A/N: (End of the story Rant)
Well, here we are at the true end of Minor Miscalculations. It's a strange feeling, to have finished another story… very strange. Writing this thing used to be a facet of my life, something I did every day, if not for very long… now, it won't be. Odd.
I wish to express my gratitude again to everyone who paid the time to review my story. This thing wouldn't exist without your help… not past the first chapter, anyway. It's reviews that kept me going this long, and its thus my reviewers I wish to give the most thanks. If you're a regular reviews (as in, 90+ of the story), then I thank you even more.
I hope this ties up the story with the clarity I opened it with, and I hope I've done justice to the universe I created. For those of you interested in more of this universe, stay tuned for more short stories in the future, or stop by our forums for some roleplaying. If you'd like to give me any feedback, on the quality of the story as a whole or just on this final chapter, please feel free to contact me. I love writing and I love roleplaying even more, so anything you have to say would be appreciated. Thanks again to all my readers, and even more to my reviewers. Thanks also to the FREAKS, who helped kept me motivated to keep writing, consciously or not.
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The next few days passed in a blur for Alvin. His parents had taken the news of his child surprisingly well, even Rick, and treated Volte better than Alvin could've ever hoped for. When it came time to tell his story, they had insisted he tell them everything, which he did, and they paid close attention, laughing in all the right places, and giving him comfort or a few minutes to himself when it came time to talk about Mia or David or any of the numerous other chu he'd known and lost during his time away. When the story was done, his parents had left him alone with Melissa and Volte, locking themselves into the office to talk for several long hours. Melissa absolutely adored Alvin's daughter, and in days the two had already become close friends. His family were surprisingly considerate, even by the standards Alvin had grown up with, and seemed too overcome with joy at Alvin's return to be critical of his actions, particularly in light on the animal instinct that had driven them. When his parents had emerged from their private meeting, they had informed him he'd be permitted to live either in his old room or the guest-house, and that they would do everything they could to help him raise volte, and finish getting them both through school. Rick would call on some old favors, and they should both be back in school when the next semester rolled around. The prospect of returning to the classroom appealed to Alvin a great deal. After spending more than a year as a pokemon, more than a year struggling to survive in the wild, the idea of spending his time in a perfectly safe and utterly monotonous school classroom, filling his mind with the learning the human race had worked so very hard to accumulate could not be more welcome.
His parents were even tolerant of his strange habits, which were neither few nor mild. Being a pikachu had twisted his mind and habits in strange and unusual ways, several of which continued to influence him even when his human body had returned. The idea of eating meat had taken several days to force back into his nature, and had not been easy by any means. Volte still wasn't willing to, and he expected, never would. She was very much the worse off of the two. Wherever her serrate knowledge had come from, it hadn't been good enough to entirely replace everything she'd ever known and acted, and hadn't been quite able to fully change her body either. Whether or not she would evolve when she became older, and Whether or not she would always be able to use electricity as she plainly could now, Alvin did not know, but he did not envy those abilities. The human body was ill suited for such tasks, and despite how excellent she'd been at it in the wild, it seemed every day or so she returned from the backyard with a burn or toy she'd accidentally melted. Her knowledge had many gaps, and though she seemed able to understand and even read written english, she knew absolutely nothing of human culture, of proper manners... the way to dress herself or use a light-switch. Teaching these things became Alvin's almost constant duty, but he didn't much mind. Things could've been far worse for her, he knew. At least they could communicate.
What did bother Alvin was the distinct lack of answers. So much had happened, he'd seen the very shadows of hell and back, and he was still clueless about the most basic things. Where had his strange dreams as a Pikachu come from? How'd he been made human again? Where was Des? What had powered the device? How did Volte know english? What had happened to the mew? Raiden, it turned out, had tried to answer all of those questions. Whether or not he'd succeeded, well... that was a matter of opinion. As it turned out, he too had been returned to his human form by aid of the device, and somehow, had managed to remain conscious. He had alerted Alvin's father to the present situation as best he could, he'd been the one to help bring them inside. He had not stayed long. As to where he had gone, or why he had left, Alvin did not know, but before he had taken his leave, he had scribbled something on the backside of a sheet of his mother's stationary. He'd read the letter so many times he'd practically memorized the words.
I first became aquatinted to David about six months ago. The manipulation process used by team rocket is both intricate and time-consuming, and much of it is spent unconscious. When your friend was first revived, he was placed under my care and supervision, where he remained until our escape. Beta-human or not, I was still a scientific head, and that position afforded me the greatest trust when it came to matters as sensitive as your good friend.
One of prime security measures with psychic betas was the continuous operation of a psionic suppression device. It had served us well in the past, but your friend proved to be an exception to that rule, just as he would prove to be with many. Despite as much food and intervenes drip as we could provide, he swiftly became bedridden, too weak to move or operate effectively. The poor creature seemed to be wasting away before our eyes... although the loss of income he would represent was far more disturbing to the higher-ups than his death. It was only on the very verge of his demise that I learned that the reason he was dying was the presence of the device itself. We've never dealt with life like this. The idea that a creature might draw strength from the telepathic energies of other life, the idea that any form of life might require constant psychic activity to survive... was baffling even to me.
The knowledge came to me quite by accident. It was in the med-lab that it happened... while adjusting the settings to one of his monitoring systems, I accidentally made contact with a patch of uncovered skin on his face. He hadn't spoken since he woke up, despite the constant threat of torture, despite the promise of extra rations and recreational time if he did... and the only message he had sent had been received by the thugs that attempted to move him, when they touched him. They'd both went instantly comatose, and still had yet to revive. It was a good thing your friend was of such value, or such acts would've likely meant his termination. Because of the enormous investment he was, and how rare his telepathic template, he'd been isolated from everyone but me, and dressed from head-to-toe in thick clothing. It was why I made contact with the only exposed area of his body that I learned. He did not lash out at me the way he had the others... rather, he was able to explain everything. He explained to me why he was dying, and why he hadn't spoke... it was a gesture of resistance, he said. His species spoke almost exclusively using telepathic means. If they kept him suppressed, his own energy would not be replenished, and his body would consume itself in an attempt to provide the energy he needed to survive. He was a telepathic species, he said. To keep him held this way was the reason the other's had been killed, as his brain had instinctively jumped and consumed this new source of energy out of pure desire for survival, before considering the consequences. Were all mew like this? He answered that question in the negative. They were supposed to get their energy from moonlight, he said... their energy came from space, from the stars... and that this lead-lined bunker had cut him off from it. He said that he would eventually starve in here anyway, but that removing at least the weakest effects of his inhibitor could prolong his death a year or more.
I asked him one more question, in our first meeting. First, why hadn't he done the same thing to me, when I touched him. David answered that my mind had been unlike the thugs that we'd tried to use to expedite his transportation across the base. He said I reminded him of you. Whether or not that's true, I don't know, but I do regret never having the chance to meet you properly. When I first broke protocol... when I deactivated some portion of the telepathic inhibitor, it seemed I'd earned David's trust. Whether or not I deserved it, I cannot say, but ever-after that time, he provided a nearly constant source of information. At first what he told me was scientific, explained that much of what he knew was coming to him from what he believed to be a sort of genetic memory, or that he suspected the device we were using to transport to the beachhead had not been designed for that purpose, but accomplished it by way of accessory to what it had been truly intended for. Eventually, he spoke of different matters, trusting me equally in everything. He told me about his best friend, accidentally changed into a pichu by a device similar to the one rocket had obtained. As it became clearer to me he would not attempt to harm me or anyone else on the base, I gradually lowered the suppressive effects on his brain to about 85 of the device's capabilities, the lowest setting the device could drop before alerting the base's computer-core there was a malfunction, and setting off the alarms. As the settings were turned down, his knowledge and power seemed to increase exponentially. Soon he informed me that he had attracted the attention of a young member of his own species willing to come to their aid... and that he had also managed to identify the mind of his good friend, only a handful of miles from the base. How ironic you too spent your years in such opposite circumstances, yet fifteen minutes by most cars.
The news he game me of you was not good. He informed me of the severe damage to your mind, that you'd almost completely forgotten of humanity, and that had you been allowed to go on for a few months longer, the damage would've been irreversible. He explained to me of his attempts to revive you remotely, of the way he sent instructions to your subconscious, the way he recovered many of your human memories, and expanded your capacity for remembering... in short, the way he revived you. When I asked him one day why we couldn't escape, it was for your sake we had not attempted what we already accomplished a few hours ago. His mew contact, from what I understood, felt herself too young to risk a conflict with the creatures rocket had created... either that, or some force restrained her from the attempt. The one matter David quickly proved an unwilling source was the matter of his species, or anything to do with their lives, habits, or nature. He seemed perfectly willing to remain in captivity, to risk death, torture, and banishment through the device for your sake... but he refused to leave. If we were to escape, he had already explained that it would be necessary to flee the content, to be free from rocket's influence and the telepathic monstrosities they would send after us. Should he do that, he would be unable to return for you... and the facility had shielding preventing conventional teleportation.
It was only a few days ago I learned that David had made serious headway with you. He said he'd done as much as could be done, and the only way to restore you in any meaningful way to your human mind and body was through the use of the device rocket had been using to send people... but that isn't important. Believe me, you're better of not knowing. I will not tell you what we've endured here, or what the full extent of your friend's changes were. That information is better left out, believe you me.
What he did tell me was that the device was part of something much larger... a piece of some machine who's task he did not reveal. What he did say was that alteration to matter was this segment's prime purpose, and that it was the best way to change you back, and the only hope for your daughter ever seeing humanity either. He explained that a true member of his species would be able to return you to a human body, but that such a process would likely try your mind beyond its limit, and would surely mean your daughter's demise. Only the device we had in our possession had any hope of giving you your body back, and more importantly, of patching together the memories he had done his best to dredge up. I do not know why your daughter's appearance was not quite corrected... I expect it has something to do with me. When the device was constructed, no such species as I existed. The machine may've returned me to humanity, but... your daughter passed through right behind me. perhaps some sort of buffering mechanism was activated, changing the ratio of human to pokemon while turned to a setting designed to give those with human minds a human body? I do not know. David did say the settings we used were added to the device long after it had been created, as a means to change the very best and most intelligent pokemon into the newest of pokemon species... humans. Whether or not this is true, I don't know. Your friend never claimed to be particularly knowledgeable, but I cannot recall a question of mind he failed to answer. I do not know Whether or not the answers he gave me were correct, but I know without a doubt he believed them to be. That's certainly enough for me... and if I really am anything like you, it's probably enough for you, too.
I wish I'd been privileged to meet either of you outside of those circumstances, and I am sorry for all the harm my organization caused you both. You can be safely sure not to find my name listed with theirs anymore, though. I knew before David arrived things weren't quite right... perhaps their indirect attempt at my life was a clue?
I do not know if I will ever see you again. The organization may be out searching for me for some time, but you can operate without fear. I don't know if the device has a cache of previous destinations, but I can safely say they'll never turn the thing on the way your friend did.
Speaking of David, I would not worry about him. I don't know if you saw what happened, but I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. For all their strength, those creatures that attacked us are completely clueless when it comes to actual knowledge. Everything they know, everything they think, they've been taught to think and taught to believe. I have no doubt that, given a few weeks, your friend could've torn them apart on his own. He did mention that the member of his species who would come was quite young... but had I to guess, I would say they would still be more than a match for those others. I can't know that for sure, of course, but you can be sure I'll be thinking it.
Before I close, there's one more thing David told me, and told me to tell you. He didn't know if he would have the courage, you see... he wanted you to know that he wouldn't be able to return. He knew that, despite the opposition, he never could have used the device the way we did. Stepping through it would have made him more-like what he was, and less like what we are. I suppose he honestly did not wish to be human again... why that could be, I haven't the foggiest. I suppose only he knows that.
Included is information for one of my foreign-soul bank accounts. I know it's impossible to put a value on a friend like David, but I really would like to do everything I can. I don't know how much money's in there, but it should be more than enough to provide for you for quite some time. Best of luck with your daughter. That's one privilege I never had.
Alvin would never know what to think of that letter. Could he believe it? Raiden didn't have any reason to lie, that he knew. Could David really be changed that much? Had fear compelled him to remain silent? He suspected he would never know. Whater had happened to David, he was gone now. There was no sense in trying himself over it. Alvin had enough on his plate as it was.
There was one bright star on the horizon, though. Two days after his return, Alvin'd found a pokeball waiting for him on his desk, balanced on the edge of his keyboard. How it had come to be be there, he did not know, any neither did the rest of his family. Everyone in his home claimed to be innocent of any knowledge. This would not have been particularly unusual, except for what it continued. He would never forget the way he felt when the storage device had first opened. Alvin had known who the pikachu was before his outline had even finished solidifying. "Des!" The boy exclaimed, darting to the place the pikachu had landed, drawing Des into a tight hug. "You're alright!"
The pokemon was confused, as well he could be expected to be, blinking from his eyes the stupor of long-term storage. He was not able to talk for several seconds, when he did... "Alvin? You're... big again?"
The boy nodded enthusiastically, returning the pikachu to the ground and jumping to his feet. Yes, he was big again. Simplistic as the communication had... wait! "Des, say something else!"
"What do you want me to say?" The pikcahu answered, tilting his head lightly to one side. The pokemon was curious, but clueless.
Alvin, on the other hand, was absolutely ecstatic. "I... I can... still... understand you, Des!" He shouted, smiling widely. "Your language... what you're saying... I can understand!" If he could still understand the language, it meant Volte would have no trouble with it... well, that would sure change the world. The machine could give you the ability to speak the language of beasts. All it cost was your humanity. His excitement did not last, though... curiosity had always been Alvin's strongest emotion. "Where were you, Des? How'd you get here?"
For some time, the pikachu remained silent, quiet... struggling to put together what little memory he had of the questions being asked, and to assemble enough of the proper words to express exactly what had happened. "I... don't... remember." He reluctantly admitted. "I was in one of those... storage... things... then you let me out..."
So the pikachu had been in storage the whole time? Since David had been captured? Well, it was no wonder he didn't seem much older, and that he even remembered Alvin. So Des wouldn't know how he had escaped from the base, or how he had been brought here. And Alvin already knew his parents didn't know. Pokeballs didn't just decide to migrate across continents. Could it be that… no, he couldn't let him think that. There were far more important things to worry about now... nevermind how Des had got here, just so long as he was here.
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"Dad, what are you doing?" Volte's voice was quiet, tentative. They still weren't sure how she knew how to speak English, or how she could understand it, for that matter, but no one had complained. The records were all in, falsified as best as was possible. Volte, or as her computer records would show, Erica, had been listed as Alvin's younger sister. It would have to stay that way, until they were both older. Alvin did not know how his parents had obtained those records, and he hadn't asked. However they'd done it, he was immensely grateful.
Still, there were a great many difficulties left unsolved. Erica's appearance could not be as easily falsified as her records were. They'd obtained wigs, liquid latex, special clothes… as much as would help. When she was sixteen, she could pretend to see a plastic surgeon… but until then, she would have to conceal her true appearance from the public. Neither Volte nor Alvin had been happy with this news, but with the prospect of medical attention and possible medical examination… it seemed far easier to conceal the truth than to reveal it.
That wasn't to say she had to do so all the time, though. Alvin's parents had been happy enough for the chance to shop for their first grandchild, so Erica dressed in a brand new sundress that'd be tailored to her tail. By some, she would probably be a travesty, some sort of unspoken evidence of human abuses… but to Alvin, she was the most bueatiful thing in the world, and no one would ever tell him different. As for the moment, he sat alone on the hard-polished piano bench, reciting the only melody that seemed to want to come to him, right now. The notes came easily, his hands moving with praticed precision, despite the years that separated him from the last he'd played it. When you knew a piece this well, it was difficult indeed to forget. "This is a piano." Alvin eventually answered, spinning round on the bench to face away from the keys. "You press these, and make different sounds…"
Erica moved closer, leaning over the bench to inspect the keys more closely. This was the first time she'd heard anyone paying the piano… the first time she'd heard music at all since she'd been human, as a matter of fact. "How do you know which one to press?"
There was no sheet music, for Alvin needed none. He could still read music, he thought… but was too afraid to check, just now. "I… I just know, I guess. Music has always been easy." The boy glanced down to his fingers, spinning back around to the piano.
Erica watced for a moment, obviously thinking hard, before climbing up onto the bench beside her father, leaning forward so that he might watch as Alvin played. She remained silent for some time, listening intently as the boy's hands danced across the keys, moving with such speed that any ordinary person would have more than a little trouble following them. Only when Alvin had finished the piece, leaning back on the bench to rest for a moment, did she speak again. "Can you teach me?"
"Sure." Alvin took his daughter in his lap, taking her tiny hands in his, and ignoring the brief electrical serge that resulted. If anyone else touched her, when she wasn't ready, they could get quite a shock… but Alvin seemed to be able to touch her without danger. "Just… this hand goes here… and this one here…" He began, setting her to play the base portion of the piece. The Moonlight Sonata was far from a simple piece, but Alvin was no teacher. Proper fundamentals weren't exactly first on his agenda. To his surprise and utter bewilderment, he needed to guide only the first few notes, before Volte took full control, playing without his guidance. She'd head the piece twice now, once watched and once with her ears only… b\and she seemed able to play. It was a shaky, yes, occasionally missing a few notes… but the feat was astounding nonetheless. Soon, she'd taken over completely, leaving Alvin to watch, dumbfounded. And so he listened, watching his daughter in his lap with absolute intensity. He tried to speak… tried to congratulate her… but couldn't so much as whisper. Watching as his daughter played the peace he'd known so well, one of many he'd used to help himself back, all those months ago.
Unseen, two pairs of eyes watched from the skylight, listening as intently as Alvin to Beethoven's fourteenth Sonata. The smaller turned to the larger, trying to conceal her tears. "Can't I say something? Alvin deserves to know…" There was no verbal answer, but the smaller seemed to understand. "Alright… alright…" As Erica finished, and the little pair moved away from the piano, so too did the observers, turning back to the clouds. "But as soon as he's recovered, I have to talk to him. And my parents…"
The other voice, like the first, made no actual sound, only a simulated telepathic tone. This simulation sounded older, wiser… but not by much. "I know. You'll get a chance, don't worry… just not now. It's not the right time, yet." The answer was satisfactory… barely. But… when was the right time? Alvin had been through enough, his life had been twisted into multiple shapes, he'd experienced loss of a degree unjust for his age, as well as the joy his daughter. And why? Had he offended some otherworldly being? Made some critical misjudgment? Or… could it all be traced to a shortcut through the woods, and a few minor miscalculations?