Disclaimer: NYMN. I'm continuing the process of easing myself back into this story. I've got a lot more in mind, that's for sure. In the days since my mind has spun its own thoughts, newer ones. For this chapter, I'm still finding my feet, so bear with me. Whether or not ANY more chapters get written depends a lot on whether or not enough of you want it.
One final thing: By now it is fairly easy to find the uncut story of Mewtwo's Origin online...much easier than it was ten years ago. Try Youtube for starters. But there's no reason to not be able to see it anymore. If you haven't yet, do it, so the story makes more sense.
From what she'd projected into his mind, Mewtwo silently agreed to give Anji the benefit of the doubt-to see if it was worth her putting into place the alternate means of ensuring his silence. He found he wasn't even surprised that she was capeable of what she suggested.
I had to use it on that pokemon translator I told you about, she'd said in his mind. It does work. I didn't have to take away his memories, even though he'd seen Madhea.
A loud, abrupt argument drove Mewtwo out of his trance, and he looked quickly around. Much to his astonishment, he saw Squirtle of all pokemon glaring angrily at a young Nidoqueen, holding an apple in his hands while she raged at him. Just inches away, Bulbasaur stared at them in shock.
"I saw it first! It's mine!"
"You took it from me, liar!"
Mewtwo's telepathic voice, sharp and clear, ended what was to him a very strange situation. "Squirtle. Young Nidoqueen. You two will not argue. You will learn to settle your differences peacefully. Is that clear?"
Both looked a tad shamefaced, and for some reason, it was Squirtle who blushed a little. He held it out to the baby Nidoqueen, even though with a rather defiant "Squirt!" he turned up his nose.
"Saur. Saur, bulba." With the assertion that he thought both of them were acting like babies, two slender vines snaked out from Bulbasaur's body and plucked the apple from Squirtle's hands, and with a sharp, deft force, broke it into two equal parts, handing it to two barely-mollified pokemon before sighing and wandering over to where Mewtwo and Sharie stood.
"I saw it," he said. "Squirtle shot several of them out of that apple tree over there with his water gun but when he went to get one, there was only one left and he and that Nidoqueen actually touched it at the same time."
Sharie shook her head. "It isn't just that, is it? Squirtle's been...a bit moody the last few days."
"Be as it may be, I would prefer it if he did not engage in such foolish behaivor," said Mewtwo firmly. "That Nidoqueen is hardly more than a baby. Squirtle was cloned from a much older pokemon and he knows better. If something is bothering him, he should not resort to violence."
Anji had been listening to this, wide-eyed. "You really have changed," he remarked, still experimentally flexing his legs and toes, hardly able to convince himself that all parts worked as promised.
"There is nothing to be gained from such behaivor except pain. I saw that proven when my own heart burned with nothing but rage. If that cycle cannot be broken it will endlessly just repeat itself, Anji. Senseless violence just clouds everything that truly matters, and hides what everyone shares deep inside."
"Truer words were never spoken," said Anji solemnly.
"Aren't you hungry, Mewtwo?"
He hadn't been aware that any time had passed, but Madhea was suddenly beside him, an apple in her hands. She must have gotten one from those Squirtle had dropped down.
"I am not overly so, Madhea," he answered her gently.
"Squirtle's little spat made a lot of pokemon gloomy," she answered, looking around her for a moment. "I know he's unhappy right now about something."
"Unfortunately I cannot help him if he doesn't tell me why of his own free will. There are boundaries I've had to learn not to cross, Madhea."
"I think you take your responsibilities too heavily, Mewtwo!" she said, with such conviction he looked at her, astonished.
"You know, you're right when you say that senseless violence clouds what really matters," she said pointedly. "But so can brooding and feeling so responsible you don't even know what joy is. That too makes you miss the beauty around you, and inside you and everyone else, the beauty that can't be seen."
"I...don't think I want to say that I have never known joy." He reached down and picked her up. "I just recently discovered what it might feel like...for the very first time."
She blushed a deep red, but smiled at him impishly. "Then how about learning how that feeling makes you see everything differently?"
"I'm...not sure I follow you exactly," he said, confused. An awakened heart brought even greater pain was all he'd known until...too, too recently. He'd learned caring. Greater responsiblity. Concern and friendship for his fellow pokemon.
Joy? Happiness? Love? Emotions of which he knew next to nothing about.
He focused on the happily smiling face before him.
"Mewtwo," she said suddenly, "I personally find stars beautiful, and they're more than just up in the sky. Would you believe that apples hide stars in them?"
He smiled at her indulgently. "I know stars are beautiful, Madhea, but last I knew, they didn't grow in apples."
"I can prove it!" she asserted, her amethyst eyes sparkling happily.
She held the apple up between them in her little hands. It looked like a normal apple to him...large, lush, true, due to Purity Spring's water...but there didn't seem to be anything supernatural about it.
Madhea's eyes glowed ice-blue for a moment as she sharpened her psychic powers into a single cutting blade; Psycho Cut. The sharp force drove straight through the center of the apple, slicing it neatly in two, top half and bottom half.
She pulled the two halves apart and upended the top half to show him.
The black seeds in the middle all pointed straight outwards, five points, stark against the sweet, tart white inner flesh of the fruit.
Five points, just like a star.
So that is what she meant...
Slowly his gaze shifted from the fruit to the large amethyst eyes beyond it, and Madhea's expression turned into pure joy when she read in his own wonder-filled eyes that he understood.
"Madhea...you're very wise," was all he could say aloud.
She giggled for a moment before pushing the top half into his hand, at the same time leaning forward, kissing him gently on the cheek before floating out of his grasp and moving away.
"Is that typical?" Anji asked in a whisper, even as he'd seen Bulbasaur walk off.
"For Squirtle, it isn't. Something has been bothering him, but I can't make them tell me their problems. That is their own choice to make," she answered low.
Madhea had wandered off in Mewtwo's direction, the apple in her hands, and Sharie deliberately led Anji in the opposite direction. Madhea had clearly sensed Mewtwo was brooding. Too much.
It came too strongly to the pokemon who'd known only pain, from a life of being used and betrayed.
She'd known then how just recently the first instant of pure joy he'd ever felt...it'd been almost a sensory shock to him.
I don't think I did, either. I didn't understand it until Iooked into her eyes. Until then I knew that before then, how long ago and how little I'd ever known true happiness, not since...not except for...her. I didn't understand the power of an all-encompassing love, either.
Only now can I know that Madhea's been the only real happiness I'd ever felt...except...oh, Amber!
Fortunately, Anji had bent down just then, to pick up his little Eevee, dancing at his heels, which gave her enough time to quickly mask her emotions.
Amber had been the sole true exeption to...all that pain.
Firmly Sharie put it away from her even as he stood back up, his happily wiggling pokemon yipping and licking his cheek affectionately.
Him, too, I think. In many ways.
"Anji," she asked suddenly. "Has your life been a happy one, or unhappy?"
"What?" he appeared startled, before seeing in her eyes that she was serious. His Eevee snuggled against him happily, and he looked up to see part of his Eeveeloution team trailing in their direction.
"These guys are my happiness."
"Eh-whe!" Eevee agreed.
"I ain't seen other humans in weeks," he admitted readily. "And I don't know why, but as I pushed further into Johto, and further from people...the less I cared. Is that weird?"
Eevee gave a sudden yip in Sharie's direction, and she hopped into her arms when she held them out.
"No. You said you traveled with a purpose, even if you didn't know what it really was."
"You're the first human I've seen in ages. And I feel that's enough! Me with my Master's ranking and I suddenly don't even care. I've got my legs back. I don't know what to do next with myself," he admitted.
"Mewtwo will probably not say no if you stayed for a day or so to figure that out," she suggested.
"Uh...I was going to ask that," he admitted sheepishly. "Not for me. My team is spiritually tired, and this is a beautiful spot. If I were to ask for such a thing, it'd be for their sake."
She rather admired how he didn't admit it was for him, too. At least not openly. She touched her nose to the little Eevee in her arms. "I don't see the harm in it. But that is up to him."
Anji was about to say what good it'd do any of them though if their memories were erased, but he was prevented from doing so by the sounds of fighting. Not just arguing, but an outright battle.
"Vul! Vulpix vul!"
Both humans turned and stared in horror at Vulpix blasting Squirtle with Flame Wheel, which he jumped, dodged, and sent Bubblebeam blasting into her face.
The water attack hit the fire fox pokemon head-on, and she collapsed without a sound.
The look on Squirtle's face, even before Mewtwo got over his shock and before Sharie came over at a dead run, said he realized he had crossed the line this time.
She caught a quick glimpse of his face even as she lifted Vulpix's limp form, and it was written all over him-shock and regret.
Mewtwo was there by now, and she looked directly into his eyes without saying a word.
Did he realize more was probably going on here than what it looked like? she wondered briefly.
He must have, for he closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them, nodding at her unspoken plea, and remained silent.
Before she stood up, she looked into Squirtle's terrified, regretful face.
"For now, will you help me care for her?" she asked quietly.
He swallowed back his tears and nodded. "Squirt."
"Okay. Come on." She led them both to the nearby spring, laying Vulpix's limp body down beside it. She held her hand over the small form and summoned psychic energy, which she tinged with fire-typed energy, holding it over the pokemon's body.
"Would you bring me a little water from the spring?" she asked Squirtle.
He nodded and dug into her pack, coming up with a vial and filling it.
"Thank you," she said quietly, lowering her hand to pick up the still form once more. "Here. Pour a little into my hand."
He obeyed, pouring a few drops into her cupped palm, which she brought to Vulpix's muzzle.
Vulpix's nose sniffed, and without opening her eyes, her little tongue darted out, lapping the liquid.
"Good girl," Sharie murmured, repeating this action. Vulpix was not entirely unconscious anymore. The heat had partially revived her.
Finally Sharie asked Squirtle to hand her a bottle that contained sleeping medication. She sensed the healing spring waters restoring Vulpix to health, but as a precaution, she felt it wise to have the fox pokemon rest for a while.
Sharie settled the sleeping fox next to Ninetails, who nodded her head and promised to keep Vulpix warm, although she was fully healed now and was just sleeping.
"Thanks for doing that," she said, and the elegant pokemon tossed her head in acknowledgement as the human walked away.
She walked back to where Squirtle sat uncertainly, his brown eyes filled with trepidation.
With a sigh she sat beside him, drawing him onto her lap.
"I haven't wanted to make you tell me what's been bothering you, Squirtle," she said softly. "But when it comes to others getting hurt..."
"Squirtle," he said, looking so ashamed she didn't know how his emotions could sink any lower.
"She might be angry with you, but we'll bring her around," Sharie encouraged. "But for now, something has been eating at you. And getting worse the more you brood on it."
"Squirt. Squirtle squirtle."
The words astounded her.
"Sharie. Do you think I have the right to evolve?"
"Do you..." she repeated out loud. "Is that what this is about?"
Even as she said it, her fingers twitched imperceptibly on his shell. In that instant, she felt it; the vaguest undercurrents of restless energy in the young turtle pokemon. Not quite there yet; but rapidly approaching evolution soon.
"Squirtle...your body belongs to you, I'd think," she answered carefully. "I'd think that is up to you."
"Both Meowth and Bulbasaur refused!" he asserted. "I didn't go with you to find Bulbasaur, you know! I've been all set to evolve and yet..."
He trailed off and looked at both Meowth and Bulbasaur, who positively had their mouths open, shocked at what he said.
"They refused because they had their own reasons for not wanting to evolve," Sharie said simply.
"I want to evolve!"
Sharie, trying hard to follow all of this, tried to let the puzzle pieces fall together in her mind. As far as she could tell, Squirtle had been all set to evolve-at least, until Meowth and Bulbasaur's refusals planted serious doubts into his mind.
"Squirtle, your life and your worth have nothing to do with your being a clone," said Mewtwo seriously. "I thought we had all learned it that day. I have realized since, though, that some of us have borne the brunt of all of this more than others. What you do with your body is up to you."
"I wish you'd felt that way when you copied me from the original," Squirtle muttered.
"That is not now," asserted Mewtwo firmly. "Perhaps you couldn't understand what I saw that night. All of you, clones and originals alike, set aside all your differences. That power that emerged from all of you...what was different about it for you clones? Not a thing."
"Then why are we here?" Squirtle snapped. "If nothing so important about us is different, maybe we don't have to isolate ourselves here!"
Mewtwo blinked at the outburst.
"If anyone out there is ever going to care that we are clones, it'd just be humans and nobody else!"
"Which is the precise reason I chose this isolated place," answered Mewtwo. "To protect us all from those who'd actually care about the difference of clones from originals-us; copies, shadows. I've spent all this time questioning the worth of clones. Even I do not have a straight answer to give you, but when Team Rocket attacked this place, Pikachu was all for fighting, and I could not make myself stop him. Even then I was questioning what was more important. Your safety, or your freedom."
"Pika!" cried out the little yellow pokemon at Sharie's feet...and tears filled his brown eyes and trickled down his cheeks. "Pikachu! Pika!"
Sharie knelt down and let Pikachu hop up onto her shoulder. "You were a very angry little pokemon in my visions," she said quietly. "You felt it to your core, didn't you, Pikachu?"
He did. He had felt it even more because his cloning had been slightly imperfect, resulting in a vague slurring of his Pikachu speech, and his resentment of Ash's Pikachu and the freedom it enjoyed so readily, and resented how the original had a trainer who loved and cared for him with his whole being.
Mewtwo had noticed, lately, that Pikachu had calmed down quite a lot. The effect of having a lap to cuddle in and someone who readily gave him affection had made a startling difference, answering at least one of Pikachu's most desperate needs.
Mewtwo wondered if he really was doing his clones any good, keeping them all here, away from the world.
"But back to the bottom line...both Meowth and Bulbasaur had their own reasons for not wanting to evolve. I saw for myself that it made no difference to the other bulbasaur in their garden that Bulbasaur and Venusaur were clones. There was nothing in them that resonated any differently to nature than any original pokemon. I fail to see here why that should be any different with you, Squirtle. It is your choice whether or not to evolve, and when. Nobody here will ever force you to do it, nor not do it, clone or no clone."
"I've never forced any of my Eevee to evolve, or tried to make them evolve or not into what I wanted them to be," said Anji, not even realizing for himself just how clearly he was understanding everything at the moment. All of his Eeveeloutions were sitting in a group around his feet, listening and nodding their heads.
"Then why are they all different?" scoffed Squirtle, and Sharie blushed as she translated this.
The chorus of assertions from the whole group made her laugh quietly.
"It's just coincidence," said Anji, looking amused. "If three of them had wanted to become Flareon, well, I would have three Flareons in my group. Only this girl here," and he stroked the Eevee in his arms, "hasn't wanted to evolve at all. I certainly have never made her do it."
"And I didn't say I'd never. I haven't wanted to yet!"
Anji found he understood this as easily as if she'd been speaking human to him, and he smiled.
Squirtle blinked. Even Bulbasaur had come to realize for himself that the day might come when he'd change his mind.
"You see?" said Sharie gently. "I can find no reason in my mind that you cannot plan your own evolution as you see fit. If you want I'll take you topside and see if a little training triggers it. You're certainly simmering under the surface with evolution energy, because I can feel it."
"I'll help," Anji said, jerking his thumb at his Eevee party. "They wouldn't mind some limbering up."
"...and they really do want to help you," he finished.
Hope finally entered this doubtful Squirtle's eyes, and he finally nodded.
"I'll do it!"
He blanched, though, casting a sorrowful glance at the still-sleeping Vulpix across the way.
"Just apologize later; eventually she'll warm back up to you," said Sharie quietly. She didn't know what had caused their battle to begin with and supposed it didn't matter at the moment, either.
"Mew, what should I do about this?" asked Mewtwo resignedly, even after the group of pokemon wanting to be involved and been picked up and flown to the surface via Sharie's telekensis. "If some of my fellow clones truly want to find their own way...is it wrong of me to not let them? How many of them might want it so badly?"
He glanced at the large group of baby Nidoqueen and Rhyhorn milling around. "And these little ones...I'm not sure they shouldn't be sent out when the time is right to live their own lives. Maybe even..."
He didn't finish what Mew realized he almost said. ...Maybe even find good human trainers of their own. Until the day came that Mewtwo could learn to more readily trust more humans, those words would never be said.
Not out loud.
All Mew said was, "In the end, Mewtwo...that is something you and they all must decide, together. Pikachu was so frustrated and jealous for the freedom and love Ash's Pikachu has. But now he's learned the caring and affection of a human right here. It is up to all of you to make your own choices. I can't make them for any of you, the thrill of freedom versus the risk of falling into the wrong hands of those who'd realize you were clones, or worse, like Sharie, used for who she is and what she could contribute to a clone, but seldom loved in return for it. Just like a thing."
"Go, Vaporeon! Bubblebeam!" Anji directed his Vaporeon to attack the squirtle in the battle taking place in the great outdoors. He didn't know why he was enjoying this so thoroughly, but he was. Maybe it'd just been a long time...
The fierce jet of bubbles was enough to knock squirtle flying into the air...really high, and the bubbles numerous enough to let a sinking afternoon sun create a rainbow effect in the surrounding area of Mt. Quena's peak.
"Squirt! Squirtle!" Sharie blinked in surprise as, hovering several feet off the ground as she was, she clearly saw Squirtle pull in head, arms, and tail and begin whirling rapidly, spraying powerful jets of water through all the holes in his shell, and the momentum actually giving a medocium of leverage in the air.
"Sharie...uh...did Squirtle just learn Hydro Pump?" asked Madhea, floating beside her.
Sharie nodded, privately thrilled to see a display. "You can even out that spinning, Squirtle, and gain even greater leverage!" she called out. "Hover over Vaporeon and time it with Skull Bash!"
"Squirtle!" finding he had a natural ability for it, he moved to zero in on Vaporeon.
"Double Team, Vaporeon!"
Obediently Vaporeon upped his evasion, to the point of creating an illusion of copies of himself.
"Don't let that fool you, Squirtle! You have the same ability to sense water currents as Vaproeon! You know what feels like mist and what feels stronger!"
It was true. Even Anji couldn't adequately tell what Sharie meant by this right away, but Squirtle did. The real Vaporeon would have the strongest water current feel than any copied illusion, which struck his water pokemon senses as more of a misty rain feel.
He accurately zeroed in on the correct Vaporeon and dived so sharply he gained serious momentum, ceasing whirling and pulling out his head, hardening it just in time for a furious Skull Bash that knocked Vaporeon silly.
Squirtle came out of it landing neatly on his feet, while Anji rushed to his fallen Vaporeon...a pokemon he'd figured was several levels higher than squirtle's. But he had no way of telling for sure.
"Good job, Squirtle," Sharie came over, praising the little turtle Pokemon.
He turned and gave her a happy smile. "Squirtle!"
Suddenly his brown eyes opened wide. "Squirt..."
An obliterating whiteness covered all of his features and nearly blinded everyone for a split second. Sharie forced her eyes to remain open as she watched the white-light form begin to alter and grow in size and shape.
The full power of nature, right here, right now, even in this clone who thought it wasn't right even though he'd wanted it...
But his wish had been granted.
The figure grew, and the dainty curly tail grew into something longer, feathery in texture, and beautiful, even as the light faded.
His eyes widening in joy as he realized his wish had been granted, he flung himself at Sharie, who'd landed on the ground, while not considering the extra strength that usually came with evolution, hitting her with enough force to knock her onto her behind.
She didn't seem to mind, returning his happy hug even when he pulled away and blushed a bit guiltily.
"I'm not hurt," she assured him. "But you can't playfully tackle the baby pokemon anymore without risking that, so just be careful, ok?"
Anji had quietly revived his fallen Vaporeon, and now they both came over to where Wartortle and Sharie sat.
"Yes, congratulations," he said with a warm smile, neither upset over the loss. "You got your wish, and I'm happy for you, Wartortle."
"I've rarely lost and I thought I was a lot stronger than you," Vaporeon admitted. "But this was the right thing this time."
Vaporeon laughed and pounced on him playfully, knocking him backwards, sending the two of them into a mock battle, not really hitting or hurting each other.
Sharie watched this with a smile, and for a moment Anji stared at her.
"That's the first time today I've seen you look that serene," he remarked.
She looked at him in surprise, not realizing he'd been staring at her with such intensity. She blushed scarlet. "Does it matter?" She looked over at the happy pair, while Madhea slipped her fingers into her belt loop as she normally did. "I've been here long enough to know that with these pokemon...they certainly have their moments. Not all are bad ones for sure."
"Not all humans are bad, either," he said pointedly.
"I did not think you were," she answered.
"I was more talking about you," he said pointedly, which gained him a dirty look.
"I don't mean it in a bad way!" he said quickly, raising his hands defensively. "You just...don't have to carry the heavy burden you seem to carry. Not all the time."
She looked away. "Someone has to. Someone has to take responsibility when everyone else cannot. Someone has to walk in the shadows."
"I'm not entirely certain of the mindset in which you were raised, although I'm getting a good idea," he conceded. "But I'm wondering if all of you, locked away here, will ever be able to see enough of the world this way to maybe realize that what you think is rare...the goodness in people...isn't so rare after all."
"Believe me, there have been remarkably few that I've ever met!" she snapped.
"When it is bad scientists and evil teams running amok over your lives, I'd hardly think so," he conceded. "But it isn't that way everywhere, on every street, in every home. Unfortunately, it is there for those horrible people that go looking for it."
Anji closed his eyes for a long moment. "Sharie, are you ever in contact with your father and uncle?"
She opened her eyes, seeing Mewtwo right behind Anji even as he said it. "Why would you ask that?"
"Because something very odd was happening the few days I was around them a few months back. Their reputations seem to have preceded them. I didn't know if it was anything important at the time, but after what I've seen here today..." Anji glanced around him. "I'd be asking your old man about a land far away called Unova, a very secretive team called Team Plasma...and ask your father what he knows about the ancient, said to be extinct pokemon Genesect."
Her eyes filled with horror. "Why?"
"Because a representative was on your father and uncle's case repeatedly while I was there. He kept coming back, trying to get your folks to agree to help with cloning experiments for Plasma's cause. Your folks kept showing them the door, and the last time, was very rudely explicit when he told the guy to buzz off. Still, I think you're better off knowing what is going on. Who knows if a team like that...would come back."
A serious sickness crept into Sharie's soul at his words, and she felt her heart trying to encase itself in ice, wanting to protect itself from the reality of what his words could mean...