Picture the scene…
A small, seaside town. A small stream runs through it. The sea lies on one side, with beautiful sunsets. On the other side, a small forest. A beautiful beach sits just to the south. The town is filled with shops and stalls, with both villagers and travelers buzzing all about. Two young brothers buy food at the market, where the kindly shopkeeper gives them an extra apple, no charge.
Travelers flow in and out of the town constantly. Some are here to train at the dojo. Others choose to lounge at the café. Most are looking for work, and a few are looking for a career.
Because there's one building, up on a hill, that brings this town fame. It is an Explorer's Guild, one of only two on the continent, and the one with the better reputation.
A stranger stands in the town square. He is tall, and his stance is almost impossibly upright. He radiates power, and those who pass near him would say that he smelled of ozone. He looks up at the Guild, where the hill rises over the treetops. He glances around the square, from the totem poles to the bank, from the daycare to the storehouse. He nods to himself, and walks, slowly but purposefully, down the main road out of town. There were only two Explorer's Guilds in the region. Soon there would be three.
This is Treasure Town. A town of hopes and dreams, of fame and fortune, of bravery and heroes.
It is a town of Pokémon.
Team Razor Wind. Zangoose, Sandslash, and Scyther. Famous for their claws, as well as an unusually high success rate at capturing outlaws. Today their mission takes them deep into Oran Forest, where an inside tip said that the thief Mightyena (also charged with resisting arrest, littering, loitering, and assaulting an officer) was hiding.
The three had been here before, and though the layout was different (it always was), they knew what they were doing.
Of course, the universe despises such thoughts, and so they found a surprise waiting for them in the heart of the woods. At the edge of a clearing that was never there before, a short fence of the kind one finds surrounding construction sites was surrounding something that looked suspiciously of… well, take a guess. (It was the clearing. There just happened to be a lot of construction in it.) They walked along the fence to see if they could figure out what's going on.
A Hitmonlee was leaning against a fencepost a little ways down, with a Hitmonchan beside him. Lee wore a tool belt and a cap that he had on backward, and there were a few splatters of paint here and there on him. Chan had a hardhat on, and judging by the dents in it, it was not for show. Team Razor Wind ran up to them.
"Well, look at that, Hitmonchan," said Hitmonlee. "What did Sarge say to do if anyone came here?"
"He said to answer any questions they had while avoiding any actual answers," his brother replied.
Zangoose, ears flat, stepped forward. "You know we could hear you, right?"
"I would hope so, we were pretty loud."
"Just checking," Zangoose sighed. "So, what is going on here? This clearing wasn't here last time we were here. We're looking for an outlaw, a Mightyena charged with-"
"Oh, you're here for that?" Chan asked. "Why didn't you say so?" He pointed straight up, where the Team noticed that a black and grey shape was hanging from a branch by a rope tied around its legs. He was glaring angrily at them. His mouth was bound, which was just as well, since he clearly had a few very angry things on his mind. "He was getting in our way, he wouldn't help build, and he was annoying, so the General had us take care of him. You can take him."
"So," Zangoose began, "you're watching him? Making sure he won't escape?"
"No, we're on break."
"Who's the general?" Sandslash asked quietly.
Hitmonchan's eyes widened, and suddenly the two were clearing throats and scratching heads. "Well," Lee started, "the General's like, um… he's, er, oh boy…"
A voice from a good ways off, but still loud enough to be clear, shouted "Earthquake!" and as the ground shook, two or three small hills popped up around the clearing's edge, a stream ripped itself open (the water came a few minutes later), and, most perceptibly, a large, steep hill about thirty feet high was split down the middle, and the two halves pushed away from each other, until a miniature canyon thirty feet deep, twenty feet wide, and at most a hundred feet long. The shaking stopped, and a team of Diglett, Dugtrio, and other Pokémon with mining equipment scrambled into the new fissure. Within seconds the sound of heavy machinery started up.
The five Pokémon back by the fence continued watching for a minute. And then Zangoose said: "What is it you're doing again?"
"What do you mean? We haven't done this before, so how can we do it again?" Chan asked innocently. He suddenly found a light-green scythe under his chin.
Zangoose smiled horribly. "I didn't catch that. What is it you're doing here?"
Hitmonchan and Hitmonlee glanced at each other.
"Terraforming?" Lee offered.
"Terraforming? That wasn't terraforming, that was a geologic event!"
"Listen, do you want the outlaw or not?" Chan asked hastily.
"Of course we-
"Then please just take him and go. I promise, you'll know what this is all about in a week or two, two months, tops."
No one moved for a dangerous second. Finally, Zangoose relaxed. "Scyther."
The Bug-type lowered his scythe and leaped into the tree to cut down Mightyena. He dropped back down with the canine slung over his back. Zangoose glared at the two brothers once more, then grunted and walked back the way they came, the other two falling into step behind him.
The two waited until Team Razor Wind was out of sight, and then they started to breathe again.
"Well, glad that's over," Hitmonchan said, grinning.
They jumped as the water roared into the no-longer-empty stream, having been diverted from a river about a mile north. Almost immediately, a team of Bibarel started building a bridge across it. The two brothers watched awhile, then went back to work.
"Hooray! Friendly friends! Ha-ha!"
"Yeah, yeah, I'm glad to see you too, but can you keep it down? I want to keep this secret 'til it's ready, you hear?"
"Okey-dokey! What do you need?"
"Just some advice. How does your Guild work, exactly?"
"Oh, that's easy! I make Chatot do it!"
"Okay, I think we're done here. Where's Chatot?"
"He's out at Apple Woods, getting me some yummy Perfect Apples."
"Natch. That just figures, it does. Well, thanks anyway."
Chatot was a brave Pokémon. He was prone to mood swings, tended to blow small problems way out of proportion, and very strict towards the apprentices of the Wigglytuff Guild. That said, he was still very brave, and very loyal to the Guildmaster, though Wigglytuff's bizarre behavior and childlike antics made things difficult.
Like now, for instance. Right now, Chatot was hiking through Apple Woods to collect the Guildmaster's favorite food, Perfect Apples. Wigglytuff snuck into the kitchen whenever Chatot wasn't looking and made off with a Perfect Apple, and so they run out weeks before they should. And if the Guildmaster didn't get his Perfect Apples when dinner came…
Chatot shivered. No use thinking about that…urk…no, no use at all. Just get the apples, and everything would be just fine. Right?
"Whoooo do we have here?"
Chatot jumped and swung around. "Who goes there? Awk! I warn you! I'm tougher than I look!"
"Hohohoo. Undoubtedly. Incidentally, old friend, I'm up here."
Chatot looked up. Sitting on a branch of an apple tree, partially hidden by the shadows, was… "Noctowl?" Chatot said incredulously. "What are you doing here?"
Noctowl hopped down to the ground near Chatot. "What, can't I just be here to visit my old comrade?"
Chatot squinted. "I don't know. Is that why you're here?"
Noctowl tilted his head. "Well, no, not entirely. It is good to see you again, though. How are things with Wigglytuff?"
Chatot sighed. "He ran out of Perfect Apples again. He runs me ragged, he really does."
Noctowl closed his eyes and laughed softly. "Oh really? He runs you ragged? My word, Chatot. The only one who runs you ragged is you. You need to relax, I say."
Chatot's mood took a u-turn. "Relax? You want me to relax? You have no idea what would happen if-if h-he went without his Perfect Apples!"
Noctowl raised an eyebrow. "The ground would start shaking, Wigglytuff would start crying while using Hypervoice, and finally a bright light obscures all else, leaving all present to think to themselves 'This is the end, we are done for,' and then, right at the last second, all of these special effects are turned off like a switch as someone arrives in the nick of time with a Perfect Apple in hand to save the day?"
Chatot's beak dropped. "Well, yes, but… I mean… you see…" he babbled, thinking desperately of something to say.
Noctowl smiled, insofar as a creature with a beak can smile, and said, "Chatot, in all the years you've served in the Guild, has Wigglytuff ever actually lost it? Has he ever really flown off the handle, or has there merely been close calls?" He took a breath. "Chatot, do you really think the Guildmaster would harm you over mere foodstuff?"
Chatot stared for a moment, then hung his head.
Noctowl smiled sympathetically. "As immature, unpredictable, and outright strange as Wigglytuff may be, he is not stupid. And as far as I can tell, you are his closest friend." Chatot's head snapped up. "And knowing how much he values friendship," Noctowl went on, "this is quite the achievement indeed."
Noctowl unfolded a wing and rubbed his chin with his outermost feathers. He looked thoughtfully into the sky, then said, "All this has nothing to do with why I'm here, however. A friend of mine has this rather ambitious plan, you see, and asked me to find you."
"Why me?" Chatot asked suspiciously, all shame evaporating for the moment.
"He wants to start his own Guild, and since Wigglytuff is so difficult to work with, my friend wants you to help him get started."
"Me? I'd be honored!" he said, puffing out his chest. "I am Head of Intelligence at the Guild, you know." Chatot thought a moment, then added. "He'll need to find his own though. I belong only to the Wigglytuff Guild, so he'll need to find his own head of intelligence."
"He has," Noctowl said, turning to walk down the road. "Here, while we talk, I'll help you find the Perfect Apples, what say?"
"For Wigglytuff, you know that."
"No, I mean who's he found for head of intelligence?"
"Oh, that. Me."
Picture the scene…
A small, trading town, out on the plains. Once, it lay beside the sea, but all things change in time. This town has had more time to change than almost any other. It is the oldest town in the region. Once it was near where Treasure Town is now, but when an earthquake caused the spit of land it sat on to fall into the sea, it was rebuilt far away.
It sits above the plains, raised up on a mesa, with the eastern ledge overlooking a wide lake. A post office sits near the edge, and Pelipper constantly move in and out, delivering the mail. North of the thoroughfare, a large pond holds the town elder, a wise Whishcash. South of the hub, Makuhita and his Dojo await all who wish to train themselves.
The main square is a tiled park, with trees and flowers in stark contrast with the plains that surround it. A weathered old bank stands near the square, with an even older shop standing opposite. Two Butterfree watch as their children play. Pokémon lead simple lives of peace here, and all who visit find it hard not to smile.
West of the square, however, is a building of fame and honor: the Alakazam Guild, the oldest of the two Explorer's Guild. It was founded by the legendary Team Go-Getters, and passed on to Alakazam of the ACT. Each Guildmaster since then has been a direct descendant of Alakazam.
It was at this Guild that the Explorer's Union was established, and where many famous explorers have been trained.
The stranger walks into town and to the Guild. He comes out ten minutes later wearing a satisfied expression. He breathes in the fresh air and stands in the square with a glazed look in his eyes. He feels a pull at his leg, and looks down.
Two young boys, a Nuzleaf and a Sentret, stood in front of him. The Nuzleaf asks, timidly, "Excuse me, sir, but our kite got stuck in a tree." He pointed to the tree in question. There was indeed a red kite in the upper branches. A branch was sticking through it. "Can you help us get it down?" the Sentret asked.
The stranger blinked, then smiled. He walked over to the tree and examined the kite. He pulled a sharpened stick from the bag slung over his shoulder, took aim, and threw.
The branch fell into his hands, kite still attached. He pulled it off carefully, then pulled out a roll of duct tape.
He handed the boys their newly repaired kite and smiled to himself as they ran off, laughing. Persian, the banker, was just close enough to hear the stranger mutter, "Ah, I'd missed this place." under his breath. The stranger watched them play for a minute or two, then turned and strode back the way he came, humming softly to himself.
This is Pokémon Square. A town of tall tales and rich history, of trade and commerce, of trust and second chances.
It is a town of legends.
"Blaze, what are we doing here, again?"
"I told you, an old friend asked me for a favor. Several old friends, in fact. If you want any more information, ask Cannon."
A deep, rumbling voice behind them spoke up. "I'm not sure why we're here, but I trust him with my life."
"Good enough for me," Forrest sighed. Anyone Cannon trusted almost had to be the real deal. The Blastoise was frightening until you got know him, and people tended to tell the truth around him, because he gave the impression that he would snap you like a twig if you made him mad.
They fell silent as they walked through the forest, the only sound the faint whir of machinery that always accompanied Cannon.
"So," Forrest said after a while, "who exactly is this guy you trust so much?"
"Are you brushed up on your history?"
"I suppose. Why?"
"Does the name, 'General Circuit' mean anything to you?"
Forrest stopped dead in his tracks. "Wait. Wait. General Circuit? The General Circuit? Not some two-bit wannabe trying to cash in on the original's fame?"
"The General Circuit, yes," Blaze answered.
"But… but the General disappeared over a hundred years ago, didn't he? How can this be the same guy?"
"I don't know," Blaze said, shrugging, "I didn't believe it either. But this guy… he's just amazing. There are no words to describe it. If he's not the real thing, then I'm an anorexic Snorlax."
Cannon snorted. These two were always amusing. Forrest, the dynamic and skeptic Sceptile; Blaze, as calm and deadpan as a Blaziken can get. Cannon remembered when it was the other way around. Blaze would always be the first to crack a joke, always driving the outlaws mad, while Forrest was so… Treecko.
Not anymore. Blaze went mad for a little while, right after that botched mission years ago. He got better, but he was never the same. It was so great to hear him joke again, but he was still so shaken, still so… distant.
Then there's Forrest. He tried to fill the gap Blaze left, and he did it well. Much better than he did cool and collected, at any rate.
Cannon's attention drifted back to reality. The others had stopped, and seemed to be listening for something. Cannon lifted his hat off his ear concentrated. There it was, it sounded like… like… hammers on wood. He replaced his hat and nodded.
"We're here!" he called out loudly. His partners jumped.
"What are you doing?" Blaze hissed. "We don't know what that sound was, and you just gave away our position!"
"It's a pleasure to see you, Miss Kangaskhan," Cannon said over his teammates.
Blaze and Forrest turned. Sure enough, a Kangaskhan was walking towards them, panting slightly. "Oh, Team Triumphant! I'm so glad you could make it! Mr. Circuit has a lot of us helping, but we need more workers if we want to finish before his deadline!"
Forrest jumped down beside her. "Finish what, exactly?"
Kangaskhan gasped. "You don't know and you volunteered anyway? What sweet dears you are! Well, we're working on a new-"
"Take THAT, you lily-livered, good-for-nuthin' crooks!"
The shrubbery beside them exploded as an Aggron dropped from the sky with two black hands around his neck. The hands were connected to a pair of arms, which in turn led to a broad, well-muscled torso. Sitting on top of the torso was a head, and it was this head which was screaming at its victim.
The attacker was enormous, at least seven feet tall. He had shaggy yellow fur and two long tails. He was an Electivire, but he was different. His stripes were not black, they were silver, though his hands, feet and tails were still black. The fur around his mouth was shaggy enough to look like a beard. He was wearing a battered green Army jacket, which he had unbuttoned, and a matching hat sat perched between his antennae. Forrest wondered briefly how it had stayed on during that fall, but he abandoned this train of thought in order to focus on the fight.
The Electivire stood up and swung the Aggron into a tree, several times, then dropped him. He dusted himself off, stood up straight, and offered his hand to Forrest.
"Mornin'!" he said amiably. "I don't think I've had the pleasure of makin' yer acquaintance before. I'm General Circuit."
Forrest took the hand and shook it cautiously. "Forrest. What was-"
"Yes it is, son, but I was askin' for yer name."
Forrest paused to make sense of this, then scowled. "Ha ha, very clever. No, Forrest is my name, sir."
"Ah. Two r's then? Good, good. Excellent." Circuit followed Forrest's gaze to the fallen Aggron. "Oh, that? We had a little disagreement, see, and so, bein' very civil and polite, I proceeded to punch him in the face. I guess I hit too hard, 'cause he went flyin', but I think y'already know that part."
"Whoa. What were you arguin' - er, arguing about?"
Circuit waved his hand dismissively. "Oh, he just wanted to step on li'l Weedle, and well, I didn't take too kindly to that." He turned and picked up Aggron, who'd woken up and was trying to crawl away, and held him up to his face. "Now listen, you yeller-bellied turncoat, I'm gonna be real nice about this. Either you apologize and I let you get back to work, or I call up Raichu and have him take you to prison. Or you could try to resist arrest, again, and I can throw you there myself. What's it gonna be?"
Aggron whimpered something, and Circuit dropped him and grinned. "Wonderful! You ain't as dumb as I thought. Now you make nice with Beedrill's family, and you get off with, oh, let's say reduced rations for three days. That means no second helpings at dinner, by the way." Circuit waited three seconds. Aggron didn't move out of his clumsy salute. "What are you waitin' for, soldier?" he roared, "Go! March! March!"
You wouldn't think a Pokémon as bulky as Aggron could move so fast, but even Forrest was impressed by how fast he ran.
Circuit turned back to Team Triumphant, smiling amiably once more. "Sorry, 'bout that, folks. We're just havin' some technical difficulties." He about-faced and marched through the undergrowth. "Come on, Miss Kangaskhan! Show our guests around, why don't ya? Ah ha ha ha!" he called, laughing boisterously.
Forrest found it hard not to smile, and fought the urge to laugh with the massive Electivire.
"Any doubts as to who he is now, Forrest?" Cannon asked, a smile in his voice.
"Not a one. That's the General himself, all right."
"Well, of course," Kangaskhan said testily. "Who else could he be?"
Forrest ignored her. "What I want to know, however, is how? How can he still be alive?"
"Unimportant as of this moment," Blaze said. "What I want to know is where we're going."
They reached the edge of a clearing. Kangaskhan, a glint in her eye, pulled back the undergrowth obscuring the view. "This," she said, "Is where we're going, gents."
Picture the scene…
A sprawling forest, one side dotted with the blue of Oran berries, the other sprinkled with the red of apples. A tiny mesa that wasn't there a month ago stands near the middle, where it rises just above the tree line. A small, brand-new house lies at the mesa's center. We'll ignore it.
A half-mile west of the mesa is a sizeable clearing. A stream runs through it. Trees stand in choice locations, far enough part to keep it a clearing and not another stretch of forest. There's also a town.
A small town, shining and brand new, lies in this clearing. A shop with a sunshine motif boasts a wide selection of items, and the proud owners eagerly await visiters. In front of their shop is the town square, at the center of which is an ornamental statue, depicting a legendary rescue team leader: the Great Lucario. Next to the shop is a Kangaskhan Storage facility, where the owner was giving the town's first three visitors a tour. South of the square is the daycare, run by the young Happiny twins, and right next door, in one of the largest trees on this side of the forest, is a tree house, in which is the Togekiss Café; come in and recycle items with Plusle and Minun, or have Togekiss make you a drink.
On the other side of the stream is Honchcrow Bank. The owner looks shifty, but he would never take your money, except for storage purposes, of course. What, no tip? Don't worry, he'll just take it out of your account… oh wait. He's the banker, he's supposed to protect the money. This'll take some getting used to…
Just next door, to the east, is Grumpig's Link Shop. Need to link your moves? Not a problem! Forgot a move and you want it back? He's your man! Just a small fee of 300 Poké… hey! Power ain't cheap, you know!
South of these two is Slowking Appraisal. If ever you find a chest while exploring, and you just can't get it open, bring to Slowking and, for a small fee, he'll open it for you. What could the mystery box hold? He'll help you find out, if you so wish.
Back on the other side of the stream, near the clearing's north edge, a large pagoda building stands, walls adorned with a tasteful fire motif. This is Infernape Dojo, where one can train his body, his mind, and his soul. For true believers, the master himself will teach you martial arts.
But the town's true purpose is in the unique building at the clearing's southwest edge. This is the Electivire Guild, the third and newest addition to the region's Explorer Union. It is built into a hill. The hill was split down the middle, the two halves pushed twenty feet apart. The fissure between the two halves is 150 feet long, and it is into the faces of these rock walls that the entrances were built. On one side of the canyon, a massive, wrought-iron gate stands tall. A grate lies in the ground in front of the gate, just as one lies in front of the Wigglytuff Guild's main (and only) entrance. The gate leads into a three story facility for explorers. On the first floor, the guild's assembly hall. This is where the apprentices will come every morning to be given their duties for the day. On the second floor, the boards and recruitment center. The message board, where any recent events of significance are posted so that explorers are kept in the loop; the Job and Outlaw Boards, where explorers can take missions of all kinds, be it escort, search and retrieve, or hunt down a crook; and the Recruitment Center, where Exploration Teams can add members, for when one Pokémon isn't enough to get the job done. Then there's the third floor, which is three rooms: the Guildmaster's office, the Library, and the medical facility. The other Guilds didn't have those last two, but the Guildmaster thought that was stupid, so he'd had them put in. After all, many a life had been lost due to inadequate information, and you never know what kind of accident is lurking around the corner.
The other side of the fissure hosted the living space. Opposite the main gate stood a set of massive double doors, decorated with an outlet insignia. The doors were eight feet tall, so that the Guildmaster could comfortably enter without ducking. His chambers included three rooms on the first floor and two rooms on the second. Next to the Guildmaster's door stood two smaller, normal-sized doors, one on each side. They each opened to a hallway with three small rooms for the apprentices, and at the end of the hall, both opened up to a set of stairs to the second floor, which, aside from the Guildmaster's rooms, consisted of the dining halls and the kitchen. The third floor was where Noctowl, the Guild's Head of Intelligence, had his chambers. A door opened out into the fissure (he could fly, after all) and he had three rooms to himself. The rest of the floor acted as storage, where apprentices would keep mementos of their many adventures. The Guildmaster had already added a few of his trophies: his first explorer's badge (engraved with the words: Team Storm) and a rusty sword with an emerald blade.
The Electivire Guild would be the greatest one of them all. Circuit stood at the end of the fissure and looked up. At the peak of each half of the hill, a tree stood on each side. A sign tied to both trees hung over the fissure, saying "Electivire Guild." It had an outlet motif, just like the one on any Electivire's back.
Circuit turned to Team Triumphant and said, "Well, what do ya think?"
Blaze stared at the sign, then lowered his gaze to look at the old Pokémon. "This is what you've been doing, then?"
"Well, Kangaskhan was right. This is certainly ambitious."
Circuit raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"
"Yeah," said Forrest. "How'd you keep this all a secret?"
"Oh, you pick up a few tricks when you've lived as long as I have."
Forrest tried to seize this opportunity. "About that. How are you alive? I mean, according to history you should be-"
"But I don't intend to keep it secret much longer," Circuit said, ignoring Forrest. "Way things are goin', we'll be finished tomorrow, and I'll have messengers sent to the other Guilds. Then the Guildmasters will give this big speech in their towns, and if I know anything about curiosity, there'll be folks swarmin' to see if there really is a new town in Oran Forest."
"What's it called?" Cannon asked.
Circuit frowned. "Well, you see, that's the problem. I can't really come up with a good name. I was gonna call it Oran Village, but I think that's just lazy."
The others looked at him. Circuit's antennae sparked. "I like it. I like it! That's what we'll call it!"
This is Virtue Village. A town of hustle and bustle, of hardship and perseverance, and of justice and confidence.
This is a town… of new beginnings.