It was a quiet night when Deoxys descended from the heavens.
Believed to not be of this world, it went on a rampage, leaving death and destruction in its wake.
Finally defeated by an unknown force, the tragedy of unparalleled magnitude it created remains in the heart of every human.
To make sure that something like this will never happen again, every wild PokÃ¨mon powerful enough to cause such mayhem must be captured, controlled or killed.
Needless to say, this year has been a bad year for Legendaries. This year has also been a bad year for Champion Trainers.
But my year... Has been... THE WORST!
Author's Chapter Notes:
No Man's Land
After only two weeks of traveling, Lucario felt a certain appreciation over the fact that they had reached their destination fairly quickly this time. Hitching a ride in a truck on Route 17, they had managed to get back some of the time they had lost from the fighting and subsequent recovery. They had been forced to continue on foot as Route 16 had been shut down due to unstable roads, something Lucario realized was a bit of an understatement when they had come across massive craters and rocky debris blocking the way. He imaged they were most likely remnants from all the fighting surrounding No Man's Land, smiling at the fitting name for what had looked very much like a battlefield.
The rooftops of No Man's Land stood gleaming in the sunset, and were the only parts that could be viewed from the outside. While they had been able to see the tops of some of the taller buildings for quite some time, it was only now they realized that actually getting there would not be so simple. Before them stood a dense forest of massive trees, trunks wide and crowns high. Growing in thick clusters, they stood like a natural barrier, preventing anyone from passing through. Zerobi and Lucario began to wander around the outskirts of the woods, trying to find a good spot to squeeze in through.
"To be honest," Lucario muttered while almost tripping over a root sticking out of the ground, "I thought that whole 'Celadon' thing was going to turn out to be a metaphor, or something."
"The forest shouldn't be this expansive," Zerobi replied, barely recognizing their surroundings and trying to figure out where they were, "I was here on a class trip a couple of years ago, and things weren't nearly this bad."
"You sure?" Lucario asked, surprised to hear Zerobi talking about her past and even more so at the prospect of Pokémon going on class trips, "A couple of years… Trees don't grow that fast."
"You kidding?" Zerobi said and smirked in response, "I've seen sis make dust go into full bloom in a second. For grass-types, this is nothing."
A few minutes later, they were able to find a path that had thinner growth and led deeper into the forest. There were still plenty of trunks and bushes blocking them, but both Lucario and Zerobi were slim and agile enough to traverse the rough terrain. As they went further in, the air was beginning to turn heavy with rank odors from various plants and berries, making it harder to breathe as Lucario felt nauseous.
"Feels like some kind of fortress," Zerobi said, a light case of claustrophobia setting in due to the cramped and humid environment, "You think they might've planted all this to keep out intruders?"
"If so, it's doing a pretty bad job at it," Lucario said, amused at the thought of someone as bulky as Raikou or Entei trying to press through the compact area, "We're already halfway there, and no problems so far."
"I could get used to that," Zerobi grunted as she used her claws to cut through a particularly dense collection of vines in their way, "The last time we went to a city, we ended up fighting it. You, uh, realize that's not going to happen this time, right?"
"Definitively," Lucario replied with a confident nod, "The strongest Pokémon in the world have all gathered there, and from the aura I'm sensing I can tell you that's not a joke. With this many, we'd get murdered in an instant."
"Just tell me when you sense Mew…" Zerobi whispered, worried that someone might be listening in on them, "… And stay under the cloak… And if anyone asks, my codename's Weavile and yours is-"
"Lucario," Lucario responded while patting her back, noticing how tense it had become, "We've gone over this… A lot. Honestly, I was mostly worried about sneaking in undetected, but thanks to this huge forest, no one's going to-
"HEY! YOU!" a loud, skittish voice suddenly sounded behind them. Lucario flinched and instinctively held his arms in front of him, Zerobi spinning around to see where the noise had come from. To her surprise, she saw nothing but the path they had made to get there. She felt a tap on her shoulder, and saw Lucario quietly pointing upwards.
Above them was a Pokémon, hanging upside down with his tail coiled around a branch. Both Lucario and Zerobi recognized the Pokémon as a Mankey, the bitter memory stinging Lucario's face like tiny scratches and reminding him to not drop his guard. He had been able to beat up quite a few of the fuzzy balls before, but knew how vicious they could get when in numbers.
"I haven't seen you two before…" the Mankey spoke with an angry glare directed at them, "… Are you trying to get into No Man's Land!?"
Lucario and Zerobi looked at each other for a moment, wondering just how badly they had been busted.
"… Yeah?" Lucario replied carefully, getting ready to jump up and pull the hairy Pokémon down to where his fists could reach it.
"In that case…" the Mankey said before dropping down from the trees and landing in front of them, "… Let me be the first to welcome you to our humble home! I saw you enter the premises and thought- I mean, if you're here to join the revolution, you should go talk to Z- No, wait, there was something else I needed to-"
The small chatterbox kept talking as Lucario stood and stared, Zerobi sighing out in relief while Lucario fastened his guard and covered his face again. The Mankey smiled and reached out to shake their hands before suddenly pulling its hand away, digging around in the fur on its back.
"I just remembered, I need to take your names!" the Mankey continued as it dragged a sheet of paper out of its hairy backside, "What are they?"
"… Lucario?" Lucario answered, now more confused than worried as he slowly lowered his hands.
"Weavile," Zerobi said determinedly, hoping Lucario would realize that they were no longer in any danger.
"Wait, let me guess - Born and bred in captivity, recently escaped?" the Mankey asked as it displayed outstretched arms in triumph, "Don't worry, there's no police inside! Now that you're here, you're free to pick any name you want for yourselves!"
"… All right, then. I guess I'll be Ethan, and she'll be Ze-" Lucario said, but was cut off as Zerobi quickly stepped in front of him.
"Oh, honey!" Zerobi burst out with a nervous tone while putting her sharp claws dangerously close to Lucario's mouth, "You really should not be using our private nicknames for each other in public! It's embarrassing!"
"Oh…" the Mankey exclaimed as it fell quiet, suddenly realizing the implications and jumping a bit, "Oh! Don't mind me, I won't judge or- I'll just, uh, put you down as your species so you can go inside and get acquainted with the rest- Maybe not like that, but…"
They watched as the very embarrassed Mankey hastily scurried up the branches and disappeared inside the canopies, hearing the rustling of leaves grow fainter as it leaped further away. When she was certain they were alone, Zerobi turned towards Lucario with a vicious stare.
"What the hell is your problem!?" she nearly shouted, growing even more tense after what had happened as Lucario smiled mischievously.
"Well, 'honey', I couldn't prove that I'm the real Ethan even if I wanted to…" Lucario explained while trying his best to sound clever, "… And, in case you weren't listening, there's no police here, so you're not in any trouble with the law."
"Great idea, let's take as many unnecessary risks as we can!" Zerobi hissed sarcastically, aware that the police were not the only ones that would want her dead, "Listen - I'm Weavile, you're Lucario and we're friends. Take it easy or that last part's going to be another lie."
"Man, you're nervous," Lucario chuckled while ignoring the fact that he had been one second away from knocking the friendly Mankey into submission, "Relax. I'm sure it'll be fine. Looks like we're guests here, after all."
As they continued walking, the forest was beginning to clear out the closer they got to the city, the jungle-like environment transforming into a regular forest and finally becoming nothing but a small collection of trees.
"So… No Man's Land, huh?" Zerobi mumbled, once more failing to imagine the concept of a city with only Pokémon, "What're you expecting?"
"Can't be the same underground dugout as before," Lucario replied, remembering the revolution's previous lodgings and feeling glad that they had yet to run into any traps or ambushes, "But it IS a warzone. You should've brought some heavy duty boots, because we might have to wade through a river of blood just to get-"
"Somehow, I don't think that's probable… Or possible," Zerobi interrupted, wanting to keep the thoughts of blood distant. If the Pokémon were as powerful as had been said, she hoped her self-preservation would make it easier to keep her urges in check to avoid getting beaten to death by an angry mob.
"I think… I think you're right…" Lucario whispered in surprise as they finally crossed the last wall of bushes and officially entered No Man's Land.
The sight was too much for either of them to comprehend. Before them was the foundation of a regular city, but one that had been completely altered is so many ways it could hardly even be called as such anymore. The road had been ripped out of its foundation in seemingly random areas, leaving several spots of soil and growing grass. Skyscrapers lay toppled on the side, having been segmented into several different houses despite the rooms inside being entirely vertical. The buildings that were still intact were connected to one another through extremely long vines that came from trees growing right in the middle of the pavement. Between two of the buildings directly ahead were vines that had a strange formation to them, almost like a net. They blocked the evening sun and cast a shade on the ground in front of them, a shadow in the shape of pawprint that Zerobi could read as "No Man's Land."
And that was only the environment. Pokémon of every type and species were swarming the area, half of them so strange Lucario could scarcely believe his own eyes. A loud blast sounded as a Pokémon that looked like a living rock jumped up and smashed down into the pavement, cracking it even further. A small section was bent from the impact as another Pokémon with a shield for a head suddenly tackled it, snapping it loose. At the same time, a large mushroom moved to the impact site and started shaking itself, letting a thick cloud of yellow spores dwindle down on it.
Not really understanding what was happening, Lucario heard a sound from above and realized the ground was not the only crowded place. Birds, insects and something that looked like soaring balloons with tentacles were circling the buildings, the roof of which had been covered by branches like a bird's nest. There were also a few wingless Pokémon climbing the vines between the buildings, spitting vertigo in the face. Clinging to the wall next to a window, Lucario saw three purple Pokémon with translucent wings, all gossiping between one another about something called a Beedrill that was apparently very charming. One of them let go and flew down to a truck that lay overturned to the side, covered in many segments of green and orange shells. Slowly petting one of the green shells, it suddenly started moving and appeared to grow two eyes from out of nowhere.
"Whoa…" Lucario gasped, astonished and curious. He wanted to see what was going on, and began moving towards the truck.
"Lucario…" Zerobi whispered while lightly tapping Lucario's shoulder in warning.
"I know, right!?" Lucario burst out in amazement, thinking Zerobi had to be as stunned as he was. He kept walking closer to try to make out what was happening to the green shell, when suddenly he felt his right leg sink through the ground.
"Ow!" a meek voice sounded from beneath him, making his already strained composure shatter. He tumbled forward and retained his balance by hopping a few times on his left leg, turning around to see what the hell had just happened.
He noticed that the ground he had walked across looked slightly different from the rest. He had been too busy admiring everything to notice it, but he had stepped into a passage of newly dug soil which now had a big hole in it. Suddenly, the cylindrical head of a creature popped up from underground, eyes glistening with tears. Its brown fur was fuzzy and dirty, and it had a large pink nose.
"That hurt! Don't step on me!" the head whined, looking at Lucario with a pleading expression.
"D-Don't dig a pitfall in the middle of the road!" Lucario stammered as his poise returned, "I could've twisted my ankle, you know!"
"A pitfall…?" the head asked quietly while pitching slightly to the side in confusion, "No, no, I'm working on the canal! You know, so the water-types can go into the forest?"
"Right…" Lucario muttered, wondering why a creature such as the Floatzel he had fought would require water to get by. The water-type had displayed perfectly mobility on the ground before Lucario had shoved his face into it.
"Forgive my friend. He's new around here, and he's never seen a Diglett before," Zerobi chimed in with a wave of her hand, making the Diglett turn its head around to look at her. Quickly it looked back at Lucario, apparently eager to say something, but stopped itself short in the last second.
"Wow… You look strong!" the Diglett said in admiration, "You should go help out the roadworkers!"
"Sorry, but we're kind of busy," Zerobi continued as Lucario was too busy to answer, crouched over and examining the Diglett to figure out what the rest of its body looked like, "We're looking for someone."
"Oh? Hmm…" the Diglett said quietly while thinking to itself, "… Well, if he's here, you'll eventually find him, 'cuz no one ever leaves! Good luck to both of you!"
The Diglett dug itself underground again, Lucario giving off a disappointed gruff as he had just started seeing the neck of the Pokémon. He reached out with his senses and realized the Diglett had been fairly weak, wondering what someone like that was doing in No Man's Land. At the same time, he realized that there was another aura deep underground, this one massively powerful and strangely familiar.
"Was… Was that a threat?" Zerobi asked quietly, suddenly worried that getting out of No Man's Land would be more difficult than getting in.
"Nah," Lucario replied with a shrug as he tried to identify the strong aura, which was far more intense than anything inside the actual city, "I could've easily kicked that thing like a football, no problem."
"Not that, I mean…" Zerobi started before sighing deeply, letting the uneasy feelings seep out of her, "… Nothing to do about it now, I guess. Do you sense Mew yet?"
Lucario shook his head. Whatever the powerful aura underground was, it did not remind him of Mew in the least.
"No way, she's not here yet?" Zerobi asked, thinking that would be rather astounding considering she flew and they mostly walked, "Or… Has she already left?"
"She might just have transformed into a different kind of Pokémon, or she's hiding her real aura…" Lucario answered and realized he had not thought the whole plan through, "… If not, we'll have to ask Zoroark. Either way, Mew should be able to sense me without problem, so she'll most likely be the one who finds us."
"Great, I thought we went here to get away from all the waiting…" Zerobi muttered before looking towards a Donphan rolling by with an interested stare, "… Want to look around a bit more while we still can?"
"Yeah… Oh, yeah!" Lucario exclaimed as he grabbed a hold of Zerobi's arm, "There's a place I really want to check out! Come on!"
Lucario dragged Zerobi away further into the city, running past the roadworkers and almost stepping on the Diglett again. In an instant they had blended in among the other Pokémon, and were indistinguishable from the general population of No Man's Land. Indistinguishable to everyone, except for a lone figure sitting in the window of a building not far away. Idly stroking through his long red hair, he wonders who the new cloaked arrivals are, all while trying to figure out why the taller one seems so familiar…