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Broken Things

Rediamond

Middle of nowhere
Normal 1.15: The Trainer and The Tower
Lila

Once upon a time a powerful trainer named Lila defended a tower in Hoenn.

*​

{Supūn.} The alakzam stands at attention. You wave a hand over the assembled crowd. {Start evacuating. Ask the pokémart staff in Ever Grande for ethers if you get tired.} He leaves.

“Shida, Hirune.” Your cradily and snorlax look towards you as they materialize. “Shida, use vines to hold the foundation together. Hirune, start shoring up the building with boulders.” You have no idea if that will work. You make sure not to let your pokémon know.

“Den’atsu.” The manectric barks. “Go up the hill and try to draw the bolts towards you.”

Finally you send out Mangurōbu and Opera. Your two first pokémon. “Mangurōbu when you rematerialize push all of the water away from you and off the roof. Opera, I need you to take me up.” Neither object as you withdraw your starter and walk towards Opera. The altaria settles low enough for you to get onto her back before she starts ascending. She’s slower than normal. It takes you a second to realize that altaria wings could get really, really heavy in the rain and you’ve never felt a downpour like this in your life. “Come on, keep going,” you mutter. She gives an adorable war cry and continues to ascend. Slowly ascend. Now she’s not even breaking even. You prime your swampert’s pokéball and lob it onto the roof. A flash of light tells you it was successful and you tell Opera to go down.

There’s a presence in your mind. Something impossibly big is looking right at you. “Protect!” you scream. For a second you think that you’re doomed. For a second the red light stands up against the rain. For a second it stands against a hydro pump. For a second you fly back into the wall as the shield breaks.

You use every bit of telekinesis in your body to slow your fall.

You take stock once you hit the ground. The presence is gone. The titans are focused on each other again. Your quick thinking and Opera’s best efforts mean that only most of your ribs are broken. Opera is—oh. A quick press of a button confirms what her neck already told you.

*​

A blast of staggeringly bright green light strikes the roof. A fissure opens up and swallows your living fossil back into the earth. The cliffs freeze as kyogre grows frustrated with her lightning being redirected.

*
There’s a knock at the door. You don’t say anything. Don’t move. Barely notice it. The door opens anyway and you see a white man in a suit enter. He walks over and sits down in a chair in front of you, between you and your pokéballs.

“It takes guts to teleport into the midst of fighting gods.”

You don’t know where he’s going with this. You let him continue.

“I should thank you. Two-hundred and thirty-six lives were saved.” And four were lost.

No. Far, far more than four.

“So,” the man leans back and clasps his hands. “What comes next for you?”

You open your mouth but the reply dies in your throat. What does come next? It was going to be the League but with four pokémon down you have no chance. No desire. League matches are controlled but you’d always be scared that two would become one.

He smiles. “Nothing?”

Nothing.

“Then may I offer you a job? I believe the International Police could use a daring hero such as you.”

“Not a hero,” you croak out.

He raises an eyebrow. “You put your life at risk to save others.”

You stare at him. He stares at you. Eventually he gets the hint, slides a business card into your hand, and leaves.

It takes a while. Four months, in fact. But eventually you call the number and say yes.

*​

If you’d known seven years ago what you know now you wouldn’t have accepted. Not because of the danger. Quite the opposite, in fact. You’d much rather be fighting ultra beasts than facing your most dreadful opponent of all: meetings.

The other participants—Gladion, the kahunas, Admiral Wilford, and Governor Fisher—are already present when you and Looker teleport in. Selene was probably invited but since she’s always either very early or not attending at all you’re willing to bet that she’s not coming today.

Once you’re seated the admiral clears his throat. “Good morning and thank you for coming. I would like to begin this month’s meeting by discussing the recent activity of the Skulls.”

“Must we?” Hapu asks. “They’re small time criminals. I would prefer that we stick to the UBs.”

“They were ‘small time,’” the governor says. “That is no longer the case. Now they’re revolutionaries.” You can’t help but roll your eyes at the seriousness with which he says absurd things. “We’ve found pamphlets that say as much”.

“They’re kids who are mad at the government.” Hapu crosses her arms. “Do we need the military, the police, and the kahunas to go after them now?”

Now, of course, is a time when aliens show up in Alola one to three times a month.

“Especially now,” Admiral Wilford answers while puffing himself up a little and glaring down at the teenage kahuna. The latter doesn’t so much as blink. “They’re testing the waters. Burning buildings. Scaring off tourists. Stealing from trucks carrying construction materials. Who knows what they’ll do if we don’t show them that their actions have consequences?”

“I think we can all agree that no one wants a city taken over again,” Governor Fisher adds.

“You’re playing into Plumeria’s hands.” Oh boy. Gladion’s defending Team Skull after you fought so hard to get him and his Silvally onto the council in the first place. You don’t disagree with him. But he really needs to learn to read the room, manage his reputation, something. “You crack down on them. People get hurt. People get killed. That gives her propaganda and reasons to escalate. You want to really piss off the natives? Kill a bunch of their kids because they broke some ****.”

Red and teal flare around the table. Anger and conviction. You should step in. Or watch. They want to talk about the skulls they can talk about the skulls. Yeah. Watching is fine.

“If we let the rebels do whatever they want then we might as well just hurry up and surrender to them.”

Is Plumeria’s approval rating higher than the governor’s? You don’t actually know at this point. Probably not a good idea to ask. But you can quietly look it up under the table. She wins 27 to 23.

The admiral and the governor keep blustering at Gladion and Hapu. The older kahunas stay out of it but from their emotional colors you’re pretty sure that Molayne agrees with the governor and Olivia and Hala side with Hapu. Experience tells you that Looker’s against the skulls. Counting votes leaves you four to four. Time to tiebreak.

“Can we vote on taking direct and coordinated action against Plumeria as a council?” Formal. Maybe too formal for Hapu and Gladion. Glances are shared. Eventually Molayne shrugs and gives you a ‘sure’ of approval.

Four votes for action, as you predicted. Four votes against plus your own. No need to waste time and resources on some kids with middling pokémon and no idea what they’re doing.

“Well then,” the admiral crosses his arms and actually growls. “Anything else we need to talk about?”

“VStar,” Olivia says in her distinctly kind-but-no-nonsense tone.

“What about them?” the governor asks. “And why talk about them here and not at the ecology board?”

Judging by his emotions you’re pretty sure that Rachel has him wrapped around her finger. You’ll need to have another talk with her. She’s not actually a controller and you can’t punish her just for being an effective lobbyist but sooner or later the wrong person will get too paranoid and you’ll be left to clean up the mess.

“Tapu Lele’s taken notice.”

“As has Tapu Koko,” Hala adds.

“And Fini.”

For a long moment no one dares to speak. There’s an interesting mix of anger and solemn acceptance around the table.

“So what,” the governor finally says. “They’re going to throw another hissy fit and destroy a city if our democratically elected government doesn’t bow to their every whim?”

“That’s possible,” Olivia says in a neutral tone you couldn’t have managed under the circumstances.

“Could they withhold assistance against the UBs?” you ask.

“Also possible.” The Akala kahunas looks towards you with a neutral face masking sadness and anger.

That’s bad. Even with the tapus you’re barely eking out wins and every loss has the potential to snowball if defenders are killed or demoralized. “I think it might be worth appeasing our allies, then.”

“Selene’s beaten Tapu Koko, right?”

“I’ve done what now?” The champion enters the room. Her emotions are a mess and you’re pretty sure she’s got a new scar or two from the last time you saw her. Definitely a little bit paler. Someone else follows her. A woman in a spacesuit with gray skin. You can sort of see her mind’s colors but they’re subtly wrong. Tones you usually don’t see in configurations that don’t make any sense.

The woman outlines a square with her hands. “Alola, people of Alola.”

Selene sits and her guest follows. This is the first time that the champion’s brought someone back from Ultra Space. “Now,” Selene says as she sits down at the head of the table, “I would like to hand off the discussion to my new friend, Soliera.”

Hala starts but gets shut down by a glare from the champ. He takes the message. Whatever was being discussed before can wait for now. Soliera clears her throat. “Good day. I am with the Ultra Recon Squad.” Multiple eyebrows are raised and heads are tiled. No one but Selene seems to actually know what that is. Thankfully the alien gets the hint. “We monitor and police threats in Ultra Space. It gives me no pleasure to inform you that one is heading towards your planet.”

“On top of the ultra beasts?” you ask.

She makes a clicking sound with her tongue. “This is far more serious. There are light-based beings that roam the void. When healthy they are benevolent and freely share their energy with others. They are called necrozma, blinding ones, guiding lights.” She closes her eyes and her voice drops lower. “When they are wounded they seek out new worlds to drain the light from to heal themselves. They can drain countless worlds and still never be content. One took notice of yours after a strange spike in energy four years ago. It should arrive in less than one of your planet’s orbits.”

Of course it would. Because on top of everything else Alola needed a world-ending monster dropped right on top of it. The universe can’t let you keep six pokémon for long.

*​

“Hey! Wait up a sec!” you turn around to see the new Ula’Ula kahuna chasing after you. Smiling on the outside. Smiling a little less on the inside. Molayne runs a hand through his gray hair when he catches up. “Mind if I borrow your Ultra Scanner? There are some improvements I want to install.”

“Please do. Want a ride back to your lab?”

He nods enthusiastically as you hand over the device. “Yes, of course.”

Supūn ferries him over as you consider your schedule.

*​

The North Point Pokémon Center is close enough to your condo that you can just walk. Might as well since it’s a very nice day. Warm with a mild sea breeze. Gives you some time to glance over the files you have on the new girl. Cuicatl Ichtaca. Long green hair, dark skin, cataracts. Kind of gaunt. Citizen of Anahuac. Two pokémon registered. Vulpix, OT Raphiel Brooks. Tyrunt, OT Cuicatl Ihctaca.

Tyrunt? Really? How? Why?

American mother but no citizenship. Arrived on a challenge visa September 20, 2019. No official record of her powers. There are a few documents from Anahuac attached. Strange mix of terrible and stellar grades. Legally emancipated from her living father. Deceased mother and twin—oh **** that was three months ago.

You’ve seen the statistics and the reality enough times to know that surviving psychic twins are more likely than not to die within the next year, often by their own hand. It’s concerning to say the least. You’ll need to do a full scan. You’d need permission but as the semiofficial regulator of the Alolan psychic community you’d be the one to semiofficially grant it so—approved. Full scan is semiofficially legal now.

Your mind bushes against hers well before you reach the center. A quick glance shows that she’s on a bench overlooking a golf course and the ocean. Well, if your mind has found hers she’s probably aware of you so there’s no time to go back into the records.

“Hey, I’m Lila.”

She turns towards you and smiles at an invisible person to your left. “Cuicatl Ichtaca. Good to meet you, ma’am.”

“Sir,” you correct on reflex. Her expression wavers and her feelings, slightly obscured behind anti-telepath defenses, shift to shame. You wave off her concerns. She doesn’t notice.

“Are you trans?” she asks.

“Sort of.” You sit down at the bench and glance at the two white pokémon—wait does that tyrunt have fluffy white down feathers? Anyway. Gender. “Non-binary, I think.” Haven’t had another psychic outright confirm it to you. Not sure what the confirmation would even be worth since minds are internally inconsistent and can change by the minute.

The girl doesn’t say anything. The vulpix on her lap stares at you and the tyrunt behind her on the bench stands up tall to get a better look. Onus is on you to restart the conversation. “Enough about that. You can call me Lila.”

“Cuicatl Ichtaca.” Every time she speaks she sends you a psychic signal. You’d been letting them bounce off your shield but maybe you should actually read one. A few thoughts set up a quarantine. “Both words,” she practically whispers. It sends out a signal for you to translate. ‘Both words.’ In Japanese. No accent. Huh. That’s probably her specialty. You leave up a few mental stopgaps but otherwise let yourself receive the messages. Kid’s not attacking. Looks way more scared of you than you are of her.

Wait, did Rachel tell you about your formal job? Because if she only knew she was talking to a cop, well, in this climate you really couldn’t blame her for being terrified. “What were you told you about me?”

“You watch over the psychics on the islands. That’s all.” She starts ruffling the fur on her vulpix’s head. Nervousness? “Did I do something wrong?”

She’s done a few things that weren’t ideal. She should’ve reported her powers right off the bat. Rachel might be able to get things smoothed out but in any event it would look too much like the community protecting its own from otherwise neutral laws. Not a great look. Unfortunately you’re in a position where the best thing for her, you, and the community is for her to just not report it.

“No.” No reason to tell her about all of that. It would scare her and kids can do dumb things when they’re scared. As can adults. “I just like to check in with new psychics on the islands. Welcome them to Alola, talk about options, lay down the rules, the usual.”

She frowns. “Miss Bell said you would talk to me about schools.”

Makes sense. They’d probably be good for her Having a structured, supportive environment is seldom a bad thing.

“Right. There are a few schools on the mainland. Probably one in Anahuac.”

“There is,” she mutters. “They use us as spies.”

Oh. Well. Tiny blind girl might not be the best spy. Too noticeable. But the language filter would help a lot.

“The government doesn’t make psychics do anything here,” you lie. White lie. There’s registration, occasional psych evals, semiofficial supervision, a few laws that Rachel likes to come dangerously close to breaking… and annual talks with CIA and FBI recruiters. The recruitment talks are mandatory but accepting isn’t. The distinction would probably be lost on her anyway.

Wouldn’t matter. She still doesn’t seem to buy it.

“Any particular reason that you aren’t interested?” you ask.

“Money.”

Well. She’ll get along fabulously with Rachel, then. Or they’ll become business rivals and die cordial but mortal enemies.

“School would be free for you.” That one isn’t even a white lie. The government would much rather have psychic kids in one place where they’re easily supervised and sheltered from the worst of poverty during their formative years. Lessons learned from the empath defectors of the Cold War.

“No.” She shakes her head and green locks fall into her face. “I need seven hundred and eighty-one thousand dollars.”

It sounds like a joke but she’s dead serious. You reflexively switch into cop mode. “Why? You on the run from—” Cartels. The government.

Rebels.

American-born mother. Green hair. Language-based telepathy. Hell, you’re pretty sure you heard somewhere that one of his cousins was blind. You take a deep breath. She has far darker skin than you’d expect. You could still be wrong.

“Any of your ancestors Korean?”

The girl blinks. “My grandmother. Why?”

“My former boss might’ve worked with a relative of yours.” Hard to even call that a white lie when ‘worked with’ means ‘hunted.’ Unsuccessfully hunted, but hunted nevertheless. Probably for the best there. You don’t want to imagine his old boltund trying to take down Zekrom. Anyway, time to bring him into this.

[Can I ask you a question about N?]

[Yes.]​

His absurdly prompt responses stopped surprising you years back. He’s probably slightly precognitive. Truth be told you were already typing your next message out.

[He ever contact his birth relatives?]

Something starts beeping incessantly beside you. Supūn is standing there with the new Ultra Scanner in hand, lights blazing and sounds blaring. You snatch it away from the pokémon and shut it off. Supposedly there’s a UB right on top of you. “Excuse me for a second.”

You get up and walk far enough away from the bench that even with the girl’s blindness-enhanced hearing she won’t be able to overhear you. Then you dial the Ula’Ula kahuna. He picks up on the third ring.

“Hello. Any problems?” He sounds cheery enough. Something deep inside of you wants to rip into him even more for it.

“I set it off.”

You can hear the awkward swallow over the line. “Okay. Uh, send it back and I’ll see what I can do.” He clearly wants permission to end the call. You won’t give it to him.

“You know I hate it when this happens, right?”

“…I can imagine how you’re feeling, yeah.”

“No. You can’t.”

The Kahunas lied to you. Looker lied to you. Supūn lied to you.

Everyone lied to your face for years and now he pretends to know how you feel.

*​

On May 7, 2014 a wormhole opened near North Point. Two police officers showed up to investigate, prepared to fight whatever demon game through. They found a young woman covered in bruises. She was asked her who she was. The asker isn’t in the record. The woman answered in Japanese. A few minutes later she would be translated as saying:

“My name is Lila. I come from Hoenn. I was a powerful trainer who defended a tower.”

There were six pokéballs on her belt. Four were broken. One held a snorlax, the other an alakazam.

The alakzam introduced himself as Supūn. He told the men that his trainer was psychic and Ultra Space with its alien minds slowly eroded hers. He only kept his sanity because his trainer decided to keep him in his ball as much as possible and rely only on herself and her other pokémon.

Apparently she found her way out.

The alakzam translated the woman’s words. The words that she continued to mumble to no one in particular while picking up sand and letting it run through her fingers and onto her tattered, blood-stained clothes. He said they were true. He refused to provide more context. He’d lost some of it himself. And he said then as he would say many more times in the future, “Knowing what she had wouldn’t make her any happier now.”

She was taken to Tapu Lele. He made the woman whole by shredding everything that was real and weaving a lie between the words she’d said. A lie that the International Police supported with forged documents and even an actress claiming to be her mother. A lie that conveniently left behind a faller willing to do exactly what the lie’s crafters wanted from a faller.

Convenient how that worked out.

At first you’d accepted their explanation that you’d fought enough UBs that the aura just rubbed off on you and drove more near. As you learned more and more about them you slowly realized that’s not how things worked. Eventually everything fell apart after you really dug into your documentation.

Now you keep living the lie because what else are you going to do? Abandon the people to alien ambushes because their leaders were manipulative? Doesn’t mean you have to be happy about it. Doesn’t mean you’ll take it when a kahuna rubs it in your face.

*​

You end the call to find a text from Looker.

[Sounds like something he would do. Why?]​

Deep breath. You didn’t come here for N. You didn’t come here for your own demons. You came here to do a wellness check on a child. Everything else can wait a few minutes. {Supūn, I need help doing a silent scan.}

Silent scans are one where the target doesn’t notice. On a trained psychic they’re next to impossible, even with pokémon help. She’s not trained. Rather than smooth walls her defenses are ever moving chainsaws. Most of it will hurt if touched. It’s good combat form. Not good standing form. Leaves holes. You point out one you’d noticed to your alakazam and he forms the link. Alright time to look.

While you have some telepathic power you’re fundamentally an empath. You don’t look directly at the structure of her mind, just the impressions that things have left. Easiest to do for connections to other people.

It’s immediately obvious what parts used to directly connect to her twin. Apparently a functional relationship. Differentiated personalities. That’s good. Means they shared less. Makes it easier to cope. Not easy—it still looks like her mind was messily sawed in half and error reports stack up every minute when an old routine doesn’t work. Could’ve been worse, though. Whatever consolation that is.

A few slightly atrophied connections. A father figure, an older sister(s?), and a younger one. A mother figure grouped separately from that cluster. That one is particularly strange. Almost like hero worship. Very few meaningful connections but a very clearly felt absence. Only been frayed for a few weeks, though. That one might require a deeper file review. Maybe even some document requests to Anahuac.

Then someone who was probably her actual father. Solid links to her and a bunch of the twin’s old emotional pathways seem to lead there. Oh boy. Some love, a lot of distance, fair bit of pain, and a very serious break around the time of the twin’s death. Then spite. It’s new but it already deeply stains her perception of him.

A few minor ones. Casual friends, teachers, distant pets, maybe a crush. None truly defining in her mental architecture. None terribly missed.

New connections. Ones formed entirely after the loss of the other ones. None that span both periods. Strange. Not calling home at all? Two fairly advanced links to other minds. Her pokémon. Complicated but satisfactory relationships. They give her headaches but probably also cuddles. Good, but not enough to anchor a person with. There’s a third recently broken link. More positive. Fewer headaches. Almost as much love as her starter. Relationship severed against her will. Connection’s become linked to the parent-sister figure clusters. Loss. Less hope of recovery. Were the other three pokémon? Possible with her powers.

Two main human links. One has deep rings of annoyance and pain with a sheen of reliance and hope on top. Other is the opposite. Mostly positive with a level of fear and distrust at the surface. Neither is really deep enough to be sustaining.

Rachel. Her mind signature mixes in a little bit. Fear, disappointment, some feelings similar to her parental figures. Authority. Authority that’s failed her a little and helped her a little.

Well. That’s all the new ones. Now for the biggest one. Her impressions of Cuicatl Ichtaca.

Bad. Deeply, horribly bad. Years long trails of hate, disgust, disappointment. Small threads and spots of love. Of hope. Recently blunted. Feelings turned decidedly darker and dimmer with her twins death. A step away from ending things, which is a half-step further away than she’d been only a few weeks ago. Slight progress. Not enough progress. You’re not comfortable adding her to the list of the dead yet but if you were a betting woman, well, you wouldn’t bet against it. You’ve seen happy people destroyed by their mind being shattered. She wasn’t happy to begin with.

You close the link and hand the scanner back to your alakazam. He teleports off without a word and you walk back to the bench. Kid’s a little paranoid. Probably because a cop walked off to make a long call after a very odd exchange.

“Hey, sorry, work called. Anyway, I have one last thing to take care of.”

“Okay…”

You really need to stop saying cryptic things and cutting off. Kid’s going to be justifiably terrified of you.

“Tapu Lele,” **** him, “gives new psychics on the island a z-bracelet. Can I put it on you?”

She smiles a little. Inside and outside. “Okay.”

Fits perfectly without adjustment. That’s rare. Maybe the tapu had already scouted his new subject out himself. Wouldn’t be the first time. “Now, want to try it out?”

“I have a Normalium-Z,” she answers. “Pixie knows roar.”

Of course she already had a plan. Got her first Z-crystal and immediately thought about how she’d use it if she could. Roar’s a good testing move, too. Don’t need to put a pokémon in the way of it. Might piss off some golfers and you’d have to investigate yourself for a noise complaint. Nothing too serious.

“Alright, put the crystal in.” She takes out a smooth black case with one white crystal and seventeen empty spots. Heh. They’re really giving kids full cases. Encouraging them to seek out the hard ones, too.

You guide her hands through the (relatively simple) motions for the normal crystal. Her vulpix lights up and an instant later an ear-piercing shriek rumbles down the cliff. Some people start below. Let them. You remember the first time you used a crystal. Good memory. One of your first fond ones that was actually—Cuicatl collapses to her knees. Right. ****. Rough on first time users.

You kneel down to help her and when you take her wrist you notice that her pulse is going crazy, her eyes and wide open and. And she bends over and pukes. Her tyrunt rushes over but you push her aside. Bit rougher than your first time. She got vomit in her hair so you go behind her and hold it back in case she has to throw up again. She does and—seriously what is it with this dinosaur and vomit? At one point her arms give out and you catch her and oh wow you can really feel all of her ribs. Her heart is still trying to shake itself free of its constraints.

Extreme thinness. Self-hatred. Possible poverty? Cause doesn’t matter. You really shouldn’t have given her a Z-crystal. Damn it. Should have noticed.

“Mind if my snorlax carries you?” A weak nod. You send her out and gives the order.

Right after Cuicatl’s safely in the bear’s arms you feel her slip into unconsciousness.

****.

*​

Her heart was still beating and she’d regained consciousness when you dropped her off. A few hours of watching your police scanner and the Center’s called for neither an ambulance nor the police. She’s probably fine.

As fine as a suicidal teenager living in the path of a wanted terrorist and a light-stealing abomination can be, anyway. No. Don’t think about necrozma. Not now. Problem for future Lila. Focus. Good things.

When Supūn brought back the scanner back it didn’t instantly flag you.

That’ll have to do for today.
 
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