The Quest for the Legends (ILCOE)
Chapter 39: The Workings of the War
Route 315 was painfully long.
There was no upwards hiking for a change, which did make it a bit more bearable – in fact, it all seemed to be a little bit downhill – but it was just so darned boring. There were grassy plains after grassy plains with absolutely no variation in the landscape beyond the occasional stream or pond with maybe a couple of trees beside them. And it was just so long. There was the occasional wild Pokémon to keep them occupied, sure – they let the Pokémon that hadn’t taken part in the Volcaryu battle fight them – but nothing interesting enough to really liven it up to any degree, and either because of the sheer distance to Acaria City or because they stopped too frequently for too long, the sun had travelled all the way over the horizon and sank behind Mount Fever before Acaria City was much more than a tempting field of shimmering lights in the far distance.
“We should camp,” Alan said and sighed, stopping on the road as they came to a couple of stray trees. “We won’t get there before tomorrow. No use walking on in the dark.”
They had brought out the Revives, Burn Heals and Hyper Potions early on to heal the Pokémon that had battled Volcaryu and gotten them into decent shape for the most part, so they could send out all of the Pokémon except Lapras and Gyarados. Mark was privately rather relieved that he didn’t have to send out Gyarados, and May also seemed rather relieved that she didn’t have to send out Lapras. Their problems with the two Water Pokémon were perhaps more similar than Mark had realized; the main difference was that Mark had a problem with something Gyarados had done while Lapras had a problem with something May had done.
After coming to the quick conclusion that they weren’t going to be finding any decent amount of firewood there, they got Diamond and the two Charizard to take on the role of the campfire. Then they sat down in a circle so that the distance between the three Fire Pokémon was approximately equal, and although it felt remarkably odd at first to sit in silence around a pile of backpacks with the firelight coming from the circle itself, Mark found himself to be quick to get used to it.
He looked across at May, who was sitting beside her Tyranitar and stroking his rocklike hide absent-mindedly. The Pokémon was lying down on his stomach with his head resting on his arm and his eyes closed, emitting a quiet kind of content growl or murr. Mark noticed suddenly that despite that Pupitar had evolved and was at least now clearly capable of making sounds, he still hadn’t heard him say a word of understandable speech. He tried to recall if he’d ever talked as a Larvitar and didn’t remember him doing so at all. He couldn’t help finding it a little creepy.
“So,” he said, looking over the group. Everyone looked up and waited for him to say something.
“Chaletwo?” he asked, not really quite sure why, reaching into his mind.
“What?” came the snappy reply.
Mark sighed. “Still upset about Volcaryu?”
“You shouldn’t have done that.”
“Come on,” Mark said, irritated. “Carl isn’t going to try to use Volcaryu. You heard the way he talked about him destroying Crater Town.”
“Yes, I did,” Chaletwo replied. “Exactly. He hates Volcaryu because he destroyed his town. And you saw that man kick Pupitar into lava for the heck of it, just to see how heat-resistant he was, for Christ’s sake! Why do you think he really wanted to keep him?”
Mark saw Tyranitar’s eyes flick open at the mention of him. “What do you mean?”
“It’s not the War I’m worried about,” Chaletwo muttered, and Mark suddenly understood.
“You think he’ll… do something to Volcaryu?”
Chaletwo didn’t respond.
“So?” May said in a spectacular moment of insensitivity that she could perhaps only partly be blamed for since she didn’t know where the dragons had come from. “I don’t get why you care so much about those things. I mean, from what I can gather they’re psychotic and violent, have been sleeping for the past thousand years, and have had too little waking time since their creation to develop personalities or intelligent thought beyond ‘Kill the other dragons and whatever might get in the way’. And still you seem to care more about them than Suicune, somebody you’ve actually talked to in person and gotten to know and who is not murderous. Seriously, is it just me or are you hiding something?”
Mark could feel a sting of pain that was not his own in the back of his mind, and for a moment he felt sorry for Chaletwo, sorry enough to abandon his previous intention to just tell May and Alan that Chaletwo had created the dragons. “I’m sure it’s nothing important,” he said instead, and then realized that for this to work out well in a non-obviously suspicious manner he’d have to propose a change of topic to something more important. “I mean, we’re all here on a quest to try to prevent the War of the Legends, so wouldn’t it be nice to maybe get the details clear on that once and for all now? What do you say?” He immediately liked the idea himself; things about it had been pecking at his curiosity for a while. He looked around the circle.
“That would make sense,” Alan said, and everyone else more or less followed with some sort of agreement. It did make a lot of sense. Now that he thought about it, what they knew was all awfully vague.
“I suppose,” said Chaletwo. “I’ll tell you what I know. Just ask.”
“All right,” Mark began. “To start with… the War is caused by something called the Destroyer, which drains the legendaries’ power, right?”
“Yes,” said Chaletwo’s voice.
“What is the Destroyer exactly?”
“Presumably, it’s a legendary Pokémon.”
“Presumably?” May asked sceptically.
“Well, we don’t exactly know much about it,” Chaletwo said. “But the Creator and the Preserver are legendary Pokémon, so it would make sense for the Destroyer to be one as well.”
Mark nodded. “Okay. So the Creator…”
“…is the last legendary survivor of the previous War. Some sort of residual energy from the other legendaries settles into the last one when it’s all over. It gives them the power to create living creatures out of inorganic material.”
“Right. What about the Preserver? I’ve been curious about the Preserver for a while, actually. What does the Preserver do? The Creator has the power to create. Do you have some sort of… power to preserve?”
“The Preserver is the first Pokémon that the Creator creates after the War,” Chaletwo replied. “There’s some extra spark of power that the Creator has at that point which is lost afterwards, and that extra spark gives the Preserver the ability to travel through time.”
“So time-travelling is a Preserver thing? Wait, what about Celebi?”
Chaletwo gave a mental shrug. “Time-travelling isn’t that complicated, if you go into that. You can make a time-traveller without that. That extra spark just makes it happen automatically.”
“Could the Creator decide not to use that extra spark in the first creature he creates?”
“I don’t know. Mew didn’t mention it.”
“So Chaletwo,” May began just as Mark was about to go on, “I’ve been wondering. You can travel through time. Why haven’t you just taken all the legendary Pokémon into the future to just after the moment they’d all go mad? Seems a lot easier than trying to capture all of them.”
Chaletwo sighed. “Time-travelling doesn’t work that way. Every living creature belongs to a certain time. If you take someone to a different time, he’ll still be anchored to his own time, and the Destroyer can drain a legendary’s power through that anchor even when the legendary’s physical existence is in some other time. And maintaining that stretch of the anchor requires the time-traveller to put in a steady flow of energy. Basically we’d all continue to get weaker anyway, I’d eventually become too weak to keep us there, and we’d all bounce back just in time to go mad. In short, useless.”
“What about going to the past, then?” May asked. “Altering it somehow so that the War doesn’t happen?”
Chaletwo sighed again. “That only happens in movies. You can’t mess with the past in the real world. You can go to the future from your own time and then back. Celebi has this prescience thing where she feels a calling to appear at some point in the future, but that’s still only actually travelling to the future and she has awfully little control over it all. There’s no changing the past. I wouldn’t even know what to change if I could.”
“But wait,” Mark said. “Didn’t you say that Chalenor took Mewtwo back in time to be there before the first War? How could Chalenor do that when it was long before Mewtwo’s own time? And how did Mewtwo not just bounce back when Chalenor ran out of power to keep him there?”
There was a long silence. “That is strange,” Chaletwo said at last. “I don’t know why I haven’t thought about that before. Maybe it is possible to take someone from the future back to the time-traveller’s own time, but I’m not sure that would help us any now, especially since I’m not powerful enough to time-travel anymore, anyway.”
“What about how Mewtwo didn’t bounce back, then?”
“I don’t know. Maybe some other power came into it somehow, but I don’t know what it could be.”
Mark took a deep breath. The sudden realization that the situation was ripe with mysteries not even Chaletwo knew the answer to was extremely disconcerting, and suddenly everything seemed a lot more hopeless than it had when he’d been picking up the Ultra Ball containing Volcaryu. But this was only all the more reason to want to find out more.
“So what does the Preserver do exactly again?”
Chaletwo actually paused for a couple of seconds. “Mew says the Preserver has the role of being a guardian of life. Some crap like that.”
“But that’s just an arbitrary role, isn’t it?” Mark protested. “I mean, why are you, or whoever the Creator creates first, the Preserver? Sure, you can automatically time-travel, but I don’t get why that should make you more of a ‘preserver’ than anyone else. Isn’t there anything else that makes you special?”
“Well. Yes,” Chaletwo said hesitantly. He paused for a moment while everyone looked expectantly at Mark and then sighed. “You know how legendary Pokémon are immortal, in the sense that they don’t age or reproduce, but can be killed if their body is destroyed like any other living creature?”
An uncomfortable flash of pulling Suicune’s limp, cold paw to drag the body against dew-coated grass struck Mark’s mind and he felt a sting of pain in his heart at the thought. “Yes, I think we’re all pretty clear on that.”
“Well, the Creator and the Preserver, Mew and I, are true immortals.”
A few seconds passed in stunned silence.
“Meaning… what exactly?” Mark asked slowly.
“Meaning that you could hack away at me with a chainsaw for however long you liked, and the tissue would heal faster than you’d be able to tear through it. It would be painful as all hell, but I’d be fine afterwards.”
This took a while to digest.
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Mark muttered at last and shook his head. “Then there would be two survivors of the War of the Legends, since neither of you can die.”
“Remember that the Destroyer drains away all our powers before the War of the Legends. He gets this as well, just before the end. During the War we’ll be as mortal as the other legendaries.” He paused. “Awfully depressing, being immortal except at just about the only time you’re likely to die.”
Mark shook his head again to clear it. “Okay, this is a bit surprising to find out now, but it doesn’t seem to be of much importance here, so let’s just go on. I’m wondering… can the Destroyer still drain the legendaries’ power when they’ve already been caught?”
“No,” Chaletwo replied. “Or rather, he can drain mine, because I’m anchored to you, which allows him to get to me, but presuming the other legendaries don’t have anchors within the world, which they generally wouldn’t, he won’t be draining theirs. And of course, when I feel that my power has almost run out, I’ll cut the connection to you so that the Destroyer can’t make me mad through that anchor.”
“Wait, so you’re letting your power be drained because you’re in Mark’s head?” May asked.
“Well, yes,” Chaletwo said. “That’s pretty necessary. I need to be able to talk to you guys when I need to, and this is the only way that’s possible. I’d lost too much power already for it to be that much of a loss, and besides, I can act as a clock now, since as I said, I’ll feel it when the War is drawing closer. This is why Molzapart hasn’t been talking to you – he’s not anchored to your brain, although of course he was also pretty powerless before anyway.”
“Right,” Mark said, realizing with bemusement that he had never really thought about why Molzapart wasn’t in his head too. “So when the Destroyer has drained the power of all the legendaries, what happens exactly?”
“The Destroyer emits some kind of pulse of energy, containing all the power of the legendary Pokémon doubled. This power flows directly back into the legendaries and is split evenly between them, and receiving such a large amount of power so suddenly basically drives them into a trancelike mental state focused on nothing but getting all that power out through destruction. They destroy everything, especially one another, until only one of them stands left, who then, as I said, receives this residual energy, which apparently causes them to lose consciousness for a time, and when they wake up they’ve gotten their sanity back as well as the power of the Creator.”
Mark nodded. “So there’s a new Creator and Preserver after every War? What about the Destroyer? If he’s a legendary Pokémon, does he die during the War too? If he does, then how does he come into existence afterwards? Could he be something like the second Pokémon created by the Creator or something? Is he a true immortal as well?”
“I don’t know the answer to any of that,” Chaletwo responded irritably; Mark got the feeling that Chaletwo hated admitting to himself how little he knew. “But it would make the most sense if he were one of the legendaries and a true immortal, I suppose. Of course, I really hope not.”
“Why?” Alan asked. “If we knew who he was, then we could get to the root of the problem, couldn’t we?”
“Well, yes, except that then you’d have to battle something that’s considerably more powerful than all of the legendary Pokémon of today put together. He’s been draining their power for nearly a thousand years, after all. Which is why it worries me, because if the Destroyer is one of the legendary Pokémon, you’ll most likely be confronting him at some point thinking he’s just another legendary and getting a nasty surprise when he kills all of you with the flick of a claw. The best we could do would be to figure out who the Destroyer is beforehand and then know who you don’t want to be battling. Of course, he might also be a legendary whose existence has escaped everyone until now.”
“But if the Destroyer is one of the legendaries,” Alan asked, “what happens to him during the War of the Legends? Does he send his own power off to the other legendaries, making him powerless?”
“Look, I really don’t know. It’s pointless to ask me questions about the Destroyer. I don’t know anything about him, and neither does anyone else. I asked Mew much of the same stuff when I was young and he just shook his head and said he didn’t know.”
“But,” May said, “if we do catch all the legendary Pokémon – what’s going to happen to that pulse of energy? Do you even know? What if it just goes back to the Destroyer, drives him mad and makes him go on a rampage? All we’ll have done will be pointless, and the world ends anyway.”
Chaletwo was silent for a few moments, which Mark found very unsettling.
“It’s the best chance we’ve got,” the legendary said quietly at last, and the hopeless manner in which he said it made a cold shiver run down Mark’s spine.
There were a few seconds of more stunned silence.
“Well, isn’t that a cheery thought,” May said. “We’re on an impossibly dangerous quest to catch all of the legendary Pokémon so that we can perhaps, maybe, if we’re really lucky and pulses of legendary power really do just vanish into thin air, save the world.”
“It isn’t quite that bad,” Chaletwo said quickly. “I mean, maybe the pulse finds normal Pokémon instead when there are no legendary Pokémon, and it would be spread between so many that none of them would gain enough power to go mad like that. Or maybe…”
“Wait, wait, wait,” Mark said, rubbing his forehead and thinking hard. “How does it… ‘know’ that there’s only one legendary Pokémon left?”
Everyone looked at Mark while Chaletwo considered it.
“I… don’t know. That’s an interesting thought. Where are you going with this?”
“So let’s assume the Destroyer does normally die in the War of the Legends. Maybe, if we catch all the legendary Pokémon in time and the power returns to the Destroyer… the War is technically over, because there’s only one legendary Pokémon that has all the power of the others, including that… residual energy you talked about. And the Destroyer becomes the new Creator, and everybody lives, and we won’t have to worry about this for at least another thousand years.”
“Sounds awfully optimistic to me,” May said, but everyone else was quite happy with a bit of optimism and Mark could see the Pokémon’s faces light up with hope. Funny how the very same quest that had felt impossible before suddenly seemed easy when put into perspective with the other dreadful possibilities in the situation.
“That… makes a lot of sense,” Chaletwo said thoughtfully. “It’s just speculation, of course, and we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves, but I think it’s good speculation. We stick to the plan, then. Get all the legendary Pokémon, hope we don’t attack the Destroyer himself, and then hope for the best… it sounds pretty good.”
“Well, not attacking the Destroyer himself is a pretty big point, isn’t it?” Alan said. “We’d have to try to make sure that each legendary we attack is not the Destroyer first. What would be the most likely one to be it? What is the second Pokémon that Mew created?”
“Well,” Chaletwo said, “he started with Kanto’s legendaries and then went on to the other regions, and the trios were created first, so…”
“Articuno,” Mark finished quietly, and his heart seemed to sink into a bottomless pit.
Alan shook his head. “Okay, I think it’s been enough speculation for today. We’ve got our goals clear, and that’s the most important thing. The next legendary we’re going for is Polaryu, right? Champion Island?”
“So to get to him as quickly as possible, we should get to sleep so that we can head on to Acaria City early tomorrow. And sleep might clear out our heads a little and give us more good ideas, right? Pokémon, you can be outside of your balls.”
There were murmurs of agreement and everyone prepared to go to sleep. Mark sighed, got his sleeping bag from the pile, unrolled it on the ground and crawled into it to lie down on his side. He saw that May was already in hers with her eyes closed, just next to where Tyranitar was still lying silently awake and watching him.
He would have found it creepy if his mind hadn’t been too occupied by the thought that his second favourite Pokémon that he had spent countless battling classes sketching up on the back of his schoolwork might after all be the creature bringing about the end of the world.
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