Cynn woke up around 11:45. He rolled over and tried to go back to sleep, but he couldn't- he was far too excited. Tomorrow, it would be time.
He'd waited for years for this. While his friends got their starter pokemon and left home to explore the Yinaro region, his parents had insisted he was too young to get his starter, too young to leave home.
He had been legally entitled to get his starter and to leave home at age 11. Tomorrow, he would be 15.
Cynn snorted. His parents had gotten his little sister, Susanne, a slowpoke for her birthday. She was seven.
“You're not responsible enough yet, Cynn,” his parents had told him. “Besides, Susanne's not going to be battling anyone with little Pokey here.”
“If you want, I won't battle either,” Cynn had insisted. But they had ignored him.
Pokey wandered into Cynn's room, yawning and making burbling noises. Cynn petted Pokey's head, causing the slowpoke to make a purring sound.

At first, Cynn had taken his frustration out Pokey. But after a while, he grew to love the little guy.
Ah well, Cynn thought. There's no use dwelling on the past. His parents had finally relented, and for his fifteenth birthday, he would get to go to the professor's lab and choose a starter pokemon.

Pokey made a sound that was almost like laughter; Cynn was tickling his belly. Pokey flopped over and spontaneously went to sleep, as slowpokes often do. Cynn got to his feet and headed toward the living room, where his mom's growlithe was asleep on the couch. Cynn sat down next to the growlithe (whose name was Growly- his family was not known for their incredibly creative pokemon names) and flipped on the TV. A reporter was talking about a car-bombing perpetrated by Team Volt, a group of notorious terrorists who used electric-type pokemon to wreck havoc. They saw suicide bombings as noble sacrifices in their never-ending war against the government. So they saw fit to send others out to do it for them. They would force voltorbs to carry out these attacks, strapping explosives to the voltorbs, sending them into a government building, and then ordering the pokemon to use the move Self-Destruct to activate the explosives and destroy themselves and anyone nearby. The hypocrisy of this was utterly lost on them.

Cynn cringed as he watched footage of the attack. The poor voltorb…

He changed to the next channel. On that channel, a message was being played:

“Our rulers, the Elite Four, have kept us safe for years. They’ve protected us from the deadly Pokerus disease, giving all of the vaccinations to the people rather than saving them for themselves. Who knows how many pokemon have been saved from infection? The Elite Four give us free electricity by utilizing the dangerous pokemon Raikou and Zapdos- rather than allowing these two to run amok and slaughter thousands, their powers are used to ensure that none of you have to pay an electricity bill. For all they’ve done for us, it’s time that we thank them. Donate money to fund the Elite Four’s-”

He switched the channel again. On this one, some conspiracy theory nut was ranting:

“The pokerus isn’t a disease at all! It makes pokemon more powerful, and the government- the Elite Four- are giving out pokerus vaccinations to prevent any pokemon from being as powerful as theirs! The government is forcing innocent pokemon to work tirelessly to supply energy to the world- poor Zapdos! Imagine being forced to constantly drain your power in the service of someone who thinks of you only as a tool. And I haven’t even gotten started on the subject of the grimers and muks who have been slaughtered-”

Cynn snorted and turned off the TV. Then, suddenly, he fell asleep, feeling safe and cozy next to the softly purring growlithe.

Cynn awoke the next morning to the sound of hysterical sobbing. He leapt to his feet in a panic- a police car was outside the door. He bolted outside- his parents were talking to a policeman, and his little sister was crying.
“Mom? Dad? What’s going on?” he asked, heart pounding.
His mother hugged him. “Oh, Cynn, thank goodness, you’re awake!”
“What happened?” he stuttered.
His mother bit her lip. “Someone broke into our house. They took, um…”
Susanne sobbed even harder.
“They took Pokey,” whispered Cynn’s mom.

Cynn’s heart sank and he stumbled backwards in shock.
“Why didn’t we hear them breaking in?” Cynn mumbled.
“We live in such a friendly neighborhood- I always keep the door unlocked…” His mom seemed numb.

Cynn was still absorbing the morning’s events when he stumbled into Professor Alder’s lab. Despite all that had happened, today was still his day to get his first pokemon.
Alder was hard at work, examining a pokemon egg.
“Um… sir?” Cynn said.
Alder jumped. “Oh. It’s you,” he said, turning around.

Professor Alder was an effeminate young man with rimmed glasses. He was red-haired, pale, and as thin as a stick. He was also a genius.
Cynn shook Alder’s hand. “I’ve come for a starter pokemon and a pokedex, sir,” he said.
“Certainly, certainly,” Alder muttered, sounding distracted. He opened up his desk and pulled out a handful of pokeballs.
“What would you like?” he asked, reading the labels on the pokeballs. “We’ve got a bulbasaur here, a chikorita, a mudkip… ah, here’s a cyndaquil...”

“Can I see the cyndaquil?” Cynn asked. Alder popped open the ball, revealing a small, twitchy, mouse-like pokemon.
“I like this guy,” Cynn said, letting the cyndaquil crawl around in his palm.
“He’ll get bigger,” Alder said. “He’s not always going to be a cute little mouse.”
“I know,” Cynn said, rather distractedly. “I’d like to keep him, though.”
“What will you call him?” Alder asked. “If it was a girl you could call her Cyndi, ha ha.”
“How about Quill?” Cynn said to himself. “Yeah, this guy’s definitely a Quill.”
“Good luck out there in the world, Cynn,” Alder said. “You’ll need it.”
“Thanks, Professor,” Cynn said.

“I appreciate you coming to me for your first pokemon. I saw a young man wandering around this morning- he couldn’t have been older than you- with a slowpoke in tow… the poor animal was terrified, his trainer obviously didn’t know what he was doing…” Alder mused.
“Wait- what?” Cynn froze.
“Some brainless kid with a slowpoke,” Alder said. “He was heading toward Maroon City, apparently thinking he could beat the gym leader there.”
“My family’s slowpoke was kidnapped this morning,” Cynn said.
“Oh, dear,” said Alder.
“Thank you for the pokemon, Professor. I’ve got to get going,” Cynn murmured, heart pounding. Could the kid Alder had seen be the one who had taken Pokey?
“Uh… bye!” Alder waved to Cynn as the latter stormed out of the lab.
Alder had the nasty feeling that he had just started something dangerous.

To be continued in the next episode!