The golden morning sun rose over the gentle hills to the north of Nuvema town. Paperboys cycled down the broad streets, deftly arcing the news over sprinklers, fences, and angry dogs. A solitary milk truck coasted from home to home, replacing cases of empty bottles with ones full to the brim. Men dressed in smart suits emerged from homes, kissing wives goodbye and stepping into streamlined cars and heading off to work.-x-
Samuel Oak sat up in his bed, running his fingers through his short sandy brown hair. He swung his legs off his bed and began heading down. As he trudged through the immaculately clean living room, his Growlithe bounded up to him, crashing into his knees. The young Samuel stooped over and scooped the small Fire Type into his arms.
“Hey, Gulliver? How’re you, buddy?”
Gulliver yipped happily and licked at his owner’s face. Samuel wrinkled his nose and laughed. Gently, he placed his Pokémon on the floor. Now awake, Sam walked into the kitchen, where his mother sat. She was sipping on a small glass of orange juice.
“Oh, good morning, Sam. How’re you?”
Sam opened the mint green refrigerator door and looked around inside, grabbed a half full bottle of milk. He plopped it down on the table before grabbing a bowl.
“Tired. Has Dad called?”
His mother set the glass of juice down and picked up the paper. She rifled through the pages.
“No. Last night he said for you to call him, remember?”
Sam poured the last of the Sugar Pops into his bowl and drowned them in milk. He ate a spoonful, chewing slowly, thinking about what to say to his dad. After breakfast, he headed to the living room, collapsed onto the sofa, and pulled the rotary phone off the side table. He slowly dialed his father’s number. After 3 rings, he could hear his father’s voice.
“Hey Pop. What’s up?”
Sam could hear the sound of papers being shuffled, and, somewhere off in the background, what seemed to be a jackhammer.
“Nothing much. We’re running into problems getting this Poké Transfer to work. We’ve had some, erm...unfortunate accidents involving Rattata...”
His voice trailed off. Sam gulped.
“Are those Rattata gonna be okay, Dad?”
“Oh, probably. Hey, listen son. I know the move to Nuvema has been hard for you, but this job, I just couldn’t pass it up. It’s summer anyway. Go out and make some friends. It’ll be good for you and Gulliver. How is he, by the way?”
“He’s great, dad. Real swell. I haven’t gotten to use him in battle yet, but I’m sure he’ll be fine.”
“That’s great. Hey, listen, I gotta go now, but stay safe and have fun, okay Sammy? I love you, son.”
Sam’s hand darted over the receiver and he sighed. His dad was so mushy sometimes.
“I, uh...love you two, Pop.”
Sam hung up the phone. Looking up, he saw his mother leaning against the doorjamb. She was frowning slightly.
“Something the matter, Mom?”
She strode over and patted her son’s unkempt head.
“No. I’m just worried about you. Your Dad was right. Go make some friends. It’ll be fun.”
She patted him once more and he stood up. He took the stairs to his room two at a time, Gulliver happily bounding along behind him. Once inside, he opened his closet and pulled out a pair of freshly starched denim pants and a brown plaid button down. He walked over to his dresser and rummaged around in it for his dad’s old boy scouts belt. He pulled it through the belt loops, making sure the clips for his Pokéballs were in the proper position. Next, he turned to Gulliver.
“Okay, bud. I know you hate it, but you gotta get in the Pokéball.”
Gulliver whimpered and attempted to dive under Sam’s bed, but the swirling red light caught him before he could and pulled him into the small metallic sphere. He clipped it to his belt before bending over and pulling on his tattered canvas sneakers. He rode the rail down the stairs, earning a scolding from his mother. After she was finished, he pecked her on the cheek and bounded out the door. Once outside, he strutted across the perfectly manicured lawn. He knew the footprints he was leaving on the brilliant green blades would earn him another scolding from his mother, but he didn’t care. Inside the garage, he grabbed his old backpack. It was full to the brim with dried berries and a few dozen empty Pokéballs. He swung his legs over his cherry red Schwinn and took off down the street. He banked slightly to the right and headed in the direction of Route one. His parents didn’t say his friends had to be human.
He continued to glide along the asphalt, however, upon seeing a large gaggle of people crowded around a wooden stand, he applied the brakes and slowly came to a stop. A tall, severe man was gesturing to the crowd with a heavily polished wooden cane, and alongside him was a smaller, but similar looking kid around his own age.
A small crowd was forming in front of the Nuvema Town Poké Lab. It was approaching lunch time in the small town, yet men with suits and briefcases, woman with grocery sacks, and small groups of children, boys chewing bubblegum, holding either baseball mitts, or girls with dolls and toy teapots, were fixated on one point.
A haughty man in a dapper looking business suit was slapping his cane against a large wooden sign that rested on the grass. It read it red paint-
“Rowan Family Healing Potion! Magically Heals Poke-Related Injuries in a Jiffy! 1 bottle for 20p!”
Directly next to the sign was a table, which held the strange vials of pink liquid. Behind the table was a young boy, no older than 16. He also had on a professional looking business suit. Blue vest, dark tie, and white office shirt. His dark brown hair, however, seemed messy, despite being combed. The older gentlemen addressed the crowd by again slapping his wooden cane against the sign.
“Ladies and gents, if I may have a moment of your time.”
His voice was regal and heavy, yet civilized and proper. The crowd grew silent as they looked at the salesmen.
“The Magical Healing Potion is the birth of medicine and science! It can instantly heal and revitalize an injured Pokémon! Sean, Sean, do release that Shinx you have.”
As commanded, Sean, the young Rowan, dug out a Pokéball from his coat pocket and tossed it to the ground. In a flash of light, a small lion cub looking Pokémon was revealed. It had blue and black fur, lightning colored eyes, and a spark-like tuft on the end of its tail. The Flash Pokémon stood on three legs, as its front-left paw had a small thorn stuck in it.
The crowd gasped at seeing such an alien Pokémon in Unova. The gasps turned to “B’awws” as the Unovans noticed the thorn sticking out of its paw. Truth be told, Rowan hated that he had to inflict pain on his only Pokémon for these stupid demonstrations. Worse yet, he hated having to travel with his father everywhere. He didn’t want to help sell some medicine, he wanted to explore, battle, and study the world of Pokémon.
“Yes, yes. This is truly a sad sight, indeed. But watch, folks.”
Crouching down to the Shinx, he grabbed a hold of its paw, gently took hold of the thorn, and abruptly yanked it out, causing the Shinx to wince. With the thorn out, however, the Pokémon still limped, keeping its paw raised.
“Now, as you can all see the Pokémon is still injured. So we simply get this dandy little Potion…”
He swiped a bottle of the pink liquid from the table and popped off the top.
“And apply to the injured Pokémon!”
He poured the Potion onto the injured paw, which at first sizzled, then cooled. The small bloody hole where the thorn had been closed up, instantly healing the Shinx. Shinx let out a small roar and stood on all four of his paws, feeling better.
The crowd began to explode with hushed whispers and theories.
“Black Magic, I tell you!”
“Why, what’s next, Ethel? Something that cures Poison? Machines that heal Pokémon?”
“It’s a trick, you con-artists!”
Slowly but surely, the crowd began to break apart. Some forming a line to buy these new-fangled Potions, some leaving and scoffing at such an idea.
“Yes, yes, form a line. 20p for one dose of this glorious creation! Tell your friends in other towns!”
Sean allowed his Shinx, Ambrose, to hop up into his lap as he took the money and passed out the Potions. Same routine, different town. He expected the same sales here that they received in Kanto- Average. They had been shunned from Johto, as that Region seemed to rely primarily on Berries. They made a killing in Hoenn, as sprawling lines overtook beaches. They hadn’t tried their luck in Sinnoh yet, which was odd to Sean. Sinnoh was their home Region, after all.
As soon as the Potions were sold, Sean instantly got to work packing up the surplus inventory into a few messenger bags. His father was busy talking to another gentlemen. He had a thick brown beard, a yellow sweater covered his thin frame, and his narrow eyes seemed to sparkle as he spoke.
“I see you have a helper. I wish my boy Cedric would help me and the missus around the house. He’s always out “exploring”, as he calls it. He’s about your boy’s age, I believe…”
“Yes, well, us Rowan men stick together. Make good business that way.”
It always seemed like other boys his age were running around in the wild, catching Pokémon or winning battles. He met a kid his age on Cinnabar Island in Kanto with a Ponyta. A boy a few years older than himself in Mahogany Town had dreams to start a Gym someday. Why was he the only boy in the world forced to wear a business suit and spend everyday with his father?
“Well, best of luck with your travels. How long will you be in Nuvema?”
“Oh, I suppose a few more hours. We’ll catch lunch and be on our way. Thank you again for letting us take up the space in front of your establishment.”
The two men firmly shook hands.
Sean zipped up the bags and returned Shinx, before walking towards the two older men.
“Um, Mister Juniper, it’d be real keen if I could take a-”
Before he could finish, a swift slap to the back of the head was administered to him.
“What did I say about using slang?”
“Suh-Sorry father. Sir, would it be too much trouble to take a look inside your lab?”
“Of course not, sonny. C’mon in, I’ll show you all the charts and readings.”
Sean hardly doubted he’d be a “Pokémon Professor” someday, but was still impressed by all the research that had been done on the subject.
We like to study where Pokémon come from. What’s the common ancestor? The…”
Professor Juniper led Sean into the lab, letting the door close behind them. Mr. Rowan pulled a golden pocket watch from his suit and checked the time.
Pidoves chirped. Lillipups chased Purloins chasing Patrats. A cracking of a baseball could be heard from the local sandlot. The jingling of an ice-cream truck sounded, followed by the cheers from children. A burger joint could be spotted, neon sign advertising special deals and tasty soda.
“When in Unova….”
Mr. Rowan unbuttoned his coat and made his way to the restaurant. Sean would see the sign and put two and two together.
Samuel was about to go and buy one of the awesome “Rowan Potions”, but, much to his chagrin, he had only 15p in his wallet. Oh well. He had a good hundred or so Oran berries in his pack, so he should be set. The severe looking teen disappeared into Mr. Juniper’s lab. Sam once more mounted his bicycle and headed off. After a matter of only minutes, he’d arrived at the entrance to Route One. Rolling fields of grass stretched out before him, the long, slender blades occasionally stirring as some kind of Pokémon scurried through it. Sam inhaled the warm scent of the grass; let the cool breeze blow through his hair. He hopped off the bike and wheeled it towards a tree. He propped it against the flaky bark, taking care not to scratch the glossy red paint.
Sam pulled his battered Pokéball off his belt, pressed the switch, and watched Gulliver materialize on the ground amidst a swirl of light. Once entirely there, he barked playfully and jumped at Samuel.
“Good boy. Hey, c’mon, let’s go catch us a friend!”
“Thanks for showing me all that neat-o stuff, Mister Juniper!”
Sean exited the lab, only to find the Potion bags and the sign abandoned, his father nowhere to be seen. Looking around, he noticed the hamburger joint’s sign sticking into the skyline.
He walked towards Main Street and walked behind a bus stop, peering into the restaurant. There, sitting in the cushy red booth was his father, a rather large cheeseburger and milkshake in front of him.
“He would stuff his face while I was preoccupied….”
A sudden feeling of sadness mixed with anger swept over him. He wasn’t hungry, but he would have thought his own father would have waited for him so they could both go to the restaurant. He was half of the business, after all.
“Since he went of on his own, I’ll go off on my own…”
Flashes of the Juniper lab went off in his mind. Snap shots of different Unovan Pokémon hung on the wall of the Juniper lab. Kids all around the world, some younger than himself, were catching and training Pokémon. Why couldn’t he?
He withdrew his black leather wallet and opened it up. He had enough for a few Pokéballs. He had a Pokémon of his own. He was near a Route that held Pokémon.
It was settled. He scanned the area for a blue roof, a Mart. Finding one a block or so down, he darted towards it, coat blowing behind him. He pushed open the heavy metal doors and went straight to the Pokéball counter. He decided three was enough for now.
“That’ll be 60e!” The young man with the bright red bow tie behind the counter said, ringing up the price on a brass cash register.
“Here you are.” Sean slid the bills to the young man, who in return handed over the bagged Pokéballs.
Sean exited the Mart. A sense of rebellion flowed through his being. His father had only let him have Ambrose, and that was because he was a family pet, and they needed him for demonstration. If he knew he was planning on catching more, he’d blow his top. Extra Pokémon were extra mouths to feed, extra things to take care of.
Route 1 was a simple route. Straight, grassy, pleasant. Sean released Ambrose, who purred loudly and rubbed against his owner’s leg.
“Cut the kitty act, pal, we’re going to catch you a friend.”
Instantly, Ambrose straightened up. His yellow eyes narrowed and small claws were extended from his paws. The duo slid into the tall grass, Sean peering for any movements and Ambrose adjusting his ears ever so slightly to the faintest rustle.
Suddenly, a small terrier looking Pokémon exploded from the grass. It was a small little thing, and the only thing visible on its face were its two eyes.
“Er, ah! Ambrose, use..bloody, what was that move called? Sizzle? Crackle?”
Before a command was given, the Lillipup ran straight at Ambrose with full force, knocking the Spark Pokémon over.
“Blast! Ambrose, are you ok?”
He stood up, shaking off the pain and bearing his teeth at the enemy Pokémon.
“Okay, use a Spark attack!”
Ambrose raised his fur and let out a small jolt of electricity Lillipup, who dodged it right in time.
“I know you’re not a battler, Ambrose, but try another Spark!”
Again, the Lillipup dodged the attack.
“Maybe if I just chuck a Pokéball at it…”
Sean hurled the red and white sphere at the Normal Type. The capsule opened around the Pokémon, enveloping it in a light. The ball, now holding Lillipup, fell to the ground. It shook once before exploding, shattering the Pokéball and revealing the Lillipup, perfectly fine.
Before anything else was said, another dog-looking Pokémon burst onto the scene; its body engulfed in a wheel a fire. It crashed against the Lillipup, sending it sprawling to the ground, KO’d from such an attack.
Sean felt his neck tighten as he saw another teen standing a few yards away.
“You barbarian! I was going to catch that!”
“I’m awful sorry, mister, but I didn’t know... It was purely accidental.”
Still, Sean fumed. His first attempted capture cut short by some kid and his mutt.
“That was the Lillipup that ran off from me and Growlithe here a few minutes back….”
“Hmpf. I’ll have you know my perfectly tuned Shinx can simply catch us another, erm, one of those things.”
The other boy scratched his head.
“That looks like a cool Pokémon… Want to battle each other?”
Sean wouldn’t dare admit that his Shinx had never battled before. He knew Ambrose couldn’t win; it couldn’t even handle a simple wild encounter. Yet he couldn’t let this ruffian know that.
“Hmpf. I usually don’t get involved with such…rash activities….But if we must. Ambrose, get ready.”
Shinx looked up at his owner. Was he serious? He couldn’t be serious. A stern look from Sean convinced the Spark Pokémon, however.
Ambrose took a few wobbly steps forward, facing the opposing Pokémon and its Trainer.
Sam’s opponent seemed, well, confused. He didn’t know he was trying to capture a Lillipup, he didn’t seem too confident in his battling abilities, and he didn’t look like he knew his Shinx’s moves too well.
“Well, okay, Gulliver. Get ready. Open with, oh... Bite.”
Samuel’s opponent pointed at Growlithe and commanded him to perform a Spark attack. The two Pokémon rushed towards each other, Shinx gathering a cloud of electricity in his soft blue fur, while Gulliver bared his teeth. The two collided in a small clearing of grass, Gulliver wincing in pain as he took the small feline in his teeth and shook him about vigorously. Gulliver spat the Electric type from his mouth and carefully backed away from his opponent until he bumped into his trainer.
“That was good, Gulliver, but this time, use Flame Wheel, and make it as powerful as you can, okay?”
The small dog nodded in response. The muscles throughout his small frame tensed, ready to attack. Sam’s opponent balled his fists in anger.
“Spark once again, Ambrose!”
Ambrose, or whatever he was called, raced towards Gulliver, who also bounded forward. The two Pokémon gathered clouds of energy around them before leaping into the air, sailing towards each other. They collided midair, flying backwards from the impact. Gulliver yelped in pain and rolled backwards in the dirt. He stood on rubbery legs that threatened to give out from underneath him at any moment. Shinx, however, stayed down, panting. Samuel’s opponent approached his friend.
“Ambrose? Come here.”
Gently, he scooped the Pokémon up off the ground and cradled him in his arms. He reached behind his back and pulled a simple potion from his messenger bag. He bit the cap off and thrust it into Shinx’s mouth, forcing him to consume the healing elixir. Slowly, the Shinx’s eyes slid open and he stood warily. The other teen returned his Pokémon to its Pokéball and turned to Sam.
“You. This is not over. I will not be defeated by some commoner such as yourself. We shall cross paths again. Mark my words.”
He shuffled off into the grass, leaving Sam alone. He shrugged and pulled a couple of dried Oran berries from his bag. He tossed them toward Gulliver, who eagerly pounced upon them. After he’d eaten them, he seemed in much better spirits.
“Okay, Gulliver. Let’s give this friend finding business another try, shall we?”
Gulliver barked happily and the duo set off into the grass.
How could he be so stupid? He made his Shinx battle another, stronger Pokémon. Shinx wasn’t cut out for fighting, not yet anyway. He was just glad he had a Potion in-hand during the battle.
With a sigh, he returned to town and sat down next to the other bags of Potions and sulked. Today was a bust. He failed at catching a Pokémon, failed at battling, and failed at looking like an actual Trainer.
Mr. Rowan returned to the scene, mustard stain on his chin.
“Ah, yes. There you are, my boy. Ready to head to the next town?”
Sean looked up at his smug father. He knew he should help his father and his renovating invention...yet the feeling of being beaten couldn’t escape his head. If he wasn’t running around with his father all the time he could get better. Get stronger. Catch any Pokémon he wanted.... Beat that ruffian and his mutt.
“Dad.... I don’t think I want to....”
He trailed off. He couldn’t just leave his father to do all the work. Not now, anyway.
“Nothing, dad. Never mind.”
“Right-o. Then let’s go. I’ll get you a bag of crisps at the service station at the edge of town.”
The two Rowans stood up, each grabbed a bag, and hoisted the sign into the back of their blue pick-up truck they had rented.
“I don’t know what I’d do without your help, son.”
“Erm, yeah dad. No problem....”
The engine started as the truck veered towards the highway, en route to Accumula Town