June 30, 1908. In the dim hours of that morning, a meteorite exploded over Siberian Russia. Modern scientists estimate that the energy had been equal to that of a thermonuclear bomb. Witnesses described it as a flash of blue light almost as brilliant as the sun. The shockwaves alone were enough to flatten over seven hundred square miles of forest. And the object itself? The size of two school buses end to end. Scientists called this the Tunguska event.
In order to picture what a meteor the size of one school bus could do, the logical action would be to divide everything by half. Take three hundred square miles of forest out of the Tunguska event. Dim the brilliant, blue light of the meteorite until it becomes a star half as bright as the sun. Imagine that the resulting air burst releases the energy equivalent to five hundred nuclear bombs instead of one thousand.
On September 27, 2000, almost one hundred years after the Tunguska event, that was exactly how scientists described the bus-sized meteor heading directly towards Earth.
The meteor in question was dubbed 2000 SE, and it came without warning. That in itself would have been unusual. There was astronomical equipment all over the world, and not one of them spotted an object of that size until it was almost as close as the moon. But that wasn’t what grabbed the media’s attention. What did was the fact that it was heading directly towards Earth, and with its speed, researchers estimated that it would reach the planet in four days. More specifically, it was heading to a point just outside of Fortree City.
Hoenn’s regional government had never staged a full-scale evacuation of an entire city. Despite monsoons and the activity of two weather-altering legendaries, the region was never threatened significantly enough to warrant an evacuation of that magnitude. But it had to be done. Certainly, Fortree had survived far more earthquakes, storms, and general natural disasters than it should have, what with it being a city built entirely in the treetops, but the Japanese parliament wasn’t going to assume that it would survive a meteor strike that close to its borders. So over the course of three days—the three days before 2000 SE would pass through the Earth’s atmosphere—the entire city of Fortree took what it could and left.
On the fourth night, it turned out that the government was correct in their decision. Fortree was doomed.
It rained fire the night 2000 SE exploded, and the blasts emanating from its shattering masked the cracking of the forest that held the city aloft. Had anyone been in the city, they would never hear the screaming of the wood supports splintering. They would never hear the boom of their homes falling. They would never hear the crashing of glass or the screeching of bending metal. Not while the air resonated with the blast of the meteorite, anyway. Only when the resonance of the explosion died down, and only when the skies fell silent, did the last shrieks of the falling city echo through the night air.
And then, there was silence.
Outside of the city, beyond the red-hot craters that the meteorites carved out for themselves, there were two listeners. The first was an absol who stood guard at the Ancient Tomb with his red eyes to the sky. His pack had already been gone for days. Many of them had been part of the pokémon exodus that started almost a week ago, long before the humans knew 2000 SE existed. Others stayed and tried to warn the humans, and this party departed after Fortree was finally evacuated. All that was left was the single absol, who had, up until the explosion, kept his red eyes to the sky and his teeth bared in a constant, low growl.
It was because he knew something else was going to happen. He could feel the cold, familiar weight of his premonitions in his bones, but for the life of him, he couldn’t see what he was meant to warn the humans about. And then, when the star exploded and sent a shockwave of trembling earth and hot wind across the route, the absol braced himself against the tomb’s rocky walls and gritted his teeth. The feeling in his bones grew heavier with each passing second until it reached a peak the moment the hot winds died down. His paws scrambled over the loose earth, and he raced down the hillside towards the craters. In his mind, his visions began to resolve, and all he could see was red.
The ground grew hotter as he drew closer to one of the impact craters, but he couldn’t stop. His entire body was focused completely on that cold, heavy feeling deep inside him—the feeling of his supernatural senses vibrating with his last vision. Any moment now, he would know. He would know exactly what message he needed to deliver.
Suddenly, the ground almost ended beneath him, giving way to the red edge of a crater. He stopped, staring deep into the pit at the rock that sat at its heart. His muzzle snapped in frantic barks, and he paced along the rim. All the while, he steadied his eyes on the glowing, red surface of the meteorite. Every pit in its face, every imperfection in the stone made the feeling deep inside the absol grow until it filled his entire being. Something wasn’t right. Something was about to happen. Something terrible was about to be born.
Then, he saw what he came to see. His paws froze, and his mouth shut.
A crack laced up the side of the meteor. At first, it was only an inch wide by a foot long, but then, it grew until it resembled a gaping smile turned sideways. The longer the absol stared at it, the more he realized that the glow was not coming from the surface of the rock but rather from within it, pulsing with every passing second like a heartbeat. This, the absol knew, was exactly what he was supposed to foresee. His lips puckered, and in that pause, he emitted a short, high-pitched whine.
That was when the meteorite cracked completely open and released the sea of red light. It rushed up the side of the crater before the absol could discern what it was, and within seconds, it washed over him.
Miles away, the absol’s pained howling echoed through the air, and the second listener raised her head.
Her name was Phoebe, and she had just completed two weeks of training atop Mt. Pyre. Now, she was descending the mountain for supplies. She had no idea that the absol’s howl was a warning.
That night, a war erupted because of her.