Friday, May 11, 2018

Tar Tales, Part II: Crikey! It's Angry!

If you know me, you know how I handle particularly tough problems. I consider them carefully from all angles, develop a detailed plan of attack, assemble the materials I’ll need to proceed… and then shove it all into a corner of my room and ignore it for months. Not until a distant date, when forced by some elaborate chain of reasoning (I need to do this so that I can do that in order to do some third thing with a deadline), after just enough dust has accumulated on the materials to set me sneezing, do I pick them up again and actually deal with the problem.

This approach isn’t entirely without benefits: sometimes I learn things in the intervening months that improve my eventual approach to the problem. But more often than not, when the solution ends up taking much less effort than I’d feared, it just leaves me feeling sheepish that I spent six weeks putting off five hours of work.

What does all this have to do with the Lars? Well, what problem could be tougher—or bigger, or more likely to break loose and terrorize the county—than an angry feral Tyranitar falling into my care?

The long drive home from Manassas gave me plenty of time to reconsider my actions at the fair. What was I thinking, buying that thing? I was no monster wrangler. All my previous Pokémon had been small and cooperative, Basic Pokémon, when I first got them. I had neither the equipment nor the skills to safely subdue a Tyranitar-sized ‘mon, let alone feed it and train it once I did.

And so, when I got home, that Ultra Ball went straight into my closet. The Tyranitar would be fine in there for a night… a few nights… indefinitely… until I figured out what to do with it.

But as I tossed and turned in bed, nothing came to me. I couldn’t return the Tyranitar, that was for sure: those poachers would be halfway back to Wyoming by now. I could maybe hand the ‘mon off to Animal Control, but they’d ask all sorts of questions about how I got my hands on it so far from its natural range, maybe even bring in the FBI—no, that wouldn’t work either. I could find someone to buy it off me, but then I’d be no better than those poachers.

Deep in the closet, the Ultra Ball rattled.

There was a living thing inside that ball. I had to do something, and soon.


After a week of rattle-haunted sleep, I concluded there was no way out of this. I had to let that Tyranitar out of the Ultra Ball, if nothing else. And once it was out, I had to try to train it.

I waited until dusk, then drove out to Lake Fairfax park and up to the huge grassy field on which I’d once run cross-country races, the largest patch of empty ground I knew of in the county. I strapped on all the protective gear I could assemble: two layers of pants, my brother’s catcher’s mask and chest protector, thick winter gloves, and heavy boots. And then I walked out to the center of the field, let out my two other Pokémon, Sandser the Flygon and Qwill the Typhlosion, and explained my plan.

The gist of it was: I’d call out the Tyranitar, then toss its ball way down the field and run like a Rapidash in the other direction. As it reared up all angry, Sandser would swoop down and freeze it with an Ice Beam—I’d sprung for a TM to teach her that move back when I’d dabbled in competitive battling in college. And then, once it was well and truly immobilized, Qwill would dash over and try to talk some sense into it: we’re friends, we want to help you, don’t claw our faces off—that sort of thing. Field-speech, Qwill’s native tongue, was more or less mutually intelligible with the Tyranitar’s Monster-speech—about as close as Spanish and Portuguese, he claimed—so the Tyranitar should at least understand his words.

If that worked, we’d have a new partner; if not, we’d have to think of something else. Assuming we were still, y’know, alive.

“All right,” I said when I was done explaining. “You ready, Sandser?”

She flicked her tail and leapt into the air.


He barked in assent.

“Okay then.” I turned to the long, empty field and threw the Ultra Ball as far as I could. “Here goes nothing… Tyranitar!”

The ball spun through the air, flashing in the moonlight—then, at the apex of its arc, it popped its latch and swung open. A jet of red light shot toward the ground and spread into a six-foot, hulking form. I should have turned and run, but no; I couldn’t help but watch as the light solidified into olive-green scales, foot-long spikes, and a furious red eye fixed on me.

The Tyranitar let out a roar and charged.

For something so large, it moved impossibly fast. It closed the distance between us in seconds, tail whipping behind it, arms clutched tight to its chest.

Wait, I thought, That gait’s not normal.

I looked closer and saw the ‘mon was holding something small and oblong.

Above me, Sandser swooped down for her shot.

“—Wait!” I shouted. “It’s got an egg!”

But I was too late. Sandser loosed her Ice Beam; it swept across the grass, catching the Tyranitar in the legs. The great ‘mon stumbled and flailed; the egg went flying.

Sandser swung back, readying another beam.

“No!” I sprinted forward, dove, and grabbed the egg just before it hit the ground.

For a moment, nothing moved.

And then, with an audible crack, the Tyranitar shattered the ice and ran at me. It was too close—there wasn’t time to move, much less get up and run. I curled around the egg and froze, waiting for the claws to scrape, the feet to fall, the teeth to seize around my neck—

—but all I felt was a sudden chill.

I looked up. Two feet from my face was the Tyranitar’s, encased in a three-inch-thick mask of ice.
Sandser touched down beside me and folded her wings. What, she said with a tilt of her head, did’ja think I couldn’t make that shot?

As I scuttled away from the Tyranitar, Qwill padded over from the sidelines and toasted a speech-hole through the ice around its head. Perdóname, señora, por el trato rudo, he whispered in Field-speech. Queremos ayudarle.

The Tyranitar spat sand into his face.

De verdad, Qwill insisted gently but firmly. Esta mujer es una persona buena y un entrenador de Pokémon experto. Es un poco voluble a veces, pero

Vai-te foder, the Tyranitar growled in Monster. Eu não preciso de um treinador.

Qwill frowned, then thought for a moment. Puede ayudarle a incubar su huevo.

The Tyranitar’s eyes shot up to me. I held out the egg to show her it was fine.

Usted puede confiar en nosotros. Qwill said.

The Tyranitar growled again, then shook her body. The ice around her cracked. Qwill reared up, ready to fight, and Sandser spread her wings, but the Tyranitar only pushed herself up from the ground and sat. O que você quer de mim? she said.

Nada, said Qwill, settling back down onto his forelegs. Solo para ser su amigo y compañero.

“We might go climb some mountains,” I added. “If you’d like that sort of thing.”

The Tyranitar sat there, scowling, then said at last, Meu ovo não chocou. Já faz muito tempo.

¿Cuanto tiempo? Qwill asked.


“Oof,” I said. “That doesn’t sound healthy.”

She looked me in the eye. Meu bebê ficará bem?

I looked down at the smooth, green-speckled egg in my arms. “I... I don’t know. To be honest, I’ve never hatched an egg before in normal circumstances, let alone a late egg.” I looked to Sandser—she shrugged—to Qwill—he bowed his head in concern. “But we’ll find out how to help. We'll do everything we can to get this little one out of its shell.”

Prometemos, Qwill confirmed.

The Tyranitar stood, shook the remaining ice-shards off her back, and bowed her head. Obrigado. A tear rolled down her cheek. Muito obrigado.

So that was that.

Only now I had to explain to the Tyranitar where we were, and how Fairfax County was pretty different from her old home in Wyoming, so she’d kind of have to stay inside a Pokéball most of the time, and even when she was out she couldn’t run around or make much noise, because if she did, that one grumpy neighbor of ours would call the county on us, and boy, would they have a field day busting a noise-ordinance, illegal-large-animal, poached-Pokémon, and now unlicensed-breeding violation. This just got better and better...

But a little quiet singing in the moonlight wouldn’t bother anyone. I hoped.

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