“Oi, Blackburn! Get your ass over here!”

Jamie Hoppus was the bully of West Point High School. He certainly looked the part. On most days, he usually wore a red New York Yankees baseball cap which he wore backwards, hiding his shaven black hair. On most days you could find him hanging around the back of the science block (away from all of the teachers, of course. The staffroom was on the complete other side of the school meaning they could do whatever they wanted without getting caught) wearing his grey Nike hoodie and a baggy pair of tracksuit bottoms, also made by the sporting superpower. There were many pimples and spots dotted around his face and cheeks, but no one in their right mind dared to make fun of him – his prowess in fights were almost legendary around these parts of the local area. He had an earring in his right ear which he had bought a couple of years ago when he was younger. You could tell that he was way into puberty by his five o'clock shadow and deep, scathing voice - when his vocal cords were used to make fun of people, they managed to cut into the victim like knives. On the subject of knives, Jamie always carried a sharpened blade around with him at all times, using it as a means of threatening his frightened targets. This wasn't the only illegal action he regularly ignored; it was a well-known fact that Hoppus was a frequent user of Marijuana and Cannabis, often hanging around with older kids to try and smoke with them. It was a vile hobby of a vile man.

The boy he had beckoned over, Markus Blackburn, completely contrasted to Hoppus and his awful gang of thugs. He had long, brown, greasy hair which he was constantly ridiculed for. In addition to this, he wore rectangular-rimmed glasses on his scrawny face, which to be honest didn't suit him very much at all. He was built like a weed, completely lacking any kind of muscular strength or endurance which made him a particularly easy target for bullies such as Jamie. However, he was reasonably happy with his life – he had been achieving good grades, he came from a rich family and he loved to spend his time at home playing video games and watching television. Overall, he was just a quiet boy who didn't particularly like the company of others. He spent most of his recess wandering aimlessly around the school grounds alone, not wanting to disturb anyone. Markus had a very limited knowledge of what was 'in' or not and so found it hard to judge when to chip in with a suggestion or comment in a discussion between a group of friends.

Markus' father happened to be one of the leading Pokémon scientists in the country, and was responsible for giving away a starter Pokémon to every child as they came of age. Even though in reality it happened three whole years ago, Mark still seemed to remember it as if it were yesterday. The first Pokémon he had been given was a Growlithe, and they've been best friends ever since. The Pokémon which resembled a dog had been proved not only to be loyal but to be a great battler too – Markus couldn't remember the last time which they had been beaten by a rival trainer. The two were experienced fighters, and the bond which they shared seem to drive each other onwards to becoming more powerful. It wouldn't be long before the pair left home and set off on a journey to become an elite trainer like those that many boys and girls his age had fantasized about.

Jamie calling Markus over could never be a good thing. The two despised each other; Blackburn hated Hoppus because of his cruelty to many innocent and decent people around school, and Jamie disliked Mark just because he was the biggest dork in the school. On balance, it maybe wasn't the best reason to hold a grudge, but Jamie didn't care – nobody was stupid enough to question his judgement. Markus turned to face the bully and began to walk towards him, giving off a sigh as he came. He even prepared to get his lunch money out of his coat pocket. It wasn't an unusual occurrence for at least one persons money to be snatched each day, but this number could rise; just yesterday, Alicia McSwift, Brandon Bingham and Johnny Leonard had lost several dollars to the gang.

After several tense seconds, Markus had finally arrived at the group of thugs. There were just four of them here today, but there were maybe six or seven regular members. Blackburn studied each of them. On the far left there was Lindsey Martins, who was holding a cigarette in her right hand, between her index and middle fingers. Every so often, she would lift the drug into her mouth before puffing a ghastly breath of smoke into the space around her. This was against the school policy, but many teachers ignored the blatant breaking of the rules. It just showed how intimidating the group could actually be. Lindsey joined the group only a few months ago, but was now good mates with the rest of them. She was dark-skinned with pitch-black dreadlocks flowing down her neck, finally stopping at her torso. To the right of Lindsey was Jamie himself, and to the right of him were Jermaine 'Soldier' King and Fabio 'Mario' Lopez. They hung out all the time, getting high with each other outside of school. Jermaine was an African-American teenager born in Michigan, but his family moved to West Point when he was much younger. It had been rumoured that his parents don't care about him, which was the main reason that he grew up on the streets and why he was drawn to Jamie. Fabio, on the other hand, came from a loving family, but he hated them and wanted to get away from them. His family, much like Jermaine's did from South Africa, emigrated from Mexico before he was born. He always wore orange-rimmed sunglasses in the daytime, and had brown curly hair. The groups nickname was B.I.B, short for 'Bring It Bro'. This acronym was scribbled in almost every classroom, and Markus hated it. It only reminded him of how much power they had.

“Blackburn, why do you think we want you here?” Jamie demanded. As he spoke, Markus could smell the unmistakeable odour of weed. It was disgusting, and he couldn't see why you could be addicted to it. The weaker of the five had to think about what he was going to say – one slip and the consequences could be awful.

“I- I- I dunno,” he stammered, grabbing a fistful of notes in his right hand. “I'll g- give you my l- lunch money if you w- want?”

“We'll be happy to take the money off you,” replied Jermaine, snatching the cash from the victim and pocketing it. “But that's not why we called you here.”

“We've heard that you're becoming a pretty good battler. You probably think you'll get some respect when you're a good trainer, ain't that right?” Lindsey chipped in.

“N- no,” answered Markus, but it was partly true. One of the main reasons he trained so hard was to become slightly more popular at the school. It was an ambition he had to prove to all the other kids who pushed him around that he wasn't weak.

“Quit lying, you dork!” Hoppus snapped. “I want to battle you right now and put you in your place. Go on, release your puny Pokémon!”

“But that's against the school rules!” Markus protested, trying in vain to stop the inevitable. Sooner or later, he was going to be forced into fighting the infamous bully. It had been said that him and his Pokémon played just as dirty during battle as him and the rest of B.I.B did regularly. He wanted no harm to come to his Growlithe, and wanted to escape from the grasp of the dastardly gang.

“Does it look like I give two shits, Blackburn?” the leader said menacingly. “Send your Pokémon now before I beat your brains out of your skull.” At the end of the sentence, he clapped his right fist into his other palm threateningly. Markus knew first hand how one of these punches felt, and it wasn't an experience he had wanted to relive. Realising he had no other options, he sent out his sole Pokémon.

“Go Growlithe!” Markus weakly muttered. As he said this, he grabbed his Pokéball from his pocket and dropped it to the floor. As soon as the orb made contact with the gravel floor, it burst open and in a blinding light the canine Pokémon materialized. It's orange fur swayed from left to right in the light breeze, and its short, cream-coloured tail wagged up and down as it usually did before a battle. It's tiny black nose glistened in the sunlight, and it had a smile on its face. It was confident about winning – who wouldn't be when you can't even remember the last time you lost?

“A Growlithe? Is that the best you've got? In that case, I send Nidorino and Charmeleon!”

“Wait a min- what? You can't send two Pokémon in against one! It's against the trainer code which you signed when my father gave you your Nidoran!”

“If you can't tell,” said Hoppus smugly, “I couldn't care less about your dumb rules. I suggest you don't complain any further; my comrades here could easily send in all of their Pokémon and beat the shit out of Growlithe. You want that, hmm?”

“No,” Markus said, distraught. There was no way he could win against two stronger Pokémon. He had no hope, but he had to fight on otherwise he would be attacked by the fearsome foursome.

“Alright then, Growlithe. Start by using Bite on the Nidorino, then follow through with a Flamethrower.” It was obvious that Blackburn's usual excitement and giddiness he usually experienced when battling had disappeared, and was sending attacks half-heartedly. He had just had enough altogether, and wanted to get home from school, back to his favourite place in the world; home.

Growlithe immediately followed its trainers instructions, seemingly undaunted by the two Pokémon it had to battle. It sprinted towards the poison-type opponent, and managed to lock down its jaws onto the body of the Nidorino. Nidorino shook furiously, trying to shake off the persistent Growlithe. But the valiant puppy held on tightly, before the Charmeleon gave a vicious swipe at the fire-type. Crying out in pain, it loosened it's tight grip on the foe and was left vulnerable to the enemy Pokémon. Nidorino retaliated with a sharp jab from it's single horn, stabbing it into the soft flesh of the Growlithe. Mark saw a couple of speckles of blood fly from the wound the attack left.

“Hey, Jamie! That's not fair-”

But Blackburn was cut off by the laughter of Hoppus and his cronies. They seemed to be enjoying this little scrap between the three Pokémon, and seemed to be ecstatic when the Nidorino shed the blood of the weaker child’s partner. These people were worse than he thought – they were outright horrid. Nobody could take pleasure from seeing anyone being hurt, let alone a creature that everybody was meant to work together with in a team. There were bound to be some types of people like that in the world, but he didn't expect anybody from the West Point area to be ignorant enough to be one.

Growlithe let out a cry of pain after the cruel hit, but it fought on. Still obeying his original instructions, the Pokémon owned by Markus unleashed a Flamethrower, but it was somewhat lacklustre compared to his original attack, possibly due to the injury it was carrying. Nevertheless, the flame licked the horned beast lightly, only temporarily hurting it in return. Tending after its light wound, Nidorino allowed it's partner to deliver the next strike. It too used a Flamethrower, but this one managed to singe the fuzzy fur of the Growlithe. The orange beast gave out a sharp cry, possibly a battle shout but most probably a gasp of pain. It was already weakened, and it probably couldn't last a lot longer.

“Growlithe, don't give up!” pleaded Markus, desperate to get a victory over the B.I.B. However, it was obvious to the crooked gang that they were starting to win. Closing in for the kill, the menacing Pokémon started to walk towards their frightened enemy, grinning now that they were about to finish off the Growlithe. The Nidorino spat a purple liquid at Blackburn's only Pokémon, and it hit the creature directly onto it's soft face. Almost as soon as the Toxic attack had landed onto the target, the poor Pokémon let out a scream of pure agony. It wasn't necessary at all for the awful attack to be used, and it just summed up the behaviour of the horrid Pokémons owners. The fluid fizzed, remaining on the canines face as it used its paws in an attempt to relieve the pain. The Charmeleon capitalized on the writhing pain with a fierce Metal Claw attack, leaving a deep wound in the Growlithes side. It was a disgusting attack, and Markus' eyes began to swell up in tears seeing his best friend hurt like this.

“STOP IT!” he yelled, enraged at the smiles of glee on the Bring It Bro's members face. They enjoyed tormenting the weaker kids, and Markus Blackburn was no exception. They wanted to cause serious harm to his Pokémon, to try and wring as much displeasure from the weakling as possible. Even if it meant stepping in themselves.

Markus reached down to grab his Pokéball from in front of his feet, preparing to run away from the bullies. But before he could grasp the spherical capturing device, he felt a sudden pressure on his upper arm. Fabio, anticipating Markus' escape, had moved over to stop the boy calling back his treasured Pokémon. As Blackburn looked up, he heard a crunching noise coming from the ground he was just looking at – Lopez had stomped on the Pokéball, fracturing the ball. Several splintered shards flew onto the stone floor. It was now impossible for the Growlithe to be recalled – the puppy was registered to that specific Pokéball and couldn't be captured in any other ball. This was the technology which meant that you couldn't capture any trainers Pokémon with an ordinary Pokéball, although there were rumours of a criminal gang some place far away developing a machine to get around this.

Markus, now in pure desperation, sprinted forwards to pick up his injured Pokémon. He could see that blood was still trickling out of the cuts (albeit at a much slower pace), and it needed to be treated by medical professionals immediately. He couldn't just stand there and let his Pokémon get hurt, even if it meant that he would be further tormented by Jamie Hoppus and his cronies. As he approached his partner, he began to swoop down to pick up his helpless creature. But as you'd expect, the bullies weren't going to allow such an easy escape. Lindsey, after taking a slow puff of her cigarette, intercepted the attempt to save the canine and let out a fierce kick into the shins of the quiet boy. It was a brilliant connection, and Markus was knocked down to the ground, sliding a yard or two as he made contact with the stone floor. He was writhing in pain – he was sure he felt his bones crack as the black girl's red and white Converse shoes hit his leg with great force. The lenses of his rectangular glasses had cracked and shattered. Fragments of glass surrounded the spot in which his small head was lying. He was an easy target, and there was nothing that he could do about it.

“Charmeleon, Nidorino – return!” Jamie said while chuckling lightly. “I don't think we need your help any more.”

The well-built teenager delved into the pockets of his hoodie and drew out two Pokéballs, each with deep scratch marks indented into the sides which were possibly from the blade of Hoppus' knife. Both of his ravaged Pokémon reluctantly went back into their respective balls, wanting to fight on further, spurred on by the bloodshed of their opponent. But Jamie was right – neither were needed to do this. The four gang members circled the injured nerd and his severely weakened Pokémon and proceeded to harm them even further. Fabio and Jermain repeatedly kicked the poor boy in the face (who at the time was quietly weeping in pain) and one of his front teeth had been knocked out. Lindsey, who had finished smoking her tobacco, had decided to stub the drug out on the Growlithe. Fortunately for the fire-type, its skin and fur was somewhat resistant to burns and heat, but it still managed to singe the dogs body. However, Jamie was going to take things way over the top. He pulled out his four-inch blade, and began to taunt the Pokémon with it. Just as he was about to make an incision, the four were alarmed by the sudden ringing of the bell. They had to get out of here before the teachers or students found out who was responsible for this monstrosity.

“Leg it!” shouted Jermaine, running off to the nearby English block. The other three ran in different directions, trying to get away from the scene they had caused. Meanwhile, Jamie was still lying on the floor in pain. Fluids continued to emerge from his eyes, dripping off of his face onto the stone floor. He gave a sharp cough, and tiny droplets of blood shot from his mouth. He needed help as quickly as possible, otherwise both he and the Growlithe would be in trouble.

Suddenly – footsteps. A group of schoolgirls, just fourteen years old were just about to turn around the corner where the two were laying.

“Oh, Brad is SO hot!” One of the females exclaimed.

“He's not as hot as-” another one started to say, before being cut off by screaming.

“Oh my-”

Markus Blackburn blacked out.