"The Revolution is like Marowak: it devours its own children."
There is little in Unova today which recalls that chaotic time nearly a century before N revived the great dragon. Travelers often note that pokemarts are in pokemon centers in Unova, unlike the rest of the pokemon world, because they are both run by the state. Team Plasma takes its name and inspiration from a radical organization of that era, but they differ a great deal in ideology; freeing the Pokemon was only incidental to the original Plasma's goal of freeing Man. Technical machines are now reusable, an invention of the revolution to combat the monopoly of the TM companies and the fact that only great trainers could afford them. And yet the regime has liberalized so much that an enormous shopping mall stands on Route Nine, complete with private enterprise.
Gone is the hunger and subjugation which drove many revolutionaries to seek only revenge through bloodshed. Gone are the Durant guillotines, the endless purges and infighting at the top – and at the bottom, for there were still those who believed in the old ways. But also gone are the clashing ideals and dreams, and the hope of a better tomorrow.
But before we discuss the revolution's end, we must examine its beginning. It all started with a Braviary and its trainer.
Historians have remarked that revolutions are not born of broken spirits, but of rising hopes which regimes try in vain to snuff out, and so it was the case with Unova. The elderly President Nicholas (in reality a dictator who held sham elections) had sent massive armies to Orre in a war started on by his own megalomania and launched a massive propaganda campaign about the land and resources there; how it'd ease population pressures, make housing cheaper, how the raw materials of empire would increase profits, allowing the factories to raise wages and ease the enormous pressure on the working class.
Nicholas won. He would have been far better off losing. The reason he was able to win so easily was precisely because Orre was not a bountiful Eden, but a useless group of oases in between long miles of desert. When it became clear to him how badly he had been informed about Orre's geography (though to be sure, he had exaggerated it some as well) Nicholas was horrified. He tried to ease pressures on the home front; if people were paid better, he could take credit for victory, but the business elites refused to give even an inch, and he feared that they would back a military coup if he forced them to do so. Most permits to migrate to Orre had been "delayed" – he blamed the enormous demand – but he had to let a few through, just so he wouldn't be caught in the lie. He made a sincere effort to set people up with decent homes and enough food in the good parts of Orre – stuff that'd make them write home with things other than "its all a lie!" - but the people moving there were expecting paradise, and usually had to pay a large amount of money in bribes to be approved to begin with. And there were always some abuses, some people slipping through the cracks, ignored by corrupt officials and forced to work for low pay. Orre's climate was scorching in the daytime, its pokemon different than Unova's, its wild pokemon rare, and pokemon were harder to feed than humans.
And so Bird Keeper Paul, fallen on harder times in Orre than in Castelia and wracked by desperation, made that fateful decision to take his Braviary and fly home while his pokemon still had enough energy to make the journey.
The Castelia City which Paul and his Braviary returned to was a place where it was said that the only difference between most people and pokemon is that the pokemon slept in pokeballs. It was not technically slavery, but that was the nicest thing which could be said about the economic system in use there. Indeed, slave owners had once pointed to Castelia as a defense of their own system; at least slave owners had responsibility to their slaves, but employees were replaceable. The pay was poor, and many but not all workers were in practice debt slaves, although they could not be bought and sold. Hours were long, accidents common, and although a few through luck or genius managed to escape into the upper class, most stayed in Castelia's giant factories their whole lives, doing the same monotonous labor every day. Although workers were free to work for someone else, it was little freedom, for rabble-rousers were blacklisted and pay just about as bad everywhere; it was no accident that so many had saved up what little cash they had (often from delaying debt payments) and bribed their way to Orre.
The Pokemon Centers were just one of the ways which the aristocrats and bourgeois kept control over the rest of the population. Running the center was not free; it did require maintenance, trained staff, and a functioning healing machine. The prices charged to heal pokemon, however, were not even remotely based on these costs; they were intentionally exorbitant in order to make pokemon training expensive, lest the common people gain strong pokemon and rebel. This did not stop Pokemon trainers - there was a booming black market for potions and ethers – but it did mean that the elites had more pokemon per trainer, and stronger ones as well. It also meant that their pokemon lasted longer, for severe injuries were far less likely to become fatal.
Bird Keeper Paul could not afford a pokemon center. Not in the sense that he'd have to cut back on food or shelter in order to pay it off; he would have sold anything he had, but he had already lost it to go to Orre. But as his exhausted Braviary half-dove, half-fell out of the sky and onto the Skyarrow Bridge, it was clear that he desperately needed one. The Braviary had been too weak to hunt on the day-long journey across the continent, and had not eaten for days back in Orre, either. The only food it had eaten recently was a baby Patrat which Paul had pawned his Braviary's pokeball to afford; without it, she would have collapsed in the wilderness, and her unarmed trainer would have to live by hunting or die trying.
So Paul, his unconscious Braviary carried like an extremely heavy Pidove, walked slowly across the Skyarrow Bridge, gathering onlookers with every step. Braviary were the national symbol of Unova, but they were not remotely a common pokemon, and a starved bird and a trainer falling out of the sky would have attracted attention even if it were a Swanna. "What happened?" a loud voice asked from the crowd, voicing the thoughts of them all.
The crowd then turned into a protest march, for Bird Keeper Paul took a deep, heavy breath and answered "Orre."
Unlike Bird Keeper Paul, whose story was told far and wide, or President Nicholas, who kept extensive memoirs, there is not much information at all about the thoughts of Doctor Frank on this fateful day; his family and the revolutionaries tell dramatically different stories. It is agreed that he began his career in medicine and became wealthy that way, but the revolutionaries tell a tale of an idealistic man corrupted by greed, while his family speaks of someone who tried to work within the system to save as many lives as possible.
What is undisputed is that when Bird Keeper Paul walked into the center, he asked Doctor Frank to heal his pokemon. The following conversation was recorded by a witness, a young Pokemon Center nurse by the name of Joy, although later events have thrown some doubt on her reliability:
"I swear I'll pay you back someday," Paul said.
"They all say that," Doctor Frank answered.
"I'll sell myself into indenture to you!"
"And what good would that do me? We have enough staff."
"Would I be able to raise a Braviary if I couldn't afford to pay for it?"
"If you could, your Braviary would never have been in this condition."
At this point, all agree, Paul walked out of the pokemon center, cradling his Braviary and staring off into the distance as though his will to live had just vanished. While he did, Doctor Frank placed an emergency phone call whose contents remain unknown, apart from the snippets "extra beds... a ton of beds... there are going to be a lot of pokemon who need help." According to the revolutionaries, he was calling in the military to crush the protests. According to his family and a few sympathetic historians, he believed that a pandemic had begun which his center was in no condition to treat, and was calling for a quarantine and emergency aid.
And then an angry and galvanized mob sent out a massive horde of pokemon. The battle was a short one; the Pokemon Center was guarded by nothing more than a few Blissey, who were no match for the physical attackers present on the scene. The center was stormed without a fight, Paul pointed to Doctor Frank, and he was killed by a razor leaf to the neck before he could release a single pokemon. The young Nurse Joy, either from terror at the mob or disgust at her boss's refusal, began to treat the Braviary.
It was a wonderful victory, and the crowd began to disperse, but many hung around, either from concern for the Braviary, ignorance of what was to come, or that mix of pride and anger which leads people into battle. And then the police force arrived.
According to police records, they were indeed called to enforce a quarantine, and events got out of hand. Many have argued over whether the records were altered, but perhaps they did not need to be. In the Unova in this era, after all, justice belonged to the wealthy. The police were recruited from the rich, contemptuous of the poor, and believed in a theory of "shoot first, ask questions later". Besides, a crime had obviously been committed – a doctor was dead and a vast crowd gathered in the Pokemon Center, none of whom could afford treatment there.
The crowd was ordered outside by a police microphone. Riveted by grief, Bird Keeper Paul refused, and every one of them followed his lead. His memoirs claim that he was not thinking clearly at this time and exhaustion led to defiance, but most historians believe his actions were designed to provoke a hostage situation through which the crowd could negotiate an escape; the pokemon in the center at the time were by definition the pokemon of those who could afford it. The police were taking no hostages.
The police brought four pokemon between them; a Throh, a Sawk, a Conkeldurr, and an Excadrill, all very large and very powerful. They were few in number, but this seldom hurt them in confronting angry mobs before; their typing save for the Excadrill was identical, but psychics were rare, birds could face a Stone Edge, and the most common pokemon in Unova among the poor were normal-types and Purrloin, which were weak to dark attacks.
What distinguished this battle from an ordinary walkover was not the presence of Paul's Braviary, still quite injured when they broke in, nor the presence of the mob, which were little better in combat than punches from their own trainers, but the presence of two other trainers with strong pokemon: an old Veteran named George with a Golurk, who had organized them tactically, and a Bug Catcher in his twenties named Joe with a Durant. Many other trainers in later years, some of them major historical figures, would later claim to have been at this battle, and it is even plausible in some instances; pokemon, after all, do gain experience points. These trainers are mentioned for their presence is unambiguous and they were by far the best fighters.
When the four giants barged down the door, birds (mostly Pidove) gusted away in unison, the larger ones using stronger physical techniques like wing attack or Fly. The ground of the Pokemon Center was disrupted Durant burrowing under the ground, and Golurk standing in front of the door, waiting to punch back, while Patrat, Purrloin, and Blitzle groups swarmed the giant pokemon with annoyance techniques. Durant dug under the Excadrill, earthquakes and Woobat Sonicbooms shattered windows and equipment. A semi-organized battle turned into a chaotic mess, the floor of the pokemon center was stained with blood: at least the winners who survived would not have to be healed! After a half hour's fighting, it became apparent that they were fighting on behalf of Paul and his injured Braviary, and a bruised Conkeldurr launched a Stone Edge its way.
Paul's Braviary, with its last breath, dove into the Conkeldurr with a Brave Bird and became the first martyr of the revolution. The shocked police recalled their pokemon and retreated: they were going to need a lot of backup, especially considering the fact that their enemies could heal after every fight.
Most of the crowd who had gone home filtered back in upon news of the victory, along with an assortment of people from across Castelia. Many trainers followed, spurred on by a rumor spread by Bug Catcher Joe of a free pokemon center: the rumor soon became reality, for who in the crowd could deny to others what they had fought to win Paul and his murdered, beloved pokemon?
Within hours the People's Center was born, and no sooner was it announced then was it besieged. President Nicholas may have been willing to let rioters kill a doctor, especially if important people like Veteran George were on their side. What he could not do was allow the working class to heal their pokemon – at least, not unless he wanted to face a revolution.
It was this decision which would cost him his head.