Chapter 39: SPECIAL ~ The World's Strongest Pokémon
Chapter 39: SPECIAL ~ The World's Strongest Pokémon
February 6, 19XX
MEW gave birth. We named the newborn Mewtwo.
The Multiparity Exogenous Womb finally produced a viable specimen, but it is nowhere close to what the sponsor is looking for. What I'm looking for.
Height: 10 cm. Weight: 0.3 kg. Heart rate: 190 bpm. Blood pressure: 50/30 mmHg.
Between that and Mewtwo's... friability to the probes, we had no choice but to place it in a stasis tube.
I wanted to think B was blowing smoke when he said the incomplete DNA was too unstable, but he's right. Even if we place more embryos in MEW, it won't matter. At best, they will be just as premature as Mewtwo. At worst, they will abort like every embryo before it, wasting precious resources.
To combat this, B suggested augmentation with human DNA.
But I can't lose all this progress. Not when I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Not when I can finally hold my sweet little girl's hand once more.
So, the choice is obvious. If it means he'll continue sponsoring my work, then I'll do the gene splicing.
The only thing I need to be sure of is who provides the genetic sample. No doubt the sponsor would want to do it, but I cannot allow that to happen.
Even research as ethically gray as this has a line. I refuse to allow Mewtwo to share his genes. It would spell disaster for all of Kanto.
It was floating. It didn't know why it knew it was floating, only that it was sure of it.
The next thing it registered was warmth. Again, it wasn't sure how it knew what "warmth" was. But it knew it was warm. And it liked that. Warmth was nice. It wanted more warmth.
This was troubling. It knew things. It could think. But what was it? Why was it thinking? Why did it know about concepts like weight and temperature?
Perhaps if it broke through the darkness in front of it?
Yes, that was it. It knew how to do that, too. Very simple. Just a few tiny muscles to move.
It opened its eyes. Everything was blurry. Blurry and green. More concepts it knew for some mysterious reason. And those concepts quickly linked together to form a conclusion.
Liquid. That was what it was inside. Why it was weightless. The liquid suspended it. Blinded it to what lay ahead.
It looked up, but only found more liquid.
What about down? No, still green. Left and right, then? Some gray things. Too blurry to appreciate. And its weightlessness prevented it from moving through the liquid, even though it was sure it had more muscles than the ones around its eyes.
... Wait. Something changed. There were more shapes in the distance. Shapes that moved around quickly... and then multiplied! Small circles on top of big ovals. Cylinders flailing around.
It was... amusing? Yes, that had to be it!
But amusement made it tired. Or maybe that was all the thinking? Either way, it didn't have the strength to keep its eyes open.
April 11, 19XX
At last, a breakthrough! After weeks of nothing but alpha, theta, and delta waves on the EEG, we finally caught a sustained burst of beta waves. Sure, the previous results were encouraging, but beta means Mewtwo is dreaming! Its mind is churning with activity. And the beta waveforms share similar patterns to humans.
Yes, the human gene splicing stabilized its body and let it grow, but now I have proof the genes are improving this pokémon.
If Mewtwo is developing neurons comparable to a human's, then I can do it! I can ensure Amber is just as lively and thoughtful as they day I lost her!
Today is a triumph for science.
When it opened its eyes, it wasn't in green liquid. The weightlessness was still there, so it had to be floating. But that familiar warmth was gone. Instead, it was surrounded by blue that stretched out farther than it could see. Small white clusters sat scattered across the blue expanse.
Sky. This was a sky. And the white clusters were clouds.
It looked down. There was green far below, but not the same green as before. This green was brighter. Softer, perhaps. It was also static. With tiny needles pointing up.
The word popped into its mind instantaneously. And this much grass, underneath a clear sky, meant it was floating above plains.
But how did it get here?
That would have to wait, because it realized something else was different from before. It could move. It had two gray legs, ending with two nubby toes on each gray foot. When it turned its feet inward, it spotted an additional toe on the back of each foot.
Could it wiggle them? Yes, yes it could! It curled its toes, then uncurled them, then curled them again. The front toes moved a lot more than the back ones. Good to know.
There was a darker gray that went between its legs. It followed the dark gray, turning around to find it led to a tail. The tail lazily hung down, but it was confident it could move that, too. A swish to the left, then right. Up and down. It could even curl it up into a circle. Wow, it was so flexible!
It then spotted its left arm. There were three fingers on its hand. Each one ended with a slightly bigger sphere. It curled its fingers, then uncurled them. It flexed and extended each one individually.
It could've wasted so much more time with such simple things, had a bright flash not caught its attention.
There was a new color in the distance: gold.
Curiosity piqued, it flew— yes, flew forward. The gold got larger and larger. It wasn't long before the gold was bigger than it. And it made out other colors in the middle of gold. Red next to orange next to yellow. Greens and blues side by side. Wow, so many colors! What was with this colorful beacon?
It came to a stop. And, for the first time, it spoke.
Gold brightened. The bright hurt its eyes. It had to shield them with its right arm.
"Ah, so you can talk. That's good."
Gold didn't have a mouth, but his voice was loud.
"You sound like you're echoing in my head." It rubbed its right cheek with its right hand.
"Yes, that's how telepathy works," Gold responded.
Telepathy. When psychics talk using their minds. It wasn't surprised it pulled that definition up so quickly. It seemed to know so many things.
"This is your dream, after all," Gold continued. "I'm projecting myself into your mind."
"My dream," it parroted, looking around. So, it made all of this. Except none of it was real. That probably meant it was still in the green fluid.
Best to make the most of this dream, then. Starting with its visitor. He didn't sound like he was a natural part of the dream.
"Why are you here?" it wondered.
Gold rippled. "I sensed your aura."
"Aura." It furrowed its brow. "That's... from my life force."
"Close enough," Gold said. He sounded impressed with it. "And it's unlike anything I've ever felt in my travels."
"Your travels?" Its tail drifted back and forth. "So, you get to go to lots of places? I bet that's a lot of fun."
Gold dimmed. "I... do go a lot of places, yes."
This was a new tone: sadness. It hadn't heard sadness before, but its chest grew heavy. "Why are you sad? Do you not like visiting new places?"
"I don't," Gold replied, dimming further. His rainbow dimmed, too. "The places I've gone... people are terrified of me. They don't know what I am."
It looked at the rainbow, eyes brimming with curiosity. "What are you?"
"I don't know."
"Really?" Its gaze fell toward the grass. "Because... I don't know what I am, either. I've heard the shapes say 'Mewtwo' sometimes. But I do not know what 'Mewtwo' means." It crossed its arms. "I think... it might be my name?"
"Mewtwo." Gold hummed, then gradually brightened a bit. "Well, I know Mew is a pokémon. A very rare one. You... look a bit like it. But you're not quite the same."
"Oh." Mewtwo curled its tail around its right leg. "Is that... bad?"
"Not necessarily." Gold sounded unsure. "It sounds like you're related to Mew. So, even if you don't know what you are, you do know that much. Which is good."
So, Mewtwo had a relative. Relatives were family. And, according to Gold, families were good. That was enough to get Mewtwo to uncurl its tail. "What about you? Do you have family?"
Gold dimmed again. "I do not."
Mewtwo frowned. "But you must have relatives, right?"
"What about friends?" It knew they weren't necessarily the same thing as family, but could still be good.
"None." Gold sighed. "I've been many places, but I've never been able to stay for long. This planet... I'm new to it. Like you, I suppose. But I'm hiding. Because I'm afraid of what will happen if someone finds me."
"Oh." Mewtwo looked down again. Another term popped into its head. "That sounds lonely."
Gold dimmed further. "It is." He sounded exhausted. Mewtwo wrung its hands. Gold didn't seem that bad to it. Even if Mewtwo didn't know what Gold was.
"Maybe... I could be your friend?" Mewtwo floated closer to Gold. His light was warm. Not the same warm as the green liquid, but still comforting. The end of Mewtwo's tail wagged ever so slightly.
"I... am practically a stranger to you." Gold drifted back slightly. "You should be more cautious. Especially since I'm projecting into your dream."
Mewtwo's tail drooped. "Sorry. I just thought... because we have things in common, we'd make good friends."
Silence followed. Since Mewtwo couldn't see a face, it had no idea what Gold was thinking. His glow pulsated the entire time. Maybe Mewtwo was supposed to say something else? Except it didn't know what else to say. All it could do was stare at Gold with a pleading look in its eyes.
Eventually, Gold sighed. It was softer than before, however. "Okay. I suppose... there's no harm in us getting together again." After a pause, Gold added, "In your dreams. It's still too dangerous for me to leave my hiding place."
A smile slowly spread across Mewtwo's face. "Great! Thank you, Gold!"
His glow flickered in surprise. "Gold?" A chuckle echoed across the plains. "Ah, I guess I didn't tell you my name."
Mewtwo shook his head.
"You can call me Bahamut."
June 7, 19XX
We're making tremendous progress. We drained Mewtwo's pod and disconnected its breathing and feeding tubes for six hours today without incident. Vitals were stable. Cardiac telemetry showed no arrhythmias.
Mewtwo possesses a strong intellect. Each time we interact with it, its fund of knowledge has grown by leaps and bounds. It's exceeding all of our projections. We have a pokémon that displays reasoning and critical thinking skills on par with university-level students. And this is after only four weeks of cognitive exercises.
I knew B's DNA was the correct choice to use, but this is simply astounding. Not to mention how impressive its EEGs look when it slumbers.
Surely, when I present this information to G, he will be pleased with our decision regarding the human genes.
And, of course, my personal project is bearing fruit. Amber's second embryo successfully implanted in the artificial uterus. I'll do an ultrasound in two weeks to assess for cardiac activity.
Everything is going smoothly. This is beyond my wildest dreams.
Mewtwo had gotten good at cultivating its dream landscape. Today, it made a large, grass-covered hill looking over a pond as still and blue as the sky above. Mewtwo sat on the edge of the hill, lazily kicking its legs at the air.
"I think they're going to permanently let me out of the pod soon." It wagged the end of its tail. "The humans are really impressed with me."
"As they should. You're a fast learner."
Mewtwo looked over its right shoulder. Bahamut was next to it. He matched Mewtwo's height, though he was still nothing more than a gold silhouette with multicolored slits in the middle.
"Well, I've got a good teacher." It smiled at Bahamut, earning a pleased hum in the process.
Mewtwo stuck its tongue out playfully, then turned back to look at its distant reflection in the pond. "What about you? Have you left your hiding spot yet?"
There was a long pause, then Bahamut bent forward. "I have, actually. And I met someone. A human."
"And?" Mewtwo twirled its right hand around. "What kind of meeting? Good? Bad? Somewhere in the middle?"
"Good, I think."
Bahamut slowly nodded. "It was… strange. The human was young. A child, I think? And… he didn't speak at all."
That was strange. The humans that looked after Mewtwo all spoke. A bit too quick for its liking, too. "Was he afraid of you?"
"Surprisingly, no," Bahamut replied. "In fact, he had this… look about him. A fierce determination in his eyes. I've never seen a look like it."
"So, what did you do?" Mewtwo rested its hands behind its head. "Sit in silence and stare at each other?" It had unsuccessfully tried to win multiple staring contests against Bahamut.
"You fought him?" Mewtwo's eyes widened.
"Not him directly. His pokémon." Bahamut chuckled again. "It was strange. Even though he didn't speak, his pokémon partners knew exactly what to do. And they were deceptively strong. Especially his pikachu and charizard."
He paused, then added, "I never thought I'd say this, but it was actually… fun."
Mewtwo raised a brow. "Okay. Why does that confuse you?"
Bahamut's gold silhouette prickled. "I have only ever fought to survive. To stop people from hurting me. The thought of battling being fun is... strange. Foreign. I'm not sure what to make of it."
"Is there anything I can do to help?" Mewtwo wondered.
"I appreciate the offer, but it's fine." A part of Bahamut's silhouette pet Mewtwo's head. It purred. "Because I looked into the pokémon's minds. They genuinely like this human. They're happy."
"Which is good," Mewtwo chirped. But when silence followed, it whispered, "Right?"
"Yes." Bahamut sounded tired. "It makes me wonder... if this is what I've been searching for all this time."
Mewtwo's eyes widened in recognition. "You mean a home?"
"Exactly. A home... with this human." Bahamut shifted about on the edge of the hill. "I admit that the thought of going inside one of those small spheres scares me. But the pokémon insisted they are okay inside the 'poké balls' as they're called."
That sounded familiar. Either Mewtwo's caretakers had mentioned poké balls or it was another concept it was created knowing. "What will you do?" it asked.
"I told the human I'd like to see him again," Bahamut responded. "That way I have some more time to think it over." He fixed his asymmetric rainbow shapes on Mewtwo. "And this way... neither of us have to worry about this connection being severed."
Mewtwo smiled. "That's very generous of you."
Bahamut's glow brightened. "That's what friends do for each other, right?"
June 21, 19XX
Mewtwo is gone. G showed up unannounced with an entire Rocket attaché. Perhaps Mewtwo sensed their ill intent, because it awakened from slumber and broke out of its containment tube. G captured it in something he called a "Master Ball." Then his stooges confiscated everything. Every file. Every hard drive.
They took Amber, too. Without a power source, the artificial womb will fail within thirty minutes.
B was nowhere to be found. Did he know this was coming? Why didn't he warn me?
All of my hard work— everything I was building is gone.
Mewtwo was small. Small and cold. Floating in some sort of void.
How did it get here? One moment, Bahamut was warning it. Telling it the ones who had created it were criminals and begging Mewtwo to break out of its confinement. But when it did as Bahamut instructed, it found a new human in a black suit waiting for it.
Now, it was floating in some sort of void. And the void was cold. Mewtwo didn't like this cold. It wanted it to—
Light spilled across Mewtwo's vision. The void gave way to a black floor. It was softer than the lab. Carpet? Mewtwo found itself looking at a pair of fancy black shoes. It followed those shoes to black dress pants, then a black suit jacket, and ending at a black-haired head with a confident smirk plastered across its face.
Mewtwo saw the patch with a red R on the man's breast pocket. That same red R was etched into the carpet behind him.
Its neck tube prickled. Mewtwo had to show defiance. This human had taken it from what was familiar. It wouldn't allow that to go unchecked. Mewtwo stood up and curled its lips into a snarl. Its eyes glowed deep blue as it tried to intimidate this new human.
But he wasn't impressed. Still smirking, he snapped his fingers.
Mewtwo didn't register what was happening until something hard and sharp struck the side of its head. It crumpled to the ground.
This was a new sensation: pain. And pain was terrible.
Vision blurry, Mewtwo spotted a rhydon foot. The human must've ordered it to pelt Mewtwo with rocks. But he didn't say anything.
Mewtwo's heartrate quickened. Bahamut said the silent human was a child, right? This man wasn't a child. Why could Rhydon understand what he wanted, then? Was Bahamut's friend related to him? Was that why he was trying to warn Mewtwo?
"You lack discipline."
… Never mind. He could speak. And his voice sent chills down Mewtwo's spine and neck tube. His voice wasn't like Bahamut's. It was cold. Detached.
Mewtwo refused to dignify him with telepathy. It hissed at Suit Man, then turned left and pointed its left hand at Rhydon. Satisfaction washed over Mewtwo as it effortlessly ensnared Rhydon and the rock spires it was readying in a psychic grip. Mewtwo flung Rhydon back, where it shattered a black coffee table.
"Better." Suit Man was clapping now. Slowly. That was sarcastic clapping. Mewtwo was sure of it. "But that is a fraction of the ferocity I'm looking for."
Mewtwo growled, tail lashing at the air. What he was looking for? Suit Man didn't deserve anything from Mewtwo.
Suit Man shook his head. That stupid smirk had yet to leave his face. "This is what I was afraid of. The human genes those lab rattata chose made you soft. All that dreaming set things back. But it's no matter." He stuck his hands into his coat pockets. "I will fix what those classless charlatans broke."
Fix? Nothing about Mewtwo needed fixing. It was happy as it was. How dare Suit Man talk about it that way.
"I can tell by the look on your face that you're ill-informed of your circumstances." Suit Man tapped his right temple with his right index finger. "I'm the one truly responsible for your creation. You are my tool. You exist to serve Team Rocket… as the world's strongest pokémon."
The smirk finally vanished, replaced by a stoic expression. Suit Man held up a strange purple ball with red nodules on it. "This is the proof that I own you."
Even though Mewtwo had never seen it before, it instantly realized it was the source of the void. Snarling, Mewtwo lunged for Suit Man.
He smirked once more and held up the ball. Mewtwo never got to strike him. Instead, it was back in the small, weightless void. Only this time, there wasn't silence. Suit Man continued to speak.
"No matter how strong the psyche, I can break it with some... proper instruction." A loud chuckle echo through the void. "Their mistake was putting too much emphasis on your mind and not on your physical strength. You're not some bleeding heart. You're a weapon."
The void shook. Was Suit Man moving Mewtwo's capture device? "I'll make sure to harden that heart you grew while you were sleeping. When we're finished... you'll be nothing but a blank slate. Ready and willing to do exactly what I order you to do the moment I order you to do it.
"I hope you enjoyed your precious dreams, because they're the last ones you'll ever have."
Mewtwo had its prey, a milotic, ensnared in its psychic grip. It didn't have to look back at Boss for orders. A single finger snap and it knew.
A mere flick of its wrist, and Milotic went flying past the edge of the arena. It slammed into the wall, leaving cracks in the Earth Badge that was painted there. That would be fixed by tomorrow, so the damage didn't matter.
It pulled Milotic away, sensing it was already unconscious. The prey was defeated, but its work wasn't done. Mewtwo readied to slam it into the wall again.
"Wait, stop! She's out!" a young brunette in a pink blouse cried. "It's over! Y-You won! Please, make it stop!"
Stop? No. A weapon didn't stop until its job was finished.
Perhaps today was the day. The day it got to fell a pokémon during one of these pointless gym ba—
Boss snapped his fingers.
Tsking, Mewtwo twisted its right hand a few degrees clockwise. Milotic went flying limply through the air. She barreled into her trainer, trapping the girl underneath her large, serpentine frame. Mewtwo swished its tail back and forth in amusement. It could obliterate both of them effortlessly. But, as usual, Boss required Mewtwo to show restraint. How irksome.
"In the end, you were nothing but boring."
Mewtwo glanced at Boss. Shadows obscured him, but Mewtwo's Miracle Eye let it see him sitting in his black leather chair, one leg crossed over the other and head resting on his left fist while his right jotted down notes on a memo pad.
"It's clear to me, Miss Neza, that your previous badges were obtained by dumb luck," Boss continued. "Or, perhaps, my colleagues were overly lenient. Regardless, the Indigo Plateau is no place for simpleton trainers with grandeur delusions. For both our sakes, I think it's best you never show your face here again. In fact..." He leaned forward. Just enough so his forehead stuck out from the shadows. "... I think it's best if you don't even remember Viridian has a gym."
He raised his left hand and snapped his fingers. That was Mewtwo's cue to end this farce the usual way. It turned back to Neza, eyes glowing pink, and raised its left hand. Mewtwo slid the girl out. Panicking, she kicked at the air with her legs. Mewtwo tightened its grip and she went stiff as a board.
"Oh, and don't worry about your pokémon." Boss chuckled. "We'll make sure they're put to good use. Doing real work for real trainers."
Mewtwo raised its other hand. It pulled six poké balls out of Neza's bag and dropped them over by Milotic's unconscious form. Neza's blue eyes widened. Tears glistened in their corners.
But then the glow in Mewtwo's eyes deepened. It saw into the girl's mind — her perspective as her six trusted partners were effortlessly dispatched by it — and erased those memories completely.
For a few fleeting moments, Mewtwo saw emptiness in Neza's eyes. Then she vanished in a rush of blue light as Mewtwo teleported her to the outskirts of Viridian City.
Thus, another gym battle came to an end. The hundred and twentieth challenger Mewtwo had dealt with. There were, of course, plenty of challengers Boss determined completely unworthy of its time, dispatching them with his other pokémon and sending them running off with their nonexistent tails between their legs. But ones who caught his attention, like Neza, would face Mewtwo. And when they lost, it would eject them with their memories in tatters; Mewtwo taking their pokémon for Team Rocket to "reprogram." Nobody asked questions because it was too infrequent. Boss was careful not to allow "interesting" challengers too close to one another.
And, just like the previous hundred and nineteen times, Mewtwo was bored. The young trainers could not put up a fraction of a fight. And Mewtwo couldn't fight to kill like it would on a proper mission for Team Rocket.
It was displeasing, but at the end of the day, Mewtwo was a weapon. It did what it was ordered to. Nothing more, nothing less.
Though something was different about today. Instead of calling it back, Boss rose from his seat. He approached Mewtwo, and it finally realized that Persian had been out of its ball the entire time. Likely sitting obediently beside Boss's chair.
"Excellent work, Mewtwo." Boss stuck his hands into his coat pockets. "I'm confident you're ready."
Mewtwo quirked a brow. It could read Boss's mind, but it was simpler to hear the answer from his lips.
"One of my teams told me that Zapdos has touched down at an abandoned power plant near the eastern coast," Boss explained. Persian arched her back slightly. She wasn't a fan of electric-types, clearly. "You're going to engage it. Understood?"
Finally, it had a worthy opponent.
The lightning was too large to dodge with teleportation. Mewtwo crossed its arms. A blue barrier materialized around it. The Thunder struck the barrier, pushing Mewtwo toward the ceiling. Closer and closer.
A finger snap sounded. Mewtwo thrust its arms apart. The remaining lightning evaporated.
Zapdos landed in the middle of some rubble, panting heavily. His Thunders were growing more desperate. He was desperate.
Sure, Mewtwo couldn't restrain Zapdos telekinetically. But it preferred the backup strategy: knocking out Zapdos so he couldn't deflect Boss's Master Ball with his attacks.
Zapdos' lightning was strong, but Mewtwo was stronger. And victory was within reach.
Standing behind his Rhydon, Boss snapped his fingers. Mewtwo's eyes and fingers glowed. Pink orbs completely surrounded Zapdos. He realized what was happening and raised his wings to take off.
However, Mewtwo was faster on the draw. It had to be. It was the world's strongest pokémon.
Mewtwo brought its arms together. The psychic orbs converged on Zapdos. A pink explosion swallowed Zapdos up along with the rubble and several broken machines dented and scorched by their battle. Mewtwo stared at it, chest rising and falling.
This was its first time using that attack in battle. Psystrike— that was what Boss called it. It was truly devastating. A powerful attack for a powerful pokémon. One that could go toe to toe with the legends themselves.
When the smoke and pink light faded, Zapdos was gone. In his place... was a Master Ball.
That was it. The prey was captured. Mewtwo had won. It truly was the strongest.
Several Rocket grunts funneled in, surrounding the inert Master Ball. Boss casually approached it, waving them off. Persian sauntered after him, flashing an intimidating grin at the nearest grunt, who couldn't help but flinch.
"One down, two to go." Boss knelt down and picked up the Master Ball. "Think of the possibilities. What government officials would pay to have pokémon like this under their control. We'll have them wrapped around our fingers like the suits at Silph and the spineless Viridian cops."
Mewtwo descended toward the ground. Two more meant Articuno and Moltres. The former might provide more of a challenge, if for no other reason than she could generate a hailstorm to throw Mewtwo off and damage it.
Boss turned back to Mewtwo. "I hope you're prepared. Once you've dealt with the other two birds, there'll be one more Kantonian target for you to hunt."
Mewtwo's eyes narrowed. Only one pokémon came to mind. The one it was created from: Mew.
Psychic probing proved frustrating for Mewtwo. It wasn't anything it hadn't done before, but Mew was elusive. Mewtwo was mentally probing over great distances. It was pushing itself. And, in some regards, it was exciting. Exhilarating. A true challenge for its powers, after Articuno and Moltres weren't up to the task.
But something was slowing down the process. No, not something. Someone. Another powerful psychic. Whoever it was, they were trying to worm their way into Mewtwo's probing. It refused to allow such intrusion. The mission was what mattered the most.
At first, Mewtwo relished the challenge of probing while keeping that powerful psychic at bay. However, after six weeks, it had grown boring.
Why was Mew so cowardly? Why did Mew refuse to show themselves for Mewtwo? Because it was afraid?
... Good. Mew should be.
The seventh week, however, finally brought Mewtwo the results it wanted.
It envisioned a shockingly small island. Triangular, with cool green grass surrounding soft, gray dirt. The island had three trees; one on each of its corners. And in the center of the island sat something small, pink, and vaguely feline.
She opened her eyes. Soft and blue. Brimming with curiosity. Mew tilted her head.
Mewtwo severed the mental connection immediately. Its mind returned to the cold, sterile gray room it sat in the middle of. It looked up at the map of Kanto fixed to the gray wall in front of it. Mewtwo flicked its right index finger. A black marker levitated up toward the small chain of islands far to the south. It circled the southwestern island of the archipelago.
A Rocket grunt stationed at the door pulled a radio from his belt. "Subject has marked a location. It's Birth Island. Repeat, it thinks Mew is on Birth Island."
Birth Island? What a ridiculous name. And Mewtwo wasn't about to wait for the humans to get their acts together. It had its orders.
A blink of light and it was in Boss's office. He was already standing at the side of his black oak desk, right hand outstretched. Mewtwo grabbed it and the two disappeared.
Within seconds, they stood on the very same grass Mewtwo had envisioned minutes ago. Mew was still in the center of the triangular island. Before she could turn to acknowledge them, Mewtwo thrust its right arm forward, flinging a Shadow Ball into her.
She squealed in pain, skipping across the ground. At that speed, she'd tumble off the island. Mewtwo teleported by the north tree, two more Shadow Balls at the ready. It threw them both down. They slammed into Mew, hammering her into the ground.
The cries echoed in Mewtwo's mind. How pathetic she was. This was the creature it was created from? What an absolute joke. Even some of those gym challengers put up an attempt at a fight.
Boss wanted Mew? In Mewtwo's eyes, she wasn't worth it. She wasn't strong. It was strong. The strongest. Superior to Mew in every way.
And yet, when Mew looked up at it, bruised eyes brimming with tears, Mewtwo hesitated. The fourth Shadow Ball it was charging shrank ever so slightly.
Mew seized on that hesitation. Her body glowed. She shakily rose into the air. Mewtwo realized she was going to teleport away.
But then a red glow surrounded her and she dropped back to the ground with a pained squeak. Mewtwo looked up and saw Boss's honchkrow standing obediently at his side, eyes glowing the same shade of red.
Mean Look. Of course Boss had a contingency. One he likely thought he wouldn't have to use.
"Disappointing." Boss took a step toward Mewtwo, flashing his trademark amused smirk. "No matter. It looks incapacitated enough. I'll simply deal with your... lapse in judgement back at the base," he continued, producing a fresh Master Ball from his pocket. Boss lobbed it toward Mew, who was too weakened to even see it coming.
It should have been a successful capture, but then a purple, checkered hole opened up in the ground and swallowed Mew up. Mewtwo was bewildered for a moment, and that proved enough to stop it from diving into the hole after Mew. It faceplanted in the ground, then the Master Ball struck its rump for added humiliation.
"Up." Boss snapped his fingers. Mewtwo pressed its hands to the grass and levitated up, then spun itself upright. It was sure what Boss's order would be. The lack of his usual smirk told Mewtwo as much.
"Track it. Now."
Mewtwo shut its eyes and concentrated. It didn't need to work that hard, however. Mew's weakened aura was relatively close by. On Cinnabar.
And with her... was the same psychic force that had been trying to break into its projections while it was tracking Mew. Eyes narrowing, it teleported to Boss's side, nodding to signal it knew where Mew was. He recalled Honchkrow, then Mewtwo grabbed his shoulder and they vanished once more.
This time they landed on ragged earth. Warm, rocky terrain. There was ash and smoke choking the skies far above them and their platform gave way to a steep drop several meters to their left.
"The volcano." If Boss was surprised, he didn't show it.
Glimmering gold light drew Mewtwo's attention behind them both. The platform gave way to a large cave bathed in bright light. But the light quickly dimmed, allowing Mewtwo to see Mew lying wrapped up in the arms of a boy wearing blue jeans, a red, sleeveless coat, and a red cap with a white brim. Her injuries were completely healed.
A pikachu on the boy's right shoulder locked eyes with Mewtwo. His cheeks crackled with electricity. Then a gold, crystal leg slid in front of the boy. Mewtwo looked up, past a crystal torso with three gold spikes and four wings, to a head that resembled an eight-pointed star.
"Mewtwo?" The dragon's beak was open in surprise. "I've been trying to reach you for months! What happened to—" He stopped himself. Red and orange pooled in his eye sockets. "What are you doing? Don't you know who that is? He's the one I was warning you about! Giovanni, the leader of Team Rocket!"
Mewtwo's tail twitched. There was something... naggingly familiar about this gold dragon. But whatever it was didn't matter. He was in the way of Mewtwo's target. Its mission.
"What are you doing?" Boss's tone was sharp. "That's an obstacle. You know what you have to do."
Mewtwo crouched down, then teleported right beside the dragon's torso.
"Wait, stop!" the dragon cried, but Mewtwo had a Shadow Ball at the ready. It thrust it into the dragon's crystal chassis. The dragon buckled left, mismatched rainbow eyes rippling. "Mewtwo, stop this! It's me, Bahamut! I'm your friend, remember?"
Friends? Laughable. Weapons didn't have friends. They had targets. And this "Bahamut" character just made himself one. Mewtwo charged another Shadow Ball, but was startled when a powerful psychic force sent it tumbling back, losing that lavender energy in the process.
Bahamut looked to the boy carrying Mew. He shook his head at the dragon. Mewtwo tried seizing on the opening, teleporting behind Bahamut and shooting another Shadow Ball right into the strange, eight-pointed star emblazoned on the back of his head.
But unlike Mewtwo's previous targets, Bahamut lashed backward with his golden tail. Suddenly, Mewtwo was forming a barrier to avoid getting hit by its own Shadow Ball.
Was he… taunting Mewtwo? Not even deigning to face it while fighting?
Utterly insulting! Mewtwo wouldn't let this stand. It saw Bahamut reaching a wing toward the boy. He, his pikachu, a charizard, and a venusaur were heading toward Boss who, in turn, summoned his persian, rhydon, and nidoking.
Mewtwo channeled electricity into its fist and teleported behind Bahamut's head. It punched, but to its shock, the back of Bahamut's head was not solid. Next thing it knew, one of Bahamut's glowing wings had clubbed it and knocked it into the cave wall.
"We're taking this outside," Bahamut growled. His rainbow eyes brimmed with shades of purple.
One moment, Mewtwo was pulling itself out of a Mewtwo-shaped hole in the cave wall. The next, it was falling toward the volcano's mouth, limbs flailing. Mewtwo quickly regained its composure, but when it turned around two sharp, purple blades slashed its chest.
This pain was different. Not like the blows Mewtwo had suffered before. It was a deep, lingering pain. Mewtwo put its right hand to its chest and pulled it back. The hand was red.
Blood. Its blood. Bahamut made it bleed.
Prey was supposed to bleed. Not Mewtwo. It was a predator. A weapon. The world's strongest pokémon.
Curling its lips into a snarl, Mewtwo flung one Shadow Ball, then another, and then a third. Bahamut clasped his wings together. Strange purple spheres intercepted the Shadow Balls, then purple blades identical to the ones that had slashed Mewtwo destroyed its attacks.
"I trusted you!" Bahamut snarled. Blue-purple dragon energy bristled in its beak. "I shared my secrets with you! My hopes! My fears!" He spat the Dragon Pulse forward. Mewtwo easily evaded it and had Shadow Balls ready to counter.
But the attack wasn't done. A portal opened up behind Mewtwo. Just like the one that had sucked in Mew.
It only had seconds to get out of the way of the blue bolt. The same one it had dodged before.
Bahamut was sending his own attacks through portals? Impossible! Mewtwo couldn't do that. But it was the strongest! It had to be! That was why it was created!
"We were friends!" Bahamut descended toward the mouth of the volcano. Mewtwo couldn't teleport fast enough to catch it. "Friends bonding over our shared origins! Or so I thought."
Hissing, Mewtwo fired two Shadow Balls, then started gathering an Ice Beam in its hands. Bahamut shredded both Shadow Balls, but was unprepared for the Ice Beam. Blue ice splattered across his crystal chest while he roared in anger.
Mewtwo smiled gleefully. This was where it turned the tide. Where it seized mom—
Was that lava heading directly for it?
"You were using me, weren't you?" Bahamut said. His body glowed pink as he steered a large glob of lava in Mewtwo's direction. It teleported several meters away. That wasn't good enough. The lava was still coming.
"I told you to run away, but you didn't!" Bahamut continued. "Those dreams you shared with me… were nothing but lies! They were all his orders, weren't they? Trying to get to me! To abuse me just like everyone else!"
With a loud grunt, Mewtwo wrestled psychic control of the lava from Bahamut. It flung it into the ocean, where it'd cool into… some stupid looking rock, probably. Maybe.
... It might've deep fried a few dozen fish in the process. Such was life.
Bahamut wasn't done, though. Now he was shooting glowing rocks through the air. Power Gem. This was getting frustrating.
Mewtwo weaved around the first two rocks, then blasted two more with a small Shadow Ball. It teleported behind Bahamut. Surely, it would be too slow to turn around and—
The dragon spat a blue bolt forward... into a portal. Another one opened in front of Mewtwo. It brought its arms together, deflecting the Dragon Pulse with a blue barrier. The moment the attack faded, Mewtwo teleported right behind Bahamut, and sprayed the dragon's golden back with an Ice Beam.
That got another furious roar. Bahamut lurched forward. His pained cries were oh so satisfying. Even with all his fancy tricks, Mewtwo could still get the upper hand. It just had to be ready for the counteratt—
Mewtwo teleported a few meters below Bahamut, watching his golden tail swipe at nothing but air. It fired a Shadow Ball right into the dragon's ethereal rump. Payback for Mewtwo's earlier humiliation on Birth Island.
"Stop it! Stop it!" Bahamut thrashed in midair. His pain turned to agony. Excellent. Mewtwo was going to complete its mission after all.
Two portals opened on either side of it. Mewtwo shot up before Bahamut's wings could squish in, then teleported forward while a Dragon Pulse sailed hopelessly behind it. The dragon was getting desperate. Mewtwo was getting to him. Perfect.
It shot a Shadow Ball toward Bahamut's crystal face, but that one was a feint. Bahamut snuffed it out with a burst of pink energy, leaving Mewtwo open to strike the back of Bahamut's head with an Ice Beam.
This time, it didn't let up. Curling back its lips, Mewtwo kept the ice going. Harder. Harder. More power.
Bahamut screamed. Ice and frost coated his head. Blue trickled across gold. His ethereal glow dimmed. Mewtwo had to keep going. It would freeze this dragon solid if it meant showing him that it was superior.
However, Mewtwo sensed a familiar aura. Two auras, actually. Boss and his honchkrow. Had he felled the child? He must have, because a Master Ball came flying in from below. It struck Bahamut's left foot... and plinked off harmlessly.
Mewtwo glanced at Boss. What about Mew? The child had her. Had Boss taken her?
It got its answer. Boss snapped his fingers. Teeth gritted, Mewtwo halted its Ice Beam. Its arms and hands burned from holding the attack that long.
Boss balanced carefully atop Honchkrow. "A respectable effort, but it ends here, you overgrown feral."
Bahamut managed to shake the ice away from his face, but a part of his crystal face sloughed off, landing on the volcano's rim. His head tendrils throbbed. A red tint took over his body. A sign of his rage? Mewtwo held its arms at the ready, just in case.
"Where is the child?!" Bahamut's telepathic voice boomed. Mewtwo imagined boss heard it, too.
"Tending to his injured pokémon." Boss smirked. "Whether he remains safe comes down to your cooperation." He lifted another Master Ball out of his pocket. "Oh, and I suppose her fate is in your nonexistent hands, as well."
He opened the ball. Red light spewed forward. Honchkrow snapped at it with his beak... and plucked a weakened Mew out of the light. He clamped his beak around Mew's neck. She squealed in pain.
Bahamut's eyes simmered like the lava bubbling beneath them. "No..."
Mewtwo quirked a brow. That wasn't telepathy. He spoke in human tongues?
"Tell me where your poké ball is... or my pet is going to enjoy a very rare snack." Boss stroked the side of Honchkrow's head.
"You wouldn't!" Bahamut lashed at the air with his tail.
Boss snapped his fingers. Honchkrow clamped down further. Mew's weak flailing stopped. Cyanosis crept across her paws and face.
"I only need a complete sample of her DNA. It matters not if she's dead or alive," Boss scoffed. "It's all up to you. Serve Team Rocket like the tool you are... or watch your friends' lives slip away."
Bahamut stared Boss down. His multicolored eyes were impossible to read, but Mewtwo's ESP told it the dragon's rage was building. Mewtwo clenched its fists, ready to strike in case Bahamut tried anything funny.
"... all the same..."
Amused, Boss tilted his head slightly. "Come again?"
"Every place. Every planet. All the same." Bahamut's entire body pulsated with light. "Not again. I won't..."
Mewtwo drew on its psionics. It sought to bind Bahamut in place in midair, even if it took all its strength.
"I won't let anyone hurt me again!"
A massive explosion of golden light slammed into Mewtwo, hammering it down into the volcano's rim. The impact sent the most intense pain it had ever felt coursing down its entire body. And then... it felt nothing below its neck.
Its vision was fuzzy, but it couldn't sense its arms or legs. Couldn't move them. Each breath was a struggle.
What had just happened? Mewtwo tried concentrating. It saw something small and black freefalling.
Boss. Mewtwo had to save him. But it couldn't move. Couldn't do anything but watch as its creator fell into the lava, leaving behind nothing but brief flames.
Bahamut wasn't done, however. His anguished roars split apart the air over the volcano. Now the dragon had the boy and Mew in his psychic grasp. He dropped them through a portal, before turning and locking eyes with Mewtwo.
It tried to do something. Move a limb. A muscle. Anything below its neck.
There was a brief flash, then pressure in Mewtwo's right shoulder. Now every breath was even more of a struggle.
Mewtwo gave a gasp, then a gurgle. Heavy fluid was pooling in its throat. Blood, probably. Mewtwo couldn't turn its head, but saw the culprit out of the corner of its eye.
The chunk of crystal its Ice Beam had dislodged from Bahamut's face sat firmly embedded in its shoulder. If it hadn't lost all feeling, Mewtwo imagined it would be in excruciating pain.
Bahamut continued grunting and snarling like an enraged feral. He clutched his head with his upper wings. "Scum. Vile scum." The dragon thrashed about in midair. "Aesir. This planet doesn't deserve it. These souls would taint it. They deserve... destruction, alongside Eternatus."
What was his blabbering about?
It didn't matter. Mewtwo had lost. It wasn't the strongest. It had become prey... and its hunter was about to strike the killing blow.
"Have to... draw it here..." Bahamut rose into the sky. "One strike. One Photon Geyser... to summon it!"
The last thing Mewtwo saw was a massive ball of golden light heading for the volcano. It didn't try to struggle in vain. It simply bowed its head and yielded to the inevitable.
May 29, 20XX
It's my fault. I'm sure of it.
Every station was talking about it. Cinnabar Island sunk into the ocean by a strike from a giant dragon of golden light. Fuchsia flooded by the resulting tsunami.
Who knows how many perished?
It matters not, because it proved to just be a preamble. As I sit here writing this, something truly monstrous has blotted out the sun itself. It's like the palm of a planet-sized hand, with one of its fingers lingering over Kanto.
People are pouring onto the streets. Some to stare in awe. Others to try and flee underground.
I do not think it will do them any good.
No doubt, I brought about this punishment. I tried to defy Mother Nature, and She took notice. Took notice and sent agents of unfathomable power to judge the entire planet for the actions of a select few.
All I wanted was to see my sweet Amber again. I never meant for things to spiral out of control like this. If I could, I'd go back and refuse his offer. Or sabotage the project so it could never have reached the point it did.
If, by some miracle, anyone finds this journal, then know this: we dreamed of creating the world's strongest pokémon... and we failed.
Mewtwo gasped. Its eyes snapped open, then immediately closed from the blinding white light. It hissed in annoyance.
"Dang it, Nova! I said red light. Red!" exclaimed an unfamiliar voice with a... digital tint to it. "Yes, that switch on the right." A mechanical sigh. "Good. Sorry about that, buddy. Place should be easier on the eyes."
Mewtwo was much slower to open its eyes this time. The room had a high, gray ceiling with red lights, but that was all Mewtwo could see. Any attempts to move met with failure. Even its head, which was the last thing it remembered being able to move.
"Sorry about the restraints, big fella." The voice chuckled nervously. "We needed them in place to pump all that seawater out of your lungs and stomach. And, uh, from the look of things, you'll have to put up with them until we can fix your spine up."
Water inside its hollow organs?
... Right. That infernal dragon had pinned it onto Cinnabar's volcano, then charged up some sort of massive attack. Mewtwo must've gone down with the island... and someone fished it up.
But if it had drowned... wouldn't it be dead?
"He's confused," a new voice exclaimed. Was that the "Nova" the first voice was addressing?
"I can see that, Nova. But no point overloading him with information right now."
No, Mewtwo was an it. A weapon.
... A failed weapon.
Failed weapons didn't deserve any acknowledgement. They deserved to be tossed away like the trash they were.
Finally, a gray, reptilian head poked into Mewtwo's view. But this reptile... was mechanical? A robot? Its yellow-blue eyes were screens, not eyeballs. Eyes that gave off purple and yellow sparks like they were stupidly long eyelashes.
"Good to see you're awake, pal." Lizard Bot bobbed his head, showing off his large, purple casque. "Unfortunately, I've got to put you back to sleep. We have a lot of work to do to fix you up."
Lizard Bot winked at Mewtwo. "Don't worry, though. Ol' Miraidon'll do his best to get you up on your feet again."
Up on its feet? What was the point. It was nothing but a failed weapon. Hardly worth this "Miraidon" person's time.
Mewtwo couldn't object, however. Because Miraidon brought some sort of plastic mask toward Mewtwo's face. Within a matter of seconds, it had drifted off back to sleep.
It had no idea how much time had passed. Mewtwo lost track of how many times Miraidon woke it from slumber and asked it to do mundane things like wiggling its toes or pointing at him with different fingers.
The right arm was still a problem, though. The shard from Bahamut's crystal face was still wedged in there.
Miraidon hovered at Mewtwo's right side. "I've gone through a lot of scenarios. Trying to figure out how we can get thing out of you." He pointed to the crystal with a metal claw. "But I can't see a path forward. It's pierced too many vital structures."
If it was a waste of time, then Miraidon should have simply left Mewtwo alone. Except Miraidon wasn't Boss. He didn't have that same absolute control Boss had. Which meant Mewtwo would need to make its wishes known. And that meant... speaking through the mind, right?
Except just trying to concentrate on its psychic power made it dizzy. The red lights overhead blurred together.
That wouldn't do. There had to be something it could try. After observing humans speaking for months, maybe it picked up on enough? It was intelligent. Or supposed to be.
Concentrate. Focus. Move the lips. Tighten the throat.
… There. Perfect.
Miraidon frowned. "Don't bother with what?"
"Helping… me." Mewtwo sucked in a sharp breath. "I'm—"
"Not worth it?"
That was Nova's voice. He was perturbed. "I warned you, Mira. You saw the scans. It's going to be an uphill battle."
Mewtwo tried to move, but it was exhausted despite just waking up.
"You are worth the time," Nova said. "Even if you don't think it."
Miraidon looked past Mewtwo. "I admire your enthusiasm, Nova. And I see where you're coming from." He gestured to the crystal in Mewtwo's right shoulder. "But how do you propose we handle this?"
"Imbue the crystal with Malice."
"Are you mad?" Miraidon's eyes flickered like dying lightbulbs. "We have no idea how he'd respond to something like that."
"He can't move his right arm and has other functional impairments," Nova countered. "If we gradually infuse Malice into the crystal, he can build up a tolerance to it."
Miraidon crossed his arms. "How gradual are you talking?"
Mewtwo didn't like this idea. The mere name "Malice" sounded like a terrifying prospect, but Mewtwo was completely at their mercy. It was their prey.
This pounding in its chest must have been what all its targets felt when it confronted them.
Something bubbled in its stomach. Guilt? Mewtwo wasn't entirely sure.
But maybe the Malice would have side effects. Maybe it would let Mewtwo forget its humiliating loss.
"Do it," Mewtwo rasped.
Miraidon's eyes displayed exclamation points. "Are you sure? You heard Nova, right? We might have to keep you asleep for a very long time."
Mewtwo narrowed its eyes at Miraidon. "Do it."
A mechanical sigh followed. "Very well. If you understand the risks, then we'll proceed." He looked past Mewtwo. "Nova, I expect you to be on top of this."
Mewtwo stood in front of a floor-to-ceiling mirror, glaring at its reflection. It ran its left hand across its darkened skin, then grabbed its tail to look at the yellow, ethereal glow it now had. The same glow as the crystal in Mewtwo's right shoulder. No longer an inert gem. It pulsated with power. Unfamiliar power.
Yet that power was what let Mewtwo move its right arm and breathe easier than it had before. And it somehow kept its body from atrophying, so it was clearly something special. Though Mewtwo had to sacrifice its teleportation abilities to regain the use of its right arm. It had no doubt that would prove a difficult adjustment.
"How are you feeling?"
Mewtwo's frown deepened. It was Nova. Mewtwo was sick of this "type: full" checking in on it. It was a powerful weapon, not some dainty fledgling taking its first steps from the nest.
Perhaps being blunt would shoo Nova off. "Bad," Mewtwo grunted. It turned to the type: full, casting a judgmental look at his black and white, zebstrika-like pelt, clumps of turquois scales, and gold, insectoid forelegs.
"Well, hey, at least it's not 'terrible' or 'miserable.'" Nova wagged his turquoise fish tail. An absolute eyesore. "That's progress."
Bluntness didn't work. Onto intimidation, then.
Mewtwo's tail lashed against the mirror. A high-pitched ding reverberated through the room. Nova's triangular ears folded slightly. Satisfaction pinched at Mewtwo's second neck.
"I think I get it." Sighing, Nova pivoted to his right. "You don't want me around. Probably got a lot on your mind." His blue eyes scanned the gray metal wall, even though Mewtwo was sure he knew it was empty. "It's a lot to take in."
Maybe it was, but Mewtwo was intelligent enough to understand what had happened. Earth was absorbed by a titan known as Eternatus. Now it, along with the entire planet, were inside the titan. In some sort of galactic purgatory. And the Malice that was used to fix Mewtwo was Eternatus' energy.
Energy it could produce from absolutely nothing, which was utterly illogical. Such a power violated the most basic laws of thermodynamics. Even a weapon like Mewtwo needed to get the power for its attacks from somewhere.
Mewtwo pinched its brow and shook its head. Why couldn't Nova get the message and leave? It wanted to be alone.
"You can talk to me," Nova said. The type: full lowered his head. His necklace ruffled his white fur. "Bottling things up will only make it easier for the Malice to overtake you."
Mewtwo growled its annoyance and clenched its fists. "I don't want to talk. Weapons don't talk."
Nova frowned. Mewtwo studied his face. That weird mix of white fur and a gold, robot beak. Was Nova... pitying it?
"You want to know what I'm thinking?" Mewtwo took a step toward Nova. Its right shoulder burned. The crystal glowed brighter. "I'm thinking... of the most efficient way to kill you. Do I crush your skull with Psychic? Pull apart your inner circuitry? Or simply grind you into dust with a relentless onslaught of Shadow Balls?"
Mewtwo firmed up its stance, practically daring Nova to call it out for such cruel remarks.
Instead, the type: full smirked. "Well, that's colorful." He tilted his head. "And, deep down, I'm wondering what would happen if I slashed open that second neck of yours. Would you go limp? Lose control of certain bodily functions?"
Nova crouched slightly. Playfully? What the hell was he doing?
"And your tail! It's fused with your abdomen. What would happen if I sliced it off?"
Mewtwo stepped back. It almost lost its footing. Was Nova messing with it? Such violent rhetoric mixed with such a cheerful tone. Jokes weren't things weapons needed to be concerned with, but Mewtwo was pretty sure this was not how one was meant to joke around.
Sighing, Nova stood up tall. "Dang, I thought you'd catch on quicker. Guess you're still pretty out of it."
Now, Mewtwo had to say something. "Are you mocking me?"
Nova shook his head. "You're intelligent. I figured you had already connected the dots."
Nova's expression sharpened. "That you're not the only living weapon birthed by science."
Mewtwo's gaze fell to its feet. It shifted about silently. In the back of its head, it had considered such a possibility. Between the "type: full" designation and Nova's odd, piecemeal design, there was nothing about him that screamed natural. But some illogical part of Mewtwo's mind steered it away from those thoughts.
Was it pride? It wasn't like being a creation was something to be proud of.
"So what?" Mewtwo muttered. "I don't want your pity. Pity is for the weak."
"And you're strong. You're a killer." Sighing, Nova shook his head. In a strange accent, he declared, "We're not so different, you and I."
Mewtwo glared at him. Nova chuckled. "Aww, c'mon. It's from a movie!"
Movies? The moving, talking pictures that humans liked? What purpose did watching movies serve?
"I don't care." Mewtwo stepped forward. "Stand aside." It stood tall, trying to make it clear it would shove Nova out of the way if necessary.
However, Nova stepped toward Mewtwo. "Matriarch built me and my siblings to carry out Her will," he said, expression stern. "For the longest time, I believed in everything She said. Completed every order without so much as flinching."
Mewtwo's yellow tail twitched. It recalled mention of Matriarch before. Some sort of... ruler of this realm?
"Even though I saw the anguish on other people's faces, Matriarch convinced me that they were wrong," Nova continued. The bird-like crest over his head drooped slightly. "That I was wrong to ask questions about them. She told me— no, all of us that only She knew what was right for us. What was good for us."
A shudder ran down to Nova's fish tail. It all sounded... vaguely familiar to Mewtwo. But it wasn't quite the same. "Why do you speak plurally?"
"Because I'm not the only type: full." Nova looked down. "I'm actually the prototype. Matriarch produced more. Ones that wouldn't think for themselves, so they wouldn't question Her orders."
Now that rang a bell. "Right." Mewtwo crossed its arms. "Weapons don't think. They act."
Nova bobbed his head. "But you're not just a weapon. You're a person. With thoughts, beliefs, hopes, and dreams. You deserve to live your own life." Nova looked down, curling his gold talons slightly. "It took me far too long to realize that... and now I'm trying to rectify that."
He offered Mewtwo a shaky smile. "And that starts with helping someone I can relate to."
Mewtwo looked at the type: full, brow furrowed. It crossed its arms and looked away. "Well, I don't need help. What I need... is to be stronger. Strong enough to defeat the dragon that humiliated me."
Nova's tail drooped. "Nothing wrong with that, I suppose. But it should be your desire. Not someone else's."
He turned away from Mewtwo. "Good talk, I guess? Mira says you can have a bit more time before we have to start your next treatment."
Talons scraped metal as Nova left the room. Mewtwo turned back to the mirror, tail lazily drifting back and forth.
"... my own desire," it whispered.
Mewtwo sat awkwardly on a metal stool, hunched over and staring across the bright white room... at Mew.
There were, apparently, plenty of mew in Eternatus. But Nova had somehow tracked down the one from Earth. The one it had hunted down and harmed. It was tough not to snarl at Mew. It wasn't her fault that damned dragon went berserk and... felled Mewtwo.
Still, Mewtwo thought this was stupid. Nova wanted it to apologize to Mew. For what? It was carrying out its orders. If anything, the dragon should apologize for messing up its mission.
A metal beak nudged Mewtwo's tail. It sighed. "Hello... Mew. I'm here to... say I'm sorry."
Mew tilted her head. Her eyes were so large. Brimming with curiosity.
... It was nauseating.
Nova nudged Mewtwo's tail again. It took a lot of restraint not to snap at the type: full. "I'm sorry... that you were my target. It was... wrong to hunt you down. Try to capture you... and stuff."
Silence hung in the air. Mewtwo could've dropped a pin and it would ring throughout the room.
Mew floated forward... and bonked Mewtwo's head.
Its blue eyes flickered red. "What was that for?"
"Mew mewmew mew!" she squeaked.
Mewtwo blinked incredulously. Eternatus' freaky insides were supposed to synchronize everyone to one language. Yet Mew spoke like a feral.
"I, uh—" Mewtwo was at a loss for words.
Mew bonked Mewtwo's head again, then blew a raspberry at it. She floated off, cheeks puffed out. Mewtwo turned to Nova, shoulders sagging.
"Well, that was—" Nova looked at the floor, squinting, "—something. How do you feel?"
"Like a loser," Mewtwo hissed.
Nova offered a shaky smile. "At least you're being honest. That's good, right?"
"Hardly." The crystal in Mewtwo's shoulder sparked. "This was a waste of time."
The type: full sat down. "My mistake. I think I... overestimated your situation."
Mewtwo narrowed its eyes. "Overestimated?"
"Your mental state," Nova continued. "You can certainly reason and think for yourself... but it looks like whoever controlled you neutered your emotional intelligence."
"Emotions are for the weak." Mewtwo snorted. Its tail flicked to its right. "They only get in the way."
"That's because you were forced to think that way," Nova countered. "You're not being controlled anymore, so there's no need to—"
"It's not about control!" Mewtwo snapped. Psychic energy brimmed in its hands as it stomped its right foot down. "It's about power! Being the strongest! I was supposed to be undefeatable... until one stupid dragon destroyed me with a single attack."
It turned away from Nova. "And now... I'm supposed to accept this ridiculous idea that I'm 'only kind of dead,' but trapped inside some giant creature full of unimaginable power?" Mewtwo clenched its fists. Its shoulder tingled from the Malice Crystal sparking with dark energy. "All while my long slumbers are plagued by constant repeats of the dragon humiliating me?"
Mewtwo couldn't hold it in anymore. It pivoted left... and threw a psychically-charged punch at its stool. The seat on top dented, but didn't break. Pain shot through Mewtwo's right hand. It pulled its throbbing hand back and stared at it, teeth gritted.
"... you don't get to stand there and tell me what I can think," it whispered. "I don't care if you're artificial. You don't know what I've been through."
Silence followed. Nova stepped back, crest drooping. "I didn't know you were having nightmares," he whispered. "You could've told one of us."
"Why, so you could try and 'fix' it?" Mewtwo growled. "I told you, I don't want your help. I... I just—"
The energy dissipated. Mewtwo hardly did anything, yet it was exhausted. It slumped down onto its rear, arms draped at its sides.
"What's the point of fixing me? I have nothing left," Mewtwo whispered. "Defeating enemies with overwhelming power was my purpose. What do I do without that purpose?"
If Boss were here, he would have undoubtedly called the gesture for what it was: pathetic.
But he wasn't. Nova was. And the type: full padded up to Mewtwo's side, and slid onto his belly beside it. "That's the beautiful part: you can decide that for yourself. It doesn't have to be today. Or tomorrow. Or even this year. But if you keep moving forward, you'll find that purpose."
Mewtwo didn't make eye contact. "How do you know?"
"Because when I abandoned Matriarch, I didn't know what to do with myself, either," Nova confessed. "I wandered from planet to planet for a while — stowing away in ships and transporters to avoid detection — until I met Mira. He took me to his moonbase... and I felt that spark helping him rehabilitate people while fighting against Matriarch's forces."
Tail sticking up, Mewtwo finally met Nova's soft gaze. "I beg your pardon?"
It took a second for Nova to realize what he said. When he did, the type: full's blue eyes lit up and he laughed. "Wow, I probably should've led with that earlier, huh?"
Mewtwo glowered at Nova. "Take this seriously."
"Okay, okay." Nova took a deep breath to dispel his last few chuckles. "Your purpose was to fight, right?"
"Fight to impose Team Rocket's vision upon the world," Mewtwo interjected.
"... charming." Nova grinned sheepishly when Mewtwo glared at him. "Anyway, what's stopping you from retooling that purpose under a different cause? Like, instead of fighting for organized crime, fight to help free Eternatus from Matriarch's control."
Mewtwo crossed its arms. It wasn't an idiot. It saw immediate flaws with that idea. "If it was really that simple, wouldn't you have taken Matriarch out on your own?"
Nova flinched. "Got me there." He brushed his gold forelegs against one another. "Truth is that, yeah, Mira and I have been trying to put together a team. To start a rebellion. But it's proving a lot more difficult than I expected."
"And you think a failed weapon will be the difference maker?" Mewtwo looked down at its dark gray hands. "You already mutated me with Eternatus' energy. That makes me a liability, not an ally."
"It's not like I'd be sending you out to fight the Paradigm right away." Nova sounded exasperated. "Yeah, it'll take a while. A long while. But time is a luxury we happen to have inside Eternatus."
He extended his right foreleg toward Mewtwo. "If you stick with me, I promise to make sure you're free of any possible Malice side effects. And I'll help you claim an identity of your own."
Mewtwo quirked a brow at Nova's foreleg. "What's in it for you?"
"Excu—" Saliva went down the wrong pipe and Mewtwo broke into a coughing fit. Nova... wanted to spend time with it? Despite all Mewtwo's attempts to push the type: full away?
The back of Mewtwo's head throbbed. It briefly saw a mental image of a gold silhouette in the middle of windswept plains.
"Sorry. I just thought... because we have things in common, we'd make good friends."
Mewtwo rubbed the back of its head.
It had said that once, hadn't it? When and where? Mewtwo had never seen that memory before.
... Or had it?
"You want... my company?" it whispered, staring again at Nova's foreleg.
"Everyone can do with a friend," Nova whispered back. "Even if they don't think it."
Mewtwo looked into Nova's eyes, then back at his foreleg, and then at his eyes again. It fidgeted with its hands and squirmed and place. Mewtwo didn't know the first thing about being a friend. Or, rather, the basic knowledge was there, but the tools needed to apply that knowledge practically were not.
But how could it say that without trying? That would be... like declaring an attack beyond its capabilities without training.
... Yes. Friendship wasn't beyond Mewtwo's abilities. It simply needed training, like with anything else.
"I... suppose so," Mewtwo muttered. It put its left hand on the floor. Its left thumb crossed one of Nova's talons.
Though brief, a chill ran down Mewtwo's neck tube. It was... strangely pleasant?
"Great!" The blue, scaly underside of Nova's tail scraped against the floor. Both of them flinched. "Whoops!" He looked back at his hindquarters. "Tails, am I right? Kinda jealous yours is prehensile. Wish they'd factored that into my designs."
Mewtwo scratched its head. "D... do people normally christen their friendships by talking about their backsides?"
"No. It was a joke." Nova stood up, chuckling. "If you want something to mark the occasion, how about a name?"
"I have a name. I am Mewtwo."
"No, that's your designation," Nova said. "Like how I'm a type: full."
"But I am the only Mewtwo."
Nova shrugged. "I still think you could use a proper name. Something to help you build your own sense of identity." He walked in front of Mewtwo and crouched down. "So, lemme ask ya. Do you see yourself as masculine? Feminine? Nonbinary?" Nova paused. "I can list others if those don't work."
"No, that's fine." Mewtwo got to its feet. "I suppose... I feel a certain tug with, erm, masculinity?" It rubbed the back of its head. This was beyond awkward.
Nova's eyes lit up. "Great! Then I've got the perfect name."
"And that is?"
"Gene. You're Mewtwo Gene!" Nova's tail wagged. "What do you think?"
After about a minute letting the name roll around in it— no, his head, Gene nodded slowly.
"... I can work with that."
Gene sprang back, but didn't put enough power into his legs. The blue, glowing blade grazed his belly. Gene tumbled through the air. He sensed someone coming up from behind. Fighting and steel energy. Zamazenta?
He thrusted both hands forward. Flames shot out, turning him into a large, fiery wheel. There was a startled yip. Gene sailed past Zamazenta, then steadied himself and dispelled the flames. Though the mewtwo wanted to attack him, Zacian was sailing through the air, blade at the ready.
"Nnngh." Gene raised his hands to try catching Zacian with his ESP. But Zamazenta's shield glowed a fiery crimson. He lunged for Gene, knocking the mewtwo back.
"All right, I think that's a good stopping point."
Nova trotted onto the tan arena, cheek bolts slowly turning in their sockets. "So, what do you think?" he looked at Gene. "These two are pretty great, right?"
Gene crossed his arms. "Real pokémon don't need weapons to fight." He cast a judgmental look at Zacian.
"My blade can cut through just about anything when I'm concentrating," she boasted. Her sword vanished in a stream of blue and gold light, taking her gold crown and wing-like armor plates with it. She shook herself out. "It sounds more like jealousy to me."
"Agreed," Zamazenta grunted. Like his older sister, the gold shield around his head vanished, letting him stretch his neck out. "You could criticize her, or you could try it for yourself."
Gene tilted his head. Try what for himself?
"I don't know, brother." Smirking, Zacian shook her head. "Gene does not strike me as the creative type. I bet he couldn't come up with a decent weapon no matter how much psychic power he has."
"Is that a challenge?" Gene cracked his knuckles, then tilted his neck from side to side until his spine popped. "I can come up with a psychic weapon. Check it."
Brow furrowed in concentration, Gene clapped his hands together. Pink energy brimmed in his hands. He focused on that energy. It was slippery, but the mewtwo could make it malleable. The first step was to solidify it, which happened when he held his hands together like a circular cup.
Good. Now, Gene needed to expand it; keep things solid while adding more psionic material to it. He envisioned a resistance band in his hands and slowly pulled. His arm muscles tensed. Gene exhaled slowly. The pink bubble elongated into a pink rectangular prism. Gene stretched it further, until it was practically his wingspan.
The last part was shaping it. The mewtwo's eyes glowed a deep blue. A blue circle traced itself along one end of the pink prism, then carved out a small circular basin.
Gene planted his weapon down like a staff. "Done!" He flashed a toothy grin at Nova.
"It's... a spoon?" Nova tilted his head. Zacian and Zamazenta exchanged amused looks.
"Ah, yes, truly terrifying." Zamazenta's words dripped with sarcasm. "I'm quaking in terror."
"Oi, don't knock the spoon." Gene slashed the air to his right, then whirled left and thrust the spoon. "Alakazam use small ones for their attacks. So, a big one should let me do even stronger strikes."
"Uh-huh." Zacian approached her brother's side. "I think we'd best leave him to Nova. Perhaps he's dehydrated or something?"
The two dogs headed for the double doors on the other side of the arena. Gene dispelled the spoon in a flurry of pink mist. "Cowards!" he called. "You're just afraid I'd spoon your butts into next week!"
Nova stumbled with a squawk. His blue eyes widened. "I, uh, think you might want to rephrase that one."
Gene stared blankly. "Why?"
"Err... never mind." Nova recomposed himself. "So, what did you think?"
"You're right. They're formidable," the mewtwo said. "I'm sure they'll prove valuable allies."
"And what about you?" Nova got closer, tilting his head. "You've been sparring a lot now. For what it's worth, I don't think you looked as... aggressive."
Gene frowned. "Yeah, but I was sloppy." His shoulders sagged. "I was trying to keep my... killer instincts in check. I'm not well-suited for that kind of multitasking."
"Or it takes a lot of getting used to," Nova said, winking. "Regardless, I'm proud of you. You've made a lot of progress."
The mewtwo's cheeks burned. "... tch. You're just saying that."
Nova nudged Gene's chin with his beak. Gene's tail scrunched up. "Nngh. Cut it out!"
"What did I tell you about the negative self-talk?" Nova asked, smirking.
Gene pouted. "That's it beneath me."
"I don't think I phrased it like that, but close enough." Nova chuckled. "You sure you're not picking up some humor from all the movies we're watching?"
"Please. Any pyukumuku with half a brain could do that." Gene rolled his eyes. "I'm a super-intelligent being. I could absorb details about those movies in my sleep."
Nova grinned. "Ah, some boasting!" He playfully nudged Gene's left shoulder. "Way better than self-deprecation."
Gene's cheeks burned again. The type: full always knew how to catch him off guard.
In the past, Gene wouldn't have stood for that. Now he found it... charming?
... Yeah. Charming enough to give the mewtwo goosebumps.
"If you're going to stare into space, you can at least tell me what you're thinking." Nova crossed his right foreleg over his left. His necklace brushed against his white fur.
"Thinking?" Mewtwo scratched his nose. "I was thinking... about how much longer you intend to keep this operation in the planning stages. You've got Miraidon and the dogs. And that stupid espeon who seems obsessed with you."
Nova winced. "Yeah, I'm doing my best to ignore Selene's... enthusiasm."
"I could wipe her memories for you," Gene offered, lifting his right hand.
"No. We need all the help we can get," Nova said. "Even hers."
Gene frowned. "Then you still don't think we're ready?"
"I'm not sure." Nova sat on his haunches. "I'm still making this up as we go."
"Yeah. And I recall saying improvisation is not my strong suit," Gene scoffed.
"Is that so?" Nova got up and approached Gene. He brushed his side against the mewtwo's. "Maybe we need to... make a few changes to your training regimen?"
If Gene's face wasn't red before, it certainly was now.
The stasis capsule was a gray, metal tube with dark, one-way glass. Gene stood in front of it with his right hand braced against the door. "I have to do this, don't I?"
"We both know it's the safest thing to do," Nova said. Gene didn't bother looking at him. How could he after that slip up? The last Paradigm daemon almost turned him against Zacian and Zamazenta. Those aggressive urges Gene had worked so hard to control tugged at the edges of his psyche. His mind was like a barricade and those urges were chipping away at it.
"I get it." Gene's shoulders sagged. "But that means... I can't help with the final assault, can I?"
Nova appeared on the mewtwo's left, shaking his head. "We've come too far."
Gene sucked in a heavy breath. The tip of his Malice Crystal glistened in the one-way glass. "I know. That doesn't make it sting any less."
Nova leaned his head on Gene's left shoulder. "I want you there. But I wouldn't know what to do with myself if Matriarch got control of you."
Gene tilted his head. Warmth flooded his face as his cheek brushed Nova's fur and metal cheek bolt. "I don't want to lose you," he whispered. A part of Gene was shocked he even managed to admit that out loud. How things change.
"I won't let that happen," Nova said. "We have a plan. Chiron knows her way around Valhalla. Even if there's resistance, we can take the most direct path to Eternatus' core."
The mewtwo still had a hard time believing the archbishop had defected to Nova's cause, but supposedly she had fled Eternatus and spent time living on the planet it had just been sealed inside.
"And you trust her?" Gene asked.
"What about her husband?" Gene hadn't met the guy. Only heard about some sentient black crystal that fought alongside Chiron.
"He's proven himself a capable fighter. And he's a total grouch, too." Nova playfully nibbled Gene's shoulder. "I think you two would hit it off."
Gene rolled his eyes. "Very funny."
"Look, the two had a kid together. That's gotta mean something, right?" Nova exclaimed, breaking off the embrace.
"I guess." Gene sighed and opened the tube's glass door. "Nothing left to do but hope it all works out, then."
Nova nudged the mewtwo's side. "Hey, look at that. Talking about your hopes." The type: full smiled. His fish tail wagged.
Gene blinked a few times until the realization sunk in. He blushed. "Y-Yes, well." Gene coughed into his left hand. "I guess I finally found my dream... like you told me to."
"Gonna share it?" Nova raised a brow.
The mewtwo shakily turned to Nova. "I want to be at your side... to greet the dawn of a new era in this alien realm."
Nova's tail wagged faster. "How poetic. Maybe some of those romance flicks rubbed off on you after all?" He winked, deepening Gene's blush.
"Don't ruin the moment," Gene growled. He took a few breaths to steady himself, then braced his left arm against the side of the stasis tube. "Stay safe out there."
"Good luck," Nova whispered.
"Same to you."
Gene climbed into the tube. He pulled the plastic mask over his face, then heard the hydraulic hisses of the closing door.
It wasn't long before he drifted to sleep.
When Gene woke up, the stasis tube door didn't open. There was no rush of cool air to great him. In fact, the mask on his face wasn't even producing any oxygen. Gene pulled it off. It detached from the top of the tube and struck his head.
Growling his frustrations, Gene blasted the mask and the door with a point blank Psybeam. The glass shattered and spilled out onto the floor.
Immediately, Gene went on alert. Instead of the lab's bright white lights, all he saw were some dull red glows in the corner. The facility's emergency lighting. Why was it active? Was there a power failure?
The mewtwo floated out of the broken tube to find the lab was but a shell of how he remembered it. Overturned tables, shattered monitors and glass beakers. And so, so much dust.
His heart rate quickened. The Malice Crystal burned in his shoulder.
How long had he been asleep? Where was Nova? Where was Nova?
Gene lunged for the door. It didn't slide open. The glass windows beside it were cracked. Claw marks ran across the walls.
The mewtwo fired one Shadow Ball, then another. The door flew off its hinges and hit the opposite wall with a clang. Gene found the hallway as dark as the lab. Only a smattering of emergency lights.
More claw marks lined the walls, practically alternating with patches of scorched metal and huge dents.
Someone had attacked this place. But who... and why?
Gene's yellow-tipped tail twitched. He sensed a powerful psychic aura not too far ahead. Resounding thumps echoed throughout the hallway. The mewtwo wasn't sure what to expect... until he finally laid eyes on a clump of black crystals repeatedly punching the wall.
And through those motions, Gene was able to glimpse an eight-pointed star on the back of what he assumed was the big crystal's head.
It all came rushing back to the surface. The golden dragon's roars of fury. His blindingly fast attacks. Gene getting impaled with part of the dragon's face before being left for dead.
Gene's Malice Crystal sparked. He let his Shadow Balls do the talking, hurling two of them right at the crystal, who didn't notice them until it was too late.
"Where are they, Bahamut?!" Gene snarled. The Malice Crystal was glowing and Gene felt its power coursing through him.
Bahamut slowly rose into the air. A dim rainbow prism sparked underneath all the black crystals. "You," he whispered. "So, you were the mutts' ally."
"Where's Nova?!" The mewtwo fired another Shadow Ball. Bahamut caught it in his psychic grip and smashed it against the wall to his right.
"Gone," Bahamut rasped. "They're all... gone. And it's... still here." He scraped his claws against the wall. "Never good enough. I need power. More power."
The rational part of Gene's mind might have said Bahamut's answer was too fragmented to make sense. However, Gene's emotions were fully in control.
Nova had told Gene he trusted Bahamut. And that trust was betrayed.
The type: full was gone. Gene's dream was dead. All because of Bahamut.
He had to pay. Gene had to avenge Nova.
Bahamut wasn't a golden dragon. Gene had the Malice Crystal.
With a feral screech, Gene shot a massive Shadow Ball at Bahamut. He tried teleporting past it, but Gene was ready. He formed his psychic spoon and slashed Bahamut. Over and over and over again. Bahamut tried to fight back, but the mewtwo parried every swipe of his big, crystal arms.
"Nova was a good person! He believed in me when I wouldn't!" Gene drove the spoon into Bahamut's rainbow prism. "He trusted you! I trusted you! This is all your fault!"
Gene cleaved Bahamut's crystal form in half and blasted both sides away. He hunched over, glaring with all the hatred he could muster. Rage he had spent all this time burying... thanks to Nova.
But it was over. He'd avenged Nova. He—
A purple aura surrounded Bahamut's halves. Dark bolts shot out from the top half and pulled the bottom half back. Bahamut's rainbow prism glowed once again, albeit weaker than before.
"I... will... get more power." Bahamut's arms trembled. "And I... will... finish... what I started."
Eyes wide, Gene summoned his spoon and lunged for Bahamut again. But the large crystal husk sank into a wormhole and the mewtwo sailed into empty air until he rolled to a stop on his hands and knees.
Gene looked down. He raised his right hand... and punched the floor underneath him.
Then, for the first time in his life, Gene shed tears.