Violence: Some rather violent Pokémon action.
Gore: A bit.
Other: Nothing special.
Chapter 17: The Shark and the Serpent
When Mark exited the Gym, he noticed that May wasn’t there. Even as he continued down the road, he saw no traces of her. He just assumed she had continued to Aquarium City.
Aquarium City was probably the town that Mark had looked forward to seeing the most when he started his journey. It was the first and only underwater city in the Pokémon world. Covered in a gigantic glass dome, the city’s oxygen came from plants specifically arranged to keep a healthy balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the air. It was first and foremost a tourist attraction; it was generally considered a dodgy place to live, mainly because the thought of living underwater with only a glass dome to protect oneself from the Gyarados and Sharpedo outside and one’s life depending on some calculations about the oxygen percentage didn’t appeal to many people. Nonetheless, the tourists loved it – especially because it had an official Pokémon Gym.
Mark turned around. The Mutark guy, Victor, was running after him.
Victor looked around. “Where’s May? The girl?”
“She went on to Aquarium City,” Mark answered. “Why?”
“Oh,” said Victor, scratching his head. “Er… you know Mitch?”
“Yeah,” Mark replied, puzzled.
“Do you know what they say about him?”
Mark shook his head.
“Well – according to the rumours, he’s a psychic of sorts. They say he can foresee deaths and stuff, and, uh… are you going to join up with May again?”
“Huh?” asked Mark, not sure what Victor was getting at.
“I mean, will you meet her sometime? I need to… er, give her some tips on catching a Mutark.” His gaze darted to the sides; he was obviously a very bad liar, but Mark wasn’t the type to point that out so he ignored it.
“Well, I’ll probably meet her at Aquarium City, but to be honest I don’t know if she’s going to come with me from there or anything.”
“Right,” said Victor. “Hey, will you be attending the Pokémon Festival?”
“What festival?” Mark asked curiously.
“The festival in Green Town – the one they have every year based around Chaletwo’s arrival.”
“Oh – I didn’t know they had a festival,” Mark replied, blushing slightly. He felt stupid.
“Well, I’m going, of course – I want to see Chaletwo, he’s a Dark type – and she is likely to, since she doesn’t seem the type to miss it, so will you?”
“Of course,” Mark answered brightly. “I love Legendary Pokémon; I’d never miss that in my life.”
“We’ll meet there, then,” Victor said, holding out his hand.
“Sure,” Mark replied, shaking it.
“Good. Bye, then,” said Victor, smiling as he turned back towards Scorpio City. “See you.”
Mark had slightly disliked him earlier, but he seemed like a nice guy after all. Now Mark knew about the Pokémon festival. He looked forward to it, especially getting to witness Chaletwo’s appearance. Of course, there were probably fun tournaments and such, too…
It wasn’t a long way to Merville, a tiny village near the seaside. Old-fashioned houses were spread irregularly around. A lot of them seemed deserted, giving the village a glum atmosphere. A dirty shop stood just by the harbor, looking just as deserted as the empty houses but nonetheless with a big OPEN sign in the window. Above the door, it said “Underwater Equipment”.
Mark walked up to the wooden door and grabbed the doorknob. It was open. He stepped carefully inside.
A bearded, middle-aged man leant onto the counter, looking asleep. As soon as Mark came in, however, he sprang up and was instantly by his side.
“A customer! What can I do for you? Headed to Aquarium City, are you? Then you’re in the right place! We’ve got everything, all 100% organic!”
“Er,” Mark just stammered.
“You’ll need an H2Oxy 3000; these things allow you to breathe underwater,” the clerk said, reaching for a small mask-like object on a shelf. “You put it on like this,” he put it on to cover his nose and mouth, then quickly took it off again as it appeared to prevent him from breathing, “and it will work oxygen out of the water. Clever, isn’t it?”
“Are you sure it... works?” asked Mark skeptically. The shopkeeper shrugged. “It should work.”
He stuffed it into Mark’s arms and started searching for something else on the shelf.
“Let’s see... you’ll need an Aqua compass. It always points at Aquarium City.” He showed Mark a compass which, unless Mark was very much mistaken, pointed straight west, back to Scorpio City. The guy seemed to realize that too, since he shrugged again and threw it into the garbage. “Well, this spray will make you completely water-repellant.” He sprayed something that smelled like cardboard all over Mark. He coughed.
“Then there’s the Sharpedo-ward,” the shopkeeper continued eagerly, taking out a bottle containing a black, suspicious-looking liquid. “If you open it in the water, it will send any Sharpedo swimming! And there’s a special rock here to be able to sink easier. I’m sure you’ll visit again, buddy? I’m always ready at hand! Now, in total, this will be, uh…” He counted on his fingers. “…9,999 Pokédollars.”
“What?” Mark asked, nonetheless finding the guy a bit funny. “I’m not going to buy it all… I think I’ll just go with the H2Oxy-thing, and, um, do you have a Dive HM?” He put the rock and the Sharpedo-ward down.
“You already used the water repelling spray!” the man complained.
“That’s stupid, I didn’t ask for it,” Mark argued. The shopkeeper sighed.
“All right then.” He handed Mark a CD case. “Your ID number?”
Mark reached for his Pokédex. “0439522166,” he read from the screen. The shopkeeper entered it into the computer and mumbled: “You’re not getting any for the way back.” Mark ignored him and walked out of the shop.
Outside, he noticed a sailor who hadn’t been there before. He was a tall, muscular man and was just standing there looking blankly into the air. When Mark came out, the sailor turned around.
“Hey. Kid. Battle?”
Mark shrugged. “If you want.”
“One on one,” said the sailor and threw a Pokéball into the harbor. The red energy materialized into a blue shark-like Pokémon; it had no tail, but a yellow star shape on its head.
“Sharr,” it growled.
Mark decided that Gyarados would most likely be his best bet for this; he had also not gotten to battle much lately, because pretty much only gym arenas had pools for non-amphibious Water Pokémon.
“Go, Gyarados!” The sea monster came out of the Pokéball into the calm sea. He dove into it and seemed to enjoy the water judging from the low, purr-like growls he was producing.
“Sharpedo, Crunch!” ordered the sailor. The shark immediately lunged at Gyarados and sank its fangs into his white tail fin. He roared in pain and tried to shake Sharpedo off; it still held on. Gyarados slammed his tail against the harbor wall, Sharpedo still stuck on. Receiving a harsh blow, the shark let go off his tail. Blood oozed out, making the water slightly murkier. Mark bit his lip; he just hoped Gyarados wasn’t too hurt.
“Another Crunch, Sharpedo!” the sailor shouted, and his Pokémon darted towards Gyarados’s tail again. This time, however, the monster just let the shark bite him. He waited perfectly still, obviously in pain, but didn’t move.
“Let him go!” said the sailor desperately. Mark first wondered why; then he remembered one of the things he had managed to register in Pokémonology: Sharpedo always had to keep swimming forward so that water would flow through their gills. If they were held in place, they could suffocate…
“Return,” said the Sailor, holding out his Pokéball to recall Sharpedo. The shark disappeared in a beam of red light.
“You ought to teach your Gyarados some manners,” the sailor commented coldly. “That’s a monster.”
“Sorry,” Mark just muttered as he recalled Gyarados.
“I could sue your pants off, you know,” the sailor continued. “And have your Gyarados disposed of for breaking the Agreement.”
“I know,” said Mark miserably. He had no idea why Gyarados had tried to literally drown the Sharpedo – and he had been too stunned to recall him.
“But I’ll let you slide this time, just because I don’t have the time,” the sailor said as he turned around and walked into the village again.
Mark stared blankly at nothing for a few seconds before realizing what he was supposed to be doing. He released Gyarados from his Pokéball again, and took out the CD he had bought earlier.
“Gyarados, you’ll need to learn Dive so we can get to Aquarium City,” Mark explained, holding the disc forward. Gyarados touched it lightly with his forehead, and the disc’s deep blue color ripped loose from it and sank into his body. He shook himself slightly, and then nodded.
“Okay, great,” Mark said nervously. “Now I need to get on your back, I guess.”
Gyarados obediently swam nearer to the bank and turned his side towards Mark. He walked unsurely to the edge of the concrete, not sure exactly how to mount Gyarados. Finally, he just grabbed the dragon’s head tightly with his arms and somehow managed to use the plates that stuck out on either side of the first segment of armor as footing while he sat in front of the first fin.
“Is this okay, Gyarados?” he asked, worried that it might be uncomfortable for the sea serpent. He just nodded slightly.
“All right…” Mark took out the H2Oxy and held it in his hand. “Be ready to dive, Gyarados… one, two… THREE!” He took a deep breath and put on the H2Oxy as Gyarados dove under the surface. Holding on for dear life, Mark felt like he was in some kind of a rollercoaster with very sub-par seats that additionally included the thrill of not knowing whether one would drown in it or not.
He was relieved to find that the H2Oxy did work; while breathing was a bit harder than on dry land, he could manage this way. The water repel-spray apparently also worked, as he didn’t seem to be getting wet. Mark also discovered that it had been a mistake not to buy the Sharpedo-ward.
It was probably the smell of Gyarados’s blood in the water that attracted them; at least they looked like they were expecting some easy prey. There were around ten of those sharks like the one the sailor had, and they all stared murderously at Mark and Gyarados.
The dragon shook Mark off and darted at the Sharpedo. They scattered, but for some reason he kept on chasing one of them in particular and, to Mark’s great disgust, caught it. Gyarados, having locked his jaws securely around the shark’s body, started shaking it vigorously until he ripped a bit of flesh apart from the body and swallowed it. Catching the slowly sinking corpse again, he took some more. Now the scene was getting shrouded in the Sharpedo’s blood, saving Mark from having to see any more Sharpedo innards.
It wasn’t long until Gyarados appeared to have finished all that was edible of the Sharpedo, since he came swimming back to Mark like nothing had happened. Mark wanted to say something, but was unable to because they were in the water. He got uneasily on Gyarados’s back again, and they continued towards the distant light that was Aquarium City.
The Sharpedo appeared to have learned their lesson and didn’t bother Mark and Gyarados further. He was fascinated by a group of cute, light blue seahorses called Horsea and the larger, more vicious Seadra leading them; the Horsea fluttered their tiny, wing-like fins and managed to swim very cutely that way, while the Seadra flapped its spiked fins slowly and gracefully, ready to defend the young ones. After the Horsea swam past, Mark noticed what looked like a swimming rock. Then he realized that it was a rock-like fish Pokémon.
Various Pokémonology lessons whirred past; then finally this Pokémon’s identity clunked into place. It was a Relicanth, and they were…
“Incredibly rare!” Mark mouthed behind the H2Oxy. He prodded Gyarados’s head slightly and pointed at the ancient fish. The message was understood; Gyarados darted at the Relicanth and grabbed it by the tail. The fish, however, quickly started glowing red as it summoned some large rocks from different directions that smashed into the sea monster’s head. He was knocked unconscious by the blow, and the Relicanth managed to disappear, very quickly for a Rock type.
Mark had no choice but to recall Gyarados, and now he was in trouble. This had clearly been a very powerful Relicanth to beat Gyarados in one hit and be so strangely fast. Now he had no Pokémon to Dive on, so he’d have to swim all the way to Aquarium City.
He started swimming a bit, but the lights of the city never seemed to draw any nearer. He had to rest after a short while, and discovered then to his horror that the Sharpedo had noticed that Gyarados was unable to battle. Their shadows steadily grew closer…
Mark was basically panicking when suddenly, what seemed at first to be another Gyarados shot forward and started fighting the sharks off. The Sharpedo quickly realized that they didn’t stand a chance and disappeared.
Mark’s savior now turned gently around. It was not a Gyarados, but it was another sea serpent – this one had a more draconic head, and a sleeker, darker body. Nothing at all could be read from the expression in its deep, black eyes.
Then it neared him, and came close to his face. It tilted its head slightly while examining him thoroughly; he hardly dared to breathe through the H2Oxy. Then, slowly and gracefully, it turned its side towards him in what was clearly a gesture for him to mount it.
The monster blinked. Mark guessed he didn’t have much of a choice, whatever the Pokémon’s intent was; the Sharpedo could come back if he tried to swim by himself. Trembling, he wrapped his arms around the creature’s scaly neck; there was something so comfortable and motherly about it that he felt safe if he only held on to it well enough…
The dragon shot quickly through the water, so smoothly that Mark barely felt it. He lost all sense of time clinging on to the creature’s neck, but after some amount of time, they came to a halt. The gigantic glass dome that covered Aquarium City was ahead; beautiful lights from the inside illuminated the sea next to it and just two meters away was the entrance to the tube that led inside.
Mark went off the monster’s back and dragged himself exhaustedly in through the door. Suddenly he remembered that he had never heard of this Pokémon before; he quickly took his Pokédex off his belt and pointed it out at the sea serpent.
“Monarking, monster Pokémon. This very rare, aquatic Pokémon is said to be somewhat magical and is highly intelligent. They said to occasionally help humans whose lives are in danger.”
He slowly put the Pokédex down. The Monarking outside the glass gave him a slow nod, and then swam away. Mark lost sight of it as it blended into the color of the ocean around it.
Claimer: I own Monarking, the H2Oxy and that funny shopkeeper. Oh, and the Pokémon Festival too.