Event 11: Snow
Mewtwo quietly walked into the kitchen where his trainer was currently cooking dinner. "May I raise a concern?"
Anton turned to look at him with a smile. "What is it, Poten?"
It was a simple exchange between the two individuals, but a careful listener could find quite a number of details buried within it that would accurately reflect just how much things had changed between them during the past several weeks of training.
The most obvious, of course, was that Anton had named his latest Pokémon. It was an abbreviated form of the word "potential", a word that had come up between the two on multiple occasions. Mewtwo acknowledged that it reflected the same naming creativity that Anton had repeatedly demonstrated to date, and the fact that he still thought of himself as Mewtwo proved just how much the affectionately-constructed pseudonym meant to him.
But to be fair, considering that revealing his actual name would most likely result in sending his trainer into mental fits, he could do nothing but benefit from having an alias. He had allowed Anton to come to the decision himself, which was good for ensuring that he could still take initiative when needed. And to some degree, he enjoyed the idea that the trainer would refer to him using a term that evoked mental images of his great power.
As for the smaller details? His walk was quiet, casual and comfortable for him, the result of a great deal of practice. Indeed, his basic physical regiment had finally come together, including his run, and he and the others had moved on to refining it toward that of an athlete.
It was starting to show in other ways as well. Mewtwo had once in the past employed a device that taught him a technique known as "Bulk Up" in an effort to make his newly-learned physical moves more suitable for offense against a certain dark Pokémon. He had since abandoned it, but he still remembered how it felt to use the move. And over the past few weeks, he had come to notice that his training was starting to have a similar, though considerably less overwhelming, feel to it. Still, the oddest part was that it never seemed to wear off. He was sure that his arms had grown greatly in thickness, and yet they never seemed to be sluggish or uncomfortable.
And then there were the dispositions of the individuals. Anton always seemed happy to see "Poten" or talk to him. Mewtwo wasn't sure why, considering they spoke to each other on a daily basis. But even he had to acknowledge that he found himself far less impatient with the human, and felt that his words were no longer falling on deaf ears.
In fact, the last words he had telepathically sent to his trainer seemed more like he had a suggestion than any kind of direct order, didn't they? And yet, for some reason, he felt like the human would take it just as seriously.
Thus he continued. "It appears to me that our current training regiment is closely modeled after the techniques required to take part in the Pokéathlon's events."
Anton's expression was puzzled. "That wasn't meant to be a secret, was it? I mean, we trained for the Pokéathlon, and you wanted to try the same kind of training."
"True. That was not my concern." Mewtwo glanced through a nearby window at the field outside. "You have repeatedly informed me that the Pokéathlon consists of ten events that test various aspects of our capabilities."
"Yeah, that's right."
"I have only seen evidence of nine."
Anton tilted his head up slightly. "Maybe I forgot one, then? Hmm… I definitely ran you through all the running and jumping ones. We also worked hard with the power equipment. That leaves stamina and skill, and I could have sworn all the stamina ones are worked into… wait. Maybe it's… no, I definitely remember us throwing the white balls. Am I forgetting something else?"
"The white balls?" Mewtwo asked. "I was told that they were a general tool for practicing skill. Also having fun, if necessary."
The human nodded. "That's true, but that's not why I got them. I was looking for anything that could help us practice for the Snow Throw."
"The Snow Throw?"
"It's basically a glorified snowball fight", Anton explained. "Teams make snowballs and throw them at each other. Whoever lands the most hits wins."
Mewtwo thought about this briefly. "Compared to the other events, that sounds disorganized. Were they unable to come up with any other contests of skill?"
"I haven't the foggiest. But yeah, that's the tenth event, and we can't exactly work on it. Aside from throwing other balls, I guess. I mean, we never get any snow around here."
The psychic blinked. "We are in the same ecosystem as the Pokéathlon Dome. How do they get the snow for their event?"
"Uh… I'm pretty sure it's artificial. I don't remember how they make it, but I know I don't have anything of the sort."
Mewtwo paced briefly, thinking aloud. "It would be a significant help if you had the opportunity to work with actual snow before taking part in such a competition." He looked at Anton again. "Where can we find it?"
A sigh. "I've never seen it anywhere in Johto. Not even Kanto. I've heard of it falling in other regions, but that's pretty far to go just to practice."
By this time, it was an utterly moot point to bring up any opportunities to head to another region that had once existed. But if there were any other places that might have been overlooked or any available methods of creating snow of their own…
…and one suddenly came to mind.
However, Mewtwo pondered hesitantly to himself, that mind would have to be insane.
After consuming another of his trainer's meals and having one more good night's worth of meditation, he came to the decision that he wanted to try it anyway.
"Upon further recollection," he told Anton the next morning, "there may be ways of finding a snow-like substance that is not caused by actual precipitation."
The human tried to think. "Uh… I doubt we can find a place with enough frost for a decent attempt at this. Not without it getting as hard as ice."
"It would require more than icy conditions", Mewtwo continued. "Suppose it was considerably moister, due to a nearby water source. Suppose there was also some form of geological movement in the area, particularly of the sort that could cause damp ice to break free and grind it into something relatively indistinguishable from snow."
"…in that case, I'd say I don't know what you're talking about", Anton said with a shrug. "I was never any good at science."
"I still believe that the idea may have merit. Do we know of any places that match that description?"
"An icy place near water that is subjected to… geology stuff. You're basically talking about that ice-filled cave on that island chain in Kanto, right? The one that's so close to the volcano on Cinnabar?"
Mewtwo tried to look contemplative. "How long would it take us to travel there?"
One of the more notable aspects of Mewtwo's suggestion was that, in truth, he agreed completely with Anton's assessment. He strongly doubted that anything he had just said was even slightly close to scientifically accurate.
It had served its purpose, though. After everyone had taken a short time to prepare, Eli was currently carrying the pair, as well as a still-balled Stappy, toward the Seafoam Islands.
Mewtwo was admittedly impressed. He had rarely seen more than a single person ride on the back of a Pokémon in flight, so he was pleasantly surprised to see that the Dragonite was able to bear them both without significant fatigue. And he had described himself as weaker than Stappy. The psychic briefly wondered exactly how much he would have to lift to consider himself a truly powerful flying-type.
On that subject, though, it was time for him to begin his real strategy. The trip would be nothing more than a waste of time if this part failed.
Since he knew the general vicinity of his target, it took him only a few seconds to initiate a psychic connection, even given the distance. (I am sorry to disturb you, but I bring you a warning.)
Several seconds passed.
(Who gave you permission to invade my head, manmade one?)
Hmm. Its disposition boded ill for his chances of success. (In other circumstances, I would have respectfully made my presence known in person), he tried. (I do not have that luxury. I am in the presence of a trainer, and he intends to visit your domicile.)
(There is no need to worry. I have much experience with such humans. He will learn that I am not easily overpowered.)
(Specifically, I am in his presence because he captured me.)
That statement turned out to be enough to give Mewtwo the lengthy pause he had been hoping for. He continued. (However, I do not believe he knows that you reside there.)
(You expect me to flee and return later.)
(No. I have a better idea in mind.) Mewtwo turned his attention to Anton momentarily, and then resumed. (He is searching for something far more mundane. He wants… snow.)
(…then he shall not be deterred. Snow does not fall here.)
The other Pokémon's thoughts became more suspicious. (Where do these trainers get their information? Have their devices begun to lie to them? It is difficult to think of any other way that the belief that snow can be found here could possibly find its way into his head.) Its tone became utterly flat. (Would you not agree, psychic?)
The psychic frowned. It was difficult to get anything past this one. (We are still twenty minutes away by flight. He does not need much. A single room with a layer six inches deep should be sufficient.)
(Is that all? Perhaps you would also enjoy a slight breeze to cool you off from the long trip?)
(I would not recommend that), Mewtwo replied emotionlessly. (A layer of snow would be expected. A draft may convince him that there is another entrance, and he may be tempted to explore.)
He waited several seconds, smiled to himself and continued. (Yes, I know that you were.)
(You are serious about this.) The other Pokémon's voice became calmer. (This is absurd. I have existed for many centuries. The humans consider me a guardian spirit. Blizzards and avalanches follow in my wake.) A brief sigh. (And you bring a human with you to my lair and demand of me… me… six inches.)
The psychic refused to be cowed by its words. Not after what this very same trainer had expected him to do. Instead, he continued to smile. (Given your expertise, they very well could be the finest six inches in history.)
(I am not a machine, psychic. My talents are not simply granted to those who desire their use. Not even you.)
(No. You are not a machine.) It was a long shot, but it was worth trying. (You do not exist solely for when the greatest storms are needed. You care enough for the humans that you are willing to protect them from your work… and sometimes from that which is not your doing. And you are capable of finding satisfaction in the smaller things in life too, correct?) His smile had adjusted, becoming less smug and more heartfelt. (Did you know that this human has never been in snow before? Can you imagine his joy?)
A short pause. (I was under the distinct impression that he and I were not to meet.)
Mewtwo sighed. (I am not a machine, either. Though I may be manmade, I am alive. I will see his joy, and I will share it with him.) He took a deep breath. Anton might have noticed. (You will know my joy. And… I am sure that you have some small concerns of your own. Concerns that would be well suited for a psychic to handle. Even if they are particularly trivial to him…)
There was a longer pause. Long enough for him to remember the outcome of the last time he had tried to win someone over to his side using this offer.
(I have never needed your help.)
And with that, the mental link grew silent.
Several minutes later, Eli safely landed on the island, and Anton and Mewtwo climbed off his back.
He could stand to rest, Mewtwo thought. He could relax here for a short while. Anton would look inside the cave, and would be disappointed to find that their theory hadn't paid off. It was just a theory, anyway. It made more sense to go through these motions than to suddenly change his mind mid-flight for no apparent reason. It would turn out to be a waste of time, but nothing but that time was risked. It would not matter in the long run.
"Okay… we'll rest here for a moment before we check out the cave", Anton explained. "Of course, we need to prepare first."
"I believe the cave is well-lit", the psychic offered. "Even if we fail to find snow, the cave is very icy. A light source could lead to melting. I recommend against it."
Anton was barely paying attention to him. He was busy moving things around in his backpack… no, wait, a backpack…
"…I have not seen that container before. What happened to the one you already possess?"
The human frowned. "Something must have happened to it. Maybe some repels broke or something. Either way, I can't get into it now. Whenever I try, it just… makes me feel sick. I probably need to ditch it soon." He nodded. "This one's got a bit more room, anyway.
"…speaking of which…" He pulled out a bottle and administered it to himself. "We can't forget this."
Mewtwo glanced to his side at Eli. "Do repels work against humans?"
The Dragonite shrugged. (Not as far as I know.) His eyes narrowed. (I don't remember smelling anything in the house, anyway.)
"…okay, we're set. Let's hope you know your science, okay?" Anton slung the now-closed pack onto his back and started walking toward the cave.
The psychic frowned as he followed slowly. "I have not seen much snow myself. It is possible that we may have misremembered the elements required to…"
Mewtwo had a similar but unspoken reaction when he finally saw what his trainer had just spotted: a large, open icy cavern, complete with miniature plateaus and particularly shiny walls, almost perfectly reflecting the glimmering light cast forth from the open entrance, as well as…
…a perfect layer of snow, seemingly sparkling upon the ground, its twinkling effect only amplified by the natural mirrors around it.
With almost no hesitation, he hurried to reestablish the earlier mental link.
With equally little hesitation, his contact responded first. (…of course, there is always a chance that I will think of something for you to do for me. I am certain that you will be able to do it exceptionally well. And when I do, I know where to find you.)
Anton's hand moved to his belt to grasp the Pokéball there, and he immediately sent forth its occupant. "Hey… Stappy… take a look at this."
Mewtwo smiled at his reaction. (When you do, I will remain true to my word.)
He blinked. (Why are you thanking me? You owe me nothing, and I did not expect you to change your…)
(I know.) The other Pokémon sounded slightly hesitant. (I also know that you possess a greater deal of psychic power than those I have met that are not manmade. Possibly enough to… control the mind of another being, and force it to perform an action that it did not desire to perform?)
(I did nothing of the sort to you.)
(You did not even try.) The mental voice became oddly warm, given its bearer. (For that, I thank you.)
After a few minutes, it was decided that the time for wonderment was over. The group had come here for a reason.
Anton bent low to the ground and scooped up a handful of snow. "You're supposed to… ugh, this is cold… supposed to be able to roll this into a ball", he said while gazing at it. "I've never done it, but I've seen them do it all the time." After using both hands to apply a bit of pressure to it, it eventually started to look like a white ball. He looked up at the others. "You all go ahead and try it, too."
Stappy moved immediately, ducking low to the ground to pick up some of the precipitation. Mewtwo followed his lead, pausing only to note Eli's hesitation first. The substance was indeed uncomfortably cold to the touch, though growing slightly less so with each passing moment. He placed his hands together in an effort to compact it.
It was promptly crushed into a flat powdery form and fell out of his hands. Trying not to feel frustrated, he went for another handful.
Anton's voice interrupted him. "Okay, Stappy's got one. Take a look."
Indeed, he noticed, the Feraligatr had taken well to the task. It wasn't perfectly spherical, but it was solid and fit his claw easily. "There're three things we need to learn to do right to win this one", the human continued. "First, make good balls fast. Second, hit whoever we throw them at. Third, get hit less often."
"Are we expected to dodge or will we find cover?" Mewtwo wondered aloud. "I am not familiar with the event's layout."
"It's… there's not a lot of room. Each team has to stay in a small space. Most of the time, they don't get hit because everyone else misses. As for cover…" He smiled suddenly. "There's a trick to that. Let's try it."
He moved to Stappy's side. "I need you to roll up a larger one." As the Pokémon nodded, the human returned his attention to the other two. "While we do this, keep working on the little ones."
Mewtwo's second attempt turned out considerably better, at least in terms of the snow forming a cohesive whole. After a bit of thought, he rolled it against another patch and watched as it expanded slightly.
"Okay, see this?" The psychic's attention snapped upward at the sound of Anton's voice and focused on Stappy's latest construction: a particularly large mass of snow that went a bit above his waist. "Having one this size is a good idea, especially if you can make it fast and the guy making it's in the middle. Two reasons. Poten, try throwing your ball at it."
He didn't hesitate. With a quick motion of his arm, he lobbed his masterpiece at the larger form, which failed to budge as the smaller snowball crumbled upon collision. It seemed almost wasteful.
"As you can see", the human continued, "it can take a few hits. That way it's not you guys getting hit, and we get a nice lead. And when you throw it…"
The Feraligatr bent down slightly and wrapped his claws around the snowy mass. Seconds later, he had successfully removed it from the ground and was holding it in front of his chest with only minor visible effort. Mewtwo found it fairly impressive, especially given how little time it had taken him to construct a ball of that size.
In fact, it seemed to be growing even larger.
Suddenly, he felt a great amount of weight upon his body, enough that he dropped to a single knee. He could no longer see clearly with his eyes; his mind was still able to perceive the others and note that Stappy was no longer holding anything. With some physical exertion, he returned to a standing position and shook his head rapidly, creating a line of sight to the others and convincing him that he had just been half-buried in the substance.
A very cold substance, he had to admit.
His head was still a bit wobbly, but he could perceive the form of the human nodding. "This is still only worth one hit", Anton explained. "But right now, he's an easy target. He can't move easily, and he looks kinda…"
He couldn't finish the sentence before he suddenly burst out laughing. Even the reptiles had amused expressions on their faces and seemed to be holding their reactions back. Mewtwo glared at them as best as he could.
(Sorry), Stappy offered quickly. (It's just… you really should have seen the expression on your…)
"I wish I brought a camera!" Anton interrupted between chuckles. "The way you're just…"
He was quickly silenced by the snowball that Mewtwo had been quickly constructing from the debris of the previous assault. Seeing this was enough to break Eli's attempt at silence, and he was soon roaring with his own laughter.
He promptly received a snowball to the head as well.
Mewtwo smirked to himself. It served them right for daring to laugh at his…
…his train of thought derailed as he was struck yet again, this time by a smaller projectile than before.
In mere seconds, the training exercise had lost all hope of being considered glorified by any definition.
"I hope that you have all learned your lesson."
Mewtwo sat wearily on a small pile of snow, his heavy breathing made more obvious by the cold conditions of the cave. Despite the many times he had been struck, he felt confident in claiming to be the victor of that particular showdown.
Stappy nodded slowly from his position on his back. (I… hope you mean the one about how to make our hits count when we do this for real, right?)
Eli was resting flat on his chest, so his nod was less visible. (You know it. We'll be ready for them.)
(Of course, we won't have Anton backing us up next time, so…)
Their attentions drifted over to the human, who had been recovering slowly from some particularly strong hits. Right now, he was lying half buried in one of the larger mounds, clearly moving as little as possible.
(Is he awake?)
Stappy sat up slowly and crawled unsteadily over to his location. (I think he is…)
His voice broke off and his expression became worrisome. (His… his skin's awfully pale right now.) He looked at the others quickly. (How long have we been here?)
(Can we see sunlight in here?) Eli asked.
Mewtwo thought quickly. "I believe it has been slightly more than two hours since we arrived."
(That long?) Stappy exclaimed in shock. (In this cold?)
"We needed to devote time to training our…"
(If we were going to take this long, he should have at least bundled up!)
Mewtwo stared at him blankly. "Bundled?"
(Multiple layers of clothing? So he doesn't freeze to death at this temperature?)
"That seems unlikely. We do not bear clothing, and we endure."
The Feraligatr looked at him impatiently. (We're not human. He's not as tough as us. He needs proper covering.) He shook his head. (This is simply not proper weather for shorts!)
"He possesses another type of clothing?"
(You don't…) In a flash, Stappy was on his feet. (Forget it! Let's just get him someplace warm, okay? We don't have time to argue!)
The two arguers glanced over at the Dragonite. (To be honest… I… I'm not doing too hot myself…)
Mewtwo nodded in understanding. "Dragons do not respond well to ice."
(Another…) Stappy was starting to show frustration. (This is just… will you please help me?)
The psychic suddenly realized that he hadn't even moved to help yet, and that this was not reflecting well on him. Especially not if the cave's usual denizen had chosen to not become involved. He stood up quickly and moved to the human's side. "Very well. I will move Anton. I believe you have a better chance of helping Eli, correct?"
With some effort, he managed to lift the human in his arms. This was more than he was used to carrying, he had to admit. It didn't help that Anton appeared to be unconscious, and weighed considerably more than any of the other trainers he had met recently.
The cave's exit was easy to access, at least. The sun was still shining brightly, and it helped to warm his body. Though for some reason, the human didn't seem to notice, and his body was still uncomfortably cold…
Stappy emerged after him, trying his hardest to support Eli. (This isn't going to be enough, is it?) he asked.
"You believe that they need medical attention?" Mewtwo pondered aloud.
(I… I'm not sure. We might be able to help, but if we can't…)
The psychic suddenly had a thought. "Is this about his lack of money?"
(First things first), Stappy said in a suddenly forceful tone of voice. (Let's get them back home. Eli, you go back in the Pokéball. I'll handle this.)
Mewtwo blinked. "You can get us there? You cannot fly."
(I… know.) The Feraligatr shook his head. (But we need to start moving.)
"Eli is our only hope of crossing the mountains. We should allow him…"
(Take a look at him! He's still shivering! He's not ready to fly yet!)
Mewtwo frowned. "In that case, we should rest first."
(Here? So close to the ice? No.)
"Do you have a better idea?"
Stappy glared at him. (Yes. I'll carry you and Anton to the mainland. There, Eli will take over when he's ready.)
(Don't worry. I've surfed with more than one passenger before.)
"You want me… to ride on your back… across the…"
(Yes! It's called Surf! That's how most trainers cross the water! What part of that don't you understand?)
Mewtwo shook his head repeatedly. "This is a bad idea."
(Why? What's wrong with it?)
"I… do not like it."
Stappy promptly released Eli on the ground and started marching toward Mewtwo. (Listen to me carefully. My trainer may be in trouble. We need to help him, and we need to get him home. Now.) His claw reached out and grasped the psychic by the wrist. (I am going to take us, and I do not want to hear…)
"Let go of me."
The claw immediately let go. (We don't have time for this!) He moved toward Anton and his Pokéballs. (I don't care if you don't like it. Right now, Anton's more im…)
"Do not recall him." Mewtwo's eyes were starting to glow.
(You… you're unbelievable.) Stappy threw up his claws in frustration. (This whole trip was your idea, and you're going to let them suffer for your own stupid selfish reasons. It's like you don't even know how a team…)
"Be quiet!" The psychic was now the one angrily advancing on the other, not even bothering to use his legs in the process. "If I had not chosen to come here, you would not possess a team at all. I am helping you. Allow me to do so, and display proper gratitude." He glanced to his side at the waves. "I will not ride you across the ocean. I never will. The discussion is over."
The immediate vicinity was silent for a moment, save for the sound of waves.
Eli spoke first. (I think Stappy may have a…)
(Yes, master. I understand.) The Feraligatr's voice had changed to a monotone. (I am sorry, master. I will not speak out of turn again.)
Mewtwo sighed. "I do not need your sarcasm. We…"
He stopped. There hadn't been a trace of sarcasm in the other Pokémon's voice. Indeed, rather than responding to his words, he had walked directly over to the two quietly. With a single claw, he tapped a Pokéball on his trainer's waist, and was immediately pulled into the device.
Eli groaned softly as he started to rise. (I hope you know what you're doing.)
The psychic didn't answer. He was too busy silently understanding what had just happened during that conversation. He hadn't even been intending to… but Stappy had… and now he was…
…and for what reason? Just because Mewtwo didn't want to…
He stared down at the snowy ground and sighed. That had been nothing short of petty, and he didn't like thinking of himself as one who would still resort to such methods in such simple circumstances. In fact, for the first time in a while, he was starting to hate himself again. This outcome wasn't what he or anyone else wanted. Especially not Anton…
He turned to face Eli again. "We have wasted time. Have you sufficiently warmed up to fly?"
(I… I'm not sure. Our place is pretty far to the northwest. I might get tired.)
"Do not worry. I have the utmost confidence in you." A sudden thought, possibly starting from the other Pokémon, came to the psychic. "Do you see the sun?"
(Yeah.) Eli shrugged. (We'll be going away from it.)
"Yes. Notice how warm it is. Feel its rays." With some effort, he lifted the human until he was resting upon the Pokémon's back. "Do you intend to feel cold in its presence?"
The Dragonite rolled his eyes. (I wish it worked that fast.)
"I will support Anton. You will support us. The sun will support you." He climbed on Eli's back as well. "Start flying."
Eventually he did. Despite the exhaustion, the group started to make slow vertical progress. After about half a minute, it was possible to look down upon the entire island chain.
(…not sure… I can keep doing this…)
Possibly, Mewtwo considered. It was worth testing, at least. "If you feel tired, head higher. Head for the sun. It will help."
(…the sun. Got it.)
And with that, Eli continued to fly higher. It was amazing, the psychic considered, how much the power of positive thinking could improve one's performance, even at a time like this. He could almost call it a weaker form of hypnosis. Even he was starting to feel warmer in the presence of the Dragonite's enthusiasm.
Eli smiled equally warmly. (…I can feel it… the sun is strong…)
And with that, he closed his eyes and pitched forward.