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Disclaimer: I don't own Pokemon, etc., etc., etc. I do own the story and Max Oak and Danielle. Copy them at your own risk. (Not one you want to take when confronting a dragon. Trust me.) - Andrew Dice (AKA SpacedOutDragon)

The Journeys of Lance Ketchum
Book One: The Pokemon Trainer
By Andrew Dice



This is incredible, Lance thought. He had never been outside of Pallet Town before, and now he was astounded by what he saw. In comparison to Pallet, Viridian City was huge. The buildings, the cars, the girls (not that Lance was thinking of cheating on Christine) all made the place much more than Pallet Town. But at the same time, Lance wasn't too impressed with this place. In Pallet, you could know almost the whole town. Here, it was impossible. The city was far too large.
After getting over the initial shock of Viridian, Lance realised that it was time to do something he had been dreading ever since he left Pallet with one more Pokemon than he should have had. He needed to call Professor Oak and settle the matter of Drag, the world's only known Dratini. Tragic business for Lance, but he suspected that Oak would hit the roof - not to mention contact the authorities - if Lance tried to keep Drag. So Lance made his way to the Pokemon Center.
When he got to the Pokemon Center, he first gave Volvagia and Drag to the resident nurse for some rejuvination. They had trained fantastically over the last four days, although they were definitely showing signs of weariness. There was a slight droop in Drag's ears, and Volvagia's tail flame was defintely dimmer than when they left Pallet.
The nurse was shocked that a DRATINI had been given to her by an ameteur trainer, but she didn't say anything. She went off to rejuvenate them, while Lance walked over to the area where the video phones were. He punched in the number for the Oak labratory, then waited. In a moment, the phone was answered by Oak's balding, bespectacled assistant, Webster.
"Mr. Ketchum! Prof. Oak has been expecting a call from you! Wait a moment!" Webster then hurried out of the camera's view. A minute or so later, Oak himself appeared before the camera.
"Lance! I was wondering when you would call! How's the Dratini?" Oak didn't sound angry, much to Lance's surprise.
Lance gulped. "First, professor, I've got to tell you that..."
"...You didn't mean to take it? We figured that out! It followed you!" Oak finished. Lance was pleased Oak wasn't angry.
"Well, I'll be sending it back as soon as it's healed... I hope you don't mind my training it a little..." Lance was still extremely nervous, as he had expected Oak to blow up.
"About that Dratini... Lance, I've been thinking. Since it followed you, I actually think that it might be best if it stays with you. It seems to have chosen you."
Lance jumped up and punched the air at this. "YESSS!!! THANKS, PROFESSOR!"
"Promise me one thing, though."
"Name it."
"I'm letting you have it on the trust that you will take EXTREMELY good care of it. If I find out it's been mistreated in any way, I'm reclaiming it. Also, you will keep track of what moves it learns, how it fights, etc. Right?"
"Good. In that case, enjoy your Dratini! Speaking of dragons, though, how's that Charmander I gave you?"
"He's doing great! Even though he's a Charmander, he seems to have the heart of a Charizard!"
"I thought so. He's the one you saw me treating the other day. He didn't even flinch at the idea of getting a shot! A very brave Pokemon. Anyway, good to hear from you, Lance. Good luck!" He was just about to hang up when he started, "OH! Wait, Lance, have you seen Max around anywhere?" Max Oak was Prof. Oak's son.
"Max? Yeah, he and I met just outside Pallet. What's up?"
"Just outside Pallet? Hmmm... he took a Squirtle without even talking to me, and took off! I've been worried sick! Is he OK?
"Uh, he was when I met him. He said that he was going back to Pallet for something."
"Back here? Well, he hasn't been home or in the Lab, at least."
"Heh... he's most likely saying *ahem* good-bye to Danielle." Danielle was Max Oak's girlfriend, and a close friend of Lance's girlfriend. Their relationship was somewhat more... active... than Lance's and Christine's.
"Grrr... if he is, then I'm going to have his hide. He's always been too carefree for his own good..."
"Don't be too hard on him. He seems like he'll be a good trainer."
"He'll be a good trainer, but he needs to be a little more responsible. Well, sorry to ramble on to you. Good day, Lance!" Then, he hung up.
All this talk of Max's sex life had gotten Lance thinking about Christine (not in THAT sense, though.) He dialed up Christine's phone number, and to his immense joy, Christine answered.
"LANCE! Finally! I was actually getting worried... you've been gone for four days!"
Lance laughed. "In four days, I covered forty phoneless miles. Give me a little break here, Christine," he finished with a smile.
"I'm not being hard on you, it's just..." she paused, frowning. "I guess I'm just not used to us being seperated for so long. I miss you, Lance..." at the end, she seemed on the verge of tears.
"There, there," Lance said, trying to comfort her over the phone. "I promise I'll return as SOON as I can. In the meantime, have you seen Max? His dad's after his blood," Lance added with a chuckle.
"Oh, missing your other half, are you?" Christine replied, a grin on her face now.
"My other half? What?"
"Oh, come on, Lance. You and Max are SUCH the double act. Grew up together, went to school together... did just about everything together. Met Danielle and I together. But... why is Prof. Oak after Max?"
Lance explained everything. At the end, Christine was a little disgruntled. "I keep telling Danielle to be careful, but she just won't listen. Does she WANT to get pregnant?"
"Most likely."
"LANCE KETCHUM! That's not even funny. She's only 16, like us! She does NOT need to have a baby, especially while Max is away training."
"Yeah... listen, Christine, I know it's late, you must be tired..."
"Mmmm... well, I am a little. Good night, Lance. I love you..."
"And, of course, I love you too," Lance said, kissing the camera in front of him. Christine giggled.
"You always were a little crazy, Lance..."
"If I remeber right, that's why you fell madly in love with me." Christine gave one last smile, and then hung up, leaving Lance a little depressed. He missed Christine as much as Christine missed him. Still, he had his Pokemon for company. Which reminded him, they should be OK by now...
He went over to the nurse's desk, and asked if his Pokemon were finished. She went into a back room, and retrieved his Poke balls containing Drag and Volvagia. Not wanting to spend the night in the Pokemon Center (as it didn't look very comfortable) Lance exited to search for a inexpensive hotel.
Outside, he had to pull his leather jacket close to himself to keep the unseasonably cold air out. It was strange for September to be this cold. Lance had set out later than most because he needed to get some of his schoolwork, etc. in order. Oak had even been so kind as to push back the give out Pokemon date for him. He decided that Drag and Volvagia needed time to strech their legs, after that healing (which was reputed to be a very cramped affair.) With his Pokemon in tow, he walked off.
It wasn't very long before he was stopped by Volvagia calling "Charmander! Charmander!" and pointing back toward Drag. He was shivering like fury. Evidently the cold REALLY didn't agree with it.
Lance ran to Drag's side, and asked, "Drag? You OK?"
"Draaa..." was the response.
"I guess not. OK, Drag, into the Poke ball." With that, he put Drag in his favorite Poke ball. Then Lance turned to Volvagia, asking "How about you, Volvagia? Need a Poke ball too?"
Charmander grinned even wider than usual and replied "Char!" pointing at it's tail fire.
"Yeah, I guess you come with portable heating," Lance said, grinning in turn. "Well, come on, let's find a heated hotel." The duo set off down the road, looking for a decent-looking sleeping establishment. Along the way, Lance had to pull Volvagia away from a poster shop, which had a picture of a very good-looking (or so Lance guessed) female Charizard. After a while, they came to an old house along the road. The two wern't thinking of going in, but were admiring the place. It had clearly been built by a very wealthy family; the brick and wood was all fantastic, and the front windows were (extremely well done) glass mosaic pictures of angels. "Fantastic," Lance admired.
"Char," Volvagia said, with awe in his voice.
"We better keep going, someone will think we're going to rob this house. I wonder who lives here, though..." Lance walked over to the mailbox. "'Lorenzo Giovanni'... hmmm, an Italian guy... 'CEO of Rocket Industries and head trainer, Viridian Gym.' So he's the head trainer here! Too bad I can't fight him, his Pokemon are for VERY advanced trainers only." Volvagia seemed a little put to by this statement. "Not that you're not powerful, Volvagia, but we DON'T want to mess with this guy yet, trust me. Come on," he said, waving his hand. But then Volvagia noticed something else: a little boy, not more than 8 years old, with purple hair and a little Growlithe walking next to him.
"Charmander! Char char!" Volvagia exclaimed, pointing to the boy coming up the street.
"What? Oh... wow, that little kid doesn't look like he's in too great health, does he?" Lance asked. "Still, his parents must be nearby; they'll find him. Come on, Drag, I'm getting seriously tired here."
Volvagia was still a little reluctant, but he was tired too. But as he and Lance walked away, they could both hear a mournful Growlithe cry behind them, followed by an angry man's voice... and then the same voice's laughter a few moments later...


The next day, Lance was considerably less cold. He had found a good inn near the end of the main city, and the fire in the common room heated Drag right up. The weather seemed to have turned much warmer, so Lance decided now was the best time to set out again. He was heading north, toward Pewter City, where he heard there was a Gym designed for beginners to earn their first Pokemon League Qualification Badge.
Outside, the weather was much milder than last night, but it was still nippy. Drag and Volvagia were out of their Pokeballs, and Lance asked Drag: "Is this still too cold for you?"
"Ti-ti," Drag replied, shaking his head. But Lance did note that Drag's ears were sort of twitchy.
As they headed north out of the city, Lance noticed that the landscape was changing into a forest. he realised that he would need to pass though the Viridian Forest to get to Pewter. That was supposed to be a very... funky... place.
As Lance was thinking about all the dangers that they might encounter in the forest, he heard a familiar voice behind him: "Lance! Wait up, dude!"
Lance turned, and saw Max Oak running toward him. Max looked a good deal like his father had, before his father had started going grey. There was the dark brown hair, the slightly oblong face, the dark brown hair, the chestnut eyes, the dark brown hair, the great-looking smile, and finally the dark brown hair. Lance noted the two Pokeballs at his waist.
"Max! How'd you get here so fast? And HOW did you escape your dad?" Lance asked.
Max grinned. "Well, I did some serious travelling after I finished saying... good-bye... to Danielle."
"Yeah, I think I can guess how you said "good-bye.""
"Heh... well, let's keep that to ourselves, shall we?"
"As always. Mind you, if I tried that with Christine she'd probably..."
"...jump right on top of you."
"Come on, she likes you better than Danielle likes me. And that's saying something," Max added as an afterthought. "Anyway, have you been training at all?"
"Somewhat. Drag and Volvagia got some practice on the way..."
It was Lance's turn to grin. "In case you didn't notice, the Dratini followed me. Your dad let me keep it."
Max's eyes went as wide as dinner plates. "WHAT?! Dude, that rules! Way to go!" he said, giving Lance a high five. "I managed to catch a Pokemon myself. Hey, should we have a practice match?"
"Hmmm... I don't see why not."
"Sweet! Well, here we go." Max took the ball farthest from his front. "Go, Nidoran!"
A small, purple, rat-like with spikes on it's back creature came out of the Pokeball. "Niidooo!" it cried.
"Alright... Volvagia, go!" Lance yelled in turn.
Volvagia ran out, roaring (well, roaring as best his little vocal cords could) "CHARMANDER!"
"Nidoran, tackle it!"
"Volvagia, scratch it before it connects!"
Volvagia was a little slow; the result was that he was a little winded and Max's Nidoran (male) had a pretty signifigant scratch on it's right front shoulder.
"Yikes, Nidoran! Ummm... tackle it again!"
Unfortunately for Nidoran, it happened to land on Volvagia's tail, so it got burned fairly badly. Then, inspired, Volvagia turned around and shot a fireball at Nidoran - his first Ember attack.
"An Ember attack! Way to go, Volvagia!"
Nidoran wasn't nearly so impressed, however, since it was now on fire. It was running around mad, while Max whipped out the other Pokeball and shouted (more loudly than was neccessary) "SQUIRTLE, GO!"
Squirtle popped out of it's ball, and immediately saw his comrade's predicament. Without a word from Max, Squirtle doused Nidoran, while giving Volvagia a dirty look.
"Ummm, that didn't work... OK, Nidoran, return." With that, Nidoran was returned to his ball. "OK, Squirtle, do your stuff!"
"SQUIRTLE!" Squirtle replied, moving into a fighting stance.
"Yikes," Lance said in turn. "You stand NO chance here, Volvagia. Return. Show it what you're made of, Drag!"
"Dratini!" Drag said, rearing up to about 5 feet in height.
Squirtle seemed a little intimidated, but still fired off a burst of bubbles at Max's command. The bubbles streaked toward Drag, with enough force to knock a Rattata off it's feet (that's why Bubble slows a target down - they are stunned.) But then the surprise came. The bubbles connected, Drag waivered a little, but then resumed his intimidating pose. He had barely been affected!
"What the?..." Lance muttered as he whipped out his Pokedex. "Did that attack have any real affect on Drag?" He said to the machine.
"The effect was negligable," it replied. "The Dratini appears to be resisant to water attacks."
"What?!" Max shouted. Squirtle looked *really* intimidated now.
"Drag, Wrap it like a present!" Drag bolted into action, wrapping tight around Squirtle. Squirtle practically dissappeared under the coils.
"SQUIRTLE! Come on, try to tackle in there!" Max cried out.
That proved fruitless; Drag was on too tight, and showed no sign of letting go.
"Squirtle!... OK, Lance, enough. Just tell your Dratini to back off, I give!"
Drag seemed to understand without Lance even saying so. He disengaged, but in such a way that Squirtle started spinning like a top. After a few seconds, he fell to the ground, dizzier than a Weedle in a Butterfree's whirlwind.
"Dang, Lance, you've trained them well. My first match, and I barely hurt my opponent!" Max said as he recalled Squirtle.
"Come on, I got lucky in the fact that Drag had a huge, unexpected advantage this time. You'll do better next time," replied Lance, retrieving Drag in turn.
"I hope so. Well, I think this is a hint to train harder. See you later, Lance!"
"Later, Max!" Lance called, as he walked off toward Viridian Forest.