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.


5. How the World Works

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.

Anyone who keeps learning stays young.

The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. ~ Henry Ford

"Understanding and using psychic abilities are two very different things. If the mind is not ready to use the abilities, the resulting trauma is often fatal."

- Sabrina Maxime, founder of the Saffron City psychic-type gym. (July 17, 3013)


I quickly realised after catching the Pokémon that training them was a lot harder than I had first thought. Originally I believed that you could simply call out a few commands, and the Pokémon would follow them without hesitation. Sadly, it seemed I was very mistaken. Not only would I have to teach each and every Pokémon I caught what each command meant, I would also have to train them to respond to their own names.

And it didn't help that the damned Lotad rarely responded to his new name.

I tried for nearly an hour straight trying to get him to respond to the name. Every time I would say it, I'd get barely anything that could be considered a response. The most I got was a small, uninterested blink from the creature. As barbaric as it may have sounded to some people, I was extremely tempted to kick some sense into it.

Then again, it might not have exactly had a good effect. It took me the better part of the day to get the creature to understand his name, and then a further hour to get him to respond to it. By the end of the day though, every time I said his name, Xander would look up in interest before continuing with whatever he was doing beforehand.

Which was usually lounging in the sun, lounging in the water, or lazily eating small bugs.

How did I end up with such a lazy creature? Someone, somewhere had to be taunting me. I knew eventually Lotad would become the energetic creatures known as Ludicolo, though I did worry about how I'd deal with an unresponsive Pokémon that would become more powerful every time it heard a music tune.

I recalled Xander and headed back into the house, knowing that soon enough I would have to depart the safety of Jennifer's land of luxury. I found the woman sat at the table, food ready and waiting, her Pokémon sat at the table and waiting patiently for everyone to arrive. I found myself feeling a new level of respect for the woman; here I was only managing to get Xander to understand his name after a day, and she had a Glameow managing to resist the temptation to dive into a plate of food.

The woman smiled as I entered the room, and made a show about making me wash my hands before I could sit down. At her command, I let out Xander, and then found myself watching a sudden blue blur devouring the food she'd specially made for him.

I swear, it was the fastest I ever saw him move.

Jennifer just smiled, laughing to herself. "It's alright, you haven't trained him properly yet. In time, you'll be able to get him to understand attack commands, strategies, and maybe even share a full conversation with him."

I found myself staring at her in silent shocked horror. "Pokémon... can talk?" I gasped, blundering my way through a confusing topic.

She laughed softly, shaking her head in time with her laugh. "No dear. Some have been known to, but that's only because they spent years learning it. Psychic Pokémon can communicate by telepathy, but others won't be able to do much past their natural grunts and growls. But as you bond with your Pokémon, you'll be able to understand them more; a single eye movement might let you know your Pokémon is hungry or thirsty."

I again found myself with a new sense of respect for trainers. I never really put how much thought into how they domesticated the creatures; I simply thought they were nothing more than tools of attack, that you could simply point and yell a command, and they'd follow through. I frowned at the thought, realising that most experiences I would have to concur on my own. I doubted Jennifer would travel with me on my journey; most people travelled alone or in small groups, and I didn't think any would travel with someone old enough to be their mother.

She smiled again, gesturing for me to begin eating. Whiskers sat silently and watched me, only beginning to eat her own food as I started on my own. All respect to Jennifer; that cat was extremely well trained. She noticed me watching her Pokémon's perfect table manners, and let out another small chuckle. "There's perhaps a few more things I should clarify for when you journey," she told me between eating her own food. I nodded to show her I was listening, savouring every morsel of food. My time as a solider taught me to appreciate every meal, and to always give your full respect to whoever took time to prepare food for you. I may have been paid to kill, but I still had common courtesy and manners.

"Obviously, you're not going to able to have a permanent source of food with you," she explained, pressing her hands gently together. "So over the course of your travels, you will most likely end up killing and eating wild Pokémon. I trust you are not against this?"

I shook my head, waiting until my mouth was empty before I spoke. "I'm perfectly fine with such a thing. I lived in a world where if food was scarce, we'd eat our own dead. I can handle killing a few Pidgey or the like and preparing them properly."

She nodded again. "Very well. But I'm going to give you a recipe book to take with you, regardless of your confidence in your abilities." I nodded my thanks as she smiled, again watching as Whiskers ate her food. I never had considered before that Pokémon would be content eating vegetables, yet here the Pokémon was happily eating peas and broccoli. Despite it all, I found myself smiling at it. Xander drew my attention by suddenly making a gurgling noise, causing me to leap from my own skin. I looked at him, gripping a fork as a weapon, only to see him let out a small burp and roll on his back, falling asleep instantly.

"The more you bond with your Pokémon, the more you'll understand it," Jennifer told me, paraphrasing her own earlier words, and ignoring my own unfamiliarity with my own Pokémon. "In accordance, they will be able to sense your own emotions. Rather like when you spend so much time a friend, a lover, a colleague or a brother in arms, you become more attuned to each other. Remember that if you worry about something, your Pokémon will worry too. If you become over confident, so will your Pokémon." She stopped for a moment to eat some more of her food. "And this one may sound strange, but spend as much time as you can in libraries or reading books." I must have pulled a confused face, as she smiled the smile she always bore from a mixture of pity and amusement. "You may know how to kill Pokémon, and what signs to look out for in respect to nests and the like, but how much do you know of caring for your own Pokémon? Treating their illnesses, coping with their typing abilities, or even how to cope with various species and their inherent abilities and downfalls. Even now I'm still learning more about Pokémon, how better to care for each and every one. The life of a trainer is fantastic in that respect; you never once stop learning."

I took her words to heart. In a few small days, I'd learnt that not all Pokémon were natural killers, and some could even be able to be trained to resist eating food. I'd also learnt how much effort needed to be placed in training itself. The thought that no matter how old I got, I would continue learning excited me to no end.

"Most importantly," she said in a graver tone. "Never forget what you're here to do. Understand that every action has consequences, no matter how small the action is, and no matter how long it takes for the repercussions to occur. Your journey may make you see the darkest depths of the soul that humanity has to offer, but remember that if you ever decide to sit back and do nothing, you could very well ensure your grave future still exists."

Her words effectively brought the mood down, something which she herself realised as she sat and ate in silence afterwards. When we had both finished, she motioned for me to remain seated. "No matter what, ensure you enjoy yourself on your journey." I wasn't sure whether she was trying to re-establish a lighter mood, but it was obvious she was trying. "Being a trainer, journeying the world, making bonds that never die with Pokémon... those are without a doubt the happiest times in your life. I won't tell you anything more about what you will experience on your journey, as some things you will need to experience, rather than be told."

I nodded, helping her with the dishes afterwards. We made small talk as we cleaned up, varying from her own life so far, and the many sights she had seen, to my own experiences, and the seldom beauty I had found within my world. I knew I would be leaving the day after, due to the tone of her voice, and found myself missing her presence before my departure.

"I'll be able to speak with you whilst I'm on my journey, won't I?" I asked her when we were done cleaning. She gave me the most regretful look I'd ever seen, and I felt immediately like I'd overstepped the mark.

"For a time, yes," she told me, obviously choosing her words carefully. "But I think in about a month, you won't be able to anymore, I'm afraid."

If I was holding a plate at the time, I probably would have dropped it. "Why?" I found myself asking. She'd took me in, taught me so much in such a short time, and no doubt invested a worthwhile sum into my journey. I found it strange that she may have decided to cut off contact with me.

She sighed and placed a hand to the side of her head. "It's a side effect of working so closely with a psychic type Pokémon," she began, gesturing for me to take a seat. She waited until we had both sat down before she continued. "Human minds aren't as complex or developed of those of a psychic Pokémon, you see. When we work closely with them, they share portions of their powers with us. For most trainers, this is nothing more than a telepathic bond with each other, and at most, image transferring. This doesn't affect us at all. However-" she gripped her hands tightly together, turning them a pale white with the pressure. "Anything more can have adverse effects on humans. I told you before that Celebi showed me everything I needed to know?"

I nodded in confused confirmation, wondering where she was going with this train of conversation.

"Well, to do so, Celebi had to share with me a larger part of its power with me. However, when a psychic type shares large powers with a human... it's nothing short of a death sentence for the human in question. I'm dying," she told me further, obviously refusing to let her voice crack under her palpable emotions. "I have an inoperable brain tumour because of it. I have a month, maybe two left on this world." She could see the horror and surprise written plainly on my face as she smiled grimly, shaking her head in acceptance of her fate, and in refusal of my silent protests. "If I had the choice, I would do it again. I have a child of my own, you see. She's on her own journey now, somewhere in the Kanto region." Her face swelled with obvious pride as she told me about her. "Her name is Erica Hale. If you ever do meet her, please do look after her, however briefly you may be travelling, or even talking to each other. I did this not only to help a poor child from changing their life, but also to prevent my daughter's children from having to grow up in such a world."

I sat in dumbstruck confusion. Whiskers began to rub herself sadly against Jennifer, seemingly showing me some of the emotional bond that Jennifer had began to explain to me. I had always known psychic Pokémon were some of the worst to encounter, that they could make your body twist in horrible ways that it wasn't meant to twist in, or even induce migraines or worse. But I had never considered that even working with one could be a death sentence. I distantly began to wonder how many people had tried something similar on their separate quests for power.

"So unless the situation leaves you with no other alternative, never abuse the powers of a psychic Pokémon," Jennifer instructed me as she quickly erected the walls of her hastily constructed happy-go-lucky facade. "Now, you'll be leaving tomorrow on your journey, so ensure you have an early night. I'll explain a few more things to you tomorrow."

I stopped in my seat for a while longer, wondering just what I should do. "I... I don't have to sleep," I told her. "I could quite happily stay awake and leave tomorrow regardless, if you'd like the company."

She smiled a smile born of happiness and sadness both. "No dear, it's not necessary. The fact that I've had the time to get to know a young man of such high honour such as yourself is enough for me. I have a few more things to do before I too retire for the night, and believe me, when you leave, you'll be glad you had a good night's sleep beforehand.

I nodded my acceptance to her before I stood and picked up Xander, keeping the snoring creature in my arms. His slimy body slipped slowly under my grip, making me adjust until I could hold him still. I placed my hand on Jennifer's shoulder before I left the room, walking up the many stairs that only then seemed to hold so much sadness within.

Strangely enough, despite everything I had heard, I was asleep instantly that night.

Drilled into me from an early age, waking up before dawn was a normal, natural everyday experience for me. Yesterday's clothes were still folded neatly at the bottom of the bed where I had left them, and Xander was tucked away safely in his Poké Ball, itself placed atop my small pile of clothes.

I stretched and popped my shoulders and back, taking one last glance at the view from the windows. By the time I had returned from my shower, it seemed that Jennifer had taken yesterday's clothes and left me out a new set for my journey. After quickly drying myself I dressed in the new clothes she had left for me, taking a moment to appraise myself in the mirror, realising I hadn't much seen my appearance since I'd arrived in the strange times of the past.

My brown hair fell slightly below the start of my neck, framing my face and falling short of my left eyebrow. Brown eyes stared back in my reflection, passing a scrutinising glare over my slightly tanned skin. My face still retained some baby-fat, saving my cheeks from looking as hollow as they should have.

My travel clothes were a beige tee over which I wore a dark green sleeveless jacket. Equally dark green pants covered the entirety of my legs, and I had a pair of beige steel-capped hiker's boots on my feet. The belt meant to hold my Poké Balls was a bandolier I wore over my chest from right to left, at that moment holding only Xander's ball. I reached into my tee and pulled out my dog tags, letting them sit over the beige tee. For whatever reason, seeing their silver shine made me feel more stable. They were my own; a record of my promotion into the guard corps. As much as I may have disliked the time I grew up in, they were symbolic that I had managed to achieve something with my life. Knowing that alone filled me with confidence.

When I arrived downstairs, Jennifer was already waiting for me. Her face was a mixture of pride and sadness, and she held a rucksack covered in a beige camouflage pattern.

"Here," she said as she placed it gently in my hands. "I've already put your slacks in there, as well as a few small provisions such as potions and the like."

I said my thanks and stared at the backpack, wondering just how everything managed to fit into something so small. I'd knew Poké Balls used some sort of strange technology to minimise the creatures to fit, but I never once thought it could be applied to bags or the like.

"Sorry if you don't like the whole army theme, but it's the only thing I thought you'd have any want to wear," Jennifer told me as she placed a hand softly on my arm. "Everything else was covered in logos and names you wouldn't understand, or endorsed by people you wouldn't know of. Clothes are often the first thing people will talk about, so I thought you could lie and say you were an army cadet, hence the clothes."

I smiled appreciatively, placing my hand over hers and squeezing it the once. "They're perfect. I appreciate it completely. Strange as it might sound, I like having something that reminds me of who I am. It anchors me, letting me know what I came from, what I experienced, and what the world stands to fall into should I fail. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you."

Her face erupted into the biggest smile I'd seen from her before she swept me into her arms and pulled me into a crushing hug. "You're more than welcome. It's been nothing short of a pleasure and honour getting to know you." She sniffed as she released me, pausing to wipe at her teary eye. "We're just south of Mauville at the moment," she clarified for me as she pressed an open map into my hands. "You'll need to head south-west, along Route one-hundred-and-three past Altering cave, south through Oldale Town and into Littleroot," she detailed for me as she illustrated the path across the map with a finger. "When you get to Littleroot, register as a trainer with Professor Birch. He'll give you access to trainer benefits, such as being able to store Pokémon with him, and give you your very own Pokédex." I must have had a complete blank expression at her words, as she gave me a small laugh with a well-mannered slap on the arm. "It's nothing short of a portable encyclopaedia on Pokémon. It acts as a trainer I.D., as well as giving a trainer untold amounts of information about each Pokémon. He'll be able to explain it to you better though," she conceded with a small laugh.

"Here," she said suddenly as she pressed a small book into my hands. "Use this in the mean time." I looked at the book, reading the cover in interest. A guide to Hoenn's native Pokémon, by E.G. Alerce.

"He was one of the first Pokémon researchers based in the Hoenn region," she informed me, knowing I was looking at the unknown name on the book. "I used this book in my own travels; I didn't obtain a Pokédex until my third year journeying. It may be outdated now; it only contains data on Pokémon from Kanto, Johto, Hoenn and Sinnoh, and nothing on legendaries or the likes of Porygon, but it should be more than enough for you until you obtain a Pokédex." She noticed me pull out a slip of paper with a series of numbers on, and let out a small laugh. "And that's my number. You did say you wanted to contact me, after all." She winked happily.

I found myself lost for words at the woman's boundless generosity. "Thank you." I couldn't say much more than that, no words could truly express my true thanks to her. She sensed this and swept me in another hug, holding me tightly against her.

"One last question," she whispered, her eyes filling up with saline sadness. For the first time since I'd known her, she looked completely hesitant. She gulped and took a breath before voicing, "In your future... do people remember me?"

I stared at her for a blank moment. "I've heard of you in my time," I lied to her. "There was a large archaeology school named after you before the war destroyed it."

She looked at me for a moment, tears brimming in her eyes. "Liar," she accused correctly, punching me softly in the chest. "Thank you," she murmured softly, squeezing my shoulders affectionately. "Now go on, go have a good journey. Even if I'm not remembered in your future, I'm more than happy to know I helped change it for the better."

I didn't know what to do. Unsure of myself I swept her into a hug of my own, resting my own head gently on hers. "I swear to you, I'll make sure they do build a school of archaeology, even if I have to build it myself!" She laughed along with me, thanking me for my consideration.

I swore then and there, that no matter whether I succeeded or failed, that would be one promise I would keep.

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