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.


24. Live, Learn and Adjust

Don't be so damn hard on yourself. Yeah, you screwed up. You're not perfect, fine. Learn from it. But don't punish yourself. Be kind to you, even when you screw up. You'll bounce back eventually. You'll make up for it. ~ Stephanie Klein.


"Live, learn and adjust. If you can't follow that rule, you're never going to succeed in life. Take what you've learnt and use it in your future. If you always dwell on the 'what ifs' of the past or the future, you're just going to screw up somewhere along the line."

- Veronique Faust, Slateport City Gym Leader 3005-3013. (April 3rd, 3010)


The next day I woke up early and managed to bump into Erica in the kitchen. She offered me a sad smile and obviously tried to keep herself together as she went about her daily business.

I found myself watching her for a moment; a plan forming within my mind. While on some level I felt that it was my journey to save the world as the celebi had chosen me, it was strange to know that someone else in the world knew about it all. I figured that she would be the only person I would be able to talk to about my predicament, and that I could use the sanity I would get by being able to actually mention the things that were going on to her, rather than pressing them further and further down.

"So what're you going to do now?" I asked her after thankfully accepting the tea she placed in front of me.

She sniffed and rubbed at her eyes, wiping small traces of make-up away and showing the bags hidden underneath. "I'm not sure," she admitted. "The house is left to me, and I don't know what to do with it. I don't want to live in it, but I'm not sure if I could just sell it and take Whiskers with me – he's a house-cat at heart, not a battler."

I nodded, then smiled and took a deep breath. "You could always travel with me," I offered. "It would be... nice to have someone with me I could talk to about what's going on."

Erica smiled once more, though I knew my answer by the sadness of her eyes. "I can't," she whispered, and shook her head. "Believe me, I would love nothing more than to be able to help you... but I just can't."

It made no sense. "What do you mean?" I asked her, completely confused. "Is there something that's preventing you going on a journey?"

"It's not that," Erica confided with a soft frown. "I..." she sighed and sat on a stool opposite me, staring into the murky brown waters of her own tea. "Mum told me... back when she first started conversing with the celebi... that I wasn't allowed to go and help."

My previous confusion was amplified about twelve times. "What do you mean?" I asked once more, though this time a little more fiercely that I meant.

"I can't go with you," she told me, hissing the words through her teeth. "Mum looked at my future, if only because she wouldn't be around to see it – so she said. She said there were a few paths she could see me taking, and one of them was journeying with you – accepting this very offer you're making now."

I was becoming more lost every time she spoke. "So why can't you accept it, if it's one thing you were meant to do?"

She shrugged, scowled and then dipped her head. "I promised her I wouldn't. She told me that something bad would happen if I journeyed with you... I think she saw me die or something," she said with a shrug. "I don't know why I'm not allowed to go with you, I just know that my mother screamed at me for two weeks straight and made me swear on her grave-to-be that I wouldn't accept your offer."

The words stung, though I didn't fully comprehend why. At most, I could only gather that it had to be that even though Jennifer had trusted me with the fate of the world, she didn't trust me to keep her daughter alive.

"But she's not here, so..." I tried.

"I can't," Erica hissed, slamming her fist down on the table. "There's going to be a lot of shit that happens on your journey, and a lot of it isn't going to be a walk in the park. People are going to die, alright?" she shouted, glaring at me over the counter. "No matter what you do, there's going to be death. It might be people around you, it might be people you've only looked at once in the street, or it might even be people that you've never met. But mum told me that if I went with you, I'd die!"

I blinked, stunned by her words. "But... you said she never told you anything," I whispered, even more confused.

"I lied, okay?" she growled, and gripped a fistful of her hair. "Sorry," she whispered, softly, and sighed as she buried both hands in her hair. "Mum told me that if I helped you, I'd be captured and executed for some reason."

My eyes widened and my blood ran cold. "Does that mean... I'll be executed... or anyone that travels with me will?"

She shrugged once more. "No. Yes. I don't know. All I know is that my mum told me I could help you more if I stayed away, and helped you from the sidelines." She growled and flung her hands to the table, hitting it with fierce force. "You think it doesn't bother me that I know I can't help you?" she shouted suddenly, and leapt from her seat, beginning to pace the room in venting rage. "You think that I don't want to help? You think that it isn't driving me mad that I know this is happening, and I can't do anything about it? I just know that this is the safest and most productive path for me to take!"

I nodded slowly, trying to calm her and understand her words both. "What do you mean by 'path'?" I asked, intrigued. "You keep mentioning these paths you could take. What does it all mean?"

She groaned once more and sat down, burying her face on the table again. "I don't understand it much," she admitted, and pulled her face up. "But what I do understand is that apparently time is constantly moving, shifting around us. Apparently, there's always a number of choices we make that influence how everything happens. At certain points, we have a choice, and by taking that, every over path disappears from existence, and then a new map of sorts of made from the choices we made.

"It's like in a videogame, where you're given a set amount of choices to make," she said, attempting to break the information through to me. "In some games, if you make a certain decision, the rest of the game and the plot revolve around that decision you made. And no matter how much you try, you can't go back and change the choice you made."

I couldn't help but quip, "But you could always just load your old save file."

Erica growled a laugh and looked at me, one eyebrow raised. "But you can't exactly load a save file of your life, can you? Everything's always changing around us, and the smallest, most insignificant things shape what happens. There's only a few things in life that are going to happen, no matter what. Everything else is built on from one giant web of chance and choice."

I tried to wrap my head around it and found the world spinning around me. "So you mean everything that happens is the direct result of decisions made by everyone in existence?"

She shrugged. "I think so. Pokémon supposedly created everything, and from that, the Dialga created time itself. There's a reason why it's a pokémon of myth, and sought after by so many – who wouldn't want the power of being able to reshape time?"

I nodded and saw the truth in her words. If I owned the Dialga, I could easily make sure the world would never be doomed. Of course, for that to happen, I would need to somehow find a mythical creature, capture it or convince it to help my cause, and then survive the whole thing.

Somehow, I didn't think it was that likely.

"So... how can you help me then?" I asked. If she wasn't out with me on my journey, helping to change the world, what good could she do?

"I can be your anchor to sanity," she told me with a small smile. "But more than that, if there's something you need to do in order to preserve the world, there's certain people I can get in contact with that can make everything like that... disappear."

I stared at her a moment, perplexed. "But aren't you like eighteen? How the hell are you going to manage that?"

"Nineteen," she confided with a small smile. "And you think my mum was the only person the celebi contacted?" She laughed at the thought. "One person wouldn't be able to change much for the better, but is more than enough to doom everything. The celebi went to a great number of people, and managed to convince a handful of them. There's people in the legal systems, governments and who knows what else that know of this, and can make any small things you do... go away, for want of a better term."

Yet again the room was spinning, and I felt the metaphorical weight on my shoulders increase once more. "There's a whole group of people that know what I'm doing? Why the hell aren't they doing more?" I shouted, slamming my own fists on the counter. Erica shrugged, and I groaned and leant my head on the counter before me. "Talk about no pressure."

She laughed good-naturedly and stared out of the window in a way eerily reminiscent of her mother. "They can't do more, because they don't know who you are, but know of you. I never got the full story from my mother, but apparently if there were too many people who knew of everything, word would get out, and you'd end up being taken in by the governments and tortured for information, if not killed on the spot."

I groaned once more. "Have I ever mentioned I really, really don't like people?" My face left the counter and I stared at her with a hard expression. "So what can these people cover up?"

Erica shrugged. "I'm not sure, but it obviously can't be something as large as terrorist explosions of buildings. A few deaths here and there, maybe a bit of missing evidence and a few witnesses deciding they've forgot they ever saw you."

My mind flew instantly to Aaron and whether or not his death could be pinned on someone else. Next were the demons of Dewford, though I knew it would be a lot harder to cover up.

Besides, I wasn't totally sure how they fitted in with saving the world. I was sure that if I wanted to abuse these contacts I never knew I had, I'd need some sort of proof.

"So why can't they know who I am?" I asked, genuinely wondering.

She shrugged. "People in high places always have a psychic or two trained on a number of people."

"So why the hell did the celebi never tell me any of this?" I shouted, angry at the world and the stupid time-travelling beast once more. "Why the hell am I forced to go through this all alone?"

She shrugged once more. "I honestly can't say," she told me. "Maybe it's tried, but just can't get through to you. Or maybe appearing before you would endanger you too much. I'm sure it has it's reasons."

"Being that it's a sadistic creature, getting off on my misery and failure?" I grumbled, hating the creature for ever taking me once more.

Though I reckon, the damned thing hated itself for choosing me when everything failed.

I ended up leaving what used to be Jennifer's home in the early hours of the afternoon, and somehow managed to part on good terms with Erica, even after our respective break downs and shouting matches at each other. She wished me luck in my quest, and told me that if I ever needed help, or just someone to talk to, she was only a phone call away.

With hindsight, perhaps I should have taken advantage of that offer more.

I still didn't understand why she'd been instructed to stay away from my journey, but wasn't about to argue it. Jennifer had abused the power of psychics, so obviously knew a lot more than I would ever hope to.

I decided once more that I needed a psychic, and soon.

I made good time that day, and continued once more in returning to normality. A few times stray pokémon would come towards us, and I lamented the fact that I had no poké balls left to try and capture any of them. Even more so when I had some strange, miraculous stroke of luck when Xander dove into the seas that stemmed from Slateport and came surfaced quickly, with a dratini of all damn things paying with him!

I had no idea what the creature was at the time I saw it, though once I looked it up in the pokédex, I nearly burst into tears at the twisted humour someone no doubt had with my piss-poor luck.

Though I considered it was probably all for the best. It would no doubt take almost five years to train a dratini fully into a dragonite, and by that time I would have hopefully long since saved the world. I could have become a champion trainer after that, but I never really saw myself following such a career path after my journey.

In a way, I guess everything worked out well. At least I didn't have to worry about choosing a career.

The magnemite was still taking a while to train though. Even after a few days trekking towards Mauville, she still couldn't understand most of my commands – save for shock something – and she spent every spare moment attaching herself to something or someone.

I quickly discovered that she was extremely over-affectionate, and couldn't fully control the electricity she had. Thankfully she never discharged anything powerful enough to truly hurt any of us.

Still, it didn't help matters much.

"You realise you can detach yourself now," I groaned at her, attempting to pry the creature off of my right forearm. She buzzed and clicked as I reached over to try and dislodge her, and I felt the familiar crackle of static as the hairs on my arms shot up. Instantly I drew my hand away, and the creature clicked happily, content with being attached to me.

Thankfully it wasn't only me that suffered. She would occasionally laze within the leaf atop Xander's head, sometimes even latching herself to Loki – which was quite funny, considering she was the size of his chest.

Though the funniest had to be every time she attached herself to Lacey. All the white strands of hair on Lacey's body would flare out with static charge, and more often than not I would hear her growl as the magnemite landed on her head. A few times the magnemite would only manage to crush the leaf on Lacey's head, or even just get in the way. Though a few times she managed to get caught in Lacey's hair, which was quite amusing, if nothing else.

Lacey clicked her tongue at me, thankful that I was the one suffering with the magnemite for now. I caught the nuzleaf moving out of the corner of my eye, and leapt back in time to avoid her pulling any pranks.

"Stop that!" I chided her, slapping her arm away. Lacey smirked at me, dropping the stick she'd been trying to poke the magnemite with as if she never held it in the first place. Of course, Loki happened to see what went on and decided that he had to join in too.

"I hate you both," I grumbled as they both picked up sticks and tried to prod the magnemite, causing it to send little shocks through my arm. I sat down beside Xander and used him as a small shield for a little time, thankful that he wasn't old enough to have arms that would enable him to join in with their annoyance.

Thankfully they stopped soon, though it was only because a wingull screeched and dive-bombed at us. We scattered away from the pokémon, wondering just why it had attacked us so randomly, and saw that nearby there were a number of small berry bushes, as well as a nest that obviously belonged to a pack of rattata.

We were obviously in its hunting territory. Though even once we moved, it still continued to squawk and demand vengeance, screeching and blasting at us with small jets of water.

I pulled a face. It could fly, and was far out of range from my other pokémon. I only had the magnemite to fight it, and she was still learning how to battle with my commands. It would probably mean she would have a harder time facing it than she would when she was trained, even if her electrical attacks could severely harm the creature.

I lamented the fact that I didn't have any poké balls left on my person as the wingull screeched again, this time flapping its wings to send a small breeze at us that did nothing more than fluff mine and Lacey's hair. I looked at the magnemite on my arm, and then nodded towards the attacking wingull. "Get it," I commanded, and she met me with a blank one-eyed stare.

I groaned and wondered why the higher powers had to hate me enough to give me such unresponsive pokémon. Why couldn't I just have captured a whole host of pokémon like Lacey, who knew exactly what I meant, but I just needed to earn their respect? Instead I waited for the wingull to try and attack again, though this time I moved my arm enough so the blast of water smacked into the magnemite.

She hissed and buzzed in annoyance, flicking her wings and sending small water droplets spraying all over me. Finally she took off from my arm and flitted around in the air, hissing and clicking wildly at the pokémon.

"Good girl!" I cheered after her. "Now shock it!"

She buzzed something in reply and darted around in the air, taking a moment as the wingull soared in to peck at it. Once it was close enough, the magnemite let out a stream of electrical energy that zapped the creature senseless, and even from my position on the ground, I could smell the bird roasting.

The bird dropped to the floor, charred, smoking and strangely, cooked to perfection. I glanced towards it and saw that it wouldn't be getting up ever again. "So, anyone hungry?" I asked, wondering just what to do with the corpse. Xander croaked refusal, and Lacey turned her head away, though Loki happily leapt upon the corpse and dug into it, filling the air around us with the sounds of flesh being torn from bone, as well as the sounds of bone crunching under his teeth.

The magnemite flitted down to me again and buzzed happily. After I praised her, she seemed to fly higher in the air and then attached herself to my head, clicking happily all the while. I groaned at how over-affectionate she was, and hoped it wouldn't persist into when she was a magneton. Supporting a lightweight bug on my head was alright, but I knew once she evolved, her weight would increase tremendously, and she'd have to use electromagnetism to stay afloat. I doubted that I could support anything that weighed as much as a magneton on my head, or anywhere on my body, for that matter.

I knew that when the scientists first played around with magnemite, they were hoping for a more robotic breed of creatures – ones which could be tuned to follow their ideas, and then carry them out without any sort of emotion or free will. By those standards, my magnemite most definitely would have been seen as some sort of mistake. With the thought of her being an error in scientific experiments, as well as her ability to stop computers from working, I decided to name her Erra.

Of course, that was just one more thing to teach her.

It was only a few days later that we managed to arrive in Mauville. It was a brilliant industrial city, built up with countless buildings stretching up to the heavens above, and a great number of power lines were constantly pointed out by various signs, always with an additional note that the local council was getting round to repairing them.

It meant that with the exposed power lines, there was an abundance of electric pokémon flocking round the city. Every so often one would race past, leaving little static charges in its wake, and I'd often end up having to restrain Lacey from hunting it down and killing it.

"You can't go round killing things willy-nilly in a city, you realise?" I hissed at her, restraining her with a handful of her long white hair. She pulled her lip back into a snarl and I hastily released it, but kept my gaze serious. "People aren't going to condone what you do like me. They'll hunt you down and kill you and me for being your trainer."

She crossed her arms haughtily, seemingly disbelieving that any mere human could manage to kill her. Thankfully though, she seemed to understand my point, and I made her promise not to kill anything or anyone whilst we were within the city limits. I doubted somehow that she would adhere to it, but the fact that she gave me her word was something.

I just hoped that the journey I was taking her on would be interesting enough to convince her not to randomly kill for fun as much. I could overlook the odd kill here and there, provided that it was only a wild pokémon, or a person that no-one would ever miss.

Though her attention seemed more preoccupied on the fact that Erra was once again latched onto her, though this time the magnemite had nestled itself on Lacey's head, managing to somehow avoid getting tangled in her hair.

Lacey gave me a dirty look for laughing at her, but it wasn't enough to make me stop. At least it meant that the magnemite was just clingy towards everyone on my team, and not just me. Though I did lament the fact that I couldn't have a magnemite that was something like Lacey – in my mind, it would have made my plans all that more easy to carry out.

Though the thought of my plans made me realise I had yet to explain to Lacey exactly what it was I wanted to do on our journey. I gathered that she was only aware that we were travelling around collecting badges, like a typical trainer. I needed to explain to her that wasn't the case, though I also needed to choose somewhere in which I could explain it without people listening in. I doubted the pokémon centre had especially thick walls, and speaking my plans aloud in the town wasn't exactly going to ensure people would overhear. At the very least, I was convinced people would treat me as some sort of mental freak and call the police on me. At worst, I was afraid that they would lock me up and take away my pokémon, or that it would start the very thing I was meant to stop.

I decided not to debate it as I led her towards the pokémon centre, catching her still attempting to wrestle Erra from her out of the corner of my eye. I told her I needed to explain a few things to her after she'd been seen in the pokémon centre, and she gave me a slow, uncertain nod.

Though when I told her I was going to take her to a shooting range to let her practice using a gun, she nearly leapt into the air in joy.

Or rather, she looked like she would have, had she no self-righteous dignity installed into herself.

I found the pokémon centre in quick time and booked all my pokémon in to be checked over. Whilst they were being checked, I made certain to visit the local marts and stock up on everything I needed, predominantly of which, poké balls. It cut my remaining funds down to almost nothing, but at least I had twenty of the capsules in my bag, rather than the complete lack of them I had previously.

Though I doubted I was going to bump into another dratini at any point in the future.

In the mean time I also managed to find a local shooting range, as well as book myself a gym battle within a few days' time. I also found out that it specialised in electric types, so hoped that if I managed to talk to the leader for some time – or even a few people working in the gym – I could get someone in there to explain everything to me about Erra. I wanted to know why it was that she constantly latched onto either myself or my other pokémon.

I made way back to the centre afterwards and collected my pokémon, all fit and healthy, as the nurses told me. They were especially impressed that I had Loki and Lacey both trained and obedient in such a short time, and asked me how I managed to accomplish such a thing. I ended up simply telling them I didn't honestly know how, and something just seemed to clicked after a while.

The nurse seemed convinced by that story alone that somewhere along my lineage, I had to be partially dark adapted. I was impressed that she knew about it – as far as I had been aware until then, only people that were already related to a specialist, or were ones themselves, seemed to know. When I mentioned it to her, she told me that every medical professional had to know and understand it, in order to better make a prognosis on patients.

I'd honestly not ever truly considered it further than a passing mention to Ayde some time before that. I didn't dwell on it long as I thanked her and left the centre, and let out Xander by my side once more. He looked up at me and croaked, and then once more when Lacey appeared beside him. She gave him a minute nod and walked along side me, and for every one of our steps, Xander would have to hop twice after us.

A few people didn't seem too pleased that I had two pokémon out with me, though the majority didn't seem to mind, if only because they were both looked upon as widely non-dangerous pokémon. The thought of it made me laugh. If only they knew the truth about Lacey, I doubted they'd be too happy about me letting her live, let alone walk around with us.

Though I paid their silent criticisms no mind. Xander and Lacey were both grass pokémon, and I knew that they could help each other by just being around each other's presence. I'd seen Xander try and explain the basics of using sunlight to heal himself to her, and she seemed to be teaching him how to make the edges of the leaf on his head razor sharp for attack.

Alongside that, she seemed to be remarkably calmer around him. Loki seemed to bring out the manic and immature nature in all of my pokémon, whilst Xander himself seemed to calm them. By contrast, Lacey just seemed to manage to make them all act a little more sinister, whereas Erra didn't seem to affect any of the others at that point in time.

It was only then I started to realise how much other pokémon learned from each other, as well as from their trainers. Again I lamented the fact that I didn't have any more pokémon like Lacey – old enough to understand everything I taught them, yet still young enough to have plenty of years left in them, and still intelligent enough to learn.

Though I doubted my luck would ever let something like that happen to me.

It took roughly half an hour for me to reach the shooting range again, though this time I recalled Xander back into his poké ball. The people inside, however, found it incredibly strange that I was taking my pokémon with me, and then even more so when I told them that I wanted to teach Lacey how to fire a gun.

That was until one man laughed and spoke up on my behalf. He – quite curiously – was dressed in a three-piece dark grey suit with a pink shirt, and had short black hair that he spiked up. His eyes were a strange shade of grey, and he seemed to be no older than mid-thirties.

"It's not that uncommon to teach a pokémon how to use a gun," he said in a rusty Johto burr. "I've known a few people to do so – hell I even taught my hitmonlee how to do so!" He laughed once more and winked at me, and then stared back at the man behind the counter. "If you're out in the wilds, and your only companion is a physical fighter, you're both pretty damn screwed if you come across something that can kill you all from a distance. If you're unlucky enough to drop your gun, who knows how likely you are to reach it before the creature kills you."

I blinked at him, unaware that people other than me actually ever considered the idea. Though what he said made sense. I found myself filing away what the man said without ever really meaning to.

I nodded. "Besides, it's a good way to keep dark-minded pokémon under control," I said, tapping Lacey briefly on the shoulder. "They all kill things instinctively, and some even do so for fun. What better way to keep one under control than by teaching it new methods it can use?" I noticed people giving me wide eyed stares, and felt like I'd maybe said something I shouldn't have. "It's not like I'm going to let her go around killing things willy-nilly, but she seems to enjoy the fact she knows something other nuzleaf don't, and has a new way to kill something if the situation's reduced to life-or-death."

That seemed to win the argument, and they let me into the rifle range behind with no problems after that. I found my way to a small booth set out for us, and placed a set of goggles over my own face, motioning for Lacey to do the same.

Thankfully I'd been loaned one of the simplest forms of a gun to help teach Lacey with. I first began by teaching her how to flick the safety on and off, and although she seemed slightly annoyed at having to just learn how to make it safe and unsafe, she paid attention nonetheless.

Afterwards I explained to her how to hold the weapon, and made her put on the earmuffs before I fired it, hitting the target on the far side in its shoulder. She looked at me, nodded, and then tried to copy my stance. I shook my head at her and explained that she had to find a way that was comfortable for her to hold the gun, rather than copying what she'd seen. It took a moment, but when she was ready, she looked set to fire the gun.

When she did however, the bullet missed the target completely – which wasn't that surprising, considering everything – and she shrieked and dropped the still-smoking gun, cradling her wrist in pain.

I realised by those actions alone that nuzleaf had extremely weak wrists until the leaves fully grew out.

Atop of that, I also discovered that Lacey was left-handed.

She hissed at the gun, still cradling her wrist, and looked at me in obvious confusion. I picked up the gun and flipped the safety back on, and gave her a short shrug. "I didn't know you had weak wrists," I confessed. I pulled a face as I placed my hands on my hips and thought about it. "Obviously you need to strengthen them a bit to deal with the recoil, otherwise you're going to end up shattering your wrist bones."

She pulled a face at me and muttered something unintelligible. I grunted in confusion, and she lifted her arms up and shifted her eyes to her wrists, and then shrugged as if to say 'what do I do?'

I pulled a face and rubbed the back of my neck. "I'm not totally sure to be honest," I admitted to her. "But I'll find out what I can and help you. You kept up your side of the bargain up; I'll work on keeping up mine."

She folded her arms and nodded, though I could see the disappointment on her face. A moment later I saw her eyes glance down to the gun still in my hands, and then up to my face and towards the target at the end of the range again.

It took a moment, but eventually I cottoned on. "You want me to take a few shots?" I gathered. She growled a small reply, and I nodded and motioned for her to stand aside as I took my place. I waited until she placed on her goggles and earmuffs, and was a safe enough distance away, I aimed and squeezed off six rounds at the target.

Once I was done, I motioned for her to come a little closer, and she stood beside me, arms folded smugly as she glanced at the target. Four shots had hit it's torso – three around the heart, and one in it's stomach. Another shot had pierced the target's head, though one had missed the head by an inch. She took it all in and grunted something like a laugh as I moved the goggles onto my head.

"What?" I questioned defensively. "It's only in the movies that people are really likely to nail a target six out of six times in the face. I think the fact I only missed once is still pretty damn decent."

She laughed once more, and her eyes shot down to the holster on my leg, and then to the dogtags I wore around my neck.

"Yeah, I used to be a soldier," I said, catching onto what she was implying. "But that doesn't mean I'm going to be a perfect shot." I laughed and placed the gun down on the counter and switched the safety on. "That only happens with perfect characters in fiction, or people that have trained religiously for years of their lives. I'm neither."

Lacey simply rolled her eyes at me, disputing my claims.

"You're just jealous," I grunted, taking pleasure in the fact that I was right. She huffed once more, and I let the humour drop from the conversation. "Come on," I said to her, tapping her shoulder lightly. "We'll go out of the town's limits and get some training drills in. There's a few things I need to explain to you while we're out there."

She didn't seem fully convinced, but went along with it regardless. If nothing else, I could convince her for certain I wasn't a normal trainer – though I felt with my luck, she'd merely just assume I was nothing more than a raving lunatic.

Of course, were the roles reversed, I wouldn't have been able to blame her.

It was little over an hour later that I managed to find a small area to the north of Mauville that was large and secluded enough for my pokémon to train in. I set Xander and Loki to theirs first, and found that once again I had to pry Erra away from my arm once more before I could get her to do anything.

Once such an action was finally achieved, I sat down with Lacey and had her sit opposite me, her eyes lit up in genuine intrigue and wonder. I think she thought I was going to teach her a new method of killing things, as both times previous I had pulled her aside to teach her to use toxic poisons that she could naturally control, and then again to use a gun.

So instead of teaching her how to kill something, I more or less convinced her that I was crazy.

"There's a few things you need to know," I told her, keeping my voice low, paranoid someone was listening. "As you've probably guessed, I'm not exactly a normal sort of trainer. There's a reason for that," I added quickly as I saw her mouth crawl into a smirk. "I'm from the future."

Her reaction was exactly what I expected. She folded her arms across her chest and laughed at me, somewhat more than a snigger and yet less than a belly laugh.

"I can understand how ridiculous that sounds," I admitted as she stopped to wipe a small tear away from an eye. "But it's honestly true. I was born sixty-three years from now, and got warped back into this time in order to stop my future from ever happening."

It seemed to set her off again. I couldn't blame her – voicing the words aloud made it sound like I was the main character of a badly written film. I hated that my story was so unbelievable when there were various texts circling the world about how a celebi could travel through time, and even sometimes take someone or something with it. Hell, I was in a region where they believed there was a creature that would wake up every thousand years and grant wishes for a week. Why couldn't they believe time-travel was capable with a pokémon?

"I'm serious," I said, adamant in my cause. "I'm not making this sort of shit up – if I was, I'm lacking a considerable amount of imagination in order to make that sort of story up! I'd probably end up using some silly excuse like I was suffering from amnesia."

Lacey seemed to snigger at that, and it did nothing to stop me feeling stupid about my tale.

"Seriously," I growled at her. "It was a celebi that warped me back in time and made me do all this. You've lived in a forest, there had to be psychics in there. There had to be a celebi or something that visited. You must have heard something!"

She looked at me and tilted her head slightly. She seemed to consider it all a moment before something seemed to light up in her eyes. All of a sudden she pushed herself to her feet, whispered something and of all things, tapped me on the head.

I blinked, flabbergasted. She growled something as she walked off and began running back and forth between two fixed points, leaving me alone to watch as she ran her drills by her own free will.

I couldn't make sense of it. It seemed almost like... she pitied me.

That couldn't be right. In the space of a month, I'd gone from her hating me and wanting to let me die, to her looking out other me as a motherly figure, and now I had her pitying me of all things. It meant that either she knew exactly what I was talking about, and knew something that I didn't know myself yet. Or more likely, it meant that she didn't believe a word I said, and instead thought I was nothing more than a nutcase, lost in my own crazy world.

It was truly strange, and I spent the next few days just debilitating it in my head. Over the course of the days I would occasionally try to find out what provoked Lacey's actions, but each time she would shake her head with the same pitying expression and then turned to do something else.

Even Xander and Loki wouldn't help me get the answers out of her. Loki would just cackle and chatter something I couldn't understand before skulking off, whereas Xander would simply croak and shake his stubby head at me.

Whatever the reasons, I wasn't able to get them out of my pokémon.

Instead I found myself just training them for a few solid days, whether against other trainers, against wild pokémon or even just in their drills. Though my paranoia seemed to be escalating every time I felt slightly hot or slightly cold, and every time such a thing happened, I would release Lacey if she wasn't by my side already, and end up near enough cowering behind her.

I slowly began to realise that if she thought I was crazy, my behaviour wasn't exactly helping things.

About an hour before my gym battle, I found myself sat nearby the gym with my pokémon all out around me in a local park, and I was mentally going over what I could do. I knew that the gym specialised in electric types, given the shear abundance of them around town, and most notably, in the gym. I figured Lacey could resist it, Erra too, yet Loki and Xander were both less resistant to such elements.

I pulled a face and considered the thunderstone I still had in my bag. I figured that having it around should have exposed my pokémon to the radiation, and maybe in some way that prevented them from receiving electrical shocks or the like. It made me remember the fire stones, and just what they were doing to Loki. He'd eaten at least three of them as far as I could remember, and yet I hadn't seen a change in him, physically or otherwise.

I pried the thunderstone out of my bag and considered it as I turned it round in my hands. I could feel small sparks that felt like static coming off it, each and every one making my fingers twitch. I remembered how the fire stones gave off heat, and how Loki reacted when he consumed them. If thunderstones were capable of giving off electricity, fire stones heat, and as I'd seen from the water stones, they produced volumes of water, surely that meant they had to do something to pokémon.

I felt Erra buzzing on my arm more than I heard her. I could feel her wings beating more frantically as I continued to turn the stone in my hands, and felt her long, spindly legs begin to crawl down my arm, towards the stone.

"What are you doing?" I asked her as I swapped the stone to the other hand. I saw the greedy look in Loki's eyes I'd seen so many times before, though this time I saw it reflected in Erra's single orb.

I glanced down at Xander and saw that he was indifferent to it, and a brief look at Lacey told me she wasn't too bothered by it either.

"Do these do something else?" I asked her, still trying to move the stone away from Erra. "I mean, something aside from forcing evolution?"

She clicked her tongue at me, hissing something I couldn't understand. Instead I felt Erra's spindly legs crawling ever closer to me, and I tried to shake her away from the stone.

Instead she took flight, buzzing and flitting around us all. Small yellow sparks of electricity danced around her body, occasionally travelling up her wings and discharging harmlessly into the air.

"Erra, what's the fascination with this?" I asked her, attempting to move the stone from her sights.

Instead she buzzed once more, and with speed I didn't know she possessed, she raced forth and clamped herself down on my other arm. With nimble speed and precision she snatched the thunderstone from my hand, and flew out of my reach quickly afterwards, gnawing at the stone, even as it gave off small static charges.

Loki hissed and leapt after her, swiping madly at the air beneath her. I gathered that he was completely jealous, convinced that the stones were treats for him and him alone. He growled demonically and swiped at her again and again, even as she buzzed louder and louder.

Finally, when Erra had consumed the stone, her buzzing increased in volume. There was a bright, white flash of light, and I heard Loki shriek and dart back a couple of steps. As soon as the light cleared from my eyes, I saw the entire ground around Erra and where Loki stood scorched black, and more bright white sparks discharging from the flying creature.

I'd barely whispered a curse before my mind screamed at me to recall the pokémon into the safety of her ball. Thankfully my body seemed to be working leagues ahead of my mind, and she disappeared in bright red light before my very eyes.

"Eesh," I groaned, rolling my eyes and flopping back down on the bench. "Obviously they do something then," I whispered, unable to rip my eyes away from the blackened earth. Xander croaked once and drew me back to the real world, where I found my remaining three pokémon staring at me, and a few random strangers in the park giving me strange, fearful and distrusting looks.

I grunted a half-arsed sound at the people and recalled Xander and Loki back into their balls. I nodded at Lacey, and slowly she returned the gesture, unable to rip her own eyes away from the scorched earth. I got the feeling that she wanted to find out how to get the sort of power that Erra had just displayed. I didn't know whether or not she would be able to attain such power, though I knew it definitely wasn't a good idea.

Instead I just opted to head towards the gym, and hope that the leader could explain a few things to me.

The Mauville gym was extremely similar in design compared to the three others I had seen, though it had small windmills circling on the roof, and water wheels that obviously helped to generate electricity for the gym.

Inside there was a large room functioning as the reception, and a variety of people walked around with all varieties of electrical pokémon following around with them.

I walked up to the desk and announced myself to the receptionist, who looked at me with a conflicted frown.

"I'm sorry, but Leader Wattson is ill today," she explained, folding her hands over each other on the desk. "Unfortunately, he suffers from the risks that all trainers do. During his training yesterday, his electivire managed to break his arm. It was on the advice of the doctors that he rests for at least a week."

I felt my stomach fall and then flip. If he was ill, who was I meant to fight for the badge? Who would I convince of my strength so that when the time came – if it did – that I could call on them for backup?

The woman seemed to have an idea towards my inner plight as she offered a sympathetic smile. "We've got plenty of gym trainers on hand to cover for him, however," she explained diplomatically. "It's one of the reasons why the gym employs them, as among other responsibilities, they can cover for the leader in times when he or she is absent."

She smiled once more and spun around in her chair, facing the computer once more. "I can get you a battle with one of our trainers today, at the same time of your current appointment."

I debated it for a moment, even as Lacey croaked something and tried to nudge me forwards. It was obvious she wanted me to go for it, but I wasn't sure whether or not I should. I pulled a face and leant on the desk slightly. "If I fought a league trainer and earned the badge that way... would there be any... urm, like negatives towards that?" I groaned at the stupidity of my words and scratched my head. "What I mean is... say if I qualified for the league, and one of my badges was this one, earned by a gym trainer. Would that be looked upon as less?"

The receptionist smiled and brushed blonde hair from the black vest she wore. "It's amazing how little we actually get asked that question. Officially, no, you're not going to be looked down upon for getting a gym badge from a gym trainer, rather than a leader. On the other hand, other trainers may look down upon you, especially if they earned all their badges from the leaders."

It gave me something to consider. Officially, I wouldn't be seen as any less. Yet, unofficially, and between other trainers, I'd be seen as less just because I didn't beat the strongest trainer in a town. It meant if I ever needed to convince people to do something, I probably wouldn't have much of an influence as I could have otherwise.

In my mind, I needed the power to convince everyone. I knew I wouldn't be able to unless I could prove that I was powerful enough to swing things.

If nothing else, it was one of the few things that I predicted that actually turned out to be right, even if it was in a way I didn't expect.

"I'll wait until the gym leader's better again," I decided. "Though, can I still see a gym trainer anyway? I've got a few questions to ask about my magnemite – she's acting a bit strange."

The woman nodded and told me one would be along in a few minutes to talk to me.

True to her word, not two minutes later a brown haired man a few years older than me turned up and introduced himself as Erik. He led me into an office and sat down on the chair, gesturing for me to sit opposite. When I did he plastered on a grin and spun around in his chair with slight childish amusement. "So how can I help you?"

I felt myself sigh and realised how awkward my conversation was going to be. Beside me, Lacey croaked in distaste, annoyed that I was talking to someone, rather than fighting a battle against gym pokémon.

"My magnemite's acting a little strange," I confessed, folding my arms and gripping them apprehensively. "She's always been a bit clingy as long as I've known her – she's always latching onto one of us and refusing to move much."

Erik laughed and placed his hands behind his head. "Some pokémon are just like that. Some are clingy, some are loners. Some have even been known to treat their trainers as their children, and will attack anything that means them harm without mercy.

I nodded, understanding the information and filing it away. "That's not the extent of it though," I revealed, and subconsciously gripped my arms tighter. "I had a thunderstone earlier, and I was wondering what to do with it. Though Erra – my magnemite – she was out and managed to snatch it from me. Before her electricity wasn't ever much more than little yellow sparks or bolts, yet after that, she managed to make a fuck-off big blast that flashed bright white light and scorched the earth black around her."

The man nodded, placed a fist under his chin as he leant on the desk and grinned. "So you've found the secrets of the elemental stones," he said dramatically.

I arched an eyebrow at him, wondering why he used such a tone. "So what's this big secret?" I asked, leaning forwards in interest.

"There's hidden powers within each of the elemental stones," he explained to me. "Certain ones around certain pokémon, like your nuzleaf for instance-" he elaborated, gesturing towards Lacey, "-will make the pokémon evolve faster than it usually would. Though some people are finding out that the stones have other effects – when their ground up and fed to a pokémon, or even just fed to a pokémon, the pokémon can start to adjust to the element the stone possesses. If they're the same – like a fire pokémon consuming a fire stone – then said pokémon will find its abilities with its element have increased exponentially.

"What you've described sounds like an attack commonly known as thunder," he explained to me, crossing his own arms. "Usually it takes most electric pokémon, let alone any others, a lot of training to use and master it without using a thunderstone to boost their abilities. Though one's not going to be enough to make a pokémon have complete control – I can only guess and say it's given your pokémon a big power boost for some time."

I nodded. It made sense. If a fire pokémon ate charcoal, that would surely mean it's fire would increase in heat and power. If it ate a stone that gave off heat, as well as containing a fire within, surely that meant it would start producing much more potent flames.

Though one thing bugged me; "My sableye's ate at least three fire stones so far though, and I haven't seen any sort of change within him."

The man nodded and rubbed his chin. "Some pokémon don't adapt as well as others. Sableye can't naturally control flames, and take a lot of specialist training to even begin to use them effectively. Because of that, it can take a lot more than three to make your pokémon learn any fiery abilities."

I nodded along with his explanation. "Does the fact that I'm adjusted to ice pokémon delay that in anyway?" I asked him, hopeful he could help.

"It can do," he informed me. "Certain elements oppose each other. Like how it's easier to teach a fire pokémon fire attacks if you're adapted to fire, it can be harder to teach them to the opposite. For anyone that's electrically adapted, we find teaching our pokémon earth-based attacks to be extremely hard and complicated."

That answered a lot. Loki wasn't doing well with using the radiation from fire stones because I was adjusted to cold. I'd seen Xander learn how to use mist in record time – he'd mastered it already, and Lacey was still learning how to fully use her toxic poisoning technique. I began to wonder once more if my theories of myself being dark adapted too were true, though wanted to know how I could prove or disprove it. I hadn't tried to teach my pokémon any sort of insect or martial arts based moves, so couldn't establish based on that.

I groaned mentally and decided it was a debate for another day. Eric told me that all I needed for Erra to do was to burn off a bit of extra energy, and my best bet was to either have her latch onto the power lines around the city and let her deposit her excess electricity into them, as they had security measures in place to ensure wild pokémon couldn't overload them, or to have her discharge it all into a grounded pokémon.

I thanked him for all his help and set off out of the gym, already deciding what option to head for. I walked towards a nearby exit of the town and let Erra out, and made sure to instruct her to latch onto the power lines above us. She buzzed around me, discharging white static once again, though Lacey decided to jump in as translator when it was obvious my point wasn't coming across.

I watched as Erra flew up above us and latched onto the power lines, and I saw her light up briefly with brilliant electrical light. My heart froze at the sight, though I felt it beat anew as she detached herself from the power cables and buzzed around happily once more.

I watched her with a small smile on my face as she flew down to us again and landed once more on Lacey. The nuzleaf shrieked as stored up electrical energy discharged randomly into her, and I was just thankful Erra decided to latch onto her and not me. Not doubt if I received that shock, I would have been left fried and extra crispy on the floor.

Even though there was no gym battle, I felt that what I learnt made up for it, and wasn't sure if I would have been able to get such information if the gym leader was around, or even if I'd been able to win in a battle against the gym trainer. I decided it would have to be something I'd try again another time, just like the battle in Slateport. In the mean time, I needed to move on to the next town and figure out what I was going to do next.

At least, that was the original plan, until my phone went off. I half expected it to be Mia, laughing still about how she had stolen my shoelaces, and that she'd probably left them dangling from a branch that hung over the peak cliff edge of Mount Chimney or something equally as ridiculous.

Instead it was Adryan, and I found that a smile crept onto my face as I read it, and found that he'd finally left the Origin Cluster, and was on the way towards civilisation again. I told him that I was in Mauville, and that I could wait another day or two for him to turn up.

Imagine my surprise when he teleported in.

With a demon, no less.

Needless to say, the results weren't that pretty.

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