A beam of afternoon light shone through the open window of the Trainer's Graduate School, room 23B, making the desks, chairs, and educational posters gleam. Students playfully nudged each other amid an excited mumbling of voices; the last school-day of the year ended after one final lesson and grade with the teacher-cum-local gym leader. The man, Cheren, entered the room, didactic as ever. Once he did so, the hubbub died down, and the thirty-two year-old turned to address his students after placing his paperwork upon his laden desktop. He tightening his orange tie and brushed wrinkles from his white shirt and black pants.
"And now, everyone must present their reports before the class, chronologically. Fredrick, begin please." The classroom of students alternately sighed with frustration or relief as they recalled their chronological positioning of the reports, some turning to face the boy with looks ranging from bored to curious to distracted.
The student, Fredrick Haruko, -now fourteen- gathered his papers nervously, inhaling a calming breath before rising from his desk. A few steps forward, back to the chalkboard, the student turned to face the class, glancing at the teacher briefly. The black-haired man nodded, a small grin flitting over his face before his previous stoic expression reappeared. Fredrick breathed again before launching into his report.
"In the year 2068, a massive nuclear virus, now called Pokérus, broke out of a controlled laboratory in the country of America, the old name for this very region. This virus, while we know it currently does little more than improve the growth capacity of Pokémon before leaving the host, decimated most of the living things on this planet. People, creatures called animals, and plants all suffered horrendous losses on the part of this virus, contracted through body fluid exchange of any type, including the sharing of drinking water, blood exchanges, and inhalation of affected… sneeze particles. DNA immunities protected a few, though." He paused for a brief moment, blinking away emotion to continue his work, allowing a small smile as the rest of the class giggled quietly in response to the pun.
"The few people left turned to agriculture like their forebears, though taught their subsequent generations the history they could remember and find in books, which were not harmed by the virus. Using these remnants of the past, people began to rebuild and try to understand the… changes happening to the surrounding organisms." Fredrick paused to look at the teacher again, who nodded calmly.
"The plants, previously giving out fruits foreign to us, nuts, and bare seeds, began to grow the first berries of today. Some other plants mutated into Pokémon and allowed them powers based on what the plant used to be, such as cacti and our Maractus, and deciduous trees and our Deerling. Animals could not keep up with these powers and others given to non-plant Pokémon, as they were all essentially normal in type and divided, to which they died off. The animals that survived were not as well adapted as Pokémon and their numbers declined until almost none were left outside of cloned specimens in a select few zoos and laboratories.
"Using the powers of our creatures, people managed to eventually rebuild society and bring back sciences previously lost into the mainstream population," he concluded. The class clapped respectfully and Fredrick strode to his seat. Another student strode up and began describing technology. Fredrick allowed himself to think about what his classmate touched upon. This research report was a really good idea, no wonder our teacher is the gym leader, he mused.
"Thanks to scientific rediscoveries, we can now bring back fossils, capture Pokémon efficiently, and heal them effectively compared to our ancestors before the virus. Lasers and humidifiers allow the creature to reform, and scientists like the Professors, their aides, and Dream Scientist Fennel take tests on what these former fossils act like to update the Pokédex. The basic device for capturing Pokémon, the Pokéball, allows for a bond to form between them and their trainers and for journeys to happen. The Pokémon Center, thanks to current technology, allows Pokémon to get healthy very quickly, in and out of their Pokéballs, and helps out trainers along the way on their journeys through this region and others."
Fredrick blinked, wondering if that paragraph began and concluded the report. Ok, a sentence doesn't really do each of those subtopics justice. I mean, that is basically it for those, but he forgot Pcs! That's how we store Pokémon, items, mail, like everything! And Xtransceivers! The coolest thing ever, they can send video calls and connect to the internet and stuff! We even have pocket bicycles and the fastest bullet trains around!
The student returned to his seat as a few giggled. Cheren's minute grimace went unnoticed outside of Fredrick's quick glance. With a sigh, the man called for the next in order to stand up. The next boy rose to the front.
"The economy revolves around the battling of Pokémon. Everyone has at least one Pokémon, at maximum six in a party, including eggs to hatch, for protection. Everyone also carries enough money, depending on the level of the pocket monster, to be given as reward money to several people. The Pokémon Center heals free of charge and for public use due to the taxes paid by the city's residents or funds from important foundations, such as the Pokémon Elite Four and Champion foundation. Items, like those for healing, statistical improvement, and trainer aid, can be bought and sold at local shops, convenience stores, and from collectors and maniacs. Taxes from the buying and selling of these items pay for the building and maintenance of buildings and other structures in cities and towns, like bridges, and any other revenue comes from tourism for local landmarks and famous spots, like towers, ruins, and beaches.
"Depending on the specific town or city and whether it's rural or not, different jobs exist and help out the area, which is the next person's topic." Cheren's blank stare informed whoever bothered to look his way of his dwindling expectations on the depth of the remaining reports.
Fredrick stared at his desk pensively, digesting the report. Thank goodness we kids don't have to pay for Pokémon Centers, that'd cut a big hunk out of our prize money. That reminds me, am I the only one who read what Mr. Cheren wanted and used professional language in my report?
The next girl stood and nearly jogged to the front of the classroom. Turning, she began to read off her paper like the boys before her.
"Though our mobility between jobs is not set at birth, not everyone who tries to hit the top will succeed. Since not everyone goes to secondary school like us, they often have to learn how to raise Pokémon by themselves. With all the kids in our generation trying to beat the champions and gain titles, not everyone can win, and only the best of the best come out on top of the heap. Thanks to the constant demand of workers to sell items for trainers to purchase and to manage tourism attractions, luckily many people can get decent paying jobs, own a house, and raise a family with their wages if they want to. At twenty-one, people have to begin paying a percentage of their yearly income to whichever city or town they decide to settle in, sending monthly payments to the committee buildings, which I will explain a bit later. People can still travels, but their city or town keeps note, and Xtransceiver number, of their whereabouts. These notices are usually sent by carrier-flying type and family or friends.
"The different types of jobs, scientist, worker, media manager, janitor, mailperson, and others, each have a union that protect the group's rights. The unions are all overseen by a region-wide committee of elected representatives. Other members of this big committee include the Elite Four and Champion, the five strongest trainers in the region. In between the Regional Committee and the unions exists the Gym Leader committee, which consists of all the present gym leaders, in addition to the Elite Four and Champion. Gym leaders themselves kind of act as mayors for towns and cities for the most part, as they are often highly respected by the locals. Depending on the region, each of the buildings related to these committees are located in different cities, though all of the known ones are in big cities so far."
The class clapped strongly for the student's report, some beaming from the mention of the Champion, as the girl sat back at her seat. Cheren's initial grimace at the use of vernacular similarly brightened by the end of the paragraph.
Fredrick found himself slumping forward slightly at his desk, and adjusted his posture. There's more than just this one, there's like four more left. Your parents taught you better than that, he berated himself. Heh, my parents. I'm so lucky that they're both working, usually it's one parent works while the other stays at home.
"Next, please," the teacher prompted.
The other students began to chuckle as the main voice of feminism rose from her seat to read her report. Head held high, she began.
"Though a bit better than they were previously, Unovian gender roles still reside under the yoke of patriarchy." A few soft moans echoed around the classroom, but the girl remained unruffled.
"Like society before Pokérus, current day Unova possesses inequality between genders in the form of an inequality in wages, a gender bias in certain professions, and sexual harassment. Though numbers have altered toward a fractionally more gender equal playing field, some jobs, due to the bias I will discuss momentarily, still hold men as better suited to the job than women, such as those in the science and mathematical fields. Though not necessarily restricted from any one job, society still has bias against women occupying certain careers other than the ones I shall mention, and a few others. In Coordinating, females outweigh males sixty-five percent to thirty-five percent, as assumptions still stand in society that girls are 'better' at presenting their Pokémons' moves and grace on a stage. Similarly, women vastly outnumber men in preschool care-giving. Luckily, Elite Four, Champion, and gym leader positions do not take gender into account, only battling prowess. Though a bit less common than ancient magazines I researched, sexual harassment remains one of the most common stressors in work, according to women of several occupations that I interviewed. The lack of variance in an individual's ability to express their gender and preferences of which also stresses a few women out that I interviewed, but they shall remain anonymous. Thank you."
With a flourish, the girl smugly returned to her seat amid rolling eyes and a soft applause. Fredrick joined in with the applause. Reminds me of what Mom said to Dad sometimes, about stupid coworkers and how Dad joked about battling them for her. He smiled to himself at the recollection.
The next boy wandered up paperless.
"So umm, I was having printer trouble, so I'm going to try to remember my report." Fredrick tried not to stare at Cheren's forced smile, unable to imagine how that statement must have frustrated the gym leader.
"As we all know, for the first five years of a kid's life, we go to school and learn basic stuff so we can go on our journey and out of our parents house, into the world."
A soft giggle of "second five years" caused a brief din of laughter before Cheren's glare silenced them.
The boy continued. "At ten, we either decide to get a starter or to keep going to school for four more years and cover the basics in full, from egg groups to algebra and inter-regional history. Our graduation ceremony is visited by the Champion, and blessings and advice are given by the local adults as a going-off milestone. After journeying and getting money from lots of battles, some teenagers can choose to enter Trade schools and master a craft to help them in getting a higher paying job. And that's pretty much it, a Trade school for each different type of job." The boy nodded firmly, marching back to his seat while high-fiving a few classmates on his way.
The next student began her piece. "Depending of the town and region, there are many very rare Pokémon called 'legendary' for their rarity, that people often devote their lives and towns to. In some forests, people make shrines to honor spirits and rare Pokémon so they do not get angry, which would often lead to drought or natural disasters until they were sated. Legends about these legendaries exist in most cities for how to correctly protect sacred areas and these shrines from outsiders who would wish harm to them, even in this age of scientific technology. Though not every generation, recent sightings of a lot of Legendaries all but prove that these legendary Pokémon sometimes visit their sacred areas, and a few occasionally help out people in need. Because of the existence of ghost-type Pokémon, an afterlife has been proven to exist, some of them try to take people to this ghost realm so we have to be careful, and so places of rest for departed Pokémon and people are found in every region. Ancestors are honored in our region, but Unova doesn't celebrate ancestors as religious figures, only has historical people that towns tell of for years to come and often make festivals in honor of. Other regions sometimes have wars between religious sects, but usually only troublemaking gangs dabble in that. Not too many people hate on each other's religions, except criminal teams and gangs like I said, and atheism is seen as ok, character defines more people that what legendary you pray to. So... Yeah. That's my report."
Fredrick's heart began to race as the girl sat down and the importance of the day finally hit him. His eyes widened in realization. I'm graduating from school today. I'm getting my starter Pokémon tomorrow morning, when I officially begin my journey. This whole time, I've been learning history and how to care for Pokémon and how our society works so I can succeed where my parents failed. Wow.
In that moment, the boy decided to not make as many hesitant decisions, especially when on a journey that requires on-the-ball thinking to excel in battles and in any type of situation that could be met.
That night, Fredrick kissed his parents goodnight, curled up into his berry-pattered covers, and glanced at his fully packed bag. Yep, everything's packed and ready to go. I hope I'll be able to sleep, I'm so exited. I think the Champion may have looked at me during the ceremony, I'm sure she did! That's totally a good sign! He sighed, grinning to himself. Then a thought struck him.
Hmm. Was it hard for her to be a champion? I mean, her dragons are great, and so is she, but were the other heroes just as good or better? The report on gender relations resurfaced in his mind.
Wasn't Iris thought of as unfit as gym leader, years before her rise to Champion? I see how her brash attitude might have influenced other's opinions, especially since many people still assume that characteristic is for boys. That brought another tangent to Fredrick's mind.
Reminds me a bit of me, actually. How, due to my 'girly' last name and skinny body, I felt pressured into being tougher like the other boys. If it wasn't for my parents and their listening, I might have become a bully to the younger boys, that 'boy code' thing what's-her-name always talked about. I'm glad I got to hear her stuff, even at the awkward times she said it. Cheren agreed with her, even though he tried not to show it too often. Must be his wife Bianca's influence. Very soon, he's going to be one of the milestones me and my Pokémon will face. I think, no I'm sure, that I'll be ready to face him on equal footing. I know tomorrow is going to be the first day of the rest of my life, and I'm willing to hit that road and make a name for myself, make my parents proud through whatever I will accomplish out there in Unova with my Pokémon.
With that, Fredrick's nervousness and exhilaration ebbed enough for sleep to overtake him.