Back when Red was attending school, he read a history book that included scans of a preserved journal from some pre-pokeball trainer recounting their experience of riding a pokemon for the first time. It was a ponyta, and she talked about the sense of power beneath her, the unpredictability even after hundreds of hours of training. The ponyta seemed calm and compliant enough at first, until something spooked her, or some instinct took over, and suddenly the trainer was being carried far away from her home, further in a few minutes than she could walk in an hour, hanging on for dear life and, as she wrote later, wondering if she should jump off and possibly injure herself and lose her mount into the wilds, or keep trying to get the ponyta under control.
Riding Charizard for the first time had felt a little like that, though his pokemon was relatively tame compared to most thanks to Red’s powers. Still, there was that feeling as they soared through the air, that occasional tug as his predator instincts noticed some wild pidgey in the distance, or a herd of miltank below them, followed by the tension for a surge of wild speed… one that never came, thanks to the pokeball’s conditioning keeping Charizard’s urges in check. Keeping Red in control.
It’s an analogy that he wishes he’d come up with before Leaf asked him how life has been for him, because Red doesn’t feel in control, and hasn’t for months. But on the plus side, he has a feeling he’ll get to use the analogy anyway, if someone asks him how it felt to discover the secret lab beneath the mansion.
“If this is for real, then CoRRNet has to be informed.” Ranger Neasman is staring down into the open elevator shaft. They dropped a lightstick in after Red’s machamp forced the doors open to reveal about twenty meters of space and a pile of stone and dirt burying the elevator car.
“I get that,” Leaf says. “Really, I do, but… if they find out first, and someone in the chain of command is compromised—”
“The League, then,” Blue is leaning against the wall, arms crossed. “This is Blaine’s territory, so we’d need to go over his head for a full investigation in case he’s in on it.”
“CoRRNet is neutral,” Wendy says. “If the League comes in and doesn’t find anything, how would we know if they’re not just covering something up?”
“If we’re going to anyone, it has to be Interpol,” Leaf’s voice is firm, but Red can tell she’s trying to sound more confident than she is. “If the League sanctioned research that would create a pokemon threat to other regions, Indigo could be seen as a Renegade nation.”
“Is that actually possible?” Wendy asks. “Everyone’s doing unown research, and no one knows how dangerous that could be.”
Ranger Neasman shakes his head. “They’re not deliberately trying to create powerful pokemon. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least if someone pulls it off and lands their region in a diplomatic incident.
“And it depends how much of the League is involved,” Blue says, jaw set. “Whoever isn’t would need to rise up together, or else Leaf’s right. Which I think they would, for the record. No way people wouldn’t riot against something like this.”
“That’s only if we can provide at least some proof of it,” Leaf insists. “Which right now we can’t.”
Red listens to them argue, hand stroking Pikachu’s back where he lays in Red’s lap. Over the past couple months he’s used the danger projection technique Koichi inspired and the resources he’s been given by the local and international police departments to evolve all his pokemon… all except for Pikachu. He could have ordered the right food from Alola to prepare the electric mouse for his psychic evolution, which would make them an even more effective team… but he still hasn’t done it.
He thought about it, of course, noticed the knot of tension in his chest each time he considered it, and set aside some time to use Focusing to figure out what the aversion was; he likes his pokemon better as a pikachu than he would as a raichu, even an Alolan raichu. He likes having him lay in his lap, like he’s doing now, or ride on his shoulder. If he evolves, he wouldn’t be able to do either, and he’d just become… another weapon.
That’s what it feels like all his pokemon have become, over the past two months. Not travel companions, not research assistants, not even tools to help guard civilization against the ever encroaching wilds. Today was the first time he fought any wild pokemon since before the Silph attack; since then, Looker and Tsunemori made it clear that Rocket is the most valuable thing for him to focus on.
It’s important work. He knows that. But at the end of the day, he’s still killing people, even if the actual killing is usually done through their own pokemon rather than his, and he doesn’t want Pikachu to be a part of that.
The sentimentality would have interested his younger self. He still remembers sitting at the diner table on that first night of his journey, scribbling in his notebook about what causes attachment between trainers and pokemon. If he had these feelings then, he would have poked at them, tried putting them into words, maybe even tested them.
For now, he’s content to just let them be.
His head rises to see everyone staring at him. “Sorry, what…?”
“How do you think Interpol will react?” Leaf asks.
It takes him a moment to reboot his thoughts, focus on the conversation that he’d been half listening to. Red has no idea how Interpol would react, but… “You said we can’t prove anything, but our situation is even worse. Looker might not need proof if we have reasonable conjecture, but we barely have that.” A psychic could be used to confirm evidence that can’t be reproduced, or at least confirm that someone is being honest in claiming to have seen or heard what they believed to be evidence, but they don’t even have that. “What do we actually know? A half-demolished, isolated, abandoned manor has a basement. Someone who gave you notes for your story has clearly been to this place, or one very like it.”
Red holds a hand up, nodding. “I know, just… think about it from an outside view, right? What’s more probable, that a conspiracy of dozens of people created a human/pokemon hybrid, and kept it secret for years, or that a researcher with a good imagination drew inspiration from places they’ve been? Even if there is a lab under us, there may not be any evidence that it was doing anything illegal, or that anything else from the story is true. For whatever it’s worth, my bet was on a lab where secret experimental, but still human, psychic research was being done.” Mostly because of what he learned from Sabrina. “So long as we don’t have evidence of the super-psychic hybrid, let alone any evidence that ties all this back to Rocket or renegade activity in general, Looker might put an agent or two on this but he’s not going to divert any significant time or resources to it.”
There’s silence for a moment, until Leaf says, “So it sounds like we’ll have time to do our own investigation, as I’ve been saying.”
“All respect, Miss Juniper, you’re no officer of the law. None of us are, except possibly Red.” Ranger Neasman frowns at him, though not in an unfriendly way. “What is your remit, exactly? My assumption was to treat you like a hunter, so without evidence of renegade activity, or a warrant…”
“I don’t have jurisdiction to investigate private property,” Red confirms. “And without any sign of a ditto nest or other ecological risk…”
Neasman nods. “We’re out of bounds too.”
The silence returns, and Red watches Leaf’s mouth twist as she starts pacing, gaze occasionally moving to the open elevator doors.
It’s clear to Red that she’s trying to have it both ways, wanting this to be important enough that they investigate it despite the legal gray area, but not so immediately and obviously important that they’re compelled to call in any potentially compromised authorities. Even if she decides to give up now and sneak back here without the rangers, she’ll be on the clock if word gets out… and maybe even in danger.
His stomach twists at the thought, and he takes a deep breath as he brings his attention back to the current problem. Given the lack of anything concrete, it may be possible to talk the rangers around to not reporting what they found. But if he knows Leaf she’s going to do something reckless, like concede and then sneak back here to investigate on her own if she has to.
Focus on practicalities first. “If the entire lab is buried, what’s our hypothetical plan to learn anything more on our own?” he asks. “I doubt we have the pokemon to excavate enough of it.” And it would be extremely dangerous. He resists the urge to say it because he knows it’s not necessary to, but also because he doesn’t want to come off as more afraid than he is, particularly with Blue here. Not that he’s unafraid, but so long as they’re careful, there may be safe ways to explore.
She bites her lower lip. “I was thinking… if we go in sideways, we might be able to reach the lab from some nearby slope without much risk. It might take a day or two of digging, but we can buy pokemon for it, and use containers to hide the displaced earth.”
“Excavating tunnels isn’t just about making a line between two points,” Wendy says. “Depending on the type of rock and soil here, we’d probably need to put in braces, inject shotcrete, hang mesh… all while warding off wilds that might break whatever we put in.”
“But… ” Leaf rubs her forehead as she processes this, then looks up at Wendy. “You know how to do all that, right? It’s part of your spec?”
“Uh, some.” The normally confident girl seems suddenly less sure in the face of Leaf’s stubborn hope. “It’s one of my specs, but… I’m just a cadet, I’ve only done it as part of a team of others before.”
“It’s not one of mine,” Ranger Neasman says. “We’ve got a few teams on the island who can do it, but it won’t be quiet.”
Leaf visibly deflates, and Red feels a sinking sensation as it becomes clear that their options are dwindling, that this is yet another thing that’s going to race ahead of their control. He knows that sense of control is often an illusion—even if they could somehow have controlled everything they got involved with from the start of their journey, the world would have still thrown them curveball after curveball, and just imagining having tried to manage it all feels exhausting.
But letting other people dictate what happens feels even worse, suddenly. For the past two months he’s done his best to devote himself to what felt necessary: stopping Rocket, and showing the world that they could feel safe with him (and psychics in general) in positions of power, rather than afraid.
But that has meant largely trusting Director Tsunemori and Special Administrator Looker to tell him what needed doing, and various others to train him in how.
Of course, not all of it has been a total burden. He had some input, unique insights into his capabilities and ideas about how they might best be used. The part of him that found enjoyment in pokemon battles, in the sense of solving a puzzle, of pitting his creativity against not just a natural challenge but an opposing creative mind, and figuring out how to win… it kept him from detaching completely from his day to day, or sinking too deep into depression between the bouts of learning, training, and combat.
Today felt like the first time he really shook that off, somewhat. A little from visiting the fossil lab, a little from spending time with his friends again… but mostly from Leaf’s revelation, a mix of her contagious intrigue and his own bewildered curiosity.
And when that was at risk, when it felt like he might be denied the ability to keep looking into things…
It felt good to stand up to Officer Jenson. Red was glad when the lanky hunter volunteered to be part of Red’s guards after the Silph attack; the difference in treatment from someone who had seen him in action was obvious, and the others picked up on it pretty quickly. But despite the sense of general respect, Jenson was still his senior in every way that mattered, and that meant that Red mostly deferred to him.
It felt good to buck that thought process. It felt good to assert himself more, and take more agency over his life.
When did he give that agency up? He has power, he knows that. Unique power, power that means he could be making suggestions and setting expectations. He hasn’t spoken to Blue or Leaf about his situation, but he knows they would push him to use his power more. When did he decide that not using it was an automatic necessity of becoming a weapon against Rocket?
The answer is obvious, once he considers it. It was baked into the sense of fear he had going into all this, the desperate urge to prove himself trustworthy, safe…
The thought sparks something, some deep and subtle anger, though he can’t tell if it’s with himself or others. Either way, he can’t let himself go back, tempting as it is to avoid the conflicts that his gut is clenching just thinking about.
“I think our best bet is to bring Looker in,” Red says, feeling the words out as he speaks them. “If I tell him about this directly, explain our worries… I might be able to convince him to take it seriously, and if he does take it seriously, I won’t have to convince him to keep it close to the vest.”
The sudden hope on Leaf’s face is immediately gratifying, mixed as the hope is with her own obvious worries. “And if you don’t convince him? Would he be as careful then?”
“I think so.” Red hesitates. “He does paranoia pretty well.”
Leaf paces the hall a couple more times, then sighs and comes to a stop beside Ranger Neasman. “Would you be willing to hold off on informing CoRRNet until we have actual evidence of the hybrid?”
The ranger scratches his chin, glancing at Wendy. “S’pose. Verres is right that we’ve got nothing solid yet. Guess that means you wouldn’t tell the League either?”
They all turn to Blue, who’s leaning against the wall, arms crossed, fingers drumming against one bicep. His gaze flicks to each of them, then shifts between Leaf and Red. “I want to know if Blaine is part of this. Cinnabar is his, but the League can still get involved if there’s reason to. Everyone’s got a close relationship with at least one Leader, and if I get Gramps involved…”
“But that can wait, right?” Leaf asks. “For after we learn more, have some hard evidence that can’t be suppressed.”
Blue stares at her, and Red feels a knot of tension in his stomach. He’s not sure what Blue is thinking, and the reflex for a shallow scan is only restrained from long practice (not that it would work anyway, without Miracle Eye). “Yeah,” Blue says after a minute. “It can wait.”
It seems like something passed between them, some silent conversation sparked by context he doesn’t have, but Red more easily resists the urge to check Leaf’s mood, trusting they would tell him if it’s something he needs to know. Instead he gently urges Pikachu off his lap, then stands and withdraws him. “Okay. I guess I’m off to do that, then.”
“We need to sweep the rest of the potential ditto nests anyway,” Ranger Neasman says. “Assuming you’re still willing to join us for that?”
“Oh,” Leaf says, and looks like she’s about to say something further before she straightens. “Yes, of course.”
The rangers lead the way out, and Blue follows last, hands in his pockets and gaze down. Red wants to talk to Leaf, try and give her some reassurance, but he can’t easily recall having seen Blue like this before, and slows his steps to walk beside his friend. “You alright?”
“Fine.” Red only has a few steps to wonder if he should press the question before Blue asks, “Do you really think that thing, the hybrid, if it’s real, isn’t a threat?”
Red blinks. “I didn’t say that. I mean, it might be a threat. But… well, for one thing, it’s also probably the thing that’s warning everyone about the unown.”
Blue turns to stare at him, then looks away when Red winces from the light of the headlamp. “What do you mean?” Leaf has also slowed down to walk beside them.
He’s skirting close to a secret that’s not quite his to share, but… “Just something I thought, before I took Leaf’s story as seriously. That an unknown psychic power, or a psychic that’s unusually strong in projection range and detail, could be responsible for the messages, which would explain why it only hits one city at a time.”
“You still haven’t gotten the dream, right?” Leaf asks.
“No, and now that they’ve stopped I doubt I ever will.” He shrugs, trying to hide his disappointment. “I’d like to talk to them, of course, figure out why they’re doing it. But whether they’re human or not, it seems a sign of good intentions, or at least non-hostility, that they’d want to warn us about a thing like that.”
Blue doesn’t respond to that, and soon they’re out in the sunlight again. Red takes off his helmet, glad for the breeze on his sweaty forehead, and messages Jenson, Haruto, Teri, and Claude to let them know they can stop guarding the perimeter before he calls Looker, who picks up on the second ring.
“What’s wrong?” He knows Red wouldn’t be calling for something minor, though this is only the third time he’s done it without messaging first.
“We need to talk, private.” Red tries to ignore the way everyone’s watching him. “Are you free now?”
“Now?” The word comes out tense, and Red realizes he’s probably freaking Looker out. Well, probably not, he’s not sure Looker can get freaked out, but he’s probably making his paranoia stronger than usual.
“As soon as you can spare a few minutes,” Red says, trying to sound relaxed. The hunters start to arrive, each within a few seconds of each other, then begin dismounting when Red says, “I’m porting over, can wait by your office.”
“Alright. Ten minutes.”
Looker ends the call without saying goodbye, as usual, and Red turns to his friends. “I’ll let you know how it goes. Be careful exploring the island.”
They exchange hugs, and after confirming that his guards are ready, Red and the hunters are on the roof of Interpol’s Indigo headquarters.
Red’s whole body shivers as he takes his first breath of the thin, cold air of the mountains between Kanto and Johto, gaze drawn as always to the closest slopes leading down toward Pewter City. Mount Silver looms above them, one of the few peaks higher than the one they’re nestled between, and Red takes a minute to think through his plan and pass some berries over his shoulder to his abra before raising his mental shields and heading for the doorway into the building.
His guards break off to the various forms of rest, though Jenson stays with him as he makes his way through the metal halls toward Looker’s office. The building was rapidly constructed in the space of a couple weeks, and it’s only now starting to have some more homely touches inserted, a potted plant here, a warm rug there. The rest is industrial style walls and lighting, and it’ll take a lot more plants and rugs to make Red feel less claustrophobic while he’s here.
He finds the Special Administrator’s office and the two wait in silence for a few minutes for Looker to arrive. Jenson doesn’t ask what Red and the others discovered, and Red doesn’t volunteer the info. For all that, the silence feels comfortable, and Red takes a moment to appreciate the hunter’s professionalism before deciding to just say that.
“Thanks. For earlier.”
His guard blinks at him, then shrugs. “Sure. We’re meant to keep you safe, not run your life. Sorry if we’re too pushy, sometimes.”
“Yeah. I get it.”
Jenson nods, and they return to silence. Still, Red feels a bit lighter. Maybe all this would be easier than he thought.
Looker arrives a minute or two later, and nods to Jenson before carefully examining his office door, then unlocking it and going inside. Red follows while Jenson stays in the hall, and closes the door behind him before he steps aside as Looker gives his office the full sweep, checking for anything from traps to bugs.
Finally he loops back to and leans against the door, arms crossed. “Tell me.”
So Red tells him, starting with the suspicions he had months ago about the secret psychic research (leaving Sabrina out of it for now) and summarizing Leaf’s story before describing the events of the day. Halfway through Looker held a hand up to pause Red while he took out a phone and messaged someone, then moved away from the door to sit at his desk and gestured Red to continue. By the time Red is describing the contents of Leaf’s story Looker is up from the desk again and pacing the room, and he continues to do so after Red finishes with the discovery of the elevators.
Looker strides the length of his office twice more before turning to Red, brow raised. “And then?”
“That’s it, Sir. The rangers brought up the question of jurisdiction, and there’s the practical difficulties in delving underground given the damage—”
“That’s it?” Looker repeats, frowning now. “I almost came in here saying ‘someone better be dead or dying,’ but I didn’t want to discourage you if it was still important. This isn’t important. It’s nothing. Why am I here?”
“Because it may be nothing, or it may be the biggest break in the case we’ve had yet.” Not to mention a potential massive scientific discovery, or discovery-of-discovery, or discovery-of-breakthrough, or… something.
“I see the connections. Secret underground labs, conspiratorial pokemon research, organized renegade coverups. It makes a great story, but I’ve got enough of those things I know are real to investigate, and I don’t need to chase phantoms to hit paydirt. I’ll put someone on it—”
“That’s not good enough.”
Looker had just started to reach for the doorknob, and turns back. “Excuse me?”
“It’s not enough.” Red reminds himself that Looker needs him, that the whole region does. Maybe even the world, though that thought feels uncomfortable, and like a stretch. “This is big, Sir. Possibly as big as what led to the Hoenn Incident. If it wasn’t for the risk of collaborators I’d be going to the Tsunemori about it, not to mention the League. Even CoRRNet should be in the know, but if any group is compromised then it’s the rangers on the island.
Looker watches him a moment, then shakes his head. “Get Juniper to reveal her source, and I can have some guys dig around for how credible the story is. Or hell, get someone credible to confirm that the source is worth listening to, and I’ll bump it up the priority queue. But every agent I put on this is one I’m taking away from predicting an attack or finding an active base, and I expect the place you found to be scrubbed clean of anything actionable.”
“Even if it was destroyed by the quakes?”
Looker frowns at that, then begins pacing again, and Red wonders if a conversation between Leaf and him would have the two arguing while pacing around each other in a circle. He remembers having that feeling of needing to burn energy while thinking through things, but it’s been a while, for him.
“To be clear,” Looker says without stopping. “What happens if I say no, this isn’t worth more, and putting a couple people on it will have to be good enough?”
Red swallows, and takes a breath. This is it. The moment he decides whether he’s going to defer to Looker, or act independently.
Part of him thinks his position is too weak to make a stand like this. That he should wait until it’s something he really strongly believes in, or has strong evidence for, so that it’s more obviously worth the cost.
But he trusts Leaf, and he trusts his read of Sabrina, and whether he’s vindicated or not, he’s afraid that if he chooses not to push things here he’ll end up going back to the way he was before. He feels alive, nervous but present in a way that he doesn’t want to lose.
Red wonders if he should make a copy of the mental state and try using it later if he has to, but the thought reminds him that there may be other mental states he can use now as well. The first one that comes to mind is Blue’s battle calm, which Red has never used in a social situation before. He’s not sure how it would work, but as soon as he tries it, he feels detached from his nervousness, aware of only the goal and the steps between where things are now and where he wants things to be.
It seems like an improvement, and it only takes another few moments to think of his response. “Then I will tell Tsunemori, and hope she takes this more seriously. And if she doesn’t, I’ll have to spend my own time and connections and resources looking into it as best I can, because I think this is as important as anything else I’m doing.”
Looker’s gaze is locked on his, but it isn’t a challenge for Red to hold it, not with the calm around his shoulders like a chilling cloak. Looker would agree, and things would be fine, or he wouldn’t, and Red would have to figure out some new strategy, adapt to the new situation…
“Alright,” Looker says at last as he goes to sit at his desk, then starts typing something. “I’ll put Wanda and Darryl on it—”
Looker stops and squints at Red. “Why not Darryl?”
The words popped out before he could consider them, and Red decides to let the battle calm go, breathing a sigh out along with it. Now that he’s thinking normally again, the delayed surprise and nervousness catches up to him, and it takes a few moments to collect his thoughts. He goes to sit in the chair across from Looker meanwhile, trying not to look too relieved at how things have gone. “He’s… not imaginative. He’s a hard worker, and he’ll put the hours in, but he doesn’t have a passion for it.”
Looker leans back in his seat, still peering at Red like he’s seeing him for the first time. “And you know this because…?” He taps his temple, and Red nods. “Hm. We’ll have to talk about that later. Ichiro?”
Red grimaces. “He’ll hand me 500 pages to sort through myself.”
To his surprise, Looker grins. “True enough. Haven’t had the time to sit him down and talk about discernment. Murphy?”
Red considers his impressions of her. “Second pick. If she was a bit more experienced she might be first.”
“Who is your first, then?”
Looker’s brow rises, and his lips purse. “Huh. Been a while since someone tried to manipulate me with flattery. Guess I come off as too much of a hardass.”
“It’s my honest take.” Looker’s words could have come out harsh or annoyed, but instead the agent just sounded grudgingly thoughtful, and Red relaxes further. “But yeah, kind of.”
Looker was about to start typing again and pauses. “Is that personal opinion, or what you’ve gleaned from others’ thoughts?”
“Both. To be clear, I haven’t gone into anyone’s thoughts, just the usual surface emotions.”
“Most psychics don’t pick up much from that, is what I’ve heard,” Looker comments, more thoughtful than accusatory, and continues on before Red can say anything. “But you’re not most psychics, I know. It’s too bad you’re so recognizable, you’d have made a fantastic spy.”
Red wants to argue, and not just because the thought of being a spy feels almost as aversive as the thing he’s doing now, whatever it is. But he knows Looker is right; the ability to fully inhabit another mental state could also make him a great actor, if he ever decided on that as a career.
He feels a bit like one now, playing a part he’s unsure of. But he’s willing to try the role out, and see how things go.
“So, Murphy is on lead, because I’m too busy, but I’ll give her a full squad.” Looker holds a palm up before Red can say anything. “Don’t push your luck, a squad is all I can spare right now. But I’m open to giving them more if they can find more, and if you can get someone to vouch for Juniper’s story.” He sighs and rubs his eyes. “I’ll probably have to read the damn thing myself, won’t I?”
“I just listen to it at 1.5x speed,” Red offers helpfully.
“Right,” Looker mutters, back to typing the new assignment up. “Any other requests, while you’re making them?”
“No, Sir. That was it.”
“Then go relieve Jenson and report to training, which you were supposed to be at two hours ago. And Red.”
“Yes, Sir?” Red pauses, hand on the doorknob as he meets Looker’s gaze.
“I appreciate what you’re trying here, and I can’t decide if I hope you’re right or wrong just yet, given the implications. But if you are wrong, it’s an update that I expect you to take responsibility for. Understand?”
Red wants to say yes, wants to apologize. He also wants to bring the battle calm back, but he does neither. “I’m… not sure I do, Sir.”
“I’ll put it simply then. Organizations like these use hierarchy because those above are expected to have knowledge and experience those below often don’t. If you want to call some shots here, I expect you to put the work in to climb the ranks. If people got special treatment or privileges in decision-making just based on how powerful they were…”
Red sees it. It’s an implicit criticism of the League system, but Red agrees with that anyway. “I understand.”
“Good.” Looker’s attention is back on his monitor as he types. “Join up, for real, or don’t, but the door’s open, so long as you’re willing to shut some others.”
The group flies around Cinnabar Island in a clockwise sweep, checking one potential ditto nest after another. It’s easy for Blue to keep his head in the game when they’re on the ground, cautiously checking for any signs of ecological disruption or nests of pokemon that are secretly ditto… but in the air, Blue’s thoughts are on the mansion, the notes for Leaf’s story, and the conversation about what might have been created in the underground lab.
“That’s completely different. This hybrid is intelligent, can be reasoned with. Groudon and Kyogre weren’t people.”
Red’s position was predictable, in hindsight. He’s never exactly become deferential toward Leaf, but there was a shift, after the gap in their friendship (or maybe before the cruise convention) where he seemed to agree with Leaf more and more often, particularly about pokemon wellbeing. It normally doesn’t bother Blue, but in this case it chilled his blood to hear how casually they dismissed the implications of a pokemon as powerful as a legendary having human intelligence.
The fight over the masterball is all over the potential consequences of a human with a legendary on their belt. The hybrid, if real, seems obviously worse in every way. At least they could understand a human’s way of thinking, where their loyalties might lie, the strengths of their legendary and the weaknesses of the trainer.
The hybrid would be a mystery on every level. If it’s the one giving everyone the nightmares, it could probably kill them in their sleep if it wanted to. It might even be able to control them, subtly or directly. How would anyone know? How could they fight something like that?
“This hybrid is intelligent, can be reasoned with…”
Blue understands why Red thinks that way. Reasoning through things is how he approaches everything, good and bad. It’s what Red knows.
But Blue knows power. And he knows that any reasoning they might try to do with a super powerful pokemon/human hybrid would be done at a distinct power disadvantage. Maybe it would be “reasonable” and maybe it wouldn’t, but that question is secondary to whether it cares at all about the things they do.
And if it doesn’t, then no amount of reason would stop it from doing what it wants with them.
At the time he hadn’t pushed his point further, not wanting to argue in front of the rangers and, frankly, taken aback by the casual acceptance of such an existential threat. But he’s still reeling at the implications of what Leaf shared with them, even setting aside his friends’ views.
“Next spot is coming up on the left, one minute,” Wendy says, and banks her pidgeot slightly to the left as she begins to descend. Blue adjusts Zephyr’s flightpath to follow, and tries to get his mind back on the task at hand.
Everyone else is quiet as they fly, thoughts probably on similar things. He wants to ask the rangers what they think of the hybrid, but he’s worried about how Leaf would respond, how the conversation might play out, how she might react to his own views… it feels shitty, thinking of her this way, treating her like a potential obstacle, and he wonders, as he guides Zephyr in for a landing, if he’s being too hasty. He should talk to her about it more, give her a chance to explain her perspective more fully… hell, he should probably read her story.
“Those bushes have been stripped bare,” Ira says while they dismount, not bothering to unsaddle and withdraw their fliers. “Recently. Wendy, Leaf, wide search? Hundred meters to start.”
“On it.” Wendy summons a growlithe and starts walking in a curving line, and Leaf follows after bringing out her nidorino.
“Five potential nesting sites I can see,” Ira says to Blue, who nods and summons Maturin to give cover while the ranger sends a rattata through various patches of underbrush, trying to flush out a response from any pokemon that might be inside them. They move slowly, ready for a sudden attack… but they finish clearing the area without incident, and soon after get a message from the girls about a verified vulpix nest nearby.
As they wait for them to return to their mounts, Blue lets his thoughts drift back to what they might find below the mansion as he feeds Zephyr and Crimson. After a minute he casually asks, “What do you think CoRRNet would do, if the hybrid turns out to be real?”
“Real in what way?”
“Alive. Powerful. Intelligent.”
“Hard to say. If it doesn’t attack any humans, or disrupt any ecosystems, my guess is we’d ignore it. Leave it up to the Leagues.” Ira shrugs. “Officially, anyway.”
“Unofficiallyyy…” Ira drags the word out, drawl becoming more deadpan as he rubs his pidgeot’s beak. “Unofficially, every ranger I know would be thinking of how to stop it if we needed to.”
Blue nods, and wonders what Gramps would say. How the various Leaders would react, from Erika on one expected end to Surge on the other. He thought he’d have a hard time rallying the population against the Stormbringers, but only for practical reasons, safety and risk calculations that would always err on the status quo.
He wasn’t preparing to have to win a moral argument against fighting a threat on their level, but Ranger Neasman has reassured him, for now at least, that if he has does have to fight that battle, he wouldn’t be alone.