What comes to mind when you hear this word? Fun battles between competing Trainers? Amazing creatures that can change shape and evolve with experience? The challenge to fill the Pokédex, container of all information on Pokémon?
That's the way it was back then. Way back, many years ago, when all Trainers were kind at heart and treated their Pokémon with love, when battles were greatly encouraged.
But that was back before the Taboo.
Pokémon battles had become so popular all those years ago that people lost sight of how dangerous they could be. Maybe that was because most Trainers were good and loved all Pokémon. Maybe because when evildoers came to threaten the Pokémon, there was always a courageous Trainer to stop them.
Somewhere along the line, however, the battles started to become more real and more deadly. Trainers had strengthened their Pokémon so much that the line between knocking out and downright killing was blurred. Battles everywhere turned into bloody fights to the death. Pokémon forgot their own strengths, and the Trainers didn't care anymore they just wanted to be 'Pokémon Masters' and 'Champions'.
The battles that were once considered 'friendly' came out in a new light. The people's eyes were opened as they watched the horrors that now surrounded battling. The arenas had to be cleaned up daily because of the blood that was spilled during the frequent battles. Pokémon were abused and tortured because they couldn't win, or their Trainers were pushing them too hard. The world of Pokémon was collapsing.
Eventually, battles were stopped. Many Trainers soon realized what battles had become and, rather reluctantly, retired from fighting. Others had to be arrested for continuing to battle and spread more bloodshed. Prisons were now full of energetic young Trainers who just couldn't stop battling it had become their livelihood, and they couldn't seem to live without it.
It took more than a decade to finally stop the violence. Each region's battle-based economy collapsed now that once-popular Pokémon items like Potions and Pokéballs were rarely needed anymore. Antidotes, Paralyze Heals and Awakenings were confined to hospitals and pharmacies, and hardly ever sold as widely as they once were. Capturing Pokémon was strictly forbidden by law; Pokémon could only be kept as pets or put in certified zoos. Henceforth, Pokéballs weren't needed anymore, and were either thrown away or turned into little souvenir knick-knacks by a few ingenious inventors.
Pokémon battling and capturing had become a Taboo. It was looked down upon and regarded as disgusting and violent. The police were constantly on the lookout for signs of battling and capturing like a cat waiting for a mouse to come out of it's hole. Now that most people had normal jobs and had forgotten their pasts as Trainers, they had no time to worry about battles anymore their minds were focused on work or raising their families. The Taboo was now only spoken of by those who were considered the best of the best in their day, the ones who had tried to resist the Taboo and ultimately failed. They cherished the days gone by when they could battle and capture Pokémon, and work towards the goal of being the Champion of the Elite Four or complete the Pokédex, now an outdated piece of crap.
But there were still people who battled secretly. A hidden competition, similar to the Pokémon Gym challenge before, was formed in Kanto. They called it the Arena, where on special nights people met in large groups outside of town and battled to be the top Trainer of that town's competition. The winning Trainer would go on to the next Arena, and then the next in hopes of becoming the best of the best.
The Arena was a direct breaking of the law, for battles were illegal. The Trainers frequently battled to the death in addition - another serious crime. But those who participated made sure that the police didn't know of the Arena. It was hardly spoken of aloud (Trainers who overheard talk of the Arena would brutally attack the speaker to drill into him or her that the Arena must not be spoken of), and one kept little to no evidence that he or she even knew of the secret challenge.
Some battled in the Arena thinking they could change the Taboo by example, like what teachers taught in school - "if you do something good, others will follow your example." But those were the weaklings who thought they could actually do something. The Taboo took a decade to end battling, and it might just take another decade to bring it back, and one person and one person alone wouldn't be able to stop it.
That's what everyone thought, at least. But that was before Bianca Contra came to town.
"Bianca Contra and her male Mareep."
The clerk blinked, then glanced down at the teenager before her. "A Mareep? You kiddin' me?"
The girl blinked. "No."
The clerk raised an eyebrow, then sighed, shaking her head as she scribbled the girl's name down. "You gotta lotta guts enterin' wit a Mareep. Either that or you just really stupid."
The woman took a piece of paper with words typed onto it and wrote on it. She then handed it to the girl, informing the girl in her broken speech, "Here you go. Give it to de guy up front ova there, an' he'll letcha in."
The teen nodded and thanked the clerk. As she turned and walked away, she glanced at the slip.
"Bianca Contra Mareep" was scribbled quickly on the top. In printed text below it read, PEWTER CITY POKEMON CONVENTION. 'Pewter City Pokémon Convention' was just an alias so the police wouldn't find out about the arena.
Bianca paused, taking a deep breath. My first Arena. Better not lose this one.
The girl walked over to a long line that led to the entrance of the Arena. The sun had set not but a few minutes ago, and the sky was already turning a dark purple colour. The stars are out, Bianca noted, and there isn't a cloud in the sky. Hope it keeps up so I won't have to run to the hotel in the rain when this ends.
She heard an irritated 'rheeeep' from below her. Bianca glanced down to see her Mareep looking up at her with a disgruntled expression.
She smiled and picked her Pokémon up. "What is it, Elliot?"
"Oh, you're angry cos I didn't give you a treat yet, is that it?"
"I thought as much."
Bianca pulled out a piece of candy and tossed it to her Mareep. Elliot caught it in his mouth and chewed it contentedly.
"'Scuse me, but what kind of candy was that?" A deep voice growled behind her.
Bianca turned to see a large, gorilla-like man standing in line after her. "Was that a Rare Candy?" he eyed her. "Rare Candies aren't allowed here, so if that was one, you've got to go."
The girl shook her head. "You're mistaken, sir. It's just a piece of normal candy I bought at the store. See?" She held up another of the same kind, and the man cleared his throat. He gave an eerie, apologetic grin.
"Right. You can never be too careful with those things, though, so make sure no one else sees you." Bianca nodded innocently and turned back around.
She whispered to Elliot, "That man had a Sandslash. Are you sure you're up to this?" The Mareep nodded firmly, and Bianca gave a small smile. They had been training for this.
The MC was a casual man who didn't worry about being formal in an announcement. Since this was the preliminary Arena of the entire competition, he felt that there was little need to be serious. After all, it wasn't the very-especially-important final Arena, so he could relax.
"Settle down, settle down," The MC growled at the crowd gathered in the Arena, who were screaming their heads off. Once they were quiet (or as quiet as they could be, which was still quite loud), the MC announced to the crowd, "Welcome to the Pewter City Arena, guys. This's this place to go if you want to enter into the Arena competition. If you can't beat this place, you'll never be able to go to the other four Arenas. So pay attention."
The MC coughed. "There's five Arenas across Kanto; the Pewter, Cerulean, Vermillion, Celadon, and Fuchsia Arenas. In each Arena, there'll be one-on-one battles. The goal is to knock the other Pokémon out. Killing is allowed but not required."
He continued, "No Rare Candies, drugs, Potions, berries, Ethers, Revives, status-healing sprays, or attribute-enhancing items allowed. Same goes for held items we'll have none of that here." There were some groans heard in the background, and the MC snapped, "Quiet back there! You guys know the rules, so stop whining.
"Your Pokémon will win by their own powers and abilities," the MC continued gravely. "You can only give them commands you can't help them with items at all. Clear?"
There was a general murmur of agreement, and the MC nodded, satisfied. "Very well. On with the Arena."
Lists of who was battling who and where were set up all around the inside of the Arena, a huge enclosed space that looked a lot like a circus from the outside. Bianca managed to get her own list from a clerk, and she glanced at it as she tried to find where she was to be battling.
"A bunch of battles will be going on simultaneously," she quietly told Elliot. "Our first battle is
" She ran a finger down the list, stopping it at her name. "'Bianca Contra and Mareep Area 21.' Guess that's where we're going."
The MC's voice shouted over the loud talking like overpowering background music. "The Arena has set up areas around the building. Depending on the amount of challengers, there'll be a certain number of rounds, but for this Arena there's only three rounds. You'll be assigned to one opponent per round; if you manage not to get beaten by the time the last round ends, you win and can go on to the next Arena. If you don't get to your area by the time the round starts or if you lose a battle, you're automatically eliminated. Now get to your posts and start battling!"
Bianca had just found Area 21. It was roughly sketched with blue chalk, with a wide rectangle showing the boundaries. A few onlookers had gathered around this area, though most were drawn to Area 16.
"Wonder what's over there?" Bianca thought aloud. "There's a huge crowd
"That's only one of the most famous Trainers in the Arena!"
Bianca whirled around to see the gorilla-man who had accused her earlier. He gave a toothy grin and jerked a large thumb in the direction of Area 16. "That's where Tanere Nouvo is battling. She used to be a Champion of the Pokemon League, you know, at sixteen years old."
The large Trainer sighed, shaking his head. "She was also the last Champion. Just a little while after Nouvo became the Champ, the Taboo started. She was kicked off the position, and that's the last most people heard of her. But here she is, at the Arena!" He shook his head, grinning. "They say Nouvo's the one who started the Arena, but who knows?"
Bianca glanced over at Area 16 suspiciously. Why would the person who started the Arena be here at it's first stage to compete?
She was about to voice her questions to Elliot when the MC interrupted loudly, shouting, "Time's up! Start the Arena, folks!"
The daunting Trainer glanced at Bianca and grinned slyly. "I'm your opponent today. Be warned with that Mareep of yours I've got a Sandslash to wipe you out!"
Bianca replied with a smile of her own. "Thank you for the warning. I think we'll be just fine."
Thus, the battle began. The gorilla-man sent out his Sandslash. Elliot gulped as he jumped onto the field, and glanced back at Bianca nervously. She offered a reassuring smile, which spoke two words: Trust me.
Sandslash almost immediately dug into the ground, and Elliot paused. He and Bianca had trained for this he knew what to do.
Bianca waited. Her adversary, she could tell, would mainly use brute force in this battle. The Dig attack was just to try and throw her off thinking that he would use sly attacks so Bianca would want to be more fast than defensive.
Also, the gorilla-man was an impulse fighter he didn't think things through too far and did what came to mind. Dig was a pre-planned attack, but from then on out he would attack on instinct and use quick and powerful moves.
Suddenly Bianca shouted, "Now, Elliot! Discharge!" Elliot send a blast of energy to a spot on the ground right when Sandslash popped out of that very same location.
The huge man laughed as Sandslash brushed away the electricity with its claws. "You know that Electric moves have no effect on Ground-types like me Sandslash!" he cackled heartily.
Bianca nodded. Everything was going as planned. "Exactly."
Sandslash, who had used his claws to keep away the electricity, was kicking up a lot of sand and dirt in the process. The gorilla-man coughed and growled, "Wha-What is this?"
"Your Sandslash, in deflecting Discharge, clouded the air with dirt," Bianca said through the sandy air. "It's a perfect cover for Elliot's attacks, don't you think?"
Suddenly a multi-coloured ray blasted at Sandslash from behind, sending it sprawling into the dust. Another shot fired from in front of him, hitting him in the chest and pounding him back farther. "S-Sandslash!" The giant Trainer cried, trying to think up a quick strategy. "Sand Tomb! Quickly!"
The dirt started whirling around the Sandslash, and Bianca gave a smile. "Using Sand Tomb to protect your Sandslash from attacks? It's not going to work, really."
A ray of light shot out and broke through the Sand Tomb barrier, nailing Sandslash in the head. When the dust cleared, all that was left was the knocked-out Sandslash and the proud Elliot.
The gorilla-man gaped. "But
It was Ground-type
It should've won
Elliot jumped into Bianca's arms as she shrugged. "But it didn't."
The large man looked up at Bianca, his eyes wide with awe. "This was... this was your first battle, wasn't it? And you're only a kid... how did you manage to beat me?"
Bianca shrugged. "I've got the blood of a Champion in me," she told him airily, and walked past him to report on the outcome of the battle to the staff. "Excuse me. I've got bigger fish to fry."