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The Quest for the Legends, now with its ILCOETH revision!

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Dragonfree, Apr 26, 2004.

  1. Shadow_Shaymin

    Shadow_Shaymin Gotz Burglarized

    I've finally managed to catch back up on the story after my computer broke down.

    Another great chapter! The battle was well thought out, you seem to have a knack for coming up with great sequences, and you threw a couple of twists in there, which in a way added another element to battle. Over the course of the story, I've really enjoyed how you've written the battle according to the emotions of the pokemon at the time. They may perform better or worse depending on events that occurred earlier on in the story line, something I don't really see in enough stories, including my own.

    At the end, the revelation of Mark ending his career as a trainer once he finished his mission was interesting. It's not a common thing to be seen in a story, as most fictions end with the characters becoming incredibly skilled and continuing battling as one of the best, but this makes the story seem unique in my eyes. Also, the tension the announcement made I'm sure will become an important factor down the line, especially the Scyther ordeal, and I'm interested to see how it turns out.

    Great writing, keep up the work. I'm re-hooked on this story, so I can't wait for the next chapter.
     
  2. Paddypower

    Paddypower That clueless guy

    New reader alert​


    Ok I've read all the way up to chapter 50 over the last few days and... well. Nice. To put it ridiculously lightly. I really love Letaligon, and I hope she changes her mind about leaving the team and killing her father. For some reason I really liked the sequence where Mark was deciding what moves to teach the team to conquer their weaknesses. I was actually a bit surprised at Mark losing the battle. Jolteon is way cooler than Flygon so I though he'd pull it off. Hard luck Mark, best stick to what you're good at. Subduing legendary monsters so they don't destroy everything. Much easier than battling.

    I hope the Pokémon don't get released, and they stay with Mark in Sailance. Except maybe Gyarados. He kinda creeps me out.

    Random rating time!
    Let's say... 9.3/10

    Oh and you have a PM list for this yes? If you do and it's not too much trouble, can I be added?
     
  3. Air Dragon

    Air Dragon Ha, ha... not.

    OK, no problem. This'll be like catching up with Pokemon Revolution: Johto or Hoenn League: A Brendan and May Adventure. Only it'll take WAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaa... (huff, huff)... AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaayyyyy~ longer.

    Rest assured, I shall read it all (or all that i copied, which i hope is everything) and review!

    I hope... --;

    L@er!
     
  4. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    Thanks for the reviews, everyone. I'm glad the Mark/May battle seems to have gone over well with you, since it's one of those things I really didn't want to screw up.

    Air Dragon: Um, I'm glad you're going to read it and all, but... you could've just PMed me if you wanted to tell me instead of writing a spammy reply to the thread. :/ Oh, well. I'll be looking forward to your reviews in the future.

    Anyway, chapter fifty-one is here! Sorry for the wait. It's a bit of an odd chapter, but I actually really like how it came out.




    Chapter 51: Fake-Out

    “You’ll never guess what I just found.”

    Mark looked up, making sure to leave his hand half-covering the tabloid he was reading: he felt stupid to have picked it up, but the cover page had had a blown-up photograph of some blurry patches that were claimed to be two of the Color Dragons, and it was the closest he had come so far to finding anything about relatively recent legendary sightings at the library.

    May thrust an unremarkable-looking paperback into his hands and he looked blankly at it.

    Blood Sport: A Fighter’s View of Fighting,” he read from the front. It was one of those typical blown-up titles that took up half of the cover; on this one, the publisher had apparently determined that it would look the most dramatic if it had a black background with the title bright red in a font that was meant to look like it was dripping blood but more resembled cheesy nail polish. He looked quizzically up at May.

    “Turn it over,” she just said. He did, flipping the book over to read the back cover, and was greeted by a black-and-white photo of a Hitmonchan that looked distinctly familiar.

    “…Fury? Fury the Hitmonchan wrote a book?” Mark asked incredulously and quickly began to read the blurb beside the picture. “‘In this thought-provoking book, the world’s first Pokémon to obtain a trainer license provides a sharp and witty criticism of the old-fashioned view of Pokémon battling that still permeates the society of today…’” He flipped the book over again and opened it at a random page in the middle.

    …with competitions such as the Pokémon Frenzy Tournament of the Green Town Pokémon Festival, which I myself have had the ‘pleasure’ of participating in. At a glance, the concept looks promising: Pokémon are to battle by themselves, using their own wits and skill rather than being commanded by their trainers who normally get more than their fair share of the glory, and so I had high hopes when I entered, figuring it to be just my sort of thing. At the very least I was expecting to have found a tournament in which Pokémon were given the credit they deserved. Instead I was treated to what more resembled a spectacularly elaborate sadist fantasy; Pokémon have never been objectified more than in this brutal game in which the human organizers seem, more than anything, to be hoping to watch the battlers murder or mutilate one another. (I suppose it would be futile to point out to them that most Pokémon do not have it in their cultures to murder one another unprovoked and fight mostly in friendly competition with serious disputes on the side, even provided they looked up from the carnage for long enough to listen.) I watched as Pokémon were pitted against others they had a severe type disadvantage against or were at a dramatically higher level instead of being matched evenly, and when a trainer stood up in concern when his Pokémon seemed to be in mortal danger, he was told with a disturbing sort of glee that trainers were not allowed to interfere, while the organizers did absolutely nothing even though the winner had been clearly determined by that point. I don’t blame the Pokémon who participated, or their trainers – they might easily have been deceived by the appearance of it as I was – but why the Pokémon Festival openly featured this barbaric event was beyond me once I had seen it for what it was. As it happens I was curious enough to ask the organizers of the Festival, who seemed at least tentatively open to my perspective when I spoke to them. I permit myself to hope that the Pokémon Frenzy Tournament will be off the list of events next year, but who knows what other competitions in the same vein might be going on with a lower profile under the same guise of something revolutionary and Pokémon-centered?

    “I flipped through it,” May said as Mark looked up in astonishment. “It’s all about trainer-centicism and stuff, dotted with amusing anecdotes about his journey. I’d never have guessed he was the political type.”

    Mark shook his head and closed the book, making a mental note to try to read it sometime when all this was over.

    “And guess what else,” May went on. “Robin Riverstone is a girl.”

    “Really?” Mark thought quickly back to that first preliminary battle they’d watched and to the trainer who had won with a Charizard and a Cacturne. She’d had short hair and a sort of boyish face and a voice of ambiguous pitch; they’d pretty much assumed it was a guy, but thinking on it, there had been no real indication either way.

    “I went to look her up for the battle, and that’s what her profile says. So I’m not the only girl in the semifinals. At least that’s good news.”

    Mark nodded. She’d been annoyed about that the day before, although by the time she’d brought that up she’d been in a terrible mood already after a lengthy rant about the fact that Taylor had also proceeded to the semifinals and she had still not been matched against him.

    “Found anything on the legendaries?” May finally asked, glancing at the magazine he’d been reading.

    “Nothing of much worth.” Mark sighed. “This is all just people going all excited over somebody who thinks he photographed the Color Dragons around the Eastern Cliffs. It’s so blurry it could be Pidgey for all we know.”

    “Well, we might as well check it out, after we’re out of here,” May replied. “It’s pretty much on the way to Ruxido anyway, and that’s where we’re taking Letaligon, right? And then we can stop at the Ouen Safari, too. I’ve always wanted to go there.”

    Mark shrugged. He had become rather cynical about legendary sightings over the years, having read about a multitude of confirmed hoaxes and still more supposed sightings that were never repeated or simply inconsistent with others. On the other hand, he of course wanted it to be true, and it wasn’t as if they had never been possibly spotted for real.

    “Well, I don’t know about you,” May said, “but I’m going to train. I’ve got all the info on Robin I need.”

    Mark nodded, looked at the magazine – he had more or less finished the article – and stood up. “I’m coming with you. It’s got to be more fun than this.”

    -------

    It was weird to just sit there with his team, watching May’s idea of discussing strategies.

    “We know she’s good,” she was saying, walking left past the straight line that her Pokémon formed, eying each one as she passed them. She turned sharply around at Floatzel’s end of the line and walked back the other way, continuing to talk. “There can’t be any stupid mistakes. It could cost us the match. I’ve seen her battle twice and I can tell we’ll have to work this perfectly.”

    Now that her back was turned, the sea otter returned to glaring at Mark, apparently still not having forgiven him for allowing Dragonite to save her from drowning. The other Pokémon followed her with their eyes as she paced down the line, turned back around (Floatzel’s gaze snapped back to her as if she’d been listening all along) and repeated the maneuver, still going on about the Pokémon that Robin Riverstone had and what kinds of strategies May had noticed her using.

    Mark had intended to try to follow the discussion in the hope of learning something, but he quickly zoned out as May seemingly simply thought aloud about what would and wouldn’t work. She mentioned a truly inordinate number of moves that she seemed to have taught her Pokémon at some point (Raichu could learn Grass Knot?) and half of what she said was very difficult to follow, going along logical pathways that were really not as obvious as May seemed to think they were and frequently backtracking and jumping back and forth. He looked at her Pokémon and wondered idly if they had actually learned how to keep up with her train of thought or if they just pretended.

    He looked around at his own Pokémon for comparison. Letaligon actually appeared to be keeping up with it, miraculously enough. Dragonite was also seemingly trying to listen, though he glanced occasionally at Floatzel, who nonetheless refused to look directly at him, instead focusing her grudge towards Mark for the moment. Jolteon scratched nervously at the ground, watching May with a miserable expression of confusion on his face. Charizard and Sandslash had simply lain down to sleep. Scyther sat in the grass near Mark and swept his scythe absent-mindedly across it, tiny pieces of wet grass blades sticking to the blade as it chopped them away.

    He was beginning to seriously consider going back to the library when suddenly he heard his name. He looked quickly around before it registered properly in his mind that the voice had been telepathic.

    “Mark,” Chaletwo repeated urgently. “I just picked up a psychic distress call.”

    It took a moment for him to realize what that meant. “Wait – so Alan’s found a legendary?”

    “Seems like it. Hurry up.”

    “May!” Mark called; she stopped mid-sentence and looked up, apparently annoyed at the interruption. “Alan’s found a legendary. We have to go!”

    Her mouth fell briefly open, but then she nodded quickly towards all her Pokémon and recalled them into their Pokéballs. Mark did the same and walked towards her, already accessing the PC system in his Pokédex to switch Chaletwo to an active ball so that he could come out. His heart was pounding in his chest – which legendary had Alan found? He hoped it wasn’t something like the Waraider herd. He looked briefly around to make sure there was no one who might see what was going on.

    Chaletwo burst out of the Pokéball, placed his bulbous hands on Mark and May’s shoulders and whisked them away. Suddenly they were standing in a grassy field close to where a sparse fir forest met a mountainside; Chaletwo had already recalled himself. Mark didn’t recognize the place at all. He turned around quickly, looking for Alan and the legendary, and found instead a teenage girl with very long, dark brown hair who was glancing wildly from side to side as an Alakazam stood in front of her and struggled to maintain a Light Screen against a bright Flamethrower.

    “Leah?” Chaletwo’s voice asked quizzically. “That distress call came from you?”

    “Chaletwo?” the girl called, looking straight towards Mark and May. “Thank God! Help me out here!”

    Mark was too busy staring at the source of the Flamethrower to really think about who this girl was. Just a few feet away, hopelessly tangled in what seemed like several sticky, white Spider Webs, was Entei, one of the legendary Beasts of Johto. He struggled against his bonds with all his might in between firing Flamethrower after Flamethrower at the girl’s Alakazam, who strained against the force of the repeated attacks, clearly about to give in. From the looks of the girl’s face, it was her last Pokémon.

    He realized with a jolt that May’s Pokémon were materializing around him and quickly threw out his own Pokéballs, only barely remembering to leave out the ball Chaletwo was currently in. He took out his Pokédex again to switch Chaletwo back for Jolteon and wished he’d had the sense to wake up Charizard and Sandslash before they’d left; they were looking sleepily up and blinking, then bolting up as they realized what was going on.

    “Are you mad?” Chaletwo’s voice was saying fiercely in Mark’s head, though it was apparently directed at the Alakazam’s trainer. “You can’t just send a general distress call when you’re battling a legendary in the hope that I’ll happen to hear it and come to your aid! What if a legendary had heard it?”

    “What? You told me to do that if it got bad!” the girl called as the Pokémon rushed to attack the immobilized Entei. The legendary turned his head as Floatzel smacked into his body with a splash, followed by a Thunderbolt from Jolteon and a quick slash from Scyther. Dragonite fired a powerful Hyper Beam that threw Entei back a little.

    “...Did I?”

    Entei gave Floatzel an indignant snort as Charizard landed on his back, claws flaring with dragon fire. Next to May, Mutark was already growing into a stronger form.

    “Yes! You said there are no Psychic legendaries in Johto anymore and the others wouldn’t teleport to another region to respond to something like that! And that the odds a trainer will both have a Psychic Pokémon out that’s strong enough to pick it up and decide to go do something about it was negligible!”

    As Floatzel stumbled back in a daze and tripped over herself, Charizard grunted, realizing too late that the sticky Spider Web could trap him as easily as Entei himself now that he had come into contact with it. The legendary Pokémon roared and glowed red, the sticky threads burning with an unpleasant smell before he released a plume of flame around the entire battlefield. Mark turned away to protect his face from the scorching heat and heard the cries of several of the Pokémon as the attack hit them; when he could look again, Scyther was down and Letaligon was running weakly towards the legendary to hit it with a Slash before she collapsed on the ground as well. Mark recalled them worriedly; he had hoped their training during the League would prevent Pokémon going down in one hit from the legendaries’ attacks.

    “...Fine, I guess I remember saying that, but...”

    “Will you just shut up and try to help?” Leah shouted as she recalled her Alakazam, who had apparently been brought down by the attack as well. “I thought this was supposed to be kind of important!”

    “They’re helping already,” Chaletwo mumbled grumpily, though he did not further the argument. The Eruption had partly scorched the threads of Ariados silk holding Entei captive, and though they did not release their grip on the legendary, it did allow the much less stuck Charizard to wriggle loose from Entei’s back at last.

    “Try to stick to attacks that don’t require physical contact, everybody,” Mark called. The moment Charizard was off and a safe distance away, May ordered her Tyranitar to use Stone Edge, and the ground underneath Entei exploded upwards, sharp rocks digging up into his body while Flygon breathed a sparkling Dragonbreath at his face. He roared, blinded, and again his body glowed brightly red and spawned an explosion of flames. May’s Skarmory fell screeching to the ground after pulling off a Rock Slide; Mutark collapsed with a mewling whine.

    As May took out two Pokéballs to recall them and her Blaziken fired a bright blue Focus Blast, Mark eyed the river flowing over the plains nearby and realized that he could send out Gyarados – but the image of Suicune’s body flashed in his mind and he shuddered at the thought. Meanwhile, May was furiously pressing buttons on her Pokédex to switch Skarmory and Mutark to the computer before she threw out two new balls, releasing Butterfree and Raichu in their place.

    “Thunder Wave and Tailwind!” she called.

    As Sandslash called a rain of rocks upon Entei, Raichu crouched down and sent a sparkling wave of electricity towards the legendary. He stiffened and growled as he strained to move his head up towards Butterfree; she began to flap her wings in a rhythmic pattern until she had produced a strong wind at their backs.

    Entei managed to move at last as two Thunderbolts from Jolteon and Raichu struck him. Letting out a deep roar, he enveloped himself in a glow of heat yet again, and the Pokémon braced themselves for being hit by the fiery eruption of before. Instead, however, it was a weaker plume more concentrated around Entei himself, and it burned through the last threads of silk that were binding him to the ground. Entei rose to his feet, shook off the final remains of the thread, and was clearly preparing to hightail it out of there as Tyranitar produced a second explosion of rocks from the ground below him. With nothing tying him down, Entei was thrown up and landed awkwardly on his side.

    “Floatzel, Whirlpool!” May shouted as the legendary Pokémon stumbled back to his feet. Floatzel snapped out of her daze just in time, and a vortex of water sprang up around Entei, preventing him from escaping.

    Entei growled as Sandslash jumped bravely through the Whirlpool and latched onto his leg, digging his claws into the soft paw. Entei slammed his other paw down on him to peel him off, but just then Dragonite dived straight into him while flaring with blue flames and threw him onto his side. Dragonite quickly picked up the already unconscious Sandslash and carried him out of the Whirlpool, where he could be recalled. Mark’s heart thumped as the pangolin’s body was absorbed back into his Pokéball; Entei was struggling to get up now, thanks to the injuries on his paw.

    “Tyranitar, use Stone Edge! Blaziken, stay back for now! Flygon, Dragonbreath! Waterfall, Floatzel! Butterfree, Psychic!” May barked from behind him. Her Blaziken joined Charizard, who has hovering some distance away, not daring to risk trying to cross the Whirlpool while it was in full force. Meanwhile, the ground under the fallen legendary exploded upwards yet again while Flygon breathed sparkly dragon flames towards him, and Jolteon and Raichu pulled together for a collaborative Thunderbolt just before Floatzel jumped into the Whirlpool and sent water crashing down on Entei. Butterfree sent a blast of psychic energy the legendary’s way.

    Mark shuddered as he tried to see the legendary through the vortex. It was still uncomfortable to look at one of the legendary Pokémon he had loved and respected since he was little being ganged up on, and he realized dimly that he hadn’t really given any orders in the battle so far. “Try an Aqua Tail?” he called to Dragonite, who had seemingly thought much the same thing as he hovered above waiting for an opportunity to get a hit in; only moments later, when Entei had smacked Floatzel away, the dragon dived down with his tail turned aquatic, only to suddenly stop in mid-air, his eyes widening before he simply crumpled to the ground and didn’t stand back up. Mark recalled him, puzzled, while Jolteon and Raichu pulled off one more Thunderbolt.

    Floatzel was moving in for another attack when, similar to Dragonite, her eyes suddenly widened and she just sort of went limp. Some part of Mark’s brain remembered that Entei knew Extrasensory, and his sheer power could be because he might have used Calm Mind a few times before they’d come along. He felt a pang in his heart as Jolteon suffered the same fate and recalled him quickly. If Entei would just start picking them off with the Psychic move now, he really ought to send out Gyarados anyway; he took out his Pokédex and quickly began to switch him to an active ball.

    The Whirlpool had begun to lose force and dissipate into a soft drizzle around the area; Entei had managed to get to his feet, but he was crouched low, shivering after being trapped inside the vortex of water for so long. He sent a Flamethrower flying straight at May’s Butterfree, who crumpled to the ground with her wings scorched, and then made what looked like an attempt to jump, but his paralysis stopped him just as May replaced her own Pokédex on her belt. “Spirit, go! Mean Look!” she called, throwing forth a ball.

    Wait a minute, Mark suddenly thought just as he was about to send out Gyarados. Spirit. Entei.

    The Ninetales materialized from her Pokéball, and all of a sudden Entei stopped and straightened himself with difficulty. “Ah,” he said, his voice still a bit hoarse and weak from the battle. “You.”

    All of Mark and May’s remaining Pokémon stopped where they were standing. Leah looked at Mark and then May in puzzlement. “We’re idiots!” Chaletwo spat privately to Mark, not wanting to make his presence known to the other legendary. “We could have had Spirit talk to him to begin with, but with Leah being here and all I just sort of…”

    “You have been fighting Entei?” Spirit asked sharply, looking over at May. All the other Pokémon looked at her. Entei continued to gaze at Spirit, ignoring all the tearing, blood and dragonfire burns streaking his thick fur after the battle.

    Mark suddenly felt one of the Pokéballs at his belt twitch, and Gyarados materialized in the river. An uncomfortable flash of déjà vu struck Mark and he frantically grabbed the Pokéball, ready to recall him, but hesitated as Entei looked at Gyarados.

    “The other,” the legendary said with a nod. “Suicune has told me about you.”

    “Told you about me?” Gyarados spat. “What does he think I am, his son?”

    “Why can they speak English?” Leah mouthed at Mark, looking utterly confused. He tried to make some sort of a gesture that could be interpreted as ‘long story; explain later’.

    “Master Entei,” Spirit said, bowing down, “I must bring you grave news. Suicune’s Chosen has rebelled and murdered his mas...”

    “I know,” Entei interrupted, turning his intense gaze back towards her and instantly silencing her.

    “Tell me what all this is about or I’ll do the same to you,” Gyarados growled, and Mark tightened his grip on the Pokéball in his hand.

    “I could ask you the same question,” said Entei, looking searchingly at Gyarados and then Spirit. “Why are you out here trying to capture me?”

    There was a silence. Everyone looked doubtfully at one another, then settled for looking at Mark, who fingered Gyarados’s Pokéball nervously. They couldn’t tell the legendaries about their mission, could they...?

    “Hello, Entei,” said Chaletwo with a weary sigh before anyone else had said anything.

    “Chaletwo? That is a surprise.” Entei surveyed Mark with interest for a moment of thought. “Is this about whatever it was you tried to convince us all to be captured for some twenty years back?”

    “What else?” said Chaletwo resentfully. “No one agreed to it, and it’s extremely important, so I had to get it done by force. If you don’t allow us to capture you willingly now, we’ll beat you down and capture you anyway. You’re weak. You couldn’t handle all these Pokémon with the little you have left.”

    Entei spent a silent second looking at Mark with something like amusement glinting in his eyes. Then: “Say, Chaletwo... is this by any chance about preventing the War of the Legends?”

    Everyone stared at Entei.

    “How do you know about the War of the Legends?” Chaletwo’s voice was sharp, almost angry.

    “The same way you do, presumably,” Entei replied. “Not long after you and Molzapart tried to persuade us, we the Beasts of Johto noticed our power loss, so we talked to Mew. She was reluctant, but she told us about the War and that we couldn’t inform the other legendaries for fear that chaos would arise. So we hatched a plan of our own.”

    Somewhere in the back of Mark’s numb mind, he remembered that Mew was one of those legendaries with no grammatical gender preference, even though Chaletwo had always used the masculine.

    “So... you’re trying to prevent it as well?” Chaletwo asked limply.

    “Not quite. We didn’t think of anything to prevent it altogether – Pokéballs? Do you really think that will work? – but we did figure that it might be safer, for us at least, to insure our souls and store our power somewhere the Destroyer couldn’t reach it. So we each chose a few young potential Pokémon of our types, gave them a share of our power, made them speak human to minimize the potential conflict with that species, put them through some tests to see which had the greatest chance of survival...”

    “You selfish legendaries,” Gyarados spat, making a point of speaking the Pokémon language this time. “Always thinking about your own insurance, saving your own skins, sacrificing other Pokémon for your sake. You’re repulsive.”

    “We are all selfish,” Entei replied, his eyes suddenly cold and merciless. “No one wants to die. The difference is that your death is inevitable and ours isn’t.”

    There was a stunned silence. Mark stared at the legendary, feeling like a cold bucket of water had been dumped over his head.

    “We feared you would take it like this,” Entei continued viciously. “That’s why we didn’t explain it to you. You mortals don’t know what it really is to fear death, to realize that your time might be limited after thinking otherwise for a thousand years. Of course we tried to save ourselves. Who do you think Molzapart and Chaletwo are trying to save? But they do it by making you fight us in difficult battles and forcing us to injure you, while we are saving ourselves by giving you great power to use as your own, in any manner you choose, at the cost of a few measly trials. By all rights, you should be grateful.”

    “I am,” said Spirit firmly. “I am honoured to be your vessel. The Gyarados is ungrateful for his gift, but...”

    “Wait,” Leah spoke up suddenly. “I don’t get it. You took out my entire team and half of theirs, but now you’re telling me you gave your power to this Ninetales? And what’s this about murdering Suicune?” She looked at Gyarados with an odd expression somewhere midway between disturbed and confused.

    “Power is drained more slowly from the weaker legendaries,” Entei said. “We gave a portion of our powers to the potentials, and afterwards our power loss slowed down accordingly, so by now the difference is slight.”

    “So power isn’t drained from the Chosen at all?” May asked.

    “No. Only legendaries are affected by the Destroyer. We do not know why that is, but it is why we could store our power safely in mortal Pokémon. Our plan was in two parts: we would store power within the bodies of the potentials, and we would then choose one of them each – the Chosen – to carry our souls so that after the War, we could be resurrected by any Pokémon with the ability and then take our power back.”

    Gyarados’s face contorted in anger. “So Suicune isn’t dead.”

    “Only temporarily,” said Entei, his voice calm. “Suicune’s soul is stored in the gems on your neck, and a large portion of his power within the bodies of you and several other Water Pokémon around the world.”

    The sea monster roared madly in rage and twisted his head downwards in an attempt to reach the soul gems with his fangs, but they were too far up on his neck segments. Suddenly Mark felt bizarrely sorry for him.

    “Of course,” Entei went on, turning his gaze towards Mark, “since Chaletwo is with you, I trust he will understand the gravity of the situation and ensure that the gems are not destroyed from here on.”

    “...Of course,” Chaletwo replied after a second’s hesitation. “Gyarados, stop it, or Mark will recall you.”

    Gyarados didn’t stop it. He roared hatefully again and began to slam his head and neck against the ground, and for a moment, Mark wanted to let him. But he reminded himself that as long as the gems were intact, Suicune wasn’t really dead, and Suicune was a legendary and it was good that Suicune was alive after all, even if he had selfishly put Gyarados through unimaginable suffering for years just to save himself from the mortality other creatures had to take for granted...

    He pressed the button on the ball and muttered, “I’m sorry, Gyarados,” as the red Pokéball beam absorbed him.

    “What’s with the spirit form?” May asked Entei after a moment’s pause, her expression neutral. “Why did you give her that power?”

    “She chose it for herself,” Entei replied. “We only give them pure, raw power; it is up to the individual Pokémon how they learn to utilize it, whether they realize it consciously or not.”

    May nodded contemplatively. “What about Raikou? Does Raikou have a Chosen?”

    “Raikou has potentials around the world, but he was captured before he could pick one of them as a Chosen. It is a shame, but it cannot be helped. We must move on without him.”

    Mark was beginning to feel a little sick to his stomach.

    “Well, it’s been nice to talk with you and find out what you’ve been doing behind our backs, Entei, but now we have to capture you and prevent the actual War,” said Chaletwo shortly. “Do you want to do this the easy way or the hard way?”

    “Capture?” Entei snorted. “I think not. You may continue your futile efforts if you choose so, but I am spending the War in that necklace, not in a ball. Goodbye, Chaletwo.”

    And before anyone could respond, Entei crouched down and closed his eyes, and millions of bolts of thready blue lightning shot from him to Spirit, wrapping around her as Entei grimaced in pain. It was over much sooner than when Suicune had done the same to Gyarados; after mere seconds it simply stopped, and Entei’s body collapsed onto the ground with a heavy thud.

    “I can feel it,” whispered Spirit, looking down at the red gems of her necklace. “It’s heavier.”

    Leah carefully threw an Ultra Ball; it bounced off Entei like any inanimate object. “He’s dead, all right,” she said.

    “Do you think there is... any risk to them being like that when the War comes?” May asked anxiously, glancing at Mark.

    “No,” Chaletwo replied. “He was right. The Destroyer can’t drain power from mortal Pokémon, and a soul in a gem can’t do much harm to anyone. It shouldn’t make a difference that they’re there and not in Pokéballs.”

    “Well, then we might as well consider this a capture, I guess,” she said, looking over at Entei’s body. “How do we hide him?”

    Mark looked away, shuddering. The Pokémon were silent and grave; May took out Pokéballs to recall hers, and Mark did the same for Charizard and Jolteon. Leah was spraying her Alakazam with some potions she’d taken from her backpack.

    “Felix can probably levitate the body out of the way,” she said, fairly nonchalantly. “So Chaletwo, were you going to introduce us?” She looked at Mark and May with an all too cheerful smile.

    “Right. Mark and May, that is Leah, the first trainer I recruited to prevent the War. Leah, this is Mark, the latest recruit, and that is May, a friend of his who has also been helping out.”

    “Cool,” said Leah, waving at them. “Hi.”

    “Hi,” May replied, but Mark just vaguely raised his hand; he didn’t quite trust himself to talk right now.

    “How have you been doing so far? How many you got before Entei?”

    “Four with Suicune,” May answered.

    Leah raised her eyebrows. “Four? In your first couple of months?”

    “Well, all of them were in previously known locations,” Chaletwo replied.

    “Oh,” said Leah. “Well, that doesn’t count. The hard part is tracking them down. I didn’t find Latios until I’d been chasing him for three months straight, and then Latias came and destroyed the Spider Web so they both got away in the end. That was frustrating.”

    “That reminds me – have you had any success since we last talked?” Chaletwo asked her.

    She shook her head. “Just been chasing Entei most of that time. Oh, but I met Mary the other day, and she’d gotten Articuno a bit before that. She said she’d be going to Ouen to try to find the Waraider herd.”

    Mark’s heart took a sudden leap. “Wait,” he said. “Did you say Articuno?”

    “Yeah,” said Leah like it was the most natural thing in the world. “He was in Seafoam after all. Said the battle wasn’t so bad, but the caves were a nightmare to get through.”

    “But that means Articuno’s not the Destroyer!” he blurted out.

    “Well, yeah,” Leah said, cocking an eyebrow. “Why would Articuno be the Destroyer?”

    “It was just a theory we had… apparently we were wrong.”

    “But who is the Destroyer then?” Mark asked, wide-eyed. “We don’t even have any leads anymore now. One of us will probably attack him at some point and… we might all attack him at some point!”

    “It could still be an unknown legendary, or even not a legendary at all,” Chaletwo pointed out. “There is little logical reason why any of the other known legendaries should be the Destroyer. Second created by the Creator was a theory, but…”

    “I don’t know about you,” said Leah, looking at Mark, “but for my books, the risk of attacking the Destroyer and getting killed really isn’t so bad compared to the alternative risk of not attacking some legendary that then turns out not to be the Destroyer and kills us all when the War starts. Just stop with the pessimism and hope for the best. What else is there to do on a mission like this?”

    Mark sighed. There seemed to be a bottomless pit in his stomach. Gyarados had been right all along; Suicune had chosen him, used him and made him suffer just to save his own neck. Of course, because what would be more frightening to a naturally immortal being than the sudden knowledge of inevitable death? The legendaries weren’t deities or higher beings to be revered and worshipped. They were just flawed, scared, selfish individuals, desperate to survive their oncoming doom by any means available to them, no matter what the price or who it hurt.

    He wasn’t even sure anymore if they deserved to be saved.

    But he thought of all the innocent people and Pokémon who would also die if the War came to pass, just because they’d be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and forced his resolve back together.

    “You’re right,” he said grimly. “We’ll hope for the best.”

    May rolled her eyes, but didn’t remark on it. “Where are you heading next, Leah?” she asked instead. “Since Entei is gone?”

    Leah shrugged. “I’m the only legendary hunter in Johto at the moment, so I guess I’ll stick around here and comb the region for Mew.”

    It struck Mark properly for the first time that they were actually in Johto. It felt strange to have been so suddenly whisked away to a different region.

    “Well, we’re competing in the Ouen League at the moment to get our Pokémon up to par for the legendary battles we have left,” said May. “So we’d probably better get going back there. Good luck finding Mew.”

    “Good luck with the League and all the rest,” Leah said with a grin. “It was nice to meet you. I’ll handle Entei’s body, so don’t worry about it.”

    Mark nodded as he switched Chaletwo to an active ball. “Thanks. Nice to meet you too.”

    He waved, trying not to look at the great furred shape lying behind Leah as Chaletwo materialized beside them and whisked them back to the League.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2010
  5. Razor Shiftry

    Razor Shiftry Cynthia = Porn Star

    sorry for the short reply, but i'm supposed to be revising and all that jazz...xD

    anyways, last couple of chapters, VERY cool. i very much enjoyed the battle between mark and may, and especially proud of Jolteon for holding up so well against Flygon. its a shame Mark doesn't have the sense to use hold items with his pokemon...

    That Floatzel...she always makes me laugh xD brilliant consistent characterization :)

    Fake-out. in essence, a spontaneous push in the plot. no problem with that - with all this league business, its needed :) it did seem a bit rushed but then again, Mark and May were literally thrown into the middle of battle with hardly any warning whatsoever. I wished a bit more of Leah's pokemon and battling style was shown, although she also seem very competent seeing as her Alakazam managed to hold off Entei's flamethrowers repeatedly. and Spider webs are cool ;) I hope she makes a reappearance. for some reason, to me she seems like the sort of lass who's a bit quirky and irritating in her style of battle, maybe Dunsprace or a Togekiss? bit of parahax? =D

    i liked the lil Cameos of the other legends as well as well as the Johto Dog's plot with their transfer of soul. development of plot is always gooood. and...

    ZOMG ARTI ISN'T THE DESTROYER?!?! DUN DUN DUNNNNN...

    My monies is on Chaletwo. dunno why. but yeah...

    ...and i just rememebred, its a shame Raikou is already captured, it would have been nice to see Jolteon as the chosen one of that Tiger...or maybe Raichu as well? :)

    anyways, thanks for the update Dragonfree
     
  6. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    Thanks for reading, Razor Shiftry. Glad you enjoyed the Mark/May battle.

    It might have been nice to show a bit more of Leah's Pokémon, yeah, but seeing as she was sending out a distress call, she could only have one Pokémon left, and it had to be a Psychic-type. That said, the fact Entei was being held down by Spider Webs tells you that she also has an Ariados. You might see more of her later; I haven't entirely decided. She is definitely very competent, though.

    Don't forget that the potentials are dark-colored, as a way for the beasts to distinguish them easily from other Pokémon of their species; since neither Jolteon nor Raichu have been noted to be unusually colored (or powerful), they couldn't be potentials, and therefore not Chosen either, even if Raikou hadn't been captured. Besides, it's a strange enough coincidence already that Entei and Suicune's Chosen's trainers ended up traveling together; having Raikou's there too would just be plain unbelievable.
     
  7. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    Aaaand it's here. Twenty pages. I expect chapter 53 to be pretty quick, so stay tuned.


    Chapter 52: The League Finals

    “Charizard, Focus Blast!” ordered Robin Riverstone, pointing decisively towards May’s Tyranitar. The Fire Pokémon roared in response before closing his eyes in concentration; a ripple of energy spread out from his body and struck Tyranitar powerfully. The dinosaur keeled over in pain with a suppressed groan.

    “Come on, Tyranitar! Stone Edge!” May called, clenching her fist.

    The great Rock Pokémon straightened himself with a deep, rumbling roar as the other girl quickly countered with a command to fly up to dodge. No sooner had sharp boulders torn themselves from the earth under where the dragon was circling than it shot straight up into the air, outspeeding the rising rocks before curving neatly out of their way while they lost their momentum and crashed back down on the arena.

    “Another Focus Blast!” yelled Robin.

    “Rock Slide!” May ordered as the Charizard dived, its eyes glinting triumphantly before it closed them and began to concentrate. Tyranitar raised several chunks of rock from the ground, but a ripple of focused energy hit him before he’d had the chance to send them at their target, and he staggered backwards, the levitating rocks trembling in the air.

    “Don’t lose focus!” May shouted. “Finish the attack!”

    Tyranitar gritted his teeth, struggling to stand on his shaking legs, and the boulders twitched ever so slightly in Charizard’s direction, but then the dinosaur simply slumped down on the ground, giving way to unconsciousness. The Rock Slide crashed down on the arena as well, as if to accentuate his fall, while the audience cheered wildly.

    Mark saw the edge of May’s mouth twitch on the status screen before she mouthed something inaudible, took out Tyranitar’s Pokéball and recalled him.

    “And it’s down to a one-on-one!” boomed the voice of the announcer. “Robin Riverstone has managed quite a turnabout here by taking down May’s Tyranitar with her last pick, Charizard! Only minutes ago it seemed like a sure victory for May Wallace, but the gap has closed considerably with this surprising turn of events! Will Robin use this situation to wrench the ticket to the finals from May’s grasp?”

    It was probably a good thing the in-battle commentary was only audible to the spectators; Mark imagined it would probably have irritated May to hear it described like that. Which, he supposed, was probably the reason they made it that way; he figured it would inevitably be distracting to have a loud voice talking about you in the background while you’re trying to think.

    May had picked out her next, final Pokéball, but Mark already knew what was in it; he’d been there when she’d picked out her team. “Floatzel, go!” she shouted as she hurled it into the arena. “Aqua Jet!”

    Everyone around Mark cheered wildly as the sea otter materialized. “Would you look at that!” said the commentator. “It seems like May’s last Pokémon happened to be a Water-type! This is going to be tough for Robin’s Charizard.”

    She would hate that description, Mark thought with vague amusement as Floatzel shot up in a splash of water to tackle Charizard in the air. It hadn’t happened to be a Water-type; she’d specifically noticed that Robin seemingly always used her Charizard and that it was her team’s greatest Water weakness, in addition to having a battling style that involved a lot of quick manoeuvres and dodging, and therefore reserved Floatzel for the job of taking it down. The happenstance was that the switches had aligned favourably along with a bit of luck so that Robin had been forced to send out Charizard last against a fairly healthy Tyranitar – which, granted, had made May smirk with the confidence of victory a bit too soon, but this was merely falling back on the original plan.

    “Charizard, Solarbeam!”

    While Mark was thinking, Charizard had flicked its tail indignantly at the already falling Floatzel, but it had only barely brushed against her, and now the dragon Pokémon opened its mouth and began to form an orb of light between its teeth.

    “Floatzel, get in the pool and shield with Ice Punch!”

    This was a special technique they’d practiced the day before. The otter landed in the pool, already gathering power from her Nevermeltice, and then swished her paw above her in swift circles so that a rounded sheet of ice formed between her and the Charizard. As the dragon fired the Solarbeam, it quickly melted the ice and formed clouds of steam above the pool, but not quickly enough to eat through the entire shield before the gathered solar energy was spent. As soon as the beam faded, Floatzel leapt out of the steaming pool with a gleeful chuckle.

    “Ooh, a clever spin on an ordinary move!” said the commentator. “But what else do you expect here in the semifinals of the Ouen League?”

    “Sunny Day!” called Robin, frowning.

    “Taunt!”

    As the Charizard was preparing to clear the skies, Floatzel screeched some very creative insults at her opponent. The dragon stopped abruptly, something flashing in its eyes as it ignored its orders and instead lunged straight towards Floatzel with a roar.

    “Nice save there from May,” the announcer said. “Sunny Day might have turned the tides of this battle, but Taunt prevented it from success! Things are looking steep for Robin after all!”

    “Charizard, stay with me!” Robin shouted urgently. “Air Slash!”

    Her Pokémon stopped mid-dive and swung its wings in a cutting motion, sending a sharp gust of air down at the sea otter; she was knocked down and hissed in annoyance.

    “Waterfall, Floatzel!”

    Quick as lightning, Floatzel whipped herself into the pool before shooting back up out of it, bringing a vertical column of water behind her. She smashed into the Charizard as it was preparing to pull off another Air Slash; water sprayed over the dragon in her wake, making it growl as its tail flame hissed and steamed, but Floatzel was already diving back down into the haven of the pool when it attempted to retaliate.

    “Another Waterfall!” May ordered.

    “Fly to dodge, but be wary!”

    “Aqua Jet!”

    Charizard was quick to begin its ascent, but Floatzel’s Aqua Jet was even quicker; one second she was swimming circles in the pool, and the next she was tackling the Fire Pokémon in mid-air along with a hefty splash. This time Charizard was sure to be ready for her, however; ignoring the spray of deadly water, it smacked her aside with its tail, causing her to land in a heap on the ground instead of the pool.

    “Solarbeam now!” called Robin.

    “Get back in the pool to shield!” May hissed.

    By the time the dazed Floatzel had pulled herself insistently back to her feet with an annoyed mutter, however, Charizard had already charged a beam of solar energy and fired it straight down at her. She screeched as it knocked her to the ground, vapour rising from her body as she twisted in agony; when it faded, she threw herself straight back into the water as if to relieve the pain.

    “Waterfall!” May ordered without missing a beat.

    “Air Slash, Charizard!”

    Yet again, Floatzel sprang out of the pool, if not quite as quickly as before, and brought with her a stream of water. Her hesitation allowed Charizard time to pull off its attack, however, and it sent a burst of concentrated wind down at her, but it only slowed her down a little before she struck. The Charizard roared in pain as it was doused with water yet again, its ability to withstand the super-effective attacks clearly waning as it tired; it completely failed to counterattack this time, and Floatzel landed safely in the pool.

    “Another Air Slash!”

    “Aqua Jet followed by Ice Punch from above!”

    The sea otter darted out of the water and smacked into Charizard’s body like a wet rag, using its momentary paralysis to whip herself onto its back, her paw already grasping her Nevermeltice. When she smashed her fist between its shoulderblades, the dragon grunted in pain, but more importantly, it was still soaked with water, and the freezing cold of the Ice Punch handily froze that water into layers of ice.

    Charizard’s eyes widened in surprise as it tried to flap its tired wings, but the freezing around its shoulders made it difficult, and with Floatzel’s weight dragging it down, it just couldn’t keep itself airborne. With a panicked roar, it was sent descending straight down towards the pool, and Floatzel cackled with a victorious glee as they broke the water with a splash.

    Robin Riverstone only looked on for a second as her Charizard was submerged, its tail flame bubbling furiously as it struggled to resurface while Floatzel persisted in dragging it down, before she pulled out a Pokéball. “Charizard, return,” she said calmly as a red beam absorbed her Pokémon to safety, and the audience exploded into cheering before she’d even said the last word.

    “A brutal tactic, but it worked!” said the commentator. “After an exciting match, May Victoria Wallace is the winner and will face Taylor Lancaster in the finals a week from now!”

    Mark only half-heartedly joined into the cheering; it was a bit difficult for him to be thrilled about a Charizard being dragged into a pool, and he’d never been much for shouting and screaming over the outcome of Pokémon battles, anyway. But now at least May would get to face Taylor like she’d always hoped to and could become Champion while she was at it; she’d definitely be happy.

    -------

    She wasn’t. The moment they met again outside the Pokémon Center, she was already ranting.

    “Can you believe Tyranitar?” she began furiously. “Losing to a Charizard? I mean, no offense to the species of Charizard, but he’s a Rock-type! And he got creamed! Didn’t even get a single hit in!”

    Mark was a bit too taken aback to reply, though in his head he could almost hear the speech Alan would be making if he were there. When he said nothing, she went on: “I mean, it was all because Charizard was running a speed-reliant dodging strategy and Tyranitar’s never been very speedy, but he should have gotten a hit in several times while it was busy attacking and not dodging.”

    “Well, Charizard had a Fighting move,” Mark said with an uncertain shrug. “And as you say, it had a strategy Tyranitar wasn’t very well prepared to take on.”

    “Still,” May insisted. “I thought I had the 2-0 in the bag, but now it just looks like your average win-thanks-to-luck-slash-opener-outprediction, which is pretty lame.” She sighed in irritation. “Tyranitar’s been disappointing me a lot lately, you know? It’s annoying.”

    “Aren’t you just expecting too much?” Mark said hesitantly. “I mean, the speed thing was really working against him, and we’ve seen Robin’s Charizard dodging the most amazing stuff from slower Pokémon. Only reason Floatzel did so well is she’s even faster – and you knew that; that’s why you chose her for it after all. Plus, it all worked out anyway – you won the battle, and you get to face Taylor.”

    May took a deep breath, and Mark could see her relaxing a little. “I guess maybe he couldn’t have done any better,” she said after a moment. “No use complaining after the fact, at any rate, not when we have Taylor to worry about. God, I need a nap.” She closed her eyes and rubbed her forehead. “Yeah, nap for me. You do what you like.”

    -------

    Most of the rest of that week went into training, strategizing and general preparations for the finals. Mark was there for most of it, feeling rather more invested in this battle than the previous since it was the finals after all and he really did want to see Taylor go down; he didn’t often have much to offer in the way of suggestions, but his Pokémon sometimes did, and thankfully it had turned out there was more to May’s battle preparations than just her marching back and forth and thinking aloud.

    The fact Taylor had proceeded to the finals of the League had gotten considerable media attention, with a lot of public outcry about the fact someone most unhypnotized people viewed as something between an undeserving brat and a scumbag cheater was now a very serious candidate for Ouen Champion. Taylor himself had been interviewed a couple of times, always answering his questions with a bizarre sort of oblivious nonchalance, though there was a suspicious lack of direct accusations against him whenever he appeared in the media. May, on the other hand, had become the only remaining representative of fairness and justice in the world, with the public rallying around her in the hope she would beat him in the name of true Pokémon training.

    May mostly found the attention irritating, though she did take satisfaction in the fact everybody apparently hated Taylor too. She refused to be interviewed, telling the journalists who approached her that she had better things to do, such as actually training for the battle (unlike a certain someone, said with an irritated glare). Mark figured that was probably a good thing; May’s actual personality wasn’t very conductive to being held up as a paragon of hope and justice.

    On the evening of the day before the battle, before turning her Pokémon in for the pre-battle examination, May ran over the battle plan one last time, pacing in front of her team.

    “They’re stronger than you,” she told the Pokémon bluntly as they listened in grave silence. “We’ll have to accept that; we can’t try to upstage them that way. Don’t think the fact there are six of you and four of them is going to even it out by itself, either, because it won’t. The advantage we do have is that he gets three switches and I get five. That’s two extra favourable matchups I get to make, and I plan to milk that advantage for all it’s got.”

    She turned around at the end of the line, the Pokémon following her with their eyes.

    “So Raichu is going out first.” She looked at the mouse Pokémon and he nodded nervously. “Taylor starts with something which, in all likelihood, takes him down, unless it’s Feraltwo and maybe even then. But Raichu should be able to put a dent in it anyway, maybe even paralyze it. And then I can send out whoever is the best counter for it, and they should win. Taylor sends out a counter, of course, and it wins, and I send out another one, and so on. But ultimately, even after Raichu is probably beaten in the first round, I still have one extra Pokémon as a backup plan.

    “But there’s only one backup Pokémon, one extra counter, and there is no chance we can get another. There is no way any of you is going to beat two of his stupid super-clones in a row. That inherent advantage of two extra switches is all we get. And once he’s whittled that headstart down, we can’t have any more mistakes. We can’t have any more losing with a type advantage.”

    She abruptly stopped in front of Tyranitar and gave him a hard, cold, silent glare. The dinosaur looked wordlessly down at the ground, though his expression remained the neutral it always was.

    Again, Mark could almost hear Alan’s protests, but he remained sitting where he was, saying nothing, if feeling a bit uncomfortable. In the end, Alan just wasn’t there, and much as he would have liked to have been the sort of person who would call her out, he just wasn’t Alan either. It was one instance, in a stressful situation, and surely it would be futile to try to argue it now? If she kept doing it, anyway, Alan would try to do something about it once they rejoined him.

    “We can not lose this battle,” May went on, now pacing again, her voice becoming quietly fierce. “Either I become the champion or that little git does, and some idiot who goes around stealing Pokémon and begging his brother for overpowered clones and hypnotizing everyone who gets in his way should not win the League.” She clenched her fist. “Taylor’s been waltzing around here, reveling in his complete lack of talent and effort, acting like everyone who honestly works to be any good is weak and inferior, but we will show him that we’re not weak. We’ll show him that having a brother and a hypnotizing legendary clone isn’t enough.” She took a deep breath. “And while Taylor really needs to just die in a fire, the best we can do is beat him in a battle. So don’t mess this up, okay?”

    Surprisingly, Tyranitar was the first to nod emphatically, followed by the others voicing their agreement out loud. He didn’t look hesitant to battle the way Lapras had been at all; it made Mark feel a bit better. May watched the chorus of her Pokémon with satisfaction and waited until they were quiet again.

    “So see you tomorrow. Be nice to the drug testers – Floatzel, that means you. I want you all to give it all you’ve got in the battle. Any final comments?”

    They looked at one another and shook their heads.

    “No? Great. Until tomorrow, then.”

    May took out Pokéballs to recall them, and within seconds, the last shape of translucent red had been absorbed into a ball, leaving the two kids to find their way back alone in the darkness.

    -------

    Mark lay awake in bed that night, something nagging at him uncomfortably.

    “Chaletwo?” he muttered as he looked at the ceiling.

    “Mm?”

    “How come you don’t intervene in stuff like that?”

    “Like what? I haven’t really been listening to your thoughts. I’ve got stuff to think about on my own.”

    “Like May being mad at Tyranitar for not having beaten that Charizard like it’s all his fault. I mean, you were there since I was there, right?”

    “Mm. I saw that, but she’s too valuable to our cause to start arguing with every questionable thing she does. It’s no worse than any other sort of jerkish thing to do just because she’s a trainer and he’s a Pokémon.”

    “I guess.” A few moments passed in silence. “Chaletwo?” Mark then asked again.

    “What?”

    “What Entei and Suicune did,” he began hesitantly. “How much do you know about that? How it works?”

    “It’s really pretty straightforward. What did you want to know?”

    Mark shrugged. “Everything, I guess.”

    Chaletwo gave a mental sigh. “Right.” There was a short pause. “So you have a soul. It resides on a separate plane of existence – the spiritual plane, or whatever you want to call it. The same place Spirit uses to shift in and out of the physical world.”

    Mark nodded slowly.

    “Well, while you’re alive, your soul is anchored to your body – your brain, specifically. When your brain stops working, that anchor breaks. The soul usually floats around in the vicinity for a little while afterwards – how long exactly varies – but eventually it disappears off to wherever it is the souls of the dead go. Free-roaming souls, before that happens, can be detected and communicated with fairly easily with even weak psychic powers. When I killed you, I grabbed your soul before it could go anywhere and anchored it to myself, if you will.”

    “Huh.”

    “And, well, it’s pretty simple to anchor a soul to any physical object. You’d need psychic powers to do it to somebody else’s, but a bit of the kind of power any legendary has will do to transfer your own, provided you know how to do it. Normally they wouldn’t know, but I guess they talked to a Psychic legendary – heck, Mew might have told them for all I know. It’s also not hard to create simple objects like gems, and those are pretty convenient for anchoring souls to since they’re pretty durable. So that’s what they did. And when their souls are anchored to the gems, they can’t proceed to where the dead usually end up. They can’t do much of worth either, mind you, but a psychic can detect them with some effort, communicate with them and resurrect them into any decently whole body, and they’ll be alive and well. With their power stored away beforehand, they should be able to recover that, too, since power is always partly tied to the soul itself and they could pretty much pull it back from wherever.”

    Mark took a moment to let this sink in. “So this... ‘anchor’,” he said. “Is it something like your physical link to me?”

    “Not quite. The physical anchor is more... well, physical. It allows me to channel a bit of the power of my body through you – for telepathy and the like – even though my body isn’t technically there. That is also why that anchor allows the Destroyer access to my power. A soul-anchor wouldn’t do that. Hence why Entei and Suicune are safe.”

    Mark considered this. “What if you just had a soul-anchor to me?”

    “Wouldn’t work, even if I could make one without being dead. I wouldn’t actually be able to communicate with you or do anything useful without that physical access to my power. As I said, power is always partly tied to the soul too, but there’s practically nothing you can do with that without a body to channel it through.”

    “Just ‘a body’? I mean, what about my body, if you’re anchored to that?”

    “Well, that would be your body, already anchored to your soul. A second soul has no real business being there; at most it can cling on to some parts of your brain you’re not using at the moment, maybe prod slightly at your subconscious. It can’t really use the body; it might as well be anchored to an inanimate object in that regard.”

    Mark nodded, feeling he more or less understood it. He hesitated before continuing with why he’d started this discussion: “So you and Molzapart never considered... doing it their way? Just saving yourselves with some soul gems and waiting it out?”

    “To be honest we never thought of it,” Chaletwo replied after a moment’s pause. “We knew of the basic idea behind soul gems, but we didn’t view it as a reversible process, so we never considered it as an option.”

    “What if you’d thought of it?”

    “We want to save everyone, not just ourselves.”

    Mark pressed on. “What if you’d thought of it and Pokéballs didn’t exist, or something, so you couldn’t stop it altogether? Would you have done it?”

    “Who wouldn’t?” replied Chaletwo, his telepathic voice turning defensive. “What are you trying to prove?”

    Mark wasn’t exactly sure, but continued anyway with newfound persistence. “What if you could preserve yourselves, in soul gems, or save everyone else, but not both?”

    Chaletwo’s reply was suddenly fierce. “What’s this sudden barrage of moral dilemmas about? Yes, I can sympathize with Entei and Suicune, if that’s what you’re asking, but it’s no use wondering what we would or wouldn’t have done in some hypothetical scenario. Here and now we’re trying to save the world because it is possible and we don’t have to sacrifice ourselves to do it, and that’s what matters.”

    “Entei seemed pretty sceptical of your attempt,” Mark responded, his voice shaking with something that was not quite anger. “What if it doesn’t work? What if we fail to capture all of them and the mad legendaries break your Pokéball and kill you? You have to have thought of that at some point. And sure, you hadn’t thought of soul gems before – but now that you have, now that you know of a safe alternative that could guarantee your survival... don’t tell me you haven’t at least thought about it.”

    “It’s crossed my mind,” Chaletwo said after a pause.

    “So what? Why did you decide to stick around anyway? Or are you just waiting for the right moment to tell us, sorry, you have to go on without me?” Mark found himself having gotten quite worked up by now; a flood of suppressed fears that had been boiling within him since the encounter with Entei was bursting out all at once. “Do you legendaries actually care one bit about the world? Or do you just live out your eternal existence thinking of mortal creatures as something to occupy your minds with while reminding yourselves how glad you are that you aren’t them?”

    “Whether you want to believe it or not, Mark,” Chaletwo responded, clearly trying to be calm, “I do care. And I’m not going to hide in a soul gem while you might need me. Don’t speak of legendaries as if you know all of us just because you’ve talked to Entei. We all feel that fear when we realize we aren’t as immortal as we thought, and I won’t deny that it was a motivating factor for Molzapart and me, but otherwise our views and priorities and our ideas for how to deal with the War are different. We try to prevent it from happening with the help of humans; the Beasts of Johto put their trust in mortal Pokémon to save themselves; Mew seems almost suicidally content with the whole idea.”

    Mark took a deep breath, feeling a bit better now, whether it was because of Chaletwo’s words or just because he’d let it all out. “Wait, what?” he asked after a second. “Mew is what?”

    “Content with it. Flat-out refused to help us prevent it, apparently because we can’t fight fate or something like that. It’s stupid. I couldn’t convince him to even try to save himself.”

    Mark pondered this for a moment. He’d known it before, technically, but never really given any thought to it. “Huh. So Mew is willing to die.”

    “But not to save anyone else,” Chaletwo pointed out. “He doesn’t want the War stopped at all.”

    “Mew didn’t want you to tell anyone about the War, either,” Mark thought aloud. “That’s a bit odd, isn’t it? Doesn’t want to save himself, doesn’t want anyone else saved, doesn’t even want anyone to know what’s coming...” Something horrible was creeping up on him. Mew couldn’t be...

    “There’s no way,” said Chaletwo immediately. “He... he wouldn’t have told us, or the Beasts, if... there’s no way. I think he’s just gotten a bit tired of life by now. He’s two thousand years old, after all, and he’s been kind of down pretty much the last twenty years.”

    “I guess.” Mark pushed the thought forcibly away. “You know what’s funny? I was always under the impression Mew was pretty cheerful when I was little.”

    “He used to be. Well, he was like this for a while after the last War, too; I think it was Chalenor’s death. Then later, as he got over that, he slowly shed that and became his better known happy, playful self, all the way until... well, yeah, until around the time we started asking him about the War twenty years ago.” There was a slightly awkward pause; Mark could feel Chaletwo’s momentary guilt faintly in the back of his mind.

    “Maybe there was some sort of an effort to stop the last War too that failed horribly?” Mark suggested.

    “He never mentioned anything like that to me.”

    Mark shrugged. “Maybe Mew doesn’t tell you everything.”

    Chaletwo didn’t respond, but Mark could tell he’d been thinking the same thing. There had to be something Mew knew that they didn’t. And though he was doing his best to convince himself Chaletwo was right that Mew couldn’t be the Destroyer (how could the Creator and Destroyer be the same, anyway?), he couldn’t shake the unsettling possibility from his mind.

    He waited a moment, wondering if Chaletwo would say anything; he didn’t. Mark sighed and pulled the comforter over his head.

    It was a while before he managed to drift off into a dreamless sleep.

    -------

    His stomach felt fluttery as he ate breakfast with May. Thoughts about Mew and souls and the Destroyer swarmed around his head like flies, and he found himself having little appetite. May was eating just fine, but she was silent and focused and seemed a bit paler than usual.

    They didn’t really speak until May looked at her watch and stood up from the table without warning, preparing to leave. Mark realized with a jolt that it had to be time for her to get her Pokémon and unconsciously sprang to his feet after her; she stopped and turned back towards him.

    “Um… good luck,” he said awkwardly, trying to seem cheery and positive. “Hope you win. Champion, huh? I mean, that’d be cool.” He tried to smile, feeling a bit stupid and not sure if May actually appreciated good lucks at all.

    At first she just looked at him blankly, but then the corners of her mouth turned up into a genuine, if faint, smile. “Thanks, Mark,” she replied. “I appreciate it.”

    And with that she turned back around and hurried out the door, leaving Mark to finish his breakfast alone.
     
  8. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    The audience stands were already nearly full when he got there; Mark was thankful for the numbered seats as he pushed past what seemed like hundreds of people to find his place. May was already waiting on the trainer stand further away from him, but the closer one was empty; Taylor had a tendency to show up kind of late to his own battles, something May had of course noticed and raged about several times.

    She wasn’t raging now, though. She was just standing there, flicking her gaze around the audience, fiddling with her Pokéball necklace, and shifting on her feet every now and then. Mark realized with an unsettling feeling in his stomach that the confidence she had oozed when she’d battled him was completely gone. She wasn’t just being cautious; she really wasn’t sure she could win. And from her, that was so unusual as to be almost frightening. May wasn’t supposed to look nervous.

    The squabbling going on in the audience fell suddenly quiet as the door to the near trainer stand opened and Taylor stepped through it with a self-assured grin. He waved cheerfully to the audience as he closed the door.

    Somebody a couple of rows above Mark yelled “You suck!” Somebody else booed, and other people joined in; within seconds, it seemed half the audience was doing it in unison. Taylor’s grin vanished abruptly to be replaced with a frown, and he turned his gaze over towards May instead, grabbing a Pokéball from his belt. She took a ball from her necklace as well.

    “Hello,” came the announcer’s voice over the PA system. “I’m Robert Witham, your on-site commentator for the Ouen League, and… I will not be commenting on this match.”

    All around the audience stands, people looked up in surprise.

    “This is an act of protest against the League’s outrageous double standards and disregard for its own rules in allowing Taylor Lancaster to get this far. I refuse to participate in this ridiculous charade, even if it costs me my job. That will be all. Thanks.”

    There was a burst of cheering after this announcement. Mark saw May looking around the audience stands in confusion; this had to look very odd to someone who couldn’t hear the commentator. Taylor, on the other hand, ignored it completely, still just standing there turning over the Pokéball in his hand, until finally there came the order for them to ready their Pokéballs.

    “Go!” they shouted simultaneously, throwing the balls they were holding. May’s ball released Raichu, as planned; Taylor’s released a huge, menacing, blue bipedal alligator with a grossly enlarged lower jaw and fangs, a prominent hump on its back, and sharp, blood-red spikes growing along its spine. It was pretty much a Feraligatr but more, and as it faced the mouse Pokémon – Raichu looked truly tiny next to it – it let out a threatening growl that made Mark shudder.

    On the status screen, he saw a victiorious grin flash across May’s features for a second: the opening matchup was as ideal as she could have hoped for. But there was no time to celebrate, and without hesitating, she gave the first command of the battle: “Raichu, Thunder Wave!”

    The mouse Pokémon crouched down, holding his lightning-bolt-shaped tail above his body, and began to charge electricity in his cheeks. The status screen close-up showed his curved ears perked up, his eyes wide and shining: whether it was his monstrous opponent or just the stakes of the battle, he was clearly nervous, and it couldn’t have helped when Taylor ordered, “Earthquake, Feraltwo!”

    “Finish the Thunder Wave!” May called immediately, and Raichu bravely kept his focus as the clone stomped a heavy foot upon the ground. A wave of electricity left him a split second before a powerful ripple passed underneath him; as the Thunder Wave settled into Feraltwo’s muscles, Raichu fell down, discharging a shower of sparks.

    “Charge Beam,” May ordered immediately. Her Pokémon stood up with relative ease, and there were surprised murmurs in the audience; only Mark noticed Raichu spitting out the stem of the Shuca Berry he’d been keeping in his mouth before he began to charge electricity again.

    “Earthquake,” said Taylor, visibly annoyed that Raichu hadn’t gone down in one hit. Feraltwo, however, was having a hard time moving thanks to its paralysis, and as it was growling and struggling to budge its foot, the mouse managed to send a concentrated beam of light shooting into its body. It looked pathetically unaffected, but Raichu’s fur was sparking with added power, and May was quick to order another Charge Beam.

    As the second attack hit, Feraltwo was knocked backwards a little and grunted in pain; the power-up resulting from the charging was clearly working. A second afterwards, however, it regained its mobility, and Taylor smirked as it roared and stomped its foot.

    “Detect!” May called quickly, and with a flash of heightened awareness in his eyes, Raichu nimbly skirted around the Earthquake waves, dodging them all with an effortless ease that made Mark feel a bit bad for Jolteon. He knew Detect had disadvantages of its own and Raichu had learned to dodge Earthquakes the hard way too, but something about it just felt too easy compared to how Jolteon struggled to do it using his natural speed and reflexes.

    “Another Charge Beam!” May called as the last ripples passed the mouse Pokémon. The audience cheered as Raichu landed completely unharmed and began to charge his body with electricity yet again.

    Taylor frowned, clearly realizing he couldn’t just brute-force this. “Feraltwo, use a Haze!” he called just as Raichu released a beam of electricity that made the alligator Pokémon visibly twist in pain. By now, Raichu’s fur was all standing on end, crackling with the static electricity left over after each Charge Beam attack; he had to have gotten at least twice as powerful as he originally was, and if Feraligatr pulled off that Haze, that advantage would be lost.

    May seemingly realized the same, as she quickly ordered, “Get one more in!”

    Raichu charged for a moment while Feraltwo struggled against its paralysis, but just before he fired the beam, the Feraligatr clone regained its mobility and – stomped a foot on the ground. Before Raichu had the chance to recover and Detect, an Earthquake was already speeding towards it. The mouse Pokémon managed to leap over one or two ripples, but wasn’t as agile as Jolteon without the assistance of a move like Detect and was quickly caught in the attack. Sparks flew from his body as he collapsed on the ground and shivered violently.

    Taylor’s status screen image was smirking victoriously, and Mark had a sudden powerful feeling that this was all planned, somehow. Taylor’s clones, what with being all contained in mind-controlling Clone Balls, could hardly have the initiative of their own to decide to use one attack instead of another. Judging from May’s murderous, outraged stare towards her opponent, she agreed.

    Down on the arena, Raichu struggled to stand up, loose sparks still flying from his body. He seemed to have lost the static charge he’d had previously. “Grass Knot,” May ordered quickly.

    “Another Earthquake.”

    “Detect!”

    It didn’t really matter which command “counted”, because Raichu never could stand up; Feraltwo managed to move almost immediately this time, and as more Earthquake waves passed under the fallen Electric Pokémon, he dropped back on his stomach, defeated.

    There were uncertain whispers and sounds of annoyance in the audience. One person somewhere cheered but quickly fell silent again. May, pressing her lips together, took out a Pokéball and recalled Raichu in silence.

    “Floatzel, go!” she called as she threw out her next ball. “Bulk Up!”

    The sea otter materialized on the arena and wasted no time before she crouched down low, strengthening her mucles while growling threateningly at her opponent.

    “Feraltwo, Focus Punch!”

    “Quick Attack!” May countered immediately.

    The Feraligatr clone closed its eyes and curled its clawed hand into a fist that began to glow with white energy. Floatzel spent a moment finishing her power-up and then sprang up, darted towards the other Pokémon and tackled it in mid-air. The alligator grunted, losing its focus; the white glow disappeared from its fist and it opened its eyes.

    Taylor clenched his own fist in annoyance. “Giga Impact!”

    “Dig, Floatzel!”

    Mark saw a grin flash across May’s face as Feraltwo lunged forward, preparing to throw its whole body at Floatzel. The sea otter sprang up, cackling, and then pretty much dived into the ground, a flurry of dirt surfacing in her wake. The clone missed her by several feet and crashed onto the ground next to the hole, only to be hit as Floatzel emerged from the ground underneath it. It groaned as the otter dug her way out by its side, rubbing her fist in discomfort: Feraltwo couldn’t be very pleasant to punch.

    “Earthquake!” Taylor ordered.

    “Bulk Up and then Quick Attack, Floatzel!” May called.

    Floatzel crouched down immediately to strengthen her muscles, but Feraltwo was having difficulty standing up; its mountainous form shook with effort as it tried to push itself back to its feet, but its arms gave way before it had gotten itself upright and it had to try again, clawing desperately at the ground with its legs. Mark supposed the bulk the genetic modification had added to it might not be quite matched by additional strength, and the paralysis couldn’t be helping either.

    The sea otter sprang back up, darted towards the alligator at a great speed and tackled it down. Feraltwo roared in pain, snapping its jaws in her direction, but Floatzel had already retreated to a safe distance away.

    “Quick Attack again!”

    Feraltwo made a second effort to stand up that might have eventually succeeded if Floatzel hadn’t come smashing into it a split second later. The creature was knocked down yet again and stopped moving.

    Taylor waited for a second before he took out the Clone Ball to recall it. He did so in silence, warily watching Floatzel, who cackled victoriously as Feraltwo was absorbed into the Pokéball beam. Mark noted properly for the first time now that the sea otter was completely unhurt, if probably tired; she hadn’t been struck with a single attack while battling the alligator. That was pretty impressive, wasn’t it?

    “Raitwo, go!” Taylor called as he threw out his next pick.

    The fact Mark had just seen May’s Raichu made the clone that formed look all the more disturbingly off. Again, it was considerably bigger, to the point of being noticeably taller than Floatzel, and darker in color. Primarily, however, its ears weren’t Raichu’s almost butterfly-shaped ones; they were a more Pikachulike conical shape, and as it let out a deep, decidedly unmouselike growl, thready blue lightning sparked between the yellow balls set on its eartips.

    “Thunder Wave!” Taylor ordered as his Pokémon assumed a fighting stance.

    “Taunt!” May called quickly.

    Floatzel barked something about brainless man-made clones, a malicious grin on her face, and Raitwo ignored its own command in favour of hissing loudly at her.

    Taylor frowned. “Thunderbolt.”

    His Pokémon was only too eager to obey, electricity crackling in its cheeks and ear-balls before it sent a bolt of lightning towards Floatzel. She made a respectable effort to dart out of the way, but the lightning was too fast for it to be anything but hopeless; she screamed in pain as she was stopped in her tracks and an electrical current coursed through her body before she fell to the ground.

    “Dig!” May blurted out.

    “Another Thunderbolt!” Taylor countered.

    Raitwo began to charge again, but Floatzel managed to stand up and dive into the ground in a spray of dirt, dodging the attack narrowly.

    “Thunderbolt again.”

    Floatzel came out of the ground directly underneath her opponent. This time, she emerged explosively, dirt again flying all around as both Pokémon were thrown into the air. Even while airborne, however, Raitwo managed to discharge the Thunderbolt it had prepared, and Floatzel was shocked in mid-air before she tumbled back to the ground, her body charred and limp.

    May recalled her silently as Raitwo landed on its feet, bruised but not looking very hurt. She placed the Pokéball back on her necklace and didn’t hesitate before she took out the next.

    “Flygon, go!” she called. “Use Earthquake!”

    The antlion Pokémon screeched in challenge as he emerged on the arena, but wasted no time before giving his thin wings a powerful flap that sent Earthquake waves rippling across towards Raitwo. It made no effort to dodge, instead just staying down on all fours and letting off sparks as the attack hit; both it and its trainer looked unnervingly unfazed.

    “Raitwo, Magnet Rise!”

    May glared seethingly at Taylor as his Pokémon closed its eyes and slowly levitated a few inches into the air. Mark knew why: she’d been trying to teach Raichu that move for ages, but he’d had trouble with it without having a good reference or tutor and eventually she’d given up and taught him Detect and Earthquake-dodging instead. Mark could only guess Raitwo had been genetically modified so that it would come naturally to it.

    “Supersonic, Flygon!”

    Flygon’s wings vibrated to produce a sound only the Pokémon could hear. Raitwo winced, teetering a little bit in the air as its concentration faltered, but stayed airborne.

    “Raitwo, Hyper Beam!”

    May shot a disdainful glare across at Taylor. “Flygon, Rock Slide!”

    Despite its confusion, Raitwo successfully fired a huge, bright beam of energy straight at Flygon, hitting him in the chest. He cried out in pain as he was blasted all the way into the wall below May’s trainer stand; she looked down, her grip on the railing tightening. For a moment Mark worried Flygon had fainted already, but then he sprang up with a growl and sent chunks of rock raining down on the recharging Raitwo.

    “Earthquake, quick!” May called. Raitwo was now buried under a pile of rocks with too little energy to pull itself out; as Flygon sent ripples across the ground between them, a shower of sparks emerged from the gaps between the boulders, indicating a successful hit. May gave a satisfied grin on the status screen.

    Taylor grimaced. “Another Hyper Beam, Raitwo.”

    “Roost,” May ordered, and Flygon settled gratefully down on the ground and closed his eyes to be bathed in a healing glow.

    It took several seconds for Raitwo to recover enough energy to pull itself out of the heap of rocks. Once it had, it began to charge an orb of light in front of its mouth, but seemed to get distracted halfway through so it fizzled away into nothing. Clearly the confusion was doing something, at the very least.

    “Try again,” said Taylor impatiently.

    “Flygon, stick with Roost!”

    The Dragon-type nodded, continuing his rest for a few more seconds. This time Raitwo did manage to fire the beam, and it smashed straight into Flygon, sending him crashing into the wall again.

    “Rock Slide!” May called sharply.

    “Another Hyper Beam!”

    It took a few moments for Flygon to pull himself up, and in that time Raitwo had already recovered somewhat, but nonetheless he had the time to send more boulders flying in Raitwo’s direction that buried the oversized mouse Pokémon under again.

    “Earthquake!”

    Flygon was just pulling up when the pile of rocks exploded and a beam of energy came blasting straight at him. He cried in surprise, but did manage to produce a weak Earthquake before it hit him; after he’d smashed into the wall yet again, he didn’t stand up. On the opposite side of the arena, however, Raitwo’s battered body was also lying motionless under the remains of the Rock Slide.

    Mark quickly went over the situation in his head as both trainers recalled their Pokémon to some cheering from the spectators. This meant three of May’s Pokémon had fainted so far and two of Taylor’s – exactly half of each team. So far, they were even.

    “Go!” shouted both May and Taylor in unison as they threw their next Pokéballs.

    Out of May’s ball came Skarmory, who gave a metallic cry as he focused upon the opposing creature. Mark identified Taylor’s pick immediately as a Scizor clone, though it was of course bigger and darker, had wings much bigger and sturdier than those of an ordinary Scizor, and curiously, though its right arm was a fairly Scizorlike pincer, the left one ended in a curved, metallic scythe.

    “Skarmory, Taunt!”

    “Sciztwo, Swords Dance!”

    Unfortunately for May, Sciztwo was unnervingly fast; its idea of a Swords Dance was mere seconds of swinging its mismatched arms, and it had already finished it by the time Skarmory had registered the command and spat an insult at it.

    “Agility!” May called.

    “Superpower,” Taylor ordered lazily, and Sciztwo darted towards Skarmory, swinging its pincered right arm before it smashed it into Skarmory’s body. He screeched in pain as he was thrown downwards; Mark winced as he could see a clear, visible rounded dent where the blow had hit.

    May looked rather shocked and pale at this, but once Skarmory had recovered his flight and was zooming through the air to gain speed, she was quick to give another order. “Skarmory, Swords Dance!”

    “Crabhammer!”

    Incredibly, though the Agility had improved Skarmory’s standing considerably, Sciztwo was still quicker. Again, it zoomed through the air, water solidifying out of the air around its pincer, and smashed it into Skarmory’s body. The steel vulture screeched, but recovered quicker this time and began to spin around in the air to power himself up.

    “Skarmory, Drill Peck!”

    “Another Crabhammer, Sciztwo!”

    Could Scizor even learn Crabhammer? Mark guessed that the ability to use the move had been engineered into it somehow; it just seemed too bizarre to watch it conjuring water out of thin air as it darted towards its opponent. Skarmory dived to meet it, still spinning rapidly, and drilled his metallic beak into Sciztwo’s torso as it bludgeoned his wing with its claw. With his wing bent out of shape, Skarmory went spiralling downwards, taking the Scizor clone with him, and they landed in a heap on the ground.

    “Skarmory, Roost!” May ordered. The steel vulture stood wearily up and hurriedly hopped a short distance away before settling down on the ground and closing his eyes. A blue glow enveloped him, and slowly the dents began to mold themselves back to their original shape.

    “Superpower, Sciztwo!”

    May’s eyes widened for a split second as the insectoid Pokémon stood up, ignoring the wound in its chest, and darted at the vulnerable Skarmory, swinging its pincer. The bird screeched in pain as his body was crushed against the ground, the metal crumpling together like paper. Mark didn’t even notice May pulling out the ball before Skarmory’s form turned a translucent red and was recalled to the safety of his Pokéball.

    There were whispers in the audience. On the status screen, May actually looked truly upset; she spent a moment staring at the ball before she minimized it and reattached it to her necklace, her face pale. A second passed as she looked across at Taylor, her former steely glare conspicuously gone.

    “Blaziken, go!” she called all of a sudden, her expression hardening again as she flung a new Pokéball into the arena. “Sunny Day!”

    “Sciztwo, Crabhammer!”

    With its frightening speed, the clone darted forward even before Blaziken had fully materialized, gathering water around its pincer. It smacked it straight into Blaziken’s head, and he screeched as he was knocked down, but was nonetheless remarkably quick to recover, turned his beak towards the sky and let out a loud crow. Immediately, the sun intensified greatly, and within moments the arena was sweltering hot.

    “Crabhammer again,” said Taylor warily.

    “Heat Wave, Blaziken!”

    Sciztwo zoomed forward again, but it was having a much harder time summoning water from the air now; steam rose around its pincer as it tried, and this made it stop and hesitate long enough for Blaziken to ready his attack. Super-hot air rippled towards Sciztwo, and as it hit, the clone’s metallic armor glowed white-hot; it bent and twisted out of shape, distorting Sciztwo’s form into a something half-melted and nightmarish, and its wing membrane burst into flames, burning up completely. Mark shuddered as the Heat Wave faded and the creature shook its head, quickly summoning more water to cool its mangled body that instantly turned to steam.

    “Blaze Kick!”

    “Sciztwo, use a... an Aerial Ace,” Taylor ordered.

    The Scizor clone was not quite as fast as before, but nonetheless managed to take a leap towards the sky while Blaziken’s feet flared up, and it delivered a precise slash with its scythe as it came down. The chicken let out a cry of pain as blood squirted from his shoulder, but he still kicked Sciztwo away easily. It was thrown flat towards the ground and landed on its back.

    “Blaze Kick again, while it’s down!”

    “Sciztwo, Quick Attack!”

    At breakneck speed, Sciztwo rose again and knocked itself into Blaziken’s body, but by now it only had enough force for him to stagger backwards a little, his legs trembling oddly. He lunged forward again, and a blazing foot immediately thrust Sciztwo down and held it there until it stopped struggling.

    Taylor recalled the charred heap of metal that was his Pokémon, and as soon as it was gone, Blaziken gasped for breath and collapsed onto all fours. He must have been struggling just to keep himself standing there towards the end; Mark winced at the thought. Blood was still dripping from the Pokémon’s shoulder.

    There was dead silence in the audience as everyone looked at May. She looked around for a moment and then took out Blaziken’s Pokéball to recall him without words.

    Taylor had already taken out his next ball and didn’t even wait for May to ready hers before he threw it and called, “Go, Mewtwo²!”

    As the tall, skinny figure of the legendary clone began to form, the corners of May’s mouth turned up into a manic grin; she began to chuckle quietly as the light faded from its form, and she threw her final Pokéball amid crazed-sounding laughter. Mark knew what she was thinking: in all those matches they’d seen him use Mewtwo², it had only ever used Psychic moves, as if Taylor had never bothered to teach it anything else.

    “Tyranitar, go!” she shouted as the rock dinosaur began to take shape on the arena. “Crunch!”

    “Psychic,” Taylor ordered as the light faded from Tyranitar’s body, and May looked incredulously across at him as Mewtwo² obediently held its arm forward and gave a little flick of its wrist. And Tyranitar was thrown straight into the wall under May’s trainer stand.

    She stared down at him for a second as the audience whispered amongst themselves, her face reddening.

    “You can’t do that!” she shouted furiously at Taylor as Tyranitar rose to his feet with a roar. “You can’t do that!

    Taylor just smirked as Tyranitar lunged towards his opponent. “Another Psychic.”

    Another flick of Mewtwo²’s bony, two-fingered hand, and Tyranitar was sent flying to the side. Mark’s seat shook as the dinosaur crashed into the wall below the audience stand.

    “Do something, Tyranitar!” May yelled heatedly. “You can’t let a Psychic slap you around!”

    “Another,” Taylor ordered.

    Tyranitar was pushing himself to his feet and gritted his teeth as Mewtwo² moved its hand again, and incredibly, this time he wasn’t sent flying. He strained against the force that was trying to move him and miraculously managed, very slowly, to stand up, to wild applause from the audience.

    “Not… weak!” he growled as he took a struggling step; it took a moment for Mark to realize in amazement that these were the first intelligible words he had ever heard Tyranitar say.

    “Go Tyranitar! You can do it!” he shouted in excitement with everyone else as the Pokémon grinned triumphantly and turned towards Mewtwo².

    Taylor sighed. “More power,” he ordered, and Mewtwo² swung its whole forearm, easily blasting Tyranitar into the wall on the other side of the arena.

    There was a crushing silence as it dawned on everyone that from the beginning, there had been only one way this battle could go. On the status screen, May clenched both of her fists tightly as she watched Tyranitar struggle to stand. At Taylor’s command, Mewtwo² telekinetically threw him back at the opposite wall. He tried to get up again, and Taylor ordered another Psychic; after being smashed head-on into the other wall one more time, Tyranitar didn’t move.

    May stood there for a moment, fists trembling, as the audience broke into whispering, talking, arguing and then shouting. Finally, she held forward Tyranitar’s ball and silently let it absorb him before turning straight around, exiting the trainer staind and slamming the door behind her.

    “The winner is Taylor Lancaster,” said the very reluctant voice of the announcer as some of the audience booed in protest, and Mark looked quickly around. Taylor was grinning like an idiot as he recalled Mewtwo², one fist triumphantly in the air. Most people were staying in their seats; the awarding ceremony was still left, but Mark didn’t really want to see it and he was kind of worried about May.

    He stood up and squeezed hurriedly past the squabbling crowd to exit the stadium.
     
  9. mattman324

    mattman324 aka Shiny_Feraligatr

    :O HOLY MOTHER OF ASDFASDASDASDARGLEBLARGLE MEWTWOTWO IS BROKEN!

    Now that that's out of the way, I admit, it was a good chapter, but I really want to slug Taylor. He's an annoying jerk, and May should have won that battle (Unless MT2 had Brick break, then she was screwed).
     
  10. Razor Shiftry

    Razor Shiftry Cynthia = Porn Star

    Brilliant Chapter once again. I especially loved the little snippet about Raichu not being able to learn Magnet rise - a nice little flaw and also good that May was smart enough to use other methods of dodging ground attacks.

    In fact, I loved May's strategies in general, like Floatzel's ice shield and the brilliant use of items. And Tyranitar! I could see it in my mind's eye that dinosaur punching it's fists into the earth, resisting the psychic. I find is amazing how in just two words, Tyranitar's mysterious presence is solved - and why he puts up with May, even after she gave him one of her very blunt speeches. I think he really does care for her, and you could almost feel may 's will going into that dark pokemon

    But yes. Mewtwo2 owns him and yes simultaneously fails for being stupidly broken and for naturally having "miracle eye" engrained within him I'm assuming? (Mewtwo does infact learn this move). Someone shoot Taylor for being a smug assh-*gets zapped by the anti-swearing crew*
     
  11. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner Peace to the Mountain

    I'm finding myself inclined to think something along those lines, too. Like... some kind of some kind of passive miracle eye-style effect as its ability or something, maybe. Either that or maybe it had been planned for Mewtwo² to pull a miracle eye the instant it appeared without having to be commanded--maybe Taylor wanted to get a nice, strong reaction out of May by having Mewtwo² psychically hand Tyranitar's *** to it without giving any warning beforehand that such was possible. I dunno; I'm just theorymongering here. X3;

    Setting the topic of the May vs. Taylor match aside briefly to say a bit about events of the chapter before the latest one, however... The source of the distress call was a surprise, and a pleasant one. It's neat to get a look at another part of the picture, as it were; it's like a glimpse into a separate (though related), concurrent story all its own and therefore pretty interesting.

    The outcome of the encounter with Entei was something that I might not have seen coming prior to reading Entei's explanation about the Chosen and all that and the purpose served by Gyarados's gems and Spirit's necklace, but after having read that, what Entei chose to do made a great deal of sense to me--of course he would do that.

    And now back to the subject of the May vs. Taylor battle... That's another thing whose outcome surprises me less in hindsight than it did before I read that battle (largely due to me only remembering after Tyranitar was taken out that oh yeah, possiblity of miracle eye being involved somehow).

    Highlights, me being silly, et cetera:

    Ha, nice. XD

    Do you know what sorts of things happen when I read something when I'm in a silly enough mood? Well, let's put it this way: mental image of Felix telekinetically making dead Entei dance like a puppet. And there's suddenly a top hat on said legendary as this is happening. That's what sorts of things happen. X3

    Much love for that part.

    Agreed. I think I'd want to introduce the announcer's face to the back of my hand a few times if I were trying to compete with that kind of stuff blaring in my ears. X3

    Very nice use of that move. :D

    OH SNAP. X3 I loved that.

    Well, that certainly was cool. :D

    Holy ****, now there's a memorable image. o___o

    I can't even describe my reaction to that, other than that it would probably have been a pretty damned funny reaction to have witnessed. X3
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2010
  12. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    Thanks for the reviews, you three! Glad I successfully made you go "WTF BROKEN" at Mewtwo^2. :p It doesn't explicitly have an ingrained Miracle Eye; it just has very, very extreme psychic powers, to the point where they can even affect Dark-types, but they still do less than they would to non-Dark-types. That's just because this isn't a game where there's a neat little zero multiplier, though; if it were in a game, then yes, it would have an ability like that (basically like Scrappy, except for Psychic on Dark).

    Glad May's strategies went over well, too. I keep trying to make her convincingly good at this and am never sure quite how well I pull it off.

    I hope so! I spent a bit of time mulling over just how to make May react to that, and this seemed like the most fun way of making her snap. x3


    Anyway, chapter fifty-three is here! Enjoy. This is not the real chapter; this is an April Fools' joke. The real chapter is [post=11197150]here[/post]. You might want to read the real chapter first so it's easier to take it seriously, but do what you like.



    Chapter 53: Away

    He caught up with May just as she was exiting the Pokémon Center; apparently she’d finished healing her Pokémon already in the time it took for him to get out. For some reason she was also holding both of their backpacks; she must have retrieved them at the trainer lodge in the meanytime.

    “Let’s just go,” she said without greeting him or looking him in the eye, her voice quiet as she handed him his own bag. “I don’t want to be here when the reporters start looking for me.”

    She was obviously upset; Mark wasn’t quite sure what to say to her and just followed behind her as she walked towards the outside gate, hurriedly flipping his nametag over to show his photo before they went through. The gatekeeper woman squinted at them as they passed; a television inside the guard booth was showing Taylor happily shaking hands with the very reluctant-looking Champion of the Old-Timers’ League.

    “Hey,” the woman called after May, leaning out of the booth, but she quickened her pace without answering and Mark had to sprint to catch up with her.

    “You did great, you know,” Mark tried as May showed no signs of being about to stop; they seemed to be heading towards the mountains where they usually trained.

    “No, I didn’t,” May responded irritably without looking at him. “I screwed up with Skarmory. Roosting was a terrible idea when it was using a Fighting move, but I wasn’t thinking. And Feraligatr can’t even learn Haze. I shouldn’t have believed it until I saw it.”

    Mark didn’t know quite how to respond to that. “Well…”

    “But it’s not like it mattered anyway, because even if I’d done everything perfectly, Mewtwo² would still just have thrown Tyranitar around like a bloody bouncing ball and there’s nothing I could’ve done about it, so either way I never could have won.”

    “I’m sure everybody out there thinks of you as the real Champion,” Mark said. “I mean, Taylor basically cheated. Everybody knows that.”

    “If they think that, they’re wrong!” May said fiercely, turning around. “There is no second place in a knockout tournament. Any one of the trainers he beat could be better than me. The fact I happened to be the last one to battle him is meaningless, you understand? God, learn some basic math.”

    She turned quickly around again and marched on; Mark hurried to keep up with her and quietly decided not to try to start another conversation.

    -------

    May had stopped suddenly in a bit of an open area that Mark had guessed must be a spot she’d used sometime when they were training separately and announced they would camp there. He’d not felt like arguing.

    Now, after they’d set up the tent, they were sitting around their campfire in silence. It was only the afternoon, but the approaching autumn was making the days get colder, and Mark was grateful for the fire. He’d rather be at the warm trainer lodge reading or drawing or watching TV, of course, but he couldn’t just leave May out here alone, and so he stayed, wondering restlessly if it would be horribly insensitive to send out his Pokémon to talk to them. (It probably would be.)

    He looked at her. She was staring fixedly into the flames, curled up with her arms wrapped around her knees to keep warm. Her expression was empty and faraway, devoid of any particular discernible emotions, but she still obviously felt like crap. He wished he could help her, somehow; in the flickering firelight, she looked scared and vulnerable, and Mark felt a strange feeling rising in his chest, a longing to hold her and protect her.

    He inched shyly closer to her, feeling himself blushing; she looked at him in vague surprise, and her eyes suddenly filled with tears.

    Mark was startled; he’d never seen her cry before. “May... are you okay?” he asked carefully, laying a hand on her shoulder.

    She reached out with her hands, grabbing his arms tightly to pull him closer. She looked into his eyes, her sapphire orbs shining like stars in an evening sky, and whispered, “Do you think I’m pretty?”

    “What?” Mark asked, initially confused. “Of course you are.”

    But as he looked at her, something dawned on him, slowly but surely. He noticed her sky-blue locks curling down her forehead; her finely defined eyebrows; her fair skin pale and perfect in the orange light; her full, rosy lips; and most importantly of all, she was May, somebody he’d travelled with for what felt like years now, who’d helped and guided him, been through thick and thin with him, even saved his life. Something stirred in his chest, putting a lump in his throat; he brushed a lock of her hair aside and murmured, “You’re beautiful.”

    “Really?” Wisps of a smile crossed her lips as she closed her eyes, her long, feminine eyelashes drying her tears away as she leaned in closer.

    Their lips met, and instantly, as if by the touch of a Suicune, everything became crystal clear. It felt so indescribably right. He embraced her tightly as the kiss deepened, their tongues meeting nervously for the first time. “I love you,” he breathed as they pulled away for a moment, everything swirling before his eyes. “I’ve always loved you. You don’t need to prove yourself to me by winning a League.”

    She looked at him in surprise, blushing. “S-so you knew...” she whispered shyly.

    “Deep down... I always knew.”

    He planted another kiss on her forehead and held her close, one hand gently stroking her hair. They didn’t know how long they spent sitting there together, basking in one another’s glow; it seemed like a dream, or maybe a more real reality; the journey, the battles, the League all felt hazy and far away. There was only the here, the now, the two of them, together. Alone. Perfect.

    “So you have found one another at last,” stated a soft telepathic voice. Mark opened his eyes slowly and saw the small, pink-furred form of Mew hovering before them.

    “What do you mean?” he questioned.

    “Didn’t you know that the opposite of destruction is love?” Mew smiled slyly. “Your efforts would never have stopped the War of the Legends before, but now, you may have a chance.”

    “Really?” May gasped.

    “Of course. Or hadn’t you realized that that was what went wrong before the last War of the Legends?” Mew shook her head heavily. “I was afraid the same would happen now. But you... you had the potential for something truly beautiful, a love that could destroy the Destroyer... forever.”

    “So that was why you didn’t want to help prevent the War?” asked Chaletwo incredulously.

    “At that time I thought there was no hope,” murmured Mew. “But everything is different now. If you don’t mind, I will come with you and aid you on your quest.”

    “But then... it wasn’t because you hated me!” sobbed Chaletwo before he burst into telepathic tears.

    “Of course not,” Mew said softly. “I have always loved you... my son.”

    At that, a Pokéball at Mark’s belt popped open open and Chaletwo was released in a flood of light. Tears welled up in Mew’s sapphire eyes as she flew up to him, and they hugged tightly, for the first time in a thousand years. Mark watched their reunion with a lump in his throat, squeezing May’s shoulders a little. Finally Chaletwo could have peace.

    “What’s going on here?”

    They all looked up to see Taylor emerging from behind a rock, a smug expression etched on his face. “Haha, a bunch of lovebirds,” he mocked, pointing at the four of them and laughing snidely. “Losers.”

    “You don’t know anything about love!” May declared with calm confidence. “Your heart has shrivelled into a lump of coal, unable to feel love or compassion. I feel sorry for you.”

    “Yes,” agreed Mew. “She’s right. Open your heart to the love around you, and you might find peace at last.” There was a short pause before she added, “And Chaletwo is not my boyfriend.”

    “Yeah, totally,” sneered Taylor and rolled his eyes.

    Mark wanted to protest, but he was cut short by a curious feeling of elation as warmth seemed to spread all through his body. He looked at his hands to find they were bathed in a strange, pink glow; May was looking fearfully at her own, similarly glowing hands.

    Something pure and primal within him simply knew that it was the essence of love itself.

    He squeezed May’s hand tightly, and together, they both looked up at Taylor, heat building up within their bodies. The other boy gasped as a pink glow overtook his body, too; his eyes closed and his body was lifted a few inches off the ground, the glow pulsing like heartbeat. For a moment there was nothing but the steady throb of concentrated love synchronizing between the three of them; then, abruptly, the glow disappeared and Taylor tumbled to the ground, landing on his back.

    “Oof,” he muttered, rubbing his head; then, as in realization, he slowly looked over at Mark and May with an expression of surprise.

    “I... I can feel it,” he whispered. “I can feel... love...”

    Mew smiled in satisfaction as Taylor beamed at them. “How can I thank you? You’ve brought me life and happiness at last. I will never forget it.”

    “It’s okay,” stated May, smiling back at him. “As long as you’re sorry.”

    “Oh, and my poor Pokémon!” Taylor gasped. “I must free them from those horrible balls.”

    With that, Taylor sent out all of his clones and made Feraltwo stomp on all the Clone Balls so that they were destroyed. The clones all cried with happiness, especially Mewtwo².

    “Why don’t I join you?” suggested Taylor. “I can help you take down the legendary Pokémon! It will be great!”

    “Sure!” answered Mark and May in unison, and as the sun set, they were all laughing and telling stories together by the campfire, looking forward to the continuation of their adventures.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2010
  13. Razor Shiftry

    Razor Shiftry Cynthia = Porn Star

    HAHAHAHAHAHAH April Fool? love it! well, actually, i hate it because its so damn cringy but i'm laughing so it must be good! nice one Dragonfree =D
     
  14. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    Yup, April Fools'. I was sort of hoping for more of a response, but oh well. :p I got that over at my site. Glad it entertained you.

    But believe it or not, I actually finished the real chapter 53 several days ago, too, so here it is. It starts off the same as the joke chapter, since the joke only started after "He wished he could help her, somehow", but the way it goes on is... not quite as hilarious. Enjoy.



    Chapter 53: Away

    He caught up with May just as she was exiting the Pokémon Center; apparently she’d finished healing her Pokémon already in the time it took for him to get out. For some reason she was also holding both of their backpacks; she must have retrieved them at the trainer lodge in the meantime.

    “Let’s just go,” she said without greeting him or looking him in the eye, her voice quiet as she handed him his own bag. “I don’t want to be here when the reporters start looking for me.”

    She was obviously upset; Mark wasn’t quite sure what to say to her and just followed behind her as she walked towards the outside gate, hurriedly flipping his nametag over to show his photo before they went through. The gatekeeper woman squinted at them as they passed; a television inside the guard booth was showing Taylor happily shaking hands with the very reluctant-looking Champion of the Old-Timers’ League.

    “Hey,” the woman called after May, leaning out of the booth, but she quickened her pace without answering and Mark had to sprint to catch up with her.

    “You did great, you know,” Mark tried as May showed no signs of being about to stop; they seemed to be heading towards the mountains where they usually trained.

    “No, I didn’t,” May responded irritably without looking at him. “I screwed up with Skarmory. Roosting was a terrible idea when it was using a Fighting move, but I wasn’t thinking. And Feraligatr can’t even learn Haze. I shouldn’t have believed it until I saw it.”

    Mark didn’t know quite how to respond to that. “Well…”

    “But it’s not like it mattered anyway, because even if I’d done everything perfectly, Mewtwo² would still just have thrown Tyranitar around like a bloody bouncing ball and there’s nothing I could’ve done about it, so either way I never could have won.”

    “I’m sure everybody out there thinks of you as the real Champion,” Mark said. “I mean, Taylor basically cheated. Everybody knows that.”

    “If they think that, they’re wrong!” May said fiercely, turning around. “There is no second place in a knockout tournament. Any one of the trainers he beat could be better than me. The fact I happened to be the last one to battle him is meaningless, you understand? God, learn some basic math.”

    She turned quickly around again and marched on; Mark hurried to keep up with her and quietly decided not to try to start another conversation.

    -------

    May had stopped suddenly in a bit of an open area that Mark had guessed must be a spot she’d used sometime when they were training separately and announced they would camp there. He’d not felt like arguing.

    Now, after they’d set up the tent, they were sitting around their campfire in silence. It was only the afternoon, but the approaching autumn was making the days get colder, and Mark was grateful for the fire. He’d rather be at the warm trainer lodge reading or drawing or watching TV, of course, but he couldn’t just leave May out here alone, and so he stayed, wondering restlessly if it would be horribly insensitive to send out his Pokémon to talk to them. (It probably would be.)

    He looked at her. She was staring fixedly into the flames, curled up with her arms wrapped around her knees to keep warm. Her expression was empty and faraway, devoid of any particular discernible emotions, but she still obviously felt like crap. He wished he could help her, somehow; it fleetingly occurred to him to give her a hug or something, but he couldn’t imagine she would appreciate the gesture.

    He wondered idly what she was thinking. Was she ashamed? Hating Taylor? Blaming herself? Blaming everybody but herself?

    That thought sparked something in his mind. “You’re not mad at Tyranitar, are you?” he asked warily.

    She shook her head resentfully. “It’s not his fault Taylor had a bloody Psychic Pokémon that could affect Dark-types.”

    Mark nodded. Okay, so she was hating Taylor.

    “What a cheat,” she went on, picking up a rock and tossing it angrily away. “Overpowered clones are just a nice challenge, but Mewtwo²? Why does he even bother having the other ones?”

    Mark shrugged. There was silence.

    “So... when’s the ferry tomorrow again?” he asked after several minutes.

    “Two o’clock.”

    “Shouldn’t we contact Alan and arrange a meet-up?”

    “Yeah, we should.” May seemed somewhat cheered up by the suggestion and immediately reached over for her backpack; she shuffled around for her Pokégear for a moment before she found it. She pressed some buttons, and there was a loud dial tone; Mark presumed she’d set it to speaker.

    “May?” came Alan’s voice after just a few beeps.

    “Hi.” May actually smiled a little; calling Alan had clearly been a good idea.

    “Hi, Alan.”

    “Mark too? Oh, awesome. I was just going to call you guys, but I seem to have lost May’s number. Where to start? Well, first of all, I was watching your battle on TV earlier – you were great!”

    Her smile faded abruptly; she didn’t reply.

    “May? I mean it – I’m in the Scorpio City Pokémon Center, and there were a bunch of people here watching when it was on. Everyone was rooting for you. You should’ve heard them all crying foul when Mewtwo²’s Psychic worked on Tyranitar, or the applause when he got up and seemed to be resisting it. Nurse Joy even came and turned off the television before the award ceremony, and people cheered. Everybody knows you should’ve won.”

    “Can we please not talk about the battle now, okay?”

    “What?” Alan sounded honestly confused. “Um, okay, I guess? Well, we found Rainteicune and explained it to him, so he’s caught and that’s all fine now. You, um, you got Polaryu all right, I trust?”

    “Yeah,” Mark replied. “But May had to use a Master Ball, so we’ve only got one left now. Also Entei, sort of – it’s a long story.”

    “Huh? Uh, you’ll tell me about that when we meet up, I guess. You were going to take the ferry, right?”

    “It’s at two o’clock,” May said. “Dunno when it’ll be over there exactly – make an educated guess?”

    “It’s arriving in Merville, right?”

    “I was thinking, though,” Mark said, “since we sort of decided to go up to the Eastern Cliffs – the Color Dragons might be there – and through the Ouen Safari, maybe we should get off on the other side of Aquarium City, on Route 308. I think I heard it lets off passengers there too.”

    “Okay by me,” Alan replied. “So I’ll just be waiting for you, then?”

    “That’d be nice,” May said.

    “Great. I’ll see you then, I suppose. I should probably get going.”

    “Bye,” Mark called.

    “Bye,” May said kind of half-heartedly. She looked at the Pokégear for a moment before she turned to put it back in her bag, and then she inexplicably sprung to her feet.

    “Taylor!” she shouted, and for a moment Mark was sure she’d gone mad, but then somebody with very familiar dark red hair stepped into his field of vision from where he’d been obstructed by a rock.

    “Hey,” said Taylor, in a curious but altogether not unfriendly tone, walking towards them. “What are you doing here?”

    “I want a rematch,” May said with cold determination.

    Taylor looked blankly back at her. “But I just beat you.”

    May gritted her teeth. “I know that. I want a rematch. Same as before, except no Mewtwo². Just your other four clones against my team of six. Okay? You’ve healed, right?”

    The other boy gave her a doubtful look. “But you know you don’t get to be Champion even if you...”

    “Yes, I bloody know that!” May snapped. “Are you going to battle me or not?”

    Taylor shrugged. “Uh, sure?” He paused. “But then you send out first. You’re the challenger.”

    May nodded shortly and they each stepped back a bit to form a clear area between them. Mark made himself comfortable where he was, which gave him a decent view; though he wasn’t quite sure why she was bothering, it actually would be interesting to see if she could beat him with Mewtwo² out of the picture.

    “Tyranitar, go!” May called after a moment of thought, and the dinosaur materialized in front of her with a powerful roar.

    Taylor grinned, clearly not in any hurry to get out a Pokéball of his own. “I remember this guy,” he said. “You’ve got to admit, it was pretty funny when Mewtwo²...”

    Tyranitar cut him off with a low, threatening growl as he took a few steps closer.

    “Heh.” Taylor looked up at the towering figure of the Pokémon, taking a nervous step back. “Easy there.”

    Mark wondered idly if Taylor had ever been this close to a large, real Pokémon that wasn’t mind-controlled by a Clone Ball in his life before. Tyranitar took another step towards him, and Taylor shuffled back so fast he tripped over a rock and fell onto his back; May seemed to be enjoying the spectacle immensely.

    “Get him off me!” Taylor yelled in a panic, crawling frantically backwards as Tyranitar continued to advance towards him. “Get him off me!”

    “Fine,” May said, rolling her eyes. “Tyranitar, get back here.”

    But Tyranitar didn’t get back there. He took one more step towards Taylor, who was screaming in terror by now, and another, and then pinned him down with his foot.

    May’s eyes widened, her hand fumbling for the Pokéball she’d already attached back to her necklace.

    There was a sickening crack as Taylor’s ribs gave in to Tyranitar’s weight, instantly silencing his scream. Dark blood trickled out from underneath his body, quickly turning into a puddle of red.

    “Oh, God.” Mark looked away, trying to restart his brain and fight back his nausea. May was staring frozenly at Tyranitar, one hand still clutching her Pokéball necklace. The Pokémon looked over at her, like he was waiting for something.

    “Wh... why would you...” she asked weakly.

    There was a pause. “You said he should die,” Tyranitar said in something that sounded like genuine confusion. “You said to show him we’re...”

    Mark stared at him in limp disbelief. Tyranitar lowered his head ever so slightly, looking at May. “You’re not happy?” he asked, his unpracticed, still-childish speech somehow making it worse.

    “You just murdered...” May covered her mouth and turned away as if she were about to throw up, but she didn’t; she just took a few shaky breaths and didn’t turn back around again. Still watching May carefully, Tyranitar lifted his foot and put it down beside Taylor’s body (Mark made every effort not to look at it but there it was and oh God).

    “I don’t understand,” the Pokémon muttered after a moment. “I thought you’d be happy and then you wouldn’t be mad that I lost.”

    May whirled back around to face him. “I’m not mad that you lost, okay?” she said, her voice unnervingly close to breaking. “It wasn’t your fault. It was just Mewtwo². That’s why I challenged him to a rem...”

    Her voice died abruptly and she quickly turned her back to him again, her shoulders shaking. Tyranitar’s gaze stayed on her. “You said he should die so I...”

    “Well, you can’t just kill people,” she said as she turned around yet again, an almost hysterical anger entering her voice now. “Do you have any idea what you’ve done? What kind of trouble we’re in?”

    Tyranitar hung his head miserably but said nothing.

    “We have to talk to the police,” Mark muttered numbly from where he was sitting.

    “The police? We can’t talk to the police! What are we going to tell them? ‘My Tyranitar decided completely on his own to kill this guy I have every reason to have a grudge against and there was no way I could have stopped him even though I had his Pokéball’?”

    Mark looked away, unable to answer.

    “Or are they going to ask Tyranitar himself, and he’ll tell them I said he should die?” May paced off towards a nearby rock and leaned against it with one hand for a little while as she rubbed her forehead. Tyranitar glanced uncomfortably at Mark.

    May finally turned back towards him. “Look, we have to get the hell away from here before somebody finds us here with the body, okay? Help me pack up the tent. We don’t want any evidence that we were here.”

    On a normal day, it would have unnerved him how quickly she was planning a cover-up, but as it was, he just stood up and got to work, finding some strange comfort in being told what to do. Everything was back in their bags within minutes, and then it was just putting the fire out, throwing the half-burnt sticks off in different directions and covering the ground where it had been with loose gravel.

    May stared over the area for a moment and then nodded. “I think this is the best we can do,” she said quietly. Taylor’s body was still lying there on the blood-soaked ground, jarringly out of place alone in the barren landscape. Neither of them had been able to bring themselves to touch it.

    “Are we going back to the trainer lodge?” Mark asked, the thought of being around other people strangely nauseating.

    May shook her head. “We’ll camp somewhere else.” She spent a moment seemingly lost in thought before she finally looked up at Tyranitar. “You need to go away.”

    He looked back at her, uncomprehending. “Not with you?”

    “No, not with me.” She looked down. “I’m releasing you. Go and find some wild Tyranitar to live with.”

    The Pokémon stared at her. “But I won’t…”

    “It doesn’t matter,” May said, her voice shaking a little but still firm. “You killed someone. I don’t know if they can trace it back to you somehow, but if they can, I can’t still be carrying you around. Wild Pokémon don’t get prosecuted.”

    Tyranitar looked mortified. He stared at May for a moment longer and then let out a bone-chilling wail before he turned around and fled, eventually blending into the rocky landscape and disappearing from sight.

    Mark turned to May and noticed with a jolt that there were tears running down her cheeks as she stared after Tyranitar. As she realized he was looking at her, she quickly wiped her face with her sleeve and then turned around, heading off without a word.

    Something compelled Mark to take one last look at the body before he followed her. The boy’s face was frozen in horror, his frightened stare now fixed forever on the sky above; he didn’t look like a League Champion, or a dangerous opponent, or a cheating scumbag. He just looked like a scared little kid who would never get to walk or talk or laugh or do anything again.

    Mark shivered and ran to catch up with May.

    -------

    She led the way to another reasonably open space where they silently set up camp all over again and made a new fire. They sat around it without saying a word for a long while.

    “Where are we?” Mark asked at last, mostly just to say something.

    “It’s my first training spot,” May answered without looking at him. “Then later I switched to the one where I trained for the finals.”

    Silence. “I thought that was where we were before.”

    May shook her head. “That was Taylor’s.”

    Mark looked uncomprehendingly at her, his brain still largely frozen. “Taylor’s?”

    “I was hoping he’d come there,” she said. “So I could get a rematch.”

    Taylor’s greeting echoed in Mark’s mind: What are you doing here? They’d been there waiting for him, ambushing him in his own training spot. Something about it made him start to laugh; he felt sick for doing it.

    There was more silence for a while.

    “He was such a selfish, incompetent, cheating little git,” May said quietly, her voice unconvinced and empty of vitriol.

    Something broke within Mark. It was a curious feeling: in a flash every nauseating detail of everything that had happened hit him like a freight train, and then he found himself heaving over a puddle of vomit, not remembering properly how it even got there. May was watching him, not saying anything.

    He wiped his mouth and sat back up a bit further away. “You went there to his own training spot,” he said, trembling. “And he came, probably to escape the angry mob that must have been assaulting him outside the stadium... and then...”

    She looked away without answering.

    “And what’s with Tyranitar? He’ll kill people because he thinks it’ll make you happy? To make you not mad at him? What the hell? How did he get to thinking like that?”

    “I don’t know!” May almost shouted, sounding broken and desperate. “I just don’t know, okay?”

    “Well, I know,” Mark went on, his voice rising. “He’s probably really young and just didn’t know any better than to live for pleasing you and take you literally when you cheerfully tell everyone Taylor should die in a fire, and you’ve never given him enough thought to even see it, let alone correct it – but really, for God’s sake, he never said a word in his life until today, and nobody wonders if there’s anything wrong with him?”

    Nobody had wondered. Neither had he. Neither had Alan. He was sure May would immediately seize upon that, but she didn’t. She just sat there, looking away, saying nothing, and that deflated his bubble of anger a little. He took a deep breath, feeling slightly calmer but not really any better.

    “It doesn’t matter anymore,” May said shakily after a moment. “He’s gone.”

    Mark wanted to argue with that, to tell her of course it still mattered because they had made him that way and failed to do anything about it, but he couldn’t admit that to himself, not now. “Somebody is going to find out,” he said, his voice flat. “We’re not going to just walk off and get away with this.”

    May looked up, her gaze steeled. “Why not?”

    “We’re just kids!” He tried to fight back the tears, but they formed anyway. “We’re not criminals. How are we supposed to pull off a perfect cover-up? We’ll get caught. It’s murder. We’ll...”

    We did not do this!” May interrupted him heatedly. “This is not our fault!”

    “What’s your point? You said yourself we can’t tell the police what really happened because it sounds too implausible that we didn’t have anything to do with it. We might as well...”

    “First of all, you had nothing to do with it,” she said, cutting him off, but she didn’t follow it with anything; she stared at the fire, curled up against the cold, and Mark suddenly didn’t want to say anything either.

    Silence lay thick for a few tense moments.

    “Do you want to tell the police?” May asked quietly.

    She was right. Mark had nothing to do with it and there was no reason he ought to fall under suspicion for anything. He had nothing to lose by going to the cops. And wasn’t it May’s fault more than anyone else’s, anyway?

    Wasn’t it the right thing, really?

    “If I may intrude,” said a telepathic voice, making Mark jump; he’d forgotten Chaletwo even existed. “Nobody’s calling the police on anyone here. I realize this is a big deal for humans and I can’t pretend to really understand how you feel right now, but... we need you. We need both of you. You can’t let this get in the way of your mission. I hate to say this, but mortals die. It was an accident. It was nobody’s fault. Deal with it and move on. You have more important things to worry about than the death of a boy you never liked anyway.”

    Mark stared at the fire, a growing pit in his stomach. May was looking at him, her face pale.

    “And if the police seem to be connecting it to you, Molzapart or I should be able to do something about it in an emergency. This is not the end of the world.”

    “Molzapart,” Mark realized, glancing at May. “What if he just performs a mass memory modification? Makes everyone forget about Taylor? Then maybe...”

    “Unfortunately, that was the compromise we made to be able to send him with Alan,” Chaletwo replied with a sigh. “He’ll have gotten too weak for something of that scale by now. But like I said, if suspicion falls on you, we can fix it.”

    Mark took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, feeling a bit better. May, on the other hand, didn’t look like she felt better at all; she was motionless, her empty gaze still fixed on the fire.

    “And before you ask, no, I couldn’t have resurrected him. The body was too damaged.”

    The image of Taylor’s crushed body and wide, staring eyes flashed across Mark’s mind; he shuddered before something struck him that he had been too numb to register while they were there. “Should we have taken his Pokéballs?” he asked. “I mean, because of Mewtwo²?”

    “Pokéballs transmit signals that can be tracked,” May said without looking at him.

    “I doubt they’d release him, anyway,” Chaletwo said. “Odds are Rick will take him back and he’ll be as safe as the other legendary clones in the Cleanwater Gym. Which is to say, not perfectly safe, but it can’t be helped, and at our best estimates the start of the War should be well before the start of the next high season of trainers, so there shouldn’t be a lot of Gym battles going on around that time.”

    Well before the start of the next high season of trainers. Mark had always known there was a deadline, but hearing it stated like that made it all too real.

    He sighed. They really did have more important things to worry about. And paralyzing as it was to think about it, there was nothing more they could do about Taylor. He was dead. Tyranitar was gone and would hopefully be better off in the wild with others of his kind. They would not be suspects.

    “Chaletwo’s right,” he said, not quite sure to whom. “We have to move on. We have no other choice.” He looked at May and clenched his fist unconsciously. “We’ll take that ferry tomorrow, meet up with Alan and go to the Eastern Cliffs like we planned. Everything is going to be fine, and then we can just forget this ever happened.”

    May just continued to stare into the flames, not saying a word.
     
  15. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner Peace to the Mountain

    HER FAIR SKIN PALE AND PERFECT IN THE ORANGE LIGHT. XD

    Also the power of love stuff. The literally visible power of love stuff, no less. XD

    Also also Mew having to clarify that Chaletwo's not her boyfriend. XD

    Anyway, yeah, now for a bit more coherence. (Just a bit, mind you.) You should have heard the laugh it got out of me when May asked Mark if he thought she was pretty. X3 The cheesy phrases sprinkled here and there were great, too, especially with regards to the aforementioned "pale and perfect" quote and the whole "as if by the touch of a Suicune" bit. (On a related note, holy crap, does "the steady throb of concentrated love synchronizing" ever sound nasty. X3)

    Thank you for this lovely serving of corn and cheese on this fine April Fools' Day. :3 It will surely wind up as lard on the thighs of my mind.

    ...XD You posted the real chapter as I was typing and posting this. Ah well, will edit this post with a response to the actual chapter... :3

    All right, finished the second of the fifty-threes... Well. The whole Tyranitar and Taylor incident certainly got an interesting series of reactions out of me. Said series went something like this:

    1.) XD Look at him, freaking out like that and tripping over a rock and everything. That's awesome.

    2.) ASLKASDLKFJASKJG HOLY **** HOLY ****--

    3.) ...April 1st is only over in part of the world. Until it's over everywhere, maybe I shouldn't be too quick to react to anything I read just yet...

    It's nothing personal at all, and it's not a comment on the writing, either; my shenanigans-sense is just a bit on the hypersensitive side when the calendar says what it presently does here, that's all. X3;

    Anyway, if indeed what happened to Taylor there actually, officially happened in the context of this story, then I commend you on how nice and potent the effect of starting the situation out in a comedic light and then having it take such a gruesome and horrific turn was. Tyranitar honestly, innocently believing that he was doing the right thing there only made it all the more disturbing, so kudos for that, too.

    And on the chance that it's not official, however small that chance might be, if this Chapter 53 is in fact another gag chapter, then I applaud you for a nicely executed double-fakeout. X3

    So yeah. Either way, awesome chapter. :D
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2010
  16. mattman324

    mattman324 aka Shiny_Feraligatr

    Yeah, knew it was an April Fools joke. It was a good one, but you could tell... there's a difference between the second half of that chapter and your average writing style. And it's fairly huge.

    As for the real chapter though... I got four words.

    Good. F***ing. Riddance. Taylor.
     
  17. Razor Shiftry

    Razor Shiftry Cynthia = Porn Star

    *bump* Its been a while...
     
  18. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    ...um, you don't just bump the thread because it's "been a while". It's not even been that long for the standards of this fic. If you're wondering how the next chapter is coming along, you should generally PM/VM the author. If you're not going to post an actual review, you can't just walk in and bump.

    If anybody else is wondering, chapter 54 is... not exactly very far along, but it's not going to be that long, either, and I might try to finish it before the fic's eighth birthday (the nineteenth). Maybe.
     
  19. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    Sike Saner: I already talked with you on MSN, but yeah, that was the real chapter. Also, I think your "lard on the thighs of my mind" quote has scarred me for life.

    mattman324: Yeah, it's a pretty big gap, isn't it? Then again, some people have no sense for writing styles. I had a couple of people actually buy it over at my site.

    Thanks for reading, all, and thanks for reviewing, you two.

    Anyway, this is a bit later than I'd hoped, but better late than never. It's a rather short chapter at only six pages, and after all the humongously long ones during the League, it'll probably feel even shorter than it actually is. Still, there's some fun stuff in it that I've been planning for really stupidly long. And though I haven't counted, I suspect this chapter has the highest concentration of italics in this whole fic.



    Chapter 54: Reunion

    They packed up silently the next morning and May led the way in the direction of the ocean. The ferry was anchored a short distance offshore; they flew over to it on Charizard and Skarmory and spent the journey back to mainland Ouen without talking.

    Mark had explained what had happened to their Pokémon the previous night. Floatzel had been completely unable to understand what they were so upset about, and Mark had the feelinging several others felt the same even if they didn’t voice it (Scyther had just looked at Mark, his gaze unfazed and faraway; Letaligon had been shifty and impatient, though May’s silence seemed to unnerve her enough that she didn’t complain; Mutark had spent the whole speech flicking her tail around or pouncing on flowers save for taking an abrupt interest when he got to trying to get words around the murder itself). Others, such as Jolteon, had just looked nervous and miserable. Mark had tried to reassure them that everything would be okay and they wouldn’t have to worry about it, but they’d been no less quiet and uncomfortable. Mark himself was doing his best to believe his own words, but he still couldn’t get rid of the hollow feeling in his chest or that little pang of horror in his stomach he felt when he thought about it.

    He was relieved when the ferry finally pulled in at the Route 308 dock around six in the evening. Only a handful of passengers were getting off, since most of the trainers from the League were heading home and even Green Town, technically closer to here than Merville, was more easily accessible via the long route than through the wild grasslands of Routes 308 and 309. Alan was waiting alone by the pier and waved enthusiastically as soon as he spotted them; they quickly made their way over to him.

    “Welcome back,” Alan said as he hugged them both. “How have you been? We have so much to talk about. Hey, are you hungry? They serve hamburgers at that place across from the Pokémon Center.”

    “Yeah, I’m kinda hungry,” Mark replied, and Alan marched off in the direction of the little road shop he’d pointed to. He seemed a bit on edge; Mark wondered idly what was up with him.

    Alan turned to May as they walked. “You’re being quiet,” he said. “Are you still upset about the finals?”

    “Yeah, I guess,” she replied without looking at him.

    “Well, Taylor cheated,” Alan said. “You can’t think like that forever. You were awesome, no matter what you say. Come on, let’s get burgers.”

    They were the only customers. A bored-looking blonde teenage girl behind the counter was watching cartoons on the television, not having bothered to even turn the volume down. May sat down at the first table they passed and told them she wasn’t really hungry and would just have some of their fries; the boys went to place their orders at the counter.

    “Has she just been like that since the battle?” Alan whispered when the blonde girl had retreated to the kitchen to make their hamburgers.

    Mark’s stomach lurched in momentary panic. Should they tell him? Could they tell him? May had acted like it was all about the battle. Should he too? Could they really go on without ever telling him about it?

    “Pretty much,” he said before he’d really reached a conclusion, surprising himself with how relatively convincing he managed to make it sound.

    Alan sighed and shook his head, then turned to return to their table. Mark followed him, glancing at May; she was staring unseeingly at the television.

    “So,” Alan said when they’d sat down, looking straight at Mark. “Chaletwo. Why the hell didn’t you tell us about Thunderyu, Volcaryu and Polaryu?”

    Mark could feel the legendary’s alarm in the back of his mind. “What do you mean?” Chaletwo replied defensively.

    “You know what he means!” came Molzapart’s telepathic voice, cold and harsh. “Three dragons of Ouen, huh? Funny how nobody else knew about those. Funny how I didn’t know about those, and supposedly I was working with you. I wonder how it would happen that you’d know about three legendaries sealed away somewhere that nobody else knows about.”

    “What?” May asked, looking between Mark and Alan and looking utterly lost.

    “Oh, I’m sorry,” Molzapart said, “I guess he never told you either that he...”

    “I made them,” Chaletwo interrupted. “Yes, I made them. I was young and stupid. Don’t think I don’t regret it.”

    “That explains a lot of things,” May muttered.

    “And when were you planning to tell us that, you idiot?” hissed Molzapart. “All this time, they’ve been cleaning up your mess! They’ve made no actual progress – oh, save Suicune, whom they killed! What is this?”

    “About that,” Chaletwo said. “Suicune – he didn’t die. Not really. He’s using a soul gem. So is Entei. We found him and he explained it to us. They’re both in the gems now.”

    “Soul gems? Oh, what the – don’t change the subject. You made three legendaries. Why didn’t I know? Why didn’t they know?”

    “Does it really change anything?” Chaletwo asked, exasperated. “I told them the dragons existed. They caught them. We don’t have to worry about them anymore. Why does it matter where they came...”

    “It matters,” Alan said loudly, but quickly caught himself and lowered his voice again, “because, Chaletwo, for God’s sake, we’re on a very important mission here and we need there to be trust. How can we work together to save the world if we have to constantly wonder if there’s something you’re not telling us?”

    “I’m not hiding anything else,” Chaletwo said, with a subtle emphasis on the ‘I’ that made Mark all too aware of the irony of the situation. “And Mark knew that I made the dragons. If he’d decided to tell you, there’s nothing I could have done about it, but he didn’t.”

    Mark flinched under Alan’s scandalized gaze. “What? It’s my fault now?”

    “Well, why didn’t you say anything?”

    Mark thought back to that moment; it felt like years ago. “Chaletwo didn’t want me to, and I guess I kind of sympathized,” he said. “Molzapart should have known, maybe, but where the dragons came from isn’t really anything that matters.”

    “I agree with him,” May said suddenly. “It doesn’t change anything. We already caught the dragons. Arguing about it now isn’t helping anyone.”

    Alan threw up his arms in frustration the way he liked to, but Molzapart wasn’t so easily silenced by a majority vote. “Damn right, I should have known,” he said. “Yes, the dragons have been caught, thankfully, but that doesn’t change that keeping it secret was wildly irresponsible and represents both a monumental lapse of judgement and a breach of trust. Why is Chaletwo still leading this expedition again?”

    “Because, Molzapart,” Chaletwo replied irritably, “you still have powers that could be of some real value if you conserve them in a Pokéball, whereas I’m currently at my most useful blabbering instructions in some kid’s head. But if you want to switch, be my guest.”

    There was a stunned silence while the waitress arrived at their table with the hamburgers and gave them an odd look as she laid the food down. Mark could only imagine their conversation sounded horribly weird to anyone outside the range of the legendaries’ telepathic speech.

    Neither Molzapart nor Chaletwo spoke again even after the girl was gone. “Right,” Mark said after a moment that seemed to make it clear they’d dropped the subject. “So, uh, let’s eat?”

    Alan silently picked up his hamburger and took a big bite out of it, and Mark hesitantly picked up his own. May reached listlessly for a fry, but froze when it was halfway to her mouth, staring; Mark turned around to see an image of Taylor on the screen of the still-running television.

    “Controversial League Champion Taylor Lancaster was found dead on Champion Island this afternoon,” the anchorwoman was saying, and Mark’s stomach twisted itself into a knot. “Lancaster was last seen using his genetically-engineered Pokémon ‘Mewtwo²’ to teleport out of an aggressive crowd of protesters after his victory in the finals of the Ouen League yesterday. During the League, he attracted nationwide heat for his use of so-called ‘super-clones’ engineered by his brother Richard Lancaster of the Cleanwater City Pokémon Gym, especially the aforementioned Mewtwo².”

    Mark looked at Alan; he’d stopped chewing mid-bite, now also staring at the TV screen.

    “Though the investigation is still underway, it appears twelve-year-old Lancaster was killed by a large Pokémon, most likely a Tyranitar. Wild Tyranitar are known to live in the area, but police will not rule out the possibility of human involvement at this time.”

    The anchorwoman looked solemnly at the camera for a moment, just long enough to seem appropriately respectful, before she continued with a professional smile: “Also don’t forget the exclusive live interview with Richard Lancaster coming up later, only on O-7! The man who has refused to speak to the press since the beginning of his mysterious and controversial career finally opens up in the wake of his brother’s tragedy! Don’t miss it.”

    Alan swallowed as the anchorwoman started to talk about something else. “Whoa,” he said. “That’s...” He looked unsurely at May, who was pale and wide-eyed, looking like she’d seen a ghost. “I can’t believe it. I mean, nobody wanted him to win the League, but...”

    Nobody spoke for a moment; in the background, the television blared with cheerful commentary on the still-ongoing Sinnoh League.

    “I wonder what’s up with Rick,” Alan went on when the others didn’t say anything. “He never took an interview in his life, and he chooses now of all times to change his mind? And the media just jump on it without question to get their exclusive scoop? That’s kind of sick.”

    But Alan remained glued to the screen; May, too, was staring at it as if mesmerized. Mark had a horrible feeling about this; he wanted to ask the girl at the counter to change the channel or turn off the TV, but how could he do that without explaining why? And anyway, she was watching it intently herself.

    “And now, for what we’ve all been waiting for,” the anchorwoman said at last after a couple more inconsequential reports. “A world-first – O-7 secured an exclusive live interview with the mysterious Cleanwater City Gym leader, Richard Lancaster! Over to you, Heather.”

    They cut to a woman standing outside a nondescript house. “Thank you, Carla. Here we have the man himself, for the first time ever in an interview – uh, let me first say, I’m very sorry for your loss.”

    The camera panned to Rick. He looked terrible and not really fit for television; his hair was uncombed and messy and his expression was disturbingly haunted and restless. He didn’t respond to the reporter, instead looking unnervingly straight at the camera with bloodshot, staring eyes.

    “Uh, Rick?” the reporter asked off-screen after a second.

    There was still no response. Rick blinked, not taking his eyes off the camera lens, and then said quietly, “Whoever did this to my brother...”

    In the middle of the flashes of sickening memories assaulting his mind, Mark couldn’t help somehow feeling sorry for the man. Rick lowered his head and closed his eyes for a moment, swallowing before he looked up again.

    “...I’ll ****ing kill you.”

    Without warning, Rick’s expression turned utterly psychotic. “I’ll find you and strangle you with my own bare hands, you hear me?” he snarled, looking straight into Mark’s eyes; the reporter stepped into the frame, wide-eyed, making a frantic cutting motion in front of her neck with her hand. “I’ll tear your...”

    The image abruptly cut back to Carla the news anchor, now wearing an expression of panicked alarm. She took a second to regain her composure, then cleared her throat. “Unfortunately, the interview with Richard Lancaster has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. We apologize for the unexpected profanity in this report.”

    A knot of irrational fear had lodged itself in Mark’s stomach. He looked quickly at May; she’d turned very pale, but didn’t say or do anything. Her eyes remained fixed on the TV screen.

    “Well, that was... interesting,” Alan said after a moment. “At least that explains why Rick was willing to be interviewed all of a sudden.”

    There was silence. Alan looked between Mark and May.

    “Are you guys all right?” he finally asked.

    “We’re perfectly fine,” May replied suddenly, stuffed the fry she was still holding into her mouth and reached for more off Alan’s plate. Mark forced himself to continue with his hamburger too, and after looking suspiciously at the two of them for a few seconds, Alan also turned his attention to the food. They finished eating silently while Mark debated with himself how much of his burger he could leave behind without making Alan ask more questions; he ended up forcing down about two thirds of it, still feeling sick. Eventually they paid up and exited the building, and Mark was relieved for the fresh air.

    “So,” Alan said, “are your Pokémon all healed up? Because then we could probably just set off north now, without having to stop at the Pokémon Center.”

    “No, let’s go there,” May said without looking at him. “I need to release a Pokémon.”

    “Wait, what?” Alan asked in confusion, but she was already walking towards the other building. He looked at Mark as if hoping for an explanation; Mark avoided meeting his eyes and hurried after May.

    “You mean another one of your Pokémon asked to be released?” Alan called as he followed them inside. May didn’t answer and walked straight up to the PC by the wall. There was nobody else there at the moment; even the nurse wasn’t present at the counter.

    “Tyranitar?” Alan asked in puzzlement as she quickly navigated the menus to deactivate the dinosaur’s Pokéball for good. “Was he unhappy?”

    “No,” May replied without looking at him as she placed the ball on a Pokéball holder on the machine.

    “Why would you release him? You’d better not be blaming him for losing against Mewtwo², because...”

    “I know that wasn’t his fault,” May said, her voice shaking a little. “He had to go. I couldn’t keep him around.”

    Alan looked blankly at her, then at Mark, then back at her, and then all of a sudden his eyes widened. “Wait,” he began. “Wasn’t Taylor was killed by a...”

    He looked desperately at Mark, his eyes begging for some innocent explanation. Mark couldn’t bring himself to lie; with a pang of guilt, he looked away.

    Alan took a horrified step back. “You... oh, God.”

    “It was an accident,” May said, finally turning away from the computer. Her voice was still shaky, but she kept her expression remarkably calm. “I didn’t like him, but I would never, ever actually want somebody dead, okay?”

    “Accident?” Alan repeated, sounding truly worked up. “How does your Pokémon accidentally attack the boy who beat you in you League finals? What is wrong with you?”

    “It wasn’t their fault,” Chaletwo said with a telepathic sigh. “The Tyranitar attacked him on his own accord. She tried to recall him but was too late. Now, as I said to them, you have more important things to think about than this boy. This isn’t a big deal.”

    “People being murdered is a big deal!”

    Alan looked at Mark with his fists clenched, his breath shaky; his expression asked a hundred accusing questions. The look of betrayal in his eyes alone made Mark avert his gaze, unable to face him.

    “Sorry, Alan,” said Molzapart reluctantly after a second, “but I have to agree with Chaletwo. This doesn’t affect your mission. There’s no benefit in dwelling on it.”

    “But what about the police?” Alan protested. “What about Rick? We were just watching him threatening his brother’s murderer on live television!”

    “As I told them, directing the police’s attention elsewhere if they start connecting the dots shouldn’t be too hard,” Chaletwo said. “And how could Rick possibly know what happened or who was involved? He doesn’t even know it wasn’t a wild Tyranitar. He was just angry and wanted there to be a culprit.”

    Alan took a deep breath and shook his head. “You are unbelievable,” he said. “We’re just supposed to carry on like nothing happened?”

    “Preferably.”

    Alan looked at Mark, then at May, his expression wretched and miserable. “I guess we don’t have a choice,” he said finally, turning away. “Come on. Let’s go.”

    As they followed him out of the building and headed north, Mark couldn’t help having the creeping feeling that Alan would never trust them the same way again.
     
  20. Razor Shiftry

    Razor Shiftry Cynthia = Porn Star

    Sorry about the bump Dragonfree :( But I shall get onto reviewing!

    Its been so long that i had to reread the chapter before and this quote stood out for me

    I felt so sorry for it. I suppose May's training methods may make pokemon evolve and get stronger but doesn't aid in their development on mind resulting in Ty's Child-like mannerisms.

    =( I want to go hug it now.

    THAT ^ Creeps me out. Mutark in general creeps me out...

    Mark's voice and brain are not connected?!!? i wonder if chaletwo is taking more control lol

    ahaa Molzapart is such an old woman. love it.

    surve....ACE! match point to Chaletwo! nicely done amigo.

    I like the way you've portrayed the awkwardness and the tension here.

    ...*gulp* Nothing like a drop of insanity?

    awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwkward <3

    DUN DUN DUNNNN oh ignorance is bliss...

    <.< ... >.> ... O.O So why can't wild pokemon be prosecuted again?

    Very ominous ending there. poor Alan =( I want to huggg him. so much sadness...


    I wonder if Tyranitar will be caught? He's still very child-like and since he probably sees May very much like his mother, maybe he'll somehow follow her and then save them some point later? May, Mark and Alan NEED his strength. He's been the pivotal role in many big battles so surely there's room for him to return?

    On a plus note, here's to hoping for more Gyarados and Ninetails show time now the league is over?

    Thanks for the Chapter Dragonfree :)
     

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