If I could have told my younger self anything before he left home, I would say, “You'll see a cave near Cerulean. Ignore it; forget about it if you can. Do whatever else you want, but don't go near that cave.” -Red
A/N: This is based loosely off some Fridge Horror from the early Pokemon games, so this is a dark and odd story.
A Million Thoughts in Red and Gold
White crystals touch skin and turn to tiny kisses of water. Wind is not sharp today, but it nips as a reminder of life. In this realm near the sky, there is little color aside from that which is brought here: the rich yellow of a Pikachu's fur, the faded red of a coat, the lush green, red, and yellow of a Venusaur, mostly the self and friends. Otherwise, it is the gray and silver of rocks, the brown and black of earth, the white... white, white, white, all around, gently falling now from a white-gray sky, but sometimes bombarding downward, sometimes playing up and around, sometimes sitting on the ground not changing. A good deal of it descends the mountain in the spring, but there is always some.
You ever want to leave this snow behind? You could find a quiet place in a better climate. You've seen such places. Or does your insistence on staying here indicate an unspoken desire to remain numb to your problems?
Look down at the device in hand. It is resilient, a sphere that fits in a palm. Some violet and red show underneath the gray bindings. Was it a mistake to do this? But the questions aren't exactly what was expected. It could happen again. The eyes close, sending the world of white into a world of black. Memories and thoughts bubble up within, terror and tragedy threatening to drown out all else once again.
The bindings muffled the world from my notice. I was given what I wanted unexpectedly. But what did you want? What do you want in this?
A scent like a summer garden strokes through the hair. Looking outward, it is Venusaur, concerned and trying to reassure for a smile. But smiles were lost long ago. Pikachu steals a red and white hat to put upon his head, striking an eager pose when it is there. In the mind, it is known that that should be funny. But there is that dark scar in the mind which dampens any mirth. These two, and the others, they have stayed and tried for so long. Try to smile for him. Even if it's hard. Gratitude for them is still there, but happiness is harder to reach.
Then, back to the device, the Masterball. There is a loose edge in the rough gray bindings. Take that piece of the tape and pull at it to get another piece off. Having been on for at least a year, it grips on stubbornly. But it is coming off. It will come off.
There is another device here, one that breaks up the voice of the wind with more substantial voices and songs. The radio is also a tough device, as it is a camping model made to endure conditions in any wilderness. Shaped like a brick and about as attractive, some familiar names and voices are plucked from the air with it. Some new names even become familiar. “Joining us today are two famous faces in the Johto and Kanto regions: one of our regulars, the world-renown Professor Oak, and a new star in our regions, recently recognized as the second duo-region Champion, Gold. Congratulations on your great accomplishment.”
That piece of tape is gone, curling close to the thumb. But it did not leave an obvious grip point for the next. Search for the next loose edge, but listen to the radio as well. That was a good battle commentary to listen to, when Gold won regional championship in the Pokemon Leagues, twice. He deserves it.
“Thanks, sir.” He has a voice full of youth, yet he does not take pride strongly.
He is like you, so you feel a kinship to him.
No... not like. Close, but not like. It does not mean his accomplishments are any less admirable. When trouble came, he did the right thing. The news had come even here, thanks to the radio.
“What do you plan to do now that you've accomplished something only one other has?”
“I want to find him. Red, I mean. I had hoped to find him when I was traveling through Kanto, because he really inspired me. There were times when remembering what he did helped me to be brave.”
“No one has seen Red in a year, though.”
“I know. But I think I have some good ideas on where to look.”
That should cause a stop in everything. It nearly causes the heart to stop. Looking for Red? What should be done about that? To be around someone other than the Pokemon would bring back that horrible pain. Gold would be disappointed if he succeeded. He would have to be driven away.
Are you so certain he would be disappointed? You have been in the silence of this place for so long, away from all others. Do you remember how they feel about you? Do you want to know what they remember about you? Because I can let you hear what their minds think about when they think on you.
The radio transmission turns to static before it changes. Then it speaks in Oak's voice alone. With that, the current task is forgotten.
It was on their last day of school that I decided on it.
That was an exciting time. All my life, I wanted to know more about Pokemon. But no resource that I had ever found could satisfy my curiosity. There was never a reliable book about all Pokemon; there were too many with old wives' tales left unproven, factual errors. Many years ago, I had decided to create my own resource, with facts and detailed descriptions, of every Pokemon that was out there. I thought it would be a series of books like an encyclopedia, the ultimate index. But then computers caught my attention and in them I found that a more efficient means of storing, comparing, and organizing all the data that I needed. At the time, I was just waiting on the delivery of the prototype models of my life's work, the Pokedex.
Even at that point, I was a busy man. I had studied more about Pokemon than anyone else alive had done, in a broad range instead of a narrow band of interest. I can't even say when I crossed the line between being made fun of because of my obsession and being held in awe for the exact same thing. Every day, I'd be getting phone calls or emails from colleagues around the world, asking me some question or searching for my opinion. As much as I wanted to, I knew that I could not do the field research myself.
At first I considered my aides, but they were often as busy as I was, running other errands and assisting me in research. I considered one of the members of the Pokemon League. After all, they were esteemed experts as well. But they were experts for a very few Pokemon, one type or even a small handful of species. I needed a broader range. I needed someone willing to travel, curious to know, and free of obligations. That was how I decided that I should work with novice Trainers, those just setting out to explore our world and learn about Pokemon.
And it was as I was talking a walk around town that I decided on who specifically to start with. There were my own grandchildren, Blue and Daisy. However, Daisy didn't have an inclination to travel yet, and Blue... well, my daughter had spoiled him. In a way, I don't blame her. During the Great War, I lost my wife, my two sons and another daughter, and an older grandson. The last had only been eleven when he ended up on a battlefield among the bodies. A horrific time; I'm so grateful the world seems to have moved on from its sick fascination with war.
I had come by the graveyard near Pallet Town, thinking of visiting the memorial for my family members. And I saw Red there, our neighbor. He and Blue have known each other since they were infants, seemingly friends right from the start. Red was a quiet boy, very studious and kind. That afternoon, he was sitting in front of one of the more recent graves, that of his father.
Red's father... oh, he was said to be a great man, a great Trainer of Pokemon. Which in those days meant that he had survived many battles. He and his Pokemon team had defended the city of Viridian all on their own when a surprise attack force appeared, hoping to cut off ties between Kanto and Johto. He spent the years after the war in Pallet Town, refusing to fight any more and supporting the peace movement. He had even been against the formation of the Pokemon League at first, calling it an echo of days when children and their Pokemon were conscripted into war by idle politicians in lofty towers. However, he changed his mind, even saying that he would help Red capture his first Pokemon so that he could challenge the League. This was before he died in the winter.
As one might expect, Red took it hard. He withdrew within himself, not speaking for several months. Even then, he rarely smiled. He didn't seem sure of what to do with himself, other than to visit his father's grave every day after school.
Looking at him, I had a sudden idea that I should ask Red to work on the Pokedex for me. He needed something to do. More importantly, being with a Pokemon would help him. Their love can do wonders for a person struggling with grief, or other problems. I had some Pokemon that I wasn't doing anything with. In fact, I could think of three that would be of good use to new Trainers. That would be one each for my grandchildren, and one for Red.
I was sure that it would help him find a new purpose in life.
People often say that I had a special knack for picking out extraordinary Trainers. There was Red, and later Gold. Then there were others that I was able to say they were skilled before I knew what they had already accomplished, like May. When it comes down to it, it's nothing extraordinary, even shameful. I was able to point out their raw talents because in the Great War, I had learned how to pick out which Trainers would survive.
It really isn't all that different. Back then, I didn't want to be in the great battles. I was a scholar, I would protest to the recruiters. But that only worked for so long; they kept pressuring people to fight, and die, for the homeland. I often don't understand why it didn't occur to them sooner that this promise of glory only devoured the vast majority of our young people, and the Pokemon. Despite my qualms, I had to do something. So I got myself hired as one of the recruiters; that way, I wouldn't be in as much danger.
Before long, the most senior of all the recruitment officers, himself a veteran of the wars, decided to take me under his wing. It may have been the way I questioned so many of the new soldiers about their Pokemon, or how much knowledge I had of many Pokemon. He gave me a lot of valuable knowledge and skills, not the least of which was being about to point out Trainers with the best potential.
Whether it's peace or war, the personal ability of the human partner to fight is irrelevant. The Pokemon partner would be doing much of the fighting. But even its natural and trained capacity did not always mean success or failure. The factor that can make or break a team in a battle of war or a battle of peace is how both sides interact.
When I meet a new Trainer, I observe how they behave around their Pokemon. What kind of contact they make, how they watch the Pokemon, how they speak to it, how easily and quickly they answer a few questions about their Pokemon. And I observe how their Pokemon behave around them. What kind of posture the Pokemon has, how they respond to their Trainer, how their reactions differ when their name is called by their Trainer or another person. When a Trainer and Pokemon are relaxed around each other, respond to each other positively, and look to each other first when potential danger shows, then you know that that pair or group will perform excellently together. There are other signs, such as how each reacts when a new person or Pokemon is encountered, and how they play together. This is how I spot real talent among a group of hopefuls.
Red had many Pokemon over his journey, but he treated them all with love and respect. Even when he first returned to my lab shortly after he left, he would already kneel down by his Bulbasaur and talk quietly to it. And the Bulbasaur would watch him attentively, following his every step.
I guess back during that summer, I was still frustrated with Red. He was lucky, even if he didn't realize it. Whenever I saw him with his father, I would feel jealous that he had his father around. Sure, Red's father was a cool guy and he would invite me along if they were going to do something fun. But my father died before I could know him. Most every kid I know has only one parent around; a few don't even one. So for Red to have both of his parents, I think everyone was a little jealous at least.
When his father died, I was sad for a bit too. He was an awesome guy. I also felt secretly glad because now my friend was like me. Not that I'd ever say that openly. It was just some unfairness that had been eliminated.
But then Red was so upset over it that he hardly said or did anything. And he stayed that way for months. My mom kept telling me that he'd suffered a big loss and needed my support, not my complaints. I didn't get it, though. I thought that he should just get over it so that things could get back to normal. Although these days, sometimes I wish things were like they were then. Maybe if I could do all this again, I wouldn't have been so rude. None of us had any idea of what would happen.
That day we started off... I was really mad, but I was trying to be nice. After all, we'd been friends for a long time and my mom had reminded me again that I should be patient and supportive. I didn't want to be that way. After all, Gramps had told me that he would give me a Pokemon after the school year was over, and that I might be helping him with his research. He said that I'd get to choose. But he didn't say that Red would have the first choice.
Gramps had met with Red that morning at the north end of Pallet Town; Red had been looking over Route 1, especially the tall grass where Pokemon lurk. Since we were old enough to walk, we were told not to go into that grass. Pokemon were feisty creatures that wouldn't know to hold back against a human child, as their own children were capable right from the day they were born. But we were at the age that we could get our own Pokemon, and the easiest way to do that was to go into the grass and try to startle or stun a wild Pokemon into not fighting. However, we wouldn't have to do that.
They came into the lab and Gramps started talking to us. Mostly Red, as he'd already discussed it with me the night before. I wanted to demand that we cut to the chase and get the Pokemon, but I had to be patient and tolerate Gramp's poor idea of a joke. Seriously, we knew that those Pokeballs weren't Pokemon. That should be obvious to anyone.
He then told Red to choose a Pokemon.
At that point, my patience was at its limits. I asked him why Red got to choose, and he told me to wait and I'd get one too. That wasn't the important thing, though. I was his grandson, not Red. Why was he letting him go first?
But as I look back on it, I think I know what he saw in Red that he didn't see in me. I wanted a Pokemon for my own glory. And Red, well, he needed one. Pokemon need people to develop to their best; I've seen it many times now. Red needed something to give direction to his life, and Gramps must have felt that a Pokemon would help him develop to his best.
And my friend was confused too, at first. After a moment, he accepted getting first choice and went over to the table with the three Pokemon. He spent quite some time considering the matter, which just annoyed me. Though to be honest, if I had first choice, I might have taken time too, trying to figure out which one would be best. I didn't, and so when he said that he would take the Bulbasaur, I immediately picked the one that would win a Fire-Grass-Water game and took the Charmander. I would come to regret that choice a little when I realized that the first couple of Gyms were not good matches for a Fire type.
I would also realize that just because I won by type did not mean that I would automatically win a battle. That Bulbasaur could take some hard hits and stay standing.
As time went on... I was really a jerk back in those days, especially to my Pokemon. Having the Pokedex project to work on gave me the excuse to capture as many Pokemon as I could and then cherry pick those that seemed to be strongest. If a Pokemon fainted too many times for my liking, or took too long in taking out another Pokemon, I kicked it off my team. Sometimes I let them go, but more often then not I simply stored them in computer boxes and forgot about them. I didn't view them as other living creatures.
I wasn't even upset when my first Raticate died. He had gotten badly injured in a fight with a Trainer who was much like me, doing anything to win. When I checked on the Raticate, not even the strongest potion I had would seal up the large wound in its side. The first time a Pokemon of mine had gotten badly hurt, the nurse at the Pokecenter had given me a long lecture on taking care of Pokemon and not letting them get that injured. Not wanting to repeat that, I just gave him another potion, recalled him to his Pokeball, and waited it out. He died the next day, still in his Pokeball.
While I did take him to Pokemon Tower for burial, I hardly gave the Raticate a thought. I went searching for new Pokemon and was excited to get a rare Cubone in there. Red told me later that the Cubone's mother had died and her angered spirit haunted upper leves of the tower. He thought that my Cubone had been in there searching for his mother. Thinking back on it, he was probably right. At the time, it didn't convince me to take that Pokemon out of the box and get to know him.
I was so proud at my progress. I was always a step ahead of Red when it came to beating the Gyms. Looking back on my memories, I'm a little sickened at how thoughtless I was. I try to get kids like that now to change, knowing how that mindset feels.
On the other hand, Red may have made slower progress in the League, but he was leaps and bounds ahead of me when it came to understanding Pokemon and making his name famous. He wasn't even trying to become a household name; he just wanted to do the right thing and kept stepping up when no one else would. Wherever I went, I heard people speaking of him in admiration, even in places he hadn't arrived in yet. It infuriated me and I kept trying to be better than him.
I even completely ignored the plight of the people of Silph in order to challenge and defeat him. After hearing all the things he was doing against Team Rocket, I thought that if I were where Rocket was, I could encounter Red. Such an idiotic reason, I know, and probably why I'm not remembered as having been there. Red tried to say something to me, most likely that there were more important things going on than just our rivalry to pay attention to. But I drowned out his words and forced him to accept my challenge. The only thing that accomplished was to make it harder on him, I'm sure.
But aside from that incident... the longer our journey went, the more I saw of Red's smile. His bonds with his Pokemon gave him the confidence and happiness to break out of the shell of his depression. When you watch that speech he gave on the evening he beat me out as Kanto's Champion, you would hardly believe that he had been the withdrawn and silent kid that had left Pallet Town the previous summer.
When I listened to him that evening, I finally realized just how cruel my thoughtlessness towards my Pokemon was.
First of all, it had been really easy to take control in those days after the Great War. All of the old established powers had been eliminated, either through rebellion or being drained of resources. Anyone who had a decent talent for money and some charisma could make it big with minimal effort. Law enforcement was weakened due to the loss of those that could enforce it best. Most of all, no one wanted to be accused of wanting war.
That fear of war was the cornerstone of my empire. Pokemon battles were still acceptable, but under more controlled conditions. If you lost such a battle, it was expected that you would bow out gracefully and not seek revenge. Vengeance was the path to war. That pithy little saying meant that anyone who knew how to train Pokemon well held the most authority. However, few expert Trainers took advantage of that. After all, they did not want to be accused of wanting war.
I had no qualms in exercising my authority through and over my Pokemon. Smooth words could brush away the idea that I was a war-monger. And really, I wasn't looking for war. I had found such a magnificent way of making my fortunes under that fearful peace and I didn't want to squander the opportunity to build my power base. Once I had the authority of a nation, well, then I could look for war and dominate the passive quivering regions of the world. That was my thinking at the time.
By the time Team Rocket was entering its peak, we were making much out of the rare Pokemon market. It was lucrative and easy: find a Trainer with a desirable Pokemon, defeat them in battle, then threaten to turn violence on them unless they handed over their Pokemon. Once we had it, the Pokeballs went through registry changes and the Pokemon were improved based off market research. Then we sold them off to wealthy Trainers who had no desire to dirty their hands and feet in searching for the Pokemon they wanted themselves. Some individual Pokemon we managed to steal back and resell for even more profit. I had a strict protocol for what Pokemon my followers used, both to help them do their jobs and to prevent them from rising up against me.
I definitely did not need the added complication of my followers rebelling. The whole time, I had to keep the other League members from suspecting or questioning me. I had to make all the big decisions in Team Rocket, and head the biggest deals like at the Silph Company. While there were a few who knew I was working both sides, most notably my old colleagues Blaine and Fuji, I had my ways of keeping them silent, mostly the secret that is in Cerulean Cave. If full knowledge of that got far, it could ruin them.
As for Red himself, I have always been amused that the only one who would dare stand up to me was a child. At the time of the Silph incident, I was already operating openly. The other League members were turning a blind eye to my ambitions, out of sheer ignorance, fear, or shame. Adult Trainers were so caught up in the anti-war sentiment that they didn't dare make any moves that could be deemed aggressive. Teenaged Trainers were too enamored of glory in the League or too crushed by the difficulty of that dream to make a move as ambitious as taking on a criminal organization that stole Pokemon. And then, here was this eleven-year-old boy who was much too serious for his age daring to walk straight into the Silph President's office and request, in an unwavering voice, that I stop the takeover because it was criminal and wrong.
I admit that I underestimated him then. But even when I took more caution at Viridian Gym, the loyalty of his Pokemon tipped the scales in his favor. It caused something of a flashback in me, recalling the time I fought in the Great War. Most of the time, I favored staying away from the battlefields and finding profit through supporting the active fighters. But that once, I had been caught in a large battle with only my Pokemon to protect me. People didn't give mercy then. If you lost there, chances were your opponent would kill you and your Pokemon to prevent you from being a reoccurring threat. Or, your opponent would kill your Pokemon and humiliate you; that's what happened to me, caught up against a cruel man.
Laugh if you want, but that remained in my memory for all of my life. It drives me on to keep my Pokemon strong so that I don't have to experience something like that ever again. And when I do lose, even in this age of easily manipulated honor, that man's face and words return to me. I have gotten good at hiding it.
I was larger and stronger than Red was. I could have knocked him unconscious if I wanted. But, his Pokemon would defend him and attacking a Trainer is a certain way to provoke most Pokemon into a fury. Like the old advice went, always kill the human last, or else you will suffer a much more brutal death at the power of their Pokemon. Between that knowledge and my own memory, once Red defeated me, I had to back down both times.
I had heard that Red disappeared after a mental breakdown. I can't think of why such a brave and stoic Trainer would have one. Unless it was because he was a child; many of the youngest soldiers back in the Great War had such problems. Or maybe he did find the remains of the war in Cerulean Cave.
In Kanto and Johto at least, Red was the first big star that only had Pokemon League credentials to his name. Many of us in the Elite 4, and many of the Gym Leaders, we had been involved with the Great War in one way or another. Most often directly. The few other young people that had risen to leadership or fame were only big in their local area, had been taught by old soldiers, or didn't have that spark with their Pokemon that let them shine. Red had a great love for and trust in his Pokemon, and so they gave their utmost for him. If he had been born a decade earlier, he would have been a force to be reckoned with on the large battlefields.
Fortunately, he was born right when peace was beginning, and matured when we realized that we needed a new kind of hero that wasn't linked to war.
He passed through Kanto's League while learning the art of training, and learning about Pokemon. Eventually his beloved team defeated myself and three other masters, as well as his friend's more coldly trained team. We all agreed about his potential, as well as the positive role-model that he could provide for other young people in the land. And so, we suggested that he take on Johto's League, and then see if he could become the Champion on both sides of our joint League. He agreed to that and breezed through that part of the land. Wherever he went, people commented on his modest and kind personality. There was also talk that he was a little distant, which I had noticed. He tended to shy away from conversation and it took some time for him to warm up to a new person. However, this seemed to add a mystique that intrigued people.
The radio and TV networks kept asking for interviews with Red. He didn't always accept, but what interviews he did grant tended to be listened to and watched by many. When he was traveling, some people sought him out for assistance and he nearly always agreed to help, never asking for a reward. When asked what his secrets were in Pokemon training, he would answer that he was still learning, but that it was important to love your Pokemon and listen to them as best you could. His battle records have gone unmatched in two years and even his enemies respected and admired him... really, he was an example of being a hero when you are an ordinary average person.
As for why he disappeared... the trouble all started innocently. He came into my office one day and asked for a favor. So rarely did Red ever ask for anything that I quickly agreed to help him with whatever he wanted. As it turned out, he'd been long curious about a certain cave outside of Cerulean. It was blocked off by the League and even though he was Champion twice over at that time, he still wanted to know if it would be all right for him to go and look around inside that cave. To look for unique Pokemon, that was his stated reason.
It was a simple request and there was no reason that he had to get permission from me or any of the others to go inside. But he was polite like that, and it would have surprised me if he did otherwise. Still, I had to give it a moment's thought. As I told him at the time, I did not know myself what was in that cave. The request for us to block it off had been made by Giovanni, Blaine, and Mr. Fuji. I had asked all three of them at various points why this was, and only Fuji would answer me. He said that during the Great War and the years proceeding it, they had worked as researchers into weapons of war. On one hand, their work produced the TM and HM format of today, as well as more effective healing sprays. On the other hand, it had also produced something so horrific and terrifying that they had to place the weapon behind giant seals in this cave where few people passed by.
I remember when he said that, I thought immediately of one mysterious battle I had fought during the Great War. I don't recall what exactly happened; much of it seems to be missing from my memory. But I do remember feeling something reach into my body and try to eat away at it from the inside, like worms. As well as some sights and sounds from nightmares, possibly from Hell. When I think of that connection, I wonder if I encountered that weapon, but was lucky enough to live and forget about it.
Despite that, I didn't think it would be any harm for Red to go take a look. He had been traveling across many terrains for well over a year then, and his Pokemon were powerful and loyal. I thought that whatever was down there was probably inert and they could handle what wild Pokemon were wandering about. Thus, I told him it was okay for him to go. I gave him a warning that some dangerous item might be there and he should be careful with any TM discs or hold accessories that he found down there. I doubted that he would take this weapon and use it against everyone.
But I really should have thought that the weapon might still be active, and might not be an item at all.
That time was a whirlwind of emotions. I was proud that he had gotten chosen for a project as important as the Pokedex, and I was uneasy because I was reminded of seeing off other boys his age as they prepared to go to war with their Pokemon. I was happy when I heard of his progress through the League, with a renewed sense of hope in the world as he demonstrated a peaceful loving way to work with Pokemon. When he didn't call for being busy or exploring the land, I was worried and fearful. When I saw him smile...
That reminds me of when he became Kanto's Champion and a photographer had come to Pallet Town to get a portrait of him and his Pokemon team. I hadn't realized how many Pokemon Red had worked with until them; it wasn't as ,amy as Blue was claiming to have, but all of Red's Pokemon reacted so warmly to him. His Venusaur nuzzled his ankles while using his vines to keep more active members in check. A Staryu walked awkwardly on land in order to get closer to him, while a Venomoth and Butterfree fluttered around his head. And while they all sought attention from him, they were obedient and did not seem jealous as he organized them all.
But most of all, Red was smiling the whole time. He laughed like the boy he was and gently rebuked his Primeape from picking a fight with his Tauros. He joked with his Alakazam and looked on all of them with love and pride. That afternoon, he seemed to be glowing with joy. And when I thought of how he had been when he left, still solemn and lost after his father's death, it was magnificent to see such a change in him.
Yet even at that time, there was some kind of shadow under his brilliance. He smiled easily to a Pokemon, but seemed hesitant of other people still. It was almost like he couldn't trust the people that he met. I mean, he still trusted me, the professor, and others he knew for a long time. But there was this uncertainty, an unspoken question of 'can I still trust you?' I don't know what caused this in him. He was still kind and polite, but he became slow in asking others for help.
I thought then that I knew Red best, being his mother and having raised him. But I didn't know him as well as I thought, watching him and his Pokemon be immortalized as the strongest team in the region. After the later incident... it was like I didn't know him at all.
I remember getting the call from the hospital in Cerulean: something terrible had happened to Red. After that, I'm not sure. It was worse than hearing of my husband's death; we had some warning that his death could happen and we had talked about it. This came out of nowhere. From what I do remember, it was a lot of dread and questions. Was he going to die? Would it affect him for life? What had happened? When had I last heard from him? I never felt so helpless as I did those days.
Not long after I went over to the Oak's home for some support, Blue arrived and offered to take me to Cerulean. The news had already changed him: he wasn't cheeky about it, didn't act with an inflated ego, was worried and upset like any of us. But even if he had been his old spoiled self, I would have gone with him to be with my son sooner. He gave me his Charizard to ride and rode a Fearow himself to lead the way. I only remember that because of the feel of its warm smooth scales contrasting with the cool air whipping around us.
Next thing I remember was speaking with the doctor outside of the room Red had been put into. They had large straps on the bed, restraining his arms, legs, torso, even one over his forehead. He was screaming, fighting against the restraints but not able to get free. However, there were bruises and bandages all over his body. The doctor said that before they decided to restrain him, he had been lashing out without thought, striking others but hurting himself more than them. They couldn't speak with him. From their observations, he had no idea where he was or what was going on.
I saw that too when they let me in to see him like that. His fearful eyes never settled on me, didn't see me. When I touched or spoke to him, he flinched. If he wasn't screaming, he was begging for someone to stop hurting him. Red would not calm down until they added a second dose of sedatives. It was torture for me to see him like that, unable to reach him and reassure him. I wanted to know who would torture him like that.
After a couple of days, which I spent in the hospital near to where Red was, the doctors finally said that he'd experienced a severe mental attack, the likes of which hadn't been seen since the later days of the Great War. They could take steps to lessen the damage and break him out of his delusions. However, recovering from that kind of trauma took years. Some victims from the War had yet to recover, and they might never do so. Red might never recover.
I couldn't let that happen to my boy. So I stayed close to him, talking to him once he was able to notice. I shared the hospital meals with him, I took him outside to walk and play with his Pokemon, I said that I'd do anything he wanted to do. I would give him anything I could afford, if it would help make him happy, or even just calm.
However, Red had changed. He had gone quiet again; I hardly heard a word out of him and when he did speak, it was only a few words in a quick whisper. He couldn't be reassured with hugs or words. At meals he ate mechanically, hardly noticing what was on the plate. He still responded to his Pokemon, but with other people, even me, he was wary. And he did strange things, like cautiously examining flowers and using duct tape to wrap over one of his Pokeballs.
It was only one ball that he treated like that, one which I never saw what Pokemon it held. And he put several layers over it, making sure that no part of the item showed through the gray. When I asked him what Pokemon it held, he shook his head vigorously and kept wrapping it. Then he would never let anyone touch it, to the point of hiding it when he went to sleep so that no one took it. He treated it like something precious, or something dangerous. It was hard to tell which because he never explained.
After a few months, the doctor let us go back home. Red had signed away his double Championship as soon as it had been suggested. This quest that had taken him two years to accomplish, he dropped the reward for it without a second thought. Although, I'm sure the League wouldn't have let him continue battling and representing them in the state he was in. That would be been too cruel. I thought that maybe once he was back in quiet little Pallet Town, he'd be able to start recovering.
Sometimes he showed signs of progress. Other times he would regress, shutting himself in his room and hardly eating. I had to break out all the things I had used to baby-proof the house and put them back in place, just to make certain that he couldn't hurt himself. For months, it was like living with a stranger that distrusted me.
Then one morning, he greeted me, even calling me Mom. He said that he wanted to go out with his Pokemon for a couple of days, back in Viridian Woods. That desire to do something was a vast improvement over days of apathy and hiding. So, I agreed, packed him up food for him and his Pokemon, and told him to be careful out there.
That was the last I saw of him.
For a long time, people held war as a glorious thing. Defend the homeland, drive out the invaders, destroy the corrupt. It started when we were young; children of about ten years of age were encouraged to go out into the wild and lure a Pokemon to them, to befriend it. Bonds were best made when the Trainer was young, they said. The child Trainer would feed and care for the Pokemon, and the Pokemon would fight to defend the child. By the time both were mature, they would be willing to do anything for their partner. Including wage war.
Battles could be life or death matters for all involved, Pokemon and human. The leaders of the land would train their army of Trainers and Pokemon, and then call for large battles in which the side with the most standing at the end of the day won. In a way, death could be a lucky accident. Lifelong injuries could result, or mental problems would build as a successful pair would be sent into battles again and again and again, to continue to kill and survive.
But that was not as bad as it could be.
There came the invention of the Pokeball. All of a sudden, getting a Pokemon partner was a great deal easier. So easy, in fact, that people could have a whole team of Pokemon working for them. Training also went faster, getting easier. Because of this, the age of the soldiers sent into war kept decreasing. Sometimes those ten year olds that would have started their bonding process ended up on such battlefields, facing death in the name of their country. Some of them barely knew the lands beyond their hometown. And thousands of Pokemon died.
This all led up to the Great War. It was five years of the most continual and widespread battles that has ever been experienced in history. People had developed new tactics and strategies with Pokemon; they were put into their most brutally efficient forms during this time. In the first days, it was a simple struggle of one nation accusing another of killing a prominent figure in a political assassination. Each nation called on its allies to go to war, and those nations called on their allies. Power hungry figures saw the motions and joined in; they cared not for what death started it all, but they saw opportunity in the bloody haze and grabbed for it. There was no neutrality, as anyone who claimed that stance was soon trampled on by those eager to win the greatest war of all.
No one won the Great War. The loss of life was so significant that every nation was on the brink of being bled dry. Hot-headed leaders tried to rally up the remaining spirits, but people were tired of it all. In a disjointed effort, citizens captured their leaders and passed judgment on them, executing them for leading so many to their deaths. As this led to success, more and more nations fell into a state of surrender. But who were they surrendering to? No one. No nation was strong enough to claim leadership over all.
The new leaders declared that the Great War was over. Everyone struggled to repair the damage and reconstruct their lives. One thing was for certain: no one wanted to trigger another war ever again.
The last piece of tape comes off during a general statement on the Great War. The voice for that is uncertain. Now free of its simple imprisonment, the Masterball is coated in remnants of glue and gray fibers. Not sticky, but enough to cling to skin. Should it be cleaned first? Or more importantly, was the risk worth it? What was there to be gained? Or was the loss greater than any gain?
You wanted to catch me. You weren't even surprised that I fought back. But the degree to which I fought back, you haven't seen before or since. I don't blame you for what you did after, but why release me now? You know how dangerous I am... why I should be sealed away as I was.
The tape had blocked off the telepathy, both the words and the feelings. Now, the words ring clear but the feelings are only remembered. It isn't as hostile, but it still has that dangerous power. Maybe it has calmed down and will seek out its own isolation willingly.
But there is what it left behind, the damage it wrecked. In the sheer cold, quiet, and height of this place, with only a few Pokemon close by, it was possible to feel not hurt. But not normal. Normalcy was still out of reach. The idea is, let go of the burden of holding this weapon, the cause of the pain, and perhaps the pain would lessen. Selfish, yes. But if even solitude from humankind and the comfort of the dearest Pokemon to the heart couldn't help, then desire was strong to do anything more.
You've bore the responsibility for a full year, and given me the chance to fully calm down. At this point, I wouldn't call it selfish. But it is me. I'm a weapon, not a healer. If there was something I could do to help you at this point, I would. But there is nothing. Perhaps in the future. But, one may not wish for a situation where my powers would be required. The world is sick of war.
It was also sick with war. The scars it inflicted remain painful, even to those who were born after it had ended. One may try to do the right thing, but so many are wary and passive now that the few who do step forward have a huge burden to bear. Then people keep asking for more and more help, and one tries to keep helping but there is only so much that one person can do and then something burns and cuts deeply into the soul and I had given so much already and what I saw of people gripped my mind and haunted my every thought and I didn't know who was going to attack me next because they all could have because a person's words don't always match their thoughts and the shades of war turned out to be all around us when we were denying them and it was so much horribleness for me to bear when I had been burnt out to a husk of what I had been because ever since my Dad died. It seems like I hardly have any support from anyone unless they want something from me but he told me to always be helpful and do the right thing because every little bit of goodness helped to make the world a better place but then I saw the other side of that and I know he was one of the best soldiers in the Great War so he had to have killed others too and I just don't want to think of him that way.
You can't even cry about that now?
That outburst wasn't supposed to happen. One must be careful with thoughts or they rip right into those scars and make them raw again. But yes, it is hard to express things outwardly. The body freezes up and does nothing.
Somewhere near the entrance of the mountain interior, there is a crunch of boots on snow. Someone else is here. Gold? It is a preteen boy, seemingly not much younger. Accompanying him is a large blue and yellow Pokemon, of the reptilian sort but not one commonly seen. A Feraligator, maybe? He was supposed to have a Feraligator.
As he comes up, his thoughts become audible. 'It's so cold up here. Fang seems all right. It was worthwhile to come up here, even if he isn't. But, I thought this was the best possibility out of these lands. Wait, are those footprints... there is another person here. It should be him.'
Down in the snow, there are some impressions of sneakers, having faded due to falling snow. But they are still there. There might be time to escape. However, he has climbed this whole mountain in his search. And more footprints would mark the going, even if the escape was made into the air.
No. It is time to stop this. With just one person now; see how its effects are now. Then further thought can be made, of if it is time to leave or if it is time to stay.
Excitement bubbles through the other's mind as he approaches. 'It is him! I've been waiting for so long. What was I going to say to him?' Gold opens his mouth and begins to speak, but a memory floods the words out.
(continued next post)