Raphael Kane was reading in his room. Normally, he'd be reading the likes of Jules Verne or Charles Dickens, but he was in the mood for something more lowbrow. At this particular time, the sixteen year-old was reading a coffee table comic book about a stick figure detective. He was wearing a black t-shirt and a pair of denim jeans, and he was making himself comfortable in a large, red chair. The room, covered in bookcases and dark wallpaper and containing a single television set and computer set-up, was only illuminated by a lamp by his side, and a strip of light breaking through his large curtains. He could have afforded even better, but it was fine the way it was. To him, it was even excessive. The boy's loyal Pokémon, a black and red canine named Vice, napped at his feet.
There was a knock on his bedroom door. Raphael looked up, closed his book, and answered it. There stood a tall man, about forty or fifty years of age, scowling. His short, black hair and facial structure resembled the boy's, but his face was a sturdier, older version of the boy's leaner face, and his skin was slightly darker compared to the boy's pale skin. It was clear who this was.
"What do you want, Dad?" asked Raphael, trying to adapt to the bright light of the hallway.
"Son, we need to talk. About your future." The father's eyes bolted towards Vice, who took the gaze like a bullet.
A few minutes later, the three of them were seated in their parlor. Raphael and his father were both dressed in expensive looking suits, and the latter was holding a glass of wine in his left hand. The father sat in chair in a large, velvet chair, while the boy and his Pokémon sat on an expensive couch opposite from him. The parlor was very large, and its floor was covered in very expensive tiling, much like the rest of the house. The walls were covered in paintings depicting heroes of old and their respective Pokémon companions, as well as lamps based on eighteenth or nineteenth-century designs.
"As you already know," started the elder Kane, "you are to be joining in the family business any day now. You cannot be successful in our business, however, if you cannot catch a Pokémon."
"Dad, you know as well as I do that I can have others do this for me," replied his son, still getting used to the light.
"Raphael, you know that things don't work this way. We catch our own Pokémon ourselves, and the ones that the others catch are meant for our business."
"I know, but," Raphael sighed, "why do I need my own Pokémon? I'm never going to have to battle anyone on my own."
"This is a dangerous and risky profession, and you will need some self-defense." The father got up, and motioned for Raphael to follow. "Of course, battling in the open wild in dangerous for someone as inexperienced as yourself. You can practice in the garden. It's much safer than the woods, and Martin will be there with you if you need any sort of help."
"But dad--" The father motioned for his son to silence himself while he looked at his watch. He cursed to himself, then looked back up.
"I'm sorry, son, but I can't talk with you any longer. I have important business to take care of, and I won't be back until dark."
"Lemme guess. Ol' Richard's messed something up again?"
The father chucked. "Of course." The smile quickly faded. "Anyway, when I get back, you should have caught your own Pokémon. You have a good amount of time. Make good use of it." He walked off as his son watched on with mild contempt.
The garden was teeming with countless species of Pokémon, mainly Grass- and Bug-type. The Pokémon ranged from amusingly common to rather rare to species that the country had never seen before. They were all shielded in by see-through walls, as this also functioned as a greenhouse. Their environment was full of tropical plants, as well as a number of pools and ponds for them to drink from. Bug Pokémon spent much of their time either at these pools or drinking nectar from plants, while the Grass-types were mostly laying around in the sun.
The Kane family and their business partners used this, and many other similar facilities to store Pokémon. The family was known for their love of Pokémon, and would hate to see Pokémon mistreated. Their definition of mistreated was Pokémon being kept in cages, even if they had room to move a little bit and proper nourishment and facilities. The Kane family offered the best to the Pokémon they kept, and and the Pokémon enjoyed their stay.
Several hours had passed since Mr. Kane had left. Raphael and Vice were surveying the aforementioned surroundings when the former was tapped on his shoulder. Raphael turned to find a lean man in a suit. His grayish blonde hair looked well-trimmed, and he appeared to be in his late fifties. A bushy, gray mustache ran across his face.
"Master Kane," greeted the man, wearing an indifferent facial expression.
"Good afternoon, Martin," replied Raphael, slightly less indifferent himself.
"You may want a few of these." Martin held his hand out, which carried a number of red and white balls. Raphael smiled, nodded, and took about five of them.
He glanced about the room, looking for his first prey. He spotted a green, dinosaur-like Pokémon drinking nectar from a nearby plant. The blades on its arms could easily cut the plant it was drinking from, and certainly something much, much stronger. It looked like it could come in handy.
"Vice, stay here," murmured Raphael as he wandered off. Vice just watched, puzzled, while Martin rolled his eyes at the boy's naivety.
Raphael snuck towards the beast and hid behind a palm leaf, trying to get a good look at it. The leaf suddenly started shaking, and the boy found it to be attached to a large, green and brown body, like a wing. The Grass-type it belonged to arched its long, brown neck and turned fruit-laden head, before stormed off. The boy had nowhere to hide from the green Pokémon.
The Pokémon still paid no heed to the boy's presence. Raphael seized this opportunity to pull out a Pokéball and try to get closer to the beast. The beast heard a few faints footsteps, and turned around just in time for a Pokéball to hit it on the snout. The Pokémon vanished in a flash of red light, which was absorbed into the ball. The ball immediately fell upon the ground.
Just as quickly, the ball opened with a another flash, and the Pokémon was again standing by the plant. With a insulting hiss at the boy, the beast fled to somewhere safer in the garden.
Raphael stood there for a solid minute, blinking as he tried to comprehend what had happened. When he deduced that he was doing something wrong, he began to walk back towards Martin and Vice.
"Having trouble?" asked Martin wryly when Raphael returned.
"Just a little bit," joked Raphael. "I just need to know what I'm doing wrong."
"The Pokémon needs to be weakened before it can get captured."
"So, do I just throw a stone at it?" he asked naively. "Would that work?"
Martin chuckled softly, and a rare smile briefly appeared on his face. "That's what a headstrong idiot would do. You may want to try other means." He glanced at Vice, who had been lying down and grooming himself this whole time.
Raphael smiled, understanding his implication. "Vice, let's go." The Houndour looked up from his work and smirked at his master.
"I would suggest that you try something simpler," said Martin, "like, say…" He glanced around before continuing, "…That."
The Pokémon he pointed at was yellow, with three faces, all hexagonal in shape, and a pair of wings. All three faces had a huge grin on them, and the bottom one had a red mark on its forehead. It was flying around a bush, looking for a bite to eat.
"A Combee?" muttered Raphael. He then shrugged. "Might as well."
He turned to Vice, who was readily awaiting his master's orders. "Vice," said Raphael, hesitating. He was new to the concept of Pokémon battling, as obvious as it was. "You think you could try an Ember?"
Vice turned and rushed the Combee, spewing red orbs from his mouth. The Combee noticed the assault, and flew out of the way at the last second. The embers hit the bushes in its place, causing it to burst in orange flames and smoke.
Raphael lost track of the Combee, as had his Pokémon. The smoke was blocking a fair amount of their view. "Vice, track it down!" Vice sniffed around, then pointed to its right with his nose. The smiles on the Combee's faces had vanished in place of frowns. It was now ready to fight.
"Vice, bite it!" Vice ran up to the wild creature, which took it head-on. Vice bit the creature, but it was not badly hurt.
"Uh, Fire Fang?" the boy suggested. Vice's fangs began to flow red, and he bit the Combee again.
"Alright!" cheered Raphael. The battle's really starting to heat up, he though. Before he could call out another command, though he found himself being tripped by fleeing Pokémon. He looked around, and found the whole garden to be in flames. Oh, he thought to himself. That's why.
The Combee was quite clearly aware of the fire itself, and it attempted to fan the flames using its wings. It only intensified the fire, though. Raphael noticed Combee being distracted and came up with an idea.
"Faint Attack, Vice!" Vice leapt at the Combee, who, much Raphael's surprise ended up noticing the attack. Vice still managed to tackle the Combee very hard, though.
While Vice was regaining his step on the ground, the Combee flew straight down and nipped him with all three of his mouths. Vice cried out a little, but it was not badly hurt at all.
"Vice, hurry up!" he pleaded, hearing Pokémon screams all around him. "Another Fire Fang." Vice reared up, about to pounce at the Combee, but was interrupted when a large Grass-type, trying to escape, made a massive hole in the wall, next the Combee. The Combee, clearly not up to continuing the fight, flapped its wings one more time at Vice. Vice blown several feet back, and the Combee escaped out of the hole.
"Vice, after it!" coughed Raphael, chasing after his Pokémon. When he caught up, the two of them ran in pursuit of the Combee.
Outside, it was nearly twilight. The burning garden was an eyesore next to the Kane family's exquisite mansion. The field of grass next to it was completely untouched, however. The Combee tried to flee to the northern Hoenn woods on the other side, its burns hurting it every step of the way. It cried out for help, which seem to give it even more pain. It was answered by a strange, human-esque Pokémon with a white body and what appeared to be a blue helmet. The Ralts ran out into the clearing, knowing that the Combee was in need of dire help. The Combee collapsed as it reach the Ralts. The Ralts looked over its injuries, but found itself unable to do anything to help. The only thing it could do was try to bring the Combee to safety, which was made harder by the boy and the Houndour advancing upon them. It chirped underneath its breath, and a blue ball of energy rose from it into the dark sky.
Meanwhile, Raphael was gaining on them. "Vice, use Crunch!" The Houndour leapt forward and bit the Ralts fairly hard. It, in turn, try to throw some glowing leaves at it, with little effect.
"Vice, now Flamethrower!" Vice opened up his mouth, and out poured a steady stream of flame. The attack left the Ralts a good deal roasted. It was still able to fight, however.
This is a tough Ralts, thought Raphael. It shouldn't be much of a problem, though. "Try a Smog!" he immediately shouted. The Houndour spat a grey cloud at the Ralts. This however, had little effect. The Ralts responded with a small grin, as its eyes began to glow blue. Vice found himself kicking in the air, and launched into Raphael. The Ralts seized this opportunity to check on the recovering Combee.
"Vice! Get off!" scolded the boy, dusting himself clean. He noticed the Ralts was distracted, a thought up another fairly dirty trick.
"Faint Attack," he murmured to the Houndour. Vice pounced at the Ralts and hit it with a good deal of force, leaving it almost unable to battle. To the wild Pokémon's luck, however, the ball of energy it had released minutes before descended and struck the Houndour hard. To Raphael's own luck, Vice was still able to battle.
Raphael glanced at the woods behind his opponent. Countless eyes were peering at him and the Pokémon. They could all overtake him and Vice in a second. For whatever reason, though, they did not bother to try to help the Combee and the Ralts, not even the more formidable ones. Raphael was glad, too; He was not willing to be on the wrong end of the blades of the first Pokémon he attempted to catch.
He returned his attention to the battle and shouted a command. "Vice, one more Crunch!" Vice leapt at the Ralts. The Combee, grateful for the Ralts protection, took the bite for it. When it was released from Vice's grip, it flapped its wings, creating a small gust. Vice was blown a good distance away, and landed hard on the ground. It was nearly unable to fight.
Raphael swore under his breath, pulling out a pair of Pokéballs. As he tossed them, he heard his name being shouted. He turned to find Martin and his father running his way. They did not look happy in the slightest.
"Raphael, what do you think you're doing?!" scolded Mr. Kane.
"I'm doing what you said, catching a Pokémon!" replied the boy, looking over himself. His suit was singed and torn all over.
"But you destroyed my garden!"
"It was really all I could do, dad."
"But all the Pokémon have escaped, and…" Before he could continue, the father saw the Pokéballs rolling on the ground. The grin that grew on his face told Raphael that whether the Pokémon were caught or not, he'd be joining the father's business. He'd become a professional Pokémon thief, just like his dad, and take part in one the greatest criminal empires in the area. Many, though not all of the Pokémon that escaped the garden were stolen. It was the same with the rest of the family's storage facilities; The majority of the Pokémon they kept were stolen.
Raphael thought to himself momentarily. He had found that he enjoyed the whole concept of Pokémon battling, and looked forward to stealing Pokémon. Whether these Pokémon were caught, he would certainly enjoy his future.
Raphael glanced at the woods again. The Pokémon watching him had all vanshied. He then turned to the Pokéballs. One shook harder than the other, and Raphael assumed that it was Ralts inside. If it he escaped, Raphael knew he had met his match, at least for the time being. If he caught it anyway, he'd have a powerful new member on his team. Really, it would be a bonus nab for him, and a very nice one to boot. He looked at the other Pokéball. It shook less, but Raphael was curious as to whether the Combee inside this one would be as formidable, or potentially even more so, in the future. He doubted it. But that was not important. He was more interested in getting a new member or two for his team. It was for this reason that Raphael was on the edge as he watched the two Pokéballs shake once, twice, three times…