Lona chuckled to herself. “Schedules… that’s all I ever hear from trainers these days. They’re all so eager, so confident… but they have no—no
idea what the world is really like…”
Bertha frowned. “Then you really must have no idea how times have changed. Kids do know what’s going on. And they often understand it better than we do.”
Right then, something within Lona seemed to snap. She jerked forward in her seat and slapped the table with her palm. “Better?!”
Bertha jumped, and the coffee sloshed in the mug. A drop spilled out and landed on the surface of the table, but Lona didn’t seem to care. She was livid. “You told me a story last time, Miss Herrida. Now let me tell you something!”
She pushed herself back into her chair, and all of a sudden, her face clouded over, till it seemed that she was looking not at Bertha, but at something in the distant past. “My mother was a pokémon trainer,” she said. “When she was young, the Pokémon League was an organic competition. A goal to strive for. If you weren’t cut out for it, you were either sent home or didn’t try in the first place. Gym leaders didn’t just give badges. They gave lessons. Trainers had to work
for their rewards, and if they didn’t, then they’d get beaten to a pulp by the ones who did. My mother raised our family with the same morale she learned as a child. She told us that we had to be ready for the day when we would leave her house and face the world, and that the only person responsible for our success is ourselves. She didn’t expect us all to become trainers, but she expected us to learn from their example, because back then, trainers weren’t just admired—they were respected. They carried themselves with the rightful dignity that they earned through years of discipline and self-teaching. They were a symbol of honor and dedication, and wherever they went, their message followed. They were the pride of their hometowns. The glory of their country. They inspired thousands to follow in their footsteps, if not in career, then in character. And what do I see now? What do I see, in this golden age of technology and supposed progress? I see what was once a symbol of honor to the Sinnoh people be crushed and degraded into an industry!
A happy generator of logos
clinging to its oh-so-sacred national uniformity,
as if without it, the whole country will be torn apart!”
As Lona spoke, she leaned farther forward, till her hands were gripping the edge of the table, and Bertha was leaning back, her eyes frozen in a deadpan stare that was locked on the other woman’s face.
“I had to work for everything in my life!” Lona said. “It was either that or be stuck with nothing! And now I have to watch nine-and ten-year-old children
breeze through my Gym, carrying more pocket money than I saw in a month, passing by opportunities as if they grew on trees! They have no discipline. They have no culture, no manners, no sense of guilt
when they insult their elders—no sense of the world around them! They put on a hat and backpack and suddenly they’re on top of the world—they can romp around wherever they please; they’ve got Pokémon Centers and hotels bowing to their every whim; the League Heads constantly thinking of new ways of improving their experience…
Meanwhile, they have no desire to return anything
to the community that raised them up! They don’t understand that those badges they earn mean nothing if they can’t be backed up by skill!”
At this, Lona stood and opened a drawer in her desk. “Let me show you a real badge, Miss Herrida.” And she opened her palm to show Bertha a tiny gold medal attached to a piece of ribbon. Bertha recognized it immediately. It bore the old insignia of the Pokémon League, a Charizard with its wings outstretched and hands clasping pieces of scroll. “This was the badge my mother earned when she defeated the Elite Four in 1941. Her name was Lydia Hodnett. It was the only medal she ever earned in her life, but she didn’t hang it up on her wall like a trophy to boast about. After she beat the League she went right back to training, and later took the next step in raising a family. We all knew that she had been the Champion, but when I found out about the medal and asked her why she never displayed it as proof, she told me that the proof was already all around me. It was in her pokémon, who withstood trial and hardship with her and now had the strength of character to show it. And it was in us—myself and my sisters—from whom she expected no less.” Lona closed her palm with a smirk. “I have yet to see a single trainer who expressed the desire to give rather than take; to be,
rather than have.”
She tossed the medal back into the drawer and closed it.
“Do you think it was an accident that after the League became federal property in 1952, it began to exhibit the pattern you noticed today?” Lona continued. “I’m sure you’ve done that research as well—you
why the Sinnoh Pokémon League, which used to be the most prominent entity in the 30s and 40s, suddenly decided of its own free will to merge itself with the government.” She put her hands on her hips and gestured for Bertha to speak.