Content Warning:

This story contains foul language, intense themes, graphic violence, potentially political material, and some occasional character death. Read at your own discretion!

Prologue: The Light

The man peered outside from the heavy curtain covering the window of his second story bedroom. He looked down on the streets below him, dimly lit only by the moon's light piercing through the blanket of gray clouds looming above. The street lights had been out for ages. Nobody bothered to fix them up after they were harvested.

Though hard to see, the man could make out two figures standing in the street in front of his driveway. He couldn't make out who they were, but he knew what they were here for. He shook his head at their ignorance, but he couldn't drop the constricting sense of dread. So the man just stood there, unmoving, watching.

Mechanical parts whirred and stirred outside, and just as swiftly as the marauders had arrived, they vanished into the night. The machine in his lawn made sure no cowards like them would ever step foot in his house. Watching it succeed brought a wave of euphoria to the man. Victory.

It didn't last long.

He yawned again — a sign it was time to throw himself at the bed once more. He tossed and turned, but no comfort came. It never would. Many months had passed since this room, now nearly barren besides the bed and a lone dresser, had felt like home.

His own mind was not much better. Every pursuit of peace of mind was drowned out by his many turmoils and regrets. The flood was unending.

He turned his exhausted body to face the other side of his room. There was nothing there… Big mistake. He was already welling up with tears. The man shambled out of the bed. Now he needed something to drown out the pain.

He stumbled to the kitchen, the perfect place to distract himself. There were plenty of midnight snacks lying around that he could munch on to fill in the empty space where sleep should go. Or perhaps he could drink the night away. That'd be easy. Nice, even. Slowly, he reached for the refrigerator door and—

The man turned around only to find himself blinded by a giant ball of searing heat and energy right in front of him. "Greetings," a voice boomed, seemingly coming from the light itself.

The light was so overwhelming. "What the fuck?!" he exclaimed as his back began to slide down the door until he was sitting on the wooden floor. With unnerving accuracy, his hands slid into a low kitchen drawer and pulled a knife. "Get back! I-I'm not ready to go crazy yet!"

The gleam of the ball dimmed somewhat, as if to quell the man's fear. "Do not fear, for I have not come to bring harm to you. Quite the opposite, in fact."

The man was sure he understood what this was now. Rather than quell them with gluttonous coping methods, his brain had decided the best option to counter his overwhelming feelings was with an equally overwhelming dosage of lunacy. Maybe the two guys up front were a distraction for a third out back who tampered with the air in the house to get his food? No, that didn't make any sense. This had to be something else. "Let me guess," he said defeatedly, accepting how far he had fallen as the knife was put back in its place. "I'm dying, aren't I?"

The floating ball of energy shook around as though it thought it had a visible head. "I can assure you, I am no Grim Reaper. Rather, I am speaking to you from another dimension. Have you, by any chance, heard of Pokémon?"

The man sat there, flabbergasted. "That's...a question. But yeah, I've played a few games before. What about them?"

"In my world, pokémon are real, living creatures."

Maybe his first assertion wasn't far off after all. The man sighed and shook his head, fear fading to comedy. "Really? Of all things to imagine, I dream up a guy preaching to me about alternate dimensions made up by a corporation for profit? Good going, me."

The voice audibly sighed. "Still don't believe I'm real? Take this."

Falling out of the ball of light, a thick, three-ring bright blue binder slapped the man square in the face. He stared at the gift in his lap in awe. He certainly wasn't dead or a loon… What did that make him now?

"In this binder," the voice explained as the man studied the cover, "are blueprints. These blueprints are for a portal generation device designed to allow you to create a rip in this universe and jump into another. This rip will allow to venture into my world: Solceus."

The man opened up the binder. Various papers filled its rings, showing every angle inside and out of this seven-foot, circular device. No easy creation, that's for sure. "And you expect me to make this big, complex, exactly?"

"There is no need to play coy," the light told him. "I know very well that you are an engineer, a forager, and a public figure. At the time of your youth, the possibility of crafting such a thing may have once held doubt. But this is twenty sixty four! Your skills and funds, combined with these blueprints, are all you will need to assemble the right parts."

The light was right. The man couldn't deny any of the high praise he sent his way. For a brief moment, that gave him confidence, and he considered that maybe this light coming into his life wasn't so bad. Still, he remained skeptical. "Okay, but what's in it for me?" he asked. "I've already got clients bleeding me dry here at home."

"Don't you see the world you're living in? How miserable it is?"

The man slouched against the wall. "Yeah. It's twenty sixty four," he mocked. "You're screwed, I'm screwed, the planet's screwed, it's the goddamn apocalypse. What about it?"

"You can use this gateway into my world to escape. Start again. And in return, all I will ask for is your presence and assistance."

The man paused on this claim. He tried to have doubts about this miraculous encounter, but this idea gave him a warm but foreign feeling he could no longer deny. Was this...hope? He wanted it to be hope. "Well, it's worth a try, at least," he conceded.

"Excellent!" The light was enthused, as if this was a bigger occasion for him than it was for the man. "Now, before I part, I should mention that going to this dimension will turn you into a pokémon as well, but I'm sure you can live with that, can't you?"

"Wait, hang on. What should I do about my—?"

"Good," the voice interrupted, leaving the man's question unheard. "Until we meet again." With that, the ball of light slowly shrunk into nothing, leaving the man to rub his eyes and adjust back into the darkness of night. No longer blinded, the man got a long look at what the blueprints had to say. At the bottom of each diagram, essay, and graph, the page was signed with a pair of initials written in white: D.E.

Satisfied, the man closed the binder, stood up, and placed it on the kitchen table. He then made his way towards the dining room that, in all its years, had never been used. He would need more space than just his workshop for this new project.

Eight months. Eight long, grueling months were what it had taken to construct this mechanical masterwork, this thesis of progress. It looked miserable, only barely blending with the blueprints' design and having been bent down to fit the ceiling of his dining room, but thanks to some mercilessly expensive purchases for materials online, he had finally completed the project. For the thirteenth time.

The man spent a solid two minutes praying for his machine to finally work once and for all. He was desperate now. Ever since that chance meeting, he had wanted nothing more than to meet whoever this D.E. in the binder was and, finally, find something that could get his mind off things.

After the man finished bargaining his soul, having bargained everything else he still had aside from the snazzy-looking suit and burgundy polka-dotted tie he had put on just in case he ended up warping into a meeting or something, he decided it was time. Slowly, he pressed the button on the left side. Tiny streaks of sparks began dancing across the ends of the circular machine, becoming more frequent with each bolt. The man stepped away, fearing an explosion. However, after a few seconds, the rip was formed with no fanfare: an opening resembling a black, empty void.

"Yes!" the man shouted in blissful joy. It was done! He could finally leave this awful Earth! With that out of the way, he could begin assembling his supplies for the journey. He searched his house up and down, making sure he had everything he wanted to bring with him on his potentially permanent vacation. His special spinoff project breaking away from the blueprints? Take! An emergency lunch? Take! That scrapbook on the shelf? Uh… Well… He'd regret it later if he didn't take it. And how could he leave behind his computer?! Thank God for the protective sleeves he modded on the inside of his backpack…

Huh, a thought occurred to the man. I wonder what Solceans worship? Don't they have, what's his name...Arceus? Is D.E. Arceus? He shrugged it off for now. He'd get those answers when he found D.E.

Throwing the backpack into the corner for the moment, the man went over his plans one last time. He had everything, except...except for…

No, no. He couldn't think about that. It was an awful loss — the hardest part of these eight months — but he was used to that sort of thing, and besides, it was time for happier days. All he needed was one last look at Nevada and he was gone.

The man stared out the window of his dining room. Unlike his meeting with the light, the night was clear. The moon glowed upon emptied streets. Nobody was outside… Not that it mattered, since he didn't know anybody in this town anymore. Not a soul in the area would really miss him.

The man grabbed his backpack, rubbed his chin for a moment — this might be the last time he'd have a beard, after all — and then stepped into the rip.

LukerUpgradez, DommyMcDoodle, and PaperCutz present

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Double-Edged