PART ONE – Hybrid
Nothing made any sense.
There was no explanation for why Destiny had woken up in a huge, otherwise empty room with a bunch of other teenagers, all asleep or unconscious or something. Or why her arm stung and her head buzzed. What in the name of Arceus was going on? It was all completely beyond her.
Destiny drowsily sat up, trying to sort things out in her mind. The last thing she remembered was walking somewhere. She couldn’t put her finger on where, but she knew the sun had been going down, and that she had been by herself. But that didn’t explain how she had ended up here.
She studied her surroundings, still not fully awake. It was dead silent. The walls were plain white, and there were no windows. The room was lit by several large incandescent light bulbs on the ceiling. There was a sturdy steel door in one corner of the room, and to her surprise it was wide open. She swept her gaze across the rows of sleeping kids, who were all perfectly lined up as if they had purposely organized themselves that way. There had to be at least forty of them. It seemed apparent that Destiny was the only one awake.
As Destiny slowly began to process the information she was picking up, she grew more and more uncomfortable. Something inside of her was nagging her to leave the place at once, and she couldn’t help but agree with it. There was something unsettling, perhaps even disturbing about everything she had seen today.
She took a deep breath as she rose to her feet, feeling somewhat dizzy. She awkwardly stepped over the bodies of sleeping teenagers as she made her way to the door. Destiny cautiously poked her head through the doorway. A long, narrow hallway stretched out in both directions. The walls were dull tan, and the floor was made up of white and light blue tiles. More metal doors lined both walls, set about a yard apart from each other. It reminded Destiny of a hospital, which made her feel uneasy. Again, her instinct yelled at her to leave as quickly as possible, and she didn’t argue with it. Seeing that the coast was clear, she slid out of the room.
Which way should she go? She hesitantly decided to go left, silently praying that she had chosen the right direction. She scanned the walls as she walked, hoping to find a friendly sign with bold, red letters spelling out EXIT. Destiny trudged to the end of the hall, and to her despair was met with another long hallway of metal doors. Sighing, she turned the corner and resumed her hunt.
Her trip down the second hallway was fruitless, much like the first. However, this time she didn’t find herself in front of another hallway. I knew I should’ve gone right, she thought in frustration.
Destiny walked back the way she had come, and she soon arrived in front of the room she had found herself in earlier. She peered in and noticed that all of the kids were still knocked out. She also noticed that a number of spots in which she had previously seen people were now empty. Trying not to put too much thought into it, she headed down the hallway to the right.
Again, she turned a corner and found herself in front of another hallway. This one was different, though; Destiny could see a set of doors different from the rest at the far end. A smile flashed across her face; this was the most relieving thing she had seen all day. That has to be the way out! Feeling motivated, she quickened her pace and marched up to the doors. Grinning, she shoved them open and stepped into the daylight.
I don’t know how long I’ve been in there, but it sure feels nice to be outside again. The sky was bright cerulean and cloudless. A slight breeze swept Destiny’s hair into the air and sent ripples through the dark green grass. A forest wrapped around the building, the trees fresh with new leaves. It was a gorgeous spring day, but Destiny had too much to worry about to fully admire its beauty.
Destiny walked away from the building, still suspicious of it. Now that she had escaped, she figured her top priority would be finding out where she was. Her surroundings didn’t look familiar at all, but then again, Destiny wasn’t an avid traveler. She had only left her hometown of Mistralton City a few times in the fourteen years of her life.
She strolled into the forest, hoping that she might be able to find civilization on the other side. It was only then that she really began to take notice of how much her arm stung; when she was faced with the struggle of trying to find a way out of the building, she had pushed the pain to the back of her mind. Expecting the worst, she raised her arm and examined it.
A small square of bandage was plastered against the crook of her elbow. She curiously peeled it off, wincing as the adhesive tugged at her skin. She found a tiny puncture that must have come from a needle. The skin directly around the mark was tinted purple, as if it had been bruised. That’s a bit freaky, Destiny thought as she smoothed the bandage back over her wound, but nothing I’ve been through today has been normal. I still have no idea where I am, or what I was doing in that weird room with all those other kids.
Destiny pondered the questions that were unrelentingly floating around in her mind as she walked. Had she been kidnapped? Was she suffering from some kind of amnesia? I’m sure I’ll find out what happened eventually, and then everything will click. I just need to get out of this Arceus damned forest first.
She brushed aside haphazardly placed plants and she ventured deeper into the forest, clearing a path for herself. I hope none of these are poison ivy or anything nasty like that. Destiny knew absolutely nothing about plants. She was also very inexperienced when it came to Pokémon. Unlike most people her age, becoming a Pokémon trainer never appealed to her. Instead, she planned on pursuing an education. She wasn’t sure what she’d study, but she knew she’d find her niche eventually.
Minutes passed, and Destiny was still hopelessly wandering through the forest. It wouldn’t have surprised her if she was walking around in circles. Growing frustrated, she decided to take a break. She sat down in front of an oak tree and leaned back against its thick trunk. She let out a deep breath. Don’t panic, Destiny. You just need a little time to rest, and then you’ll find the way out. Her forced optimism didn’t do much to comfort her; it only made her more upset.
Trying to relax was futile. Anxiety, worry, desperation, and confusion swirled around in her head, making it impossible for Destiny to unwind and think clearly. She came to the conclusion that she’d need to find her way out of the forest before she could get any rest. Clenching her teeth, Destiny rose to her feet again. She cupped a hand over her eyes and surveyed her surroundings. Crossly, Destiny realized that she couldn’t even remember which way she had come from. With a sigh, she chose to walk in a random direction and hoped for the best.
After walking for a few yards, an odd feeling stirred in Destiny’s belly—it felt like something was tugging at her insides. Before she even had a chance to wonder what was happening, her legs collapsed beneath her and she squealed as she crashed to the ground. The sensation was spreading through her body at a rapid pace. What’s happening? Destiny cried mentally, digging her fingers into the earth as the feeling sharpened.
It was at that moment that Destiny made an alarming observation. Earlier, when she had removed the bandage from her arm, she noticed that a small patch of skin was tainted with purple. Now, her entire arm was the same color—but it wasn’t just tinted with purple. It was an unnatural, vibrant shade of violet. To Destiny’s horror, the vivid purple color was quickly dispersing throughout the rest of her body.
A vehement spasm wracked Destiny’s body. She wanted to scream, but her voice wouldn’t work. In fact, it seemed as if she had no control over her body. Absolutely powerless, Destiny could only anticipate the worst. Another fierce spasm rippled through her, and her figure jerked as if she had been electrocuted. By now, her entire body was the eye-popping violet color—a color seldom seen in the natural world, aside from in the petals of exotic wildflowers.
Destiny’s waist began to contract, and she could feel her innards slowly shifting downward. Her lower body, which was where her organs had gathered, was beginning to protrude and was suspiciously reminiscent of an insect’s abdomen. Her thighs shifted outward, sliding up and attaching themselves to the sides of her newly formed abdomen. They settled in a position slightly above where her hips had once been. At the same time, Destiny’s insides tingled as if her entire internal composition was changing.
Unable to do anything to protest the grotesque transmogrification her body was being forced through, Destiny was clueless as to what was happening to her—and that made her even more terrified. She was incapable of turning her head around to watch as she morphed; the only thing she could see was the earth her face was pressed up against. The experience didn’t hurt at all, but it felt extremely unnatural—it was as if she was made out of modeling clay, and someone was shaping her into something strange.
Destiny’s skin turned stiff and solidified into what appeared to be a metallic substance. An odd feeling struck her, as if her bones were being dissolved. Destiny feared that her body would collapse in on itself, but her new exoskeleton of sorts held everything in place.
Her thighs became triangular in shape and thinned out until they were little more than metal plates connecting her legs to her body, and her shins took on the same shape. Her toes squeezed together into a point, and the substance that covered her feet faded into a light lavender color.
Destiny’s shoulders turned circular and disk-like. Her elbows extended past where they attached to her upper arms and tapered into sharp points, and her forearms grew longer as well. Destiny’s metal fingers pulled together like magnets, and a splash of lavender swamped over them. They tangled together and spiraled into a single vicious claw.
Her face stretched out horizontally, and her nose shriveled and melted into her face. Her lips curled back and disappeared, revealing a perpetually wide grin which stretched across her face. Her eyes, which had enlarged and turned a radiant shade of scarlet, sank until they rested on top of it. Destiny’s blond hair vanished into her skull. Her ears disappeared into the sides of her face and were replaced by a pair of black pits above her eyes.
An odd growth erupted from her back, which extended outward until it came to rest over her head. It had a thin, curved base with two downward-facing folds, and was topped with a protrusion that bore a striking resemblance to a cannon. A yellow, rectangular object poked out of a slot in the base.
Although it had probably taken a total of two minutes for Destiny to complete her transformation, to her it felt like an eternity. Her body lay perfectly still aside from the stressed rise and fall of her chest. Another spasm jolted her body, and her voice rang out in a scream.
But the voice wasn’t hers.
It came out as a garbled noise that would best be described as a mix of the buzz of an insect’s wings, a dying engine, a power drill, and a high pitched shriek. Destiny cut off her scream out of surprise. Shaking, she tried to utter the word hello.
“Wrrrllgghooo,” she croaked. Horror pulsed through her body, stemming from both the transmogrification she had just experienced and the fact that she couldn’t speak. Realizing that she had regained control of her body, she lifted her head from the ground and began to pull herself up. She couldn’t help but notice the new shape and color of her arms.
She sucked in rapid breaths of air, nearly hyperventilating. Destiny was obviously aware that her body had gone through some kind of dramatic change, but it hadn’t felt believable until she was able to witness its toll. Her forearms were a glossy purple and were shaped like long, skinny teardrops. Cone-shaped claws took the place of her hands.
Destiny desperately wanted to deny the terrible images her eyes were showing her. Everything that had happened today could easily pass for a freakish nightmare, but she knew everything she was seeing was perfectly true.
Destiny wouldn’t have been surprised if she broke down into insanity. How did this happen? Where was she? What was she? Who was she? Was she even Destiny anymore? Her head ached unbearably, and she would’ve loved to smash it open if only to end this maddening confusion.
She began to hear what sounded like something being dragged through the undergrowth. She didn’t care. She didn’t want to fathom what would happen if someone, or something, found her like this, though she was certain that whatever would happen couldn’t be worse that what she had just gone through.
“Arceus,” a hushed voice gasped, barely able to contain its excitement. Destiny shuddered, not even bothering to turn around and look at who it belonged to. “I’ve never seen a Pokémon like this before!”
Drake (or Dragon, as he liked to be called) stood amidst a crowd containing more than a hundred people. They were all dressed in identical uniforms; Dragon couldn’t help but think they looked ridiculous, even though he didn’t normally care about that kind of thing. The uniforms sort of looked like something a knight from medieval times would wear. A knight with no sense of fashion, that is. But still, Dragon wore his uniform with pride, for it stood as proof of his undying allegiance to Team Plasma.
Team Plasma was an organization set on freeing Pokémon from the laborious duties forced upon them by humans, or at least that was what Dragon had been told. They strove to completely separate Pokémon and humans so Pokémon would no longer have to get injured in grueling battles for the sheer purpose of their trainer’s entertainment. Dragon thought Team Plasma’s purpose was reasonable, albeit very ambitious. He wasn’t quite sure how they intended to reshape a region whose economy solely centered around Pokémon, but he figured he’d stick around to see how things played out. Dragon, like so many other Team Plasma grunts, simply joined the organization because he wanted to make a difference in the lives of people and Pokémon.
The grunts were assembled in a large gathering hall within the Team Plasma headquarters. An important informational meeting was about to begin—Dragon hoped it would involve good news for Team Plasma, but that wasn’t quite how it turned out.
A man in oddly colored robes stepped up to a podium in the front of the hall. Dragon recognized him as Ghetsis, one of the highest ranking officials in Team Plasma. He often spoke for the leader when he wasn’t present, which appeared to be the case now. If this meeting is as important as everyone makes it seem, I wonder why he’s not here, Dragon thought. I guess I shouldn’t put too much thought into it. He probably has a lot of other business to tend to.
Ghetsis had a slightly distressed look on his face, which worried Dragon. He cleared his throat and gripped a microphone, and then proceeded to speak. “Thank you for attending this meeting. It is gravely important.” Ghetsis’s voice had a shaky, apprehensive sound to it. “I am here to announce that we are temporarily calling off our current goals and projects.”
An outraged uproar rose among the crowd. “What is this nonsense?” someone cried. “Where’s Lord N? He would never approve of anything like this!” Dragon couldn’t help but feel shocked himself. He knew Ghetsis wasn’t done speaking, but this decision seemed very uncharacteristic of Team Plasma. Dragon kept silent despite the rest of the crowd’s tumult, eager to hear what Ghetsis had to say next.
Ghetsis raised his hand in an attempt to quiet the crowd, but frenetic conversations still rang through the hall. “Excuse me,” he growled in annoyance, “do you want to hear the rest of the story or not?” The room eventually became silent again, aside from the occasional hushed comment. Satisfied, the official resumed speaking. “Lord N couldn’t make it today; he’s off on a research trip. I can assure you that he fully supports this decision, however.
“Anyway, the whole reason behind this is that we suddenly have a much more important concern in our hands. We recently discovered that we had a traitor hidden among our ranks. Now, this traitor wasn’t a lowly grunt or anything of the sort; he was a highly skilled researcher. He was a genius, you could say, and he was particularly gifted in the field of biological engineering. He created some kind of crazy formula behind our backs… he intended to fell our organization with that formula!” Ghetsis paused as if he expected more uproar to commence, but the hall remained quiet.
What does he mean by a formula? Dragon wondered. The first thing that comes to mind is a method for solving some kind of equation… but that doesn’t really make sense in context. Is he talking about something along the lines of a potion? That’s crazy… that can’t be the answer! Dragon’s mind drifted off into ridiculous speculation as he waited for Ghetsis to continue speaking.
“Don’t ask me about the science behind it, because I know nothing of the subject. But this formula was created to somehow alter the DNA of humans. People injected with this formula are capable of fully transforming into Pokémon… and not just any Pokémon, either. I don’t know how he managed it, but he combined his victims with Legendary Pokémon. That’s right—I’m talking about the mythical Rayquaza and the elusive Suicune. He literally kidnapped nearly fifty teenagers off the streets and fused each of them with a different Legendary Pokémon. These people possess the powers and strength of the Pokémon they’re fused with, so this is nothing to sneeze at. I know, it sounds like something from a bad science fiction movie. But it’s completely true, even if it defies common logic. I don’t know how this man managed to pull it off, and for the sole purpose of taking down our organization, moreover! I’m not even sure what he intended to do with his victims, which we’ll refer to as “hybrids” for the sake of simplicity. Fortunately, we apprehended the crook and dealt with him before we had the chance to find out.
“But our problems don’t end there. These hybrids are still on the loose. As I said earlier, the man informed us that he created around fifty hybrid creatures. He said that none of them are aware of what he wanted them to do. We couldn’t get him to spit out where he was keeping them, though. Therefore, it is in our best interest that we locate these hybrids. I am tasking all of you with the duty of hunting down these creatures and capturing them. They are a threat to humanity and Pokémon, and we can’t afford to have them wandering around the Unova region. They could be absolutely anywhere, and there’s no guarantee that they’re all together in one place. I’d prefer if they were brought back alive, but if all else fails you have permission to kill them.”
As soon as Ghetsis finished speaking, the crowd burst into another frenzied uproar. Dragon couldn’t believe his ears. What the heck is this? This has to be a joke! He knew Ghetsis wasn’t one to fool around—he had to be telling the truth. It still wasn’t easy for him to believe the official’s farfetched tale, though.
Ghetsis raised his hand again, and the noise gradually died away. “As we all know, the goal of Team Plasma is to attain the complete separation of humans and Pokémon. I guess this man decided to be wise with us by doing the opposite—literally combining Pokémon and humans.” He spoke as if he meant to add light to the situation, but it didn’t catch on among the grunts. Unconcerned, Ghetsis continued. “Before I dismiss you, there’s one more thing you should be aware of. I’ve received word that these hybrids are unstable. They change shape against their will. And what makes them even more dangerous is that the mind of the Pokémon they’re fused with can randomly take over at times. They’re highly unpredictable, so play it smart and don’t make any rash decisions when facing them. You must also notice that these hybrids can still assume their human shapes, so pretty much any kid out there could be one of these creatures. If you see anything suspicious, please report it to me or one of the other Plasma officials as quickly as possible.”
Ghetsis stepped back before saying, “Good luck, and happy hunting.” He exited the hall through a door near the podium, signifying that the meeting was over. As soon as he was gone, the grunts rose and began heading their separate ways.
Dragon was overwhelmed by all this crazy information. Starting today, his main objective was no longer trying to make peace among people and Pokémon. He was now a ruthless hunter whose goal was to capture these strange hybrid creatures, or even kill them if they didn’t obey. He felt he wasn’t ready for this sudden change in pace, but he would follow his orders without hesitation. Yet at the same time, it still seemed odd that Lord N hadn’t been present at this crucial meeting.
Every child in the Unova region anticipates the day they turn ten, for with this age comes a new responsibility. Once a child turns ten years of age, they may become a Pokémon trainer and partake in the Official Gym Challenge. If they successfully defeat all eight Gym Leaders in battle, they may go on to fight the Elite Four in the Pokémon League. If the trainer prevails in beating them, they can battle the Champion of the Unova region. And once the Champion is defeated, they too gain the rank of a Champion, and are entered in the Hall of Fame.
Becoming a successful Pokémon trainer is not an easy task, however. Being a trainer is more than simply ordering your Pokémon around and expecting them to do your bidding. A bond must be established between trainer and Pokémon. Trainers must look at their Pokémon as friends, not slaves or tools. Friendship, teamwork, trust, loyalty; these were what being a trainer was about. Unfortunately, these concepts were not understood by everyone.
Today was the start of yet another young trainer’s journey. The previous night, Colby had barely been able to sleep. Like so many other children, he craved the freedom that came along with being a Pokémon trainer. And above all else, he looked forward to participating in some intense battles. He could already imagine himself commanding his team and having them annihilate his foe’s Pokémon. He couldn’t wait!
At the strike of dawn, Colby was already up on his feet. Apparently his parents had expected this, because they were awake as well. “Happy birthday, Colby!” they shouted in unison, their voices stretched in exaggerated cheer.
“Our little man’s growing up so fast,” his mother sighed dolefully to her husband. “Once he sets out on his journey, we won’t see him nearly as much anymore. It seems like just yesterday he was a baby… same with Brian.”
“I’m sure he’ll visit every once in a while, just like Brian. Isn’t that right? You’ll also be sure to write to us frequently, okay?” Colby’s father was doing his best to reassure himself and his wife.
“Yeah, sure,” Colby replied, itching to receive his Pokémon and start his journey. His parents were acting just like parents always do in books and movies when their children leave. Were all parents like that? Colby loved his parents; after all, if it weren’t for them, he wouldn’t have been born. But would he have time to pay them visits or write letters to them? Being a Pokémon trainer was going to be a busy life from how he saw it!
“So, when am I going to get my Pokémon?” Colby asked anxiously. He impatiently bounced up and down on the balls of his feet.
“I think now is a nice time,” his mother responded, flashing a smile. She turned around and disappeared into the kitchen.
“Dad, am I going to get my starter Pokémon from Professor Juniper? What’s going on?” Colby was confused. He had always read about new trainers receiving their first Pokémon from a famous professor who lived all the way in Nuvema Town.
“Nope,” his father answered, “instead, your brother bred this Pokémon just for you.”
Colby’s older brother Brian had become a Pokémon trainer five years ago. However, rather that specializing in battling, Brian had taken the path of a breeder. He caught and cared for numerous Pokémon, and then bred them in attempt to obtain flawless offspring. Unlike most trainers, Brian didn’t travel around very often as a breeder. Of course, he did go on expeditions every now and again to capture various Pokémon in different environments, but a permanent settlement would be required to raise young Pokémon. Much to his parents’ dismay, Brian chose to live in a small city called Striaton quite a while away from their Mistralton residence.
“Oh, that’s cool.” Colby couldn’t help but feel disappointed. The prospect of a perfect Pokémon was nice and all, but he secretly wished that he could’ve gotten his Pokémon from the professor. If she was as talented as she’s made out to be, her Pokémon must be even better than Brian’s!
Colby’s mother returned with a small box in her arms. It was wrapped with flashy green and blue paper and topped with a big yellow ribbon. A card in a lime colored envelope was taped to one side. Colby sprinted up to his mother and giddily took it from her. He zealously ripped off the wrapping paper, flinging strips of it all over the floor. Underneath was a cardboard box which he tore up in seconds. Sitting upon a bed of sky blue tissue paper was a shiny, round, red and white object that anyone could recognize right away; a Poké Ball.
With a huge grin on his face, Colby grabbed the Poké Ball and rolled it around in his hands. This Poké Ball belonged to him! He couldn’t believe this day had finally come. Now he wanted nothing more than to send out his new Pokémon and find out what it was. Would his parents let him send it out in the house? He didn’t care. He couldn’t wait any longer!
Colby held out his arm in front of him, the Poké Ball firmly gripped in his hand. He jabbed the white button in its center, and a ray of white light shot from it. It materialized into a small shape by Colby’s feet.
The creature was a quadruped with a stubby tail and legs. It was sandy tan with three thick black stripes that wrapped around its body, and a fourth one on its snout. Its belly, which was low to the ground, was salmon pink. Around its eyes was a black marking that resembled sunglasses, or perhaps a bandit’s mask. Its snout was long, and it yawned, revealing tiny but pointy fangs.
“Whoa,” Colby gasped, dropping onto his knees to get a better look at the little Pokémon, “it’s a Sandile! That’s awesome!” He began to reach for the Sandile, but it growled meekly and backed away defensively.
Colby’s mother giggled. “That’s a cute little Pokémon your brother picked out for you. And it looks like it could evolve into something powerful, too.”
His father handed him the lime green envelope. “You almost forgot about this.”
Colby sighed and ripped the envelope open. He didn’t have time for this! Now that he had his Pokémon, he was ready to start his journey. He pulled out a slip of lined paper that had been folded neatly in half. Unfolding it, he quickly skimmed through the words.
Hey Colby, what’s up? I’m so sorry I couldn’t make it for your birthday! I’ve just been so busy… Anyway, I hope you like the Sandile I bred for you. In case you wanted to know, she’s a female. She knows a few egg moves as well. In other words, I bred her to have special attacks Sandile normally can’t learn. Along with her standard Rage and Leer attacks, she also knows Fire Fang and Thunder Fang. I’m sure you’ll make good use of them! Oh, and best of luck to you! I know you’ll be a great trainer! I can already easily see you becoming a Champion!
Judging by the hasty scrawl it was written in, it couldn’t have taken Brian more than five minutes to write the letter. But it didn’t matter, because Colby had barely spent any time reading it. He set the paper on the coffee table, and pulled out Sandile’s Poké Ball.
The crocodilian Pokémon was standing perfectly still, watching her new trainer with inquisitive eyes. She continued to back away when she saw Colby withdraw her Ball.
“It’s time to return!” Colby exclaimed, putting heavy emphasis on his last word. Pressing the white button in the center of the Poké Ball again, another beam of light shot from it and enveloped Sandile. The creature was instantly dragged into the Ball.
“So, can I go now?” Colby questioned his parents, tossing the Poké Ball up and down.
“I suppose,” his mother replied, her voice tinged with sadness. Colby nodded and headed for the door. He grabbed his dark red bag, which was sitting to the left of the door. Last night, he had stocked it with anything he thought would be necessary for his journey. Slinging the bag over his shoulder, he grabbed hold of the doorknob and twisted it, causing the door to open with a creak.
“Bye, honey,” said his mother, waving daintily, “we love you, and don’t you ever forget that.”
“Love you too,” Colby called, stepping outside, “seeya.”
Colby was finally on his own! He strode down the driveway confidently, Sandile’s Poké Ball still tightly clutched in his hand. What should he do now? The first and easiest Pokémon Gym was located all the way in Striaton City, which was where his brother currently resided. It would be a long trip from Mistralton to there, but he would willingly take it. He’d surely gain tons of experience along the way.
Before he even thought about challenging a Gym Leader, he’d need to catch some more Pokémon and compile them into a versatile and balanced team. But he wouldn’t be able to capture any Pokémon if he didn’t have any Poké Balls, so he’d need to stop by the local Poké Mart and purchase some. It’d also be important to pick up some Potions and Antidotes and other medicines in case any of his Pokémon got injured in battle. Oh, heck! All of that could wait. Colby had a Pokémon now. He wanted nothing more than to taste the thrill of his first Pokémon battle.
He headed north of Mistralton, set on hunting for wild Pokémon to battle in the outskirts of the town. From what he had read, wild Pokémon were most commonly found hiding in tall grass. So of course, Colby decided that would be the ideal place to search.
He trudged into a large patch of overgrown weeds, looking left and right. Colby shuffled through it noisily, not stopping to consider that he was probably scaring off any Pokémon he hoped to encounter. “Man, how come I’m not finding anything?” he muttered to himself obliviously. He suddenly turned his attention to the wide forest that bordered the tall grass. Perhaps he would have more luck if he ventured into it? He figured that the forest would make a great habitat for all sorts of Pokémon.
Colby could hear the purring calls of Pidove off in the distance, taunting him and his futile hunt. Other than that, there were no signs of any Pokémon. Even if he did find one of those Pidove, they’d probably fly off before he had the chance to initiate a battle. Colby shook his head hopelessly. For a moment, he almost considered giving up.
That was when he heard the noise.
It sounded almost robotic, like nothing Colby had ever heard before. But he could tell that it was made by a Pokémon. What kind of Pokémon could possibly produce that sound? Maybe it was something really rare! Excited and curious, he hurriedly jogged in the direction of the noise. He couldn’t let whatever had made it escape.
The sound rang out again, this time louder. He was getting close! He picked up his pace even more, nearly tripping over thick tree roots and bushy shrubs several times in the process. Colby could faintly make out an unmoving purple lump in the distance; from where he was, it was hard to tell if it was a pile of rubbish or a creature. But as he got closer, the details emerged.
It had a humanoid shape, and it was kneeling with its hands pressed against the ground. It had a wide, flat head with a pair of bulbous red eyes. Peculiarly, the creature’s mouth was stretched in a grin, even though it seemed to be in distress. The strange Pokémon’s most distinctive feature, however, was a huge, bulky cannon on its back located right below its shoulders.
Colby knew an awful lot about Pokémon that lived in the Unova region, especially the ones that resided around Mistralton. But this creature didn’t resemble anything at all. Perhaps it was a Pokémon native to a far off region that someone had callously released into the wild.
Or perhaps, Colby thought, it was a Pokémon that no one had ever seen before.
All he knew was that if he caught it, he’d certainly turn a lot of heads. And Colby loved that kind of attention.
To Aurelia, it was just any other day.
It all started when her father left when she was six. After that fateful day, she never saw him again. Aurelia was too young to understand why and what had happened, and she still didn’t know the exact reason today. Her mother made it a point to emphasize that she was glad she “didn’t have to look at that bastard’s filthy face” anymore, though.
With no one else to turn to, it was completely her mother’s responsibility to raise Aurelia and her younger brother, as well as tend to a job so she could support them. It wasn’t an easy thing to do, and Aurelia was impressed that she cared that much about them. Surely her mother would have an easier life if she just abandoned her children like her ex-husband did, right?
Things only got worse from there. Three years later, Aurelia’s little brother contracted a deadly disease. Despite all efforts to cure him, he couldn’t be saved and passed away. It was only then that Aurelia realized just how special he was to her. The two of them constantly fought and butted heads, but in the end they were still family.
Then again, the word family had little significance in Aurelia’s life. Her father had been family, too. She always heard people say that families were supposed to be there for each other. What lies! Where had her father been?
The following year was the year Aurelia started her Pokémon journey. She wanted to think of it as an opportunity to start a new life. She’d throw everything in the past behind her and move on. By the time she was thirteen, she had defeated seven of the eight Gym Leaders. The final Gym was located in Opelucid City, which was where she had lived. Before she went on to defeat the Gym Leader, she decided to pay her mother a visit.
“Mom, I’m home…” she called, opening the door. There was no response. Maybe her mother was out shopping? Aurelia hesitantly walked in. Even if she wasn’t there, it was still nice to be back at home. Memories of her father leaving and her brother dying lingered in the house, but she didn’t let herself be bothered by them. She had convinced herself to focus on the future rather than wallowing in the past.
Almost immediately, she was met with a putrid odor that seemed to be coming from the kitchen. Aurelia was almost scared to find out its source, but she couldn’t resist her curiosity and concern. Pinching her nose, she crept into the kitchen.
A wooden bowl was sitting atop the counter, its contents nothing more than undistinguishable brown lumps. Aurelia presumed it had once been fruit. But why would her mother leave a bowl of decayed fruit on the counter? Something wasn’t right.
Dishes were stacked up in the sink, all of them dirty and covered with mold. The refrigerator was full of food that had expired a while ago. The calendar hadn’t been flipped in months. Aurelia grew more and more worried by the second.
“Mom?” she cried, her heart pounding, “Mom!” She flew down the hallway, throwing open doors and frantically scanning the rooms. There were no signs of her mother anywhere. It was as if she had vanished off the face of the planet.
Feeling sick, she collapsed against a wall. Her mother was the last family member she had left, and now she was gone as well. Aurelia didn’t even want to think about her fate. Just what had Aurelia done to deserve all of this? If there was some kind of greater power controlling fate, which she was now sure there wasn’t, it was a very cruel and twisted one. If Aurelia was a god, she wouldn’t let this kind of thing happen to anyone.
Aurelia had stopped ruminating about the past, but this was happening now. Besides, was there even anything to live for anymore? As time progressed, things continually got worse to the point where it had become somewhat of a pattern. Why should she expect things to get better?
And they didn’t. This morning, Aurelia found herself in a huge room with a bunch of unconscious kids. There wasn’t a single memory in her head of why she would be there, but she had grown to expect crappy things like this to happen. Undaunted, she simply slipped out of the building and strolled into the forest that surrounded it. She had no idea where she was, but why did it matter? She’d find out eventually, and then she’d be met with an even crappier situation.
“Go, Sandile!” Aurelia had been trying her best to ignore the voices and sounds that grew increasingly louder as she walked. It sounded like someone was commencing a battle with a wild Pokémon, and she didn’t want to get in the way. Then again, the trainer probably had at least a general idea of where this forest was located. Surely he could spare a minute or two to explain to Aurelia where exactly she was? She decided to give it a shot.
It didn’t take her very long to find the trainer and the strange Pokémon he was trying to battle. The trainer looked to be about ten, and she figured he couldn’t have been one for long. The Pokémon, which she never recalled seeing before, seemed to be scared witless. It was rather amusing to see, as the Pokémon had a formidable appearance which included a giant cannon on its back and metal armor. Aurelia wouldn’t have thought that the Pokémon would be a good choice for a little ten year old to fight, but the creature’s temperament said otherwise.
Aurelia nonchalantly strolled up behind the trainer and called, “Hey.”
The trainer flinched and whipped around. “Whoa! Who are you?” He looked at the Pokémon he was attempting to battle, and then back at her. “Is this Pokémon yours? I’m so sorry!”
Aurelia wrinkled her nose. “No, it’s not. I just wanted to ask you—“
“What a relief! I really want to catch it. But why isn’t it trying to fight? Is it afraid of me?” The trainer paused. “Hey, do you know what kind of Pokémon this is, by any chance? ‘Cause I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
“No, I don’t. Now can I please just—“
“Awesome! I bet it’s a Pokémon no one’s ever documented. I’d be the first person to train one in the whole world!”
Aurelia was starting to get annoyed. Why wouldn’t this little freak let her finish a sentence? “All right, dude, I’m happy for you. I’ll leave you to catch it, or do whatever the heck you want with it, if you’d just help me out here. Can you please tell me where I am?”
“Oh, oh, sorry!” the trainer exclaimed. “We’re in a forest north of Mistralton.”
“Okay, thank you. Seeya.” Aurelia stalked off, mulling over the boy’s response. Mistralton City, huh? That was pretty far away from Opelucid. How in the world did she end up here? If she ever wanted to get back, she’d have to traverse through the dreadful Mistralton Cave again, and pass through the swampy wetlands that bordered the city of Icirrus. She hadn’t particularly enjoyed those parts of her journey.
“Hey, lady! Wait up!”
Aurelia slowly turned around, rolling her eyes. It was that annoying little kid again. “What now?” she growled irritably.
“Uh…” the young trainer looked down at the ground, “… do you, by any chance, have some Poké Balls you could spare? I forgot to buy some before coming out here, and I’m scared that if I go back to the Poké Mart, the Pokémon will run away.”
“If it makes you leave me alone, then sure.” Aurelia reached for her bag, only to find that it wasn’t there. “What the hell…” she muttered under her breath. She had grown so used to having that bag on her shoulder, she didn’t even realize it was missing. In her bag were her Pokémon as well as a bunch of supplies, including her Poké Balls. It held her Gym Badges, her Trainer ID… without her bag, she was worthless as a trainer. Of course, something else just has to go wrong, Aurelia thought bitterly, now I can’t even be a trainer. What am I supposed to do now? Die? That’s just great.
“Huh, what’s wrong?” The trainer tipped his head to the side, unsure of what was going on.
“What’s wrong?” Aurelia mimicked, stifling a laugh. “Where should I begin…?”
The boy blinked absently. “Uh… does this mean you don’t have any Poké Balls?”
“You know what, kid? Why don’t you piss off and go get your own Poké Balls? It’s your own fault you weren’t prepared.” The young trainer was aggravating her more and more by the second. “I don’t know what you did to it, but it doesn’t look like the stupid thing’s gonna move an inch, anyway.”
The trainer took a step back submissively. “Okay, okay, I’m sorry,” he cried, “but can you stay here and make sure it doesn’t?”
What’s up with this kid? He doesn’t even know who I am, yet he expects me to be like his servant or something. I’ve got better things to do than babysitting this thing. And if it does try to run away, what does he think I’m gonna do about it? “No,” Aurelia grumbled emotionlessly.
“Aww, seriously?” the trainer whined, “I helped you, so why can’t you help me?”
The kid did have a point. Aurelia had randomly approached him and asked where she was, so it’d only be fair for her to return the favor. But Aurelia didn’t feel that watching a wild Pokémon for however long it took the trainer to travel to the Poké Mart and back equated to uttering seven words.
“Oh, fine,” she murmured reluctantly. He’d better be thankful for this, that stupid kid.
“Yay, thanks!” the trainer shouted joyfully. “Okay, Sandile; return for now!”
Aurelia watched through narrowed eyes as he called back his Pokémon. She hadn’t even noticed that the little creature was there.
“Thanks so much, I’ll be right back!” the boy exclaimed, darting away.
“Don’t get lost,” Aurelia called, waving flaccidly. Letting out a sigh, she crept closer to the weird Pokémon the trainer had his eye on. “Hello,” she greeted in a deadpan voice, “what are you, anyway? And why does that kid want you so badly? You’re ugly.” Having no one else to vent to, she took out her anger on the Pokémon. “Why are you grinning like that? Is your face stuck that way?”
The creature stared at her passively. Aurelia doubted it had any idea what she was saying, which was probably a good thing. “Aren’t you gonna do anything?” Aurelia bent down, getting at eyelevel with the Pokémon. She began poking its face repeatedly. “Wow, you’re really stupid. I bet you don’t even know how to attack. Do you have any redeeming qualities at all? Or are you just a big, metal Magikarp?”
Bashing the Pokémon helped bring up Aurelia’s mood in a way. And the thing couldn’t understand her, so there was no harm done, right? It was just a Pokémon, and a really dumb one at that.
Or was it?
Destiny would’ve really loved to slap the girl across the face. If anything at all, she wasn’t doing much to help the situation.
Apparently, she had somehow become some kind of Pokémon. Judging by the two trainers’ dialogue, she was a really rare one. And now they were going to try to capture her. In her clueless daze, it was difficult for Destiny to absorb what was going on. But she knew for certain that everything had taken a turn for the worse.
In her crazy mess of thoughts and emotions, Destiny still found herself desperately wondering how she had ended up in this disaster. It was just one thing after another, and none of it made any sense! She concluded that she wasn’t going to solve anything by sitting there and doing nothing. First, she had to deal with these people, whoever they were. And maybe once they were out of the way, she’d finally be able to hunt for some answers.
What was she supposed to do now? Should she just get up and run away? Would the girl, who was supposed to be keeping an eye on her, chase her down? Destiny doubted it. The girl’s attitude made it pretty obvious that she wasn’t exactly happy with the job she had been assigned. If Destiny got away, she probably wouldn’t bother going after her. But if she did remain faithful to the boy’s instructions and chased her, Destiny would probably end up in more trouble than she already was in.
She decided to take the risk. Destiny jerked backwards, which startled the girl. She unsteadily rose to full height, her legs buckling underneath her. Her upper body had become surprisingly heavy, which she hadn’t been expecting. She straightened her legs, trying her best to hold up the weight.
“So, you finally caught on,” the girl taunted, an unimpressed look on her face. “You’re really slow.”
Destiny let out a quiet growl of annoyance, taking wobbly steps backwards. Even though whatever she had turned into seemed to walk on two legs like a person, its body was set up differently than a human’s. Destiny was going to have a hard time getting used to it.
“It looks like you’re slow both mentally and physically,” the girl remarked, “if you’re going to try to run away, at least make an effort.”
Destiny rolled her eyes. Oh, if only she knew! She continued taking awkward, lumbering gaits backwards, scared to turn her back to the girl. This isn’t going to get me anywhere, she told herself glumly, let’s face it; I’m doomed.
She stopped moving, and her legs began to collapse again. Destiny let herself fall to her knees, and she threw her arms out in front of her to prevent her face from colliding with the earth. She lifted her head, her terrified red eyes locked on the girl.
“What, is walking too much work for you?” the girl questioned, snickering.
Destiny snarled. If fleeing wasn’t an option, the only thing she could do was attack the girl. Even though she was acting like a bitch, Destiny couldn’t bring herself to hurt her. Maybe she could scare her off? Though honestly, Destiny didn’t think this girl seemed like the type that would scare easily. She figured it was worth a try; there wasn’t much else she could do.
She extended a leg and used it to prop herself up. Once she was on her feet, she began taking shaky steps forwards. She held out her arms threateningly, her lavender-colored claws pointed at the girl. Destiny created a low, gargling noise from the back of her throat. As disgusted as she was by what had happened to her, there was something she was almost beginning to admire about her new shape. Despite how she hadn’t quite gotten the hang of her body, taking advantage of her Pokémon appearance made her feel powerful and intimidating in an animalistic way.
“Oh boy,” the girl sighed, “what are you trying to do now? Am I supposed to be scared?”
Destiny let out a deep breath. Just as she had thought, it wasn’t working. She didn’t want to give up yet, though. She inched closer to the girl, and when she felt she was close enough, she lunged at her.
The girl effortlessly dodged her attack. “Starting to get feisty, are we?”
Destiny reeled back, frustrated. She lashed out one of her arms and swiped at the air in front of the girl’s face. The girl blinked, otherwise unfazed. Determined, Destiny repeated her action, this time slashing more quickly. The girl still didn’t care. Destiny pulled back her arm and prepared to make another move, when suddenly a voice rang out.
“Hey, I’m back!” It was the boy trainer. He stumbled onto the scene, breathing heavily. “Sorry it took me so long.” He did a quick scan of his surroundings, and then exclaimed, “Whoa! What’s going on? Did it try to attack you? Are you okay?”
“You’re kidding, right?” the girl snorted. “This is the single most pathetic Pokémon I’ve seen in my life. It looks weird, it’s stupid, it’s clumsy, and it can’t aim for nothing. The reason no one’s ever seen one of these things before is because it’s too dumb to live and it’s driven itself to near extinction. If I were you, I’d let this one go.”
The boy was taken aback by her comment. “What? Seriously?” He looked Destiny up and down, furrowing his brows. She was still frozen in place in front of the girl with one of her arms poised to strike.
“Yeah, seriously,” the girl retorted, “you should’ve seen when it tried to attack me. It was the funniest thing.”
“Oh. Oh well,” the boy mumbled, withdrawing a Poké Ball. He smiled smugly. “If it’s as weak as you make it sound, it’ll be easier to catch. If it’s that rare, I still want to catch it!”
“Whatever floats your boat,” the girl muttered, “can I leave now?”
The boy didn’t respond. He tossed the Poké Ball over his head, and it smacked into Destiny’s shoulder before clattering to the ground. For a heartbeat, Destiny didn’t know what to expect. She had seen what happened when trainers tried to catch Pokémon before—they were somehow sucked right into the Poké Balls. Once they were inside, they’d struggle to break out. If they failed to do so after a set amount of time, they’d be captured. Destiny never understood how it worked, but she figured she was about to find out.
“… The hell…” The girl’s eyes grew wide with shock.
“Huh,” the boy wasn’t nearly as surprised. “Maybe it was a dud. No worries, I have more!” He fished around in his bag before pulling out another Poké Ball. “Okay, let’s try this again.” He hurled it at Destiny, and it bounced off her arm.
“Okay, something isn’t right here,” the girl said. “There’s always the possibility that it’s already been captured. But who would leave it in the middle of a forest like this? … And who in the world would actually want to own one of these besides you?”
Destiny blinked. Obviously, she hadn’t been captured. Did that mean she wasn’t a Pokémon after all? From her understanding, Poké Balls only worked on Pokémon. And if she wasn’t a Pokémon, what else could she possibly be?
“That’s weird,” the boy commented, scratching his chin. “Well, that stinks! I really wanted to catch it.”
“That’s not important.” The girl shook her head. “It’s probably just some kind of freaky coincidence, but I find it odd that no one’s ever seen this Pokémon before, and Poké Balls don’t work on it.”
The boy shrugged. “It’s another trainer’s Pokémon, that’s all. Whoever caught it sure is lucky!” He began to stroll away as if nothing had happened, but then spun around on his heel to face Destiny and the girl again. “Oh, wait! You never told me what your name was! I’m Colby.”
“Aurelia,” the girl replied, raising an eyebrow. “That was a late introduction.”
“Eh, I don’t care. It was nice to meet you, Aurelia! Bye! Maybe if I try hard enough, I’ll find a wild Pokémon like that one!” Colby waited for the girl to respond, but she didn’t say anything. Destiny glanced at her, surprised that she didn’t have a rude remark to deliver. To her alarm, Aurelia was clutching her stomach in pain.
“Huh, Aurelia?” Colby’s voice was full of worry. “What’s the matter?”
Aurelia was starting to grow pale. “I… don’t know,” she grunted, her face contorted in a grimace. By then, her skin was an unnatural, deathly white.
Cold realization crept over Destiny. This seemed all too familiar. The odd feeling in her stomach, her skin changing color… Destiny could think of only one explanation.
Aurelia was beginning to transform.
Ben would soon discover that turning into Zekrom wasn’t nearly as cool as it first seemed.
It was a pretty long story. Basically, Ben woke up in a room among rows of other sleeping kids. Shortly after he escaped from the building, he was stricken with a weird feeling in his stomach. Seconds later, his body slowly began to metamorphose into the shape of one of the mythical dragons of the Unova region, Zekrom. He had no idea how it happened, but he thought of it as some kind of blessing.
Ben loved Pokémon. His parents were both Pokémon doctors, so their feelings towards Pokémon probably rubbed off on him. In fact, when he grew up, he wanted to become a Pokémon doctor as well. His parents’ work fascinated him. He was amazed by their knowledge of all the different types of ailments that could befall Pokémon, and that in most cases they knew exactly how to remedy them. It made him happy to watch sick Pokémon recover to full health, too. He couldn’t wait to work miracles just like his mother and father did.
Occasionally, Ben would fantasize about what it would be like to be a Pokémon. He wondered how it would feel to breathe fire or shoot beams of ice. It was hard to imagine something that extraordinary coming as natural to the interesting creatures. Ben also often found himself thinking about what went through a Pokémon’s head in the heat of a battle. Did they enjoy the thrill of the fight? Was that why they obeyed their trainer’s every command? Or were they forced into it? Was it some kind of instinctual or territorial thing? Maybe now he’d be able to find out.
On the contrary, he felt exactly the same as he did when he was a human. His physical structure was different, but he possessed the same mentality he had prior to the transformation. Ben was intrigued. Did that mean Pokémon thought like people? Maybe it was because he had assumed the form of a Legendary Pokémon? Or, perhaps it just had something to do with the fact that he had somehow changed into one. He concluded it was probably one of the latter. While Pokémon were definitely intelligent creatures, he couldn’t see them being quite as smart as humans.
Ben’s head was buzzing. He was simply overwhelmed! There were so many things he wanted to analyze and discover about being this Pokémon. He didn’t even give himself time to ponder what had caused his change in shape.
He decided he would take it easy for now. First, he wanted to try taking a few steps as Zekrom. During the course of his morphing sequence he had fallen onto his stomach, and he was still in the same position. Pressing his palms against the ground, he raised his haunches. To his surprise, his huge, conical tail wasn’t nearly as heavy as he had expected it to be. He continued to lift himself up, and when he was on his feet he protractedly erected his back. Once he had reached full height, he flexed his claws in front of his face. He watched in wonder, amazed that these powerful weapons were his.
Ben dipped his head and gazed down at his legs. His bipedal stance wasn’t vastly different from that of a human, although his legs were noticeably shorter for his size and they were positioned farther apart. He experimentally lifted one of his feet, first bringing up the heel and then his pointed toes. He raised his knee to his mid-belly and for a moment he just stood there with one leg in the air, but he had to put it back down almost instantly to avoid losing his balance.
He then placed one of his feet in front of him, and dragged the rest of his body along with it. Ben repeated the process, his steps growing increasingly quicker as he went on. He bared his teeth in mimicry of a grin, satisfied with how easy it was to walk in the shape of Zekrom. Now that he had that down, it was time to try something more interesting.
Previously, Ben had never seen Zekrom in his life. However, the dragon was a very popular figure in Unova mythology, so he still had a wealth of knowledge about it. He knew that it was of the Dragon and Electric types, and it possessed incredibly strong lightning based powers. Its tail served as a generator in which it produced electrical energy. Ben wanted to see if he could access this energy and use it to perform one of Zekrom’s Electric type attacks.
He had no idea how to do this, but he guessed it wouldn’t be too complicated if it was natural to Zekrom. Ben tried tensing the muscles on his back, clutching his claws together and digging his toes into the dirt. He could feel heat starting to gather in his tail, and he curiously glanced over his shoulder at it. It was faintly glowing blue, but after he lost his focus it dimmed. Determined, he tried again, this time holding his position for a longer amount of time.
Ben felt as if his entire being was filled to the brim with incredible power. His tail was shining brightly like a light bulb, and patches of skin elsewhere on his body were lit up with blue as well. He wanted to keep charging up more energy, but he had reached his limit. Electricity began to crackle from the tips of his claws. He could feel the heat emanating from the sparks and a slight buzzing sensation, but other than that he was unaffected.
Ben threw his arms up in the air and unleashed the stored energy, and an enormous flash radiated from his body with an earsplitting crack. Sparks showered down around him, drawn to the ground. The flare of electricity disappeared quicker than the time it took Ben to release his attack. Miraculously, none of the sparks ignited the surrounding trees. Ben had been too excited to consider the risk of using a move like that in such a densely forested area, but he was relieved nonetheless that everything went his way.
If only I knew how to control it, Ben thought, oh well, I’ll work on that later. There was something even more interesting that he wanted to test out first. Zekrom was equipped with a pair of powerful wings, and Ben wanted to find out what flying was like.
Looking over his shoulder, he gave his wings a flap. It was no different than moving his arms. He beat them again, this time harder. He could feel a gust of cool air buffet off his arms and back. Ben continued flapping his wings more rapidly and fiercely, hoping that he would lift off. When nothing happened, he attempted to give himself a boost by jumping off the ground. Instead of falling back to the earth he remained in the air, hovering a few feet above the ground.
Pleased with his success, Ben beat his wings even harder and kicked off with his legs. He was progressively gaining elevation, and eventually he was floating high above the trees. Now that he was free from any obstacles, he wanted to fly forward. He flipped onto his belly and spread his wings, his limbs dangling at his sides. He gave his wings one hard flap, and then let himself glide along the thermals.
It was breathtaking to see the world from that perspective. Everything looked so small from that height, which in turn made Ben feel big. Looking down upon the world, Ben felt as if he was free from all its boundaries and constraints. He was the legendary dragon Zekrom, and he could do as he pleased. Overjoyed, he pried open his jaws and let out a roar of triumph.
He twisted his body to one side and started to loop before thrusting his upper body downwards and letting himself shoot towards the ground. He caught himself at the last possible moment, angling himself so he swooped up into the sky again. Thrilled, Ben released another loud roar.
As he was now in the shape of a Legendary Pokémon that only existed in myth to many, it probably wasn’t a very wise decision for Ben to make his actions so showy. Additionally, little did he know that a certain organization was hunting down legendary Pokémon that made odd or unusual appearances.
Unfortunately for Ben, a particular member of this organization had found his first piece of prey.
There was no mistaking it. Every historical account described Zekrom as a large dragon with a lithe but muscular build, a huge conical tail, and rugged, obsidian colored scales. No other Pokémon matched that description, meaning Dragon couldn’t possibly be seeing anything but the mythical dragon. But according to Unovan lore, Zekrom couldn’t possibly exist in modern times.
The land that would later make up the Unova region was once tormented by anarchy and constant warfare. It remained in everlasting chaos until two brothers arrived from another realm on the back of a mighty dragon. This dragon was a complete being with a perfect balance of traits and qualities and power that exceeded human comprehension. Using its unfathomable abilities, they managed to unite the peoples of the land, which led to the creation of the Unova region.
For many years, this region flourished under the two brothers’ prosperous rule. Numerous closely-knit towns and cities were established, and the citizens basked in peace for quite some time. However, one day the two brothers started arguing over something each sought in life, with the older brother seeking truth and the younger brother seeking ideals. Their fights led to the dragon splitting into two beings; Reshiram and Zekrom.
Reshiram, a dragon as white and pure as truth, sided with the older brother. In turn, Zekrom, a more idealistic black dragon, joined the younger brother. The brothers and their draconic companions clashed, but since both dragons were born from the same being, neither could defeat the other. It was later declared that neither truth nor ideals were wholly correct.
The issue was set aside, although the two dragons that had spawned from the original one were unable to recombine. While Reshiram and Zekrom were weaker than the great dragon, if they were to work as one, they’d surely have the same capabilities. But as they were derived from its opposite halves, they fought constantly and could not unite. The dragon had become two separate forces; thunder and fire, black and white, ideals and truth.
The two brothers tried their best to maintain their hold on the region, though Unova slowly began to slip into another era of disorder. By the time their sons succeeded them, a civil war ravaged the land. During this period of strife, the entire region was nearly burned down. Many people and Pokémon were lost, and sometime before the war’s resolution, the bodies of Zekrom and Reshiram were destroyed.
Upon the war’s conclusion, the short-lived monarchy was overthrown, and Unova became a republican region, as it still is today. Efforts were made to restore the region, which ended up highly successful. Buildings and homes were reconstructed, trees and vegetation were replanted, and people and Pokémon quickly repopulated.
The dragons were never seen again, and it is commonly debated whether this was for better or for worse. However, there is a legend that the souls of Reshiram and Zekrom live on in the form of stones, and upon the rise of a great hero the dragons will reemerge in all their former glory. The identities of these stones have apparently been uncovered, and they are held in protected locations due to popular belief that the reappearance of Zekrom and Reshiram will throw Unova into another age of disarray.
In order for what Dragon perceived to be logically correct, a hero would’ve had to have transpired and revived Zekrom’s petrified soul. But if that was true he surely would’ve received word of it by now, especially since he heard that Team Plasma was seeking to abduct the stones for purposes he was unaware of. There was only one other possible explanation: what Dragon saw in front of him was a fully transformed Pokémon hybrid.
If this was the case, which it most likely was, then Dragon had made an incredible discovery for the organization. Up until now, the Team Plasma grunts had been partaking in a wild goose chase to find the locations of the hybrids. They had divided themselves up across the entire Unova region, searching every nook and cranny for any sign of them. Dragon had been assigned to investigate the land north of Mistralton City, which was pretty insignificant in his book.
But perhaps that had been the traitor scientist’s intention. Why would he plant himself in a predictable location and have his creations apprehended alongside him? It was a clever plan, although unfortunately for him it hadn’t spared him from his own seizure. And now, if Dragon got his way, his creations wouldn’t escape capture, either.
The Zekrom was sailing across the sky effortlessly, its large wings spread out like a glider. It didn’t appear to have a destination in mind; it fact, it looked as if it was flying for the sake of its own amusement. It was soaring in loops, diving towards the ground and then shooting back up into the air as if it was trying to make a show of itself. Dragon found the behavior somewhat strange.
Ghetsis had said that most of the people used to create hybrids were teenagers, just like Dragon. But if Dragon had found himself in that situation, the last thing he’d want to do would be to draw attention to himself. It must be an oblivious, simple-minded person, Dragon thought, in that case, it should be easy to catch.
“It’s go time, Archeops,” Dragon murmured, withdrawing a Poké Ball. He held it out in front of him, releasing a birdlike creature into the air. Brightly colored feathers covered most of its body, ranging from ocean blue to golden yellow. Its head, feet, and tail, which were bald, were soft red. “Krrwweeee,” it screeched happily.
Smiling, Dragon reached to pat its head. Archeops closed its eyes and whistled affectionately. A lot of people thought it was hypocritical that Team Plasma owned Pokémon themselves, though in order to convince people to liberate their Pokémon, it was necessary for the members of Team Plasma to have some of their own. But once they had accomplished their goal, they too would release their Pokémon into the wild. And in the mean time, Dragon made sure to treat his Pokémon as equals.
That’s what trainers insisted they did—they boasted that the foundation of their relationship with Pokémon was friendship. What lies! What kind of person would drag his friend into battle and force him to hurt people and get hurt himself? A popular claim was that Pokémon actually enjoyed fighting, and battled for the same reasons boxers and wrestlers did—but Dragon knew that wasn’t true, because Pokémon were naturally nonaggressive creatures that only fought if provoked; an example of this being skirmishes over territory.
“Okay, Archeops. Do you see the black dragon in the sky?” Dragon asked his Pokémon, still stroking its head. The prehistoric bird nodded its head and let out a quick caw. “All right, that’s good. We need to go after it. Can you help me?”
Archeops purred and swooped onto the ground, spreading its wings. “Thank you,” Dragon praised, climbing onto its back. Once he was on, Archeops let out a cry and took off into the air. Dragon hugged his arms around its neck as it gained elevation and shot towards the Zekrom. With its back turned to Archeops and Dragon, the hulking black Pokémon didn’t notice their presence. Perfect. The Plasma grunt grinned in satisfaction.
Archeops slowed as they began to near the dragon. It turned its head to look at its trainer expectantly. “Here’s the plan,” Dragon whispered to it. “I’m not exactly sure how we’re gonna go about capturing it, but first we should probably have it grounded. So, I was thinking you could use DragonBreath and aim for its wings. Do you think you could do that?”
Archeops dipped its head and flew a little closer to the Zekrom. Once it was directly behind it, it gaped and exhaled a ray of pink fire. It swung its head from side to side, the flames dancing along with its movements.
The Zekrom roared in both pain and surprise as the Archeops’s fiery breath scorched its wings. It looked over its shoulder and flinched at the sight of the Archeops and the guy on its back. The dragon turned itself around and pulled its body upright, its wings apparently still fit for flight.
“Keep going, Archeops!” Dragon encouraged. Archeops shrieked and let loose another fierce DragonBreath. The Zekrom tried to dive down to avoid it, but in its new position it wasn’t able to do so in time. The bright magenta fire buffeted its wings, and it threw back its head and screamed in agony.
It hurt Dragon a bit to see the Zekrom in pain, but he tried to convince himself that the Pokémon in front of him wasn’t a Pokémon at all. It was a genetically altered being; something that was not meant to exist outside of science fiction stories. He told himself that if it wasn’t dealt with, in the end more Pokémon and people would get hurt. Ghetsis said that hybrids were violent and unstable beings, and they were prone to attacking anything at any time. But surprisingly, even though it had been attacked first, the hybrid wasn’t doing anything to defend itself.
The Zekrom struggled helplessly to flap its wings, which were badly charred. It was slowly beginning to lose elevation, just like Dragon had wanted. “Archeops, how about a Rock Slide to finish the job?” he suggested.
“Krrreeeee,” Archeops replied. It let out a loud shriek, and suddenly large boulders rained down over the Zekrom. The hybrid made a pitiful little noise that sounded somewhat like a squeak before it was hammered by the heavy rocks.
Dragon watched as the boulders, along with the dragon, plummeted to the earth. “Bull’s-eye,” he chimed, scratching under Archeops’s chin. The birdlike creature purred happily. “Now let’s land and see what we can do.”
Archeops descended and landed on the ground near where the Zekrom had fallen. Dragon hopped off its back and stepped over to the hybrid. Archeops rose into the air again and curiously followed the grunt.
The Zekrom was on its back, and the boulders were strewn around its body. One of the large rocks had landed on its wing, which had already been injured by Archeops’s DragonBreath. Its eyes were closed and its teeth were exposed in a grimace, and it seemed to be unconscious.
Dragon turned to Archeops. “Well,” he began, “any ideas on how we should haul this seven hundred-something pound dragon back to headquarters?”
“Aurelia, what’s going on?” Colby cried, starting to panic. He didn’t have the slightest idea what was happening to the girl; he’d never seen anything like this before. “Is there anything I can do to help you?”
“No, you… idiot,” Aurelia growled, her voice gripped by pain. Holding her stomach in one arm, she stumbled over to a tree and threw her other arm around it. Her legs were wobbling, and she probably would’ve fallen over if it wasn’t for the tree’s support.
“You need help… I need to do something…” Colby tossed his bag down and dug through it fiercely, even though he knew there was nothing in there that would help her. After he had spilled all its contents on the ground, he fell to the ground hopelessly. He could run back to Mistralton and get some help, but he feared that by then it’d already be too late. There was nothing he could do.
Was Aurelia going to die? If she did, Colby wouldn’t be able to live knowing that a girl had died in front of him and he hadn’t done anything to save her. He had only just begun his Pokémon journey, and his path was already riddled with tribulations. Why was this happening to him? He had pictured himself starting his journey by battling a few wild Pokémon, and perhaps catching one or two. That’s how things should’ve been—not like this mess he had stumbled into.
Suddenly, Aurelia lost her grip on the tree and collapsed to the ground. She lay on her side, her body twitching. To Colby’s alarm, her face was darkening into a slate gray color. And then something even stranger happened—Aurelia’s facial features were pulled into her skin, leaving nothing but her eyes and a pair of striations that had formed in the process. Colby couldn’t help but squeal and squirm away at the sight. This definitely wasn’t natural! It was a frightening thing to watch, and he would’ve bet Aurelia would be screaming if she only had a mouth. He couldn’t imagine how it must have felt to be in Aurelia’s position, and he was too scared to put a lot of consideration into the thought. As much as he wanted to run away and pretend he had only been hallucinating, he couldn’t bear to leave Aurelia by herself like this.
Aurelia’s forehead, which was still snow white like the rest of her skin, jutted out and a strip of gold emerged from its center. Her ears shifted up the sides of her face, stretching into long points that came to resemble horns. These horn-like structures also dipped down to her chin, which now ended in a sharp point. Her hair solidified into a long, mane-like appendage on the back of her head, with the top half white and the lower portion striated gray like her face. Her eyes dilated, her sclerae turning emerald green and her irises red. Circular patches of skin the same color as her sclerae bubbled where her cheeks should’ve been.
Her neck broadened, latching onto the mane-like appendage. It also lengthened significantly, and two pairs of bony, triangular plates formed from its sides. Aurelia’s chest took on the color and pattern of her face and the bottom half of her mane.
Her arms thickened and shifted position until they came to resemble the front limbs of an equine creature. Her fingers molded together and pointed outward, ending in sharp tips that were covered with strips of gold. The same became of her legs.
An odd, yellow growth appeared on Aurelia’s back, and it burst into an intricate arc-like structure that wrapped around her belly. An emerald gem glimmered in each corner of the growth. A tail that bore a striking resemblance to her mane sprouted above her rear.
Colby stared, both paralyzed and mesmerized by Aurelia’s weird transmogrification. His mind was blank, his sole attention focused on absorbing the strange images that played before his eyes. Once Aurelia was fully transformed, he finally registered what was going on.
“A-Arceus,” he choked waveringly, his whole body trembling, “I’ve been b-blessed by Arceus!”
According to legend originating in the distant Sinnoh region, before the inception of the universe there was nothing but a churning void of turmoil and madness. At the heart of this vortex, where all the chaos radiated, a single egg was formed from the fibers of nothingness. The egg eventually birthed a divine being that came to be known as Arceus, which was also commonly referred to as “the Original One”.
With its one thousand arms and its holy powers, Arceus shaped the universe. To help it on its mission, Arceus created two beings from its own body. When one of these beings, a dragon known as Dialga was born, time began to flow. The existence of the second being, a dragon called Palkia, caused space to expand. These two beings prayed, and matter came to be. To balance the young universe, Arceus created a third dragon named Giratina, and its existence brought about antimatter.
At this point, Arceus’s power was beginning to ebb. Using its last might, it birthed three living things; Mesprit, Azelf, and Uxie. These three creatures prayed, and spirit began to persist. This became the foundation of emotion, will, and knowledge.
Arceus, satisfied with its contributions to the rapidly expanding universe, accepted its fate. It was now completely drained of power, and it knew it was time for it to die. Thus, it departed from the realm of the living, eternally survived by its creations; the universe, the world, the beings that sprang from its body, and the principles they gave rise to. However, it is rumored that Arceus lives on; either in a severely weakened state, or in the form of a direct descendant.
It is commonly accepted that Arceus looked, or looks, like an equine creature with mostly white skin and a dark gray chest, a long neck, pointy ears, a flowing mane, and a strange, golden arc structure wrapped around its body. And the creature that had once been Aurelia matched that description perfectly, down to the very last detail.
The creature craned its neck, raising its head from the ground. It glanced fearfully at Colby, and then at the purple insect, which was in turn staring at it in shock. Colby rose to his feet, his heart beating a mile a minute. This was incredible! Had the girl who claimed to be named Aurelia really just been the holy Arceus in disguise? Why was he being visited by such a deity?
“What… just happened.” Colby heard a voice, although strangely, it seemed to be his mind itself rather than his ears that perceived the sound. He knew what was happening right away; Arceus was trying to communicate with him via telepathy. While Arceus lacked a mouth, which rendered it unable to speak, it could transport its thoughts into the minds of others, thereby allowing it to convey its feelings. A number of other exceptionally intelligent Pokémon were capable of doing this, such as the clever Zorua and many mythological Pokémon. A lot of people were actually incapable of telling the difference between telepathy and vocal communication, but Colby somehow had a firm grasp of which was which. Although telepathy instilled the user’s words into the receiver’s thoughts, the unique voice of the user was retained. Surprisingly, Arceus’s speech was in the voice of the girl it had disguised itself as, but Colby didn’t put too much though into it.
Colby was lost for words. What should he say to Arceus, the creator of the universe? He figured he’d probably end up saying something that came out as disrespectful, so he decided to keep his mouth shut. Instead, he dropped to his knees and bowed down to the Original One.
Arceus cocked its head to one side. “Uh… kid? I’m liking this respect and all, but… what the hell are you doing?”
Colby froze. That certainly didn’t sound like something a god would say; or at least the kind of god he believed in. In fact, it sounded like something straight out of Aurelia’s mouth. That, paired with the fact that Arceus’s words actually came out in Aurelia’s voice, began to confuse Colby. “Wait… Aurelia?” he blurted.
“Yes, what do you want?” Arceus demanded, its scornful gaze locked on Colby.
“So, let’s get this straight,” Colby breathed, “you’re Aurelia.”
Arceus laughed. “Of course; who else would I be?”
Arceus was undoubtedly telling the truth, and Colby couldn’t believe it. “But you… you just…”
Aurelia rolled her eyes and pulled herself off the ground, stretching her back leisurely. “Yeah, so apparently I just turned into a Pokémon or something. What difference does it make?”
Colby’s jaw dropped in ridicule. Aurelia had just morphed into a creature resembling the Pokémon that created the universe, and she looked like she could care less. “What… are you?”
“I’m actually not that sure,” she replied nonchalantly, “I’m supposed to be a thirteen year old girl, but apparently that’s no longer the case.”
Colby shook his head, not even trying to sort out the situation in his mind. First he encountered a Pokémon that had never been seen before, and then the girl he randomly met up with transformed into Arceus right before his eyes. Was he in the middle of some kind of bizarre dream? Perhaps if he woke up, he’d be able to start his Pokémon journey for real, without running into any crazy events like these.
Let me wake up, Colby desperately begged in his mind, I need to restart this!
Aurelia was trying her best to hide the incredulity and horror resonating within her. This was just too crazy, even by her standards. Of all the hardships she had encountered throughout her life, this was the only one that impacted her directly. It was also certainly the most unrealistic thing to have ever happened to her; as far as she knew, people didn’t turn into Pokémon every day. In fact, the concept was unheard of, not to mention impossible. The prospect of changing into a Pokémon was merely a distant fantasy in the dreams of naïve youngsters.
If that was the case, then what had happened to her? How had she managed to defy common logic and assume the form of a Pokémon? Aurelia wracked her brain for potential answers, and it didn’t take her too long to formulate a few theories.
Although shape-shifting was unattainable among humans, there were several species of Pokémon that were capable of accomplishing this feat. The most well known example was a creature called Ditto, which was native to the Kanto region. In its normal shape, it resembled a gelatinous, pale purple blob. However, a Ditto could actually reconstitute its entire cellular structure, in turn copying the physical attributes of another creature down to the very last detail. But in order to do this successfully, a Ditto needed a model of whatever it intended to turn into; otherwise, it tended to confuse certain features. Aurelia hadn’t yet taken the time to decipher what exactly she had turned into, but she knew nothing like it had been nearby at the time. Besides, she was pretty sure she’d know if she had been born a Ditto.
With that far-fetched conjecture aside, Aurelia had another, much more reasonable hypothesis. In all the hustle and bustle she had been through today, she had almost forgotten about the strange building in which she had awakened that morning. Finding herself there hadn’t bothered her previously, but as time rolled by and details emerged, she began to find it more and more disturbing. Just why had she, and so many other teens, been asleep and lined up for no apparent purpose in a large room within a mysterious building?
She wasn’t really sure how this would’ve had anything to do with her transformation, but she figured it must be related somehow. Aurelia mentally added up everything she knew, trying to form a conclusion; she had woken up in the room with no memory of why she was there, and then a little while later she shifted into a Pokémon. Was it within the realm of esteemed possibility that she had been altered genetically sometime before she had woken up? That couldn’t be the answer, could it?
As far as Aurelia knew, genetic modifications such as this did not yet exist in the world. While many advances had been made in field of genetic engineering, such as the revival of ancient Pokémon fossils and the creation of Mewtwo, the transformation from human to Pokémon was simply otherworldly. Or, what if it was in fact possible, but no one had focused on following through with the project due to its impracticality? What exactly would a human hope to accomplish in the form of a Pokémon that they couldn’t achieve by training a Pokémon?
In that case, why would someone waste time, money, and resources modifying a random girl like her? If anything at all, wouldn’t it have been more logical to experiment on a volunteer? Maybe no one had offered to become a guinea pig, and whoever was behind this madness had resorted to kidnapping a teenager off the street. But why did it have to be her? Was this part of the relentless misfortune that followed wherever she roamed?
Regardless of why she was chosen, she was brought back to the enigma of why someone would want to pull something like this off. No matter how hard she thought, she couldn’t come up with a logical explanation. If this project, perhaps, was devoted to discovering a way to create better Pokémon, then why would scientists experiment on a human over a different Pokémon? The lives of humans were more valuable than the lives of Pokémon, weren’t they? And Aurelia’s life might as well have been over. As a Pokémon, no matter what it may be, her goal of becoming a Unova League Champion had been ruined. That was one of the only things that kept her going in life. What would she have to live for if she was stuck as a creature whose only destiny was to be shoved in a ball and ordered around?
The theory of her transformation being the result of scientific experiments could easily be incorrect, however. In fact, the only reason the thought came to her was because her brother was once obsessed with lousy science fiction movies; movies where cities were terrorized by an enormous Tyranitar, movies where humans were given the powers of Pokémon… Aurelia thought they were the stupidest things and never understood how her brother could be into stuff like that. If he were alive today, he would probably be thrilled about his sister going through something similar to the protagonists in his dumb movies.
A third theory surfaced in Aurelia’s mind, this one also relating to her brother’s movies. What if the purple insect, which both she and Colby agreed was a creature not normally found in this region, was an alien that harbored a disease that mutated those who made physical contact with it? Aurelia remembered her brother watching a movie where Deoxys invaded the planet and grotesquely morphed those who touched it, and in turn the mutated people would change those who made contact with them. She clearly remembered poking the creature’s face several times while trying to egg it on. Colby, however, hadn’t laid a finger on it; therefore, he was perfectly fine. Maybe this was the creature’s “redeeming” quality. Had her transmogrification been the consequence of her own folly? Aurelia didn’t want to picture her downfall as a result of her own stupidity; the thought that this could have been easily avoided made her feel sick.
If this was the case, then was there an antidote? While the details were blurry, she thought she remembered the characters in the Deoxys movie finding something that turned the transformed people back to normal. Did something like this really exist in the world, or was it simply created for the sake of the movie’s plot? And if this theory was true, then that would mean that the insect creature was still contagious, and so was Aurelia. Maybe it would be best if they were both destroyed; then, the strain of this disease would never reach the general populous. But it wouldn’t be wise to jump to any conclusions; as odd and unfamiliar as it was, the purple Pokémon could be completely innocent and harmless.
Aurelia sighed, shifting her focus to Colby. The boy looked utterly terrified, which made her scoff. He didn’t have the right to be afraid. After all, he hadn’t been the one who withstood a bizarre transmogrification into some kind of Pokémon. He had merely witnessed it. “Calm down, kid. You’re not making the situation any better,” she hissed, fed up with both her fate and his panicking.
Aurelia noticed that speaking with telepathy came naturally to her in this form; it was no different than speaking vocally, although it didn’t require lip movement and wasn’t affected by the condition of her throat. She was glad that she could at least communicate with others; most Pokémon were restricted to making animalistic growls and cries.
Colby stared up at her fearfully, as if he had been intimidated by her last comment. “How… are you not bothered by this?” he asked shakily.
“You really think this doesn’t bother me?” Aurelia snorted in amusement. “I’ve tried to stop letting myself be bothered by things. It hasn’t worked. You’d think that someone who was abandoned by her whole family would just realize that her life sucks and get on with it, but alas, things don’t work that way. If you really think I’m not bothered by this, then I must be pulling off a pretty decent façade.” Aurelia let herself ramble, drawing out the thoughts circulating within her mind. She didn’t care if it was a relevant answer to Colby’s question; it just felt good to release her emotions relating to the subject.
“What? … Okay,” Colby didn’t seem to be following along, which didn’t concern Aurelia.
She shook her head, quickly changing the subject. “Why don’t you make yourself useful and tell me what kind of Pokémon I’ve turned into? You’re a trainer, so I expect you know a lot about Pokémon.”
“You’re not going to believe this,” Colby began, “well, maybe you are. I don’t really know you, so—“
“Just get on with it,” Aurelia snarled impatiently.
“You’re Arceus,” Colby said, free of any emotion.
“What?” Aurelia retorted in disbelief. Arceus, the Original One? As in the divine creature that birthed the universe? He had to have been mistaken! Maybe he just meant Archeops; their names were uncannily similar. He was just a rookie trainer, and a badly shaken one at that. A misconception such as that wouldn’t be too big of a surprise.
“Arceus,” Colby repeated, “you’re Arceus.”
Aurelia gave him a funny look, and then decided to take matters into her own hands. She had completely ignored the fact that she could easily examine her arms to determine what she was; this was probably out of dread or distraction, or perhaps a combination of both. She shut her eyes, lowering her head. When she opened her eyes, she expected to see the brightly colored feathers of an Archeops sprawled out in place of her human arms. But what she saw was anything but that.
Her arms had been replaced by muscular white forelegs with golden hooves where her hands had once been. This matched the recognized depiction of Arceus perfectly. There was no denying it; Colby wasn’t mistaken.
She was Arceus.
Ben’s ebony wings were raw and charred. His entire body ached, and he could feel heavy weights pressing down on him. He phased in and out of consciousness, his breathing shallow. Black patches swam around his vision. The hapless Zekrom felt too weak to try getting up; he knew he wouldn’t be able to lift the weight of his own body.
A voice droned in the background, but Ben couldn’t make out what it was saying. He could tell it belonged to the teenager with the Archeops; the one responsible for all of this. The Zekrom resisted the urge to rip the trainer apart. If he hadn’t shown up, Ben would still be flying free. He never stopped to consider that his misfortune may have been caused by his own ignorance.
What was he supposed to do now? What did this trainer intend on doing with him? Surely if he wanted to catch him, he would’ve done so by now. But if that was the case, then why was he still waiting around? Was he expecting someone else to show up? Perhaps the trainer with the Archeops didn’t have any Poké Balls, and was waiting for a friend to bring him some.
Regardless of what the trainer was going to do, Ben knew that he needed to get away as quickly as possible; he couldn’t afford to be captured. As inquisitive as he was, the young man had never pondered how Poké Balls worked, and he wasn’t willing to find out anytime soon. He was sure, however, that being caught would greatly limit the liberty granted by his new form.
There was also something he especially did not like about this particular trainer; Ben wasn’t fond of how he had been treating him thus far, and he seemed to radiate a foul aura. These feelings surely could have been derived from the resentment the Zekrom felt towards the trainer after he had beaten him, though.
Ben growled, creating a crackling noise in the back of his throat. He limply lifted one of his arms before dropping it to the ground again. He then tried to curl his back and sit up, but the rocks covering his chest and belly were too heavy. The Zekrom smashed the back of his head against the ground in frustration. If only my parents were here… he snarled in his mind, they’d be able to fix me up good as new.
Ben gave up hope. He relaxed his tensed body, which became more sensitive to the rhythmic throbbing that pulsed through him. He gazed up at the blue sky in melancholy. This is where I should be. The Zekrom gritted his teeth, bile rising in his throat. How did I end up like this? Why am I even a Zekrom in the first place?
He closed his eyes for a moment and let out a ragged breath, trying to tune in what the trainer was saying. He was still hopelessly pacing around, and Ben wasn’t sure whether or not the trainer was fully aware that he had regained consciousness. The Zekrom noticed he was carrying some kind of device. It took him a second to decipher what it was; a C-Gear set on the Xtransceiver function. So the trainer was trying to contact somebody. Ben swallowed hard, expecting the worst.
“Look, I’ve been trying to contact Lord N for fifteen minutes now. This is urgent,” the trainer spat. Ben crinkled his brow in confusion. Who was this “Lord N”? It seemed like an awful peculiar name; perhaps it was someone’s codename? Not putting much thought into it, Ben continued listening.
“No, I can’t speak to just any grunt. This information needs to get to Lord N.” Ben assumed that the person on the other end of the Xtransceiver had said something in response; from where he was positioned, he couldn’t hear. He attempted to shift his body closer, but the Zekrom was too weak to move even an inch.
“Fine, if that’s the case, then I guess I have no choice but to speak with Ghetsis.” The trainer’s voice had a reluctant tone to it. Whoever this “Ghetsis” was had a rather interesting name as well. Ben repeated the two names in his mind, carefully observing and memorizing what was playing out around him.
After a short pause, the trainer resumed speaking; “Greetings, Ghetsis. I’ve managed to find and capture a Pokémon hybrid.” He spoke straightforwardly with confidence, as if he wanted to get right to the point.
Ben instantly recognized that he was referring to him—but what was a “Pokémon hybrid”? To Ben’s understanding, a hybrid was a crossbreed of two different species; Ben had clearly become a full Zekrom. But since he assumed the trainer was talking in codes, he figured that “hybrid” could easily be a substitute for another term. Maybe it had something to do with him being a Legendary Pokémon?
“There’s a bit of a problem, though,” the trainer admitted, his tone weakening, “the hybrid is unconscious, but it’s currently assuming its full Pokémon form. I don’t know how to transport it back to headquarters.”
The more the trainer spoke, the more confused and intrigued Ben became. What did “full Pokémon form” mean? Was there such thing as a “half Pokémon form”? How did that work out? Ben had never heard of anything like that; but then again, he never guessed that he would’ve ended up in the shape of Zekrom. He ignored that particular detail for the time being, even though it puzzled him the most.
Another part of the trainer’s last reply came across as significant to Ben; apparently, he intended to take him to “headquarters”. His wording reminded Ben of something he’d expect to see on TV or in a movie, and distracted him from the bitterness boiling inside of him. In a way, the trainer’s conversation excited Ben; it was almost as if he was a secret agent reporting to his boss about a mission. And from what Ben understood, he was the target of this mission. This realization filled the Zekrom with adrenaline; he knew that he was stuck in a terrible situation, but he had to admit the circumstances were pretty darn cool. Ben wished he could get up and kick the stupid secret agent’s butt like a movie hero, but obviously he couldn’t.
“Oh, right. That makes sense. Well, hopefully it doesn’t take too long.” Ben noticed that the trainer sounded relieved, which probably meant bad news for him. He bit his lip, unable to deal with not knowing what would become of him. I guess I have no choice but to wait, Ben sighed in his mind, I have to admit I agree with that trainer. I hope this doesn’t take too long as well.
Everything had played out exactly as Destiny had expected. Aurelia had gone through the same stomach churning transmogrification that she had experienced, and had ended up in the form of a Pokémon. However, instead of becoming a never before seen creature, Aurelia had turned into something equally bizarre; Arceus, the deity who had purportedly created the universe.
Destiny honestly wasn’t surprised by the elusiveness of the Pokémon Aurelia had taken the shape of; after watching herself morph into whatever this creature was, she decided anything was possible. It all had to tie in with that weird building she had found herself in. Aurelia was undoubtedly one of the other kids she had seen in the room.
She still didn’t know what the cause of these transformations was. Destiny remembered seeing the puncture wound in her arm; the point in which the purple coloring had radiated from when she began to change. This probably had something to do with it; had she been injected with some sort of substance that caused her to change? As far as she knew, stuff like that wasn’t even possible.
“Arceus,” Aurelia choked uncomfortably. How was she able to talk? Unlike Destiny, Aurelia didn’t have a mouth, and yet she could speak and Destiny could not. The only noises that could come out of Destiny’s mouth were unintelligible garbling noises. She was very frustrated with herself; if she was able to talk, she could explain everything to Colby and Aurelia. Everything would be so much more convenient, and the two would no longer think she’s a powerless, unintelligent creature. She and Aurelia were suffering from the same problem; if she could communicate with her, maybe they could work together to discover the cause and return themselves to normal.
“Yes,” said Colby hesitantly. Aurelia’s disturbance appeared to be rubbing off on him; he was terrified to begin with, but seeing the bold and feisty girl reduced to a state of shock tampered with his emotions even more.
“That’s… I don’t even know what to think about this,” Aurelia shook her head, her multicolored eyes enlarged with fright.
“Neither do I,” Colby responded, his sight averted from the divine creature.
“Shut up!” Aurelia snapped, “Just shut up! You’re still a stupid little trainer! You have absolutely nothing to worry about! You might as well just walk away right now and get on with your pathetic little life! Heck, you can go ahead and catch me for all I care! It’s not like I have anything better to do!”
Colby cringed at Aurelia’s fiery retort. Destiny thought it was rather uncalled for; the poor kid didn’t do anything wrong. She already wasn’t very fond of the girl from when she attacked her with a series of insults, and she liked her less and less as time rolled on. If the two of them did start working together somehow, Destiny wasn’t sure if she’d be able to put up with her.
Colby furrowed his brows, as if he had absorbed Aurelia’s anger as well. He reached into his bag and pulled out a round object—a Poké Ball. Is he… really going to try to catch her? Destiny knew she wasn’t being serious, and she was afraid to see what her response to this would be.
“Bring it on!” Aurelia yelled brashly, “Get on with it!”
“Fine!” Colby shouted, yanking his arm back. He stepped forward, flinging the Poké Ball at the Arceus. It collided with her forehead and dropped to the ground. She blinked impassively, staring down at the spherical object. After several heartbeats, nothing had happened. Destiny noted that the same thing had occurred when Colby had tried to capture her; it must’ve been linked to their transformations.
“What the heck?” Colby exclaimed, his voice high in pitch.
“I am God! I can never be captured!” Aurelia threw her head back, her nearly maniacal laughter echoing in the air
“What if that’s not the reason?” Colby began timidly. “I don’t think that’s supposed to happen; not even with Pokémon like Arceus. It only happens when you try to catch a trainer’s Pokémon, and I know you haven’t been captured. I really don’t think that new Pokémon has a trainer, either, and the same thing happened when I tried to catch it.” Destiny’s heart picked up when the trainer mentioned her.
“You don’t know anything about Pokémon, idiot. How would you know?” Aurelia growled, seemingly back to her normal self. “What are you trying to get at, anyway?”
“I don’t know,” Colby answered. “You’ll probably think this is really stupid, but…”
“What? What is it?” Aurelia demanded impatiently, as if she suspected what he was about to say.
“… Well, what I mean is that what happened to both of you is really similar. Do you think there’s a chance that the Pokémon could be like you?” Destiny smiled mentally; someone had finally gotten the hint!
“Like me?” Aurelia repeated. “As in, a former human?” Aurelia froze for a moment, and then began laughing loudly again. “Not a chance! How could you even compare that stupid thing to me?” Destiny let out a quiet growl.
Colby sighed. “I told you it was a dumb idea. Well, I thought it sorta made sense.”
“Psh, as if,” snorted the Arceus.
Destiny closed her eyes. She didn’t want to put up with this anymore. There had to be some way she could show the two that she had once been a human. Maybe she could try speaking again? Perhaps there had been something caught in her throat earlier. She took a deep breath, and then spoke a single word; “Wrrrlgh.” Both Aurelia and Colby turned their attention to her, and she felt her face turn hot with failure.
“What was that for?” Aurelia questioned in partial amusement.
“Maybe it’s trying to tell us something?” Colby suggested.
“Don’t be stupid,” Aurelia retorted, rolling her eyes.
Destiny wracked her brain for another idea. Maybe she could try writing a message in the dirt? The forest floor was soft and bare of vegetation, making it an optimal place to scrape in words or a picture. She would’ve normally used a twig or stick to write in the earth, but since she was no longer capable of holding anything, she’d have to resort to using her own hands. Luckily, the creature she had become was equipped with pointy claws; surely they’d work just as well as any old stick.
Destiny began to kneel, her legs wobbling unstably. She pressed her left arm against the ground for support, and extended the other. She started to scratch a word into the dirt with shaky handwriting, and when she was finished she squirmed out of the way so the others could see her work.
“Wait, what did it just do?” Aurelia craned her neck, trying to see what Destiny had just done.
“I think it wrote something!” Colby exclaimed excitedly. He walked over to the spot on the ground and crouched in front of it. “Human,” he remarked, “that’s what it says.”
“You’re joking,” Aurelia coughed.
“I’m not!” Colby cried, “I guess I really was onto something…”
“I don’t get it,” the Arceus muttered, still wary of Colby’s claims, “that thing hasn’t been acting like a normal person should.”
“Well, I don’t know,” said Colby, “but it’s true. Isn’t that right?” He turned and looked at Destiny, awaiting a response.
Yes! Joy surged through Destiny’s veins as she rapidly bobbed her head in approval.
“So that thing’s been sitting there watching us with a human brain the entire time,” Aurelia realized, “that’s pretty awkward.”
That’s all she has to say? Destiny grumbled in her mind. No apologies or anything?
“It is,” Colby agreed, turning to face Destiny, “uh… sorry for trying to catch you earlier. I didn’t know what was going on.”
Destiny nodded in acceptance. He’s not a bad kid, she thought, glaring at Aurelia, unlike her.
“There’s still another thing that’s bugging me,” Colby admitted. “I don’t have a clue what you are. Do you know?”
She froze for a second, and then slowly shook her head. She didn’t have the slightest clue; but then again, she didn’t know too much about Pokémon. She also hadn’t gotten a chance to really look at her new shape, but what she had seen didn’t match any Pokémon she recognized. It seemed awfully strange to her that neither of the two knew what she was; was it really possible that she was a Pokémon no one had ever seen before?
Colby’s first day as a Pokémon trainer was becoming crazier by the second, although most of his shock and horror had been converted to intrigue and possibly a touch of wonder. As if witnessing Aurelia transform into Arceus wasn’t ridiculous enough, he had now gained the knowledge that the Pokémon he previously had his eyes on used to be a human as well. Why in the world was this happening? Would he turn into a Pokémon, too? Everything was so confusing!
“Now what do we do?” Aurelia questioned all of the sudden. “We aren’t going to get anything accomplished by sitting here. Well, it’s not like there’s anything we can do, anyway. How exactly am I supposed to fit in with the rest of the world? It just won’t work.”
“I dunno,” Colby replied with a shrug, “you’ve got a point there.” What could the two humans turned Pokémon possibly do? If they reentered civilization, they’d undoubtedly stir up a storm of trouble. A never before seen Pokémon and a creature with an uncanny likeness to the being that created the universe were sure to attract unwanted attention. The two of them would evidently be captured, and what went on from there was anyone’s guess. Would they be put on display? Experimented on? Misused? There was no way for them to take one step out of the forest and remain safe and unbound.
“Gee, thanks for the help,” Aurelia muttered. “I sorta wish you could’ve caught me. At least then I’d be able to get out of this forest one way or another. I mean, how do you expect me to sleep out here? What are we going to do about food?”
Colby didn’t respond, as he was too perplexed by Aurelia’s comment about food when she didn’t have a mouth. How did Arceus live without eating, anyway? Maybe it didn’t need to; it was a godly being, after all.
“Eh…” Aurelia murmured, dissatisfied. She was beginning to stand, and she didn’t seem very comfortable with her new posture. “Geez, standing on four legs is really weird.” Colby watched impassively as she strolled around in a circle.
The other creature was watching as well, its red eyes following the Arceus as she moved. It was impossible for Colby to read its emotions; its mouth was upturned in a wide grin as if its face was frozen like that. Its eyes conveyed little sentiment, too—its scarlet gaze was like that of a predator, and it seemed to stare past the faces of those it was focusing on.
The Pokémon’s intimidating appearance slightly unnerved Colby, but at the same time he felt sorry for it. It was still a human on the inside; a human he’d never know anything about. He wished he could know its story—who it was before it met this fate. He didn’t know its name, or even if it was a boy or a girl. At least Aurelia was still able to fluently communicate after being transformed; this creature was restricted to writing short messages in the dirt and nodding or shaking its head.
“So, what’s your name?” Colby decided to ask, turning to the bug-like creature. It looked at him for a moment, and then faced the earth. The Pokémon reached out to begin writing, but before its claw made contact with the ground it let out a low growl and fell forward.
“Huh? Are you okay?” Colby realized right away that this situation seemed oddly familiar; he remembered going through the same thing when Aurelia had started her transformation.
“What?” Aurelia came to a sudden halt. She cringed at the sight of the purple creature, which was sprawled out on its stomach with its face pressed against the dirt. “It’s not dead, is it? Because if it’s dead, then that probably means I’m going to die, too… that’s just perfect.”
“No, it’s definitely not dead. I don’t know what’s going on,” Colby responded fearfully, examining the Pokémon. It was still breathing; in fact, its breaths were faster and more stressful. It began to scrabble at the ground wildly before falling still seconds later.
“Do you have a Potion or something?” Aurelia asked, barely concerned. “I don’t know if that would do anything to help, since Poké Balls didn’t work.”
“Uh… no, I don’t…” Colby became upset with himself for neglecting to purchase a batch of Potions while he was at the Poké Mart. Along with Poké Balls, Potions were very crucial items to trainers. It was difficult to triumph through grueling battles without the usage of a Potion or two. And in the event of a dire situation like this, the medicine might be the answer between life and death.
“Well, it’s too late to go and buy some. I guess we’re gonna have to wait and see what happens.” Aurelia seated herself a few yards away from the other Pokémon.
Afraid, Colby kept his eyes locked on the creature. Its breathing was becoming progressively slower, and he wasn’t sure whether that was a good or bad thing. Colby was sure his mind was playing tricks on him, but the Pokémon’s violet exoskeleton looked like it was becoming thinner. Colby rubbed his eyes, trying to expel the image from his vision. When he regained his focus, the creature was in the same state as he had last seen it.
The color was fading from the Pokémon’s body, and it was quickly replaced by shades of blue and light peach. The sheen its exoskeleton once gave off lessened, indicating that its body was no longer metallic. The blue areas of its body, which covered its upper body and legs, separated themselves from its skin and gained a fabric-like texture, giving them the appearance of clothing.
Its legs lengthened and became rounder, and its joints became less pronounced. Its feet were covered by what could only be described as shoes. Its elbows ceased to protrude past its upper arms. Its claws unfurled into ten digits, with five on each hand. Its cannon melted into its back, blending with its pale blue shirt.
The creature’s abdomen moved up its body, causing its skinny waist to expand. Its shoulders grew flatter, and its neck became broader. Its head contracted and became rounder, and a mane of blond hair erupted from the top. The figure, who was clearly no longer a Pokémon, lay motionless.
“That totally didn’t just happen,” Aurelia sputtered in denial.
“But… how…” Colby found himself lost for words. The creature had regained its human form, as if Colby’s wishes had been answered. Did that mean Aurelia was going to turn back to normal as well?
The girl who had once been the purple Pokémon raised her head nervously and gazed at Aurelia and Colby in fright and embarrassment. Colby thought she looked like she was about to cry. He wanted to say something to the girl, but he couldn’t think of anything reasonable to say. She looked too utterly terrified to answer any questions, and Colby wished he could coax her out of her state of shock.
“I’m not sure which is weirder; the fact that she turned back into a human, or how she’s wearing clothes…” the Arceus cawed.
Be quiet, Colby hissed in his mind, that’s not going to help any. He didn’t understand why Aurelia always had to blurt out comments at every waking opportunity. It was as if she wanted the spotlight to be on her at all times—she ignored how there were usually more pressing matters that should be attended to first. She may have taken on the appearance of a deity, but she was essentially still Aurelia; she was no more important than anyone else.
“Are you… okay?” Colby finally said with little confidence. He had let that phrase slip from his mouth so many times that he was beginning to feel like a broken record.
The girl only stared at him, choking back sobs. Annoyed, Aurelia trotted over to her, bending down so she was at the girl’s level. “Okay, why aren’t you talking? You should take advantage of the fact that you can speak again. Be thankful that you got to turn back to normal.”
The girl raised her hand to her face, as if she was unaware that she had returned to her human shape. She spun it around if front of her, studying each detail in subdued amazement. She then dropped her arms to the ground, letting out a sharp gasp of relief.
Colby wondered why it took her so long to react to things. Even as a Pokémon, she displayed a highly passive and inert nature. The only time she showed enthusiasm was when she was trying to confirm that she was in fact a human.
“Geez, did it really take you that long to notice? I mean, couldn’t you feel yourself morph? I certainly could!” Aurelia sneered.
“… Yes,” the girl answered uncertainly, her voice flat. Colby was relieved to finally hear her speak. Now that she had gotten ahead of that obstacle, perhaps he could find out more about her. He could already tell she was most definitely a nicer person than Aurelia; she seemed to have a calm temperament, and didn’t look like one to throw insults around.
“Good. Now that we’ve got you talking, why don’t you start by telling us your name?” Aurelia inquired.
“Destiny,” the girl mumbled shyly.
“Interesting,” Aurelia scoffed. “If you didn’t already know, I’m Aurelia.”
“My name’s Colby,” Colby announced brightly, trying to impose a friendly image.
Destiny nodded, twirling her hair around her finger. “I’m sorry, this is just… I don’t know.”
“Pretty weird, huh? Well, now that you’re you again, you have nothing to worry about. Just put this all behind you and move on. If you go off on your way right now, you can get on with your life and forget this ever happened. I wish I could do the same…” Aurelia sighed, lowering her head.
“I’m… not so sure about that,” Destiny admitted diffidently.
“What do you mean?” the Arceus questioned.
“What if… what if it happens again? I don’t know why, but I have a feeling this isn’t supposed to be a onetime thing.”
Aurelia paused. “… Don’t be silly. I don’t see how or why you would turn into that thing again. You’re just letting yourself succumb to fear.” Colby noticed an unsettling lack of confidence in Aurelia’s tone. He practically knew nothing about their transformations and what caused them, but Destiny’s hypothesis did sound reasonable. Judging by Aurelia’s reaction, she felt the same about it.
Colby didn’t think changing back and forth from human to Pokémon would be that bad of a thing. In fact, it sounded sort of cool to him. Colby would often dream about being a Pokémon, but at the same time he wanted to fulfill his destiny as a trainer. If he could be like Aurelia and Destiny, he could have the best of both worlds.
He didn’t understand what the two girls had against being able to turn into Pokémon; there were so many things they could do in their new forms! With the powers they now possessed, they could probably become something on the level of superheroes. Surely if they used their abilities for the good of Unova, they wouldn’t attract as much negative attention.
Colby knew that Aurelia and Destiny would never agree to something like that; they were obviously more intent on returning to normal. But if he was in their shoes, he’d take full advantage of his new gift.
“I know,” Destiny replied quietly, “I guess you could consider me paranoid. I just really don’t want to go through that again… especially when I’m around others. I was lucky enough to have it happen to me in a secluded area, and I don’t want to risk having it happen in a more public area. I don’t know about you, but I think I’m going to wait here until I can verify that I won’t change into that thing again.”
“But that could take ages!” Aurelia protested.
“I’d rather be safe than sorry.” Destiny shrugged.
“How do you intend on staying alive in this forest, anyway? There’s nothing to eat, no shelter… I’m having a hard enough time as it is!” argued Aurelia.
“Maybe I could help?” Colby offered.
“What could you possibly do?” the Arceus coughed.
“I could bring you food and stuff,” he answered.
“Yeah, that would help a ton!” Destiny praised gratefully. “I mean, you don’t have to, but that would be incredibly kind of you.”
“No problem, it’s fine!” Colby exclaimed. “Maybe I could also set up a tent so you wouldn’t have to sleep outside.”
“Thanks, Colby! You’re awesome!” Colby enjoyed hearing Destiny’s extolment; it gave him a warm feeling inside, as if he was a hero. He’d evidently gain more of this respect if he could turn into a Pokémon… but that was only a distant fantasy. It felt good to accomplish something on his own without the use of a Pokémon’s powers, though.
“… I suppose I might as well wait it out with you,” Aurelia muttered, giving in. “My whole life’s been robbed from me. I have nowhere else to go, and nothing better to do. I really hope you’re wrong about this, Destiny. And more importantly, I hope I at least turn back to normal like you did.”
“So do I,” Destiny responded, smiling. “Don’t worry; I’m sure I was just letting my paranoia get the better of me. And I’m sure you’ll become a human again; if I did, then you will, too. Everything’s going to be fine; we’ll get through this together.”
The Zekrom groaned sorely, its voice like a dull rumble of thunder. It extended a muscular arm lethargically and weakly clawed at the air. The hybrid peeled back its lips, exposing a set of pearly white teeth.
Dragon could feel a grin creeping up his face. Finally, he thought, overjoyed. Smiling, he turned to face Archeops, who was curiously gazing at the hybrid. “We’ve waited long enough. It looks like it’s time.”
The Zekrom’s charcoal-colored skin gradually faded into a pale shade of peach. Its tendril-like mane was pulled toward the back of its skull, and it split into strands of thick, chestnut hair. Its face flattened and the spike that crested its snout formed into a human nose. The hybrid’s intimidating serrated teeth became dull. Its sclerae whitened and its irises turned a deep chocolate color.
The creature’s broad neck shrank considerably, and the pointy spike on the back of it dissolved into its skin. Its wings folded into its shoulders, which were beginning to narrow. Its arms became skinnier and the webbed protrusions that jutted out over its claws melted away. Its heavy claws grew nimble, and two more sprouted from each newly forming hand. The hybrid’s pointed elbows became less pronounced.
What appeared to be a black sweatshirt and jeans covered its torso and limbs. The hybrid’s body grew scrawnier and less toned. Its legs thinned out and its shins lengthened. White sneakers stretched over its huge feet, which shrank rapidly. Its enormous, turbine-like tail was absorbed into its back.
Dragon held back a snicker. Just moments ago, the hybrid had been in the shape of a menacing black dragon, and now he was reduced to the form of a pale, nerdy looking teenager who couldn’t have been any older than him. It’s incredible what science has done, thought Dragon, turning a pathetic little twig into a fearsome monster and back again. It’s horrible and yet awe-inspiring at the same time.
“Now, Archeops!” Dragon shouted, throwing out his arm and pointing at the Pokémon. “Grab him by the hood of his sweatshirt!” Archeops screeched shrilly and dove at the hybrid, who seemed to be in a daze and wasn’t concerned. The First Bird Pokémon shoved its head into the hybrid and flipped him onto his side before lunging at him and snagging the hood of his black sweatshirt in its jaws. Archeops pulled its head back and tugged the hybrid upright.
“Good job,” Dragon praised cheerily. “You can hold him down for a few minutes, right? I’ve gotta report this to Ghetsis.” The Pokémon nodded in response, still tightly gripping the hood in its mouth. I wonder what that sweatshirt’s made out of, Dragon thought. It’s a miracle it’s so durable.
Dragon brought his left arm, which was where he kept his bright green C-Gear, to his face and opened the Xtransceiver function. He quickly punched in a number, and seconds later an image of Ghetsis flickered onto the screen.
“Has the hybrid returned to normal, Drake?” Ghetsis inquired anxiously, as if he had been waiting for the grunt to call him.
“Yep, that’s why I contacted you,” Dragon answered. “It’s pretty out of it; must’ve scrambled its brains when I was trying to ground it. It’s not struggling or trying to put up a fight or anything, so that’s good news. Should I bring it to headquarters?”
“Actually,” Ghetsis began, “I’m at a meeting in a building northwest of Nuvema. I’d prefer if you brought it directly to me—I don’t want the lousy grunts back at headquarters doing anything stupid with it.”
“Nuvema?” Dragon repeated tentatively. “That’s pretty far away… you don’t think the hybrid will turn into a Pokémon again on the way there, do you?”
“It won’t,” Ghetsis insisted bluntly.
“Oh, okay,” the grunt replied, an uncertain tone to his voice. Why is he so sure of himself?
Ghetsis continued, “If you’re worried about it, I’d get moving. The building is sort of isolated; it’s surrounded by forest on one side, and water on the other. You’ll know it when you see it—it has a rather loud green roof.”
“Got it,” said Dragon, “I’ll be there shortly.” He bowed his head to the official before switching off the Xtransceiver. The grunt then announced to his Pokémon, “We’re going on a bit of a trip. I need you to fly the hybrid and me to a green-roofed building northwest of Nuvema Town. Our hybrid here doesn’t look very heavy, so I doubt he’ll make this difficult for you. And he’s being so well-behaved and calm, too! Maybe Ghetsis will decide to spare him if he keeps being good.” The grunt walked over to the Zekrom hybrid and lightly kicked him in the shin tauntingly. The hybrid glared at him hatefully, but remained still.
“You ready, Archeops?” Dragon asked. “Ghetsis said we should try to hurry.” Archeops murmured something unintelligible and lowered its back obediently. The Plasma grunt mounted the Pokémon, who then began to ascend toward the clouds. Archeops seemed to struggle at first; it wasn’t used to the extra weight pulling down on its head. The hardy creature quickly overcame the issue, though, and was soon soaring in the direction of Nuvema Town.
“Where are you taking me?” the hybrid grumbled all of the sudden.
“Excuse me?” Dragon said, peering over Archeops’s shoulder. He only decides to start talking now?
“I said, where are you taking me?” he growled, his tone more intense. “And for that matter, what am I? You seem to know a lot about this. Who was that man you were talking to?”
Dragon furrowed his brows. “Shut your trap, hybrid. You’re nothing but a piece of prey to me. You don’t need any of that information; you just need to be quiet and stay still.”
“Hybrid,” the brown-haired boy repeated, “you keep using that word when you talk about me. Would it hurt to at least call me by my real name, Ben? And what do you mean when you say ‘hybrid’?”
“Shut up,” Dragon commanded, “I have no reason to call you by your name, filthy animal.”
Ben sighed. “I don’t understand why you’re treating me like this. As far as I know, I didn’t do anything wrong. If all of this has anything to do with how I turned into Zekrom, it’s not my fault. I woke up like this.”
Dragon didn’t respond. He was almost beginning to feel bad for the hybrid; it was true that none of this was his fault. He was a normal teenager with his whole life ahead of him. He didn’t choose to become a hybrid—he was turned into one against his will. It seemed unfair that this innocent youth would most likely have to be put to death for something completely beyond his control. Dragon had to remind himself that he was probably doing Ben a favor. There was no way a Pokémon hybrid could possibly fit in with society, so his chance of becoming a successful young man was already ruined. He shouldn’t have to go through all the pain and agony of living with his altered body, either. And so many other people would be spared if his existence was eliminated—as a Zekrom, Ben didn’t seem very destructive, but Ghetsis said that hybrids could be unpredictable.
“So you’re giving me the silent treatment, eh?” Dragon felt as if Ben was trying to stir up a fight—like he wanted to see how long it would take for him to finally lose it. It was no wonder that the hybrid was so edgy—there were a lot of things that Dragon was hiding from him. The grunt didn’t actually have a reason for not explaining anything to him, but he decided that he’d be better off without knowing.
The sky was painted with warm shades of orange when the lights of Nuvema Town finally came into view. The hybrid had given up on trying to get information out of Dragon and kept to himself for the rest of the flight. Archeops was starting to look a bit drowsy, and was beating its wings at a progressively slower pace. “Hang in there, Archeops; just a little more to go!” Dragon called. The creature made a soft gurgling noise in reply.
Now, where is that building…? Dragon surveyed the land below impatiently. It’s kind of weird that they chose to have their meeting in such a remote location. It seems suspicious; it’s like they’re at some kind of top secret hideout. Just what is this meeting about, and why do they need to hide from everyone? If it’s still going on, then dang, that’s one heck of a meeting. I could never sit around and listen to people talk for that long. Honestly, none of this should surprise me. Ghetsis is quite the eccentric man… I wouldn’t put it past him to pull off something like this.
Dragon finally caught sight of the green-roofed building a second too late; Archeops had already sailed over it. “Hey, what do you think you’re doing?” the Plasma grunt hollered, nearly hysterical.
His Pokémon quizzically glanced at him out of the corner of its eye. “Mrwwwm?”
“Weren’t you paying attention?” Dragon cried. “You flew straight past it!” As soon as the young man had finished speaking, a realization popped into his head—Archeops were colorblind. Feeling bad immediately, he swiftly apologized to his Pokémon. “Sorry… I guess I let my anger get the better of me. How about you land right here instead?”
Archeops grunted and bobbed its head timidly. It dove forward, its wings spread out wide. It slowed to a halt several feet above the ground and let Dragon slide off its back.
“Great job,” the grunt praised, removing Archeops’s Poké Ball from his belt. “Return for now, my friend. You deserve your rest!” He held the Ball out on the creature’s level, and it was instantly pulled into it. Ben, who no longer had Archeops’s support, fell to the ground pathetically.
“On your feet,” Dragon ordered, bending over and grabbing a hold of the hybrid’s arm. He yanked the boy, who didn’t bother to struggle, upright. “Don’t even think about trying anything,” Dragon warned him, a slight hint of hesitation in his voice. “I have permission to kill you if trouble arises.”
“How lovely,” Ben mused nonchalantly. “No worries, I’ll be good. I’m looking forward to seeing what you have in store for me.”
Dragon rolled his eyes, slightly annoyed by the hybrid’s indifferent attitude. Well, I guess I’m glad he’s not upset that I’m dragging him off to his doom. I don’t know if I’d be able to deal with that. The grunt began to walk off in the direction of the lurid green-roofed building, pulling the hybrid along with him.
“So, what’s your name?” Ben asked curiously. “Can you at least tell me that much?”
The grunt frowned. “My name is Drake, but you can call me Dragon.”
“Dragon, eh?” The hybrid chuckled. “What a weird nickname. You’d think it would suit me better, no?”
“Shut up,” Dragon scoffed, offended. The grunt had assigned the nickname to himself because he felt that dragons represented power, and he wanted others to see him as a strong person. Unfortunately, he didn’t exactly get the reactions he had expected—like Ben, most people ridiculed his unusual nickname, often calling it “lame” or “cheesy”. I wonder what they’ll think of me and my name once they find out I captured the first hybrid?
Ben apparently decided it’d be wise to keep his mouth shut for the rest of the walk, much to Dragon’s relief. It didn’t take very long for the two of them to arrive at the building. Aside from its annoyingly green roof, the structure gave off an official aura. Its walls were concrete, and a glass door stood at its entrance. A small steel plaque near the door read P2 LABORATORY.
P2 Laboratory? What’s that supposed to mean? Dragon stared at the plaque in puzzlement. I don’t get it. Why would the Team Plasma officials choose to meet in a place like this? I wouldn’t have thought that they’d want to associate themselves with some kind of laboratory… what could they be doing?
“What’s the matter?” the hybrid questioned, trying to get a look at the sign.
“Nothing,” Dragon answered, “let’s go inside.” He shoved open the door, half-surprised that it wasn’t locked.
The foyer had an empty, desolate feel to it; it was hard for Dragon to believe that the Plasma officials were holding a meeting somewhere within the bowels of the building. The air was unusually chilly, as if someone had left the air conditioning on for no reason in particular.
“Interesting place you’ve got here,” Ben commented snidely, studying the lobby’s plain white walls.
“I’ve never been here before. I don’t even know what this place is.” Dragon trudged into a wide hallway at the end of the foyer. Several doors lined the walls, and the grunt wasn’t sure which one led to the room the officials were conferencing in. The hall was silent; Dragon couldn’t hear any voices from within the rooms. Surely I won’t get in trouble if I make a simple mistake? It’s not like they told me where to go or anything.
He hesitantly reached for the handle of the first door he came across. The grunt gingerly poked his head inside and found that the room was dim, with the only light source coming from a row of computers. That’s odd. Well, this is a laboratory after all… they’re probably conducting research on something that doesn’t involve me. Though, I’m still not sure why Plasma would need to do anything like that… it’s a Pokémon rights activist group, isn’t it?
Dragon knew he should’ve turned away and tried another door, but something about this room intrigued him. He wasn’t usually one who took interest in the affairs of others, but he felt as if this concerned him directly. He wandered into the room, pulling the hybrid along with him.
The computers are on, but no one’s here… Dragon bent over in front of one, scanning the words on the screen. Most of what was written was an incomprehensible mess—strange terms that the grunt had never heard on, and what he assumed were codes such as D132A and GMP156. Dragon couldn’t even make out the general idea of what these reports were on. He stood up, his mind buzzing.
Ben raised an eyebrow, suspiciously shifting his gaze around the room. “My guess would be that you don’t know what you’re doing.”
“Of course I don’t, you idiot,” Dragon hissed. “Like I said, I’ve never been here before. I’m just as lost as you are. We’d have the same luck if you were leading the way.”
“If only,” the hybrid sniggered. “I think I’d just mosey on out of here and get back to what I was doing before you decided to kidnap me.”
“Nice try, but it won’t be that easy.” I’m surprised he hasn’t tried anything like that yet. He may be frail, but if he was really desperate there might be a chance that he could get away. Why is he so eager to comply with my orders? Is he afraid of what I’ll do if he disobeys me? Archeops did mess him up pretty bad when he was in his Zekrom form… he probably doesn’t want to find out what will happen to him when he’s a weak little human.
Dragon suddenly took notice of a sturdy steel door in the back of the room. It was covered in a series of complicated locks, but for some reason they were all unhinged. Ooh… if there’s anywhere Ghetsis doesn’t want me snooping around, that would be it. But how come it isn’t locked? Why would they go through all the trouble of setting up all those locks if they weren’t going to use them? Maybe it’s because someone’s in there… that can’t be where the officials are meeting, can it? He took a deep breath. It’s worth a shot. What’s the worst that can happen? If it’s not the right room, I’ll leave before anyone can notice. Well, unless someone other than the officials is in there… But we’re all on the same side, right? I assume this is a Plasma facility… surely they’d be willing to help me find the right room. After all, I think I hold at least a smidge of authority around here… I captured the first hybrid!
With a smug grin on his face, the grunt confidently marched over to the door and threw it open indiscreetly.
Destiny’s cheerful visage obscured her true feelings toward working with Aurelia. If she had her choice, she’d avoid the Arceus-girl at all costs. But she decided that teaming up with her was the wisest option—she was stuck in the same situation as her, so perhaps they’d be able to learn from each other. As much as it pained her to admit it, Destiny also longed for company—she didn’t want to be left in the woods by herself. Nevertheless, she knew she’d end up as the prime target of the hotheaded and somewhat narcissistic Arceus’s insults.
Colby’s company reassured her a bit. Thankfully, he seemed like a kind and thoughtful kid, and now it seemed as if he was completely necessary to her survival. Destiny was very grateful for his offer to provide her and Aurelia with food and shelter. Previously, she had been too frazzled to realize just how important those basic necessities were. In her situation, she couldn’t exactly go grocery shopping or sleep in her comfortable bed at home. This was the wild, and living off of the environment wasn’t exactly something Destiny was accustomed to.
“Should I go get the food and stuff now?” Colby asked, looking from Destiny to Aurelia.
“The sooner, the better,” Aurelia grumbled, “I’m starving.”
“Okay!” the young trainer exclaimed enthusiastically. He picked up his maroon bag and slung it over his shoulder. “Don’t go anywhere, all right?”
“Got it,” Aurelia replied. Colby nodded his head approvingly, and then ran off into the jumble of trees.
The Arceus sighed telepathically and then flopped onto her belly. She squinted her emerald green and red eyes, focusing her gaze on Destiny. “So, what’s your story?” she inquired.
“Huh?” Destiny hadn’t been paying attention. “Oh, uh… nothing interesting. I live in Mistralton with my parents. I’m not a trainer; I go to school, but I’m not sure what I’m going to do.”
Aurelia stifled a laugh. “How I wish my life was that simple!”
The blond girl frowned. “Why? What happened?” She had heard Aurelia mention a few tiny tidbits about her life when she was still stuck as the purple creature, but she hadn’t really been listening. I’m surprised she’s so eager to talk about it. If it’s as tragic as she makes it seem, I wouldn’t want to tell anyone about it.
“Nothing much… my dad ditched me and the rest of my family, my little brother died, and my mom vanished.” The Arceus spoke with strong contempt. Destiny imagined that she’d be grimacing if she had a mouth. “I’ve been abandoned by my entire family. And now the only thing I’ve had to live for, Pokémon training, has been stolen from me as well. I’m starting to wonder why I still cling to this pathetic existence. Burning in Hell would be just as enjoyable.”
Destiny couldn’t bring herself to feel sympathy for the ill-fated Arceus. The way she forcefully uttered her words made it seem as if she sought pity—more fuel for her unflatteringly large ego. Destiny didn’t think Aurelia’s unfortunate past gave her the right to treat others badly and demand attention at all times. She tossed it around as if it was a mere excuse—Destiny was tempted to believe that she actually made it up for that reason. But then again, she didn’t really know what she’d been dealing with. Up until now, Destiny’s life had always been perfectly normal. Maybe all these traumatic events really did do something to Aurelia’s brain.
“Get over it,” Destiny muttered under her breath, not even realizing what she was saying.
Aurelia glared at her coldly. “What was that?”
Destiny was startled by Aurelia’s tone of voice. She had almost forgotten who she was dealing with—Aurelia was Arceus, a fabled Legendary Pokémon often thought of as the creator of the universe. If Arceus really lived up to its legends, it inevitably possessed insurmountable powers that would straight-out obliterate a human like her. Offending Aurelia to that extent would most likely be a fatal mistake.
“I didn’t say anything,” Destiny lied, trying her best not to sound frantic.
“Is that so?” Aurelia’s icy gaze was still glued to the girl’s face. “I know I heard you say something, and I didn’t like what I heard. And you’re trying to tell me that you didn’t say anything at all?”
“So, uh… your mom vanished? What do you mean?” Destiny desperately tried to move on, intimidated by the Alpha Pokémon’s coldness.
Aurelia’s tone was a lot less friendly than before. “That’s exactly what I mean. She disappeared. I came home one day, and she was gone. And it wasn’t like she was out shopping or anything; I could tell the house hadn’t been tended to in weeks, months even. I tried to contact her on my Xtransceiver, but she wouldn’t answer. The last time I heard from her, she told me about how she found a new boyfriend. I never got a chance to meet the guy. I’m starting to think he’s the reason she vanished.”
“So you think she ran off with him?” Destiny questioned.
“Of course not, unless she also decided to throw out her C-Gear while she was at it. My mother would never do anything like that. My bet is that she was murdered, or perhaps worse. I don’t even care anymore. I mean, what difference does it make? It’s not like I’m ever going to see her again.”
“Oh,” Destiny said meekly, her head down. She tried to at least appear sympathetic; perhaps then Aurelia would forgive her for her rude comment. “There’s still a chance that she’s okay, right?”
“Nope,” Aurelia replied bluntly. “She’s as gone as my father and as dead as my brother. Why should I even bother trying to comfort myself with faith and wishful thinking? The only thing I’ll accept is the cold, hard truth.”
“But you can’t confirm that she’s really dead, can you?” Destiny wasn’t sure of what to think of Aurelia’s reasoning.
“If I convince myself to think that she’s fine, I’ll just be more disappointed in the end when I find out she’s dead. It’s not worth it.” The Arceus stared at the sky absently. “It also isn’t worth it to think that being Arceus is a temporary thing, or that I’ll return to my normal life. I’m destined to spend the rest of my life living in this godforsaken forest, and so are you. We just need to accept it and move on.”
Destiny furrowed her brows. Just minutes ago, Aurelia was convinced that turning into a Pokémon was a onetime thing. It had been Destiny that brought up the theory that they’d continue to switch back and forth between human and Pokémon forms. What made Aurelia change her mind so suddenly? Easy; she wants pity.
“Why are you so pessimistic? You’re already taking my theory to heart? For now, neither of us can confirm nor deny that we’ll continue to transform. That was just a wild guess; I’m almost completely positive I’m wrong.”
“You still haven’t gotten it, have you? Looking on the bright side of things is a waste of time. The world is a cruel place; it’s more logical to accept that something bad is going to happen. That’s why my father left us. That’s why my brother’s dead, and my mother’s gone. That’s why you turned into that bug-thing, and I turned into Arceus. Fate is out to punish all of us.”
“But good things happen too, right? Colby’s getting us food and shelter right now. That’s good, isn’t it? It sure beats sleeping outside in the rain, or foraging for food in the forest that may or may not be edible.”
“Fate likes to comfort us with little things like that. Then it proceeds to laugh as everything else blows up in our faces. Besides, we wouldn’t need to rely on that kid for food and shelter if fate hadn’t turned us into these monsters.”
Destiny sighed. Trying to make Aurelia see things positively was futile. I guess it’s safe to say that her past experiences really did mess her up. That or she’s sickeningly hungry for pity. Either way, it’s sad. The girl almost wanted to convince herself to believe that their transformations wouldn’t continue, just to prove Aurelia wrong and show her that there were some wholly good things in life. In a situation like this, optimism was crucial. Why even bother fighting if life was cruel and meaningless? Destiny convinced herself that this misfortune was just one little roadblock on her highway of life. I won’t give up, Destiny told herself. I’ll stay strong, no matter the circumstances. I don’t care what Aurelia says; I’ll overcome these difficulties and move forward.
The first thing that caught Dragon’s attention was the creature on the table.
Its structure was vaguely reminiscent of a human’s, but it also carried several insect-like traits. It was about the size of a middle school student. Its body was a flashy purple color, and it looked to be made entirely of metal. Dragon wasn’t completely sure if he was looking at a machine or a monster—it didn’t appear to be breathing, and it was lifelessly still.
The creature’s large, egg-shaped eyes were menacingly red and its tiny pupils were unfocused. Oval-shaped pits that slightly resembled eyebrows hung over the creature’s eyes. Its mouth was stretched in an intimidating toothy grin that looked out of place on its face. Atop its head was a rounded bulge.
Its compact thorax was sandwiched between disk-like shoulders. Two slender, teardrop-shaped arms extended from its upper body, each ending with a single hooked claw. The upper section of the creature’s abdomen was narrow and curved outward until it tapered to a point. Its thighs were triangular and plate-like. Though its limbs were humanlike in form, the creature appeared to lack definite knees. Its shins were roughly the same shape as its thighs, and its feet were relatively flat and triangular shaped.
Attached to the purple creature’s back was an odd, bulky device. A nozzle-shaped protrusion jutted out over its head; at its tip was a round opening that resembled the mouth of a cannon. It sat atop a curved base that was connected to the creature’s thorax by a single angled extension. A thick, yellow piece of plastic was inserted in a slot at the back of the cannon.
The creature lay on its back, its upper body raised due to the placement of the cannon-like appendage. Dragon thought the position looked unnatural, but the creature showed no signs of discomfort. Its arms and legs were chained to the table with steel cuffs.
“What in the world is that?” Ben gasped in bemusement, pulling away from the grunt to get a closer look. “That’s not a Pokémon, is it? I’ve never seen anything like that! It looks more like some kind of robot.”
Dragon stared breathlessly, letting the hybrid’s arm slip from his grasp. “It can’t be a Pokémon,” he whispered, struggling for words. There was something highly disturbing about the circumstances that surrounded the creature—it was artificial in appearance, and it was located within a laboratory. It all added up; this creature had been created through science.
Ben stood by the side of the table, studying it fixedly. “Damn, whose idea was it to have it lying on its back? The thing’s neck isn’t being supported! That could cause some devastating permanent damage. This whole setup seems very inhumane; the critter’s strapped to a table for crying out loud! Do they even feed this thing?”
“I appreciate your concern, but none of that is necessary.”
Dragon hadn’t even noticed the man in the corner of the room. He was sitting in an office chair, casually sipping at a cup of coffee as if he thought watching random teenagers stroll into his room was perfectly normal.
Ben gave him a dirty look. “Oh, is that so?”
“Indeed,” the man said. “What you’re looking at is a groundbreaking innovation in the world of Pokémon. GMP156 is an artificial creature. While she’s not the first of her kind, she’s a bit different from most existing manmade Pokémon. GMP156 cannot get injured or feel pain. She doesn’t need to eat or sleep. She doesn’t have a mind, but she is programmed to function like a normal Pokémon. Team Plasma hopes to revolutionize Pokémon training by building creatures such as GMP156.”
Is this… what Team Plasma has been planning all along? They’re going to replace living Pokémon with inorganic ones? It’s not necessarily a bad idea, but how are they going to mass produce these things? It must’ve cost a fortune to build GMP156… something doesn’t really seem right… Dragon’s gaze was locked on the strange, unmoving creature.
“Well, sir, you’ve really outdone yourself,” Ben chimed, his head pressed against GMP156’s chest. “I wouldn’t have thought it’d be necessary to give an artificial Pokémon a heartbeat. It’s faint, but I hear it. The thing’s unconscious, it seems.” He sighed, taking a step back. “You could’ve at least tried to come up with a more reasonable excuse. GMP156 here is certainly a living organism. What exactly are you trying to hide?”
Dragon looked from Ben to GMP156 in disbelief. What’s going on? None of this makes sense… if it’s not a manmade Pokémon, what is it? I’m pretty sure there aren’t any real Pokémon that look like that. And why doesn’t this guy care that we just walked in on him? Does he even know what I’m here for? I really don’t want to waste any time; there’s a chance that the hybrid could turn back into a Zekrom here and now. Part of him wanted to ask the man where Ghetsis was so he could just get it over with, but he also wanted to find out what GMP156 really was.
“You’re a bright kid, aren’t you?” The man took another sip of his coffee, apparently unfazed. “It was a rather foolish explanation, I must admit. But that was what I was instructed to say if anyone accidentally caught a glimpse of this creature. I could come up with something much better.”
“Oh, is this some kind of secret?” Ben questioned grumpily. “Are you with this Dragon kid? He’s also hiding something from me. I don’t get why you guys feel the urge to be so undercover and secretive all the time, especially when you don’t know how to lie properly.”
“He’s a hybrid,” Dragon butted in all of the sudden. “In fact, that’s why we’re here in the first place. My name is Drake, and I was ordered to bring him here by Ghetsis.”
The man frowned. “That’s what I suspected. He’s meeting in a room down the hall. I can ask him to come here, if you’d like.”
I knew it, Dragon thought bitterly. “Okay, that would be great.” The man nodded subtly and dialed something into his C-Gear.
“Hold on a second,” Ben growled. “What’s the deal with GMP156 or whatever you called it? You just changed the subject all of the sudden. I’m actually sort of curious as to what it is. Now that your secret’s out, you might as well tell us the whole story.”
“Hello, Ghetsis? This is Dudley. There’s a grunt by the name of Drake looking for you.” The man spoke into his C-Gear, seemingly ignoring the inquisitive hybrid.
“Ugh, forget it,” Ben muttered, scowling. “This is ridiculous. People don’t even treat me like a human being anymore. I get it; I turned into a Pokémon. But I’m not a Pokémon now, am I?”
Dragon glanced at the hybrid in pity. He was right; everyone acted as if he was some kind of animal. He thought that Dudley was ignoring him for a different reason, however. Dragon felt a bit betrayed; he and Dudley both worked for Team Plasma, so why was he lying in front of him? He mentioned that he had been instructed to tell that fabricated story, but who had given him the orders?
Ghetsis walked into the room several moments later. “Ah, Drake.” There was a mixture of emotions on his face. “Well, it’s at least good to know that we’ve got our first hybrid.”
Dudley inched back in his chair nervously, as if he wasn’t looking forward to whatever was coming next.
Dragon stared at the official blankly. “What are you going to do with him?”
“Well, there aren’t a lot of things you can do with a young man who can turn into a Legendary Pokémon. It’s far too risky to keep him alive, so our best option is to give him a humane death. Afterwards, we could present his body to our team of researchers—I’m sure they would like to find out how such a fantastical creature functions.” Ghetsis lifted Ben’s arm and examined it studiously. The hybrid, who looked both horrified and unnerved, attempted to reel away from the strange man. “So this is a real hybrid specimen. I must admit, it’s quite incredible that these creatures can exist as humans one minute and Legendary Pokémon the next. What Pokémon is this young man fused with?”
“Zekrom,” Dragon confirmed, “one of the mythical beings that once made up the Great Dragon.”
“You don’t say.” Ghetsis let go of Ben’s arm. “It’s fascinating, and yet disgusting at the same time. Imbuing a mere child with the powers of a long dead god, and expecting him to take down our organization… it’s a wonder how someone could think of such a thing.”
“Yeah,” the grunt agreed softly. He set his gaze on the hybrid, icy guilt encasing his heart. His chestnut eyes were wide and fearful, and he was shivering slightly. Ben had presented himself as a bold and stubborn individual; he managed to keep a high spirit even when he was dangling by his hood in Archeops’s jaws. To see him reduced to such a state of cowardice was almost frightening. What made everything worse was that all of this was Dragon’s fault.
What have I gotten myself into? Dragon begged himself silently. I joined Team Plasma because I wanted to help people and Pokémon. What does killing an innocent kid have to do with any of this?
Ghetsis glanced at GMP156’s still body. “Well, I hadn’t been intending to let anyone see GMP156 just yet, but I suppose it’s too late. Consider it your reward for capturing the first hybrid. She’s astounding, isn’t she? A fully inorganic creature that acts just like a normal Pokémon…”
“You bastard,” Ben snarled. “That story isn’t going to work anymore, idiot. GMP156 is alive and you know it. Even that coward with the coffee cup admitted that the whole spiel about it being an artificial Pokémon is a lie.”
Dragon flinched at the hybrid’s sudden outburst. What is he doing? Why is he still getting worked up over GMP156? He’s going to be killed, for Arceus’s sake! You’d think things like that wouldn’t matter when you’re lying on your deathbed… It’s amazing how much he cares about that thing, whatever it is.
Ghetsis feigned a puzzled look. “What in the world are you saying? Quit playing games, hybrid. GMP156 is—”
Dudley took a deep breath. “Sir, stop. He figured it out; we’re the ones who need to stop playing games.”
“You can’t be serious. How could he have figured out that—” Ghetsis was cut off again.
“It’s true; GMP156 is a living organism. She was revived from the fossil of an insect that lived during the Paleozoic Era. This particular creature was an exceptionally skillful and fierce predator. After she was revived, she was given a number of enhancements. These include her metallic exoskeleton and the Photon Blaster on her back.” After he had finished speaking, Dudley took another swig of his coffee.
Ghetsis stared at the man in disbelief, not even bothering to utter a word.
Ben gave GMP156 a long stare. “Thank you for telling the truth,” he choked, the energy fading from his tone. He staggered backwards as if he had been hit with the realization that he was going to die all over again.
“That doesn’t make sense,” Dragon thought out loud, his voice coming out in a shrill whimper. “Why would Team Plasma get involved in something like that? I thought we were supposed to be against those kinds of things. Altering or enhancing a Pokémon… that’s wrong; that’s what Lord N said.”
At that moment, a fifth figure entered the room. He strolled in cheerily, his footsteps light and almost dancelike. “I have great news!” he exclaimed obliviously. “My research trip was a complete success! I think I’ve finally found the missing component of this formula!”
Colby leisurely ambled through the forest, a carefree smile on his face. Most of the initial shock he was met with when he first learned of Destiny and Aurelia’s powers had faded away, and his mind was now set on the great responsibility he had to fulfill. Their lives depend on me! He wasn’t really bothered by how he still hadn’t been given the chance to truly start his journey as a Pokémon trainer—helping the two girls was much more important.
He couldn’t help but wonder why and how they could turn into Pokémon. Neither Aurelia nor Destiny could provide an explanation for their transformations. They seemed just as clueless as he was. Colby found it odd that he had just happened to run into two people possessing the same ability. It probably all tied in somehow…
“I’ve scanned the perimeter of the forest, and nothing seems abnormal. Are you sure he said he found the hybrid around Mistralton? Well, I’m heading in. Wish me luck.”
Colby froze, his sight diverted to a figure in the distance. Who is that? Maybe it’s a trainer looking to battle, he thought hopefully. I’m sure Aurelia and Destiny wouldn’t mind if I took a few extra minutes. He withdrew Sandile’s Poké Ball from his bag and began to walk forward assertively.
The figure, an absurdly dressed blond teenager who looked as if she had sprung from a fantasy novel, quickly caught sight of Colby. “Wait a second, I see someone. I think he’s just a trainer passing through, but maybe I can get some information out of him.” Colby noticed that she was speaking into a C-Gear.
There’s something weird about this girl. I don’t know what she’s talking about, but it doesn’t seem normal… The young trainer came to a hesitant stop a few yards away from the uniformed girl. He sheepishly raised his voice. “Hello? Are you looking for somebody?”
The girl lowered her C-Gear, a grin cutting across her face. “Yes, as a matter of fact I am. And that someone might just be you!”
Colby’s jaw dropped. “What are you talking about?” he cried frantically.
Ignoring the trainer’s hysterical response, she gleefully pulled out a Poké Ball and readied it in front of her. “Rise and shine, my beauty!” A ray of yellow light shot out of the object and materialized into the shape of a large, furry insect. The creature was primarily yellow with splotches of purple and indigo, and it had six crystal blue eyes.
Colby was taken aback. I guess she was just looking for a battle after all! He held out his Poké Ball, his tension beginning to loosen. Before he had the chance to send out his Sandile, the girl fired a command at her Pokémon.
“All right, Galvantula! Fence him in with Electroweb, please!” The Pokémon silently crawled closer to the boy before releasing a thick strand of electrically charged thread from its mouth. The sticky substance wrapped around the trees adjacent to him, trapping him inside a makeshift electric fence.
“What the heck was that for?” Colby exclaimed, furious and confused. “Let me out!”
The girl sat on the ground, smirking. “Sorry, can’t do that. Don’t bother trying to escape; if you touch that web, you’ll be fried.” Galvantula strutted over to its trainer and rested its head in her lap. “Now, I have some questions for you. If you cooperate, I’ll let you go. Are you ready?”
“Questions? What kind of questions?” Colby’s voice was full of unease. She’s interrogating me? What in the world is going on?
“Oh, nothing much.” The girl rolled Galvantula’s Poké Ball around in her hands. “Well, I think it’s safe to assume you aren’t a hybrid; I heard they had their Pokémon taken away from them. A few days ago, we were the ones taking away people’s Pokémon…” her voice trailed off. “So, I want to ask if you’ve seen anything suspicious lately. I’m surveying this area because there have been reports of abnormal activity.”
Colby blinked. “What do you mean by suspicious?”
The girl began petting Galvantula’s head. “It’s a long story, but I’ll try to make it quick. Basically, this nutcase decided to take it upon himself to create an army of teens with the ability to transform into Legendary Pokémon because he wanted to take down our organization, Team Plasma. He kidnapped random kids off the streets and turned them into Pokémon hybrids. The man behind all of this was captured, but his creations are roaming free. We Plasma grunts have been assigned to hunt down these creatures, since they’re an obvious threat to society. One of them, a Zekrom, was found flying over this forest. You haven’t seen anything like that, have you?”
“N-no,” Colby stammered, anxiety rippling down his spine. He had no idea what the grunt planned to do with the hybrids she was after, so he knew right away that it wouldn’t be a good idea to mention his new friends. This isn’t good… what am I supposed to do?
“You sure about that?” Galvantula’s trainer leaned closer to the web of electricity, a taunting grin on her face.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Colby lied, forcing himself to sound sincere. “Today’s my first day of being a trainer, and I came here to look for wild Pokémon.” He suddenly realized that he could potentially take advantage of the situation he was in; this girl seemed to know a lot about whatever had become of Aurelia and Destiny. They’d probably like to find out the exact details of what happened to them. Since there’s not much else I can do at the moment, I might as well try to get more information out of her. “That’s insane! How did that guy even make those things?”
“All I know is that he injected them with some kind of formula,” the Plasma grunt replied. “I didn’t think things like that were possible. I guess I was wrong.”
“A formula?” Colby repeated, interested. Despite how he was now aware that some organization was apparently hunting down hybrids, his naïve mindset still hungered for the power to morph into a Pokémon. Judging by what the grunt had said, Destiny’s theory was correct; hybrids were able to transform back and forth between human and Pokémon. That was bad news for her and Aurelia, but it made being a hybrid even more appealing to Colby. I wish there was a way for me to get a hold of that formula… if only that dude chose to use me for his project!
“That’s what I said,” the girl muttered. “Anyway, I guess there’s not much else I can do with you. I’ll let you out, but I advise that you leave this forest immediately. You may not have encountered anything strange yet, but you’re probably just lucky. These hybrids are fused with Legendary Pokémon and can be unpredictable; a rookie trainer like you is no match for them. You might want to try looking for Pokémon elsewhere if you want to avoid being torn to shreds.”
She eyed her Galvantula, who was beginning to doze off. “Cut down the web with Slash and let the kiddo out.” The EleSpider Pokémon lazily strolled up to the nearest side of the fence and sliced at it with its forelegs. The two halves of the sparking web parted, creating a safe path for the boy.
“Okay, I’ll be on my way,” Colby announced nervously as he began to walk away from the grunt and her Galvantula.
The girl gave a friendly smile. “Best of luck with your Pokémon journey,” she called, “because when this mess is over, we’ll be coming after trainers like you!” Colby watched in horror as she stood up and headed off in the direction he had come from. Oh, no… she’s going to walk right into Destiny and Aurelia! The boy’s heart began to pound. I can’t let her see them… but what am I supposed to do? I can’t go after her; she warned me to leave, so if I went back that way, she’d probably suspect something! This is bad… He wracked his brain, desperate to come up with some sort of plan.
The grunt and her Galvantula had already become mere specks in the distance. Colby had never felt so helpless before; Aurelia and Destiny’s lives depended on him, and he had let them down.
PART Two – Modified
When the brothers who founded the Unova region fought, the Great Dragon that governed the land split into two equal but opposite halves—Reshiram and Zekrom. That’s what everyone believed.
They were wrong.
It was an interesting story. It seemed to reflect the notion of spiritual balance; that black and white make up two parts of a whole; that we are guided by both black and white incentives. In truth, there’s more than just black and white. Between the fields of black and white are shades of gray.
The quaint Lacunosa Town was well known for an old folktale that spoke of a monstrous dragon by the name of Kyurem. This dragon was said to have first appeared when a meteor collided with the land northeast of the town, and it dwelled within a massive cavern known as the Giant Chasm. When night struck Lacunosa, Kyurem would emerge from its den, bringing blistering winter winds along with it. It would cast down upon the streets and whisk away villagers who were unfortunate enough to find themselves outside in the dark. Kyurem would then ravenously devour its prey, leaving no scraps behind. For years, the residents of Lacunosa Town lived in fear. They constructed a huge wall around the town and took refuge in their homes once the sun began to set. Kyurem’s attacks became less common, and the hysteria eventually died away.
The legend is now thought of as a scary story to keep troublemaking teenagers off the streets at night. The residents of Lacunosa still follow their old practice of staying inside when it’s dark out despite how they no longer fear Kyurem. The old myth had integrated itself into the town’s customs—and as it turned out, the story may have been more than just a rumor. Like many legends, the tale about Kyurem held some truth.
There was undeniable proof that Kyurem was in fact a real Pokémon. While the stories about the dragon descending upon Lacunosa were thought to be largely fictionalized, there were documentations of explorers vanishing into the Giant Chasm, never to return. There were also multiple accounts of the creature itself—it was always described as a long necked silvery dragon with piercing yellow eyes and ice encrusting its body. Its movements were stiff and awkward, as if its joints had been frozen over. Its jaws were easily capable of crushing an adult. It had stubby arms and small wings that were unfit for flight. Parts of its body looked broken and tattered. It was said to resemble a zombie or an icy skeleton, and was often compared to a cold, empty shell.
Perhaps that’s exactly what it was.
There’s a reason why Reshiram and Zekrom were unable to recombine into the Great Dragon; it’s because there’s a piece missing, and that piece is Kyurem. Reshiram and Zekrom can be seen as two bodies of powerful energy. Kyurem is the vessel for this energy. Of course, that’s just a theory. Kyurem is depicted as a man-eating monster—not something that readily comes to mind when the Great Dragon is mentioned. I want to prove this theory, though. I’ll do whatever it takes to follow my dream!
The young man smiled to himself and stepped out of the small plane. His name was Natural Harmonia Gropius (often shortened to N) and he had been destined to lead Team Plasma as its king from birth. He was a very dedicated leader who had big plans for his organization and the world. His most ambitious goal was to completely separate humans from Pokémon—and to do this, he intended to create different worlds for them using the powers of the Great Dragon.
Even though the Great Dragon had broken apart centuries ago, N was convinced that it wasn’t completely lost. He had spent the past week researching Unovan mythology, and ultimately came to the conclusion that it might be possible to revive the deity. He couldn’t wait to share his findings with the Plasma officials. Upon returning to the Plasma headquarters, he had been informed that the Seven Sages were holding a meeting in a building northwest of Nuvema Town. He immediately arranged a private flight to get him there as quickly as possible.
To revive the Great Dragon, the first thing we need to focus on is obtaining Reshiram and Zekrom’s souls. We’ll need to get that out of the way before we even think of finding Kyurem. According to my research, they exist in the form of orbs known as the Light and Dark Stones. Their locations are purportedly kept secret, but I might have a shadow of an idea where one of them is. N walked into the building, lost in his thoughts.
Following his ears, he soon found himself in a dark room full of computers. He thought nothing of it, and continued into a doorway at the back of the room. N was relieved to instantly make out the shape of Ghetsis, the highest ranking Sage. Several other figures were present, but N didn’t recognize any of them.
“I have great news!” he cried, unaware of what had been unfolding in the room. “My research trip was a complete success! I think I’ve finally found the missing component of this formula!”
The room abruptly became dead silent for what felt like an hour. Ghetsis slowly spun around, a horrified look on his face. “Today is certainly full of surprises, isn’t it,” he finally said flatly.
N narrowed his eyes. “What?” It was only then that he noticed what was lying on top of the table the people were gathered around. He approached the creature slowly, a dumbfounded look on his face. “What… is this?” N instinctively turned to Ghetsis, who in turn glanced at an unfamiliar brown-haired boy in the corner of the room who looked as if he was about to collapse.
“A genetically modified insect from prehistoric times,” the boy rasped. Although his voice was weak, anger smoldered in his tone like hot coals. “That’s the truth. Don’t believe anything they tell you, because they’ll probably try to deceive you.”
N backed away hesitantly and pressed his hand to his forehead. “Slow down. What is this place? Who is this boy? Is he telling the truth?”
Before anyone else could answer, a man in an office chair spoke up. “I apologize for the confusion, my lord. This facility is known as the P2 Laboratory because we’ve been working on developing an entirely new breed of Pokémon, which is what you see here. What the boy said about the creature is indeed correct. It was created in secret because we didn’t want to produce hype among the grunts. GMP156 is the first step in the completion of your goal.”
“No, this is… wrong! I fail to see how this has anything to do with my dream when this project goes against everything Team Plasma stands for. Do you understand what you have done? You’ve taken a creature that has been dead for millions of years, forced it back to life, and corrupted its natural form! You twisted this creature and made it impure, and for what? Just what do you hope to have me accomplish with this poor creature, especially when I’ve unearthed a solution of my own? In fact, that’s the whole reason why I’m here. I only wanted to share my findings with the Seven Sages, and I’m greeted with this!” N let his shock and rage spill from his mouth. “Furthermore, why wasn’t I informed of this? Not alerting the grunts is one thing, but I’m the king of Team Plasma! If I had known about this, I would’ve had this project canceled before it was even started.”
The man in the chair sighed. “For one, this is exactly how we expected you to react. My lord, you must realize that there is limitless potential in this field of genetic engineering. With the right knowledge, anything is possible. We’ve already given GMP156 metal armor and a cannon. It no longer requires food to survive. We’ve installed jet propulsion devices in the soles of its feet so it can fly, but they’re not suitable for long distance travel. We’re trying to find a way for it to reshape the structure of its body into a sleek design suitable for flight. Once we’ve accomplished that goal, we may be able to imbue it with the powers of a Legendary Pokémon. GMP156 could become anything you want it to be; the possibilities are endless. While I admit that its treatment thus far has been a bit… unethical, this one tiny sacrifice will pave the way to salvation for thousands of Pokémon.”
“No. I won’t tolerate any of this,” N snarled. “This is a disgrace. You act as if this Pokémon is a toy for you to play with; something that you can mold into anything you want, like a slab of clay. This is a living creature you’re dealing with! It shouldn’t even be alive in the first place! How do you expect for it to adapt to a modern environment? I won’t use this creature as some kind of shortcut to reach my goal. I can get there on my own without corrupting a Pokémon with technology; the only man who would stoop to something so low is one whose views have been clouded by his twisted ambitions. I demand that you cancel this project at once. This creature’s soul deserves to be released from its tainted prison.”
“What are you saying?” Ghetsis shouted, hysterical. “Are you telling me that this creature should be killed? You can’t do that! Do you have any idea how much time and money we’ve invested into this project? Besides, wouldn’t that go against Team Plasma’s code as well?”
“All the time and money in the world wouldn’t equate to the price of this creature’s wellbeing. Just look at it! Do you think it enjoys being bound to that table or drugged into unconsciousness? I can’t even imagine what it must go through when you work on your bizarre modifications. I bet this Pokémon has never even stepped outside; the poor creature has never felt the warmth of sunlight, or grass beneath its feet. It knows nothing but the life of a lab rat. It can’t simply be released into the wild—I doubt it would know how to survive, and if it did, it could potentially endanger the ecosystem. And of course, we can’t keep it cooped up inside a Poké Ball; that’s wrong as well. We have no choice but to free it from its wretched shape in the most humane way possible. It is for the best.”
N had finished speaking, something occurred to him; what if GMP156 didn’t want
to die? It was painful to look at the modified Pokémon’s altered body, but was
N really making the right choice? He assumed that putting it out of its misery
would be the best solution. Was there a way around that fate? Some sort of
compromise, perhaps? A life is a precious thing, and once it is gone, it cannot
Aurelia was used to life on the road. As a Pokémon trainer, she was constantly moving from city to city and rarely stayed in one place for more than one night—her home in Opelucid was always miles away. This was one of her favorite aspects of being a trainer; she could run away from her troubles and leave them in the distance. But as with all the other things that made her a trainer, this freedom had been taken from her that morning.
She had been turned into the living incarnate of an ancient god. Most people would consider that to be a blessing, but realistically it was a curse. Until she or Destiny could confirm that they wouldn’t continue to change into Pokémon, Aurelia couldn’t possibly leave the forest. It had become like a prison to her. The gnarled, black trees were like jail bars, confining her in a small area with no chance of escape. Painful memories lingered in the air like smoke. She was being punished for a crime she did not commit.
“I wonder what’s taking Colby so long,” Destiny mused. “His trip to the Poké Mart earlier was much faster than this.”
“He ditched us, no doubt. The kid probably just made that offer so he could get away from us freaks. I don’t blame him. If I had my choice, I’d want no part in this.” Aurelia scraped at the dirt with her pointed hooves, her gaze focused on nothing in particular.
“He wouldn’t do that,” Destiny chided. “Believe it or not, there are selfless, good-natured people out there who just want to lend a hand. Not everyone cares only about themselves.”
Aurelia rolled her eyes. It was obvious that Destiny was attempting to scorn her for her attitude, and she didn’t care. There’s no point in being charitable; it gets you nowhere. The human race is unpredictable. If you try to help someone, he might turn his back on you later and ruin your day. Why did I even bother helping the kid earlier? I should’ve known something like this was going to happen. I don’t believe that there are truly any good Samaritans in the world; they only want to make themselves look good. They’re just as selfish as anyone else.
“What are we going to do if he doesn’t come back?” the Arceus questioned.
“Don’t say that,” said Destiny. “Please try to have faith.”
I liked it better when she was the bug thing. It was nice not having to listen to her crap. Destiny’s optimism was really getting on Aurelia’s nerves. Once Aurelia had shared her life philosophies with her, she began to oppose all of her beliefs—it was as if she sought to make enemies with her. She acted as if Aurelia’s history was merely a ploy for sympathy, and shoved it away like it was a made-up story. She tells me off for being self-centered, but she can’t empathize with my problems. It hurts. I wish someone would understand.
An odd tingling sensation in Aurelia’s stomach distracted her from her thoughts. She recognized the feeling instantly—the same thing had happened shortly before she transformed into Arceus. Could it be? Aurelia thought hopefully. It feels like I’ve been waiting ages for this to happen.
The Arceus shut her eyes tight as the feeling pulsated through her body. It wasn’t painful, but it was still very strange and uncomfortable—it certainly wasn’t something any human being was meant to experience. I’ll endure this, she told herself. The prize at the end is certainly worth going through whatever this curse wants to throw at me.
She strained her neck to lift her head, which felt like it weighed a ton. Blackness swept across her vision as dizziness danced in her head. Aurelia could hear Destiny’s voice droning in the background, but she couldn’t make out what she was saying. As if she had suddenly become paralyzed, her legs splayed out and her head crashed to the ground.
Her bones snapped and popped as they shrank and slid into place. The Arceus’s impressive features contracted and she was covered by the snug embrace of clothing. She instinctively gasped for breath as her mouth and nose reappeared. Aurelia began to retch and sputter as air filled her lungs—after being trapped as a creature with no means of breathing, it felt weird and unnatural.
Aware that she had regained control of her body, she immediately sat up. Aurelia threw her hands to her face and ran them over her features, her head still throbbing from the toll of her transformation. Relief flowed through her as she touched lips and a bump of a nose. She had finally returned to normal. Aurelia almost threw her head back and laughed in joy, but she didn’t want to create a scene.
Destiny looked repulsed. “Ugh, watching that made my stomach churn. I hope that was the last time either of us will have to go through that.”
“Tell me about it,” Aurelia grumbled, nearly forgetting that she could no longer speak with telepathy. Destiny seemed surprised that she hadn’t thrown in a pessimistic comment; Aurelia figured it wasn’t worth it, since Destiny would only start arguing with her. She felt truly happy for once, and she wanted to keep her mood up for at least a while.
“Colby had better hurry. We’re both in a state where we can eat, and I’d hate to say it, but I don’t know how long this will last,” Destiny remarked, staring off in the direction the young trainer had disappeared.
“We’d probably be better off looking for food in this forest. Being a Pokémon trainer, I know a bit about what kind of berries are good to eat. I’m not sure if they taste very good, but it’s better than starving to death,” Aurelia explained.
A faint smirk appeared on Destiny’s face. “Hey, look! I think I see Colby!”
“Do you? What perfect timing,” Aurelia muttered, shifting her gaze over to where the girl was looking. She could definitely see a figure in the distance, but something seemed off. She squinted, trying to get a better look. From what she could tell, the person was a girl a few years older than her. She was dressed in a very unusual looking costume. “Are you nearsighted or something? That’s not Colby. Colby doesn’t dress like that. That’s not even a boy.”
“Seriously? I didn’t think my vision was that bad,” Destiny breathed in alarm. “Who is it, then?”
“Do you really expect me to know?” Aurelia growled. What an idiot. “It’s not uncommon for trainers to roam forests in pursuit of wild Pokémon. Maybe we can ask her if she’s seen the kid.”
“I thought we’d be safe here,” Destiny whispered timidly. “If what you say is true, then we might as well just go out in the open. What if she saw you when you were Arceus?”
Aurelia snickered quietly. “I think she would’ve been screaming and running away, especially if she saw me turn back. I doubt there’s any place we could go that’s perfectly safe. Trainers tend to search every nook and cranny for new Pokémon to battle and catch. A densely forested place like this is our best bet, I’d say.”
Destiny sighed. “It’s a miracle we’re both back to normal. I don’t want to imagine what would happen if we were still Pokémon.”
“Electroweb now, Galvantula!” the girl commanded. Aurelia blinked in confusion; the girl wasn’t battling a wild Pokémon, so what was she telling her Pokémon to attack? She was hit with a realization when she watched the furry insect crawl over to her and Destiny—she was making it attack the two of them.
“Hey, wait a minute!” Aurelia shouted, enraged. “What the hell are you doing? Do we really look like Pokémon to you?”
“No,” the Galvantula’s trainer replied coolly. “Not right now, at least. There’s no need to try to hide it, hybrids. I can see through your disguise.” Her Pokémon exhaled a glob of sparking thread, which wrapped around the trees surrounding the two girls.
Hybrids? Aurelia fearfully repeated in her mind. She called us hybrids… but what does that mean? It obviously has something to do with our transformations, but I’ve never heard that term used before. Does this mean she actually knows what happened to us? She would’ve liked to ask the trainer some questions, but she didn’t appear to be very friendly. Besides, she had just been locked up in an electric fence—she had bigger things to worry about.
She sucked in a deep breath, trying her best to stay calm. Well, this sucks. I guess this chick did see me transform. The thing is, she’s acting like she was specifically looking for us. How does she know about us in the first place? It can’t be common knowledge; otherwise, Colby surely would’ve known what we are. What does she even want with us? As much as Aurelia wanted to speak up, she didn’t want to risk saying anything rash and getting into even more trouble.
“W-what are you talking about?” Destiny stammered unconvincingly, clearly terrified. Aurelia shot her an angry glance; if she wasn’t going to make things worse, Destiny certainly was.
“Oh, please,” the girl crowed. “You know as well as I do what you are. Even if I hadn’t watched your buddy change from a Pokémon to a human, I still wouldn’t have a doubt in my head that you’re a couple of beasts.” She grinned spitefully. “I might not have captured the first hybrid, but I managed to catch two of them! Better yet, one of them is fused with Arceus! I’m bound to get a promotion for this!”
Aurelia narrowed her eyes. A promotion? What, is it her job to wrangle up freaks like us?
“Who are you?” Destiny asked in a small voice. “What are you going to do with us?”
The girl spoke in a sing-song tone. “The name’s Lynn, but that shouldn’t be of importance to you. Also, I’m not the one who decides what happens to you.”
Aurelia couldn’t take it anymore. “You know what? I’ve had enough of this. Get off your high horse and stop acting like we’re inferior to you.” She uttered her first words tentatively, as if she expected Destiny would criticize her for them. “If you’re going to march up to us and trap us like this, we at least deserve an explanation. Don’t twist our words and give us useless information. I don’t give a damn about what your name is. We want to know why you did this. You also clearly know what we’ve been turned into, so some clarification about that would be appreciated as well. If you’re going to waste your time chit-chatting with us, at least make it meaningful.”
“What’s the fun in that?” Lynn purred, unfazed by Aurelia’s angry retort. “I’ve got you captured. You’re basically possessions of mine now. I don’t have to listen to you.”
Aurelia’s face turned red with fury. I’m starting to wish I hadn’t turned back. This bitch could use a nice Hyper Beam in the face. “Fine. Well, are you just going to leave us here? If you plan on doing something with us, quit stalling and get on with it.”
“As much as I’d love to leave you to rot here, I’m afraid I’ll have to turn you in at some point. I need to call for back-up first if I want to take you to headquarters. I wasn’t expecting that I’d find two of you.” Lynn reached for her C-Gear, laughing deviously.
“Sandile, Fire Fang now!”
Aurelia watched in surprise as a small tan blur flew at Lynn’s Galvantula. The tiny creature opened its jaws, smoke billowing from its teeth. It bit down on the insect’s foreleg and fiercely shook its little head from side to side. The Sandile’s trainer strode up behind it, a determined look on his face.
Well, what do you know? Colby didn’t abandon us. Aurelia tried her best not to smile. What a brave kid… or maybe he’s just really stupid. He’s a rookie trainer. Does he really think he’ll be able to beat this freak?
A young N lay on the floor, his gaze affixed to the little train. He enjoyed sitting and watching it glide along its tracks; to him, it was comforting to see it traveling in circles, completing the same motions that it always did.
N’s eyes lit up when a man walked into his room, a wriggling brown bundle in his arms. N stood up and excitedly toddled over to him. “Daddy, what is that?”
Ghetsis smiled wordlessly as he bent over and placed the bundle on the ground. The bag squirmed for a moment, and then a small head poked out of it. The creature warily stepped out, curiously sniffing its surroundings. Thick, black hair covered its neck and head, concealing its eyes. A tiny blue muzzle protruded from its messy mane. The creature had a robust body, four thick legs, and a stubby tail.
“This is a baby Deino,” Ghetsis told him. “Deino are normally very aggressive and dangerous Pokémon, but this fellow is gentle and calm. He’s a bit skittish, though, and he’ll bite if he’s scared. He’s blind, so he might get startled if you touch him suddenly.”
N approached the Deino cautiously, taking Ghetsis’s words into account. He sat down in front of it, fascinated. “Hello,” he greeted softly.
The Deino stretched its neck to sniff the child, and accidentally bumped its face into his shoulder. The creature flinched and quickly drew its head back. N giggled as it backed away timidly, its head held low.
Ghetsis chuckled to himself. “He’s being submissive, which is a good thing. He realizes we’re in charge, just as it should be.” He paused. “Anyway, I wanted to ask if you’d like to help me take care of him.”
N was taken aback. “Really?” Ghetsis had let him play with several Pokémon in the past, but at the end of the day he’d take them away. N had never been asked to do anything like this before. “I’d love to!”
“I’m glad you’re so enthusiastic,” Ghetsis remarked cheerfully, watching the Deino crawl towards N’s train set out of the corner of his eye. “You’ll be just like a little Pokémon trainer.”
N frowned. “A Pokémon trainer? What’s that?”
“A Pokémon trainer is someone who raises Pokémon for a living,” explained Ghetsis.
“There are people who do that?” N squeaked. “I wanna be a Pokémon trainer!”
Ghetsis grinned. “I’m sure you do. But let me tell you… being a Pokémon trainer isn’t an easy job.” As if on cue, the Deino pounced on the tracks, causing them to break apart. It batted at the train with its paw and flipped it onto its side.
“Hey!” N shouted, springing to his feet. “Don’t do that!” He darted up to the Deino, who was happily gnawing on the toy train.
“Pokémon can be a bit destructive and hard to care for,” Ghetsis said. “It looks like the little guy’s hungry.”
“What does he eat?” N questioned, trying to remove the toy from the Pokémon’s jaws. “I hope he doesn’t eat trains.”
“No, no. I think he’d like a bowl of milk. I’ll go fix one up for him.” Ghetsis began to walk towards the door. “I trust you’ll be okay with him while I’m gone? He’s been a good boy so far. I doubt he’ll try to hurt you.”
“I’ll be okay,” N assured Ghetsis as he left the room. The train finally popped out of the Deino’s mouth, and N held it over his head victoriously. Disgusted, he realized that it was coated in saliva and it had small dents in its sides. He turned to the Pokémon and glared at it scornfully. “Look what you did!”
The Deino whimpered and flattened itself against the ground, frightened by the child’s angry tone. N wasn’t sure if he liked the Pokémon very much anymore. He turned his back to the creature and dolefully cradled the chewed-up train in his arms. The Deino remained still out of fear that N would yell at it again.
Ghetsis entered the room with a large saucer of milk in his hands, and was surprised to see that N was blatantly ignoring the Pokémon. “What’s wrong?” he asked, setting the saucer on the floor.
N sniffled. “He ruined my train.” The child stood up and handed the toy to Ghetsis.
The man stared at it absently. “I’m sorry. But as precious as a toy may be to you, it can always be fixed or replaced. I’ll see if I can make it better tomorrow.” Placing the train on the ground, Ghetsis reached into his pocket and withdrew a small object wrapped in blue foil. He dropped it in N’s hand, a smile on his face. “Would a piece of candy cheer you up?”
“Candy!” N exclaimed joyfully, seemingly entirely forgetting about his destroyed toy. He hurriedly ripped off its wrapper and shoved it into his mouth. Ghetsis rarely gave him sweets when it wasn’t a special occasion. “Thank you!”
“You’re welcome.” Ghetsis’s gaze was focused on the Deino, who was beginning to pick up the scent of the milk. Wagging its tail happily, the Pokémon followed its nose to the saucer. It accidentally put its foot down on the side of the bowl, but swiftly stepped back as soon as it made contact with it. It then delicately lowered its head into the saucer.
N rolled the piece of hard candy around in his mouth as he watched the Deino greedily lap up the white liquid. Once the dish had been licked clean, the Pokémon raised its head and belched contentedly. It swiped its tongue around its jaws, wiping off the droplets of milk that clung to its face. The creature then waddled over to the train tracks and plopped down in the middle of them.
“Now that his belly is full, he’d probably like to get some rest. He seems to have taken a liking to your train set,” Ghetsis stated.
“I wish he’d stay away from it. It’s mine,” N grumbled, pouting.
“Like I said earlier, taking care of Pokémon can be challenging. You have to learn to share your time, love, and possessions with them.” The Deino, who had curled itself into a ball, was squirming restlessly. “In order to be a successful trainer, you have to treat your Pokémon with kindness and understanding. The Deino is just a baby, which is why he tried to teethe on your train. Since he doesn’t have a proper place to sleep yet, he’s using your train tracks as a nest.”
“Oh,” N murmured, sounding disappointed. “I’ll try to be nicer, I guess.”
“That’s the spirit. You’ll need to make some sacrifices, but in the end the experience is very rewarding,” Ghetsis said. “You look like you could use some sleep as well. Tomorrow you can try to become friends with the Deino.”
“Okay,” the boy sighed glumly. He trudged up to his bed and climbed onto it. “Can you tuck me in?”
“Of course.” Ghetsis picked up N’s blanket and set it over him. “Goodnight, Natural.”
“Goodnight, Daddy.” N watched as the man turned out the lights and left the room. The child yawned and pulled the blanket over his head sleepily. Right as he began to drift off to sleep, he became aware of something heavy pressing down on him. Startled, he fought to throw the blanket off of him. Once he had freed himself, he spotted a dark shape edging towards him. He quickly realized that the Deino had hopped onto his bed.
“What are you doing here?” N groaned, rubbing his eyes. “I thought you were asleep.”
The Deino stepped closer to him, experimentally sticking out its head to check how close it was to him. Its head collided with N’s shoulder again, and rather than cringing the Deino proceeded to affectionately nuzzle him.
“Hey, what are you doing?” N tried not to laugh. He was surprised to see that the Deino had apparently forgiven him for his outburst. Maybe it wanted to start all over again, just like Ghetsis had suggested. “Do you want to sleep up here? I’m sure it’s a lot more comfortable than my tracks.”
The Deino let out a happy yip before lying down next to N’s pillow. The boy giggled and reached to stroke its bristly mane. The Pokémon purred and flipped onto its back, letting N rub its pudgy belly. N decided that the Deino wasn’t too bad after all. He continued to gently pet the creature until sleep finally overcame him.
The next morning, N woke to the sight of the Deino playfully holding his toy train in its mouth. N cracked a faint smile. “You can have it. I don’t mind.” The Pokémon opened its mouth to chirp gleefully, resulting in the train falling onto the bed. N rolled his eyes. “Do you want me to show you how it works? Follow me!” The boy picked up the toy, slid off the bed, and headed over to the tracks. The Deino clumsily bounded after him, following the sound of his footsteps.
N crouched in front of the train set, noticing in dismay that the tracks had come apart. He snapped them back together and then dropped the chewed-up train onto them. The Deino sat by his side, waving its stub of a tail impatiently. N flipped the train’s switch, silently praying that the damaged toy would still work. To his joy, the train started up and slid along its tracks. It rattled slightly as it moved, but N was glad that it could drive at all.
The Deino perked up as it picked up the sound of the train. It trotted over to the tracks and yipped noisily as it began to chase after the toy. N sighed as the Pokémon tackled the train and sent it flying across the floor. “That’s not how you play with it,” N mumbled. “Well, I guess the way you play with it is more interesting than the way I do.”
The Deino scrambled to retrieve the toy, and dropped it in N’s lap. The child raised an eyebrow. “Do you want to play again?” The Pokémon stood on its hind legs and let out a high-pitched cry. “I’ll take that as a yes.” N put the train back on its tracks and chuckled as the Deino rushed to knock it off and fetch it again.
Ghetsis ambled into the room, holding another saucer of milk. He looked pleased to see that N was getting along with the Pokémon.
“Daddy!” N shouted, his eyes wide with excitement. “Look at this game the Deino made up!” He placed the battered toy train on the tracks for a third time and let the Pokémon demonstrate how it liked to play with it.
“Looks like fun,” Ghetsis remarked. “The fellow’s probably worked up an appetite. How about we give him some breakfast?”
“Sure!” N exclaimed.
Ghetsis put the dish in front of the Deino, who ecstatically began to gulp down the milk. “I forgot to mention that there’s more to being a trainer than just feeding and playing with your Pokémon.”
“Oh?” An inquisitive expression spread across N’s face. “Tell me!”
“Well, they’re not called Pokémon trainers for nothing,” Ghetsis began. “Another thing trainers are expected to do is prepare their Pokémon for battle.”
“Battle?” N repeated, confused.
“Yes. Pokémon are pitted against each other for the sheer purpose of their trainers’ amusement.”
“Couldn’t they get hurt?” N gasped in alarm.
“Exactly,” Ghetsis growled, his tone growing dark. “In truth, trainers see Pokémon as nothing more than toys. They care for them and feign kindness, yes, but that’s only so they’re fit to fight.” He suddenly grabbed the Deino, who hadn’t quite finished its meal. The creature cried and squirmed as Ghetsis began to forcefully run his hand through its mane. “They don’t care if their Pokémon get injured. They don’t care if their Pokémon die. They can always go out and find better, stronger ones to replace them.” The Deino kicked fiercely as Ghetsis grabbed its neck. “And do the Pokémon protest? Of course not. Pokémon are stupidly loyal creatures that run on instinct and their trainers’ commands alone. They’re incapable of thinking for themselves.”
N whimpered and backed away, frightened by Ghetsis’s change in voice and attitude; it was as if he had transformed into a completely different person. He could only stare hopelessly as his Pokémon friend struggled. What was Ghetsis doing? Why was he holding the Deino so strangely?
Ghetsis began to shake violently, a wide grin creeping up his face. “So, you want to be a Pokémon trainer?” he uttered through bared teeth. He shifted his other hand, placing it at the base of the Deino’s neck. The Pokémon let out earsplitting shrieks as it continued to fight against the man. An audible crack sounded after a quick movement of Ghetsis’s hands, and the Deino’s squeals were abruptly cut off. “Is this what you want to become?” Cackling unstably, he shoved the creature in N’s face. The Deino’s once lively body was limp and unmoving, and its neck was twisted and bent at an unnatural angle.
N fell to the ground, instantly bursting into tears. What had just happened? Why did Ghetsis suddenly start acting scary, and why wasn’t the Deino moving anymore? Nothing seemed right; it was like he was in the middle of a terrible nightmare.
Ghetsis tossed the Deino’s lifeless body onto the ground, breathing hard. Tears dripping down his cheeks, N kneeled in front of the Pokémon’s corpse. He prodded at it frantically, nearly hyperventilating. The creature remained perfectly still. “C’mon,” he begged between sobs, holding the toy train up to its nose, “let’s play with the train. Don’t you want to play?” He set the train on its tracks and hopelessly let it loop in circles.
“Your Deino is broken,” Ghetsis snarled, “and unlike your train, he can’t be fixed.”
Colby locked eyes with the Team Plasma grunt, his hands balled into fists. “Let them out. They didn’t do anything wrong.”
Colby couldn’t do it. He couldn’t walk away and abandon his friends. Even though they had just met, he already felt like he had been through so much with them. He didn’t care that he was clearly outmatched. At least they’ll know I tried. Despite his clouding doubt, the boy still clung to a tiny spark of determination. I want to be a hero, Colby thought. I wasn’t able to get the food and supplies. It was a simple task, and I slipped up. I’ll make up for it. I don’t want them to think I’m useless.
After the grunt had left, Colby had begun to stealthily follow her trail. He made sure to keep a reasonable distance behind her and tried his best to make his footsteps silent. He didn’t want her to see him until the last possible moment.
The grunt glanced from her Galvantula, who was thrashing about madly as it tried to throw off Sandile, to Colby. Her expression quickly transitioned from shock to amusement. “Why, would you look who it is? You said you didn’t know anything about the hybrids.”
Colby shrugged. “I lied. Now, if you don’t cut down the fence, Sandile will do it for me.” His Pokémon let out a short growl, seemingly agreeing with its trainer.
The grunt began to snicker. “You’re cute, you know that? Standing up for your girly friends like that… you’re like a miniature knight in shining armor! Kid, your petty threats mean nothing, especially since they’re coming out of a newbie’s mouth.” She flashed Galvantula a look. “Finish the brat’s critter with a Bug Bite.”
The EleSpider Pokémon stopped struggling and opened its mouth, revealing monstrous fangs. It pulled its head back and then lunged, snagging Sandile’s little body in its jaws. It jerked its head to the side and flung Sandile onto the ground.
“Sandile!” Colby shouted, rushing up to his Pokémon. He lifted its head worriedly, panic racing in his heart. The tawny creature made a quiet gurgling noise before blacking out. Colby glared at the grunt as he withdrew Sandile’s Poké Ball and called it back.
“Well, so much for that,” muttered Aurelia, who had returned to her human shape. “Just when I was starting to think you might actually stand a chance.”
“Please. He was doomed from the start,” the grunt laughed. “Maybe if he hadn’t let his foolish heroics get to his head, he would’ve been able to devise a more logical plan. He could’ve made his critter attack the web right away instead of threatening me.”
Colby gritted his teeth in frustration. He was trying too hard to live up to his image of a fearless hero. At his level of experience and skill, he shouldn’t undauntedly march into tricky situations and expect to triumph with bold recklessness alone. If he wanted to succeed, he’d have to rely on wit and resourcefulness; something he had realized a tad too late.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an important call to make. Why don’t you get going, kid? It’s not like there’s anything you can do. Things will be a lot easier for both of us if you turn and walk away right now,” the grunt suggested, raising her arm.
Colby narrowed his eyes as he took notice of her C-Gear. She’s going to call for reinforcements! If only there was a way for me to get it away from her… then she wouldn’t be able to get them to headquarters. But what can I do? It’s strapped to her wrist; it’s not like I can just take it from her. He watched fearfully as the grunt began to dial a number. I’ve gotta do something… I might not be able to steal the C-Gear from her, but maybe there’s something else I can do.
He dropped his gaze to the ground and frantically searched the forest floor for a rock. Colby grinned when he spotted a flat stone around the size of his hand at the base of a nearby tree. He swiftly grabbed it, wondering if the grunt was even paying attention.
“Hello!” she brightly exclaimed into her C-Gear while playing with her hair. “You won’t believe the luck I’ve had!”
Colby smiled impishly. Here goes nothing. He rose to his feet, grasping the rock tightly. Holding it over his head, he crept up behind the grunt.
“I didn’t find just one hybrid—I found two! Ha, I didn’t expect this to be so easy!” Before the grunt had a chance to start another sentence, Colby leaped in front of her and smashed the stone against her C-Gear’s screen.
The grunt shrieked and nearly tumbled backwards in surprise and horror. “What the hell?” she screamed in exasperation, furiously examining her C-Gear. The screen had gone black, and there was a large crack in the middle of it.
“Now what are you gonna do?” Colby questioned proudly. “You can’t get back-up now, so how ‘bout you let them go?”
“Well,” the grunt growled, “we were told that if we were given problems, we had permission to kill the hybrids.” She grinned sadistically, yanking the broken C-Gear off of her arm and tossing it onto the ground. “Would you like to watch Galvantula put them out of their misery? You already saw what she’s capable of in a standard Pokémon battle when she took down your Sandile in a single hit. Can you imagine what she can do at her full potential?” Galvantula rubbed its forelegs together in anticipation.
Colby made a choking noise and dropped to his knees. “Please,” he begged, fighting back tears. “They’re innocent. I know them, and they’re good people. They wouldn’t hurt anyone.” I messed up again, he thought in terror. Why didn’t I see this coming? This could’ve been avoided… I don’t know what she was planning on doing with them once they got to headquarters, but it’s gotta be better than this. Anything is better than this.
The grunt stomped on her C-Gear, grinding it into the dirt. “That won’t work on me, kiddo. As cute as you are, I have to follow orders. Besides, I know more about the hybrids than you do. They’re dangerous; they were created to be weapons.”
Aurelia took a deep breath. “Maybe this is for the best. The thing about us being dangerous is crap if you ask me, but being a hybrid is a living nightmare. It’d be so much easier to just end it all here and now.”
“You can’t say that!” Colby yelled in disbelief. What is she doing? It’s not like her to surrender without a fight!
“I’m glad you understand,” the grunt purred. “I didn’t expect you would comply so easily.”
“N-no,” Destiny stuttered, tears streaming down her face. “I don’t want to die!”
Aurelia gave the other hybrid a hard stare. “Get real, Destiny. What do you have to live for anymore? Do you really want to spend the rest of your life hidden from society? We’re not even human. I can’t be a Pokémon trainer anymore. You won’t be able to get a job. This is it. Is this really what you want?”
Destiny kept silent, too appalled to speak.
“See? There are no benefits to being a hybrid,” the grunt chimed. “Since you’re being so obedient, I’ll let you choose how you’d like to be executed. What will it be: Electroweb, Slash, or Bug Bite?”
Aurelia closed her eyes. “I don’t care. Just make it fast.”
The grunt bowed her head. “Okay then. Galvantula, use Slash on the brunette. Be sure to make it a killing blow.”
Her Pokémon let out a gurgling noise as it slithered up to the fence and promptly sliced an opening in it. It crawled up to Aurelia and raised its foreleg to strike, when suddenly the hybrid rammed her foot into its face. “Not today!” she snarled in disdain, watching as the Galvantula screeched and slid backwards. “If fate wanted me dead, it would’ve killed me off long ago. As awful as being a hybrid is, I don’t think now’s my time. Oh, and Lynn? You were criticizing the kid for not planning his actions, yet you expected me to just let your bug kill me when I could’ve easily stopped it. I find that hilarious.”
Destiny gasped and cupped her hands around her mouth. “Great Arceus,” she whispered.
Lynn stood frozen, her mouth gaping open in shock. “You… you bitch!” She ran up to her Galvantula, who was writhing in agony. There was a large dent in its head, and one of its dominant eyes had been smashed in. “What the hell did you do to my Pokémon?”
“I did what I needed to,” Aurelia grumbled. “I mean, it was going to kill me. I was defending myself. You should be glad it’s still alive.”
Growling in anger and disgust, Lynn took out Galvantula’s Poké Ball and held it out, her arm shaking. Once the wounded Pokémon had been called back, the grunt furiously sprinted away.
“Well, that’s that,” Aurelia snorted, her hands on her hips. She carefully stepped out of what was left of the fence. “I’m surprised she didn’t try to kill us with her own hands. It was smart of her to run away.”
“Holy crap,” Destiny breathed, collapsing onto her knees. Her entire body was trembling, and tears stained her cheeks. “I’ve never been so scared in my entire life. Turning into that… thing was nothing compared to this.”
“It’s over now,” Colby mumbled in a small voice. Everything had happened so fast. Just moments ago, he thought he’d be responsible for Aurelia and Destiny’s deaths, and now they were all fine. The boy wiped his eyes, which had begun to water.
“I know, but… wow.” Destiny rose to her feet timorously. “She won’t be coming back, will she?”
“Totaled C-Gear, totaled Pokémon… we shouldn’t be seeing her again anytime soon!” Aurelia spoke in an uncannily optimistic tone. Colby guessed it had something to do with how she was a human again.
“I don’t know about that,” Colby said apprehensively. “She told me there was a whole organization hunting you down.”
“What?” Aurelia exclaimed. “You talked to her?”
“I ran into her when I was on the way to the Poké Mart,” Colby explained, speaking quickly. “She made her Galvantula trap me, like what she did to you. Then she started interrogating me… she asked if I had seen anything suspicious, and then she started describing things that sounded just like you. She called them hybrids, and she said they had been kidnapped off the streets and injected with a type of formula that would cause them to turn into Legendary Pokémon. They were created to take down “Team Plasma”, so they’re trying to capture them. A Zekrom hybrid had been captured around here, so this area is probably under investigation.”
“Whoa, slow down,” Aurelia snapped, waving her hands in front of her. “She told you all that? Funny, she refused to tell us anything.” She paused. “Team Plasma, huh? I think I heard my mom talking about them once.” The hybrid lowered her head at the mention of her mother. “Who would even do something like that? You’d think they’d look for people who were actually willing to be turned into these things if they wanted to do something crazy like that. Then again, I doubt there would be any volunteers. But seriously, that story is unrealistic and full of holes. I’m not sure if I should believe it or not.”
“We have no reason not to believe it,” Destiny stated coyly. “It has to be true. Why else would that girl try to kill us? After all we’ve been through today, nothing really seems unrealistic to me anymore.”
“Did you see her? She was totally nuts! She was clearly some kind of psycho,” Aurelia hissed. “Where do you suppose we’ll go, anyway? We can’t exactly run off to Mistralton. We may be normal at the moment, but now it’s pretty much been confirmed that we’ll continue to turn into Pokémon. It’s only a matter of time before it happens again.”
“I never said we had to go to Mistralton. Can’t we go the other way?” Destiny asked.
“If we head north, we’ll have to travel through Twist Mountain, which is a complicated expanse of caves and tunnels. South of Mistralton is Chargestone Cave, another place I’d prefer not to hide out in. This forest and Mistralton City are in the middle of a valley; there’s really not anywhere we can run easily.”
“Weren’t you a Pokémon trainer? You’ve traveled through places like that, haven’t you?”
“Yeah, but that was when I wasn’t on the run. I also had Pokémon to protect me, and all the supplies I needed to survive in the wild. If we could find my bag, maybe we’d stand a chance.”
“We have Colby, though.”
“Colby’s Pokémon was taken down in one hit.” The boy’s faced turned red with embarrassment at Aurelia’s mention of his defeat. “I was a trainer for three years, so my Pokémon are much stronger. My bag might be somewhere in that building. If we find it, we might be able to make an escape.”
“What about food?”
“That’s where Colby comes in. Once I get my Pokémon back, we’ll be able to protect ourselves. Then we can let Colby run to the Poké Mart and pick up what we need whenever we want without having to worry.”
“Oh, I guess that makes sense.” Destiny finally walked out of the broken fence. “Well, we’d better get moving. Who knows when Team Plasma will strike again?”
Colby was glad his friends had come up with a plan, but he wondered when he’d get to start his Pokémon journey. They talk about me like I’m some kind of tool. I know I agreed to help them, but how long do they expect me to be there for them? And where do they expect me to get the money to buy all this stuff if I have to follow them around everywhere? Trainers get money from winning Pokémon battles, and I doubt I’ll have a chance to participate in any of those. Colby smiled, pushing the thought aside. Oh well, I’m sure everything will work out just fine.
N stared into GMP156’s empty red eyes, trembling as he desperately tried to fight back his conflicted feelings. Why was I chosen to lead Team Plasma? Why does this decision have to be left up to me? The king’s forehead was beginning to sweat. Everyone looks up to me; they expect me to do what’s right. With this problem, there are no right answers. I can’t read this Pokémon’s mind. I can’t know what it thinks would be best.
“My lord, that’s just not possible. We can’t afford to throw out everything we’ve put into this project. Even if you don’t personally want to use it, it can be put to other uses. I beg of you, my lord; GMP156 can’t be killed. I understand that you don’t approve of its treatment, so if it pleases you we can put an end to its alterations. I assure you that it won’t be a threat to the environment.” The man in the office chair gripped his armrests, his voice wavering with anxiety.
N averted his sight from the creature. “You went off and created GMP156 without my consent, so this is the price you’re going to pay. After all it’s been put through, this creature deserves salvation. I don’t think I can trust your claim that it will successfully adapt to the environment. Considering that you’ve been hiding all of this from me, it seems like a thin attempt to convince me to agree with you.” He winced at his own words, still unsure of what he wanted to do. “Listen. I need some time to think this through. I want to be alone for a bit.”
Ghetsis and the other man exchanged nervous glances, and suddenly a strangled cry erupted from the brown-haired boy in the corner. He scrabbled at the walls furiously as he fell to the ground. The grunt who had been standing next to him quickly stepped back in alarm.
“Arceus,” N gasped. “Somebody help that kid!” The boy had appeared to be in a stupor ever since N entered the room. What happened to him? Why is he here? He can’t be a grunt; he’s not wearing a uniform.
Ghetsis bit his lip. “There’s not really anything we can do.”
“What are you talking about?” N exclaimed, racing over to the boy. He stood over him worriedly, noticing that his breathing was becoming slower. Oh, Arceus! What am I supposed to do? I’m not a doctor!
The boy struggled to lift his head and uttered, “Get back. Now.”
N unquestioningly backed away, puzzled. To his disbelief, the boy’s skin began to darken into a thick slate color. Rugged scales rippled across his body and his face bulged outward, forming a large snout. “What is this?” N cried, terrified.
“We shouldn’t have waited so long,” the grunt murmured, cringing at the sight of what had once been the brown-haired boy. He turned to N, a confused look on his face. “He’s a hybrid, and he’s transforming. Why does this come as a surprise to you? Ghetsis said you approved of us hunting down the hybrids.”
“What in the world is that supposed to mean?” N glared at Ghetsis coldly. “I’ve never heard anything about this. Is this some kind of joke?”
Ghetsis swallowed hard. “It’s true. I’ve been hiding both of these things from you. I realize you’re the leader of Team Plasma, but I was the one who gave you the throne. I know you better than anyone else; I raised you from birth. I know how you think, and I knew your responses to both of these problems would be unfavorable. I thought it would be best if you didn’t know about these things. I knew you would find out about them eventually; it’s hard to keep things hidden from a king. But I thought we’d have these things sorted out by then, or we’d think of a way to change your mind.”
“Do you honestly think that gives you the right to do these things behind my back and lie about me?” N snarled. He still hadn’t been given an explanation of what “hybrids” were, but at the moment he could care less. “I’m the king, and it is my duty to oversee everything that Team Plasma does. If you wanted to decide what Team Plasma does, you shouldn’t have sworn me in as the ruler. You’re not my father, and you never were. You don’t have authority over me. This is completely unacceptable.”
The boy’s body became bulkier as he continued to metamorphose. His nose hardened into a pointed crest, and his hair pulled together and extended into a mane-like appendage. His teeth lengthened and sharpened. Rocky bumps burst from his shoulders, followed by a pair of powerful wings. His fingers shaped into monstrous claws and webbed formations stretched over them. His legs shortened and his feet swelled as his toes were replaced with tough claws. A massive cone-shaped tail sprouted from his rear.
Once he had finished transforming, he dazedly rose to his feet. He growled irritably as his head hit the ceiling, and then grumpily hunched his back. He stared down at the others, flexing his claws and gnashing his teeth.
“Great Arceus,” N gasped, nearly falling over in shock. “That boy… he just turned into Zekrom!”
“Yes, that’s what hybrids do,” Ghetsis explained, relieved that N had changed the subject. “A traitor created them to destroy Team Plasma. They may look like normal kids at first glance, but they are capable of changing into Legendary Pokémon at random times. That’s why we’re trying to get rid of them. I think you might be able to understand our intentions, as they’re quite similar to your complaints about GMP156. These hybrids have been corrupted, and they will no longer be able to live like normal humans. They also have destructive tendencies, and will most definitely end up hurting other people and Pokémon.”
N gazed at the Zekrom, a chill creeping down his spine. Mesmerized, the young man barely absorbed any of Ghetsis’s words. A human transforming into a Pokémon, and a mythical one at that… it’s surreal, like a dream. What is it like to transition from the form of a defenseless human to a living embodiment of absolute power? What is it like to see from the eyes of a mighty dragon, to feel limitless energy pulsate through your body? It must be fascinating… but it shouldn’t be possible. This isn’t right at all.
The Zekrom glanced around warily, grimacing. “If I’m going to escape, now’s the time. But how can I get out of here without causing a scene?”
“You’re using telepathy,” the grunt pointed out, removing a Poké Ball from his belt. “We can hear what you’re thinking.”
“I am?” The Zekrom froze. “Crap. Well, that’s not good.” He turned around and gave the wall a powerful kick. Rubble showered onto the ground as a gaping hole formed. “Screw that. I guess it’s time for Plan B.” He ducked down and struggled to squeeze his large body through it.
“Go, Archeops!” the grunt yelled as a feathered Pokémon emerged from the Poké Ball. “I know you’re exhausted, but I need you!”
N watched the scene blankly. So much had happened in that short span of time since he entered the room, and he was starting to get overwhelmed. Moments ago, he had been discussing GMP156’s fate with Ghetsis and the other man, and now it seemed as if the creature had faded out of existence. GMP156 was still perfectly motionless, oblivious to the danger around it in its drugged state.
“Use DragonBreath!” the grunt commanded. The Archeops let out a sharp cry and opened its maw, exhaling a jet of blue fire. The hybrid roared thunderously as his backside was scorched and scrambled to fit through the opening. He finally freed himself and took off into the wilderness. “After him!” the grunt shouted before disappearing into the gap with his Archeops.
N stared at what was left of the wall, not sure of what to think. He shook his head, planting his hand against his face. “This is ridiculous.” He looked over at GMP156, a bitter feeling rising in his heart. “I’ll try to sort all of this out later. For now, I just want to settle this issue with GMP156. Please leave so I can have some time to think.”
“Yes, my lord.” The man rose from his chair and shakily walked out of the door. Ghetsis shot N a dirty look before following him into the hall.
For once, the room was silent.
His head spinning, N stepped over to GMP156’s table. He hovered over the creature and gently slid his hand across its forehead, which was very cold to the touch. “Please wake up,” N cooed, “I’d like to have a talk.” To his dismay, the creature remained still. If GMP156 regains its consciousness, maybe I can get it to understand the situation. Until then, there’s nothing I can do but wait.
“Come on,” he coaxed, feeling powerless. He pulled a small piece of candy out of his pocket and dangled it over GMP156’s face. “Do you want some candy? It’s my favorite kind.” N suddenly remembered that the creature couldn’t eat. Frowning, he shoved the sweet back into his pocket. “What can I do to convince you to wake up?” The Pokémon didn’t respond.
N sighed hopelessly. This isn’t getting anywhere. GMP156 is definitely out cold. He reached to scratch the creature’s chin, when all of the sudden its dual pupils snapped into focus. GMP156 took one look at the king of Team Plasma and started thrashing violently. It thrust its thorax into the air and kicked madly, as if it were caught in a night terror. It screeched horribly as it fought against its constraints.
“Whoa,” N gasped, caught off guard. “Please calm down! You’re going to hurt yourself!”
GMP156 didn’t listen. It screamed at the top of its lungs, its voice like metal grating against metal. It smashed its head against the base of its cannon and twisted its body fiercely.
“Please,” N begged. He placed his palm on the top of GMP156’s head, attempting to comfort it. It shook viciously as it tried to throw off N’s hand. The young man pulled his arm back despondently. GMP156 obviously isn’t very happy. But if I were bound to a table like that, I would be pretty miserable myself. He glanced at the gaping hole the hybrid had made in the wall. I’d let it out, but then it would escape. That’s the last thing I want to happen.
The creature’s shrieks gradually grew quieter, and its movements less frenetic. Exhausted, its breath rapidly whistled through its closely spaced incisors. N gave GMP156 a friendly smile. “That’s a good girl,” he said softly. N didn’t know what gender the Pokémon was, but he thought he had heard the man with the coffee refer to it as a female.
GMP156 tiredly lifted its head, studying the Team Plasma leader with its unblinking red eyes. “Wrrllghhh,” it choked.
“Yeah, that’s right. I’m so sorry about this, GMP156.” N froze. “You don’t even have a name, do you? Just a jumble of letters and numbers… that isn’t right.” He wracked his brain for a decent name. A genetically modified insect… what about “Genesect”? That’s pretty uncreative, but it’s better than nothing. “I’ll call you Genesect. Do you like that?”
Genesect crowed quietly, rotating its shoulders.
N chuckled to himself. He then frowned, almost forgetting that the creature’s fate rested in his hands. His tone grew dark. “Genesect, I want to know what you think is best. Do you enjoy living in this laboratory? Do you like what you’ve become? Or do you want to be set free from your altered shape peacefully?”
Genesect stared past the young man, not even processing what he was saying. It longingly gazed at the crack in the wall, and began struggling again. It jerked its body to the side and slid its arm towards it, and to N’s surprise it popped out of its cuff. Now that it was partially free, it released its other arm with ease.
“Genesect, what are you doing?” the leader of Team Plasma cried. That wasn’t supposed to happen… but at least it won’t be able to fit its feet through the cuffs.
Genesect raised its upper body and stretched to claw at the cuffs around its legs. “No, stop!” N yelled. He fearfully tried to push the creature back onto the table, only for it to angrily slug him in the chest with the side of its arm. N staggered backwards, realizing in horror that there was nothing he could do to prevent Genesect from escaping.
Tiny slivers of metal drifted onto the table as Genesect desperately dug its claws into the cuffs. Once they had been weakened, the Pokémon kicked in frustration and they broke apart. Completely free, Genesect slid off of the table.
“Don’t,” N wheezed, his back pressed against the wall. “Please, Genesect.”
The creature glared at him as it took awkward steps toward the hole. Its upper body was hunched over, as if it couldn’t support the weight of the cannon on its back. It moved at a slow, wobbly pace, like it was walking for the first time. N watched wordlessly as Genesect crept out of the building.
What have I done? N slumped to the ground in defeat. This is all my fault. He could only imagine the consequences of releasing such a dangerous creature into the wild. Even worse was that Genesect didn’t appear to be able to fully handle its strength, nor did it seem to know how to properly function as a living creature.
Dusk had settled upon the forest, leaving the sky a dark shade of lavender. Tiny stars were visible through gaps in the boughs of the trees. The air had grown considerably cooler, making Destiny wish she was wearing a jacket. The hybrid hoped they would find the building soon; something was awfully unsettling about the idea of roaming the forest in the night. This is something I’ll probably have to get used to, she realized somberly. On the bright side, I’m not alone. I can’t imagine what I’d do if I was in this by myself.
Destiny was beginning to feel like a useless tagalong. Aurelia and Colby both had important roles to fulfill—Aurelia had declared herself leader of the ragtag group, and offered to guide the others with the experience she had gained as a Pokémon trainer. If she found her belongings in the building, she’d also be able to provide protection in the form of her well-trained Pokémon. Colby, a normal human, was the only one who could safely travel to the Poké Mart and retrieve food and whatever else they needed to survive. What did Destiny have to offer to the group? Absolutely nothing.
She was relieved to have finally found out the secret behind her transformation, but at the same time it puzzled her. Colby’s explanation had been very brief and hazy, and a number of questions still lingered in Destiny’s head. One of the things that confused her the most was what she had turned into. According to Colby, the hybrids had been fused with Legendary Pokémon. Even though Destiny knew very little about Pokémon, Legendary Pokémon were considered deities and just about everyone could identify most of them. Destiny was certain that there wasn’t a Legendary Pokémon that looked like a purple insect. Even if she was simply being forgetful, neither Aurelia nor Colby were able to recognize the creature she had changed into—and they were Pokémon trainers. Even more surprisingly, they both insisted that the creature wasn’t a Pokémon in the first place.
Destiny was honestly scared by the revelation that Team Plasma was set on hunting her down. She felt like a fugitive who had committed murder. She didn’t understand why Lynn had labeled the hybrids as threats—Destiny thought they were more likely to endanger themselves than hurt others. Colby had also mentioned that the hybrids were created in order to take down Team Plasma, but this came as news to Destiny. Whoever had been behind the creation of the hybrids obviously hadn’t informed them of their mission—or anything, for that matter. If the hybrids didn’t even know what their purpose was, why should Team Plasma bother trying to capture them?
Even though Aurelia had merely been tricking Lynn into letting her escape, her argument about whether it’s worth it to live as a hybrid led Destiny to question her state of mind. It was true—unless there was a way for her to turn back to normal, she’d spend the rest of her life wandering the wilderness in constant fear. What compelled her to keep living? Was it only because she feared death?
“I wonder if there’s any food in that building. I’m starving, and I don’t want to have to wait for Colby to fetch us something to eat,” Aurelia muttered. Destiny and her companions had begun their walk to the building. Destiny had no idea which direction it was in, but Aurelia seemed to know the way.
“I’m hungry, too,” Destiny mumbled in response. When was the last time she had eaten? She had no idea how long she had been away from home. It saddened her to think that she’d probably never see her parents again. If she was in a forest north of Mistralton City, her house wasn’t very far away—but Destiny knew that she could never go back there as a hybrid. Mom and Dad are probably worried sick… I wonder if they’re looking for me. I wish I could let them know that I’m all right.
“So, you woke up in a building?” Colby asked inquisitively.
“Yeah,” answered Destiny. “It beats me why there’s a building as large as that one out in the middle of nowhere. It reminded me of a recently abandoned hospital. I was in this huge room with a ton of other kids; I’m guessing they were all hybrids as well. All of them were asleep. It was weird.”
“I’m surprised we haven’t run into other hybrids,” Aurelia said. “Well, if we do, we’re not going to let them follow us around. Our group is large enough, and we don’t want to draw attention to ourselves.”
“Good point,” Destiny replied quietly. She was surprised to see that Aurelia was such a knowledgeable leader; judging by the pessimistic attitude she displayed in her Arceus form, Destiny expected her to drag the group behind. It was also awfully unlike her to care about the others. She probably realized just how important Colby is to our survival, so of course she’ll try to get along with him. I have a feeling she still doesn’t like me… I’m not very fond of her myself, but if she keeps acting like this, maybe I’ll gain a bit of respect for her.
“Well, here we are,” Aurelia announced. The large brick building loomed over the three of them, bringing back memories Destiny wished she could’ve forgotten. I can’t believe it hasn’t even been one day yet. It feels like I woke up in there forever ago. If Destiny had her way, she’d avoid the building at all costs. She got bad vibes from the structure and felt like there was something awfully ominous about it—this, of course, stemmed from the dread she had felt when she found herself there that morning.
Aurelia swept aside overgrown weeds as she led the others around the side of the building. “The door should be around here somewhere,” she stated. The Arceus hybrid grinned at the sight of a pair of sturdy doors and hurried to shove them open.
It’s a good thing the lights are on in this place. It’d be awful to snoop around here in the dark, Destiny thought as she stepped through the doorway. She stared down the long hallway, frowning as she remembered her struggle to find the way out earlier. “What are we going to do? Should we split up?”
“No, let’s stick together. If any of those Plasma goons or “aggressive” hybrids happen to be strolling around, we’ll need everyone’s support,” Aurelia responded. “Besides, whenever people split up in movies, something goes wrong.”
Destiny chuckled. “So you think fictional movies are a reliable source of survival tips?”
“Sorry. My brother used to watch movies all the time, and… forget it.” Aurelia rolled her eyes. “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to split up. This place is pretty big, so it’d take forever to search the entire thing if we didn’t go off on our own. And even if we were together, we’d still probably be screwed if we ran into something dangerous.” The Arceus hybrid gazed down the long hallway. “So, there are three wings. I’ll search this one, you can look through the one in the middle, and Colby can take the one at the far end. Sound like a plan?”
“Sure,” Destiny unenthusiastically murmured in agreement. I like how she claimed the wing closest to the exit for herself. Aurelia nodded assertively, and the three set off for their respective halls.
Destiny turned the corner and yanked open the first metal door she saw. She peered into the room curiously, and to her disappointment it was empty. The floor looked like it hadn’t been dusted in years, and the walls were covered in old glue stains. Yuck. Whoever turned us into hybrids certainly didn’t put a lot of care into keeping this place. Destiny walked over to the door across from the last room, and again, there was absolutely nothing inside.
After looking through several other rooms, Destiny noticed the heavy steel door that led to the room the hybrids had been assembled in. The door was still hanging open, just like it had been when she last saw it. I wonder if anyone’s still in there. The hybrid walked over to it and poked her head through the doorway.
Lying in the center of the room was what had once been a large, blue-furred Pokémon—Suicune, a Legendary Pokémon from the Johto region. Its eyes had glazed over and its tongue lolled out of its mouth. Blood had pooled around its body, dying parts of its fur a deep shade of red. The creature’s belly was sliced open and its innards had spilled onto the floor. A chunk of its neck had been torn away, revealing its battered spine.
A black, draconic creature stood over the slaughtered Suicune—a Zekrom. Dangling from its massive jaws were stringy strips of flesh and clumps of sky blue fur. It tossed its head back to swallow, and then dove into the Suicune’s body for another bite. The Zekrom clenched its teeth around a flap of skin and ripped it back, exposing a layer of bloody meat. Swiping its tongue around its jaws, it plunged its face into the corpse and ravenously devoured the Suicune’s flesh.
Destiny stared in horror, trying her best to avoid letting a scream escape her lips. The scene confused her almost as much as it terrified her. The two creatures were undoubtedly hybrids, and Destiny knew from experience that hybrids retained their human minds while transformed. Why in the world would a hybrid murder and cannibalize another hybrid?
The Zekrom raised its head, flaring its nostrils. It locked eyes with Destiny and bared its bloodstained teeth aggressively. Destiny fell backwards, finally releasing an earsplitting scream.
“What happened?” Aurelia’s voice rang out as she casually strolled up behind her. The dragon craned its neck and let out a monstrous roar, instantly catching the Arceus hybrid’s attention. “Well,” Aurelia mumbled flatly, “now I see what Lynn meant when she said hybrids could be dangerous.”
A thought suddenly surfaced in Destiny’s mind: Colby had mentioned that Lynn told him the Zekrom hybrid had been captured. Was it possible that the murderous black dragon wasn’t a hybrid? It’d make no sense for it to be anything else, but it also made no sense that a human-minded creature would eat one of its kind. “I don’t think that’s a hybrid,” she admitted bravely.
“Oh?” Aurelia knit her brows. “Why would you say that? Yeah, because the real Zekrom hasn’t been dead for centuries, and of course it would choose to hang out in a place crawling with kids who can turn into Legendary Pokémon.”
“Colby said Team Plasma caught the Zekrom hybrid,” Destiny explained, ignoring the Arceus hybrid’s sarcasm.
“Then there’s obviously more than one Zekrom hybrid,” Aurelia growled. “I think I know why it’s acting that way. When I was Arceus, there was a point where I blacked out for a few seconds. Well… that’s probably not the right term. I was fully conscious, but I wasn’t me. It was like Arceus was speaking through me. I don’t know how that would’ve worked, and I thought nothing of it. But after seeing this, it makes a little more sense. I think a hybrid’s Pokémon instincts take over sometimes. That Zekrom clearly isn’t in the right mind.”
“Does it even matter what it is and why it’s eating that other hybrid?” Destiny whimpered. “Shouldn’t we focus on getting away from it before it kills us, too?” The hybrid would’ve run away, but she didn’t want to leave Aurelia behind. I can’t believe her! She’s gawking at it like it’s an animal in a zoo! Hybrid or not, that thing butchered another hybrid! It’s like she’s ignoring that the Suicune was once a human being, and that it could’ve been one of us!
“It’s not interested in us,” Aurelia told her. “Think of it as an animal on the brink of starvation. It wouldn’t normally resort to killing and eating another Pokémon, but that’s what its hunger has driven it to do. It’s going to be protective of its kill, but it has no reason to attack us. As long as we leave it alone, we should be fine.” The Zekrom stepped over the corpse, fanning out its wings. Trumpeting loudly, it took lumbering gaits toward the door.
“You were saying?” Destiny cried, scooting away.
“All right, so maybe I’m not an expert on Pokémon behavior.” Aurelia slammed the door, not showing any sign of fear. “We should probably go now.” Before either of them had a chance to move, a paper-thin purple sheet slid out from under the door. It expanded into a gelatinous blob-shaped figure, and a simple face bubbled out of its center. The creature squeaked as stubby arms formed from its sides.
“Is that a Ditto?” Destiny squealed, watching as the Pokémon waved its arms happily.
“Okay, I guess you were right about it not being a hybrid. But what the hell is a Ditto doing in here?” The Ditto squirmed over to Aurelia, examining her with its beady eyes. “I had no idea Ditto were carnivorous. I guess their diets are as versatile as their appearances. It’s crazy to think this little guy was what we just saw chewing up that hybrid. He’s not so mighty now, is he? Maybe my theory was partially correct… he doesn’t look like he wants to eat us. In fact, he looks pretty friendly.”
He’s probably contemplating eating you, Destiny thought sullenly. Maybe this is why I didn’t become a trainer. I actually have common sense. Why would you want to be around creatures that might turn and bite your head off one day? The bonds humans supposedly make with Pokémon… how do they work? I don’t get it.
“Why is this thing staring at me? It’s making me uncomfortable,” Aurelia murmured, turning away from the Ditto. The Transform Pokémon crawled in front of her and started making cheerful purring sounds. It then stretched its amorphous body as it quickly molded itself into a bipedal figure. Destiny bit her lip when she immediately recognized several of the creature’s features—the Ditto had turned itself into the Pokémon she transformed into.
Is that really what I looked like? Destiny thought sickly, wincing as she scanned its bulging red eyes and toothy grin. I don’t blame Aurelia for making fun of me. How did I end up getting stuck as that monster? It’s not even a Legendary Pokémon. Why couldn’t I have been a Victini or a Latias?
“Hey, I think you’ve got the wrong person. Bug-girl’s over there.” Aurelia hastily pointed over her shoulder. “Wait a second. Ditto learn to transform into things by seeing them… how did this guy know what that thing looks like? I assumed he knew how to turn into Zekrom because he saw the Zekrom hybrid. Were you in here when you turned into the bug?”
“No, I was right where you found me,” Destiny whispered, alarmed. Could there have been more than one hybrid fused with that thing? Colby made it sound like there was only one of each.
“Huh,” Aurelia mumbled, crossing her arms. “I guess that thing isn’t as obscure as I thought. What the hell is it?” The Ditto glanced at Destiny, and then turned back to Aurelia. It tipped its head to the side in confusion. “Why is he so interested in me? It’s like he thinks I’m his trainer. I’d love to catch him, but I’m kind of still missing my bag. It’d be nice to own a Ditto like him… maybe I could train him to eat Plasma freaks.” Aurelia stepped away from the Ditto, only for it to follow her. “We need to keep looking. I wonder if Colby’s having any luck. How didn’t he hear you scream? I was probably the same distance away from you, and I felt like my eardrums were going to burst.”
watched silently as Aurelia strolled toward her wing with the Ditto behind her.
I really don’t feel comfortable being in
the same building as that man-eating glob of gelatin. He is acting unusually
friendly towards her, but I bet he’s just trying to catch her off guard. He’s
going to kill her… I know it. But how can we get rid of that thing? It can turn
into anything it’s seen, and luckily for us we happened to find it in a
building that was full of Legendary Pokémon! She stood up and hesitantly trudged
up to another metal door. If Aurelia
catches it, then we should have nothing to worry about. I really hope we find
her bag soon… I hate this place.
Ben found himself struggling for breath as he fled from Dragon and his Archeops—it soon became clear to him that Zekrom’s burly body wasn’t built for speed. He panted fiercely, his throat growing raw. To his enragement, he could hear Archeops’s shrill cries becoming louder and louder; the two were gaining on him. He snarled grumpily as he pressed forward, trying to quicken his pace.
How did I get myself into this mess? Ben still didn’t have a complete idea of why he was being chased. He wished the men from Team Plasma could’ve at least explained why he possessed the ability to turn into Zekrom; it made no sense for them to hide it. Ben hated the feeling of not knowing something. I wonder if I would’ve stood a chance if I tried to escape earlier. Heck, what am I saying? I’m Zekrom; now’s my best bet. The only problem is that I’m still a human on the inside. I haven’t adjusted to being in Zekrom’s body, and it feels unnatural.
“Give up now, hybrid!” Dragon bellowed. “You can’t outrun me; you’re already beginning to slow down. You’re only making things difficult for yourself.”
Ben came to an abrupt stop. He turned to face the Team Plasma grunt, his tongue hanging out of his mouth. Dragon was right—there was no way he could escape. “I just don’t get it,” he sighed hopelessly. Ben hadn’t been aware of his ability to speak through telepathy until his little slip-up in the P2 Laboratory. He still wasn’t sure what had triggered his normal thoughts to become audible, but it worried him slightly. Knowing the things I tend to think about, I’ll undoubtedly end up sharing something embarrassing. “You know what? I’ll let you capture me if you explain what’s going on. Please, Dragon, this is all I ask of you.”
The Team Plasma grunt slowed to a halt, and Archeops swooped down next to him once it noticed that its trainer had stopped running. “How should I know if I can trust you?” Dragon inquired, staring up at the panting Zekrom.
Ben bared his teeth. “After everything that happened in the laboratory, do you really think I’m going to lie to you? If it wasn’t obvious, I hate when people trick and deceive each other. I should be the one worrying about someone keeping their word. You Team Plasma people seem like a pretty dubious lot.”
Dragon sighed, as if something were secretly bothering him. “To be honest, I’m not sure who I can trust anymore. Everything is coming as a shock to me… I thought Ghetsis was a respectable member of Team Plasma. I can’t believe all of this stuff was done behind our leader’s back. I don’t even know if I’m doing the right thing now; it was Ghetsis who issued this assignment.”
“Is Ghetsis the creepy guy with the eyepiece? He’s pretty suspicious looking to begin with. I wouldn’t want to run into him in a dark alley.” The Zekrom wrinkled his nose. “And I take it the kid with the long hair is the leader? That’s surprising; you’d think it would be the other way around. Team Plasma is pretty messed up, by the looks of it.”
“Yeah, that’s right,” said Dragon. “I’ve heard that they’re father and son, but I don’t know if that’s true or not. I’m also not sure why Lord N is the king of Team Plasma. He raised a good point when you were transforming; if Ghetsis wanted to do all these crazy things, he should’ve made himself leader. Maybe then I would’ve avoided this mess entirely.”
“It would make sense if they were related. I was wondering why they both had green hair,” Ben snorted. “So, his name is “N”? Is that short for something?”
“His real name is Natural,” Dragon told him dully.
Ben produced a growling noise that resembled a chuckle. “Natural? Geez, poor kid. That’s even worse than “Dragon”. Definitely sounds like something that Ghetsis creep would name his child.” He froze once his laughter had faded away. “As interesting as this Team Plasma stuff is, I’m still waiting for you to explain what the heck is wrong with me and why Ghetsis wanted you to hunt me down.”
“All right, fine.” Dragon rolled his eyes, seemingly annoyed with the hybrid. “A scientist betrayed Team Plasma, and he decided to create an army of humans who could change into Legendary Pokémon to try to destroy our organization. Instead of gathering up volunteers, he kidnapped a bunch of teenagers, and you were one of them. He injected you with this crazy formula that fused you with Zekrom. We captured the scientist, but we couldn’t find any of you hybrids; it should be pretty clear why we’re set on capturing them. I somehow ended up catching the first hybrid, which was you, of course.”
Ben kept silent for a moment. “Is that so? Well, I can sort of understand the guy’s intentions—Team Plasma certainly deserves to be shut down. But that’s a little extreme, isn’t it? Why in the world would you drag random kids into something like this? Why would anyone think it’d be a good idea to fuse a bunch of teenagers with Legendary Pokémon? I can’t imagine what would happen if some of the kids I’ve met were given that much power. And all of this was because he was angry at a silly little organization? Scientists are supposed to be intelligent people; I’m sure he could’ve formulated a much more realistic strategy.” He wondered if Dragon was actually telling the truth. The hybrid thought he sounded sincere, but he also thought that Team Plasma was untrustworthy in general. Unless he’s faking it, he’s already shown that he’s not on the same side as Ghetsis and Dudley. If he’s faking it, he’ll be sorry.
Dragon shrugged. “I’m just as confused as you are. Is there anything else you’d like to know?”
“Well, there’s something I’m a bit curious about,” the Zekrom admitted. “How do you feel about this whole hybrid hunting business? Even if it’s not what your leader wanted, do you think it’s the right thing to do? What are your thoughts on the hybrids in general?”
Dragon lowered his gaze to the ground. “I don’t know what to think anymore.”
Ben waited for the grunt to say more, and frowned when he didn’t. “Is that the best answer you can give me? You’re not making a lot of sense. When we first met, you seemed pretty eager to take me down, but now you seem a bit more hesitant. What I don’t understand is why you’re still trying to capture me. Why would you want to finish a mission Ghetsis gave you? There has to be a reason for this.”
The Team Plasma grunt glared at the hybrid. “You just want me to let you go, don’t you?”
Ben shook his head. “No, no. I’m genuinely confused. Please enlighten me.”
Dragon looked away from Ben. “Look. There’s a chance than N might want you captured. You saw how he reacted when he found out about GMP156; he’ll probably feel the same way about you. Ghetsis was right when he compared that Pokémon to the hybrids.”
“Whatever you say,” Ben muttered. There was something strange about the way the grunt was acting; maybe he really didn’t know what he was doing. It was also possible that he didn’t know how to express what was on his mind. Dragon was a quiet, reserved person, and he only spoke if he needed to. It probably wouldn’t be an easy task to get him to share his feelings, so Ben decided it wasn’t worth the trouble to try. “I guess that’s all I wanted to hear. Now, for my end of the deal… let’s go see if you’re right about N.”
Dragon let out a deep breath. “Good. Let’s get moving.” He flashed Ben a distrustful glance before turning and walking back towards the laboratory. “You’d better not try anything. Archeops will be keeping an eye on you.” The Pokémon shrieked and glided up behind the Zekrom.
Ben made a grumbling noise as he began to follow the grunt. “I can’t believe you still think I’d do something like that. I understand why you’d want to be skeptic, but c’mon! What can I do to make you trust me? You should know how I act by now. I haven’t fought back or tried to run away once.”
“Oh, you think so?” Dragon had a mild look of amusement on his face. “What do you call busting out of the P2 Laboratory? Don’t give me any excuses; I could hear what you were thinking.”
Ben gritted his teeth. “Okay, you win. But that was one time, right? I didn’t fight back when you were trying to knock me out of the sky, and I didn’t struggle when you were dragging me to the laboratory.”
“Well, I hope you’re being honest. Even if you’re not, I’m still at an advantage.”
“I ought to learn how to put Zekrom’s powers to use. I figured out how to fly and harness electricity, but it’s not easy. Your Archeops makes everything look so simple.” He looked over his shoulder at Dragon’s Pokémon. “How in the world do you do it?”
Archeops released a hostile growl and fluffed the feathers around its neck. Even his Pokémon doesn’t trust me, Ben thought grouchily. He was disappointed that he couldn’t communicate with other Pokémon, but he felt it made sense. It would be weird if I gained the ability to understand what Pokémon are saying, considering that my transformations only seem to affect my physical body. That explains why I can only speak through telepathy; Zekrom’s vocal capacities must limit it to growling and roaring. I wonder if Archeops can understand me… do all Pokémon speak the same language? I’m curious as to what the noises I’ve been making translate to. That could explain why Archeops doesn’t like me.
“Seeing as there’s a chance that N will want to have you killed, you shouldn’t worry about it,” Dragon remarked grimly.
“Oh yeah, there’s something I forgot to ask you. What’s the purpose of Team Plasma? What are they trying to do?” Ben had heard N mention that GMP156 went against everything the organization stood for—did Team Plasma want to ensure the welfare of Pokémon? The hybrid thought that was a reasonable goal, but why would the traitorous scientist want to put an end to an organization with good intentions?
“We want to liberate Pokémon from humans,” Dragon explained. “Our ultimate goal is to completely separate humans and Pokémon.”
“Ha, I guess the guy who turned me into a hybrid had a pretty good sense of humor. Humans combined with Pokémon? That’s gotta be the ultimate violation of Team Plasma’s policies— looks like he was trying to add insult to injury.” Ben had conflicted feelings toward Team Plasma’s goals. He agreed with their desire to support the wellbeing of Pokémon, but he thought it was ridiculous that they wanted to take Pokémon away from humans. I can see why that would be controversial. I think both sides of this little war are very misguided, but they each have a point. If someone wise stepped up and took charge, I’m sure they’d be led in the right direction. “Now, hang on a second. If you’re trying to free Pokémon from humans, why do you have a Pokémon? Isn’t that a bit hypocritical?”
Dragon sighed as if he had gone through this conversation several times before. “A lot of people ask us about that. Truth is, we need Pokémon to accomplish our mission. Once we’ve succeeded, we’ll release our Pokémon.”
“I think you’re failing to realize just how important Pokémon are to us. I mean, you outright stated that Team Plasma depends on Pokémon. If you can’t even meet your goals without using Pokémon, how do you expect things to work out when you’re done? It’s silly.” The Zekrom glanced at Archeops again. “You and Archeops seem to share a very close bond. Do you really think you’ll be able to release him if Team Plasma succeeds?”
“The building’s right up ahead,” Dragon announced, ignoring Ben’s questions.
“Uh, hello? Did you hear a word I just said?” the hybrid hissed in frustration.
“I’m done answering questions,” the grunt grumbled. “Besides, we’re already here. Let’s go have a talk with Lord N.” He stepped up to the hole Ben had kicked in the wall and strolled through it.
“In other words, you don’t want to admit to being a hypocrite.” Ben reluctantly shoved himself through the gap. This kid really irritates me. He doesn’t even attempt to justify his ludicrous beliefs and actions. The Zekrom swiveled his head around, taking in the sights of the laboratory. He immediately noticed that GMP156 was missing from the table. Where did it go? Did N kill it? What did he do with its body? He felt a tinge of sadness; he wanted GMP156 to be freed, but this wasn’t what he had in mind. During his brief encounter with the creature, he thought it was fascinating—he would’ve liked to see what it was capable of when conscious. I don’t think killing it was a very good solution. I’m sure N could’ve worked something out if he kept it alive. He may be an extremist, but he seems knowledgeable about Pokémon.
N had flattened himself against the wall, a stressed look on his face. Dragon approached him cautiously. “Is something troubling you, Lord N?” The grunt appeared to be unaware of GMP156’s absence, but Ben figured his concern for his leader outweighed his concern for the Pokémon.
Pulling at his hair, N choked, “I let Genesect escape.”
“Genesect?” Dragon repeated warily. He turned to face the table in the center of the room. “You mean GMP156?”
N heaved a heavy sigh. “Yes, I’m sorry. I just thought it’d be more respectful if I gave her a proper name. I was trying to talk with her; I wanted to know what she thought. For a moment, I thought she understood what I was saying. But then she started struggling and clawing at her chains. I tried to stop her, but she attacked me. There was nothing I could do—she just got up and went outside.” He lowered his cap over his face. “I should’ve done something. This was a terrible mistake.”
“Are you all right? Did it hurt you?” Dragon asked nervously.
“It’s probably just a bruise. I’ll be fine. I’m more worried about Genesect.” Ben thought it was strange that N was ignoring his presence. Was Genesect really that important to him? He was pretty freaked out when he saw me transform into Zekrom, but now he’s acting like I don’t exist. This N character is a very strange person.
“Well, we’re on an island. Genesect couldn’t have gotten very far, unless it can swim,” Dragon explained, trying to calm the hassled leader.
“She can fly for short distances, apparently. I’m not sure what “short distances” equates to, and that’s what worries me. What if her jets short out when she’s flying over water? Or what if she manages to reach the mainland? I don’t know anything about what this creature is capable of. It’s also possible that she doesn’t even know how to fly, which would be very fortunate for everyone.” The hybrid wondered why N was worried about Genesect drowning. Didn’t he want it to be killed? He should be thankful; if anything, it’s a convenience. Then again, drowning has got to be a pretty awful way to go, and he wanted its death to be humane.
“I can get Archeops to survey the area,” the grunt offered. “I’ll make sure Genesect is out of harm’s way. You can count on me!” He gestured toward the Zekrom. “My lord, now that that’s being taken care of, are you going to deal with this hybrid?”
Ben grinned uneasily when N turned his attention to him. The king of Team Plasma bit his lip anxiously. “Yes, I suppose that’s a more pressing matter at the moment.”
“I’ll be off, then.” Dragon nodded. “Let’s do this, Archeops.” The birdlike Pokémon cawed gloomily and glided after its trainer as he exited the building again. The poor thing must be exhausted. The trip to the P2 Laboratory was super long, and on top of that he had to carry Dragon on his back and me in his mouth. At least I don’t weigh a lot, Ben thought. I’m pretty tired myself. I could use a nice, long nap… but if Dragon’s right about this, I’ll get more rest than I would ever wish for.
The room was cluttered. Stacks of papers and files sat on the floor, collecting dust. Empty beakers were carelessly strewn about a stainless steel counter in the corner. A crinkled paper bag and a tattered journal rested on top of another table.
Colby shut the door as he strolled in, marveling at what lay in front of him. What is all of this stuff? He curiously grabbed one of the beakers. Holding it up to his face, he gazed through it like it was a kaleidoscope. This is like a mad scientist’s laboratory! The young trainer picked up a pile of papers and shuffled through it absently, confused by the convoluted vocabulary. He speedily skimmed through the words, occasionally picking up appropriately familiar terms such as “formula” and “hybrid”. It didn’t take long for the boy to realize he was reading documents about the creation of the hybrids.
According to his friends, this was where the hybrids had woken up that morning. Was this only an abandoned building their creator hid them in, or had he created them there as well? All of the evidence seemed to point to the latter, which caused a glimmer of an idea to surface in his head: What if there was some of the formula left over? His childish dream of becoming a Pokémon hybrid might’ve been in reach.
The boy’s inquisitive gaze instantly flew over to the paper bag. What could this be? He crept up to it and gave it a small shake, as if it were another one of his birthday presents. Slowly, he pulled the bag open and reached inside. His fingers closed around something smooth and cylindrical, and he withdrew it in elation. Tightly gripped in his hand was a syringe filled with oily liquid, which couldn’t have been anything but the fabled formula.
“Oh, Arceus!” he choked to himself, staring at the syringe in disbelief. “Is this… is this really it?” In his hand, Colby held a gateway—the difference between the life he had always led, and a thrilling new opportunity. He never thought he’d be able to get his hands on a sample of this formula, and there it was, sitting right in front of him. This is too good to be true. Is there any way I can make sure this is really what I think it is? The trainer’s eyes landed on the journal, which had been flipped open to a page near the middle. He read through the messy cursive excitedly, skipping over every other word.
The Legendary Lugia of Johto is a highly intelligent creature that dwells at the bottom of the ocean, for it fears it may not be able to control its inconceivable power. Associated with typhoons and mighty winds, Lugia is a serene, elusive beast that hides itself from civilization. It is considered a blessing when Lugia breaches, as it is such a rarity. Very few people have managed to see Lugia in their lifetimes.
Dr. Melissa H. Kinsey is an esteemed Lugia expert who works at a coastal research facility located in the Whirl Islands. She and her team have tracked and studied the sea beast for years, and they have managed to obtain a sample of its DNA. Dr. Kinsey has taken an interest in my research and she has volunteered both herself and Lugia’s data for my project. She will become the first successful human-Pokémon hybrid. I am very confident in this batch of the formula—I have perfected it, freed it from any flaws. Under normal circumstances, it would be incredibly risky to work with a Pokémon with an internal skeleton, but there is no need to worry. Dr. Kinsey will be very pleased with the results.
I’m certain that my love will be pleased as well.
Colby held his breath in astonishment, lifting his head from the notebook. This is it, Colby concluded, his eyes wide with awe. He swirled the syringe around in his hand, mesmerized. According to the journal, this small vial would fuse him with the powerful Lugia. The trainer could already picture himself in the form of the impressive white Pokémon. He tried to imagine what it would be like to effortlessly soar among the clouds and gracefully dive into the sea, or whip up tempests with a flap of his wings. He seemed to ignore all the dangers and hardships that went along with being a hybrid.
Pulling out Sandile’s Poké Ball, he exclaimed, “Come on out! You won’t want to miss this!” His Pokémon appeared on the ground and tilted its head to the side, giving him a shifty look. “I’m going to be a Pokémon, just like you! How cool is that?” The Desert Croc Pokémon scuttled behind him, clearly not sharing his enthusiasm.
Unconcerned, Colby stretched out his left arm and held the syringe over the crook of his elbow. Is this how you do it? I remember seeing bandages over Destiny and Aurelia’s arms. Something suddenly occurred to the boy, and he hesitated before the tip touched his skin. In his exhilaration, the reason he was in the room in the first place had completely slipped from his mind. As a normal human, he was the only one who could provide Aurelia and Destiny with food or anything else they needed. They relied on him; he was a vital part of the group. If Colby became a hybrid, he’d be in the same boat as they were. Could he really let his friends down like that? He had already failed them once—what would happen if he made a daring move like this?
The boy narrowed his eyes, another thought crossing his mind. I think I deserve to make this choice. I know I offered to help them, but Aurelia and Destiny expect me to follow them around and buy them food for Arceus knows how long. They never asked if I was okay with that. It’s like they think I’m their personal servant. It’s true: I want to help them. I just wish they’d let me make my own decisions, so maybe I’d be able to think of something that would let me help them and pursue my dreams. Now I have a chance to think for myself and do what I want. Destiny and Aurelia aren’t here, so they can’t stop me. Closing his eyes defiantly, he grimaced as he shoved the needle into his arm. He pushed on the plunger, releasing the formula into his body. Once the vial had been drained, the trainer winced as he pulled the needle out and set the syringe on the counter.
“Ow,” he hissed, clutching his sore arm as an acute buzzing sensation began spreading through his body. Is it happening already? Am I starting to transform? Colby inquired mentally, clenching his teeth. No wonder Destiny and Aurelia hate this so much. It really hurts! The feeling continued to sharpen in his left arm, intensifying until the irritating buzz shifted into all-out pain. He examined his hand, and to his revulsion it was beginning to swell. What is this? Colby cried in his head. When Destiny and Aurelia transformed, their skin color was always the first thing to change. This isn’t right at all! What’s going on? Although Aurelia and Destiny displayed discomfort when they morphed, it seemed very different from the agony the boy was beginning to experience.
The skin on his hand was stretching, growing tauter and paler until it was nearly transparent. Colby could see milky white bones underneath it, and realized at once that they were the cause of the swelling. Why is this happening? His skeletal hand suddenly broke through his skin, and a steady stream of scarlet blood trickled down his arm. Arceus… Arceus! Colby, who was too petrified to scream, toppled onto his back and was met with a muffled squeal and a crunch. The trainer didn’t care that he had fallen on top of his Pokémon. Nothing mattered—the only thing that was real to him was the pain.
Colby’s bony fingers continued to elongate as the swelling spread across his arms and to his chest. He could only watch as his torso ballooned outward, rising as his ribs enlarged and his sternum forced it up. His chest finally split open, the flaps of flesh snapping back like strips of elastic. His still pulsating organs were exposed to the building’s stale air, which was ripe with the nauseating stench of fresh blood. A dark red pool was beginning to form beneath his body, soaking his clothes and drenching the unmoving Sandile.
The vertebrae in his neck lengthened and expanded, ripping Colby’s head from his shoulders and propelling it upward. A thick spray of blood exploded from his neck stump as his arteries were severed, and the sheer force of the tug caused his esophagus to snap in half like a frayed cable. At the same time, the coccyx at the opposite end of his spine extended into a powerful tail and tore through his backside.
His skull shifted into a crested snout and burst through his face, ripping through his chin and upper lip and drawing the soft tissue at the sides of his mouth apart. Colby’s eyeballs flaccidly rolled into cavernous sockets, and a spiked protrusion burst through his scalp. His skin peeled back and drooped down his face as his cranium continued to widen.
It was impossible to tell when Colby’s life had finally been yanked away from him, but all that remained of the boy was the perfectly formed skeleton of a Lugia rising from his tattered, mutilated remains like an insect that had emerged from its cocoon.
A journey begins and a journey ends; that is inevitable. Whether the goal is met is an entirely different story, however. The aspiring young trainer’s hopes and ambitions had been slaughtered and crushed, just like the Sandile his body rested upon. Colby’s persistent lack of proper judgment had already gotten him into trouble today, and now he had paid the ultimate price for his folly.
The experiment was conducted. It was a failure. Dr. Kinsey… My eyes have seen things no human should ever have to witness, or experience for that matter. I promised her it would work, and she trusted me. I was too confident, too sure of myself. How could I have created this poison with my own hands? Now I’m just like them: a monster, a monster that corrupts and destroys innocent people. But unlike them, my work isn’t “authorized”. I’m practically a criminal, a murderer—it isn’t fair. I have no choice but to continue my project in hiding, like a fugitive. I’ve stationed myself in an abandoned trainers’ school deep within the forest north of Mistralton—I’m sure this building has faded from the memories of everyone in the Unova region. After what happened to Dr. Kinsey, there’s no way I can look for volunteers. I’ll have to resort to a more tactical approach.
I still don’t
understand what I did wrong. Everything was perfect, flawless. There’s only one
tiny thing I can think of, and it will be a challenge to meet the requirements.
But I will keep working on this project until I get it right, no matter what I
have to go through. To me, it’s worth it. Team Plasma will be sorry for what
they did to her.