Welcome to another exciting installment of Spacemon, the tale of a Pokemon TRPG campaign! This is the final entry in a multi-part anthology series where each entry follows a different character in the Spacemon universe. You can get caught up on our previous adventures here!
Raj couldn’t help but look up as he stepped into the Grand Archives. He had walked through the atrium several times since his arrival on Mechorah, but he was still no less impressed. The central atrium of the Archives stood in the very heart of the Grand Monastery, and it rose all the way to the top, housing stories upon stories of the Congregate’s holoscrolls, vessels of knowledge and wisdom filled throughout the centuries by the monks of the order. Nothing was as impressive as the Grand Monastery’s crown jewel. The immense psionic crystal suspended high above the floor below was truly breathtaking to behold.
Raj took in a deep breath of air before he descended the small flight of stairs that led down to the central atrium. The bottom floor of the Grand Archives was bustling with activity as young monks moved about, wandering the rows of shelves containing the assorted holoscroll components, guided by their instincts in a trance-like state as they searched for pieces from which they would assemble their scrolls. It was the time of year when the monks from monasteries all across the Sinai Ascendancy whom had completed their training made the journey to the Sinai homeworld to begin their pilgrimages, their rites of passage into monkhood.
Now it was Raj’s turn. Years of training at the Ninauli Monastery on Vandia had prepared him for this moment, the moment in which he would begin his pilgrimage and set off on a journey to carve out his own piece of history to be recorded in the Grand Archives. For a few days now, Raj had been visiting the Archives, but as of yet the components of his scroll had eluded him. He had yet to enter the trance that would guide him. The elder monks who oversaw the construction of the scrolls said that it could take some time, that it was nothing to worry about. Raj only hoped that he would not have to wait too much longer.
Walking between two of the shelves upon which the holoscroll pieces were laid, Raj ran his fingers along the metal and crystal constructions, feeling their unique textures and energies. He reached out to them through his senses, hoping one might trigger something. After several moments Raj’s hand made contact with a particular scroll component that seemed to radiate with a strong aura the likes of which Raj had yet to encounter in the Archives. It was a long metal cylinder with an unusually large fragment of psionic crystal embedded in it. Almost as if it was calling out to him, Raj felt compelled to pick it up. As he closed his fingers around the cylinder, he felt a rush of sensations flow through him, then his eyes drifted closed as he fell into an almost meditative state.
His senses fading from him, Raj moved between the shelves, guided by nothing but his finely attuned instincts. He soon found his way to two nearly identical pieces, a pair of cylinders similar to the first, only shorter, and with smaller crystals embedded in them. Then, still in a trance, Raj began assembling his scroll. His hands practically moving of their own volition, they slid the large cylinder onto the base frame he had been given upon arriving at the Grand Monastery, then the two smaller ones. Finally came the end caps that held it all together. As they were pressed into place, Raj’s mind was struck with a vision.
Images, feelings, unknown sensations. They all rushed around Raj. Through him, even. Flashes that were too difficult to distinguish. Then, through the overwhelming whirl of sensation, a figure appeared. Tall and thin, cloaked in a flowing robe, it took long strides, moving further and further away, back turned. Just as quickly as the figure appeared, it was gone, swallowed up by the Universe. Another soon appeared, this one small in comparison, but seeming to radiate with a powerful aura of warmness. This figure stood still, waiting, beckoning with open, outstretched arms. Soon, this figure too was gone, only to be replaced by yet another. This third figure looked much like the first, but it approached instead of departing, moving forward toward some unseen goal. Then, everything faded to black.
Raj’s eyes snapped open and he was back in the central atrium of the Grand Archives once more. He clutched his newly constructed scroll tightly against his chest, and gazed up at the giant psionic crystal above one last time. Then, Raj strode forward with a new sense of purpose. It was time for his journey to begin.
Raj sat cross-legged in the monastery garden, meditating with his holoscroll for what felt like the millionth time. For a year now, the young monk had been traveling the stars in search of clues that might lead him to fill the first piece of his holoscroll, but for a year he had made no progress. His pilgrimage was proving to be more difficult than he had expected. He knew that many monks spent years on their pilgrimages, but surely by now he should have discovered something. Surely by now he should have at least filled a portion of his scroll.
After many meditations with his scroll, Raj was deeply familiar with the initial vision he received upon its construction; he had relived it many times since. The three figures continued to perplex him. Other monks Raj had spoken with had told him that their initial visions had shown them locations and landmarks that had helped guide their way to the places where they were to receive their visions, but the same could not be said for his own. These mysterious figures that he saw provided no indication of where to go or what to do.
And so Raj traveled from world to world, hoping that he might simply stumble upon something that would trigger a vision or provide a clue. His travels had led him here, to Khalimuck, a small but well populated world in Outer Rim Sector 33, right on the borders of both Sinai and Alliance space. Here on the planet, Raj had found his way to a small monastery run by an old monk by the name of Kailash who sought to provide monks on their pilgrimages a place to rest and meditate while on their journeys.
For many weeks now, Raj had been resting here. He much preferred the gentle breeze and sweet aromas of the monastery garden to the small confines of the meditation sphere he traveled in. This environment was much more stimulating to the senses and that, Raj felt, made it far more conducive to his meditations.
As he sat deep in meditation, Raj’s mind wandered freely like a flowing river. He soon found his thoughts drifting back home. He wondered how Alex was doing on her own journey. Hopefully she was having more luck in finding answers about her father than he was in unlocking the mystery of his vision, and hopefully she was safe. Alex was strong — stronger than she knew — but Raj couldn’t help but worry for her safety.
Suddenly, Raj felt a hand on his shoulder that pulled him from his meditations. He opened his eyes to see the wrinkled and bearded face of Kailash looking back at him. “Forgive my intrusion, young one,” the ancient monk said, his lips forming into a gentle smile. “I just wished to inform you that dinner is being served.”
“There is no need to apologize,” Raj replied as he rose to his feet. “Your hospitality has been far beyond what is necessary.”
“Nonsense, my dear boy,” Kailash said as the two began to make their way indoors. “All brothers and sisters of the order who visit this monastery deserve the best we have to offer for however long the duration of their stay.”
“You are too kind.”
“There is no such thing. Anyway, did you have any luck in your meditations today?”
Raj bowed his head slightly. “I am afraid not.”
“I see. Perhaps a change of scenery will do you good.” The old monk placed a reassuring hand on Raj’s shoulder. “Your presence here will surely be missed, but you cannot stay here forever. Your destiny still awaits you.”
“Hmm, perhaps you are right,” Raj said. “I will not find the answers I seek if I do not look for them.”
“Good. Good. But now let us put pilgrimages aside for the time being and eat. I am quite famished.”
Raj sat in meditation, his senses open to the world around him. He could feel the blades of grass dancing in the gentle evening breeze. He could hear the sound of the water of the mountain valley lake rippling against the shore. He could smell the scent of flowers in the air. Most importantly, the monk could sense the auras of his Pokemon companions seated in a circle with him. Lucario, Medicham, Gallade. Their aura’s burned with powerful energies that Raj was able to dial into, channeling their senses and feelings.
This was one of the ways in which his psionic abilities had manifested, the capability of connecting with other living beings in a way few if any other people could. With Pokemon in particular, Raj was able to attune himself to their thoughts, their senses, and their very auras, serving as a conduit to link them together. Through this link, he was able to meditate together with his Pokemon on a deeper level than any monk could hope to achieve.
Suddenly, Raj felt an aura approaching. He opened his eyes to see another monk approaching from the direction of the monastery nestled in the quiet mountain valley. Raj took in the man’s appearance as he approached. He looked quite a bit older than Raj himself, with a flowing silver beard and thick eyebrows, and his skin was a few shades darker than Raj’s
“I did not mean to disturb you,” the monk said once he had drawn near. “I came here to meditate myself.”
Raj smiled kindly at the stranger. “It is no bother,” he said. “You are welcome to join me.”
The older monk nodded, then took a seat beside Raj and began to meditate. Several more moments passed before he spoke again. “I could not help but sense the strong connection you have with your Pokemon,” he said, gazing around the circle at Raj’s three companions. “I have not felt anything quite like it before.”
“It is one of the gifts the Universe bestowed upon me,” Raj said. “I can channel their aura’s through my own … sense what they sense.”
“Impressive. In all my years of travel I have never met anyone with an ability quite like yours.” The old monk paused a moment and gazed out upon the calm waters of the lake before continuing. “If I may ask … what is your name?”
Raj nodded. “Rajesh. Rajesh Ranganathan. You may call me Raj. And you?”
“I am Gilgamesh,” the monk said.
Raj looked upon the older monk in recognition. “I’ve heard that name before. You were the one who shed light on the mysteries of the Warp. Your teachings are spoken quite highly of.”
“Not anymore, I’m afraid,” Gilgamesh replied. “The Congregate did not look kindly upon the contents of my second scroll.”
“I wasn’t aware that you had produced a second scroll,” Raj said with a slight hint of surprise.
“Nor would you have reason to. It was rejected by the Archival Council.” A somber expression appeared on Gilgamesh’s face. “They chose not to heed my warnings and chose to remain blinded by doctrine.”
Raj was not used to hearing such criticism of the order, but he was curious to hear this man’s story. “What happened?”
“The Congregate is … reluctant to accept certain truths. It is why I chose to leave the order. But let us speak of it no more. I believe everyone must find their own path, and I do not wish to alter the course of yours.”
Raj let out a deflated laugh and pulled out his empty holoscroll. “I don’t even know what the course of my path is,” he said, showing the scroll to Gilgamesh.
“I see.” The old monk paused for a moment to gaze out on the lake again. “Tell me,” he said after some minutes. “Does your ability to … channel the auras of Pokemon also work on Humans?”
“Not quite in the same way, but yes,” Raj answered. “I cannot share their senses as I can with Pokemon, but I can connect to their emotions and feelings, and them to my own.”
Gilgamesh nodded. “Given the intrinsic difference between Humans and Pokemon, this makes sense, but nonetheless, perhaps this can help you on your way.”
“What do you mean?”
“During my first pilgrimage, it took me many years to unlock the mystery of my scroll. Meditating with other monks on their own pilgrimages and connecting our thoughts often helped mutually guide both them and myself, offering new perspectives on our visions.”
“So, you would like me to channel your aura, then?” Raj asked.
“Indeed,” Gilgamesh replied. “It may prove useful as we meditate together to unlock the mystery of your scroll. And I would very much like to experience this ability of yours directly. I find it … fascinating.”
“Very well,” Raj said. He took in a deep breath, then reached his hand out to the older monk, focusing in on his aura.
Closing his eyes, Raj could feel Gilgamesh’s aura connect with his own; it flowed with a strength unlike any he had encountered, and yet it was calm, serene. With the channel between their aura’s open, Raj was able to sense the elder monk’s emotions. They were controlled, likely the result of years upon years of disciplined meditation, yet for a moment Raj thought he detected a faint sadness.
Through the connection he had made, Raj was able to sense Gilgamesh’s motivations, in a manner of speaking. He got the sense that this man was in search of knowledge, but of what he could not say. That did not matter, though. What mattered was that Raj felt that he could trust him.
Before he could think further, Raj felt Gilgamesh’s mind brush up against his own. “If you’ll allow me, I can connect our thoughts with my own abilities so that we may experience your vision together,” Gilgamesh’s voice sounded in his mind. It was a projected thought. Such telepathic abilities Raj had encountered before; it was a capability far more common among psionics than his own. Thinking back his permission to the older monk, Raj opened his mind to him and the two joined each other in meditation.
Opening their senses to Raj’s scroll, which sat positioned in the grass between them, the two monks let the energy contained within flow through them. Before long, Raj experienced once more the vision he had grown used to seeing, witnessed once more the three mysterious figures he was all too familiar with. However, this time something felt different; through his connection to Gilgamesh, Raj sensed recognition.
Out from the swirling chaos of the vision, the first figure appeared again, tall and thin as always and cloaked in a flowing robe, but instead of being swallowed up by the Universe, this time it persisted and faded into focus, allowing Raj to make out its features. Raj recognized a familiar face, albeit much younger; it was Gilgamesh.
Now with a name and a face to the figure he saw, the flashes of images swirling around him began to become clear. Raj saw a man revered for his wisdom by his peers, one who was requested to go out and seek more secrets of the Universe. The wise man traveled the stars and returned with a message. A warning. But the man’s peers denounced his words of warning, declared them heresy. And so the wise man turned his back on those dogmatic ones he had once called his peers, and with long strides he departed, never to return again.
Raj watched as Gilgamesh moved further and further away from him, swallowed up by the chaos of his vision once again. The young monk opened his eyes to see Gilgamesh looking back at him, his face calm and free of emotion. “It would seem that our paths were destined to cross,” the old monk said after several moments had passed.
“So it does,” Raj replied. “I do not believe our meeting today was mere chance.” He looked down at his scroll to see the psionic crystal embedded in one of the smaller cylindrical components glowing with a pale light. He couldn’t help but let out a short, triumphant laugh as he picked the scroll up. “When I came out to this lake to meditate today, I did not expect to fill a portion of my scroll.”
“We often find the truth where we least expect it,” Gilgamesh said. “I must admit, I did not expect that I would be the subject of another monk’s pilgrimage scroll … but seeing your vision … I am reminded of my own journey … of the truths I still have yet to learn.”
Raj smiled. “As you said, we often find the truth where we least expect it.”
Gilgamesh nodded. “Indeed.” The old monk then got to his feet, motioning for Raj to stand with him. “Now, come. As a member of the Outer Rim Gym League, I wish to see the bond you share with your Pokemon in action.”
A light breeze caused ripples to dance across the surface of the lake as the two monks stood across from each other upon its shore. “Now, let us see what you and your Pokemon are truly capable of,” Gilgamesh said as he pulled out a Pokeball from the folds of his robes.
Flanked by his three Pokemon companions, Raj nodded to his faithful Lucario he had traveled with for many years now. The monk opened a channel with the Pokemon as he stepped forward, ready to face off with the opposing Pokemon. There was a flash from Gilgamesh’s Pokeball as he released the Pokemon within. The Malamar let out a fierce cry as it emerged, its tentacles rippling in an almost hypnotic fashion.
Their aura’s linking, Raj and his Pokemon could sense each other’s feelings. Raj did not even need to issue a command. The Lucario could sense his trainer’s wishes through their bond. Pressing his paws together, Raj’s Pokemon focused his aura forming a sphere of energy between them. He then swiftly leapt forward, lobbing it in the Malamar’s direction. The attack struck true, the force of the impact knocking Gilgamesh’s Pokemon back.
“Impressive,” Gilgamesh commented without moving his eyes from the two Pokemon between himself and his opponent. Responding to a telepathic command from its trainer, the Malamar floated forward, drawing back one of its tentacles to strike.
Defend yourself, my friend, Raj thought as he observed the battle. His feelings linked to those of his trainer, the Lucario moved on pure instinct, raising his arms to parry the Malamar’s attack. And now for the counterattack. Jumping back, Raj’s Lucario fired off a follow-up attack, blasting the Malamar with a pulse of energy, further whittling it down.
Injured, but not out of the fight yet, the Malamar held its position. Its eyes then flashed, emitting a hypnotic beam that put Raj’s Pokemon to sleep. Resist, old friend, Raj thought, willing his companion to awaken. Sadly, it was not to be. With its foe left completely vulnerable, the Malamar struck swiftly with the razor-sharp edges of its tentacles, delivering an instant knockout blow.
You did well, my friend, Raj thought as he recalled his fainted Pokemon. The monk then extended his aura to his Medicham, his second Pokemon stepping forward to face off with Gilgamesh’s Malamar. You know what to do. Raj willed his wishes and his Medicham complied. Jumping high into the air, the Medicham raised her foot and brought it crashing down upon Gilgamesh’s Pokemon, evening the score.
The older monk said nothing as he recalled his fainted Pokemon. He then sent out another, this one a Gardevoir. Raj wasted no time in willing his next command through the channel between his aura and that of his Medicham. The Pokemon rushed forward, fist coated in flames as she prepared to strike. Like an elegant dancer, Gilgamesh’s Gardevoir gracefully evaded the attack, then unleashed one of its own, draining away its assailants energy. The Embrace Pokemon then moved away storing up power for another attack as Raj’s Medicham turned to face it. Fist engulfed in flames once more, the Medicham moved in to strike again, this time finding her mark.
Not deterred by the powerful blow, Gilgamesh’s Gardevoir approached in an attempt to drain more of the Medicham’s energy in order to heal itself. Detecting her opponent’s intentions, Raj’s Pokemon jumped back and out of the way just in time. Yes, you can do this, Raj thought, sending encouraging vibes to his Pokemon through their link.
Following up its attack with yet another, the Gardevoir unleashed its stored up energy in a directed psychic blast. Raj’s Pokemon moved like a dancer in her own right, swiftly evading the attack in a spinning motion. She then went in for the counterattack, fist alight with fire once again. Now it was the Gardevoir’s turn to evade, gracefully slipping out of reach of Raj’s Pokemon. Seizing the opening, Gilgamesh’s Pokemon struck once more, draining away the last of the Medicham’s energy.
Without missing a beat, Raj’s Gallade stepped forward to engage as the monk recalled his fainted Medicham. It’s all up to you now, Raj thought as he opened a channel to his final Pokemon’s aura. Gilgamesh’s Pokemon stood waiting, storing up even more power as it stared down its evolutionary relative.
Strike now with Leaf Blade! Raj willed his Pokemon to act. His Gallade ran forward to meet his foe, then struck with one of his arm blades. Slivers of grass blades flew up into the air as the Gallade found his mark, delivering a critical blow.
Gilgamesh’s Pokemon was on the ropes now, but wasn’t going to go down without a fight. The Embrace Pokemon unleashed another blast of the energy it had been building, but Raj’s Gallade dodged back at the last second, narrowly evading the attack. Feeling his trainer’s wishes flowing through the bond between them, the Gallade then moved to strike. This time it was the Gardevoir’s turn to evade, teleporting away and leaving the Gallade’s arm blade to slice through the air where it had been standing moments before.
Not to be deterred, Raj’s Gallade rushed at the Gardevoir, blades raised to strike. It surely would have been a finishing blow had it made contact, but Gilgamesh’s Pokemon gracefully moved out of the way once more, then fired off another devastating psychic blast. The Gallade was unable to avoid the attack this time, but he still had plenty of fight left in him. Picking himself up, Raj’s Pokemon rushed the Gardevoir again, finally taking it down with a decisive blow.
Gilgamesh recalled his Pokemon, then sent out a Claydol. Now the older monk too was on his final Pokemon. He still held the advantage in this battle, but Raj held onto hope that he and his Gallade could still achieve victory. His Pokemon sensed these feelings too and moved to strike without hesitation. The Gallade moved with ferocity, delivering a critical strike against Gilgamesh’s Claydol. And just like that the playing field was level.
We’re not out of this yet, Raj thought as the Claydol’s many eyes began to glow. Get out of there! As the ground beneath Raj’s Pokemon erupted, the Gallade teleported away, appearing behind his assailant. Gilgamesh’s Claydol, however, did not lose sight of its foe thanks to its three-hundred-sixty degrees of vision. The Pokemon’s many eyes began to glow one more, and beam of blinding light shot out of the one directly facing Raj’s Gallade. The beam pierced right through the Blade Pokemon, bringing him down.
The battle was lost.
Defeated, Raj recalled his fainted Gallade to his Pokeball. He gave the ball a solemn glance before returning it to the pocket of his robes. The monk knew that it had only been a friendly battle, but the loss still stung.
“Languish not,” Gilgamesh said, approaching. “You and your Pokemon fought well. The strength of the bond you share with them is not insignificant.”
“Thank you, Gilgamesh,” Raj said, bowing his head to the older monk. He knew Gilgamesh was right. His Pokemon had fought well. He had forged a strong bond with his companions since he had first met them, through his time at the monastery back on Vandia, and during his pilgrimage across the stars. Together, they would continue to grow alongside one another. Next time they faced such a test, they would be ready.
“It was my pleasure to witness that strength,” Gilgamesh replied. “It has been a long time since I have experienced such a battle. Now, I am afraid that I must depart. I am glad to have met you, Raj.”
“And I am honored to have met one as wise as yourself,” Raj said, bowing once more in respect.
Gilgamesh’s robes rippled in the wind as he turned to leave. He took a few long strides back toward the monastery before stopping again. “I wish you luck in your journey,” he said, turning his head to look back at Raj. “I hope you find them … the others that you saw in your visions.” And with those final words, the wise old monk continued on his way.
The gas giant Geunchu hung ever present in the sky of its second moon as Raj entered the limits of the city. This small world on the edges of Sector 12 was but the latest stop on the monk’s journey. As he made his way to the market to stock up on supplies, Raj reflected on the day’s meditations. Earlier, he had landed his meditation sphere up in the mountains and gazed down upon the farmlands of Geunchu II as he tried to make sense of his visions, but he still hadn’t made progress. The identities of the two remaining figures eluded him.
It had been a couple of years since Raj had met Gilgamesh, since he had filled the first piece of his holoscroll, and yet he felt no closer to filling the next. Since that time, Raj had continued traveling from world to world, visiting ruins and monasteries. There was a monastery here on Geunchu II as well, but Raj had found no answers there. The monks of this world were not particularly helpful. Even so, Raj had decided to remain for a few days to rest and resupply before moving on.
As he drew near to the market, Raj continued to ponder the mysteries of his scroll. By now he knew that he was looking for people, and not objects or locations. His interaction with Gilgamesh had made that much clear to the monk. What was not clear was who these remaining two people were or what their significance in the Universe was. The third figure in Raj’s vision had looked much like the first, the one that had been revealed to be Gilgamesh. To Raj, this meant that the figure must be a monk as well; of this much he was sure. The second figure was the most perplexing. Compared to the other two, this individual was short in stature and quite slender and was not garbed in the robes of a monk. Perhaps it was a woman, or maybe a child. Raj could not say for sure.
Raj shook his mind free of his thoughts as he arrived at the market. There would be time to think more on the matter later. For the time being, restocking his food supplies held priority. As he browsed the wares of the vendors in the market, Raj couldn’t help but think of home. This place very much reminded him of the markets of Mirthal on Vandia, the city nearest to the monastery where he was raised. It had been years now since he had been back there.
After purchasing some bread, vegetables, and other items to cover his basic nutritional needs, Raj spotted a market stall selling apples and decided to buy a few. They were commonly sold back home because of the local orchards, and Raj desired a little taste of home.
“There you are, sir,” the merchant said, placing the apples the monk had purchased into his bag.
“Thank you,” Raj replied, smiling. He looked down at the fruits sitting in his bag and thought of Alex. He recalled how the young orphan girl he had looked after for a time was fond of them and was always happy when he brought some back to the monastery.
At that moment, something suddenly clicked in Raj’s mind. A piece of his vision played out once more. He saw Gilgamesh appear once more, taking those long strides as he departed the Grand Monastery for the final time. Just as he had seen many times, Gilgamesh faded from view as the second figure appeared. Unlike before, however, new details became clear to Raj. Big eyes full of emotion. A long, flowing ponytail. Features so familiar. As if a fog was lifted, the girl faded into view. She was beckoning with open arms, calling out to him. She spoke no words, but her message was clear.
The truth was indeed found where it was least expected.
Long shadows lay across the overgrown stone walkway, cast by the weathered columns being struck by the light of the low hanging sun that shone down upon Vandia’s Sunset Plains. Back on his home planet once again, Raj’s journey had led him here, to the recently excavated ruins just outside the capital city of Khirpai. The monk hoped he may find some clue to Alex’s whereabouts here, some hint that would let him pick up her trail. It was a trail that had more than likely gone cold years ago, but Raj could not let that deter him. He knew he would find the girl again. He was meant to.
Raj had no idea where Alex’s journey had taken her, and he had no means of reaching out to her; the way of life of the Congregate prevented monks from having access to certain luxuries of modern society that would have made his task easier. And so, the monk had to search for the girl the old fashioned way. It would be a difficult task, but Raj knew his instincts would not fail him.
The monk had a good feeling about the ruins as he entered. Something about this place had drawn him here. He knew that Alex’s father had been an archaeologist, so it stood to reason that some of his colleagues might have be part of the excavation team. If Alex was looking for her father, Raj was sure she would have come here. Beyond the logic, however, there was something else drawing the monk here, a feeling that he could not explain.
It was just like how he could not figure out exactly how or why Alex was the catalyst for the second vision of his pilgrimage that was to be recorded in his holoscroll. All he knew was that she was, and that he needed to find her. It was that same feeling he was experiencing now; for some reason Raj knew that something in these ruins would help lead him to her.
“Can I help you, sir?” a voice suddenly asked. Pushing his deep thoughts aside, Raj focused on the man approaching him. By the look of him, he appeared to be one of the archaeologists working on the excavation.
A slight but friendly smile appeared on Raj’s lips. “Perhaps you can,” he told the man. “I’m looking for someone.”
“A lot of people looking for someone coming through here lately,” the archaeologist replied. “Ever since that Gilgamesh fellow showed up. You’re a monk too, yeah? Let me guess, you’re looking for him as well.”
“Gilgamesh was here?” Raj asked, recognizing the name of the monk he had met a few years ago, the one who had triggered his first vision. “Curious.”
“Yeah, he came by a few weeks back and took a good look around. Bunch of strange offworlders came by looking for him just a couple days ago. I told them the same thing. He’s not here anymore if he’s who you’re looking for.”
“No,” Raj stated plainly. “I’m looking for a girl by the name of Alex. Long dark hair, big brown eyes—”
“Oh, you’re looking for Hawthorne’s kid?” the man said. “Yeah, I know her. She works as a guide for the agency that handles tours for this site … or at least I think she does. I certainly see her around here all the time. Although, now that you mention it, I haven’t seen her for a couple days. Not since those offworlders showed up.”
“I see,” Raj said. “Thank you for your assistance.”
“Yeah, sure,” the man replied. “I think she lives on the outskirts of town if you want to try asking around there,” he then added.
“I think I shall,” Raj said, nodding. “Thank you again.”
Raj felt optimistic as he crossed the Sunset Plains in the direction of Khirpai. It seemed his instincts had been right. He now had a trail to follow, but he hoped he was not too late. Based on what the archaeologist in the ruins had said, it was quite possible that Alex had recently moved on. The fact that Gilgamesh had also visited these ruins recently could not be a coincidence. Both the old monk and Alex were tied to Raj’s holoscroll, and both had been in the ruins around the same time. It had to mean something, but what exactly was unclear.
Raj was certain that all would become clear in time, but for now he had to remain focused on the task at hand. Locating Alex was what mattered at the present time. He was very much looking forward to seeing the girl again. In a way she was the closest thing to family he had, even more so than the monks who had raised him.
As he neared the outskirts of the city, Raj’s attention was captured by a long gouge cutting into the farmland. It ran across the length of the nearby cabbage field and through the fence which now had a section missing. It was an unnatural sight, as if some massive object had carved its way through the field, tearing up the soil and the crops planted in it, and leaving behind a deep trench.
In much the same way he had felt drawn to the ruins, Raj felt drawn to this trench. It was almost as if it was calling out to him. The monk approached the broken fence and placed his hand upon it to support himself as he looked down into the trench. He followed the length of it with his eyes, and when he gazed up to the horizon, he was suddenly struck with a vision.
Raj could see the cabbage field sprawling before him, yet the trench carved across it was gone. The shadows cast across the field shifted along the ground as the sun rose and fell, never fully sinking below the horizon nor rising fully above the distant mountains. Suddenly, a figure appeared, dashing alongside the field. Recognition dawed on Raj as the figure drew nearer. It was Alex! Her appearance was unmistakable even though she looked older than the last time he saw her.
Then, down from the sky, a volley of laser fire pelted the ground, kicking up huge dust clouds around the girl. Moments later, a ship broke through the clouds and collided with the ground, carving a trench through the cabbage field as its momentum carried it along. The ship broke through the fence and then ground to a halt only a few feet away from Alex.
Raj watched as a group of somewhat strange looking individuals emerged from the crashed ship to survey the damage. He watched Alex approach and engage them in conversation. Time continued to pass. People came and went from the ship, Alex included. Off toward town, in and out of the crashed vessel, and, eventually off in the direction of the ruins. All the while, automated bots repaired the ship. After some time, the ship’s crew returned and the ship began to take off. At the last moment, Raj witnessed as Alex slipped aboard through the damaged airlock. And then the ship lifted off the ground, broke through the clouds, and vanished from sight.
Raj blinked, realizing his vision had ended, then looked up at the sky. It seemed Alex had found a way off this world. She really had moved on to the next phase of her journey. The people on that ship must have been the offworldsers the archaeologist had mentioned, and now it seemed they had been Alex’s means of departing from Vandia. Raj was happy for her, but he also felt his own optimism waver for a moment. Just as quickly as he had picked up Alex’s trail, he had lost it again. The girl was gone from this planet, and the Galaxy was a big place. He had no idea how he would ever find her again, but he resolved not to give up. He couldn’t explain it, but Raj knew that Alex was alright and that they would be reunited again.
Raj was deep in thought as he returned to the small spaceport where his meditation sphere was docked. His journey had once again brought him back to Sector 33, but this time with a sense of purpose. It had been about a month since the monk had departed from Vandia, and in that time he had been searching ruins, hoping to pick up Alex’s trail again. Raj knew that Dr. Hawthorne had been researching ruins on Vandia and the surrounding systems, including those on the fringes of the neighboring Outer Rim sectors, and his instincts told him that’s where Alex would be looking now that she had made it offworld.
That was how Raj had come to be on this world, a small settlement frequented mostly by Outer Rim traders as merchants, as well as individuals of a less savoury nature. It also happened to be home to ancient ruins. Raj had spent the past several days wandering the wilderness and exploring the ruins there, but his finely honed senses hadn’t picked up any clues. And so, he decided, it was time to leave, to move on the next world, but first he needed refreshment.
Before returning to the spaceport proper, Raj approached the cantina. Over the course of his pilgrimage, the monk had come to find that these sorts of establishments were not only a place where he could get a glass of water, but also a valuable source of information. The space travelers who frequented spaceport cantinas often picked up all kinds of stories and knowledge during their travels, and when they got drunk they were more than willing to share them with anyone who was willing to listen. As of late, they had been proving Raj with leads on planets with ruins on them, planets where he might find Alex.
Raj got a few strange looks as he entered, but he was more than used to it by now. He ignored them and made his way to the bar. “We don’t see many monks ‘round here,” the bartender said as the monk approached. “What can I get fer ya?”
“Just water, thank you,” Raj replied. “No ice, please.”
“Comin’ right up.”
As the bartender poured his drink, Raj settled onto one of the bar stools and gazed around the place. Most of the patrons had turned their attention back to their own conversations, the curiosity of seeing a Sinai monk having worn off.
“Here ya go, pal,” the bartender said, sliding the drink over.
“Thank you,” Raj said, nodding at the man. He then raised the glass to his lips and took a long sip. It was quite refreshing after his hike back to the settlement.
Allowing his eyes to wander again as he drank, Raj scanned the room before his eyes fell upon a holoscreen above the bar. It seemed to be displaying a Pokemon battling competition of some kind. Curious, Raj kept his focus on the screen. It was a three-on-three battle, a Haunter, Sigilyph, and Lampent, against a Hitmonchan, Blaziken, and Scrafty. After a moment, the camera cut to a wide shot, showing the trainers as well as the Pokemon. On one side stood a tall dark skinned man dressed like a boxer, on the other a familiar trio of individuals; two Raj recognized from his vision back on Vandia, and the third was Alex herself! It seemed this planet had a clue to offer after all.
“Excuse me,” Raj said to the bartender. He then motioned to the screen. “Could you turn that up, please?”
“Sure,” the man replied.
Moments later, the sound began to play. “—with a Sucker Punch of its own, but it’s simply too fast!” the commentator announced. “Hitmonchan takes down Haunter with a flurry of fists!”
“A fan of battling, are ya?” the bartender asked.
“I know that girl …” Raj said, trailing off into thought. “Tell me,” he then said after a few moments. “Do you know where this battle is happening?”
“Sure do. That’s Jerome MacJabber’s Fighting Gym in Sector 29. Your friend’s gonna be hard pressed to beat him.”
“I see,” Raj said, turning his attention back to the screen.
By this point, both of Alex’s companions had been knocked out, leaving her Lampent to stand alone against two of the gym leader’s Pokemon. “Not wanting to be on the receiving end of Hitmonchan’s frightening fists, Lampent floats back and delivers a death dealing Shadow Ball! Hitmonchan is down for the count!” And then it was one left on each side.
Alex wasn’t out of hot water yet, though. Just remember what I taught you and you’ll do fine, Raj thought as he looked on. Alex and her Pokemon were fighting fiercely, but MacJabber’s Blaziken was tough. The Pokemon leapt into the air to strike at the Lampent floating above it and the two went careening into the stands.
The broadcast cut to a different shot to give a better angle as the dust settled. “AND THEY’RE BOTH DOWN! IT’S A DRAW! Ladies and gentlemen, in all my years I have never seen a fight like this one!”
After several moments of deliberation during which the crowd cheered intensely, the gym leader waved the refs away and crossed the ring to present the championship belt to Alex and her companions. “Well I’ll be damned, she actually did it,” the bartender commented in surprise.
“I knew she would,” Raj said, standing up. “Thank you for the water,” he told the man before departing. He knew now where he needed to go. He just hoped that Alex would still be there when he arrived.
Raj could hear the roar of hundreds or perhaps even thousands of voices as he stepped into the Fighting Gym on the sixth moon of Siogern in Sector 29. The next tournament, it seemed, was about to begin. The monk got a few strange looks from the tough looking trainers lining up to enter, but he was more than used to that by now. After all, he had visited many places during his pilgrimage where a monk normally had no business being. Of course, Raj did have business here.
Once one of the sign-up tables was free, Raj approached. “Man, I’ve been getting a lot of unexpected entrants lately,” the man behind the table commented as he sized Raj up.
“I’m not here to enter the tournament,” Raj explained. “I’m looking for someone. The girl who won a few days ago. She is a friend of mine. It is important that I locate her as soon as possible.”
“Ah, yeah, I remember signing her up,” the man replied. “I didn’t think she was cut out for it, but I was wrong. She’s probably gone by now. MacJabber might know more. He knows everything that happens on this moon.”
“Then I must speak with him immediately,” Raj said.
“Yeah, get in line,” the man said. “He’s a busy man. Only way you’re meeting him is in the ring.”
Raj nodded. “So be it,” he said. “I would like to enter the tournament.”
The man let out a chuckle. “We’ll see if you’ve got what it takes. What’s your name?
“You may call me Raj.”
“That’s not very exciting is it? I’ll put you down as the ‘Mysterious Monk.’”
“As you wish.”
“Alright, you’re scheduled for the fourth fight; you’ve got thirty minutes. Go in mean, but keep it clean; none of that fancy monk bullshit.”
Raj knew what that meant, and it would make things a bit more challenging. As he walked away from the table, he thought about what he would do. He had come to rely on his ability to channel the energies of his Pokemon in battle, but now that wasn’t an option.
As he waited for his turn to battle, Raj found a quiet corner to sit and meditate with his Pokemon. He communicated with them how they had to fight this time. They would not have a psionic link to rely on, but the bonds of friendship they had forged over the years would still be there. It would have to be enough.
“Next up, we have Team Brick vs. the Mysterious Monk!”
Raj clenched his fists tight as he stepped into the ring. He hoped it would be enough.
The cheers of the crowd were wild with excitement as Raj stepped back into the ring. It had been hard fought, but here he was, about to face off with Jerome MacJabber himself. Even without his psionic abilities the bond he shared with his Pokemon had carried them this far. It was like learning how to battle all over again, but they had made it, if just barely. They had nearly lost the first fight, but Raj was a quick learner. He had been pushing the offensive too hard, allowing his Pokemon to drop their defenses. It was the same reason he had lost to Gilgamesh years ago. Once he identified and corrected that mistake, the fights began to shift in his favor, and now here he was. A question still lingered in the monk’s mind, however. Would it be enough to beat the gym leader? He wondered if this was how Alex had felt before her own battle against him.
“Ladies and gentlemen! The fight you’ve all been waiting for!” the announcer’s voice blared from the PA system. “The fearsome fighting type face-off between the Mysterious Monk and our very own Fighting Fiend Jerome MacJabber! Will this newcomer claim the belt or receive a serious smackdown?!”
MacJabber unhooked his Pokeballs from his belt and punched them out into the ring with his boxing gloves. His three Pokemon emerged, each striking a flashy pose. It was the same trio Raj had seen on the broadcast in the bar: Scrafty, Blaziken, and Hitmonchan.
We can do this, Raj thought as he released his own three Pokemon. They took their positions opposite MacJabber’s team, his Lucario up front, flanked on the sides by Medicham and Gallade. Focusing hard, Raj blocked out the noise of the crowd, waiting only for the sound of the bell.
DING! DING! DING!
“Mach Punch!” MacJabber barked immediately. With a lightning burst of speed, his Hitmonchan lunged forward at Raj’s Lucario.
Even in his focused state, Raj barely had a second to react. “Aabha, Quick Guard!” His Lucario threw his paws up, catching the Hitmonchan’s fist just in time and pushing it away.
“Now, Talavaar, Psycho Cut!” Raj shouted. His Gallade sprang to action, striking the Hitmonchan with a blade of pure psychic energy and driving it back.
But then MacJabber’s Blaziken dropped down from the air to strike Gallade. Fortunately it was a near miss and Raj was ready for a counterattack. “Sochana, Zen Headbutt!” Turning to the Pokemon that had just landed between her and Gallade, Raj’s Medicham moved to strike, doing a real number on it.
“High Jump Kick!” And there was the third of MacJabber’s Pokemon. The Scrafty leapt at Aabha, foot raised to strike, but Raj was ready for this.
“Parry it!” With a swift move, the Lucario deflected the attack, shoving his assailant away. “Now, Aura Sphere!” Swiftly, Aabha summoned a ball of aura energy and lobbed it at the Scrafty, delivering a powerful hit.
The Scrafty had a few tricks up its sleeve too. “Spite!” MacJabber ordered. Raj’s Lucario wouldn’t be throwing any more Aura Spheres in this fight.
“Blaze Kick!” MacJabber then ordered his Blaziken. With a swift flaming roundhouse kick, the Pokemon landed a mighty blow against Talavaar, pushing him back toward Aabha. Raj’s Pokemon were now surrounded. “Now, Comet Punch!” Hitmonchan moved in from the other side, ready to strike at the Lucario.
“Talavaar, Wide Guard!” Raj commanded just in time. His Gallade threw up a protective barrier around himself and the rest of his team just as a flurry of fists from Hitmonchan came flying in. Aabha was saved from the barrage of attacks, but the barrier was shattered.
Raj knew he had to think fast if he was to take advantage and turn the tide of battle back. “Sochana, High Jump Kick!” His Medicham leapt at MacJabber’s Blaziken, but it was too fast, jumping out of the way. Sochana went flying past, collapsing in a heap. The crash hurt her quite bad, but she still had fight left in her. Hang in there.
Turning back to the fight, Raj saw the Scrafty rushing Aabha. “Hurry, Counter it!” The Scrafty’s fist made contact, doing a real number on the Lucario, but it wasn’t enough to bring him down. Quickly, Aabha grabbed his attacker by the arm and used its momentum to hoist it over his shoulder. Then, with all the force he could muster, the Lucario drove the Scrafty to the ground, knocking it out cold.
The sudden roar of the crowd broke through Raj’s concentration and he became aware of the world outside the battle once more. “With an incredible counterattack, Lucario has taken Scrafty down!” the announcer exclaimed. “Now it’s two to three and Blaziken is moving in to strike! It leaps into the air and … Ooohhh, that’s a miss! That one had to hurt!”
Focusing up, Raj tried to block out everything but the battle once more. Hitmonchan was unleashing another rapid-fire Comet Punch on Aabha, but the Lucario was dodging every hit. He was wearing out, however, and Raj knew he needed to do something fast. “Talavaar, Heal Pulse!” he directed his Gallade. With a pulse of healing energy, Aabha was back in fighting shape.
Now to go on the offensive, Raj thought. “Sochana, Zen Headbutt!” Medicham charged at Hitmonchan, delivering the knockout blow. Now only Blaziken remained.
MacJabber wasn’t going to go down without a fight, though. “Blaze Kick!” the gym leader commanded. “Take out that Gallade!” His Pokemon moved to strike, but Raj wasn’t going to let it find its mark.
“Teleport out of there!” the monk commanded his Pokemon. Talavaar blipped across the ring and the Blaziken’s flaming foot cut through the air where he had been standing moments before. “Aabha, heal him up with Heal Pulse! Sochana, High Jump Kick!” Raj’s Lucario returned the healing favor to Gallade, but it was unnecessary. Leaping into the air, Sochana found her mark. With a powerful strike of her foot, the Medicham brought Blaziken down.
“Folks, I don’t believe my eyes!” the announcer shouted. “The Mysterious Monk has done it! He’s beaten MacJabber in a shocking three-o sweep!”
Raj breathed out a sigh of relief as his Pokemon gathered around him. They had done it. “Great job everyone,” he commended his team.
“It wasn’t just them.” Raj looked up to see MacJabber approaching. “You’re one hell of a trainer, you know. A lot of tough trainers have passed through here, but none of them won as decisively as you did. Congratulations.” The gym leader extended his hand, and Raj gave it a firm shank.
“Thank you,” the monk replied. “One of those trainers is the reason I have come here,” he continued. “The girl who won the other day, Alex … She is an old friend of mine and I have been trying to find her for some time.”
“Oh, yeah, the girl with that tough little Lampent,” MacJabber said. “I remember. That was an exciting battle too. I’m sorry to tell you, but their ship left just yesterday.”
A disappointed look crossed Raj’s face. “Most unfortunate,” the monk said. “But I thank you nonetheless.”
“I can look through the spaceport logs for you later to see if I can find additional information, but for now, enjoy your victory. You certainly earned it.” With that, MacJabber held up the championship belt and presented it to Raj.
The crowd cheered as Raj hoisted the belt above his head. It seemed they loved a good battle, no matter who won, and they loved to see champions claim the belt. But as he held his prize in his hands, a familiar sensation washed over Raj, and he found himself flying back through time. He could see himself battling through the challengers he had just faced. He saw himself claim the belt. But then he was flung back through time again. This time he saw the exploits of another powerful trainer, this one on a team with two others. The young man was the real star though, commanding his Nidoking with such grace and ferocity all at once. He too claimed the belt. Raj could hear him and his teammates celebrating their victory. Then, he traveled further back still. This time he witnessed Alex and her new friends fighting their way to the top too. He saw the same fight he had seen broadcasted in the bar play out before him. Once more, he saw Alex claim the belt. This time, he got to hear her celebrating with her friends, but soon he was pulled back to the present time.
The vision was over.
Raj sat cross-legged in the center of his meditation sphere, pondering his next move. He remained unsure of where to go next. Yet again, his one lead on Alex’s whereabouts had run dry. Using what authority he had as gym leader, Jerome MacJabber had looked into where the ship the girl was traveling aboard had gone to next for the monk, but that hadn’t been much help. All the gym leader was able to learn was that the ship, the UAS Helix as it was called, had traveled from the Sector 29 warp gate to Sector 9 in the Geneva Confederacy. There was no telling where it had jumped to next.
Raj had also tried meditating on the vision that the championship belt had triggered. He hoped he might be able to pick up on something he missed, a snippet of conversation that might clue him in on where that ship was heading next. That too proved to be a fruitless effort. It seemed as if Alex was always one step ahead and he had no way of catching up to her. He wished there was some way that he could reach out to her, but sadly that was not the case.
Opening his eyes, Raj looked around the minimalist living quarters of his meditation sphere. For all the technological wonders of Human civilization, the way of life of the Congregate still dictated a simple lifestyle. Over the course of his journey, Raj had found it to be more of a hindrance than anything. All it had done for him was hold him back from completing his pilgrimage.
And yet, despite his grievances, Raj realized that he would not have experienced the same journey had it not been for the constraints he was faced with. Thinking back on his years of traveling the stars, the monk recalled the places he had visited, the things he had seen, the people he had met, and, most importantly, the lessons he had learned. Even as recently as his experience in the Fighting Gym, Raj had been continuing to learn. Reflecting back now, Raj realized that lesson in patience had made all the difference in the battle against MacJabber. Instead constantly going on the attack, Raj had bided his time and played the defensive and waited for the perfect opportunity to strike.
I understand now. The revelation was like a spark in his mind that then flowed through his entire body. Raj realized that the same lesson he had learned applied not just to Pokemon battling, but to life as well. Raj had spent the weeks since realizing that Alex was a catalyst for one of his scroll visions chasing after her when he needed to be waiting for her to seek him out.
It would happen in time. In his heart, Raj knew that Alex would complete her own journey, and then she would return. He couldn’t quite explain why, but Raj knew that their paths would lead them back together. One day, Alex would return to the monastery on Vandia, and on that day he would be waiting for her. Until then, she would be alright. She was traveling with friends now, and judging from what little he had seen in his visions, he knew they would look out for her.
Raj took a deep breath, then closed his eyes. As the monk focused his psionic energies, his meditation sphere lifted off toward the stars. It was time to go home.
The leaves of the trees in the garden rustled as the light breeze teased the branches. The sun shone down from the cloudless sky, warming Raj’s skin as he sat in meditation. It was a beautiful day for it. Reaching out with his senses, the monk could feel the life surrounding him in the Ninauli Monastery garden moving with excitement. The trees and bushes swaying in the breeze, the Pidgeys playing on the wall, the Goldeen swimming in the pond. Everything was in harmony.
Raj opened his eyes as he felt someone approach. Feeling a tap on his shoulder, the monk turned his head to see Karim, one of the younger monks, standing behind him.
“Forgive me, brother Raj,” the young man said. “I did not mean to disrupt your meditations, but there is someone here to see you.” Karim motioned with his hand somewhere behind Raj.
Getting to his feet in order to turn, Raj looked in the direction the younger monk was pointing. His eyes came to rest on one of the doorways leading into the monastery from the garden where there stood a familiar figure. At long last, she had returned.
“Raj!” Alex cried out with joy as she ran across the garden to meet him. Upon reaching the monk, the girl threw her arms around him and pulled him into a tight hug.
“Hello, child,” Raj said as he returned Alex’s embrace. “It is good to see you again.”
After a moment, Alex pulled away and looked up at Raj. “I missed you,” she said. “There’s so much I want to tell you.”
Raj smiled down at the girl. “And there is much I wish to share with you, child. Perhaps we can sit together and tell the tales of our journeys.” He motioned to the spot on the ground where he had been seated moments ago.
“I would love to,” Alex said. “But first …” The girl trailed off and took a step back. “There’s someone I want you to meet.” She looked back at the doorway and Raj followed her gaze to see another girl standing there. She looked similar in age to Alex, and she had pale skin and hair that was dyed a vivid shade of green. Raj could tell that she was definitely not Sinai.
Alex motioned to the girl, who then approached. “This is my girlfriend, Naomi,” Alex explained.
“It’s very nice to meet you,” the girl said. “Alex has told me so much about you.” She then bowed her head in respect.
As Naomi leaned forward, Raj caught sight of the religious icon he had given Alex the last time he saw her hanging around her neck. Raj was surprised. He knew how sentimental Alex was and he knew she wouldn’t have given the necklace away lightly. This girl must have meant a whole lot to her. Alex was certainly at the age to begin looking for romance, but Raj hadn’t expected her to find it with another girl. However, it was not his place to judge. As long as Alex was happy, that was all that mattered.
“It is nice to meet you as well,” Raj said.
“Anyway, I’ll let you two catch up,” Naomi said, taking a step back. “If it’s alright, I’d like to take some pictures of this garden. It’s beautiful.”
Raj nodded. “I am sure that will be fine.”
“Great. Thank you.”
As Naomi walked off, Alex looked at Raj expectantly. “Well?” she asked. “What do you think of her?”
Raj smiled at Alex. “If she makes you happy, then I am happy.” He then motioned to the ground again. “Now, come. Let us sit.”
“—And then we flew away right as it ripped the planet in half!” Alex slapped her hands together for dramatic effect as she recounted the tale of her adventures.
Raj sat listening intently to the girl’s words. Her journey, it seemed, had been far more exciting and terrifying than his own. Alex had seen and done so much since they had parted ways. She had told him how she managed to pick up on her father’s trail and figure out what he had been researching when he disappeared. She told him of how she had honed her skills at making Pokeballs. She told him the story of how she had met Naomi … and how things ended poorly between them the first time. Alex also spoke about how she struggled with such setbacks in her life, and how she had pulled through.
“Your words helped guide me through it all,” the girl had told him. She removed one of her gloves to reveal the Sinai script tattooed on her arm.
Raj had recognized the words immediately. “There is no darkness without light,” he’d said, reading the phrase inscribed on Alex’s arms.
“I’ve never forgotten those words,” Alex had said before continuing her tale.
She told Raj about how she had met the crew of the UAS Helix, how she snuck aboard their ship, and how she had got tangled up in their adventures as well. It was quite incredible really. They had tangled with the Romanov Supremacy while traveling a mysterious world the ruins on Vandia had pointed them towards. Alex had captured a powerful ancient Pokemon on that planet, and she and her new friends met with Gilgamesh there. The very same monk who had helped Raj on his own journey had helped Alex as well, providing the girl with information that helped her on her mission to find her father. Alex’s new friends helped her too, and she had gone as far as the trail had lead, encountering terrifying things along the way.
There was much more to the story too. Alex helped her new friends with their mission just as they helped her. The more he heard, the more Raj realized just how important this mission was, especially when he learned that Gilgamesh’s pursuit of the same goal had led him to his death. Raj was saddened to learn of the old monk’s passing, but he realized if he was willing to die for something, then it was truly important. The Helix crew’s mission had led them to the Galactic Governance Conference, where they barely survived the tragedy that occured there, and it led them after the mysterious information broker known as Mr. Silver, who was revealed to be an ancient AI and part of an unbelievable truth … the Mewtwos. What Raj learned from Alex put the galactic conflict that had just recently ended in an entirely new context.
But even then, Alex had more to share. After escaping that first Mewtwo, she had encountered the being of the Warp known as Giratina, the one spoken of in Gilgamesh’s holoscroll. What amazed him more was that the others had already encountered it before, and it had granted its power to one of them. He was even surprised to learn that they had briefly returned to Vandia right after. He and Alex had been on the planet at the same time, but it hadn’t yet been time for them to be reunited. Alex’s journey was not yet complete.
“It all happened so fast that it wasn’t until after we got away that I realized how close it was,” Alex continued her story. She had just finished telling Raj about how they narrowly escaped Harmonia, the first of many worlds destroyed by the Mewtwos. “I almost lost Naomi again so soon after being reunited with her.”
“But the important thing is that you didn’t,” Raj told the girl.
“I know,” Alex said. “And I’m so thankful for that.” A slight smile appeared on her face as she looked over at Naomi exploring the garden. “I wouldn’t have made it through it all without her,” she then said, turning back to face Raj.
Alex then took a breath before jumping into the next part of her tale. “After we got away, we regrouped with the Red Suns,” she explained, referring to the mercenary group she said had been working with the Helix crew. “And we made our plan. They would hunt down the remaining labs while we went to I’s base to stop him.” I was the name of the agent of Mr. Silver who, among various other misdeeds, Alex explained was responsible for killing Gilgamesh. “I just wished it actually played out that way …”
“What happened?” Raj asked.
“We found I there, and we fought him, but he got away,” Alex said. “But then …” She trailed off and her whole body seemed to tense up.
“What is it?”
“My dad, Raj,” Alex said. “He was holding him there … Part of his research on Darkrai and Entropy … but he was different that I remembered. I tried to help him, but …” Alex choked on her words as tears began to drip from her eyes.”
“It is alright, child,” Raj said, placing a comforting hand on the girl’s shoulder.
Alex leaned in and pulled Raj into a hug as the tears continued to flow. “I couldn’t do it, Raj. I couldn’t save him. And he— he killed himself right in front of me. I can still see his face … and all the blood and …”
Raj hugged Alex tighter as she sobbed. “I am sorry you had to go through that,” the monk told her.
“No, I’m sorry,” Alex said suddenly. “I failed you. I couldn’t do what set out to do, and then I gave up.”
“It wasn’t your fault,” Raj assured her.
Alex pulled away and looked him right in the eye. “But I wanted to die,” she said. “After everything you did for me and everything you taught me, I tried to end my life again.”
“But you didn’t,” Raj pointed out. “You are still here to tell the tale. You are still alive.”
A faint smile appeared on Alex’s face. “You’re right, as always. My friends were there for me. Naomi was there for me. I’m here because of them.”
Raj smiled back. “Then I am glad you were with them.”
There was a long moment of silence before Alex continued her story. “We found even more on that station,” the girl said. “We found the Eye of Aether that Gilgamesh was looking for, and it led us to another world. It was cold and snowy there, and we found something incredible there.”
“What was it?”
“A man. The first man. Adám. The one from the stories you used to read to me. He was frozen away on that world, sleeping for all time.”
A look of shock and surprise crossed Raj’s face at the girl’s words, but he remained silent. He did not wish to interrupt.
“We learned so much from Adám,” Alex continued. “The stories weren’t entirely right, you know.”
“What do you mean?” Raj asked.
“The stories in the Bible,” Alex said. “They got some things wrong. Adám was the first Human, but Eve was his Pokemon partner, not his wife. The Mewtwos created Humans and Pokemon to grow alongside each other, and when they were ready, they were supposed to join together and ascend as Mewtwos themselves. But then Cain, Adám’s son, ruined everything, like the Bible said. Unlike in the story, though, Abel was his Pokemon partner. Cain was jealous and killed Abel for his power, and he tried to ascend before he was ready. He nearly destroyed the whole Universe before the Mewtwos defeated him, and because of what he did they decided to begin the cycles …” Alex trailed off, pausing to catch her breath, and looked expectantly at Raj.
“This is a lot to take in,” Raj said after several moments of silence. “The Congregate would denounce these words as heresy, but I have no reason to doubt you. If you say this is true, then I believe you.”
“You sound like Gilgamesh,” Alex said, letting out a slight laugh.
Raj smiled, then nodded at Alex. “Please, continue.”
“We tried to get Adám to help us, but he didn’t want to get involved,” Alex said. “But he did offer us words of wisdom. The thing he said that stuck with me was that we needed to give up the power we had to show the Mewtwos that Humans have the potential to be better. Shane gave up the powers he got from Giratina, and I even made a new type of Pokeball that doesn’t force Pokemon to be obedient, and I freed all my Pokemon from their old balls.”
“That was very brave of you,” Raj said. “I know how much your Pokemon mean to you.”
“If it meant helping to save Humanity, it was worth it,” Alex said.
“You have grown so much since the last time we met,” Raj told the girl. “You have wisdom beyond your years.”
“Well, I don’t know about that,” Alex said somewhat sheepishly. “I just want to help.”
“That is what makes you a good person.”
“Thank you, but I don’t think the Mewtwos saw it that way. We still had to fight them. But somehow we got the Federation and the Romanovs to work together to defend Humanity. Somehow that I guy was chosen by Mr. Silver guy, to ascend to be the leader of the Mewtwos, and they all attacked together. I lost Leviathan in that fight, but somehow we did it. We showed the Mewtwos that Mr. Silver’s way was wrong, defeated I, and gave Humanity a chance. The Mewtwos gave us fifty years to prove that Humans can change, that we deserve another chance,” Alex paused for a moment, seeming to be deep in thought. “I just hope we can do it,” she finally said.
Raj smiled at the girl. “I am certain that we will if you continue to lead the charge.”
“Do you really think so?” Alex asked.
Raj nodded. “I do. It was certainly not chance that brought us together. I see now why you are one of the subjects of my scroll.”
“Your scroll?” Alex asked. “What does that have to do with me?
Raj pulled out his unfinished holoscroll and placed it on the ground between them. “It took me so long to figure out the meaning of my vision in the Grand Monastery. It showed me three figures, but I was unable to understand what I was supposed to do … that is until I met Gilgamesh. There was more to our meeting than what I told you earlier. He and I meditated together, and that’s when I received the first vision. The first figure was him. That was when I learned that the three catalysts for my scroll visions were people.”
“That’s incredible,” Alex said in amazement. “But how could I possibly be one of those people? I’m nobody. I’m nothing.”
“Do not say such things, child,” Raj said. “You are everything. Very few have accomplished what you have. You have seen things that most people can only hope to dream about. There is no doubt in my mind that you are destined to be recorded by this scroll.” The monk briefly glanced down at the scroll, then looked Alex directly in the eye. “Please, allow me to try.”
Alex’s smile soon returned. “Alright,” she said. “If you think it will help, then I will do whatever I can. What do you need me to do?”
“Just relax,” Raj told her. “Close your eyes and clear your mind, just like I taught you.”
As Alex sat still and motionless, Raj took in a deep breath, then reached his hand out to her. The monk closed his eyes and focused on the girl’s aura, just as he had done with Gilgamesh years ago. Connecting with Alex’s aura was a far different experience however. Her aura was turbulent, flowing with so much emotion. Happiness. Sadness. Fear. Hope. Love. They all burned so brightly, so brilliantly.
Through this swirling mass of emotion, Raj saw a figure appear in his mind, the very same beckoning figure he had seen so many time before. The big brown eyes, the long flowing hair, the small, slender frame. He could see her as clear as if his eyes were open. Then the swirling images that had surrounded Alex in Raj’s visions began to become clear. He saw a girl who for so long had suffered, a girl looking simply to feel accepted, to find somewhere to belong. This girl found what she was looking for in a group of unlikely strangers, brought together by fate to save Humanity. Together, they traveled the stars, seeing things no one had ever seen, learning the truth no one had ever learned, and, finally, after so much time searching, the girl finally found what she was looking for, the family she had always wanted.
Eventually, the image of Alex faded back into the swirling chaos. Raj opened his eyes to see the girl looking at him expectantly. “Well?” she asked. “Did it work?”
“See for yourself,” Raj answered, glancing down at his holoscroll. The large psionic crystal at its center now glowed just as bright as the first. Due to its larger size, however, far more light radiated out from it.
“Wow,” Alex gasped in amazement. “It really was me after all.”
Raj smiled at the girl. “You do not give yourself enough credit.”
“Do you know who the last person is?” she then asked, shrugging off the compliment.
“I am afraid not.”
“Well, whoever they are, I’ll help you find them,” Alex said. “It’s the least I can do after all that you’ve done for me.”
“Thank you, child, but perhaps it does not matter. After all that I have learned from you, what I saw in my vision just now …” Raj trailed off as he tried to make sense of his thoughts. “I do not believe the council will accept such a scroll.”
“Well screw them,” Alex said. Raj could see the passion burning in her eyes. “You are one of the wisest people I have ever met, and if they can’t see that then they don’t deserve to hear what you have to say.”
“Perhaps you are right,” Raj said. “I understand now why Gilgamesh left the order. I believe that is time for me to, as he would say, find my own path. If the Congregate will not see the truth that you have shown me, then I shall dedicate myself to pursuing the truth without them.”
At that moment, everything became clear to Raj. His senses fell from him as a vision overcame him. He saw he swirling indistinguishable images all around him. Out from the chaos strode the third and final figure, striding forward to a goal that Raj could now see clearly. It was the truth. The figure’s features were now so familiar to the monk; they were his own. Slowly, the swirling images began to slow, and Raj could see them clearly now. He saw a man searching the stars, but for what the man knew not. This man was so busy searching that he could not see what was in front him. However, in time, the man began to learn, and the truth eventually became clear. Raj could see now that this man was himself. His destiny was in his own hands now.
Raj opened his eyes once again to see all three psionic crystals embedded in his scroll glowing brightly. At long last, his journey was complete. Scroll in hand, he stood up and stretched, feeling the lightness of his being. It was if a burden had been lifted off his shoulders, one that had been weighing him down for far too long.
“What happened?” Alex asked, looking up at him curiously.
“I saw the truth,” Raj said, shifting his gaze from the scroll to look at the girl as she got to her feet. “It was me all along.” A smile appeared on the monk’s face and a slight laugh escaped his mouth.
“What’s so funny?” Alex asked.
“Just something Gilgamesh said to me,” Raj explained.
“What was it?”
“‘We often find the truth where we least expect it.’”
Author’s Notes: Holy crap, this thing is finally done. What a way to finally conclude the Profiles series. This was actually one of the earliest ideas DragonStorm and I came up with for the series, but I knew it had to be the final one because of how it falls on the timeline. I remember the conversation clearly. The two of us were studying for one of our finals for our final semester of college and spitballing ideas for the different Profiles. When we were discussing ideas for Raj, we decided on taking the pilgrimage briefly mentioned at the end of the second part of Alex’s origin story and actually explain what the hell it actually was. We also thought of the holoscroll briefly mentioned in Gilgamesh’s appearance in Volume 2 and decided to do the same for that. In the time between when we had that conversation and when I finally finished writing this, the idea of the holoscroll pilgrimage has become one of the most important facets of Spacemon lore. The concept has been expanded upon so much in Gilgamesh’s profile, in Frontier, and in the eventual sequel series that will be coming.
This was a tough one to write, but one that had one of the clearest concepts from the beginning. The goal was to dig into what going on a pilgrimage to create a holoscroll is all about, and to show a deeply personal journey of growth and self-discovery. Our initial concept for pilgrimages had the vision triggers usually being objects or locations, but for Raj we wondered what it would be like if his were all people. Then we had to go about choosing who the people were. Gilgamesh was an easy pick given his importance, but the other two were less obvious at first. Needing the second one be Alex became clear soon after given Raj’s connection to her, but the last one was much harder. As soon as DragonStorm made the suggestion for it to be Raj himself, I knew that was the way to go.
I think having Raj do gym battles along his journey was DragonStorm’s idea as well. We thought it would be a good way to show Raj learning about himself along the way. In writing, I actually simulated the battles to make them easier to write. The initial plan was for Raj to lost both battles, but after multiple simulations, Raj beat MacJabber every time, despite level disadvantage. The type matchups just leaned in his favor more, and his team turned out to synergize really well in that battle format. I’m actually really happy with how it turned out. I like how it shows him learning from his past mistakes to come out on top.
There’s a lot of other fun details in here too, but I’ll let you find them on your own, mostly because I don’t want to ramble. I hope you enjoyed the read despite the necessary length, and thanks for riding along for this seven part series!
That does it for this series, both Profiles, and the original campaign story as a whole. As always the Spacemon gang and I will be monitoring the comments to foster discussion and answer any questions. Feel free to give feedback and critiques of the writing so I can improve it for the future, or just leave a comment with what you think about what went down in this chapter or what you think might happen next! You can also revisit past chapters, check out the Spacemon Appendix which is a repository of information on all the lore and characters of Spacemon, or like our Facebook page to stay updated on all things Spacemon! Click here to check out the stories set between the original series and the eventual sequel!