Chapter One: I Get Rejected (And It's Terrible)
My name is
I’m thirteen years old, and I live in New Bark Town. The only reason we moved to this place was because Dad’s application to the Kanto-Johto Elite Four was accepted when Jon–a Fire-type Trainer, also a former Elite Four member–stepped down two years ago. You could only apply to be a member of a region’s Elite Four if you were born in said region, see, and the same rule applied for Gym Leaders.
My dad’s Charles Ramirez. Did that sound familiar?
Because he’s a member of the Kanto-Johto Elite Four.
He was born in Johto, but he and my grandparents moved to Lavaridge Town in Hoenn when he was younger, where he ended up traveling the region and falling in love with a Pokémon Breeder named Rosalie Araya. That was my mom. I ended up being born in Lavaridge Town in Hoenn and I was raised there my whole life with my sisters Cadence and Coralie. Until we moved to New Bark Town, anyway.
Even though he may not look like it, Dad was a great Pokémon Trainer and an even better Battler. He’d been the Champion of both Kanto and Johto when he was a teenager, seventeen, I think, and that was pretty young for Champion, but he stepped down to travel the rest of the regions–Kanto, Sinnoh, Unova, and Kalos–before settling down by my grandparents’ home in Lavaridge Town in Hoenn. His Pokémon still lazed around our backyard, and his flygon would give me rides to school whenever I needed.
I attended a school for beginner Pokémon Trainers in New Bark Town–Elm’s Elementary Academy of Pokémon Training. I use to attend a similar one in Mauville City back in Hoenn, but I had to admit, the people were a lot nicer around here. But I wouldn’t deny it, I missed my old friends terribly–Elias and Archer and Julian and Aline and Jaslyn and Elyse and Jai.
And Astor. I definitely missed Astor.
Even though I wouldn’t admit it.
Though I still talked to them, I’d made friends here. Or, rather, one friend. But that was enough. He was all I needed. I apprenticed under Professor Elm while my older sister Cadence worked with Mom in the only pokémon day care in New Bark Town, nursing pokémon to full health. Cadence wanted to be a successful Breeder like Mom, but me?
I wanted to be like Dad.
And that’s why ever since I moved to Johto, I’d been completely obsessed with learning everything there was about Pokémon, even accepting Emory’s offer of working with him as an apprentice to Professor Elm, learning the type advantages and disadvantages and the battle strategies of past Champions themselves. All just so I can attend the same school Dad did–the Blackthorn Institute of Pokémon Training.
The Blackthorn Institute of Pokémon Training was the most prestigious academy in Johto. Its campus was lavishly designed with statues of legendary pokémon and its gardens were lush and green and the library was a separate building from the actual academy and was said to be the biggest in all of Johto. I could only dream of being accepted into Blackthorn Institute. Dad promised me that tuition was no problem, but no one could just buy their way in. Everyone who wanted to attend had to submit an application with more-than-acceptable credentials. I was the daughter of Kanto-Johto Elite Four member Charles Ramirez and an apprentice to world-renowned Pokémon Professor Chester Elm.
But was I good enough for them?
I knew from the very beginning that I wasn’t.
The end of the world began when a faint thump landed on my windowsill.
I’d been awake for a long time now, but I hadn’t risen immediately. Instead, I spent my first few waking hours messaging my best friend Emory on the PokéNAV I received on my birthday last year as calming music–or, more specifically, the song Can’t Help Falling in Love with You by the musical group Jirachi and the Starcatchers–spilled from its speaker. His birthday was in less than a week, and he’d asked whether he should get a dratini, a bagon, or an axew.
Emory Guerra was the son of Ecruteak City Gym Leader Landon Guerra, Master of Ghost-type Pokémon, and world-renowned singer Isolde Mariana. That was how his parents were able to afford Dragon-type pokémon for him, because they were filthy rich. Both his parents decided to move the family to the quaint and quiet New Bark Town to get away from the paparazzi and the press. But their efforts turned out to be in vain, as the Guerra estate was almost always flanked with photographers and interviewers.
Before I could reply that he should instead get a trapinch or a swablu, however, the thump-thumping continued, except it was louder this time. With a frown marring my facial features, I pulled the blinds open to see a bird pokémon pecking at the glass of my window with a sharp beak. With its cream-colored feathers, I noticed right away that it was a pidgey. I was the assistant of Professor Elm, after all, and besides, who wouldn’t notice a pidgey at first glance? Clutched in one of its claws was a mail holding a seal with a familiar symbol, the paper scrunched up from where the pidgey held it.
I hadn’t expected any mail today.
When I pushed the window open, I inhaled the fresh air as I was greeted with the sight of New Bark Town spread out before me–all lush greenery and tiny green-roofed houses, with the exception of the Guerra estate, which loomed over the town menacingly with its purple turrets and its Gothic-style balconies. But no matter how impressive the exterior was, the interior of it was better, even if I’d only seen it once. I gingerly took the mail into my hands and watched the pidgey fly off into the distance.
Downstairs, Mom called my name to get ready for breakfast and to get my trapinch–Pendragon–out from under the dining table. Breakfast can wait, I thought. Maybe Pendragon couldn’t, though.
With a roll of my eyes, I ripped open the letter to read its contents.
NBT 4611, #3 Pine Road
New Bark Town, Johto
Dear Miss Ramirez,
It is with deep regret that I write to inform you that we are unable to offer you admission to the freshman class at Blackthorn Institute of Pokémon Training. Your applications for admission to the institute as well as your supporting credentials have been carefully reviewed by the Admissions Committee. We at Blackthorn Institute appreciate the effort and care that went into your application and I assure you that your candidacy receive serious and thorough consideration.
We appreciate very much your interest in the institute, and the deans wish you well as you continue your education.
Assistant Dean of Admission
Blackthorn Institute of Pokémon Training
My heart sank to my chest as my fingers trembled. In a fit of rage, I crumpled up the paper into a ball and chucked it into the nearest trash bin.
I spent my heart and soul into that application. I worked late nights and spent weeks–months, even–trying to assemble together the best portfolio and even offered to work extra hours in Elm’s laboratory just so Professor Elm could write me a reference letter. I was so sure that I could make it. Emory believed that I could make it. I wanted to make it.
This couldn’t be happening.
My sister Cadence and my trapinch Pendragon found me under a pillow fort that was hastily-made in less than a minute, wrapped up in all the blankets I owned as I sobbed my eyes out and blared out loud music about wearing black and hating life from the speakers. When she found the rejection letter from my dream school scrunched up in a ball by the trash bin in the corner of my room, she tried to soothe me into comfort.
“There will be other schools,” she told me in an attempt to calm me down as I cried. “What about Celadon Institute of Pokémon Training?”
“Too far away from here,” I mumbled as Pendragon tried to calm me down himself by nuzzling into my forearm. The school was all the way in Kanto and there was no way in the name of the dimension world would Mom or Dad agree to that. “Mom would never let me.”
That, my sister knew all too well. Just last week, over dinner, she expressed her desire to attend the Verdanturf Institute for Pokémon Breeding, an academy for Breeders like her. It was the same one Mom attended. She had sorted everything–from dorms to shifts in the nearby day care to living quarters, only for our parents to disapprove of the idea because it was “too far away from home.” Like they knew where home was.
“Alright,” Cadence said, almost to herself, as she racked her brain, trying to remember all the academies I expressed interest in. “How about Mauville Institute?”
“That’s in Hoenn.” I reminded her. I’d wanted to attend Mauville Institute of Pokémon Training as well–the campus was much better than the one in Blackthorn–and I knew that some of my friends from Hoenn wanted to attend. But I’d asked Mom and Dad and they said no.
Cadence was quiet for a while. I couldn’t blame her. Because have you ever wanted so badly to comfort someone, but you knew that your attempts would be useless? That was probably how she felt about me. And if she did, then she was right. So she waited. Waited for me to stop crying, and even somehow managed to put up with the heavy rock music that was blaring out of my PokéNAV.
“Maybe you should call Emory,” she suggested after being quiet for too long.
I pushed one of the pillows off of me just to see her face. She looked apologetic, almost. The expression was new to me. She had never looked at me like that before. When I nodded, she got up and left the room, remembering to close the door behind her. When I heard her footsteps padding downstairs, I picked up my PokéNAV and halted the music to a pause.
There was a reason why I didn’t want to call Emory at first. Because he convinced me to make it to the Elite Four the old-fashioned way–by defeating all eight Gym Leaders of the region and collecting their respective Gym Badges. After I did that, I would journey to the Indigo Plateau and place well in the Johto League Championships and once I do, I would challenge the Kanto-Johto Elite Four members. And then I would travel to Hoenn and do the same, eventually becoming an Elite Four member myself. But my plan was a whole lot different. A whole lot safer, in my opinion.
Unlike me, Emory didn’t want to be an Elite Four member. He wanted to be the Kanto-Johto League Champion, and there was nothing could stop him from dreaming. But his parents made him wait until he was fourteen to be able to travel. We were an ambitious duo, but we knew that we would make it one day.
As Pendragon crawled his way up to my head and rested on his usual resting place, I scrolled down the contacts in my PokéNAV and tapped on Emory’s contact name. He’d left me a couple messages wondering where I left and only then did I realize that I’d forgotten to message him to get a trapinch or a swablu instead. I held the PokéNAV up to my ear and sniffled back the tears. Emory would know what to do.
After a couple of seconds, Emory picked up his PokéNAV. “Hello?”
“Emory,” I said. And he must have noticed that I was sad because the next thing he asked was if I was okay. “I’m–no, I’m not. I’m not okay. Can you come over?”
He didn’t ask any more questions. “I’ll be there in ten minutes.” he said before hanging up the phone.That was when I made up my mind to accept his offer as his traveling companion.