(Anime, Dark Fantasy) Ambition's Debt (Chapter 8, When Angels Deserve to Die - 7/11)

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    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    Default (Anime, Dark Fantasy) Ambition's Debt (Chapter 8, When Angels Deserve to Die - 7/11)

    Well, here's the start of my newest story. In terms of timeline, it's set "some time after the end of the anime". Ash is sixteen years old, and most of the other characters are aged in regard to that (Misty at seventeen, Gary at sixteen, etc). May is two years older than she SHOULD be (ie, she started Hoenn at twelve rather than ten in this fic) ; this is because otherwise either she was too young for the plot, or Ash too old for me to feel comfortable writing about him.

    This first chapter only really serves to reintroduce several characters and how their lives have changed (and not always the main character of each scene ; the point of the Brock scene is to reintroduce the characters who show up at the end much more than Brock himself)

    Ambition's Debt

    Chapter 1 : Moving on

    Children dream. It is in their nature to create an ideal vision of a future self, of what they would desire to be. Some dreams of the pokémon they will own, others of the wealth they will possess. Few, if any, of these dreams come to fruition. An awakening comes, perhaps in the wake of a breaking defeat at the hand of a hated rival.

    Once, in the town of Pallet, there had been such a boy. He had dreamt of pokémon, of training, of being a master, and had set out to see the world. Six years ago, that had been; and in those six years the child's dream had died. Other goals, less dreamy, more down to earth, had replaced the dream; goals that had brought him now to sit by a table in the silent library of the University of Kanto, in Viridian.

    He had changed, with the end of his journeys. His hair, a pale brown, fell down to his shoulder in a lose ponytail. His eyes, piercing blue, hid behind reading glasses that he would never have been seen with, back then. He wore simple black clothes, a peace pendant at his neck the only memory of the trainer he had once been.

    He was not alone at the table. Across from him, a girl, her dreams broken as surely as his. Her hair, a rare blue-green hue, was cut short of even her shoulders. Once she had sought the life of an artist, her pokémon turned into a traveling show; her dreams had been cut short, too.

    They both had their eyes on books, browsing through.

    "That legend seems promising, Gary," the girl whispered, pointing at a passage in the book before her. "I think it would make a good paper."

    The boy glanced; the book had a picture of a gigantic serpentine creature, two arms protruding from the front half of its body. A name was written below it, Rayquaza.

    "Sorry, Duplica. Won't do." Gary Oak shook his head. "First it's one of the better known ones. Second it's a dragon type, and dragons are vastly overrated anyway. Third…" he trailed of.

    "Third?" Duplica insisted.

    "Third, Ashy-boy has seen that one, too."

    The girl rolled her eyes; a short laugh escaped her lips. She glanced guiltily toward the librarian. "If we're to believe your grandfather, Ashy-boy has seen all the legendary pokémon there are."

    "He's been busy," Gary shrugged. "You know him," For a moment, he almost regretted the rugged campsites, the harsh roads. There had been a sense of freedom to his journey…

    Duplica's hand passed over his, and he shook his head. Whatever good there had been in his journey, the rewards of his new life were simply better than it all. Their eyes met; they both smiled.

    Gary's cell phone rang; before the librarian even had the time to remind him, he flicked it off, and turned back toward his girlfriend of the last three months.
    _________________

    Children dream. It is in their nature to create an ideal vision of a future self, of what they would desire to be. Some dreams of the pokémon they will own, others of the wealth they will possess. Few, if any, of these dreams come to fruition. An awakening come, perhaps in the form of a chance encounter, a twist of fate…

    Once, in the city of Pewter, there had been such a boy. He had dreamt of being a breeder, of caring for his pokémon and those of others equally, and of presenting the best he could do to contest, to mark his talent. Six years ago, he had left to pursue that dream; Six years ago, and now the dream was dead.

    The ceremonial hall of the Indigo convention center was full to the brim; visitors and dignitaries from across the world waiting for what they knew would soon happen. In one corner, a man past his fifties, in a white lab coat, hopelessly tried dialing a number on his cell phone again and again. Watching over his shoulder, a younger woman frowned; miles away, the boy they were calling was losing himself in his girlfriend's eyes.

    Meanwhile, behind the scene, a boy waited, nervous. The massive swampert at his side seemed to sense his master's uneasy feelings; glanced about at the rest of the room. Its eyes narrowed, mimicking perhaps unconsciously the perpetual expression of its owner.

    "And so, ladies and gentlemen," a young man spoke in front of the crowd, red hair clashing with his black cloak, "I am at once saddened to announce that Bruno Evans has retired from his position on the Elite Four, and honored to present his successor to you all tonight! Ladies and gentlemen…"

    The boy swallowed, hard. He reached for his pokéball, recalled Swampert. The necktie he wore felt tight, too tight.

    "…please join me in welcoming the newest member of the Elite Four, BROCK SLATE!"

    The boy stepped onto the scene, felt for a moment as if the spectators had all exploded at once. It was, of course, nothing more than the flashes of too many cameras going off at once.

    "While young, Brock has proven himself an able trainer time and time again, not to mention he achieved gym leader status years ago, though he has been on a prolonged leave of absence," Lance, the league champion explained. "He has battled Team Rocket several times in the past with great success, and has proven himself one of the most promising trainers for the future of Kanto! Brock, anything you'd like to say?"

    The boy stared at the cameras. They stared right back at him.

    "Hmmm…" he began, forcing his eyes upward. The last thing he wanted to see now was a pretty girl, and he was quite sure a few of them would be in the audience. "I…I must say I never expected to be called to this. It's…I am honored. And…" he froze, unsure of what else to say.

    He was not left hanging long. Lance, moved back in. "If anyone has questions…"

    In the first row, a man rose, smoothing his blue hair, his white suit glimmering under the heavy spotlights. The woman besides him, dressed in the same white, her hair a flaming red, frowned.

    "Mister Slate, James Morgan of 'Jet Set' here. Can you tell us a few things about your career up to this point?"

    Brock blinked. He could have sworn the one-time Rocket agent had just winked at him.
    _______________________

    Children dream. It is in their nature to create an ideal vision of a future self, of what they would desire to be. Some dreams of the pokémon they will own, others of the wealth they will possess. Few, if any, of these dreams come to fruition. An awakening come, perhaps when life forcibly part them from the people that have been part of the dream.

    Once, in the land of Kanto, there had been such a girl. She had dreamt of violence, of guns and daggers, of the work of an assassin. Her dream, eight years ago, had lead her to Team Rocket, and the criminal organization had slowly given her the means to pursue it. But Team Rocket was disbanded now, and the dream, dead.

    She barely spared a second glance at the television lying not far from her computer desk; her partner was on the couch, listening to the special edition Jet Set show about the new elite four member.

    She snorted.

    "I know they're hacks," her partner observed. "Doesn't change a thing that they run the best show on Brock's promotion to the elite four," he shrugged. "Even if you hate them, you have to admit, they run the damn best celebrities shows in town."

    She laughed. "That just means there are no good celebrities show in town," she laughed off, sitting down in front of the computer. There was a text file open; she put the last finishing touches to its note.

    A smile crossed her lips. Let Jessie and James – the pathetic fools – run what information they wanted. They had no idea what true reporting was about; where they sought glamour and fame, she knew what information meant; she knew what it was to have the survival of a politician or corporation in your hand – and to squeeze. Nineteen, she was already a celebrity.

    "Did you scan the pictures in?" she asked out loud, tossing her blond hair. The boy, younger than she by two years, took a moment to answer. When he did, it was a simple nod. "Did that yesterday, while you were off holding your interview. Report going up tonight?"

    She smiled at him, one of her few truly grateful smiles. Without him, her news site would have been nothing; without the vivid pictures of suffering he managed to snap. To be told of the pain of a woman whose children had died was one thing, to see her crying before the wrecked car was another. "Thanks, Todd," she added.

    With the last few touches on her text done, it was a matter of minutes to attach the proper picture, to upload it, that of seconds. Soon, truelies.knt had a new article up, the credits to it pointing to the pseudonym that had been hers since the days of Team Rocket – Domino.

    It took barely three minute for the first shocked email to reach her inbox.
    __________________

    Children dream. It is in their nature to create an ideal vision of a future self, of what they would desire to be. Some dreams of the pokémon they will own, others of the wealth they will possess. Few, if any, of these dreams come to fruition. An awakening come, perhaps with a tragedy they feel responsible for, a tragedy that forces them in a new path.

    Once, in the city of Petalburg, there had been such a girl. She had dreamt of seeing the world, had forged her path into being a coordinator, and had dreamt of winning the greatest of all contests. Her dream had led, three years ago, to her brother and she both leaving their home. Three years ago, and now the dream was gone

    The stadium was filled to the brim, the final battle about to begin. They had come to see it from all over Hoenn, gym leaders and members of the elite four alike. In the front rows, a boy sat in a wheelchair, his eyes hidden behind glasses, a triumphant smile on his face. He finished typing a last email on his laptop; closed the browser window he had been working in. Besides him, his parents looked down at one of the finalist, smiling proudly.

    The girl was ready. Battling for the league tournament had never been a dream, but even so, she had learned many things from the best of trainers. Across the field from her, a boy, perhaps sixteen. For the fleetest of moment she had taken him for another, a friend who had guided her first steps, but no. Whatever similarities there were – right down to the pikachu they both seemed to value so highly – it was not he.

    She spared one glance at her family, a smile at her brother. A simple twinge of guilt, no more, came with the sight of his wheelchair.

    "Attention all! Welcome to the grand final of the Hoenn Evergrande tournament! Many trainers entered, now only two are left! In the red box, trainer Richie Leonhart of Viridian City!"

    The round of applauses did not last long. He was a stranger in Hoenn; trying to take a prize he had no right to claim.

    "In the green box, trainer May Whyte, of Petalburg!"

    The applauses grew from faint to deafening. The girl was more than a popular trainer; she was their champion, against the foreigner.

    She closed her first about her first pokéball. Her opponent did the same.

    "Trainers, ready…" the announcer called out.

    Their eyes met.

    "…go!"

    "Sparky! I chose you!" the boy yelled.

    "Blaziken! Go!" she replied.

    The battle was on. Across the stadium, a thousand video cameras focused on it.
    ________________________________

    Children dream. It is in their nature to create an ideal vision of a future self, of what they would desire to be. Some dreams of the pokémon they will own, others of the wealth they will possess. Few, if any, of these dreams come to fruition. But sometime, a child is born who will not let go of the dreams, whatever the cost. For these children, the awakening never comes, or if it does, it is always too late.

    Once, in the city of Pallet town, such a child had been born. Six years ago, he had set out to become a pokémon master, traveling through countless leagues, winning and losing endless tournaments, in search of his elusive goal. He had not found it yet; perhaps he never would. But the dream was still there, and alive.

    His journey would stop now, if only for a week. The weather, rainstorms and hurricane winds, was not fit for traveling. Friends had offered him safe places to stay, but there was one above them all he had chosen.

    She was before him now, her red hair no longer bound in the ponytail that had once been her trademark, the figure of the young girl he recalled clearly now that of a woman. Then again, he was no longer the ten years old he had once been. Behind her, in the house, the television she had been listening to harped on, pictures of a league battle in a far away land flashing across the screen.

    A little yellow pokémon, perched on the boy's shoulder, yelled out a happy "Pika!" at the sight of the girl. It jumped into her arms; she smiled.

    "Thanks for putting up with me," was the first thing he thought of saying. What else could he say? How did you renew links with a friend not seen in years?

    "It just gives us a chance to catch up," she smiled back. Her face was radiant, beautiful in ways he could not ever remember remarking, even at Maiden's Peak all of six years ago. "You've changed, Ash," she quietly remarked, her voice shaking ever so slightly.

    He blushed. What answer was there? Of course he had changed. "So have you." He finally decided.

    She smiled nervously, moved away to let him enter.

    Outside the Cerulean City gym, the rain continued to fall.
    Last edited by Evil Figment; 11th July 2005 at 06:27 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu'
    Sooooo...watch out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

  2. #2
    Superhero!! Cferra's Avatar
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    Nice story, D! I kind of like the alternate future vibe from all this and I look forward to reading more of this story!

    L_X

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    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    You will, soon .
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu'
    Sooooo...watch out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

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    hey, nice to see you've got something up. be sure to update regularly and keep me entertained ^_^

    It's good, I can't wait to see where this is going

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    Just An Ordinary Trainer Roxy_Parkington's Avatar
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    Oooh, nice one! I'm looking forward to more and am curious as to what happened to Max.

    ~Roxy~
    I'm a Chikorita trainer and proud of it!

    At The Study Desk: My Pokemon Fanfiction

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    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    What happened to Max, I'm not 100% sure of myself. I only know at this poitn in time that May feel guilty about it and it's the reason why she shifted from coordinator to trainer. But it will be developed at later points, and likely be related the main plot (as will the reasons for the rocket being disbanded, and the Domino/Todd duo's investigations)
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu'
    Sooooo...watch out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

  7. #7
    Java Girl Barb's Avatar Retired Staff
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    I like the AU that you've created here. Dare I hope for shipping?
    Misty's remark to Ash, "You've changed," seems to speak for all the characters in this story. It'll be interesting to see how this develops.

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    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    *grins* Needless to say shipping will be in. Poké and Alto are but two shipping that will feature in the story (yes, it's complex enough to feature at least two ships for one character).

    And yes, many if not all of the characters have changed. It's been a few years since the anime era, and most of them have moved on. In the same vein, several old gym leaders have been replaced (I just need to figure out all the *new* gym leaders...)
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu'
    Sooooo...watch out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

  9. #9
    It's tasting time! Kasumi's Avatar Former Art Director
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    I'm not really good when commenting on fanfics, but at least I can say I enjoyed every paragraph I read of this first chapter. As Barb, I'd love to see some shipping in there.


    Looking forward to reading the upcoming chapters, Dami. ^_^

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    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    *grins* And you shall (besides which, technically, there's already one confirmed ship in Ambition's Debt - Gary x Duplica*)

    As for not beign good at replying, no worries there. Sure, replies that tell me what to improve are nice and all, and reply that talk about things people particularly liked, or would like, are fun, but when you get right down to it - what's more impotant to most fanfic writers is knowing there are people out there who are reading their fic (and continuing to do so) and likeing it.

    Lack of constructive criticism does make it harder to improve the fic. But lack of replies makes it hard to *write* the fic, period.

    *More or less my trademark ship. I've been using it in my fics on and off since 2001 .
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu'
    Sooooo...watch out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

  11. #11
    The Big Goa Head PlatinumHawke's Avatar
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    Good establishment going there, sets fairly toned-down and muted feel, without going into anything wrist-slitting dark (but with the potentional to do so). Also enjoyed the linking of the entire chapter, which made it flow really well. This might get me back into writing. ^^

  12. #12
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    I like everything except the repetition of that first paragraph every damn section ^^;;; Repeating a sentence is fine, but a whole paragraph? I dunno. It doesn't appear to have bothered anyone else but I really don't like it =/ I think it works better if that paragraph only appears in the beginning, and then never again. I would say have some alternate version of it at the very end but I like the way it ends with the rain.

    I know, I know. You change the last sentence of it. But can't you work that in without having to put in all the other sentences before it?

    I feel so evil being the only one that's had anything negative to say but it really irks me =/

    Other than that though, it's really really good. ^^ I like it and shall continue to read it.
    Riding Fire
    A (very short and completed) original character fanfic about Rapidash Racing.

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    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    *grins* I actually very much doubted myself on the repetition bit. It seemed like an interesting twist, but I thought it might bore people. Glad to see at least one person agree with me on the later bit .

    I'll be posting chapter 2 shortly.

    Like, very shortly.

    Like...ah, hell.

    Chapter 2 : The More Things change

    Clouds stirred. Darkness in the sky shattered, thorn apart by a single bolt of brilliant thunder. The bolt became a flame; pokémon stared from the rim of a trainer box at a human girl in the middle of a battle stadium. They yelled out an order….

    In a bed, on an island west of Hoenn, a girl stirred.

    The landscape of the dreams changed. The stadium vanished in mist, a pokémon center replacing it. Of the clouds, there were no traces left.

    The girl gasped, in her bed far away and yet so close.

    Tongue of flames rose about the walls of the pokémon center; screams filled the air. A maddened laughter buried the screams, that of a man in black and red, head covered with a hood. He bellowed something, the words inaudible. The flames grew stronger.

    The girl tightened her fists. A tear fell off her cheek, staining her pillow.

    People were running. Trying to get out, away from the flames. They yelled; and again the sinister laughter covered it all. A girl, barely even a teen, tripped and fell down. Near her, a boy screamed.

    The girl's body shook. Her covers slipped off her.

    The pokémon center had fallen. Its supporting beams, used by time, had never stood a chance against the fire. Near one fallen support beam, the fallen girl rose unhurt. Besides her, his legs crushed by the collapsing steel, the boy who had saved her called out her name, his face contorted by the pain.

    May Whyte woke up.

    She glanced about, found herself in what could only be a palace. Drapes surrounded her bed itself, and the floor of the bedroom beyond was all marble and precious carpets. The furniture was ancient enough to be worth a fortune to collectors, and precious paintings hung on the wall.

    The champion's suite of the Evergrande league building. It took her a moment to recognize it, to remember that she had in fact earned the right to sleep there, if less than twenty-four hours before.

    A shiver ran down her spine. There was a glass of water on the bedside table; she drank from it.

    "Even here…" she whispered to the night. "Still the same memories…"

    It had been February the fourteenth; the press had dubbed the incident "Bloody Valentine". The work of disgruntled members of team Magma, it had sealed the dooms of Aqua, Magma and Rockets alike. Faced with the League's ultimatum, the former two had chosen to fight and had died; the Rockets had disarmed and disbanded.

    But neither the Rocket surrender nor the death of Aqua and Magma had healed Max. And so, for her brother, May had become a trainer…

    And now she was at the top. She took another sip of water, putting off the burning question – "what now?" Her own dreams? She sighed, glanced at the trophy on the wall. To be the champion of the Evergrande tournament had never been her dream.

    But now…

    "I won't go back," she sighed, again talking to the night. "It's not my place anymore…" she trailed off. Her old contest ribbons were in a closet back in Petalburg; it had been years since she had last glanced at them.

    To the east, the first faint streaks of sunlight began coloring the sky.
    _____________________

    Brock was up before the sun on the morning of his first day as part of the elite four. He had slept poorly, the bed too soft for a back that had grown used to roots and hard ground, the covers too warm for a boy that had slept with nothing more than a sleeping bag between him and the weather.

    He spent a few minutes tossing restlessly, decided he wouldn't sleep, put on some clothes and stepped outside. The sky was clear except for storm clouds to the east, perhaps as far as the Cerulean region. The sun was already peeking above them by the time he reached the middle of the great balcony linking the four towers that served as private quarters to the members of the Elite four.

    He was not alone there. An old man, bearded, long white hair tied back behind his head, was already there.

    "Hoh, Brock!" he greeted with a deep laugh. "Good to see you, young man."

    Brock nodded absently. This was the man who had convinced him to step up when offered the Elite Four role.

    "So, how's the day?" the man went on. "Ready for the other big announcement?"

    Brock smiled and nodded.
    ________________

    From: PuffTheDragon@league.knt
    Sent: April 14, 2031, 06:24am KST.
    To: MistyMermaid@league.knt, DarkPhoenix666@league.knt, FlowerGirl@league.knt
    Subject: Re: League meeting tonight?

    Hey girls! What's up? I still haven't received anything from you regarding tonight's meeting. You planning to make it?

    I really have to insist you do your best to be there. I can have league helicopters sent over to your places within the hour if transportation's a problem.

    Misty, I've heard Ash Ketchum was around Cerulean? If you catch sight of him, feel free to invite him. He'll probably be interested in what I'll be saying at the meeting, so…

    -Lance Strife
    League Champion, Kanto and Johto
    ________________

    Misty stretched, glancing at the computer screen. She turned it; glancing over her shoulder, Ash read the entire email.

    He frowned.

    "That's not the first time he asks after you," Misty pointed out. Her fingers traced invisible lines on the desk.

    "Oh, really?" Ash snorted. "It's not like my email is hard to find. He could have contacted me directly."

    "Do you know how many people out there use PokémonMaster for their email address?" Misty snorted. "He's probably not sure which number you are."

    "Seven-one-four," Ash laughed. "That's just for PalletNet, of course."

    "My point exactly," Misty chuckled. "Besides which, I think he's afraid of you. He seems to think you're one of the best trainers around. For some reason."

    A mischievous smile appeared on her lips.

    "Well, I am!" Ash's cheeks reddened. He stared at Misty, and somehow, missed the smile.

    "Oh, really?" She emphasized the last word. Her eyes twinkled. "I beat you in the whirl cup…"

    "And I beat you when you wanted to keep Totodile!" Ash's lips closed tightly after the last words; he clenched his fists.

    "Oh, that was only Brock letting you win…" Misty smiled, opened her eyes wider. It was, as far as she was concerned, an artful display of mock innocence.

    "Was n…" Ash's voice trailed off. He blinked. "You're just teasing me!" He exclaimed.

    Misty managed to maintain her innocent expression – for all of five seconds. Then she burst out laughing, and Ash joined her.

    "I missed you, Ash," she let out when she finally managed to control her laughter. A warm smile formed on her lips. "You can't imagine how boring this place can get when you're not around."

    "Bah," he smiled. "You're the one who can't imagine how boring traveling get when there's nobody around to blame me for getting us lost." He smiled, as if it had all been a joke – but his eyes belied the joke. "Even if it was not really my fault most of the time…" he smiled.

    "That's what you think," she countered. She smiled too, and she, too, had another story in her eyes. "And thinking, as I recall, isn't your strong point," she stuck her tongue out.

    Ash's eyes widened, he opened his mouth – then blinked. He began laughing again. "You just love doing that to me, don't you?" he accused.

    Misty returned to her most innocent face, turning her eyes to study her fingers most carefully. "Who, me?" she whispered. "Poor little me?"

    Ash growled. Misty barely had the time to dodge; a cushion crashed into the computer screen behind her. Cushions do not normally fly on their own, and seconds later; Misty had one airborne, racing toward Ash's head.

    The ensuing cushions fight lasted for the better part of an hour.
    ____________________

    In May's personal estimation, five in the evening came by far too early on her first day as champion of the Evergrande's tournament.

    The day had been too full, too. Well-wishers wanting to congratulate her, friends wanting to congratulate her, reporters wanting to pat her on the back and congratulate themselves on managing to corner her for an interview…It had taken the help of both her parents for her to get some privacy in the late afternoon.

    Not that she had wanted to be left alone; simply, she had to change for the League Party, and no matter how much she enjoyed the attention, the kind of attention being naked in public would be likely to attract was not quite what she was after.

    The woman who emerged from her suite again had little in common with the trainer who had gone in. Her traditional clothes were discarded, replaced by a simple pale blue silk gown, strapless and sleeveless, and her hair was done up in a chignon. She had needed surprisingly little make-up, had refused to wear any jewelry but the pendant she had earned with her victory, a gold and silver frame reproducing a pokéball, a ruby inlaid in its upper half and a sapphire in the lower one.

    Everyone she had talked to had insisted she must wear high heels with the dress. By the time she reached the ballroom where the party was to take place, her opinion of several acquaintances had been dramatically lowered. Still, she gritted her teeth as two ceremonially dressed guards threw the doors open for her.

    The roaring wave of applauses nearly deafened her.
    ______________________

    The Indigo Convention Center was once again bursting with people. Apparently, what Lance had called a meeting was to be a large-scale social gathering; most of the great trainers, researchers and news sources of Kanto and Johto were there.

    Standing alone by one door, Ash had a frown on his face. Gary and his grandfather were there, along with Duplica and Ash's own mother. The notion of Gary having a girlfriend had left Ash staring, mouth wide, for a long moment. That the girlfriend was someone he knew had not helped thing.

    There were others there, too. The gym leaders were not in the room – Lance had asked them to help him set up whatever announcement they were planning on – but Ash thought he had glimpsed both Casey and Sakura giggling in a corner, as well as Jackson and Macey, his acquaintances from the Silver convention all those years ago, holding hands. Jessie and James were there too, harassing trainers with questions about what the new announcements possibly could be. Ash had chatted with Drake for a moment, two Orange League champions sharing their thoughts on what Lance could possibly be up to. There were others too, some he only recognized by face, others he could put names to, though remembering where and how they had met was something else entirely.

    "Ladies and gentlemen," a voice boomed in loudspeakers, "please welcome the gym leaders of Johto and Kanto!"

    Ash looked at them. There had been change among the gym leaders. Brock was missing, of course – out of touch or not, that piece of news had been impossible to miss – and in his stead stood a boy younger than Ash. Surge was gone, as were Koga and Blaine, and whoever the true Viridian gym leader had been back during Ash's journey, the new one had to be a recent addition; he was no older than Ash himself. Most of the faces he saw, he recognized vaguely, but the one sitting down in the seventh seat, for Cinnabar…

    "Is that Harrison?" he gasped. No one seemed to notice or answer.

    Before he had the time to ask again, the Johto gym leaders began filling in, and there, too, there were changes. Pryce and Chuck were nowhere to be seen, and neither was Jasmine.

    The elite four followed shortly behind. Brock looked like he would have rather been elsewhere; Ash smiled sympathetically. The others all looked supremely delighted with themselves. The fourth of them filled in; Karen, in her typical black clothes…

    Then Lance was there, and Charles Goodshow, the president of the International Pokémon Federation, was there with him. The old man had changed little from the last few times Ash had met him.

    "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome!" Lance's voice boomed. "As you're aware, we have a special announcement to make today…"

    The room fell silent. Goodshow began talking.

    "As you well know, the federation was founded years ago to promote cooperation between trainers and leagues, and a better understanding. It is thus a pleasure to announce a new step taken in that direction…"
    ___________________

    "This party miss something," Richie announced not for the first time of the evening. Near him, May smiled.

    "Booze?" she suggested. Her eyes twinkled, and she smiled. Richie blinked.

    "Aren't you a bit young to be after getting drunk?" He exclaimed. "You're just fifteen!"

    "I'm just kidding," she reassured him. "I promise I've never been drunk," she added then paused. Her eyes took on a thoughtful expression. "I think."

    Richie glared at her, and May smiled winningly. "The closest I actually ever got to being drunk is a single beer, at a party last year," she admitted after a few seconds of watching his stunned face. "And I didn't even like it much."

    "I'm sorry everyone," Wallace stood up from his end of the table. "May I have a moment of attention, please?"

    The room immediately fell silent.

    "As some of you might have heard, Charles Goodshow and Lance Strife are making a major announcement tonight in Kanto. I'd have liked to announce this myself, but to be fair, the idea was Lance's, and Charles arranged the details, so it's really their thing to announce. We have a direct satellite feed to their conference, so…"

    An entire wall of the ballroom vanished, replaced by a massive television screen, showing a convention hall faraway. May and Richie both stared; just next to the camera was the familiar figure of Ash Ketchum.

    "As some of you have heard," Goodshow was announcing, "we have recently discovered a sizeable new island some distance to the south. This island, which we've called Victory Island, will be home to the first ever World Challenge. Trainers from all over the world are encouraged to form teams to face the challenges that await them on the island. I'll let Lance detail…"

    The man who stepped to the mike wore a long black cloak, had flaming red hair. "We've established two outposts on Victory Island, at opposite ends of the island. The first is nothing more than a small seaport; it will be the starting point of challengers. The other is a fully operational city, and it will be your destination. Between the two are only wilderness filled with extremely powerful wild pokémon, treacherous terrain, and who knows what else."

    There was a moment of silence. Richie and May's eyes met. Near them, from his wheelchair, Max listened with rapt attention.

    "For safety reasons, teams will be required to have at least four members, at least two of which must have placed in the top-sixteen of one of the official leagues at least once. All team members must have pokémon of their own," Lance went on. "And of course, though we deeply regret this, people with physical disabilities will not be able to take part in this challenge."

    Max said something; it sounded like "Awww, man!"

    "What do they stand to gain?" a reporter asked Lance, but it was Goodshow who answered.

    "There will be sizeable financial reward to any team that makes it through the challenge, although the first three teams to arrive will receive a greater reward," the old man stated. "In addition…" he began, paused. "In addition, every last member of the first team to make it to the destination without having to receive help from leagues officials will be considered, now and forever, to have a rightful claim to the title of 'Pokémon Master'".

    The silence was deafening. When it vanished, fifty voices asked May a single question. She glanced at Max.

    "I'll do it," she announced.
    Last edited by Evil Figment; 3rd May 2005 at 12:54 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu'
    Sooooo...watch out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

  14. #14
    Gym Leader
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    man, put Misty in a fic and I'm happy... she's fantastic. Am looking forward to Ash and Misty getting together...

    Anyway, I'm enjoying it, it's real good. I guess you never got around to writing much for Brock's scene then? lol

    I like the idea of the challenge thingy! Can't wait to see what it's actually like.

  15. #15
    It's tasting time! Kasumi's Avatar Former Art Director
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    Things are getting very interesting. Now I'm wondering what people are going to be on Ash's team.

    I loved the little bit of teasing between Misty and Ash. Brings back good memories. ^_^

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