It was bright. Too bright. I raised a paw to shield my eyes from the fierce glare, moaning from the piercing pain it sent into my brain. As my pupils adjusted, I found myself staring around with wonder. There were tall brown things with big bushy green tops, and smaller green stuff that was soft and springy under my body. Dotted around were pretty colourful things that gave the air a nice, scented aroma. I shivered as a breeze passed by my body - my blue fur was still wet from my time in the egg, and the wind chilled me. Without warning I was covered in a thick, warm sheet and raised off the ground. I twisted in alarm as a hand came towards me, holding a small red and white ball. There was a flash of red, then nothing.
When I next came to, I could immediately tell I was in a different place. The air smelt completely different, and the overall atmosphere thrummed with energy. I cowered in fear - to go from somewhere so calm to somewhere so full of life was a huge leap my newborn mind could not handle. I noticed there was another one like me before me - only he was different. He was big and strong, with spikes instead of the rounded bumps I had, and his torso was covered in thick, shaggy yellow fur. He snarled at me playfully, and I growled back weakly. He chuckled. "Okay, Aegle!" I heard behind me, and I turned to see a boy standing there. I realised he had been calling me, and wilted a little; Aegle was a girl's name. But oh well. His face was filled with excitement, and I could feel that very same aura seeping into me. I was ready! Ready to... uh... do something. But what? "Get back!" he called, and I tilted my head i confusion. I had only just got out... The flash of red came again, then there was nothing.
This happened several times. Each time I came to before a huge, terrifying monster, just to be 'returned', as the boy put it. But each time, I also felt more and more powerful. Eventually the time came when the boy, my 'trainer', didn't return me. Instead he let me 'battle'. I didn't know what I was supposed to be doing, or the point of it, but it was the most fun I had ever had. I dodged and weaved, hitting my enemy with punches and tackles. After listening to the strange sounds my trainer made, I learnt his name was Zach, and the region we were in was Sinnoh. I grew to love my trainer so much, I didn't think there was anything better than being with him, travelling Sinnoh and battling together. He was my master... and I loved my master! It wasn't long after I began standing on my own two paws that I felt a strange sensation. I had just beaten a Gabite on Victory Road. I began to shiver violently, and I heard excited noises from my trainer's mouth. What was happening to me? I freaked out as my body began to glow, shining a dazzling white as a warm feeling began in the pit of my stomach. It spread throughout my chest and legs, following through into my arms, hands and feet. I was growing, changing, my arms and legs lengthening and morphing to different shapes. Yellow fur sprouted on my torso as my ears and snout elongated and two pear shape appendages grew underneath my ears, next to the two that already existed. And all this took less than ten seconds. I almost collapsed with exhaustion as I heard a faint voice announce 'Congratulations! Your Aegle has evolved into LUCARIO!' The all too familiar flash of red filled my vision, and I fell into a deep sleep.
The next period of my life flashed by in a blur. I was always battling, usually against the elite 4 and champion, and I even got to face off against amazing beasts of legends. At those times, I truly was fighting for my life. I knew my trainer loved me dearly, which is why I didn't mind when I heard him talking to his friend about training me for a while. He really liked her, and I didn't want to offend her and make him angry. I allowed myself to be traded over, though I didn't really understand what it meant. The feeling of exhilaration I got is hard to describe... I felt like I was in a million pieces, soaring through the air, until I appeared before her. "Be good to Zoe now, Aegle," Zach said, and I nodded. I was sad that he would leave me, but he said it would only be until Sunday, three days away. I could handle that. Zoe seemed to love me a lot, too. I got along with her, but I'd never love her like I loved my trainer. See battled with me an awful lot, and I don't know whether master gave her permission but she changed my name to 'Zeta'. I don't like that name. It sounds even more feminine than 'Aegle'. I want my old name back. "Okay, Zeta!" she squealed as she sent me out just after my name was changed. I shook my head in irritation; her voice always shot right through my ears. I hated it. "This is your first battle, so look sharp!" First battle? What was she talking about? I'd battled with her many, many times... Too many to count... But I put it aside as the blue aura formed between my paws. With a cry, I shot it at my opponent.
I've been with Zoe a long time. Surely three days have passed by now...? Master, where are you?
It's been so long, at least a month... Where is Zach? Where is my master? MASTER?!?
... He's forgotten me. He must have... I heard him and her, yesterday... he asked how her new team was going... And she asked him about me. He said I'm doing fine, but I'm not, and how would he know anyway? I haven't seen or spoken to him in ages... He's... forgotten me...
I've lost track of how long I've been with Zoe now. I can barely remember my old trainer... his name has faded from my memory. I wish he'd come back... I miss him so much... I overheard them talking today. He was trying to convince her to do double battles. What is a double battle? Maybe she'll use me. Or maybe she won't... I wouldn't care either way. I'm dead, inside...
"Okay, Team!" I heard her say. "Today we will do double battles! That means I need two of you out at the same time... I know, Zeta!" My ears barely twitched as my 'name' was called. "And Alpha!" Alpha? Who was Alpha? I didn't even know that there was anyone besides me travelling with Zoe. I'd just never thought about it. I was sure she would notice my lack of energy, but no. She acted as peppy as usual as the familiar cry rang out, "Go, Zeta!" That name really made my skin crawl. It was closely followed by, "Go, Alpha!" Oh? So a double battle means you have two Pokemon out at once. Well, this would be different. Maybe I could squeeze some enjoyment out of this. I turned to my right to get a look at my partner... and nearly screamed. He was exactly like me. He even had the scar across my eye that I got when I was still being trained by my old master. I felt shock eating its way through my stomach, but it didn't stop there. Alpha fainted that turn, to be replaced by another Pokemon, named Beta - He looked like me too. As my life points were slowly chipped away, I got a look at every member of the team. Alpha, Beta, Delta, Gamma, Epsilon... All of them were Lucario - all of them were me. I welcomed the final blow to my HP. Slipping into unconsciousness was a release from the raging thoughts my brain was suddenly pummelled with. As darkness drew in only one word remained in my mind; Why...?
As I fought in more double battles, it came to me - if these Pokemon were the same, were clones of each other, did that mean... could I be a clone too? Zeta... the sixth letter in the Greek Alphabet. Alpha was the first. If Alpha was the original... Wait a second! I had memories of being with my old trainer, of being loved, of being born from an egg! Of being named, of growing, of an entire life! How could that all be fake? How? How? HOW!?!? I seized my chance to grab some answers when I was in my next double battle. Alpha came out alongside me, and tentatively I ventured a hello. He turned to me, suspiciousness and curiosity in his eyes. "Hi," he replied. Nothing more could be said as the battle began, but I seized my chance later that night. By focusing, I was able to release myself from my Pokeball, and released Alpha too. He looked at me strangely when I told him I wanted to talk. "So," I began. I didn't really know what to say. "Could you... tell me about... you know... your life?" His expression turned to surprise, but he obliged. He told me of birth, of a great trainer, of evolving after beating a Gabite... and of being abandoned by his trainer. He told me he had been given to Zoe, battled with extensively, and had his name changed. I gulped softly as I asked him what his old name was. I looked down at my spiked paws. I was shaking. "My old name?" Alpha thought for a minute, then his eyes lit up. "Oh, yes! It wasn't really that great, but it was better than 'Alpha'. 'Aegle'. It's Greek, you know, but it's..." He shuddered in disgust. "A girl's name. Nothing worse than that, right? Zeta? ...Zeta?" I didn't respond. I heard his words, but didn't... couldn't comprehend them. It was true... It was... I lashed out in anger at Alpha, and his shocked eyes slowly dimmed as I removed my spike from his stomach. We couldn't be the same... We just couldn't! It doesn't work like that! On the outside we may be the same, but inside... Inside we must be different! I found myself tearing at Alpha's body, wanting, no, needing to find that one telltale sign that we were different, we weren't... clones... I found nothing. I felt rage pure and deep coursing through my veins. I was NOT the same as them. I was my own Pokemon. Cursing my very existence, I picked up Beta's Pokeball. Growling, I sent him out. He looked at me in confusion, but no words came as I ripped at his chest. His mouth widened in shock and blood poured from the wounds and within seconds he was gone. I pulled apart organs, bones and muscle, but everything was the same. EVERY. FREAKING. THING. Dropping his heart, I reached for Delta's ball. Same story. I shredded his skin, searching, always searching, but my efforts fruitless. Why? Why had she done this to me?! Gamma. Gamma must be different. But no. His liver was identical to Alpha's, stomach the same as Beta's. We were all THE SAME! HOW?! WHY?! I turned with a snarl tearing from my throat. There was one left. One. There was no way Epsilon was the same. I sent him out, but unlike the others, the look he gave me was full of knowing. He nodded gravely. I hesitated, but I needed to know. As I prepared to strike, a single word brought my paw to a halt. "Please." Epsilon's eyes, though filled with understanding, were also fearful. "Don't." My eyes widened, but I shook my head, setting a grim scowl on my face. I did not falter again, allowing all my anger and confusion out as I tore apart the Lucario's body. The same blood already splattered across my body spurted from him, coating me in even more of the crimson liquid. I scattered his entrails fervently, now desperate. I MUST have missed something. I wasn't a clone... I wasn't... wasn't... I fell to the ground, tears coursing down my cheeks. What was wrong with me?! Heavy sobs forced themselves out of me, air fighting to get down into my lungs. It hurt, the lack of oxygen, but the times when I was on the threshold of blacking out were the easiest to bear. Hearing my heart thumping loud in my ears and slowly fading away as I swayed from no air - it gave me comfort. I could pretend I was dying. Why couldn't I just DIE, here and now?! I screamed out my anguish, screamed until my throat was red raw and nothing but raspy and pathetic excuses for screams could escape. Those screams were like me; weak, useless, mere shadows of the scream that could be. That was all I was... A shadow. As the moments of torture wore on, my body grew exhausted, but never could I stop the tears, never could I quell the hoarse screams from my throat. I could only scream. I didn't know how to do anything else. My lungs were on fire and my heart felt as if it would shatter to pieces, and I wished that I was dead. Oh, how easy it would be to stab myself, I had the perfect spikes for the job already a part of my body... But I had not the courage. I could only rock back and forth in my misery as light filled the sky.
"Oh god... Zeta?" I woke from my tormented sleep surrounded by entrails and hardly recognisable body parts. Dark red blood had crusted on my fur and the stench of it filled my nostrils, my stomach violently rejecting the aroma. I gagged as Zoe approached, fear in her eyes. I stood quickly, a snarl building itself in my throat. This was HER fault. HERS. "YOU!" I screamed, and she jumped in surprise. My lungs were weak from the night before, but I could still summon a threatening growl. "YOU CLONED ME!" "W-w-what...?" she stammered, and I could sense her shaking aura. She would pay. She would pay. But first... "Zeta!" she shouted, more stern this time. "What happened here?!" Despite myself, I chuckled. Oh yes, I chuckled heartily. "What do you think?" I replied, holding up a heart. My stomach growled; I hadn't eaten for a long time, and suddenly this organ I held in my paw was a perfect meal. Keeping an eye on Zoe's expression, I tore a huge chunk from the heart and wolfed it down greedily. It was rather fulfilling, the remaining blood coursing down my throat. I watched her mouth open in horror, and grinned as she dry-heaved. I took a step towards her, dropping the remainder of my meal. She took a step back. "Take... me... to... Aegle," I growled, and she quickly obliged.
We met my old trainer in a strange room. There were only us, and he looked baffled. "What is it, Zoe?" he asked, but she could only sob. "I'm... I'm sorry, Zach..." she cried. I felt a rush of euphoria upon hearing his name; Zach. My beloved trainer. I held myself back from running over and hugging him, because I didn't know whether I would be tempted to tear out his heart too. He had left me; left me with one who only wanted to hurt me. The battle started. "Go! Aegle!" Zach called, and I held myself back from snarling. He still hadn't seen me. I was behind Zoe's back. "Go... Z-Z-Zeta..." she sobbed, and I could see the confusion on my master's face as I stepped out from behind her. He saw my scar and opened his mouth in shock. "... Aegle...?" he ventured, and I wagged my tail happily. My true name. "Zoe...? Who...?" he mumbled. I scoffed as she continued to sob 'sorry' continuously. It was pitiful. Without needing guidance I formed a sphere of my life energy and hurled it with all my might at Aegle. He flew back, an angry burn forming on his stomach. Without giving him time to recover, I leapt forward, slashing and biting at him. My anger was so fierce, so incredibly burning that I felt all control leave me. I was a wild and raging animal, attacking, attacking, attacking... "Turn it off!" Zach screamed, and I turned to see Zoe fiddling with something. I couldn't see what. Leaving behind Aegle's motionless and hardly recognisable corpse, I rushed towards Zoe, claws extended... And it all went black.
Pain. Such unimaginable, indescribable pain. I felt as if my body was being twisted, torn, corrupted and thrown in a million different directions at once. I opened my mouth to cry out, but no sound emerged. I closed my mouth, and the sound of screaming filled my ears. I was falling, falling, falling down into the deep darkness... As I faded into the black, I heard a voice whisper tauntingly, "The saved data has been corrupted."