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The Quest for the Legends (IALCOTN)

Chapter 6: The Lake of Purity

After a good night’s sleep, Mark woke up early the next morning, ready for his first true adventure as a Pokémon trainer.

He still couldn’t quite believe his dream had finally come true. It had been so sudden. Why the heck had his parents let him go, anyway? He hadn’t had any time to think about it properly before – he had been too busy being happy – but now that the novelty had worn out a little, he was profoundly puzzled. If there was one thing he had learned from living with his parents for nearly twelve years, it was that generally they were not at all easily pushed around once they were firmly convinced of something, and if they had not been firmly convinced he should not go on a Pokémon journey, he had clearly missed something big.

He blinked and sat up. Charmander was lying curled up on the floor beside the bed, with his tail resting on the small black stool that a cleaning woman had given him in order that the tail flame would be carefully held a couple of inches above the blue carpet.

“Wake up, Charmander!” Mark said, grinning. After a second without a response, he prodded the lizard lightly.

“Mmmh?” Charmander mumbled sleepily, opening an eye. “What?”

Mark laughed. “Come on, stop being lazy! We’re going out to train!”

Charmander shook his head with a subtle smile. “Kids,” he sighed jokingly as Mark quickly pulled on his jeans and a T-shirt.

After a quick breakfast at the hotel, the two headed out into the bright sunshine.

“So…” Charmander began, “where are we going now?”

“Lake of Purity!” Mark replied excitedly. “They say Suicune appears there every evening and cleans the water! It’s the purest water in the world! And that Suicune banished the…”

“Yes, I know,” Charmander interrupted. “I live in this region too, you know.”

Mark fell silent. He loved to talk about legendary Pokémon, although he had long since realized that his parents’ vacant expressions and not-so-subtle attempts to change the subject whenever he began meant they weren’t the right victims for his speeches. He was a little disappointed that Charmander wasn’t interested either. But then again, he figured, this legend was kind of common knowledge. Among the inhabitants of Ouen, at least.

They exited the city on the Lake Road which headed in a fairly straight line southwest through a field of tall grass.

“Where are the Pokémon?” Mark asked in frustration after some two minutes’ walk. “There are supposed to be Pokémon all over around the Lake of Purity!”

Charmander shrugged. “Well, we are pretty close to the area of the Effect…”

Mark stared over the beautiful landscape of endless flowery hills stretching all the way towards the mountains in the west, and only one thing sprang with annoyance into his mind: there were supposed to be wild Pokémon in tall grass.

“Come on,” he said. “Let’s get off this road. The Pokémon probably all stay away from it.”

“But if they’re in this area,” Charmander tried to point out as Mark pulled the grass blades aside and began to wade his way through the grass, “then they’ve already made the choice to be where humans can challenge them, so they hardly – oh, forget it,” he finished grumpily and ran after his trainer.

Mark looked through the bits of grass that were tallest and noticed a localized movement, as if there were something moving under the grass. He peered at that spot; the movement came closer to him.

“Look, I found something!” Mark called. “It’s a… a… Rattata,” he finished with visible disappointment in his voice as a purple-colored rat Pokémon with a curled tail jumped out and confronted him in a slightly shorter section of grass and bared its powerful fangs. The tone of his voice did not escape the Pokémon, who growled in annoyance as if to dare him to take that back.

“Oh, for crying out loud…” Mark moaned as he noticed that Charmander was still making his way towards him through the thick grass.

He sighed to himself as Charmander came up to his side while the Rattata waited and glared at both of them. Being passionately interested in legendary Pokémon only made common Pokémon like Rattata seem all the more annoyingly normal and dull. He decided confidently that this was just his first battle and there was no reason to assume he wouldn’t be attracting rare Pokémon by the dozen by the time he got to the Lake.

“Okay, I don’t want to catch it,” Mark said. “Charmander, Ember!”

The lizard looked at him and folded his arms. “Oh, come on! Don’t tell me you don’t even know that Charmander can’t use Ember until…”

But the Rattata had gotten tired of waiting and used the opportunity to let out a piercing shriek and ram Charmander with a full-body tackle. The lizard, taken by surprise, was knocked over and had to quickly pull his tail up to avoid setting the grass on fire.

“That’s your fault,” Charmander insisted with annoyance as he quickly got back up, charged at the Rattata and raked his sharp claws across its white cheek, leaving tiny scratch marks in the rat’s fur.

My fault?” Mark asked incredulously. “How is it my fault you can’t even like just hit it with your tail flame or something?”

Charmander looked blankly at him as if in sudden realization. “Tail… flame?”

He looked at his fiery tail and then at the Rattata that was already charging at him again.

“Actually, that’s not a bad idea,” he said and grinned before spinning powerfully on the spot so that his tail smacked right into the side of the rat Pokémon’s face.

The Rattata was knocked a couple of feet backwards in the grass as it cried out in pain. One of its thick whiskers now scorched, it glared murderously at Charmander with intense red eyes before changing its strategy. Instead of going for another Tackle, the rat instead crouched down, lifted its tail and began to wag it back and forth. Charmander’s eyes followed the tip left, right, left…

“Don’t let it distract you!” Mark blurted out, but it was too late: the Rattata was already charging, and with yet another Tackle attack, it knocked Charmander off his feet again.

The lizard got up and shook his head.

“Okay, use…” – Charmander looked quickly up at him as the Rattata ran towards him again – “Uh…”

He found himself staring stupidly at his Pokémon with every single attack name he had ever remembered having disappeared from his memory without a trace.

Charmander shook his head and managed just barely to leap out of Rattata’s way before finally sending his tail flame flying into its head again, knocking it down into the ground and apparently knocking it unconscious.

“Phew,” Mark just said. “Nice one, Charmander.”

Nice one indeed. Mark couldn’t help thinking he had gotten more in the way during his first ever Pokémon battle than he had helped.

It was all Mrs. Grodski’s fault.

He sighed resentfully, glancing at Charmander, but the lizard was already walking firmly back towards the road. Mark shamefully followed.

When they finally came to the Lake of Purity itself, they found it packed with trainers of all ages, some battling it out near the banks, some searching for wild Pokémon in the grass off to the sides, some standing by the lake with fishing rods attempting to fish for Pokémon. And a girl with striking blue hair tied in two thick, sticking-out ponytails in the back of her head, around his age or perhaps a little older, was standing by a huge tourist information sign.

Mark looked around and figured he might as well start by seeing what that sign was about, so he walked up to it with Charmander on his heels.

When he came closer, he saw that the sign was split into two halves. The left side, the one the girl was standing by, was about Suicune and its connection with the lake, which Mark already knew everything about and therefore felt no need to read. The other side was all the more interesting, because it had a large red headline that read ‘WARNING: THE DANGERS OF LEGENDARY POKÉMON’.

Mark looked at it in puzzlement and, with interest, began to read.

As Mark had previously been vaguely aware, the lake was off-bounds at and after sunset, and this was supposedly because at least eleven trainers were known to have mysteriously vanished without a trace after staying at the lake to see Suicune appear in the evening.

In fact, those were the only people known to have attempted it for decades, because official restrictions had been put in place after the first three had vanished, and the rest had been those people who had dared to break those restrictions.

It was almost certain, the sign went on, that Suicune had killed those people, and that clearly it did not wish to be watched as it performed its daily purification of the Lake. Therefore, travellers were warned to leave the Lake of Purity well before sunset.

To add to the effect, the sign finished with black-and-white portraits of those eleven trainers. Mark shuddered; the first two were two girls that looked like they had just begun their short Pokémon journey.

Interestingly, none of the Suicune-kills-people stuff had appeared in any of the books he had read, no matter how many pages they had dedicated to Suicune. They had stated that it was not possible to watch Suicune’s appearances, but it had always been unclear why. Perhaps this was what he got for reading books primarily intended for children. He couldn’t help it; those were the ones with rich, beautiful full-color illustrations, and he was too fond of pictures to want to read a book that was pure text or something with rough sketches.

It was a shame. He had been planning to perhaps try to bypass the restrictions and see Suicune anyway, but he was not all too keen on having his picture – probably that awful school photo, too – added to that sign.

“Uh…” the girl standing beside him said hesitantly. “Are you from around here or what? Or well, do you know anything about this… legend-thing?” She pointed at her end of the sign. “I was reading this, but I don’t get it. I’m from Johto so I’m not really into all these Ouenian legends and…”

“You don’t know about it?” Mark asked in astonishment, grinning widely at the opportunity to show off his knowledge. “Wow, I have to tell you about it! See, Suicune comes to this lake every evening around sunset and dips a paw into the water – it’s an ability of sorts it has, being able to purify water with a touch – and then runs off again. And they say it originally did this to banish the Gyarados that was terrorizing the Pokémon of the lake, because the Gyarados could no longer hide in the murky water to hunt, and then one day after Suicune started doing the purification thing it just disappeared from the lake, and nobody knows how because there are no rivers in or out of the lake that it could have gone through, and well, it just disappeared one night, and they say it purifies the lake every night to keep the Gyarados away so it will never return, and…”

“Right,” the girl just said, raising her eyebrow slightly before eying Charmander. “Hey, uh, were you just starting out too? Want a battle?”

Mark shut up, a little disappointed that even this girl didn’t seem to appreciate his knowledge, but forcibly wiped the offended expression from his face before it got too visible. “Um, sure. I only have one Pokémon, though.” He gestured towards Charmander.

The girl shrugged. “Well, I’ve got two, but no matter. We’ll make it a one-on-one, okay?”

Mark nodded in agreement. They stepped away from the sign.

Charmander poked Mark’s leg. “Um… are you sure this is a good idea? I was just battling that Rattata, and…”

“Oh, come on,” Mark replied lightly. “This can’t be too difficult.”

Charmander did not look entirely convinced, but took his place in front of Mark anyway. The girl smirked confidently as she reached for the weird necklace she was wearing, and suddenly Mark realized that what he had taken to be pearls of some sort were in fact minimized Pokéballs.

“Skarmory, I choose you!” she shouted as she plucked one of the balls off the necklace, maximized it and threw it forcefully forward.

Mark stared at her calm, focused expression as the ball she had thrown burst open in mid-air and released a white shape that quickly formed into a large vulture-like bird. It gave off a metallic cry as it flapped its wings slowly in the air, bizarrely staying aloft despite the relatively small surface area of its wings.

“Are you going to stand there staring at Skarmory all day?” the girl remarked impatiently.

“Eh…” Mark wasn’t sure how to word this. “Didn’t you say you just started out?”

“I did,” she insisted. “I was in Alumine before here. You know that city has the largest Skarmory nesting grounds in the world just outside of it, right? The reason I came to Ouen in the first place was to catch a young one, actually. It’s my favourite Pokémon.”

Mark blinked. Sexist as it was, the first thing that crossed his mind was that girls were supposed to like cute Pokémon like Pikachu or Skitty, not large, ugly, powerful Steel Pokémon like Skarmory. He quickly shook that out of his head.

“All right, Charmander, you have the type advantage! Now, uh…”

He remembered that Charmander couldn’t use Ember yet.

“…uh? Well, do something?” he said stupidly and Charmander sighed. The girl attempted with little success to suppress a giggle.

“Okay, Skarmory, just take it easy with a Peck. No need to be too hard on it.”

The steel vulture gave another metallic cry to confirm the command and swooped downwards with surprising agility considering its body was made of steel. Charmander quickly pulled his tail back and swung it just when Skarmory’s sharp beak was inches away from him, hitting the steel bird in the side of its head and knocking it slightly sideways so that its beak missed, instead letting it knock Charmander down with the edge of its wing.

Skarmory crawled back to its feet with a caw and clumsily took off into the air again. The girl frowned.

“Unconventional, are we?” she said coldly. “Skarmory, Swift!”

“Ska-a-a!” the bird screeched as it flapped its wings harshly just above Charmander as he was getting up. Hundreds of sharp, glowing, metallic feathers rained down at him; he tried to duck out of the way, but the feathers smoothly turned after him like tiny heat-seeking missiles. The lizard threw himself face-down on the ground, shielding his head with his paws as the razor-sharp feathers sliced into his scaly skin one after another.

“Why don’t we just assume I won?” the girl said impatiently as the last steel feathers dropped into the grass around Charmander. “I can tell Skarmory to use Swift as often as you like. There is no need for him to come any closer than this to the ground, and from the looks of it your Charmander can’t hurt him from down there yet.”

Much to Mark’s surprise, Charmander rose up and gritted his teeth before he could answer. He swung his tail upwards so that hot embers flew from the flame into the air. The steel vulture yelped in pain as some embers scorched a few spots on his wing, but he simply flew a little higher up where Charmander’s Ember couldn’t reach him.

The lizard sighed. “I guess she’s right,” he said grudgingly.

“All right, I forfeit,” Mark said dully, his pride a little hurt. The girl smiled triumphantly and recalled her Pokémon back into its ball.

“Thanks for the battle. I’ve got to run now. See ya.”

And without as much as a glance back at him, she hurried down the Lake Road.

“Wait!” Mark shouted. “What level is that Skarmory of yours, anyway?”

“Seven,” the girl called without turning around before disappearing over a hill.

Mark felt more than ever that he was really, really bad at battling.

“She’s been using TMs,” he muttered, guessing more than knowing that Skarmory would not be likely to have learned Swift naturally by level seven. “Cheap…”

Charmander shrugged and winced as he looked at his back. “Don’t think about her; she’s just some random girl you’re never going to see again. Got a Potion to put on these cuts?”

“Oh… right.” Mark quickly looked at Charmander’s scratched hide, swung his backpack off his shoulder and dug around in it for the right little box. The downside to the easily stackable minimized items was that one couldn’t just feel them and know what it was from the shape.

Finally he found what he was looking for, pressed a button to maximize it into a bottle of healing potion and quickly sprayed some over his Pokémon’s back. He watched in astonishment as the cuts practically closed before his very eyes. The regenerative abilities of Pokémon truly were every bit as amazing as they said.

“Ahh… that’s better,” Charmander sighed in relief. “Now… what next?”

Mark looked around. “I say we get to that side of the lake where there aren’t fifteen tourists standing in every square foot.”

Charmander nodded, and they walked together out of the crowd along the edge of the beautiful lake into the more grassy areas on its east side. The water was downright impossibly clear. Had it not been for the sunlight reflecting off the soft waves, he would have thought the fish Pokémon drifting by were swimming in thin air.

He painfully remembered he wouldn’t even be able to see Suicune perform its nightly purification act, forced his eyes off the water and looked around for Pokémon in the grass.

And then he bumped into a tree.

“Ow,” he groaned, rubbing his face as a brown bird with a crest of red feathers on its head flew up from its nest in the top of the tree, swooping down with an angry chirp to annihilate this disturbance.

“A Pidgeotto!” Mark gasped as he saw it. “Charmander, Ember! I’m catching this thing!”

The lizard spun around, releasing a flurry of embers from his tail flame as the bird approached. Pelleted by hot soot, the Pidgeotto let out a cry of disdain before turning to Charmander, diving and, to Mark’s horror, grabbing Charmander in its talons.

“Hey!” Mark shouted. “Let him go!”

The Pidgeotto flapped its wings a few times, heaving the struggling Charmander off the ground with some difficulty and then flying out over the lake.

“Let go?” it chirped nastily and released a couple of claws off Charmander’s scaly hide. The lizard was frozen in fear at the sight of the fatal water straight below him.

“No!” Mark squeaked, wide-eyed. “Get over here and then let him go! Please?”

The bird Pokémon threw its head in disdain. Mark watched in terror as Charmander seemed to be slipping out of the bird’s grip.

“I’ll leave and never bump into your tree again, I promise!” Mark pleaded. “You know the Agreements, right?”

Finally satisfied, the Pidgeotto flew back over the bank just as the lizard slipped out of its talons, fell down on the ground and took a few harsh tumbles in the grass before coming to a halt.

“Charmander!” Mark shouted, picking his Pokémon up. “Are you all right?”

The lizard shivered. “I think,” he mumbled.

Mark hugged the lizard, almost subconsciously. He could feel the rapid but calming heartbeat of both of them against his chest. It seemed like everything that could possibly go wrong was going wrong. Part of him wanted to just go home and forget about being a trainer. The other part was stubbornly determined that he could manage to enjoy himself at this, no matter how badly things were going now.

“Do you want to continue?” Mark finally muttered. “Or should we just… go home?”

Charmander looked at him. “Go home? Now? And make this crap be officially for nothing? Are you mad?”

He gritted his teeth and forced himself out of Mark’s arms, jumping down to the ground as Mark watched in astonishment. “Come on,” the Pokémon said. “Let’s see if there are any Pok…”

He stopped, and Mark looked quickly in the direction he was looking in.

What appeared to be a ball made of yellow scales lay motionless on the grass a few feet away. It definitely hadn’t been there earlier. It only took Mark a second to realize that it was not just a funny yellow ball – it was a Sandshrew, and he was going to catch it.

“Ember!” he shouted, but Charmander had had the same idea and was already shaking a flurry of small embers at the curled-up Pokémon. The Sandshrew twitched at the feel of the glowing ash’s touch, but remained steadfastly in its tight defensive ball.

For a few seconds, anyway.

Then curiosity got the better of it and it uncurled slightly for a look, which Charmander was quick to exploit, slamming his tail flame mercilessly into the little armadillo Pokémon’s face. It squealed in pain and Mark couldn’t help feeling a little sorry for it.

He forcefully pushed the feeling away, figuring he’d have to get used to it if he was going to be a trainer. He saw the Sandshrew uncurl and prepare to run away, its face still scorched. Mark wondered if Charmander had blinded it, perhaps permanently. He had another twinge of guilt as he watched Charmander leap at the little armadillo with a growl, attempting to scratch at its vulnerable underbelly with his sharp claws.

“That’s enough, Charmander!” he called, plucking a Pokéball from his belt and nervously preparing to throw it as the lizard looked at him and stepped quickly aside. He tossed the ball awkwardly, nonetheless managing by miraculous chance to hit the Pokémon. He watched wide-eyed as the Sandshrew dissolved into a mere shape of translucent, glowing red which was then neatly sucked into the Pokéball as the device closed tightly around it.

Mark watched the white button on the middle of the ball, now glowing with a faint red color as the Pokéball wobbled in the grass. It was amazing how much more intense the wobbling seemed to make the Pokémon capture process. He clenched his fist, muttering some words of hope under his breath.

And the ball burst open at the last moment, allowing the Sandshrew to rematerialize as a glowing shape of white light.

“Stop it from running!” Mark blurted out to Charmander as he plucked another Pokéball from his belt. The lizard quickly moved into the armadillo’s way and smacked his tail into its face again.

Mark threw the second ball, and just as the Sandshrew recoiled in pain, the Pokéball struck it and sucked it inside.

The ball wobbled once, twice, thrice.

“Do it!” Mark hissed at the ball just before it stilled on the ground, the red glow of the button fading as a little ping sound confirmed the successful capture.

He stared at it.

He blinked.

“I caught a Pokémon,” he said stupidly as the fact seeped into his head.

“Duh,” Charmander replied. “Aren’t you going to take it?”

Mark picked up the ball and realized dimly that he had an extremely dumb grin plastered over his face.

“Oh, yeah. Nice work, Charmander,” he added quickly as he motioned to put the ball back on his belt, but then hesitated.

“Go, Sandshrew!” he said, dropping the ball to the ground where it popped open and released the armadillo again. It blinked a few times and glanced fearfully at Charmander before looking up at Mark.

“You… caught me?” it asked, and Mark identified the voice as masculine. He just nodded.

“Oh,” Sandshrew just said. “Okay.”

Mark noticed the scorch marks on his face. “Here, let me see that.”

He knelt down and touched the Pokémon carefully. Sandshrew twitched at the touch of his hand, but allowed him to stroke his scales briefly as he dug into his backpack with his other hand and found a Potion.

“Just stay still,” he said nervously. As he sprayed the soothing healing agent onto Sandshrew’s wounds, he couldn’t help having another stroke of guilt.

“You definitely… you don’t mind being caught, do you? Because I can release you and all, if you…”

“It’s fine,” Sandshrew insisted dully.

Mark looked sceptically at him for a few seconds, but then sighed. “Okay, I hope you don’t mind if I recall you now…”

Sandshrew just shook his head, but then hesitated as Mark took out the Pokéball.

“Are you good?” the Pokémon asked nervously, looking up at his new trainer.

Mark stared at him, thinking of the Pidgeotto, the Rattata and the girl with the Skarmory, and was too honest to give any other answer than a hopeless mutter of, “No, not really.”

The Sandshrew sighed, and Mark was quick to add, “Well, I just started out. I’m sure I’ll get better.”

“Doesn’t matter,” the Pokémon said dully. “Just recall me and send me out if you need me.”

Mark was going to say something, but abandoned the notion midway through opening his mouth to speak. He closed it again, took out Sandshrew’s Pokéball, maximized it with a press of the white button in the middle of it and pointed it at the Pokémon. A beam of red light shot out of the button, hit the little armadillo and dissolved him into an intangible shape of red that was then absorbed into the ball.

“Well, nice,” Charmander finally said. “Let’s go on, shall we?”

Mark had nearly placed Sandshrew’s Pokéball back on his belt when he remembered he still had not registered Sandshrew as caught in his Pokédex. He picked it up with a strange thrill, turned it on and pointed it at the Pokéball. The blue light on the top of it lit up, and silently, data was displayed on the screen – he had turned the voice function off.

SANDSHREW: Mouse Pokémon
This Pokémon is known to be timid and curl up into a ball that is almost invulnerable to physical attacks when assaulted rather than fight. They live in colonies of twenty to thirty individuals, both evolved and unevolved together.

He looked at the stats; Sandshrew was apparently level six and would be expected to be able to use Scratch and Defense Curl. He took a quick look at Charmander, but then remembered that the lizard Pokémon wouldn’t be able to be registered as caught to his Pokédex until after he got a new Pokéball of his own.

“Well,” Mark just said. “Let’s train some, all right?”

Charmander nodded in agreement, and they walked towards the forest.

-------

Mark came to his senses when he realized suddenly that the chatter that they had heard faintly throughout the day from the other end of the lake was no longer there. Charmander was just chasing a Pidgey away. Mark hadn’t felt like catching any more Pokémon that day; Sandshrew’s dull acceptance had been a sort of mood-killer for it.

He looked quickly at the northeastern bank of the lake, where the Lake Road headed back to Cleanwater, and saw that the tourists were all gone. The sky there had turned a dark purplish blue. He turned slowly around and saw in horror that the western sky was glowing with the pinkish red of the sunset.

Sunset.

Suicune.

I shouldn’t be here, Mark realized in panic, the information sign flashing across his head with the uncomfortable addition of his face at the end of the row of trainers killed by Suicune.

He could have run for it right there and then, but something stopped him – perhaps the same something that had made him forget about the time. This was terrifying and exciting at the same time. Since he was there anyway, some voice in his head pointed out, why not just stay and see Suicune after all…?

Charmander looked up at him. “What are you…”

He stopped dead when he noticed what Mark had.

On the opposite bank, a large, four-legged shape dashed out of the forest and stopped at the edge of the lake. The large crystal formation on its head glistened in the fading sunlight; the purple cape extending back from its neck and the white ribbons levitating magically by its sides rippled in rhythmic waves on their own accord.

It was Suicune, and it was the most amazing thing Mark had seen in his life.

“It looks so much cooler in real life than on pictures…” he breathed.

Then Suicune looked up.

He saw two eyes look at him from underneath the crystal head crest, and felt his heart beating wildly in his chest. For a couple of seconds, he was frozen in fear, certain that Suicune would run over the surface of the lake and kill him.

But the legendary Pokémon ignored him, looked down at the lake and carefully dipped its right front paw into the water. It was only a momentary touch, but immediately ripples of purification began to spread over the surface of the lake, impossibly cleaning what was already mind-bogglingly clear.

He only had a fraction of a second to realize this, because just at that moment he got a much better thing to think about. The giant head of a blue, dragon-like sea monster burst out of the water with a terrifying roar on Suicune’s end of the lake just as the legendary Pokémon sprinted back into the forest it had come from.

A Gyarados.

The lake was impossibly clear. Any seeing person could convince himself by just a quick glance at it that there was no Gyarados in it. Which was the reason it had always been clear that if there ever had been a Gyarados in the lake as legends told of, it certainly had somehow disappeared, whether it was Suicune’s doing or not.

And yet he was now looking at one – a Magikarp that had just evolved, somehow? But why would a Magikarp evolve now when there was not a single case of a wild Magikarp in that lake evolving in documented history?

Mark suddenly realized that the Gyarados had noticed him and was quickly swimming towards him.

While foolish adventurousness and legendary-obsession had driven him to stay there while Suicune purified the lake, he was not foolish enough to stay on the bank with a Gyarados rapidly approaching. He found himself screaming at the top of his lungs without even knowing why he was doing it, turning rapidly around and running towards the northeastern end of the lake with the welcoming road to Cleanwater City as fast as he could with Charmander on his heels.

“No! Don’t leave!”

Mark was so startled by hearing those words that he stopped. It would not for a moment have fooled him to hear the Gyarados try to utter something in order to get him to stay there so it could eat him, but what got him was that the words were not a roar of Pokémon speech. It was a roar of perfectly understandable human English.

He turned around, an increasingly convincing voice in his head telling him this was just a crazy dream. “You… you can speak human?” he croaked stupidly.

“I don’t know how,” the Gyarados replied quickly, again in English. It was just by the bank now; he could see its lips move as it talked. “Please don’t leave. I need you to…”

Mark found himself walking slowly back towards the lake in spite of Charmander’s tugs on his trousers and hisses of, “What are you doing? Have you gone insane?”

The Gyarados looked at him but then stared down and shook its head. “Don’t come so close,” it said.

“What?” Mark asked, his legs taking another doubtful step.

The Gyarados looked at him again with frantic despair in its bloodshot red eyes. “Do not come any nearer to me,” it repeated in a low growl, “or I will be tempted to eat you like the others.”

Mark stopped. “Oh,” he squeaked, by now scared out of his wits but somehow unable to get it out of his head that he’d be even worse off trying to run than not. “What others?”

“The ones on that sign,” the Gyarados just said before taking a few quick breaths. “Listen, you have to get me out of here. Anywhere. Away from Suicune. Please.”

“Sui…Suicune?” Mark asked in puzzlement, trying to rip his legs off the ground so that he could run away already.

“Just catch me in a ball and take me away!” the Pokémon hissed. “I’ll serve you for the rest of my life! Please!”

Mark managed to take a struggling step backwards and saw that the Gyarados didn’t attack him.

“Don’t leave me like this,” the Gyarados said with broken despair in its voice. “Please…”

Mark stopped to think; Charmander was still pulling on his pants.

He took a deep breath.

“O… okay,” he finally said and grabbed a Pokéball off his belt. Later he would never know just what it had been that had made him make the decision to believe that the Gyarados was not just trying to con him into something. All he could come up with was that he had simply reasoned that if the Gyarados had wanted to kill him, it wouldn’t have stopped him from coming close enough for it to strike.

In any case, what he did was throw the Pokéball.

The Gyarados didn’t even struggle.


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