B2 — 31. Hate

PoV:

1:  Rhea (Our Blonde, Awkward Bombshell MC!)

Pokemon Map: 

I loosely follow this map as a visual guide; the creator made it in paint?!?!  It’s insane!  Some errors here and there, but I follow its design for the most part.  Areas can be further apart, some cities are in the wrong places or not listed, and the regions aren’t nearly so close.  The best map I’ve found, though!

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8:56 p.m. July 5, Sunday, 106 PH (Post Hoopa Event)

Events:  The Joint Kanto and Johto Indigo Summer League have concluded; Saria Surge has become the new Vermilion Gym Leader, converting it to a Fairy Gym.  It will be open for challenges on the 10th.

Our girl started her journey on the 9th of June—she’s been a Trainer for 26 Days (25 officially; 26 since getting Maya and Nova).

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Rhea did a slow spin as she surveyed the area her dad teleported them to with Alice; her ice cream-filled stomach was shockingly calm for the intense anxiety she’d felt earlier that day, but she supposed this was just her being numb until the real answers settled in.

The moon overhead lit the rise surprisingly well, with the crashing waves of the evening tide colliding with the rocks below, and the wind was just mild enough not to distract, yet the salted breeze reminded her of home.

A forest descended at a gradual slope behind them, but her father’s gesture to the edge of the cliff pulled her attention away from her surroundings; a smooth, slightly curved, rocky incline for safety and crafted backrest for two, with a full view of the sea.

It seemed as if this isolated spot had been designed for couples to share personal moments together, and she wondered if her parents frequented the spot whenever they went on dates.

Her father leaned over the top of the stone seats, and Rhea had to admire the grass cushioning that appeared to be regularly maintained as she sat beside her uncomfortable mother.

“Mom…”

“Heh… it’s just—you’re not like the Mewtwo experiment,” she whispered, concern in her voice and eyes.  “You’re my daughter—”  she cut off as Rhea leaned over to hug and kiss her cheek.  

“I know, Mom…  I don’t know anything about this Mewtwo thing…  How does it relate to me?”

Christie paused for a moment, mouth half open, causing Rhea to giggle at her mother’s checked-out brain.  “Hehe.  Did I cause an error in your programming?”

“Oh, no—it’s just… oh, uh…  I, uh, I thought…”

Her dad ruffled her mother’s messy blonde hair, mirroring Rhea.  “Haha.  Christie, what did I tell you—you’re so overreacting, but… you’ve opened up the floodgate in doing so.  I don’t think you can close this door.”

Rhea took her mother’s hand to hold in her lap, tracing her veins to distract herself.  “Hehe.  I’m so confused right now…  Were you so worried because of what I said about Mewtwo or that I’m not human?  I’m so lost.”

Her mother closed her eyes and leaned over to rest her head against Rhea’s, a short, pained chuckle shaking her body.  “I’m… so stupid—I’m sorry for being such a hopeless mother…  I thought your text was about you finding out about Mewtwo’s past and connecting that to—haaa…  I should just start at the beginning.”

Linking fingers, Rhea nudged her mom’s head with her own.  “Take a breath and get your head straight.  I just want to know—well, no… I do want to know all the stuff that you did to me.  The evolution stones, and everything else… why you never told me sooner—not that I’m blaming you.”

She swallowed and tightened her grip to emphasize her point.  “I know you probably have your reasons, so… take a breath, and start whenever you’re ready.”

Her dad leaned to the side to hug her with one arm.  “What did we deserve to have such a cool-headed, understanding daughter?”

“Hehe.  Loving me and always listening to me complain,” she responded, pressing her free hand against her dad’s arm to return the gesture.  “I won’t say I’m not scared… even mad, but I just want to know why I’m different—I am, right?”

Her mother tucked her lower lip under and slowly nodded.  “Yes… in some ways, but let me start with Mewtwo since it all starts there.”

“Okay.  Storytime,” she snickered, snuggling closer to her mother.  “I’m guessing talking about this is totally illegal, too.  Hehe.  You should have seen the look on Aunt Cynthia’s face when Ash brought it up.”

A low groan rumbled in her mother’s throat.  “Of course, it would be Ash…  He’s literally incapable of keeping a secret.”

“True,” her father mused, “but name a Trainer who has more connections to Legendary Pokemon?  They trust him for a reason—he’s one of the most pure-hearted Trainers in the world, with an aura to match.”

“Doesn’t excuse all the problems he causes,” her mother grumbled.  “Haaa.  Anyway…”

“Mewtwo?”

“Well… yes, but we need to go back a while to understand where all this begins,” her mother whispered, looking across the brightly lit ocean.  “It all started with a discovery made by the eccentric, bumbling fool… Bill, when investigating ancient Pokemon…

“The egotistical man actually took the door from the ruins he found and tore it apart for answers…  He had the nerve to put it on his lighthouse—an ancient door of some historic Pokémopolis site,” she huffed.  “You have no idea how much the archeological community hates the man, but his contributions to technology offsets all the crimes he tends to commit.”

Rhea chuckled.  “Like turning himself into a Pokemon?”

Her mother clicked her tongue in annoyance.  “A glitch—that should have killed him—but he didn’t ‘turn into a Pokemon’… he fused with a Pokemon, causing all sorts of problems for his Nidoran that Red had to fix, using… yet again, an experimental, extremely dangerous method.”

“I guess he likes to play with fire, huh?”  Rhea mumbled, plucking at her mother’s uncut, slightly overgrown fingernails.

When was the last time she took the time to clean herself up?  Mom…

Her dad plopped down against the side of the rock they were leaning against, crossing his legs beside Rhea.  “You could say that.  Hehe.  There’s a reason he calls himself a Pokemaniac, and… yeah, he’s worked with questionable people to realize his goals over the years.”

“Which,” her mother sighed, “is how he sparked the whole Mewtwo fiasco… by bringing it to someone who would fund his research…  Madame Boss.”

It took a second for Rhea to realize who she was talking about before connecting the dots with her teammate.  “Madame Boss… as in, the original Mob Boss of Team Rocket… Amira’s great-grandma?”

“That’s the one!”  her dad chimed in.  “Real piece of work, that woman—it’s no wonder Giovanni turned out how he did with a mother like her.”

Silence took them for a time as her mother gathered her thoughts again, and Rhea listened to the waves; it made her want to laugh that, somehow, whatever her mother did to her was connected to one of the most infamous villains in history.

“Mmh…  Yes, well, Madame Boss funded an investigation into the mysterious ancient Pokemon, sinking incredible resources into it after everything Bill showed her about the experiments the Pokémopolins performed… which ended in her disappearance.

“Giovanni initially grew curious about the subject because it consumed and took his mother out of his life.  Further investigations of Bill’s findings linked it to Mew and Ditto; it took them to a relatively unexplored and wild region, where they obtained a hair follicle from Mew.”

“Ooh.  That’s huge, right?”  Rhea asked, remembering stories she’d been told as a little girl about the immensely powerful ancestor of Pokemon.

“It was,” her mother solemnly confirmed.  “It was here… that I came into the picture—with Blaine, Fuji, and Hishen… my mentor in biofusion genetics, who was murdered and replaced by Kasa.”

Rhea’s gut tightened, gripping her mother’s hand for support.  “That… took an intense twist.”

“Oh, you have no idea,” her father returned, staring up at the moon.  “Your mother was young and impressionable; don’t judge her too harshly.”

“What do you mean?”

Her mother shifted to Rhea’s lap to look up at the heavens, dotted with bright stars and constellations.  “I was invited by Dr. Hishen onto the project because I discovered a part of the genetic sequencing they were having trouble with in one of his lectures…

“He used his students to try and make headway on what they were missing, and we ate it up.  Hehe.  I was a thrilled teenage girl who had gained the eye of her renowned professor as he brought me into the secret project.

“Naturally, seeing as who my family was, I had to go through some hoops, but… our family wasn’t always so squeaky clean or League related, and there was a lot of corruption back then…  I was brought onto the Mewtwo project.”

After hearing the introduction, Rhea’s eyes widened.  “You… tried to create a Pokemon from Mew?”

“Clone, at first—we were on the cutting edge—breaking new ground every day with Mew’s adaptive genetic code,” her mother muttered.  “I haven’t seen anything like it to this day, yet it was for that very reason all the clones failed and became ditto.”

“Woah!  W-Wait, what!?”  Rhea chuckled.  “Ditto… you created Ditto?”

Her mother’s shining eyes told Rhea she was holding back tears, teeth clamping down on her lip for a moment as she fought to control her emotions.  “The seat of all my crimes…  What you don’t know about your mother is that… I’m not the hero people paint me as…  I wasn’t a spy for the League for… longer than you think.”

Rhea sat back, taking in the admission.  “So… you were a part of the old Rocket?”

“Wooh…”  Her father hissed out a long stream of air.  “Rocket, Plasma, other organizations…  Your mother made a name for herself in the underground for her mind, making her an invaluable asset.”

“I’m not proud of it… especially after reconnecting with your father and having your brother, which…”

“Was when I finally turned her to our side!”  her father snickered.

“Hmm-hmm.  Yeah…  You were my knight in shining armor that didn’t judge me—well, not in a bad way…”

“I was gonna say!  I was on your butt—talks in this very spot,” he commented, bringing Rhea’s focus to the maintained love nest.  “Ironic, since I was a spy myself.”

“Huh?!”  Rhea’s gaze snapped back to her dad.  “For who?”

“Haaa.”  Her mother shook her head against Rhea’s lap.  “Your father brought light back into this black heart to crush it when the Ultra War started.”

“No…”

“Rainbow Rocket,” her dad mumbled, swapping positions to lay beside her to stare up at the twinkling sky.  “I was sent in advance to scout out the field and sabotage everything…  Your brother doesn’t even know this part of our life.”

Rhea nibbled on her lower lip as she processed the information; her parents seemed to give her time as her Pokemon listened, totally lost but wanting to be a part of the important meeting.

It didn’t feel real; her mother was a mad scientist, and her dad was a Rainbow Rocket spy.  Everything she’d known and been told throughout her life collided with the image, yet the puzzle pieces didn’t fit the villainous picture they were painting.

“You’re… not joking?”

A sad smile played at the corner of her dad’s compassionate blue eyes.  “It was war.  You wonder why I never talk about my side of the family or skirt the topic whenever it comes up?  It’s because they’re not on this world, nor would I want you to know them.”

“That’s… a lot,” Rhea mumbled, now realizing why her mother was so terrified to go over all of this.  

It was just like her to overanalyze her text as some passive-aggressive statement and overreact, making her laugh.  “Haha.  Wow… this really doesn’t feel real, Mom, Dad…  I can’t see it.  The only evil I’ve known is your insane workload, Mom!  It’s like… you have some kind of self-hatred… working yourself to death.”

“Not so much anymore,” her mother smiled, drawing around Rhea’s ponytail to play with it.  “The light you and your brother brought back into my light helped me through it, and I don’t know if I would have survived without Sabin when your father betrayed me.”

Again, Rhea couldn’t picture her totally adoring and attentive father in that light; where she’d lacked her mother’s physical presence, she’d had her father’s—only during the Ultra War were there times where he’d been absent—and now things started to make sense.

“So… Dad’s an alien to our planet?”

“I am!  Also… I was a cloning experiment of my mother—our counterpart to Dr. Fuji—who wanted to bring back her son from the dead.”

Rhea choked.  “What?!  You’re… Okay, can we slow down on the Blast Burns?!”

“Sorry!  Sorry!”

Her mother puffed out a long sigh.  “I didn’t want to burden you with all of this, but…  If you’re going to understand what I did, then I believe you need to know the reasons why I did what I did.  I’m sorry, Rhea; I know this can’t be easy to hear.”

Rubbing her forehead, Rhea shook her head.  “It’s not that it’s hard…  It’s just—I don’t know…  It’s like a fantasy—I just can’t put you and the you you’re describing in the same picture.  My dad’s an alien clone—okay… that was sent to our planet to spy on it, and my mom was an evil scientist that did messed-up experiments on Pokemon…”

After a moment’s thought, she grimaced.  “Well… alright, I could picture Mom being a mad scientist, but Dad being an alien clone spy?!  C’mon!”

“Hehe.  Thanks, honey,” her mother forced a laugh, whipping away a tear.  “I know, I’m a liar…  I’d understand completely if you hate me—I was the one who told your father to keep all of this from you—ack.”

Rhea used the back of two fingers to smack her mother’s forehead.  “Shh!  I’m thinking…  I don’t hate you—geez… how could I?!  I’m just… confused and a little blown away.  Ugh…  I’m even more abnormal than I thought.  Who else has a family like ours?  And I know this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

“Unfortunately,” her father returned, reaching over to tap her mother’s forehead in the same place Rhea had.

“Ack…  I’m trying, Keith…  Keith…”  she mumbled as he pulled himself over to kiss her forehead.

“I know.  Let’s give Rhea some time to process before continuing.”

Rhea’s chest puffed up before releasing the air trapped in her lungs, thanking Nova and Mya for snuggling up to her spirit to show their support was appreciated; Alice was poised between her dad’s head and her lap, hugging her side.

She’d expected to hear more about herself than her parents, yet, now, so many things throughout her childhood made sense; why certain people in the village hated her mother now clicked, too, and why they’d disappear whenever she was around.

Rhea could put herself in her mother’s shoes as she nibbled on the information; she now knew why so many criminal organizations trusted her mother with who her family was—she had a long-established history in the community—at least until Malva broke the news that she’d flipped.

“So… Dad’s a clone—don’t clones die, though?”  she asked, recalling the history class she’d had and how the process had been outlawed by the United Leagues.  “Is it different for the, uh, the other universe?”

Her dad puffed out a long breath.  “Yeah…  Well, I’m not completely human, either, Rhea.”

Rhea sat back, staring up at the moon.  “Huh.  So, that means Sabin and I aren’t totally human because you aren’t?”

She was surprised how much it helped, hearing that her amazing father wasn’t entirely human, meaning she wasn’t alone.

Her mother’s fingers paused while examining her thick, blonde locks.  “There’s a lot more to that…  Humans can’t survive the cloning process, so Pokemon RNA was introduced to his system to stabilize the transition and provide the strength to adapt… the opposite of what we did to Mewtwo.”

Rhea’s skin tingled as the information started to sink in.  “So…  Sabin has Pokemon DNA in him through Dad—I can get that—but… the reason you were so upset is that there’s more to it for me?”

Swallowing the lump in her throat, Rhea took a few seconds to pose her question.  “You… introduced a Pokemon’s RNA into my egg?”

A censured screw dug through her father’s voice as he whispered, “Not exactly…  Everything’s my fault, Rhea.”

Her mother’s hands moved to her stomach as if feeling sick, and her eyes glossed over; dread began to fill Rhea’s chest as she listened to her mother’s story and the hidden past her parents had concealed her entire life.

“Your father planned things very carefully and betrayed the United League…  I was captured with several others—taken back to the Rainbow Rocket world—only days after you were conceived, and, to protect your brother, I jumped… at the opportunity to make myself useful… I offered them my knowledge.

“Very few people are alive that know the details about the Mewtwo experiment—and for good reason—most were killed or had their memories erased by Mewtwo himself after the second was created… ironically, a female, but that’s beside the point.  I was given a new task…”

She smiled up at her.  “Genetically engineer the strongest Trainer for them to groom, using my knowledge, and I did it without a second thought since it was the only way I could keep your brother by my side.”

The crashing waves below came into the foreground as Rhea played through the images in her head, seeing her brother in the claws of monsters—one being her own father—and herself, pulled from her mother and placed in a test tube.

“Me…”  Rhea choked.

“Hmm-no…”  Her mother’s mouth pulled in, tears gathering in her eyes as she shook her head.  “No, it was supposed to be Giovanni’s own seed, but… I swapped that embryo for yours… because I knew it would affect your father… and killed Giovanni’s.”

“It did…”

Cold water dropped over Rhea’s head at the confession as she whispered, “Out of spite—revenge?”

She couldn’t breathe as her mother nodded, unable to look her in the face; her father continued since her mother couldn’t—these people in this story weren’t her parents.

Her mother was kind, awkward, and a dork who would jump at any opportunity to do something for her daughter; she was the woman who hounded doctors about her health, fixed wild Pokemon with genetic problems, and did everything in her power to keep her safe.

Her father was the most loyal, attentive, and supporting person she knew; he’d spent almost every day of her life making sure she wouldn’t feel lonely and teaching her all about the wild—it meant Franky, Vilora, Jeffery, Frisky—all her father’s Pokemon, who she saw as some of her closest friends, had all known the truth.

“It was a punch to my gut when she told me…” her father whispered, making Rhea choke a laugh as she related.  “If… if I revealed it to my superiors, you would have been destroyed,” he mumbled.  “Every day—’round and around—I saw you as myself, and your mother pressed that knife into my chest…

Mom’s not that kind of person…  She’s my mom…

“When your mother was a prisoner… the discussions between my mother and yours… it killed a piece of me every day; she was Christie’s biggest fan.  Heh.  Your mother’s understanding of how to actively manipulate DNA with RNA rather than randomly throwing things into the pot…  It changed everything.”

My grandma was the one that oversaw the whole thing?

“Mewtwo was made to be the strongest Pokemon… but Rainbow Rocket’s Giovanni wanted the strongest human.  As you grew, so did both your mother and my love, and… we both realized the wrongs we’d done.”

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I’m a test-tube baby?  This can’t be real.

“A few months after you came to term… I found an opportunity to escape.”

Rhea wanted to throw up; she was more than just some experiment—she didn’t want to believe she was a cursed child of an imprisoned woman, looking to hurt the man she loved—she was a tool for war to be manipulated and used.

Forcing herself up to walk around her ashamed mother to stand beside the stone seat, Rhea’s mind sunk into the nightmarish past of her parents as Alice clung to her foot, trying to offer her support.

She couldn’t imagine her dork of a helpless mother so twisted or her adoring father so cold as to utterly betray her mother and confine his own son to such a world.  It was twisted, utterly wrong, and yet somehow, her parents had remained together after all those torturous experiences to be here to explain her origin.

“I’m sorry, Rhea—”

“Christie… let her process it; her aura connection is going to make this rough.”

Alice glared at the two, now hugging Rhea’s leg; all Rhea felt was the chill running through her marrow.  Out of everything she’d expected to hear, this horror story was not in the same universe.

Aura connection?  What does that even mean?!

“If… If I’m some genetically modified super-human…  How am I not like Mewtwo?”

Her mother’s fist tightened against her breast as she whispered, “You’re our daughter—my daughter…  I… I wanted to make it so you wouldn’t feel as vulnerable as I did when…  I…  I’m sorry.”

“Heh… right,” Rhea sniffed.  “I’m not like him because I’m not a clone?  Why didn’t… how did you think it was okay to keep this from me… from Sabin?!”  Her voice cut off, shoulders drooping as tears slid down her cheeks.  

“No, I know why… because it’s totally messed up.  I… need some time to think about this…”

Her father’s hands gripped her mother’s arms, keeping her from moving forward.  “We understand.  We both hold our own sins, Rhea, but know we love you—nothing changes that.  And when you want us to continue, we’ll be here.”

Rhea slowly nodded, unable to voice the swirl of emotions tainting her heart.

Of course, there’s more.

Reaching down to pick up Alice as the bunny pointed at her parents, angry tears in her own eyes while telling them off, and Nova and Mya held the same opinion as their teammate.

The story was too much to take in without walking and letting it soak in, so she moved along the cliff and the edge of the forest; the picture of her family she’d held close her entire life now had rips in it—her father was right—this wasn’t something they could put back into a box.

Blurry vision wandering across the rising and falling sea, Rhea didn’t know how she should feel or think after her parents shattered the image she’d had of them; it hurt, yet she also could understand why they’d kept it from her and how they made their decisions, which was probably the thing that killed her the most—it fit—and that was what hurt.

Would it have been better if they didn’t tell me?  What does it really change?  It was war…  Dad grew up a certain way, and Mom had her own faults, but they still are the parents I grew up with… they’re just more than that now.

Mom protected Sabin… by experimenting on me, and I was the reason Mom and Dad grew closer again for him to rescue her, but… it’s still messed up.  It’s all messed up…

I’m a war weapon, she chuckled to her Pokemon.  No wonder they didn’t let me go out and be in the public until now, and I bet the League had to approve it.  Hah.  Maybe this was a compromise… let me go when I come of age?

Does that mean I’ll continue to change or develop more powers—maybe start dying if something goes wrong?  No…  I’m sorry, she cried herself as her Pokemon drew on the question, begging her not to leave them.  I’m sorry…  I’m not going anywhere.

She sniffed, knowing her mother was probably dying inside, and part of what made the pain in her chest sting so much was how she could empathize with her parents; the fact her father could be in the same room—the same planet—as her mother’s family said they’d forgiven him for his betrayal, but it was still fresh on Rhea’s heart.

Rhea didn’t know what she’d do if he’d done that to her, and her mother had been utterly blindsided like she was now.

Trapped and likely not even on her own planet—utterly alone—and with powerful people’s hands—her husband’s hands—around her son’s throat, her mother had fought back in the only way she could.

The pain of seeing his daughter in a test tube and experimented on had broken whatever programming had been done to him, drawing her father back to her mother, and she was sure it would have been nearly impossible for them to work that out—yet, they had.

It’s all messed up…  Is that what the Ultra War was like?  It’s terrible…  No wonder people hate Rainbow Rocket…

She could see her grinning grandfather pulling her into a hug while cooing his little nickname—calling her his lil’ Swablu—and her smiling, cool, yet totally loving grandmother standing nearby to give her a welcoming hug.

Her undefeatable and beyond-all-limits aunt, standing beside titans and the message she sent the world about leaving Rhea alone.

Her legendary, cute, and kind great-grandmother, who was quick to come to Rhea’s defense on anything and was one of the standing authorities in historical research and languages—always needing help from her grandchildren to work on her computer.

And the thought of her mother suddenly being kidnapped and held hostage with her newly born son and daughter made her heart bleed; she couldn’t imagine how the most important people in her life felt. 

Rainbow Rocket…

Her teeth locked, liquid running from her eyes, and the tightness in her chest strangling her lungs, Rhea felt something she’d never experienced in her life.

The kind of people that make incredible people like Blue become an unhinged alcoholic and Leaf a recluse for years.  The kind of people to cause my family so much pain…  I hate them…  I hate them.


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