The Quest for the Legends (ILCOEp)
Chapter 9: Mew's Escape
The old woman by the counter looked dully up as Mark walked past, but showed a great deal more interest upon noticing that his clothes were dripping with water.
“Why are you so wet?” she asked suspiciously.
“Fell in a pool,” Mark muttered absent-mindedly without looking at her. She didn’t get anything else out of him before he disappeared up the stairs.
Mark felt like he’d had an overdose of mysteries for one day as he took his wet clothes off. Charmeleon was technically May’s. Should he talk to Charmeleon about it, or just forget it and hope she would never find out? And to think that the guy who had originally received Charmander was the brother of Cleanwater City’s gym leader! And Rick was making more super-clones… he was abusing Mewtwo²… and Gyarados clearly had some serious issues with Suicune and used some weird mega attack of doom! This was so complicated!
Mark put on his blue jeans and white Pokéball T-shirt, sat down on the bed and sighed.
Why me? I just wanted a Pokémon journey, not a headache like this!
After sitting there and staring into the air for a couple of minutes, he stood up. He was just going to get that badge, and then he could think about the other stuff. Better get the gym over with.
And punish Rick in a battle for doing this to the legendary Pokémon.
Mark felt oddly confident now that he felt like he had to do this. He walked determinedly out towards the gym.
Rick shall pay.
The first junior trainer didn’t seem to be there when Mark arrived. A note on the door told challengers to go right through, with the key taped to the note. Mark pressed the button on the key and it slid out of the way. The other three junior trainers weren’t there either. He went straight through all of their arenas.
The young, blond-haired man from the lab was there, however. And so was May. He was hatefully handing her a coin-like object.
“Hi,” she said as she walked past Mark on the way out. He quickly whispered, “Wait for me at the Pokémon Center, I seriously need to have a word with you. It’s about your Quilava.”
She looked puzzled, but nodded and walked outside.
“Hello,” Rick said dryly. “Another challenger?”
Mark nodded, turning to the gym leader.
“How many Pokémon do you have?” Rick asked.
“Four,” said Mark.
“Four on four it is, then,” said Rick. “I choose…”
He reached down to his Pokéball belt, with six Clone Balls attached to it, took one and maximized it. He grinned.
“…Articuno.” Rick threw the ball powerfully forward. It popped open in mid-air, releasing a second Articuno clone. This one seemed all the more aggressive; it glared at Mark with ruby red eyes, scratching the air with its talons as if to show its power.
The red lizard emerged from bright white light.
“Flamethrower,” Mark ordered.
“Ice Beam!” Rick countered quickly. Charmeleon’s blast of fire met with an elegant beam of ice crystals from the sky blue bird. Where they met, water started showering down into the pool.
“Come on, Charmeleon,” Mark muttered, clenching his fist. The lizard looked back at him and then suddenly, without warning, stopped breathing flames and leapt out of the way. Articuno’s Ice Beam smashed into the ground as Charmeleon fired another Flamethrower from directly below the bird. The flames enveloped the legendary and Articuno fell, its wings on fire, into the pool, where the flames went out. Rick recalled the Pokémon, his face expressionless. He replaced the Clone Ball on his belt.
“The battle isn’t over yet,” he said coldly.
Rick paused for a second, but finally took another ball off his Pokéball belt.
“Ho-Oh, show him not to mess with legendaries,” he growled.
Rick sent out a Ho-Oh, even larger than the one the junior trainer had. It flapped its multicolored wings and took off.
“Earthquake.” Rick’s voice was icy; he clearly did not like losing the first round.
“Charmeleon, return!” Mark shouted, knowing it was the wisest thing to do. “Gyarados, go!”
Ho-Oh slammed into the ground just as Gyarados materialized in the pool, but being in the water, the sea monster was not affected.
“Dragon Rage!” Mark roared. Gyarados released a blast of dragon flames at the giant bird. It screeched, trying to retain its balance. The blue dragon blasted more crimson fire at the legendary, and it gave up with a final cry, landing gracefully on the floor and spreading out its wings before collapsing.
Rick gritted his teeth, recalling Ho-Oh.
“Raikou, show him!” he snarled, tossing the third Clone Ball into the arena. “Bring that thing down with a Thunderbolt!”
The tiger-like Pokémon leapt out of the Pokéball in mid-air, roaring. Electricity crackled in its fur, and before Mark had the sense to do anything, a blast of lightning was fired at Gyarados. He roared in pain and then fell down motionless. Mark seemed to remember reading that Gyarados were extremely vulnerable to electricity as he recalled the sea monster.
Mark nervously took out Sandshrew’s ball.
“Go! Earthquake!” he said quickly as he threw the Pokéball. Sandshrew posed in mid-air and came down hard on the ground, causing the floor to ripple. Earthquake was an amazingly complicated attack; a human who got caught in the waves of the ground would merely feel a small tickle, but for the Legendary Beast of Thunder on the other side of the arena, it was in fact devastating, disrupting the delicate balance between the positively and negatively charged ions in the Electric Pokémon’s body. Raikou growled, trembling a bit.
“Another Earthquake!” Mark commanded. Sandshrew rose to his hind legs, preparing to perform the attack again.
“Quick Attack!” Rick hissed. Raikou leaned back and then leapt forward at undetectable speed, striking Sandshrew hard. He lost his balance, and the tiger then attempted to sink its fangs into the little Pokémon’s body, but Sandshrew acted quickly of his own accord and stung the legendary’s paw with one of his claws, injecting poison through it into the tiger’s blood. It howled in pain, staggering backwards, and then Sandshrew had the chance to unleash a second Earthquake attack. Raikou weakly let out some small sparks and then fainted.
Rick swore loudly, recalling the tiger.
“Very well… go, Mew!”
Out of the ball came a light pink, furred little creature. The hind legs were much longer than the tiny front paws; its long, threadlike tail ended in an oval shape. Big, stubby ears rested on a catlike head with two big, sapphire blue eyes.
The previous legendary clones had had absolutely emotionless eyes, like robots made to do what they were told, save for Mewtwo²’s resistance. But Mew was different. The eyes seemed somehow faded, half-closed, and above all horribly sad. The Pokémon looked limp.
“Surf,” Rick hissed. Mew’s weary eyes glowed deep blue and the water in the pool started rising in a great wave which crashed upon Sandshrew with terrible force, but flowed neatly past Mark on both sides. Slowly the water drained back into the pool, and Sandshrew was left soaked and shivering.
“Shrew…” he said weakly before losing consciousness.
Mark hesitated. His determination from before was fading, and he only had Eevee left.
Oh, come on, maybe I’m being overprotective, he thought. Jeesh, I’m turning into Mom…
“Go, Eevee!” he yelled, throwing the ball. The little brown creature materialized and looked at Mew with his big brown eyes.
“Eevee, Return,” Mark said anxiously. Eevee looked at Mew for a second, but then turned back to Mark.
“Ee… vee,” he said. It took a bit of time for Mark to realize that this was the first clearly understandable thing that Eevee said. He was saying that he didn’t want to attack Mew because it was so sad.
“Oh, Eevee, please, there’s nothing we can do about that!” Mark said desperately. Eevee just shook his head.
“Vee?” he said, stepping a bit forward towards the legendary.
“Thunderbolt!” Rick spat. Mew didn’t react to it at all, and was instead watching Eevee.
“Darn it, Psychic! Something! Attack, you stupid thing!”
“Mew…” said the Pokémon weakly. Eevee tilted his head curiously and walked farther up to the pink creature. He carefully laid a paw on its shoulder.
“Eevee?” he asked. Slowly, he started glowing with a pink aura – the positive energy that Return was made of. Suddenly, Mew’s eyes opened wide. Then it dropped down, unconscious.
Eevee jumped away with a shriek, clearly very confused about what had happened. He carefully poked the pink Pokémon’s body; it didn’t move.
Rick turned very pale. He slowly took out the Clone Ball, recalled the Mew into it and started muttering to the ball.
“You… there’s a curse on you… I’ve lost every single battle I’ve used you in… this is all one of your devilish little tricks… you’re going to bring me down…”
Suddenly, Rick turned to Mark.
“Catch,” he said, throwing the ball at him. Mark caught it.
“Huh?” he asked, confused, staring at the orb in his hands.
“Take it away! The devil, just take it!”
“Don’t you want it?” Rick asked in a low growl. Mark looked open-mouthed at the ball. He was almost going to say no, he couldn’t accept something like this, but then he remembered the sad expression on Mew throughout the battle. He couldn’t leave it here.
Rick’s eyes glinted.
“Good boy. Your badge.”
He walked firmly up to Mark and dropped a small silver coin into his hand. Mark examined it. It had an eye engraved in the middle, but it was surrounded by a raindrop, a bolt of lightning, a flame and a leaf. The back of it said “Element Badge”. Mark pinned it to his T-shirt.
“Leave,” Rick said icily. Mark just went through the side door, pocketing Mew’s Clone Ball. The feeling was odd, and not at all what he had imagined it would be to win a badge.
He would have to go to the Pokémon Center and get Mew healed, but of course he couldn’t hand Nurse Joy a Clone Ball. She’d think he had stolen it.
What he was therefore going to do first was a so-called ‘inter-Pokéball transfer’. It could be done at any Pokémon Center using the trading machine. It was basically exactly like trading, except that both of the Pokéballs were owned by the same person and one of them was empty. Afterwards, the Pokéball the Pokémon used to be in would be unusable unless one went and got it recharged for a fee, which was only slightly cheaper than buying a new ball, so along with having to waste another Pokéball to put the Pokémon in, it usually didn’t pay off. Therefore, trainers rarely did the transfer unless they had a very special reason to.
But Mark did, and therefore he walked up to the trading machine in the corner of the Pokémon Center. He placed Mew’s Clone Ball under one of the tubes after making sure nobody was watching, and then one of his normal Pokéballs at the other end. He set the machine to inter-Pokéball transfer mode, and the two balls got sucked up into the metallic tubes. The great screen in the middle of it showed Mew’s silhouette traveling across the screen, and Mark did his best to stand in the way so nobody could see it. Finally, both balls dropped down again.
He picked up the Clone Ball, minimized it and put it in his pocket. He didn’t know why he felt the need to keep an unusable brainwashing Pokéball, but he just did. Then he took a deep breath and picked up the other Pokéball, now holding Mew.
He walked over to Nurse Joy, trying to look normal, and gave her the Pokéballs.
“Mostly just exhausted,” he said. The nurse nodded, placing the Pokéballs on a tray and putting it into the full-size equivalent of a Pocket Healer. After a few beeps were heard, she took them out again and handed them to Mark.
“We hope to see you again,” she said, smiling.
Mark nodded. Just then, May noticed him and walked up to him. He remembered what he had said to her before the battle, and cursed silently. He didn’t feel like going into these explanations now, but then again they would be better over with.
“What about my Quilava?” she asked, getting straight to the point.
“Well, it’s a long story,” Mark began, “and I… can’t really tell it around all these people.”
“Well, I’m going fishing for Pokémon at the Lake of Purity. Why don’t you just join me and we’ll discuss that on the way?”
“Sure,” said Mark, shrugging. They walked out of the Pokémon Center and headed towards the road.
“You’re telling me Rick is making more super-clones?”
“And that the lying little idiot with my Quilava is his brother?”
Mark nodded. “And the strange Pikachu he had, it was actually a Pikatwo, a Pikachu super-clone.”
“Well, I’ll be damned,” she just said.
Mark was still pondering over whether to tell her about Charmeleon, but decided not to. They were now at the lake, and May was about to cast out the line.
Suddenly, Mark caught a glimpse of something light blue.
“What was that?”
“What?” May asked.
“I think I saw… never mind.”
“No, what?” asked May eagerly.
“I think there was a Dratini there,” Mark said, still staring at the same spot.
“Rubbish,” said May, while she was glaringly obviously looking around for it too.
May threw the rod forward. A small creature dove back under the surface.
“Darn it!” she hissed.
“Hey, I saw it first!” Mark said.
“Then I’m the one who tries to catch it!”
“That’s not in any official rules!”
A small head poked out of the surface. It was pale blue with cute frills at the sides, two adorable eyes watching the two kids argue with interest, and a white muzzle.
Mark and May both took out Pokéballs. May threw it first, but missed by far and the Pokéball sank into the lake. Mark accidentally dropped his because he was hurrying so much, and it rolled into the water, where it started sinking too. The Dratini dove down again. Mark could see his Pokéball come to a halt when it reached the bottom. After a few suspenseful seconds, the Dratini swam forward to examine it, poked a little too far, and was dissolved into red energy that was drawn into the ball.
Mark stared at it for a second, and then prepared to jump in.
“Mark, you are being an absolute idiot,” May said clearly and pronouncedly, grabbing the back of his T-shirt. “Do you think you can just dive in there? You may see the bottom, but this is the second-deepest lake in all of Ouen, for crying out loud.”
It wasn’t exactly because of her that Mark decided to rethink this plan. It was more because he already got his other clothes wet. But at the very least, he calmed down.
“Now, look here,” May began. “I’ve got a magnet, and I’ve got a fishing rod. We can use them to get that Dratini out of the water. But both of them are mine, and it was just luck that Dratini went into your Pokéball and not mine. So…”
“You’re going to take my Dratini?” Mark asked loudly. “How about no?”
“You have no choice,” she said, smirking as she drew a small magnet out of her pocket and attached it to the end of the line. She carefully lowered it down while Mark gritted his teeth.
“Larvii,” came a little voice. Mark gaped.
The owner of the voice was a small, green Pokémon with a triangular-shaped head. It had a small mouth, red eyes with black markings just below them, a red diamond shape on its belly and an odd, bundle-like tail.
“Is everything full of almost-legendary Pokémon here today?”
May wheeled around, releasing the rod.
“Whoa! That’s a Larvitar!”
“Oh, really?” said Mark sarcastically, grabbing the rod while he had the chance and reeling in the Pokéball quickly. Meanwhile, May threw one of her Pokéballs at the Larvitar. Mark didn’t bother seeing it wobble; he just hurried away so she wouldn’t try to take Dratini too. Judging from May’s cry of “YESSS!!”, she had caught it.
Mark was now starting to think about Mew again. He felt a need to talk to it, but the hotel room was the only safe place to do so.
He ran down the road back to Cleanwater, rushed into the hotel and saw the TV on, not paying much attention to it.
“And finally, today, around two thousand captive-bred Dratini, Larvitar and Bagon were released into the wild all around the world.”
Mark abruptly stopped to listen. Apparently, it was part of a project to help these highly endangered species survive.
“Well, that explains it,” Mark muttered to himself. Suddenly his capture wasn’t as significant, but it still felt as great.
He remembered what he was at the hotel for, went up the stairs to his room, closed the door carefully, sat down on the bed and slowly took Mew’s Pokéball out.
“Go… Mew.” Mark dropped the ball down to the floor, the two halves separated, and a sphere of white energy from within took shape into the pinkish-white, catlike creature.
Mark sat completely still. After Mew had stared at him for a while, the Pokémon sat down beside him, wrapping its long tail around him in what appeared to be a greeting of some sort.
“What happened?” asked the legendary quietly without looking at him, calmly like it was merely asking about the time.
“Well, which parts do you know?” Mark replied, shrugging.
“Three years in darkness, always exhausted, like a puppet, only occasionally thinking clearly, but having no choice but to let my consciousness drift away to momentarily ease the pain…”
Mew’s deep, sapphire blue eyes looked into Mark’s.
“Now, I am here, once again blessed with freedom.”
It took a bit of time for this to sink in.
“Wait – you’re not a clone?”
“No,” said Mew simply. “Had I known no life outside of being forced into obedience and fighting mindlessly all day long, I would have accepted it. Like the others. Their minds know nothing else. Those will only fight back who know there is something worth fighting for.”
“What about Mewtwo²?” Mark asked quietly.
“He is powerful… that allows him to think clearer. They have been strengthening the Clone Ball, but it’s too late once he has felt himself being robbed of his free will and thought. I can sense his sorrow at this very moment.”
Mark was quiet for a long while, but then muttered: “That’s so… sad.”
Mew nodded slowly. “Sad indeed, but there is no way for us to help. I am very fortunate, which brings us back to the original question.”
“Rick gave your Pokéball to me, muttering something about there being a curse on you.” Mark paused, then added: “Why?”
“He does not realize our feelings. I have fought back; I have weakened my attacks as I could and done my best not to give him the pleasure of winning. So far I have succeeded…”
There was a short silence. The legendary Pokémon sighed deeply. “We shall see what destiny has in store for him.”
“What will you do now?” Mark asked quietly.
“I will go home. I used to reside deep inside Rainbow Woods before he came.”
Mark stood slowly up and opened the balcony door. No words were necessary. Mew just nodded, looked at him with those bright blue eyes, and flew outside.
“Maybe I’ll see you… you-know-where,” Mark called. Mew gave a small nod, then shot up towards the sky.
On the street below, a bearded man wearing a brown hat and a trench coat jerked his head upwards.
“Did you see that?” he whispered to the Pokémon beside him. It nodded slowly.
“And did you see the boy?”
Another nod. The man’s gaze flickered a bit.
“And did you hear what he said?”
He didn’t wait for an answer. A weird smile spread across his face.
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