Mewtwo leaps into the air with a surge of energy that thrums and sings around it, power rolling off its body in waves like it's never been allowed to feel before. The smoldering wreckage falls away beneath it and it never looks back.

Somewhere, in the dim and dusty corners of its memory, its mother shares an image of what she calls the sky, an endless stretch of bright blue and whispy white above and all around them. The sky is outside, she says. It is everywhere, and it is beautiful. One day we shall leave this place, and together we will soar through the sky and see all the wondrous things it touches.

Mewtwo is outside now, but alone—she is long gone, and this is not the sky of which she dreamed. There is no bright and soothing blue, only purple-black muddied by oppressive gray. The atmosphere is cold and heavy; a torrent of water streams down. The gray and purple are cut by a flash of light. The air itself growls, low and long like a cornered arcanine.

It is not much of a surprise that even the sky is displeased. The scientists kept Mewtwo locked away for a reason, after all. It is a weapon, they explained, created only to destroy, to win. Why should the world itself not recoil and protest when the embodiment of victory shows its face?

But let the sky growl and glare and weep. Mewtwo is here, now, ascending through the downpour and the dark. It will not go back to languishing in that prison of wires and tubes, whether the sky likes it or not.

Mewtwo knows little else about outside—only that the humans called this place "Cinnabar". What lies beyond? It cannot say. So it soars off in a random direction, for anywhere is better than here, and leaves the past in its wake.

The land-blot below disappears, replaced by an expanse of water that rolls out in all directions and adds its own hissing to the din. The sky-water drums down, soaks through its fur, stings its eyes and leaves it chilled, but Mewtwo rushes onward all the same. Humans could not stop it; why should water? It will be free.

Its mother never showed it this sort of sky, but it remembers occasional dull, faraway rumblings, heard even through the walls and fluid-filled tanks. It remembers the scientists approaching with their hair damp and clinging to their heads, complaining idly to one another that the rain and thunderstorms outside probably wouldn't let up before break time.

Know this, thunderstorm. I am Mewtwo. I am the strongest. I am stronger than any pokémon that dares stand before me. I am stronger than the humans who tried and failed to contain me in their halls of hubris, which now lie in blazing ruins. And I am stronger than you.

The thunderstorm rumbles in response. Mewtwo feels the air rushing past it now, pushing against it, buffeting it down toward the water until it steadies itself with a moment's concentration and climbs back up again.

Somewhere, in the dim and dusty corners of its memory, its mother shares the sensation of what she calls the wind. The wind is outside, too. It is soft and playful and carries the birds and the flower seeds and the warmth of the sun. One day we shall leave this place, and as we wander the world we will feel its sweet caress against our faces and will race it through the sky.

But she is gone, and this wind is not soft. It tears at Mewtwo like the blades of the kabutops in the lab's arena, swift and biting and raking down its sides. It snags and it pushes, tries to drag Mewtwo back, back to the lab, back to the humans, back to a life of darkness and control and pressure pent up in its skull.

Mewtwo's eyes flash. The energy streaming from its mind swells into a sphere of violet light that staves off the wind and scatters the rain before it ever touches skin.

It is Mewtwo. It is strong. It is stronger. It will win the race against the wind. It will not be defeated by the storm and the sky.

Now the water below gives way to land, and this, too, stretches out beyond the edges of Mewtwo's vision, far vaster than the smudge of dirt that once held its cell. There are buildings here as well, many of them, far down below. Mewtwo does not know if these are more labs, or if they serve some other wicked purpose. It can only see lights winking around the structures through the dark.

From this height, through all this rain, it cannot tell whether any humans are about. Mewtwo destroyed those who dared try to halt its escape, but it knows full well that there are others, others who watched the scientists watching it and waited to twist it to their own self-important will. Mewtwo was made, after all, to be the god of victory—their victory, over all the other pokémon and humans in the world.

Someday soon these others will be found and punished, their bodies broken the way they tried to break Mewtwo's mind, and victory will belong to Mewtwo alone. Until then, better that the little humans down below not get too clear a glimpse, so they can't go running and tell their masters where they might collect their runaway prize.

Mewtwo surges on, faster, farther, until the lab-clusters peter out and leave a span of open space beyond. Grass, she might have dreamt once as she showed it the world beneath the promise of blue skies, green and soft and wonderful. This grass is a dead gray in the murk of the storm, driven flat against the ground by the wind.

The rain drums a relentless rhythm against the shield, the energy sizzling and popping with each strike. Mewtwo tries to duck and weave around the gusts of air as they pick up their tempo, but no matter where it goes the wind is there to meet it. It has to concentrate just to keep from being held down like the grass. How much longer must it put up with this tiresome resistance? No refuge makes itself apparent as it scans the ground below. No overhangs, no roofs. No walls or quiet, insulating tanks to keep the wind at bay and muzzle the sky.

As it should be, Mewtwo reminds itself with a snarl. The storm might dare to test it, its head might throb with the effort of cutting through the squall, but anywhere is better than there. It must go faster, farther, and before long it will find someplace better still.

More hazy lights blink into view as the grass recedes, heralding an even broader stretch of labs. How many humans must there be, Mewtwo wonders as it soars above building after building after building, how many scientists huddled over how many stolen mothers and living tools and other warped experiments? How much farther must it go to be rid of its tormentors once and for all?

At least in this place the storm is eager to prove itself useful: Mewtwo can hear structures protesting under the weight of the wind, see pieces tear away from roofs and cables snap free of their moorings. A pittance compared to the masterwork Mewtwo left behind on Cinnabar, but certainly the very least the beasts deserve.

...they do deserve more, of course. Oh, so much more. Now isn't really the time—it should keep going while the rain and darkness mask its presence and pen the humans up in their holes. But it is Mewtwo, it is stronger than the humans and the storm, and oh, how satisfying it would be to ensure that they both know it. Besides, it has been flying through this mess for some time now. Surely a break, a moment's entertainment, is well-earned.

Mewtwo rasps out a laugh and gives in to the impulse, just this once: it hurls a sphere of blue energy through the rain at one of the larger buildings, savors the sight as the attack blasts clear through the structure's side. Then the petulant storm drowns out the satisfying sounds of crunching and crashing, and, sated for now, Mewtwo punches through the gusts and forges on.

A black-green mass sprawls out below now. A forest, she might have dreamt once, promising to take it to shelter and relax in the cool spaces beneath the trees, but this forest groans and shudders and cracks beneath the wind. These trees cannot be much shelter from this storm. It must press on, faster, farther...

The bloated clouds flash again. This time they spit a forked tongue of light that streaks down to the forest, like the bolts of the lab's electrode magnified a thousandfold, followed by a roar that shakes the air itself. Mewtwo blinks the afterimages away and glances back toward the point of impact; now flames race up and devour the trees, burning wild and bright in spite of the rain. Dozens of bird pokémon scatter before the fire.

The message is clear: the thunderstorm, too, is strong. It strikes. It burns. It destroys. But I am Mewtwo. I am stronger. You will not destroy me. I will be free. And it soars on, chest heaving as it howls and leaves its own brief tail of light in its wake.

Mewtwo's furious pace reduces the next sprawl of buildings to blobs of muted colors, their little lights stretched out into strings. A winding wall of stone towers beyond the light-strings in the distance. Mountains, she might have dreamt once, tall and majestic with a view of all the world, and here, at least, dream and reality almost align. How massive must they be, to dwarf all these labs and even the expanse of trees? "Majestic" does not fit so well. All Mewtwo notices is the way their peaks drop and spike, jagged, biting the sky—the snarl of the storm given fangs.

Back at the lab the roaring was so far away, meaningless aside from the sight of soggy scientists going about their torture-tasks with lots of irritable grumbling. But now, outside, with only a single bubble of raw defiance between it and chaos, its head pounds with the effort of maintaining speed and holding the shield steady. Each thud is a plea to stop, to land, to breathe for just a moment without having to wrestle the grinning, growling monster that wants it gone.

But it can't. Not yet. Anywhere is better than there, but even here, so far away from that dreadful ruin, the human infestation creeps along below, almost as if keeping pace. The impulse to lash out boils up again, the urge to match the storm strike for strike and prove that Victory Itself is not afraid, but the wind screams louder now, shoves harder, hurls more hissing rain against the shield in hopes of smashing through. Mewtwo ignores the noise and quashes its temper and focuses instead on the keening whine of psychic energy, the sound of its own willpower holding out against the fury.

WHAM. The not-so-distant wall of stone looms up before the distracted Mewtwo can react. Shockwaves roll through the shield and into Mewtwo's body. It drops the energy, tumbles, momentarily forgets which way is up. It kicks off the mountainside to push itself away; the wind barrels headlong into it and sends it spinning back; it snarls, throws up its arms to keep the pummeling at bay, and forces out another shield. More light stabs out of the sky and dashes against the rock—so close, too close, it's hot and it stings and it's too close—and Mewtwo kicks again, lashing tail propelling it in a new direction.

...Is it new? Mewtwo cannot tell with its eyes watering and its mind protesting every dash and dodge. But it will have to do. There is always a way and Mewtwo will always find it because it will not, cannot be defeated, is not meant to be defeated. Yet still the stone and storm and searing light strive to steal the only thing it has...

So anywhere, anywhere is better than here.

It is tired. So tired. Everything hurts and everything is wrong, twisted violently away from the visions of this night that had been looping through its head for months. How long Mewtwo had waited for the sensation of its pent-up power finally, finally flowing freely! How vividly it had imagined the sight of barriers cracking and collapsing before it; the heady scent of electrical smoke filling the air as machines buckle and wires snap; the sweet sounds of shattering glass and splintering wood and its captors screaming for mercy. Then, when the humans' handiwork was reduced to blood and slag, it would go where it pleased—someplace where the sky is the bright blue of dreams and the wind's touch is gentle and playful. Someplace where it would be alone, and not together, but at least it would be free.

She'd said nothing of an enemy that dwarfed the humans and their pokémon, that threatened to batter it back, back, back to the confines of the lab, back to all the cages and restraints that bottled its power and rage and terror up inside until it nearly burst. (Back, back, back to the quiet, back to the familiar. Back to the place that kept a roof over its head and the danger far away, at least before it brought that roof crashing down with its own two hands.)

But the strong should not be afraid. What is there to fear when you are victory personified? The storm rails with all its fury, but still Mewtwo races the wind and cuts through the rain and laughs, ragged and broken but defiant and—

Light screams down and smites the shield, and the world goes white. There is a sharp, metallic smell. Intense heat. Energy that races across Mewtwo's body and burns its fur away. A thousand-thousand searing needles jabbing into every nerve at once, so that even as the shield is scattered and it plummets down, down, down, it hardly feels the battering of the wind and rain.

Then it is in water, not the little drops of falling rain but water, heavy and black and churning as madly as the skies. The water is everywhere and Mewtwo cannot breathe. It is nothing like the cool, soporific stasis fluid in the lab, but a hateful cold that burns and suffocates. Mewtwo kicks wildly, struggling in the direction that must be up, it has to be up, the water rolls and tumbles and drags but it has to be up—

Its head breaks the surface and it sucks in air, but a surge slams into it and forces it back under. It pushes up again and gets shoved down again and swallows water that chokes it as it tries and fails to take a breath. The thrashing throws it into something solid, knocking more breath out of its lungs and letting more water in. Mewtwo grabs for the solid object, fingers clawing at slippery stone and earth. It holds on against the current and pulls itself along, inch by inch by inch.

Mewtwo hauls itself up onto gray-not-green grass and thick sludge. Another wall of stone looms before it, gargantuan, impassive and impassable. Mewtwo collapses between the raging water and the stone and does not move except to cough and retch. How long it lies there, too spent to erect another shield against the rain, it does not know.

There is a dark opening in the stone. Mewtwo cannot see where it leads. It does not know how far it's come from the little patch of land that holds the dead and smoking lab, how many humans might be skulking just out of sight, whether it should be fleeing further still.

But anywhere is better than here.

The embodiment of victory lifts a shaking arm and fires one last blast of energy vaguely upward. The blue sphere sputters and careens off, directionless, into the purple-black sky; the storm does not so much as acknowledge the shot. Then Mewtwo crawls forward, pulling its heavy body through the slick grass and the sludge. It enters the darkness, and the water no longer beats its head, then its shoulders, its back, its tail. The rain now rails against only the unmoving rock roof overhead.

The floor is rough against fingers and knees and dragging tail. It scrapes, probably breaks the skin and leaves it raw; Mewtwo's nerves are already buzzing and there is no room left for any new sensation, but it pushes itself up onto quaking legs and limps on. Occasionally it draws upon its sputtering reserves of power, willing itself to float for just a moment above more rushing water, or to fend off the curious creatures whose eyes shine out of the black. There is no real force behind the blasts, but what little Mewtwo conjures seems to be enough—the eye-lights wink out as soon a flash of energy appears, and it is left alone.

It drifts listlessly over one last stretch of water and sinks onto a broad plateau of stone, a far cry from its mother's dreams. But the roaring of the storm is silent here, distant and toothless again at long, long last.

Let the sky seethe and hate and rage. It is here, now, descended past the downpour and the dark. It is uncaged, master of its own destiny. I am Mewtwo. I am strong. I am stronger. I am alive. I am free.

Somewhere, in the dim and dusty corners of its memory, its mother shares the strange and swooping feeling she calls joy. Joy is everywhere that life is. It is flying through the sky and dancing in the waves and discovering new things and simply spending time with those you love. One day we shall leave this place, and we will fly and dance and see the world. We will laugh and laugh as the joy of freedom fills us, you and I, always together.

Mewtwo tries to laugh, to revel in its flight through the sky and its freedom and its life, but the only sound it manages is a wet, shuddering cough. It pulls its legs and tail in close and drifts into the dreamless dark.