With so much of the earth in ruin and Mt. Moon more thoroughly destroyed than anywhere else, it seemed only natural to set down there. The decision was made easier by the fact that there was no enemy anywhere left to fight. With the exception of a few private citizens turned raider for survival, the danger to the world had passed.
Of course, the news was not all good. A handful of the so-called safe cities had fallen before the Exarchs, though far more significant in terms of death-toll was the destruction of the twelve extra-orbital worldships, lost with all hands at point L2 relative to the earth and the sun. Even more than a month after hostilities were over there were no conclusive reports about casualties, though most estimates put the number somewhere between .7 -1.4 Billion humans, and ten times as many pokemon. Those numbers also did not count all those taken in mind alone to lunar storage, whose bodies were clinically dead and who would remain in storage until there was a way to revive them and (more importantly) a way to feed and supply them.
There were seven surviving worldships in all, three of which had been there for the final siege but several more that had fought to defend their assignments (usually the cities that had built them and provided crews) to the very end. Over the coming months, these few worldships and the small number of civilized pockets that had survived would become beacons of civilization in a world whose infrastructure had almost completely collapsed. It was fortunate the worldships had been designed with this specific purpose in mind, though doubtless many were already growing tired of the reconstituted algae that made for much of the diet.
For most that were transformed either partly or completely as part of the soulphage inoculation program, there was no way yet to be changed back, and patience was the only option. The custom-engineered retrovirus caused dangerous complications when used more than once on the same individual, though it was estimated that in a decade or so there would be options available. For at least one transformed individual though, special provisions were made.
In Logan's mind, getting enough resources together to transform Samantha back into the human she had been was small repayment for the loss her twin, but it was the only thing of any substance they had to give her.
It was Logan who performed the procedure, a few days after the Worldships had been securely landed and the dangerous singularities that had previously powered them artificially collapsed. Samantha was alone in a set of empty quarters when Logan came to her, along with Lumine that had been brought up as Samantha's request. She stood back and waited for the pair to embrace, and kept her distance as the squirrel jumped around in agitation, shocking things as she learned of Adam's death.
She calmed down, eventually, to Logan's great relief, and only then did she advance, holding the backpack filled with the other things Samantha had requested. "Are you ready, Sam?" Logan asked, gently shutting the door behind her as she entered. "I practiced all morning: I don't think I'm going to get much better." She was pleasantly surprised with how skilled she had become since the day the Eldest had himself transformed her. Of course she wasn't going to be doing anything so complicated for Samantha. Humans were, biologically, much simpler creatures, with bodies much more forgiving of minor miscalculations that would have killed a mew.
She didn't intend to make any though, and had brought along a sizeable chunk of moonstone to amplify her own abilities and be sure that nothing went wrong, close to her neck on a little gold chain. "I've been ready for a month, Logan." Answered the Plusle, sitting down on the edge of the cot with her little legs hanging off.
Logan set the backpack down on the floor, sitting down beside her. "Yes, I guess you have. But these things take time. The planet can't be cleaned-up overnight, and there's no telling how much danger you might be in if you go too far. You know there aren't that many gyms still running, right? And many of the towns and remote pokemon centers are empty, and…"
Sam's cheeks sparked, silencing her. "Yeah, I know all of that." She sighed. "But that doesn't change what I want to do."
Logan reached out, stroking her head as gently as she could. "You sure you won't reconsider? I have a friend in the technical department who could really use someone with your level of computer skills."
"Adam's computer skills" She interrupted. " That was never my life… I'm just the copy. None of my memories are real… even if any of Adam's friends and family survived, none of them will know me. I'm a stranger and I wasn't even born." She shook her head, standing back up. "Look, could you just change me back? I can handle the other details myself."
The currently-human mew nodded reluctantly, standing again. "Alright Sam. I just hope you know what you're doing." Logan removed the moonstone from her neck, closing her eyes as she focused on it. The thing began glowing faintly blue in her hands, not unlike its perfect cousin had done a month ago. Logan had been preparing for this moment… she was not the Eldest, with powers enough to easily create a body for another from nothing. But she had Adam's human genetics on file, so all she really had to do was adjust the length of the junk DNA for the age Samantha had specified and account for the fact that the Plusle was of course, female. "One last time, just to make sure I got it right. Completely human, you don't want any pokemon features. Female, about age sixteen. Now are you really sure about this? Most people won't ever get a chance to change details like this about themselves, and I know you were male before your transformation…"
"Adam was male." The pokemon corrected. "Not me. I'm his clone. Maybe you could use your magic to make me like him, but that's not what I want. I'm not gonna try to copy him. I wanted to be him once, when we first changed, but I don't want that anymore. I want to be myself… not a second-rate copy. I have to focus on the things that make me different from him, and that's one of the easiest. Even if I… don't know anything about it…" She trailed off, looking nervously at her feet. Even as she stood there, Lumine darted up to her, licking at her side. She tried to ignore it. "Please… all of that's right. Was there anything else?"
Logan went over a few other biological details, explaining that it might take several days before she felt normal in a new body, especially since this was not one she remembered using before. And of course there was the matter of Logan being entirely unsure of how old she /really/ was, on account of her creation being entirely unique. Had the burden of years been split between Adams? Copied, or was she created like a newborn? As such, she could not tell Samantha if she would live a normal life from the age she had specified or simply drop dead in her prime from unknowable genetic complications.
"Alright then, Samantha. Just… close your eyes. I've never done this to somebody without the Eldest's help before." She tried to sound confident, but… wasn't sure how well she managed to come across as such when she didn't feel it.
Sam lept down onto the ground then did as Logan had said, squeezing her eyes tightly shut. The first thing she felt was the warmth in the tips of her paws, spreading up her body. Her body seemed humanoid enough when she stood on her hindpaws, and that was what she did as the transformation began to take effect. She rose rapidly, the air rushing past her fur as she grew larger. There was no pain, only warmth that grew more intense as it spread. She felt as her insides gradually moved upward with the new bodily structure, her ribs closing around them as they became more compact horizontally but stretched vertically.
She kept her eyes squeezed tightly shut, but even without looking she could feel her fur falling out in huge clumps now, replaced by smooth skin that had never seen direct sunlight before. Her ears had always been both gigantic and quite sensitive, but the rumble of distant reactors gradually faded as her they sunk down almost completely. It was about then that Sam began to panic… whatever her memories might say, the only experiences that felt real had begun the moment she was an animal… being a pokemon was the only life she knew. Being so big, so naked, so vulnerable… it was wrong! What if she didn't know how to talk when she was human? Would they lock her away like someone insane?
Samantha whimpered, and what was left of her electrical energy dispersed in wide arcs, soaring through the air and nearly into Logan, who had to dodge out of the way. Lumine intercepted much of it harmlessly, and the rest didn't do any major harm. Still, Logan remained safely further away as Sam's limbs (legs especially) stretched in proportion to the rest of her body, lifting her even taller. Her hindpaws became simian and clumsy even as her forepaws, a pair of dainty feet that was swiftly matched by her hands, small but otherwise totally ordinary. Her hair grew long, gradually lengthening as it fell past her shoulders, soft yellow streaked with an unnatural but unmistakably biological crimson pigment. Hair was what Logan might call her own personal weakness… she hadn't even bothered considering what Adam's hair-color had been. The weight that developed on Sam's chest was unexpected too, from both her pokemon memories and her human ones, though she was young enough that it wasn't as big a deal as it might've been.
With the heat fading, she was very done, and very cold. But Logan had thought of that of course, and the mew tossed the contents of the backpack to her piece by piece, starting with the underclothes. Those she needed a little help with, but the rest was simple enough. When she was done, Samantha looked exactly as one might expect a young pokemon trainer to look: all short skirts and pastels and pokeball logos. As for her pokemon… she scooped Lumine into her arms, unphased by the energy that briefly coursed through her.
Logan watched with a smile, amazed at the speed Samantha was adjusting. Maybe the girl had been sure about her future after all. She sure looked like a trainer, once she had shown her how to braid her hair. She even acted like one, playing with Lumine in their room. As she left, she handed Samantha the moonstone on the chain, managing to keep the tears from her eyes. "I'm sorry for the way we all used you two." She had said. "If you ever need anything else, you get in contact with me. I know people." Then she was gone, down the hall and out of Samantha's life. Logan had never known her, never known her brother, but she had a feeling the both of them had more than enough legendary influence in their lives. So what if she thought it was crazy to try and be a pokemon trainer on a world that had just been ravaged by a war with the abyss? So what if pokemon were scarce, and trainers scarcer? That wasn't her business. If nothing else, Samantha had her own life now. Let her discover that for herself.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
There was one specific matter with which Logan herself had quite a great deal of involvement, though: What to do with Pokelantis. It had been obvious before Also's death. As promised, she would take possession of the platform to do with as she wished. Logan had no idea what that might be, but didn't doubt that Also would have found a use for it. With her surviving oblates, she didn't much care what was done with it so long as it remained in the hands of those wise enough to understand the danger of working with a facility that produced antimatter. David's gate would eventually go into storage along with the Arceus gem, despite all of Alvin's objections that the two of them be tossed into the sun and forgotten. The Lens was returned to the tree of Beginning, for all the good it did anyone now that its sole occupant was dead.
What troubled Logan was the way Also's staff insisted on taking Pokelantis back despite there being no Also left to claim it. She was more than a little uneasy with those people having access to technology that they did not, could not, understand. But what could she say to deny them?
The solution came in a form even Logan had not expected. It was one of her more dreadful days, in this case spent waiting in the morgue to personally deliver Also's ashes to the representative her government was sending to collect them. She was dressed in a real uniform, spaghetti and all, tapping her fingers impatiently on the tabletop. As usual with these people, she was kept waiting for hours, hours she could have much better spent elsewhere. But in a matter like this, when she felt at least partly responsible for Also's death, she wasn't going to insult them and give this task to someone else. Depending on how the votes went, this person's boss might be ending up with pokelantis, and so they'd be seeing plenty of each other in the years to come.
Logan's mouth opened gaping when she saw just whom they had sent, striding elegantly through the door. The woman was exactly as Logan remembered her, right down to the clips in her hair and the markings on her uniform. Perhaps it was the exact same uniform, recovered from her staff at some unspecified time. Predictably for someone who had just come back from the dead, she looked quite smug at Logan's expression.
"No wonder they picked your friend over you for the new Eldest." She said, stopping in the threshold and waiting for Logan to collect herself enough to respond. Naturally, she interrupted her right before she had brought together enough of her wits to speak. "I suppose you'll want me to explain." It was not a question. "You are too young to really understand. What is important is that the body is merely an avatar for the mind. Mankind has learned that lesson well of late, with so many willingly changed into something else to avoid the soulphage, or fled into artificial hibernation to avoid the dangers of war. For some few, the death of one body is a only a minor inconvenience." She extended her hand expectantly. "I'll be wanting my ashes. Oh, and my ship. I want that too."
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Alvin did not posess the mew gifts of teleportation or invisibility, but it seemed that over the next few months he developed some non-supernatural equivalent. He made an art of avoiding the people and pokemon that came looking for him. One particular individual he avoided most of all, though David seemed far less determined to seek him out than some of the others. Still there was no way he could not attend this final gathering of the legendaries. He knew many of the bigger, more territorial creatures had already scattered, that nobody would notice if he just vanished like so many others.
The meeting was mostly for mew anyways, and their species would be one of three completely represented there (assuming Alvin attended). It wasn't even curiosity over the identity of the new eldest that made him come, as he knew exactly who it would be. He had rehearsed the words of the formalities over and over, though Izzy made it quite clear she didn't give a damn if the new Eldest approved their relationship or not. The idea of asking permission to court one of the Eldest's subjects amused Alvin quite a bit, considering how well he knew the Eldest before His promotion. How much would being steward of the planet have changed him?
The day arrived, and as he knew it would, the meeting was held physically in the Arboretum of the Joshua. There were no other pokemon there, all returned to the wild or transferred to other ships, depending on whether they had implants or not. The ceiling was still in ruin, though the ground had been repaired and the trees replanted. The day scheduled for the meeting was the first sunny one after several stormy ones, and with the sod so fresh the ground was thick with mud. Still Alvin found the smell and feel of growing things his only consolation in this sea of metal that held him like a trap, making him feel more and more confined every passing day. There was no table, and David's gate acting as its stand-in for their discussion hardly helped calm him. There were no chairs either, for there would be no humans in attendance. Alvin was thankful for that at least, as completely stupid as it was to think about. The more time passed the more people made him nervous, though thankfully he had little to do that involved them. He floated in beside Izzy and found somewhere to sit high up in one of the newly planted trees, though arriving early didn't really help with the stares once others started arriving.
The Eldest arrived exactly on time, with all the precision of a computer program. He flew in proudly enough, though clearly lacking the brazen confidence of his predecessor. Still, he was bigger than most of the assembled pokemon, and bore a scent of dangerous power like a gun yet to be fired. But Alvin was not afraid of him, no more than he had been when he had first gained access to this former program as part of his research grant decades and decades ago.
"The rumors are true." Were the new Eldest's first words, hovering vertically in the air in the center of the room, settling down gently on David's gate. "Mewtwo and Sabrina both declined taking the office, and so did Also. That means you're all stuck with me."
"As it should be." Mewtwo said, leaning confidently against a nearby tree. "It is not fitting for me to fill an office meant for your kind. I have responsibility over enough pokemon." A handful of those were Mew, flying near him or sitting by his feet. This didn't seem to bother this Eldest as it bothered the last, who seemed almost totally unphased by his presence. Even Logan seemed more relaxed, not avoiding contact with her daughter's eyes the way she had at the previous meeting. Not that Alvin had been there.
Many of the pokemon here were… haggard, though the few months since conflict ended had softened that a great deal. They weren't shrunken and protein-starved the way many humans looked these days, since they had powers of their own for getting food and didn't have to depend on a state-sponsored budget of algae and reconstituted protein while everybody waited for the first harvests.
"I thought Also was dead." Piped up Marilyn, one of the only still-living Shaymin. Her brother Richard was at her side, the only non-legendary in the room, having apparently evolved since Alvin last met him and seeming fairly content to remain as a Lucario. Alvin felt awful for Shaymin, their numbers decimated between the loss of the main fleet and the last battle with the exarchs. Could they recover with so few? Alvin could only hope so… or else he might have to get personally involved in finding them a few willing individuals from the past…
"Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated." Someone said from one edge of the room, a flash of blue fur in the little lake of pink around her. She was smiling at Marilyn though, thoroughly amused. "Unless you think Atlantis flew off on its own." Her humor faded, her face showing a little of its great age. "Like Mewtwo, I have my own obligations."
The Eldest waited to be sure nobody had anything else to say before he spoke. All eyes seemed to be on David though, and after a moment, that mew spoke up, looking somewhat reserved. That was when Alvin averted his eyes, though he couldn't block out the words. "I am not ready. Too much of this is my fault. I'm not fit to lead anyone."
Alvin did not have to ask what David's failures were. He wouldn't be here if it hadn't been for David's arrogance with her own powers. Her hubris. Though he suspected that Terah had something to do with his creation as much as David. Surely he had been watching, as the Eldest watched all things. Terah could have corrected whatever mistake David made in sending him to the future.
He also wondered why David had sent him to the future as a trainer, though… maybe he didn't. Not after his conversation with Terah. There had been more talk over what had made Alvin into a Celebi than he felt comfortable with. Even then Terah had been a master telepath, and Alvin wondered how many times she had heard the truth in his head even when he obfuscated or told an outright lie. Alvin had dropped many of the questions he had for David once he figured their answers on his own. Why had David made him look younger? It was no accident that he'd stopped jumping through time when his age roughly matched Izzy's, and no accident she'd seen him as an exciting trainer to be looked up to and admired instead of a strange old man to be feared.
Still, there was one question he had to have answered, and asking now would mean that David would be forced to answer, what with everyone watching them. "Why?" He lifted off the tree, floating down a little so everybody would see him. There were many eyes on him. Before he could say anything, Logan's little daughter Jamie had floated up to him, sniffing at him wide-eyed and eager. She had the grace not to interrupt his remarks in front of everyone, though she did speak privately to him.
'You're a Celebi!' She said, circling Alvin. It seemed she had been one of the few not to notice him as she came in. 'That's awesome! Mom said she knew about one but she never let me meet you.' Before she could say anything else, her sister followed her into the air, staring with almost as much childish interest at Alvin but not being nearly as brazé about it.
"Leave it alone, Jamie. It was about to talk… sorry." The older mew turned its eyes to Alvin as she said that last, too nervous to actually meet his eyes directly but looking at his little feet confidently enough, before turning to drag her sister back to the ground beside Logan.
"What was my purpose in all of this, David? What were your plans for me that you needed to send me away from the people I loved?" It was hardly the time for such a private discussion, but Alvin knew this might be his only chance. Once this meeting was over…
David did not flinch or hide, as a younger pokemon might have done, floating defiantly and just barely managing not to meet his eyes. "I sent you to the future at the Eldest's request. Terah was the one who thought it was necessary, not me. At the time I didn't believe what he said about the coming dangers, but I did trust his judgment enough to do what he said." Then privately, using the same technique Jamie had 'I hope we can still be friends, Alvin. We were so close in another life, maybe we can be in this one too.' That was all. The mew floated back down, and Alvin returned to his perch in the tree, though many eyes remained on both of them until the new Eldest spoke up.
"That leaves me, then." He said, looking as though he would've preferred it didn't. "As Eldest of the Firstborn, I will do my best to protect all of you. With your help, I will rebuild what the Exarchs tore down, and repair what they damaged. Each has their role in this intricate system of ours. Shaymin will purify the air, and Suicune the water. Manaphy will shepherd a new generation of fish. We can replant the trees and rebuild the cities, more in harmony with all the life on earth." He paused then, tail curling about one of his hindpaws in obvious reluctance to go on. He did, though. "All our history is known to me now. Never has there ever been an Eldest that was not born as a mew. We… not just mew, all legendaries… have been recruiting humans and lesser pokemon to our numbers for thousands of years, but these recruits have never been considered true brothers and sisters. It is my wish that as your Eldest I will prove that we can be, no matter the method of our birth." He inclined his head slightly to Mewtwo at that, who seemed pleased by the remarks.
Most everyone seemed pleased by what he said, as several of the mew began chanting, lead by Logan. "Horray for Eldest Bit! Eldest Bit! Eldest Bit!" So many had died during the few days of actual war that Celeste was the oldest ordinary mew in attendance aside from Bit himself. That meant there were no surviving mew that had no ties to humanity or other pokemon, either through personal birth or through a parent one parent.
It was Celeste that offered the customary words of acceptance on behalf of the assembled pokemon, acknowledging Bit in her stewardship over them and pledging to obey his commands in the protection and furthering of earth and it's people. That was it for most of the formalities. Alvin listened with barely-restrained disinterest as the minutes stretched into hours, waiting until he had a chance to speak. Everyone had business to bring to the Eldest's attention, usually asking for his advice. There was none of the political posturing that many of the older generation would have expected from a meeting like this, should they have been alive. It was no small wonder why, what with half of the mew kittens and so many of the other legendaries in attendance former humans themselves. Bit was making it her personal priority to find a way to restore those humans that had given themselves into lunar storage, delegating the duties of food and water and the like to others. Alvin was quite happy about this, particularly when he learned about a handful of his own family members waiting up there even now. She was also making the resurrection of the many SAM units that had been activated during war of upmost importance. If Alvin had known about Glowworm, he doubtless would have thought her pleased with this outcome, even if she was no longer around to be a part of it herself.
Thinking about his family made him sad though, so he tried not to, waiting patient for his turn to speak and flying forward before Bit to do so when that time came. Unlike a mew, he did not have a mathematically perfect brain incapable of misplacing information, and the nervousness of being on display in front of everyone caused him to forget the words he'd practiced right when the time came. So he floated there silently for a moment, before forcing himself to mutter. "I was wondering if I… could maybe… be together with Izzy? I know she's yours and everything, but she feels the same way, and…"
A few decades ago there might have been angry shouting or at least scathing glances about a request like this, but now there were only a few giggles. Alvin was glad he couldn't see Izzy's face, he didn't want to know what she might be thinking after making a fool of himself like that.
But this Eldest was not the last one, and was neither adversarial nor territorial about it. "So you do. I know she feels the same way." He bared his teeth a moment. "If you hurt her, I'll eat you." Then he relaxed. "What did you think I was going to say, Alvin? You two do whatever you want that makes you happy." There was a little nervousness in his voice, almost regret for giving permission, as he cautioned. "Just stay safe. Not every Eldest in history would be so allowing."
Alvin's antennae drooped as he flew back to the tree, sitting down beside Izzy. Yep, Bit was an Eldest. Just like everyone to hold the office before him, he somehow managed to know what people were planning before they did.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
But for Logan, Bit's future as the Eldest had never been much of a mystery. Far more troubling had been Jamie's fate, and the way she had been completely powerless to help her. It had been some small comfort that Also was having a similar problem with those she transformed… at least she didn't have to feel guilty about not having the power or whatever: It was clearly much deeper than that.
But now Jamie was cured, thanks to several pokemon that weren't her. She didn't feel guilty about not being the one to save the little mew so much as she was afraid for what might have happened if it weren't for these others. Jamie came to her apologizing the night after the fighting was over and they were curling up to sleep together for the first time in ages, safe in the shelter of some tree in one of those rare regions that had not been touched. Miya was away looking for fresh berries, which is why Logan suspected Jamie had chosen that exact moment. 'Uh, m-Logan? Can I… can we talk about something for a bit?' She had asked, landing on Logan's belly and looking down seriously at her. 'Just for a minute…'
Logan hadn't been too surprised, what with how agitated Jamie had been feeling. But then they had all had pretty mixed feelings following what happened, and she hadn't thought much of it at the time. 'I just wanted to say I'm sorry. For being a lousy daughter, and not a very good mew either.' She looked sincerely apologetic, which was not something Logan often observed about her. Normally saying sorry had always been something she did to get the tension off her for something she did wrong, so that she could go right back to doing it the instant you looked away. Her resolve was even more impressive. 'I'll do much better from now on, I promise.' It said a great deal that she was taking the trouble to use telepathy to tell her, and Logan knew how hard telepathy had been for Jamie.
Logan wasn't sure what to say, so for a moment she just leaned up and licked the little mew affectionately, as she had done many times before. Jamie did feel bigger on her lap than she had been, the first time Jamie's growth had ever been more than painfully gradual. Like all mew, Jamie grew with her knowledge and experience, and normally she had learned dismally slow. That Jamie felt substantially bigger meant her understanding had grown proportionally, and Logan was proud of her for that. She had always hoped for the little pokemon, ever since a freak accident had transformed her defenseless and weak, but rarely were there any physical signs confirming that her beliefs were based on anything more than Logan's unwillingness to let another die like her firstborn.
"I'm glad to hear it Jamie, but you can relax." Logan eventually said. "You don't need to stress yourself out or anything. I'm glad to hear you want to work harder. You should relax… you've been a fine daughter. You brought the cure to me, remember? That saved an awful lot of lives."
Jamie did relax, like someone sucking in his or her gut finally letting it out. She looked much happier not to be pressured into using telepathy. "But… but it was my fault I was infected, Logan! I was the one who wasn't strong enough to keep them out."
"Maybe not." Logan agreed, righting herself and forcing Jamie to either lift off and fly or get flung into open air. Naturally the kitten elected to fly. "But you had the strength to fight them off in the end. I think that means you're a perfect fit to be a legendary." Jamie seemed about to speak, perhaps to argue against herself. Logan silenced her by changing her into an Igglybuff.
Jamie whimpered and squirmed as she started to fall, though Logan caught her quickly and lowered her gently to the ground, landing beside her. "You're gonna be a great little mew someday. I bet you've stopped thinking like a kitten… I can tell. You're bigger… and I think you've finally started considering your future."
Jamie turned, nodding proudly towards Logan. "Yep! I sure do!"
"Really?" The older feline inclined her head, curious. "And what would that be, Little Jamie? Why don't you tell me some of your big plans."
The pokemon did not hesitate in her answer, looking just as proud as ever. "I wanna join the space program!"
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Tayla was sure she hadn't been spotted as she zipped out of the treehouse, following the trunk of a huge sequoia down to earth so that she stayed unseen. Of course she knew her father would still be asleep: He never woke up before the sun. And if Izzy was awake… she was caught already. Of course Tayla knew her parents had perfectly good reasons for not wanting her to go off on her own, and that was exactly why going off on her own was so exciting. It was difficult to get herself moving without the sun's help, but feeling tired was a small price to pay for her freedom.
Luck was with her today it seemed, because not even the pokemon her parents had watching their little treehouse noticed her as she made her covert exit into the rest of the forest. She felt delightfully clandestine as she flew away, the wind parting her antennae and chilling her a little. It was never truly cold in her home, not so close to the equator with such frequent rains and so many trees, so Tayla had never needed clothing before, and she wore none now. Not that she even understood the purpose of clothing, really. She had seen her mother human a time or two, but that had mostly been as a joke. Tayla did not have the transforming gift herself just as her father didn't, though Alvin always said that after changing into plenty of different things it was far more trouble than it was worth.
Tayla had very nearly escaped the boundaries of her parents extra-human senses and safe into the wilderness when she felt a weight slamming into her, forcing her to the ground. She fell gasping and calling weakly, her little wings struggling to hold herself aloft but too surprised by the attack for her mind to compensate for the added weight. It was fortunate she was so low to the ground, safe from anything but a little mild bruising to her pride. Tayla was no mew, but she feared attack here in the forest about as much as mew feared wild pokemon anywhere, which was to say she had never been afraid. The creatures of the forest would come to her aid should she need helping, as they had during the big fire the year she had been born.
Unfortunately they also answered to her father, and it was plain to her as she struggled to roll onto her back and get a good look at her attacker that this was one of those. Her father had a thing for negotiating with electrical rodents that she had always thought had more than type-advantage could explain. The pokemon atop her was a young but fierce emolga that she swore was always awake at the worst possible moments. "You're not supposed to leave the forest by yourself, Tayla!" He squeaked to her, baring his little teeth. "You should go right back home and wait for one of your parents."
But Tayla wasn't going to have it today, not when she was so close. So she reached out with the vine of a nearby creeper, twisting it around the Emolga's hindpaw and lifting him into the air with it, off of her. He tried to shock the thing off of himself, but with no effect. She had him now. "Not this time Eddie!" She stuck her tongue out at him, lifting back into the air and glaring. He tried shocking her again, but it all went down the vine, burning it a little but dissipating harmlessly into the ground and doing her no harm.
He whimpered when he discovered he'd been well and truly trapped. "Tayla! You know I'm just trying to help you… it's not safe if you wander. There are mean pokemon if you go too far, and worse, humans! You know what your father says. You're not just a rare pokemon, you're a shiny rare pokemon. Even most pokemon rangers couldn't resist a prize like you!"
But Tayla was barely listening. She turned away from the pokemon and hurried down the path. "Bye, Eddie. Have fun in there. I'm sure my father or someone will find you and let you out eventually. If not, maybe I'll stop by on my way back. See if you're ready to apologize."
Eddie struggled at his bonds, though he knew Tayla's threats were empty. Whatever else the mischievous little celebi might be, she was no killer. And leaving him trapped nere vulnerable all day in a forest filled with predators would be the death of him. Even predators loyal to the legendaries that effectively ruled the forest would not spare him if they were hungry enough, he suspected. But as Tayla wandered away the vine began to slacken. It was only her powers that held it in such an unusual position, and as soon as she'd made it a few miles away, it fell limp at once, letting him drop undignified to the ground and scamper quickly back into the trees. With any luck, he could wake Alvin before his daughter got herself into trouble.
He couldn't though. Tayla always made her way to the outermost edges of the forest, where human settlements grew like a web through the land they knew, making gradual changes that eventually erased the world they remembered. Not that Tayla was visiting for those reasons… she was mostly just curious. She did not know the name of the village, not that she had ever asked anyone. She flew along the ground at first, soaring onto the sod roofs of one of the buildings and watching entranced as people went about their mysterious activities. She'd never really understood why humans did what they did, but they were always interesting to watch, whatever her parents might say about the risk. She listened to the language as she always did. She wouldn't even understand English if it wasn't for trips like this, fast learner or not.
She listened to their thoughts too, for all the good it did her in understanding their motivations. The process of economics was especially puzzling to her, and always had been. Why did shopkeepers take pieces of paper or plastic, sometimes even giving a few back, in exchange for food that they could actually use? Wouldn't it have been better to keep the food they made for themselves? It was all very mysterious, even to someone who could easily read the thoughts of both parties involved in any transaction.
Not that her father hadn't explained the whole thing loads of times, but Tayla could never wrap her head around it. The sun was coming up though, so she didn't really waste time thinking about it, laying on her back and soaking in all that delicious warmth.
She wasn't the only Celebi doing that right now, either. Somewhere not so far away, her father was yawning and stretching, waking slowly as the light did for his plantlike body what coffee did for many mammals. He woke more slowly than his companion, who as always made a game of seeing just how much she could mess with him before he would gather up the energy to move and push her off. He let her twist him onto his back without caring much, bend one leg upward without minding, though when she touched his antennae that was when he drew the line, sitting up at once and glaring at her, pushing her away with one hand.
"Alright kitty, that's enough." He stood up, wings fluttering agitatedly behind him as he did. "No more of that. We've got things to do." He looked a little more worried as he stood there, feeling Izzy's fur with one hand as he often did in the mornings, the warmth helping to get his insides moving. "I can't feel her."
"She's probably gone again." Izzy sighed. "Exactly like me when I was her age. My father tried to trap me where he thought I was safe, and it didn't work either." She spun around once, eventually settling down focused in one direction. "Looks like she went back to Azalea. Again. No Alvin, you don't have to get up." She pushed him back down. The roof of their treehouse was where they slept when it wasn't raining, since the upper canopy was the only place to get any substantial amount of light. Alvin didn't argue with her, laying on his back in the sun, closing his eyes again.
"Don't be too strict with her. We need to make her bored of Azalea. If she realizes how afraid we are about her, she'll want to go there more, not less."
Unfortunately for them, Tayla was more interested in the town than ever. More accurately, she was fascinated by one particular individual, following the girl as covertly as she could between the roofs. At first she had seemed a typical trainer, a large eevee trailing protectively at her heels and glancing inquisitively at just about everything. But Tayla wasn't just limited to her eyes: She was looking with her mind as well. The girl's thoughts were panicked, even if her behavior was innocent enough. 'They're following me, I know they're following me. Tom can't fight two trained Rockets and their pokemon! They're just waiting for me to release all this electricity and they'll know for sure it's me. It hurts so much… can't hold it in much longer, but where to hide? Pokemon Center?' She stopped as casually as she could before it, looking the door up and down. 'Nope, closed dangit! It's not that early!' She hurried along as quickly as she could, passing a bakery and a gym and a pokemart, trying each of the doors in turn and finding them locked.
Tayla could see the pair following the trainer too, ordinarily dressed people, a man and a woman, doing an awful job of looking casual. She didn't even have to see into their heads to know what they wanted with the trainer, though at first she didn't understand it. They wanted to /catch/ her? How could that be? As she looked deeper, the woman briefly stopped, looking over her shoulder as she realized she was being 'watched'. Tayla quickly broke contact with the woman's mind, though not before she had her answer: The trainer was partly pokemon, enough that a pokeball would work on her.
When the girl reached the edge of the town, she glanced once behind her and then bolted, racing off into the trees as fast as she could carry herself. Her hat went flying from her head as she ran, and a pair of huge ears pushed their way free of her bright yellow hair, black tips erect as she pelted through the trees, seeming to struggle a little to find her way in a forest cast in perpetual twilight by the verdant growth. That was her undoing. Well that and the people following her. They were adults, long-legged and fit, and her short legs were no match. Soon they were on her, and she was forced to turn around.
"Good to see you're so healthy, Erica." The woman said, grinning mischievously. "We're so happy to see you are doing well. A healthy specimen is always worth more."
Tayla settled herself into a comfortable perch high up into the trees to watch as both of them released their pokemon and a battle began. The trainer's eevee fought vailiantly, and towards the end the trainer herself gave up on hiding and used what little electrical abilities she had, but it just wasn't enough to make a difference. She was outmatched, and very quickly beaten.
At least, she would've been if it weren't for Tayla. The little Celebi wasn't just going to let her get captured, not now that the trainer had fled into her forest for protection. Had she been a mew, she might've changed into something else first, so that these obvious thieves wouldn't be interested in her. There was no way for her to do that, so all there was to do was float down beside the trainer, and shout at them all. "Leave the girl alone! My family doesn't let pokemon get caught who don't want to be… and she's pokemon enough to count!"
All three stared at the Time Travel Pokemon, though only the girl showed any hint of comprehension. As usual, Tayla hadn't thought this through, not even enough to speak using telepathy instead.
"Forget the girl, look at that pokemon!" The man said, shoving Erica aside in his eagerness to get at Tayla. "Weezing, Sludge Bomb!" The Celebi darted behind a tree to avoid the explosion of toxic slime, and that quick she was part of the battle. Still, young or not, it was a much more even fight for Erica once a legendary had taken her part. Tayla knew few attacks, but had the forest to do her fighting for her. She lashed out at the pokemon with thorny roses and pelted them with pinecones. It wasn't enough, though. They ganged up on her, and while she concentrated on one foe the other would strike from the rear. The trainer was on the ground, panting and exhausted from the battle, the injured Eevee sheltered protectively in her lap as she watched Tayla's battle as passively as Tayla had watched hers.
Tayla would never know where the power came from, but it came abruptly, like somebody flipping a switch. One moment she had her back against a tree, debating turning skyward and fleeing, when she suddenly realized that moving plants really wasn't any different than moving other stuff. The Arbok was doubtless intending to bite at her neck with some incapacitating poison. But it never got close. The thing froze in mid-air as she raised her paw, then went flying backwards into the trunk another tree. The Weezing was no more difficult. Once she had the hang of it, though she was careful not to seriously harm the thing as she tossed it into the snake. With both their pokemon unconscious and injured, the pair of nefarious kidnappers seemed much less threatening, and indeed they made no further threats, returning their pokemon to their pokeballs and darting off with only a few empty insults in their wake.
Erica struggled to her feet as the trainers fled, holding herself up with a tree for a moment before looking appreciatively up at Tayla. "You… didn't have to protect me." She said, sounding almost upset by the interference. During the battle she'd let her tail free of where it had been tied down beneath her skirt, and it drooped a little behind her. "I can protect myself." But at that moment her strength gave out and she slid backward down the tree, landing on her back with a moan.
"You couldn't even!" Tayla landed on a stump not far from her, watching with concern. "I was watching, they were gonna capture you and your pokemon. I can see why… you've got a tail. That's really weird! Not even I have a tail, and I'm a pokemon!"
The trainer's eevee pawed at her side, though he was watching Tayla with interest. "She can't understand you. She only speaks Pikachu and stuff."
Tayla frowned, and tried again. 'Look, I think you needed my help.' She said, directly into the girl's mind this time. 'They're planning on coming back for you with reinforcements.' Well, that was only sorta true. When they left, the two had been planning on phoning headquarters about the rare legendary they found. This trainer's capture was guaranteed only because of the sheer number of Rocket agents that would swiftly be here.
As usual, Tayla felt guilty about it. She'd gone and made a blunder of everything and now there might be hundreds of humans invading her forest. She was skilled enough to read minds, but not enough to make those two forget what they had seen as her mother might've done.
As though that thought had summoned her, her mother appeared, with a crack of air that caused all the little leaves and twigs around them to scatter and swirl. "Tayla." She scolded, looking quite stern. "What have you gotten yourself into?" Before even looking to the hunan girl Izzy read the story in Tayla's memories, which was a little annoying but a fact of living with powerful psychic-types.
"A Pikachu proto-human this far into the past?" Izzy's voice was quiet, fearful. As though she were afraid to learn something. Tayla couldn't guess what that was, but another few moments and she must've learned it, because her mother quickly turned away. "I'll take care of those two Rockets. You just help the… help the girl." As quickly as she had come Tayla's mother was gone, leaving her alone with the trainer.
'What's your name?' Tayla asked as she flew closer to the human… close enough to touch, but this she did with great difficulty, fighting her instincts for every centimeter. She suspected it was only the trainer's pokemon physiology that made her approachable at all. She touched her gently on the forehead with one hand, focusing all her power on what control she had over the natural world. It worked. The trainer seemed to recover a little, sitting up much more alert.
"Erica." She answered, seeming to understand the principals of telepathy more than most, looking directly at the legendary as she spoke. She coughed as she tried to speak again, though did manage to get to her feet properly. "I never thought I'd see another legendary again. You're a Celebi, aren't you?"
Tayla nodded, keeping her distance from the girl enough that she didn't feel frightened, though not nearly so far that Erica had to shout to speak with her. 'Yep! That isn't my name though. I'm Tayla… and I never thought I'd get to talk to another human! Did you hear? My mom didn't tell me not to! That means I can talk to you as much as I want!' She did a little twirl in the air, though nothing near as ostentatious as a mew might've done. 'But I probably shouldn't… father wouldn't like it if he caught me. But… you're a trainer, aren't you? You aren't trying to catch me!'
Erica watched the Celebi with amusement, though the pokemon grew more and more frightened with each second the silence persisted. "No I'm not." Erica eventually said, grinning. "I know what it's like to have people trying to catch you. And have pokemon trying to eat you, but I bet you aren't too worried about that." She reached out tentatively with one hand. "Can I… can I pet you? I've never touched a legendary before, and I might never get to again."
Tayla pondered the question a moment, though she was much more interested in what the trainer had said before. Knowing what it was like to have things that wanted to /eat/ you? She could guess Pikachu would know what that was like, being so low on the food-chain, but how could the girl… 'You used to be a pokemon, didn't you? A real pokemon… the kind with lots of fur that can't talk like humans talk!'
The trainer smiled, though Tayla being so distracted meant she could reach out and slide her hand down the Celebi's back, feeling the soft, almost fuzzy texture of it. Not for long though, Erica seemed distressed by something over Tayla's shoulders. Tayla had no idea what it might be, until she turned around and saw her father watching, his eyes wide. There was no hint of reproach in Alvin's face, though she had expected it with as far as she'd crossed the line this time.
"Erica…" He moved closer, drifting gently down from the canopy and into the shadowed depths that he usually avoided. He stopped above Tayla, watching them.
"I guess that's him." She said, looking up uncomprehending at the bigger version of the pokemon she was petting. She pulled her hand back, away from Tayla. "I didn't hurt her, I promise! She saved me…" She took a few steps back, looking a little frightened. "We can go, I'm sorry! Please don't hurt us! We didn't…" But she didn't finish, because to Tayla's complete astonishment, her father zoomed up to the trainer, embracing her as best he could and rubbing his head against her chest, barely fighting back tears.
"Erica. You never told me you'd come to Azalea…" He looked up at her, the trainer much too shocked to do anything. "I guess you wouldn't, not if…" He touched her face gently with his antennae, the trainer frozen unmoving.
There was a loud crack from behind them, and Alvin turned, meeting Izzy's eyes as she reappeared. "It's Erica." He said, flying back to her and gesturing to the trainer. It was all the little trainer could do to look up with total astonishment at the three legendaries, looking between the green celebi and the pink one, along with the pink-furred mew, she grinned in sudden comprehension.
"That's why you're together!" She exclaimed, taking a few tentative steps closer to the three. "You're all a family." She looked up at the two larger pokemon, holding tightly to one another in the air. She could make no headway into the big Celebi's grief, and likely never would. "Your daughter saved me." She lowered her eyes a little. "Thank you so much, Tayla! I'll never forget it! I'll be much more careful from now on… I was way too careless to let those rockets catch up with me. My father taught me so much better… didn't want me to be a trainer at all after what happened to him… but Alvin can't tell me what to do!" She seemed proud of this fact. "Not if I want to do it anyway!"
Tayla glanced immediately to her father. Was this some sort of coincidence? Yes, it had to be.
Alvin flew forward, separating from Izzy and looking down seriously at the girl. As seriously as he could make himself look. 'It was very kind of Tayla to help you.' He said, fighting to keep his emotions out of his telepathic communication. He mostly succeeded, except for a general sense of regret and loss. 'Now you need to be kind to us in return. You have to promise not to tell anyone about this, no matter what.' He dropped down to her head level, meeting her eyes. 'Please… you have to promise.'
Erica seemed taken-aback by the Celebi's request, but nodded hastily. "Of course!" She muttered. "I promise I won't say a word!" She crossed her heart with both hands. "Not even to my family! Not Alvin or Des or Uncle Rick…" She went on and on.
Alvin smiled. 'Good. You better not, or else… we might not help you next time you're in trouble. Now… you better hurry back, before it gets dark. It's not safe for humans in Ilex Forest at night.'
Erica nodded. "Yeah, you're right. I think I've got get back to an airport… fly home… he was right about it not being safe to be a trainer. If Rocket knows enough to look for me, it's probably best if I get around as little as possible." She dropped to her knees, looking up at Tayla. "Thanks again for all your help… Tom and I won't ever forget it!" She reached out suddenly, embracing the little legendary, who had no choice but to close her eyes and endure the trainier's grip. Erica released her and stood. "Come on Tom! Let's get to the bus stop before the evening shuttle gets here." She turned, walking briskly away from the three pokemon, tucking her tail back into her skirt and tying it off even as Tom sniffed around for the hat she had lost. Finding it, she put it back over her head, smearing a little dirt on her cheeks where makeup had been worn away to reveal her bright red circles.
As soon as she was out of sight, Alvin dropped to the ground, sitting down against the stump and crying silently. Izzy was there for him to hold on to, and he was thankful for that, clearing his eyes against her fur. Or trying, at the very least.
"I don't get it." Tayla landed beside them, glancing at the path and back to her father. "What's wrong?" She moved a little closer. "That Alvin she mentioned… it couldn't be you… she would have a human parent, not a Celebi…"
Alvin didn't answer for some time, not until he'd fought back enough of the emotions to speak out loud, though his antennae were still drooping. "It's… I used to know Erica really well. But she died a few months before you were born, right at the end of the war."
Tayla had all the curiosity of the young with all the tact, which was to say not much. "How'd she die?"
The older Celebi wasn't sure how to answer, but he did his best. "She was very sick. The Exarchs hurt her a lot, but when they were gone, there wasn't enough left to heal. She went to sleep and never woke up."
"That's not so bad." Tayla said, rubbing her head against her father's to try and comfort him. "Humans don't live that long… but if she died when the exarchs came, that's decades and decades away! Besides… she died peacefully. Sleeping seems an alright way to go."
Alvin nodded, though he was crying again as he watched the path Erica had taken, faint illumination seeming to dance through the leaves above and casting the route in perpetual dancing fairy lights. "I guess so." There was a pause, before he lifted gently into the air. "You shouldn't worry about me, young lady. Somebody's been sneaking away in the mornings again." He picked her up into the air, embracing her. "Your mother and I think that if you're going to do it anyway, we should at least live in a time when there aren't trainers to catch you." He let go of her, though not before shoving her back up into the heights of the trees.
"Better get packing if you want to bring anything!" Izzy called after her, watching the little Celebi fly back towards their little treehouse as fast as she could. "We're leaving first thing tomorrow morning!"
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
It seems very strange to be saying goodbye to this story that has been a a part of my life for nearly a year, especially sense I equait saying goodbye to this story to saying goodbye to the internet at large, and in a smaller sense, my friends I have made there. I will be leaving for years, as it happens, and it is a hard thing to imagine doing. But there's nothing for it, and even if I wasn't leaving I think the period of my life where I spend a great deal of time writing fanfiction really must come to an end.
Before anything else, I'd like to thank those who have read and reviewed this story. Your feedback kept me going when nothing else would, and if it was not for you there would be no story. There were days when had traffic high enough that thousands would see my new chapters, and this knowledge alone was consolation enough, but that time is over now. Your reviews made it feel like I wasn't alone, writing this only for my own use. I did want to tell this story, but not nearly so much as that. I'd like to thank the skype community as well, which continues onward to this day if anyone else wishes to join it. Unfortunately I don't think I will be there to greet you, since I am leaving the internet for two years, but many others will be, many of which have been following these stories since the earliest. Some of those have written stories in this same universe in fact, so if you're looking for some more of these characters that would be the place to look.
Kirby Oak has two such stories (though both may not be published at the time of this writing). On , they are called Delayed Arrivial and Celeste's Tale.
DarkPokemonLover has written all of his within this universe, though English is not his first lanquage so you'll have to be patent with his grammer, especially in his earlier works. Lastly, there are a few more minor stories I've written in the same general universe that haven't been posted online before. I'll be adding those in the coming days before I leave, since I figure: Why not? They may not be as strictly pokemon fanfics as this one was (which is why I didn't post them), but they hold to my usual standards of quality nonetheless.
I have more than a handful of regrets as I write this story: It took too long between some of the chapters with my life as hectic as it was, though far more troubling were a few of my creative missteps. I loved aiming so high in scope and paying my homage to lovecraft, but stories that stray so far from science we understand of nessesity do not have such a hard-scientific grounding. In Minor Miscalculations I stayed true to everything I knew about the sciences (which I like to think is substancial) but in this story there were so many strange concepts, so many things which were not nearly so strictly grounded. It's impossible to write about hard science when I'm talking about changing the fundimental structure of the universe, since we have no scientific precident for doing that. My vision of the world then kept these details vague, of nessesity, which I did not like.
I also feel bad about the culling of subplots and minor characters. I had many in mind as I composed this story, though over time more and more of them faded or ceased to be important. I wish I would have had time to develop them all as much as I meant to, particularly Adam. His story seemed most slighted of all the characters, even if The Outcast was intended from the beginning to belong to Alvin and Logan more than anyone else.
My third and perhaps greatest regret is that I strayed so far from my source material. This story exists because of my love of pokemon, but in writing this story I seemed to have taken the pokemon world and messed with it more than I was comfortable with. Sure the themes and characters and animals were still there, but many of the places were gone, and the political systems will doubtless never be the same after the events of this story. In effect, I've either trapped future stories in the past if they want to be about the ordinary pokemon world, or forced myself to write about the new world that legendaries and humans alike are building together in the future. Maybe that isn't such a bad thing…
But life is about regrets, and nothing ever done by men was perfect. So you all will have to be happy with my most honest attempt at a good story, as there won't be anymore writing from me for awhile. Hopefully the next time you see any of my work it's in a bookstore, though nothing can say for sure. I intend to take the themes I've nurtured here and expand upon them, fixing some of my mistakes. Fanfiction has been a great proving ground, and I was very happy to have the lot of you to test my (mostly unedited) stories on.
Should anyone else wish to write about these characters or this universe, I heartily encourage you. The FD-verse is a complicated place, but there is quite a lot of source material available now to help you through it. I only ask that if anybody does, please send me a link to the story at t i n y u r l . c o m / 6 l v k d m v (remove all spaces). I would love to hear that more have written about this world I love so much.
To all who have stuck with this story to the end, whether you read every chapter as it was posted in 2011 or are browsing through old website sometime in the distant future, I wish you a very fond farewell. My voice has echoed as if from the dust, but as with all things I needs fall silent now. You have joined me for this little adventure, and for perhaps an hour or perhaps a days I took you with me out of our world of dram normalicy to a place with the great powers that made the earth quake still. In a few decades I have no doubt that Pokemon and these stories and everything else will fall into obscurity. This little world of ours we created together: My words and your imaginations both. So long as some of us remember it still, the world lives on, waiting for someone to tell another story.
So far as characters go, I give credit where credit is do. Miya belongs to DPL, and Also belongs to Kazundos. Kirby Oak has contributed more characters than I care to count over the years, but Bit, Izzy, Celeste, and Jamie constitute the most important. All other characters I have not created are credited to their owners, including those covered by formal Pokemon copyright. This work was created for personal use only under the terms of fair use and I make no claim to ownership over Pokemon or any of the ideas or proerties covered under that copyright.