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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


He was still having dreams about it.
He lifted his sword into the air, bringing it down on one of the thugs. More blood, more death, more agony.
For his victim, and himself.
Then, of course, he would wake up, covered in cold sweat. He couldn't get over the fact that he had robbed two people of their lives. He was a murderer, no doubt about it. He hadn't even given them a chance to fight back. He had tapped one on the sholder, then sliced him in half. Stabbed the other one when he had turned around. Cold. Stone cold. He was a stone cold killer.
But it was me or them, he thought. If I hadn't, I would've died.
But would you have? he asked himself.
He looked back at his Pokes, who he of course let sleep out of their balls. It had created quite a change when Leviathan had evolved, and because of the fact that was 20 feet long. Good sleeping spaces were becoming hard to find, for obvious reasons. Drag and Volvagia didn't seem to mind, however. Actually, they seemed to feel safer.
Lance didn't. But not from others. From himself.
How could he face his friends when he knew he was capable of taking their lives?

Volvagia looked over to his trainer. Lance was deep in thought again. He had been ever since he waxed those two thugs that had tried to kill them. Lance seemed to be having trouble with his own lethalness. At least, that's how Volvagia saw it. Humans. They're not born with the killing instinct, so they have to learn by doing. Not that Volvagia enjoyed slaughter for a second. Still, killing was a very different thing for Pokemon than humans.
For Pokemon, killing was something that needed to be done. The Pidgey that ate the Caterpie did so for susteance. The Pidgey might eventually be eaten in turn, and so ad infinitum. However, that also led to a unspoken Law amoung Pokemon... a Pokemon will only kill another for a justified reason. Renegades like Giovanni's Pokemon were reviled. They killed for the killing, for no purpose except to be covered in blood.
No doubt that's what Lance is grappling with, Volvagia thought. It is a terrible thing, to take another life. Figuring out that you could kill anyone you chose, that nothing really is holding you back... it could turn many people's minds. It had in the past. Yet, Volvagia wasn't concerned about his master in this sense. He knew that Lance had a profound sense of justice in him. He was forced to kill those two men. There was no other way. Lance would have to discover that sometimes you must choose who dies.
Still, one thing unnerved Volvagia just a wee bit. Lance clearly had never handled a blade before, yet he had butchered those two toughs with ease, like a master swordsman. How had he done it?...
Hearing an uprise in the voices of his compatriots, he turned back to the disscussion at hand: Leviathan's newfound Gyaradosness. He, obviously, was deleriously pleased. Drag was amused, especially at his friend's rush from taking out all those sinners.
"Well, now I see the potential I first saw in you," Drag said.
"Oh yeah. This is great! Now I'm useful!" Leviathan said emphatically.
"VERY useful. I thought there were none of your kind left in the world," Volvagia admitted to Leviathan.
"Unfortunately, I can't say if there are more of my kind... Gyaradoses, I mean," Leviathan responded.
"It's the fact that Magikarp are born only among other Magikarp. We never see our parents. So, I have no way of knowing where I sprang from. I was captured at a young age." The Gyarados was undoubtably troubled. Not knowing one's roots was painful - Drag knew that. He had no reccolection of life before Lance, except for a few fuzzy images. Volvagia had no problem with that - he had been born in captivity, but he knew his parents. Lavafang and Brightwing, two of the finest Charizards the Oak lab had ever had the pleasure to breed together.
"I still love the change," Leviathan said finally, breaking an awkward pause. "Did you see how I ripped those fools in half?"
"Incredible," Volvagia replied shortly. His mind wasn't really on the conversation. He was still thinking about Lance. "He needs us," he said finally.
"Huh?" Drag said.
"Our trainer. I think killing really freaked him out."
"Yeah. But still, to just do that... most humans wouldn't have the guts," Leviathan said.
"He'll need us always," Drag said. "Perhaps not in the sense that we should always be by his side, but he'll always need to know we live. Hey, let's take an oath: the Three Pokemon of Lance Ketchum swear to stand by him for as long as we live."
They did so, the conviction in the heart of each burning brighter than the moon above them.

Still troubled in his heart, Lance continued on his way to Cerulean City. There was no way to hide the sheathed blade, and Lance felt the apprehensive stares of many of the other, lesser trainers he faced along the way.
He felt de deserved it completely.
One person he had been hoping to see along the way was Max. Lance knew he had some way of getting around, but Lance didn't know what it was. Still, if anyone could shake Lance out of this, it was him. He knew it.
The most enjoyment that Lance had during the remainder of the trip to Cerulean was using Leviathan against the other on-the-road trainers. Lance had told Leviathan not to kill anything, of course, but the other trainers didn't know that. Why enlighten them? Lance thought.
After a day or two, Lance reached the edges of Cerulean City. It was easy to see why many considered Cerulean to be the most beautiful city in the world: water was the city. Many of the buildings incorporated water-like designs in them, many that shown brilliantly in the sun. The whole city seemed to glow with a pale blue light. Plus, it was a city by the Sea. Vermillion City might be famous for it's ports, but Cerulean was the real city of the Sea. On the whole, the effect dazzled Lance. When I marry Christine, he thought, THIS is where our honeymoon will be.
It wasn't very late yet, and after a quick healing at the Pokemon Center, he headed off for the Cerulean City Gym. He didn't call home because... well... what would he say? "Hey, Christine. Guess what? I'm a stone-cold murderer."
Finally, he reached the gym. It looked like a stadium, with the dome colored like a beach ball. The front was adorned with a statue of a Dewgong, a seal-like creature with a spike on it's head. Inside, it was like a gigantic aquarium, with fish of every kind swimming around. However, signs pointed the way to the Gym area (it seemed that there was, in fact, some sort of show hosted here as well.) Soon, Lance was in the very peculiar gym.
The walls were darkened again, but spotlights lit the arena. It was basically one big swimming pool, nearly 200 feet across. Oddly, there were floating platforms in the pool at uneven intervals. These were about 10 feet across. Apparently, the gym had cameras or something, because the Gym Leader was waiting for Lance at the far end of the pool.
Lance was surprised how pretty she was. The female Gym Leader had long, billowing red hair, and was wearing something that was more swimwear than serious fighting dress. It was a very short yellow miniskirt, a few inches less and she might as well have been nude. The "dress" was trimmed with little blue beads. Her body was very shapely, and on her feet wer small slipper-like shoes. Her face was beautifully defined, the features being enough to drive men wild. It didn't have that total effect on Lance, however. He had been taken aback by her beauty, but not only was he utterly devoted to his girlfriend, but in his current mood he really didn't think about love: only about his ability to murder. He could see himself putting an end to that pretty little life with a single swipe of his blade.
"Hello!" the Gym Leader said, her voice as appealing as the rest of her. "I'm Ginny, Gym Leader of the Cerulean City Gym. I take it you're here to challenege me."

She had come out of the training area in the back of the Gym when she heard the signal that someone had arrived. He found the guy in front of her very attractive, but she was already taken. Her daughters were waiting at home, but she had to come in every day for this. She asked wether he was here for a fight, and the answer shocked her. "Yes," he had replied. One, the conciseness surprised her. Most trainers usually boast a bit. Secondly, his voice chilled her to the bone. He seemed to be trying to be friendly, but there was something in it that scared her. Something stone-cold...
"Well, all right, but I'm warning you, you..." her voice died on her lips when the noticed what was strapped to his waist.
It looked like a sword.
She wanted to scream, but she couldn't. He must be here to kill her. Challenge her, indeed. However, her lips seemed sealed. Her legs locked in place. Her whole being was consumed with fear. She almost couldn't breathe.
The young man looked... puzzled? He didn't seem to understand her reaction. Then, from the look on his face, grand-bull-moose enlightment struck. He took of the sword, sheath and all, placed it on the ground, and slid it away from him toward the door. "You don't need to fear me," he said.
She could breathe again.
But something again in his voice said that perhaps he wasn't totally truthful.
Or sure?

Damn, damn, damn, Lance berated himself silently. I should have know better than to wear my weapon coming in here. However, he had partially lied when he had said that she need not fear him. He knew that everyone should fear him. He was afraid of himself. However, he intended to fight a Pokemon battle, not kill anyone. He asked, "How many Pokemon?"
"T-two," the girl stammered, still shaken up. Lance couldn't blame her; how would he react if someone came walking into his house, for instance, with an edged weapon?
Lance immediately knew that Volvagia was out. He wouldn't last five seconds in this battle. That didn't leave much. However, Lance figured that Leviathan and Drag stood a good chance of winning, Drag being waterproof and Leviathan... well, enough said. "Very well," he told Ginny from across the room.
Lance called out Drag, while Ginny called out a starfish-like Pokemon with a jewel in it's center to the floating platform nearest her. "Go, Staryu!" she yelled. Lance had called out Drag at his feet, since he didn't know what Ginny would use.
When he saw what Ginny had called out, he hesitated a moment. He didn't know what those could do. So, he knelt down to Drag and whispered, "OK, just dodge for now. Let me see what it's going to do." Drag nodded happily, both agreeing and trying to cheer up his trainer. Drag leapt into the pool, and swam to the nearest platform.

When the young man's Pokemon - what WAS that thing, anyway? - got into position on the farthest platform, it was time. She called out to Staryu: "Attack, Staryu! Use your Spinning Tackle!"
Her Staryu complied, leaping up (somehow) and beginning to spin rapidly. Then, with no obvious means of propultion, it rocketed toward Drag. He had just enough time to duck his head before the Staryu tried to hit him. As it was, it whizzed past, looking like it was going to hit the wall. This will be a breeze, Lance thought. His optimism was shattered when, still with no obvious means of propultion or steering, it performed a one-eighty degree turn in midair, and shot straight at Drag again. This time, Drag had to do a mini-hop to avoid being painfully hit by the Staryu's many rotating arms. Lance, however, had seen enough. He knew what to do. He called out to Drag: "Drag! Thunder Wave it!"
He could hear Ginny gasp: electric moves were the bane of water Pokemon. Drag charged the electricity on his ears for a moment, then let out a burst of electricity. The Staryu groaned in pain, but it didn't stop coming back at Drag (it had turned around while Drag was charging.) Drag knew what to do, however. He jumped out of the way and into the water, and the paralysed Staryu was unable to stop or turn, thus crashing into the platform, breaking it in two.
Ginny screamed in fear for her beloved Pokemon. "STARYU!!!"
Staryu surfaced a moment later, not moving. However, it groaned "Yuuu..." so everyone knew it wasn't dead.
For a moment there, Lance feared it was. It had plummeted into the platform at what he guessed was thirty-plus miles an hour. That was fast enough to splatter him all over the place, so he had feared the worst for the Staryu.
Drag was also a little embarrased at what had happened. He hadn't meant for it to be hurt so badly. Accidents happen, but it still felt awful when things went foul. That would have fallen under "no due cause" for killing the Staryu. Pokemon were NEVER supposed to kill in trainer battles. Which made Drag all the more pissed at those thugs the guy had used in Pewter...
Drag snapped out of his reverie to see Ginny recalling Staryu. "OK, you may have beaten Staryu, but now you're going to get it! GO, STARMIE!" she called out. What came out of the ball looked like a purple-colored merging of two Staryus, one being rotated 45 degrees clockwise from the other.
Well, Lance thought, Drag needs a break. Time to call out the heavy artillery...
"Drag, return! GO, LEVIATHAN!" he called out.
Out of the Pokeball Leviathan came. With a resounding "GYARADOOOOOSSSS!!!" he turned to face the Starmie. It was now so obviously afraid that it was almost not funny. Almost. Lance had to stifle a laugh.
"OK, Leviathan, Tac..." But before Lance could finish, Leviathan dove at the Starmie, which seemed rooted to the floating platform.
Ginny screamed. "STARMIE!!!!"
"Leviathan! What..."

For a second, Lance turned his head. He was sure that Leviathan - intentionally or not - had killed the Starmie. After what seemed an eternity, he looked.
He had to struggle not to burst into gales of mirth.
The Starmie was in Leviathan's jaws, all right. However, Leviathan hadn't killed it. And from what Leviathan was doing, it was obvious to Lance that Leviathan had no intention of doing so. Leviathan was holding the Starmie in his jaws in such a way that he wasn't hurting it with his very large teeth. He was moving his jaw to make it appear that he was chewing it. It was a fake-out bite! Lance knew it could have killed the Starmie in one blow.
It was definitely faking out Ginny and Starmie. Ginny was stumbling around, mouth open in horror, looking like she was ready to have a heart attack at age 22. The Starmie was freaking out. Sure, it was safe NOW, but when this insanely strong and obviously psychotic dragon got hungry, OUCHIE! At least, that's what the Starmie was thinking.
Lance let Leviathan continue in this way for a few minutes, but then finally decided to call him off. Ginny would probably explode from anxiety if he didn't. "That's enough, Leviathan," he said calmly. Obeying, Leviathan let the Starmie drop from it's mouth. It promptly fainted from fear once it hit the ground.
Ginny had finally regained her balance. She was still a bit in shock, but Lance imagined she rarely lost THIS bad. "Wow..." she said at last. Taking something out of a tiny pocket on her dress, she threw it to Lance. It looked like a water droplet. The Cascade Badge.
"It's mine."