So, this was it. It had finally begun. She was never really convinced that it would come, but it had. Here she was, on the very outskirts of Viridian City. Behind her, the trees of Viridian Forest reached out as if to embrace her. She looked at the flora of her first obstacle, trying to imagine what the forest, like her future, held.
Sounds emanated from the forest, the cries of the hunters and the hunted. The cries of Pokémon battles. Somewhere, far away, she could hear the excited cries of a trainer’s first battle. How the battle would end up, she didn’t really care, but it was still a comforting reminder that she wasn’t the only one starting her journey on that day. Of course, she was probably among the oldest that would set forth that year, but that, of course, wasn’t the point.
What was the point, however, was that she would have a journey that no one would ever forget, she knew. She wasn’t sure how she knew it, but somehow she had a feeling that her journey would be one for the history books, and wouldn’t be forgotten in quite some time. There was something that she couldn’t quite put her finger on about setting off.
She looked back at Viridian City, at its green buildings and large parks, and wondered if she was really doing the right thing. Would it have been better if she had stayed in Viridian, where she was at least safe? What would happen to her once she set out? She shook her head. There was no going back, she knew that. With a small smile, she remembered how she had gotten where she was in the first place.
The day had finally come. She’d been dreading it for days, and had been doing everything she could to hamper its arrival, and, failing that, prevent her family from finally shipping her off to Kanto. But now, it had come, and the last of the boxes were in the foyer, in front of the door, waiting for the last moving truck to come and take them away.
Lorelei sat, stunned, on a bench near the door, her loyal team of Pokémon sitting all around her. How could she depart from them, after giving them most of the last four years? She sighed, and slipped off of the bench, her team following solemnly behind her. She walked over to a mirror, and looked at herself. Her usually ornate jet-black hair was a mess, she observed with apathy, and her clothes were wrinkled from having been slept in. She sighed and decided to take one last walk around her house before she had to leave it forever.
Her cerulean eyes took in her surroundings with something that, if she had been a soldier, would have been something akin to shellshock. The paintings on the wall, the plush carpeting, the laboratories where she would sit and watch Professor Silph work for hours, the Pokémon Center where Nurse Joy used to teach her about Pokémon—ethics, general information, and battling strategies—for hours on end…she was going to leave it all behind.
It still hadn’t fully sunk in yet.
Lorelei made her way out to the garden, and sank down next to a patch of flowers, and stared at them, but didn’t really see them. She heard her team lying, sitting, and hovering around her, and something in her felt like punching something. They were so loyal, and here she might never see them again. It just didn’t seem right, having invested so much time into them, and not being able to take them with her. It almost felt like betrayal.
She felt something crawling into her lap and curling up, and she looked down to see Sneasel lying there in a ball, eyes wide open, staring up at her. It nearly broke her heart. Sneasel was about to be a father, in just another month, and she wouldn’t be around to see his newborns.
She still remembered the first time that she had seen him. He had been so cute, scratching at Berries on a bush. She had forgotten what kind of berries it had been, by now, but she still remembered how the Sneasel had spotted her, and spun around, executing a flip, and landing in a defense position. It had been then that she knew that she had to have him.
The battle that had ensued had been nothing short of frantic, due to the fact that Lorelei had “borrowed” a Gloom from her brother. She had made good use of the powders, however, and had managed to capture Sneasel. After, however, Brandon’s Gloom had fainted. When he had discovered what she had done with his Pokemon, he had been furious, and had threatened to release Sneasel back into the wild, but relented only after Lorelei promised him that she would never do anything like that again.
Of course, that promise only lasted thirty-six hours, when she first met Duskull, but that wasn’t the point.
She sensed, somehow, rather than heard or saw Duskull floating in behind her, as if summoned by her train of thought. When she had asked Professor Silph about the Ghost-type’s seemingly Psychic abilities, he had told her that Duskull were empathic, and that was how they caught their prey. When she had asked him what the word “empathic” meant, Silph had grinned and explained that empathy was a name for an ability to tell what others are thinking. He had further explained that while humans were empathic, it was because of reading body language or speech patterns, not any kind of Psychic ability. Psychic empathy, he had said, allowed a Pokémon who had the ability to know where exactly every living thing, except Dark types, were in the immediate vicinity. Also, he had informed her, his face split by an excited grin, it appeared that some empathic Pokémon could actually change the mood of another non-dark type Pokémon, without affecting any of the Pokémon’s other brainwave patterns.
Professor Silph’s explanation had made her look at her second Pokemon much differently after that, as well as her fourth, Haunter, when he had told her that most, if not all Ghost types were empathic, at least to some degree. It made sense that Duskull was empathic, too. She was always the mediator when any conflict among her team, or between Lorelei and one of her team arose, and, more often than not, the arguments were settled without a fight.
Lorelei sighed, and shifted slightly, freeing up her right leg, which had fallen asleep. The movement awakened Sneasel, who glared up at her for a second, before readjusting himself and drifting back off.
She glanced around, and spotted Graveller sunning himself on a rock ledge overlooking the garden. At first she thought he was asleep, but then she noticed that he was looking at her. That was typical for him. He constantly laid around, but he was always ready to come to her aid if she needed it. Right now, he stuck to the high ground because, if anyone he needed to attack came, he could use his Rock Throw or Rock Slide techniques to fend off her attackers, then leap down and impose himself between Lorelei and whoever was attacking her.
He was always thinking in terms of combat, and that was probably why he was her number one battling Pokémon, with Sneasel a close second. He had, from what Micheal Carentamous, Silph’s aide, had told her, vowed something of a life debt to her because she had rescued him from an incredibly fast incoming tide on Alto’s coast. This was, he had told probably the most committed to her of any of her team. Since Carentamous had studied Pokémon behavior for most of his thirty-five year life, she was pretty sure that he had it right.
Haunter wasn’t with her, of course. He was probably still in her special place, hovering in the exact place where he always was. If she went there, he’d try to comfort her, he was sure, but it wasn’t likely that he was going to move from his pseudo-assigned spot. He would probably resist trying to go to Kanto, even if she was able to bring him.
Lorelei stared at the plants in front of her. It was odd, seeing them there. They were called terrestrial anemone. It was a distant relative of the aquatic anemone, but had been specially bred and genetically altered to increase the strength of its cellulose, and allowed it to support its own weight outside of water. The entire process had taken several hundred years, and many millions of dollars, much of which came from Team Magma—their leaders had said that they wanted to take something from the oceans to spite Team Aqua—and Team Flora—who supported any research to plants, as long as they were not put to use as weapons—and had been performed by Silph Company. Lorelei had come to enjoy the plants, and had spent many a waking hour tending to them. And now she would leave them and her team here in Alto.
At least her parents were allowing her to bring Entrophen to Kanto. True, Entrophen wouldn’t actually be hers anymore, he would belong to her parents, but at least he’d come with her. Of course, that was because he would die nearly five months after their arrival in Kanto of old age. Unless, of course, he evolved into an Attrophen, which happened very rarely, before he died.. In fact, it hadn’t been recorded in more than three hundred years, and no one really knew what they were like or looked like, and most Pokémon Professors thought that it was a genetic ability.
She’d gone to the Kantan embassy several times, begging them to let her bring her team to Kanto. He’d apologized to her, and told her that the Indigo League did not recognize Pokémon caught before the age of ten. That had made Lorelei storm out of the embassy, enraged at the fact that she would turn ten six months after moving to Kanto. Then she had come back, asking if she could bring her team to Kanto. The ambassador’s aide responded that bringing wild Pokémon into the country was not allowed, and, because her Pokémon were caught before the age of ten, they would be considered wild Pokémon.
From the house, she heard her mother calling her, saying that everything was loaded, and that it was time to get in the car. Lorelei thought one more time about trying to run away or try to escape somehow so she wouldn’t have to go to Kanto. She’d gone over a thousand escape plans, but each plan had some major flaw, that would void the entire thing. She’d tried running away from home a half dozen times, but each time the Alt-Sec, or Altan Security Forces, found her within two and a half hours. It seemed as if there was nothing she could do to escape.
Lorelei sighed. Who was she kidding? She was going to Kanto, and there was nothing she could do to stop it. She got up slowly, bidding goodbye to her beloved Pokémon, and went into the house. There was no doubt about it.
It was time to face the future.
And then she’d beat the living daylights out of it for what it had done to her.
“Huh? What was that?” Lorelei asked, putting down her book, and looking up at the woman her family had hired to be a flight attendant on their way to Viridian City. She remembered her father saying something about the woman—her name was Delia, wasn’t it—going to Kanto to meet her husband, after studying at the Altan Botanical University.
“I asked,” the woman repeated, smiling gently, “Would you like any more pop or something to eat? There’s still a good hour left before we begin our descent.”
“Maybe a Grape Spritz?” Lorelei asked, “I don’t really want to stop reading this if I can help it,” she said, lifting up the Indigo League Rules and Regulations, Twelfth Edition to show Delia what she was reading, “I want to get started in the Indigo League as quickly as I can.”
Delia smiled, “Of course,” she said, and set a can of the beverage onto Lorelei’s tray table, and moved on.
Lorelei was barely aware of this, however, as she was once again firmly ensconced in the Indigo League regulations concerning the capture, release, and other ways of receiving or losing Pokémon.
Lorelei put her hands on her hips and surveyed Pallet Town. It wasn’t much of a town, really. The airstrip was only sufficient for small planes, one of which they had transferred to in Saffron City, because her father had wanted to meet Kanto’s main Pokemon Prof. There wasn’t much going for Pallet Town besides the Professor’s laboratory. If it weren’t there, the town’s population would probably dwindle to close to nothing within a year. Yes, it was the main jumping-off point for the Indigo League, but it also appeared to be one of the smallest towns in the entire country. It was quaint, with the buildings painted nearly every color of the rainbow, but Lorelei was sure that she wouldn’t come back to the town for a long time.
It was in sharp contrast to Saffron City, the capital of Kanto, and the home to two gyms. The Primary Gym, the Fighting Dojo, had been the gym for the last dozen or so years, Lorelei had learned from her readings about Kanto, and the second gym, led by a young woman named Agatha Fraley, was a relative newcomer, but was quickly gaining power. Most people projected that Agatha would defeat the gym trainers and leaders in the Fighting Dojo in short order, and would become the primary gym of Saffron City.
Lorelei brought herself back to the present, and hurried after her father, who was striding purposefully towards Professor Samuel B.F. Oak’s Pokémon Research Lab. She knew that much of the funding for his research came from Silph Company, and that her father would most likely have him over for dinner many times. It wouldn’t hurt to make a good first impression.
The scene that greeted her as she entered the laboratory surprised her. Where Silph’s laboratory had been a calm, serene place, Oak’s laboratory could best be described as barely organized chaos. Screaming, running around, and frantic scribbling were commonplace, and then there were the kids. Lorelei assumed that they were there to get a Pokémon from Professor Oak, as was his wont once a month. The realization that she had walked in on it cut her deeply, as she remembered her mother forbidding her to start a journey.
Her father was barely two steps of her, trying to squeeze forward through the knot of kids. It looked like he wasn’t making much progress. Lorelei shook her head and glanced down at Entrophen, who was looking up at her, a pleading expression on his face. IT was then that she remembered that Entrophen had hearing that was among the most acute of any Pokemon. This racket, while loud for her, must be torturous for him. She smiled sympathetically and nodded; the saber-toothed tiger immediately opened his maw and let loose a roar that cut sharply above, and then through all the noise in the laboratory.
Lorelei leaned against the doorjamb, studying the stunned expressions on the faces of the children mixed with those of awe, the terrified expressions on the few parents—besides her father, of course—in the room, and the unremitting interest from thescientists.
Professor Oak himself threaded his way through the crowd and came up to her and her father, and held out his hand, an animated expression splashed across his face. “Archibald!” he exclaimed, “It’s been a long time! When I heard that you were coming to Kanto, I never thought I’d meet you so soon!” he turned to the children, who were staring at him accusingly, and gestured towards one of his aides, “Jeffrey will give you your Pokemon, I need to speak with this man.” He said dismissively, and turned back to Lorelei’s father, but caught sight of Lorelei and her Pokemon behind him.
“Is that...” he asked incredulously, trailing off. “An Entrophen,” he said softly, his face one of excitement, like a schoolboy having just gotten a new infatuation, “My, I’ve never seen one before.” He raised his eyes to Lorelei, “Are you it’s trainer?” he asked.
Lorelei’s eyes darkened, and she twisted her lip. “I used to be,” she said, glancing at her father, “But then we moved here.”
Professor Oak’s eyes glittered. “I’ve never seen one before. You’d let me study him, won’t you?” he asked, never taking his eyes off the Altan Pokemon, and ignoring the pandemonium and the cries of the aide he had referred to as Jeffrey for help, “It’s a tremendous opportunity. How old is he?”
“Four and a half,” Lorelei replied, her eyes dropping to the ground.
Professor Oak grimaced, “Maybe,” he said, “I should just talk to your father, and we can discuss your Entrophen later.”
Lorelei stared at the orb that sat in front of her on her desk in her room. It was a Pokeball. Her parents didn’t know about it yet, and, with any luck, they wouldn’t find out about it. It had been seven years since she had moved to Kanto, and she’d missed three of Sneasel’s litters, two of Duskull and Haunter’s, and an additional four of Geodude’s litters.
Yes, Viridian City was all well and good, but it was just too confining. She was used to a big city. She’d lived in the capital of Alto until she was ten, after all! Now she’d been dropped into a town that was a paltry fraction of what Smogh had been, and she was expected to cope? Sure, she had done all right when she was younger, but as she had gotten older, the city had chafed more and more on her. It hadn’t helped that Entrophen had died relatively soon after she arrived in Viridian City, three months sooner than expected. After that, the city had become synonymous with her pain of losing the Pokémon, and she grew to hate it with every fiber of her being.
She knew that she’d gotten bitter, and she’d become obsessed with beating everyone and everything around her. She’d gotten into more than her share of fights and trouble, but she didn’t really care. Now she’d figured out how to bet her parents. She’d had her brother secretly send her a Sneasel from her first Pokemon’s latest litter, and he’d sent her a prototype Pokedex to test out as well Using it, she’d been able to hack into the Indigo League’s mainframe, and insert herself into the trainer list. She’d made sure, when she hacked into the Indigo Mainframe, to leave a trail that would stand close scrutiny that said that she had first registered in Johto, and hacked into the Johto League Mainframe to back it up. Because of that, once she was in Johto, she would be able to travel without worrying about being returned to Kanto. From the stash of money that she’d hidden away, she’d bought a travel backpack, several Pokeballs, and healing supplies from the local Pokémon Mart. She had put everything in a lockbox under her bed, and had waited for the right opening, so she could slip away, and have several day’s head start before her parents knew she was gone. At least in Kanto, there wasn’t a Psychic net, so running away from home was much, much easier.
After all, once she was reported missing, she’d be running from Indigo League authorities, and every Gym Leader in the country would be required to turn her in, or have their Pokemon Training licenses removed. That meant that if she wanted an Indigo League Badge, she’d have to move quickly.
By her estimation, it would take her nearly a day to get to Pewter City through Viridian Forest, and, once there, she’d have to make a run for the Johto Border to prevent being picked up and being returned to home, and have everything confiscated. She had everything planned, and the only Polleen in the ointment was if she ran across a Kanto trainer or Kantan Officer Jenny while she was making her break for the border. If all went well, she’d have made it to Blackthorne City before anyone knew that she had run away, and from there, it would be a quick run down to New Bark Town.
She’d gotten the Sneasel several weeks before, and had been training it in secret ever since, preparing it for Luther Slate, the Pewter City Gym Leader. She was confident that she would be able to beat him. She knew that she’d only have one shot at the Pewter City Gym Badge, or she wouldn’t be able to make it to the Johto Border in time.
She heard the door slam on the floor below, and quickly swept the Pokeball into the lockbox, shut the lid, and spun the combination opener to scramble the combination. She had barely managed to get it shoved under her bed and get on top of it, reading what she had been assigned to her in school before the door opened, and her mother poked her head in. “Any calls?” she asked, and Lorelei grunted and shook her head.
The door closed, and Lorelei sighed in relief as she lowered her schoolbook. That had been close. Just three more days, and she’d be able to get out of Viridian City. Her parents were leaving for Celadon City for a week-long conference on the pros and cons of genetic splicing on Pokémon. There were teams of scientists arguing both for and against it. Those that were in favor of the genetic splicing were from a company known as the Rocket Group, a subsidy of Specter Corporation, and those opposed were mainly from the newcomer company Devon Corporation. Her parents had been called in to moderate the debate.
She’d only have, however, a two-day window in which to go. Her next-door neighbor, Mr. Peterson, who was of the opinion that Clefairy and Clefable came down in space ships from the moon wanted to capture him and perform experiments on him, was going to be checking on her every day, but would be gone for the first two days of the conference. By her estimation, it would take a day to get to Pewter, she would rest up there, challenge the gym leader, and head for the Johto Border. It would take up the rest of that day to get there. It would be close. Very, very close.
Lorelei grinned, and glanced at the newspaper she had brought up to her room. On the front, it showed Professor Elm standing in front of his lab, a curious-looking creature standing by his feet. The headline proclaimed, “Johto Scientist genetically mixes Arcanine and Ninetails DNA.” What he had gotten, Lorelei had read in the article, was a litter of baby Pokemon that he had dubbed “Vulithe.” It had also said that in nine days, he would be giving six of them away to trainers for observation. The trainers would only have them for one week, but Elm wanted to know how the Vulithe acted outside of the laboratory.
Lorelei glanced at her watch, and rolled off her bed onto her feet, and walked down the stairs. If she was going to be going off on her own, she had better study as much as she could about Pokemon, so she would be as ready as possible. She grabbed her backpack from where she had lain it down by the door and said, “I’m going to the library. School report,” and walked out without waiting for her mother to reply. Only a few more days, and she wouldn’t have to stay in Viridian City anymore.
Less than twelve hours, now, and then she’d be able to go on a journey of a lifetime. Just a little longer. She had her supplies, she had her Pokemon, and now there was just one thing that she needed to get. New clothes.
Lorelei stared at herself in the mirror, and grinned. She’d cut her long hair, and now there was very little of it at all. She had cut her hair so that her black hair, of which there was the most, was short, and her short, blond streak was long, and draped forward over her shoulder. She had just finished picking out clothes for her journey, and was very satisfied. She had picked out a leather jacket, sunglasses, several pairs of jeans, and several T-shirts from Johto baseball teams. The Electabuzz, Jynx, Sneasels, and the Charizards were just a few of the shirts that she had gotten.
She grinned, and headed for the checkout counter. Her parents were gone, so now she didn’t have to sneak around. She only had one more stop after this. The Grocery Store. She’d need to buy enough food to last for at least a week, to make sure she’d have enough food to make it to Cherrygrove City. She grinned, and was almost trembling with excitement. She was almost on her way. She had only a few hours to wait, and then she’d be on the run.
True, she wouldn’t really be on the run for nearly a full day, but she’d have to make every second count.
Lorelei glanced at herself in her new clothes in the mirror and grinned. She looked back down at the lockbox in front of her, and opened it. Inside were all the supplies she had gathered, and enough money to last for at least a month. She grinned as she began stuffing the money, then the supplies into her backpack, and strapped on her customized Pokéball belt. In addition to the magnetic clamps that kept Pokéballs on the belt, she had had it outfitted with several more pouches that were just big enough to fit Potions, Antidotes, and other healing supplies into, as well as a special pouch for berries, and another for miscellaneous objects. That was where she put her empty Pokéballs now, as well as some extra spending money. Her eyes glittered as she picked up the Pokéball containing her first Indigo League-recognized Pokémon, and put the Pokéball onto her belt.
It occurred to her as she grabbed the backpack and heaved it up over her shoulders that she could just go to New Bark Town right away, and skip Pewter City altogether, but that would negate the thrill of being out on her own for the first time. And the thrill that came when she knew she was being chased.
She grinned, and hurried out the door. Under cover of darkness, she knew, there were few who could keep up with her. She had spent entire days exploring the area between Viridian City and Pewter City with a trainer that had wanted to train. So familiar had she become with the route, in fact, she’d become a guide, and had made a lot of money guiding trainers back and forth between the two towns, and guiding them to nests of rare Pokemon. She also had the added bonus of watching trainers battle, and she had learned much because of it.
She knew where to walk, where to go, and what to avoid. And that was if she didn’t have a Pokemon. With a Pokemon, she knew, there was nobody that could catch her. She would be, however, in unexplored territory once she traveled a mile west from Pewter.
For one short moment, she stopped to take in Viridian City, and then she turned, and dashed into the woods. She had a tight schedule, and she needed to get moving if she wanted to keep it.
Lorelei slowed to a stop at one of the creeks that she had designated as a rest area, and sat down on the ground to try to catch her breath. She had made good time, but it would count for nothing if she didn’t keep up the pace.
Suddenly, she heard a twig snap behind her. She leaped to her feet and whirled around, her hand snapping out and releasing Sneasel before she dropped down into a defensive position.
“Who’s there?” she demanded, taking a cautious step forward.
A figure formed out of the bushes and came towards her, grinning. Lorelei felt her eyes narrow. It was a human, not a Pokemon. Nobody else knew about places like this. Or, if they did, they didn’t know how to get here. They were too heavily guarded by Pokemon. That meant only one thing. She’d been discovered earlier than she had thought, and they were here to take her back. Well, they wouldn’t get her without a fight, that was for certain. With a yell, she charged forward, felt something cold go up her arm, and somehow found herself on her back, staring up at that grinning face.
Lorelei felt true terror as she realized that she couldn’t move. Not a muscle would work. She opened her mouth to scream, but no words came out. Then the human dissolved into the grinning face of a Gastly. Lorelei felt herself grow colder and colder as the Ghost descended towards her. This was it. She was dead.
And there was nothing she could do about it.