The Keepers - Book 1: Collapse - Chapter 1: Oak and Ashes

The Keepers
A Dark Pokemon Fan Fiction by Tokumeinohito
Book 1: Collapse
Chapter 1: Oak and Ashes
300th Challenge of the Champion, final battle...
    ROAR!  BOOM!
    A majestic Charizard cried out in pain before collapsing to the ground
under the wrath of a Golem's rock slide.
    After a brief examination, the referee called out unnecessarily,
"Charizard is unable to battle!  The winner is Golem!"
    A fifth green light on the scoreboard blinked off.
    "And it seems that Gary is about to create the most incredible comeback
in Pokemon League history!  The once four-to-one slaughter of the defending
League Champ is now an even one-to-one fight, and, with his last Pokemon
apparently being electric, Ash's Challenge of the Title and his shot at
history seem to be dead," an announcer said over the P.A. system.
    From the red stand, the auburn-haired, seventeen-year-old Pokemon
League Champion Gary Oak jeered at his opponent, "Ha!  I knew that training
a Geodude would come in handy one day.  Now, no amount of electricity from
your blasted level infinity Pikachu can touch it.  You might as well
forfeit now and prevent its slaughter."
    "We'll see," fifteen-year-old Ash Ketchum, one of the newest Pokemon
Masters, replied softly from the green stand.  Then, he yelled, "Pikachu, I
choose you."  His Pikachu ran onto the field.
    The announcer continued his commentary.  "Has Ash gone mad?  Or has
Gary's strategy worked?  It seems that, though Ash has put up a good fight,
the invulnerability of ground Pokemon to electric moves and the resistance
of rock Pokemon to normal attacks will spell disaster for his Challenge!"
    Gary, now extremely confident that he would be able to keep his
position a second year, ordered Golem to do a dig attack and finish the
battle quickly.
    Ash, on the other hand, responded with, "Pikachu, run to the center of
the field; then charge your ultimate thunder!"
    With an affirmative "Pika!", Pikachu ran to the center of the field.
Then, storm clouds started gathering as Pikachu glowed white and the air
around it started crackling with electricity.
    The announcer, eying the darkening sky, repeated the orders.  "It seems
that Gary has ordered Golem to go underground, but Ash has, strangely
enough, ordered Pikachu to run to the center of the field and charge a move
that doesn't exist, ultimate thunder."
    Gary was watching with a detached smirk as a rumbling started in the
stadium.  "Do you hear that, Ash?  That is the sound of your doom, the
sound of the most powerful Golem in the land as it nears the end of its dig
    Ash, though, stood undisturbed as he watched his Pikachu charge.  He
just told it, "Pikachu, do it just as we practiced before."
    Pikachu suddenly stopped glowing and jumped up into the air.  Closely
following Pikachu's jump was a speeding Golem, who had broken the surface
with a powerful shout of "GOLEM!"  Then, Pikachu landed on top of the
quickly ascending Pokemon.  As Golem neared the apex of its flight, Pikachu
suddenly glowed brighter than before, and five huge lightning bolts raced
down to Pikachu from the dark heavens.  Then, as a battle cry of
"Pikachuuuu!" was heard throughout the stadium, a quickly expanding, solid
sphere of intense electricity enveloped Pikachu and Golem, both still in
mid-air.  It pushed against the Pokemon-proof invisible barriers protecting
the trainers and spectators, and the top of the sphere shot straight up
into the sky, a beam of electricity that could be seen for miles around.
    Finally, the electricity died out.  After the dust cleared, a strange
sight was seen, given the resistance to electricity by the ground element:
Pikachu was now standing, tired but victorious, over a fallen Golem in the
center of a perfectly bowl-shaped dirt crater which had apparently replaced
the luscious grass field of before.
    Except Ash, everyone who had been watching stared in shock at the
impossible sight.  Even the usually talkative announcer was at a loss for
    The trance was snapped by Ash, who yelled, "Would someone get Nurse
Joy?  Golem might need some extra attention."
    Finally, after the return of Pikachu to its trainer, the referee
cautiously approached Golem.  He announced his findings in a shaky voice:
"Golem is unable to battle.  Pikachu is the winner.  This match goes to the
green trainer, Ash Ketchum."
    At the official confirmation, the final red light on the scoreboard was
extinguished, and the display changed to a proclamation of the winner.  The
announcer then restarted his reporting.  "Well, what an interesting end!
It seems that Pikachu has done the impossible by beating Golem with an
electric move."  There was a short pause.  "Now, it is my honor to present
to you, for the first time, the new Pokemon League Champion, the youngest
one ever, Ash Ketchum of Pallet Town!"
    The crowd burst into an ovation.  As they did, Ash released all his
Pokemon.  Every one of them seemed tired, but they all smiled up (in
Charizard's case, down) at Ash.  Ash then proceeded to congratulate each
one.  Finally, he looked up and performed his trademark peace sign to the
now standing audience.
    Meanwhile, in the background, the Indigo Plateau head Nurse Joy ran
onto the field, followed by two Machamps.  After an initial check and the
application of some special potions, Golem was hoisted by the Machamps and
carried off the field.
    A defeated Gary Oak had watched the proceedings with a shocked
expression.  He watched in a daze as his and Ash's platforms lowered and as
the crowd mobbed Ash.  However, his dazed expression was briefly replaced
by one of fury, before all expression was wiped clean off his face.  He
then walked calmly off the field, down the tunnel his Golem had gone.
One year earlier,
299th Pokemon League Tournament, second semifinal match...
    "Charizard, no!  That Eevee is tougher than it seems!  Please, don't go
to sleep!"
    However, Ash's pleading was in vain, as the referee declared with
finality, "Charizard refuses to battle.  Eevee is the winner."
    Charizard's rebellion against Ash's authority was further emphasized by
the commentator: "And it seems that Ash still hasn't been able to bring his
Charizard under control, as, for the second year in a row, Charizard has
refused to battle against a seemingly harmless opponent, this time Gary's
final Pokemon, Eevee."
    "Aargh!  Charizard, return!  Pikachu, it's all up to you now."  At
Ash's call to action, Pikachu ran onto the field with a terse battle cry of
    Once again, the commentator reported the events on the field: "It's now
down to a match between these two Pallet trainers' beginning Pokemon, as
Gary's Eevee and Ash's Pikachu are squaring off for battle.  Whoever wins
this gets to advance to the finals to face Richie, the winner of the
earlier semifinal match.  The other trainer will battle A.J. for third
place in the consolation round."
    Ash was the first to call out an attack: "Pikachu, quick attack!"
    However, Gary quickly responded: "Eevee, barrier!  Now!"
    Ash's Pikachu became nothing but a yellow blur as it sped toward Gary's
Eevee, but Eevee was even faster in its erection of a semi-transparent
golden sphere around itself.  The Pikachu was unable to stop, and it ran
into the solid barrier, injuring only itself rather than its opponent.
    Gary saw the dazed state of Pikachu and he immediately decided to
capitalize on it: "Eevee, agility finished with a headbutt!"
    Ash, on the other hand, was starting to panic slightly.  In hopes of a
hit, he ordered Pikachu to try to thundershock the speeding Eevee.
However, every time a bolt was shot off, Eevee would suddenly be elsewhere.
Finally, the Eevee swept in and hit Pikachu with a powerful headbutt.  Once
again, Pikachu was left sprawled on the field with Eevee none the worse for
    Gary, smelling victory, decided to stick with his strategy: "Eevee,
double team, then take down!"
    Suddenly, the weary Pikachu was surrounded by a circle of twenty
Eevees.  Panicked and frustrated, Pikachu shot off thunderbolts at two-
thirds of the Eevees.  However, it didn't get the real Eevee, and Gary's
Eevee finished off Pikachu with a take down from behind.  For the third and
final time, Ash's Pikachu flew through the air and landed brokenly on the
ground.  It was evident that Pikachu would fight no more that match.
    "Pikachu has fainted.  Eevee is the winner.  The winner of the match is
red trainer Gary Oak."  The scoreboard immediately changed to reflect the
referee's words.
    Ash quickly leapt down from his platform and ran onto the field to
retrieve the tired Pikachu.  He quickly picked Pikachu up and cradled him.
With his cap brim down, shadowing his eyes, he cried as he thought how
close he had been to winning the entire competition.  Now he had proved to
the world which Pallet trainer was really the loser, and, as extra salt in
the wound, he was being sent to the "consolation" round.  Sure, the title
of Pokemon Master went to the people in the top three places, but he wanted
to be "the greatest Pokemon Master of all time," and getting the title as a
third place finisher was not what he had had in mind.
    However, through his grief shined two lights of happiness.  Pikachu
regained consciousness at being picked up and, seeing Ash cry, started to
lick his chin reassuringly.  Ash also felt a hand on his shoulder, and he
turned around to see that Brock had come down out of the stands.  "Come on,
Ash; let's go get your Pokemon healed and head back to the cabin."
    Ash and Brock started walking off the field when suddenly he realized
that Misty wasn't there.  He turned to Brock to ask him where Misty was
when he caught a flash of orange at the other side of the field.  Brock,
noticing Ash halt and his eye direction quickly tried to herd him away from
what was about to take place, but Ash stubbornly held his ground and turned
    What he saw took his depressed reality and turned it upside-down and
    Gary's platform had reached field level and his cheerleaders were
running out to him.  However, at the front of the pack was Misty.  She ran
swiftly up to Gary and they hugged, with Gary lifting her off her feet and
swinging her around.  Then they met in a passionate kiss.  Cheers erupted
throughout the stadium.
    Ash had known Misty for four years, and in that time, they had gone
through many different situations together.  Originally, at the beginning
of his Pokemon journey, he had been too preoccupied with Pokemon training
and the sudden freedom to even notice that Misty was different from
himself.  However, as the journey went on, he grew to respect and admire
Misty greatly.  Then, after nearly three years of traveling, Ash returned
home to Pallet to prepare for his first League tournament.  Of course, he
didn't get much preparation done and he ended up losing to his friend
Richie in the fifth round.
    After being humiliated by his Charizard's refusal to battle, Ash
decided to work much harder that year in preparation for the next annual
League tournament, and, for once, he stuck to his promise, training
intensively in Pallet.  However, the pubescent age of fourteen and
proximity of Misty, who had decided to stay with Ash in Pallet, sent Ash
spiraling hopelessly into a crush.  However, Ash had never been one for
showing his emotions, and this newfound love would be no different as Ash
kept it a secret, knowing that if Misty found out, it would change their
friendship for the worse.
    Now, in less than five minutes, both of his most important dreams had
been shattered in the worst imaginable ways.  Thoughts of becoming the next
League Champion had been destroyed by his close loss to the superior
strategy of his most bitter rival, Gary Oak.  Then, almost immediately
afterwards, nearly a year of suppressed desires were destroyed, and not
only had Misty shown that she loved someone else, but that someone else had
also been the exact same bitter rival that had taunted him and now beaten
    Ash turned and ran out of the stadium, a trail of tears sparkling in
the sun behind him.
Four months later...
    "We are here today in memory of the great Pokemon trainer Ashton
Satoshi Ketchum..."
    Misty sat stone-faced in the first row as she listened to the minister
drone on.  Quickly, she glanced around the chapel, seeing a sea of black
and a constant river of tears.  It seemed as if everyone except herself was
crying; even her boyfriend and proud League Champion, Gary, who sat beside
her, was crying silently.
    As the speaker changed, and the long series of eulogies began, Misty
was lulled to a half-conscious state, where unbidden memories could easily
invade her mind...
    Misty sat in front of a television in Gary's tournament cabin with
assorted bills adding up to 1,000 dollars and a note in one hand, crying
into her other hand as the Kanto National Evening News began.
    "The top story today is the disappearance of Pokemon trainer Ashton
Satoshi Ketchum."  A picture of Ash with his ever-present Pikachu flashed
onto the television screen.  "The police have put out an all-points
bulletin concerning this boy.  They tell us that if someone does see him,
that person's first priority should be to comfort him, as they suspect that
his recent loss to Gary Oak has pushed him into a deep emotional
depression.  Now, with the full details of the story, let's turn to press
conference being held right now by Captain Jennifer Black."
    A live image of the head Officer Jenny in Kanto appeared on the screen
as she started her briefing.  "I am here today to help clarify the
situation of the disappearance of Pokemon trainer Ashton Ketchum.  Here are
the details as we have been able to reconstruct them.  At 3:47 p.m.
yesterday, Ash's Pokemon League semifinal battle against Gary Oak ended
with a loss of his Pikachu to Gary's Eevee.  Many eyewitness accounts, most
notably that of his friend and mentor Brock Slate of the Pewter City Gym,
describe him as emotionally distraught after that match.  However, as he
walked off the field, he turned around, and something he saw pushed him
over the edge.  There has been speculation that the image of Gary embracing
then kissing his long-time traveling companion Misty Waterflower of the
Cerulean City Gym caused this.  Whatever he saw, though, caused him to run
out of the stadium in tears.
    "The next verifiable action that Ash took was to heal his Pokemon at
the Indigo Plateau Pokemon Center.  The Nurse Joy there confirms that he
arrived there at about 4:00 p.m. in a clearly distraught mood.  All efforts
to console him proved futile, and he exited the Pokemon Center with healed
Pokemon at about 4:15 p.m.
    "His next actions are not totally known to us, though we have been able
to piece together what he probably did through other evidence.  Ash
probably returned to his cabin and packed very quickly and haphazardly, as
evinced by the upheaval of his room when first seen by Brock when he
returned later that night.  Then, he scrawled out a farewell message on
some of the provided paper in the cabin, and left 1,000 dollars under the
note, which was found on the kitchen table.  It is because of this note
that we suspect that Ash is currently on the run and debating suicide.
    "During this time, Brock had decided to let Ash cool off by himself for
a little while, and he finally returned to the cabin that they shared at
about 7:00 to call him for dinner.  It was at this time that he found the
letter and reported the disappearance to the police.
    "Once again, I would like to emphasize that anyone who sees Ash Ketchum
should immediately try to comfort him..."
    Back in Gary's apartment, Misty once again read over the letter that
had been Ash's last words.
Dear Misty and Brock,
    I want to thank both of you for all the help you've given me through
the years.  I could not have asked for better friends that you two.  I hope
that you will never forget me, as I shall never forget you.  Brock, you've
been a great friend throughout my journey, and I thank you for being a
great cook both to me and my Pokemon.  You've also been a great source of
advice, and I shall always consider you as the older brother I never had.
I hope you do become the world's greatest breeder someday and your endless
flirting results in a good catch one day.  Misty, you've also been a great
friend.  However, as you've shown in the arena, your loyalty now lies with
Gary, so I hope that your life with Gary turns out well.  As you no longer
seem to intend to stay with me any more, here is 1,000 dollars, which
should cover the cost of a new bike.  You've been a great friend, and I'll
miss you dearly.  Now it's time for me to go.  I hope that you will always
remember me not as you will find me, but as a dense little kid who had too
much determination for his own good.
Goodbye forever,
Ashton Satoshi Ketchum
    Gary had taken Ash's disappearance harder than anyone would have
expected.  However, he found a new resolve in finishing his battles that
year with an extra gusto that hadn't been there before.  Every match, from
the delayed Pokemon League final to the victory over the former Champion in
the Chellenge final, he had dedicated in memory of his rival Ash.
    However, Misty was a different story.  Although she had grieved long
and hard during the days immediately following Ash's disappearance, she had
decided that that was not the path she wanted to take.  She didn't need
that stupid little midget anymore, and she certainly wouldn't let his
dramatic disappearance interfere with her relationship with Gary.  So she
made a shell of anger and indifference for Ash.  Sometimes that shell would
crack, but every time, she would reinforce it even stronger than before.
She let herself be submerged in the glamour of being the girlfriend of the
current League Champion, and she pushed all thoughts of the deceased--at
least in her mind--Ash Ketchum out of her thoughts.
    Finally, after four months of unfruitful search, Ms. Ketchum had
decided to call off any more efforts to find her son.  In a state of deep
mourning, she scheduled a funeral with an empty coffin soon afterward.
    As Misty sank deeper into unconsciousness, she suddenly heard someone
call her name repeatedly.  In the dark, she tried to locate the source of
the voice, but it seemed to come from everywhere at once.  In addition,
there was something familiar about that voice that she couldn't quite
place.  Then, the voice changed its call, and it cried out: "Help me,
Misty.  Please help me.  Only you can keep me from death."  Misty spun
frantically around trying to locate whoever it was who was now pleading for
her to help.  Suddenly, there was a loud scream.  Finally, the voice
returned: "You failed me, Misty.  Why didn't you help me?  I've died now
because of you.  Why, Misty, why?"  As the voice turned accusatory, Misty
recognized the voice with horror.  She fell to her knees and sobbed,
crying, "I'm sorry, Ash, I'm so sorry.  I couldn't find you, Ash.  Please,
I couldn't find you to help you.  I would have helped you if I could, but I
couldn't.  I'm so sorry, Ash."
    Suddenly a different voice tore through her dream, and she woke up to
see the chapel empty except for herself and Gary.  She quickly dried her
moist eyes.  Gary asked whether anything was wrong, but she quickly denied
it.  They walked out of the chapel together, Misty once again drawn back
into her shell.
    That night, in her private room, she cried.
Author's Notes
    First thing's first.  As explained in the above chapter, this is an
alternate reality fic where Ash never goes to the Orange Archipelago.
Instead, he remains in Pallet to train intensively for the next Pokemon
League Tournament.  (Even though Ash never goes to the Orange or Johto
leagues, I may bring in some of those characters if need be.)  Also, I've
set the ages (so far) so that Ash started on his journey when he was ten,
Gary was a year older, and Misty was two years older.  Also, instead of one
year, as one of the Viridian episodes seems to suggest, Ash's badge quest
takes three years, so his first Pokemon League Tournament is when he is
thirteen.  Also, I have added the Challenge of the Champion to bring in the
Elite Four and the title of a League Champion.
    Don't forget to read the Prologue to this Book, as that will become
integral to understanding the purpose of this fic as the story moves along.
Feedback goes to
All fan fiction by Tokumeinohito is archived at
    In the United States, Pokemon and its affiliated characters, creatures,
machines, and concepts are copyrighted and/or licensed by Nintendo of
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profit and is not intended in any way to be harmful to the above-mentioned
This fan fiction was first released on January 22, 2001.