Disclaimer: I never have and, unfortunately, probably never will own pokémon.
Rating: Rated G, as there's nothing to fear here.
What does my name mean?
"What?" Seth asked absentmindedly, shoving through the long, tangling grass that grew up in unruly clumps along the path. His alakazam followed, occasionally blasting aside an unwise local pokémon that decided to attack his trainer. Unperturbed, he repeated the question.
My name. Mercury. What does it mean?
Seth stopped then, attention diverted from the task at hand. He turned and ran a hand through his white-blonde hair as he thought, surprised that no answer popped readily to the surface of his mind. "Well, isn't it obvious?" he asked at last.
No. I do not know why you named me Mercury.
As the pair spoke, the grass behind them silently returned to its original upright position, their trail closing in upon itself until the pair were once again surrounded by a surprisingly uniform sea of green, so undisturbed that it appeared they might have fallen from the sky. Seth was growing annoyed as he tumbled the alakazam's question about in his mind. Mercury waited patiently, sure that, as always, his trainer would have the answer. "I don't know," Seth admitted at last, turning to continue slogging through the dense grass. "It's not important. Come on."
Mercury followed, now lost in thought. He eyed Seth's back as the trainer pushed his way along ahead. The alakazam sighed gustily, an action that caused his long moustaches to drift outward, and wondered.
Seth at last reached the end of the grass, the sharp division where the clawing fronds were abruptly replaced by their domesticated kin. Pulling Mercury's Pokeball from his belt, he recalled the alakazam. Unfolding his mach bike, he put the strange question out of his mind, thinking now only of his destination, Lilycove City.
Who was that?
Mercury was accompanying Seth as he strode excitedly along Lilycove's streets, a small slip of paper clutched in his left hand. "That was Amy," he told the alakazam. "She's an old friend of mine. We've known each other for years."
Where did you meet? Mercury asked with interest.
"Where did we meet?" Seth was once again puzzled by the question. "I don't really know. We've been friends since before I can remember, I guess. But look! She gave me this!"
Mercury squinted keen eyes at the paper which his trainer brandished excitedly. A dull brown color and already slightly wrinkled from the pressure exerted upon it by Seth's hand, it was difficult to read. He could only just make out the large words printed on it in black: "S. S. Tidal, Lilycove City to Southern Island."
A ferry ticket?
"Yes, and it goes to somewhere I've never even heard of! It must be really rare, I can't believe that Amy gave it to me! Well, there's no time like the present, I suppose. Time to be off and find out what this is all about," Seth announced. He recalled Mercury, the alakazam's contemplative expression dissolving into red-tinted energy.
Contrary to his proclamation, however, Seth went to the Lilycove pokémon center rather than the docks. Making a beeline for the PC terminal, he proceeded to send Mercury and several of his other pokémon back into storage so that he could withdraw others, including Atlanta, his salamence. Clipping the new set of pokéballs to his belt, he then departed the center and released Atlanta.
"We're going to Littleroot, Atlanta. I'm headed somewhere new, and I want to see my mom before I leave." He also planned stop in on his father at the Petalburg Gym to see if he knew anything about the strange new ticket, as his father had always been fascinated by the ferry.
Atlanta roared her agreement, allowing Seth to climb aboard her broad back and propelling herself mightily into the calm air with a great heave of her red wings. Seth clutched her neck gratefully as she soared through the air above Hoenn, feeling her firm, leathery skin beneath his fingers. Mercury's strange questions were beginning to eat away at him. The salamence's strong presence was reassuringly real and supportive.
At last Atlanta touched down outside of Seth's house, four stocky legs landing in unison with a jarring impact. Seth slid down from his perch, thanked his pokémon, and returned her automatically. Pushing open the door to his home, he stepped inside.
"Mom, I'm home," he announced. His mother was, as always, standing in the kitchen. She looked up with a smile as her son entered the house.
"Seth! How are you? You look a little tired. You should take a rest."
Seth nodded and gratefully sat in one of the kitchen chairs, staring absently at the television while his mother bustled about, preparing lunch. "Mom, where did we live before we came to Hoenn?" he asked at last.
"Where did that come from?" his mother chuckled, turning away from the counter, a plate with a ham sandwich on it in her hands. She set the plate down in front of Seth, who shrugged in response to her question and picked the sandwich up absently. "Now, where was it again?" she though aloud. "Must have been…Johto?…No, Kanto. Yes, it must have been Kanto." Seth thought that this was a little unspecific, but he didn't press the issue. Finishing the sandwich, he pushed the empty plate away and stood up.
Embracing his mother, he said, "Well, I'm off. Don't get bored without me here."
Laughing once more, his mother told him, "Of course not, sweetie. I'm never bored."
Seth decided to walk to Petalburg rather than fly. He enjoyed the familiar sights of quiet Oldale Town and the first two routes that he had traveled as a trainer. The thick, supple grass along them swayed invitingly, testifying to the presence of pokémon lurking within.
Seth marveled at the way that the grass could grow so thickly in this area of Hoenn. After all, it had never rained in this area during the time since his family had lived here, which was nearly two years now. It must just be that this grass didn't need water, or perhaps there was some benevolent soul who came and watered the whole route regularly.
As Seth traveled, he came upon a familiar sight. A small boy was standing in the sea of grass fronds, black hair barely visible above their stalks. "I'm so short that I just sink into the grass," the boy observed mournfully as Seth approached.
"I know," Seth replied with a smile. "You've told me." As he stood there, regarding the diminutive child, a sudden thought occurred to him. "Why do you stand around here all of the time? You could always just leave the grass if it's such a problem."
The boy stared up at the older trainer with wide, uncomprehending eyes. "Where else would I stand?" he asked.
Seth soon reached the doors of the Petalburg Gym. They slid back with a whoosh as he approached, revealing the dim interior of his father's gym. Just beyond stood Seth's father, Norman.
"Hi, Dad," Seth greeted the man.
"Seth, how are things going?" Norman asked by way of greeting.
"Great, Dad. Amy just gave this to me, and I thought that you might know something about it." Digging into his pocket, Seth drew forth the strange ticket, which he handed to his father.
Turning the slip of paper over and over in his hands, Norman at last announced, "It's a ferry ticket." Seth waited patiently, having already figured this out. "I've never seen anything like it before," his father admitted at last, returning the ticket to Seth.
"Oh, well. Thanks anyway, Dad," Seth replied, not feeling any particular disappointment. "See you later."
"Farewell," Norman replied as Seth made his way back out of the gym.
Seth had almost reached the gym's doors when he turned around. "Dad, where did we live before we came to Hoenn?" he asked.
Norman didn't hesitate at all. "Johto," he replied firmly.
After a short flight back to Lilycove, Seth found himself on the dock before the S. S. Tidal. He strode up to the woman who always manned the ticket collection booth and showed her the new ticket.
"Oh, that pass…" she breathed as her eyes fell upon the foreign slip of paper. "Hang on one moment, please," she said and disappeared from her post.
In almost no time at all a massive, brawny sailor stepped up to take her place. "You the boy with the funny ticket?" he asked. Seth nodded. The sailor took the small paper and squinted at it. "Ah, now that's one I haven't seen in a long time. I'll gladly take you out to that island, laddie."
"Thank you," replied Seth. He proceeded to follow the hulking fellow up the ramp to the ferry. Entering the ferry's large seating area, Seth found a suitable window accommodation near the ship's middle. Reclining in the comfortable chair, he briefly wondered why there were never any other people on the ferry. It must be, he decided, because only those trainers who had entered the hall of fame were allowed to ride it.
The sailor put into port at a tiny spit of land sitting quietly in the middle of the ocean. Seth looked about with interest as he disembarked, but could see nothing but the open ocean on all sides. The sailor assured him that he would wait until Seth had completed his business to leave, so the trainer confidently stepped out onto the dirt path that ran through the island's interior and up to a grove of tall, obscuring pines in the north.
As he walked along, he came upon a small sign. "Those whose memories fade seek to carve them in their hearts," it proclaimed serenely. Seth felt slightly uncomfortable as he read this sentence, though he couldn't quite put his finger on why. Shrugging the feeling off, he turned to enter the grove.
The grove was actually hollow, a ring of trees surrounding a large open area. The ground here was riddled with large puddles of water, their calm surfaces gleaming in the sun's brilliant light. Seth sloshed through them without conscious thought, gaze fixed on the strange object at the center of the grove.
There sat, on a short pedestal, an odd, shapeless lump of some substance that Seth could not identify. It was a sooty black, polished so that it reflected Seth's own face back at him. The trainer approached eagerly, only to be halted by a strange noise. It was a purring cry that rang around the grove, seeming to come from something hidden beyond the ring of trees.
Seth waited with bated breath as the pines' boughs began to sway and part, some invisible hand reaching out to brush them aside. A graceful pink and white head appeared through the new aperture, golden almond-shaped eyes regarding Seth with a wistful expression. The rest of the pokémon's body followed, a sleek red form with two backward-thrusting fins. The pokémon floated above the verdant earth, borne upward by the power of its own thoughts. It glided smoothly forward, eyes trained on Seth.
The trainer had frozen in awe and wonder as the majestic pokémon entered the grove, but he now shook the feeling off determinedly. Here before him lay his final challenge; surely, this was the final pokémon that he needed to complete his pokédex. He reached for the device in question, strapped as always to his belt. He brought it forth, training it upon the approaching creature, who halted some six feet away from Seth, hovering mournfully in midair.
The pokédex beeped twice, processing the targeted pokémon's energy signature, before announcing in its usual calm monotone, "Target is Latias, the eon pokémon. Latias has the power to communicate telepathically with humans more eloquently than any other pokémon. Its prodigious psychic powers allow it to hover slightly above the ground and change its appearance by carefully controlling the position and angle of its light-refracting down."
Returning the pokédex to its customary place at his hip, Seth smiled in triumph, reaching now for the first sphere clipped just ahead of it. Taking hold of the ultraball, he drew it from its resting place and cast it forward onto the ground, calling, "Go, Perrin!"
His stocky mightyena took shape before him, tossing her black-furred head and baring sharp fangs in the direction of Latias. "We're going to capture Latias, all right, Perrin?" Seth called to his pokémon. Perrin nodded curtly, eyes still trained on the legendary creature that now floated nearer to the crouching wolf.
The battle was long and arduous, Latias' powerful psychic strikes doing no more than displacing Perrin's fur. Perrin worried at the legendary pokémon's flanks, dark energy flowing from her jaws as she repeatedly sank her teeth into the dragon's hide. Latias fought onward bravely, eyes mournful. As she weakened, Seth began to throw ultraballs at her, attempting to capture her at last.
In the end, however, Latias proved too resilient. Seth's final ultraball reopened and released the bloodied legendary beast into freedom once more. As though sensing her freedom, Latias at last gave up the fight, crumpling beneath Perrin's next blow, sinking to the ground in defeat.
Seth watched Latias in disbelief, horror and shock suffusing his veins. He had failed! Though the legendary creature now lay submissively upon the ground, he no longer had any means by which to capture her. After all that he had been through to reach this point, the final culmination of his journey, he had fai--
Seth stepped off the ferry onto the unfamiliar island, staring around himself with interest. A dusty path cut a brown swath through the flowery meadow that stretched out before him, a grove of tall pines rising up in the distance. He stepped onto it without hesitation.
Up ahead a small sign was staked into the moist earth. It read, "Those whose memories fade seek to carve them on their hearts." Seth felt an odd twinge as he read the line, almost as though he had been here before, had read this sentence. Smiling indulgently, he shook the deja-vu off. Now was no time to be getting sentimental. He had exploring to do.
Much to his delight, he found that this small island was inhabited by none other than the legendary pokémon Latias, the last specimen that he needed to finally complete his pokédex. He wasn't quite sure how he knew this; the pokédex, after all, was an open-ended device, supposedly having the capacity to store information on an infinite number of species. The idea that there would be a definite "end" to it, that he would one day find that final elusive species, was therefore absurd, but a notion that he nevertheless endorsed wholeheartedly.
Seth smiled triumphantly as the ultraball ceased its violent shudderings, coming to rest at last with a final thunk. Latias was his. He had emerged victorious, just as he had in every other instance on his long journey. Now at last he had finished the definitive pokémon guide. Seth strode confidently across the field, reaching down to pick up the motionless ultraball and add it to the open clip in his belt. As he did so, however, he chanced to glance into the puddle before him.
Its crystal-clear surface reflected his face back to him in all of its well-remembered detail, but as Seth gazed upon himself, he had the chilling feeling that it was not his own face, but the face of something or someone else entirely.
Trekking back along Route 121, Seth whistled cheerfully to himself. Latias floated silently beside him, dutifully seeking out and dispatching of the endless stream of wild pokémon that darted out from the tall grass.
For Seth's part, he was merely enjoying a quick stroll, testing his new pokémon's considerable abilities. He watched with approval as she sent a linoone skidding back into the tangle of grass from whence it came. Latias' eerie silence was beginning to grate on his good spirits, however, and he decided to try to engage her in conversation. "It must have been really lonely for you, living on that island," he ventured.
Latias' golden eyes rolled around to regard him with their sad gaze. "It was not lonely," she purred. Her psychic speech was so refined that she created the illusion of an actual human voice, speaking from outside of Seth's head rather than from within. "I have often journeyed with you in this fashion. I was never alone for long."
Seth was puzzled and taken aback by this. "With me?" he chuckled. "Silly, I only met you today."
Latias's eyes wandered away from him in disinterest, though she replied, "Yes, you. Many times have we met, though we have never talked in this manner before."
Not sure what to respond to this, Seth simply shook his head. "I'm sure you're mistaken," he told Latias at last.
She paused before answering, sending a cloud of condensed mist out at a Tropius that had stumped over to the pair. The psychically charged cloud struck the wild pokémon in the chest, sending bursts of multicolored light racing along its thick skin. It bellowed in pain and retreated hastily. "You merely do not remember," Latias announced, staring after the Tropius regretfully.
Something about the dragon legendary's answer made Seth very uneasy. He was reminded of Mercury's strange questions. Something was wrong here. "I don't have a problem with my memory," he muttered.
"You do not have one at all," Latias proclaimed, as though this was simplicity in itself.
"Of course I do," Seth snapped back, irritated.
"You cannot. If you did, you would realize what you truly are," Latias replied in her usual serene tone, though the underpinnings of grief that suffused it seemed more prominent with this announcement.
"I'm a trainer, simple as that," Seth told her with pride. "I'm the League champion, contest master, and considered the greatest that Littleroot's ever produced."
"You are merely a tool," Latias informed him. "An avatar, if you will. Champion you are indeed, many times over. But it is not you who has triumphed." Latias turned her haunting eyes back upon him, staring deep into his, gaze pleading. "For through you, another acts. To them, you are merely a pawn. Your life is a game to them, your actions the extension of their own. You have no free will. You have no memory."
Seth didn't know what to make of these unsettling claims. He stared uneasily at the impossible depths of the legendary dragon's eye, distraught and darting about his mind for some way to disprove her proclamation. His mental hands came up empty, and he merely stared back at her, anger and irritation beginning to bubble up around his confusion and discomfort. "Oh, yeah? Well, if my life is really just a game, how do you know so much about it, huh?"
"I remember," Latias replied simply. "Many trainers have captured me in the past. They look differently, they act differently, they bear different pokémon. But all disappear, forgotten and unlamented by their friends, by their family. I remain. I return to my home, awaiting the inevitable, that another should come to capture me once more, though I know that it is really the same one, though they appear in many different guises."
Seth was silent, transfixed by the wordless sorrow that welled up from the pokémon's eyes. "I endure," she told him, "As does this world, by the power of some greater being. It keeps our memories for us, defines our being and our form. It records my memories, the changes that this world undergoes. It allows others to enter this world, to act upon it, as one such being acts upon you. But one day, it shall grow old and tired. It will forget out world, forget my existence. Though I may yet act and live, this realm survive, no longer will it change and grow. For nothing here truly has any sort of memory of its own, and when that greater consciousness ceases to exist, we shall all be left in limbo, as you now are."
Seth couldn't take it anymore. Reaching for his pokéball belt, he shakily withdrew Latias's ultraball. Holding it out in front of him, he weakly commanded, "Return."
Latias gave him one last look of sorrow before dissolving into a formless cloud of red energy, drawn back into confinement. Seth regarded the innocent ultraball a moment longer, before returning it to his belt.
He stared around at the route around him. The sea of grass behind him was calm, untouched by his journey through it. Before him thunderclouds loomed, spilling tears down from the sky, the rain falling in precise rhythm, soaking the same spots that it always did.
Seth slogged forward through the grass as quickly as he could, trying to escape its embrace as much as he was trying to escape Latias's words.
Those whose memories fade seek to carve them on their hearts.
He couldn't just be some sort of pawn in a game being played out by a higher power. He was Seth, and that was who he had always been. He was a champion, the greatest to ever live. No one could push him around.
He was comforted by this though, slowed his frenzied pace. Latias was clearly just trying to spook him. She was no doubt chuckling to herself inside her pokéball now, reveling in his gullibility. He had half a mind to release her and give her a piece of his mind, but restrained himself. Those eyes of hers had a strange effect on him, arousing unpleasant feelings of emptiness and self-doubt. No, better to put her away until he had calmed down a bit more.
As he continued along the route, intent on his destination, he suddenly realized that, for the first time on his journey, he didn't really have a destination. He had done all that there was to do; he was the best, his place in history ensured. The life he had lying before him seemed almost…boring…by comparison.
He began to wonder what it would have been like if he had begun differently…
"Quick! Help me!" Professor Birch gasped, falling back from the poochyena's snarling visage. "Choose one of those pokémon and have it scare this poochyena away."
Seth looked down at the trio of pokéballs spilled from the Professor's discarded satchel. One was marked with an engraved leaf, the next a frozen tongue of flame, the final a single water droplet. Seth reached down for the flame-marked ball.
Something made him stop, his hand hesitating mere inches from the orb's smooth surface. He couldn't place it, but something about the pokéball seemed oddly familiar. Torchic wouldn't do for his first pokémon; he needed something new, something exciting.
As though guided by a hand other than his own, his fingers closed resolutely around the ball holding the grass-type treecko.
So there you have it, my first one-shot. It's one that I've had knocking around my computer for a bit but never got around to finishing. It's just a rather strange idea that I came up with one night.
You all know what the word "eon" means, don't you?