Chapter 34: Stormblade and Shadowdart
They journeyed through Ruxido without anything relatively interesting happening, apart from when they decided to let their pokémon out of their balls to get some fresh air. Apart, of course, from Gyarados and Lapras.
Mark noticed that Scyther kept staring at the treetops and looking around, and was thinking about asking when Scyther seemed to have read his thoughts.
“I used to live here when I was young, you know.”
“Really?” Mark asked. “Did you meet Scizor in here?”
“Yup,” Scyther sighed.
They didn’t say anything for a while, but due to Mark being very interested in Scyther’s past, he ended up asking:
“Was she... you know, beautiful?”
“Beautiful? Of course she was,” Scyther replied. “But don’t forget that I’m a Scyther and you’re a human. We measure beauty in different ways. Humans tend to think of beauty as something that equals being thin, using a lot of unnatural lotions to keep your skin smooth, and a load of other things that can only be seen on the outside.” Scyther snorted to show his disgust. “We, on the other hand, measure beauty in the scythes.”
“Isn’t that just on the outside too?” Mark said, raising his eyebrows.
“No, of course not,” Scyther said. “Your scythes reflect your personality. The way you care for them can be read like an open book to determine how much you respect yourself, and, more importantly, how much you respect your enemies.”
“See, any Scyther can feel the difference between cuts from well sharpened scythes and cuts from badly sharpened ones. When we’re born, the scythes are soft and don’t cut at all, but when they start to harden, we need to start learning martial arts so we won’t be sliced up by our next opponent. The parents usually handle that teaching, and a part of it is caring for our scythes. A well-sharpened scythe gives you thin, deep cuts that don’t bleed much and don’t hurt much apart from a bit of stinging for a second. A badly sharpened scythe gives you thick, shallow cuts that bleed a lot, and hurt a lot.”
Scyther paused, then added: “You can also read your opponent’s wounds to see what they have battled. A Scyther who has only battled Scythers will only have those cuts. I have battled a Scizor, and a Scyther could easily see that just by examining my body a bit. Scizors can use their pincers like a hammer, if it hits well it can crack your skull but otherwise it just leaves a big bruise. They can use them to crush your arm or leg or something, that will usually get them cut off or you’ll have two thick, deep cuts that bleed a lot. They can also, in a desperate attempt to be like a Scyther, cut with the inside of their pincers, and that will give you tiny scratches you don’t even feel. At least, it is generally frowned upon to cause pain to your opponent by not sharpening your scythes properly. Torturing is low. But it still differs between individuals how much we do it. Some sharpen their scythes every day. Some even after every duel. Some consider it enough to do it when they’ve seen an opponent being in pain from their cuts. I myself developed a special way to know when I should sharpen them. Every night, I test them, and if they hurt, I need to sharpen them more.”
Scyther showed Mark a row of scars lined all over his arms. As they went farther down, they looked newer. At the very bottom there was one new-looking, very clean cut Mark presumed was from yesterday evening. He didn’t want to comment on Scyther’s way to keep his scythes intact, so he just nodded.
They walked on in more silence. Suddenly, Scyther stopped. Mark stopped too, May and Alan noticed it too and soon enough everybody was staring at Scyther, who seemed to be listening very hard.
All of a sudden, two Scythers darted over their heads and landed in front of Scyther.
“Long since we last met,” one of the new Scythers said. His voice was hoarse, and deeper than Mark’s Scyther’s.
“What have you been up to?” the other said. His voice was even deeper, but had a more powerful sound to it.
“Stormblade. Shadowdart,” Scyther just said.
“Razor,” answered Stormblade, the hoarse one, in exactly the same tone.
“What are you doing with those humans?” Shadowdart growled, his gaze rolling over to the kids, followed by Stormblade’s, as he narrowed his eyes. His arm twitched, and Mark noticed that a chunk seemed to be missing out of his scythe.
Stormblade, however, looked older than Shadowdart and Mark’s Scyther (whose name or nickname was apparently Razor), had an eye missing and was absolutely covered in cuts of all shapes and sizes. His wings were all torn up.
Scyther hesitated, but then whispered slowly, “He’s my trainer.”
“Your trainer?” Shadowdart said in disgust. “Are you trying to tell me you let some filthy human creature stuff you into a ball?”
Scyther didn’t say anything. Mark could see it in his eyes that he wanted to announce that Mark wasn’t filthy, but knew he could never say such a thing in front of another Scyther.
“What’s up with you still being intact?” Stormblade said and glared at Mark. “Can’t he afford a Metal coat?”
When they realized that Scyther wasn’t about to answer, Shadowdart decided to bring up another topic.
“So, you got her?”
“Nope,” Scyther said. “A trainer caught her.”
“Caught her!” Stormblade cried. “How is that possible? She had the scythes to level the whole of Ruxido, for crying out loud!”
“She was asleep…” Scyther said, his voice dying out at the end as he looked into the air.
“Ah, that explains it,” Stormblade said. “I don’t know what she was thinking, though, going to sleep. Who needs sleep? There are enemies on every side.”
“What, you saw it but didn’t do anything?” Shadowdart said sharply. Scyther shook his head painfully.
“What kind of lowly cowardice is that?” Shadowdart snapped furiously.
“My, my, that’s so unlike you,” Stormblade just said, surveying Scyther carefully. “You would normally have more guts than the two of us put together! You had the guts to…” Stormblade hesitated, looking quickly over to the kids, “…erm, I mean, the first try. I couldn’t until my third, Shadowdart needed nine to finally do it, and then he had to close his eyes!”
Scyther smiled at the thought, but Shadowdart looked like he wanted to disappear, so Mark assumed that whatever ‘it’ was, needing nine tries for it was ridiculously much, and that you were supposed to do it with your eyes open.
“I don’t know why I didn’t go and help,” Scyther finally said, slowly. “I just didn’t…”
“You’ve turned into a coward!” Shadowdart roared. “It might even be true that you begged for mercy, I’ve lost all faith in your sense of honour!”
“Now, now,” said Stormblade. “Don’t jump to conclusions, Shadowdart. I watched the battle myself, and I saw clearly that they just looked into each other’s eyes, and she spared him for no reason at all except that she thought he was too cute to die this young.”
“Rubbish,” Shadowdart snarled. “I don’t believe in love. Nightmare is just a coward too, probably she didn’t mind becoming a Scizor…”
“How dare you,” Scyther hissed, suddenly regaining his confidence. “I demand a duel!”
“I don’t duel with losers,” Shadowdart snapped.
“So, I’m a loser now, am I?” Scyther said in a dangerous voice. “Who was it who needed nine attempts to collect the courage to kill for the first time?”
“I…” Shadowdart began, but Stormblade interrupted.
“I have to say that I’m more concerned about what Razor is doing with those humans.”
Scyther had the look in his eyes that showed that he was in the mood to let the scythes do the talking, but because of the confidence he had a sudden dose of, he was more than ready to answer.
“Want the full story now, do you? I followed the human who caught Nightmare. After he evolved her, I broke in through the window, I was almost shot to death and when I got outside again, I fainted from the shots. Next thing I knew, I was with an adult human. A human who respected scythes and wouldn’t have evolved me if he were paid for it. But he wasn’t interested in anything but Mew, and after a little encounter with Mark here where I was actually killed, Mew appeared and with his full interest rekindled, my trainer went off to search for Mew again. I had a choice of going back into the wild, staying with my former trainer or joining Mark. I didn’t want to stay with my former trainer because I knew he didn’t care about me now. But do you know why I preferred going with Mark? Do you?”
Scyther glared at Stormblade and Shadowdart, who were a bit stunned by his sudden speech, and then continued:
“Because I knew what you’d think! I had been caught by a freakin’ trainer, I had been defeated twice, my life had been spared once, I had been a coward, my pride had been reduced to dust, and I knew that I would never gain respect again in a Scyther society, I’d become an outcast if not worse…” Scyther said the last words very bitterly, then continued:
“Now, here we have Mark. Tell you what? I don’t regret my decision. I wouldn’t want to leave him for all of you, filled with prejudice. I knew that not having helped Nightmare would make Shadowdart despise me, I knew that being around humans would make Stormblade turn his back to me, I knew that simply having been defeated would drive everybody else away! For hell’s sake, my own parents didn’t even want to recognize me! What kind of life is that? I just realized that our society has a problem, and I have no desire to be a part of it anymore!”
For a moment, no sound was heard except for Scyther’s rapid breathing.
“Fine, be that way,” said Shadowdart, turned away and folded his arms.
“I’ll sure as hell be that way,” Scyther hissed. “You don’t know what you’re missing!”
“Why didn’t I leave you already when you were beaten?” Shadowdart just said bitterly.
“Because the only thing that changed was that I realized that winning isn’t everything,” said Scyther shortly. Shadowdart didn’t answer.
Stormblade finally opened his mouth.
“You… you… prefer humans over the rest of your kin?”
“Yes,” said Scyther determinedly.
Stormblade’s one eye stared at Mark.
“Are you sure you want to throw away the little that is left of your reputation?” he said slowly.
There was a long silence.
“So be it, then…” said Stormblade, staring into the air. Shadowdart shook his head and took off. Stormblade said quietly “Farewell, Razor,” and then flapped his torn wings and shot off towards the sky.