It was a lazy summer afternoon in the small town of Pallet, and for Mikey Eubanks it couldn't be spent in any better way than flipping through TV channels. He found himself flipping between two channels in particular, movie channels that featured the films Stand By Me and The Wizard of Oz. It was a bit humorous switching between the two and having the dialogue mix in unexpected ways, but in all fairness it was starting to get a tad old. He was considering turning off the cable box entirely and just booting up his old NES for a bit of classic gaming nostalgia when he heard a knock on the door. "Come on in," he told whoever was outside his room.

The door opened and Mikey's mother stepped in. "What are you still doing here?" his mother asked. "Isn't that thing you and the neighbor boy were doing supposed to be today?"

"Not for an hour or so, Mom," Mikey said. "There's no harm in me getting some entertainment in before setting off."

"I just don't want you to be late, that's all," his mother said. "I mean, it's not every day your child gets a battle license."

"Yes, Mom, I know," Mikey said. "I've already got my backpack ready to go and everything."

His mother nodded. "If you insist," she said. She turned to leave the room, but popped her head back in briefly. "Oh, your father's coming home to see you off, by the way," she said. "Here's hoping he'll get here before you head out, right?"

"All right," Mikey said with a smile. He checked the clock on the wall and decided that yeah, maybe his mother had the right idea about him leaving soon. He picked his backpack up off the floor, rummaging through it to make sure that he had all he would need for the first initial period of his journey, then slung it over his back and made his way downstairs.

Once he got downstairs, Mikey saw his mother sitting at the table with his sisters, his older sister holding her three-year-old son in her lap. "So you're finally heading out, are you?" his younger sister Lisa asked.

"Yep," Mikey said. "Setting out to follow my dreams."

"Hope your dreams are worth dropping out of school," his older sister April said with a wink and a laugh.

"Very funny, April," Mikey said. "You know I set up online classes while I'd be gone." He then turned his attention down to his young nephew. "Hey there, Little Mike," Mikey said in a softer voice. "You gonna miss Uncle Big Mike while he's on his adventure?"

"Big Mike, where ya goin'?" Little Mike asked.

"Wherever life takes me, kiddo." Mikey laughed. He then reached his hand into his pocket and pulled out a ring with what looked like a marble affixed to the top. "Here, something to remember me by while I'm gone."

Little Mike stared at the ring for a bit, then looked up at Mikey. "It's too big," he said.

"Eh, you'll grow into it." Mikey smiled. "Well, I'm off to the lab then."

"You'll come back before you leave town, right?" his mother asked.

"Sure, Mom," Mikey said as he headed out the door.

As Mikey made his way to Professor Oak's laboratory, he waved to neighbors that he passed by. He felt a surge of excitement with each upbeat step. He was going to make a name for himself in the Kanto Battle League! Not just himself, of course, but the other inevitable members of his battle team. He wondered what kind of people would join him on his journey; of course, he would have to get his team registered first before he could recruit anyone.

He soon arrived at the lab, where someone was already waiting outside for him. Mikey smiled. He would recognize that errant mop of hair and cocky smirk anywhere. "Hey, jackass," Mikey said in a clearly joking tone.

"Sup, meathead," Hunter Oak replied in a similarly joking manner. They both laughed at their typical greeting. "So, you getting your battle license today too?"

"You bet," Mikey said, grinning. "I'm taking the gym scene by storm. Everyone's gonna be cheering my my team's names once we become champions!"

"I think you mean my team's names," Hunter insisted. "I don't doubt you'll be able to clear the gyms, but we both know who the stronger battler is when it comes down to it."

"We'll just see about that." That childhood rivalry between the two young men was flaring up again, and Mikey couldn't be more excited for it.

The two entered the building and made their way to the back of the rather open-plan laboratory, where a man dressed in a lab coat and professional-looking attire was waiting for them. To be fair, mostly everyone there besides Mikey and Hunter were dressed similarly, but they were familiar enough with Professor Oak to be able to pick him out from the rest. "Ah, Mikey, Hunter, welcome!" Professor Oak greeted them warmly. "Today's the big day. Are you two excited?"

"You bet I am, Gramps," Hunter said.

"I've been waiting for this day since I was a little kid," Mikey said.

"Well then, let's get started." Professor Oak handed them both a form with a pen, and they began to fill out the information. The information was pretty straightforward with general identification details, their title (Mikey assumed that detail could be changed later on, as he had no intention on staying "Squirtle" forever), whether or not their team's membership would be restricted to certain types, and finally the team's name.

The team name. Mikey hadn't thought that far ahead. "Uh, Professor?" he asked. "Do I need to put in a team name right now?"

"Not immediately, no," Professor Oak reassured him. "In fact, many teams never have formal names, rather being identified by the registration number. If you do come up with a name later, you'll have to update your registration information to fit, but that can be done at any town center."

"All right." Mikey handed his form, sans team name, back to the professor.

"Well, I've already got my team's name figured out," Hunter said smugly, handing his form back as well.

Professor Oak looked over both forms, raising an eyebrow at his grandson's. "But...there's no team name listed here," he said.

Hunter looked a bit nervous. "I, uh, didn't want to give it away just yet."

"A likely story," Mikey playfully jabbed.

Professor Oak took the forms, along with two blank cards, and turned to a computer on the other side of the desk. He entered all the information from one of the forms, plugged one of the cards into the side of the computer, then removed the card and repeated the steps with the other card. He then handed the cards, which already had the pictures of their owners on them, to their new owners. "There you go, boys," he said. "It's that simple. These cards get you access to free lodging at any town center, automatically track your wins and losses, allow you to earn winnings from your battles, receive discounts for battle-specific items at shops, and anything else you might need for your travels. Now, when you have any major change to your team like a new member or someone's title shifts, you plug this into the computer at the town center—or here, if you're still in town—and you can access the team information and make any necessary changes. And you'll be able to change your team name as well when you think of something good, but keep in mind that too many changes is liable to get you a fine."

"Well, I think that about covers everything." Professor Oak clapped his hands together, a proud smile on his face. "I wish you boys good luck in your respective journeys." He winked at Hunter. "Especially you, grandson. Make me proud."

Hunter turned to Mikey with a smug grin. "Hey, what do you say we square off for old time's sake?" he asked.

"I thought you'd never ask," Mikey replied.

"Not in here, boys!" Professor Oak exclaimed. "I thought we learned from last time! If you're going to battle, take it outside like proper adults."

Mikey and Hunter both gave Professor Oak a weird look. "We're both 16," Mikey said.

"You know what I mean," Professor Oak said with a sigh. Regardless of the technicalities, the two newly registered battlers made their way outside, with Professor Oak following to supervise their first official battle.

The two guys took their places a good six feet or so away from each other to start on a somewhat even level. Mikey removed his backpack and placed it on the ground, then made sure to get in some stretches before they began. "Ready whenever you are, asshat," he said with a laugh. Hunter said nothing as a retort, but instead ran towards Mikey and tackled into him with his shoulder, knocking the wind out of him. Mikey grabbed onto Hunter's arm and threw him off, nearly but not quite knocking him off his feet.

Mikey took the chance he had and hit Hunter with a shoulder tackle of his own, which he was able to weather a bit more than the one he had dealt. "A bit rusty, are we?" Hunter taunted. With a slight nudge of his foot, the neighbor's unsuspecting gladiolus fell under his command and had soon wormed its way around Mikey's leg, lifting him and sent him into an unbalanced spin.

"Using Mrs. J's garden against me again?" Mikey laughed. "Surely her babies have been through enough with us by now!"

Shaking his leg free of the now limp flowers, Mikey wiggled his fingers in front of him and began to generate small orbs of water over his hand. He lobbed the water orbs at Hunter, and while he managed to block his face from the impact he was still struck by each orb. His jacket now soaked, Hunter waved his arm out toward the unfortunate gladiolus and commanded it to slap Mikey repeatedly. Slap after slap, the red mark on Mikey's arm was starting to develop some pain along with it even as he tried to move out of the way. Thinking quickly, he ran at Hunter once more and slammed into his torso, knocking him to the ground.

"The battle's over!" Professor Oak declared. "Mikey is the winner!"

Mikey held out an arm to help Hunter up, which he gladly accepted. "Good fight, dipstick," Hunter chuckled.

"Back atcha, nimrod," Mikey said.

"I'd better get on the road," Hunter said. He picked up his own bag, which he placed on the ground near Mikey's, and made his way toward the main road heading out of town. "Smell ya later," he added as he headed off.

"Yeah, wear deodorant next time!" Mikey called after him. He grabbed his backpack and turned to Professor Oak. "I'm gonna head back home real quick, see the family before I leave for real."

"That's very considerate of you," Professor Oak said. "I hope Hunter's at least going to let Daisy know he's leaving before skipping town."

Mikey waved to Professor Oak as he himself made his way down the road and back home. As he approached his house, he began to pull out his newly acquired battle license when he noticed a car parked in the driveway that hasn't been there when he left, a familiar man coming out of the driver's side door. He sped up. He knew exactly whose car that was.

He nearly plowed his father over in an excited hug. "Whoa, hold on, Mike!" his father exclaimed. "Let me at least get in the house first!"

"Sorry, Dad," Mikey said. "Just really glad I got to see ya before I left."

"Wait, you're leaving?" his father asked. He then seemed to understand what Mikey was talking about. "Oh, that was today? Well then, show me your license, I wanna see if they used the stupid picture."

"Already had it out." Mikey held out his license, showing his father that yes, they had indeed used the "stupid picture", one of his yearbook photos where he was making a fairly disgruntled face due to having been asked to remove that orange headband he had worn nearly daily during that year.

"Looking good as always," his father said with a chuckle. "Well, let's get you inside for a proper send-off. I'll bet you anything Mom's making a special lunch to celebrate."

The two entered the house and sure enough, a meal had already been set out. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, macaroni, bread rolls, and April had even made her signature chocolate silk pie for desert. Also present on the table was an unfitting yet absolute favorite dish of Mikey's, crab cakes. The family was soon eating together and chatting happily, congratulating Mikey on his first official win and wishing him luck in his future travels. When he had eaten his fill, Mikey put his barely eaten crab cakes in a napkin for the road, and after thinking about it put a piece of pie in a small food container to take along as well. He gave everyone present a farewell hug, even Lisa who tried to escape by claiming one of her friends had just called her, and set out for real.

Mikey made his way toward the road heading out of town. He took in a deep breath, letting it out in a sigh. "Well, this is it, Mike," he said to himself. "It's like they always say, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

"Not even a day as a licensed battler and you're already making cheesy philosophy references?"

That voice, he recognized it instantly. Mikey turned to see a guy around his age dressed in a smart tan jacket, with very distinct dark markings under his eyes. "Hey, Zephyr!" he exclaimed.

"You're not leaving town without saying goodbye to your best friend, are you?" Zephyr asked, holding out his arms for a hug. Like Hunter, Zephyr had been one of Mikey's friends since they were kids.

"No, I guess not," Mikey said, embarrassed he had almost forgot. "How'd you even know today was the day?"

"My dad told me, duh," Zephyr said. Of course he would've known, Zephyr's father worked as one of Professor Oak's lab assistants. "So, you gonna at least let me give ya a hug for the road?"

"Come on in here, bro." The two embraced, patting each other on the back to end it off.

"I'm gonna miss you, Mike," Zephyr said. "I really am."

That's when something occurred to Mikey. Battle licenses were only necessary for team leaders. "You know," he said, a bit hesitantly, "maybe this doesn't have to be goodbye for us."

"Beg pardon?" Zephyr asked.

"I mean, there's nothing stopping you from comin' along, right?" Mikey asked. "I don't wanna get in between you and whatever direction you had planned for your life, but I could always use a strategist."

"Oh, that's a great idea!" Zephyr exclaimed. "I-I'll totally come along!"

"All right!" Mikey said, pumping his fist into the air. "Team whatever-the-hell-that-long-ass-number-was is a go!"

"You mean you haven't come up with a name yet?" Zephyr asked. "Well since Hunter left at the same time, how about...Verdantia? 'Cuz he's grass and grass is green, kind of a joke about him?"

"That's incredibly petty and just the kind of thing we would pull on one another, I love it."

And together, with the mental note to get that name registered once they got to the next town, Mikey and Zephyr set out.

AN: Henlo yes I am here with Pokejinka story you like please. Haha, in all seriousness, I'd been debating with myself for a while whether or not to write about my Pokejinka teams and I finally decided to go for it. I intend for this to be a different spin on the typical "trainer goes on their journey" stories, although I don't know how prevalent Pokejinka team stories are (or even if trainer journeys are prevalent anymore like they were back when I was actually trying to write Pokémon fanfic!) so if they are indeed fairly common then let's hope I can make this one stand out enough to be it's own thing. Just a quick bit of in-universe jargon that differentiates from the games themselves: "title" refers to what Pokémon species they would be; in this case, Mikey and Zephyr were my Squirtle and Pidgey in Leaf Green, Hunter was my rival's Bulbasaur, and (just for giggles) Professor Oak in this universe is a Charizard. Yes, that makes sense even if I weren't ignoring the egg group rule for couples giving birth in my Pokejinka universe, as all the Kanto starters are in the Monster egg group. I did my research. I ain't gonna let slightly-above-basic game mechanics get away from me, hehe.

I'm gonna warn you guys, Team Verdantia is going to be kind of a "boy's club" until fairly late into the story. This is based on my actual Leaf Green team, and the gender ratios just happened that way to make everyone male except for the last member of the team. If that disappoints anyone, I'm sorry, that's just how the gender roulette had spun in the game.

If anyone is curious for more (potentially spoilery) details on Team Verdantia, check out Chronicles of Tajiria on Tumblr with the username "chronicles-of-tajiria"! There's bios for not only this team, but my teams in other games, as well as some peeks at legendaries and mythicals. It's also an ask blog, so feel free to ask any of the battlers (of ANY team, not just the one this story is focusing on) anything that's on your mind while you're there. Have fun!

—Jess aka PuppyLuver256