The Box

A Pokémon Tale by Latios

Author’s Foreword

Latias and Latios are genuinely intriguing legendary Pokémon, and Oakley and Annie are equally fascinating villains. Perhaps it was this fact that inspired me to write this after seeing advertisements for “Pokémon Heroes” (a film, which, alas, I have yet to see). But it was ultimately the kidnapping of Latios that allowed this tale to be born. I asked myself, “What if I took the original story of ‘Pokémon Heroes’ (I gratefully acknowledge Pokékitty for filling me in on what the story was like) and put a completely different twist on it?” That “twist” comes from blending “The Matrix” (another film I have not yet seen) and Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ (a brilliant book I hope everyone gets to read) with the original film Pokémon Heroes. I will confess right now, however, that I did not work in the mini-movie into “The Box,” just the feature film. July 20, 2003


“I believe in love/It’s all we’ve got/Love has no boundaries/Costs nothing to touch/ . . . Everything crumbles/Sooner or later/But love/ . . . [Love has n]o borders to cross/Love is simple . . .” From “Believe” on Elton John’s “Made in England”

In the time before the Great Seizure, all was well in the world. The elements had been put to rest by the Red and Blue Orbs long ago, and just about every creature, human and Pokémon alike, rejoiced in the abundance of the earth and the seas. No more were the hooligans of Magma and Aqua to be feared, for they had long ago been vanquished. No more was there to be anxiety or trauma, for the pain of darkness and deceit so common in a less enlightened age was but a wicked dream. All were free, free as they chose to be, not tormented by the demons of mistrust and fearfulness. All was well—all was good in the sight of anyone who ventured into the distant corner of the planet called Hoenn.
No one served a better role model for this realm of compassion and beauty than the sibling dragons, Latias and Latios. They epitomized the nature of an adoring brother-sister relationship; indeed, of any kind of interpersonal affair. Just as Latios sought to love his sister more than life itself, so too did Latias strive to revere her brother. Each word, every torrent of laughter and every shower of tears, they shared together. All of Hoenn looked up to their example, hoping to love as truly as Latias and Latios did. But the seeds of bitterness and greed swelled up in Oakley and Annie, blossoming madly into flowers of hatred and contempt. They were not praised as the scarlet and azure dragons were for anything, least of all for loving someone else. Longing for a chance to become as renowned as the objects of their fury, Annie one day conceived a most perverse and repugnant idea: to establish a new world order, built not on the virtues of love and liberty, but on the vices of tyranny and injustice. This horrific revolution would be crafted of corruption and rage by leading all who followed them to believe that a peaceful world was a vulnerable world, one in which everyone was in danger and no one accomplished anything of worth. They would paint the dragons as traitors to the cause, Pokémon who set out with noble intentions in being an example for the world, but who soon fell for scores of different evil deeds. It should come as no surprise that Annie’s hope was to be the supreme dictator of this realm.

p>Night had fallen many hours ago. The glistening stars shimmered like diamonds in the blue-black, cloudless dark. A full moon shone brightly, each crater giving the lunar rock the appearance of a jolly old man. A lone Mightyena bayed at that moon, singing the praises of being in harmony with herself and the world. In the chasm where the Soul Dew jewel sat, there slumbered Latias and Latios, dreaming the content fantasies of one who is truly happy, side-by-side. Within time, however, the malicious hunters of these innocent dragons appeared in the chamber, declaring,
“The Great Seizure has now begun!”
while firing their Pokéball launchers in the air. Annie shouted with resounding echoes at the bewildered siblings, while they clung tightly to each other, “We, as the mothers of the greatest revolution ever seen, offer you, the notorious dictators, three choices: you can surrender now, fight us, or run away. Either way, you will be captured and consigned to a wretched role in our grand new social order!”
Realizing that history was in the making, Latias and Latios released each other, and valiantly battled to preserve the old ways of justice. Amid a crossfire of Pokéballs fired against the psychic-energy force field, repeated bursts Luster Purge and Psychic blasted at the crazed women. But alas, our heroes missed every time, for shielding themselves against the onslaught harmed their accuracy. Finally, Latios collapsed out of exhaustion, tumbling to the floor with a perturbing sense of impending doom, the feeling that death was upon him and the world as he knew it. Latias, out of pure shock, dropped her guard, only to watch her dear brother be drawn into the unfathomable void of a Pokéball in the blink of an eye. Then, as if by divine intervention, Annie found her launcher was jammed, while Oakley ran out of magazine clips. Latias had not the strength to prevent her brother’s cell from being snatched callously out of her hands. In horror and amazement, she watched their assailants flee into the blue-purple dawn, the sky almost laughing at her in its majestic beauty, unaware of the tragedy that had just occurred.
It was high noon, and the air inside the cavern where Latias hid with the sacred jewel became warmer. She awakened, and, touching the matted down near her amber eyes, concluded that she must have cried herself to sleep. More tears came to those quivering jewels as she realized she would likely never see Latios again. Her scarlet chest heaved and throbbed as she thought upon every moment she shared with him: sailing through moonlit skies and over dark oceans, confiding her most bizarre dreams and peculiar nightmares, yes, even just embracing before settling down for a night of rest. She looked outside the entrance, but saw nothing: no Beautiflies flapping their iridescent wings in the golden beams of sunlight, no Spindas dancing on the green fields, not even a Sandshrew digging into the fertile earth. Feeling ever more hopeless and convinced that nothing could console her, Latias slunk back inside to weep some more. Raising her small, red hands toward the sky, the claws glistening in the sunlight, she asked, in a barely audible, whispering squeak, “Why could I not have been taken as well?”
She darted deeper into the recesses of the cavern, her pitiful sobs echoing all throughout.
The coming of night was especially hard on Latias. She had not separated from her brother for even a moment during her life. From the moment she broke out of her egg until just that morning, Latios had been with her across innumerable centuries, protecting and accompanying her always. Latios had often said how empty his life had felt before she came into the world, that something always seemed missing. He also said that having her as his younger sister was the most precious thing he could ever have, that she was the one dragon he loved above all other creatures. Latias had always felt the same way about her older brother, especially now that she, too, could feel the same sense of vast sadness that accompanies the absence of someone loved beyond description. Dinner was an experience devoid of any good feeling, as there was no one to share it with. Sleep eluded poor Latias for many hours without the comforting sound of her brother’s deep, gentle breathing as he slumbered.
Then, in her dreams, Latios appeared unto Latias. She was sitting upon a large rock within an empty desert late at night, the crescent waning moon casting an eerie white light in the navy blue sky. A dark human figure, scattering dust with his tall boots, approached her.
“Dear sister,” he said, “I am not lost to you. Though you may think I am forever gone, I am, in fact, very near, in body as well as spirit. I have been driven against my will into a most wretched world of bits and bytes, a digital land populated by countless Pokémon convinced to follow the treacherous way of Oakley and Annie. They extol unthinking obedience to their state, painting me as the defender of ancient evils. Love and freedom are ancient, yes, but evil, Latias, evil? To them, I am but a device of backwards living, a symbol of dimmer ages. Latias, it is up to you to rescue our brethren led astray so easily. Liberate us, not for me, but for the sanctity of life, for our mother the earth and our father the sky. Even if I never see you again, remember this: we have loved, and still will love. Everything else is but trivia. Take this. Farewell.”
The man, whose voice sounded just like Latios’ voice, dropped a piece of folded paper on the gently swirling dust as he disappeared into the night, his boots gently scraping on the parched sand. Latias climbed off her rock, and, reaching for the paper, noticed her hands were those of a human. Looking at herself, she realized she was not a dragon, but a woman. She opened the paper, which read simply,
“33 Soul Dew Ave., Altomare City.”

Latias awakened, the sun barely streaming into the cave. As she scraped away the crusted salt from around her eyes, the leftovers of her second night without Latios, the meaning of her dream became clear: He wanted her to take the form of a human and bring him and the followers of Oakley and Annie home, from a computerized realm into nature again. She supposed that everyone there adopted a human form, since Latios himself had appeared in her dreams as a man, recalling the fact that, although she had occasionally undergone metamorphosis into a woman, he would not transform, because he said that he was content to simply be a dragon. The symbolism of the paper was also rendered apparent: the address written on it was where the computer was that acted as the porthole between virtual and natural reality.
Twenty minutes later, Latias had assumed the form of a tall, slender brunette woman, strolling casually down Soul Dew Avenue. Her object was to not attract any attention, since getting inside Oakley and Annie’s lair would take quite a bit of delicate planning. When no one was looking at her, she snuck down a flight of weather-beaten, cracked concrete stairs, choosing not to touch the painted and repainted railing, lest she soil her brown cashmere sweater. Latias cautiously stepped over the soda bottles and potato chip bags that littered the stairs, avoiding a couple of pieces of orange chewing gum thoughtlessly stuck on the last stair. She approached the side door of the ancient brick apartment, and attempted to open it. Not surprisingly, it was locked. Latias used her telekinetic powers to turn the lock and twist open the battered door anyway.
The door creaked open loudly, where the smell of cigarette butts and mold mixed with pizza crusts and bleach greeted her. She quickly passed through the rows of cars parked neatly in their spaces, seeming to be asleep in the fluorescent lamplight. Silencing every one of the old wooden stairs with psychic power, Latias went up to #33 without so much as a creak. Sensing that Annie was in the apartment, she hatched a bold plan. She picked up an old bicycle horn that some child had left in the hallway, and rang the doorbell three times in a row. She dashed down the stairs as noisily as she could, and began squeezing the bulb on the horn rapidly. Annie, who was reading Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince, angrily stormed out of her apartment, clutching her book in one hand, and shaking her fist at the noise. She screamed,
“If I’ve told that boy once, I’ve told him a million times not to toot that blasted horn inside! All right, Richard, you’re coming with me to your mama!”
Latias squeezed the bulb three more times, then carefully rose up through the skylight just before Annie clomped down to where she was. Whirling around, snorting, Annie saw no one. Latias dropped the horn right in front of Annie’s feet, and shot through the window before she could be spotted. Annie looked up at the skylight, and, noting that the window was opened, she ran up the stairs to the roof, her book getting sweaty and greasy from her boiling blood. Latias slipped inside Annie’s room from the window that opened onto the roof. Brushing the gravel off of her clothes, she walked over to the computer, and selected “Annie’s Box.” The screen read,
“Welcome to THE BOX. Please deposit a Pokéball. Press <ENTER> to begin uploading, or enter the SECRET CODE to delete this program.”
With that, Latias tossed a live Pokéball at herself while pressing <ENTER> at the same time. While she was inside the Pokéball, the converting device changed her into a long set of binary coding lines. Just five seconds later, she was launched out of the Pokéball and onto the alien streets of Box City.


“Every fact—every department of your mind—is to be programmed by you. And unless you assume your rightful responsibility—and begin to program your own mind—the world will program it for you.” From “Paul Oakenfold Presents,” April 2003

There was not a soul to be found on the ink-black street Latias landed in. Everything was shrouded in a complete absence of light, except for some brightly burning white fluorescent bulbs. The stars and the moon where nowhere to be seen in this realm that so much resembled a basement. The perfectly spherical bulbs fit in perfectly with the rectangular concrete slabs that appeared to be apartment complexes; everything had a very geometric, orderly manner about it. Turning around, Latias saw another bright glow some distance away from her. As it got larger and larger, she realized she was standing directly in the path of an oncoming vehicle! She made a dash for the sidewalk, narrowly missing getting pummeled by an enormous hovercraft as it barreled down the road. She noticed that the craft suddenly stopped, the frigid night air making the exhaust swirl about in peculiar patterns. As she began to get colder, Latias noted that the craft, with “POLICE” painted on the side in bold yellow letters, was manned by a group of what appeared to be robots, their stainless-steel shells glistening in the streetlights.
As Latias slunk into the shadow of an apartment complex, she realized that the robots were pursuing her, for three of them had clambered out, and were walking over to where she was. Knowing that they were likely equipped with heat sensors as well as night-vision cameras, she realized it would be futile to run away. Remembering she had incredible telekinetic powers at her disposal, she made her heart purposely stop and her breathing end. She permitted herself to collapse, and, sprawled out over the icy cement sidewalk, allowed the cold to enter her body so that the kiss of death would seem upon her lips. Latias’ false dying worked perfectly; the robots could not get her pulse, and found her eyes did not wince when they shone light in them. Concluding she must have been incapable of resuscitating (there was hardly any difference between touching her or an ice cube), they mechanically laid a shroud over her, and walked in single file back to the hovercraft, muttering something in their digitized voices that they would contact the State Morgue to have the body taken away.
Once the hovercraft was well out of earshot, Latias restarted her heart and resumed breathing. A few minutes later, she threw off the ghostly sheet, got up, and walked down an alley between two apartment structures. Her breath blew about, crystallizing, as she pondered what the customs and traditions of this peculiar society were. She was well aware that the government was probably hunting for her in the same way it tracked down and imprisoned her brother. Her goal was not merely to always stay one step ahead of Oakley and Annie’s regime, like a fugitive. She was a fugitive, yes, but a nobler one, an individual who would subvert and overthrow for the sake of things held dear in the hearts of those wishing only to deal in justice and peace. Latias sought to free the tyrannized, so that they could cooperate and love, not because the State commanded them to, but because they freely chose to do so.
As Latias continued to walk about, cloaked in the crisp air and the seemingly infinite darkness, she noticed that the monotony of rows and rows of identical apartment structures had ended. She was in an enormous grassy field that stretched to the horizon; the silhouette of a steam shovel became apparent as what appeared to be a sun rendered on an enormous computer screen rose into the sky. It was surreal in every sense of the word; it was easily seen that the sun was pixilated and a bit contorted, and yet, after a long, dim night, it was a welcome thing to see. It was bizarre, however, that there was nothing creeping in the grass or flapping through the skies, just endless grass and the occasional tree that was home to nothing and no one. As she continued her march toward that digital Kingdom Come through the vast Nowhere, Latias found a tree, and, sitting beneath it, fell asleep in the golden silence.
Once again, Latios appeared in Latias’ dreams. This time, Latias was standing in a prison cafeteria, as a sort of wallflower, from whence she could watch the prisoners eat and talk in their bright orange jumpsuits about any number of topics, from art to zoology. But one man, large and burly, with a thick mustache, greasy hazel hair, and fiery scarlet eyes, remained taciturn, not uttering a word as he surveyed the mess hall. His eagle-like glare seemed to burn right through the robots who stood guard, as he turned his fork over and over again in his plump hand, letting his synthetic eggs and bacon turn cold. As the robots started to pick up the plates, announcing breakfast had ended, the red-eyed man took in an enormous breath, as if he were attempting to blow down the building, and spat out a single word, fork in air:
An ecstasy of flying fists ensued; all of the prisoners had leapt up from the remainders of the meal as one, and were upon the robots like dogs will be upon fresh meat. Latias edged up against the wall as the Pokéball launchers the robots used were wrestled out of their stainless steel hands and off of their polyethylene necks, and were fired to capture the guards. More guards had come to see what the commotion was, but flesh and blood triumphed (for the time being) over metal and plastic. In the ensuing shoot-out, all of the other guards were captured. Latias followed the prisoners as they ran out of the cafeteria and near the entrance to the outside world. Five prisoners, their fingers on the triggers of the seized launchers, ganged up on the door-robot, taking all of its keys, then capturing it as well.
The red-eyed man distributed the keys, many of which controlled the hovercraft that sat in the outside lot, to the prisoners. As the hovercraft roared to life, the bells of liberty seemed to ring their sweet song, ringing still more as they sped away. But the liberated captives had fled no more than two or three blocks when they were stopped by enormous tanks that fired sprawling nets to capture them. The prisoners gunned the engines on the hovercraft, but could not break free. Every one of them surrendered when that became clear. Then, they were chained together and escorted back inside, while Annie and Oakley were parked in an armored limousine and speaking to journalists about how “great a victory this is for the State, since it has proven itself fully capable of fighting seditious treason.”
As the limousine sped away and the journalists packed up, Latias noticed that two robots were still prowling around the vicinity, their digitized voices warbling about “the one that got away, that blasted Latios.”
They soon gave up the search and went back in. Latias realized that the large, red-eyed man was not in the chain gang that marched back in, although one would have to have been very observant to notice, since eighty or ninety prisoners marched back in. Out of the bushes came the man, who must have played the same trick she did during her first encounter with police robots. He tore off his orange prisoner’s jumpsuit, and, with only his pajamas to wear, trotted down the sidewalk at a brisk clip.
Latias awakened from under the tree, and, judging by the position of the digitally superimposed sun, supposed it was late afternoon. The meaning of her dream was all too clear: Latios had attempted to liberate his imprisoned comrades, but he was the only one who successfully escaped. (Toying with the heat sensors seemed absolutely essential to succeed at fleeing. Now that he was at large, she had to go and find him, Latias reasoned.

As she brushed the grass off from the seat of her pants, Latias reflected on the challenges that would present themselves as she searched for Latios. First, and perhaps most importantly, she had no idea where to start. Second, she did not know if he would change his clothes or alter his appearance. Finally, she did not know if he would be captured before she got to him. As she walked on, she wondered why it was that Latios evidently wanted to rendezvous with her. Why didn’t he just relay another dream with a hidden meaning in it to tell her what to do? It all seemed so strange, and yet, all of The Box was very strange, indeed, the ambitions of Oakley and Annie were stranger still. Nothing seemed to make much sense at all anymore.
The sun had set many hours ago, and Latias finally came to a more populated area. She saw hovercraft and hordes of people strolling here and there for the first time in an entire day, since her time in The Box had been spent almost entirely in that vast field. Many of the people she overheard talking were discussing how wonderful it was to be taken out of the state of nature, transformed into human beings, and given the opportunity to reside in such a prosperous nation. Latias could only keep walking, thinking that, even under a trainer, living as a Pokémon was preferable to living here. Every building in sight had a giant green banner with a white square on it, and every one of the windows had a photograph of Oakley and Annie, dressed in full military uniform, polished and hanging neatly. In front of an enormous movie theater stood a twenty-story bronze statue of Oakley and Annie. At the foot of the statue was a plaque that read,
Latias almost burst out laughing when she read that, for right next to the statue, two women were being dragged into a police hovercraft by robots. The robot of the peace declared them guilty of not having raised their hands at the statue Adolf Hitler-style, and holding it for at least ten seconds, thereby dishonoring Oakley and Annie and posing a threat to society at large. Anyone who so much as walked by the statue was required to do that, and the penalty for not doing so was thirty days in prison. Though her anger surged as she saw her own kind be led away for not doing something she felt no one should have to do, she dampened her rage by reminding herself that no despot reigns forever. A police robot took out its Pokéball launcher and pointed it, finger on the trigger, at the crowd that had stared, goggle-eyed, at the scene but forgotten to laud the statue. Everyone, Latias included, raised his hand, and held it there. The robot stood still for ten, fifteen, then twenty seconds, and finally lowered its weapon. Everyone lowered his hand with much gratitude, then walked inside. Even that same robot that just coerced the crowd raised its own hand before it went back into the hovercraft.
When Latias walked inside the theater, she was amazed to see that there was another statue of Oakley and Annie (crafted this time of fine crystal) almost as tall as the last one. She reluctantly raised her hand again, and walked into the auditorium, where she was greeted by another image of Oakley and Annie. She raised her hand a third time before she sat down. As she settled in, she thought to herself that the only reason she was doing this was because a police robot was right there, watching everyone go in. To not enter the theater with everyone else might have been seen as boldly unpatriotic. The last thing she needed right now was to get arrested during her attempt to liberate her brethren.

As Latias shifted about in her seat, waiting for the film to begin (she had gotten there a half-hour early, since she just wanted to get in and not be harassed anymore), she observed the police robots as they walked down the rows, picking out people and asking them questions. Suddenly, a robot hand clamped her wrist, as if testing her blood pressure. Bewildered, she looked up at the robot, which said to her, in that characteristic monotone of computers,
“Fear not, madam. I have been directed by our virtuous Leaders to ask patrons of the State Movie House for leads on the whereabouts of Latios, a dangerous criminal who will stop at nothing to murder good citizens like you and to dishonor the Leaders. I have police illustrations available for you as a courtesy, along with a physical description of this man.”
Latias was surprised to be addressed as “madam” when she had always been known by her name or as “dear sister.” What shocked her even more, though, was hearing her brother be declared an insane man whose only motive in life was to kill and destroy. The truth was that he sought to live and help live: she recalled all the times he searched for the mothers of young Pokémon who got separated while still at a vulnerable age, reuniting them, and the times he tended to ill or injured Pokémon he found as she flew around Altomare with him. It gave her much happiness not only to have a brother like that, but also to have helped him and even cared for some Pokémon herself. Nevertheless, she simply looked at the information, acted as if deep in thought, then confessed that she had no information on where he was, which was the truth. The robot then asked her, on a grave note,
“Would you lay down your life for Oakley and Annie?”
Latias, knowing she was having her pulse monitored to make sure she did not lie, slowed her pulse a little, as she emphatically insisted that she would, in fact, die for Oakley and Annie if she was called upon to do so. The robot, satisfied that she had given it truthful answers, walked away into the depths of the theater. As the lights dimmed, a tall, thin man, wearing a dark suit with a walnut-colored tie, ebony shoes, and dark sunglasses settled in next to her. Latias wondered who he could be, because the way in which he carried himself was very much like the way Latios carried himself. At the same time, though, she remembered not to get her hopes up prematurely, since Latios probably stayed in The Box as the middle-aged, pajama-wearing man she saw in her last dream.
During the film (which was just a false documentary of Oakley and Annie’s robot army that portrayed conquests the narrator called “glorious”), the same machine that questioned Latias questioned the man in the sunglasses as well. The routine was almost exactly identical:
“Fear not, sir. I have been directed . . . “
When the robot finished his query, the man stood up, and removed his sunglasses with the other hand not clamped by the robot, saying so the whole audience could hear it,
“Why lie? I am Latios!”
The entire audience gasped at this revelation, although Latias gasped out of joy, not shock. Latios placed his free hand on the robot’s shoulder, and it unclamped his hand before it could fire a single Pokéball. He stooped down, facetiously asking the robot, with a remarkably straight face,
“Excuse me, sir, but what’s your impression of our current heads of state?”
The robot responded, in a squeaky ventriloquist’s voice,
“I think they’re ugly little maggots with lumpy gravy for brains! If we lived in a free society, I’d vote them out! Who needs people that spit on liberty and make us worship moronic statues anyway?”
At first, the audience did not know how to respond. People looked quizzically at each other, then at the screen (which was showing a patriotic clip of Oakley/Annie footage at an inauguration ceremony), then at the exits. Someone tried to stifle a laugh. Giggling ensued. Finally, the audience roared. Some were even crying, they chuckled so hard. As a follow-up, Latios walked away from the robot, then marched back to the limp hunk of metal, saying in a falsely threatening voice,
“You have dishonored the Leaders! You must die!”
Latios delivered the robot a punch that dented its casing and sent it sailing over the audience and into the wall behind the movie screen. The enormous hole in the screen permitted the audience to see the little clouds of plaster dust and the sparks that came from behind the robot. More laughter followed, and some even dared to cheer.
The two minutes of unbridled satire that Latios gave the audience were in stark contrast to the two hours of militarism that Oakley and Annie gave them. Likewise, the hooting and hollering was very different from the grave-like silence that followed when a corps of police robots marched into the theater, machine-gun launchers poised to fire and loaded with Great Balls. All of them lined up in one of the aisles, fifty or sixty of them, their weapons pointed at Latios. The movie suddenly stopped and the lights came on, as the dark-suited man’s glassy, dragon-like red eyes sparkled with an air of defiance, the silver-plated launchers reflecting in those dancing rubies with the dingy yellow light. Latios coolly reached into his coat as all the hammers on the launchers clicked as a warning that they were loaded and ready to fire at the slightest provocation. But he did not pull a switchblade or a gun out of his pocket. It was a photograph of Oakley and Annie being saluted by a row of top-ranking robots as they marched down an aisle, Hitler-like. He held the photograph as if he were going to tear it. The audience held its breath as Latios held everyone in suspense. Then, with a ripping noise that reverberated loudly through the silent hall, the audience gasped as one. Latias believed her brother might as well have thrown himself over a jagged gorge; to deface a photograph of the Leaders probably meant life imprisonment at the very least. Then, she thought he had flipped his lid and lost his marbles, too, when he dropped the halves on the floor and spat on them, smearing in the saliva with his shoe. Some people fainted, for this crime probably meant death on the spot. The robots stood still, quiet as diabolical trees of metal, taking everything in through their eerie, camera-like eyes.
Latios crossed his arms and stood silently as well, glaring at the robots with his own shining scarlet eyes. The robots squeezed the triggers on their launchers, and out came an ocean of Great Balls and the rat-tat-rat-tat stutter of what sounded like a million typewriters, typing all at once. Everyone dove for cover, except Latios, who was miraculously still standing in the very same position, even after all of the robots’ magazine clips were used up. Out of ammunition, the robots retreated before the emboldened crowd could trample them as they stampeded out. Latias and Latios were left behind in the empty theater, littered with the carcasses of mountains of Great Balls. They ran out together, behind the tattered movie screen, past the smoldering robot still pressed into the wall, and down an emergency stage exit.

Halfway downstairs, they turned to face each other, and, for the first time in over four days, united in a long, warm embrace. They found that although it was very different from when they were in the form of dragons, it nonetheless gave them much happiness to lock their arms around each other for the first time in what seemed like an eternity. Neither of them had ever imagined that they would see each other again, let alone embrace. As they gazed into each other’s misty eyes, standing with no one else on the painted concrete platform, Latias composed herself, and asked Latios,
“That must have taken a great deal of courage, to defy a regime you value below everything else so bravely and to risk your life as well. Now, let me ask you this, dear brother: Why were you not captured? Thousands of Great Balls came hurtling toward you, and not one caught you. How did that happen? It was as if an invisible force field were around you, protecting you from the onslaught.”
After blotting his eyes on the sleeve of his coat, Latios replied,
“Yes, dear sister, you are very observant. I was safeguarded by a force field, but not one of pure psychic energy. I had the Soul Dew jewel with me, and that was what gave me the power to resist the torrent of Great Balls. I am very tired, Latias. I have not been able to rest at all since I was captured several days back in that cavern. Now, not even the Soul Dew jewel can give me the ability to triumph over Oakley and Annie unless I rest for about a week. But you, Latias, have been able to rest fairly often during your time in The Box. Perhaps I was a bit too confident that I could get to Oakley and Annie single-handedly, even though I said it would be up to you to rescue us all. Take the Soul Dew jewel, and use it in the struggle against Oakley and Annie. I am positive that you can use it more wisely than I ever could.”
Latios reached inside his shirt, and pulled out the Soul Dew jewel, which was hanging from a leather string, up over his head, and placed it around Latias’ neck. Initially at a loss for words, she protested, saying,
“But Latios, you have never before entrusted me with the Soul Dew jewel! I haven’t even received any instructions on how to use it! How can you expect me to use it more wisely than you?”
“With or without the Soul Dew jewel, you are a fearless and intelligent warrior. You saw me as I collapsed in the cave. I expended too much energy too early in attacking them. You were smart—you decided to just hold your ground and taunt our foes occasionally until they ran out of Pokéballs. I was too rash—that’s why I fainted. How else could you have avoided getting caught by those stupid robots? I barely made it out of The Box to get the Soul Dew jewel and back in to bring it to you. I must have played ‘dead’ ten times and changed my appearance another twenty times. (I never could figure out how to change the color of my eyes. I think that was what gave me away, since few humans have red eyes.) My point is that you are fully capable of triumphing. As for me not letting you use the Soul Dew jewel, that was partly my fault. From the time you were just a hatchling, I took it upon myself to safeguard you from all harm, even though I am only about three thousand years older than you are. For legendary Pokémon, that’s only like growing for a few years as a human being. I always thought that you were too young to use the jewel. Maybe I was right for a while, but now you’re growing up. We are no longer hatchlings. We are young dragons that will become adult dragons in just five or six thousand years. You, as my sister, have every bit as much right to the jewel as I do, maybe more so, since you are wise in every sense of the word, as much and more than I could ever hope to be. And don’t worry about how to use it; there are no hard and fast rules for using the jewel. Just let your instincts guide you, and you’ll do just fine. I know it—I can feel it.”
Latias was so honored that her older brother thought so highly of her, his younger sister, that she was at a loss for words again. She hugged him, a second time, and said, “Thank you, Latios. I won’t run from the challenge. I’ll either come out with The Box broken, or get captured trying.”


“All the lonely people/Where do they all come from?/All the lonely people/Where do they all belong?” From “Eleanor Rigby” on “Revolver” by The Beatles

Every time Latias took a step, she heard a hollow clank on the sidewalk that seemed to echo all through her body and ring on the inside of her head. Watching her walk the streets of Box City, it was apparent that she was not being followed by a robot; rather, she was a robot. To be more precise, she had transformed herself from a woman into a cyborg that, on the outside, looked exactly like a police robot, but on the inside, contained muscle and bone instead of motherboards and bytes. She even had a Pokéball launcher that she took from an unsuspecting robot as it recharged its batteries. But Latias took no pleasure in scaring all of the people out of her way as she made the trek to Government Complex No. 1, where Latios told her Oakley and Annie were hiding. She just wanted to get there and make quick work of what she needed to do. It did not help her to know that Oakley and Annie probably had all sorts of despicable stunts up their sleeves, either. And, perhaps, most importantly, she would be taking on two foes with no allies to back her up. Nonetheless, she reminded herself of her brother’s insistence that she was entirely capable of winning the fight against totalitarianism.
Having disguised herself as a top-rank police robot (she noticed a long time ago that the robots had a numeral printed on their arms, with a “5” being the lowest and a “1” being the highest), she had no problem riding the elevator to the top floor, whose elevator button was marked,
“Oakley and Annie, the Exalted Leaders of The Box. RESTRICTED TO TOP-RANKING OFFICIALS ONLY.”
When she finally got to the top, Latias was taken aback by the long hallway that separated her from another room with heavy red velvet doors guarded by two more robots. She analyzed the situation, knowing there was probably a trap somewhere that she couldn’t see. She was particularly concerned about the tiled floor, which seemed the most suspicious thing of all. She noticed, however, that the checkered tiles, which had an alternating black-white-black pattern, had some white tiles where black tiles should have been. Also, there were two rows of grotesque Charizard gargoyles that ran parallel to the tiled hallway.
Putting all these observations together, Latias decided that she had to jump from one misplaced white tile to the next one and the next, until she got to the end. If she stepped on any of the other tiles, she reasoned, the gargoyles would attack her with bursts of deadly high-frequency gamma rays or even laser beams! Calming her pumping heart (if she got too warm, the robots would know she was a phony), she gingerly stepped on the first misplaced white tile. She heard a loud click. She hopped to the next one, and the next, and the next, and landed on the last misplaced tile. With a loud thump, all the gargoyles were drawn back into the dark walls of the hallway.
Latias approached the robot guards. Noting that they had red stars on their arms, she realized that they were members of an elite group of bodyguards designed to protect Oakley and Annie. She saluted the guards with a Hitleresque flair, and the guards asked what her business was. She replied, in her best imitation of a robot’s voice,
“I have intelligence on the whereabouts of those wretched anarchists, Latias and Latios.”
They asked for proof of the information, and Latias pulled out the Soul Dew jewel from her ammunition hip case, saying,
“This jewel is closely tied to them. If they are nearby, the jewel will glow brightly and make a pleasant chime. Also, if a mystic holds it, he can use it to determine their thoughts, which would be excellent for foiling their plans.”
The guards swung open the doors, and Latias walked in, placing the Soul Dew jewel back in the case. It was an enormous, imposing room that had a great deal of plush cushions strewn on Italian couches, chairs with accents of pure 24-karat gold, fine Oriental rugs, velvet curtains, marble statues (many being of Oakley and Annie), exotic plants, aquariums of tropical fish, and a huge desk and chair that were covered in more gold and encrusted with all sorts of precious stones. The desk was flanked by two vast Box City flags, their familiar green-and-white duo all too disgusting and horrifying to Latias. She noticed that the chair, whose back was to her, seemed to have no one sitting in it. Completely inert, it seemed suspicious that it was not being used (it was mid-afternoon) and even more bizarre that it was turned precisely 180 degrees.
She fired a Pokéball at the chair, which immediately exploded, bursting into flames. As the thick plumes of black smoke rose, all the windows suddenly opened, and a sprinkler system began operating as a banshee-like alarm blared loudly. Oakley ran in from the adjacent room, which had a door with the words “CENTRAL CONTROLLING SYSTEM” painted on it. Latias immediately saluted her as she did the robot guards.
“Well done, Latias,” said Oakley. “You were smart enough to attack anything that looked out-of-place with a weapon fired from afar. I guess you’re not as dense as your thickheaded brother, whom we captured with great ease. For a Pokémon, you’re remarkably sharp. But I’ll show you that humans are always smarter than the lesser beasts that populate the world outside The Box. Man shall not be conquered by a meddling dragon!”
Latias, still in the form of a cyborg, said,
“Leader, I do not understand. I am Drone #9786—“
“I’m not stupid! I saw on the security camera that you had the Soul Dew jewel with you! Now, I’ll fight you for it so we can control The Box and the entire world in perfect harmony with each other! Just think! Everyone will be prosperous and happy . . . “
And oppressed and brainwashed, thought Latias to fill in the rest of Oakley’s sentence. They might as well be in prison if they’re going to live in The Box. That’s a perfect name for this realm, because no one can think outside of it.
“What is prosperity and happiness if love and freedom don’t accompany them? Are you truly prosperous and happy, Oakley? Can you say ‘yes’ with a straight face? Does it bring you real contentedness to oppress and punish?,” asked Latias as she transformed into her most natural, comfortable state of being: the scarlet, feathered dragon with amber eyes and spiked wings.
Oakley greedily eyed the ammunition pack Latias was still wearing, longing for the Soul Dew jewel that was hidden inside. Oakley casually tried to lower Latias’ guard by tempting her with the prospect of becoming the third Leader, but Latias adamantly refused everything, saying,
“I prefer to rip apart boxes than create new ones.”
Frustrated and fed up, Oakley lunged at Latias without thinking. Latias, whose hand had been on the launcher all this time, pulled the trigger with an ivory claw, and captured Oakley. Latias then put the Soul Dew jewel around her neck, doubling the string to make it harder to take off, and tossed the launcher, the ammunition pack, and Oakley’s Pokéball into a drawer. She felt like everything else weighed her down and made it more difficult to react to things.

Latias carefully snuck into the Central Controlling System, expecting a similar trap like the exploding chair she had encountered earlier. There was nothing that leapt out at her as being a clear and present risk; just row after row of computer monitors and a huge steel cage at then end of the warehouse-like room. It was unnervingly quiet, and one could even hear the buzz of the fluorescent lamps and the soft humming from the steel cage. She thought she heard someone take a breath. She spun around, levitating, trying to make out who it was. She then resumed her self-guided tour of the unearthly controlling center. As Latias floated about, she glanced at some of the computer monitors, which read things like “WHEAT OUTPUT => [0.37xcu + 0.4978xsq + 0.2216x + 0.97]” and “TAX REVENUES => [0.98xcu + 0.7324xsq + 0.0076x + 2.34].” It seemed as if every aspect of the lives of Box City residents was not even governed by a human being or any living entity. This massive chunk of metal, plastic, and silicon at the other end of the room was what performed the tasks of tyranny. Oakley and Annie were just figureheads, people who pretended to rule and actually did nothing to run the government.
When Latias reached the other end of the controlling center, she could not help but think about how strange it was to have a bunch of living, breathing creatures reduced to identification numbers and mathematical functions. Life here truly was like living in a box, since anything that was outside of the accepted norm suddenly became illegal. No one conducted himself by a set of universal principles that could be counted on the fingers here; they all mindlessly conformed to the innumerable laws that stretched to the very reaches of the crack of doom. Nature did not dictate that the happy person was to cower before walking lumps of metal, or raise his hand at a lump of rock, or assume a form he was not born with. The Box, however, did just that. Nature sought to give everything a chance to be unique, the rarity that nothing else could ever hope to simulate. The Box, however, shoved people into categories and sub-categories, and in The Box, individuals were dangerous and a threat to everyone.
Finally, Latias found an enormous red button marked,
Latias thought the robbery of essential freedoms comprised an emergency, so she reached out to press it. Suddenly, a woman leapt out from underneath a nearby monitor and grabbed her in a headlock! It was none other than Annie, whose entire body was gripped with fury. Through gritted teeth, she hissed,
“You’ve reached the end of the line, you little red meddler! You’ll never destroy my noble society, The Fair Box, and you’ll never see your precious gem or your idiotic brother ever again. I’ll lock you up so you never see the light of day! I’ll eat the key to the lock! Mark my words!”
Latias clutched Annie’s arm with one hand, claws digging into her shirt, and held on to the Soul Dew jewel with the other, while taking in a deep breath, as if fighting for her very life.
“If you don’t give me that jewel, this will be your last breath, I swear!”
Latias began ruffling her feathers and expelled a scream so piercing that Annie immediately let her go and plugged her ears. Latias flew away, and sailed into the far corners of the controlling center. She tucked in her arms, and began to fly at a greater speed. Annie could only stand and watch, curious as to what the majestic scarlet dragon was doing as she darted around, faster and faster still. She began to glow, using the Soul Dew jewel, and became just a red blur against the pale gray ceiling. A loud rumbling began, and Annie ran out as she realized that Latias was going to destroy the computer monitors with her sonic boom! She grabbed a Pokéball launcher and tried to fire her last few Master Balls at Latias, but to no avail. She dropped the launcher and made a dash for the elevator to take her away from the terrifying rattle. First, she stopped to free Oakley from her Pokéball (she had watched her encounter with Latias on a security camera), and then they ran away, as if the building were going to collapse any second.
As Latias blasted through the stale air that smelled like plastic, she reflected on the fact that it was not destroying The Box that was so difficult, in and of itself: it was overcoming her own skepticism that she could do it by herself. She realized just how much she had gotten out of this whole Box City mess. Not only did she feel closer to her brother than she ever had in her life (Latias knew it was an immense act of trust for Latios to give her the Soul Dew jewel, trust that could only be had in a very close relationship), but she also felt like she had aged ten thousand years, as if she had matured a great deal. Now, it was time for the sun to go down—once and for all—upon the wretched Box.
She tore through the aisles of computer monitors, allowing her fearsome shock waves to do the work for her. Every one of them were blown off the tables, the glass shattering into hundreds of tiny pieces before falling to the ground with the old, yellow-gray plastic cases. It was really a beautiful sight, in a frightening sort of way, as the glass shards made a small fireworks show amid the popping of cathode-ray tubes. When all the monitors were felled, smelling of smoke, Latias then tore off the heavy steel gate to the mysterious cage, sending the hinges flying off with her sonic boom and slipping out of harm’s way before the ponderous gate came tumbling down on the dead computer monitors, with resounding crashes, echoes, and re-echoes.
But the bodyguard robots, ever faithful to their fallen Leaders, came charging in, about twenty of them, and began to fire Ultra Balls at her with machine-gun launchers. She deflected the balls by doing a continuous barrel roll, and bowled over the robots, knocking them back into the Leaders’ study with a blast of sonic energy. As she hurtled toward the naked supercomputer that was the true governing force in this horribly mislead society, and allowed all of her indignation to surge through her body, Latias stored up her energy with the greatest feeling of urgency. She immediately started sweating, first in drops, then in rivulets, as the opening notes of her grand finale began. Her entire body was soaked in just a few seconds. When she could no longer stand it, she let forth an incredible, super-nova-like sphere of psychic energy, more than she had ever sent out before that. The supercomputer absorbed all of the energy, sending out huge showers of blue and orange sparks before it crackled and died. Nothing remained of the supercomputer, except the charred black plastic case and some puddles of liquefied metal, along with a cloudbank of pure, sooty smoke.

All the lights suddenly shut off, plunging Latias into utter darkness. She slowed down and flew to the study, where she hopped out one of the windows and proudly flew in the inky darkness. Fortunately, the streetlights were still on, even though the false sun was not. She supposed there was an emergency back-up source of electricity somewhere in The Box. All the police robots and their hovercraft were frozen in place as she lowered her altitude to get a better view of the streets. Not one human was to be found anywhere; just a lot of Pokémon who were cheering as an angry mob threw paint on the biggest statue of Oakley and Annie in the City. She announced to the crowd that she knew how to get out of The Box. An exodus ensued, for every Pokémon in Box City had come to the paint-splattered monument. She opened the nearby porthole with the Soul Dew jewel, and Pokémon of all types, colors, and sizes dove through the hole. Just as Latias was about to float in, after everyone else had gone through, Oakley and Annie ran down the sidewalk, screaming,
“Wait! Don’t leave us here! Let’s make a deal!”
Latias glared at them, as if to say, “Be gone, evildoers!,” and sailed in, closing the porthole. Oakley and Annie pounded the granite wall where the porthole had been, sobbing and moaning,
“Please! No! Come back!”
After Latias came out of The Box, she immediately shut down the computer and unplugged it. As she held it in her arms, flying about, she led all the displaced Pokémon back home, to the wilds of Altomare. Then, she flew over the ocean, and dropped the computer into the briny depths, the splash announcing the eternal banishment of Oakley and Annie to a world beyond space and time, where they could forever ponder the severity of their deeds. Finally, Latias flew home, removing the Soul Dew jewel from around her neck, putting it back on its pedestal. Exhausted and filthy, she laid down near Latios, who was already fast asleep, having transformed himself back into the blue dragon she loved so dearly. I’ll play in the ocean with him and get this sweaty soot out of my feathers, she thought to herself as she started to fall asleep, thinking how happy he would be to see her when he awakened, the new heroine of the world.


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