The System

Chapter 1

"And the winner of the Unova Conference bout against Champion Alder…is Ash Ketchum!"

A deafening silence swept every corner of the sagely russet stadium.

All that could be heard was the cackling aftershocks of a certain Pikachu's Thunder attack that managed to prevail over the heatedly intense Overheat of Alder's Volcarona. It was as if the audience and all those who had seen this truly extraordinary event were quietly waiting for history to catalog this momentous occasion with pomp and circumstance. The silence spoke in varying degrees of volume until finally the footsteps of Unova's champion rang clear throughout the astonishment of the stadium's presence.

"It's finally over…we can now…as champions…have systematic order within the Pokémon League!" Alder tiredly mused to himself. "Heh…I was getting a little too old to be the strongest "legal" champion anyways."

The audience began to whisper amongst themselves as Alder's footsteps were leading him to the center of the nearly-decimated battlefield. A weary, yet cautious Pikachu eyed Alder's every deliberate movement as he slowly made his way past crumbled rocks, scorched-black pillars, and the many deepened potholes that plagued the field. Time seemed to have slowed indefinitely as Alder took his final step onto the very center-piece of the battlefield. The aged champion glanced at the captivated spectators and suddenly threw his hands up into the dusty air with a triumphant enthusiasm.

"What are you all waiting for! Is this any way to show adulation for our newly proclaimed champion?" Alder commandingly bellowed to the audience. Alder's declaration fueled the fire that was slowly emerging from the shallow depths of their hearts.

The silence that commanded the stadium came crashing down as a boisterous applause echoed within the confines of the stadium seats. Amidst the excitement that resulted from the concluding blow of the match, the cheering began to rumble the very foundation which laid the stadium's halls and battlefield. This recent turn of events sparked within the spectators a tower of adrenaline which few could not take without leaping out of their seats and down to the ruined field. The cheering grew in volume as they all began to practically scream out the name of the victor against Alder.

"Ash Ketchum!"

"Ash Ketchum!"

"ASH KETCHUM!"

Eventually, crowd control was forced to intervene in the ever-so-obvious agenda of the action-driven audience. The crowd slowly converged from the stadium seats onto the shattered battlefield that Ash and Alder fought their highly-enticing match, despite the best attempts from the officers who formed the crowd control. Even the "higher-ups" of crowd control could not anticipate that such a match between two skilled trainers could be as entertaining to watch as that it would influence the emotions of the audience to such a high extent. As the crowd proceeded to muscle their way past the guards, a dazed teenage trainer was lost within realms of his thoughts.

"I…won? I…beat Alder? I'm…a Pokémon Champion? I still can't believe that I…"

"Ash? Ash! C'mon, snap out of it!"

Ash felt himself being nearly dragged out of his pinnacle of position, the very murky brown column where he stood, giving orders to his powerful and loyal allies to whom they granted him victory in the most splendid of fashions. The victorious adolescent vigorously shook his head in order to clear whatever haze that remained as a byproduct of his immersing thoughts. It turned out that the some guards associated with crowd control deemed that the crowd was too overpowering at the moment and that it would be safer to just move the target from any unfortunate possible scenarios.

"Don't worry about your Pokémon! We've already secured them for you!"

While Ash heard these words, he was certainly not listening to them. Since the guards insisted on dragging him through various halls and not let him walk on his own, he decidedly dived back into the deep inner-workings of his young subconscious. In this dark realm, he was aware of his physical surroundings, yet continued to unveil the stark truth that was become clearer within his thoughts.

"I beat Alder…I am finally the Pokémon battling champion!"

As Ash was safely escorted to the Hall of Fame, the crowd despondently returned to their formerly-abandoned seats in order to depart from the flashy stadium dome in an orderly fashion. As they left, the commentator of the match, who was still in infused with a large quantum of energy, hurriedly recapped the events that unfolded before his and everyone else's eyes.

"You've seen it with your own eyes, folks!" The commentator seen on television set confirmed excitedly. "Unova's Alder has given way to the birth of a new champion! The champion of the Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, and now Unova region has won it all! His battling strategies, along with the strength and durability of his Pokémon, are unsurpassed on the battling field! He is truly the best, like no one in the history of the Pokémon League ever was! The spectacular skirmish between Alder and Ash is one for the history books, ladies and gentlemen! Alder's sheer force of Pokémon power was quick to overwhelm our young ward during the beginning of the bout. But after the intermission, Ash came back to wow us with renewed dynamism! His Pokémon wore down the aging champion's team until it was neck and neck with Ash's trademark Pikachu and Alder's well-renowned Volcarona. After an intense exchange between the Mouse Pokémon's Thunderbolt and the Sun Pokémon's Bug Buzz, the two drained trainers went for broke and unleashed their final moves to determine the winner of this conference. Pikachu brought forth an awe-striking Thunder attack while Volcarona retaliated with a devastating Overheat attack. The result? I think you people out there know as well as I do! Ash's Pikachu sealed the deal and caused Ash to claim victory over yet another championship title match!" This unstoppable trainer is also the youngest to secure victory over all of the major regions so far discovered and developed! This young ward will go far, farther than any trainer is bound to go! We have high expectations of you, Mr. Ketchum. Or rather, CHAMPION ASH KETCHUM! I'm Steve Johnson, Pokémon news reporter and commentator. That's all for now!"


"A month! Cynthia, you surely can't be serious! I've got friends and family that I'm literally dying to see! See, I'm dying…" Ash soberly lamented to the champion of the Sinnoh region. To make his point expressed clearly, he crawled up into a pathetic-looking fetal position and began to have a fake coughing attack like that of an elderly man on life support. The versatile champion Cynthia simply snorted and shook her head at the ridiculous hoops Ash was willing to jump through in order to prove a point.

"This is exactly why I didn't want to be the one to tell him this. I knew he would freak…" Cynthia's thoughts echoed.

"C'mon Ash, as the current champion of all the major regions, it's rather shameful that you deem it necessary to have a fit in order to attempt to get what you want." The female champion parentally scolded. Honestly, was it so difficult to go a month without contact with the outside world! It was within his best interest anyways; the paparazzi and news reporters would be all over him the very minute that he stepped outside of the doors of the hotel he was currently residing in, The Elites.

"Cynthia, my Pokémon and I worked extremely hard to beat the champions of every region, including yours, might I add." Ash bitterly pleaded while regaining his former composure. Upon sight of Ash confronting Cynthia, Pikachu hopped unto the trainer's left shoulder and faithfully plastered on its best "please?" face for the stern champion of Sinnoh. Ash made a mental note to thank his electric partner later as he continued, "Isn't this more as a punishment to lock me up in my master's suite when all I want to do at the moment is see the people to whom I owe my current success?"

"Ash, rules are rules. If we went about making exceptions for you, we would have to make them for everybody." Cynthia explained, continuing her no-nonsense parental tone. "Besides, you'll have a video phone to which you may use to your heart's content. However, you may not leave this room unless the building is burning down or otherwise similar situations occur. All the champions had to have gone through this process and none of them had any complaints whatsoever. You seem to be the only one with this big of an issue with something so trivial. Honestly Ash, it's just a month!"

"Then answer this, Cynthia. Why do I have to go through this now? Why haven't I been locked up in a hotel when I defeated the all of the other champions?" the young champion hotly retorted. As like most of Ash's Pokémon, Pikachu always supported Ash and expressed Ash's determined attitude by generating electricity to dangerously high intensities within its cheeks; the cackles and zztz's of Pikachu's cheek pouches caused Cynthia to back up with a hint of nervousness, but firmly stood her ground of the matter.

"No, Ketchum! I don't need to answer any of your silly questions! Video Phone or nothing. Now pardon me, but I am a very busy woman and I can't be spending all of my time trying to deal with your issues. C'mon Ash, you are seventeen for Arceus' sake! Time to mature a little. Oh, and if you try anything against the guidelines I've established, I have guards stationed at every point in this building. They are all armed with tasers, so I highly recommend that you be the example of what a champion should be. I'll visit when I can and no visitors allowed! If you want something, anything, from outside, call the reception desk and they will get it for you. Not a step outside this room, Ketchum! Not a step…" Cynthia finished menacingly as she strolled out of the black and white colored door, which was also oddly decorated with diamonds, pearls, and a hint of platinum covering.

Ash and Pikachu both let out a depressingly childish sigh after the evident loss against the increasingly restricting rules of the "Cynthia Administration", as they so dubbed it from henceforth.

"Well, since I'm here, I might as well get used to my 'new home' and see what the master suite has to offer to me." The young victor obnoxiously riveted to himself.

Ash decided to examine the living room first. At a glance, it seemed simply quaint; the room seemed to have mimicked something directly out of his home in Pallet Town. But on closer inspection, the room had far more to off than what anything his home in Pallet could dream to offer. There were different shades of colored buttons that each was designed to serve a purpose; the lilac one converted the homely-looking sofa into a state-of-the-art "massage and relax" throne chair, for example. Other notable gimmicks included a man-sized aquarium when the aquatic blue button was pressed, a deliciously wonderful scent that was imported into the air conditioning when the bubbly orange button was pressed, and the ability to grow any type of plant or berry with a push of the safari green button. While the buttons were enjoyable and all, there were simply too many to test all at once.

"While this place lacks the wonders of home, it sure comes packed with its own awesome technology! I could get used to this place…"

Pikachu nodded in agreement to Ash's thoughts. While Pikachu was no psychic, it could certainly tell what and when its trainer is thinking.

"Well now, let's take a look at that bathroom…GOLD AND SILVER PLATED TOILET WITH A CRYSTAL FLUSH HANDLE! When it comes down to it, they sure know how to treat a guy! I wonder if my bed has ruby, sapphire, and emerald colored sheets? That would be…exotic!"

As Ash continued to marvel at the hidden surprises of his master suite, Pikachu chose to perch itself on the gravely surface of the outside balcony. The Mouse Pokémon was not one to be overly sentimental, yet even it could not help but reminisce the past and how they managed to make it so far. When Pikachu was first traveling with Ash, the Mouse Pokémon couldn't stand the thought of being commanded by a human, which by nature hold no unique physical or mental powers. Upon further examination, they yellow mouse almost had a sort of "Mewtwo" complex of how Pokémon should be the dominant species and not disgustingly low humans. The very degrading fact that it was captured by an elderly professor did not help rectify the personal belief of this uncooperative Pokémon. Ultimately, the foundation of the relationship between Ash and Pikachu was less than first-rate. However, the "Spearow Incident" that took place shortly after the struggles between trainer and Pokémon was the binding glue that forever connected the hearts and minds of the dynamic duo. That day, Pikachu made a blindingly clear commitment to assist this young "Ash" as they crossed over unknown territories and ventured into the majesty of what the Pokémon world had to offer. No longer would the two become enemies forcibly crushed together; rather, they would become an unbreakably strong unit of synergy, one that could take on the world and refuse to back out of the challenges that laid before it.

…and that is exactly what they did.


"Pikachu, hang in there! Use Thunderbolt once more!" Ash desperately commanded to the Mouse Pokémon. Ash knew time was wearing thin as the match between himself and the "Dragon Master" Lance of the Elite Four etched further and further into the streams of time.

Lance simply smirked as cockily as his twisted smile would allow his refined face. As the Dragon Master detected the hint of desperation in the commands of Ash, he ultimately decided to try to crush the young man's moral completely and arrogantly proclaimed, "Ash! You know as well as I do that your Pikachu's pathetic electric type attacks will only tickle my unbeatable Dragonite! Many have tried to foolishly surpass the might of a dragon's power…only to be consumed by the rage of the beast! I will give you credit though; you have managed to get this far at least. You are by far one of the toughest opponents I have ever faced on this sacred terrain. But, your progress will end here! Dragonite, use Hyper Beam to finish off the pesky little rodent!"

"GRRYOOO!"

As Pikachu panted from the excess amounts of spent energy against the beastly dragon type Pokémon, it forced its head to visually examine the opponent whom was gathering energy for one concluding blow. Through the constantly focusing and un-focusing eyes of the highly-fatigued Mouse Pokémon, the Dragonite appeared to have sustained a high amount of damage. This, however, did not stop the Dragon Pokémon from continuing to absorb increasingly ample amounts of power to form a deadly ray capable of pure destruction. As Lance's Dragonite was preoccupied with this task, Ash was stunned with awe and surprise to how the Pokémon managed to take the hits of most of his team and still have enough power to develop an attack with a power of such magnitude. The aspiring trainer then diverted his attention to his own Pokémon, a battle-drained Pikachu that looked like it had about as much electrical power as a used-up battery. Whatever possible routes to victory may have enlightened before seemed concealed by the suffocating bleakness of the current state of affairs.

Ash, on the other hand, was never known to give up in the middle of a battle, even during the most problematic of situations. His naïve confidence had cost him the match up to this point and he refused to lose such a crucial match, especially to an arrogant champion like Lance! As the widely-televised battle seemed to showcase the end of the aspiring trainer's hard work, Ash closed his eyes and slowly placed his tense fingers on the outer rim of his trademark hat. With renewed vigor, he dramatically twisted the his hat to the back of his shirt, yanked open his eyes that were filled with a fire that no one could hope to ever contain, and shouted to his closest ally and friend, "Pikachu! Things may seem down, but never forget that we can always win! I don't care about the circumstances; let's win this damn match! WE'VE WORKED TOO HARD TO GIVE UP! WE WILL FIGHT BACK AND WIN!"

"Ah ha! So that is the famous vitality that people so heavily praise about you, Ketchum?" Lance scoffed nonchalantly. "Impressive, yet…I fear it will do you no good at this point. This match is over! Dragonite, finish this ridiculous spectacle and show the fans the no one can topple the DRAGON MASTER LANCE!"

"GYRRROOOOOOO!"

"Pikachu, let's do this!" the young trainer professionally and passionately exclaimed. "Go for broke and use the new technique we worked on. Counter-shield that Dragonite's Hyper Beam with Thunder!"

As Ash decided on the finishing move, both Lance and the audience was wondering what in the world a "counter-shield" could possibly be. And, if this unknown technique could actually defeat the overwhelming force of Dragonite's Hyper Beam.

Pikachu quickly gave a conformational nod to its respecting trainer and laid on the floor with its tiny paws outstretched along the rough terrain of the devastated field selected for this round. As Dragonite was placing the final bits of remaining power into the Hyper Beam, Pikachu simply waiting and relaxed on the ground, almost as if waiting for the destructive Hyper Beam to finish what the battle had started. As the Dragon Pokémon noticed the antics of the Mouse Pokémon, it felt rather sympathetic that it had to knock out a target that wasn't even going to try to fight anymore. It just didn't seem very sportsmanship like, but Lance's orders were to be followed at all times, no matter the circumstance.

Lance, in contrast to Ash's unusually serious composure, couldn't help but give a slight chuckle to the ideas…or rather, imprudent commands…of the naïve Pokémon trainer. Lance pointed to Ash and lightly said, "Well Ash, I will admit that I was rather interested in the 'counter-shield' phenomena that you ordered that rodent to perform. At least, until I saw that this command is nothing more than a term of surrender! Heh heh…Honestly Ash, if you wanted to forfeit the match, you could've just asked the referee, not try to desperately 'go out in style' in order to save whatever face you may still have with the public. I at least expected you to confront my Dragon Pokémon's Hyper Beam attack with an attack of your own, like your Pikachu's Thunder. Not that it would have made a bit of difference, but at least you would lose to me while trying instead of dramatically throwing in the cards! You are not fit to be a trainer if you can't stand up to the likes of a Dragon Master! TERMINATE THAT PIKACHU, DRAGONITE!"

At last, the energy required to fabricate the unrivaled power of Lance's Dragonite's Hyper Beam was successfully gathered. The purely white form of destruction resided in the antennas of the Dragon Pokémon, which caused the antennas to radiate with a blindingly intense shade of white. Dragonite knew that this was the end of the match; another challenger defeated in the end. It all had to come down to this, according to the confident dragon type Pokémon. With one final war cry, Dragonite unleashed the fury of a dragon's Hyper Beam attack. Thanks to the strict training regimen of Lance, this particular attack was doubled in size and power in comparison to the Hyper Beams of other dragon Pokémon. And needless to say, everybody knew that the original power of a non-trained Hyper Beam would be more and enough to finish the Pikachu lying tranquilly on the jagged battlefield.

But of course, this Pikachu has other plans!

Ash's Pikachu mustered up the strength to start spinning around in circles. "Pika…PikaPika…PikaPikaPikaPikaPikaPikaPika!" came from the small dust shield that enveloped the powerfully spinning Mouse Pokémon. As Pikachu spun faster and faster, the Hyper Beam approached the yellow blur at an equally rapid velocity. The Hyper Beam closed in upon Pikachu until finally, when it was just on top of its target; Ash triumphantly pumped his tightly-gripped fist into the air and commanded:

"Pikachu! NOW!"


"Pikachu! Hey, what are you thinking about, buddy?"

The electric type Pokémon snapped out of its reminiscent thoughts and turned its yellow body to meet the appearance of a young and powerfully distinguished champion with a red cap turned like it was in the match against Lance…and all of the other champion matches to follow. Pikachu smiled graciously and jumped from the balcony to the recently-converted massage chair. "Pika! Pi Pika Pi! Cha…"

Ash's grin took hold as he processed Pikachu's thoughts. "Oh…thinking about the championship match against Lance? Yeah, he was our first champion that we defeated…although certainly not our last! I would rank him on a scale of about eight out of ten, judging from my current skill level. Although at the time, he seemed more like a one hundred out of ten! Isn't that right, Pikachu?"

"Pika Pika!" the yellow Pokémon agreed as it relaxed and let the wonderful massage machine do what is was programmed to do. "Chaa…" it softly murmured as the chair began to vibrate. Ash couldn't help but laugh at the witnessing Pikachu's transformation from a kick-butt Pokémon to a silly little mouse Pokémon enjoying the pleasant things in this crazy adventure called life.

"Ya know Ash, I didn't fly all this way to be ignored by you. Champion of all the major regions or not, you are still the inconsiderate and naïve kid I fought back a year ago."

Startled by the appearance of this vaguely familiar voice, Ash quickly spun around. Lo and behold, there was the "Dragon Master" of Kanto. None other than champion Lance had come to grace their presence at the balcony of Ash's hotel. Ash laughed rather nervously and asked Lance just how long he had been standing there.

Lance flashed a slight smirk and replied, "Oh, for awhile. And by the way, an eight outta ten is a bit low for my taste. How about you give me a battle so that you can see just how strong I've become!"

"Ah ha-ha…there will be no need for that Lance. I just got back from barely managing to defeat Alder and to be quite honest, I could use a little rest and relaxation. And to be quite honest, I think that your strength as a 'Dragon Master' is scary enough to make me never want to challenge your title as champion ever again!" Ash concluded fearfully, hoping that that tidbit of information would give the Kanto Champion a reason to stop verbally attacking the recently-crowned champion of Unova.

"Hmph…I suppose that will suffice for now. Although another battle with you would be nice sometime down the road. I really want to gauge just how strong you have become." Lance replied excitedly, as if a chance to battle Ash would be one of his top priorities.

"Well, aside from wanting to battle me, is there any other reason you've come to visit my humble abode?" Ash queried humorously as Lance began to immediately scowl. "Or did you just miss me so much that you tracked me down on the back of an Aerodactyl?"

"Tch, don't get so full of yourself, Ketchum! I do have another reason for being forced to fly here." Lance hastily sneered back. "I was sent here by none other than Ms. Waterflower in order to deliver a note since she cannot reach you in any other method. I suggest you read in sooner rather than later."

"Why do you say that" Ash asked innocently while simultaneously experience a creeping fear, almost as if he was receiving a pink slip from a Pokémon company. Lance merely shrugged and looked at his violet-shaded watch.

"Look, I don't know. The girl stormed the Elite Four building and bypassed everybody until she made it to me. Then, she blushed violently as she thrust a tiny piece of paper into my hand, quietly whispered in my ear to promptly deliver it to you, told me that if I read it, she would 'rip out my lungs through my eye sockets.' Needless to say, I have no idea what the note says or what it could possibly mean. My two cents would be to just read the letter as soon as I fly off so what I can no longer have any business with your affairs.

"Now if you'll excuse me…" Lance started as he ordered his Fossil Pokémon to fly back to the Indigo Plateau. "…I have my own agenda to attend to…!"

And with that, he flew off into yellow and gold sun-setting sky. As the cries of Lance's Aerodactyl continued to grow faint, Ash's anticipation in opening the letter increased substantially; it had been a long time since he had been in contact with his long-time Cerulean companion. Once Ash was sure that Lance was far from The Elites, he hastily unfolded the note and began to scan over the neatly-written-in-cursive words that unmistakably belonged to Misty Waterflower. The lonely champion scanned over the contents of the note several times before he was able to recite it by memory.

"Dear Ash,

You've done it once again. You've become the star that I always knew you would someday. You've matured so much, yet you're still only a little kid in my book. So don't get all high-and-mighty with me! Haha…so anyways, I…I never thought I would admit this to you…but I really miss you. I haven't seen you in forever…or talked to you…or anything, really. I know it's kinda trivial to be complaining. I mean, you have been busy being a champion of several regions. Just…don't let it get to your head, okay? Don't forget about the little people. Don't forget about me when all of the ladies come knocking down your door for...actually, you know, forget that last part. I don't really care; do whatever you want with your love life. If you ever want to talk to me, you know how to use a video phone. I hope to hear from you soon. Everybody is already missing you. See you in a month!

Love,

Misty."

Ash looked at a nearby clock with a color of red, blue, and yellow fused together. It was only about six o'clock in the evening. Maybe Misty was still up…maybe he could catch her at the gym before she retired for the day.

"Or should I wait to call her and contact everybody else first? My mom is definitely a priority and I should probably call Professor Oak next…then…ugh! Too much to think about!" Ash silently cried out as he changed into his Pikachu-polka dotted pajamas. "Eh…I'll figure it out tomorrow and hit the hay early today. I'm too tired to deal with all of this at the moment."

As Ash laid in this bed with Pikachu curled up beside him, he could only look towards an optimistic future where he was one step closer to becoming a Pokémon Master…


This chapter focuses on Ash and provides a set-up to the rest of the story. More regarding the "system" will be explained as the story progresses. Until next time, readers. Please review!