out again and handed them to Mark.

“We hope to see you again,” she said, smiling.

Mark nodded. Just then, May noticed him and walked up to him. He remembered what he had said to her before the battle, and cursed silently. He didn’t feel like going into these explanations now, but then again they would be better over with.

“What about my Quilava?” she asked, getting straight to the point.

“Well, it’s a long story,” Mark began, “and I… can’t really tell it around all these people.”

“Well, I’m going fishing for Pokémon at the Lake of Purity. Why don’t you just join me and we’ll discuss that on the way?”

“Sure,” said Mark, shrugging. They walked out of the Pokémon Center and headed towards the road.

-------

“You’re telling me Rick is making more super-clones?”

“Yeah.”

“And that the lying little idiot with my Quilava is his brother?”

Mark nodded. “And the strange Pikachu he had, it was actually a Pikatwo, a Pikachu super-clone.”

“Well, I’ll be damned,” she just said.

Mark was still pondering over whether to tell her about Charmeleon, but decided not to. They were now at the lake, and May was about to cast out the line.

Suddenly, Mark caught a glimpse of something light blue.

“What was that?”

“What?” May asked.

“I think I saw… never mind.”

“No, what?” asked May eagerly.

“I think there was a Dratini there,” Mark said, still staring at the same spot.

“Rubbish,” said May, while she was glaringly obviously looking around for it too.

“Over there!”

May threw the rod forward. A small creature dove back under the surface.

“Darn it!” she hissed.

“Hey, I saw it first!” Mark said.

“So what?”

“Then I’m the one who tries to catch it!”

“That’s not in any official rules!”

“Draa?”

A small head poked out of the surface. It was pale blue with cute frills at the sides, two adorable eyes watching the two kids argue with interest, and a white muzzle.

Mark and May both took out Pokéballs. May threw it first, but missed by far and the Pokéball sank into the lake. Mark accidentally dropped his because he was hurrying so much, and it rolled into the water, where it started sinking too. The Dratini dove down again. Mark could see his Pokéball come to a halt when it reached the bottom. After a few suspenseful seconds, the Dratini swam forward to examine it, poked a little too far, and was dissolved into red energy that was drawn into the ball.

Mark stared at it for a second, and then prepared to jump in.

“Mark, you are being an absolute idiot,” May said clearly and pronouncedly, grabbing the back of his T-shirt. “Do you think you can just dive in there? You may see the bottom, but this is the second-deepest lake in all of Ouen, for crying out loud.”

It wasn’t exactly because of her that Mark decided to rethink this plan. It was more because he already got his other clothes wet. But at the very least, he calmed down.

“Now, look here,” May began. “I’ve got a magnet, and I’ve got a fishing rod. We can use them to get that Dratini out of the water. But both of them are mine, and it was just luck that Dratini went into your Pokéball and not mine. So…”

“You’re going to take my Dratini?” Mark asked loudly. “How about no?”

“You have no choice,” she said, smirking as she drew a small magnet out of her pocket and attached it to the end of the line. She carefully lowered it down while Mark gritted his teeth.

“Larvii,” came a little voice. Mark gaped.

The owner of the voice was a small, green Pokémon with a triangular-shaped head. It had a small mouth, red eyes with black markings just below them, a red diamond shape on its belly and an odd, bundle-like tail.

“Is everything full of almost-legendary Pokémon here today?”

May wheeled around, releasing the rod.

“Whoa! That’s a Larvitar!”

“Oh, really?” said Mark sarcastically, grabbing the rod while he had the chance and reeling in the Pokéball quickly. Meanwhile, May threw one of her Pokéballs at the Larvitar. Mark didn’t bother seeing it wobble; he just hurried away so she wouldn’t try to take Dratini too. Judging from May’s cry of “YESSS!!”, she had caught it.

Mark was now starting to think about Mew again. He felt a need to talk to it, but the hotel room was the only safe place to do so.

He ran down the road back to Cleanwater, rushed into the hotel and saw the TV on, not paying much attention to it.

“And finally, today, around two thousand captive-bred Dratini, Larvitar and Bagon were released into the wild all around the world.”

Mark abruptly stopped to listen. Apparently, it was part of a project to help these highly endangered species survive.

“Well, that explains it,” Mark muttered to himself. Suddenly his capture wasn’t as significant, but it still felt as great.

He remembered what he was at the hotel for, went up the stairs to his room, closed the door carefully, sat down on the bed and slowly took Mew’s Pokéball out.

“Go… Mew.” Mark dropped the ball down to the floor, the two halves separated, and a sphere of white energy from within took shape into the pinkish-white, catlike creature.

Mark sat completely still. After Mew had stared at him for a while, the Pokémon sat down beside him, wrapping its long tail around him in what appeared to be a greeting of some sort.

“What happened?” asked the legendary quietly without looking at him, calmly like it was merely asking about the time.

“Well, which parts do you know?” Mark replied, shrugging.

“Three years in darkness, always exhausted, like a puppet, only occasionally thinking clearly, but having no choice but to let my consciousness drift away to momentarily ease the pain…”

Mew’s deep, sapphire blue eyes looked into Mark’s.

“Now, I am here, once again blessed with freedom.”

It took a bit of time for this to sink in.

“Wait – you’re not a clone?”

“No,” said Mew simply. “Had I known no life outside of being forced into obedience and fighting mindlessly all day long, I would have accepted it. Like the others. Their minds know nothing else. Those will only fight back who know there is something worth fighting for.”

“What about Mewtwo²?” Mark asked quietly.

“He is powerful… that allows him to think clearer. They have been strengthening the Clone Ball, but it’s too late once he has felt himself being robbed of his free will and thought. I can sense his sorrow at this very moment.”

Mark was quiet for a long while, but then muttered: “That’s so… sad.”

Mew nodded slowly. “Sad indeed, but there is no way for us to help. I am very fortunate, which brings us back to the original question.”

“Rick gave your Pokéball to me, muttering something about there being a curse on you.” Mark paused, then added: “Why?”

“He does not realize our feelings. I have fought back; I have weakened my attacks as I could and done my best not to give him the pleasure of winning. So far I have succeeded…”

There was a short silence. The legendary Pokémon sighed deeply. “We shall see what destiny has in store for him.”

“What will you do now?” Mark asked quietly.

“I will go home. I used to reside deep inside Rainbow Woods before he came.”

Mark stood slowly up and opened the balcony door. No words were necessary. Mew just nodded, looked at him with those bright blue eyes, and flew outside.

“Maybe I’ll see you… you-know-where,” Mark called. Mew gave a small nod, then shot up towards the sky.

-------

On the street below, a bearded man wearing a brown hat and a trench coat jerked his head upwards.

“Did you see that?” he whispered to the Pokémon beside him. It nodded slowly.

“And did you see the boy?”

Another nod. The man’s gaze flickered a bit.

“And did you hear what he said?”

He didn’t wait for an answer. A weird smile spread across his face.



Can't believe I wasted so much steam on Rick's pointless junior trainers that by the time I get to the actual fight against the gym leader it's just super half-assed and everything goes down in a couple of obligatory hits. Don't be me, kids.

Also can't believe the stated reason for Mark transferring Mew out of the brainwashing Pokéball is "Nurse Joy is going to think I stole it" and not "it literally brainwashes the occupant". Priorities, Mark.

Further can't believe that in this version (but not the previous versions), I inserted this mundane detour about fishing in between Mark receiving Mew and the scene where he releases it. For a hot minute there I just let the reader assume Mark has a Mew now. Amazing revision choices.

The terrible broadcast trying to frantically handwave why my characters get pseudo-legendaries was even sillier originally, but I removed the even more desperate attempt to go "and in this fic they aren't even particularly strong, guys, really!!!" here, because it was wildly inconsistent with how they go on to be treated for the entire rest of the fic and pretty easily excised.
 
Chapter 10: The Mew Hunter

Dragonfree

Moderator
Staff
Location
Iceland
Pronouns
she/her/hers
Partners
  1. butterfree
  2. mightyena
  3. charizard
  4. custom/scyther-mia
Chapter ten! Wherein the stakes continue to escalate.


Chapter 10: The Mew Hunter​

2021-08-10-chapter10.png

Mark went down the stairs slowly. He felt incredible. Much to his dismay, he met the one person he wasn’t interested in talking to in the stairway as she came walking from the other corridor. She didn’t say anything to him and they just walked down the stairs, ignoring each other doggedly.

They both returned the keys, acting like the other wasn’t there, and both walked out the same road towards Rainbow Woods, the forest that grew between Cleanwater City and Alumine.

Oh darn, Mark thought. Mew isn’t about to come anywhere near when she’s here...

They just walked for a long while as the tall trees surrounded them in all directions.

“Why are you always following me?” yelled Mark finally in frustration.

“Just because we’re walking along the same road at the same time doesn’t mean I’m following you, you know,” said May, glancing at him.

“But why are you walking just here at the exact same time as I am, refusing to even look at me?” Mark argued.

“You have big issues with me, I see,” said May, raising her eyebrow. “Look, I’m not one to start a conversation. I don’t talk to people who don’t want to talk to me, so I usually just answer when I’m asked. Because you didn’t seem very keen on talking to me, I decided not to annoy you by talking. Do you have problems with that?”

Mark blushed. “Eh… did you catch that Larvitar?”

“Yeah, and I noticed you took off with Dratini.”

Darn it! Mark hissed to himself.

“So, you going to take Dratini back or something?” he asked defensively.

“Nah,” said May. “I’ve got Larvitar. I think I am the one better off, anyway.”

Mark angrily took out Dratini’s ball and pointed his Pokédex at it.

“Dratini – dragon Pokémon. This Pokémon sheds its skin to keep control of the massive amounts of life energy it has. So rare it was said to be a myth.”

He checked the stats. “Male, level 15,” he muttered.

“So is Larvitar,” May replied. “Hey, maybe we could, you know, battle them out.”

She got that battle glint in her eyes again.

“Fair enough,” Mark answered after a moment of thought. “Go!”

He sent out the slender, snake-like dragon on the ground. May threw forward the Pokéball containing the green creature from earlier. It gritted its teeth and waved the long horn on its head like a sword.

“Dratini, Wrap!” Mark called out. The little dragon obeyed, slithering forward to wrap its long body around Larvitar and starting to squeeze as hard as he could.

“Bite!” May ordered quickly, and Larvitar locked its small but powerful jaws around Dratini’s body. The dragon released him with a small cry of pain.

“Twister!” Mark shouted. The dragon glowed turquoise, stood up on the end of its body and started spinning around, faster and faster. Finally, he released a greenish-blue whirlwind that shot at Larvitar.

“Sandstorm!” May hissed. Larvitar raised a paw into the air, its red eyes glowing intensely golden, and a stream of sand materialized out of nowhere behind it and met the whirlwind. Mark clenched his fist; May’s face was expressionless until, with a triumphant smile, she saw that the whirlwind, now also a wheel of sand, started moving back towards Dratini. One thing sat in Mark’s head: Dragons were weak to their own attacks.

The whirlwind engulfed Dratini. The small Pokémon screamed as he was bombarded by the wheel of sand along with the dragon power contained in the whirlwind. He was whipped into the air and came down unconscious.

“Return,” Mark grumbled. He looked hatefully at May as he attached the Pokéball to his belt again. She sighed.

“Look, we don’t need to start some rivalry about this. I beat you, but that’s no big deal. I hate it when people hate me. Let’s just be friends, okay?”

She held forward her hand. Mark hesitated, but then shook it.

“Hey, there’s a café at the forest’s edge, just before we get out of it. If you have money for yourself, we can eat there,” May offered.

“Sure,” Mark replied.

They ventured through the forest, now without the tense atmosphere, and Mark felt a lot better to know that she wasn’t plotting to steal Dratini or anything. They came across a few weak wild Pokémon too, but just took turns beating them instead of trying to catch them, subconsciously trying to avoid another Dratini situation.

Finally, they reached the café. It was a pleasantly green, very small-looking wooden house with red decorations, dug a little into the ground so it seemed even smaller. A faded, red sign above the door said “Rainbow Café”.

“I’ve got to admit, this looks miniscule,” said Mark, staring at the house.

“Come on, I ate here on the way from Alumine to Cleanwater, it isn’t as small as it looks,” said May, dragging him down the small stairs leading to the door.

She was right. Somehow, magically, it was much bigger on the inside than outside. Small, red, round tables were positioned very randomly all around the floor, with anything from one to five matching red chairs around them. People sat here and there, most of them deep in either conversation or thought.

The kids sat down at a table near the door and ordered some toast. After eating, they paid and were about to stand up when Mark noticed that his Pokéball belt had no Pokéballs on it anymore.

“Wha… did you take my Pokéballs?” he asked, scanning the floor for any traces of them.

“Of course not,” said May, offended. “I’m not a hypocrite.”

“What happened to them?” asked Mark hysterically, looking under the chairs and everything.

“Mark, Pokéballs don’t fall off by themselves,” said May seriously.

“You mean…”

“Somebody stole them, yes. Not me, but somebody.”

Mark looked frantically around. “Who?”

May looked thoughtful. “Maybe that weird guy in the trench coat. He sat down just behind you, didn’t order anything and then after a while hurried out the door, turning left.”

“That means… to Alumine,” Mark breathed. He grabbed May’s arm.

“What are we waiting for? Let’s go after him!”

He sprinted towards the city. May just sighed and walked, letting him shake her off.

-------

Trench coat, trench coat…

Mark came to the city’s edge, panting, and looked around. Alumine was medium-sized, but rather dirty and not an extremely pleasant place to live; most of the buildings were just blocks of concrete painted in some disgusting color that was thankfully starting to peel off. One building stood out, and was at the end of the main street Mark was entering; it was the famous Alumine Gym, constructed out of Skarmory feathers and shaped like one end of a vertical eye sticking up from the ground, with the doors as the pupil. It reflected the sunlight off a million steel surfaces, all facing in slightly different directions. Mark had heard that the gym leader there used the sunlight to help him win battles thanks to the opponent having a hard time seeing around.

A bearded man, most of his face hidden in shadow beneath a brown hat and indeed wearing a trench coat, entered an extremely ugly, sickeningly yellow, large building just to Mark’s right. It took a second for him to realize that this was the man he was looking for. He was about to follow him when he heard May’s voice.

“Hey,” she said. “Wasn’t that him?”

“Yeah,” Mark replied. “You coming with me?”

She stared blankly at him. “What, you’re just going to knock on his door and say ‘Hey, you stole my Pokémon, can I have them back?’”

“Well, yeah, pretty much,” said Mark simply.

“You’re crazy,” May sighed, shaking her head.

“So what?” Mark snapped. “If you’re not coming, fine.”

He walked firmly towards the yellow building and knocked on the door. The trench coat guy answered it, of course not wearing it anymore. He stared at Mark for a second, then shoved him inside and closed the door.

“You!” the man spoke in a hoarse, quiet voice. His eyes were black and extremely open, and a black full beard covered much of his face.

“Here… I’ve been… you didn’t have… must… get…”

On second thought, he also seemed a little bit crazy.

“WHERE?” he suddenly bellowed, grabbing Mark’s arm firmly. Okay, maybe quite a bit crazy.

“Where is what?” asked Mark, puzzled.

“You-know-where!” he hissed.

More like ‘an absolute madman who should’ve been locked in long ago’.

“What?” Mark asked, even more confused.

“You know very well what I’m talking about! My life! My dedication! Where is ‘you-know-where’?”

Suddenly, it dawned on to Mark what he was talking about.

“You mean… Mew?”

“What else could I mean?” the guy snarled. “Look, I have spent my entire life searching for Mew! I MUST FIND IT!”

“Uh,” said Mark, backing away, “why didn’t you just give up on it long ago?”

The man took a few deep breaths, looking a lot less mad afterwards.

“I’ll tell you the whole story. Doesn’t matter… we have plenty of time…

“You can call me the Mew Hunter for convenience. I started my Pokémon journey around your age… I lived in Johto then. I got a Totodile as my first Pokémon… chose it for the jaws, mind you. I’ve always been fond of sharp things… but by then I was already fascinated by the one Pokémon that possessed the genes of them all.”

He didn’t explain what he meant, but he didn’t need to; Mark knew he was referring to Mew.

“I wanted to find it and claim it as mine… but of course, such a thing required a lot of preparation. I got a Sandshrew and a Sneasel, and managed to dig up a Kabuto fossil and get it resurrected… I evolved Totodile, Sandshrew and Kabuto, and with these four Pokémon, I started an unofficial gym of Pokémon with sharp claws or fangs, just to earn money. We are in the gym right now.”

Mark looked around; that sounded sensible. The floor was marked as a Pokémon arena and the ceiling was very high. Two large windows with six panes each were on the wall to the left, and seemed to be the only lighting in the arena.

“I also studied Pokéballs. After earning the money to buy a Master Ball, I used my knowledge to make some modifications to it… I made it so that the Pokémon inside it would be unable to escape a certain distance away from the ball itself. I was going to use it on Mew. And once I had made it, I closed the gym and headed out to search for the ancestor of all Pokémon.

“But I had competition. Rick, from the Cleanwater City Gym, was also heading towards the same goal. He had a Pokéball that would capture anything and put it under total control, weakening its mind to obey everything it was told. A disgusting idea… I knew that it must not be done to Mew. I was going to earn Mew’s trust, just like I had done with my other Pokémon… but he was going to use Mew as a slave. I could not let that happen. I was determined to find Mew first.

“And one day, I stumbled upon Mew, sleeping in the shadow of a tree. But Rick was there too. We threw our balls at the same time… From my studies, I knew that if a Pokémon was hit with two balls at once, it would be torn apart and killed unless it collected all of itself into one ball. The impact of the two balls would wake it up, and I was confident that Mew would choose me… who would choose total slavery over temporary confinement?

“But Mew chose Rick. To this very day the thought has haunted me; why did Mew prefer Rick’s control? I have never found out why…”

The man’s voice had slowly reverted to the mad, desperate one throughout the last few sentences.

“I went through a long period of depression, but finally I decided to reopen my gym, caught two new Pokémon and forgot about Mew. But today, I saw Mew again. I saw it fly out of a window… and you were addressing it, stating that you two supposedly would meet ‘you-know-where’.”

He paused, and then spat out in a totally different voice: “Now, I’d like you to tell me where that place is.”

Mark didn’t like idea of telling this person anything about where to find Mew. He didn’t sound like he was lying when he talked about “earning Mew’s trust” rather than forcing it to do anything, but he could very well be mad enough to have a somewhat twisted definition of earning somebody’s trust.

“No,” he therefore answered. “I’m not telling you.”

“I’m afraid you mistook that for a question!” the man barked. “Speak, or things will get nasty.”

“No,” said Mark firmly.

The man got a very sickening glint in his eyes.

“Really?” he said slowly, glaring at Mark with the kind of smile Mark had seen on villains in movies. Mark noticed his hand slowly picking a Pokéball from his belt.

“You know, my friend here is amazingly convincing. Want to meet him?”

Mark’s eyes darted towards the door as he thought of making a run for it.

“Well, you’re meeting him whether you like it or not,” the man hissed, hurling the Pokéball powerfully towards Mark. Something big and green came out of it, dove straight at Mark at amazing speed and knocked him down. He felt his head hit the wall hard. A sharp pain seared through his head as his vision blacked out for a second; when it came back, he was met with a not-so-pleasant sight.

The thing that had hit him was a Pokémon commonly associated with horror films, blood and stereotypical evil. It was somewhat like a light green, bipedal mantis with a reptilian head, but most importantly, two long, wickedly sharp blades attached to its arms. As sickening as it was, Mark found one of them positioned a centimeter or so from his throat.

The Scyther held him firmly down so that he couldn’t have moved even if he hadn’t been stiff from the sheer shock of having his life so suddenly put on the edge of a knife. He felt his heart pumping like crazy, every vein throbbing like it was about to burst.

“Aw, you don’t like his reasoning?” the man asked in a mocking tone. “Well, too bad. Feel like talking now?”

“No,” Mark choked out, sounding a lot braver than he felt.

“I’ll give you two five minutes to be alone,” said the man, checking his watch. “Talk then or…” He drew his finger quickly over his throat, then turned around towards a side door and slammed it shut.

Mark was left in the arena with the bug Pokémon, not sure whether the five minutes were meant for him to think about it or just to scare him even more. A few seconds convinced him that it was the latter.

His horrified gaze slid over to the Pokémon. His stomach lurched just from looking at it again. The beast’s eyes were completely colorless; the socket was shaped like a skewed rectangle, and the whites were pearly and veinless, disrupted only by the jet-black slits that were the pupils. It was staring straight at his face, completely expressionlessly.

Mark wondered what would happen if he just told the guy that Mew was in some random place and got released. He could just go and tell the police and get the Mew Hunter arrested. But while the man was clearly mad, he didn’t seem stupid at all. Hadn’t he thought of that? Mark whirred through the last things the man had said, and realized that he had never actually said Mark would be released if he did tell him Mew’s location. He got a horrible sinking feeling. Was this the end, whatever he did?

He started imagining what it was like to be killed. Was there life after death? What kind of feeling would it be? Would it happen right away? The good thing was that he knew Scyther took very much care in sharpening their scythes so their cuts were virtually painless… from his point of view, it wouldn’t be that bad a death…

Oh, come on, he thought bitterly to himself. You don’t want to get your damn throat cut by a mad Scyther!

The Scyther isn’t mad, said the perfectionist voice in his head. His trainer is.

Yeah, but it’s the same thing, Pokémon do what their trainers say…

Do they?

You mean… negotiating with a Scyther? You crazy?

Maybe, but it can’t hurt, can it? You have nothing to lose.

Oh man. First sign of insanity: staging an imaginary conversation with oneself.

But then again, there was a point in that. He had nothing to lose.

“Eh…” Mark said hesitantly, immediately regretting it. But the Scyther decided to answer nevertheless.

“You scared?”

Mark didn’t find any longing to answer that question.

“Death is not to be feared, for it is the only thing that we all have in common.”

Seeing the confused look on Mark’s face, the bug added: “It’s an old Scyther saying. It means: why fear death of all things, when it’s the exact one thing we can be positive will happen to us all sooner or later?”

If that was supposed to be comforting, it was failing miserably.

“You hate that guy, right?” Mark asked weakly.

“What would you know?” Scyther replied.

“But… you wouldn’t actually…”

“Why not?” asked Scyther calmly.

“Well… you wouldn’t feel good, would you?” Mark suggested. Scyther smiled faintly.

“Trying to appeal to my conscience, now are you? But tell me one thing, human: is it your honest belief that Scyther have a conscience?”

“Eh, well, yeah, I liked to think so, at least,” Mark said awkwardly.

“Of course we have a conscience,” Scyther said bitterly. “And all the emotions you can feel to go with it. But if you knew that, you should also be able to realize that being a predator leaves you with a choice of permanently blocking out everything called ‘pity for a victim’, or starving to death.”

“Will you get anything out of killing me?” Mark tried another approach.

“No, but I’m not the only Pokémon here. Take Kabutops. His scythes aren’t as sharp as mine, I’ll admit, he doesn’t think too much about the maintenance…”

Mark quickly changed the subject to the first thing he could think of.

“Eh… you wouldn’t want blood on your nice, clean scythes, would you?” he said out of the blue.

Scyther sighed. “Look, this is getting ridiculous now and I have the feeling that you aren’t about to say a single logical thing from now on, so why bother? Besides, I’m not the one who decides what happens here. You were given five minutes as a chance to think over your situation, and you’ve been wasting them talking to me. While I do appreciate a chat, I feel it’s my duty to inform you that you’re not buying yourself a single minute of additional life.”

Mark decided to follow the Pokémon’s advice; funnily enough, he had managed to forget about the scythe threatening him while they talked, but now he was starting to feel uncomfortable again.

Then suddenly, a wonderful thought struck him like lightning. He felt warmth spread around his whole body. He flipped through it in his head a few times, yes, it appeared to work…

The side door opened and the Mew Hunter came back in.

“So,” he said slowly, walking up to Mark, “are you going to talk?”

“No,” said Mark, his heart beating like crazy. Despite having found a plan that should work, all of his courage had flown out of the window during the last five minutes and wasn’t about to return.

“You want to die, kid?” the Mew Hunter snarled.

“No,” Mark answered quietly.

“Well, newsflash: there’s no alternative!” growled the Mew Hunter. “Telling me or not?”

“…not.” Mark’s voice was trembling. This was it. Either he was right, or he was wrong and then his life would end right here.

The man went white for a split second. “OK, then,” he said in an odd tone. “It will be quick…”

Mark closed his eyes, but Scyther’s scythe did not move. He smiled; he had been right. The Mew Hunter didn’t want to lose him so easily.

“You were never going to kill me, were you?” Mark asked, feeling oddly secure.

“Well, let me tell you one thing… you are never going out of here, never… until you tell me where Mew is…”

“You stole my Pokémon, right? Can I have them back?” Mark decided that he could think of a way to escape later; it was time for what he originally came for.

The man took out what Mark recognized as his Pokéballs out of his pocket.

“You want them?” he asked. “Win them from me… in a battle.” He smiled slyly.

“Sure,” Mark answered, although he couldn’t figure out why the man would want a battle right now.

“Scyther, come on,” said the Mew Hunter. The Pokémon released Mark and stood up as Mark also did so, but Scyther just stood there by Mark’s side.

“Rob,” he said calmly, “I can do a bit of empty threatening for you, but I will not aid you in kidnapping or taking hostages.”

The Mew Hunter went white.

“Get over here! Now!”

“No,” said Scyther, not moving.

“TRAITOR!” Rob bellowed.

“Rob, please,” Scyther said. Was there a hint of sadness in his eyes? “Is Mew really worth wasting your life for?”

The Mew Hunter hesitated, unmistakably looking a bit sad too, but then said: “I’m sorry, Scyther… but Mew is my life. Either you’re with me, or with him.”

“Then I’m with him,” said Scyther, stepping nearer to Mark, “for the Rob I used to know.”

Mark was very confused by this; there was true pain in Scyther’s voice, but who could miss such a man?

“Uh, my Pokémon? So I can battle?” Mark asked hesitantly.

The Mew Hunter glared nastily at Scyther and then looked back at Mark. “Looks like you have one already. In fact… a match for all the others.”

“What, this is going to be a… five on one?” Mark asked in disbelief. “But…”

“Go, Kabutops!” Rob snarled, sending out a brown, bony Pokémon with a flat, triangular-shaped head, two small eyes and blades on its arms, similar to Scyther’s.

“Kabu?” asked the Pokémon, turning back to its trainer with a confused expression.

“Scyther has betrayed us,” he growled.

“I’m not fighting him, he’s my friend,” Kabutops protested.

“Kabutops, let’s just… get this over with,” said Scyther with a horrible, suicidal kind of expression.

“Skaaa!”

Everybody looked up. A Skarmory had just been sent out of a Pokéball high up near the ceiling. Mark’s heart took a leap as he saw the grid covering the end of the ventilation pipe up there in the corner fall down with a lot of noise, revealing a blue-haired girl’s head. She jumped onto Skarmory’s back and flew down. Mark had never imagined he’d ever be so happy to see her.

“How about no?” she said coldly, recalling the steel vulture. “I’ve got five Pokémon. I take this one,” she removed one Pokéball from her necklace and put it in her pocket, “and now there are four left. With him,” she pointed at Scyther, “this is a fair five-on-five. OK then, go, Butterfree!”

She sent out her giant butterfly. It soared in the air, facing Kabutops. The Mew Hunter seemed in a shock at first, but then just seemed to accept these conditions.

“Kabutops, Slash.”

“Sleep Powder!” May snarled. Butterfree flapped its wings, releasing a cloud of greenish spores as Kabutops leapt upwards, its blades raised. Inhaling the powder, the fossil Pokémon seemed to get drowsy, and as Butterfree flew a bit higher up, Kabutops fell asleep in mid-air and crashed back into the floor.

“Finish it with a Giga drain!” May commanded. The sleeping Kabutops took a deep green glow and small green orbs of energy started ripping lose from its body, the Pokémon twitching violently with each one. The orbs circled Butterfree until all of Kabutops’s glow had faded; then they sank into the butterfly’s body.

“Kabutops, return,” said the Mew Hunter, his voice trembling. “Sneasel, go! Tear its wings to shreds!”

Mark suddenly realized why the Mew Hunter had wanted a battle in the first place – his plan had originally been to injure Mark’s Pokémon enough to make him tell him Mew’s location in exchange for him not hurting them more.

A small, catlike creature with big eyes, a blood red feather-like thing in place of its left ear and two long, sharp claws on each front paw came out of the Pokéball.

“Snee!” it screeched, starting to run across the room. The Sneasel actually ran a short way up the wall before leaping with great agility towards the butterfly Pokémon, stabbing its claws into its wings and dragging it to the ground. As they were about to crash, Sneasel ripped itself loose and managed to jump up on Butterfree’s back. It wasn’t really necessary; Butterfree would’ve been out cold upon crashing either way, its wings in a very bad condition. Butterfree twitched a bit, like a fly that was about to die.

“Return,” said May calmly, ignoring her Pokémon’s state. “Skarmory, go and use a Steel Wing.”

The metallic vulture burst out of the Pokéball and swooped down towards Sneasel’s shape. The agile little cat dodged it and attempted to slash at Skarmory’s steel feathers, but to no avail; it didn’t even leave a scratch.

“Icy Wind!” ordered the Mew Hunter. Some of the muscles in his face twitched.

The Sneasel jumped up, spreading out its arms, and opened its mouth to release a powerful gust of icy wind, hail and snow. Skarmory wasn’t particularly hurt, but clearly slowed down a bit, allowing Sneasel to dart to another place and release another blast of cold wind.

“Drill Peck!” May ordered hastily. Skarmory flew up and started spinning, swooping down at the cat. The Sneasel just leapt out of the way with ease, but Skarmory turned and kept gaining speed. Finally, its sharp beak stabbed into Sneasel’s back. The cat let out a horrible screech, but then fell forward, blood gushing out of the wound.

“Come back,” said the Mew Hunter. “Feraligatr, show that bird not to mess with us.”

He sent out a huge, bulky, bipedal blue alligator. It had red spikes on its hunched back and a very powerful-looking yellow lower jaw.

“Fer-al!” it cried, showing all of its long fangs.

“Drill Peck,” May ordered. Skarmory dove down again, spinning.

“Crunch,” said the Mew Hunter, smirking. His Feraligatr opened its mouth, and locked its jaws around Skarmory’s body when it came near enough. After a few seconds of war between the steel and the jaws, Skarmory’s body started crumpling together. The vulture screeched, and sensing that this could very easily kill it, May quickly recalled her Pokémon.

“Pikachu, Thunderbolt!” May said determinedly, throwing forward her third Pokéball. A yellow, bipedal rodent with two long, black-tipped ears and red spots on its cheeks came out of the ball. Its cheeks started sparkling with electricity and then it released a bolt of lightning that shot at the blue alligator. It was too slow to dodge, but like most slow Pokémon, it made up for the lack of speed with more endurance. While it did roar in pain and stagger backwards slightly, it didn’t look too weakened afterwards.

“Earthquake,” said the Mew Hunter, clenching his fist. The alligator lifted one foot off the floor and then stomped it powerfully, making the floor ripple in waves like when Sandshrew used the attack. Pikachu attempted to jump up and avoid it, but ended up getting caught anyway. Releasing a flurry of electric sparks, the rodent dropped limply down, unconscious.

“Pikachu, come back,” said May, biting her lip. “Lapras, do it!”

She sent out a very big, blue, sea turtle-like Pokémon with a bumpy shell and kind-looking eyes.

“Sing,” May ordered. Lapras started singing a sweet melody, and Feraligatr’s eyes slowly got drowsy.

“Slash!” commanded the Mew Hunter quickly. It was still too late; Feraligatr’s eyelids sank downwards and finally it collapsed, fast asleep.

“Body Slam,” said May calmly. Lapras started paddling forward to finish Feraligatr off, and knowing that leaving it in was pointless, the Mew Hunter took out the Pokéball and recalled the alligator. He then hesitated a bit, first grabbing one Pokéball as if out of instinct, but then deciding on another.

“Go, Sandslash.”

Mark wondered why he had made this choice; Sandslash was very weak to Water attacks.

“Surf.” May smirked. Lapras spewed water into the air, which came down on the floor and flooded in a huge wave towards Sandslash, soaking it and leaving it fainted. Easy one.

Rob smiled. “Fangcat, go wild.”

Out of the Pokéball came another Pokémon commonly associated with horror movies; it was a pretty big, slender, cream-colored feline – with two enormous, bloody fangs hanging down from its mouth.

It fixed its hungry eyes on Lapras and then leapt forward with a roar, sinking its fangs deep into the turtle’s neck. Lapras let out a high-pitched wail; all the color drained from May’s face as she recalled her Pokémon.

“Is Fangcat going to be willing to attack you?” Mark whispered to Scyther.

“Her?” Scyther snorted. “She’d attack anything that’s not Rob. She’d be overjoyed about being allowed to kill in this battle if she was able to express any emotion other than bloodlust and hate.”

“But you have to battle her,” Mark said, his eyes wide.

“Of course I have to,” said Scyther simply, walking forward. “Oh, and you don’t need to give me orders; I know what I’m doing.”

“Fangcat, punish him!” the Mew Hunter roared.

“Fffffang!” Fangcat hissed, her eyes fixed on Scyther. He watched her closely too.

Suddenly, Scyther darted upwards. Fangcat leapt amazingly high after him, but he just flew even higher. Fangcat turned around in the air, knowing that Scyther was about to try to attack her from the back as she fell. When he dove down to slash at her, a well-aimed strike resulted in one of her fangs running Scyther’s body through.

He was stiff for a split second, his eyes wide, but then he raised both of his scythes and started slashing like mad. She was cut and bloody all over when they landed on the floor, her fang still entering his upper body at the front and coming out at the back. He was breathing rapidly.

“Fangcat, return!” the Mew Hunter said, white as a sheet of paper, as he held forward a Pokéball. The feline was absorbed into red energy and disappeared. Scyther was left lying alone on the floor. He then started muttering something Mark recognized as the saying he had mentioned to Mark earlier:

“Death is not to be feared… for it is the only thing… that we all… have… in common…”

Scyther closed his eyes. The Mew Hunter took out a Pokéball, wide-eyed, but it just melted into thin air. Mark’s heart was thumping; Pokéballs didn’t do that unless…

May walked slowly towards the motionless mantis, observing him for a few seconds. Finally, she bent down and poked his shiny green armor. She quickly pulled her hand back.

“He’s dead,” she clarified after a moment’s pause. It didn’t surprise Mark. The Mew Hunter just stared at the lifeless Pokémon on the floor.

“…no,” he then whispered. “No! NO!”

“Oh yes,” said May mercilessly, stepping away from the body. “That bloody beast of yours killed him, on your own orders.”

The Mew Hunter dropped to his knees and buried his face in his hands. “Scyther…no…”

Mark was amazed at how quickly his whole attitude changed; just a few minutes ago, he had been the madman who seemed to want nothing more than see something killed, but now he looked completely broken down.

Mark hadn’t exactly known Scyther for a very long or pleasant time, but couldn’t help feeling horrible.

For ten seconds or so, everything was silent except from the Mew Hunter’s sobbing. Then, all of a sudden, the big window farther away on the wall shattered into pieces. Even the Mew Hunter looked up to see what was happening.

In through the window flew a small, pink, catlike creature with big, sad, sapphire blue eyes.

“It is such a shame,” said Mew gravely, not to anybody in particular, levitating three meters or so above Scyther’s body, “when the young die…”

The Legendary Pokémon’s big eyes turned to the Mew Hunter.

“Especially when one knows that when it comes right down to it… it’s one’s own fault.” There was a brief silence.

“Your life was meant to be longer,” said the Legendary Pokémon sadly to the lifeless body on the floor. The beautiful eyes closed, and Mew was enveloped in a reddish-pink aura. So was Scyther’s body.

The big hole in the middle of his upper body closed. The blood on the floor disappeared. The glow faded, first on Scyther, then on Mew.

Scyther’s eyes opened.

He blinked a few times and then slowly stood up.

“I’m… back...” Scyther whispered, looking around. Mark realized that he had just witnessed a miracle – an example of the incredible power of the Legendary Pokémon…

“I won the battle,” said the Mew Hunter suddenly. “Scyther died.”

“Hey, that’s not fair!” Mark protested. “Fangcat fainted first!”

“But Scyther died,” the Mew Hunter hissed.

“Looks pretty darn alive to me now,” Mark replied. The mantis was seemingly talking to Mew.

“But he was…”

“Hey, okay, let’s assume you won,” May interrupted. “Then we’ll give in and tell you where Mew is: over there. Now give Mark his Pokémon so we can leave.”

The Mew Hunter jerked his head in Mew’s direction, like he was first now realizing that it was Mew and not something else.

“I will change my whereabouts now,” said Mew to him. “I shall travel… and you shall not find me.”

The Mew Hunter grabbed a Pokéball, but Mew’s eyes just glowed a deep purple, its shape started to flicker and then it disappeared in a flash of violet.

“I will find you… I will…” he muttered, staring at the place where Mew used to be. Then he seemed to snap out of his trance, fixed his gaze on Scyther and reached for his Pokéball.

“But… Scyther’s Pokéball melted!” he realized as his hand found only air.

“Yes,” said Scyther slowly. “Mew told me… I’m not bound to it anymore…”

The Mew Hunter’s eyes widened.

“Rob, we could go back and live our old life. But are you ready to give up on Mew for that?”

“I have to go… I have to find Mew… I’m sorry,” said the Mew Hunter.

“Then… I wish you the best of luck,” said Scyther sorrowfully before taking off and flying out of the window to freedom.

The Mew Hunter stared after him.

“Um… my Pokémon?” Mark asked carefully.

“Sure…” said the Mew Hunter absent-mindedly, handing him his Pokéballs like he had no idea what he was doing. Mark quietly attached them back to his belt and the kids hurried out of the building before the Mew Hunter realized where they were.

-------

“Wow,” May said on the way to the Alumine Pokémon Center. “That was some adventure…”

“Where were you the whole time, by the way?” Mark asked curiously.

“Well, when the guy took you inside and you didn’t come out again, I got a bit suspicious so I walked around the building a bit and found the end of that ventilation pipe. Then I crawled through it and ended up at your end, and watched and heard everything. I didn’t want to come down sooner because I didn’t think it would be smart to give Scyther a reason to… erm, change the plan…”

“Why didn’t you just call the police?” Mark asked.

“Well…” May bit her lip, “you could say I’m… not much for the way they do things.”

Mark decided not to question her further about that. “I feel a bit sorry for that man, though. He’s totally lost his mind.”

May nodded. “We’re here.”

The familiar, red, dome-shaped roof of the Pokémon Center towered over them. A sign outside it informed them that the Pokémon Center had free rooms for all Pokémon trainers.

“Wait!”

Scyther walked through a crowd of people who automatically split to the sides, giving him a clear path.

“What’s your name?” he asked Mark out of the blue.

“Mark,” he replied, not sure what Scyther wanted.

“Mark, can I come with you?”

“What?” Mark stared at the mantis.

“You wouldn’t understand, it’s complicated, but I have nothing to live for in the wild. Rob’s Mew-obsession has taken over him. It’s either you… or wasting the life that Mew gave me another chance at.”

Mark nodded.

“One condition, though,” said Scyther worriedly. “This may sound strange, but… don’t report him to the police. I’ve known him for three years, and usually he is a wonderful person and friend. Trust me, you’ve only seen the one truly bad side of him. He doesn’t deserve jail.”

Mark nodded again.

“Got a spare Pokéball?” Scyther asked. Mark took out the last one that had come with his Pokéball belt, and tapped Scyther with it. He was dissolved into red light and sucked into the ball. It immediately pinged; Scyther showed no resistance against it.

It was quite an interesting Pokémon team Mark was going to have now. An abandoned Charmeleon, a baby Eevee who didn’t know what Pokémon training was, a Sandshrew who had just gained his very first bit of confidence, a starved, weird Gyarados, a curious Dratini, and a depressed Scyther.

May just stared.



This was one of my favorite chapters in the fic for a long time; when I first wrote it it was the first chapter I was planning and looking forward to for a while. I think it's pretty silly nowadays (oh boy, all the breakneck mood whiplashes and awkward exposition and general nonsense), but it's very my fourteen-year-old id.
 
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Chapter 11: The Lizard and the Mantis

Dragonfree

Moderator
Staff
Location
Iceland
Pronouns
she/her/hers
Partners
  1. butterfree
  2. mightyena
  3. charizard
  4. custom/scyther-mia
Without further ado, chapter 11, wherein some Pokémon start a petty rivalry.


Chapter 11: The Lizard and the Mantis​

2021-08-16-chapter11.png

Mark was starting to feel uncomfortable again as they waited for their Pokémon to be healed. Nurse Joy had informed May that thankfully, Lapras and Skarmory would recover.

This Pokémon Center, like the one in Cleanwater City, had a pink furry carpet and red couches scattered around randomly. As Mark sat motionlessly in one, he drifted to sleep.

The dream was just a very short flash of scythes, eyes with slits for pupils, green reptilian heads, forty-centimeter-long blood-covered fangs, death and a bit more blood. Then he snapped awake again, breathing rapidly.

Mark calmed down upon realizing that he was in the Pokémon Center. May was just bringing his Pokémon back.

“Thanks,” he mumbled, attaching them to his belt. “Hey, I think I’m going outside for a bit… I guess I could use some fresh air, and maybe I’ll introduce Scyther properly to my Pokémon.”

She nodded, and Mark stood up, walking outside. The sun was slowly sinking into the horizon in the far west. The air was comfortably cool, although it couldn’t exactly be called fresh.

“Go, Charmeleon, Sandshrew, Eevee, Dratini.”

The four Pokémon materialized on the ground and cried out their names.

“Um… did you know that you were stolen?” Mark asked.

“Yes, we know the whole story,” said Charmeleon. “But we’re back with you now, so does that really matter?”

“Well, you see… I have a new Pokémon now…”

Mark felt one of his Pokéballs wobble a bit; then the two halves separated. A beam of red shot out of it and took shape into Scyther right next to Mark. As the mantis Pokémon formed, the four smaller ones backed away.

“Mark…” asked Charmeleon hesitantly, “isn’t that the thief’s Scyther?”

“Yeah,” Mark said. “He joined us.”

Charmeleon stared at him for a second, but then asked: “Erm… what the heck happened to your common sense?”

“What?” Mark asked, confused.

“Well, isn’t it obvious?” Charmeleon snapped. “You’re opening the door wide to a Pokémon that was going to kill you just half an hour ago!”

“He wasn’t going to!” Mark objected. “He even refused to battle for the Mew Hunter!”

“Who says that isn’t a part of the plan too?” said Charmeleon, eying Scyther suspiciously.

“I…”

“I can’t force you to trust me,” said Scyther, “and really, I can’t blame you for not trusting me. I’m not used to being trusted.”

“Oh, come on,” said Mark, annoyed, “just give us your word that you aren’t going to hurt anybody.”

“I don’t make promises,” said the mantis calmly. “Not to you, not to somebody who won’t believe it anyway, and not to anybody else. Breaking a promise is painful, and the only way to avoid the pain is not to make the promise.”

Mark was starting to feel a bit more skeptical about Scyther’s company now, but he didn’t want to admit defeat right away.

“See?” Charmeleon snorted. “At least he has the decency not to go back on his word – by not giving any word to go back on!”

“Let Mark decide,” said Scyther expressionlessly. “He’s heard both sides of the argument, and it’s him who we’re trying to affect. Let him be the judge.”

“Guys,” Mark said decisively towards his Pokémon, “I want all of you to come over here and accept Scyther as one of you.”

The mantis offered his right scythe for a handshake, but Mark’s four much smaller Pokémon just flinched, apart from Charmeleon, who glared at Mark like he couldn’t believe this. Nobody moved, until finally – much to Mark’s surprise – Sandshrew walked nervously forward. He glanced anxiously at the raised scythe, but decided not to come near it so he just nodded and sat down.

“Great. Anybody else?” Mark asked, smiling.

He was even more surprised when Eevee tilted his head and approached the giant bug. He even raised his right front paw to touch the top of Scyther’s blade. Scyther smiled faintly, moving his arm slightly. Eevee jumped, but showed no signs of regret when he took his place beside Mark.

Dratini then slithered forward. His black, beady eyes looked curiously up at the bug’s reptilian head, and what could only be a cute little smile appeared on his face. Scyther nodded slowly, and the dragon crawled to Eevee’s side.

Now only Charmeleon was left, and he showed no signs of being about to come over. He just gave Scyther a nasty glare, folded his arms and then turned his back firmly towards the rest of the Pokémon, flicking his tail flame.

“Fine,” said Scyther matter-of-factly. “We’ll have it your way, then…”

And he also crossed his bladed arms and turned his back towards Charmeleon in the exact same manner.

“Oh, come on,” Mark sighed, but the two Pokémon didn’t move.

“Mark!”

May came out of the Pokémon Center and eyed Scyther and Charmeleon curiously before turning to Mark.

“Hey, there’s supposedly a decent, cheap restaurant in town called The Gamesharked Skarmory. I’ve been given directions, and I’m going there now. Are you coming?”

“Yeah, sure,” Mark said, recalling his Pokémon and trying to act like there was nothing wrong. He was thankful that May wasn’t the type of person to ask questions.

-------

After the meal, May told Mark that the Pokémon Center offered cheap accommodation for trainers. Mark noticed that she seemed to be obsessed with everything being cheap, but didn’t mention that. They just walked back to the Pokémon Center and checked in.

Once Mark was alone in his room, he undressed, put on his pajamas and, after a bit of thought, sent out his five Pokémon small enough to fit in the room. He noticed Charmeleon starting to growl at Scyther, but interrupted quickly:

“Hey, now we’re just going to sleep, all right? No arguing, insulting, attacking, or anything of the sort.”

Scyther and Charmeleon nodded and lay down on the floor with the other Pokémon. Mark made carefully sure that they weren’t going to do anything before closing his eyes.

Scyther suddenly leapt at him, his scythes raised. Mark gasped, only to discover that the mantis was lying peacefully on the floor, fast asleep.

“Stupid dream,” he muttered, turning around.

Fangcat snuck up on Charmeleon and prepared to sink her fangs into his unsuspecting body; he was turned around with his arms folded and didn’t see her…

Mark woke with a start, finding that this was also a dream.

“Darn it,” he mumbled. He dug his face into his fluffy pillow. Suddenly, he had no face and was throwing a black and red Pokéball at Mew…

Knowing in the dream that it was a dream, he broke out of it by forcing his eyes open. He screwed them shut again, staring at the blackness on the back of his eyelids. Two bright yellow eyes opened in the dark and he woke up yet again, his heart stinging uncomfortably.

He waited, and waited. Mew started laughing manically, threatening to kill Eevee. Mewtwo² lay dead in a pool of blood on the floor, but the Mew Hunter was trying to resurrect him by muttering old sayings. Mark ordered Scyther to kill May because she was trying to steal Charmeleon.

Mark knew it was all a stupid dream, but let it all happen in his head without waking up. It was somehow relieving to let all of this day’s happenings mix up into something insane.

-------

A young man stared out of the window at the stars. His gray eyes reflected their light.

“Emotions…” he muttered out of the blue. “Strong ones… fighting to keep them inside… interesting…”

He blinked.

-------

Charmeleon lay on the floor, pretending to be asleep. Mark wasn’t mumbling in his sleep anymore; he had most likely fallen into deep sleep.

Mark is being stupid, he thought grimly. Does he have any idea what a Scyther could do in the night? Especially one who can break out of Pokéballs by himself…

And that bug is acting all arrogant, trying to be the wise one, trying to look good… but I see right through him. If Mark doesn’t want to believe me, fine…

I’ll show that overgrown mantis one day… I’ll show him…


With a grin, he closed his eyes. He dreamt not the happenings of this day, but a plan for the future.



Guess which day it is when the sun is setting at the beginning of this chapter, relative to the start of Mark's journey. Did you guess day two? On day one, Mark went to the library, walked to Cleanwater city with Charmander, went shopping (when he got out of the store it was stated to be six o'clock), had dinner with Charmander, went to the Lake of Purity, was training there for a while, witnessed Suicune as the sun set, took Gyarados back to the city, and then went straight to the hotel to sleep after stopping off at the Pokémon Center. On day two, he talked to Eevee, fought a couple of junior trainers at the gym, bought TMs, fought four more junior trainer battles, discovered Rick's cloning lab, went to the hotel to change his clothes, returned to the gym to battle Rick, went to the Lake of Purity again with May, came back and released Mew, walked with May all the way to Alumine with a stop at the Rainbow Café, and then went through the whole Mew Hunter ordeal, all before sunset. Events truly happen at a breakneck pace in the first third of this fic.

Anyway, ominous foreshadowy dreams goooo

When I originally wrote the scene where Mark insists all his Pokémon should accept Scyther, Scyther didn't actually say anything, but in this revision I added all of his dialogue where he refuses to promise not to hurt anyone and so on, which just renders the fact Mark is exactly equally determined that Scyther is Fine pretty nuts. More amazing choices by fourteen-year-old me.
 
Chapter 12: Let There Be Light

Dragonfree

Moderator
Staff
Location
Iceland
Pronouns
she/her/hers
Partners
  1. butterfree
  2. mightyena
  3. charizard
  4. custom/scyther-mia
Chapter twelve time! With this, we have officially caught up with the chapter art, so next chapter's coming when I finish the art for it. Once again, this is likely to be in the range of 3-6 days.



Chapter 12: Let There Be Light​

2021-08-21-chapter12.png

Mark woke up the next morning, feeling like he hadn’t slept at all. He didn’t remember much of his dreams, except that they had all included some sort of a tweaked version of something that had happened the day before. Except the ones with the yellow eyes, he wasn’t sure where that came from.

He blinked, staring at the ceiling as he still lay in the bed. What would he do today…

Mark smiled at his own stupidity when he realized the obvious: he hadn’t challenged the official Pokémon gym of Alumine yet.

He sat up and blinked some more. His Pokémon were still asleep. He got dressed quietly and recalled them without waking them up.

After breakfast, he headed straight towards the magnificent, shiny building. He had heard that the gym leader used shine to his advantage, and suddenly started getting a bit nervous. He had been battling the previous gym leader yesterday! This was a whole new one, most likely with considerably stronger Pokémon.

He was pretty confident that the gym leader had to possess at least one Skarmory. Living in this town, it seemed absolutely absurd for a gym leader not to have one, especially seeing as the gym was constructed out of their feathers.

And Steel types like Skarmory were resistant to… a lot of things, if Mark remembered correctly. Most physical moves, at the very least, and a lot of special ones too. But they were definitely weak to Fire, meaning Charmeleon would be at an advantage.

Eevee, however, would be toast. He could only perform Return and probably Tackle, Tail Whip and stuff like that. Nothing that would ever harm a Steel-type to any extent.

Sandshrew would have a very hard time against a Skarmory, too; his Earthquake would not affect a bird Pokémon, and aside from that he could only scratch and use Poison Sting, which Mark believed was completely ineffective on Steel Pokémon.

Gyarados and Dratini’s dragon flames wouldn’t harm a Skarmory much either; Steel was the only type that resisted Dragon moves. As far as Mark knew, Gyarados didn’t know any Water attacks. Maybe some Normal ones, but definitely not Water ones. Not Dratini either.

And Scyther – well, Mark didn’t know much about his strength exactly…

He whipped out his Kyogre-themed Pokédex and pointed it at the mantis’s Pokéball.

“Scyther – mantis Pokémon. Scyther is a highly dangerous Pokémon due to the sharp scythes it uses for hunting. It has been overhunted ever since the discovery of its Steel-type evolution, Scizor, and their numbers are decreasing rapidly,” said the electronic voice. Mark selected the option to view the Pokémon’s stats.

His jaw dropped.

Level 42? he thought. That’s insane! The rest of my Pokémon are just somewhere around level 20!

But level 42 or not, Scyther in general weren’t very fond of attacks that didn’t involve their scythes in some way or another. However sharp they might be, they would never be able to leave as much as a scratch on a Skarmory’s feathers.

Mark stopped in his tracks. He was lucky he hadn’t just wandered right into the gym without thinking it through! The battle would essentially be one on however many Pokémon the gym Leader might have.

This required some preparation. The first thing that popped into his head was Eevee, but of course, he couldn’t evolve him now…

Or am I just being overprotective again?

Mark sighed and took out Eevee’s Pokéball, sending him out. Somehow, he felt like Eevee looked older, but then again, he was probably just imagining it.

“Vee?” he asked, looking at Mark. His voice was now getting clearer and not as squeaky and baby-like. Mark was certainly not imagining that. Was Eevee… growing up?

“Hey, Eevee…” Mark wondered how to begin.

“Yes?” asked the Pokémon.

“Have you… have you ever thought about evolution?” Mark decided to just get to the point.

“Evolution?” Eevee tilted his head a bit, like he wasn’t sure what he meant.

“Yeah, like Charmander evolved and now he’s a Charmeleon.”

“Oh,” Eevee realized, “you mean like growing up?”

“Guess it can be called that,” said Mark, shrugging.

“But doesn’t that just happen when you’re old?” Eevee asked.

“No,” Mark explained, “evolution can happen in many different ways. It’s often the equivalent of some part of growing up, because a lot of physical maturing takes place at once during the process of evolution, but it doesn’t happen depending on age. Some Pokémon evolve when they have gained a certain amount of battle experience, sometimes evolution is triggered through strong emotions, for some Pokémon going through the compression that happens during a trade causes them to evolve, and some – like you, Eevee – can evolve when exposed to certain materials.”

“Will I become a Flareon, then, like Mommy was?” the Pokémon asked curiously.

“Well,” said Mark, not sure how to say it, “you can become one of five Pokémon, or choose to stay as you are.”

“What can I evolve into other than Flareon?” Eevee asked.

“Well, you can become a Vaporeon, Jolteon, Espeon or Umbreon too. Vaporeon is a Water Pokémon that relies on endurance and special attacking power and can dissolve into water. Jolteon focuses on speed and Electric attacks and can fire the spikes on its body at opponents. Flareon is a Fire Pokémon and its strategy is built on physical strength and resistance to elemental attacks. Espeon is adept at using its Psychic powers quickly and effectively. Umbreon centers around toughness and defensive abilities and is a Dark-type. And, of course, you can also just be an Eevee.”

“I don’t know,” Eevee answered unsurely. “Will I change, like when Charmander evolved?”

“Change? Of course you will change, into a different Pokémon…”

“No, I mean… inside.”

Mark felt a twinge of pain in his stomach. “Hopefully not… if we wait, then… never mind, you’re not ready,” he just mumbled and recalled Eevee. How could he have forgotten that? If anybody was too young to evolve without changing very much in personality, it was Eevee.

He’d just have to hope the gym leader’s team didn’t consist of many Skarmory.

Mark sighed and walked towards the gym. The bright sunlight reflecting off the million feathers blinded him. When he reached the half-circle-shaped door, he opened it and went inside.

It was pitch-black.

“Um… hello?” he called into the darkness.

“Hello,” answered a calm, deep male voice. “A challenger, eh?”

“Yeah,” Mark said nervously.

“Then let the light flow…”

Suddenly, vertical rifts of light appeared high above. They widened gradually and the sunshine found its way inside, revealing what was going on; a pale-skinned, bulky man with steel gray, spiky hair and pitch-black sunglasses wearing some kind of a silvery outfit stood on the opposite side of the room near a horizontal row of switches. When the man had assured himself that Mark had seen him, he turned another switch on. Suddenly, Mark was absolutely blinded as a ring of huge, bright projectors on the walls lit up. He winced, covering his eyes with his arms.

The man laughed. “My name is Christopher and I am the gym leader of Alumine. This is my gym, and in my gym, you play by my rules. I want light, then I’ll have light.”

Mark nodded.

“Secondly,” Christopher continued, “we will use two Pokémon each in this battle.”

Mark blindly reached for Charmeleon’s ball.

“Go, Steelix!” shouted Christopher.

“Charmeleon!” Mark yelled, throwing the ball into what he presumed was the arena. Peering out of the small rift between his eyelids, he could make out his Fire Pokémon cowering from the light.

“Char…” he growled.

“Steelix, Earthquake!” ordered the gym leader. Mark realized what he was doing; he was using attacks that didn’t depend on the user seeing the opponent.

“Jump!” Mark ordered desperately as the massive shape of the iron snake raised its tail. Charmeleon did something even better; he jumped onto Steelix’s tail and hung on to it while the iron snake sent ripples around the floor.

“Flamethrower!” Mark blurted out quickly.

“Slam!” Christopher countered.

The shape of Steelix’s tail was slammed towards the floor, but Charmeleon jumped off in time and breathed out a long tongue of brightly-colored flames. Steelix roared in pain.

“Iron Tail,” said Christopher, seemingly a bit worried. But when the iron snake’s tail was lifted upwards, it cast a shadow over Charmeleon, and he aimed carefully before sending a blast of flames straight at Steelix’s flat metal head. The massive snake flailed around in pain, roaring, and Charmeleon grabbed the opportunity to attack again with another Flamethrower.

The gigantic shape collapsed with a roar. Mark could make out a flash of red light that dissolved the iron snake.

“Very well…” Christopher grumbled. “Go… Scizor.”

Mark was surprised. Either the gym leader didn’t have a Skarmory at all, or he would rather send out a Pokémon that was much weaker to Fire attacks. Mark knew that Scizor, the evolved form of Scyther, had dark red armor, three spikes sticking out of its small head, two thin, transparent wings that it couldn’t fly with, and pincers on its arms. The shadowy shape that Christopher sent out seemed to match that description – except that while Mark couldn’t see it very well due to the light, it was certainly not red. It seemed more greenish.

“Double Team!” Christopher commanded hastily.

“Scizor!” hissed the Pokémon, and suddenly there were three of them standing there. Mark had no idea which was the real one. Neither did Charmeleon.

“Flamethrower the one on the left!” Mark shouted worriedly. The lizard spewed out a blast of fire, which melted the Scizor copy upon contact.

“Double Team two more times!” Christopher said harshly. Each of the two that were left split into three, bringing the total up to six. Then all six split too, and eighteen Scizor surrounded Charmeleon.

“Uh…” Mark wasn’t sure what he could do now. Charmeleon wouldn’t have the energy to melt seventeen copies, especially when they could duplicate themselves again at any point.

“Metal Claw!” Christopher barked. His bug Pokémon all jumped at Charmeleon with their pincers raised as they turned a steel gray color and grabbed his arms, tail, feet or horn. Charmeleon roared in pain; Mark knew that only one of them had actually struck, but it had struck hard.

“And now, Slash!”

The Scizor all opened their pincers wide before slashing at the lizard. Charmeleon retaliated by melting another copy, but the rest slashed again.

“Return,” Mark said, holding the Pokéball forward. Charmeleon was getting too weak.

He thought about who to send out next. The Scizor copies were still there, so they would be hard to beat whatever he did. But Scizor couldn’t fly, and Earthquake would hit anything that wasn’t flying…

Suddenly, the door to the gym opened behind Mark and May stepped inside. She was blinded by the light and raised her hand to shield her eyes, noticed Mark and waved with her other hand, smiling. She leant up to the wall to watch the battle, however she was going to see anything properly.

Mark remembered that he was still battling and reached for Sandshrew’s ball, but before he managed to pluck it off his belt, he felt Scyther’s ball start to wobble. The mantis burst out in a flash of white light.

“Scyther, what do you think you’re doing?” Mark yelled angrily. “This counts as sending you out!”

“That’s the point,” Scyther growled. “That pathetic life form you are currently facing is a Scizor.”

“What do you mean?”

“That my pride as a Scyther is at stake.”

Mark remembered the story he had been told when he was little about how Ash Ketchum’s Pikachu had battled Lt. Surge’s Raichu – and won – for the sake of all unevolved Pikachu out there and showing that evolution wasn’t everything. Was this something similar? It could also have something to do with the fact that, at least according to the Pokédex, Scyther had been decreasing in numbers ever since Scizor was discovered.

Mark didn’t get the chance to ask. Scyther’s shadowed shape was already standing firmly on the ground, surrounded by copies of his evolved form. If he was blinded by the light, he wasn’t showing it.

Suddenly, Scyther darted forward towards the first Scizor he saw. His scythe immediately chopped it in half and it dissolved. He did the same with all the others at amazing speed, until finally one turned out to be solid. The scythe didn’t put a scratch in the Scizor’s metallic armor, but it was knocked backwards. Scyther started slashing more intensely with both of his scythes, the Scizor narrowly blocking them with its pincers. Then suddenly, the green mantis leapt over the armored bug and slashed at its back. Mark couldn’t see clearly what happened, but it appeared that Scyther had cut Scizor’s wing off as it fell to the ground with a clatter.

The Scizor let out a cry of pain, collapsing, and Christopher, apparently afraid of what this could result in, raised a hand and said: “I give in.”

He pressed a button; the projectors were turned off, and Mark realized what was so unusual about the Scizor; it was a moss green color and slightly sparkly. Also known as a shiny.

Mark stared open-mouthed at it. Shiny Pokémon were incredibly rare. They didn’t differ from normal Pokémon in power, but a genetic mutation caused various parts of their bodies to be colored differently from the usual and give off a slight sparkle. Most trainers would die to own one; Mark didn’t like them that much, but just the thought of the recognition was something he’d risk a lot for.

Christopher grinned; he seemed to enjoy the attention. Mark’s gaze darted towards May, and instantly he knew that she was one of the trainers who would die to have a shiny Pokémon; she wasn’t staring at the Scizor in awe, but rather straight into the air, her face red with envy.

Suddenly, Scyther, who had been glaring at the Scizor with a gaze that could kill, started attacking it again, even though the Shiny had already been defeated. He slashed mindlessly, despite knowing that it wasn’t hurting Scizor’s metallic armor, with an expression of utmost loathing.

“Scyther – Scyther – what do you think you’re doing – you’re breaking the Agreement!” Mark cried out in an attempt to catch the mantis’s attention, but no avail. Christopher just quickly got out a Pokéball and recalled his Pokémon. Mark did the same, stunned; Scyther kept trying to slash even as he was dissolved into red energy.

“Your badge,” said Christopher grudgingly. Mark walked up to him and the gym leader dropped a coin similar to the Element Badge into his palm. Mark muttered some thanks and took the badge, walking to the place where May was standing as she proceeded towards her place on the arena. This coin seemed to be made of steel and had an extremely smooth, shiny surface. Mark turned it around; the back had “Shining Badge” engraved into it.

Just then, Christopher turned the projectors on again to battle May.

“Go, Skarmory!” she commanded, sending out her steel vulture.

“Go, Steelix!” the gym leader ordered, apparently having put his massive iron snake into a Pocket Healer while Mark’s mind was focused on something else.

“Swift,” May said, smirking. Mark knew it was a clever move in the situation; it couldn’t possibly miss. Her Skarmory released a flurry of feathers from its body, and indeed all of them shot straight at Steelix as though guided by an invisible force. But the snake’s armor was too thick to be harmed by the attack at all; the feathers bounced right off it, and Steelix didn’t even seem to notice.

“Iron Tail,” said Christopher. His Pokémon swung its tail upwards, knocking the vulture down. May recalled it without words.

“Lapras, do it! Surf!”

She sent out her big, turtle-like Pokémon and it shot a stream of water from its mouth into the air. It formed into a huge wave which crashed towards the Steelix. This time, it clearly noticed; it roared in pain, flailing around, and finally collapsed onto the floor.

“Return,” said Christopher and drew another Pokéball. “Skarmory, win this!”

Apparently, he did have a Skarmory. He had probably just wanted to save it for later or something. His steel vulture was considerably bigger than May’s, and circled Lapras like injured prey that was about to die.

“Skarmory, plan E.”

His Skarmory, with a high-pitched cry of “Ska-a-a!”, rocketed up towards the wall on one side. It didn’t stop, but rather smashed into it. As the walls swayed dangerously, the steel feathers started raining down upon the arena. The trainers automatically stepped back to avoid them, but Lapras couldn’t leave the arena and was heavily cut. Skarmory didn’t wait for an order and instantly did it again. The battle got more fast-paced, both trainers yelling out commands at the same time, Skarmory smashing the ceiling again and again, and Lapras firing icy beams. Finally, May ended up as the victor.

Christopher was clearly a lot happier to hand her the same badge he had presented to Mark earlier. Mark couldn’t really blame him; after all, he wouldn’t have been too happy either if his Pokémon’s wing had been cut off.

Seeing that May was walking towards the door, Mark just went outside, relieved to be in normal light again.

Scyther’s behaviour while battling Scizor still gave him the creeps.



oh look Mark's been handed another Pokémon that's especially powerful (I didn't even mean to, I just decided the Mew Hunter's Pokémon were in the forties to make May very outmatched back in chapter ten, which means when Scyther joins Mark, oops)

Back when I first played Gold and Silver, I was deeply affronted by the discovery that Scyther, a Pokémon I vaguely thought was kind of cool back in Yellow, now had an evolution called Scizor that didn't even have any scythes. What! How dare they make an evolution that just loses the entire appeal of the Pokémon?! So when Scyther accidentally became a recurring character in my fanfic - he was always meant to just be a one-off antagonist - I decisively implemented worldbuilding about how Scyther hate Scizor, and consider evolving to be a fate worse than death. This will be a recurring element.

It's really hilarious to me that Mark thinks Eevee looks older when literally explicitly yesterday he thought he might be too young to battle at all. Sure matured quickly, eh?

In the original version of the fic, Skarmory starting to bring down the ceiling in May's fight resulted in more sunlight streaming in and being reflected off the walls and everything, and Mark completely lost track of what was going on in the battle as a result of that - that's why it dissolved into describing the trainers shouting and a very rough idea of what's happening instead of the blow-by-blow. In this revision, for some bizarre reason I left the bit about it becoming too bright to see anything out entirely and just stated the battle got more fast-paced like it was an excuse to stop describing what happens. What a strange revision choice.
 
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