Mark's Pokémon

This section applies to the ILCOE.

Mark's Pokémon, current and former, here listed in the form in which they were first seen in the story, are Charmander, Eevee, Sandshrew, Gyarados, Dratini, Scyther, Leta and Sneasel.

Pre-Story Biography

Charmander is the son of Ash Ketchum's Charizard and was born in captivity. He volunteered to be a starter and was given to Taylor Lancaster on the latter's tenth birthday; however, Taylor was always more interested in the clones his brother gave to him and ended up coming across May and tricking her into giving him her Quilava for Charmander. After she found out she'd been duped, she threw the Pokéball away in anger, allowing Charmander to escape; he subsequently wandered off towards Sailance, where Mark would later find him.

Eevee's mother was a Flareon released as part of the Eevee breeding project attempting to increase the number of wild Eevee. She left her young cubs at her nest one day and never returned; while the other cubs insisted on waiting for her, Eevee decided to run off to search for her. After being attacked by wild Pokémon and exhausting himself running, he eventually collapsed on the road, where Mark would find him and bring him to the Cleanwater City Pokémon Center.

Sandshrew is a timid little thing who lived with other Sandshrew near the Lake of Purity. He was curious about trainers and always half-hoped to get caught one day, just so he could see what it was like and perhaps become stronger and overcome his fearful nature. While initially unhappy with Mark's less than exceptional battling abilities, he soon learned to appreciate him and is now very loyal.

Gyarados was always a dark-colored Magikarp with battling abilities very unusual for his species. He would prefer the company of Carvanha to that of other Magikarp and got into fights with trainers and other Pokémon in the lake, eventually evolving into a dark-colored Gyarados who terrorized the smaller Pokémon of the lake. However, then Suicune came along and began to regularly purify the lake such that Gyarados's presence anywhere nearby could not escape any of the Pokémon he preyed on, causing him to slowly starve. He retreated into a hole in the bank where he could lurk and grab whatever swam by, but could never eat his fill. During this time he developed an intense hatred of Suicune as well as a mysterious attack, 'Dragon Beam', whose use he perfected in the hope of using it to get his revenge on the legendary, but he never got the opportunity. By the time the story takes place, Gyarados is the stuff of legends in Cleanwater City even as Suicune is blamed for the unlucky trainers he has killed along the way.

Dratini was bred in captivity for the Dratini breeding project and then released at the Lake of Purity as part of the plan to boost the wild Dratini population. Rather young and naïve at the beginning, he got himself caught more or less by accident, but as he was used to humans and had been taught to expect it, he was open to this development and never minded being with Mark.

Scyther was part of a Scyther swarm residing on the plains near the forest of Ruxido. He was known as Razor to his friends Stormblade and Shadowdart and was just an ordinary Scyther - save incidents such as killing a human trainer as his First Prey - until the day that he named a beautiful female he was attracted to Nightmare. She insulted him, and he challenged her to a duel to the death in the heat of the moment, which he lost easily. Instead of killing him, however, she spared him and eloped from the swarm, causing him to do the same in an attempt to follow her. Paralyzed, he watched a trainer capture her and evolve her into a Scizor - a fate worse than death to the Scyther - and went into a murderous rage which ended with him bleeding and nearly dying in the forest. There he was found by the Mew Hunter, who captured him and nursed him back to health, eventually getting him to accept captivity. Later, after a series of unexpected events, he ends up with Mark.

Leta was the only one of the shiny Letaligon leader's children who did not inherit his shininess and was thus rejected by her father from birth. She has always been bitter about this and determined to one day evolve, become more powerful than her father, and defeat him - not to take the leadership for herself, which she could never do since she is not shiny, but simply to prove herself better than him. When she was caught, she only saw this as an opportunity.

Sneasel is very ambitious and lived at the Ouen Safari, waiting for a strong trainer to challenge, before she was captured. Nothing is currently known of her background.

Character Rambles

Mark's Pokémon really are a colorful bunch, aren't they? Gyarados, Scyther and Leta have serious issues, Charmander and Eevee have pasts of abandonment - only Sandshrew and Dratini could be considered normal and healthy. I have fun like that.

So, well. My favorite of Mark's Pokémon is Scyther, who I had join Mark at the last minute because I had become fascinated by him while writing him into the original chapter eleven (now chapter ten of the ILCOE). After that I only went on to add more and more backstory to him, culminating in Scyther's Story. The main reason I love him is that like so very many of my favorite fictional characters, he is a very broken sort of person - he was brought up in a messed-up society and thought he was an exemplary member of it all the way until the first time it was truly put to the test by Nightmare's decision to spare him. Had it not been for her moment of 'weakness', he would have died then, or if she had never existed he would most likely have continued to live a happy, Code-abiding life in the Scyther swarm; because she failed to kill him, however, he was faced with the task of doing it himself, and at that moment he all of a sudden realized he wasn't as strong as he thought, shattering his confidence and general worldview to pieces. He tried to start it anew, leaving the swarm to go after Nightmare, but then found himself too scared to try to save her from the trainer who caught her, causing his second breakdown - after which his life became a living hell of self-loathing and suicidal thoughts he was too weak to carry out. What saved him was Rob, who introduced him to his solution - drinking and wallowing in self-pity together, living on in the hope of regaining some measure of happiness again one day - but deep down he always knew that could only be temporary, and when Rob returned to his old ways of caring more for Mew than for anything else, Scyther had to leave, try to pick up the pieces of his life and regain his sense of purpose as an individual.

After joining Mark, Scyther is still lost and despises himself, finding purpose and some measure of momentary joy in battling for him but not much more than that. He eventually shared his troubles with Mark but had yet to make peace with himself over his past misdeeds and thus remained lost and confused (just how I like my fictional characters!), all the way until chapter sixty, where he met Nightmare again and she made him realize the Code was simply wrong.

This is just his QftL bio; for more rambling about his past and personal issues, see his Scyther spin-off bio. But unfortunately, I'm still not done here. You see, Scyther is the best thing ever to happen to this fic in several ways. First of all, much as those less interested in him might think otherwise, my general love for him as a character was very beneficial to the story in that it made me interested in it. At that point in the story, I enjoyed using May to get my fictional revenge on boys I didn't like, but that was pretty much it - I had no plot, no subplots, no character arcs or generally anything to keep me writing, and it might easily have ended up abandoned like all my previous forages into original fiction. Scyther's character kept me interested while the story got going; if not for him, I might have gotten bored and stopped writing relatively soon after this, maybe around Scorpio City or so (since the Black Desert chapter had been planned, but not much more).

The second way in which Scyther saved this fic is that his scene in chapter eleven (now ten) where he talked to Mark was the first part in the story where I decided that writing Pokémon speech as "Scyther scy scyther ther scyther" and then having Mark essentially repeat what the Pokémon said before answering was just too silly, so I decided I might as well just translate it directly with a note that it was being translated. The decision to do this paved the way for generally giving the Pokémon more interesting dialogue, thus helping in their development as proper characters.

Similarly, the third aspect in which Scyther was good for the story is that his backstory was also what prompted me to start using gendered pronouns for Pokémon after having stubbornly stuck with 'it' up until that point. When I was writing chapter 30 (now 27) in advance while chapter 23 was in progress, I realized that it was just exceedingly awkward to continue to call Scyther 'it' even while his own dialogue was making it obvious he was male, and thus I inserted a little scene into chapter 23 to make Mark and May decide that calling their Pokémon 'it' was ridiculous. This was also a step towards making the Pokémon characters feel more natural as a part of the cast.

Fourthly, also in relation to the Pokémon characterization department, the Scyther/Charmeleon rivalry was my first attempt at actually making the Pokémon into storyline-driving characters - while I'd had Charmander as a vague plot device (what with having belonged to Taylor and then briefly to May) and Gyarados was mysterious, the Scyther/Charmeleon rivalry actually had them with their own motives influencing the events of the story, which was a first. Yet again, the Scyther/Charmeleon rivalry was a spontaneous addition; it was not planned and nothing of the sort would have happened had I not happened to write Scyther into Mark's team.

Fifthly, related to the first and fourth items, the Scyther/Charmeleon rivalry was also the first real character-based subplot in the story in general, which both paved the way for more subplots and general characterization and made the story more interesting while it was going on, both for me and (or at least I'd like to think so) for readers, making the wait for the start of the real plot not quite as long and pointless.

The Scyther/Charmeleon rivalry also served to give Charmeleon more character and made me like him a lot. Charmander developed a lot of confidence after he evolved, coupled with some measure of overprotectiveness, though it didn't take long for it to stop being about Scyther being a potential danger to Mark and just became a personal vendetta; once he'd evolved again, he gained some perspective on this very fact and thus realized his wrongdoing. While his weird suicidal act in chapter 23 was just odd and the change is kind of sudden, I plan to try to fix that later. He was most fun to write as a Charmeleon, though.

Of course, here I've been speaking of the Scyther/Charmeleon rivalry as if it were some grand mother of all subplots with depth to rival the Lake of Purity. It is not; looking back at it, it is marvelously poorly developed, beginning in one chapter with then scarcely a mention of it until six chapters later at which time it has suddenly escalated greatly and then lying dormant again until six further chapters later when it is magically resolved. But here it's the thought that counts. It made me decide I wanted to do stuff like character-based subplots and characterize the Pokémon as active agents in the plot, and even if that particular attempt wasn't very good, it at least made me keep trying.

By contrast, Leta's character-based subplot started much later - in fact not until the ILCOE - and thus ended up far better. She was supposedly rejected by her father for not being shiny like a shiny Letaligon's offspring ordinarily are. After her rejection, she developed an obsession with becoming stronger solely so that she can come back and show herself to be better by personally killing him and then watching her shiny siblings fight and kill one another in a sort of morbid revenge against them for having the privilege of being shiny while she doesn't.

There are many stories where shiny Pokémon are rejected for being different, and although I wasn't really thinking of it that way originally, Leta's story is a bit of a subversion of that - she is rejected for being normal when she ought to have been different. I rather enjoy that. My favorite thing about writing Leta, though, especially in later chapters, is her interactions with Mark, particularly her attempts to act independent and above him while still seeking his validation, such as just after she became a Letaligon.

Of course, now it's been revealed that actually Leta wasn't her father's daughter to begin with. This is really strongly hinted in Leta's first appearance in chapter 22, which is funny because at the time I wrote that I had absolutely no idea; it wasn't until years later that I realized Vigor is clearly questioning her paternity there, not just thinking her non-shininess makes her not good enough. Though it isn't actually stated, Vigor did love Leta's mother when he originally took her for a mate; he just took his shiny privilege for granted and it never occurred to him to ask her what she wanted, and when Leta was born and wasn't shiny, it came as a real shock to him to have to suspect his lovely mate of cheating. It was only after that that he truly became cold and cruel towards her.

I'd planned long before that that by the time she returned to face her father, he would already be dead, however; it's not like I'd ever write about a character actually accomplishing what they want, after all. Having the ability to kill him torn away from her along with a large chunk of the basis on which she wanted to (she can't help but feel her father was justified in everything in some manner now that she knows she never was his daughter) leaves a huge hole where her motivation for basically everything she's done since her introduction used to be, and that's going to take a while to heal. However, Mark did get through to her to a larger extent than she'd ever willingly admit, and I allow myself to hope eventually rediscovering her wild life will fill that space and she truly will allow herself to be happy.

The last of Mark's Pokémon I would like to ramble about a bit is Gyarados - I love Eevee, Sandshrew and Dratini and all, but they're just not as rambleworthy. What I really enjoy about Gyarados is, again, his relationship with Mark. I feel it's pretty important that Mark never battled or caught him - Gyarados forced him to take him away from the lake and Suicune, starting off their relations rather oddly for a trainer-Pokémon relationship, with the Pokémon calling the shots. Gyarados nominally serves Mark as an expression of gratitude for taking him away from the lake, but because they don't have a natural Pokémon/trainer partnership, things have always been a bit off between them, with Mark intimidated and disturbed by him and Gyarados only resentfully fighting for him, thinking of himself as bound to his trainer by contract rather than friendship or respect. Hence, Gyarados thinks little of acting in ways that are disturbing to Mark, such as by devouring wild Sharpedo or killing Suicune in front of him, since as far as he is concerned his end of the contract extends only to battling for him, and Mark can't talk to him about it on friendly terms. Nonetheless, Gyarados is a very valuable asset to his team, particularly for fighting the remaining legendaries, and Mark knows it; he can't simply release Gyarados from his "service", and therefore he is stuck with him. In this way, Gyarados is a bit apart from the rest of Mark's team because of this, and it makes it fun to portray the conflict between them.

In chapter 51, where Gyarados turns out to have been right about Suicune, this changes somewhat as Mark, feeling betrayed and confused after practically worshipping these legendaries for so long, begins to sympathize with Gyarados more than with Suicune. Additionally, since Suicune wasn't really dead and it wasn't actually Gyarados's Dragon Beam that "killed" him, some of Mark's purely instinctual horror at the murder of a legendary is subdued. Perhaps this will lead to improving their relationship in the future.