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:
Rocket Boss Giovanni
Lucario continued sleeping, the events of the previous day crawling through his head like frenzied insects, subjecting him to a very peculiar dream. He dreamed he was eating rice and curry off a black, furry pelt. A grain fell into a particularly thick bush of hair, but when he reached in for it his hand sunk into something and he was immediately struck by powerful static electricity. It was painless, but crippled his entire body as an angry roar sounded above him. There he saw a giant Connor, the bodybuilder's mouth open wide and giving off a guttural scream. In his hands he dangled a lifeless Mew back and forth by her tail, just out of reach from Zerobi who was jumping up and down to try and catch her.
"A dangerous one, is she not...?" the black pelt suddenly whispered with a voice that sounded a lot like Zoroark's, "I would not leave Mew in the care of that murderous psychopath..."
Lucario did not understand what the pelt was talking about, looking at the giant Connor taunting Zerobi more and more. Suddenly, Connor fell quiet. Zerobi had brought out her claws and cut into his kneecaps. A river of blood flowed from the wound and engulfed Zerobi, as she suddenly leaped up towards Mew and swished her claws past the small legendary, cutting her tail in half and sending her crashing down.
"NO!" Lucario shouted, and the vivid scene was no more. He sat up, his world transformed from a nightmarish realm into a tiny, dark room. It was completely empty room, and looked a bit like the inside of a closet. However, what caught Lucario's attention was not what he could see, but rather what he could hear.
The sound was slightly dampened and coming from the wall in front of him, but he could still make out what it was. It was a classical piece he faintly recognized, an orchestra playing and occasionally leaving room for a solo piano to show off. From the powerful, speedy sound of it he assumed the piece to still be in allegro, which meant this particular song had not been playing for long.
The more he listened, the more he realized just how poorly the wall in front of him was blocking the sound. While he had been anything but successful in the past when it came to breaking out of cages, he decided to at least give it a try. Pushing against the wall, he was quite surprised to find it easily giving way, almost like a door. The music struck a crescendo as light flooded his vision, and he could finally see where he was.
It was a grand hall, nearly as large the cavern Lucario had met the legendaries in. It had a regal air to it, luxurious pillars stretching up from the carpeted floor to the adorned ceiling. Several chandeliers hung above him, each one lit by hand with their tiny fires playing around and causing the entire room to flicker. Across the walls were paintings of landscapes humans and Pokémon, but most were unintelligible to the point where Lucario could no longer tell what they were supposed to display.
In the middle of the room stood a very long table, obviously designed for a dining hall. A multitude of chairs surrounded the giant table, but they were all unoccupied aside from one. Sitting by the far end of the table, as far away from Lucario as one could get, there was a man.
Although his skin was fairly pale, the man looked anything but unhealthy. He seemed to be around 30 years of age and had a strong air of importance about him, which Lucario assumed was because he was sitting at the end of the giant table like a king. The man wore a red tie and an orange suit, golden buttons shimmering like silver or crystal. Sitting straight with a curious smile on his face, he stared at Lucario. His eyes were red like lava, sharp as knives and for some reason appeared to be even more dangerous than both. In front of him was a glass filled with a red liquid, and a freshly uncorked bottle of wine stood next to it.
"Welcome to my humble mansion," the man suddenly said with a dry and deep voice, gesturing with his hand towards the empty chair, "Have a seat, Ethan."
Whatever Lucario had expected the human to say, it had not been that. His interest in the room and its glamorous decorations instantly disappeared, his attention focused entirely on the strange man.
"You... You know?" Lucario asked with his expression caught between bewilderment and worry, "How is that possible!?"
"Oh, I know you better than your own mother, Ethan..." the man explained as a hint of disgust crossed his face, "... Although considering the woman in question, I suppose that isn't saying much."
"You..." Lucario whispered quietly, very surprised to hear what sounded like an answer, "You understood me? You understand Pokémon speech?"
"Not at all," the man replied confidently before placing his arms on the table in a calm manner, "I am simply familiar enough with you to know exactly what you are going to say and do."
"... Oh yeah?" Lucario muttered defiantly, not at all pleased with the man's sense of superiority, "Well... Lovely barnacles grow upon the moon where only carrots may fly! How's that!?"
"I assume you are spouting gibberish as to throw me off?" the man asked with a slight shrug, once more beckoning Lucario to sit, "Do take a seat, so we may continue with the next phase of our conversation."
"Yeah... 'Conversation'..." Lucario repeated sarcastically. He forgot all about sitting down as a million thoughts raced through his mind at once, the idea that this man knew about his true nature all the way down to his shaky and rather private relationship with his mother overshadowing most. Apart from Mew and Zerobi, no one should know about his previous life as Ethan. Even he did not know until Mew told him.
"Perhaps a refresher would be in order?" the man said as he noticed Lucario's confused stare. He got to his feet, standing tall by the end of the table to let Lucario get a better look at him.
"I am the current leader of Team Rocket, Giovanni..." the man spoke with a powerful voice as he held up an open palm, "... But I believe you would remember me better by the name of Silver!"
"... Silver...?" Lucario repeated quietly. While the names 'Team Rocket' and 'Giovanni' were fresher in mind, neither had the same impact upon him as 'Silver'. He knew he had heard it somewhere before, so long ago it had to have been in another life. Even so, for some reason he felt his temper grow short, like he suddenly wanted to punch the smug bastard in the face.
"... We have been rivals since childhood, Ethan," Silver said with a look of burning passion on his face as he lifted his arms slightly, "Under the blazing hot sun, we fought. Within the coldest winter night, we fought. Beyond the realms of time and space itself, we fought."
The words struck a strange chord within Lucario. That a champion like he had been had many rivals was a given, but he had always assumed them to be Brendan, Red or other famous Pokémon trainers. He had never heard of anyone called Silver before, yet so far the strange man had proven to know him much better than anyone else.
"Hmpf. Feign ignorance as much as you please, I can recognize you all too well..." Silver said as he sat down and began musing to himself, "But I must wonder over your appearance... Were you so enamored with Pokémon that you ended up becoming one?"
They regarded each other for a moment, both silent. As far as Lucario could tell, Silver was not carrying any Pokéballs, and did not see any obvious containment space for them on his tightly pressed suit. This served to make him even more curious, wondering if perhaps his old rival had long since run out of hostile intentions.
"Go ahead. Sit," Silver said, this time with a more demanding tone to his voice, "I prepared this meal for your sake. You did not eat during the trip here, so you must be very hungry."
Lucario was. Little did Silver know that he had not eaten much before the trip either, or at any other point in his life except for the rice and curry the big flower Pokémon had served. He suddenly noticed a plate of widely colored plants and a spoon by the chair at his side of the table, the edible sprouts giving off steam and a very pleasant odor. He could tell from sight and smell alone that the food was about five stars above simple homely cookery, like something he excepted to see at a fancy restaurant right before a bill he would never be able to afford. Aware that he could just beat up Silver and split should anything bad happen, Lucario decided to indulge himself for a moment and finally sat down.
"You may eat," Silver said, the stern tone in his voice still quite apparent. While the food did look quite appetizing, Lucario knew better than to carelessly dig into a meal a man calling himself his rival had prepared. Carefully poking the sides of it with a fork, he tried to determine whether or not the food was poisoned, wondering if his inherent immunity was strong enough to save him.
"Come now, I would not greet your return after more than a decade with such childish tricks," Silver suddenly exclaimed, making Lucario wonder if he had accidentally spoken his thoughts out loud, "Besides, as a Lucario you would be immune to all forms of poison, no?"
However, Silver's words only served to increase Lucario's worry. He felt that everything was planned out too well, and began to wonder if Silver really was as vulnerable as he had first thought. The growling of his belly argued that he should not pass up a chance for actual food for anything, especially not needless paranoia. Rationalizing that he could use the strength only gained from a full stomach to fight off what was to come next, he dipped the spoon into his colorful meal and stuffed some of the plants in his mouth.
"Only the rarest... Only the finest..." Silver explained as he leaned back, picking up his glass of wine and swishing it around a bit, "I eat like this whenever I please. Plates lined with dining so exquisite, the peasants of the world would all die of starvation after taking just a whiff of this and realizing just how filthy their own food is!"
As much as Lucario wanted to disagree, there was no denying the eruption of taste coming from his tongue. In a world where berries were like ash and simple curry with rice was a gift from the gods, the food currently making its way down his throat was like ingesting the pure essence of life. The sheer nutrition his senses picked up was enough to make his deprived muscles revitalize in an instant. Lucario stopped breathing for a moment in utter shock at what he was experiencing, forcing himself back to consciousness as to not lower his guard before his rival.
"Heard my boy was the one to capture you the last time," Silver said before tipping his glass back and swiftly drinking up the content, turning quiet and leaving Lucario wondering what he meant.
"That was... Your son?" Lucario asked while thinking back. In between the agonizing pain inflicted by the tiny creature and the Zubat he had had such a nice chat with, he only faintly remembered that the hair of the arrogant boy that day had indeed been colored red.
"I can only assume what happened," Silver said as he set down the now empty glass, "But you of all people should know better than to underestimate a fledgling trainer... Especially one with the title of 'Silver'!"
"... You know, for a mortal enemy, you are quite courteous," Lucario said while prying his eyes away from his delectable meal and towards Silver, growing tired of their one-sided conversation, "Almost a shame that I have to beat you up and escape after this dinner."
"Oh, but of course. Our destiny as rivals has always been clear, Ethan," Silver responded with a sinister smile and longing gaze, "Ever since the day we first met... Do you remember? It was behind Professor Elm's laboratory..."
To his own surprise, Lucario did remember. While the details were still quite foggy, he recalled Elm and his lab quite well. They were just about the only interesting things in his hometown of New Bark, both quite mysterious and important. He would spend hours on end sitting outside by the back of the lab, dreaming of being allowed to come inside. While he was certain he had entered more than once, whatever was inside must have had a lot to do with Pokémon as he could not remember a single detail that lay beyond those doors.
What he did remember was the one day when he was not the only one out there. Another kid around his own age had come, and was trying to sneak a peek inside. He did not remember exactly why, but the two of them had ended up fighting over something.
"The day I took Cyndaquil was the most exhilarating day of my life," Silver whispered, leaning back and letting his eyes wander to one of the paintings depicting a small mammal on fire, "I had always attributed that feeling of triumph to Pokémon, and that is why I chose to walk down the path of a trainer."
Lucario suddenly came to, realizing that the plate in front of him was empty. The food had been so tasty, he had actually left his being to relive his youth once more. Taking yet another gander at Silver, he realized the man before him looked an awful lot like that kid, both giving off the same annoying sense of self-worth. The man's dry voice and rapidly changing expression was enough to bring him back to full awareness.
"However, unlike you, training Pokémon never was my passion in life..." Silver continued as his eyes turned dark, the smile across his face broadening and becoming wry, "... It was stealing."
Silver picked up the glass of wine again and drank a bit, relishing in the taste and memories for a moment before continuing.
"Liberating such a powerful tool from that foolish Professor Elm who did not even attempt to make use of it..." Silver started before he trailer off, closing his eyes and shaking his head solemnly, "... I was quite smart, even as a child. With it I defeated gym leader after gym leader, simply because I could..."
"... Gym leader...?" Lucario repeated, wondering what on earth Silver was prattling on about. He felt like he had heard the term before, and his thoughts suddenly turned to Zerobi and Mew, remembering that he would have to escape soon so he could start searching for them.
Suddenly, Silver leaned forward, putting his elbows against the table as he stared. His intense lava-colored gaze bore deep into Lucario, who felt like his very self was being examined.
"I hope you hugged that Chica of your very tightly, Ethan," Silver said with a sinister yet strangely joyful expression, "It could very easily have been her I stole that day. Which path in life do you think she would have taken, then? Would she still have become a goody two-shoes like yourself... Or perhaps a hardened criminal like me?"
Shrugging instinctively, Lucario definitively knew he had heard the name Chica before. He did not think too hard about it, as the latter part of Silver's speech is what caught his attention the most.
"Criminal? You pride yourself with that title?" Lucario huffed with a disappointed sneer, "You need to steal from others because you can't handle things on your own? Yeah, that's really impressive."
"... Going by that look on your face, I assume that you have misunderstood," Silver replied as his voice turned a bit sharper, "Not a criminal in the common sense of the word, no... Far beyond that."
"What, a... A lawbreaker?" Lucario exclaimed with confusion, recognizing that he was not exactly much of a law-abiding citizen himself, if beating several police officers unconscious counts as anything.
"The code of the Giovanni..." Silver said solemnly before lifting up the bottle of wine next to him, "Prey upon those weak of mind, and manipulate them into doing your bidding. That way, you can bend the smart to your will through the sheer force of numbers alone."
Pouring the rest of the wine into his glass, Silver suddenly started snickering to himself. It was a very low-key, content laughter.
"Power, skill, intelligence..." Silver muttered as he looked Lucario dead in the eye while holding up his glass, "Everything is meaningless before a man who wields other men."
Unlike with Zoroark's explanations earlier, Lucario had trouble following Silver's logic. To him, the biggest regret he felt was when thinking of all the others that had worked hard and paid dearly to help him. What was the point of personal improvement if he ended up relying on others, anyway? What was the point of struggling if he could not change things for the better? What was the point of living?
"I have thousands under my command, and in case you have yet to notice, everyone bows to me... Unwittingly or not," Silver continued as he drank from his glass and smiled, "Even Red, the eternal champion of Pokémon is now my lapdog... Sure, in the past you defeated him in combat, but what did that get you? He captured you on my behalf, and now you are also under my control."
While he could not deny that Red had captured him, Lucario disagreed with the last part. He was unshackled, so technically he could be at Silver's throat in three seconds, making sure it never uttered another sound again. He still could not help but wonder why Silver seemed so comfortable, sitting unarmed in the same room as a wild Pokémon desperate to escape.
Silver suddenly began to snicker, wagging a finger as if he had read Lucario's mind once more. The man quickly calmed himself down and gave off a sigh.
"You are in my extravagant mansion... Eating my luxurious food..." Silver whispered quietly, "All because I made your greatest opponent follow my will... The will of the Giovanni, the most powerful man on earth."
Taking another sip of wine, he suddenly slammed the glass down on the table.
"Although we are rivals... And even though you may have bested me over and over again within the realms of Pokémon..." Silver admitted reluctantly before looking up and gazing at Lucario with a triumphant stare, "... In the game of life, the winner is me."
The words hung in the air for a moment, and at that time Lucario knew exactly why he had been brought here. Silver was showing off, proving that he was better off than some mangy Pokémon with neither food to eat nor a roof to sleep under. He could still not remember much of their alleged rivalry, but felt himself starting to hate Silver all over again, wanting to see how much of a winner the man would look like without any teeth left in his skull.
"... But that would be too much of an anti-climactic finish to a rivalry such as ours, no?" Silver said with an amused tone as he leaned forward, "Fear not. I think we both know how this would always end."
As if on cue, Silver suddenly rose from his seat. Adjusting his tie while trying to hide his excitement, he waved his hand towards Lucario.
"Eat your fill. After this dinner, we shall duel..." Silver said as his expression contorted into one of pure malevolence, "... And then, you shall die."