Kyla looked out through the bars of her cell’s window and saw that the sun was rising over the nearby hilltops. She had no choice in her viewing location, since she had been in the same prison cell for the last year.
One thing to note about Kyla’s name is that she was originally supposed to be named Tara. For the majority of my planning this story, the protagonist was to be named Tara. Only when I remembered that the author of the infamous Fan Fic My Immortal called herself Tara did I change my protagonist’s name.
A voice called out, “This should be the last day you will look at the sunrise from that window, Kyla.” When Kyla turned to face the speaker, she saw her cellmate, Alana, getting up and out of bed and walking over. The two Riolu stood next to each other, both looking out the window.
To continue from my last point, I only changed my Protagonist’s name from Tara to Kyla just before I started writing the first chapter of this story. When I was writing this first chapter, I had to make sure to remember the name change.
“Well,” Kyla said, starting to smile, “You can be sure that I have no plans to come back here.”
Alana nodded and, pointing at the metal ring around her neck, responded, “This will finally come off and we will be free. What are you planning to do after your release? As for me, I’m not really sure.”
Kyla looked over at Alana, taking her gaze off the sunrise, and said, “I am going to go straight for one thing. Like I said, I do not want to end up back here. We were just lucky that we were only junior members in Monferno’s gang; she may never get out of here, but we have a second chance.”
Alana nodded, saying, “I think I will head to the outpost near the mountains. I know it’s risky, but I hear that there is good work there for those who are willing to take it.”
Kyla thought for a second and then replied, “I am going south to Polumbos Town. I just want to stay away from trouble from now on. I plan to get a job there and just live a normal life.”
If only Kyla had known what was going to happen to her in the following months…
As Alana was about to respond to Kyla’s plan, they saw a trio of familiar figures approaching their cell door. A Weavile, who the pair knew was named Akira, backed by a pair of Sneasel, came to stand at the barred entrance. Akira took a key out of a pouch and unlocked the door, after that she and the two Sneasel stepped into the cell.
Originally, Akira was referred to simply as Weavile. After getting a good number of chapters in, I came up with a name for her and retroactively applied to earlier chapters before official editing had really started.
“Alright ladies,” Akira said, “It’s your release day, follow us and we will process you and remove your inhibitor collars.”
I came up with the concept of the Power Inhibitors to allow characters in my ROC stories to be rendered unable to use their moves. Thereby allowing their captors to contain them without having to contend with their prisoners’ powerful attacks.
Kyla’s heart soared as she and Alana were escorted out of the cell. She thought to herself, “Finally, I can have a chance to put the past behind me.”
I wanted to make it pretty clear from early on that Kyla was not a vicious criminal. She always regretted entering that lifestyle in the first place.
Kyla and Alana were escorted down a flight of stairs and past a row of cells to the front of the ancient warehouse that served as the region’s prison. They were taken to a side room next to a double door that led outside the building. “Continue your regular patrol,” Akira told her younger brothers. The two of them saluted her and headed off to do as they were told.
Akira then pointed to a side room and Alana and Kyla walked in. The room contained one large old table at the center with a candle. There were two rusty chairs on one side, in which the two prisoners sat down.
The window only illuminated part of the room, but Alana and Kyla could see a large shadow across the table from them. The figure stepped in to the light revealing himself as a Mamoswine. “Hello Sheriff” Kyla said nervously; she had not seen the sheriff of the alliance territory since her initial arrest and neither had Alana.
Mamoswine, speaking in his deep, rumbling voice, said, “Well you two, I hope you realize what is expected of you. You both have only spent a year in prison for your criminal activity since my deputies arrested you, and you are both young and have the potential for full lives ahead of you.” He paused, to let what he was saying sink in, and then continued. “I would hope that I never have to see either or both of you young ladies brought back here, because repeat offences force me to give longer sentences. Now, I am going to have my head-deputy unlock your inhibitors and give you a stipend to give you both a head start until you can find LEGAL jobs. Do we have an understanding?”
Later on, Mamoswine starts being referred to by his actual name, Theodore. I did not have that idea until later on, so I worked that into the story without going back mentioning his name earlier, like I did for Akira.
Both of the prisoners nodded respectfully and soundly responded, “Yes, Sheriff.”
Mamoswine nodded and smiled faintly, saying, “In that case, you may report to Akira for processing.” The two of them then left their chairs and returned to Akira.
Nearby the front gate of the prison, Kyla waited as Akira unlocked Alana’s collar first. After it had been removed, she eagerly walked over to Akira as Alana began to rub her neck carefully. Akira took one of her many keys and inserted it into the collar around Kyla’s neck. As it fell away, Kyla felt a surge of energy build up in her body and could not help herself but jump for joy, thinking, “That thing had been on me for too long.”
Presumably, prisoners could not be let out of their inhibitors for long, if at all. The security risk would be too great for their guards.
Akira handed small pouches to both Alana and Kyla, saying sternly, “Enjoy your freedom, and for Arceus’s sake stay out of trouble. There are 500 Poke for each of you in there, in various denominations. Use that until you can find a good source of EARNED income.”
Alana nodded respectfully after taking her money and headed for the door. However, Kyla, after taking her pouch, said, “Thank you ma’am. I intend to use this wisely.”
Akira could not help but smile as she extended her claw to shake Kyla’s hand. “Be careful and stick to the roads, kid. Good luck out there.” she said, as Kyla turned away to follow Alana out.
Since Akira and Kyla ended up as friends later, it seems appropriate to have planted some seeds of that here.
Alana and Kyla were soon standing at the three-way crossroads nearby the warehouse-turned-prison. Alana looked over at her former cellmate and smiled, saying, “Good luck with everything Kyla. Hopefully we will see each other again under better circumstances.”
The two of them embraced briefly. Then, Kyla said, “Are you sure you want to head north alone?”
Alana nodded yes, as she began walking north, and then turned around, saying, “I will stick to the road. Normally, the wild Pokémon are smart enough to avoid hunting or setting up territory on it, so I should be fine. Good luck, once again.” As Kyla waved at her friend’s retreating figure she saw a small group of Pokémon approaching from the south on the road.
I wonder how many readers thought that Alana would be a major character in the story before this scene?
Kyla squinted as the sun, now higher in the sky, got in her eyes; she raised her hand over her eyes in order to get a better view of the travelers. Upon focusing her eyes properly, she saw that there were six of them; however, only four of them were walking. Among the four walking Pokémon there were a Totodile and a Fennekin leading the way, with a Bulbasaur and an Axew behind them. The Axew was, despite his size, carrying an Elekid over his shoulder. The Bulbasaur was dragging another using extended vines. As the group drew closer it became clear that the two Elekid were both unconscious. Kyla stepped off the road allowing the group to pass her, they seemed too focused to notice her, and head to the front door of the prison. Upon closer examination, Kyla saw that both the Elekid were wearing inhibitor cuffs. Inhibitor cuffs were similar to the inhibitors collars that she and Alana had been wearing up until recently, in the sense that they were able to suppress a Pokémon’s ability to use moves, as well as the ability of some Ghost-Type Pokémon to move through walls and other objects. They were also used as connected bindings for wrists or ankles. Another thing of note was that all four of the captor Pokémon had brass colored badges on their chests, except for the Bulbasaur, who had his on the front on his bulb. The Totodile was also carrying a small metallic box with a handle on it. They group passed by Kyla without paying much attention to her and Kyla kept her distance, trying to figure out what was going on.
Here, I introduce the first team from Polumbos Town. I’ll admit to a bit of an information-dump in the preceding paragraph.
The group arrived at the front gate of the prison. Akira opened the door and had a conversation with the group of Pokémon. Kyla could not hear exactly what they were saying and still kept her distance. Once the four Pokémon had finished talking to Akira, one of the Sneasel brothers appeared and handed the captor Pokémon each a small pouch like the one that Kyla and Alana had received. Then, the two deputies dragged the two Elekid inside the prison and the door was closed. Kyla was standing at the crossroads as the Four Pokémon group started heading her way again. Kyla thought, “Whoever these guys are they seem to know Akira. If they are headed to Polumbos Town, I wonder if they would let me tag along? I would rather not take the road alone, in case of outlaws or wild Pokémon. Some company would be nice, anyway.”
Deciding that she had nothing to lose, Kyla waited until they were close to her and then politely asked, “Excuse me folks, are you headed or Polumbos town? I was planning on heading there myself, and I would appreciate the company.” The group of four stopped and all of them looked inquisitively over at Kyla.
The Bulbasaur spoke first, “That would be fine miss. But first, would you mind telling us who you are?”
Kyla froze up, thinking, “I guess I should be honest with them. Hopefully they will still let me tag along if I explain that I have done my time.” Kyla then cleared her throat and spoke as calmly as she could, “My name is Kyla and, to be honest, I have just been released from the institution behind you, I was hoping to head over to Polumbos Town to try to get a steady job.”
Just as the Bulbasaur was about to responded the Axew chimed in, “Sorry miss, but I do not think we should be traveling, even for a short trip, with a criminal. We could not trust you.”
And now we see the beginnings of a feud that plays a critical part in the early story.
Kyla’s heart sank and she lowered her head. As she was about to apologize for even bringing the idea up, the Totodile gave the Axew a light punch in the side and walked over to Kyla. Putting her “hand” on Kyla’s shoulder she said, “Don’t mind Hans, he is just very mistrustful sometimes. You see, he lived at the outpost, where things are more dangerous, when he was younger. My name is Chandra, and the Bulbasaur is Jacob, or Jake for short. The Fennekin is named Alina.”
Alina then spoke up and said, “We will let you follow us back to town, don’t worry too much about Hans. Nice to meet you.”
Jacob then said, “You can follow us Kyla, you did your time anyways.”
Hans grumbled and sighed, “Well, it looks like I have been outvoted.” Turning to Kyla, he continued, “I am keeping an eye on you, though.”
Jacob then looked over at Hans and said to him, “It will all be fine, we can get to town by the end of the day and we outnumber her four to one just in case she tries anything, which I doubt.”
Kyla looked up slowly and saw Chandra’s toothy, but smiling, face and then hugged her. After Kyla withdrew her arms from the slightly surprised Chandra she said, “Sorry about that,” she said. Not out of regret, but out of politeness, “It’s just that not many Pokémon have treated me with kindness in my life.”
Jacob then took the lead of the group of five, saying, “Lets move out everyone, we need to get to Polumbos and I need to see Bailey.” Kyla could not help herself, she asked, “Who is Bailey, Jacob?” Jacob just smiled back at Kyla and responded, “Bailey is someone who is very special to me.” The group of five moved out, heading south down the road.
I will admit that the sub-plot with Jacob and Bailey did not become as big of a deal in the story as I might have planned it to be at first.
The group of five had been traveling down the road for around three hours, with Kyla having not said much. Hans had insisted that Kyla be at the front of the group, which she had decided not to protest so as to avoid angering him. Occasionally she would look back and try to get a better look at her traveling companion’s badges, wondering how they were attached to the Pokémon’s bodies, which puzzled her. Eventually, when Kyla saw Alina walking up next to her she decided to ask the question which had been brewing in her mind. “Just wondering,” Kyla began, “What are those badges that you all are wearing?”
Hans remained quiet. However, Alina spoke up, saying, “I guess you do not know about the P.A.G.”
Kyla looked at Alina and responded, “You are right, I do not know what that is.”
Alina looked back at her comrades and asked them, “Hey, do you guys think I should explain the Guild to her?” Everyone nodded except for Hans, who just kept his eyes on Kyla. Alina then began, “The P.A.G. is also known as the Pokémon Adventurers Guild.”
Kyla could only respond by saying, “Ok.”
Alina continued, “The Guild is run by Guild Master Zoroark. He lives in the city up north past the mountains; none of us have met him in person. The Guild has offices in various towns and outposts, and its members form teams such as ours and help locals by fighting dangerous wild Pokémon, rescuing civilians from nasty situations, going after hostile tribes and arresting outlaws and bringing them to justice.”
Guild Master Zoroark’s real name, Shade, is only mentioned later on in the story. In that sense, he is very similar to Theodore.
Kyla felt awkward about the last statement. However, she urged Alina to continue. Alina smiled and then continued by saying, “Team members do not owe the Guild any of their reward money. However, they have to identify themselves as members when completing missions. Also on occasion, they may need to do a mission that furthers the Guild’s bigger purpose, which they may or may not get compensated for.”
I think that I was trying to differentiate the Guild of the ROC Pokéverse from the Guild in PMD: Explorers by not having members owe the Guild a portion of their reward money. Also, the division of the P.A.G. into smaller four-member teams and its geographical scale are key points of difference.
Kyla cocked her head and asked, “Bigger purpose?”
Alina went on, “Oh yes, the Guild helps Pokémon in need and fights dangerous Pokémon, but its bigger purpose is to help with Guild Master Zoroark’s research into humans.”
Kyla stopped Alina there, asking, “Humans? Do you mean that species which has been extinct for over two hundred years? The ones who built all sorts of ruins that many Pokémon use, or live in, now?”
Yes, that was an attempt to sneak in some more exposition.
Alina looked amused and shot back, “Who else would I be talking about?!” and then apologized, “Sorry Kyla, it just seemed obvious.”
Kyla nodded, taken aback slightly by Alina’s short outburst. Alina then continued, “Let me finish. Zoroark is a famous researcher on the subject of humans. His Guild reverse-engineers human technology to make the Power Inhibitors used by law-enforcement, and also our team toolboxes, which can carry more items than they look like they can. He is supposedly working on new gadgets, such as upgrades to our badges so they will be able to allow teams to return to a preset location if they all faint, or warping willing allies back to the same location, and things like that.” Kyla felt a bit dizzy just trying to take in all the information and wondered if it was for the best for her to have asked.
I mainly mentioned the badge upgrade as a shout-out to the source material. That particular upgrade never shows up.
Then Jacob chimed in, saying, “You probably do not know this, but Akira, Sheriff Mamoswine’s lead deputy, was a guild member until she took her job with the Sheriff. I have even heard that she and Zoroark were together and still write letters to each other frequently.” Kyla looked back at Jacob with her mouth wide open; she had never known that Akira had been romantically involved once.
I think that Akira probably never came off as the romantic type to her prisoners.
Hans finally interjected, “Not to be rude guys, but why are we telling her this? It’s not like she would even be considered seriously for membership, even if she was interested. Whatever is on her record it would surely disqualify her. Also, I am sure that no one would want to be on a team with an outlaw.”
Hans has inadvertently started off the plot. Kyla is not the kind to be told she cannot do something.
Kyla could barely keep her rage in check; she partly blamed herself for not realizing earlier the stigma that would come with being a former criminal. And yet, she had made no effort to be unkind to Hans. Even the deputies and the Sheriff, whose job it was to control crime, had been considerate to her and Alana, and had given them their stipends to try and keep them out of trouble. She began to worry about what her job prospects were, considering her past, but then she saw Hans’ look of severe disapproval and snapped, “You know what,” she said with, clear anger in her voice, “After we reach Polumbos Town, I am going to find your P.A.G. office and ask to join a team. I may not be the most experienced in the world, but I am sure I could help in some way. And then, if I do that, will you realize that I am not inherently evil?”
Hans just set off the K-bomb.
Everyone stopped and turned to Hans. Kyla had to catch her breath after her brief rant. Hans was actually shocked; it took a moment for him to respond, but when he finally did, he said, surprisingly calmly, “Miss Kyla, I admire your passion. However, as I pointed out before, unless you lie, which you will not be able to do, since we all know that you have been a criminal in the past and will be able to tell the office that truth, they will not let you in. Also, even if you do get a job with the P.A.G. it will certainly not be as a full team member, because I cannot possibly envision you finding three other recruits to help you anyway. You will be seen as too much of a liability by the organization, and by your potential team mates. I rest my case.”
Kyla then sighed and responded, “I am at least going to try, whether or not you admit you were wrong in the end, because if I succeed I will have at least proven you wrong to myself.” Kyla made a faint smile at the end of her statement, and turned down the road and kept walking. Slowly, but surely the others began to follow her to Polumbos town, Hans at the rear after he received brief glares from his three teammates.
And so, the story begins. I wonder what would have happened if Hans had never antagonized Kyla so much?