“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.

Maroon City was austere, stern, and unwelcoming- not a fun place to visit, but it was necessary. Penelope stalked through the cold streets. She was here on a mission.

Penelope stood at the door of Maroon’s gym and knocked. It slid open moments later. She glanced around. The leader, Harter, had filled the gym with his friends and apprentices, ready to challenge anyone who thought they could get the gym’s badge.
“Hey! Think you can beat Harter?” asked an over-eager apprentice. “I’m going to beat you before you can even get to him!”
The apprentice sent out a geodude. Before the poor geodude could even roar threateningly, Penelope sent out Groudon, who blasted the geodude and his trainer across the room.

Everything went silent.

“Harter,” said Penelope, stroking Groudon. “I need to talk to you.”

Harter sat at the back of the gym, looking terrified. “P-P-Penelope,” he stuttered. “I wasn’t expecting you.”

“Nonetheless, here I am,” Penelope said. Groudon didn’t even move, its eyes looking dead- all of its free will had long since been crushed out of it.

“What do you want?” babbled Harter. “I- I- I’ve done everything you Elite Four guys wanted me to do.”

“I need one more favor, Harter,” Penelope smiled…

Cynn walked down the long, shady route. A wild Rattatta scampered toward him, but he didn’t bother to engage it in battle. His head was still swirling.

So the one who had kidnapped Pokey was a kid, hmmm? That was interesting. He’d been half expecting the culprit to be a gigantic, hairy, psychotic murderer.
At least his parents hadn’t argued when he decided to set off chasing the little bastard. He would miss them, of course, but he was looking forward to the freedom of life on the road.

Quill scuttled around excitedly, and then leapt up into the palm of Cynn’s hand.
“Cyndaaa!” Quill squeaked.

Cynn was getting rather bored. He’d been walking down the path for a long time, and there was no sign of Maroon City ahead of him. I should have taken a bike, he thought.

His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a gengar wandering out from behind a tree. Cynn jumped. The gengar stumbled around for a second, and then muttered in a deep, “Gen gen gengar…”
Behind the gengar was a brown-haired girl with oddly bright green eyes.
Quill leapt around agitatedly.
“Uh… hi,” said Cynn.
“Want to battle?” the girl asked.
“Not now, thanks,” Cynn said, brushing past.
“Oh, come on,” the girl groaned. “Your pokemon will never get any more powerful if you don’t train.”
“Fine,” Cynn said, not in the mood for an argument.
The gengar leapt back, growling.
Quill leapt to the ground and prepared to fight.
“All right…” Cynn muttered to himself. “Quill! Uh… tackle!”
Quill leapt at the gengar, knocking it head over heels.
“Gen! Hypnosis!” the girl shouted.
The gengar, apparently named Gen, fired some kind of swirling energy beam from its forehead. Quill collapsed, falling asleep immediately.
“All right, you win,” said Cynn irritably, picking up Quill. “How’d you get a gengar, anyway? Don’t they live on the other side of the region?”
“I found Gen badly wounded, stumbling through my garden,” the girl said. “She’d originally been really powerful, but whatever happened to her weakened her a lot. I’m trying to train her back up and make her tough again.”
“Huh,” Cynn said. “So what’s your name?”
“Jennifer,” the girl said. She then scooped up her gengar and wandered away.
“See ya!” she called over her shoulder. Cynn sat down, leaned back against a tree, and waited for Quill to wake up.

To be continued next time!