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.


35. Help Hater

There are three types of friends: those like food, without which you can't live; those like medicine, which you need occasionally; and those like an illness, which you never want~ Anon


"Fate. Destiny. Free will. Pre-destination.

Humans have a habit for putting words to things we'll never understand. Yet if we named this process too, it would be one of the biggest ironies there were – after all, who actually understands why we name the things we don't understand?"

- Tabitha Pondr, author. Poet. Drunkard. (April 19th, 3004)


Irony and fate are wicked things.

I used to think that if I had been given a purpose, everything would work out perfectly and it would be the easiest thing in the world to do.

Capturing Alistair seemed to throw that idea to the wind.

His poké ball felt like poison in my hand. Just touching the thing made me feel sick; to know that something related to those demons was locked within.

I knew that really I shouldn't have treated him with such disdain. It wasn't his fault and in all honesty; I was letting my hated of gardevoir cloud my judgement.

Lacey and Xander both made the point that I shouldn't get rid of him. But I couldn't listen to either of them. I didn't want to have that creature hovering over me when I slept, ate or answered nature's call.

He was, however, my responsibility while he was on my person. I would let him out to exercise and eat just like everyone else in my team, though the main difference was that I never had him out alone. It may have just been paranoia, but I didn't trust the gallade as far as I could throw him.

In addition to every other problem I thought up about him, I also didn't like the fact he could communicate perfectly with me. At any other time, with any other pokémon, I would have been happy. But I suffered it with him and it meant I couldn't feign ignorance so that I could ignore him.

The day after I'd caught him, he remained silent, standing off at the sides while everyone else ran through their drills. They all respected his power; I could tell that much, but each and every one of my pokémon seemed to prefer the skarmory instead. Unlike most wild pokémon, she didn't seem to want blood from everything she saw, instead she appeared content enough to try and sate her curiosity towards everything.

She was friendly and inquisitive; a welcome change from the general insanity that composed my team.

As the team trained I sat down underneath the shade of a tree, atop my jacket, which was spread over the ash-covered ground. I could hear my team running through their exercises, even the skarmory – though it may have been mostly through trying to join in with everyone else. I watched them for a little while before I pulled out my notebook and began scrawling plans inside.

My head snapped up from the various maps and strategies I was planning out when I heard Alistair approach me. He nodded an acknowledgement as I tensed instinctively, expecting him to attack me out of the blue at any moment.

He stopped a few paces away from me, tried to lean over to read what was in my lap and then stood completely still as he watched me.

[Might I ask what you are planning, sir?] he hummed into my skull.

I pulled a face and wiggled my little finger in my ear. "Strategies," I answered bluntly. I looked up at the creature and sighed, knowing it would be expecting more than that. "I'm planning out a few different things that everyone could do. I've bumped into an Elite and a Champion that were abusing their power so far; I might not know the reasons for why they were doing that, but I need to work on a few ways to take down stronger opponents. Although I really don't agree with what Lacey did to the rapidash, she showed me that she's capable of taking down a stronger opponent – granted with a lot of trickery and luck."

He squatted opposite me as I pushed my chicken-scratch writing towards him and pointed to a few highlighted words. "I can get Xander to cloak everywhere with thick icy fog if I need to, though that's a lot of luck too. As is getting Loki to hide within shadows and darkness. Scar and Erra I'm not too sure on at the moment, but it's looking a lot like I'm going to have to rely a lot on luck."

I shook my head and looked up at the pokémon. As much as I didn't like him, he was still a psychic and a fighter to boot, which meant that he had to have some idea about tactics.

"What do you think about this?" I asked him as I pointed to more of my illegible scribbles.

I felt a laugh echo in my brain as he folded his arms. [What makes you think that I am able to read your language sir?]

My arms dropped back down to the floor. "Um... well..." I rubbed the back of my neck and frowned up at him. "You're a psychic, aren't you? Shouldn't you be able to?"

[And what makes you think all psychics are masters of everything?] he enquired, humour in his tone. [You may find it hard to believe sir, but not all psychics are capable of liquidising brains or creating supernovas. There are some, like myself, who are only capable of telepathy – some cannot even manage that.]

I squinted up at him as I scratched the top of my head. "But every other psychic I've met was powerful," I protested.

[You had the good or ill fortune to run into them then,] he answered me, becoming slightly defensive. His mouth opened wide in a yawn that made my flinch, though he gave me a mental apology as he moved to cover his mouth with a hand. [But as I was saying; not every psychic is capable of large feats. Do you actually realise how much we must train, how specific our diets must be and how much we must concentrate to do anything with psychic powers?]

My notebook fell through my lap and onto the floor as I leant my elbows on my legs. "I don't," I admitted. "I thought... I thought you all were big and powerful. That's what all the pokédex and book references say."

[Then whoever writes such information is a fool.] Alistair shook his head and sat down on the floor opposite me, crossing his legs over each other in some sort of meditative position. [It takes ample concentration for me to talk to you like this sir. Once I became what you know as a kirlia, my old master forced me to evolve with a radioactive stone. In addition to my species' lack of prowess with psychic abilities, I am rather sub-par with many psychic feats. I may be able to levitate a pebble for you, perhaps even a stone, but my true abilities lie within physical attacks.]

I watched him as he went silent, distrust and distaste both bubbling through my stomach. In addition to everything else, slight twinges of anger and annoyance bounced through me from the realisation that the first psychic I happened to capture was incapable of many of the feats I needed him for.

I told myself it didn't matter. I turned away from him and watched my other pokémon training; confident in the fact I could pawn him off easily. After all, I had captured him last – it was only fair that I didn't kick out one of my own team.

A small niggle in my mind told me I should have let Erra rest with Professor Birch or Chris. But I didn't want to pawn her off on someone who would end up undoing my very slight progress with getting her over her phobia of battling. In addition to that, I hadn't been able to get through to Birch's phone at all – the stupid woman on the other end kept telling me that the number I was dialling no longer existed.

I groaned to myself as I picked up my notebook and thought about something else to scribble in it. I glanced up at Alistair and knew he could feel me watching, my thoughts confirmed when I felt a small pinprick of pain.

[I know you do not like my species,his voice whispered into my brain. [And although you sir, are a bigot, I know that eventually it will not influence your decisions. I may not be able to predict the future sir, but I do believe we were fated to meet. Even if you do manage to send me away for some time, fate may just find ways to constantly bring me back to your aid.]

I couldn't help but shudder at that. The way his voice sounded so pleasant and confident of the fact made me paranoid that he had to be planning something.

If fate was truly trying to get me to help the celebi by giving me a gallade, it obviously didn't think things out too well.


It took me a day longer to reach Fallarbor. As soon as I crossed into the stone-covered streets of the town I made a beeline for the pokémon centre. The sooner I could get rid of Alistair; the better, I told myself.


The town was surprisingly modern and clean for a somewhere that suffered a continuous rainfall of ash. It was filled with rows and rows of residential houses and apartment blocks; street after street lined with the same beige bricks walls and roofs. A few miles north of town was a large observatory built to look over sections of the mountains, separated from everything else by large metallic fences. If it were abandoned, it would have fit in perfectly in a horror movie.

The pokémon centre was in a large section of the town, like a large square, of sorts. There was a contest hall like one I'd seen before in Slateport and even trainer provision shops. All the signs for the gym pointed towards a large building on the furthest western reaches of the town – even from a distance I could still make out the large neon sign that announced the building's definition.

Once I got into the pokémon centre I handed over the members of my team that needed healing before I found the public phone booths. They were in two rows of six, almost like the internet cafe I'd visited before – except there were single large screens in place of a computer.

I found one in the corner and stared at the instructions for the thing, hoping the experience would be far less embarrassing than using the internet. It seemed simple enough – put in money, dial a number and wait for them to pick up. Once it tried describing how to transfer a poké ball by the machine though, it became far too technical for me. I had to hope Chris would be able to do it all for me.

I flipped open my phone and typed in Chris' number onto the screen after I put a few coins into the machine. It rang only a few times before Chris' face appeared on screen, the woman looking a lot more worn out than when I last saw her.

She squinted at the screen before recognition bloomed across her face. "Hey!" she greeted me warmly. "How comes you're ringing me on a vid-phone?" she asked, her face twisting in confusion. "Is your own phone dead or something? These cost a lot more than ringing me from your own phone, you realise?"

I smiled back at her. "Well if they're so expensive, just why do you have one?"

She sighed and pressed her lips into a fine line. "Political registrations and all that. Apparently every business needs to have one – it's a way of companies being able to have a sly nose around your place from just a phone call." She shook her head and swiped some food stains from her apron. "Plus, it's a home and business number; every home and business phone there is has video-call properties built in." I could tell she was about to say I should know that myself when she coughed and plastered a smile on her face. "So did you really just ring for a chat? I'm willing to oblige if you are – it's costing you money, not me."

"'Willing to oblige'?" I parroted. "You sure know how to make a guy feel special." I shook my head as we shared a smirk. "Well... I needed a favour. Sort of. I've got a seventh pokémon that I was hoping you could look after for a bit."

She folded her arms and lifted an eyebrow. "So am I supposed to do this out of the kindness of my heart? Yes, I like you well enough and maybe even consider you something like a friend – don't be too certain on that, I don't know you well enough yet," she added quickly. "But at the end of the day; I'm running a business. It's damned hard work being self-employed and the costs of looking after all these pokémon isn't cheap, you know?"

I smiled at her as I fished Alistair's poké ball out of my bag. "But I think you could benefit from this too," I told her as I placed the ball on the counter. "I caught a gallade... but I really don't want it near me at the moment."

Her arms dropped and she leant towards her screen. "Why?" she asked. "Did it do something bad? I'm not taking in no psycho pokémon!" she proclaimed, adamantly shaking her head.

"Nothing like that," I told her as I cupped the poké ball. "I just... there's a few things I need to sort out before I can look after him." I dropped my hand from the counter. "But I figured that you could benefit too. You were saying that you only had two ralts babies, right?" I asked, hopeful that would sway her to accept the offer. "Well since he's my seventh, I figured that you would probably want to look after him and use him for breeding."

She folded her arms as she leant back in her chair and smiled. "I appreciate the sentiment, but gallade happen to take life-partners. And at the moment, I've only got two females who are capable producing offspring with him – one of whom already has a breeding partner and the other keeps attacking males instead of breeding with them." She sighed and ran a hand through her hair, flicking her fingers free from the knots. "On top of that, I'm trying to purchase one or two Unovian pokémon. I'm just not sure I have the money right now."

I deflated instantly. "Oh, right. Well, thanks anyway," I said as I sagged in the chair. "Sorry I bothered you then."

"Wait," she sighed as I went to switch off the call. She bit her lip as her mental debate became palpable, even over a video screen. "I'll look after him for two days. If he seems to be bonding with my mismagius, I'll let him stay on for longer until they breed. The usual deal I offer trainers is seventy-thirty."

My eyebrows shot up into my hairline. "I get seventy percent?" I asked, completely bewildered. "No wonder why you're losing money."

She snorted and waved her real hand at me. "I get seventy percent. I look after the pokémon while they're here, feed them, clean up after them; even get people in to train them. While the pokémon's pregnant, I've still got to do all that – except they tend to eat more – even the males, weirdly enough." She lifted an eyebrow at that and shook her head as her face fell again. "Then until the egg's hatched and the pokémon's old enough to fend for itself – that takes usually about two months – I'm still looking after them. Depending on the pokémon, the cost of looking after them is usually half of what I earn. If I can get your gallade to take my mismagius as a partner, I should be able to earn back at least triple with a ralts child; just over double if it's a misdreavous."

I nodded along with her explanations. "So you'll take him for two days then?"

She smiled and glanced backwards as something behind her crashed. She swore as the sound made her jump and her metallic arm shoot up into the air, punching invisible enemies of its own accord.

"Sorry," she said quickly as she turned back.

"Why does that act up so much?" I asked without thinking. I winced as I heard my words, fully expecting a verbal lashing.

Instead Chris just sighed and wrapped her fingers around the metal of her artificial arm. "It's not the best model there is. I could get a better one if I wanted, but that would mean spending money that I've set aside for my business. I have to work a lot harder than most people for everything, just because I'm missing an arm. I don't want to fail at this; it's my dream and I'm slowly making it happen. In order to get what you really want, you're going to have to make sacrifices along the way."

She stared at her metallic arm for a long moment, apparently lost in thought, her fingers drumming across it. Finally she seemed to snap back to reality as her gaze swept back to the screen. "But anyway, as I was saying; yes I'll take your pokémon for two days. If nothing happens, I'll give him back to you. It's hard to get indeterminate breeders, so I can't really pass up this chance."

I stared at the video of her with a blank expression. "What's so 'indeterminate' about them?"

She sighed and buried her real hand in her hair again. "Indeterminate means that they have no shape. The entire ralts family – kirlia, gardevoir and gallade included all appear to us as slightly human, but that's simply an illusion. Their true forms are something else entirely, but they never reveal it to anyone but a mate. Each pokémon is only capable of producing offspring with other, similar pokémon. I'll explain it all to you another time if you want – when it's not costing you all your pennies."

I thanked her and cursed the machine as it demanded more of my money to keep the conversation going. "So how do I manage to transfer the poké ball over then?" I asked after feeding the machine a few more coins.

Chris managed a smile and guided me through the actions. It was simple enough really. I just had to place the ball on a small dish that held it perfectly. There was a large column above it connected to the screen that managed to somehow warp the poké ball out of existence from in front of me. It appeared on screen with Chris seconds afterwards and my jaw dropped open instantly, making Chris laugh.

"I'll look after him for two days. I'll text you and let you know what's happening then," she offered as she glanced at Alistair's poké ball. "So has he got a name?"

I forgot who she was talking about before she held the ball up against the screen. "Alistair," I told her with a small laugh. "I've explained everything to him, so he'll know who you are. I'm going to be heading past Mauville again soon enough," I told her as I wrung my fingers together. "Is it alright if I pop by and see you?"

She smiled again at me and managed a laugh. "Enough with the nervous teenager act! Girls your own age might find the shyness somewhat cute, but it's not going to work on me!" She waved her artificial hand at me, leant back in her chair and shrugged. "You're more than welcome to. Just give me a few days notice, alright? Now get ahead and carry on training your pokémon! You're wasting time you could be training them as well as money!"

I thanked her once more before I hung up the phone and leant back in the chair. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a number of posters decorating the wall, all various different colours and sizes, advertising simple things like drug addiction help groups, babysitting jobs and even piano lessons.

One in particular caught my eye though.

It was a bright, almost luminous green sheet of card, cut into the strange onion shape of that stupid time-pixie's head.

I leapt from my seat and snatched the paper from the board, almost unable to believe what I was reading.

"Time-travellers help group. Friday, June 13th, 3010"

My eyes were wide as I stared at the paper. There were only two days to wait until the supposed time-travellers help group. It couldn't be genuine – there just couldn't be a whole group devoted to people that had suffered like me!

But then my mind started to click into gear. Adryan had pretty much explained to me that there had been other people before me that had travelled through time – it could have been possible for it to be legitimate.

But I remembered Jennifer and Erica. Jennifer had been in contact with the celebi and Erica had told me that there were various other people the creature had contacted, each and every one of them clandestine and traceable only through Erica. They wouldn't just suddenly start to announce their presence on a town's bulletin board, of all things.

I snorted and tossed the advertisement to the floor. It couldn't be real.

Instead I decided to focus more on training my pokémon, like Chris had suggested. I had the skarmory, Loki and Erra on me – perhaps the three that I needed to train the most. Even if I had Scar on me, I didn't trust letting him out anywhere inside the town – he still had the unruly habit of trying to slice open every human he encountered; something that I probably wasn't helping with.

I left the centre pretty quickly and followed some of the signs out of town. Along the way I decided to let out the skarmory and try to get her used to life in towns. The streets only had a few people coming and going, though the metallic bird seemed happy enough to try and follow everyone and anyone about their business.

"Come here!" I hissed at her. I stopped myself from dragging her along by her feathers – I'd only end up cutting myself on them instead. The bird's head twitched in my direction, curious yellow eyes focused straight on me. "You need a name though as well, don't you?" I asked myself more than her. "Something metal related?"

She hissed and nipped me on the shoulder.

"Alright!" I exclaimed with a wince. "Nothing obvious like that."

She bounced away from me, head twitching in the direction of every person. A brunette woman, her hair pulled back in a tight bun and wearing a sharp black business suit walked past, catching the skarmory's attention.

Almost instantly the bird started following the woman. It was like something out of a comedy sketch show – the woman turned round only to find a metallic bird bouncing after her. The woman stopped and stared at the skarmory, only for the bird to spread her wings, display blood-red feathers and screech at the woman.

The poor lady turned away and started walking faster, only for the skarmory to start bouncing after her faster. Every time the woman stopped, the skarmory would spread her wings again and screech once more.

"Stop that!" I growled at the skarmory. She screeched at me as I flung my arms round her neck and held her back. "S-sorry," I apologised to the woman as I continued to wrestle the large steel bird.

"Don't chase after people like that!" I chastised her as the woman disappeared. The skarmory looked at me again, her head cocking from side to side at my words. "You can't follow after people like that; they don't appreciate it!"

Again the bird just cocked her head at me. I pressed my hand over my face and sighed, only for the skarmory to nip my shoulder again.

"You're quite the attention seeker, aren't you?" I laughed as I stroked her face. Oddly she didn't attack me, nor make any movement to stop me; instead she just embraced the attention. "You know, you remind me of a girl back in my camp," I told the skarmory. She looked at me, amber eyes focused entirely on me as I spoke.

"There was this little girl in my camp – she was about six or seven," I told her as I found a bench to sit down on. I squatted on top of the bench's back rest, placing my feet on the bench itself. The skarmory bounced around the side of the bench and cawed, demanding my attention.

"She was an attention seeker too," I laughed and patted the pokémon's neck. "She was always curious about everything. Nothing seemed to scare her; she'd walk onto a field when we were training – even if we were going through firing practice. The amount of times we'd have to quickly stop because we feared we'd end up killing her. At least it taught us how to keep our attention everywhere when we were trying to shoot a target, I guess."

I shook my head to myself and fished in my pack for some pokémon food. I grabbed a handful and held it out for the skarmory, refusing to let her have anymore when she nipped me. Eventually she started to learn not to nip my hand and started eating a lot more gently.

"Better," I said as I petted her with my other hand. "But anyway, she was always trying to find out as much as she could; she always had to know everything she could, even if she didn't understand what she was being told." I sighed and shook my head. "She died about a year ago – for me at least. I don't even want to try and figure out the actual time it would be. I'll tell you about that all later," I told the skarmory as I patted her on the cheek. She cawed once more and I smiled at her.

"Her curiosity got the better of her. She loved pokémon, which was pretty strange for any one of us – we were brought up to fear you guys." I gave the skarmory a bit more food and shook my head. "She ended up getting eaten by a swalot... I can't say it would have been a quick death. Poor girl." I shook my head again and forced a smile at the bird. "Her name was Sophia. You really do remind me a lot of her."

The skarmory cawed and stuck her head in my bag. I groaned and coaxed her head out, only to be nipped on the shoulder again by her.

I winced and rubbed the shoulder. "And this is what I get for sharing my history with you. But I still think it suits you, Sophie."

She looked down at me, cawed once and then stuffed her head into my bag again. I groaned and wrestled her out once more, a little surprised that she seemed to have accepted the name so willingly.

Or to be exact; she hadn't even understood it in the first place.

I spent the next hour leading her out of town, occasionally saying her name to see whether or not she was listening. Sometimes she would, other times she'd see something that caught her eye and ended up chasing after it.

Despite their size, I discovered that skarmory were actually pretty fast runners.

The postman that she chased down two streets seemed to learn that too.

When I finally got out of town I spent the next few hours trying to train my pokémon. We saw a few lotad and lombre while we were training, though it felt incredibly weird to try and get any of my pokémon to attack them. Thankfully there were other pokémon and a few trainers to battle against instead.

I noticed that Sophie seemed to spend a lot of time watching Erra though. Every time the magnemite took flight, Sophie's vulture-eyes followed her wherever she went. I walked up next to the skarmory and stood next to her in silence a little bit, my own gaze more on Loki as he tried to leap up and catch Erra from the sky.

Finally I turned round to Sophie and asked, "Why don't you fly after her?"

Her head cocked in my direction, feathers ruffling as Erra flew past her once more.

"Take off after her," I told her as I pointed to her and then to Erra. Sophie still seemed confused and so I ended up having to mime flying to the skarmory. Loki looked up at me and burst into fits of laughter before he mimicked me, screeching and growling all the while. Sophie stared at us before she spread her wings and screeched, though didn't flap them like Loki and I were with our arms.

I let my arms drop back to my side as I watched Sophie in silence again. She turned away from me and watched Erra for another minute before everything seemed to click in my mind.

"You... can't fly, can you?" I asked her. The skarmory turned back towards me and spread her wings with another caw. I ran my eyes over them, hopeful I could find some sort of damage, yet I found nothing. There wasn't any physical abnormality that stopped her from flying, which meant that she obviously had never learnt.

The thought of that made me frown. It had to be instinctual for a flying pokémon to learn how to fly, I assumed. Though if her parents had died before she had been taught how to fly, or even if they were unable to fly themselves, it could have explained it all.

I patted the skarmory on the back of the neck and ran my fingers across her feathers. "How about once we're done in Fallarbor, after the gym and everything; I help teach you how to fly?"

She didn't seem to understand my words, yet after a lot of miming and some translation from Loki, Sophie seemed to agree to the idea. A giddy smile crept over my face at the thought of me being able to ride atop a skarmory, watching as towns became nothing but dots in the far distance beneath us.

I knew that soon enough Scar would end up evolving into a charizard too. Sophie could then pass on what she learnt and my mental image changed to one of me sat on a charizard-Scar's back, with Sophie and Erra flying along beside us.

At least some parts of that dream are still possible.


I spent the next two days training my pokémon and attempting to get Sophie to understand her name. I managed to get her to respond half the time to her name, though I think half of that were just her curious glances upon hearing the sound of my voice.


I also spent a fair bit of my time texting Mia. I remembered everything that Adryan had said to me about her, as well as everything he had taken the piss about, yet I still didn't understand it all.

However, I did know that eventually I may have ended up telling her everything about my past too. I didn't want only Adryan knowing everything, especially since I began to distrust his motives. While I knew he wasn't going to fall off the rails and start indiscriminately murdering people, I was still a little worried what he would do if he found out about Lacey.

Though I'd learnt from my mistakes with Adryan; I knew that if I were to trust Mia with everything, I would have to know her first, rather than just going on faith.

It was all a big mess in my mind, forever buzzing around and distracting me from any other thought. When I wasn't out training my pokémon, I was in the pokémon centre and using their internet access, trying to find out anything that might have stood a chance with helping me.

I did find out why Birch wasn't answering his phone though. Apparently he had been caught having an affair with his receptionist – he had to change all his personal contact details to stop the media attacking him anymore.

I thought back and remembered his receptionist, vividly. Somehow, I wasn't too surprised.

The main thing that caught my attention was that the 'time-traveller's help group' advertisement was back up again. The last time I'd seen it, I'd scrunched it up and left it on the floor. The one up on the billboard was barren of any creases, which meant that a new one had to have been placed up.

I took the new one down and held it in my hands for a while, debating over whether or not I should go.

I realised that if someone had managed to put a new one up, there had to be a chance that they were serious about it all. If the group was actually real, I knew I couldn't pass up the opportunity.

I ended up following the directions on the advertisement to a small little building opposite a large park covered in a sprinkling of ash. Inside the building was a large room filled with plastic chairs all placed out in a circle and a long white table covered with plates of biscuits, big pots of coffee and tea; even a small plate of cakes.

It reminded me a lot of what an addict's self-help group was meant to look like. I was about to just turn tail and leave when a man smiled and waved at me.

He wore a simple white shirt with rolled up sleeves, dark blue jeans and a pair of white shoes, while his hair was brown and gelled up into small spikes.

He didn't look anything like the crazy lunatic I pictured hosting such a group. He walked up to me, nodded and stuffed his hands into his pockets.

"First timer, huh?" he said conversationally. He looked like he was in his thirties and a plain voice – someone that blended in well with a crowd. I thought about my own appearance and wondered idly if that was a trait the celebi looked for when it abducted its victims – after all, people were far less likely to miss someone who never stood out.

"Um... you could say that," I answered him as I glanced around the room, looking for anyone else. "So, this meeting thing," I said somewhat hesitantly.

The man laughed. "We get a fair share of crazies here, I can't deny that. But some people... well; you can't help but believe they actually experienced something." He shook his head and glanced back at the doorway. "We don't do names or physical contact here either... some people seem to think that if their names get known, some sort of psychic will find them and hunt them down. Some think that if they touch someone, they might get warped through time again. But we exist as a place for people to talk about everything they've seen; to serve as a comfort for some, a link to sanity for others.

"Stay and listen, you might find someone with a story similar to yours," he told me. "They'll all be a little unbelievable though." He winked and drew his hands out of his pockets. "I was born in eighty-six, believe it or not."

I did the math quickly in my head. "So you're twenty-four." I folded my arms and gave him a barely amused smiled. "That's not that hard to believe."

A grin appeared on his face. "Twenty-one, eighty-six. We'd only just started capturing and training pokémon then."

My mouth dropped open completely as the man walked away from me. I wanted to ask him questions about it all. I wanted to know how he'd been taken from his time. Why he'd been taken. Surely there had to be a reason for it all. He couldn't have just been randomly picked up from one time and then dropped in another.

But people started filling in and he began greeting them all too, effectively stopping me from asking him any questions. I growled as I ground my teeth and instead decided to sit down on one of the chair and wait for everything to start.

In all there were five people who turned up to the entire meeting. Me, the man who greeted me, a thin woman with black curly hair and chocolate skin, another woman who seemed to be trying to hide her face with her trilby hat, then finally a strange man with jet black hair, a good few days of stubble and a full-bodied twitch.

I sat there and listened with a large degree of doubt as the man who greeted us – the one I assumed to be the organiser of this group – started speaking to everyone. He told us all that he had been born in twenty-one, eighty-six and that he'd come into contact with a celebi when he was sixteen. Apparently it warped him to the future and left him in the middle of the Ilex Forest in Johto. Supposedly a man found him and helped him adjust to the world. Though there was nothing about the man ever being in contact with the celebi, or even the stupid time-pixie appearing and telling the organiser everything he needed to know. Yet he told us that he was convinced he had a purpose in the new time; he just hadn't found it yet.

I bit back a sigh as I thought about it all. It meant that he didn't know anything that could help me either. I wanted to give up then and there; just walk out and leave them all behind, but the trilby-woman's words caught my attention.

"I came from eighty years from now," she rasped in a put-on voice. I felt my eyes widen and I leant forwards eagerly, my heart pounding away in my chest. Where she said she'd come from was the exact same as me! We could have known each other! We could have been taken for the same purpose! She could have been the help I had wanted for ages!

My heart was racing in my chest, my breath hanging on her next words.

She looked up at us all, though I frowned a little when I didn't recognise her. I knew it didn't mean much though – it wasn't like I knew everyone in my world after all.

She took a breath and I felt my nerves dance in my body. "Eighty years from now, I found a celebi. It took me back year in order to stop my future from happening."

It was identical to mine! She had to know about our future! She had to have experienced everything that I had; the fear, the hatred, the paranoia... everything!

"I don't want to go back there," she hissed as she pulled her hat back over her eyes. "The Birds of Myth have all destroyed Kanto. The Beasts of Myth have all ravaged Johto. Sinnoh's fallen apart and Hoenn's destroyed."

My heart sank. She was lying. Lying! Hoenn was still standing in that time – I was damn well from it! I glared at her and caught the signs of a smirk tugging at the corners of her mouth. My one chance for finding someone else from my time had been crushed! I felt betrayed and humiliated.

More than that, disappointed that people could manage to lie about something like that.

I got up and made some flimsy excuse before I stormed out of the place. It couldn't have been just a coincidence that she would pick eighty years out of every damn number she could have chosen! She could have picked seventy-nine or eighty-one and it wouldn't have been such a punch in the gut to me!

My teeth scraped over each other as my hands balled into fists in my pockets. I knew that really I should have expected it to be true. I should have known that there was every chance she was lying. But I let myself believe her, only to be let down.

I sighed and rubbed my eyelids. It was just showing me more and more that I couldn't trust other people.

There was a shuffling sound behind me. I leapt at the sound of the noise and spun round, hand flying to my knife, only to find myself facing the strange twitchy-man from inside the hall.

He smiled at me and I kept my hand hovering above my weapon, just in case. He tapped the side of his head, laughed slightly and then twitched once more, his head almost hitting his left shoulder.

"I know you," he said as he tapped his fingertips together. "Or more accurately; know of you. Heard many stories. Yes I have! Many things! Know it all! Yes! Yes I do!"

He twitched again and I gave him a small smile as I started to back again. "That's great pal," I told him, uncertainly. "But I'm afraid you've got the wrong person."

"Do I?" he asked with another twitch. "Maybe I do. But I know I don't. No, you are who I need to speak with. I know this! It makes me wonder; do I say this because I think, or because I know?" He twitched again and pulled his shoulders up to the bottom of his head. "Maybe. Possibly. Not important! My name. Nathan. Maybe important. Maybe not. But I know things!" He tapped the side of his head and twitched again. "I know! Many things! Trust! Calm! Acceptance! Learn!"

"That's... good," I told him as I tried to escape him once more. I made it two steps before I tried to grab my poké balls with my free hand.

"Beware!" he shouted all of a sudden as he threw his hands up. I stopped moving and watched the man instead. He twitched again and pulled his shoulders up again as he glanced fearfully around everywhere. "Beware the forests! When you complete! Avoid the trees! They its home! Hide! Avoid! Bigger problems will come! Week! Maybe two! Then they quit! You safe!"

He screamed and made me jump too. He threw his hands above his head and looked around the area suspiciously, like everything around us was hiding something that may kill him.

"They come!" he screamed and curled into a ball. "Darkness! Pokémon! They help! Hide! Beware the tree song! It kills!"

I backed away completely from him as he screamed and ran off into the distance. His words bounced around in my brain and I stared across the road and into the park. The trees were all rustling, leaves blowing in the wind...

... except there wasn't even the slightest breeze.

I shuddered and rubbed my suddenly cold arms. It all seemed so strange and unreal. I couldn't tell whether or not the strange man was telling the truth, but I knew I didn't want to stay around any longer.

I turned away from the place and made my way back towards the pokémon centre as quickly as I could. Along the way I let out Loki and placed him on my shoulder, which made him throw his arms back and laugh gleefully.

"You're insane, you know that?" I told him with a laugh. He reached up and made a show of catching as much falling ash as he could in his hands, happily growling all the while. Finally he threw his head back and opened his mouth wide, stuck his tongue out and began to catch falling ash on that instead.

I turned my head a little so I was looking straight at him. "That can't taste nice." I held out a hand and watched as ash flakes dropped delicately on it, only to turn into large black smears when I brushed them off. "I could understand if you were a fiery pokémon like Scar, but you're a little insane ghost of darkness. You should like shadows, not the burnt remains of who knows what."

He cocked his head to the side and grunted at me once. He managed a raspy laugh before he turned his head around, pressed his ears flat against his skull and hissed.

"What?" I asked as I spun around to find the trilby-woman stood before me. "Oh," I grunted, unimpressed. "You. What're you doing here? Did you follow me?"

Her hat hid her face completely from me. "Yes."

I felt one of my eyebrows rise at that. One minute she was a liar, the next she was honest? It didn't make sense.

She lifted her gaze up to me and I saw that she wasn't actually as old as I had previously thought – in fact she seemed younger than me. Her hair was a dark brown; she had dark green eyes and a small purple piercing on her bottom lip. She wore a black hooded jacket and skinny denim jeans that both seemed to be remarkably clean. She also had on a pair of fashionable purple skinny shoes that were remarkably intact.

She didn't look like a trainer, I could tell that much.

"You stormed out of that hall pretty fast," she stated. I couldn't place her accent, yet her voice was quite harsh; like she had experienced something that made her mature fast, rather like me.

She placed a hand on a hip and lifted an eyebrow. "Something I said screw with your brain? You're the only one that seemed to be really listening to me back there."

I folded my arms and met her with a harsh glower. "I would have stuck around, but I tend to get bored when people are lying for attention."

She laughed a little at that. "I'm a liar huh? And how would you know if I'm lying or not?"

That caught me out a little. It was true; I could only know if she was lying if I knew what the truth was. I figured that if she was lying, it wouldn't matter if she knew my true story or not. Even if I did tell her, I could just later change tune and tell her I was lying instead – it wasn't like either of us had proof either way.

"Because I'm from eighty years in the future," I snarled at her. "Hoenn's still standing. Kanto and Johto have declared war on each other. They've nearly blown each other off the earth, but they're still there. No legendary beasts. Just a few armies and governments that have got a bit too power hungry."

She folded her arms and stared up at me. "Liar," she accused. "Pretty story, but not good enough to pass for truth."

"And yours is?" I shot back. "Legendary pokémon destroying the lands? Surely you've got more of an imagination than that?"

"Says the guy who's a pokémon trainer?" she hissed. "If you were really from the future, you'd know how bad they are! The Birds of Myth corrupted them all! You're just a little pokémon trainer who thinks he can trick a few people into thinking what he wants!"

"And you're just an attention seeking little girl who wants all eyes on her because her parents never paid any attention to her!" I growled. Loki hissed almost as if to add threat to my statement.

She flinched but covered it up quickly with another glare. "You know what; think what you like. I don't care if you think I'm a liar. I am a liar. But you know what I'm not? An idiot. You're stood there lecturing me about everything, which makes me jump to only one logical conclusion; you must know something if you're so adamant I'm lying."

I waved my hands sarcastically, although inside fear and alarm was bubbling through my veins. "Oh no! My plans for confusing the masses with stories about the future foiled by some little sixteen year old girl!" I snorted and folded my arms again. "Get real, girly. I'm a liar too. I'm just so good at it that no one really knows what truth is anymore."

That much was true, even if I didn't like to admit it. I'd spouted so many lies since I'd gotten to the new (granted, old for me) Hoenn that I'd probably started believing a few of them myself.

"But you know what?" I added with a sneer as I patted Loki on the head. "At least I don't lie to get all the attention in the room. I do so because otherwise people can get hurt."

She rolled her eyes at me and pulled her hat back over her face a little. "Aren't you the big, precious, selfless hero? Should I bow down before you? Spread my legs and welcome you in because of your heroic deeds?" She laughed a scornful, spiteful note before she glowered at me again. "So if you're so heroic and from the future, why aren't you questing to save it?"

"I'm no one's pawn," I snarled at her. "I could say the same for you; you claimed to hate where you were from, yet I don't see you doing anything to help."

She shrugged, anger fading from her face a little. "I got out. That's all I wanted. Why should I care about any other fucker left back there? They're not even born yet. I can enjoy the life I've got here and I don't ever need to worry about anyone back there. You on the other hand," she said as she raked her eyes up and down me, scorn pouring out of them. "You look and act like a soldier, which makes me think you might have been one once. You can't let go of the past and that's why you're jealous of me; what I said earlier may have been only lies, everything I'm saying now could be just lies, but I know who I am and I'm enjoying my life here. You're just jealous and want that for yourself!"

I flinched at her words, surprised by how true they were. I really did want nothing more than to have the celebi's burden draped over my shoulders. Every time I tried to convince myself I didn't care, something else just managed to drag me straight back to trying to help. It might have been Adryan, a few psychics, maybe even seeing how beautiful the world was before it was ravaged, or even some flimsy little flier advertising a help group, but something always managed to stab me straight in the heart and remind me of everything.

I stuffed my hands in my pockets and looked down at the floor, defeated. "So what did you follow me for?" I asked her, my voice emotionless.

I saw her shrug. "I wanted to see why you ran out," she said, unimpressed. "You're... not what I was expecting. You accuse me of lying, but how am I meant to know you're not? For all I know you could be deluded – you could have created yourself a nice little illusionary background after being mind-fucked by a psychic."

I snorted at that. "I wish it were all that easy."

She tucked a fist underneath her chin and stared at me for a moment. "You're not telling me everything." She took a step closer to me and prodded me on the shoulder.

"Neither are you," I shot back with a scowl, some of my anger returning. Who was she, really, to come and accuse me of being deluded, secretive and full of lies when she'd made up stories about the future just for a little attention?

"You really expect me to tell you everything?" I laughed at the foolish notion of it all, pulled my hands out of my pockets and folded my arms again. "I don't have anything to tell you."

She smirked impishly, taking the edge away from her palpable anger. "I could always torture it out of you... I'm sure there's a lot of ways I could make you confess all. I'll have you screaming and crying all through the night, trust me." She inched closer again and winked at me, though her eyes were cold and set like stone.

Devilish amusement trickled in through the cracks of my anger. "If anyone's going to be up all night screaming, it's going to be you. And I don't need to torture you to make you scream during the night."

She snorted. "I highly doubt that. You look like you wouldn't be able to perform that style of interrogation with directions and a compass!"

I held up a hand to quiet Loki as he hissed at her once more. "Well you're never going to find out my interrogation skills, so there's nothing you can do but fantasise." I smirked at her, sensing victory.

Then, to my surprise, she flung her arms around my neck and kissed me, full on. I felt her flinch as Loki bit her arm, yet couldn't find the will to force her off me. It wasn't every day I managed to have angry-make-out sessions, after all.

She pulled herself away from me, touched her wounded arm gently and closed her hand around it, blood trickling out from beneath.

"That was hardly even worth it," she hissed before she turned around and stalked away, leaving me confused and with Loki grinning toothily on my shoulder, displaying bloody fangs for the world to see.

Her insult didn't even register as I took a step after her. "Hey!" I shouted at her back. "What's your name?"

She ignored me completely as she continued walking, disappearing quite quickly round a corner and leaving me stood there foolishly, Loki still chattering away on my shoulder.

"Loki," I said uncertainly as I turned around and begun walking back to the pokémon centre. "If I let her tie me up and do things to me, you'll make sure to cut the ropes if she leaves me, won't you?"

He grunted to himself as he wiped his tongue along his teeth, caressing them each and turn and teasing the blood off them. I sighed and shook my head to myself, wondering just how I managed to get myself into such strange situations.

A giddy little smile worked its way onto my face as I touched my lightly bruised lips with my tongue. It really was a pity that I didn't know her name. It wasn't like I was ever going to see her again anyway, or so I told myself.

Damned trilby-hat-girl. I should have sat down and talked to her instead of getting angry and screaming at her in the street.

Things might have worked out a little differently that way.

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