Hi! Welcome to part one of my little experiment! Well, it's really more Sinnoh character practice than anything. Anyway, the basic set-up is that I chose a quote from a character, and then did a quick drabble/story based on my thoughts on that quote, hence the title. There will be three groups/chapters: Gym Leaders, Partners, and Elite Four/Champion. Everything has been written and beta'ed, so updates shouldn't take too long, especially if reviews come in fast.
Speaking of betas, I thank Blakeface, SuicidalToeSocks, and "Jo" for looking over this fic. It's a lot better because of you guys.
As a side note, this will be the longest chapter because there are eight stories here, while the following chapters will have only five. Also, while some of the stories will share interconnecting details, there is no grand overarching plot involved here. Quote sources will be clarified at the end of the chapters.
Disclaimer: No I do not own Pokemon. Though a Raichu would be great for saving on electricity.
EDIT: Minor errors fixed.
Reading Between the Lines
"When I became a Gym Leader, I finally realized how great my dad is. Not that I would ever admit that to him, of course."
He did it! He, Roark, Byron's son, had finally reached Gym Leader status! And his old man had said that it would take him years more to achieve that rank. Take that, Dad!
And the first thing he would do as a Gym Leader? He was going to boot out Team Galactic out of his area, that's what! Nobody needed those scoundrels around, doing Arceus-knows-what in Oreburgh's mines. It was his duty to drive out those criminals from his city. As a Gym Leader!
…He had no idea the Galactic admins were so tough. His beloved Rock-types were easily cornered and conquered by Saturn's Toxicroak in the cramped quarters of the mine. He hadn't thought about the cave's size at all when he brought his best and bulkiest. Now the burgundy-haired teen was surrounded by Galactic grunts, unprotected.
Saturn smirked coolly, setting his sights on Roark.
"Toxicroak, teach this kid what pain really is."
His head hurt. Scratch that, his whole body hurt, hurt and burned. How long had he been out? And his Pokemon…his Pokemon were gone! Rampardos, Aerodactyl, Onix, Golem, all of them! Team Galactic, Team Galactic must have stolen them!
He sat up. His vision was so blurry…did they take his glasses too? No, they were still there…so what was wrong with his eyes?
The ruddy-haired Gym Leader turned to see the taller, more muscular figure of Byron running toward him. When had his dad come here, all the way from Canalave City? And since when did his dad run for anything? He was kinda beat-up, yeah, but it wasn't as bad as it looked, he was sure. But his Pokemon-
"Where'd…they go?" Roark growled, struggling to his feet. "My Pokemon…I've got to get my Pokemon back…"
Roark took a few steps before leaning against the cavern wall. Forget his eyes, what was wrong with his legs? He wasn't that injured…was he?
"And where do you think you're going in that condition?" asked Byron sternly. "You aren't catching anybody if you can hardly keep on your feet."
"No buts about it," interrupted the burly Gym Leader, helping Roark to walk. "Looks like you're poisoned on top of everything else. You're going to the hospital. Now."
Roark remained silent, giving a weak nod.
It was amazing how many people came to visit him while he was recovering at the hospital. Of course the people from Oreburgh and his father would come regularly, but so did the other Gym Leaders, even the ones from far away. He even got to meet the Elite Four and the Champion herself, Cynthia. She was so ordinary for someone who was the best Trainer of the land.
"…You're lucky," commented Volkner, the highest-ranked of the Gym Leaders, as he stroked the Raichu in his lap. Even though he was the furthest away, coming from Sunyshore City, he was one of the most frequent visitors. That surprised Roark, considering the golden-haired Gym Leader was known for his aloofness.
"Yeah, I know," said Roark, looking at all the flowers and cards gathered around his bed. He was starting to run out of room for the gifts. "I got hurt pretty bad, but it could have been a lot worse."
"You're lucky to have a father like yours, I mean," the golden-haired teen elaborated, as his orange mouse snuggled up closer to him. "He's been roughing up Galactic grunts right and left looking for your Pokemon. I heard he even defeated that Saturn guy."
"Oh," replied Roark. "Well…yeah, I guess I am. Though he can be a royal pain too…Man, I have such a long way to go though. I thought I had finally caught up to him when I became a Gym Leader, but I'm still nowhere near his level."
"Speaking of being a Gym Leader, what will you do now?" asked the Electric-Type Gym Leader. "I mean, are you going to wait and see if your old Pokemon are going to be found, or are you going to train new Pokemon?"
"Well…I haven't even thought about it," admitted Roark. "I don't want to turn my back on my old Pokemon…but I know that they don't have good chances of coming back either…not if they haven't been found by now…"
"Probably shipped overseas at this point," said Volkner, looking out the room's single window. A Staraptor swooped by, carrying a unfortunate Bidoof in its talons.
Roark was silent.
"Well, aren't you social today, Volkner?" a deeper voice greeted.
Both Gym Leaders turned to see Byron entering the room, carrying a Pokeball. The mud and dust on his boots left distinct impressions on the otherwise sterile white floor.
"Believe it or not, I actually do enjoy being around other people and having a social life outside my Gym," the Electric-type Gym Leader answered with a smirk. "A limited social life, but a social life."
"Well, that's part of being a Gym Leader. Gym duties come first," answered Byron, before turning to Roark. "Speaking of Gym Leader duties…here's a new friend for you, son."
He tossed Roark the Pokeball. After nearly fumbling the Pokemon capsule, Roark spotted the name "Cranidos" on it.
"We haven't got your Pokemon back yet, and you need something to fight with in the meantime as a Gym Leader," Byron went on, sitting down. "Besides, can't have too many fossil Pokemon, right?"
Roark looked up, smiled, and nodded.
"…I'm in a dilemma now. You see, I don't like ghost Pokemon very much. But, what if…What if there was a Grass-type ghost Pokemon? What then?"
"Gyaaaaah! Get it away from me!"
As she fled from the possessed lawn-mower (which was now glowing and orange with a freaky smiling face on it, in case people didn't realize it was possessed) Gardenia wished that her two Gym Leader friends would…well, do something about her current situation.
"Aww! It's cute!" exclaimed Candice as it whizzed by.
"…It's weird," Maylene stated quietly, looking unsure about the whole situation. "…Then again, most Ghost-type Pokemon are weird."
"I know it's a Ghost-type Pokemon!" yelled Gardenia, nearly tripping over a root. "I don't like Ghost-type Pokemon, remember?!"
"That's why we came here to Eterna Forest so late the first place, to cure your fear of Ghost-types," Candice reminded. "Though I wasn't expecting that thing to pop out of that messed-up TV at the Old Chateau…But it's, what, Level 15? Your Pokemon could beat it easily."
"But it keeps possessing stuff!" shouted the auburn-haired Grass-type user. "First a fridge, then a fan, and now a lawnmower! How am I supposed to fight it like that?! Ghosty Pokemon lawn-mower thing, go away!"
"I don't think it's trying to attack you," said Maylene, as she watched Gardenia and the lawnmower run in circles around one of the larger trees. "I think it's just chasing you because you're running."
Gardenia looked back at her pursuer. It was going pretty slow actually, and considering that her own running had gotten much slower…
The auburn-haired Gym Leader stopped, and watched as the possessed lawnmower grinded to a halt as well. She stared straight into its grinning face...it almost seemed cute. Then it revved its motor loudly, causing her to yell and jump back a few feet. It giggled mischievously.
"Okay, I just called Fantina, and she says it's called a Rotom," said Candice, putting away her Poketch. "It mimics types depending on what it possesses. Right now it's mimicking a Grass-type, actually."
"Your specialty," said Candice, smiling.
Gardenia turned back to the Rotom, which giggled again, and then brought out an empty Pokeball.
"Gee, I'm hungry…Oh sorry, it's nothing. I didn't say anything."
What was strength?
Well, strength was being strong, right? To be able to defeat her opponents, that was strength, wasn't it? To be able to train herself, to be able to punch and kick effectively, that took strength. To only eat so much, that took willpower, which took strength.
"You don't eat enough," says Candice. "That old man of yours leaves you with enough money to buy your own food, doesn't he?"
It took strength to stay strong, right? She wasn't a Pokemon. She had to keep training to keep her strength. She had to stay strong to stay a Gym Leader, to support her Pokemon, to support her father.
"What about you?" asks Gardenia. "Don't you care about yourself? It's okay to care about yourself, Maylene. We worry about you sometimes."
Her father did not have strength. She knew that. He was a gambler. He loved the slot machines over her mother. That's why her mother left. Her mother wasn't strong either. If her mother was strong, she wouldn't have left her and her father. But her mother hadn't been strong, and because her father wasn't strong either she had to take care of him herself. It took strength to support someone who was weak, right?
"It also takes strength to leave that person, to strike out on your own," says Roark. "You have that strength, Maylene, the strength to lead your own life. You can make yourself weak, trying to rely too much on your own strength. We're here for you, Maylene. I'm here for you."
What was strength? There were many kinds. But what kind of strength was hers? What kind could she look down at herself and say, "This is me, this is my strength. This is where it comes from."
Perhaps her strength was…her friends?
"For all the training I do, there are still plenty tougher than me. The stronger I get, the farther away the goal seems to be. The road is harsh and long. There's no end to it. But beside me are my Pokemon. Every inch of the way!"
"Oh wow! Thank you so much Crasher Wake! This is awesome!" gushed the green-haired teen, as he stared at the autographed box set in amazement. "Wait until I show Flint! He'll be so jealous! Anyway, gotta go back to the League! Bye!"
Both Crasher Wake and Byron watched as the lanky youth flew off the Iron Island shore on his Yanmega, the boy and his Pokemon soon a speck in the distance.
"…There's something strange about having an Elite Four member ask you for an autograph," said Crasher Wake with a laugh, his Floatzel laughing along with him.
"Well, you're not just a Gym Leader. You're a wrestling superstar," replied Byron, pounding some scrap metal with a hammer. His Steelix was also pounding metal nearby with its tail, albeit a much larger piece. Overshadowing both was the mountain of Iron Island, housing a once-plentiful mine of iron ore. But that was in the past.
"Still, Aaron's a Elite Four member," the muscular superstar stated, as he and Floatzel started doing pre-swimming stretches. "If anything I should be the one asking for autographs."
"Aaron's what, fifteen, sixteen?" replied Byron, pausing to wipe sweat off his brow. "Top-class Trainer or not, he's still a teenage boy. They love that kind of stuff."
"Like Roark?" asked the Water-type Gym Leader, as the tide drew nearer.
"Like Roark," confirmed Byron, smirking. "Guess I better get an autograph for him while you're here. Or has he already asked you himself?"
"I signed a leaf fossil for him."
Byron laughed. "That's my boy."
Crasher Wake smiled and looked out into the sea he was about to enter. No other land masses were in sight, as if this island was all that existed.
"But you know, I may be popular, but I've still got a long way to go," he added, shaking his head. "A long way."
"To become the Champion?" asked Byron, also staring out to the sea.
"To become the strongest wrestler," Crasher Wake corrected. "Though I've got a long way to go if I'm ever going to beat Cynthia in a Pokemon match. I doubt I could beat the kid Aaron right now, much less anyone after him."
"But you're undefeated as a wrestler, aren't you?" asked the Steel-type Gym Leader, resuming his pounding work on the scarp metal with an unhurried rhythm.
"Nah, there's still one guy I've yet to beat in either Pokemon or wrestling," Crasher Wake answered, as his Floatzel looked up at him. "Bruno of the Kanto Elite Four."
"You mean the Fighting-type user, right?" Byron asked. "Yeah, I can see why you'd have trouble with him. I've heard that he spars with his Fighting-types…and wins."
"Yep, it's all true. Seen it in action. Amazing stuff," answered Crasher Wake. "But it isn't just his strength. It's his skill. He knows how to turn your own strength against you and pin you to the mat before you even know what hits you. He's one hell of an opponent, I'll tell you that."
The ocean lapped at his feet. For once the Water-Type Gym Leader looked serious.
"I wonder if it's possible for me to ever reach that kind of skill level, in Pokemon or wrestling."
Floatzel barked, as if insulted.
Crasher Wake looked down at his Pokemon, and then grinned.
"Well, of course we can! Having someone to look up to, that's should encourage us to strive even harder! Isn't that right, Floatzel?!" Crasher Wake shouted. "See you around, Byron old boy!"
Together Trainer and Pokemon dove into the vast sea.
"With more young Trainers like my son and you two taking charge, the future of Pokemon is bright! But I'm not stepping aside just yet!"
The next generation of Sinnoh was young. It was very young.
Never had so many youthful Trainers held so many high-ranking positions. Five of the eight Gyms had Gym Leaders under eighteen, one of them being his own son Roark. That boy had a lot to learn, both in Pokemon and in life. You didn't just run pell-mell into a nest of Galactic grunts by yourself, even if you were a Gym Leader. Especially if you were a Gym Leader. Gym Leaders couldn't afford to get hurt over little adventures. Their town and cities depended too much on them. But of course kids obsessed over nothing but adventures.
Even the Elite Four was full of youngsters. Three of the four of its older members had been booted out by youths, one after the other, in less than two years. Bertha was the only veteran left, and age was catching up to her. Still, he remembered when her hair was brown and not gray…
The new Champion herself, Cynthia, was young. Arceus, she was young. She was what, twenty? He was still working in the mines when he was that age.
All these children, achieving so much while so young…it made him feel old. And he wasn't even that old yet!
Byron remembered when Iron Island was full of iron, not an abandoned place for wild Pokemon like it was now. That had been his job for years and years, until the iron ran out and he became a Gym Leader instead. His Pokemon had become tough mining ore and creating the underground network that all the youngsters scampered around in these days. Hell, he had faced most of the current Gym Leaders, Elite Four and even a couple of Champions when they were kids. Now they were his equals, or greater. It was crazy!
But he wasn't just going to roll over and play dead for this new wave, not yet. These brats didn't know how the world worked yet, though they claimed to. That's what he had said at their age too. But the world was not as nice, not as caring as they thought it was. What would these kids, when disillusioned, do about the blemished world that he could not?
Only then would he see what their true strength was.
"Pokemon battles, they are fun, always without fail. Why, you ask? Because, in those moments, we are at our most serious."
They said she couldn't do it. Fah! They were very, very, wrong.
"Mismagius! Magical Leaf!" the woman in the purple dress commanded, thrusting her gloved hand out dramatically. Her witch-like Ghost-type Pokemon summoned glowing leaves and fired them at the opponent Bastiodon. The triceratops-like Steel-type fell, and was soon recalled into its Pokeball.
She was an immigrant, that was true. Her English, it was not fluid, it was not perfect. That was also true. But this did not affect her abilities as a Trainer, a Gym Leader in fact. Nor did they affect her abilities as a Coordinator, a Contest Master.
Now an Aggron was sent out, the large iron-rock lizard letting out a proud roar. Well, when she was done with it, it would not be so proud.
"Mismagius! Shadow Ball!" Fantina ordered, as a black orb formed before the purple spirit.
A strong Trainer and a skilled Coordinator, they were not usually the same person. But she, Fantina, she was both. And she wasn't just a strong Trainer, but a Gym Leader. Nor was she just a skilled Coordinator, but one of its masters.
"Aggron! Iron Tail!" the other shouted, as the mighty reptile rushed forward.
Don't do it, her family had said. Don't become a Pokémon Trainer. Pokémon are risky. Competitive. They can hurt you badly. It's better to become a cook instead. Or a tailor. You make such beautiful clothes. So many, so many had doubted her, even her own blood. Mean, they were not, but concerned peasants they were.
The two attacks collided, creating a cloud of smoke. The Aggron stumbled back.
But she, she followed her spirit, and her spirit led her to Pokemon training. And Pokemon train she did. And win, she did. Win over and over she did. Make money from it, she did, more and more money. Now her blood was no longer poor, not with the money always sent now. It had been so long, so long since they were last seen face to face…
"Now Magical Leaf, Mismagius!"
The leaves cut into their opponent and the Aggron collapsed, swiftly defeated. Cheers rang from the audience as she returned her own Pokemon to its Pokeball. She curtsied in her purple dress to the crowd, and then proudly descended from the arena.
For she was Fantina, the one who arose from nothing.
"Aww! That's it! I'm going to train so I can throw a Focus Punch myself!"
"Focuuusss…Punch! Focuuusss…Punch! Focuuusss…"
Maylene noticed the Ice-type Gym Leader standing outside the Snowpoint Gym, as the Fighting-type Gym Leader slowed her jog to a walk. Her friend's expression was hard and serious, her breath icy smoke with each exhale. The snow floated down from above playfully.
"Um, Candice?" Maylene asked quietly, as she shuffled to where Candice was practicing.
"- Punch! Focuuusss…"
The black-haired girl yelped, and then turned to the pink-haired girl.
"Oh, hey Maylene!" Candice greeted cheerfully. "You came all this way to see me?"
"Yes," the Fighting-type Gym Leader answered with a small smile. "…Um, what are you doing?"
"Huh? Oh, isn't that obvious?" Candice asked, grinning. "I'm teaching myself to Focus Punch!"
"But…that's a Pokemon move," said Maylene.
"…That can only be learned through a TM, to a Pokemon."
"…And you're trying to learn it, by yourself?"
"…I don't understand."
"What's not to understand?" asked Candice, her grin puzzled. "I'm gonna teach myself to be a great fighter like you, Maylene. So I gotta practice."
"Um, I'm not that great of a fighter," Maylene answered, rubbing the back of her head. "My Pokemon are much better. They're Fighting-types, after all. I'm just a human."
"Doesn't matter," said Candice, her expression more serious as she began to practice again. "You're more awesome than you give yourself credit for, Maylene. Don't forget that. Now, Focuuusss…"
Maylene watched her friend silently. The snow grew heavier, the snowflakes settling and then melting in Candice's black hair.
"So…what do you picture punching when you practice?" the pink-haired girl asked finally, rubbing her hands together to keep them warm. "I usually picture Galactic grunts."
Candice threw a punch forward, as her expression visibly darkened. Maylene shivered as a glacial wind rushed past her, hurling snow into her eyes.
"Anyone who's ever hurt you," Candice answered quietly, oblivious to the freezing gale.
"………So you're the latest challenger up against the Sunyshore Gym…Allright, I've decided! If I find you to be weak, I'm going to challenge the Pokemon League."
"Uh…well, this is awkward," stated Flint, a slightly nervous smile on his face.
Standing before the Elite Four member in his lava-filled room was the eighth Gym Leader of Sinnoh, Volkner. No, it was not the heat waves from the lava playing tricks on Flint's eyes, or the high temperatures frying his brain. It was actually Volkner. He was his oldest friend, and now his newest challenger.
"C'mon, it's not like we haven't fought with each other before," the golden-haired teen answered casually. "And besides, I told you I would challenge the League once I got bored enough of the kids. So it's not like I didn't warn you."
"True," Flint admitted. "But hearing you yap about it and actually seeing you here at the League are two different things. So how'd you get past Bertha's Ground-types with your Electric-types anyway?"
"Simple. I let Octillery and Lanturn handle them. They're both Water-Types after all," Volkner explained, wiping sweat off his brow. "Man, I can't believe they actually let you put lava in here. What are you trying to do, give your challengers heat stroke?"
"I don't want to hear that from the guy whose latest invention is a mechanical Zapdos that chases challengers around the Gym," countered the brown-eyed redhead, folding his arms.
"Hey, it's not like it attacks or anything. It just screeches and chases," Volkner answered nonchalantly. "Anybody who can't handle that isn't worth fighting. Besides, watching people scamper around in terror from a fake bird is…entertaining. Especially when it's you."
"Warn me whenever you renovate the Gym!" Flint retorted. "That thing looked real!"
"But your reactions are too much fun to watch," Volkner replied, laughing.
"Hmph…Anyway, so now you're here to challenge Elite Four Member Number Three, huh?" Flint asked, wiping sweat off his face.
"I'm here to beat Cynthia and become the new Champion," Volkner said flatly, bringing out one of his Pokeballs. "So that means I'll have to go through you, yeah. If neither of us gets heat stroke first that is."
"Heh, I can handle it," Flint replied with a cocky grin.
"Says the guy who's flushed already."
"Hey, I've been in here all day!" Flint snapped. "You're like, my third challenger today! Not that any of them got past me."
"You know, you really should have considered the extra heat when adding lava to your redesigned challenge room," insisted Volkner, sighing. "I came to cook you in battle, but it looks like you're already cooked."
"Whatever! I came still take you!" declared Flint, bringing out one of his own Pokeballs. "I've got a duty to protect my Champion!"
"Protect your Champion? What, are you a knight now?" Volkner asked, smirking again. "Besides, you might want to check with Lucian before you start calling Cynthia your Champion. Do you really want a jealous psychic after you?"
"…I guess you have a point," answered Flint, tossing his Pokeball up and down carelessly. "Oh well, a guy can dream, right? Anyway, you ready for this?"
"Am I ready?" Volkner asked. "I've been ready for years."
Roark - In Platinum, talk to him after defeating him at the Battleground cafe. This is one of the things he might say.
Gardenia - In Platinum, something she might say when she comes to visit your Villa.
Maylene - After you defeat her in her Gym and listen to her badge-giving speech, talk to her again. This is part of what she says.
Crasher Wake - In Platinum, talk to him after defeating him at the Battleground cafe. This is one of the things he might say.
Byron - After you defeat him in her Gym and listen to his badge-giving speech, talk to him again. This is part of what he says.
Fantina - In Platinum, when you are about to battle her at the Battleground cafe, she might say this.
Candice - In Platinum, talk to her after defeating her at the Battleground cafe. This is one of the things she might say.
Volkner - When you meet Volkner for the first time in the lighthouse he'll say this.
Thank you for reading! Please let me know which stories you liked the most and the least. Like I've mentioned before, the faster the reviews, the faster the update. Next chapter will be about the Partners (Cheryl, Mira, Riley, etc.)