9 Starting - Part 1
"It has been a month since the new Pokémon Master was crowned, and he has completed to obligatory months battling anybody who wishes to test themselves. There has been a record low number of challengers, with only 4 trainers testing themselves. Now we wait to see what the Master, known only as 'Champion' will do. He promised a review of all the gyms so that is expected, but the only thing that can be truly said about 'Champion' is that he does the unpredictable"
Samuel Fenandez turned off the TV, before dashing downstairs. As he reached the bottom he jumped, sliding in his socked feet across the wooden floor, coming to a stop right next to the table in the kitchen. His father looked up from the paper he was reading.
"Sam, don't do that, you'll fall and hurt yourself."
"Let him be Denis, you know how excited he is today." Denis Fenandez looked across the room to where his wife was cooking a breakfast. Today was their sons 10th birthday, which means that he would be able to go to Professor Elm's laboratory in New Bark Town and pick a starter Pokémon. As Sam wolfed down his breakfast, his parents watched him fondly. He had been looking forward to this day for months, and they were proud to watch him. He hadn't been entirely sure what he would do in his career, but a month earlier he had been inspired to become a battler by the new Pokémon Master. It was amusing when they thought about it that his journey would start on the day that his idol would finally start in his role after the obligatory month of battling.
After he had finished his breakfast, Sam grabbed his bag and said goodbye to his parents. Outside he started to walk towards Professor Elm's lab. He had only gone a couple of streets when a figure slammed into him from the side. Sam was knocked off his feet into a grassy area to the side of the road, with the figure lying on top of him. Groaning, Sam looked into a pair of green eyes. Pushing the figure off he rolled to his feet and held out a hand to his childhood friend Mellanie Rigger. She grinned up at him, before taking his hand and allowing herself to be pulled to her feet.
"Did you really have to do that Mellanie?"
"Just wanted an exciting way to say hello."
"So you sent me flying? Reeeaaaal mature" said Sam, sticking his tongue out as he brushed his black hair out of his eyes.
"Coming from you?" Mellanie retorted. They held each others gaze for a moment before bursting into giggles.
"Come on." Mellanie said, grabbing Sam's hand. "Lets go get our starters."
As the young girl dragged the poor boy towards the lab, they saw a large red dragon race over their head. They stopped and stared in awe at the Pokémon as it vanished over the hill. Mellanie turned to Sam.
"Isn't the lab over that hill? That Pokémon couldn't be headed there could it?"
Sam gasped as a memory hit him. "That Pokémon... It reminds me of one that 'Champion' had." Ignoring his companion's groan, Sam pressed on. "It's a Charizard, the evolution of a Kanto starter. Its owner must be a powerful trainer; I'd love to meet him."
"You think a powerful trainer would talk to a newbie like you?" Mellanie teased. "I mean, you don't even have a Pokémon yet."
"Neither do you!" retaliated Sam. "Anyway, I'm going to be a better trainer than you!"
"You wish" Mellanie grinned, before skipping away up the road again. "Anyway, hurry up or he'll be gone, if he really did land at the lab." She burst out laughing as Sam suddenly started sprinting after her.
Charizard landed in the fields outside the laboratory, and a figure dressed in black slid off his back. He patted the dragon's snout before holding out a Pokéball, and returning the Flame Pokémon. He strode to the entrance of the lab, letting himself in. As he entered, he stopped and looked around the room, observing the mess. He began to wander through, looking at some of the files that had been left lying around, before finally finding Professor Elm, his head buried in yet another pile of paper. The man coughed, causing Professor Elm to wave his hand dismissively.
Hidden by his hat, the figures eyebrow raised in surprise. He turned and began to walk back through the lab, letting himself through a door before he stopped once again. In front of him were three small Pokémon that he recognised. A Cyndaquil, a Totodile and a Chikorita. The man observed them, noting their health. He reached into a pocket inside his jacket and took out some food, which he threw to the three Pokémon. He watched with an amused eye as they sniffed it before tasting it, then devouring what he had given them.
The Chikorita ran towards him, using its leaf to rub against the man's leg, with the Cyndaquil nudging the other leg. The Totodile watched him slightly more reserved than the other two. The man then gestured to the door, and turned to walk back through it. He strode back through the lab, the three Pokémon following him, till they were outside.
When outside he took the Pokémon to the side, around the corner, knelt and started to question them about their care when they were at the laboratory.
When Sam and Mellanie finally reached the lab, they hurried to the door, not seeing the man around the corner. They went inside, and after some effort, finally managed to get Professor Elm's attention. However, when they were shown to where their new Pokémon were waiting, they were surprised to see three empty Pokéball's. The Professor, having tried to release all three was at a loss, and the two youngsters were beginning to realize that they wouldn't be able to start their journeys when they heard a voice behind them.
"Trainers will soon take you away from here. As for your treatment, I know the Professor has good intentions, he just gets very easily distracted. He will improve on this, or he will be replaced."
Professor Elm gulped. There was only one Professor around, and getting distracted sounded very much like him. He, Sam and Mellanie turned towards the door, which slid open as Ash strode through, talking over his shoulder to the three Pokémon behind him.
Squeals of delight came from the two youngsters, as they saw the Pokémon that they would be receiving, but as Sam began to move forward to get a closer look, a cold voice stopped him, very different from the caring voice they had heard a moment before.
Ash moved past the stunned trio, before picking up the three Pokéball's, and returning each of the Johto Starters. He then turned to Professor Elm, and gave a simple command.
"Get the Pokédexes." As the Professor, realising that he was in serious trouble hurried to do as ordered by the Pokémon Master, Ash turned to the youngsters.
"Here to get starter Pokémon?" They both nodded, in awe of the man who by now they had both also recognised. "Very well. Since Professor Elm is busy, I will issue you with them. There are three, Cyndaquil, the Fire-type, Totodile the Water-type or Chikorita, the Grass-type. Do you know which you want?"
Mellanie nervously stepped forward. "I... I err... I would like Totodile please sir."
Sam was still shell-shocked, and wasn't responding even when nudged by Mellanie. Ash looked at him, before handing a Pokéball to Mellanie, and releasing the two Pokémon held in the other two. Cyndaquil looked at Sam and then back at Ash before sitting down to watch his potential new trainer. Chikorita hid behind Ash's leg.
The sight of the two Pokémon shook Sam, and he knelt next to Cyndaquil. The Fire-type accepted his petting, before nuzzling his new trainer. Wordlessly, Ash returned Chikorita and then handed Cyndaquil's Pokéball to Sam.
As he did so, Professor Elm came rushing back in with a pair of Pokédexes. Ash gestured for him to give them to the new trainers, and stepped back.
"These are your Pokédexes." Professor Elm started. "They will be able to give you information on any Pokémon you see as well as being your licenses to show you are allowed to capture and train Pokémon. Don't lose them."
Sam and Mellanie nodded, still in awe of seeing the Pokémon Master. Professor Elm then handed them five Pokéballs each. "These are Pokéballs, they hold Pokémon. Your Cyndaquil and Totodile have their own Pokéball's. Any questions before you head on your way?"
This time the two new trainers shook their heads.
"Good. In that case, I suggest you head on your way, and if you have any trouble please call the lab."
As the two trainers started to leave, Sam summoned up his courage before turning back to Ash.
'Sir, can I have your autograph?"
Ash just looked at the new trainer, causing him to stutter on. "I mean...I'm a fan, I watched all your battles and..."
"What did I say in my inauguration speech?"
"You said... you said that if any trainers felt they were among the best worldwide you would train them, and you would restructure the Pokémon League, encouraging the gym leaders to take a more active role in training new trainers."
"What was the fourth Pokémon my third challenger used?"
"He used a Fearow, but it was defeated by your Charizard."
"Do you have nothing better to do with your life?"
Seeing how Sam was getting his questions answered, Mellanie stepped in.
"Its true sir, he talks about nothing else, and hasn't done for a month now."
"Unfortunately, I don't do autographs. However, I will have you watched whilst you journey, if you are strong enough, you will be invited to train with some very powerful trainers. I sense potential in you, I urge you to fulfil it."
Ash then turned and strode out of the room, deeper into the Pokémon laboratory, leaving Professor Elm to show the two trainers out.
Once they had left, the Professor walked back into the lab to talk to his renowned guest. He found 'Champion' reading a report that had been left on a desk. As he came in, 'Champion' put the report down and turned to the Professor.
"This will be brief Professor Elm. I am reviewing the roles of everybody affiliated with the Pokémon League. Since I got here I have been disappointed with what I have seen. You are a researcher, but you are also responsible for the trainers who are based in the Johto Region. Whilst I do not doubt your research credentials, but your ability to organise the trainers of this region is lacking. The fact that you failed to notice the Pokémon in your care leaving suggests that you are not able to focus sufficiently on them. If this was a first offence I would consider overlooking it, but it is not. As a result, you are hereby replaced as the presiding researcher of the Johto Region, effective immediately. This laboratory is the property of the Pokémon League, and as such will be required for your replacement. You will be expected to have vacated the premises within three days. The Pokémon currently under your care will be sent to a centre until your replacement moves in."
'Champion' turned on his heel and strode out of the lab, leaving Professor Elm to recover from what just happened. As the words of the Pokémon Master hit him, he sunk to his knees, before turning to the laboratory. He now had to start clearing his belongings out, and find out who his replacement was so he could try to use their lab when they took his.
Cynthia noticed a message appearing on her computer as she got into work. It was the first day after 'Champion' had departed on his tour of the regions to review the various members of the Pokémon League. The message was surprisingly from her boss. Cynthia opened it, scanned it and froze. The message was simple, only a single line.
"Inform Prof. Rose that she is Prof. Elm's replacement. Effective immediately."
Cynthia hadn't expected such rapid results from his review, but having known Professor Elm she wasn't surprised that he was the first casualty. She picked up her phone, and called Professor Rose, a young and upcoming professor that she got on very well with. As she did so she wondered if her relationship with Rose was the reason for her selection. She had certainly topped the shortlist that she had provided 'Champion', the Pokémon Master having asked for a list of trainers who could take over a gym of any type as well as Professors that could manage a region. Cynthia was snapped back to the present by the sound of her friend's voice in her ear.
"Hello? Rose? How do you fancy a change of scene?"
"Pidgeot, Aerial Ace!"
"Snubbull, Take Down!"
The Bird Pokémon swerved around the charging bulldog, and then caught it on its side. Snubbull was sent skidding across the field, and before its trainer could give another order, Gym Leader Falkner gave his last order.
Pidgeot swooped around, before firing an orange beam out of its beak, which caught Snubbull, knocking him out in a large explosion. Falkner recalled his Pokémon, and walked across the field to shake his opponents hand.
"That was a good battle. You are a powerful trainer."
"Not good enough to defeat you though" the defeated trainer said sullenly.
Falkner laughed. "Kid, I've been training for more than a decade. I also train a whole cadre of Flying-Pokémon trainers. There is nothing about them I don't know. You are young; you'll beat me eventually. I used my most powerful Pokémon against you, and you still nearly won. Not all trainers face these. When you win your Zephyr Badge it will mean even more. "
As the trainer left, Falkner stood on the gym roof, where the battlefield was, looking out over Violet City. He turned to go back inside, but there was a man leaning on a wall. Falkner instantly recognised 'Champion', the man who was the Pokémon Master. He strolled across the gym field, to lean on the wall next to 'Champion', before turning to him and asking him the obvious question.
'Champion' merely nodded, before handing the Gym Leader a piece of paper. It had various categories marked on it. Falkner read down it, before realising that the Pokémon Master had been in his gym for some time.
The gym leader turned back to the Pokémon Master who was watching him.
"So I pass?"
"Yes. You're record as a gym leader is exceptional and your cadre of trainees are of a high standard. What I have seen today is confirmation of that."
"Carry on. You shouldn't see me again."
As he finished speaking, a large red Pokémon landed next to 'Champion', who swung up around the creatures neck. The Charizard took to the sky, heading in the direction of Azalea Town.
Over the next week, the remaining Johto Leaders were reviewed. Bugsy passed with flying colors, as did Morty, Chuck, Jasmine and Clair. However, two of the Johto leaders had issues. Neither Whitney nor Pryce taught trainers. As a result, they both failed their leader reviews, and were replaced by leaders from Cynthia's shortlist. Neither leader had taken it particularly well, but their pleas had fallen on deaf ears.
'Champion' refused to listen to pleas, and merely ordered them out of their gyms, so that their replacements could move in without upsetting any trainers who wished to challenge for the badges. Whitney had been the first to be replaced. She had been tearful when ordered out, but had eventually been forced to move back to the Miltank Farm outside Goldenrod City. However bad her reaction was, compared to Pryce it was very subdued.
When 'Champion' told Pryce that he was expected to pass on his experience, and his failure to do so discounted him from being a Gym Leader, he had flown into a rage.
Shouting at the Pokémon Master, he had claimed that he would never be moved from his gym, having given his life to it. What had followed had terrified passers-by.
"I will never be thrown out of my gym. This is my life, my everything."
"It was. Now you are being replaced."
"You have no right!"
"Wrong. I have the right."
Pryce had been arguing with the stubborn Pokémon Master for nearly fifteen minutes, but he had made no progress. Realising that he wouldn't win the argument, he turned back into his gym and slammed the door, shouting through it that he would never give up. 'Champion' hadn't bothered to respond, merely striding to the doors and pulling on them, to confirm that they were locked. By this point a news crew had arrived and were filming everything. In front of the world, 'Champions' Charizard forcibly opened the doors to the gym, before picking up Pryce and carrying him out. The Ex-Gym leader was deposited on the ground outside his gym, where he was about to stand up before the dark figure of the Pokémon Master stood over him.
"Pryce. By the power invested in me as Pokémon Master, I hereby remove you from the rank of Gym Leader. Your refusal to cooperate means that I have no choice but to ban you from any future affiliation with the Pokémon League. Do not attempt to enter this gym again, it no longer belongs to you."
With that, 'Champion' had recalled his Charizard and strode away, leaving Pryce to contemplate the ruins of his career. The news crew had tried to get an interview from both men, but Pryce ignored them, and Champion had gone.
Back in Kanto, Misty was spending a few days with Brock in Pewter City before returning to training. They had been watching the news when they saw Pryce being removed. They were absolutely shocked at the cruel nature of 'Champion', his lack of remorse as he removed a man who had devoted his life to his gym.
Their reaction was one mirrored across the Pokémon World. Whilst 'Champion' was technically working within his remit, he was taking it to an extreme. He had promised reviews of all gym-leaders.
Both Brock and Misty feared for the gyms that they were affiliated with, as Brock's father Flint had remained the Pewter City gym leader whilst Daisy had taken over being the Cerulean City gym leader when Misty had wanted to tour the world.
Neither gym had any trainees there at all, and as a result, the leaders could be thrown out just as Pryce had been. They both began to work on ways to avoid such a calamity.
Sam and Mellanie had reached Violet City, where they intended to battle against Falkner. Sam had chosen to go first, and whilst Falkner had easily defeated his Sentret, but had struggled against the Ghastly sent out, and then Sam's Cyndaquil had defeated Falkners Pidgeotto winning the 3 on 3 match.
Mellanie had offered to give Falkner a day to recover from the battle, which he had accepted, so the two trainers were returning to the gym the following day in order for Mellanie to try to win the Zephyr Badge.
Falkner met them both on the roof, shaking Mellanie's hand before showing her to the field. They took their places, with Falkner choosing his Pokémon first.
"Hoothoot, your up".
"Poliwag, come on out"
Hoothoot swept down, but was forced back into the sky by bubbles from Poliwag. The Owl Pokémon tried twice more, but each time was forced back into the sky, causing Falkner to change his strategy.
Hoothoot's eyes glowed, and he fired waves of attacks at Poliwag who succeeded in dodging them all. Falkner was starting to get irritated, whilst Sam was trying not to grin at watching his friends style.
"Hoothoot, Air Slash!"