A/N: Hopefully this will provide a quick ref guide for anyone wondering why there's a Seth and a Wes, or why Seth has those wings, or anything else about him, without having to go and read the entire PC series I've written. Still working on UoS, though I'm being urged to work on something original in hopes of getting a published book out before the end of the year. Ouchu.
For as long as Michael could remember, everyone talked about the Prince and Princess of the Desert, the heroic Snagger and his partner that saved Orre and the whole world from the evil Cipher Corporation. He grew up on stories of how Seth betrayed Team Snagem, stole the last working portable Snag Machine, and rescued Rui Roane, who had the power to see the auras of Shadow Pokémon. They were his favorite stories to listen to, and he begged his parents to tell them to him every night before bedtime when he was young.
Then he met them, the legendary heroes themselves, and found that they weren't quite as fantastic and amazing as the stories made them out to be, but they were still wonderful people anyway. Even better, he learned that the Prince of the Desert had awesome powers, like a Pokémon. He learned from him, trained under him when Michael had the time to step away from his journey to topple the new Cipher, and things were just awesome. He was even considered by the Prince to be his heir as a Snagger.
Things just couldn't get any more awesome, or so Michael thought.
Then he overheard something that had bothered him for a while, ever since the night in Pyrite that a Cipher agent tried to kill him when he refused to say where Seth was hiding. A name; the name of someone who even Seth held higher than himself, who seemed to mean a lot -a whole lot- to the elder Snagger. Michael couldn't figure it out. Who was this person whose opinion meant the whole world to the powerful Orre Prince?
Who was Wes?
He didn't try asking Seth right away; that felt like a bad idea right off the bat. He asked about it, hesitantly, from Rui, and the Princess had looked startled, then saddened, one hand rising to just over her heart.
"Wes is the reason Seth is alive." she murmured, "If Seth is the Prince, then Wes is the King."
She didn't say anything else, so Michael was left with few answers and more questions. Wes, a King? King of Orre? Then why hadn't he ever heard of the guy before?
The young Snagger went to ask around the Lab, and even asked his mother about the name. He wanted to know, who was he? How did Wes save Seth? Was that why he was so important to the other Snagger? But no one knew anything. No one had ever heard of the name, knew of someone of that name.
Michael sighed, sitting on a bench as he thought harder about the name. Wes, Wes; it was a boy's name, and he was someone Seth looked up to, so maybe... He brightened, an idea hitting him. Wes must be an older person! So of course these people wouldn't know, because Wes was older than them all.
He made his way from the Lab to Agate Village and asked around there. The seniors all pointed to the house on the highest hill in response. See Eagun, they told the boy, Eagun would know.
So Michael went to see the eldest man in the village and was surprised at the warm welcome he received from him and his wife. Once he was brought in and set on a couch with cookies and milk, he was able to see why. There were photos all around of Seth and Rui, odd shots of them here and there doing any random thing, as though captured with them unaware. Michael could see the differences between those shots and the Seth Evice he knew today; the younger Seth looked more guarded, darker and more bitter, even with his attempts to lighten up around Rui and her bubbly nature.
There was even a wedding day photo, and Michael had to hold back his laughter at seeing Seth in a tuxedo, bright red as he stood next to Rui in her wedding dress for the shot.
"My granddaughter and her husband." Eagun remarked suddenly, joining the boy in the living room and settling himself into his favorite easy chair. He gestured towards the photo. "The happiest day in Agate Village was when those two chose to marry here. It was as if things had come full circle for them."
"Mr. Evice definitely looks happier now than back then, from the looks of the pictures." Michael agreed, nibbling on a cookie. Eagun gave him a surprised look.
"You've met them?" he asked and the boy nodded, "You're a lucky young man, though I suppose it was inevitable, being a Snagger yourself." At Michael's startled expression, Eagun gestured towards the silver machine on the redhead's arm. "I recognize the device in any form; Seth helped in the design of that particular model." he answered the silent question, "Now, what brings the new Snagger of Orre to my humble home?"
"I want to know about the man Mr. Evice looked up to when he was younger, the one Mrs. Evice calls the King of Orre." Michael told the elder man, "His name is Wes."
At the mention of the name, Eagun seemed to sadden, leaning forward to rest his hands on a simple wooden cane he carried.
"That's a name I haven't heard in many years." he sighed heavily, "Wes is the name that Seth had hidden behind for many months, but it originally belonged to a young man who lived in Orre nearly forty years ago. What I know is only a fraction of the story, if it can even be called that much. Long ago, Orre was undergoing a terraforming process, much like the one Seth is heading, but in that age, it was controlled by the Cipher Corporation." Michael gasped in surprise, eyes wide with that new knowledge. "Back then, Cipher was a company dealing in land and real estate, and it was very wealthy and influential. Much of Orre's land was bought by them with the intent to transform desert into forest and sell parcels back to new settlers. The CEO had a son, Wesley, who was going to become mayor of the first new city to be built after the terraforming."
The old man paused, running fingers over his beard in consideration. "You could say, he was the original Prince of the Desert, a man who represented hope for Orre, and had a desire to create a haven for people and Pokémon alike." he murmured and sighed in sadness, "But before any of that could take place, Wes left Orre to go on a Pokémon journey and learn about the world, and died in the forests of Kanto."
Michael felt his heart sink into his stomach, eyes filling with tears. The King of the Desert... died? Wes was dead, and Cipher turned evil, and Orre suffered for it. He clutched at his glass of milk. Seth's hero was gone, but why did he have such a powerful impact? If Wes had died so long ago, then how did the current Prince learn of him and hold him in such high regard?
"How does that connect to Mr. Evice? To Seth?" Michael managed to ask shakily. Eagun sighed again, gazing at the boy.
"Therein lies the problem. I don't know the exact details, but I've heard Seth and Rui mention something called the Project Wesley Files. A boy named Nett would know more about them, so he would be the one to ask." the old man told him and Michael nodded, determined to learn more.
He went to Pyrite, searching for Nett, and found the young man at the Kids' Grid base, working on some mechanical thing for the news network. Like with Agate Village, Nett had only to see the Snag Machine on his arm before growing comfortable around him. Michael could still pick up a trace of wariness though; this guy seemed to be on guard a lot.
"So, what can I do for ya? You're the new Snagger; the Kids' Grid has had experience helping out another Snagger, so just name it and we're on it." he remarked. Michael took a deep breath; he wanted to know, wanted to know all he could about Wes, the former Prince crowned King after his death.
"I want to see the Project Wesley Files." he finally said, and Nett jerked back, staring at him in shock as his mouth dropped open, "I want to know about the man named Wes, and why Mr. Evice knows him when he died so long ago." The little redhead shook his fists almost desperately, brimming with restless energy. "How does Mr. Evice and Wes fit into all this?"
The young man only continued staring at him before finally sighing and seated himself in a nearby chair, weaving his fingers together and gazing upward with a solemn expression. He was silent for a while, and Michael was beginning to think that the guy was going to deny everything or tell him that he couldn't see the files.
"You're pronouncing it wrong. You must have heard about it from Eagun; he always says it like that, and it's all wrong." Nett finally murmured, bringing his gaze back down to look directly at Michael, "It's called Project: WSLY, and it's not just a bunch of files. It's currently a server of hard drives, all storing Seth's memories and information, and it serves as the core of the Kids' Grid Network. All the data that passes through Orre's networking grid has to go through that core eventually, and it captures or edits anything that might trace back to Seth and Wes." He shrugged almost too casually. "Since you're the new Snagger, and you've found this much out on your own, I'll tell you the story behind it."
Michael took a seat of his own, eyes wide as he listened to Nett start his story. He talked of how Wes had died from a Pokémon attack in Kanto, how his death drove his father, Garik Evice, mad with grief and anger, and how he converted the original Cipher Corporation into an evil criminal empire, all dedicated to the sole purpose of resurrecting Wesley using cloning and genetic research, and then using the new Wesley to conquer the world that had taken him away. Project: WSLY was born from that desire. Nett spoke of Evice's minions gathering data and research from all over the regions, stealing cloning and manipulation technologies from Team Rocket in Kanto, and gathering the DNA of the legendary Pokémon of Hoenn to act as the basis of the new Wesley.
He talked of Wes's sister, Sera, who had grown cold and cruel because of her beloved older brother's death, and whose DNA was used to piece together the genetic material that became a super-legendary Pokémon who looked so much like a human, so much like Wes, that Garik Evice declared him his new son, declared that Wes had returned to them.
Sera named the creation Seth.
"Mr. Evice is a Pokémon?" Michael blurted out in shock and Nett hissed at him to be quiet.
"Shhh! Don't tell the world, idiot! We've kept that secret for years now; we're not gonna let you blow it for us all!" the other man growled, "Even if you're the new Snagger, the Kids' Grid's primary loyalty goes to Seth!"
And Michael kept his mouth shut as Nett went on to explain Seth's existence. He was a Pokémon, but he was also human. He was both at the same time, which warped Nature but it seemed as if Nature allowed him to live as a replacement for Wes. Seth was sent to train with Team Snagem after his heart was sealed by the Shadow Pokémon Plan. But the seal came open, and Seth rebelled, turning against the very group that created him because of Rui and the two Eons. They fought against Cipher for two years, until Seth was killed during the battle at the Indigo Plateau after receiving his own Pokémon name. Nature intervened, brought his body back to fulfill Her purposes, but his memories had been lost.
As a creation of mankind, Seth was also used as a data server. This was from technology created in Kanto, the process used to create Porygon was used on Seth at creation to force his mind to act as a server for holding all of Cipher's data. When Cipher had their hands on him, they copied Seth's entire mind to hard drives for restoring their evil plans. Those drives were moved to Orre for safety. In the meantime, Seth had inadvertently summoned Wes's soul into his own body to understand what had happened in the meadow where he had awoken after death. Wes was discovered by Cipher and Rui and her friends, but Cipher kidnapped him and took him to Orre to be reinstalled as the core of their world conquest plot again.
Rui followed him to help him understand what had happened in the years since his death, and Wes also rebelled, using his personal knowledge of Cipher to destroy it financially before allowing himself to pass on and free Seth. The hard drives were recovered and used to reinstall Seth's memories and personality, with Celebi implanting the rest of his missing memories to finish the process.
Seth had never met Wes, the two never interacted, but it was Wes who sent the bulk of Cipher's riches to Seth in the hopes that the Snagger would complete the one thing Wes had dreamed of doing; transforming Orre into a paradise for people and Pokémon alike. Apparently, Seth took that dream to heart and had been following Wes's path ever since.
"I don't get it. Why does that make him the King?" Michael complained, "It's all like some crazy mad scientist movie, but how does it make Wes the King? And why would 'Nature' care about all this anyway? You'd think if something was made to warp it, Nature would do everything it could to wipe it out!" Nett sighed, rubbing his temples as though annoyed by him.
"While Wes was temporarily alive, he set things up to have Seth inherit everything; naming him Evice in all official documents, redirecting Cipher's funds into an account under Seth's name, declaring him a son of Garik in family records, that sort of thing. With the rest of the Evice Family dead or presumed dead, Seth was the only survivor left, and he inherited it all." the young man grumbled, "If Wes was the original Prince, and he passed that title to Seth, then it automatically makes Wes the King, and Seth would be the new Prince. But since Wes is dead, and staying dead, Orre has no King, only a Prince. And since there's still a fight over whether or not Orre should be ruled by a monarchy, Seth is still only a Prince in the corporate and financial sense of the word."
"Ohhh." Michael murmured, but there was still some doubt in his eyes and Nett could see it plainly, making him more annoyed with the boy. "But I still don't see why Seth cares so much about Wes's dream. Just because he was told about it, it really shouldn't make that much of an impact, right? Considering how he was back then and all?"
"He wasn't 'told' Wes's dream like that." Nett grumbled, fingers running through his hair, "Wes had a fiancée in Kanto; it turned out that he had left her some things as well, just before he died. She also followed Rui to help rescue Wes and was the one who laid him back to rest so Seth could return. According to Rui, one of the items left to her was a journal that Wes wrote in daily. She gave that journal to Seth, and as far as anyone knows, Seth still has it." He gave Michael a pointed look. "If you happen to find and read that journal, the rest of the answers you're looking for might be there. No one else has ever even seen that book. The Kids' Grid is responsible only for protecting and maintaining the hard drives that hold Seth's memories and Cipher's data, the server that we call Project: WSLY. Wes's journal is Seth's treasure, and so far only he, Rui and Wes's widow have ever read what's inside."
Michael found himself at the palace before long, questions still lingering in his mind. Mr. Evice was a Pokémon and a human, and technically, that made him an abomination, a distortion of Nature. By that, Nature should be trying its best to get rid of him, but instead it seemed to care about and protect him. Rui knew all about him, and loved him anyway -which still seemed to make Michael go 'Ewww', but he was trying his best to get over that- and Wes had made him the new Prince...
What was special between Wes and Seth that had Nature jumping through hoops to preserve Seth's existence?
If the answers were in that mystery journal, then Michael had to find it and take a peek for himself.
He felt a bit bad about that, but it was for the sake of learning about what was going on so he could be a better Snagger, could understand the way Orre worked better and maybe he'd act the way he should as a Snagger and stop Cipher that much more easily. And then maybe Seth would stop looking at him like he expected Michael to screw something up.
Well, now he was looking at Michael like he was curious about something too. The boy blinked; did the older Snagger know that he'd been poking around in his past? His father always did say that a person knowing something they shouldn't had a certain look to their face that gave them away. Michael suddenly began feeling the pressure of discovery looming over him, and he kept his eyes on his lunch plate to keep 'that certain look' from being directed at anyone else.
"I'm pretty sure it's not going to walk off your plate the second you look away from it." Seth remarked dryly and Michael jerked his head up to blink owlishly at him. The Snagger had a smirk on his face, cheek resting on one fist as he gazed back at the boy. Rui sat by him, giggling behind her hands. Michael flushed in embarrassment and went back to poking at the breaded chicken and leafy greens that were part of the royals' lunch -he'd shown up right on time for lunch and he hadn't realized it until they sat him down and served him a portion-. It was even more embarrassing when it dawned on him partway through the meal that his own lunch was assembled by cutting down the portions for Seth and Rui.
"Sorry, I was just thinking about stuff." Michael apologized nervously, "I mean, Cipher's still out there, and I haven't quite finished snagging all their Shadow Pokémon and I still don't know anything about the one that dumped that ship in the desert..."
"That's gonna be a pain to get rid of." Seth muttered in agreement, and Michael just managed a weak smile at that.
"...and there's also that story you said you'd tell me after everything's finally done." he added almost hesitantly, watching the older Snagger for any signs that he might need to run soon, "About who you are and why you are the way you are. I... found out on my own..."
Somehow, causing Seth to stare at him with his mouth open and a forkful of salad still hovering in the air before it didn't fall into one of those 'signs' to watch for, but it got his attention faster than anything else. Michael glanced helplessly at the Desert Princess several times, a slow cringe forming on his own face.
The fork came back down, almost inhumanly slow as well, and Seth withdrew from the table, unreadable expression on his face that even Rui was concerned to see. He managed a tight smile, more an upturned twitch of his mouth at the two of them, then left the room with a whispering sweep of motion that had his coat tail flutter just the slightest before disappearing. It kind of made Michael think of how he might have been long ago, to turn and stalk out into the desert with a flourish like that and golden eyes gleaming in anticipation of the next Shadow Pokémon to Snag.
Rui just looked at him blankly before blinking back to awareness and flushing. She excused herself quickly and got up to chase after her husband, probably to get him back to finish eating. This left Michael on his own and he fidgeted in place with no idea of what to do now.
But there was something he could do. Find the journal.
"Mr. Evice is probably gonna kill me for this..." he moaned softly, even as he slid out of his chair and ran out of the dining room.
He searched the areas of the palace he knew best, his Eevee at his side and darting along with big brown eyes scanning doors and chambers quickly. Michael never did get around to deciding what he would evolve his partner into, but he had decided on a name after a few days spent with the royal couple.
"See anything, Mars?" the boy sighed as they stopped at one crossing that had halls branching out to either side and in front of him. It was far too easy to get lost in the palace. The Eevee padded forward and lifted his nose into the air, eyes closing as he sniffed at the air before his ears shot up and he turned his head towards the left hall. With a bark that was more squeak than anything, the Eevee dashed down that way, leaving Michael to yelp and give chase to keep up.
Down one hall, then down another, it was a pattern that was kept up until the Eevee finally stopped and sat down in front of a large set of double doors, looking back over his shoulder as Michael slowed to a stop beside him, the boy panting as he gazed up at them. Here? Was Mars tracking by scent? If Seth read that journal a lot, then there would be a very strong trail that would lead right to it. Swallowing down his nervousness, Michael spread his hands against one door and leaned his weight into it, pushing the door aside little by little. It was hard at first, the wood was thick and heavy and probably from another region. There wasn't anything like it in steady supply in Orre.
When there was space enough for Michael to slip through, he squirmed inside and looked around the room beyond the door in awe. All around him were various things that didn't seem to make much sense to him; a few chunks of white marble and silver and plain rock piled in one spot, a mannequin dressed in tight black pants and a tube top with a dark blue jacket thrown over it, a pile of broken metal armor pieces with ruined circuitry and pulled wires sticking out from the exposed panels, a silver steak knife.
"What is all this junk?" Michael murmured with a puzzled expression and came to a standstill in front of a pedestal that held -could it be?- a copy of the Snag Machine that Seth wore on his arm. He reached out a hand shakily and placed it gingerly on the device. It was cool and smooth, all deep midnight blue and trimmed with red, but it was also badly damaged, with cracks and the bulbous forearm and shoulder structures crushed in, like some massive fist had taken it into its grip and just crushed it like a stress ball.
"What happened to you?" the boy whispered to the machine, "What's your story? I bet you went through a lot of adventures with Mr. Evice."
Reluctantly, he left the machine to go to the far back of the room, where there was yet another pedestal, this one surrounded by cooling devices and a soft light shone down on it from overhead. It highlighted a large leather-bound book, thick with pages that seemed oddly shiny, with the world 'Journal' printed on its cover in elegant script, sparkling with gold. Michael stared down at the book in amazement; this had to be the journal that Nett had talked about, Seth's treasure.
Delicately, reverently, Michael opened the book and marveled at the crisp paper edged in gold. This had to be the most expensive-looking journal he'd ever seen. Writing, neat and small, covered the pages, and Michael began to read, only briefly wondering where the royal couple might be now before becoming captured by the words on the paper. He read of a young man who dreamed of creating a paradise for people and Pokémon alike, of his kind heart and the feeling that there was more to him than he understood. He read of Wes's journey to Kanto, of meeting his girlfriend face to face for the first time and the happy thoughts of finally marrying her, of a dream that caught him up in vivid clarity and commanded him to leave a message of where to find a Time Flute and what music to play and then leave the journal in the hands of his beloved, so that it could help his future heir.
He read of the last night Wes lived in Neon Town, of a parade passing through and flowers in Anca's hair and his Eevee all but purring in joy, of a dinner date that ended with his marriage proposal accepted and gifts of adoration poured upon his new fiancée. And then the words stopped, and Michael carefully closed the book, the many blank pages that would never be written in fluttering from the motion. He hadn't realized he was sitting down in front of the pedestal until he raised his head and went wide-eyed at the sight of Seth Evice standing over him, gazing down at him with a mostly unreadable expression.
"Uh... I can explain!" Michael blurted out in a panic, hugging the book to himself. The older Snagger shook his head before kneeling down before him, taking a deep breath and slowly exhaling.
"It's fine. You would have to have talked to Nett to find anything out about me, to even know that Wes's journal existed." Seth murmured and reached out to accept the book as Michael handed it back gently, "But do you understand why I am the way I am now?" The boy looked up at him tearfully.
"You were created to replace Wes, but you're different from him. All the dreams he had, all his hopes for Orre, you're trying to make them come true in your own way, to make up for him never having that chance to do it himself." he mumbled and rubbed at his eyes, "But I just don't get why Nature doesn't mind you being Pokémon and human at the same time." He didn't look up, just heard the sound of Seth placing the journal back on the pedestal, then lifted his head in surprise as the elder Snagger took a seat beside him and rested back against the solid stone, arms folded over his chest.
"Wes was supposed to be someone legendary, a one of a kind trainer with a special destiny." the man sighed, shaking his head, "According to Red, he was supposed to be someone called the Chosen Master, and there's only one for each generation of trainers. A new one isn't born till the current one dies, but Wes didn't get the chance to actually become Chosen Master. He died before he could." Michael looked up at him, confused, and Seth just gave him a wry smirk. "The Chosen Master is a protector of Nature, there to link humans and Pokémon together in peace and provide balance between human progress and natural forces. When Wes died, that link was lost for too long. You could say that Nature was royally pissed off for that."
"So... you were created to make up for it? And that's why Nature doesn't mind you?" Michael asked, eyes wide with surprise, "So, why is Wes King of Orre?"
"It's our way of honoring him." Rui's voice sounded out and both Snaggers looked to the doorway as the young woman stood there with a small smile, a pair of Umbreons and Espeons clustered around her. She stepped forward, walking up to them and reaching down to offer her hand to Michael. "If Wes had lived, if he had married his love and come back to Orre, and become the Chosen Master, then Orre would be paradise right now. Cipher would be a force for good and Pokémon would be free and happy here." she went on, and pulled the boy to his feet when he accepted her help.
"And that's what you're trying to do now, huh?" Michael wondered aloud and turned his gaze on Seth as the other Snagger rose to his feet.
"That's what we're trying to do." he corrected, placing a hand on Michael's shoulder, "Cipher can't be that force of good anymore, not after all the harm it's done, and Wes's dream would be lost if not for us, all of us. Only now I can't continue working, not while this new Cipher is out there following the old one's path." The redhead nodded, determined expression on his face as Mars trotted up to him and rubbed against his leg.
"Don't worry, Mr. Evice. I'll beat Cipher and then we'll make the King's dream come true together!" he declared, "I promise! I'm a Snagger of Orre; if I can't even do that, then I don't deserve this machine on my arm!" He felt himself puff up with joy and confidence at the proud smile on Seth's face.
"Spoken like a Snagger." he remarked with a grin at Rui, "I suppose I can forgive you for taking off the security on the vault to let him in here." The princess only rolled her eyes and giggled.
"Oh, Seth, you really should have known this was gonna happen anyway! He's a Snagger, and that meant he was going to run up to Nett and the Kids' Grid Network eventually!" she teased and turned to walk back out, winking over her shoulder at them, "Now let's go finish lunch; I can't send a young Snagger out into battle without a meal!"
Michael laughed, running after her with a renewed sense of camaraderie with the royal couple. Now that he knew more about what happened in the past, he felt more sure in that what he was doing would help all of Orre. He was another link to bringing Wes's dream to life, another protector of Nature.
Another Prince of the Desert, perhaps?