It was a long few weeks for the three of us. Jessica drilled all that she knew about Pokémon into both me and Joseph. She said she wanted to open up a school. Well, she could probably open one up right there and then. Every night, we would spend two hours at her house, where she would put us through a course of sorts. During the day, she would call us at random for a one-question quiz. Sometimes it would be to ask us the type or types of the Pokémon she'd name. Sometimes she'd just name a Pokémon and we'd have to come up with one that would do well against it. And sometimes she would just say the Pokémon type, and we'd have to say the types of Pokémon moves that would be effective against it. By the time spring was two weeks away, the three of were already talking about the team of Pokémon we'd like to have on our journey. Well, Jessica and I were talking excitedly about it. Joseph did so reluctantly. Meanwhile, Office Jenny made an appointment for us to go register as trainers in Accumula Town.
On the morning of that day, I was woken up by my mother. I groaned as I sat up from my bed. Almost automatically, I reached over for my glasses on the night stand and put them on my head. Blinking a few times, I eyed the clock.
I looked back at my mom, who looked back at me with her green eyes.
"You got a call from Officer Jenny," she said. "She says come over with your camera." She gave me a slight smile before she walked out of my room. I eyed her as she did so before sighing.
I knew she was taking this hard, me leaving to go on this yearlong journey. Ever since my dad died some years back, she became rather overprotective of me. So much so that when she first met Joseph, she was rather suspicious of him (and little did she know, she almost right in doing so). Of course, her being her, she was supportive of me. But I knew she would rather me stay.
Deciding to push those thoughts away for the time being, I went about getting ready. After taking a shower and putting on a pair of jeans, a black t-shirt, and a green button up, I got my camera ready, making sure that a fully charged battery was put into it. With that done, I grabbed my clipper and put into my backpack before I headed over to Officer Jenny's house.
It was a rather short walk, not even a minute. Once I was there, I knocked on the door and waited patiently. The first thing I heard was Officer Jenny's Herdier coming running towards the front of the house. I turned my head to the left, just in time to see it poke its head out from behind the curtain. It eyed me for a moment before its head disappeared again. I figured it was going after his master, because a minute later, Officer Jenny opened the door. Clad in a white t-shirt and gray sweatpants, and having a mug in her hand (which I assumed was holding coffee), she gave me a smile.
"Come in," she said. "And have your camera on. If you're going to try and make a movie out this journey, you're going to want to record this." Nodding, I raised the camera and turned it on as I stepped into the house. After Jenny closed the door, I unfolded the viewfinder, focused the camera on her, and hit record. Jenny smiled at me before she made her way over to the stairs. After a few moments, I followed her, keeping the camera on her as we made our way to the second floor. Her Herdier, which was sitting next to the staircase, followed us up. It didn't take long until we were at Joseph's door. She opened the door before she looked down at her canine partner.
"You know what to do," she said.
With a happy bark, the Herdier ran in. I followed it as I ran up on Joseph. It jumped on his bed and began licking his face. From behind the camera, I smiled as Joseph groaned his way back into the world of the awake.
"Ah, dang it, dog!" Joseph said as he sat up. He gently pushed the dog away as he sat up. The Herdier jumped back down on the floor before it turned towards Joseph. I kept the camera focused on him as he sat up and turned until his feet hit the floor. He rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands before he slowly lowered them. He looked at Jenny, then at me. He then looked back at the clock. And then he looked back at us.
"…Guys, I know today's a very important day and all," he began."…but I'm not supposed to be waking up until about one hour from now."
"I couldn't wait," Jenny said. She walked into the frame of the shot, reaching into her pocket as she did so. She pulled out a box cutter before she kneeled down at Joseph's feet. I moved around her, wanting to get a view of what was happening. Once I got a good view, I saw her extend her free hand and grab the ankle monitor. With all the gentleness she could muster, she carefully cut the band of the monitor before pulling it away from his ankle. I focused in on his ankle for a bit before I raised the lens up until it landed on his face.
The look on his face was priceless. Joseph wasn't exactly the most happy or joyous person. He even told Jessica and I that, us included, there were very few people he actually cared out. But the way he looked right there and then… I wondered if that was the look Prometheus had on when Heracles released him from the rock that Zeus chained him to.
I zoomed out, just enough to get both of them into the shot.
"Joseph," Jenny said slowly. He looked up at her, still having the same look on his face. No doubt she was his Heracles. "I have to admit, a lot of people thought I was crazy to volunteer to be the one to take you in. And, during your first few weeks here, I started to believe them. However, you came a long way from the gangster you used to be." As she said this, she was smiling slightly. That smile faded. "With that said, I have to warn you – you're not out of the woods yet. You're still considered on parole. As such, you'll be on a tight leash. What you do not only reflect on the effectiveness of the Unova Trainer Release program, it also reflects on Professor Juniper, on Jessica and David, and it reflects on me… not just as an officer. You managed to keep your nose clean during your time in Nuvema. I would urge you to keep it that way."
"You know I will," Joseph said, almost as if it was a given. Officer Jenny smiled again.
"Good," she said. "I don't want you to think about that, though. I just want you to go out there do your best. Just by doing that, I know you'll do me proud."
"Thanks Aunty J," he said quietly. But then a look determination came on his face. "But I ain't goin' on this journey just to do my best. When I come back here, I'm coming back as the champ. You can bank on it." He then smiled.
At the time, it was the happiest I ever saw him.
Officer Jenny smiled back at him. That smile was cut short when we heard a voice.
"Joseph? Officer Jenny? Are you guys here?"
Before any of them could answer, Jessica came walking in through the door. We all turned to face her. Herdier gave Jessica the dirtiest look – it wasn't too keen on people just sneaking through the house.
"Sorry guys, but your door was open," she said as she looked around. "I just wanted to make sure that everything was o…" She stopped when she looked at the monitor in Officer Jenny's hand. "Um… Officer Jenny… what's that in your hand." Jenny chuckled sheepishly as she gave the device a look-over.
"This thing?" she said. "Well… you see…"
"It's an ankle monitor," Joseph said calmly. I turned the camera towards him. He kept a straight face. For a moment, I thought he was finally going to confess to her. That thought was quickly dashed. "Aunty J just took someone off of house arrest and forgot to throw it away." I had to resist the urge to roll my eyes. Though, to be fair, he really wasn't lying. Not really, anyway.
"Oh…" Jessica said. She then smiled. "Well, I'm glad everyone is okay. Everyone IS okay, right?"
"Never better," I said, forcing myself to smile. "I just… wanted to get an early start and give him his haircut."
And we did just that. After that, we all had a quick breakfast before we all got in Jenny's jeep. I took the backseat with Joseph, whose hair was now short enough to make his scalp visible. Meanwhile, Jessica rode shotgun. I still kept my camera running. As we pulled out of the driveway, Jessica decided to turn on the radio. She turned the dial until she finally landed on a station. A song was at its end before someone spoke.
"Good morning ladies and gentlemen," a somewhat deep voice said. "This is Ryan Kasem, your morning host of Unova League Radio, the official radio station of The Unova Pokémon League. It's a beautiful day as temperatures are start to warm up since spring is approaching. As I speak, many people are on their way to designated Trainer Registration Areas to register in time for the start of the informal Trainer Season. Having been a competitive trainer during my younger days, I can tell you that it's quite the experience. So, to all the new trainers waiting to embark on their journey, just remember that when you do embark on that journey, take time to have fun. Now here's some music for the new age of trainers – Radioactive by Imagine Dragons."
As the song began to play, Joseph turned his head towards me.
"Are you going to go after the badges as well?" he asked. I furrowed up my eyebrows for a bit.
"Um… Should I?" I asked.
"I don't see why not?" Jessica said as she turned in her seat. "You're getting a starting Pokémon as well. With all of the teaching you went through with Joseph, you might as well." She then smirked. "After all, someone needs to make sure Joseph doesn't fall flat on his face."
"I hope you get crapped on by a Pidove," Joseph said with a grumble as he looked out of the window.
"The same way you got crapped on by that flock of Woobat?"
Joseph turned his head towards Jessica and glared at her, much to her amusement. She smiled back at Joseph before turning to the front. Next to her, Jenny smothered a giggle as she continued to drive.
It wasn't a long drive. By the time the song ended, we were already in Accumula Town. There was a line outside a white building there, but not too long. I didn't know if it was because there wasn't a lot of trainers from the local area, or if we were early. So, the four of us waited in line. As we did, I heard the many conversations that went on around me. Some people spoke about the Pokémon they wanted to start with. Other people talked about what they were going to when they become champion, with answers varying from riches to having a holiday named in their honor. I had the camera rolling during this. Eventually, the lens landed on Jessica and Joseph.
"A lot of people have high hopes," Jessica said. This only made Joseph scoff.
"Sucks to be them," he said in flat tone. "That championship is mine."
"Aren't you being a bit callous?"
At that, Joseph shrugged his shoulders. I couldn't help but sigh.
Eventually, the line moved along. Once inside, the line was split into three lines that lead into different rooms, divided by letter range. Because of that, the four of us was split up, with Joseph and Jenny sticking together due to the Joseph having to register as a Probationary Trainer. I was glad, for Joseph, that Jenny was dressed in her officer uniform. I could only imagine the looks he would have gotten.
After I put the camera away in my bag, I went through a relatively long wait period until I was told to come into the room. Said room looked like a typical office one would go to if they had a job interview. The apparent interviewer sat behind a black metal desk. The walls inside were white, and covered with framed pictures of past champions. My eyes landed on the picture of May. I couldn't help but have a sour taste in my mouth. It wasn't because of her. It just reminded me what happened to my dad on that fateful day. Internally, I sighed.
The lady behind the desk, who seemed to be in her mid-30s, was dressed in a white button up shirt and a tie. In her hands were a form and a pen.
"Would you kindly fill this form out?"
Nodding, I took the form and pen and began filling out the former with the latter. It didn't take too long. It just asked for my name, date or birth, and the like. It was all pretty basic. Once I was done, I pushed the form to the interviewer, who took it with a smile.
"Thank you. Now, I have to ask you a few questions…" She paused as she looked down at the form. She then looked up. "…Mr. Platina. What are your goals in life?"
"I want to become the best moviemaker ever to grace Pokéstar Studios," I answered. At that, she raised an eyebrow.
"Well, while that is a commendable goal, I have to ask, how would going on this journey help with that?" It was a good question, I suppose. I haven't heard of many people in Pokéstar making their mark after becoming a competitive trainer. But then again...
"I figured going on the journey with two friends of mine and making a documentary out of it would be a good way to start." I smiled. "They have a very interesting story to be told."
"Interesting. Will you be going after the badges as well?"
"I think I will," I said.
"Okay, we're done here." She brought her hand out towards me. I took her hand and gave it a shake. After the handshake, she picked up the form I filled out and handed it to me. "Take this form with you to the processing room. There, your photo will be taken and your Trainer ID will be made. Good luck."
"Thank you," I said as I stood up. I was surprised that it didn't last longer, but I didn't complain. I made my way out of the room. I stood out in the main lobby. After a moment, I pulled out my camera and decided to record everything that was going around me. Eventually, I heard Jessica call out to me. I turned the camera to see my friend waving at me, standing outside the license processing room, form in hand. I smiled as I made my way over to her.
"I wonder what's taking Joseph so long," Jessica said with a frown. "You would think he had some kind of criminal background or something, with how long his interview is going."
"Who knows?" I said with a smile.
Eventually, Joseph did come out. He had a small frown on his face. I turned the camera towards him. He gave the lens a knowing glare as he approached us.
"What took you so long?" Jessica asked.
"Nothing major," Joseph replied in an annoyed tone. "Let's just get our IDs done and get out of here."
He walked past us into the license processing room. Without a word, we followed him in. We were both used to him being like this.
The line in the place was a bit longer than expected, but it went by rather quickly. Each person had to sit on a stool that was in front of a propped up white background. Once the picture was taken, the form is turned in, the information is typed into the computer, and voila! You had your trainer ID, showing that were now an official Unova League trainer.
Once we were out, we were comparing IDs on the drive back home. As expected, Jessica and I looked happy to be there, smiling in our pictures. Joseph, on the other hand, was looking as if he was taking a mug shot. His eyebrows were furrowed up and his eyes were staring back at us as if he was trying to tell us to back off.
"You're going to make a lot of friends on this journey," Jessica dryly remarked as she sat in the back seat with Joseph.
"It's not like I'm trying to make a dating profile," he replied as he put away his card. "Besides, I got you guys. I don't need new friends."
"I'll keep that in mind, Drake," I quipped.
Joseph scoffed as we pulled out of the parking lot. We stayed mostly quiet during the ride back to Nuvema. Once we were back in town, Jessica went home, saying that she would see us later on, and Officer Jenny went to work. With Joseph having a day off from work, we decided to grab some Coke, hang out in his room, and shoot the breeze. As I sat on his bed, he told me about his application process.
"It was that bad?" I said, after taking a sip of my can of Coke.
"Yeah, it was that bad," Joseph answered. "It was a good thing Aunty J was there. You got the light work. They were asking me everything. They asked if I committed a crime as of lately, if I had any sexual contact with a prostitute, when was the last time I did drugs…"
"To be fair, that last question is kind of valid." I shifted my weight a bit. "I mean, you were a part of the drug trade, after all."
"I never touched the stuff," Joseph said as he took a seat next to me. "Most of us didn't. You never get high of your own supply, after all. It's pretty much one of the unspoken rules of the drug trade. For goodness sake, it feels like I was being interviewed by a General Manager of a gridiron football team."
"I see," I replied. I didn't know what he meant by that, really, but I decided to just bring this conversation to a higher note. "But hey, you have your card now. Now you're ready to make a run at the champion. And I'll have my reward winning movie."
"If you say so," Joseph said. "I'm surprised your mom hasn't tried to stop you, with her being all… you know."
"She's not exactly happy about it," I said with a shrug.
"Because of your dad?" he asked. I nodded. "Um… I know I asked this before, and I know it was a touchy subject then but um… What happened to him?"
"Ever heard of Team Magma and Team Aqua?"
"Heck yes!" Joseph replied, voice dripping with venom. I was given pause. Did he have history with them before? I wanted to ask, but decided to continue instead.
"Well, as you probably already know, during one season of The Hoenn Pokémon League, Team Aqua and Team Magma were pretty much at war with each other. One team wanted to transform the world so there was more land, and the other wanted to transform the world so it was mostly sea. So… stupid them… they summoned Kyogre and Groudon, thinking they can control them. Of course, you know how that went."
Specifically, Groudon and Kyogre went at it in a fight that was pretty much heard, scene, or felt from all around the world.
"Well, at the time, my dad was working for the Beyond Gas Energy Corporation. So, for a job meeting, he was sent to Sootopolis City. So, he was there when both Groudon and Kyogre started their fight. Fortunately, the girl who would become the Hoenn Champion, May, was able to awaken Rayquaza, who calmed them down. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to find the Pokémon in time to stop them from destroying a few of the ships that were filled with people trying to escape." I pressed my lips together. We both stay silent for a few moments.
"People are stupid," Joseph said.
"Yeah, well, I'm just glad no one in this region was stupid enough to do something like this." I sighed as I sat up. "But let's get off that. I think I figured out which Pokémon I want to start off with. I think I want to start with Snivy." At that, Joseph scoffed. "What?"
"You mean Smugleaf?" Joseph replied. He shook his head as he stood up. "That thing looks like it wants to be punched in the face."
"It's merely confident," I said. "But, I do like what it can do." I then tilted my head. "What about you?"
"I don't know," he said. "I was going to read up on them tomorrow. But, even if I wanted to, I can't choose Snivy now." I smiled when he said that. He smiled back briefly before continuing. "Though, when I was younger… before I joined Team Rocket… I always wanted to have a Charizard. Just something about Fire Pokémon seemed awesome to me. So… maybe I'll go with Tepig."
"Seems as good as choice of any," I said.
"So, does this mean you're going for the badges?" he asked.
"I think I will," I said. I then chuckled. "And, who knows? Maybe I'll open up a gym in Pokéstar Studios."
"It wouldn't be the weirdest gym," Joseph said with a tilt of his head.
After a while, I made my way home. I looked up at the sky, watching a flock of Woobat fly through the night sky. I frowned a bit, not realizing how long I had been over there. I made my short walk home and entered it. As I put my keys into my pocket, something just told me to go upstairs and check up on my mom. So, I made my way up the stairs and approached her room. I opened it up slowly, only to see her sleeping. I was about to close the door when I saw her cell phone light up. Against my better judgment, I treaded quietly as I approached her night stand. I picked it up noticed that it was a message from my Grandmother Agatha. I clicked the message open and read it. I then scrolled through the whole message thread between her and my mom.
After reading through it, I placed the cell phone down and walked out slowly, closing the door behind me quietly. My mom was venting to my grandmother about me leaving to go with Jessica and Joseph. I knew for a while that my mom would be against me leaving home ever since what happened to my dad. The whole thread just confirmed it. I couldn't help but feel bad. On one hand, I couldn't really blame her – not after what happened to my dad. But on the other hand, I knew I was going to be leaving Nuvema at some point. Some people were content with living here their whole life. Not me, though. I wanted to be one of the best moviemakers at Pokéstar Studios, something I cannot do while staying here. I just didn't see a way how.
"I hope you understand," I muttered to myself as I entered my room.