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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7. Demon of the Dark

In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. ~ Albert Schweitzer

 

"Always listen to the advice of others. Then ignore it and make your own mistakes. When you use another's advice alongside what you yourself have learnt, that's when you truly begin to advance as a trainer."

- Cynthia Rivers, 43rd Sinnoh League Champion & 21st World Champion. (March 29th, 3012)

 

Route a hundred and three made me realise how truly unprepared I was for any sort of journey, regardless of what I'd learnt. I had managed to avoid all the trainers along the path once they understood Xander was still too naive at battling, and thankfully they'd told me to battle a few more wild creatures before I bothered trying to fare my luck in trainer battles. A few even suggested I catch another Pokémon, just so I could have them train against each other. It was a good idea.

 

But my main problem fell into the passage across the route; there was a large body of water covering the path completely. The nearby sea that stretched around Slateport trickled down into this large river, ending in a small lake east of Oldale Town. While it was an impressive sight; to watch the waves wash over each other and the various indigenous Pokémon to leap from the water's depths, it still didn't help me cross.

Regardless, I let Xander out and sat down on the bank as he happily waddled into the water and began drifting along its surface. He had no idea we currently had to get across the river, and didn't seem to care at that point either.

I briefly considered getting him to swim across with me, but quickly abolished the thought. The rapids were going to be too strong for me to navigate, let alone a small creature of his size, regardless of his natural affinity for water. We needed another creature; one that could fly across these gaps, or swim across them and be able to hold us on their back.

I needed another Pokémon.

In that though, I suffered the earlier problem I had realised; catching another Pokémon would mean training another, making sure it knew and trusted me enough to sit on its back while it sum or flew. Hell, I had to trust it enough to sit on its back in such circumstances.

I ended up simply watching Xander for a good while until a familiar voice greeted my ears.

"You know, staring at the water isn't going to make it part for you. Unless you've got magical powers or something..."

I rolled my eyes as Adryan began walking towards me. Of course it would have been my luck to encounter the annoying goon twice in one day. I could tell he obviously meant well... it was just that he annoyed me to no end in the mean time.

"Be quite cruel of you to stand on that Lotad of yours and get him to swim across," he mentioned conversationally as he sat down beside me, himself too staring at my Pokémon swimming in the water. "What was his name again? Oh, right! Xander!"

My Pokémon bobbed his head out of water and looked in our direction as he heard his name. It made me smile, knowing that I had managed to train him enough to respond even when someone else called out his name. The problem still remained in teaching him to fight at high standards.

I saw Adryan smile at me from the corner of my eye as he stretched his arms forwards. "So how many other Pokémon you got? I'm guessing they've gotta be nothing like a Lotad if you needed help in training him... so no grass or water types."

I stared at him, briefly considering outright lying. Instead I opted to tell him the truth, knowing that with my luck, he would have wanted to see them. "He's my only Pokémon. I've only been travelling for a week."

"No shit..." Adryan whispered contemplatively. "So you're just waiting here, thinking of how to cross the water? Not letting your Lotad swim about like I thought?"

I shook my head before frowning and biting my bottom lip. "Both actually. I thought he could do with a swim while I thought about what to do." I stopped and stretched slightly, trying to find a cooler spot for my body to rest in. I glanced sideways at Adryan and noticed him sat, perfectly happy in his trench coat and scarf, looking completely unbothered by the heat. "How can you be wearing that in this weather?" I asked in a drawn out groan, resisting the urge to fan myself with a hand. There I was with sweat matting my forehead, and he didn't even have a single bead on his! It was truly unfair.

He grinned and shrugged before letting out a small laugh. "My mother's always been a fire type enthusiast. The whole time I grew up, the amount of fire types we had always kept the house as hot as a sauna. Seriously, this weather's like being in a fridge compared to my home." He laughed as my jaw dropped, understanding how strange it sounded. "Tell ya, if you grew up with me, you'd be running round at the moment trying to stay warm!"

I frowned and pushed hair from my face as I considered the idea. Personally, I think I would have melted by the age of three, and have been nothing more than a steaming pile of goo on the carpets, forever bubbling in the heat.

Curse Hoenn and its forever-summer heat.

I shook my head once more. "Why'd you call me 'soldier-boy' when you left earlier?" I asked, worried that he may have somehow known my true past. Then again, my past was his future...

Now that was a mind-fuck in itself.

"I did tell you my name," I pressed, watching as another grin formed on his face. He seemed to take everything as a large laugh, and it was beginning to irk me. The fact that I'd grown up in such a serious world was something of a mixed bag for me; on the one hand, I appreciated everyone that could lay back and be rid of seriousness for a while. On the other, I couldn't deal with people that seemed to throw seriousness out the window.

"Hey, don't like it; don't dress like one." He shrugged once more, chuckling as Xander bobbed up along the water's surface again. "Tell ya what," he said as he turned to face me. "Come with me, help me explore Altering Cave, and I'll give you a lift across this river here."

I followed where he was pointing, finding an old cavern in my line of sight. It seemed to be the remains of a mining pit; as the hole that lead into it was almost completely on the floor. Shrubbery covered most of the surrounding area, and the cave tip was only just visible over some larger plants. It meant the cave lead underground, where any number of vicious beasts could be hiding.

"Why would you offer to help me?" I asked him, not trusting the help he was offering me. "I mean seriously, helping out a novice trainer? It sounds like something someone would do to groom someone who didn't know any better."

It was one of the only times I saw his expression darken and anger boil over his face. "Look, you ungrateful shit," he growled at me venomously. "All I'm doing is trying to be nice and offer help. If you don't want it, fine. But don't accuse me of being something as fucked up as that, alright?"

I nodded, understanding I'd completely overstepped the mark. "I'm sorry," I said truly, watching his face soften and him nod in acceptance. "I'm... not used to people being so freely helpful to each other. Where I'm from, people are more likely to shoot you then they are to offer a hand to help you up."

It was true. Only in our own camps was everyone kind to each other, and that was only under normal circumstances. If Pokémon or people ever attacked, it was always a case of self-preservation. What I told him perfectly described the animosity between different camps; if they saw you, they would most likely shoot you in the leg and leave you for the Pokémon, rather than taking you in and helping you put your life back together.

Which was why it annoyed me more when Adryan laughed at my apology.

"Hey, that's a rough place, sounds like the start to so many rags-to-riches story," he laughed, not noticing me glare at his complete uncaring attitude to my upbringing. "Seriously, where you live still run by the Rockets? Or some other mad group of criminal loons?"

I didn't know who or what the Rockets were, and I couldn't very well tell him the exact circumstances about my upbringing. I suppose I could have if I wanted, to freak him out and scare him away, though something told me he'd see it as a joke and never stop pestering me to come out with equally funny stories.

So I went for the best option; a complete change of subject.

"How comes you treat everything as such a joke?" I demanded with controlled anger. "You can't just ignore the seriousness of a situation completely by laughing it off!"

He shrugged again, shaking his head in amusement. "Look, if you don't learn to laugh at things, you end up twisted, bitter and angry at everyone and everything. I've seen so much stuff on my journey; I've seen people let it change them into shadows of what they once were. So I make sure I keep myself happy through laughter, even if it's just the simple amusement I get through my immaturity." He sighed deeply before plastering another grin on his face. "Laughter is the best medicine you know? I'd rather be happy and piss people off than miserable and accepted by others."

I took his words to heart without ever meaning to. It still didn't feel quite right to me that he maintained no seriousness whatsoever, but I could understand completely what he meant. I'd seen so many people in my time fall into depression because of our living conditions, and I only kept my sanity by focusing completely on every goal I ever set out for myself.

It was probably the first time I ever truly began to question my own happiness.

"Anyway," he said as he jumped to his feet, sending wet mud splashing everywhere. "You know some more about me, I know some more about you. So you wanna explore the cave with me and get a ride, or sit here for another hour or two wondering what to do?"

I weighed up my options and realised that my best bet was spending some more time with him and exploring the cave. Admittedly, the more I spent time with him, the more I began to question whether I was too hasty in forming my opinion of him.

Even if he did have the habit of making me want to strangle him.

"Deal," I accepted as I stood up. His grin widened in triumph as he began to lead me to the cave, stopping only when I glared at him for dragging me away without Xander. He laughed sheepishly and mentioned it was only a test, and that I must have really cared for the Lotad.

It made me realise how much I had changed, and was changing. In my own time I would have left the creature to fend for itself, or killed it myself. And there I was after not even a week of being with him wanting to make sure he was safe and happy.

In truth, it scared me.

 

Caves were dark.

 

It might have seemed like a stupid, obvious notion, but I had never considered just how dark they were until I entered that one. I heard Adryan curse and fumble around in his pack for a torch, mumbling more curses along the way.

The guy truly swore an awful lot.

"Success!" he cried in elation as he pulled out a torch and switch it on, bathing us both in a sickly yellow glow. It focused a large circle on the ceiling above, and quite honestly was only a slight help. "Yeah, it's a bit battered and old," he conceded as if reading my thoughts at that time. "You got one?" he asked as he whirled the light towards me, stopping just by my side so as not blind me.

I blinked hesitantly. How much had Jennifer actually packed into my bag? How unprepared was I for a journey that I'd never even thought of checking for my provisions before hand? I was a solider; trained for years, and yet two weeks in this new place had made me forget years of basic training.

I flipped the pack round and into my hands, searching awkwardly through its contents. I had never realised how much was in there, and marvelled at the space within. It seemed that everything could be compressed brilliantly to fit into the one storage space, regardless of their size and weight.

I was certain somewhere in there I felt a baseball bat.

"Here," I said as I pulled out the flashlight I never knew was there. I marvelled silently at how much I truly loved Jennifer at that point; having seemingly thought out everything. I clicked on the light and scrunched my eyes shut as a blinding beam shot out, easily trumping Adryan's torchlight; for mine was both a brilliant bright white, and at least double the size too.

He blinked once at me with his mouth agape. "Show off," he grumbled in good humour as I pointed the light down a cavern path and probably managed to blind a few Zubat. "You could have just pulled that out in the first place and saved me the embarrassment, you know?"

I grinned at him in the darkness. "Where would the fun in that be?"

He laughed and shook his head, conceding the point. "Still, no need to bring out the mini-sun to outdo me." His voice remained light as we traipsed through the cave, stumbling over the occasional Geodude which would usually grunt at us in annoyance.

"So what you going to be as a trainer?" he asked in interest as we rounded another corner, though his question came from nowhere. "There's loads of different professions you know? Breeding, research, tri-athletes, type specialists, gym challengers, coordinators-"

"'Coordinators'?" I parroted with palpable confusion. I'd never once heard of the term in my life in regards to Pokémon. It made me think of some extremely girly-girl attempting to teach a large group of Ursaring in tutus how to dance daintily.

And then abruptly getting mauled by them all.

"Yeah, never heard of them before?" he replied in bewilderment. I shook my head and he let out an amused grunt. "They train Pokémon to make use of their moves and selves to make themselves look pretty in front of crowds." I snorted at his words, causing him to chuckle. "It's actually not as bad as it sounds. They divide it up well, so you have some people showcasing Pokémon strength, others their beauty, even toughness. It sounds like a wimpy profession, but trust me; I've seen coordinator trained Pokémon take down some of the strongest trainers places have to offer."

He must have noticed my shocked expression as he laughed once more. "It seems strange, I know, but coordinators think on different levels to trainers. Most trainers get their Pokémon to straight up fight each other, or even just strategise to play to a Pokémon's strengths, getting more durable Pokémon to take more hits and the like. Coordinators though think of things most people don't. They train their Pokémon to use offensive fire attacks like Flamethrower as a makeshift shield, some even form domes of ice over themselves to stop fire attacks hitting. The most difficult thing about battling skilled coordinators is their unpredictability; they can improvise new strategies on the fly, no matter the situation." He stopped walking and placed his hands behind his head, casting his torch's glow on the rocks behind him. "Most trainers now try to implement a coordinator's touch into their battles, but it's a lot harder than it looks.

"I mean, tell a Pokémon to make a dome of ice around itself when it's never trained to do so?" He shook his head solemnly. "They might manage it, but they probably won't know how to get rid of it afterwards. They could end up shattering the ice and crushing or impaling themselves on falling chunks of it, or even just suffocating underneath it. Coordinator's Pokémon have to think on their feet as fast as coordinators themselves, otherwise, well-" he pulled a finger across his throat in symbolism.

I stared at him for a moment in bewildered awe. Being a coordinator sounded like a truly worthwhile investment, as it trained the trainer's mind too, but it would have taken far too long for me to get my Pokémon trained enough before my time was up – so to speak. Regardless, Adryan seemed extremely well-informed on the matter.

"Are you a coordinator?" I asked him in wondering. We'd stopped moving on in the cave since he himself stopped moving, so I leant against the wall behind me, keeping my flashlight trained between us.

"Sort of," he conceded with a smirk. "I've got a team specially built for coordinating; one specialist in each area like beauty, and then one jack-of-all-trades. I'm slowly getting all my others to have at least a basic grasp over it."

I nodded in understanding, respecting him a great deal more than I did before. I already gathered he was strong after seeing his Flygon, but after hearing how tough it was to become a coordinator, it was now on another level.

"I don't think I'll become a coordinator just yet," I told him confidently. "What was the one you said before that though? 'Gymers' or something?"

He repeated my words with a laugh, shaking his head as he did so. "Gym challengers," he corrected me. "All over the world there's special places called Pokémon Gyms. There's roughly about twenty in every region like Hoenn. They're used as a status to show how strong you are; the more you have, the stronger a trainer you are. Each gym is run by a leader, who is usually one of the strongest people in the region. They have loads of Pokémon at all different levels, accommodating for trainers of all experience." He grinned once more, trailing his flashlight in lazy, wide loops over the wall. "Once you get eight from one region, you're allowed to challenge their yearly league contest. In the league, each and every trainer that's qualified that year competes against each other, aiming for the top spot. If you win, you get a million poké dollars, plus a chance to challenge that region's Elite Four and reigning champion. As you can guess, they're the five strongest trainers in the whole region; levels above everyone else, so only the best of the best can challenge them."

It sounded like a good path to take. Doubtless if I needed to influence people, I would need a level of respect and authority to utilise. My old life of being a guard soldier was behind me; there was no way I could use that. If I became a strong trainer though, and attempted this league challenge, I could use that to my advantage. If I only needed eight badges, I'd aim for the whole twenty in Hoenn, just in case I needed the extra respect.

"When's the next league held?" I asked inquisitively. Hopefully it would be held before my deadline. If it was afterwards, I'd need to figure something else out.

"Roughly eleven months," Adryan informed me. "The last one just finished a month ago, and the new one's always a month later each year. It works out well like that, otherwise every year people would be using grass and summer types to exploit the summer weather, or ice to exploit winter."

"I'll have a think on it," I said to him. Eleven months was over my limit, I knew that. But if it came to it, I was confident I could use the league as a last-ditch attempt to change things. I was certain that they future could still be changed little by little after my supposed deadline. Even if I could only change it so that Kanto and Johto remained united and took over the whole world, at least it would hopefully be a suitable back up plan. "Once I register as a trainer, I'll decide."

Adryan's eyes widened behind his glasses and he took a surprised step towards me. "You're not registered as a trainer yet?" he exclaimed incredulously, his voice echoing brilliantly in the cave.

I shook my head. "Is that such a bad thing?"

"Yeah," he scoffed. "If you're not registered, you're not going to be insured!" He sighed and shook his head at my blank expression. "You're more than aware that on a journey, you and your Pokémon are both going to get hurt and injured, right? Well when you register as a trainer, all your Pokémon health care becomes free, as well as any treatment you might need as a result of training or battling. You won't get treated for liver cancer for free, but as long as you're a trainer, your Pokémon will. If they break an arm or a fin, it's healed for free, understand?" He shook his head once more and flipped the torch into the air, catching it expertly in the darkness. "If you're not registered and you or your Pokémon get injured; you're liable for all the medical fees. Worse still if you battle another trainer; then you're liable for both your and their fees!"

I felt my stomach do a complete flip in my gut, instantly thankful that I hadn't battled anyone or anything, save for the stray Electrike. I had to get myself registered as soon as I could.

"There's also the fact that you won't be allowed to have Pokémon walking around in town outside of their balls. If you're not a trainer, you have to pay a few of a least ten grand, all to have one Pokémon walk outside its ball." He shook his head, running a hand through his hair. "Without a licence, you're also only registered to carry one Pokémon on you, inside its ball. If you're found with more than one on your person, your eligible for an even bigger fine."

I blinked in sheer bewilderment. That was going to be a lot of money I'd have to pay out. My thoughts of getting registered increased tenfold within my own mind.

Adryan seemed to be thinking the same thing as me. "We'll get you to Littleroot a.s.a.p after this, alright? It's not too far-" his words turned into a yelp as something landed heavily in the cave, sounding nothing short of a boulder falling and splitting. Both our flashlights whirled round in the cave, attempting to find the source of the noise.

... and found nothing.

Until something moved behind us. It sounded like soft feet stepping whilst their owner breathed in quick, fast grunts. Our flashlights whirled round on the source, giving us a brief glimpse of a distorted long shadow on the wall, with a creepy thin body and lethally sharp looking claws.

"That did not look like any Pokémon I've ever seen," Adryan whispered in a mixture of fear and adrenaline. "What on earth is hiding in this cave?"

I shrugged, all possible Pokémon coming to my head dismissed in an instant. In the time I was in, people were only just discovering the Pokémon of the far-away region known as Isshu in such current times. With that knowledge, I assumed it would not be anything around of above the fifth-hundredth species of Pokémon known to me.

Which in all honesty, left me truly stumped.

I only just heard Adryan cry a warning before the very shadows themselves leapt at me, knocking me off my feet. I felt the briefest instant of sharp claws and teeth at my arms, and the strange warm scent of dirt before the presence was suddenly gone, leaving me breathless and confused.

"Dude, you alright?" Adryan asked in concern as he rushed to my side. I grunted an unintelligible answer as I felt him help me up before I began dusting myself down whilst checking for damage.

And then cold, hard horror fuelled through me.

Xander's Poké Ball was missing.

I related that information to Adryan, who made sure that I was certain it was on me before the attack before he began thinking of a solution.

"Well, it definitely wasn't human," he whispered in consideration. "No human has the ability to blend with shadows, and certainly can't cast shadows as weird as that! Must be a Pokémon," he concluded. I saw him scowl in the darkness as he pulled a ball off his belt and flung it forwards, making my ears ring as the explosion rung through the cave.

Irenui looked slightly cramped in the cave as she stretched her wings and took up most of the cavern.

"Irenui, make a sonar scan of the caverns, look for something that's similar to a Poké Ball," he commanded with expert efficiency.

The Flygon opened her mouth and went through all the motions of screeching, although no sound came out. I raised an eyebrow in curiosity and looked at Adryan. "Can Flygon actually use sonar effectively? I thought only bat-like creatures could."

He shook his head and cupped his hands over his mouth before he spoke. "Anything that can learn the supersonic skill can use it for echolation with enough practice. Do try not to talk when she's using it though, it tends to disrupt what they've doing."

I nodded and waited in silence as the Pokémon continued her hunt for my own. Adryan's words made me wonder if I could ever train my Pokémon to use skills like such, or even think of something that most hadn't thought of.

She stopped with a flap of her wings and craned her neck over to her trainer. "How Ireni's search go?" I asked, having still not figured out how to pronounce her name.

"E-ren-neh-wee," Adryan corrected me phonetically as he shook his head in amusement. "And yeah, apparently there's a few things that may be similar, though there's at least three that are on the move. They could be anything from spare Poké Balls trainers had dropped to even nuggets of gold. Our best bet is to just search each and every one of them."

Of course nothing in my life would ever be simple.

 

Two empty Poké Balls, one everstone and multiple small, impossibly circular rocks later, I was on the verge of giving up. I gave the everstone to Adryan as thanks for helping me out; apparently he had been searching for one for quite some time, and I didn't have a clue what it was used for.

 

I scowled and went to kick the pebble I saw on the floor, only to notice at the last moment that it had the exact colourations of a Poké Ball. I barely stopped myself in time as I stared, dumbfounded at the contraption. Adryan noticed my sudden change of mood and crept up nearby me, his Flygon's wing-beats creating a pleasant breeze in the otherwise humid cave.

"Something doesn't seem right about this," I whispered in paranoid consideration. Adryan went to object, until I noticed the length of strong tied around the ball, leading off into the darkness. I raised a brow in disbelief as cackling began to echo from deeper within. Something was taunting me with my Poké Ball, leading me into what was no doubt a trap.

I wasn't going to fall for it, yet at the same time, I wasn't going to leave Xander alone. I wondered just how to go about obtaining my Pokémon back before Adryan reached forwards and attempted to grab it, able to only watch in self-annoyance as it was pulled back into the cave with another cackle.

"I think whatever we're dealing with wants us to play a little game," Adryan surmised. He grinned childishly and lunged for the ball again, tsking as it was pulled away yet again.

And so we ended up with Adryan playing chase with my mystery assailant.

Every step we took closer to it made me want to wring its neck more for keeping me apart from Xander like this. When we finally reached the creature at the end, my Poké Ball was flung back at me, and I barely caught it in time. Another cackle came forth from the mystery creature, this time followed by the haunting glow of its eerie eyes as our torches focused on it.

A burp echoed from deep within the darkness, and an old, eaten bone clattered to the floor in front of us.

Adryan raised an eyebrow as he stared at the bone. "Riiighht..."

I however, was more focused on dealing with the Pokémon responsible with kidnapping my own. My torch light focused on it, and I found myself staring at the creature responsible for my attack.

It was barely two feet tall, and covered in a deep, dark purple skin which seemed to absorb all the light around it. Various gems glistened over its back and front, and two large diamonds were where its eyes should have been. It cackled again, revealing a set of sharp fangs, bared at us all. With a menacing laugh it wriggled forwards, teeth bared, claws up in the air, and hips sashaying as it moved.

I couldn't help it. I burst out laughing. It was just too funny to watch a creature so small and dare I say it – cute – trying to be intimidating. Adryan suddenly clutched at his side as he too began laughing, and I was certain I heard Irenui chuckle herself.

The creature's smile broadened considerably as it noticed our sudden change in mood. It cackled once more and growled darkly before it simply vanished into the wall behind it, creating a wailing, ghostly sound as the very wall itself began to stretch and bend.

I straightened immediately. I didn't know what the Pokémon was, but this was obviously a threat. My hands dove into my bag for some sort of weapon before they gripped around a spherical device which I threw forwards with all my might, whispering in harsh hisses that I would capture the demon and exact my revenge.

Needless to say, I was started when it collided with a ghostly crystal eyeball with all the force of a bowling ball. The creature wailed in pain and fell backwards before the sphere suddenly exploded in a blinding white light, dropping to the floor lightly as it still wriggled.

Only when the light completely faded did I realise what I'd just seen. "What... just happened?" I found myself asking.

Adryan chuckled in shock as he walked up and placed a hand on my shoulder. "You, by some mere miracle of luck, managed to catch yourself a Sableye."

I noticed I was nodded without even meaning to. I'd manage to catch my very first Pokémon by some sheer twist of luck, all by my own merit.

The only problem was I had no idea what exactly a 'Sableye' was, and had no idea of the threat one could pose.

 
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