Death. War. Destruction. The world of the future lies in ruins. I got the chance to go back and stop it from ever happening, only to discover that I was the cause. This is how I destroyed the world.


13. City Life

Failure to prepare is preparing to fail ~ John Wooden



"The concept of a pokemon gym is nearly as old as the practice of training and battling the creatures. In ancient civilisations, when pokemon were captured with mystical, religious objects, the leader of their communities had the strongest pokemon out of everyone, and was also the worshipped religious figure, rather like modern day priests. It was said that they were chosen by the gods for their ability to capture, train and command the creatures, and that you could secure a wonderful existence in the afterlife if you managed to defeat the leader's pokemon in a battle.

Neighbouring communities would often try to take over other settlements by the use of pokemon battles. Their strongest warriors would challenge the leader of the town, on the terms that if they won, it became a part of their territory, whereas if the leader won, they would retreat and leave their settlement unharmed. Of course, it rarely worked out that they kept to their word.

The one figurehead of power soon become a widespread concept. They would build special temples in which to worship and to conduct pokemon battles. Eventually young pokemon owners decided to challenge the leaders of each town, if only to prove their strength, rather than take over another settlement. It was said that the first person who managed to defeat every leader within a country became known as the gods' champion - from where our modern day coining is said to come from.

Eventually, the religious practices bcame abandoned, and people began to realise the fun in the sport of pokemon battling. The concept of having a leader and a specialist location to battle in, however, survived the passage of time. In the modern day, we still refer to them as a 'leader', though now they must prove their abilities by gathering at least fifty badges and passing written exams on legal concepts. While they may no longer be worshipped as a person chosen by the gods, it can be said that some children still regard the gym leaders with adoration comparible to holy worship.

It really does prove that for as much as we have developed and evolved, our ancient practices still stay with us, to this very day."

- Doctor Seymour Rush, Civilisation History PHD. (Exert from an interview to 'History Today' regarding the origins of pokemon gyms. March 23rd, 3011)


The distinct loud noises of a city woke me up the next morning. I'd never actually experienced life in a city before, and wasn't expecting anywhere to be as crowded as what I saw in Rustboro. It was quiet and dead everywhere the night before, and I expected the morning after to be much the same.

How wrong I was.

The outside streets were filled with commotion as early as oh-six hundred hours. It woke me up instantly, and I'm damned near started to prepare for a quick evacuation of the premises. I'd never heard or seen so many people anywhere before; in my time, even half as many people in one place moving around at such speeds was cause for alarm.

I found myself watching people move around from my window for a good hour, at least. It amazed me to see people walking along in suits and smart dress, all with phones pressed to their ears. It was like watching a colony of ants; they moved in perfect unison around each other, waiting for cars to stop moving so the pedestrians could cross the roads, and then vice versa.

Even in the time it took me to have a shower and get dressed, it seemed the commotion still hadn't died down. I found myself just watching them, imagining and dreading having to be out there in amongst it all. I couldn't see a single pokémon in amidst the chaos, and I found myself equally as amazed as fleets of people dressed in both casual and smart clothes began to flock to the streets, spending as much time as they could in each shop, purchasing trivial clothes and new-range items.

It was amazing to see what the world was like before the destruction hit it. I wondered how these people would react if they knew in less than a decade they'd be plagued by disease and war, and the money they worked so long and hard for would be near enough worthless.

I think as I watched that, I first started to wonder if my life was so bad in some regards after all. Every in my time had learnt to survive by their own means, rather than relying on some company producing everything for them. The life I could see below me just seemed too... luxurious. It was too simple to be true, and it seemed like these people could live and die without ever learning anything that was actually important in their lives. I had a feeling less than a tenth of them would know how to mask their trail from predator pokémon in the wilderness, and even less would know how to actually kill and skin a pokémon, as well as knowing what parts of it could actually be eaten.

It was all well and good to advance so far in technology to have machines do everything for us, yet at the same time, people needed to know how to do the same things without the use of technology. I had to wonder how many people had died within the first year of the war simply because they had no idea how to live without having a machine or another person doing everything for them.

Below I could spot at least twenty people at a time that looked like they spent their days buying ready-prepared foods for breakfast and lunch, and then would dine in a restaurant for dinner. The amount of people that had obviously never made a meal in their lives truly surprised me.

It really was a completely different world.

I turned away from the window to see Adryan staring at me, one eyebrow over the over. He ruffled his hair with one hand and left it a veritable bird's nest. It made me imagine a small starly poking its head out of his hair, which left me trying to stifle a laugh as I looked back at him.

He still maintained his facial expression as he said, "You're not used to busy places, are you?"

I shook my head. "Oldale was a busy place compared to what I'm used to." At least I wasn't lying about that. I'm certain it was around then I started to truly wonder how many lies I'd told in the first few weeks of my journey, and how I'd eve manage to keep up with them all. No doubt I was going to run into a wall I'd erected with my lies and find myself blocked in on all sides.

"I'm just not used to seeing so many people in one place," I continued, my gaze refocusing to the window. "It's... mad."

He got out of bed and stood nearby me, leaning forwards enough to look out of the window. I turned round slightly and winced at the morning breath that assaulted my nose. Thankfully he missed it as he stared outside, and I found myself attempting to pretend I couldn't notice it, if only for the sake of being nice.

He eventually laughed and pushed himself away from the window. "Dude, that's just the work rush. You should see how packed the buses and trains get about this time in the morning."

I blinked and stared outside, trying to imagine buses and trains traversing in amidst the chaos. "How far away do they take them all to? I didn't realise Rustboro had a large network of trains."

He chuckled in amazement. "You really don't know much about Rustboro, do you?" he asked rhetorically. "The buses travel to all ten districts of Rustboro, and the trains run through the whole east of Hoenn, connecting Rustboro to Fallabour as well as Petalburg."

I'm pretty sure I was staring at him as if he'd grown a second head. "Rustboro... has ten districts?"

He nodded as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "Rustboro's one of the largest cities in Hoenn, you know? Only the capital, Lilycove is bigger. There's just under one million people living here."

I nearly fainted from shock. One million people? It was more than twenty times the amount of people living in the whole world in my time! My head started to spin at the thought of so many people living in one city. "Just... how big is Rustboro?"

He shrugged and seemed to try to make calculations on his fingers. Eventually he gave up with that and began to draw a rough outline of the city in the air. "About a hundred square miles."

I swayed on the spot. How the hell was I to navigate my way around the country if every town was large enough to fit a school of wailord in? I voiced such thoughts to Adryan, and succeeded in making him laugh again. He explained that most trainer-related areas, such as gyms and pokémon centres were always in the dead centres of the towns or cities, or close to the ports. Apparently most trainer locations weren't much bigger than five square miles. It was still large enough to make my eyes roll around uncertainly in my head.

He smiled and ruffled my hair, much to my annoyance. I batted his hand away and only succeeded in broadening his smile. He told me he was going to get a shower, and when he was ready, he'd show me to the gym.

I didn't say it then, nor did I for a long time, but it reassured me a lot. The thought of being alone in such a large city was actually a lot more frightening that I ever would have thought.

Adryan was ready only a little while later. Along the way he pointed out various buildings to me. Most weren't all that important to me, like a local bus station, or a place where a random celebrity had grown up. The most interesting was probably the Devon Corp. building, which stretched out over all the other buildings, yet looked as if it had been made well over a century before the others.

It made me realise that all the buildings in Rustboro were similar in design; they all held the same brick-finished styling and were all a bland colour of grey, brown or a dull white. It seemed very much like an archaic town brought into modern times with only the vehicles and new shops that decorated some streets.

I also noticed that the city was also on the seaside. It made me remember the smells of ocean air from the night before, though I had been too tired whilst we were flying to identify it totally. The mountains loomed off in the distance, though the fact they were grey and shrouded by masses of fog in the distance made them somehow feel like part of the city.

When we finally reached the gym, I felt for certain that there was no way I would have been able to miss it were I actually on my own. It was about half the size of a football stadium and was in the shape of a large dome. It, like the rest of the town, was decorated in pale brown bricks, though there were a few small rock gardens that led up to the entrance. Above two large sliding glass doors was the word 'GYM' emblazoned with bright neon red light.

Adryan caught me gawping and shoved me forwards slightly. "The gym isn't going to move around you, ya know?" He smirked and walked towards the doors almost arrogantly. "You have to go inside to meet the gym leader."

I blinked and stood there for a numb moment. I had never actually said that I wanted to challenge the gyms, had I? I gathered that he'd assumed I was going to start challenging them, seeing as I'd mentioned challenging contests sounded like a lot of work. My decision was being made for me, it seemed.

Though, I couldn't complain.

If I could beat and gain the respect of the gym leaders; people recognised as powerful by the entirety of the country, I was certain that when I needed to alter events to save the world, I could get them to help me.

The lights were on inside and I could see trainers walking around with various species of rock pokémon. At least that narrowed down the options of what the gym leader would specialise in.

We walked through the sliding glass doors and I found myself basking within the cool breeze of the air conditioner within. The entire inside of the gym smelt of fresh gravel and mud, all a refreshing change from the humid outside air.

I snapped myself out of it and decided I had to find someone in charge around here. I gathered that the gym leader himself would be the one completely in charge, but I assumed that like the lab in Littleroot, there would be a receptionist around somewhere. Instantly I caught sight of a woman dressed smartly, and assumed that she worked here. She wore a slim black waistcoat over a white shirt with baggy sleeves, and a black skirt over black tights, and had on a pair of black boots whose heels clacked over the stone floors with every step she took.

I jumped a few steps in front of her path and smiled. "Hi, I'm here to challenge the gym leader here." I stopped and scratched my head. "Is, um, there someone I can talk to about that?"

She smiled and stopped before me. She had brown hair that was pulled out of her face and held behind her head with a large pink bow, though her hair split into two long tails either side of her head. Her eyes were brown, though seemed almost red in the light, and I noticed dirt and mud covering her clothes. "Well, you're speaking to the perfect person," she related to me in a cool calm voice. "I'm Roxanne, the gym leader here."

She held a hand out towards me, and I introduced myself as I shook her hand. I winced slightly at her grip; it felt like she was near-enough crushing my hand then and there.

She nodded and I noticed her eyes trail over me a moment. "You don't have that many scars on you," she stated, and pressed a hand onto her hip. "I'm going to go out on a limb and assume this is your first badge challenge?"

I stuttered, impressed by her deduction skills. "Is it that obvious?"

She smiled and flicked her hair behind her shoulders. "In most cases, yes. You can usually tell by age alone. Older trainers such as yourself usually carry a few scars when they've been training a while. Though if I had to go by your eyes-" she stared into my own for a moment, and I felt them watering as I struggled to keep them open for her like she was a medical professional. "You'd have made me guess you're an experienced trainer," she said, sounding confused. "Are you sure you haven't challenged any gyms before? Are you just simply starting afresh in Hoenn?"

Adryan walked up beside us and chuckled, arms folded across his chest. "I've asked him this a number of times. Trust me; the amount he's clueless to, he's still a newbie."

I scowled and bit the inside of my lip. "Do forgive me, grandmaster of all knowledge." I looked at him and smirked. "Please do tell me again; how do you hide your scent from a predator with advanced nasal senses?"

His mouth dropped open ever so slightly as his cheeks both turned a light shade of pink. Roxanne however, simply stood there and laughed at our antics. "Very well, everyone starts at different times." She swept a loose strand of hair from her face. "If I recall, the Elite Four member Drake didn't start his own journey until he was well into his thirties." She shrugged to herself and walked towards a wooden door near us. She motioned for us to follow her as she opened the door to the office.

All around were various pieces of paper, as well as one large-screened computer that took up most of the room. Unlike Birch's though, her office was pristine, and each stack of paper seemed to be lined up so that not a single edge was overlapping another.

She quickly sat down on the desk and pulled open one of the drawers. From within she grabbed a pen and a small stack of papers. "Today's the sixteenth..." she was whispering, more to herself than anyone. "Sunday's my day off... How about Monday at eleven-fifteen?" she asked me. "Three days from now, so it should give you enough time to train up for it."

I chewed my bottom lip. On the one hand, I'd been hoping to get the battle out of the way to make sure I could move on somewhere else in Hoenn as quickly as I could. Waiting around three days was a complete hampering to my plans. On the other hand though, it did give me enough time to train to make sure I didn't have to battle her again.

In the end, I decided it was my best option. "I'll take it."

"Great!" She beamed and quickly clicked a button on the pc mouse. The computer flared into life seconds later and she typed in everything as quickly as she could. Her fingers were a blur over the keyboard, and by the time I'd registered she'd stopped, she had already printed off a small slip. She ripped it out of the printer and scribbled her signature on it. "Here you go," she said, ripping off one half and handing it to me. "Like most gyms, we're offering all challenging trainers a free stay at the pokémon centre on their first attempt until the day of their match." She winked. "Lose, and I'm afraid you're going to have to pay normal price again."

I thanked her and pocketed the slip. "Pity I didn't do that before last night. I could have saved myself a night's fees."

She smiled. "Ah, I remember those days. Travelling round with nothing more than a few notes to your name." She sighed whimsically. "I do miss them sometimes."

Adryan chuckled. "Yeah, I'm gonna use that as my excuse next time someone asks what I plan to do with my life: travel for as long as possible with only a few poké to my name." He placed his hands behind his head. "No tax, no job, no limits... no worries."

Speak for yourself.

Roxanne smiled at him. A moment later she was squinting, evaluating his appearance and demeanour. "Do I... do I know you from somewhere?" she asked him.

He shrugged. "Dunno. Doubt it; I haven't been in Rustboro all that often since I finished basic school and left to be a trainer."

She gasped and snapped her fingers. "That's where I know you from!" she exclaimed. "You were a year below me! I remember, you had these big framed glasses-" she framed her eyes with her fingers and I couldn't help but laugh. "And you were pretty short too." She laughed as he turned a shade of pink. "What have you been doing since you left to be a trainer?"

He scratched at a day's worth of stubble. "Travelling really. Same old trainer nonsense. I've got the full set of twenty from each of the four main regions now though."

She made an impressed noise as they continued their discussions of their journeys. Apparently she had travelled round Hoenn first for two years too, then onto Sinnoh and Kanto both for another two years. After that she enrolled in a trainer education school in Johto, and passed her exams there and did her leader apprenticeship in Hoenn.

It was all way over my head.

Half an hour later they finished their conversation and Roxanne led us both out of the gym, pointedly reminding me not to forget our gym battle in a few days. I told her I wouldn't and quickly began scouting for the signs that would point me round town.

Adryan seemed to catch what I was doing and was quick to point out a few things to me. He showed me the direction of the pokémon centre we'd come from, as well as the local trainer shops. He then pointed out the roads that would lead to a few training areas outside of town, and made sure to drill it into me that if I took the one leading to Verdanturf I would bump into most of the gym's apprentices and trainers. It meant I'd get some practice in fighting against rock pokémon and learn their strengths and weaknesses.

The fear of being left alone in such a large city crept up on me again. "Where abouts are you going then?" I asked him.

He grinned and popped his neck, though I caught sight that he seemed to be the slightest bit apprehensive about something. "Gotta go and see my folks. I haven't been back home in a while, after all," he said, keeping calm. "So gotta pop in and let 'em know how I'm doing, what's going on in my life, let 'em know the things that are going on in my life. That old sorta thing."

I nodded, though I didn't actually want him to go. He told me he'd meet me back at the pokémon centre later on in the evening, and that getting around on my own was good practice for when I'd be on my own. I accepted the point and watched as he walked off into the busy streets, and near enough disappeared into the crowds.

Instantly fear blossomed through me. I bunched my hands into fists, fearful of all the people being so close to me and bumping into everyone and anyone. I made way in the direction that Adryan pointed out to me, knowing that I not only had to train myself, but my pokémon too for the upcoming battles.

When I reached the route Adryan had pointed out to me, I was completely surprised by it. Given that he'd told me it was where the rock type trainers trained, I expected it to be a large clearing better suited to their needs. Instead it was a veritable spring path, filled with trees, a number of ponds and a large amount of plants decorating the scenery.

I let out Xander instantly, and with a happy croak he made way over to one of the nearby ponds and floated along the surface. I sat down and watched him, though pulled out a book and my pokédex, and began cross-comparing the two. I needed to know how I could deal with Loki, and I needed to do it fast. Adryan said he'd managed to resolve his duskull with time and effort, though I didn't have the former.

The only thing I could think of was to find out a sableye's weak points and exploit them with Loki. If I could manage to grip him in such a way he couldn't attack me, or cause him enough pain to make him stop, it would help me in some way. If he was going to be violent, I'd treat him in kind. Pokémon learnt in a number of ways, and would learn quickly through pain that something wasn't to be done. If I hit him and told him off every time he tried to attack, he'd surely get the message of what was and was not to be done.

I managed to do it for almost an hour before people started to really show up. I packed my stuff away and supposed that I could truly try and sort out my problems with my pokémon another time. I'd gone to the specific location to train, and made sure I trained as much as possible.

I quickly found out how vastly trainers varied by expertise.

I got into a number of battles that day, and started off with Xander against a geodude. He managed to defeat the pokémon without much effort, and I congratulated him eagerly. Once or twice they were close calls, and Xander lost a few battles too. I quickly realised that he could heal himself when exposed to large amounts of sunlight, so in between battles I made him rest in the pond with ample sunlight beating down on him. It would take up to an hour for his injuries to heal over, and although it wasn't as good as treatment from a pokémon centre, I knew it would help his immune system and body's natural recovery better.

At one point we were completely demolished by a trainer, despite Xander having a huge advantage. The trainer sent out a corsola, and I knew that Xander could take it down easily, given the chance.

Although, we didn't much get that. Before Xander had even croaked an affirmation, the corsola shot multiple spikes into his flank and knocked him out instantly. I quickly realised that I would have to soon work on his defence as well as his offence.

Though I also found out he didn't seem to like following my orders. Every time I pointed out a weakness in the opposing pokémon, he seemed reluctant to follow it. I knew a geodude could be crippled by hitting the base of its arms; a powerful enough attack with a water base could sever the arm completely from its body. Even though a geodude could repair the arm by collecting rocks back up and reforming the limb, he wouldn't complete the order. It seemed he knew I knew it would cripple the opponent, and was saving such attacks for other situations.

He was an honourable little lotad.

Which frustrated me completely. I needed a pokémon that wouldn't hesitate to follow my orders. If the opposing pokémon were to be gravely injured, it didn't matter; in the wilds, every battle was life or death. Pokémon could still die in trainer battles, yet it seemed some pokémon had enough personality of their own to refuse such a thing.

It took me a long time to understand and truly appreciate the difference between them all. But being so focused on rushing everything, I completely overlooked such qualities and instead focused on negatives. He wasn't obeying my every order, and I still had so much left to teach him. He was beginning to understand what I meant when I told him to blast opponents with water, and I could see it slowly getting stronger. His sunlight-based healing was still poor at best, he still couldn't completely heal in less than an hour. I tried to get him to use it in battle, but instead he looked completely confused and then was crushed by the full weight of a bonsly.

It was the first time I'd needed to check into a pokémon centre for problems relating to my pokémon, and it was eerie to be left without them on my person. The nurse had checked their trainer identification number with me, and I'd completely blanked out when she said it. It took me a while to have it explained to me, though she simplified it by telling me it was the first letter of my first and last name, coupled with the year of my birth and the year I became a trainer.

Pity the former was a lie, and the latter actually occurred before I was meant to be born. Just thinking about it gave me a headache.

And a nosebleed.

When I handed Xander over I decided to get Loki checked out as well – though I did warn the nurse taking them he'd gone a bit crazy. She'd asked why, and when she heard what had happened, to my surprise, she completely understood, and just left a small note attached to his record on the computer. She told me that even gym leaders and the Elite Four would struggle to get a pokémon past such cravings; 'blood thirst' as she called it. Apparently, although most pokémon hunted for food, ghost and dark pokémon could develop an addiction to causing pain. She told me that aside from humans, they were the only creatures that would kill for fun, and it took a strong trainer to help them fully get past and beat the cravings.

I sunk into a chair in the lounge. I was screwed.

I managed to phone both professor Birch and Jennifer from my phone in the mean time. Birch had delighted in hearing I'd managed to get to Rustboro and avoided all the trouble in Petalburg, and had been completely sympathetic towards my plight with Loki. He told me much the same as the nurse did, though he rounded it off by telling me he had the greatest confidence I'd be able to handle it.

Jennifer on the other hand seemed to be completely amazed I'd captured a sableye and not been eaten by it. She expressed that she'd known a few people that had gone off in search of the creatures and eventually been driven mad by the tricks they laid out. I thought back to how he'd managed to steal Xander's poké ball off me and made the poor attempt of follow-the-money as a trap. Then again, he was only young, so most likely didn't completely know what he was doing. She told me that once I got to Dewford I should go and traverse their local cave systems – apparently sableye were native to the caves, and I could learn a lot from observing the wild ones within. She effectively brought a downer on the conversation when she said that if I made good enough time I'd be able to see her again before she passed on. Although I knew she was only trying to cheer me up, it made me start to realise what she'd sacrificed for my trip. I began to wonder then and there if there would be any more people I'd meet who would end up dying to help me progress.

I banished the thought quickly. I couldn't think such things.

While I waited for my pokémon to be healed – the nurse had told me it would be an overnight job, at least – I went to the gym in the centre. I was actually quite amazed it had one, but one of the workers there told me that every centre had something that could be used to help a trainer whilst their pokémon were healed. Every one of them had the usual magazine racks and books, though apparently the other 'attractions' varied by location. He said there were sparring rings and martial arts instructors in the Dewford pokémon centre, as well as swimming pools in Slateport.

I was amazed. They really did go all out to make sure trainers were treated well. Though, many trainers didn't treat themselves well, much like myself. I was used to pushing myself far beyond my limits, and as I hadn't actually exercised properly in the whole time I'd been in the new world, I pushed myself as hard as I could in the gym. Sure I'd done press-ups and sit-ups as often as I could, but it wasn't the gruelling work out I'd grown up with and actually became used to.

In the end, I was exhausted, my muscles were dead and I was about to pass out on the treadmill when one of the attendants decided to bar me from the gym for the rest of the day. It was that bad he actually picked me up and threw me over his shoulder to evict me, and I was that exhausted I couldn't do anything about it.

It didn't help that he was built like a machamp, either.

I ended up glaring in his general direction from the lobby for a good five minutes. When I finally turned round, I caught sight of Adryan walking into the centre, looking haggard and upset. It took me a moment to realise it was him, and I was completely shocked when I saw him.

"Dude, what happened?" I asked him, near enough shaking his arms. He was sporting a fresh black eye and a split lip, and looked both defeated and upset.

"S'nothing," he grunted, adjusting his scarf around himself. I stood there a moment, not letting him move past me until I got a decent enough answer. "S'nothing," he repeated.

I held my hand up and refused to let him past. "Ayd, what the hell happened?"

He smirked instantly. "You realise you just called me 'Ayd' right? I'm growing on ya!"

I growled. "Stop changing the subject. If it's that bad, we'll go back and sort them out together, and you can set your pokémon on 'em if it's freaked you out that much."

"It's not that," he growled, mustering dark, exhausted venom in his voice. I stood my ground and waited until he sighed and pressed a hand to his face. "It was my mother, alright?"

That startled me completely. All I managed was a confused, "Eh?"

He groaned and pressed his hand further into his face. "Look, I don't want to talk about it, okay? I just wanna go upstairs, go to sleep and pretend today hasn't happened." He stopped and looked at me from behind his hand. I must have looked a mess: completely soaked in sweat and still panting and sweating both from exhaustion. "And you need a shower. You smell."

I couldn't muster enough energy to argue with him, nor think of a witty remark. "Uh, yeah," I grunted even as he pushed past me. It didn't make any sense to me. In my mind, mothers were matriarchal figures and would go to any lengths to protect their children, not hurt them.

Then again, I didn't have much to compare against it. I never knew my mother, and all the mothers I'd known in my time were adjusted to our war-torn times.

Perhaps this new world was just even stranger than I had ever thought.

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