The Quest for the Legends (ILCOE)
Chapter 28: Scyther's Revenge
A/N: Some details of Hitmonchan anatomy nabbed from Iveechan.
Mark woke up to the smell of fried eggs. He opened his eyes, taking a second to remember where he was, and then sat up.
Alan and May were already up, and indeed, Alan was frying eggs on a pan on the remains of yesterday’s fire. May was repacking her sleeping bag. The Pokémon were back, some sleeping and some just standing around, perhaps engaging in conversations with one another. May’s Pupitar was now standing straight up, his eyes open, dark and staring. Mark shuddered; that creature was creeping him out more with every passing day.
“Good morning, Mark,” Alan said, handing him a plate with an egg. “Hey… do you know where Scyther went?”
Mark quickly looked over the group of Pokémon again, first now noticing that Scyther wasn’t there. He froze.
“No…” he said worriedly, his heart beating hard. He wasn’t sure why he felt so suspicious – after all, he had probably just forgotten about time or something – but something gave him a bad feeling about this. He told himself to calm down and at least wait a bit, and stabbed his fork into his egg.
“Who’s that?” May asked, pointing at a human-shaped shadow walking on the path they had come from. Mark squinted at it; it was too small to be an adult at the very least. He took a bite of his food, watching it with interest. As the shadow neared, he suddenly realized what it was.
What made him realize it was the shape of the head; the top of the forehead took a shape distantly reminiscent of a crown. However, the nearer it came, the less human it looked; it had a flat face without a nose, for example, and was not wearing any clothes (not even the standard Hitmonchan boxing gloves and tunic, which Mark found slightly odd). Some details of Hitmonchan anatomy which were rarely seen by others than the people who trained them, such as the muscular chest being creamy yellow rather than the brown that the rest of the skin and that the natural fists had red, blue and yellow jewels embedded in the knuckles, were plainly visible. Puzzling as it was, considering his lack of clothing, he was carrying a backpack.
“Good morning,” the Hitmonchan said politely, having stopped at reasonable talking distance from them. He looked between the kids and Pokémon, awaiting a reply.
“You’re…” Charizard started slowly, “you’re Fury from the Pokémon Frenzy Tournament.”
Fury grinned. “I’m glad you remember me.”
Mark looked to the sides, confused. “Where is your trainer?”
“I am my own trainer,” Fury replied with a slight nod of his head. Mark stared at him.
“Huh? You mean you’re wild?”
“I mean exactly what I said,” Fury simply said. “I am the fully qualified trainer of myself.”
He smiled as he looked at everybody’s expressions, seemingly enjoying himself as a mystery. “I have a licence,” he then added for clarification.
“But Pokémon can’t get trainer licences!” said May, the first person to voice what everybody was thinking.
Fury smiled again. “I’m the first, but I hope many will follow in my footsteps.”
“But…” Mark stuttered, “why?”
“Well,” Fury replied, “it just so happens that I am interested in the Pokémon league, but not so interested in having a trainer. I spoke with the authorities and presented my idea, and finally convinced them that this would be an important step towards Pokémon equality. My journey is an experiment, and I hope it will go well and that they will get the league to make an exception of the six-Pokémon rule in the case of Pokémon on their own.”
“How does this work, though?” May asked, clearly interested. “Can you catch Pokémon?”
“Technically,” Fury replied. “I currently have a normal human trainer licence. But I don’t want to catch other Pokémon. I am myself and have no interest in battling unless I do the fighting.”
“What about when you faint?” Mark asked.
“I know myself better than letting that happen,” he said with a slight smile. “Besides, I’ve got a Focus Band just for safety.” He pointed to a red and yellow band he was wearing on his head. “A Focus Band is something that will allow you to survive anything without falling completely unconscious. It’s not very likely to leave you in a state to battle, but it will at least give me a chance to forfeit and heal myself.”
May nodded thoughtfully. “You battle trainers, then, in one-on-one?”
“Yes,” Fury confirmed. “In fact, I thought perhaps one of you would like a battle?” He got a slightly mischievous smile. “I’ve found much satisfaction in trying out trainers to see how they will fare against Pokémon and trainer who are one and the same.”
He looked between them; Alan shook his head but May looked interested.
“I’d like to try,” Mark said, shrugging, mainly looking for a way to kill time while he waited for Scyther.
“Can you battle both of us?” May asked. “I’d like a try too.”
“Well,” Fury replied with a smile, “that depends on whether I feel I can battle after the first one.”
“Oh, all right,” May said thoughtfully. “Mark, you can try first.”
“I request, by the way,” Fury added, “that because I am incapable of choosing my own weaknesses, you should pick a Pokémon that does not have a physical advantage over Fighting Pokémon.”
Mark nodded. “Sandslash?”
The pangolin Pokémon nodded back and came to Mark’s side. There was a reason he chose Sandslash: remembering Charmeleon coughing up blood at the Pokémon Frenzy Tournament, he wanted to use a Pokémon with considerable defensive abilities. He looked nervously at his Pokémon; Sandslash seemed fearless, which made him a bit more confident.
Meanwhile, Fury had taken off his backpack and opened it to reveal that that was where he kept his gloves and tunic. “I hope you don’t mind me battling tunic-less?” he questioned, pulling on his gloves. “They only require it for official battles because some people don’t like to look at naked humanoids…” He chuckled slightly and looked at the kids; they just shook their heads.
“The gloves are necessary, though,” he explained with slight resent as he adjusted them and examined them from all angles. “Without them slightly absorbing the force of the punch and spreading it around a larger area, Hitmonchan can smash skulls. Well, are we starting now?”
Whether Fury realized it or not (at least he had just started stretching as he said the last sentence), the news about Hitmonchan smashing skulls was not the most comfortable Mark had ever received. He glanced at Fury’s thin and weak-looking arms, finding it very creepy that they could contain that kind of muscular power. Nonetheless, he reassured himself with the fact that at least Fury did have his gloves, and replied, “Yeah, sure.”
Fury nodded, smiling, and got into a defensive fighting stance, his keen eyes watching Sandslash closely.
“Earthquake!” Mark shouted, sensing that Fury was waiting for him to start. Sandslash rose to his hind legs and smashed himself powerfully back into the ground, releasing a flurry of shock waves through the ground. However, the moment before being hit, Fury suddenly leapt up. He then turned in mid-air, kicking into a tree to jump sideways at the pangolin with his fist pulled back. This was all too fast for Mark to work it out and blurt out a command in time, but thankfully Sandslash had faster reflexes and curled into a tight ball of spikes. Icy blue energy seemed to circle Fury’s glove for a fraction of a second before he smashed it into Mark’s Pokémon with enough force to send him flying right at Mark – he narrowly managed to duck – and into a tree while the Hitmonchan landed. When Sandslash uncurled and shook himself slightly before returning to his normal position, he thankfully didn’t look that hurt; Mark owed it to the timely Defense Curl.
Mark didn’t have the time to issue an order; while Sandslash was waiting for him to finish the instructions, Fury caught him off guard with another Ice Punch in the gut. Sandslash flailed a bit as his vulnerable underbelly was covered with frost; the Hitmonchan grabbed the opportunity to punch him again in the jaw. Sandslash staggered painfully backwards and finally lost his balance and fell helplessly onto his back, blood trickling from his mouth.
Mark painfully recalled his Pokémon, feeling a bit embarrassed by how quickly and easily Fury had won the battle. He looked around and suddenly remembered his previous worries.
“Er,” he said, “I think I’m going to go look for Scyther now. I’m getting a bit anxious.”
May, who was getting ready for her battle, nodded; Alan just shrugged casually while his expression had a small hint of worry. Fury walked up to him and held out his hand, having taken that glove off.
“Yeah, bye,” Mark replied. “Thanks for the battle and all…”
“You’re too slow,” Fury suddenly said.
“Huh?” Mark asked, a bit surprised by the abrupt announcement.
“You’re too slow,” Fury repeated. “It’s what made you lose. Your Pokémon battle better without you than with; they have to wait for you to tell them an order or act on their own accord. You’re too slow making the orders.”
The words stung. In essence, Mark knew that; ever since he started his journey, he had felt slightly embarrassed by how long it usually took him to think of an attack. However, having that broken down to him by somebody else was another thing entirely, and it was a bit painful.
“You have potential,” Fury started again, looking into Mark’s eyes. “While you aren’t born with the reflexes and thought speed for a master trainer, your Pokémon stick with you. I don’t know you enough to be able to tell why that is, but something is there – perhaps you know. Don’t try to battle with a talent you don’t have. Change your strategy to bring your true abilities to use.”
Mark stared at him, feeling oddly numb. “Thanks,” he muttered. “I will.”
Fury turned, giving him a perhaps slightly too powerful pat on the back. “Good luck,” he said and walked back over to face May. Mark waved doubtfully and headed into the forest alone.
Scyther wasn’t too far away. Mark was surprised by how quickly he caught a glimpse of the glossy yellow wings between some trees.
He stepped off the road and almost immediately got his leg tangled in the undergrowth. While attempting to get himself free, he shouted, “Scyther!”
The mantis turned around suspiciously quickly and hid his scythes behind his back. As Mark untangled himself, he walked slowly nearer, feeling a bit uneasy.
“What are you hiding?” he asked doubtfully, looking at his Pokémon. That kind of pose was laughably awkward for a Scyther. As he heard no answer, he suspiciously came even closer and tried to walk around the mantis; Scyther turned along with him so his blades were kept out of view. By turning left suddenly enough, Mark managed to catch a glimpse of something red.
He immediately froze, feeling suddenly cold as the color drained from his face. His heartbeats doubled in speed within seconds as he looked frantically around. In between the branches of the bush right behind Scyther, he saw something white.
The world seemed to stop as Mark’s vision faded to reddish black; his brain protested with dizziness like the world around him was being sucked into a black hole, and he felt like he was about to faint. This horrible state lasted for an eternity of a second.
“Scyther, you… you killed someone,” Mark said weakly when the world had more or less returned to normal, backing away slightly. In sudden nausea, he bent over and threw up his half-digested breakfast.
“No,” Scyther said in his usual, calm voice.
Mark raised himself up with an expression of horror and disgust, his legs trembling like jelly in an earthquake. “Don’t lie to me,” he said shakily. “There’s a body… You’ve got… you’ve got blood on your…”
“He’s not dead,” Scyther said coolly.
“What do you mean, he’s not dead?” Mark screamed, explosive anger taking over his mind. How dare he be so calm, how dare he use that voice…
“He’s not dead yet… I’m letting him bleed to death… Mark, listen to me…”
“Why would I listen to you?” Mark shouted back. “Why are you killing him? Who is that, anyway?”
“It’s Scizor’s trainer,” Scyther spat with uttermost loathing. Suddenly, a wave of understanding washed over Mark. He felt a little bit calmer; squeezing his eyes shut, he replied, “Even though it’s Scizor’s trainer, it’s no excuse to kill him… We need to get an ambulance now… I think May has a cellphone… we need to go and borrow…”
“Do we have to?” Scyther interrupted. These four words shattered everything that was left of Mark’s former view of Scyther to pieces.
“Yes, we have to,” Mark said, trying to keep calm.
Scyther sighed deeply. “You don’t understand, do you? I just saw him as I was returning to you, and I – I had to…”
“You didn’t ‘have to’!” Mark snapped. “You’re an idiot! Do you even realize what you’ve done? This is an attempted murder by a trained Pokémon! It breaks the Agreement! It’s…”
“I never meant to get you into trouble,” Scyther sighed. “I didn’t think that far.”
“You’re the one who needs to understand, you know,” Mark said heatedly. “You don’t kill people, no matter how much you hate them. That’s not how it works with humans. Now come into your ball so I can go get May’s cellphone; we’re wasting way too much time here and the guy is dying.” Mark cringed and swallowed as he glanced nervously at the shoe.
“That won’t work,” Scyther said slowly, first now bringing his blood-stained scythes into view. “You will have to lie about what really happened, and your story will be very hard to believe while you’re carrying a Pokémon with the victim’s blood on his scythes.”
Mark paused. “Hurry and wash up, then… I’ll wait here.” He immediately had doubts about his suggestion, fearing that somebody might come across the body with him standing there like an idiot beside it, so he added, “Well, maybe I should come with you.”
Again, he had doubts after making that suggestion. The obvious place to go would be the pond they had spent the night by, but did he really want May and Alan to know the truth either? And what if Fury was still there? They’d have to look for another spring or something, and meanwhile the trainer was bleeding…
“I know the best thing to do,” Scyther said, interrupting Mark’s thoughts. He looked sceptically at the mantis.
“I wash my scythes, and then I come back and wait here. You go to where May is and make that call. Tell them he was attacked by some wild Sneasel – they sometimes attack in the morning even though they’re mostly around at night, and they sometimes let their victims die slowly. Wait there until they come, take them here and tell them you left me with him to make sure the Sneasel wouldn’t finish him off.”
Mark almost laughed. “And leave you here conveniently alone with somebody you’ve just been attempting to murder? Nice try, Scyther.”
The mantis took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “I am not selfish enough to kill him when it is so important to you that I don’t,” he said quietly, clearly pained by what he was saying. “Now go, if you are so bent on letting him live.”
Mark stared at Scyther for a few seconds, racking his brain for any other possible solution but to his horror not finding one.
“Would you really keep that promise?” he asked softly.
“I don’t make promises,” Scyther simply said.
Mark stared at him with helpless terror, his mind blank. After all, had Scyther ever given him a real reason not to trust his words?
In some moment of foolishness, Mark turned around and sped back onto the road.
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