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The Quest for the Legends (ILCOE)

Chapter 10: The Mew Hunter

Mark went down the stairs slowly. He felt incredible. Much to his dismay, he met the one person he wasn’t interested in talking to at the stairway as she came walking from the other corridor. She didn’t say anything to him and they just walked down the stairs, ignoring each other very ironically.

They both returned the keys, acting like the other wasn’t there, and both walked out the same road towards Rainbow Woods, the forest that grew between Cleanwater City and Alumine.

Oh darn, Mark thought. Mew isn’t about to come anywhere near when she’s here...

They just walked for a long while as the tall trees surrounded them in all directions.

“Why are you always following me?” yelled Mark finally in frustration.

“Just because we’re walking along the same road at the same time doesn’t mean I’m following you, you know,” said May, glancing at him.

“But why are you walking just here at the exact same time as I am, refusing to even look at me?” Mark argued.

“You have big issues with me, I see,” said May, raising her eyebrow. “Look, I’m not one to start a conversation. I don’t talk to people who don’t want to talk to me, so I usually just answer when I’m asked. Because you didn’t seem very keen on talking to me, I decided not to annoy you by talking. Do you have problems with that?”

Mark blushed. “Eh… did you catch that Larvitar?”

“Yeah, and I noticed you took off with Dratini.”

Darn it! Mark hissed to himself.

“So, you going to take Dratini back or something?” he asked defensively.

“Nah,” said May. “I’ve got Larvitar. I think I am the better one out, anyway.”

Mark angrily took out Dratini’s ball and pointed his Pokédex at it.

“Dratini – dragon Pokémon. This Pokémon sheds its skin to keep control of the massive amounts of life energy it has. So rare it was said to be a myth.”

He checked the stats. “Male, level 15,” he muttered.

“So is Larvitar,” May replied. “Hey, maybe we could, you know, battle them out.”

She got that battle glint in her eyes again.

“Fair enough,” Mark answered after a moment of thought. “Go!”

He sent out the slender, snake-like dragon on the ground. May threw forward the Pokéball containing the green creature from earlier. It gritted its teeth and waved the long horn on its head like a sword.

“Dratini, Wrap!” Mark called out. The little dragon obeyed, slithering forward to wrap its long body around Larvitar and starting to squeeze as hard as he could.

“Bite!” May ordered quickly, and Larvitar locked its small but powerful jaws around Dratini’s body. The dragon released him with a small cry of pain.

“Twister!” Mark shouted. The dragon started glowing turquoise, stood up on the end of its body and started spinning around, faster and faster. Finally, he released a greenish-blue whirlwind that shot at Larvitar.

“Sandstorm!” May hissed. Larvitar raised a paw into the air, its red eyes glowing intensely golden, and a stream of sand materialized out of nowhere behind it and met the whirlwind. Mark clenched his fist; May’s face was expressionless until she, with a triumphant smile, saw that the whirlwind, now also a wheel of sand, started moving back towards Dratini. One thing sat in Mark’s head: Dragons were weak to their own attacks. The whirlwind engulfed Dratini. The small Pokémon screamed as he was bombarded by the wheel of sand along with the dragon power contained in the whirlwind. He was whipped into the air and came down unconscious.

“Return,” Mark grumbled. He looked hatefully at May as he attached the Pokéball to his belt again. She sighed.

“Look, we don’t need to start some rivalry about this. I beat you, but that’s no big deal. I hate it when people hate me. Let’s just be friends, okay?”

She held forward her hand. Mark hesitated, but then shook it.

“Hey, there’s a café at the forest’s edge, just before we get out of it. If you have money for yourself, we can eat there,” May offered.

“Sure,” Mark replied.

They ventured through the forest, now without the tense atmosphere, and Mark felt a lot better to know that she wasn’t plotting to steal Dratini or anything. They came across a few weak wild Pokémon too, but just took turns beating them instead of trying to catch them, subconsciously trying to avoid another Dratini situation. Finally, they reached the café. It was a pleasantly green, very small-looking wooden house with red decorations, dug a little into the ground so it seemed even smaller. A faded, red sign above the door said “Rainbow café”.

“I’ve got to admit, this looks miniscule,” said Mark, staring at the house.

“Come on, I ate here on the way from Alumine to Cleanwater, it isn’t as small as it looks,” said May, dragging him down the small stairs leading to the door.

She was right. Somehow magically, it was much bigger on the inside than outside. Small, red, round tables were positioned very randomly all around the floor, with anything from one to five matching red chairs around them. People sat here and there, most of them deep in either conversation or thought.

The kids sat down at a table near the door and ordered some toast. After eating, they paid and were about to stand up when Mark noticed that his Pokéball belt had no Pokéballs on it anymore.

“Wha… did you take my Pokéballs?” he asked, scanning the floor for any traces of them.

“Of course not,” said May offended. “I’m not a hypocrite.”

“What happened to them?” asked Mark hysterically, looking under the chairs and everything.

“Mark, Pokéballs don’t fall off by themselves,” said May seriously.

“You mean…”

“Somebody stole them, yes. Not me, but somebody.”

Mark looked frantically around. “Who?”

May put up a thoughtful expression. “Maybe that weird guy in the trench coat. He sat down just behind you, didn’t order anything and then after a while hurried out of the door, turning left.”

“That means… to Alumine,” Mark breathed. He grabbed May’s arm.

“What are we waiting for? Let’s go after him!”

He sprinted towards the city. May just sighed and walked, letting him shake her off.

-------

Trench coat, trench coat…

Mark came to the city’s edge, panting, and looked around. Alumine was medium-sized, but rather dirty and not an extremely pleasant place to live; most of the buildings were just blocks of concrete painted in some disgusting color that was thankfully starting to fall off. One building stood out, and was at the end of the main street Mark was entering; it was the famous Alumine Gym, constructed out of Skarmory feathers and shaped like one end of a vertical eye sticking up from the ground, with the doors as the pupil. It reflected the sunlight off a million steel surfaces, all facing in slightly different directions. Mark had heard that the Gym Leader there used the sunlight to help him win battles thanks to the opponent having a hard time seeing around.

A bearded man, most of his bearded face hidden in shadow beneath a brown hat and indeed wearing a trench coat, entered an extremely ugly, sickeningly yellow, large building just to Mark’s right. It took a second for him to realize that this was the man he was looking for. He was about to follow him when he heard May’s voice.

“Hey,” she said. “Wasn’t that him?”

“Yeah,” Mark replied. “You coming with me?”

She stared blankly at him. “What, you’re just going to knock on his door and say ‘Hey, you stole my Pokémon, can I have them back?’”

“Well, yeah, pretty much,” said Mark simply.

“You’re crazy,” May sighed, shaking her head.

“So what?” Mark snapped. “If you’re not coming, fine.”

He walked firmly towards the yellow building and knocked on the door. The trench coat guy answered it, of course not wearing it anymore. He stared at Mark for a second, then shoved him inside and closed the door.

“You!” the man spoke in a hoarse, quiet voice. His eyes were black and extremely open, and a black full beard covered much of his face.

“Here… I’ve been… you didn’t have… must… get…”

On second thought, he also seemed a little bit crazy.

“WHERE?” he suddenly bellowed, grabbing Mark’s arm firmly. Okay, maybe quite a bit crazy.

“Where is what?” asked Mark, puzzled.

“You-know-where!” he hissed.

More like ‘an absolute madman who should’ve been locked in long ago’.

“What?” Mark questioned, even more confused.

“You know very well what I’m talking about! My life! My dedication! Where is ‘you-know-where’?”

Suddenly, it dawned on to Mark what he was talking about.

“You mean… Mew?”

“What else could I mean?” the guy snarled. “Look, I have spent my entire life searching for Mew! I MUST FIND IT!”

“Uh,” said Mark, backing away, “why didn’t you just give up on it long ago?” Afterwards, he always thought of this had been a very stupid question.

The man took a few deep breaths, looking a lot less mad afterwards.

“I’ll tell you the whole story… doesn’t matter… we have plenty of time…

You can call me the Mew Hunter for convenience. I started my Pokémon journey around your age… I lived in Johto then. I got a Totodile as my first Pokémon… chose it for the jaws, mind you… I’ve always been a lot for sharp things… but by then I was already fascinated by the one Pokémon that possessed the genes of them all.”

He didn’t explain what he meant, but he didn’t need to; Mark knew he was referring to Mew.

“I wanted to find it and claim it as mine… but of course, such a thing required a lot of preparation… I got a Sandshrew and a Sneasel, and managed to dig up a Kabuto fossil and get it resurrected… I evolved Totodile, Sandshrew and Kabuto, and with these four Pokémon, I started an unofficial Gym of Pokémon with sharp claws or fangs, just for the profits. We are in the Gym right now.”

Mark looked around; that sounded sensible. The floor was marked as a Pokémon arena and the ceiling was very high. Two large windows with six panes each were on the wall to the left, and seemed to be the only lighting in the arena.

“I also studied Pokéballs. After earning the money to buy a Master Ball, I used my knowledge to make some modifications to it… I made it so that the Pokémon inside it would be unable to escape a certain distance away from the ball itself. I was going to use it on Mew. And once I had made it, I closed the Gym and headed out to search for the ancestor of all Pokémon…

But I had competition. Rick, from the Cleanwater City Gym, was also heading towards the same goal. He had a Pokéball that would capture anything and put it under total control, weakening its mind to obey everything it was told. A disgusting idea… I knew that it must not be done to Mew… I was going to earn Mew’s trust, just like I had done with my other Pokémon… but he was going to use Mew as a slave. I could not let that happen. I was determined to find Mew first.

And one day, I stumbled upon Mew, sleeping in the shadow of a tree. But Rick was there too. We threw our balls at the same time… from my studies, I knew that if a Pokémon was hit with two balls at once, it would be torn apart and killed unless it collected all of itself into one ball… the impact of the two balls would wake it up, and I was confident that Mew would choose me… who would choose total slavery over a temporary limitation of freedom?

But Mew chose Rick… to this very day the thought has haunted me, why did Mew prefer Rick’s control? I have never found out why…”

The man’s voice had slowly reverted to the mad, desperate one throughout the last few sentences.

“I went through a long period of depression, but finally I decided to reopen my Gym, caught two new Pokémon and forgot about Mew. But today, I saw Mew again… I saw it fly out of a window… and you were addressing it, stating that you two supposedly would meet ‘you-know-where’.”

He paused, and then spat out in a totally different voice: “Now, I’d like you to tell me where that place is.”

Mark didn’t like idea of telling this person anything about where to find Mew. He didn’t sound like he was lying when he talked about “earning Mew’s trust” rather than forcing it to do anything, but he could very well be mad enough to have a somewhat twisted definition of earning somebody’s trust.

“No,” he therefore answered. “I’m not telling you.”

“I’m afraid you mistook that for a question!” the man barked. “Speak, or things will get nasty.”

“No,” said Mark firmly.

The man got a very sickening glint in his eyes.

“Really?” he said slowly, glaring at Mark with the kind of a smile Mark had seen on villains in movies. Mark noticed his hand slowly picking a Pokéball from his belt.

“You know, my friend here is amazingly convincing. Want to meet him?”

Mark’s eyes darted towards the door as he thought of making a run for it.

“Well, you’re meeting him whether you like it or not,” the man hissed, hurling the Pokéball powerfully towards Mark. Something big and green came out of it, dove straight at Mark at amazing speed and knocked him down. He felt his head hit the wall hard. A sharp pain seared through his head as his vision blacked out for a second; when it came back, he was met with a not-so-pleasant sight.

The thing that had hit him was a Pokémon commonly associated with horror films, blood and stereotypical evil. It was somewhat like a light green, bipedal mantis with a reptilian head, but most importantly, two long, wickedly sharp blades attached to its arms. As sickening as it was, Mark found one of them positioned a centimeter or so from his throat.

The Scyther held him firmly down so that he couldn’t have moved even if he hadn’t been stiff from the sheer shock of having his life so suddenly put on the edge of a knife. He felt his heart pumping like crazy, every vein throbbing like it was about to burst. To crown it all, his stomach apparently fancied being empty at the moment. Seeing what was about to happen, the Pokémon turned Mark’s head slightly to the left before he threw up.

“Aw, you don’t like his reasoning?” the man asked in a mocking tone. “Well, too bad. Feel like talking now?”

“No,” Mark choked up, sounding a lot braver than he felt.

“I’ll give you two five minutes to be alone,” said the man, checking his watch. “Talk then or…” He ran his finger quickly over his throat, then turned around towards a side door and slammed it shut.

Mark was left in the arena with the bug Pokémon, not sure whether the five minutes were meant for him to think about it or just to discomfort him even more. A few seconds convinced him that it was the latter.

His horrified gaze ran over to the Pokémon. His stomach twitched just from looking at it again. The beast’s eyes were completely colorless; the socket was shaped like a skewed rectangle, and the whites were pearly and veinless, disrupted only by the jet-black slits that were the pupils. It was staring straight at his face, completely expressionlessly.

Mark wondered what would happen if he just told the guy that Mew was at some random place and got released. He could just go and tell the police and get the Mew Hunter arrested. But while the man was clearly mad, he didn’t seem stupid at all. Hadn’t he thought of that? Mark whirred through the last things the man had said, and realized that he had never actually said Mark would be released if he did tell of Mew’s location. He got a horrible sinking feeling. Was this the end, whatever he did?

He started imagining what it was like to be killed. Was there life after death? What kind of a feeling would it be? Would it happen right away? The good thing was that he knew Scyther took very much care in sharpening their scythes so their cuts were virtually painless… from his point of view, it wouldn’t be that bad a death…

Oh, come on, he thought bitterly to himself. You don’t want to get your damn throat cut by a mad Scyther!

The Scyther isn’t mad, said the perfectionist voice in his head. His trainer is.

Yeah, but it’s the same thing, Pokémon do what their trainers say…

Do they?

You mean… negotiating with a Scyther? You crazy?

Maybe, but it can’t hurt, can it? You have nothing to lose.

Oh man. First sign of insanity: staging an imaginary conversation with oneself.

But then again, there was a point in that. He had nothing to lose.

“Eh…” Mark said hesitatingly, immediately regretting it. But the Scyther decided to answer nevertheless.

“You scared?”

Mark didn’t find any longing to answer that question.

“Death is not to be feared, for it is the only thing that we all have in common.”

Seeing the confused look on Mark’s face, the bug added: “It’s an old Scyther saying. It means: why fear death of all things, when it’s the exact one thing we can be positive will happen to us all sooner or later?”

If that was supposed to be comforting, it was failing miserably.

“You hate that guy, right?” Mark asked weakly.

“What would you know?” Scyther replied.

“But… you wouldn’t actually…”

“Why not?” asked Scyther calmly.

“Well… you wouldn’t feel good, would you?” Mark suggested. Scyther smiled faintly.

“Trying to appeal to my conscience, now are you? But tell me one thing, human: is it your honest belief that Scyther have a conscience?”

“Eh, well, yeah, I liked to think so, at least,” Mark said awkwardly.

“Of course we have a conscience,” Scyther said bitterly. “And all the emotions you can feel to go with it. But if you knew that, you should also be able to realize that being a predator leaves you with a choice of permanently blocking out everything called ‘pity for a victim’, or starving to death.”

“Will you get anything out of killing me?” Mark tried another approach.

“No, but I’m not the only Pokémon here. Take Kabutops. His scythes aren’t as sharp as mine, I’ll admit, he doesn’t think too much about the maintenance…”

Mark quickly changed the subject to the first thing he could think of.

“Eh… you wouldn’t want blood on your nice, clean scythes, would you?” he said out of the blue.

Scyther sighed. “Look, this is getting ridiculous now and I have the feeling that you aren’t about to say a single logical thing from now on, so why bother? Besides, I’m not the one who decides what happens here. You were given five minutes as a chance to think over your situation, and you’ve been wasting them talking to me. While I do appreciate a chat, I feel it’s my duty to inform you that you’re not buying yourself a single minute of additional life.”

Mark decided to follow the Pokémon’s advice; funnily enough, he had managed to forget about the scythe threatening him while they talked, but now he was starting to feel uncomfortable again.

Then suddenly, a wonderful thought struck him like lightning. He felt warmth spread around his whole body. He wheeled through it in his head a few times, yes, it appeared to work…

The side door opened and the Mew Hunter came back in.

“So,” he said slowly, walking up to Mark, “are you going to speak out?”

“No,” said Mark, his heart beating like crazy. Despite having found a plan that should work, all of his courage had flown out of the window during the last five minutes and wasn’t about to return.

“You want to die, kid?” the Mew Hunter snarled.

“No,” Mark answered quietly.

“Well, newsflash: there’s no alternative!” growled the Mew Hunter. “Telling me or not?”

“…not.” Mark’s voice was trembling. This was it. Either he was right, or he was wrong and then his life would end right here.

The man went white for a split second. “OK, then,” he said in an odd tone. “It will be quick…”

Mark closed his eyes, but Scyther’s scythe did not move. He smiled; he had been right. The Mew Hunter didn’t want to lose him so easily.

“You were never going to kill me, were you?” Mark asked, feeling oddly secure.

“Well, let me tell you one thing… you are never going out of here, never… until you tell me where Mew is…”

“You stole my Pokémon, right? Can I have them back?” Mark decided that he could think of a way to escape later; it was time for what he originally came for.

The man took out what Mark recognized as his Pokéballs out of his pocket.

“You want them?” he asked. “Win them from me… in a battle.” He smiled slyly.

“Sure,” Mark answered, although he couldn’t figure out why the man would want a battle right now.

“Scyther, come,” said the Mew Hunter. The Pokémon released Mark and stood up as Mark also did so, but Scyther just stood there by Mark’s side.

“Rob,” he said calmly, “I can do a bit of empty threatening for you, but I will not aid you in kidnapping or taking hostages.”

The Mew Hunter went white.

“Get over here! Now!”

“No,” said Scyther, not moving.

“TRAITOR!” Rob bellowed.

“Rob, please,” Scyther said. Was there a hint of sadness in his eyes? “Is Mew really worth wasting your life for?”

The Mew Hunter hesitated, unmistakably looking a bit sad too, but then said: “I’m sorry, Scyther… but Mew is my life. Either you’re with me, or with him.”

“Then I’m with him,” said Scyther, stepping nearer to Mark, “for the Rob I used to know.”

Mark was very confused by this; there was true pain in Scyther’s voice, but who could miss such a man?

“Uh, my Pokémon? So I can battle?” Mark asked hesitatingly.

The Mew Hunter glared nastily at Scyther and then looked back at Mark. “Looks like you have one already. In fact… a match for all the others.”

“What, this is going to be a… five on one?” Mark asked in disbelief. “But…”

“Go, Kabutops!” Rob snarled, sending out a brown, bony Pokémon with a flat, triangular-shaped head, two small eyes and blades on its arms, similar to Scyther’s.

“Kabu?” asked the Pokémon, turning back to its trainer with a confused expression.

“Scyther has betrayed us,” he growled.

“I’m not fighting him, he’s my friend,” Kabutops protested.

“Kabutops, let’s just… get this over with,” said Scyther with a horrible, suicidal kind of expression.

“Skaaa!”

Everybody looked up. A Skarmory had just been sent out of a Pokéball high up near the ceiling. Mark’s heart took a leap as he saw the grid covering the end of the ventilation pipe up there in the corner fall down with a lot of noise, revealing a blue-haired girl’s head. She jumped onto Skarmory’s back and flew down. Mark had never imagined he’d ever be so happy to see her.

“How about no?” she said coldly, recalling the steel vulture. “I’ve got five Pokémon. I take this one,” she removed one Pokéball from her necklace and put it in her pocket, “and now there are four left. With him,” she pointed at Scyther, “this is a fair five-on-five. OK then, go, Butterfree!”

She sent out her giant butterfly. It soared in the air, facing Kabutops. The Mew Hunter seemed in a shock at first, but then just seemed to accept these conditions.

“Kabutops, Slash.”

“Sleep Powder!” May snarled. Butterfree flapped its wings, releasing a cloud of greenish spores as Kabutops leapt upwards, its blades raised. Inhaling the powder, the fossil Pokémon seemed to get drowsy, and as Butterfree flew a bit higher up, Kabutops fell asleep in mid-air and crashed back into the floor.

“Finish it with a Giga drain!” May commanded. The sleeping Kabutops took a deep green glow and small green orbs of energy started ripping lose from its body, the Pokémon twitching violently with each one. The orbs circled Butterfree until all of Kabutops’s glow had faded; then they sank into the butterfly’s body.

“Kabutops, return,” said the Mew Hunter, his voice trembling. “Sneasel, go! Tear its wings to shreds!”

Mark suddenly realized why the Mew Hunter had wanted a battle in the first place – his plan had originally been to injure Mark’s Pokémon enough to make him tell of Mew’s location in exchange for him not hurting them more.

A small, catlike creature with big eyes, a blood red feather-like thing in place of its left ear and two long, sharp claws on each front paw came out of the Pokéball.

“Snee!” it screeched, starting to run across the room. The Sneasel actually ran a short way up the wall before leaping with great agility towards the butterfly Pokémon, stabbing its claws into its wings and dragging it to the ground. As they were about to crash, Sneasel ripped itself loose and managed to jump up on Butterfree’s back. It wasn’t really necessary; Butterfree would’ve been out cold upon crashing either way, its wings in a very bad condition. Butterfree twitched a bit, like a fly that was about to die.

“Return,” said May calmly, ignoring her Pokémon’s state. “Skarmory, go and use a Steel Wing.”

The metallic vulture burst out of the Pokéball and swooped down towards Sneasel’s shape. The agile little cat dodged it and attempted to scratch at Skarmory’s steel feathers, but no avail; it didn’t even leave a scratch.

“Icy Wind!” ordered the Mew Hunter. Some of the muscles in his face twitched.

The Sneasel jumped up, spreading out its arms, and opened its mouth to release a powerful gust of icy wind, hail and snow. Skarmory wasn’t particularly hurt, but clearly slowed down a bit, allowing Sneasel to dart to another place and releasing another blast of cold wind.

“Drill Peck!” May ordered hastily. Skarmory flew up and started spinning, swooping down at the cat. The Sneasel just leapt out of the way with ease, but Skarmory turned and kept gaining speed. Finally, its sharp beak stabbed into Sneasel’s back. The cat let out a horrible screech, but then fell forward, blood gushing out of the wound.

“Come back,” said the Mew Hunter. “Feraligatr, show that bird not to mess with us.”

He sent out a huge, bulky, bipedal blue alligator. It had red spikes on its hunched back and a very powerful-looking yellow lower jaw.

“Fer-al!” it cried, showing all of its long fangs.

“Drill Peck,” May ordered. Skarmory dove down again, spinning.

“Crunch,” said the Mew Hunter evilly. His Feraligatr opened its mouth, and locked its jaws around Skarmory’s body when it came near enough. After a few seconds of war between the steel and the jaws, Skarmory’s body started crumbling together. The vulture screeched, and sensing that this could very easily kill it, May quickly recalled her Pokémon.

“Pikachu, Thunderbolt!” May said determinedly, throwing forward her third Pokéball. A yellow, bipedal rodent with two long, black-tipped ears and red spots on its cheeks came out of the ball. Its cheeks started sparkling with electricity and then it released a bolt of lightning that shot at the blue alligator. It was too slow to dodge, but as most slow Pokémon, it made up for the lack of speed with more endurance. While it did roar in pain and stagger backwards slightly, it didn’t look too weakened afterwards.

“Earthquake,” said the Mew Hunter, clenching his fist. The alligator lifted one foot off the floor and then stomped it powerfully, making the floor ripple in waves like when Sandshrew used the attack. Pikachu attempted to jump up and avoid it, but ended up getting caught anyway. Releasing a flurry of electric sparks, the rodent dropped limply down, unconscious.

“Pikachu, come back,” said May, biting her lip. “Lapras, now my faith is in you!”

She sent out a very big, blue, sea turtle-like Pokémon with a bumpy shell and kind-looking eyes.

“Sing,” May ordered. Lapras started singing a sweet melody, and Feraligatr’s eyes slowly got drowsy.

“Slash!” commanded the Mew Hunter quickly. It was still too late; Feraligatr’s eyelids sank downwards and finally it collapsed, fast asleep.

“Body Slam,” said May calmly. Lapras started paddling forward to finish Feraligatr off, and knowing that leaving it in was pointless, the Mew Hunter took out the Pokéball and recalled the alligator. He then hesitated a bit, first grabbing one Pokéball like out of instinct, but then deciding on another.

“Go, Sandslash.”

Mark wondered why he had made this choice; Sandslash was very weak to Water attacks.

“Surf,” May smirked. Lapras spewed water into the air, which came down on the floor and flooded in a huge wave towards Sandslash, soaking it and leaving it fainted. Easy one.

Rob smiled evilly. “Fangcat, go wild.”

Out of the Pokéball came another Pokémon commonly associated with horror movies; it was a pretty big, slender, cream-colored feline – with two enormous, bloody fangs hanging down from its mouth.

It fixed its hungry eyes on Lapras and then leapt forward with a roar, sinking its fangs deep into the turtle’s neck. Lapras let out a high-pitched wail; all the color drained from May’s face as she recalled her Pokémon.

“Is Fangcat going to be willing to attack you?” Mark whispered to Scyther.

“Her?” Scyther snorted. “She’d attack anything that’s not Rob. She’d be overjoyed about being allowed to kill in this battle if she was able to express any emotion other than bloodlust and hate.”

“But you have to battle her,” Mark said, his eyes wide.

“Of course I have to,” said Scyther simply, walking forward. “Oh, and you don’t need to give me orders; I know what I’m doing.”

“Fangcat, punish him!” the Mew Hunter roared.

“Fffffang!” Fangcat hissed, her eyes fixed on Scyther. He watched her closely too.

Suddenly, Scyther darted upwards. Fangcat leapt amazingly high after him, but he just flew even higher. Fangcat turned around in the air, knowing that Scyther was about to try to attack her from the back as she fell. When he dove down to slash at her, a well-aimed strike resulted in one of her fangs running Scyther’s body through.

He was stiff for a split second, his eyes wide, but then he raised both of his scythes and started slashing like mad. She was cut and bloody all over when they landed on the floor, her fang still entering his upper body at the front and coming out at the back. He was breathing rapidly.

“Fangcat, return!” the Mew Hunter said, white as a sheet of paper, as he held forward a Pokéball. The feline was absorbed into red energy and disappeared. Scyther was left lying alone on the floor. He then started muttering something Mark recognized as the saying he had mentioned to Mark earlier:

“Death is not to be feared… for it is the only thing… that we all… have… in common…”

Scyther closed his eyes. The Mew Hunter took out a Pokéball, wide-eyed, but it just melted into thin air. Mark’s heart was beating; Pokéballs didn’t do that unless…

May walked slowly towards the motionless mantis, observing him for a few seconds. Finally, she bent down and poked his shiny green armor. She quickly pulled her hand back.

“He’s dead,” she clarified after a moment’s pause. It didn’t surprise Mark. The Mew Hunter just stared at the lifeless Pokémon on the floor.

“…no,” he then whispered. “No! NO!”

“Oh yes,” said May mercilessly, stepping away from the body. “That bloody beast of yours killed him, on your own orders.”

The Mew Hunter dropped to his knees and buried his face in his hands. “Scyther…no…”

Mark was amazed at how quickly his whole attitude changed; just a few minutes ago, he had been the madman who seemed to want nothing more than see something killed, but now he looked completely broken down.

Mark hadn’t exactly known Scyther for a very long or pleasant time, but couldn’t help feeling horrible.

For ten seconds or so, everything was silent except from the Mew Hunter’s sobbing. Then, all of a sudden, the big window farther away on the wall was shattered to pieces. Even the Mew Hunter looked up to see what was happening.

In through the window flew a small, pink, catlike creature with big, sad, sapphire blue eyes.

“It is such a shame,” said Mew gravely, not to anybody in particular, levitating three meters or so above Scyther’s body, “when the young die…”

The Legendary Pokémon’s big eyes turned to the Mew Hunter.

“Especially when one knows that when it comes right down to it… it’s one’s own fault.” There was a brief silence.

“Your life was meant to be longer,” said the Legendary Pokémon then sadly to the lifeless body on the floor. The beautiful eyes closed, and Mew was enveloped in a reddish-pink aura. So was Scyther’s body.

The big hole in the middle of his upper body closed. The blood on the floor disappeared. The glow faded, first on Scyther, then on Mew.

Scyther’s eyes opened.

He blinked a few times and then slowly stood up.

“I’m… back...” Scyther whispered, looking around. Mark realized that he had just witnessed a miracle – an example of the incredible power of the Legendary Pokémon…

“I won the battle,” said the Mew Hunter suddenly. “Scyther died.”

“Hey, that’s not fair!” Mark protested. “Fangcat fainted first!”

“But Scyther died,” the Mew Hunter hissed.

“Looks pretty darn alive to me now,” Mark replied. The mantis was seemingly talking to Mew.

“But he was…”

“Hey, OK, let’s assume you won,” May interrupted. “Then we’ll give in and tell you where Mew is: over there. Now give Mark his Pokémon so we can leave.”

The Mew Hunter jerked his head in Mew’s direction, like he was first now realizing that it was Mew and not something else.

“I will change my whereabouts now,” said Mew to him. “I shall travel… and you shall not find me.”

The Mew Hunter grabbed a Pokéball, but Mew’s eyes just glowed a deep purple, its shape started to flicker and then it disappeared in a flash of violet.

“I will find you… I will…” he muttered, staring at the place where Mew used to be. Then he seemed to snap out of his trance, fixed his gaze on Scyther and reached for his Pokéball.

“But… Scyther’s Pokéball melted!” he realized as his hand found only air.

“Yes,” said Scyther slowly. “Mew told me… I’m not yours anymore…”

The Mew Hunter’s eyes widened.

“Rob, we could go back and live our old life. But are you ready to give up on Mew for that?”

“I have to go… I have to find Mew… I’m sorry,” said the Mew Hunter.

“Then… I wish you the best of luck,” said Scyther sorrowfully before taking off and flying out of the window to freedom.

The Mew Hunter stared after him.

“Um… my Pokémon?” Mark asked carefully.

“Sure…” said the Mew Hunter absent-mindedly, handing him his Pokéballs like he had no idea what he was doing. Mark quietly attached them back to his belt and the kids hurried out of the building before the Mew Hunter realized where they were.

-------

“Wow,” May said on the way to the Alumine Pokémon Center. “That was some adventure…”

“Where were you the whole time, by the way?” Mark asked curiously.

“Well, when the guy took you inside and you didn’t come out again, I got a bit suspicious so I walked around the house a bit and found the end of that ventilation pipe. Then I got into it and ended up at your end, and watched and heard everything. I didn’t want to come down sooner because I didn’t think it would be smart to give Scyther a reason to… erm, change the plan…”

“Why didn’t you just call the police?” Mark asked.

“Well…” May bit her lip, “you could say I’m… not much for the way they do things.”

Mark decided not to question her further about that. “I feel a bit sorry for that man, though. He’s totally brainwashed.”

May nodded. “We’re here.”

The familiar, red, dome-shaped roof of the Pokémon Center towered over them. A sign outside it informed them that the Pokémon Center had free rooms for all Pokémon trainers.

“Wait!”

Scyther walked through a crowd of people who automatically split to the sides, giving him a clear path.

“What’s your name?” he asked Mark out of the blue.

“Mark,” he replied, not sure what Scyther wanted.

“Mark, can I come with you?”

“What?” Mark stared at the mantis.

“You wouldn’t understand, it’s complicated, but I have nothing to live for in the wild. Rob’s Mew-obsession has taken over him. It’s either you… or wasting the life that Mew gave me another chance at.”

Mark nodded.

“One condition, though,” said Scyther worriedly. “This may sound strange, but… don’t report him to the police. I’ve known him for three years, and usually he is a wonderful person and friend. Trust me, you’ve only seen the one truly bad side of him. He doesn’t deserve jail.”

Mark nodded again.

“Got a spare Pokéball?” Scyther questioned. Mark took out the last one that had come with his Pokéball belt, and tapped Scyther with it. He was dissolved into red light and sucked into the ball. It immediately pinged; Scyther showed no resistance against it.

It was quite an interesting Pokémon team Mark was going to have now. An abandoned Charmeleon, a baby Eevee who didn’t know what Pokémon training was, a Sandshrew who had just gained his very first bit of confidence, a starved, weird Gyarados, and a depressed Scyther.

May just stared.


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