Okay, so I've been playing a lot of Platinum and have been waiting for the release of HeartGold/SoulSilver in the Spring. So much so that I've made up a team and a name for the SoulSilver I plan on getting. That and an entire region… So sue me; I have an overactive imagination xD

Meh, but that's not what you're here for. I'm currently suspending all other projects in favor of this one (except Advent Ragnarok) I WILL be accepting OC's for this story as Gym Leaders, Characters of the Day, traveling companions (I do need a male fourth for the group I've got planned out) or any other. Send them to me via PM and I'll decide on whether or not to use him/her.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, for the love of Lugia, NO MARY-SUES!!!! That means your character is NOT, under ANY circumstance, allowed to own a Legendary Pokémon. One (1) shiny will be accepted on an OC's team, however.

With that all said an done, I present to you Challenger!

Disclaimer: I DO NOT own the Pokémon franchise in any way shape or form. I do support the official release, as should all fans of the game, and I write this purely for the fun of it and to improve my writing ability. Plus, it's fun :D


Puel Town, Almia. Seven years ago


"Dad, where'd we move to again?"

The boy had messy black hair that he absolutely refused to comb, square-framed glasses, and wore black shorts with an orange shirt. His tan skin was in stark contrast to his sister's pale white and his greenish-brown eyes sparked with curiosity.

He had just moved from his hometown in Summerland to live in Almia, yet another region occupied by Pokémon Rangers. The boy never really looked up to the rangers like the flocks of kids at his school did when they brought in a Ranger to teach about fire safety. The others called him strange, but that was alright; he wanted to be a Trainer when he grew up anyway.

Grey had spent hours in front of his TV watching the League Channel and picking up battle techniques here and there. He often imagined himself commanding a Pokémon to use an attack that narrowly saved the duo from defeat and winning the Pokémon League Championships. His favorite trainer and reason for wanting to be a trainer was Green Oak from Pallet Town.

And yet, Grey was being trained as a Pokémon Ranger. He'd already been given classes in the basics - speed, endurance, agility - and his studies in those fields, as well as tactical thinking and regular school subjects would most likely continue. But even at such a young age, Grey Thomas challenged everything put in front of him, including why he had to become a Pokémon Ranger, always asking 'Why not?'

"This is Almia, son. Daddy and mommy got new jobs here, so we had to move," Van said cheerily.

Like his son, Van had black hair and tanned skin, but his eyes were a shocking blue color and burned with determination. Van looked down at Grey, who'd run off to the truck after hearing the name of his new home to play with Van's Arcanine, Ellie.

The man had high hopes for his son to follow in his footsteps as a Pokémon Ranger and, judging by his love of Pokémon, Van judged that wouldn't be too hard. He smiled contentedly, dreaming of a father-son Ranger team which emulated the relationship he had with his father.


Puel Town, 5 Years Later


"Happy birthday, Grey!"

The shouts rang out in unison, all aimed towards making the twelve-year-old boy standing on top of a chair in front of a birthday cake happy. At this moment, Grey was immensely, indescribably happy. All of his family and friends were here just for his birthday. It just couldn't get better.

Van had given the boy a necklace with the emblem of Fiore engraved onto it and a pair of goggles the Grey'd begged for since last year because he thought they looked cool. In a way, Van had to admit the boy was right; his son did look more like him with the goggles plastered onto his forehead and a grin upon his face. Although, why he wanted goggles when he already wore glasses was a mystery.

Nurse Joy Thomas and her two Pokémon, Rhea the Chansey and Alastair the Ninetales, had put together a kind of makeshift fireworks display using Rhea's Egg Bomb and Alastair's Fire Blast, Dark Pulse and Energy Ball attacks. The look on her little Grey's face was enough to put Joy in a state of euphoria for days. The leather wrist band with the PokéBall charm helped to bring a smile to the boy's face as well.

Rachel, Grey's older sister, had given Grey a book on the different kinds of Pokémon in the world with detailed information on them. Grey'd told everyone he wanted a Pokédex, but seeing as that was near impossible, the book had sufficed.

Grey's friends from school were also here. Ethan, Maxwell, Amy, and, despite numerous protests, Leena Avery. Grey never did like the girl.

Finally, it was time to cut the cake. Grey grasped the knife in his hands and cut into the cake just as a knock at the door sounded.

"Wonder who that could be," Van wondered. He meant it, too; Van didn't know anyone else was coming. The man answered the door and exclaimed in surprise at the person standing at the threshold.

"Zachary?! You old dog, what are you doing here?" Van laughed. The man that stepped through the door was a mirror image of van, except he possessed a pair of eyes that were identical to his nephews.

"What; a man can't stop by for his nephew's twelfth birthday?" the man rumbled. Slapping his twin on the back. Zachary Thomas entered the room, carrying a cylindrical case in his arms, followed by a Charizard with a pink bow tied around its arm. "Scarlett decided to come around, too. Hope you don't mind, bro." Van laughed in response.

"Nah, I don't. I never get tired of seeing you, old girl," he said, hugging the Flame Pokémon. Scarlett growled kindly and returned the gesture.

"Hello, Zachary," Joy said warmly to her brother-in-law.

"Uncle Zach!" Grey shouted, bounding over to his uncle and throwing his arms around Zach's midriff.

"Grey! How ya been, kiddo?" Zach asked enthusiastically.

"I've been great," the boy answered. He turned and noticed the Charizard standing faithfully by his uncle. "And you brought Scarlett, too." Grey jumped onto the Charizard's back, poking at her wings while the dragon-like beast attempted to pry him off.

"So, did you bring a gift for him?" Joy asked, laughing at her son's antics. "Knowing you, you'll be spoiling him for sure."

"Oh, come on; is that all I am? The uncle that spoils his niece and nephew?" Zach joked in mock hurt. "Haha, you might say that, Joy. I brought him a very special gift."

Zachary looked over at his nephew in pride; a look that was matched by his brother. The case in his hands carried a small, bright orange egg with a flame pattern on it, and Van had a suspicion as to what was inside it after he looked at Scarlett, who had finally gotten Grey off of her back.

"You're giving him that? And there go my plans of giving him a Growlithe," Van sighed. He was only half-serious. Van knew that if he didn't give Grey his first Pokémon, then his brother would step up to the plate in the blink of an eye.

"Beat you to the punch, bro," Zachary joked. "Tell you what; we'll put both our names on it. Giving him his first now was your idea, after all." Van nodded and clapped his twin on the back. Turning the Grey, the full-grown twins chorused:

"Grey, Happy Birthday."

The boy turned around and peered at the egg case resting in Zach's arms. Zachary handed the boy the case, which Grey found to be slightly heavy as he stared at it in awe.

"Grey, your mother, your uncle and I decided that it was high time you got your first Pokémon today. I was planning on giving you one of Ellie's pups," Van looked over at his brother who sheepishly rubbed his head, "but Zach beat me to it."

"Thanks, dad, Uncle Zach," Grey breathed. "This is the greatest gift ever! But… What's going to hatch from it?" Grey pressed his hands to the glass of the case, feeling a slight warmth radiating off the egg's surface.

"That's for you to find out," Joy smiled. "When that egg hatches, it's going to be your best friend, Grey. I'll help you take care of it, okay?"

"Sounds cool, Mom," Grey grinned toothily. The young boy carefully placed the egg on the table and picked it up out of it's case. Grey could only stare at the egg in his arms and grin widely as he held it. It was an odd feeling, holding the egg. It was radiating with warmth and a little thumping pulse could be felt inside of it…

"It's alive," Grey said. "It's going to be one really cool Pokémon when it hatches." At that moment, thought struck Grey like a hammer blow to the head.

He'd just been given his first Pokémon…

He could become a Trainer now! Pure, undiluted joy ran through the boy's system as he felt like jumping for joy. As soon as that egg hatched, he'd be free to go and become a Trainer.


Puel Town, Present


Three years ago, neither Grey or Van could've seen this one coming. Both of them, standing across from each other with the dinner table placed between them and eyes blazing with anger. Sparks practically flew at the other when one spoke.

A furious Grey, nearly red in the face, stared up at his father with a look of indignation practically painted onto him.

"Why? I turned fifteen last month and you promised I could leave home then," Grey said, struggling heavily to keep his voice even under his anger and frustration. Sure; he was mad at Van, but this was his dad here. He couldn't bring himself to yell.

"Because, Grey, Almia doesn't even have a Pokémon League to begin with. We don't even sell PokéBalls, so there's really no reason for you to even -- "

"But, Dad, I could leave Almia and go somewhere else!" Grey argued vehemently. "Johto, Kanto; even Sinnoh since it's the closest place to Almia and Fiore. Just let me go!"

"Char!"

At Grey's feet was a small, orange Lizard Pokémon with a flame burning brightly at the end of its tail. Its face was contorted into the one of anger Grey restrained. He wanted nothing more than to yell at this human along with its trainer, but he knew it wouldn't help one bit. No human bar Grey had been able to understand him.

The Charmander, who Grey named Soul, had been Grey's first ever Pokémon and his best friend. But, despite only being three years old, Soul, like all Pokémon, wanted to travel and see new places, not end up a house pet for his entire life.

Plus, it made Soul restless to just sit around and do nothing. He was an ambitious little lizard who was always itching for a fight, even though he had barely any control over his inner fire! So little, in fact, that even Ember was difficult to execute. Thank heavens for Ellie's teachings, at least.

"Grey, 'no' means 'no' and that's final!" Van shouted. For three years, he and Grey had this same argument countless times and he'd begun to grow tired of his son's constant pleading to go on a journey with Soul.

"And what's so wrong about becoming a Pokémon Ranger like me and your sister?"

"I don't want to do the same thing everybody else in the family's done since forever, Dad. and you know I hate Capture Stylers. I mean, what's the point of catching a Pokémon if you don't even get to make friends with it?" Grey countered.

Van sighed, placing his fingers to his wrinkled brow, before turning and walking away.

"Dad!"

"I don't want to hear it, Grey; I just don't. You'll go to the Ranger academy and like it otherwise, you'll just go to regular classes. Good night."

With that said, Van Thomas left his son fuming and the Charmander growling in sympathy with his angry friend.

Grey, now angry beyond all belief, didn't want to hang around the house and get even angrier. To remedy said situation, he stomped out of the house, grabbing his jacket as he did, and made his way to the Puel Town harbor.

He'd go there whenever he just needed to cool off after getting into another argument with his dad over their views on Pokémon.


An hour later, it was late afternoon and Grey was nearing the Puel Town docks, staring out at the water the entire time with an angry but pensive look on his spectacled face. Grey stood at the edge of one of the docks, Soul ever-faithfully by his side, warily keeping away from the edge of the docks.

The two stared out at the water, stained the color of the golden-orange sun, and watched wild Wingull and Pelipper glide on the ocean winds.

"Soul, what do you think is beyond the sea? What's there to see that isn't here?" Grey muttered angrily. The memory of his father's stubbornness was still fresh in his memory.

Now, Grey had never told anybody, but, ever since he was old enough to remember, he'd been able to understand a fair amount of what a Pokémon was saying to him through small 'ripples', as he called them. He'd discovered this seven years ago, after some event that was now just one big blur to him.

When he heard a voice in his head while feeling a ripple of sudden and inexplicable hunger at the same time, he found out it was coming from his Mom's Ninetales, Alastair. Needless to say, he was freaked out of his mind. Now, he just accepted it as natural.

"Charmander Char,"Soul replied with a lazy yawn. He turned his attention to his tail flame, which was slowly burning the wooden dock, releasing a smoke trail that twisted and turned like a floating, wispy Arbok.

"That exactly why we have to find out!" Grey shouted. "It isn't fair Dad's just keeping us locked up like this! I want to see the world; you do too, right?"

"Char-Char! Charmander char Char!" was the Charmander's passionate reply, an aura of confidence hanging in his voice.

"Char char! Charmander!" We keep trying until he gives up! Soul pumped his tiny, clawed fist into the air.

"Then there's no reason why you and I can't go off on an adventure. Meet new people and Pokémon; challenge Gyms; compete in tournaments… Make a name for ourselves." Grey's determination and yearning was nearly palpable, as if his words were soaked in it.

"I want to take the ultimate step and find the courage to be bold. To risk everything out there, fighting my hardest with you to make myself known! What's so wrong about that?"

"Charmander." Other than the fact that the way you described it was corny, none.

"Another reason… And it was not corny."

"Cha~ar." Yes, it was.

"…Okay, fine, you win," he conceded to the Charmander. Grey silently flicked his hood up and walked away from the docks to a new destination: the only place that had a video phone that Grey knew of.

The Puel Town Pokémon Centre.

When Grey was in a mood as bad as this, he'd always call the one person who could make him feel better. His dad's brother, Zachary.

---

"So, he said no again, huh, bud?" Zach sighed.

Grey the phone in his ear as he let Soul wander around the Centre. Grey's mom was a Nurse Joy, so, whenever he needed to just hang out, he visited the Centre. It was cool to see all the visiting Trainers with their Pokémon on vacation.

Some where powerful and others, just greenhorns. But every person to come into that Centre was living Grey's dream.

Something he envied them for greatly.

"Yeah… I don't get it, Uncle Zach; why won't he listen to me? Going on a journey is just as dangerous as being a Ranger, and yet he won't let me leave home. It's frustrating!"

"I understand, kiddo. But maybe things'll start looking up sooner or later. Just out of curiosity, where were you going to go when you started your journey?" Zach asked.

"Johto, for sure!" Grey said, immediately cheering up. Talking about his plans for a journey did that to him.

"Start in New Bark town then head on the road to the first Gym in Violet City. But, if I couldn't go to Johto, Kanto would be my second choice."

Zachary laughed heartily at this, a sense of nostalgia flooding his mind like a pleasant fragrance.

"I remember my journey through Kanto…" Zachary smiled. "Scarlett and I have fond memories of there, don't we, girl?" he asked, turning the camera on his end towards the Charizard in Zachary's office. Scarlett roared, flaring her wings as a sense of nostalgia washed over her.

"That's right; Scarlett was your starter Pokémon. Must be cool getting to fly around on her back," Grey said enviously. Grey imagined getting to fly on the back of a Charizard; the wind rushing past him, roaring in his ears as the Flame Pokémon attempted a steep dive and climbed back up again at amazing speeds…

"Oh! That reminds me!" Zachary exclaimed. This rather rudely pulled Grey out of his fantasy and brought to his eyes the image of Zachary digging around in the desk his vid-phone was placed on.

"Your birthday was last month, right? Fourteen years old already," Zach mumbled. "Well, since I regretfully missed it, I decided I'd get you a present or two to make up for it. I think you'll be pleased." Zach said the last half with a mischievous and smug edge in his voice. An edge that bespoke of mischief, even if it was well-intentioned.

"What are you talking about?" Grey asked, fully curious. Soul got up in his Trainer's lap, stretched and yawned, blinked at the vid-phone's camera and began pawing at it in curiosity. These human devices never did make sense to the Charmander. And, furthermore, why wasn't he allowed to chew on them?

"As I recall, your dad and I gave you Soul when you were twelve," Zach said, totally avoiding Grey's question.

"Yeah, but what's that got to do with anything? You knew that already, Uncle Zach," Grey said, even more curious. What was his wily uncle planning now?

"Well, since Van, the hardhead, is do dead-set against you going on a journey, I've taken the liberty of supplying you with a means to go completely against your father's wishes. So…"

It suddenly made sense to Grey.

But there was no way.

Zach couldn't mean what Grey thought he did, could he? If he was, then that meant…!

"Happy Birthday, Grey!" Zachary grinned broadly, holding out a plain blue boat ticket. Grey tilted his head to the side in confusion. He'd been expecting something… better?

"My present's a boat ride?" he asked naively. "I thought you'd be getting me something better."

"Oh, come on! Way to ruin the climax," Zachary muttered. "Yes, it's a boat ride, but not just any boat ride! A once-in-a-life-time chance! I'm offering to take you on your journey!"

Grey's eyes lit up like the fireworks at his twelfth birthday and Soul immediately rushed over.

"Seriously?!" the boy shouted.

"Mander!" Soul said, tripping over his tail as he ran over.

"Of course I am! You already know I own a boat which is how I get to Puel Harbor from Fiore in the first place. And the Pokémon League has established a new branch in the archipelago east of Hoenn, so, I thought 'Why not let Grey go?' Hence, Happy Birthday, you knuckle head," Zachary half-shouted half-laughed. Grey was tempted to start laughing too, but stopped when he saw Zachary's face turn uncharacteristically serious.

"Listen, Grey."

"Uhm… Yeah, Uncle Zach?"

"If you accept my offer, you'll have the choice to leave home without Van's permission and go on your journey."

Grey's heart skipped a full beat and Soul's tail twitched in full attention to Zachary's words. Both Trainer and Pokémon were thinking the same thing:

Was Zach being serious?

"However…" Zachary began again.

"Huh?" Grey mumbled, snapping back into attention

"If you choose to listen to Van and stay home, I won't have anything against you, but you might never get this chance again. What'll it be, Grey?"

For the first time in his fifteen years, Grey was forced to think, and think hard.

Did he really want to leave home? I mean, sure, this'd mean fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming a Trainer and competing in a League with Gale at his side! But… Everything Grey knew was here…

His friends.

His family.

Alastair and Ellie, the Centre, all those years of fantasizing of being the best Trainer to ever come out of Almia, a place that didn't even train Pokémon to begin with. He wanted the glory; the recognition; even if he failed, he could at least look back and say

"I had the guts to challenge my home and everything it stood for."

…Now that Grey thought about it, all he really wanted was the chance.

The more he thought, the more his want to take the chance and his attachment to Puel Town fought, turning his mindscape into a vicious storm of indecision. Soul, sensing his friend's conflict, turned to Grey and offered an encouraging grin.

Grey looked down and a smile spread across his face.

"What do you say, buddy?"

"Char! Charman-der!" the Lizard Pokémon said brashly.

Grey's lips cemented themselves shut until he finally found the courage to give an answer, calming the storm and bringing in the light of confidence.

"Soul thinks I should go for it and he's never been wrong before," he said bravely. His face changed to one of reminiscence as he added,

"Although, there was that one time he decided to piss off the Venusaur tribe living the forest; that was just stupidity."

"Char?! Char char Charmander!" Soul shouted indignantly.

"I was kidding," Grey laughed. The boy turned to the camera once more and said.

Zachary only laughed and began giving Grey the details of this escape to freedom. They would leave early in the morning so as not to arouse suspicion. Grey would pack the essentials and leave a note on his refrigerator explaining what had happened to him. Grey wouldn't want his parents to worry.

After twenty minutes of planning (which was much too short of a time to plan something as big as this), Grey hung up the phone and went home to grab his messenger bag so he could pack it with supplies from the Centre.

"This is it, Soul," he grinned wildly. "Tomorrow, a new region for us to run through. Let's go out there and rip the competition to shreds!" Grey roared into the sky.

"Char!" Soul replied heartily, Grey's aura of confidence riling the Fire-type up. Finally, a chance to prove themselves. And losing was most certainly not an option.


So, we have our classic 'run away from home' story here. What's going to happen next with Grey and Soul?

Zachary's a kickass uncle. I mean, he lets you directly defy your parents and go out on your own in an area you know absolutely nothing about. How awesome is that?

As the story goes on, Grey and Soul's personalities will be shown more in depth. What I will tell you now is that Grey's incredibly headstrong and sarcastic and Soul's a battle-happy little psycho.

And the OC submission starts… now. And remember: NO Sues, no Legends and only ONE OC submission will be allowed to own a shiny.