It was the middle of October, but it felt like summer. The weather had been odd lately – not enough rain, too much heat. At first, there were a bunch of conspiracy theories about the ancient Pokémon Groudon awakening and causing a drought, but those fears were put to rest when a courageous group of trainers sought out the rare Pokémon and found it sleeping in a cave in the Johto region. Still, there were new theories cropping up almost weekly – a Team Rocket plot, the work of a different Pokémon, or even the work of aliens. Everyone wanted to know what was causing the ground to dry and crack, the trees to wither, and even drain the reservoirs of some of the smaller cities. In the end, however, there were only lies, and no truth to be found.

Walking down one of the scorched, dusty roads was a trainer. She was obviously experienced, for a Dragonair flew behind her. A purple bandana kept her untidy hair back out of her face, and a black tank and denim shorts helped to block out some of the sun's fierce light. She was sunburned all over, however, in all of the places that were exposed to the heat and light – she had run out of sunblock a few days ago and the nearest town was very far away.

There were no other travelers on the road – just the girl, her Dragonair, and one other Pokémon – a Pikachu perched atop the girl's head. It was a male, with the normal thunderbolt shaped tale and a battle-hardened look in his eyes. A huge gash was cut into his face, making him look far more intimidating than most members of his species. The girl he traveled with, however, seemed to make him calm down and become docile. Without her, he appeared as though he might strike first and ask questions later.

The girl took a swig out of a bottle of lemonade and took a good look at the map in her hands. The next town, Scarletbloom, looked to be a good five miles away – closer than the other towns, but still a day's walk. Of course, Dragonair could have flown the distance in half a day, but the Dragon-type was weary and thirsty. Flying all that distance might make her too ill to fight against the Gym Leader in the next town over. After all, after Scarletbloom, the towns became much closer together- the wilderness gave way to a sprawling urban setting.

In the distance, another figure was approaching them. As they got closer together, the girl could see that it was another trainer – well, another human, at the very least, but there was simply no way for someone who wasn't a trainer to make it this far into the enormous, sprawling desert here. Not now at least – it was too dry for any normal traveler to make it. Five minutes passed, and she was able to see the boy's features more closely – bluish sort of hair, and completely red clothing from head to toe. In a way, it made the boy look a bit like a Fire-type Pokémon: Typhlosion, perhaps? There was a Pokémon walking by his side as well – a Luxray. The lion Pokémon looked tired, as though it wanted nothing more than to sleep. Still, the boy kept urging the Pokémon farther, as though there was no other option.

Soon, the girl was close enough to call out to the boy. "'ey, you!" she shouted. "What're you doin' here?" Her Pikachu jumped down and took a protective stance in front of his trainer when the boy failed to respond right away. When he finally did, it was a mere twenty feet away from the girl, and with a beastly smirk on his face.

"Nice Pokémon," he sneered. "A Pikachu, huh? Never seen that one before. At least your Dragonair is somewhat useful."

The girl's face flushed even more red than it had been with just the sunburn. "What's tha big idea?" she growled. "What's wrong with Pikachu?"

The boy let out a confident laugh and continued in his smooth, infuriating voice. "Your accent… what is it, exactly? I can't put my finger on it right now, but – oh yes. You're from… northern Johto, is that it? Hm. I'm from Kanto. Vermillion City. Do you know where that is?"

"Of course I know where tha' is! I'm no idiot!" The girl was fuming by this point. Her two Pokémon looked as though they were ready to lunge at the boy and rip off a few of his limbs.

"Pathetic." He smirked, giving the girl's Pokémon an evil look. "Can't you control those monsters? Why would you leave them out in the heat like this?"

"You have a Luxray, right there!" The girl jabbed a finger at the Electric-type feline.

"Oh? This isn't my Pokémon. I was just using it to light the way through the cave. I lost its Poké Ball though, and can't return it for the time being." He shrugged, as though this was a perfectly good reason to let the Pokémon suffer through the heat of the desert.

"Stolen it, didn't cha?" The girl grabbed a Great Ball off of her belt.

"Oh? A battle? Don't you know that battling should never-" the boy raised a finger and waved it around as though taunting a disobedient Pokémon, "ever be used to settle an argument?"

The girl did not bother to honor the boy's question with a response. She merely pressed the button at the center of the sphere and silently recalled her tired Dragonair to her Poké Ball. With that done, she walked straight past the boy, not bothering to look back.

"Weakling!" the boy shouted after her. "Pikachu is useless and so are you! I knew you wouldn't fight me! You're too chicken!" Still, she didn't turn around.

"My Pokémon would rip you apart!" He screamed. "My Garchomp would tear off the rat's arms! My Rapidash would gore him straight through the heart! My Scyther would slash off his ears and cut him in half!" The girl stopped for a moment. The boy grinned, feeling victory coming his way. The girl was starting to get scared. Good.

"Coward," she called back, quietly. "You're too afraid to fight me yourself."

"My Raticate will knaw on his bones! There will be nothing left of your rat! Nothing! And good riddance too! One Pikachu is too many! Everyone has one – everyone! The little rat is everywhere, and it's useless! They all deserve to die! And you, the trainers that use them, are just a bunch of pussies that blindly follow the crowd, that are too retarded to make their own decisions!" White flecks of foam flew out of the boy's enraged mouth.

The girl… smiled. "Follow the crowd, eh?" She turned around once to face the boy, then looked right back at the path she had been following and continued on. Her Pikachu followed at her heels.

"Well," she began, her voice becoming fainter and fainter and she walked away from the raving boy. "I guess I'd like to say that Tesla and I have never heard threats like those before, but what can you do? Some people can only seem to follow the crowd…"