Anonymous asks:

Personally, I do see the Kalos Trio being based off of Norse Mythology, but more generalized, and not drawing inspiration from just the one myth. Like, eagles in general are associated with death in Norse mythology. Not just Hraesvelgr, but other beings such as the God of Death (who turns into an eagle), and the Blood Eagle ritual. (Also, Zygarde is more Jormungand than Nidhogg, with its other two forms likely being based off Fenrir and Hel.) Those are just my thoughts: you’re free to disagree.

Let the disagreement commence. [rolls up sleeves, cracks knuckles]

It is honestly baffling to me that this idea is so widely and unquestioningly accepted, because personally, I don’t think I’ve ever been less convinced by a Pokémon fan theory in my life.  I don’t even understand why people look at Yveltal and think “eagle.”  The “ruff” around its neck is almost certainly meant to make us think “vulture,” which is a much easier association with death.  Stags can be associated with nature without having to bring Norse mythology into it; birds of prey or carrion birds can be associated with death without having to bring Norse mythology into it; insisting that Norse mythology has anything to do with these Pokémon makes the concept weaker and more confusing. Continue reading “Anonymous asks:”

VikingBoyBilly asks:

What do you think of the new formes of Zygarde that were revealed? They turned him into Cell from DBZ.

Oddly enough, Dragon Ball Z’s Cell is not what leaps out at me, though I certainly wouldn’t want to rule him out as a possible influence.  Conceptually, the way Zygarde’s forms are described – scattered cells that operate independently, gaining full power when they reunite – that reminds me, more than anything else, of Jenova from Final Fantasy VII.  The black and green colour scheme, the notion of many individual units working as one under a single intelligence, along with Zygarde’s existing designation as the Order Pokémon… well, that, bizarrely enough, calls to my mind Star Trek’s Borg Collective.  The red and blue elements of Zygarde’s “perfect” form hint at Yveltal and Xerneas being somehow absorbed (or assimilated? :-p) into it – which sounds like Cell, I admit, but is already something that exists in Pokémon, in the person of Kyurem’s augmented forms.  In any case… all this possibly has interesting symbolic resonance with Zygarde’s presumed role as guardian of Kalos’ ecosystem, in that Zygarde is itself, apparently, a self-contained ecosystem of sorts, a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.  A strikingly appropriate theme for the “Order Pokémon,” I think.

Also, I feel compelled to note that Bulbapedia seems to have decided that Zygarde’s dog and humanoid forms are based (in line with the Norse mythology theme that someone decreed back when X and Y were released) on Jormungandr’s siblings, Fenrir and Hel, respectively.  Hel, the goddess of the underworld, who was a beautiful woman above the waist and a rotting corpse below.  I mean, okay, maybe this is what they’re referencing, but if so, they’re doing it badly.  It’s a stretch, for me.  Presumably if Zygarde’s “10%” form were a goat, people would be saying it was based on Tanngniost and Tanngrisnir; if it were a horse, people would point at Sleipnir; if it were a boar, people would point to Gullinbursti.  I have little patience for that whole conceptual house of cards.

Anonymous asks:

What’s your favorite Legendary Pokémon, and why? We all know it’s not Rayquaza (because of Emerald) or Arceus (because of The Jewel of Life), but which one’s your favorite (or favorites, in the case of duos or trios)?

That’s a hard one… You’re right that it’s not Arceus because Jewel of Life can rot in hell, and also because the whole “god Pokémon” thing just does stuff to the setting that I don’t really like, and which I’m not convinced anyone ever thought through.  It’s also not Rayquaza, although I actually feel that Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby quite satisfactorily redeem the mess that was made of Rayquaza’s involvement in Emerald (though Deoxys is just a total Giant Space Flea from Nowhere).  I like the designs of Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres, but I’m less keen on the fact that (in the games at least) they have nothing to do with anything.  Similarly, I’m fond of Cobalion, Virizion and Terrakion’s backstory, which I think is really interesting, but I was incredibly underwhelmed by how little they had to do with the story of Black and White, considering how directly invested they are in the ideological conflict behind the plot.  You know, all things considered, I actually might go with Xerneas and Yveltal as joint winners; the designs are really evocative, they enabled an interesting story with some cool themes in X and Y, and the way they’re described hits a good spot on the “cosmic power” scale, where you can appreciate that these things might have region-wide significance, but they don’t necessarily place the power to unmake the universe in the hands of a ten-year-old trainer the way Dialga and Palkia do.

Xerneas and Yveltal

Xerneas.

To my amazement, we’re already coming quite close to the end.  Only a handful of Pokémon from eastern Kalos remain, then I’ll have to think of something else to pass the time until I pick up Alpha Sapphire or Omega Ruby (at the moment it’s looking like I’ll finally do that series on the rival characters that I’ve been putting off forever).  Meanwhile, my unfathomable whims decree that now is the time to take on the flagship Pokémon of X and Y: the divine guardian of life and the terrifying shadow of death, Xerneas and Yveltal.  I’m not even going to bother talking about stats or moves or any of that nonsense; I know I usually do, but you really don’t need me to tell you that these things are godlike, right?  Stick some attacks on them and go commit brutal murder; whatever.  I’mma talk about themes and stuff.

I will admit, I was not terribly inspired by these two when they first appeared in the teaser trailer for X and Y last year.  “Wait, so they’re… based on the letters X and Y?” I asked myself.  “What?  Why would you- what does that add?  What is the point of that?”  I’m still not really sold on the alphabet thing, and only partly because it led to that ridiculous line where Professor Sycamore says the only thing he knows about Xerneas is that it “resembles the letter X.”  No, it doesn’t; it resembles a massive f#%$ing stag.  I suppose there doesn’t really need to be any point to it, though – there was no reason for Palkia to associated with pearls and Dialga with diamonds, and Xerneas and Yveltal have plenty of other significance to them.  It’s just rather strange, after the previous generation used the titles Black and White to tie in with the Yin-Yang ideas and the themes of balance and duality that those games were so insistently pushing, that the best anyone can come up with for X and Y is that Game Freak and Nintendo were just really proud of their 3D graphics.  It wouldn’t exactly surprise me, and it even makes some sort of sense with Y conventionally representing the vertical dimension (Yveltal can fly) while X and Z are the two horizontal dimensions (Xerneas and Zygarde have two different modes of earthbound movement), but it’s not really a satisfying conclusion.  Maybe it was just coincidence that the titles and associated legendary mascot themes of Black and White worked so well – or maybe there’s something tremendously dramatic planned for Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby (which, of course, also include letters of… well, an alphabet) that will make sense of everything; I don’t know.  In any case, that’s not what I most want to talk about here, and again, I don’t think it matters.  Their curious alphabetic structures do nothing to detract from Xerneas’ obvious majesty or Yveltal’s palpable malice.  These are Pokémon who know which notes they want to strike, and do so quite effectively.  What I really want to do with this entry, for the most part, is take apart the Norse mythology interpretation of Xerneas and Yveltal that seems to have so thoroughly convinced the internet.

 Yveltal.

At some point shortly after that first trailer, someone latched onto a variety of figures from Scandinavian myth, primarily inhabitants of the great ash Yggdrasil, as the most likely source of inspiration for Xerneas and Yveltal’s designs, and I think everyone’s just had trouble letting go of that idea – sometimes to the exclusion of all common sense.  Personally I struggle to find much merit in the interpretation.  It sounds really clever when you take it as a whole because it gives you an eagle, a stag and a snake that all have something in common (a tie to Yggdrasil), but the individual identifications make little to no sense.  The original argument seems to have wanted Xerneas to be based on a quartet of stags who live in the branches of the World Tree and feed on its leaves.  They are described in the Grimnismal (Sayings of Grimnir), one of the poems that make up the Poetic Edda, the major surviving body of pre-Christian Norse myth.  Nothing else is known about them aside from their names: Dain, “the Dead One,” Dvalin, “the Slumberer,” Duneyr, whose name’s exact meaning is uncertain but possibly something like “Murmur,” and Durathror, who is again obscure but perhaps means “Delay.”  These, of course, all make such perfect sense for a Pokémon whose raison d’être is to invigorate life, particularly “the Dead One,” that it’s hard to believe anyone could doubt there is a connection.  The idea also seems to have circulated that each stag had a different coloured gem in its horns – red, yellow, blue and purple, the colours of the glowing projections in Xerneas’ horns – but as far as I can find there’s actually… like… no evidence for that… anywhere… so yeah.  Yveltal, similarly, is linked to an eagle who roosts at the top of Yggdrasil, a figure to whom the Eddas do not even give a name, and spends his days insulting the dragon Nidhoggr (who lives at the bottom of the tree and gnaws on its roots), by way of a squirrel messenger named Ratatoskr.  Like the four stags, the eagle forms part of the scenery of the World Tree but is otherwise not a terribly important figure, and, also like the four stags, seems to be the subject of an erroneous detail that seems to have been concocted to make the whole concept seem more likely – namely, someone seems to have put it about at some point that the mythical eagle was blind (…it wasn’t) and suggested this as an explanation for Yveltal’s unsettling blue eyes.  Finally, again like the four stags, it’s difficult to see what the Yggdrasil eagle could have given to Yveltal other than simply being a mythical bird of prey.  He’s not really linked with death or destruction, any more than the stags are linked with life.

Bulbapedia offers related alternatives to each, which do little to improve my estimation of the idea.  Yveltal, in their view, might be based on Hraesvelgr, a giant who takes the form of an eagle and lives at the edge of the world; I think the main attraction is his badass name, which means ‘Corpse-Swallower.’  This guy is a seriously obscure character.  He’s attested in a poem called the Vafthrudnismal (or Sayings of Vafthrudnir), another part of the Poetic Edda, which is basically about Odin asking the giant Vafthrudnir stupid questions.  Odin’s ninth question is “where does wind come from?” and Vafthrudnir answers “there’s a huge f#$%ing eagle-giant at the edge of the world who flaps his wings really hard” (that is, of course, my own literal translation from the Old Norse, or whatever this stuff is supposed to be written in).  The later Prose Edda quotes this passage word-for-word, and that is the sum total of what Hraesvelgr does in the extant Norse texts; how he got his sinister name is never touched on.  You may as well just say Yveltal is based on a really big eagle.  Similarly tenuous links are drawn from Xerneas to the great stag Eikthyrnir, who stands on the roof of Valhalla chewing branches of Yggdrasil and distilling the sap into the water that supplies the world’s rivers.  This one, I will grant you, actually does make some degree of sense because Eikthyrnir, like Xerneas, is a sort of wellspring of life, in the form of fresh water, though I would rather expect Xerneas to have water-related powers if that were the case – I mean, it’s not like you need a lot of justification to put something in a legendary Pokémon’s movepool, and this is literally the only thing we know about the character being identified as the inspiration for Xerneas.

 The four stags, Dain, Dvalin, Duneyr and Durathror.

All of this was discussed ad nauseam before X and Y were ever actually released.  People thus inferred that the third legendary Pokémon, whom we now know as Zygarde, would be based on Nidhoggr, and successfully predicted that it would therefore be serpentine (seriously, though, it had to have a Z-shaped body; what else could it possibly have been?).  In some ways this is the most appealing identification to me because a terrible serpent who lives underground certainly sounds like Nidhoggr, and the –garde termination could well be a reference to Asgard and Midgard (though it could equally just refer to Zygarde’s position as, well, a guardian).  In other ways it actually makes the least sense of the lot because, rather than simply being generally nondescript like most of the other beings we’ve talked about, Nidhoggr has enough of a personality to be strongly opposed to the role Game Freak appear to have in mind for Zygarde.  He’s described as “the Order Pokémon” and is supposed to be a guardian of balance in Kalos’ ecosystem, which sounds as though he’s supposed to fill a Rayquaza-like role in checking the excesses of both Xerneas and Yveltal (since overabundant life and unchecked destruction could both devastate an ecosystem; the way his ability relates to theirs reinforces this idea).  Nidhoggr, by contrast, is a far more malevolent character than any of the minor figures suggested as an inspiration for Yveltal; he spends his time chewing on the corpses of the dishonoured dead in Hel, and seems to be one of the figures on the side of evil and chaos in Ragnarok, the Norse apocalypse.  If Zygarde is based on Nidhoggr, why isn’t he the Pokémon who symbolises death instead of Yveltal?  Similar attempts to locate Zygarde’s origins with the World Serpent Jormungandr – the arch-enemy of the universally loved and admired Thor, and a major player in bringing about the end of the world – are, if anything, even worse.  In any case, there will be more on Zygarde when he gets his own entry.

Finally, just to cap it all off, people point at Xerneas’ dormant form – a white tree – and say “ooh, look, it’s clearly a reference to Yggdrasil.”  Xerneas is a stag, for heaven’s sake; stags being associated with trees and forests is really nothing unusual; it’s certainly not specific to Norse myth.  Besides, where does that leave Yveltal’s cocoon?  There’s no reason Yveltal couldn’t have lain dormant as a black tree, and if Yggdrasil were really as important a unifier as this concept makes out, it would have made a great deal of sense, whereas a cocoon doesn’t give you anything to work with.

The Yggdrasil eagle, along with the hawk that inexplicably roosts between its eyes (the hawk, evidently, was important enough to be given a name - Vedrfolnir.).

 

So, now that I’ve spent all this time picking apart why I don’t think the currently popular mythological identifications work, am I now going to present something much cleverer that explains Xerneas and Yveltal perfectly?  No, actually, I’m not.  I’m really not sure there is one.  Legendary Pokémon are not usually based on specific mythological characters in this way; with a few notable exceptions, they more often tend to be the Pokémon world’s expression of generalised archetypes.  They may very well relate to mythological characters, but in most cases (again, with notable exceptions) I don’t think trying to pin them on specific characters from specific mythologies is a productive exercise.  In fact, you can count on one hand the number of specific mythological figures who are clearly identifiable in the designs of legendary Pokémon: the phoenix (Ho-oh), and the Japanese gods Fujin, Raijin and Inari (Tornadus, Thundurus and Landorus).  I suppose you can also argue the nine Muses for Meloetta, Nike for Victini, or the golem of Prague for Regigigas and friends, but I don’t think those are nearly as solid.  We don’t actually need an answer to this question.  There’s nothing that should lead us to expect that there is one.  If we have to find a mythological antecedent for them, I rather prefer the idea that the forces represented by Xerneas, Zygarde and Yveltal correspond to the three deities of the Hindu Trimurti, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva – or, more accurately, not to the deities themselves but to the forces they represent, creation, preservation and destruction.The idea that Yveltal is a reference to the Black Death, I’m also fairly partial to; first of all, it’s got ‘death’ in the name, and although Game Freak shied away from actually calling Yveltal “the Death Pokémon” (going for “Destruction” instead), it’s pretty clear that that’s what it is, in opposition to Xerneas, “the Life Pokémon.”  The Black Death is generally understood to have been caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis – starts with a Y, which is apparently one of Yveltal’s defining features.  Like Yveltal, the Black Death appeared mysteriously to ravage a huge region centuries ago, then vanished just as mysteriously (and, if certain current ideas about the Justinian Plague of 6th century Byzantium are to be believed, it had already done so once before).  Locating such a Pokémon in a European region would also make sense.  The physical designs of Xerneas and Yveltal, though, I think were dictated partly by the X/Y theme and partly by the general feeling the designers wanted to get across.  Stags appear in a lot of fiction as guardians and avatars of nature – look no further than the stag-like forest spirit from Princess Mononoke, whom I would accept as a possible influence on Xerneas far more readily than Eikthyrnir – and Xerneas’ rainbow horns evoke the vibrancy and diversity of life.  Birds of prey can descend from the sky to snatch life away without warning, an unsettling trait that is reflected in stories found around the world of giant birds that can prey on people, like the Roc and the Thunderbird.  Xerneas and Yveltal are best seen as the Pokémon universe’s take on these broader ideas, not as attempts to ape specific mythological animals whose stories don’t even fit them.

That isn’t exactly the way I envisioned this entry going; I suppose dissecting these mythological identifications was more important to me than I realised, and in fact I’m coming to realise I haven’t actually said much about Xerneas and Yveltal themselves.  A quick assessment to finish, then.  Life and death were bold choices, and I feel there’s a lot more room to play with this story than we saw in X and Y – Zygarde will doubtless complicate the relationship between these forces a great deal.  The designs are perhaps a little over-the-top, even in comparison to previous legendary Pokémon – I mean, Xerneas is almost literally “rainbow crystal stag Jesus” – but they certainly work.  They also led to the creation of an interesting kind of threat in Team Flare and Lysandre, although I’m on the record as believing that Lysandre isn’t nearly as morally ambiguous as the game seems to think he is.  In short – if you ask me, these Pokémon work.

Epilogue: Empire Arisen

“Mmm… make the backrest reach a little higher on the left hand side.  And have a little bit of greenery growing from the right armrest.  Don’t forget to keep the seat nice and smooth!”  Xerneas and Ilex the Venusaur roll their eyes, continuing to fine-tune the wooden throne they are magically growing for me.  ‘The Elite Four all have thrones,’ had been my reasoning; ‘how would it look if I didn’t get one?’  All right; I will concede, in hindsight, that the gigantic living oak growing up through the heart of the cathedral of the Elite Four was a slight extravagance, but one has to look the part.  Nothing says ‘strong on environmental issues’ like a giant magic tree overflowing with the essence of Life itself, and nothing says ‘crazed despot’ like an outlandish throne.

Come to think of it, maybe I was sending some mixed signals there.

“See if you can get some fungus growing on there.  Maybe a little bit of mistletoe as well.  And some deadly nightshade.”  Ilex gives a low bellow in response.  “I know it’s not an epiphyte!  Just give it a shot, okay?”  A long, slow rumbling noise.  It’s understandable, really.  They’ve been nothing but patient and indulgent, but they think I’m ridiculous for spending so much time on these trappings – for their own ‘thrones’ on either side of mine, they chose cushions of soft, green moss.  As I muse on this, there is a loud thunk from below as the elevator to my chamber starts to rise.  I give an excited whoop and gesture rapidly to Xerneas and Ilex.  “That’ll be our guest!  Positions!  Positions, quickly!”  They move to settle down in their places on either side of my throne, as I leap into it and twist around into my prepared lounging pose, one foot on the floor, the other dangling over an armrest, one arm propping up my lazily cocked head, my other hand idly playing with my Digivice.  I immediately regret that I haven’t had time to practice the pose in the latest iteration of my throne – there’s an awkward knobbly bit of wood jutting into the small of my back.  We’ll have to work on that.  No time now, though.  The elevator platform has arrived, slotting into its place in the centre of the chamber with a neat clunk.  On the platform is a slouched, dishevelled man with a sack over his head and his hands cuffed behind his back, flanked by two ill-tempered Gurdurr.  I make a little waving motion with one hand, and the man is frog-marched off the platform by the Gurdurr, who delicately snap his handcuffs, then return to the elevator and descend.  All is silent for a moment.

“Diantha?  Diantha, is that you?  Why am I here?”  I grin and shoot a glance at Ilex, who reaches out with a Vine Whip to snatch the sack from the man’s head, revealing a shock of bright red hair.  Lysandre looks around wildly for a few seconds before his eyes alight on my throne.  “You!?”

“Mmm… me,” I answer indolently.  I turn my eyes back to my Digivice, continuing to twirl it in my fingers.  “You know, Sandy – may I call you Sandy?  No?  Well, I’m going to.  You know, Sandy, you weren’t at all easy to find.  For the longest time I was sure you’d died in Geosenge Town, when your headquarters collapsed… but you’re not that easily killed, are you?  Not anymore.”  I slip my Digivice back onto my wrist and snap my fingers.  In response, a sleek wooden dart flies from one of my armrests with a muted swish and sticks in Lysandre’s chest (okay, I know the poison darts will seem like overkill, but in my defence I was really bored).  He cries out in pain and staggers, almost falling backwards into the elevator well (I really should put in some railings…) before he rights himself, plucks the dart from his chest and tosses it aside.  I turn to watch him, and count to ten silently as he struggles to draw himself up to his full height, still breathing heavily.  I reach ten, and give an impressed whistle.  “Concentrated Stun Spore essence of a shiny elder Vileplume from the jungles of eastern Hoenn.  That, Sandy, is one of the more potent neurotoxins known to man or ‘mon.”

“You could have killed me,” he growls, his face darkening.

“No, I couldn’t.  I think we both know that.”  I smile at him.  “So, how does it feel?  The – how did you put it? – the pain of endlessly waiting for a beautiful world to finally be built?”  Lysandre doesn’t answer – just scowls at me, his eyes stormy.  “Well, I suppose it takes a few decades to really feel the difference.  It’s the second century that’s the hardest, you know.  Or so I imagine, anyway.  When it really hits you that everyone you ever loved is dead.  Say, did the ultimate weapon affect your Pokémon, inside their Pokéballs?  That sweet Gyarados of yours?  I wonder whether-”

“ENOUGH!” he roars.  I blink, startled.  “I may have failed in my duty, I may be broken, alone and lost, and I may be condemned, for my failure, to untold lifetimes of misery in a world that can only decay, fester and die, but I will NOT stand here and be belittled by you!  Tell me why I am here and be done with it!”

“…well, there’s no need to be like that,” I murmur.  “I was just making conversation.”  I shrug and hop out of my throne.  “All right, then.  First things first – Lysandre.  You are here because I want to offer you a job.”  I give him a winning smile and hold out both of my hands, palms turned up.

“And what makes you think I would work for you, ‘emperor’?” he sneers.  “You know how I feel about my royal ancestors.  You sit in this grand hall thanks only to the borrowed power of your Pokémon, your underlings, your tools.  Deep inside you are as weak and vile as Kalos’ monarchs ever were.  You are happy to take and take and take from the dwindling life of Kalos, but what will you give back?”  I shrug.

“Stability?” I suggest.  “Direction?  Efficiency?”  I begin counting on my fingers.  “Justice.  Enlightenment.  Pokémon rights – they’re not my ‘underlings,’ you know; Xerneas and I are in total accord on every matter – where was I?  Science.  Education.  Environmentalism.  Aqueducts.” Lysandre suddenly looks bewildered.

“Aqueducts?”

“Everyone needs aqueducts.  The point is, Lysandre, I may want to make sure I’m at the top of the heap, but that’s only because- well, mostly because… well, okay, partly because I’m simply the best person for the job.”  I raise my arms, gesturing to the walls around me, now thick with ivy.  “I’m Kalos’ Champion.  I saved this region from… well, from you!”  I walk back towards Xerneas, still standing by my throne, and place my hand tenderly on the back of his neck.  “I am partnered to Xerneas, the guardian and protector of all life!  Together we can make this region greater still!  Conquer all who oppose us, and build a new Kalosian Empire that will be the envy of the world!  Bring life from lifelessness!  And all I ask in return is the obedience and adoration of every man, woman and child in this land, a flat 80% tax rate, monuments to our greatness in every city, a magnificent palace – which as it happens, we now have – servants to cater to our every whim…”

“How generous of you,” Lysandre remarks drily.

“I know, right?”  I leave Xerneas’ side and approach Lysandre again.  “But politics aside, you asked why you would ever work for me.  It’s simple.  I can offer you what you want most.”

“And you think you know what I want most?  What is that?”  I lean in close, for a conspiratorial whisper.

Redemption.”  He stiffens slightly.  “That is what all you oh-so-tragic anti-hero types want, isn’t it?  The chance to prove to the world that your heart was in the right place all along?  To reclaim your memory from the annals of history’s villains?  Perhaps – oh, the tragedy – to end your life in a valiant act of self-sacrifice (assuming, of course, your life can still end)?  Tell me I’m wrong.”  He wants to; I can see in his eyes the urge to throw my words back in my face… but he’s curious.  He speaks, carefully and deliberately.

“Tell me what you propose.”  I clap gleefully.

“I just knew I could win you over!”  I dash to collect a sheaf of papers from behind my throne.  “Now, as de facto head of the Kalos League I am not without a wide range of human and Pokémon agents to take care of all the mundane preliminaries of establishing my dominion over this region, but there are a variety of special tasks which I cannot trust to just anyone; I need someone who is an accomplished engineer, a skilled and charismatic Pokémon trainer, a scholar of Kalosian history, an adept of Mega Evolution, a-”

“Get to the point,” Lysandre interrupts, scowling again.  I rein in my excitement.

“All right, then.  I will.  As it happens you can complete your first task right now: to provide me with some information.  Where is the other?”  His scowl deepens.

“The other what?”

“Don’t play dumb.  The other legendary Pokémon.  Yveltal.  Where is it?”  He shakes his head.  “You must know, or at least have some suspicions.”

“I do not, nor would I tell you if I did.  It is bad enough that Xerneas has chosen to follow you.  What you would be capable of with Yveltal at your side, what you would be able to take from the people of Kalos then-”

“At my side!?  No, no no no no.   I have no intention of working with that… thing.”  Xerneas make a flat, disapproving whine.  I look Lysandre straight in the eyes.  “I want to kill it.”  He stares back, warily.

“To what purpose?  Yveltal never truly dies.  It drains the life of everything around it, unleashes Death to sustain itself so it can return to plague Kalos centuries later.”  I click my tongue.

“I never said it would be easy.  Obviously anyone wanting to kill that abomination permanently would have to find some way of circumventing its ability to steal life.  To tell you the truth, I have no idea how you’re going to do it.”

“I-?!”  Lysandre’s mouth hangs open, and Ilex laughs at his astonishment, a low booming sound that echoes around the chamber.

“Well, obviously.  You’re the perfect choice.  Fail, and maybe Yveltal will actually be able to kill you.  I can’t think of anything else that would do it at this point.  Succeed… well, just think of it.  Yveltal, the shadow of Death, banished from Kalos at last, never again to haunt the world of humans and Pokémon.  You’ll be a hero.  You’ll be redeemed.”  He frowns, furrowing his brow.

“With Yveltal gone from the world, beauty and goodness might live longer.  We might all have more time.”  Xerneas gives a trumpeting cry of agreement.  I smile.

“It’s worth a shot, right?”

“And if I were the one to do it… perhaps I could convince people… perhaps this time I could make them change their ways…”  I wave my hand.

“Yes, yes, whatever you want; we’ll burn that bridge when we come to it.  There are some other tasks I need you to perform first, though.”  Lysandre narrows his eyes suspiciously.  “Don’t worry; it’s all important work.  Everything you do for me will lead up to our ultimate goal.  If you don’t know where Yveltal is, you’re going to need to find it for me first, obviously.  I don’t know where or how you found Xerneas, but I would start there.  You’re also going to need these.”  I hand him the sheaf of documents.  He gives me a quizzical look, then begins flipping through them.  A few moments later, he looks back up at me in surprise.

“These are Xerosic’s notes.”

“Mmm.  Perhaps you’ll have better luck reading them than I did.  I don’t have the technical skill to fill in the parts he doesn’t fully explain… and I’m not familiar enough with how he thinks.  I know you’re an inventor of some ability; you reverse-engineered a Digivice, for goodness’ sake.”  He looks up in confusion.

“Digi-?”

“Oh- uh, a Mega Ring, that is.  The point is, you clearly know what you’re doing, and you’ve worked with Xerosic yourself.”  Lysandre skims a few pages.

“I don’t recognise these plans.  He kept this work secret from me?”  I roll my eyes.

“Oh, probably.  He’s like that.  Look, can you understand the technology or not?”  Lysandre is silent for a while.  He continues to read, and examines a number of diagrams.

“I believe I can, yes.  Given time.”  I grin at him and applaud.

“Excellent!  Now, I’m going to need you to build one of those for each of us – ah, by the way, there should be designs in there for a transmitter unit, but mine won’t need that; it’s just so I can keep in contact with you in the field in case of emergency.  Incidentally, there’s a place in my Elite Four open, if you could use something to do with your down time – oh, this is so exciting!  I dance over to one of the windows.  I have kept Diantha’s Pokéball-patterned stained glass, but had the panes remounted with hinges, so they can swing open.  I start fiddling with the catches.  Ilex rumbles gently and gets up to help me, reaching for the higher ones with Vine Whips.

“I have not agreed to do anything,” Lysandre reminds me.

“Oh, but you will, you will!  So much is already underway!  Just come and see!”  I release the last catch and, with a great shove, swing the window wide.  Lysandre cautiously approaches to look out over the scene below with me.

On the slopes of the mountain below us, scores of Timburr and Gurdurr waddle back and forth, merrily singing out-of-tune as they shuttle bricks, mortar, beams and nails from place to place at the direction of Conkeldurr foremen.  Pan the Chesnaught lumbers around the site, alternating between barking orders and helping to shift blocks of stone.  Ruined walls and towers rise, slowly but surely, to their former heights.  Orion the Lucario and Pytho the Goodra stand nearby, negotiating with a group of wild Graveler to have them join the construction team.  Squadrons of Poliwhirl wade through the rivers, putting together water wheels to snatch the energy of the waterfalls as Odysseus the Clawitzer deftly slices planks of wood with his claw.  Druddigon tunnel into the side of the mountain, expanding and clearing out some stretches of the cave network while closing off others, or jealously claiming choice spots for their own lairs.  A dozen Hydreigon wheel through the sky in perfect formation, firing blasts of light at hovering targets with roars of triumph.  Everywhere, Grass Pokémon of every sort bask in the sunlight and coax plants from the earth, weaving thick walls of thorns and canopies of vines around hidden walkways, building huge berry orchards, and tenderly nurturing huge bulbs packed with toxic spores.  Lysandre surveys all of this, and turns to me.

“The Elite Four, you say?”  I grin, and clap him on the shoulder.

“Sandy, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Life and Death

I have Tereus drop me off in Geosenge Town and take a look around.  The ultimate weapon is really quite spectacular: a glassy blue-green flower, several stories high, with three long triangular petals that seem to have knocked over several buildings as it bloomed.  I head for the megalithic structure to the northwest of town, which is almost certainly the entrance to Team Flare’s secret base, and enter the building with Serena to confront Lysandre.  The elevator drops us in a sort of control room, where there are a few Team Flare members standing around, apparently uninterested in fighting, and some scientists performing last-minute calculations.  We overhear some of their discussion – the weapon is powering up, drawing energy from the hundreds of Pokémon they captured using stolen Pokéballs, but most of its power is coming from inside the facility itself.  We approach the front of the control room, where Lysandre is staring intently through a plate glass window at a chamber several levels below us.  At the bottom is… a tree.  An old, dead, white tree, hooked up to a complicated machine.  Xerneas’ tree.

Lysandre greets us as we approach him.  Serena defiantly proclaims our opposition to him, to which he restates his position: there are too many people in the world, and not enough resources; the only way for everyone to be happy is if there are fewer people.  People don’t share, Lysandre says – even Serena and I couldn’t share my Digivice.  “When there is only one of something, it can’t be shared.  When something can’t be shared, it will be fought over.  And when something is fought over, some must survive without it.”
“What about Pokémon?” Serena cries.  Wait, that’s a good point, actually.  Lysandre pauses.  He seems to be struggling to speak.  Finally, a tear rolls down his cheek and splashes on the floor.
“Pokémon… shall no longer exist.”

Wait WHAT!?

As long as there are Pokémon, Lysandre explains sorrowfully, people who can control them will use them to conquer and steal from others.  It’s better if they all go now.  He shakes his head briskly, as if to clear it, and walks towards us.  If it’ll take another battle to keep me and Serena from interfering with the ultimate weapon, so be it.  Lysandre’s Mienfoo and Murkrow have evolved now, into Mienshao and Honchkrow, which complicates things.  Odysseus and Pan have to tag-team Mienshao, and Pan is knocked out by its Acrobatics (I admittedly have… something of a blind spot for Flying attacks), but I manage to heal Odysseus and finish Mienshao, as well as Honchkrow.  Gyarados flattens Odysseus with its Outrage, and I switch to Orion, but this Gyarados isn’t falling for the same trick twice; he fights through his confusion and defeats Orion with a powerful Earthquake.  I have Photia turn his incredible strength against him with Foul Play, which brings Gyarados down in a couple of turns, and out comes Pyroar, who finishes Photia with a mighty Fire Blast.  Finally, I send in Pytho, dampen Pyroar with a Rain Dance, and drown it in Muddy Water.  Lysandre sighs heavily and asks why I bother.  “What are you really protecting?” he asks.  “A tomorrow that will only end up being worse than today?”  I glare at him, and something inside me snaps.

“You just don’t get it do you?  You think you’re some great visionary who’s seen the only way to peace and prosperity with your ‘how can I possibly save everyone?’ fallen hero bull$#!t, but you’re just taking the easy way out!   Any barbarian can unleash death to destroy a civilisation; it takes true greatness to build an empire of new life!  You think that as long as Pokémon exist, people will use them for war and theft?  Well, you ain’t seen nothing yet, bub!  So I’ll tell you what’s going to happen.  I am going to go down there.  Your ridiculous little paprika-flavoured goon squad are going to try to stop me, and they are going to fail.  I am going to attune to this precious legendary Pokémon of yours.  Then I am going to take a large, rough, jagged object the size and approximate shape of a Farfetch’d and his leek, and wedge it deep within your most private crevice, and when I have done that my Pokémon and I are going to conquer this silly backwards little region and rule it together, because that is what trainers and Pokémon do.  We destroy our enemies, protect our friends, and enslave our inferiors to build glorious monuments to our own greatness!  Now what is wrong with that?”

Lysandre and Serena are both staring at me, jaws hanging open.  In fact, so is practically everyone else in the control room.  I look around, shrug, and lunge at Lysandre.  He flinches, and I seize the moment to run for the stairs to the lower levels, cackling maniacally as I go.  Serena looks toward the stairs, then at Lysandre, then back to the stairs, then at Lysandre again, throws up her arms in defeat, and follows me.  Together, we fight our way through several Team Flare grunts and admins defending the stairwells and passages leading down to Xerneas’ chamber.  About halfway down, we are joined by Shauna, who… wants to cheer for us, I guess?  I grudgingly agree to let her tag along; she’s made it this far without being killed, after all – and she even manages to help out.  When we last saw Clemont, the Lumiose City Gym Leader, he gave Shauna a machine for solving puzzles, which she uses to hack into the security door at the bottom of the last stairwell and get us inside.  That… is an incredibly powerful and potentially mischievous piece of technology she’s been toting around all this time.  Too bad it breaks after one use.  As we step through the door and behold the ultimate weapon’s power system, pulsing gently as it leeches energy from Xerneas’ tree, a group of six Team Flare admins materialise from nowhere and attack us.  Shauna panics and flees, chased by two of them, and Serena runs to help her, leaving me to deal with the other four.  Photia hardly breaks a sweat turning their minds inside out, and they flee to gather reinforcements, leaving me alone with the tree.  I call to Xerneas, and it cries out in response.  The tree glows with a brilliant light, and the rainbow stag bursts forth in all its glory, shattering the machine binding it.  It doesn’t want to be enslaved to Lysandre.  It wants my help – but first, as always, we have to battle.

Xerneas, the embodiment of life, is an extremely powerful Fairy-type mixed attacker with an ability, Fairy Aura, that gives Fairy-type techniques like Moonblast additional power.  Like many legendary Pokémon, he comes with a signature move: Geomancy, a two-turn boosting technique that raises special attack, special defence and speed by two levels (slap on a Power Herb and this thing is Quiver Dance on steroids!).  I command Ilex to wear him down with Nature Power and disable him with Sleep Powder, then start throwing Pokéballs.  It doesn’t take long for one to stick.  I walk over to the Pokéball lying on the ground, dismissing Photia back to the PC network, and pick it up… and everything changes.

I’m… alive.  Xerneas’ power is intoxicating; his presence makes me feel like a veil has been lifted from my eyes, almost like I’m seeing colour for the first time.  Xerneas can see and feel life itself, vibrant and glorious, and his supernatural senses are flooding my mind.  Although my back is turned, I know that Serena and Shauna are back in the room – I can feel their lives, radiant amongst the glimmering pinpricks of the microbes in the air.  I feel like if I focussed I could feel every living thing in Kalos.  I decide to try.  Dimly, I hear a voice.  “What a startling development!  I never would’ve thought you were really a chosen one!”  It’s Lysandre.  He has built his own Digivice in the form of a finger ring, powered by some monstrous contraption – three buzzing metal insects, tethered to a brass gauntlet, all wired up to an electronic visor.  None of it is breathing, none of it is alive; I quickly lose interest and return to my attempts to expand my mind.  Lysandre continues talking – he is disgusted with Xerneas for wanting help from a mere human, and seems to be unwilling to admit defeat yet.  I pay little attention, still curiously testing the limits of Xerneas’ senses, trying to touch the lives of absent friends… until he says one thing: “I’ll be taking the Legendary Pokémon back now!”  Wait… what?  My mind snaps back to the room we’re in, focussing once more on my physical senses.  He wants to take Xerneas away from me?  Oh, dear… what a stupid man.

I thought I knew what it was like to work together with a Pokémon, but the sheer joy of fighting with Xerneas is something else.  He seems to respond as much to my thoughts as to my words, striking down Lysandre’s Mienshao with Moonblast before it can take a single step.  As he calls on his Honchkrow, I command Xerneas to tap into a nearby ley line with Geomancy.  I feel the sting of Honchkrow’s Steel Wing as it slices at Xerneas’ hide, threatening his concentration, but he fights through it and blows the bird Pokémon away with another Moonblast.  Pyroar’s fire repels the lunar onslaught for only a moment before he suffers the same fate.  Finally Lysandre calls upon his Pokémon partner, Gyarados, using his technology and their bond to let it Digivolve into an even more monstrous and terrible version of its former self – to no avail.  One final Moonblast finishes it.  I walk forward to stand by Xerneas and rest my hand on his flank as we return to dreaming of the life of Kalos.  Somewhere in the background, I am aware of Serena and Shauna’s voices.  They are encouraging Lysandre not to give up on his old life, to go back to helping people and build a better future for everyone.  I’m no longer sure it matters.  Joy, suffering… it’s all still life, isn’t it?  Isn’t life all that’s important?  Or… is that Xerneas talking?  I shake my head, trying to clear it.  Lysandre is still speaking.  He wants to use the trickle of Xerneas’ energy left in the weapon.  “Let us live forever… that’s right!  I shall grant you eternal life!  I’ll give you the pain of endlessly waiting for a beautiful world to finally be built!”  That… that doesn’t sound so bad, actually… An eternity basking in the radiance of life with Xerneas, my mind floating amongst all the living things in the entire world… I ignore Serena and Shauna’s protests and let myself drift off.

Hands, dragging me… pulling me onto Xerneas’ back… carrying me away… up and out…

Some hours later, I wake up in Geosenge Town.  There is a huge crater where the ultimate weapon used to be.  Left and Right are standing over me in their superhero masks, along with Shauna, Tierno, Trevor and Serena.  While Serena, Shauna and I were below, the others had been fighting to free the Pokémon connected to the Geosenge menhirs.  Lysandre is nowhere to be seen.  Did he succeed in making himself immortal?  Or did he die in the collapse of the hideout?  Is he down there, buried beneath the rubble, broken but unable to die?  I can’t feel his life anymore; Xerneas’ magical perception has left me.  Once the others are satisfied that I am once again relatively sane and in no immediate danger, they disperse, suggesting that we all pick up where we left off in Anistar City.  Once I am the only one left, AZ approaches me.  He’s free at last, and means to return to his search for his missing partner.  I wish him luck as he trudges away.  Will the poor guy ever find his Pokémon?  Will we ever find out what happened to Lysandre?  And what the hell is this ‘intriguing stone’ Tierno gave me back in Shalour City?

As for me, the dizzying high of my first exposure to Xerneas has left me, but the world somehow seems brighter, more magnificent than ever before – making me more determined than ever before to conquer it, with my new legendary partner Pokémon by my side!

Ridiculous quote log:

“You fools!  You don’t even have suits!”
…yeah, because those white Team Flare suits make you look so classy.

“Not having a ton of money is really stressful, you know…”
Oh, I feel your pain, dude; it must be really hard to be a leader in an organisation with a ¥ 5,000,000 membership fee…

Cold Darkness of the Cosmos

Before entering Dendemille Town, I turn south for a look at the route leading back towards Lumiose City.  This whole north-eastern area seems to be in a state of perpetual autumn, in contrast to the permanent summer of the rest of Kalos, and has inhabitants to match; in addition to several of the same Pokémon as I found on the last route, I find Foonguss and two new Ghost/Grass Pokémon: Phantump, a dark wisp inhabiting a tree stump, and Pumpkaboo, the floating pumpkin I encountered in Lumiose City.  Seeing two new Pokémon with the same previously unseen type combination in the same area initially makes me think that they probably influence each other’s evolution in some way, like Shelmet and Accelgor, but I am informed that this is not the case – they just evolve when traded.  Doing so results in Trevenant, an utterly terrifying undead tree with a single glowing red eye and six splayed insect-like legs, and Gourgeist, a jack-o’-lantern with some kind of vaguely-feminine looking eel-like head and a pair of pink things that could easily be hair, arms, tentacles, or all three.  This adorably creepy little specimen “enwraps its prey in its hairlike arms [and] sings joyfully as it observes the suffering of its prey.”  So… that’s fun.  The route’s only other notable feature is a network of jetties built out over a lake to maximise the area available for fishing; here I am given a Super Rod, but come across nothing of particular interest in testing it out.  Satisfied that this route has nothing more for me at the moment, I return north.

If Dendemille Town’s surroundings are trapped in autumn, the town itself is locked in an eternal winter.  Snow falls on hardy evergreens as stubborn farmers try to coax life from frozen soil.  The town’s most prominent feature is a huge windmill surrounded by some kind of massive fortification wall, so presumably they do manage to produce something here (not much point in a windmill without grain).  Shortly after entering the town, I am met by Professor Sycamore, with Right in tow (Left, presumably, is off fighting crime).  Sycamore rambles incoherently about journeys and cafés for a while, before slipping into a brief eulogy of Kalos’ amazing legendary Pokémon, Xerneas, who “resembles the letter X.”  No-one knows anything concrete about Xerneas, but Right promises to do some research.  They both leave, giving me the chance to check out more of Dendemille Town and find what is perhaps its most important feature from my perspective: the home of the move deleter and move relearner.  At last, I can experience the true glory of Clawitzer’s movepool – Mega Launcher-boosted Dark Pulse, Dragon Pulse and Aura Sphere.  I only have three Heart Scales and I want to teach Dragon Pulse to my Lucario as well, so I greedily snatch up Dark Pulse and Aura Sphere and move on.  Dendemille Town doesn’t appear to have a Pokémon Gym, but the next route is impassable: nothing but huge drifts of snow all around.  The inhabitants inform me that there is normally a Mamoswine who carries travellers through the snow, but this Mamoswine is currently “distracted by something” in the Frost Cavern north of Dendemille Town, so I suppose there’s nothing for it but to go and find the damn thing myself… and maybe pick up some nifty new Ice Pokémon in the process.

It doesn’t take long for me to find Mamoswine, in the company of a boy whom I assume is its trainer, in the stark snowbound mountains north of town.  Apparently Mamoswine is worried about something going on in the cavern, but either can’t or won’t do anything about it.  Trevor, who wants to investigate species distribution in the Frost Cavern, volunteers to look into it, but my confidence in Trevor’s abilities has never been high, so I head into the cave along with him to find out what’s wrong.  The Frost Cavern is giving me flashbacks to the Ice Path of Gold and Silver, with all its ‘icy floor’ puzzles and, of course, its Ice-type fauna – Beartic, Cryogonal, Piloswine, Jynx, and a weird little pyramid-shaped Ice Pokémon called a Bergmite, a sort of physical tank whose main strength appears to be “being a block of ice.”  The fact that X and Y allow diagonal movement becomes quite important here, because it means you can slide diagonally across the ice floors – I think there’s only one part of the area that actually requires this, but I must have stared at the screen for about ten minutes before I thought of trying it (so much for my vaunted lateral thinking skills…).  In the depths of the cave, I locate the problem: surprise, surprise; it’s Team Flare.  A pair of grunts and a blue-haired woman wearing a visor, presumably another scientist, are tormenting a huge Abomasnow, apparently to test the limits of its power before they capture it.  Trevor arrives and orders them to stop, which they predictably ignore.  The scientist, Mable, explains that they’re collecting Pokémon and energy for their dastardly plans, which apparently involve destroying everyone who isn’t part of their group.  She has only one Pokémon, a powerful Houndoom, which I dispatch with my Clawitzer.  Defeated, she and her grunts flee.  Trevor departs in relief, and I turn to go as well – but feel a tap on my shoulder.  Well, I say a ‘tap,’ it’s more of a heavy, blunt ‘thunk,’ but a tap seems to have been the intention.  It’s Abomasnow, who wants to thank me with a gift: a green-and-white Abomasite orb.  Mega Abomasnow, huh?  Could this be what uplifts Hail to equal status with the other major weather effects?  Eh, probably not, but we’ll see.

Mamoswine is now back on duty.  According to his trainer, Mamoswine first came to Dendemille town when he was gravely injured and rescued by an Abomasnow.  It was probably the same one, and Mamoswine was likely refusing to work because he was worried about his friend.  D’aww… you know, there is something incredibly endearing about inter-species friendships.  Anyway, with Mamoswine back, I have my ride through the snow to Anistar City.  Mamoswine is capable of ploughing through drifts of snow that cover him almost completely, and even smashing submerged boulders.  I feel a sudden pang of regret for never having trained one of these things.  A few more Ice Pokémon – Delibird, Sneasel, and Snover (better evolve him later to check out Abomasnow’s mega form…) appear on the way, but I reach Anistar City without much more excitement, and receive a call from Serena challenging me to a battle by the Pokémon Gym.  The bitter cold softens a little as I reach Anistar City and look around.  Left shows up to inform me that Right has learned of a person in this city who is an expert in the lore of Kalos’ legendary Pokémon, and that it would be a good idea for me to find him.  Of course, cities in the Pokémon world being what they are, this doesn’t take long.  I learn that Xerneas appeared in Kalos 800 years ago, bringing energy and vitality to the entire region.  Supposedly, it lives for a thousand years and releases all of its remaining power at the end of its life to enrich everything around it.  Another story relates that 3000 years ago, another Pokémon which might have been Xerneas saved many people and Pokémon from a terrible war, before turning into a dried-up tree, which is still hidden somewhere in Kalos.  Hmm.  I’ve heard about this war; I think this is the same terrible war Lysandre’s ancestor was supposedly involved with – the one that still scars the history of Kalos even today…

Anistar City has one major attraction: the Anistar Sundial.  Not really a ‘sundial’ at all in the traditional sense of the word, this is a massive and exquisitely cut translucent pink crystal which (I think) tells the time by refracting sunlight onto a series of concentric golden rings.  According to the locals, no-one is sure how the thing was made, since it’s thousands of years old and even modern technology couldn’t cut such an enormous crystal so perfectly.  The whole set-up is on a platform which juts out over… the… sea…

…wait…

I pull out my town map.  Anistar City, which is surrounded on three sides by water, is nowhere near the ocean.

There’s something very strange about this city, and it makes me uneasy.  I’m heading for the Gym.  I deal quickly with Serena, who has added a Jolteon to her team and become much more powerful since our last fight, but is still lagging behind (and seems to be developing self-esteem issues), and enter the building.  It’s… empty.  It’s just a perfectly normal room, with a couple of sidetables, a fireplace, and two windows with long purple curtains.  In the centre is a large rug with a design of stars and circles.  No trainers.  No Gym Leader.  I slowly walk forward, looking around, and step onto the circular pattern on the rug… and the world explodes.  I give a started yelp as the room around me dissolves into nothing, and I find myself in space.  Walkways of light criss-cross in a three-layered sphere, with stars and comets flying past in the background.  One of the Psychic Pokémon trainers here tells me “don’t be distracted by your surroundings.”  “EASY FOR YOU TO SAY,” I screech back.  Not a moment too soon, I come to the centre of the sphere, where the Gym Leader, Olympia, is waiting.  Olympia is a strange, distant woman who wears a white cloak with a night sky pattern in its lining (or… it could be lined with the actual night sky, for all I know…), who speaks as though her mind is in a dream… but is perfectly wakeful while battling.  Her Sigilyph, protecting itself with Reflect and scoring a few opportune flinches with Air Slash, deals pretty heavy damage to my Malamar, Photia, before going down, leaving Olympia’s second Pokémon, a powerful Slowking, to finish her off.  I send in Orion the Lucario to start blasting away with Dragon Pulse, but Slowking boosts up with Calm Mind and blows away Orion’s mind with Psychic.  Finally, I bring out the big guns: Odysseus the Clawitzer.  Dark Pulse breaks through even Slowking’s boosted special defence.  Olympia’s final Pokemon, disappointingly, is a Meowstic; a high-level one, to be sure, but not nearly as powerful as a Sigilyph or a Slowking, and Odysseus makes short work of it.  Olympia rewards me with a Calm Mind TM, a golden badge in the shape of a curling wisp of smoke rising from a violet pearl (the Psychic Badge – awesome name there; really inventive, Olympia), and a prophecy: “Power that grants life awakens – voices of woe.  That is your future."  She then waves her hand and teleports me back to the entrance of the Gym.  I find myself back in the plain room.  I’m honestly not sure the Anistar Gym, its trainers, or Olympia even exist at all; my Pokémon and I may have hallucinated the entire experience… but the Psychic Badge is still in my hand, and that’s all I need.

Ridiculous quote log:

“Windmills rotate just like the wheels of destiny!  So Rotation Battles are like windmills!  Ah… I mean destiny!
You know what else rotates like the wheels of destiny?  You, strapped to a windmill.

“I hope I still have Pokémon when I grow up.  ‘Cause when I have kids, I want to trade Pokémon with them.”
That is some nice marketing there, Nintendo.  Real subtle.  There are now, of course, people who picked up Pokémon as children or teenagers and are now having kids of their own…