Table of Contents:
Chapter One: The Announcement
Chapter Two: You Sound Like a Fortune Cookie
Chapter Three: The Decision
Chapter Four: The Emergency
Chapter Five: The Surgeon and The Reporter
Chapter Six: Redemption
Chapter Seven: The First Battle
(A/N) Thanks for opening this thread, and welcome to my new fanfic, "Pocket Monsters." As many of you know, I've had a rough few months with the complications from my heart surgery, but I'm back and better than ever as they say! Finally, here is the beginning of my fic.
I want to first give a special thanks to everyone who responded to my thread in the Writer's Block who offered their suggestions and advice. While this is my own story, a lot of the input I received was taken into consideration, and for that, I am thankful.
"Pocket Monsters" will be PG-13 rated for language, some adult themes, violence, sexual references, etc. Nothing overly graphic, but I guess I just want to get that disclaimer out of the way.
Also, as you read this story, please keep in mind that it does not occur in any of the canon universes and will not strictly adhere to any of the existing canon rules. I'm sure you will notice subtle differences right away... and this is intentional. I want this story to be a stand-alone type of world. Obviously it is based on the Pokemon World we have all grown to love, but please keep an open mind as you read.
Now, without further ado...
Chapter One: The Announcement
… This world that we live in is quite simply, a wondrous place.
A place like no other in the universe which we human beings are privileged enough to share with the vast array of amazing creatures that inhabit it.
Some of these non-human organisms are roamers of the land, exhibiting the strength and tenacity of rock, the grace and precision of grass, and the intensity and flare of fire. They inhabit the lush, green plains, the rugged mountain ranges, and even the industrialized cities and towns created by humans.
Others are beasts of the sea, navigating the planet’s vast waters, embodying the sheer power and depth of the mighty blue oceans. Still other varieties soar majestically through the open skies and cotton-soft clouds, exhibiting the breath-taking ability to defy the laws of gravity and take to the air.
Much like us humans, these animals are incredible examples of the wonders and complexities of nature… and of life itself. Just as human beings are diverse and unique as a species – with each individual person possessing a totally unique personality to go with an equally unique set of talents, strengths, and weaknesses – these creatures too represent this diversity… in their size, in their shape, and in their special abilities.
Of course, all of you know these extraordinary creatures by their common, human-coined nickname... Pocket Monsters... or 'Pokémon,' for short.
But many of us forget that 'Pocket Monsters' didn't always exist... well, at least the name didn't.
For thousands of years, humans and Pokémon roamed the planet together as complete equals, both races respecting the other's right to freedom and harmony and sharing the planet in perfect harmony. The relationship between people and Pokémon back then was very different than it is today.
It wasn't until many centuries had passed and human technology had begun to advance that our world would be changed forever by the invention of one, ground-breaking little device:
The pokéball, as it is now known throughout the world today, was invented decades ago, and has subsequently changed our world's order by giving humans the ability to “capture” the creatures of our planet inside the baseball-sized, spherical device, thereby allowing a person to fit a “monster,” regardless of size or shape, inside his or her pocket... thus the new nickname for these creatures was born.
But I certainly don't have to tell you all what a pokéball does. Everyone in this room knows that it is an extraordinary contraption that implements scientific and technological theories beyond the common person's comprehension, and that it allows a person to essentially “own” a Pokémon.
It was this revolution that shaped how humans and Pokémon interact in today's world. In the pre-pokéball era, a person could claim true ownership over a Pokémon only if both creatures were in mutual agreement. True friendships were fostered between person and beast because loyalty and respect were required to obtain a Pokémon's companionship.
Fortunately, despite the fact that humans are now able to obtain ownership of Pokémon without their initial consent, many humans do uphold their ancient predecessors' attitude regarding the creatures, which was to treat them with respect and care. Additionally, as you have probably learned in school, Kanto lawmakers long ago installed laws about the fair treatment of Pokémon, almost immediately after the inception of the pokéball.
Today, many people capture cute, friendly varieties to befriend and keep as loving pets. The unique relationships that Pokémon are capable of sharing with humans, as well as the playful and loving demeanor of many species, make these amazing creatures ideal house pets…even family members.
Other Pokémon lovers in today’s world – as well as beauty and fashion enthusiasts – acquire Pokémon in order to enter them in beauty and style competitions, called Pokémon Beauty Contests. Contest Coordinators, as these competitors are called, dedicate their lives to raising their Pokémon while paying special attention to their grace, style, and overall visual appeal.
And of course, the reason you all are here today... Pokémon battling, easily the most popular sport in the world and the most glamorous and visible of all the human-Pokémon relationships.
Every person in this room undoubtedly understands the popularity of battling in our country and across the world. Capturing, raising and training Pokémon to participate in battles of strength, will and strategy has become a multi-billion dollar industry world-wide, and with all the professional leagues as well as youth, high school, and collegiate competition, the sport's popularity is growing by the day.
Again, that is undoubtedly the reason you have all been attending these classes all summer. As we have been saying each week, despite the fact that training and battling Pokémon can be an incredibly fun and rewarding experience for those who succeed, our country has very strict laws and regulations in place in order to ensure the safety and well-being of all Pokémon who participate in battle under a trainer's guidance.
No matter the relationship between a human owner and his or her Pokémon, each and every one of you are bound by law to treat yours with respect and care. Pokémon are not to be used as tools for financial gain or fame, their abilities are not to be used as weapons to settle personal differences, and above all, as trainers, no matter what level of competition you all ultimately reach, you are obligated to treat your Pokémon responsibly and with care, as if they were a member of your own immediate family.
Remember, these beautiful and wondrous creatures possess amazing powers that we humans simply do not. All too often, I think our race takes for granted just how extraordinary they are. I urge you all to resist this tendency and remember... “Pocket Monsters” truly are amazing creatures that deserve reverence and respect.
Now... with that, I congratulate you all! You have completed your annual certification classes and are now fully certified for Pokémon trainer-ship for the next year! I'm sure I'll see many of you once the school year begins! Good luck to you all!
As desk chairs all across the large, florescently-lit class room began to screech across the tile floor and the eruption of voices began, fourteen-year-old Milo Young abruptly awoke from his where his head had been resting on the smooth desk top. He blinked the sleep from his amber-colored eyes and wiped away a dribble of drool trying to escape from his mouth. He sat up and ran his hands across his black buzz-cut hair, and once his eyes had focused, he remembered where he was:
Viridian Academy, the prep school where he would be attending in the fall as a first-year student and site of the summer Pokémon trainer certification classes required for any student hoping to try out for the school's battling team.
“Wow. Thank god, that's over!” the bulky, blue-eyed boy with shaggy brown hair seated snugly in the desk next to Milo said in a loud voice as the large congregation of teenagers all around the two rushed to exit the classroom. “That lecture was so boring... worse than school even!”
Milo chuckled a bit at the comment his best friend, Andy Morrow, had made but didn't say anything. He, who was much smaller and skinnier than Andy, calmly stood up from his desk chair and began packing his notebooks and pen, which he hadn't even bothered to open or uncap, back into his school bag.
More a formality than actually informative or interesting, the summer long classes that the two boys had been attending had been taught by Mr. Anthony Roberts, the dreadfully monotone and repetitious Pokémon studies teacher at Viridian Academy, whom both the boys hoped to avoid having as a teacher when the semester began in a few weeks. The certification lectures certainly weren't fun for many of the teenagers, but were a necessary evil every summer if they wished to be trainers for the school.
“I mean, seriously! Think of how much of our summer we wasted being cooped up in this damn classroom every week!” Andy, the ever-boisterous one, continued on, still slouching at his desk.
“The class is required,” Milo reminded his friend as he took up his backpack and slung it over his shoulder. “And it's over now, anyway. Besides, it was only once a week... It wasn't so bad.”
“Easy for you to say! You just napped the whole time,” the husky boy replied with a laugh. “I don't get it. I didn't think you even wanted to try out. Why would you wanna suffer through this every week if you aren't even gonna try to make the team?”
“I don't know. I still might try out. I got a few weeks left to decide. Mom's just been on my ass to get up and out of the house... she wants me to get 'involved' now that I'm gonna be in high school.” Milo rolled his eyes as he spoke about his mother's nagging.
“Damn it, Milo!” Andy screeched in loose, high-pitched imitation of the voice of Milo's mother. “All you ever do is sit in your bedroom and play those stupid video games all day! You're not in elementary school anymore... it's time to give up those childish things and do something with your life!”
Both boys laughed at the Andy's over-dramatic, fun-loving impression as they finished packing their things and prepared to leave to enjoy the remainder of their summer vacation before they would have to return for the school year.
“So what's the plan for tonight, Lo?” the sandy-haired teen asked as he maneuvered his wide body out of the desk and stood. “Where're we gonna watch the game, your place or mine?”
“Um... Doesn't matter. I guess–”
“What game?” a soft yet firm female voice from behind where the two boys were standing suddenly interrupted before Milo could fully respond.
Milo and Andy turned and were surprised to see a spindly, carrot orange-haired girl standing casually before them with her lime-green backpack slung over her shoulder. She had her hands on her hips and smiled as though she had known the boys all her life.
Both of them looked at the skinny girl with blank stares. They recognized her wildly frizzy orange hair – which was only barely being tamed by the ponytail it was tied back into – from class, but they had never spoken to her and were slightly taken aback by the way she had butted into their conversation so randomly.
“What game are you guys talking about?” the girl repeated, apparently not the least bit aware that most normal conversations between strangers usually started off with words like, 'Hello,' or 'Hi, nice to meet you.'
“Are you serious?!” Andy finally demanded in his familiar less-than-delicate tone of voice when the absurdity of the question had finally registered with him. “What, were you born under a freaking rock?”
“What?” she asked, looking confused at the boy's reaction.
“Uh... The KPL championship game is tonight,” Milo said in a gentler tone than his friend, although he was also completely stunned that the girl wasn't aware of the match that millions of people worldwide would be watching later that evening. “Greenburgh versus Golden Valley... from Indigo Plateau.”
“Oh,” the girl replied, sounding unimpressed. “I'm just not much of a sports fan, I guess.”
Although he didn't say so out loud, Milo would have been able to guess that this girl wasn't a sports fan from a mile away. She had an incredibly homely and bookwormish appearance. Her dingy gray knee-length skirt and black oversized wool sweater didn't exactly reflect the latest in teen fashion, and something about her told him that she was more of a studious type of person than someone who followed what was going on in popular culture.
“So, you mean the name, 'Hugo Bowers,' doesn't mean anything to you then?” Andy asked, still looking amazed.
“Uh... Bowers? Um... No, sorry. It's an funny sounding name, that's for sure... I'm guessing that he's playing in the big game tonight, though. Right?”
“Come on! You're not being serious. You've never heard of Hugo Bowers?! The best battler in the... Are you... Ugh!” Andy stammered as he threw his hands up in utter disbelief before storming out of the classroom. “What fucking planet are you from?” he muttered loudly as he stormed out.
Milo hoped but didn't think that Andy's comment went unheard by the girl, but she didn't react to it regardless. He shoved his hands into his jeans pockets as the awkward silence resonated inside the now empty classroom. He felt incredibly uncomfortable standing alone with her, not knowing at all what to say. The girl didn't help matters, as she didn't speak at all either. She seemed to revel in the painful silence. Milo actually found himself in these sorts of situations a lot, especially in school growing up. Socializing with his peers, especially strangers, was definitely not a strength of his.
Finally, after a few moments, the boy didn't know what else to do. He forced a weak smile and nodded politely at the girl before rushing off to follow his friend out the door.
“What the hell was up with that chick?!” Andy crowed as soon as Milo had caught up to him in the locker-lined hallway of Viridian Academy's first floor. Despite the fact that school wouldn't be in session for another few weeks, there was a fair number of people loitering in the halls following the lecture. There would be a lot of people trying out for the team this year, it seemed.
“I mean, it's one thing to not follow battling. But, seriously... how can you not have at least heard of Bowers? Everyone knows who Hugo Bowers is!”
“Yeah, and why was she even in the class if she obviously doesn't follow battling?” Milo replied as the pair made their way towards the front doors to leave. “Think she's trying out for the girl's team?”
“Whatever,” Andy said, shaking his head. “Who cares? Let's just get home. We've got a fricken long walk ahead of us. Is it okay if I come over to your place to watch the game? There's no food at my house.”
“Yeah, I'm sure my mom won't care. Lemme just give her a call and tell her to make a little extra for dinner.”
Milo reached into his pants pockets for his cell phone, but they were empty. He checked the front pocket of the black hooded sweatshirt he was wearing, but there was nothing in there either.
“Oh, crap, I must've forgotten my phone back in the classroom. Hold on. Be right back,” Milo said as he turned to walk back towards the room. He desperately hoped that weird girl would be gone by now.
“Ugh! Hurry up, dude! Game starts in a few hours!” his friend growled.
“Don't worry!” Milo shouted over his shoulder as he took off running down the hall. “I'll meet you – Oof!”
After he had made it only a few strides down the hall, the fourteen-year-old felt like he had run into a brick wall. Both feet flew up in the air, and he landed with a thud on the hard floor, loud enough to attract the attention of the dozens of students that had been lingering in the hallway after class.
At first, Milo felt embarrassed more than anything else as he laid sprawled out on the cold and dusty floor. What had he run into? What a way to make a first impression on his future classmates, he thought to himself. He felt everyone's eyes on him. This made him feel even more nervous than he normally was around people he didn't know.
Not knowing what else to do to salvage his dignity, the boy climbed slowly to his feet, trying his best to not let the throbbing pain he was feeling in his back show on his face. He resisted the urge to groan in agony and tried to play it cool as he brushed the dust off himself.
“Hey, man,” a deep voice spoke groggily from beside him on the floor. “Watch where ya' going!”
Milo looked down and saw instantly what he had run into. A large, strong-jawed older teen in a green and blue Viridian Academy letterman jacket slowly stood up. Milo felt like the broad-shouldered young man's shadow was swallowing him up as he towered over him.
“Oh, my... my bad,” Milo said a bit nervously. He didn't know who this guy was, but he did know that he was huge and didn't look happy to have been crashed into.
“In a hurry for something?” the tall teen asked, rubbing his backside and looking annoyed.
“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!”
Both boys looked over to see Andy rushing over to their side with a horrified look on his round face. His blue eyes were wide as pokéballs as he ran up to them, huffing and puffing.
“Holy shit, Milo! Watch where you're going!” he shouted at his friend before quickly turning his attention to the older teen whom Milo had run into. “Are you all right, Mr. Lucas? I'm sorry for my friend's carelessness. He's a bit of a klutz. He... I mean, we... would never try to offend someone with your awesome... amazing battling skills, man. Let me help you pick up your things! Are you sure you're okay?”
Andy, wiping the sweat from his sandy-colored bangs, looked a little like a star-struck schoolgirl as he addressed the older teen and feverishly tried to brush the dirt off of his jacket for him. He then fell to his knees and began feverishly crawling all around the floor to gather his fallen belongings for him. Both Milo and the older boy looked more than puzzled. Milo had never seen Andy act so weird in the presence of someone who wasn't a girl before.
“Uh... thanks, dude,” the hulking boy said after Andy had returned all the fallen items into his backpack for him. “I'll see you guys around.”
With that, the teen took his bag from Andy and walked off down the hall, leaving the two younger boys to stand alone, with many bystanders now staring at both of them.
“Let's fucking go!” Andy snarled as he picked up Milo's cell phone from the floor, which had apparently been in his backpack the whole time, and had fallen out upon impact. Andy handed the phone back to Milo, grabbed his arm and pulled him towards the exit.
“What was that about?” Milo stopped and asked when they had escaped the small crowd gathered in that section of the hallway. He was still confused about his friend's strange actions. “You practically had your lips glued to that guy's butt back there. What's your deal?”
“What's my deal?! What's my deal?! Do you know who you just ran over back there!?”
Milo didn't say anything. He didn't want to admit it, but he was already horrified to have fallen flat on his face in the hall in front of so many of his future schoolmates before summer was even out. Now, Andy was making him even more nervous about it.
“That guy's name was Johnny Lucas,” a female voice suddenly interrupted Milo's silence. “He's Viridian Academy's top battler... two-time all-region player of the year... led Viridian Academy to the conference championship last year... the list of awards go on and on.”
The two teens looked over their shoulders and saw the frizzy orange-haired girl once again, leaning up against one of the lockers, looking casual once again.
“The creepy eavesdropping girl is right, Lo,” Andy said, too distraught to realize how insensitive he sounded. “Johnny is the king of this school, dude! And you almost broke his neck! We're never going to get in with his crew now! Heck, we might not even make the team now! We're destined to be losers before school even starts!”
Milo rolled his eyes. Andy had the tendency to get very dramatic in times of very minor difficulty. He always thought his friend would make a perfect actor and might be better served trying out for the school play rather than the battle team.
“I don't think you molesting Johnny and crawling all around his feet like a Weedle on the floor helped matters either, big guy,” Milo retorted with a slight chuckle. Inside, he was a bit worried that what Andy had said was true. Milo was scared enough with the idea of attending a new school without the new prospect of alienating himself from the 'cool kids' before the school year even started. But he didn't want Andy or the strange red-haired girl to know how nervous he really felt.
“So, your name is Andy,” the girl said suddenly, gesturing towards the larger of the two boys. Her tone of voice made it sound like more of a statement than a question. “That much I got, but what's your name?”
“Milo. Milo Young,” he replied, actually a bit glad that the girl had changed the subject, despite how seemingly weird or awkward it seemed that she had forced her way into their conversation for a second time. “What's yours?”
The girl looked pleased to hear Milo ask. “I'm Isabella Cunningham. My mom calls me, Izzy. I'm from right here in Viridian City. I'll be a first-year student here in the fall.”
Despite the fact that Isabella seemed quirky and a little unorthodox with her people-skills, Milo figured she was harmless. He smiled politely.
“You guys seem like first-years as well,” Izzy continued, returning the smile. “Where are you guys from?”
“We're both from Oak Grove,” Milo said simply.
“Oh, so just a few miles away. That's nice. Well, it'll be fun going to school together this year. Are you both trying out for the battling team?”
“Of course,” Andy said, still sounding a bit unfriendly and impatient as he tried to inaudibly signal to Milo that they should ditch the girl and leave. “Why else would we be here during the summer?”
“Oh, well I'm not trying out for the team... and I'm here, aren't I?”
“I just think the classes are interesting. I love learning about Pokémon, so it's been fun to listen to Mr. Roberts' lectures. What better way to spend a summer?” she said with a whimsical grin.
“I can think of about a thousand ways,” Andy mumbled as he rolled his eyes again.
“Are you guys good, then?” Izzy asked, apparently still oblivious to Andy's unfriendliness and desire to return home quickly. “Good battlers, I mean... if you're trying out for the team, do you think you'll make it?”
“I'm pretty good, I guess... we'll see,” Andy said, giving the girl his full attention for the first time with the mention of battling. “I've been on Oak Grove's youth team for a few years, but battling is kind of lame until you get to high school... I mean, they won't even let you use or train your own Pokémon until you're fourteen. And the ones they gave us to battle with were lame! Last year, I had to go the entire season with a stupid Pichu. It didn't even know how to do any electric attacks.”
“Oh, how cute! Oh my god! I bet it was cute, the Pichu. Was it cute?!” Izzy squealed maniacally, talking almost too fast to understand.
Both Milo and Andy took a subconscious step backward away from the girl and looked at one another with astonished expressions. They could both see, even though they hadn't known Izzy for more than ten minutes, that she was incredibly... different, to say the least.
“Uh... cute? Yeah... yeah, I guess,” Andy replied, not knowing how else to respond.
“What about you Milo? You think you'll make the team?”
Milo paused. He tried to think of something worthwhile to say. Even though he didn't see Izzy as someone who he desperately wanted to impress, he didn't want to tell her that he was only attending the summer certification at the insistence of his mother. But before he could come up with anything, his best friend spoke for him.
“Milo's still deciding if he wants to try out for the team. He's a newbie, but he's a smart guy, so I think he could make it, maybe. His mom made him come to the classes so he wouldn't just play video games all summer.”
“Thanks,” Milo said sarcastically to his friend.
“Oh, well that was nice of your mom,” the dreamy-eyed girl replied. “I think you should try out, Milo. You look like a very trustworthy guy. You'd be a great trainer.”
None of the three teens spoke for a few moments. The two boys were having a hard time figuring out Izzy's peculiar personality. She seemed to be all over the place in terms of her conversation and emotions.
“Well, we'd really better be leaving now. We've got a long walk ahead of us,” Andy finally said. “It was nice to meet you, Emmy.”
“Whatever, see ya.”
“Bye, Izzy,” Milo called back over his shoulder as Andy quickly led him away and out the front doors of the school.
“You think everyone at this school's gonna be that weird?” Andy said as soon as they stepped outside and began walking home. “She was insane! Ten bucks says she's gonna be the biggest loser in school. I hope no one saw us talking to her.”
Milo didn't respond. He didn't want to talk about it. He was more concerned about his and Andy's less than dignified behavior in the hallway in front of Viridian's most famous prep athlete more so than being seen with someone like Izzy.
“Who do you think's gonna win tonight?” Milo asked, trying his best to change the subject.
“Greenburgh, easily,” Andy replied positively as the two began the long walk down the scenic, dirt roads towards Oak Grove. “Golden Valley has some good battlers, but Bowers is just unbeatable.”
“Yeah, I think so too.”
Hugo Bowers, the world-famous professional battler for the Greenburgh Lightning, was widely considered the most talented trainer in Kanto Pokémon League history and one of the most recognizable celebrities in the world because of his dark, handsome features and his superhero aura. He and his devastatingly powerful Arcanine had become iconic in the world of entertainment during their eleven-year professional careers.
“Did you see online that he's going to make some big announcement at halftime?” Milo asked his friend as they took a short cut towards home through a barely worn path through the leafy green forest near Oak Grove's outskirts.
“Yeah, they mentioned it on the news last night. I wonder what the big announcement is.”
“You think he's going to announce his retirement or something?”
“Oh god, I hope not. Why would he retire? He's the best freaking trainer in the world right now! And his team is about to win the championship again.”
“Yeah, I don't know. Guess we're gonna find out, though.”
“Yeah, the game starts in a little over an hour. We'd better haul ass,” Andy said, looking at his wrist watch.
With that, the two friends took off in a full sprint towards their hometown. Milo, the faster of the two, laughing at his huskier friend who was lumbering along to keep up.
When the duo finally reached the Young household, a small blue, box-like little farm house located in the heart of the small town, the boys were greeted at the front door by a loud barking noise. Before Milo could even shut door behind him and Andy and take his shoes off, a small, furry creature came running across the maple hardwood floors into the entry way and leaped into the boy's arms.
“Hey, Fawks,” Milo chuckled as his energetic baby Vulpix licked his face lovingly with its hot tongue. “Glad to see you too, girl.”
He carried the four-month-old family pet with him as he and Andy raced into the cozy, carpeted living room to turn on the television. They plopped down beside each other on the Youngs' ragged brown couch while Fawks curled up in between them. The only light sources in the room came from the small, dying fire still lingering in the brick-lined fireplace across the room and now, the white, ambient glow of the television.
Both Milo and Andy could feel the adrenaline rushing through their veins. Only about five minutes until the start of the Kanto Pokémon League Championship match.
“Hey boys, how was class?” a warm, female voice chimed from the kitchen, interrupting the boys' excitement.
“It sucked, Ms. Young,” Andy called out without looking up from the T.V. “Sure am glad it's over.”
Milo's mother, Cindy, laughed at the boy's candor as she entered the living room carrying a large tray on her raced palm like a waitress. Even in the dimly lit living room, her shoulder-length, curly black hair could be seen as disheveled and her green apron was dusted with flour, obvious signs that she had been busy cooking.
Instantly the aroma of her work filled the small area, summoning the boys' full attention. Both looked up and grinned widely when Milo's mother set down a large cheese pizza in front of them on the old wooden coffee table.
“Can't watch the game on the empty stomach,” she announced. “Just don't get sauce on the carpet.”
“We won't,” Andy mumbled, his mouth already full with his first bite of hot pie.
Both boys thanked Milo's mom for the food and ate eagerly until the male announcer's distinct voice on the television indicated that the match was finally going to begin.
“... Greenburgh has won the coin toss, and will begin our match tonight. The Lightning will of course, lead off with legendary battler, Hugo Bowers, the regular season MVP, followed by their normal lineup of Daunte Whitworth, Nikola Dragic, Blake Williams and Rodney Jenkins.
“The Golden Valley Warriors will counter with a lineup led by their All-star, Jordan Wagner. He will start off against Bowers and will be followed by Jefferson Jones, Lance Bagley, DeMario Hewitt and Melvin Weaver...”
“Bowers and Arcanine are gonna take out all five of 'em!” Andy said enthusiastically after the lineups were announced and the competitors' photos flashed upon the screen for the millions of viewers to see.
Milo chuckled, but didn't say anything to his exuberant friend as he stroked the sleeping Fawks' fur. He was too focused on the history that was about to unfold at spectacular Champions Stadium in Indigo City to discuss the match. In a few hours, there would be a new champion of Kanto. Would Hugo Bowers and the Greenburgh Lightning add to their decade-long legacy or would the underdog Golden Valley Warriors stage the biggest upset in years?
Bowers would be Greenburgh's lead-off man, going up against the Warriors' Jordan Wagner. In KPL play, teams consisted of five trainers each, each wielding one single Pokémon. Opposing trainers go head-to-head with one another, starting with each team's lead-off battler. Once a battler's one Pokémon is defeated, he is then eliminated. The first team to defeat all five of its opponents' battlers is the winner.
Greenburgh had made it to the finals on the coat tails of Bowers, whom Milo had seen defeat all five of his opponents' members by himself in many matches during his career. He was unquestionably the best in the league, and would give his Lightning a sure advantage in tonight's big game.
“... And here we go!” the T.V. announcer's exciting bellow interrupted Milo's thoughts.
Both he and Andy scooted closer to the edge of their seats on the couch as they watched the match begin.
Bowers, a tall and stoic man with dark eyes and black spiked hair, stood tall at his end with all the towering stadium lights and camera flashbulbs from all around the stadium's vast bowl illuminating the battlefield from above. He wore the emerald-colored uniform of the Greenburgh Lightning proudly as he looked confidently out at the enormous crowd packing Champions Stadium.
The camera then panned over to Bowers' opponent: Jordan Wagner, a muscular man with long, flowing blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. His gold and white uniform looked clean and pressed as he too stood like a broad-shouldered statue, waiting for the referee to signal for the start of the match.
“... Let the battle begin!”
Bowers instantly threw the small red and white metallic sphere he had been holding onto the concrete field in front of him like a baseball pitcher. The pokéball bounced once on the ground before bursting open with a spectacular flash of blinding white light, and the legend's familiar battler appeared in its wake. The magnificent creature's gorgeous, shimmering orange and black striped coat of fur looked radiant on screen as he roared loudly, signaling that he too was ready to fight.
Milo loved the way the pro trainers always revealed their Pokémon before battle by releasing them from their pokéball in such dramatic fashion before matches. He figured it was mostly for T.V. and the viewing audience because it was rather pointless to do, but it was cool and exciting nonetheless.
Wagner followed suit, releasing his 'pocket monster' from its ball and onto the field. After the white flash from his pokéball had dissipated, the Pokémon belonging to Golden Valley's lead-off battler was revealed as well.
The beast that emerged from the light was enormous. It towered over Bowers' Arcanine and gave a roar so loud that it was totally audible even to Milo and Andy on television. The two boys gasped when they saw the huge, blue serpentine monster with razor sharp fangs appear on the screen. The crowd went crazy upon its appearance and the intensity and frequency of the flashbulbs exploded throughout the arena.
“Yep,” Andy answered, sounding amazed at what he saw. “A Gyarados!”
“I didn't know Wagner had one of those! I didn't even think it was possible to catch one of those things!”
“Yeah, I don't know... Holy shit, though! Do you think Bowers might lose?! Not only does Wagner somehow have a fucking Gyarados, but he's got the type-advantage over Arcanine!”
“Water over fire,” Milo said ominously. He didn't know a whole lot about the science of Pokémon... he wasn't particularly interested in them beyond watching them battle... but he knew from following the KPL that water-type beasts did seem to have an advantage over fire-type ones. And he also knew that wild Gyarados were incredibly rare and powerful and that they were considered almost uncatchable because of it. Would this be enough for Wagner and the Warriors to actually beat Bowers?
The two teens didn't have a chance to discuss further however, as Bowers made the first move. Seeming totally unfazed by Wagner's surprise Pokémon, the Lightning's leader commanded his trusted fiery beast to open the round with a mighty fire-attack.
Arcanine roared again and bared his razor-sharp teeth at his opponent. And then, like a flash, an enormous jet of orange and red fire exploded out of his open jaws. Like a fiery wave, the flame blasted Wagner's Gyarados directly in the face, causing the sea dragon to screech and writhe in pain. Parts of the animal's face were charred and blackened with soot.
As the crowd reacted to the powerful attack, Wagner's serpent shook off the pain and lifted her long body vertically so that she was towering over Arcanine even more. A banshee-like scream ensued and like a cracking whip, she shot her head down towards Arcanine and bit the quadrupedal beast in the abdomen before he could leap out of the way. The speed with which Gyarados struck was truly awe-inspiring.
The camera showed Hugo Bowers looking uncharacteristically concerned as his Arcanine whimpered in pain, staggering backwards. Red teeth marks were visible on his body and were starting to ooze blood, but the fire-type tried his best to ignore them, and the battle waged on.
“You see how fast that thing is?!” Andy shouted at the television when he saw the lightning quick whip of Gyarados' bite attack.
“Wow,” was all Milo could manage in response.
For much of the match, Arcanine and Gyarados danced around the field like two heavyweight boxers, circling around, keeping the same amount of space in between them, each looking for an opening to strike. Bowers was able to land a few minor fire attacks here and there, but as a water-type creature, Wagner's monster wasn't affected too severely.
Both creatures were much quicker and more agile than their enormous size would have indicated. Arcanine was an orange blur as he swiftly dodged dozens of snake-like strikes from Gyarados. His striped fur was matted and wet from blood, however, and it was unclear as to how much longer Bowers' creature could hold up. One thing was for sure to Milo, Andy and everyone across the globe who was watching: this was the toughest match Bowers and Arcanine had had in years. Fans weren't used to seeing the legendary pair have so much trouble in the first round of any battle before.
Several more of Arcanine's attempts to swipe at Gyarados' fleshy underbelly with his sickle-like claws failed, as the scaly beast was able to elude them each and every time with its squirming movements. The concrete of the field was beginning to look more like a crater-filled moon than a playing surface after all the maneuvering by the two large 'pocket monsters.'
The noise in the stadium was getting louder and louder with anticipation. Arcanine looked exhausted from all of its missed attacks coupled with all the running around he had been doing to avoid the serpent's strikes. His eyes were drooping and his chest was heaving he stood ready for the next onslaught.
“Oh my god! He's gonna lose!” Andy had moved from his spot at the edge of the couch and was literally crouching nervously on the floor about two feet away from the television, chewing his fingernails like they were candy.
Milo was just about to tell his friend to have faith in Bowers, when Jordan Wagner's Gyarados made her move. Still with much the same level of quickness as the beginning of the match, the slithering monster managed to coil herself around the tired Arcanine and tightened her grip around his body like a noose.
Bowers looked shocked to see his partner's eyes bulging from the pain of being constricted. Arcanine obviously was unable to move or free himself as he was now being lifted up and off the ground by Gyarados' crushing tail.
The crowd had suddenly fallen silent. Was this it? Was the mighty Hugo Bowers and his unbeatable Arcanine about to lose in the first round? Would Jordan Wagner and the Golden Valley Warriors stage the upset? While Greenburgh was a solid team overall, their four remaining battlers were no where near Bowers' skill level, and they would be hard pressed to win if their leader lost so quickly.
Milo and Andy couldn't believe what they were watching. They were used to seeing Arcanine dominate his opponents with relative ease. Now, they were watching him desperately wriggling in mid-air while being strangled nearly to death. It was like everything was moving in slow motion.
But suddenly, something amazing happened. The television showed Bowers mouth something to his fighter, and almost instantly, the trapped Pokémon's dark sunken eyes began to glow bright yellow and wild bolts of electricity began emanating from Arcanine's jagged fur.
The jolt of lightning stunned Gyarados who was instantly forced to release her hold on the fire-type beast. Arcanine fell to the ground and landed on his feet. Before Wagner could react, the fiery animal gritted his teeth and shot the bolts of electricity that had been coursing through his body at Gyarados in the form of a devastating ray of raw energy.
The dragon shrieked in agony before falling to the ground. The crowd was stunned. Silence rang out almost louder than any cheers or applause could. Even Milo and Andy were speechless as they watched what had happened on the T.V.
“How... how did Arcanine do that?” Milo asked without daring to look away from the screen.
“Bowers taught him an electric attack?!” Andy replied, sounding in utter amazement. “I didn't even know fire-types could learn electric attacks!”
“Why did that one attack hurt Gyarados so much?”
“Well, think about it, Lo. Electric attacks are devastating to water-type Pokémon.”
Andy didn't have to explain further. The boys watched as Wagner's battler took the brunt of the lightning bolt and looked disoriented as she swayed back and forth. The intensity of the electricity was amazing, and when it had finally dissipated, it was clear that it had taken a lot out of Arcanine as well. He was barely able to continue standing after the draining attack.
Finally, as if everything was moving in slow motion, the giant sea serpent crashed to the ground, causing a huge cloud of dust and loose concrete to kick up into the air. Down went Gyarados... and she did not get up.
“Gyarados goes down! Arcanine and Bowers with a HUGE comeback in Round One!” the television announcer screamed, sounding equally as amazed and excited as the deafening crowd to witness such a sudden turn of events.
Milo and Andy fell back onto the couch. Neither of them had realized that they had been standing with their fists clenched with anxiousness. What an incredible move Arcanine had managed to pull off!
“Fucking incredible,” Andy sighed.
Much of the excitement of the battle soon wore off as Arcanine, even in his fatigued state, was still strong enough to defeat Golden Valley's next two trainers, Jefferson Jones and his Nidoking, and Lance Bagley and his Charmeleon. Without question, the key matchup in the championship had been Bowers versus Wagner, and now that Golden Valley's first three battlers had gone down, Greenburgh's victory was all but sealed as the two teams went into the locker rooms for the intermission.
“Well, Greenburgh's got it in the bag,” Milo said, reaching for the last slice of now-cold pizza.
“Yeah, three-nothing is gonna be hard to come back from considering the rest of Golden Valley's team besides Wagner sucks. I don't know how they even got to the championship. Rockford should have made it... it would've been a better match.”
The two boys relaxed on the couch while the T.V. network aired several commercials. Milo, who wasn't all the interested to watch the second half of the game anymore now that the result was all but inevitable, considered going upstairs to his bedroom to play his video games, but didn't want anymore ridicule from Andy than he normally got for being a “computer nerd.”
Instead, the two boys laughed about the strange red-headed girl from class that they had met earlier that day. Andy was in the middle of a hilarious impersonation of the nasally-sounding girl when the television announcer once again stole their attention.
“... And now, as many of you at home have probably heard, the legendary Hugo Bowers has a special announcement for everyone who considers themselves a fan of Pokémon training...”
“Whoa! I almost forgot!” Milo said.
“Yeah, I bet he's announcing his retirement. It would be fitting, especially after tonight. Nothing like going out on top. He's had a helluva career.”
The two boys watched as Hugo Bowers' familiar chiseled face appeared on the screen. It was clearly a pre-taped segment because Bowers was not in his Greenburgh battling uniform and he appeared to be sitting in some sort of office or studio as he smiled dashingly at the camera.
“I would like to first thank all of the KPL fans out there who are watching tonight for their continued support of our great league,” Bowers said, sounding as though his speech was rehearsed. “It is a real honor to battle in front of the best fans in the world.
“There have been many rumors floating out there as to what this announcement is about. But I can assure you... it is not my intention to announce my retirement from the KPL tonight. I still enjoy competing and feel that my Pokémon and I still have what it takes to play at the level necessary to represent the great city of Greenburgh.”
“I told you he wasn't retiring!” Andy shouted triumphantly. Milo just rolled his eyes.
“... No, tonight's announcement is nothing like that, though it does involve the Kanto Pokémon League, which is why I chose tonight... the biggest night in the KPL calender... for this message.
“And now without further ado, it is my pleasure to introduce to all of the country, the Kanto League Superstar Competition!”
Bowers paused for effect even though everyone watching was sure to be confused about what exactly the Kanto League Superstar Competition was. Andy and Milo didn't say anything. The sound of it was certainly interesting.
“...Now, I'm sure all of you at home are wondering just what the competition entails,” Bowers said with sly grin.
“No shit,” Andy scoffed impatiently at the screen.
“Shh!” Milo scolded.
“... Well, the Kanto League Superstar Competition will essentially be a huge, nation-wide talent search. It is a contest that my friends and I will be putting on in hopes of unearthing the best amateur Pokémon battling talent in all of Kanto!
“Starting in three weeks, all aspiring trainers, ages fourteen to eighteen, who wish to participate, will spend the next calender year traveling all across Kanto with the goal of assembling and training their own team of Pokémon to compete in battles, with the goal of spending that time to foster and nurture the close knit relationship between trainer and Pokémon that is necessary for success in battling.
“Throughout the yearlong duration of this competition, participants will be asked to scour the country in order to find and defeat all seven of my employed 'bosses' in order to gauge their progress. These seven 'bosses' will be scattered all around the country, and will battle anyone who finds them, identifies them, and challenges them as part of this contest. Trainers who are able to defeat any one of them will be awarded a special coin that certifies that they have done so.
“I assure you, this will be no easy task however, as the seven trainers I have chosen are world-class caliber and will take no mercy on those who have not developed the necessary skills. However, by the end of the year, any trainers that are able to successfully collect all seven coins from all seven 'bosses,' will be eligible to enter the Kanto Superstar Tournament, to be held right here at Champions Stadium.”
Milo and Andy both gasped at the prospect of battling on the very same field as Hugo Bowers, Jordan Wagner and the other superstars of the KPL. Aside from that, however, neither boy made a sound. They were totally enthralled with Bowers' amazing competition announcement.
“The tournament will be an monumental media event, televised and marketed as an amazing competition of the world's top amateur talent, and its competitors will be made into instant stars... with the winner of this truly epic contest being awarded with his or her very own professional contract with the Greenburgh Lightning of the KPL!”
Milo and Andy nearly fell off the couch. A real professional contract with Bowers' team!? The winner of this contest would win the right to call Hugo Bowers... THE Hugo Bowers... a teammate?!
“... So, as I leave you here tonight to enjoy the second half of the KPL Championship, I urge anyone out there who dreams of success and happiness to pursue those dreams by participating in this once-in-a-lifetime oppotunity! Whatever your background, your age, your socioeconomic situation... everyone has equal opportunity to realize their dreams... for it is not the size of your muscles, the volume of your voice, or the level of skill that will determine whether you succeed or fail... it is the measure of your heart and desire...”
And with that, the pre-taped video of Bowers' announcement disappeared from the television, and the second half of the KPL championship resumed... although at this point after what they had just seen regarding the enchanting national teenage talent search Bowers had just introduced to the world, Milo Young and Andy Morrow could not have possibly cared any less.