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The buzz of my Rotom phone wakes me up. A call from River blinds me as my eyes adjust to the light. I answer.

“Hello?” I say-

“Sky, you need to get up. Get your butt down to Aunt Kaitlyn’s house ASAP. Tera and I have been waiting for you.” River blurts through the phone. He’s never been one to mince his words.

“Fine, but why didn’t you just come in and get me?”

“Just hurry.” – Click – River hangs up on me.

I get up and get dressed. I throw on my teal vest and head out.

Aunt Kaitlyn’s house is only a few blocks away, so I just walk over there. When I get to her house, I see River and Tera standing at the door, waiting for me.

“There they are.” Tera says to River as she makes eye contact with me.

“You guys could have gone in without me.” I say to them.

“We’re not staying here; we’re going to drive over to Kaitlyn’s lab. We needed to wait for you.” River explains.

We’re going to her lab; she must have something big for us.

 The door opens and Kaitlyn bursts out.

“Hope in the car, kids,” Kaitlyn exclaims, “We need to head out.”

All of us jump into the car and we begin our drive to the lab.

“Why do we need to go to your lab?” I ask as we leave Enovo Town.

“I’ll explain more when we get to the lab,” she begins, “But I was discussing with your parents that with all three of you graduating, we should send you all off on your journeys right away.”

“Our journeys?” Tera asks. She looks over to River.

“Does that mean you are finally giving us our Trainer Permits? Are we getting our first Pokemon today?” River blurts out.

Kaitlyn doesn’t say anything, she just keeps her eyes on the road and lets the anticipation build.

We arrived at her lab about 20 minutes later. Her lab is a small research facility located next to a large brick building. The brick building has been abandoned for several decades, leaving it in disrepair and full of Ghost type Pokemon. The building was the first one built after settlers arrived on this side of the Puget Region. It is quite sad that such a historic building is left in this state.

Kaitlyn takes us into her lab.

“You kids need to remember that no one is allowed inside of Whitman Chateau,” Kaitlyn says referring to the big brick building, “It is way too dangerous right now.”

Aunt Kaitlyn’s lab is fascinating. It is like two different spaces, one is covered in papers and is in complete disarray, while the other is pristine and meant for true lab work.

As we walk by a shelf heading into the clean section, a ream of papers falls. I pick it up and a get a look at the headline – “Central Puget Research Team Discovers Link Between Humans and Pokemon.”

Kaitlyn snatches the paper out of my hands before I can dig deeper, “You can read that later if you are truly interested, but now we have more important things to do.” Kaitlyn waves her hand to direct us to a table in the center of the room. On small pedestals sit three Pokeballs.

“These Pokemon are some that I have found across my travels around Puget. The natives have described these species as a set that use to be quite abundant, but they seem to become endangered over the centuries.”

The pedestal that each Pokeball sits on has an engraving, one for Grass, one for Water, and one for Fire.

“Can we see them?” I ask.

The center ball, the one on the fire pedestal rocks slightly before falling to the ground and opening. Out of the ball appears a small feathered Pokemon.

The Pokemon walks up to me, barely coming up to my knees. It sniffs me before letting out a peculiar growl and running circles around me.

“He seems to have taken a liking to you, Sky.” Kaitlyn exclaims, “This Pokemon here is called Raptorax. He is a fire type Pokemon.”

Kaitlyn walks over to the other Pokeballs and lets their Pokemon out. Out comes a small goat like creature that pushes around a bolder, and a small eel like pokemon.

“I was going to let all three out at the same time and let them choose who they wanted to travel with, but I guess Raptorax was a little eager and already made his decision,” Kaitlyn said, “River, Tera go ahead and choose your partner.”

Tera walks over to the eel like Pokemon, it slithers up her arm and perches on her shoulder.

“Tera, that’s a good choice. This Pokemon’s name is Ropiad. They are the Eel Pokemon and are incredibly rare.” Explained Kaitlyn.

The goat like Pokemon pushed their boulder up to River. It works its way up the boulder and perches balanced at the top sitting with crossed legs.

“River, Satyrtone here is a good match for you. They grow with the boulder. As they evolve, the stone becomes easier to carry.”

Kaitlyn walks around and hands us each of the Pokemon’s Pokeballs and a small device. I press a button on the device, causing it to unfold and a display to appear on it. It picks up on Raptorax.

“Raptorax, the Raptor Pokemon. A fire type. Raptorax are rare Pokemon that are nearly extinct in the wild. They were thought to have gone completely extinct until a small colony of them was found. It is said that fossils of Raptorax have been found in Puget dating back to 120 million years ago. They are nearly identical to their ancient form.” The device reads out.

“That is your Pokedex, it will allow you to help collect data on the Pokemon that you capture on your journey.” Kaitlyn explains, “Now that the first order of business is done, lets get to the important stuff.”

“Getting our first Pokemon isn’t the important stuff?” River asks.

“It’s only the first part. You can go on a journey without your first Pokemon.” Kaitlyn explained.

“We’re going on a journey?” Tera asks excitedly.

“Yep, now let me explain please,” Kaitlyn starts, “Your parents and I thought that it would be good for you to explore the region and get to know the land that you live in more deeply. So we are sending you three through three separate journeys. The Gym Challenge, The Year Walk, and the Graduates Challenge.”

“The Gym Challenge is self-explanatory. You will travel around the Puget Region, challenge, and hopefully defeat each of the 8 gym leaders. Then you will have the opportunity to challenge the Elite Four and the Champion at Pokemon League. You can challenge seven of the eight gym leaders in any order you want as long as you defeat the mandated first gym leader.”

“The Year Walk is a coming-of-age challenge established by the natives of the Puget Region. There are 24 challenges, 2 per ‘month’ of the challenge. 20 of these challenges will see you face off against the powerful Pokemon, one of each type. These challenges are divided evenly around the Puget Region and will be divided into 4 sections of 5, after you defeat all five challenges in a quarter, you will challenge each quarter’s Sage.”

“Finally, there is the Graduates Challenge. This is a challenge that we have set up with the parents of the other students that graduated with you. As you all go along on your journey, you are likely to run into each other. You should battle whenever this happens. After the battles you will stamp each other’s ‘Year Books.’ This will keep track of who wins and who loses, and over time you will each create a line up and once everyone has all eight badges, there will be a tournament to see who the best trainer of your graduating class is.”

“Does this all make sense?” Kaitlyn asks.

“Yep.” The three of us respond.

“One more thing before you head out.” Kaitlyn hands us each a notebook, “Sometimes people you meet along your journey will need your help or an errand run. Jot your notes and tasks down and this will help you keep track of everything.”

“You guys will set off tomorrow, but you have Pokemon now, so feel free to explore for the rest of the day around the area. Maybe head to the top of the butte and get a view of where you will head next.”

“Let’s do that, lets head up their now.” River exclaims and he rushes out the door.

I open the map on my phone and set Steppe Butte as my destination.

River and Tera have already left.

As I leave, I see a picture on the wall that I have never seen before. It shows Aunt Kaitlyn in a cave. Glowing cave paintings decorate the walls.

“Aunt Kaitlyn, what is this picture of?” I ask.

“Oh, that. It is from one of my expeditions around the region. I found a remarkable cave that depicted these beasts of Pokemon.” She explained, “I’ll give you a hint to where it’s at. It’s a cave at the base of Mt. Tahoma.”

“Cool, I’ll see if I can find it. See you later tonight.”

I leave the lab and set out.