Like "Project Alpha", this story is one I started on Pokemon Village's "Complete The Story" forum. Once again, I would like to remind you that my screen-name is different there and that I did not write the whole fic, only the passages narrated by Emily. The most I've done with other people's posts is iron out the sentence structure and any plot inconsistencies.
The other authors in this story and the characters they wrote as are:
Jack: Crazy Bear McGubbins
Ken: Sir Glenn
DS: The Incarnation Pokemon
It had begun as a perfect day, typical of early summer with just a hint of the warmer weather still to come. As I sat outside listening to pop music on my radio and just watching the world go by, I had no idea that, somewhere in deep space, a chunk of rock was hurtling straight towards us.
The first hint came when, right in the middle of my favourite song, someone came on to make an announcement I had heard in movies but had never expected to hear in real life. "We interrupt this programme to bring you an urgent news bulletin!" I turned the volume up slightly so I could hear better what it was that was so important they felt obliged to butt in on my radio time. "A comet measuring three kilometres across has been detected on a collision course with Earth and astronomers estimate that it could strike at any time in the next three months . . ."
The man paused as if he could scarcely believe what was happening and I had to rest my hand on the wall to keep myself from fainting. At school, they once talked about what might happen if a comet ever hit Earth, how it would explode with more power than an atomic bomb and there would be so much dust that there would be no sunlight for months on end. Soon, without the sun, all higher forms of life would die.
Then, the announcement continued. "A Space Ark is being prepared to take breeding pairs of all known species of Pokemon into space to ensure their long-term survival. In addition, a randomly selected group of humans will also be chosen to accompany them. Those chosen will be informed of their selection via email . . ."
I switched the radio off at that point and went up to my room, still barely able to believe that everything I had known would be destroyed in just three months. I had no real expectation of being one of those chosen to leave. Surely, I thought, that would be scientists and other "essential people", not some fifteen-year-old schoolgirl.
Checking my email, I found several messages from friends who'd just heard about the comet and wanted to say how nice it had been to know me. But there was another message there, a message that would change my life. It said I had been selected to leave Earth and should report to the spaceport which was being set up in Viridian City in three days' time. I could bring a Pokemon of my own if I wanted to, but it couldn't be larger than human-size because space in the Ark was limited. When I read that bit, I turned to my Meowth (who was sitting on my bed, blissfully unaware of what was happening) and knew she would be my companion when I left Earth.
When I told my parents, they were distraught at the thought of sending me into the unknown. But they had to agree that it was best for all of us if I took this chance; at least it would be better than sitting on Earth and waiting for the comet to strike.
My last days on Earth were unreal. There was a lot of tension in the air and riots broke out as people demanded to know why some had been chosen and others hadn't. I was grateful to have this chance of survival, but I knew it would be a bitter-sweet departure as I left people I'd known all my life behind to face the fate that would soon befall them.
I should really listen to the news more as the first indication I had that something was wrong was what I assumed to be a "hilarious" prank email telling me I'd won a trip into space on some flying Ark. I phoned a couple of people about it, wondering if it was some kind of chain email and which address I should Spam in an act of childish vengeance. They all swore at me profusely, telling me they had always known I was a "selfish little no-hoper who would only waste valuable oxygen" and it was in the interests of the human race that I should give one of them my place.
"And those people are supposed to be my friends?!" I thought out loud as I put the receiver down on the fifth angry teenager in a row. "What the heck is going on here?! Sheesh! They're acting like this email thing is real!"
I decided to get a drink and talk to my parents about the whole thing. "Mum," I ventured, "what do you do when all your friends hate you because some idiot sent you an email claiming you've been selected to go into space?"
"That's nice, dear."
"Mum! You're not listening to me!"
"Hush, dear - the comet is on TV again."
That could only mean one thing: the email was real. I had to find a Pokemon and take it with me into outer space, leaving my family and friends behind to die in the apocalypse.
"What are you doing up there!"
"Just a second, Mom!" I screamed back. "I'm just checking the email!"
"Well, hurry up! I need the phone line!"
I sighed deeply, convinced everyone was out to get me and dialled up - slowly. This stupid computer was obsolete when dinosaurs walked the Earth; no wonder it took me forever to check the email.
Finally, I got connected and saw that there were fourteen incoming messages, thirteen of which were probably either perverted or offering a diploma online. I hated having to share an account with my parents, but there wasn't anything I could do about it. Then, I saw an email with the subject line: Pokemon Ark. I opened the message and read it, my heart beating faster with each word. This could be my chance to finally escape from the hell I'd been living in for the past twelve years. Don't get me wrong. My foster parents were OK, but they weren't the kind of people to have kids of their own if you know what I mean.
The last line was the shocker: only one human-sized or smaller Pokemon per passenger. I cursed silently, wondering how I would ever choose between my beloved Pokemon, how I could decide who lived and who died. I retrieved my Poke Balls from my dresser drawer. Ninetales or Espeon?
I only had three days to reach Viridian, so I decided to leave that night. I packed the bare essentials in a backpack and vetoed sneaking out the window since it was about twenty feet from the ground with no convenient trees nearby. I would have to slip out the front door. Wonderful.
I tiptoed through the house silently, carefully avoiding the creaky board in the middle of the living room. I left a note in the kitchen, explaining where I had gone and apologising for the way I'd left. I was nearly through the door when someone grabbed my arm and roughly pulled me back inside. "Where do you think you're going?" my father demanded. I knew he knew where I was going because my note was in his hand. I decided silence was the best answer, but I was wrong.
My cheek stung where he slapped me, but I refused to let him see that it hurt. I glared at him defiantly, waiting for his next move. My apparent lack of fear seemed to make him angrier, though.
"You think you're so special, don't you? What makes you think that email was for you? Was your name on it? No, I didn't think so. Now, I want you to march right back up to your room and get to bed! I don't want you to breathe a word about this to your mother either. You hear me?"
I knew then that he was planning on leaving us here on Earth and taking the place in the Ark himself. Well, not if I had anything to do with it! As he reached for my arm to take me back inside, I dodged out of his reach and pulled out a Poke Ball.
His eyes widened in surprise as Ninetales materialised in front of him. "That's right; I have a Pokemon," I told him. "You tried to keep me restrained, but you failed. Now, Ninetales and I are leaving; we have an Ark to catch."
We walked away, Ninetales growling until the city lights had long faded away. Unconsciously, my hand slipped into my pocket and fingered my second Poke Ball. I hadn't made my decision yet, but I hoped I wouldn't have to.
I'd never been to Viridian before in my life, but the email had told me to get there in three days.
Thank God I lived in Olivine City; I could catch a ferry and, with a little luck, I'd make it there by nightfall. I looked at Wobbuffet waddling along beside me the best he could and wondered how he would cope in zero gravity. I also wondered if we'd get off the planet in time to avoid the comet and what would happen to everyone on Earth. I refused to believe they'd all just die.
I regretted not having said a proper goodbye to anyone, but it wasn't like I'd ever really been close to anyone except Wobbuffet. I wondered if he actually liked me or simply followed me out of dumb loyalty; after all, Wobbuffets aren't exactly famous for their intelligence. Nonetheless, I liked him better than practically any human being and I was glad he was coming on this journey with me.
My legs throbbed and my feet had gone numb long ago. Ninetales had offered to carry me on her back several times, but I'd refused until I collapsed just outside Olivine. It wasn't really that far from Ecruteak to Olivine, but we were pushing ourselves hard and fast. Ninetales had to carry me the rest of the way.
When I arrived at the Pokemon Center, I left Ninetales and Espeon with Nurse Joy to get a couple of hours' rest while I went to get tickets to Kanto; a special ferry had been reserved for people going on the Ark. I decided to have a little rest myself and curled up on a bench.
Nearby, a guy was talking to his Wobbuffet who seemed to have gone to sleep long ago. I dozed off to the snoring of various people and Pokemon.
"Would all members of the Pokemon Ark project please make their way to the ferry?"
"Time to go, Wobbuffet," I said as I started to walk towards the docked boat. As I walked up to the door, I realised something was missing and turned to see Wobbuffet still standing in the middle of the floor. "Wobbuffet, come on! This is the most important event in your life and you're gonna miss it!"
"Wobb!" he said as he started wobbling unsteadily across the floor. Then he fell over and, as I ran to pick him up, I realised that, as far as he was concerned, we could have been on a day trip to Mount Silver. The sooner we got off this planet the better. Muttering to myself, I called him into his Poke Ball
Then, I noticed a girl asleep on a bench. She was obviously part of the project and must have slept through the announcement. I wasn't about to leave an innocent person to die just because they hadn't woken up in time, so I walked over to wake her up. "Um . . . wake up, please," I said as I shook her.
"W - what's going on?" she asked, rubbing her eyes.
"Well, you have about two minutes to get to the boat outside before you're left behind on a dying planet. She looked around at the empty Pokemon Centre and blinked a couple of times. "You know, the Ark," I reminded her.
"Oh, right, yeah. We'd better go." Then she stood up and looked around again. "I left my Pokemon with Nurse Joy and now she's gone!" she exclaimed.
"Well, maybe they're . . ." I started. But she was way ahead of me. She ran over to the door to the treatment room and disappeared through it, calling to her Ninetales and Espeon. "I guess I'll see you on the boat then," I said to the swinging door.
The spaceport, which used to be the Viridian City Pokemon Centre, was crowded with people saying goodbye to their loved ones. I felt as though I was in a dream, my mind detached from reality, as the Crew gave us a briefing on what would happen once we'd left Earth's atmosphere.
"You have all been assigned a cabin, the number of which is printed on your boarding pass," the Captain explained. "If an emergency situation arises, you will be told to return to your cabins immediately and remain there while the Crew sort it out."
A female Crew member, dressed in the light-blue uniform of the Ark, stepped up. "The following areas are out of bounds to all passengers," she said. "The Crew's quarters, the engine room and the galley. Any Pokemon you have with you must be kept under control at all times and we would prefer it if you'd put them in their Poke Balls if you have to leave them in your cabins unsupervised."
I turned my boarding pass over and saw the words: Cabin N22 printed on it in black ink. All I had to do now was find out where I was going to be stationed for the duration of this long voyage. I was looking for someone who might be able to tell me where I was supposed to be, when I ran into two of my fellow passengers.
They were a boy and a girl and I decided I'd better introduce myself.
In all my life, I'd never seen anything that even came close to describing the spaceport at Viridian. "This place is amazing!" I told Marle. "It's . . . it's . . ."
"It's a Pokemon Centre, Jack, just like the one in Olivine, only this one has a sign on the door saying: Viridian Spaceport," she told me flatly, watching various members of the Crew walking round handing out passes.
"But, still. I mean we're standing in a real spaceport here!"
"Whatever you say," Marle said, nervously glancing at the two Poke Balls in her hand; she still hadn't decided which one to take. While she tried to decide which of her Pokemon to abandon, I continued to look round in awe. Consequently, neither of us saw the girl until she was standing barely a foot away, introducing herself.
"Hi. My name's Emily. What are yours?"
"Marle," said Marle without looking up.
I stopped admiring the interior design of this place long enough to manage a smile in Emily's direction. "I'm Jack," I said. "Isn't this place amazing?!"
"Yeah, I guess. But it's also pretty scary, don't you think?"
"People, it's a Pokemon Centre with a bit of silver foil slapped over the main desk. It isn't scary or amazing or anything like that!" Marle said, tucking her Poke Balls into her pocket.
"I didn't mean the place, I meant what it stands for," Emily told her. "Leaving everything behind . . ."
The rain was coming down hard; the water streaming down the windscreen limited my vision so much that I completely missed my house and struck the neighbour's mailbox. Cursing, I backed into the driveway and sprinted indoors before I could get much wetter. "I'm home!" I called. "Jane? You around here?"
There was food on the table, the lights were on and the TV was going full blast. I knew that, if she had gone out, Jane would have cleaned up first; she was obsessed with keeping the house immaculate.
I crept into the living room and found her with a single tear rolling down her face. She looked at me with pained eyes, her mouth moving but no sound coming out. "Hey, Jane, what's wrong?" I asked, sitting next to her.
"It's . . . Look at the news!"
I glanced at the screen where a scientist was making a commentary about the probability of a comet striking Earth. I'd seen those documentaries many times, but, as I continued to watch, I realised this was no documentary. This was the real thing. I tried to use everything I'd learned so far on my astrophysics course at college to prove the scientists wrong, but I ended up coming to the same conclusions they had. I don't know how long we stayed on that couch, but we must have been watching the news until the early hours of the morning.
When I woke up, I left Jane sleeping on the couch and went to the bedroom to check the email; they'd said something on the news about emailing people who had been chosen to leave Earth. The moment I checked my inbox and saw that I been randomly selected, I felt a wave of unreality flooding over me. I should have been elated, but something hollow opened up inside me as I glanced in the direction of the living room.
I logged out of my inbox and into Jane's. I'd known her password for months, but I'd never used it. The hollowness in my gut expanded when I saw that her inbox was empty.