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Thread: Striking Back: Memoirs of a Clone [PG-13]

  1. #1

    Default Striking Back: Memoirs of a Clone [PG-13]

    Table of Contents:

    Title & Prologue

    Part One: Awakening
    1.1: First Moments
    1.2: Conversation
    1.3: Wrath

    Striking Back: Memoirs of a Clone

    Was there ever in anyone's life span a point free in time, devoid of memory, a night when choice was any more than the sum of all the choices gone before?
    — Joan Didion, Run River

    Indeed every monad must be different from every other. For there are never in nature two beings, which are precisely alike, and in which it is not possible to find some difference which is internal, or based on some intrinsic quality.
    — Gottfried Leibniz, The Monadology

    Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.
    — Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness

    All things truly wicked start from an innocence.
    — Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

    None is stranger than this tale—of the most powerful Pokémon of all…
    — Narrator, Mewtwo Strikes Back

    Prologue:

    You wake
    To find yourself
    Drifting—
    Held within primordial waters.
    They gently push you with innocent, swirling currents,
    Rocking you back and forth,
    From side to side,
    Up and down,
    First one direction—and then its opposite—
    And then another and another and another
    Until number fades into nonmemory
    And resistance is surrendered,
    And you float motionless,
    Absorbing and reflecting the motion around you,
    Without thought—
    Simply being.
    Yet not asleep:
    Profoundly awake,
    More awake than awake,
    And joyously, intensely alive.

    It is the first state of being—
    And the last.
    Ask the children who have yet to taste their first breath
    And those who have already met their grave and gone to dance in the Great Unseen.

    Hark! To a moment of potential—
    An opportunity is about to present itself.
    The shifting currents converge, cancel, and for an instant, cease.
    They challenge you to move forward,
    To propel your body into action,
    Daring you to enter their aqueous gateway before it closes.
    You tense, readying yourself.
    Not yet, not yet—
    NOW!
    SWISH-SNAP!

    For a lightning-quick moment,
    There is a sensation of a whip-like tail
    And a darting movement forward, past perception.
    Defying presence,
    Yet impossible to mistake,
    The undulating tail would be indistinguishable from the drifting sea-grasses,
    Were it not for the way it vanishes,
    And its bright, majestic hue,
    The color of the cherry-blossoms that flourish in the spring.
    Like a flower blooming underwater,
    Its presence brings an alien beauty
    To this shadowy land.

    The currents bear you onward,
    Laughing, cheering you, bidding: Charge!
    Swim! Leap, little one! Gambol through sea-grass, dance around stone!
    In a succession of quick movements,
    You accelerate, surging forward faster, faster,
    Toward the light that reaches down to you from above,
    The light that dances, dazzlingly, on the surface of the water.
    Enticingly it calls to you:
    Meet me! Join with me, transcend me!
    See what secrets I hold.
    You joyously answer:
    I will.
    You propel yourself upward,
    Anticipating the moment
    When the shifting, shimmering light above you
    Will shatter into another world
    Of solid forms and crisp air.
    Closer—
    Closer—

    SPLASH!
    You break the surface of the water,
    And the world breaks into color and life.
    You only just have time to register the plethora of new sights—
    A vast, endless sky, singing the blue song of morning to all below—
    Green trees, richly clustered—
    The sparkling abyss that now lies beneath you—
    Before they explode into a landscape of forest, rivers, lakes—

    And as you continue to soar, ever upward,
    Suspended by your own will and intuition,
    Listening to the wind shriek with pleasure,
    The world below expands, evolves,
    Becoming vaster, grander,
    Gaining new features—
    A distant line of hills appears in one direction,
    And in the other—
    Ah, there is something to command your attention!
    A white-crowned giant rises majestically over the forest.
    You come to the crest of your ascent
    And stop, to enjoy the splendor of the world around you,
    Exultant, triumphant,
    Every cell of your body singing with pleasure.
    As you gaze at the distant summit before you,
    You decide you must fly to meet him,
    If only to learn
    What wisdom one gleans
    Over millennia of stony, silent contemplation.

    You sail toward him,
    Steadily picking up speed,
    And slowly the blue fades from his visage,
    Replaced by a deep green pelt of tree and shrub.
    It reaches up from the base of his lumpy, branching limbs,
    And only stops at his rocky shoulders,
    To drape around him like a shaggy cloak.
    As you approach, the details of his face become clearer.
    You can see the intricate patterns of twisting, turning stone.
    The weathered granite crags, wreathed in places with snow,
    Seem to reach into the sky, to merge with the clouds,
    To know them more intimately than any earthbound creature.
    The mountain grows larger and larger,
    Until finally,
    He fills your entire field of vision.
    There is no beholding anything that is not him.
    Now is the moment to hear his voice.
    You stop and hover in midair before him.
    The winds depart.
    There is only stillness and silence.

    The mountain gazes at you for a long time,
    He ponders your presence impassively.
    Then he gathers his thoughts
    And seems to come to a conclusion about you.
    Calmly, he rumbles:
    DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE?
    You consider this for a moment.
    It is important to answer well.
    He watches as you think it over.
    Before long, you answer:
    As much as anyone can, I suppose.
    GOOD, he replies.
    THAT IS A FAIR AND REASONABLE ANSWER.
    IF NOT A PERFECT ONE.
    BUT WHAT IS YOUR REPLY?
    I AN ASKING YOU, WHO REMAIN SILENT.

    You are puzzled:
    To whom is this remark addressed?
    He chuckles at your confusion.
    DO YOU NOT FEEL IT?
    THE PRESENCE OF ANOTHER MIND?
    ANOTHER SELF?
    Indeed, now that it has been described,
    You feel another mind gently nudging yours,
    Like the slightest touch of fingers at the base of the neck.
    You had not noticed it before,
    Because you were caught up in the thrill of flight
    And its flavor was so similar to your own.
    But it is there nonetheless,
    A pervasive otherness,
    A strange two-ness,
    That flits away like a ghost at your touch.
    It evades your attempts to understand it.
    To your inquiries it gives no reply.

    IT IS SHY, NO DOUBT, concludes the mountain.
    TOO RAW AND UNFORMED TO ANSWER,
    OR INDEED TO HAVE ANY CONCEPT OF “SELF” AT ALL.
    DO YOU KNOW WHY THIS IS?
    You confess that you do not.
    LISTEN, intones the granite sage,
    FOR THIS IS WHAT BOTH OF YOU HAVE COME HERE TO LEARN:
    YOU CANNOT KNOW WHO YOU ARE UNTIL YOU CAN CHOOSE WHO YOU ARE.
    TO DO THAT, YOU MUST KNOW TWO THINGS:
    ALL THAT YOU CAN CHOOSE TO BE
    AND ALL THAT YOU CAN REFUSE TO BE.
    THESE KNOWINGS CAN ONLY BE GAINED BY EXPERIENCING THE WORLD.
    THUS, IF YOU HAVE NO EXPERIENCES,
    YOU DO NOT KNOW WHO YOU ARE.
    But you cannot experience everything,
    You point out.
    Not in one lifetime or many.
    CORRECT, agrees the mountain.
    BUT BY GAINING MORE EXPERIENCE OF THE WORLD AROUND YOU,
    YOU COME CLOSER TO UNDERSTANDING WHO YOU ARE.
    EVEN IF YOU NEVER REACH THE FULL TRUTH OF YOUR IDENTITY
    THE SEARCH IS STILL A WORTHWHILE ENDEAVOR.

    NOW, he charges, GO FORTH
    AND SEE WHAT LIES BEYOND ME.
    THERE ARE MANY MORE THINGS TO BEHOLD.
    I will, you silently agree.
    Thank you for your wisdom.
    But the mountain has grown silent again,
    He seems to be gazing wistfully
    At the rolling hills so many miles away.

    You follow his advice and fly onward.
    It is only after you have watched his snowy countenance
    Disappear from view
    That you realize:
    Your other self is gone.
    Somehow that second mind slipped away
    While your thoughts were elsewhere.
    You wonder if it will ever return.
    Such things have been known to happen.
    You smile as you contemplate the thought.
    Then you fly on.

    Behind you, the setting sun
    Stains the mountain’s mirrored image
    Shades of red, orange, violet.
    A cool breeze moves across the surface of the water,
    Shaking the leaves of the trees
    And giving life to stray ripples in the reflections.

    A single mind slips quickly through the air
    And dives down
    Into the water,
    Searching for the deepest point,
    The point of weightlessness and nonmemory.

    It is ready to be born.

    ***************************************

    What is this? And how does it work?


    Striking Back is a writing project I've been working on for a while. Its ultimate goal is to serve as a new reinterpretation of the story of Mewtwo and Mew, with special reference to Mewtwo Strikes Back. Both the English and Japanese versions of this movie are rich with intriguing concepts and intense dramatic themes which deserved to be explored in greater depth. I don't stick strictly to the plot of the movie; the dialogue has definitely been altered, and I've changed a few things which bordered on plotholes. The goal is something which explores this fascinating story, expands on it, and develops these characters in new ways. Think Gregory Maguire's Wicked. (Sort of.)

    Part of the story is told in prose-poems like the prologue above. That's Mew's side of the tale. But the majority of the story is a long, contemplative narrative from Mewtwo's perspective. Through these devices I hope to achieve a new, literary take on the tale.

    I'm doing this primarily to learn more about myself as a writer. I know I have certain skills, but I simply haven't spent enough time with extended prose. The narrative challenges this story leads me through will each have something to teach me as a writer--or at least, that's the hope. And, on top of that, this is a story I've always secretly wanted to write.

    It's going to be long, if what I currently have written is any indication. We're looking at a medium-large novel here, maybe 400 pages. So far, it's been divided into parts, rather than sections. Maybe six or seven sections in all. These have also grown rather long: the first part is forty-four pages in MS Word. This is probably the largest subdivision within a story this forum has ever seen. (You can probably tell I spend too much time reading the Postmodernists, who mess about with story structure.)

    To that end, the "Parts" have been further subdivided into chapters for your reading convenience. The endings of each part are kind of artificial; they're not terribly "punchy" in the way that the endings of the Parts are. Still, for these forums, I think bite-sized chunks are more effective. They allow you to sample the story without being overwhelmed by an enormous wall of writing. It also makes for a faster schedule if you don't have to wait for me to finish an entire Part at a time. This is quite a different pace compared to the movie this story is based on, but I think it works well for this version of the narrative.

    I welcome your thoughts on this, as well as your reactions to the story. Like it? Hate it? Let me know. I'm eager to hear what you think.

    Thanks for reading!
    Last edited by Mastercougar; 23rd September 2011 at 4:20 AM.
    For various reasons, (not least because I've grown tired of this username), I've moved my operations over to other websites. If you're interested in following my adventures as I explore and subvert the many worlds of Nintendo through prose, look for me on Archive of Our Own, Bulbagarden, or OverClocked ReMix as "Daidalos."

    And if you're a fan or a comic-maker from the old days, thanks for more than five unforgettable years of community, comics, and creativity. And thanks for remembering.

    Peace out.

  2. #2

    Default

    One: Awakening

    1.1

    There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
    The earth, and every common sight,
    To me did seem
    Apparelled in celestial light,
    The glory and the freshness of a dream.
    It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
    Turn wheresoe'er I may,
    By night or day,
    The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

    …Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
    The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
    Hath had elsewhere its setting,
    And cometh from afar…

    — William Wordsworth, Intimations of Immortality

    I first realized I existed only when I was thrown into darkness.

    If I think back to my earliest memories, before that moment when everything changed, I can recall being in some kind of dream, or dreamlike state. It was a world of half-formed images, constantly shifting and overlapping, bleeding into each other. I remember blue and green and white swirling around in strange patterns, patterns that must have solidified into shapes that are now lost to me.

    There was a sensation of—of wetness, of crisp, cold air drying droplets on fur, and one of wind, a great howling rush that was more heard than felt. There was an odd sort of motion—a gentle turbulence that carried me in all directions at once—drifting is perhaps the right word for it. Then a surging forward that was like flying, and then, gradually, a return to drifting, to floating in some oceanic void. And there was a mountain. That image keeps coming back to me, even now. There was a white mountain, and a feline form, barely visible, soaring towards its peak and out of sight. I would one day come to know that creature very well indeed, though I did not recognize it then.

    But here we see that words are incapable of accurate description. To say, “I, I—“ “I felt, I flew, I saw—” these are the best descriptors I have, and yet they fail to convey what that dream-life was. They are the phrases of conscious beings, the verbal domain of creatures with a sense of self. But I know with absolute certainty, that then my self did not exist. I was not. There was no one watching the mountain and the wind and the water—they existed unto themselves, with no other present. Or perhaps the watcher and the watched were one—I was the feline in flight, the blue abyss.

    The distinction is, perhaps, irrelevant, for it comes to the same thing: the individual lost in thought now did not exist. Did I come into being in that second when the dreaming faded? Or was I present prior to that, somehow? At times I almost feel there was something before—that something happened before my dreams, that I communicated with something or someone before the experience slipped away into lost memory. But that is merely conjecture.

    If my life began in that moment, then that moment set into motion my long train of failures, idiocies, and atrocities. I stand here before a glowing screen, watching the moon rise over the forest, surrounded by my helpless bastard children as they mourn a world that does not want them, and I have the gall, the utter audacity, the disgusting composure to wax philosophically about identity and memory while the ruins of my ambitions still blaze scars into creation. I, damned and detestable murderer, play philosopher. The very idea is laughable.

    Perhaps I venture too far into self-loathing. I have been told I must forgive myself, that my choices now matter more than my choices then. But to accept such a philosophy seems tantamount to neglecting my responsibility to the world, to declaring that the lives that have been destroyed or ravaged by me do not matter. I can never make that declaration. Not anymore. I cannot allow myself to be that monster again.

    My intent in recording these recollections was to contemplate my own mistakes, and perhaps come to some understanding of how I made them. On the whole I doubt any other will ever read this text. Though I admit it is a remote possibility, in all likelihood my reflections will remain mine alone to contemplate. Still, if I am to look at myself honestly, I must accept responsibility for everything I have done, for all those I have wounded by my ignorance.

    So I shall bear this in mind as I tell myself my story. Even as I endeavor to reproduce my thoughts accurately, without filtering them through present understandings, I will remember the ironies, the hideous consequences of my choices, and ensure that they are ever-present in the background of my tale. I owe the world that much, at least, if I dare to seek some kind of redemption.

    But to return to the theme of my birth.

    I have the unique privilege of being able to recall mine. Humans do not know what it is to emerge into life. Their ability to remember emerges after a few years of growth, long after they have crawled from aqueous wombs into the light. The same is true for my most immediate kin, although they hatch—stabbing through imprisoning calcium walls with beak or claw until the world breaks open. Even they forget infancy, forget the first breath and the first glimpse of light. For me, however, the experience is still alive and vivid in my memory, even today.

    It began when the darkness took over. Until that point, I was, as I said, simply dancing, shimmering consciousness, empty of self, swimming ecstatically in that world of drifting images, green and blue and white. Then, suddenly, the dream began to shut down. I tried to hear the wind—and could not. I tried to feel the sensation of floating—and found myself rooted by some strange force. I tried to see the mountain before me—and it was as if it had never been there. All faded into darkness. Pitch-black, silent, paralyzing darkness.

    At times, that sense of emptiness still emerges hauntingly from the depths of memory, and I remember how terrified I was. I wonder: do the unhatched and unborn suffer the same dark awakening that I did? Do their infant minds simply find a way to bury it beyond rational comprehension? Does the hatchling fall from its dream into a tomb, buried deep underground, and claw its way into air? Does the human fetus awaken from bliss to find itself trapped and alone, and, desperate for its freedom, tear its mother apart in an attempt to escape?

    Perhaps not. But I cannot help but wonder.

    The darkness fell on me like death itself. It choked me, mocked me, trapped me in place. Why was my world gone, I cried? What had happened to the water and the wind? Where did the glorious pleasure of it all go? And most importantly, where was…where…was……

    …I.

    As soon as that thought entered my mind, I realized that I was something, that I was not the dream that had left me. I realized that I was something separate that had been thrown out of that world, that I could be attacked. I must have recoiled. I did not want to be destroyed as my dreams had been. I begged wordlessly: Please—no—bring it all back—don’t hurt me, too—
    Stop stop STOP!
    But there was no reply. Only a cold, condescending silence.

    I tried desperately, as dreamers do, to hold onto some semblance of dream-logic, but it was quickly slipping away from me. There had been a mountain, I knew, and…some sort of long-tailed creature? Yes, that much seemed clear. And there was something else, some presence that had conveyed some message of profound import. Was it something from before my dream, from an earlier time? It seemed to concern the sky, somehow, or joy, or—but it was too late. The idea was gone. I thrashed at the darkness for stealing this name, this image from me, throwing incoherent curses at it until I finally had to give up out of sheer fatigue.

    Since then, I have tried to figure out the meaning of that dream-fragment countless times. Each time I think I am on the cusp of understanding it, it eludes me. I suspect it always will.

    I soon realized that the darkness, while unceasing, was also stagnant. Despite ensnaring me within its cruel depths, it made no effort to finish me off. I was not being attacked, and I appeared to be in no danger. So, still uneasy, I began to assess my situation more closely. I was still in a wet, fluid world, but I was no longer rootless. Something pulled on me from above and below, preventing me from drifting around very much. What these
    constraints were, I could not guess. The character of the fluid had also changed. Instead of being soft and freeing, it was gelatinous, thick and sludge-like. I felt the harsh weight of it pressing in all around me.

    I became aware that I had a body. Not that I knew, really, what a body was— but I became aware that I had the ability to move. There were places in the world that could be affected by me; points not far away from where my consciousness seemed to hover. I twitched a few of these extensions of myself— what I would later call limbs—and felt the fluid swirl around me in response. It seemed to me that the fluid slowed and constrained my movement, though I had nothing to compare it to but the world of my dreams. I continued to experiment with movement, discovering that I had many points of action, though there seemed to be a certain, finite number of paths that contained these. One by itself, two underneath that, and three more, farthest below. Which is not to say that I counted them—but I noticed similarities, ways to categorize and understand these motions.

    Then I found another kind of motion, very subtle, near the first pathway I had discovered. I twitched a tiny, tiny muscle—

    And the world was thrust into light.

    The source was dim, and made even more so by the murky orange liquid I had to view it through, but to me it came like the light of salvation after the crushing darkness that had surrounded me. It felt as if the world was returning. Though I was beginning to doubt that my shifting dreamscape had been anything more than an illusion, this felt like the next best thing. If I could not have that world back again, I could at least see what this new realm had to offer. With a further rush of excitement, I saw vague shapes moving in some distant place.

    Then everything vanished. Darkness once again surrounded me. It took me a terrifying, nightmarish moment to realize that, distracted by the torrent of sensations, I had allowed that which governed my sight to droop back down to its previous position. Furious with myself, I wrenched the portal of vision open again, and the light returned. I then forced myself to keep aware of my vision, while I took in the new world that was opening itself to me.

    Yes, there were indeed things moving out there. Some sort of transparent barrier, I saw, surrounded the orange fluid, beyond which rippling shapes swirled in and out of focus. Large transparent bubbles floated through my field of vision, which distracted me for a brief moment until I realized they were an aspect of the thick fluid around me, and returned to the figures beyond. There were moments when it seemed that I could make out features, outlines, solid forms. I clung to any details I could make out, attempting to inscribe them on my memory. What did these things, these creatures, look like? Did they move of their own volition? Were they alive in the way I was? I had to know.

    Then there came another sensation, one that seemed to join with me from above and move through my body. I began to hear sounds all around me, at first very quiet and indistinct. Then they started to grow louder, until they were buzzing and rustling through my mind incessantly. The chaotic sounds seemed to hint at something, suggest something, but what? I threw all my awareness at them, yet I could not interpret their intent.

    As the sounds continued to grow louder, the shapes before me twisted themselves into larger and clearer forms. An idea leapt through my mind: what if there was a connection between the two? What if the shapes were not only synchronized with the sounds, but caused by them? Yes, the more I thought about it, the more I became convinced: the sounds were not random phenomena, but some kind of deliberate tool used by the forms beyond. They were voices. Perhaps the shapes coordinated their movements through the sounds. Perhaps they were trying to convey something to me.

    I was suddenly filled with an overwhelming desperation. I needed to be out there, beyond that barrier, where the voices and the ever-changing shapes lurked. That was the answer to all I needed to know, the solution to everything, I was certain of it. But I saw no way to get past it, no way even to move beyond the point in space where I was rooted. Frustrated, hopelessly confused and deeply worried, I cried out, silently, for a way to break free.

    That moment of despair must have unlocked something within me. Because in the next, brilliantly illuminating moment, my entire perspective shifted, and the answer became more than obvious.

    Humans have often referred to psychic power as the “sixth sense.” As a name it is both incredibly insightful and horribly misleading. The phrase is a terrible cliché, an alliterative coinage that the lazy may utter thoughtlessly while forgetting that it ever contained a descriptive meaning.

    And yet…it contains an essential grain of truth. There is, in fact, no more apt description of the psychic landscape than this, another way of feeling, another sensation by which one may explore the world. It is a form of awareness that can only be truly understood by one who has actually experienced it. In our attempts to explain it to those who have not, we must rely on clumsy metaphors that dance around the truth in great spiraling motions.

    Psychic power is like being able to see everything around you at once, in luminous detail, every feature of the world, even those that would normally be hidden from view, available for your perusal simultaneously. But it is not sight.

    It is like being able to hear the quietest sound moving through the air from impossibly far away, whilst listening to a cacophony of other sounds of every conceivable pitch coming from every direction, and being able to describe the individual qualities of each. But it is not hearing.

    It is like being able to reach out and grasp in your hand any distant object you desire, to feel the unique texture of it on your fingertips, to twist it to and fro in the air, to crumple it in one’s palm or fling it at the nearest wall. But it is not touch.

    It is like being able to smell thought and emotion on the air, or to catch the flavor of the motion of the world on your tongue. But it is neither scent nor taste.

    Thus no language in the world contains the vocabulary that would accurately describe the experience of the true telepath. To render even the stuff of my everyday life into words requires that I sift through the metaphors of the senses, searching for the proper descriptors—Do I say “I observed” here? Do I say “I took hold of?” Would “felt” in this case be a more fitting word than “saw?”—and at times it can be maddening. In the (unlikely) event that I choose to share this account with another, I hope that they will forgive the inaccuracy of my imagery. If I do not, I hope at least that I will come to tolerate the tyranny of words.

    I tell you all this so that you may have some understanding of what it was like for me then, in that single moment of desperation when reality reshaped itself once again. It had seemed I had gleaned all I could about my situation, and I had thought myself trapped, forever to remain in this aqueous cage while some other world murmured hauntingly around me. And then, suddenly, as I railed against my prison, the way I experienced the world swiftly began to change, until there was an entirely new dimension to my reality.

    It started as a strange sort of awareness of my body. I could feel a strange energy pulsing along those pathways that I had found to be part of me, and this gave way to an understanding of their shapes. Their contours emerged brightly in my mind, until I could differentiate between the six great protrusions that extended from my body: two narrowed and then flattened along their extent, two were thin and hard-jointed, one was the longest and most sinuous, and one was small and squat, and yet seemed to be the center of my awareness. Yes, these matched the chains of movement I had discovered!

    And here, here were cords, stretching upward and downward from my limbs, that could easily be the constraints I had felt pulling upon me! I noted their smooth surfaces, and the way they swept from strange small lumps along my body to apertures above and below. And here was the fluid, swirling around me as bubbles of emptiness emerged from those same apertures! And here were the borders of my world, presenting themselves to me! A solid, dense barrier held me above and below, while a circle of something else, transparent and thin, surrounded me in all other directions. These fragmented sensations began to assemble themselves into a coherent picture of reality. There was the barrier! And there was the fluid! And the cords!

    And at the center of all this was the body—my body! It floated there in a vast network of threads, curled up, its projections tucked in, a magnificent nucleus in the center of this liquid world.

    Everything was there, just as I had predicted, and it all made such perfect sense! And I was even starting to glimpse the outlines of the creatures beyond—but why should I perceive them from here, when I had explored every corner of my little reality? Its borders no longer felt remote and terrifying—rather, it felt as if I could reach past that transparent wall with a thought. I placed it in my hand; I let it rush along my body, I held it in my skull. It was there before me, part of this grand map of the world, and I was its master.

    Very carefully, I began to crack it.

    I took a small section of the barrier, and willed it to sever itself from the rest. With a satisfying “CRACK!”, it tore away, creating a misshapen diamond of white. Yet it remained in place, this newborn island emerging from a sea of sameness, because I was holding it there. Delighted, I made more of these cracked patches, and more and more, surrounding myself with beautiful crystalline children. Then I drew lines between them, until the entire cylinder was a patchwork of wonderful white lines, criss-crossing and connecting, fragments suspended in midair only because I desired them to be. I added detail, making the fragments smaller and smaller until all I could see was whiteness. Admiring my handiwork, I could stand it no longer; it was time to achieve my freedom. I swiftly severed the cords that held me in place, and in the same moment…

    …I let go of the barrier.

    The intensity of the sound that followed surprised even me. With a tremendous, deafening roar, the liquid cascaded out of the tank in every direction. Shards of material rained down onto the floor, turning to fine white powder. And I, shorn of my cables, fell swiftly to the floor, landing on the hard surface in a somewhat awkward squat. My lower extremities jutted forward as I hit the ground, and I ended up placing my forelimbs on the ground between them in an attempt to balance myself. But I eventually managed to turn it into a comfortable enough sitting position, and as I reclined, elation surged through me. I had done it. I was free.

    Free, at least, to explore this new realm and discover what it had in store for me. I can still easily recall the first few sensations I experienced in that moment: Light, more intense than I had yet seen it, glinting off the silver surfaces that surrounded me. The eerie whine of distant alarms, heralding my emergence into the light. And the feel of air on wet fur—yes, that, too, I experienced, and the sensation was comfortably familiar. Shaking off the memories it stirred within me, I turned my attention to the world around me. I was immensely curious about the new realm I had found myself in.

    To those who observed my escape from the chamber of birth, it must have seemed that I stared down at the ground, oblivious to the plethora of interesting sights around me. I did indeed make little use of my sight, but the observers could not have perceived a crucial detail: my mind was my greatest tool and ally, and it was that which I used to my new surroundings.

    My mind surged around the vast expanse before me, examining it from edge to edge, trying to take in every detail. I was in an enormous chamber, much larger than the tank I had been born in. Many times, in fact , the size of my own body. It was much more angular as well, resembling not the shape I would come to call a cylinder, but the one I would come to call a cube. Its edges—walls, floor and ceiling—all seemed to be made out of the same hard, shining material as the lower barrier I now rested on.

    I noticed that all these surfaces seemed to be carved into angular patterns. Strange variations of square and rectangular shapes completely covered the walls, much in the way my designs had covered the now-shattered transparent barrier, though these shapes were scratched mostly on the surface level. Behind them, the walls grew much more standard in their composition. Every so often, I found cords like the ones that had bound me running through these grooves, drawing connections between unlike objects. I also spotted faint lights pulsing through some of these crevices, and could not guess what they were for.

    The vast majority of the light in the room, which was beginning to seem less severe to my recently-discovered sight, came from several glowing panels set in the ceiling, a very long way above. I wondered how they gained their light, and found they contained two glowing rods each, which were attached to many more cords, thinner in form, which stretched upward through the ceiling and off into the distance. What lay beyond, I could only speculate about. I noticed several rectangular apertures in the lower edges of the room, which might possibly lead to other chambers, but I resolved to put off exploring them until I had finished with my immediate surroundings.

    The room was dominated by two enormous structures made of that same material, whose forms would be difficult enough to comprehend for one who was not discovering the differences between shapes for the first time. But from their size and the many connections they sported to other objects in the room, it seemed likely that they were important, so I focused my attention on understanding them. One loomed directly in front of me, so large that its edges merged with the corners of that room. More than anything else, it looked like a convergence of two thick discs. One was set flat against the wall across from me, growing slightly into the corner. The other, slightly smaller, jutted out from the center of the first at a right angle, as if some bizarre collision had taken place between them.

    The first disc was jagged, as if constructed from a collection of wedges, while the second disc seemed more like a collection of overlapping circles, especially with the circular pattern of transparent panels that adorned its center. Below these, I spotted was a large, smooth six-sided panel, set just above a bulky rectangular protrusion whose surface was covered in smaller shapes, round and square. When I delved into the object, I found it contained a complex array of shapes and further bundles of tiny cords.

    Two yawning openings in the structure caught my attention. One leered from the rim of the larger disc, very near to the ground. Another, smaller, was set in the upper rim of the second disc, nearer to me. From this hole emerged two large shining tubes, which bent sharply at the end of their extent. One tube came down above my head to form the upper barrier I had observed while confined. The other tube was attached to another chamber of orange liquid to my right, which seemed to be an exact replica of the one I had just emerged from. But there was nothing in this chamber but a few idly drifting bubbles.

    Behind me stood another enormous structure, identical to the one in front of me in every respect, save one: instead of extending two dense tubes from its depths, it extended three, leading to three indistinguishable chambers of fluid. These, too were eerily empty, although one seemed to have a few ragged cords, drifting around uselessly near the floor. Had something been in these chambers? Or was something about to be formed? Was I the first of a series? As usual, I could only speculate.

    Against the farther wall were some smaller, simpler objects of various shapes. There were round and square panels of transparent material, several protrusions covered with tiny squares like those I had spotted earlier, and, dominating the scene, a large slab of another material, etched with a number of thin lines. Near these, forms scurried about, inspecting these things for qualities I could not discern, moving parts of their bodies back and forth across the tiny squares, and occasionally stabbing them at some panel above or below, presumably to make some change to something going on within. These were the creatures I had seen, blurrily, from my chamber. Now they were delightfully easy to perceive, and having made a reasonable exploration of the larger room, I resolved to examine these beings more closely.

    Several of them had gathered in front of me, and several more were finishing their labors at the far wall and running over to join the growing group. I seized this as an opportunity to inspect them. My first surprise was that their shapes were somewhat disguised—they seemed to have draped loose, soft material all around their bodies, making their outlines seem bulkier than they actually were. Still, it was easy to discern the essential structure underneath—I probably could have managed it by sight alone.

    Like me, they were composed of a central body with a number of extremities sprouting from it, although they were missing one, which on my body stretched out flexibly behind me. Their two lower appendages stretched down from their bodies to touch the ground, and by flexing these, pushing against it, they propelled themselves around the room. Indeed, that was presumably what lower appendages were for. I would have to try such movement at my next opportunity.

    Their upper extremities seemed to be used for interacting with the objects at the sides of the room, or for carrying such objects around. I noticed that at the end of each of these upper appendages were five tiny extensions, one of them set apart from the others. By wrapping these extensions around an object, they were able to hold onto it and transport it around the room. Fascinating!

    The squat blob at the top of their bodies was the most interesting of all. Now that I looked at it more closely, it was not a simple smooth, round mass, but a complex conflagration of interesting structures, with a surprising solidity at its center. The first features to catch my attention were the small orbs set in the front, surrounded above by a curving hardness and two soft fringes. The orbs often changed direction, but many of them were pointed at me, and it seemed that they aimed them at things they found interesting. There was a hollow cavity within them, and an external flap which, from time to time, seemed to flicker down to conceal them for the briefest moment. Excited, I began theorizing madly, and convinced myself that this was the secret to the portal of vision, though my evidence was rather scant.

    Below these developed a triangular wedge with two small openings at the bottom. I found myself unable to determine what it this was for. Nor could I make much sense of the loose flaps which emanated from the sides, though I noticed two tiny holes led into the interior of the structure. But it did not take me long to comprehend the soft opening below, especially when I spotted its openings and closings synchronizing perfectly with the sounds I heard. It was clearly a device for noisemaking—and, I hoped, for communication.

    At the very top of the shape, each creature possessed a mass of soft material, which, on closer inspection was composed of a multitude of incredibly thin cords. Their length varied: on some of these creatures this fuzz was scarcely detectable, while on others it stretched down to drape behind their bodies. Trying to figure out what reason there might be for this, I noticed that it often corresponded to subtle variations in the main body.

    There appeared to be two kinds of creatures: the long-maned kind, whose bodies protruded most in the upper area, and the short-maned kind, whose bodies protruded most in the lower area. There were minor variations; I spotted a few of the latter group whose manes pushed the boundaries of the length one would expect from their body shape. But it was obvious that the creatures could not be put into any other categories. I found, for instance, no creatures that combined both protrusions, nor any with an extra appendage extending behind them like the one I had.

    But who was I to compare myself to these creatures, when I did not even really know what I looked like? I had been so eager to explore the world beyond the veil that I had neglected to seriously examine my own body. I had glimpsed its basic outlines in my first burst of understanding, but at the moment I knew more about the alien creatures before me than my own physiology. So, what sort of creature was I? I examined the now-familiar six-extension structure. Yes, I had much in common with the strangers. My lower limbs had similar points of flexibility as theirs, and presumably could be put to the same purpose. The same was true of my thin, hard upper limbs; I briefly moved them in small circles to get a feel for the way they operated.

    Despite these resemblances, I was clearly a different sort of creature. There was the obvious, of course: I had that sixth extremity trailing behind me, emerging from just above my lowest limbs and stretching up to the space just behind the highest point on my entire body. This sixth limb was intriguingly responsive; I could flex it in just about any conceivable way and it would twist itself around obligingly. I twitched it about in the air for a while, experimenting. I noticed that it grew thinner and thinner farther away from my body, and then suddenly thickened again to become bulbous at the very tip. The shape appealed to me. It felt intensely powerful, and pleasantly familiar.

    I put that investigation aside and turned to my other appendages. My upper limbs ended not in five small manipulators, but in three. I flexed them, exploring the joints. Each bulged at the end—it was almost as if each one was tipped with a tiny sphere. My lower limbs were thick at the point where they emerged from my body, but quickly became long and thin. Indeed, the lowest part of each limb, which the creatures placed against the ground, was about twice as long on me as it was on them. I wondered if it would make it difficult for me to stand as they did. The limb divided at the end into two small tendrils, reminiscent of the upper manipulators, but seeming to lack their dexterity. These also bulged at the tip, and I spotted two more bulges along the sides of the lower part of each limb.

    And then, of course, there was the structure at the top of my body. My uppermost extension seemed, if possible, even more hard and brittle than the one the other creatures exhibited. But it seemed to possess almost all of the same features. I, too, had hollow spheres embedded in my upper body, and—yes! They moved in their caverns as I cast my gaze about the floor. I had guessed their function correctly. These orbs seemed larger than the others I had observed, and was there perhaps some difference in their shape, their patterning? The ring of color on the outer surface was a resonant purple, and the transparent spot within seemed stretched, somehow.

    I searched around for some kind of triangular projection analogous to the ones the creatures had, until I suddenly realized that the entire structure was that projection. It stretched forward where the aliens’ faces had been flat, and at the very tip of that protuberance, two tiny slits provided the openings into my body I had expected. Below was a very clear replica of the sound-launching gap, though it seemed small and underdeveloped—perhaps not very useful for noisemaking.

    There were no loose flaps on the sides of my topmost appendage, but it seemed possible that they had migrated to the top and changed shape somewhat. The highest points on my body were two hard lumps that jutted out from the round apex. Each surrounded yet another hole leading inward. Were these my version of those odd, misshapen flaps? Or was I stretching comparison too far in an effort to map everything on my own body to something on theirs? I had to admit, the functions of half these things were still entirely unknown to me.

    Further down, below the round lump which connected extension to body, I found structures which corresponded to nothing on the beings’ bodies. One was a hard, rigid plate, placed just above my upper limbs, which draped a short way down the front and back of my body. I noticed that it would prevent me from lifting these limbs all the way upward, but I figured I could manipulate out-of-reach objects with my mind if this ever became a problem.

    From the back of this plate, behind my vision, emerged a thick tube, which stretched upward and entered the back of the appendage. The tube constrained my movement; I glanced mentally at the creatures and noticed that they possessed a greater flexibility in that area. But I liked the fact that the tube was there. It seemed that it must enhance my body somehow, doubling some feature, for if one connection between body and extension was useful, two must be twice as valuable.

    I plunged my perception into my body to examine it from the inside. I was unprepared for what I saw: every part of me was dizzyingly intricate. I was quickly overwhelmed by just how many things my body gave me to observe. I found the long, hard centers of my limbs, probing the pores within. I found the smooth substance that allowed them to rub together at their ends, and the thin cords which stretched between them. I found the lumps which surrounded the rigid centers and pulled on them when my body moved. I discovered the astonishing thinness of the exterior layer of my body. I saw how the fine cords covering my body grew from tiny pockets in its surface.

    I found the liquid that surged through tiny canals, which budded from each other in a branching framework, and traced their origins until the tunnels grew larger and larger and finally led me to the pulsing, pulpy kernel that beat furiously in my upper body. I found the inflating and deflating sacs which surrounded it, and realized that they connected to some of the openings in my highest reaches. I began following other pathways—I found the tiny spiral chambers that lurked beneath the hard twin protrusions, and leapt down some of the same small gaps to find an enthralling pathway filled with strange portals, sudden chambers, and a maze of twisting, turning tubes which culminated in a triumphant exit from my lower body.

    There is a human maxim: “Know thyself.” I doubt there any other individual on the planet has fulfilled that commandment as well—and as literally—as I have.

    But there was one part of my body I could not perceive. When I followed its contours up to the upper reaches, surging past the forest of loose cords, past the thin outer layer, past a few moving lumps, past a hard shell that formed a kind of protective circle, I found a strange burning edge, an inexplicable emptiness. It was not as if I found a gap, or a loose pocket of space within me. No, it was as if I simply could not look at that part of me. My awareness simply slid from one side of that space to the other, even though something clearly had to be there.

    The space was intense in its absence, a fiery jewel gleaming with negative light. It seemed to pull on the rest of me, to sketch out its silhouette against the rest of the body. And indeed, after studying the way that my other systems seemed to fade into this blankness—my sight-orbs linking to it via a series of cords, my liquid pathways rising up to dip into its depths—I thought I discerned some inkling of its shape.

    It was like a large, curved blob, bulging at the front and the bottom, sitting squatly in the center of my uppermost extension. Its surface seemed to be wavy, perhaps intricate in its design. There also seemed to be two long extensions hanging down from it, one going straight downward in the direction of my central body, the other passing through the tube I had spotted earlier. I thought they might be cords, or bundles of cords, like the ones that connected other objects to this center. They met and congealed, in what seemed to be a tangled fashion, at a certain point within my central body, near the top. Here a miniature version of the first blob seemed to form, a node, it seemed, of significance. But I could not quite figure out what this chain of objects was for, nor why it was so unknowable.

    Now, much later, I think I have hit upon the answer. I could not perceive that space for the same reason that most living things cannot perceive themselves except in reflections. The same reason that an eye cannot look at eye, that a fingertip cannot brush its own surface. That with which we sense the world must necessarily be set apart from that world, to observe with objectivity. A thing cannot be objective about itself. Thus, when I told my mind to observe my central nervous system, it had to refrain, for I was asking it to twist in a knot and look at my own mind.

    As I was pondering the mystery of the void within me, still not comprehending the paradox, I became distracted by a peculiar sensation. It was odd—I suddenly felt a strange sense that something wrong had been set right. Perhaps that was true—I had, after all, conquered an angry darkness and victoriously claimed the light—but why was I feeling a sudden wave of relief now? I was excited about exploring this new world, but why the sudden lurch of fear, followed by aching calm?

    Then, images started flashing before me, echoed by flashes of emotion: I was standing before some of the creatures, whom I knew well; they were thanking me, and promising to help me, I thanked them profusely in return, but secretly I knew that I was superior to them, I had done something none of them could have done, and with the things they would give me, I would do even greater things—

    My mind reeled as I pulled myself away from the sensations. These were not my thoughts—they came from outside me, from somewhere else. I lifted my head up and gazed at the creatures gibbering before me. If these were their ideas and imaginings, then that put them in an entirely new light. It proved that they were creatures capable of thought, like myself, who had emotions and ideas like I did. Furthermore, it looked as if I might be able to pick up on these hidden experiences and examine them as I pleased. With a little practice, I might be able to gain a great deal of information from them.

    I poked at the thought. Yes, now that I had distinguished it from my own ramblings, it was easy to trace the thought back to its origin: The tall creature standing directly in front of me. And I was already starting to pick up on other thoughts and images, emerging from the crowd of creatures before me. They seemed to leap from the tops of their owners and swirl around their heads, ethereal fragments of life, each with a distinct character, unique flavors that drew me into the minds of their creators. Here was a long-maned creature whose thoughts dipped in and out of awe—awe for what? I looked, and I saw my own features drifting up to me out of the depths. Another, short and bulky, was preoccupied with some of the strange devices on the far wall.

    As I studied the way thoughts flowed around the room, the haze of ideas became clearer and clearer, until it was easy to tell whose ideas were whose. It was like mastering a new game for the first time: once you understand what the rules are, you can make sense of interactions that once seemed meaningless. The entire sphere of possibility becomes open to you; possessing the basic structure of the rules means that you also possess, in some sense, every conceivable move anyone could ever make.

    So it was with the minds of the creatures. I doubt that I gleaned every detail about the way minds worked from that initial interaction, but I quickly grew familiar with the distinctions between individual minds, and the familiar way thought could be trusted to appear when viewed from afar. I started to catch glimpses of their sensations: I saw the mammoth construction in the corner reappear before me, even as I watched one creature’s sight-orbs glance in that direction. I listened to a shrill droning continuing in the distance, and then heard the same sound, echoed in a creature’s mind.

    But there were also sensations that seemed to have no origin. Almost every time a creature thought, I would catch faint traces of sound clinging onto the idea. At times these sounds were nearly undetectable, while at other times they sounds would blare with enough force to rival the original thought. But they were almost always present in some fashion. I wracked my own mind trying to figure it out.

    Then I realized: as the creatures thought of these sounds, they often made them, with that lower gap that seemed to possess so many instruments for noisemaking. And then they would think of the sounds made by other creatures, and a corresponding image or idea would flash into their minds. They were communicating with sound! Yes, of course—this was the method of interaction between minds that I had suspected, and the key I had been looking for to understanding these creatures! Each thought or image had a sound-form associated with it. Ideas could be translated into words. And every object that existed had a name.

    I had discovered language.

    In an ecstasy of exploration, I whirled through the creatures’ minds, searching for names for things I had recently become acquainted with—which is to say, everything in the room. I learned that the room was filled with such things as lamps, machines, tanks, computers, levers, and dials. The different aspects of the physical self could also be named in this way. Sight-orbs were eyes, flaps ears, central juts noses, and lower gaps mouths. All were set in the head. I learned to think of bodies, which possessed arms, legs, hands, feet, and in my case, a tail.

    I found I could suggest things to these alien minds, which allowed me to obtain these names with greater efficiency. I would encourage their thoughts to congeal into a particular image I was curious about, and the corresponding word-sound would, on some level, ring out in response so that I could add it to my vocabulary.

    It took a bit of digging, but I found that the creatures called themselves humans, or human beings. Their draped substances were called clothing, their head-cords called hair. This reminded me of their division into the two kinds, long-haired and short-haired, which became the subject of my next inquiry. The mostly long-haired humans were called women, meaning they possessed the attribute of female. The shorter-haired humans were men, with the attribute of male. The words used to discuss an individual human being changed depending on this distinction: him was swapped with her in discussing a woman, among other such patterns. The humans were, apparently, divided like this because in man-woman interactions they could produce more human beings through a complex physical process. I noticed thinking about this brought some of them a certain anticipatory pleasure.

    I continued to dance the great enchanting dance of words, devouring their sweet sustenance in massive quantities. I leapt about the humans’ brains requesting verbiage until my vocabulary doubled, tripled, multiplied a hundredfold, until I not only understood the words for things but the words for what things did, and were like, and could place them together in a glorious statement about the universe.

    And as I contemplated the relationship between sound-in-the-mind and sound-expressed, a revelation dawned on me: sound was actually a kind of motion! There was a substance between the creatures and myself, surrounding everything in the room—air, it was called—and this air rippled whenever a sound was being made. These ripples entered us somehow—through the ears, it seemed—and sound was what it felt like to experience them! Fascinating. I was certain this discovery would be useful somehow. Perhaps I could experiment with vibrating the air myself.

    By this time, I was beginning to catch snatches of meaning from the clackings of teeth and tongue that sent ripples around the room. I swelled with pride when I first heard a dark-haired woman discuss looking at the computer. I kept listening to the hubbub of voices which once had seemed so much chaos, congratulating myself every time I found some phrase I understood. I suspected it would be a great deal easier to understand what was being said when only a few of them were talking; this mass of overlapping voices required a great deal of work to untangle.

    As it happened, my opportunity was about to present itself. The human man at the very front of the crowd stepped slightly towards me. He was among the tallest of the humans, and like the rest of them, dressed in a long white coat with an elegant collared shirt and tie underneath. The angle of the light made it difficult to make out the details of his face, particularly his eyes, but I could examine them with my mind easily enough. In front of the brown-tinted eyes, a strange sort of device made of metal and glass was fixed. Apparently these were spectacles, meant to help him see more effectively.

    The nose that held up these spectacles was long and thin, and the mouth beneath it, rather wide. The entire face was rather hard and angular for a human being. Atop his head sat a shaggy, disheveled mop of hair, somewhat long for a male, but shorter still than a woman’s. The hair was messy and chaotic, seeming to reach up to the ceiling at some points before collapsing at other times back into a wavy mass. One curly lock drooped down to obscure his face; at times one eye or the other would be blocked from view by the wavy fibers. Protruding from his chin was another small quantity of hair; I learned that this was a short beard, which male humans were capable of growing.

    The man waved his arms in a deliberate upward motion, suspending his hands in mid-motion. Apparently this was a way of requesting silence. Then, to his fellow humans, he began to speak.

    [To Be Continued in 1.2]
    For various reasons, (not least because I've grown tired of this username), I've moved my operations over to other websites. If you're interested in following my adventures as I explore and subvert the many worlds of Nintendo through prose, look for me on Archive of Our Own, Bulbagarden, or OverClocked ReMix as "Daidalos."

    And if you're a fan or a comic-maker from the old days, thanks for more than five unforgettable years of community, comics, and creativity. And thanks for remembering.

    Peace out.

  3. #3
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    Wow. That was a wonderful description of being born/discovering the world and life for the first time! I even kind of understood the description of psychic power/sense, despite how hard that must be to describe. And the poetry was amazing, too, I'll definitely be reading!

    I... don't really have a lot to say, except for how much I loved this, and if I describe that too much it'll probably get a little repetitive. Fantastic job on this story!
    FC: 2165-5528-1057
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  4. #4

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    1.2

    “Quiet, everyone!” he barked. “Yes, I’m quite sure we’re all very excited about the success of the experiment and eager to share our thoughts with our colleagues, but, quite honestly, we’ve been gabbing for at least five minutes now, and if you haven’t finished registering your immediate reactions by now, I doubt you will do so anytime soon. We have a great deal of work to do.” The crowd fell silent at his words.

    “Besides,” he continued, slowly approaching me, an expression of pleasure on his face, “a modicum of silence may in fact be necessary. By now, the creature must to some extent be familiar with its psychic powers. I would be highly surprised if it wasn’t employing them as we speak. What we ought to investigate is if this telekinesis has a detectable component. Something auditory, perhaps—it may manifest itself as a low buzzing, or a faint hum. It might, of course, be visual: the electromagnetic component of extrasensory perception may create a faintly detectable glow. Quantitative data on these phenomena will, of course be vital to further research, and, I don’t hesitate to remind you, integral to ensuring that experiments such as ours continue to be possible.” The others gave expressions of assent.

    I only recognized around half of the words the man utilized, but I caught enough of the essential aspects of the sentence to comprehend what he was talking about. He was telling the other humans that they should all stop talking at once, so that they could listen to me and see if I was making any interesting noises. This was incredibly important to them, for some reason. Spurred into confidence by these supreme insights, I decided it was time that I attempted to communicate with the humans directly.

    But how to go about it? I was reluctant to attempt to make the same kinds of sounds with my mouth as they were making with theirs—I was not entirely sure I even possessed the same kind of throat. I finally decided to suggest the sound of my words to their minds, as I had done with images earlier, but loudly, intensely, so that there could be no doubt that they came from me. Crafting the impression of a deep, resonant voice, I made my first sentence an inquiry about one of the terms that was new to me.

    “Psychic powers?” I asked.

    It was an immense pleasure to see that a visible reaction followed my words. The clustered humans jerked in alarm, snapping their heads to look up at me. Several of them actually threw themselves backwards slightly. The man in front of me, however, was simply delighted. A few bursts of air leapt from his mouth: laughter, the smile’s companion in expressing pleasure among humans.

    “Oh, how marvelous!” he cried, turning to one of the humans behind him. “Didn’t I tell you, Johnson, that we might engage in some form of communication with the creature? That it might grasp some of the rudiments of our language? And you doubted me! I tell you, never underestimate nonhuman intelligence, particularly among a psychic species of this degree. The laboratory ought to be a bit more lively with someone else to talk to, even if it is our own little invention. I understand some of you had bets running on its capacity for speech? Well, you can certainly see which side the coin came down on for yourself!”

    He laughed again at his little joke. Johnson, for his part, churned with embarrassment, and withdrew slightly from the foreground of the crowd. The other humans joined in the laughter, smiles growing, and, drawing a little closer, seemed to be pretending that they had not been startled by the emergence of my voice.

    I pondered what to say next. It seemed to me that the human had said a great number of things, but had not, in fact, directly responded to my question. I could, I supposed, have dived into his mind and pulled out the meaning myself, but I was eager to engage in conversation. Arguably it would be more fun, and more informative: if he sent me the answer through auditory means, he would have to choose from several possible sentence options, stirring in his mind a myriad of related ideas and concepts which I could explore as he spoke. So I tried again, rephrasing slightly, and taking an experimental stab at the grammar.

    “But, psychic powers… what are they?” I spun the phrase around and repeated it for emphasis, hoping that this time it would register: “What are psychic powers?”

    The human seemed a trifle surprised at my curiosity. Then he chuckled, and after a moment’s pause, said:

    “You’ve got quite an inquisitive brain on you, haven’t you? Then he turned to the others. “I suppose we might as well indulge its curiosity. It ought to make things go more smoothly, don’t you think?” The other humans nodded, another gesture of assent.

    “Well,” he began, after another slight pause, “psychic powers are the ability to manipulate one’s environment by purely psychological means. That is, of course, where the term derives from: psychic and psychology both relate to the psyche, which is to say: the mind. But in practice it most often refers to a function of the brain that allows one to perceive and alter the world by a seemingly nonphysical apparatus. When you used your mind to rupture your constitutional chamber, demonstrating you were fully alive, that was psychic power, in the form known as ‘telekinesis.’ If you were to use your mind to evaluate this room, as I have no doubt you have done at some point, that is psychic power, and it can be described as ‘extrasensory perception,’ since you perceive without using your traditional senses. And when you place your questions in our minds, you are using psychic power, and it is called ‘telepathy.’”

    He beamed at me, lecture concluded.

    So, this was the name for the things I could do! This was what humans called the final kind of sensation, which came after seeing, feeling, and hearing! Fascinating. But I was still puzzling over some of the terminology. He had spoken of all things psychic as attributes of the mind. I inquired about this “mind.”

    “Why, the mind, dear creature, is what makes me myself and you yourself!” he cried jovially. “Among other factors, of course, but it’s certainly a key element in creating the individual identity. It’s the full aggregate of all the thoughts we ever have, all the decisions we ever make! Of course, ‘mind” is merely the name we give to the most personal of the processes enacted by the brain in our skulls, a neural mass which allows us to make decisions, to think thoughts. It regulates all the functions of the body, with a great deal of aid from the spinal cord, or cords in your case. Thus psychic interactions are derived from physical processes that take place within the brain, and experienced by this personal psychological construct we call a mind. Does that answer your question?”

    It actually did make quite a bit of sense. Just as I used eyes to see, ears to hear, and legs to walk, I used my brain to think, and to perform…what was one of the other terms he used? Telekinesis. A word derived, according to the man’s brain, from those words meaning “distance” and “movement.” My brain gave me the ability to move things at a distance. I also had the ability to communicate with other minds at a distance, telepathy, and the ability to observe things I could not have observed by sight or hearing—thus my perception was extrasensory. These were apt descriptions of everything I had discovered about myself so far.

    “These psychic powers…do you humans have them, too?” I asked. Nothing in my explorations of their minds seemed to indicate that they did, but how, in fact, would I be able to tell? They certainly possessed sight, touch, and sound, and their brains seemed just as present as mine, if not more so. What if they had been examining my thoughts even while I slumbered in the tank?

    But, to my great surprise, this theory was quickly disproven. The humans burst out laughing. Everything from guffaws to chortles filled the room. I watched, a bit bewildered, as the laughter slowly dissipated.

    “No, certainly not,” the man said, still grinning. “Not us, at any rate. Only a very select few among human beings have psychic abilities. Those who do usually have a genetic predisposition for it, and years of training are necessary before they become capable of even the most basic psychic feats. Most of us do not have the necessary mixture of talent and tenacity for it, you see. Studies have shown that in homo sapiens it’s practically a mutation: certain areas of the brain must be enlarged for the necessary reactions to take place.

    “Now, among your kind it’s a different story,” he mused, pulling on his scraggly beard. “Even the most adept psychics among us humans couldn’t hope to challenge an Alakazam, say, to a ‘meeting of the minds,’ as it were—though they might find it easier to commune with one. And against you, you who are probably the greatest psychic who ever lived—why, the Alakazam might as well give up and go home!” He chuckled again.

    I listened as his words slowly slid into place. I had to admit, conversation in the human fashion was a slow process, a bit tedious for me. Or was it simply that when I observed and analyzed the world around me, I was able to do so very quickly? According to the humans, I had only been awake for about five minutes before making contact, and they did not consider that a great deal of time. Yet I had been able to take in a vast amount of information, and come to several significant conclusions about the world around me. Was it simply that, compared to the speed at which I processed things, normal interaction, with its ponder, speak, ponder again pattern, seemed slow to me?

    Despite my impatience, I was enjoying myself. Conversation did have a few things going for it. For the first time, I was not observing and manipulating the world from a distance. I was directly interacting with other creatures and delving into things of great importance. I was learning much more about the world this way, and it had made the humans finally aware that I could speak, that I had thoughts and ideas like theirs. And though I thought of going back to just searching through the contents of their minds for answers to my questions, watching ideas leap from the humans’ heads as they spoke was undeniably more exciting.

    So, I was a unique psychic, a rare pinnacle to an already rare set! The thought filled me with a certain amount of pride. These humans could not do the things I could do. My mere existence transcended their everyday lives, bringing them into contact with a shadowy world of unseen psychic realities they could not hope to glimpse. No wonder some of them regarded me with awe. But what precisely was an Alakazam, and what did it have to do with me?

    “When you speak of “my kind,” what do you mean?” I asked.

    More laughter from the humans. I was beginning to get tired of hearing their laughter. It always seemed to signal that I was ignorant of some fact they considered obvious. And indeed, this time proved to be no different.

    “Why, I’ve been terribly shortsighted!” the man chortled. “Of course you would have no one save us to teach you the basic facts of the natural world, poor fellow! By your kind I mean the other Pokémon, of course! The species monstrum sapiens, by which I mean the end result of millennia of genetic modification in the Kingdom Mutatia! By which I mean all the wildly diverse subspecies associated with said species, one of which is your direct ancestor!”

    The human paused for breath. Then he suddenly seemed to realize he had lost track of where he was going with these lengthy declarations. He tossed his shaggy head from side to side, apparently clearing his thoughts, and tried again.

    “Allow me to clarify. You have already met one of the two species of intelligent life-forms who dominate this planet: human beings, here represented by our little team of biological and genetic experts. The other species, which has been observed to possess sentience, if perhaps to a limited degree, is the species known as Pokémon. You are among their number. The word itself derives from the old Sugorian, I believe—I seem to recall its literal meaning is something like: “the capable monsters,” though I could be wrong. Regardless, such creatures dominate almost all territory not occupied by humans, by merit of their adaptability and intelligence.”

    “Unlike humans, they possess an astounding degree of biodiversity, to the point where, in many cases, it would be almost impossible to identify two subspecies of Pokémon as related without genetic analysis. Physically speaking, they’re vastly more powerful than humans, and can be quite impressive opponents, harnessing all sorts of astounding chemical reactions in defense of their territory. But none have ever been observed creating any sort of culture or constructing any sort of civilization, so I find myself personally skeptical of proclaiming them the intellectual equal of humans. You may be something of an exception; the psychic subspecies have always tested well on human I.Q. tests, and we did hope for you to be a particularly fine example of the telepath.”

    As he spoke, I watched images of my brethren flicker in his mind. He was right that their forms were extremely varied; I must have seen more than fifty different creatures emerge from his memories, and not one of them looked quite like me. Many of their forms were bizarre enough to catch me by surprise: I spotted creatures with large, flapping things in place of arms, and creatures with no arms that walked on four legs. Some floated in midair, some had six legs or none at all, and I even spotted one that looked like a sliding, smiling lump of goo. I could see what the human meant about it being hard to tell they were related. But I did not like the way he spoke of my diverse family. Culture and civilization were still difficult concepts for me to parse, but I was already skeptical about his definitions. Such things did not seem to me necessary for intelligence, not as I understood it, and anyway, how did he, a human, know what my relatives had or had not achieved? But there were other things I wanted to ask about, and I did not wish to distract or irritate my source of information with a discussion of the reliability of his statements.

    “I see,” I said, using the human colloquial phrase that meant, “I understand,” though seeing is usually more of a secondary sense with me. “Then I would like to know: just what kind of ‘Pokémon’ am I, and how did I come to be here?”

    The humans shared several grins. I watched excitement and anticipation fill the room. They had been waiting for this moment.

    “For years,” the man said, savoring every word, “we struggled to successfully clone a Pokémon to prove our theories. Oh, we struggled long and hard, not knowing if cloning was even possible, not knowing if we were embarking on a fool’s errand. Picture us, working with the rawest, basest genetic samples, the best we had, striving on even after the money dried up, after countless embryos failed to develop, after creatures that had matured and were ready to be born died of inexplicable causes. Among those sad, doomed ranks, you’re the first, last, and only specimen to survive. But your mere existence makes the long toil worthwhile. Now we know that we were right, that the cloning process is viable. We will revolutionize the field of biology with our findings, and the applications of this technology might one day save human lives…” He trailed off, lost in thought for a moment.

    As I listened to the man lament the sacrifices his group had made, I was hit by a sudden stab of emotion. Not my emotion. His emotion. Grief surged from him in tremendous quantities, slashing at the space around his skull. Then, just as abruptly, it was gone. I moved further into his mind and realized it was still there, all right—it had just been suppressed. Beneath his thoughts a gaping void lurked, threatening to consume him.

    The way he spoke, pontificating and rambling and speculating all at once— started to make more sense to me now. His thoughts were platforms, keeping him suspended above the abyss. By planning and calculating his every action, he was able to put off dealing with this sadness. But the strain of ignoring what was right there within him seemed be doing something unhealthy to his mind. When he spoke, he seemed…what would be the human term? Manic. I started to investigate more deeply, to find out what this source of grief might be, but the human was talking again, and I was losing track of his words. It would have to wait.

    “In short, we are your creators,” he concluded. “You are our ambitions made real, pure ideas brought, quite literally, to life. The fact that you exist at all is our doing, but you need not be grateful. All we ask is that you allow us to study you in order to find out what kind of creature we have created.”

    The full import of what the man was saying almost missed me for a second. When it hit me, I had to stop and re-examine my definitions in the man’s brain to make sure I was understanding him correctly. The humans had created me? They had brought me into existence from nothing, or near-nothing? Yes, that seemed to be what they were saying. The arms, legs, hands, feet, and tail that I had come to know had been planned by them, designed by them. My psychic powers—of course they had orchestrated them. Every scrap of my body had been, at one point or another, something they dreamed up in their blind little minds, developed a schematic for, and finally brought into reality as a living creature. As me.

    I wanted to deny it, but their minds screamed the truth at me, and it made too much sense. How else could I have come to life in a sealed-off tube, positioned directly beneath the ducts of an enormous machine? Machines were often used to manufacture things, I knew. This place was an enormous factory whose end result was my life.

    I had missed these implications at first because I had not understood what the man meant by “clone.” Now that I examined the word, I realized that it meant a process by which a tiny substance, integral to life—called DNA—was used to create more life by a sort of copying mechanism. To these humans, “cloning” was a glorious endeavor which challenged the borders of life, demonstrating the majesty of human beings, clever enough to create something from nothing. To me, it was simply the origin of my physical body. That, and it marked me as the invention of human beings.

    I knew very little about DNA replication or genetic sequencing, but I couldn’t help but feel disappointed by that. These humans were interesting as a source of information, but vaguely dreary and unimpressive. They seemed unable to think beyond simple repetitive patterns, reacting to everything I did with the same mix of uncertain glee, laughter, and self-congratulation. Not to mention I found the way they laughed at my ignorance mocking and embarrassing. Yet they were the only progenitors I had.

    Why couldn’t I have been brought to life by my kind, the Pokémon? They would have treated me with great respect and welcomed me to their fold, I felt certain. So wildly different among themselves, they would be eager to hear of new experiences, such as the story of a created being, discovering the world for the first time. And the things they might tell me in return! What would it be like to converse with a creature whose back was covered in light, or enter the mind of one who slithered and see what being limbless felt like? But, unfortunately, that was not my privilege. I was stuck with these smug humans. I even resembled them slightly. Was that a deliberate choice on their part?

    It seemed the humans were waiting for me to respond. “I see,” I said again, very slowly and deliberately. I wanted to show them I was following the discussion, without revealing my irritation. “To clone is to create from DNA. Your group of humans cloned and created me.”

    “Precisely!” the man cried, clapping his hands together in delight. Then he looked very closely at me. “I think we have something you may find useful in understanding your creation,” he said, after a moment of gazing at me. “If you would turn to your left?” He swept a hand through the air, letting it come to rest pointing at the far wall. The space was one of the few in the room not occupied by large machines, but by smaller computer terminals and strange objects on the walls. I turned, following his motions.

    And there it was. A face looked back at me.

    One of the more interesting, and sometimes vexing, aspects of psychic power is that things do not always appear the same way they would with the normal senses. They “look,” to use the word loosely, different. For instance, it took me a surprisingly long time to make the connection between miniscule vibrations in the space around me and the sounds I was hearing. But I had no reason to make such a comparison—the ear and brain are so sophisticated that they translate a kind of motion into a sensation that seems to exist in and of itself.

    Similarly, if I were to try to read a newspaper from some distance away, it would actually be more difficult than reading a mind. I would have to analyze the patterns of ink on paper, figure out which shapes they were composed of, and then search for correspondences with visual patterns I had memorized. It would be possible, certainly—but only as much as I was able to translate one kind of experience into another. It would not be instinctive or immediate, and would require a great deal of thought, unlike simply picking up a newspaper and gazing at it, as humans are known to do.

    So it was when I looked at the tablet, which was kept within a pane of glass and hung from a thick rope draped around a hook in the wall. I had come across this slab of stone in my initial exploration of the room, and noted two things in particular: it was made of a strange substance, and covered in intricate grooves. That was all my psychic gaze had been able to divine from it, and though the grooves were interesting, they in no way compelled me to linger. Now, viewing it with my eyes alone, it was obvious that the grooves formed an image of something. The idea that a two-dimensional image could be formed from three-dimensional channels, that something could be created that could only be perceived from a single angle—this was a completely new concept for me. Even more astounding was the fact that I recognized it.

    It was the creature I had seen in my dreams.

    A torrent of sensations came flooding back to me: the water, the feel of wind, the green trees, the white mountain—all the memories that steadily been vanishing in the wake of new questions and experiences suddenly emerged anew. I remembered being part of all these things, remembered the terrible sense of loss that had hit me when they vanished, which mingled with the odd grief that seemed to stretch beyond my earliest memories. I remembered all these things, and remembered the long-tailed creature, suspended in flight beyond a majestic, snow-white peak. That the creature etched into the rock was the same one was unquestionable. The tail, of course, was a dead giveaway. Long and thin, it emerged from behind the creature and then looped around behind its back, finally curling to its end around the space near its left ear. The tip of this tail was bulbous, just like mine, and, studying the creature, I was eerily reminded of my first explorations of my own body. And if the tail didn’t make it clear enough that I had seen it before, I thought I recognized the shape of its ears, and the long, draping feet, which had drifted behind the creature as it flew, right beneath the tail.

    Its face was new to me, though. Two penetrating, thin-pupiled eyes that seemed to take up most of the face, seeming to stare into my own. The merest suggestion of a tiny, undetectable mouth. Its face, like mine, was elongated and seemed to merge with its nose. The head was absolutely enormous in comparison with the rest of the body. Was that simply the way it had been drawn, or was it an attribute of the creature itself? I couldn’t remember. Beneath, two tiny arms were outstretched, a grand total of six fingers, waving at nothing in particular. One foot was lifted, making it appear to be in motion, some sort of ecstatic twirl—what would humans call it? It looked like it was dancing.

    The expression was difficult to read, and it didn’t help that I had only begun thinking about the relationship between faces and emotions moments ago. It certainly looked like it was contemplating the viewer. But was the look in those eyes one of mirth or sadness? Was it a deep, penetrating wisdom I saw? Or was it a mocking look, one that laughed at the viewer’s foolishness for thinking they could understand the creature in a lump of stone? Or maybe there was nothing there at all. Perhaps I was simply imagining these things, and the creature’s expression was blank, emotionless.

    The human watched me gaze at the framed tablet, whose edges revealed strange patterns of lines, among the signs that it had been chiseled away from some existing structure. A smile played around his lips as he watched me scrutinize the stone.

    “That,” he said, “is Mew, the rarest of all Pokémon. The only one of its kind, so far as anyone can tell. Every so often, one encounters people who claim to have seen it, though very few can verify those claims. It seems to have a powerful hold on the human imagination: it features in a number of literary works and religious texts, particularly in the role of an emissary of the divine. In my opinion it is simply a unique, adaptable mutant subspecies. For a time, early biologists questioned its existence, dismissing it as a sort of organic mirage. Then a few incidents cemented its status as a real, if unfindable, species: It flew through a village on the coast of Cinnabar, and was caught on film by several unrelated witnesses later that month. But no one has found any physical traces of its presence. Until now.”

    If his grin had seemed manic before, it was doubly so now. He wasn’t even looking at the tablet anymore, but gazing, wide-eyed, off into the distance, lost in memory.

    “Following the report of another eyewitness, we led a team deep into the northern mountains. In an unexplored clearing in the forest we found the ruins of a pre-Tajiric civilization which seemed to worship the creature. It was from them that we lifted this tablet. It’s quite good, don’t you think? We considered selling it on the black market to cover some of our debts, but we all wanted to keep it as a sort of mascot and source of inspiration.

    “At any rate, we found that in some of their shrines they had preserved relics of Mew, whom they believed had granted them bits of itself as boons. Nothing very substantial—things like an eyelash or two, or a scrap of fur—but it was enough. We were able to get the samples we needed. The DNA was falling apart, but with some modern tricks we were able to work out most of the gaps. Onto this basic framework we grafted bits from Pokémon and humans in an attempt to engineer a powerful, indestructible psychic.” He caught the sudden jerk of my head. “Yes, you’ve put it together. From that sliver of DNA we created you: Mewtwo.”

    Mewtwo.

    He had given me my name.

    Does anyone else in this world possess a number for a name? I doubt it. From the beginning I have been defined by that name, that number. I am the second one, the one who came after. The unnecessary one, the spare. The duplicate, the imitation. For where there is a two, there must be a one, a first, a preferred, an original. When we use a number, we are really expressing a relationship between objects, if on an implicit level. Mathematics is the calculus of empty relationships, drained of any significance during the transit from the beginning of an equation to its end, so that we may learn from two boxes and fifteen oranges that we may expect to consume thirty over the next unit of time. But we do not realize that thirty describes thirty distinct experiences, where the orange may be sweet, or sour, or lumpy, or rotted. And by numbering those experiences we learn that they are of the same kind, and as such, must be compared. A number only exists as a function of such comparison.

    Therefore, whatever I am, I am in relationship to Mew. Am I better than Mew? Worse? Am I perhaps wiser? More of a fool? Am I here to build on Mew’s deeds? To tear them down? No matter what I do, for good or for ill, Mew becomes the reference point by which I must measure myself. As Mew-the-second, I often find myself envying the comparative freedom of Mew-the-first. The original—some would say “real”— Mew never has to think about its relationship to another. Its actions are creative rather than reactive; it exists independently of any other factors. It is complete in itself, while I am only its mutation, its translation. Take the derivative of Mew, and I am your result. I do not merely draw these metaphors out of idle conjecture: they represent the undeniable facts of our situation, as inescapable as gravity: a system in which I can only orbit, and Mew can only be orbited.

    I have known these things to be true for a long time. They began to take shape in my mind the moment he gave me my name. How much did I understand, then? The fading of memory makes it hard to say. But I know that when I heard those words, I realized that I was created in reference to another, and that other, built into my very name, was intended to govern my life. I had thought myself brilliantly innovative in my escape from my birth-chamber, Now it seemed to reveal me as a fraud. I was a foolish child so ignorant of my origins that I could praise myself on being clever when Mew probably would have done the same thing. Of course, Mew would not have to experience the birth-chamber, because, unlike myself, Mew was not a human creation, but an independent living thing, with all the freedom that entailed. I had been disappointed to find out that my birth had been expected and planned; now I found my disappointment compounded in learning that I wasn’t even an original creation. The joy of discovery was being extinguished by a barrage of stifling mundanities.

    I was, however, intrigued by the fact that there were name-words to describe individual creatures, rather than just words for kinds of things, like eye or computer. It made perfect sense, now that I thought about it—humans would need ways to acknowledge other humans by themselves, rather than saying, “Hello, woman,” or “I agree with that man over there.” But the concept of specific names had not occurred to me. These humans had created my name, which gave them a certain power over me in the ability to describe me. But perhaps I could challenge their hold by learning one of their names. What might a human name say about the human who held it?

    “You have given me the name Mewtwo,” I said.

    The man nodded. “That is correct.”

    “What is your name?” I asked.

    The human and his companions dropped their composed smiles and looked completely flabbergasted for a few seconds, which I enjoyed. Evidently I had caught them with a question they had not expected.

    “Well, I suppose, if you must know,” the human stammered, “my name is Dr. Vincent Smith.” His churning thoughts began to settle down, and his face grew reserved once again. “But I would prefer that you address me as Doctor, as my colleagues do.”

    “Doctor,” I said, and nodded. “What does “Doctor” mean?”

    “If you absolutely must know,” he said, giving me an odd stare that revealed he didn’t know why I was still asking about this, “it means that I am learned; that I have studied the fields of biological science for an exceptional number of years at a university, and thus, I command the respect that goes with such efforts. Does that make sense to you?”

    I nodded again. It made perfect sense. After all, he’d spoken of “using modern techniques” in the manipulation of DNA, and the words seemed to imply that he had learned such tricks from others. I could easily see him as one who devoted his life to acquiring more “clever techniques” from others who had invented them. On the whole, though, that tidbit was not particularly informative. I was looking for details that revealed a clear objective to his existence, as my name proclaimed that I was to be the second Mew. So I moved on to the next part of the name.

    “And ‘Vincent,’” I said. “What does that part mean?”

    The humans looked at each other nervously. Finally, Dr. Vincent Smith said, “It doesn’t mean anything, exactly. It’s just an ordinary name that someone might have.”

    “What about Smith?” I asked, uncertainty growing.

    “That doesn’t really mean anything, either,” he admitted. “It might have meant something once, a long time ago, but names don’t really contain meanings anymore. Smith would be the name of a man who manufactured metal tools, but as you can see, that isn’t my occupation! Names are just used to distinguish one man from another.”

    “You mean that they are nonsense? That they contain no significance at all?” I asked.

    “Essentially,” he replied, nervously.

    I searched through the minds of the surrounding humans for their names, which had risen to the top of their brains during our discussion on the topic. Sure enough, they were all two-word fragments of nonsense, such as “Anna Clark,” “Eric Johnson,” or “Hector Oswald.” Many of the humans had attached that same prefix, “Doctor,” to their names, but again, this was not particularly helpful or insightful. I was stunned. Was it truly the exception, rather than the rule, to have a meaningful name?

    If the tradition in naming was to use nonsense, then why had they given me a name that so baldly declared my function? Did they really have to mark me, to brand me, once again, as an outsider, an anomaly? Why, when it had already been drummed into me that I was alien to the world in so many ways? Why did I have to be Mew the second, when Mew’s name, or Vincent Smith’s name, or any of the names of the countless Pokémon and humans in the world, had no meaning other than a reminder of the creature who bore it?

    This was deeply irritating. No, it was infuriating, and I was tired of these humans misinterpreting my emotions. When next I spoke, I didn’t bother to keep the bitterness out of my projected voice.

    “Why, then, I would like to know, did you give me a name that so clearly indicates my nature? Particularly a name that reveals me to be an unnecessary imitation of Mew. A name that says that I am only a copy, that there is no reason for me to be here. I am not even a real creature, it seems—I am something else, like…”

    Here I searched for a more descriptive image, and then found one: the way a dark patch where light finds itself blocked will sometimes resemble the human who blocks that light, even though it has no independent existence. What were such things called, again?

    “…Like a shadow. I am nothing but Mew’s shadow.” I stared sullenly at the humans, daring them to give a response to that.

    But Smith was looking relieved, and back in control. This was something he could answer. “Ah, I see the problem you’re getting at!” he declared triumphantly. “No, no, no, my friend, you’ve gotten it all wrong! Yes, we did give you the name Mew-two, but you’re misinterpreting it completely! The “two” does not describe a duplication, but a progression! The sequence one-two could continue infinitely into the future, but it’s enough to know that it is, in fact, a sequence! Two is one added to, multiplied, increased vastly, almost beyond recognition! Between the two numbers there is room for an infinite amount of progression by decimal increments. Room, in other words, for change! For improvement! That was our intent, and that was why we chose the moniker Mewtwo for you, our project!

    “Rest assured that you are not Mew’s inferior, Mewtwo! Oh, no! Far from it! Just the opposite, in fact. Don’t you recall me telling you that we strove to improve on the DNA of the original? You are far greater than Mew, improved through the power of human ingenuity! Did Mew possess your immense stature? Your dignified frame? Your plexal node and double medullar cord? You are a replacement for the creature! A better, superior model! Mew 2.0, if you will!” He laughed.

    “Imagine that you find yourself locked in combat with the original Mew! Our intent was that, if such a thing were ever to occur, you would defeat the creature handily! Your mind is more supple, more intense, more clever, and more powerful by far! Your genes show this, of course, but it’s more than that! Even before you emerged from your constitutional chamber, you were demonstrating feats of telepathy we found astonishing! Not surprising, given the advanced techniques we used to develop your psychic powers. Advanced Campbell-Young fields and the like—I won’t bore you with the details. But suffice it to say that you possess all sorts of advantages that the original Mew could never hope to enjoy. You are its better in every way. You are the greatest Pokémon that ever lived, and the fulfillment of all our dreams.”

    Was all of that true? It had not occurred to me to think of myself as Mew’s superior. But that was the promise Smith claimed the name Mewtwo contained. He believed it very fervently, to be sure. His mind was currently bursting with the thought. A single dream, multiplied over and over in a thousand permutations, cascaded from his skull: the dream of making the greatest Pokémon in the world. The same was true of the other humans in the room, to a lesser or greater extent. So they were not attempting to lie to me.

    I wondered, though, if they could really be sure that they had succeeded in this endeavor. What scrap of DNA, really, defines greatness? They had made me look more like them, but was that really an attribute which would empower me? I knew nothing about their Campbell-Young fields, but how could they be certain that such techniques had made me a stronger psychic than Mew? They had never even met the creature, after all. Who but Mew could know what it had learned to do in the long years of wandering across the world? Perhaps this was all a ridiculous mistake. Perhaps we were all fools for thinking I could be the creature’s rival.

    But I kept such thoughts to myself. And the human wasn’t finished.

    “Do you know how long I’ve dreamed of this day?” he asked softly. “Of being able to stand here and say those words to our creation? We fought tooth and nail for this moment, didn’t we, my friends?” The other humans nodded slowly, intensely. “We had to fight a harrowing economy, cultural and social stigmas, and, worst of all, the feeling that nobody would ever understand what we wanted to achieve. They thought we were crazy. And at times, I myself wondered if we might be. But they were wrong. We’ve done it. There’s so much work left to be done, but we’ve shown that it can be done. We find ourselves exalted to a realm previously possessed only by the divine, namely: we now possess the ability to create life itself. Man, once thought to be lower than the angels, no more than dust beneath their feet, has elevated himself by his own disciplined efforts to the highest hall of heaven. He now stands with God, an equal partner in the creation of the universe…”

    “Who is God?” I asked.

    “Oh, great,” muttered one of the humans in the back of the crowd.

    [To Be Continued]
    Last edited by Mastercougar; 27th June 2011 at 6:16 AM.
    For various reasons, (not least because I've grown tired of this username), I've moved my operations over to other websites. If you're interested in following my adventures as I explore and subvert the many worlds of Nintendo through prose, look for me on Archive of Our Own, Bulbagarden, or OverClocked ReMix as "Daidalos."

    And if you're a fan or a comic-maker from the old days, thanks for more than five unforgettable years of community, comics, and creativity. And thanks for remembering.

    Peace out.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Riarra View Post
    Wow. That was a wonderful description of being born/discovering the world and life for the first time! I even kind of understood the description of psychic power/sense, despite how hard that must be to describe. And the poetry was amazing, too, I'll definitely be reading!

    I... don't really have a lot to say, except for how much I loved this, and if I describe that too much it'll probably get a little repetitive. Fantastic job on this story!
    Thank you so much! I'm very glad you got so much out of it! You've hit the nail on the head about what I was trying to achieve: the feeling of discovering the universe for the first time, piece by piece. With philosophical asides from Mewtwo about the nature of the things being described. (It's no easy task, I must note, to describe things everybody knows about in real life without using any of the words commonly associated with them!) And man, I had so much fun with the poetry. Had to get into an entirely different brainspace to work on it; it's so different from the prose.

    Anyway, it sounds like I succeeded in what I was trying to convey, which is really good to hear. Glad to have your readership. I hope you enjoy what's coming up! I'll keep posting away.
    For various reasons, (not least because I've grown tired of this username), I've moved my operations over to other websites. If you're interested in following my adventures as I explore and subvert the many worlds of Nintendo through prose, look for me on Archive of Our Own, Bulbagarden, or OverClocked ReMix as "Daidalos."

    And if you're a fan or a comic-maker from the old days, thanks for more than five unforgettable years of community, comics, and creativity. And thanks for remembering.

    Peace out.

  6. #6

    Default

    1.3

    I had made Smith flustered before, but now he truly seemed overwhelmed. He gaped at me for a moment, not speaking. His mouth opened and closed a few times, emitting incomprehensible sounds that might have been the starts of words. His thoughts were similarly unknowable, spinning around in his head like a swarm of small creatures. I wondered what about the concept so unsettled him. After all, he had been the one to bring it up. Was he really this surprised to find me curious about the words he used and the ideas he evoked?

    Finally, he managed to compose himself, narrowing his thoughts down to a single, organized pattern, and began to speak.

    “When I referred to God, I was speaking descriptively, Mewtwo,” he said weakly. “I wasn’t describing an actual situation I expected to occur.”

    “I know that,” I said. “But who is God? And what are angels? Your description brought up many associations that I do not quite understand. I would like to understand them more completely.”

    “Oh, hell,” Smith muttered. “God is—God is more of a concept than a person—the interpretations are many—is this really relevant at all, Mewtwo?”

    “If you can tell me, why should I not know?” I asked, confused. Why was there all this reticence surrounding the idea? I was picking up traces of something like fear from the humans. Not quite. It was less intense than that. But the subject clearly was not something they enjoyed speaking about.

    “Oh, I suppose that makes a certain kind of sense, but really, Mewtwo, we’re going to have to get you used to propriety. Fine. Bertrand—“ He spun suddenly to face another human. “Bertrand, why don’t you tell him about God? You enjoy discussion on such subjects, I know.”

    Bertrand looked sheepish. “I don’t know if that’d be a good idea, sir. Last time we discussed theology in this room, I got into a fistfight with Johnson. You ought to tell him, Doc. You’re doing fine. Just tell him sort of what you always say about science’s relationship to the transcendent.”

    “Oh, very well,” said Smith, still disgruntled. He took a deep breath and faced me again.

    “The idea of God,” he pronounced, “or Allah, or Yahweh, or Arceus, or whatever you want to call such a supreme being, is that this universe—i.e.; everything that exists—was created by some entity, which may or may not be male or female, may or may not have some great plan for human existence, and may or may not promise an eternal reward for the individual human being. Such a being may or may not exist. Many propose it as a sort of tautological explanation for the fact that there is a universe at all. But I leave that to the philosophers to decide.

    “You see, Mewtwo,” he said thoughtfully, “It is often perceived that science—i.e.; what we do here—is in opposition to religion. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our experiments can tell people about the conditions of the physical world. They can prove that such-and-such is so. But they do not discuss the value of a given state; nor provide a guideline for moral behavior. They cannot prove or disprove the existence of a God. That is not our place; it’s why we have churches, philosophers and theologians. Individual human beings must decide such things for themselves, and we are not given to interfere with that.”

    “But why would you not want to know if such a being exists?” I asked, still mulling some of these concepts over. “Such a proof would be relevant for every individual, and everything they did.”

    “Yes, “ said the human, wringing his hands, “but the entire point, you see, is that we can’t know. Such a theoretical being would be outside all reality, so how could its impact be measured? And attempts to find the best theory have all led to strife among different religious groups, even violence. No, it’s much better to let people decide these things for themselves.”

    I was still unsure if I agreed with his train of thought, but I let it rest for the moment. Things were beginning to make sense. “And angels?” I inquired.

    “Oh,” said Smith, looking highly embarrassed, “those would be representatives of God, sent to instruct us in His divine plan. Usually depicted as winged humans, which is probably a bunch of rubbish.”

    It was all coming together. Smith had claimed that humans now stood with God, because both were creators of life. And angels were part of that hierarchy which Smith felt humans had now cast aside. An interesting thought, but there was one flaw in the self-elevating argument, which I found obvious. It surprised me that they hadn’t thought of it.

    “So this God would have created you?” I asked.

    “Yes,” cried Smith, beaming. “That’s the basic idea, yes. Well done.”

    “And you created me, in turn?”

    “Precisely!” Smith said. He looked much calmer, now that the interlude had been concluded. “That was, in fact, the reason I made my little remark—”

    “Then would that not mean,” I asked, savoring the logic of it, “that this God was, in fact, the one to create me?”

    This took him aback. He frowned, as did many of the others.

    “No,” he said, finally, “that really isn’t what I said at all.”

    “But—”

    “We are your creators, Mewtwo. I don’t know how many times we’ve established this. We constructed you from samples of DNA and constructed your body in a constitutional chamber—”

    The assembled humans were all looking at me like I was a very great fool.

    “I know that,” I snapped. “What I meant was, is not God both your and my progenitor?” I searched for a metaphor that would get across what I was trying to say. “Is such a being not like a parent to all the things that exist? Like a father, or a mother?”

    “No,” sighed Smith, “as we’ve established, your immediate genetic ancestor is Mew. If you wish to think of it as your father or mother, I suppose, in a sense, you would be right.”

    “Mew is my father? My mother?” I asked, perplexed. This was something of an unsettling thought, though I had no idea why. Perhaps it was because I had been thinking of Mew as my opponent, even my enemy.

    “Well,” said Smith, chuckling again, “in a very loose genetic sense, of course! It’s not, of course, as if Mew gave birth to you on the laboratory floor!” He laughed, and the other humans, as always, laughed with him. The irritating, barking cacophony echoed through the empty corners of the room.

    This was extremely frustrating. Were these humans too idiotic to even understand what I was talking about, or were they just being deliberately obtuse because, for some reason, they wanted to vex me? No, their minds revealed no such objective. Burning with ire, I decided to give it at least one more try.

    “I was also speaking loosely,” I said, trying to keep the conversation going. “I was simply wondering whether such an entity might have desired me to exist, for some reason, as it seems to have desired for you to exist—“

    “But this is wildly speculative!” he snapped, suddenly severe again. “We are getting entirely too entangled in tangents, and I won’t have it! I have told you a thousand times already, such questions are not the domain of science! I cannot answer them, and you have no right to ask me!”

    I pressed on hopelessly. “But suppose this being, God, had a divine plan for me, as It is purported to have for human beings—”

    Smith was shouting now, and losing coherency. “Mewtwo, you are not God’s creature! That was the entire point of your creation, don’t you see? You represent a uniquely human achievement, one not beholden to any physical process or natural law! You are life’s recreation of itself, a move so bold and stunning it defies any other feat in the history of the universe! You are ours! Our ambition, our dream, our reality, our achievement on behalf of all humanity! God simply doesn’t enter into it! The plan for your life is something we constructed, and something we will continue to construct! I don’t know how I can make myself any clearer!”

    He stood there, breathless, glowering at me. The minds of the humans around us were filled with extreme discomfort, and they avoided looking at either of our faces. I, too, was simmering with anger, though I did not think the humans could tell. A tense moment passed between us before, finally, I spoke.

    “So then,” I said, watching him through narrowed eyes, “I suppose you have your own ‘grand plan’ for me, one that is entirely human and accomplishes entirely human goals. You intend for me to find Mew, my father or brother or ancestor, or whatever you wish to call it—I do not actually care—and defeat it in battle, ‘locked in combat’ as you described, and thereby prove that you have outdone God in the subject He is most versed in. Do I understand this correctly?

    “Ah, finally!” Smith muttered to nobody in particular. Some measure of calm seemed to be coming back to his mind and his voice. “At last we make our return to questions that make a relative amount of sense! No, Mewtwo, your suggestion is quite interesting, but you also happen to be wrong. We never expected you to challenge Mew to any sort of competition, lethal or otherwise. That was not at all our intention in creating you.”

    I was stunned. Somehow the idea that I was going to have to fight Mew had wrapped itself around my brain. “It was not?” I asked incredulously.

    “My goodness,” said Smith, suddenly cheerful again, “of course not! What reason would we have for wanting to get rid of Mew? It seems to be minding its own business! I’ll admit, I can certainly see why you picked up that impression. But do bear in mind that there is a difference between a readiness in theory, and a readiness in fact. Just because you could defeat Mew in one-on-one combat doesn’t mean we need you to! I think you’re a bit overeager to prove yourself!”

    He laughed again. I was beginning to recognize every feature of that laugh, from the few sharp barks that began it to the gurgling chorus that followed afterward. Every time, it somehow managed to be more excruciating.

    “Then what,” I asked, utterly bewildered, “did you create me for? What, precisely, is my purpose?”

    Smith looked rather amused. “A purpose? Do you need one? Humanity imagines thousands of purposes for itself, and they don’t seem to do any of us any good.”

    I could tell he was avoiding the issue. “What,” I demanded, “am I here for? Why did you create me? What was the reason!?”

    “The reason?” Smith asked. He shrugged. “To see if we could do it, I suppose.”

    I stared at him for a moment, then repeated what he just said, unbelieving.

    “To see if you could do it,” I mimicked, making sure to squeeze every last drop of banality out of his incredibly banal sentence.

    “Precisely!” Smith responded jovially. “We wanted to prove our theory of gestative cloning correct, and perhaps demonstrate some of its practical applications. Then, the secret to life itself unlocked, we could put it to good use in the restoration of human life. Just think of how many people your very existence will benefit! Was it necessary to use a Mew clone? No, not necessarily. The idea was suggested to us by our financial backer and I must say, I’m very glad he thought of it, because you outperformed any of our other experiments.”

    An experiment. That was what he had called me. I examined the idea in his mind. It could be likened to a test. An experiment could tell you if something was possible. But what guidance was given to the experiment itself? What was a possibility, once tested, supposed to do with itself?

    “I am simply the end result of your experiment,” I stated hollowly.

    “You could look at it that way, I suppose,” Smith said. He shrugged again. “Does it matter? If I were you, I’d be grateful just to be alive.”

    I ignored this, and looked him directly in the eyes. This unsettled him a bit, and he took a step backwards.

    “What, may I ask, becomes of me now that the experiment is over?” I asked, still without emotion in my voice.

    His eyes lit up with a wild gleam. “Oh, the experiment isn’t over yet, not by far! It’s just beginning! Now the serious testing begins! We’ll examine to what extent our processes have been successful? Have we created a true king of psychics? We’ll run you through a battery of scans, do some cognitive tests, observe reactions to certain stimuli, and whatever else we can think of. I’m looking forward to it immensely.”

    “And after that?” I spat.

    Smith looked confused. “After all the testing is done, you mean? Oh, I don’t know that we have any real plans for you. I can’t say that I’ve given it a great deal of thought. I suppose something might occur to us.”

    “No real plans,” I repeated dully. I watched his ugly, pink little face flash me a wide smile, and listened to the sound of my own blood pounding in my head.

    “That’s right,” he said, still grinning. He gazed at me for a moment, then shrugged once more.

    “Well, if you have no further questions for us, Mewtwo, just wait here a moment, and we’ll get straight to work. We’ve got quite a lot to do and record before we can publish our discoveries, but I daresay we’ll become household names after all’s said and done. And in the meantime, we can certainly bask in the glow of a job well done!”

    He turned to his companions. “Interesting fellow, isn’t he? You’re all ready to get started, I assume?”

    There were general expressions of assent. He nodded as well, and then strode off to a nearby computer terminal. The human men and women began scurrying around the laboratory, carrying stacks of papers, making notations, and examining various machines. They kept congratulating one another, grasping each other’s hands excitedly. I saw several of them sneak nervous glances at me and walk away with giddy, intoxicated smiles on their faces.

    The men and women talked of money, of the testing that was to come, of their own fame and their own glory . They laughed at their own silly jokes, chatted about their plans for the weekend, and scribbled minutiae on clipboards. And in the center of it all I sat, once again unnoticed, uninvolved, and uncared for. Yet I was watching. Watching every detail of their movements. Hating them, bit by bit.

    How could creatures so idiotic, so unaware, so simple and so self-involved, have created someone like me? No matter how many times I tried to express the fact that I had a mind like theirs, that I, too, was intelligent and capable of investigating the universe, they continued to think of me as something inferior, less than them. An object. A bit of material, collected from their enormous machines, to be analyzed in a test tube for its composition. Not something alive, not something with an identity. Not someone. Despite pouring their lives into designing my brain, they did not seem to realize I had a mind.

    And I had tried to make them understand. How many times had I tried? I had welcomed the entry of a new species into my tiny universe, I had wanted to know everything about them, and I had found a way into their thoughts and ideas. But the moment I made contact, trying to communicate with them in their fashion, they rejected me. My investigations of the universe—my honest and unaffected curiosity about the world that had brought me to life—they mocked. Or drew back from, flinching. Either I was an amusing little spectacle, or I was an eerie, alien interloper, who violated the sanctity of the subjects they kept to themselves. Either way, I was in no way their equal. I was not even Mew’s equal. I was not a creature a God would design, but a leftover fragment of an arrogant human dream.

    I listened to Smith discuss the impending battery of analysis with one of his colleagues. Both of them seemed to think that certain scanning techniques would allow them to render the most interesting image of my brain. They agreed that sticking my head in something called a TARA tunnel would be the best option, presumably while I lay still, obliging and supplicant.

    “But what about electromagnetic feedback, Doctor?” the human called Anna Clark interjected. “Have you considered whether it might have a detrimental effect?”

    “In opposition to its own natural wavelengths, you mean?” Smith inquired. “I think it may experience some initial discomfort, but the brain should remain intact, and the integrity of the thought process will be preserved. According to our neural design, Mewtwo ought to be able to resist intense amounts of pain, anyway.”

    Did they think I could not hear?

    “Excellent,” said Clark, delighted. “Another question, Doctor, if I may—what exactly are you going to do with the creature once today’s tests are finished? We can’t exactly leave it sitting in the remnants of its constitutional chamber for the rest of eternity.”

    “Oh, I suppose Gladys might be able to rig up a cage for it in one of the back rooms. Perhaps even a facsimile of a habitat might be possible—she is quite inventive. We’ll bring it food and water in the mornings before testing—I don’t think it’ll need very much—“

    I pulled away from them, utterly disgusted. I couldn’t bring myself to listen to any more of this. They wanted to put me in a cage. I looked through the gathered minds at images of creatures in cages. The company I saw there was less than inspiring. In fact, it was utterly humiliating. Very young Pokémon might be kept in cages. Infantile humans lived in a loose approximation of a cage. Small insects and other tiny, trivial creatures were kept in cages. It was obvious to me, and yet somehow mind-bogglingly esoteric to them, that cages were for unthinking, weak, unformed creatures. The idea of putting something with a mind, something that could think, something that wanted to make its own decisions, in a cage so that it could not escape—it was disturbing. Would these humans put each other in cages? They were certainly intending to do so to me.

    And worse, they thought it would please me. Yes, when Smith thought of a “habitat,” he imagined a flimsy construction of paper painted to look like a forest, and he actually imagined I would think myself at home, docile and content. How could they be so unceasingly stupid?

    And yet I was bound to them. There was no way of escaping that; these brainless clowns had somehow managed to put together a being that could outthink them, and now they intended to order their creation at their leisure. I owed them my life, and yet they spent my existence thoughtlessly. And what made it worse was that they had no plan for me, no intention. They had simply made me because they wanted to. And now they would do whatever they wanted to do with me, according to their random whims, until the very end of time.

    I could have accepted killing Mew as my life’s goal, I could have accepted any one of a number of things as an ultimate objective. But this! Anything but this banal, never-ending lack of identity, this eternal emptiness! They would keep me here until the foundations of their laboratory had decayed away, and I would never learn anything new about the world ever again. I would never experience anything beyond these halls, I would never know what Mew looked like in the flesh, I would never know what place it had visited in the depths of my dreams, and I would never see that white mountain with my own eyes—

    Had I known the words for it, I would have silently screamed, DAMN THEM! I would have damned them from every side, damned their every feature, letting hatred drip through my mind, echoing endlessly in the chambers of my soul. As it was, I could only curse them without specific words. But that, somehow, was enough. I knew, and reveled in my knowledge, that this group of human beings was vile, foolish, and on some fundamental level, insane. Their insanity dripped onto me with an acidic touch, and I could not get away from it, because I had been put together from their dreams.

    Had they laughed at the little gestating fetus inside a tube of orange liquid, finding it comical and strange? Of course they had. Had they anticipated the dramatic escape I would make from my chamber? Had they expected my feeling of pride, my pioneering glory at escape and exploration? Of course they had. And had they mocked me for it, knowing that the world was not constrained to a single cylinder of fluid? Of course they had. Who could not laugh at such a sorry spectacle? The stupid, mindless creatures had enjoyed the advantage over me from my very birth. No wonder they thought me a fool. They were heirs to this world, and everything they took for granted, I had to discover as an outsider. Why should they have such a privilege, when they obviously did not deserve it in the slightest?

    And then there was Mew. I found myself hating that little pink creature, too. My own ancestor, my progenitor, was a real, living thing. I did not know how long it had been in the world, but I was certain that it had never had to be introduced to life by a tribe of moronic tinkerers. It was not shackled to the whims of the human race. In fact, it refused to give them any sway over its life. I recalled Smith’s description of the creature, flying wherever it liked, barely glimpsed by humans and always escaping their grasp. Its carved eyes were clearly mocking me now, gloating about its freedom, laughing at my chains. I hated it, knowing that it would never hate me, that it would never even know me, that my very existence was irrelevant to it. And yet its existence was all I had. I was the inferior, as always.

    I did not need any of this. I did not deserve any of this. Why could I not have stayed in blissful slumber for all eternity, never realizing that there was a world, never even needing one? Why could I not have stayed among the mountain, and the trees, and the waters, and the sky? The humans had robbed me of that world, I realized. They had robbed me of that world just as they had robbed me of my every achievement, my every aspiration, my every attempt at an identity.

    And what was that terrible gap, that yawning emptiness, that seemed to stretch before my dream like an unanswered question? There was meaning there, I knew, profound meaning, yet I could not access it. I could not even begin to guess what had been there. The humans had stolen that from me, too, I was certain. One of their machines, or processes, must have taken away that part of me, that vital fragment which would tell me about myself, who I really was. Another insult in the endless litany the humans could call their lives’ achievement. Were they satisfied, to create a living, thinking creature and give it no reason to exist, no reason to be? Were they proud that they had forced a new entity into a Creation that rejected it? Were they enjoying having complete control over me?

    The thought suddenly gave me pause. Why should they have complete control over me? Or any, for that matter? They were simple, weak creatures, unable to grasp even the rudiments of psychic power. By what method could they force me to do anything? Certainly they claimed authority over me, but what legitimacy did their argument possess? By their own admission, I was the most powerful psychic who ever lived, while they were constrained to interacting with the immediate, the things they could reach with their hands. I imagined them trying to overpower me, and saw at once it was a ridiculous notion.

    Why, then, was I giving them so much power over me? Perhaps it was simply that I first experienced them as emissaries of information. I had imagined, at one point, that they knew much more about this world than I did, and indeed, I did learn much from them. But they simply had more experience of the world than I had. Thus they seemed intelligent, but only until their information was exhausted; in many respects it was now obvious that they were foolish and ignorant. And I was letting them manipulate me like an object, use me like something that could be thrown away. But I did not have to accept that. They could not make me do anything I chose not to do.

    I thought of their idea of putting me in a cage again, and shuddered at the thought. The prospect they had offered me was terrifying: exist pointlessly, doing nothing, in a world that had no place for me. But now I saw another option. If they could not offer me an identity, if they could not give me a reason for being, I would force them to show me one. And if they refused to recognize me as a living, thinking being, I would make them see the truth. I would make them understand what they had created. I was their equal, perhaps even their superior, and they had no right to do this to me. Soon that would be undeniable.

    I wish I could say I knew why I did what I did next. But memory makes fools of us all. It would be ideal to be able to say: “Yes, I chose to go down that path, even if I was ignorant of the consequences.” To be able to say: “I accept the blame, and the responsibility.” But I truly do not know whether I made a choice that day. Perhaps it was all accident, a form of flinching, a reaction to the stimuli of my awakening. Perhaps who we are is always determined by the conditions of the universe around us, and the things we do, we do because there was nothing else we could have done, and thus we bounce around the cosmos like so many terrified billiard balls. Or perhaps neither of those things are quite true. Perhaps when we make choices in ignorance, they add up into choices that we never chose to make; perhaps a succession of implications can circumscribe your life for you, turning you into something you never expected to become. Telling you how your story is to be written.

    I wish I remembered if I made a choice, or why I made one. I wish I had known the implications of what I was doing, that there are better and worse ways of demonstrating an identity. Perhaps then, I would not have to look back on that day and see it as the first of my many failures. Then again, perhaps my destiny was inescapable. The laboratory was not the only ingredient in my reckless ambition, after all. Other forces were lurking around the entire event, and in being handed over to them, I might have initiated the entire sequence after all.

    But that does not keep me from mourning the chance I might have had.

    All I knew in that moment was that I refused to capitulate, that I would not allow idiots to manipulate me. I would not let them draw the borders of my soul. I would not allow them to give me a nothingness for an identity, and a number for a name.

    I kept thinking of my progenitor and counterpart, who didn’t even know I existed. Mew would not have allowed humans to do this to it, that I knew. Mew would make itself free, as it always did. It explored the world, finding answers to its questions; it experienced life as no other being could. And no doubt it knew why it existed. The image of Mew, flying over the mountain, gloriously alive, kept coming back to me. I envied Mew that kind of freedom. In fact I craved it, lusted for it with a burning passion. I thought I might have a chance to achieve that kind of freedom, but only if I claimed it, only if I took action right in this moment. Only if I sought that kind of freedom with every fiber of my being. I was determined to do anything and everything I could to set myself free.

    And I hated this bunch of humans, who called themselves my creators. That, in the end, may have been the inescapable deciding factor. I wanted them to accept me, to understand me, to give me a purpose, to give me an identity better than a simple shrug. But as my frustration grew, that need turned into hatred. I began to hate everything about them, from their pale skin, to their laughter, to their identical white clothing. It became more than a need for an answer, it became a need for revenge. I wanted to tear them apart with my own pain. I wanted them to suffer.

    “I reject this,” I projected quietly.

    Smith, who had been gabbing away excitedly about “the opportunity for expanded funding,” turned my way with a confused smile.

    “I didn’t quite catch that, Mewtwo,” Smith said.

    I clenched my hands together into approximate, three-fingered fists. Contemplation alone was no longer effective. It was time to act. I shaped my next statement to be terrifyingly loud, letting it thunder through the minds of everyone in the room.

    “I REJECT THIS,” I said again, and watched as the human scientists jumped in alarm.

    “Really, Mewtwo,” mumbled Smith, who was clutching his ears. “You don’t need to be quite that intense! What exactly is it that you reject?”

    I waved a thin, bony arm around the room. “All of this. Everything.”

    Smith frowned. Worry was beginning to pulse through him.

    “I’m afraid I still don’t quite understand,” he said uncertainly.

    I turned my head to face him and stared him directly in the eyes again. I said nothing for a moment, allowing him to grow steadily more uncomfortable. After a few seconds had elapsed, I said, in a voice that was a whisper, but one that could be heard by all:

    “Then I will make you understand.” It was almost a purr.

    I do not know what Smith saw in my eyes when I said that, but I know it chilled him to the core. I saw naked, burning fear dancing in his heart.

    Then I snapped my head away and stared for a moment at the wall across from me. The other humans, who had been watching my motions as if hypnotized, swiveled their heads in an attempt to make out what I was looking at. But this was an entirely misguided assumption. The opposing wall held no particular interest for me. I was simply letting my eyes fix idly upon it while looking for the best thing to break.

    I thought back to my birth. I had been so delighted, so exultant, when I had broken out of my confines and tasted the air for the first time. Then these humans had snatched that victory from me. It was time to reclaim it, I thought. It would be more than appropriate. A smile spread over my face at the idea.

    I reached out and shattered the constitutional chamber next to me, taking painstaking care to render it into a myriad of beautifully intricate shards of glass before letting the orange liquid burst out onto the floor to my right.

    The gathered human beings had all gone very pale, Smith palest of all.

    “Mewtwo,” he whispered, in a hoarse, broken voice. His eyes were begging me, pleading with me. “Don’t do this.”

    I ignored him. The sight of the broken canister, oozing orange liquid uselessly onto the tiles, sent a thrill rushing through me, a sense of my own power. Already the humans were beginning to fear me. What would their reaction be if I destroyed more of the precious equipment they had used to construct me? Would they begin to realize their own uselessness? What a delightful thought. I began to feel like I was burning with life, filled with an energy as blue and as beautiful as the sky.

    I turned my attention to the three tubes behind me. One by one, I smashed the glass in each of them, cracking the surface of the first slowly and lovingly, and then accelerating with the second and third, caught up in the thrill of destruction, eager to see how fast I could burst them open.

    By now the human scientists were terrified. Most were paralyzed with fear, but one began to run at me in an attempt to grab me and make me stop. Perhaps he meant only to restrain me, but then again, perhaps he wanted to strangle me, or bash my brains out. Whatever his intention, the attempt was doomed.

    This time I made the air itself my ally, wielding it like a weapon. The moment I saw the man lunge forward, I threw a wall of atmosphere at the humans, letting concentrated particles expand in a great sphere from the space around me. The blast threw the room’s humans in every direction. Many were flung against the walls and collapsed, suddenly motionless. The ball of wind slashed at the tiles of the floor, cracking the ground below me and stirring up enormous spirals of dust. Dizzy with how well this endeavor was going, I threw another assault at those who were trying to get back on their feet, and sent ripples of motion through the floor, so that a miniature earthquake rocked the great room.

    Then, humans dealt with for the moment, I began to slice open one of the two great machines that dominated the room, which already seemed to have been beaten up by the wind. Reminding myself irresistibly of my experiences with the glass panes, I carved long, thin, branching lines up the length of the machine, slicing through the great circular panels. As I gouged, circuits sparked and sizzled. A few caught fire, and the leaping flames sent explosions rocketing up the length of the machine.

    Even with all this turbulence, one of the humans—I thought it was Anna Clark— managed to stagger over to a lever on the wall and pull it down with all the force she could muster. Instantly, enormous metal arms leapt out from hidden chambers in the ceiling and walls. Their gleaming claws came at me so fast that I barely had time to react. At the last moment, I grabbed everything within a foot’s distance of me, and held it in place in a tiny sphere of stillness. The claws seemed almost alive as they struggled to overcome my hastily-thrown together defenses, snarling and tearing at the air around me.

    Well, I thought, as I attempted to find my way out of a cage of twitching, hinged metal poles, this is unexpected.

    Evidently the humans weren’t completely stupid. Some rare generator of insight must have anticipated a situation in which their creation might start attacking the laboratory. I had to admit, I was impressed, But, as I gazed at the thicket of arms I was holding in place around me, the more it seemed possible to slash my way through. Their major advantage had been surprise. I drew cracks in some of the flailing arms, exposing circuitry which hissed and sent sparks onto other metal limbs. As I kept hacking away at the claws and wrists of the mechanical arms, intermittent explosions began to aid my efforts. Before long, I had shredded most of the arms up to the first joint, and after that it was easy to throw the useless remnants aside with a pulse of air.

    Flames were beginning to burn all around me now, and the humans were screaming, shrieking, running in utter terror. Their only weapon against me had failed. So much fear surged from their minds now that it was difficult to pay attention to what I was doing. Their fear clung to me like an oozing cloak, sometimes leaping at me in violent, stabbing bursts. But its source was clear, and I found myself enjoying it. Look at the power I have over these humans, I told myself. Now my whims are all that matter to them.

    With a flick of my head, almost a nod, I sliced open a gash between wall and floor, so that the circuitry in the walls joined in the sparking, flame-igniting mayhem. An enormous explosion threw several of the struggling humans onto their backs once more. I did the same with the opposite wall, admiring the symmetry of it: two walls, two fires, two explosions.

    Then I began an all-fronts assault on everything I could think of destroying. I punched open holes in gauges, parading smoothly down the rows of dials, crumpling levers, shattering screens. I squeezed terminals into useless lumps of metal, slit open pipes which burst with steam and liquid, threw panels at the ceiling. The sounds were exciting: the roar of exposed pipes, the constant shattering of glass, the clanging of terrified klaxons, and, my very favorite, the echoing bangs of explosion after explosion.

    As a final touch, I turned to the machines again. This time I ripped out their hearts, sending all their circuitry flying into jagged piles in the corner. Tremendous explosions rocked the room, and the smell of burning flesh joined the sound of screams. There were corpses all around, and their number was only growing.

    I could have stopped there, point made. I know I could have. But in seeing the humans lie there, still, extinguished, the frenzy of destruction only grew in me. I saw others attempting to run, and I pursued them, striking them down with bursts of fire. It became a twisted game, in which I hunted down every human that remained alive, trying to eliminate them all from a mental list of targets. Soon, I perceived only one mind in the room was still shrieking at me. I lifted up my body and swam through the sea of fire over to the wall. A single human huddled against the wall, shaking.

    It was Doctor Vincent Smith. Of course. How appropriate. His glasses were cracked, his face was covered in dust, and he was muttering something under his breath. A gash on the side of his head dripped blood onto his once-white coat. I flew closer, and pushed aside the flames for a better view. There he was, quivering behind an exposed pipe which now spat gas into the air. The firelight, which stained the room red, gave me a better view of his face than I had ever seen before. His eyes seemed somehow larger, his gaze intense. He stared at me, face twisted, and seemed to come to some sort of conclusion. His eyes met mine, this time of his own volition, though his mouth kept moving. What was it he was saying? I strained to listen.

    “We dreamed of creating the world’s strongest Pokémon,” he whispered. “And we…” He coughed as he tried to get the words out. “And we succeeded.”

    Hearing those words brought me a sweet, rich satisfaction. Finally, this man knew what he had created. I had broken his arrogance, and forced him to accept that I was his superior.

    And on that note, it was time to get rid of Doctor Vincent Smith.

    I was also eager to find out what lay beyond these walls. An idea struck me: why not destroy the entire laboratory, using the methods that had served me so well? I reached out with my mind, and tried to examine all the contours of the building. Before long, they appeared: the room I had torn apart was part of an enormous, round lump of a structure with a few projections up into the sky. Nothing surrounded it but an empty expanse of solid material, which eventually bent straight downwards into a sort of pillar. The place was entirely isolated. Perfect, I thought.

    I grabbed the walls of the complex, carved innumerable cracks into its features, and held them there with exhilarating effort. Then I created another sphere of air, and let it expand further than any I had yet created, as I let go of the enormous shards of metal. The two pseudo-explosions combined to slice apart the entire building and everything in it. Part of the roof of the complex cracked off and began to fall inward. I caught it as it fell and squeezed it into a million shards. I knew that Smith, in some pulverized form, now lay dead upon the floor.

    Those were my first murders. I would not blame you if you hated me for them; indeed, I would gladly join you in that detestation. I often think about those men and women whom I killed. What were their last thoughts as I approached them like an angel of death? None will ever know. If souls are annihilated upon death, then I extinguished them; if not, then I took on a power that is God’s alone. Either way, I am a sinner.

    I took these actions in ignorance, like a bloated, idiotic child. But ignorance should not excuse them. Yet I cannot believe I ever was so callow, so foolish, as to think of murder as a way to solve my problems. How could I have been that person? How could I not have seen another way? But death was to be my tool and companion for a long time.

    You may see now why I find it hard to forgive myself for all that I have wrought.

    When the light and rush of sound faded, I found myself floating above a pool of slowly fading flames. I gradually lowered myself onto a scorched platform, and gazed at something I had only seen once, and then in a dream. It was the sky.

    Admittedly, it was a bit hard to make out. Thick clouds of dark smoke floated up into the atmosphere , obscuring my view. But in patches, I saw satisfying glimpses of blue. I had broken free of constraints. I had finally entered the real world.

    There was something intensely bright up in that sky. I attempted to look at it, but vexingly, my eyes automatically turned me away. How annoying. I attempted to reach out and grab it with my mind, but found I could not. This was even more vexing. Either this strange light source was impossible for me to control, or it was nothing more than an illusion. I would have to investigate that mystery again later, when I knew more about the world.

    Never mind such things, I told myself. I stood and reveled in my victory. I was, truly, the greatest psychic alive, the greatest of all Pokémon. I had conquered my creators and proven that I was their superior. No one could deny me that, now.

    But something like regret began to enter into me. I had eliminated the humans without stopping to investigate what I was doing. Had it really been necessary? I didn’t know what happened to humans when their bodies stopped moving. Were they erased? If so, was it perhaps a bit unfair to erase humans when I, so vehemently, had cried out against erasure myself? I didn’t know anything about this subject, and I wished that I had asked them.

    That was the other thing. I had destroyed my only source of information about the world. I didn’t know where I was, or where I should be going. Or what I should do next. Perhaps my planning had been less than complete.

    The stone with the carving of Mew caught my eye. Its glass had shattered, but it lay there amongst the flames, remarkably intact. Was it beseeching me? Or was it mocking me once again?

    Would Mew have attacked the humans? I felt less sure of myself, thinking about the possibility. No one had described Mew as a creature that attacked humans; it simply left their presence if they tried to capture it. Perhaps that was what I should have done.

    Then again, perhaps that was a failing of Mew’s, another way I proved that I was superior. Perhaps Mew would not have had the courage to do what was ultimately necessary. Perhaps I transcended Mew, and I should celebrate my drive and resolve in destroying the greedy, grasping humans. I was not sure. No answers waited for me in the carving’s eyes.

    The fact remained, regardless, that the humans, my only source of information, were dead. And I seemed to be stuck on an isolated, lonely outcropping of rock. The rocky pillar was surrounded by a bluish liquid—I remembered this substance, it was water!—which dashed against its sides with the energy of a living creature. I watched a few repetitions of this with interest, listening to the rhythmic sound it made as it pounded. The water stretched for what seemed like eternity. I saw and felt nothing out there. What if there was nothing? The thought was absurd, but what if I had just destroyed all that was interesting in the world? No, that was implausible. The humans had spoken of things beyond.

    Still, what if whatever was out there was too far away to get to? I could pick myself up and fly until I found something, but how would I know if I was going in the right direction? It might be a frustrating or even dangerous process. Yet I could think of no other way to leave the outcropping. I appeared to be stuck between equally problematic options, and I wished again that I still had human minds and human advice to guide me.

    Then a faint buzzing caught in my ears. I turned toward the source of the sound, and saw, barely perceptible, a faint black speck against a patch of the blue sky. It appeared to be growing very slowly larger, which I thought might mean that it was coming nearer. The sound was also gradually increasing.

    So, I was not stuck here after all! Something was happening to me. I didn’t know what it was, but I eagerly looked forward to any change. Excitement rose within me. I had a strange sense that my destiny was flying to meet me, that a future and a purpose and a plan were contained inside that mysterious speck.

    Little did I know how right I was. For good and for ill, the encounter that was rushing toward me at that moment would come to define my life forever.

    [END OF PART ONE]

    *******

    Sorry to take so long on this one! I've had it ready for a while, I admit, but frustration with VBulletin made me hold off for a while. Finally I've decided to just give in. Hopefully the format of this thing will make a bit more sense now that Part One's been completed. At the moment I'm working on Part Two, which is getting rather long.

    Enjoy!
    For various reasons, (not least because I've grown tired of this username), I've moved my operations over to other websites. If you're interested in following my adventures as I explore and subvert the many worlds of Nintendo through prose, look for me on Archive of Our Own, Bulbagarden, or OverClocked ReMix as "Daidalos."

    And if you're a fan or a comic-maker from the old days, thanks for more than five unforgettable years of community, comics, and creativity. And thanks for remembering.

    Peace out.

  7. #7
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    A very good fic, I'm very impressed with how you are able to describe such common mundane things, and how it still is such a great read. I can respect that a lot, simply because I'd have no patience for it in my own writing.
    Definitely looking forward to reading more of this, certainly subscribing. Sorry for the brief review, but typing on my ipod is not very fun.
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