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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


Lance couldn't believe it. It was his. Despite overwhelming odds,he had defeated the Gym leader of Pewter City and earned a Boulderbadge - and entry into the Pokemon League.
"Well, I better get my Pokes over to the Center - that fight couldn't have agreed with them. You better do the same... oh, Yolanda!" Flint finished with a start.
Lance turned around to see who was coming. It was a fairly small woman in her mid-20s. She had deep brown hair, soft eyes, and an illuminating smile. Yet, Lance couldn't get over the feeling that he was looking upon something fragile, like she could break if just a little too much stress was put on her. He was holding a little three-year old, and he seemed bouncy. "Daddy! Daddy! Didja win?" The little boy asked.
"Well, well, look who's feeling zippy!" Flint responded, with the tone of a caring father. He walked over to his wife, saying to the little child "Give me a little room here, shortstuff" (of course meaning it in a friendly way) as he embraced and kissed her. A sound of "Ewww" was heard during it.
"Brock, behave!" Yolanda chastised the little kid, as she and Flint stopped kissing. "Flint... he did ask a good question. How did the match go?" she finished, with a sidelong glance to Lance.
"Completely beaten. This young man here is exceptional - his Charmander beat Onix... speaking of which, say, look at it!"
Lance turned on his heels. When he looked down at Volvagia, he saw his Charmander was glowing. It also seemed to be growing right before his eyes. Then, there was a brilliant flash of fire, which made Lance step back a pace. When the light settled, he beheld a Charmeleon before him. "Volvagia! You've evolved!"
"Meleon!" Volvagia said, as he looked himself over. His claws were substantially longer, and his tail was both longer and the flame on it's tip brighter. His overall skin color was a much darker red, and his voice was more menacing. He loved it. "CHARMELEON!" he yelled, to get a feeling for his new war cry. Lance clapped.
"Wonderful! The fight must have triggered your evolution!" Lance cried out. With a final nod to Volvagia, he recalled him back to the ball.
"Very well fought, lad," Flint said to Lance. Lance turned again to face Flint.
"Lance. Lance Ketchum," responded Lance.
Flint laughed. "We never did truly introduce ourselves, did we? Flint Blackstone. And this is my wife, Yolana, and my kid, Brock."
"How do you do?" Yolanda said to Lance. Lance responded with the same.
"You beat Daddy? No way!" was Brock's hello. Lance just laughed.
"Oh, Flint, the reason I'm here is is that..." she paused, and a look of grief came over her face. "She's crying again. I can't blame her, the poor thing..." she seemed on the verge of tears. Flint embraced her.
"There, there. Be glad we found her alive. It seems she's been through so much..."
"Well, she needs some more attention. Could you help me?"
"Sure... but hold on. My Pokes are badly injured especially Onix..." Flint paused, hoping he had not commited a faux pas. But Yolanda seemed to understand.
"OK... I'll do what I can..."
"I'll take Daddy's Pokeys to the Center!" Brock said suddenly. Flint gave a hearty laugh.
"Well! Feeling grown up, I see! OK, Brock," Flint continued, setting him on the floor, "but be careful. Go straight there and come back, OK?"
"OK!" the little boy said, as he ran off, a Pokeball in each hand.
"Hey, can I be of any help?" Lance said.
"Actually, maybe. Come with me, I'll fill you in..." But as the three walked off, Brock came running back in, Yelling "Daddy! Daddy! People with R's on their shirts are coming!"
"Arrgh, Rocket Industries representives?!" Flint said, with more than a bit of exasperation. "Probably Giovanni!"

The man was walking up the street, toward the rock-like structure. Vulgar, he thought. Why can't these fools put a bit of style into their gyms? Do I have to make things the way they should be myself? he added, all in his head. He was a man in his late thirties, pretty young for a CEO. His features were unmistakeable - raven black hair, beady eyes, a short nose, a great build. He talked with a slight Italian accent, but his voice always was full of force - and if you were paying attention, probably a bit of contempt too. Such a man was Lorenzo Giovanni, head of Rocket Industries.
Rocket Industries hadn't been doing well for years now, ever since the Silphs came to power. Nelson Silph was a tall, southern man with a decided accent. His hair was, oddly enough, purple, and he had a young son as well. But he does not matter now, although we have seen this son before.
Before he came up to the doors of the Gym, where he was sure he would find that idiot Flint, he stopped in his tracks and looked up at (what he thought was) the sickeningly blue sky. "Gah... I hate having to do this myself, especially since we need to walk into town to keep a low profile." His men had stopped, waiting for their boss. They both had red R's on their front undershirts, which were visible under their trench coats. They wore these despite the sunniness. "Flint, you pinhead!" Giovanni yelled to the air, "why do you have to live out here in the middle of nowhere? These jobs are the pits!" He then turned to his cronies, saying. "ER-HEM! There is DIRT on my shoes!"
The two lackeys immediately ran over, kneeled down, and used the cuffs of their coats to "clean" Giovanni's shoes, which in truth were almost sparkling clean. After a few seconds, they rose and said, "Yes, sir! All done, sir!"
Giovanni nodded, then let out an evil laugh that could better be described as a cackle. "Idiots!" he said, and he stormed to the Gym, with the other twits following behind like robots.

Flint stepped outside, looking at the horizon. They were coming all right, he and two of his lackeys. What the heck could Giovanni want this time? Sometimes he came around to ask "favors" of Flint, ones that often culminated in a threat. Lorenzo Giovanni was not a man to cross, even if Silph was blowing him out of the water these days. The walked toward Giovanni, with Yolanda staying at the doors, Brock in her arms. The trainer, Lance, was also outside, staying back. He seemed very interested in what was going on.
"Greetings, Giovanni! What brings you to such an unimportant place?" Flint asked as he came near Giovanni.
"Blackstone, I'm looking for a girl of little importance. Have you seen her?" Giovanni asked, not even bothering to greet Flint. Flint didn't really care.
"Well, I can't really answer that if you don't describe her." Giovanni scowled. Damn, I hope I didn't give anything away, Flint thought.
"She's about 4'9, purple hair, glasses, a bit of a pale complexion. Do you know where she is?"
"Purple hair? Sounds like it could be one of Silph's kids. Why not ask him?" Flint answered, trying to throw Giovanni off track. "For that matter, why are you looking for her?" he added.
Giovanni was getting annoyed. Who does this guy think he is? he thought to himself. "One of Silph's kids? Nonsense! As for what she did, she... merely stole something of minor value. Now, I ask again: IS SHE HERE?"
"Sorry," Flint said. "I would've reported a stray child to the police the minute I found her. No use looking here."
Giovanni smirked. Damn, Flint thought, I think he figured out I was lying. "I'd hate to find out if you were wrong, Blackstone. Heh, liers never prosper," Giovanni stated. Turning, he said to his stone-faced cronies, "Come!" Giovanni walked off, with his slaves at his heels.

A little discombobulated, Flint walked back to the gym doors. Yolanda said nothing, but the look on her face said it all. Worry. Lance, however, had a very accurate comment: "I'd say that guy's missing a few screws..."
"I don't think he was ever attached," Flint replied, his voice conveying his worry. "Now, let's get to the house. Brock, you still want to take Onix and Geodude to the Pokecenter?"
"Yeah!" the little boy exclaimed, who was let down by his mother as he took one ball in each hand again. With that, he toddled off.
"Flint, do you think it's safe to let him do that?" Yolanda asked.
"Oh, sure. Giovanni wouldn't try anything in the daylight, and there isn't really anyone else who would want to hurt him," Flint replied. "Now come on, that girl really needs some comfort. You don't mind helping, right, Lance?"
"Not at all," Lance said. "I'd be glad to help. But what could I do?"
"Just try to help us calm her down. It seems like she's been though so much..."

As Lance entered the house, he could hear the cries, desperate sobs that stab the heart like a piece of ice. "Who?..." Lance asked the air. Flint pointed to a closed door, where the wails seemed to be originating from. The three of them walked over to the door, and Flint opened it. Inside was a little girl, ten from the looks of it, and she was cuddling a baby Lapras. She was crying interminently. She matched the description Giovanni had given Flint, word for word. Not only that, but Lance couldn't shake the feeling that he had seen someone who looked like her before.
"Lorelei?" Yolanda said tenderly, walking over to the little weeping form. "What's wrong, sweetie?" She embraced the girl.
"I... I..." the child stammered. Then, she burst into a fresh set of tears.
"Who is this girl?" Lance asked Flint.
"Lorelei Silph. Eldest child of Nelson Silph..."
"You mean the industry tycoon? The one who specialises in Pokemon care items?"
"Practically invented the modern Pokeball. That Giovanni guy runs Rocket Industries, who used to have a veritable monopoly on Poke-goods," Flint explained. "Unfortuneately for him, all of his products have decades-old designs. There's no way he can compete. He's been trying to use his clout to crush Silph, but Rocket Industries is doomed."
"So why is Silph's eldest daughter here?"
"Well... we found her a week ago outside city limits. We were on a picnic, when I thought I saw some movement a bit beyond some bushes. It turned out to be the Lapras, and this girl was unconsious right beside her. We brought them both back here as fast as we could."
"Wait... you told Giovanni that you'd report any missing children to the police..."
"All except this one. She wasn't in good shape when we first brought her in. However, when we found her, my thoughts immediately went to the Silph-Rocket feud. I figured that Giovanni might try something if he knew she was here, what with Nelson's younger son missing."
"BOTH of his kids are missing?"
"The few times Lorelei has spoken, she says that's why she left home. The youngest son ran away... can't remember his name right now... and she followed. After a while, she got terribly lost, and eventually collapsed. If we hadn't found her when we did, she would have died of starvation and exposure."
"Wow..." was all Lance was able to say.
"Yeah... listen, it's getting late. Perhaps you should turn in for the night..."
"Oh, sorry, I got ahead of myself. Care to stay for the night?"
"Sure, thanks! Maybe I should help your wife..." finished Lance as he walked over to her and the little girl.
"Oh, Lance, would you mind watching her? I've got to talk to Flint for a moment..."
"I wouldn't mind at all," replied Lance. Yolanda exited the room, as did Flint. Lance turned to the little girl. "So..." Lance began, not knowing what to say (and feeling like a complete idiot for being so.) "Is this your Lapras?" he said at last. For a little while, the girl just kept crying into the shell of the Lapras, but the Lapras itself turned it's head to face Lance. He reached out and petted it on the head.
"Laaaap," it said in appreciation. Lorelei lessened her crying, and also turned to Lance.
"Y...y... you like... Pokemon?" She said, in between sobs.
"Yes, I do," Lance replied gently. He put her hand on Lorelei's shoulder. That seemed to strengthen her will a little.
"I... I want my brother..." she said at length. "My... mom and dad, too..."
"Don't worry, we'll get you back with them real soon," Lance promised, not knowing if he was telling the truth or not. Then, looking at the Lapras, he asked again, "She's yours?"
Lorelei nodded, having stopped crying at last. "Daddy gave her to me. She's perfect! She carried me across the back-yard pool once..." she broke off, seemingly on the verge of tears, at the memory of her home.
"Wow," Lance said quickly, trying to distract her from the painful memories. "So, you wanted to become a trainer?"
"I wanted too, but Daddy said that it might be too dangerous for me," Lorelei replied. "He said that bad men might go after me if I left home..."
True, Lance thought. Forget Giovanni, I can imagine all the kidnappers who would love to capture her, then kill her when they got the cash...
"No one's going to hurt you," he said aloud. "I'll make sure of that."

Several hours later, Lance was sitting by the door to Lorelei's room, with Drag and Volvagia out. The Blackstones had turned in for the night. Lance had gone into his own room, but then left when everyone else was asleep. He was determined to keep an eye on Lorelei, especially since Flint had finally contacted Mr. Silph. He was coming in the morning to get her. Why Flint had the sudden change of heart, Lance wasn't sure... but he thought that it had something to do with Giovanni's sudden appearence.
Meanwhile, Drag and Volvagia were engaged in examining Volvagia's newfound strength. Volvagia was practicing Slashing with his new, large claws while Drag watched. "Be careful what you slash," Drag warned.
"Don't worry, I'm not about to evicerate you," Volvagia responded. Then, he stopped, and straightened his body upright. "What was that?" he asked to no one in particular.
"Hmmm?..." Drag said, pricking up his ears. Then the look on his face became more grave. "Yeah, I hear it... sounds like footsteps approaching the house." He uncoiled, and then looked out the window. He was surprised when Lance joined him.
"I can hear it... I think we've got trouble, guys," was all Lance said. He headed for the door, his Pokes following him.

Giovanni was walking casually up to the Blackstone's house. This was a job he would entrust to no one else. Every man availible was getting ready for the master plan. Plus, he wanted to see his archrival's eldest daughter die, screaming in pain, blood covering her before she went into the darkness. If there was one secret that Giovanni kept, it was a love of the death of others. What he was planning... when it was finished, he would stand atop the mountain of the bodies of his foes...
He decided that getting into the house would require some assistance. "Diamondhorn! Swiper! Come!" he yelled, as he activated the Rocket Storebox at his waist. The unit was a little heavy and cumbersome, but could store 6 Pokemon in one unit - reportedly at the discomfort of the Pokemon inside. At his order, two Pokemon came out of the box - a Rhyhorn (Diamondhorn) and a Meowth (Swiper.) These two would eventually become their Boss's favorites - for, unlike other Pokemon, they considered Giovanni their master. They were evil to the fiber of their beings, with a love of pain and death much like their master. Without a spoken word, they knew what to do. They approached the house...
And were shocked to find someone in their way.
"Who are you? Get out of the way!" Giovanni shouted.
The figure stepped out of the shadows. It was that trainer Giovanni had noticed at the Gym earlier. He had a shock of black hair on his head, and actually looked like the lordly type - the kind of person Giovanni hated, since they couldn't be easily disposed of. "I really don't know who you are, but get out of here. Or else." he said, threateningly, his face and voice deadly serious.
Giovanni let out his cackle. "You! Threatening me! Little fool. Do you think you can stop Giovanni, master trainer?" Then he adressed his Poke-slaves: "Show him what we do to interlopers!"
Wordlessly, they advanced. From behind the kid, two other forms appeared. One had a flame on it's tail, the other was long, like a snake. The flamed one advanced toward Diamondhorn, and the snake went for Swiper. Battle ensued.

Lance didn't know if this was very brave or very stupid. He had heard the footsteps from inside the house, and he knew that it could only be someone here to kill Lorelei. Well, he had vowed to her that she wouldn't die, and now he was going to try to keep that oath. He had told his Pokes what to do beforehand; he was sure that they could handle themselves.
Drag drew himself up against the Meowth. This Meowth had a very evil look in it's eyes, like it was glad to have something to kill. It flung itself at Drag, while Drag sprung at the cat, his body perpindicular to the Meowth so he could use his momentum to wrap the creature quickly. While Drag managed to wind the creature, Swiper also managed to dig his claws into Drag. He kept them there, and the blood started flowing out. Even though he was in great pain, Drag still wrapped Swiper as hard as he could. Drag's opponent soon found it hard to breathe. It had meant to Slash Drag horribly, but he could barely move, so he just dug his claws in deeper. Still Drag refused to relent...
Volvagia seemed to fare little better. He noticed the hard, armor-like plating on the Rhyhorn, and so decided to give it a similar treatment to the Onix. He started shooting fireballs at it's mouth, and soon it had swallowed several good-sized ones. It fell over, but it kept skidding, and Volvagia was unable to get out of the way in time. He was hit by it's massive tail, and sent flying.

When he saw that his opponent's Pokemon, as well as his own, were too busy to interfere, Giovanni reached under his jacket and pulled out a large sword. Admiring it, he said, "Ah! The perfect weapon for discreet murder, the sword! A gun may be more compact, but is much more tracible. And the sword allows a certain... intimacy... of murder," he finished with a cackle.
Lance, being completely disgusted, dove for Giovanni, shouting "By whatever Power there is, there will be no murder here tonight!" Just as he was about to hit Giovanni, there was a flash of steel, and a scream pierced the night. Then, Giovanni felt the full weight of the 16-year-old plow into him, winding him. No matter, he thought, I have given him a far worse hurt...
The scream was Lance's. Just before hitting this guy, he had felt something slash at his arm. After tackling Giovanni, he dared to look at his arm. It had recieved a serious cut on the upper part. Holding it to try to stop a bit of the blood that was pouring out, he faced Giovanni, who was back up on his feet. Giovanni was grinning evilly. "Do you still feel brave, young one? Are you unafraid to die?"
"YYYYYEEEEEEEEESSSSSSS!!!!!!!!" was the reply, and Lance charged at Giovanni again. As he connected, he felt cold steel pierce his right leg, and he fell to the earth in excruciating pain.
Giovanni stood over him, grinning broader than ever. "Fool! You thought you could defeat me? Now, say farewell to life!" He raised his bloodied sword over Lance's heart, and Lance knew it was over. Silently, he said farewell to his parents, Prof. Oak, Max, Christine...
Then, he heard a scream. Giovanni was yelling bloody murder, and he had dropped the sword. It landed behind Giovanni. He had dropped it because his hands were on fire, courtesy of Volvagia. He had recovered from his blow, and had come to his trainer's assistance. As Giovanni put his hands out, he suddenly found a Dratini wrapped around his legs, despite the fact that it had a horrendous wound on it's back. Off to the side, Lance could see a Meowth going spasmoradic. Lance sumised that Drag must have used Thunder Wave on it.
Giovanni managed to kick off Drag, and recovered his sword. He looked like he was going to kill Drag and Volvagia, but then a welcome sound was heard: the wail of police sirens. He ran off, recalling his beaten Pokes to the box at his waist. Before he disappeared into the night, he called out, "This is not the end of the matter, kid! We'll meet again!" As the wails of the sirens grew louder, the pain and loss of blood overcame Lance, and he plunged into darkness and knew no more.

Author's notes: OK, OK, there were some influences on this chapter. One was Final Fantasy 6 (3 in the U.S.), where the character of Kefka contributed somewhat to Giovanni. The other was Samurai X, the anime series. That's where I got the sword idea. Plus, Giovanni is right, as a sword is a lot less conspicuous, plus it DOES let him get close to the people he kills. One last note, the misspelling of "Poke" when Brock offers to take Flint's Pokemon to the Center is intentional. This was to try to get it as how he would say it.