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.


50. Indecision

Fate is a misconception, it's only a cover-up for the fact you don't have control over your own life ~ Anon


"I hate having to wait for back up. At its core, it basically means one thing; you're not good enough to get the job done yourself. Added to that, you're always vulnerable while you're waiting. Better to go out in a blaze of glory than dying in a corner, waiting for someone else to find you an hour after you've died."

- Commander Flite. War hero. Solider. (Exact date unknown).


For what felt like the thousandth time, I sighed to myself and ran my tongue along my teeth. There was definitely a chip in one of them, small enough that I didn't think it would be noticeable, but big enough so that I'd noticed it. And of course, once I had, I couldn't forget it was there.

"This sucks," I said into my hands. "We should be doing something."

[Then why aren't we?]

I threw a glare at Gemini, who stood by my side, smiling condescendingly back at me. I shook my head to wave away the annoyance I felt and returned to staring at the floor. "I told Marsha we'd meet her here. She has information on that dead guy; it sounded like something big. So if we want to keep her on our side, we might as well play nice for a little while."

Gemini seemed to shrug as she turned around to face the indistinct rock wall that held the entrance. [So why do we wait outside, rather than scouring the inside once more? Surely it would do us more good to understand what we have already discovered?]

"Because…" I started, but quickly found I didn't have the words to follow up with. "Because, well, I just don't really want to go back in there. What can we really gain from looking at chunks of pokémon? I can't understand the language everything on the computer has been written in and I haven't the first clue about trying to understand how people died, save the obvious injuries."

[So basically, you are useless for now.]

My head snapped up at the harsh bluntness of her statement, though I finally nodded my head. "Pretty much. I know how to kill things. Understanding how things have been killed? Not so much. Not unless it's obvious. I didn't even see any tracks or anything in there. So whatever did it either cleaned up after itself, or somehow floated through the place and shredded pokémon to pieces."

It took about another five minutes before I grew restless and began tapping my feet against the floor. Less than a minute after that I pushed myself off the ground and aimed towards the complex once more.

"I'm bored of waiting," I explained. "Even if I find nothing, it's better than sitting around, twiddling my thumbs."

Gemini said nothing as we made our way back into the complex. Scar didn't seem pleased with being used to just open doors again, though once he had done so I returned him to his ball again. The halls were still as light as before with not a single flicker to be found. I ran my fingers along the walls and wondered just how the electricity in the place was still working so perfectly after such a long time.

And for another thing, just how they managed to build such a large place without anyone knowing about it.

"There's no marks on the walls," I commented as I walked. "I would have thought there would be more. Some sort of sign that there was a fight or something. No scorch marks, no frozen patches, no collapsed walls or anything. It just looks like somehow, the pokémon in here all got killed without realising something was attacking them. Just how the hell exactly would that be able to happen anyway?"

Gemini looked around the halls, sniffed at the air and huffed. [I do not know. Even ghostly pokémon generate an aura, of sorts, that other ghosts and those of darkness could sense. Nothing but some of the strongest pokémon could possibly do all this unseen.]

The smell of the pokémon chunks hit me once more. "What about celebi?" I said as I pressed a hand over my face. "Time travel around everything, blink into existence and rip everything apart, then disappear again before anything realises something has happened?"

Gemini shook her heads. [Such an act expends a lot of energy. It is how other pokémon first noticed The Celebi – they would sense large bursts of energy somewhere nearby, then it would appear before them. If time travel required no conscious input, it would require no energy. But it would also mean they would be forever warping through time, unable to guide where they are going or how long they stay for.]

"What about the time-space pokémon from Sinnoh?" I tapped my hand against a wall, found it to be solid and decided that fake-walls hadn't assisted in the massacres. "Could they have had something to do with this?"

Gemini glanced around the halls and snorted. [Hardly. Neither of them would fit in these halls. Likely it was something smaller, but equally as powerful. Perhaps it held a key.]

I stopped and swung around to face her. "A key? What do you mean by that?"

Her tail tried to bite me as I got close. As quickly as I backed away she shook her head and trotted on ahead. [I cannot say much more. It is too dangerous.]

"Well what if you're right?" I shouted at her. "Don't you think leaving out something as vital as that, something that might lead to a weakness will hinder us?"

She stopped, dropped her head and sighed loudly. After a long moment she pulled herself back up and turned to face me. [Fine. I will share with you this knowledge. But you must promise not to tell another.]

I nodded quickly. "Sure. Won't say a thing to anyone."

She looked like she didn't believe me in the slightest. I couldn't blame her. [Okay,] she said and sat down on the floor. [The keys… are aspects of power. With them, acts of power can be achieved that were never thought possible. Within the many species of pokémon, there are always fights for the final key; the power that cycles.]

I slid down against the wall and raised an eyebrow at her. "You do realise you're going to have to explain that in a bit simpler terms?"

Both the eyes on her tail and in her head rolled at me. [You have heard of Arceus, correct?]

I nodded. "The thing that a lot of people see as a pokémon god, right? A lot of people worship it too."

[They're wrong. But also somewhat right. Have you ever wondered why the myths surrounding it say that it forged the universe with a thousand arms?]

"I've heard about that, somewhere," I said. I couldn't remember where exactly, but it always struck me as strange. Especially when they showed the picture of it next to the text.

[That is because Arceus is not the true god. You see, like humans, pokémon also try to achieve the highest power they can. There is no higher than having godlike power. Thus, every millennia or so, the current god is challenged for leadership. The last battle occurred between Arceus and The Regigigas, just over a millennia ago.]

"The regi-what?" I asked. It was new to me. I hadn't heard of such a creature and wondered just what it was meant to be, aside from a former god.

[Regigigas,] she said flatly. [It is bound in a temple in Sinnoh and due to losing the godlike power, it now takes a while to move and operate at full strength. A thousand years ago, roughly, it was The Regigigas who was the god of pokémon and decided to make the presence of pokémon known to humans. After that, Arceus challenged for leadership and won. The Palkia, Giratina and Dialga were all created by the original god, though they obey whatever creature currently holds the power of one.]

I scratched my head as I tried to process it all. "So something's done all this, potentially with something that makes it as powerful as a god of pokémon? That's totally reassuring. I'm actually not sure whether I prefer the thought of that, this all being done by a massively powerful pokémon or if it's by a group of humans." I pushed myself off the little wall and dusted my hands off. "I guess it doesn't really matter, either way. People are going to find out whatever's behind this. So since they're going to find out about it, why don't we just concern ourselves with our objective?"

Gemini snorted and flicked her ear at me. [A smart suggestion. I was beginning to think that you were attempting to get away from this path.]

I shook my head at her and followed the smell to the pile of pokémon pieces. "You can read my mind. You'd know before I do if I'm really planning on running away from that thing. Rest assured, I'm not going to. It's screwed up my life and everything I do now just causes more hurt. I'll be glad when this is all over, one way or the other."

[I suppose-] Gemini stopped and stood rigid still, staring off into the corridors and seemingly through the wall. [There's someone here.]

I had my gun in my hand almost instantly. Lacey's poké ball felt like a heavy weight on my chest as I weighed up my options for everything. "Do we know them?" I asked in a whisper.

Gemini shook her head. [I've never met them before.]

I grumbled a few curse choices to myself and had her direct me to the person she sensed. I knew it wasn't going to be someone intent on bringing the former occupants of the base back to life, but I had no idea whether they were related to the bodies or not.

Cue my surprise when I found Flannery crouched behind the human bodies. A tall blaziken was stood behind her, holding up a bag full of what seemed to be medical equipment and guiding a torch light over the bodies.

"What are you doing here?" I asked her.

She jumped and her blaziken moved into attack me all in one moment. Then out of nowhere a blue translucent wall appeared between us both. The blaziken stopped in front of it, dropped its bag and went to kick it, only to stop at a quick command from its trainer.

"I'm the gym leader in Lavaridge; this place falls under my protection and jurisdiction," Flannery said, standing up and placing her hands on her hips. For the first time I noticed the plastic gloves on her hands and the little covers over her shoes. "The better questions are who the hell are you and what the hell are you doing here?"

I holstered my gun and waved for Gemini to drop her barrier. As the blue faded from the air, I stepped a little closer and stopped as soon as the blaziken looked like it was about to punch my face off. "I'm investigating this place," I said as I fished for Marsha's badge. "Helping a friend out." I showed her the badge, handed it to her pokémon on her instruction and let her scrutinise it close up. "I've already been through here with Ad- the gym trainer that first found this place."

"You're Unova investigations?" she asked, clearly unconvinced as she tossed me back the badge. "You don't seem it. Your accent's not right. And you look familiar too."

I shrugged. "We fought in your gym for a badge. You pretty much trounced me."

She stared at me for a long moment, but nothing registered in her face. "Sorry," she said finally. "Don't recognise you. I fight like twenty-odd challengers a day, minimum. Faces are kinda hard to recall unless you've got something that pulls you out of a crowd. No offence."

"None taken." I inched closer towards the body pile, found my way blocked once more and glowered at the obstructive pokémon. It met me with a flat glare until Flannery called it off. It gave me one final, sharp, pointed look before it picked up its fallen bag and leapt over the pile of bodies, returning once more to Flannery's side. "So… what're you doing?" I asked her.

"Trying to figure out what did this," she told me. "I wasn't always a gym leader," she said at my surprised look. "I used to be a pathologist. One of the people that cuts up the dead bodies to find out what happened to them. Then Gramps retired and I got let go due to budget cuts, so it was just the easiest job to get into. A few years later, I'm the gym leader, in charge of so much more than I ever thought I would be, known by even more people and somehow still performing my old job."

"Right," I grunted as I crouched on the opposite side of the scattered bodies. "I'm just a pokémon trainer. And a former soldier. I know how to kill things while you know how to figure out how I did so."

She looked up and grinned at me. "Curious." Her gaze dropped instantly and she slipped a pen out of her back pocket. "That one there – the one with dyed blue hair – there's no signs of struggle, or anything. The others all have skin or blood under their nails, but given the marks on their heads, it looks like they'd have gotten them from scratching at their heads."

I followed where she was pointing. Sure enough, almost every corpse had little scratch marks hidden by their hair.

"Whatever did all of this, it looks like it somehow attacked the brain." She stood up and opened the eyelids of one of the corpses. "Their eyes are all bloodshot, like they burst a blood vessel. Or quite a few, considering that they seem like they also bled out through their ears. And their noses, eyes and mouths. I'd venture a guess and say they bled out through their other orifices too."

I frowned and decided I definitely wasn't going to check to see if she was right. "So you can't just look at it and figure out how one of them died?"

She laughed. "No chance. Television makes it seem like that sometimes, but there's a load of different circumstances which can cause death. Right now, it seems like their brains were overloaded and shut down by psychic interference. It's almost definite, but there'd need to be blood tests, a full post-mortem examination and a psychic scan too." She sighed and smiled in reminiscence. "Whenever I get to do this, I always end up missing my old job."

"So why'd you just go to being a gym leader then?"

She shrugged and looked down at the bodies. "It was the only way I could get a job at the time. Better to do that than sitting around all day doing nothing. Then I liked it, so I kept with it. Besides, as much as I did like figuring out what killed people, it wasn't always nice. It's hard not to be a little affected when you have kids on your table."

I found I couldn't say anything to that. Instead I just turned away to face Gemini instead. "So, reckon a psychic did all of this? You said the pokémon could have been caused by that."

I could hear Flannery lean in closer. "The pokémon? What's up with them? I haven't looked at them – I know how to deal with human bodies, pokémon I tend to be clueless on. Are they in the same state?"

I shook my head and turned back to face her. "No. These ones here are different. These are… whole."

It took a moment, but she understood and turned a little green in the gills. "Oh," she said, flatly. "So, uh, is their much-"

"It looks like they were put in a massive blender."

"Lovely." She picked off her gloves and tossed them in the bag her pokémon was holding. "Well, I'm not looking into that. Your psychic tell you anything yet?"

[I'm certain I should feel insulted that she thinks I belong to you.] I gave the girafarig a flat looked and folded my arms as I waited for her to give me the answer to my question. [Possibly. It feels the same here as it did with the pokémon. Except… here I can sense something. Faint but… something. Like an emotion, though I am unsure as to what one.]

"So, possibly psychic then?" She nodded her head and I rubbed my temples in both anger and disappointment. Anger that it was all we had to go on. Disappointment that it was a psychic and nothing a bit more specific to hunt down. "Looks like we're hunting a psychic pokémon," I said to Flannery. "Or someone in control of one. Or a team of them. Either way, whatever was behind this; it's psychic."

"Brilliant," Flannery groaned. "So that means when I get home, I'll have to call the twins and Jessica too. Drafting in all the gym leaders I can, just to figure this out." She sighed and ran both her hands through her hair. "You said you already met my gym trainer?"

I nodded and decided to tread very cautiously, just in case she'd heard something about me from Adryan. "Yeah. Why?"

"I'm gonna be busy," she said as she pointed into her bag for something. Her blaziken nodded and handed her a pad of paper which she quickly scribbled something onto. "Can you take this to him? I've written his address on the back, it won't be hard to find it. His name's Adryan. Just drop this through his letterbox. I'll ring him to make sure he gets the message, but there's no harm in giving him three messages as opposed to one."

"Drop it through the guy's letterbox, got it," I said quickly. "I'll make sure he gets it."

"Thanks. Drop by the gym if you find anything else out; I'll be there if you need anything else."

"Yeah, sure thing." I gave her a quick nod and motioned for Gemini to follow me back out of the complex. All the while, I wondered what strange twist of fate would be cruel enough to make me have to visit Adryan's home after attempting to sever all ties with him.

The trip back to Lavaridge felt like it passed far too quickly. Granted, I had sped up in the vain hope that if I delivered the letter faster, it would get me away from potentially bumping into Adryan, but it still felt like no time had passed before I was standing right outside his house.

It was a nice, cosy little place near the western outskirts of the town, half built into the encroaching mountainside and practically the same colour as it too.

I took a deep breath and prepared to sneak up to the front door and drop the letter off. Belatedly, I realised that I could have just never shown up to the house and pretended that I had dropped the letter off. Something in me told me that Flannery might have found out if I did and it would hinder us working together.

I blamed Gemini for such thoughts.

She snorted behind me and sat down on the street. [Hurry up and get this over and done with.]

"What do you think I'm doing?" I bit back at her. I moved a little bit closer to the house, all the while treating it like it might stand up and try to eat me.

Only a little late did I realise the front door was wide open.

I froze as soon as I noticed it and felt my heart race just a little faster. I wasn't sure whether it was fear for myself or the many different reasons the door could be wide open that made my stomach drop. The fact that it was wide open and that I couldn't see anyone inside left me feeling a little worried.

I knocked on the front door and poked my head in, just to check for signs of life. It smelt like food was cooking somewhere within, though I still couldn't see anyone inside. Taking the smell of food to mean there was someone in, I slipped the note into the letterbox and decided I'd ask Gemini to scan the house.

I made it all of three steps away when I heard, "What the fuck are you doing here?"

I froze, caught and wondered if I could run away and somehow make him forget that I was ever there. I turned around slowly, shrugged and gave Adryan the best poker face I could manage. "Flannery asked me to drop off a note for you. I did it."

He sighed as he took the note and scanned it over. "Fine. Now get lost. I say I want you out of my life and you show up on my doorstep. If Flannery ever asks you to drop off a note, next time, remind her that thirteen answerphone messages, six texts and three e-mails are more than enough to let me get the message."

I said nothing. I nodded like a moron and turned tail to get away as quickly as I could. Instead I heard him sigh and tell me to wait there. I stood frozen on the street in front of his house, half wondering if he was going to get something big and heavy to throw at me, or just to find a pokémon he could set on me.

It turned out the latter was accurate.

Except in a way I'd have never imagined.

Out of the house stepped a tall, green and white figure. It strode towards me with purpose, yet at the same time, with a hint of shame. Its head was bowed down and I could see the hesitation in its posture as it stood still in front of me.

Finally, reality broke my shock. "Alistair? What… how… why…" I groaned and slapped my head, "Just… what are you doing here?"

It was strange to see the gallade so uncomfortable and embarrassed. I was used to him being sure of things and dealing with everything with an appearance of stoicism.

[I… I found Master Adryan shortly after I left you,] he said, still refusing to raise his head to me. [I acted rashly that day… I came back to apologise to you when I realised my folly, sir. Except, you were no longer there, but instead Master Adryan was.]

I folded my arms and just stared at him. I honestly didn't know what to say. Too many things were rushing around in my mind, though seeing him made me remember our last conversation. It brought back all the pain of Xander's death. I wasn't sure I could deal with that pain again.

[I… I realised you had left. I wanted to follow after you; to trace your signature. But I realised that I had to help Master Adryan too, sir, rather like I tried to help you when we first met. I am afraid I have failed on both tasks.] He bowed low, his head almost touching the floor and he spread his arms out. [I gave my word to help in both tasks. I have broken my word. I ask for penance, sir.]

I stood there, speechless and unable to even think. Finally I rubbed my temples with a hand and sighed at him. "Stand up Alistair. I have no idea what you're on about. I remember you saying you'd help me when we first met, but you never really clarified what that was about. And I take it you're not going to tell me what you're helping Adryan with?"

He shook his head, though still not meeting my eyes. I realised, belatedly, that what I thought was embarrassment was shame. [I cannot sir. Just like I never revealed your secrets to him, I shall not reveal his to you. All I can tell you is that I failed to stop him harming himself.]

"You…?" I shook my head and laughed a little. "I know what you're talking about. I bumped into him the other day. I realised he dabbled in the whole seeing into the future to help things out. I told him the truth about his rapidash's death, just so that he'd hate me and wouldn't try to help anymore. Too many people have died already, Alistair. I can't let him give himself brain tumours and a few months to live just to help me."

Alistair finally looked me in the eyes. I could still see his shame in them, but also a little respect. [Such actions are why I sought to help you, sir. You do have honour, even if you refuse to admit it to yourself. I… I apologise, from the bottom of my heart for my actions that night. I was grieving. I read Xander's mind before he died and saw everything from his perspective. I… I failed to realise that I should have seen both sides of the story before I acted. I realise now, that the way he saw things was not the way you intended events to happen. I acted rashly, sir and… I can only apologise for my actions.]

He looked more than a little surprised when I replied with a flat, "Great." He stepped back as if he'd taken a blow and his mouth flapped like a magikarp out of water, constantly searching for words, but all that came out were a few unintelligible growls and hisses.

"Alistair, you pretty much renounced all ties to me. You blamed me for something that hurt me more than you, all because you'd read his mind and used that as the entire story. And you're sorry?" I burst out laughing at it all. "And now I realise just how futile a word that is. The amount of times I've said it for my fuck ups… it doesn't make a difference. It's just a word… it means nothing." I sighed and shook my head at him. "You're sorry. Good for you. Now that you feel better about that, go back to Adryan. You renounced your ties to me; you decided to help him. Now carry on with that, because I'm not really sure how much I trust you."

He reacted like he'd taken another blow, but he pressed on regardless. [I know that actions are better than words, sir. I have told you I seek penance for my actions. I have failed in helping Master Adryan. Allow me to continue attempting to help you. The others; our partners, they hurt, sir. You do not realise how much you pain them by cutting yourself off from them. We were a team – a family. I do not know how it is for humans, sir, but for a pokémon, a family – a clan – they are its strength. It is why we work so well in teams with humans. We fight alongside them, we grow with them and share the happiest times of our lives. Refusing to treat us as no more than tools hurts us as much as a physical blow to the heart would, sir."

His words struck me at my core, but I still tried to ignore them as best I could. "Alistair… I don't know if I can be that family-like around you guys again. Xander's death… it hurts more than anything. I don't want that to happen again and I don't want you guys to hurt this much if I die. It's just… easier, this way."

There was an awkward silence between us. I half-expected all my pokémon to burst out of their poké balls and start a really weird group hug. Instead… there was just silence.

[You hurt sir, I understand that.] Alistair took a step towards me and spread his arms out. [But understand me when I say this; events are coming to a close. You will need all the allies you can. Things are changing – even a creature with limited psychic abilities such as myself can sense that. Allow me to help you, sir. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a situation where you regret refusing help.]

I shuddered, like his words had hit my brain in a way other than telepathy. He sounded so convinced of everything that it unsettled me. "Don't you have to let Adryan know you're leaving or something then?"

His face broadened in a smile. [He already knows. If you were not to allow me to help you sir, I would have simply followed and helped regardless.]

"Alright," I said. "I suppose you can help out again. I'll try to fill you in on everything that's happened, but it might take a little while. It'll be easier if Gemini explains a few things too." I checked my phone and found a message from Marsha I'd missed. She was finally in Lavaridge and from the looks of the number of missed calls I had from her, she wanted to contact me in a hurry.

Definitely a hurry when we walked a little bit up the road and found her running towards us. Her face was bright red and sweat dripped from her forehead. It looked like she'd ran the entire length of the town several times over. Behind her a jynx glided through the air, floating soundlessly behind her.

"Finally!" she growled, breathless. "I found out a few things about our friend's death. Turns out what we thought was behind it definitely did it."

I felt my eyebrows raise into my hairline. "So, you mean-?"

"Yeah." She nodded and leant on her knees, catching her breath. "It's behind his death. But we need to move fast. The dusknoir I borrowed? It took off about an hour ago. She said something about how its moving towards the Cluster and just teleported there to help Wally."

My throat suddenly felt as dry as a desert. "It's going there? With Wally… and the others?"

"Yeah, so we need to move quickly!" She grabbed my arm and took one of her jynx's hands in the other. "I've got a chopper just outside town waiting for us. Couldn't teleport straight towards you; never been here before. The gallade yours? Get it to hold your other arm and your girafarig too. We've got no time to waste."

It seemed like I'd barely even nodded when everything fizzed out of existence. I felt like I'd left most of my insides back on the street and landed almost instantly on bright green grass. Everything spun around me, split into doubles and triples and made no sense in my head. I didn't even have time to rest as we had to quickly file into the helicopter, recall our pokémon, convince Gemini to go into a poké ball to make the journey – which was anything but easy – and buckle in for the flight.

By my side, Marsha was as white as a sheet. "Is there anyone else helping us?"

She shook her head. "No. I don't know anyone else that can help in Hoenn. Too much risk. I know a couple of people that could help back in Unova, but the strongest of them are busy investigating something else right now. We're all Wally's got as backup until the Elites and gym leaders can help out too."

I didn't say a word back to that. All I could think about were the horror stories Adryan had told me about the Cluster and how dangerous it was.

Turns out, what he said was nothing short of an understatement.

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