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It's been two years since the end of the Mask of Ice incident which placed both Kanto and Johto at their darkest hours. But how it all began dates back to many years ago…

Evening has fallen upon Johto. In a mountainous region, three buildings surrounded by an invisible barrier stand atop a small hill edged with steep cliffs. As the alarm goes off, men dressed in black with masks over their faces hurry about on the rooftops, and frantically scan the area with giant searchlights. Struggling to stay hidden in the shadows, Blue pulls Silver along and dashes around the corner of the tower-like building.

The two children, together with their Pokémon, Jigglypuff and Sneasel, flatten themselves against the wall to catch their breath, and peek through the slanted holes on their masks to see that the searchlights have been directed away from them. Blue makes sure that Silver is alright, and says they would need to take off their masks before leaving the place.

Counting down from three, Blue and Silver peels the masks off each other's faces, and throw themselves into a nearby bush. Blue lets out a sigh of relief as she is finally free of Mask of Ice's constraints, and remarks that the masked man is definitely in a weakened state that day. She turns around to see Silver's face for the very first time, and compliments on his nice features. She pats him gently on the cheek, and tells him that they have no time to lose…

This was the place Blue and Silver spent their nightmarish childhood 9 years ago. Among Mask of Ice's many followers, three boys and three girls received special attention. Paired into groups of two, the six were together known as the Masked Children, trained directly under the masked man as his future accomplices. Unable to stand the cruel and evil training any further, Blue and Silver finally found their chance to escape…

Blue digs into her pocket to pull out a hand-drawn map of the place, and reassures that Silver understands their escape route that night. Having passed by the residential and training blocks, they are now behind the tallest building near the edge of the small hill top. However, the whole area is guarded by a barrier generated by psychic Pokémon, and the only way out is through the underground tunnels which are connected to an adjacent mountain.

Blue quickly finds the entrance to the tunnels among the bushes, and proceeds to move aside the heavy lid. The two children slowly descend along an iron ladder, and soon reach the bottom. As they cautiously move along the walls, Blue remarks that they will have to count on luck from then on as she has no idea which is the correct path among the maze-like design of the tunnels. One thing she is certain however, that they will need to pass through the chamber of the masked man at some point if they've found the right way out.

Just then, the two hear voices of pursuit, and quickly make a run for their lives. Unfortunately, the other four Masked Children, Shum, Cart, Will and Karen manage to catch up with them, and send out their Pokémon to attack. Blue frantically turns her face away while covering Silver's at the same time, telling him not to let the others see their real looks. Cart's Hounder and Will's Natu deliver an ember, psychic combo, and Shum's Meowth and Karen's Eevee lunge forward for a scratch and bite. The combined attacks hit Silver directly on his left leg, and the young boy cries out in pain. Blue hurriedly hits the fire emergency button on the wall, and a sprinkler on the ceiling sends out a thick cloud of smoke to fill the room.

Shum, Cart, Will and Karen get stunned momentarily and choke on the dense gas, and Blue grabs the chance to yank Silver away. As the smoke clears, the four Masked Children hurry after Blue and Silver, but soon discover that the tunnel leads to a dead end with a pink wall. Will grunts that he did see the two coming this way, and Shum begins to question his words. Karen decides to try another tunnel, and the four turn around and continue their search.

Gradually, the pink wall deflates and turns out to be Blue's Jigglypuff. Blue grins as she wipes a sweat off her forehead, and is glad to have lost their pursuers. She ushers Silver to keep going, and remarks that they should be able to locate the exit very soon. Suddenly, the silhouette of Mask of Ice materializes in front of them, and the two draw back in fear. On a closer look, they realize that it is just a giant ice sculpure of Mask of Ice and the six Masked Children, and Blue knows that they have arrived at the masked man's chamber.

Silver gets worried and wonders where Mask of Ice is. Blue reveals that the masked man is in fact resting right behind the curtain on the far end of the room, but assures Silver that the man is too weak to move about. She explains that once in several months, Mask of Ice will experience a day of weakness, and this very night that they've chosen to escape happens to be one of those days…

At that time, Silver never understood what Blue was talking about, and simply accepted her words as facts. It wasn't until later that he gained knowledge of the cause of Mask of Ice's periodic weakness, and that the man only picked such rare days to attempt time crossing. Silver eventually learnt that the glowing of the sacred Ilex Shrine is closely tied to the lunar cycle, and it turned out that before Mask of Ice was aware of the existence of the Time Crossing Pokeball, he has tried to capture that mystic light, otherwise known as the Pokémon Celebi, with his own powers. However, the legendary Pokémon was too strong for the man to handle, and he ended up hurting himself…

As Blue and Silver make their way across the masked man's chamber, Blue remarks that the escape was only part of her plan, and begins searching around on Mask of Ice's desk. She soon locates the Rainbow and Silver Wings on a pen-stand, and quickly picks up the two glittering feathers. She turns around to grin at Silver, and chuckles that she will take the items away with her. Resuming their way along the tunnel on the other side of the room, Blue and Silver gradually see light ahead, and know that their life in the world outside is finally about to begin.

The next morning, Pryce hammers away on his new ice sculpture as Shum, Cart, Will and Karen report to him about Blue and Silver's escape. With an indecipherable look on his face, the Mahogany gymleader, who usually disguises himself as Mask of Ice, turns his wheelchair around, and calls the two fools. He wonders if Blue and Silver have been feeling lonely all this time, and cannot understand why they would choose to abandon such a precious bond he shares with them. As he ponders on, his new ice sculpture glitters in the light of the room, a beautiful piece of artwork which depicts a harmonous and joyous picture of Pryce and his six Masked Children with their masks taken off…

And so Blue and Silver's new life began in the world outside. However, as much as the two fought and tried, traces of the masked man's presence still lingered in their hearts and minds. Among all of Blue's Pokémon, Jigglypuff was the closest to her as they grew up together, but interestingly, it was the only Pokémon of Blue who didn't receive a nickname, which persisted even after they escaped from Mask of Ice's constraints. During her days of training under the masked man, Blue was once scolded and punished when she brought up the issue of nicknaming Pokémon, simply because the masked man deemed such an act as unnecessary. Silver knew well that part of this nightmare stayed in Blue, and made her reluctant to nickname Jigglypuff still after their escape.

But after a while, something started to change in Blue. Her heart seemed to be more open, and she even began calling Jigglypuff Jiggly. However, Silver couldn't figure out the reason to this until he met the other Pokedex holders much later…

As Silver stops reminiscing about the night Blue and himself escaped from Mask of Ice, he decides to call Blue, and sits in front of a laptop computer to access the visual-phone system with his Pokegear. Knowing that Blue will finally meet her own parents that day, he asks how Blue feels, and Blue admits that she is feeling nervous about it. Silver remarks that all the time Blue spent investigating across the land for her parents' whereabouts is certainly worth for what she finds, and Blue says she's really lucky to eventually make contact.

Blue then remembers that like herself, Silver has spent his childhood as an orphan, and apologizes to the boy for making him feel bad. Silver grins that he is happy for her, and says since he doesn't even know his own birthday and hometown, chances are slim that he will ever reunite with his family. He remarks that he only wishes to live without worries from now on, and Blue lets out a sigh as she utters the boy's name.

Silver wants to know if Blue likes the clothes he sent her, and explains that he picked them specifically for her important day. Blue says they look nice and thanks Silver, then puts the hat on as she wonders whether or not such expensive outfits would fit her. Staring off into the distance, Silver puts on a soft smile and assures her that they most certainly do.

Little do these two escaped Masked Children know that a new challenge and battle is about to begin for Blue and the other original Pokedex holders of Pallet Town.

Later, standing in front of the Tin Tower, Silver takes another look at his white hankerchief which has his name sewn on it. He beckons to Sneasel, and says it is time for them to go. The red haired boy then calls out Murkrow, and lifts himself up into the air, leaving the historical city of Ecruteak.

And so half a year has passed since the catastrophic battle between Kyogre and Groudon in Hoenn…

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us

268: Escape!!

Volume 22