Nick Shaw exited the room, cradling his toasty AK-47. "Happiness is a warm gun", he remarked to himself, quoting the Beatles song of the same name. The petals and vines and slices of greenish flesh of the corpse of the unfortunate Bulbasaur laid in leafy disarray in the room he had just existed.

Tipping his fedora downwards, Nick shut the door in the room behind him. "Let someone else pick up after that motherfucker", he remarked in sardonic yet hushed tones.

Nick exited his small bungalow and into the blinding early November sunlight of Cleveland, Ohio. Once, this neighborhood had been thriving. Now, it had been left to the elements, with decaying homes, cracked sidewalks and dark brown lawns everywhere. The increasingly bare trees only added to the sense of weather-beaten decline.

But in this Midwestern skid row, nihilistic Nick saw a slight sliver of opportunity. He was from Philadelphia, after all, and arguably, that city was even in worse shape.

He had come to save the ghetto from itself. He was a soldier of destiny.

Drifting through his adopted, long-gone neighborhood, Nick passed by many of the hallmarks of a once prosperous industrial town: a shuttered Catholic church here, a Rotary Club headquarters there, a baseball field, a corner store. Finally, he came to a stop by a vast abandoned hulk that was the Ketchum Automotive Parts Factory. Once a source of employment for thousands across Cleveland, Ketchum Automobiles had outsourced all of its production to Japan, where the billionaire playboy scion to the Ketchum family fortune, Ash, now lived. The once billowing smokestack of the factory now stood like a giant middle finger, flipping off the gods. A mockingjay trilled on a branch.

"Damn bird", Nick muttered. "Damn bird", repeating the mockingjay, although the imitation was muffled and inexact.

"Shush, you twat!", exclaimed Nick, louder that he expected to. Of course, the mockingjay repeated the exact words he just had, in similarly muffled and inexact tones.

Nick was having a particularly bad day, and he wasn't about to stand some stupid experiment from the 1950s repeating his curses. Remembering the AK-47 he still had with him, he readied the little ammo he had left.

"Enough! Eat hot lead!", Nick bellowed. Turning around with seething rage, the wild-eyed, blonde, teenage boy fired a round of bullets into the tree nearby. The echo boomed across the neighborhood, against the factory, and over the nearby railroad tracks.

And yet, he missed the Mockingjay completely. The bluish-white bird simply fluttered away, spiraling higher and higher into the azure sky.

"CHRIST!", shouted Nick Shaw. "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THIS WORLD?"

"Everything", remarked a voice seemingly from out of nowhere. "Everything".

"Who the fuck"-before Nick could finish his profane exclamation, the voice kept prattling on. It sounded debonair. It sounded British. It was cold yet also warm and inviting.

"You ignorant Philadelphian. I pity you. My family has seen the ebb and flow of the tide of the world come in and out over the centuries, and I can assure you, the world's been all fouled up since time immemorial". The voice's refrainment from cursing and smooth dulcet tones contrasted well with the gruff, profane exclamations of Nick.

"Alright, you fucker, I'm comin'", Nick snarled. Just in case, he took the safety off his AK-47, even though he knew it was out of bullets.

"No need for such barbarous weaponry", said the voice. "I will reveal myself in due time".

It became increasingly apparent to Nick that the voice was emanating from within the factory itself. Nick unloaded his assault rifle and cautiously entered the factory through the unhinged doors.

Moving through the great, rusting machinery of its interior, Nick heard the voice come ever closer to him-or, more likely, him to it.

"That mockingjay? No need to kill it. If anything, it's the sole reminder of what this town was like when it was strong. The crown jewel of Everdeen Labs."

He continued, "A product of the pioneering American know-how of the 1950s, they are. Back when they were just jabberjays, they were supposed to be the 'pet of the future'. But then deindustrialization occurred, shiny foreign products came to the States, and no one wanted what seemed to most to be a 'glorified parrot'-even if it bore no relation. Everdeen Labs moved away from this town. Went down South, to follow the jobs."

Nick was almost upon the source of the voice. Huffing and puffing under his trenchcoat, his fedora long gone, Nick rounded a bend and entered a small office where the manager's headquarters once were. There, standing on his hind legs, wearing a derby and holding an umbrella, was a Bulbasaur.

"Come with me", he said. "We have a journey to embark upon."

DUN DUN DUN!

TO BE CONTINUED