Chapter Five – Identity

Pokemon roamed the planet long before the age of humanity arrived, ruling land and sea unperturbed by mankind. The subject fascinated Leaf, the creatures that skulked the land, sea and skies were far different to those that lived today. Titanic beasts crawled across the lands, ferocious and unforgiving. Most Pokemon armoured themselves in thick shells or featuring lethal weapons to defend themselves or else took to the skies or seas in efforts to escape these monstrous beings.

It is the fossil of a Kabuto she looked at now, the crystallized dome the only remnant of an ancient creature. Leaf regarded the frozen brown shell that covered its entire body in the shape of a dome, and the four small yellow legs protruding out from underneath. She yearned to touch the fossil out of fascination, but left it to lie peacefully on the velvet cloth and allowed the museum guide to reattach the top of the glass case.

“They’re so amazing,” Leaf said, recalling the other fossilised remains of ancient Pokemon as they strolled through the Pewter City Museum of History. She spotted some alien rock in one of the many cases, extracted from Mt Moon. The site had been damaged by a meteor falling from space a few years ago, the falling boulder crashing through the mountain and exploding into fragments within. Alien stones had been sprayed inside the mountain as a result, almost all of which appeared harmless.

Leaf recognised the power of alien rocks from ones which landed in Hoenn. They were stones which forced evolution upon Pokemon, the majority of which were named ‘Megastones’ and forced Mega-Evolution upon the soul which became linked to the rock. The result was the Pokemon in question being transformed into a much more powerful creature, but one which was dark and out of control. No trainer that Leaf knew of had ever tamed a Mega-Evolved beast, the dark Pokemon having only two interests; Dominance and destruction. It would kill and destroy anything within sight. There were also other stones, named after their colour and shape such as ‘Fire Stones’ or ‘Water Stones’ which evolved the Pokemon they were used on in a much friendlier manner. Luckily, Mt Moon either appeared to feature none of these stones or worrying, she feared that Team Rocket had got there first.

“That’s the tour,” the man, named Alfred, announced. He was a stout, elderly man with a leather cap and bushy white moustache. “Hope you enjoyed it.”

“Thanks for the free tour mister!”

“Not a problem. You helped our fine city by defeating that monster!”

Leaf smiled in reply then strolled towards the exit and back out into Pewter City. In truth, the ‘city’ was more of a town, with dull grey hues and small buildings constructed of stone which now basked in moonlight. The museum was one of the only two buildings of note within the locale alongside Brock’s old rock-type Pokemon Gym, which he now used as a mayoral hall.

Citizens traversed the streets carelessly though all was at peace. The quaint city reminded Leaf of her hometown in Johto, Cherrygrove City. She had spent the first nineteen years of her life fixated on the research and study of Pokemon ancient and present. From her early years Leaf had been obsessed with finding out all she could about all the different creatures of the planet, frequently travelling to the Pokemon laboratory in the neighbouring New Bark Town to aide the local professor there.

She would’ve happily dedicated her whole life to the laboratory and even dreamt of becoming the chief professor herself, until her mother left. She recalled the tearful farewell a few days after she’d turned eighteen and how forlorn her father had been. Her mother declared that she had craved adventure, she had been a former trainer but had settled down to raise Leaf.  Once her only child had reached adulthood she had decided to abandon their harmonic existence to return to her old ways. They had not spoken since. In the year afterwards Leaf had become disillusioned with her life in Cherrygrove.

“What will you do?” her father had asked Leaf months after her mother had departed.

“I might leave,” she informed him. He was a tall man, with brown skin and dark caring eyes. “I’ve spent my life here, I want to go far away to exotic lands and learn all there is to know about Pokemon.”

“I understand,” he replied, pained cracks within his deep voice. “You should further yourself.”

“I want to prove to you I can manage on my own,” she said, eyes welling up.

“Will you go and find your mother? I believe she is still within Johto.”

“No, I want to avoid her, she abandoned us.”

“She wanted to follow her dreams.”

“I know, but we had such a good life together. Now it just feels empty.”

“I love you, my special little girl.” He suddenly burst into tears and hugged her. “And I’m so proud of you.”

“I love you too Daddy,” she said and joined him in tears. “I want to go to Hoenn. The Pokemon there are so different to ours and there’s loads to learn out there.”

So on that day four years ago she had travelled to the lands of Hoenn, studying Pokemon and collecting fossils. Until she had met Erik, where she then joined forces with him, Archie and Wally to fight Maxie of Team Magma and Team Rocket. A life completely different to what she had imagined, but one she didn’t regret. She still missed her father tremendously, but stubbornly refused to let him know, instead wanting him to think that was she was managing just fine on her own, for his sake. Despite all this, Leaf dreamed she would one day return to Cherrygrove City, when the world was at peace.

“Dad!” she yelped as her phone burst into life. She scrambled around her pocket in hope it was her father, feeling her heart sink like a stone when the number read ‘unknown caller’.

“Hello?” she answered.

“Hello,” a metallic voice greeted her. She instantly recognised it as Silver’s. Her heart thrashed against her chest and her head swam with a million thoughts until she cooled herself. She could not reveal she knew who he was, in fear of revealing herself as a member of the Rocket Resistance.

“Who is this?” she managed, hoping he hadn’t yet discerned her identity.

“Leaf Fuguri, I’m told you interfered with a Rocket operation,” ignoring Leaf and had instead accusing her, referring to the incident in the woods.

“A machine was attacking people and Pokemon, I had to do something,” she blurted, attempting to convey an innocence that would belie her true intentions.

“I’m told you’re not one of the Rocket Resistance, so why didn’t you leave our operation alone,” he said, ignoring her answer. She breathed a sigh of relief, the grunt Leaf had let go after the battle must’ve informed him of her exact words.

“I told you, it was at-”

“Attacking people and Pokemon,” his monotonous voice cut her off. “But you still interfered with a Rocket operation, and that must be punished.”

“But I didn’t know!” she pleaded. “And I’m not even Resistance.”

“Then you won’t be punished as Resistance, and because the whole of Pewter City is reportedly supporting you in this, I won’t revoke your trainer’s licence.”

“Thank you,” she replied with another sigh of relief.

“No surprise?”

“Sorry?” she gasped. “What do you mean?”

“Surely you’d be surprised that a Rocket operative could revoke a trainer’s licence. How could a criminal organisation have so much power, Cecilia?”

She stopped dead, her whole body froze. How did he know the name she had gone by in Hoenn. “Cecilia?” she squeaked, thinking Erik may have revealed her under torture, or there was a possible traitor in Hoenn.

“Because of the support of Pewter’s civilians I can’t outright rescind your licence in fear of revolt. But I can do the next best thing to both you and Wally.”

“Wally? Leave him out of this!” she demanded.

“Oh and Blue.”

“Erik,” she growled. “Did he tell you?”

“No, but Blue was a guess, thanks for the confirmation.”

She paused, lost for words. There was so many questions she needed to ask, but she knew she would get no answer.

“Have you known since the start?” Leaf enquired as to how he found out their identities. “Since you captured Erik or before?” she followed quickly.

“No. I was told about Wally and Cecilia by our informant in Hoenn. I sent my father’s old friend Jaspar to defeat Wally but he somehow lost. You on the other hand, were a ghost.”

“Who’s the informant?”

“But once we heard our machine was defeated by a ‘Leaf Fuguri’,” he continued, ignoring her. “I showed our informant a picture of you and he confirmed your identity as Cecilia.”

“So what’s our punishment?” she quivered.

“You know the old Gym Leaders? Well they’re all still in the tournament, and as I’m sure the Resistance knows, Team Rocket can arrange your matchups. It’s just a shame you’re all in different sectors or else I’d have put you against each other.”

“So we’re to face Gym Leaders?” she said in horror.

“You’re to face Brock of Pewter City, Blue is to face Misty of Cerulean City and Wally will battle Surge of Viridian City. Oh, and the informant is Steven Stone,” he revealed. “You’re all going out the tournament then we’ll capture you ourselves,” he finished, then hung up the phone.

Steven Stone, the old Champion of Hoenn. He was known to secretly work for Team Rocket in the island region before Erik defeated him and imprisoned the man. But why reveal him? Unless, she suddenly understood, he was already safely within Kanto and ready to be used within the tournament against the Resistance if need be.

She thought of Blue and Wally, proudly realizing that the two must have progressed through the tournament if they were now facing former Gym Leaders. Wally had also defeated a man named Jasper, a trainer powerful enough to be called an old friend by Giovanni.

“Well done Wally,” she said and smiled, wondering how the young trainer fared.

Wally coughed, a mix of woodsmoke and the night’s chill causing his asthma to flare. Trees closed in before the camp which nestled neatly at the edge of a forest, a rock face protecting their rear. He had scanned the campsite many times for an exit after they had removed his blindfold, leading him to spot several possible routes to freedom and because he remained unbound, a constant urge to escape gripped him.

Hooded figures shifted between firelight, either tending to the flames which crackled and hissed or chattering freely to one another, each Servant featuring a different coloured trim on their robe. All wore black cloaks, all but two. There was Ethan in gold, but Wally had also spotted a woman not long ago staring across the grass at him before entering one of the tents that infested the campsite. She had bore a cloak of silver.

Ethan stood proudly in full gold at the centre of the encampment, delivering a sermon to a group of Servants who sat cross-legged before him. In the centre of the camp stood a table wrapped in cloth, the cotton clearly hiding something underneath, a spherical object that the Servants avoided like a disease.

Wally clambered to his feet wearily, shaking the stiffness out of his legs. He had sat unflinching for what must have been a couple of hours at least, studying the Servants whilst not daring to move. Ethan had left him to travel freely through the encampment, asking him if he wished to leave on the condition that he allowed a Servant to attach a blindfold and escort him back towards Vermillion City.

“Still here then?” Ethan called over to him, he had noticed that Wally was now standing.

“Who are you people?” Wally asked, noticing that the Servants sat listening to Ethan now bowed their heads, then got up and walked away.

“Servants,” Ethan replied with a smile.

“And what do ‘Servants’ do?” Questions only ever seemed to raise more questions with these people. Their intentions were unclear, and who they served even more so.

“We serve.” Ethan still smiled, as if his reply gave a solid answer.

“Who? Who do you serve?” Wally remained calm, it wasn’t in him to get angry. Even if he felt a tinge of irritation.

“Our God and his angels.”

“And who is your God?” Wally asked flatly.

“Ah,” Ethan replied with a more concerned look now. “Our God is all around us, in the animals we share this planet with.” He had stopped smiling now and his face now contained a more serious, but still friendly, appearance.

“I don’t understand.” Wally took a moment whilst Ethan awaited the next part of his enquiries. He had never heard of this ‘religion’ that the harboured. “You serve Pokemon?”

“Yes and no. Pokemon are our servants, and we are His Servants,” Ethan replied cryptically. “Join us, and we shall teach you all.”

“I don’t know what I would be joining.”

“Then it is best we remain just friends.” Ethan smiled. Wally paused, he was only more confused by the answers he was given. He thought it best to change the subject of his questioning.

“What’s that hidden underneath the cloth on the table?” Wally asked in an effort to steer the path of conversation in a different direction. The friendly look on Ethan’s face suddenly contorted into a look of either rage or fear.

“If you go near it, the Servants will kill you. Mention it again, and I will do it for them,” Ethan spoke darkly, a contrast from his previously cheery tone.

“Why do all the robes have different coloured trims?” Wally hastily moved on, proving the point by looking around the camp as he asked, sighting shades of greens, blues, browns and more.

“The trim distinguishes us from another.” The smile returned with his happy demeanour. “It tells us which members serve which types of Pokemon, the colour matching the type they serve. For instance, that Servant over there,” he pointed to a Servant with a yellow trim, “is an electric type member.”

“So why do you wear a full gold cloak?”

“Because I am second in command. That is why I have a name, I’m not just a Servant, but a teacher of His will.”

“I saw someone wearing a silver cloak not long ago, I take it she’s the leader?” Wally asked, remembering the women who glanced at him intriguingly with her deep brown eyes.

“That is Lyra, she is our great teacher. When He walks the planet again, she shall be by His side,” Ethan said proudly.

“So your God isn’t a spirit? It’s a living being?” Wally asked, knowing he wore a plainly obvious quizzical look upon him.

“He is both.” Ethan smiled, cryptical again.

“Why have you taken me prisoner?” Wally changed the subject, wanting to avoid yet more nonsensical answers.

“You are not our prisoner,” a woman spoke. It was Lyra, her hood combining with the darkness to veil her face. “You are our guest.” He could see her dark eyes pierce through the blackness and paused, her eyes seemed eerily familiar, but he could not place them.

“So why did you blindfold your guest?” he asked, still attempting to discern her identity

“Incase you refused our offer, so you wouldn’t direct Rocket to where we lived.”

“I don’t work for Rocket!” Wally raised his voice slightly, immediately regretting the action as nearby Servants glanced over before resuming their discussion after a short while.

“We know,” Lyra replied calmly. She copied Ethan’s contagious smile. “You’re Resistance, and we wish to enlist the aid of you.”

“How did you know?” Wally said after he gasped.

“We were hoping to enlist Erik, but were unable to find his location,” she replied, ignoring his question. It was clear then she didn’t know of Erik’s capture by Rocket. “But you or Leaf will do just fine, I hope.”

“Fine in doing what?” He looked to Ethan, remarking the man wrapped in gold hadn’t said a word since Lyra had approached although he still retained his infectious smile.

“Defeating the Devils whilst they war,” Ethan hissed, the smile wiped from his face.

“Defeating one of the Devils that walk the planet,” Lyra seemingly ignored Ethan’s comment.

“Who are these Devils?” Wally asked, all the Servants in the camp had stopped talking and now stared towards them.

“Giovanni,” Lyra spoke, to furious hisses from the Servants around the camp. “And Lord Raven of Johto.”

“I don’t understand,” Wally whispered, unnerved by the attention on him.

“Giovanni destroyed my home,” Ethan replied despondently. “I joined the Servants because I had nowhere to go, and I knew Lyra from my youth. She preached His ways to me.”

“Please Ethan,” Lyra responded damningly. “Don’t let personal issues get in the way of His will.”

“Sorry Lyra,” he replied, then bowed his head and walked back towards the centre of camp. The rest of the Servants still gazed at Wally and Lyra.

“Forgiven,” Lyra whispered. “Lord Raven,” she spoke to Wally now, “leashed our God, calling Him his ‘ultimate weapon’, until Giovanni defeated Him in battle with the help of his great friend. Now we form our crusade against Giovanni, who will tell us the location of our Lord’s Angels, they will help us in His rebirth.”

“Giovanni’s great friend, who’s that?” Wally asked.

“We wish we knew,” Lyra replied. “Do you agree to join us Wally. Join us in combining our strength against the mortal enemy?”

“The Rocket Resistance will take down Giovanni,” Wally replied. It was their goal anyway, it wouldn’t hurt to garner a little extra strength in order to do so.

“And question him as to the location of the Lord’s Angels?” Lyra pressed him.

“If you lend us your strength against Team Rocket,” Wally said and smiled.

“Agreed,” she finished by standing and facing the Servants. “To battle!” she cried. “Let’s take down the Devils!” A roar erupted from the Servants as they armed themselves with Pokeballs and prepared for war.

Leaf pushed aside the door and stepped into Brock’s mayoral hall. Pewter’s mayor was famous for using rock-types in battle, and his old Gym was constructed in a way to suit him. The interior of the building was enormous, but retained most of its old look as Leaf took care to avoid the fissures splattered across the stone surface as she approached the battlefield. She observed that the room was illuminated by lights which punched through treacherously sharp rocks jutting out of the walls and icicles of stone which clung to the roof. Leaf clasped Dino’s Pokeball in anticipation, deciphering the arena and how best to defeat Brock. The floor rose in a few places to create rocky knolls, which would be tricky for her Bulbasaur to climb. She then looked to the flatter areas, noting the big boulder which nestled neatly atop cracks which carved their way through the surface.

“Fancy that,” Brock broke the silence, a hand on one of his three Pokeballs. “Being matched up against one another.”

“I’m being made to face a Gym Leader,” Leaf spoke nervously.

“Former Gym Leader,” Brock corrected her, retaining his carefree posture. “As punishment for interfering in Rocket affairs, I presume.”

“I take it you know the link between them?”

“Very much so, it was obvious as a mayor and former Gym Leader, but there’s not much we can do about it.”

“I take it I’m facing all your best Gym Pokemon?” Leaf asked. Formally, Gym Leaders would be gifted a plethora of Pokemon by the government to use in battle. They’d then attempt to match their Pokemon in strength to their challenger’s, either gaging their ability by studying them personally, or watching them in action against trainers who worked for the gym.

“Because the Gym was a government owned facility, they’ve taken away my Pokemon and gifted them to Team Rocket members instead, it’s the same for all former Gym Leaders,” Brock said solemnly.

“So those three Pokeballs?”

“Are Pokemon I’ve captured myself,” Brock finished for her. This was good news, Leaf realised. Brock would’ve rushed to capture some Pokemon for battle, therefore they would be inexperienced and not given time to grow a bond with their trainer. But her opponent remained a formidable trainer, he had been a Gym Leader for a reason.

“I’m ready,” Leaf spoke, feeling confidence return to her.

“May the best trainer triumph.” Brock hurled a Pokeball towards the battlefield, a Geodude emerging from within. The grey Pokemon appeared as just a floating rock with arms, but this meant the rock-type could hover to anywhere within the erratic arena and remain unimpeded.

Leaf responded by letting Dino into the fray, her Bulbasaur skipping across the battlefield almost playfully. She knew her Pokemon had an advantage, being a grass type, but the Geodude had superiority of the terrain.

Dino struck first, lashing out a vine which cracked against a boulder as he missed, the Geodude spinning in the air to avoid the attack. Leaf’s Bulbasaur recoiled at the impact, then whipped again, this time hitting its mark. Brock’s Pokemon slammed into the one of the rock that erupted from the wall, but instead of feeling pain, simply bounced off.

“Try something else,” Leaf commanded her Bulbasaur. Dino planted his feet firmly on the ground, and opened the bulb affixed to his back. The Geodude tentatively hovered over, playing a cautious game instead of attacking blindly. The Bulbasaur launched a seed from the bulb then watched the small object glide across the room, landing on Brock’s Pokemon. It sprung into life, morphing into a parasitic plant which dug roots into the Geodude’s skin and began leeching the life force from Brock’s Pokemon.  

Dino growled in delight at seeing his ploy work as Leaf caught Brock’s look of disdain. The former Gym Leader nodded towards his Pokemon to begin his own offensive. Geodude floated towards the rock wall and used his powerful arms to wrench a handful of stone before launching the fragments at Dino. Leaf’s Bulbasaur danced around the rocks, ducking and diving around the stone hailstorm until his trainer shouted at him to move, but it was too late.

Brock’s Geodude had torn a larger portion of rock from the wall and had thrown it towards the roof, dislodging one of the rock icicles. Stone tumbled towards Dino, collapsing upon the Bulbasaur and burying him underneath.

“Dino!” Leaf shrieked, although after a few moments she spotted weak movement in the pile of rubble. Stone twitched as the Geodude approached to apply the finishing blow. Small sections of rock trickled down the stone pile before Dino emerged from within, greeting Brock’s Pokemon who neared him with a feeble growl.

The Geodude pulled his arm back for a final swing as Dino still struggled to escape his rocky tomb, but collapsed onto the floor before he could launch the strike. Brock’s rock-type lay twitching slightly on the floor then stopped, remaining still for a time until Leaf realised what had happened. The seed atop his head had drained the life from the creature, allowing her Bulbasaur to not only survive but claim victory.

Dino limply crawled back to Leaf until he had reached her side, then he collapsed. She scrambled for both a Pokeball and a potion, releasing Jab onto the battlefield before applying the healing spray to her exhausted Bulbasaur. It was her only potion; she had enough money to afford to stock up with possibly one or two more, but couldn’t leave the Gym unless she forfeited the battle. Brock replied to her Weedle with a Sandshrew.

Brock’s mouse-like creature had a scaly shell of yellow, with a soft cream underbelly and razor-like claws on both its hands and feet. It began by launching a furious assault on Jab, swiping and slashing with both claws until the Weedle pleaded for it to stop.

“Come back!” Leaf ordered Jab, knowing she had made a mistake in picking the Weedle for this fight. Her Pokemon slowly slithered towards her, attempting to flee the battle zone in order to be recalled whilst the Sandshrew recuperated. Brock’s Pokemon had expended a large amount of energy using his all-out attack strategy and this had then allowed Jab to escape. The Sandshrew chased after his foe, using all four legs to gather speed, but it was too slow; Jab had fled the battle zone and Dino had reentered.

Sandshrew’s charge had left it exposed and unable to flee Dino’s vine whips. Leaf’s Bulbasaur retained a type advantage over his foe, his attacks hurting Brock’s Pokemon more than it would any other type and this allowed the Bulbasaur to finish the job with ease. Dino’s foe slouched as he lashed vines against the creature until it was he was too tired to continue.

“I think you’re going to beat me,” Brock spoke without a hint of negative emotion. Then he laughed. “I think you’re going to do well fighting Rocket. In fact, I’m considering giving up.”

“You are?” Leaf said, shocked.

“But I can’t do that. As a former Gym Leader I’ve got to keep going. So come on Leaf, prove to me that you are strong enough to fight our corrupt government’s lackeys.”

“I will.” Leaf smiled, pulling Fury’s Pokeball from her belt and sending her Mankey into the arena. Brock opened his final Pokeball, an Onix bursting into the centre of the field. The gigantic Pokemon was constructed entirely of a series of giant stones connected to each other and giving the rock-type a snake-like appearance.

Fury roared into his battle rage and leapt at his foe, pummelling the beast relentlessly as if he were unperturbed by the creature’s hideous size. Onix shook his enormous frame, furiously causing the Mankey to fall and crash into the ground. Afterwards Brock’s Pokemon swung his tail, smashing a rock downwards only for Fury to roll out of the way at the crucial moment.

“Fury,” Leaf called out to her Pokemon who appeared set to launch another assault. “Think smart,” she ordered, the command snapping her Mankey out of his frenzy.

Leaf’s Pokemon searched the battlefield then sprinted towards a rocky knoll, trundling up the hill as if he was performing a rock climbing exercise. Onix saw his opponents movements then turned towards a boulder before swinging

his tail with such a force that Leaf almost felt as if the room moved. The stone was launched towards Fury, who positioned himself on a rock which jutted out of the knoll, then jumped. He landed atop the flying boulder and quickly leapt off, falling atop the knoll.

Onix launched another boulder towards Fury, who this time sprang upwards, grabbing onto the rock wall and climbing to the roof. Brock and Onix paused in unison, puzzled as to the Mankey’s actions. Leaf just smiled, knowing that her Pokemon had channelled her thoughts which was the result of an ever stronger bond between the two. She watched as he reached the top of the wall, then crawled upside down across the roof before nearing the confused Onix.

“Now,” Leaf roared once Fury had reached the space above her opponent. “Battle frenzy!”

Fury screeched a response, reentering his rage state and dropping from the roof, right onto the Onix’s head where he could cause the most damage. The Mankey ran amok atop the beast, lashing out with fists and kicks, savagely striking anywhere he could. The Onix shook its head furiously, but Leaf’s Pokemon clung on until a spoken command from Leaf made him jump off the Onix at the final moment. Brock’s Pokemon smashed his head into the wall as his tail crashed against a knoll, the impact causing the room to shake violently as some of the looser rock icicles fell from the sky. Fury ran for cover as stone smashed into the Onix, burying the Pokemon within a rocky tomb much like Brock’s Geodude had to Dino. But this time, the Pokemon buried in the rubble stayed there, unmoving. Leaf had defeated Brock.

“Woah,” the mayor of Pewter City gasped, clearly astonished at the scene.

“Think I’m strong enough now?” Leaf spoke proudly. Her Pokemon had impressed her, especially Fury.

“Never doubted it!” Brock admitted with nervous laughter. “You’re through to the next section of the competition then.”

“Yeah, ‘north and south’ I think they’re calling it.”

“You gonna want to spend some time here, or you heading elsewhere?”

“Cerulean City,” Leaf spoke impulsively. The plan had been for her, Wally and Blue to reconvene there.  

“You’ll have to pass through Mt Moon to get there then.” Brock still smiled, as if he hadn’t just lost a battle and been knocked out of the tournament in only the second round.

“The home of alien rock,” Leaf followed, remembering what she had learned in the museum.

“You’d be lucky,” Brock joked. “But knowing you…” he said without finishing the sentence, clearly making a jibe at her for being lucky in the battle between them. The two laughed genuinely, knowing that Leaf had won through skill and the bond with her team. She liked Brock, but now must say her farewells. Her journey led her elsewhere, towards Mt Moon, the supposed home of megastones.