The Amalei Region—lush, vibrant, peaceful. It was comprised of a small network of isles nestled northeast of the U.S. Virgin Islands and a few hours away from the Kanto Region—in fact, the entire region was an American territory. Though each one held many tightly knit communities and diverse landscapes, the largest of them all was Feron Grove, a city that was anchored in the north and center of the biggest island, and it certainly was the center of activity. People from all over the world came to visit Feron Grove and its surrounding beachside and pastoral towns, and there was always a bus, trolley, or ship that would take the locals to any of those places.
A late summer breeze did little to quell the humidity hanging in the island city's air, but that didn't matter to Lia Feran, who sat under a tall oak tree in the park near the city's center. A young lady of sixteen, she and her family had lived on the island for generations. The same could not be said could be said of the Pokémon that populated the island. Only a small number of species now remained after thousands of years.
"Let's see…" Lia murmured, her bright blue eyes fixed on a book of which she was dutifully flipping the pages. "Couldn't be bubonic plague. Some kind of flu…no."
While Lia read, a group of nearby teenagers were embroiled in a fast-paced game of soccer. One of the girls, Wendy, intercepted the ball from one of the boys and went to kick it past them, but she got tripped up, changing the sphere's trajectory. The ball hurled right toward the girl under the tree, who raised her eyes above her book and raised her arm and knocked it to the ground.
"Whoa! Sorry, girl!" Wendy said, going over to her and picking up the ball.
"No worries," Lia said, smiling at her friend. "But please watch your aim. Isn't Mike supposed to be the target?"
"Oh sure, pick on the fat kid!" Mike yelled half-jokingly, pushing his black swath of long hair to the side of his head and patting his round belly. "Where's that brother of yours, Lia? Can't he take a few for the team?"
"Karate practice, Mikey," the younger Feran sibling said. "You know how he is."
"Yeah, and you still owe me lunch for breaking my guitar, and you haven't paid up!" Wendy shouted back. "I get to hit you at least once!" She bent over to tie her purple sneakers when she noticed Lia mumbling. She took a look at the book and said, "An Encyclopedia of Diseases… You aren't the science type."
Lia cocked her head to the side, making her raven-and-blonde-streaked hair dangle in the air. "Perfect reading weather," she remarked. "Besides, I'm trying to figure out what's making everyone sick."
"That is weird," Rashid, another one of their friends, commented in a soft accent as he went to grab a drink of water from his metal container. "I just saw on the news that three more people and some animals got whatever crud that is."
"Paralysis isn't just crud, man," Mike cut in, taking the ball from Wendy. "These people are puking and can't even move much of their bodies. Check this out." He pulled out his smartphone and showed everyone a few images from an online newspaper—three victims writhing in pain from some kind of unknown illness.
"Still…disturbing…" Wendy responded as Rashid shook his head. "But what are you gonna do about it, Lia?"
"Find out what it is, I guess. What can I do?" Lia said, shrugging. The other three then ran off to continue their game. Lia reached into a dark pink backpack and drew out another book entitled Island Legends. Over the past few days, people, Pokémon, and other animals had been found unconscious or otherwise impaired, and nobody had been able to tell anyone about what hurt them—they were physically unable to.
"Something about this seems familiar," Lia said to herself, flipping through the pages. When she reached page 100, her eyes grew wide.
No way… That can't be right…
"Come on, Eevee! Go get it, boy!"
The little brown Pokémon cried out excitedly as it chased after its companion—a little girl of no more than eight years old. The child dashed out from a thicket of trees and into a sandy clearing, chucking a stick into the distance. The stick landed near the mouth of a small, lone cave that sat near the water's edge. Eevee scurried past the smiling girl and went to retrieve the branch, but it stopped dead in its tracks as it approached the mouth of the cavern. Its pointed ears perked up, and the creature began to growl.
"Eevee?" the girl asked, tugging at the sleeve of her white jumper. "What's wrong?"
A low hissing sound came from the dark opening of the cavern, making the girl shudder and Eevee let out a combative cry, moving in front of its friend. In an instant, the Pokémon was thrown back to the child's feet. Eevee let out a low moan, curling up in a little ball. Two round marks near its neck were drooling blood, and flecks of green slime were creeping up its neck.
"Eevee, no!" the child screamed. She pulled her sweater off and wrapped it around her pet's wounds as tight as possible. She lifted up her eyes toward the cave, having not seen what hurt her Eevee, and she came face to face with two black eyes, two saber-like fangs, and a forked tongue.
"Go ahead. Run and tell them what you saw…" a raspy voice said.
The girl let out a tear-choked shriek and ran off the way she came, cradling Eevee in her arms. The assailant, a hulking figure the girl didn't get to fully see, rose up and looked to the sky. Heavy gray clouds began to creep in from the east.
"Another tribute for you, my empress," the creature hissed. "They will truly know your power very soon."