The Quest for the Legends (ILCOEp)
Chapter 8: The Master of the Clones
“Do you mind if we just have a one-on-one?”
Mark asked this question nervously to the junior trainer wearing all the neon green. He was still clearly in a very bad mood, but nodded curtly.
A huge creature burst out of the Pokéball. Its overall shape was rather dog-like, but the gleaming orange fur with jet-black stripes looked more like a tiger. It shook back its cream-colored mane, letting out an ear-splitting roar as it swished a bushy tail. Its huge black claws dug into the floor as it snarled towards Mark.
“Uh… is Arcanine a legendary?” Mark asked, confused.
“It isn’t, but it was considered one in ancient times,” said the junior trainer simply. “Let’s just get this over with.”
Mark hesitated, but then took out Gyarados’s ball. It was better to be safe than sorry.
“Go!” he yelled. The sea monster formed into the pool, letting out an even louder roar. Even the Arcanine appeared to flinch for a second, but then it started growling again.
“Dragon Rage,” Mark just said.
Gyarados threw his head forward, blasting out dark flames. The Arcanine leapt skillfully out of the way and countered by leaning down low for a second and then leaping at Gyarados at incredible, unavoidable speed. The sea serpent roared in pain, darting forward and grabbing Arcanine’s tail in his mouth. The giant canine froze for a second; then it swung around and fired a great jet of fire from its mouth into Gyarados’s face. He retaliated with another blast of dragon flames, which enveloped the Arcanine. The great dog howled in pain, turned to Gyarados again and attempted to release another cloud of flames, failing. Then with a final yelp, it lost its balance and its whole majestic shape dropped down to the floor, defeated.
“Arcanine, return,” said the trainer, the dog Pokémon dissolving into red energy and being sucked into the Pokéball. “Go on.”
Mark nodded, walking across the arena to the nurse, and after getting his Pokémon healed, through the door to the purple-haired trainer.
“You back?” he asked enthusiastically. “Great! Go, Raikou!”
Mark grinned. “Go, Sandshrew!”
The armadillo Pokémon didn’t curl up upon entering the battle this time. His eyes fixed on Raikou, he awaited the order he knew he would get…
The junior trainer’s eyes widened in surprise as Sandshrew rose to his hind legs. Slamming back into the ground, the small Pokémon made the floor ripple like liquid. The attack was unavoidable; Raikou jumped over one wave but landed just as the next one struck. As the floor rippled under the legendary’s paws, it shivered and released some electric sparks.
Sandshrew rose up for the second time, preparing to perform the attack again, but the junior trainer quickly countered: “Raikou, Crunch!”
Immediately, the tiger leapt forward, grabbing Sandshrew in its mouth like the other time and starting to squeeze.
“Scratch!” Mark ordered desperately. The small Pokémon dug its claws into Raikou’s jaw, and the tiger released him with a pained roar. Sandshrew looked rather weak and battered as he stood on his hind legs again, preparing for a final Earthquake. As he smashed his paws into the ground, the floor rippled, and Raikou, with a weak “Raiii”, lost its balance and collapsed.
“Shrew,” said the armadillo wearily, yet with a hint of pride. He had worked hard enough for now; Mark recalled him.
“Go, Entei!” yelled the trainer, hurling forward the black and red ball. A reddish-brown, bulky, lion-like Pokémon burst out of the Pokéball with a deep, loud roar. A star shape surrounded its face, yellow at the top, white at the bottom and red at the sides. A grayish-white cloak that reminded Mark of a cloud or smoke kept changing its form on the Pokémon’s back. It was Mark’s favorite out of the Legendary Beasts of Johto.
He observed Entei while he thought about which Pokémon to choose. Entei’s eyes looked back at him, painfully robotically. Mark bit his lip; he was growing to despise that Rick person before even seeing him, just for doing that to legendary Pokémon. Even if they were clones, it was wrong...
“Go, Gyarados!” he said, throwing the ball that held the sea monster. Gyarados formed with his usual opening roar. Entei started roaring back at him. For a few seconds the battle was a roaring contest between the two Pokémon; then Entei’s trainer shouted: “Sunny Day!”
The lion lifted its head towards the dome roof and closed its eyes in deep concentration. The sun appeared to get clearer and hotter.
“Dragon Rage!” Mark commanded. The trainer gasped; Gyarados formed crimson flames deep in his throat and fired them at the lion. Entei leapt to the side, dodging the attack easily.
“Entei, Flamethrower!” roared the junior trainer. The legendary inhaled deeply and sent a cloud of flames towards the sea monster. Gyarados quickly countered with another Dragon Rage. Mark knew dragon flames were stronger than normal flames, but seeing as Entei was a Fire Pokémon, he wasn’t sure Gyarados would claim victory now.
He watched worriedly. The blasts still just met in the middle where the flames mixed and formed a huge orb of fire. The two Pokémon did their best to keep up the attack, and neither appeared to be stronger than the other.
But Gyarados was much higher-leveled than his opponent, and after a few seconds, Entei had to breathe. This gave Gyarados the chance to engulf the lion in dragon flames. Another deep roar like the one Entei had started the battle with sounded; when the fire cleared, Entei lay on the ground, defeated.
“Return,” said the junior trainer disappointedly. “Go, Suicune!”
Mark held his breath as the legendary he had seen the night before at the Lake of Purity appeared out of the ball. The slender blue body was the exact same, as was the unique crystal on its head and the white, rippling ribbons. But the expression was not. Even though he had only seen Suicune at a distance, he was positive that the eyes hadn’t been so robotically blank.
Gyarados’s eyes, however, were very much filled with emotion. He stared at the legendary with a mix of anger and loathing.
“Why?” he growled. Suicune, of course, was a brainwashed clone and therefore showed no reaction except assuming a fighting stance. The purple-haired trainer stared at Gyarados, puzzled.
“It… it can talk?” he asked, for the first time getting distracted from the battle. Gyarados paid no attention to this comment; he just closed his eyes hatefully in concentration.
What happened now was amazing. The dark blue of Gyarados’ armor faded into gray. When he had turned completely grayscale, he suddenly opened his eyes with an ear-splitting roar, and two narrow, bright red beams of energy shot from his eyeballs at Suicune. The legendary staggered backwards, looking to be in serious pain, started to sweat uncontrollably and finally fell unconscious to the floor with a weak “Cune…”
The junior trainer’s jaw dropped.
“What the heck was that?” he breathed in disbelief.
“I… I don’t know,” said Mark, just as stunned. Gyarados turned his back at the legendary and Mark sensed he wasn’t wishing to talk about reasons for anything.
“Well… looks like you won,” said the trainer, staring at the fallen beast. A pool of water was forming around the place where Suicune lay.
The trainer took out one of those keys and opened the door as Mark recalled Gyarados.
Mark nodded and went through the door as the trainer recalled Suicune. The nurse healed Mark’s Pokémon in the Pocket Healer.
The next arena looked identical to the other two, but the trainer there was a little boy wearing a very awkward, formal-looking suit. He ran his fingers slowly through his blond hair.
“Hi,” he greeted dryly. “You here for a battle? I’m warning you – it won’t be easy. Two on two.”
The boy took a minimized Pokéball from inside his suit, maximized it and threw it forward.
What came out of the Pokéball was absolutely huge. It was a gigantic, crimson bird, almost three times as tall as the boy. It stood on big, pitch-black talons and had peculiar, mask-like markings around its eyes. The Pokémon opened its crooked beak and let out a majestic, fierce cry. Then suddenly, it pointed its head upwards, the golden, crown-like crest on its head swaying back, and stretched out its broad, colorful wings, taking off into the air.
Mark considered his options, knowing that he was doing exceptionally well against this gym just because he knew so much about the legendaries. Ho-Oh was a Fire Pokémon, but capable of using very varied attacks. It would be a risk, but Mark plucked Gyarados’s ball off his Pokéball belt.
“GO!” he shouted. The sea monster emerged into the pool with his usual opening roar.
“Dragon Rage!” Mark ordered quickly, not wanting to risk an Electric attack making contact with Gyarados.
“Sunny Day,” said the boy calmly. Ho-Oh closed its eyes and took on a fiery glow as the sunlight shining through the dome intensified greatly. Mark shielded his eyes from the light with his hand. Gyarados breathed out a blast of crimson flames at the rainbow-colored bird and Ho-oh screeched in pain.
“And now, Solarbeam!” commanded the boy. Ho-Oh obeyed, forming an orb of sunlight in its beak and firing a white-hot beam of light at Gyarados. He roared as the beam struck him, leaving a burn mark on one of the segments of his body. He countered with another Dragon Rage, which turned out to be too much even for the legendary; Ho-Oh let out a weak cry and then landed exhaustedly on the floor.
“Return,” said the trainer disappointedly. “Lugia, do it!”
Mark felt his stomach twitch upon hearing the name of his favorite Pokémon of all; he felt both excited to see it and very pained to know that he’d just see a clone. The red and black Pokéball opened in mid-air, releasing the Pokémon it held.
If Ho-Oh was huge, Mark didn’t know what Lugia was. The bright white draconic creature stood on powerful legs, stretching its somewhat hand-like, feathered wings out to a wingspan of what looked like almost six meters. Combined with the long neck, the Pokémon itself was probably over five meters tall. Growing back from the eyes were the two black spikes that Mark had always loved the most about this legendary.
“Gyarados, Dragon Rage!” Mark ordered quickly. Gyarados wouldn’t last long, especially not after having been hit with that Solarbeam previously, but at least he’d be able to dish out some damage with the most powerful attack on his whole team.
Lugia started glowing with a bright blue aura as Gyarados charged dragon flames in his mouth. The sea monster unleashed the attack a moment before the legendary; Lugia got hit hard by the flames, but then fired a blue blast of psychic energy at Gyarados. He roared in pain and collapsed weakly.
“Return,” Mark muttered. He considered his possibilities. Despite what some people thought, Lugia was a Psychic Pokémon rather than a Water or Dragon one, so Charmeleon wouldn’t be at a disadvantage. With it this sunny, the lizard should win.
Mark made his decision and grabbed the Pokéball with his hand.
Mark’s evolved Pokémon came out. He appeared to flinch slightly at the sight of Lugia’s size, but quickly came back to his senses.
“Flamethrower!” Mark blurted out.
“Hyper Beam!” the trainer said, gritting his teeth.
Lugia started charging a white orb of energy in its mouth.
“No, wait, Charmeleon…”
Lugia threw its head backwards before firing the beam.
Charmeleon jumped swiftly out of the way, just before a bright white beam smashed into the floor just where he had been. Some of the floor seemed to melt.
“Flamethrower, now!” Mark ordered. Lugia was worn-out after using all of its energy in a Hyper Beam and couldn’t counter when Charmeleon breathed a tongue of flames towards it. With a loud cry of pain, Lugia collapsed.
“NO!” shouted the boy. He recalled Lugia disdainfully.
“Go on, then,” he muttered, opening the door. Mark went through it and healed his Pokémon nervously. The previous match had been a close call.
This arena was also identical to the previous ones. The trainer wore a lab coat and glasses and had long, black hair.
“You’re going down,” he said confidently. “One on one. Go, Mewtwo²!”
“Mew… what?” Mark questioned. The Pokéball opened to reveal a strange Pokémon.
It was a light purplish blue all over. Its head was somewhat catlike with two horns pointing straight upwards in place of ears, but the overall shape was slightly humanoid. The whole body was so unnaturally thin, though, that Mark wondered if it had ever eaten a single morsel. He could count the ribs under the furred skin, and the long arms and legs had two bony fingers or toes each. Its eyes were small, white and had no pupils. Finally, absolutely contrasting with the weakish appearance of its body, it had a very long, muscular, dark blue tail ending in a round shape.
It suddenly dawned on to Mark what it was. It was Rick’s experimental super-clone, but he had in fact ‘cheated’ – he made a super-clone of a super-clone. Super-clone².
“Go, Gyarados,” Mark said nervously, sensing that this would be a difficult battle. The blue sea monster emerged from the Pokéball into the pool. Gyarados let out his battle roar.
“What is my task?” said Mewtwo²’s voice weakly inside Mark’s head. He couldn’t help feeling horribly sorry for it.
“Fight,” the scientist ordered. He didn’t need to say anything else. Mewtwo² started glowing bright blue as the same glow took over Gyarados’ shape.
“Gyarados, Dragon Rage!” Mark commanded desperately, but Gyarados couldn’t do anything that wasn’t Mewtwo²’s will now. Slowly, he rose up into the air, drawing closer to the ceiling.
“No,” said the weak telepathic voice as Mewtwo²’s glow started fading and Gyarados got lowered back towards the pool. “I… don’t… want…” Mark saw the clone’s body starting to sweat, like it was making a great effort.
“Fight,” the scientist growled again. It was like Mewtwo² was zapped with electricity or something; its body went stiff for a second, but then it started glowing blue again. At that very moment, Gyarados unleashed a blast of crimson fire which enveloped Mewtwo². A telepathic scream of pain could be heard; then the clone was left dazed and dropped down, fainted. Mark felt a twinge of guilt.
“Return,” muttered the scientist. “Face Rick, kid,” he then said, reaching into his pocket and taking out the key to the Pokéball door. It opened slowly.
Mark went through the door and got his Pokémon healed, noticing that this arena was about double the size of the previous four. But the gym leader was nowhere to be seen.
“Rick went to the basement,” the nurse explained. “You’ll just wait here, won’t you? I need to go now.”
Mark nodded, and the nurse hurried out through a side door.
Mark sat down on a bench. The basement? Where was the basement? What was Rick doing there?
He stood up, walking backwards from the wall and looking if he saw a door somewhere. His foot slipped and he was sent flying into the pool.
Mark’s first thought was that he’d have to change his clothes. The second thought was that this pool was stupidly deep. The third was “What’s that hole in the wall doing there?” The fourth was that he’d better get out of the pool.
He swam to the bank and climbed up. He looked around, and, seeing no signs of Rick, he sent Gyarados out into the pool.
The sea monster looked around, seeing no opponent, and turned back to Mark.
“Could you swim down there and see what this hole in the wall is for?” Mark asked. Gyarados just nodded and dived down. Mark saw him disappear through the hole. After a few minutes, during which Mark wondered why he was being so nosy, the monster returned.
“It’s very interesting, actually,” Gyarados stated. “It’s a pretty long tunnel, but it ends where you go a bit up, and it’s got steps up, like you can empty the pool and then walk the whole way. There’s a red room there. I couldn’t go in so I didn’t see much.”
“A red room?” Mark questioned blankly. “Emptying the pool?”
“Yeah, you can probably empty it somehow. Try the light switches over there.” Gyarados jerked his head towards the wall, which had six switches on it in two columns of three.
Mark walked over there, not sure why he was doing this but driven on by curiosity.
The switches weren’t marked. He pressed the first one and the lights went out. He quickly pressed it again, but nothing happened. He tried it again a few times, but then tried the second switch. The boxes the trainers were supposed to stand in got illuminated. Nothing happened when he pressed it again, either. He tried the third one and Gyarados got lit up too. He growled, screwing his eyes shut.
“I don’t like this light, Mark,” he said.
“Sorry, I can’t turn anything off here,” Mark apologized, attempting to press this button again. The fourth switch, to Mark’s great relief, put the lights back to normal. Pressing the fifth one, he wasn’t really expecting anything interesting to happen, but with a great noise, a drain opened at the bottom of the pool and the water level started lowering.
“You’d better recall me before it empties,” Gyarados commented. Mark nodded, holding forward the Pokéball as it dissolved Gyarados into red energy. The pool took a bit of time to empty, but it was way too deep for Mark to get to the bottom.
He hopelessly tried the sixth switch, and small handles appeared out of the wall of the pool, forming a ladder.
Mark shrugged and went down, wondering what Rick would do if he came back. He nervously entered the tunnel and walked through it. It was rather long, but in the end he came to another, short staircase. He climbed up, ending in, as Gyarados had said, a room lit by red lights. A see-through door led to another red room; it was open.
He curiously went in, but then heard voices. He quickly ducked behind a low wall. Through the red glass on top of it, he watched two scientists walk into the room, which he now had the time to examine.
It was full of glass tanks containing a brown liquid. Inside them floated Pokémon embryos, some very Pokémon-like, others just creepy, shapeless forms at the early stages. Each tank had a screen and a keyboard on it. Odd, pyramid-shaped devices of different sizes were lined along the walls. Mark realized he was in Rick’s cloning lab.
One of the scientists walked to a tank containing what looked somewhat like a Caterpie. The other one walked to one that was farther away so Mark didn’t see what was in it.
“Hey, Peter,” the nearer one called, “I think it’s ready.”
The Peter guy came and peered at the Caterpie.
“Yeah, looks pretty good,” he agreed. “I’ve got to tend to mine, though.” He walked back to his tank, and the one with the Caterpie did something on the computer and then the brown liquid started flowing out. The Caterpie was left in the tank and slowly opened an eye.
“Cater…” it squeaked. “Cater… two!” Mark suddenly understood what was going on – they were making more super-clones, ones that Rick didn’t have a license for. He hardly dared to breathe.
The scientist pressed a button and the tank opened with a low hiss. He picked up the Catertwo, smiling.
“What a beauty!” he said proudly. Peter came holding a Pikachu super-clone – it had blue balls on its ears, blue pawpads, long blue claws and a threadlike, jagged tail with a blue triangle at the end. It looked menacingly at Catertwo and hissed, baring its sharp fangs.
“Mine’s pretty good too,” Peter said. The other one examined the Pikatwo.
“Well, nothing beats Rick’s. You know, the one he gave to Taylor,” he commented.
“Ah, well, that doesn’t count,” said Peter. “Rick’s the cloning master.”
“Yeah, but seriously…” said the other one, lowering his voice, “I’ve got to say, Rick’s spoiling the kid. If my little brother came to me and said the Charmander he got as a starter was too weak and he wanted a clone, I’d tell him to shut up and clone one himself. But nooo, of course Rick just gives him the best clone we’ve ever made, and I heard he’s going to give him even more! And then Taylor lost his Charmander and got some level 14 Quilava out of nowhere, just to keep it in the Pokéball all day without training it at all! And I mean, what’s Rick thinking, giving him super-clones? Anybody at all can see them! This is madness, somebody will catch him one day if he keeps this up...”
The scientist stopped abruptly upon seeing a blond-haired, handsome man of around twenty-five enter from a side room, who Mark assumed was Rick.
“Hey, Peter, Jimmy, do you know who was playing around with the switches?” he asked worriedly.
“Well, nobody entered, at least,” said Jimmy. “We’d have noticed.”
“That’s good. Let’s just hope it was some random kid.” Rick smiled faintly, but walked back to the room. In the doorway, he turned around again. “Oh… Lee says Mewtwo² is resisting the Clone Ball again. We’ve got to make a new model of the ball.”
The two scientists nodded.
“Let’s go evolve these beauties, now,” said Peter happily and they walked over to the pyramid-shaped machines near the walls. Mark saw his chance; he quickly glanced at the door he came through, but the entrance room was filling with water again. Mark assumed that Rick was refilling the pool. He looked around the room and eyed a staircase leading further down. Not seeing any other possible exit, he crawled silently towards it.
It led to a long corridor containing nothing but posters on the walls with ideas of new super-clones. Mark took a quick look at each of them, but didn’t have the time to read any properly. At the end of the corridor there was a ladder; Mark climbed up and hit his head on something hard. He discovered it was a trapdoor. Lifting it carefully up and climbing through, he discovered he was in the seemingly empty entrance room to the gym itself.
He shivered, remembering that his clothes were still wet, and rushed to the hotel, thinking about this experience.
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