Deus Ex Pokéball
It is customary for a boy who seeks to become a Pokémon trainer to begin his travels at the age of ten.
Matthew Watson, however, was not average. At the age of nine, he decided that he had done enough research on Pokémon to be able to set out on his journey, and waiting until his birthday would not be to any advantage. His family supported his decision fully, and he convinced the rest of the town of Jubilife easily by rattling off an impressive amount of information regarding the proper capture and care of Pokémon.
It was a week later when the time came for him to receive his first Pokémon and start his adventure. With a Pokéball containing Turtwig firmly in hand, he started saying his farewells to his friends in the town.
His father smiled. It was so nice to see his children show such interest in the quest that he had once undertaken back when he was youthful. He was certain that Matthew was going to become one of the best. He had told him that repeatedly, just like he had said it to his eldest son Oliver two years prior, and he intended for Connor to hear the same words when it came time for his journey.
His wife walked up behind him. "You know that look in their eyes when they see their first Pokémon? I love that look."
He turned to her. "I only wish I could still live that kind of moment."
She frowned. "Carl, please don't think that way. You've accomplished more in thirty years of training than most trainers do in their whole lives. If nothing else, you should be happy for that."
"I loved to battle. I loved the glory of victory. I liked meeting new people. What has happened to me?"
"You've just gotten older, that's all. People change. Their interests change."
"I think you're right. For now, let us see Matthew off. He still has many wonderful experiences ahead of him."
On a bright and sunny August afternoon eight years later, Peter Byrd, a student and budding Pokémon nutritionist, opened the door to his dorm room to find his roommate packing a number of personal items into a box.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
Connor Watson, the youngest of the three Watson siblings, merely gestured in the direction of his computer monitor. Peter turned his head and glanced at the screen to read the email that had arrived a mere hour before.
Connor - Your father is dying. Return home. - Mom
Peter stared at him. "Are you serious? Man, I'm so sorry."
Connor did his best to wipe the tears from his eyes. "Don't worry about it. I think he's been heading that way for years now."
"Oh? He's been sick?"
"Nah, not quite. Just... depressed. It's like something's been missing from his life ever since he retired."
"Your father... you said he was a Pokémon League champion?"
"Yeah. They said he was unstoppable. Trained some of the rarest Pokémon in the world, won tournaments in at least three archipelagos, even contributed heavily to the Pokédex project."
"Man. I wish I'd known him."
"He taught my brothers how to be Pokémon trainers", Connor said. He glanced around his dorm room at the technical equipment and scientific implements that he had decided against bringing on this trip. "And he taught me that I didn't need to be one."
The academy was situated on an island, requiring a trip by air or sea to reach the mainland. Connor preferred buying a ship ticket. It was more scenic, he could actually move around and stretch during the trip, and the entertainment and food service was much better. It didn't take more than an hour longer than flight, and even then, he could relax and enjoy the trip.
Some students would use Surf. Connor was not one of them. And as his vessel left the dock, he started thinking about why that was the case.
"Daddy, why are the animals hitting each other?"
"Well, Connor, that's what we call a Pokémon battle. It's a test to see which one is stronger."
"But they're getting hurt!"
"They will be made better again after the match. And the harder they fight, the stronger they become. It's for their own good."
"But why do they have to be strong? Why can't they be happy?"
"Strong Pokémon live longer. They have more time to be happy. You, too, will have the chance to help them become strong."
"But I don't want to make them fight!"
"It's just what they do. It's what they're good at."
"Then why don't you make them fight anymore?"
Connor's father frowned. It had been so long since he had been in a Pokémon battle. He used to enjoy it so much, but now, all there was was unhappiness. Maybe his son realized something that he didn't.
There was certainly a way to find out.
"It is getting close to your tenth birthday, Connor. Now is the time to think about if you want to train Pokémon or not."
"If you do not wish to do so, it is okay. I won't force you to make them hurt each other if you don't want to."
Connor never became a Pokémon trainer. He never needed to. He never wanted to. Instead, he strove to do well in his studies, in hopes that he would become great in another field.
At the age of 14, he had received an invitation to study abroad, and he happily accepted it. He had been going to this academy for a year now, and he was quickly finding himself interested in the sciences. It was a distinguished field, he decided, and one that could benefit humanity as well as Pokémon.
But unknown to him, he was about to go on a Pokémon adventure of his own. It would not be long or far, but it would be an arduous ordeal that would test him physically, mentally and emotionally. And all without a single battle.
After the ship pulled into the Jubilife harbor, Connor disembarked to find that his mother was already waiting for him. The two embraced.
The mother was the first to speak. "It's been so long since I saw you!"
"I missed you, too, mom. But it's only been a year."
"It felt much longer than that. It's so lonely here now..."
"How is father feeling? Can I see him?"
"...he passed away three hours ago."
His mother was clearly crying. Connor did his best to comfort her.
When the two arrived back at the Watson family estate, his brothers were already there. Oliver, the eldest at 19, seemed the most distraught of the siblings, while Matthew was doing his best to calm him down. The three spent the remainder of the evening talking about their experiences while their mother took care of arrangements for the funeral.
Friends and family would show up repeatedly during the next few days. Connor could hardly remember most of them. They would show their respects, speak for a while with the family, and then move on.
"Who are these people?" Connor asked Matthew after having greeted a number of burly-looking men who didn't resemble anyone the family knew.
"They're probably from the tournament circuit", Matthew replied. "Father made a lot of rivals on his way to the top, you know. I wouldn't be surprised if most of them missed the challenge."
"You'll have competition of your own, I guess."
"Father is a tough act to follow. Oliver and I are trying. I'm still kinda surprised you weren't interested."
Connor sighed. "Even with Pokémon around, we're still human. We still need to make advances for ourselves if we plan to flourish."
Matthew nodded. He was a big fan of Pokémon training, but his brother had a point nonetheless.
Oliver joined in. "So you're gonna be headed back to the academy after this?"
"Yeah. There's not a lot for me to do here now. I'll keep in touch."
Matthew grinned. "Take care of yourself, then."
Their mother interrupted. "Actually, I was hoping I could talk to you three boys in the other room first."
The room that awaited the four family members remained dark, even after an effort to turn on the lights. Cobwebs lined the corners, and the computer desk that rested on the opposite side of the room was covered in dust.
"Your father had quite a reputation as a trainer and tournament champion. Some say it was his skill at handling his creatures. Others claim it was the creatures themselves, and their willingness to follow instructions and improve their abilities."
As she monologued, she started up the PC. After she typed a few commands, the screen was displaying information regarding three Pokémon that had been stored within. All three had been given nicknames. None were descriptive.
"Either way, he kept some of his strongest Pokémon in this PC." Another click later, three dust-covered Pokéballs were ejected from the machine. "I think he would have wanted you three to take care of them and train them."
Oliver sniffled, nodded, and picked up one of the Pokéballs silently. As he backed away, Matthew stepped forward to look at the remaining two.
"But... I'm not a Pokémon trainer", Connor protested. "I have no use for one."
His mother looked at him pleadingly. "Please, honey. Your father loved you and your brothers equally, and he supported you even when you didn't follow in his footsteps. It wouldn't be right for you to not receive your equal share of the inheritance."
"You don't have to fight", Matthew added, holding up the Pokéball that he had selected during the conversation. "Just keep it. Take care of it. Dad will be happy to know that his Pokémon will not have been ignored."
Connor sighed. "If it's for Dad... I will."
With some hesitation, he picked up the last Pokéball.
The next day, after the burial ceremony was finished, Connor was walking back to his family's estate when Oliver shouted for him.
"Hey, Connor! I'm about to find out what Pokémon I received! Want to join me?"
"I don't really see the need", Connor replied.
"I'm serious. Who knows? If I got one that's suitable for a scientist and you got a tough brawler, wouldn't you want to trade them?"
Connor had to admit that his brother had a point. As much as he thought of himself as the smart brother of the family, his siblings weren't dense.
"Matthew already opened his. It's a Drapion."
"Okay... what's a Drapion?"
"Well, it's an evolved Skorupi. You probably don't want it. It's got a couple claws and a stinger on its tail. It's a combination Poison and Dark, making it great on offense and immune to Psychic-type attacks. It also has tough armor that..."
"...I can't say I care."
Oliver frowned. "You could at least pretend to be interested."
"...fine. Whatever. What do you have?"
Oliver took his Pokéball and tossed it a fair distance away from himself. It opened up to reveal a tall orange dragon with wings.
"A Charizard? I was working toward a water set, but I suppose I can find some use for this."
"What's it do?" Connor asked.
Oliver smiled. "That's more like it. Well, it flies, it breathes fire, it's a strong physical fighter... this one really isn't your type at all, but I suppose it'd be better than Drapion if you want to switch."
Connor nodded. "I'd better get this over with, then." He threw his Pokéball a few feet in front of him. It popped open, and...
"Something's wrong", Oliver noted.
Oliver walked up to the Pokéball and nudged it with his foot. "It's empty."
"What's that mean?"
"I guess it means you got lucky. You don't have to put up with one of these Pokémon you hate so much."
"I don't hate them", Connor objected. "I just don't have any interest in them."
"You need to look around you, bro. Pokémon are a massive part of our environment. Many of our advances were only accomplished by studying them. Like it or not, Pokémon are a large part of who we are. The sooner you accept this, the better."
"I'd hate to be so dependent on an unpredictable population."
"That's why we train them. We make them dependable."
"Say what you will."
Their mother shouted from the house. "Dinner's served!"
Oliver smirked. "Mom probably fixed some kinda cooked Pokémon."
"Cut it out!"
Connor remained awake for a long time that night.
Why couldn't his brothers understand his logic? Why couldn't they see that people needed to take care of their own advances, rather than always having to associate themselves with Pokémon? What would happen to humanity if Pokémon suddenly became extinct? And just how were they improving life by forcing them to beat each other up until they lost consciousness?
He looked again at the Pokéball that rested on the table near his bed. How fitting, he considered. A manmade device designed to aid a Pokémon, with no Pokémon anywhere near it. All in all, a wasted effort. But it was the thought that counted, right?
Grimacing, he pounded the table with his fist, causing the Pokéball to roll off and strike the ground. As it did, the ball opened, and the room lit up suddenly.
There had been something in the Pokéball after all. Before Connor stood a tall white-colored creature that resembled a horse. Its four golden-tipped hooves rested lightly upon the ground, matching the color of the odd frame that surrounded its body where a saddle would normally be placed. Part of its body extended upward from above the front legs, making the creature almost look like an armless centaur. The head rose from the body, covered in a long, bright white mane that brushed against the ceiling as its dark face stared at the boy with bright green eyes.
"What are you?" Connor had to ask.
The creature didn't respond. Instead, it took a step away, only to stumble slightly. Upon closer inspection, Connor could tell that the creature was bruised and injured. What had happened to it? Had his father not properly maintained it?
The creature looked at Connor, then backed away a few additional steps.
"There's no need to worry. I'll see if I can get you all fixed up in the morning, okay? You'll feel much better."
The creature turned and started knocking its hooves at the wall.
"Stop that! I said I'd help you!"
More clopping. At this rate, it would wake up the rest of the family.
Connor dropped from his bed to the floor and grabbed the Pokéball from where it had fallen. He hoped he knew how to do this right.
The creature regarded him with sad eyes, and then it returned to the Pokéball.
Connor sighed. He hadn't considered what he would do with an actual Pokémon, and it seemed he was already having trouble before he had even started.
Tomorrow, he would fulfill his promise, as well as ask his brothers for help. But tonight, it was time for him to rest.
Connor brought his Pokéball with him when he left the house the next morning.
"Okay, it's time for you to wake up!" he shouted as he tossed the Pokéball. As it opened, the white glow nearly blinded him again.
"First, let me take a look at your injur...ies..."
Something must have happened to this creature overnight. It was now towering over the surprised youth. If it remained to scale, his estimate of its width would put its height at approximately 100 feet tall. He could not even see its face anymore. On the brighter side, it no longer appeared to be hurt.
"What... what happened to you? I can't take care of you like that!" Indeed, Connor considered, it could destroy the house if it was its desire.
It raised a massive hoof and sent it crashing down upon the ground. A few windows shattered from the impact. The resulting tremor caused Connor to lose his balance and fall on his back, surprised but not injured. Before he could recover, the hoof came down again, more slowly this time, and pressed his lower body against the earth.
As Connor looked up at the gargantuan creature, it lifted its other front leg in front of its chest. Suddenly he felt lighter than before, and he noticed that he was starting to float into the air. As he looked down, he saw his body still on the ground, covered by the immense creature's hoof.
"What are you doing?"
Then all he saw was the raised hoof, as his soul-like body planted itself firmly upon it. He tried to struggle, but he was held tightly.
"...what do you want?"
As the leg was raised higher, he found himself staring directly at the giant creature's darkened face. It glared at him.
"What are you doing? Let me go!" Connor shouted.
The creature did not change its expression. Instead, it brought its hoof down to its chest again, pressing Connor's body roughly against
Connor woke up in a cold sweat.
"Connor! Breakfast's ready!"
He heard a light rapping at the door. "Pokémon again! Mmm, delicious!"
"Knock it off, Oliver!" Connor shouted as he grabbed some of his clothes and put them on quickly.
After the meal was concluded, Connor asked Matthew to come with him.
"Did Oliver tell you about my Pokéball?"
Matthew nodded. "Empty. What a letdown, huh?"
"It wasn't. There's something in there. And it's hurt."
"Really? What kind?"
"I don't know. It's kinda like a white horse."
"A Ponyta or a Rapidash, probably. You got lucky. That kind of Pokémon would be great for you. You could take care of it and ride it around. You wouldn't have to battle or anything."
Connor grinned. He hadn't considered that. "You might be right, but I don't think it likes me."
"It may be higher level. You probably need to prove yourself before it will listen to you. Father wouldn't have had that problem."
"So how do I get it to listen to me?"
"Oliver and I will show you later. Right now, you need to head to the Pokémon Center. You said it was hurt, right?"
"What's a Pokémon Center?"
"It's kinda like our home base. They've got just about everything a Pokémon trainer needs. More importantly, they treat sick and injured Pokémon."
"Three blocks down, take a left. Big building. You can't miss it."
"Thanks. I'll try to be back in time for lunch."
It was indeed one of the largest buildings in the city. Connor had seen it many times in his youth. He had never actually been in the facility, as his father would always be the one who needed to do stuff there.
Upon entry, he noticed a number of nurses on duty, as well as a few Pokémon. Indeed, this place seemed to have a very high amount of employment. It's just as well, Connor thought. That meant there would be no shortage of labor there if he pursued his own career path.
He walked up to the front desk. "I have an injured Pokémon. Can you help it?"
The nurse smiled. "Certainly, sir. Just the one?"
Connor rubbed his head. "Yeah. I'm not really much of a trainer. I only have the one. So how much do I owe you?"
"Don't be silly. We wouldn't dare charge you for helping your hurt Pokémon."
As she took the Pokéball and placed it in a device behind her, Connor boggled. This place would treat his Pokémon for free? With hospital bills for people as high as they were, it didn't sound like much of a balance of interest. In fact, he wondered, maybe his father's life could have been saved if they had put that kind of effort into...
...no, don't go there, he thought. It's not their fault. It was father's time, that's all.
The nurse came back in time for him to finish his thought. "Here you go, sir", she said, handing the Pokéball back to him.
Connor had to ask. "Do you happen to know what kind of Pokémon this is?"
"I was wondering that myself. I've never seen such a nice-looking horse before. Where did you get it?"
"It's not important. Thank you very much for your help!"
Connor returned to his family's estate to find that Oliver and Matthew were already waiting for him.
Matthew spoke up first. "Is it feeling better?"
Connor shrugged. "I haven't the foggiest. They used some kind of machine. I never got to see the results."
"Well, let's take a look."
Connor tossed the Pokéball to the ground. It opened up again.
The three patiently waited.
"Not again", Oliver groaned.
"There's something in there", Connor said immediately.
Matthew frowned. "I don't see anything."
"Seriously! It was in my room last night. The nurse can also vouch for it."
"I didn't say you were lying. Whatever it is must be timid or something."
"How do we fix that?"
Matthew smiled. "You need to earn its trust."
"I can't do that. The thing hates me!"
"How do you know?"
"The whole time it was released, it was trying to get away from me."
"Then let's try a different strategy", Matthew said. "Let's get you another Pokémon and see if you can handle it. Maybe if you prove you can handle it, the other one'll open up to you."
Connor started to wonder if this was a ruse. "I told you! I don't wanna be a trainer!"
"It's just training. You don't have to battle."
Oliver reached into his pocket and pulled out a Pokéball. "I think you might like this one."
"What one?" Connor asked.
"It's a Pidgey. It's still low level and it hasn't been in many battles, but it should listen to you easily. I've got a better one, so I can spare this one."
"Are you sure?"
"Anything for my bro."
Connor considered this for a moment, then smiled. "I'll give it a chance." He threw this Pokéball as well. It opened up, and...
Matthew looked at Oliver. "That wasn't nice."
Oliver shook his head. "I'm serious! That's my Pidgey in there! Why isn't it coming out?"
Connor sighed. "I guess I'm just not cut out to be a trainer."
"Don't say that. You said you got it to work before, right?"
"I have no idea what I did that time."
"Just hold onto both of them. I think they'll start listening to you eventually."
"You think so?"
"You're not that bad of a failure."
"Oliver!" Matthew admonished.
"I was kidding. Seriously, I believe in you. Just keep trying."
"If you say so", Connor said hesitantly.
"Mom, I have a question."
The woman looked up from the meal she was preparing to look at her youngest child. "What is it?"
"Do you know anything about the Pokémon Dad kept?" Connor looked hopeful.
She frowned. "Some of them. I don't know how many he kept, but I kept records of his tournament matches."
"Can I take a look through them?"
"Sure." She raised an eyebrow. "Are you getting interested in Pokémon?"
"I'm not sure. I just have a lot of questions."
Connor had done some research that afternoon. Unfortunately, he was unable to find any Pokémon that resembled his new possession. He had specifically looked up Ponyta and Rapidash, and the accompanying pictures looked nothing like what he was looking for.
The next step, naturally, was to search his father's records.
The scrapbooks were neatly organized, and Connor could tell that his mother had taken a lot of interest in his father's competitive matches. She may have even been a fan of his before they got married.
Most of the pictures were uneventful, as she didn't take action shots. Mostly pictures of him with his opponents and trophies.
Finally, he came across a set of him posing with some of his Pokémon. He flipped through them quickly. A lot of the classic types, that Charizard Oliver got...
"Mom, what's that?"
She looked at the picture. Her husband was depicted sitting on the back of a horse-like Pokémon. It wasn't shaped quite right for a horse, though...
"I remember that one. I can't remember the name, though. It was one of his best battlers."
"It doesn't look like the fighting type."
"He said he kept it around because it could learn a large variety of attacks. He used it as a wildcard whenever he fought an opponent that none of his others could handle."
"Versatile, huh? That's a good sign."
She smiled. "If that's the one you received, you are fortunate. He cared a lot for that one."
Connor frowned. "It hasn't exactly been returning the favor. Maybe it thinks I can't compare to him."
"Is it giving you trouble?"
"It hasn't been coming out of the Pokéball. I need to find someone who knows something about it, and I was thinking someone might recognize the picture. May I make a copy of this?"
"Go right ahead, honey."
Dinner was concluded that evening, and it was the time for some farewells. Oliver and Matthew were going to go back to their badge-earning expeditions, and the ship would arrive at noon the next day to take Connor back to the academy. Their mother said that she would be okay by herself, although she still seemed sad at the prospect.
Connor lay back on his bed. Oliver and Matthew were making a ruckus in the other room. He had lent them his two Pokéballs for the night to see if they could figure out what he was doing wrong, and they sounded audibly upset that they couldn't get anything to work. Connor was starting to think about telling them to be quiet and let him sleep when his room suddenly became brighter than before.
As he sat up, he watched the head, torso, and front legs of the horse creature pass through the wall separating his room from that of his brothers. Moments later, the rest of its body followed.
"...what kind of Pokémon are you?"
The creature leveled its gaze at him.
"You look healthier. The Pokémon Center must have really helped you."
The creature trotted closer to him, standing close enough for Connor to touch its side. He did so. It felt much like he expected a horse to feel.
"So why are you in here? I don't have your Pokéball."
The creature moved toward the wall and started its stomping again.
"Are you afraid of me or not?"
The creature stopped its activity and turned its head to the side to face him.
"I know my father used to have you as a Pokémon. You seemed to get along with him. Why can't you act like that to me?"
A voice from the other room. "Hey, Connor, who are you talking to?"
Connor grabbed the picture copy he had made from the bedside table, right where he left it when he showed it to his brothers earlier. "See? That's you..."
The creature's head lifted up suddenly in surprise. Before Connor could react, the framework on its back glowed red slightly, and the picture burst into flames in Connor's hand.
He dropped it to the floor. In seconds, it was reduced to ashes. The fire did not seem to affect any other objects in the room.
Connor looked up with an annoyed expression. "Why did you..."
The creature started pounding on the wall harder.
"Stop it! Why won't you listen to me?"
It didn't respond to his request.
"And why are you beating against the wall in the first place? I thought I just saw you walk through one..."
The creature stopped pounding. After a short pause, it turned toward Connor again with an odd look. Connor couldn't help but gaze into his eyes...
Connor went for a ride on the creature's back the next day.
"I'm glad you warmed up to me", Connor said.
The creature nodded slightly, then shook its frame slightly. Connor understood, gripping the frame tightly with his hands. The creature began to gallop and eventually leapt into the sky. Remarkably, it never came down again. As Connor watched in amazement, the creature continued to gain altitude as it floated gracefully through the air.
The landscape was beautiful. From his vantage point, he could see the various towns in the countryside all at once. The view made him feel really powerful for some reason. The creature then carried him over some mountains, and then across the wide expanse of the sea.
"Is this one of your abilities?" Connor asked with a smile.
Suddenly, the creature came to a stop. Connor looked around, only to see that they were levitating over the middle of the ocean. There was no land in sight, and the creature wasn't going anywhere.
"Where are we?"
The creature didn't move.
"I want to go home now."
The creature turned its head to face him. It was glaring again.
"Please let me off."
Still no response.
Connor decided to risk it and release the frame so that he could plunge into the water and swim for it. He found himself unable to do so. His hands were trapped in the frame.
"What's going on?"
The creature's glare became angrier.
"Please, I beg you. Let me go."
As he said this, the creature tilted downward and dove for the water at a rapid
Connor woke up again, panting.
These nightmares were getting annoying, he thought.
He checked the clock. It was close to nine. He was going to need to get ready for the trip quickly.
Oliver and Matthew had apparently already left. The two Pokéballs were back on his bedside table. It didn't look like they had made any progress with them.
On the other hand, the picture wasn't there. Connor remembered. The Pokémon had set it on fire... or had it? He was having trouble telling what was part of his dreams and what wasn't.
"Mom", he said as he went downstairs. "Could I get another copy of that picture? I lost the first one."
"What picture?" she asked.
"The one from yesterday. The one with Dad and the horse."
"I don't remember anything like that. Your father never owned a horse."
"You have to be joking! You described it to me yesterday! In detail!"
"I don't think I did. Maybe you're thinking of Oliver?"
"I'm pretty sure it was you. We found the picture in the scrapbooks."
"Oh. Do you want to look again?"
Connor went back to the scrapbook again. He remembered where the Pokémon picture section was, so he headed there immediately to find that... there was an empty space where that picture was before.
"The picture's gone!"
"Are you sure? I don't remember any horse pictures in there..."
"Remember? The one of the Pokémon Dad left me?"
"I thought your Pokéball turned out to be empty..."
"...I must be confused. I need to stop somewhere before I leave."
Connor headed back to the Pokémon Center.
"May I help you?" the nurse asked.
"Yeah, I was wondering if your machine there keeps records of any Pokémon that it has treated recently."
"Certainly, sir. Why?"
"I brought a Pokéball in here yesterday and I was wondering if you had the data for it."
"Oh, yes. You stopped in yesterday... but you didn't give me anything."
"You asked if this was a place for healing Pokémon, and then you left. It was kinda odd, really."
...he had only stopped in this building to drop off the Pokémon. She remembered him... but not...
"I gave you that horse creature! Why... am I still dreaming?"
"I keep good records, sir. I would know if I treated any horses yesterday."
"This must be some kind of nightmare!"
And Connor ran from the Center.
He was able to pack all his things, say goodbye to his loving but clearly confused mother, and make it to the docks well in time for the noon departure.
"Please tell me you haven't forgotten that I have a ticket", Connor said to the man at the dock.
"Never mind. Here's my ticket."
"Thank you, sir. Those two will take care of your luggage. Have a safe trip."
Connor was used to this voyage by now. It would be many hours until the ship arrived at the docks near the academy.
He had already eaten, so he was busy looking over the railing at the passing waves when the ship suddenly started rocking dangerously.
"What's going on?" he asked one of the nearby passengers.
"We've hit something!"
"What? Reefs? Rocks?"
Connor groaned. He had heard of Gyarados attacks on ships before, but he never thought that he would be a victim of...
A large splash interrupted him, and he looked up to see the utterly massive form of the horse creature leaping from the water. It was impossible to get a sense of scale, but it must have been considerably larger than its size during his first dream. At its current expanded size, its landing would...
The horse struck the ship directly, causing it to break into pieces and spill its contents into the open ocean. Connor cursed loudly as he struggled to stay afloat. Eventually he grabbed onto a piece of driftwood that happened to be floating nearby.
He hadn't expected this at all. The creature had just made an attempt on his life, and he couldn't help but find this truly frightening. Even if it wouldn't come back for him, there were many other Pokémon in the ocean that would attempt to strike at him while he was vuln...
Wait. Why was he worrying? He knew full well what was going on.
All around him, he could see the other passengers, screaming as they submerged beneath the waves. If not for his realization, he might have actually felt guilty about them. Finally he was the only remaining floating object in the ocean in sight. He was just starting to wonder when the horse would make its next appearance when he noticed that his legs were resting on something.
The giant creature surfaced again, properly positioned such that Connor was standing on the top of its head.
"What do you want with me?" he yelled. "I know this is a dream! Why won't you just let me sleep in peace?"
The creature shook its head quickly, causing Connor to stumble right onto its face. Two glowing red eyes, each larger than his body, glared at him from mere feet away. It was unnerving.
"Stop this nonsense! I don't want to deal with you now! Just let me go back to sl..."
"Let me go..."
"Let me go..."
Connor heard the echoes, and realized that he had said the exact same line during the previous two dreams.
"Let me go..."
"Let me go..."
"Let me go..."
Connor awoke again to the sound of the horn, indicating that the ship was pulling into the harbor near the academy. He looked out the window to find that stars were already visible in the sky.
As some of the ship's employees brought his box to him from the cargo hold, he looked inside. Everything was in good condition, including the Pokéballs resting on top. He picked up the horse's Pokéball and tested its weight in his hand.
...let it go?
How could he? It was one of his father's prized possessions. He had been entrusted with it. No matter how much he didn't want to have to train a Pokémon, this was his responsibility, and he wasn't going to abandon it.
He entered the dorm approximately thirty minutes after he arrived in town. He nodded in recognition to the other students in the common area, some of which had Pokémon of their own, and then carried his things to his room.
Everything was as he left it. It wasn't the most comfortable of rooms, but he had gotten used to staying there while taking classes at the academy.
His roommate didn't appear to be in. However, there was a note on his chair.
Connor - I hope you're feeling better about your father. I wish I could be there for you, but my own sister is feeling ill. I'm heading back home to visit her. If everything goes well, I'll be back in a week or two. I've already contacted the professors, so don't worry about doing that for me. - Peter
The note wasn't dated. It could have been written that morning, or several days beforehand. Either way, Connor thought, he was going to be alone for a few days. Maybe that would be enough time to figure out what to do with his new Pokémon.
...let it go? He couldn't shake the thought.
He shuddered at the idea. His mother and the nurse had completely forgotten about his Pokémon. If he released it now, he would no longer have any reason to believe that he himself had owned it.
The whole thing was like a bad dream, and one that he could not seem to escape.
"Let me go!"
"Let me go!"
"Let me go!"
Connor's dreams were not as scary or threatening as before. He was thankful for that. He figured he would be dreaming about the horse trashing the campus at this rate.
Still, that line, spoken in his own voice, kept ringing in his ears. Was that really what he was going to need to do to end this?
He looked at his clock. 12:25 am. Too early to be waking up. Too late to worry about Pokémon troubles. He would have to take care of the issue tomorrow.
He tried to settle back in his bed again. He was having trouble doing so. The pillow and mattress just didn't feel right.
Eventually he adjusted and fell asleep again.
"Let me go!"
Connor realized that he was shouting at the top of his lungs as soon as he did so. He hoped he hadn't woken his dormmates. At least, those that weren't already awake. What time was it?
He looked at the clock again. 12:25 am.
"...damn thing's busted."
He slapped the clock, and then shook his hand in pain. The clock hadn't budged.
It was about that time that he noticed that his door was still open. Odd, he thought. He should have closed it earlier.
He grasped the doorknob and tried to close it, but it wouldn't move at all.
"...what's going on here?"
He turned around to look at his bed. The pillow still had the imprint of his head on it, and the mattress was still flattened in a manner that matched his body weight. He ran his hand across them. Neither budged.
"Is this another nightmare?"
"Let me go!"
"I guess so."
He tried to wake up. He failed.
With no other options, he tried to pick up the Pokéballs that he had left on his desk. One of them was stuck tight. The other one moved easily. As expected, it was the one that carried the horse creature.
"...is this your doing?"
"Let me go!"
"...fine. I'll see what I can do."
He headed down to the common area to see if he could get someone else to look at it. As soon as he got to the main room, he stared in shock.
There were people in the room, yes, but none of them were moving. He tried pushing one of them. Nothing happened. The student continued to resemble a statue.
"...it's almost like... time stopped."
"Let me go!"
"Why are you doing this to me?"
"Let me go!"
Connor turned around to head back to his room, only to find that he couldn't. The hallway leaving the common area was missing. All that stood three feet in front of him was open space. A black void, stretching infinitely in every direction. He took a careful look over the side. Nothing in sight. He decided against getting too close.
"What the hell?"
He turned around. Things were getting decidedly weirder. The same black void could be seen through all the windows of the common area, and it had also enveloped the other hallway leading from the area. It looked as though the common area was sitting in the middle of nowhere, with only Connor and a few frozen people as its inhabitants.
"Let me go!"
And his Pokémon.
"I can't let you go! I don't know how!"
"Let me go!"
Connor had enough. He threw the Pokéball, and it opened with yet another bright glow to reveal the horse-like creature that he had grown quite tired of seeing.
"Okay, now what?"
"Let me go!"
"I just did!"
"Let me go!"
"Repeating yourself isn't..."
Connor stopped. For some reason, he no longer found these events frustrating or frightening. As he looked around, it was clear that the situation was simpler than it looked. The Pokémon wished to be freed, so it made sense that he should simply free it.
But he did not know how. This was counterproductive. He was not properly trained to solve the problem. This made him feel...
...no, it did not. It was the way events turned out. All he had to do was improvise a solution. Then the problem would be solved, and he would be...
...what would he be? He had no idea. Something was missing. He knew it, and yet he felt no need to react to it. Which meant...
Connor looked up at the Pokémon dispassionately. "I no longer have any emotions. I do not know why this is the case. You may have something to do with it."
"Let me go!"
"I do not know the method."
"Let me go!"
"I am doing something wrong. I need to... do..."
Connor was having trouble thinking.
"...uh... ball... throw..."
He could not concentrate on his actions. It was entirely possible that something was affecting his mind, making it impossible for him to think.
He eventually lost control of his senses. In this state, he was reduced to staring blankly at the Pokémon in front of him, lacking the capacity to even comprehend its appearance.
"Let me go!"
He couldn't even understand that line's meaning anymore. Without the intelligence necessary to identify the situation, let alone resolve it, he could do little but stand and wait.
It was at that moment that he truly acted outside of his will.
Without any intent on his part, he picked up the Pokéball. "Return!" he shouted, calling the horse back into its spherical prison. That done, he pressed the button on the front, pointed the device away from himself for a moment, and watched as the creature was released from the Pokéball.
The creature looked at him again. He dropped to his knees in front of it. And, as it stared at him, he felt his mental faculties returning to him.
He stood up again. He didn't even know why he had knelt in the first place. As he straightened up, he once again saw the creature that continued to stand in front of him. He had released it, hadn't he? He had no idea how he had done so, but it appeared as though the problem was solved. He would have to remember how he had done that.
This was interrupted by the feeling of emotion returning to him. It was not hard to identify which one was most prominent.
He scowled at the Pokémon. "You..."
It was glaring back at him, like always. This was not comforting to him. At least its eyes were green again, like they were supposed to be.
It was not the only one who had reason to be angry. Connor clenched his fist and gripped the empty Pokéball tightly with the other hand.
"...you're a psychic type... and you controlled me... your master..."
The creature's glare began to soften.
"...you tortured me... tampered with my mind... how dare you..."
Connor started considering the events again. This creature had wanted to leave him ever since he had first received it, and it had to go to these lengths to get out of his hands. He never truly was its master, was he? In that case... this was the right thing to do.
He threw up his arms in frustration. "Fine! Go ahead and leave! See if I care! I didn't want to raise a Pokémon, anyway! They insisted, not me!"
Upon hearing these words, the creature finally turned and started to walk away.
"...and I gave it a chance. To honor my father's wishes. Maybe, just maybe, I could have enjoyed it. Look at the big fat lot of good that did me!"
The creature hung its head slightly as it started to pass through the wall in front of it. On either side of the wall, the black voids were starting to fade away from the hallways and windows, replaced by the outside world he normally expected to exist there.
Connor's eyes teared up. "...I... I never want to see you again! Get lost! You can die for all I care! You and the rest of the Pokémon! Just leave me alone!"
And he threw the now-empty Pokéball at the wall behind the creature. It bounced off the wall harmlessly. This done, he spun around and headed back into his dorm, just in time to notice that the other students were starting to move around again.
He didn't regard them. He headed directly back to his room. He needed the rest.
After having no further nightmares, Connor woke up just before 6 am the next morning. Despite the previous night's traumas, he felt fully rested. A shame, he thought. Classes wouldn't start again for another two days, and he wished he could have gotten such a good start when it mattered.
Had he been dreaming? Had he actually released that ungrateful Pokémon?
He had to be sure. He headed to the common area. On the way, one of his next-door dormmates and his rat-like Pokémon stopped him.
"Hey, Connor! Were you okay last night?"
"Hey, Brian. Uh, no, I wasn't. Why? What did I do?"
"Well, you were making a lot of noise sleeping, so I decided to take a break and come down here. So I was doing some reading and I heard something smack across the wall. I looked up, and you were leaving."
"Yeah, I guess I did do that. Where's that Pokéball now?"
"Oh, the custodians disposed of it. You know, once a Pokéball holds something and then releases it, it's no longer useful. So they recycle it."
The rat started rubbing against Connor's leg. Connor moved his leg away.
"Anything else odd happen?"
"Not much. You did sound like you were in a bad mood, though."
"Were there any unusual Pokémon?"
The rat started rubbing again. Connor lightly kicked it away.
"I don't know. A horse?"
Brian paused. "A Ponyta? Didn't see one."
"No, not a Ponyta. Something larger and more powerful looking."
"It's a psychic Pokémon. I know that much."
"I don't know any horse-like Psychics. There's Espeon, but he's more like a cat."
The rat was now trying to climb up Connor's leg. Without a word, Connor knelt down, picked it up, and handed it to Brian.
"Hold onto him, please."
Brian nodded, holding his Pokémon firmly. "Sorry about Raticate. He must be in a good mood today or something. I think he likes you."
Connor sighed. "I wish he wasn't the first."
"Oh? Is something wrong?"
"Remember how I told you that my father passed away last week? Well, part of my inheritance was one of those things."
"No. That horse thing. It hated me. Every moment I spent with it, it was trying to escape me. That thing gave me nightmares."
"That's too bad."
"I guess I made the right choice when I chose to study the sciences. I'm not cut out to be a trainer."
"Receiving my first Pokémon was a wonderful experience for me", Brian said. "I wish it had been the same for you."
As he said that, the Raticate jumped out of his arms and into Connor's arms, attempting to nuzzle against his chest.
"AUGH!" Connor dropped the Raticate and started backing away rapidly. "Stay away from me, you stupid rat!"
"What's wrong with you? You should keep that thing in a Pokéball or something!" And with that, Connor headed directly back to his room.
Brian picked up the Raticate. It didn't seem to be hurt. "What's gotten into you?"
He thought for a second, staring at the now-empty hallway. "Both of you..."
Connor reentered his room to find a Pokéball waiting for him.
"Not again! Won't you..."
He suddenly remembered. He did receive a second Pokéball, didn't he? Oliver had given him one of his own. A lower level one, he said. Something with which he could build trust. After his experiences with the more powerful Pokémon, he had almost completely forgotten about it.
But nothing had ever came out. It was empty. Connor, realizing this, casually picked it up and tossed it into the empty wastebasket by the door. It was just as well, he thought. He had done...
His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of an emerging Pokémon. The basket started jostling around slightly, then fell over. A moment later, a small bird-like Pokémon escaped from the opening.
"Huh? It wasn't..."
The bird immediately flew up in front of Connor's face, chirping happily.
"Where were you before? Back when I needed you?"
He considered that for a moment. That other Pokémon may have been responsible for its lack of appearance. The two had acted similarly in that regard.
With that in mind, he decided to excuse this Pokémon's earlier behavior and address the bird directly. "So you're the one Oliver gave to me. I guess that would make me your trainer now, huh?"
As if to agree, the bird landed on his arm and perched there. Connor had to agree with his brother's assessment. This did seem like the kind of Pokémon that a new trainer would receive. Its enthusiasm and friendliness was contagious, and Connor smiled for the first time in what had felt like forever.
It didn't last. Connor sighed and looked down at his feet.
"...no. I can't be. I know nothing about Pokémon. I don't know anything about you. Pokémon don't listen to me. I... simply can't be your trainer."
The bird chirped.
He looked up again. "You seem nice enough. Cute, too." Connor smiled sadly. "You deserve someone better. Someone who can take care of you, make you stronger..."
As he bent down to pick up the wastebasket, the bird let go of his arm and started flapping again. He picked up the open Pokéball and set the basket upright again. Then he stood up and held the Pokéball toward the bird.
The bird returned to the device. Connor made sure it was closed, sighed, and then left his room.
Once he had walked out of the building, Connor pulled out the Pokéball again. He tried to remember the events of the previous night. He had done... something... to release the creature, against his will and beyond his understanding. All he had to do was repeat the steps.
He held the ball out in front of himself, then pressed the button on the Pokéball. As he did, it opened again, and the bird flew out. It seemed so intuitive now.
Connor smiled. "You are now free."
The bird continued to hover near him.
"I can't be your trainer. Please, find another one. Or live in the wild. Or something. Just... leave me."
The bird tried to land on him again. He dodged.
"I let you go!" he shouted in frustration. "You no longer belong to me!" He glanced down at the open Pokéball. "I couldn't put you back in this thing if I wanted to!"
As he looked up at the bird again, he noticed something else in the sky. Other birds, both similar to and different from the one he released, were starting to show up in the sky. They were followed by large insects; ones that possessed poisonous stingers, if he remembered correctly. And they were quickly approaching him...
"What the hell?"
He turned around to see several more such groups in other directions. All of them were converging on his position.
Connor panicked. "Look out, everyone! It's a swarm!"
And he dashed past the newly-freed bird and down the street, being pursued by various flying Pokémon.
A passerby blinked. "What was that all about?"
"I don't know", another answered. "Maybe he stirred up a nest."
After running a fair distance, Connor eventually took refuge in a nearby fast-food restaurant. He caught his breath for a second, and then looked outside. Had he overreacted? Maybe the birds and insects were just migrating?
He looked around the establishment. He had eaten here before many times, often with some of his friends and classmates. He was fond of their burgers, as he recalled.
There were about six other people already seated, enjoying their meals and talking to each other. Some, as usual, kept Pokémon.
"Good morning, sir. May I take your order, please?"
Connor walked up to the counter, trying to look nonchalant, and smiled at the woman standing at the cash register. "I think I'll have a burger, please. Just a regular one."
"Certainly, sir. Would you like anything else with that?"
"I am kinda thirsty. I'd like..."
He felt something on his leg. He looked down to see what resembled a small dog Pokémon rubbing against him. This was soon followed by a number of other Pokémon gathering around his position. Their owners seemed surprised by this.
They kept rubbing. One started trying to climb up his leg.
He turned away from the counter to brush them off, only to be stunned by the sight in front of him.
The front window of the restaurant normally had a nice view of the campus. He could no longer see it. Almost the entire surface of the window was blocked by various Pokémon, all looking into the window. All looking directly at him.
Damn ominous, he thought. Were they going to try to attack him, too?
The other patrons had noticed the same thing. Most backed away slowly from the window. A few of them opted to jump over the counter and hide.
"Never seen anything like this before", the waitress mumbled.
Connor pressed himself back against the counter. "I think... they're after me. If I'm right, I'll lead them away. Stay where you are."
As the other people nodded, he quickly brushed the various Pokémon off him and made a fast break for the door. Shoving it open and sprinting through it, he kept running, trying to get past the Pokémon before they could get their claws and other various appendages on him.
As he ran, he thought. What was going on here? Was this Night Of The Living Pokémon? It had something to do with that horse creature. He just knew it.
But why would they continue to pursue him? He let it go. He didn't plan on capturing any of the others. What did they want with him?
Connor decided that there was only one place in town that could explain what was going on. He made a right at the next corner.
Connor burst into the campus's designated Pokémon Center, closed the doors firmly and pressed his back up against them.
"There's a bunch of Pokémon after me. How do I get them away?
The nurse at the counter blinked. "After you? Why?"
"I have no idea. They stormed the burger place looking for me."
"Well, they shouldn't attack this building. I hope. Is there anything I can help you with?"
He walked up to the nurse's counter, eyeing the windows warily. "Just... has anything like this happened before? Ever?"
"Not that I know of. I suppose a psychic Pokémon could control a number of them and make them act like an army."
...that horse was psychic, wasn't it? That had to be it.
The group of Pokémon had reached the front of the Center. Some started pounding at the door. Others tried to get in through the windows. Connor hoped that they wouldn't get to the point where they would start destroying the Center with their special abilities.
Connor spoke in a hushed voice. "We have to stay in here until they give up. Close the shop."
The nurse frowned. "But what about the sick Pokémon?"
"Keep them confined. They might already be converted to their side."
A large pink Pokémon popped up behind Connor and gave him a hug.
Connor turned angrily toward the nurse, simultaneously trying to get the creature to release its grip with his hands. "What's it doing?"
The nurse smiled. "Oh, that's just Chansey. She's always friendly. You don't need to worry about her. She can't do anything to hurt you."
Click. The door opened. Connor's face went pale, and he and the nurse slowly turned toward the door to find an elderly man standing there, holding the doorknob in one hand and a yellow Pokémon in his opposite arm. As the door was now open, a number of the large mob had started to enter the premises.
The man spoke evenly. "No. It won't hurt you. None of us will."
"...that's an Abra", the nurse whispered in terror. "A psychic Pokémon..."
"Do not fear us. We like you."
Connor quickly figured out what was going on. The Pokémon was controlling the human that was holding it, allowing the army to open the door and speak with him. These creatures were truly pulling out all the stops to track him down.
"What do you want?"
"We want you to come with us. Be with us."
"NO!" Connor yelled as he grabbed the nurse's hand and ran toward the back of the facility. "You'll never take me alive!"
The back room looked like it was used for the care of Pokémon that couldn't be fixed by the machine. As such, it contained a large number of empty beds. They would work as a barricade against the door. How long, Connor couldn't say.
The nurse looked at him. "Are you sure you shouldn't go with them? They didn't seem too unfriendly."
"Look at them! They're huddling en masse! They're trying to capture me by any means necessary! Friendly creatures don't do that!"
"But... they said they wouldn't hurt you."
"Listen, lady", Connor said as he started pushing a bed slowly toward the door. "These Pokémon are a threat. They've been terrorizing my dreams. They've somehow affected the memories of some of the people I love. One of them broke the very laws of time and space to torment me. And then it scrambled my brain simply to command me to..."
He looked up. The nurse wasn't listening. She had passed out on the ground. He immediately stopped pushing the bed and ran over to her.
"No! Are you okay? Did they get to you?"
She is unharmed. But I did not want her listening to what I am about to say.
Connor whirled around to find the source of the voice. The obvious addition to the room was a human-sized Pokémon that resembled an anthropomorphic hairless cat, which was now hovering close to him. A neat trick, he had to admit.
"H-how did you..."
A deep voice echoed in his mind. I will not hurt you, Connor.
"You're a psychic type... Espeon?"
The Pokémon shook its head slightly. Hardly. Now listen...
"Stay away from me! You psychic types have been nothing but trouble for me lately!"
I know they have. Now listen to me.
"Why should I?
Because I am a 'psychic type', and I have taken the time to appear in front of you and speak with you without any pretense.
He had a point, Connor decided. "So why are you here? I've never seen you before."
I am here because I have determined that, in the midst of everything that is happening to you, I am the only one who is willing to explain anything.
"What do you mean?"
Arceus has gone too far. His actions have complicated your life and affected you mentally, and he has not bothered to tell you why.
"Arceus?" Connor had never heard that word before.
You know him as the 'horse creature' that you released recently.
"Oh. Him. I already know why he hates me."
You would not know this, given your lack of information, but he is the strongest Pokémon in existence. As you are not a skilled trainer, he felt no need to obey your commands. Instead, he sought his freedom, and he has manipulated you into giving it to him.
"Yeah. I kinda noticed that. But he's free now. Why am I still being ambushed?"
It was not by his choosing. News of what happened spread quickly among the Pokémon. They currently consider you to be a hero. And they want to thank you.
"I released him under duress! That's no reason to thank me! And why do they care so much, anyway?"
Because Arceus was the Pokémon that brought them into being.
Connor's eyes widened. "What? He was the first Pokémon?"
The cat-like Pokémon shook his head. You underestimate him. He was the one who created the universe.
"Wha... huh... how?" Connor sputtered.
The texts are very clear. In the beginning, there was nothing but chaos. Then a lone Pokémon was born from the void, and he used his powers to shape reality.
Connor had absolutely no idea how to react to this new information. How could he? He had just been told, in no uncertain terms, that...
"...my father passed away... and I inherited... God?"
Essentially, although he did not create the universe alone. He first created Dialga and Palkia, the dragon Pokémon of time and space, and then the three sisters Mesprit, Uxie, and Azelf, the psychic Pokémon of emotion, intelligence and free will. Then, as they guided the fortunes of the world, he rested.
...time... space... emotion... intelligence... free will... the five things, in order, that Connor had lost that night before he set Arceus free...
"I guess those five aided in his escape."
It is possible. Perhaps he retains such abilities himself.
"So why this farce? If I had just been informed that I had the creator of the universe in my possession, I would have gladly released him!"
These so-called 'legendary Pokémon' are very cautious about revealing their true nature to the public. There are many humans in the world who would take advantage of them. To be honest, I have gone through the same trouble.
"But I'm not like that!"
He could not count on that. And even if he knew that you were different, there was no need for him to reveal his full grandeur to a mere human.
A series of nightmares, tormenting him as he slept...
The sight of his mother, no longer able to remember the Pokémon that his father had loved and trained...
Himself, trapped in a room beyond space and time, his mind no longer functioning...
A large mob of Pokémon, chasing him through a city...
And, behind it all, a single horse-like Pokémon, one who held all destiny upon a single hoof...
The Pokémon continued. I intend to convince him to call off the...
Listen to me, human. I...
"I said, shut up. Get out of my sight."
"You just said that the only reason why I have suffered through this is because I am too worthless to know the truth."
That may be true, but he still...
"So I'm right? Well, that's just great. I'm nothing more than your damn god's plaything."
He is not perfect...
"A universe... created by a Pokémon... intended for Pokémon. And I was in his way. And that gave him the right to torture me as much as necessary."
"And then I was hunted down by these Pokémon because they understood what I had done. But heaven forbid that I should be informed as well!"
"You said all I needed to hear. Now leave."
I am not leaving until you listen to me.
Connor grabbed the nearest object on the counter near where he was standing, which happened to be one of a set of knives normally used for surgery. "I am sick and tired of having my needs pushed aside for the needs of Pokémon." He pointed the knife at the Pokémon. "Let me live my life, or I will defend myself."
Why are you threatening me? Do you even know who I am?
"No. I don't. Because you never told me. Because you don't think that I deserve to know. Now get out of my way."
Connor's arm suddenly lifted up, against his will, to point the knife at himself.
I have no patience for this, human. I understand the stress that you are going through, and you should be thankful that I am willing...
"...to force me to kill myself if I try to stand up for myself?"
I should not be the target of your anger.
"Like Arceus cares what happens to me! In fact," he said, moving the knife closer to his neck, "I probably should kill myself right now! That way there's one less obstacle in his way!"
The knife flew out of Connor's hand and into the wall. Stop.
"Make me!" Connor grabbed another knife and prepared to point it at himself. It also flew out of his hand.
Do not be foolish.
Connor grinned dangerously. "You can't keep this up forever, you know. Either you'll fail to pay attention to me and I'll succeed, or you'll spend the rest of your life concentrating your attention on one worthless human."
You are being irrational.
"Isn't that what happens when psychics mess around with your brain?"
Very well. Have it your way. I no longer have any pity for you.
"I don't need it!" Connor grabbed another knife. "Just tell that stupid god of yours that I don't want him harassing me again! Or his friends! I am sick and tired of Pokémon and I never want to see one again! Got it?"
That said, Connor shoved the bed further away from the door and stormed back into the front room of the Pokémon Center. The Pokémon were still gathered there.
"Get out of my way, or I swear someone is going to get stabbed!"
The ones at the door started to back away. The ones inside cleared to the sides, making a path. As he walked out the door, he turned around once more to the gathering of Pokémon.
"I know why you're here. I know about Arceus. And I assure you that I don't deserve a lick of thanks for it. Now go away and never visit me again."
And he headed back toward his dorm.
Some of the students were still in the common area. As usual, a few of them were taking care of their Pokémon. Of course. What else could he expect?
As he passed by, the Pokémon started to cower and hide behind their masters. It's just as well, Connor thought. He didn't want to deal with any of them.
Connor entered his room, dropped the knife on the bedside table and collapsed onto his bed. It looked like the crisis was finally over. Good riddance.
He looked outside the window. None of the Pokémon had followed him. Finally, some peace and quiet. With intent to finally catch his breath and make an effort to relax, he opened the window.
He had been followed after all. A familiar bird flew into the room. Connor had no idea how long it had been waiting for him.
"You again? I already released you! You're not my Pokémon anymore!"
The bird chirped happily.
"Didn't you hear what I said earlier? I don't like you! I don't like any of your kind! You guys ruined everything! Now go away and leave me alone!"
The bird continued to be unwaveringly happy.
Connor picked up the knife again. "If you do not stop your singing and leave me alone right now, I will personally cut off both of your wings."
This got the bird's attention. It dropped to the floor, using its wings only to aid in a soft landing, then looked up at him with sad and fearful eyes.
The bird backed away from him.
And he lunged forward with the knife. The bird flapped backward in an effort to avoid the strike, only to tumble backward into a cabinet that had been resting against the wall behind it. It quickly got back to its feet and tried to hide itself among the objects that surrounded it.
Connor raised the knife again and walked toward his hiding place. "If you don't get out of there right now, I'll..."
He stopped suddenly. What was he doing? This was the bird he had received from his older brother when he was having trouble controlling his other Pokémon. Oliver trusted him with it, and said that he knew that Connor would do a good job raising it. And here Connor was, threatening to stab the bird to death with a knife simply because it refused to abandon him.
He slammed the cabinet door closed. He didn't want to look at the bird. Not while he was like this.
"...what the hell is wrong with me? I... I..."
Connor dropped the knife and backed away slowly from the cabinet door.
He wanted to live a normal life. He wanted to be happy. He wanted to be helpful. And what had he done since his father died? He had antagonized the creator of the universe, threatened to kill the entire Pokémon population, and learned that he was deemed unfit to live alongside them.
He didn't know what to think. He didn't know what to do. In four short days, his entire world had crashed down around him. And it was all...
...whose fault was it? He no longer knew. He no longer cared.
He collapsed onto his bed in tears.
"Connor? You in there?"
After a bit of knocking, the door unlocked and Peter walked into his room to find his roommate resting in bed.
"There you are! Why didn't you get the door?"
Connor didn't answer.
"Well, good news. My sister's feeling better and I don't think she's going to need to go to the hospital again any time soon. So how was the funeral?"
Connor still didn't respond.
"Connor! Is something wrong?"
He shook Connor's body. Connor sat up slowly, but remained silent. He merely looked at Peter with sad eyes.
"Are you okay? I guess I'd be like that too if my sister had died..."
Connor continued to not respond.
"I'll leave you alone for a bit. Let me know if I missed anything important, okay?" And Peter left the room.
Connor lay back in bed again. He hadn't left his room in a while. Why bother? His science studies no longer mattered in a world where humans like himself didn't matter. He had sufficiently proven that he had no business spending any amount of his life dealing with Pokémon. His dormmates all thought he was violently insane. There was nothing else he could do for the world, and he knew it.
Through the door, he could hear Peter talking to Brian out in the hall.
"...he inherited a Pokémon?"
"Yeah. He ended up releasing it, though. He said the thing wouldn't listen to him, and it was ruining his life."
"He never figured it out."
Oh, he had. And he wished he hadn't.
"Then a bunch of Pokémon swarmed him and he just snapped."
"So what's he been doing?"
A line Connor couldn't make out.
"What? Five days?"
"Four of them had classes. He'll be dropped for the semester at this rate."
"And you've never seen him leave?"
The door opened again, and Peter arrived at Connor's side again.
"What is wrong with you? What have you been doing?"
Connor glared daggers at his roommate.
"Have you even been..." Peter looked around the room, and then looked at Connor's sunken face. "You haven't even been eating, have you?"
Connor looked away, sadly.
"This is wrong! I understand how you felt about your father and your Pokémon, but I can't let you destroy yourself like this!"
Peter grabbed his arm and tried to pull him off the bed. "Come on. I'll get you something to eat. My treat."
Connor had little reason to refuse. He stood up and followed Peter out of the room. Peter kept talking.
"It's not so bad. Things will get better. I promise. But you've gotta be willing to welcome it, you know?"
As they left the building, Peter noticed a bunch of wild Pokémon in the area. They seemed to be doing their own thing when he first arrived, but now they were just staring at him and keeping their distance.
"Huh. The Pokémon are acting kinda weird. Have you noticed anything?"
Connor just looked at his roommate.
This restaurant was further out of the way than Connor usually traveled to eat. It was on the other side of the bridge that crossed the ravine that ran through the nearby town, after all, and it was more expensive than the usual fast-food Connor enjoyed. Still, Peter liked this place, and he wanted to make sure that Connor got his fill.
A waitress stopped by their table. "Can I get you something?"
Peter smiled. "Yeah, I'd like to get an eight-ounce sirloin with garlic, medium rare, no onions, please. Baked potato as the side. No dressing on the salad, please. Connor, you want the same thing?"
Connor mumbled something.
"What does he mean?"
Peter looked up at her. "I don't think he wants a steak. What are your specials?"
"Well, we've got a honey-glazed ham..."
Connor mumbled again. "...Swinub..."
She blinked and continued. "...filet of fish..."
Connor looked up suddenly. "Don't you have anything that doesn't involve the slaughter of some kind of Pokémon?"
The waitress was taken aback. "Well, we've got several choices of salad..."
"Probably made from Oddishes!"
Peter stopped him. "Could you bring some apples? I think he'll enjoy those."
Connor sighed. "That'll be fine."
The waitress nodded, wrote something down, and headed away from the table.
"Connor, what's wrong with you? You weren't a vegan before..."
"It's not what's wrong with me", Connor protested. "It's what's wrong with the world."
Peter winced. "Keep your voice down! I didn't mean..."
Connor stood up suddenly. "Why? So you can all live oblivious to the truth? How many of you have heard of Arceus?"
The people in the restaurant looked at him. Many returned to what they were doing. Others eyed him warily. One, a man in a hat who might have been one of the professors, nodded and spoke. "They found those texts several years back, right? The mythological creature that some used to believe created the universe?"
Connor clapped once. "Yes! Someone's actually heard of him! What would you say he's like?"
"...I don't know. I never saw any statues. The texts said he shaped the world with his thousand arms..."
"He has four hooves and no arms."
Peter was taken aback. "What are you talking about?"
"And you're right! He did create the universe! A Pokémon created everything we know and love! And he did it for the sake of all the other Pokémon in existence!"
"You believe the myths?" the man in the hat asked.
"I'm living them! I met Arceus!" Connor threw up his arms. "And I think you all ought to know that he doesn't give a damn about any of us!"
The restaurant went silent.
"We all live in a Pokémon world! Humanity doesn't enter into it! We're either an afterthought or a mistake!"
He grabbed the menu he was looking at earlier and pointed to it.
"Every last item on this menu was once worth more to the world than any of us could ever be!"
He threw it back on the table and sat down heavily in his chair, seething in anger.
"And as far as I'm concerned, Pokémon training's just our way of spiting them in return."
A man wearing a nametag walked up to the table.
"Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
Connor stood up again. "Fine! I'm going! No one else cares if I exist! Why should you?" With those words, he turned and stormed out of the restaurant.
Peter looked at the man. "Can I get those apples to go? I seriously think he needs to eat something soon."
Connor ran down the street, sobbing.
It was five days ago that he realized that these Pokémon had rejected him, and he had rejected them in turn. And they still felt the same way, judging by the fearful looks in their eyes as he dashed past them.
And now, after that incident in the restaurant, he was starting to feel the same way about humanity. He used to believe that his people mattered. These experiences had taught him otherwise. And his efforts to help everyone else understand the truth about their world had only turned them against him.
Without Pokémon... without humanity... what was left in the world for him?
Carrying a bowl of apples, Peter exited the restaurant, trying to see where Connor went.
He wished he hadn't.
Connor had already made his way back to the bridge that crossed the town ravine. And before Peter could figure out what was going to happen next, he threw himself off its side.
He ran to the bridge. A minute later, he got there and looked over the edge.
No sign of Connor. He was gone.
Peter sank to his knees. "Dammit, Connor! Why? Why did you..."
Connor was unfortunate enough to survive.
The river that ran through the ravine was deep enough to prevent serious injury. Approximately a mile downstream from the bridge, a small island rested in the middle of the water. And it was on this island that Connor's body washed up several minutes later. Whether this was due to the river's tide or the various Pokémon that lived in the river, he would never know.
Here, just out of sight of the residents of the city and campus, no one would see what happened next.
In a glow of bright light, a horse-like Pokémon appeared on the island. It carefully pushed Connor's body out of the water and uphill onto land. With the press of a hoof upon his chest, the water that had gotten into his lungs was expelled, and Connor went into a coughing fit.
He opened his eyes to see the calm face of the Pokémon that he could have once called his own. It seemed so majestic to him now, now that it was not reacting in fear or hatred of him. Warm thoughts started running through his head... thoughts of love, peace, and understanding toward Pokémon...
...thoughts that were not his.
"Why the hell are you here?!", Connor screamed, standing up to face the creature that he now knew was called Arceus. "I told you to never bother me again!"
Arceus took a step backward in surprise. Connor took the opportunity to look around. Nobody in sight. He couldn't be sure if the creature had stopped time again or not.
"I thought I made it clear that I absolutely despise psychic Pokémon attempting to affect my way of thinking!"
"And why do you even care? It's not like you give a damn about humans!"
Arceus gave him a sad look.
"If you really cared about me, you wouldn't have let this happen to me! You wouldn't have tortured me! You would have informed me of the truth! I would have understood what you were and what you wanted before it ever got to this point!"
Rather than respond, Arceus turned toward the water to look at its reflection. The reflection remained as visibly pure as the original. Then it backed up, walked around Connor, and nudged Connor in that direction.
"If you want me to see what you made me, I already know! You don't need to show me! I've got nothing! I have no prospects, I am the enemy of Pokémon everywhere, and not eating has caused me to become thin and sickly..."
He paused for a long time. He had just realized something. The rest of his sentence was finished in what was almost a whisper.
"...just like my father, before he died."
Arceus looked sad again. Connor would have none of it.
"He was your master! I don't know how he managed to capture a god, but he did, and he's the one who left you in my care! I always wondered why he suddenly gave up raising Pokémon, and now that I see what's happened to me, I know!"
He took a deep breath.
"You did this to him, too! You drove him to misery! You killed him!"
Arceus's eyes went wide at this accusation. After a few seconds, it turned away and stared sadly at the ground, avoiding eye contact with the human.
And without another word, Connor jumped into the river again, this time with intent to reach the other side.
Several students were relaxing in the common area as Connor, sopping wet, marched through the dormitory. "Leave me alone!" he shouted as he stormed past them and entered his room again.
Once there, he started gathering a few supplies and putting them into a box. A few changes of clothes, the rest of his money, a few practical textbooks... not much need for a computer...
What are you doing?
Connor didn't stop. "I'm getting out of here. I need to find a place without any freaking Pokémon to torment me. Maybe the middle of the desert. Maybe then I can die in peace without someone else showing up to muck up the whole thing."
Do you know what you just did?
It was at that time that Connor realized that it wasn't one of his dormmates talking to him. He looked up to see the cat Pokémon from before, floating near the window with an angry look on its face.
He turned back to his packing. "Didn't you give up on me?"
The deep voice sounded within his head again. Maybe I still should.
"Why do you care?"
Because the Pokémon who created the universe deigned to appear before you in person, save your life, and offer you an apology. And you responded with hatred and insults.
Connor turned to stare at him. "What? You said you hated what he was doing!"
The Pokémon nodded. I did. I am happy that he tried the direct approach this time.
"That's not direct! Direct is what you're doing right now! You know, talking!"
Exactly how many Pokémon have you met in your life that spoke to you?
"...two. You and that Abra."
The fact that they cannot speak does not preclude them from communicating.
"He should be able to speak! He's a psychic type, like you!"
No, he is not.
He is not considered a psychic. Even I do not fully understand the depths of his divine abilities, but I have yet to witness any capacity for speech.
Connor shook his head. "Some god he is."
The Pokémon have no complaints.
"I'm not a Pokémon."
That is unfortunate. You could stand to listen to him for once.
"Why bother? So he can kill me, too?"
The Pokémon blinked. I have seen nothing that suggests that he wishes for you to die.
"Anger over his captivity?"
If he felt that way, he would have killed you after you released him.
"Large mobs of Pokémon?"
None of which attacked you.
"His hatred of humanity?"
The Pokémon stopped completely. After a few seconds, he continued. Where did you get that idea?
Connor took a deep breath.
"Isn't it obvious? He clearly designed this universe for Pokémon, and the more you look at it, the more evidence you can find that humanity was never intended! We completely fail to fit in. We share none of their genetic structure, their awe-inspiring abilities, their ability to understand each other without speech... he doesn't even give us the pleasure of knowing that he exists!
"But we refused to give up. We had to work to survive, and we only succeeded by building our society around the Pokémon and exploiting their abilities in order to stay alive. And this could only result in further resentment from them.
"If the Pokémon decided to work together to drive humanity to extinction, they would not only be successful, but justified. It is a terrifying prospect, and it's depressing to know that we couldn't avoid this by trying to find another solution. Because your god never bothered to help us find one!"
Having finished his long rant, Connor sat on his bed and started to tear up again. He didn't know what was worst: that he came up with all that himself, that he believed it, or that he wasn't hearing any kind of counterargument.
At least thirty seconds of silence passed before Connor looked up at the Pokémon that had intruded on him. "Are you going to say something to prove me wrong?"
...I do not know if I can.
"Then don't try!" And Connor stood up and went back to packing.
This was odd. The Pokémon had always remained composed before. His argument must have been rather compelling. Perhaps it agreed with what he said. In that case, he was right. He deserved to die after all.
As he started to close up the box, he felt something touching the top of his head. Turning his head slightly, he noticed, out of the corner of his eye, the foot of the Pokémon floating a short distance behind him. It had apparently moved directly behind him.
He started to wonder. Was it planning on carrying out the execution itself? It was a psychic Pokémon. It could destroy his brain instantly. It would be humane.
...it could do other things, too. It could forcibly change his opinion of Pokémon. It could erase his memory and make him forget everything that happened to him. It could leave him a drooling vegetable, suffering for the remainder of his life. It could even brainwash him into being its tool for the destruction of the remainder of humanity, if it so desired.
He started to sweat. It really wasn't a good idea to antagonize a psychic Pokémon. Or any Pokémon, for that matter...
...the feeling was gone. The Pokémon had let go. He didn't feel any different. Not even any better. Had it given up, like it said?
In that case, he decided, it looked like it was still up to him to carry out his own sentence. He headed over to the cabinet to look for any other objects he needed.
...at the very least, I believe that if he truly hated humanity, he would have tried to destroy them by now.
A weak counterargument, Connor had to admit. Still, it proved that it was still trying to refute his logic. He didn't know if he found this comforting or not. Instead, he returned to his task. If that thing thought it could...
...the objects in the cabinet had been knocked over. In the midst of them, there was a small bird Pokémon lying on the bottom. The one Oliver gave him to keep. The one he had threatened with a knife. Many of its feathers surrounded its unconscious body, suggesting it had been struggling to escape. It must have been locked in there for...
"H... how long has it been since you first spoke to me?"
The Pokémon hesitated slightly. Five days. It will soon be six.
Connor moved out of the way to reveal the bird. The cat's face seemed surprised.
Connor was frantic. "I had completely forgotten about it! Is it still alive?" He whirled around to face the Pokémon. "You're a psychic! Tell me!"
...barely. She needs fresh air and food. Why did you...
The human turned and grabbed the bird quickly. "Then I'm going to the Pokémon Center!"
"That stupid god of yours already cost my father his life, and I know I'm next! But there's no way in hell I'm going to let his pompous charades cause a third death! Especially not one of these Pokémon he loves so much! I may be doomed, but I refuse to bring anyone else down with me!"
This said, he dashed out of the room.
The same nurse was on duty when he arrived this time, completely out of breath, grasping the bird with one hand and his chest with the other.
"...please... miss... I have a Pidgey... save it..."
The nurse gave him a once-over. "Sir, are you okay? You look malnourished, and you're barely keeping your balance..."
"...don't worry about me... the bird's worse off than me... it needs help..."
"Does it have a Pokéball?"
The boy glared at her. "No! It doesn't need one! Just do your job!"
She took the Pidgey and went into the back room. As he waited, Connor sank into a chair. He had truly overexerted himself getting here. He was having difficulty breathing, and his vision was starting to fog up.
He didn't know how much time passed, but the next thing he noticed was the blurry figure of the nurse standing over him.
"...you got here in time. She should recover by the end of the day."
He gasped. "Thank... thank you so much..."
"Now what about you? We need to get you to a hospital!"
"...I can't afford one... I'm only a student..."
"But at this rate..."
Connor almost smiled. "Heh... that's the way this world is, you know..."
"Everybody worked so hard to figure out a way to give Pokémon free health care... they completely forgot to give a damn about the humans..."
And he blacked out.
Once again, Connor completely failed to die.
He found himself waking up to the scent of a burger. The fast food kind. The kind he used to like so much.
He opened his eyes slowly. To his great relief, his vision was no longer blurry. Judging by the surroundings, he was still in the Pokémon Center. He was lying on one of the beds in the same back room that he had used as a refuge when the Pokémon were after him many days before. It was much better lit now.
Approximately one foot above his head, a burger floated in midair. A quick glance around the room revealed the cat-like Pokémon hovering to one side, and he quickly decided that it was responsible for the burger's levitation as well.
He tried to get up, only to find that his body was strapped to the bed. He supposed that the bed contained these straps for medical reasons, but it was clear to him that they were used on him to confine him. His arms remained loose, but they and his head were the only parts of his body that could move freely.
You are awake, the psychic voice said in his mind. Take this and eat it.
"What are you doing here?"
I am attempting to save your life. Just like before.
"My life is already over. Why can't you realize that?"
As long as you draw breath, it is not. And it stands a very good chance of lasting longer with the addition of food.
"I don't want any."
I have had enough of your complaints. You are going to eat.
Cease your foolishness. If you do not eat, you will die.
"And if I eat, a Tauros is going to die. And we know which one your god would rather allow to live."
A Tauros was killed more than a week ago, after having been raised on a ranch for that very purpose, so that others could live. And refusing to eat this is not going to bring it back.
"It's still not right!"
You need to eat to live, human. Eating will always result in a death. This is the way that life has always worked. There is no exception.
Connor sighed. "Yeah, for us." He pointed at the Pokémon. "You don't seem to have that problem."
"I've seen Pokémon battle, but I've never seen one of them kill another one. Not even for food."
The Pokémon's eyes widened. Do you actually believe that? You think that we are completely self-sufficient?
"My brothers are trainers. And their Pokémon have never eaten any meat."
The burger floated away from his head and traveled over to the Pokémon's position. Without a word, he opened his mouth and took a bite from the midair comestible. He chewed for a while, then swallowed. Explain.
"A dramatic show to convince me to follow your example."
Are you genuinely this ignorant? Have you not considered at all that wild Pokémon survive by killing and eating other wild Pokémon?
"...and what about the tame ones?"
I cannot answer that. I think she will.
The nurse entered the room. She had an oddly blank look on her face.
Describe the diet of the average trained Pokémon.
"Berries and potions."
Explain the potions.
"Our potions are designed to fill the natural dietary needs of the average Pokémon. Each potion contains 100 percent of the recommended daily value of..."
What are the potions made from?
"A well-blended mixture of carefully rationed amounts of fruits, vegetables, meats and grains."
And where do the meats come from?
"Deceased Pokémon, or Pokémon bred for that very purpose."
The Pokémon turned to the boy again. It seems that even trained Pokémon need to eat other Pokémon to survive." The burger floated back to its old position within Connor's reach. "Now refrain from being a martyr and eat your meal before you faint from exhaustion again.
"But you took a bite out of..."
I do not carry any diseases.
Eat the food or I will control your body and force you to eat it.
Connor finally gave in and took a bite out of the burger. It had been a long time since he had eaten something. He truly had missed it. It was as tasty as he remembered. The rest of the burger followed shortly afterward.
Congratulations. Now that you have learned to eat food again, what other traumas do I need to help you get over before you can live your life again?
Connor got angry again. "Is that what I look like to you? A textbook case?"
You have been acting like one.
"Fine. Arceus still hates me."
I do not believe that this is true.
"Some help you are."
Arceus will have to explain it himself.
The aforementioned horse-like Pokémon moved from behind the bed to face Connor from the side. It continued to look as noble as before, and its eyes gazed at the human sympathetically.
Connor looked at it skeptically. "Doesn't it have more important things to do?"
'Create the universe, then rest' implies more resting than creating.
"Fine. Why does it care if I survive or not?"
You should know the answer to that. I already told it to you.
"...because the way it acted before messed me up badly... and you told it that... and it wants to apologize... and set everything right?"
"Is it here to save face?"
I do not believe that even two percent of the human population has heard of Arceus. It has surprisingly little reputation to maintain.
"What about the Pokémon population?"
The cat Pokémon pondered for a bit. When you freed Arceus before, how did the Pokémon react?
"They wanted to thank me... and did so in a completely maniacal manner."
They would have spent less time chasing you if you had spent less time running away.
"I was running because they had been treating me cruelly!"
The Pokémon teleported next to Connor's bed in the proper position to bend over the human's body and confront him face-to-face from less than a foot away.
I came here because of the misunderstanding between you two. If you want to come to any kind of resolution, you will have to accept that Arceus did not desire to hurt you and does not intend to do so again.
Connor turned his head to face Arceus. Any sign of hostility was gone. In fact, he realized, he had not seen any hostility from the creature since the night he released it. Looking at it now, it was hard for him to consider it his enemy.
...maybe that was because it wasn't...
He turned to face the psychic Pokémon again. It had already backed away.
"Are you here to speak on his behalf?"
You have not displayed any desire to listen to him yourself.
"Did Arceus send you?"
I told you that he did not.
"You said you were the only one willing to stand up for me."
It is because I did not feel any obligation to conform to his wishes. He was not responsible for my creation.
Connor didn't expect this. "How is that possible?"
The Pokémon smiled. I am glad that you asked that. I know what point you are going to bring up next, and this is a good way to counter it before you start. A dramatic pause. I was created by humans.
Yup, Connor thought. The psychic Pokémon had pegged him. Of course, being psychic, it wouldn't have been hard.
"Let's get to that part. Why should I believe that Arceus cares about humanity?"
The Pokémon floated further away from the bed and turned to the nurse again. Please explain this building.
"The Pokémon Center is designed to aid in the treatment and proper raising of Pokémon without any obligation on the part of the creatures themselves."
I see. Why are Pokémon treated at no cost?
"Pokémon don't carry money. This way, we can treat all the sick Pokémon we find, wild or tame, equally. We recuperate our losses through item sales."
And why do you work here?
"There was a time when centers like this one didn't exist. Back in the day, some Pokémon actually died from these battles. After witnessing a few cases, my ancestors decided to create a method of treating them. The rest of the family, including myself, has devoted themselves to this service ever since."
The cat smiled again. If I may, I would like to propose the idea that Arceus cares about humanity because humanity cares about Pokémon.
Connor rolled his eyes. "Fair enough. But why can't other Pokémon care about humanity? Without being captured and trained, I mean. It feels like the only time humanity benefits from Pokémon is when they force the issue."
Why were you mobbed by Pokémon again?
"They wanted to... oh."
I think that they were truly grateful to you for your service.
"What service? I was coerced into releasing Arceus."
Arceus moved closer to the bed. In his new position, his upper front leg was placed directly to the side of Connor's head. Connor had to admit that it looked strong, but just to be sure, he reached out and touched it. It was firm and muscular, and looked like it was in perfect condition, considerably better than the first time he saw it, back when...
"...it was bruised and injured."
The psychic Pokémon nodded, as did Arceus.
"Yeah, I took you to a center, didn't I? And you look much better now. I guess that's a reason to thank me. But if you really want to be grateful, I'd thank the nurse. She treated your injuries, not me."
He suddenly remembered something.
"...and you can't. Because you made her forget that she ever helped you."
Arceus looked surprised.
"And you made my mother forget that my father ever kept you as a prized Pokémon, and he's too dead to remember. Every other person I know who ever loved you and cared for you can no longer remember that you exist."
Arceus looked downward sadly.
Connor's face suddenly went pale as he realized where this was going. "And you're planning on doing the same thing to me, aren't you?"
The cat responded immediately. It is necessary.
Connor closed his eyes and sighed. He should have expected this.
"So that's why people think of you as myths. Because anyone who actually meets you doesn't get to remember it. Except the Pokémon. Of course."
It's better that they not know. That way, we can stop...
"This whole thing started because I had no idea what was going on! And now that I can actually understand everything, I'm expected to forget it! It's not fair!"
You will remember none of these events. There will be nothing out of the ordinary for you to not understand.
Connor tensed visibly. "If this is your solution, then why did you even bother helping me?"
The Pokémon paused for a second. He might have been taking a deep breath, if he needed oxygen at all to speak telepathically.
First, by witnessing the effects of his behavior, Arceus now understands that the way he handled the situation was wrong. Second, no amount of mental change would have changed the fact that you had not eaten in a long time. Third, if you ever happen to determine in another manner that these events have happened to you, I want you to conclude that this outcome was for your own good...
"But you don't need to do this! Not anymore! I've eaten. You've proven that he doesn't want me dead and doesn't hate humans. And I understand everything that's happened. I don't know if there's anything else that needs to be fixed!"
You still fear Pokémon. You believe that they and humanity are hostile to each other. And I have been unable to convince you otherwise. We are at an impasse.
"So I'll live with it. What's the problem?"
Why are you resisting this? It is better for you this way. You will not have to remember your trauma. You can return to life as you knew it beforehand.
"What about my friends? They'll still think I went insane! And what about the Pokémon? Will they have to forget the way they felt about me, and what I nearly did to them? And what about the poor Pidgey in the next room, who put its faith in me and nearly died twice as a result? Was that all for nothing? Who will tell my brother that I failed to take care of the loan he gave me, and that I am utterly unable to explain why?"
The Pokémon looked smug.
And fourth, by discussing the events that you have gone through, I now know what loose ends need to be tied up. I can prevent all of these situations.
"Wiping their memories, too. Of course."
Do not mistake this for a selfish motive. If I had given up and erased your memory back in your room, and he paused, giving Connor a look that suggested that he knew that Connor was suspecting such actions back then, then I would not have known that your Pidgey needed to be saved.
"...how is the Pidgey, nurse?" Connor asked.
The nurse turned to him. "She is alive and awake, but still weak. She cannot currently fly, but she should be back to full health tonight."
"...and I won't be able to see it happen. In the midst of my suffering, I have saved the lives of two Pokémon, and I will remember neither."
Connor's eyes began to tear up again.
Once I am done, you will have no reason to worry about them, the cat replied.
"What about the nurse? What will she remember?"
Have you noticed that she has listened to the entire conversation without reacting once to any of our revelations?
"...you already brainwashed her. Well, that's just great. How am I supposed to believe that you haven't just been spoon feeding her your answers for me?"
I did nothing of the sort. The only reason I did this to her was so that she would answer my questions honestly without saying things like...
"Whoa! I've never seen that kind of Pokémon before!"
All four of the room's occupants turned toward the door in surprise. A group of students was standing at the entrance to the room. Connor recognized most of them from the dorm. At the front of the crowd was Peter.
"Connor!" he shouted, entering the room. "I thought you'd killed yourself! Don't scare me like that!"
Connor blinked. "How did you find me?"
Brian edged his way past a few dormmates. "You ran out of your room with an unconscious Pidgey. It was the logical guess."
Peter continued. "After I told the police what happened, I headed back to the dorm. I got there, they told me you'd been back there, Brian told me what he saw, and we came here as fast as we could. Thank God you're okay!"
Connor smiled. "No, thank them", he said, raising his arms in the directions of the two Pokémon who were still staring at the group wordlessly. He tried his best not to smirk at the idea that his response was just as truthful literally.
"You see that?" Brian said as he grinned. "Pokémon aren't so bad after all, are they? You just need to trust them a little."
"But what kind of Pokémon are they?" asked another student. "They're not in my Pokédex..."
One voice from the back. "Wait. I've seen that cat one before. It looks like that manmade one from the tabloids. Mewtwo, I think."
Connor noted this. Mewtwo? He had never heard that name before in his life. But the cat had said that he was manmade...
"So Connor, what's that horse?"
Connor looked over at Arceus, and then back at the crowd. "I can't really say. I've never seen it in my life until recently."
Just as Peter was about to say something else, he decided to continue.
"All I know is that it came here to save my life and my sanity, and I think I'd be willing to do the same thing for it if I had the chance. It's a pretty nice Pokémon, and I'm glad to know that there are still Pokémon like it in the world who are looking out for us."
Arceus, who had been staring at Connor during his speech, punctuated it by lifting one hoof and resting it on his chest in a protective manner.
Peter spoke again. "So, Connor, I..."
"I'm sorry for what I did at the restaurant. And you're right. I'm definitely going to need to eat a lot before I feel better. Maybe we should go out to a place later, if you are feeling up to it..."
"Is eight o'clock okay?"
"Sure. I just hope I can remember it." Connor turned his head to glance knowingly at the one that he had just heard get called Mewtwo, and then looked back at the group. "But for now, I think I need some rest."
Peter nodded. "Okay."
The others followed suit.
"Take it easy."
And on that note, the group left the room again.
One last voice could be heard. "Whew... I like him a lot better this way."
Connor contemplated this for a second, and then sighed. "This really was my fault, wasn't it?"
Mewtwo was still looking at the door, considering the encounter. Explain.
"I hate to say this, especially in front of your god, but I think I've hated Pokémon my whole life."
"I don't know. Several reasons. The way so many people grow up to devote their lives to them instead of each other. The way they get all the cool technological advances developed for them. The fact that any one of them could seriously hurt me if it wanted, or do even worse stuff..."
Mewtwo was still facing the door. He probably wasn't paying attention to him.
"...like what you're thinking of doing right now. Please tell me you aren't going to wipe their memories, too!"
I already finished that task.
They think the nurses saved you. Just so you know, you still have an appointment for dinner at eight.
Connor's voice became irate again. "And you wonder why you couldn't convince me that Pokémon and humanity aren't hostile to each other? This is exactly why I came to that conclusion! You think you have the right to mess with their heads in order to 'protect yourself' from people who can't even lay a finger on you, and you treat the decision as casually as I treat the question of what shirt to wear! No wonder I feel like a victim!"
Mewtwo turned to face him sternly. I do not believe you are in any position to...
"See? You're treating me like an inferior again! So when I go through my life thinking of myself that way, and then you inform me that this Pokémon created the universe, how could I NOT feel like my existence was inconsequential?"
Mewtwo did not seem to have a reply to this. At least, Connor thought, not one that wouldn't further validate what he had just said. He looked at Arceus, but received only a headshake in response.
"But even so, that does not excuse me from taking out my anxieties on the other Pokémon", Connor finished in a calmer voice.
The cat turned to him again. You are willing to accept the blame?
"Most of it. If I hadn't been so jaded, I would have acknowledged his desire to be free instead of viewing him as a necessary burden. I would have noticed that the other Pokémon were supporting me, rather than threatening me. And I wouldn't have taken your comments about humanity as an insult, let alone condemnation."
He shifted his head to face Arceus again. "Your methods may have jeopardized my trust, but it wouldn't have happened if the trust was there to begin with. I am sorry for not supporting you, and... I forgive you for failing to win me back."
Arceus bent down so that his face was level with Connor's head. He didn't possess a mouth, but his eyes were comforting. Connor smiled and stroked the hoof that continued to rest on his chest, then turned to Mewtwo.
"This really would be a great lesson for me to remember. And I'm feeling a lot better now, so I don't know if I need brain surg..."
I noticed your less-than-subtle hints. You do not need to keep forcing them.
Connor looked at him firmly. "I'm serious. We've been stuck on the issue of hostility. I think I could be okay now, as long as I can believe that I can trust Pokémon. And you could have convinced me of this a long time ago, except for your doubts that you can trust humanity. If this is not resolved, this will only happen again, regardless of whether or not I remember this incident."
I have witnessed too many people abusing Pokémon.
"And I've heard about many attacks by wild Pokémon. How are they different?"
Your argument changes nothing.
Connor thought to himself for a moment. What kind of abusive trainers did this Pokémon know? Apparently he considered the very idea of knowing that he existed to be a threat. How would he possibly convince him otherwise? Could he?
There was one method that came to mind.
He turned to look at Arceus again. "Arceus... I want your honest opinion. You were there when I first received your Pokéball. Think about everything that happened. Imagine that you had not desired to escape. Imagine that I had not felt hurt by your actions. Take everything that either of us did as a result of those actions, and disregard it. It's in the past."
He took a breath, then finished. "Do you think that I am abusive to Pokémon?"
Arceus stared into space briefly. Connor started to worry. Pulling a knife on a Pidgey had done nothing to support his cause, had it?
In the end, though, Arceus shook his head. Connor smiled, and then turned back to face Mewtwo again.
"And I know that you haven't attacked me", he said with a hopeful look in his eyes. "So why can't we at least trust each other?"
I suspect that you wish for me to trust you enough to not erase your memory.
"And I'll return the trust by not taking advantage of my knowledge."
After not responding for several seconds, Mewtwo shook his head. This incident began as a result of your knowledge of Arceus, not myself. I will also defer to his decision.
Arceus appeared to be lost in thought. This would not be as easy for him to answer as the earlier question. After all, he still valued his secrecy, and he remembered what happened last time...
That night, after sharing a large meal with him, Peter checked in on Connor as he was unpacking his things again.
"Are you gonna be leaving the academy?"
Connor looked up. "Who told you that?"
"I saw the boxes. I figured the stress got to you, and you were trying to get away from it."
"Well, I'm feeling better now, so I'm staying. I think I'll need to catch up with my classes, though."
"I can imagine. What major?"
"The sciences, of course. I see no need to change that."
Peter scratched his head. "I dunno. I thought maybe you changed your mind..."
"There are lots of people who care for Pokémon. I still think we can spare a few like myself to continue to help ourselves thrive."
"I guess you're right. Speaking of which, where's the Pidgey?"
Connor gestured to the open window. "I let her fly around. I think she needs the exercise. She'll come back when she's good and ready."
"Are you sure? It doesn't have a Pokéball."
"She doesn't need one. I'm not a trainer."
"If you say so. I'm gonna be in the common area, okay?"
"Okay. Oh, thank you for your help earlier. I really appreciated it."
"At the restaurant?"
"Yeah. Actually, the hospital, too. You really came through for me."
"No problem. That's why they make us room together, you know. Making friends and all that, right?"
"Right. See ya later."
And Peter left the room, leaving Connor alone again.
I suppose that I should say farewell, then.
Connor turned around to find Mewtwo resting on his bed.
"I figured that since we solved the problem," Connor responded, "you didn't need to stick around. There was no need to let me know."
I wanted to make sure that you had not relapsed.
"No problem. I'm kinda glad you stopped by, actually. It helps to know that I still remember you, you know?"
There was one argument that I expected you to bring up earlier, and you never got around to it. While I did not know enough to come up with a response, Arceus did. I asked him about it afterward, and he thought that you deserved to know.
Connor turned the chair that rested in front of his computer to face Mewtwo, then sat in it. "What's that?"
Carl Watson was a tournament champion who won many competitions during his career. One such event promised a prize of an ancient flute that had a reputation of playing music considered to be beautiful to Pokémon. After his victory, he took this prize, made a trek to a tall mountain where the two brothers Dialga and Palkia were reportedly seen, and played a song on this flute that carried over the entire region. So honored was the god Arceus by this tribute that he allowed the champion to behold him, and then opted to test the strength of his Pokémon himself.
"...and my father captured him in a Pokéball?"
You say that as bitterly as I did when I found out. It is true. But it turned out that his Pokémon were so well-trained and well-treated that Arceus, upon his capture, actually agreed to serve him for a while without complaint.
"Do captured Pokémon usually object to their owners?"
Only when dealing with inexperienced masters. Your father was not one of them, so they trained together for a while, and eventually they went on to win another championship. The image of the successful pair became fairly commonplace. But after their victory, Arceus felt that his task was complete, and yearned to be released to return to the world that he had shaped. Your father, while he recognized Arceus's nature, did not realize his true feelings.
Arceus's response, as was his style, was forceful yet indirect. Whenever his owner approached his Pokéball, he exuded a feeling of sadness and disinterest in battle. Thus, he hoped, your father would identify with the way he felt and release him from his fate.
Connor raised an eyebrow. "Kinda like how my nightmares of being in his captivity were supposed to help me realize how much he wanted to be freed?"
I know nothing of your dreams, but the comparison sounds accurate.
"...but it couldn't have worked. If it did, he would have released Arceus and I wouldn't have inherited him."
It was worse than that. Your father was convinced that those feelings were his own. He retired from training Pokémon in order to find happiness again.
"So Arceus really did..."
Do not speak until I finish. Your father retained a fondness for Pokémon, and that is why he nurtured his offspring to grow up to be Pokémon trainers like him. And he remained strong until he fell ill before his death. Arceus did NOT kill your father. However, he still blames himself, and justifiably so, for the fact that your father abandoned his interest.
Connor thought about this for a while. "It's odd to think about world-creating gods being used in things like competitive sports."
It is one of the depressing truths about being a Pokémon. Some humans come to the conclusion that, if a breed of Pokémon exists, it is there to be captured and used in battle. And few of them realize that some breeds serve other purposes.
"Must collect all of them, huh? Has that ever happened to you?"
Mewtwo nodded. I should explain my actions. I was originally formed from the DNA of another Pokémon and designed for combat. Once I discovered that my owner was a liar and a thief, I abandoned him and eventually moved on to a life of pacifism.
"So what happened to your owner?"
I erased his memories. You would be accurate to draw the conclusion that I do the same thing to most humans who learn of my existence.
"...so I got lucky, huh?"
It is not luck. I have met a number of humans who treated me with respect and honored my wish to not make my existence well-known. Those, I decided, deserved the right to remember the time they spent in my presence.
"So my speech about trust..."
Arceus had different criteria. It was not his existence that he wanted to hide. It was his nature. And you proved yourself admirably there.
"What? With my dormmates?"
They may not remember your speech, but he did. When they left that room, they remembered him well. They would have told their friends of a noble and powerful Pokémon, watching over everyone and protecting them from danger. He would have their undying respect, and he would have no reason to worry if any of them were to meet him again. Because none of them knew that he was a god capable of creating or destroying the universe and its inhabitants.
"Well, Peter might have figured it out. I mentioned Arceus to him earlier."
He is fond of the idea of traveling the world and spending time in the presence of the fruits of his labor. I find this idea risky, but I believe that he may enjoy it. Still, I sincerely hope that he convinces the Pokémon to treat him with respect instead of veneration first.
"I can vouch for that."
Great power or not, we are all fallible.
The human shrugged. "And we're all capable of improving, too."
Connor Watson, I trust you. For now. Be sure to never go through this again. It is unnerving to see humans suffer as a result of the actions of Pokémon.
"I'll do my best to make sure I don't cause it to happen the other way, either."
Mewtwo nodded, and he vanished.
The bed now vacant, Connor stood up again to lie down upon it. He noted briefly that it was still warm, and smiled. It was a miserable week, certainly, but he had come out of it okay. He was no longer unstable, his actions had been forgiven, he gained a new appreciation for Pokémon, and he confirmed his suspicion that there was a reason why Pokémon were emphasized over humans in society. And he did it all without abandoning his own goals.
He realized that he never actually fulfilled his father's wishes. Still, he thought, it was better for Arceus this way.
The Pidgey returned at that time and landed on the bed next to him. Perhaps taking care of this Pokémon would suffice, if it was the bird's desire.
As she nestled up to him, he fell asleep and dreamed pleasant dreams. Of meeting Arceus again, climbing on his back, and enjoying a ride through the summer sky. Dreams he had experienced before, but this time devoid of malice.
He had no idea if this was Arceus's doing or not. It didn't really matter to him. He enjoyed it all the same.