Chapter 3 – In Review
Esaax’s wounds were cleaned and repaired, leaving only a faint series of scars where the stronger of Syr’s bites had connected and nothing at all of his lesser injuries. Just as his healing was completed, he was given the message that Adn was ready for him. Esaax told Syr to find someplace comfortable to wait. Then, taking a deep, steadying breath, he stepped into Adn’s office of his own accord where once he would have had to be pushed.
Behind that door stood a blue-haired gardevoir by the name of Adn, who was the Haven’s psychic regression therapist. His method was to make patients relive various moments in their pasts and gauge their present states of mind by their conscious and subconscious emotional reactions to their induced recollections. Despite the marathon session that he was reported to have just endured, he still looked as far from exhaustion as one could possibly be.
As always, not a word was spoken and no signal was made as Adn and his patient took their places. The scene of the office blurred and warped, then was swiftly replaced by very different surroundings. Once again, Esaax found himself thrust into a perfectly vivid replica of a scene from his memory. Now standing in this bygone time and place like a tourist in his own past, his regression began…
* * *
Esaax was born fifty-four years ago to the Evergray clan of the caves south of Blackthorn. His childhood was quiet and uneventful; not much changed from night to night until Esaax reached his mid-thirties. It was there and then, at the dawn of his adult life, that one evening brought something new—something that would alter the course of his life forever.
From faraway Hoenn, a nomadic branch of a clan called the Fade somehow journeyed across the sea and into Evergray territory. The foreigners were readily welcomed and allowed to stay as honorary members of the community while in the area.
Among the visitors was a female by the name of Ntairow. She and Esaax began spending time together and soon bonded, first as friends and then on other, more intimate levels.
Then, only a few months after arriving, the Fade moved on. Though Ntairow demanded to stay, and Esaax offered up his own pleas for her to remain with the Evergray clan, the elders of the Fade would not allow it. Ntairow was forced to depart with the rest of her clan, held and carried away in the arms of her people, leaving Esaax behind.
Esaax refused to accept this. He left the caves and tried to follow the Fade through the mountains, but he failed to catch up with them. The nomads were relatively swift, hardy, and used to traveling, whereas Esaax was out of shape. Thus it was that he collapsed there on the mountain trail under his very first sunrise.
He lay there for hours, breathless, heartsick, hungry, sunburned, and alone. Then some very strange creatures came up the mountain trail and discovered him. They were humans, and they had come in search of unusual and uncommon pokémon, which were to be given away as prizes at the Goldenrod Game Corner. Drained of life as he was, Esaax could do nothing to resist the red beam that pulled him into a very strange state of unbeing.
Week after week went by as Esaax remained in the confining void of what the humans called a “pokéball”. He was let out only to be fed, and the portions given to him were furthermore much too small and too infrequent for his liking. As time passed, he lost all hope of ever finding Ntairow again. When he learned that being the first and only wobbuffet acquired thus far by the Game Corner meant that he had a price in game tokens that virtually no one would be able to afford, he also lost all hope of ever escaping the empty routine into which his life had fallen.
Then one day, quite literally against the odds, he
was afforded. Esaax’s acquisitor was a man from Palmpona, who brought the wobbuffet home as a birthday present for his son, Benny.
Now in the hands of very different humans, Esaax lived a very different life. Benny liked his new pokémon a great deal, and a strong friendship between the two was quick in forming. Wherever the human boy went, Esaax was taken along with him, and Esaax was never made to go into the pokéball once he’d made it clear how much he disliked it.
Esaax lived this way for three years, and he loved it. He found himself wanting things to remain just as they were forever. But in Palmpona, it was inevitable for every pokémon to ultimately become fodder for the town’s trading obsession. Though Esaax didn’t understand Benny’s desire to trade him, he agreed to respect the young human’s wishes and allow himself to be put up for trade out of gratitude for the kindness that Benny had shown him.
As it so happened, the year in which Esaax was involved in the trade expo was the first year in its history in which things would go awry. Thus it was that he accidentally became a member of Team Rocket. His partners consisted of two humans and four pokémon, one of the latter of which was able to speak the humans’ language. Though the Team Rocket way of existence seemed to be a cursed one, Esaax also sometimes found it quite amusing in a strange way—fun, even.
Esaax’s new owner, Jessie, didn’t really understand much of anything about him, though—not his language, his needs, or his proper use in battle. She also failed to understand his feelings about being kept in a pokéball, but by that time, Esaax had learned how to break out of a pokéball, much to her vexation.
It was while Esaax was in her possession that the problems with his tail first began to rear their heads. One day found him going into autoempathic crisis and very nearly dying from it. Nearly losing him had the effect of awakening a much greater appreciation for him in Jessie, and she soon became the best human friend that he’d ever had.
Unfortunately, not long after they had finally connected, the world changed for pokémon—and ended for humans. A plague of fatal sleep mysteriously struck the entire human population all over the globe, bringing extinction to the species—in just a matter of
With Jessie lost in death and something of himself gone along with her, Esaax fled the scene of her demise to wander for days in shock. Sometime later, once his spirit had begun to mend itself, he began seeking old familiarities and acquaintances to use as a foundation on which to rebuild his life. In particular, he sought after his pokémon partners from Team Rocket. However, his quest yielded six no-shows, one rejection, and one successful reunion. That reunion was very promising in the beginning, but ultimately led to tragedy.
That was the last straw—Esaax’s sanity was dealt the killing blow. Once again, he tried to run from his sorrow. Eventually, he found himself in the city of Convergence. It was a place which had been the world’s first fully-integrated community, in which pokémon and humans had lived, worked, and learned as equals. Following the Extinction, many pokémon there continued to live the lifestyles that the humans had taught them, perhaps as an act of remembrance of the lost species.
But Esaax had no more luck in finding serenity there than he’d had in any of the other places in which he’d searched. He fell into a spiral of sickness and despair that finally culminated with him trying to provoke a houndoom into killing him. She instead took pity on Esaax, delivering him to the Haven and thus to salvation…
* * *
With a gentle but nonetheless abrupt severing of mental connections, the session ended. It was still hard for Esaax to believe that over half of a century could be compressed into less than five minutes. As far as he was concerned, though, how it was possible was not important. It was what it determined that mattered.
Usually, Adn would dismiss Esaax with a simple, psychic signal, not saying a single word. This time, however, much to Esaax’s surprise, Adn spoke to him for the very first time.
“I see that the sorrows of your history can still evoke pain in you, Esaax,” the gardevoir said.
Esaax pondered that for a moment. Then he wilted. “You mean I failed the test?”
Even more unexpected than Adn’s speaking up was Adn’s suddenly bursting into laughter. “No, no!” he said. “You’ve passed! If you had not
felt hurt by the memories of sadness in your life, then
you would have failed. You ache where it is appropriate, and you rejoice where that is appropriate. That is healthy. Numbness is not.”
“…So I can go, then?”
“Yes, you certainly may,” the gardevoir said, smiling proudly. “Farewell, and good luck to you!”
* * *
The time to return to the world at large had finally come. As Esaax stood before the exit alongside Syr, he bade farewell to the people who had taken such good care of him. Teresa made him smile, Madeline made him feel slightly ill, and a skiploom whom he didn’t even know just baffled him by doing something very rude with her tiny arms (which Esaax didn’t realize was not intended for him). Adn was not present, apparently already engrossed in another session, but he sent his kind regards with Teresa.
On the verge of tears, yet beaming like the sun, Esaax thanked everyone for their support and waved one last goodbye. Then he passed through the doors as they opened, emerging into the world for what felt like the first time in eons.
Next chapter: Esaax and Syr get a summons from a face (or two) from their shared past, but what awaits them if they answer the call? And what, exactly, happened in the past between Esaax and the summoner that’s gotten him in such a perturbed state all of a sudden? See you then!
- Sike Saner