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.


44. Falling

A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it ~ Oscar Wilde


"You fall? You get back up again. You can't get back up? You get carried. Keep fighting. Because if you can't get back up again, you're looking at one fucked up existence."

- Lieutenant Dan Surge, ex-soldier and Vermillion City Gym Leader 3003 – 3011. (Unknown date)


"You're going to have to run this all by me one more time."

Adryan sighed and looked at me as if I'd grown a second head. "You're kidding me, right? How many times have we gone over this? I need to be back in work in two days' time – you're going to end up keeping me here until the end of the year."

I folded my arms and rolled my eyes. I was vaguely aware that my pokémon were all either relaxing somewhere behind me or just lazing by the little campfire in front. "We need to go over it and make sure we know what we're doing. Do you really want to take a wrong turn and end up walking into a swimming pool filled with acid?"

Ayd snorted a laugh and poked our crudely drawn plans. "There's not a massive vat of acid like that anywhere in here. According to what Dad said, their labs are mainly just filled with foetuses, random chemicals and a few staff here and there. They've got the same sort of quarantine procedure's Dad's lab has too – if anything airborne gets out of a quarantine they lock down that entire section. You let anything loose, you're going to be caught. I can-"

"You're staying out of this," I said quickly. "You got all this from your dad, right? That means if they find anything linking you to this, you or your dad's going to drown in shit creek. I'm going to go through the lab and do all of this – you just make sure you're waiting outside to get me out as quickly as I can."

He grimaced and poked at the plans again. "But you need to get to this room here! Once you destroy everything there, you're going to let everyone inside know they're being broken into! You can't do this on your own!"

"I'm not going to," I said with a smirk. "Loki's coming with me. He can walk through walls and disappear in shadows. What more do I need?"

Ayd sighed and pulled a hand across his face. "Fine, I can't argue with that. But you know to go straight for the labs, right? You need to destroy all the chemicals in there – fire's probably the only way. Their research on stillbirths might go under, but they'll have it all documented electronically. They might have everything about this weird poison stored on the computers too, but if we cripple their actual data and stock of it, we should buy ourselves enough time to figure out how to destroy that and only that electronically."

I groaned and clutched my temples. "There's too many clauses here. Can I not just blow up the entire place?"

Ayd's face lost all humour instantly. "There's people there. Innocent people that have nothing to do with all of this. Killing people's only going to make things worse – look at what you did with Aaron as case and point."

I flinched and looked away. "That wasn't intentional, okay? I thought it was for the best!"

He shrugged. "I'm not saying it's not. But the problem is that little things can get blown up by other people. Sinnoh and Hoenn have hated each other for ages, but," he sighed and wiped a hand through his hair, "whatever. Shit happened, it should sort itself out. If not, one little thing from your future's happened, while everything else might be able to be stopped."

"Yeah," I said with a quick nod. "But this… I dunno. It feels a bit too neat. It's too easy, I shouldn't be able to know something so cut and dry about what I'm meant to do."

"Why?" said Ayd with a laugh. "Because psychics speak in riddle and rhyme? Some can speak sense, you know."

"So you say," I griped. "But if you turn out to be a bad guy and you've been playing me off for your own goals, I'm going to shoot you in the back of the head. Just so we're clear."

He just frowned at me. "I'm being straight with you here. This needs to be done to help the world. I might have done insane, weird, sometimes illegal things, but you can trust me when I say that I'm trying to help you here."

"Fine." I smirked at him and pointed to a large room on our infant-standard drawings. "So this is the room I need to get to, right? Where they store the top secret experiments?"

Ayd nodded. "Yeah. They've probably got a few other labs holding the same stuff, but this should be enough of a blow here. Any ideas what we've got to do after this?"

I managed a small smile. "Let's just deal with this first, alright? So Ripper's going to phase into the lab, have a quick glance around and then teleport me and Loki in. I need to find this little lab and destroy the chemicals in there. Loki can destroy all the computers while I'm doing that. Then we can meet near the roof to escape."

"What if that doesn't work out then?"

I shrugged. "I have my phone – I should be able to ring you. Loki will be fine – he can just walk through the walls if anything bad is coming down on him. I'm more worried about me if things go wrong. I don't have the ability to phase through solid objects or become near-invisible in shadows."

"I don't like this," Adryan mumbled. "We should get some other people in on this. Surely there's someone else The Celebi brought to the future, right?"

My thoughts went briefly to the girl in the trilby hat. I wondered just what had happened to her and figured that she'd probably died when I had Scar set fire to the entire place.

No big loss, I figured.

"Not as far as I'm aware," I lied. Maybe there were others. Maybe there weren't. Either way, I didn't care. I figured I didn't have enough time to be wasting on the ideal situation for this to happen in. It needed to be done as quickly as possible, I decided. "We need to get this done here and now. Your dad's figured everything about this lab now, right?"

Ayd gave a guilty nod. "Yeah, most of it-"

"Then that means they might update their security soon," I interrupted him. "So our opportunity will be gone. We know this now, we do this now."

"Alright," he relented. "So when are we doing this?"

I shrugged and glanced at Irenui. "How long would she take to fly us there?"

He glanced at his flygon and then at his five o' clock. "About half an hour if the conditions are good? Maybe a bit more if we don't want them detecting us."

I nodded and stood to start packing my stuff. "Then we're doing it in half an hour."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Adryan yelped and jumped to his feet after me. He snatched my wrist and pulled me to face him. "We can't go and do this with half-cocked plans. This is serious! I'm not even sure what the legal term is for going in and destroying government-funded research, but I'm pretty damn sure it comes with hefty prison sentences!"

His panic washed over me, not affecting my smirk in the slightest. "That's why you're staying out of this. You're blameless, so is your dad. If they catch me… well, I'm from the future. It's not like they can convict someone who doesn't exist yet, right?"

He just rolled his eyes at me. "Yeah, instead they'll either just kill you, since there's no record of you, or dissect you in the name of science."

"I'll deal with that when needs come to it," I told him breezily. "Right now, we need to prepare for this. Make sure your pokémon are ready to travel. My gun's fully loaded and cleaned – I won't use it, if that's what you're worrying about," I said quickly as his face fell in shock. "I'm just taking it in case something goes wrong. Guns can be intimidating. It's too loud to use indoors but if shit goes down, I'd rather have a gun than a knife."

"Fine," Adryan muttered. "Just don't go on random murder sprees."

I managed a laugh. "You sound like Xander. And besides, you're one to talk!"

It was his turn to flinch and look away. "They weren't random murder sprees and the people weren't innocent."

The man I saw you kill was.

Not like I could tell him though.

"Whatever," I growled. "Let's just not argue about this, alright? We'll sort it out afterwards." I turned away from him and moved towards my pokémon. "Loki, I'm gonna need your help on a job for a little bit. There's a little bit of danger here, but you're the one I need here. Help me out, do what I say and I'll get you a few of those stones you like so much."

He leapt up happily and danced by my side, eager to cause as much mischief as he could. I smiled and told him that we'd be leaving soon before I turned away and tried to find Scar. It wasn't hard to find the pokémon with a burning flame atop his tail; though I had to marvel at the way it didn't seem to burn the grass he was sat on.

I didn't have time to even bother thinking about why or how such a thing could happen.

"Hey Scar," I said as I approached the lizard. He turned at my voice and offered a small nod before adjusting himself and trying to go to sleep. I crouched down in front of him and poked him gently on his shoulder. His sapphire eyes snapped open, glaring palpable annoyance into my soul. "Need a favour," I told him. "Long story short, something I need to do that the time-pixie tasked me to do. With all the poké balls on the fritz, I can't take all of you with me. I'll need you and Alistair to look after everyone while I'm away."

He rose to his feet slowly and opened his mouth in a wide yawn. His eyes scanned our surroundings, took in all the pokémon around us and then finally fixed back on me. He growled a low sound and poked my arm.

"I'll be fine," I told him with a wave of my hand. "I'm taking Loki with me – all the rest of you are too likely to be hurt. Lacey's still A.W.O.L., but I think I know where she is. She'll turn up pretty soon, just let her know about this too. Try to keep on good terms with Gemini too – she might not like any of us much, but she knows a lot about that stupid celebi and how we can find it."

He gave a small nod and let me find Alistair to explain the situation to him too. He gave a quick affirmation, promised me that everything would be fine under his and Scar's care, then set off to find something for everyone to eat.

I let my pokémon explain the situation to Erra and Gemini. Xander was the only one I decided I should really explain the situation too. Once I did, his face fell into an obvious unease. He bumped my legs with his head as I turned to leave and croaked in distaste.

"I'll be fine," I told him and patted his head. He growled and snatched the cuffs of my camo pants in his mouth, growling around the fabric and attempting to pull me towards him.

I caught his meaning instantly and tried my best to pull away. "I can't take you with me Xander. This is dangerous. If Loki gets in trouble, he can disappear. If you do, you're a sitting target."

He continued to growl and pull on my clothes. He wasn't letting go anytime soon and as much as I tried to retrieve my leg, he just seemed to be stubborn enough to keep hold.

"Fine!" I growled and finally succeeded in reclaiming my leg. "You can come if you want. Just stay out of the way and try not to get yourself in trouble. I don't want anyone else there because otherwise I'm going to be worrying about you whilst I'm in there. I can't have you there because of that. But if you're going to be like this, I've got no choice." I crouched to his level and cupped his face in my hands. "Promise me you're going to stay out of the way during this, alright? This is important – I can't let myself get distracted during this."

There was a sudden gust of wind behind me, scratching my body with little bits of sand. I spun around to find Irenui staring at me; Adryan sat on her back and tense with anticipation.

"Get on," he said, voice low and serious. "We've gotta get this out of the way as soon as possible, right?"

"Sure," I said with a quick nod. "Xander's coming too. Looks like he wants to see through the quest I told him I'd need his help in completing."

It was another lie, but it wasn't like I could tell him the truth. 'My pokémon doesn't trust me not to go on a murdering spree' weren't exactly words of great inspiration.

"Alright," he muttered. "It'll be a tight ride, but we should all be able to fit. Ripper's gonna teleport there. All goes well, should be an in-and-out job."

The ride there was silent. Even Loki was oddly quiet as we flew towards the mysterious laboratory on the outskirts of Lilycove. Adryan guided his flygon to land just over a quarter of a mile from the mysterious place.

Xander leapt off Irenui and landed neatly by my feet, stretching out awkwardly on the damp grass. Loki was a lot more alive and excited, happily jumping about before he began pacing nervously and tapping his hands together.

Ripper appeared out of the ground once more, his looming red eye acting like a sinister beacon in the night environment. It washed over me, made my skin crawl and I barely stopped myself from audibly shuddering.

The light filtered past me and I felt a little warmth return to my body. Both my pokémon gave me weird looks and my mind wandered to what it all meant.

"We're here," Adryan said unnecessarily. "Ripper, you know what to do." I watched as the pokémon circled his trainer in a hover, growled something unintelligible and vanished back into the ground. With his disappearance the strange red light vanished, bathing us in darkness again.

"He'll be back in under a minute," Ayd told me. "Once he's back, he can warp you to where you need to go. Once he does so, I'll wait about twenty minutes, then I'll have Irenui fly me onto the roof. By that time, you should have been able to disable all the roof alarms. Shouldn't take you more than another ten minutes to find the lab and destroy the samples."

"Got it," I said with a nod. "While that's happening, Loki can go along and destroy the computers. I'll bring Xander along with me." Ripper appeared again from the floor and circled around us both this time, watching us in eerie silence.

"Ready?" Adryan asked me.

I'd barely managed to nod before the dusknoir grabbed me. Everything turned black for a second and it felt like my stomach was twisted into a tight not, ripped free from my body and then shoved in again through my back.

Abruptly everything changed into whitewashed walls and a strange, sterile smell. Harsh lights flicked above me and made my eyes scrunch shut. I heard both my pokémon growl as they did the same and figured that Ripper had managed to teleport all three of us at once.

Even with my eyes shut I could see Ripper's single red eye glaring straight at me. I opened my eyes a little to find the ghost floating before me, seemingly waiting for me to be able to function.

He sailed silently through the air towards me and gripped my face in his cold, clammy hands. A sudden chill filled the air and cold raced completely through my body.

His eye narrowed and seemed to stare through mine.

"Thou must remember thine purpose."

I didn't have time to question him before he just vanished from existence. I blinked and looked at both of my pokémon who just shared my own confusion.

"Keep quiet guys," I whispered as I drew my gun and took a steeling breath. Everything had led to this – my training, my journey, all to creep through a variety of similar-looking corridors and destroy a virus that was killing people.

There hadn't been any changes that were similar to what I knew.

In fact, I'd never heard of such a plague before.

What if this doesn't do anything?

I shredded the single thought of doubt and threw it away. I needed to do this. If it wasn't going to change anything at least it would prove that I was capable of doing something. I couldn't wait around and try to run away from my fate – doing that had only got some of my pokémon killed or damage, as well as myself and my friends.

The constant throbbing itch in my elbow was testament to that.

I scratched it on reflex, digging my nails deep and using the pain as a distraction and a focus.

Xander nudged my leg and stared at my gun disapprovingly. I shot him a small smile and quickly checked that it was loaded.

"I'm not going to fire it," I reassured him. "I'll probably end up deafening us all by doing that in here. I figure that only security in here will have guns – the scientists and everyone else probably won't. Seeing one should be enough to intimidate them. If they do have one well-" I shrugged and motioned for Loki to check our surroundings, "-I figure that since I'm still a teenager, it might make them hesitate for a second. Besides, you haven't learnt how to freeze things yet, so we're going to have to rely on what we know."

Loki growled as he stuck his head through the wall behind me. He made a quick few gestures I understood immediately.

All clear.

"Keep close," I whispered to my pokémon. My heart was racing with adrenaline and fear. I just hoped my pokémon didn't pick up on it. I took another breath and began to sneak through the halls.

My mind was abuzz after the first step. I remembered the plans Adryan and I had drawn out, all taken from a crude picture of the laboratory's layout Adryan had taken on his phone. Ripper teleported me in just next to the disabled toilets on the ground floor. I had to creep my way up two flights of stairs and somehow get through a secure area to destroy all the lab samples.

While I was doing that, Loki would have to part ways with us and find his way to the middle floor computer labs and destroy all the information they'd gathered. Afterwards, he could get rid of the electricity to the place and hopefully stumble them a bit more.

But first I had to get to the security office and disable the cameras inside and outside. That way I could sneak through unhindered by electronic watchers and Adryan would be able to land on the roof without detection.

It was a big place for somewhere that supposedly only looked for ways to cure and stop stillbirths.

I shuffled around a corner and traced the maps in my mind. Three more lefts, a right and then at the end of the final corridor would be my target.

I glanced at my watch.

Seventeen minutes, thirty seconds.

Seventeen and a half. It was my age in minutes.

The thought made my brain leap into action with conspiracy theories and farfetched scenarios.

I shut my mind down and focused on the objective.

Loki crept round another corner at my order. Xander stuck close by me, sneaking like an expert. He'd flooded the disabled toilets without me even ordering him to do so. At first I thought it was him causing mischief – he always did seem to become a bit of a prankster around Loki.

Then I realised the brilliance of his actions.

Flooding them would probably cause whoever walked past to stop and check. They'd have to call in people to repair them and try to find what was causing the leak. It was a way to get more people out of my way without ever having to go near them.

It just meant I had to stay out of the way, in case they came my way to investigate the flooding.

Even still, it was an act of genius.

I glanced at my arms and felt myself frown. I needed a way to blend in. Maybe a lab coat. It would probably let me walk around the labs with a bit more freedom. If anyone asked, I could claim I was doing work experience. My pokémon would have to stay hidden though – I doubted anyone was allowed to bring pokémon to work, even with the malfunctioning poké balls.

I'd have to adapt the plan as I went along. Less than an hour's planning wasn't really much to do a mission like this. Yet what we'd done was still pretty good.

Distant voices stole my attention. I gasped and pressed myself flat against the wall, heart racing and my fingers tensing around my gun. I couldn't figure out where they were, but I knew they were close.

I thought back to the plans in my head. The security office was near the front of the building. Neither Adryan nor I could figure out what the large room next to it was at the time though.

The realisation struck me like a tonne of bricks. The reception room!

I wanted to smack myself for being so stupid. Of course they would have a room like that near the front – it was right next to the primary entrance, in addition to the elevators and stairs. If anything went wrong, they could find it pretty quickly.

"Shit," I hissed to myself. I needed to think of a way to distract them all. I couldn't run in there waving my gun – that would freak them all out, cause a stampede and have everyone on my tail. Loki could scare them, maybe, but then they'd still be more aware and on the lookout.

"Damn it!" I strained my ears to hear more from the people. It was all nonsensical chit-chat; people talking about their lives, why they're coming for abortions, why they want jobs. It was all normal conversations from normal people – people I could have been one of, had my life been a bit different.

"I need a way to distract them," I muttered to myself. "Flashbangs? Would be nice but I don't have any. Erra knows how to blind people, but she's not here. Maybe I could project some psychic signal and get Alistair to teleport here?"

Xander seemed to roll his eyes at me. "Yeah, he's not strong enough in psychic powers for that. What the hell can we do?"

Loki cackled, growled and pointed in the vague direction of the voices. I shook my head at him. He couldn't run in there and distract them all. He was too important for this.

Xander croaked and bounced forwards a few steps before I could stop him. As soon as I realised, my heart leapt into my mouth and I jumped after him. I couldn't let him use himself as bait! While Loki might have been important to everything, I couldn't lose my moral compass for a stupid reason as being bait.

"You're not letting yourself get taken away so I can do this," I told him as I grabbed his head and held him back. "Don't be stupid."

He looked at me as if to call me stupid. My guard dropped and he shoved his way out of my grip and hopped a few paces down the hall.

"Xander!" I hissed after him.

He turned round and gave me a little smirk.

Then I finally realised what his plan was.

He took in a deep breath and blew out a little stream of cold, white mist. It shrouded around him perfectly, slowly increasing every time he breathed out. In no time flat the entire corridor was shrouded in imperceptible white mist. It hid us from everyone perfectly, encompassing us on all sides. Slowly it spilled out into the reception room, where the faint sounds of chatter became shouts and screams.

Fire alarms began blaring all throughout the building, startling me and making me leap nearly a foot into the air. Speakers I hadn't noticed above me flared into life with a buzz of static.

"Can all personnel evacuate in a calm and collected manner," it droned in a female voice. "This is not a drill. Suspect contaminant released in reception area."

I smiled at the distant sound of people evacuating the building as quickly as they could. Unable to help myself, I threw my arms around my pokémon and laughed as I probably choked the life out of him. "You're a genius, you know that?"

He smiled and loosened my grip enough for him to be able to breathe. He smacked me in the head with his tongue and nodded towards the end of the corridor, his smile fading into a serious visage.

"Right," I said and extracted myself from him. I coughed, adjusted my clothes and motioned for him and Loki to follow me. "Come on guys, off we go."

Loki growled by my side and clung to my leg, chattering at the mist. I realised he couldn't see well in the mist, unlike Xander and I. With a small sigh I patted him on the head, told him to keep a hold on me and set off towards the security room.

It took nothing more than a well-placed attack from Loki to break down the door. All the electronic security systems seemed useless when presented with a creature able to walk through walls. He cackled in delight once I presented him with a large computer console filled with monitors and blinking lights.

"Work your magic," I told him.

He threw back his head in a demonic laugh and leapt at the console, claws, teeth and feet all digging into the system. The little electric shocks he got from biting wires seemed to do nothing more than make him even more enthusiastic towards his goal.

Once he was finished it looked like the machine had suffered irreversible damage. I shrugged to myself, uncaring about how much they'd have to pay to replace it.

Before I left, I caught sight of a little chunk of black plastic knocked on the floor. The single walkie-talkie almost sparkled as I stared at it.

I snatched it up quickly and threw it in my bag. At least once the mist cleared, I would know what was going on.

"Reception area clear. It wasn't an outbreak, just a pokémon producing a shrouding fog."

I cursed and shoved the walkie-talkie into a pocket. They were figuring out things faster than I'd hoped. I'd only just managed to get to the top floor by the time they'd given the all clear for the front of the building. It'd probably take them only a few more minutes to find out the damage Loki had caused.

I felt a lot less safe without the little ghostly creature near me. He'd split from us in search of the computer labs. I figured that he'd be there pretty soon and delight in ripping apart every piece of electronic equipment he could find.

Xander sat by my side, glaring back at the stairs. He didn't seem to realise just how much effort it would be for him to hop up two flights of stairs.

"Come on," I whispered to him. "We gotta move quickly now. The labs are near us. Sooner we get done in there, the sooner we can be out of this place."

He gave a little nod and followed me diligently. Without Loki to peer through walls I was back to acting on paranoia, stopping at corners, waiting a few moments and leaping around, brandishing my gun and hoping to surprise whoever could be hiding on the other side.

Each time there was no one.

Each time Xander gave me a little incredulous look.

I rolled my eyes at him and continued regardless.

The silence of the labs was eerie. I could see in every direction down the halls, still see the paperwork people had left in their rush to get out and the various things that had been spilt everywhere.

It was like everyone had just been massacred, somehow leaving no trace of blood behind.

If I didn't know any better, I would have thought that was the case.

I shuddered to myself, plagued by little feelings of déjà vu. I bottled them up and glanced around, hoping for a little sign of where to go when the walkie-talkie in my pocket blared into life again.

"Someone's attacked the security station. Looks like a pokémon was used to do so. Keep everyone outside and make a check of their pokémon – see if one could have snuck in and done this during the evac. You four! Start a sweep of the building! Take your pokémon with you!"

I gulped and felt my pulse begin to race again. So they knew I was sneaking about in the building. They knew that I had pokémon on me. They'd sent in their own security, complete with weapons and pokémon of their own.

"Let's move," I told Xander. He followed me quickly, sticking by my side and not once getting in my way.

I found the entrance to the labs in less than a minute.

Getting in proved to be a bigger problem.

"Shit," I hissed as I stared at the electronic lock. No ghost to bypass it this time. I knew them to be water resistant – a few had survived to my time and even then, they proved difficult to bypass. Without a ghost, an electrical pokémon was needed or failing that, a hacker.

I saw Xander's throat swell and knew what he was going to do. "Water isn't going to work," I told him. We need to bypass this completely or just destroy it."

I glanced around for something good enough to break it with. My knife would just end up hitting the wires and probably electrocute me. I could risk it, but I didn't want to end up charred and electrified anytime soon. The door itself was reinforced scizor-grade metal. I wasn't getting past that without a lot of fire.

"Crap," I muttered to myself as I stared at the only option I had. My ears were going to hate me for a while, but it was the only option I had.

I dove into my bag and found nothing that would work well enough. Not even any chewing gum or cotton wool. I cursed the air blue and ripped up a pair of socks, rolled the little bits of fabric into balls and stuffed them in my ears.

"Cover your ears," I told Xander. My voice sounded distant and distorted, but not enough. I plugged my already burnt ear with my left hand, swore at the pain it caused and pressed my gun straight on the lock.

I glanced at Xander, saw he'd done the best to cover his ears and fired.

The noise felt like it shattered my eardrums. The recoil threw my hand backwards and would have made me miss at any other distance. Pain shattered through my wrist and the force of my arm flying backwards made my ribs shriek in agony too. My right ear screamed like an alarm clock was buried deep inside and no matter how much I hit it, the ringing didn't seem to stop.

I touched my wrist and felt pain sting all around it.

"I'm pretty sure I've broken it," I muttered to myself. It sounded like I was hearing everything with headphones on. My wrist hurt, but I knew I'd still be able to use my hand. As long as I didn't lift anything heavy, I figured I'd be okay.

At least I'd managed to break the lock and open the door to the labs.

There was a gust of wind as a load of pressurised air washed over me, sending paperwork behind me scattering in artificial wind. Xander growled and stared forwards, apparently not liking what was inside.

I pulled the little strips of fabric from my ears and glanced at him. "Nearly better," I told him. It sounded like only one of my ears was blocked, which was an improvement.

Of course, it wasn't my only problem.

"Shot fired! I repeat; shot fired! Sounds like it came from the top floor!"

I cursed and prayed that I'd misheard the walkie-talkie. Even still, I moved as quickly as I could. I ran into the large, previously contained lab and found myself staring at a load of white benches covered in papers, chemicals, liquids and who-knew what else.

I didn't know what was what. My only option was to destroy it all. The only bit of chemistry I needed to know was what was flammable and what wasn't.

I found everything I needed pretty quickly. I poured as much of the flammable liquids over everything. Once I was certain everything was covered, I found the little metallic flame-columns everyone seemed to use for science.

One of them lit and knocked over later and the whole lab was ablaze.

Then the sprinklers activated.

"Fuck!" I hissed and pulled my gun free. I fired at one, only for the recoil to murder my wrist and send my aim flying way off target. The water wasn't doing much to douse the flames but it wouldn't take long for them all to be put out.

Xander bounced up on one of the stools and filled his mouth with a deep breath of air. He blew out a little stream of frost that froze over one of the sprinklers, covering it with a thick shield of ice. I laughed at his genius and quickly set about causing another blaze while he froze the sprinklers over.

I coughed and covered my face with my top, silently hoping that nothing I'd set fire to would kill me. The fires would probably melt the ice-covered sprinklers pretty quickly, but I hoped that everything would have been burnt up by then. When the water came, it would soak all the computers in the room and ruin them too.


"Come on!" I shouted at Xander. He leapt off his stool and bounced after me, glancing backwards towards the fiery lab.

Of course, our problems weren't over.

"Great," I groaned and threw myself behind an overturned desk. One of the security guards had made his way to the top floor. In his hands were a torch and a gun, crisscrossed over each other. His face said he meant business and by his side was a hissing, buzzing scyther that seemed to be itching for a fight.

I glanced at Xander and swore to myself. Of course he would be at a disadvantage to the security guard's pokémon. He could only really freeze some of it if the scyther was already wet, but the problem was its speed.

Back of its knees, bottom of its wings and base of its skull. Those were the only weak points it had.

Killing its trainer was out of the question. That would just make it angry. An angry scyther was a deadly scyther.

Any scyther was a deadly scyther.

"Knock the guard's gun away," I hissed to Xander. "I'll distract the scyther."

He didn't question how I was going to distract the bug with bladed arms. He probably already knew what I was planning to do.

I scuttled backwards and found a glass of ethanol I hadn't used. It took less than thirty seconds to turn it into a Molotov.

I smirked at Xander and nodded silently at him. I took a breath and focused solely on the scyther. I had one chance to make it all count. I waited until its back was turned. Then I lit the bomb and threw it straight at the bugs head.

The damn bug was faster than I thought.

It spun around on the spot and sliced the projectile in two with a simple flick of its arm.

Unfortunately for it, the bomb detonated just as it sliced through the glass.

The Molotov exploded with enough force to send the pokémon flying back. It screeched as burning hot glass pierced and peppered its body. Fire consumed it, even as it screamed and tried to fan away the fire. Luckily for it the sprinklers above it activated, cooling it quickly and leaving it a charred – though alive – mess on the floor.

The security guard had leapt around at the sound of his scyther leaping into action. Xander knocked his weapon out of his hand with a pinpoint blast of water just before he too was thrown backwards by the force of the explosion. He fell backwards and hit his head hard enough on the floor to make me wince. I doubted he'd be getting up from that, if not for a while then not at all.

"That was accidental," I told Xander. He gave me a condescending look and hopped forwards, spraying the burnt scyther with ice-cold water. I couldn't even tell from the pokémon's moans whether it was helping or hurting it.

"We should move," I said quickly. My wrist was throbbing like mad and my ribs were hurting enough to cripple me. If it wasn't for the adrenaline rushing through me, I'd have probably been on the floor in agony. "People will have heard that, they'll be coming."

He didn't even make a sound as he followed behind me. I knew Loki would have heard all the noise we made. He wouldn't stray from getting to cause property damage though. He knew what he had to do; destroy the computers, then get to the roof. He could walk through walls; I wasn't worried about him.

Xander and I?

I was a little bit more worried about us.

The plans ran through my mind. End of the corridor I was racing through, take a right then another and I'd find myself at the stairs to the roof. Adryan would be up there.

I glanced at my watch.

Less than two minutes on Adryan's assumption.

I smirked and willed my legs to run a bit faster. I wanted to beat his little countdown, if only to rub it in a little. Pain was threatening to double me over and every step was a fight to stay upright.

I had to stop to catch my breath after the first right. It hurt too much to keep running. The escape was less than a minute away.

"I'll be right behind you," I told Xander and nodded for him to keep moving. He gave me a sharp, concerned look but took off regardless.

Once he was out of the way I slid down the wall and breathed a bit harder, fighting the pain through my body. I had to grit my teeth and force myself to stand back up, warring against my own body the whole way.

Finally I was victorious.

I was just about to race for the exit when I caught sight of the room opposite me.

It was a store room.

Filled to the brim with painkillers and other drugs.

My body was torn. I wanted nothing more than to raid it, to rid my body of the pain I was feeling. My elbow itched once more and my mouth went dry, all fighting for attention, begging me to fall back into old habits.

It was hard enough when I didn't have anything on me to take.

Seeing it in front of me was so much worse.

I managed to step away, only to step back again. It was like I was fighting an uphill battle.

I couldn't fall back down there again. It would make all my hard work be for nothing. I'd trusted Scar to look out for me too – the last time he'd just broken the needle and jammed it into my arm. I didn't want to think of what he'd do if I used again.

The thought was enough to turn the tide. I took a deep breath and moved to the exit.

Then someone pressed a gun in the back of my skull.

"Don't move asshole," he growled at me. My hands rose in surrender of their own accord, even as my mind raced for a way to get out of the situation.

"Drop your gun."

I tried my best to glare behind my back. "Drop yours first."

He managed a small laugh. "Let's get one thing straight; I'm not a cop. I don't have to take you in alive. If you try anything, I will kill you."

That hit me like a hammer.

"So what's stopping you?" I taunted. I figured my only option was to keep stalling and maybe Xander would come back searching for me. Or perhaps Loki would somehow come across us. If neither of those, then maybe I could get him to lower his guard long enough to take him down.

"Lawsuits mainly. Apparently people care if little druggies like you are killed when they're trying to get a fix."

His words hit a nerve. I tried to spin round to face him, only for him to smack me in the back of the head with his gun. I went down like a sack of bricks and caught the floor with my hands. "I'm not a druggie," I hissed at him.

"Right," he drawled. "So I just imagined you were drooling over those drugs just then." I heard him put his gun away. Before I could make a move he yanked me up by my arms, twisted them up my back and sent pain lancing through them and my ribs both. "All this effort to score a fix? Who you working with?" He shook me with each question, my ribs screaming protest all the while.

"Do one," I growled.

Then I smashed my head into his face.

He cursed and dropped me to the floor. I kicked him in the shin as I fell and clamoured for my dropped gun. He reacted faster than I thought. I didn't even have time to blink before he kicked me in the ribs hard enough to make one crack. I couldn't stop the shout of pain that came out.

It was agony to crawl to my gun after that. I managed to grab it and point it at him in the time it took him to train his own gun back on me.

"That was stupid, kid." Blood streamed out of his nose and covered his chin. His whole face was contorted into anger and his gun was pointed straight between my eyes.

My wrist shook as it struggled with the weight of the gun. Each breath I took sent white-hot needles of pain dancing up my body. He saw the way I tried not to hunch over and smirked.

"Do you even know how to use that thing? You're shaking that much you can't even aim straight."

I glowered at him. "At this distance I don't need to aim perfectly. You kneecaps, stomach or between your legs. I shoot and one of them's going to take a bullet. You might not die, but you'll be in agony regardless."

He sighed. "You're just a kid. You shouldn't be doing this. Give yourself up, alright? I don't wanna shoot you, but I will if I have to. And if you don't give yourself up now, your pokémon might be caught in the cross fire."

It felt like I'd been dropped in ice-cold water. My stomach exploded with fear and anger both. My body betrayed my brain's wish to glance back and see if Xander was okay. I told myself he was bluffing; he had no clue that I had any pokémon on me. His only indication was the destroyed security station downstairs.

I smirked and pulled myself to my feet slowly, gun trained on the man all the while. "I don't have any pokémon, any accomplices or anyone else. Just me."

He raised an eyebrow. "Really?" he asked, then waved a hand.

There were loud footsteps behind me. I craned my head enough to see a hulking figure with purple, veiny skin carrying what seemed to be a syringe in one hand. In its other, held against its chest and by the throat… was Xander.

I started without meaning to.

"Not got any pokémon with you, huh?" the security guard taunted me. My head snapped back towards him and anger began to cloud my vision. He seemed to catch on immediately.

"I wouldn't shoot if I were you. That liquid in my machoke's hand? It's concentrated water stone. You know what happens if a pokémon that evolves from radiation by a water stone completely exposed to one, right? Imagine what happens if it's injected."

I shook my head and felt my stomach leave me. "You're lying," I accused. "There's no such thing."

He gave a little shrug. "Believe what you want. But do you really want to risk it? Shoot me and your lombre gets liquid water stone injected into its vein. Shoot my pokémon and I'll blow your brains out. Drop your gun and everyone goes away unharmed."

I couldn't give myself up. I had to complete a goal. I couldn't tell the man that I was needed to save the world – he'd never believe it. Who knew what would happen if I got arrested – I was from the future, there wasn't anything that said I actually existed."

I was torn.

I glanced at Xander, hoping he'd have a plan. He stared back at me and I caught sight of the little genius-smirk he'd been wearing so much.

He had a plan.

I couldn't let him down.

I sighed. "Alright."

And I pulled the trigger.

Everything seemed to go in slow motion.

The bullet slammed through the security guard's neck, spraying blood everywhere.

I fell to the floor as he fired back.

My arm exploded in pain as his bullet skimmed the top of it, taking an inch of flesh with it. He dropped his gun and gripped his neck, trying to stop the blood.

I spun around to see Xander enact his plan.

Instead I saw the syringe plunge into his neck and the liquid get injected.

It was like time started moving again. I screamed and fired my gun at the machoke. The bullet shattered its kneecap and dropped it to the floor. Another bullet took its brain and its life.

"Xander?" I shouted at my pokémon. He fell to the floor with a horrible scream, his skin bubbling and mutating before my very eyes. Bones were sprouting out of his body in places they shouldn't have been. Blood began leaking out of his nose, his ears, his eyes… everywhere. I couldn't tell what was Xander anymore and what was just a lump of mutated flesh.

"No, no, no!" I wailed as I gripped my pokémon and tried to figure out what I could do.

His screams were horrible. He sounded like he was in so much pain. And I knew there was nothing to do to help him.

Then he stopped breathing.

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