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.


55. Prelude of Ruin

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary ~ Steve Jobs


"What Man was not meant to have, he took. And when he took too much, the earth itself took back."

- Kai Ochre, founder of the Cult of Kyogre. (2675).


"So, you're finally here."

I had to pinch myself to let myself know I wasn't in some sort of nightmare. Even after that I did it again, then once more to be sure. Then I punched Gemini in the side and took a psychic blast to the head, all to make sure I wasn't dreaming it.

The way my brain screamed and my vision swam told me it definitely wasn't a dream.

I heard Gemini mutter something about only needing to have asked in my head. But I ignored it all as I focused on the ghost in front of me.

The same brown hair. The same dark green eyes and little purple piecing underneath her lip. Yet now a horrible burn scar ran down the right hand side of her face and disappeared below her jacket.

"B-but… you're dead," I blurted stupidly.

Gemini snorted by my side. [Clearly she is not. Unless we are both somehow seeing ghosts?]

I ignored the voice of the psychic giraffe and stared at the girl. She looked down at her spoink as it rolled around on the floor, oinking at something. All I knew about the pokémon were that they had to be constantly moving to keep their heart beating; hopping, which they were really known for just happened to make it beat so much they could rest for a little while and it would still continue frantically beating.

The psychic pig's lit up with a tiny bit of light. The girl winced and pressed a hand to the back of her head. I frowned and noted the information; she still wasn't used to telepathic conversations. Each one was still paining her. It would be useful to know.

The girl looked away from her pig, focused on me and drew her lips into a hard grin. "At least one of us is undamaged, by the looks of things."

I pointed to my head. "Brain tumour. Something powerful and psychic thought it would be fun to mess around with my brain."

She shrugged. "Can't say I'm that bothered by that. After this-" She pointed to her face, "-I'm a little less than worried about what happens to you."

I tried to feel sympathetic. I failed.

"I thought you were in on it with them. For all I know, you still are."

She turned away from me and looked at her spoink. It was rolling around in a puddle, coating itself in mud. It stayed on its back, waved its legs in the air like a little baby, complete with squeals, then rolled back over and started to bounce up and down in the mud.

"I never lied, you know?" She looked back up at me and slid her hands into the front of her hoodie. "Not completely, at least. You and I have a lot more in common that you'd think."

"What, are you from a desolate future where mankind is on the threat of extinction?"

She smirked. "Closer than you'd think. Did you always believe that I was there in Fallarbor just by mystical coincidence?"

"No. You pretty much admitted it the last time we spoke. Your boss meddled with psychic power and found out some things he needed. You were just part of the ploy. And now he's dead, while you somehow survived."

She traced two fingers down the scars on her face. "I didn't escape totally," she whispered. Almost suddenly she acted as if she'd never betrayed anything, like it was a weakness. "Besides, the one who meddled with the psychic? He's still alive."


"It's true." She reached up and started pulling thread out of the bottom of her hood's drawstrings. "Ben Tso was the leader of the gym. He was a lot of things, but he wasn't going to ever mess around with psychics. Being adapted to poisonous pokémon would likely just make his head explode if he did so. You never really listened to what I said before, when I almost slipped up and said his name. The one who fiddled around with psychic power – his name is Craig. Don't know his last name. All I know is that he disappeared quickly before you escaped. He must have known or something."

All the feelings I thought I'd managed to bury surfaced once more. I took a deep breath and tried to filter out the rage. Every time I'd let it in, something bad had always happened. I couldn't let something like that occur once more.

"So where is he then? I'll just search him out and find out just why he was helping those people."

She shrugged. "I don't know where he is. As for why he was helping them… originally, I know they started with good intentions. People like that guy you managed to escape with. They'd fallen through the cracks in the legal system, gotten off on technicalities, even though they were guilty. So the people in the gym, they'd kidnap them and imprison them, just like they deserved. I guess… I guess Ben got a little carried away with the power."

"That's the excuse? He got a little carried away with power? And I'm supposed to take your word that you're telling the truth?"

[She is telling the truth.]

"Shut up, Gemini." I glowered at her with enough force to make her burst into flames.

Instead she shrugged and sat down on the floor. [I am merely trying to help.]

"Psychics can be annoying, can't they?" the girl said. "I thought I could stay away from pokémon and escape everything, but well… I guess I ended up taking your advice. If the future needs changing, I need to help, don't I? Kind of hard without a pokémon though."

"So what am I supposed to do, congratulate you?" I laughed and turned away. "Well good for you. I'm done with this. I have things to do and pokémon to kill. Come on Gemini."

I threw a glance back at the girl as I walked away. She watched me leave, shrugged and began to play with her spoink. I frowned and looked away from her, this time using the signposts to lead myself out of town and back into the forests near Fortree.

[She did not lie.]

"I don't need to hear that, Gemini." I watched the road and pointedly took the route I knew would lead me towards Mount Pyre. I'd have to get a boat there, which meant I'd probably have to wait around for a while to get one.

[You should stop trying to think about other things, you realise?] Gemini cantered to stop in front of me and pointedly sat down. [Some things should not be taken as light coincidence. You found yourself strangely drawn there, to this woman. Something obviously is manipulating you.]

I pulled my collar up and hid my head as much as I could with it. "I don't… thinking about stuff like that freaks me out. If something's able to do that… just, let's not have this discussion, alright?" I said as I moved to walk past her.

She shrugged. [As you wish. The other did not like hearing this, either.]

I stopped so suddenly I nearly fell over. "'Other'? What 'other'?"

[The human my foal travelled alongside.] She stood back up and walked away.

"Wait, wait, wait, wait," I said quickly as I chased after her. She stopped as I put a hand on her flank, just out of reach of her biting tail. "You can't just drop that bombshell and walk away from me."

[I believe I just did.]

"Gemini!" I grabbed some of her fur and pulled before she could walk away again. "You say we need to work together? Then why don't you ever tell me what you really know?"

[Because a lot of what I know, you would not be able to cope with.] She sighed and flicked her ears. [This matter will not be dropped, will it? Very well. The other traversed this path too. He was rife with indecision as whether or not to complete what he thought was the noble cause. He did not receive a tumour, to the best of my knowledge, but he did experience similar things to which those you are going through. Emotional swings and unnatural subconscious decisions.]

I was practically bouncing up and down as I waited for her to continue. "And? What else?"

[The Celebi killed him.]

"Oh," I said, deflating. "There's got to be more that you can tell me than that? How'd he die?"

[You don't want to know.]

"But why did he get killed?" I had to stop myself from strangling her to get my answers. "Why the hell would the celebi suddenly decide to kill him? Wasn't he trying to change the future, just like it wanted?"

[I don't know the creature's motives.] Her tail snapped at me again. I backed off and watched it warily, feeling the increased aggression. [I can only speculate. Unless we meet the creature and ask it, you shall just be left there to think about it all.]

"And are we ever going to meet it?"

[How should I know?]

I felt my hands tighten into fists. "Oh, come on! You're psychic! You can see the damn future! Tell me whether or not you can see us ever meeting it."

Her face remained flat. Finally she snorted and turned her head away. [The future is not one simple path. It is like a spider's web – one thing leads into a layer from which many choices are available, all the while getting smaller and smaller, until you reach the centre, where only one course of action can be taken. When you ask me to view the future, you ask me to see millions of possible futures all at once, then attempt to process it into something logical. Why do you think it takes so much strain on the brain for humans to do so?]

I bit my lip and turned away. "Alright then. So it's hard. I've gathered that much. But is there nothing you can tell me?"

[If we ever meet it… the chances of surviving are almost nothing.]

She walked past me as my fists uncurled and I slid them into my pockets. "I guess you were right," I said after her, to the empty air. "I really didn't like hearing that."

It was a short while later that the boat arrived. I decided to ride it all the way to Slateport – I didn't want to stop in the mountain of memorials. I wanted to sort a few things out first. If we very well going to meet the celebi and not walk away from it, I wanted to be able to go to my end without wishing I'd done something else differently. Too many past decisions were already resting on my shoulders.

I'd take the train from Slateport up to Lavaridge and try to settle things with Adryan. Then I'd go back to where I first turned up in this world, or as near as I could find. Maybe that would help me figure out just where the hell the time traveller was.

I leant against the railings on the top deck of the ship and watched the sea part before us. Gemini stood next to me in silence, betraying none of her thoughts. I sighed to myself, found a poké ball and let out Lacey to join us.

The shiftry instantly spread her arms and embraced the wind. I wanted to laugh to myself, imagining clichéd romantic music and for some big grass pokémon to come up behind her and hug , her eyes narrowed and she slapped me round the head.

"Ow! Hey, what was that for!"

She rolled her eyes pointedly, as if to say I knew very well. She leapt atop one of the railings, balancing deftly and embraced the wind, but something made her nearly fall back to the deck in surprise.

She collected herself quickly, glanced at Gemini, eyes wide and then grabbed my head, seemingly trying to see through the skin and into my brain.

Then again, she hit me, this time a lot harder.

"Hey!" I shouted at her. "This isn't some sort of abuse-your-trainer cruise! I wasn't even thinking about anything then!"

She growled something I didn't understand. When she realised that, she pointed to Gemini, then to her head and mimed something growing out of her skull.

I didn't have to guess what she was talking about. "How the hell are you guys even figuring this out? Psychics, I can understand. But you and Scar? Do pokémon have some sort of sixth sense for this sort of thing?"

She shrugged then growled something at me again. Gemini sighed at my confusion and translated, [She wishes to know what did this to you. She does not believe what I have already told her.]

"Wish I knew," I said. "I never saw it. All I ever saw were these two glowing purple eyes."

Lacey's eyes widened then narrowed instantly. She hissed something to herself, slapped me round the head again and stalked off along the deck.

"You don't think she's going to kill something, do you?" I asked Gemini nervously. I couldn't afford to have her murdering random pokémon or people in a place we couldn't leave at any time.

Then I heard the shouts.

"Hey! Hey, you crazy-ass shiftry! Put her down!"

I felt cold inside all of a sudden. I raced towards the source of the noise to find a large crowd gathering, in the middle of which was Lacey.

She glared at them all, swung a leafy hand and created a gust of wind that sent most of them flying. She caught sight of me and I saw just what she was holding in her other hand.

The espeon shrieked at her, trying in vain to claw or to bite her as she held it up by its tail. Lacey sneered at it, yanked it up into the air and stalked towards me. She dropped the mewling creature in a heap by my feet and pointed to her eyes, then to those on the pokémon.

The espeon hissed again, eyes shining purple.

I looked at it, felt a pang of fear at the sight, but then logic kicked in. "That's not what did it," I told her. She seemed to raise an eyebrow at me. I shook my head and pointed to the pokémon that will still hissing, ears pinned back and eyes still shining purple. "It's eyes are too small. And besides, the ones that I saw? They were just above my own head. No way something like that could be that tall."

Lacey took another glance at the pokémon and shrugged. The espeon hissed and tried to slice at her with its claws. Lacey just stepped over it and kicked it, knocking it into the air and sending it flying into its shouting trainer.

I buried my face in a hand and turned away from the irate crowd. "This is why we can't ever go anywhere public."

Apparently that wasn't enough to sate them. I heard the sound of a pokémon being returned just before, "Hey, you with the insane shiftry!"

I rolled my eyes and turned back round to face him. He was a little taller than me, but younger. More than that, he seemed confident with a crowd of people watching, seemingly all on his side.

"Can't you control that cra-azy thing?" His voice broke as he screamed at me, making me want to laugh at him more than fear him.

I sighed, shrugged lazily and looked at Lacey. "She does what she wants, within reason. If anything, shouldn't you be looking at yourself? Your espeon didn't even know how to defend itself against a dark pokémon."

His face burnt bright red. The crowd were murmuring between themselves, most of them against me, a few pointing out that I was right.

I turned away, only for him to squeakily shout, "I dema-and a battle!"

"Whatever," I grunted. I didn't have time for it and didn't care. My best guess was that there was about another twenty minutes until the boat pulled up at Mount Pyre. If I was lucky, he'd be leaving there.

"You can't walk away from a battle challenge!" he shouted after me. Honestly, I was more tempted to let Lacey just fling him overboard. She caught my eye and silently asked if she should do just that. I quickly shook my head.

"Fine, whatever," I sighed. I knew it could go one of two ways; I'd win, or I'd lose. I couldn't tell either way, he was younger than me, but he could probably be stronger. I'd only been training for the better part of eight or nine months, after all. Cold indifference mixed with a little bit of arrogance seemed to be enough to make people think I was a lot stronger than I was, coupled with my age.

"How many badges do you have?" he asked, hand hovering over the poké balls on his belt.

I felt the façade crack a little and the tips of my ears heat up. Nowhere near as many as my demeanour would make anyone think. "Three," I admitted.

He laughed, as did a few people in the crowd. The tips of my ears and my cheeks were really burning, but I tried my best to stuff it all away. I was stronger than that, I'd just merely given up on getting badges for a better cause.

"No wonder why you can't control that beast," he said, quiet enough so that I only just heard him. "This'll be easy then." He threw out his poké ball and out popped a heracross. It growled, flexed its arms and wings erupted from its back, taking it a couple of feet into the air.

I managed to suppress a wince. Not good. I was about to call Lacey back when she stood in front of me, smirked at the heracross and growled something at it. The bug screeched and dove at her recklessly. She smirked, ducked out of its way and grabbed it as it soared past her. She pinned it down under one foot, grabbed it by the horn and one of its wings, spun around on the spot and threw it spinning overboard.

Watching it alone was enough to make me feel dizzy. The bug finally righted itself before it splashed into the sea, growled something and tried to zoom in for another attack. Lacey just rolled her eyes, drew her arms back and flung them forwards, creating a strong enough breeze that a few people fell over and the pokémon tumbled uselessly through the air.

The trainer frowned as he recalled it, paler than before. "Lucky start," he growled. He threw down another pokémon, this time a houndroom. It sat on its haunches, threw back its head and howled hauntingly enough to make a shiver go down my spine.

I called Lacey back and searched for another pokémon. I tossed out Erra and watched her take to the sky, clicking and hissing as she circled the pokémon.

The trainer seemed to smirk. He said something about typing and rookie mistakes before he ordered his houndoom to barbeque Erra. Instead, she latched onto its muzzle and shocked it before it could breathe anything. It whined in pain, blew out a tiny ember through its nose and tried to bat Erra from its face. She hissed, bit it on the nose, tore out a little chunk of flesh and shocked it again. The thing howled, bayed and finally just fell to the floor, twitching occasionally.

As soon as the trainer recalled the pokémon, Erra took off into the sky and latched onto Lacey's head. The shiftry hissed, tried to bat at her but couldn't quite reach. Erra growled something like a laugh and scuttled through Lacey's hair, occasionally discharging little sparks of electricity. I looked at them both, sighed and turned back to the other trainer. "Happy now?"

He frowned and pulled three poké balls into his hand at once. "How the hell?" he asked. I was unsure of whether he was talking to me or himself more.

I went to get another poké ball when someone in the crowd shouted, "Are you really that stupid?"

I looked round to hit the person that threw out the insult. Everyone else was looking at her, yet she was looking at the trainer I was fighting. "Can you honestly control three pokémon at once?"

He flushed, let his hands drop by his side and shook his head. Then he looked back up and pointed at me. "B-but, he only has three badges! I've got eight! His pokémon shouldn't be that strong!"

I smirked, recalled Lacey and Erra and patted Gemini on the side. No point completely ruining his day, after all. "I used to be a gym trainer," I told him. "And badges aren't the only measure of strength."

He frowned, muttered something to himself and stuffed his poké balls back into a pocket. He stormed up to me, pressed some money into my chest and took off before I'd even fully taken it from him. The crowd dispersed slowly after that, leaving just Gemini and I there.

And strangely enough, the girl who'd spoken out against the other trainer.

She looked at me, smiled and walked towards the rails. "Nice battle, by the way," she shouted back.

I shrugged and walked up to stand next to her. "Thanks… I guess." I looked at her and frowned. Something about her seemed familiar. She had brown hair, but it was mostly covered by a big baseball cap. A pair of lightly shaded glasses covered her eyes and she stood just a few inches shorter than me. "Have I… have I seen you before somewhere?"

She shrugged and smiled out to the ocean. "Maybe. Your pokémon are strong. You really used to work as a gym trainer?"

"For a little while, yeah. What about you?"

She smiled and waved a hand in a circle. "I'm still coming into my stride."

Gemini walked up to me, sat down next to me and stared the girl in the face. She turned away quickly, but Gemini followed her, glaring into her eyes all the while. I tried to pull her away, yet still the pokémon remained focused on the girl.

Finally Gemini looked away from her and to me. [She wields an interesting trick.]

"Huh?" I said stupidly.

The girl glanced at me nervously as Gemini flicked an ear. [A trick. Look for something familiar. Then you shall understand.]

I blinked, confused. I looked over the girl again and knew that she felt familiar somehow. But nothing came to mind.

"What's wrong?" the girl asked, reaching up to spin her necklace between her fingers.

The flash of light caught my eyes and I saw the necklace – a little purple pendant of a spoink's face. I frowned, wondered just where I'd seen something like that before, then it all clicked into place.

The girl before me seemed to flicker, the real image beneath it. I saw a familiar hat, burn scars and a pokémon sat atop her shoulders. It flicked again and I rubbed my eyes, wondering if what I saw was real.

When I opened them again, I couldn't not see the little pendant. The girl before me kept flickering, like two people were there at once, yet at the same time neither was actually there.

"What the hell is this?"

She frowned, sighed and spun the little pendant. "Guess you're smarter than I thought." The vision of her seemed to evaporate, leaving behind the familiar girl in its wake. The spoink on her shoulders oinked, scrambled for purchase on her head and then bounced off, almost like she were a springboard above a pool. It squealed on the floor, rolled over and started climbing up her jeans to do it all again.

"B-but… what? How?" I stuttered.

She smiled and leant back against the railing. "A little psychic trick. Gardevoir and their families can do it, right? That's how they appear so human. I figured if they can do that, why can't most psychics? It took a little while training, but it looks like we got it down completely."

I was lost for words. I wanted to ask her just how the hell she managed to do that and whether or not she could teach me. Instead all I came out with was, "What the hell are you doing here?"

"A rain dance," she deadpanned. "I'm riding on a boat. Is that a crime now?"

"It is if you're stalking me."

She rolled her eyes. "And just why would I be doing that?"

I shrugged, leant on the railing with my elbows and stared out to see. "I don't know. Maybe something to do with revenge? You being civil even now is more than a little bit unnerving."

She smirked. "Really? Good to know." She ran a hand across her scars and sighed. "Revenge… it's a bit far from my mind, to be honest. Before, I was always freaking out because of who I was with. It wasn't who I am and I wasn't happy with what I'm doing. I've gotten out of that now and if I have to have these scars to be free, well then, I guess I can accept that."

Then she kicked me hard in the shin.

"Of course, I'm still pissed about it, so don't think you've gotten away with it."

I cursed and rubbed my injured leg, concerned about what the hell she was hiding in her shoes to kick so hard. "So why the hell are you even here then?" I asked her.

She clasped her hands together and leant them on her stomach. "Just, some things really. You know I really was planning to help you escape that day. When I came into your cell, then you knocked me out and left me for dead."

I shrugged. I couldn't honestly bring myself to care. I thought she was trying to trick me and I acted on instinct. Better her than me, anyhow.

"I didn't know. I didn't trust you. What was I meant to do? Go along with you to what I thought was a trap?"

She chuckled to herself. "When you put it like that; yeah, you've got a point. I acted a bit quickly, but I thought it was for the best." She sighed. "What's done is done. I don't care anymore. But more than that, there's something else as well. I wasn't completely lying when I first met you. There were a few details that were… embellished, but the main one was always true.

"I got brought here by a celebi too."

I nearly choked on my own spit. "You've got to be kidding me."

She smirked. "If only it were a joke. Nope, one of those little time imps brought me here and now."

"I-impossible," I spluttered. "Why, why the hell would they choose you?"

"Why would they choose you?" she shot back.

I pushed off the railing and paced back and forth, round Gemini, who still sat there quietly. "This is mad. It's just… insane. What future are you from? I mean, how far ahead?"

She turned away. "It doesn't matter now. I'm here, aren't I?"

There were too many questions running around in my head. Too little time to wait around and asked them all. "So what were you trying to do then?"

She was quiet for a long moment, almost like she hadn't heard me. Then she turned back to me, met my eyes and looked down at the floor. "Ever heard of the GS Ball?"

I could honestly say I hadn't. "No. What is that? Some kind of uber, catch all pokémon poké ball?"

"Something like that." She pulled the sleeves of her hoodie over her hands and played with the ends, fraying them. "It's passed a few hands. Last person that was meant to have it was some professor in the Orange Islands. But the people that were meant to be delivering it were all killed. Everything on them was taken and they were left stripped in the Orange tropics.

"Someone had the GS Ball and control over what was locked away inside."

I took a step closer. "But what was inside then? Something powerful, otherwise they wouldn't have killed to get at it."

"It was powerful alright." She smiled a little, then quickly it was gone. "Big, powerful and something that was captured for what I'm guessing was a really, really good reason."

"So then where's this whole story going? Did you find it or something? Pass it onto someone and let them open it?"

She opened a thread on her sleeve and pulled at it. "Something like that. I take it you know about everything that happened with the poké balls a while back?"

I nodded. "They all stopped working, didn't they? Then just as suddenly they started working again. What caused that?"


I stared at her a moment, taken aback. "You?" I asked, gobsmacked. "But that's… how did you, on your own, manage to do that?"

"I wasn't on my own," she said with a shrug. "I knew about where I needed to go, what needed to be done. When I got brought here, I got told everything I needed to know."

That was new to me. "You… you got told? By who?"

She gave me a flat look. "By the celebi that brought me here, who else?"

And just like that, I was lost again. "But, what? I never got that."

Her eyes widened. "Really? That's new. I would have thought you'd be told what you needed to do. What's the point in bringing you here if you didn't know the game plan they had planned for you?"

I looked to Gemini for help. Instead I felt her curiosity needle into my brain, almost as if she were searching for an answer I didn't quite know myself.

"I… but wait. I'm just confused now. When I got here, I passed out pretty much instantly afterwards. Then I woke up in this house and this woman said that she'd been conversing with the thing and my entire goal was to help save the world."

The girl laughed. "Save the world? Gee, I feel really unimportant now. All I had to do was break into a big secure building and bypass the security measures of a number of systems to make all the poké ball systems fail. But saving the entire world? Good luck there."

"I'm still confused," I said. "How comes you got everything explained to you, while I just got a housewife tell me I need to save the world?"

"Can't say I know," she said. "Maybe there's a reason behind all that. Like it's one of those things that can't be just outright explained."

"Maybe," I said with a shrug. "So what was in this poké ball then? The one that you had to go to such great lengths to release?"

She turned away again. "Something powerful. That's why it took taking down the entire poké ball network to try and let it out. I know that someone else had it and took that opportunity to let it out."

"So all of that to let it out." I folded my arms, getting impatient. "What was in it then?"

"The Celebi."

"Celebi?" My mouth nearly fell open in shock. "As in the thing that brought us both here?"

She shook her head. "Not that one. The Celebi. As in, the original one. The first one that was created. It got sealed away in that poké ball and for some odd reason."

"So what's the point of having that celebi out then? Surely there's got to be a big plan behind it?"

"I don't know. I completed what I needed to do." She flicked a little necklace with what seemed to be just a blank face hanging from it. Her spoink bounced up next to her, bouncing up and down and grabbing at her belt, trying to pull itself back up. "Now it's just a matter of finding the one that brought me here in the first place."

I was intrigued. If she had an idea, I wanted to be part of it. "How're you planning on doing that then? You've got a good idea for it, I take it?"

She smirked ominously. "Something like that."

Her spoink leapt up, grabbed her hand and then in a flash of light they both vanished. I leapt around, more afraid than nervous. Nothing good was going to come of her sudden vanishing act.

[Down!] Gemini screamed into my brain.

There was noise like air being fired out of a blow dart. Gemini yelped, staggered on her feet and collapsed onto the floor. I caught sight of a big dart sticking out of the back of her neck and went to take it out.

Then something like an insect bite slapped me in the back of my neck. I grabbed at it, found a dart sticking out of there too and felt panic set in before black swam in the edges of my vision.

Just before I passed out, I heard someone land on the deck beside me and say, "Looks like we got the bastard that killed Aaron."

Waking up was difficult. It was like fighting against my entire body, not just my eyelids and my limbs. When I finally stirred, my head swam and bounced with every sound, like a hangover but without the fun of drinking to obtain it.

I groaned and tried to move my arms, only to find they were tied behind my back to a chair. At least my legs were still free.

I opened my eyes and found myself in what seemed to be an interrogation room. I was sat behind a desk, with two chairs on the other side and a big mirror hanging from the wall.

It seemed the police had finally caught up with me.

"I really get knocked out far too often," I grunted as I tried to move my hands. Nothing. Whoever had handcuffed me made sure that I wasn't going to be escaping anytime soon. I wasn't sure whether I was pleased with that or not. I'd spent far too much time escaping from places and leaving a hefty body count. Maybe it was best that I couldn't escape from this place.

I sighed to myself and stared up at the ceiling. There was nothing there but little spots. I was bored, tied to a chair and could tell just by the lack of weight alone that my stuff had been taken.

I wondered where my pokémon were. Probably hidden away somewhere, left in a draw and waiting to be given to better homes or something. If so, that meant they'd likely do away with any of them that might be too threatening for other people to use.

So really, I had to escape, if only to make sure Lacey could live on. Most likely Scar too, as well as Loki. But after everything, I wasn't sure if I wanted to. I'd been brought to the past and left for dead by the celebi, while that girl had everything explained to her and her whole goal given to her on a plate.

I told myself it was because I was only the second choice. As if it would have time to explain everything to me then.

A little part of me asked the question, are you sure?

It was the first niggle of doubt I'd had about the whole thing. From what I'd learnt about the entire species, celebi were ones who had to make little changes in the timeline, to make sure it remained balanced. Everything was always planned out, wasn't it?

I started to wonder if I was actually the second chance after all. What if the celebi had planned for Alex to die that day? What if it knew I'd follow him and it was all a ruse to get me close enough to kidnap me?

Yeah right, I told myself. Alex trained as a medic – he wanted to help people. I was trained to kill them. He would be the one that wanted to help save the world, I just did it because I thought it was my duty, my purpose as a tool.

I glanced at the mirror and saw no movement behind it. Nor could I outside the door. I figured they weren't coming for me anytime soon. I had no idea how I was so calm. Maybe it was more resignation. I was resigned to the fact that somehow, the celebi had screwed up everything for me. Maybe I was just a distraction? Something to draw all of the enemy's attention while the real hope snuck in and sabotaged everything? Or saved everything. Whatever the case was, I was starting to actually take my time to think about everything.

I wondered what had caused the girl to set me up like that. She'd said something about finding the celebi. How would revealing me to the police help that?

I couldn't figure it out.

Instead, with nothing else to do, I stared up at the ceiling and started to count the little black spots.

I'd gotten to three hundred and sixteen when the door opened and two people walked through.

They were… ordinary. Faces you'd see in a crowd and then forget instantly. One was tall, hairline receding and with thin, angry black eyebrows. His nose was a little crooked and a pair of circled glasses sat atop his nose, making his brown eyes appear huge. The other was shorter, wider and with grey hair and eyebrows, a fat wide nose and a mouth like he was chewing on a beedrill.

Short sat down whilst tall stood up and leant against the wall by the door. They looked at me, glowered for a split second and hid it all behind a mask of stoicism.

"We have your pokémon," tall told me. "They'll be held until further notice. What happens to them is up to you. They'll either be released into the wild, given to trainers to care for them or put down."

I'd already considered all of that. Besides, I had a feeling that they'd realise just what was going on and manage to escape. Gemini would probably teleport out by herself. Alistair would likely try and bring the others with him. Loki would hide in the shadows and just terrorise everyone until he got bored, while Erra might freak and flee through panic. Only Scar and Lacey would try and fight their way out, but I honestly had no idea how well either would do.

I said nothing. Cockiness didn't seem like it would help me there. Neither did fear. I'd done what they were accusing me of, but I didn't want to let them know that.

Short frowned and placed a folder on the table between us. He slid it towards me and said, "Take a look inside."

I raised an eyebrow. "My hands are tied. I can't open it."

He frowned again and shot a look at tall. Tall rolled his eyes, walked over to me and unlocked the handcuffs. I drew my hands in, rubbed my wrists and tried to figure a quick way out. They could both take me, easily. I knew that. And fighting my way out was out of the question. I'd be dead within a minute. I just had to play along until there was an opportunity for escape.

I flicked open the folder and found my handiwork staring up at me in photograph form. Pictures of Aaron's body, left to rot in the Petalburg Woods and found by scavengers before someone had come across him. If I'd been lucky, it would have taken maybe another week before his body had been stripped clean.

I bit the inside of my cheek and tried my best to look confused. "I thought the news said that his death was accidental though?"

Tall slapped a hand down on the table. "That's bull and we all know it. An experienced trainer like him? An Elite? He wouldn't have been stupid enough to ingest something that's known to cause swellings of the respiratory tract."

I played dumb. "The re-what now?"

Short frowned again. It was like his favourite expression. "His nose, mouth and tongue, in addition to his lungs and airways. Toxicology says that he ingested it. What would cause that?"

I shrugged. "Eating it?"

"It was in the form of liquid," Tall said. "And his body was conveniently missing all his money. More than that, he'd been moved. We found footprints around his body – human and those of a pokémon. A nuzleaf. According to our reports, you used to have a nuzleaf."

"She's a shiftry now," I said.

"And where did you catch this pokémon?" asked Tall.

I couldn't lie about that. All the pokémon centres and gyms had records enough to know when I'd caught her. Even my pokédex would likely have the date it happened. "In the Petalburg woods."

"So you're saying that you caught your shiftry in the Petalburg Woods, where Aaron was found murdered, with footprints belong to a nuzleaf by his body?" Tall's face was contorted in disbelief. "We know that your shiftry was a nuzleaf when you caught her. What are the chances that your shoes will match the imprints we took from the scene?"

Pretty impossible, considering I'm wearing a different pair and those went boom in that Fallarbor gym.

"I'd be surprised if they did," I said. "Why would I kill him? I've got no motive for that. And I don't know enough about plants to know what could kill someone. And anyway, aren't you both meant to tell me just who you are before you start questioning me?"

Short smiled. "Normally, yes. But you see, we don't exist. We work outside of the law to enforce it, to do what needs doing. If you're innocent, you won't remember this conversation. If you're guilty, then you won't be alive to tell anyone else."

Well, those choices sucked.

"Tell us about Celebi," Tall said.

I looked at him, blinked and tried to stay innocent a bit longer. "That pokémon that's meant to travel through time?"

"That one," he said, face blank.

"I could only tell you what I've read."

"Really?" It was Short who spoke. "Then kindly tell us why someone reported in that you were in contact with it. Tell us why we keep coming back to you when we investigate people that seem to have some connection to this creature. Is it a cult? Maybe even a religion that you're a part of?"

That well and truly lost me. "I have no idea what you're talking about."

Tall produced a folder from inside a pocket. He laid it down on the desk before me, opened it and showed me a list of names. "These are people we know to have been in contact with it. Do you know what they've all got in common?"

I shrugged. "They're all on this list."

"They're all dead."

Well, that was something. I looked closer at the list and tried to see anyone I would know. There was a long list of names, but sure enough, right near the bottom I saw one that was familiar.

Jennifer Hale.

That was unexpected.

"How can you be sure these people ever had contact with one of those pokémon?" I asked.

"It's our job," Short said. "And we need to know about you and your connection to these people. We inspected your phone records. We know you had contact with Jennifer Hale. Her daughter, Erica as well. Do you know where Erica is?"

"Erica's missing?" I had no idea about that. "But, how? I know she's a trainer, at least I mean, I think she is. What do you mean she's missing?"

"Missing, as in cannot be found," Tall deadpanned. "She's disappeared off the face of the earth, shortly after we brought in a few people that managed to link her to everything. Care to offer an explanation of why this is?"

I shrugged. Nothing I could say. I was happy she'd gotten away though, if she'd gotten away.

Short flipped through the folder and showed me a medical report. "This is from Jennifer Hale's autopsy report. The coroner found that it was a psychic induced tumour that killed her. Do you know anything about this?"

I nodded slowly. "She mentioned to me a while ago about it. She didn't say what caused it or why she'd done it, just that she had it and she was dying."

Tall pulled out a seat, sat down and leant back, linking his fingers and leaning them on his stomach. "What would you say if we told you a Celebi had caused that?"


That smiled and leant forwards. "Tests results showed that only something as strong as a Celebi – a legendary pokémon – had caused that."

My hands were shaking as I pulled the paper towards me and tried to read it. "H-how… how would you even know that? Wouldn't you need something to compare it to or something?"

"That brings us to our next point," Short said, leaning forward. "We had in our custody a special object. A poké ball. The top half was made of gold, the bottom silver."

Gold and silver. GS. I tried to keep my face emotionless.

"Two weeks ago it was stolen from our highest security vaults. No pokémon can teleport in, nothing can even get within a hundred feet of it without fifteen different systems being alerted. Yet somehow it disappeared."

The shock of it all made me laugh. The time imp had everything planned out well, it seemed. "And you think I did that? I got knocked out by your team without even having a chance to defend myself. You'd think if I managed to do anything of what you're accusing me of, I'd have at least managed to realise someone was trying to attack me."

They both frowned at once. I smiled inwardly, hoping they'd overestimate me, or at least, the person they thought they were after.

Then I realised a key thing I'd overlooked. "So you can tell what pokémon caused a tumour just by analysing it?"

Short's face turned into a stone wall, but Tall frowned a little bit more. "Yes. Why?"

I bit my lip. I didn't want to risk anything, but it was too good an opportunity to waste. "Something gave me one," I told them. "I don't know how. All I remember is being knocked out after seeing a pair of purple eyes, then when I woke up, my pokémon told me I had one growing on my brain."

"If this is true," Tall said, leaning forwards. "Then why haven't you sought medical help?"

"Who'd believe me?" I grunted. "It's commonly accepted that people only get them when they consciously interfere, isn't it? Me getting one forced on me is something that they'd never believe. I didn't want to be just turned away because someone didn't believe me."

Short shared a look with Tall. They got up and left the room, returning almost seconds later with a hypno. It shuffled in after them, bags under its eyes and slowly spinning a little pendant before its own face. They pointed to me and the hypno shuffled forwards to stare straight into my eyes.

It brought the little pendant up and spun it round in front of me. I knew tales about them and their hypnotic powers. I wanted to look away, or better yet, to punch it in the face and flee. But I couldn't, just because that would probably lead me to being shot by these two policemen or whatever they were.

The hypno whispered something and grabbed a side of my head with its hand. Its eyes shone blue as the pendant swung before my eyes, distracting me from whatever it was doing.

Even once it turned away, I could still see the charm swinging in front of me, though I knew it to be clutched in the hypno's hand. It said something to the two people. Their faces fell open in shock and as one they glanced at me. Tall said something to the hypno and the spinning charm in my eyes seemed to wobble until the strongest urge to sleep I'd felt in a long while overtook me.

When I woke back up, I was moving.

Or more, I was being moved.

I was in a car. My hands were handcuffed in front of me and another one linked my wrist to the car door. I glanced around, but everything I saw was black. It took me a good moment to realise I'd been blindfolded.

"Sit still." It was Tall. He sounded like he was next to me, but I couldn't be sure. He sighed and I felt someone pull my blindfold, making sure it was over my eyes. "We'll take your blindfold off when we get there."

"Get where?" I asked. No one answered me. "Get where? What happened? Why the hell did you knock me out and how long was I even out for?"

"Three days." It was a new voice.

Three days? That was just… unreal. I couldn't process it. My mind felt sluggish, almost like everything had been rearranged and glued down.

"That long?" I asked the darkness. "Why?"

"We had to check." Short spoke that time. It was strange to know I was in the car with three people. I tried to figure out where they were by the sounds of their voices. Tall was beside me. Short was in front. That meant the third voice had to be driving. "You weren't lying after all."

I figured they had to be talking about my unwanted brain growth. It throbbed even then, with every beat of my heat. "So what caused it then?"


"What caused it? Couldn't you figure it out?"

There was more silence. Finally Short spoke. "Something that shouldn't even exist. Something we didn't even think existed."

I didn't know what to say to that. Was I meant to be happy that some new pokémon had warped my brain?

I sighed and tried to fidget in my seat. "So where are my pokémon then?"

"We've got them with us," Tall said.

That was something at least. I tried to feel the way the car moved in the hope that I'd be able to figure out just where I was. No such luck. My brain was slowed enough that I couldn't figure out the time between each turn.

It felt like my brain had only just come back to normal when the car stopped. I felt the handcuff linking me to the car door released, then heard everyone leave the car. Someone opened my door and pulled me out by my collar.

Panic was starting to settle in a little bit then.

I stumbled on the floor and was kept up by the hand on my collar. It dug into my neck sharply, cut off all my air and choked me as they pulled me back up and dragged me ahead by the handcuffs still binding me.

Whatever we were walking on, it was gravel. That was all I could guess. It was less than a minute of walking until I heard something creak open, like an old iron gate. Another minute and then the sound of an old door being slammed open.

I could smell the disturbed dust fly everywhere. It got into my nose and made me sneeze before I could stop myself. I felt whoever was leading me flinch away. I guessed I'd sneezed on them. Served them right for leading me into the place like a lamb for the slaughter.

My insides twisted at the analogy. What if I was being led to my execution? A great big knot took hold of my insides and tried to convince me to panic. It took every ounce of willpower I had to not do so.

I heard everyone else around me stop. A hand grabbed mine and unlocked the handcuffs. I drew away from them and pulled the blindfold down as quickly as I could.

The light blinded me for a second. Once I opened my eyes again and got used to it, I saw Tall and Short both standing a little bit away from me. Almost in front of me was another man, younger than both of them but still rather old, with black hair and eyebrows and a stern face.

Once I took that in, I saw just where I was. It was a massive building, almost like a warehouse. Big windows stretched over the walls and I could see through to the floors above. The entire place was abandoned and left for dust – weeds were growing in the floor and the walls both.

The knot in my stomach seemed to double in size and weight.

The new one held up a bandolier full of poké balls. I recognised it instantly and snatched it off him. He pulled a face and let me attach it as quickly as I could. I slid a poké ball from there and kept it in my hand, ready to release it as soon as I needed it.

I swallowed the lump in my throat and looked at Short and Tall. "W-what's going on?"

Short shrugged and made a show of looking around the building as Tall pulled what seemed to be a flute out of his pocket. "That tumour of yours… you came into contact with something that shouldn't exist. It's impossible and yet there, regardless. The only way for it to exist would be if something that can travel through time had a hand in it. So we're going to summon it here."

The new guy pressed a gun to my forehead before I could even react. "Don't open the ball in your hand," he said calmly, as if he were ordering lunch. "The moment I see you move to release it, your brains are going to paint the wall behind you."

I gulped and obeyed instantly.

"The only method to summon a time traveller though," Short continued as if nothing had ever happened, "belongs in the special properties of a Time Flute. They only exist in Orre and are sacred objects. They also break after use, which makes this all the more important."

"You're our leverage here," the new guy said. "We know you've got something to do with Celebi. If you do, it won't want you dead, will it?"

"And if it does?" I asked.

He flicked the safety off. "Then you're dead."

I glanced over at Tall. He looked at Short, shared a nod and pulled the flute to his lips. It was made of green glass and seemed to be falling apart. As soon as he played, it was like everything stopped. All the outside noise seemed to die and everything focused entirely on the tune he was playing. It was beautiful, yet haunting at the same time. Almost like it was something we weren't ever meant to hear.

He stopped playing and pulled the flute away. It wobbled a bit and then just crumbled to dust in his hands. I stared at it for a long moment, waiting for something to happen. A burst of light, an earthquake, a flash of lightning or even a tornado.

"Did it work?" Short asked.

Tall frowned. "I don't-"

I heard the sound of wind through tree leaves. It was almost nothing until suddenly it was all around me. There was a little spark of green light in front of me, then suddenly the new guy's head just wasn't on his shoulders anymore. Before I'd even fully turned to look at Short and Tall their bodies fell over, heads missing.

I suddenly felt very, very exposed.

I was about to turn around and make a run for it when a flash of green light appeared before my eyes. When it dimmed I found myself face to face with the creature responsible for bringing me here. It seemed bored, floating there before me.

More than that, it was juggling the heads of the people it just killed.

It looked at me, let all the heads drop to the floor and with a large sigh, shook its head and spoke in a perfect human voice,

"I really don't like it when people try to summon me."

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