I don't own any copyrighted characters, ideas, plots or Pokémon used in this fanfiction.

The Johto League

Chapter 1

A Good Start

It is every pokémon trainer's lifelong dream and childhood fantasy to receive their first pokémon, and their most treasured memory is the day that it happened.

Well, nearly.

I'm Holly. Holly Evergreen, of New Bark Town. You probably don't recognise my name yet, but that's something I want to change.

Like many children, it's my dream to become a pokémon master. And like many children, I received my pokémon training licence on my tenth birthday. But after that, it's a different story.

During my childhood I went to a pretentious junior school full of kids who hated pokémon and their trainers. Not a pokémon school, a proper academic school with more boring subjects than you could shake a Sudowoodo at. The kids weren't abusive, being only children, but they were all obsessed with intellect and thought the idea of travelling around with a team of ferocious beasts at your beck and call was absolutely horrific. Not me though, I wanted to be a trainer, and that was that. I ignored their taunts and left the school at the earliest opportunity to pursue my dream.

Unfortunately, that opportunity didn't come until I was well past my eleventh birthday, and once again, the time rolled around for Professor Elm to hand out the starting pokémon. I could practically feel the freedom of walking the world at your own pace and taking in everything there is to see, but there was another problem.

Ever since I can remember, I've been able to understand the language of pokémon. Not just pokémon I was familiar with – I can grasp the meaning of every howl, grunt, snarl and chirp as if it was plain English. Professor Elm knew about this, just like most people in town, so for the last few years I have been helping him out with important research into pokémon speech and how to translate it. We hadn't managed to get very far, since I had no idea how or why pokémon speech made sense to me, so most of the time I would help him to take care of his three starter pokémon: Chikorita, Cyndaquil and Totodile.

I would keep them happy and amused, teach them about things, and listen to what they had to say. Every time I got home from school I would run straight to the laboratory and spend as much time with them as I could. Then, when the time came, I would watch all three get chosen by brand new trainers and go out into the world. I never stopped wishing that one day, one of those trainers would be me.

But as time went on, I got more used to seeing Chikorita, Totodile and Cyndaquil, and I realised I knew nearly everything about them. I would absorb any pokémon information I could get my hands on, but when it came to the three starters, I could tell you anything you wanted to know. Their types, attacks, type weaknesses, evolution levels, even their average height and weight. And the job of a pokémon trainer is to learn about their pokémon as they travel with them, growing together and understanding each other. What would it be like for a pokémon to be given to a new trainer who could already describe them from head to toe? I came to the conclusion that I'd spent too much time with the New Bark starters – none of them were right for me. I would much rather start off with a pokémon I knew next to nothing about, just as the pokémon wouldn't know anything about me. That's how it was supposed to work. But with the day for Professor Elm to hand out the new starters coming up, what could I do?

'What am I going to do?' I wondered aloud to nobody in particular.

'Honey, what's the matter?' My mum had overheard.

'It's this business about the starter pokémon,' I sighed. 'I'm all confused.'

'Are you having trouble deciding which one to take?' she asked sympathetically, putting her arm around my shoulder. She didn't completely understand the problem, but you couldn't blame her. She was a lovely mum but pokémon didn't interest her very much.

'Why don't you try going out for a walk?' she advised. 'You can get some fresh air and it'll help you think.'

'All right,' I smiled. 'Thanks, mum.'

I stepped out of the house to the sound of Pidgey cooing in their nests and Furret rustling in the grass. Most days I would have stopped to listen to what they were saying, but my mind was too preoccupied this time. I began to wander aimlessly around the small town.

Perhaps, if I could work up the courage to decline the pokémon from Professor Elm, I might tag along with one of the other new trainers just until we reached Cherrygrove City. The next town along was quite small, but they might have some spare starters available for me to pick up. I wouldn't mind starting with a Sentret or Hoothoot, or even a Rattata, as long as it was a pokémon I hadn't been around my whole life.

Then again, would I even have the courage to refuse Professor Elm's pokémon? I stopped walking. I'd known the man for most of my life, and I knew he'd be looking forward to seeing me off on my journey. I didn't want to disappoint anyone.

Feeling frustrated, I looked up to see a beautiful sparkling river. My feet had carried me to the east, where the town stopped and the water began. Watching the water flowing past helped me forget everything for a moment.

'Hey, Holly!' I heard a voice. 'You coming aboard?'

It was a young boy, just older than me, standing on the deck of a large boat. His father ran a service, ferrying people to Tohjo Falls and back on his ship. I walked over to the boy, next to the boarding planks.

'Hi, Marty,' I greeted, 'I suppose a quick trip wouldn't hurt. How much?'

'Oh, nothing for you,' he grinned. 'Aren't you leaving on your journey soon? Take a ride for old time's sake, before you go.'

'Thanks Marty…' I tried to smile back, 'but I'm not so sure about the journey any more…' I walked past him onto the boat.

Marty started rolling up the bridge so the ship could leave. 'Oh, don't worry… I'm sure you'll be fine…'

He was interrupted when I heard a voice yelling from far away, but it was getting closer.

'Wait! Hold the boat!'

Before Marty could bring in the bridge, somebody streaked up the riverbank and tried to push their way on to the boat before it left. I felt something accidentally pull my shoulder and before I knew what was happening, I was dragged over the side of the ship and plunged into the water.

The river wasn't all that deep, but it was certainly cold. Rivers are usually wet, too, and this one was no exception. I struggled to the surface and brushed a curtain of blonde hair away from my face. In the water with me was another boy.

'What did you do that for?!' I exclaimed angrily at him.

The boy pushed his damp brown hair to one side and looked at me haughtily. We both swam to the side of the river, where Marty was standing on the bank, extending a hand to help me out. On dry land I inspected the state of my soaked jeans and dripping hair. The boy who pulled me in seemed irate about the condition of his blue clothes. He shook some water out of his spiky hair and went to walk onto the boat.

'Hey!' yelled Marty. 'Aren't you going to apologise?'

The boy stopped and looked at us. 'I think you should know who you're talking to before you start demanding anything.'

'Oh? And who might we be talking to?' I asked in a sarcastic tone.

'Gary Oak, who just happens to be the grandson of the great Professor Oak. I'm sure you've heard of him.'

Heard of him? Of course I had. Professor Oak was world-renowned.

Gary turned away and walked onto the ship, apparently feeling that he had given an adequate explanation. I scowled after him.

'Don't worry about him,' Marty reassured me. 'Just leave him. Let's go get you a towel.'

'Yeah, okay,' I agreed while looking at where Gary had been, determined to have the final word. 'What a jerk.'