In one universe, a young man turned on a Nintendo DS. For the most part, he had no idea that there were other dimensions. People talked about the possibility, but it never really dawned on him that somewhere beyond the invisible boundaries that separated his world from any other, there were other people in other countries – other Englands, other Japans, other wherevers – living completely ordinary lives according to their definitions of "ordinary." It never crossed his mind with any significant frequency that in those other universes, there could be another him living out his fantasy life.

To him, things were clear-cut. Pokémon was a video game. He was a clerk at a local convenience store. His destiny involved completely mundane things like filing papers and addressing as "sir" men in a fancier suits than anything he could ever hope to own.

This young man's name was Lewis. He had a last name, but he hated it just slightly more than his first. As that implies, he also never really cared much for his first name, so perhaps it would be best to refer to him by what he calls himself in the context of the internet, D—

Lewis sneezed.

…Perhaps not, then.

In any case, this young man would soon be very important to the story.

I wouldn't bother bringing him up if he wasn't, now, would I?

In another universe, the time was precisely 4:38 in the morning. This was important to know because 4:38 is generally a time when most people would expect to be fast asleep, when even the self-proclaimed nocturnal creatures and victims of insomnia have called it a night, and when night clubs have closed down more than an hour ago. In some parts of the world, the sun might even be rising, and for the most part, in Vermilion City, the streets tend to be quiet at that hour.

But not the night before Everything – Everything, that is, with a capital E – started.

Down one empty street after another, two shadows ran. One of them was a young man dressed completely in black, including a stylish, black hoodie to hide his raven-black hair. The other was a green espeon that ran alongside him. Together, the two of them darted down seemingly random paths, turning corners here and barreling straight through intersections there. Every so often, the human would look over his shoulder with his wide, blue eyes scanning frantically for a phantom pursuer.

It was probably because of this that he didn't notice anything amiss about a new path he took. His espeon stopped short. One of its paws raised in the air as its ears twitched wildly. Meanwhile, its master stepped onto solid ice, and realizing belatedly that the surface beneath his feet was no longer solid concrete, he slipped and careened across several slick, frozen yards into a brick wall at the end of an alley. The espeon opened its mouth to cry out, but before it could utter a sound, a shadow descended on it and swallowed it whole.

Groaning, the human pulled himself off his side until he sat up. He winced, clutching the arm he landed on as he looked up into the dark sky. In front of him, another figure perched on the back of a blastoise as it carried her carefully across the ice. Although most of her form was hidden by the darkness of the alley, her victim could still somehow see her smile – a long, thin cut in black. He shivered, pressing harder against the wall as his good hand fumbled for the balls clipped to his belt. At the same time, the girl drew something from a holster at her hip. He could see the glinting metal of a gun's barrel as she raised it and pointed it directly at him.

Just as her finger rested on the trigger, her smile split, and she said only one word to him.


The gunshot didn't wake a single person in Vermilion that night.

In a place that wasn't a universe so much as the space between them, a pair of eyes opened. Then another. Then another. Then thousands. Each of them focused on the second of the two universes. Tentacles shifted as the eyes watched and waited. Their consciousness searched through this world, reaching through every inch of its surface until they rested, hovering over one spot in Kanto. It was here, nestled somewhere in the seemingly peaceful expanses of Pallet Town, that they found what they were looking for.

What they were waiting for.

In the depths of the shadows, a hushed voice filtered through the tangle of beasts, seemingly coming from everywhere all at once to utter three simple words.