The world of Pokémon.
This world is inhabited by a number of creatures collectively known as Pokémon. There are many mysteries surrounding Pokémon, from their origins to how each kind lives in tandem with others. There are more kinds of Pokémon than any one person can discover, from the lowliest Caterpie to the mysterious rulers of the elements that reside only in legends. Many have tried to uncover these mysteries, and have dedicated their lives to making discoveries. There persistent souls have earned themselves the titles of 'Pokémon Professors', authorities in the ways of Pokémon.
The greatest authority on Pokémon is Professor Oak, widely known for his ambitious goal of cataloguing every known Pokémon in the world. In order to know everything about the world of Pokémon and every creature residing in it, the history of this world must be known, and that is why this chronicle exists.
My identity is of no importance in this tale. As such, I will never reveal it. All that matters is that the truth of these events are made known, and that they help every Pokémon researcher who aspires to learn all there is to this world. All the events described within these pages are the truth, though a number of those involved may deny their part in it or refuse to believe it even transpired.
Four years before this story began, Professor Oak entrusted two trainers with his magnificent creation, the Pokédex, the Pokémon cataloguing machine: his grandson, Blue Oak, and Red, another resident Pokémon Trainer in his home of Pallet Town. Both Red and Blue were confronted by the villainous Team Rocket, a dastardly organization led by the Viridian City Gym Leader, Giovanni. Team Rocket was taken down by these two young men and its leader vanished into legend, the organization falling apart in the process. Red and Blue ascended to the Pokémon League and reigned as Champions before each went their own way into the world of Pokémon.
But this isn't their story, no matter how large a role they played in it.
This story started three years before even that, when the marvelous Pokédex was only a vision in the Professor's mind. This story started with death and sadness, an event that set in motion the wheel of destiny for two young children residing in this world, changing their lives forever…
The story of the Greatest Pokémon Trainer in the World.
Part 1: Revival of a Legend
At the age of 14, Max was known by many as 'the Greatest Pokémon Trainer in the World'. It wasn't a title he was particularly fond of, but it seemed to follow him everywhere he went, so he grudgingly accepted it. He could never understand why. Some people told him it was because he was a great battler, never having lost a fight once. Others said it was because he loved his Pokémon, and received their love and respect in return. Still others said he was kind and courteous to everyone he met, making him the paragon of Pokémon Trainers around the world. Whatever the reason, Max never saw how he was different from anyone else. The way he acted was only natural to him.
Above all else, family was the most important thing to him. His Pokémon were part of his family, and he treated them as such. From his starter, who had evolved up to a Typhlosion, to the few Pokémon he rotated into his team from home, each one had been inaugurated into the family by the other members, his mother and his little sister.
Max loved his little sister, Alex, the most. She was a sweet, innocent little girl who radiated affection and passed her cheery mood onto anyone she met. She loved her brother with the same intense love that she shared for his Pokémon, making them into her friends and keeping them company while Max was out training. When he came home, she would run over to him with a smile and hug him tightly, and she would do the same any time he had to leave.
Max was the father of the family. He brought in the money they needed to take care of themselves and made sure they were cared for. Whenever someone inquired about where his father was, Max would reply hostilely "It doesn't matter. He's long gone." He hated his father with an intensity that no one, not even his mother, understood. But Max's reason for hating his father was legitimate.
One morning, Max woke to his usually 'at home' routine, his little sister jumping up and down on his bed. "Wake! Up!" she shouted happily, punctuating her sentences with a jarring bounce off his mattress. "Wake! Up! Max!"
Sitting up groggily, Max brushed his unruly black hair off his face and grabbed his sister mid-bounce, scooping her up around the waist and crawling out of bed with her under his arm. She squealed and laughed loudly all the way downstairs, their mother poking her towel-wrapped head out the bathroom door to watch them with a smile.
"Don't drop her, Max," she called out affectionately after her children before she disappeared to finish her morning bathroom adventure.
Max chuckled at the thought, placing little Alex back on her feet when he hit the bottom of the staircase, where she laughed and grabbed a hold of his leg. With a roll of his eyes, he hobbled into the kitchen, dragging her along with him as he attempted to make breakfast. As soon as they crossed the kitchen's boundaries, Alex ran off into the front room, where Max's Typhlosion was sleeping. It opened one eye when she sat down next to it, looking at it expectantly, before it let out an approving rumble and rolled onto its side, letting the little girl curl up against its warn stomach.
The touching scene was interrupted when Max's PokéGear, his effective cell phone, rang loudly. Max looked over his shoulder at it and chose to ignore it, knowing it was probably some kind of junk telemarketer that had no right calling so early in the morning. It kept ringing, though, until Alex picked it up and handed it to him, tugging lightly on his pajamas. "It's for you," she said simply, holding it up to him.
Reluctantly, Max picked it up. "Hello?" His blood instantly froze in his veins when he heard the voice on the other end, one he had hoped never to hear again.
"I have a job for you."
"I'm not doing anything else for you. Stop calling me."
"You won't help me?"
"Never again. I'm hanging up."
"Then you won't mind me using her in your place."
Max barely caught the words, already preparing to hang up, but his thumb stopped before he could press anything. He glanced a quick look at Alex, who had resumed cuddling his motherly Typhlosion before he turned back to the phone. "Why are you doing this?"
"I'll call you in half an hour with the location. Be there by tomorrow morning, or I'll be coming over there to get her."
"I'll be there, don't you worry about that." He hung up and slammed his phone down on the table with such force that Alex, Typhlosion, and his mother, who had just walked into the kitchen, nearly jumped out of their skins.
"What was that about?" his mother asked calmly, trying to read his face.
Max looked up at her, composing himself again. "Sorry. I'm going out for a while. I have to get ready. Typhlosion," he called, its head lifting off the floor to stare at him, "gear up. We're leaving." It yawned and stood up, Alex dropping onto her back with a giggle as the large Pokémon ambled over to stand at the door.
Fifteen minutes later, Max bounded down the stairs, bag thrown over one shoulder. He grabbed his PokéGear off the table, where his mother was laying out breakfast, and then turned to the door, stopping when he felt a hand tug on the bottom of his shorts.
"Max…" Alex stared up at him with her innocent eyes before she wrapped herself around his leg, hugging him tightly.
He carefully pried her grip off him and crouched down, hugging her properly. "Don't worry, Alex. I'll be back before you know it. Okay?"
"Promise?" she asked, her dark eyes meeting his brown ones.
"Promise," he replied with a smile, hugging her once last time before he left, waving behind him as he shut the door.
Max never broke promises to his family, but this one was promise he knew he could never keep. Unfortunately, he was right.
Alex woke to the sunlight streaming in through her bedroom window, a bright beam of yellow light casting itself across her face. She rolled, grumbling profanities, trying to find a way to keep it off her face before throwing her second pillow over her face and curling up under the sheets. That, too, failed her.
"Alex! Time to wake up!" her mother called from downstairs.
Alex groaned and pulled the pillow down over her head. "Gimme five more minnees…" she groaned. "Don' wanna geddup…"
"You'll be late if you don't get up right now!"
At those words, Alex sat up with a yawn and tossed her pillow at the window, watching it bounce harmlessly off the curtains and land wedged in the gap between the wall and her bed. She tossed the covers off and grumbled her way down the hall to the bathroom. She brushed out her long black hair while glaring furiously at her reflection, the dark bags under her eyes making her look like she was being haunted by a ghost Pokémon. When she was done, she dashed down to her room and hurried to get dressed.
The clothes she had pulled out the night before were lying on the chair next to her bed, thickly coated in dust from the attic. They had been stuffed in boxes for the past seven years, thrown up in the only storage space they had. She threw them on piece by piece, the dark t-shirt and shorts way too baggy on her skinny female form. The sweater was even bigger than the shirt, almost hiding the shorts altogether. She tucked her hair up under the cap, twisting it around so the peak was out of her face. When she returned to the bathroom in her new uniform, she could still see her thin face staring back at her, almost hidden in her disguise. The baggy clothes hid her hardly recognizable curves from sight, and her head was transformed underneath the hat.
Satisfied, she slid down the banister and swung around the corner, calling out "I'll be back later!" to her mother before sneaking out the back door.
New Bark Town was a quiet residential town on the outskirts of the Johto Region, the second region to be inhabited in the world of Pokémon. Though most of the region had been industrialized, New Bark Town was quiet and untouched - for the most part - by human technologies. The most technologically advanced things in town were the hydroelectric windmill and Professor Elm's lab, both of which were located across town from Alex's house.
She snuck through the undergrowth, her legs getting scratched on the unruly plants in the backyard they never used. She winded her way through the forest her house backed on to until she emerged into the town square, watching the little kids chasing a Mareep while their parents watched on, drinking tea and enjoying the warm summer weather. They waved a greeting to Alex, one that told her they didn't recognize her, and she threw one back warmly as she strolled across towards the lab.
Professor Elm had put an ad in the paper a week before, calling for someone to assist him in his research, and Alex had answered the call, posing as a boy. Elm, being oblivious to anything not related to Pokémon, hadn't realized he was being called by one of his neighbors and had told her to come to his lab. Now in disguise, she was going to meet him, wondering absently what he wanted her help with, though she didn't really care. All she wanted was a way to get out of town.
The lab was all the way across town, a large house with two metallic extensions protruding out of the back, each one more expansive than the last. Though she had never been inside, Alex figured the inside was as unkempt as the outside, weeds growing up around the front door as though the building had been abandoned for years. As she walked closer, she noticed she wasn't alone. A young man her age was standing in the shadow of the trees, easily camouflaging into the darkness. She won't have noticed him if his hair hadn't given him away, a startling shade of red that was impossible to hide. She crept over and watched him for a moment, wondering what he was doing.
He was a serious young man, his face contorted into a tight scowl that extended down to the rest of his body, from his rigid stance to his crossed arms. His eyes were glued angrily at the lab building, but he quickly noticed her and directed his red glare at her. "What do you what?" Before she could get in a reply, she shoved her shoulders roughly. "Get out of my face," he snapped, turning to disappear into the trees.
Alex watching him off bitterly. 'What a jerk,' she mused before returning to her task and entering the lab.
The inside of the lab was poorly lit, most of it obscured by bookcases and stacks of files. She wandered amongst the clutter, stepping deftly over boxes strewn across the only visible pathway. The shelves were lined with books written by different Pokémon Professors, a number of them authored by Elm himself, some hold sheets of paper that stuck out of them like lazy bookmarks. Finally, she stumbled into the only open space in the lab, the furthest area back from the from the front door, where the mess seemed to gravitate away from. A large machine sat in one corner, a computer terminal next to it that ran like a car motor on its last legs. A few bookshelves lined the walls, these much emptier than their counterparts. A large table sat in the middle of the room, over which the elusive Professor was hunched, his back to the door.
"Professor Elm?" Alex asked, trying to get his attention. She spoke in a lower tone, hoping it made her sound like a boy and not a girl trying to throw her voice.
The Professor spun around and adjusted his glasses, a smile lighting up his face. "Ah, good morning. You must be Alex. I've been waiting for you."
"Hopefully not too long," she mumbled, hoping she wasn't late. She hadn't checked the time before she left.
"No, no. I'm just glad you're here. The task I have for you is a very simple one, though I'm not sure if you're up for it…"
Alex frowned. "Trust me, Professor, I can handle it."
Elm's smile brightened. "That's good to hear! Confidence is the best thing a trainer can have. What I want to ask of you is this: I want you to raise one of the Pokémon I have here in my lab. Train it well. All I want is for you to check in with me regularly so I can track its progress and see how Pokémon work in conjunction with people. My research hasn't been going well, since I've been here in the-" A loud beeping from the computer broke the relative silence. "Oh, mail. Excuse me for a moment."
As Elm clambered over the mess to his computer, Alex approached the table and took a look at the three Pokéballs, her heart soaring when she saw the Pokémon inside. The Pokéball on the left contained a little green creature with a leaf on its head, a Chikorita. The one on the left had a small blue crocodile that stood on its hind legs, a Totodile. Alex, however, took the Pokéball in the middle, hefting it in one hand to look at the Pokémon inside, a small mouse-like creature with a long nose, dark fur lining its back.
Alex looked over at Elm, who was walking back through the mess towards her. "Yup. I'll take the Cyndaquil."
"Cyndaquil are notoriously stubborn and one of the hardest Pokémon to train. Are you sure?"
Elm shrugged. "If you say so. While you're here, I'd like to ask a favor of you, if you don't mind."
"What is it?" After he was giving her a Pokémon for next to nothing, she figured she couldn't refuse. "I'd be happy to help."
"I have a friend who lives just north of Cherrygrove who goes by the name of Mr. Pokémon. He says he has something to give me, but as you can see…" he gestured at the papers around him, "I can't possibly leave. Take that Pokémon and see what he has for me, and then bring it back here. Not too hard, is it?"
Alex smiled. "Piece of cake."
"Oh, but before you go, I should give you my number." Elm held his hand out and Alex gave him her PokéGear, watching nervously as he punched in his number. The PokeGear made her nervous, one of the other things she had borrowed from her brother's things. When he handed it back, she stuffed it in her pocket and headed out, wishing the Professor good luck in his research before she traversed the path out of the lab and took off back home.
She was so excited to show her mother her Pokémon that she didn't notice the glaring red eyes following her from the shadow of the trees.
When Alex snuck in the back door, the scent of her mother's cooking flooded into her nose and she let out a contented sigh, wiping her muddy feet on the doormat before she walked into the kitchen. "Smells good," she commented idly.
Her mother jumped and spun around, eyes wide until she realized she was looking at her daughter. "You scared me, Alex. Please don't do that." Liane was a beautiful woman, silky black hair framing her thin face and high cheekbones, her eyes the same dark black as Alex's. She was still young; many had a hard time believing that she had already had two children at her age. Despite being a single mom for over twenty-two years, she carried herself with the dignity and grace of a respectably married housewife and was a fierce protector of her children. Alex was actually glad that she was willing to let her only child go.
"Don't do what?" she asked, wondering what her mother was talking about.
"You still sound like a boy."
Alex blinked in surprise, unaware that she had still been throwing her voice. "Sorry Mom," she said naturally. "I just came to see about some food for me and my new friend."
"New friend…? Oh, you got your Pokémon!"
"You doubted me?"
"You think too little of Professor Elm. He's a smart man."
"When it comes to Pokémon, Mom. If I thought he'd notice, I wouldn't have tried this."
Liane let out a sigh. "As long as you're sure about this. Just remember to stay safe."
"Of course I will. What could possibly happen?"
"I know what you intend to do, Alex. I'm not blind. Max was involved in something dangerous. I don't want to lose both of you to that danger."
Alex walked over and gave her mother a hug. "I promise I'll be fine, Mom. I'll take care of myself, and my Pokémon will help with that." She stepped back. "Now, do you want to meet it?" With her mother's nod, Alex pulled the Pokéball from her waist and tossed it. "Come on out, Cyndaquil!"
With a light poof of smoke, the Cyndaquil appeared on the kitchen floor, sitting on its little hind legs. It lifted its nose up and looked around, meeting Alex's eyes a second before it turned its head indignantly. "Quil!"
Liane chuckled. "I think it's a boy."
"Stubborn as one," Alex grumbled quietly. She crouched down in front of the Cyndaquil. "Hey there, partner. Nice to meet you."
The Cyndaquil regarded her for a moment before resuming his indignant pose, refusing to look at her. "Cyndaquil!" it snapped, folding its little arms as much as it possibly could. Alex almost let out a laugh, reminded of that serious boy outside the lab and how similar the human and Pokémon were in personality.
"Come on… I'm trying to be nice here…" Alex reached out and tried to touch it, but Cyndaquil turned its back on her and the fur on its back burst into flame, almost burning her hand. She pulled back at the last possible second to avoid injury. "Fine, fine. You don't have to like me just yet. But let's work together, okay?"
Again, Cyndaquil regarded her curiously before returning to its indignant stance.
Liane chuckled. "Are you sure you don't want another Pokémon? I don't think he'll be cooperating with you any time soon. There's still time to return him…"
Cyndaquil turned its indignant look on Liane, who matched its expression. They entered into a staring contest that seemed like it would last forever, but Cyndaquil waved and turned its head away stubbornly.
"He's a stubborn one, but I'm stubborn too. I think we can make a good team if we put in a little effort, and I'm willing to work hard," Alex said. She returned Cyndaquil to his Pokeball, standing up again. "I'd better get going."
"Good luck. Remember to take care."
"One more thing." Liane grabbed a bag off the counter beside her and tossed it to Alex, who caught it, finding it to be heavier than she would have imagined. "Your lunch. I didn't know what your friend would like, so I gave you a bit of everything."
'Mom… I'm not even sure I can carry all this…'
Alex quickly learned that Cyndaquil's uncooperative nature only compounded onto her problems. Her biggest problem was that she had no idea how to battle. That, combined with Cyndaquil's refusal to listen to a word she said, meant that by the time they managed to reach Cherrygrove, both she and her Pokémon were no more of a team and Alex was no closer to improving her skills. 'I wonder… Did Max ever have it this hard…?'
The path north of Cherrygrove was even more of an ordeal. Cyndaquil, deciding that it wanted nothing to do with her, attacked wild Pokémon at random, chasing after them when they tried to run away. Alex spent a good couple hours chasing it through the forest, losing it more than once in the dense underbrush. Each time she lost sight of it, her heart picked up into a nervous thudding in her chest, skipping painfully at every rustle and flash of movement around her. By the time she reached the clearing in the trees, she was out of breath, tired, bruised and scratched. When she saw Cyndaquil waiting for her, she felt like chewing him out for leaving her, but stopped when she saw that it was just as run down as she was. Instead, she sat down next to him.
"We're not a very good team…"
"Quil…" Cyndaquil mumbled in agreement, resting its head on the ground.
"At least we agree on something…" Suddenly, her stomach grumbled loudly and they both looked at it in surprise. Alex chuckled uneasily. "I skipped breakfast."
Cyndaquil let out what sounded like a chuckle before its stomach joined hers, rumbling loudly.
Alex smiled, biting back laughter. "Well, I think we're deserving of a snack." She pulled off her backpack and withdrew her mother's package, unwrapping it carefully. Its contents made Cyndaquil squeak in surprise. "Never tell me my mother doesn't look after me," she smirked, laying it all out. There were four thermoses with varying contents, one of soup, one tea, one of curry, and the last one containing ice cream. There were three lunch boxes included with them, one of rice with a side of vegetables, one filled with meat, and the last with a variety of sweets. Settled on top of the whole thing was a bag of chocolate chip cookies. 'No wonder it was so heavy…'
As she set about organizing the contents in her bag, figuring out which things should be eaten first, Cyndaquil pulled the bag of cookies away and managed to yank one out from the plastic, struggling with its little arms to get one in its mouth. Alex paused to watch as it fumbled and dropped the cookie, trying to pick it up off the ground. It failed again and again, quickly losing its patience with the treat until Alex reached over and held it out to him.
"Here you go." She watched it hesitate, looking her over for ulterior motives. Finally deducing that she was somewhat trustworthy, it grabbed the cookie with its mouth and turned around, plopping down on its backside to eat. Alex watched it, unable to stop smiling. "So, you like cookies, huh? I'll be sure to keep some around, then."
Not having heard anyone approach, Alex jumped and scrambled to her feet, looking around for the source of the voice. She jumped again when she saw the man standing next to her, who hadn't noticed until he had spoken. He was a fairly young-looking man, but she could see the lines under his eyes that betrayed his young face. He was dressed in a black suit, his dark blue hair combed back neatly under his hat. When he saw her reaction, his eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "I apologize for startling you, but you wouldn't happen to be Alex, would you?" he asked politely.
Alex nodded. "Uh… Yes, I am. And I'm guessing you're Mr. Pokémon?"
"Yes, I am. Professor Elm emailed me and told me you were here to pick up my discovery on his behalf, so I've been expecting you."
"The Professor is – quite literally – buried in his research."
Mr. Pokémon laughed. "Sounds like Elm, alright. The man never knows when to stop reading. Come inside; there's someone I think you might like to meet."
Mr. Pokémon walked into the house, leaving Alex to quickly collect her things and stuff them into her bag. When she finished packing, she turned to Cyndaquil. "Are you gonna let me carry you, or do I have to put you back in the ball?" she asked it. Cyndaquil, placated by the snack, nibbled down the rest of the cookie and then regarded her for a moment, finally nodding its head an affirmative. Carefully, she scooped the small Pokémon up in her arms and carried it inside. 'Note to self: always keep cookies on hand.'
Mr. Pokémon's house looked like what a Pokémon Professor's lab should look like, neatly organized stacks of books and paper piled on a bookshelf across the room. There was a massive electrical generator in one corner, which she assumed provided power to the entire house, a precaution to avoid harming the habitats of the wild Pokémon in the area. His computer was set up next to that. There was a table closer to the door, and a man was sitting on a chair beside it, looking at the object placed in its center, what looked like a massive egg that had been painted with red and blue triangular markings. The man himself was dressed casually in a dress shirt and a pair of slacks, but he was wearing a lab coat that gave him an air of authority.
When she stepped over the threshold, the man and Mr. Pokémon were already in conversation. "…which, of course, pertains to his research- Ah, here's our guest," Mr. Pokémon was saying, stopping when he saw her. "This is Alex. He's come on Professor Elm's behalf to pick up my little find."
The man chuckled. "'Little' isn't the word I'd use. This will greatly help Elm in his research. Knowing him, he'll be singing your praises for weeks on end."
"True," Mr. Pokémon smiled. "Alex, I'd like you to meet Professor Oak. He's here visiting me on his way to an engagement of his."
"You're Professor Oak…?" Alex breathed in astonishment, making Cyndaquil look up at her curiously. "The Pokémon Professor, creator of the Pokédex? It's an honor to meet you, sir."
Oak stood up. "No need to be so formal. I'm far too old to be receiving such praise from young people like you. It makes me glad to see new trainers setting out in the world of Pokémon, so the honor is all mine." The Professor looked at her for such a long time that she feared he was going to see through her disguise. Instead, he walked over and handed her something. It was a little red device that flipped open, revealing two dark screens. There was some sort of light on the front, but it remained off. "I believe a trainer should always know what kind of obstacles await them. I want you to have this, the latest version of my Pokédex. I've upgraded its capabilities, so it should be able to record much more information than my previous version. If you don't mind, I'd like you to complete my catalogue of Pokémon for the Johto region while you're out exploring the world of Pokémon."
Alex looked down at the Pokédex and then back up to the Professor's face. "Me?"
"I understand it may seem like a massive undertaking, but I certainly wouldn't want you to rush your journey because of me. Take your time, see all kinds of Pokémon, and then, when you think you've seen as many Pokémon as you can see, come pay me a visit at my lab in Pallet Town. You're young, and the world of Pokémon is vast. I believe that, when the day comes that we meet again, you'll have become a strong trainer. Good luck, Alex." He turned to Mr. Pokémon. "I'd best be going now. I think the radio station won't be too happy if I make them waiting for too long."
"It's always a pleasure to see you, Samuel. Have a safe trip." Mr. Pokémon waved him off and Professor Oak left, closing the door behind him, leaving Alex in a daze where she stood. Mr. Pokémon chuckled warmly. "Good old Oak. He tends to do that to people, dazzle them, recruit them, and then go on his way as if he hadn't done a thing. You certainly have been roped into this, though. Are you going to back out?"
Alex looked down at the Pokédex, running her fingers along its edges and joints. "No, I think I'll help him. I want to see a number of Pokémon, and I think, on this journey of mine, I will. I don't see what harm it would do, carrying this thing around."
"Then I can see that he picked the right person for the job. He always seems to. Oh yes, you came here on an errand. I shouldn't waste your time. Here." Mr. Pokémon grabbed the egg off the table and handed it to her.
She stuffed the Pokédex in her pocket and placed Cyndaquil on the table to take it, feeling its weight in her arms. "It's warm," she mumbled, feeling the heat radiating from it, something akin to a heartbeat pounding against her chest where she held it.
"That, my friend, is a Pokémon egg. I found it on my travels and thought it would help Elm in his research, though no matter that I try, I can't seem to get it to hatch. I would have brought it to him myself, but I have to leave soon as well, and I don't have the time to make a pit stop. I'll ask, of course, that you be extremely careful with it. I don't know how hard the shell is. It would be a shame if something bad were to happen to the Pokémon inside."
Wrapping it up in the cloth, Alex carefully slid the egg into the top of her backpack, making sure that nothing hard would bump or jostle it. When she hoisted it into her back, Cyndaquil jumped nimbly off the table and waddled to the door, indicating that it was time to leave. "I'll be sure to get this back to the Professor without a scratch. Thank you very much."
"Give Elm my regards, and wish him good luck in his research. It was very nice meeting you, Alex. I wish you all the best for your journey."
"Thank you," she said, giving him a bow before she followed Cyndaquil out the door. Before she could reach the trees, however, her PokéGear rang loudly, starling Cyndaquil so much that it hid behind her leg. "It's alright. Just the phone," she assured him, pulling it out of her pocket. "Hel-"
"Alex, it's horrible! An emergency! Oh, why would something like this-!" Elm's voice blared out of the speakers so loud that Alex had to hold it away from her face to even make out what he was saying.
"Professor, I can't-"
"Poor Totodile was stolen! I can't believe this is happening. Please, Alex, hurry back! We need to find it. Please!"
Before Alex could reply, Elm hung up, leaving her listening to the dial tone as she tried to piece together exactly what was going on. 'Someone stole one of Professor Elm's Pokemon? Why would anyone do that?' "Well," she sighed, looking down at Cyndaquil, "ready to go hunt a kidnapper?"
"Quil!" Cyndaquil shouted confidently, the flame on its back flaring. The two of them took off through the trees, making their way back towards Cherrygrove.
As if sensing their urgency, they encountered no wild Pokémon on their flight back to Cherrygrove, skipping hurriedly over ledges and dodging tall grass in their haste. Alex knew time was of the essence, and she applauded both herself and Cyndaquil for keeping such a hurried pace for so long. When she finally vaulted over the last ledge and dashed past the first signpost of the small city's presence, she was gasping for air, her head ducked low to maintain her speed. She rushed blindly until she finally came to a forced halt, crashing headlong into something that sent her toppling backwards. There was another thud that echoed hers, but she didn't look up.
"Craaaap…" Quickly, Alex pulled the bag off her back and unzipped it, checking on the egg. When she saw it was unharmed, she turned her fury on the source of the impact. "Why don't you watch where you're going, you-" she began, but she pulled up short. "You!"
The redheaded boy was already picking himself up off the ground, brushing the dirt off his jeans with a disdainful look at her, turning his glare on Cyndaquil for a moment before their eyes met again and his neutral expression turned to a scowl. "You're the one who should watch where you're going." He made to walk past her, but Cyndaquil stood in his way, the flames on its back flaring angrily. They stared each other down, neither one relenting.
When Alex looked him over, she noticed what Cyndaquil had seen that had enraged him, feeling her own anger at the sight. She hauled herself to her feet, slinging her bag back over shoulder, gripping the straps tightly.
The boy looked over his shoulder at her. "Your Pokémon's in my way. Move it."
"Not until you give back the Pokémon you stole," she replied, matching his icy tone.
He watched her for a moment before pulling the Pokéball from his waist. "If you won't move, I'll make you move."
"I'd like to see you try."
He released his Pokémon from the Pokéball, Totodile's short blue tail swiping back and forth through the air behind him, his teeth clacking together, happy to be freed for the moment. Cyndaquil faced him down, looking a little nervous, trying to hide it under a façade of confidence.
"You ready, partner?" Alex asked Cyndaquil as the two trainers moved into position for the battle. Cyndaquil's only response was what looked like his equivalent of a raised eyebrow, as if he was wondering why she even needed to ask.
The boy took the first move. "Scratch," he called out, and Totodile waddled quickly over to Cyndaquil. Without waiting for a command, Cyndaquil charged at Totodile, receiving a cut across the face from the little blue Pokémon's claws. Cyndaquil staggered back and charged again, but Totodile danced out of the way, swinging its tail around to strike across Cyndaquil's back, sending him sprawling across the ground. Alex could only watch in horror, knowing Cyndaquil won't listen to a word she said.
'What to do, what to do…' She bit her lip, trying to think as Cyndaquil got scratched again. She blinked – once – and suddenly Totodile was lying dizzily on the ground, his trainer glaring across at her as he recalled his Pokémon. '…Huh?'
Max knew that he was dead. There was no other explanation for it when he opened his eyes and found himself standing in the middle of a lake.
"Huh," was all he could manage, staring at the Remoraid and Qwilfish swimming below his translucent feet, not even making a ripple as he shifted his weight back and forth. He recognized the lake from its surroundings, having fished on it a number of times during his life. It was the lake in Cherrygrove, its little island set surrounded by all sorts of underwater plants like a carpet. He felt somewhat at peace, being so close to home, that his mind began to wander, thinking of his mother and sister and how they were doing after his sudden death.
He paused in mid-thought, stuck on something in his mind. He was certainly dead, he reasoned, and knew that he had died, but he couldn't remember how. Something in his mind was sectioned off, like a dam in the flow of his thoughts, blocking him off from the memories of exactly what he'd been doing that got him killed. No matter how much he tried to pull the thoughts out, he couldn't find them.
While his mind wandered, his feet seemed to do the same, pulling him to the shore and through the city itself, watching the people as he emerged from his sea of thoughts and watched everyone around him. He couldn't make out their words or any other sounds, trapped in silence, but he could feel the lives around him, feel the conversations passing through him as he moved. Something was drawing him, pulling him along until he felt something rippling through the air like a shockwave. He was being guided to it source and when he found it, he understood why.
For a moment, Max felt like he was staring into a mirror, looking at someone who looked so much like himself that he was beginning to question if he was actually dead. The image spoke and, though he couldn't hear the words, he felt the familiarity radiating from the slightly less muffled words. "Alex…" He spoke her name but she didn't react to him, invisible in her world as he was, but he could tell it was his sister that he was looking at, though he couldn't fathom why she was wearing his clothes.
She was staring down a very stern-looking young man, and Max could feel his sister's anger and disgust radiating from her in waves. Everything was in waves, like he was trapped in a world of water and sound, though the feeling was not unfamiliar to him. Even the heat from her Cyndaquil's back reached him through the waves of his world. As he watched, Cyndaquil and the boy's Totodile engaged in battle, and Alex's waves changed from fury to frustration, the Cyndaquil's waves of intention completely different from her own.
The realization hit him like a brick wall to the face. "She can't fight. She can't issue orders because she knows he won't listen to her. This isn't good." Without thinking, he draw himself closer to her and reached out to her, trying to think of a way to communicate to her what to do. His fingers reached her shoulders and suddenly he was yanked forward, through her, into her, and the world exploded into sound. He could hear a heartbeat that he had never heard before, hear the sounds of the crowd gathering to spectate the battle, hear the two Pokémon battling it out in front of them. Looking up, he saw the battle playing out before him and realized with a jolt that he felt… very out of place. He looked down and nearly jumped out of his skin. 'I'm… in Alex's body?' But there wasn't any time to worry about that. Cyndaquil twisted and rolled across the ground to avoid another scratch from Totodile's claws, covered in cuts already.
Max concentrated, focusing on Cyndaquil's emotional waves, and then cleared his throat. "Cyndaquil, Smoke Screen!" Much to his surprise, his own voice came out of Alex's mouth, his words clear and concise. Both Cyndaquil and Totodile stopped in their tracks, throwing him looks of mystified attention. Cyndaquil recovered first and let out a little cough before spewing a thick cloud of black smoke that made people in the crowd start choking. Max held the sleeve of his sweater up to his face and breathed through it, both Pokémon and trainers disappearing into the cloud. "Tackle!"
From where Max was standing there was no way of seeing if his command went through, but he concentrated, feeling the emotional waves from within the cloud ebb and flow past him. It was harder to feel them while sharing Alex's body, but he could still feel them, brushing past him. Totodile's waves were nervous, searching through its own muddled senses for its opponent. Cyndaquil's darted around through the cloud, senses clear in its own smoke, its emotional waves spiking in excitement as it located its target and circled it, waiting for the right moment to strike. The cloud was starting to thin and Totodile's senses began to return to it, registering Cyndaquil's presence at the last second before Cyndaquil tackled it from behind, sending it flying across their makeshift arena, skidding to an unconscious halt at its trainer's feet.
With his task done, Max was forced back out from his sister's body, back into the world of stifling silence, watching her confusion about what had happened. "I guess that's all I can do for now. The rest is up to you…"
Alex watched as the redhead recalled his unconscious Pokémon, his scowl deepening even further. She had no idea what she had done, but she certainly saw that it had seriously upset him. She felt sorry for him, suddenly, though she didn't know exactly why.
"You won," he snapped, breaking her out of her reverie as Cyndaquil waddled over to her, head held high in victory. "Are you going to make me give it back now?"
Alex looked at the redhead again, watching him. Something caught her eye and she smiled. "No, I won't. Keep it."
This surprised him, but he didn't comment on it. Instead, he turned to walk away. "Silver."
"That's my name."
"Silver… Mine is Alex."
Silver looked back at her over his shoulder, ever serious. "Alex, hope you never meet me again. Next time, I won't hesitate to cut you down." Stuffing his hands into his pockets, he walked away, leaving Alex and Cyndaquil alone in the street, their audience having dissolved long before.
Cyndaquil butted his head against her leg and she looked down, seeing the sour disappointment on his face. She chuckled sheepishly. "Sorry. You wanted to get Totodile back, didn't you?"
"Quil!" He replied, giving her a single, sharp nod.
"I would have, but there's something about that guy that bothers me. You saw it too, right? The second Pokeball? He has another Pokemon, so why does he need to steal one? We're going to end up running into him again, I know that for sure. I want to see what his motives are, and we can't do that if we stop him here. For now, we'll let him go." She gave Cyndaquil a smile. "Come on. Professor Elm will be shitting bricks by now."