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Nigel Birch settles into his office chair, wiping sweat from his brow. It's been a hot one today under the Hoenn sun, and helping his aides with a young Magby in the middle of a temper tantrum certainly didn't help things.

The regional professor ignores the stack of paperwork on his desk and jiggles the mouse of his computer, waking the machine up. Just as he does so, he sees that there is a new email waiting in his inbox.

New mail from: lhenson

"Ha, it's about time." Birch grins and opens the email, finding several audio and document files attached. He clicks on the first audio log and leans back into his chair.

"Log seventeen, day seventy."

"The last few days have been a whirlwind of ups and downs. Just as you wanted, professor, I spoke to that therapist, Mable, yesterday. She's good at what she does. I won't go into detail because I know that's not what these logs are for, but I think things will work out with her help… Thank you for pushing me, Nigel. I don't think I would have voluntarily gone myself."

There's a pause in the recording, followed by a sigh.

"The most important bit I think is… my Corvisquire ran away."

Nigel blinks. 'What?'

"I came clean about everything to my pokemon sans Shinx. Grovyle accepted what I said and swore to take the secrets to his grave. I'm still thanking my lucky stars for that. Corvisquire eventually followed suit, saying he would keep everything to himself as well. He even gave me permission to give him a proper physical so long as it was just he and I in a secluded location. Why he wanted this, I can make several guesses, many too ghastly to say. I know I shouldn't be assuming the worst, but…"

"After making it to Mauville, he and I went out into the woods for his physical and he took off without any warning. I figured that he was simply scouting the area to make sure there were no prying eyes, but seconds turned to minutes and minutes turned to hours, and he was nowhere to be found."

"I've… I've contacted the Rangers and put up a notice online to try and find him, but Corvi is smart. He won't be found unless he wants to be found. I don't really understand it. I'm sure he knows that he only needs to ask, and I would release him. He was approaching evolution, only weeks away. Is that why? Were we only a means to an end?"

Nigel pauses the recording. In the faint reflection of his computer monitor, he can see that his own face is troubled. A pokemon that knows is loose. A pokemon intelligent and determined enough to find a way to communicate one-to-one with humans should he wish.

Before going any further, Nigel writes a reminder on a sticky note in all capital letters and sticks it to his desk phone.


Note written, he returns back to his computer.

"Grovyle and Vulpix netted us a win against Wattson. His Jolteon, a beautiful example of her species, was obviously on her way to her elder years, but she put up a monstrous fight. Jolteon was by far the fastest combatant we've ever had to face, beating out the Absol we faced in Dewford. Not only was she fast, but she could also turn on a dime as well, instantly halting her momentum and then accelerating back to top speed in a single step. I can't imagine the sort of strain it must've put on her ankles. If not for one of Grovyle's new moves, Seed Blast, injuring one of her legs, I think we would've been up shit creek."

"I… may have lost my temper slightly when Wattson pulled a Baton Pass trick with Jolteon, swapping in his Magneton, who then got the Agility stat-boost Jolteon cast a moment ago. Magneton took out Grovyle, and it stung. I sent Vulpix in and we wasted no time pulling out all the stops. After two or three Flamethrower attacks, Magneton was down for the count. Even with an injured leg, however, Jolteon proved to be just a little too fast to nail, so I pulled out another trick."

"I fueled Vulpix's attack with my own stamina."

Nigel sighs and leans back into his cozy office chair, becoming resigned to the fact that every time he views these logs from his lab trainer, there's going to be something worthy of a migraine.

"The little connection between Vulpix and I, I seized it and pulled it deeper within myself, deeper than it's ever been before. I can't accurately describe the sensation of doing so, as I think there just aren't words for it, but I took that little psychic line from Vulpix and jacked it directly into my own stamina. The resulting flamethrower was unreal. It was more like an orange-white beam than a stream of flames, and it was so fast that Jolteon was taken out before she could dodge, winning the challenge and landing us a Dynamo badge."

"It felt like I'd run a marathon in the span of two seconds after that little stunt. The sensation was so strange, as every part of me was equally tired, not just my arms or legs. Vulpix was furious that I took the risk, but after the day we had, I wasn't about to leave the gym empty-handed."

"I have more, but to be perfectly honest, I'm exhausted. I'm recording this in the bathroom of our hotel room in the middle of the night so I don't disturb Brendan or the pokemon. Lee, out."

"Log eighteen, day seventy-three."

"I meant to put this out on day seventy-one, but I was knee-deep in research, perhaps to distract myself."

"Anyway, onto my team. Shinx weighs a little more every day, and for that, I'm so thankful. She's also growing up as well as out, which is precisely what I wanted in this critical stage of her development. With any luck, she'll be healthy and of normal size by the time her evolution rolls around, however long it takes. For now, her formula mix remains unchanged since it's doing exactly what I intended."

"I've continued with the various corrective measures I mentioned in my last log, including helping Shinx stretch her limbs and massaging various muscle groups, but it looks like I won't have to do that for much longer. She's graduated from stumbling around it to being able to sprint like a professional runner even if it leaves her tuckered out. Her playfulness is an encouraging sign and I've been taking the time between work and training to play with her when I can."

"Her milk teeth are growing in, so she's been eager to gnaw anything and everything. Although this has resulted in some hotel chair legs being chewed up, I'm still happy to see it as he gives me a roadmap for weaning her off of her bottle. As the teeth continue growing in, I'll be monitoring her to determine a proper path going forward. The weaning process will likely begin in the next few weeks."

"Finally, I've begun testing her electrical output. Shinx is slowly beginning to grasp English, and being the smart girl she is, quickly learned how to output electricity on command. Her total output at the time of this recording is a few notches below a stun gun. Startling and rather painful, but nothing that would incapacitate someone let alone another pokemon. Her battling days, assuming she wants to battle, are still some weeks if not months off."

"Not much to say regarding Grovyle. He's pushing himself as hard as he ever was and continues to grow at a prodigious rate. His strength, speed, stamina, control, and sheer instinct for combat are rising with no ceiling in sight."

"He's mastered his two new moves, Seed Sniper and Seed Blast, to such an incredible extent that I felt confident enough to present them to Sliph Co. as demo material for TMs. I'll be sure to include notes on his moves along with other conceptual techniques with these logs. Anyway, he wowed the demo team and I think we've cinched it. Call me greedy, but I'm going to try and wheedle out a bit more payment from Silph for the TMs should they take it. I think the hard work of my pokemon deserves a proper payment. Just 4% before the patenting fees? Kiss my ass."

"Vulpix is in much the same boat as Grovyle. She's growing at a steady rate. Her pyrokinesis is growing more and more complex and I don't think it will be much longer before some of the more outlandish techniques still in the conceptual phase for her begin to become a reality. Physically, her growth is slowly beginning to plateau. I'm certain it's of no fault of her own, but rather she's just beginning to approach the physical limits of her small body. Not to say that she is a pushover by any means. As I noted in some previous logs, she's strong enough to pull me right off of my feet and she can probably drag me as dead weight without much of an issue. This is a very rough guesstimate so they don't have the appropriate tools on hand, but I wouldn't be surprised if she could drag a thousand plus pounds of dead weight."

"On the more mental side of things, her telepathy is now to a level that's rather clear. I haven't any idea if this is proficiency in identifying underlying emotions on my end, but the 'tone' in her 'words' is getting easier to identify without her having to manually include a burst of emotion. Something curious I've noted is how her clarity increases the closer in proximity our heads are. If she's sitting on my shoulder with our heads almost touching, she is clear enough that I need only a moment to decipher the garbled parts of what she is trying to say. If she's on the other side of the room, then her meaning is a bit more unclear."

"After a bit of testing, I can safely conclude that the range and clarity of the telepathy are dependent on distance and materials between her and I. Telepathic communication across a field of say, fifty feet, is easier than telepathy through a several-inch-thick stone wall with only twenty or so feet of total distance. This leads me to believe that this psychic connection does exist in the physical plane rather than somewhere more esoteric. I'll have to research that a little bit more."

"That's about it for this one. Lee, out."

"Log nineteen, day eighty."

"I met with Mable again a few days ago. My last session with her was… Emotionally charged, to say the least. I poured a lot of things out, and she offered advice. This time it was much more sedate. She said not to let unpleasant times control me, and I'm doing my best to follow that advice. Corvisquire… He's still not back, and as I expected, no one has seen hide nor hair of him. Rather than focus on him, I've been trying my best to put my time towards the things that are productive. Brendan and Zinnia have been helpful in that regard. Ah, I didn't mention it in my last log, but I did tell both of them that I am seeing an expert. I didn't mention any sensitive details, just that I've been going through some things."

"At first, I didn't want to burden Brendan with the knowledge that an adult in his life is mentally unwell, but now I don't regret it. I have to say, Nigel, you really hit a homerun with a son like Brendan. He doesn't pry, he doesn't joke, he just supports. He's definitely more emotionally mature than I was at twelve years old. If I ever have kids, I hope they turn out like him."

A smile warms the face of Professor Birch.

"Zinnia and I still butt heads every so often, and I think that we're always going to. It's just part of who she is to be abrasive, but she's been very understanding regarding this situation so far. I can't help but get the feeling that she and I are more alike than expected, even if our pasts are so different. I'm curious, but she ceased digging into my past after I revealed it was sensitive and I'll extend the same courtesy to her."

"There have been no significant breakthroughs with my team, it's just been business as usual. Train, rest, play. We've been in Mauville a bit longer than usual waiting for… Well, I think you know what we are waiting for, but so far nothing. I think we'll be moving on before long. In this lull, I've been taking the time to research a couple of various projects and whatnot."

"I've modified the diets of my team a bit. While the general mixture is much the same, I've taken to adding paper-thin slices of Sitrus Berry to each meal. Thankfully, it looks like the enzymes in the berry responsible for their absolutely miraculous cellular rejuvenation don't degrade when mixed with other food. I still maintain that these berries are some sort of literal godsend, Nigel. I wasn't joking when I said Oran would be a miracle food back home. Now, Sitrus? People would start wars over Sitrus, and I can say that with zero exaggeration."

"Either way, I'm using these properties to encourage rapid rejuvenation of muscle fibers and bones damaged during training for enhanced natural growth. If the few studies I was able to find on the subject are correct, then Sitrus should also facilitate the repair of damaged neural synapses and encourage the formation of new synapses in response to new skills and experiences. Sitrus is commonly seen as a restorative simply because of how rapid the effects of eating a single fruit are, so this approach should promote an even, gradual release of the super enzyme in my team. I'm hoping that by playing a long, conservative game here while my team are still in their formative years, we can min-max and push the ceiling of their powers to the highest that can be reasonably attained."

"That's not a bad idea at all…" Birch murmurs, rubbing his chin. "Huh. That gives me an idea for a study of my own. Now, where to find places with pokemon around natural Sitrus groves? I might have to see about a permit to enter a reserve."

"I've also taken the time to meditate on what exactly I'm wanting to do after this run of the Hoenn gym circuit. The Rustboro Trainer School accepted me into their university-level courses and I'll begin my attendance next year. There, I plan on majoring in either pokemon nutrition or psychology. After that, I'll probably take up a position with the League, buy a house with a plot of land for my pokemon, and who knows from there? Hard to say. None of this is set in concrete yet, so maybe I'll take a different major or go on another journey. I heard Sinnoh in winter is beautiful, and although I'm getting used to the tropical weather of Hoenn, life in the U.S. north-east made me accustomed to mild weather year-round."

"Now that I think about it, maybe I'll take nutrition or psychology as a minor study rather than a major. I've been digging deep into the topic of Infinity Energy here recently."

The Hoenn Professor leans forward.

"I'm not sure if RTS offers any courses relating to Infinity Energy, but the more I learn the more fascinated I become. I guess Devon Corp coined the term, but it's also known as aura in some small religious circles and just pokemon 'lifeforce' or 'stamina' to the layperson, aka the fuel for pokemon moves."

"In my efforts to build a diverse arsenal of moves for my team, I keep having to research different ways for pokemon to build and mold different types of Type Energy, and all the sources I keep finding can't seem to agree on how Type Energy, or TE is generated. The most common theory seems to be that pokemon generate 'stamina' or Infinity Energy in some sort of poorly understood biological process, then the IE is then consumed by the cells of the pokemon which then spit out Type Energy. At first, I wanted to scoff at this, because every single study explicitly stated that the Infinity Energy is consumed and destroyed in its entirety by the cells of the pokemon, then the overblown mitochondria of the pokemon produce the TE."

"Then I remembered pokeballs."

"So obviously you know how pokeballs have been used for centuries, right? To the average person, it just looks like the pokemon shrinks and is sucked inside the ball, and they really don't give it any more thought than that. They really don't need to if it works, right? Professor Laventon, a Galarian researcher known for his work in Sinnoh well over a century ago, accidentally perpetuated that myth. To me, though, that makes no sense. Where does the extra mass of the pokemon go if that is the case? Why doesn't a pokeball containing a Wailord weigh countless tons?"

"How early apricorn pokeballs, which for all intents and purposes were colorful coconuts, accomplished the absolutely mind-bending feat of converting matter to energy, and vice versa, I have no idea. I'm not even going to get into the storage and encoding of information into pure energy. That can wait for another day."

"I guess to people used to living with pokemon, that's kind of mundane in comparison. To me, though? I… guess I always knew that was the case in a peripheral sort of sense, but seeing one-to-one matter to energy conversion being casually glossed over in official academic texts really just… I don't know. It just messed with me. I could rant and rave about the seemingly inconsistent development of tech over the years, but I'll spare you that."

"Back home, there are a pair of ironclad rules in science. Normally it's laughable to call anything in science 'ironclad', but these rules have stood the test of time. There are some exceptions, but by 'exception', I mean theoreticals that require the energy output of the sun in order to create a small handful of useful matter. These two rules are known as the law of conservation of mass and law of conservation of energy. I know I'm going on a tangent here, just humor me."

"Both of these rules state that in a closed system, both energy and mass cannot be created or lost, they can only change their respective forms. Pokeballs just laugh in the face of this."

"The conversion of a full flesh and blood creature into a collection of pure massless energy that can be stored inside of a capsule the size of a baseball, only then to be restored back to matter again absolutely would not work in the model of science I was raised on. I did check. The weight of a pokeball doesn't change regardless of the presence of a pokemon inside of it or not."

"Then I ran into a few other things that made me think. According to most official sources, the generation of Type Energy is a process tied to the biology of the pokemon in question. It's dependent on the mitochondria within the cells to create the energy, which then is transformed into the pokemon move. It's again here that we can observe the energy-to-matter effect, as some moves create matter, like Watergun or Rock Tomb."

"Where are you going with this, Lee?" Birch wonders aloud. Nonetheless, he pays rapt attention.

"I'm of the opinion that the generation of TE is not a process locked to biology. It's well-known that a pokemon can learn moves outside of its usual repertoire with the aid of a parent's genes, and this is used to explain why a pokemon might know a move that they shouldn't. I have a theory, though, based on my observations of past studies. All the different sources and reference material I can find regarding Infinity Energy insist that it is, in fact, an energy. What if it's not? In this world, physics allows conversion of energy to matter and vice versa with an efficiency I would normally call impossible, so we already have proof of that, so what if IE is a matter produced by the bodies of pokemon that emulates the nebulous nature of TE? Or what if IE is an undefined substance existing between the states of matter and energy? Shit, anything is possible."

"I began pondering this after realizing that Grovyle shouldn't be able to learn Feint Attack. According to the current model, the Treecko line should have little to no ability to learn Dark moves. They can sometimes learn Pursuit naturally if they have a Dark-Typed grandparent, and a Treecko knowing Crunch as an egg move is rare, but not unheard of, but Feint Attack is not in the roster of even the most trained Sceptile. Yet, Vulpix taught the technique to Grovyle even if it took weeks… None of us even knew that limitation existed. According to the current model, what we did was impossible."

"So, I don't think the generation of Type Energy is constrained by biology at all, and that all TE might be available to any pokemon who learns how to properly shape their IE. I did look at the studies, and while different pokemon of the same type share genetic markers indicating a predisposition for a move type in the mitochondria of their cells, I think this has resulted in a false correlation and thus the setting of artificial limits on pokemon."

"Again, just a theory of mine, but I'm going to be studying it. I think Infinity Energy itself is not a fuel totally different from TE, but rather the starting state of the TE. Perhaps IE and its relation to TE is more akin to chemistry, where the pokemon induces a purposeful instability in the IE, which is the universal starting point, and the resulting TE is a useful decay product. The TE might even decay further, directed by the pokemon into an excited, volatile state for an energy attack, or converted into mass for a physical one. Considering the TE can end up being either mass or energy, it lends a little bit of credit to IE being it's own 'in between' state, I think. I'm hoping the more I learn of IE, TE, and the relationship between them, the better I can understand things like Vulpix's pyrokinesis and telepathy. Surely she must be creating and manipulating Fire and Psychic TE for both."

"I'm just scratching the surface here, so I don't expect any of this to be right, but I hope it's a step in the right direction. I've already got some tests in mind, but… Man, I know this is going to require a lot of expensive equipment… I'll be researching here and there, but I doubt I'll begin in earnest until I begin university. That's all for this one. Lee, out."

As the last audio file ends, Birch doesn't bother to look at the attached documents right away. Instead, he stands and slowly paces around his office, mind abuzz with the musings of his lab trainer. Mass and energy can be created, it can change shape, and it can be annihilated by both pokemon and modern technology. How strange that on Lee's bizarro earth, some of the tech people enjoy, pokeballs chief among them, just… wouldn't work. The ideas presented in the last log are messy, but novel, and they make a startling amount of sense for being pure speculation.

'Once more, the perspective of an outsider is worth its weight in gold.' Birch bites his lip and glances back to his PC. 'If Lee's theory is even the least bit true… This'll be a massive upset to the scientific community.' The professor sits back down and moves the logs to an encrypted file squirreled away deep in his computer. 'Sense sharing, stamina sharing, missing pokemon, alien theorems on Infinity Energy, this is getting to be too much. These things Lee is getting up to… He's going to cause a paradigm shift before long, and all I can do is hope the world is ready…'