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
She was walking. She didn't know where she was (since she was surrounded by a bright light), but she was walking: she did know that. Why she was walking she was also oblivious to. Yet, she walked on. Eventually (she wasn't sure how long it had been), she saw a bed. The covers were up to the head of the bed, and they seemed to be covering something - like a corpse. She didn't want to go nearer, but her legs dictated otherwise. Soon she was right next to it. She wanted to get away, but something was holding her there, like there was something she needed to see. To her horror, the hands under the sheets started moving, and pulled the sheets back. When she saw what was underneath, she wanted to scream in terror and denial, but something had shut her vocal cords. The pale-faced figure, who was young and healthy looking but with blood on his face, started to speak.
"Christine..." Lance Ketchum whispered from the bed. Her legs were melting like iron in a blast furnace beneath her. This can't be real...
The bloodied Lance held up his hands. They were soaked in blood. He whispered, in a barely audible tone, "This... is my destiny..."
She could finally do it. She screamed in a state of fear that cannot be expressed in words.
And then she awoke, sitting up, still screaming.
It took Christine Farand a moment to collect herself. The dream was still vivid in her mind, and would probably be for the rest of her life. After she had regained her wits, she buried her jade-clear face in her hands. That dream had scared her enormously. Had something happened to Lance? She knew that dreams never really mean anything. She had been thinking about Lance, her deepest love, ever since he had left Pallet Town, and he hadn't called in a week. Had something happened to him? She wouldn't live with herself if something had. He's probably to Pewter by now, Christine thought to herself... I'll call the Pokemon Center there and see if he's arrived.
But still, she couldn't shake off the terror of the dream. It was like an omen... was Lance already dead? Or was his doom sealed?
Christine lay back down, and she couldn't help it. She burst into tears of worry, and thus cried herself to sleep.
Bright light. That's all he knew. Bright light.
And a hell of a pain in his right arm and leg.
Lance Kethchum opened his eyes. It took them a second to focus - like they had been closed for a while. After he got used to the light, he tried to get up, but the pain in his arm stopped him. He was content to look around from a lying-down position. He was in a hospital, he knew that much. He could see the whitewashed walls, the perfect desk in the corner, that he was in a hospital. But why?...
A doctor came in, and smiled that his patient had awakened. "Excellent! You're recovering quickly. You had us worried for a little while there..."
"Huh? What? Why am I..." Lance replied, but then he remembered all too well. Going out of the Blackstone's house to protect Lorelei Silph, Giovanni attacking, his Pokes nearly losing, and he nearly getting killed by a lunatic...
"Why did I have you worried for a while?" Lance said finally.
"Well, whoever attacked you cut you badly. By the time an ambulance got there, you had lost a lot of blood, Mr?..."
"Ketchum. Lance Ketchum."
"Ah. Well, once we got you patched up, your body pretty much took over. Although I imagine the cut areas still hurt."
"Darn straight they do," Lance said bursquely. In fact, his arm hurt like fury. "Do you have any Advil or something?"
"Of course. I'll go get some," the young doctor said as he departed. "Oh, and you have a few visiors."
Lance was kind of surprised. Did they worry that much about him? His question was answered when an extremely haggard-looking Flint Blackstone and a worn-out Yolanda Blackstone came into the room. When they saw him, Flint stopped in his tracks, and Yolanda practically ran over to him, then stood at the side of the bed. "LANCE!" she said, her voice thick with concern, "You're alive! I was so worried... after finding you drenched in your own blood after that horrible ruckus... I was so worried..."
"Same here, Lance," Flint said, as he too approached the bed. "It was creepy, seeing your arm and leg soaked in red. What happened? Why were you out there?"
"Giovanni showed up," Lance said simply. Whatever the Blackstones were expecting, THAT wasn't it. Yolanda looked ready to faint, and Flint's eyes were wide as dinnerplates, and his mouth had dropped enough to hold them both.
"GIOVANNI?" Flint said at last. "My god, I didn't think he was that bold, to try and kill his rival's daughter... that IS what he was coming to our house to do, right?"
"I guess... although I imagine he would have killed you, too, to avoid any witnesses," Lance replied.
That had done it for Yolanda. She started falling to the floor in a dead faint, but Flint caught her. "YOLANDA!" he cried out, cathcing her moments before she hit the floor. "Good lord, Lance, did you have to say that?!" Flint told Lance irritably. But Lance heard him mutter under his breath, "He is telling the truth, though." Flint borrowed one of the two pillows on Lance's bed and put it on the floor, resting Yolanda's head on it. "Still... you could easily have been killed! Why?..."
"Simply because I don't carry much truck with such things. I wasn't about to let that lunatic kill Lorelei, you, your family, or anyone else without resistance."
"Speaking of which, Nelson Silph also wants to see you. He's understandably thankful for you saving his daughter."
"Yeah, I imagine he is," Lance said, laughing. "But what I want to know is when we can prosecute that loony..."
"Errr..." Flint responded, shuffling his feet in an embarrased way. "We can't."
"WHAT? WHY?" bellowed an angry Lance.
"Lack of evidence, for one thing. He didn't touch you, he took his Pokes with him, and the only blood at the scene is yours - in prolific amounts. Even if you try to ID him, it's your word (keeping in mind you are a 16-year-old green Pokemon Trainer) against the one of a CEO and Gym Leader - a very good one, I might add."
Lance let out a huge sigh of dissapointment. Flint had a point - with no evidence, they didn't have a thing against him. "Oh well... I guess I'll just settle the score myself someday..." Lance said at length, hoping to sound offhand.
"I, for one, hope you don't," Flint said, suddenly stern. "Don't go looking for him, either. Lorenzo Giovanni is, I would imagine, a dangerous man. Besides, THINK - even if you found him (or he found you), what then? He'd just cut you in half!"
Lance sighed again. But then, the thought of cut in half raised a question in his mind he realised that he should have asked a while ago... "Hey, where are Volvagia and Drag?!" he said with not a bit of worry.
"They're better off than you," Flint responded with a friendly chuckle. "Drag had a pretty bad puncture wound, but Volvagia just had a bruised rib. Are you *sure* he's not made out of stone?"
It was Lance's turn to laugh. "Fairly sure. He just seems to be invincible most of the time. Don't ask me how." There was a silence for a little while after that.
"I'll ask that doctor to have them brought in. Well, I've got to get back home, Brock's waiting," Flint said finally. "Catch you later, Lance. Be sure to stop by before you head on."
"I'll be sure to. Later."
A few moments after Flint left with Yolanda in his arms, a tall man with daringly purple hair came in. "You are Lance Ketchum, correct?" he said with a very think southern U.S. accent.
"That's me," Lance said in response. "And I take it you are Nelson Silph?"
"The same," Silph answered. "Sir... I cannot begin to tell you how thankful I am to you for saving my daughter. When she just ran off like that, we were driven almost to insanity. Her mother has been crying her eyes out, and I've been unable to work at all. And never mind that little James is missing..." Silph trailed off at the end, seemingly able to say no more, looking out the window on Lance's left side. After about a minute, he turned to Lance again. "Sir, if there is anything I can do for you, just tell me."
"Well, there isn't," Lance replied simply. Silph seemed taken aback.
"Really? You want no repayment?"
"Knowing I could help someone who was in danger, and seeing that person loved again is enough for me," Lance responded.
Silph seemed to regard the teenager in the bed for a moment, then said, "You are one of the most noble people I've ever had the pleasure to know, Lance. I hope you do well on your journey. Again, I can't thank you enough." With that, Mr. Silph left the room, leaving Lance to rest blessedly.
After about an hour had passed after Mr. Silph left, the doctor came in again, holding a bottle of Advils. However, it wasn't the Advil that Lance was watching. He had his gaze fixed on the two small figures following behind.
"Drag! Volvagia! You're OK!"
"Oh yes, these two are fine," the doctor said good-naturedly. "Mr.Blackstone asked me to have them brought in here. Now, here's the Advil you wanted so badly, Mr. Ketchum," the doctor finished. after giving the Advil and a small pitcher of water to Lance, the doc left Lance with his Pokes, who had climed up on the bed (Volvagia was careful not to set the sheets on fire), and had sat down in front of him.
"I'm glad to see you two alive. I, myself, am still somewhat surprised that we survived."
"Dra!" Drag responded, gliding toward Lance's wounded arm, which now lay above the coverlet. "Draaa..." Drag wailed, as he looked upon the bandage that covered all of Lance's upper arm. He set his head on the arm, and began to cry...
"Come on now, Drag, don't cry... I'm not going to die..." Not yet, anyway, he told himself silently. Yet he knew that if he went too far he might someday end up under a tombstone, with Christine's tears staining it...
Speaking of tears, Drag continued to cry, despite what Lance had said. Lance noted that Volvagia seemed to be looking at the Dratini in wonder. Lance couldn't figure out why he would do so; Drag had a reason to be sad. Lance hadn't been hurt TOO badly... heck, even the pain was leaving him...
But wait a minute... he hadn't even taken any Advil yet...
Lance looked down on his arm. He could see wetness where Drag's tears had fallen on the wound. The bandage was still bloody, but it didn't feel like there WAS a wound... Slowly, Lance undid the wrappings, during which Drag moved away from him. When Lance had taken the bandage off, behold! there was no wound.
For a moment, Lance was stunned beyond words. Then, with a mildly shaky voice, he said, "Drag... did you do this?..." The little Dratini nodded his head in reply. Lance looked at Drag amazedly. "But... how?... the tears?..." he didn't seem able to say anymore. Drag nodded again, and Lance understood. "Amazing. But why don't Pokemon do that for everyone?" But then Lance realized that he couldn't get an answer from them; but he looked into Drag's eyes, then Volvagia's, and he understood. If it was known, then Pokemon would suffer for humans needlessly. Drag then went under the covers, and Lance could feel moistness on his leg: soon the pain was gone there too. Drag reemerged, his eyes still shining. There was a long pause.
"Well, I guess I can leave now," Lance said at last, not knowing what else to say in the face of this revelation. The fact that Drag had cried for him, he did not doubt, was something which he should be deeply touched by. Searching a closet on the far side of the room, he found his underwear (socks,undershirt,etc.), his black jeans, his purple long-sleeved overshirt, and his prized leather hiking jacket, complete with a multitude of pockets on the front. After taking off the hospital robe and putting his real clothes on (he noted with satisfaction that they had been washed - he had spare clothes, of course, but still...), he walked over to Drag and Volvagia, who were still on the bed. "Drag... Volvagia... I can't thank you enough." With that, he gave them a hug. So what if they were all male? It wasn't like THAT (thank whatever Power.) After that, he recalled them to their respective balls (with a last thank you to Drag) and started out the door. The hospital beyond his room was your typical hospital: white, with doctors, nurses, patients, etc. rushing around.
"HEY!" his doctor called out from down the corridor behind him. "What are you doing up?! How can you even walk?!"
"Well, I don't have any wounds," Lance said simply, implying nothing in his voice, and indeed sounding very considerate. He rolled up his sleeve, and showed the doctor his right arm.
"...IMPOSSIBLE!" the doctor said at last, after a very pregnant pause. "That slash went to the bone! How did it heal so fast?..."
"Well, since I'm all in one piece, can I go?" Lance said.
"I suppose... oh, wait, where can we reach your parents?"
After Lance gave the phone number, the doctor walked off mumbling something about kids these days. Lance walked off, out the building.
His first stop was the Pokemon Center; he needed to tell his parents what happened. For a moment he considered calling Christine, too, but he decided against it. No need to get her overly worried...
When he got to the Center, the first thing he did was eat breakfast with Drag and Volvagia. He hadn't realised how hungry he was, but he had earned it. After the well-deserved meal, he went to the videophones at the back end of the Center. First, he thought, he had better call his parents. He punched in the number, and roughly three seconds later, his parents appeared on the screen; apparently they had been waiting.
"LANCE!!" his mother cried out in amazment, "finally! We were called by the hospital in Pewter, we had no idea what had happened..."
"Young man, what were you doing? We heard you had been attacked! And where are you?" Lance's father asked sternly. If there was anyone you did not want to cross, it was him.
Lance told them everything: Giovanni, Lorelei, and the battle. He left out the tears, and made it sound like he hadn't been nearly as badly hurt as they had believed. At the end of the story, both his parents looked relieved. "Well, as long as it's not that bad... but don't get yourself into that sort of situation again, Lance!" his father warned. With one last assurance to his worried parents, Lance said his goodbyes and hung up.
He was about to go back to his Pokes (who were still waiting at the table where they had breakfast), when another call came in. The screen showed the caller ID: Christine Farand. Damn, Lance thought, I had hoped I wouldn't have to do this. He picked up the handset, hit the "accept" button, and a millisecond later he was looking into the beautiful face of the person he cared about more than any other.
"Hey Christine," Lance said. "What's up, lovergirl?"
"Lance..." Christine said slowly. It wasn't the slowness of anger, but the slowness of fear. "Are you OK?" she said finally, looking somewhat embarrased that she hadn't been able to say anything else.
Lance blinked in surprise. "Well, yeah. Why?"
Just then, Christine's eyes settled (though the screen) on the rip on Lance's shirt sleeve. "Lance! What..."
Lance then realised that he would have to tell her. So he did. He started from beating Flint to the point where he got slashed. At the end, Christine was on the verge of tears. "Lance... y...you almost got killed..." she then burst into sobbing.
"But I'm still alive, Christine... that's all that counts. Don't drive yourself nuts over this, it's not worth it...
"WHAT?" Cristine yelled. "You were nearly KILLED, Lance! Why? WHY DO IT?!?!" She was screaming now, her face and eyes red with tears and sorrowful anger. She then cast herself down on her bed (where she was sitting) and started sobbing.
"Christine... I had to. If I hadn't, an innocent girl would be dead now, as well as a Gym leader and his family. I couldn't stand by and let that happen." Lance tried to hide any anger from his voice, and he succeeded. But he was just a bit exasperated.
Christine looked back up. The shadow of a grin was on her face. "Lance Ketchum, you were always too noble for your own good."
"I believe that, plus my silliness, is the reason you love me." He then kissed the screen again (as he had done in Viridian), and Christine couldn't help it. She broke into a grin.
"Hopefully, I'll be able to feel those lips later," she said.
"Hopefully," Lance responded. Oh, yeah, hopefully, he then said to himself, thinking things which most likely would get the author arrested.
"Well, I'll see you later, Lance..."
"Same to you, Christine. I love you..."
As Christine hung the phone up, she felt a pang of guilt. She hadn't told him about the dream, and now it was creeping her out. Had she dreamed that because her love had been hurt? She hoped not. But still, a fear of the night slowly crept into her... she didn't want to see a dead Lance under that sheet.
As Lance hung the phone up, he felt a pang of guilt. He felt guilty at having worried Christine, and he hoped that she could still sleep at night. She didn't need to be worrying about him...
Finally, he had gotten back over to his Pokes. He recalled them (as always, with their permission), and after refilling his pack at the local supermarket and loading up with some Poke food and gear, he set out from Pewter. He was almost sorry to go; he would never forget his adventures here.
He had packed some more gear because he was now heading for Mt. Moon. That was a dangerous journey, but it was the only way to Cerulean. Both the path on and under the mountain were full of mildly dangerous Pokemon. But it was the length that had Lance on edge. The caves under the Mountain of the Moon were vast and intricate, and it was easy to get lost. With that thought in mind, he set out for the Mountain.
Along the path, Lance encountered an odd man. He seemed to be Mexican; he was a salesman of some sort, and he had a fish tank with him. Inside was a large, red fish-like creature that Lance immediately recognised as a Pokemon.
"Hey, boy! You there, boy!" the man called out. "I want you to have a look at this Pokemon."
Lance, not wanting to be rude, did so. When he got near, he saw that it had two fleshy whiskers, and a round mouth with pink lips. "This is the king of all carp, a Magikarp! It's yours for only $100." thesalesman pitched.
Lance was not very inclined to buy it, and not just because of the price. It didn't look overly powerful. Plus, Lance's business was with dragons. However, he knew that many Rock Pokemon were in Mt. Moon. So, perhaps a water-type would be useful. Plus, the look... he had seen it somewhere before, in his studies, but he couldn't remember where...
"Very well, I'll buy it," said Lance. As he handed over the money, he noted that the salesman had what seemed to be a malicious grin on his face. Still, Lance took the fish out of the tank. It started flopping around in his hands, and yet after a moment it was still, as if it trusted him just by the way he held it. Lance, too, could feel something in it; a power, wanting to escape...
"Come, Leviathan!" he said, naming his new Pokemon. He called his new Pokemon to a ball, and went on his way.