Pokédex, Entry #150: Mewtwo
"A Pokémon created by recombining Mew’s genes. It’s said to have the most savage heart among Pokémon."
"Judgment says more about the labeler than the labeled."
~Connor Franta, A Work in Progress
In a motel room near Mt. Silver, Ash has his hand over his mouth as he watches the news coming from Ryme City. On nearly every channel are live broadcasts of Mewtwo hurtling through the sky, their hands and eyes engulfed in a meteoric purple glow and their lips curled back in a leering snarl. They seem to be on a mindless rampage, their long-tailed, feline body whipping through the air like a weaponized bolt of lightning, causing windows all around them to explode in fireworks of broken glass and entire chunks of buildings to collapse in floods of jagged concrete and fire. The city is full of screams.
In complete opposition to everything Ash knows about his friend's hard-earned nature as a pacifist, Mewtwo is using his psychic powers to destroy seemingly everything within immediate reach, the blunt tips of each three-fingered hand swinging around to catastrophically direct psionic energy against anyone and anything that gets in their way. To make matters worse, every other Pokémon the news cameras have been showing in Ryme City is also using their abilities to rain destruction on their surroundings, as though a mass hysteria has compromised them all. Though Ash can only guess, he is pretty sure the purple smog coming out of the parade balloons Mewtwo is tearing through has something to do with that.
A camera's perspective from behind the broken windows of an office building reveals Mewtwo loudly shouting at a small Pikachu that is jumping from rooftop to rooftop in pursuit, and it is this fact that gets Ash to truly start rushing to pack an old, faded green backpack to travel with. He knows Mewtwo is only comfortable when able to directly control the limits of who can hear and even see them, preferring to speak through psychic powers instead of with a physical voice, so the fact that Mewtwo is speaking in a way that can be recorded by technology means that something vital has been stripped from their self-control. There's no way Mewtwo could ever feel safe being this loudly and publicly exposed.
Ash gets a video call on his Pokégear just as he's zipping up his backpack and scampering for the door, Charizard's Pokéball chirping as it expands in his hand, ready to be opened. On the wriststrap it's mounted on, his Pokégear's screen flickers once before showing Misty's face, slightly too close to the camera. Were the screen any bigger, he'd be able to see the light smile lines that have begun to shade the edges of her eyes in the two decades since he first met her. As it is, all he can see is that her orange hair has gotten longer and is now pulled into a hasty, messy side ponytail.
"Ash!" she yells, and the rapidly jolting scenery behind her reveals that wherever she is, she is running, too, "tell me you know what's happening!"
"I've seen it, Misty! I'm on my way to Ryme City now. Maybe I can find a way to help Mewtwo — "
He is interrupted as Pikachu, who is still sitting on the corner of the bed in Ash's motel room, abruptly squeals. When Ash spins around in the open doorway to see what's caused Pikachu's distress, he watches on the still-playing TV as Mewtwo's body — now completely slack and vulnerable, eyes closed, pointed facedown and clearly unconscious — plummets from at least thirty stories above the ground, an unsurvivable height to fall from. Forgetting Misty's visual presence on his wrist and aware the friend he wants to help is about to die before his eyes, Ash clamps both hands over his mouth to smother an involuntary scream.
With only seconds to spare, the broadcast abruptly cuts out to avoid showing the inevitable conclusion of Mewtwo crashing to their death on the sidewalk. As though falling with them, Ash's knees hit the carpeted floor of his motel room, his eyes squeezed shut and still screaming into his palms, which are now both shaking. He didn't see the actual moment of his friend's death, but they must have died — they must have!
It takes a few seconds for the panicked rushing in Ash's ears to recede, replaced by a gasping sound he realizes is his own accelerated breathing, joined by a concerned whuff of hot air as Charizard — who was released when Ash dropped their Pokéball — nuzzles his ear in worry. Looking down through vision that has blurred from an onslaught of tears, Ash finds Pikachu standing on his lap, tiny paws holding both sides of Ash's face and crying out for his attention. With a shaking hand, Ash pets Pikachu's head while tilting his other hand to look at Misty, who he realizes on a delay has been yelling his name through the screen of his Pokégear.
"M-Misty, I just saw—" he swallows a painful lump in his throat, "Mewtwo fell from the sky!" His heart is beating so wildly that it would scare him if he could focus on it. "They were unconscious! We... we're too late..."
Misty stops running now, a tree behind her proving this by appearing suddenly motionless. Tears spring into her eyes, and her jaw tightens in pain. "Please, no..." she whispers, and then covers her face with her free hand. He can hear her struggling not to cry.
Using Charizard's arm for support, Ash shakily stands from the floor. As he does so, Pikachu climbs up his arm to curl around the back of his neck, mewling sadly. On the TV now, the news broadcast is only static, until replaced a moment later by a plain, colorless image of the news station's name and trademark symbol.
"I heard their voice," Ash whispers, his mouth dry and his hands cold from the shock of sudden loss. "It wasn't in anybody's head. It couldn't have been Mewtwo's fault. There's… there's no way Mewtwo would... would ever... but... but they're going to be blamed for this anyway."
Through Ash's Pokégear, Misty chokes out a mournful sound that is almost a word, but not quite. Lowering her hand from her face, she licks her lips and tries again, saying, "They're — whatever happened, we should — we should still go. We're some of the only people who knew Mewtwo at all, and, and, people listen to us. Maybe we could try to —"
The TV across the room flickers, changing from the motionless image of the news station's name and symbol to a ground level view of Ryme City, still smoking from the damage it has accrued. Misty keeps talking through Ash's Pokégear, but once again Ash can barely hear her. Numbly, Ash pushes away from Charizard and heads closer to the TV, his heartbeat thudding in his ears.
The returning live broadcast is shaky and unfocused, the camera operator apparently struggling to zoom in to what they are seeing, as though they are having trouble remembering how to use their hands. After some stumbling readjustments, the camera operator has stabilized just enough to see how, a great distance away, a tiny, purple speck is hovering a few meters above the ground. Ash's arms rush with the tingle of goosebumps, and he swears he can smell the smoke filling the screen, toxic and burning in his lungs.
One more focus adjustment reveals a few pixels more of what seems to be a slim body, floating in quiet tension. There is at least one more figure standing on the ground below who is looking up at the pixelated, slim purple body without any trace of fear, both of them way too far away to be heard. Perhaps it's only experience that lets Ash realize the two points atop the head of the figure on the ground are the ears of a Pikachu, and then to recognize the flick of floating, dark purple pixels above them as the uneasy motion of a long tail.
Ash's heart tumbles into his stomach on a wave of relief and confusion as the few visible, blurry pixels of the floating figure rise higher into the air. As they do, electrical distortion surges across the live broadcast's already-fuzzy video feed, only to clear as the figure zooms away.
As the figure recedes from view on the TV, Ash gasps from a flash of pain between his ears, a bladed agony of something wedging against his scalp and shooting needles into his brain, invasive and pressuring his own mind into a quieter state. It's like there's metal clamped around his head, and he feels he must seek a way to be free of this. The lightning bolt of a headache is joined by distorted, visual flashes of a city seen from the clouds above it. Alarmed at this sight that is not his own, Ash braces his hands on the edges of the bed, trying to ground himself.
I should have known, a soft thought, like the whisper of a ghost, trickles into Ash's consciousness. The dizzy pressure and the acidic scent of smoke fade away, but in their place, Ash is left with an echo of fear and pain so profound it makes his lungs ache when he tries to breathe. He no longer sees the city from above, but knows he was glimpsing a flight path to escape.
"Mewtwo," Ash whispers, mostly to himself. Becoming aware again of Misty's voice, begging him to answer her, Ash says, "Misty, listen, I think Mewtwo actually made it! They had to. I... I can sense it... somehow."
"Ash," Misty says, her voice very, very quiet over Ash's Pokégear, yet building in insistency with every word, "You said they fell."
Ash realizes Misty might not be in front of a TV like he is, so he swallows back the echo of someone else's pain, as well as his own, and he reports, "I can't explain it, but the news showed a figure, too far away to really see, and it... it flew away. Like Mewtwo would. And when it did, I started feeling... a weird kind of pressure."
"A weird pressure?" Misty somehow managed to sound both relieved and alarmed at the same time. "Ash, what do you mean? Are you okay?"
"I don't know," Ash shakes his head, as if to clear it, "but I've got a really bad feeling Mewtwo's doing worse than I am." Still trying to sort out what's going on in his head, he watches the live TV broadcast, which now seems devoid of obvious direction, simply a camera sweeping across sights of people and Pokémon helping each other up from the ground and aready starting to clear up debris. "And... and the other Pokémon in Ryme City seem like they've stopped fighting, too. It's — it's calmer there now. Something changed. I don't know what."
"Ash," Misty says, quietly, "Mewtwo wouldn't have done this for no reason. I guess... maybe that reason stopped?"
"What if it happens again?" Upon feeling an additional, overwhelming flood of despair and isolation that seems to come from nowhere, Ash pulls Pikachu off of his lap and into a tight hug, needing the comfort. Taking a calming breath, he tries to focus on the feeling of Pikachu nuzzling his cheek and continues, "How soon do you think you can get to Ryme City?"
Misty seems to gather her thoughts, calculating, then says, "Maybe tomorrow afternoon? But I think Brock's closer. I know he's coming, too. I already talked to him. He's bringing medical supplies."
Ash is so grateful that Brock persued his dream of becoming a Pokémon Doctor, knowing that he's become a very good one. If medical care ends up being needed, he's doubtful Mewtwo would ever willfully go to a Pokécenter, no matter how badly injured they might be. Ash feels that unnerving surge of someone else's isolation building again in him, and he blurts out, "I know it's a bad situation, but... I'm really glad you're here, Misty. Thanks for calling."
Misty's expression softens, maybe noticing Ash's distress even through a tiny little screen. "It'll be okay. Our friend's still alive, and that's a good start. We'll figure it out, just like we always have."
"Yeah, I know we will. We have to." Scratching Pikachu's chin for comfort, he watches as the TV switches from a live feed of Ryme City to a replay of what has been happening, with a reporter's voiceover that sounds like they have no new information at all, just regurgitating a summary of what Ash has already seen. Maybe later there will be more to find out, but for now, there's nothing to gain from watching this.
This time, Ash remembers to turn off the TV as he leaves the room to meet up with Charizard, who is too big to comfortably fit indoors, and so has been standing with just their head ducking into the doorway. Climbing up with Pikachu onto Charizard's back, Ash says to Misty, "I'll meet you guys at the Pokécenter."
"If you get there first, don't wait for me — just, if you think you can, let Nurse Joy know where you're going so that we can follow?" Misty sucks in a breath, then looks to the side, as though deciding what path she's going to take next. Mournfully, she sighs, "Oh, Ash... Mewtwo's already been through so much. Now this? I hope they'll be okay."
"Well, even if they're not, they'll still have us." Distracted by the occasional flash of sky imagery through his mind, Ash has given up on keeping eye contact with Misty, but she doesn't seem bothered by it, so long as she can still hear him. "That's something, right?"
Softly, Misty says, "There's really no way to guess what's needed until we're there... We still don't even know what really happened."
As Charizard steps into the parking lot to find a clear space to takeoff from, Ash wonders what kinds of horrors could force Mewtwo away from a peaceful, secluded existence and into a berserker, very public and seemingly out of control, violent rampage. Worse, a few of the possibilities Ash is imagining start to seem unnervingly specific, triggering ghostly sensations of pain across his skin: tight feelings like restraints, sharp feelings like needles, and a couple things that feel far, far worse.
The terror that accompanies those thoughts is enough to make breathing more difficult, and so Ash hunches over to hold onto the sides of Charizard's neck more carefully, in case he stops being able to concentrate enough later to do so. On his shoulder, Pikachu makes a worried sound, which Ash tries to soothe away with a gentle shushing noise. Pikachu does not seem convinced, but seems to realize it's not the right time to push the issue.
"Hey, Misty?" Ash says, "I'll contact you when I'm close to Ryme City, okay?" On Misty's answering nod and request for Ash to be careful, Ash says the same to her, ends the call, and then takes a deep, painful breath of the chilled mountain air around him.
Deep between Ash's lungs, a flickering, savage fear has begun to beat in tune with Ash's heart, and he feels the echoey panic of one word — unsafe — claw repeatedly at his insides, as clear and present a presence as Pikachu is on his shoulder and Charizard is under his hands.
If this is Mewtwo's doing, Ash wonders if Mewtwo even knows it's happening, or if they're too hurt to be able to fully stem what they're projecting outwards. None of these feelings seem conversational in the way Mewtwo's voice when psychically projected would be, only emotionally and physically overwhelming beyond the ability to fully contain. It's possible Ash is simply having trouble keeping up with his own emotions, but... as these feelings of imagined horrors ghost over his skin in little flickers of pain, entrapment, or worse, Ash is becoming increasingly unconvinced of this.
Below him, Charizard whuffs out a firey breath of concern, to which Ash pats the leathery orange skin of their shoulder and answers by simply saying, "Hey, buddy, can you please make sure I don't fall off while you're flying?"
If this request from someone who's been riding on their back through times of flight for nearly two decades alarms Charizard, they don't show it. They only charge forward, gathering power to accelerate into a strong takeoff.
With Ash supporting Pikachu over his shoulder through the initial jolt of Charizard taking flight into the air, they become skybound together, heading into the clouds on their way to try to find and help a friend in grave need.