Well...looks like the time has come.
For future reference, this is indeed a journey fic. Some people here may recognize the title, as something similar was attempted in the past. I eventually got bored with the plotline, so I rewrote it, and now it feels MUCH more worth reading. So, without further ado, I give you, the new and improved...
Chapter 1: Beginnings
Lone footsteps traversed the deserts of the Orre region. No care was given for the vast expanse of the desert, nor for how treacherous the territory could be. The owner of the footsteps simply walked on, ignoring the dusty winds that blew about his red hooded cloak, which bore golden lining fitting of royalty. The six red-and-white spheres mounted on his worn leather belt wobbled at the touch of the gusts.
The man pulled a dirty old canteen out of his pocket, swallowing a massive gulp of the liquid within. He grimaced as he removed the canteen from his surprisingly dry lips. With a ragged sigh, the grizzled figure continued on his way.
Elsewhere in Orre, where the winds blew more softly, a young boy of ten years stood outside the sandy brick walls of his native Phenac City, his sapphire eyes radiating a soft but noticeable coldness. His raven-colored hair was smooth and slick, stretching down to the top of his neck and drifting lower in miniscule dreadlocks, coated across the top with three streaks of green, orange and blue. His clothes were colorful for such a seemingly distant individual, consisting of an orange torso, a short blue right sleeve, a short green left sleeve, a mud-like coloration on the left pant leg, and a yellow right pant leg. All had rather rough stitching attaching each part together.
The rest of Phenac was as jubilant as possible: children frolicking in the city’s central fountain, elderly folk gazing happily at their city’s splendor, and adolescents throwing red-and-white spheres forward and releasing majestic creatures that would do battle for them.
The world was filled with such strange and wonderful creatures, appearing in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and forms. Humans had discovered the ability to capture Pokemon in those red-and-white spheres, dubbed “Pokeballs” due to their purpose, and battle them against one another. Although such sport seemed barbaric on the surface, a deeper look would reveal much more. Pokemon were generally befriended by the individual controlling them—widely called a “Pokemon trainer”—and with that friendship formed a bond of trust and loyalty. Battles were seen as an expression of that trust and loyalty, as well as a way of amplifying it through intense situations.
That was what this young boy wanted. At ten years of age, a child was eligible to become a Pokemon trainer, despite a general lack of knowledge regarding the reason that was so. Once that milestone was reached, the child could receive their first Pokemon from a person who studied them, namely a Pokemon professor. Many parents looked on proudly as their child became a Pokemon trainer, knowing that their family name would be forever engraved in the history of the world.
“POLICE! WHERE ARE THE FREAKING POLICE?!”
The father of this child was not such an individual.
Guess that’s my cue, the young boy thought, hoisting his burlap sack atop his shoulder and departing Phenac City. More thoughts strayed into his mind, all of them unusually bitter and resentful for someone of his age. ‘You can’t have a Pokemon,’ he said. ‘They’re inferior creatures’, he said. ‘You should focus on more important things, like my business,’ he said. Memorize this, calculate that. Manage your own business, jerkwad. I think I’d rather live life in MY shoes, not yours.
As his father’s bellows for the police continued, the boy began his trek to the professor’s laboratory, where a Pokemon would surely be waiting for him. A distance away, however, the cloaked figure stood silently, eyeing the boy with rage.
The HQ Lab, as it was often called, was most identified by the large Pokeball-like structure above the main entrance. As a somewhat grimy bus that pulled up alongside the lab, the eyes that peered out from within could see that the lab’s white marble walls and large glass windows only served as secondary identifiers, as did the metallic and glass sliding doors on various points on the front of the building. The boy with the burlap sack disembarked, he heaved a sigh. A four-hour trip across the region by bus was not to be recommended.
As the boy approached the lab, the glass doors opened. A man stepped out, sporting spectacles, a white lab coat matched with a green shirt and dark tan pants, and slightly messy brown hair.
“Hello, there,” the man said. “My name is Professor Krane. Judging by the look of you, I’d say you’re here to receive a starter Pokemon.”
“That’d be it,” the boy replied, barely acknowledging the professor.
“Ah, I see,” Krane said. “Forgive my lack of preparation. You see, most would-be trainers have their parents call ahead and schedule a meeting. A trainer’s journey, after all, is usually done with his or her parents’ permission.”
“It’s all right,” the boy shrugged.
“May I ask your name?” Krane asked.
“Derak,” the boy said simply.
“Derak?” Krane repeated with a slightly surprised expression. “As in Derak Kadir, son of wealthy businessman Anoch Kadir?”
“Don’t remind me,” Derak said bitterly. “Listen, I’m kinda in a rush, so could you just give me a starter and get it done with?”
“Oh, of course,” Krane said. “Please, follow me.”
Krane took Derak inside, where the professor led the aspiring young trainer into a cylindrical elevator. The elevator began a slow descent into the lower levels of the HQ Lab, where much of the more technical aspects of Pokemon were kept.
“I’m surprised you’re here at all, Derak,” Krane said as the elevator descended. “Your father’s dislike of Pokemon is quite infamous. How did you obtain his permission to start a Pokemon journey?”
“Let’s just say ‘I didn’t’ and leave it at that,” Derak replied.
“But that can only mean...did you run away?” Krane asked.
“I got sick of doing business ethics, okay?” Derak sighed. “All my so-called ‘dad’ cares about is his business. I wanted to take my life in my own hands, so that’s what I’m doing. Is that a problem?”
“I see,” Krane said, remaining civil despite Derak’s rudeness. “Not that I’m condemning you for it, considering your father’s also-infamous temper, but you seem to have chosen the path that he would despise the most.”
“Nice of you to notice,” Derak said. “That’s kinda the idea.”
The elevator stopped and opened up its glass doors.
“Here we are,” Krane said. “This is where you will choose your first Pokemon, Derak.”
“What do I have to choose from?” Derak asked.
“I’ll show you,” Krane said.
He led Derak to a metallic door, which split in half and separated at its master’s approach. Inside were five tables, lined horizontally, each with a sphere of a different color on it: one was green-and-white, another orange-and-white, and a third was blue-and-white. Krane stepped forward, indicating the leftmost table.
“Because Orre has no starting Pokemon to call its own,” he began, “we use Pokemon from other regions. The table to the far left here has the three starters from the Kanto region, contained within color-coded Pokeballs: one for the Grass-type, one for the Fire-type, and one for the Water-type. The table to its right has starters from the Johto region, and so on until we reach Unova, the far right table and the most recently-discovered region. I will show you the Pokemon from each region, and you will choose one to take as your starter.”
“Sounds good so far,” Derak said.
Krane picked up the Grass-type Pokeball on the Kanto table.
“This Pokemon is—” He began, but a rumbling above cut him off. “What in the world is happening up there? Derak, stay here. I need to investigate this.”
Krane ran outside, attempting to catch the elevator up and investigate the strange occurrences above, but he found it gone.
“That’s strange,” he remarked. “The elevator should be here.”
The elevator soon returned, but it did so with an occupant. The hooded figure from the desert stepped out, sand spraying from the edges his cloak. One dusty black boot hit the floor after the other as the cloaked man approached Professor Krane, his waist-length reddish-brown hair spilling out from underneath the hood.
“I recommend you get better guards for your facility,” the cloaked man said in a harsh, scratchy voice. “Although, the floor is much shinier thanks to their faces having mopped it.”
“Who are you?” Krane demanded. “Why have you--?”
“Sableye, rise from the ashes,” the mysterious man said, limply dropping a Pokeball from his hand.
The Pokeball split open, and a white light burst from it. The light took a small, humanoid shape, and when the light evaporated, a strange creature was revealed. This creature possessed dark purple skin and a small torso decorated with red and blue gemstones. Indeed, this creature’s eyes themselves appeared to be large diamonds. A sharp-toothed Cheshire grin stretched across the creature’s face as it flexed its razor-sharp claws, anticipating a fight.
“Saaay,” the creature rasped.
“Use Shadow Ball, Sableye,” the Pokemon’s trainer ordered calmly.
Sableye formed a sphere of pulsing dark energy between its hands, which it then threw straight toward Krane’s chest. The professor was knocked off his feet and sent sailing across the hallway, landing outside the room he left Derak in.
“Professor, are you all--?” Derak began, but he stopped when he saw the cloaked man and his Sableye standing over Krane’s body. “Uh…dare I ask who the heck you are?”
“Vengeance,” the cloaked man replied simply. “Sableye, Shadow Ball again!”
Sableye again launched its attack, this time directly at Derak. The runaway trainer let out a cry of shock as he flattened himself on the ground, allowing the ball to sail over him and strike the table immediately next to the one Krane described as having Unova-born starter Pokemon. The Pokeballs on that nearby table shook, particularly the orange one.
“What the heck is your problem?!” Derak cried.
“I told you, I want vengeance,” the cloaked man said.
“Vengeance for what?!” Derak cried. “What did I do, exactly?”
“Not you,” the mysterious aggressor said. “Sableye, use Brick Break!”
Sableye lunged forward, drawing back one small arm in preparation for a strike. Derak dove out of the way, causing Sableye’s arm to crash through the table its Shadow Ball had struck earlier. The table split in two, scattering its contents across the floor. One of the balls, specifically the orange-and-white one, began to shake violently as it rolled into a corner.
“Use Will-o-Wisp!” the attacker commanded.
This time, Sableye spread its arms out, creating a circle of eerily blue balls of fire. The small Pokemon grinned hungrily, fangs displayed in all their glory. It pushed its arms forward, sending its fireballs forth, but the orange-and-white Pokeball burst open, sending out a light that blocked the fireballs’ advance. Like the light from Sableye’s Pokeball, this light formed a shape, in this case small simian shape. When the light faded, it revealed an orange-skinned Pokemon with a pale yellow coloring on its hands, face, feet, and stomach. It had large eyes containing grey irises as well as a small point of hair atop its head, but by far its most noticeable feature was the burning flame on its backside.
“Char-char!” the new Pokemon screeched. “Chimchar!”
“Uh…what just happened?” Derak asked, looking at the small orange monkey. “And what is that?”
“It is a Chimchar, you imbecile,” the cloaked figure spat. “It would appear that I will be having an actual battle with you, child…despite the short time it will take up. Take command of Chimchar, now that you have the chance to fight back.”
“Uh…okay?” Derak said. “Chimchar, use…uh, what was it…Shadow Ball!”
“Char?” Chimchar turned to Derak and looked at him inquisitively.
“You…don’t know that move? Is that it?” Derak asked.
“Chim-char,” the monkey nodded with an oddly listless tone in its voice.
“Uh, okay…Brick Break!” Derak yelled.
“Char,” Chimchar shook its head, indicating that it did not know that move, either.
“Uh…do you know Will-o-Wisp?” Derak asked.
“Chim-char,” Chimchar shook its head again.
“Forget what I said earlier,” the cloaked man said with a ragged sigh. “This is going to be absolutely pathetic. Sableye, just finish this with Shadow Claw.”
“Chimchar, don’t let him!” Derak yelled. “Use…I don’t know, something! Something that works!”
Sableye wound back one arm again, this time forming an aura of darkness around it. Three long claws made from the shadows themselves grew from Sableye’s arm, much to the small purple Pokemon’s delight. Chimchar, however, had something to contribute in regards to the situation, and spat a storm of small flaming orbs—these of regular orange color—at Sableye. Taken off-guard at first, Sableye’s chest took several shots before the purple gremlin blocked the rest using its Shadow Claw-powered arm.
“Fight as much as you want, boy,” the cloaked man rasped. “At this stage, Chimchar only knows two moves, and you just used up one of your only options.”
“Guess I don’t have much choice, then, do I?” Derak said. “Chimchar, use your other move!”
Chimchar leapt at Sableye, with speed that actually invoked surprise in the small purple gremlin. Chimchar drew back its hand and promptly raked its fingers across Sableye’s face. Although Derak celebrated the apparent success of the move, his joy soon turned to despair upon realizing that Sableye took no damage whatsoever.
“Ember may have done a small amount of damage to Sableye,” the cloaked man admitted, “but a Normal-type attack like that Scratch will be completely useless against a Ghost-type. Finish this, Sableye.”
“Chimchar, get out of there!” Derak yelled.
His command came too late, however. Just as Chimchar was about to leap away, Sableye brought its Shadow Claw down upon the flaming-tailed monkey, pinning it to the ground. Chimchar screamed in agony as the Shadow Claw dug into its body, something that Sableye actually seemed to enjoy. The apparent Ghost-type Pokemon grinned darkly as it twisted its claws around, prompting more shrieks of pain from Chimchar.
“Hey, stop it! You won already!” Derak cried, but his protests fell on deaf ears as Sableye continued to torture Chimchar, the cloaked man doing absolutely nothing about it. “I SAID STOP IT!”
Derak charged forward, which caused even the cloaked man to raise an eyebrow. Derak then took hold of Chimchar and yanked the monkey out of Sableye’s grasp, clutching it protectively as he retreated. Sableye’s smile then flipped upside-down, and the vicious little Pokemon drew back another Shadow Claw.
“Sableye, enough!” the cloaked man barked, and Sableye turned to its master, lowering its head in shame. “Return.”
The man pointed a Pokeball at Sableye, and a red beam shot from the silver button in the ball’s center. The beam absorbed Sableye upon making contact with it, pulling back into the Pokeball and taking the aggressive little Pokemon with it.
“So, that’s how it works?” Derak asked. “You just say ‘return’?”
“Evidently,” the cloaked man replied sharply.
“O…kay, then,” Derak said. “So, Chimchar, where did your Pokeball go?”
Derak looked around for the small sphere until Chimchar wordlessly pointed at the corner. Derak saw the Pokeball there and picked it up. Before he could recall the monkey, however, a firm hand grasped his head, fingers digging into the boy’s skull.
“Hey, what—” Derak began to object, but the cloaked man kneed the boy in the stomach, knocking the air out of Derak’s lungs.
“Quiet,” the man barked. He lowered his hood, revealing an aged face with strangely golden eyes. “I need to check something.”
The man looked into Derak’s eyes and saw something in them, something along the lines of resentment and coldness…but also the sort of kindness that prompted the boy to save Chimchar in the first place. Derak looked into his foe’s eyes, as well. He saw bitterness, hatred, and rage…but also some unknown sort of sadness. Chimchar blinked, unable to comprehend what was going on. A groaning behind the cloaked man signaled the rise of Professor Krane.
“Ow…that was some Shadow Ball,” Krane moaned, rubbing his head. The cloaked man let go of Derak’s head, dropping the boy to the floor as he pulled his hood back up.
“Professor Krane, was it?” the man asked in his scathing voice. “Is this boy starting a Pokemon journey?”
“Y-yes, he is,” Krane replied. “We were about to go over the available Pokemon when you barged in and—”
“Give him Chimchar,” the cloaked man ordered.
“Wuh-what?” Krane stuttered. “Why Chimchar?”
“It obviously wants to battle for him,” the cloaked man said in a dismissive tone. “Is that a problem?”
“Well, no, but—” Krane began.
“Then do as I say,” the cloaked man barked. “I assume you want to be rid of me. My business here is concluded, so I have no further reason to remain.”
The cloaked man roughly brushed past Krane and took the elevator out. After a moment of staring after his attacker, Krane looked to Derak. The latter already knew what the former wanted to ask.
“Chimchar kinda jumped out of his Pokeball to fight the guy’s Sableye,” Derak explained, holding the small starter in his arms. “Even though he lost, it doesn’t matter to me. I like Pokemon the way they are, strong or not.”
The Chimchar looked up at Derak with a bewildered gaze.
“Well…I’m not sure how to tell you this, Derak,” Krane said, “but Chimchar is…different…from the other starters.”
“Seems just fine to me,” Derak said, looking down at the monkey.
“Physically, yes,” Krane said. “But the problem is not in that nature. The starters hear many things about Pokemon trainers during their daily exercises. Chimchar heard that many trainers treat their Pokemon as fighting machines, and assumed it was true. Because of that viewpoint, it refused to socialize with the other Pokemon, and focuses solely on fighting. It truly believes that it is a fighting machine.”
“Seriously?” Derak blinked. “Chimchar, you’re not a fighting machine. You’re a living being, so you have the right to act like one, right?”
“Char?” Chimchar chirped, staring at Derak with the utmost confusion on its face.
“Okay, I’ve been at this training thing for only a few minutes and I’m already sick of calling you ‘Chimchar’ over and over,” Derak said. “How about I give you a name?”
“I think that’s an excellent idea,” Krane nodded with a smile. “Perhaps that is the first step to reopening Chimchar’s mind and heart.”
Derak ignored Krane’s words as he gently set Chimchar on the floor and knelt down to its level.
“Let’s see…Blaze? No, that’s lame…Burner? No, that still sucks,” Derak muttered. “Wait, I’ve got it! How about ‘Wildfire’? What do you think?”
Chimchar only stared blankly at Derak.
“I think it fits quite well,” Krane said. “Now, would you like me to show you how to recall a Pokemon?”
“Saw the Sableye creep do it,” Derak said. “I think I have a pretty good idea.”
He stood up and pointed the orange-and-white Pokeball at the newly-named Wildfire.
“Wildfire, return,” Derak said, and the Chimchar was absorbed into its Pokeball.
“Well done,” Krane said. “For someone so in the dark about Pokemon for so long, you seem to be quite a quick learner.”
“I guess,” Derak shrugged. “Not something I’m proud of, really.”
“Here,” Krane said, pulling a small orange device out of his pocket and handing it to Derak. “This is your Pokedex, the novel tool for any Pokemon trainer. It has an expansive database cataloging every Pokemon currently discovered.”
“This little thing?” Derak asked skeptically, noting that the Pokedex more resembled a portable video gaming console than a Pokemon encyclopedia.
“Indeed,” Krane nodded. “If I may, Derak, do you know what region you will be traveling to first?”
“Doesn’t really matter,” Derak shrugged. “Probably Kanto, I suppose.”
“A good idea,” Krane nodded. “As Orre lacks a true Pokemon League of its own, Kanto—where Pokemon were first discovered—is the best choice for beginning trainers. A ship will be leaving Gateon Port for Kanto in a few hours. Let us go and get your trainer card made, and you will be able to begin your journey.”
Derak smirked, looking down at his new orange Pokeball.
“Can’t wait to go,” the ten-year-old said happily.
Outside, the cloaked man’s own journey was continuing as he departed the lab. He looked back for a moment, staring at the lab. The blood of his enemy was there, he could smell it. But perhaps…perhaps, if he went to Gateon Port, he could wait for his enemy to come to him.
Yes…that would suffice.