The Quest for the Legends (ILCOEp)
Chapter 42: Splitting Up
There were a number of other trainers in the Scorpio City Pokémon Center, waiting for the storm to subside. Nurse Joy of Scorpio City, far nicer than her cousin in Acaria City, had pointed the bookshelves in one corner out to Alan while Mark had been talking to Mitch, and after Alan had relayed the message to Mark, the two of them spent most of the afternoon reading on the comfortable couches while listening to the rain beat on the windows outside. Mark had a bit of a hard time concentrating at first because he was still a little spooked; he didn’t tell Alan what Mitch had told him, the conversation somehow having marked itself as a secret in his head, and Alan never actually asked. Eventually, however, he managed to sink himself into the book – it was a cheesy novel about legendaries and destinies, which he felt a bit weird to read now, but it was nicely captivating – and didn’t look up again until the door to the Pokémon Center was flung open with a loud noise around half past six.
May stood in the doorway, soaked wet from head to toe. Her blue hair draped messily over her shoulders as she shivered with cold.
“May!” Alan blurted out as he saw her. “Are you insane? Why were you out that long in the rain? You’re freezing.”
“Thanks, Mom,” May replied and rolled her eyes, slamming the door behind her and walking towards where the boys were sitting while water dripped off her onto the carpet. “It was worth it,” she said, a triumphant smile on her face as she sat down on the corner of Mark’s sofa. A dark, wet spot immediately formed around where she was sitting. “Vibrava’s a Flygon now, and he’s level fifty-four. And he knows Dragon Claw. And I taught him Earthquake.”
Mark looked around for a bookmark, tore a piece from one page of a newspaper that was lying on a nearby table and put it into his book before closing it. “Did you train Mutark too?”
She shook her head. “I’ll see what I can do with Mutark when we get to Champion Island. We’ll have a month and a half to prepare for the League, after all, and there are Pokémon of all sorts of levels on there.” She looked around at both of them. “What were you up to while I was out there?”
“Reading,” Alan replied, raising the still-open book he was holding briefly. “And Mark went to see Mitch.”
May looked at Mark. “What did he say?”
“He didn’t really know anything,” Mark said, still not wanting to tell them about the full extent of the gym leader’s mysterious powers. “As Victor said, he just gets these feelings. All he knew about what we were doing was that he had a feeling Chaletwo needed me for something when he killed me. He doesn’t know what it’s about or anything.”
May shrugged. “Okay. Then we won’t have to worry about him.”
“Anybody else hungry?” Mark asked to change the subject. “We haven’t eaten since those cold beans for lunch.”
“I’m starving too,” May said and nodded, looking around. “Do they sell food here or do we need to go out?”
“We can ask Joy,” Alan said, “but while we do that, you’re changing out of your wet clothes.”
May retreated to her room with a grumble after Alan had told her the room number, and the boys walked up to the counter.
Nurse Joy gave them a polite bow. “How can I help you?”
“Where could we buy food?” Alan asked her.
The nurse pointed to the door and the heavy rain outside it. “There’s a place just across the street. Cheap, casual restaurant for trainers, open only during the high season, but that’s now.” She smiled. “Anything else?”
“We’ll be fine, thanks,” Alan said and turned back to Mark. “We wait for May, then.”
She was back in a minute or two, wearing a pair of blue jeans and a white jacket that, as far as Mark could see, was exactly identical to the one she’d been wearing before.
“Hey, apparently there’s a restaurant for trainers across the street,” Alan told her.
May blinked. “So uh… I’m going out into the rain again? When I just changed into something dry?”
“It’s across the street. Can’t be that bad.”
The restaurant was decent, and although May was a little grumpy while they waited for their food, she started cheering up once they’d received their orders. She spent the rest of the dinner going on about her plans for the League and how she needed a new Water-type (Alan gave her one of his looks as she brought this up and she changed the subject).
Finally they returned to the Pokémon Center, Alan went with May to the bookcases, and Mark told them he was going to get Letal back and talk to her.
He walked up to the counter and took a deep breath as Nurse Joy turned to face him. “Excuse me. Can you contact the Acaria City Pokémon Center and ask if my Letal has recovered?”
“Of course,” she said with a smile before turning to the videophone behind her. She dialled a number with quick, precise motions, and a second passed before Nurse Joy of Acaria City appeared on the screen.
“What is it?” she asked, looking tired.
“This boy was asking about his Letal.”
The nurse on the screen glanced at Mark and frowned as she recognized him. “Oh, it’s you,” she said. “Yes, I’ve finished treating your Letal. She’s asleep. I guess you want her back now, huh?”
Mark just nodded, hoping desperately that the nurse would not bring up why she had been in such a bad state. Thankfully, she just disappeared off-screen for a few seconds and then returned, holding a Pokéball.
“Here she is. And don’t let this happen again.”
The ball fell out of a tube beside the screen, and as the screen of the videophone turned blank again, Nurse Joy picked it up and handed it to Mark. “I’m glad your Pokémon is okay,” she said in a voice that somehow managed to make Mark feel bad about the fact she didn’t know what had happened. He just nodded, mumbled some words of thanks and turned back to the corridor on the right which led to the rooms. He entered his, closed the door, and sent Letal out on the bed.
She came out of the ball sleeping with her head resting on one of her crossed forelegs, but quickly sensed the change of environment and opened her eyes. She looked at Mark and lifted her head. “What is it?”
“So you’re… okay?” Mark said, not sure how to get to the subject at hand.
“I didn’t evolve,” she said gloomily. “I almost managed it, but I didn’t have the energy to go through with it.”
She didn’t know.
“About that,” Mark began, biting his lip. “The nurse who treated you said that… because of that, you might never evolve at all.”
Letal looked blankly at him. Mark waited a few seconds for a response but got none.
“It’s some hormone thing,” he went on. “Supposedly it’s about fifty-fifty that you’ll manage to evolve later.”
“And if not?” Letal asked, her voice a little shaky.
“If not… you’ll never be a Letaligon.”
The way she stared at him in a mixture of disbelief, dread and regret expressed more than words ever could have. In a way he was relieved that she didn’t say anything; it was easier to be able to just look at her and try to understand her feelings rather than be hit with questions he couldn’t answer.
Then her expression hardened and she looked away. “I’ll evolve,” she said quietly. “I don’t care about the odds.”
“You might not be able to,” Mark said softly.
Letal shook her head. “I’ll do it. No matter what. If I’m tense enough, I’ll…”
“You’re not doing that again,” Mark interrupted her as he realized what she was thinking. “You could have died. Please, Letal, just let yourself faint when you’re about to collapse. If you can evolve, you will evolve. Don’t do anything stupid.”
She glared at him. “If I don’t evolve, what’s the point of all this? Why would I go with you if I’ll be a Letal for good?”
“You don’t know that you’ll be a Letal for good. Maybe you’ll evolve normally. Most Pokémon don’t need to make the kind of effort you made to evolve.”
“But maybe I won’t.”
Mark sighed. “There’s nothing we can do about that now. We can just train and hope.” And, without really thinking about it, he added, “Probably the best place to train if you really want to become strong and evolve is if we go to the League.”
Letal laid her head down on the bed and chuckled softly. “You think I’m that naïve? You think I can’t tell you just want a Letaligon for yourself? Didn’t we agree that I would go back to Ruxido when I was strong enough?”
Mark took a deep breath. “We’re going to Champion Island tomorrow. I can release you now if you want. But there is a chance you could evolve if we take you with us to the League. If you do that, though, you can’t bail out on us halfway through. We can’t leave the island in the middle of it. After the League, we’ll go back to Ruxido and release you then, whether you’ve evolved or not. Deal?”
She looked at him for a moment, considering it, and then turned away. “Deal,” she said quietly but firmly. “I’m coming with you. But when we get to Ruxido again, we part ways.”
Mark just nodded, not sure what else to say. “Okay, then,” he said finally. “So you’ll be all right?”
Letal gave him a glance. “That depends.”
He sighed. “Look, maybe you’ll evolve and maybe you won’t, but if you don’t, it’s not that bad. Don’t obsess so much over trying to please that jerk father of yours, okay?”
She stared at him for a few moments. “Please him, huh?” she then replied with a cold chuckle.
Mark blinked. “Isn’t that why you’re obsessed with evolving? The way he rejected you and you said you wanted to come back when you were strong?”
“I’m going to kill him,” Letal spat. “And then I’ll watch my shiny siblings slaughter one another for that stupid, meaningless leadership before I leave the herd again and see if I can find another one.”
Mark stared at her in dumbfounded surprise. Whatever he’d been expecting, this was not it. He had always vaguely identified with Letal, what with having parent problems of his own, which made the realization that she was thoroughly messed up after all feel more personal than it ought to. He reminded himself that she really wasn’t any worse than Scyther or Gyarados, and that as per the Agreement it was none of any human’s business what Pokémon got up to in the wild amongst each other, but it didn’t make him feel much better.
Mark took a deep breath. “Well, I guess you’re fine, then,” he said, took her Pokéball back out and watched her dissolve into a shape of translucent red and disappear into the ball.
He replaced the ball on his belt and stood there for a moment before forcibly straightening himself and pushing the matter into the quarantined ‘Let’s Think About This Later’ area of his brain. He went back to the main hall of the Pokémon Center, where both May and Alan were now reading, and spent the rest of the evening finishing his book. (Mark felt oddly cheered up when the main characters succeeded in saving the world at the end.) After that, it was getting late and Alan had already gone to bed, so he replaced the book on the shelf, said goodnight to May and retreated to his room to go to bed.
He dreamt something about Letal killing his father and his mother sobbing over the coffin, while Mark stood over Suicune’s body and attempted unsuccessfully to make his mom notice his existence so she could help him drag it into the woods.
“Get up already. We need to go.”
“Mmmh,” Mark mumbled, pulling his blanket tighter around him while not entirely awake enough to properly register the words.
“Wake up, you Slakoth,” the girl’s voice said a little louder. It was coming from the doorway. Mark forced his eyes open and blinked a few times. He could see May, silhouetted against the bright light of the corridor, folding her arms.
“I’m coming,” he mumbled and dug his face into his pillow. The next thing he knew was a harsh knock that snapped him awake again.
“It’s been fifteen minutes since you said you were coming!” May shouted from the other side. “What are you doing in there?”
He bolted awake, shook his head and sat up. “Sorry,” he called back. “I fell asleep again.”
Mark got ready as quickly as he could and then joined with May and Alan outside his room, where they had clearly been waiting for a little while. He was still feeling a bit foggy after the night; he hadn’t slept very well.
“We’re still heading to Merville, right?” he asked to make sure there hadn’t been some sort of a sudden change of plan as he slung his bag over his shoulder.
“Yeah,” Alan replied. “And then we’ll split up, I guess.”
“Are there ferries going to Champion Island already?” Mark asked.
“No,” May responded. “Not until July. I’m going to talk to Lapras about it.”
Alan gave her a doubtful glance but said nothing.
“Are we going to get some breakfast?” Mark asked hopefully, his stomach growling.
“Supposedly that restaurant we went to yesterday serves breakfast,” May replied. “Hence the whole waking-up-right-now thing.”
“Oh,” Mark answered stupidly, giving himself a mental slap. “Well, what are we waiting for, then?”
After breakfast, they headed east out of town, up one of the mountain ranges that surrounded Scorpion Valley, and out onto the plains beyond. From there they could see the beautifully straight path descend steadily across a field of tall grass towards a small collection of houses – Merville, where they were headed. Sunlight reflected off the soft waves in the ocean behind the town, reminding Mark what kind of a journey was ahead of them.
It was a quiet walk down to the village. Alan still seemed on edge about May’s treatment of her Pokémon, and she returned it by not attempting to talk to him. Meanwhile, Mark’s mind kept drifting to Letal and the rather uncomfortable idea that in a couple of months’ time, he would be releasing her into Ruxido in the knowledge that she was going to murder her own father. No matter how he looked at it, he couldn’t help feeling he would be somewhat responsible for that, and the idea of being responsible for someone’s death, even ‘somewhat’, was not very pleasant, even if he was a terrible father and even if Pokémon saw things differently.
But how could he prevent it? Refuse to release Letal in Ruxido even after he had promised that he would? He couldn’t really see attempting to convince her to change her mind as being likely to do any good.
Of course, evolution had made Charmeleon grow out of wanting to murder Scyther. Who was to say Letal wouldn’t be the same once she was a Letaligon? Provided, of course, that she did become a Letaligon at all. Which made Mark realize that still he didn’t know what Letal would do if he released her in Ruxido and she was still a Letal. By the time they reached the village, he had concluded that the whole situation was far too much of a headache to think about it now and instead occupied his mind with random details of the plot of the book he’d been reading.
“So, we’re here,” May said as they finally entered the village and looked around. Mark saw the dirty, wooden shack by the harbour that pronounced itself to be a shop with a hand-painted sign above the door; he chuckled at the memory of the overenthusiastic shopkeeper. This time, however, there were a number of trainers around; some were feeding their Water Pokémon in the harbour while others walked in and out of the shop, sparing the newcomers barely a passing glance. It made sense; after all, this was when most trainers were journeying, as opposed to Mark and May’s early start.
“We’d better get a Waterfall HM so we can get onto the island,” May said. “Or that’s what I heard, at least.”
Mark nodded to confirm that; Champion Island had cliffs on all sides of it, and the official way to enter it was by swimming up a waterfall, although trainers were known to fly there on occasion.
May was looking at him in a thoughtful manner. “Hey, you can teach it to Gyarados,” she said. “They’re much better with physical attacks than special ones, so it’ll pay in the long run.”
Mark shrugged. “Sounds good.”
“…And, well, Lapras isn’t staying anyway,” she added before sighing. “Mark, can you go buy that HM?”
He entered the store, presuming that May would talk to Lapras in the meantime. The bearded, middle-aged shopkeeper, who had been visibly shrivelling up with boredom the last time Mark had been there, was enthusiastically showing two trainers something on one of the shelves on the other side of the room. The man looked up, hastened to tell the bewildered customers that he would be right back, and scuttled with uncanny agility over to the counter where Mark was.
“What can I do for you, boy? Aquarium City, is it? You’re in the right place! We’ve got everything from…”
“Uh, it’s Champion Island, actually.”
The shopkeeper stopped short in surprise for a split second, but was back to his babbly self before Mark could blink. “Oh! I see! This early? Marvellous, marvellous! You have to understand, at this time of the year everyone is going to Aquarium City – bit ahead of the curve there, eh? Now, I presume you want an HM07, right? Or are you one of those poor saps without a Water-type and need HM02 instead?” He looked expectantly at Mark.
“Just… whichever one Waterfall is?” he said doubtfully.
“That’s 07 for you,” said the shopkeeper, stretching his hand out to one of the shelves behind him and taking out a CD case while simultaneously punching numbers into the cash register. “That will be 3,000.”
Mark handed him his trainer card and took the CD case instead. The front cover was decorated with a picture of a Gyarados racing up a mighty waterfall.
“It’s been a pleasure doing business with you,” the shopkeeper said, handing him his card back before darting back to the two trainers who had been waiting.
Mark pocketed the card and walked out of the store to find May and Alan shouting at one another by the harbor.
“…what’s wrong with asking?”
“Suddenly asking her to do something for you now is demanding!”
“No, it’s not!”
May’s knuckles tightened around the Pokéball in her right hand while Alan, standing a few meters away, folded his arms. Mark took a doubtful step forward.
“Some people can’t say no to a request!”
“Well, that’s their problem!”
“It is your problem here because keeping a Pokémon that wants to be released is abuse!”
“That’s why I’m giving her a choice!”
“Um, guys?” Mark asked carefully. Both of them turned their heads quickly towards him.
“He doesn’t want me to ask Lapras if she can take us over to Champion Island,” May said. “Even though there are no ferries until July and cramming two people onto a Gyarados doesn’t exactly sound comfy.”
“But you know she wants to be released and doesn’t want to do anything for you,” Alan protested before looking expectantly up at Mark as if hoping for him to pass some sort of judgement. He looked awkwardly between the two of them.
“Um, well…” He thought it over for a few seconds and couldn’t help being reminded of the Letal issue, which really gave him only one option that would not make him the world’s biggest hypocrite. “It can’t hurt to ask, can it? I mean, if it means we’ll get to Polaryu earlier… We’ll just have to make it clear she has a choice, that’s all.”
Alan threw up his arms in hopeless defeat. “Fine. You ask her.”
May nodded emphatically, giving Alan a grudging glare as she threw the Pokéball in her hand. The large Water Pokémon emerged from the ball in a burst of white light. She looked slowly around, avoiding May’s gaze as she wagged softly up and down on the ocean waves.
“So,” May said after a few seconds of silence. “The sea. We’re here.”
“Can I leave now?” Lapras asked quietly.
“About that.” May took a deep breath as Lapras watched her warily. “See, we need to get to Champion Island as soon as possible in order to fight Polaryu, and to do that we kind of need you.”
“They don’t need you,” Alan chimed in.
“Well, not quite need, but it would be one hell of a lot more convenient.” May gave Alan another quick glare. “So, well, could you do us a favour and take us there?”
There was a long silence. Lapras looked down at the water below her. “And what happens when we get there?” she asked quietly. “Will you ask me to stay there to take you back? To help fight Polaryu? Will you ever really let me go?”
“That’s what I was trying to tell her,” Alan shot in.
“Look,” May responded, a touch of anger in her words even though she was obviously trying her best to keep it away, “you can say I’m too harsh or not personal enough or too competitive for your taste or whatever, but if I make a deal, I keep it. Don’t you dare accuse me of being something I’m not.”
“It’s up to you,” Mark said, feeling that hadn’t been made clear enough so far. “Whatever you want, we’ll go along with it.”
“But the easiest way for us to get to Polaryu is if you take us,” May added immediately.
Lapras stared out at the vast expanse of ocean stretching out to the southeast for a few seconds. Finally, she said, “All right, I will take you. On two conditions.”
May raised her eyebrows. “Go on.”
“First, I’m leaving the moment we’re there. I will never go into your Pokéball again.”
May nodded, her face neutral. “Okay.”
Lapras’s expression hardened. “And I’m still not fighting for you. If you want to catch a Pokémon, you will have to send out someone else to do the fighting, and if I need to defend myself, I will not go out of my way to keep you safe while I do.”
Lapras nodded, and May looked back at Alan, who didn’t seem very happy but nonetheless did not object. Mark’s gaze shifted between the two of them.
“So,” he said, “we’re going to Champion Island now, right?”
May nodded. “Yeah.”
Alan hesitated, looking uncomfortably at Lapras, but then sighed heavily. “Okay, then. You have my number, so you can call me and arrange a meet-up when the League is over… I guess.” He turned to Mark. “Right. So all that’s left is, well, Molzapart.”
“Oh, that.” Mark frowned; he had forgotten about the intention to have Molzapart psychically link to Alan and wasn’t quite sure how they were going to achieve it now, what with being in a town where they couldn’t exactly send him out. He’d transferred Molzapart to Alan in Scorpio City, but the linking apparently had to happen with him physically there. He looked around.
“Chaletwo,” he said, “would it be too risky to just go behind the store or something?”
“Hmm,” Chaletwo replied. “A bit, but I suppose it can’t be helped very easily. At least it won’t take too long, and you can try to stand in the line of sight.”
They walked behind the wooden house and faced the wall. Alan took out his Pokédex to retrieve Molzapart, then looked quickly around to make sure no one was looking before dropping the ball onto the ground. The shape of the giant bird emerged in front of them.
“All right, Molzapart,” Chaletwo said as the bird jerked his fiery head in Mark’s direction. “Link to Alan so you can be recalled, and then I’ll explain.”
Mark hadn’t actually realized that Molzapart didn’t yet know about their plans. A purple glow flashed in Molzapart’s eyes, and before Mark had even had the time to properly appreciate what the bird looked like again, Molzapart was just a translucent red shape disappearing into the Pokéball. In a way it made him sad. The legendaries theyd’d fought he had at least gotten a good look at (he forcibly pulled his mind away from the thought of Suicune which immediately popped into his head), but Molzapart and Chaletwo, the ones who were actually cooperating with him, were almost limited to the false memory of seeing them converse that was still burned into the back of his mind.
“What is this about?” said a telepathic voice deeper than Chaletwo’s. “It had better be temporary. My powers are already weakening.”
“The basic plan,” Chaletwo responded, “is that Mark and May are going to Champion Island while Alan will go around Ouen to look for Rainteicune.”
“Champion Island?” Molzapart asked skeptically. “Why?”
“There’s… a legendary there,” Chaletwo said. “And in order not to make themselves look suspicious, they have to participate in the League while they’re there.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Chaletwo replied in an irritated tone. “Alan will tell you about it if you must know.”
“Why is Alan involved? What about Ash? Who is this girl?”
Mark almost laughed. Molzapart really knew nothing that had happened since Mark’s resurrection. He could feel Chaletwo realizing it at the same time with a flash of awkward annoyance.
“Look, they’re assisting, all right? Alan will fill you in later. And before you ask, we’ve already gotten three legendaries out of the way.”
“Suicune and two others. Look, let’s not waste my energy having me explain it to you. All you need to know now is that if the two of you come across any legendaries other than Rainteicune, you should send some sort of general signal so I can hear it and quickly bring them over for the battle.”
“A general psychic signal?” Molzapart asked, his voice a little annoyed now. “That any of the legendaries can feel? Are you insane?”
“It’s not like they could read much into it.”
Mark had the fleeting thought that they must look extremely stupid right now, standing there gravely in perfect silence behind a store and staring at one another.
Molzapart let out a psychic sigh. “I suppose I will learn the details from Alan later. Is that all there is to the plan?”
“At the moment, yes.”
“Well, that’s reassuring.”
“Skip the sarcasm. Which of us is the one who actually knows what’s going on again?”
“Can’t we just get going?” May interrupted before Molzapart had the time to answer. “You’re wasting our time having a petty argument.”
There was a second of silence. Then, “She’s right. We should get going to Champion Island.”
“Let’s hope I never have to send that help call,” Molzapart replied disdainfully, and the legendaries said no more, apparently deciding they had no need for further goodbyes.
“So, Alan,” Mark said, looking at the older boy and somehow feeling a bit uncomfortable about him being about to leave them alone for a journey across the sea. “Goodbye, I guess. See you when the League is over.”
Alan nodded. “Goodbye. Take care.” He turned to May. “And at least try to be decent to Lapras before she leaves, okay?”
“Of course I’ll be decent to her,” May responded irritably as if the idea of her not being so was some sort of an absurdity. She turned to the giant Water Pokémon who was still waiting silently by the dock and then back to Alan again. “Bye. I’ll call you after the League.”
May stepped down onto the back of Lapras’s bumpy shell and sat down behind the Pokémon’s neck. Lapras gave her an uncomfortable glance, but just said, “Aren’t you coming too, Mark?”
He gave Alan a quick smile and climbed onto the Pokémon’s back himself, settling down behind May. “Goodbye, Alan,” he said again as Lapras turned around; he found himself losing his balance and had to quickly grab hold of some of the blunt spikes sticking out of the shell beside him.
“Goodbye, guys,” Alan called as the Pokémon began to move away. “Have fun.”
As Mark waved, May just stared angrily at the back of Lapras’s neck with her arms folded. Alan waved half-heartedly in return for a second and then turned towards the road back to Scorpio City without looking back.
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