LOST IN THE HAZE
When your power is being abused by those who don’t appreciate you, what do you do?
“Here we stand where just moments ago fire fighters struggled to put out this home. The flames have been conquered finally, but the tragedy is not over.”
A shot of a weeping mother being consoled by firefighters flashed across the screen.
“One child was caught in the blaze and didn’t make it out. His charred body is being moved to the morgue. What’s even odder, though, is that firefighters also found the burnt body of a Wortortle just beside the child. It’s not often that you find a water pokemon overcome by fire, which makes this truly a devastating event.”
Professor Saiko shut the projector off with the remote in his hand. “What we theorized has begun to come true.” A round table panel of distinguished scientists from each region of the world had gathered to discuss emerging pokemon evolution patterns.
Four years ago, Professor Saiko and three of his peers had come across a wild pokemon in the bush just outside of his office that had both characteristics of its pre-evolved form and its evolved form. The years after this pokemon’s capture and discovery were devoted to intensive research of its genome for irregularities that could be isolated and identified as the causing agents for the mutation.
At the same time as that peculiar pokemon was discovered, the Pokemon Genome Project (PGP) was completed in Orre. The evolution gene had been discovered in all pokemon DNA: A single chain of genes that remained the same from sample to sample species no matter how different. Removing the gene from a few test pokemon rendered them unable to evolve even when trained extensively. Thus, it was dubbed the “e-gene”. These e-gene-less pokemon healed slower, lived shorter lives, and were overall less resilient creatures than pokemon of normal health. In the following years, the e-gene was manipulated countless times and in countless ways to produce genetically enhanced pokemon. None of the new combinations resulted in anything but either failure of the gene all together or the test pokemon’s death.
Now, three years after the e-gene’s discovery, stories of half-evolved pokemon started to emerge more and more frequently. It was obvious from these natural occurrences that the e-gene could be manipulated successfully and the first to resume experimentation with the gene was Professor Saiko.
four years earlier
“This is your last chance, Chewy. Make me proud, and use Thundershock!” An eager trainer stood over his Pikachu as the yellow rat stared down an opponent on the other side of the made-for-battling sandbox. A small crowd had gathered to watch these two eager young trainers battle it out for pride, honor, and respect amongst other Pokemon trainers. The consequences of this battle may have been small in some more experienced trainers’ eyes, but to these two starting trainers, there was not much more important in the world right now. Each had wagered a considerable amount of money and neither could afford to lose. The red-headed trainer with the Pikachu wore a dark blue shirt with a red-and-white sphere in the center of it; it wasn’t quite a Pokeball, more an imitation of a brand-name shirt.
“Alright Marill, use Defense Curl!” The small blue ball of water-infused Pokemon flesh curled up and began to glow a green color as its defensive abilities rose. Pikachu just stood there, slightly embarrassed. Billy shouted at his Pikachu once again.
“Chewy, I said use Thundershock!” Resolving that complete inaction was the worst possible choice, Billy’s Pokemon charged the Marill with a full-force tackle attack.
“Marill, dodge it!” Marill’s female trainer exhorted. Lucy was a beginning trainer just like Billy. She sported a full and flowing head of velvet-hued hair and a skin tone slightly tanned. Exactly one month before, they had both been given Pokemon to begin their journey, and both of them had grown considerably in strength.
Chewy landed face first in the sand as Marill had dodged his valiant effort at a tackle. Billy looked at his Pokemon exasperatedly. “What are you doing?! I said Thundershock!” The Pikachu got up and looked back at its trainer with the most pitiful expression.
“Marill, use Water Gun!” Lucy’s Marill shot forth a stream of water that scored a direct hit on Billy’s Pikachu. Chewy fainted. The crowd clapped for a moment and then was hushed.
“What is your problem?! You have to be the worst electric type…EVER! Why can’t you use Thundershock?! You’re a Pikachu for cryin’ out loud! Dammit!” Billy looked down at his unconscious Pokemon.
“Billy, don’t be so hard on Chewy. He needs a good rest. Put him back in his Pokeball.” Lucy was awfully sympathetic to their condition now. Billy handed her his money and told her to leave. Having no purpose for being there anymore, she began to walk away and the crowd also began to disperse throughout the rest of the battle park. “I hope I see you and Chewy again sometime, Billy.” She disappeared into the distance as she said this.
“You’ll see one of us for sure.” Billy walked away and left his unconscious Pikachu lying in the sand, abandoned.
11:04 PM, Weather Institute, Independent Laboratory
Currently, Professor Saiko was on the verge of perfecting his code-named Omnistone: A means of pokemon evolution that worked by causing a pokemon’s e-gene to be excited with a large burst of energy.
“It’s just what we need to stop this inexplicable plague of mis-evolution.” Saving the schematics for the stone on his work station computer’s hard drive, Professor Saiko handled the stone itself in the palm of his hands. It had been so simply created, but it took his innovative mind to deduce the right combination of radioactive poke-elements and their concentrations. One thing was left to do, though: Give it the activation energy.
* * *
Chris was still awake in Foretree, and now the lightning wouldn’t allow him to go to sleep.
Looks like I’ll be waiting another year before I’ll be able to get a Pokemon to train with. Too irresponsible, they say. I say, it takes some responsibility to keep up all ‘D’s throughout the entire year! Who am I kidding; I don’t deserve to do anything like train Pokemon and compete in tournaments. I’ll just…I’ll just…I’ll just work at, ah I don’t know. All I can think about is Pokemon…
The worrisome thoughts that pervaded his mind tired him, and allowed him to rest even in the midst of the thunderous storm outside.
“Hey. Hey, buddy,” were the words that he faintly was aware that he was hearing. “Chris!” his brother Charlie finally shouted.
“Huh?” Chris opened his eyes slowly, annoyed. It was summer vacation and, during summer vacation, it was absolutely against all codes of decency and consideration to wake a student at seven o’ clock in the morning.
“Charlie? What are you doing?”
“Chris, you have to get up. Dad never came home from work last night, so I came over to make sure you were okay. You’re gonna have to come over until he gets back.”
He didn’t know it yet, but that day marked the beginning of his journey; a journey more important than most others combined. The days slowly and sluggishly moved past, and no word was heard from Chris’ father. Two days had passed and an investigation called.
“I need to go help.” Over a bowl of cereal with his brother, Chris’ determination had spiked. He now looked resolutely across the table at Charlie, who had seemingly not heard his comment at all.
“What’s this about?” Charlie questioned as his focus stayed fixed on the bowl of Froot Loops in front of him.
“I want to help them find my father,” he restated.
“Kid, you can’t really do anything right now. We just need to wait for the proper authorities to handle the situation.” With this, Charlie got up from the kitchen table and grabbed his keys from the counter.
“But Charlie! I can’t just sit here and enjoy my summer while dad’s missing!”
Charlie turned his head back to face his little brother. Chris was now standing up, milk mustache covering his top lip, caught in the peach fuzz that was his mustache like leaves caught in the bars of a street drain. “Listen, if you wanna help someone, why don’t you do the dishes for me? I mean, you’re not gonna be payin’ any rent, I wouldn’t guess, so it’s really the least you could do.”
As soon as his brother left, though, Chris headed out to the Pokemon Allotment Center.
* * *
“Kid, the season for starting journeys is passed. I can’t give you a pokemon now.”
“Season?! That sounds like b.s. Just give me a pokemon. My father is Professor Saiko!”
The patrons of the Pokemon Allotment Center now changed from sly, haphazard eavesdropping to all-out, conspicuous curiosity. Saiko’s kid not being allowed a pokemon? What would be the outcome of this?
“Saiko’s kid, huh? Well, there’s still no special treatment, kid. Sorry about your dad having been kidnapped, though.”
“Don’t you understand?! It’s almost impossible to travel out here without one of those critters. Impossible times a million if you’re on a mission, too! You have to help me.”
“Ugh!” Chris marched towards the door, indignant but resolute. “No matter, I will find him otherwise.”