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Wednesday 29/03/2017: Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink

October 30, 2015

Conscious Again

Note: If you are faint of heart or easily saddened, do not read. This story is scary, but more than that it is actually sad and depressing. So... if you don't want to read this Halloween special, I understand. Without spoiling, I can say this much: In this story, I am trying to apply realistic horrors to an imaginary world. Terrible things that may happen, and scar a person for the rest of their life. Or, even simpler, the depravity of humans who seek out a goal and are willing to sacrifice everything - and everyone - else to achieve it, no matter how twisted. Strictly speaking, this is a more emotional way to approach what I have tried to explain a month ago about a certain group of villains in a certain game.

After reading, feel free to go watch a number of cat videos. Or listen to soothing music. Or do anything that might get your spirits up. You will probably need it.
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Conscious Again


“We did it. We dreamed of a world where Team Flare would reign… and we succeeded. We succeeded!”

His fist raised, Lysandre spoke to the crowd of Team Flare grunts. I never bothered to count how many we were. It didn’t matter, did it?

“Today is the beginning of a new world. Never again will we need to worry about the diminishing resources of the planet!”

That nosy kid had been defeated once and for all. His friend, the girl who wore short shorts, we never heard of her again. The other girl? Nope, she vanished too. In Team Flare’s base under the ancient superweapon, we were protected from the blast. I didn’t really care what I would find outside. Life will be easier for us now, right?


Lysandre continued his speech. Ah, such a charismatic leader. I gave him five millions; he would have convinced me even if he had asked for ten. He let the head scientist Xerosic say a few words. Something about experiments… I didn’t understand half of it. Not like I cared.

We then shared a great buffet. Here we are, all sitting around a long table, with more food than I have ever seen. The grunt to my left is pigging out on wings. The Flare grunt on my right, a girl and one of my friends in this organization, bent towards me. “He’s going to have a stain on his orange suit.” She chuckled and winked at me, even though I could barely see it behind her bright orange shades. Outside of the HQ, we all call each other "grunts", but when we’re not in the middle of a mission to gather money, or to catch a Pokémon for our plan, we’re just taking it easy. And we get to know each other. It’s inevitable; if we’re going to be the only ones sharing this world, we have to get along. The girl who spoke to me? Her name’s Elya. I never saw her outside of her Flare grunt persona, because the dormitories are separated by genders, and we prepare for missions in our own dormitories. That's where we put on our uniforms, that's where we color our hair orange and stylize it just right. I don’t think I ever saw her before becoming a Flare. Aside from the admins and scientists, every girl here looks the same anyway. Which makes me think that all the boys look the same too, myself included. I guess we’re just good at masking our identities. But I spoke to her at random one day, and a subject led to another, and we learned more about each other, After a moment, we became good friends.

“What’s the first thing you’re going to do outside?” I ask her.

“I think I’ll just go home and see what it’s like to have a world like this,” she replies. “It will be strange, but interesting.”

“If you want, we could go outside and see this together,” I suggest.

“Is this an invitation to a date?” Elya asks. My face turns red as she says these words. “Well, this is sudden… we barely know anything about each other! You’re joking, right?”

“We have all the time in the world now, Elya,” I answer. “We’re not just the sole remaining humans on the planet. We’re immortal, too. Remember what Lysandre said about the superweapon?”

“I still find it hard to believe,” Elya replies. “It sounds too good to be true.”

I nod. She was right, it was difficult to believe. For now, I don’t want to know whether or not it was true… but I really want to see the world outside. “So, um…” I begin. “Would you like to go now?”

“Sure!” She answered. We leave the buffet table. The Flare scientist Celosia notices us and notifies Lysandre, but our leader is too caught up in the celebrations to hear. We leave the room and find our way outside of the headquarters hidden under the Superweapon. We emerge in Geosenge Town. We're still a little far from the Pokémon Center.

“Alright, I’m going home,” Elya says. “When you’re ready, join me.” She hands me her address. Lumiose City, huh? Like most of us. She then flies off on her Pidgeotto. Good to know that we kept that species alive. Once she’s gone, I start looking around. The place is silent. I walk around and – wait, what’s that on the ground, near the house? I have to pull off my bright orange shades to see what it is.

It’s a corpse.

A corpse on the ground, right over there.

What the… We were told that the corpses would disappear! “…That’s not normal.” I go take a look in the Pokémon Center. I push the door, and the sight instantly makes me realize how terrible of an idea it was. Nurse Joy has fallen face first on the counter. Friends were sitting around the table in the corner, listening to their Pokégear. Just dead air. And yet nobody was hurt. I can’t… I can’t explain it. It’s like their brains or their hearts stopped working, or- I don’t know, alright? I just don’t know! All I know is that THIS wasn’t our idea of a perfect world!

How can we have a perfect world if the bodies of everyone dead are just staying there?

I take a quick look at Route 10. The Pokémon attached to the stones have been turned to granite. And the Trainers who stood there to meet and battle other Trainers have just fallen to the ground. Even that nerdy redhead kid and his fat friend! They were trying to untie a Pokémon when the blast went off. Now, they’re just… I can't help but stand there and look at these people. They're freshly-deceased and I can't take my eyes off them. Can I... can I even operate Nurse Joy's machine? The one that heals my Pokémon? Caught with another doubt, I check into my PC account, where I stored the Pokémon I own. It all seems right, but just to be sure, I decide to switch around a few Pokémon in my team. When I call my Swinub out of its Pokéball, he first appears fine... and then he falls on his side. What, fainted already? No wait. There are no signs of life whatsoever.

I have a bad feeling about this. I all back my Swinub and put its Pokéball back in the PC.

When I leave the Center, I call forth my Talonflame. I’m glad to know that we kept that species alive, or traveling around would have been difficult. I fly off to Lumiose City. It’s been what, thirty minutes already? What I saw in Geosenge was awful, and it’s one of the least populated towns in Kalos! I’m really afraid of what I’m going to see in the metropolis…

Ten minutes later, I land in front of the Pokémon Center on the South Boulevard. The tourist ladies who stood nearby had hit the ground. And so were the girls with pink dresses standing just in front of the PR Video Studio. I’d rather not look into the Pokémon Center this time around. Let’s see… where did Elya live? I take out the map she handed to me. Alright, so I’ll go up Vernal Avenue, then I’ll turn right, and it’s a little bit past Vert Plaza. It says “721”.

Before I could move, I hear a chilling howl. Like a dog’s. Looking a little further, I see a Furfrou who had been playing around the trees in the center of South Boulevard. The animal was now sitting close to a woman dressed in pink, who’s laying near the Lumiose Transportation Office. Its owner, I guess. The Furfrou sniffs her. Then it takes a step back, sits down, and howls at the skies again. That’s when I realize I'm standing near the two lovers who were sitting at the terrace of the corner café. The two bodies had fallen off the chairs.

I finally go up Vernal Avenue. It doesn’t matter where I look, death is everywhere. The lifeless bodies of two kids near the Furfrou grooming salon. I wished I could just close my eyes and find my way without having to see this, but I can’t. I turn towards Vert Plaza, and I see two women on the ground, still facing each other. Don’t think about it, don’t think about it… I skip past a rollerskater, and that’s when I see two blond-haired kids, one of which is wearing a pale blue jumpsuit with yellow stripes on the legs.

Clemont… and his sister… No! No! No! …No! I… No! Must… look away! No! I must… not… see this!

Instead of keeping my eyes on the two kids, I choose to run. Not like I have to go very far, as I soon reach a small brick house with a red door. 721, right past Vert Plaza. That’s here. The door is open. I enter. Immediately, I see a man and a woman past their fifties, sitting around a table in what I guess to be the dining room. The woman fell face first into her plate, which would be funny if she wasn’t dead. Her husband was a little luckier; still on his chair, his head resting over his right arm, still clutching a fork. “Elya’s parents?” I wonder out loud. As if they're going to answer. “Elya? Elya, are you in here? ELYA??”

I go up the set of stairs and reach the bedrooms. The door to the parents’ bedroom is still open, but the other is closed. I knock. “Elya?” No sound whatsoever. I try to open the door, and it’s more difficult than I thought. I finally get it to open, and see a chair on the floor; she had blocked the entrance to her room. And then I raised my eyes. “Oh shit!”

In front of me, my friend’s body is dangling in the air, a noose around her neck.

“Elya! No! Why… why did you… why did you have to do that…”

Why am I talking to her? It’s not like she can hear me anymore! But wait, aren’t we supposed to be immortal now? This makes no sense!

I take off my shades. I don’t want to look at her through these bright orange stylish glasses. Not anymore. I head downstairs into the kitchen, come back with a knife, set up the chair near Elya’s corpse and climb on it, and then I try to hold her a little higher with my arms as I cut the rope. I never had to lift something heavier than a grocery bag in my entire life, so I’m unprepared for this task. Still, I manage to cut the rope, but Elya’s weight makes the two of us fall to the floor. Ouch.

As we fell, so did her shades. It’s the first time I’m seeing her face without a layer of orange between us, with neither of us having their orange glasses. For the first time, I see her brown eyes, and I wished she could see mine. But it’s too late for that.

I dragged Elya and placed her on her bed, the best I could, and removed the noose around her neck. Then, I placed the chair nearby… and I cried.

I don’t know how long I spent like this.

It’s hopeless. I know my tears won’t bring her back. I wished I knew her better than that. I got to know her, but never as much as I wanted. I miss her. And now, I miss all these people I never knew, all these children, these parents, these men and women.

Today, we’re not Team Flare grunts. We’re humans who realized that they’ve made the greatest mistake of their entire lives… and I am convinced that there’s no going back. No reset button. I can’t help but imagine that she saw everything I saw when I reached Lumiose City, and her parents were the last straw. This stupid bright orange uniform, this stupid haircut, it all feels like a weight today. I reject my Flare identity. I regret everything.

I put a hand on her hair and planted a kiss on her cheek. “Farewell, Elya.”

I can’t stay here, looking at her and crying. I need to do something. I don’t know what. I can’t find a solution to this. It’s too late to do anything. I guess I should just return to the superweapon HQ. Maybe there’s an answer there. Or maybe I can prove to the other Flare grunts that we did something awful.

I leave Elya’s house, and call my Talonflame out of his Pokéball. The bird felt my sadness, amd for a moment I had the impression that he, too, was crying.

***

I enter the superweapon headquarters, where I’m accosted by Malva. “Where were you?” She asks.

“I… I went to take a quick look outside…”

“Two hours and a half, that’s what you call a quick look?” She replies.

I’ve been gone for that long? Oh wow… Quick, think of something! “I… I was just so amazed that we finally had our own world that I HAD to explore! I… I walked all the way to Ambrette Town! The silence, miss Malva! The peace! You… you really have to go take a look!”

“You sound very unconvincing,” Malva remarks. “Besides, I know you’re lying, the security cameras installed by Lysandre and Xerosic saw you and your friend Fly away with your own Pokémon. Where did you go? And why.”

I had to gulp. “Well… She saw the peace and the silence, and she decided to go check out Lumiose City. Can you imagine what the metropolis is like, now that everyone else is dead?” In my head, as I was making up this half-truth, I was desperately trying to keep my role as a Team Flare grunt who’s totally proud of this victory. Malva is a Flare admin, an Elite 4 member too, and if I make a mistake, she’ll toast me with her Fire-type team!

“Alright, and where is she now?” Malva asked again.

“She’s still there. We… we explored Lumiose City to see what it’s like without all those, um, pesky poor people, to make noise and annoy us!” No, you idiot! Don’t say that! “I mean, most shops were empty, we could just take everything we wanted.” Oh great, now I sound like some petty shoplifter who decided to profit off everyone else’s demise to get new clothes. The day keeps getting better and better. Is this interrogation going to end? “But I got tired of running around, so I flew back. Elya had plenty of energy still, so she stayed there. She’ll join us as soon as she’s ready.” And now I’m using the last words I heard from her as a cheap cop-out to get out of this situation. We really are horrible people here!

“You don’t really convince me yet, but that’s better than before,” Malva replies. “We still have food from the buffet if you’re hungry after this much… running.” Her tone of voice makes it clear that she's not quite believing me.

“Oh, also, since I saw the outside world, may I speak of it with our leader?” I ask. “I wish to share my experience with Lysandre.”

“Oh, he’s in a meeting with the scientists,” Malva replied. “You’re not gonna get to talk to him just yet.”

“Um… Xerosic, then?”

“He’s one of the scientists, therefore he’s in that meeting as well, you idiot.” Malva sighed. “And for some reason, the admins aren’t allowed in.”

“Well, if they’re talking about science-y stuff about this brand new world and they’re charged with making it work with nothing but the members of Team Flare, I guess he can only rely on the scientists…” I’m still trying to sound convincing, but deep inside I hate myself for still being here.

“That’s what I thought,” Malva replied. “I suppose you may have a chance to speak to any of them after the meeting. If you’re lucky. But for the moment, go wait in the cafeteria or the dormitory. Oh, and your eyes are red. I suggest you correct that, it looks like you’ve been taking some illicit substances.” Oh. She noticed this through my shades? I hope she won’t think that something else happened…

As I head back to the dormitory, I see some Flares in the middle of celebrating. One of them is clearly drunk, while two others are singing a poorly thought-out song to congratulate Team Flare. Idiots. If they knew…

I reach the dormitory, and sit on my bed. Two beds away, I see a few other Flares patting each other in the back. “Oh yeah, alright!” “The world is ours now!” “No poor people anymore!” “We’ll have access to all of the clothes, all of the money!” “Damn, I gotta find myself a Flare chick to share this with!” At the mention of the Team Flare female grunts, tears start forming in my eyes. And before I know it, I’m crying again. One of the male grunts hears the sobbing and comes towards me. “Hey man, what’s wrong? You don’t know what to do with this great big world?”

“…You’re imbeciles…” I mutter. He doesn’t hear me under the congratulations of the others in the room.

“What?”

I finally snap. “You’re MORONS! Each and every one of you! You’re imbeciles, you’re morons! Is that clear enough for you? You’re all assholes!”

The celebrations in the background stop. They heard me alright. I should calm down, but I’m not in the mood to be polite. “You guys don’t get it, do you? Game Over! There’s no going back on this! Everyone’s dead outside! Everyone!”

“Yeah, that’s great!” One of the grunts behind says.

“No, it’s not! We destroyed the world! We’ve lost the last few shreds of humanity we had!” I take my shades off and fling them across the room, causing some of my ‘fellow’ grunts to gasp. For them, it’s like I’m outing myself as a traitor. “You guys won’t understand the reality of the ‘new world’ outside until you go and look at it firsthand! There are corpses everywhere. Men, women, children! And Pokémon, too! Everyone is dead outside.”

“But… wait… I thought the corpses were gonna disappear…” another grunt mentions.

“Well, guess what? They don’t! I went outside, and I saw it all!”

“Ah, come on, it can’t be that bad!” A third grunt says.

“Oh yeah? Wanna know what I saw? A Nurse Joy, dead. We can’t operate the Pokémon Center machines. Some friends, dead. A woman, dead, but her Furfrou was still alive, and it was trying to get her to wake up. Clemont and his sister, dead. One of the female Flare grunts’ parents, dead. Oh, and one Team Flare Grunt.”

“Heh. I won’t have that problem, I cut the ties with my parents long ago,” one of the grunts says. Another whispers, "No... Not Clemont! It can't be!"

“You know what? You guys won’t understand unless you go out and see the truth by yourselves. Which ones of you are heartless enough to live with this?” I get up. “Let me pick up my shades.” As much as I hate to say it, I need to stay under my Flare persona for now. I slipped up, and I hope I won’t become a target for the other Flares. I get to my glasses, I pick them up and put them on. “Just go out. Let’s see how you take it when reality crushes your self-entitled skulls under the weight of your guilt.” And I left the dormitory. That last image left them silent.

Minutes later, I’m scaling back and forth in the hall that leads to the reunion room. Finally, I hear the scientists and Lysandre get up from their seats. I wait just a little far from the door, and I fake my joy as the scientists come out. “Woo hoo! Team Flare forever!” I keep praising our team as Alyana, Bryony, Celosia and Mable get out. When it is Lysandre’s turn to leave, I say: “And resources for everyone! Lots of food! Lots of stuff! Alright!” I go for the ‘inebriated’ kind of joy, as if I drank a bit too much wine in the past hours. When Xerosic gets out, I say “I can’t wait to see the world outside now!” Xerosic locks the meeting room’s door behind him, stares at me with an emotionless face, and starts heading towards the scientists’ quarters. “Um… Scientist Xerosic?” I ask.

“Yes?”

I approach him. “I already saw the outside world.”

Xerosic looks around. When the scientists and Lysandre are far enough from us, he says: “Follow me to my laboratory.”

I follow Xerosic and fake my joy at our success with every Flare we encounter on the way, boys and girls alike. Some of the girls talk about how they’ll be able to get all the clothes they want for free, and how they need to start hooking up with male grunts. Urgh. Xerosic politely smiles left and right but remains silent, while I try my best to be convincing and going “the world is ours!” But each time I say these words, I feel deader inside. Yet I know that if I drop this masquerade, I will be dead fast.

We reach Xerosic’s personal lab and enter. He then boots up his computer, then prepares himself to type. “So, tell me about your experience: what did you see out there?”

“Corpses… corpses everywhere…”

“What else?”

“A Furfrou was crying because we kept that species alive and we killed its owner.”

Xerosic types. “What else?”

“Uh… some people fell off their chairs, others fell forwards, others backwards, the radio is all dead air…”

A few seconds, then: “What else?”

He’s starting to annoy me. “Even people inside Pokémon Centers and houses were struck. Adults and children, no one is left. Every single person we know that isn’t currently in Team Flare is dead, even our relatives or friends.”

Xerosic takes a long sigh, types some more, then asks, you guessed it: “What else?”

Okay, now he’s annoying me. Time to shake him up. “We are not immortal, unlike what you and Lysandre pretended.”

Rather than freaking out as I supposed he would, Xerosic stays calm. However, he lifts his eyes off the computer to stare at me, and I stare back, with the shades off my face. “What is happening, Xerosic?” I ask.

Xerosic sighs. “I knew some Grunts would put two and two together at some point. Although, I didn’t expect such an equation to be solved so early.”

“Drop the maths jargon,” I tell him. “Why is it that none of us is immortal like you promised?”

“That’s not quite true,” Xerosic says. “For now, only Lysandre may be the one who is immortal, and even then, this is not a certainty. This operation had a number of unknown values. That’s what happens when you work off legends, stories, folk tales and hearsay. We knew about the superweapon, but nothing said exactly what happened when it was activated.”

“Which means?” I have the impression that I’ll be in for some long explanation. Normally I wouldn’t pay attention to this kind of thing, because exposition is the least thing I’d care about if I was any other grunt… but now, I just want to know.

“I’ll make it simple; the legend may indicate that the bodies struck by the superweapon and its ray are instantly vaporized; or that ‘they vanish’. Or that ‘they pass on’. But this is still a legend. It embellishes the facts. Like saying that a fourth is sixteen sixty-fourths. When we activated the weapon, we knew it would unleash a ray that would erase most life in the planet.” He showed me a table of a large number of creatures, with most of them crossed off with a big red X, and some of them (less than half) with a green check symbol. “We could also input which species to erase and which to keep; we carefully picked which Pokémon species we wished to keep alive, choosing among all of them on a completed National Pokédex. But we did not know its precise physical effects on the victims.”

“So, wait, what you’re saying is that you basically knew what the machine would do, but not what exactly it would do?”

“You’re coming to the same result as I do,” Xerosic replies.

“Then… why activate it?” I ask.

“Oh ho ho! Simple: To see what really happens. To document the effects of this superweapon for posterity, and to see what becomes of Lysandre’s perfect world!”

“So… for science? Even though everyone who could benefit from this research is dead?” I ask. "That's stupid!"

“Now that you mention it, this does sound a tad pointless, but that’s merely a miscalculation,” Xerosic admits. “The opportunity is too good to pass.”

“And why aren’t we immortal as you all promised?” I ask. “Is that another thing of the legends?”

“Actually, no. We captured a tall man claiming to be the King of Kalos who created the superweapon and activated it for the first time. He is, indeed, immortal, as this was three thousand years ago. However, I fear only he who activates the weapon receives the immortality. The plan was, later, to have each and every one of you to activate the superweapon and gain such immortality. You would be protected from the superweapon as long as you’re inside this base, which was built for that precise purpose. We strongly advised against going outside as long as none of you were immortal… but that is too late now.”

“I guess that answers my questions… but that means you knew that the corpses would still be there outside this HQ!” I say, raising my finger towards Xerosic.

“It was the most probable hypothesis. But Lysandre, in his hurry to get the perfect world he dreams of, preferred to challenge the odds. I have many hypotheses for what’s to come, but it will take a lot of time before I get to see the results for those. And I intend to wait as long as will be needed. My thirst for knowledge will not be quenched as long as these questions remain unanswered!”

I couldn’t believe it. Was this guy serious? He was ready to betray anyone and everyone just to get science to move forward, regardless how unimportant it is by this point? I try to hide my annoyance. “So… what are your plans now? Say, didn’t we have to catch a Legendary Pokémon to get to do all this?”

“Xerneas? Yes, most certainly,” Xerosic says. “Why do you ask this question?”

“Look, I’m just some stupid rich kid who thought it would be cool to have the entire world belong just to a select few. I don’t know all that much about Pokémon, I don’t know much about science, but… wouldn’t it be possible to… Oh, I don’t know, reverse something in the superweapon to erase its effects and revive everyone outside?”

“Reversing the polarity? It would be an interesting experiment, but I have no interest in doing such. Not as long as this situation persists. And I doubt anyone else would help you. While I am in the adventure purely for science, the other scientists do believe in Lysandre’s idea of a beautiful world. So unless any of you ‘stupid rich kids’ know things about science, physics and Pokémon, good luck getting your hypothesis to be tested.” Xerosic smirks.

“All this for nothing! You’re insane.”

“Oh, but tell me which of us is the crazier: Lysandre, or me? He rants about a world of beauty and assembles a team and the funds to achieve it, and succeeds in murdering the entire population of the planet minus his followers, which are less than a hundred. Meanwhile, I merely help him and study what happens afterwards. All things considered, aren’t I still the lesser of two evils? And besides, isn’t it better to keep all of you as mortals for the moment? Wouldn’t it be a deeply interesting social and psychological experiment to see how every Team Flare grunt reacts to what’s outside?”

Behind us, the loudspeakers indicate that a Team meeting will be held in ten minutes.

I sigh. “There's no scale of crazy. You're both crazy. My friend killed herself.”

“My point exactly: In Lysandre’s idea of a beautiful world frozen in perfection, none of you has the chance to opt out if you’re dissatisfied. Even if Lysandre sees what happens outside, he’s immortal now; he can no longer escape the results of his actions. You, the lowly grunts, you still can. In fact, I, too, keep certain items nearby in order to leave as soon as I feel like my experiment has ended.”

I can’t wait to end this discussion with this guy. It’s so complex, and it’s so much insanity. “What items do you speak of?”

Xerosic presses some buttons on his desk, and a drawer opens, revealing a long rope and a revolver. I thought those were completely illegal? If you were so much as seen with one, you were getting arrested immediately! I just had an idea… but I need to get closer. “There’s a problem in your plan,” I tell Xerosic. “It will only work as long as there are enough Team Flare members here to play your game. And it will only work as long as they obey and are willing to listen to you or Lysandre or any of the scientists and admins.” I approach Xerosic’s desk. “Therefore, if a proportion of the members finds out that they’ve been lied to, that they’re still not immortal, they could rebel… it could destroy your entire experiment.” By that point, I reach his desk. I can see him trying to close the drawer, but before he can get to it, I grab his arm and punch him in the face. Ouch! I had seen this in movies before, but I never thought it would hurt my knuckles to punch another human!

Then I manage to grab the weapon before he can close the drawer. I see him getting up from his chair! I… I need to hurry! I pick up my shades in the corner and hurry out of Xerosic’s office, hiding the weapon under my suit. I can see him following me outside. Still holding his cheek, he yells: “Don’t!”

“Just watch me!” I yell back.

It seems a message passed around the headquarters that Lysandre was about to speak to the entirety of Team Flare. The male grunts were heading towards the main room. After putting on my shades, I quickly join the ranks of the other male grunts. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing that we all look the same; Xerosic will not be able to find me, unless he interrogates every male Flare grunt. We all sit down in front of the makeshift stage, and I notice that none of the grunts, scientists and admins currently have their Pokéballs on them. Lysandre steps up, followed by the scientists of Team Flare. I’m guessing that he wrote a quick speech out of what he learned during the meeting that took place before my discussion with Xerosic. Let’s see him use his charisma to get out of this trouble! Yeah. Nobody will be too happy to learn that they’re not immortal.

Before Lysandre can even begin speaking, I see some of the male grunts raising their hands and asking questions. “Is it true that there are corpses outside?” “Are we really immortal?” I can’t help but think that my talk with the grunts in the dormitory has really made them think.

“I hear your fears and your questions,” Lysandre says. “And this is why I called for this meeting.” Lysandre said nothing for a few seconds. It’s like he knows that his situation isn’t really great. “First of all, there was an unplanned effect of the superweapon. We had an idea of what it would do, but we were not certain, which leads to situations like this. If you go outside, you might find that the bodies of people who have been struck by the ray haven’t been eradicated. This is a problem, but we can all work towards correcting it. We simply need the will to correct this issue by ourselves. Now, for the second question…”

I get up and scream on top of my lungs. “WE ARE NOT IMMORTAL!” And not even a second after saying these words, I hear a collective gasp. The grunts on both sides start whispering to each other.

“Silence, puny grunt! And sit down!” Malva says. And here, when Malva speaks, we listen, because we all know what she can do. But today, I will not shut up. In fact, I pull off my shades and throw them away. I can see Xerosic resisting to the temptation of pushing grunts out of the way to get to me.

“No!” I tell Malva. “You’ll listen to me. I went outside with a grunt earlier today. Her name was Elya. We got to Lumiose City. Do you want to know what we saw? We saw corpses everywhere. People we didn’t know, others we know. Like Clemont!”

More whispering. Some of the grunts say that they’re shocked that kids died as well.

“And Elya, she saw her parents. They were dead. And then she… she…” I’m going to cry again! I have to stop thinking about it! I know I’m doing all of this for her, but crying right now will not help! I see the admins coming towards me and reveal my weapon. Immediately, some of them back off. Others try to get to me anyway, but I point the weapon at them and they stop. Even Xerosic stops.

“Hand over the weapon before something goes wrong,” Xerosic says.

“No.”

“Don’t be a stupid kid, and hand over the gun!” Xerosic replies.

“You choose to go against our beautiful world? Even though you helped us attain it?” Lysandre asks. “Why would you make such an idiotic choice?”

“You’re the idiot here, Lysandre!” I yell, causing more grunts to gasp. “We’re all idiots, here! And I’m an idiot, too. I realize it too late…” Oh Arceus, the tears again… I must stay strong. “I’d rather go to Hell than live in your beautiful world! There’s nothing beautiful about it! I’d rather be dead right now! Like Elya!”

I hear many female grunts scream in shock. I think two of them start crying. I guess she had some friends among the grunts… Even Malva and the female scientists look shocked. “Yes, you heard right, she’s dead! She hanged herself when she saw her parents, who had been killed by the superweapon! She saw the deaths she had a hand in, and she couldn’t take it! Can you?” I turn to Lysandre. “Can YOU?”

Lysandre tries to stay calm, but it’s getting difficult. Well, I AM pointing the weapon at him right now. Sure, maybe he’s immortal, but he has no desire to test that immortality. Eternal life would suck if coupled with an eternal bullet wound. “Please, don’t… don’t do anything,” Lysandre finally says. “It was a tough choice for all of us, but there is no way to come back from this.”

“And Xerneas, maybe we can use it again to bring everyone back to life!” I reply. “It’s too late for Elya, but everyone else outside…”

“You have been traumatized by your friend’s death,” Lysandre says. “Please put down the weapon. You do not want to cause any more losses, do you?”

I… I… Crap, he’s right. I’m menacing them with a firearm, but I just can’t bring myself to pull the trigger. I’m not a killer. I helped kill everyone else on the planet, but that’s before seeing what happened outside. “I regret what I’ve done in Team Flare. I never should have joined. This was the worst decision I’ve ever made. This organization, it shouldn’t exist. Maybe there’s a way to undo what we’ve done, with Xerneas. If there is, there might be hope for us.”

By this point, the grunts were talking to each other. “I don’t want to see dead people!” “If the world outside is so horrible, I want none of it!” “Lysandre LIED to us!” “Maybe we should go take a look?” I think I have managed to get to them.

“Yes, go outside, see what happened!” I tell them. I see some grunts running out of the room. If they’re going outside, that’s just great. Maybe it will open their eyes. “There’s still hope. But you all need to make that choice. The fate of the world rests on each of you. After you see the world outside as it is now, make up your mind. As for me, I decided I didn’t want to live in Lysandre’s world.”

I take a few steps back until I was in a zone without any other Flare grunt. Behind everyone else. Not that this made any difference, as they were still staring at me. I sincerely hope that they make the right choice. I cannot control them. I’d rather believe in whatever is left of their humanity. But for me, it’s too late. I think of a last wish, then place the gun to my temple. Believe me, Elya, I tried. I tried to change things. So that you’re not dead in vain. I’ve done everything I could, but it might not be enough. Maybe what I’m about to do will shake them enough to rethink their choices, and maybe it will lead them to repair their mistake. Maybe I will cause them to riot against Lysandre and Xerosic and they’ll revert the superweapon or something. All I know is that I cannot win alone, and this is the only solution I can find. I’m ready to join you now, wherever you are now.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Well… this was… depressing. I think I’ll come back next Friday with something… happier. I mean, wow, I knew I wanted to portray some realistic horror in the Pokémon universe, but… Jesus Christ… I think I did a little too well… Next week, I’ll be reviewing Kirby’s Dream Land.