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!

(The commentary is in progress; there are a fair few chapters left still uncommented. Check the Quest Blog for progress information!)

Chapter 33: Thunderyu

Are you ready for the first legendary battle? I can't believe we're here!

This chapter was published on October 8th 2006, less than three months after the previous, which is respectable considering I'd previously warned readers that this chapter might take a while because I really wanted to get it right. In the interim, I also wrote chapter five of the IALCOTN. Let's see how that "getting it right" went.

Mark woke up feeling sick; he wasn’t quite sure why for the first few seconds, but it quickly sank in: he would be battling a legendary Pokémon today, and as much as he’d have liked to think otherwise, he found it highly unlikely that he would succeed in weakening and catching it.

Thunderyu.

He sighed and sat up on the bed. The day before, he had been feeling fairly confident, but of course, that had been his birthday. Now he was just a random twelve-year-old who was completely rubbish at battling, about to stupidly confront a highly dangerous creature that was most likely capable of defeating all his Pokémon in one hit.

I’m not that rubbish anymore, he thought decisively. I have six Gym badges, my Pokémon are great and… well, May is with me. And Alan. We’ll be fine…

Still not at all convinced, he stood up, quietly dressed and then wondered what to do next.

“Chaletwo?” he asked the air nervously.

“Yes?” said the smooth telepathic voice. Mark was relieved to hear no traces of the previous day’s grumpiness.

“How are we going to do this?”

“Well,” Chaletwo said after a moment’s pause, “it’s best that you three all send out six Pokémon each, I wake him up, we wait for him to break out since that will tire him a little, and then you just attack… I guess.”

Mark was a little unnerved – while Chaletwo was no longer upset, he had a clear hint of nervousness to his voice. He tried to convince himself that that was to be expected, but somehow he had always trusted in Chaletwo as the calm voice of reason throughout this quest, and now he wasn’t sure anymore.

Have you, though? Chaletwo really hasn't talked a lot on this quest so far! There was chapter 26, where he gave some explanations and is probably where I'm getting this from - but Chaletwo didn't talk at all between then and the end of chapter 30, and since then he's kind of been a mess. (Also, it's only been a couple of days.)

“So…” he began, “when are we going to do it?”

“As soon as possible,” Chaletwo replied. “Are your friends awake?”

Mark laughed. “Wouldn’t you know it better than me? You’re the psychic.”

“What do you think I am, omnipotent?” Chaletwo replied, suddenly annoyed. “Non-psychics have such faint psychic signals that unless you previously know what location to concentrate on as I’m doing for you, you can’t read their minds or communicate telepathically with them. Enjoy your privacy.”

“Oh, right,” Mark said quickly to avoid arguing. “I didn’t know.”

Some more telepathy mechanics infodumping from nervous snappy Chaletwo and Mark being conflict-averse.

“Don’t waste any time. Go find them.”

Mark stood up and walked out of his room, crossing the yellow-tiled corridor to knock on May’s door. To his surprise, it was not May who opened it a few seconds later, but Alan.

“Morning, Mark,” Alan said. “We couldn’t sleep so we’ve been keeping each other company. So um… are we going now?”

He phrases this in a very mutual way, but Alan absolutely instigated this and May would never have been the one to knock on his door.

I'm not quite sure if I didn't realize what "knocking on a girl's door in the morning, a boy opens the door" is usually meant to signify or if I'd just firmly decided that if anyone's mind was in the gutter on this it was on them and I would tell them off.

“Chaletwo said so,” Mark just replied.

Alan opened the door a little more. Mark could see May and Spirit both lying on the bed, the former absent-mindedly stroking the latter’s fur. Looking at the boys, May stood up, followed by her Pokémon.

“All right,” she just said as she came towards the door with Spirit trotting behind her. “Let’s go.”

They walked silently down the stairs at the end of the corridor and out of the Gym. It was still rather dark outside, although the eastern sky was lighting up; of course, the looming thunderclouds above may have made it seem darker than it really was. The west-facing mountains were shrouded in foreboding shadow that stretched on along the ground below. To approach them gave an eerie sensation of dread. Mark shivered.

That "west-facing" there completely confused me on what I was talking about here. Why did I insert this word.

“Okay,” came Chaletwo’s voice suddenly, “can you all hear me?”

The kids stopped abruptly and each muttered some words of confirmation.

“Good. Now… As I said yesterday, Thunderyu will most likely break out into Thunderclap Cave, so you need to be ready and facing the cave exit. This location is just fine. But try to spread yourselves out a little; there won’t be room for all your Pokémon like this.”

May stayed where they were, but the boys each walked a little away from her in either direction.

“Still hear me? Okay. Release all your Pokémon.”

Mark took a deep breath. “Go! Charizard, Jolteon, Sandslash, Dragonair, Scyther, Letal!” he shouted as he hurled all of his Pokéballs forward. One by one they opened and released his Pokémon. May and Alan were both doing the same.

“Right,” Chaletwo’s voice said. “Pokémon, you all hear me too, right? Okay. Great. So.”

He gave a telepathic sigh before continuing. “Okay. You all know what we’re doing now, I hope? This is the first of many very difficult battles against legendaries that you will have to fight, this one in particular against Thunderyu who is a dragon with control over electricity, as I hope you know.

“In a moment, I will use my powers to wake him up. He is located in a hidden, closed chamber inside this mountain. When he has been woken up, he will most likely break through the most cracked wall and thus into Thunderclap Cave, whose entrance you may be able to spot here in front of us. When I say ‘us’, I am referring to Mark, of course, as I’m connected to his visual cortex. Which reminds me, Mark – don’t ever look away from Thunderyu, because I want to be able to see what he’s doing, all right?

“Well, once Thunderyu has emerged, you will have to show some independent thinking, all of you Pokémon. Your trainers can’t command six Pokémon at the same time. Just do your best, and of course, if the trainers have an idea of a strategy, it would be a good idea to listen to them because chances are they have a better overview of what’s happening than you do.

“A word of warning: Thunderyu is at least twice as powerful as anything you’ve ever battled before, and that’s optimistic. He also has no idea what the Agreement is and wouldn’t follow it if he did, so if you’re really getting in his way, he’s not going to be deliberately dampening his attacks to be nonfatal. The only hope we have of winning lies in numbers, so don’t even think about rushing out there alone. You who can fly, it would be a good idea to get a little closer to the entrance to the cave before everything begins.

“Now… any questions?”

The first Chaletwo pep talk! A little stilted at times, but not so bad. I think he mentally rehearsed this one.

The Pokémon looked nervously at one another. A couple of seconds’ pause passed before May’s Butterfree dared to speak:

“What about you?”

“Me?” Chaletwo asked, seemingly taken aback by the question.

“Yes, will you be fighting with us?”

“Of course not,” Chaletwo replied. “Nobody must see me.”

“But…”

“I have better things to do with the little power I have left, anyway,” Chaletwo interrupted. “It’s not possible, okay?”

Butterfree didn’t say anything.

I really like that it's one of the Pokémon who asks this. May's Butterfree doesn't get much character or dialogue, but of course they wonder why the actual legendary with them isn't helping. Chaletwo, of course, has some semi-reasonable justification for not wanting to directly participate, but mainly he just doesn't really like fighting and isn't very good at it, and he especially doesn't want to have to try to fight his poor murderdragons.

“Okay,” May suddenly started. “We’d better think this through. Butterfree, you should try to put it to sleep with Sleep Powder. Pupitar, you can attack it with rocks – Thunderyu can fly, right? – and maybe try to knock it down to the ground where you can attack it with Earthquake, okay? Lapras, you…”

“I will not battle for you,” the turtle Pokémon said quietly in a shaky voice, only barely audible from where Mark was. Lapras’s eyes were filled with tears.

“What the hell do you mean, you won’t battle for me?” May asked angrily, raising her voice.

“I mean I’m not going to battle for you,” Lapras repeated. She took a few deep breaths and swallowed. “I hate you. I hate your insensitivity, your lack of concern for our wellbeing and your shallow, mindless love for this… all this fighting and…” She had to swallow again before she could continue. “You’ve made my life hell. I don’t want this.”

“I treat you just fine!” May shouted at her Pokémon, her cheeks reddening. “I don’t beat you or starve you or…”

And there it is. May's first reaction is I treat you just fine! She knows what abusive trainers are and she's not doing anything of the sort! What the hell is Lapras talking about!

Sadly the buildup to this was a bit lacking, as I mentioned before, but I really like how mercilessly Lapras phrases this. No meek "I want to be released", but I hate you and your shallow, mindless love for all this fighting and you've made my life hell. I'm so happy I pulled no punches with this.

“May.”

May was immediately silenced by Spirit’s voice. She turned sharply towards her Ninetales.

“As much as I hate to criticize you, Lapras is right,” the fox said. “I watched your battle yesterday. Perhaps you have changed in your attitude towards Pokémon, but I do know that you would not have made me take that Thunder.”

The fierceness vanished immediately from May’s face to be replaced with dumbfounded incredulity. She opened her mouth to say something, but only a small, stupid sound came out.

“Well, it’s true,” Alan commented quietly. “That was ugly battling. You don’t make a Pokémon suffer an extra attack, let alone one that powerful, if it doesn’t serve a very clear purpose, and even then, if the Pokémon asks to be recalled, you should always do it.”

Alan wasn't there for that battle, though! I even pointed this out in the scene afterwards where they talk about Spirit's abilities (which is probably the only reason I remember that he wasn't there). I'd much rather change that than take out Alan's part in this confrontation, though; May really is supposed to feel attacked from all sides here.

All this did was point May’s shocked gaze towards Alan instead of Spirit. Lapras looked once spitefully at her trainer and then seemingly recalled herself to her Pokéball.

A few awkward seconds passed before May suddenly seemed to snap out of a trance, her face returning to the determined expression she ordinarily had when battling like nothing had happened.

“Well, what are we waiting for? Wake Thunderyu up already.”

May is so not ready to process any of this. Let's have a big legendary battle and think about something else!

There were a few seconds of stunned silence.

“Right,” Chaletwo’s voice said, apparently deciding to act like nothing had happened too. “Get into position… maybe move a bit farther from each other…”

Mark and Alan doubtfully, but with some relief, backed away from May.

Ouch.

“Okay, ready?” Chaletwo asked. “I’ll wake him, then… one, two…”

A large bolt of lightning flashed across the sky. A thunder roared a split second afterwards, but it was not the only roar that was heard, because in the background was a deep rumble that seemed to come from the mountain itself. Mark’s heart was beating faster already as the rumble rose to a high-pitched cry.

I like the idea of this paragraph, but the phrasing is pretty awkward.

“Here he comes…” Chaletwo’s voice said.

There was an earth-shaking boom from deep inside the mountain.

Boom. Another one.

“Oh, damn it…” Chaletwo muttered. “He’s more powerful than I remembered…”

The booms grew faster and at the same time more powerful. Mark was becoming truly afraid of what might crawl out of that cave…

“He’s not going to break out through Thunderclap Cave!” Chaletwo suddenly realized with a hint of panic in his telepathic voice. “He’s… he’s… he’s going to smash out of the top of the mountain! Quick, flyers, be ready at the top! Now!”

I do like this buildup here. Again, could be done better, but definitely amps up the tension a bit.

No sooner had Charizard, Butterfree, Dragonair, Skarmory, Scyther and Charlie in Charizard form flown up to circle the mountain’s peak than it exploded. The six Pokémon had to fly quickly out of the way of the flying chunks of rock; in the middle of it all, Thunderyu finally climbed through the newly-formed hole, spread out his great wings for the first time and shot into the air with a cry.

He was a slender golden dragon, lightly built, but with very large wings that gave his flight a certain grace despite still being a little shaky. Mark could only barely make out his face: a long narrowing snout, two white horns and two deep blue gems embedded into his scaly forehead like in several other places on his body.

I'm not sure it makes any sense that Mark can make out his face here.

Then Thunderyu opened his mouth wide and cried out again – and a bolt of lightning struck one of the flying Charizard directly. Mark’s heart stopped for a second – then the one who was still airborne nodded towards him and swooped upwards.

“Charlie!” Alan screamed as the unlucky dragon crashed pathetically into the ground below.

This'd be far more impactful if I didn't have Pokémon getting OHKOed by super-effective attacks all the time. Imagine if this was the first time that happened.

“You can think about him later!” Chaletwo’s voice shouted. “Don’t be distracted! Attack it! Go! Go! Go!”

“Dragonair, use a Twister, quick!” Mark yelled, his eyes wide as he was slowly realizing just how powerful a Pokémon they were facing. “Slash it, Scyther! Flamethrower, Charizard! Don’t let it hit you, no matter what!”

It doesn't quite make sense to say he's slowly realizing that now after he's seen him knock out a Pokémon in one hit with a super-effective attack, when what he was expecting before they even started was that he'd be able to beat all his Pokémon in one hit.

He darted his eyes quickly towards Alan; he was very pale, but shouting orders at his Pokémon nonetheless while the unconscious Charlie was absorbed into the Pokéball. May was determined as ever, but visibly nervous.

“Watch Thunderyu!” Chaletwo hissed into his mind, and Mark quickly looked back at the dragon. He was firing a bolt of electricity at Charizard while the orange dragon was breathing a plume of fire. Charizard narrowly dived under the Thunderbolt; Thunderyu swooped sideways to avoid the flames, but miscalculated his own wingspan and his sensitive wing membrane was scorched by Charizard’s fire. He let out another one of his piercing cries, but the momentary distraction that arose from this was chance enough for Scyther to zoom at the dragon’s back with his scythes raised.

I like the detail of him miscalculating his own wingspan - after all, this is the first time he's flown - but it feels rather omniscient for Mark's narration.

Thunderyu turned around quickly, narrowly managing to prevent the mantis from succeeding in his intentions to damage the wing even more but instead allowing the slash to hit his side. Scyther slashed at the wing again and hit this time. Roaring in pain, Thunderyu retaliated with a Thunderbolt which the insect Pokémon had no chance of avoiding, and Scyther dropped weakly to the ground.

Right at that moment, before Thunderyu could regain his sense of direction, a green tornado from Dragonair came speeding towards him. The legendary quickly countered by whipping up his own Twister; while the two tornadoes destroyed each other, however, Thunderyu barely had time to look up before Charizard’s tail came flying towards him at high speed and smashed straight into his head. With a cry of pain, the electric dragon struggled to keep himself in the air.

So far this has felt very much like just one Pokémon is attacking him at a time. That's semi-intentional: I started out writing the battle like this, not sure quite how to approach this, but then abruptly Chaletwo started yelling at the Pokémon for not participating, and I decided I liked it that way, with the Pokémon initially hesitant to approach the legendary but kicking more properly into action after Chaletwo calls them out.

I'm not sure if I was thinking of it that way, but it makes sense that Scyther's particularly reckless in fighting this legendary that Chaletwo's established will not be making any special effort not to kill them, doesn't it.

“Return, Scyther!” Mark said worriedly, recalling the mantis. He saw May’s Butterfree make a brave attempt to use Sleep Powder, but the legendary flew easily out of the way and fried the butterfly with a Thunder. Meanwhile, down on the ground, Spirit and Vicky, Alan’s Misdreavus, had finished charging up a large Shadow Ball together and fired it at the dragon.

“Mist, Ice Beam!” Alan yelled, and his Vaporeon crouched on the ground, aiming carefully before shooting a magnificent beam of ice. Thunderyu, in swooping down to dodge the Shadow Ball, was instead hit by the Ice attack; he was knocked backwards in the air and shivered there for a split second. Then in retaliation, he angrily fired a Thunderbolt at Mist, but she leapt out of the way.

The dragon sent another bolt of electricity at her, and again she dodged; this only angered Thunderyu even more, but instead of continuing the chase, he began to spin around in a kind of eerie mid-air dance.

“I don’t like the look of this…” Mark muttered. “Dragonair, use a…”

He forgot how to speak when he saw what Thunderyu’s dance was doing. The clouds above the dragon were swirling along with him while strands of them were stretching quickly downwards, reaching all the way to the ground in a few moments and half-engulfing the dragon in a vortex of clouds. Electric sparks danced across the surface of the towering cloud structure, the form of the dragon only barely visible deep within.

I believe this is meant to be Thunderyu's Thunderstorm attack, a weather condition that (at least as I originally conceived of it) makes Thunder Swift-accurate, boosts the power of Electric moves and reduces the power of Flying moves, for some reason.

A bolt of lightning now struck Mist from the cloud without warning. She shrieked in agony as the electricity coursed through her body and struggled to remain on her feet, but her consciousness was quickly swept away and she collapsed on the ground, defeated.

“Return,” Alan called with worry in his voice, recalling the Vaporeon.

“Skarmory, dive into there and attack it with a Drill Peck!” May shouted while Mark was still too stunned to say anything.

“Ska-a-a!” the steel vulture cried in confirmation, swooping straight towards the cloud pillar. Mark watched with dread as the bird penetrated the wall of clouds, and screamed in pain as the electricity surged into his body. Skarmory’s metallic body was beginning to glow with heat, and he used his last power to drive himself to spin and crash violently into Thunderyu beak-first. The dragon let out yet another cry, knocked backwards by a few feet, but then smashed Skarmory down at the ground with his tail while the gap in the clouds closed. May silently recalled her Skarmory.

The sentence "Mark watched with dread as..." is truly something. The comma is incorrect, but I'd argue for including it stylistically if my intention were to clarify that it was Mark and not Skarmory who screamed in pain. I can't imagine why I chose to put that comma there when that's the exact opposite of what I meant.

“You’re not participating, damn it!” Chaletwo suddenly yelled in frustration. “Pokémon, where are half of you? You’re just sitting around on the ground! Do something! Don’t wait for your trainers! Pupitar, use a Rock Slide! Charizard, why aren’t you Flamethrowering it through those clouds? Make yourselves useful already, for Mew’s sake! This is the most damn important thing you’re going to do in your pathetic little lives, and you’re just standing there!”

Chaletwo is, as always, the most composed and diplomatic.

This kicked all the Pokémon into action, in fact to the point of everything becoming extremely chaotic. Mark caught a glimpse of Dragonair diving through the clouds with his tail orbs glowing, but then Charizard breathed a blast of flames through it at another end, and then he noticed Jolteon and Raichu had joined together to attempt to absorb the electricity from the cloud swirl. A series of boulders ripped out of the mountain and zoomed at unnatural speed straight at Thunderyu so that Dragonair only narrowly escaped after his attack. Thunderyu managed to destroy a few of the rocks with bolts of lightning, but one large one smashed straight into the legendary and knocked him harshly backwards – the cloud structure moved along with him. He quickly recovered, although he now seemed to need to flap his wings instead of gliding as he had before. Just then, Racko, Alan’s Grovyle, emitted a loud, high-pitched screech that made Thunderyu roar in agony. They were weakening him; there was no question about it.

Mark suddenly noticed a blur of fire heading towards the vortex, and realized that it was Alan’s Rapidash, Diamond, with a familiar sand-colored pangolin riding on her back.

“Sandslash!” he exclaimed in surprise as the fire horse Pokémon made for a giant leap straight up to where Thunderyu was hidden behind the swirling clouds. The Rapidash whinnied painfully as the electricity shocked her, but she was ready with her horn glowing, and Sandslash was not affected by the sparks at all.

Through the large gap in the clouds, Mark could see Diamond stabbing her horn powerfully into Thunderyu’s underbelly. The dragon cried out in pain, pumping powerful electricity into the horse’s body, but meanwhile Sandslash leapt off her back and landed on Thunderyu’s, digging his long claws through the dragon’s scales.

I do like this thing about individual Pokémon working together, like Sandslash being unable to harm Thunderyu from afar but hitching a ride on Diamond. I think they do less of that in the later legendary battles, which is a shame.

The legendary roared in pain and thrashed violently about in the air in an attempt to get Sandslash off, flapping his wings irregularly. The cloud vortex seemed to be starting to dissolve, and Vicky and Spirit used the opportunity to charge up another combined Shadow Ball and fire it just as Dragonair dived at Thunderyu again and smacked his tail orbs into the other dragon’s head.

The legendary Pokémon roared in pain as he was struck by both attacks. Suddenly his eyes glowed with blood red and at the very same moment, the thunderstorm intensified with showering rain. Steam rose from the dragon’s scales.

Strange phrasing here, making his eyes glowing sound unrelated to the rain even though it's implied they are related.

“He’s using Outrage!” Chaletwo shouted. “Watch out!”

Mark watched in horror as Thunderyu’s entire body flared up in blue flames. Sandslash, still embedded into Thunderyu’s back by the claws, screamed in pain as the dragon flames enveloped him, and as the dragon shook himself violently yet again, Sandslash dropped off, fell and hit the ground below.

Just as Mark recalled Sandslash, Thunderyu emitted an ear-splitting cry, and in an instant, three bolts of lightning struck Charizard, Vicky and Racko. While Charizard roared and crashed into the ground, the legendary’s form disappeared almost completely in the intensifying blue flames and he swooped straight at Dragonair.

“Don’t let him catch you!” Mark yelled, but it was too late: Thunderyu had already engulfed Dragonair in the blue fire, and the snakelike dragon had no way of escaping from the super-effective attack. Only seconds passed before he dropped limply to the ground.

“Return,” Mark whispered as he recalled both of his dragon Pokémon. Now all he had left was Jolteon and Letal…

Thunderyu roared and breathed a tongue of eerie dragon flames down towards where Jolteon and Raichu stood, but a creamy white shape leapt into the way.

“Spirit!” May screamed as the Ninetales shielded the two smaller Pokémon with her body, giving them an opportunity to run.

“Curse!” May gasped in realization. “If you manage it, we’ll just have to survive long enough and we’ll beat it!”

Spirit’s eyes began to glow a hellish red as they had in the Gym battle, but Thunderyu instantly dived down and threw the fox Pokémon to the ground, wrapping her in dragon fire.

“No!”

Again, May is actually being concerned about Spirit getting hurt.

Curse creates kind of a problem for these legendary battles in general; since it's only one opponent and Curse lasts even after the user faints, in theory this absolutely should be an easy way to beat any legendary, which of course means the fic can't actually use it. I probably should've tweaked how it works to reduce the overpoweredness, rather than do this thing where May explicitly realizes Curse would solve all their problems only Thunderyu manages to beat her before she can use it. Logically, given this their strategy for subsequent legendary battles should just be "every Pokémon keeps the legendary at bay while Spirit uses Curse, then they hang on until they win". You could make a similar argument for something like poisoning, too. All in all, I think I should set better boundaries on what's possible.

The red beam of a Pokéball absorbed Spirit into it, leaving Thunderyu crouching on the ground for a second. May’s face was paper-white by now, but she made a quick command:

“Pupitar, Earthquake!”

The pupa was very weakened by the pouring rain, but used his last powers to bounce into the air. When he crashed back into the ground, he closed his eyes in exhaustion and allowed his consciousness to drift away while his final attack produced unnatural ripples in the ground. It looked like it would be futile: Thunderyu was already spreading his wings for flight.

“Hold him down, hold him down!” Chaletwo yelled frantically.

Letal, Pamela, Raichu and Jolteon did not need to be told this twice; in an instant they all leapt onto the dragon’s back, knocking him back down at the ground and doing their best to attack him at the same time.

Thunderyu roared in pain, exhausting a flurry of electric sparks while the blue fire flared up anew. The four Pokémon on top of Thunderyu screamed, exposed to both Thunderyu’s Electric and Dragon powers and Pupitar’s Earthquake, but faithfully endured it and remained where they were, preventing Thunderyu from escaping the last attack.

When the Earthquake ended, they had all fainted.

Thunderyu shook them off and rose slowly up before taking off again.

“Damn it!” Chaletwo swore in their heads. “Damn it, damn it! Ultra Ball, quick!”

Mark grabbed a black and yellow Pokéball from his pocket and tossed it with all his might at the ascending dragon. Miraculously, the ball hit.

The dragon roared as he was absorbed into it and the ball dropped down to the ground. It wobbled.

Wobble.

Wobble.

The ball popped open.

Ah, the wobbling. I have somewhat mixed feelings about this today; I might keep the actual "Wobble" paragraphs, but the other sentences around them are so flat. I'd like to make this more visceral.

“No!” Mark whispered as the dragon materialized in the air again. Thunderyu roared and glared at the three kids.

His body flared blue.

He dived.

Time seemed to slow down to a snail’s pace just then. The dragon descended with murderous eyes. Mark was frozen with fear.

May took out a Pokéball.

She threw it, her lips barely moving as she whispered three words:

“Lapras, I’m sorry.”

Time sped up again. The light from the Pokéball materialized into the shape of the blue turtle, and she fired a beam of ice at the approaching Thunderyu. The dragon cried out in extreme pain, layers of frost forming on his wings, until he crashed into the ground just in front of them, frozen.

It took Mark a couple of seconds to snap out of his trance and reach for a second Ultra Ball. He threw it weakly at the immobile dragon.

Thunderyu’s shape dissolved into red light and was drawn into the ball. It closed tightly and began to shake.

Wobble.

Wobble.

Wobble.

It took a sharp violent twitch which made Mark’s heart stop for a second – but then the button on the ball stopped glowing and it stilled on the ground with a ping.

Everybody just stared at it for a couple of seconds.

Finally Alan was the one who stepped forward and carefully picked it up. He looked at it in his hand, broke out in a grin and started laughing.

Alan handed the ball to Mark, and Mark couldn’t help laughing too.

“YES!” Chaletwo cried triumphantly.

“We did it! I can’t believe it, we did it!” Mark shouted, still laughing.

May didn’t laugh. She just threw herself around Lapras’s neck and whispered, “I’m so sorry…”

Today I think this is kind of over-the-top and out of character. It's enough of an emergency for her to actually apologize and try to send Lapras out, sure, but here in particular I'm making it sound like she's just completely turned around and realized she was wrong and it's all good now, which of course isn't it at all.

Lapras hung her head miserably.

Mark watched the Pokéball disappear from his hand. Now Thunderyu was sealed safely away on the PC. One legendary Pokémon down, many more to go.

And he realized, inexplicably, that the experience of the legendary battle, while terrible while it was going on, had been the most exciting and exhilarating event of his life.

He wanted to do it again.

“I’ve just gone insane,” he muttered to himself, still with a grin plastered on his face.

High above, the skies were clearing.

Oh, Mark, so optimistic. This is going to get a whole lot less fun for you.

Anyway, the fic's first legendary battle! Like with the gym battles, I made a point of giving each legendary battle a twist to make it different and avoid having them become routine or samey - but this first one could largely stand on the novelty of simply being a legendary fight, and that allowed it to be relatively straightforward and end in this delightfully gamelike way with the wobbling and all, with everyone just getting to feel great about themselves for a moment.

The twist that I did include here, of course, is Lapras suddenly up and refusing to battle for May. I still love that moment and how savagely Lapras tears May down and May's utter dumbfounded incredulity at the people she trusted most agreeing with her. On the other hand, I dislike how I pulled off the moment at the end where she apologizes and Lapras is the one to successfully take down Thunderyu. Today, she'd apologize in her desperation as Thunderyu is heading for them, but not go on to throw herself around Lapras's neck and all that.

The actual battle feels shorter and like it has less going on than I remembered, but it still has some good moments to it, and all in all I don't think I did so bad at my first legendary fight. Meanwhile, Chaletwo's being Chaletwo. This may very well be the best chapter so far.


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