Chapter 19: Underwater journey

Mark soon reached Merville. It was a small town that was basically just a harbor and a few houses. There was a tiny store just by the harbor itself called “Underwater equipment”. There was a large sign that said: “ROUTE 243 – MERVILLE – AQUA TOWN” beside the shop pointing at the surface of the sea. Mark went into the shop right away, because he knew he needed “underwater equipment”.

Inside the shop, there was just a man, seemingly the owner of the shop, sitting by a desk, looking very bored. In fact, bored was not quite the word. Half-asleep would be better. But a second after Mark entered, that man stood beside him, wide awake.

“Welcome! Headed to Aqua, are you? Of course you are! What else would you be doing here? Well, look no further! I’ve got everything you need! First, you’ll need a H2Oxy 3000, the newest and best. Look...” the man put the small tool over his nose, but quickly took it back off, as it looked like it prevented him from breathing, “ put it on like that, and make sure it completely covers your nose, and then go underwater, and it will work oxygen out of the water. Clever, isn’t it?”

“Are you sure it... works?” Mark asked, not positive about how he could rely on that thing.

“It should do,” said the shopkeeper and put the H2Oxy 3000 in Mark’s hand. “Well, the next thing you need is a Aqua compass. It always points at Aqua town.” Mark watched as the needle turned and pointed straight away from the sea. “But, well, it sometimes works,” the shopkeeper put the Aqua compass in Mark’s hand too, “And now, of course, you need...” He took some kind of a spray and sprayed it at Mark all over, “Now you repel water and you will step out as dry as you are now! Isn’t that great? Then, here I have a Sharpedo-ward. It will release a very bad smelling liquid that will keep any Sharpedo away from you. And then I have this wonderful rock to make it easier to sink to the bottom at a special price, only 5000! I’m sure you’ll visit again, buddy, right? I’m always ready at hand! This will be 50000.”

The shopkeeper had handed Mark everything he had mentioned in his speech and he couldn’t even see the shopkeeper after the rock came on top of it.

“Huh? But I don’t have that much money on me right now... eh, I think I’ll just have to go with the H2Oxy...” Mark said and put down the Aqua compass, the Sharpedo-ward and the rock.

“But you’ve used the water-repelling spray already, and that alone is 10000!” the shopkeeper said. “I can’t just give it to you free, now can I?”

“That’s rubbish! I never asked for it!” Mark said angrily.

“Then I won’t give you any for the way back,” the shopkeeper said grumpily and took the money Mark gave him. Then Mark went outside. As soon as he stepped out, someone touched his shoulder.

“Hey. Kid. Battle?” said a sailor who was standing behind him.

“I guess so,” Mark said. “Now I can use Gyarados. Go!” Mark sent Gyarados out into the water. He roared loudly (although they were just more roars with no meaning) and then looked angrily at Mark like he wanted to say: “Why did you make me wait in my pokéball for so long?”

“Go, Sharpedo!” the sailor said and sent a shark pokémon out into the water.

“Gyarados, Dragon rage!”

Gyarados fired the same weird flames Dratini could use at the Sharpedo. It dived underwater, but being dragon’s fire, water didn’t stop the Dragon rage. The flames turned blue on impact with the water, and kept going. Sharpedo couldn’t avoid those flames.

“Sharpedo, Crunch!” the sailor roared. His shark pokémon shot at Gyarados underwater and sunk its fangs deep into Gyarados’ tail. Gyarados was bleeding, roared in pain and slammed his tail, with Sharpedo stuck on, at the bottom of the water. Sharpedo’s thick skin, though, somehow managed to make it survive that without fainting. Sharpedo let go off Gyarados’ tail, then bit it again, even harder, at the same place. The water was changing to red. But Gyarados had an idea. He remained completely still, enduring the pain...

The thing is that if a shark is held still, water won’t flow through its gills because of how primitive sharks are. Same thing about Sharpedo. Being held still in the water caused it to be unable to get any oxygen at all.

“Sharpedo!” the sailor yelled. “Let him go! Let him go!”

The Sharpedo finally managed to take its teeth out of Gyarados. A plenty of blood leaked out, but the Sharpedo swam a few meters to catch its “breath”, and then shot angrily at Gyarados again.

But Gyarados was ready. When the Sharpedo was at the right place, Gyarados slammed his tail at it and held it tight down to the bottom. Same thing as before, just with a lot of pressure.

“No! I give! Sharpedo, return!” the sailor said and recalled Sharpedo. “That Gyarados of yours is a true monster. He’ll come in handy at the Aqua gym – that’s where you’re heading, I suppose?”

“Yeah,” said Mark.

“Marge – the leader – is very tough. You’ll need quite some pokémon to beat her,” the sailor then said and walked off.
Mark put on his H2Oxy and dived into the water. Good news: The H2Oxy worked. Bad news: He should have taken the Sharpedo ward because the smell of Gyarados’ blood had attracted a whole lot of them.

Mark quickly sent Gyarados out to ward them off. Gyarados shot at the Sharpedos and they spread like a lighting. He followed one and, to Mark’s disgust, caught it. When Gyarados saw him, he gave him a “what, do you have any idea how long it’s been since I last had a decent meal?” look, then made an attempt to rip a chunk of meat out of its prey. Mark turned and kept going, knowing Gyarados would catch up with him and it was probably an unpleasand sight to watch a Gyarados tear a Sharpedo to pieces.

Mark eyed a moving rock. It looked odd, like it was swimming.

Then he realized it wasn’t a rock; it was a Relicanth.

“Wow! They are so incredibly rare! I have to catch it!” Mark thought and reached for a pokéball. He had already drawn Charmeleon’s out when he remembered he was underwater. He’d have to wait for Gyarados.

Like he thought, Gyarados caught up with him. Mark had been following the Relicanth for quite some time, but when he finally came, things could start happening.

“Gyarados, be quiet. See the pokémon over there? It’s a Relicanth. It’s very rare. I just have to catch it. So you’re going to help me catch it, and don’t let it notice us!”

Gyarados nodded, and prepared to launch at the Relicanth. He shot quietly towards the ancient fish pokémon and grabbed it by the tail. Mark threw a pokéball, but as they were underwater, the ball didn’t go far and started sinking. Gyarados let go off the Relicanth and dived after the ball. The Relicanth disappeared, very quickly for a Rock type.

“Gyarados, you idiot!” Mark hissed. “Look what you did! I missed that Relicanth! It takes most trainers many weeks to even see one!”

Gyarados had an angry expression and then went into his pokéball by himself.

Mark swam on. He saw a swarm of Horseas and thought about catching one, but decided he’d better not, he’d got that far, so it would take ages trying to train a low level Horsea against the pokémon in this part of Ouen.

While he was thinking about that, the Horsea swarm swam away and instead there was another Sharpedo swarm surrounding him.
“Gyarados! Attack!” Mark said when he saw the sharks. But nothing came out of the ball. Gyarados was still offended that Mark called him an idiot.

“Oh no! Gyarados, you have to...” But Gyarados still refused to go out of the ball.

I’m doomed, Mark thought as the Sharpedo swarm drew closer. But something came... something that caused the Sharpedos to scatter like coins from a Pay day.

That something was a sea monster. A giant sea monster pokémon that looked like a dragon...

Mark pointed his pokédex at the thing, it was the only thing he could think of although it was a very geeky thing to do.

“Monarking, monster pokémon. This fearsome pokémon is said to be somewhat magical and highly intelligent. It’s a mystery what causes it to trust some people and hate others.”

Trust some, hate others. Well, I hope I’m not one of the hated ones, I can imagine what this thing does to what it hates, Mark thought. The pokémon turned at him and examined him carefully. Then it dived deep into the sea.

Hey! Where do you think you’re going?! Mark thought and swam after it as quickly as he could.

When Mark thought he had lost the Monarking, he saw it again. It looked like it was waiting for him. When it saw him again, it kept going. Mark went after it.

I wonder if it’s just playing a trick on me. Maybe it has a family, and it’s taking me to them so it won’t have to kill me here somewhere and take me to them afterwards, he thought.

Then, he saw lights. And near the lights, the Monarking still waited. Mark swam on towards the lights; it was Aqua town. Under a big glass dome. The Monarking had taken him to Aqua town.

As Mark swam with relief towards the double door on the dome, he could’ve sworn the Monarking was surrounded by other sea monsters, some a little smaller, some a lot smaller and one of the same size, and they all looked at him in the same way, the same look that said, We won’t hurt you, you won’t hurt us.