The Gengar put down the large tome he had been reading, and picked up the photograph wedged between the two open faces. As he bought it to his eyes, the image of a young Espurr smiled back at him, its expression one of joy. For a moment, he also smiles; but his expression soon turns into one of deep regret and he sighs as he puts the photo back. In his self-absorbed, emotional state, the Gengar fails to notice the gaseous face floating and curiously watching his actions from behind him.
“Ahem”, the young Gastly gently coughs to indicate his presence.
The sudden sound breaks the Gengar from his trance-like state and sends him into a state of panic. “GEGEH!?!”, he cries, accidentally knocking his book to the floor as he jumps from his seat. As the book lands face-down and scatters the photograph and various hand-written notes and pages across the floor, he turns to face his unexpected guest.
“Studying again, Jinji?”, the Gastly asks. As Jinji picks up the scattered pages, the Gastly glances their contents – a sketch of Mew, an analysis of the walls created by Mr. Mime – and suddenly notices a theme begin to emerge. “I didn’t know you were interested in Psychic Pokémon!”
A mere nod is Jinji’s only immediate response, as he collects the notes back together. Only after ensuring the notes are neatly stacked, and placed neatly on the table alongside the book, does he finally offer a verbal answer.
“It is always important to know your enemies.” Though Jinji speaks his response in an authoritative manner, he begins to wonder how long Gaspar had been in the room, knowing that his actions earlier may betray his words.
“Which brings me to why I’m here,” Gaspar responds. “Jinji, could you explain to me – why do Ghost and Psychic Pokémon consider each other enemies?”
Hearing that question gives Jinji pause. The hateful relationship of Ghosts and Psychics is a tale as old as time, and something almost every Pokémon and human knows well about. Because the rivalry has long been established as fact, many simply accept that the two types are almost guaranteed never to get along, and rarely stop to ask themselves why such is the case. The fact that Gaspar would ask just such a question is not a surprise in itself – Gaspar is a relatively young Ghost in the grand scheme of things, having only come to Jinji’s realm roughly one year ago. As a result, he is still very immature and lacking in knowledge; and regularly asks questions about life as a Ghost Pokémon, which Jinji has come to get used to. But the question belies an intelligence far beyond Gaspar’s youth; a train of thought even most Ghosts never follow.
Jinji smiles, and re-takes his seat, which he turns to face Gaspar. “It’s a long story, but I’ll try to keep it brief.”
“You know, Gaspar, many centuries ago, humans used to think Pokémon were magical creatures”, Jinji begins. “In fact, that is exactly what they used to call us before the name ‘Pokémon’ became more widespread.”
“Wow, really?” Gaspar responds in awe.
“Indeed. And even to this day, there are still many who believe that some of the more… supernatural… abilities of Pokémon constitute a form of magic; that their abilities transcend what is physically possible.”
“Now sometimes, their assumptions are quite correct. For example, us Ghost Pokémon, by virtue of the fact we are in another plane of existence that renders us immune from the laws of physics and reality, do indeed harbour a number of tricks, abilities and attacks that, to mortal kind at least, would be theoretically impossible and thereby constitute a type of ‘magic’. Indeed”, Jinji chuckles, “I get a lot of enjoyment out of describing our powers as such.”
Jinji pauses for a moment.
“However, much of the time, what a human perceives as magic is simply lack of knowledge. Illusionists perform incredible feats simply by utilising objects and physics in a way that confuses a less-knowledgeable mind; or they utilise distraction to make people ignore how something was done so that it seems impossible.”
“Smoke and mirrors!”, Gaspar shouts.
“Geheh, indeed! And the surprising thing is, the more you know about something, the more you realise you know hardly anything at all. And the same is true about Pokémon.”
“Now”, Jinji continues, “the most amazing thing about every living creature is, of course, the brain. This vital organ is the control centre of a mortal being’s entire body, and is responsible for their thoughts, their ability to do things, and their very life. What might surprise you, though, is that despite intensive research, nobody truly understands how the brain works, or what it’s actually capable of.”
“So the brain is like, the ultimate illusionist?”, Gaspar asks. “It’s the one thing everyone needs to function, but nobody knows how it works, even though they have to use it to work out how things work in the first place?”
Jinji laughs at Gaspar’s description of the brain as an illusionist. “Ex-actly” he exclaims, realising just how apt the description is. The laughter exhausts him, and he takes a break before continuing his story.
“Now, because people don’t know what the brain is truly capable of, most mortal beings aren’t aware of the extraordinary abilities locked inside. Things like: being able to levitate or alter objects just by thought; create and manipulate fields of energy; or even being able to read the thoughts within another’s mind. All these are possible, but many mortal beings are simply unaware such abilities exist, let alone how to use them. It’s like an onion, and most have only just peeled off the surface.”
“I hate onions…” Gaspar complains.
“But Psychic Pokémon are different,” Jinji continues. “They are born with the knowledge that their brains are capable of much more than what most are aware of. They may not know exactly their true potential, but they know that there is more power locked in them than a similarly-capable person of another species might even realise. And as they say, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”
As Jinji speaks that last line, his tone of voice changes from casual to a dramatic seriousness. The change in tone startles Gaspar, who now listens intently, realising that the story has taken a darker tone.
“What Psychic Pokémon DON’T have an innate sense of, is how to control their abilities. While they are aware of their powers, they do not necessarily know what the limits of those powers of, or how to keep them under control. Sometimes, this makes them a danger to themselves. For example, Espurr’s brains are capable of such extreme Psychic powers, they can create an energy field that can destroy a 300-foot circle around themselves. Until they learn to control such power, they have to keep their ears covered to prevent that power leaking out.”
Gaspar gasps in shock. “300 feet?!? That’s unheard of!”
“I’m not kidding – there are books written about them. But think about this – if a Psychic Pokémon can do that without even being aware of their own power, how much more dangerous is a Psychic Pokémon that IS aware of it?”
Gasper shudders. “I think I’m beginning to understand you now…”
“Knowledge is power. Power corrupts. The more a Psychic Pokémon learns about its powers and begins to take control of them, the more dangerous they become, as what could once be simple random events out of their control become focused, deliberate actions. THAT is the true danger of a Psychic Pokémon.”
“So, are you saying all Psychic Pokémon are… evil?” Gaspar hesitates asking this question, as he tries to think of an appropriate word.
“No… not all of them. Some Psychic Pokémon are able to resist the temptations of power, and find ways to use their abilities for good. They become helpful, kind personalities, and go on to live normal lives. These are the Pokémon I respect”, Jinji spits. “On the other hand, those who do not keep control regularly turn out to be a threat. Is it of any surprise to you that Psychic Pokémon are seen as kidnappers, particularly of children? That they are the kind most likely to hypnotise individuals and force them to do their bidding? Even enslave both people and Pokémon?”
Gaspar gasps once again.
“It gets worse. Not long ago, Psychic Pokémon were responsible for attempting to tear rips in the space-time continuum. Even today, some of the more powerful types play fast and loose with reality, attempting to do dangerous things like alter the flow of time, or even open up links to different realms that they were never designed to be part of. Evil may not be inherent in all Psychic Pokémon, but given their potential and their history, I am sure you can understand why I choose not to trust them until I learn more about them.”
“It is always important to know your enemies.” Gaspar repeats Jinji’s own words from earlier. “I understand now. But why are we, the Ghost Pokémon, their biggest rivals?”
“Because”, explains Jinji, “we are balanced. The abilities of Psychic Pokémon are most effective against things that are tangible – physical objects and bodies. Ghosts are not physical. We do not come from their realm. That means we are the most effective thing against them – the powers of a Ghost are far beyond what a Psychic can understand; and that makes us the strongest weapon against them. For every ying, there is a yang.”
Gaspar nods. “I get what you’re saying. We are the ones who keep them in check.”
Jinji sighs. He picks up his notes and looks through them; and when he speaks again, his voice has changed once more – taking on a low, sombre tone.
“It’s a shame… sometimes, I wish things were different. A long time ago, I was like you – hating Psychic Pokémon without really knowing why. Over time, I educated myself; and came to understand things the way I explain them to you now. But what I’ve realised is… not every Pokémon is bad. Some Pokémon have pure hearts and open minds; and they want to make a difference. Sometimes, when I do research into Psychic Pokémon to learn more about them, I find myself fascinated at their diversity; I begin to adore each species, and admire their abilities and adaptations to their environment. You might even say I… start to like them.” A tear appears in Jinji’s eye.
The sudden change in Jinji’s emotions catches Gaspar by surprise; and he starts to feel touched by Jinji’s honesty.
“Is that why you were looking so intently at that photo earlier, Jinji?”
Jinji sniffles. “I didn’t know you’d seen that. But… yes. Many years ago, I met a trainer who taught me to see the beauty of Psychic Pokémon, and see them in a new light. She introduced me to Espurr. At first, I thought Espurr were ugly… grey, mottled cat-like Pokémon with empty eyes, I failed to see any beauty in them; indeed, I found them creepy. She showed me differently. I became friends with her and the Espurr, and gradually got to learn its personality; and I began to see the charm in them, their good side. Even the grey fur no longer seemed unattractive to me. Whenever I feel angry, I come back and take a look at this photo. I look at the Pokémon I once thought unattractive and hollow; and I look at its happy, joyful expression; and I think back to those times. And I realise… maybe we’re too quick to judge. Maybe sometimes we need to take a step back and realise that things – and people – aren’t as bad as you think.”
Jinji picks up a note containing a large, bi-pedal Pokémon with a long tail.
“I mean… look at this one. Mewtwo,” Jinji explains. “This is the one that fascinates me the most. It’s not even natural – it was human-created; a clone of Mew before Mew was known to still exist. The scientists made him both smarter and more powerful, without considering the impact that would have. As a result, Mewtwo is a Psychic Pokémon with intense power, but no awareness of how to control it – or even why it exists. That would turn anyone crazy. Sometimes I wish I could meet Mewtwo and see him for myself. But then I realise I’d probably be ripped to shreds by it. And I sigh, and wish things could be different.”
In all the time that Jinji had been telling the story and focusing on Gaspar, neither of them had noticed the room slowly start to fill with all the other Ghosts of Jinji’s mansion – each one coming to check on Jinji and Gaspar and staying to listen to the story as its told. Finishing his tale, Jinji looks up and is surprised to be greeted by every single Ghost, many of whom now sport the same sombre look on their face.
“We understand, Jinji,” the Ghosts all exclaim.
Jinji smiles. “This is why I’m glad to have such a large and friendly Ghostly family. There’s nobody out there better than you guys.”
Jinji looks towards the Gastly and Haunter in the group.
“I don’t mean to be rude to any of you, because you all mean a lot to me, and I see you all as family. But when it comes to Psychic Pokémon, you are the ones I worry about the most. Because your very forms are provided to you through poisonous gases, the poisons flowing through you all mean that you are weak against Psychic powers – as am I. They can hurt us just as much as we can hurt them. The rest of you – ” he turns to face the other Ghosts “- do not have that weakness, making us more vulnerable than you. That’s why we must always stick together and make sure that we are always protecting one another.”
“Family comes first”, the Ghosts all exclaim.
Jinji laughs. “I’m so glad you were all here to listen to me. And I’m so glad you asked me that question in the first place, Gaspar.”
“Now, how about we all play a game of tag?”