Regret

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.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5808527/1/Regret

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12. Curve Balls

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.~ Albert Schweitzer

 

-O-O-O-

"The reason why groups such as Team Rocket and Galactic got away with so much is actually quite obvious, if you stop to think about it. They snuck in through the cracks with 'good intentions' - helping people that no one else wanted to, aiding and befriending the young, naive trainers who had only started their journeys and were convinced the world hated them. If you were given everything on a plate at the start of your journey, would you not try to repay whoever helped you as much as you could? It's how they recruited so many; take the young kids, the homeless, the ex-cons and the drug addicts. You take everyone no one cares about, and you build an army of evil behind a wall of charity work.

Who's actually going to accuse charity workers of wanting world domination?"

- Superintendent Jane Foxglove, Viridian City Police Department. (Exert from an interview regarding the actions of villainous 'teams' in Kanto and beyond. January 2nd, 3010)

-O-O-O-

I returned to my room at the centre that day defeated and hollow. Adryan wasn't in much of a chatty mood – not that I could blame him, if my pain was anything to go by. It seemed he'd woken up at some time during the morning and managed to have a shower, for most of his clothes were on the floor, and so was a still damp towel. He snored once, loudly, and kicked at the covers in his sleep, though even that wasn't enough to make me laugh. I was broken, beaten and weary. Yet again the self-doubt came on, hitting me harder than ever. Though without him there to distract me, I had to find another way of taking my mind off of everything.

I leant back on my bed and released Xander, letting him waddle along both my bed and myself. Despite a few unhealed scratches, he seemed perfectly fine to settle on my stomach, and with one hand I stroked the creature's head. I felt small injuries there I hadn't noticed, though remained by my decision not to get him healed from the centre. In my opinion, it was rather pointless. Trainers would rush to get their pokémon healed after every cut and scrape, though would let their own similar injuries heal with time. Pokémon were living creatures too, and healed at rates faster than humans. If we could deal with scabs and scratches, so could a pokémon.

Though I also didn't want any pokémon health professional to know how badly I'd screwed up with Loki.

I fumbled around one handed for the remote for the television, all the while trying not to displace Xander. He croaked irritably as I jostled him from his comfortable spot and squirted me in the face with a small spit of water. I whipped my head round to glare at him, though found he was wearing the tightest of grins. He could sense I was upset. I think I realised then and there that we were actually becoming friends in our travels, and that I wasn't ever like to be alone.

I smiled at him and scratched his chin as I switched on the television. Loud, blaring music rumbled out of the television, which made me yelp and hit the mute button as quickly as I could. All it elicited from Adryan was another snore, which made Xander croak a sound that was nearly laughter.

However, all my attention on them died as I caught sight of the news report playing. I stared in rapt interest at the screen even as I fumbled with the volume enough to hear it again at a normal volume.

"...we bring you this report live from the studio," the reporter was saying. On screen, there was no person visible, though the reporter was obviously female, judging by the voice. Instead, the screen showed a small thirty second clip of film on a constant loop, a constant cycle of the same police officers cordoning off a town from the public, even as people in biohazard suits walked in.

"There has been an outbreak in Petalburg City, similar to that in Oldale town mere days ago. At the moment, no persons are allowed in or out of the city, and all trainers are advised to seek alternative routes around the city."

I watched the report with wide, numb eyes. It wasn't just a leak like Oldale's; there were never people blocking the entrance in such a way. When we'd reached the limits, we'd simply been informed by two police officers on duty, yet could see everything in town was still going on much the same as before.

Petalburg's however, was another story.

Behind the cameras was the city itself, though it was completely barren. The only movement that could be seen were the people in biohazard suits moving in and out of a white tent erected on the border. The urgency and horror in the policemen's eyes said volumes about what was really going on in the city.

Someone had died.

This new virus they feared about had claimed a victim, so the people in biohazard suits were trying to ensure it was neither contagious nor airborne or the like. I cursed, wondering why I had never heard of anything like this in my time. I only knew of one wide-spread virus; it was one we suffered with each day, one that had made the people and the pokémon violent enough for us to begin setting up small guard camps around clusters of people. I frowned, chewing my lip as I thought about it. I knew the basic histories of the virus; it was first prevalent in Sinnoh about two years from the current time. Little after that Mount Coronet had exploded and taken the continent with it, though the virus reached Hoenn eight years later.

In ten years the virus would spread over Hoenn, and with everything else that happened, would culminate into the world I knew. This was far too early; this was nothing more than a small scare that would likely pass quickly. It wasn't the virus I knew and feared, which made me breath a heavy sigh of relief.

The next line of text that rolled over the screen caught my attention instantly.

"Pathornogix are lending hundreds of relief workers and counter-infection medicines."

I blinked. Who were Pathornogix? Were they the villainous team Jennifer had mentioned to me? Were they the ones I had to leave to be defeated by a youngster trainer? Or were they something else entirely? They could be merely a group of do-gooders, like many of the charity groups that sent relief to locations of natural disasters. To my limited knowledge, they weren't anything - I'd never heard of them before, which surely meant that they weren't a threat.

At least, that's what I convinced myself.

But it begged the point; what if this were to lead to the virus I knew being leaked in Sinnoh? Everything I knew of my history's past was still this world's future, it seemed.

And then, realisation hit me like a tonne of bricks.

That little devil imp Celebi never told me anything about what I needed to do because surely, I already knew what was going to happen! I knew what was going to happen to this world, because to me, it was my past! I couldn't believe something so garishly obvious had been staring me in the face the whole while, and yet, I'd been unable to see it the whole while.

Silently, I cursed the fact that I'd never paid much attention to history's details.

I knew how to kill five hundred pokémon in quick, efficient ways, how to survive in the wilderness, how to effectively use fifteen different firearms and six different bladed weapon styles. But all of that was useless because I didn't know enough about my own history.

I banished the thought away. Celebi had chosen me in that moment, so I must have known just enough to be able to change everything. It meant everything I did know had to be useable enough to change it all.

Though how much did I actually know?

I needed to write down and recall everything I knew, though with Adryan around, it was too risky. I couldn't give him prior knowledge of everything to happen; either he'd think I was to be a part of it, that I had been abusing the power of psychics, or he'd realise I was actually from the future. Any of those things would alienate him from me and make him run six hundred miles in the other direction, and probably call the scientists on the way.

I couldn't risk it. I was dependant on him in those times; he was my guide to this foreign world. If I fucked up well enough to scare him away, I'd be truly on my own, and I'd be forced to learn about this world entirely by myself.

I bit my lip and tried to silently recall everything. He'd be leaving me in Rustboro, I knew that much. I had until then to garner the information I needed about the world, so that I was capable of surviving on my own. After that, he'd leave, and I could safely note down everything I could remember of what was to happen.

It was a gamble, leaving it that long. Something could happen within the time it took me to get to Rustboro, something that I was meant to change. I looked again at the report. Petalburg was closed... and that was one of the cities we had to pass through on foot to get to Rustboro.

Though Adryan had a flygon that could fly us over. Surely it could fly us all the way to Rustboro easily. That meant it would probably be at most a week until Adryan and I parted ways. The realisation made me slightly depressed, though I focused past such feelings. I had a week to be normal, a week to be as carefree as I could within this time.

After that, I had to start saving the world.

All my serious thoughts died in my mind moments later as Adryan woke up, eyelids fluttering heavily. He groaned and pulled a pillow over his head, trying in vain to block out the noise of the news channel.

"Does it... have... so loud?" he mumbled incoherently from underneath his pillow.

"Rough?" I asked with a laugh. He groaned once more and I sobered. "There's something happening in Petalburg, looks like we might have to take another way around."

He woke instantly and shot bolt upright.

"Wha?" he grunted as he blindly searched for his glasses. He squinted at the television screen, tensing as he returned his sight and was able to read the screen. A curse formed on his lips as he watched it, completely paling."No way," he whispered.

I looked at him, surprised by his reaction. "You know someone there?"

He shook his head, though gripped it moments later. Obviously he was still suffering from the previous night. "I just didn't think anything like that would happen. I mean... it's spreading."

I would have leapt at him, demanding answers had it not been for Xander on my lap. "What do you mean?" I asked him, afraid he had inside knowledge.

"It was in Oldale a few days ago," he said in a patronising tone. "The nearest civilisations to there are Littleroot and Petalburg. If it hits Littleroot too, it could turn into a pandemic."

"It won't turn into a pandemic," I stated confidently. I'd know if a pandemic had spread sometime in my past. I'd never heard of such a thing, so was more than confident in my answer.

"Hopefully not," he grunted as he tapped a finger against his chin. "We'll need to take another route to Rustboro then."

I shrugged and put my thoughts on the table "Irenui?"

"Suppose," he conceded. He groaned and attempted to pull himself out of his bed. "I'll feed her and Siren, let her have a fly to warm up a bit." He heaved and shot forwards in a flash, clutching his stomach in pain. "Urgh... never drinking again," he swore, attempting to move as little as possible. "She should be up for flying in about two hours."

I glanced at the clock. Fourteen hundred hours. It meant most likely we'd be flying for a good portion of the afternoon, if not some of the night too. I'd have been more confident if I were flying on something that could have a source of light around it, like a charizard, though I had faith Adryan would make us fly face-first into a ditch.

Though as he lurched again in hungover sickness, my faith in him was quickly lost.

"Here," I said as I reached into my bag. I pulled out the miracle invention of painkillers and tossed the pack to him. "And have a lot of water."

He caught the pack and threw a grin at me. "Thanks mother," he muttered. He groaned and pressed his palms to his temples and pressed down. "How much did I have to drink last night?" he groaned, pained.

"A lot," I said with a shrug. I thought about it for a second. I couldn't remember the night, which meant most likely, he couldn't either. I could have some fun. "I mean, at one point, you were dancing with this little old lady..."

"Oh gods..." he groaned and buried his face in his hands. "Please tell me I didn't do that."

I grinned. "What would you like me to say instead? Though it was quite funny when she tried to kiss you. I mean, her teeth did fall out whilst you were dancing."

"Oh gods," he breathed. He leapt to his feet as quickly as he could and swallowed two pills then and there. "I don't want know anymore. I'll come back and let you know when we're ready to fly."

He left the room and I couldn't help but grin to myself. Being evil was fun.

It turned out Irenui wasn't ready to fly until seventeen hundred hours. Adryan had called up professor Birch to withdraw a few pokémon from his care while he let Irenui have a fly around. Apparently it was for when he left Rustboro; he was going to make a swift exit towards somewhere he wanted to go and train. I'd asked where, but he'd told me emphatically I shouldn't dare think about going anywhere near there for a good long, but he'd explain it to me whilst we were flying.

I wasn't going to argue. It meant we'd have something more to talk about whilst we were up in the air. I needed to tell him about Loki too, and decided I would tell him whilst we were in the sky. If nothing else, I wouldn't be convinced into letting him out.

Before we left, I decided to have a shower. I was still caked in dry blood from Loki's earlier attack, though thankfully it was shielded underneath my clothes, and Adryan had been too ill or preoccupied to notice my shredded attire. I filled the sink up with water and let Xander attempt to squeeze in as I had a shower of my own.

When I finished, Xander had somehow managed to squeeze himself somewhat awkwardly into the sink. I left him there and wrapped a towel around myself as I left him there and returned to gather my clothes from my pack. Adryan was waiting in the room already, and once he caught sight of me, he sat there staring at my chest.

I felt like a prize on a podium. Before I could even formulate a witty reply he said, "Those don't look like any scars I've seen before."

I blinked before I realised what he was talking about. I had three bullet wounds over my chest; one on my right pectoral, another just above my pelvis on the left, and the final one just above my right kidney. While I never forgot the events that lead up to each scar, I often forgot that I ever had them. Scars, like birthmarks, were often forgettable if they were merely aesthetic and out of sight.

I shrugged and grabbed my clothes. "Bullet wounds," I said simply.

He looked like he'd guessed as much, but the confirmation still shocked him enough to jaw his jaw ever so slightly. "How'd you get those?" he asked.

I smirked. "I got shot."

"Ha," he drawled. "Seriously, how'd you get them? Or is it too personal?"

I bit my bottom lip. The last two had been obtained in confusion because of friendly fire in a virus outbreak, and another when I'd had to escort someone to another camp. Revealing any details about those would say too much about my past. I fingered the one near my kidney and could remember the events as if they had only just happened.

"I was on guard duty with my station," I said, carefully choosing my words. He could believe I was an enlisted soldier somewhere, as long as he didn't ask where or when. Then I'd have to start to really think fast. "There was this little old lady that was approaching the guard perimeter, and well, she seemed harmless enough." I couldn't help but scoff at that. My, how people could use appearance to hide all sorts of motive. "But we had to check her to make sure, regardless. I was the one that had to search her. Once I got close enough, she suddenly whipped a pistol out of her pants and shot me here-" I pointed to the scar. "She got past me and shot the other guard on duty with either a precision or lucky-as-hell shot." I shrugged. Not like it mattered now anyway. "She went mad. Started shooting anyone and anything she could find, screaming how we'd murdered her only grandson and left her completely alone in the world."

Adryan seemed to be torn between disbelief and amazement at my tale. "Was she right? I mean, were you guys responsible?"

I shrugged once more. "Some people can handle what you see in the army, others can't. He saw something he couldn't cope with, and three days later blew his brains out."

What I told him was mostly true, at least. The real truth was he was part of another base camp. He came into ours and we treated him as kin, though the whole time he was planning to kill us all and expand his own group. We found out and confronted him, and rather than be punished by our standards, he pushed a pistol to his head and pulled the trigger. When the old lady arrived, I'd overlooked her as a threat and not searched her thoroughly enough. Because of that, she'd been able to walk past me, pull out a gun I hadn't found and shot me in the gut. She shot the other guard with the one-in-a-million shot and wreaked havoc for us all.

As soon as I'd been bandaged up from the infirmary, I was forced to clean up what little was left with her, as well as scrub the mess floors with a toothbrush.

Needless to say, I never made the same mistake again.

Adryan looked enthralled by my story, and slightly ill at the thought of someone's brains painting the wall. "Wow. I didn't realise Kismet Plains were so bad."

My heart pumped frozen blood and my breath caught. "Well, this wasn't in Kismet Plains. This was in the regional army barracks."

He looked at me with a slow nod. "Wow." He whistled once and pulled his coat tighter around himself. "I didn't realise the north Hoenn corps had it so rough."

I stopped at his words. Was Kismet Plains in the North of Hoenn? Or more, would it qualify for north Hoenn corps? Was there even a north Hoenn corps? I thought about it as quickly as I could. It was near Lavaridge Town, which was just north of Mauville, which was more or less the middle of Hoenn. That meant it should qualify for the northern corps, right?

"Everywhere has it rough," I said, managing to skirt most of his statement. "It's just some things that go on aren't exactly allowed to be public knowledge."

He regarded me with a level stare. "Right," he said, and shrugged. "Well, when you're dressed, I'll be waiting outside with Irenui." He took two steps and smirked. "Take too long and I'll come drag you out for the ride, regardless of whether you're butt-naked or not."

I shook my head at him as he left the room. Only when I was sure I was on my own did I let out the breath I didn't realise I was holding. That was all too close. Somewhere I was going to make a fuck up, and my whole story would unravel like a ball of yarn. As much as I needed Adryan with me to teach me the world, I needed him far away to stop myself revealing too much.

I took a breath to calm myself. As long as I didn't over think things, I'd be okay. I got dressed and packed as quickly as I could and made sure Xander was back in his ball safely before I left the room. Briefly I fingered Loki's ball, wondering what to do with it or not. I could have left it then and there, and made sure that the feral ghost-imp was someone else's problem. But he was my pokémon, my weapon, and hopefully would become my friend. I needed to figure out what to do with him, and how to get him under my control again.

After all, I caught him; he was my responsibility, like it or not.

Flying was always a fun joy. Flying a night was even better. The entirety of Hoenn's landscape was beautiful; from our sky-high perch we could see as far away as the distant Slateport, Dewford and even begin to visualise the peaks of Meteor falls.

Far below, nothing was visible except the endless sea and a cluster of lights that illuminated every town there was within sight.

"It's beautiful," I breathed, awed.

I felt Adryan nod. "Sure is."

Along the first part of the journey, we'd talked about mostly aimless stuff; the current affairs of Hoenn, the state of the other countries and a little about Adryan's experiences in the other regions, where he'd managed to buy a saddle specifically made for a flygon, and why it was capable of fitting two people on it. I also managed to get the information out of him about where he was heading off after Rustboro.

He was supposedly headed to the Origin Cluster. He explained to me that every country had a specific location which was constantly full of extremely strong pokémon that held more than enough power to level towns, if not the whole country. Each country's Elite Four, however, guarded the entrances and would routinely patrol to ensure that no pokémon were escaping. It was supposedly Cerulean Cave in Kanto, Mount Silver in Johto, and Stark Mountain in Sinnoh.

He told me that only those who had beaten a member of the Elite Four or obtained a total of at least seventy-five badges could be allowed in. He told me it was a true test of survival and skill; you were often lucky if you could see your hand in front of your face in there. Having a pokémon light up the area often drew attention from wild pokémon he told me even the Elite Four struggled when they faced them two-on-one.

The Origin Cluster was supposedly a network of underground tunnels that linked Origin, Terra and Marine Cave, the Sky Pillar and a place called the Scorched Slab. I asked him what that was, as I'd never heard of such a location before. He explained to me that it was a strange cave nearby Fortree that everyone had once believed held nothing within. However, he explained to me that within the past few years it had begun to live up to it's name; unless you had a fire pokémon with you, you were likely to die of heat exposure within a few minutes. It was supposedly hot enough to melt ice pokémon, and to even dry out water pokémon. Fire pokémon could supposedly redirect the heat to ensure the trainer's survival.

The networks were supposedly filled with toxic clouds, acidic rivers and lava lakes. Apparently, those were the appealing factors. When I asked why in any holy deity's name he'd want to traverse it, he simply smiled and said it was a challenge. If he and his pokémon could survive even a fortnight in there, they'd be able to win a tournament.

I couldn't fault his logic.

I shuddered as my breath fogged before me. We were flying well over five thousand feet in the air, which meant that I was beginning to feel the cold. It must have been roughly zero degrees in centigrade, and there I was flying in nothing but a short tee. I'd packed nothing but summer based clothes, not expecting to be having to deal with near-zero temperatures at any time in Hoenn. The coldest winter they'd ever had was still as warm as six degrees centigrade. Cold and Hoenn just never went together in the same sentence.

I scowled and watched more of my breath fog in front of my face. Seeking warmth I wrapped my arms tighter around Adryan's waist and buried myself further in his back, trying in vain to share some of his body heat. For someone who complained about feeling the cold, he was doing well at such altitudes, in fact it felt like he possessed an inner furnace, given the heat it was giving off.

I barely caught his grunt over the wind, and instead caught his meaning by the slight turn in his spine when I pressed closer as he tried to see what was wrong.

"S'cold..." I muttered into his coat.

He laughed all the way from his stomach at me. "I did tell you it would get cold up here. But would you listen? Nooo! You were all like; 'I can deal with cold'."

I grumbled and squeezed his waist tight enough to cause him pain. He yelped and I smirked. "I take back my earlier statement."

He laughed louder than I did, though I was still dealing with the sudden feeling of cold attacking my poor, exposed arms. He leant forward and rubbed Irenui's neck, shouting his question over the winds at her. She roared back an answer, and he leant back into a more relaxed position.

"She's doing fine," he translated for me. "The cold's why I had to get her to warm up first," he explained, pulling lightly on the reigns of the saddle. "Dragons are weak to cold; they need to start off flying at low altitudes until they've heated up enough to head higher."

"How did you learn all of this?" I wondered aloud.

I felt him shrug more than I saw it. "Ten years of being a trainer, coupled with a lot of research and a damn sight more mistakes. But hey, you learn from them, right? Besides-" I felt him shrug once more, "-you're a trainer too. You'll make mistakes no matter what you do, no matter how experienced you are. They're just a sign you've still got more to learn."

What he said made me feel a lot better about my own mistakes. It seemed that no matter what, whatever mistake you made was always the worst one to happen in the entirety of history. I still knew mine was pretty bad, but hearing I wasn't alone in making them made me feel confident enough to speak about it.

"I... I fucked up with Loki," I said, leaning my head further up his back. If I was closer to his ears, I wouldn't have to shout or repeat myself, I figured. "Like, really fucked up."

I could tell he was intrigued by the muscle twinge that shot down his neck and back; it meant he had titled his head. I blinked and wondered just how I knew that, though quickly forgot as he asked, "How so?"

I could still see it happening before my eyes. "Some trainer decided to have a battle with me earlier today. Xander beat his pokémon fine enough, but Loki's another story. He was doing fine, right up until he bit the machop's neck hard enough to get blood in his mouth."

Adryan's response was a barely audible, "Oh." Then he laughed. "Man, you're not the only one to do that, you do realise?"

I looked up at the back up his head. "I'm not? But..." My head dropped down again. "He sees everything as a target now. He's that out for blood he even attacked me."

To my surprise, I felt Adryan chuckle once more. "You're not by yourself with that, you know? I did that with Ripper back when he was a duskull. It took me months to get the bastard back to normal, yet when I did, he was stronger than ever, and we'd developed a bond I didn't think we'd ever manage to make as strong otherwise."

I blinked. I truly wasn't alone in how badly I'd screwed up. If Adryan had done it and come out of it, surely that meant I could to. It was like hope shone through me again, and I found myself just a little bit lighter. "How'd you manage to do it?" I asked.

"Elbow grease, a lot of time, training, and buckets of patience," he told me.

Training and elbow grease I could do. Patience and time, that I could not. Time was my enemy, and thus was making my patience near non-existent. It was possible to get Loki to recover, I'd found out that much. I'd just have to find out my own way to do it. Even still, I felt considerably lighter than I had before.

"You have a duskull?" I asked to change the subject.

"Mh-hm," he grunted. "Well, more a dusclops now, but he's slowly turning into a dusknoir."

I thought about the creature. I had never seen one, but knew it took decades for a dusclops to fully change into the demonic dusknoir. It was a creature supposedly capable of taking souls to the afterlife, and was said to be an agent of death itself, collecting souls as and when it was told.

"It must be old then," I said. I knew enough about pokémon evolution to know what I was talking about. When I'd learnt the weak points of pokémon, I'd learnt about how they evolved; it was a way to identify the pokémon's level of threat easier. If it was stressed whilst starting to evolve, it could force itself into the next form prematurely to overcome the threat.

"Ancient," Adryan confirmed. "Old bastard's been around longer than my grandparents; says he can remember when the gyms were first being built in Hoenn."

I tried to do the calculation in my head. "He's old," I decided, intellectually. "Even more so to be evolving into a dusknoir."

"He hasn't got long left 'til he's completely one," he told me. "Then he's going to be classified as a level four threat. Most people are afraid dusknoir will just spirit away any soul they want, just for the hell of it. Truth is, they only take who they're told, and if they take someone early, someone else gets to live a little longer." He shrugged once again, and I knew he didn't know anymore about that topic. "Though I could have sped up his evolution if I got him to keep a reaper cloth nearby."

I was completely confused. "What the hell's that?"

He grumbled deep in his throat, obviously not completely sure. "It's a piece of fabric that supposedly comes from the underworld. No one's sure about it's origins, but it's been proven to contain a high amount of spiritual energy. If a dusclops stays around it for long enough, it evolves into a dusknoir sooner."

I'd never heard of such a thing. My knowledge was only that pokémon would evolve after a certain amount of time and experience. Not once had I ever heard of cloths or whatnot that could speed up evolution. Maybe they weren't around in my time. Then again, I remembered many sorts of quick-evolutions; growlithe into arcanine, rhydon into rhyperior... I'd always just assumed that people had been hunted down one old enough to evolve soon.

"Can't that be... detrimental to it?" I asked, eager to learn.

"Not if it's done over enough time," he told me. "When I got Ripper, he was already more than old enough to need it. But certain objects like that, or the specialist stones like water stones emit radiation waves that affect the pokémon. If you keep it somewhere close, yet still at a distance, like in your bag, then it can slowly change the pokémon without it having to wait an extra few years." He stopped speaking for a moment, and only the sounds of Irenui's wings beating and the air chopping past our ears kept me company. He was trying to search for an analogy good enough to explain it. "It's like someone having liposuction as opposed to losing weight naturally. If you go for the short option, you're not completely prepared for the change, so you'll take a while to adjust, and you'll still be eating the same way you always did. On the other hand, if you go the long route, your body is prepared for the change long before it happens, so even once you lose the weight, you're sticking to the same regime."

I considered it for a moment. "So it is detrimental."

He laughed. "Yes and no. Either way, you end up with the same or similar results. Usually by evolving them too quickly the new form misses out on something they would have learnt naturally by taking the slow way, like the age old one of a raichu evolving too soon; it loses a lot of the speed it would have had if it evolved slowly."

"Lose competency in one area to speed up the whole process," I realised. It made sense, in a way. People were always obsessed with power, and the sooner they could get it, the better. Why wait over ten years for your pokémon to evolve when you can make it do so in a few months, all at the cost of a little speed or strength.

He nodded. "Though, there's such a thing as overdoing it. The pokémon only needs to be near the source of radiation. If say you took a water stone and say, smacked an eevee with it, there would be too much radiation for the pokémon to handle. It would evolve within a day, maybe the week at most. Best case scenario; it still has a few eevee traits, like speed or strength. Worst case scenario; the pokémon can't adjust at all, and either drowns instead of breathing under water, can't use any abilities or dies from the shock."

That was a much heavier result than I first would have thought. "So with every worst case scenario, the result is death?"

Adryan made a movement somewhere between a nod and a shrug. "Pretty much. So unless you keep a water stone handy in your backpack, you're unlikely to see Xander evolve into a lombre and then a ludicolo before you're thirty."

Well, that completely put a spanner in the works. I needed my pokémon to reach their final evolutionary forms to maximise their potential. If they couldn't hit that, then my weapons weren't performing at best.

Though, I'd heard about pokémon that remained in one form and trained hard and often enough to surpass the potential they'd be expected to have in their next form. Maybe it wasn't all bad. If I could train Xander enough, he might be able to be a stronger lombre than a ludicolo.

In the middle of my thoughts, I felt Adryan try to turn round. "We're gonna start descending," he informed me. "Hold on tight."

That was all the warning I got. Not moment later Irenui dove down, and I'm sure I left my stomach up with the clouds. It took all my self control not to shriek in fear as we dropped hard towards the ground. Instead I gripped Adryan's waist hard enough to make him yelp in pain.

"Sorry," I mumbled. He made no big deal out of it, and instead focused more on getting Irenui to land. As much as I enjoyed flying, landing was another story completely. The dragoness landed with enough force to make my teeth wobble within my jaw, and I'm sure it led to later dental work.

Adryan cooed and rubbed her neck as she stood on solid ground, beating her wings forcefully in the night. I saw flickers of sand grains spinning around us both, and realised then and there that flygon truly could kick up sandstorms anywhere. It was no wonder why people didn't want to let trainers have them run wild in towns.

He unbuckled himself from the saddle and fell out gracefully, though my attempts were more of an unbuckle-then-fall-out-backwards on the floor with all the grace of a one-legged tauros.

I leapt to my feet as quick as I could, hoping that Adryan hadn't seen my lack of finesse. Of course, with my luck, he'd caught the whole thing as was busy laughing a happy tune at my general idiocy. I grumbled to myself and resisted the urge to set Loki on him. It might have made me feel better, but it wouldn't have helped me resolve the creature's manic behaviour.

"C'mon," he ushered me forwards into the town as he recalled his dragon in a beam of light. "We'll see if there's a room going in an inn or the centre."

I threw him a look as we walked down the streets, him guiding me as if on autopilot. "Don't you come from Rustboro?"

He waved his hand in a circling motion. "Yeah, but it's not all that polite, you know? I can't just arrive home at-" he glanced at his watch, "-nearly one in the morning and just be like 'hi mum! Just popped in for the night, you don't mind giving up a room to random stranger I happen to know?'"

I rolled my eyes and conceded the point. It probably wasn't the best idea to turn up at oh-one hundred hours in the morning and demand a room in someone's house. I'd earned enough money from the trainer battle to pay for my share of the room, it just meant that I'd have to earn enough for the remainder of my stay. I hoped it wouldn't be long, giving me enough chance to move on into the world and complete my goal.

Though with the way the world constantly threw me curve balls, I started to wonder if it actually wanted me to save it or not.

 
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