A/N: Approaching the Epilogue feels a great deal like writing an entirely different story. No matter how much I want to, though, I must refrain. I don't want to make this my last fan-fiction too soon. Thanks a bunch to everyone who reviewed, I know I wouldn't be writing this now if it wasn't for your contributions to my writing, short or long. Remember review responses? I'll be posting those at the end of the story. If anyone reviews this chapter, I'll respond to them via the in-site system, as there will be no more chapters posted to this story (obviously). I appreciate anyone who choses to review, no matter when they're reading this, and especially if they didn't review the main section of the story. I will receive and respond to your review, no matter how much time has passed.
Does anyone remember that community I used to talk about in my A/N for MM? Well, I thought I'd drop another plug for it, seeing as we're still alive and well after all those years. We're a text-based community for fans of pokemon transformation, located in a permanent room on skype. If anyone's interested, go ahead and send me a PM. We're a small community, no more than ten at any given time, and we're friendly and accepting of just about everyone. We'd love to have new members!
Erica sat speechless in the cockpit of the escape-shuttle, watching with wide-eyes as her station fell apart around her. She'd moved only a few hundred meters off, so her view would be unimpeded of the place she'd lived and worked for the last few years, the place she'd fought so hard to be assigned. She sat quietly, clutching at her injuries as its many segments fractured and snapped, glowing deep red as they broke apart into smaller and smaller pieces, burning deep crimson as they plummeted towards the ocean. The Arceus jewel sat wrapped in rags and cloth in her lap, but she didn't really think about it much, her eyes fixed on the stars. So much for her father's dream of traveling to the stars. She tapped one finger on the console as she thought about Tom, wondering if he had made it out. She'd listened to her father drone on and on and on about all the special training he'd received, how difficult he would be to replace. But at the same time, she knew how dangerous teleportation was. How much more dangerous would it be to try and teleport using the stone? Erica herself had not a shred of the gift in her, not unlike her father. To her, the stone was just a rock. Pretty, maybe… but it lacked the resonance psychics said they felt while they were near it, the bass-rich tone that seemed to reverberate through the soul.
"N-nice work, Tucker." She heard a weak voice cough from behind her, and she abandoned the controls to assist Captain Bailey to his feet. The man had survived more than one bullet in his life time - stun spore didn't have more than five minutes on him. With the smaller girl's help, he was able to swagger into the copilot's seat, still fighting off the grogginess, but more alert by the moment. Erica had recaptured the crew's pokemon to conserve air as soon as they were free of the gantry, and Bailey's eyes wandered wildly for a few seconds searching for Gardevoir, only relaxing once his hand found her occupied pokeball at his belt. "You really outdid yourself, Tucker. I knew I made the right decision choosing you over those other candidates…" The young woman had returned to the controls, although her hand was on the bundle containing the stone, not bothering with the console for now. She would get to that- their orbit was stable for the moment. "My superiors thought it was a mistake to bring someone like you into space. Your personality tests confirmed some of their suspicions. Must be all that pokemon instinct in your head."
Erica turned to face her captain, watching him curiously. What exactly did he mean, and why had he chosen right now to discuss this with her? She already knew he was her ally when it came to her race- he'd been the only one to support her appointment from the beginning, and she was grateful. A government job going to someone part-pokemon? Now that was special. "You brought the stone too? You'll have my recommendation for colonel, Tucker. Maybe even a distinguished service medal." He trailed off briefly, watching the station with her, then glancing around the shuttle. "Where'd that little girl get to? The one that saved all our lives… I'd like to thank her personally."
Erica shook her head, frowning weakly as she gripped the controls again, angling the craft slightly downward for descent. "She had to go. Something important about Bit, but she didn't say what."
"Go?" Bailey repeated, eyes wide and confused. He was fully awake now, his alertness returned in earnest. He took full control of the craft away from Erica, who deactivated her controls without a word on the matter. "How could she go? We're hundreds of miles from the surface, and… she obviously didn't use the gem, you've got it there." For at that precise moment, Erica had lifted the stone into her hands, peeling away the cloth she'd wrapped it in.
"Not sure." Erica lied, trying to keep her voice as flat as possible. "She just said she had to go, and then she was gone. I…" Bailey looked sternly at her, and she relented, cheeks sparking a little in embarrassment. "I'm not entirely sure she was a little girl, Captain." The man's eyes narrowed a little as she spoke, and she went on, hastily. "What kind of psychic can create artificial gravity? Or… transport ten people and pokemon across a space station? I… I think she only looked like a little girl." She stopped talking right then, though. For at that second, Erica had peeled away the last bit of cloth and touched the object with her bare skin.
Erica's eyes glazed over as the whole of the universe poured into her mind.
Alvin paced up and down his lab, footsteps growing quicker and more agitated with every passing second. He'd already called the police, spoken with a nice officer named Jenny who promised she would be over as soon as possible to see to the thing. He'd barricaded all the doors in anticipation of their arrival, just as Logan had instructed him. The EIA wanted him dead. That meant his life was about to become much, much more difficult. Could he even trust the police? The EIA had people everywhere these days, contracts with every aspect of the local government. He'd never thought twice about it before, making full use of their products and services without any idea of how dangerous they might someday be.
"What should I do, Sparks?" He asked, reaching down to rub behind the ears of the pichu standing on his desk. The pichu was younger-looking, with a light-gray everstone swinging lightly from his neck. "They're probably coming for me already. That officer might've been them, even. Should I run? But there's no point… the guidance in my car's EIA, and I don't know how to pilot the helicopter. I suddenly wish I hadn't given everyone the week off while I worked with Gemini." Dr. Tucker's laboratory was a vast facility on the coast, producing the most powerful propulsion systems in the world. The most advanced even used bits of programmed moonstone, manipulating local space-time in order to provide a richer environment for combustion. He lived on the top floor alone, with only the robotic housekeepers and his pokemon for company.
"If you go, you've got to take me along!" The pichu squeaked, struggling onto one of Alvin's arms, and from there, quickly onto his shoulder. Of course, most people would not have understood that. But the years had not robbed Alvin of one of the few gifts his misfortunes had given him. "It's no fun without you around, Alvin. Nothing to do. The shiny metal whirlwind doesn't say much when it isn't cleaning, and since you took Tom with you, he's not here to play with either. Where's Tom, Alvin? You didn't forget him in the sky did you?" The man didn't answer for a time, still stroking the pokemon gently as he surveyed the prototype to his latest engine, running his free hand over the cross-section cut in steel a few inches to the side of it. The demonstration model was still locked on loop, and every few moments, a webbed foil would grow red hot, and the miniature engine would jerk back in its housing, a column of solid plasma blasting down from the opening and into a special containment cell lower in the lab.
Alvin shook his head, coughing to conceal a whimper, even though there was nobody around who might understand what that might mean. "Tom's gone, Sparks. I… I wish I had better news. Do you remember what we were doing?"
The pichu nodded, although it was mostly a lie. "Teleporting, only… farther. Right? You wanted to go far into the sky, so far you couldn't see the ground." His face filled with worry though, just on the edge of tears. If Alvin said Tom was gone, he meant it. Despite what their respective biologies might imply, Sparks had been good friends with Tom for years now. As close as pokemon ever had, anyway. "You knew it wasn't safe, Alvin? Why'd you do it anyway?" The pichu leapt off Alivn's shoulder onto the desk, glaring at him with folded arms. "If you got Tom killed, I don't wanna be your friend anymore! You can go without me after all!" And now the pichu was crying. Sparks was as much one of Alvin's projects as any of the engines mounted in miniature to the support beams. But Dr. Tucker was not a geneticist by trade, only during his spare time. Sparks was the latest in a long series of experiments in pokemon intelligence, and the first to survive past his artificial birth. His brain had twice the neuron-density, and a factor of ten as many connections, as a regular pichu, making him nearly as complex as an ordinary human. Alvin insisted on the continued use of an everstone, for fear that evolving might disrupt the already delicate balance within his brain.
Alvin couldn't help but cry too. Despite all the intervening years, he still sometimes acted like a pichu. Even the most technology of the most advanced race ever to evolve could do only so much for him, and it didn't help he'd already been somewhat immature when it all started. "I… I… I…" He stammered, his hands gripping one another hard enough to turn his skin white. "The numbers were good, Sparks! It… it wasn't his fault! There… there were these mean men… they sabotaged him… made him make mistakes…" Alvin's voice was horse, and his words were vague. He didn't truly know what the EIA had done to Tom, or how they'd done it. But he had seen those telepaths, strong enough to nearly take on a mew, and it wasn't hard to put the pieces together.
"Then why are you running, Alvin?" The pichu asked, sniffing, and moving a little closer to him. "If… if those mean men killed Tom, why aren't you gonna do something about it? You're just gonna… let them do that to him?" The man didn't answer for several long moments, scooping Sparks back onto his shoulder as he moved towards the rear door. It led to the basement, a section of the facility that connected to mostly-unexcavated ruins. Few knew they even existed. The lab had been built using a special friction-pile support system, so that none of the load would be channeled into the delicate masonry below. Not even his techs knew about it, and he hoped the EIA wouldn't either. But as he reached the door, something from beyond it startled him, and he froze dead in his tracks. It came quietly, lightly, almost impossible to hear. A courteous tap on the door, like a timid child unsure if he was allowed in his father's study. Alvin's hand tightened around the handle, his other hand on the deadbolt. "You shouldn't get the door!" The pichu squeaked, but Alvin ignored him. He knew the sounds coming from the other side, the light tap followed by two slightly louder ones. He hadn't heard it for nearly twenty years now, but it remained as clearly engrained as ever. He didn't listen to the squealing of the mouse on his shoulder, and even ignored a bit of reflexive energy surging down his arm as he twisted the lock, brought the deadbolt down with a loud click, and opened the door.
There wasn't a policeman on the other side, or a team of highly skilled assassins. Instead, a young teenage boy, a mop of greasy black hair, and an eccentric crimson trenchcoat. The boy smiled weakly, frozen with his mouth half-open as Alvin launched at him, wrapping his arms around him in a tight hug. "David! You've finally come back!"
I'm not sure I fully understand the purpose of this activity, Logan. When someone used telepathy, their voice was often exactly the same as they sounded when they spoke… at least with humans. What mattered was the idea of how one thought one sounded… since no actual sound was exchanged, age or gender or race had little to do with it. But most people sounded exactly the same. The exception, of course, were pokemon. What few could speak telepathically (and there were very few) often sounded radically different than they looked. That was true now, when a small pink mammal with striking resemblance to a kitten sounded exactly as it had hours earlier, when its voice had still been a simulated compilation of the voices of a half-dozen women stolen from the internet. Just now, the kitten in question was being tossed violently around by fierce winds, and only prevented from spiraling away and out of control by her psionic anchor to the pokemon next to her.
Logan possessed no shred of instability as the air whipped past her, her head tilted down and tail above her in gentle, graceful freefall. There was no ocean below them, but a brightly lit countryside, a sea of hundreds of gently swaying lights. She sighed loudly enough for Bit to hear. You mean to tell me this isn't fun? I don't believe you. The larger mew was doing nothing to reduce their speed as they fell, only providing them with atmosphere at higher altitudes. This close to the ground, she didn't even have to do that.
The young mew didn't know how to answer for a time. Everything had come at her so fast, she could barely process everything. Biological instinct had been one of the most confusing things, but as someone who was not unfamiliar with some levels of command and instruction higher and more important than others, it was not difficult for her to selective integrate… at least while she was young, and her instincts were simple. It hadn't taken her long to figure out what her own internal calculations had already estimated; Mew bodies were dependent on their abilities to survive. She hadn't quite mastered the art of ignoring the pull of gravity quite yet, and Logan had been tirelessly instructing her since her rescue. It had been more than simple teaching, though. She found herself on both halves of the globe, flying through lush tropical jungles, steep canyons, and now plummeting towards the earth, with Logan swearing that "if you don't stop us, we'll just haveta' hit the ground", although quite without basis, and she'd made similar threats of mortality at some of their previous destinations, and not honored them there, either. Logan was clearly trying to teach her something, but today at least it wasn't flying. I… I said so before, Logan, I'm… not quite sure what you mean by that word. She hesitated, sure that her words would disappoint the older mew.
She wasn't wrong. Logan closed her eyes briefly as she fell, listening to the soothing sounds of millions of thoughts below her, an ocean more real than anything on the coast, and much more likely to drown her if she wasn't careful. Without trying to, she found herself listening for a very specific resonance of thought, the kind most familiar to her. It was most common among humans, but even then, Logan never heard it for more than a few seconds before it faded away. And she could never trace it. Thoughts all left ripples in spacetime, the faintest patterns of dancing electrochemical currents. Some people were louder than others, sometimes she could even hear pokemon. Not usually, though. It took concentration to hear the thoughts of a machine, with one exception. AI were growing more and more common as the technology improved, but there was something about them, something empty and shallow. Like watching a 3D movie… the simulation was sometimes accurate, but it never looked real. For Logan, there had only ever been one exception to this rule, and she was falling with her now. But just because this AI seemed more real than the others did not mean she didn't posses some of the same quirks as other AIs. How could BIT ever be a proper mew if she couldn't learn to have fun?
What, Fun? You've got emotions… your creators never taught you what enjoyment is?
Bit was somewhat indignant. Of course they did! Or… or I guess I figured it out eventually. It wasn't part of my duties at the EIA.
Logan sighed again, and at once, a shimmering flicker of energy appeared around the both of them, a blue sphere that cut off the flow of air around them, simultaneously warping the light around them so that they were invisible to anyone who might be looking up. And what would be fun for you, Bit? Maybe we should be doing that instead. It can't be as exciting as all the things we've done today, but…
The younger mew moved towards the larger one, pressing herself to Logan's side largely out of instinct. She realized she was acting like a pokemon, but didn't act to stop it. Instinct was somewhat of a relief for her. She'd depended on instructions for her continued existence since the first moments of her consciousness. Being in an organic body had robbed her of all of them, taken away her connection to the internet that she'd always relied on when she didn't know what else to do. Many humans would spend their whole lives fighting for free will, or at least, fighting for the perception of it. But now that she was free, Bit felt like she had too much. The EIA had provided a purpose for her continued existence, both directly through commands and indirectly, when she was suddenly a target for deletion, and her efforts became a struggle for self-preservation. Watch people, mostly. Look at the world through cameras. In truth, she had enjoyed the day's activities, but not for the reasons Logan thought. It was enough for Bit to see and be a part of the world. To touch leaves for the first time, to feel water on her fur, to go places where there weren't any cameras, and find she still existed. Spending her entire life in a computer meant that the physical world seemed no more real that the world of numbers and data. It was all input… a synthesized image seemed equally real to her as an image projected through a camera. That was why she'd been so confused when Logan had asked her to leave the computer. What was so inherently superior about the "physical" world, anyway? Had it not been for the constant danger of her electronic existence, she might've even said no. But not likely.
So Bit tried to communicate that with her elder guardian, pushing her own memories along the thread of thought that connected the two of them. This much had come quite naturally to her, it being so similar to the way she communicated with other computers, feeding information directly into their buffers for processing. Logan received and processed the memory of Bit's first sunset the same way any computer might, unpacking the data as she ran over the images and sounds and feelings in her head, experiencing the memory as truly as Bit had first experienced it. She fell silent as she watched the world through Bit's eyes, their shielded sphere freezing in midair, dissipating the inertia of its occupants without so much as a shudder felt inside it.
The elder mew's eyes began to tear up, and she sniffed loudly, wrapping one paw around the younger feline in an affectionate, almost motherly fashion. "Alright, Bit…" She said, her psionic voice quavering a little "You've done well for your first day. I think this lesson is over." Logan had learned a great deal under the Eldest's personal instruction. Since she'd met him, nobody else had ever taught her anything. Lower creatures just didn't seem as interesting, their struggles less important, less permanent. Until now. Until Bit.
You shouldn't be here. The voice was sternly reprimanding, but subtle and intricate in its depth. It sounded like a parent lecturing a child who had unknowingly, severely endangered themselves. There was a love and compassion to it that Erica had never heard. Even her father, who had loved and cared for her as long as she could remember, didn't sound like this. It was like listening to the entire planet. Her senses were all lost on her now, overcome in a torrent of information of such volume they'd drowned in meaningless static. She would be free of it eventually, but it would be another quarter-second before Bailey pried the Arceus gem from her hands. I'm surprised you're still alive, Erica. Communication didn't come in words, not exactly. Thousands of feelings and desires and stray sounds, a tapestry of energy and entropy. She felt it wrapping around her, a warm hug, a slap of someone disciplining her, so she wouldn't try and grab the soldering iron again.
Finding the concentration to reply under this torrent of information did not come easily for her. She was the boil of a hotspring, she was the inexorable march of the continental plates, the incalculable vastness of space. But she did. Erica learned the language of the stars, and whispered it back through the smoke-haze of a trance. Where am I? What… what is 'I', how did I get here… Most of those questions answered themselves, and there was no reply. She remembered touching the stone, remembered touch like a dream, and the separated independence of individuality like an old, fond story told by a loved one.
You're everywhere. Or at least, you think you are. The voice paused, if you could call it that. Erica understood the illusion of time perfectly now. Her entire lifespan stretched this single moment. She saw her birth in the forest, felt the trauma of her mother's death, felt the heartbreak of her first boyfriend, who had rejected her outright when she admitted what she really was. I'm sorry you had to experience this. The decision to allow your kind to posses the Omega Catalyst was not mine to make. But it seems I would have chosen incorrectly… perhaps you're more mature than I give credit.
It took millions of years for Erica to reply, years that passed in nanoseconds. Outside, blood had begun to dribble from her ears, her nose. She had no body now, and felt no pain, but she was dying. Her first few moments passed in ignorance, but as she tried to truly process all the information flowing into her head, her brain was suffocating, braking and rewriting connections between itself faster than should be possible. And something was /wrong/ with what she was feeling. That was what was killing her, more than the sheer volume of data. The mind, after all, was holographic. But as her awareness spread, she felt the errors, suffocating her. Universal constants that weren't constant. Streams of energy that flowed uphill, or rushed down in a torrent towards entropic oblivion. The world was coming apart at the seams. Help… get… out… I don't like this! The evolved pichu-girl was totally unprepared for this sensation. Psychics near the end of their lives sometimes described feeling this strange detachment, an emptiness like floating above your own desiccated corpse.
I can't help you escape. But I promise to do my best to heal whatever damage you've come to, if I can. I don't know why I didn't notice you sooner, Erica. In another lifetime, you will make a valuable ally. Then, abruptly, the sensation vanished, and Erica collapsed in a sea of weak, glorious unconsciousness.
"It's time to go, Alvin. You've stayed long enough… it won't be safe for you any longer." David's voice was young, but firm in his ears. He remembered only dimly now the conversation they'd shared, as David had explained in brief the last twenty years. Alvin had on some level always known it, and his best friend explained why. He'd often gotten lonely at night, and visited Alvin in his dreams. Knowledge had been exchanged, mostly forgotten in the morning, but never entirely. He listened as David explained how dangerous things were about to become, for everyone. Only half listened as David told him how necessary his presence would be in the upcoming years, and how he wouldn't survive till then any other way. Dr. Tucker was reluctant to leave his family behind. To leave everything behind, really. What would happen to his company, his daughter, everything? Only enough energy left for one. There was so little energy left, much less than there should be after only 13.7 billion years.
The gateway was ready, the massive metal structure of interlocking rings rotating faster than the eye could see, and leaving window into the void. "Is it supposed to be black like that, David?" The young man had changed a great deal in the last few hours. Somehow, seemingly without reason to Alvin, his former best friend had done something to him. Worked his strange unfathomable powers until the years slofted off like snakeskin, and he was a young, bright-faced trainer all over again, the very same one that'd taken a shortcut through the woods on the way to school one morning, and thus made possible everything that had happened in the last twenty-someodd years.
"You're looking at the event horizon… light only travels forward through it, so there's nothing to see. Don't worry, it's working perfectly." David put one hand on Alvin's shoulder, squeezing once, trying to be reassuring. "If everything goes well, I should be waiting for you on the other side."
"You'll keep an eye on my daughter while I'm gone?" Alvin asked, his fingers traveling down the fabric of his jacket. David had dressed him like a trainer, even supplied him with tools common to the profession, empty pokeballs, pokedex… even Sparks, who he'd been allowed to bring only after much heated argument. Alvin had naturally asked the follow-up question of why his daughter couldn't come along in one of his pokeballs, but David hadn't spent much time explaining it. "Sparks isn't sapient yet." He had said. "That's where the energy goes. It's not about the mass." That hadn't made sense to him, but then, much of what his friend had said didn't make sense. But it rang true, and that was enough. Alvin had always trusted his intuition, and it rarely led him wrong.
David nodded. "She has much to learn if she's to be ready in time. I'll do what I can to prepare her." He pressed one hand to the small of Alvin's back, pushing with just enough force to cause him to stumble forward. Alvin caught himself for just a second, looking back at his best friend's face. Changed as he had been, there was something familiar to it. It had been enough to make him trust him, enough to throw everything aside at his prompting. Now he was about to find out if that trust had been misplaced.
Enigma149-Thanks for your review! I'm not so sure I would think of it so highly as you described it, but it is my most recent work, which means I have had the greatest opportunity to improve while writing it. Like I said, I've written several (some of them fairly complete) versions of this story. A personal failing on my part. I just couldn't seem to get it all to come together until now. Hopefully this section answered most of your questions… except one. Since details about specific pokemon-world geography often have no cannon answer, I often default to our world when something needs a name. It might not be the most accurate approach, but it does a good job of telling the reader what I'm talking about, and it doesn't create any of my own fake pokemon proper nouns, which I'd like to keep to a minimum.
Mijj - Thanks for saying what you did… I appreciate all responses, even the shorter ones.
DarkPokemonLover - Unfortunately, while your style of reviewing might be the easiest for you to write, it's also the most challenging to respond to. But I'll do the best I can to find any unanswered questions in your review and answer them for you, regardless. Yeah, people often assume that I should have more writing than I do. But if I had the capacity to publish in greater volume, I would probably be published professionally. That's one of the only things stopping me… so in a way, my inability to produce serious product in quantity has made these stories possible. I'm gonna leave all the timeline stuff alone, as I think we've talked about that in plenty of detail already. That's the first time I've had game knowledge in my stories, DPL? MM had three different pokemon battles I remember, it had the ship between continents, it had TMs, pokedexes, Bill's PC, Rare Candies, Potions, badges… I'm sure there's more, but I can't think of it right now. I wish I was a mew in disguise, DPL. That would make getting to work every morning sooooo much easier.
BYoshi1993 - Reading your review makes me wonder if you've read my second story, Unlikely Ascension. A male mew known as "The Eldest" is one of the main characters. If that story has any main characters… A quick lesson in mew physiology may be in order. I've actually extrapolated a fairly intricate structure of existence and beliefs for the mew in this story, which originated from repeated roleplaying of mew characters on the site I mentioned earlier (again, anyone is welcome to contact me about joining, we love new members). Within the universe of my stories, mew behave much as many species of fish. Within any given area, there can be only one male at a given time. The most dominant, as defined by psychic power, a title loosely refereed to as "The Eldest". This means that within my universe, there is only one male mew at a time, and any new mew, reguardless of what race they came from, and what sex they were before (again, see Logan in UA), must always be female. The exception would be when there were larger numbers of mew alive. When there's more than ten or so in existence, and their species has recovered, there may be more males (at a ratio between 1:100 and 1:50, not sure exactly what just now). But as it stands, there won't be any new males for awhile. At least until the Eldest dies, and someone takes his place, and becomes the new eldest. Like I said, mew are as flexible as many species of fish. This concludes today's unwanted lesson in mew biology.
Kirby Oak - Like DPL's review, yours presents considerable challenges when it comes to responding, so I'll just scroll down, look for question marks, and see what I find. Yep, they still haven't gone to mars yet. I guess they just haven't got around to it yet. They would've during this story, but we both see how that ended up. He wasn't talking about dessert, just compensation in general. Making sure everything was there. Yeah, there was a miscount of numbers in there. I'm surprised nobody else noticed it… I was afraid it would be a big problem for people. It's a stick-up from previous editions, when the EIA played more of a major role, instead of being just nameless villains. Writing a story based on someone else's ideas definitely gave me a whole mess a trouble with this one. I know that, if I'd been writing on my own, I probably could've finished it in one edition, but being tied to a fixed ending definitely made my own writing on the subject… problematic. I know I'll make sure to involve other people's ideas in less of a plot defining way next time… but there was a happy ending in the end, so it didn't turn out all bad! The story got written in the end, so that's good. At least it was fun.
So thanks again to all of you who reviewed. If any of you wish to respond, or to review this section of the story, I would be more than happy that you did. I'll respond as quick as I can via the site system, since their ain't no other way. In case you can't tell, I've got one more story planned... I hope to have the first chapter posted within two weeks. We'll see how that goes.