Chapter 1: Getting StartedEdit
You all know the scene by now. The old low-resolution LCD screen of the Nintendo Game Boy hand-held games console. Pokémon Blue is running. On the screen, a Gengar and a Rhydon are fighting it out in battle mode.
“Look Ash! I just beat Brock and got my first badge!” squealed an excited girl right next to him.
Ash Ketchum, 13, of Pallet Town, turned obligingly to cheer for the ten-year-old girl sitting on his bed and playing the Pokemon game, his hand propping up his chin as his eyes drooped. He found pokemon battles incredibly boring. His sister Kay – yes, that girl over there – however thought just the opposite. To her, battles of that sort were positively thrilling. Ever since her mom Delia had bought the game cartridge Kay had been addicted to those pixels… He shook his head and muttered in disapproval. Why, if he did not like fighting, did Kay enjoy it so much? She was a girl for crying out loud!
That was indulging in fantasies for her – in actuality, pokemon were – well, they were just different, and in many more ways than she would know at her age of ten.
Of course, that knowledge was tempered by the fact that Ash actually had a pokemon – his and Kay’s guardian – to look after. (Not that there was much to guard against.) The pokeball which could recall it at a moment’s notice was at this moment stored somewhere under mounds of dust in the attic above, the Charmander having long forgotten what it was like to be in one. In fact, it was currently watching pokemon in the television downstairs – “Gotta catch ‘em all!” it was called. Ash was sure there were about ten other series of the same genre that were playing simultaneously, all with broadcast stations in Jubilife City.
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
Ash turned to look at the alarm clock. Before he had focused on it, Delia came barging into the room. “It’s ten! You two ought to go to sleep now! Remember, tomorrow’s the big day!”
“Aww, but mom, I’m having such a good time right now! Can’t I stay up for another ten minutes?” Kay whined. Ash humphed to himself. That should have been something he would be saying – in most families, that is. He was the exception that proved the rule.
This was as good a time as ever to get rid of his overly excited sister. “Kay, I’m going to sleep. You ought to go to your room now.” Kay looked at him with a heart-tugging - but futile - frown and left, sighing.
RRRIIINNNGGGGGGGG!! RRRIIINNNGGGGGGGG!! RRRIIINNNGGGGGGGG!!
Ash bolted awake, looked around at the timer as if to reaffirm that it was eight o’clock, and rushed out of bed. Last night he had spent a while looking through the attic – and couldn’t find the buried pokeball. That meant he would have to waste one… Hurriedly getting dressed before rushing downstairs, banging on the steps with such speed as to resemble a jackhammer (though not quite as loud).
“Hi Ash—“ “Hi mom,” said Ash in swift reply, before drinking his milk in such large gulps that made this throat seem as if it were about to explode. When he was done he had already started feeling dizzy from the sudden intake of liquid, but that did little to stop him from rushing out the door with nary a second thought, his faithful pokemon - the Charmander - barely a step behind. He would be starting off with that fire-breathing lizard pokemon on this quest of his.
Pallet Town was a quiet place to live, and a nice place too – which meant that Ash and his family, being residents here, had to be above middle class. With backpack strapped on and a wallet with 3000 Kanto dollars in his wallet, he took off running to Professor Oak’s laboratory. The laid-back professor, who also presided over the town’s annual Novice Pokebelting Ceremony, was the only person there aside from his thirteen-year-old grandson Gary – and Ash’s rival for more than a few years.
“Hey Ash, you got here early today!” It sounded like a compliment, until he finished: “but not as early as me!” he smiled warmly.
“Well, that’s not fair, considering you were sleeping upstairs since the clock struck midnight,” Ash retorted.
“Good call, good call,” Gary responded, patting Ash on the back before taking a good look at that Charmander. “Seems like you’re made for the Journey,” he noted.
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“I’d estimate that Charmander as being at level 20. Well? Am I right?”
Ash’s face blanched. How did Gary know, just by looking at his pokemon? Even Ash had to take his pokemon over to the town Poke-center for the machine to do a proper analysis to be sure of his guardian’s level. And the last time he checked – about two weeks ago – he was at level 19. To be truthful, Ash himself didn’t know his pokemon’s level.
Gary took the period of silence to mean that Ash had agreed, and continued from there. “You see, working in a pokemon laboratory does have its upsides – and plenty at that.”
“Well, the ceremony is about to begin,” Ash hurriedly changed the topic. “I’m assuming that you, being so incredibly rich, already have gotten yourself a 24-karat poke-belt?”
“What are you, crazy?” Gary responded with a friendly tone. “We may be above-average when it comes to assets, but that doesn’t mean I’ll squander it all on useless gold ornamentation!” He pulled up his shirt slightly to reveal a split-leather belt. “Since the Journey involves going cross-country, I decided to get gear that could take the strain of travel. Remember when I ran away for a while? I got all the way to Cerulean City by myself and caught a handful of pokemon before deciding to return. Isn’t that right, gramps?”
Professor Oak’s face was red with embarrassment.
“Ah yes, I almost forgot about that,” said Ash. “I and most of the other Novices only have one pokemon for our journey. You have…?”
“Oh of course, that wouldn’t be fair now, would it? Novices are allowed to start off their journey with only one pokemon. Not that you couldn’t hide some up your sleeve – figuratively – but I’m of course going to go with just one pokemon.” He looked to the side and as if on cue a furry tan-brown rodent leapt happily into his arms. It was reminiscent of an oversized squirrel.
“You’re starting off with an Eevee! It's cute. What’s its level?” Ash asked, remembering that pokemon are neuter – they don’t have a gender – until they metamorphose into their final forms.
“Well, this one was a level four the last time I checked it—“ Gary looked at the Eevee intently. “Oh, you just grew a level, didn’t you?” he suddenly lighted up and kissed the Eevee on its cheek, pleasantly delighting it.
The trio turned to look at the entrance to the lab. Only then did they realize how much time had passed since they first began conversing – it seemed as if all the other trainers-to-be had arrived on time. Within moments they were all in the reception room of the laboratory – a rather expansive building – and had sat down. Professor Oak went over to the podium and turned on the microphone.
“Today is a great day. Today is when you – all thirty six of you – will embark on your greatest Journey yet. All of you have demonstrated, by coming here today, that your calling is to become a pokemon trainer. Some of you may become breeders; others, keepers; others, tacticians; others, doctors, etcetera. But this Journey does not come without its hazards. Many trainers have died, and will continue to die, along this perilous Journey, whether it be from disease, hunger, or encounters with wild or malicious pokemon. This journey may not be right for some of you. It may be too dangerous, too difficult, too tedious, may be the wrong career path for you, or you may not have learned enough about the pokemon native to our continent. If you have any doubts, please desist from participating in this Ceremony – we will not think any less of you. Once you go through with the Ceremony, you cannot turn back.”
A long pause. As expected, none decided to quit.
“All right then, let us proceed with the ceremony. We will now proceed to state the oath.” The camera in the back of the room activated. “Everyone raise your right hand and repeat after me.
"I will be the very best, To excel in all my ways. I shall seek first a path of honor, And follow it all my days. I shall not dishonor this calling, Will not lie, cheat or steal. And furthermore I shall never forget, That the Pokémon can feel. And so I shall go my way, Not as a master but as a friend. I shall be taught by my Pokémon, As much as I shall teach them. And I will remember this oath, Until I reach my Journey’s end."
(((courtesy BenRG, “The Journey”)))
A long lull of silence hung suspended over the room as everyone finished repeating the last line. A wave of euphoria now swept over the initiates. They were now all pokemon trainers at last. Oak, with his assistant Gary, called upon each person in turn to ritually place a poke-belt around their waists.
“This concludes the Novice Pokebelting Ceremony. You are now officially pokemon trainers in the eyes of the Indigo League.” Thereafter the individual trainers – all eager-eyed thirteen-year-olds – began to make conversation with each other. After all, they had a common goal and had lived in the same town as each other for years.
Ash inspected his new leather poke-belt and was satisfied when he saw five unassigned pokeballs attached to the belt. He pulled out one of them, and held it in front of his Charmander before speaking gently, “I lost your pokeball from three years go,” said Ash. “We need you to have another one.”
With that, he pressed the button on the ball two quick times – capture – and tossed the pokeball into the air. Charmander looked at the ball in breathless anticipation, but was not particularly worried, as these past few years it had come to trust deeply in its keeper. The moment the ball came in contact with the Charmander’s skin, it opened up as it bounced back, and Charmander turned into a translucent reddish glow was sucked into the ball. Of its own accord the ball came levitating back into Ash’s hand, much like a boomerang would.
The faithful Charmander had made no protest whatsoever; it didn’t have to, as the next moment Ash had pressed the button once and dropped it on the ground. It clicked open, and a white glow shot out, taking the form of Charmander. Within the second the pokemon had returned to normal, as if it had never been caught before. By that time the pokeball, as it always would, had returned to Ash’s hand. He then put the ball back onto his belt.
“Hey, want to have a short, friendly match?” asked Gary.
Ash smiled, and led them to an unoccupied room in the laboratory. “Sure. Charmander, remember that this is a safe match, so don’t hurt the opponent pokemon too badly, okay?” The pokemon nodded, then gave Gary a tense look. The Eevee pranced out from behind Gary’s feet, looked at Charmander, and shuddered. Ash smiled yet again, recalling the great level disparity between his Charmander and Gary’s Eevee – a solid fifteen levels. “You sure you want this match? Your Eevee’s fur will be severely singed the moment my Charmander gets it.”
“No chickening out for both of us,” Gary replied curtly. “Eevee, this will be your first real match up against another trainer, but you’ll do fine if you remember what I told you earlier. Now then – Tackle!”
Before Eevee had even started to move, Charmander had brought its tail – and the brightly burning fire on it – in front of his body, then proceeded to give Eevee a deathly leer that frightened it so badly it reeled back in anxiety. The next moment Charmander had opened its mouth, a torrent of fire blasting forth straight at the Eevee.
As the fire and smoke cleared, the Eevee was gone! All that remained where Eevee was standing was a burnt spot on the ground, where the tiling had partially melted away and tangled up. Ash cried out in dismay. He had never imagined his Charmander to be so powerful, and now he had inadvertently burned Eevee beyond a crisp! “Oh my goodness, Gary—“ he didn’t know what to say at this point…
Until he saw that Gary didn’t look worried at all. A flick of the wrist, and the pokeball went flying right beside Charmander. Eevee rematerialized, and immediately tackled the Charmander from below, sending the eighty-pound reptile toward the ceiling. Ash looked up – and saw that smoke from Charmander’s fires had reached the fire detector, which began shrieking –
The next moment water began shooting out of each of the built-in fire extinguishers built into the ceiling. The reptile, whose life depended on the tail fire continually burning, immediately began shivering and sneezing the moment water began streaming over its scaly orange body. By the time Ash recalled his pokemon into his pokeball, the fire on its tail seemed a lot weaker. Ash talked to the pokeball, “Charmander, you okay? I’ll get you treated right away.”
Then he looked up at Gary and realized that he had just lost his first match since becoming an official pokemon trainer, and against a pokemon one fourth the level of his Charmander at that. It was humiliating and depressing…
“Good match,” said Gary to comfort him. “I think it’s about time you metamorphosed him. A Charmander isn’t good in water, no matter how little water. And don’t forget to take advantage of your surroundings. I would never have challenged your Charmander with my Eevee if we were outdoors.” He smiled again in a friendly way. "All right? See ya later!"
The Poke-Center in Pallet Town was a small but still imposing building run by a single Nurse Joy (of a family of innumerable beautiful daughters and sisters all named Joy and in the same profession). All the Nurse Joys had made a pact to be more easily recognized across the continent, a pact that included their all dying their hair pinkish-red and tying them into balanced loops. Ash came in and handed Nurse Joy his pokeball. Then, he took a pen and signed the contract for medical treatment.
This was a one-page document specifying that his pokemon would be treated for free on one condition. It was a great deal, as everyone agreed, because the treatment often ran into the thousands of Kanto dollars, and the condition was nearly nothing. The Poke-Center would be allowed to extract certain secretions in the treated pokemon – secretions that by themselves were useless but when combined with those of fifty other types of pokemon yielded various potions and heals of unbelievably powerful properties.
It had been what originally set off the first rush to catch and train pokemon in Kanto: the discovery that these secretions, when mixed, could be used to treat not just pokemon but people as well, and do so with no side effect, and the corollary, that the more developed the pokemon, the more of these secretions could be extracted. Indeed, the search was currently on to find and keep as many uncommon and rare types of pokemon as possible to further the field of medicine. Rumors of a resurrection potion began circulating shortly after the development and mass success of the first full restore mere years ago…
“Here you go, your Charmander is all healed,” said Nurse Joy with a rosy smile. “You seem like you have just begun your Journey. Are you in need of supplies?” Without waiting for an answer, she showed Ash an abridged list of items for sale:
Pokeball – 199.99 Y
Greatball ™ - 599.99 Y
Ultraball ™ - 1199.99 Y
1 Spray of Standard Potion - 149.99 Y
1 Spray of All-Purpose Antidote Potion - 199.99 Y
1 Spray of Burn Heal Potion - 299.99 Y
1 Spray of Paralyze Heal Potion - 349.99 Y
1 Spray of Thawing Potion - 49.99 Y
1 Spray of All-Purpose Full Heal Potion ™ - 699.99 Y
1 Spray of Revive Potion ™ - 1499.99 Y
1 Spray of Restore Potion ™ - 2499.99 Y
Potion Spray-bottle - 9.99 Y
Stale Rations - 9.99 Y
Poke-meal ™ - 29.99 Y
Adventurer’s Meal ™ - 14.99 Y
Abra’s Escape-Rope ™ - 699.99 Y
(See what I mean by medicine being pricey?)
“I guess I’ll forgo the brand-name items and stick with the generics,” Ash whispered to himself as he counted the 3000.00 Y he had. He already had the food and spraying equipment in his backpack. “One spray of antidote and ten sprays of standard potion, please.”
“That’ll be 1801.89 Y after tax.”
“Well, guess I’m ready to go it alone,” Ash said glumly to the released Charmander.
“Don’t be so lonely,” said the Charmander, before blowing a jet of hot air out its mouth in an attempt to arouse Ash out of his moody state.
“Mom! I’m home!” shouted Ash with abandon as he and his Charmander approached his house. There was, however, no reply. Considering the fact that school was out, that was unusual. “Hello? Anyone home?” Still no answer.
Now in a bit of a panic, Ash opened the front door and the two proceeded to look for his mom Delia and his sister Kay (Lance, his father, having died long ago.) Their search across the first floor was fruitless, so they rushed upstairs, Ash now having troubled thoughts along the lines of what horrible thing had happened to them while he was gone.
He was so preoccupied with this thought that he didn’t notice Delia and Kay jumping out to greet him. “Surprise! Happy Voyages, Ash!” they shouted in his face simultaneously, causing him to backpedal and collapse on top of a stunned Charmander. Ash couldn’t respond as Kay continued, “I’m going to miss you so much, big brother, I hope you come back soon, because otherwise I’ll… I’ll have to do all the dishes and other chores!” wailed Kay in utter dismay as she broke out crying. Ash sweatdropped as Delia then proceeded to nearly smother him in a massive hug before proceeding to announce, “I’ll miss you just as much, my little baby, to think you’re going off already and we won’t even know when you’ll come back… You’ll return to visit us at least once every year, and remember to call us every town you get to, right? And don’t forget to take good care of your pokemon, and don’t forget to rest often and enough, and don’t forget to brush your teeth, and don’t forget to not talk much with strangers, and don’t forget that there are people in the world who will take advantage of you, and don’t forget that your goal is to be a good pokemon trainer, and don’t forget the oath you made back at the laboratory, and don’t forget that you have a mother and sister here who will be waiting to hear back from you every day, and don’t forget that you have to brush your hair too, and…” his mom finally stopped, totally out of breath.
An utterly embarrassed Ash replied, “Oh, give me a break, I’m thirteen already, I’m not a toddler, you know…”
Utterly unashamed, Delia finished panting, “Oh, but dearie, you’ll always be my little baby to me—“, causing Ash to sweatdrop yet again.