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Mark woke up the next morning, feeling like he hadn’t slept at all. He didn’t remember much of his dreams, except that they had all included some sort of a tweaked version of something that had happened the day before. Except the ones with the yellow eyes, he wasn’t sure where that came from.
He blinked, staring at the ceiling as he still lay in the bed. What would he do today…
Mark smiled at his own stupidity when he realized the obvious: he hadn’t challenged the official Pokémon Gym of Alumine yet.
He sat up and blinked some more. His Pokémon were still asleep. He got dressed quietly and recalled them without waking them up.
After breakfast, he headed straight towards the magnificent, shiny building. He had heard that the Gym Leader used shine to his advantage, and suddenly started getting a bit nervous. He had been battling the previous Gym Leader yesterday! This was a whole new one, most likely with considerably stronger Pokémon.
He was pretty confident that the Gym Leader had to possess at least one Skarmory. Living in this town, it seemed absolutely absurd for a Gym Leader not to have one, especially seeing as the Gym was constructed out of their feathers.
And Steel types like Skarmory were resistant to… a lot of things, if Mark remembered correctly. Most physical moves, at the very least, and a lot of special ones too. But they were definitely weak to Fire, meaning Charmeleon would be at an advantage.
Eevee, however, would be toast. He could only perform Return and probably Tackle, Tail Whip and stuff like that. Nothing that would ever harm a Steel-type to any extent.
Sandshrew would have a very hard time against a Skarmory, too; his Earthquake would not affect a bird Pokémon, and aside from that he could only scratch and use Poison Sting, which Mark believed was completely ineffective on Steel Pokémon.
Gyarados and Dratini’s dragon flames wouldn’t harm a Skarmory much either; Steel was the only type that resisted Dragon moves. As far as Mark knew, Gyarados didn’t know any Water attacks. Maybe some Normal ones, but definitely not Water ones. Not Dratini either.
And Scyther – well, Mark didn’t know much about his strength exactly…
He whipped out his Kyogre-colored Pokédex and pointed it at the mantis’s Pokéball.
“Scyther – mantis Pokémon. Scyther is a highly dangerous Pokémon due to the sharp scythes it uses for hunting. It has been overhunted ever since the discovery of its Steel-type evolution, Scizor, and their numbers are decreasing rapidly,” said the electronic voice. Mark selected the option to view the Pokémon’s stats.
His jaw dropped.
Level 42? he thought. That’s insane! The rest of my Pokémon are just somewhere around level 20!
But level 42 or not, Scyther in general weren’t very fond of attacks that didn’t involve their scythes in some way or another. However sharp they might be, they would never be able to leave as much as a scratch on a Skarmory’s feathers.
Mark stopped in his tracks. He was lucky he hadn’t just wandered right into the Gym without thinking it through! The battle would essentially be one on however many Pokémon the Gym Leader might have.
This required some preparation. The first thing that popped into his head was Eevee, but of course, he couldn’t evolve him now…
Or am I just being overprotective again?
Mark sighed and took out Eevee’s Pokéball, sending him out. Somehow, he felt like Eevee looked older, but then again, he was probably just imagining it.
“Vee?” he asked, looking at Mark. His voice was now getting clearer and not as squeaky and baby-like. Mark was certainly not imagining that. Was Eevee… growing up?
“Hey, Eevee…” Mark wondered how to begin.
“Yes?” asked the Pokémon.
“Have you… have you ever thought about evolution?” Mark decided just to get to the point.
“Evolution?” Eevee tilted his head a bit, like he wasn’t sure what he meant.
“Yeah, like Charmander evolved and now he’s a Charmeleon.”
“Oh,” Eevee realized, “you mean like growing up?”
“Guess it can be called that,” said Mark, shrugging.
“But doesn’t that just happen when you’re old?” Eevee questioned.
“No,” Mark explained, “evolution can happen in many different ways. It’s often the equivalent of some part of growing up, because a lot of physical maturing takes place at once during the process of evolution, but it doesn’t happen depending on age. Some Pokémon evolve when they have gained a certain amount of battle experience, sometimes evolution is triggered through strong emotions, for some Pokémon going through the compression that happens during a trade causes them to evolve, and some – like you, Eevee – can evolve when exposed to certain materials.”
“Will I become a Flareon, then, like mommy was?” the Pokémon asked curiously.
“Well,” said Mark, not sure how to say it, “you can become one of five Pokémon, or choose to stay as you are.”
“What can I evolve into other than Flareon?” Eevee asked.
“Well, you can become a Vaporeon, Jolteon, Espeon or Umbreon too. Vaporeon is a Water Pokémon that relies on endurance and special attacking power and can dissolve into water… Jolteon focuses on speed and Electric attacks and can fire the spikes on its body at opponents… Flareon is a Fire Pokémon and its strategy is built on physical strength and resistance to elemental attacks… Espeon is adept at using its Psychic powers quickly and effectively… Umbreon centers around toughness and defensive abilities and is a Dark type. And, of course, you can also just be an Eevee.”
“I don’t know,” Eevee answered insecurely. “Will I change, like when Charmander evolved?”
“Change? Of course you will change, into a different Pokémon…”
“No, I mean… inside.”
Mark felt a twinge of pain in his stomach. “Hopefully not… if we wait, then… never mind, you’re not ready,” he just mumbled and recalled Eevee. How could he have forgotten that? If anybody was too young to evolve without changing very much in personality, it was Eevee.
He’d just have to hope the Gym Leader’s team didn’t consist of many Skarmory.
Mark sighed and walked towards the Gym. The bright sunlight reflecting off the million feathers blinded him. When he came to the half-circle shaped door, he opened it and went inside.
It was pitch-black.
“Um… hello?” he called into the darkness.
“Hello,” answered a calm, deep male voice. “A challenger, eh?”
“Yeah,” Mark said nervously.
“Then let the light flow…”
Suddenly, vertical rifts of light appeared high above. They widened gradually and the sunshine found its way inside, revealing what was going on; a pale-skinned, bulky man with steel gray, spiky hair and pitch-black sunglasses wearing some kind of a silvery outfit stood on the opposite side of the room near a horizontal row of switches. When the man had assured himself that Mark had seen him, he turned another switch on. Suddenly, Mark was absolutely blinded as a ring of huge, bright projectors on the walls lit up. He winced, covering his eyes with his arms.
The man laughed. “My name is Christopher and I am the Gym Leader of Alumine. This is my Gym, and in my Gym, you play by my rules. I want light, then I’ll have light.”
“Secondly,” Christopher continued, “we will use two Pokémon each in this battle.”
Mark blindly reached for Charmeleon’s ball.
“Go, Steelix!” shouted Christopher.
“Charmeleon!” Mark yelled, throwing the ball into what he presumed was the arena. Peering out of the small rift between his eyelids, he could make out his Fire Pokémon cowering from the light.
“Char…” he growled.
“Steelix, Earthquake!” ordered the Gym Leader. Mark realized what he was doing; he was using attacks that didn’t depend on the user seeing the opponent.
“Jump!” Mark ordered desperately as the massive shape of the iron snake raised its tail. Charmeleon did what was even better; he jumped onto Steelix’s tail and hung on to it while the iron snake sent ripples around the floor.
“Flamethrower!” Mark blurted out quickly.
“Slam!” Christopher countered.
The shape of Steelix’s tail was slammed towards the floor, but Charmeleon jumped off in time and breathed out a long tongue of brightly-colored flames. Steelix roared in pain.
“Iron Tail,” said Christopher, seemingly a bit worried. But when the iron snake’s tail was lifted upwards, it cast a shadow at Charmeleon, and he aimed carefully before sending a blast of flames straight at Steelix’s flat metal head. The massive snake flailed around in pain, roaring, and Charmeleon grabbed the opportunity to attack again with another Flamethrower.
The gigantic shape collapsed with a roar. Mark could make out a flash of red light that dissolved the iron snake.
“Very well…” Christopher grumbled. “Go… Scizor.”
Mark was surprised. Either the Gym Leader didn’t have a Skarmory at all, or he would rather send out a Pokémon that was much weaker to Fire attacks. Mark knew that Scizor, the evolved form of Scyther, had dark red armor, three spikes sticking out of its small head, two thin, transparent wings that it couldn’t fly with, and pincers on its arms. The shadowy shape that Christopher sent out seemed to match that description – except that while Mark couldn’t see it very well due to the light, it was certainly not red. It seemed more greenish.
“Double Team!” Christopher commanded hastily.
“Scizor!” hissed the Pokémon, and suddenly there were three of them standing there. Mark had no idea which was the real one. Neither did Charmeleon.
“Flamethrower the one on the left!” Mark shouted worriedly. The lizard spewed out a blast of fire, which melted the Scizor copy upon contact.
“Double Team two more times!” Christopher said harshly. Each of the two that were left split into three, bringing the total up to six. Then all six split too, and eighteen Scizor surrounded Charmeleon.
“Uh…” Mark wasn’t sure what he could do now. Charmeleon wouldn’t have the energy to melt seventeen copies, especially when they could duplicate themselves again at any point.
“Metal Claw!” Christopher barked. His bug Pokémon all jumped at Charmeleon with their pincers raised as they turned a steel gray color, and grabbed his arms, tail, feet or horn. He roared in pain; Mark knew that only one of them had actually struck, but it had struck hard.
“And now, Slash!”
The Scizor all opened their pincers wide before slashing at the lizard. Charmeleon retaliated by melting another copy, but the rest slashed again.
“Return,” Mark said, holding the Pokéball forward. Charmeleon was getting too weak.
He thought about who to send out next. The Scizor copies were still there, so they would be hard to beat whatever he did. But Scizor couldn’t fly, and Earthquake would hit anything that wasn’t flying…
Suddenly, the door to the Gym opened behind Mark and May stepped inside. She was blinded by the light and raised her hand to shield her eyes, noticed Mark and waved with her other hand, smiling. She leant up to the wall to watch the battle, however she was going to see anything properly.
Mark remembered that he was still battling and reached for Sandshrew’s ball, but before he managed to pluck it off his belt, he felt Scyther’s ball start to wobble. The mantis burst out in a flash of red light.
“Scyther, what do you think you’re doing?” Mark yelled angrily. “This counts as sending you out!”
“That’s the point,” Scyther growled. “That pathetic life form you are currently facing is a Scizor.”
“What do you mean?”
“That my pride as a Scyther is at stake.”
Mark remembered the story he had been told when he was little about how Ash Ketchum’s Pikachu had battled Lt. Surge’s Raichu – and won – for the sake of all unevolved Pikachu out there and showing that evolution wasn’t everything. Was this something similar? It could also have something to do with the fact that, at least according to the Pokédex, Scyther had been decreasing in numbers ever since Scizor was discovered.
Mark didn’t get the chance to ask. Scyther’s shadowed shape was already standing firmly on the ground, surrounded by copies of his evolved form. If he was blinded by the light, he wasn’t showing it.
Suddenly, Scyther darted forward towards the first Scizor he saw. His scythe immediately chopped it in half and it dissolved. He did the same with all the others at amazing speed, until finally one turned out to be solid. The scythe didn’t put a scratch in the Scizor’s metallic armor, but it was knocked backwards. Scyther started slashing more intensely with both of his scythes, the Scizor narrowly blocking them with its pincers. Then suddenly, the green mantis leapt over the armored bug and slashed at its back. Mark couldn’t see clearly what happened, but it appeared that Scyther had cut Scizor’s wing off as it fell to the ground with a clatter.
The Scizor let out a cry of pain, collapsing, and Christopher, apparently afraid of what this could result in, raised a hand and said: “I give in.”
He pressed a button; the projectors were turned off, and Mark realized what was so unusual about the Scizor; it was a moss green color and slightly sparkly. Also known as a Shiny.
Mark stared open-mouthed at it. Shiny Pokémon were incredibly rare. They didn’t differ from normal Pokémon in power, but a genetic mutation caused various parts of their bodies to be colored differently from the usual and give off a slight sparkle. Most trainers would die to own one; Mark didn’t like them that much, but just the thought of the recognition would still be enough to make him take a lot of risks.
Christopher grinned; he seemed to enjoy the attention. Mark’s gaze darted towards May, and instantly knew that she was one of the trainers who would die to have a shiny Pokémon; she wasn’t staring at the Scizor in awe, but rather straight into the air, her face red with envy.
Suddenly, Scyther, who had been glaring at the Scizor with a gaze that could kill, started attacking it again, even though the Shiny had already been defeated. He slashed mindlessly, despite knowing that it wasn’t hurting Scizor’s metallic armor, with an expression of uttermost loathing.
“Scyther – Scyther – what do you think you’re doing – you’re breaking the Agreement!” Mark cried out in an attempt to catch the mantis’s attention, but no avail. Christopher just quickly got out a Pokéball and recalled his Pokémon. Mark did the same, stunned; Scyther kept trying to slash even as he got dissolved into red energy.
“Your badge,” said Christopher grudgingly. Mark walked up to him and the Gym Leader dropped a coin similar to the Element Badge into his palm. He muttered some thanks and took the badge, walking to the place where May was standing as she went towards her place on the arena. This coin seemed to be made of steel and had an extremely smooth, shiny surface. Mark turned it around; the back had “Shining Badge” engraved into it.
Just then, Christopher turned the projectors on again to battle May.
“Go, Skarmory!” she commanded, sending out her steel vulture.
“Go, Steelix!” the Gym Leader ordered, apparently having put his massive iron snake into a Pocket Healer while Mark’s mind was focused on something else.
“Swift,” May said, smirking. Mark knew it was a clever move in the situation; it couldn’t possibly miss. Her Skarmory released a flurry of feathers from its body, and indeed all of them shot straight at Steelix as though guided by an invisible force. But the snake’s armor was too thick to be harmed by the attack at all; the feathers bounced right off it, and Steelix didn’t even seem to notice.
“Iron Tail,” said Christopher. His Pokémon swung its tail upwards, knocking the vulture down. May recalled it without words.
“Lapras, do it! Surf!”
She sent out her big, turtle-like Pokémon and it shot a stream of water from its mouth into the air. It formed into a huge wave which crashed towards the Steelix. This it clearly noticed; it roared in pain, flailing around, and finally collapsed onto the floor.
“Return,” said Christopher and drew another Pokéball. “Skarmory, win this!”
Apparently, he did have a Skarmory. He had probably just wanted to save it for later or something. His steel vulture was considerably bigger than May’s, and circled Lapras like an injured prey that was about to die.
“Skarmory, plan E.”
His Skarmory, with a high-pitched cry of “Ska-a-a!”, rocketed up towards the wall on one side. It didn’t stop, but rather smashed into it. As the walls swayed dangerously, the steel feathers started raining down upon the arena. The trainers automatically stepped back to avoid them, but Lapras couldn’t leave the arena and got heavily cut. Skarmory didn’t wait for an order and instantly did it again. The battle got more fast-paced, both trainers yelling out commands at the same time, Skarmory smashing the ceiling again and again, and Lapras firing icy beams. Finally, May ended up as the victor.
Christopher was clearly a lot happier to hand her the same badge he had presented to Mark earlier than him. Mark couldn’t really blame him; after all, he wouldn’t have been too happy either if his Pokémon’s wing had been cut off.
Seeing that May was walking towards the door, Mark just went outside, relieved to be in normal light again.
Scyther’s behaviour while battling Scizor still gave him the creeps.
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Pokémon © 1995-2010 Nintendo, GAME FREAK and Creatures Inc. The Quest for the Legends and its characters, locations, storylines, extras, spinoffs, etc. © 2002-2010 Butterfree/Dragonfree/antialiasis except when otherwise stated or stemming from official sources.