Outside of the Pokémon training school, a large commotion was going on. Students inside of the school were fighting to stick their heads out of the door and watch what was going on. Most of the students were clean, pudgy-faced boys, but there were a few girls.
In front of the building stood the teacher, a little blonde haired girl, and her mother. The girl held a small Furret safely in her arms. The school's teacher and her mother were trying to pull the creature away from the sobbing little girl.
"Lilla," the mother called out, exasperated, "You have to let the Pokémon go. You know you're not allowed to have it."
Lilla's face was scrunched up as she concentrated on keeping the Furret safely cradled in her arms. "No, it's mine! Furry came to me! Why do I have to give him up?"
The mother looked at the girl, "Because it's not allowed. You have to let him go." The girl started to argue again, only to cut herself off as she took in the expression on her mother's face.
Letting a few tears slip down her face, Lilla gave the Furret to the teacher. He snatched the creature out of the child's hands, causing it to let out an alarmed cry while struggling. The girl let out a sob as she rubbed at her eyes.
The man walked back towards the doors. As he did the girl looked up at her mother with tears in her bright green eyes. "It's not fair, momma. I want a Pokémon too."
The woman gave a dark look to the teacher smirking in the doorway before crouching down to her daughter's level. "I know, but it's not allowed. You know the rules. Only people with enough money to buy a Pokémon from the school can own one. Barely anyone in the outside towns has a Pokémon." She patted her daughter's head in comfort. "We don't have enough money to buy a Pokémon, much less all of the other supplies needed. But maybe one day, we can afford it." Lilla nodded, though she did not believe her mother's words.
They headed back towards their house. Lilla rubbed at her eyes again. "It just isn't fair."
Chapter 1- Her Friend
‘And our challenger sends out his next Pokémon, Heracross. This is getting close folks, both out challenger and Falkner are down to their last Pokémon. Now, to remind the people at home, Falkner is the gym leader in charge of flying Pokémon. There have only been seven people able to defeat him and win a badge.'
The sixteen year-old Lilla stood before the television, watching the battle with hungry eyes. Standing to the left of her was her best friend, Ethan. He was not watching the television, instead he was focused on his PokéGear.
He looked up briefly. "This is Falkner's last Pokémon. Everyone knows he isn't good with his Noctowl. That's why it's his last. He only knows how to work with his Pidgeotto and Skarmory. Falkner has never won when it gets down to his Noctowl. There’s going to be another challenger that gets past him."
Lilla shook her head, still keeping her eyes focused on the battle. "Usually, yes. But the challenger's Pokémon is a bug-type, which is vulnerable against flying. Even if Falkner isn’t good with his Pokémon, one good hit and Heracross is done." As she s Poké, the two Pokémon on the screen started their battle. Heracross was attempting to headbutt the Noctowl as it flew in a low circle.
Falkner appeared frustrated as he shouted commands to the Pokémon without success. Finally, the Noctowl seemed to get an idea of what to do. It headed straight for Heracross, a large gust of wind behind it. The giant blue bug Pokémon attempted to dodge, but it was not fast enough. Noctowl crashed into its opponent, creating a large dust cloud.
The announcer and audience were held in silence as they awaited the outcome of the battle. Lilla, however, headed towards the kitchen to work on her chores now that the show was almost over. As she walked, she called over her shoulder, "Falkner is the winner. There won’t be an eighth champion. Not today, at least."
After she walked into the kitchen, Ethan's phone app on his PokéGear went off. The announcer from the television started speaking again as well, just loud enough that they both could hear over what they were doing.
'It's amazing, folks! The dust has settled and we can clearly see that Falkner's Noctowl is just fine, sitting on the ground preening his feathers. Heracross, on the other hand, is down for the count. It doesn't look like it will be getting up anytime soon. Falkner is the winner! Our poor challenger will have to go home without a badge-'
The television clicked off from the other room. Lilla's mother Pokéd her head through the kitchen. "Good," she said, stepping into the room. "Your father will be here shortly and I want him to come home to a nice, clean house. Is this the last of your chores?" Lilla nodded and flicked on the radio. The first few stations were still broadcasting the battle. On the fifth, she found some familiar music.
The teen turned the station up a little louder, dancing and singing along with it while she washed the dishes. Halfway through the song, Ethan walked into the room. He turned down the radio so he could easily be heard over the noise, but did not start talking right away.
Ethan kept his attention on the PokéGear in his hands. He twisted it around, inspecting every edge. Finally, he sighed, "My mother got me a Marill for my birthday. I am going to get it when I get home, even though it's a week early." There was a pause as he waited for Lilla to take in what he said.
Ethan was different from the other families in the area. Most people that lived in the outer villages were poor, but his family was one of the richest in the region. Unlike the other teenage boys, he was never really interested in having a Pokémon to duel with. The creatures always interested him, but the idea of fighting with them never appealed.
After Ethan and Lilla met and became friends, he refused to get a Pokémon, knowing how much Lilla wanted one. Once, he had tried to get a Pokémon as a present for his friend, but the police soon found out and took the Furret away.
Lilla blinked and placed the plate she was washing in the sink. "Oh," she muttered. The girl wanted to be happy for her friend, but could not stop the burning jealousy she felt. "That's great. A Marill? I heard they are the easiest to take care of."
"Yeah... But there’s something else." He hesitated again, trying to figure out how to word the next phrase. "I also got a trainer card and invitation to the Pokémon school. So I’ll probably be in Violet City most of the summer." Lilla and Ethan always made big plans for their summer together. This would be the first time they had not spent the whole summer together since they had become friends.
"Oh... I see."
There was a silence for a moment. The front door opened, accompanied by a loud stomping sound that indicated Lilla's father had arrived home. Ethan stood up straighter,
"Well, I should probably be heading home. I will talk to you later. Good to see you, Mr. Walker." Ethan hurried out of the door, slipping past Lilla's father as he did.
The man turned around to stare at the teen. "What was that about?"
Lilla shrugged. "He needed to go home. How was your day?" He sat down with a weary groan.
"That bad? Are you still clearing a new path through Union Cave?" He was an exploration worker. His job was to clear out paths for Pokémon owners to get from one town or another and make it easier to search for new and exotic Pokémon. Some trainers even hire exploration workers to make a new path just so they could get to a new Pokémon first.
Lilla's father shook his head. "No, we are back at the Dark Cave, excavating some rocks. The trainers are complaining that there are too many, and that they keep running into them in the dark." He rolled his eyes, "Next they will be asking us to put torches in because it's too dark.
"These new Pokémon trainers don't even know how to work with their Pokémon. Ever since the government made that law about the rich, I swear..." The man cut himself off as he noticed the expression on his daughter's face.
"What's the matter," he asked, "You’re usually so excited for the summer, and you can’t even focus on school. But here you are, listening to my boring stories about the old days."
She sighed, drying off her hands and sitting at the kitchen table with her father. "Ethan's mom got him a Pokémon and an enrollment in the training school in Violet City. He’ll probably be there all summer. So our plans are canceled. I guess I’ll have to find something else to do."
He sat up and looked at her. "That's not really what you’re upset about, is it? You know, I know it seems unfair, but let me tell you, the way these people train now... Well, let's just say that you wouldn’t enjoy it in the slightest. "
"Ethan got a Pokémon?" Lilla's mother asked as she walked in. "Really? I never would have expected... He never seemed to care for them..." Lilla stood up suddenly.
"I think I am going to go for a walk. I just have a few more dishes... I can finish them after dinner." She walked out of the back door, slamming it behind her.
"Did you have to do that?" her father asked after she left. "You know how much she wants a Pokémon of her own.”
The woman leaned against the door frame. "I know. I just wish she’d understand that it's impossible. There is just no way she can have one, not unless they change the law to let poor families have them too. Like it used to be."
Lilla walked through the center of town, watching the children run around playing with Pokémon-shaped stuffed animals. While distracted, she bumped into someone on the path.
"Watch where you’re going!" A nasally, high-pitched voice cried out. Lilla looked up to see a boy around her age. He had short green hair and wide, round glasses. His face was scrunched up so it looked like he had some major stomach problems. Behind him was another boy with stringy brown hair.
"Sorry," she mumbled, stepping out of the way.
"Whatever you little brat. Too stupid to see where you’re going?"
"Hey! Leave her alone!" Ethan came running through the road, heading towards the group.
"Aww, you came to save her?" the boy sneered. "The brat can't take care of herself?"
Lilla watched quietly, unsure of what to do. She could see the anger in Ethan's eyes.
"I know that you are Todd Swanson, rumors about you have been spreading. You plan to be the next person to challenge Falkner. And now you are going around, picking on all of the weaker trainers."
"Yeah, are you one? I'll take you on! You must be a newbie, huh?"
Ethan paled. "N-no, I don't think so." The boy with the stringy brown hair adjusted his stance so he could easily block Ethan's escape.
"Oh, come on. Just a little battle. What's the worst that could happen? You gotta stand up for your girl, don't ya? Here, I will even let you use one of my Pokémon, to make it fair."
Ethan looked towards Lilla briefly. To her surprise, she nodded and took a small step closer. "Alright," he said, "I will take one, and then we’ll fight." He again glanced towards the girl, hoping for some advice about which ball to pick. The boy held three in his hand.
"Pick any one of them," the boy said. Lilla examined them closely, then held three of her fingers out by her side. Ethan gulped and grabbed at the far right Pokéball.
Their eyes connected again and Lilla shook her head slowly. 'Don't use,' she mouthed.
"Alright, my boy here will be the judge, are you ready? Let's fight!"
Chapter 2- Her Advice
Lilla quickly moved over to stand by Ethan. Ethan and Todd both let out their Pokemon at the same time, a Marill and a Butterfree. Both of the Pokémon stood still, awaiting their orders.
"I'll let you go first, since you're a newbie and all. 'Sides, it's not like your Marill can hurt my Pokémon. It's a wimp."
Marill looked back at Ethan, hurt and anger showing clearly on its face. "What do I do?" Ethan asked. "He's right, not about Marill being a wimp, but his Pokémon is much stronger than mine."
"True," Lilla said, watching the scene closely. "But your Pokémon knows a rock move, right? Rollout?"
"Yes, but I don't see how that'll help." Lilla just rolled her eyes. The purple Butterfree flapped its wings lazily, a smirk mimicking the one on master's on its face. Marill on the other hand, sat on its round blue tail, rocking back and forth.
"Bug Pokémon are weak to rock. And Marill has no weaknesses against it. Just keep using rollout and dodging and you'll do fine." Ethan nodded and directed his Pokemon. Marill looked relieved to have been given an order. It bounced around for a moment, trying to get the right height, before rolling into a tight ball and launching towards the Butterfree as a blue ball.
The opposing creature was so busy trying to insult how short its opponent was, it did not notice the rock until it was too late. Marill hit the Butterfree in the left wing. It gave a startled cry as it attempted to keep in the air. While Butterfree was struggling, Marill rolled faster.
"Fee," the Pokémon cried out as it was hit again. Marill did not stop, launching itself towards its opponent again. As Butterfree realized another his was coming its way, the Pokemon fell to the ground, giving up.
"Get back up," Todd scowled as the creature struggled to lift its heavy wings. Seeing that there was no way the Butterfree was going to be able to continue fighting, he scowled and withdrew his Pokémon. The referee raised his arm towards Ethan, stating he was the winner.
Ethan blinked, "I won," he exclaimed, "I can't believe I won!"
Lilla's mouth twitched. "Just this round. You still have one more to go."
"Heh, you got lucky that time, but you won't win the next round. I send out, Bellsprout!" A burst of bright white light lit up the ground before a tall, root-like Pokémon appeared. Ethan froze, unsure of what to do.
"I have to use his Pokémon," Ethan whispered to Lilla, "Bellsprout is strong against both water and rock. Marill will not be able to last." He turned to see her calculating eyes, taking in every detail. She shook her head.
Ethan hesitated, but decided to listen. Lilla had been the one always able to guess who would win in a fight and predict the next move of a challenger. The boy had only ever been able to call out cheats on the field like a referee.
"You're going to keep out the weakling against my Bellsprout? You must really be a newbie. There is no way it will be able to last against my Pokémon." Todd gave a sharp laugh before sending his Bellsprout to attack.
Marill cried out as the opponent came hurtling towards it, waiting for an order. Seeing that Ethan was not going to give one, it bounced up on its tail to dodge the attack. Bellsprout stopped as its target vanished from sight.
"Good," Lilla said with a small nod, "Now tell it to slam down on Todd's Pokémon." Ethan shouted out the order to Marill, who responded instantly to its master's order. Twisting, it turned so that Bellsprout was directly under it. Giving it no time to move, Marill landed forcefully on top of the opposing Pokémon. Bellsprout gave a short cry as a plume of dust rose up from the ground.
Ethan blinked once, "Marill did it."
Lilla shook her head. "No, Butterfree's a strong Pokémon, and will take more than that to stop it. But Marill does have speed and agility going for it. If it keeps dodging and attacking like that, it might win."
"Why can't I just use Todd's Pokémon? That way, Marill doesn't get hurt."
"Because it isn't loyal to you. It won't hurt its master. Todd uses that method to trick newbies." Ethan did not respond, focusing on giving orders to his Marill. It was starting to struggle from all of the activity. He seemed worn out as well, but refused to back out of the battle.
Lilla and other spectators crowded around the battle-area, fighting each other to get in closer. No one could believe their eyes; a newbie trainer holding their own against the famous Todd Swanson. The teenage boy took in the scene grimly while Todd smiled. "Why don't you just give up? There is no way you are going to win." Ethan hesitated before shaking his head.
"No, I know Marill can do it." As he spoke, Marill slowed down, taking in deep breaths. It looked ready to faint. Bellsprout could see this weakness and acted upon it, attacking Marill. The blue Pokémon stood still as the attacks came. Ethan watched in disbelief.
"What is Marill doing?" He asked Lilla after trying to get Marill to move again. Her eyes widened for a moment.
"No way," she muttered, "Marill is allowing Todd's Bellsprout to attack."
"Why would it do that?"
"There is this hidden ability I have heard of some Marills having. Sap Sipper. It levels up their attack power every time they are hit by a grass attack. Now take into account how many attacks Marill is taking..."
"...He will be incredibly strong," Ethan said, realizing where all of this was leading. "But I don't get it, why now? Why didn't he do this ability earlier?"
"Because... you started to believe in him. He wanted to prove that he could do it." They both watched as the Marill allowed itself to be hit until it was hardly able to stand. Then, with a speed that seemed impossible for such a weakened creature. It bounced backwards and launched itself towards the confused and lost-looking Bellsprout.
"Rill," he cried as he slammed forcefully into the Bellsprout. The spectators all gasped and cheered as the Bellsprout fell to the ground. Before the referee could call a winner, the hurt Pokémon managed to stand up.
"You just need one more hit," Lilla whispered to Ethan, "then it'll be over, and you'll win." Ethan nodded once, feeling a rush of adrenaline.
Before he could send out his Marill to attack. Todd let out a sharp whistle. The Pokéball he had handed to Ethan suddenly lit up. Out of the Pokéball came a purple and yellow Pokémon. Many of the spectators gasped and whispered to one another as they took in the strange Pokémon.
"What is that," Ethan asked.
Lilla frowned, "I think it's called an Aipom. I have heard of them, but haven't ever seen one before." The Pokémon was standing in the middle of the battleground on its long, hand-like tail.
The referee scowled. "You're not allowed to have more than one Pokémon on the field at a time. Return your Marill; you will play with your new Pokémon." Ethan attempted to protest, only to be ignored.
"Very well... Aipom, attack Bellsprout," Ethan shouted, pointing towards the Bellsprout. There was a moment where all was silent as the Pokémon stood still, tilting his head to the side.
"Heh," Todd laughed, "Having problems with your Pokémon there?" Ethan ground his teeth together. He was unsure of what to do.
"Bellsprout, attack Aipom with vine whip!" The Bellsprout went to attack. Aipom stood still as it was hit. The creature completely ignored Ethan's orders and shouts. He clenched his fists together, helpless. Lilla stood off to the side quietly as well.
The girl watched helplessly as her friend struggled to gain control back. Halfway into the round, Ethan seemed to realize he had no hope. With a short gesture to the referee, Ethan resigned. The crowd let out mixed sounds of disappointment and empathy.
"I told you a newbie such as yourself couldn't beat me. Don't feel too bad, maybe next time." Todd withdrew his Bellsprout and started to walk away.
"Wait up," Lilla cried, running towards the two.
"What do you want?"
"You forgot your Pokémon," she said to Todd, holding out the Pokéball. He went to reach for it. As he did, Lilla grabbed at his arm. He jumped in surprise. "Let me warn you," she whispered quietly so that his friend could not hear, "you got away with your cheating this time. But if I ever catch you again, I will take this Pokéball and shove it down your throat."
Taking a step back, Lilla smiled widely. "Have a good day!" Todd's friend turned to him with a strange look as she left.
"Bro, are you alright? You look like you've seen a ghost."
"There is something wrong with that girl," he muttered. "Let's leave this town, they're all newbies. None of them are good challengers." He hurried quickly out of the town, looking over his shoulder a few times until it was out of sight.
By the time Lilla made it back to the center of town, Ethan was standing there alone. He clutched Marill's Pokéball in his right hand. She placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. The boy jumped in shock and looked at her. His blue eyes were clouded.
"Come on," she whispered, giving him a sympathetic smile "Let's go heal Marill. Then we can get ice cream at the park."