Chapter 9: The secret of the gym

Mark went to the hotel to change clothes, but May wanted to fish a little more and train some. She seemed to be totally obsessed with the technical part of pokémon, actually. Mark healed his pokémon and then thought about the book he had read on the first day of his pokémon journey. He wanted to be a legendary collector, he was interested in legendary pokémon and all. But did Dratini count as a legendary? And what about Gyarados? He wondered where he could get to know, and then he thought Rick must know everything about legendary pokémon, being a gym leader who uses them and cloning them and all, so Mark decided to go and ask him. Maybe Rick would be in a better mood now.

When Mark came into the gym, the first junior trainer wasn’t there. On the door was a note saying “Went down for break. Please go right through.” When he went through the door, he found out that all the junior trainers had similar notes. The one with the Mewtwotwo had that note on top of the “went to get another Mewtwo” note, which was still up. Mark somehow had the feeling that it was being cloned. And Rick’s arena was empty too. His note, however, said “Went down to the basement – will be back. Challengers, have patience and come later.” Mark supposed the basement was where the junior trainers were taking a break. But as he wasn’t a very patient person and didn’t know what else he could do to kill time, he wondered where the door to the basement could be, and walked a few steps backwards while looking around. And of course, he fell into the pool on the battle arena.

The first thing he thought was that now the extra clothes were wet too. The second thing was “How oddly deep this pool is!” and the third thing was “Why is that hole in the wall down there?” The fourth thing was that he better get up to the surface. He swam up and sent out Gyarados into the pool. Gyarados roared.

“Gyarados, go down there, through that hole in the wall just by the bottom, and see if there’s air at the other end somewhere.”

Gyarados dived down, but the more of Gyarados’ body disappeared into the hole, the more hopeless it was that Mark could swim there. After what seemed like ages, Gyarados returned.

“Was there air?”

Gyarados nodded.

“Would you think I could make it there?”

Gyarados shook his head.

“But would you think Rick could make it?”

“Nope,” said Gyarados. “No human could make it there without oxygen, or I’m a Magikarp.”

This was the very first thing Gyarados said that Mark understood as a sentence. He had been wondering whether Gyarados spoke German or something, but he probably was just antisocial. Not much for chatting.

“Then he must hide some oxygen here... or... Gyarados, go down again and see if there’s some kind of a drain at the bottom.”

Gyarados dived down again, checked out the bottom, and then came up.

“There is one. Right there in the middle.”

“Great! It must open electrically, somehow...he can open it from up here... Jolteon!”

His spiky yellow pokémon came out of the ball and yawned and stretched. He seemed really disappointed that there was no battle.

“Do you think you could somehow... shock... the... no, it’s too risky. There must be a switch here somewhere...” Mark looked around and saw six buttons on one wall. He walked up to the buttons and pressed the first one, because the buttons weren’t marked in any way. The lights went out. Mark pressed the button again, but nothing happened. He pressed the second button, and the boxes where the trainers were supposed to stand got lighted up. He pressed it again too, and nothing happened. He tried the third button, and suddenly, bright spotlights, probably controlled by Pokémon energy detectors (so that they would dim as the pokémon they illuminated got weaker), lit up Jolteon and Gyarados. Jolteon was so startled that he accidentally let of a Thundershock, which narrowly missed Gyarados, who growled angrily at Jolteon. Mark pressed the fourth button and the lights went back to normal, to his relief. He pressed the fifth one, and finally, the water level of the pool started to lower. He quickly recalled Gyarados and Jolteon, and when all the water was out of the pool, he saw it was way too deep for him to get down. Mark went back and pressed the sixth button, pretty hopelessly, but that caused a ladder to appear out of the side of the now empty pool.

Mark went down and through the hole, wondering if Rick would be mad when he saw him. Whatever, it was still exciting, with an attracting mystery feel to it. The hole turned out to be a long tunnel. Then he went up stairs again, and into a very strange room.

It was all lit by red lights. There were strange machines that looked the same except for the size everywhere by the walls, but there were other things that interested Mark more. Everywhere around the floor were some sorts of fish tanks, with loads of buttons on them, holding pokémon fetuses. Floating in some kind of a brown liquid, some looked certainly like pokémon, others looked like shapeless forms he wondered what could possibly be, but gave him the creeps. Mark knew instantly where he was; this was Rick’s cloning lab.

He heard some voices and quickly went behind some red glass and lay flat on the floor. In walked some scientists. One went to a tank with a Caterpie-like thing that seemed to be darker in color than most Caterpies Mark had seen. The other one went to a glass tank he couldn’t see well because it was farther away. Instead, he watched the other one.

“Peter, come,” he said, calling the one who was farther away. “I think it’s ready, what do you think?”

The other scientist came and peered at the Caterpie through the glass. “Yes, I think so too. It looks pretty good,” he then said and went back to is tank. The scientist with the Caterpie pressed two buttons on his tank, and the brown liquid slowly started to flow out of the tank. When all the liquid was out, the Caterpie, which seemed to have a dark blue feeler, lay at the bottom of the tank like dead. The scientist pressed another button and some kind of an electric wave struck the strange Caterpie and caused it to wake up. The scientist watched it opening one eye, rising up, opening the other eye, and looking curiously around. Then he pressed yet another button, and the glass tank opened with a low hiss. He picked up the Caterpie, examined it, and then said, delighted: “It’s a beauty! What a perfect clone!”

The strange Caterpie replied with “Catertwo!” Now Mark knew what they were doing. They were making clones that were a little different, two-clones, like Mewtwo had been. Illegal, of course, after what happened with the Mewtwo experiment. He hardly dared to breathe.

“Look, mine’s absolutely perfect too!” The other scientist, the one called Peter, came holding a strange Pikachu. It had blue balls on it ears, blue cheeks, blue triangle-shaped tail, large blue claws and pawpads and sharp teeth. “Pikatwo!” it said and looked menacingly at the Catertwo.

“It’s not as good as the one Rick gave to Taylor, though,” the Catertwo cloner replied. “But then again, that one was so perfect, I doubt we’ll ever make one like that again.”
“Rick made it himself, of course,” Peter said. “I think he’s really spoiling Taylor. I mean, he’s just Rick’s little brother, if my little brother came to me and said the Charmander he got as a starting pokémon was too weak and he wanted a cloned pokémon, I’d tell him to shut up and clone one himself. But no, Rick made that Pikatwo for him, and they say he made even more later... also, after Taylor lost his Charmander and got that Quilava, he hasn’t trained it at all! He just keeps messing around with his clones, and Rick is actually proud of him! If I had a brother like that, I’d be embarrassed...” He couldn’t get any farther because then Rick came into the room.

“Who was playing with the buttons? The computer came up with a message that someone was pressing all the buttons!”

“I have no idea,” said Peter.

“And I was with him all the time,” said the other scientist quickly.

“Oh well,” said Rick, “probably it was just some kid who thought I’d come if they pressed the buttons!” Rick laughed and went back into the room he came from.

“Anyway, should we test them together?” the scientist called Peter asked when Rick was gone. The other one agreed, and they took some special pokéballs and put their pokémon into them. Then they walked to an empty space on the floor, and faced each other.

“Go, Catertwo!”

Go, Pikatwo!”

When the Pikatwo came out, electric waves started streaming between the balls on its ears.

“Catertwo, Bug rush!”

“Pikatwo, Running shock!”

The Catertwo sort of rolled up, then leapt forward and hit the Pikatwo powerfully. The Pikatwo then charged at the Catertwo with its ears stretched forward, and got a wave of the electricity between the ears touching Catertwo. The Catertwo went stiff, and then fell down, paralyzed.

“Great! Now, let’s evolve them,” Peter said. “You first, Jim.”

The other one, Jim, picked up the Catertwo and took it to one of the machines by the walls, a very small one. He opened it, put the Catertwo inside and closed. Then he pressed a button on it, waited a few seconds, then opened it again and took out a metallic gray Metapod. Those machines were obivously some kind of “evolvers”.

“Let’s try this one,” Jim said and sent it out against the Pikatwo.

“Metatwo, Metal shield!”

“Metatwo!” said the Metatwo and hardened, but much more than a normal harden would.

“Pikatwo, just tackle it or something!”

The Pikatwo tackled the Metatwo, but just hurt its leg. The Metatwo did not seem harmed at all.

“Very good!” said Peter. “Now, it’s time for Pikatwo to be evolved.”

He put the Pikatwo into a little larger evolver and pressed the button. The pokémon he took out again had purple balls on its ears, purple cheeks, purple belly, purple claws and pawpads and a purple tail. “Raitwo!” it said.

“Let’s try out your unique attack! Raitwo, Power shock!”

The Raitwo ran at the Metatwo and touched it with the tip of its ear. The Metatwo recieved what seemed to be a very powerful shock and fainted.

Jim took the Metatwo into an evolver and it became a Buttertwo with a very purple body and dark blue legs and mouh. It used Anteanna shock, an attack that paralyzed Raitwo. Then Peter and Jim went out of the room, very pleased with the outcome.

Mark crawled behind the glass, afraid they might hear him, and managed to read about a lot of plans for ‘twos’ which were on the walls. There were rough drawings and unique attacks on them. He didn’t know whether they had been made yet, of course. He reached the tunnel back to the gym arena, went through it as fast as he could, climbed the ladder and pressed a small button he noticed just above the ladder, which made the water go back into the pool and the ladder disappear. Then he hurried out of the gym towards the pokémon center.

When Mark came to the pokémon center, he met May.

“Hi Mark! Where have you been? I caught a rare pokémon in a cave nearby. See!” She sent out a pokémon – a Larvitar. It looked like May was getting somewhat his rival. But that was not what he was thinking of now.

“May. The guy who stole your Quilava is named Taylor. He is Rick’s little brother and the Pikachu you battled wasn’t a Pikachu, it was a Pikatwo, a genetically modified clone. I’ll explain later.” Then he rushed off to the hotel to change clothes again.