In which Lily never reaches Saffron City and her strange friend reveals more about his circumstances.
Ash and his friends continue their journey. As they pass through a dark and mysterious forest it seems that danger lurks behind every shadow and once again, they've lost their way.
"So now, time for us to play."
Wizard Lenin might have lost his energy to blame anyone and everyone for failing to look at the map, but Ash and Misty hadn't stopped bickering and blaming each other for a moment.
It didn't matter that it had to be well past midnight, that the dense forest overgrowth completely blocked out the night sky, or that they were supposed to have hit Saffron City weeks ago. It didn't matter that Lily was so tired she could barely walk straight, that all she wanted to do was give up for yet another night and make camp already, because now they were close enough they could almost taste it.
Except they couldn't taste it because they were still horribly lost.
Finally, Ash came to a stop. Not at any landmark mind you, a helpful sign, or even a clearing. He just stopped right in the middle of the trail that probably wasn't a trail at all and turned to Misty, "So, this is the way to Saffron City, huh Misty? I knew we never should have listened to you. Now we'll never get out of here!"
Misty, as usual, wasn't having any of that, "As if. Your sense of direction's so bad you can't find yourself in a mirror!"
The irony, of course, being that Misty's sense of direction was equally awful. In fact, the way Lily saw it, all of them had an awful sense of direction that was only aided by their unwillingness to use common routes, inability to use a compass, and constantly putting Ash in charge of leading them thanks to his enthusiasm and inexplicable charisma.
Which meant no one listened to Wizard Lenin's entirely too boring advice of "follow the yellow brick road" and as for Lily, well, she liked to think she didn't really care where she was going. At least, that was her excuse, after a summer on the road she was starting to realize that if she hadn't managed to get them from one town to the next on foot it was probably because her sense of direction was just as bad as Ash's.
Her saving grace was that she could always just teleport if push came to shove.
"Well, you crack mirrors!" Ash shouted back.
It probably was his only reasonable response given that Misty really wasn't too far off the mark with that mirror crack.
"You big baby!" Misty retorted.
This, unfortunately, was also Misty's only reasonable response given her reputation as the ugly Psyduck among her gorgeous older sisters. Sadly, by being less witty than Ash, she automatically lost the bickering match.
"That's enough guys," Brock tried to mediate, "You two don't want to stand here and insult each other like this."
"Yes, we do!"
And then even Brock, who had been walking for days just like the rest of them reached his limit, "Bad enough that we're lost! If I've got to listen to your arguing—"
Which was finally enough to rouse Wizard Lenin out of his bout of depression as his own internal bullshit limit was reached.
The ground beneath Brock, Misty, and Ash's feet suddenly cracked. They stumbled backwards in shock and then in terror as great plumes of fire erupted from the earth, tall enough almost to touch the canopy.
As one, they all turned to look at Lily.
"Hey!" Ash cried out, "What was that for?!"
Lily looked at Wizard Lenin, standing slightly to the side with his eyes closed, clutching his backpack strap with one hand, and rubbing at his temples with the other to ward off a headache.
He didn't say anything, but he didn't have to, even with one pokémon less in his possession and one egg still unhatched his panic, rage, despair, and desperation had only been growing since Maiden's Peak.
To the point where Lily couldn't remember the last time he'd brought up Saffron City, libraries, and the possibility of returning home.
His unhappiness settled around him in the form of an oozing, black, miasma that was visible even in their darkened surroundings. The grass beneath his feet curled inward, withered, and died.
He looked like he was one poorly timed comment away from killing them all.
Lily looked back at the rest of them and offered a truly lame, "I'm tired."
They just blinked at her.
"I'm tired, it's dark, and we all know we're not reaching Saffron City until morning."
Ash opened his mouth, looking offended, and started, "That's not—"
"And even if we do reach Saffron City will anything even be open?" Lily asked.
"The pokémon center's always open," Brock pointed out, "We'll just stay there for the night. You and Ash can battle Sabrina in the morning."
At the sound of yet another pokémon gym match, Pikachu carefully edged away, no doubt remembering the last disaster Ash had almost pulled him into in the name of a sweet gym badge. As usual, with the thought of victory on the horizon, Ash barely noticed his part time pokémon.
Right, Lily was going to have to do something about that, wasn't she?
She'd been trying and failing to put off any big moves until the gym battle, until she figured out what she wanted to do about the whole pokémon situation. That hadn't gone exactly as planned, what with Puerto Vista and then Maiden's Peak, and what time she should have been spending coming up with a plan had been wasted blowing up towns.
Should she get into town, stand on a soap box, and preach? Should she go and earn a gym badge for herself again? Probably, from what everyone had said gym badges equaled respect and certainly weren't a bad thing to have.
But then what about Ash? Did she volunteer to be his pokémon in Pikachu's stead? She couldn't let his pokémon go out there and get beaten to a pulp just for his honor and glory. Except, she had the feeling Ash wouldn't exactly get the point Lily was trying to make.
"Yeah!" Ash said, pumping his fist in the air, his energy instantly renewed with the thought of a gym battle, "She's not going to know what hit her!"
"Well," Brock hedged, looking extremely uncomfortable, "I wouldn't say that. Sabrina's a really strong gym leader and—"
"Huh?" Ash asked, "Stronger than you guys?"
Both Misty and Brock spluttered, flushing violently red with mortification, both refusing to look at any of them directly as they tried to save face.
"I didn't say—"
"No, she's just—"
"Well, I'm typically the first gym leader trainers come across, so I really try not to gate keep and—"
"You're just lucky your starter was an electric type! Water pokémon are very tough and—"
Misty and Brock both looked at each other, then back at Ash, and together they said, "You just got lucky with us and you'd better not count on getting lucky this time!"
"Hey," Ash said, "Luck's got nothing to do with it! I'm going to win a marsh badge, you'll see."
He probably would, somehow. Lily had always bet against him but here he was, three for three, earning a badge by the skin of his teeth every time. Lily had no idea how he'd win this time but somehow, he'd probably manage it with or without her help.
Then both he and Lily would have one more badge, one more sign of authority and respect and…
And something would have to change, wouldn't it?
Lily's thoughts were interrupted by the sound of childish laughter.
Standing at the edge of the tree line was a little girl dressed in white. Despite how dark it was out, she was very clearly visible, almost glowing.
She bounced a pale ball against the earth and yet somehow the motion seemed slow, just as unearthly and unnatural as she was. Her eyes were hidden, cast in shadows, beneath a wide brimmed hat.
Whatever she was, Lily thought as her eyes widened, she wasn't human.
"Uh, hello," Ash called out, "Do you live around here?"
At that, the girl caught her ball, turned on her heel, and took off into the woods. With each step she took a white, ghostly, afterimage seemed to follow her.
"Hey, please don't run away!" Ash cried out as he started running after her, "Wait! We need directions!"
Misty and Brock took after him, desperately trying to catch up as he disappeared into the woods. Pikachu started to run after them only to halt in his tracks as he realized that neither Wizard Lenin, Lily, nor any of the rest of them were following, "Pika?"
Lily's pokémon herd were all looking up at her, waiting to see just what she'd do this time. As usual, it seemed to be that time of the week again, and last time it'd been that time of the week…
Lily stared into the darkness as Brock and Misty faded from view, both shouting for Ash to slow down a second, and finally said, "I have no interest in being a part of the pokémon rendition of The Shining."
Now that the little girl was gone all Lily could think were the words, "Come play with us, Danny, forever and ever."
She looked over at Wizard Lenin, who was still quietly standing on top of dead grass, "You still want to go to Saffron City?"
For a moment he said nothing, just turned to look out where Ash had gone, and finally said, "Saffron City has always been our biggest lead, our only real lead, to finding a way back home. That's worth whatever risks it might bring."
"Even risks like that?" Lily asked.
"Risks like what?" Wizard Lenin asked drily, some of his old cynical bitterness returning to his voice, "Eerie little girls? Frankly, Lily, thanks to you I deal with that on a daily basis."
"It might not really be human," Lily said, "It could be another ghost pokémon. If you'll remember, the last time either of us tangled with one of those we didn't get out unscathed."
That was a wildly ridiculous understatement.
Wizard Lenin gritted his teeth, gripped the straps of the backpack tighter, the most acknowledgement Tom Jr Jr had received in days, "So much the better, then I can light it on fire."
"Dragonite?" Lily asked, turning to look at their blonde companion, "You've been all over the place, right? Do you have any better leads than Saffron City?"
"Leads?" he asked, blinking in confusion, and for a moment Lily was left to wonder if she'd ever explained the situation to him. She thought she had, she must have at some point, but now she honestly couldn't remember.
Between all the pokémon abolition, being a secret pokémon all along, and then the whole egg incident it might have slipped through the cracks.
"Um," Lily said slowly, "Lenin and I are from another dimension and we've been sort of trying to get back since the start of summer… It hasn't been going too well."
Three months on the road had really flown by.
"You want to get to another dimension?" he clarified, only to rub the back of his head as he searched for an answer, "That's powerful stuff, way more powerful than most pokémon can deal with. I certainly can't manage anything like that and I'm more powerful than most. I don't think even many psychic pokémon working together could manage something like that…"
Well that was helpful.
Looking chagrinned, Dragonite added, "I really don't think you're going to find an answer in a human city. I don't know much about psychic humans, but I doubt they're as powerful as a psychic pokémon, and even a psychic pokémon couldn't manage that."
He looked out towards the road, a distant expression in his eyes, "Frankly, if you want to do something like that then you're going to have to look for one of the legendary pokémon."
That wasn't the first time they'd been brought up. Ash had brought them up when they'd first met and asked his opinion. Lily was pretty sure they'd been brought up a few times after that, but it was always an offhand casual mention that a legendary pokémon might be what they were looking for.
Back then, both Lily and Wizard Lenin were wrapping their heads around pokémon period.
"And how do we find one of those?" Wizard Lenin asked.
Dragonite burst into laughter at Wizard Lenin's unintentional joke, "Oh, you don't find them, they find you."
"They find us?" Wizard Lenin repeated dully.
Dragonite just smiled cheerfully, "That's how it works. They wouldn't be legendary if they were easy to find."
He then motioned towards Lily, looking at Wizard Lenin curiously, "But you have a legendary pokémon as a companion already. Why haven't you just asked Lily to tear through dimensions?"
"The fabric of space and time is a fragile thing that I respect," Lily quickly said.
As it was, she'd sort of tried, but she hadn't really tried. She probably could manage it, she'd never failed at something like that before, but there were also sure to be terrible consequences.
"Pikachu?" Pikachu said dully, as if asking 'really?' or 'you don't say?'
"Is your universe still standing or not?" Lily asked in turn, "Sure, I may pull out the big guns a little too often but even I have—"
"Let's just say that Lily may have no limits and because of that there are limitless consequences to her actions," Wizard Lenin said, "I may be desperate, but frankly, I'd rather find assistance from someone who knows what they're doing."
Unspoken was that if Wizard Lenin ever got desperate enough he was willing to risk all of existence for it then he'd ask Lily to just go for it.
Which Lily might have been offended by if she'd been able to remember how they got here in the first place. There was always a nagging, unspoken, suspicion that part of the reason she couldn't get back wasn't just because it was too far but because this place was all that was left of the world they'd left behind.
Like pokémon were her mind's unconscious metaphor for something or they were all Hogwarts students regurgitated by Rabbit.
But Wizard Lenin didn't want to hear that.
Instead he glared at Lily, put his foot down, and announced, "We're going to Saffron City."
Lily just sighed, "Then I guess I'll have to go and get that marsh badge."
And, of course, make sure Ash didn't do something completely stupid and dangerous like all the other times he'd fought in a gym battle.
Oh well, it couldn't be any harder that the last time. So far, for Lily, all of these gym battles had been a cake walk.
She took a step forward, following after Ash and the rest of them, only to stop in her tracks.
"Oh no," she barely heard herself saying, all too focused on the sound of childish, familiar, laughter.
The girl was back with her ball, no longer bouncing it but holding it in her pale hands, looking across at them with that pleasant smile.
Lily tried and failed to smile, pointed ahead, and asked, "Weren't you looking for Ash?"
The girl's giggling stopped, "Don't you want to play with me?"
"No!" Lily said shortly, perhaps a little too shortly, but the girl gave no indication of being offended.
However, she didn't leave either.
Instead, without tilting her head, without making any movement, just standing there smiling like a little doll the girl said, "You aren't like the others."
The others meaning Ash and the rest, Lily was sure.
"No?" Lily said slowly, asking it as a question, wondering if that was supposed to be a good thing or a bad thing.
"You can beat her, but you can't help her, can you?" the girl mused, "If you beat her the way you plan to, by playing with her rules, you'd just upset her even more."
"Do I want to know who 'her' is?" Lily asked carefully but the girl appeared to have no inclination of answering her.
"Work, work, work," the girl mocked, "All work and no fun has made Sabrina a very dull girl."
Sabrina, that was the name of the gym leader, wasn't it? Lily's no good, very bad, feeling just gotten times worse.
The girl's smile became a jagged grin, "So you should just play with me instead, okay?"
Another small giggle and Lily felt the ground beneath her shift, even as she tried to take a step forward reality kept sliding sideways.
Lily could hear Wizard Lenin, Dragonite, and all the rest of the shouting but it grew increasingly distant. The world was growing dark and dim, only the little girl visible, and then she disappeared to.
And all that was left was the laughter.
"And how did the plan to save your coastal city go?"
Lily spluttered into awareness, taking in large shaking breaths, and tried to get her bearings.
The forest had disappeared as had Wizard Lenin, Dragonite, Pikachu, Clefairy, Bulbasaur, and Charmander. The creepy little girl had disappeared too along with her creepy laughter.
Instead, Lily found herself on what looked like the set of a sci fi film that was trying too hard. She was on the dust covered floor of an abandoned laboratory. There were rows and rows of dark computer monitors set into thick desks, every screen dark and more than a few broken. In the front of the room was a large glass tube, large enough to easily fit a grown man, filled with bright blue liquid.
Lily looked to the front, at the chair and terminal closest to blue tube, and found herself looking at a man who felt like he should be familiar. Except, he was certainly distinctive enough that she'd remember meeting someone like him.
"Coastal city?" Lily finally said, only to blanch as she clued in to just what he must have been mentioning, "You mean Pureto Vista? Well, it went, it didn't go so well. Puerto Vista doesn't exist anymore."
The bastard actually had the nerve to laugh at that.
"Hey, if I'd had a few more minutes before Team Rocket showed up then I might have—" she trailed off, feeling that odd sense of déja vu again, and asked, "Do I know you from somewhere?"
His laughter stopped at that and he gave her a far more curious look, "Oh, have you forgotten me already?"
"No, I know I know you from somewhere, I just—"
He seemed to know exactly what she was talking about, nodding to himself as if something had been confirmed, "You're lucid this time."
"Was I not lucid last time?" Lily asked, trying not to let an edge of panic enter her voice at the idea of showing up somewhere 'not lucid'.
He chose not to answer that, instead tilted his head, and noted, "Some upstart sent you here."
Lily decided that it was best to just roll with it and took the seat across from him, "Sure, I guess you could say that."
She wasn't sure she'd call the creepy girl in white an upstart but she had the feeling that even if she were to explain the pale guy would still call her an upstart. He seemed that type.
"Where is here anyway?" Lily asked, glancing around.
"A memory of a place that no longer exists," the man said darkly, glancing at the glowing tube in contempt, "A shadow."
"Well that's helpful," Lily drawled but he only smiled.
"You really do have no idea where you are, do you?" he asked.
She wanted to punch him in his perfect teeth. He seemed to realize her temper was short because he started explaining before she had a chance to ask again.
"I imagine you haven't gone anywhere," the man said, "Or, at least, not as far as you would think."
"Is that supposed to tell me something?"
"It's not about where your body is," the man continued, "But where your mind has wandered. Someone's sent your consciousness away from your body and the physical plane. My guess is that, propelled out of your body against your will, you sought somewhere safe and familiar."
"And this is safe and familiar?" Lily drawled.
"You have nothing to worry about from me," the man said, "After all, in a sense, we're kin."
"Are we?" Lily asked but he refused to elaborate, by the sparkle in his dark eyes he fully intended to keep that to himself.
"Do I even know your name?" Lily asked, "Or have I somehow forgotten that too?"
He scoffed, for the first time looking not simply insulted but even angry, "Names are such human things. The only name those people ever bothered to bestow upon me was a stolen bastardization of something they could not understand. Let us not stoop to names."
"Alright, fine," Lily said in surrender, holding up hear hands in a gesture of peace, "No names then, we don't need names."
Then his words caught up to her, "Wait a minute, you're a pokémon?"
Oh of course he was, she should have guessed by the cryptic conversation and the weird coloring. You'd think it was Lily's first time winding up in dreamland and holding a conversation with a pokémon wearing a human's face.
He frowned slightly, "I'm certainly more a pokémon than I am a man."
"No, I should have known," Lily said as she tried to wrack her brains for who he could possibly be. He was a bit too much of a sickly pale color and purple to be Clefairy but everyone else's coloring she knew wasn't anywhere close to his.
Butterfree had left, was ugly as hell, and a far deeper purple than this guy. So, clearly it wasn't him. She'd met Squirtle in human form and he was a blue-haired brat who liked to think he made a convincing greaser. The rest of Ash's pokémon would probably be varying shades of brown thanks to being giant birds. She'd seen the human form of Misty's water pokémon and the guy clearly wasn't Starmie or Staryu.
She guessed she'd never transformed any of Brock's pokémon into people but she'd always pictured Onyx and Geodude as huge burly guys. Not albino, handsome, dweebs who hung out in lab coats.
"Never mind," Lily chided herself, "You wouldn't happen to know how I can get back to my body, would you?"
The man smiled, stood, and brushed the dust off his coat, "Certainly."
Lily quickly stood, following him as he began to escort her out of the laboratory. He didn't spare his surroundings a second glance as he walked out the door. Lily had a feeling that it wasn't so much because he was used to them or indifferent, but he was putting on a purposeful show to her and himself that he was above this place.
Lily stumbled as they reached the door, just stopping herself from falling backwards. Outside there wasn't anything, no hint of earth or sky, but instead a great black void of nothingness.
"You came a long way," the man explained, "I imagine, for anyone else, they never would have made it this far at all."
"Right," Lily said, "And we just… Cross the bottomless pit?"
He smiled, "The pit, like everything else, is only an illusion. Everything here is in your control."
With a wave of his hand a needle thin bridge appeared over the abyss, arcing to a distant, unseen side.
"Couldn't you have made that a little wider?" Lily asked but it seemed he was too good for that, as without a care in the world, he stepped straight onto the abyss itself.
"Wait!" Lily called after him, sucking in a breath, reminding herself that she was practically a god and could certainly float over a pit, and took off after him.
In a few bounds she caught up to him, huffing as she noticed his small, amused, smile. Well, she was so very glad she was at least entertaining him.
Lily was about to say as much but he cut her off, asking, "Have you found Saffron City yet?"
"Huh?" Lily asked.
"You said you could not come to Viridian City until you found Saffron City."
"I did?" Lily asked, she hadn't remembered that. Except, now that she thought about it, she'd had the weirdest feeling that they should return to Viridian City for weeks now. Which, sure, eventually they'd get there, Viridian City had a gym and both Lily and Ash would want that badge.
"Well," Lily said slowly, "We're probably close to Saffron City. We've certainly been trying to find it…"
Trying and failing, like usual, but he didn't need to know that.
"I think we were right outside the city when this happened," Lily said, motioning to herself, "And it probably has something to do with the gym leader there."
Which meant that, as soon as Lily did find her body again, there'd be no avoiding a showdown with the latest and greatest adventure in weird the universe decided to throw at her.
He frowned, not quite as upset as Lily, but upset enough to look offended on her behalf. Which, that was nice, sometimes with the gang it felt their memories were so short they forgot this weird shit even happened to them.
"And after you finish with this gym leader in Saffron City?" he asked.
"After, I don't know, we go to the next gym, I guess," Lily said.
Sad as it was, that really was the best path forward for her. Gym badges equal authority, equal respect, equal power, equal somebody listening as she said "Maybe we want to lay off the pokémon, guys."
"Come to Viridian City," he said instead.
"Look," Lily said slowly, "I might not have a map in front of me but I'm pretty sure Viridian City isn't right next door."
It took three months to get from Viridian City to Saffron City. They might have gotten hopelessly lost a number of times but Lily had the feeling it'd take them at least as long to backtrack.
"Then teleport," he said without sympathy.
"You people can teleport?" Lily asked, and at his withering glare backtracked, "I just, I mean, I haven't seen anybody teleporting anywhere and I've been all over half the country. I just thought, you know, it wasn't a thing."
"It's a powerful psychic move," he explained shortly, "It's rare."
"Look, I would," Lily said, "I will, it's just… Being in Saffron City, and going to other cities, is kind of important right now. I have to get gym badges."
"So, you can free your brothers?" he asked, "You really expect that to work?"
"It's better than nothing," Lily said, "And certainly better than killing everyone. Nobody's free if everyone's dead."
"Perhaps those who would perish have no right to freedom," he quipped back.
Right, Lily wasn't going to touch that with a ten-foot pole. She'd heard the whole "kill everybody" argument before and it still wasn't appealing.
"Anyway, it's not just about me or what I want," Lily said, "I have this friend, and we're… Not from around here. We've been looking into ways to get home, or my friend has anyway, and he's been hoping that because of psychics Saffron City would be helpful. If it's not, then we're going to have to keep going and we've already been to Viridian City once."
Not to mention Wizard Lenin, wherever he was, was probably digging through as much research as he could about pokémon reproduction, breeding, and just what would come out of that egg and how much time they had left before it hatched. Even if all the cities' libraries didn't have information on dimensional portals, legendary pokémon, or anything like that they probably would on eggs.
"You won't find your answer from humans," the man said.
"Yeah, I've been told that before," Lily said, recently at that, Dragonite had spared no punches and from what Lily understood Dragonite was a very well-traveled and learned dragon.
"Come to Viridian City," the man repeated, "And I may be able to help your friend."
"You can?!" Lily asked, stumbling over the nothingness for a moment in shock, "Why didn't you just say so?"
"You didn't ask," he responded.
"You can really do it, though?" Lily asked, not sure how she felt about that. Everywhere they'd turned, so far, had been a brick wall. Lily had been starting to wonder if they'd ever be able to get home. She knew Wizard Lenin had started to look at training seriously, well, before the whole egg incident.
"I can try," he said, "There are powers in this world far greater, more natural, than mine but I am more likely to find a solution for you than any human or run of the mill pokémon."
Well, wasn't he humble? Lily wanted to point out that she wasn't a run of the mill pokémon either, except that wasn't what he'd said. More, while it didn't seem like they were currently doing much, she had the feeling that even Pikachu wouldn't have been able to help her out in this kind of situation.
Whoever this guy was, he was contacting her all the way from Viridian City, and he wasn't even breaking a sweat.
"I'll have to talk to him," Lily said, thinking of Wizard Lenin.
He'd probably be fine with heading straight to Viridian City if he knew it had a lead. Except he'd probably give her hell over making friends with mysterious pokémon wearing human faces. He'd probably also ask what this guy was getting out of it, which, what was this guy getting out of it? He'd note Lily had no reason to trust this guy, it was probably a trap, and since Lily had revealed herself as a being of enormous power there was certainly reason to trap her somewhere.
Which, Lily supposed he wouldn't be wrong, but she had the feeling she could trust this guy at least somewhat.
And more importantly, if Lily was able to go home right now, what would happen to the pokémon? Lily needed more time and she wasn't sure if Wizard Lenin would leave without her…
"Look," Lily said slowly, "Lenin may want to go home right this second, but I can't, not yet. I have to get at least to the Indigo League and do something about this mess before I disappear into thin air."
Wizard Lenin would kill her if he knew she was keeping something like this from him, but it also wouldn't kill him if he didn't know about it. She could let him know once they got back to Viridian City, pretend she just found out. A couple of months wouldn't kill him, would it?
Well, the egg might hatch in a couple of months, but they'd want to be here for that too. Better here, with resources and information, than in Scotland where the closest local expert was Hagrid.
"It's not your mess to fix," the man pointed out.
"No, but I can't just do nothing," Lily said, "And nobody here seems to be doing anything."
"Yes," the man quietly agreed, looking off into the distance, as if staring at something she couldn't quite see.
She looked at him again, taking in his fine features, and asked, "What are you doing in Viridian City anyway?"
"I am training," he said after a long pause.
"Training?" Lily asked.
"I am honing my powers with the aid of the human gym leader in Viridian City," he continued, his face darkening and tone becoming brittle as he spoke, clearly remembering something unpleasant.
"Huh," Lily said slowly, not sure what else to say to that, and then, "And what would he know about your powers?"
The man frowned, "He has trained many great and powerful pokémon—"
Lily let out a sharp laugh, "Right, sure, I'll bet he has. Forget all that though, what the hell would he know about doing anything you can do? I mean, does he have any powers?"
"He doesn't need powers to know what he's doing," the man argued, looking almost pained as he did so, "He's trained others without them."
"Trained," Lily repeated darkly, the word practically a curse on her tongue, "What does that even mean, train? He puts you in a ring with another pokémon and you go ten rounds? What are you even training for anyway?"
"When I met him I did not know all of my powers," the man said slowly, looking down at his hands as he walked, "I had much to learn about both myself and the world."
Lily didn't exactly like it, certainly didn't like what it implied, but if this guy thought it was worth it then maybe he really was learning something. Maybe the trainer was a bit more like a learned Ash, helping his pokémon grow voluntarily stronger and then sending him on his way.
"What happens when you're finished training?" Lily asked.
"Sure," Lily said, "What do you want to do? What does he want you to do?"
"We haven't discussed it," the man said slowly, a hint of concern beginning to appear in his purple eyes, as if he was beginning to see just what Lily was getting at.
He shook his head minutely, frowning, "It doesn't matter, I have much to learn still."
He glanced down at her, "As do you, I suspect."
"Oh, come on," Lily said, "You're not going to try to convince me to train under this guy, are you?"
"Are you so opposed?"
"It's slavery," Lily said, "I've seen these pokémon trainers and I know that most of them don't go around asking their pokémon if they'd like to beat each other to a pulp today. I'm not about to sign up for that."
And if she did, well, then she hated to say it but she'd pick Ash.
She certainly wasn't going to pick some guy in Viridian City she'd never even met before.
"It's not slavery if you consent to it," the man countered, "You have great power and I suspect that no one has ever taught you how to use it."
Well, people had certainly tried, that was what Hogwarts had been for.
He stopped in his tracks, "I can show you."
"You can show me?" Lily asked, "Oh, when I come to Viridian City. Sure, I guess you can—"
"No," he said quickly, "Now."
"Now?" Lily asked, "Aren't we trying to get me back to my body?"
If Lily was lying comatose on the forest floor, then Wizard Lenin was going to start razing Saffron City. In fact, he was probably trying to murder their gym leader as she spoke. By the time Lily got back, it'd probably already be far too late, and Saffron City would be no more than a pile of ashes.
"Are you in such a rush?"
"Yes, yes I am," Lily said, "Listen, you don't understand, Lenin was right there and he is not going to take this well. In fact, he is going to take this about as badly as possible."
You didn't touch Wizard Lenin's things and get away with it on a good day. This was a Wizard Lenin who had been in a bad mood for weeks thanks to the egg in his backpack. Lily out of commission would be just the excuse he needed to let loose.
"I am sure he'll live," the man responded with a smile, "For someone so critical of humans, you're awfully fond of them."
"I'm not critical of humans," Lily said, "I just think that pokémon battles are evil."
"Come," he commanded, motioning for her to follow as he veered off to the right, "Come see what it is I do and then return to your human companions and find your way back to Viridian City on foot."
"I really don't have time for—" Lily trailed off, he was walking too fast, beginning to fade into the darkness and Lily had to run to catch up with him.
"Shit!" Lily cursed under her breath, sending out a small prayer that Wizard Lenin hadn't done anything monumentally stupid in her absence, and chased after the man.
If she was lucky, she could just ooh and aah over the man lifting weights or something, and then she'd be back in time to earn a marsh badge.
The trouble was, Lily was rarely, if ever, lucky.
Who is this mysterious pale man? Who is his master and what is he training for? Why is he so interested in Lily? Can he really help her and Lenin return home?
Will Lily ever make it back into her own head? Will Lenin destroy Saffron City and its gym leader in a fit of rage?
Will the egg hatch during all this madness? Will Lily be able to achieve world peace before going home? Will Dragonite find his long-lost family? Will Ash manage to earn a marsh badge without Lily's help?
Who was that strange little girl in the opening and what did she think she'd accomplish? Has she not seen how many things Lenin has set on fire?
Only the future will tell us and that's exactly where our heroes are headed.
Author's Note: The Sabrina arc was always my favorite of the original series. Which is sadly why I won't touch it with a ten foot pole, it's too good and too long to ruin with my usual cheap tricks.
We can all just imagine Wizard Lenin asking, "is this it?" to everyone trying and failing to bend spoons, impressing everyone by effortlessly bending spoons, freaking out at overpowered Sabrina, and then battling her in a machismo contest because Wizard Lenin simply must be the best psychic of them all. Also, Sabrina has no means of helping him on his quest to return home and not be a father, therefore she's useless.
Ash, of course, would beg the newly revealed psychic Wizard Lenin to teach him how to be psychic so he can beat Sabrina. Beg for Lily's help, who's too scarred from the Ghastly incident to go near something powerful in hypnosis, and then have to go to Lavender Town to catch a Ghastly for himself. Which of course means that Wizard Lenin will burn Lavender Town to the ground, for all Ghastly must die.
But Sabrina, crazy as she is, knows that Lily would just pound her into the dirt, rather than make her laugh and return her to her previous self, so it's up to Ash and friends to save the day while she takes a nap. We'll catch up with the gang later and see what they get up to.
But hey, plot development instead, that's always good, right?
Thanks to readers and reviewers, reviews are much appreciated.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or Pokémon.