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Challenger is a Pokémon fanfic written by darkfire1220 in much the same vein as Traveler- a Reconstruction Alternate Universe fanfiction detailing Ash's journey across Kanto while blending in elements of the games - including a background war against Team Cipher.

Ash wakes up on time, and joins Gary and Leaf when Professor Oak gives out starters, receives a Charmander, and captures a Pichu wreaking havoc in Oak's lab before setting out on his journey across the Kanto region.

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Not to be confused with the other Pokémon fanfic on this wiki called Challenger.

Now has a character page in need of Wiki Love.


Darkfire1220's Challenger provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Badass:
    • Ash himself is the most immediately obvious; save when fighting against trainers way out of his reach, such as Team Rocket administrators, he very rarely loses a match - it takes until just before Celadon City for him to lose an on-screen match with a peer (Paul), and he doesn't lose a Gym battle until Koga throws a curve-ball at him.
    • Pikachu learns Volt Tackle (his most powerful attack in the anime) as early as the Kanto Region rather than during the Hoenn Region.
    • Pokémon can learn more than just four moves and combine moves to make even stronger techniques.
    • Professor Oak was just a researcher in the anime and games. Here, he's the former champion of Kanto.
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    • Paul's Chimchar is stated and shown to be a battle prodigy, even doing a decent job against one of Paul's Nidoking in a training match. A major step up from the anime, where he'd freeze up when things were against the wall for him.
    • More subtly, Team Cipher. In canon, they were certainly quite powerful, arguably more so than any other villainous team save maybe Plasma due to having Legendary Pokémon at their disposal. Here they managed to sustain a world war against basically every other nation combined, savaging an entire generation of Trainers and thrashing Fiore and Almia so badly that they closed their borders to all Pokemon Trainers.
    • Wes. See Cipher's entry on this list? Wes's defection broke them and decided the war. When he's actually seen fighting (in a recording) he proceeds to give Lance a hard time.
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    • Team Rocket is also much more of a threat this time, as their actions are shown to threaten countless innocent lives and they have the money and resources to capture legendary Pokémon.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • Paul is nowhere close to as arrogant as he was in the anime, and has a more pleasant friendly rivalry with Ash. He even helps out against Team Rocket. Also, unlike his anime counterpart, he doesn't abuse his Pokémon or get rid of them when he feels they aren't worth his time anymore.
    • Gary, in the same vein as Paul, is also much more polite and respectful of Ash and even helps in dealing with Team Rocket.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • Cynthia; while she's still quite the badass, she's not yet Sinnoh's Champion and simply works for the Sinnoh League. Though this is justified by the Sinnoh League being a fairly recent development, so there hasn't been anyone strong enough to become Champion.
    • It's implied that Chimchar's Blaze ability is on par with the average Chimchar. In the anime, it turned him into an unstoppable force of nature.
    • Legendary Pokémon are also not as impressive as they are in the games. They tend to range from extremely powerful to Physical God depending on the legendary. Here, the ones shown so far are just stronger-than-normal Pokémon, given that Team Rocket captured Latios with what doesn't seem to be too much trouble.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection:
    • Ash's gets his Charmander from Professor Oak and doesn't find him abused and abandoned.
    • In the anime, Paul found Chimchar when he was running for his life and fought back against the attacking wild Zangoose. Here, he was given to Paul by Cynthia.
  • Age Lift:
    • Pikachu starts out as a Pichu when Ash first meets him.
    • Cynthia is in her late teens as opposed to her adult self from the games and anime.
  • Almighty Mom: Delia is frightening when she's angry. Even Oak, the former champion of Kanto, doesn't want to be near her when she's pissed off.
  • Alternate Universe: There are a number of significant divergences in the setting compared to the anime; even leaving aside Cipher, Pokémon life cycles are drastically different compared to canon so as to add more biological realism to them.
  • Amplifier Artifact: Similarly to the Lake of Rage, Team Rocket have a device that forces evolution, which they deploy to destroy the St. Anne.
  • Badass Family: Gary is a kickass trainer and he's the grandson of the ex-champion of the Kanto region. That should give you some ideas.
  • Badass in Distress:
    • Paul ends up being captured by Team Rocket alongside several other trainers on Mt. Moon.
    • Cynthia was held captive by Team Rocket after they got the jump on her and knocked her out with Sleep Powder.
  • The Berserker: Sobek's Moxie ability allows him to get stronger every-time he defeats an opponent. Unfortunately, he also becomes more and more aggressive whenever he does.
  • Breather Episode: Chapter 14 is mostly a lighthearted comedy episode, with only a relatively minor battle breaking the peace and setting up for the next chapter.
  • The Bus Came Back: As of chapter 28, Pikachu has made a full recovery from the events the Game Corner and is back on Ash's team.
  • Butt-Monkey: The "Samurai" Ash battled against is treated as a joke. He even failed to improve at all in between their encounters, resulting in very one-sided losses.
  • Cerebus Retcon: The regions from the Pokémon Ranger series are given reason as to why they completely bar their doors to trainers. Of all the regions to suffer from the Cypher war, they had the worst fallout, so trainers are forbidden from entering.
  • Composite Character: Ash gets combined with Red in this story, starting off with Charmander and his overall personality being a bit of a mix between himself and Red from the games. His full name is Ash Red Ketchum.
  • Create Your Own Hero: Giovanni gave Sandile (Sobek) to Ash. Said Sandile would go on to become one of Ash's strongest Pokémon and one of Team Rocket's toughest opponents.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Happens whenever Gym Leaders and comparable trainers go all out. Cynthia vs 20-odd Rockets? Garchomp solos. Cynthia vs Rocket Admin? Garchomp solos. Sabrina and Erika vs three Rocket Admins? Sabrina and Erika stomp.
    • Team Rocket Grunts exist basically to receive these. All the Rocket Grunts accomplished with their own Pokémon when trying to keep Ash from saving May was letting Sobek's Moxie kick in.
    • Paul's team apparently beat Gary's 2/3 times this way, though Gary mutters that the last one was only because of a last minute evolution on Paul's part.
  • Darker and Edgier: In the same vein as Traveler, the story is way darker than the anime or games could hope to be, as fights are more visceral and detailed with realistic injuries. While the story still has plenty of lighthearted moments and is still recognizable Pokémon, it's tone is more in line with the Adventure manga.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Eevee was born in a Pokémon Mill, which breeds various rare Pokémon and sells them on the black market, where she was beaten routinely and starved.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Eevee, over the course of the story, gradually warms up to Ash, culminating in completely throwing her lot in with him after the Game Corner.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Since the story-line has more similarities with the games, Brock and Misty aren't prevalent outside their gyms and the occasional cameo here and there.
    • Pikachu, while an important part of Ash's team, isn't his main partner and best friend here, so his relevance is much less than the anime.
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • Paul and Cynthia, both first showing up in Ash's Kanto journey. Paul ends up playing some bigger roles in later chapters.
    • Norman and family show up too; In this fic, Norman is a Pokémon Tech teacher, and Ash is called in to teach some humility to his students.
    • Characters from the Kalos region show up early as well; specifically Alain and Professor Sycamore.
  • Extra-ore-dinary: Pyro is rather fond of Metal Claw. Not just for slashing - he uses to catch Poison-type melee attacks, slash through Rock-Type attacks, and ground out Electric-type attacks.
  • For Want of a Nail: Alternate Universe differences aside, the main starting point for the story is that Ash wakes up in time to get his starter instead of oversleeping.
  • Friendly Rivalry: In contrast to the anime, Paul and Gary have this type of rivalry with Ash. They work to be the best and want to surpass each other, yet they can still work together and hang out as close friends.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Giovanni is the Team Rocket leader. However, Archer seems to be taking care of most of the day-to-day decisions for the moment.
  • Great Offscreen War: Team Cipher against the world, for nearly fifteen years, until an agent of one of their subsidiary organisations went rogue, infiltrated their base and defeated their leader.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: After evolving, Pyro gives the Rhydon and Aerodactyl that had been stomping Ash's team concussions. By throwing Aerodactyl at Rhydon's head headfirst.
  • Heroic RRoD:
    • Pikachu suffers such extreme injuries in the Game Corner that he has to be given to Lt. Surge for rehab.
    • The small Gyarados that Ash accidentally captures when it drags him away from the wreck of the St. Anne; It's so small that it can't move its own weight after the surge of evolution energy has run out, its brainwaves are unstable from the forced evolution and even if it survives it will never grow to full size and might not even be able to use moves anymore.
    • Ash himself at the same time; He's got several ribs broken and is badly battered from his encounters with Proton and being dragged around by Gyarados, he's severely sunburned and dehydrated from the exposure, and he would have died if it wasn't for Drake's Salamence finding him.
  • The Heavy: Of Team Rocket so far, Proton has had by far the greatest amount of interaction with Ash. note 
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Team Rocket hides one of their Black Market operations using the Game Corner, making loads of revenue by selling Pokemon inconspicuously.
  • Hope Spot: Ash has beaten Proton, and it looks like everyone's going to get out safely. Then Petrel reveals himself, mocks Ash, and reveals that his Zoroark has been messing with them the entire time.
  • It's Personal: Ash develops this relationship with Team Rocket over time, culminating after learning that they destroyed the St. Anne just to get at him, especially after being told by Drake to avoid contact with them.
  • It Was a Gift: Giovanni gives Ash a Sandile that he names Sobek.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The Team Rocket Admins cause the tone to shift to the dark side whenever they get involved. Especially Proton.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: The Nurse Joy of Cerulean City, being very feminine and dating that city's Officer Jenny.
  • Named by the Adaptation:
    • Paul is given the last name "Blackstone".
    • Many of Ash's Pokémon are given nicknames to identify themselves rather than just going by their species name.
  • The Nicknamer:
    • Ash gives nicknames to most of his Pokémon:
      • Pyro is a Charmander (Later Charmeleon and Charizard).
      • Sobek is a Sandile (Later Krokorok and Krookodile).
      • Douse is a Poliwhirl (Later Poliwrath).
      • Spectre is a Duskull.
      • Jasmine is a Dratini.
      • Arctus is a Cubchoo.
      • Both Pikachu and Eevee (later Espeon) refused nicknames when captured. Rhydon was also not given a nickname on being captured, nor was Gyarados.
    • Averted with Paul and Gary, who don't give any of their Pokémon nicknames.
    • Leaf also gives some of her Pokémon nicknames:
      • Saur is a Bulbasaur (Later Ivysaur and Venusaur).
      • Rose is a Ponyta.
      • Bomber is a Voltorb.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted by Team Rocket with Project: Origin. Subject One was a trial that never left it's tank, but provided the background of the process used to create them. Subject Two fell short of the required goals for the project, and was scrapped. Three to Five all met the required specification, though Three (Destroyed by Ash in Celadon) was least developed, and hence less guarded.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: The Team Rocket Admins do not mess around. Their response to someone messing with their operations is to enact a search and destroy operation on the cruise liner they're on, massacring thousands just for the opportunity to attack a nuisance with no potential for League interference.
  • Oblivious to Love: Ash and Silver don't pick up on the many, many obvious hints that the Cerulean City Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny are a couple, as they blatantly flirt in front of them and neither seems to catch on to what's happening. Espeon picks up on it rather easily and even smirks at Nurse Joy's embarrassment with how forward Jenny is being.
  • Power Incontinence:
    • Sobek, after evolving to Krokorok, can't control his Moxie ability without going berserk. He solves this problem shortly before evolving to Krookodile.
    • Douse can't contain his newfound physical strength after evolving to Poliwrath and gaining a secondary Fighting-type.
  • Put on a Bus: Pikachu gets sent to Vermillion Gym for rehab after being badly injured in the Game Corner. There was an instance of Commuting On Abus, since he briefly showed up again while Ash was in Vermillion waiting for the St. Anne.
    • Luna decides to depart from the group so she can travel and grow by herself.
  • Redshirt Army: This sums up the Team Rocket grunts in a nutshell. They pretty much serve as a means to show off how powerful the trainers and Gym leaders are. Ash states that the only threatening and competent members of Team Rocket are the Admins.
  • Retired Badass: Professor Oak is an ex-champion, and was apparently world-renowned; the reason that his lab has so little in the way of defenses is that his Pokémon live there.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: A more noble variation. Ash persuades an Officer Jenny to let him look after the abused Eevee that she was going to hand over to Bill by getting Professor Oak to vouch for his character.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: While inspired by Traveler's reconstructive take on the Pokémon mythos, Challenger is more rooted in science and biology such as how evolution works while Traveler has a greater emphasis on the mythical aspects of the Pokémon world such as the physical gods that roam it and their connections to certain individuals. The legendary Pokémon in both stories are also polar opposite to each other. While Traveler had them as unstoppable gods who change the nature of the world by their very appearance, Challenger treats them as stronger than average Pokémon that can be captured by humans.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Breaking into the Game Corner Team Rocket base to get evidence might have been justified. Continuing to explore was very much this. The result? They are nearly killed and Pikachu is crippled.
  • Tranquil Fury: Sobek's Moxie-induced berserk state upgrades to this once Ash stops trying to have Sobek suppress or ignore the rage and starts trying have him work with it.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Pretty much all of Ash's team as they evolve and grow.
  • The Rival: So far, Ash has his canon rival of Gary, his Early-Bird Cameo rival Paul, and Leaf.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Giovanni is the leader of Team Rocket, but everyone sees him as a powerful and respectable Gym leader.
  • Wham Episode:

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