Prologue: A Historical Note from Archivist Novare
Greetings, and welcome back to the National Archives, [NAME REDACTED UNDER NATIONAL SECRETS ACT]. I am glad to see that you have taken an interest in our nation's past – and of all things, you seem to have been drawn to the period known colloquially in Unova as "The War of Divergence" (Prof. Aspen, page 19 of Ho-oh's Holocaust). Though the entire struggle for mankind's survival through the years until [DATA CLASSIFIED BY UNOVA LEAGUE SECURITY SECTION 4] ended the war, for good. In the aftermath, humanity struggled to rebuild civilization as it once was, and Pokemon struggled to live with their deeds. Indeed, many regions, such as Johto, are still considered disaster areas. Thanks to the tireless efforts of countless historians, reporters, military records, etc., the National Archives have a well-documented account of the wars in the Continental regions. But our homeland of Unova is rather distinct in that very little about what went on all those years ago ever surfaced publicly. Being so far away from the Old Continent, Unova's unique climate, ecology and the very essence of its inhabitants drastically changed the way war was waged here compared to the battles of the Continent. While Pokemon held the upper hand in nearly every other zone of conflict, it was Unova that held the epicenter of the human resurgence and the rise of what is called "The Isshu Heresy" by the Church of Arceus, marked the turning point of the war, globally. Despite this apparent fact, few archivists not from our native land seem to see it the same way. They all insist it was the actions of Trainers from the Continent who saved the day. By reading historical texts from the period, [NAME REDACTED UNDER NATIONAL SECRETS ACT], I hope you will feel the need to rebut these other views of non-Unovan scholars and inform the world of Unova's real role in the crisis. Needless to say, I have gathered what I could from civilian sources and high-level military mainframes. The following story is arranged based upon your previous settings and personal preferences, and texts in parentheses denote my addition into the entry of what I deem pertinent information. This terminal will be left open to your unique security clearance for you to access at your leisure. May you continue to receive the blessings of the Goddesses, [NAME REDACTED UNDER NATIONAL SECRETS ACT].
-ECCLESIASTICAL THOUGHT OF THE DAY-
The Twin-Souled Embrace the Faithful, and Destroy the Heretic.
Chapter 1: Mission Log #2507-TM6 "Menkov's Expedition"
Dec. 8. Twist Mtn 21:17 Unova Standard Time. Year of Dampener Removal (YDR) 1
One year. One bloody blur of a fucking year. Had it really been just that long ago that Man and Pokémon were living in harmony? (Technically, it had been a year ago the previous August, but we will allow the subject his slight exaggerations for the sake of historical accuracy.) Lieutenant Menkov couldn't remember such a time. Not anymore. Not after seeing what the bugs did to Castelia. The most heavily populated and technologically advanced city on the continent, crown jewel of the whole fucking region, and the biggest port, completely overrun by the enemy. Humans had air superiority, at least for now, but the battle on the ground was stagnant. Supply convoys and troop transports kept getting ambushed in the desert by squads of Sandile, led by their larger, more intelligent evolutions, Krokorok. Losses were getting to be heavy.
Again, Menkov had to remind himself that there was always a price to pay in war. Those men died, but at least they died in the name of Humanity. That was something for their families to be proud of, at the very least.
"Squad, comm check." the officer spoke a clipped command into his helmet's mic, broadcasting over encrypted short-wave frequencies that rotated every few minutes to prevent the enemy from somehow listening in. The replies from the Lieutenant's group came in similar fashion, from left to right in order of their position relative to the commander.
"..." only static was heard from the last man, a Private Nash. Menkov sighed. This damnable mountain. HQ had warned of EM interference, but he didn't think it would be so bad, especially for such a simple thing as short-range communications.
"Nash, report." Menkov spoke over the squad frequency, his voice calm for now. Only silence greeted him. That old wound in Menkov's side from the time he wrestled a Scolipede shirtless (a feat risky at best, and nearly suicidal by anyone's standards) started itching again, too. A bad omen in Menkov's book. The blasted thing only ever itched like that when something life-threatening was about to happen. "Squad, hold position. Someone get me a visual on Nash. Weapons up and safeties off. Set your radars to maximum range and enable IFF sensors on your HUD if you haven't already." a series of affirmatives echoed the commander's speech as his troops disengaged their cloaking devices and pulled out their A586 "Sawsbuck" pattern combat rifles and brought them up to their shoulders. Technically, a platoon this size should have been outfitted with at least one squad weapon, the S205 "Forretress" heavy rifle, but the missing Nash was the one assigned to it.
"Sir, I have a confirmed visual on Nash. He's dead. Icicle went straight through his skull. Odd about the placement of the wound, though...It doesn't look like it went through his armor..." Menkov started at the sound. Sandoval's voice. The squad's sergeant was attentive to detail, but sometimes he forgot where he was whenever he was engrossed in analysis. Menkov chalked it up to HQ being stupid and assigning an intelligence man to black ops. Of course, he wasn't the only "mis-assignment" in this squad. Nash was also the squad's political officer, though it was a purely clandestine role and only Menkov knew anything more than that. To have both a heavy weapons operator and a political officer end up dead in the same mission was a twist of fate too gross not to go unnoticed by Western Command HQ.
Sandoval was going on about the lack of damage to Nash's I305 "Lairon" combat suit when Menkov suddenly heard the noncom swear and start shooting briefly before silence and then static were the only things to be heard from Sandoval's radio.
"Form up and find high ground. Sandoval and Nash are down. We need to find out what silenced them, and kill the fucker. No one else is dying today, gentlemen." Menkov managed to contain his fear as he quickly issued the order to move away from the bodies of their squadmates. He hadn't considered an ambush this soon into the mission. They must have known the humans were coming. But how? That question repeated itself in the officer's mind again and again as the remaining three soldiers, a private, a corporal, and their battle-medic, gathered together near the ridgeline of the crevasse smack dab in the middle of the mountain. Rusting bits of machinery, mostly torn apart along with their operators during the early days of the war lay at the bottom of the slope, evidence of human mining operations here.
Again, Menkov had to shake himself away from his reminiscence. The past was long gone. There was no going back. The bodies of the slain, human and Pokemon alike, were piled too high to ignore. A beeping noise from the medic's suit made Private Garcia swear softly.
"Shut that fucking thing up, doc." The 'doc' in question was tapping rapidly at a glowing rectangular screen embedded in his suit's forearm. Typical of a condensed squad like this; combine multiple squad roles into one soldier. It will save manpower and money, they said. It will increase efficiency, they said. Bullshit. If one man went down, so too did a host of essential functions need by the rest of the squad to survive.
"Krieg. Seriously. Silence that device. You'll give away our position." Menkov ordered sternly in a voice barely audible over comms.
"Goddesses damn it, I'm tryin', boss, I'm tryin'." the medic's soft drawl, at odds with the disciplined sound of his name, was beginning to show signs of panic as he rapidly tapped with more and more urgency at the screen, which just kept beeping all the louder, and more frequently, as if to spite him.
"Krieg, why can't you shut that thing up?"
"...Because it's the aura radar, sir. And its going apeshit. Something big is nearby. I vote we retrieve Sandoval's and Nash's tags, set their suits for blowout, and beat feet outta here." Krieg lowered his weapon and turned to show his commanding officer the readout, but as he did, his whole body suddenly froze up and he began to spasm violently. The other soldiers quickly turned on him and aimed their weapons at their medic before firing quickly into his unarmored face, shattering the electroglass screen that showed Krieg's HUD. His body twitched as the bullets bounced around in his armored helmet, thoroughly shredding his brain and spraying thick, dark blood all over the immediate vicinity, staining the otherwise pristine snow-covered mountainside with a splotch of obscene color.
"Ghost. Filters on, switch to pulse rounds." Menkov's voice was audibly shaking now as his brain fell back on the only thing it could remember – protocol. As one, the three remaining soldiers activated their Silph Combat Omniscopic Peripheral Enhancements (SCOPE for short) – one of the few technologies that was lucky enough to survive the holocaust that was Saffron. The armor-clad special ops troops quickly saw their "unseen" target. A Yamask, holding the image of a broad-faced heavyset male emblazoned on its titular mask. Probably one of the workers here. His face was crying. Always crying. Then again, all Yamask did that. The cursed corruptions of a dead human's soul were forever stuck in a kind of nightmarish limbo. The dampener removal certainly didn't help their fragile sanity, either. Menkov and the others took aim at the creature and fired an aura pulse round – one of the few standard ammunition accepted by the A586 that was proven effective against ghost-types.
"Ya...ma..." the spirit moaned as it dispersed forcibly under sustained fire from the three soldiers. Dispatching their first foe fairly quickly, the remainder of the squad looked around for further enemies that might be hiding in the realm of undeath. Seeing no additional hostiles, and picking up none on heat sensors either, the lieutenant gave the order to stand down weapons and retrieve the wargear and ID of the fallen. While Garcia and Huntsman went to go give last rites to their comrades and retrieve ammo and weapons from the dead men, Menkov knelt down next to the body of their former comrade and removed the identification plate from Krieg's chest armor and aura scanner from his bracer, installing the modular device in his own suit and bringing up all the data its previous owner had seen just before his death. A quick self-diagnostic proved that the instrument was reading true: there was a large aura presence located just meters away from the squad's location. How the hell no one else had noticed it until now –
"Lieutenant! You may wanna come check this out." Huntsman called out over radio. Curious to see exactly what his subordinates had found, Menkov obliged and joined the two men in their vigil over the dead. Of course, these days a vigil was less of a ritual, and more of a necessity. The fact that certain Pokémon were confirmed to have been born from the spirits of dead humans (a revelation made all the more unsettling by the fact that they seemed to have ignored all former ties to humanity when the limiters came off, but they lost none of their intelligence nor their memories from their past lives; the monsters were now a major threat to human self-defense efforts) made it a requirement to watch over the newly deceased, perform last rites, and then keep a weapon handy and a SCOPE active. It didn't take long nowadays to find out who went 'ghost' and who didn't. What Menkov saw only confirmed Sandoval's last report. The two men had been killed by iron-hard and razor-sharp shards of ice to the face, the only vulnerable part of the Lairon-type armor that existed, at least in the minds of the engineers who built it. Menkov remembered Nash bitching about how a correctly aimed projectile could all too easily break apart the supposedly indestructible plates of the squad's Lairon armor that overlay each other to maintain flexibility. Not like he'd be filing a complaint now anyway.
"This is a fucking textbook justification right here. I'm calling in a Psylink." Menkov swore, kneeling down and removing the engraved iridium nameplates located on the breastplates of Nash and Sandoval. Underneath the nameplates, a tiny LED timer blinked to life and started counting down from 12:00:00. In twelve hours, the suits would prime and activate an otherwise stable and harmless agent located at strategic points on the exoskeleton and detonate them, erasing all evidence of human presence or technology. Well, save the large, smoldering crater the size of a minivan. That shit was kind of hard to cover up, unless you were really skilled at making and then concealing pitfall traps and the like. But who on earth would have such an otherwise esoteric and useless skill? Nobody Menkov knew, that's for sure.
Menkov, flanked by his two remaining soldiers, pulled a strange-looking antenna from a recess located just behind his right shoulder's massive pauldron (it should be noted that in those days, the larger a warrior's shoulder armor, the higher ranking they were. Such an illogical and silly method of judging skill and competence as a commander is thankfully nonexistent today, though the current trend of 'My hat is biggest, therefore I'm the boss' isn't much better. Perhaps you could do something about it?). His suit was the only one equipped for long-range communications; another of Headquarters' infallible ideas. Menkov wished he could spit out of his helmet at the sarcasm dripping from that last thought.
"This is Lieutenant Sasha Menkov, Command Authorization Delta-Tango-Epsilon-Zero-Five, Requesting Priority Alpha access to the Psylink. Status is critical." a pause, and then a sepulchral voice seemed to emanate from nowhere and everywhere all at once.
YOUR REQUEST HAS BEEN ACCEPTED, MENKOV. I AM PRIMARY ADJUNCT METAGROSS. PSYLINK IS NOW ONLINE. PREPARE FOR MERGING AND DATA EXCHANGE.
A slight twinge in Menkov's brain (Apparently one can feel inside one's own brain. I have heard it is a rather interesting and unsettling sensation.) and suddenly the massive mental presence of the Psylink's adjunct was there with him, sharing his consciousness in real-time, processing his experiences twenty percent faster than any Unovan technology the humans possessed and formulating a three-day battle plan with fourteen diverging secondary and tertiary strategies to help the survivors, completing all of this in ten seconds flat. This was the Psylink – humanity's trump card.
"We have completed identification of the remaining enemy. A group of Beartic are-" the Menkov/Metagross mental link was interrupted forcibly by a large serrated claw covered in icy blades emerging from the snow and sending the smaller human flying some twenty feet away into a snow bank. Garcia and Huntsmen wasted no time in shooting at the claw with their standard ammunition, only serving to anger the appendage's owner more as it emerged from its icy disguise along with its fellows, who glared at the smaller figures before the head of the first Beartic simply exploded without warning. The source of the localized blast was a satisfied-looking Huntsman holding a pair of A385s and grinning at his own mental image of how badass he must look while the barrels of his rifles cooled from the aftermath of the third type of ammunition carried by the group.
"You got to use the self-propelled incendiary rounds. You lucky bastard." Garcia commented offhandedly to Huntsman as the remaining Beartics took stock of this new development and attempted to clean their comrades' gore off of their pristine white fur. It didn't seem to be working all that well; Beartic ichor was viscous and a dark blue, and was notorious for being nearly impossible to clean off of something once it was there. Many a primitive human hunter had battled these creatures in the seas of the frozen north, and often it was only by wounding the beasts and retreating could they see the predator's next assault coming, the color of its blood effectively ruining its Snow Cloak ability.
"Eeyup." Huntsman replied dryly, tossing his combat rifles aside in favor of Nash's heavy rifle, lying discarded near his feet. Of course, instead of waiting for the unwieldy hunk of alloy and ceramic to warm up and begin targeting, he took hold of the barrel in his armored hands and proceeded to wield the thing like a medieval mace, flailing about at the nearest bipedal ursa with brutal efficiency. The Beartic, responding in typical Beartic fashion, froze Huntsman's armor in mid-swing with its icy breath and ripped open his faceplate, glaring at the smaller human before the massive beast tore out his face with a paw, crushing his skull inside his helm and sticking the torn flesh and skin onto its icy beard in some kind of macabre decoration. One of the other Beartic seemed to find this hilarious, its guffaws slowing its movements as it reached for Garcia only to be rebuffed by an uppercut followed by a twenty five centimeter-long monomolecular blade being shoved into its sternum. The creature bellowed in pain and rage, staggering back a few steps and taking Garcia's knife with him before launching an icy blast of freezing energy from its maw and ripping the blade out of his body with a savage motion, dropping the melee weapon disdainfully and charging his foe full-force, only to be met on equal terms by the Lairon armor's reinforced exoskeleton, giving the soldier enough brute strength to hold his own against the much larger Pokemon.
"How the fuck do they know about the faceplates?" Menkov's first words since being ejected from the battle was a question he would have paid quite a lot of money (certainly, at his current rate of pay, an amount he never would have been able to actually procure, regardless of however good his credit was) to have answered. Hauling himself up from the pile of snow, he noticed that his Psylink antenna was snapped in two; with it went any further assistance that Metagross could have provided the humans. Garcia was too busy to issue a response; he was pinned to the ground in a death roll with his opposite, and the two were so busy trying to kill each other they didn't notice the mountain's edge until they had been free-falling for a good ten meters or so, by which time it was too late and the pair came to an understanding that this was just how things worked and it was nothing personal, so all things considered it had been pleasant working with each other.
That's how an idiot would put it. In reality, the pair kept smashing each other's vital points (in Garcia's case, the Beartic was attempting to strike at the Lairon armor's vital point) with their fists (or in the Beartic's case, paws) until impact, upon which the Beartic made an excellently satisfying squishing noise, and Garcia wasn't splattered so much as he was liquefied from the inside due to a lack of impact mitigation in the armor's design. Menkov made another mental note to alert the engineers to their lack of foresight. He then made an addendum to that note to beat the living shit out of those engineers once he'd alerted them to the exosuit's failings. (It is interesting to note that this is the first recorded combat situation in which the I305 "Lairon" Mobile Infantry Self-Contained Pressurized Environmental Combat Survival Exoskeleton is mentioned. Could Menkov's team have been beta-testing prototypes? The deliberate mention of the officer's need to inform military engineers of the armor's performance in real-world combat situations – something only done by Research and Development agencies – lends some credibility to this theory.)
Now there was only Menkov and a single Beartic left. The squad's vitals monitoring subroutine in Krieg's suit was still working, ironically, and a tiny window opened on the corner of Menkov's HUD, alerting him that his suit was performing first aid and trauma prevention by injecting a cocktail of chemicals and adrenaline into his bloodstream. It wasn't the best method of fixing a soldier up, but often it kept a man fighting for hours when normally he would have died of his wounds. The Beartic let loose a long breath over its claws, adding more mass to its already deadly weapons. As Menkov drew his own combat knife, he looked down at his broken A385. The durable polymer composite had been crushed under the weight of Menkov's armor, making it useless as anything but a very large doorstop, and even that function was questionable at this point. Menkov would mourn for his firearm later. Right now there was a Beartic to-
Speaking of Beartics, Menkov's opponent suffered no illusions of chivalry and while the soldier's gaze was elsewhere, the Pokemon wasted no time in rushing the human and striking at his torso with an icy fist, the force being enough to knock the officer back down again, but at a cost. Though the Lairon armor was unmarked, the Beartic's rime-covered paw had been shattered by the force of the impact. The creature's entire arm now hung limp, and had it not been in a battle to the death, it might have even whimpered or cried out in pain. Menkov slowly got back up, edging around his foe and warily taking stock of the new development. He was no worse for wear, thankfully – for once, the Lairon had served its intended purpose.
"Found out we humans aren't so squishy anymore, huh? Ain't that a bitch. Now it's my turn." Menkov's voice emanated from an external speaker located in a recess of his helmet for his opponent to hear, the taunt only serving to make the Beartic cease the clutching of its shattered arm and growl menacingly at Menkov, who didn't seem to be phased by the intimidation tactic. (Military reviewers later determined that the Lairon armor's video recording of the ensuing battle between Lieutenant Menkov and the Beartic alpha was so graphic, that it was ordered never to be released with the rest of his report to the general staff. Indeed, my sources have failed to locate the file in any government database, official or clandestine. I apologize for my failure here and beg your pardon. The report does continue some time later, however, but I understand that you have important business to attend to. This terminal will now initiate hibernation and await your return, [NAME REDACTED UNDER NATIONAL SECRETS ACT].)
-ECCESIASTICAL THOUGHT OF THE DAY-
Serve the Twin-Souled and Your Rewards are Many. Resist Them, and Only the Void Awaits You.