The Quest for the Legends (ILCOE)

This is an author's commentary intended for readers who have already read the entire ILCOE. My retrospective comments on the chapter are in bold below, with some remarks within the text and then some overall thoughts at the bottom. The commentary will contain significant spoilers! Do not read the commentary on your first read-through!

Chapter 18: Enemies Forever

This kind of overdramatic title was even sillier in the previous revisions, where the chapter was titled "The hate is back again". It was originally posted at five in the morning on Christmas Day 2004, because this is how I spent my Christmas apparently. That also means I was apparently excited enough about this chapter to write it in the space of just three or four days. I remembered I'd once posted a chapter at five in the morning on Christmas Day but I didn't think it was this one. I was really psyched about the Scyther/Charmeleon subplot, I guess.

Dazed and still in shock, Mark made his way along the tube. At the end, there was a second door; in order for the water not to flood inside, Mark had to press a button that would empty the tube before entering. The water-repellant spray had gotten him there completely dry; he removed the H2Oxy from his face when the water level lowered past his head, and once the tube was dry, the glass door opened with a hiss and he walked into the city.

It was bustling with life. People were all around the main street, many with their Pokémon. Plants were at every corner. Ahead, a huge, white building with the words “POKÉMON GYM” written on it in red letters towered over the rest of the houses; it appeared to be exactly in the middle of the glass dome.

Oddly, in the previous revisions I made a point of this gym being particularly small and inconspicuous, not even a full-sized battle arena, but then did this here.

Mark was too tired to be excited. He felt like he hadn’t slept for months. He dragged off towards a hotel sign, and met May just in front of the hotel

Nice lack of period there.

“Oh, hi!” she greeted him happily.

“Hi,” he mumbled, feeling slow.

“I just won my badge,” said May, breaking into a wide grin as she took a silver coin from an inner pocket in her jacket. This one had waves engraved in it.

“Nice,” Mark said, trying to seem interested. May frowned.

“Did that idiotic shopkeeper sell you a ‘D-press’ or something? You’re like a ghost.”

“Mmmh,” Mark just replied.

“Anyway, Larvitar evolved,” May announced proudly, taking one of the Pokéballs off her necklace. “Look.”

She dropped it to the ground; the red light formed into a blue cocoon-like creature. It looked at Mark with resentful eyes, then just stared straight forward with a gloomy expression. Mark would’ve been impressed, but at the moment all he could think of was bed.

“I’ll talk to you later, I want some sleep,” he muttered.

May looked at him for a second, but then just shrugged.

“You sure need it,” she sighed and walked off. Mark walked sleepily in, paid absent-mindedly for a room and sluggishly walked along the corridor. He entered with a funny feeling like his eyeballs were melting, dropped into the bed and instantly drifted into deep sleep.

I'm not sure quite why I made Mark so exaggeratedly tired here; there was nothing of the sort in the previous revisions (in fact, he just went straight to the gym, because what is time). I guess it was meant to be mostly emotional exhaustion after the whole Gyarados thing and almost getting eaten by Sharpedo, but I'm making it sound like he's being magically induced to sleep somehow. There's a slight possibility that I may have intended this to be Mitch too, because I guess he can remotely make people sleepy now? Maybe?

In the previous versions, May actually immediately apologized for leaving Mark behind, in a slightly hilariously backhanded way:

“Oh, Mark...” May said. “Listen, I’m sorry I didn’t wait for you, I was just excited to get on and your match was (no offense meant) pretty boring...”

However, here I just went with May having no proper conception that perhaps she ought to have waited for him, or at least choosing to act like there's no reason she should have. I kind of do like that better - May's not much for apologizing on the best of days - but instead if I were writing this today I'd definitely at least have Mark's narration remark on it. Right now it just sounds like I didn't think anything of it.


When he woke up, he wasn’t sure where he was, but he felt extremely good and refreshed. After a few hazy moments of rubbing his eyes and looking blankly around, he started to regain the cloudy memories of the journey to Aquarium City.

“Oh, yeah…” he muttered. “Gyarados… he killed a Sharpedo…”

Somehow, the image didn’t bother him anymore. He blinked.

This is why I think I may have intended Mitch to be behind the whole thing. Mitch stopped Mark having PTSD dreams before and now made him sleep so he could similarly ease the traumas of yesterday. I don't 100% confidently remember this being what I was thinking, but it does ring some bells. Trauma therapist Mitch is on Mark's case, I guess. It's so lazy that I just inserted this magical mental healing to erase anything traumatic that happens, though. And unlike me! Why would I not want to write about Mark being traumatized.

Then, he had been saved by… that thing. Mo… Mo-something. Mona? Monarch? Monarking? Yeah, that was it. Something that was supposed to be magical and highly intelligent with a tendency to save people…

Suddenly, it dawned on to him how extremely lucky he had been. About to get eaten by a bunch of Sharpedo, and then a Pokémon that loves saving everybody happens to pass!

What made it even funnier was that it wasn’t even Mark’s usual luck at all. If it had been his luck, the Monarking would’ve passed but thought he looked too stupid to save him. Yeah, Mark convinced himself, that would definitely have been typical him.

I don't know, Mark, I think your luck's been pretty okay so far - bad things have happened (kidnapped by a madman, almost eaten by scorpions), but also a lot of pretty good things (Charmander falls into your lap just when you think you're never going to be a Pokémon trainer, an Eevee falls into your lap shortly afterwards, then shortly after that a legendary ultra-powerful Gyarados, then a gym leader chooses to give Mew to you specifically, then you bump into a Dratini because convenient conservation program...). But I guess if I lampshadily acknowledge "Wow, this was really lucky!" and then confidently insist that in fact it is highly unusual for my character to be so lucky, that makes it true.

I don't think it'd even have been that hard to buy this in particular as not being implausibly lucky. Maybe Monarking watch over the route to Aquarium City to make sure travelers get there in one piece; it's only me deciding here that this was some kind of super-rare occurrence that needs to be justified.

Mark's self-deprecation there is kind of cute but a bit over-the-top.

He sighed. He hadn’t even thanked the creature. If he had another similar experience on the way up to the surface, it would definitely not bother saving him again. At least he wouldn’t if he was a Monarking. He’d probably be thinking: You’re being too nice, you know... why save all those pesky humans? They’ve never saved you.

Mark checked his digital watch. Seven in the morning. His stomach gurgled; he figured he’d better get himself some breakfast.

And we're on day five of the journey! It's occurring to me suddenly that I don't think I've ever drawn Mark with this watch that I think is brought up a few times in the fic.


Mark poured cereal into his bowl and splashed some milk over it. There were a few people eating now too; May was not among them so Mark assumed that she was still sleeping. He took his time eating his breakfast and finally headed out to the Pokémon Center.

“Hi,” he greeted Nurse Joy, “I left my Sandslash at the Pokémon Center in Scorpio City. Can you contact the nurse there and see if he has recovered?”

I fully expected I might forget about the fact Sandslash had been left at the Pokémon Center (I didn't specifically recall a scene about Mark recovering him), so I'm pleased to see this here.

Nurse Joy bowed and turned to the videophone behind her. She picked up the receiver, dialed the number and held it to her ear. A picture of the Nurse Joy in Scorpio City soon appeared; she looked tired and half-asleep like she had been working for most of the night.

“What?” she asked, rubbing her eyes.

“There’s a boy here asking about his Sandslash,” the Joy at Mark’s end answered. She stepped slightly aside; the Joy in Scorpio City peered at Mark through the screen and then seemed to remember him.

“Oh, yeah,” she mumbled. “Yes, your Sandslash is fine. Should I send him over?”

“Yes, please,” Mark answered, loudly enough for the receiver to pick it up. The nurse nodded and placed a Pokéball under the tube of her transfer machine and pressed a button. On the screen, they could see the Pokéball being sucked up into the tube; just a second later, it dropped down from the tube right in front of them.

“Bye…” said Nurse Joy of Scorpio City with a yawn. She put the receiver back into place, and the screen went static.

The nurse replaced the receiver to turn off the videophone and handed Mark the Pokéball. “Have a nice day,” she said, smiling warmly. He thanked her and walked outside, putting the ball back on his belt.

This scene was quite pointless; it's one of those describing a thing step by step when the thing isn't interesting and could easily be summarized without losing anything of value bits. But I guess we get a little bit of characterization for Nurse Joy of Scorpio City?

Next stop was the Gym. Mark walked firmly towards the big building in the center of the city. He didn’t know if it was already open; if not, he could go training or something. In fact, he was almost doubtful when he found a sign on the door which clarified that it had opened at seven; on the way, while trying to convince himself that it wouldn’t be so bad even if it wasn’t open, he had managed to get an uneasy feeling like he wasn’t at all ready to face the Gym Leader yet. Still, he shrugged; maybe it wouldn’t be that bad. He opened the modern-looking glass door and stepped inside.

What? You think you might not be terribly well equipped to face your fourth gym leader after you just got your third badge yesterday and, as far as we can tell, exactly one of your Pokémon has had exactly one battle in the meantime? Impossible!

The Gym was round with a rather narrow brink along the walls, but two half-circle shaped pools in the middle. In the very center, the bank that separated the two pools became a circle. It took a second for Mark to realize that from above, the Gym would look like a Pokéball.

“Good morning,” came a powerful-sounding female voice from the other end of the arena. The speaker was a woman who looked in her mid to late thirties. Her wavy, dark blue hair fell almost down to the floor, and her sapphire blue dress covered her feet completely as she walked slowly left from a door on the right side of the opposite wall.

“You are here for a badge, aren’t you?” she asked, turning around in the exact center. Her voice had some odd kind of grace to it; she spoke loudly and clearly, in a royal sort of tone.

“Yeah.” Mark nodded.


The woman looked slightly into the air for a second, but then turned straight to Mark again. “My name is Marge, and I am the Gym Leader of Aquarium City. Defeat me…”

She held forward a silver coin in her long fingers.

“…and earn the Surf Badge.”

Mark just nodded.

Marge's name comes from "mar", which is a common prefix in Icelandic meaning "sea-". Originally I described her as middle-aged and was just imagining her looking like Lorelei from the first-generation games, but in this version I gave her an actual design of her own, which incidentally shaved a few years off her. I recall getting a comment on this chapter saying the name "Marge" was way too much of an old-lady name.

“We will battle in three rounds of two-on-two,” said Marge, cracking her knuckles as she started staring into the air again. “Because few trainers here have been to Hoenn, where two-on-two battles originate, I will explain to you the rules…”

As you can tell, I was just on a bit of a "Hoenn ALL THE THINGS" kick at this point in the original in my excitement over Ruby and Sapphire. First Victor's team, then look Sharpedo and Relicanth are a thing, then double battles. I think the integration of subsequent generations managed to be considerably more subtle than this. Let's try to spot the first mention of each later gen.

Mark nodded again. He had heard of two-on-two battles, but obviously he had never tried one.

“Both trainers send out two Pokémon at a time. The Pokémon must work together to defeat the other trainer’s two Pokémon.”

She paused, and then went on: “We will be battling in rounds here, so if one of your Pokémon faints, you do not send out a replacement. The remaining Pokémon will have to try to defeat the other Pokémon. The trainer who has the last Pokémon standing wins the round. Then all Pokémon used in that round are recalled, and must not be sent out again… I assume that you have a full team of six Pokémon already, of course?”

“Yes,” Mark answered. He bit his lip; this sounded hard.

“So the battle shall…”

Marge took out two Pokéballs from her silk belt and maximized them.


She threw the two balls into the pool on her end. Mark nervously watched the two shapes form: a light blue, catlike creature with fins around its neck, on the sides and top of the head and along the whole back, and a green and yellow frog.

Mark thought for a bit. If he remembered correctly, a lot of Water Pokémon had the Water Absorb ability, which allowed them to be healed through coming in contact with water alone. They would have to be taken down quickly. His first thought was Scyther; then he remembered that Water Pokémon often learned Ice attacks, which he would be very vulnerable against.

Obviously, I have to make sure Mark saves Scyther (and Charmeleon) for last here - but this isn't the best reasoning for doing so, because Mark's inevitably going to have to use all six of his Pokémon in this fight, and the opponents are all going to be Water-types, but for all Mark knows some of her remaining Pokémon may be dual Water/Ice-types. This round, with two non-Ice Water-types out, would absolutely be the best possible time to send out Scyther - sure, they might know Ice attacks, but any of her Pokémon might, and if he doesn't do it now he may end up having to use Scyther against an actual Ice-type.

“Oh well,” he sighed, “go, Gyarados and Eevee.”

He almost dropped one of the balls when he maximized them, and decided he’d rather just throw one ball with each hand. The Pokémon materialized, Eevee on the circle in the middle and Gyarados in the pool behind him.

This bit of Mark being unused to holding two balls at a time is a cute detail.

“Gyarados, can you use that powerful thingy? On… er, Vaporeon?” Mark asked hopefully. Gyarados nodded, closed his eyes and his colors started fading.

“Um, Eevee, try a Quick Attack on Politoed.”

Eevee instantly leapt towards the frog Pokémon. It had no means of avoiding the fast attack and was knocked slightly backwards, but had plenty of energy left. Eevee darted back, but the frog fired a jet of water from its mouth at the brown Pokémon and the pressure pushed him into the pool on Mark’s end. Just as he frantically tried to swim to the bank, Gyarados released the powerful red beam which shot towards the mermaid-like cat. As it tried to dive, the beam followed its fish-like tail and hit it. The Water Pokémon’s body stiffened up and it started to sink helplessly to the bottom.

“Return, Vaporeon,” Marge said hastily, allowing the red beam from her Pokéball to recall her cat Pokémon. “Politoed, use a Surf.”

Instantly, a wave of water rose up from Marge’s pool and crashed towards Eevee and Gyarados. Eevee shrieked as he was soaked by it and was left unconscious; Gyarados didn’t appear too hurt.

“Return, Eevee,” Mark said disappointedly. “Umm… another mega attack-thingy, Gyarados,” he suggested. The sea monster again started graying; it took less time to charge the beam now, but it looked a lot less powerful this time too. Not as bright as before, it shot towards Politoed, but much to Mark’s surprise, Politoed didn’t look too hurt by it.

“Er… try again?” Mark said doubtfully to Gyarados. As he charged, Politoed grew healthier from absorbing the water in the pool. At the time when Gyarados fired the beam, the frog seemed to be fully healed, and the attack hurt it even less this time.

Mark felt later that he really should’ve figured that there was something wrong with repeated uses of Gyarados’s powerful attack by now, but he didn’t and ordered the sea monster to try it again.

What's happening here is just that Dragon Beam works like Overheat etc.: effectively, it halves his Special Attack after he uses it.

“Ice Beam,” said Marge to her Pokémon. While Gyarados was charging (he seemed to be getting exhausted now and taking longer time for it again), the frog shot a beam of ice crystals at him from its mouth. When it hit Gyarados, he roared in pain and seemed to lose concentration for the attack. He desperately tried again; Politoed sent another Ice Beam at him while he was trying and finally, he collapsed weakly, fainted.

“Return,” said Mark hopelessly. Gyarados had just done what he had told him; had that been the reason he lost?

“Very well,” Marge announced expressionlessly. “I have claimed victory in the first round. In order to win the battle, you must win both remaining rounds.”

“I know,” Mark replied.

“Go, Feraligatr and Quagsire,” Marge said. Mark cursed under his breath as her two Pokémon formed: the same kind of a big blue alligator that the Mew Hunter had possessed, and a rubbery, dopey-looking creature that mostly resembled a light blue bipedal jelly sausage with webbed feet and two rounded fins for arms. She was probably saving her best for the last – meaning that Mark should probably better save Scyther for the last round.

Weren't you just worrying about how Scyther's at a disadvantage against Water Pokémon because they might know Ice moves? I know I'm just trying to justify him not using Scyther without making it too obvious that he's about to end up with Scyther and Charmeleon together, but the reasoning feels incoherent.

“Go, Sandslash and Dratini.”

Mark realized with guilt that this was the first time that Dratini actually got to battle against a trainer, save for the battle against May’s Larvitar in the Rainbow Woods. Then he had only gotten to battle a few wild Pokémon. He was a bit neglected. But this wasn’t the time to think about that.

A reader or two on Serebii had been asking about Dratini getting zero screentime and repeatedly forgotten about, so this sudden, awkward paragraph was almost certainly inserted because of that.

“Feraligatr, Crunch the Dratini,” said Marge. “Quagsire, Earthquake.”

“Dratini, Twister on the Quagsire,” Mark said quickly. “Sandslash, try to distract Feraligatr with a Slash.”

Dratini spun around at top speed and whipped up a powerful whirlwind of green dragon flames that was sent towards the jelly-like creature, while Sandslash jumped up and swiped his claws across the alligator’s face. Feraligatr roared and blasted a jet of water at the pangolin; Sandslash quickly curled up into a ball to repel as much of it as he could as he was thrown backwards from the pressure. Just then, the Quagsire let out a loud belch of “QUA-A-AG!” and jumped into the air, coming down hard and sending ripples across the floor. Feraligatr was hurt by it just as much as Dratini and Sandslash, but that was damage to one of her Pokémon but both of his.

“Umm…” Mark suddenly thought of his own variation of Marge’s combo. “Dratini, dive into the pool! Sandslash, Earthquake!”

Dratini threw himself into the water as Sandslash leapt up, producing a powerful tremor as he landed. Both Feraligatr and Quagsire were severely hurt; Dratini, being in the water, was not affected by it, just like Mark had hoped.

“Dratini, try a Thunder Wave on Feraligatr. Sandslash, use another Earthquake.”

“Quagsire, Ice Beam on Sandslash,” Marge ordered. “Feraligatr, try to get rid of Dratini.”

Luckily, Dratini was quicker carrying out his order. He jumped up and while in the air, his body sparkled with electricity which he sent flying at the alligator. Its muscles stiffened up, preventing it from moving as Sandslash and Quagsire both prepared their attacks. As the pangolin came down on the ground, both Feraligatr and Quagsire were hit; the alligator collapsed and Marge recalled him, but the rather weak Quagsire sent a beam of ice at Sandslash, which blasted him back a short distance and left him unconscious.

“Come back, Sandslash; you did a great job,” Mark complimented his Pokémon as he recalled him. Now he had only Dratini left, but Quagsire was weak…

“Quagsire, dive into the pool,” Marge commanded calmly, and the jelly-like fish jumped into the water, starting to absorb it and grow healthier. Like to counter this turn of events, Dratini became wrapped in a white glow.

Mark watched, stunned, as his little dragon grew longer and sleeker. As the glow faded, he was revealed to have a more shaped head, a sapphire blue orb under it on his neck, and two similar orbs near the end of his tail.

“Whoa. You evolved,” Mark said blankly.

“Gonair,” the newly evolved Pokémon confirmed, turning to his opponent.

It just doesn't feel very rewarding to have Dratini evolve in the second battle we see him in ever, does it?

In the previous versions, Dratini and Larvitar both evolved at the same time - in the Black Desert. That was way too early, but this honestly feels pretty early too. Maybe it'd feel less so if we'd seen more of Dratini? But honestly, I'd be inclined to delay his evolution either way, if only because with it happening here, it kind of gets lost in the upcoming Scyther/Charmeleon blowup - I didn't actually even properly remember that Dratini evolved here, though I could have deduced it with a bit of thought.

“Er… Wrap? Or something?” Mark suggested, not sure what a Dragonair could do exactly. The dragon slithered towards Quagsire; the fish backed away and attempted an Ice Beam, but Dragonair whipped himself aside so that it crashed into the wall instead. Then, with a quick movement, he wrapped himself around Quagsire’s body and started squeezing hard.

I mean, Dragonair can still do pretty much the same things he could do as a Dratini. Feels weird for Mark to be at a loss here.

“Qua-a…” gasped the Pokémon, trying hard to keep breathing. Dragonair tightened his grip every time the fish exhaled, and after a few more seconds of strain, Quagsire fell unconscious. Dragonair loosened the hold slightly in order not to kill the amphibian; Marge silently took out a Pokéball and recalled her Quagsire.

“Very well,” she said as Mark brightly recalled Dragonair. “Now we are even. The last round will decide the winner…”

She smiled. “Go, Lapras and Starmie!”

Mark was right; they were probably her best. From her two Pokéballs formed a big sea turtle like May had and a ten-armed purple starfish with a ruby set in the golden core.

He was about to take his last two Pokéballs when he realized that his two Pokémon left were the rivals Scyther and Charmeleon. Just how likely were they to co-operate in a two-on-two?

Oh man, he thought to himself, how stupid can I get?

But he couldn’t forfeit. He just couldn’t. He had a chance of winning – if Scyther and Charmeleon could just put their hate aside for one battle.

He nervously took his two last Pokéballs. “Go, Scyther and Charmeleon.”

The mantis and the lizard formed, instantly noticed each other and exchanged some nasty glares.

“Guys,” Mark interrupted, “this is a serious battle. We’re in the Aquarium City Gym, and this is the final round of this two-on-two, which decides the winner. If you can just behave nicely this once we’ll win this, okay?”

This just feels a bit overdramatic with the lack of real buildup here. Scyther and Charmeleon have had exactly one chapter of mild hostility and then one brief mention while fighting the Scorplack that they were too busy to notice each other. I could easily buy Mark just having forgotten about their little spat entirely at this stage; immediately dreading sending them out together just isn't properly warranted. In the next revision I'd either have to make their animosity a lot more prominent to make this really work, or possibly just actually have Mark send them out obliviously only for Charmeleon to start to antagonize Scyther.

In the previous versions, I made an extremely jarring real-world reference here, which decidedly dated the story:

Mark suddenly realized that he was in trouble. His two pokémon left happened to be the rivals Scyther and Charmeleon. Making them battle together in a two on two battle seemed as impossible as making George Bush talk peacefully to Saddam Hussein. But it was his only choice.

Scyther nodded curtly and turned towards Lapras. Charmeleon snorted disdainfully and turned his attention to the starfish.

“Great,” Mark said cheerfully, contrasting with his true feelings. “Scyther, Slash Lapras, and Charmeleon, you can try a Flamethrower.”

Scyther immediately dashed forward, flying over the first pool and aiming his scythe at the Lapras’s neck. Charmeleon ran along the brink by the wall, and fired a blast of flames from his mouth. The starfish leapt out of the way with great agility, and Charmeleon just “happened” to be positioned exactly so that the flames instead scorched Scyther’s exoskeleton. Bathed in flames for a second, Scyther made no sound but wore an expression of great agony as he landed, torched, on the circle in the middle of the arena.

“Sorry,” said Charmeleon sarcastically with a broad grin on his face. Scyther leered at him, but jerked his head back in Lapras’s direction, as if he wanted to say, “You’re not worth it.”

Charmeleon started running again, this time along the path between the pools. Starmie, who had jumped into Mark’s pool to avoid the Flamethrower, fired a stream of water at the lizard; Charmeleon leapt out of the way, and the water instead hit Scyther’s back as he was about to take off. Again, Scyther turned around and glared icily at the lizard.

“I thought it would help cool you down, you know,” said Charmeleon in a mockingly innocent tone. Scyther ignored him and leapt forward to slash at Starmie. The starfish dived into the water so Scyther had to land again.

Charmeleon’s wicked grin widened as he breathed softly into his palm and then tossed a tiny but very hot fireball towards the mantis. It hit Scyther’s wing and burned a hole in it. The mantis whirled murderously around, not showing any signs of pain.

“Oops, I sneezed,” Charmeleon said, his grin still broadening. Scyther turned back to Lapras as Charmeleon snorted. Then the bug turned firmly around, glared at Charmeleon for a second and then suddenly leapt into the air and zoomed at the lizard with both of his scythes raised.

He never hit. Mark recalled them both just before Scyther’s blades made contact with Charmeleon. He muttered some kind of an excuse to Marge, forfeiting the battle before he scurried off to the Pokémon Center.

Wow, Charmeleon is a dick. Mark really should be reacting way earlier here - maybe not recalling them immediately, but at least trying to direct them and tell Charmeleon to stop with the bullying. So should Marge, for that matter! If trainers are obviously having this kind of trouble with their Pokémon, surely a gym leader is supposed to step in one way or another. And of course, Marge's Pokémon conveniently don't do much of anything while all this is going on. All in all, this could be written a lot better.


After all his Pokémon had gotten basic healing and Scyther had been treated with a Burn Heal, Mark got his Pokéballs back. He went off to a corner; he wanted to talk to Scyther and Charmeleon individually without interruptions.

He sent Charmeleon out first. The lizard seemed to know what Mark wanted to talk to him about; as soon as he had materialized, he started talking:

“Did you see that, Mark? I told you he’d be dangerous! He tried to kill me, for crying out loud!”

“And do you have the vaguest idea of why that was?” Mark spat angrily, causing Charmeleon’s casual expression to turn more serious. “You asked for it! You attacked him! He even resisted the urge to attack you back for the first two times! What’s wrong with you? He hasn’t done anything to you!”

“No, thanks you,” Charmeleon replied. “There you see what he can do. One little joke, and he wants to write satanic chants with your blood. It’s not safe to be around him. Just you wait; he’s going to slit both of our throats sometime when we’re sleeping if you don’t do anything about it.”

Mark didn’t feel like replying to that and just took out the Pokéball again.

“Return,” he said emptily.

“See ya in the afterlife,” were Charmeleon’s last words before he was dissolved into red energy and drawn back into his Pokéball.

Wow, Mark, you're not doing a great job of convincing Charmeleon he's taking this a little far. What do you mean, you don't feel like replying. I could probably technically make this work as Mark just being conflict-averse, but then I'd need to actually convey his discomfort properly.

This brief conversation is very similar to the previous versions, but even more extreme: the bit about writing Satanic chants in blood is new, and a bit jarring with the sudden reference to specific real-world religion. In the previous versions I managed not to drop a word in "thanks to you", though.


“Scyther, why did you attack Charmeleon?”

“Because he was daring me to do it throughout the whole battle,” the mantis said in his usual, calm tone.

“But you were resisting that urge just fine before, weren’t you?” Mark said angrily.

“Third time’s the charm,” Scyther replied.

“Why third time rather than the fourth or fifth or one-hundredth or, even better, no time at all?” Mark hissed.

“Charmeleon was humiliating me,” Scyther hissed back. “I couldn’t just stand there and battle like a nice Pokémon!”

“Look, I just don’t want two of my Pokémon fighting!” Mark said loudly. Scyther’s calmness somehow just frustrated him.

Actually it seemed like he was getting a lot less calm there.

“This is none of your business, Mark,” Scyther stated. “It’s a personal matter between Charmeleon and me. We can handle this on our own.”


Wow, all-caps screaming may be a little over-the-top, Mark.

With a lightning-quick movement, Scyther’s right scythe came flying towards Mark’s face. It stopped a centimeter or so from his nose.

Mark didn’t dare to breathe. He just stared at the deadly blade that had almost killed him. After what seemed like ages, Scyther looked strangely at him and slowly lowered his scythe. As Mark caught his breath again, he fell backwards against the wall.

“I’m… sorry,” Scyther muttered. “It’s just a subconscious reaction…”

“You almost gave me a heart attack,” Mark mumbled in a trembling voice. Scyther turned around and then was slowly enveloped in a red glow as he recalled himself back into the Pokéball. Mark was left pressing his back against the wall, sweating and shivering uncontrollably as some of the people whose attention had been caught alerted Nurse Joy.

His last conscious thought was that maybe Charmeleon’s theory wasn’t all that far-fetched.

It's probably a bit extreme having him outright faint here, but I like how much I was clearly enjoying writing this last bit of Mark's shock at Scyther's sudden attack.

I don't really like how either of these dialogues play out - they're quite similar to the previous versions, and they just don't quite feel like real people with coherent points of view talking to each other. But in principle I like the idea of Mark trying to chew out Charmeleon who won't stop insisting Scyther is dangerous, and Mark and the reader dismissing him because he's obviously just being a jerk who's latched onto hating Scyther, only for Scyther to then suddenly lash out in this way and make us question it a bit. Obviously I'd also want to do more with that development and Mark's feelings about Scyther in general.

In the Serebii thread, Gyarados answered a reader question about why Charmeleon hated Scyther so much after this chapter:

Gyarados to ViperSean: Well, I think the reason is obvious - Charmeleon originally judged Scyther from a stereotype and tried to tell Mark that Scyther was dangerous. Then, when Mark would rather trust Scyther than him, he got jealous. Of course, he didn't want to be jealous, so he led himself to believe that it really was because he wanted to protect Mark. He built more reasoning around his stereotype so that it would seem slightly logical, and has now convinced himself that Scyther really is the bad guy, even though it seems quite obvious to me that Scyther is honest. Meh, just my thoughts on the matter...

In general, the Serebii Q&A is absolutely not canon and the characters are frequently both factually wrong and highly out of character in it - but this does fairly obviously show what I was actually thinking with regards to Charmeleon's true motivations, and I'm kind of pleased to see it's actually pretty similar to my proposed rewrite from the chapter 11 commentary, where Charmeleon's concerns start out relatively legitimate but then get overtaken by a kind of jealousy specifically because Mark insists on trusting Scyther and dismissing Charmeleon. It's at least a lot better than Charmeleon being jealous because Scyther got to fight Fangcat.

All in all, there are still a lot of issues with how I was doing the entire Scyther and Charmeleon plot, but in principle I still think the core concept of this chapter is pretty solid. The main character having to forfeit a gym battle because he sent out two of his Pokémon in a double battle and they just started fighting each other for unrelated personal reasons is fun: the Pokémon well and truly are not acting as the trainer's cheerleaders anymore, and this seriously inconveniences him, and they don't just immediately up and apologize either. It's a breath of fresh air compared to most everything I've been doing with the Pokémon up until this point.

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