Sometimes… a curse can seem like a blessing. Other times, it's the other way around. What appears to be the opportunity of a lifetime is secretly the worst things that could ever happen to you.
Red remembered it all too vividly. He had won the Pokémon League and beaten his rival Blue, beating Blue's record for the youngest Champion of the Indigo League by a full two months. His rival was traveling again, trying to get stronger so he could have a rematch and take back his title, but Red wasn't concerned with that. He just wanted to rest and travel with his Pokémon to some interesting place. He had had enough battling for a while. If Blue turned up again, well, of course he'd win. With that in mind, Red turned over his title as Champion and set off for his next adventure – Johto.
He wasn't there to challenge the Gyms, so the whole trip around the region had been fairly uneventful up until that fateful day. He had gone and seen the Tin Tower and the Burnt Tower, as well as the Whirl Islands. Rare Pokémon were said to live around those areas, but none revealed themselves to him while he was there. He hadn't really expected them too, really – he had already seen Zapdos, Moltres, and Articuno, and that was more rare, powerful Pokémon than most people would see in their life. Still, the whole trip appeared to be a bust, until he first heard about the Ruins of Alph.
They were in the wilderness, out by Violet City. There were a bunch of strange markings on the walls of the ruins, and a huge underground chamber had been discovered recently. The strangest thing about the ruins, however, were the Pokémon that lived there. There were twenty-eight kinds, all resembling letters or punctuation marks. They appeared weak when alone, but when they all got together, the strange Pokémon would float together and arrange themselves into words. The whole thing quite puzzled the scientists that were working on-site. They weren't quite sure whether the Pokémon were actually trying to spell out words, or if they were simply drawn to form them by some greater force without understanding what they were doing.
That was where Red came in. The scientists knew about him, of course – the whole country did. Youngest Champion to ever beat Kanto and Johto's own League. He was considered to be one of the greatest trainers around, even if he did not really understand why. He had just beaten Blue, and he had been doing that for months. The whole thing had been rather sudden, and Red was hoping that when he got to Johto, he wouldn't be mobbed with fans wherever he went.
Well, there might not have been annoying swarms of fans everywhere, but the scientists more than made up for it.
"You're Red!" one of them shouted gleefully.
"You can help us! Come this way!" The two white coated men had grabbed Red right after he left Violet City for the second time and dragged him all the way to the ruins before he had a chance to protest. When he got there, a man with the strangest hair he had ever seen was waiting in the middle of the path, tapping his foot impatiently. His hair stuck out in something resembling a neatly trimmed hedge, if the hedge was a hideous shade of brown. Thankfully, the man was wearing a huge lab coat, preventing Red from seeing the clothing underneath, which, judging from his hair, were sure to be absolutely hideous.
"This is him?" the man inquired. The two scientists that had just dragged Red all the way here nodded their heads like mad. "Hm. Good enough." Without warning, the man grabbed Red's arm in his own and started to drag him towards one of the nearby buildings. It was old, and appeared to be made of clay; of course, it was so old that it was hard to tell.
"Do you know about the Unown, boy?" Red nodded his head in response. He was not much of a talker normally, and something about this man just took away all of the energy he could have put into talking in the first place. "Good. Well, you're good and powerful, so you're going to catch some of them for us. Catch all of them that you can find, okay?" Red did not respond. The man seemed to take this as his agreeing, so he shoved the boy into the dark opening of the ruins. "Good luck, boy! Don't come out until you're sure that you've caught at least forty of them!" With that said, he and the other scientists stood in the doorway, preventing the boy from leaving the room unless he jumped down into the huge hole in the middle of the room.
Sighing, he unclipped a Poké Ball from his waist and leapt into the darkness that awaited him below the ruins. The fall to the ground below took much longer than he had been anticipating, but something some awaited him below. Upon impact with the ground, Red instinctively threw the Ball in front of him, releasing a small Pokémon in a flash of light. His Pikachu gave a little squeak of surprise, then immediately used Flash. As soon as he found his trainer, he bounded over and demanded to be picked up. The fur on his back was sticking straight up in terror.
Red could see why. Hundreds of those Pokémon – the Unown – were floating around in the air, going about their business. Many of them were coming towards the two, probably wondering what the light was. The poor things had lived underground for so long, they probably weren't used to the light of day.
Red held out his hand to the gathered Pokémon. "It's okay," he told them soothingly. "I need a lot of you guys to come with me for a little bit. The scientists up there want to know how you can spell out words. After they're done testing you, I'm sure they'll let you go!"
A few of the Pokémon came near him. Red grabbed a Great Ball out of his bag and prepared to throw it at them, but as soon as they saw the device, their blank stares turned into angry glares. Six of them shuffled into position and told him exactly what they thought about that.
"Oh!" Red gasped, dropping the Ball straight away. This seemed to cheer the small Pokémon up. Their eyes went from angry to overjoyed.
F-R-I-E-N-D, they spelled out. R-E-D F-R-I-E-N-D
"Hey! You know my name!" Red could feel his heart beat faster. The tiny Pokémon were awfully scary, even if they were just a bunch of floating letters. "How are you doing this? You must know what you're spelling!"
The Unown spelled out another, strange word. A-R-C-E-U-S
"Arceus?" Red inquired. For some reason, that word made him even more fearful than the Unown spelling out his name. At least then, they were telling him that they liked him. Now, they were telling him some strange name. A name? Well, it had to be the name of something. He could just tell.
Pikachu shivered in his arms. He held the Electric-type closer. Pokémon had the ability to sense things long before people did, so the youth had a good idea of what was yet to come, even if he had not felt it himself yet.
R-E-D… the Unown started. I A-M A-R-C-E-U-S
A huge flurry of the Pokémon came next, like a swarm of Beedrill attracted to fruit. They started to spell things out at a rapid pace, like a novel being written in midair.
I CREATED THIS WORLD. I AM MASTER OF MEN. I HAVE BEEN WATCHING YOU, HUMAN BOY, AT THE REQUEST OF MEW. MEW IS MY PARTNER, THE OVERSEER OF POKÉMON. SHE SEES SOMETHING IN YOU…
A powerful wind began to pick up in the cavern. Pikachu squealed as clouds of dust began to pick up and fly around the room. Red shielded the Pokémon's face from the vicious winds, but kept his own eyes unguarded in order to see the words that were appearing in front of him.
YOU ARE KIND TO POKÉMON AND ARE WISE IN THEIR WAYS. DESPITE THIS, YOU LACK AN UNDERSTANDING OF THEIR WORDS, AS ALL HUMANS DO…
A circle of blinding pink light appeared on the ground in front of Red's feet. He swore that he could hear giggling coming from it. The dust clouds settled, and the Unown looked at Red with a pointed gaze as they continued to spell out the words of this strange, unknown being.
STEP INTO THIS PORTAL AND BE GRANTED THE POWER OF POKÉMON… BUT ONCE YOU DO THERE IS NO GOING BACK.
With those words, the Unown got out of position and continued to stare at Red with their creepy eyes. The boy cautiously set Pikachu down on the ground, his own eyes fixated on the glowing portal in front of him. Pikachu gave a few squeaks of confusion and looked up at Red with dewy eyes. He seemed to be asking his trainer if he knew what he was getting himself into, but Red wasn't really sure. The things that the Unown had told him were true – he had no way to speak to his Pokémon as it were right now. If he could understand them…
No! It was insane. He couldn't go back, the letters had told him. He was going to get out and leave this place. He could find the way back to the upper levels of the ruins, and then…
"So, boy! How's it coming along?" The voice of the head scientist echoed through the ruins, slicing the tense and almost mystical air that had previously been there. Red did not bother answering back; an idea had just occurred to him. The scientists would almost certainly chase him around until he caught the Unown, but there was no way that the little Pokémon would allow themselves to be caught. Maybe if he were to go through the portal, he would end up in a different place, and then the scientists wouldn't be a problem…
The pink light beckoned him…
Hey, it couldn't hurt, right?
After that day, Red was never seen by the eyes of another person until several years later, when one young boy ventured up to the top of Mt. Silver, not sure of what he would find there. Gold was shocked to find another person at the inhospitable place – and not only was it another person, it was a kid as young as himself, and wearing only a thin jacket to boot.
"Hey!" he called out. The other boy did not respond. "Who are you? Look at me!"
The boy's gaze had remained stubbornly aimed at his feet.
Gold started to approach the other boy. "Are you a ghost?" he asked. "Or are you just a trainer? You couldn't have gotten lost; you can just climb back down the same way that you came in!" He took another step closer. The other boy's head whipped up in a mixture of surprise and terror. Gold yelped and jumped backwards, unclipping his Typhlosion's Poké Ball from his belt and holding it in front of his face protectively.
The other boy looked to be about fourteen years old, and quite obviously a trainer – there were a bunch of Poké Balls around his waist as well. His eyes, however, were a deep crimson, the sort of color only seen in the eyes of Pokémon. Even though a cool breeze was rushing across the mountaintop, the boy did not seem to feel the cold. A shudder went through his body, but that seemed to be because of the sudden appearance of this new, unwelcome visitor. He opened his mouth as if to speak, but no noise came out.
"What are you?" Gold gasped.
The other boy made a strange sound and pulled off one of the Poké Balls on his belt. It took a few minutes for Gold to realize that he was crying.
Gold wasn't sure how the battle began. They both sent out their first Pokémon at the same time, and from there on, it was just a blur of events. Gold's Pokémon all lost quickly, as quickly as their opponents usually lost to them. When the battle ended, Gold clambered onto his Pidgeot's back without a word. He started to ask the other boy if he needed a lift down to the Pokémon Center to heal his Pokémon, but when he looked up, the boy was already gone. No footprints were to be found, nor any sign that a boy had once stood there.
Gold swore that he had seen a ghost on the top of the mountain. Back in Pallet Town though, Blue had a different notion. It could just be that he was seeing things, of course – but one night in the middle of the summer, he swore that he saw a figure walk into his grandfather's lab. Worried that it could be a thief, he grabbed his Pokémon and snuck in after the intruder.
When he got there, however, there were merely a few opened Poké Balls on a nearby desk. Blue recognized them – they were all Red's. In an adjacent room, there were the sounds of many Pokémon growling, barking, or however they communicated. Blue could recognize all of the cries, save one. They all appeared to be talking to the strange one…
Blue hid himself next to a cabinet and waited for a long while. After about a half hour, a bunch of Pokémon walked out of the room. They were accompanied by a human figure who appeared to be a boy in his late teens. The boy's face was hidden, but there was no mistaking that hat…
Red recalled all of his Pokémon to their Balls and then lovingly placed them back on the shelf where they were stored. He looked at each one with a sad gaze, as though unsure of whether or not he would ever see them again. When the last one was placed back where it belonged, Red turned away from the shelf and started towards the door. He was nearly there when all of a sudden, his ears twitched and swiveled towards the exact spot where Blue was hiding. Blue felt his heart beat faster as his old rival looked towards the spot.
His eyes were crimson, and seemed to glow in the dark.
"B…blue…?" he asked. He seemed to have trouble forming the words. "D…do…n't… tell… any…one…"
The next day, Blue could find no signs of his rival inside the lab, or anywhere around town for that matter. It wasn't until he went back to his gym that he found anything. Taped to the back wall, behind the place where Blue would stand waiting for challengers, was a huge envelope. When he opened the stiff yellow paper and shook the contents out onto a table, his heart dropped.
Red's Pokédex bleeped on just like normal, but there was something that sent shivers down Blue's spine. At the very top of the Pokédex was, quite simply, a message that rarely appeared on anyone's Pokédex unless they had just come across an incredibly rare Pokémon.
DATA FOR THIS POKÉMON DOES NOT EXIST. THIS MAY BE A NEW, UNDISCOVERED SPECIES. ALL KNOWN INFORMATION WILL BE RECORDED AND A NOTIFICATION WILL BE SENT TO PROFESSOR OAK.
There were only two bits of data filled in. One was the data for height and weight, which matched Red's exactly. The other was the information on where it was found – the Ruins of Alph.