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- Location: ISAF GHQ
It was barely light out when he awoke to the sound of someone knocking on the front door. Not that he had been all that deeply asleep in the first place. He hadn’t slept well in a long time. He slowly got out of bed and threw on a robe as the knocking became more insistent. By the time he found his glasses and staggered to the door, he was almost certain that whoever was on the other side was about to break it down. The knocking stopped the moment whoever was on the other side heard him disengaging the locks. The door swung open as he prepared to greet his visitors.
“Yeah, what do you…want?” he asked, pausing for a moment as he got a good look at the two people standing on the other side.
Both of them were wearing suits, one man, one woman. Their stern expressions told him they weren’t here to mess around. They reached into their jackets and produced badges, identifying them as members of the Joint Defense Commission.
“William Ryan?” the man asked.
“I’m Agent Reese, this is Agent Jackson,” the man said. “We need to speak with you. May we come in?”
“Why? What’s going on?”
“It’s very important that we speak to you, sir. May we come in?”
“Uh…sure, I guess,” he said as he stepped aside to allow the agents entry into his home.
The two agents took up a position on the couch while he sat in a chair facing them. Agent Jackson produced a file folder and laid it on the coffee table in front of him.
“Mr. Ryan,” Agent Jackson began, “as I’m sure you are aware, the worldwide situation is rapidly deteriorating after Team Nova released ‘Pokerus M’ three months ago. Due to the nature of the current situation, military action is not a feasible option.”
William took the folder and opened it. It contained dossiers on various Team Nova activities, their strategies and positions of consolidated power. The documents also kept mentioning something about the Trainer Initiative, although he had no idea what that was. Most surprising though, was the fact that they had a full workup on his entire background and history. Everything was there; his stint as the Unova regional champion, the time he spent studying abroad, everything.
“What’s all this about?”
“Mr. Ryan,” Agent Reese said “the President has authorized the creation of a…unique task force to combat Team Nova and the threat they represent to the world. Your background makes you an excellent candidate for the program.”
“We’re pulling prospective candidates from regional champions, gym leaders, the Elite Four, everyone we can get our hands on. The details will be revealed in full should you decide to accept.”
“And if I don’t?”
“Then you go back to living your life for the time being.”
“You have until the end of the week to decide,” Agent Jackson added. “If you want to be part of the project, go to the Nimbasa City gym on Sunday. Everything will be explained there.”
William scratched his chin and looked at the documents again. This whole thing had trouble written all over it. But…it might be an opportunity, too.
“I’ll look it over and think about it.”
“Don’t take too long, Mr. Ryan. You only have until Sunday.
Agent Jackson nodded at Agent Reese and the two of them stood up and straightened their suits. William followed them to the door and watched them head towards their car. As they were getting in, Agent Jackson turned to face him.
“And Mr. Ryan. For what it’s worth, we’re sorry for your loss.”
William grimaced as he closed the door. It was easy for them to offer condolences. They hadn’t been there. They hadn’t seen firsthand. He knew what Pokerus M did to it’s victims. And what those victims did in turn. He knew he wasn’t going back to sleep, as he plopped down on the couch and turned the television on to watch the morning news. Another attack today, another Pokerus outbreak. This time in Lilycove City, Hoenn. The newscasters were showing live footage of the aftermath of the outbreak, with a little picture-in-picture of the leader of Team Nova claiming responsibility for the attack.
“For too long has humanity labored under the assumption that they were ‘helping’ Pokemon by training them and forcing them to evolve! By interfering with the natural course of events, we have weakened the natural process of evolution itself! Pokemon are no longer adapting to the changing world as they should! We must...”
William turned the TV off in disgust. The leader of Team Nova, a man only known by his moniker of Darwin, liked to shout a lot in is videos. Always the same BS. Never any difference. Sometimes, William wondered if they hadn’t just pre-recorded all these videos at the same time before sending them to the press.
He looked at the dossiers again. The Joint Defense Commission had been thorough in digging up information about his past. Probably the only reason they had approached him the first place. Too much risk of him being a sleeper agent he supposed.
The stuff on Team Nova, although detailed, was still somewhat minimal. Nothing the news hadn’t really reported on at any rate. Some workups on a few of the more public faces of the organization, including a few high-profile celebrities that had decided to run off and join the terrorist organization. Not too much of a surprise there. There were enough celebrity whack-jobs to fill a stadium with out there anyway. It was bound to happen sooner or later.
He put the folders down and rubbed his temples. The agents hadn’t given him much to go on. Just some vague promises of a project that he might be interested in joining. Something that was presumably aimed at taking down Team Nova, which apparently trained government professionals were incapable of handling. The idea of that alone was enough to make him curious. It might be possible to back out if he didn’t like what he heard. And maybe…
No, he still needed to think more. Maybe get out for a bit, clear his head some.
The noonday sun was warm on his face as he stared out over the ocean near Route 17. What was previously a busy beachfront during this time of year had largely been abandoned. Government cleanup teams had swept through the area a few weeks ago and shipped most of the wild Pokemon living here off to one of the reserves or storage facilities they were using to keep them free of Pokerus infection. Still, nobody wanted to leave the relative safety of the cities for fear of getting attacked by wild Pokemon. A fear that was certainly justified these days.
It had all happened so fast. Extremist groups with armies of Pokemon were nothing new. Rocket, Magma, Galactic. They had all come and gone, defeated at the height of their power by bumbling teenage trainers. So when news of a new organization of criminals made headlines hardly anyone took notice. That was before the chemical warheads were detonated. Before they overthrew the governments of both the Kanto and Johto regions. Before...
The wind changed direction direction and brought a new odor to go with the smell of salt water. The reek of rotting carcasses. He turned to look in the direction of the smell, but couldn’t see anything from where he was standing. Morbid curiosity got the better of him as he moved to investigate the source of the stink. It didn’t take long to find it. As he crested a sand dune, a horrifying display played out in front of him. The beach was littered with the bodies of dozens of Pokemon, each of them bearing the hallmarks of having recently been in an intense battle. Their bodies were twisted with the bulging muscular growth that was the hallmark of Pokerus infection. Seadra and Kingdra corpses mingled with the deflated bodies of Jellicent. Bloated Finneon an Alomomola rotted in the heat. A few individuals, still clinging to life, feebly tried to attack each other, their senses so overridden with bloodlust that they couldn’t help themselves, even as they were dying.
This is what Team Nova had unleashed upon the world, this horror show that was playing out before him now. They weren’t criminals or terrorists or extremists. They were monsters, plain and simple. He knew what he needed to do now.
Security was extremely tight at the Nimbasa City gym. William had to go through no less than three security checkpoints just get inside. No one was taking any chances of sleeper agents disrupting this little get together. The inside of the gym had been converted to an auditorium, with rows of seating added in front of the main battle arena, which had been converted into a stage. Security guards armed with guns (a rarity in this day and age) blocked access to the front. The auditorium hummed with conversation as nearly a hundred people were packed tightly into the seats. William didn’t see anyone that looked familiar so instead just picked an open seat near the middle.
The conversation abruptly died when the lights dimmed and a man that William recognized as President Harrison himself took the stage, flanked by more armed guards.
“Good morning,” he began. “As many of you are itching to know exactly why we called you here, I’ll try to get to to the point as quickly as possible. The world we live in is now facing its greatest challenge ever. The actions of Team Nova have had a devastating effect on the world environment, both ecologically and politically. They have seized control of both Johto and Kanto, using an army of genetically engineered hybrids.”
As the crowd started murmuring, a large television monitor descended behind him before flickering to life. The video footage was a bit grainy, but it wasn’t too hard for William to make out several people wearing the uniform of Team Nova working in concert with several...things. They looked like Pokemon, but not like any species that he had ever encountered or heard of before. The video feed cut to a 3-D reconstruction of the creatures from the video.
“These new hybrids appear to be purely artificial in origin,” President Harrison said, motioning to one of the hybrids that appeared to be a combination of Exploud and Noivern, “and furthermore also appear to either be immunized or engineered to ignore the damaging side effects of Pokerus infection. We believe these new creatures are the key to their hostile takeover of the region. And seeing as how it’s impossible to fight them with conventional Pokemon due to the risk of Pokerus infection, they have gone unopposed in this endeavour.”
“Then why did you ask us to come here in the first place,” a voice in the crowd shouted, to which more murmurs of agreement rippled through the crowd. “We’re Pokemon trainers, not soldiers!”
“To answer that question, I’m going to turn this conversation of to Dr. Herschel Mendel, one of the top Pokemon geneticists in the world. Dr. Mendel?”
The President stepped aside as a tall, thin-looking man in glasses and a lab coat took the podium. Although he appeared to be nervous at first, he quickly composed himself and began to speak in a deep, clear voice.
“Thank you, Mr. President. We believe that the only way to combat the threat posed by Team Nova is to fight fire with fire, so to speak. Through information obtained from the capture and interrogation of of several members of Team Nova’s science division, we now have the ability to create our own hybrids that are immune to the Pokerus. All Pokemon share a similar genetic code, a fact which has baffled scientists for decades. And nowhere is this more evident that in Ditto.”
“Ditto may have begun life as a side effect of attempts to clone Mew, but it’s ability to assume the form of any Pokemon it encounters by simply re-arranging its’ own genes has led us to this,” he said as the video clip changed to one of a featureless pink blob in a tank. “This is what we call a Ditto protoform. It is merely a collection of cells that can be stimulated to assume the form of any Pokemon. By providing the right stimuli, we can cause it to assume that of a hybrid species strong enough to challenge Team Nova. Allow me to demonstrate.”
The audience watched as Dr. Mendel pulled a Pokeball out of his pocket and released its occupant. The familiar red materialization field solidified into yet another hybrid, this one bearing traits of a Jolteon and Arcanine. The hybrid had the powerful build of an Arcanine, but the tufts of fur around its legs and neck had the spiky appearance of a Jolteon’s. The fur shifted colors midway down the body, from orange to yellow, and the striping patterns now resembled bolts of lightning. Additionally, the ears were somewhat larger, resembling one of the many hallmarks of an Eevee-lution.
“This particular specimen, which we at the lab have named Mr. Cuddles, is quite docile, as you can see. He follows all my commands,” which Dr. Mendel then punctuated by whistling, causing Mr. Cuddles to stand on his hind legs and beg. “and is eminently trainable in combat.”
Rather than offer a live demonstration, Dr. Mendel turned back to the television, which began playing a live feed from some sort of combat simulator, in which Mr. Cuddles was busy destroying the training drones, as well as the battlefield. No doubt at the behest of Dr. Mendel or one of his subordinates. The sheer amount of firepower that Mr. Cuddles (a name that felt more and more ridiculous every time William thought of it) could bring to bear was impressive. The video ended with the hybrid standing victorious atop the smoking ruins of his enemies, and with not a scratch to show for it.
“We can create these hybrids by inserting a properly modified Ditto protoform into the unfertilized ovum of any egg and allow it to mature inside. These hybrids, however, do not emerge into the world in their final forms, but must grow and evolve like all normal Pokemon. It is also possible to successfully fuse Pokemon with radically different types and physiologies. With this new technology, we now have the ability to face Team Nova on their home turf.”
“That still doesn’t explain why you need us to do the fighting for you,” the same voice shouted from the crowd.
“Ah, yes. That would be a question for General Fielding, our military representative. General?”
General Fielding, who had been sitting off to the side, stood and made his way to the podium. He had the look of a well-muscled individual gone slightly to seed, the hard lines of his face mixed with wrinkles and sagging jowls. Still not someone William would have wanted to pick a fight with.
“Thank you Dr. Mendel. To answer your question, you need to understand a few things about the situation that we’re facing. In the last hundred years there have been zero major conflicts that required military intervention. None of the troops under my command have ever fired a shot from their weapons outside the firing range. Even police forces these days have moved on to non-lethal technology to use in conjunction with their Pokemon backup. Our own military works alongside Pokemon as well, but our combat doctrine is not nearly as...flexible as is needed for this situation.
We are dealing with a complete set of unknowns here. We have no idea the true capabilities of hybrid Pokemon, or what types of hybrids Team Nova has created. We know almost nothing about their evolution or behavior outside of one test subject. We don’t even have any idea about their long term health or care. What we do know is that we are running out time. Our experts have determined that if a cure is not found for ‘Pokerus M’ sometime within the next two years that we can expect the total ecological collapse of life on Earth as we know it. We believe that Team Nova is still in possession of the documentation and means to reverse the infection. This is where you come in,” he said, motioning to the crowd.
“Despite their rhetoric and advanced technology, Team Nova has a surprising fondness for, shall we say, ‘old school’ thinking. In both Kanto and Johto they have secured the local Gyms to act as consolidation points for their control of the region. Our intel suggests that they actually seek out other trainers to fight them and their Pokemon, and that it may be possible to oust the local leaders of the organization through combat.
While military forces would be well suited for open combat, we believe that engaging in such an activity will create unnecessary casualties in the populace. Even equipped with guns the average infantry soldier will eventually run out of ammunition due to what are likely to be near constant attacks from Pokerus infectees and Team Nova hybrids. Whereas small, independently mobile strike teams may be able to generate more favorable results. Non-military trainers are also typically known for their outside the box thinking in combat situations and may be more adaptive to these unknown threats.
For those of you who wish to continue working with us and don’t scrub out during training, you will be given full intelligence support from the UDF and your own hybrid Pokemon to work with. You will be covertly inserted behind enemy lines and from there attempt to stop Team Nova’s coup forces by any means necessary. Are there any questions?”
The room was silent for a few moments before William stood up. All eyes turned to face as he faced General Fielding.
“Just one. When do we start?”
-Peter Venkman, Ghostbusters-
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