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MEW-CHILD: Ch.2: Seven and Three

by NonAnalogue

NonAnalogue Mel visits Fuchsia City's annual Venomoth Festival in the hopes that Janine knows something about the Mew-child.
“Melanie! Melanie Cora! Are you ready?”

“Hold on a minute, Ma!” Mel hunched over the hefty reference book in her lap, drawing her legs up onto her chair – the plushest thing in her room – so the book was even closer to her face. Her glasses rested on her forehead, and she squinted at the page. It was a ritual that made sense to nobody but her, but she swore by it when it came to absorbing information. “She’s always in a rush,” she grumbled, her eyes flitting left and right as she scanned the endless paragraphs. “The Venomoth Festival isn’t going anywhere.”

“Point of order, chief,” Repeat said from his spot on a beanbag chair that was, coincidentally, shaped like him. “If you want to get technical, the festival is only for the weekend, so it is going somewhere.”

Mel lifted her head and glowered at him, the effect slightly undercut when she couldn’t quite see him and aimed her stare in the wrong direction. “I didn’t want to get technical, but thanks anyway.”

“Why not take a little bit of time to relax?” Repeat continued. “Go to the festival. Take a breather. It’s been a week since we brought the Magby back, and you’ve done nothing but pore over book after book on legendary Pokemon. I think it’s making you cranky.”

“I am not cranky,” Mel said, icicles hanging from every word. She squared her jaw and slammed the book – The Collected Journals of Septimus Reus, widely accepted to be the first and last word on accidental encounters with mythical beasts – shut. “As it happens, I was thinking of going to the festival anyway.”


“But not because you suggested it. The gym leader will be there. She might know something. Or at least could point us in the right direction.”

“And you think she’s cute.”

“Shut up.”

Mel’s bedroom was the same one that she’d grown up in as a kid. She’d seen dorm rooms that were bigger. A desk and an overpacked bookshelf sat below her bed, the top bunk, with just enough clearance that Mel could read at it without knocking her head. Aside from that, a closet, and an amorphous beanbag chair that never left the corner, all she had was a window that looked out over the front of the building. It was tight in their home for everyone; the bottom floor and basement had been converted into, among other things, a reception area, a play area, and a makeshift mini-hospital, not to mention the pens and shelters in the backyard.

Mel threw open the closet door and dug through the clothes inside, coming out with a light jacket; it was the awkward transitionary period between summer and fall where it would boil during the day only to get a little nippy in the evening. The sun hovered right over the horizon, casting orange light straight into her room. “Are you coming?” she asked.

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world, chief.”

Though it had been created ages ago as a small event to celebrate a Pokemon that made its home in and around Fuchsia City, the Venomoth Festival had ballooned into a weekend-long affair filled with food, souvenirs, carnival games, photo ops, and even a Pokemon battling tournament. The winner of the tournament won the right to an official match against the Fuchsia gym leader without navigating her labyrinthine facility first; more than a few Soul Badge holders had gotten theirs through the festival.

Mel was old enough to remember when the current gym leader, Janine, took over from her father after he was promoted up to the Elite Four. Janine had been young when she assumed the role – she and Mel were only a year or two apart, and were passingly acquainted with each other thanks to their families’ respective roles in the community – but in the decade-plus since then, she’d blossomed into a gym leader that challengers feared even more than the psychic Sabrina.

Janine’s star Pokemon, though, was still Venomoth. Mel figured some things would never change.

“Your technique is good, but it’s not quite enough! Venomoth, let’s finish this! Bug Buzz!”

A harsh, grating whine reverberated out from the makeshift arena that had been constructed in the center of the festival, and most of the audience covered their ears. Mel was among the few that didn’t; she’d been exposed to the noise enough that it barely registered anymore. Janine crouched on one side of the stage, her fingers pressed together in an enigmatic gesture; she was dressed in her full ninja garb, just as she was any time she was in public in any sort of official capacity. The challenger, an insect researcher who’d traveled to the festival from Johto, groaned as he saw his Leavanny collapse to the ground. It wasn’t an official League match – only an exhibition – but Mel knew that Janine still had pulled no punches.

“Wasn’t that amazing, folks?” the announcer cried, climbing up onto the stage to lift Janine’s hand into the air. “That’s our gym leader for you! Remember, if you saw that match and thought to yourself, ‘I want to get beat by her too,’ there’s still time to sign up for the tournament! The opening match is tomorrow! The winner could find themselves in possession of a Soul Badge… if they can get past the poisonous ninja master, Janine!”

Applause echoed through the festival as Janine descended from the stage. Mel stretched and rose from her chair, pausing a moment so Repeat could climb up to her shoulder, and followed Janine away from the main festival venue. “Hey, Janine, wait up!” she called.

Janine stopped and turned her head, a smile spreading across her face as recognition sunk in. “Hey, hey, hey, if it isn’t Melanie Rylan! It’s been forever! Since, what, we did that commercial for the shelter together, right?” She let out a peal of laughter and held her forehead. “What a train wreck that was! Hey, at least we both looked pretty cool for it, right?” Happiness and nostalgia welled up from Janine’s mind; as far back as Mel could remember, Janine’s emotions were always pretty obvious to read.

Memories surfaced in Mel’s head of the two of them dressed in identical ninja outfits. They were both sized for Janine, so Mel had looked rather unfortunately like she’d grown out of hers. Even so, Mel did have to admit to herself that she hadn’t looked too bad otherwise, though Janine wore it much better. “Can’t argue there,” Mel said, offering up an altogether more hesitant laugh. “Look, do you have a second?”

“For you? Of course! What’s going on?”

Mel braced herself. There wasn’t going to be a way to explain that didn’t sound childish at best and delusional at worst. “Do you, uh, know anything about the Mew-child?”

To Mel’s surprise, Janine didn’t immediately laugh it off. “The Mew-child?” Janine repeated, her hand on her chin. “Hm… I mean, my dad told me stories about it when I was little. Why do you ask?”

“Oh, uh…” Nobody in town knows I’m a psychic, and I’m going to keep it that way. “I saw some guys over by the power plant a little while ago. Weird dudes in robes. They were going on about how they were trying to find it. So I thought I’d do a little research on my end, you know?” Mel shifted Repeat to her arms and gave him a pat to head off the smart response that she could feel coming.

“Sure, sure. Hm.” Janine looked up to the sky, where the stars, faintly visible over the city’s light pollution, were twinkling gently. She snapped her fingers. “I may not know anything about it myself, but I know someone who would. He knows anything and everything related to mythology. Professor Silktree’s his name. He’s the one who founded the research center in the Ruins of Alph out in Johto. Word from my dad is that he’s down in the Sevii Islands right now, though, so if you could catch a boat headed that way…”

“…I could maybe run into him,” Mel finished. “Huh. That just might work. Thanks for the idea.”

Janine beamed, flashing a radiant smile. “No problem! Let me know how it goes, huh? I’m curious now!” She elbowed Mel in the side. “Plus, if you need someone with some strength on your side, you know who to call. After all, you just got your Ditto here, right?”

Repeat narrowed his eyes and muttered something under his breath that Mel was thankful Janine couldn’t understand. “We’re plenty capable,” Mel said with an artificial grin, rubbing the top of Repeat’s head-analogue a little harder. “In fact, I—”

“Wait.” Janine put a hand up.


“Do you hear that?”

“Hear what?” Mel asked, but then she listened a little harder. It was subtle at first, but once she realized what it was, it sent ice down her spine and a matching spike into her mind. Coming from the direction of the festival, she could hear people… screaming.

“Let’s go,” Janine said, breaking into a sprint.

The makeshift stage had been crushed. No great loss, Mel figured, since it was mostly just planks lined up on top of cinderblocks; she was more concerned about the craft that had descended on top of it. It looked like its engineer had been inspired in equal parts by submarines and hovercrafts – a gleaming metal tube, almost an egg, large enough for maybe ten people, with turbines on either side and blacked-out windows encircling the whole thing. The ship hadn’t actually touched the stage, but the sheer force of the air blasting from the turbines, swiveled to point downwards, had flattened the wood and the brick as surely as if a Snorlax had slept there.

Mel’s breath caught in her throat as she tried to process what she was seeing. Almost as alarming as the craft itself was the noise it was making – or rather, the absence thereof. Even though it was hovering in the air only a few feet off the ground, it was barely making a whisper. How is it doing that? she thought.

None of the fairgoers were around, Mel could tell that much. The screams and the pangs of fear had all faded into the distance. The police would be there soon.

The turbines slowed. The ship alit on the ground.

Neither Mel, nor Repeat, nor Janine moved, their eyes all locked in place.

An outline of a rectangle appeared in the side of the tube. A door. With a pneumatic hiss, it slid open.

Two figures stepped out. While they diverged in build and size – one was short and lean, the other large and imposing – they both dressed identically, in matching slate-gray uniforms of shapeless shirts and pants. They both wore messenger caps pulled low to obscure their eyes, bandannas over the bottom half of their faces, and darker gunmetal gray gloves. The only embellishment on either of them was a single letter, blood red, over their hearts.

Mel gasped, and she heard Janine do the same. Any Kantonian would know what that letter meant.

They both bore a red ‘R’.

Janine’s adrenaline seeped in at the edges of Mel’s mind. Mel herself could feel her fingertips buzzing as the blood began pumping faster. The two Rockets hadn’t moved yet – they stood in place, staring. She focused her senses on them, trying to pry loose what was emanating from their heads, but…

“What?” Mel croaked.

There was nothing there. No emotions, no feelings, nothing coming from the Rockets. Mel had seen people who’d built heavy psychological walls, keeping anything from getting out, but this was well beyond that. The two Rockets had… nothing.

It felt like an eternity since the figures had stepped down from the craft, even though Mel knew it had only been a matter of seconds. A voice, filtered through layers of electronic interference, spilled out of whatever receivers the Rockets were wearing. “No.7, No.3, confirm status.”

The shorter Rocket lifted her wrist closer to her mouth and slid the sleeve up, revealing a simple gray wristband with a small transceiver on it. “No.3. On location. Aerial sweeps conducted. Primary objective not met. Cannot confirm presence of Mew offspring. Does not seem to be here.”

Mew offspring… Mel thought. They’re after the Mew-child, too?

“No.7,” said the larger Rocket into her own wrist receiver. “The only presence here is JN-Beta. Gym leader. Plus irrelevant civilian and Pokemon.”

“Hey!” Mel and Repeat growled in tandem. “Irrelevant?!”

No.7 continued as if Mel hadn’t said anything. “Secondary objective still possible.”

“Do it,” squawked the presence on the other end of the radio. “Detain JN-Beta.”

The two Rockets took a synchronized step towards Mel and Janine. Mel took a step back to run, but felt Janine’s hand on her shoulder. When she turned to look, Janine drew a circle in the air, a clock, in what Mel understood to be shorthand for ‘buy some time’, winked, then… disappeared entirely, in a cloud of smoke.

“Guess the ninja outfit’s not for nothing,” Repeat muttered.

Without saying a word to each other, No.7 and No.3 diverged; No.3 sped away from the ship back towards the city proper before Mel could get in front of her. No.7 blocked her path instead and held up a hand that was, itself, larger than Mel’s head. “Civilian,” No. 7 droned, “we do not wish to cause unnecessary harm at this juncture. Stand down, or I will use force.”

“‘Stand down or I will use force,’” Mel repeated in a nasal twang. “Who do you think you’re kidding? You’re Rockets. Everyone knows about you. You live for nothing but unnecessary harm.”

No.7 shook her head. “Negative. We are not Rockets. Team Rocket is disbanded. We are Neo Rocket.”

“Is that… functionally different?” Mel asked, unable to stop herself.

Repeat, still in her arms, smacked the back of her hand. “She’s distracting you, Mel! They’re trying to buy time too! Get out of here!”

“No!” Mel growled. “There’s only two of them. Janine’s gonna handle the shrimp, and we’re not about to let her down. You and I, we’re gonna stop this guy in his tracks. Then we’ll be able to hand them over to the police. Better than just letting them go!” She spread her arms, letting Repeat jump to the ground. He knew the drill, even if he didn’t like it. “Let’s go, Repeat! Do your thing!”

A click cut through the still air like a knife. No.7 held in her hand a Pokeball, a type Mel didn’t immediately recognize – it was as gray as their clothes, with a single stripe of darker gray perpendicular to the divide between the two halves. The click was No.7 tapping the button on the front with her thumb, and in a flash of light – also, somehow, gray – a silhouette appeared in front of her. It was even taller than she was, and more than twice as wide; as it faded into view, Mel recognized the massive hands, the thick legs, the skirt-like protrusions around its waist – a Hariyama.

Repeat slid his eyes towards Mel, panic evident even in his minimalist face. “Uh, boss,” he started.

“Repeat. Transform. We got this,” said Mel.

“If you say so,” Repeat said under his breath. He closed his eyes and began shifting his form, bulking out—

—until the Hariyama slammed a palm bigger than he was into his face, and by extension the rest of him all at once.

This was bad enough, but it happened a second time.

And a third.

And a fourth, and a fifth.

Repeat fell over backwards, resembling nothing quite so much as a puddle of jelly.

Mel couldn’t will her limbs to move. All she could muster was to stare, open-mouthed, at the unconscious Repeat and the monster of a Pokemon standing over him.

The Hariyama disappeared back into its Pokeball, which hadn’t even had time to leave No.7’s hand. No.7 lifted her other arm up and spoke into the transceiver. “No.7. Civilian dealt with.”

“No.3. Forwarding you coordinates. Bring ship. Have detained JN-Beta. Secondary objective completed successfully.”

As No.7 climbed into the craft, Mel knelt on the ground, gently stroking Repeat. The words had gone into her ears, but she couldn’t reconcile them with the thoughts that were bouncing around her head. They… detained JN-Beta? But that’s… Janine. How did… how did Janine lose?

How did
we lose?

What’s going to happen?

The airship lifted off the ground with the susurrus of its engines.

Mel watched it go.
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