Chapter 1: The Pokémon on the Road

(A/N: Unfortunately, this chapter is very likely to disappoint new readers who liked the prologue. It loses the darkness and a lot of the description that was there in the prologue. Actually, it doesn’t really appear to relate to the prologue at all (that doesn’t come until chapter two). Also, it starts the unoriginal part – the trainer fic theme. It does *not* stay throughout the whole story, so don’t stop reading, though. And I assure you that the prologue is in fact very relevant to the actual plot. Just have some patience while I get to that point.)

Exactly 999 years later, in the town of Sailance, North-West Ouen, there was a boy called Mark Greenlet.

He was eleven years old, thin, dark-haired, green-eyed, and went to the Public Sailance Primary School.

This fateful day, he walked to school as usual. He was quiet. He was always quiet these days. He had in fact been quiet since all his friends left on a Pokémon journey at the age of ten. Mark’s parents, however, were over-protective and were too afraid to send him on a dangerous Pokémon journey, especially since they would have to get him all the way to Green town, where Ash Ketchum annually gave out starter Pokémon for ten-year-olds. North-West Ouen had no Pokémon. The people who lived there were all lawyers or other rich people who wanted a life in peace without Pokémon and little kids asking them for a Pokémon battle all day.

Most parents were kind enough to go to Green town and let their kids get a Pokémon, but not Mark’s. They were hoping he would become a stock investor, a programmer or in the worst case a professional artist, as he happened to draw very well. Not some stupid Pokémon training kid.

While he pondered about this, he had automatically walked into the big gray school building and into the boring, even grayer corridor. His first lesson on Thursdays was Battling Strategies, a branch of Pokémonology. He sighed as he sat down in front of the classroom. What a waste of time for somebody like him who was never going to get to train Pokémon anyway. Besides, whether it was because of his rather negative opinion on the classes or because he would rather spend them drawing on the back of his school papers, he was lousy at Pokémonology. For tests, he always desperately sank himself into the textbook and learned the bits of the text he found interesting, and got really low on the test because they always asked about the most boring and uninteresting things. This just made him despise Pokémonology even more.

He preferred Pokémon Communication classes by far – ‘Pokémonish’, as they were usually referred to. He was much better at languages than learning things by heart, besides finding Pokémon language very interesting. Those few interesting things in Pokémonology usually had something to do with this remarkable language of syllables, bodily expressions and voice tones anyway.

One of the very best things in Pokémonish, also, was that a few times, live Pokémon were brought to classes and the kids got one Pokémon each to stage a normal casual chat with. At the end of the class, the Pokémon each gave the teacher a report on how well the students handled the conversation. Mark always got top grades for that. He remembered the test last year where he discussed Pokémon rights with a Vulpix. He smiled at the thought. They had ended up talking for an hour before Mr. Flintlake, his teacher, politely commented on how he would really like to get that lunch break he was supposed to have. He had been forced to recall the Vulpix into its Pokéball in order to get Mark to leave the classroom. Since then, Mark had been daydreaming about one day sneaking out to Green town on his own account and getting a Vulpix for a starter Pokémon.

But the class he probably enjoyed the most was Art. His Pokémon pictures received really positive criticism by Miss Taintor, who was a professional Pokémon artist after all. She knew what she was doing when she gave feedback. She was always honest and wasn’t afraid of telling somebody that their pictures sucked for their age. She hadn’t told Mark that since third grade, as he had spent all the summer after that practicing because of how uncomfortable he felt when he was criticized harshly. When she saw his art from the summer in fourth grade, she had said “Very big improvement, young man – if there were only more students with determination like you.” He remembered it so well – being congratulated by a harsh critic felt a lot better than the compliments from his parents and relatives who always pretended that everything he did was the greatest thing since sliced bread. After that, he had believed in constructive criticism.

He was pulled out of his thoughts by the sound of the bell ringing – the class was starting. He hated that sound. It hurt his ears and was far louder than it had to be. A simple digital watch could beep loudly enough to be heard clearly all around a classroom – why did they need such an ear-splitting noise? It wasn’t like there was any more talking on the corridors than inside the classrooms.

At least, he heavily stood up, groaned, and got in line. Mrs. Grodski, who taught Pokémonology, was a very grumpy old lady who spoke through her overly large nose and had developed a strong hatred for Mark for a reason he had never understood.

“Good morning, class,” she said as everybody had taken their places standing behind their chairs.

“Good morning, Mrs. Grodski,” the class mumbled, apart from Mark, who said his usual “Good morning, Mrs. Grumpy.” He knew it was safe; it drowned completely in the rest of the class’s murmurs.

“Today,” Mrs. Grodski announced, “we will be studying up on recoil attacks. Turn to page forty-two, please.”

Mark sighed and opened his book as Mrs. Grodski watched him carefully, but as soon as she began reading aloud from the textbook, he silently took out his heavy, gray binder and started to draw a Lugia on the back of an English assignment. It was his favorite Pokémon; he drew it all the time. Articuno, his other favorite, was a bit trickier to draw, but that didn’t make him like it any less. He loved Legendary Pokémon. In fact, he was utterly obsessed with them. He had been fascinated by those ultimate beings of the world since he was little.

“And just what do you think you’re doing, Mr. Greenlet?” Mrs. Grodski’s voice snapped. He looked slowly up from his Lugia. She was standing over his desk with an expression exactly like an evil dictator. Mark had a hard time hiding his laughter behind an innocent expression.

“I believe I’m drawing, Mrs. Grodski, unless I’m very much mistaken,” he said politely. There were some snickers from behind.

“Quiet!” the teacher screeched. “And stop smudging your papers in my class!”

Mark grimaced at her as she returned to her desk, and made the textbook stand open, shielding the binder and making him look like he was actually reading.

Finally, the day was over. Mark went to play soccer with the fifth graders as usual. But he wasn’t concentrating. He knew that this bit of fun wouldn’t last for long. It was May, and the starter Pokémon giveaway at Green town would be soon. Then they would probably all go and get a Pokémon, but what then? Would he go and play with the fourth graders, two years younger than him, for the remainder of the year and until next May? He doubted the fourth graders would even want to hang out with somebody two years older than them, anyway. He could blend in pretty much with the kids from fifth grade; he was short enough for them to be able to imagine he was just a tall ten-year-old, but the difference couldn’t be much bigger.

He ended up leaving the game and going home to sulk.

But when he passed the bushes opposite his house, he heard something.

He jumped. A branch moved and a twig cracked. Mark’s heart beat faster.

Very slowly and carefully, he stepped up to the bush and pulled the branches apart. To his great disappointment, there was nothing there. Such a shame, he had been hoping he had found the first Pokémon of North-West Ouen… maybe a Vulpix. He grinned at the thought, but then shook his head.

“Come on,” he said to himself, “stop dreaming…”

He ran across the street into his house. It was starting to rain.

After a very normal, quiet dinner with his parents while watching Bravo Trainer Time, a popular TV show from Hoenn, he sat down in the sofa in the living room, which was positioned under the window that faced out into the street, and stared outside through the blurry, wet glass.

He stopped dead.

There was definitely a movement out there. Something… reddish?

He leapt to the front door, into his boots and pulled the door open. On the middle of the road, there was a Pokémon.

A real, living Charmander.

It was unconscious, and the flame on the tip of its tail had almost gone out. There was just a small, bright glow left.

At first, Mark just stood there like a cow, but then he was knocked to his senses by the sound of a car. He ran out into the road, picked up the orange lizard and hurried inside with it, already soaked wet by the rain.

Mark slammed the door shut and started fanning the tail flame stupidly with his hand in order to revive it, with little success.

“Mom! I – I found a Charmander on the road!”

“Really?” sounded his mother’s voice absent-mindedly from upstairs. “Very nice, but why don’t you just play in your room, dear?”

“Parents,” Mark hissed. Then he yelled: “Aren’t you listening? I FOUND A FREAKING CHARMANDER!”

He heard his mother sigh and stand up before coming down the stairs with red eyes and a cup of coffee in her hands.

Crash! She dropped the cup to the floor and it shattered to a thousand pieces.

“Wha - what is that thing?” she then squeaked.

“It’s a Charmander!” Mark snapped. “A Pokémon! And it’s dying!”

“Oh my God!” she uttered out. “John!”

“Not now,” Mark’s father mumbled from upstairs, sounding half-asleep. She dug her fingers into her blond mess off a hair. “Oh, what can we do? What can we do?”

Mark started waving his hand again. Slowly as the tail tip dried, the flame was restored. Mark breathed in relief.

“Is… is it okay?” his mother asked carefully.

“Yeah,” Mark said and smiled. “But I think it needs rest. Er… I guess you should go and get some old cloth so I can put it in my bed.”

His mother went back upstairs and got some old clothes Mark didn’t fit into anymore. He took them and placed them in the corner of his bed and laid the Charmander gently on top of them. The tail flame burned peacefully. Mark wondered who originally had the idea of making clothes flame-proof, but what mattered was, of course, that the Fire Pokémon wouldn’t burn up the house this way.

He picked up the book about the Johto Legendary Pokémon on his desk and started to read, keeping an eye on the lizard. He was starting to calm down and think reasonably. Of course, this Charmander wasn’t wild. It obviously was trained. Charmander were very rare Pokémon from Kanto, how would one suddenly be in North-West Ouen? Its trainer was probably looking for it. Maybe he’d get a reward for finding it?

Mark grinned, looking forward to next morning.