Palila was not in the best of moods. It was a really grey and glum sort of morning, and she was going to have to spend the day doing chores. Total mood kill. She would have much rather spent the day hanging with her friends in the mall, ignoring the ‘no skating’ sign and outrunning the mall supervisors. Alas, duty called.

“Okay Palila, there’s been something going on at the barn down the road. You go there and help them for a while, yes?” Palilas mother waved a flowery towel at her and motioned roughly in the direction.

“Aren’t I meant to be doing something, I dunno, useful?” Palila frowned, tugging at the strings on her sleeveless hoodie in confusion as she headed for the door.

“It is useful! Not all your chores have to be just for us!” Her mother scowled, clearly trying to impress some sort of community spirit on her daughter.

“But those nut-heads down the road don’t know what they’re doing anyway!” Palila tried protesting one more time, pulling on her bright chunky sneakers. She felt like her cool mall plans were swiftly slipping away.

“Palila Rae! Don’t you go calling them that! “ Her mother swept around with a whip-crack of a towel, and Palila ducked as it smacked over the top of her head. Her little brothers, Temaru and Heimanu popped their heads around the corner and giggled.

“You’ll go and help our neighbours! They give us fresh milk, they loan us pokemon to help dig our garden, and they are having a hard time!” Palilas mother demanded, and it seemed no more arguments could be made.

“Fine! I’m going! I’m going!” Palila yelled, slinging her backpack over on shoulder, flicking a bright yellow bang out of her eyes, and barreling out the door.

This was how things went down in the house most of the time. Raised voices and raised emotions. Nobody was unhappy though, and technically Palila was going out to do what her mother wanted- even if the thing that convinced her was not the demand, but the explanation of the benefits their neighbours gave.

Palila flipped her skateboard up into her arms from its resting spot on the front porch and ran across the front lawn towards the pavement. Fletchling scattered from their places on the grass, tweeting furiously. That was normal. They settled back down almost before Palila had hit the road and flung her board down. The road to their neighbours was actually a decent distance, since their neighbours owned a farm.

The familiar rumbling sound of small wheels on gravelly pavement soothed Palilas mood. She adjusted her backpack fully onto her back, scooting along occasionally with one foot. The vibrating feeling up her legs, and the slight breeze were actually pretty pleasant, despite the morbid weather.

The weather, strangely enough, which was not grey with rainclouds. The sky just seemed somehow …dim. She cast her gaze over towards the sun, and found it not as searingly bright as usual.

“Weird, must be some kind of ash thing.” She mused, putting it out of her mind.

The neighbours farm consisted of fields dug into furrows outside, as well as a barn connecting the furrowed area to some flatter pasture feilds. The barn was where they normally kept Miltank and Diggersby. Today, though, there were a lot more people and trucks parked around the barn. Even some of Palilas friends were around- easily seen from a distance by their brightly dyed bangs.

“Yo, Rae Rae!” A boy with bright orange fringe waved “You’re catchin’ up to some trouble right here!” He pointed towards a group of adults who looked deep in serious conversation. Another girl with a bright yellow mohawk grinned eagerly.

“They’re taken some serious damage! Its a super effective spook up in there!” She explained, incorrect grammar still getting the point accross easily. Palila skated up to them and flipped her board up, leaning it against the barn. Some milktank wandered accross the feild, looking scratched and harassed, while diggersby flopped in the shade looking tired and upset.

“So what? Why should I care?” She asked her friends. This was the way to play the conversations- she already knew why she should care, but she wouldn’t admit to it in front of these punks. The boy with the orange hair scowled, and yellow girl giggled.

“Because its... er. Nah, well, we don’t! Its whatever!” He grumbled, taking the hint and grabbing his own skates from the side of the barn. Yellow followed suit, but added “Meet you at the park, yeah? He don’t have time for this scooby-do-do”. She laughed at her own joke, and Palila couldn’t help but laugh too. They may have been punks, but sometimes they were adorkable.

Palila waved her friends off and turned to the group of adults instead, striding right up to the group.
There was the farmer, who was a kind but pudgy middle-aged lady, and three contractors, each with a different uniform. Machop Mystery Removals- a stout man in flowery overalls, Popplio Pest Control- a woman in gumboots and gloves, and Aerodactyl Assassins- a short old man with just a wisp of grey hair on his head. They were all quiet by this stage, as if trying to think of a solution to something.

“Whats up? Whats with all the hound doom?” Palila asked the farmer jokingly, and the woman sighed, motioning around to the paddocks.

“Something has been living in the rafters of my barn, and it’s started attacking my pokemon when they go to sleep in there at night.” Her eyes roved around the group of contractors and she looked annoyed.

“I thought I could hire some people to help me move out whatever it is , but so far these two...” She motioned to Mystery Removals and Pest Control “...have been unsuccessful. So I’ve called in the best contractor I know.” She finally pointed towards the old man.

Palila raised an eyebrow. This guy didn’t look like he could move his bowels regularly, let alone move a pokemon out of the rafters of a barn.

“Is there anything I can do to help, er, instead?” She offered awkwardly, almost as if the offer was scripted (which it was, of course).

The man from Machop Mystery Removals and the lady from Popplio Pest Control exchanged glances, and the man stepped forward slightly, pulling a pokeball out from his pocket.

“Look, kid, this is serious business. See what this creature has done to Mr. Chops?” He warned her, and let a machop out of the pokeball for a few seconds. There was a big red mark on its head, and it looked barely concious. The Pest Control woman stepped forwards too, backing him up.

“My Popplio can usually handle most pests, but this must be no ordinary infestation!” She activated her pokeball, and sure enough, a barely concious Popplio, covered in tiny scratches from head to toe.

Palila’s gaze went over towards the old man, wondering what pokemon he was going to let out from a pokeball. He grinned a not-so-toothy grin, and didn’t bother obliging.

“I’m sure my Aerodactyl can handle it.” He insisted with a strange sparkle in his eye. “But just in case, you get your backpack and come into the barn with me too, Miss Palila Rae.”

Palila didn’t really like being called by her full name, (let alone by some wierd old man she didn’t respect) but found herself double checking she had her backpack ready anyway.

“Alright, ya old fossil. Lets get this spook sorted.” She nodded at him, and they both entered the gloomy darkness of the barn.

The barn smelled like wet earth and leaves- like a rainforest, almost. The windows at ground level let light in to a few horse-sized stables, and there was a ladder at the back of the room leading to the loft, where the days dim light spilled in onto the stored fresh hay.

“So where’s this big threat, pops?” Palila challenged, “And where’s your fancy Assassin pokemon?”

The old man just wandered to the centre of the room, then pointed up the ladder to the loft, giving her very little explanation.

“Would you go up there for me, and unzip your backpack?” He asked, and Palila raised an eyebrow yet again. It did stand to reason that he couldn’t climb ladders though, so she bounded on ahead. Climbing up the ladder was a breeze, and she pulled herself from rung to rung as easily as a Mankey might. Once she was at the top she plonked her backpack into the hay, and unzipped it unceremoniously.

Palila dangled her legs from the edge of the loft, looking down at the old man.

“Now what?”

The old man took out his pokeball, and with a crackle of light, a huge Aerodactyl took shape in the modestly-sized barn. The beating of its wings caused flurries of straw to kick up, and it let out a screech that humans might not have been meant to hear. It was terrifying.

“You actually have A FOSSIL POKEMON?? How old ARE you!?” Palila cried out in awe and fear, shuffling back from the edge and taking shelter in some of the hay. She felt a stirring and wriggling beside her, and noticed a small round ball of feathers tucking itself into her backpack. It didn’t seem dangerous, so she let it be.

Then, with another crackle of light, the Aerodactyl was gone.

“Huh?” Palila raised her head and looked down at the old man again. “Weren’t you going to attack something?” She scratched her bright bangs in confusion.

“Oh no, all I needed to do was scare it.” The old man grinned, his wisp of hair flipped over by the sudden breeze. “They like to hide in small dark places.”

“Zip up your backpack and come back down now, Miss Palila.”

Palila delicately zipped up her pack, taking care not to catch any feathers from whatever pitiful Pokemon this was that had taken residence. Climbing back down a little more slowly, she wandered over to the man- noticing her backpack still hardly weighed anything.

The old man grinned up at her as they exited the barn, and Palila shifted uncomfortably.

“So…. Whats in my backpack?” She asked with a hint of fear, remembering all of a sudden that whatever creature this was could beat up a machop.

“It’s a Rowlett. Grass and Flying- which explains all the damage it did to those pokemon. They sit and photosynthesise during the day, and cause a little bit of trouble at night.” He explained sagely. Palila’s level of respect for this old guy went up.

Once outside, it seemed the other two contractors had already gone home, but the farmer rushed up to greet them, matching the old mans smile of success.

“Oh, you look like you’ve sorted everything out! Thankyou so much! Both of you!” She exclaimed, and shook the old mans hand rapidly. “What was going on in there in the end? Can my pokemon sleep soundly at night again?”

Palila and the Aerodactyl Assassins contractor both nodded.

“It was a Rowlett. They’ll be fine- and do you mind if I give that little troublemaker to THIS little troublemaker?” The old man asked the farmer and nodded at Palila, a cheeky smile on his face. The woman nodded enthusiastically, and Palila reeled.

“Wait, what? I’m supposed to keep this? Where? How? WHY?” She rounded on the old man, feeling like this was some sort of punishment. The farmer stepped between them and pressed a pokeball into Palilas hand with a calm and steady grip.

“Just tap the rascal with this. I’m sure you two will get along fine- as long as you don’t come haunting my barn together!” She jokingly warned.

And yup, that was how Palila acquired her first Pokemon.