EDIT: Transition test has (hopefully) been added for clarification.

October 17, 2017, 5:48 PM

Vermilion City, Kanto region

"Well, gang, we're here! The Kanto region!"

A young man in his early 20s was stepping off a ship into Vermilion City, with a Pokemon at his right and left side. The sun was setting on his left side, bathing the port in a golden glow to contrast the long shadows. Brendan Namron and his partners stopped on the dock to take it all in.

It sure is something, isn't it?

"Yeah," Brendan told his Kirlia. "I'll never understand why Goldenrod doesn't get sunsets like these." He looked down to his left. "What do you think, Phoenix?"

"I wish I had a better view!" the Torchic chirped irritably.

Brendan stifled a short chuckle, and knelt down. "Alright, you can sit on my shoulder. How about you, Sk-"

But Skye had already put herself on top of the guard rail, and was swaying a little as she looked upon the golden sea.

Brendan smiled a little. "I really wish Mom could have seen this ..."

Skye looked at him. … So do I.

They were on the docks for a very short 20 minutes before the glow started to fade. They marched forth, belongings in hand, to check in to a hotel. Brendan had scheduled a reservation with Shades of Vermilion for one of their better suites; he felt proud of his ability to afford one now, thanks to the fact that cases were frequently coming to him these days. Sometimes he even got paid well!

Phoenix, meanwhile, had been begging him to take some time off for a vacation. October seemed like a reasonable choice then; it would be neither too hot nor too cold. Kanto was chosen for being the quickest and cheapest to get to, so they could put more into the actual visit.

Brendan was able to talk to a fellow named Silver about the area; Silver suggested a few good spots to try out and even helped pick out the hotel. Silver had also suggested going by boat to land in Vermilion instead of taking the Magnet Train to Saffron; the train was scheduled for service around that time due to power troubles, and the cruise, however short, would allow for a more relaxed regional transition.

n

Silver certainly got the hotel right, Brendan decided. It was cozy inside without feeling too high-class and formal, and it was clearly well-kept despite the constant stream of tourists. The room they'd picked out was particularly alluring, with plenty of walking space and a bed that was so soft that he could fall asleep just by touching it.

"Well, guys," Brendan said while finishing unpacking, "where you you want to go first tomorrow morning?"

"Do they have a burger restaurant here?" Phoenix chirped. "'Cause that would be a grea-"

Oh, come on, Phoenix! Burgers for breakfast? I would like to visit Saffron. It's a huge city just north of here. I think it'd be great for shopping!

"We'll get a chance to go shopping eventually, Skye. I'm sort of with Phoenix, though – when's the last time we went out for breakfast?"

Do we ever really need to? You know I can make some mean waffles.

"I know, Skye, but c'mon. You're bound to get tired of it sometime. And besides that, there's not much here to cook with."

… Fair enough. There's supposed to be a good spot on the north side of town.

"Aw, for the love of Groudon … why are we talking about breakfast?! It's dinner time!"

Brendan eyed his PokeGear. "7:30 already? I knew I was forgetting something."

n

The Vermilion Venue? How strangely fitting …

"Well, all the reviews I checked gave it good scores, and they serve steaks …"

In the corner of her eye, Skye saw Phoenix doing a little jig.

Brendan had ordered a t-bone plate, while Phoenix got a kid-sized sirloin. Skye ordered a salad. Not much was said during the meal until Skye piped up.

This is kinda out of the blue, but … did anyone else notice all the electric Pokemon by the houses on the way over?

"I saw a Pikachu and a Voltorb or two," said Brendan, "but I didn't think much of it. Why?"

Well, they … they're tired. All of them.

"Tired?" Brendan asked. "From what?"

They wouldn't say … It felt like their electricity is being used for something, but I couldn't quite tell what.

"Hmmm. I've heard tales of people getting their electric Pokemon to power camp houses during a blackout, but … well, there's no blackout around here. And a whole bunch of them?

My thoughts exactly. This doesn't feel right at all.

Phoenix stopped nibbling long enough to chime in. "Why don't we go up to one of them and ask, later on?"

Skye made a motion to say something, but then turned to Brendan. He hesitated for a moment, then said, "Sure, I guess. As long as it doesn't make us trespassers on anyone's property."

As Brendan watched Skye wolf down the rest of her salad, he couldn't help but hope that they weren't about to stumble upon more trouble than they'd bargained for.

n

"Why do I let you two talk me into these things?"

"Because, Phoenix, you're the one who suggests them."

"In that case," Phoenix retorted, "just ignore me next time."

Brendan and company were investigating a nearby neighborhood at the city's edge, where Skye had detected a few distressed electric Pokémon. It was eerily dark, and noticeably quiet compared to the midtown area. Houses were spaced fairly far apart, adorned with conservative hedges and a small tree here or there.

I'm remembering this, Phoenix, Skye quipped. Fair warning.

"No, seriously." Phoenix chirped. "Guys, come on, we can do this tomorrow. I want to sleep-"

La-la-la-la-la I'm not listeninnnnng~

"Shhh!" Brendan said suddenly. Then, in a whisper: "Hear that?"

Brendan had heard some rustling grass, as though something was moving through it for a moment. A sound like "cha … cha … cha …" - heavy breathing from a –

It's a Pikachu. He's really exhausted; feels like nearly all his electricity's spent.

"If we get close, we all can ask him what's wrong," Brendan suggested. "Where is he?"

Right next to that house in front of us, on the left side.

"We have to go right up to the house?" Phoenix asked. "Won't we get … caught?"

I've got an eye on some of the inside. If we get closer I can see the rest.

"Get closer? Are you out of your -"

Shhh! Someone's coming!

Brendan froze, and put his hand on Phoenix to ensure he did the same.

… False alarm. Excuse me while I go vomit …

Phoenix chirped angrily. "Don't scare me like that."

Oh, go Taunt a Poochyena – Brendan, what are you doing?

Brendan was treading towards the side of the house they'd been approaching. "Pikachu?" he whispered.

A high-pitched, somewhat exhausted voice responded from a nearby bush, which Brendan's Pokégear translated. "H-Hello? Who's there?"

"Nobody you need to be afraid of. I was wondering if I could ask a question or two."

The bushes rustled slightly. "You … understand me?"

As well as we understand each other, Skye provided as she walked near.

"... I guess I could talk a little bit. I've been itching for some company anyway ..."

"How come?" Brendan asked.

"Well – oh, here, I'll just show you."

And the yellow, mouselike electric Pokémon emerged from the bush. Attached to both red spots on his cheeks were some thick, heavy-grade wires, covered by electrical tape.

"The master keeps me stuck to these wires all day long, and asks me to send electricity through them … lots of electricity."

As in how much?

"As in enough to power this house," Brendan said. "Look up here at this meter. It's moving, but I don't see any outside power lines leading to the house."

… oh, wow. Nice work, Brendan. Skye turned to Pikachu. Does your trainer ever let you take breaks?

"Not really. He comes outside to feed me twice a day, but the only time he really lets me rest is at night after the family has gone to bed. He doesn't even bother coming outside to unhook me anymore …"

"So basically, you've been enslaved as a generator," Phoenix said dryly. "Lovely."

Brendan, this is just horrible … And it's not just this house. Seems like half the houses in the area are relying on Pokémon instead of the electric company …

"Yeah," said Pikachu. "Some of my friends are among those doing this. Some of them have considered running, but … well, we don't exactly have much luck finding food outside the city … And I don't know about them, but I'm always tired. Even if I wanted to run, I probably wouldn't get that far."

If you ask me, we should drag these "trainers" into a courtroom right now. This is ridiculous!

"Not so fast, Skye. I don't like this any more than you three, but … why are they doing this? If we don't get to the root of the problem, they might just try to enslave more -"

"Hey!" yelled a voice from somewhere. "What's going on out there, Pikachu? Trespassers?!"

Torchic squeaked in alarm. "We're caught! Finished! Good as dead!"

Not likely, you worrywart. Both of you, get ready!

"We'll be back!" Brendan whispered to Pikachu.

Skye began glowing. Teleport!

n

"I can't believe I let you talk me into this! Just wait! We'll be found out before we can even leave the region! I don't wanna spend my life in jail!"

Phoenix had begun marching around the carpet the instant the group had teleported into their room. Brendan was breathing heavily, while Skye tried to maintain composure.

Oh, for Arceus' sake, calm down, Phoenix! The last thing we need is a ruckus in the hotel. We're not gonna get caught; we're not really even in trouble.

"'Not really', she says. Pffft."

We were investigating a suspect illegal usage of Pokémon, got it? Now will you hush?

"Both of you, please! We really should've gotten a warrant or at least asked the owner. It was stupid to go sneaking around at night."

Considering what's going on, do you really think the owners would've let us have a look?

" … Well, no, I guess -"

Then it's justified. We're in the clear.

Brendan plopped himself on a bed, sighing. "In the clear or not, I'm not getting any sleep tonight. How're we going to help those Pokémon?"

We could go out and look around some more …

"Absolutely not," barked Phoenix. "I thought this was supposed to be a vacation! What happened to relaxing, being care-free while we're here?"

So you'd rather just lollygag than give a care about a bunch of unlawfully-enslaved Pokémon?

"Well, no, but -"

Then what in the world are you whining about?

"I'm tired and I'd rather sleep. I, unlike energetic know-it-alls, need it from time to time."

What an attitude! You want to lie there, that's fine with me. Come on, Brendan.

But Brendan, who had spent most of his energy at the beginning and the end of the day, had already nodded off, having not even bothered covering up or removing his luggage.

Maybe … maybe we should get some sleep.

October 17, 2017, 11:35 PM

Kanto Power Plant

"So, Dan, what was it you were saying about the Manager today? I heard you've been spreading the hatred again."

"I know good and well that you don't like him either, Tyler. He's been going nuts lately, just like our customers."

"Point taken, but … Dan, this is our job. You don't badmouth your boss while working; it only leads to trouble."

"This is trouble. We're losing customers faster than the S.S. Tidal because the boss refuses to order new equipment. Just look at this thing – it's worn out and beyond due for a replacement. We've had to repair it six times this month, already."

"Yeah, I know. Hand me that wrench, will ya? I spotted another loose bolt."

"The quarter-inch?"

"That's the one."

"Here," said Dan, peering inside the service area. "I don't see how you can stand being in there anyway. Dust and grease and Arceus-knows-what all over the place."

"Someone's gotta do it. It's either this or wait until the electrical reserves run out again. Poof, another blackout for the region."

"I know. I just … why doesn't anybody do something about this mess? Even my own wife is telling me that I need to just quit and buy a gas generator for our house."

"Hand me the five-eighths wrench, will ya? I see where your wife's coming from and all, but have you talked at all with her about ideas for this place?"

"A little. She agrees with me – the Manager needs to be put away so we can find someone who isn't so attached to an ancient machine."

"'Put away'? You make it sound so harsh."

Dan Shames said nothing. Harsh or not, it was the best solution he could come up with. He needed this work, and besides that he didn't want to see such a long-standing business collapse due to short-sighted insistence, especially if it meant mass dependency on Pokémon for power supply.

"I think that'll do it," said Tyler as he crawled out of the duct. Lend me a hand, will ya?"

Dan helped him up. "Dude, you're far too greasy. Let's get you upstairs and wash up.

"How are you boys doing down there?" came an energetic voice from about twelve feet above.

"Swimmingly," said Tyler. "She should be ready to go, boss."

"What are you out here so late for, sir?" Dan wondered aloud as he started up a metallic staircase.

"I'd heard there was another issue and wanted to check on her when you start 'er back up," the Manager said, leaning over the handrail. "Anthony wanted to see, too."

"Your son?" Tyler asked, nearing the top. "A pleasure to see you again."

Anthony, a tall 19-year-old, stepped forward to shake hands. "The pleasure's all mine – greasy hands and all."

"Heh, sorry about that. I was just going to get cleaned up."

"Well," said Anthony, "why don't we check the machine first to make sure she's working?"

Tyler shrugged. "Why not?" He walked over to a power switch, flipped up the cover, and turned it on.

The engine began to roar to life – but only briefly. Within seconds, the lights suddenly shut off, plunging the power plant into darkness, and the engine started whirring back down.

"Oh, great, our reserves are out," Tyler said. "Hang on, I'll go get a flashli-"

"Woaaaahhhhhhhh -" CLANG.

"Boss! Wasn't that you? Are you alright?"

"Someone get a flashlight!" yelled Anthony. "It sounded like he fell over!"

But as he finished the sentence, the emergency lights came on, supplying enough light to see throughout the building. Anthony and Tyler were standing exactly where they were before the lights went off. Dan, however, was standing where the Manager was, staring over the handrail down at a limp, lifeless body twelve feet below.

Tyler gasped. He started walking over to Dan, who slowly turned around. Even in the dim light, his eyes were unmistakably wide with fear.

"Dan …" Tyler breathed, aghast. "Did you push him?"