The Quest for the Legends (ILCOE)
Chapter 54: Reunion
They packed up silently the next morning and May led the way in the direction of the ocean. The ferry was anchored a short distance offshore; they flew over to it on Charizard and Skarmory and spent the journey back to mainland Ouen without talking.
Mark had explained what had happened to their Pokémon the previous night. Floatzel had been completely unable to understand what they were so upset about, and Mark had the feeling several others felt the same even if they didn’t voice it (Scyther had just looked at Mark, his gaze unfazed and faraway; Letaligon had been shifty and impatient, though May’s silence seemed to unnerve her enough that she didn’t complain; Mutark had spent the whole speech flicking her tail around or pouncing on flowers save for taking an abrupt interest when he got to trying to get words around the murder itself). Others, such as Jolteon, had just looked nervous and miserable. Mark had tried to reassure them that everything would be okay and they wouldn’t have to worry about it, but they’d been no less quiet and uncomfortable. Mark himself was doing his best to believe his own words, but he still couldn’t get rid of the hollow feeling in his chest or that little pang of horror in his stomach he felt when he thought about it.
He was relieved when the ferry finally pulled in at the Route 308 dock around six in the evening. Only a handful of passengers were getting off, since most of the trainers from the League were heading home and even Green Town, technically closer to here than Merville, was more easily accessible via the long route than through the wild grasslands of Routes 308 and 309. Alan was waiting alone by the pier and waved enthusiastically as soon as he spotted them; they quickly made their way over to him.
“Welcome back,” Alan said as he hugged them both. “How have you been? We have so much to talk about. Hey, are you hungry? They serve hamburgers at that place across from the Pokémon Center.”
“Yeah, I’m kinda hungry,” Mark replied, and Alan marched off in the direction of the little road shop he’d pointed to. He seemed a bit on edge; Mark wondered idly what was up with him.
Alan turned to May as they walked. “You’re being quiet,” he said. “Are you still upset about the finals?”
“Yeah, I guess,” she replied without looking at him.
“Well, Taylor cheated,” Alan said. “You can’t think like that forever. You were awesome, no matter what you say. Come on, let’s get burgers.”
They were the only customers. A bored-looking blonde teenage girl behind the counter was watching cartoons on the television, not having bothered to even turn the volume down. May sat down at the first table they passed and told them she wasn’t really hungry and would just have some of their fries; the boys went to place their orders at the counter.
“Has she just been like that since the battle?” Alan whispered when the blonde girl had retreated to the kitchen to make their hamburgers.
Mark’s stomach lurched in momentary panic. Should they tell him? Could they tell him? May had acted like it was all about the battle. Should he too? Could they really go on without ever telling him about it?
“Pretty much,” he said before he’d really reached a conclusion, surprising himself with how relatively convincing he managed to make it sound.
Alan sighed and shook his head, then turned to return to their table. Mark followed him, glancing at May; she was staring unseeingly at the television.
“So,” Alan said when they’d sat down, looking straight at Mark. “Chaletwo. Why the hell didn’t you tell us about Thunderyu, Volcaryu and Polaryu?”
Mark could feel the legendary’s alarm in the back of his mind. “What do you mean?” Chaletwo replied defensively.
“You know what he means!” came Molzapart’s telepathic voice, cold and harsh. “Three dragons of Ouen, huh? Funny how nobody else knew about those. Funny how I didn’t know about those, and supposedly I was working with you. I wonder how it would happen that you’d know about three legendaries sealed away somewhere that nobody else knows about.”
“What?” May asked, looking between Mark and Alan and seeming utterly lost.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Molzapart said, “I guess he never told you either that he...”
“I made them,” Chaletwo interrupted. “Yes, I made them. I was young and stupid. Don’t think I don’t regret it.”
“That explains a lot of things,” May muttered.
“And when were you planning to tell us that, you idiot?” hissed Molzapart. “All this time, they’ve been cleaning up your mess! They’ve made no actual progress – oh, save Suicune, whom they killed! What is this?”
“About that,” Chaletwo said. “Suicune – he didn’t die. Not really. He’s using a soul gem. So is Entei. We found him and he explained it to us. They’re both in the gems now.”
“Soul gems? Oh, what the – don’t change the subject. You made three legendaries. Why didn’t I know? Why didn’t they know?”
“Does it really change anything?” Chaletwo asked, exasperated. “I told them the dragons existed. They caught them. We don’t have to worry about them anymore. Why does it matter where they came...”
“It matters,” Alan said loudly, but quickly caught himself and lowered his voice again, “because, Chaletwo, for God’s sake, we’re on a very important mission here and we need there to be trust. How can we work together to save the world if we have to constantly wonder if there’s something you’re not telling us?”
“I’m not hiding anything else,” Chaletwo said, with a subtle emphasis on the ‘I’ that made Mark all too aware of the irony of the situation. “And Mark knew that I made the dragons. If he’d decided to tell you, there’s nothing I could have done about it, but he didn’t.”
Mark flinched under Alan’s scandalized gaze. “What? It’s my fault now?”
“Well, why didn’t you say anything?”
Mark thought back to that moment; it felt like years ago. “Chaletwo didn’t want me to, and I guess I kind of sympathized,” he said. “Molzapart should have known, maybe, but where the dragons came from isn’t really anything that matters.”
“I agree with him,” May said suddenly. “It doesn’t change anything. We already caught the dragons. Arguing about it now isn’t helping anyone.”
Alan threw up his arms in frustration the way he liked to, but Molzapart wasn’t so easily silenced by a majority vote. “Damn right, I should have known,” he said. “Yes, the dragons have been caught, thankfully, but that doesn’t change that keeping it secret was wildly irresponsible and represents both a monumental lapse of judgement and a breach of trust. Why is Chaletwo still leading this expedition again?”
“Because, Molzapart,” Chaletwo replied irritably, “you still have powers that could be of some real value if you conserve them in a Pokéball, whereas I’m currently at my most useful blabbering instructions in some kid’s head. But if you want to switch, be my guest.”
There was a stunned silence while the waitress arrived at their table with the hamburgers and gave them an odd look as she laid the food down. Mark could only imagine their conversation sounded horribly weird to anyone outside the range of the legendaries’ telepathic speech.
Neither Molzapart nor Chaletwo spoke again even after the girl was gone. “Right,” Mark said after a moment that seemed to make it clear they’d dropped the subject. “So, uh, let’s eat?”
Alan silently picked up his hamburger and took a big bite out of it, and Mark hesitantly picked up his own. May reached listlessly for a fry, but froze when it was halfway to her mouth, staring; Mark turned around to see an image of Taylor on the screen of the still-running television.
“Controversial League Champion Taylor Lancaster was found dead on Champion Island this afternoon,” the anchorwoman was saying, and Mark’s stomach twisted itself into a knot. “Lancaster was last seen using his genetically-engineered Pokémon ‘Mewtwo²’ to teleport out of an aggressive crowd of protesters after his victory in the finals of the Ouen League yesterday. During the League, he attracted nationwide heat for his use of so-called ‘super-clones’ engineered by his brother Richard Lancaster of the Cleanwater City Pokémon Gym, especially the aforementioned Mewtwo².”
Mark looked at Alan; he’d stopped chewing mid-bite, now also staring at the TV screen.
“Though the investigation is still underway, it appears twelve-year-old Lancaster was killed by a large Pokémon, most likely a Tyranitar. Wild Tyranitar are known to live in the area, but police will not rule out the possibility of human involvement at this time.”
The anchorwoman looked solemnly at the camera for a moment, just long enough to seem appropriately respectful, before she continued with a professional smile: “Also don’t forget the exclusive live interview with Richard Lancaster coming up later, only on O-7! The man who has refused to speak to the press since the beginning of his mysterious and controversial career finally opens up in the wake of his brother’s tragedy! Don’t miss it.”
Alan swallowed as the anchorwoman started to talk about something else. “Whoa,” he said. “That’s...” He looked unsurely at May, who was pale and wide-eyed, looking like she’d seen a ghost. “I can’t believe it. I mean, nobody wanted him to win the League, but...”
Nobody spoke for a moment; in the background, the television blared with cheerful commentary on the still-ongoing Sinnoh League.
“I wonder what’s up with Rick,” Alan went on when the others didn’t say anything. “He never took an interview in his life, and he chooses now of all times to change his mind? And the media just jump on it without question to get their exclusive scoop? That’s kind of sick.”
But Alan remained glued to the screen; May, too, was staring at it as if mesmerized. Mark had a horrible feeling about this; he wanted to ask the girl at the counter to change the channel or turn off the TV, but how could he do that without explaining why? And anyway, she was watching it intently herself.
“And now, for what we’ve all been waiting for,” the anchorwoman said at last after a couple more inconsequential reports. “A world-first – O-7 secured an exclusive live interview with the mysterious Cleanwater City Gym leader, Richard Lancaster! Over to you, Heather.”
They cut to a woman standing outside a nondescript house. “Thank you, Carla. Here we have the man himself, for the first time ever in an interview – uh, let me first say, I’m very sorry for your loss.”
The camera panned to Rick. He looked terrible and not really fit for television; his hair was uncombed and messy and his expression was disturbingly haunted and restless. He didn’t respond to the reporter, instead looking unnervingly straight at the camera with bloodshot, staring eyes.
“Uh, Rick?” the reporter asked off-screen after a second.
There was still no response. Rick blinked, not taking his eyes off the camera lens, and then said quietly, “Whoever did this to my brother...”
In the middle of the flashes of sickening memories assaulting his mind, Mark couldn’t help somehow feeling sorry for the man. Rick lowered his head and closed his eyes for a moment, swallowing before he looked up again.
“...I’ll fucking kill you.”
Without warning, Rick’s expression turned utterly psychotic. “I’ll find you and strangle you with my own bare hands, you hear me?” he snarled, looking straight into Mark’s eyes; the reporter stepped into the frame, wide-eyed, making a frantic cutting motion in front of her neck with her hand. “I’ll tear your...”
The image abruptly cut back to Carla the news anchor, now wearing an expression of panicked alarm. She took a second to regain her composure, then cleared her throat. “Unfortunately, the interview with Richard Lancaster has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. We apologize for the unexpected profanity in this report.”
A knot of irrational fear had lodged itself in Mark’s stomach. He looked quickly at May; she’d turned very pale, but didn’t say or do anything. Her eyes remained fixed on the TV screen.
“Well, that was... interesting,” Alan said after a moment. “At least that explains why Rick was willing to be interviewed all of a sudden.”
There was silence. Alan looked between Mark and May.
“Are you guys all right?” he finally asked.
“We’re perfectly fine,” May replied suddenly, stuffed the fry she was still holding into her mouth and reached for more off Alan’s plate. Mark forced himself to continue with his hamburger too, and after looking suspiciously at the two of them for a few seconds, Alan also turned his attention to the food. They finished eating silently while Mark debated with himself how much of his burger he could leave behind without making Alan ask more questions; he ended up forcing down about two thirds of it, still feeling sick. Eventually they paid up and exited the building, and Mark was relieved for the fresh air.
“So,” Alan said, “are your Pokémon all healed up? Because then we could probably just set off north now, without having to stop at the Pokémon Center.”
“No, let’s go there,” May said without looking at him. “I need to release a Pokémon.”
“Wait, what?” Alan asked in confusion, but she was already walking towards the other building. He looked at Mark as if hoping for an explanation; Mark avoided meeting his eyes and hurried after May.
“You mean another one of your Pokémon asked to be released?” Alan called as he followed them inside. May didn’t answer and walked straight up to the PC by the wall. There was nobody else there at the moment; even the nurse wasn’t present at the counter.
“Tyranitar?” Alan asked in puzzlement as she quickly navigated the menus to deactivate the dinosaur’s Pokéball for good. “Was he unhappy?”
“No,” May replied without looking at him as she placed the ball on a Pokéball holder on the machine.
“Why would you release him? You’d better not be blaming him for losing against Mewtwo², because...”
“I know that wasn’t his fault,” May said, her voice shaking a little. “He had to go. I couldn’t keep him around.”
Alan looked blankly at her, then at Mark, then back at her, and then all of a sudden his eyes widened. “Wait,” he began. “Wasn’t Taylor killed by a...”
He looked desperately at Mark, his eyes begging for some innocent explanation. Mark couldn’t bring himself to lie; with a pang of guilt, he looked away.
Alan took a horrified step back. “You... oh, God.”
“It was an accident,” May said, finally turning away from the computer. Her voice was still shaky, but she kept her expression remarkably calm. “I didn’t like him, but I would never, ever actually want somebody dead, okay?”
“Accident?” Alan repeated, sounding truly worked up. “How does your Pokémon accidentally attack the boy who beat you in the League finals? What is wrong with you?”
“It wasn’t their fault,” Chaletwo said with a telepathic sigh. “The Tyranitar attacked him of his own accord. She tried to recall him but was too late. Now, as I said to them, you have more important things to think about than this boy. This isn’t a big deal.”
“People being murdered is a big deal!”
Alan looked at Mark with his fists clenched, his breath shaky; his expression asked a hundred accusing questions. The look of betrayal in his eyes alone made Mark avert his gaze, unable to face him.
“Sorry, Alan,” said Molzapart reluctantly after a second, “but I have to agree with Chaletwo. This doesn’t affect your mission. There’s no benefit in dwelling on it.”
“But what about the police?” Alan protested. “What about Rick? We were just watching him threatening his brother’s murderer on live television!”
“As I told them, directing the police’s attention elsewhere if they start connecting the dots shouldn’t be too hard,” Chaletwo said. “And how could Rick possibly know what happened or who was involved? He doesn’t even know it wasn’t a wild Tyranitar. He was just angry and wanted there to be a culprit.”
Alan took a deep breath and shook his head. “You are unbelievable,” he said. “We’re just supposed to carry on like nothing happened?”
Alan looked at Mark, then at May, his expression wretched and miserable. “I guess we don’t have a choice,” he said finally, turning away. “Come on. Let’s go.”
As they followed him out of the building and headed north, Mark couldn’t help having the creeping feeling that Alan would never trust them the same way again.
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