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A Gym Legacy

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Psychic, Dec 31, 2017.

  1. Psychic

    Psychic Really and truly

    I had the privilege of participating in the Serebii Yuletide yet again this year, and I wrote a story for Bay! The prompt I chose was "a fic with Koga and his daughter, Janine. It can be Koga teaching her how to run a gym, them spending time with one another, etc." I really liked the idea of Koga passing on the torch to his daughter, and wanted to explore that. I polished it up a bit since submitting it for Yuletide, and am pretty happy with it!


    A Gym Legacy


    The time had finally come, Janine thought, chest full as her heart swelled with pride and stomach fluttered from nerves. She had been training for this day all her life. She had stayed in Fuchsia for so long, hoping she wasn’t squandering her opportunities by remaining here, trained vigorously under the best of the best, and now her patience was being rewarded.

    Her father truly was the best, and it only made sense that he would someday transcend his role as Gym Leader and join the Elite Four. Now the whole region would see the strength of the ninja clan. But the Fuchsia City Gym needed a successor, and she knew that her father would choose only the best candidate. She just had some trouble believing that that candidate was her.

    “You know the run-down at this point, I take it,” Koga said matter-of-factly. He stood with his arms crossed, perfectly poised in a manner demonstrating the calm of an ocean, while remaining alert and ready to react and strike at a moment’s notice. He was the true embodiment of a ninja master.

    Janine gave a curt nod. “Yes, Gym Leader.” She had learned to mimic the pose as best she could from an early age, her back stiff as a board and muscles tensed. But even in this moment, poised to take on all the responsibility in the world, she still couldn’t help but feel like a novice next to him.

    “Good. Then we shall do one final tour before the ceremony.”

    Janine’s heart leapt into her throat at his words. She did her best to hide the rush of excitement and fear, but she could feel her face flush nonetheless. “Yes, Gym Leader,” she responded as evenly as she could. Koga nodded, and their last tour of the gym began.

    Of course Janine was prepared for the age-old tradition of passing on the leadership from one trainer to the next. She knew the words of the ceremony by heart, and knew she wouldn’t somehow muck it up. Still, she couldn’t help the Venemoth in her stomach. Janine would stand before all the gym trainers she had worked beside for so long, and accept the keys to the gym, freeing the former leader of their responsibility and shouldering it in turn.

    The keys to the gym were more ceremonial than functional, in the way so many Kantonian traditions were just there for tradition’s sake, but she coveted them all the same. They hung on her father’s belt at all times, a symbol of his experience and power. She remembered how he had let her play with them once, as a small child. It was before she had really started her ninja training, or even her Pokémon training, it was so long ago. Janine wasn’t sure how long he had let her play with the silver ring and its jangling keys – it felt like only a moment. But when they were plucked from her tiny little hands, for whatever reason she could never quite remember, the memory of her bawling stayed with her. She often found herself dreaming of holding them once again. Knowing that moment would come soon was both exciting and terrifying.

    Together, father and daughter walked through every space in the gym. She remained silent as they went from one room to the next, trainers and even staff stopping what they were doing to bow to their gym leader every step along the way. The way they looked at him, pride and admiration shining in their eyes, couldn’t help but make her think about how they would look at her once he was gone. Some part of Janine knew they respected her as well, but she doubted they would ever look at her the same way they did her father.

    Koga went over gym responsibilities such as ordering new badges and TMs, maintaining the invisible walls, hiring gym trainers, leading Pokémon training sessions alongside the gym trainers, delegating tasks to the staff, dealing with paperwork, communicating with the Indigo Pokémon League, and performing ceremonial tasks both for the gym and Fuchsia City. He also emphasized recruiting and training ninjitsu to strengthen the clan when possible, and urged her to help Aya ensure their traditions lived on. All the while, the keys to the gym jingled quietly at his side.

    For once, Janine struggled to give 100% of her attention to her father’s words. The melodic rustling of the keys was like a constant whisper in her ear, quiet though they were. It was hard to focus on his final instructions, though she knew they were full of the wisdom of an experienced Gym Leader. But she knew it all at this point anyway, and her nerves over the ceremony hadn’t entirely subsided. This was going to be it, after all – all of the responsibilities of Fuchsia Gym Leader would fall to her. She wouldn’t have anyone else to rely on with her father at the Indigo Plateau. And that was pretty far away. How often would she see him anyway, with all of his new responsibilities as one of the Elite Four?

    Her father brought her into the one room they had yet to enter – the battle arena. Flanked by now-empty seats on either side, the field stretched on before them. Bright lights illuminated the soil that Nidoking and Nidoqueen had to rearrange back into a flat expanse after each battle. Light glimmered on the surface of a medium-sized pool for water-types to battle from. They stood on the defending platform that would be protected by a force field during gym battles – battles where it would fall to Janine to test the mettle of journeying trainers and defend the honour of Fuchsia City Gym.

    Koga stood ahead of her, his eyes on the field and her eyes on him. She had watched him take on battles from this very position when she was still a child, and from the stands as she grew older. He stood tall and proud before the most nervous and most cocky of trainers. He always seemed to know what to do, what to say to calm nerves or humble those who needed it. He created just enough of a challenge to force trainers to think on their feet, especially since so few had encountered trainers relying so heavily on status conditions and other unusual techniques before.

    Janine wasn’t sure what more there was to discuss at this point. There was certainly nothing to the arena that she didn’t already know. Perhaps some last advice on judging the skill levels of challenging trainers?

    “Janine,” Koga said. She blinked in surprise – he almost never called her by her name. It was usually “daughter,” even in private.

    “This is a big responsibility,” he said slowly. Janine bowed her head. She knew that – she had spent her whole life knowing just how big a responsibility it was. And even now, after all this, she wasn’t sure she was ready. Was that why he was saying it, to remind her how unprepared she was? To humble her as he did so many trainers?

    Janine swallowed, tried not shift uneasily from foot to foot. She looked down at the platform beneath her feet, the place where the Gym Leader stood and issued commands to their Pokémon during battle. There were a dozen things she wanted to say, and she didn’t know where to begin.

    “But you are ready. You have been ready for a long time. And I believe in you.” There was a quiet clink of keys.

    Janine looked up to see her father facing her, giving her his full attention. She swallowed hard – that might have been one of the most complimentary things he had ever said to her. She tried to take in a deep breath, and seemed to see her father for the first time. The loose folds of his ninja attire fit him perfectly, hiding his lithe muscles. It didn’t hide all of his scars, though, nor did it hide the wrinkles starting to appear on his face and the strands of grey in his spiky blue-black hair. She could also see the crow’s feet at the corners of his eyes, which softened his expression as he regarded her with a fondness she didn’t often see.

    “You hide your fear well, but it is unfounded. You have been nothing but an exemplary student and have proven yourself a strong leader. Surely you have seen how the gym trainers look at you when you enter a room.”

    Janine’s heart skipped a beat. Was he serious? Nobody was looking at the daughter of the master ninja and Fuchsia City Gym Leader, right? She was nowhere near as skilled, as experienced, as accomplished as her father. Truth be told, she had resigned herself to spending her life in his shadow long ago.

    “I admit that is…hard to believe,” she was able to muster.

    “I know.” Koga put a hand on his daughter’s shoulder. Janine blinked back her surprise.

    “I am hard on you, and perhaps I have been too hard. You doubt yourself in spite of everything you have accomplished as both trainer and ninja. But I am and will forever be proud of you.”

    “I…thank you,” Janine murmured, unsure of what more to say.

    “It will be easier once I am gone. You will no longer have to live in your senior’s shadow, and then you will show this gym and this league what you are made of,” he said.

    “Well…maybe I’ll miss your shadow.” Janine couldn’t hold back a wry smile.

    To her surprise, her father smiled back, and even gave a small chuckle. The keys tinkled quietly. “And the gym will likely appreciate having a leader with a sense of humour,” he added.

    “Falkner does make me feel like I missed out on getting horrible Dad jokes growing up,” Janine teased gently.

    Koga smirked. “Perhaps if you come to visit the Indigo Plateau sometimes, I shall have a few prepared, just for my daughter.”

    Janine laughed in a way she hadn’t since she was a small child. “How could I refuse such an offer? Of course I will, Dad.”



    The gentle, flickering lantern light filled the ceremonial tatami room, its many sliding doors adorned with artwork of poison Pokémon mid-attack, their human partners depicted behind them. The room was full of gym trainers, staff, and Pokémon alike. Humans sat seiza on decorated cushions on the mats, and those who needed it sat on chairs. Small and medium-sized Pokémon sat by their trainers, while larger creatures lined the back of the room. All waited in respectful silence for the ceremony to begin.

    At the front of the room, Koga’s Pokémon stood (and floated and flapped) beside him, and Janine was similarly flanked by her team. She resisted the urge to lay a hand on Ariados for comfort.

    “I, Koga, stand before you as the current Leader of the Fuchsia City Pokémon Gym,” he said, addressing the crowd. “Today, I pass the torch and appoint a new Gym Leader to take my place. Come forward, Janine.”

    Janine stood before the gym team, humans and Pokémon alike. Dozens of eyes were on them – or perhaps on her. They were all people and Pokémon she knew well, and had trained and worked beside for years. She knew their strengths and their weaknesses, and they in turn knew hers.

    “Do you accept the responsibility of accepting challenges to defend the honour of Fuchsia City Gym, instructing trainers in the art of Pokémon battling, and upholding the ninja clan?”

    Janine’s chest swelled. “I accept this responsibility with all of the challenge and hardship it entails. I will battle with my heart and soul, and I will never falter in my duties to this gym, this city, and this clan.” She knew the words by heart and could recite them in her sleep by now, especially the ones that had been added specifically for the Fuchsia City Gym.

    “Then I, Koga, pass my legacy on to Janine, and declare her the new Fuchsia City Gym Leader.” Koga bowed, presenting the keys in his flat, open palms. Heart swelling with pride, she bowed in return, and accepted them in both her hands. She hung them on her belt, felt the weight of them on her hip, and smiled. She bowed to the crowd.

    The room erupted in cheers and Pokémon cries as father and daughter shook hands, exchanging broad, proud smiles.

    “You’re going to be great,” her feather said over the din, for her ears only. And basking in the glow of love and support from her gym, she couldn’t help but believe him.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
  2. Ambyssin

    Ambyssin Winter can't come soon enough

    I don't think I've ever gotten to read anything by you, Psychic. That's entirely my fault, but I can rectify that now. ^^

    And I like the angle you go for here. The beginning is entirely narration-driven, but I like how the ninja clan is tied into the gym, like they're practically one and the same. There's this sense of strict discipline and tradition that overlies all of it, and makes it feel much more fleshed out than an empty room with a bunch of invisible walls (though they do get referenced). Janine's nervous energy throughout all of this is fantastic, too. Since I always got the impression she was a bit more plucky and energetic than her relatively stoic father. Speaking of Koga, you wrote him really well. Even though he's being surprising sentimental, he does it with a stoicness and sense of discipline that underlies how dedicated he is to ninjitsu (though he manages to crack a smile at the end in a nice, well-timed bit of levity).

    And I thought the ceremony (even if it was brief) was very rustic. It gave me Bell Tower/Kimono Girl vibes, strangely enough. Probably the setting description, I think. All in all, it was very cute and sentimental, and nice to see Koga written in a softer light.
     
  3. [Imaginative]:[Clockwork]

    [Imaginative]:[Clockwork] X-treme trainer

    This was sweet. I've always been mildly fascinated by the dynamic between Janine and Koga, and getting a little peek at them here was nice. Familial relationships are always a treat, and the soft contrast between Janine's nervousness and her father's seriousness was cute, especially when he let a few cracks show in the end. I also thought the keys were a cool way to show that she's wanted this in some form for a long time, even if it's evolved beyond "keys are jangly and I want to shake them" haha.

    I found one slip up:

    I think you mean successor, not predecessor.

    Other than that, my only criticism is the ninja clan aspect. It feels a little bit like you included it because it's canon, but it doesn't seem to have much effect on the story or even seemingly the gym itself. Right now it seems to be run like a normal business, which could itself be an interesting angle what with modernity clashing with ninja tradition. As it is, though, mostly it just seems like the ninja clan stuff gets mentioned but not explained. I think even just a line or two explaining what it means to be a ninja clan or how it sets them apart from other gyms would go a long way toward worldbuilding.

    Regardless, this was a short and sweet one-shot, and I really enjoyed it. Great job!
     
  4. Psychic

    Psychic Really and truly

    Haha, to be fair, I haven't posted anything in awhile! Still, thank you for popping by!

    Thank you! My headcanon is inspired by the work of other members - specifically, Koga's ninja clan is lifted from an old member named purple_drake, and the feel of those old gym traditions comes from Cutlerine. I imagine other gyms are more lax, whereas Koga has been running Fuchsia Gym a lot more strictly and in line with ninjitsu teachings.

    The more I've been thinking about it, the more I've imagined that Janine has felt the need to tamp down on her plucky personality while her father was running the gym. I imagine that once he leaves, she'll finally learn to be herself for the first time in her life! She definitely respects old traditions and will continue to help uphold and grow the ninja clan, but I think she'll bring a fresh approach to it!

    Thank you about Koga! I know there wasn't a ton of dialogue, but I liked the idea that being stoic was always so necessary to his position that he never really felt comfortable enough to show a soft side, even to his own daughter. Now that he's leaving the gym, he finally feels like he can let his invisible walls down a little (har har).

    And thank you about the ceremony! I actually just got back from a trip to Japan last month, and envisioned the ceremony taking place in one of the castles I had the pleasure of visiting. That's probably why it's so reminiscent of other traditionally Japanese parts of the Pokemon world - they're inspired by the same culture! I'm glad I was able to capture that!

    Thank you so much for the lovely review!


    Thank you, I'm glad you think so! Your comments are making me think about how I could have let Janine's personality shine through more aside from the nervousness and self-doubt I focused on here. I think she'll be able to grow into her own more when her father leaves, but I wish I had explored the beginnings of that a bit more. I'm happy to hear it worked for you, along with the key bit, though! I had the key idea in my head from pretty much the very beginning, and I'm glad they worked to represent the thing she wanted and the passing of the torch.

    Woops, thank you about the successor bit! I have to admit I got them confused, haha.

    Thanks for the worldbuilding tip! In this case, I didn't think it necessarily affected the story I wanted to focus on, which was Janine gaining new confidence and her changing relationship with her father. The minutia of the ninja clan and how it has to adapt in modern times is an interesting idea, but wasn't my focus in this fic. Admittedly, I don't have a developed headcanon around it - just enough that I wanted to add a bit of flavour and give the impression that there's more to this culture than what we see on the page. I'm not sure where I could have included more details without it becoming an infodump, since the story is from Janine's perspective and she was mostly thinking about herself. If I start a new draft where she's fretting about the specifics of running a gym, I think that would make sense to include, though!

    Thank you very much for your kind words! Thank you both for stopping by!

    ~Psychic
     
  5. Chibi Pika

    Chibi Pika Stay positive

    Ahh, this was a nice read. ^^ I don’t read enough stuff about Gym Leaders, and Janine and Koga were the first related Gym Leaders that canon gave us, so it’s neat to see a story that explores that. I think you did a great job capturing the weight of the title being passed down--Janine’s anxiety strongly colors the entire gym tour, and it really helps convey just how important this gym is to her, and what it means to live up to the standards her father has set (and likewise, I always imagined him as running the gym with a rigid disciplinary structure.) This makes it all the sweeter when he does open up and tells her how proud he is of her, because it’s done in a subdued and professional way, and yet there are those obvious moments of warmth that shine through.

    All in all a sweet read that does a good job showing the relationship between the two. :3

    ~Chibi~;249;;448;
     
  6. Bay

    Bay YEAHHHHHHH

    Ok, finally got a chance to do a quick comment!

    I already mentioned how sweet Koga and Janine's interactions are there. I expected him that he would tough on her training wise but still acknowledges his daughter's skills. Heh at the mention of him telling Janine to keep an eye at Aya, and yes need some Koga's version of dad jokes haha. Some stuff concerning the ninja clan and their culture is neat too, something very unique from the other Kanto gyms I think. Once again, thanks for the lovely short piece here!
     
  7. Cutlerine

    Cutlerine Gone. Not coming back.

    I like the sense of ceremony here; I always love it when a fic dives into what makes the unique trainer-focused culture of the games, and this whole fic is basically an exercise in that, so it's right up my street. Really, I think, that's what the bulk of my response to this fic is: saying oh! that's cool! to various bits and pieces. The significance of the keys, the ceremonial handing over – even that little pool added for water-types; I always wonder how it is that pokémon that definitely can't fight on land are supposed to compete in these matches, and while there aren't really many solutions that are all that practical (there are just very few ways that, say, a nidoking on land and a seaking in the water could meaningfully interact, in my opinion, since they're both heavily reliant on physical contact and neither strikes me as suited to moving in the other's element) I like to see people trying to answer that question regardless.

    There's also a lot of thought been put into what a Gym actually is and how it should function – the way that a Leader isn't not trying to crush their opponent, but rather to challenge them, to push them just hard enough to really see what they're capable of. I'm left with this strong sense of not only something with history and culture behind it, but also theory – this is a discipline, and people have been studying and refining it for a long, long time, leading right up to this very moment where Janine is inducted as Leader.

    I don't really have any complaints – like, this fic is fairly light on plot, but that's not a criticism; it does exactly what it sets out to do, concisely and effectively, and I can't take issue with that – but I did notice that at one point you misspelled Falkner as Falker:

    Other than that, there's really not much else to say but how much I liked it. This is a great little story. Thanks for writing it!
     
  8. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    Finally got around to reading this!

    I love how formalized and rooted in tradition everything is here (with nuggets of mundane details like cleaning and paperwork, which I also enjoyed), and how that strict formality has affected Janine and Koga's relationship - and, in turn, how Koga turns around and finally lets himself soften up to reassure her she's going to do fine. It was sweet to see and felt right for their characters. I also thought you conveyed Janine's feelings well throughout, the nerves and crushing responsibility and her fears of not living up to what her father was, and the key story was very cute and lent it more of a sense of how much she's desired this all her life.

    I think my favorite part here, though, is this bit:

    I loved this sense of a gym leader's role as a teacher or parent figure, sensing what a trainer needs to learn from this battle and then delivering that lesson. In particular, I love that this is how Janine (and presumably Koga) sees their role - that they're not there to win fights, but to challenge trainers in a way that will help them mature on their own personal journey. That's lovely and it feels so right. And I love that a few lines later you call back to this as Janine worries he's going to try to humble her, like some of those trainers - but instead, what she really needs to hear at this moment is that he's proud of her and she can do this, and he knows that.

    I feel vaguely that I wish there was more of a story here than just Koga walking Janine around the gym while she's nervous. It's hard to pinpoint what form that should take when clearly the focus should be on Janine's feelings about taking over the gym and Koga's reassurance, though, and maybe that feeling is just unreasonable in this case. I think you do a fine job of what you set out to do either way, though.

    Also, I am really amused by the idea of Koga preparing dad jokes for when Janine visits. (obviously you should write a sequel about this)
     
  9. Aw, this was really sweet. I like how the tone maintains that fear and uncertainty Janine feels at the start, which made her feelings much more pronounced and effective. And of course, it made the conversation with Koga and the ceremony at the end much more rewarding, so good job there. How the scene at the end as much more descriptive and vivid than the opening scenes was a nice touch, too.

    I particularly like this paragraph:

    ...in that it not only brings attention to how the ceremony was merely a formality, highlighting that the bigger deal was Janine herself than the passing of the title without her realizing it, but it also gives the keys to the gym a better role in the story beyond metaphorical. I really like how bringing up its physical resonance to Janine made the keys all the more special for her.

    So yeah, really nice story here, and a great way to explore a prominent (and rare) father-daughter dynamic in Pokemon. Awesome job! :)
     

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