I get the call as I stand outside the Anistar Gym. It’s time for the main event.
Lysandre has sent out a broadcast to all the trainers of Kalos via their Holo-Casters: as leader of Team Flare (Gasp! Can it be true? He seemed so nice!), he is putting into motion their plan to create a beautiful new world at last. This plan involves the annihilation of Kalos’ entire population in a conflagration of epic proportions from which only Team Flare will be spared. Well, that… is a bit more extreme than I thought he would be aiming for, I admit; I was anticipating something of a more ambiguous John-Keats-Ode-on-a-Grecian-Urn-perfection-through-stasis kind of deal but hey, it wouldn’t be a Pokémon plot if we didn’t have to prevent the apocalypse, right? Okay; let’s get this show on the road, people! To Paris!
Luckily, Lysandre is the least subtle person in the world and is putting his plan into motion from the laboratory which shares his name, beneath the café in Lumiose City which also shares his name. The wait staff at the café are members of Team Flare, and try to stop me from entering, which goes about as well as might be expected.
“Oh no! He’ll find out the password to the hidden door in this café is ‘open sesame’!”
…okay, well, I was going to torture it out of you but I guess this works too. Y’know, as long as we’re all disappointing me today. I enter Lysandre Labs through the secret door, and Lysandre himself appears. That’s… refreshingly direct. Lysandre explains that he once wanted to save everyone, but is no longer concerned with that – the world has only so much in the way of resources and space, and too many people are too willing to squander it, so he’s just going to wipe out everyone who isn’t in his club. He still seems open to the possibility of my joining him, but I shake my head and sigh that he just doesn’t get what I’m all about. Lysandre challenges me, opening with a Mienfoo who loses to Odysseus, but not before delivering a pretty brutal Hi Jump Kick which leaves him wide open to Lysandre’s next and strongest Pokémon, a powerful Gyarados. Gyarados locks itself into Outrage while finishing my Clawitzer, giving me the opportunity to send in Orion to weather its attacks, take advantage of its confusion to grab a Calm Mind boost, Digivolve and blow away Lysandre’s remaining Pokémon – a Murkrow and a Pyroar (the first male Pyroar I’ve seen – and a very impressive one it is too; it matches his hair very nicely). Far from being upset, Lysandre is delighted at my skill and invites me to invade his lab, challenge his scientists for possession of an elevator key, and join him below in the basement to stop him if I can. If nothing else, he’s certainly one of the most polite villains I’ve ever met.
Lysandre Labs is a very traditional Team Rocket-esque warp panel maze. Here I meet all four of the Team Flare scientists. Aliana just seems excited to battle me again. Celosia and Bryony (are these two, like, a thing? I feel like these two are girlfriends or something) have apparently forgotten me but are nice enough to explain after being defeated that the menhirs of Geosenge Town are the graves of Pokémon whose life force fuelled the ultimate weapon the last time it was used, three thousand years ago (what did I tell you? Ritual!), and will fuel it again today. Mable, finally, claims that since both my Digivice and Lysandre’s ultimate weapon maximise a Pokémon’s power, we really want the same thing. Well, not exactly; I feel there are certain important differences, like how the ultimate weapon destroys all civilisation while my Digivice makes Pokémon go pink and sparkly… which makes me feel rather inferior, when you put it that way. I take out my frustrations on Mable, who coughs up the elevator key when defeated. I also run into Left and Right, doing their superhero thing, and apparently searching for a mysterious tall man, also sought by Team Flare for purposes unknown. They are doing this on the instructions of Professor Sycamore, who is trying to stop Lysandre using his “network of acquaintances.” Professor Sycamore… who is one of Lysandre’s closest friends. Ouch. I wonder how he’s taking all of this. As I muse on this, I stumble upon what appears to be Lysandre’s research library. Well, I am kinda busy… but on the other hand, books and backstory… The ultimate weapon, as we know, was created three thousand years ago by a Kalosian king. This king, I learn here, was named AZ (yes, with a capital Z), who was “both the beginning and the end,” and united Kalos with his futuristic technology. The famous war was between AZ and his brother (Lysandre’s ancestor, if memory serves), who wanted to conquer Kalos, and resulted in the death of AZ’s Pokémon partner, which sent him into a deep depression and caused him to use the ultimate weapon to end the war. AZ’s brother changed his mind about his conquest after seeing the devastation this caused, and buried the weapon, while AZ himself disappeared, taking the device’s key with him. The texts describing the weapon conclude: “that is something to be used by sophisticated powers, not by humans. Human beings must create a world where such a weapon is unnecessary…” Indeed, Lysandre’s own notes on the subject decide that “this is something best not left to man… I must use a tool of higher power.” He’s got quite an ego on him, acknowledging the significance of the powers he’s tampering with but doing it anyway. Do I detect just a hint of a messiah complex here?
Back at the elevator, I descend to the next floor, where I find Lysandre standing in front of a prison cell. Inside is… the old guy! The one from outside Lumiose City, who was looking for the ‘flower Pokémon’! I had totally forgotten about him! Only the… thing from around his neck is missing… the… thing that looked kind of like a… key…
Lysandre confirms that this is, indeed, AZ (well, Lysandre only says that he has the same name as the ancient king, but let’s face it, it would hardly be the weirdest thing that’s happened this week if it were really the same guy). He tells his story, accompanied by a series of colour images. Apparently the ultimate weapon wasn’t originally a weapon at all – it was a resurrection machine, created to bring back AZ’s partner, a shiny Floette like mine, but whose flower was a unique black tulip (ah… “the flower Pokémon that was given eternal life”…). It succeeded, at the cost of the lives of hundreds of other Pokémon, and AZ’s rage subsequently made him twist it into a weapon that slaughtered countless more. His partner, saddened by his actions, abandoned him – and he’s been looking for her ever since, the weapon’s power having rendered them both immortal. Well, there you go. Trying to cheat death does not end well; just ask Orpheus, or Gilgamesh. Lysandre doesn’t seem interested in taking AZ’s advice to leave the weapon buried, but has an intriguing suggestion: he’ll leave it up to me whether the weapon is used or not. My interest piqued, I follow him to the next floor of the building, where a fifth and final scientist, a rotund red-haired man in goggles named Xerosic, who seems to have wanted a mohawk but had difficulty committing, is waiting for us. Lysandre explains his terms: beat Xerosic, who wants a battle to test my skill, and I can decide what happens next. He then leaves me in the scientist’s capable hands. Xerosic is stronger than the other scientists, but his Crobat and Malamar still fail to defeat Odysseus and Pytho, so he gleefully explains the game: I can press either the red button or the blue button. One will activate the ultimate weapon, and the other will shut it down.
But this is so simple! All I have to do is divine from what I know of Xerosic – is he the sort of person who would have the ultimate weapon be triggered by the blue button or by the red one? Now, a clever man would have the blue button trigger the weapon, because he would know that only a great fool would press the big red button. I’m not a great fool, so I clearly cannot press the blue button. But after all I’ve done to thwart Team Flare he must have known I’m not a great fool – he would have counted on it, so I clearly cannot press the red button. But then again, blue is the colour of sadness and sorrow, the sorrow that would be brought by the activation of the weapon, so I clearly cannot choose the blue button – and he must have suspected I would have known this, so I clearly cannot press the red button either! I’ve defeated Team Flare’s minions and his own Pokémon, so Xerosic knows I am exceptionally powerful, and he could have set the red one to trigger the weapon, trusting in my overconfidence to make me push the big red button, so I clearly cannot press this one. But he is also a genius scientist, which means he must have studied, and in studying he must have learned that red is a colour of warning which my instincts would lead me to avoid, and connected the weapon instead to the blue button, so I clearly cannot press that one either! Xerosic just smiles serenely at me as I explain all of this, like he thinks he’s keeping his secrets, but he’s given everything away; I know which button activates the weapon! He’s fallen victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is “never get involved in a land war in Ransei,” but only slightly less well known is this: “never go in against a Pokémaniac when the fate of the world is on the line!” I stride confidently up to the blue button- and spin around suddenly, pointing towards the stairs behind Xerosic.
“Good lord!” I exclaim, “is that a shiny Chansey?” He turns and squints in the direction of the stairs, as I dash quickly to the other side of the room, smack the red button with the palm of my hand, and run back to the blue button before he can see me. Xerosic turns around again and smiles.
“You guessed wrong.” I throw back my head and cackle gleefully.
“You only think I guessed wrong! I ran across and pressed the other button while your back was turned, you fool!”
“No,” Xerosic says, “no, you actually did guess wrong. Just look. The poisonous flower has bloomed!” He points at a big monitor hanging on the wall, where the ultimate weapon, an enormous crystal flower, is emerging from the ground beneath Geosenge Town and beginning to gather its dread energies.
Slowly turning back to Xerosic, I smile sweetly at him and ask “Best of three?”
Ridiculous quote log:
“The warp panels transport both happiness and sadness in equal measure.”
I guess that’s true – happiness for me; sadness for you.