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Title, Info, and Chapter of Contents
  • SparklingEspeon

    Up To No Good
    Staff
    Location
    *teleports behind you*
    Pronouns
    She/Her
    Partners
    1. espurr
    2. fennekin
    3. zoroark

    zePWR62.png


    "Legends are positions, not people."

    By day, Ann works as Mew, the glorified secretary for Arceus and the other legends of the High Council. By night, she secretly breaks High Council code to enjoy earth sights with the lower legends. After she and her friend are kidnapped by Team Rocket, Ann is presented with a choice: Work as a spy for Giovanni in the Hall of Origin, or watch her life crumble around her… by Team Rocket’s doing, or the hand of Arceus himself.

    Rated T | Fantasy | Drama | Warnings for blood, choice moments of violence, and heavy themes


    A note from the author:

    I don’t expect this fic to exceed thirty - fifty chapters at most. However, be prepared for chapters much longer than any chapter should be. After the fourth chapter, I will switch to doing mainly “Scenarios”. Any chapter marked “Scenario” functions as its own, mostly self-contained story with a larger plot in the background. These can be treated similar to small novels, a-la Animorphs, and will be in the ballpark of about 20 – 30K each.

    This fic has blood, character death, violence, and heavy themes, but overall I’d like to keep the tone somewhat light we'll see how that goes. Expect something on-par with, again, Animorphs.

    With that out of the way, happy reading!


    Table of Contents:

    Prelude:

    Ann I - Prologue
    Ann I - A Night on The Town
    Ann I - Blackmailed
    Ann I - The Forsaken Scientist
    Ann I - Inconvenient


    Books:

    Sonya I - The Ranger
     
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    Prelude, Ann I -- Opening
  • SparklingEspeon

    Up To No Good
    Staff
    Location
    *teleports behind you*
    Pronouns
    She/Her
    Partners
    1. espurr
    2. fennekin
    3. zoroark
    CrashingFateChapter0Art.png

    Prologue

    The snow whirled outside the den, flurrying with the force of a blizzard. The wind howled in the distance, its screeches whistling through the far-off branches. The inside of the hollow tree kept her safe from the snow, but the chill was pervading. It crept between the bark and splinters of the wood, slipping through her fur and biting at her skin. Espeon weren’t designed for cold – most of her sluggish body was past the point of hurting, and she couldn’t feel the tip of her tail.

    She’d fought hard for the den; when every creature in the forest had known the blizzard was coming, places to nest were taken up and fought over quickly. Defending her home meant she had less energy to forage for anything that could protect her from the winds. What she had gathered was insufficient.

    Curled up within the chilly den, she huddled down tighter in an effort to conserve what little of her body heat remained. Her breath came out in puffs; she could sense it was far below freezing. If she could just tough it out until the morning…

    But something strange happened. The screeching winds suddenly died down, and when she looked back, the snowflakes were suspended in midair. Silence fell over the land outside of her den, leaving nothing but the sound of her own breathing. Even the chill seemed to evaporate, the increase in warmth running through her and thawing her out a little. It was as if time had stopped everything in the world, except for her.

    A sudden white flash outside the den caught the espeon’s eyes. It disappeared as fast as it had come, and when it was gone she felt the wind change. She could sense it: someone was there.

    Something inside her strung her along, urging her to investigate. After all, if everything had stopped except for her, then it meant whoever was outside wanted a word.

    She crept out of her den, marveling at the petals of snow that hung around her. She batted at one, watching how it exploded into powder before her eyes.

    <Legends are positions, not people.>

    The voice made her gasp in fright. It came from everywhere and nowhere at once; she wasn’t even sure if it was sound. She looked around frantically, trying to see where it had come from, but the trees that were still as everything else held no answers for her.

    He descended from above. The bright shine followed him as he floated down, his gold-capped hooves touching the snow with a satisfying plink. Larger than the trees, his body shimmered like a mirage, lighting the area around him in a soft blue glow.

    The espeon tried to stammer out something. It didn’t resemble words. How could it? She couldn’t even string together a coherent thought right now. Not when presented with… all this.

    Arceus deftly stepped forward, and bent over until he could reach the crouching espeon’s level.

    <“Every legend was an ordinary human or pokemon before I lent them a portion of my power,”> he continued in the espeon’s silence. He seemed to be unconcerned with introductions. <“A position is open, and I require a replacement. So I extend my offer now to you: How would you like to become the Legendary Mew?”>

    If the situation had been hard to process before, it was impossible now. The espeon blinked once, then twice, then again.

    “W-what?”

    <“I will allow some time for you to process,”> Arceus rumbled. <“Five minutes should be sufficient.”>

    Five minutes wasn’t sufficient, could never be sufficient, but the espeon put it together after a bit. The shock wasn’t lessened, but it all started to make sense. She’d been… chosen. Chosen. For something. To be… Mew. The Mew. The Mew spoken of in old legends and folktales, the one that appeared next to Arceus on every mythological drawing there was. That Mew.

    And the idea made her legs tremble in excitement, thoughts awash with visions of power and magnificence.

    <“Why… me?”> was all she could ask, awed.

    <“Why not?”> Arceus responded.

    That didn’t feel right.

    <“You had to have a reason,”> she stammered.

    <“My reasons are my own.> Arceus’ demeanor suddenly changed. Before, he had crouched down to meet her at her level. Now, he stood tall, foreboding. She found herself shrinking back by instinct. Something about it put her off. <”Do you doubt my judgement?”>

    Still crouched back in fear, the espeon shook her head.

    <“I require an answer from you now,”> Arceus boomed, and the sky seemed to darken with his words. <”Will you take my offer? Remember that this is once in your lifetime. Millions will live and die without ever being presented with an opportunity such as this.>

    <”Or would you rather return to what must be a certain death within this blizzard?”>
    He added with a rueful tone. <This would be a waste of talent.>

    That struck something into her like nothing else did. This being… he was mocking her. Acting like she wouldn’t take it. Acting like she was too weak.

    <”Five minutes have passed,”> boomed Arceus. <”Answer me now or answer me never.”>

    <”I accept,”> the espeon said firmly.

    <“Your final decision?”> Arceus asked.

    <I accept,”> she said again.

    <”Louder. With more conviction.”>

    <“I accept!”> the espeon shouted, loud enough to match Arceus in volume.

    A solemn expression overtook Arceus’ face.

    <“Then so be it.”>

    A stamp of Arceus’ hooves into the ground below, and bright, colorful streams of power swirled out of his chest. It materialized into the form of a radiant pink orb that floated above the ground in front of the espeon. She squinted; it was too bright for her to look at in the middle of the night.

    <“Make contact with the orb.”>

    At that moment, with the deep pink, shining orb as large as she was floating right before her, it struck Espeon Ann as how crazy this was. Maybe it was all some kind of fever dream, something she’d made up to convince herself there was a way out. Maybe she’d already frozen to death and this was her dying hallucination.

    But she padded forward, feeling the power ripple out against her. And taking a leap of faith, lowered her face against it until her forehead and nose touched.

    The orb began to shine brightly, so bright she had to shut her eyes, and then a flash of radiant pink burned through her eyelids.


    \|R|/

    It storms. A fierce tropical system that will not hit any large landmass but sends sheets of rain down towards the water below. Thunder rumbles through the distance, low and mighty through the rough, churning sea.

    The chopper flies over the waves, through walls of ice-cold sleet. Rain buffets the roof of the helicopter like bullets, but the man sitting in the back seat isn’t perturbed. He hasn’t been for a while. He wears a suit for the occasion, and a trenchcoat for the rain. Half of his head is covered by a fedora. He looks up; his eyes catch light from under the brim.

    One of the helicopter pilots turns back in his seat to face the man. A red “R” is emblazoned upon the pilot’s helmet.

    “Sir, we’re approaching our destination.”

    “Duly noted,” says Giovanni, sitting comfortably in his seat with black-gloved hands in his lap. He says nothing else.

    The helicopter comes to a swift landing at the bank of a vast cliff. The rolling grass fields wildly flurry every which way from the wind. Giovanni disembarks from the helicopter and confidently strides across, keeping hold of his fedora as he walks towards a large, chrome spire in the distance.


    NEW ISLAND ~ THREE YEARS LATER

    zvJ73yF.png

    The doors of the building slide open with a hydraulic hiss as Giovanni walks in. A barrage of rain and wind is sealed outside when they close.

    “Mr. Boss, sir!” The two scientists at the door immediately straighten up and give him the salute of Team Rocket: one fist against their heart. Giovanni silently acknowledges it and strides further into the building.

    Soon, a frazzled-looking man wearing a lab coat scurries out to meet him. He sports long, wavy hear, a goatee, and looks like he’s been existing purely on coffee for the last twelve days.

    “Mr. Giovanni, sir,” he acknowledges, bowing his head in respect, but he doesn’t salute. “Y-you didn’t have to come all this way. There’s a storm out, you know?” laughing nervously, he gestures to one of the windows, where the furious rain can be seen but barely heard.

    “I’ve come to check up on my investment,” says Giovanni. “I have been told you’ve been running frequent tests here. Allow me to sit in on a few.”

    That’s enough to make the man look more than a little nervous. But he nods, and waves Giovanni after him. “This way, please.

    “Now, keep in mind, all those frequent tests we’ve been running…”

    The man leads Giovanni into a large chamber, where last-minute preparations are being performed on a complex, white machine as tall as two stories. “They’re not exactly indicative of success. M-more the opposite. We’ve been attempting the process with several strand types of DNA, and with each test the available pool of eligibility for a successful experiment narrows and narrows. Luckily! Luckily, we are about to perform the final one of these tests right now…”

    They walk up metal scaffolding stairs into a compartment with a large glass window and an overhead view of the experiment.

    “Sit right here,” the man says, pointing Giovanni to a cushioned spectator’s seat, and then hands him a pair of sunglasses. “You’ll want these.”

    Wordlessly, Giovanni sits, putting the sunglasses on. He’s expecting to be impressed.

    The man dons his own pair of sunglasses, then walks up to the front of the glass compartment and speaks into an earpiece: “Are we ready?”

    “All systems are online, sir,” comes the response.

    The man nods, then switches on a microphone wired into the floor. His voice blasts out into an intercom down below.

    “Prepare to commence experiment number 0034 in T-minus 30 seconds and counting.” The man straightens up, and suddenly it’s like he’s a whole new person. He pulls out a silver, slightly rusted pocketwatch, and keeps the time with it. When the seconds count down to ten, he begins to count down with them.

    “Ten. Nine. Seven. Six…” The countdown blares out into the room below.

    The machine begins to stir, filling the room with a deafening whir. Countless transparent wires and tubes all around the room suddenly shine with pure white energy, all converging into the glass tank in the middle. The room Giovanni is sitting in begins to tremble, and so does the building around them.

    The light suddenly becomes too bright for either of them to look at. Giovanni is forced to shield his eyes, even through the sunglasses.

    When it fades, the machine has stirred down, and the whirring fades out. The glass chamber is empty, except for a single bulbasaur that lies in the tank. Unmoving. It is immediately swarmed by scientists, who hook it up to wires and check its vitals and brainwaves.

    “Status?” the man askes into the microphone.

    “Perfectly healthy,” a voice responds back. “Just like all the others.”

    “Brainwaves?” the man presses. The response comes back, more hesitant.

    “Vitals and nothing else, sir. Just like all the others.”

    The man sighs, gazing intently at the glass. Giovanni surveys the scene. An expression of interest has broken his normally cold face.

    “What do you need?”

    The man looks back. Giovanni gets up from his seat, and walks over until he is right next to the man. “What do you need to make it work?”

    The question is insignificant; whatever Doctor Fuji needs, it’s a drop in the bucket. The payoff will be worth ten times the amount of money sunk into this project anyway. The successful harnessing of Infinity Energy he has witnessed today has proven that.

    Doctor Fuji sighs, his hand around his chin and goatee. He utters his next words carefully:

    “This experiment showed us that we can replicate a body from scratch, but not a consciousness. That will need to be grown naturally, and it will need a specific gene group to substantiate it.”

    “What do you need.”

    Dr. Fuji stares at the window for a bit, then turns to Giovanni. He can only bear to face Giovanni’s boots.

    “In order to create what you are asking me for, I will need a strand of DNA from a Legend. It’s the only thing capable of sustaining that much infinity energy.”

    “Done.”

    Fuji looks up in genuine surprise, but Giovanni’s face betrays nothing.

    “Y-you can get me that?” he asks incredulously, some of his former stutter coming back into his voice.

    “The next time I visit this island, I will have your DNA supplied for you,” Giovanni says. “I am impressed with what I am seeing, Doctor Fuji. Continue impressing me.”

    Like businessmen, they shake hands. The gesture is cold and means nothing.

    “H-have a safe trip back,” Fuji offers in a halfhearted attempt to end on a warmer note, but Giovanni is already walking away.
     
    Last edited:
    Prelude, Ann I - A Night on The Town
  • SparklingEspeon

    Up To No Good
    Staff
    Location
    *teleports behind you*
    Pronouns
    She/Her
    Partners
    1. espurr
    2. fennekin
    3. zoroark
    A Note: Thanks to Pen for helping out with this chapter!

    “With great power comes great responsibility.”
    .
    .
    .

    CrashingFateChapterOneArt.png


    01.

    A NIGHT ON THE TOWN

    .
    .
    .
    Teleportation was one of those things that had lost its magic over the years. For instance, before this job, I dreamed about being able to teleport. Now I actively wish I didn’t dream about it, because teleporting feels like flushing yourself down a toilet. Way to flush my dreams, property of transference of energy.

    I pulled out from a shelf a glossy orange folder for Victini, which I should really keep more around of, and held out my free arm. A rolled-up paper bound with a ribbon the color of the folder zipped towards me. I caught it effortlessly, then opened it. It was a probation order. It looked like Victor “Vic” Victini was going to be spending another week as a growlithe, and I would have to be the one who did the dirty deed. I sighed. He was getting probated for the exact same thing he got probated for two months ago. He could at least try to be a bit more careful.

    Glimmers of white power surrounded me, and one toilet flush later I was in the neighboring region of Unova.

    My first breath of the ambient dust and must from the hotel room hit me like a hyper rydon covered in stun spores. Hotels in Unova didn’t housekeep very well… although, it was league season, and on second glance this looked more like a shabby attic than a motel room. Almost too much like an attic.

    I didn’t know the motels here were like the ones in Johto. I’d have to note that down for later.

    <“Ann!”>

    Victor “Vic” Victini flew out from behind a few dusty boxes that had been set up like a victini-sized bed, zipping up towards me with a nervous look on his face.

    <“Fancy seeing you here,”> he laughed. <“What pushed you to drop by?”>

    <“Wanna guess?”>

    I held up the glossy orange folder, giving him the blankest face I could muster. We’d been through this enough times that he knew exactly what that meant.

    <“Aww, seriously?”> he complained, thrusting his arms. <“But it was just an accident! I can’t be faulted for that!”>

    <“Come on, Vic, you know the rules,”> I said, sighing in defeat. <“I know you get worked up over these things, but… this isn’t the first time.”>

    ‘Worked up’ was an understatement. Vic’s job was to keep the energy levels in check whenever one of the Titans that slumbered beneath the earth disrupted the world’s power balance, but he’d always been a big follower of the various Pokemon League tournaments on the side. Which made him pretty easy to find, since there was almost always one league going on at any point in time. He had the bad habit of getting too invested in the moment and accidentally infusing the pokemon he was rooting for with extra energy boosts, which led to that team getting disqualified from the tournament when they tripped the League’s energy checks. They had implemented a whole new energy tracking system just because of him.

    <“Surely we can work something out!”> Vic exclaimed, zipping around me in anxious circles. <“I don’t wanna spend the rest of the day as a growlithe!”>

    I didn’t have the heart to say he’d be spending an entire week as a growlithe, not just the remainder of this day.

    <“None of us do; that’s why it’s probation,”> I said. <“At least the League will have no reason to suspect you as a growlithe when they go around looking for the troublemaker. Remember what happened last time?”>

    Don’t ask what happened last time. I’ll just say that I had to get Uxie to very forcefully suggest an entire squad of armed policemen forget everything they had seen that day, and leave it there.

    Vic couldn’t argue that, and just from the look on his face I could tell he knew it. He huffed, folded his arms, and hung his head, awaiting punishment.

    <“Just do it.”>

    I held my free paw out towards him, watching radiant light gather around it. The room flashed bright orange, and when the glow dissipated only a growlithe unsteady on four paws stared back up at me.

    <“I hope you’re happy,”> Vic grumbled. The only reaction I could muster was a forlorn shrug, before my body began to light up with the bright light of a Teleport.

    <“Hey, at least teleport me out of the attic,”> the growlithe yipped before I could fully disappear. <“I don’t wanna have to get out of here myself.”>

    <“Come to think of it…”> I looked around, letting the teleport energy dissipate. <“Why are you in an attic? I thought this was some dinky motel in the bad part of town.”>

    <“No-one ever looks in attics,”> Vic said. “Especially not this one. And the humans downstairs make some great food, let me tell you—"

    One flash of light later, and we were on the street outside the house. Vic looked around. “Ehhh…” he said. “Could you drop me off near the river down southwest? The big one.”

    Another flash, and then we were near the river. The place was completely secluded in the middle of a forest. I couldn’t see a house for miles.

    <“That better?”> I asked him.

    <“Yeah,”> Vic said, fluffing up his fur and swatting some of the flies in the area away. <“This is better.”>

    Just before I teleported back to the Hall of Origin, I wondered how he expected to be better off in the forest instead of near an eatery he could pilfer something from, but I didn’t dwell too long on it. Vic and I had known each other for a while. He’d manage. He always did.


    \|M|/

    Everyone tells you that Mew is some magical legend who birthed all pokemon for some terrible reason—which honestly sounds pretty painful, looking at you, Wailord—and helps rule the world from up on high. And if you ever see it or catch a photo of it or pick up its droppings or something then you’re blessed to have even seen a single pink fur from Mew’s sacred hide.

    Turns out, Mew is actually Arceus’ glorified accountant. The equivalent of that secretary in the lounge of every important building who is probably chewing gum and gossiping about you in real time to stay sane. Funny thing, when every memorial ever in history depicts Mew as a joint gig with Arceus. Fat lot of rubbish they’re onto.

    A year or two ago, I was giddy just to do this. To be the High Council’s secretary. Happy, naïve days. Now it’s like a day job you get paid minimum wage for, except you don’t get paid.

    The marble walls and pillars of the Hall of Origin extended upwards and faded away into the morning sky, where the sun reflected off the clouds in the distance and bathed the spacious room in the golden rays of dawn. This was Sinnoh, and we were located at the top of the tallest mountain in the region, because of course we were, so the hall was as chilly as it was empty.

    On a normal day, I’d be zipping around from place to place, doing the High Council’s dirty work like delivering task slips to the lower legends, going out to investigate when the Titans were stirring beneath the earth again, and getting those Sinnoh-brand sticky buns Lugia can’t get enough of, and also can’t get at all because even when he’s in copperjah form, he’s just too big to enter the store. And then the sheer amount of automatically-generated paperwork I had to file away. You could get lost in the Hall of Origin’s Room of Records.

    Today was not a normal day. There was going to be a meeting between the High Council—the actual High Council, not their glorified accountant or something—and I had to make sure everything was spick and span. I blinked into the Hall of Origin with a flash, tossing Vic’s folder on the front desk as I soared past. I’d put that back where it belonged later; I was going to be late!

    There were eight seats on the High Council in total, and I had prim and prepare each one of them. Arceus’ throne had to be polished, dander had to be picked out of three seats, and fur out of two others. And Zapdos was going to want his ‘I’ve been a good bird today’ badge shined.

    I didn’t have any clue why such a meeting was being called out of the blue—I’d only been given a day’s notice, and Arceus hadn’t seen fit to tell me what was going on when I’d asked. Not that he told me much anyway. On a good day, Arceus was aloof; on a bad day I tried not to share a room with him. Most of our interactions boiled down to him giving me a job to do or otherwise instructing me to play messenger rowlet, so it wasn’t a surprise that he’d dropped news of a big meeting on me just a day before it happened.

    The tidying up was done just in time for me to teleport back to the front desk and take a tentative midair seat. The meeting was within ten minutes, so I could expect to see the High Council filing in any minute now.

    They filed into the hall one by one. Lugia had a bowtie and was making his best effort to look dapper, while Moltres, Articuno, and Zapdos all quietly squabbled amongst each other to the side. Solgeleo watched them with something between contempt and annoyance, Lunala was focused on something off in the distance, and Zygarde slithered past with no discernable emotion on its face. If it had a face. Were all those hexagons eyes?

    Then, Arceus descended from the roof. He strode past them all, dwarfing every single other ‘mon in the room.

    Arceus. Sterner than a mountain skidoo, more quiet than a loudred with a serious phobia of sound. It’s mean, but every time I look at him, I imagine an absol that got half a fence stuck to its midsection, and had it encrusted with gems to help stave the embarrassment. I wonder how he sleeps with that thing on. Does he just… take it off? That’s like wearing a crown that’s so big it goes around your waist instead of your forehead.

    Which honestly? Sums up Arceus pretty well. I’ll go with that.

    <“Mew,”> he said. A single word, which to his credit was more than he usually said.

    I floated aside and gestured politely to the stairs. “The meeting room is this way. Follow me.”

    I only knew it was that way because I’d been cleaning it for the past two hours.

    As I led them all up the stairs, Arceus lowered his head down to my level and whispered down: <“You’ll be sitting in. I expect you to take notes.”>

    I nodded, unsure if I could quickly teleport down and grab my notepad before the meeting room closed. “Let me just jot back and get something to write on—"

    <“Would it not be more efficient to teleport?”> Arceus interrupted.

    I took a deep breath and held it in before I could say something I’d regret.

    <“Yes,”> I said, exhaling. <“Yes, it would.”>

    One very pronounced manual trip to my desk and back, and the meeting hall was silent. None of the High Council had said a single thing yet. Their faces were as stern as their beaks and snouts. Zapdos huffed, puffing out his chest where his “I’ve been a good bird today” badge was pinned. I floated to the side with a wry frown, a notepad and pen I’d teleported in floating behind me.

    Then, Arceus saw fit to speak.

    <“As you all know,”> he began. <“Section V of High Council Code prohibits higher legends from interacting with humans entirely. Why? Because humans are ambitious. Their lust for power knows no bounds. If they were to get ahold of even one of the High Council’s orbs, the consequences could be disastrous. This is why the affair before us demands the utmost level of scrutiny.”>

    I suddenly tensed up, my psychic hold around the pen I tightening to the point where it nearly cracked. Did… did Arceus know? Was that why he wanted me to sit in today? I had to fight every instinct not to teleport out of the room at that very moment. Because then he’d definitely know.

    <“It has come to my attention that a human group by the name of “Team Rocket” has been experimenting with Infinity Energy,”> Arceus continued. A wave of relief spread over me. He didn’t know at all. And if he did, it wasn’t his largest priority right now.

    <“I believe they seek to recreate the power of those on the High Council. They will fail, of course.”> He paused for emphasis. I took the pause as an opportunity to quickly scribble everything down.

    <“Nonetheless, we must not continue to become complacent. This human impudence requires immediate correction. Your thoughts.”>

    There were slight murmurs of agreement from the entire council—with the exception of Zygarde, who was perpetually silent and unmoving.

    <“So what’s our first step?”> squawked Moltres, ever-quick to action. <“When do we attack?”>

    <“Assessing the situation is our first step,”> said Solgeleo disdainfully. <“We do not yet know what these humans’ strengths are, nor the best way to punish their arrogance. As such, you must temper your own. Remember you are not invincible.”>

    Moltres puffed out some smoke, but didn’t say anything.

    <“I agree that gathering information should be our first step,”> said Lugia in that obnoxious galarian accent that only existed in television tea parties. <“Assuming we don’t currently know the position of their bases—”> I saw him glance up at Arceus for confirmation <“—Employing Zygarde for this purpose would be most useful.”>

    All heads in the room looked at Zygarde. Zygarde didn’t say anything, but its body glowed once. I hadn’t seen Zygarde in a while, but that probably meant it was in agreement.

    <“Any objections?”> Lugia asked, looking around the room. None came. The silence was punctuated only by my pen’s punctuation.

    <“Then it is decided,”> said Arceus. <“When we next meet in this room again, it will be to decide how best to discipline these arrogant humans. Until then, I expect each and every single one of you to be on your guard for any signs of revolt. Remember the importance of Rule V, and do not underestimate ambitious humans. Are there any questions?”>

    The room was silent, except for the furious scribbling of my pen as I tried to keep up.

    <“Very well,”> Arceus said, noting the silence. <“Meeting is adjourned.”>


    \|M|/

    It had been a long and tiring day, perhaps moreso than others. What Arceus had said in the meeting loomed over my head as I did the rest of my work. In the meantime, I filed the seemingly never-ending flow of paperwork that flowed into the Hall of Origin from all corners of the world: Titan Groudon was shifting in Its slumber, and that meant Mt. Chimney could possibly become an active volcano a few years down the line, there had been a minor boat crash in Alto Mare about a week ago caused by a sudden red blur apparently racing a wingull (naturally), and some idiotic pokemon trainer had broken into Jirachi’s cave and filmed himself hitting Jirachi over the head with a stick until Jirachi woke up and blew him clean out of the cave. The trainer had needed to be hypnotized and mindwiped by Uxie so that he never remembered the experience at all. The camera was destroyed.

    I was running out of favors with Uxie.


    TheRoomOfRecords.png

    Each incident went into its own designated file in its own designated cabinet on its own designated shelf in the Room of Records. Stuff had been filed away here for eons, and the massive districts of shelves extended both ahead into the sunset horizon and down into the mist of Mount Coronet below. I was pretty sure Palkia had some hand in allowing this room to even exist, but like Dialga, Palkia was a Titan, which meant they hadn’t woken from their slumbers in centuries. And I’d need a couple more years at least before I could even find the Palkia section of shelves.

    I flew through the massive corridors full speed ahead, tucking away the folders where they belonged—a maroon cabinet for Groudon, bright red for Cherry, and banana yellow for Jirachi – and then made a direct U-turn for the entrance. It took me almost a full minute flying as fast as I could to make it back to the door. I quickly closed and latched it behind me, shuddering a bit once I had. I would have teleported, but something about the room seemed to counteract it. It just added to the room’s creepiness.

    As magnificent as it looked, the Room of Records was really creepy. There was just something about it that didn’t seem right, like the kind of thing you just know when you walk into a place. If I didn’t know better, I’d say Titan Giratina was hiding somewhere in there. But, I did know better—It was probably all the fog and stuff. And the teleport thing. Yeah.

    Emerging back into the Hall of Origin’s main lobby, I took a look up at the clock and noticed that it was 5:10—I was late! I looked one way, then the other. It didn’t look like anyone was going to object if I left now. Not that anyone else was there, but I wasn’t complaining.

    There were a set of rules that legends on the Legendarian High Council were bound to follow. Most of them were outdated and didn’t apply to me. Rule V was the most important. It stated that none of us were to go down to earth and mingle with humans unless it was completely necessary. We had responsibilities up here, and that meant we were forever barred from living a normal life, or doing any of the thing all those people and pokemon down in the streets got todo. If someone down there got ahold of our powers, the results would be catastrophic. I’d never seen it, but I knew that violating it was an offense of the highest caliber. Arceus had personally stripped legends of their power for disobeying it before.

    So anyway, I teleported out of the Hall of Origin and rematerialized two regions across the world for my night out.

    A human girl leaned against a jeep that was parked right by the road in what was probably the most conspicuous position ever as I teleported into the rendezvous point we’d agreed on. I hadn’t realized we were going to be so close to open territory! I shifted into my non-Mew form—an Espeon—as quick as I could.

    <“Hey, what gives?”> I telepathically broadcasted as I approached the jeep. <“We’re so close to the road—someone could see us here!”>

    “For the record,” Cherry started loudly. “I’ll have you know that no-one comes down the highway at this time of da—”

    A car drove past us, stealing the voice outside of Cherry’s mouth.

    “…Almost no-one comes down the highway at this time of day,” Cherry corrected. “And we are also invisible right now. Behold.”

    I craned my neck to the right, seeing that the entire jeep and the air around it were subtly shimmering. From the other side, not a single soul would know we were there.

    “I’m not that sloppy,” Cherry finished proudly.

    Cherry, otherwise known as Latias, was my one best friend and probably the only reason I hadn’t gone zu-bat crazy working my Mew job. We hit it off two years ago when I popped in for those routine check-ins the Hall of Origin does for most of the lower legends annually and she realized I wasn’t anything like the rest of the High Council.

    Up in the Hall of Origin, I felt out of place. I was like a little kid in a house of full-grown adults, if those adults were century-old stiffs with outdated ideas about everything under the sun and also the sun. Not that I didn’t feel a sense of importance from my Mew job, but down here with people like Cherry and Vic, I could relax and unwind and do things I actually had fun doing. The lower legends just “got” me. So every other week or so, I snuck down here to go out and do silly things with them. It was completely harmless, and we hadn’t been caught yet. As long as I was around to clock in and off, Arceus wasn’t studying me close enough to notice. Though, after that briefing about Team Rocket…

    <“I guess that’s fair,”> I said aloud. With the barrier up, there wasn’t a need to be stealthy. <“Listen, I’ve been thinking… maybe it’s better to call it off today.”>

    “Oh?” Cherry raised an eyebrow, eyes still folded. “Why the change of heart? I thought you were looking forward to today.”

    <“You didn’t hear this from me,”> I said. <“Or at all, actually, Arceus will smite me, but he briefed the entire council today about some group that’s been trying to tap infinity energy. He wants the whole High Council on high alert. And here we are, being…”>

    “So, the same old shtick he’s always had?” Cherry asked. She didn’t sound convinced. “Ooh, you’re a high legend, you can’t leave that shiny floaty palace on the mountain, what if the 0.0001% chance of someone actually seeing you happens? I mean, c’mon, isn’t that what mindwipes are for? That’s your day job.”

    <“Well, I don’t know if you recall, but I have been bribing Uxie a bit too much lately and I cannot mindwipe a whole group if I have to,”> I said. <“And maybe we’ll be fine against them, but we will not be fine when I have to explain to Arceus why he shouldn’t smite us both.”>

    “Just throw Uxie a snorlax-sized candy bar,” Cherry shrugged. “You know Uxie goes crazy for those things. And who says Arceus has to know anything about it?”

    <“He’ll figure it out the moment I don’t show up to clock in the next morning,”> I said.

    “And what are the chances of you not clocking in the next morning?”

    <“0.0001 percent,”> I admitted. I was pretty good at my job.

    “Exactly,” Cherry said. “Look, the way I see it, you’ve griped to me before about how you’re not nearly as powerful or as privileged as those legends on the High Council. That rule should apply to them, not you. You deserve to be doing stuff down here with us. And you should. Don’t let Fence Gogoat spook you out of your night out. Everyone knows he’d jump if he saw a mouse.”

    We both snickered. He would.

    Cherry’s car flew across the forest mountain highway at what I was sure was almost double the speed limit. She was swerving madly, messily drifting around the bends and occasional crossing wild pokemon.

    DrivingToSaffron.png

    <“Are you sure this is safe?”> I asked anxiously, looking out the window where the scenery went by in a blur.

    “It’s legal in Hoenn,” Cherry said, her eyes trained on the road.

    Cherry was just as much a speed demon behind a steering wheel as she was in the air. How she still had a driver’s license was beyond me, although I had seen the stash of unpaid speeding tickets she had overflowing out of her dash compartment once.

    She slowed down once we neared Saffron City and more cars, people, and lights became visible. I was glad; the last thing we needed was to get pulled over for a speeding ticket on our night out.

    Cherry had booked reservations at a fancy restaurant that seated most pokemon. Then, we were going to go see a movie. Or shop. Or just look around the town. We’d decide when we got there.

    <“So what’s it like in Hoenn?”> I asked, trying to make small talk while we were going over the menus. Any region where speed driving was legal had to have a good story or two behind it. The waiter had given us water already, but we hadn’t chosen what to eat yet. I found the pokemon menu somewhat lacking, but didn’t want to draw attention to us in such a public place by requesting the human one. I didn’t need to come back to the paperwork machine in the Hall of Origin spitting out a file on me I would have to destroy.

    “Oh, you know…” Cherry fanned her menu out like a newspaper. “Lots of islands and forests and tropical storms in the fall; those are fun. Alto Mare.”

    <“Isn’t Alto Mare in Johto?”> I asked. Just because I was expected to sit around in the Hall of Origin all day didn’t mean I didn’t know my geography.

    “Might as well be in Hoenn!” Cherry exclaimed somewhat loudly, turning a few heads from some of the more elderly customers. One of them wore sunglasses. Cherry glanced around, noticing how many people were staring at our table. She cleared her throat uncomfortably.

    Most of the customers had gone back to eating by now, but the woman in sunglasses continued to stare in our direction. It was like she was fixated on us to a weird degree, like when you stare at something you really want but can’t have.

    I was pretty sure espeon weren’t on the menu in any region, so I was probably fine.

    “Besides,” Cherry began again in a lower voice, “I’ve heard that island might shift territories soon.”

    <“Wait, how?”> I asked, leaning in despite myself. I hadn’t heard jack squat about that.

    “I… might eavesdrop on Alto Mare’s mayor sometimes,” Cherry admitted. “Perks of invisibility.”

    I barely held in a laugh mid-lap from my water bowl; it came out more like a spit-take. <“You what?”>

    “Oh, come on. You’d do it too.”

    <“No I wouldn’t!”>

    “Everyone with invisibility.” Cherry took a sip from her glass, leaning back in her chair. “Always happens.”

    <”I never filed any paperwork like that!”>

    “I guess I’m just too invisible for your machine.”

    The banter went on until we’d both devolved into laughter and were catching our breaths against the table. Half the restaurant had to be looking at as weird at that point, but neither of us really cared.

    “Can I take your orders?”

    We both looked up to see the waiter staring down at us. In an instant, both of us were sitting up straight, struggling to keep our composure and not look like we’d been acting like complete children for the last five or so minutes. We also realized we hadn’t decided what to order yet.

    “Um… I’ll have… I’ll have the weirdest thing on the menu, please,” Cherry said.


    \|M|/

    “Why didn’t you stop me?” Cherry retched, staring down at the remnants of her dinner in a trash can. “That was disgusting!”

    Neither of us were really sure what it was when it had arrived, but it had looked like muk intestines, or at least something’s intestines. I had gingerly eaten my generic pokechow that I was pretty sure was the standard kind sold at most pokemarts, but I was happy eating supermarket pokechow compared to whatever that was. Cherry’s stomach must have agreed with me, because she had puked almost the moment we’d left.

    All I could do was shrug. <“How was I supposed to know that the weirdest thing on the menu would be something that… weird?”>

    Cherry leaned back against the wall of the restaurant, clutching her stomach. “I’m not eating anything else tonight,” she moaned.

    She got herself a pretzel ten minutes later.

    The night was still young, so we decided to go for a walk around town before hitting up the movie theater in Downtown Saffron.

    “So what are you going to do after this?” Cherry asked as we strolled through one of the quieter streets. There were few people around at this time of night, so we didn’t have to worry about being overheard.

    <“Go back to the Hall of Origin,”> I said. <“Crash. File some more paperwork. Try to make it look like I haven’t been gone half the night.”>

    “No, I mean what are you going to do about the High Council thing?” Cherry asked.

    <“Well, what do you mean?”> I responded. There wasn’t anything I could do about it.

    “Like, they can’t just keep you locked up there,” Cherry said. “Have you ever confronted Arceus about it?”

    To no success. <“I’m pretty sure he’d demote me on the spot,”> I said, rolling my eyes.

    “Hey, I’d still hang with you,” Cherry said. “Heck, we could bunk together if that happened. I could take you wingull-chasing in Alto Mare. We could go fishing with Dot.”

    As great as that sounded, I didn’t think a demotion from Arceus would be all sunshine and rainbows.

    Suddenly, Cherry stopped walking. When I looked dead ahead, I saw why: in the shade of the lamp, there stood a dark figure obscured by the shadows.

    “Hello?” Cherry called out. I saw her tense up. The figure walked forward, and it soon became clear they weren’t alone. There were figures emerging from the shadows all around us. Pokeballs flashed, and several different pokemon came out of their balls. We were surrounded.

    My fur bristled. Of all things, I didn’t think we’d get mugged!

    <”I’m going to teleport us out of here,”> I said silently, clinging to Cherry’s leg. <”They’ll never know what hit them.”>

    I gathered the energy for a teleport, and closed my eyes, bracing myself for the flush. But it never came. I opened them, and we were still in the alley. That didn’t make sense! I tried again, as those creepy figures in the alleyway moved in quicker, then a third time. No dice.

    “Now would be a great time to get us outta here…” Cherry muttered out of the side of her mouth.

    <”I’m trying…”> I grunted, scrunching my face up and trying my hardest to make the teleport work. It didn’t make any sense, it was like something was blocking me from leaving.

    <”It’s not working!”> I finally admitted.

    Cherry’s eyes narrowed. “Okay, climb on my back!”

    Before I could ask what that meant, she jumped up into the air and morphed back into her legend form in one fluid motion. She scooped me up in her hands and then we were off into the sky like a shot.

    Flying over Saffron at the speeds we were, everything was a blur. But the city was vast, and it would be a good minute before we reached the lot where Latias’ car was parked.

    <“Who were those people?”> Cherry asked, a somewhat agitated look on her face. I didn’t know – were they just criminals looking for an easy target in the middle of the night? In that case, I didn’t think we had much to worry about. But in case they weren’t…

    I took a chance look behind us, and spotted the dark figure of a pidgeot soaring towards us from behind. It was quickly gaining ground on us, and it looked like it was going to…

    <“Duck!”> I cried out. Cherry swerved downward, just in time to avoid a twisting draft of wind that soared above us. She did a U-turn in time to see the pidgeot, then barely swerved around another Gust. The move knocked Cherry off-kelter, and she dropped me. The pidgeot shot by us, flying into the night sky.

    <“Ann!”> Cherry shouted, watching me fall. I quickly shifted back into Mew once my brain what was happening, and then, still hurtling towards the ground, began to shift again.

    Mew isn’t just some floating blob of cat. Mew has a power too. Mew is the Transformation Pokemon. I spread my arms out wide, watching them crack out longer as the bones shifted and the fur was replaced with growing feathers. My cord-like tail disappeared into my body, replaced with a taillow’s V-shaped tail feathers. My head grew smaller and sprouted a beak. Just in time, I spread my new wings and caught an updraft, surging upwards with speed I could never know in either of my other forms.

    I then zipped back up to where Cherry was flying, flapping back down and perching on her back. A sudden, body-wide cramp made me gasp, and the feathers and beak were violently pulled back into me. I could never hold transformations for long. Full body ones lasted only a minute. Clutching Cherry’s back, I stared in the direction the pidgeot had gone in.

    <“These guys are still tailing us?”> I asked in confusion. Then I realized: we were a pair of legendary pokemon in public, and we’d just exposed ourselves for the world to see. Of course there were targets on our backs. But these people had been prepared for something like this before that. Had we walked into some kind of elaborate trap?

    A black figure rode into the distant moonlight, and I saw that the pidgeot rider was banking around for another go. Cherry had noticed the same thing, because she ruffled her feathers in anger.

    <“Time to lose these jerks for good,”> Cherry growled. She offered her back as a riding spot. <“Grab on!”>

    I knew better than to try and play catch-up with Cherry when she was angry. I tightly clutched her neck with my paws, and then we were off.

    The pidgeot kept scary time with Cherry, even at her top speeds. At the last moment, she banked upwards, heading further and further up into the clouds. Her feathers shimmered, and then she disappeared. The sheen spread over me, and I watched my own paws disappear before my eyes.

    PlateauInTheClouds.png

    For a moment, we floated silently in the sky, with nothing but massive clouds and the moon around us. Then the pidgeot rider swooped up into the cloudscape, making a wide turn right in our direction. Cherry held her position in the air, watching the pidgeot slowly soar straight for us. It held true, like it knew we were there.

    <“You don’t think…”> I whispered.

    Cherry and I were in silent agreement: We didn’t want to risk it. At the last moment, she shot out of the pidgeot’s way. The pidgeot flew past us, the rider looking back at us as it went—He was looking at us. He knew we were there. There were a pair of bulky goggles strapped to his face – was that what he was using to see us?

    <“Hang on tight,”> Cherry said.

    The pidgeot banked around after us, and Cherry took off downward towards the lights of Saffron.

    We flew down until we were on the streets of the city. Cherry swerved around cars, streetlamps, and other flying pokemon at speeds so fast I was constantly worried she was going to slam into something. I glanced upwards at the sound of a sudden whoosh—The pidgeot dove straight into the frenzy, soaring above the buildings but tailing us all the same.

    <“He’s still on us!”> I called out. Cherry nodded. She swerved around a tight corner, knocking a streetlamp out of shape as we richoceted past. The pidgeot shot onwards, banked around a skyscraper, and then continued to chase after us.

    Spinning around, I anchored myself to Cherry with my tail, and began to charge up a Psychic in my front paws. We were going far too fast for the pidgeot to dodge—the Psychic slammed full-force into both it and the rider and sent them tumbling into the traffic below.

    Cherry rounded another corner just to be safe, then we took off for the skies.

    <“Did we lose him?”> she asked, going too fast to look back now. I scanned the cityscape, but saw no sign of the pidgeot or its rider.

    <“I think so!”> I called back.

    We flew all the way up to the top of a large skyscraper, and only then did Cherry see fit to drop her invisibility. She shifted back into her human form, falling on her behind against the building’s roof.

    “Who were those guys?” she asked, breathing heavily. “They were able to see us. ” she repeated it again, to herself. “They saw us… they saw us. Who were they?”

    There was a white flash behind us. We both spun around—a dark, skeletal humanoid figure approached us from the other side of the skyscraper. An alakazam floated behind them, its eyes glowing with psychic energy. As the man walked forward, he entered the light enough for us both to see a dark red R on his shirt.

    They had a teleporter.

    Well, so did we. And if they could teleport, then I sure could too. I grabbed onto Cherry, and all of the sudden we were in the woods outside Saffron, where it was dark and the lights of the city were only a distant mirage. We both collapsed against a tree, shaken.

    “R,” Cherry breathed out, still staggering from the wind of the teleport. “That means Team Rocket. W-what did you say that group was again?”

    A flash, and there they were again, walking towards us like nothing had happened. They had tracked us through teleport? How? And what else could they do? They’d been this prepared already. I didn’t waste time—I grabbed onto Cherry, and we teleported again.

    This time, we stumbled into the parking lot where Cherry’s car was. Cherry staggered to her feet. When we saw the car, we made a break for it.

    Cherry yanked open the door and stumbled into the driver’s seat. I teleported into the gunshot seat. A flash in the distance visible through the side mirror, and there they were again. Behind us. Cherry turned the key, pulled the gear, and spun the wheel. The car swiftly turned around, leaving tire marks on the pavement, but a psychic from the Alakazam blasted it back several feet. We slammed into another van, denting the back truck and shattering the rear window of our car. Glass sprayed into the back seat of Cherry’s jeep. Alarms blared from both cars, but Cherry slammed the gas undeterred. The car revved and took off, making a beeline for the rocket man and his alakazam—

    Another flash, and they were gone just before we hit them. I couldn’t sense them reappearing anywhere near us.

    “How long before we lose these guys?” Cherry asked as we drove down the deserted street, for the first time sounding somewhat shaken. “Can’t you just teleport us into the Hall of Origin?”

    <“Really bad idea,”> I said, frantically glancing back. <“They’re tracking us somehow. Wherever we go, that alakazam is going to follow.”>

    Even across the highest mountains and the most distant oceans, they’d follow. Teleports could be tracked anywhere. And I was running out of energy. Too many teleports took a lot out of me, and I’d only have enough energy for one more.

    To the Hall of Origin.

    They must have been tracking our energy signatures this whole time; that was the only way the pidgeot and its rider would have been able to see us. But… how? They’d been using goggles—was it some kind of new technology that hadn’t been released to the public yet?

    There was a jolt from behind us, and the sudden loss of momentum flung us both forwards in our seats. Cherry slammed the gas pedal into the ground. The car revved, but we didn’t go anywhere. I looked out the window and realized we were much higher above the ground than we should be—we were being lifted up!

    The car suddenly went flying sideways towards the wall of a closed shopfront. We both screamed as the car flew, but I teleported us out onto the street just in time. The car crashed into the shopfront and landed on its side. Seconds later, it burst into brilliant orange flame.

    Cherry and I zapped out to the front pavement, where we stumbled to the ground and quickly caught our breaths. The hulking wreck of Cherry’s car burned from right outside the shop. No sooner had we looked in the direction of the city did we see the shape of the Alakazam standing all by itself in the parking lot.

    But it wasn’t doing anything; it was just standing there.

    “What’s it up to?” Cherry asked. We both eyed the alakazam uneasily, unwilling to look away from it.

    There was a sound I could only describe as a fuzzy ‘vworp’, and a man dressed in the same black military gear as the men who’d been tailing us suddenly appeared near the alakazam. I realized: it was teleporting people in. One, two, three more teleported before I could even react, and by the time I had worked up the energy to teleport again we were already surrounded.

    The last person to teleport in was someone dressed differently. I didn’t see his face, only his teal hair illuminated by the flaming car behind him, and that he was wearing white and not black.

    Someone suddenly clamped a rag over my face from behind. Taken off-guard, I breathed in a mouthful of whatever the rag was covered in before I could stop myself. I could only look at Latias, who was also being smothered under a rag by a pair of bulky gloves, before the Sleep Powder kicked in and I began to slip from reality.
     
    Last edited:
    Prelude, Ann I - Blackmailed
  • SparklingEspeon

    Up To No Good
    Staff
    Location
    *teleports behind you*
    Pronouns
    She/Her
    Partners
    1. espurr
    2. fennekin
    3. zoroark
    Note: Content warning for a slight allusion to blood.

    Three Years Ago

    The Hall of Origin sat at the very top of Sinnoh, the crown of Mount Coronet. It was a proud palace, with a roof that led up into the very peak of the mountain, where no normal human or pokemon could go for want of air.

    Though the Hall stood tall and proud, it would never be uncovered by prying eyes. An illusion of downtrodden, crumbling ruins masked it from the eyes of intruders. And if one were to enter, they would touch the crumbling pillars of a long-desolate building rather than the pristine walls of the true Hall. For the Hall of Origin was forbidden to anyone not blessed with the power of a Legend.

    Arceus wordlessly bounded up towards the Hall, carrying the new Mew with him in an invisible hold. She watched as the world silently grew smaller below them; a miniscule diorama of rivers and valleys below, the dark night clouds and stars above. When he touched down, his hooves landed upon the marble floors of the Hall with a satisfying ‘plink’.

    Mew was let down, finally. She unsteadily wobbled, trying to find her new center of balance on legs that were both different and weaker than before. The hall around her was giant, larger than life. The white and gold walls and pillars extended upwards and faded away into the night sky, where the moon reflected off the clouds in the distance and bathed the spacious room in the subtle gleam of night. A grand staircase split at the top and arched down to the ground in two different directions. Between them, a desk stood, and a door under the middle of the staircase led into a room unknown and hidden by shadows.

    Arceus looked down at her, watching her take an unsteady step and falling flat on her face. Her new legs weren’t strong enough to support her body weight.


    “You will not need them,” his voice boomed, reverberating in her head as if he had read her thoughts. “As Mew, you will soar. Concentrate your focus. Try it.”

    And so Mew did. She watched in silent awe as despite her every instinct, she began to rise off the ground effortlessly, as if carried by a steady, invisible wind. She did a few cartwheels in the air, weightless. It made her giddy.

    “You may rest the night within the confines of this hall,” said Arceus, watching her twirl around in the air. “Tomorrow, we shall discuss your duties as a High Legend.”

    Mew, who had been spinning around in the air because she could, cast Arceus a questioning glance. Was that it? But Arceus had said all he intended to. He leapt up effortlessly, silently, and disappeared up through the roof and into the night sky above.

    In his absence, she was left to explore the Hall on her own. Still teetering and tottering around in the air, the desk caught her attention first. It did not catch her attention because it was the only piece of furniture in the room. It did not catch her attention because of the large amount of see-through chutes that snaked down from the skies above and ended at the desk. It did not even catch her attention because of the large amount of papers stacked on it, when the rest of the Hall was pristine.


    It caught her attention because unlike the rest of the Hall, the floors and walls around the desk were scarred with the marks of something a deep, dark red.

    02.

    Blackmailed

    When I woke up again, I was lying on an old, dirty bed that smelled like skuntank spray. The walls around me were made of steel, and only one flickering lightbulb hanging from the roof provided any source of light. I was still groggy; it took me a minute to piece together what had just happened. I had just been… captured. I had been captured. So had Cherry. This was bad.

    Cherry! I leapt into the air and looked around the room, but I didn’t see her. In a frenzy, I tried the first thing I could think of–teleporting out of there. It didn’t matter where I ended up; I just needed to get out of this room. I’d even take right in front of Arceus’ face. But it just wasn’t working. When I opened my eyes, I was still in the prison cell. That was enough to silence me dumbly for a good minute. This didn’t just happen. It wasn’t done. How could my teleport keep failing?

    There was a beep. The door to the cell opened. I turned around, watching as a human strode into the room. He wore a suit, and the top of his head was covered by a large fedora. I could barely see his eyes under the brim, only his one-sided sneer, but that was definitely intentional. I could already tell this guy was a grade A villain, and the thing about grade A villains is that they’re always worryingly obsessed with their wardrobe.

    “Looks like you’ve noticed our teleport blockers,” he said theatrically. I glared daggers at him. He knocked on the door after it closed. I heard the dull thud.

    “Re-enforced steel. The only way you leave this room is if that door opens for you.”

    He had a foldable chair with him. He walked over and expanded it in front of me. Then he sat down.

    “Sit,” he said, gesturing to the cot.

    I did not sit. I wanted to tell him I’d rather do anything but sit. I wasn’t brave enough to tell him that, so I just floated there like I had been.

    “Where’s Cherry,” I said in the lowest, most threatening voice I could muster.

    “Cherry…” the man rubbed his chin with a gloved hand for a minute. “So that’s the name of our other catch. She wouldn’t tell us that. Thank you.”

    I suddenly felt ten times smaller.

    “Let us… go?” I said, in vain hope that would actually do something. Predictably, it didn’t.

    The man shook his head. “If only it were that easy. First things first…”

    Before I knew it, I felt a sharp nick against the side of my head. I looked at the man’s right hand, outstretched above my ear and holding a switchblade. A few tufts of my fur floated to the ground. The man caught them in a plastic container he pulled from inside his suit.

    Alright, that was the last straw. This guy thought he could kidnap me, take my friend hostage, and then cut off my fur to boot? I’d show him. I hissed, charging up energy in my paw for an attack. The man simply brushed back the bottom of his suit in response, making sure I could see the pokeball hanging from his belt.

    “You can’t catch me with that,” I growled. It was true. I’d already tethered myself to a pokeball, a trick I had picked up from all the lower-tier legendaries who resided on earth. But that only got a laugh from him.

    “You think we haven’t tried?” he said. “On both you and your friend. This is for self-defense.”

    Crap, this was more well-thought out than I’d anticipated. Another thing about grade A villains: Despite the over the top outfits, they’re usually worth their salt.

    “What makes you think one pokemon is going to defend you from a High Legend?” I snarled. I was bluffing. For some idiot reason, I didn’t have the firepower to knock out much more than a growlithe. But he didn’t know that.

    The man smirked. “You could probably kill me and break straight out of this room if you wanted. If you want to test the might of a single Legend against all of Team Rocket, be my guest.”

    I went silent after that, much of my bravado lost. Did he want me to believe that all of Team Rocket was outside that door?

    Was all of Team Rocket outside that door? They’d gone to extreme measures just to bring us here. It didn’t make sense for them not to pile guards upon guards where I was being held.

    “Or…” the man drew it out, leaving it at a pause. He knew I was trapped, and he wanted me to continue the line. To play along with his game. I didn’t have another good choice, and he knew it.

    “Or… what?”

    “Or… we can strike a deal,” said the man.

    I could tell a trap when I saw one, and that was a trap clear as day. Maybe I’d walk out of the building, but he’d own my soul or something freaky like that. I was smarter than that, I could see right through it. But I wonder if a moth that flies into a light trap knows it’s a trap, and flies into it anyway because it can’t resist the light. If moths could even feel anything. That was how I felt. Stuck like a moth willingly drawn into a trap.

    The man was silent. It was clear he wanted me to ask him to continue.

    “What… kind of deal?” I hesitantly asked. I knew it was a bad idea. Each word that slipped off my tongue felt like acid.

    “I want information,” the man said. “Anything and everything you can give me regarding legendary movements. I understand that as Mew, you have access to those sorts of things. Courtesy of your friend, of course.”

    My friend…

    “What have you been doing to her?” I spat. Cherry would never give up that information on her own.

    “We have our ways of extracting information when it’s necessary,” the man said coolly. “Now here’s your deal: You walk out of this base without a target on your back, but you report to me. When I ask you to get me something, no matter what that thing is, you get it for me within a day. You have my word that as long as you do this, no harm will come to your friend.”

    “And when do I get her back?” I asked. Some part of me couldn’t believe I was actually considering this. Another part of me, the stronger part, was scared I’d never get free if I didn’t. I didn’t have the power to break out of this place, and I knew it, and he knew it. I needed to set barriers somewhere, or I’d never see Cherry again.

    “When I no longer have a use for you,” said the man, and then he stood up. “If you don’t agree, I’ll have her killed on the spot. If you tell a single soul about our agreement, I’ll have her killed on the spot. And if you try anything funny, I’ll have her killed on the spot. Don’t think you can be sneaky; I’ll know. And once it’s done… you’ll be next.”

    My heart skipped a beat when he said that. They couldn’t kill my best friend. They couldn’t kill her, they couldn’t.

    They were going to. The world stopped turning.

    “You have one hour to make your decision,” said the man. He retracted the chair, and began to take it with him as he headed for the door and I knew I couldn’t let that go I couldn’t let him walk away that was my only opportunity to keep Cherry alive I had to do something I had to I had to—

    “Alright!” I cried out, zipping over to the door before the man could close it behind him. “I’ll do it, I’ll do it! Just don’t kill Cherry.”

    The man stopped at the door. He turned around, the barest corner of a smirk on his face.

    “I figured you’d see reason.”

    He held out a gloved hand, and beckoned for me to follow with two of his fingers. I had the sudden and powerful urge to bite them off, but I didn’t see that ending with Cherry alive. Reluctantly, I did as he asked.

    I was blindfolded by a pair of guards and led down a series of hallways until I could feel the wind against my fur again. The blindfold was undone, exposing my eyes to broad daylight. I had to squint for a moment before my surroundings came into view: I was standing at the bank of a grassy cliff overlooking the ocean. We’d just come out of a small tunnel near a rock formation behind us, and in the distance behind that was the clear outline of a brightly colored, red and yellow harbor city. My eyes followed the bridge that snaked across the ocean, connecting the city to the bank on the other side of the waterway… This was Vermilion. We were right next to Vermilion.

    “Got a good feel for the place?” the voice came not from the man who had interrogated me, but from one of the two rocket grunts who had escorted me out here. “Remember it. You’re gonna teleport right back to this location if the Boss needs you.”

    I barely nodded, taking in as much as I could. This was the afternoon. That meant… I was already late for my job back in the Hall of Origin!

    As if I needed yet another stressor today.

    One of the rocket grunts handed me a black device that looked suspiciously like a cell phone. “Keep that with you. It’s what we’ll use to contact you when we need you to do something.”

    I took the device like it was a sugar-high joltik, looking over its smooth black surface in my paws. It was so small, but the amount of difference it made was astronomical. It meant that for all intents and purpose, I was now a part of Team Rocket.

    “Can I go now?” I asked. The line was flat, devoid of emotion. I didn’t have any left.

    “That’s everything,” said one of the rockets. “You’re free to go.”


    \|M|/

    There was an overflow of paperwork on my desk by the time I finally teleported back to the Hall of Origin. I didn’t see Arceus anywhere around, but that didn’t mean he didn’t know I’d been gone. He could pop in at any moment, ready to interrogate me and ask me where I had gone and why I was late, and I’d have to dig myself even deeper just to get out of trouble in the moment.

    Not that I wasn’t already deep enough as is. I zipped over to the desk, shakily placing the black device the Rockets had given me in the drawer.

    The next few hours were spent sorting paperwork and wondering if there was anything I could have done better, anything I could have done to walk out of there with Cherry okay. I couldn’t trust the Rockets to keep their word; for all I knew they were busy torturing her for more information. But there wasn’t anything I could do about it, not on my own. Not unless I wanted to tell Arceus.

    I didn’t know if I could. How would he take it? Would he help me, or would he unleash his wrath and call an attack on the base with Cherry still inside? If there was ever a time for that to happen…

    There weren’t any two ways about it. I had to keep it secret. No-one else could know.

    Right outside the Hall of Origin, just within the veil that hid the place from the eyes of those hikers that liked to climb up here in the winter and camp out on a freezing mountain for some reason, Zygarde slithered through the snow. I watched as it rose to its full height of ten feet, gazing serenely at the sun. Then it slowly began to split apart, many small cells leaving its being. One Zygarde whole disintegrated into nothing, and One Hundred Zygarde Cells blew to the wind.

    The sun was beginning to set over the many peaks around the Hall of Origin, as I zipped up to where Arceus usually lounged around at sunset to deliver my report for the day. I headed straight for the roof of the building, ascending up into the sky until the hall of the building was far below me, and the peak of Mount Coronet hung above.

    Arceus liked to hang around the very peak of Mount Coronet during the sunsets, to watch them go down. And that was where he was when I zipped up towards the top of the mountain and settled on a stone perch nearby. Unlike Arceus, the altitude and the thin air made me a little lightheaded, but I had greater resistance towards it than a normal pokemon have. I’d be fine for a half-hour or so.

    MountainPeakTalk.png

    “Mew,” he acknowledged me as I nestled into the perch alongside him.

    “I have your daily report, sir,” I said. I began to go through the list of major and minor things that had shown up in the paperwork today, focusing on the end on Zygarde’s departure. Arceus only acknowledged me with a little grunt at the end, proof that he was listening but hadn’t taken fault with anything I listed.

    We sat for a minute more, observing the sunset.

    “Sir,” I said, breaking the silence. “I never asked, but… what happened to my predecessor?”

    “Your predecessor?” Arceus asked.

    “The one who came before m—”

    “I am aware what a predecessor is.”

    I stopped. And waited. It was a moment before Arceus said anything.

    “I killed him.”

    “Y-you what?” I stammered out, shocked. What had he done to deserve death?

    “Don’t get surprised.” Arceus’ tone was ice-cold. “Your predecessor was… difficult. He openly disrespected the sacred code we Legends have abided by for years, and relentlessly argued many of my decrees when I passed them. Of course, I do not slaughter my disciples over petty disagreements. A couple of times, his points even showed reason enough for me to change.”

    “S-so…” I began, still trying to process the fact that whoever had come before me had died. “What did you kill him for?”

    Arceus sighed, like this pained him. “He sold out. He saw greater value in the worthless treasures of the humans than he saw up here with our elite. He went down and revealed himself in front of them. He began to take information from the Room of Records, and sell it to humans down below. Before long, that information made it back into my hands, and I took notice. This matter had to be dealt with in a prompt manner. Therefore, I killed him.”

    I stayed silent, as I tried to process that information. What did that mean for me?

    “I… I see,” I said. I was the most anxious I had been in years, but I tried not to show it in front of Arceus.

    “The day afterwards was the day that I recruited you,” Arceus said. “I am pleased to see that I have made a respectable choice in replacement.”

    I nodded, grinned, tried not to look nervous, and went along with it. It was all I could do right now. Inside, my head swam. There were so many things I was trapped in now. I thought maybe it would be better to tell Arceus, but after learning this… How could I? I’d just be sealing my doom—and Cherry’s in the process, when he ordered the base blown up. I couldn’t let that happen.

    “So if I ever…” I trailed off, not willing to say the name of the crime I had already committed to. “You’d kill me, too?”

    “If you showed yourself to be unworthy the way he did, I would not hesitate to spear you through the heart,” said Arceus. “But I do not intend this as a threat. Instead, let it be a teaching moment.

    “I hold you to a higher standard than I held your predecessor or any of your peers,” Arceus continued. “You must be better. You are the example the lower legends look to, and the leg the higher legends stand on. You must be the best of us. You have done admirably these last three years, and if you work as you should, then you will hold this position for many centuries more. But only if you work as you should.”

    Finally, he stopped. We both let the silence settle for a moment, as the sun continued its last retreat over the mountain. His silence was a peaceful serenity; mine was a tense silence of anxiety. There was a dread forming in the pit in my stomach that I’d never felt before. I’d just crossed Arceus in a very bad way, and he didn’t even know it yet.

    The next thing Arceus said signaled that our conversation was over: “You are dismissed.”

    Eager to be anywhere but within earshot of Arceus right now, I eagerly nodded and zipped back down the mountain and towards the Hall of Origin.

    I had a lot to think about.
     
    Last edited:
    Prelude, Ann I - The Forsaken Scientist
  • SparklingEspeon

    Up To No Good
    Staff
    Location
    *teleports behind you*
    Pronouns
    She/Her
    Partners
    1. espurr
    2. fennekin
    3. zoroark
    03.

    The Forsaken Scientist


    Eighteen Months Ago

    Once upon a time, John Smith Fuji had been a normal man, unremarkable in every way. He went to school, like everyone else. He went on a pokemon journey, like everyone else. And, like most of the kids his age, he realized pokemon training wasn’t for him when he ran out of food halfway through viridian forest and had to backtrack to the pokemon center in the town and call his parents to pick him up.

    He graduated high school with average grades, coasted through college with the enthusiasm of any other student, and went on to pursue a biology degree in higher universities. Right out of college, he worked as an intern at the Pewter University of Science for year, then scored a job as an underpaid assistant. There was absolutely nothing remarkable about him.

    After three years of living off freezer meals and barely keeping up with the rent of the small house he lived in, Fuji got a new job working as a geneticist at the Silph Company in Saffron City.

    He met a fellow researcher at his job who shared many of his interests and passions, and like most others, they fell in love. Their wedding was only a year later.

    They had been married for two years when they had a baby. When that baby was born, it was the brightest moment of Fuji’s life. They named her Amber, for the legacy they hoped she’d leave behind.

    The daughter of two scientists, Amber grew fast and took to the messy, cluttered lab that they called home. When Amber was three, Fuji began to let her hang around the lab as he went about his work. When she was five, she was allowed to leave the stroller when in the lab. And when she was seven, she was looking over Fuji’s shoulder as he typed away at his computer.

    When Amber turned seven, the three of them went out to eat for her birthday. They strolled down to the park to watch some of the ongoing battles in the area afterwards.

    At some point, Fuji lost Amber’s hand. They never found her.

    That was the beginning of the end.

    Amber was declared dead a month after she disappeared. The authorities said that she had run out into the street and been hit by a car. The body was on display during the funeral, but Fuji couldn’t bear to look at it. He didn’t have it in him.

    A few months after the funeral, the divorce came. Fuji poured himself into his work, but as more and more time passed, he became distant. He stopped paying his bills, and at some point stopped turning in his papers for work.

    Work sacked him after a few months of delay and several unreturned calls and emails to reach out. He got a notice a few weeks later that the water would shut off, and the lights would go not soon after. He didn’t read it. He spent his days lying around on his cot, staring up at the wall, idly wondering what could have been. What he could have done differently. How much longer he had to live like this.

    He would have died on that bed, if his door hadn’t been kicked in.

    Fuji scrambled up from his bed in a haste when he heard the sound of breaking wood, and light from the outside flooded the living room of his house. Brushing his long locks of dirty, unkempt hair from his vision, he only had time to get on his feet and kick some of the empty food containers out of the way before he saw who was coming in.

    Unlike Fuji, the man’s hair was well-groomed, slicked back, and black as night. He wore a clean suit of a very dark blue variety that fit over him snugly, and over that a fancy designer coat of the same color. Two men in what looked like black military gear flanked him on either side. From the looks of the boots they were wearing, one of them must have kicked in the door.

    “E-excuse me,” Fuji began, his voice hoarse and brittle from days of going without water. “What are you doing in—”

    “Dr. John Smith Fuji, correct?” the man cut in. His voice was elegant and pleasing to the ears, and he spoke with a charisma that made Fuji want to stop and listen to him. “Ph.D in genetics and experienced in the study of infinity energy?”

    Left flabbergasted, Fuji could only nod. “Y-yes. That’s me. Now d-do you want to explain why you kicked in my door and disturbed me in the middle of my—” he looked at the couch he had been laying on “—perfectly normal nap?”

    Instead of answering, the man just walked forward. Thousand-dollar boots gracefully stepped on dirty carpet, and around empty containers of dollar ramen.

    “Why, Doctor Fuji,” he said. “I’ve come to save your life.”

    “I don’t want to be saved.” The words came out of his mouth without his consent; he felt numb everywhere. “Just let me die.”

    “You don’t mean that.” The voice in his ear now, its richness disarming him.

    “I do.”

    “Why don’t you sit down?” the man said.

    “Are you some kind of psychiatrist?” Fuji asked. “Because I don’t need one. You can tell whoever’s paying you to—“

    “I’m not a psychiatrist,” the man said, stopping Fuji mid-sentence once again. “And this is not an intervention. Now let’s sit down.”

    “But I…” Fuji was rapidly failing to come up with even a full sentence in defense. “You’re telling me to sit down in my own house?”

    “You’ll feel better,” the man said. “Just sit down and relax.”

    So Fuji did the only thing that he really could do at that point, and sat down. The man sat with him.

    “You must be hungry, correct?” the man asked him. Fuji hadn’t been hungry up to that point, but when the man pointed it out, his stomach growled.

    A gloved finger the color of night snapped. “Bring this man a proper meal.”

    Food was brought in on a steaming platter—a medium rare slowpoke tail with all the trimmings. Fuji’s stomach, which had subsisted off dollar store ramen and candies for the last few months, did a flip at the sight. He had not eaten in days and was hungry. So he ate, if for no reason other than to satisfy his body.

    “Do you know who I am?” the man asked after a long period of silence punctuated only by Fuji’s chewing. He sat on the cot beside Fuji, watching him with a sense of calmness that made Fuji feel calm too. All the same, something about him stirred slight feelings of uneasiness.

    “You look like you own something,” Fuji croaked out, looking at the man’s expensive-looking coat.

    “I own many things,” the man said. “Including, as of last week, the genetics division of the Silph Company.”

    “The division I worked in,” Fuji noted. It was all beginning to make sense now.

    “Yes,” the man continued. “Ironically, we acquired that division just for you, but learned a day after our buy over that you had been let go. Of course, after looking at your resume, I knew I had to meet you myself. No matter the cost.”

    Fuji knew what was coming next. So before the man could say anything, he stood up, and pushed the coffee table out.

    “I’m not interested,” he said.

    “Interested?” the man didn’t skip a beat. “I haven’t offered anything yet.”

    “Yet,” Fuji began. “You kick in my door, you call me by my honorifics, you offer me lunch, you mention where I worked. That’s a textbook job offer if I’ve ever seen one. Well, I appreciate the thought, but I’m not interested. I just want to take a nap.”

    “I think…” the man loudly spoke as Fuji trudged towards the stairs. Fuji stopped, noticing that he had stood up as well. “You’ll be very interested in this offer, if you just hear me out to the end.”

    “I think I won’t,” Fuji said, and then he began to trudge off again.

    “Then let me cut to the chase,” the man replied. “How would you like to resurrect the dead?”

    And once again, Fuji was at the whims of this man he’d never met before and knew nothing about. He slowly turned around.

    “But that’s impossible,” he said.

    “Not with infinity energy,” said the man. “I’ve recruited scientists from around the region to build me a machine that can harness infinity energy to create new life. And they have. Now, all we need is a geneticist.”

    “It’s not possible,” Fuji said. “Even if it were, the amount of infinity energy you would need is immeasurable. There’s no way we could get that power.”

    “Unless there is,” said the man. “You aren’t the first to tell me exactly that. And believe me when I say that I would not be financing this project unless I had found a way forward.”

    Fuji stopped for a minute, and considered. If what this man was saying was true… then he’s just been given another chance. He could get his daughter back.

    All the same, something about it didn’t seem right. How did this man know about his daughter? How did he know what buttons to push? He must have known more about Fuji than any normal person would.

    If Fuji had to guess, he was a rich and powerful man who could get that information if he needed it. But on the other hand, stomping into his living room with two hired goons didn’t seem like something a powerful, law-abiding businessman would do.

    But on the other hand once again… the fact that there were two armed men in this living room meant that he might leaving this room willingly, or against it.

    And now that he thought about it, this man was offering him a line. An escape. Even if it turned out to be fake, he could at least say he’d tried everything.

    “Go on,” he said. “How are you going to collect enough energy to power this machine of yours?”

    “We have our sources,” the man replied. “We’ve been collecting them for a while. Enough reserves to last us a year and a half, if we need take that long. And much, much more where that came from. Trust me, Doctor, you’ll be well provided.”

    “Then you have yourself a deal,” Fuji said.

    “Excellent.”

    Fuji’s withered palms met black leather gloves, and the two men shook on it.

    “What do I call you?” Fuji asked.

    “Many of my employees call me ‘boss’,” the man said. “You, may call me Giovanni.”


    \|o|/

    Present day

    The waves crash against the massive cliff below. They sound like thunder, but for now, there is no storm. Clouds hang in the night sky, but they are the thin clouds that the moon easily shines through. A chilly breeze blows the fields of grass in a single, unified direction.

    A procession waits on that cliffside, standing among the grass with their coats blowing in the wind. In the middle of them, a curly-haired man with his hands clasped behind his back awaits.

    They aren’t kept waiting long. In the distance, a black speck soon makes itself visible, the sound of distant whirring and chopping audible over the wind. As the speck gets larger and forms into the outline of something familiar, the sound of spinning propellers begins to get louder. The thunderous chopper approaches the island, the whirring of its blades nearly deafening as it touches down in front of the group and blows the grass every which way.

    The helicopter door opens, and a man steps out. He wears only a suit and a fedora this time, making his way down the stairs of the helicopter effortlessly. Sewn onto the vest pocket of his suit is a single red “R”. Behind him, two men walk out, carrying a sealed metal case.

    The leader of Team Rocket walks up to the curly haired man, and then stops. The six scientists around the curly haired man salute in unison—their fists to their chest. A second later, the man reluctantly follows.

    “Doctor Fuji,” the Boss speaks. His voice is clean and pleasant to the ears.

    “Mr… Boss,” Fuji responds in kind.

    “Most gracious of you to meet us at our landing point,” the Boss continues. “Though I assure you there is no need.” He gestures to the metal case the two grunts behind him carry. “We’ll discuss more inside.

    “Walk me through the rest of the process, now that you have your required material,” the Boss says, following Dr. Fuji into the lobby of the great New Island Spire.

    “E-excuse me, sir,” Dr. Fuji says, “but if I may ask: How did you get this?”

    “Let me worry about the nitty gritty…” the Boss says, putting a gloved hand on Fuji’s shoulder. “And you worry about what’s going on over here. Now, if you may be so kind as to brief me.”

    Fuji recognizes this is a signal that the Boss will say no more on the topic, which means he is best off switching gears. And so he does.

    “Now that we have the sample, we’ll run the DNA through our sequencer,” he says, “and from it construct a genome that will properly incubate during the creation process.”

    “And the turnover?”

    “Whenever it’s ready,” Fuji says. “We’ve never worked with this kind of DNA before. It could behave unpredictably.”

    If Giovanni has an objection, then he doesn’t show it. He takes a deep breath, then utters the exact words Fuji wants to hear:

    “Well, fax me when you have a usable specimen. You know how to reach me. Keep up the good work, Fuji.”

    Left agape, Fuji can only nod.

    “T-thank you, sir,” he stammers out. The Boss turns around, and the grunts follow him as he walks down the stairs and towards the large metal door. The hiss of hydraulics sounds off as the door opens for him, then closes in his wake. And only when he’s gone, and Fuji is sure he won’t come back, does he relax.

    He’s done it.

    The specimen is carted up towards the lab, where it will be sequenced into a usable genome for the life-creation machine. After the sequencing, its structure can be used to create something that never existed before. Something that shouldn’t exist. Something to rival the Legends.

    But it will also be used to create something else. Or rather, to bring something else back. A soul from beyond the brink. A lost dream, snared and brought back into the world of the living.

    Fuji enters his personal study, shuts the door behind him, and locks it with shaking fingers. He sits down in his chair, pulling a silver pocketwatch out of his vest and staring down at it. It’s dusty, and the hinges are nearly rusted off. He doesn’t open this watch much, not much at all. But now, it means more to him than it has for the past year. Because he’s one step closer to resurrecting her.

    Once he gets the machine working—truly working—he’ll do what others only told him was impossible, and bring her back to life. And once he has her back, he can finally begin to start putting his life back together again.


    \|o|/

    Before

    Three Years Ago

    The black of night cast a glow over the rocky landscape and sea that made it hard to see a thing. The helicopter just as black landed, but not on an island this time. It landed on the bank right outside Vermillion, under the cover of night. No-one noticed the black of the aircraft as it landed on a helipad concealed by the mountains around it.

    Giovanni stepped out. He took a breath of the fresh Vermillion air, and waited for the helipad to move. With a large jolt, it slowly lowered into the ground, and the ground closed up above it. It was like none of it was ever there in the first place.

    The passage from the private helipad led down a flight of stairs and through a hallway with harsh lighting. A few men dressed in identical black militaristic gear passed him on the way in. They immediately made way for him and then spoke amongst each other in excited hushes once he had passed. Being in the same hallway as the Boss was a once in a lifetime dream for some of them, the common backbone grunt of his organization.

    Finally, he reached the end of the hallway, and walked out onto an elevated metal walkway. From here, he overlooked the massive chamber below filled with military machines of all kinds. Black-uniformed grunts swarmed around the trucks and helicopters and tanks below. From up here, they looked like ants. This was the army of Team Rocket.

    Giovanni stayed for a minute or two, appreciating the silent display of power that was possible all because of him. But he couldn’t stay for long; he had more important matters to attend to. He tore himself away from the sight, walking down the walkway on the trip to his personal office.

    His office was occupied when he got there.

    Ariana, one of his executives, jumped up from her seat on the setpiece stool in front of his fireplace as he entered the room. He looked at her, but his face darkened when he noticed the 13-year-old boy who sat near her.

    “Care to explain?” he addressed Ariana, his voice a low growl. He pointedly did not acknowledge the boy. “I thought I told you this boy is not to be seen in my presence.”

    Only a second later, the boy let out a raspy cough, and Giovanni was forced to look at him. He looked sickly, like he might collapse at any minute.

    “The medicine division told us they didn’t have a bed for him,” Ariana quickly explained.

    “So you brought him here?” Giovanni growled.

    “I wanted you to
    see how sick he is,” Ariana responded.

    “We agreed this child would never be let within my sight again,” Giovanni said, his voice settling into something dangerously calm. “I have no use for malnourished brats who have no hope of passing the grunt program.”

    “Well, you have a use for me, don’t you?” Ariana raised her voice. “He’s
    sick. Just get him a bed and medicine and you won’t see him again.”

    Giovanni took in her defiance for a moment. But he let it pass. Because she was right: he did have a use for her.

    He wrote something down on a slip of paper, then handed it to her. “That will get you the medicine and medical care you need. Tell them it comes on my authority.”

    Ariana took the paper, muttered something to him he didn’t catch, and then hastily escorted Silver out. Giovanni watched them go. He could only count his lucky stars the boy took after Ariana in looks and not him. As far as the rest of the Rocket Division was concerned, he was the child of a random grunt somewhere in the base. Ariana handled the accusations admirably, but Giovanni’s image could not be tarnished like that. The Boss was the bastion of Team Rocket, an image of radiant perfection that every grunt was told they may one day follow in the footsteps of. He must appear better. He must appear perfect.

    But it was now time to shuffle that concern aside, because he had a more important visitor to tend to right now.

    “You may come out now,” Giovanni announced, turning his attention towards the spot near the bookcases that shimmered weirdly.

    The spot began to ripple, and soon a floating, azure creature with catlike features was visible to him in its place. Giovanni took a seat in his personal chair, keeping his eyes lazily trained on the creature as they looked towards the empty seat.

    “By all means—sit.” Giovanni gestured to the visitor’s chair in front of the desk. “We have a lot to discuss.”

    Mew floated over, and sat in the chair.

    “First things first,” Giovanni began. “I’m interested to know what brings you to me. What possesses a member of the world’s uppermost elite to come down here and sell to the boss of Team Rocket?”

    “I want out,” Mew said without hesitation.

    “You want out?” Giovanni prompted. “Curious. Do go on.”

    “What else is there to say?” Mew asked, almost scoffed. “I’m done. I’ve had it up to here with Arceus and all his constant mismanaging. He’s—His decrees are several centuries in the past, he has no regard for others’ health or life, not even the people he’s supposed to work with, and to top it all off, he’s lied to us. Not just me and the rest of the Legendarian Order. The entire
    world. I’ve watched him lie to others, lie to their face, without skipping a beat. I’ve seen him mistreat and ignore his underlings without a shred of mercy. Year after year, I’ve seen him order calamities that end the lives of thousands, just because they inconvenienced him. He is unfit for power, but he’s not going to change, he’s not going to listen. I’m the person closest to him, I know it better than anyone! But something has to. And if it won’t be Arceus, then it’s going to be me.”

    “Interesting,” said Giovanni. “And you view this partnership as a way to ‘make something give’, as you put it?”

    “I view it as a ‘screw you’.”

    “I see.” Giovanni marked this all down on a touchpad. He would normally have prescripted Matori for such things, but the unique circumstances of this meeting made it impossible. “Let’s backtrack a bit. What did you mean when you said he lied to the world?”

    “I mean he’s lying,” Mew shrugged. “About everything. Where to start…” A sardonic laugh. “Well, let’s start with the bit about Arceus being born from an egg and creating the world we know today. That’s a lie. That’s the biggest lie of them all. There’s thousands of people out there
    believing this, and he made it all up. The Legendarian Order hasn’t even existed for more than 3000 years, when—surprise surprise—all those creation myths about Mew and Arceus started springing up.”

    Giovanni waited and listened in silence. Little of this came as a surprise to him; the initial startle when the visitor to see him turned out to be Mew was all. He was not complaining. This valuable information to be catalogued and used was falling straight into his hands, and he hadn’t even had to torture anyone to get it.

    “And then the next part of the creation mythos, the Big Ones. Dialga and Palkia. Groudon and Kyogre. Yveltal and Xerneus. They’re real, but they’re so strong even Arceus doesn’t stand a chance against them. He doesn’t want that to get out, not even to the other Legends. Nothing to contest his status as the ultimate being. Even as our whole Legendarian Order does damage control to keep them from surfacing. They don’t even know what they’re protecting.

    “And here’s the biggest kicker: Legends are positions, not people. Anyone can become one, if they’re bestowed the divine power. See,
    that’s how he gets you. He comes down from his big, shiny hall up in the mountains, and asks you if you want to be a god. Who says no to that? No-one I can think of. But once he has you… He doesn’t care about you anymore. He just puts you to work, remains deaf to your pleas, and strips you of your powers when you fail. He doesn’t know how many lives he’s ruined because of that, how many people couldn’t go back to being normal after that.”

    Mew stopped, realizing he had been rambling for a while. Noticing the silence, Giovanni finishes typing the words into the touchpad and looks at his visitor.

    “This is all very valuable information, thank you.”

    “It’s only a taste of everything else I can give you.”


    “Do you not have concerns about your choice in buyer?” Giovanni asked, already knowing the answer. “Why not take your grievances public?”

    “If I take it public, the entire Legendarian Order will stand against me. I’m giving it to someone with a chance, someone not on their radar. I’m gonna sucker punch him where it counts, and then I’m going to vanish. You make me disappear and give me enough money to set me up for a good long while, and I’ll pull all the information out of the Hall of Origin you could ever ask for.”

    “Then it seems we have reached a satisfactory arrangement,” Giovanni said with a final few clicks into his touchpad. He leaned forward, clasping his hands. “If you will disguise yourself accordingly, my secretary Matori will hash out the fine print legalities with you.”

    “That can happen.”

    They shook, hand to paw.


    “May this partnership spell a bright future for us both.”
     
    Last edited:
    Prelude, Ann I - Inconvenient
  • SparklingEspeon

    Up To No Good
    Staff
    Location
    *teleports behind you*
    Pronouns
    She/Her
    Partners
    1. espurr
    2. fennekin
    3. zoroark
    04.

    Inconvenient

    Everyone has someone like Dot the latios in their life. You know them when you see them, or rather when you hear them, because they will take the opportunity to argue with you every chance they get and they will never stop. Dot is one of those people. He’s the kind of person to order a sixteen inch-pizza with five-minute delivery, time the delivery, and then measure the pizza with a ruler when it gets there. I haven’t talked to him in a while. Guess why.

    Technically the reason why is that he never shows up to the Hall of Origin, because he’s persnickety about how he runs his day and can’t be assed to take detours. It’s convenient. He doesn’t have to waste his time, and I don’t have to listen to him argue with me.

    Anyways, here was Dot the latios in front of my desk, arguing with me. Which is inconvenient. Something else about Dot, he’s like an inconvenient grimer. He always shows up when I need him the least.

    “Look,” Dot said. “You’re Mew. You know things.

    “And for the last time,” I began, masking my annoyance with the tone used by all those pokemon center nurses who stopped caring long ago and learned to take rude, medically misinformed customers like a champ, “In this case I don’t know things. If I suddenly have my two-o-clock period of omniscience or, better, learn something about all this, then I will let you know.”

    It was catty (har har, yes pun), but we’d been over this five times already.

    Dot sighed. I could see him simmering, and somehow, I’d lost the ability to care. Stick a hat on me and call me Nurse Joy, I guess.

    “If you really don’t know anything, why can’t you just fire up that thingamabob—” Dot gestured with a blue back fin towards the clear chutes that paperwork came down in from. “that tells you where all the Legends are at any time?”

    “That’s not how it works,” I said.

    “What happened to your system being ‘all knowing’?”

    “The system captures events of note, not every random flight you take in the woods,” I said. Now I was getting irritable. “Do you know how much paperwork I’d be drowning in if this thing actually catalogued everything?”

    “Well, how much paperwork do you do each day? Maybe you missed something.”

    “Look,” I said, dropping the pokemon center nurse act. “If I had a paper to give you, I would have given it to you the first time. I just don’t.”

    Technically, I was telling the truth. When the paper detailing Cherry’s location in a Team Rocket base came in through the chute, I destroyed it so thoroughly that no-one, not even another Legend, would be able to put it back together again. And that was if they found it first. Good luck, because I fed it to a convenient grimer and then chucked the remains into Mt. Chimney.

    That made three crimes I was guilty of now. Breaking council code, collaborating with humans, and now destruction of information. A couple more and I’d be setting records.

    I could see the worry on Dot’s face. Dot was aggressive and could argue in circles to no end, but he did look out for Cherry even during her most reckless stunts. Lying to his face didn’t feel great, but what choice did I have? The more pokemon knew, the more pokemon I had to worry about. And the more likely it’d become that Cherry would be killed.

    “Look…” Dot began. I breathed a deep breath, stirring myself up to cut a sixth round of the same argument short, but what he said was different this time. “I know you and Cherry have your thing going on. If you two got into trouble or something, or if she got into trouble, then just, let me know! I can help. I’m not going to rat on you or anything, just let me help out. I care too.”

    What I had to tell him next made me feel like I’d swallowed both a convenient and inconvenient grimer: “I’m sorry, Dot, but you’re reading way too much into this. If I see something, I’ll tell you. I promise.”

    I could see Dot’s fins droop a little. He was finally realizing there was nothing I was going to tell him.

    “Hey, why don’t you go sweep Alola?” I weakly offered. “I heard she was chasing wingull there a day ago.”

    “Wasn’t she doing that in Alto Ma—”

    “She chased it to Alola soon after,” I interrupted. “It’s a small commute.”

    “It’s really not.”

    I shrugged. “It’s what the machine says.”

    “I want to see the re—”

    “You’re not seeing the receipts.”

    Sad time over. It was not what the machine said. But I needed to keep him out of my hackles until I could figure out how to fix all this. Which would be very inconvenient to do if I let him keep arguing at me.

    Dot sighed. It was a sigh that said “I don’t believe you, and I know you’re lying to me, but I’m going to back off for now and give us both some time to think“.

    That’s a mouthful. He has very expressive sighs.

    With a shrug and a reluctant “thanks for the help”, he turned around and flew at a steady, reasonable pace through the hall and out.

    Once I was sure he was gone, I collapsed against my desk and let out a huge, dramatic sigh of relief. I hadn’t felt that backed up against a wall since the time I nearly got licked to death by a horde of lickitung while backed up against a wall. Long story.

    The day was spent doing what I usually did. File paperwork, dust up around the place when I wasn’t busy with paperwork, try to ignore the big problem in the room. Just, normal day stuff. We couldn’t get wandering hikers in here, but we apparently could get wandering mountain dust and snow. My mind was two regions over as I did the menial work.

    I hadn’t even figured out a plan yet. Cherry was suffering down there in a cell, all locked up and waiting for me to figure out how to get her out… and here I was, dusting floors up here like nothing was wrong.

    But on the other paw… what was I going to do? Stomp in there and demand they gave her back? Granted, there were a thousand ways to do that, but none that weren’t risky, and none that wouldn’t end with an interrogation from Arceus.

    There was something else stuffed back in the desk I was idly dusting. I recognized what it was immediately: the black phone Team Rocket had given me a couple of days ago. It hadn’t rung at all since I’d been given it, and I’d been letting it collect dust in a dark place where I didn’t have to think about it.

    Guess I didn’t stuff it back far enough, because I was thinking about it anyway.

    I reached a paw in, letting the joints grow just dexterous and opposable enough to grab the phone and manipulate it the way a pair of human hands would.

    It had a hinge that flipped up, and the top half was a shiny black screen. The bottom half had buttons with numbers from one to ten, and green and red buttons on the very end. It was completely dead. I looked at my reflection on the smooth black screen, studying it idly as my mind wandered in thought. This thing was the cause of so much of my problems, and I kept it in my desk like it was no big deal.

    I had the sudden urge to chuck it out the window.

    Then it suddenly lit up and buzzed.

    I, the fearless secretary, yelped, letting it slip out of my paws. It nearly hit the floor before my tail morphed into an aipom’s hand and caught it. I raised it to my face, watching as it continued to buzz and light up like a charjabug tangled in several party lights. I guessed I was supposed to press the green button at the bottom.

    Once I did, the buzzing stopped, and a voice came through the speakers: “Mew?”

    “That’s me,” I said, somehow keeping my voice stable. Inwardly, I gulped. Was I really doing this?

    “Splendid,” the voice came back through the phone. Even through the line that was fuzzy this high up on the mountains, I could tell it was Giovanni speaking to me.

    “I have your first task ready for you,” he said, sounding perfectly relaxed. Like this was just another Tuesday for him. Or whatever day it was, I think Tuesday was yesterday. I guess he didn’t get the memo.

    “What is it?” I asked reluctantly after a period of silence. He wanted me to play along.

    “Go into your room of records, and get me the location of Keldeo,” Giovanni said.

    I wanted to ask him how he knew about the Room of Records, but he already knew a lot of things that he shouldn’t. In comparison to what he knew already, what was this?

    More importantly, he’d just demanded the location of another legendary. That could only mean one thing: he was after more of us. Was two not enough? Was he collecting us?

    Man, that’s weird. I didn’t peg him as some kind of depraved antique collector, but there have been weirder rich people.

    “It’ll take me a while to get that information,” I said.

    “I expect a call before the end of the day,” Giovanni said. There was a click, and the phone hung up.

    I stared at my reflection in the black glass of the phone once more, a defeated look on my face. Then my tail suddenly cramped, and the aipom fingers on the end spasmed, before slowly beginning to retreat back into my tail. I flipped forward in midair, once again catching the phone with my own two paws before it hit the ground. I could never hold a transformation for too long before that happened, no matter how I tried.

    Grabbing a few of the rolled-up papers that had come out through the chute while I was on the phone, I quickly stuffed them in their respective folders without reading them and went back into the Room of Records. They’d be flattened, but still readable if anyone actually cared, which I didn’t.

    In all my three years of working at the Hall of Origin, I had never actually seen Keldeo. It was that way for most of the Legends—I read about what the more active smaller ones did by the papers that came through the chute, and heard about the inactive larger ones because those were the ones that could destroy an eighth of the world if they ever woke up. But inactive smaller Legends were a grey area.

    Keldeo was one of the lower legends who was… inactive. Or at least, well-behaved enough that stuff on them never turned up in the chutes. That meant that after I’d finished zipping around the massive room and stuffing things in their respective cabinets, the next stop was Keldeo’s personal cabinet section, which, according to the “helpful” color-code directory next to the door that I swear likes to look at me when I’m not looking at it, was colored a deep turquoise.

    Apparently Keldeo had a whole aisle of cabinets. They were near the back of the room where I never went unless I fancied taking long, five-minute glides in a room that gave me the creeps. It’s very atmospheric, I do it never. But holy shit whoever Keldeo was, they were almost as bad as Vic. Almost.

    With so many cabinets, it didn’t matter which one I pulled open, though I went for the drawer closest to the aisle. If the room was creepy, the aisles were straight up convenient murder spots. I don’t go any further into those than I have to.

    I pulled out one of the teal folders, feeling its unfamiliar surface in my paws. My predecessor had filed these. With so many filings and then a sudden cutoff, I wondered if Keldeo got fired and the replacement was just well-behaved or something. Either way, this was the last one in the drawer. The last thing he’d filed for Keldeo.

    Flipping it open, I read the information on the page—Keldeo had been involved in some berserk feud between several powerful forest pokemon, and the resulting battle wasn’t good for the forest. He didn’t walk away unscathed—that explained the sudden cutoff. Probably.

    There wasn’t any information about his current location, but after reading to the end of the file I found the report that stated his last sighting was near a forest-bound Pokemon Ranger ranch in Unova. Which was better than nothing, but life kept leading me back to Unova and I was ready to file a complaint with… myself, I guess. Complaints don’t make it past the secretary.

    I took the paper out of the file, stuffed everything else back into the cabinet, and let it roll shut with a click. It echoed out through the endless room, the sound growing fainter as it went. It was almost a moment before my ears didn’t pick it up again.


    \|o|/

    Unova in the fall is like a half-cooked freezer biscuit. It somehow manages to be warm and chilly at once, and lacks natural splendor and flavor in the way only freezer biscuits do, but most importantly the analogy works because my hate for Unova and my hate for freezer biscuits is equal.

    One toilet flush later, and I was surrounded by the continental personification of freezer biscuit. Keeping to the intermittent clouds in the sky as cover, I flew over flat woodland forests, following the river below. The sun shone down through the clouds and warmed my back, but the wind that flew in my face chilled me through my fur. Another thing about Unova, it really makes you feel like a half-cooked freezer biscuit.

    I looked down, recognizing a patch of the river that I was flying over. If I knew my maps right, I was supposed to be near that ranger ranch down below, but that was… Hey… that was where Vic had asked to be teleported!

    Typical Vic. Of course he’d want to be in the place where they pampered you for being fluffy. At least if he was in the area, I could ask him if he knew anything. I flew down, following the river until I could touch the tops of the pine trees as I flew past. They were prickly.

    After another minute of flying, I slowed down and used the trees as cover. I could see my destination up ahead: A massive clearing where the trees let up. It was surrounded by an idyllic wooden fence, and there were at least a hundred pokemon who were lounging around in the sun and the shade of the trees. A bit further in, there were a few log houses that sat silent on the other side of the plantation. The lights were on in some of the windows, and I could see a human or two lounging around near the cabins.

    I scanned the area, looking for anything that looked like a growlithe amongst the other ‘mon in the area. Growlithe weren’t native to Unova, so if Vic was here, he’d stick out like a ditto in a swarm of golbat.

    That analogy makes more sense once you see one.

    It didn’t take long before I spotted him. He was lazily sunning himself near the middle of the clearing, surrounded by a few of the smaller pokemon in the area. Jackpot. I lowered myself to the forest, and let my form ripple away. Ten seconds later, I squeezed between the cracks in the fence and trotted out into the clearing as a normal espeon. Many of the pokemon in the area were looking at me funny as I walked through. I tried my best to put on a face that said I belonged here—after all, I was a pokemon. It was being a pokemon not native to Unova that was the inconvenient part.

    Getting within earshot of Vic meant hearing Vic, and I could hear him telling some tall tale that was unfortunately not made up to a group of very young pokemon who sat in front of him.

    I cleared my throat, catching Vic’s attention. He stopped talking and glanced at me.

    “Do you need something?” he asked. “I’m in the middle of telling a story!”

    I gave him my best blank stare and waited for him to figure it out. If that gave him any idea, then he didn’t show it. Disappointing—he’d seen it enough times by now for sure.

    The silence continued. I tried to make my stare even blanker. He just blinked. One of the very young pokemon laughed.

    “Vic,” I finally admitted defeat. “It’s me.”

    It was still a moment before he caught on. His face lit up with shock.

    “Oh,” he choked out. “Ann. It’s you. Uhh…” he looked at all the kids who were expectantly sitting in front of him. “Uhh… storytime’s over! I have to do, uh, adult things.”

    We went to a place in the clearing that was secluded enough from the rest of the pokemon in the area that we could talk in peace.

    “Is my week up already?” Vic asked. “I thought it was only two days.”

    “Not quite,” I said. “I’m here on… high council business.” The words felt dirty in my mouth.

    Vic suddenly looked spooked.

    “It’s not about you,” I clarified immediately. He looked a lot more relaxed.

    That was probably pretty telling about our relationship.

    “I’m looking for Keldeo,” I said without mincing any more words.

    “Keldeo?” Vic asked, scratching his mane with a hind leg. He sounded surprised. “What did Keldeo do?”

    “Keldeo didn’t do anything,” I said, nonchalantly waving it off. It was time to see how well I could bluff this. “We’re just doing… high council check-ins. We do them roughly every three years.”

    Vic looked nonplussed. “Well, I’ve been around for six years, and no-one ever did one of those for me…”

    “Maybe we’d do one if I wasn’t chasing you down for something every other month,” I pointed out. “There just wasn’t ever a need.”

    “Touché…”

    “So, do you know anything?” I asked, steering the conversation back on track. Vic puffed out his cheeks. Some steam puffed out of his ears.

    “I’ll take that for… not no?” I prompted after a minute of him standing there. Eventually, Vic had held his breath for too long and needed to get more air.

    “Yeah, I know him,” Vic said. “We hang out. He doesn’t go out much anymore, so I go to him. But you’re not gonna probate me longer for this, right? I know we’re not supposed to do the whole socializing with other Legends thi—”

    “Look, I don’t care about that,” I said, cutting him off. “I just need to see him, and because he doesn’t do anything I have no idea where he’s at. Can you take me there?”

    Vic pretended to think about it for a moment. I fought the urge to wilt. He wasn’t going to be easy about this, was he.

    “Hmm…” he said, drawing out the mock thinking process. “What’s in it for me?”

    “Not getting three more days lumped onto your probation for being difficult about a high council matter.” I wasn’t here for jokes right now.

    Vic puffed out his cheeks again, then made a ‘pffbt’ sound with them.

    “You drive a cruel bargain,” he admitted.

    “It’s what I do.”

    Vic got up from where he was sitting, stretched, then waved me on with his head fluff as he began to walk towards the west side of the clearing. “Come on,” he said. “Keldeo’s this way.”

    Vic led me into the trees, down a couple of slopes, over the stream that flowed by the ranger ranch, and then into a small alcove that sheltered a mossy cave. Vic stopped there, and swung his bushy tail to block me from going forward. “He doesn’t like unannounced visitors.”

    The growlithe cleared his throat, then barked into the cave. “Yo, Keldeo! It’s me again!”

    It was a moment before there was a response. But soon enough, a shaky voice with a strong galarian accent floated out of the cave.

    “V-vic? Is that you, my friend?”

    “Yeah!” Vic yelled back. “And I brought a guest!”

    “A guest?!” the voice floated back, sounding alarmed. “You know I don’t like guests…”

    “It wasn’t up to me,” Vic said. “Your cue,” he said in a lower voice to me.

    I rose up off the ground, letting the pink light of my orb overtake me until I was Mew once again.

    “Keldeo?” I said, putting on my best business voice and letting it echo into the cavern. “This is Mew, from the Legendarian High Council.”

    “T-the High Council?” the voice drifted back, but I still didn’t see Keldeo. “W-well, what do they want?”

    “Oh, nothing major,” I replied back. “We’re just doing a checkup.”

    “O-oh? Well, if a checkup truly is all…”

    Keldeo was then silent.

    “I think we can go in,” Vic said. I just shrugged and floated in after him.

    Keldeo’s cave was surprisingly very little like a cave and a lot like an apartment in the city. Keldeo seemed to collect a lot of comic books, which sat in neat little stacks near the back of the cave. Somehow an entire sofa had been teleported into the cave, and there was a television with an antenna to the left that was currently dead. I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow at the sight. Of all things, that was… not what I had been expecting.

    Keldeo himself stood near the back. He looked a lot like a ponyta, if ponyta were tan all over and had multicolored manes. Something stuck out of his forehead. It looked like a horn, but it was way too small and blunt to be one. When I got closer, I saw that it was… ouch. That must have been what the file meant when it said he hadn’t walked away unscathed.

    Keldeo stirred the ground with a hoof and nervously tried to get my attention.

    “S-so you’ve seen what you need to, yes?” he asked. I had, but I still had to come up with something.

    “If you don’t have any feedback for us, then yes,” I said. “Do you?”

    Keldeo eagerly shook his head. It was probably for the best. It would never go anywhere.

    “That’s the pokemon who’s supposed to settle conflicts in this region?” I asked Vic once we were far enough from his cave that Keldeo wouldn’t hear. “He’s so… nervous.”

    “Keldeo’s a hermit,” Vic said. “Ever since he broke his horn, he hasn’t been able to muster up the courage to do his job. Took a while for him to be comfortable even around me, and that’s just ‘cause I brought him comics.”

    I nodded. That explained all the strange things in that cave. Somehow I couldn’t imagine Keldeo going out and getting those things himself.

    We walked back through the river, up several slopes, and into the trees. I hung back for a second to shift back into an espeon before following Vic out into the ranch area.

    “You’re going to be here until your week is up?” I said once we returned to the spot where Vic had been originally. The kids he’d been entertaining were busy playing in the background, but there were a few loose ends to tie up before their attention was caught again.

    “It’s not like I have anywhere else to be,” Vic said, rolling over. “Why?”

    “Just so I can find you,” I said. “Tracking people down is time-consuming.”

    Vic, flopped down and rolled over on his back, gave his best attempt at a shrug. “I’m here if you need to find me.”

    “Got it,” I said, and then in a flush I teleported out of there. It later struck me that a lot of pokemon in the area must have seen an espeon teleporting when that wasn’t supposed to be possible. But espeon weren’t native to unova, so I was counting on them being ignorant. A convenient pass.

    My eyes swam with light, and when it dissolved a second later, I was standing in the Hall of Origin again. It was just as empty as it had always been—Arceus basically never came down here, and I didn’t seem to have any visitors at the moment. Dot was probably still busy combing Alola.

    Glancing around both ways to make sure I really wasn’t being watched, I floated over to my desk with all the energy of a limp pyukumuku. My stomach did a flip, then another as I reached into my desk and pulled out the black phone that lay there. Giovanni wanted it by the end of the day. Well… I looked out the window, where the sun was beginning to set. The end of the day was nearly here.

    A tap of the green button, and the phone began to call probably the only number it was able to. There was a click, and I could tell that the line had been opened. But no voice came out.

    Figuring I was supposed to speak first, I opened my mouth and spoke into the microphone:

    “Keldeo’s location is a cave to the south of the Pokemon Ranger Ranch in Unova.”

    Silence. I sent one more cursory glance around to make sure that no-one had heard me. Then, the voice I had heard from the microphone before began speaking.

    “Excellent. A drone is being sent to verify your information as we speak. Please stay on the line until we can confirm your information.”

    Of course he’d be checking to see if I was pulling a fast one on him. That was another Grade A Villain thing.

    They were sending a team over there right now to extract Keldeo, the meek horse who lived out in the middle of the woods all on his own and had never even done anything to warrant a filing in three years, and he placed his trust in me, and Vic placed his trust in me, and Dot grudgingly placed his trust in me, and I let them all down. And now Team Rocket was going to…

    “Your information is confirmed. Thank you for your assistance.”

    That quick? What had they done to him?

    “I want my friend back,” I said into the microphone. It was all I could think to say. A laugh met my ears.

    “Oh, but we haven’t reached the end of our little agreement yet. I still have need for you.”

    “At least let me see her. I need to know she’s safe.”

    “Rest assured she is being treated with as much hospitality as any of our other hostages. Which is to say that her safety is guaranteed… as long as you continue to follow orders.”

    I couldn’t keep myself restrained anymore. “Well let me see her, you—”

    “Goodbye, Mew.”

    The line hung up. Everything went quiet, including me.

    I didn’t dare call it again.


    \|R|/

    Giovanni flipped the phone closed, cutting the bothersome mew off mid-sentence. He flipped a switch, and the phone lost power completely. If she called him back, he wouldn’t see it. They wouldn’t have contact again until he needed her once more.

    The drone on his computer was surveying the cave Mew had talked about right now. He could, sure enough, see the secluded alcove she was talking about. And within, the sleeping form of the legendary horse. It was a shame they didn’t yet have the technology to extract the pokemon automatically.

    He pressed a button, and spoke into the microphone that stuck up out of his desk.

    “Bring me Executive Petrel, please.”

    There was a click, and he removed a gloved finger from the button. Only a few minutes later, the door opened, and a lanky man with pointy purple hair walked in. He was hunched over, and stared out at Giovanni through droopy eyes.

    “You called?” he asked. His voice sounded gravelly.

    “Petrel,” Giovanni said. “Petrel, Petrel, Petrel.”

    “That is my name, Boss.”

    “I’ve got an assignment for you.”

    Petrel had already been standing to attention, but he looked a little less droopy after that.

    “Well, go on,” he said.

    “We’ve located our target,” Giovanni said. “I’ll forward you the main location and co-ordinates. This will be a unique extraction mission that will require talents specifically suited to your toolkit.”

    “Oh?” Petrel asked. “Stealth mission, I assume?”

    “The target is located near a pokemon ranger ranch on protected woodlands,” Giovanni said. “Our objective is to get in and out without anyone noticing. Rangers are a very pesky and persistent lot. The last thing Team Rocket needs is our faces plastered on the Castella City Times if they find us. You’ll need to operate under their noses, gain access to the property somehow. Stop them from interfering. You will have Team Rocket’s full resources at your fingertips. Are you up to the task?”

    Petrel shrugged. “I’m not the head of disguise for nothing. When do we head out?”

    “Tonight,” Giovanni said. “At your earliest convenience. We don’t know if this target is stationary.”


    \|M|/

    The claims had been filed with Arceus, and my job was done for the day. I carefully left out everything he wasn’t supposed to hear, like the fact that I’d jaunted off to a pokemon ranch for the day and visited Keldeo. Did he suspect me? If he did, he was keeping his cards close to his chest. Considering what he had done to the one who came before me, that didn’t seem like his style. And Arceus never shook it up.

    I lay on my small hammock in a nook near the back of the hall, staring at the glittering stars in the night sky above and trying not to think about what I had just done. I’d sentenced an innocent legend, one who hadn’t done anything wrong, to become the latest piece in the gallery of Kanto’s most deranged collector. Who would he ask for next? Maybe Vic. Maybe Dot. And whatever he wanted with the other legends… I was handing it all to him on a silver platter. And the worst part was that there was nothing that I could do.

    Shuffling over to the side of the hammock. Suddenly I wasn’t in the mood for stars. I tried to convince myself that I couldn’t do anything anyway, and what point was there in trying? If I interfered, I’d just risk Cherry’s life. But how many other legends had to die or suffer for Cherry to live? And what guarantee was there on when I’d see her again? After two? After three? After ten?

    Deep down, I knew the answer: Never. I’d never see her again, not if I played by Team Rocket’s rules. They were trying to get their hands on Legends, why would they ever willingly release one? I couldn’t help but let out a morbid chuckle at the idea. They were just leading me on. They’d use me to get as many Legends as they could, and once I outlived my usefulness, they’d take Cherry and capture me too.

    I really didn’t have anything to lose, did I? If I did nothing, it was all downhill from here for me. And I could consider Cherry gone either way. There was no good answer. Ugh, why did everything have to be so… inconvenient?

    But if I had nothing to lose, then… I found myself floating upright off my hammock. That meant I stood everything to gain. A sudden adrenaline began to flow through my body, making me feel as alert as ever.

    I could give this crazy collector guy a dose of his own medicine. I couldn’t stop them out in the open, but I sure could make things very… inconvenient for them. I just had to make sure they didn’t see me doing it.

    I rose up out of my hammock and into the air, preparing to toilet flush myself all the way to Unova. I didn’t have time to waste.

    It was time to fix my mistake.
     
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