AN: Good evening everyone and welcome to Book Two of my Pokémon Legendarium, Foundations of the World. If you liked The Sun Soul then you'll enjoy this next installment, but don't think it's going to be nothing but more of the same. I'm planning on incorporating a lot of what I learned from my mistakes with The Sun Soul, while advancing in a new direction.
Unlike its predecessor, Foundations will be told from several different viewpoints, rather than from a single character's point of view. Hopefully this will keep things good and fresh while letting me show off more of the world.
At any rate, welcome to Hoenn and enjoy!
Wallace – Chapter One – For Dear Life
Leaning back and pulling his stethoscope away from the young boy's chest, the doctor in the white lab coat shook his head, prompting glints of morning sunlight to dance across his spectacles. The doctor slipped his hand behind the back of the boy lying in the bed on which he sat and helped the youngster into a sitting position, thereafter setting and shifting his stethoscope around the boy's back for several moments and listening. The room fell silent as the doctor worked and, from his position by the door to the room, a tall man wearing segmented black body armor folded his hands across his chest and waited, tapping his foot on the lush burgundy carpet.
The doctor cleared his throat. "Alright," he said somberly, again putting his hand on his charge's back. "Take a few deep breaths for me, as deep as you can Wallace, even if it hurts."
Closing his sapphire blue eyes as pain streaked across his face, Wally slowly drew in a breath. Jerking forward as his lungs reached capacity the boy flew into a fit of coughing, pressing one hand to his chest and the other to his lips and wheezing as he shook. "I'm sorry," croaked the boy as the doctor patted his back with a wrinkled hand. "I still can't breathe very-" an exceedingly long and heavy cough cut him off and filled the room with a sound like ripping paper, "deep," he finished, pulling his hand away from his lips and wiping it clean of the crimson slime that had escaped his mouth and clung to his fingers.
Taking a towel from the nightstand beside the bed and handing it to Wallace, the doctor again cleared his throat. "Don't apologize; you've been through a lot more than most boys your age."
The man in the armor beside the door walked forward, his own sapphire eyes locked on the boy in the bed. "Be honest with me doctor," he said, his weathered face carefully cleared of any sign of emotion even as he pulled a pokeball from his belt and began rolling it around in his hands, "what's the prognosis? My boy going to be alright?" he glanced to Wallace and tried to look reassuring.
Looking between Wallace and his father, the doctor stood and moved to lean his back against the wall to better address both members of his audience. "At this time," he said, his tone solemn, "I believe so, yes." The doctor continued as the armored man sighed in relief and Wallace turned to look up at him. "The vasculitis did a lot of damage, but the recent blood work and what I'm seeing now suggests we're through the worst of it."
Wallace grimaced. "I feel awful doc," he said. "I can barely breathe and I'm still coughing up all this," he paused and motioned to the slimy red putrescence he had expelled from his lungs and wiped on the bed's comforter, "stuff."
"I know it's hard to see from where you're sitting," said the old man, "but you need to realize you're doing so much better than two months ago; you're off the ventilator at the very least…" he trailed off and patted Wallace's back comfortingly. "You're doing better. And it could have been so much worse if we hadn't caught it before the vasculitis spread out of your lungs."
Taking a shallow breath and wincing in pain Wallace again descended into a fit of coughing that left his palms sticky with a red slime evacuated from his chest. "I guess I got the long end of the short end of the stick," he said.
Nodding, the doctor smiled. "That's certainly one way to look at it," he said comfortingly. "For now though you need to concentrate on getting your strength back," the old doctor stopped as Wallace leaned forward in the bed and again began coughing, waiting for the boy to finish.
Still hacking and crumpling over, Wallace closed his eyes tightly as each spasm of his lungs turned his face redder and redder. As the raking noises from his chest intensified, the boy in the patient's gown heaved forward, grabbing the doctor's sleeve with one hand and gasping for air. A retching cough tore from Wallace's throat and he vomited over the edge of the bed, splattering the floor with a muck shot through with blood and bile.
Leaping forward to support him as the teenage boy slumped over; the man in the composite armor grabbed his son around the waist. "Wallace!" he screamed as the boy's eyes rolled back and he passed out. "Wallace! What's wrong?" He looked down at the bed sheets as a red puddle began spreading out from where Wallace's unconscious form sat on the bed.
Laying Wallace back on the bed, the doctor looked up to the man standing beside the bed. "Lord Weaver," he shouted, sternly with an edge of icy calm in his tone as he stood and tore open the nightstand. "Get to my laboratory and fetch my assistant Jenna: tall, brunette, glasses, can't miss her. Tell her Wallace shows all the signs of acute renal failure. She'll know what to bring. Go!"
As the lord sprinted from the room the doctor pulled a small case from the nightstand. Drawing a needle and syringe from the case he pulled the protective cap with his teeth and stuck the needle in Wallace's neck. "Hold on boy," he said, injecting the contents of the syringe into the boy. "I've worked far too hard for you to die on me now. You hold on!"
Waking to a burning pain in his chest and to the sound of a motor loudly whirring away alongside his bed, Wallace remained still and held his eyes closed. He could feel the mask pumping pressurized air into his nose and throat. Wallace consciously opened his mouth to breathe and felt the air flood into his lungs, bringing with it an instant of wondrous relief from the agonizing burn but offsetting such relief with a stab of pain behind his sternum. Shaking from the pain he winced and his eyes snapped open.
Lying on his back, Wallace explored the dark hospital room in which he found himself. Devoid of any furnishings save a pair of carts laden with medical equipment and a chair in the corner supporting his sleeping father, the room reminded Wallace of the little cell in which he had spent the last few months of his life. Moonlight shown in through the window on the western wall and artificial lamplight flickered in from beneath the heavy curtain pulled across the room's only door. Wallace sighed and closed his eyes again, feeling a hot tear forming in the corner of one eye and dripping down the side of his face.
The boy jerked again when he felt a hand not his own wiping the moist trail away. He opened his eyes and saw his father standing over him, one hand behind his back, the other removing any trace of the tear from Wallace's features. The boy turned away as much as he could as, he quickly discovered, a medical tube inserted into his chest cavity between two ribs made it nearly impossible to move. Another, much more acute pain lanced into him from the tissue around the chest tube as his father pulled his chair closer to the bed and produced a pad of paper and a pen.
Offering the pad and pen to Wallace as he took a seat, lord Weaver smiled when his son took the implements. "How you holding up tough guy?" asked the armored noble.
Still aching, Wallace pushed himself up in the bed and leaned against the headboard being cautious not to disturb the chest tube, the IV attached to his left arm, or the tubes running from his mask to the motor sitting on the nightstand beside the bed. Scribbling on the pad, Wallace showed the paper to his father without making eye contact.
"I know," Weaver answered. "You gave us a little scare."
Again Wallace scribbled on the top sheet of paper and turned it towards his father.
Lord Weaver grimaced and leaned forward in the chair, folding his hands on the edge of the bed. "Turns out to be a nasty little flare," he answered. "The blood vessels in your lungs and your kidneys swelled up and tore themselves open. The old lesions in your lungs bled too and," he paused a moment before continuing, "there was a lot of bleeding in your brain as well," he said, voice unsteady. "The doc says it might make you a little uncoordinated for, well for a while."
Eyes growing wide, Wallace hurriedly scrawled his question on the pad, practically thrusting it at his father to read.
"No," Weaver handed the paper back to his son. "The brain damage looks pretty minimal. Doctor Leinwetter worked his magic and managed to get things under control, but still, there was some damage. Leinwetter said you should expect some difficulties doing anything physically demanding." He stopped as Wallace began writing and read the message when his son turned the page towards him. "No," Weaver said calmly, sitting back, his armor clanking around his form as he did. "You were completely unconscious for a week and were in and out of it for a few days after that. Son," he reached forward and put a hand on the boy's shoulder. "You're going to be alright. This was just a bump in the road and-"
Wallace took a deep breath and pulled the mask up and off his head. "A bump in the road, dad, bump in the road?" He threw the mask to the ground by the bed and dropped his head in his hands, resting his elbows on his knees and taking quick, labored breaths. "Dad, I… I don't know..." He looked up to his father, tears in his eyes. "Why is this happening to me?" he whispered, face tight with effort to stave off crying. "Why me? It isn't…" he trailed off and bit his lip.
Weaver moved closer and pulled Wallace into a hug. "I know it isn't fair," he said, "but you can beat it son. You've already survived the worst it can throw at you so you can beat it if you just keep fighting."
"I'm beat, dad," Wallace sighed, pulling his legs close and grabbing his ankles. "I'm so tired. I don't want to fight it anymore." He turned and looked out the window, staring across the grounds of the Weaver Estate, a sprawling complex of storage buildings and barracks devoted to housing his father's countless soldiers and servants and storing the food they produced. "I'm sorry, dad. I'm so sorry. It doesn't look like I'm going to be able to take over the estate…"
Holding his son, lord Weaver shook his head. "Don't apologize," he said. "Wally, we'll get through this, together. You've got nothing to be sorry for." He nodded to the bag of fluid hanging from a rail above the bed and connected to Wallace by the IV line in the boy's arm. "Doctor Leinwetter's pumping you full of steroids again and some new drug to get your immune system to calm down. We'll get you healthy. I don't care if we have to go out and buy you a new immune system. We'll get you healthy and you'll take over the estate just as planned."
Wallace held his breath a moment and ground his teeth together to fight back tears. "Whatever you say dad."
The elder Weaver paused a moment before sitting back from his son. "The doc mentioned that once you came to it was going to be important that we get you up and moving as soon as possible to build your strength back up. Tomorrow, what say we go for a walk around the grounds?" he nodded towards the window. "I'll collect a few of the guards and we can do a lap around the perimeter."
Sighing, Wallace nodded. "Sure," he answered. "Whatever you say."
The following morning brought with it a cool front of weather rolling in from the west. Clouds billowed overhead and chilled breezes threw curtains of tossed dirt about in all directions as Wallace, leaning heavily on a walking stick and flanked on either side by a guard wearing his family's segmented black armor, hobbled along the stone path running between two of his father's wheat fields. Scattered throughout either field, dozens of farmhands and Pokémon of burden worked to ready the ground for the next planting season. Raising a hand to wipe his golden hair out of his eyes, Wallace paused and cleaned the sweat from his brow as one of his guards, a tall character with a shaved head and tattooed face, stepped up beside him.
"With all respect, sir," said the guard, his voice deep and strong as he brandished a sturdy spear in one hand and a pokeball in the other, "I believe we've wandered quite far enough from the compound. Would you like us to escort you back?"
Refusing to answer right away, Wallace looked at the dirt at his feet and then up at the sky above him, watching the clouds swirl and break apart overhead in the wind. "Not just yet," he said, having to strain to raise his voice as the wind picked up. "I want to go a little farther." He turned away from his guards before taking a deep breath and squinting against the pain the action brought with it.
"Sir," the same guard reached forward and put a hand on Wallace's shoulder. "You're not going to get well if you push yourself too hard and overdo it."
Forcing himself to grin, Wallace turned around as the wind whipped his tan tunic around his frame. "And I'm never going to get well if I don't push it just a little." He turned back to the path before him as any expression save determination melted from his features. "Come on!"
The two trainers and their charge carried on then, Wallace and his walking stick leading the way, making it as far as the edge of the Weaver Estate before they all stopped. Wallace paused and looked into the wilderness then. Past the carefully maintained edge of his father's walled fields, the grass grew wild and tall for more than a mile before the plain ended abruptly at the edge of the Petalburg woods, beyond which lay the city his family was responsible for feeding. Farther in the distance he could barely make out the silhouette of Mount Pyre. Thanks to the day's exceptionally clear air he could see the lines of the mountain jutting over the horizon and climbing skyward before they disappeared in the clouds. The young boy leaned more of his weight on the walking stick and stared at the mountain for a moment, his chest growing heavy as he stared off into the east. "Someday," he muttered, staring at the mountain.
"Sir," his guard again called out. "I really think we should be returning home. You need your rest milord."
Wallace sighed and looked at the ground. "Fine," he acquiesced, a sharp sensation lancing through his chest and sending a quiver through his frame. He turned around and faced his family's estate. "Let's go home-"
A howling screech roared to life over Wallace's voice and cut him off. Simultaneously a blinding purple light flashed behind the young boy and his guards, followed by an explosion in the center of the field between the estate's perimeter and the edge of the woods. As a fireball some forty feet across rose off the ground and billowed into the sky, carrying a pillar of dirt and debris with it, a visible shockwave rolled through the tall grass and crashed into Wallace and his escorts, throwing the three men violently to the ground.
Scurrying to protect their charge, the two guards crawled between Wallace and the source of the explosion, climbing to their feet and helping Wallace to his as he gasped and clutched at his chest. "Sir," the larger of the two screamed as both levelled their spears and threw their pokeballs to the ground, "please fall back to the compound. It isn't safe here!"
A second screech and explosion rocked the ground beneath them as another flash of purple light and a huge fireball exploded in the field and rose skyward. Behind them Wallace could hear the panicked screaming of the farmhands and the blaring of signal trumpets to rally the family guards.
"No!" Wallace shouted, raising one hand to shield his face as two Pokémon, his escorts' Lairon and Manectric, materialized out of their respective clouds of white light. "We can't just leave them without any protection," he called out, gesturing to the panicked workers in the nearby plots! "We're closer than any of the other guards."
"Sir?" the smaller of the two guards answered uneasily as his Manectric turned to him as if for instructions. The yellow and blue Pokemon chittered and clacked its fangs together, its intensely red eyes scanning the nearby grass for danger as static coursed over its frame.
Wallace levelled his gaze at the tall grass. "That's an order," he said sternly, looking back for only as second as field hands retreated towards the manor. "Follow me," he set off beyond the edge of his family's land, his two escorts immediately stepping forward to flank him.
Trekking through the tall grass and swiping it aside with his walking stick, Wallace made his way to the edge of a clearing in the center of the field where the grass had been burned to the ground. The smell of burning flesh and scorched earth permeated the air and in the center of the clearing, a gap in the field no less than fifty meters across, he spotted what appeared to be a wrecked cart surrounded by the bodies of men and Pokémon alike.
The two guards took a step forward. "Groudon's Breath," one of the men quietly swore.
Wallace scanned the humanoid corpses slumped over the cart. "Look for survivors," he ordered, turning back to further examine the scene. "These are Magma troopers," he said, spotting the red and gold armor worn by the figures laying in the clearing as a sober edge crept into his voice. "I don't know what they were doing this close to our land but their boss sure isn't going to be happy when he hears about this."
Walking forward and raising his tan shirt over his mouth and nose to help block out the smell of burnt skin, Wallace made his way to the cart, a structure of wood and steel barely holding together and smoldering quietly. While his guards checked the bodies of the Team Magma soldiers lying here and there throughout the clearing, the boy took as deep a breath as he could without provoking a coughing fit. Climbing up, nearly stumbling more than once as his limbs quaked, into and standing on what had once been the driver's seat of the cart, Wallace took a moment to catch his breath and scanned the burning clearing in the field. He looked first at the Magma trainers, muttering "defensive positions" to himself as he noted their locations. Turning to face the direction in which the cart had been travelling, his eyes grew wide and he called out to his guards. Instantly they were at his side and helping him to the ground.
Wallace walked quickly forward, stopping at the edge of the clearing where there lay crumpled a figure like that of a woman dressed in white and red and green. "I think," he said to his guards, "we might have found the source of all this."
There at the edge of the grass a Gardevoir lay in a pool of blood, impaled through and through the chest on the horn of an equally dead Aggron. Both Pokémon looked to have almost ripped each other apart in their final moments; the wiry Gardevoir lay nearly disemboweled, her blood and the contents of her stomach and chest clinging to the Aggron's claws while the larger Pokémon with the steel carapace bore burns down to the bone over most of his body and still smoldered with purple embers, the telltale sign of psychic fire, his eyes burned out such that the charred contents of his skull were clearly visible.
Still guarding his nose against the stench, Wallace stood and stepped away from the two bodies as his guards walked up beside him. "Open the cart," he ordered. "Team Magma will come looking for whatever's in there and we'll want to have it wrapped up with a bow for them when they show up." He stepped forward again as his escorts disappeared around the back of the cart. The sound of prying and creaking wood carried to his ears, Wallace stared down at the dead Gardevoir and the Aggron she had died to stave off. "What was so important you wouldn't run away?" he asked.
A rustle in the grass beyond the scorched earth froze Wallace in his tracks and made the hair on the back of his neck stand on end. His eyes trained on golden stalks jutting out of the ground, Wallace held his walking stick level like a spear and walked to the edge of the grass. "Somebody there?" he called out for survivors. "Anyone?"
Pushing a tuft of grass out of the way as it walked into the clearing, a squat figure dressed in white emerged from the golden stalks and hobbled to a halt directly between Wallace and the corpses of the Gardevoir and the Aggron. Sucking in a breath and stumbling backwards, Wallace put some distance between himself and the little Pokémon as it looked up at him from behind its long green bangs. "A Ralts?" muttered the boy with the walking stick. "What's a…" he trailed off as the little Pokémon turned and walked to the dead Gardevoir. "Oh," he muttered as the Ralts knelt down and put its hands on the Gardevoir's shoulder, shaking the Pokémon as if to wake it from sleep.
Wallace watched in silence as the Ralts leaned back from the Gardevoir and sat utterly still a moment before breaking out into shaky little hiccups, tears forming in the corner of its crimson eyes and dripping to the ground as it quietly sobbed. Wallace looked beyond the Ralts then, noting a spot in the golden grass bedded down like a nest. "Aw shit," he sighed, counting six other Ralts laying in the nest, each torn open by some harsh implement and unmoving. "That's why it didn't flee," he looked at the crying infant Pokémon. "She was defending her family…" he stopped as the Ralts looked up at him, reaching up to brush its green locks away from its face to see him clearly.
Searching for words for a moment, Wallace's icy blue eyes met the Ralts' crimson red ones. Then, without a thought or a moment's hesitation, he dropped his walking stick and stepped forward, leaning down and picking up the little Pokémon. "You're going to be alright," he whispered, holding the shivering infant against his chest. "I'm going to take care of you," Wallace looked back into the grass, checking a final time for any other survivors and turning away with the Ralts when he saw none. "Tell you what," he said to the Pokémon, "I had brothers too, but none of them made it either. We're the same, you and I, so I'm going to look out for you, and you can look out for me. I'll be your trainer and you'll be my Pokémon. Deal?"
The Ralts grew deathly still and looked up at Wallace then. The boy likewise froze as he and the Pokémon stared at one another, neither so much as breathing for what felt to the new trainer like an eternity. The Pokémon's eyes, he could swear began to glow softly red and Wallace felt a warmth in his chest. He breathed and the air flowed easily into his lungs. "Alright," he said to the infant Pokémon. "You'll be mine and I'll be yours. We'll watch out for each other from here on out."
One of his guards appeared around the side of the cart and motioned for his attention. "Sir," called the man in the black armor. "You're going to want to see this," he said, stopping as Wallace walked up next to him with the Pokémon."
Still holding his new Pokemon, the trainer turned about. "What is it soldier?" Wallace asked.
The trooper stared at the Ralts. "Sir," he said. "Are you sure it's wise to be carrying that thing around?"
Wallace looked at the Pokémon out of the corner of his eye before facing the trooper. "She," he emphasized, "isn't a threat. She's my Pokémon. Now show me what you found in the cart."
"Yes sir," the soldier answered, saluting. "Very good sir." He led Wallace to the back of the cart where the second soldier had already begun offloading a number of crates from the ruined vehicle. As Wallace stepped around the cart, the second soldier tripped and dropped one of the crates to the ground where it shattered and flung its contents into the dirt. Staring at the demolished box as countless coins of gold and silver spilled across the ground, shock plain on his face, Wallace took a second to compose himself and straightened up as the pile of specie gleamed in the sunlight.
Picking himself up from the ground, the soldier dusted down his black armor. "There are more than three dozen coffers identical to this one," said the guard. Some of them are filled with coins, some hold medical supplies and drugs, and one looks to be packed pull of empty pokeballs. Magma's moving around a lot of wealth and they're being awfully quiet about it."
Wallace took a steadying breath. "What's in that one there?" he nodded to a larger steel box near the back of the cart.
The guards both shrugged. "No idea sir," they answered in unison.
Wallace grimaced. "Bring it down here. Go ahead and open it," he ordered.
Immediately the two escorts climbed into the ruined vehicle and grabbed ahold of the dark steel container. Wallace meanwhile turned to look out over the tall grass towards the estate where he could still hear the warning trumpets sounding their calls. Unsure of why more of his family's troops had yet to arrive, Wallace turned back to the scene at hand while the guards set the metal crate on the ground. The taller of the two took a moment to direct his Pokémon, the Lairon lining up and kicking its back foot into the crate's lock and shattering the metal latch like glass. The second escort then pried the lid open, exposing the contents of the crate.
Wallace's eyes grew wide and he stepped forward to look down into the coffer. "Groudon's Breath," he swore quietly, turning to his men. "Go and find my father!" he looked back down and into the crate again. "He's going to want to see this."