Prologue - Genesis
The lab was quiet. It had to be quiet. But not silent. Darius did not like silence, so he made sure some of the machines were left on, so he didn’t get too lonely. Although it was hard to be completely lonely, not with Pokémon. Darius shuddered, and questioned the morality of what he was doing for the ninth time that night, but again that thought was pushed aside so he could focus on the job at hand. In front of Darius was a large pot, sitting on top of an enormous machine. First, Darius picked up a bucket, filled to the brim with thick oozing mud. Pinching his nose, he heaved the bucket over the side of the pot and let the mud ooze out. Darius took a quick breather and reminded himself about the money.
“Stop lazing around, nerd!” a voice shouted. Darius turned towards the sound, and saw a hairy, muscular man, with the letters JSS embroidered in his shirt, emerge from the shadows.
“What are you doing here?!” Darius shouted. “Get out!”
“Wow. Take it easy, nerd,” the man said. “The Boss told me to keep an eye on you. Stop you doing anything stupid. He also told me to help you.”
“Good.” said Darius, and turned back to his work. The JSS! he thought. I wouldn’t be doing this if those imbeciles hadn’t agreed to pay me!
Darius took a few deep breaths to calm himself down.
Too late to back out now.
Darius carefully screwed the lid off a syringe and injected into the mud.
My brain cell. For intelligence.
Then he picked up another syringe, and gazed at it affectionately. DNA. From the leg of the legendary Pokémon Mew.
Darius injected this into the mud as well, causing it to turn a light shade of pink.
Then, Darius leaned forwards, and pressed a button on the side of the machine.
10,000 volts of electricity. For life.
Darius saw the electric pulse blitz through the pink mud, causing it to turn and churn. A glob of electric-charged mud shot up out of the pot, missing Darius’s nose by centimetres. After that, Darius stayed a good five paces back. Finally, after what seemed like an hour, but had actually only been about a minute, the mud stopped churning. A small hatch opened up on the side of the machine, and a blob of the pink mud oozed out and landed on the cold laboratory floor with a plop. Darius leaned forwards, his heart hammering in his chest.
First he saw the mouth. A long, black, ghostly smile near the top of the blob, grinning at some hidden joke.
Then he saw the eye. Just one at first, then the other, two black specks floating in a fluorescent pink void.
“Hello.” It said.
Darius stared at it.
“What is your name, Pokémon?” Darius asked.
“Ditto” it replied.
Darius realized that it wasn’t looking at him, but at a book lying open on a bench behind him. A dictionary.
1. Used in accounts and lists to indicate that an item is repeated (often indicated by ditto marks under the word or figure to be repeated).
2. Used to indicate that something already said is applicable a second time.
Fitting. Darius thought.
“Ditto.” It repeated. “That is our name. You know, as a species.”
“Right,” Darius said. “Do you, uh, have a name? Like, you, personally. As an individual, I mean.”
Ditto looked around for a bit before its eyes settled on a JSS I.D card hanging off a hook.
“Steve,” Ditto said. “My name is Steve.”
Darius looked at the card. It said:
“OK,” Darius muttered.
“What’s your name?” Steve asked.
“Darius,” he replied.
Darius pulled a small ball from his pocket. Its top half was red, and its bottom half was white. A Pokéball.
Darius dropped the ball onto the cold floor of the lab. The ball opened slightly along its seam, and a sliver of blinding white light could be seen coming from inside the ball. Then it opened completely and the white light engulfed the ball entirely, and the only thing that could be seen was a faint silhouette in the ocean of light.
“Magi-KARP!” the silhouette seemed to say, although Darius knew the truth was very different.
The light faded away to reveal a small red fish flopping around pathetically on the lab floor. Darius knew it as Magikarp, a very weak water type Pokémon. But he wasn’t sure if Ditto did.
“That’s a Magikarp,” Darius began. “It lives in rivers and-”
“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Steve said. “I have your brain, remember?”
“Oh. Yeah.” Darius said.
There was an awkward silence. The only thing Darius could hear was the whirr of machinery, and the man from the JSS tapping his boots on the floor.
Darius spun around.
“You!” he said, pointing.
The man jolted to attention.
“Yeah?” he replied.
“Go tell your Boss…” Darius paused for dramatic effect. “It’s ready.”
The man nodded, then ran off. Darius took a deep breath, then turned to face Steve again.
“Steve, could you…?” Darius said, gesturing at the Magikarp.
“Sure!” Steve replied. Steve stared hard at the Magikarp. And kept staring. Darius was just about to ask him if he was okay, when he saw a red tinge appear just below Steve’s mouth. The tinge spread out, and as it did, Darius noticed other changes. Steve was changing shape, becoming elongated. Like a fish. Then a mouth opened on his side, and the transformation was complete. Steve had become an exact copy of the Magikarp.
Darius’s mouth gaped open, and he began to think of the implications of this. He imagined himself taking the title of league champion with a team of dragons. Then he thought bigger. He imagined taking over the JSS, and eventually, the world. The thought made him giddy.
Then the Boss walked in. He was a monster of a man, with legs like saplings, and arms like battering rams. The other man followed him.
“Where is it, nerd?” he asked.
Darius grinned, and gestured to Steve, who transformed back into his usual self. Darius bent down and picked it up. Steve felt squishy, but not unpleasantly so.
“Right here, Boss,” Darius said.
“What’s it called?”
“Steve. He’s called Steve. The species is called Ditto.”
“What does it do?”
“It can transform into any Pokémon in an instance, and it’s smarter than all of your scientists combined.”
“Prove it,” the Boss said. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of money. “You’re not getting paid until you do.”
“Steve, prove it for him,” Darius said.
“Happily,” Steve said. He slid off Darius’s hand and landed on the lab floor with a plop. Steve began to vibrate, just a bit at first, but then more and more, until he was just a mass of churning ooze, which was slowly turning green. It was quite a disturbing sight. It took a few moments for Darius to realise what was happening. Two red feet popped out of Steve’s bottom, and the transformation was complete. Steve had become a Tangela.
Much quicker than last time, Darius noted.
Darius looked at the Boss, and almost laughed out loud. He was standing there, riveted to the spot, with his mouth agape. Darius almost thought he saw drool, but he didn’t have time to investigate, when the Boss realised what he was doing and closed his mouth.
“Wow,” the Boss said. “You did it, nerd!”
“Yes,” Darius replied. “I did it. All on my own. Without your help. Or anyone else’s for that matter. Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t just tell my little friend here to take your money by force and then kill you.”
“Son, that would be a Federal offense,” the Boss said. Darius detected a scared tone in his voice. “Enough to put you in jail for the rest of your life.”
“Not good enough,” Darius said. “Steve, what do you think?”
Steve did not answer the question with words, instead with a flick of one of the vines covering his body. It hit the Boss in the chin, knocking him off his feet and leaving a deep red gash. Steve did not let the Boss get up himself, instead pulling him roughly to his feet, and then tightening a vine around his neck. The Boss’s face went red. With fumbling hands, he drew a handgun from his pocket, and fired four shots blind.
The first bullet missed entirely, flying through an open window and narrowly missing a passing Spearow.
The second bullet landed right underneath Magikarp, who was so surprised, he jumped backwards into the pot of pink mud, where he was absorbed into the ooze.
The third bullet glanced the switch for the machine that had birthed Steve, turning it on and sending a blast of electricity through the mud.
The fourth bullet hit Darius square in the chest.
“No!” Steve shouted. He threw the Boss to the ground and rushed over to Darius. Darius was drawing breath in short gasps. Steve reverted back to Ditto.
“Please, Darius,” Steve could barely speak past his sobs.
“Listen, Steve,” Darius said. “You are the first member of the most powerful Pokémon species to have ever existed. Lead them. Rule them. You can control the world. Make me proud.”
“No!” Steve sobbed. “Don’t leave me!”
“Goodbye, Steve,” Darius said. “You were my greatest creation.”
Darius’s face was strangely calm. After all, he had nothing more to worry about. No more threats, no more depression, and no more JSS. He smiled.
“Goodbye, Steve,” he repeated. “Remember; you can control the world.”
And Darius Harrison closed his eyes for the final time.
Steve howled at the roof. Darius had been his creator, his inventor, and, although he had only known him for about twenty minutes, his friend.
Steve looked around. He saw the Boss lying facedown on the floor, and the other man standing near the door looking shocked and confused. Steve felt rage surge through him. He didn’t try to hold it back. He transformed into Jolteon, an Electric-type dog-like Pokémon. Steve unleashed a mighty Thunderbolt into the Boss’s body. Whether the Boss was already dead or not he didn’t care. He just wanted to obliterate every cell, and every molecule of this mans body. He didn’t stop, he just let the electricity flow.
Finally, after at least five minutes, he was done. The Boss had been reduced to nothing more a smouldering pile of ashes. Steve looked at the other man. He ran. Steve didn’t bother chasing him; there were many more men down there, and they all had guns. Suddenly, Steve heard a plopping sound. Followed by another. And another. Steve followed the sound to its source: the machine that had created him. And on the ground in front of it was a group of Dittos. And the machine was still producing more! Steve remembered the shot that had glanced off the switch. Then he grinned as he remembered Darius’s last words.
You can control the world.
Steve reverted back into a Ditto.
“Listen, everybody!” he shouted. The entire group of Dittos turned to face him. Steve was about to continue talking when he noticed something that disturbed. These Dittos looked different. Their presence didn’t feel quite right, but Steve wasn’t sure why. Then it hit him. It was the smiles. Their smiles weren’t intelligent smiles like Steve’s; they were stupid, idiotic smiles.
The Magikarp! he thought. What if the Magikarp had transferred its intelligence into these Dittos as well? He had to find out.
Steve moved over to the nearest Ditto.
“What is 14 multiplied by 9?” he asked it.
“Ditto,” it said. It wasn’t answering or questioning him; it was just making a noise.
“Ok, let’s try another one,” Steve said. “What’s 8 squared?”
“Ditto,” it said again. Steve sighed.
Steve transformed into a Pidgeot and flew to the windowsill. He looked back, and was shocked when he realised he was the smartest member of his species. He was the one to shoulder the burden. He would have to carry out his creator’s last wishes on his own. Steve felt a wave of intense sadness wash over him, and he held back a tear.
Steve looked out towards the setting sun, and as he did, Darius’s last words ricocheted around his brain.
You can control the world.
Yes. he thought. Yes I can.