Pressed against the ancient oak tree, I watched as the world moved about me. I had been here for the majority of the day and even as the sun crept away and the night took its toll I was content to remain still. I was a silent onlooker. Always there, but seldom noticed.
The night had once been alive with the calls of the Kricketune. Their earthy lullabies spread through the bushes below and right up to the highest of trees, while the Yanma waltzed merrily around the trunks to the cricket calls . The rustling of leaves wasn't always a welcoming sound for it could mean wild predators looking for that night's meal, but it was just a gentle breeze causing the leaves to stir on this particular night. There were clashing sounds every now and again as two Pinsir fought over a mate, smashing each other with their head-pincers in an attempt to wow the clearly-disinterested female. She had her eyes on the glowing Illumise prancing above as they climbed higher and higher towards the moon - but they would never reach the moon. The night was well and truly alive.
There came a revving sound at some point throughout the night. Many of the more timid Pokemon darted away from the loud noises of the vehicle, probably fearing some monstrous Pokemon that was just looking to gobble them up. As the pick-up truck came into view, a fearsome Heracross barked back a challenge, eager to once-again prove his worth and defend his territory against this new threat. The glare from the headlights was quite tough on most of the nocturnal creatures' eyes causing many and more to slink back into the shadows of the forest--they would escape what was to come. Heracross merely shielded his beady eyes with his slender arms and hissed.
The sound of a door slamming scared some of the Pokemon away. The large Heracross advanced, making deep chirping noises; his beetle-blue body illuminated by the vehicle's light. The men approached the bug type as he kicked a foot up and slammed it down firmly on the grass, warning them of what was to come. Heracross did not have any more time to react as shots were fired from some kind of weapon in one of the men's hand. Two darts struck the Pokemon's abdomen causing him to grunt in pain before keeling over. Some Pokemon watched in terror as the men took hold of the Heracross that had slumped onto the ground and dragged him into the vehicle before fleeing the scene.
A certain unnatural stillness took over the forest. The Pokemon that remained were afraid to move in case the men decided to come back, but there was little reason to as the men did not come back that night. Gradually, the noises of the night returned. Kricketune hummed their melodies for all to hear while the Yanma darted left and right and the Spinarak whisked their webs. I watched patiently as the night became just like any other night once more.
"Did you see when Lance's Dragonite zoomed through the air--"
"...and it smashed down on the Espeon, knocking it out straight away!"
"Yeah, it was crazy!"
"And did you see the Steel Pokemon?!"
"Oh yeah that was so coo-"
"And it did that--"
"thing, yeah! It just changed completely! It was so badass!"
"Mega what was i--"
"Evolution, I think! Yeah, Mega evolution! It became so much bigger and--
"Stronger too, yeah! I wish my Pokemon could do that! It would be so much better!
"The Pokemon genome project is a relatively new breakthrough in science, and thousands of geneticists all over the world have taken to sequencing these genomes in an effort to understand how Pokemon operate and utilise all of their amazing powers. Even the smallest of Pokemon--let's take Azurill for example, has an enormously long and complex genome. Every single gene is important for the coding of each and every protein, without which, the Pokemon couldn't be. It's quite simply riveting."
"But, what about the alleged genome alterations that researchers at KINECO have been doing? Many activists have claimed that these 'experiments' aren't ethical. What do you say in response to that?" the reporter asked; the question the founder of KINECO International had been prepared for, and was certain to answer carefully to ensure the future success of his company and the continuation of this massive project.
"I can assure you that our top researchers--almost all Ivy League graduates with top honours, have been working tirelessly in an effort to help shed some light on many of the mysteries surrounding Pokemon. We have undergone very stringent regulations and protocol to ensure that no harm will come of any work done here to any Pokemon; that is something we're quite passionate about at KINECO. Our current understanding has been helped incredibly by the Pokemon working alongside us and we have discovered some truely fascinating things about Pokemon and what they can achieve. American Miltank, for instance, produce an average 14 litres of milk per day. With just a slight modification to the LAC-1 gene, the Miltank would all be producing what-our-research-indicates-to-be 20 or more litres of milk a day - an increase of almost 50%. This would be a huge breakthrough for the agricultural and farming industries, while helping reduce the price of household necessities--something we could all do with!" Kenneth Lawless laughed as the photographer snapped some pictures that would make all the headlines the following day. This was a big deal no doubt.
The sonorous clashing sounds that echoed throughout this laboratory were usually enough to drown out the cries of pain coming from behind those tough iron bars. A quick inspection showed that many navy beetle-like Pokemon had been subjected to pretty abysmal conditions within their confinements. Straw bedding was often soiled with faeces and urine, while feeding tubes attached to the walls were empty or broken more often than not. The Pokemon were kept separately in cages as they were quite an aggressive species capable of doing serious harm to each other, which would undoubtedly affect the results of the research. Although the cages were quite tall compared to the size of most Heracross, some of these Pokemon had to remain stooped in order to stand up due to unnatural body proportions.
These Pokemon did not look like how Heracross were supposed to look more often than not--in fact, they didn't really look like creature's of nature in a lot of cases. Some had horrible bulbous growths covering their bodies, while others had elongated noses and were much broader and hunched-looking. The Pokemon continuously slammed their large forehead horns against the bars, which would further enrage the other captives, causing even more uproar quite a lot of the time. The Pokemon were no longer being sedated and displayed a truly aggressive existence. The Pokemon were no longer what nature intended them to be.
One Heracross in particular turned to look at me as I was brought by the metal cages. His face looked like it had been beaten to a pulp. Amidst purple swellings and bruises, two watery eyes looked up at me and I could feel this Pokemon's pain. I couldn't help but notice that one arm was significantly larger than the other. The larger swolen appendage lay slumped on the floor as the Heracross shielded his face protectively with the other arm. He gave a soft whimper as he saw the labcoat-clad technician bringing me to the loading bay. He felt sorry for me.
For the longest time I stood by and watched as life passed before my eyes. This isn't some deep meaningful insight, but merely an accurate account of what I really did do. It was in my nature--evolution dictated that this was my best chance for survival, and I'd be damned if I didn't follow nature's course. We had evolved just like that of every single living creature over the last few billion years, but my species were quite unique in their lifestyle. I had known all my life about my ability (as it was called these days. Before my birth it was called distinction, which makes sense too; it does help classify species a lot of the time, but not always.), Colour Change, which was a really simplified way of putting it, even though it's quite a complex process that even I'm not fully aware of.
What I do know, however, is that when subjected to a stress, my body reacts rapidly to minimise the effects of that stress as much as possible. For instance, this has worked to help conceal me in numerous Pokemon battles and avoiding predation up to now. Whenever Tropius troop down from the trees and scatter their sharpened leaves, I do not flee as the other Pokemon do. I stand still, suck in my gut, and wait. After the leaves strike me, my body's camouflage immediately starts to happen. In no time I become far less susceptible to the leaves, resistant even, and my body takes on the colour of my surroundings to ensure better concealment. This is a double-edged sword however as some Pokemon have come to realise. Attacking with different types of moves can knock out a Kecleon in no time at all if the foe is clever. This is why we hide, and never hunt, but wait for our prey to close in.
"Ah, yes. Looks like everyone has gotten here now. Why of course! Let's begin, shall we?" the excited professor asked aloud to the impatient crowd of ten-year-olds. They had gotten their very first starter Pokemon just six months ago and the professor had called them in to see how they were bonding with their Pokemon. It was a pretty standard procedure.
Many had lost interest in the Pokemon after some time. Sure, Pokemon are an integral part of this world, but these were still pre-teens with loose morals and not a lot of patience. Many of the Pokemon had been given away to shelters, friends or neighbours so a lot of these kids got to leave pretty quickly. After the weeding out had been done, the professor had some good news to share with the remaining group of trainers.
"Now, folks. These last few months have been rewarding no doubt, and probably very challenging at the same time! But, you have all persevered despite the odds stacked against you. Raising Pokemon at such a young age can be a very challenging act as I'm sure you all are aware. In fact, I have a special prize for each of you for working so hard and bonding with your Pokemon. You will each receive a special mega ring and a mega stone for each of your starter Pokemon! Doesn't that sound neat?" he exclaimed. Many of the kids let out excited squeaks. Mega evolving made Pokemon even better, everyone knew that.
The kids rushed forward to grab their respective mega rings and stones. They chirped eagerly about how they would be one of the very first trainers in the country to test out these prototypes; it was a very exciting time to be a beginning trainer. The professor explained how the stones worked and how they morphed the Pokemon similar to how regular evolution worked, but Mega evolution could only be temporary. After the battle, the Pokemon would revert to normal. The kids quickly tested out the mega stones and the professor watched with a big grin as he saw a Venusaur radically broaden in size, sprouting new vegetation in the mean time. Another trainer had his Charizard react to the special mega stone and the alarmed Pokemon found itself changing colours and soon resembled something that didn't even look like Charizard anymore.
Mega evolution was truly a breakthrough for science.
The dew-decorated grass by the pool was my favourite spot. The wispy clouds would drift by lazily, lost in their own magnificent world of sky. The stumpy shoots beneath me provided a surprisingly soft cushion and I always felt rather comfortable basking in the sun's rays. My prickly pink tongue drifted lazily from my mouth and down to the water's edge, tipping the surface ever-so-gently. I watched as ripples expanded outwards from where my tongue broke the surface until they dissipitated into a serene nothingness. I unfurled my coiled tail lazily and watched as the tip waved about in the gentle breeze. The originally purple stripe along my abdomen had dulled to a pleasing shade of green to match the rest of my body, which also matched the grass.
A faint buzzing sound caught my attention. I looked up to see a Pokemon saunter above the grass. The yellow-and-black honeycomb Pokemon brushed against a flower, paused and sniffed it for a moment before buzzing excitedly. It was almost too easy. Whirling around, I felt my body grow lighter and I took leave of the ground in one smooth ethereal movement. My body flowed like gas caught in a powerful vent of wind as I rushed towards the hapless Bug type. My body slammed into the Combee with full force. Without warning, flames erupted from my now-red-hot body. The little Combee had no time to react as the flames tickled the screaming Bug type. Within fractions of a second it and the nearby vegetation were consumed by the fire. Smiling gleefully, I popped the charred remains of the Pokemon into my mouth and licked my fingers. It really was too easy now.
Within moments I was dozing lazily on the pleasant grass again, awaiting the next Pokemon.
Cold steel clamps kept my body pinned to the uncomfortable bench. My survival instincts had kicked in and my body had changed to a rigid uncomfortable steel exterior. My head was locked down by something that I couldn't see and I could feel my little spiky ears being stretched as the humans spoke to each other. Pins that administered slight electrical shocks held my tail down and every time a charge surged through my body I could feel myself morphing slightly as my body reacted to the current. But this was never long-lived as the cool steel would force my body to tense back up once more. It was not a particularly pleasant experience alternating between mild electrical shocks and physical discomfort.
I could not make out what the humans looked like from the awkward angle my head was forced into, but I caught flashes as they checked up on me or checked the various machines at my bench-side. They were all in white buttoned coats and many wore spectacles to protect their eyes. I wasn't sure why their eyes needed protection. Occasionally one would press a button and the machine to my right would give out a stream of consistent beeping sounds. It felt as though they were monitoring me.
A female voice said something to the other human and he responded back. I saw a brief glimpse of her long chestnut hair as she took a step back towards me before she returned to the other bench. I tried to focus on what they were doing so I could try and figure out what it was they were planning on doing to me, but I could not understand the words they spoke. I could only detect hints of emotion in their tone of voice and that wasn't always a whole lot to go on. Today, however, they sounded rather excited.
"Now, I must advise our viewers that some of the images you are about to see are extremely graphic and not for the faint of heart. If you do not have a strong stomach, I suggest changing the channels immediately," a voice said over a black background. The scene changed to that of a man in a white checked shirt and expensive brown jeans looking solemnly at the recording equipment. A microphone was in his hand just a few inches from his mouth, giving him the impression of a serious reporter.
"The KINECO experiments are still considered a taboo subject - even now, twenty years after the initial experimentation began on Pokemon. Today, myself and my team are here to shed some light on what really went on and why this atrocity should never happen again," the white-teethed man said to the cameras surrounding him.
"It is believed that there were two types of experimentation undergone at KINEO. The first, and perhaps the most well-known of the two, was Mega Evolution. By inducing huge volumes of radiation into Pokemon through items known as mega stones, Pokemon that were considered 'eligible' were forced to undergo drastic spontaneous mutation. This was exclusively reserved for large Pokemon that could, and I quote, 'handle the strain of gene point mutation'. Pokemon mutated alright, but at what cost? An infamous example is that of a Blastoise found off the coast of Cinnabar," the man said solemnly as the background changed to that of a blue monstrous creature with a cannon-like appendage jutting through its thoracic cavity. The Pokemon's eyes were bulging from its head and it appeared to be in immense pain, groaning under the weight of the large modified cannon.
"This Blastoise's spine was under tremendous strain and collapsed under the weight of the ridiculous cannon. There was no chance of survival for this Blastoise as the cannon fused to the spine meaning any surgical procedures would result in severe paralysis. They did not want to add to this creature's discomfort any more than they had to."
"It's very tragic indeed," a female with her hair in a tight bun remarked. "Mega evolution is something most of our viewers are familiar with unfortunately. You mentioned another type of experiment undergone at KINECO. Can you explain to our viewers what this was?"
"The other kind is nonetheless just as sinister, but it was quickly shut up by anyone who worked at KINECO. Genetically modified Pokemon were a brief project undergone by KINECO. However, when this reached the IUPAG board of conduct, it was immediately shut down, hushed up and the Pokemon that survived the mutational screens were terminated and disposed of before word got out. The only known specimen that actually succeeded in escaping KINECO laboratories ended up obliterating the vast majority of nearby life in just a few hours with rapid uncontrollable fires that this Pokemon should simply not be able to do. What's even more shocking is how this Pokemon was a Kecleon, a creature known for its exclusively passive existence, and how it was manufactured into a monstrous killing machine. Thankfully, this Pokemon was captured and put down humanely by the proper authorities before it could do any more harm."
The celebrity looked directly into the camera and gave his closing words. "Now, that's all that we know for certain about KINECO. Who's to say that there aren't facilities who have since used KINECO research to continue these twisted genetic mutations? Or that more 'Protean Pokemon' aren't being produced for military use in some hidden bunker. It's a very terrifying potentially very real possibility."
It started with a sharp prick to my neck as the needle point forced its way into my body. I could feel the serum rushing into my bloodstream and I was powerless to resist. Then, I felt a burning sensation that started in my chest but quickly spread throughout my whole body. I hissed in pain as some unknown chemical reactions were happening inside of me. The pain grew more and more intense within fractions of a second and soon I found myself shrieking in pain. My cries drowned out that of the woman's voice and the rapidly-increasing beeping sounds coming from one of the machines. I could feel my body twist and change and loosen up for brief spells only to harden and constrict immediately afterwards. My skin was all of a sudden stretched and taut before becoming loose and flimsy, almost at the same time. I screamed, and I think the female screamed, and maybe even the male screamed and then all I remember is a heavy silence. I must have passed out.
The machine was beeping away when I slipped back into consciousness. My insides were no longer sore. Or maybe they were and I had just grown numb to it, I simply couldn't tell. I didn't really know what was going on, but there was definitely something different about me. My body had returned to its original state for one of the first times since I was born; the emerald-coloured scales were glistening with sweat and the purple stripe that zigzagged my abdomen was far more distinguishable than usual . My arm, legs and tail clamps were still in place, but they felt looser and the steel clamps felt a lot cooler. For some reason my body was no longer adapting to the steel confinements. I could feel the icy metal shackles pressing against my skin, but I didn't feel myself changing to mold with it.
I wondered whether I could still change. My knuckles soon unclenched and I pressed one clawed digit firmly against the metal. I felt the metal's tough exterior. I could see how it wasn't malleable and wouldn't be susceptible to any change. With a flick of the wrist, my hand changed to a dazzling heavy steel. Oddly enough, the rest of my body did not change as I focused my thoughts on that one hand. The fingers felt much like my body had earlier: firm and unbreakable. My now heavy metal hand was uncomfortable against the shackles. I relaxed and allowed my hand to return to its previous normal state. It seemed as though I now had a lot more control over my body's changes.
Suddenly, I heard footsteps.
I listened intently to the steady rhythm of the shoe sole hitting the ground. The human coughed, allowing me to recognise it as the female. I could feel anger rising within myself. She had attacked me with some sharp object. She changed me. For the better, it seemed, but she had no right to experiment on me. Images of the grotesque Heracross flashed through my mind and I found my jagged little teeth were soon grinding together relentlessly. When the lab technician reached the end of the bench I couldn't contain the rage any more.
My body temperature cooled dramatically as I felt the blood rush from my face. I could feel the veins and arteries contracting and my skin thickening as my body hardened and cooled. My scaled skin soon took on a frigid blue hue as I felt the cold shooting through my body. I didn't feel very cold, but I must have been considering the mist forming every time I exhaled. Suddenly knowing what I had to do, I wrapped my then-freezing fingers around the hand-shackles and squeezed as dry ice seeped from my finger tips onto the steel. The steel couldn't fight the pressure from the ice and it soon cracked before the ice. I yanked my feet free and rose up to face the woman for the first time. I could see steam flowing from my nostrils as they flared at her back. I gave a gentle blow and watched as a freezing blast of air crept up on her. She yelped and turned around sharply. I watched her eyes widen in fear as the clipboard in her hand clattered to the floor. She was now visibly shivering and seemed unable to scream as I continued to blow soft kisses of ice at her. Her teeth chattering violently was music to my ears.
I hopped down from the table and clutched her throat with my ice-ridden claws. She started to sob uncontrollably as I pulled her face close to mine. I gave her one last wicked smile before placing a final freezing kiss on her cheek. Shuddering violently, she fell over. I couldn't help but admire her blue lips and fingers. Hairs were standing up all along her arms like a little army saluting me. I rose to my feet and turned to face the rest of the lab. Many metal benches littered the long hall, but there was no one else in sight. No Pokemon had been brought to this room for however long I'd been there.
I let my body relax and return to a simpler state. The colour returned to my body as it rapidly heated. The icicle tips that covered my skin briefly melted as I arched my back. I lifted my head back and roared as two scaled wings suddenly forced their way through my skin. Testing my new wings, I rose up from the ground while they flapped slowly. With a deep howl, I lunged forward towards the glass door, wings beating powerfully. I was going to destroy everything in my path.
My head hardened and thickened rapidly as I tore through the air. I tucked my wings, arms and legs in briefly as I let myself hurl through the glass doors like a cannon ball, shattering shards of glass in every direction. I landed on the polished floor with a bit of a thud, but my thick feet were impervious to the broken glass littered there. Scanning my surroundings, I saw that I was in a wide corridor. I could see a man standing at the other end in shock. Without having to think, my body melted away into a fluid-like substance splashing down onto the ground. Now somewhere between a solid, a gas and a liquid, I slithered my way towards the man, body constantly changing shape as it flowed over the smooth ground. The man was frantically typing numbers into a door at the end. The door slid open as I allowed my body to soar through the air. It must have been some sight to behold as my body rapidly mutated and solidified when I crashed into the man. I heard his spine crunch on collision as my tough steel exterior crushed the evil scientist. Anyone in this building deserved what was coming. They were the monsters here.
The Heracross could do nothing as the fire spread throughout the laboratory. The hungry flames slithered along the floor, sputtering out heavy smoke as the Pokemon cried from within their confinements. Many of his fellow captives had begun wailing or hissing or making any kind of half-frightened-half-fearsome noises as they watched helplessly. Those near the rear were first to go as the monstrous flames washed over them. Their ghastly screams and howls of pain resonated throughout the room. A foul stench - similar to that of burning rubber, filled the storage area and many of the Heracross were forced to cough out the smokey remains of their comrades in a bid for air.
Heracross smashed his much heavier arm against the bars in frustration. His mutated arm lacked any sensation since the procedure, so he could not feel the heat of the burning steel bars that prevented his escape. The heat was unbearable. Crouched against the rear end of his cage, Heracross could do nothing but whimper and cry out like his brothers as Fire decimated Bug. Then, Heracross saw a figure through the flames.
The humanoid shape looked familiar, but it was distinctly different to what it had been before. The creature was much smaller than a human or a Heracross. The Bug type was pretty sure that this creature wasn't always so red. Heracross looked into the wicked beady coal eyes that were pointed directly at him, and he saw no hope. The reflection of the waltzing fire was all that stared back at him. No recognition. No sign of pity. No sign of real awareness as to what was going on.
It seemed as though the humans had made yet another monster from this poor creature. Heracross could do nothing as the brilliant-red creature disappeared into the smoke and the flames crept every closer.
It wasn't long before the flames had decimated all of the abominations in the lab. Fire was always good at eradicating Bug.
It didn't take long for them to find me.
I watched as the men stormed in from all around. I was atop a burned-up verge so they would have to climb towards me. Their suits reflected the sun in all directions as they marched upwards, all faces locked on mine. The men had machines in their hands. The bullets from which could tear me to shreds no matter what my exterior was, I was almost certain. And so, I sat there lazily on the bed of ashes as the suits came upon me. Their united shouts echoed throughout the surrounding hills. They took aim, thousands of metallic machines pointed directly at my head. Then they fired simultaneously.
"But mom, I'm boooored," the young Pokemon whined. He hopped from one foot to the other impatiently, looking up at his mother.
"Stop moving," she sighed. You need to learn patience, little man." The mother Kecleon inclined her head slightly towards her son. His eyes darted back and forth as he shook his head dramatically. She wanted to smile and let him go play with the other Kecleon, but he had to learn patience. That's all a Kecleon ever needed: patience and adaptability.
"Patience is booooring," he moaned, throwing his little stumpy arms into the air. He looked up at her with big puppy-dog eyes, begging her to let him go and play while the other Pokemon were still around. Once you lost a Kecleon, it was very hard to find them again if they didn't want to be found. He slouched down onto the fallen log.
"At least your changing is strong," the mother smiled, indicating his now-brown body. Your great grand-pappy had six brothers who didn't make it two years. It'd be a really pity if that happened to you, now wouldn't it?"
Her son swung his stubby legs back and forth impatiently.
"Your jagged pattern could do with a bit more hiding," she said aloud, more to herself than to the other Pokemon. The jagged line across his chest was a different shade of brown than the rest of his body and had a slight purple tinge to it.
"Mooooom..." he moaned again after a few moment's of silence.
"What is it now?" she asked, sighing again. When he got impatient there was almost no settling him down.
"Why do we have to hide anyway? All the brave and strong Pokemon don't have to. Absol can do whatever they want! They're so brave and strong! It's sooo unfair!" The little Kecleon pouted.
"Now, honey. You're brave and strong too," his mother replied, moving forward. Her body returned to its usual emerald green colour as she touched her son's shoulder and smiled. "It just takes a different kind of bravery and strength to do what it is our kind do. You don't have to be a savage to survive."
"Hiding isn't brave."
A final plume of flames burst from my body as the bullets cascaded down upon me. I didn't last long enough to see the result, but I'm sure those in the closest proximity were scorched by the flowing flames. The hundreds of well-timed and well-aimed bullets pierced my flaming body. My body reverted back to its natural emerald state as it lay there on the smoldering ground. Smoke, ashes and screams of burning flesh filled the air as I took my leave of absence.
There were many monsters in this world. I just happened to become one of them.