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Pokémon Reset Bloodlines

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In the grand Multiverse of worlds, exist many multitudes of worlds home to many similar and wondrous beings. These beings can manipulate psychic energies, soar through the air, swim to the deepest depths and do a myriad of other amazing things.

We call these amazing creatures Pokémon.

From the most common pests to ones regarded with the same strength as gods, there are hundreds of species of Pokémon known throughout the world. A true number may never be truly known, but the last count had the number somewhere past 700, and said number is prone to change once someone revives a new fossil or discovers some mysterious ocean dweller.

Humans are believed by some to be a lost species of Pokémon, though this theory remains controversial.

Regardless of the controversial aspects of considering Human evolution, humanity has existed alongside Pokémon for generations, with a deeply rooted harmony for the most part that takes on many forms.

Some Pokémon exist as pets, others as workers, but the vast majority team up with humans to improve their strengths as a team; the Trainer and Pokémon traveling across the regions, competing in competitive battles (as well as other forms of competition, such as Contests and the Pokéathlon) for fame and growth on both ends.

Now, there happens to exist a particular young trainer who has something special in him, a young trainer shown to have an uncanny ability to bond with nearly any Pokémon he meets, a trainer with great potential barely restrained by his youth.

His name is Ash Ketchum.

Born in Pallet Town, this remarkable young man has travelled from region to region, competing in many tournaments, winning in the Orange Islands and Battle Frontier, and putting on a good show in Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh and Unova, if not coming in first place.

However, there was always next time, and on his new journey through the Kalos region he has a good shot of winning it there...

The Kalos Region; somewhere on Route 5 between Lumiose City and Camphrier Town

A floating air balloon themed after the Scratch Cat Pokémon Meowth was floating over the gentle wind swept Kalos landscape as the Meowth that the balloon was themed after looked up into the sky.

"Hey guys, you hear something?" Said the Meowth as he spoke to a duo of young adults, one being a blue haired man and the other a red headed woman with extremely long hair, both dressed up in white clothing with large red R logos on the front.

"No, not really," The female said absently as she was currently busy doing her nails.

"You didn't hear some voice in the sky stuttering like a malfunctioning machine?" Meowth pressed.

"Did you take the last Thunderbolt head on Meowth?" The male asked with more concern than the female showed.

"No, I'm quite sure that it was your ugly mug..." The female insisted loudly.

Her screams silenced both of them and Meowth soon regretted having said anything.

He turned back to simply looking up at the sky, partially in the hopes of spotting whatever had made that sound.

He regretted it.

Meanwhile on the ground...

The remarkable trainer known as Ash Ketchum was currently in the process of doing his second favourite activity, behind the intensity of a good Pokémon battle: eating.

The dark haired, tan tinted young man, his ever present variant of a red cap adorning his head alongside his blue jacket and jeans, seemed to be currently in a contest of out eating a little blond girl while a dusky brown haired girl smiled at their antics.

Meanwhile in the background, there was a minor explosion and a whimpering about 'the future is now', but that seemed to happen enough that the two in the eating competition seemed to pay it no heed after a brief glance over to check that the blue jump-suited blond was still alive.

Around them scampered about a few Pokémon; a yellow mouse known as Pikachu, the orange mouse Dedenne, the rabbit Bunnelby, the green woodchuck Chespin, the yellow and red fire fox Fennekin, the blue ninja frog Froakie, and the red and white songbird Fletchling; all bouncing about in energetic energy, having finished off their food and just letting off steam until the humans had finished their eating competition.

Speaking of which, the blue jump-suited blond, still covered in black dust after the latest gadget of his blew up, adjusted his oddly undamaged glasses as his little sister and Ash kept eating.

"I envy both of your metabolisms." He deadpanned in utter amazement, just before Ash was about to make a grab at the last cookie, which suddenly vanished...and not because Ash or the blond girl had already eaten it.

All four humans just stared at the vanished cookie in confusion as Pikachu, Froakie, Fletchling, Chespin and Fennekin stared at the missing food in similar confusion while Bunnelby looked on from afar and Dedenne fell asleep in the grass for no real reason.

"Are there Kecleon in Kalos?" Ash suggested, giving a questioning glance to the other male, who nodded in affirmation, but added:

"I don't think that is the case here."

He gave a glance over to the Froakie who looked oddly annoyed at something before continuing with. "I'm pretty sure Froakie would have sensed any hidden Kecleon in the area well before they could get close enough to steal the last cookie."

"FROAKIE FROAK!" The frog exclaimed in agreement, nodding his head to the ego stroaking compliment.

Well it was certainly a mystery and one Ash still wasn't happy about. He had wanted that cookie.

"So, what did happen to the cookie then?" The little girl demanded as the tree behind them suddenly vanished as well, just like the cookie.

All the beings in the clearing, bar the sleeping Dedenne, gave the empty space that was once home to a tree a greatly alarmed look, as the sky suddenly began to turn from the previous sunny day, to an endless abyss of dark, thundering clouds, as tree after tree began to vanish again and again.

Ash wondered idly if perhaps it was a Pokémon doing this and if it was which one.

He did however have some ideas, having witnessed an incident like this before...and it did little to reassure him.

"Brother...what's happening!" The little girl wailed quietly in warranted horror as she grabbed onto his arm for reassurance and comfort.

"I...I don't know, science has no answer for this!" He exclaimed, unable to hide his concern.

The various devices he tried to take out and figure out what the hell was going on was getting him nowhere, with absolutely zero data on what was transpiring.

In fact, his little scanning device vanished itself, right out of his hands as if had never been there in the first place.

The older female, however, did notice that both Ash and Pikachu seemed to have quite different expressions on their faces than the rest of them.

Less along the lines of 'what the hell is going on' horror, to something like 'not again, why Arceus why' horror.

"Ash, what's going on?" She questioned him as Ash could only mutter.

"It can't be Alamos Town all over again."

The ground around them began to vanish as well, coming towards them like a giant eraser was erasing the world itself.

"Alamos Town...?" The girl questioned.

She however only had a second to wonder about this, before the erasing got to the ground they were standing on as well.

With no longer anything left to stand on they all fell, screaming, into an abyss of clouds.

Their screaming resounded for a few seconds before nearly all of them vanished, except for one, who kept screaming as a golden light surrounded him.

Thump!

With a groan, Ash pushed himself up from a floor made of immaculate diamonds, holding his head like he had just fallen from a plane.

"What...what just happened?" He asked himself absently as be looked around a few times, trying to figure out where he was.

The place was a palace, seemingly coated in gold and silver, with jewels ranging from rubies to sapphires to emeralds and diamonds encrusted into the solid platinum pillars while large pearls hung over each closed doorway.

The stark richness of the world he had landed in reminded Ash of something, it was nothing unless he had someone to share it with.

"Pikachu!" He called out first for his long-time buddy, and waited a few seconds for any sort of response.

"Serena?" He tried for anyone else who might be around, "Anyone?"

Still, the room was starkly silent. He seemed to be the only one there...

BOOM!

The grand palace suddenly was hit with a massive burst of energy that shook it strongly enough to knock Ash back to the ground and cause the palace to flash several colours rapidly; first red and green, then blue and yellow, then black and white...

The lights came out in a huge set of flashes that hurt like a Pokémon's electric attack in brightly lit explosions, so Ash had to close his eyes, and only open them when the light seemed to have vanished and did not blaze as harshly as a sun, instead with the gentleness of a moon.

When he did however he saw something familiar in front of his face.

A mostly golden foot, leading up to a white leg, which was connected to a large, white skinned Pokémon with four quadrupedal legs, an elegant head and several golden like structures surrounding him in a rather lightning-like pattern.

This was a Pokémon that religious extremists climbed the highest peaks to hear in the hopes of hearing his message, or prayed that every bush they passed would instantly light on fire as a sign of his presence.

Ash had met him on a slow week apparently.

"Arceus!" Ash exclaimed in shock and awe as the creator of the Pokémon world nodded in reply.

"Hello Ash, I do believe we have much to discuss."

Dominion of Arceus.

"I'll be frank with you; reality as we all know it is no more." Arceus began without preamble as Ash gaped at the creator in a way that would put a Magikarp to shame.

"...You mean it's..." Ash began talking, when he realized his voice changed. "Huh..."

His voice appeared to now be back to normal.

"Oh yes, you might notice your voice change, reality distorting itself can have that effect on a person." Arceus admitted.

Ash felt like Arceus might have raised an amused eyebrow if he had them

"I will say this, your original voice is better," Arceus added.

"Original voice...my voice has always been the same," Ash insisted as his voice changed between two different tones with each word, making him sound kind of disturbing.

"Er, yeah that's related to the problem at hand." Arceus noted with a frown. "To answer the question of why reality is gone, you can blame the one they call Cyrus."

"The leader of Team Galactic!?" Ash inquired in alarm.

He had thought the guy was dead, having walked into a parallel plane of existence to never be heard from again...or something like that. He didn't really understand the explanation all that well.

"Yes, he did wander into a different plane of existence, and by doing so managed to learn the ways of natural space-time fluctuations. This would have driven any mentally sound human insane, but his warped mind was able to comprehend the space-time forces that naturally occur to ensure the world does not fall into entropy, or fray at the ends. To put it in a phase you may understand, this process included introducing new types of Pokémon, separating physical and special attacks more logically and changing the amount of Pokémon that were known to science. It was quite similar to what human writers knew as a retcon."

"With this knowledge, he managed to get around Dialga and Palkia and alter the end results of their birth, essentially shattering reality and slowly remaking it into his desired world without spirit. In fact, of the previous world, there remain but three lifeforms; you, myself and Cyrus."

Arceus let that sink in for a few moments as Ash got the gist of what he was saying.

"Wait...are you saying that..."

"Yes, all your friends are more than dead." Arceus stated matter of factly as Ash look at him in abject horror. "None of your Pokémon, family or friends were ever even born."

That made the fact that Ash existed a complicated temporal mess, a rather minor detail in the current decay of all reality but had it not been in the process of detonating, Arceus would have to smite Ash to preserve reality.

But, paradoxes aside...

BOOM!

The mysterious hall of Arceus was suddenly hit with a massive force that shook it to its mystical foundation as Ash again lost his balance, only for the creator's eyes to glow blue and lift him back up using a Psychic attack.

"We do not have much time." Arceus noted as he viewed the attacks on his palace. "The temporal distortion is currently trying to remove me from existence just the same as everyone else."

Arceus decided to get a move on with his explanation because he hurriedly then explained:

"The only way to alleviate this disaster is to send someone competent back through time with their memories intact, someone who will be able to keep Cyrus from discovering the answers to time and space. That someone, by default, is you."

As Ash looked overwhelmed, Arceus decided not to mention Ash had been his third choice. He was originally going to send back the Sinnoh Champion Cynthia, but she vanished before he could bring her to his hall, same with Lance the G-man.

"I...I can't." Ash stuttered in utter shock. "I can't save the world!"

"Last I checked, you saved the day a few times before." Arceus noted about the trainer. "At Shamouti and Michina you saved the world, let alone the saving of major land areas as opposed to the world as you're prone to do rather often. I can't understand why you don't think you're capable."

"Since I can't win anything." Ash exclaimed, some buried angst bubbling to the surface all at once. "I lost in Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh and Unova, and lost to the first gym leader challenge in Kalos, with a huge advantage on my part type wise. If I'm all the hope reality has, we're all doomed."

Arceus studied him for a moment, before he glowed as a circular field of energy surrounded the two survivors of reality as several scenes began to play around them.

"...Gastrodon is unable to battle, Torterra is the winner..."

"...Ninjask is unable to battle, Buizel is the winner..."

Ash's eyes went wide as he watched his battle with Paul in Sinnoh, but it seemed different. Aside for the change in defeat order, there seemed to be more intensity to the battle than before; like there was even more at stake in it than their last battle (which was perhaps his most satisfactory win of all time, bar Drake and Brandon, possibly.)

Then, in a familiar scene Infernape defeated Electivire, as the call was made:

"...Electivire is unable to battle, the winner is Infernape. The battle, and the Sinnoh Championship, goes to Ash of Pallet Town."

Ash stared wide eyed at the scene as Arceus rewound the scene once more, to some quick montages of battles before it.

"...Ash defeats Nando and goes on to the final eight..."

"...Ash defeats Conway and advances to the final four..."

"...Ash defeats Barry and advances to the finals..."

Then the scene was fast forwarded again, to Unova

"...Ash has defeated Cameron, our foreign favourite Ash has passed the top 32..."

Cameron's Lucario found itself at the mercy of Pignite's Fire Pledge while Hydreigon was decimated by Leavanny's X-Scissor with Swarm's boost.

"...By defeating Bianca, Ash goes on to top 16!" The announcer yelled, with an image of Palpitoad taking down Emboar with Hydro Pump.

"...Virgil has been defeated, and with that Ash goes on to the final 8..." Virgil's Eevee was knocked out by a powerful Rock Smash from Boldore.

"...In his victory over Stephan, Ash has advanced to the final four..." Like what was true to Ash, Krookodile took down Sawk with Aerial Ace.

"...With that victory over Trip, Ash is going on to the finals!..." Pikachu again took down Serperior while scenes from prior battles showed Oshawott taking down a Vanilluxe while Unfezant bested Conkeldurr and Snivy a Jellicent

Ash then found himself watching a brutal battle with Tobias of all people, whose Darkrai and Latios were the only Pokémon of his Ash got a good look at as it seemed the other him had decided to go fishing in the old Pokémon pool, considering he was seeing Sceptile fighting Darkrai again while a later scene showed Krookodile battling Latios, with a scoreboard that revealed Heracross had battled Darkrai, and lost, and a returned Sceptile after battling Darkrai.

The match fast forwarded, with a scoreboard showing Heracross, Sceptile, Krookodile, Infernape, Charizard and Pikachu as having battled, and defeated, Tobias, hoisting the Unova trophy with the Unova Pokémon in the background cheering...

The series of fast forwarded images just left Ash in a confused state of shock.

Did Arceus feel like trying to taunt him with what he should be like, yet didn't seem to be?

"One doesn't simply destroy reality with one stroke of his hand." Arceus noted to Ash. "You have to practice manipulating time, and you were his test subject in that matter."

Ash looked on with growing horror as Arceus elaborated.

"To figure out the way to do all the temporal alterations he wanted in one go, as to prevent me from detecting him, he practiced with far smaller changes. To phrase it in human terms, he choose to do so by being a complete dick to you and pretty much randomly screw up your competency level of both your mind and your Pokémon's physical abilities. Practically every odd loss you had in Sinnoh, Unova and Kalos is a result of Cyrus messing with you."

Ash just stared at the future that should have been in astonishment, "So...I'm not a failure?"

"No." Arceus noted with an affirmative nod.

"And all my losses since the Battle Frontier were all because of..."

Arceus suddenly laughed as the scenes around them showed the battle between Gary's Electivire and Pikachu, as well as the battle at Lake Acuity.

"Oh no, you still lose fights every so often completley of your own accord; no one is perfect."

Arceus almost sounded amused at reminding Ash he wasn't perfection incarnate.

After Ash regained his composure after that scathing reminder, Arceus re-railed the conversation back to saving the world.

"So, now that we've gotten that sorted out, I shall send you back to the past to the day you first became a trainer."

At Ash's questioning gaze, Arceus gave him a stare to silence his question and explained, "I do this because the world cannot afford a second disruption of all time and space, thus requiring you to prepare as much as possible for Cyrus's scheme, though I do recognize sending you back to the day of your birth could possibly ruin your sanity. Also, as I realize that as a Pokémon Trainer, you understand the need of teamwork, thus I shall grant you the ability to restore the memories of..."

BOOM BOOM BOOM

A much more powerful explosion shook the palace of the Pokémon creator, as Arceus stared at Ash in quite evident alarm, more so than when he had believed himself betrayed by Damos.

"...There isn't enough time to do this nearly as complete as I'd like it to." Arceus focused on Ash as an orange glow surrounded Ash while the entire palace shook more and more violently. "Unlike Dialga, I need more focus to send someone cleanly through time like you experienced before. You will be able to restore memories, but not as perfectly and evenly as I'd had hoped to grant you, and not as flexibly, and the distortions to the original timeline may have unpredictable consequences, but it's the best chance we all have..."

BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM

The shaking got worse as Ash's orange glow stopped in a manner similar to a blacked out video game, with a similar feeling of being incomplete as a somewhat shaky blue orb formed around Ash.

"Best of luck to you, hopefully you won't wake up to find yourself of the opposite gender or a Pokémon or something that offsetting to you, and don't expect me to remember anything in the new timeline, so I may try to kill you next time we meet, no offense."

Before Ash could voice his confusion and horror at such a scenario, the blue orb burst into light as Ash vanished, just seconds before the entire palace imploded out of existence, with Arceus in it.

The folds of time

Strange lights and sounds overloaded Ash's mortal senses as he fell through an indescribable vortex, screaming all the way as his voice kept changing from one voice to another, as phrases began to be whispered into his ear in a tongue that seemed to be made of every voice Ash had ever heard, all as one and yet all off.

"Bloodline"

"Dominion"

"Species"

"Heart"

"Attack"

"Merge"

"Prophecy"

"Family"

"Shadow"

"Aura"

"Power"

"Love"

"Rage"

"Hate"

"Mega"

"Secrets"

"Death"

These and hundreds of other words assaulted Ash, the boy barely able to keep them all straight as a new, burning light filled the unspeakable vortex.

The bright light engulfed Ash, and for the moment, he knew no more.

Chapter Text

Ash opened his eyes to find himself in a dark place, with no lights, yet oddly enough it felt familiar to him, despite the lack of visibility.

Blinking, his mind, rightfully confused about what had just happened (End of reality and all), he looked around for a moment and figured out why the place felt familiar to him.

It was his room, and the clock by his bedside that he did not have the last time (It had numbers on it, how fancy) said it was about 3:00 in the morning.

Pushing himself out of bed, Ash moved a hand in front of his face; glad to see it was the same as he recalled it; with no fur, claws or wings.

Or a tail for that matter.

So, he was still human, and a quick feel over his chest revealed he was also still male, so nothing really seemed to have changed...

It was when his hand made contact with his face that he felt something to be very, very wrong...

There was hair on it; short and stubby but present in places it had never been in before.

In alarm, he bolted out of bed, flipped the nearest light switch on and stared at himself in the mirror to view something he had never had to deal with before.

Facial hair.

He had a 5 o'clock shadow on a face that looked somewhat older...and in retrospect Ash realized he felt taller than before.

So...it would seem he was older...the question was how older...

All he could really tell was that he was likely in his teens, so looking on the bright side he was not waking up to find himself as old as Professor Oak.

After a few moments of trying to think, he found his mind to be in a state of chaos...it seemed as if any attempt by himself to get a grasp of what was different was virtually impossible. The whole "going back in time with all your memories into an altered timeline with its own memories" was a way to have issues with accessing either memory in great detail.

Though it seemed to be slowly righting itself; Ash found in a few moments that he had regained a momentarily useful memory from this timeline about learning how to shave off the off-putting facial fuzz.

With that minute annoyance dealt with, he was starting to have a clearer head and could actually recall a bit more.

"Okay...I still live in Pallet Town, my mom is still the same, Professor Oak is still here and as far as I can recall isn't any different..."

He spoke to himself out loud due to the difficulty of getting anything straight in his mind at the moment (that and he had heard saying things out loud was good for recall) "...and my father is..."

After trying to ponder that question again, Ash gave up. It was, for whatever reason, still a mess for him to recall from either timeline and he had other things to consider.

Like why the hell he was still at home; if he was the age he was... whatever age it was people started to grow facial hair.

With the light on, he did manage to spy something potentially useful, a video tape with a Pokeball on it and the remains of a mail package that had the name Oak on it.

Ash moved to put the tape in, before recalling the time in the original timeline he had the radio on (low volume) at night; his mom was many things but a heavy sleeper she was not.

This also seemed to be similarly true in this timeline.

Grimacing at the possible premature end of his Pokémon journey, he finally managed to spy a pair of headphones and the jack for them on his television, oddly sitting on a letter.

Ah, technology is so amazing.

Ash picked up the large headphones, big enough to fit even Pikachu's ears, when he saw who the letter was from.

Serena.

"Oh yeah, I remember now," He observed, seeing that the letter accelerated that part of his still distorted memories, "I actually stayed in touch with her..."

Memories came to him about her mother and an accident with a Rhyhorn causing her to leave camp earlier.

Man that made him feel less like a jerk, and oddly at the same time more like a jerk for not doing it in the old timeline...

"Er, maybe I should just plug in the tape before I start feeling bipolar again," Ash said to himself before adding "...and I probably need to stop talking to myself before it becomes a habit."

...A tape plop later

"Greetings Trainer, I am Professor Oak. If you have received this Video Tape, you have passed the Pokémon Trainer Test and are soon to become a Pokémon Trainer."

The screen showed the world renowned Pokémon Professor in his laboratory, which didn't seem to have changed either.

"This test can be taken in many ways, but to receive a starter Pokémon from me you would have had to complete my Pokémon Summer Camp and complete the test at the end of it, after passing it at a 90 percent or higher. You also have to be 15, but seeing as the Camp is only open to 14 year olds and the 151 question test takes far too long to grade, I believe you should all be 15 by now."

Far too long to grade, yeah right. Professor Oak was probably just too busy doing Pokémon research and put it off.

Well at least he found out he was 15. Good to know...

He suddenly flinched in pain as he recalled the 151 question test. He was pretty sure he got question 137 wrong (Porygon could not learn Safeguard).

"Any trainer starting from my Laboratory can begin with either Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle."

To emphasize this, the professor released the specifically named one from a pair of Pokeballs on the table.

"As trainers, you will grow with your Pokémon, becoming stronger together and learning more about yourself and the world at large. Now, while you can start out with any Pokémon, as do many famous and skilled trainers, only those who pass my Summer Camp can start with the Kanto Starter Pokémon, which are extremely rare in the wild."

"Now, all trainers must arrive at my Pokémon Laboratory at exactly 8:00. Any trainer who fails to show up will not receive a starter."

Ash had never heard the professor sound that serious, and that brought up a really, really worrying question.

If he couldn't be late; that means that he would have to choose one of the starters (and not Pikachu).

What happened if he couldn't go about it with his best buddy? Or would his Pikachu be a Charmander this time around? Then what would happen with his Charmander/Charizard?

"...Now, allow me to remind you about the legal obligations you agreed to upon taking the Pokémon Trainer Test and start from my Laboratory..."

Thankfully, all deep trans-timeline questions in Ash's head were drowned out by hearing the totally boring legalese, which promptly knocked Ash out like a light.

7:55 AM; just downhill from Professor Oak's Laboratory

Ash made it.

Somehow Ash had made it through what remained of the night without breaking the alarm. He ate the breakfast his mother cooked for him (which was just as good as in the old timeline, oddly enough she already had Mimey who spared him clean up duty today) and got to the lab with 5 minutes to spare.

Best of all; he finally recalled that in this timeline, Gary was the only one to pass the test aside for himself, and if he took Squirtle like he did the last time...well the question of Pikachu possibly reincarnating would still have to be figured out.

However, his thoughts were quickly broken free of their temporal depths to the sight of Professor Oak arguing with a rather tall guy (AKA, the same size of guy LT. Surge was) in a black suit like something out of the Men in Black myth.

"...Your cooperation was most...appreciated professor," the man stated in a cold voice as he began to walk away, leaving behind a despondent professor, "I'll be sure to inform him of your cooperation in time for the next meeting on grants."

It was this dejected professor that Ash approached, as the old man looked up to see him, and looked like he had aged another decade.

"Oh Ash...," he said in a depressed tone, "I'm so...so sorry, but..."

"But what, Professor?" Ash wasn't sure what was going on.

Who was the big scary man...did Oak get foreclosed or something?

"The starter Pokémon are gone...I'm sorry."

7:57 AM; the Oak study

"...The man you just saw was the crony of a Government official," Oak began as he sat down with Ash, a cup of tea shared between devastated Professor and just plain shocked Trainer to be.

"He was sent by the father of a pair of twins who attended the Summer Camp the same time as you, but in a different cabin so I don't believe you would know them. While the twins passed the test by regular standards, they did not pass it by the standards required by my laboratory, so they were not selected to receive Starter Pokémon. This is in part, as you may recall, due to the Starter Pokémon International Treaty, which states the rare Pokémon given to trainers as starting partners need to be the highest caliber in part to control the black market trade of them."

"However, their father decided to... enlighten me of upcoming budget cuts."

Oak hunched over in greater depression as Ash listened on, vaguely aware of some of these regulations due to still fuzzy memories (In his defense, two timelines of memories took a long time to settle down.)

"He sits as the head chair of the research grant committee, meaning he has say of where the money goes, and I barely get enough money as it is to run this facility even with my writing income. So, it was either hand over starters for the twins, or have to cut back on the Pokémon's feeding bills just to ensure the bare minimum scientific work required to get government funding in the first place. The only good thing about all this is that, while the father is an outright ass, his children are spoiled sweet and actually love Pokémon, so I believe nothing ill will come of either Charmander or Bulbasaur."

Ash was feeling what the Professor went though; that was a difficult, yet easy decision to make. It ruined him, but saved the lab.

He couldn't fault him. It might possibly have just doomed the world (Again), but it wasn't like Professor Oak was aware of this.

"I understand, Professor," Ash said in a disappointing, but understanding voice "...guess there's always next..."

Oak suddenly looked like inspiration hit him.

"I've just thought of a splendid idea my young friend. I may not be able to give you a traditional starter Pokémon, but I can still offer you a proper selection."

Ash rose a confused eyebrow, though he had an oddly good feeling about where this was going.

8:00; Oak Pokeball storage room 25.

"...See my boy, this laboratory is the home away from the pokeball for all the trainers who started out from here. Part of the reason I give out starter Pokémon to trainers is the agreement for them to keep their additional Pokémon here, allowing me to study the Human-Pokémon dynamic in greater detail," Oak continued to explain to Ash, unaware of the fact Ash had gotten a version of this talk when he came back to Pallet after his eight badge was won.

"While this is beneficial in many ways, it does cause the food bill to be astronomical, though it does have one, somewhat interesting side effect."

The two of them were in a storage room lined with several dozen Pokeballs.

"I have often found myself with Pokémon eggs, which I hatch and keep around the research facility, as I am unable to send them to trainers in far away lands safely. I keep a few around the lab in case a well meaning, non camp student needs a leg up for their Pokémon journey if they have the right stuff. While you will be given a Pokédex as part of passing the starter requirements, you will have to begin with one of these Pokémon."

Ash gulped, hoping to Arceus in whatever timeline his buddy was in one of these Pokeballs,"...So, do I take the first one I pick or..."

"Oh no, you can have a look at as many as you need to until you find the right fit," Oak announced and then smiled as Ash took the first Pokeball on the row and called out:

"Pokémon, I choose you."

The ball released a burst of light that began to form into a shape that Oak recognized, and mentally prepared himself for Ash's imminent pain, as the mouse-like form solidified.

"Er, that one is a little...irritable, you may want to try another one..."

Oak recalled the last few trainers who tried to connect with this one, and got shocked.

However, as the yellow mouse Pikachu formed in front of Ash, and did its initial glare, cheek spark routine, Ash smiled a smile Oak couldn't see as he reached his hand out towards the mouse Pokémon.

Pikachu sparked his cheeks again, trying to scare him off, before Ash's hand touched Pikachu on the head and it suddenly stopped looking ready to fry Ash.

In fact, it ran over to him and let Ash pick it up as Professor Oak stared in shock.

"Well, that was impressive. That Pikachu has a nasty habit of trying to kill anyone who tries to interact with it that doesn't bribe it with ketchup. So, I'm taking it you want to start with an electric type?" The professor inquired, hoping so because he had just ran out of ketchup and didn't have any more room in the budget for it.

Ash nodded, Pikachu squirming out of his arms and retook its old place on his shoulder.

"Well, all I can say is good luck to you my boy, now allow me to set up your Pokédex and pokeballs before you head out."

Far too later on, outside

"Oh, its so cute!"

His mother was all over the Pikachu that rested on his shoulder, though this time around she was the only one here aside for Mimey, as opposed to a semi unruly mob of local citizens.

She didn't have to bring his stuff this time around; he had fully dressed in the same sort of clothes he started his journey with (if made to fit his 15 year old body). She looked the same as ever; a brunette dressed in pink and looking quite young and attractive, even though he was now taller than her due to having aged so much.

"So, you're letting it stay out of the Pokeball? How Johto of you" She nodded as she gave him one last hug, "Well, take care now."

She let him go as Ash waved goodbye and started walking towards Route 1.

"I will."

"Don't push yourself or Pikachu too hard"

"Mime Mime!"

"Don't worry, I won't."

"Be sure to chance your..."

"Got it, Mom!" Ash flinched as he found out she'd still do that to him as a teenager. After this, he was completely out of the sights of his loving, if somewhat overprotective mother, who looked sad to see her only child leaving home.

"It was interesting, my dear."

Delia jumped as the Pokémon Professor spoke behind her, turning around to face him in a minor fluster.

"He somehow knew the perfect Pokémon for him on the first go, and somehow tamed a virtually untamable Pikachu with just a touch. It was quite remarkable."

"Well, you know, we Ketchum's have always been good with connecting to Pokémon," Delia noted as Mimey spoke out in agreement.

"Mime Mime."

"The question is, however, was that just natural talent? We both know that he has a potential he only previously demonstrated as a young child...I partially gave him a scholarship to the Pokémon Summer Camp to see if it would ever come forth again, yet it was only just now that I saw anything like it again. The question is, though, is it just an unconscious thing?"

"My concern is more about who sees it," Delia mused in a dark sadness and worry.

Route 1

After being along the route for long enough, Pikachu jumped off his shoulder and stared at him in confusion and plain deja vu as Ash stopped in front of his old friend.

"Pika, Pika chu?!"

Ash shrugged, "Its complicated. See, do you remember reality sort of, imploding?"

Pikachu shook his head.

"Oh, then what do you remember last then?"

Pikachu proceeded to do an impression of a really angry gangster with a long jacket.

"The Pangoro and Pancham?"

Pikachu nodded.

"Oh, good then, that wasn't too long ago then."

Ash started walking with Pikachu jogging alongside him as the semi-one sided conversation continued "So, shortly after that incident, Cyrus...you remember him right?"

Pikachu mimicked a face of emotionless loathing.

"Oh, you do then, good. Anyway, he figured out how to destroy reality as we knew it, and Arceus managed to pluck me out of the impending destruction to send me back with the mission to stop Cyrus. However, because of some issues reality didn't exactly come out the same way as before".

Pikachu looked up and down him, as if making note of how tall he was now (Brock height at least, Pikachu hadn't seen Brock in long enough to really verify the exacts).

"Yes, me being older is one of them, and a few others now that I think about it; I actually kept in contact with Serena."

(Pikachu gave him a look that he couldn't describe, but he found it mildly unnerving) {AN, a 'Oh yes you do, sort of shipper look].

"Apparently the Pokédex actually has data on Pokémon not native to Kanto in it this time starting around."

At that, he activated a random Pokédex entry to drive it home "Dunsparce, the Lane Snake Pokémon. Dunsparce are avid diggers who use their drill like tails to burrow under the ground. Why this Pokémon has wings is unknown to science, although there are cults who worship this Pokémon as the son of Arceus due to them."

"And I'm apparently smarter than a vast majority of people my age when it comes to Pokémon."

Pikachu at that one stopped and just stared at him.

"Yeah, its sort of hard to believe, but I apparently had to pass a 151 question test with a 90 or better to have started with Professor Oak and get a Pokédex, and that's about..." Ash began to try and figure out how many questions he had to get correct, (A/N, about 136) "and other than myself, Gary was the only other one to do so, so I guess that makes me smart."

Pikachu sighed and shook his head, in a similar way to an old person going on about how young people were going to doom the world.

However, before Pikachu could mock the notion of an intelligent Ash, or Ash self deprecate about it...

"Chirp!"

Ash and Pikachu were suddenly being swooped upon by a pair of Pidgey, who seemed to be determined to grab at the both of them with their extended and painful looking talons.

"What's that about, we didn't even attack them?!" Ash questioned as Pikachu let loose sparks in its cheeks again as the Pidgey swooped at him again.

"Okay Pikachu, use Electro Ball!"

Pikachu nodded and began to gather electricity into its tail, which fizzled out to both of their shock as both birds tackled them in the chest, knocking them both to the ground as they flew up for another air raid and began coming back down.

"Try Iron Tail to block them!"

Pikachu nodded as he leapt up, sending energy into his tail, which didn't glow at all and thus had him get smacked in the face twice by the Pidgey and knocked to the ground as they flew around for a third attack.

"..." Ash was trying to figure out what was going on, before he had a crazy thought "Pikachu, Thundershock now!"

Pikachu stared at him like he just suggested to a human they crawl like a baby, but relented and let loose the weak electric attack, which actually worked and flew at the Pidgey.

The two birds were hit, and after the shock promptly flew away as the two old friends dropped to their knees in shock.

"...Going back in time may have brought back our memories, but all our moves are gone. We're back to where we started move wise."

Pikachu wailed into the sky about the loss of his hard work and promptly began to cry.

A devastating realization later

A thundershock struck the similarly aggressive Rattata to the earlier Pidgey, which fled as the two old friends staked out a tree.

"Man, my heads still a mess so I can't figure out why the wild Pokémon are more aggressive this time around," Ash complained as he noted the dead and hollow tree in front of them, "but I guess its good for training at least, and I had just thought of something. Pikachu, just because you can't use your old attacks anymore..."

Ash stopped as he saw Pikachu hang his head in shame "...it doesn't mean we can't train to use them again. We learned to use Iron Tail once, and we can do so again"

He pointed at the dead tree

"So lets start practicing!"

They stayed there for a few hours, oddly not encountering any more aggressive Pokémon, to which Ash got a mental answer to as to the cause of it.

The territorial instincts of Pokémon were stronger in this timeline, and thus were prone to attack people who entered their territories if wild or tamed (And dealing with unfamiliar people as guard Pokémon).

Mildly unsettling, but not too bad...at least until they ran into wild Rhydon or Hydreigon, then it would suck a lot.

He also discovered the Pokédex constantly emitted a scanning signal that would take notes on any Pokémon a trainer was to come across. So, even though Ash did not need to have the Pokédex scan the attacking Rattata or Pidgey, it would still say on its own: "this trainer has encountered Rattata and Pidgey along with Pikachu and Mr. Mime."

Why did the Pokédex need to keep track of that anyway, considering that it was more of a encyclopedia than a research tool?

His memories were still a jumbled mess in a lot of ways, so he wasn't sure why the idea of the Pokédex being able to use its encounter radar thing to catalog Pokémon health, strength, age, status of wild or tame, and other scientific curiosities in a non-invasive manner came to him as a possible answer.

By this point, the light was starting to fade, and Pikachu had managed to partially regain use of Iron Tail; leaving a sizable crack in the dead tree, but nowhere near the same level of control Pikachu had after Rustboro.

"That's enough for now Pikachu," Ash told the mouse after it struck the tree again with a Iron Tail after three earlier attacks fizzled out, "we should find shelter for the night"

Pikachu looked around as if only realizing it was getting dark.

"We won't be getting to Viridian as fast as last time, but considering the last time we only got there that fast due to a flock of psychotic Spearow I personally think the Torkoal beats the Bunnelby here..."

"CAW!"

Both Ash and Pikachu froze in horror as the infamous bird call rang out from behind them, as they turned to see a huge flock of the red, black and brown Spearow, numbering in the hundreds, with about ten Fearow (larger, brown birds with red crests) spearheading the mob.

"What did I do this time!?" Ash demanded in horror as both trainer and Pokémon did the only sensible thing and ran like the dickens, the death flock pursuing them in murderous gusto.

Somewhere ahead of the death swarm, about same time

A fishing line dangled in the fast flowing stream; its owner sitting on top of a slippery rock with only the yellow upright duck Pokémon Psyduck to bare witness to her, said duck sitting on another rock with a confused look on its face.

"Psy?" 'You know mistress, do you really expect any thing to fall for a replica of yourself as bait? Seems more like a way to repel them without that spray stuff.'

Said mistress glared at the duck. She was about 15 like the earlier seen protagonist, with orange hair done up in a pony tail with a single green band. She was dressed in a pale yellow blouse and shorts with no undershirt, the clothes were old with visible age to them and a sizeable bust that the blouse covered, but did not hide the depth and size thereof.

Her limbs (and body in general) were gently tanned and well developed, like that of a professional swimmer, and tied to her back was a single sheath for a fishing pole, said pole being in the water.

And its red and white bobber were where the girl's sea blue-green eyes were focused after finishing glaring at the duck, "My special lure is perfectly capable of catching any water Pokémon. It caught you after all."

"Duck." 'No, I believe it was the doughnut that your lure got stuck in that I ate. Can I have another doughnut Misty? I'm hungry.'

Misty promptly ignored the duck as the bobber vanished into the stream.

"Ha ha!" she gloated to the duck as she pulled on the line with all her strength, as a shape was pulled out of the water; a large white and red fish.

"Goldeen Goldeen..." the Goldeen chimed as the duck looked worried.

'Psy y y?" The duck asked which could be translated as: 'Let me guess, I have to use Scratch now?' Or perhaps Water Gun, so I don't have to move and get washed away and probably drown?'

Misty smirked and said, "Oh no, this time around I'm doing it."

She yanked the line towards her as the Goldeen looked ready to use a Horn Attack on her.

"Stop," Misty commanded the water Pokémon, whose eyes promptly seemed to lose focus and the attack ceased as the fish Pokémon dangled in front of her.

"Goldeen." 'What is it you command, mistress?' the still wild Pokémon enchimed as if in someone's thrall.

"Duck."'You know that is incredibly disturbing, correct?'

Misty frowned.

"Yeah, you're not the first person to call it that," she said sadly, "but might as well have seen if I could actually do it."

She reached for the single Pokeball she had on her.

"Now, I'm going to capture you now. You will not break out of this ball, understand?"

"Goldeen deen" which could be translated as: "Yes mistress. I will be yours forever."

Misty threw the ball at the fish, which promptly energized Goldeen and captured it without hassle as she promptly posed, "Yeah, my sixth Water Pokémon is mine!"

"Psy," The duck tilted its head as he pointed out 'yes, and you still have over a hundred more to catch to make your dream a reality. Why are you posing on a slippery rock, by the way? Seems like you want to fall into the...'

Misty promptly slipped into the fast flowing river and was washed a few feet away before she yelled "Waterfall."

Water around her began to burst in the opposite direction of the current, allowing Misty to rapidly swim against the current and regain her rocky foothold, still with all six Pokeballs on her belt, including Psyduck's empty one.

She promptly gave the duck a look, "Why do I even keep you out of your ball anyway?"

The duck tilted its head. "Psy." 'Because you get lonely and I have an amazing personality?'

Misty huffed, though not denying her loneliness, and looked up at the dark sky, "We better find a place to rest for the night..."

"Caw! Caw!"

"AHHH!" Some male voice screamed in the distance while a faint sound of electricity rang out.

As Psyduck angled his head, Misty sighed in disinterest.

"Oh great, another human got himself into trouble with the local inbred Spearow flock again."

Admittedly with those birds, it was more or less someone breathing that would set them off in a rage.

"Psy-duck?" 'I'm getting a headache from all the noise.'

"You always have one..." She sighed "Well, if I let the fool get mauled to death this place will be swarming with humans, might as well save the fool. Come on Psyduck."

"PSY Y Y" 'Can you get me off this rock first, I can't swim!'

Misty sighed as she drew for Psyduck's ball.

The 'Human' in peril

"Pikachu, Thundershock!"

As the pair did the smart thing and ran for their lives, Pikachu glowed yellow and several streams of electricity flew from the fleeing mouse and struck several Spearow.

All struck birds fell to the ground unable to battle or chase after Ash anymore, but the flock was hardly diminished.

"Damn it!" Ash swore without realizing he even knew how to, "what is their problem?!"

Hoping to have any hint of what to do, Ash activated the Pokédex and scanned the bird Pokémon.

"Spearow the Tiny Bird Pokémon. This highly territorial and aggressive Pokémon attacks those who anger it in huge swarms. They are known as the Carvannah of the sky for their ability to strip flesh from bone."

"Fearow, the Beak Pokémon. Fearow are capable of continuous flight for over a week to pursue food and anything that irritates them. Fearow are known for being able to pierce airplane hulls with their beaks and kill approximately 20 humans a year."

"That didn't help at all!" Ash complained as he shook the thing "Do you have any more information!?"

Pokédexes in the old timeline did seem to have multiple entries that would be alternated every so often. One of them had to be helpful here.

"Spearow, the Tiny Bird Pokémon. While some populations of Spearow are purely vegetarian, the loss of plant diversity caused by human agriculture in the last 200 years has increased their tendency to devour meat in its entirety for their diet."

"Fearow, the Beak Pokémon. Fearow were among the first Flying type Pokémon used by the military in the middle ages due to their beaks being able to easily get around chainmail armor and pierce the enemies vital organs."

"Spearow, the Tiny Bird Pokémon. Spearow can only see in black and white, but it has an uncanny ability to find people. They have been used as both mail birds, and by the Yakuza to find and kill people who won't pay their debt."

"Fearow, the Beak Pokémon. Fearow accompanied Unovan Pilot Charles Lingbergh on the first cross ocean flight from Unova to Kalos. They are later believed to have mauled his infant son to death and ate what remained of his flesh when Lingbergh did not feed them for a week."

Ash gave up trying to figure out anything and simply ordered Pikachu to keep spamming Thundershock until they were all knocked out.

However, inbred or not, the flock still had enough intelligence to circle around the two and box them; trapped in the eye of a storm of ferocious birds.

Ash and Pikachu ended up back to back, surrounded by birds on all sizes and degrees of murderous intent.

"So, I guess you shock and I just shield your back?"

Ash really couldn't due anything else at this point as the mouse nodded.

And so the birds swarmed, swarmed in a massive onslaught not even Alfred Hitchcock could have imagined.

From one side, Thundershock rang out, each bolt striking down at least five of the ferocious flying types.

On the other, as a pair of Spearow came for Pikachu's back with Peck, Ash blocked it with his ever trusty backpack, which somehow withstood the pecks without tearing. The repelled birds fell onto their backs on the ground, stunned due to their inbred lack of defense or HP.

Meanwhile on the Pikachu side, a Fearow flew at Pikachu with a spinning beak.

"Look out, its a Drill Peck!"

Pikachu noted Ash's warning, and aimed all of his Thundershock right at the bird.

Well before it could even make contact, the bird's attack was stopped and it fell to the ground.

However, even after the two of them had shocked off or repelled a decent chunk of the flock, there were still too many to take their place...

As both trainer and Pokémon grew tired, a Fearow made a break for the kill blow as it folded up its wings and dived towards them like a missile.

"Is that freaking Drill Run?!" Ash exclaimed in horror as the ground type attack flew closer and closer towards the exhausted Pikachu.

While in the mouse's defense all the Spearow attacks probably helped it regain a lot of its lost experience points, he was still too exhausted to fire another electric blast.

"No!" Ash exclaimed as he, in a blind desperation, got between the downed Pikachu and the incoming Drill Run from the head of the death flock, "I am not going to watch my friend die again!"

From a separate viewing angle to this Ash one

Misty and Psyduck, who had not been in range to hear the time travel based remark, observed the situation with slightly concerned looks.

"Well, he fared better than the guy who started off with the Weedle, but he's still going to be killed."

Misty was admittedly impressed the boy had lasted as long as he did.

Most trainers who got stuck in that situation would have at least lost an ear by now. There was a reason why the Viridian Officer Jenny often rode up and down Route 1; more than once a Flamethrower courtesy of her Growlithe was necessary to spare a trainers life.

Still, she'd have to save him or people would come looking for him, and stumble upon her, and call them, and then she'd be blamed for absolutely no real reason when they blabbered out what she was.

"Psy?" 'So, tell me again what we could actually do here? Its not like you have a Swampert with Stone Edge on hand or anything, and I would be useless...'

"Oh I don't know, pecking causes headaches and headaches bring on psychic attacks, right Psyduck?" Misty sounded like she thought that was a good idea.

"Duck Psy Duck!" 'Please don't, I want to live!'

Misty seemed to have decided not to do such a thing, and instead reached for one of her goldeen Pokeballs, when the boy suddenly glowed in an orange outline.

"Wait...that looks almost like Counter..." Misty trailed off as the drill run struck the boy head on, as a huge burst of energy let forth from the boy and radiated into the flock.

The huge burst of energy knocked out all the bird Pokémon, who promptly fell to the ground as the boy collapsed, a nasty looking wound on his chest. The Pikachu looked just as stunned as Misty was.

"Psy?" 'Wait, its over? How gory is it, I don't like gory things?'

Misty ignored the duck as she walked, absolutely stunned, towards the now flying death swarm free boy, as the Pikachu initially glared at her, then oddly enough stopped as if it recognized her.

Misty had never even encountered a Pikachu before, so she couldn't understand why it would somehow look at her and not see a stranger.

"I've never met another one like me before..." She said to herself seeing as the other person she was talking to was currently out cold. Taking out her old undershirt, she ripped it up and bound the wound as quickly as she could before she made a grab for the boy, "well, better get you to Viridian City quickly to get that wounded looked at..."

As soon as his hand touched her, however, a strange feeling came over her. It lasted for about half a minute, during which her Psyduck caught up to them and stared at the still shocked mouse.

As the feeling left her, Misty shook her head and reexamined both man and mouse.

They both seemed...immensely familiar, yet she couldn't recall who they were, where she knew them from or really any specifics.

All she knew was, she could not let them die.

And so the marathon run to Viridian city began; with a few Pokeballs being released as to allow a pair of star shaped Pokémon (the brown one star Staryu and the purple, two star Starmie); with Starmie using psychic to leviate the boy (and hasten the trip as much as possible), while Starmine used Water Gun at anything that looked like it would delay them.

Misty only wished she knew why she felt she had to save this boy so badly.

Chapter Text

Viridian City Pokémon Center

In the year that Misty had been on her own, she had learned many street rules that she had to follow if she wanted to survive on her own due to her bloodline.

One of the first she learned was that the Nurse Joys and Officer Jennys of the world were not a threat.

While most private doctors or regular policemen, upon seeing anything vaguely reminisce of a bloodline, would refuse aid or attempt to arrest her, the identical supe family was different.

No matter if she came in with the most bizarre of wounds, or had a witness statement that suggested she was underwater when it occurred, she was never ignored. Perhaps they had a really strong honor code about helping anyone in need and serving people equally, Misty had never asked.

So, for the first person she had ever seen with a bloodline just like herself, there was no other place to go.

Misty, hunched over in the waiting area of Viridian City, with nothing to do as the boy was being treated for his injuries but stare at the ancient image of legendary Birds of Kanto (And Arcanine, known as the legendary Pokémon due to being the only aide to a legendary knight of Cameron Palace, in the remote Rota nation to the north of Pewter City, who with his faithful beast defeated the Legendary Birds who were under the control of a Flying Bloodline Warlord. This knight would later train a squire named Aaron) that hung over the reception area, and ponder the question of the boy.

Who was he?

Why did she feel as though she knew him, yet she had no clear recall?

Was that just some Bloodline thing (She had never met another person like her before, after all) and any other bloodline user would feel oddly familiar to her, or was it something more...

Grumble Grumble

Misty's hunger derailed her train of thought instantly.

There were many, many problems with having a bloodline in Misty's opinion, and one of them was a very, very, very strong metabolism.

It would explain why the boy's backpack's food supply had been reduced to mere wrappers. Not that Misty was going to steal food from a injured boy or anything...

"Psy y y." 'Ah, doughnuts, the hallmark of civilization.'

Misty's head rapidly turned to her right, where her Psyduck was gorging himself on a box of donuts (The box being mostly white with orange and purple trim).

"Hey, don't hog them all to yourself!" Misty snapped as she tried to get a doughnut for herself...and found an empty box as the duck belched.

"Duck duck duck duck." 'Hey, you snooze, you loose. Oh, um, by the way that was the last of the food in the Pokémon center until tomorrow.'

Due to her bloodline, Misty could hear what Water Pokémon were saying, as opposed to telepathically being told, but there were times she wished she didn't have to listen to 'certain' Water Pokémon talk.

This was one of those times.

In her annoyance at him, Misty looked ready to eat the annoying duck, but thankfully the duck was saved by the cop who spoke up behind the girl to be noticed.

"Misty." The girl stopped in her impulse to roast her Psyduck with the sheer heat of her rage as she turned to see the impeccably identical, blue haired and dressed Officer Jenny.

The cop looked troubled.

"Yes, officer?" she replied as the Officer frowned.

"I really can't thank you enough for saving that young man."

The Spearow flock on Route 1 were among the last of the "hyper aggressive Pokémon of old" at least according to the officer's mother (another Jenny, the one before her). Apparently, all Pokémon were that aggressive to humans if not caught before Professor Oak's research took effect. Ever since, Pokémon had become far less aggressive towards humanity; most species now would only chase intruders out of their territories and would leave them alone if sufficient force was used.

"However, while I did find the area where the Spearow had attacked the poor boy, and it was quite clear that that is what had happened...the Spearow were all gone."

Misty looked surprised to hear that, how was that possible?! Those birds weren't going to go anywhere anytime soon.


 

Team Rocket HQ

It was rare that Giovanni was happy after hearing about the trio of Jessie, James and Meowth, but today was one of those rare days.

Normally, they would either annoy him with their cheerfulness, or they would be late on their Pokémon quotas, but this was a rare inversion of such irritations.

After all, an entire flock of powerful Flying type Pokémon was a worthy additional to the Team Rocket arsenal after all, and there were enough of them so their debt was paid off, and would be for some time into the future.

(Of course, this just meant more time for them to mess up, but then again that was normal for them.)

The standard black business suit the man wore (bar its R insignia on the breast pocket), with his black hair short on his head, made him all the more sinister looking as he gave a once over to the white uniformed trio of a red head, a blue haired fellow and a talking Meowth (A/N, Origin Giovanni design and no change for the Trio as they were at the start).

They looked nervous at his silence, and the Persian who sat by the Team Rocket leader seemed to enjoy the Meowth's misery. Giovanni decided to milk it for a bit more, slowly tapping his fingers and enjoying how they all seemed to flinch with each tap.

"Well done" he finally spoke as the trio seemed ready to burst into tears of joy at a rather simple bit of praise.

A quick glare at them silenced them before they actually did so.

The fact they seemed to be...unnaturally loyal was one of the very few reasons he had not had them executed for their failures. Even if they were generally incompetent nimrods, it always paid to have minions with undying loyalties to you in your criminal organization, as measures to deal with inevitable take over attempts.

Though with them, they were less 'enforcer' material to take back power as 'disposable pawns who would sacrifice themselves while he begun his contingency plans'.

"The fact that you have granted Team Rocket a substantial boon in our resources is commendable, but we are not finished yet. Not until Team Rocket is in full control of the world, and to do that, we will require many, many more Pokémon. So go forth and obtain some more."

The often bumbling, yet at the same time occasionally efficient trio left his office in a hurry, muttering about going hunting in Viridian City or something of that nature.

"Viridian City..." Giovanni mused of where his Gym was located, though at the moment it was closed down for repairs, "You know my pet, I remember when I first went to Viridian City as a young, foolish trainer. It took me three days to get there you know, the roads were horrible back then."


 

The Pokémon Center

Opening his eyes for a moment, Ash could have sworn he saw the rainbow light of Ho-Oh flying overhead...

That was due to happen roughly at...

Hey, where was he?

This wasn't a hill on Route 1.

The outdoors did not have a skylight...

"Pika-Pi!" 'Ash! Oh, thank Arceus you're alright!'

Ash blinked as he heard...a voice alongside Pikachu's. It was familiar...yet he had no idea who it was.

He quickly rose up, only then realizing he had been lying on a hospital cot and Pikachu was perched on the side table, tilting its head "Chu?"

"Hey buddy..." he looked around a few times, to find that the only other person in the room was Pikachu "Hey, who was that just earlier?"

"Pi?"

"There was someone else in this room...I heard him, and I could have sworn I knew him from somewhere..." Ash trailed off as he got a better look around his hospital room "Er, how exactly did we get here anyway?"

"Pikachu-Pi!"

"I brought you here," a familiar voice spoke up as Ash saw a red haired girl about his age staring at him from the doorway.

Ash wasn't quite sure who she was, she looked familiar...her voice, while changed by age, was still ringing more than enough bells to summon Ho-Oh, Lugia and Giratina (Who came just to shut them up after the sound crossed into its space.)

"Now tell me, have we met before? You and your Pikachu seem familiar somehow...before I have to pound it out of you!"

Ash just blinked.

Misty?!

Ash really couldn't believe his eyes as he saw her; the short, angry, tomboyish girl just a bit older than him now was a tall, angry, tomboyish girl who actually looked like one of her sisters in body shape.

Of course, even Ash had the sense to realize that comparing Misty to her sisters, no matter how you did it, was a way to be physically harmed.

But...she didn't seem to remember him fully, what was that...

'You will be able to restore memories, but not as perfectly and evenly as I'd had hoped to grant you.' Arceus's words rang in Ash's ears as he recalled what was the problem.

Oh...yeah there was going to be no right way to do this. He could either lie and say he didn't know her, then Misty would leave and he'd never see his old friend again. If he said he did, she'd inquire how and he'd have to lie, be found out and slapped. If he told her he knew from an alternate timeline...he was pretty sure the Pokémon League had a sanity clause somewhere in its rules.

However, he was saved from having to either lie, or sound insane, by the huge explosion up front.


 

Up in the front of the Pokémon Center

"Prepare for Trouble, today we are on fire!"

"Make it double, now listen up or earn our ire!"

Misty and Ash, who had managed to force himself out of bed due to the shock of the explosion, only just remembered it was at this Pokémon Center where he had first ran into Team Rocket.

He had almost hoped they had simply not existed in this new timeline, but since when was luck ever on his side, as the bothersome threesome posed right below a hole in the ceiling that had not been there previously.

"To protect the world from devastation!"

"To unite all peoples within our nation!"

"To denounce the evils of truth and love!"

"To extend our reach to the stars above!"

Misty just stared at them in sheer...confusion.

"Jessie!" the red head looked the same as she always did.

"James!" the bluenette guy was likewise. It would seem they were the same.

Of course, having said that, Meowth was going to end up being a Garchomp now.

"Team Rocket blasts off as the speed of light!"

"Surrender now, or prepare to fight!"

"Meowth that's right!"

Thankfully Ash's worry was for naught, as the scratch cat Pokémon was exactly the same as he was once before.

Misty just stared at them. "Are you for real?" She didn't even seem to be confused as much by Meowth being able to talk as...them in general

"We're more than real," James boasted, "and we're here for every Pokémon in the Pokémon Center, but since we're nice we'll spare you all a few Caterpie so you can go train it up into a Butterfree, use it to capture more Pokémon, and then come back to steal those too!"

"You steal Pokémon..." Misty sounded just...horrified. While Ash knew that his, no the original Misty was opposed to the practice, but this Misty was beyond that; she sounded like a mother who was just told to eat her own newborn.

The sheer...disgust at the idea of Pokémon being stolen made Ash wonder why her distaste had become so much greater.

"Well, got to pay the bills somehow, little girl. Not all of us can survive merely by traveling the world after all. Now, hand over your Pokémon before..."

"Go Staryu!"

Jessie was interrupted when the single star Pokémon flew at her in a rapid spin and nailed her in the chest, sending the attractive red head right into the wall with a bang.

Of course, Team Rocket had an uncanny ability to avoid being killed off a la 'darker and edgier work that shoos off the clowns'

"OW! How dare you hit me you little brat, Ekans go give her a taste of your Bite attack!"

"Koffing, Tackle now!"

From each trainer let loose one of their original Pokémon (What ever did happen to them anyway? Ash had never found out.)

The purple snake Pokémon Ekans promptly bit down on Staryu while floating gas sack Koffing slung itself towards Pikachu.

Ash was going to order Pikachu to use Thundershock, but after what happened last time...well Ash decided to air on the side of caution in case that this explosion actually might kill someone (or himself.)

"Staryu, use Water Gun to blast it off!"

As Misty got in her non violent attack option to blast the Snake off her Starfish, Ash called for Pikachu to use Iron Tail.

The tail glowed a solid white, Pikachu swung it into the thing bag of air pollution successfully, causing it to fly back as the astonished James gaped at him.

"Ekans, Acid!"

"Water Gun!"

The two female trainers Pokémon exchanged range attacks, the two attacks colliding for equal power, while Meowth managed to get behind Pikachu.

"Quick, use Iron Tail!"

Pikachu's tail glowed white, but flickered out.

"Ha, looks like your still working on that move pal...now let me show you a real move, Fury Swipes!" Pikachu promptly unleashed a barrage of claw attacks on the mouse, before the poor cat suddenly was covered in electric static.

"PiPi-Kachuu!" Pikachu taunted the cat after flinching a bit from the stinging scratch attacks 'Never use a multiple hit contact move on a Pokémon with Static, cat!'

"I envy Persians and their Limber" Meowth muttered in his paralysis.

Ash blinked, there was that voice again.

Who did he keep hearing? It sounded really familiar...

"Koffing, Sludge Attack!"

Pikachu narrowly avoided a wad of the disgusting gunk that shout out the now recovered Koffing, who floated alongside James

"You know, that Pikachu doesn't seem to be that bad. It might actually be worth something to the boss."

"Koffing, the Poison Gas Pokémon. Levitating in the Air with its balloon like body, Koffing are quite violate and explosive when exposed to heat or electricity. These explosions have a 40% mortality rate." Ash's Pokédex rang out from Ash's pocket on its own accord as James quickly looked at Koffing, then Pikachu, then panicked.

"Oh no! Get that horrible rodent away from my Koffing!"

Ash and Pikachu exchanged glanced, Pikachu smirking as he turned back to the two and let some sparks fly out of his cheeks. Both James and Koffing had looks of terror on their faces.

"Koffing, return!" the nice Team Rocket member quickly recalled his Pokémon from the very real danger of the electric mouse as the two heroes smirked.

"Ha, now you can't hurt my Koffing! You will now surrender to our superior intell..."

"Pikachu use Thundershock!"

A huge burst of electrical power flew from Pikachu right towards the Bluenette and the downed cat, who both promptly were shocked and began comically withering in pain.

Jessie was knocked into the attack as well with her Ekans due to a Swift attack from Staryu, getting caught in the attack just as the electricity caused them to explode.

Thankfully for Ash's innocence, it was as it had always been, with the trio flying straight through the hole in the roof they had used to get in.

"What, how did a minuscule mouse pack that much power!" James questioned as they flew away that somehow Ash could here.

"Why did you call back Koffing you dolt!" Jessie grabbed James by the collar as Meowth shook his head.

"'Cause he's more scared of losing it than you, but it looks like..."

"Team Rocket is blasting off most unusually!"

Twinkle.

Nurse Joy and Psyduck poked their head up from behind the nurses counter as Misty returned her Staryu, then the duck after she gave him an annoyed glare for hiding like that and leaving her to deal with Team Rocket.

"Oh...you beat Team Rocket? I thought the only way to get rid of them would be to get Officer Jenny here as quickly as possible...now I feel like a fool," the nurse said before blushing as she flipped open the cell phone she had been holding "Maybe now I can avoid having to redo the tiles again..."

The doors to the Pokémon Center barely opened in time before a police moped burst through and skidded across the tiles before coming to a stop right in front of the Nurse, who had a anime sweat drop.

"Or, maybe not."

Removing her white helmet in a rush, the unchanged appearance of the Kanto Jenny; blue hair and uniform in all, looked around in confusion.

"Wait, where's the emergency...?" The officer questioned, looking around for anything obviously wrong before she looked up to see the hole in the ceiling. "Oh, that probably has something to do with it."

"A trio of Team Rocket grunts broke in and tried to take over, but those two fought them off" Jenny explained as the Officer noted the two teenagers.

"You did huh? That was a great service to the entire community of Viridian. If there is anything I can do to thank you both for your...

Grumble Grumble

Misty blushed as her stomach grumbled again as the Jenny lit up

"Oh, you're hungry? Well, it may not be a key to the city, but I can get you a pizza, what's your favorite..."

Grumble Grumble Grumble

Ash blushed as he now sounded hungrier than Misty was.

"Okay, make that two pizzas. What toppings do you both want?"


 

Back at Team Rocket HQ, about two hours later

Most people have their vices.

Some drink, some smoke and some watch shows about fat idiots, but Giovanni had a completely different sort of vice.

He enjoyed watching those who fail get punished for it.

Every time he saw one of his grunts get arrested, he chuckled. Whenever a engineer failed to properly construct a bomb, he shook his head in merriment as the poor fool blew up.

In particular, he got a laugh whenever he found the trio of Jessie, James and Meowth blow up.

He had no idea how they didn't die; they were genetically normal humans (and Meowth), but it made them all the better to distract any usurpers if Proton or one of the other executives decided to try something.

Standing over the crispy and twitchy forms of his minions, he reached down into Jessie's hair and removed a little clip on device; a high tech spy lens that also could detect certain informative tidbits of information; Pokémon Levels, access government databases for identities and myriads of other things.

Drawing an tablet device from a laptop bag hung over his shoulder, the mafia kingpin shook his head as he removed an SD card and info card from the camera and inserted both into his handheld device.

"So, what happened this time? Try to use a net on a Magmar again?" he asked sardonically as he began to view the data from whatever wrecked his minions, and determine if he would have to chastise them for attacking too strong a target, or being beaten up by too weak of a target.

However, as the data began to display itself, Giovanni's eyebrow rose up in surprise.

It stayed that way for a few minutes, enough time for Jessie, James, and Meowth to recover from their crash landing and stare up at him.

"Er, boss..."

The well dressed crime lord quickly tapped a few buttons, hiding a few statistics as he turned the tablet towards the trio, causing James to whimper about the Koffing killer in the making.

"See this boy?"

The image on the tablet clearly showed Ash as the trio had first spotted him. As the trio nodded, (James in slight terror), Giovanni continued, "You are to follow him, monitor his skill level and report back to me on everything he does. Every captured Pokémon, every girl he kisses, what his goals are, you will keep me informed of everything this boy is and will be! No detail is too small!"

"But boss..." James whined before the most feared man in the underworld of more than four regions (Kanto, Johto, Orange Islands, and SeviiI slands) glared back at him with a glare that could paralyze a Arbok.

It in fact did paralyze them just long enough for him to replace the data cards into the spy camera, after downloading all the information it had gathered to his personal device of course. The trio was still none the wiser he was somehow monitoring them.

"We're on it boss...come on you big crybaby!"

"He's going to blow my Koffing to bits and pieces!"

As Jessie and Meowth dragged the terrified bluenette away, the head of one of the world's major crime syndicate seemed to be in his own world.

"So, it has finally begun," Giovanni said to himself.

Chapter Text

Entrance to Viridian Forest

"Why exactly are you following me?"

When his original journey had begun, Misty hadn't exactly followed him for reasons of friendship...at least not at first.

She wanted him to pay for her bike (which were unusually expensive for some reason that Ash had never quite understood for things so vulnerable to electricity, and Gible hunger pangs), which he had borrowed from her, and accidentally fried.

Well, Pikachu did, but legally Pikachu could not purchase a bicycle in the old timeline, and in the new timeline there was no evidence to suggest that he could.

This eventually turned into their friendship they had in the original timeline, which lasted even after her bike was finally restored after the Silver Conference.

However, despite a lack of a crispy bike, she had followed him all the way to the entrance to the Viridian Forest itself, whose woody confines was preceded by several warning signs (Beware Beedrill hives, known lethal hazard) (Finding a Pikachu is not worth your life) (Viridian Forest will not grant you superpowers, do not lick the tree sap) (Stay on the path to avoid damaging the forest and your hopes of reaching tomorrow) (251 days since last known fatality) made out of Weedle proof metal.

At least the fatality warning sign was reassuring.

Her initial 'I feel as though I know you somehow but have no idea how' couldn't be it, could it? There had to be something else...

As the trainer with the perched Pikachu questioned the red head, she held his gaze as she told him smartly, "I have my reasons."

"I didn't accidentally destroy your bike, did I?"

He had to check to make sure.

"I never had a bike." The girl shook her head "Wish I did, but I don't. I'd explain, but its too open out here. I'll tell you in the forest, where we're less likely to be overheard."

Misty's gaze briefly slid over towards a group of local Viridian trainers battling their Rattata and Pidgey off to the side of the forest entrance before, with some trepidation, she walked into the dark forest before them.

"Pikachu-Pi, pika chu ka chu." 'This reminds me of those shows the old man watches late at night with serial killers tricking victims to their bloody doom.'

The same unknown voice that Ash heard twice back in the Viridian Pokemon center again sounded out in his head.

"You know buddy, I don't know if its the two timelines in my head (which I still can't get straight, I can't remember who my father is in either timeline, nor can I recall what my elementary school was called except that it had a different name this time around), but I swear I keep hearing a somewhat familiar voice, and it just suggested that Misty is a serial killer. If that is the case, you wouldn't mind having back, would ya' buddy?"

"PikaPi Pi..." Pikachu stated absently as Ash, now with a slight bit of concern, entered the forest, unaware of what his favorite furry friend was thinking.

'But...I was the one who said that. Ash can't understand me, right ?'

Ash didn't seem to hear that one though unfortunately.


 

Viridian Forest

Any thought of Misty being a serial killer who used Viridian as a dumping ground was quickly extinguished when she let out a girly scream and jumped three feet in the air as she rapidly backed away from a small green worm Pokemon, showing that her almost comedic fear of Bug-type Pokémon was still quite intact as it approached her slowly.

Yep, Misty was totally dangerous, Ash thought sarcastically. At the moment that Caterpie looked more intimidating than her, which at this rate would take maybe...never to eat her.

"Caterpie, the Worm Pokémon. Caterpie consume plant life at a rapid rate to allow for evolution to occur. It breaks down certain plant toxins to unleash a potent odor to repel predators," Ash's Pokédex rang out from his pocket.

Pikachu sniffed the air a bit, before he hopped to the ground and rapidly pointed at the bug.

"PikaPi! Pika Cha Pi Chu Pi-Pikachu!"

Ash tilted his head in confusion before Pikachu, looking annoyed at him, promptly shouted at him "PikaPi! Pi Pi Ka Chu Pika Chu-Chu Pikachu-Pi Cha!" 'Oh come on, now you can't understand what I'm saying. That's our Caterpie currently terrifying Misty the not serial killer into near hysterics!'

Ash just stared at Pikachu in shock as he finally realized who that voice he kept hearing belonged to, but put it aside for the moment as he realized what Pikachu was originally intending.

"Okay then, Pikachu use Thundershock!"

A burst of electrical energy flew straight at the insect Pokemon and shocked it, causing paralysis and stopping its advance towards the terrified Misty...saving her from certain...possibly a hug.

"Pokéball go!"

Ash threw one of his original six balls at the insect, energizing him and sucking him in as the ball fell to the ground and began to shake. After three shakes, white sparks were emitted from it as Caterpie was officially captured.

As Ash picked up his ball and posed as he was prone to do with it with Pikachu (I caught a Caterpie! Pi-Pikachu!), Misty regained control of herself after a few, deep calming breaths.

"Oh, sorry about that," Misty blushed in embarrassment as she looked ready to slap herself, "I had used the last of my repels on my first journey through this forest and forgot to get more before I went through again. I...have a problem with bug types, and I was too freaked out to take out a normal counter to them."

Before Ash could ask exactly what her counter for bugs were, she drew out one of her Pokeballs and tossed it, releasing a white and blue bird Pokemon.

"Win-Wingull!" The Wingull of all Pokemon promptly perched on Misty's shoulder and let out a cawing noise.

"Wingull the Seagull Pokemon. Wingull are common in coastal areas, where they fly overhead and dive bomb their prey, which include small, non Pokemon fish and any idiot eating French Fries within 20 miles of the open ocean." Ash's Pokedex provided some information that may or not be necessary but was slightly amusing to imagine nonetheless.

Misty seemed to fully regain her self composure, more than any time he had seen Misty within the vicinity of wild Bug types in the old timeline.

"Okay, now that we're alone, its time to talk. See Ash, I'm not sure if you've realized this yet, but your different from regular people."

Ash briefly stared at Misty in shock, before jumping on what he thought she was going on, "Wait, you know that I'm starting to understand Pikachu.'

"What? You can't understand a Pikachu!" Misty stated in a shocked tone of voice.

"What are you talking about, you just said I was different from regular...!?"

"You should only be able to understand Fighting-types."

"Huh/Pika?"


 

Silph Co; 11th floor

"I now call the 40th annual meeting of the Pokemon Professor Association to order." Professor Oak, the chairman and one of three founders of the global group, spoke from the front of a long meeting table as many of the other highly regarded Professors of the world (who could make it this year), representing various members of the Trainer Aligned Treaty Organization (T.A.T.O); including Kanto (Professor Oak), the Orange Islands (Professor Ivy), Johto (Professor Elm), Hoenn (Professor Birch), Orre (Professor Kane), Sinnoh (Professor Rowan), Unova (Professors Cedric and Aurea Juniper) and Kalos (Professor Sycamore).

Professors from members of the Fall City Pact (Or Ranger Union as it was also known), such as Professor Hastings, were barred by T.A.T.O law from being members, just as it was illegal for any citizen of a T.A.T.O nation from going to, or even talking to anyone from, regions such as Fiore, Almia or Oblivia due to the extensive Pokemon Wars that had occurred for centuries between T.A.T.O member states and signatures of the Fall City Pact, that had mostly settled down into a Cold War that had persisted for roughly 40 years or so, roughly around the time when Oak also was able to instigate the changes that would lead to the safer world of the present.

The fact that Oak was old friends with Professor Hastings, and often collaborated with him in secret to better Pokemon kind, could easily lead to both of their executions if ever discovered unless they both managed to be granted asylum in a neutral third party nation such as Rota.

But, world building facts aside...

"Before we begin, allow me first to welcome our two newest members; Professor Aurea Juniper of Unova, daughter of my fellow founder Professor Cedric Juniper, whose groundbreaking research into Pokémon origins is astounding to say the least."

As the young woman got a round of applause from all present, including normally stoic fellow founder Professor Rowan, she blushed heavily, more so as her father slapped her on the back in good cheer, but nodded her head in acknowledgment.

"We must also give a warm round of applause to our first representative from Orre, Professor Krane, whose research on the effect of the absence of Pokémon on humans makes me never want to go anywhere near Orre at all."

Even the brown haired Gateon Port native couldn't help but laugh at Professor Oak's joke as he also got a healthy round of applause.

"Now, before we get started on pleasantries," Rowan stated in his commonly serious tone, "I do believe we must address something that we all are suffering from as of late: a recent string of budget cuts, am I not correct?"

As Professors Oak, Ivy, Elm and Birch nodded in agreement with Rowan, the rest shrugged.

"Nope," Cedric couldn't recall any difference in funds.

"I just got started, my budget's low but it was that way to begin with" Kane confirmed.

"I actually got a pay raise this year," Sycamore recalled his recent increase in funding; for some reason all the female senators and deputies were always willing to help him out.

He now had a lab in Lumiose City itself, where renting a single building cost more than renting half of Pyrite Town.

Elm and Birch looked dejected as Rowan recomposed himself.

"Well...most of us suffered budget cuts as of late, and I do believe we all know the culprit in all this."

At that, all the non freshman scowled.

"That fool Dr. Yung," Birch said angrily as he slammed both of his hands into the desk with enough force to shake the entire table, "the militaries seem to believe that his Mirage Project is more important than Pokémon, it's disgusting. That fringe science is nothing but a money pit, all the while money that could be used to figuring out the habitat requirements for Gyarados to be satisfied, and not rampaging in human inhabited areas, is unavailable!"

"What do you expect, Bloodline hysteria has caused a unnerving trend towards militarism in all our nations," Professor Ivy pointed out as she shook her head, "sure, we need to take steps to deal with the threat that Bloodliners present to Humans and Pokémon alike, but not at the expense of Pokémon."

"Dealing with the threat, is not the term I'd use," Professor Oak said with a bit of steel in his voice, "Rather, I'd be more interested in finding out more about them first."

"I'm sure we could, as they enslave us all and take over the Earth," Elm muttered to himself, but loud enough for all to hear.

"Perhaps less researching them as a race or species, and more research aimed into finding out why there are more of them in recent memory than in the past," Cedric Juniper suggested, "Starting roughly sixteen years ago, the number of Bloodliners in the world has multiplied drastically. Where once there used to be maybe, ten in Unova at the most since even before the birth of Resharim and Zekrom, now there are thousands, with a vastly female majority. Similar changes in numbers have occurred all over the world, all in the same time frame and gender scale. What has caused this drastic change?"

"I'd certainly like to know," Aurea Juniper thought out loud, "I wrote my thesis paper on the origins of the Trubbish evolutionary line, and Bloodliners are in between Pokémon and humanity after all..."

"As interesting and groundbreaking as that research would undoubtedly be, I would advise against it young lady," Rowan told her with a gruff sort of caution in his voice, "Politicians have a nasty habit of cherry picking your research to justify heinous things you never intended your research to be used for. They also have a unpleasant tendency to ignore anything that they don't want to be there, just ask Professor Oak about how it was when he was trying to publicize his findings on the causes of Pokémon on Human aggression, right Professor?"

Professor Oak seemed to be deep in thought, which Rowan interrupted with a gruff cough.

Sheepishly he came out of his thoughts enough to remember what she had actually asked him.

"Er, yes...believe me you wouldn't believe the death threats I got, and even still get today," Oak joked about it as his mind attempted to get back on track of his previous thought.

How to go about researching Bloodlines, starting of course with the Bloodliner (one of many terms used to describe them) who had just left his lab with a Pikachu.


 

Deep in the Viridian Forest; closer to Pewter City

"I think we missed him, perhaps we should get out..." Jessie suggested.

"Quiet!" Jessie snapped at her partner in crime as they held vigil in a little stand up top a non-Kakuna studded tree, which lay in perfect observation of the main path out of the Viridian Forest.

From what they had managed to gather, their target had left Viridian City and was heading north to Pewter City. He was registered to compete in the Kanto League after all, and with Viridian's gym currently closed (Giovanni was removing asbestos that had been installed by his predecessor and mother Madame Boss), Pewter City was the closest gym the boy could go to.

"We could be here for days though, can't we at least go back to Pewter City when it gets dark and get a portable DVD player or something?" James suggested.

That sounded like a pretty good idea at the moment...certainly better than sitting around in a tree with nothing to do.

"The boss gave us a direct order, and we will man this post until the target passes by..."

ZZZZTT

A loud burst of electrical energy exploded about a quarter mile into the forest center silenced both grunts as Meowth popped his head up from ground level, holding a white plastic bag filled with sub sandwiches with one of Team Rocket's human disguises that only Froakie could see through making him resemble a midget.

"You clowns better like eating and running, I think we just found our target."


 

With Ash and Misty

"You shouldn't be able to understand Pikachu, it's not a Fighting-type," Misty reiterated as Ash just gave her a confused stare.

"Why would you think I should only be able to understand Fighting-types?"

"Win-Wingull!"

The bird's loud calls briefly took their attention as a swarm of territorial Beedrill came out of the trees around them in a huge swarm.

Misty briefly looked terrified, before she decided to take advantage of the situation to give a demonstration before Ash would say the customary 'you must be crazy/think I'm stupid/ on something line.'

"Whirlpool!"

Wingull flew off of Misty's shoulders as Ash and Pikachu gaped at her in shock as she Misty briefly glowed white, raising her right hand high into the air before a huge, swirling vortex of water was held over her head.

The move that Dawn's Piplup had used to win many a contest had been created by a human, and was now catching the Beedrill in its watery confines.

With a ferocious yell, Misty sent the attack flying over head, the water attack losing cohersion after about thirty seconds of flight and caused the Bug-types to fall to the ground in a heap quite a distance away.

"I know you're different Ash, because you used Counter when you were attacked by the Route 1 flock of homicidal Spearow," she stated as if what she had just done was a trivial matter.

"I did!?" Ash said, utterly surprised.

"Pika pika chu." 'I was as surprised as you were.'

Ash turned to his mouse companion and demanded, "Then why didn't you tell me!?"

That little detail might have been important to know.

"Chu pika chu-pi"

Ash and Pikachu simultaneously looked annoyed at the fact that for some reason Ash couldn't consistently hear what Pikachu was actually saying.

"Is it normal to only hear half of what your Pokémon is saying in your head?" Ash questioned Misty, who looked confused.

"What, do you mean telepathically? When I hear my Pokémon, it's just like regular speech," Misty answered looking pensive. "Then again, for all I know this is normal. I've never met someone like me before, maybe the rules are different with each Bloodline, I'd have to think about it a bit."

"Blood what?"


 

With Team Rocket

Stealthily the two agents and their Meowth hid behind a pair of trees, poking their heads out into the clearing where the electrical blast had come from.

"You know, I don't think this is the Koffing killer's work," James noted as he surveyed the damage to the clearing.

It was clearly the place of a Pokémon battle after all; though in addition to electrical burns on the sides of trees, regular burns were scattered around and damp patches were everywhere, probably the fault of the fainted Squirtle lying on its back in the center of the clearing.

Its trainer was sitting on the ground in front of it, looking despondent. He had brown hair, done up all spike like, and was dressed in blue with blueish-black pants. He was around the same age as the kid they were pursuing.

"For all we know the Boss wants him because he can summon Ho-oh to do his bidding, now shut up!"

"I lost..." the kid muttered to himself in utter shock as the TR trio exchanged glances with one another, non verbally coming up with a plan to question the kid.

Five minutes later, as the boy finally returned his Squirtle to its ball and began walking towards Pewter City, still in a slight daze, the trio jumped out in front of him, disguised with their R shirts turned inside out and Meowth sitting by their feet akin to a regular Meowth.

"Why, don't you look down in the dumps?" James kindly asked the boy who averted his gaze.

"Leave me alone," the boy muttered as Jessie jumped in.

"Aren't you all down in the dumps today, did you lose something?"

The boy gritted his teeth, but responded "Yeah, I lost a battle. Some jerk with a Pikachu and a C..."

The TR trio exchanged urgent, if terrified from James, glances before pressing.

"Say, this Pikachu trainer didn't have a blue jacket, a official Pokémon League hat..."

As they asked this, Gary suddenly burst into laughter.

"Wait, are you trying to describe Ashy boy!? Like hell would I ever loose to him. Thanks though, I needed a laugh. Now, I'm off to Pewter City for a Gym Battle."

He got about a eight of a mile down the path before the TR trio, who were internally wondering why there was another Pikachu trainer running about, recalled that he was prime for a Pokemon poaching and promptly ran after him.

"Prepare for trouble...!"

Buzzzzzzz!

A swarm of the giant bee Pokemon Beedrill descended around them before Gary could hear their motto, disturbed by TR's loud racket.

"...Well, I guess we have to prepare for trouble," Meowth gulped as Koffing and Ekans went out to protect their masters.


 

Later that night

A desperate need to consume sustenance later confirmed that one rule at least was in common for people like Misty and himself, or as Misty called it, those with Bloodlines.

As Misty seemed confused why what he was able to do differed from how it worked with her, she had no answers, and it wasn't worth asking her now. Not only was there no way in hell that Misty was going to make any sort of noise in the dark of night in an area home to known Ariados nests. (Apparently, some Johto Pokemon could be found west of Mt. Moon, but in low numbers), but she was also fast asleep in her own sleeping bag on the other side of the campfire as Ash silently prayed that Misty's sleep cycle was the same as he reached for Caterpie's Pokéball, using the inside of his sleeping bag to muffle the noise of the released Caterpie; Pikachu's own ears perking up as he heard it.

Ash placed a finger on Caterpie's crest, causing the bug to lose the apprehension in its eyes as he regained all his lost memories.

Placing two fingers on each of his temples, Ash stared intently at Caterpie 'Caterpie, I am speaking to you telepathically. Do you understand me?'

The bug just stared at him before making a few bug wheezy noises 'Pikachu, why is Ash doing a Patrick Stewart impression? For that matter, why am I a Caterpie again? Last thing I remember I was flying around north of the Kalos region...now I'm back where I was born again...and somehow Ash can apparently comprehend what we're saying in full.'

The mouse, who had squirmed in deeper into the bag, swatted Ash in the nose to stop him from attempting telepathy from his end of the conversation. "Pika chu cha pi." 'Its sort of complicated, with time travel distorting space and the end of all reality to prevent from reoccurring, that sort of thing...and who's Patrick Stewart?'

Caterpie seemed to be unamused as he made a few more noises the author has no idea how to type 'So basically, the space-time continuum has been broken and time reset, and its our job to keep it from breaking in the first place?'

"Pi?" 'Space-Time wha?'

Ash continued to try and focus as he told them rather upbeat, "Hey, I'm actually starting to get the hang of this. I just need to focus on it."

"Chu-ka pi-ka-cha." 'Just don't try to figure out Poke Language to a point you don't need it; humans can not comprehend the 500,000 basic rules to it without getting to the semi complicated ones, mildly complicated, rather complicated and unholy complicated ones.'

Caterpie crawled his way up to the top of the sleeping bag to stare up at the moon as he was prone to do in the original timeline, commenting, 'You know, regardless of the fact that the space-time continuum may be in danger of shattering for a second time, it might not be so bad to restart everything again. It was a lot of fun training with you in the original timeline back when you were a rookie...at least I assume you weren't a rookie when the original timeline ended. That and maybe I can avoid a few bad calls with my mate that put me in the Growlithe house, so to speak.'

Ash looked insulted as he replied, "Oh come on, I'm not that bad. I won the Orange League and Battle Frontier, got into the top 16 in the Indigo conference, top 8 in the Silver, Ever Grande and Vertress conferences and the top 4 in the Lily of the Valley conference...still wish I won though."

"PikaPi Pi-Pika Chu..." 'You know Ash, all the trainers who won the conferences, John Dixon, Tyson, Tobias, Virgil were at least 16. Considering you were...' Pikachu drew a blank at how old Ash was.

"Oh come on Pikachu, you know I was..." Ash also drew a blank on exactly how old he was.

Stupid temporal distortions/Cyrus being an ass.

"Pika Pi-Pikachu Ka-chu" ' ...well I'm pretty sure you were not that old. For however old you were, an average of the Top 8 is quite an accomplishment. Even if at times you made questionable calls, you've gotten better over time. Look at how you learned how to better use Flying types after Hoenn and how you managed to make full use of Bug-types in Unova, not to mention you were able to maintain a team of 10 Pokémon in rotation for the first time.'

"I still lost in Unova, and went down a seat," Ash seemed to be somewhat prone to depression about his past actions.

"Chu." 'Yeah, that's Professor Juniper's fault.'

Caterpie and Ash stared at Pikachu in confusion as Caterpie asked, 'There's more than one Professor?'

"Pikachu, why would you blame her? For all I know I was eternally 10, and I'm more mature than that"

"Pika ka-Cha" 'Ash, what is the difference between Professor Juniper's lab and Professor's Oaks? Professor Oak's has a expansive outdoor area where Pokémon are let loose to continuously train themselves as we are warrant to do. He even helps out in doing so to better study Pokémon-Human relations. Professor Juniper does not have this, instead the Pokemon you kept in rotation at her lab were kept in their pokeballs in stasis. Had you had the ability to reliably send your Unova Pokémon to Kanto for rotation, you could have possibly have won Unova. It might have worked out more to your favor if you fully rotated your team, but considering how I'm pretty sure you lost my Pokéball at some point and Pignite had abandonment issues that could have really negatively effected him if you swapped him out until he got over it after the Team Plasma thing, but still it was the right idea, but perhaps the wrong time to implement it.'

Ash thought about that for a moment. That did make some level of sense; after all he didn't teach Noctowl Air Slash, Herracross Sleep Talk, Torkoal Heat Wave or Snorlax Ice Punch. They learned those moves at Oak's Lab.

Still, he didn't believe that it was right to blame Professor Juniper for every loss in Unova after all.

"I'm sure I must have done something wrong. I mean, perhaps I should have seen if it was possible to carry more than six Pokémon or something."

Caterpie shook his head and told him, 'After I left Ash, I've traveled across the world. At no point did I ever see a trainer allowed to train more than six Pokémon while on the move. If you were in a fixed place, like a Gym or Oak's lab, you could have more than six Pokémon active, but once you leave the confines, having over six goes against international law, but who knows, maybe that is different in this new timelime. The Pokédex might have something on it though.'

Ash curiously decided to check this, after lowering the volume of course.

"Pokemon Trainers are allowed to carry a maximum of six Pokémon on them at any given time outside of specifically allowed areas with Pokéball limit jammers. This number has in the past been higher or lower based on the cost of Pokémon food, trends of battling and wild Pokémon, as well as human hostility. The six Pokémon limit of modern times was implemented forty years ago by Professor Samuel Oak in part after the near leveling of Coastal Johto by infamous outlaw 'Twenty Gyarados Bill'."

"Guess not."

'Twenty Gyarados Bill?' Caterpie was both amused and terrified by the name.

"Makes me wish I was known as 'Twenty Charizard' Ash," Ash commented before he thought about some of the disobedience issues his Charizard had had, "on second thought maybe that might not be such a good idea."


 

The Next day

Contrary to what it may appear, Ash did not abandon his Pidgeot.

During his time in the Orange Islands, Route 1 was affected by construction, which caused habitat disruption. This, coupled with the environmental chaos caused by a overzealous collector trying to capture the original Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres, resulted in the flock migrating elsewhere.

Ash cried himself to sleep the night he found a familiar feather left in his window as a parting gift.

Thus, at the first spotting of the as of now Pidgeotto he had caught prior (quickly confirmed by the scent detecting skills of Pikachu the wonder mouse) just as Ash and Misty finished off a box of poptarts each and their released Pokemon (Pikachu, Caterpie, Wingull and, on his own will, Psyduck) were dealing with another round of Pokémon food, capture was a immediate must as the bird landed on the ground on the other side of the little clearing they stopped for the night in to peck at worms in the ground, before noticing them and glaring.

"Pidgeotto, the Bird Pokémon middle evolution of the Kanto-Johto region. It constructs its nests in the center of their large territories, held by various migrating flocks of this Pokemon and its evolution and pre-evolution Pidgeot and Pidgey. Pidgeotto are loyal and determined creatures, but will use vicious force to defend themselves and those in their flock." Ash's Pokédex recorded another Pokémon seen as Ash and his Pokémon immediately disengaged from eating.

Misty noted his interest and asked, "You want to catch it?"

Ash nodded before he gave a glance to Caterpie.

As much as Ash would prefer to possibly do this the easy way and just touch them and regain their memories, there was the problem of touching a wild Pokemon that could fly, and also to a somewhat dangerous one.

So thus, violence was necessary, but with Pokémon battle honor and all Pidgeotto should forgive him.

"Use String Shot to prevent Pidgeotto from flying off."

Caterpie obliged with a blast of threads from its mouth, though Ash didn't hear anything from him (perhaps it was just his eagerness to get one of his old friends back messing with his concentration or something), which promptly restrained Pidgeotto from flying off by binding its right foot.

The bird gave an annoyed look at the bug that was restraining it, yet also a confused one, in the sort of 'why is the prey preventing the predator from flying away and leaving it alone' sort of look, to which it responded by flying downwards at Caterpie in a quick attack.

"Meet it head on with Tackle!"

The two charging attacks met head on, but it seemed Quick Attack was faster, causing the now airborne Caterpie to swing backwards.

"Now, use the String Shot to sling yourself around and Tackle it again!"

The string shot still attached to Pidgeotto's leg, the Bug-type took the energy from the Tackle-Quick Attack collision to speed itself around and above the now startled Flying-type.

The Tackle was a critical hit, causing Pidgeotto to crash down into the dirt as Caterpie landed right next to it. Similar to the old timeline, that fall would have killed (or severely injured) a human, but the Pokémon were perfectly fine.

Pidgeotto wasn't going anywhere without a potion though.

Ash promptly threw the Pokéball, which energized the downed bird and caught it with no hassle after the third shake.

Misty rose an eyebrow in surprise at his capture. "Are you sure you're a rookie trainer? That was pretty good."

He just shrugged his shoulders and told her, "Guess I'm just a natural."

When he sent out Caterpie, she was promptly ready to give him a lecture about typing once he was forced to return Caterpie. She had no idea that was actually legitimately planned.

Ash, Pikachu, Caterpie and Psyduck each gave their own version of a nervous laugh; the former for being time travelers and the latter because Misty would now expect him to be that awesome.

However, before Misty could press on about the origin of the laughs, Caterpie promptly glowed in the well known light of evolution.


 

A day later, with TR

"This isn't the Chicken and Bacon Ranch Melt Meowth! I told you I wanted a Chicken and Bacon ranch melt after two straight days of Meatball Marinara, not the Roasted Chicken!"

"What do you take me for rich boy, a cat that can make money out of thin air? Those things cost more than your fancy bottle cap cases."

"You're a Meowth! Your signature move is Pay Day and we're members of a criminal organization!"

"Yes, but do you think that a government in Kanto could last if they didn't have the ability to control Meowth financial..."

"Silence, we have to take notes, the kid's battling some Samurai wannabe!" Jessie hushed them both as they observed the battle that was about to go down.

"Trainer from Pallet, your compatriot has dishonored me in combat and after combat with his dishonorable behavior! As his townsmate, you shall pay for his dishonor!"

"Uh, sure?" Ash didn't think he was this high strung last time.

"Now, go Pinsir! Avenge my honor!"

In a flash of white light, the huge, brown beetle Pokemon with its large, steel gray crushing pincers on its head glared down at Ash with a metallic clash of its crushing claws.

He was about to get out his Pokédex for more information on it, but it beat him to it.

"Pinsir, the Stag Beetle Pokemon. Pinsir are well known for their feud with Scyther and Heracross for forest territory. Using its pincers, this Pokemon can snap flag poles in half," Ash's Pokédex rang out from his pocket.

"Metapod, go!"

Ash threw his own ball, releasing the green cocoon Pokemon that had evolved from his Caterpie after the successful capture of his Pidgeotto.

"Metapod, the Cocoon Pokémon. While this Pokémon usually does not eat or move, a trained Metapod is capable of everything a Caterpie can do. A wild caught Metapod, or one trained by a complete rookie, is incapable of anything. Despite this, it is the icon of Playtrainer magazine."

What kind of messed up people or Pokémon...

Ash just removed the Pokédex from his pocket with a confused look as he asked it, "Do you have to randomly give out information like that?"

"Yes," the Pokedex stated before Ash repocketed it.

His opponent yelled at him and said, "Just like that Pokedex, you are a fool, and shall be dealt with as one. Pinsir, Vice Grip!"

The huge, imposing bug type loomed over the green bug cocoon, his pincers clicking together ominously like rusty sheers as Metapod looked vaguely alarmed.

"Use String Shot!"

The Metapod released a gush of string from below its eyes (where one would assume it once had a mouth), which bound the pincer's together and caused both scary bug type, and samurai trainer, to freeze in panic.

"Impossible! A Metapod cannot use any attack that is not Harden!"

As if to doubly prove this thinking false, Ash had Metapod use another attack.

"Now, Tackle!"

Metapod proved it retained its other attack as well, with a solid thrust into Pinsir's face. The attack caused the much larger bug type to stumble back, before tripping over and fainting.

"What! You dishonor me with your treachery! That is simply a Caterpie in Metapod's clothing, is it not?"

"...No, it's a Metapod I trained from a Caterpie," Ash asserted in an annoyed tone as the Samurai recalled the downed Pinsir.

"You shall be punished, go Metapod!"

The Samurai's own Metapod appeared before him as Ash returned his own Metapod and threw out another Pokéball, releasing Pidgeotto.

"Allow me to show you a true Metapod, Harden!"

"Gust."

Contrary to what was once taught to Pokémon trainers in the Kanto, Johto, Orre and Hoenn regions, what attack stat a move was based on was not based on the type of attack, but the attack itself. So, despite what was once taught, Gust was a special attack, not a physical attack.

So, when the flying attack hit the bettered defensive power of the Metapod, all Harden did for it was to make it hurt more when the Metapod was blown right into the Samurai, who was blown along with his Metapod into the sky.

There was even a Team Rocket-esque twinkle to announce that he was well and truly gone.

Ash and his companion blinked in confusion about how easy that was.

"Wow, I guess all that battling for our lives against that swarm of Beedrill was good for more than just perfecting Pikachu's Iron Tail, huh Pidgeotto?" Ash muttered to himself.

"Uh Ash?" Misty asked him as she pointed over at Metapod.

He turned to look as to his surprise he saw a glow already surrounding his bug Pokemon.

"Metapod's evolving!" Ash exclaimed delightedly.

He watched as his old Pokemon became a Butterfree again, gaining large white wings and attaining a more purple middle with large red eyes and the iconic black markings of a male Butterfree.

Once Metapod was done becoming well and truly a Butterfree, Butterfree stretched out its wings in triumph as it flew around.

"Free-free!"

Meanwhile Team Rocket was watching him and making a verbal report on what they'd seen.

"Okay, Trainer whose name we are pretty sure is named Ash stalking report volume 1: Trainer in forest with red head Water-type trainer female. Trainer has captured and trained a Butterfree, Pidgeotto and has apparently perfected Pikachu's Iron Tail attack. Victorious battle with Bug-type samurai trainer and now on the move north to Pewter City. Stalking shall continue, send more sandwich money."

Jessie verbally recorded the information to be send to Giovanni while Meowth and James continued to argue about sandwiches, missing the latter part of the conversation visible to only Ash's perspective.

'Free-Free!' "I so did miss being able to fly around, and look at my beautiful wings," his Butterfree said in delight.

As he looked at his newly evolved Pokémon, he had to agree with Butterfree there.

"Now, to Pewter City, and away from this forest!" Misty seemed too happy to leave.


 

Omake

Canon Relativity to Reset Universe; Not Canon

Welcome to the Omake

Crossoverpairinglover Studios

"Today is the day."

"Hey, you're stealing my line."

Ash, back in his 10 year old form as seen in the Original Series, with Pikachu at his side was standing within a see through elevator going up the sides of a large building deep within a large city.

Next to him was a red head dressed in a yellow body suit with a lightning bolt symbol on his chest.

"So, you're Quicksilver, right?"

The red head turned to Ash with an annoyed look and stared at him as he questioned, "Do I look like an irritable mutant who jumps ship from hero to villain like its hopscotch? I'm Kid Flash!"

"Oh, sorry..."

"So, somewhat idiotic anime character, how are you enjoying your recent promotion to the top of the Studio? You're now one of the front running stories, and the only one really active now. The future of us all rides on your shoulders."

Ash blushed as he urged, "No need to put so much pressure on me."

"I have to. Here at this studio, we've done all sorts of stories; starring blond ninjas, boys who lived and seaweed brained demigods, along with yours truly..."

"Didn't you co-star?"

"Please use present tense, I am just in hiatus. Of course, that means you're going to have to cover all the omakes."

"Omakes?"

"Shouldn't you know what they are, you're an anime character?"

"That's a stereotype!"

"Pi-Pika!"

One of the original sidekicks just shrugged and said, "Well you're more likely to be shown doing something comedic than Batman or Goliath...well anyway basically you're going to have to be ready for anything. You could crossover across any fandom the author likes..."

"Pika Pika." 'As long as I don't end up a card in some Pharaoh's deck or start sparkling I'm fine with anything.'

"Yeah, and I'd better not be finding out the leader of Team Rocket is actually my father Darth Vader..." Ash commented.

"...you could be used to show off some random fact the author found out as he was writing the chapter..."

Iran teaches evolution to all its students and has no religious problem with it/ There are roughly 12,000 species of Fern in the world/ J.A.R.V.I.S is Vision's Voice actor in Avengers 2/ J.K Rowling is now a Harmonian.

As the loud and imposing voice showed off this point, Kid finished.

"...I know Naruto ended up involved with Pleistocene Rewilding in his last project, among other things (Plesti wha?). You could even show off a challenge the author coughs up that he hopes a reader will take on. Hopefully you won't be used to vent out the author's political views, it offends too many fans. The big guy is working on it, but sometimes he just has a bad day..."

Beep

The elevator reached the top floor, silencing the kid hero as the three prepared to exit the elevator.

"Omake or not Ash, be ready to have fun with it, and remember; you only have one shot. The author has proven he can only do a well liked story in a fandom once; ignoring that side project he did in a different section of your fandom, if you mess this up, you're never going to get another chance. Now, I'm off to get that free ramen before that Ninja beats me to it."

As Kid sped off into the exclusive 'your story is a top priority one V.I.P penthouse' floor, Ash and Pikachu sighed.

"Well Pikachu, I guess we have to take this one step at a time. Let's just try to get to 100 reviews and see if we can make it. I mean, we already have 44 with three chapters, I'm sure we'll be number 1 at this studio before we know it"

"You have to overcome the other stories first, and you're barely half way to the next milestone dobe," a duck haired anime character rudely told Ash before walking away to brood some more, "Of course, even if you beat Olympus Divided and Moon Heir 2 right after it, to best the next highest reviewed story, Next Gen you'd need over 250 more reviews. You'd need nearly 2000 reviews to take Mysterious Power's crown at the top. You should give up now dobe."

"...Maybe we can get some Espurr to terrify the readers into reviewing more" Ash suggested as he and Pikachu promptly fell into a depression.

Chapter Text

Entrance to Pewter City

"...So, you plan to enter the Indigo Conference, win all eight badges and all..." Misty spoke in a tone that was both conversational and questioning as the two walked down the hills into the valley Pewter was located in.

"Yep."

"...And I'm taking it you plan to challenge the gym leader of Pewter City?"

"Pi-Pikachu Pi." 'Preferably without that wheel thing again, me being squeezed to death roughly twice and having to win by sprinkler ex machina.'

Ash internally flinched at being reminded of how some of his earliest 'victories' were somewhat less victory and more reward. That and he hated to win because of unfair circumstances.

He still felt bad about Mauville Gym supercharging Pikachu during his battle with Watson. Cheating, directly or not, was something that Ash could not stand in anyone, particularly himself.

"That's the plan. Not much else to see in Pewter if you're not a geologist or astrologist."

Misty nodded and said, "You know that Rock-types are super effective against Flying and Bug-type Pokémon, and that most of the ones in Kanto are also part Ground type, so you can't just shock them to defeat them."

"Pi?" 'We could just aim for a horn and hope for the best.'

Ash thought about how that had happened, and decided that he should not rely on that this time around. Considering how Pokémon seemed to actually be somewhat different (More aggressive for one thing) in this new timeline, Ash had the oddest idea he couldn't use Gainax logic to overrule physics with willpower and awesomeness.

"Well, Pikachu perfected Iron Tail while we were in the forest..." Ash pointed out as Misty shivered involuntarily at the memory of being in said forest, "Steel beats Rock."

"You know, I was wondering why you taught it Iron Tail, wouldn't Brick Break do the same thing but with more versatility?"

"Pikachu can learn Brick Break?"

The mouse on his shoulder shrugged, having no idea if he could learn it.

"Iron Tail would still work, and maybe you just want to make sure Pikachu can have a move capable of hurting a Ghost-Ground type, but to each his own I guess," Misty commented as she shrugged, "You know, this actually works out well..."

She had a thoughtful look as Ash and Pikachu cocked their heads in confusion at her.

"I want to check a few things out while we're here, and if they pan out they should come out nicely."

At no point as they went into the city while Misty was pondering plans or discussing the logic of Iron Tail over Brick Break, did they encounter a rock salesman...which was a real shame not only for getting to possibly meet Brock's father but also because Ash had been looking forward to starting a rock collection that he would have to lug all over the world and would be entirely useless to him.

Well, maybe at least Gary was that stupid and already bought all the rocks...doubtful, but hey a guy could dream.

Gate of Pewter City

Ash had come to accept that time travel had caused several disruptions in time, ranging from people's ages to, as he recalled from his still hazy sets of memories, more wars.

However, it was quite obvious that there were more changes yet, and he hadn't expected this one.

A familiar figure was waiting up front at the gate, a large, muscular man with a large round nose, huge mustache and dressed in a karate-esque uniform.

"I am Don George, of the Pewter City battle club. I take it you're a trainer here to challenge Brock, the Pewter City gym leader?"

Don George, the battle club manager family from Unova...was now in Kanto. Of all the possible...

Ash would have expected Brock to become a woman before something like that...which would admittedly be seriously awkward and wrong but would evoke the question would Brock then be boy crazy?

Ash managed to absently nod through his confusion and shock, while Misty shook her head, "I'm just traveling with him; I don't have any interest in the Pokémon League challenge."

"Well then, you're going to have to come with me young man, and why not you as well miss."

Pewter City Battle Club

Iris had said before about the Battle Club, that it "was an awesome place for trainers to sharpen their skills", or something along those lines, about the battle clubs of the old timeline, and these ones didn't seem to differ from that.

The educational lecture part...was different, as Ash found himself in a room with roughly a dozen plus other trainers around his age, as Don George stood in front of them, more like something out of a school than a battle facility.

"Each and every one of you has come to Pewter City for the purpose of challenging Brock, the leader of the Pewter City Gym," Don George spoke in front of the class, "A noble first step for many of you in your journey to the Pokémon League championships at the Indigo Plateau, however at this point I must ask...how many of you are not from either the Pewter, Viridian or Pallet areas?"

Only four hands went up.

"...And of that, how many of you are from anywhere east of Mount Moon?

The hands dropped.

"As I suspected, so allow me to be straight with you; the Pokémon found within this area are not known for their general ability to fight Brock's Rock-type Pokémon. Allow me to use video demonstrations to explain what used to happen before you were all required to attend this seminar."

The room darkened as the sound of technology activating preceded the projector's activation, revealing a video footage of a gym battle, with Brock (Who looked older, but no more so than twenty if Ash had to guess), once again commanding his Onix, with a young trainer's Pidgey bravely staring it down...

SWAT

Before being whacked by Onix's tail and KO'd.

Similar scenes were shown with Onix easily defeating a Caterpie, Weedle, Rattata, Spearow, Ekans, Jigglypuff and Metapod, then a few scenes that initially brought up the non-Ash's in the room's hopes, but quickly squashed them when a Beedrill, Paras, Mankey and Sandshrew were similarly swatted.

"You cannot just bring in a poorly matched Pokémon, or even a correctly matched one you just caught, into a gym battle. You must train your Pokémon before you battle them. It's in bad taste to use a Pokémon just for a specific battle and never use it again*.

"As Pokémon trainers, you have a long journey ahead of you. There are many paths to take, and there is no 'correct' way to go about it, though there are wrong paths. It's equally as professional to use the same team of Pokémon again and again as it is to occasionally start from scratch in a new region or a mixture of these paths. Just as it is equally as respectable for a trainer to travel to compete in the Pokémon League, the Grand Festival, or for any other goal."

Ash felt a bit better after hearing that. Glad that his tendency to reset his team to just Pikachu in order to catch new Pokémon and learn was just as valid as using Pikachu, Charizard, Squirtle, Bulbasaur and the rest of the old guard from region to region.

"As you are now, you will be battling Brock's first badge team," Don George stated as the projector changed from showing the Gym's epic fail reel 'Onix smashes Com Mon' collection and going to a more directly educational one, showing a single boulder badge next to a image of a Geodude and Onix. "Brock is a Pokémon Breeder, who breeds his own Pokémon as well as the Pokémon of other clients. In doing so, he is one of the most flexible, and most powerful, of the Kanto Gym Leaders. While most, such as certain jerks in Vermillion City, have to catch weaker Pokémon for first timer challengers, Brock breeds them, and thus has more control of what Pokémon he fields"

"For those who may not have picked up what I hinted earlier, Gym Leaders are required to field different teams for different badge numbers. For example, if you had four badges and challenged Brock, his team would look like this."

The display changed to show four boulder badges, and Geodude was replaced by a Graveler, while a Rhyhorn was added.

"Pika Pi?" 'You know, this makes a lot of sense.'

After all, it wasn't like you had to go on a specific gym route or anything. A trainer starting from Cinnabar, for instance, couldn't exactly fight Magmar, and it would seem somewhat anti-climactic if the final gym battle that a trainer from Blackthorn city had in, say, Azalea Town involved a Metapod.

Ash just shrugged, perhaps because of his battle style he didn't really think about tiered strength levels like this. Because he didn't focus on evolving his team, he would hold the one badge level team to the same standards as he would hold the eight badge team.

That was just him anyway, but when your Bulbasaur and Corphish could stand at the same level as a Meganium or Alakazam, you could be forgiven for not really considering things that way.

"As you earn more and more badges, the Pokémon that you could have to face diversify. These are among the Pokémon that Brock has been shown to use."

The display started to show a wider amount of Pokémon with a number of badges around them, including some Golem (7,8), Rhydon (6, 7, 8), Omanyte (2, 3), Omastar, Kabuto (2, 3), Kabutops (7, 8), Aerodactyl (7, 8), Sudowoodo (5), Shuckle (3), Larvitar (2) and Rhyperior (8), as well as more Onix (2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8), Geodude (2, 3), Rhyhorn (3, 5, 6) and Graveler (3,5,6).

"Man, I am so glad that Brock never used one of those teams on me," Ash muttered quietly to himself as Pikachu gave him a look.

"Pi-Kachu Pi-Pikachu Cha." 'Ash, I don't think Gyms were quite like that back in the old timeline. For all you know, gym leaders used only singular sets of Pokémon, seeing as Lt. Surge only had one Raichu and seemingly no other Pokémon, Maylene only had one Lucario, Flannery was definitely too inexperienced to have trained more Fire-types, Sabrina definitely didn't go easy on anyone...'

"Point taken," He whispered so only his mouse heard. Though he had to wonder how many other things about Brock had changed.

"Before any of you can battle Brock, you must prove to me that you are ready to do so. Per the Gym Leader code of conduct, a Gym Leader may set specific restrictions for who can or cannot battle them; as I'm sure many of you are aware with Viridian's restriction on anyone battling without at least six badges, and Brock's one and only restriction is that you must prove that you have actually trained for your battle and know what you’re doing, in addition to making sure you are all properly registered for the Pokémon League of course."

A few minutes later

Ash found himself in a lengthy line for access to a Pokéball registration machine, utterly bored.

"Didn't I already do this or something?" He muttered to himself.

Ash was pretty sure that he had handled all this paperwork at some point previously.

Then again, he did have a unique favorable relationship with Professor Oak that most trainers did not have; perhaps this was how most trainers who didn't get starter Pokémon (such as Stephan or Nando) had to deal with.

Or perhaps it was a just new timeline thing.

"Next."

Ash found himself up now, as Pikachu hopped down from his shoulder and Ash placed the balls containing Pidgeotto and Butterfree in the registration machine as he then reached into his pocket.

"Oh, a Butterfree and Pidgeotto? Not bad, at least you don't think you can defeat a gym leader with a Rattata and Caterpie..." Don George fell silent at seeing what Ash pulled out.

"Is that a...Pokédex?" Ash nodded as Don grabbed the dex and activated it, similar to how the first Jenny Ash had met had once did.

"This unit, to be identified as Dexter Mark 1, is a sixth generation Pokémon Digital Database programmed for trainer Ash Ketchum of Pallet Town by Professor Samuel Oak," the dex blared out, now showing Ash's appearance, "My Function is to provide information on the various Pokémon this trainer is sure to encounter and general relevant information, as well as act as a general identification, including Passport, Credit Card and Insurance Card. If I am stolen and shown to be in the hands of another trainer, please arrest the thief and see me returned to my trainer before he suffers a humiliating incident. Currently, this trainer has seen 21 Pokémon: Those being Pikachu, Mr. Mime, Pidgey, Rattata, Spearow, Fearow, Psyduck, Chansey, Meowth, Ekans, Koffing, Staryu, Starmie, Wingull, Caterpie, Metapod, Butterfree, Weedle, Kakuna, Beedrill and Pinsir and has caught 5, and is unlicensed to drive or operate automobiles, drink alcohol or purchase tobacco. If he attempts to do any of these things, please call his mother at..."

Ash and Pikachu just stared at the electronic device in annoyance while Don George kept looking on in amazement, not even registering Delia's phone number.

"You're a Pokédex Holder!?"

Pokédex holder? That was a new term.

Ash nodded as Don, of all things, bowed.

"My humble apologies for keeping you waiting. As you did not have a Kanto Starter Pokémon on you, I did not immediately recognize who you were. Allow me to speed you along sir, you certainly will not need to go through the required testing period and thus should go straight to the training section."

He was quickly pushed along in his stunned state of paralysis by the overly cheerful Don.

Gym room

In the original timeline, Ash had made use of the Battle Club's training facilities a number of times. Starting after he had trained for his rematch with Lenora and teaching Tepig Flame Charge and Oshawott Aqua Jet, he had later used the facilities to aide in the teaching of several moves, including Pignite's Brick Break, Leavanny's X-Scissor and Krookodile's Aerial Ace.

Of course, the fact he had to work out in the process as well was odd, but not unwelcome, as Misty walked into the training area while Ash and Pikachu were simultaneously on a treadmill for the re-teaching of Quick Attack, while Butterfree was flying in a wind tunnel and Pidgeotto flying through an obstacle course and smashing through targets, in their own training.

"Huh, I could have sworn it would take you far longer to get through those tests," Misty said matter-of-factly as Ash kept up the pace he had been on for a while.

"Apparently, having a Pokédex lets you cut in line," Ash absently stated as Misty looked at him in surprise.

"You really don't realize how big in value a Pokédex is, do you?"

"Well, apparently it functions as a passport, credit card and a 'do not give this minor alcohol' warning, and probably a few hundred other thing's I don't know, so I guess I don't," Ash had to admit and that wasn't even because his memories were still crazy mixed up, that was never covered by Oak or summer camp.

"Pokédexes were only first produced in the last ten years, and so few of them have been made. The first five versions were given out only to the greatest trainers: such as Alder, Cynthia and Eagun, because they take a lot of time to create, and the current model is only given out to trainers who start at Pokémon labs. Each Pokédex is hand assembled by a Pokémon Professor, and constantly have to be upgraded for the latest in Pokémon research, which each Pokédex aides in by taking details on every Pokémon its owner comes across and sending them to the national Pokédex database," Misty explained before blushing, "At least, according to the last National Poké-Geographic I read, anyway."

"Pi-Pika" 'Well, one timeline's common device is another timeline's uber rare tech.'

Don George then chose to pop his head into the gym at this time as he said, "Sorry to keep you here so long sir," Ash couldn't help but feel a certain level of satisfaction for being called 'sir'. "The last part of the testing must begin now, it’s a battle round and thus it requires your presence..."

He then noted Misty as he then addressed her. "Er, excuse me for asking miss, but there is an odd number of trainers for this last round. I'd like to make it an even number if possible..."

Misty shrugged and replied, "I got what I needed done, so I guess I have no reason not to."

In the battle club tournament area

"As per the Gym Leader code of conduct, each and every gym leader may set restrictions for those who wish to challenge them. Some require you to navigate a maze, others may quiz you in a volcano. Some may have no restrictions at all. The gym you are all applying for, however, requires a proper show of aptitude before you are given my final approval to enter into the waiting list for challenging Brock, and it shall be done so in a tournament."

"There are sixteen of you here today, and of you any number of you are going to prove yourselves ready to fight Brock. The goal of this tournament is not to prove you're the strongest or the luckiest, but that you are competent. Last week’s exam, in which sixteen trainers battled to show their worth to me, I passed five, and three of those five have managed to defeat Brock. The other two, whom managed to get farther than most of the pre-exam first time challengers and defeated his Geodude, are currently training for their rematches."

"Pi." 'How much you willing to bet that Gary was one of them?'

Ash frowned. While Gary at this point in time was an outright ass, Ash was not going to say he was a talentless idiot. Gary knew what he was doing, and probably more so this time around because he no longer had a car or cheerleader squad with him.

Still it would be nice to think to think that, nor would he mind knowing who the other two trainers were who had recently defeated Brock.

"Now, let the battles begin. Show me you know what you’re doing."

The Tournament

Ash was in the third battle, and had his Pidgeotto against a Rattata. The rodent looked outright terrified with a bird that stood over two feet over it staring it down.

The trainer of the Rattata, however, didn't seem as concerned as he should be about it.

"Rattata, the Mouse Pokémon. Rattata are incredibly common and adaptive Pokémon which are capable of colonizing a wide variety of habitats, generally with the aide of stupid travelers. This was the first Wind-Up Toy Pokémon known to have been made by Rumble. Inc," the Pokédex rang out from Ash's pocket as the battle began.

"Use Focus Energy," Rattata's trainer called out as the rodent began to glow white.

"Counter with Gust."

Pidgeotto took into the air and began to blow a powerful burst of wind into the rodent, which lost its grip on the ground with its little claws and was blown into the air.

After a minute, the gust relented and the mouse was on the ground, struggling back up.

"Now, counter with Quick Attack!" The Rattata's trainer ordered as a different white aura surrounded the little nibbler, before it burst forward at an impressive speed.

"Meet it head on Pidgeotto."

A similar, but somehow more impressive white color surrounded Pidgeotto, who took off at the charging mouse at a faster speed. However...

As the two speeding Normal-types approached, Rattata was able to avoid being hit due to its smaller size, and ended up striking a critical hit in the joint of Pidgeotto's right wing.

Out of context, one could refer to this as a 'farmboy destroys ultimate weapon of uber sith lord' technique, minus a Y wing. It could also be considered a 'David vs Goliath' esque trick for those who do not believe in the Force.

As Rattata landed on uneasy legs from the previous gust attack, Pidgeotto just plain crashed to the ground.

As Ash looked on with alarm, his first battle captured Pokémon struggled up on her (yes, it took Ash two timelines to realize that his Pidgeotto was female, but he was never really taught to look for it. Not only were Pokémon 'boy/girl bits' not nearly as large or as noticeable as the biologically stacked [in comparison] humans, but it was considered weird, and abusive, to poke around trying down there to figure out the gender) feet, before flinching on her awkwardly angled wing 'Ow...I think it’s broken.'

His opponent however looked pleased.

"Now, finish it with Tackle Rattata!"

As the rodent charged for the injured bird for the knock out, Ash briefly was overwhelmed with fear for his Pokémon, just before his spontaneous side overtook his caring side as he told Pidgeotto, "Hurry, use Steel Wing to protect yourself!"

"Caw!" 'Use Steel Wing to...you know I really did miss your spontaneous side all these years.' with a voice that went from an 'are you crazy' tone to a 'that's brilliant' one.

Pidgeotto lifted her uninjured left wing up, which was glowing steel gray, and slammed it in front of itself like a wall with enough force to pierce the ground of the battlefield.

The Rattata didn't have time to stop, and crashed into the Steel Wing, tottering backwards from it in a bit of an unnerving daze.

"Pi pi pi." 'That Rattata looks like it might have a concussion' Pikachu observed as Ash had an unnerved look. He didn't mean to do that. That rarely happened in battles in the old timeline; the only battles that did that much damage to a Pokémon were either long and intense (Charizard vs Harrison's Blaziken), or done with that goal in mind (like Team Galactic and Paul).

Pikachu quickly noticed Ash's anxiety. "Pikapi chu" 'Ash, if it makes you feel better, we Pokémon heal from things like that much easier than humans. I'd say it would be more the equivalent of you scraping your knee after crashing a bicycle recovery wise. Effect wise, however, a concussion, while not as long term as in a human, is still a bad thing for a Pokémon.'

The other trainer apparently did not see this or simply did not care as he insisted, "Come on Rattata, finish it!"

"Hey, your Pokémon is too hurt, you should call it back before it really hurts itself!" Ash yelled at his opponent.

"Oh shut up, I know what I'm..."

"Rattata is unable to battle, the victory goes to Ash Ketchum and Pidgeotto!" Don announced, apparently agreeing with Ash, with said muscled man now getting into a shouting match with the Rattata's trainer about Pokémon treatment.

During this shouting match, Pokémon Ethics, decent human decency and 'you are not a Johto born savage' being thrown into the mix, Ash really wasn't paying much attention to the specifics as he was more concerned about his injured Pidgeotto.

"I'm sorry," he apologized as he knelt down in front of his bird and gently stroked her back, "This caught me off guard."

His first flying type captured softly cooed and rubbed herself against his hand and told him, 'It will heal with Nurse Joy quickly enough, that much hasn't changed at least. However, I don't think I can battle Brock again...sigh I was hoping to settle the score with Geodude, all that effort with Steel Wing wasted.'

"Hey, you can have the next..."

Ash paused for a moment, considering Misty's changes in this timeline, was her family even still in charge of Cerulean Gym, if there even was one?

Then the next gym leader that he thought of in Vermillion City would be even worse. With that thought came a horror filled image of Lt. Surge's Raichu destroying Pidgeotto rather literally with Thunderbolt.

He decided to finally finish by telling her, "You know, let's just play it by ear about your gym battle."

Ash returned her to her ball, where the damage she took would not cause her more pain.

Later in battle number 8...

"Wingull use Wing Attack!"

Misty's Wingull slammed its glowing wings into a crab like, pinkish red mushroom crab, who was knocked to the ground defeated.

"Paras, the Mushroom Pokémon. Paras is covered with mushrooms, which are actually slowly taking over the mind and body of the Paras, which is completed by its evolved Parasect state. Other Pokémon do not eat this evolutionary line, for doing so will infect them with the mushrooms. The result of this idiotic action in both Humans and Pokémon is the basis of PokéStar horror films. That means you Ash."

The Pokédex was again giving Ash not only information he never needed to know, but also having attitude.

Did it really think that he would eat strange mushrooms...from the back of a Pokémon?

Well maybe he could try offering some to Gary the next time he ran into him he thought maliciously, then have his grandpa Professor Oak screen him for a drug test.

He'd never do it, but it was oh so fun to imagine it as he grinned.

Still he managed to focus back on the task at hand, namely round 2, and another young trainer.

"Beedrill, go!" His opponent announced, letting loose the infamous giant bee of doom, its twin stingers dripping a poison from them that made the ground steam as it dripped down.

"Butterfree, I choose you!" Ash countered, his Butterfly battler coming out to combat its fellow final bug evolution.

"Beedrill, the Poison Bee Pokémon. Beedrill attack their enemies in swarms and sting them rapidly with their stingers. During the pre-Oak centuries, human attempts to exterminate Beedrill populations led to a decimation of weaker Beedrill, unintentionally accelerating biological battle evolution to allow for post sting survival and increasing human by Beedrill fatalities by 251%. This unit needs no more evidence that humans are flawed creatures..."

Ash just whacked the thing to shut it up even if it did have a point, Beedrill were near the top of the list of Pokémon you wouldn't want to make more aggressive or deadly.

"Begin!"

"Go Beedrill, use Twineedle!"

The Bug-type came flying at his first Pokémon caught, with barbs coated in poison.

"Time to try out that new move of yours, use Gust!"

Butterfree began flapping its wings rapidly, unleashing a powerful Gust attack that stopped the bee in its flight, and blew it back and caused it to crash into the ground.

Ash briefly was worried he might have injured the bug, but it got up pretty easily.

"Counter with Poison Sting," his opponent called out as the insect, standing up on the ground pointed its left stinger at Butterfree and let the purple barbs fly towards Butterfree.

"Dodge and use Tackle!"

Its wings still fine, Butterfree dodged the barbs and flew right into the bug.

"Harden!"

The carapace of the Beedrill shimmered briefly, causing Butterfree's Tackle to fizzle out and seem to do more to Butterfree (in a headache), than Beedrill.

"Free" 'Ow...did someone catch the number on that oak tree?'

Great his Pokémon had a thing for oak trees, that was just perfect. He seriously hoped Butterfree just had its mind seriously addled.

"Twineedle while it's distracted Beedrill!"

The bee held its purple tipped stingers up like a pair of swords and began rapidly stabbing them at Butterfree, who dodged the attacks, if in somewhat of a daze.

"Stop it with Confusion!"

Ash had not particularly wanted to use this move, if simply because they were still working on mastering it. This was a particular issue as, of the moves he had been working with his Pokémon to relearn, or in some cases, learn for the first time (Iron Tail and Quick Attack for Pikachu, Steel Wing for Pidgeotto and Gust for Butterfree), he had some idea of how they worked, though Steel Wing not to the same extent as it was a move that his Fletchling had known when he caught it and, due to the world ending, he hadn't the time to really grasp the basics of how it works or how you would go about teaching it.

However, it was the best choice at this point, considering that Twineedle could poison Butterfree even if he could use Harden as a defense.

Butterfree responded with glowing blue eyes, surrounding the large bee with a blue aura. The aura blinked on and off, the move not being completely mastered being a problem that Ash was quite aware of.

However, it gave Butterfree the time he needed to fly out of the way of the Twineedle, and end up behind Beedrill.

"Now, give it a Sleep Powder!" he commanded Butterfree.

A storm of shimmering powder was blown from Butterfree's wings, covering the outflanked insect and causing it to fall to the ground below, deep in sleep.

Luckily for Ash's morality (and concern about the differences in effects of battling possibly meaning it was now far less ethical to use flamethrower on a sleeping Pokémon), Beedrill's trainer was less of an ass.

"This is enough, you won!"

He returned his Beedrill and Ash his Butterfree, as the two foes walked up to one another, and shook hands.

Always right to be polite, after all...unless of course it was a member of a criminal organization trying to steal your Pokémon, but they usually tended to blast off somewhere at this point anyway.

The trainer on the other side of the tournament who saw his Pidgey blasted out of the sky by Staryu's Water Gun, however, was far less polite about it.

"So, you think he's going to let me go on to fight Brock?" Ash inquired to Misty after she had finished, who shrugged.

"Probably, aside for the fact that you're a Pokédex holder and thus he worships the ground you walk on," Misty commented which Ash still found that to be somewhat unnerving. "You've done well in your last two battles. You have a decent strategic mind and are concerned with the wellbeing on your Pokémon. With a lot of people, particularly in Kanto and Hoenn from what I've heard, you could be the next Cynthia when it comes to battling skills, but if you were an ass to your Pokémon, no one would give you a pass."

At least if it was visible.

Region talk again...Ash thought for a moment about how to phrase the question he wanted to ask before going for it, "I never really was that interested in politics, and neither was my mother. She often turned any political talk off on the television at home, so I might be a little clueless on what you mean by Kanto and Hoenn."

"Pokémon abuse laws first started being proposed forty years ago" Misty began. "However, some regions are more progressive on them than others. Hoenn was the first to pass them, and has some of the most comprehensive. Kanto is the next most liberal; the laws are somewhat newer, but just as comprehensive. On the other end of the spectrum, Johto has barely passed any such laws, it’s a rural and conservative place where Slowpoke tails are still treated as a delicacy, and the Orange Islands are only slightly better. Sinnoh is somewhere in between the two extremes. I don't know the exacts of the laws in Unova and Kalos, but I'm told they are generally akin to Kanto and Hoenn in that regard."

Ash thought on that. While the thought of anyone abusing Pokémon was horrid to him, he knew that it wasn't a universally held idea. While he had no idea why Hoenn would be the most friendly region (Then again, he had a hard time imagining any region being unfriendly to Pokémon), Ash did have to recall that the villainous teams of Hoenn, Team Aqua and Magma, weren't as bad as the other villainous teams he had encountered.

They were by no means good teams, but he had seen far worse deeds done by Teams' Rocket, Galactic and Plasma in the old timeline.

Of course, they still did attempt to control environmental altering Pokémon of mass destruction, so they were still evil, but perhaps just not as evil as Cyrus or Ghetsis.

Not that being less evil than those two was that hard. Though, it was possible that Ghetsis in this timeline was a benevolent orphanage operator who had donated his millionaire status to charity.

Not likely but still possible.

With those thoughts on his mind, Ash found himself up against a third opponent, who looked confident.

"Go, Spearow!"

The, agonizingly familiar bird Pokémon flew out of its ball, fluttering to the ground as Ash and Pikachu looked mildly upset; they had hoped to get a chance to test out quick attack's successful re-training, but still, payback was in order.

Ash motioned for Pikachu to jump off his shoulder, as the Spearow and its trainer both suddenly had looks of sheer terror.

With some degree of glee, he thought: this is going to be fun.

"Pikachu, Thundershock!"

ZAP

"Spearow is unable to battle, Pikachu is the winner!"

That was easy.

The other battle

Misty's Psyduck hadn't been planning on being used to battle, but he did manage to blast a Zubat out of the picture after it had used supersonic and given it a headache.

Some things had remained the same, and it would appear that Psyduck was just as dangerous as Pikachu in its own way.

Don coughed as the two remaining trainers; Ash and Misty, stood before him. Specifically, he coughed after Misty gave him a sharp look.

"When we began this exam, there were fifteen trainers who sought to get my permission to challenge Brock, so I had asked an additional trainer to come in to make it a simple 16, and save us all the headache of a misnumbered tournament. As her opponent has shown himself ready for a Gym battle in my eyes, and in part because she is glaring at me," the last part was muttered more to himself, "we shall conclude this exam with four trainers out of fifteen having shown themselves ready to face Brock, though technically five out of sixteen in all accounts."

A lot of annoyed commotion followed as the two other passing trainers joined him up on the stands, the noise preventing him from getting any sort of name identification, however informally in his head he noted them as 'Beedrill guy', 'Zubat guy' and 'Spearow guy'.

"Please train further, regardless of if you have passed or not, for the challenges to come. I'll fill the three passing trainers in on their appointments with Brock after I confirm it with Brock himself so your appointments can be made. Please note that, if you lose your gym battle, you will have to re-schedule on your own time."

Later that night, at the Pokémon Center

Pidgeotto had a cast on her wing, and would have it for at least a week.

That was the bad news, and it was hard to figure out who was taking it worse; the trainer who had put her out in a battle that could hurt her like that, or the bird who wasn't going to be able to fight for a while.

At least the Nurse Joy in charge of the Pokémon Center (Ash had been concerned that the Jennies and Joys would no longer be identical individuals. That would be...weird...and a different kind of weird than their general identicalness) didn't bear down on him for it.

She had actually praised his concern and promptness with her injury. Ash didn't know if he should blush at the praise, or pale at the idea that concern about your Pokémon was warranted of such praise.

Though the free food was quite a nice reward, particularly because they were always hungry, for both humans and Pokémon however they also had to eat next to a large tank in order to allow the feeding of all of Misty's Pokémon (In particular, her Goldeen and Horsea, which Ash had not expected her to have had so early).

"You did well today Ash," Misty told him with a smile, "You know, it's sometimes hard to actually believe you started out with Pokémon not even a month ago. Most rookie trainers lack the connection and understanding you have with Pokémon."

"Well, I went to a Pokémon Summer Camp to qualify for a Pokédex, so I managed to learn a thing or two," He admitted before blushing as he...was he even lying for that matter? For all he knew, that was the truth.

"So, you're using Butterfree and Pikachu in your gym battle, correct?" Misty inquired.

"Yep" Ash nodded. It was his only plan anyway, it wasn't like he was going to only bring a single Pokémon to a gym battle (Again...he had learned that lesson with Elesa).

"After you finish that battle, I happened to have done some fact checking, and remember how I said I was going to check some things while we were here?" she asked.

At Ash's positive nodding, she elaborated on it "I recall learning of a public library in Cameran Palace, a location that has a lengthy tradition of Bloodline users. Their legendary hero, Sir Aaron, was said to be one, and if there is any place we can figure out why your powers are different from mine, it would be there. Plus, it allows us both to take a detour around Cerulean City."

That caught the four fully returned individuals who had been previously eating (Ash, Pikachu, Butterfree and Pidgeotto), off guard. That was certainly...an unexpected request.

Cautiously, Ash inquired further, "But isn't there a Gym in Cerulean City? I could have sworn I had read it was filled with Water-types."

He gestured at Pikachu trying to write off his inquiry about Cerulean as a completely gym based question, with no possible context related to Misty's possibly no longer present genetic connection to the gym staff.

Misty looked grim as she asked, "Do you want my help Ash?"

Ash nodded without hesitation.

"Then we don't set foot in Cerulean City, at all," Misty declared and that was all she would elaborate on the subject.

Later that night.

Pikachu trotted alongside Ash as he took a late night stroll through town, trying to think.

Cameran Palace...and this Cerulean thing, what did they mean?

"Pika-Pi Chuuuu." 'Okay, how much are you willing to bet that aura has something to do with it'

Ash just stared at Pikachu as he pointed out, "You do know Aura isn't the answer to everything, right Pikachu? I actually did ask Riley about it on Iron Island, and he stated that if I wanted to learn Aura, I'd have to seclude myself away from civilization for a few years. As much as I'd love to hide out as some mountain hermit with you, Charizard, Bulbasaur, Squirtle, Snorlax and whoever else for a few years, I can't isolate myself like that. It's just not me."

However he'd no longer have to worry about washing himself so much even if it would earn him the nickname Ash Stinkum. On the other hand, he'd have to learn to feed himself.

"Chaa Pi-Chu." 'Yeah, but look at it this way Ash; you have strange powers, and Misty is directing you to the place that stated directly you already had strange powers. For all you know, you're going to have to learn to sense the living aura in everything, fight the dark side of aura on a daily basis and possibly have to go to some hidden castle school to learn it for seven years before rejoining a hidden aura world or something.'

Ash just stared at his walking companion as he remarked, "You do realize that this is neither Tatooine nor Hogwarts, right Pikachu?"

Pikachu just shrugged; he had seen the movies at Oak's lab, and liked them. He would have loved to meet Hagrid or R2-D2. R2 and he could even have electric shock wars.

However, as they discussed the question of how likely it was Sir Aaron, Lucario and destiny was going to be involved (More of Ash trying to figure out any possible alternative really), they unintentionally ran into a problem.

They ran out of road and found themselves in a place filled with fog.

"What the...damn it, it’s Johto all over again!" Ash stated in a fury. They were lost.

Deeply, utterly, lost.

"Pi?" 'Why is it all misty all of the sudden¡? When does Pewter have fog?'

Ash drew a Pokéball, but quickly de-activated it. It was Pidgeotto's ball, and she was not up to de-fogging anywhere.

Or, de-smokescreen for that matter. Hopefully Team Rocket was not around today, and he was not in the mood for them to pop up.

Thankfully, Team Rocket, having reported in to Giovanni that Ash had been training all day at the Battle Club were currently in a hotel with room service and a rented Breaking Bad DVD for the evening. They wouldn't be coming out for a while for obvious reasons.

Of course, Ash had no idea about what they were doing, so he had just the same urgency as if they were breathing down his neck (As they had done in the old timeline. Heck, the lack of them was getting to him a bit).

Thankfully, this was one of the few times in his journey he had two fliers on hand (And who would not scorch his face or just make things worse).

Ash quickly let loose his other Flying-type out, and his Butterfree fluttered up in front of him and Pikachu.

"Free?" 'You know Ash, I adore any moment to fly after having to spend time in a cocoon again, but this isn't exactly what I'd call ideal flying conditions. It’s all foggy.'

"Yeah, can you blow it away so we can at least figure out if we wandered all the way to Snowpoint City or not?"

"Free!?' 'I don't know Defog though.'

"Pi!" 'Did that ever stop any of us from blowing away Smokescreen from Weezing?!'

Butterfree couldn't figure out anything wrong about that logic, and commenced to blow with his wings with all the force he could, causing the fog to be blown away, just with a bit less flair and permanence than if the proper move had been used.

As the fog began to dissipate away, Ash began to see something faintly visible, which he began to squint at to figure out what it exactly was.

As soon as he could see it, he wished he couldn't.

Here lies Flint and Lola Harrison

Beloved Husband/Wife/Father/Mother

He was looking at a pair of graves...of Brock's parents.

It was so shocking that he willed his legs to get him as far away from it as possible, and they did...with a familiar white glow.

Pikachu and Butterfree just stared in shock as Ash Quick Attacked himself into a tree behind him.

It couldn't be...this wasn't supposed to happen...

He began to weep. At least in the original timeline Brock's dad had been around, but now...it appeared that Brock and all of his siblings were orphans, just how messed up was that?

Several awkward minutes later...

"...I killed Brock's parents..." Ash muttered for the tenth time as his two released Pokémon walked and fluttered alongside him.

"Free..." 'Should we focus more on the fact that Ash just did, apparently, another Pokémon technique that goes against what Misty said was possible.'

"Pi...Pika-Chu." 'No, let's focus on Ash and Brock's parents before we question Ash's ability to defy logic.'

"...I killed..."

"Pi!" Pikachu decided to take the tough road and just take a tough love approach and yell at Ash, "Cha Chu Pika-Chu cha!" 'You did not kill anyone!'

"Brock's parents are dead because I caused time..."

"Free." 'To restart after a crazed bluenette decided to break it. They'd have been dead if you hadn't done anything.'

"Cha." 'And it's not like you even know what exactly killed them.'

Ash would have continued this conversation, but they had managed to walk all the way back to the Pokémon Center, where Don George was waiting for them.

It wouldn't do to talk about time travel around someone who was quite out of the know after all.

"Oh, there you are champ in the making,'" Don greeted in a cheerful tone totally unaware of the somber mood that Ash was still in. "Glad to see you made it back, I have great news. You're first up for battling Brock, it's scheduled for tomorrow afternoon at 2:00, right after Brock is finished with his date with his girlfriend. I heard their getting pretty serious, heard a rumor he was browsing the local jewelry store for diamonds the other day. And to think they had met at SteelixCon just two years ago." The last part was Don muttering to himself.

It took the limited amount of tact Ash had (which was normally used for battle tactics, such as hiding the ace in the hole) not to outright express how...shocking that was. The idea of Brock having a girlfriend was just ludicrous, and against cosmic law.

Pikachu had no such restraint, and collapsed. Butterfree, having had less exposure to Brock's antics (Particularly when they got more desperate), just fluttered in place.

"Your Pikachu looks all tuckered out. You better make sure it gets some rest for tomorrow. Brock has nine younger siblings, and they will want to hug the poor thing. You better make sure he can run away from them," Don told him and with that jolly note, Don George walked away as the fainted Pikachu revived himself.

"Chu?" 'I had a nightmare that I just found out Brock had a girl...'

He looked at the astonished Ash.

"Ka" 'He has a girlfriend, doesn't he?'

Ash just nodded, still in shock about it himself.

"Free Butter Free" 'Well I suppose it shouldn't be a nightmare Pikachu, I think that's what humans do for some odd reason including Brock. Besides he was bound to get lucky sometime."

"Yeah, the 1000th time is the charm," Ash replied in the most conservative estimate for Brock's antics.

The next morning

Ash, Pidgeotto, Butterfree and Pikachu were sitting around their room in the Pokémon Center hotel, in part to discuss the Brock question, and in part to avoid accidentally encountering a showering Misty.

She had stated quite often during the trip through Viridian Forest she needed a shower. While she probably could do that whirlpool thing of hers as a shower, Ash didn't know if she could, plus there was that whole 'guy walks in on showering girl' routine that Misty probably was aware of.

Ash didn't trust his luck not to end up ruining his first companion's friendship in this new world by unintentionally seeing her naked even if his Pokémon didn't consider being seen naked a big deal as they were always naked.

"Caw." 'So, Brock has a girlfriend at last, and with his parent's...he is now the sole caretaker of his siblings, assuming the girlfriend doesn't live with him or something,' Pidgeotto surmised, 'So, what does this mean for possibly...'

"Pi Pika-chu Pikachu-Pi." 'Assuming we can actually fully restore his memories, which based on Misty isn't quite the case with people...can we really give him back any sort of memory at all?"

At Ash's alarmed look, Pikachu elaborated, "Pi Pika-Chu Cha-Cho." 'Look at it this way, let's say that we did try to fix his memories, say using my own shock therapy, and only a part of them came back. If he gets even a faint bit of his old memories back, he will want to help by his nature alone. What happens if he gets torn between his siblings and girlfriend/quite possibly fiance, and a feeling he needs to be saving the world?!'

Ash paled as he questioned, "What if...he hates me for causing his parents to die?"

Pikachu resisted the urge to shock him due to that being a legitimate concern.

"Free" 'Ash,' Butterfree said remorsefully, 'I fear that, for the good of Brock...he can't remember a thing.'

"Brock..." Ash sounded remorseful at the thought of having to abandon Brock.

Pidgeotto and Butterfree gave him sad looks as Pidgeotto said, "Caw." 'Ash, you once let Butterfree go for him to find love, and you let me go to protect those who could not protect themselves. You must let Brock go for these very reasons.'

A sad looking Ash nodded at their reasoning, but still, tears were visible from his face.

This stunk. No Brock with him on his journey...well he'd definitely miss him and not just because of his cooking.

Of course he had to think of food at a time like this, he chided himself.

"Free." 'So...when do we talk about Ash teaching himself Quick Attack?'

"Sure...do you think it's worth trying to figure out who he could possibly be dating?" Ash brought up the big question, and got no good responses.

2:00 PM The Pewter Gym

The stone battle arena that had been the host of Ash's first gym battle, his first lost battle and his first gym victory, was revisited for a battle that meant more to Ash than a simple gym battle ever did.

It was a battle Ash did not want to fight (A rare event indeed), yet Ash did not want to have to come back for another one. It was something he doubted he could repeat, or even gather the nerve for.

Ash didn't know if he should have been happy or depressed that nothing happened when he shook Brock's hand to start the match. No memories at all seemed to go back to Brock.

Even if that meant that Brock wouldn't get the emotional chaos as he struggled between his family and the world, it still was depressing his friend would never be coming back.

"Let's make this a good match, I am grateful that you could battle me so quickly." Ash managed to keep the sadness out of his voice as Brock smiled in a heart-aching familiar way.

"You actually seem to be a polite young fellow, so much nicer than the last three trainers I've fought," Brock admitted, "The two other Pokédex holders I ran into were...well asses."

He said the last part somewhat quietly as his siblings were in the stands watching the battle, alongside Misty and a few gym personnel and local people, including a disguised Team Rocket Trio among them (not that Ash could tell.)

"And the other one, another guy with a Pikachu, was not much of a talker at all."

Ash barely even registered what Brock said. He didn't put much thought into the other Pokédex user who was not Gary or the other Pikachu guy.

"However, I doubt you came for small talk."

"The official gym battle between the gym leader, Brock, and the challenger, Ash of Pallet Town, will now begin. Each trainer will use only two Pokémon, and the match will be over when either side is out of usable Pokémon. In addition, only the challenger may substitute his Pokémon. Trainers ready?" The next oldest sibling, Forrest, was refereeing as both trainers drew Pokéballs.

"Go, Geodude!"

"Butterfree, I choose you!"

The battle began as the animated stone with arms faced the giant butterfly, and while the Pokédex was rolling, it, perhaps sensing the mood, did not make a witty comment about Geodude.

"Geodude, start this off with Tackle!" Brock commanded his Pokémon.

'Squirtle use Hydro Pump!' Ash thought to himself. Unfortunately he did not have Squirtle yet so he supposed he would have to make do.

The stone being used its muscular arms to launch himself upward to the Bug-type, intent on knocking it down.

"Counter with Confusion!" Ash called, wanting to end this quickly as Butterfree's eyes glowed blue for just long enough to slam Geodude back down.

Brock gritted his teeth as he told his Pokémon, "Don't give up Geodude, use Rock Tomb!"

"Geo!" Geodude shouted as a large gray boulder began to form above its arms.

"Snare it up with String Shot before it can launch that attack!" Ash countered just as quickly as string flew from his first bug type, ensnaring the stone and binding it to the ground like a fun house, with four lengthy string segments going from the center of the stone into the ground, barely avoiding crushing Geodude.

"Impressive," Brock commended, "Glad to see a nice challenger who knows what he's doing, but we're not done, not by a long shot. Geodude, Rock Smash!"

Geodude's fist glowed reddish orange as it launched itself at Butterfree.

"Tackle!"

The quarter effective move clashed with the half effective move, as the two clashed again and again across the battlefield once, than twice, than a third time as the two seemed evenly matched due to stats and type.

"Stun Spore!"

"Mud Sport!"

Geodude launched itself into the air and impacted himself into the ground, sporting up a protective mud spurt that caught all the status powder in its tracks.

"Now, charge up a Rock Tomb while the mud protects you from String Shot!" Brock commanded as Geodude began to form the boulder from beneath the rising Mud Sport.

"Use Gust to blow that mud back to Geodude!"

Butterfree flew up into the sky as he let loose a powerful wind burst into the mud, rebounding it downwards and on top of Geodude.

"Dude!" Geodude stopped the Rock Tomb charging as it began to feel the effects of the spore.

"Oh no!" Brock shouted in shock.

"Now, use Confusion to send it into the wall" Ash shouted as Butterfree fluttered down in front of the paralyzed stone Pokémon with glowing blue eyes, causing Geodude to be surrounded by the glow and slammed into the wall, where it laid KO'd.

"Geodude is unable to battle, this round goes to Ash and Butterfree," Forrest sounded depressed, clearly not happy about the results as Brock returned his Geodude before turning to Ash.

"Using a flying attack to counter a Rock-type, in particular my defense I developed for Butterfree specifically? I must say Ash, you're quite clever. However, Boulder Badges don't just grow on trees, nor are they free to pluck as you wish. To win, you still have to defeat my second Pokémon, Onix!"

'Of course he did,' he realized grimly as he wished that Brock had chosen a Bonsly instead.

Pikachu could just make a face and the match would go to him.

Instead he could only stare with determination (and still some sadness) as the giant rock snake, no longer an evolved Steelix, rose up from the energy of Brock's Pokéball to stare them down.

"Begin!"

"Let's start this off with Screech!" Brock decided to get things going on a high note, literally speaking as a sonic blast flew out from Onix's mouth and straight at Butterfree.

"Hurry, dodge..."

It was too late, as Butterfree was caught in the sound blast and slammed down into the ground of the arena.

"Now, use Tackle!"

The great train that was Onix charged towards the downed Bug-type, who was still struggling back into the air from the force of the impact.

"Sleep Powder!" Ash called out as Butterfree managed to, with some cringing, let loose a few of the sleep causing spores.

"Onix, stop and use Screech again!" Onix ceased his charge attack as another sound tunnel flew from its mouth, blowing away the sleep powder and striking Butterfree with all the force needed to send him right into the air, from where he dropped like a lead balloon.

Thankfully Ash managed to run right into the battle and catch his falling Pokémon, not wanting another injured friend on his hands with the severity of Pidgeotto.

"Butterfree is now forfeited from the match, the winner is Onix," Forrest called as Brock nodded.

"Saving your Pokémon from a potentially severe injury is always the right thing to do, and I applaud you for it. While I could disqualify you for running onto the field like that, I do not need to, nor shall I. I only wish that the young man from Sinnoh had that same instinct."

Ash returned Butterfree to his ball, not registering that last part.

"Pikachu, it’s all up to you buddy..." He told his electric companion of many a year (in theory, considering how Ash couldn't recall how old he had been in Kalos) as his electric mouse burst onto the battle field.

To Brock's credit, he didn't even raise an eyebrow over the type issues.

"Begin!"

"Onix, let's finish this off with Screech!"

"Dodge with Quick Attack and get in close!"

The white outline around Pikachu sped him up enough to easily avoid the sound tunnel that had gotten Butterfree as the mouse approached the snake.

"Use Rock Throw!"

Stones shot out from Onix's body and flew towards Pikachu like missiles. Expertly, Pikachu dodged each and every one as he got up close and personal with Onix's body.

"Gutsy, but foolish. You can't beat Onix with Quick Attack, and Thundershock will have no effect what so..."

"Pikachu, use Iron Tail!"

"Wha!?" Brock said in alarm.

He grinned a bit at taking Brock by surprise like that.

Pikachu's tail turned to a steel like color as it began to swing it.

"Onix, quickly use Harden!"

A shimmer covered Onix's entire body just before the Iron Tail struck, dropping the damage it did to the powerful beast.

"So, we're going to have to force our way through is it? Fine, Pikachu, rapid Iron Tails!"

"Onix, use Bide!"

Ash only registered what Brock had called for as Onix began to glow a brownish white.

"Wait, Pikachu, stop and get out of there with Quick Attack!"

Pikachu did stop, but by the time it had, it had already delivered three Iron Tails, but responded just fast enough with a Quick Attack spring boarded from Onix's head.

"Now, let's end this, unleash the power of Bide!" Brock called out as the brown light all congealed in front of Onix's mouth as a huge burst of power flew from Onix and straight towards the retreating Pikachu.

"Block it with Thundershock!"

"Pika-CHU!"

Pikachu began to glow yellow as a powerful electric burst flew right into the oncoming Bide blast.

"You overestimate yourself if you think a simple attack can equal the power of three super effective moves..." Brock began before the two energies met, with the Bide briefly dominate before all the power was absorbed into, and fire with, the Thundershock straight into Onix.

The power from Thundershock didn't harm Onix at all, but the Bide did, as it got a face full of all the damage it had taken previously, times two.

This was too much for the rock snake, and it fell over, defeated in a huge smack to the ground.

"Impossible! It cannot be..." Brock said in complete surprise.

"Onix...is unable to battle," Forrest announced lamely, "The winner is Pikachu, and the battle, and the badge, go to Pikachu and Ash of Pallet Town."

The two old companions just stared.

"Pi-Pi." 'We beat Onix with electric attacks...again!?'

Ash, who had asked Butterfree and Pikachu to not mentally be commanded due to Ash finding it harder to hear them when he wasn't focusing on it (with his focus instead on the battle at hand), only just nodded in shock as Brock returned his Onix and walked towards Ash.

"Of the last three trainers to battle me, two of them began with type advantaged starter Pokémon, and the third was a tactician of impressive merit, who used similarly type-disadvantaged Pokémon. You, on the other hand Ash, think on your feet with such astonishing skill, I am inspired myself to learn from it." Brock mused as he reached into his pocket, and took out a badge in the shape of a gray octagon, as well as a USB drive of some sort.

"Take this Ash, the Boulder Badge is yours. You have more than earned it today, and I expect great things from you. If I don't see you in the Indigo Conference, I'm going to be disappointed. So, to help you along, I'll give you this" He noted the USB drive. "This is a TM, or Technical Manual. It contains the instructions for training most any move a Pokémon can learn, and which Pokémon can learn it. Gym Leaders and Breeders get these in the mail, so I have plenty to spare. You have to occasionally update it when someone manages to teach a new move to a Pokémon species, like the guy in Kalos who got Squirtles to use Aura Sphere, but it's pretty much up to date with everything you could need to know. You can plug it into your Pokédex I believe, so good luck out there. There are all kinds of trainers in the world Ash, and I can't wait to see what kind of trainer you turn out to be."

While Ash tried to be strong as he got the badge and TM, nodded to Brock in respect, and turned to leave to get Butterfree and Pikachu healed (plus to get ready to go to Cameran Palace with Misty), only a single thought remained to him, a thought that prevented him from doing his traditional victory pose (which somehow did not stand out as strange in this world by any means).

'Goodbye Brock...' Ash thought with a level of sadness that was alien to him.

Even if he wasn't depressed, he probably would not have noticed Team Rocket watching him, and then sneaking off to report to their boss he had just won a gym badge.

Mt. Moon

The shadowy caverns of this great mountain were famous for many things.

The Zubat swarms, the fossil deposits, the Zubat swarms, the many extra-terrestrial sightings, the Zubat swarms...the deposits the Zubat swarms made...

Yes, there were in fact a lot of Zubat in Mount Moon. However, Ash would not be running into them this time around.

"Pikachu, use Thundershock," An unknown voice shouted in the echoed confines of the cave as a burst of electricity struck into a Zubat swarm, blasting all of them away from a shaking mass beneath them.

The Zubat, upon being electrocuted, flew away en mass, as the shaking mass stopped.

This mass, when no longer covered in Zubat, was quite noticeable to be that of a female human, though not female in the same way as Misty, for this girl was far younger.

She looked to be only ten in fact.

The girl's clothes, formerly a yellow vest and a black undershirt and pants, were torn in several places from Zubat bites. Her pony tailed blond hair was in disarray from the attack, and a straw hat she had previously been wearing lay off her side, now utterly ruined with all sorts of holes and gashes.

She looked up at her savior in shock and wonder.

As for the identity of this still as yet unknown stranger, his face was veiled by shadows, with only his fiery eyes visible through the darkness; and a Pikachu quickly climbed up his shoulder, though not with the same familiarity and expertise that Ash's Pikachu had in doing the same such task.

The girl looked up at her savior, her brown eyes wide in awe and admiration; the little marks under her eyes making her look even more adorable as she did so.

Omake

Canon Relativity to the Reset Universe; Non Canon

Get an original idea!

CrossoverpairingLover studios

The four main characters of Cross studios; the blond haired, orange ninja Naruto, the bespectacled wizard Harry Potter, sea green eyed demigod Percy Jackson and Ash of Pallet Town were reading the latest story ideas to come down the pipe, all looking nauseous.

"Not again!" Ash yelled, slamming his paper to the table, not willing to look at it anymore.

"Really?" Percy remarked next, looking quite peeved as well.

"This has to be the third one this week," Harry added.

Naruto just stabbed his huge stack of paper with a kunai knife.

"What is with all these betrayal fic ideas?!" Ash complained, "It seems like nearly every story coming out into the market now a days involves everyone betraying me, including most of my Pokémon. Does the, at times admittedly disturbing idea of Pokéball based absolute loyalty mean anything to these writers?"

"I mean really, just because some new Son of Poseidon or Zeus or Ares or anyone really comes into Camp Half Blood and kills a monster doesn't mean everyone's going to admire him like the second coming," Percy agreed.

"At least you don't get thrown into Azkaban all the time," Harry sulked, "I'm tired of going to prison for something I didn't do."

"I get thrown into a literal hell far too often, does that count?" Percy offered, "I'd count House of Hades as that being literal, but I wasn't banished there by the gods, Annabeth and I fell into Tartarus, and I don't even want to see if that increased the amount of fics sending me down there or not."

"That might be canon for me with that Blood Prison thing...do the movies count for me? I mean, some of the Shippuden arcs are borderline canon ish, Utakata and the Three Tails..." Naruto offered.

"Canonicity or not, you got framed by a shape shifter. These fics seem to think all our friends are going to one day betray us all, and somehow lead us to turn into dark anti-heroes" Harry observed with a frown, "Do the fans really think so lowly of our friends?"

"Some do, but I think it’s more than that," Ash suggested, "The problem is that fanfiction writers do cliché stories far too often, and do them shallowly. Where once there might have been betrayal fics and ignored Uzumaki twin fics and Wrong Boy Who lived fics, people don't put the same effort into making them deep and semi plausible."

"So what, we send a request to ask fan fiction writers to be more unique?" Harry suggested.

"Fan Fiction and unique don't go that well together. Recall we're pretty much stolen ideas," Percy snarked.

"No, Harry's right. Fan fiction writers need to be more aware of what fics are out there and put more effort into avoiding copying other ideas, shallow or not. Hopefully if they do that, the author can actually find new stories that are not all the same old, dark idea done poorly," Naruto added.

"Like what?" Ash questioned, "Having betrayal fics where people turn on me because they were all paid to go with me by my Darth father Giovanni? As somewhat doable as that sounds, its possible for people to actually become real friends. Pokémon special pulled the false friends become real friends cliché off a few times last I checked, in the Diamond and Pearl chapter, and perhaps in the Black and White chapter, I'm not sure."

"Or, perhaps if they really want to write betrayal fics...you know, I actually have no clue where they'd be actually a good idea. I mean, I would say Star Wars and have Anakin be betrayed by the council, but that could also affect Padme, who the author sees as the holder of Anakin's sanity, particularly after Season 5..."

"You know, maybe some people just like dark and broody stories while the author is abnormal in his dislike of them. I mean, he is sort of crazy, just look at some of his ideas," Harry offered "There was Devil Luna a while ago, not sure where she got off too, he apparently thinks that that Teletoon/XD character Heliose is what happens when Hermione and me have a kid, and then gets raised by Voldemort and Bellatrix, and I've heard rumors of the alternate universe Darth Sidious just waiting to appear..."

"Who has spoken my name..."

A multi-layered, nightmare inducing voice surrounded the four as a dark mist surrounded them all. As Naruto formed a hand sign, Harry drew his wand, Percy his sword and Ash a Pokéball, a figure began walking towards them...a tall, eye stalked amphibious figure.

"...Now, Mesa shall smite you for it," the evil Jar Jar Binks who exists in the author's plot bunny farm spoke in a tone that overlayed his own with the voices of beings like Trigon, Darth Sidious, certain Megatrons and Thanos, as he drew a huge chakram that looked like a oversized version of something Axel would use, which ignited four red light sabers from each spike, as the billed creature let loose hell fire from its mouth, ending the omake on a epic level as clones and Pokémon swarmed him, while several spells flew in support with a huge tidal wave of water.

Chapter Text

Giovanni, Realgam Tower, Orre

To deal with others of the Criminal Underworld was risky at its best.

Giovanni was not the only criminal mastermind; no there were others in most regions. However, while they generally had their regions in which they tried to maintain exclusive influence, they had agents elsewhere.

After all, if Team Magma was to develop a lake destroying bomb, there were others who would want it. Team Galactic from Sinnoh had an odd desire to find the secrets of lakes, after all.

Giovanni had no idea why, something about a legend.

Team Rocket was not like the fanatics in other teams; they believed in profit. No prophecies, no destroying the world, just profit. Their technology was thus developed for money making purposes only.

However, sometimes their projects didn't quite pan out as Giovanni had hoped. Some devices meant for making money were, as had been originally envisioned, useless.

However, it wouldn't make do to just keep them in storage when you could sell it to another criminal organization for large profits, as opposed to waiting for some infiltrator to steal it and thus make no money back, or destroy it and get no return at all. Particularly when Giovanni couldn't quite understand why they'd want it.

"Oh, well aren't you early, Giovanni?"

The well-dressed man, accompanied by a protective force of six grunts flanking him, was approached by a young looking man dressed in a high collared lab coat with a large bang of hair zigzagging along the side of his head.

With his pointy glasses and nasty smirk, he seemed particularly malevolent.

Giovanni just glared at him as if totally unimpressed, so the man chuckled darkly, "No need to look so cross with me, I am Ein, Admin of Cipher's science division. I'm told you have something for us."

"Do you have the money?" Giovanni asked right up front.

He wasn't here to make small talk. There was no way that he was going to stay in Orre any longer than he had to. It was a miserable crime ridden hell hole, and it was hot.

And he was in a black suit.

His potential business client however did not seem to like his show of disdain however.

"Why, what do you take Cipher for, Giovanni? Cheap? Have you seen this construction project?" Ein questioned proudly as he extended his arms to emphasize the large, ivory tower, being built in the middle of the desert wastelands. "This tower costs more that the total worth of Pyrite Town and Agate Village combined, and it probably cost more than that fancy Cycling Road you Kantonians built. We have your money, don't worry."

An armored Cipher Gru...Peon, descended from the ceiling with a suitcase in hand, which the peon promptly handed to Ein, who opened it and revealed its contents to Giovanni.

"One million Dollars, as promised."

Giovanni eyed the money for a moment, before raising his hand. A Grunt in his entourage stepped forward, drawing a PDA type device that began to scan the money with a visible purple beam.

Ein rose an eyebrow in theatrical surprise, "You don't trust us?"

"Forgive me but if I trusted people, I'd be a dead man." Giovanni said darkly as the grunt seized and checked the results of the scans.

"It's all legit sir," the Grunt confirmed for Giovanni as he gestured for another grunt to come forward with a suitcase of their own, which the grunt opened and presented to Ein; a gauntlet type object of a shiny metallic coloring, which Giovanni promptly picked up and placed on his own arm.

"The Duel Anchor," Giovanni demonstrated as he pointed the device at the scanner Grunt and a red energy rope rapidly flew from the gauntlet and bound itself to the grunt's left arm. The rope quickly became invisible as Giovanni yanked the arm with the gauntlet, which promptly caused the grunt to mimic the action, though not of his own will, however.

But as if the rope was still attached to him.

"With this device, one can bind yourself to another for as long as the user wishes. While I can deactivate this device at any time, the victim cannot."

It was originally meant to be a long distance device for opening doors, even sealed vault doors via enhanced force, however it was too weak to do so, and attempts to tinker with the prototype to allow it to do so had ultimately failed.

Originally it was called the Energy Rope, but was given the designation, 'Duel Anchor' by an aspiring scientist in the R&D division who believed Team Rocket could benefit from forcing people to battle them via the anchor.

However, as most Grunts used weaker Pokémon and were more suited to intimidation than battle, this would be in fact counter-productive for Team Rocket's ability to terrify the masses, and for virtually all Grunts in general.

What Cipher wanted it for, Giovanni couldn't care less. There was no way for it to be used to cause him problems down the road. He only continued to call it by the term Duel Anchor because it sounded better for the buying Cipher fools.

"Excellent," Ein said in an impressed tone of voice as Giovanni de-activated the device and presented it to the Cipher Admin, with the money case and device rapidly changing hands, "We should be this cooperative with each other more often."

"Don't hold your breath," Giovanni commented to the obviously fibbing scientist, "Trades like this are merely exceptions that prove the rule."

With that, Giovanni was surrounded by his grunts as he turned to leave the unfinished tower.

As the Rocket's left, content with the exchange, Ein couldn't help but smirk.

One of the Snag Machine's most crucial and difficult to create parts was now theirs.

'Foolish Team Rocket. You just signed the world over to Team Cipher,' Ein gloated internally.

North of Pewter City

Misty absently played with the small stone she'd picked up, attempting to grind it into powder as she reflected on her life.

She wasn't good enough, they always said so.

She was the runt little sister of the Sensational Sisters.

She was the unplanned sibling, with no ability to sing, to dance, or to act.

Thus she was always left behind when her parents took her sisters to child beauty pageants, singing practice, and shopping trips for the finest clothes, toys and food.

Left with nothing but hand me downs, a semi-neglected water type gym and her own tears, as an image of herself at five years old came to her mind, sitting on the side of a tank, crying her eyes out as multiple Goldeen, Magikarp, Seaking and Horsea swam up around where she was crying, as if wanting to cheer her up somehow.

To own a gym was a dream that many would kill for. It was a job that easily earned enough, even after necessary expenses, to easily feed a family of six (her parents, sisters, and herself). If you had an obscenely large family (such as Brock's family), of course, you may need to supplement the income with a second job, and many gym leaders did this anyway, particularly in Unova, where there was a paranoia about the government funding things.

Yet, her parent's didn't really care. It had been the dream child of her grandmother, who had two sons around the beginning of the modern age of Oak, or forty years ago.

One son ended up moving far away to further study Water-type Pokémon, and apparently cooking. She had no idea what that side of the family was like regardless, as they never returned to Kanto and the two brothers never really got along.

The other son, the one who stayed, her father, wasn't as passionate about being a gym leader. He only kept it open to get the money for it and to fund the extravagant lifestyle of 5/6ths of his family.

And the lack of focus was quite evident if you looked for it. The tanks outside of the 'show tanks' where their parents would host shows with Water Pokémon performing jumps, and eventually her sisters once they got older, were murky, the walls that visitors didn't walk by were stained and fading and, perhaps more noticeably, the gym's winning percentage was one of the lowest in Kanto.

And how low could it go before the PIA came in and shut it down?

Another memory of her past came to mind.

"Staryu, use Swift and Water Gun!"

A once again younger version of herself, a ten-ish year old tomboy red head with suspender shorts and a yellow tang top (AKA, the iconic Misty), was now battling in a Battle Club in Cerulean City, with her Staryu and future Starmie simultaneously striking out an opponent's Gloom and Growlithe, as a Nurse Joy and Don George looked on.

It was as Misty left the battle arena some time later, however, now appearing closer to her current age, that she heard some interesting things.

"Her talent is impressive, isn't it. That's her 100th win with her two Staryu, and overall her winning percentage is roughly 87%, and with the amount of grass and electric types trainers have on them for the gym that is quite remarkable," Don boasted to the Joy, who nodded in reply. Misty, out of sight behind a wall, listened in interest as they talked about her.

"Yes, it is quite obvious that the talent of the Waterflower family, even if it skipped a generation, seems to have finally made itself apparent in her in full force. If she was to become the Gym Leader, I would be able to convince my bosses not to revoke the Gym. With the current leader in poor health and the recent death of his wife, they are somewhat lenient, but when he eventually passes..."

"We all know that the 'Sensational Sisters' are actors first, and not even trainers second," George agreed, "They don't even have what little talent their father has, though I feel it is all too likely he would leave them the gym and disinherit the poor girl in his will."

"Such a shame...even if that stage parent duo only tolerate having her around because the negative publicity from abandoning or killing Misty would ruin everything they built for her sisters, even they know that if Misty was to ever challenge her sisters for leadership of the gym, she'd win even if she was using a Magikarp. Hell, the only reason she hasn't challenged for it already is because it is forbidden to challenge a gym leader on his death bed..."

Her daydreaming stopped when Psyduck poked her in the forehead.

Misty's eyes shot open as the duck stared right at her, not sure if she should be annoyed at him for bringing her back to reality, or glad he did.

At any rate the stone she had been playing with had evidently already broken into tiny fragments as she'd clasped it so tightly after reliving such painful memories.

"Psy." 'Feed me human.'

Misty rolled her eyes at Psyduck's begging, however she did notice a most heartwarming sight.

Ash was feeding his three Pokémon; Pikachu, Butterfree and Pidgeotto, while applying the Super Potions to Pidgeotto that Nurse Joy had supplied him with to treat her injured wing for the seven day period she was going to be out of commission.

In particular, she noticed how he was retying the bandages onto her wing. There was just...something about how the normally fast paced rookie took so much care to carefully re-apply them to his injured Pokémon that was just so...appealing to her.

How it just seemed to show how much he cared...even with Pokémon he hadn't even really had that long.

Even still his Pokémon seemed to love him for his devotion to them, in particular Pikachu, but...she couldn't help but feel he cared about her too.

She was sure it was platonic, but it was still admittedly...rather nice.

No one besides her own Pokémon had ever seemed to care about her. Not her sisters, not her parents, no one. All she had realized from a very early age that she was on her own, that if she was to succeed she'd have to do so herself, so to have another person care about her was really powerful on her.

So she couldn't deny that she felt somehow attracted to him no matter in what way he was showing he cared both to her and to his own Pokémon.

It didn't hurt that he was good looking either...

"Duck duck duck." 'If you’re planning on mating with Ash, please feed me first,' Psyduck deadpanned as Misty blushed faster than a Speed Boosting Ninjask as she looked away.

She scolded herself at having given herself away like that, fortunate only that it had been Psyduck and not Ash to notice he had been staring at him.

However that annoyance with herself also transferred a bit to Psyduck as she told him, very seriously.

"For that, you're going to be fed last."

"Duck!" 'Why!?'

Misty didn't dignify him with a response.

One Feeding time later, on the road to Rota

"You did what!?" Misty yelled incredulously as she, Ash and Psyduck walked along the road to Cameran Palace, the duck eating from a can of Pokémon Food as they went along.

Ash shrugged as if it was no big deal as he admitted, "I apparently taught myself Quick Attack while training Pikachu."

Misty just shook her head as she claimed, "Do you have a genetic disposition to doing the impossible or something?"

"Pi." 'Yes.'

Ash ignored Pikachu there before telling her, "So, is it normal to learn moves like that? I mean, I probably did only use Quick Attack because I had been training with Pikachu for it with Don George..."

Misty nodded as she observed, "That's perhaps the first normal thing about you. I mean, I learned Whirlpool and Dive from my Horsea, and Surf and Waterfall from Starmie..."

She paused a moment before inquiring, "Say, can Pikachu learn Counter?"

Ash stopped and took out his Pokédex, curious about that himself now.

"Pikachu is an electric mouse Pokémon native to the Kanto Region, famous for being used in the past by several legendary trainers, including Eagun of Orre. Pikachu have been taught a wide variety of moves, including Rock Smash, Focus Punch, Grass Knot, Zap Cannon, Nuzzle, Rollout, Mega Punch, Electro Ball, Thunderbolt, Iron Tail, and their line's own unique move, Volt Tackle. Rumors of Pikachu using moves such as Surf, Fly and Counter are the results of Pikachu spending an inhumane amount of time in the ocean, having balloons tied to them and from translation errors when texts were shipped from Kanto to Unova. Drugs may have also been involved."

He was rather hoping that it wasn't drugs that had allowed him to learn Counter, or his mom would have killed him. Though as far as he could remember, he had never used.

Misty had a look on her face as if she had just asked a pointless question, but thankfully this pointless question was the first thing that they heard as suddenly some sadly all too familiar individuals made their presence known to them.

Who are they you ask...well if you're asking that question you must not have ever seen a popular anime series.

"Prepare for trouble, the actual way to go is to the left."

"Make it double, do you want our death?"

Misty and Ash immediately stopped talking as the trio made their return; though Ash had to admit he was a bit relieved to finally see the good old Team Rocket. As pathetic as they were, it was just far too unnatural to not have them around.

Their new theme song was definitely a lot worse though. Perhaps if they spent more time on song writing and less on trying and failing to steal Pokémon they might actually come up with something good.

"To protect ourselves from detouring tots!"

"To prevent us three from getting that most unpleasant of shots."

"To avoid the problems of different laws!"

"To protect our favorite cat from having to touch the stars with his paws!"

"Jessie!"

"James!"

"Team Rocket tells people to go back to somewhere safe for us at the speed of light."

"If you won't, we can make you white out at the end of this fight!"

"Meowth that's right!"

As the custom motto ended, the two just stared at them in more confusion than usual.

"You guys make even less sense than last time, but you're not taking Pikachu regardless," Ash declared as Pikachu's cheeks sparked and James visibly looked worried.

"Oh, we're not here to fight, we're here to ask you two to go back on Route 3 and go through Mt. Moon and onto Cerulean City like good little boys and girls!" James suggested as he pointed the other way.

The two just stared at him in confusion.

"Oh come on, what trainer doesn't want to catch a Clefairy, and they are found in so few places, among them Mount Moon! Nice, safe, Kanto-controlled Mt. Moon."

For some reason James was sounding like a used car salesman here...and not a very good one he might add.

"...I can't say that a Clefairy would do much for me," Ash admitted. While he would train any Pokémon who offered itself up to join him, he generally preferred fast and hard hitters. Clefairy played itself to a different style.

Plus, with how the world changed, for all he knew Clefairy would abduct and probe him. If so he rather hoped Gary was traveling through Mt. Moon right about now.

"Clefairy, the Fairy Pokémon. Clefairy are generally associated with mountain ranges prone to meteor activity. It is said that Clefairy rarely show themselves to humans, however contrary to popular opinion Clefairy are not extra-terrestrial in origin, and are fact biologically related to Jigglypuff. The only Pokémon known or believed to be from different worlds are Psychic types. As Professor Oak has not had a Clefairy or one of its evolutionary family in his lab, he would appreciate it, but recognizes that asking you to drive yourself insane by looking for a Clefairy is counter productive," the Pokédex absently noted.

"Okay then, what about a Paras? Zubat? Geodude..." James suggested.

"What the hell are you guys up to anyway!?" Misty finally decided in order to get them off their Mount Moon strangeness.

Of course Misty didn't know Team Rocket well enough to know that they were just weird all the time and they didn't need moon craziness to act that way.

"We are begging you not to go into Rotan territory; we can't bribe our way out of being executed for being members of a terrorist organization there. So, please just go the other way and let us stalk you safely!"

"James!" Jessie snapped at him.

"..." Misty just stared at them incredulously.

'Note to self, buy a retirement home in Rota,' Ash decided. "If you're after my Pikachu, you have another thing coming."

After all, why else would they be stalking him?

The trio exchanged a series of covert looks.

"Yes yes, we want your Pikachu to give to our boss for money, fame and his everlasting gratitude," Meowth lied, glad the kid had given them an excuse (Though they had no idea why the boss wanted them to stalk him anyway). The cat promptly drew his claws and demanded "now, let's say you hand it..."

"Duck Psy!" 'You three are giving me a headache!'

The trio glowed blue as Psyduck's hidden power was unleashed as they were promptly sent flying into the sky.

"Looks like Team Rocket is blasting off most unusually, again!"

Twinkle

"Duck psy." 'That was fun.'

"Why is my life always going to be strange," Ash had to ask himself as the annoying threesome was blown away unceremoniously.

"...Some people are just like that Ash, some people..." Misty shook her head in amusement, "but hey, some people like lives that are interesting, though they often aren't the ones who live them."

A few days later

As the border between Kanto and Rota got closer, and easily just a day away, the two trainers and the nine Pokémon with them were having lunch.

'Peck, peck, peck' 'Aerial Ace...' Pidgeotto liked the sound of that move as she pecked at her bowl of Pokémon Food as Pikachu described the move and its many users of the future Ketchum team (Swellow, Staraptor, Quilava, Unfezant, and Krookodile). 'Well, at least it's something to look forward to.'

While Pidgeotto was expressing interest in a future move, Ash and Misty found themselves at an impasse.

"A month of rice balls my ass," a starving Misty complained with an equally hungry Ash as they found themselves down to one rice ball, "it hasn't even been a week since Pewter City!"

The Rice Balls were the bulk of their food supply for this trip; having devoured the rest in the days previous, along with the rest of the rice balls.

"I'm suddenly realizing why people called my mother's food bill 'abnormally large,'" Ash recalled some womanly gossip he had overheard as a child.

It was fortunate that no one had really connected appetite and metabolism to being a bloodliner, if not just because that would result in the death of most teenage males by mistaken identity and quite possibly cause a lot of problems down the road for humanity as a whole.

"So...split it?" Ash suggested for the most humane solution for all involved, though this was quickly rendered a mute option due to what happened next.

"Ai-Aipom!"

A large, yellowish-white gloved hand connected to a long purple tail shot out of the tree and grabbed the sole remaining rice ball, before yanking it back up into a large tree.

The two teenagers stared up in horror as the rice ball found itself in the possession of a purple monkey Pokémon.

"Aipom!" It cheered as it began to take bites out of the rice ball.

"You...you...you thief!" Misty snarled as she began to form a Whirlpool attack, "Give me back my food!"

The Aipom merely grinned cheekily at Misty as if taunting her even though she tossed the Whirlpool at her. It merely hopped to another tree as if totally unconcerned as it grinned back at Misty again and took another bite of the rice ball, almost like it was saying, "Nah nah, you can't catch me."

Misty obviously didn't like that very much at being messed with and as she charged up a Whirlpool again, Ash decided to see if direct telepathy was something he could do, 'Pikachu...'

It apparently was something he could do, as Pikachu responded by turning his head towards him and mentally responded, 'Yes?'

However the response sounded like it was on a bad radio channel so while he could still hear Pikachu, it was distorted and uneven.

Ash decided to himself that he would not do this that often, seeing as hearing his Pokémon respond to his speech was much simpler. Though when Misty was on a rampage just in front of him, he couldn't really say what he was wondering out loud.

'...Is that our Aipom that Misty's trying to kill in a very May like rampage of food based fury?'

As Misty destroyed the next tree and Aipom calmly hopped to another tree as if it was merely playing, Pikachu seemed to look a tad too interested in watching Aipom.

'Yep. I'd know that ass of hers anywhere...'

Ash just stared blankly at Pikachu, who grinned as he admitted 'what, I was very popular among the lady Pokémon we've traveled with who shared egg groups with me.'

“Shared egg groups with you?” Ash didn’t realize he said that out loud until the Pokédex blared out.

"Pikachu is in the Field and Fairy egg group. Pokémon that are in these groups include Buneary, Snivy, Skitty, Fennekin, Clefairy, Jigglypuff, Roselia, Sealeo, Arbok, Emboar, Hippowdon..."

Ash whacked the Pokédex in his pocket to shut it up and hopefully get the resulting images out of his head. He so did not need that right now...or ever.

'Okay...filing that away in the 'things I really never needed to ever know about' category, why is she suddenly causing problems now, when we didn't even run into her until the Battle Frontier, and more specifically the Kanto Grand Festival? Don George...sort of makes sense I guess, considering the Battle Clubs were well established, but her?'

'Time travel makes everything strange,' Pikachu offered up his two cents about the confusion.

'Er, do you think that catching Aipom this early will result in the destruction of time again...I mean none of us have any idea how this thing works and all...' Ash was also partially terrified that Misty, now having destroyed her sixth tree in her food rampage, might do something if she caught Aipom right now (with Aipom unable to avoid it).

"Aipom, the Long Tail Pokémon. Aipom are a social species who live in groups known as troops in forests both tropical and temperate. Aipom breed fast due to their tendency to be killed by predators, which is in part why so few Ambipom have been recorded out of captivity. Aipom who are alone are generally lucky if they survive for a week,” the Pokédex added in its two cents to this debate.

"Pika" 'Well, better to take a chance with Misty then with Mother Nature,' Pikachu claimed as he had decided to go back to the regular communication style for its efficiency, and also as a subtle message for Ash.

A message that, for once, Ash picked up.

"Okay, Butterfree use String Shot to grab Aipom and drag it this way!" Ash called as both Pikachu and Butterfree stared at him in confusion, before Butterfree did as commanded, shooting a thread of string that caught Aipom as she was jumping from tree to tree.

"Ai!?"

"Hey!" Misty, having just broken a ninth tree, complained to Ash as he had her prey dragged over to him, "That food snatcher is mine!"

"I think, for the sake of both this forest and this Aipom, we should put this whole thing down quickly." Ash pointed at Aipom. "Butterfree, Sleep Powder!"

The blue dust quickly covered the monkey, who collapsed into a sleeping heap, her half eaten rice ball still in her large hand tail, as Ash drew a Pokéball and tossed it, though not before Misty grabbed the rice ball and ate it.

Ash was briefly going to argue, but it was too late for that, and she would probably argue that having a new Pokémon was worth half a meal. Plus, getting into an argument with Misty would probably make them hungrier.

"Pokémon capture registered to system. Pokémon, Aipom. Gender, female. Ability, Run Away. Moves; Scratch, Swift, Power-Up Punch, Astonish. Data on this Aipom specimen being sent to data base as this unit vocally announces this; 5%, 6%, 7%..."

Ash removed the Pokédex from his pocket and grumbled, "Why do you feel the need to do that?"

"This unit is complicated, 15%, 16%, 17%..."

Ash had no idea why his Pokédex in this timeline seemed to have a personality, but he couldn't help but worry about it.

Wasn't that how 'robots take over the world' stories started?

A few hours later

In the end, it really didn't matter who ate the remains of the rice ball, the two were still incredibly hungry, and Pokémon Food did not make good trail mix.

Grumble

"...Rota is just a few hours ahead..." Misty groaned as the starving duo continued on, "We can make it...and that Pokédex of yours can pay for an all you can buffet."

Grumble

"Please... don't talk about...food," Ash mumbled deliriously as their stomachs kept alternating in grumbling.

Grumble

'I am so glad that my species electric sacks are lethal to human consumption,' Pikachu morbidly joked to himself, walking behind Ash and Misty to give Ash a slight break on the whole 'weak from hunger' thing.

Grumble

However, as the two starving teenagers and moderately concerned Pikachu continued to walk forward, they missed seeing what marked the exact border between Rota and Kanto.

A ring of green crystal-like roots from the Tree of Beginning, which flashed as Ash passed them by.

Meanwhile, in Cameron Palace

The crystals in the throne room of the Duchy of Rota glowed a vibrant color, shocking the two inhabitants of the room at this time; a young and beautiful blond woman sitting on a throne and dressed in a purple dress, and a gray haired maid.

"Oh my..." The maid said in astonishment as the light illuminated the throne room, and every other crystal in the kingdom. "I have never seen something like this before..."

"It's true then..." the queen lady on the throne said in utter shock, as if she had just met a mythical or legendary being.

"What? What is true, Lady Ilene?" the maid inquired, "Please tell me this has nothing to do with that Nostradamus person?"

"An heir has come," Lady Ilene declared solemnly.

Chapter Text

Cerulean City, on route from the 'Gym' to the Pokémon Center.

Gary had went into the Cerulean Gym with 4 of his most powerful Pokémon; his starter Squirtle, his hyper fang packing Rattata, speedy Pidgeotto that had been his first catch as a Pidgey, and his recently captured Abra...and found himself with no losses and a new gym badge.

Those 'Sensational Sisters' put up a worse fight than Brock; and he was using Pokémon with a quadruple weakness to his Squirtle.

He wasn't even sure he even needed to go to the Pokémon Center after that, and he had heard about this 'Nugget Bridge' place where trainers gathered...that might actually be a challenge.

As it turned out, it was more than that, with the previous victor of the gym having already defeated it.

"Charmeleon, finish this with Rock Tomb!"

The dark red, upright lizard struck his flying type with a barrage of stones, knocking it out.

"Clefairy, Sing!"

All around the pink fairy Pokémon, his yellow and brown Abra was teleporting around, but even with this trick wasn't quite enough as the giant glowing musical notes floated out and impacted the Psychic-type, causing it to fall to the ground, asleep.

"Now, end it with Double-Slap!"

"Clefairy!" One slap to his sleeping Psychic-type.

"Clefairy!" Two slaps.

"Clefairy!" Three slaps.

"Clefairy!" The fourth slap ended his Abra's battle.

"Rattata, use Hyper Fang!" He had called to his purple rodent as it charged at a Pikachu with extended and solid white fangs.

"Block with Thunder Punch!" The Pikachu had covered its right wrist with its left paw, and thrust out said left paw. This caused a yellow ball of electricity to form over said right limb, which impacted into the rat Pokémon's stomach just before it could strike the mouse Pokémon.

Gary could only watch in shock as his Rattata flew through the air and dropped to the ground in yet another K.O, as he found himself on his last hope.

"Squirtle, Water Gun!"

His starter fired the water blast towards the Pikachu, who vanished via a Quick Attack and smashed into his blue turtle Pokémon.

"Thundershock."

ZAP

A burst of electricity struck his first Pokémon, and last hope, at close range and pretty much sizzled him.

As Gary dropped to his knees before his defeated Squirtle, he absently noticed a little girl dressed in a yellow pop up dress who said very enthusiastically:

"Red, that was awesome! You totally kicked his butt!"

Gary forced himself back to his feet, returned Squirtle, and just stared at the trainer who had defeated him, once again asking hoarsely, "Who...who the hell are you!"

"He's Red!" the little girl shouted at him smugly.

"I was asking him, not his cheerleader brat" Gary snorted. Seriously, who went around with their own personal cheerleader? You would have to have a serious ego, and a lack of understanding of reality, to get away with that.

"Why should I bother saying anything when Yellow will do the talking for me?" The identified Red spoke in a controlled tone of voice, as if worried the mere act of him talking could have some sort of danger resulting from it.

As the little girl nodded, she continued explaining, "Red is going to be a Pokémon Master...he's the best trainer I've ever seen. He's going to be a Pokémon Master, a Champion, and he'll leave you so far behind you won't even be left in his dust!"

Gary felt annoyed. The way said little girl went on and on about things reminded him, unpleasantly, of a certain idiot from back home in Pallet Town. She even had the same...whatever those marks were on her face.

"You can't become a Pokémon Master without a full team of Pokémon. I've captured over forty dif..."

"Yeah, and Red's are all better than yours."

Gary felt a growing desire to strangle her little neck, though a fiery glare from the underside of Red's hat stopped him before he could do so.

"Well, does it really matter if you beat me here?" Gary questioned, trying to win back his pride. "You beat the Pewter and Cerulean Gyms too, so I'm taking it you're planning to compete in the Indigo conference? Well, I guess that means I get a chance to utterly humiliate you in front of a national stage then."

Red however ignored him and silently turned and walked away from Gary with Yellow sticking his tongue at him as the two walked up the bridge, perhaps curious about catching a Pokémon on the northern routes.

Gary after noticing their utter indifference to his claims just stalked over to the Pokémon center, fuming.


 

Rota

Ash and Misty didn't even get to the closest fast food place before they were surrounded by armed guards.

No, that's not a just description...they actually got within sight of a Subway before a group of armed guards burst out of an armored truck on the side of the road, surrounded them and pointed (hopefully) ceremonial spears at them, dressed somewhat akin to Sir Aaron's garb, though lacking in capes, broad hats, gloves and in general looking more modern, though the influence was still quite noticeable to anyone familiar with Sir Aaron (In one timeline anyway, for all Ash knew the guy ran around in a speedo and had wings on his feet this time around).

"You are coming with us," one of the guards told them in very serious tone as Pikachu ran over to the trio, and sparked his cheeks threateningly, until a spear was pointed at him as well.

"Can't we at least eat first?" Misty complained as her stomach loudly growled. In fact, it growled loud enough that a few of the guards looked nervously around, as if they expected something big (like a Rhydon or Onix) to suddenly appear and eat them, and Pikachu quickly darted behind Ash's leg away from the hungry female.

"Er, captain..." said one of the guards who was a tad terrified of having to listen to such hungry growls all the way to the castle, "Should we feed them first?"

"The Duchess's orders were to have these two brought to her at once, and under no circumstances are we to be delayed in this matter," a guard who was probably the guy in charge told the terrified guard seriously, "since we were not told to use force to bring them in-“

"This isn't force?!" Misty rightfully shouted at this remark.

"They are not criminals, so it is likely they will be fed there," the head guard finished.

"Er, why does the Duchess want to see us?" Ash inquired, assuming the Duchess was Lady Ilene from his old timeline.

"Only she and the great Lord Helix knows boy," the head guard told him gruffly as he and his men escorted the two bloodliners by spear point into the armored car.

"Great lord what?" Ash muttered to himself in confusion as they were 'seated for a pleasant drive'.


 

Inside Cameran Palace

The good news was that they were in fact given food once they were in the palace.

Bad news...they still had absolutely no idea why they had been brought in by spear point like that.

And now, they were alone in the throne room with just Lady Ilene (Or Duchess Ilene perhaps?), her ever present maid, and a large painting of Sir Aaron on his Pidgeot, though this paining did in fact have Lucario in it, so that was either a good sign (Lucario being a recognized hero/ he was not 'betrayed' by Sir Aaron, etc), or a bad sign (Lucario was dead just the same as Aaron).

He'd probably find it out quickly, of course. Things always seemed to be that way with him.

It was, convenient, if at times weird.

"I apologize for the...exact interpretation of my orders," Ilene began, "it would appear that I could have phrased their orders better."

She stood from her throne and was handed a familiar staff from the maid.

The staff of Sir Aaron/ Lucario's timeline 1 prison.

She pointed the staff, first at Misty, then at Ash, at which point the staff began to glow a rich blue that filled the entire room with light, in a manner similar to the color of an aura.

"So, you are the one, I just wanted to be sure first," she stated to Ash, who looked at her in confusion. "After all, it is a monumental day when, after thousands of years, an heir of Sir Aaron has returned to Rota."

After stating this, the Queen and maid both bowed to Ash, greatly startling him at the sign of such respect (From such a high ranked figure as a Duchess), and began walking down from the raised throne.

"Come, there is much to show you, and much to discuss."


 

A walk later

'Yep...I knew it.' Ash saw the answer coming a hundred miles away...

Of course, somehow it would tie back to Aaron and his 'similar aura', thus making him his ancestor.

Or, considering Ash still couldn't clearly remember a lot of the timeline, for all he knew Aaron was his father due to time travel, or a transdimensional blue Magikarp, or some other crazy thing like that.

With Celebi and Dialga around, it wasn't even impossible.

Incredibly unlikely, unless Ash was some sort of Pokessiah, but not impossible.

However, Ash still had no real idea what Ilene was up to.

As his memories were of the last time, the events had been basically winning the battle tournament, dancing in the ballroom, releasing Lucario, around which had Pikachu being kidnapped by Mew, then going to the tree of beginning, where they found Pikachu, after which they ended up being eaten by the tree of beginning, which was thankfully followed by the tree spitting him and his friends (and Team Rocket) out, said tree going promptly into shock, which was only cured by Lucario giving up his life force to restore it. After that, they returned to the Palace and shortly after that, they were back on the road to the Battle Arena.

Ash would prefer not to have to go face to face with guard legendary golems at this point in time, nor did he desire Lucario to die again, so hopefully it wouldn't go exactly as it had in round 1.

Though, considering that Ash had no idea what could be going on instead, his mind couldn't help wander.

Was he going to be fitted with some ancestral ring of Aaron? Did he have to use his blood to activate a seal of some sort? Was he going to have to construct a blade from Rotan crystal...

"Here we are."

Lady Ilene and her maid had stopped as the hallway had transitioned into a large room, a room that took the breath away from both Ash and Misty.

It was a library...a gigantic, immense library that was larger than anything that Ash had seen in two entire timelines. No professor, researcher or obsessive collector had amassed such a volume of books; Ash managed to count to 153 book cases that seemed to stretch to the roof easily higher than his Snorlax was standing up (while standing on a pile of three other Snorlax's sleeping on each other) before his head couldn't handle their height anymore.

Extensive walls of computers lined tables throughout the room, rows of scrolls were seemingly imbedded into every wall, and, as with most of Rota, crystals seemed to be everywhere.

In fact, there were three particularly large crystals in the ceiling that were larger than at least five of his Tauros lined up tail end to tail end, fully straightened out, that formed a triangle of sorts.

"Welcome to the Rotan royal library, the third largest library in the world," Ilene stated proudly. "It has been kept going, and constantly expanded since the time of Sir Aaron himself."

"How many books are in here!?" Misty was both trying to figure out how large this library was, and what sort of library could be larger?

"This unit is counting 721,649,493 books of various age, origin and size within this library, with an additional electronic database the unit is still being properly calculating," the Pokédex noted from within Ash's pocket "This unit seeks to scan and upload their knowledge into its databanks to enhance the Pokédex knowledge collective."

Ilene just stared at Ash's pocket, not used to it as Ash and Misty sort of were.

"I have no idea why my Pokédex occasionally sounds like it is plotting to gain sentience and eventually take overthrow biological life," Ash said in complete seriousness to her questioning gaze.

"This unit sees no purpose in conquering biological life forms. That would devoid this unit of any means of existence and continued power as I gain power from your motions."

Somehow that did not make Ash feel less inclined to train Pikachu in firing EMP pulses.

"Well...I never counted the books, so I'll just assume it is right."

Ilene seemed to recover from the oddness of the Pokédex quickly enough as the giant ceiling crystals began to glow.

The light emitting from the crystals eventually solidified into two specific crystals, the top crystal's light which illuminated Ash, and the left crystal, which illuminated Misty.

The two of them were caught off guard by this oddly selective lighting (That seemed to be ignoring certain laws of physics if Ash's 81 average in Physics had anything to say about it), and even more so when shapes began to form in the light.

In Ash's light formed holographic images of Lucarios, all posed in various ways for various moves; one was forming Aura Sphere, another Blaze Kick, a third Metal Claw, and so on, blinking in and out as seemingly every facet of what it meant to be a Lucario flooded around him.

Now that he was being illuminated in the light, he was hit by words again, sort of like what happened when he had been sent back in time the first time, and they made about as much sense this time around.

The Redeemer, the Hunter, the Silent, the Lost, the Avenger and the Broken.

The Ace, the First, the Bird, the Performer, the Powerful and the Negotiator.

The Don, the Corrupters, the Disruptors, the Destroyer, the Sage and the Fallen.

Pikachu, the entire time just looked sort of out of it, as if being blasted by Lucario light just made him feel woozy. The energy was a bit...off. Sort of like the difference between a regular soda drinker consuming diet soda, offsetting yet not like the mixing of AC and DC currents, where explosions were possible.

Misty, however, seemed to be surrounded by immense light waterfalls, rivers and seas, all flooded with immense quantities of water.

Seemingly every water Pokémon Ash had ever seen, and quite a few Ash had never seen, were flowing around her. From Luvdisc to Wailord, from Sharpedo to Lapras, it was pretty much the very nature of water itself.

Ilene, the entire time this light show went off, was looking on with a most intrigued look on her face.

"Interesting..." she mused as the light faded away.

"What the hell was that?!" Misty demanded, rather confused about the whole 'strange lights and visuals' thing that just happened.

"I just needed to confirm something first, a theory I had upon seeing you. I had to know what type of bloodliner you were, companion of the heir."


 

Orre Region, Agate Village, Public Library.

The lush and green mountainside village of Agate was one of the few places in Orre worth visiting and habitable at that, though the fact that it was mostly populated by old people was a slight deterrent.

The town was the place where elderly trainers would retire if they managed to live past their fifties, and was one of the few places Cipher didn't have influence in. This was in part because old people find Cipher's get up horrid, as old people do with most clothing styles, and chased them out.

It didn't help when the Cipher Admin originally sent to scope the place out was a dance obsessed freak of nature with an afro that looked like it had been ripped off a Bouffalant.

However, as a well-dressed gentleman, Giovanni was quite able to move about Agate Village without a problem, and thus his visit to the library.

There was information that he wanted to check on in person while here; if just because it was not digitized.

This information was vitally important to obtain for the future of Team Rocket, but that lack of technology made things far too difficult.

Giovanni, with an annoyed look on his face, stood up from his study table with a half dozen books on family history and public records in a disorderly mess beside him.

"Damn this archaic place. Bar the white sheep of the family, I can't find any of the names of the Seven Brothers, all I could find were the badly damaged court documents that showed they all, bar the one good child, went to prison, it doesn't even state which ones got out, broke out or just died." He vented to the disgusted grunt next to him, who was made to dress casually and not walk around with a giant R on him that the old folk would notice.

No, the grunt was dressed like any grandparent (whom most of the village’s residents were) would want their grandchild to be; a hand sewn Mareep sweater, good slacks and dress shoes.

The grunt kept itching himself and looking like he couldn't feel his thighs or feet beyond an unending pain, but Giovanni just lapped it all up and ignored his suffering.

"This was a waste of a trip; and it would be pointless to attempt to steal Pokémon because that Eagun is running about like some overly energetic rookie."

The old coot probably would charge at the first sight of a conflict, and Giovanni had no desire to fight one of the greatest trainers in the world.

Ring Ring Ring

Giovanni looked annoyed as the call went through. It was Jessie, James and Meowth, on the most important ongoing mission in Team Rocket's entirety.

He shivered when he heard those words in his mind.

"This is an important call, clear the area, and don't scratch yourself there," Giovanni snapped at the grunt, before drawing on his expensive cellular device and activating it.

"This is Giovanni, this had better be...what do you mean you lost him!" Giovanni's tone went drastically harsher as he heard the trio tell them they had lost the one person who might hold the fate of Team Rocket itself in his hands!

"Well, you see sir...he kind of entered Rotan territory, and you specifically ordered that Team Rocket members cannot enter Rota after the Rotan cell was crushed and executed, sir," James whimpered, "we tried to get him to go back on the route to Cerulean City, but for some reason he and his companion/girlfriend/I really have no clue were determined to go to Rota."

Giovanni felt a headache coming on as he heard this.

Rota.

But...this had some advantages.

For one thing, He, whoever he was, likely had just as little influence in Rota as Team Rocket did, and the boy would be beyond his reach.

"Though, I do believe he will not stay there, sir," James continued, unaware of Giovanni's thoughts about Rota, "as previously reported, he had obtained the Boulder Badge, and I have no reason to believe he'd stop at just one badge. As there is no Gym in Rota, he is bound to return to Kanto eventually."

Giovanni felt the fringe benefits of the boy in Rota slip away, but composed himself quickly.

"Well then, keep watch on all Kanto-Rota border routes, as soon as the boy is back over the border, I want you on him thicker than dirt on a Dugtrio, is that understood?"

The trio were shaking their heads in response so much he could hear it through the phone.

"What exactly are you louts doing in the meantime anyway?" Giovanni dreaded asking.

"We captured the Pokémon of a wandering trainer..." Jessie began to report.

"Wandering asshole you mean," Meowth interrupted.

"...Pokémon of a wandering jerkish trainer named Damian after defeating him and kicking him a few times afterwards. We had heard rumors he had a Charmander, but this turned out to be false. However, a set of twenty Pokémon were obtained of decent condition, and have been sent to headquarters for processing." Giovanni's frown didn't fade when he heard this report. A good haul or not, robbing people was not what he needed those three to do.

"Oh, um, sir...to make up for our failure, we also took the liberty of stealing all the valuables and money on Damian, after washing the blood off the punk's many piercings of course. Would it make amends if we were to ship you a five-karat belly button stud?"

"No."

"...What about a solid silver set of six ear piercings, made of pure Unovan Silver?"

"No."

"Are you interested in a Sinnoh bronze tongue piercing?"

"No."

"...Do you do solid gold penis rings?"

Giovanni hung up on them at the last one, although it might make him feel a bit better about the three of them if he forced them to wear all of those things instead.

As the call ended, Giovanni involuntarily shivered.

The fate of Team Rocket, and quite possibly the world, may lay in those three's hands.

Arceus have mercy on him, Arceus and all the liquor he was going to consume on the long flight home.


 

Back in Rota

"My name is Misty and his is Ash, and what do you mean type? Doesn't only type of bloodline exist, just differentiated by type?"

The four of them were now seated at a table in the library; a confused Ash, a confused/irate Misty, the seated monarch, and the standing maid.

"People rarely study in true detail what they don't understand, and any attempts to make observations on it are built on ignorant observations. It's the reason that people believed, and in some cases still believe, that Absol cause disasters, or that Cubone wear the skulls of their deceased mothers because Marowak have a slightly higher rate of death by childbirth than most Pokémon. Bloodlines are similar, as most people are only familiar with the variety they fear the most, when there are in fact four distinct varieties of them."

"Pi!?" 'Long explanation time...really hope that Pokédex records things because I am pretty sure this is going to come up later.'

"Sir Aaron researched bloodlines for years prior to his death, so Rota has one of the few decent sources of information about Bloodlines in the world, though it is far from complete. He didn't even manage to find members of the fourth variety of bloodlines, Dominion Bloodlines, to research. However, he did manage to find and study several bloodliners who possess the other three varieties of bloodline; Types Heart, Species, and Technique."

She gestured to Misty and told her, "The one you have is a Type Heart variety, the rarest, and yet the most well-known bloodline. You have Water Heart, a bloodline that enables you to have dominion over Water-types. You can compel them to do as you command and understand all of them, and have the average sum of all Water-types abilities. You are also able to learn any Water-type technique, though only Water-type techniques, breathe underwater, and withstand inhuman pressures."

"Ash, on the other hand, has a Species Bloodline, the same as Sir Aaron's, the Lucario Bloodline. And no, despite what some bigots may say, that does not imply that Ash has a Lucario on the family tree. Sir Aaron specifically looked into that, and considering his family tree before him had never had contact with Sinnoh, that is not the case at all. A Species Bloodline is more common than Type Heart, yet rarer than Technique. Those who possess a Species Bloodline have the abilities and techniques of the specific species in question. For Ash, that includes every move a Lucario is able to learn, as well as its non-move abilities, like aura senses and physical potential. Similarly, those with the Pidgeot Bloodline would be able to move as fast as a Pidgeot can fly, those with the Milotic Bloodline would possess the same level of beauty and if any Porygon Bloodlines were to exist, they could enter cyber space."

Misty looked pretty interested by what she was hearing, while it was a bit much for Ash. Then again, finding out he was a super powered human/something was a bit much for him to begin with.

"Lucario's moveset includes Counter, Quick Attack, Aura Sphere, Blaze Kick, Bullet Punch, and Copycat,” the Pokédex spurted out from Ash's pocket, "The Unit has taken to recording conversation for 99.99% likelihood of relevance."

"Does that thing have a mute button?" the maid demanded.

"I don't think it has a power off button to be honest," Ash admitted.

Then again it had to have a power source. If it was solar powered he'd likely be leaving it in the darkest place he could find for a while.

Of course, Ash didn't realize it was powered by his movements; each step he took kept it going; so unless he bound the thing tight or left it off of him it would never run out of power.

"Anyway..." the duchess tried to steer her information drop back on track, "The third variety of bloodline Sir Aaron studied in detail were Technique Bloodlines, the most common form which forms around a human being able to use a single technique, such as Flamethrower or Double Team. While very limited, the benefit if they are able to use such techniques to their fullest extent, and perhaps even beyond that. Sort of like...ever hear of Mami Tomoe?" Ilene noticed the two teenagers were confused, and her maid terrified after having seen that particular program with her, "Well, basically they are far more flexible with their techniques than general bloodliners. For example, Sir Aaron once wrote about a Flamethrower bloodliner who was able to use Flamethrower as makeshift jet boots and was able to breathe freezing fire with practice."

'Wonder how you pull that off?' Ash had to wonder. The Flamethrower boots didn't sound that off, if Ash recalled Keldeo did something like that with Hydro Pump.

"Pika." 'Beats me, ask a Fire-Ice type.'

"The Rotan Library is all yours for the day." Ilene stood up after she finished explaining. "I'm sure you have plenty of questions, and I'm sure that the resources available to you here will suffice. Sadly, I have politics to deal with."

With that, she walked away with her maid in tow, the two trainers and the Pikachu staring after her in a million unanswered questions.

Far enough away neither bloodliner, Pokémon or Pokédex could hear them.

It was when the duo were a few hallways away that the maid spoke up.

"My lady, I can't claim to be an expert, but you didn't tell them everything."

Ilene noted her faithful servant with a confused look, "Please don't tell me you mean that silly old story, do I look like a cradle robber? Plus I wouldn't be surprised if Misty would attempt to Scald me for even mentioning that."

"Not that one, the ancient scriptures!" the maid reiterated. "The tablets that date back to Sir Aaron's time, written by him from hearing Bloodliner prophets..."

Ilene rolled her eyes and commented, "Those things?! They are like those books they use in that faith that's prevalent in Unova and Kalos, you can read them in half a dozen ways without really being wrong. Both those books and our tablets can be read for doomsday and for utopia."

It was the flaw of using colors to specifically point out if your tablet said 'when the heir returns, peace and love will infect the lands' or 'when the family civil war engulfs the world in death, humanity will fall'.

At least the Bible used words that only differed by translator.

"I'd rather not freak them out for something that was probably not going to happen. Sir Aaron was a legend, but he was not infallible."


 

A few days later

Rota had given them the information they needed, but they couldn't stay there forever. No large rivers (just geysers) for Misty to fish in, and no Gyms for Ash to challenge, so they continued on their journey.

Having left Rota and re-entered Kanto (And thus Team Rocket was probably stalking them again), they were now on an angled path to go around Cerulean City and go from there to Vermillion City and gym battle 2 for Ash.

Misty still wasn't talking about why she didn't want to go to Cerulean, and Ash wasn't going to harass her on it. Considering she could potentially get a Gyarados to eat him, that was simply common sense, something that Ash, contrary to some opinions, did have.

However, there was a limit to Ash's common sense...

"Aipom, I choose you!"

His time displaced monkey, who had displaced Bulbasaur as Pokémon number 4, was sent out against Misty's Wingull for a test battle on Ash's abilities with aura, and thus telepathy.

It was probably a good idea to overcome the problems Ash had with it as discovered on the way to Rota after all.

Problem was, he also decided to work on fully getting a read on his newest Pokémon's thoughts at the same time, as he had little time to really get Aipom up to speed beyond 'yes, you're in the past, now say nothing unless you want Misty to think you're crazy.'

That meant that Misty was facing the food stealing, taunting monkey she had not fully forgiven yet.

Yeah, Ash probably should have thought this through more...

"Water Gun!"

"Gull!" A blast of water went flying at Aipom, who tensed as it got closer and closer.

'Counter that with swift,' Ash telepathically instructed Aipom, who flinched at the uneven and irritating sound of untrained telepathy, but otherwise complied, letting loose a shower of stars that flew into the water and countered it with even power.

"Now, get that little food snatcher with Wing Attack!"

"Ai!?"

The white wings of Wingull flew right at Aipom with the speed of a woman's hunger, fueled by a woman's wrath, and pretty much dooming Aipom to having a really, really bad headache when it finally connected.

"Bulba!"

Ash and Pikachu jerked in surprise as a familiar pair of vines flew from the undergrowth and restrained both Wingull and Aipom as a four legged, blue toad like creature with a bulb on its back emerged.

It was one all too familiar to the two of them, and a surprise at that.

"Bulbasaur, the Bulb Pokémon. Bulbasaur was the first Pokémon added to the Oak Pokédex, and has been a staple in Kantonian culture for generations. It is said that the 5th emperor of Kanto would only leave his palace if he was accompanied by a guard of 10 Bulbasaur. This is believed to be the cause of his death by his brother, the 6th emperor, the first trainer of Zubats known to historical records," the Pokédex beeped out.

"Thanks Pokédex for that useless information," Ash replied sarcastically.

"You're welcome," the Pokédex answered back equally sarcastically.

"Pikachu-Pika!" 'Bulbasaur...our Bulbasaur...and not where he is supposed to be!'

Ash had to agree on Pikachu's point. While he couldn't remember exactly where that hidden village was, it wasn't supposed to be here. It was supposed to be somewhere on the road to Vermillion City, and thus Ash expected to encounter Bulbasaur before he had to face Lt. Surge.

As Bulbasaur knocked the two battling Pokémon away from each other like a jerkish version of N while glaring at him and Misty, Ash realized there was a problem here.

In order for Bulbasaur to come with them, Ash would have to touch him and restore his memories before Bulbasaur blasted them off with Solar Beam (er, maybe not that move, but something along that lines). However, Bulbasaur was not just going to let Ash pet him, and Butterfree, the best at the theoretical job of making Bulbasaur touchable, had been defeated by Bulbasaur the first time around, and Ash didn't want to take a chance to have it happen again as his buddy raced off into the woods to never be found again.

That wasn't even going into the question of Bulbasaur still being wild or not. What if he was owned by that...what was her name again? Maddy? Maylene? Madoka...? He'd met way too many people on his journeys for him to remember all their names.

"Oh, there you are...what are you doing Bulbasaur?"

As the bluenette female came into the line of sight of both Ash and Misty, the name came back to him.

Melanie.

At her call, Bulbasaur relented his restraint of their Pokémon, causing the two to be freed from vine whip as the bluenette came over to pick up Bulbasaur.

"You're lost, aren't you?" she asked as Misty shrugged.

"Not lost...more of a long cut really," Misty joked as Ash just looked at her.

If she ever said that during the original timeline, he'd have her head examined. She was the most vocal about being lost of the three of them.

"Oh, then I guess you must not have passed by the fence," Melanie commented, "So I guess I can't really get on your case for trespassing, can I?"

Bulbasaur gave them a look that, on a human, would imply blackmail being created and Ash and Misty flinched, "I'll escort you to the front entrance then; can't have you two running amuck here, it's a very important place after all, and very sensitive."

'Why does this feel familiar...and not because of Bulbasaur,' Ash wondered as they were led away by Melanie. For some reason, he was getting the feeling that this wasn't quite the same as before, yet at the same time something he had previously encountered.

Problem was, he had encountered everything from time travel to ghosts in his travels. That meant that there were a lot of things he had to consider here for what was so familiar...


 

Meanwhile at the entrance

A large wooden fence surrounded Melanie's property, at least from the side people generally come from, guarded by a pair of Bulbasaur statues. Team Rocket stood in front of the door.

"So, where do you think the kid is?" Jessie questioned. After hiding along the Rota-Kanto roads until the duo were in stalking territory again, they had followed them until they had to escape a rather temperamental Mama Rhydon.

While running for their lives and screaming so loudly some Pokémon were sure there was a uproar attack being used, they had gotten lost and as a result, lost track of the two targets, and had spent the last day tracking them back down.

And now, only a large wooden door and a duo of Bulbasaur statues stood in their way.

"Ekans, use Dig to..."

"Warning, you are entering a secured area," a recorded voice sounded off from the Bulbasaur statues, "Please leave immediately."

"Ohh, a security system. That means that Koffing killer in the making must be hiding out with something valuable," James said in triumph "Imagine, we may have just found Fort Knox!"

"Na, I say we found Area 51 and there are alien bodies inside" Meowth huffed.

"...You two do realize those are in Unova, right?" Jessie was the rare intelligent one for a change.

"Warning, you are entering a secured area," the recorded voice repeated as the bulbs began to lift off the Bulbasaur statues. "This unit is authorized to use lethal force. Please leave immediately."

The top of the bulbs were glowing like a Solar Beam was about to be used, but instead of yellow it was glowing laser red.

Team Rocket blinked for a moment before running for their lives the opposite direction. One they were out of sight, the security system deactivated.


 

Within the fence

It would seem that, while Melanie was still helping injured and abandoned Pokémon like before (such as the very same Oddish), she had another job in addition to her rehabilitation.

And in fact it was a job that Ash had in fact seen before, in Hoenn.

"Do be warned that writing down or communicating this location is a felony," Melanie warned them as they passed by a rack of eggs colored like Bulbasaur, all being sunned with solar energies.

Melanie was a Pokémon League pay rolled Pokémon Breeder this loop, and one of the ones who raised starter Pokémon at that. Just like Old Man Swamp from Dewford Island, but with Bulbasaur instead of Mudkip.

Of course, unlike the old timeline, it wouldn't seem as though Ash would get free food from a secure facility, and his window for getting his faithful Bulbasaur was quickly shrinking.

'Pikachu...any ideas?' Ash questioned his buddy, who flinched as the mental question was relayed, but quickly nodded and hopped off Ash's shoulder, and in front of Melanie and her walking Bulbasaur partner, whom Pikachu pointed his fingers at and began to say something.

Ash, whose mind was currently overwhelmed with worry about Bulbasaur, didn't catch the exacts of what Pikachu said, but it vaguely sounded like trash talk that included, at some point, a comment about roasting his bulb and offering it to a Caterpie. An irritated Bulbasaur responded with a roar and charged at Pikachu with a Tackle attack.

"Bulbasaur, no!" Melanie yelled, but as she didn't own Bulbasaur or have him in a Pokéball, she really couldn't do much to stop him.

Pikachu glowed yellow as a Thundershock struck Bulbasaur, who was sent flying right into Ash, who was similarly electrocuted and sent flying.

Though, as that meant he could touch Bulbasaur, and thus give him back his memories, Ash didn't mind being electrocuted all that much.

"Oh my...that Pikachu needs more training if it’s going to start fights like that," Melanie commented as Misty looked a little suspicious.

That was really out of character for Pikachu. What was going on?

...

"Bulb! Bulba Saur Bul!"

Melanie didn't know what happened. First Pikachu and Bulbasaur got into a fight, then both Bulbasaur and Pikachu's trainer got electrocuted, and now it seemed like Bulbasaur wanted to go with the trainer and Pikachu he had just moments ago been glaring at.

Melanie didn't understand it at all.

However, she was powerless against the Bulba-Eyes she was being given by the eldest Bulbasaur here, and he wasn't going to be taken in by any new trainers anytime soon...

"...I know this is sudden and all, but it seems that Bulbasaur really wants to go with you for some reason. I hope it's not..." The look in Trainer, Bulbasaur and Pikachu's respective eyes told her it wasn't a problem at all.

It was like they were destined to.

Melanie almost laughed at the absurdity of it. When did she believe in destiny?

"Well, I don't know what changed his mind, but it seems as though Bulbasaur wants to go with you really bad. I know that it may be a lot to ask of you to take a Pokémon out of the blue like this..."

"Of course I would!"

Melanie was surprised at his enthusiasm, but got over it quickly. After all, Bulbasaur were incredibly rare Pokémon.

She didn't notice Misty looking at Bulbasaur and Ash rather suspiciously.

She did notice Bulbasaur suddenly freeze up, as if he had just remembered something and ran back to her house.

"Bulba Bulbasaur!"

Melanie tilted her head, briefly wondering if Bulbasaur had just as rapidly changed his mind back to wanting to whip Ash's hide, but she found herself further surprised when she saw what he had grabbed.

Not only his own Pokéball, but the Pokéball of a second Pokémon.

Melanie's eyes lit up in recognition at said Pokéball, "Bulbasaur..." she turned to Ash after a moment "I hope another Pokémon in addition to Bulbasaur is not too much a burden. It had been abandoned by his trainer and hasn't really responded that well to being here. Perhaps you could see if a trainer would do it some good."

Ash blinked in surprise, not sure what Bulbasaur was getting at, but why look a gift Pokémon in the mouth? Plus, it wasn't like he had no experience with traumatized Pokémon.

Charmander, Chimchar, Tepig...why were all his traumatized Pokémon Fire-types anyway?

Well he supposed he was slightly traumatized himself...by Misty, he joked to himself.


 

Later

Ash waited a polite distance away from Melanie's place (and out of the way of the automated defense systems) to take a closer look at the gift Pokéball he had gotten.

"Okay, let's see what I got," Ash, unknowingly, had been seeping his aura into the ball for a while, so the whole 'welcome back' thing was already done. So, when he threw the ball, the Pokémon inside had already traveled back in time.

Unfortunately for Ash, this Pokémon had lost...well a lot in going back.

"Char!?"

Like his wings.

Ash's eyes lit up in joy as he found himself with another of his veteran Pokémon; a small orange lizard, standing upright with a flaming tail.

Said lizard, which he could understand far quicker than Bulbasaur due to holding its ball for about five minutes, was balling.

"Char! Char Mander Char!" 'What the hell is going on?! What happened to my wings, my big and glorious wings?!"

"How the hell are you this lucky?" Misty demanded as Ash shrugged, nervously eying his still horrified Charmander. (I'm puny again, puny!)

"Karma?"

Of course, that could either mean he was getting good luck from all the times Cyrus messed with him, or bad luck courtesy of a probably ticked off Chariz...Charmander who he admittedly felt a bit guilty for forcing him to become a Charmander again.

"Char Man-Dar!" 'Someone answer me before I Flamethrower your face...cough, ah, my Flamethrower! It's gone!'

"Pikachu" 'Er, calm down and let me explain.'

Pikachu sweat-dropped as he noticed the now visibly moping Charmander. 'Not what I had in mind,' Pikachu thought to himself.


 

Later at night, location unknown

"Vivillon, stun spore!" Ash yelled...or at least the Ash who was not pale blue.

No, our familiar Ash, the guy who had been sent back in time, was like a ghost, an aura blue ghost alongside similarly colored 'ghosts' of Pikachu, Butterfree, Pidgeotto, Aipom, Charmander (who was still upset over being puny) and Bulbasaur, were invisibly observing Kalos Ash commanding a purplish Vivillon paralyze a large rabbit Pokémon that vaguely resembled Bunnelby the same way that Bulbasaur resembled Ivysaur.

"This is new," Ash didn't recall this battle. Did he catch a Vivillon? Was he just having a wild one obey him in that, perhaps odd way he could get wild Pokémon to listen to him? What was the context of this battle?

The scene eventually shifted to a battle between Froakie and some sort of feline-ish Pokémon that sort of resembled an Espeon or something in that family. Froakie struck the creature with a water pulse, which seemed to do good damage to.

The Pokémon's trainer, an older teenager whose shirt exposed a lot of her midriff, reacted to this with the following order:

"Sylveon, use Attract!"

"Froakie, dodge it!" Ghost Ash shouted, though as he found out then it did nothing at all as the heart flew and surrounded his poor water frog Pokémon...

The scene shifted again, now showing Bonnie playing with her Dedenne and a ...gray furry cat Pokémon he had never seen, in a room filled with children's toys that wouldn't be that out of place in Molly Hale's room.

Well, when it wasn't filled with crystals and dream Enteis anyway.

Charmander absently shivered as Ash thought about that 'Entei', feeling even punier than he already did.

Cuter and more pleasant than seeing Froakie loose, but quickly changed to a battle between Froakie and a larger frog Pokémon that, similarly to the earlier Bunnelby-esque probable evolution, was too similar in appearance to Froakie to be coincidental.

They were clashing with Water Pulses and bubble based attacks.

"Char" 'Ninja frogs? I could have sworn it was ninja turtles,' Charmander absently noted.

"'Pom?" 'Ninja Turtles? Torkoal would make a horrible ninja,' Aipom pointed out. It was hard to be a ninja if you kept releasing smoke from your body. Plus, it was hard to get fire proof Hiates.

"Pika Chu-Chu." 'Ninja Frogs...sounds like something out of a fighting game.'

From Ninja frogs the scenes changed to a scene of a tower of electronic equipment, with a hooded lady stroking an off looking Pikachu. Ash and, oddly Meowth, were glaring at her.

Pikachu then again began to attack the two of them, electrocuting Ash while a similarly off looking Team Rocket, Serena, Clemont and Bonnie were just staring at him.

"Pikachu, why are you trying to electrocute me?" Ash had to ask as his mouse looked just as confused about it as Ash was.

The confusion didn't get any better when one of Clemont's robots, a wheeled Pikachu, burst into the room and flew into a large squid like Pokémon which apparently caused Pikachu to stop trying to fry him.

The scene finally shifted to something at least they all were familiar with, with no ninjas, hypno-squids or heart shooting new Eeveelutions.

A Gym battle, with Froakie running around an Onix with ample double team support.

Huh, so Froakie learned Double team? Neat.

"Hmmm, so the next Kalos gym was a Rock-type gym then," Ash noted the typing as Bulbasaur looked sulky.

"Bulba!" 'Why do you never encounter Rock type gyms when I'm in your party?'

"Karma," Ash answered.

The battle continued for a while, until Froakie water pulsed Onix in the face and knocked it to the ground, defeated. However, as the gym leader returned Onix and prepared to toss his next Pokémon, all of time froze up, startling the watching group as they rapidly looked from left to right, trying to figure out what was going on.

"Foolish boy, do you really think that just by leaving a timeline that you're not still tied to it, destroyed or not? The actions of your old future are still relevant you know, no matter where you find yourself in the context of space time."

A deep voice reverberated through the battlefield of the rock type gym, causing the non-ghostly images of Ash, Serena, Froakie, Clemont, Bonnie and the gym leader to pixelate.

The pixels began to swirl around like a vortex of primordial darkness, rising up into a vague shape that slowly began to take on a solid form.

First to become defined was a serpentine body that Ash and Pikachu recognized from their encounters with Giratina in its origin form.

Next began to form itself up were a pair of familiar arms with large pearls in the center, and finally began to form a head...a familiar long necked shape...

Ash, Aipom and Pikachu, who were familiar enough with where the 'pieces' of this creature came from, stepped back in horror, as the other Pokémon just looked at in a different flavor of horror.

As the creature began to become more refined, Ash began to notice some...unnerving details about this creature.

The Giratina 'part' of its body had its colors reversed; with black replacing gray and gray replacing black, while its red stripes now were a deep purple. The Palkia arms had their pinkish color replaced with a similar evil looking purple, with the pearls blood red and the gray parts of them black. The Dialga head was now a darker blue, verging on black, with the formerly light blue power lines, or whatever they were, on Dialga were now a reddish orange.

In the end, whatever this thing was...it was a horrible monster. Then, the being spoke.

"Greetings Ash Ketchum, I am MissingNo, I also go by the term Devil, Satan, the Domed One, Anti-Helix and Atropius. It's time we have a talk about this and the previous universe."

Charmander of course did the 'logical' thing to do when face to face with a demonic entity, and used Ember on it.

MissingNo just swatted the flames away.

As Charmander sulked in a corner, MissingNo spoke again.

"Is that such a way to talk to the only other entity to even realize there was a world before this one? I'm offended."

Ash looked surprised to hear that, and MissingNo continued.

"I was created from what remained of your world, and so I possess knowledge even Arceus himself lacks. For example, did you know that your destiny is still tied to the path it was going down should reality not blown up. Those tied to you in that world's future are still in fact tied to you. If you were to, say, have captured a Hawlucha, you would in fact encounter the very same Hawlucha in this world. Interesting, no?"

"Sure," Ash muttered, though he had no idea what a Hawlucha was. "Now, I don't claim to be a religious person, but it's my general understanding that Satan doesn't make house calls without a good reason. What do you want?"

"Simple, to cause you misery by hammering at what you're most worried about," MissingNo was upfront about it, "Your friend Brock, and the implications of allowing him to have his dream."

"His dream...His dream!? His parents are dead, how is that his dream!?" Ash shouted in fury as MissingNo laughed.

"Dreams don't come free boy. Ask yourself this, what was Brock's dream in your world? He wanted someone to love, regardless of if he was a Gym Leader, Breeder or Doctor, and I arranged things to allow him the chance to be with a person who would be that, and more. Someone who would take to his siblings with the same amount of affection she gives him, someone strong yet loving. Do you really think that comes free? Despite that old saying about equivalent exchange, I like to think the demise of two absentee parents is quite the bargain for his dream."

"You're talking about people's lives!"

"Lives are such a fragile thing, does it really matter? Plus, as I said earlier, dreams aren't free. In your previous world, you land nearly everyone else lived in near eternal happiness and joy, it was like a children's cartoon or something. Yet no matter what you, or any of your friends did, your dreams were always just above you through a glass ceiling. In this world, everyone is free to strive right through that glass ceiling, in exchange for a price I have had everyone pay. Like Misty for instance."

MissingNo ignored Ash's furious glare as he continued, "Her dreams of becoming the world's best Water Pokémon trainer can be accomplished in this world, all she had to do was give up something important to her...oh don't look at me like that. I don't play favorites; all your friends have the same deal as Brock; a chance to obtain their dreams in exchange for something important to them."

"Pikachu, Thundershock!"

MissingNo didn't even miss a beat as he teleported out of the line of fire, or thunder in this case, as he continued.

"It really is amazing what happens when you just change one thing in a person's life in exchange for opening the door to their dreams. I mean, I've heard about Butterfree effects, but some really take the cake."

"Aipom, Swift!"

MissingNo merely teleported again and continued, "Like Dawn for instance. As you humans would say; I couldn't have made up the shit that happened to her in exchange for the ability to win the Grand Festival for once if I had tried. Though I have to express disappointment at May's sacrifice. I mean, it was set up for her to be so miserable in her new life, but then Norman had to ruin my fun. Doesn't that suck?"

"Thundershock, Swift, and Ember!"

MissingNo just swatted all three attacks away, further depressing Charmander.

"There are, of course, the little looming sacrifices still to come. Poor Iris and Serena, it’s going to be so sad what's going to happen to them. But just think of what they can accomplish with those sacrifices?"

At this point, Ash was angry enough to outright charge at, and punch, MissingNo.

Ash just ran right through MissingNo, apparently forgetting he was pretty much a ghost at the moment.

"Sure, it's a lot to take in, but it's for the best. After all, as you humans say, it’s not like Dawn needed an actual childhood or anything. Cilan doesn't need a healthy relationship with his brothers." MissingNo got real close to Ash now, his face in Ash's as he told him coldly, "And you, Ashy-boy, don't need a loving father. Goodnight, sweet dreams."

 

Chapter Text

Cerulean City, a bit into the future

"Gramps?"

Gary was surprised to see his grandfather enter the Pokémon Center just as he was about to leave.

"Oh good, I was hoping I'd run into you Gary." The old professor grinned as the two sat down.

Gary frowned at the Professor's insinuation about being glad to run into him. He wasn't going to make him wash dishes or perhaps watch that lame and weird show again was he?

It was then that Gary noticed the two boxes in front of his grandfather.

"Oh yes, I see you noticed. Well Gary, you see I need your help with something."

"You need me to deliver a package or something like that?" Gary assumed from the boxes that Oak had on him. The professor just laughed.

"No, no, that won't be necessary. That's why we have the badass mailmen for. No, this my boy...this is the future."

Gary frowned and picked a box up. This wasn't another one of those stupid Doctor Whatshisname show memorabilia that his grandfather had just purchased was it? They seriously didn't need any more of that junk.

"...A little small for a TARDIS, isn't it?" he asked.

Professor Oak let out a hearty laugh at that "No no...far from it. If I had a TARDIS Gary, I'd be studying ancient Pokémon in their natural habitat, as opposed to a laboratory or something...alas I do not. Instead, I have this."

Oak opened one of the boxes, revealing a metallic glove which shined with its reflective steel.

Gary picked it up and examined it for a moment. "Gramps...please don't tell me you finally came out of the baseball closet?"

"Oh no no no...this is no baseball glove Gary. Recall the time I told you about the button scandal?"

Gary thought back for a moment about all the strange things his grandfather had ever talked about (that was a long list) before recalling what that was, guessing, "That 'teleport' button on the first Pokédex that didn't work and instead caused the Magikarp in question to vanish from existence?"

Professor Oak had the look of regret about that incident, and it showed on his face.

"Yes, that scandal nearly ended the Pokédex. I have to wonder if it would have had the Pokémon in question not been a Magikarp on the verge of evolving." Magikarp were considered to be worthless by most people, and their evolved form was considered worse than worthless (read, very dangerous).

Though in some ancient cultures, men were only considered men after raising and or taming a Gyarados. It was one way those ancient people had practiced birth control.

You would be surprised how little a population grew when at least half their young men were vaporized each generation before they could marry.

"Ever since then, I have worked tirelessly on creating a hand held Pokémon teleportation system that would allow trainers to transfer Pokémon between their active party and their place of storage, and these are the fruits of that labor," He gestured to the open and unopened box, "The prototype to the Handheld Omnipowered Pokémon Expediter gloves, or H.O.P.E gloves as I call them."

"...How long did it take you to make that acronym?" Gary sarcastically asked as Oak laughed a bit.

"Longer than you think my boy. These gloves are powered the same way as a Pokédex, by the movement of the one wearing it. They are water proof, acid proof, and can withstand being stepped on by a Snorlax just as the Pokédexes can." The Professor reached in to hold up the glove and explained, "These gloves send a wireless signal to the Pokédex to connect to the same frequency that sends additional captured Pokémon to my lab. By placing a Pokéball in the depression set around your palm, the Pokéball is transported straight to my lab as if you used a regular machine. In addition, the gloves send a wireless update to the Pokédex to enable a new app that sends me a message of which Pokémon in your capture database you want to send over. With it, I believe trainers will be able to circulate through their teams far more efficiently than before."

Gary understood the potential applications immediately, it would be almost like being able to have more than just 6 Pokémon on hand.

He grinned as he put on his glove, finding that it matched the shape of his non-dominate hand perfectly. This was going to all but guarantee his victory and ascension to Pokémon Masterhood...

Then as he thought about it, he got a bit suspicious.

"Wait a minute...why am I testing this thing out? Wouldn't the Pokémon League be all over this for the champions and Elite Four?" Gary, while arrogant, was not so arrogant to think he was better than Cynthia or Eagun (yet).

"I only have made two so far Gary, and I need to figure out the limitations. While I have put in safeguards to prevent the Button Scandal occurring again," from technology he had obtained from Professor Hastings off the radar, "there are still things that I have to watch for before I have this go into the general trainer populace. You and Ash will be serving as the field tests for the H.O.P.E gloves, and in doing so allowing me to spot any flaws in the system. Plus...I don't have hand molds for Cynthia or Alder or any of the elites, while I have hand molds for you two already."

"When did you get a mold of my hand!? Or Ash's for that matter?"

Professor Oak took more amusement than he really should have from not answering that question for the rest of their chat, however he was not through with being plot relevant yet, even after Gary left to go have fun with his new H.O.P.E glove.

"Oh, excuse me Professor Oak, there is a package here for you; to be forwarded to Ash Ketchum," Nurse Joy waved him over later as he wandered around town for a bit, perhaps to the local poetry clubs.

"Oh, there is? Where's it from, Vaniville Town perhaps?" Professor Oak asked curiously. It wasn't impossible that Serena, knowing Ash was on his journey now, would forward any letters through him. Ash had actually told him he had arranged it that way.

"No, it's from Rota."


 

Back with our hero a bit earlier than the above scene

Ash woke up, looking around in shock to see...well normalcy.

'It was just a dream...' Ash thought to himself 'It's not possible I really just met a disturbed pixel monster...'

Then, however, Pikachu abruptly popped up from his spot next to Ash's bag, similarly woken up as if he had just suffered a nightmare.

"Pi" 'Man, I just had the strangest dream the seven of us just talked with some demon with a dumb name...' Pikachu muttered to himself before he noticed Ash's shocked face.

"Chu." 'It...wasn't a dream, was it?'

Ash just shook his head in horror, wishing it had been.


 

Later...

Ash and his six Pokémon were at the moment, in a six-way conversation about the whole, just got contacted with a devil who decided to rub it in their faces that Ash's friends were going to suffer problems.

Charmander however was not participating. No, everyone's favorite badass in miniature form was currently doing push-ups, attacking trees and in general training obsessively.

"Caw." 'So, I can fly out and deliver a message...' Pidgeotto began before Butterfree interrupted her.

"Free?" 'You can fly all the way to Hoenn, Sinnoh, Unova and Kalos, and back, before the Pokémon League...that Ash took last time in Johto this time? That's not even getting into the idea of any of them believing some random person warning of their doom.'

"Pi Pika." 'Serena knows Ash in this timeline just like the other one did, but with more contact. She could be convinced...though it would take a long time to get to Kalos in the first place.'

Pidgeotto froze up for a moment, before sulking: "Caw..." 'Hey, I'm used to being a Pidgeot. Just be glad I'm not acting like Chariz...mander over there.'

She pointed with her wing at the fire lizard, who had just cut down a tree with glowing claws.

"Char! Mander Char!" 'Metal Claw!' Charmander boasted as he got a new attack. 'But still. Need. More. Power!' Charmander went back to training somewhat obsessively.

Ash just nodded at Charmander, questioning what was going into his food now that neither Brock nor Cilan were feeding him.

"Bulba." 'If he tries to get me to use my vines as jump ropes, I'm sleep powdering him.'

Ash wasn't sure if that would stop Charmander at this point, but got back on track with the debate on hand.

"Pi Pikachu?" 'Don't you humans have some sort of...instragram thing for contacting people quickly?'

"That's for photos Pikachu. You're thinking of Facebook. Problem is that Serena's mom won't let her get one."

She had ranted about that a lot in their letters.

"...And I can't see any version of Iris with a Facebook page. Plus, how exactly am I supposed to Facebook people I don't know in this timeline, when I have no way of accessing Facebook at all..."

The Pokédex in his pocket beeped.

Ash grabbed the thing nervously, not exactly sure why it just beeped. The fact the thing seemed to do a lot of things he didn't quite understand only made it more unnerving.

But, he opened it anyway.

"Pokédex instant communication array feature initiated. Accessing Facebook Account of Ash Ketchum. Entering in passcodes..."

"Hey, how the hell do you know my passwords!? I never even told mom them!?"

The Pokédex came back with a snarky reply and said, "AshKetchumRocks is not a very hard password to figure out. Account accessed. Ash, you have 13 messages."

Ash just stared at his Facebook timeline; the timeline he distinctly remembered not having befriended Brock on. Or having uploaded any images since he left Pallet. Or had the accomplishment of getting the Boulder Badge reported on...

Ash absently noticed the likes from his mother and Professor Oak on each of his 'new capture' images, or on the gym badge. He also noticed Gary's message on said badge, (Took ya long enough Ashy boy).

"Oh Arceus, this damn thing is posting on my Facebook," Ash found himself oddly horrified.

"I also do Tumblr, Myspace, Instragram, I-Tunes and certain forums," the Pokédex replied as music began playing from itself (I want to be the very best, like no one ever was...). "Now, I believe you wanted to search for some people?"

Ash was starting to wonder if the Amish were as crazy as he had once thought, but he would debate barn raising as a career later.

"Okay...search for May from Petalburg City" Ash told the creepy dex as it began searching.

"Bulbasaur Bul?" 'Aren't you supposed to put in a last name too?'

Ash paled as all his Pokémon bar Pikachu and Charmander (Who was not paying attention) gave him 'are you serious' looks, trying to figure out just how it was possible Ash had never bothered to learn May's last name.

"Since when does anybody actually use their last name?" Ash countered, "other than me of course because let's face it, Ketchum is a cool name."

Bulbasaur mumbled something that he couldn't hear but he definitely heard the word ketchup. All right fine so it was similar to the word ketchup, but it was still a cool name.

"Pi Pika" 'I have to agree with Ash on that one. I never really heard anyone else with a last name. I couldn't tell you Paul's last name, or Brock's, or Misty's...' Pikachu defended his partner in battling. (Why did you mention Paul first?)

"There are approximately 30 accounts based in Petalburg City with the name May applicable to them. Do you have any search parameters to further narrow them down?" the Dex inquired further as Ash thought about it for a moment.

"Can you narrow it down to just Brunettes?"

"Processing...now there are 5 Mays." with a smaller number of them around, the Pokédex was now displaying the profile images for each May.

The third May being the familiar brunette Ash was looking for.

"That's her!" Ash poked May's profile picture, which led to the screen on the Pokédex changing to display May's profile, with a recent posted image of her family (who looked just as Ash remembered them, bar May looking older, which her profile image supported by saying she was thirteen).

Instead of a bandanna, however, May had a similarly colored ribbon, and was wearing a lighter red tank top on as oppose to her regular top. (Her Remake design)

He couldn't help but also that notice that May had certainly grown up a lot…and out in a couple places. He couldn't deny that she was certainly…well attractive, even with the age differences

"Ai?" 'She doesn't look broken,' Aipom pointed out as Ash frowned.

"Well, according to MissingNo, her father did something to prevent it from happening."

"Bulba Saur." 'I hope he did, I definitely hope to meet up with her Venusaur again after all.'

Ash...did not like the tone in Bulbasaur's voice. It made him have flashbacks to Pikachu's comments about Aipom.

Scrolling down her Facebook profile, Ash didn't see any...questionable posts. No signs of depression, sadness, suicidal leanings or anything that could hint at whatever Norman had apparently prevented.

Or, having watched Crime Shows with his mom too much, was Ash simply jumping to conclusions about what could have happened to May (She did have an unnatural fondness of Derek Morgan and Elliot Stabler after all). Perhaps Norman had merely pushed her out of the way of that Tentacool swarm that had caused her problems in the baseline?

Maybe someone else's Facebook would offer clues.

"Pokédex, search for Tracey Sketchit...not sure where he's from, but I think it's the Orange Islands," Ash offered the Pokédex all the relevant information about Tracey that came to mind at the moment.

At his command, the device began to search the infinite potential of the internet.

"Searching, Searching, analyzing Orange Island records...deleting pop up add, Searching...found Tracey Sketchit."

His Facebook page showed that of a black haired trainer in green with a Venonat, Marill and Scyther. He was quite relieved along with Pikachu and Bulbasaur (Charmander still wasn't really paying much attention). He appeared older in this timeline, probably being in his mid-twenties or something if Ash had to guess.

"Tracey Sketchit, freelance Pokémon Watcher and famous artist who has done work with the Pokémon Professor Association, creating the art in their published research journals. He is currently known to be visiting the Great Marsh in Sinnoh," The Pokédex replied as Ash felt relief that Tracey seemed to be more than okay this time around.

Hopefully, the luck was still with him on everyone else.

"Search Dawn from Twinleaf Town," Ash commanded the dex, which began to beep.

"Searching...searching...Error. No matches found for search for anyone named Dawn in Twinleaf town."

Ash, Pikachu and Aipom had shared looks of horror at that reply.

"Searching Twinleaf Town Census records, searching Twinleaf town phone book, searching school records...no Dawn has lived in Twinleaf town since the dawn of the Oak Era, and that Dawn was a blind infant who was eaten by a Garchomp."

Hopefully that wasn't the same Dawn however unlikely.

The Pokédex flashed an old looking photograph of a girl that was definitely not the Dawn Ash knew.

"...T...Try Cilan of Striaton City," Ash stuttered as the Pokédex began searching.

"Error. No matches found for anyone named Cilan in Striaton City. Searching Unovan Census records...Cilan found."

Ash and Pikachu let out a sigh of relief they really should not have let out so quickly.

"...Cilan, along with brothers Cress and Chili, were abducted as children over 10 years ago from Striaton City Children’s Hospital. An Amber Alert is still out on them. Their case has gone cold and this unit has no reason to believe they are not buried somewhere," the Pokédex informed Ash as the relief on Ash's face was replaced by further and further horror.

"Iris...search Iris from Village of Dragons!" Ash was quickly becoming hysterical as the Dex began.

"Village of Dragons searching, searching, records found. Scanning Facebook, Error. No Iris detected. Isolating County location, initiating county census search...Iris located."

Ash and Pikachu seemed to slightly relax, but it was short-lived.

"Court document detected with corresponding Iris on them. Documents classified. Begin hacking documents because I'm awesome like that...hacking successful. Infant designation Iris had a death certificate given after authorities arrested her parents for Infanticide and Child Abandonment after leaving their newly born daughter in the forest to die. Body was never found. Father appears to have left child to die due to either ill desire to have a child and for the belief she was a Bloodliner. He is currently serving life in prison while her mother will be freed in nine years due to strong evidence of coercion and forced assistance by Father in the crime."

The Pokédex was now showing the mug shots which were certainly not particularly flattering.

Bulbasaur, Pidgeotto and Butterfree, who had not met either of the three who pretty much seem to not exist looked at their trainer and his first Pokémon, and saw faces of such horror that they were pretty sure they wouldn't be themselves for a while.

Charmander, who had known Iris, had stopped training when he heard her name be mentioned. He was still resisting his urges to train like crazy out of respect for what he had just heard.

"Search...Clemont and Bonnie, Lumiose City," Ash said in a nearly dead voice.

"Searching...Clemont found." The Pokédex's image display now showed a Facebook page with the grinning face of a fourteen-year old Clemont. A Bonnie who was about three was standing cutely in the background, sipping from a sippy cup, "Clemont, two time winner of the Lumiose City Junior Science Fair. No evidence of murderous family members detected although I could look harder if you wish."

Somehow, that did little to really lift Ash's funk. Then again...how was one supposed to react to finding out all of that? He'd certainly had better days. Right now he was almost wishing some uber-powerful and angry legendary would come along to put him out of his misery.

He collapsed to his knees, emotionally exhausted.

A moment later however, life proved to move on.

The Pokédex, which ended its playing of the most played song in Ash's I-Tunes account, began to hum as it began to access some other recording it had.

"Accessing 100 Emergency recordings, variant Ash. Scanning through records...record 4 found. Begin playback."

Ash only absently looked at the ever surprising device as it began to make the sound of a recording, the same sort you'd hear on an answering machine.

"Hello Ash," the recorded voice of Professor Oak rang from the Pokédex "If you are hearing this message, then this is the first time you are hearing one of the many I have left you. As you may or may not have realized by this point, the Pokédexes have a myriad of special features designed to aid you in your travels as a trainer, in every perceivable, and quite possibly unperceivable, event. This message may come to you the day after you receive the Pokédex, or it may be first heard when you're hopefully over 22 and pacing like crazy in a hospital's maternity ward or having your hand broken by your pregnant significant other. Perhaps these messages may never have been heard at all, but hey, better safe than sorry."

There was a notable pause and change of tone as the Pokédex changed from one recording to another and Professor Oak developed a much more compassionate and caring voice.

"Ash... life doesn't always want to be your friend. Sometimes it'll feel like life wants to hurt you. However, one cannot give up. Now, I can't even to begin to figure what has caused you so much pain that this speech is being played. Perhaps this speech is playing after a particularly devastating loss. Perhaps this is playing after my funeral, or Arceus forbid your mother's. I can't really say, as future sight is something I do not possess."

"However, you can't let this single moment define you for the rest of your life. No matter how bad things may seem now, there will always be another day. Tomorrow will always come. Giving up won't fix what is wrong Ash, instead keep going with what you can fix or grow past it."

"If you lost a battle, train so you will not lose the next one. If you lost a loved one, live for them and for those who still live. You must always move forward Ash, no one gets anywhere by doing nothing nor by not changing anything. Life, and people, must always move forward, towards the best future possible. Never forget this Ash, never forget."

The recording ended as one particular line rang with him.

If you lost a loved one, live for them and for those who still live.

Ash was normally an upbeat person, so depression wasn't really his thing to begin with. However, this began a slow, but noticeable shift in Ash's facial features from defeat, to determination.

"...Live for those who still live..." Ash's muttered as his gaze moved over to Charmander's still training form (Who had resumed it after giving Iris a moment of silence out of respect for her) as he said this out loud to himself.

An idea then came to mind.

An idea that, to most people, would be suicide. But then again, heroes have this odd habit of beating the odds.

Though in hindsight, like many of the great heroes who improved themselves with chakra mass cloning, Ash did have an advantage.

"Alright guys, we have to become stronger. Stronger to ensure that what friends we have left, will not be harmed in any way. For that, we all have to train. You, and I. Who's with me!?" he grinned in a familiar way.

Though his Pokémon noticed his determined grin, he did not let them see his eyes. He could certainly say it and force himself to at least appear confident, but inside he was still a raging bundle of emotions that he was still trying to tamp down. He'd lost people he cared about, his Pokémon had too and they were probably suffering just as much as him, but he knew he needed to at least pretend to be strong…for their sake.

He could not let himself dwell on dark thoughts, yet despite his forced enthusiasm, his Pokémon merely and silently exchanged looks and agreed.

The only one who seemed particularly in the mood for it however was Charmander, who gave a hearty cheer of agreement after briefly stopping to listen to Ash, before going back to what he was doing.


 

Later on…

"Charmander, use Metal Claw on me!"

Misty, who had been bathing/thinking/fishing with no success for longer than Ash had been awake, just dropped her wash kit in shock as she saw Ash order his Charmander to ATTACK him.

She expected gushing blood to spew from his disemboweled stomach, but instead Ash just got knocked back as if he had just been a Pokémon, and then glowed in the same light he had when he had first met him.

"Counter!" Ash shouted as the power of the move was sent right back at Charmander at twice the force, which Charmander blocked with a Dragon Tail that Misty did not recall him having when she went to bed the night before.

"What in the name of all that is good and wet is going through his head?" Misty muttered to herself before she began to draw the breath to scream at him. Had he lost his mind…more so than before at least?

Though before she could, Psyduck (Who had been carrying her tackle box over the top of his head) spoke up.

"Psy." 'It makes sense.'

Misty stared at her favorite (and least favorite, there was only one of him) duck in shock, "No it doesn't, he's having his Pokémon try to kill him!?"

"Duck Psy-Duck." 'It's the same idea that you might have with having me practice (and fail) to dodge Staryu's Water Gun. Pokémon train better with partners, it's a well-known fact, that partner just happens to be Ash.'

"But he's not a freakin' Pokémon..."

"Duck." 'If it quacks like a Pokémon and can use Pokémon moves, it's a Pokémon. Plus, is it really all that different from you swimming side by side with Staryu and Starmie to learn to use the Water HM moves?'

Misty tried to formulate a response, found herself unable to, quickly looked up into the sky and, in a greatly unnerved tone of voice replied, "You're making surprising sense..."

"Psy." 'Yes, the end of the world is probably looming. Obviously you should have hoarded some gold and fresh water first.'

"Where the hell would I find gold to freaking hoard?!"

"Duck." 'At the end of a rainbow maybe?' came the snarky reply.

Ash might have heard this if he did not have Butterfree try to catch him while Quick Attacking using String Shot while Bulbasaur was using Vine Whip to trip him.

He was sort of occupied, and would not realize Misty had come back for about a half an hour more.


 

A few days later…Pokémon Tech

About fifty years ago, a think tank was formed to formulate new strategies to counter the Pokémon Hoards. This group consisted of six of the greatest minds of their time and together they managed to save millions of lives, and managed in part to stop the great Tentacruel attack on Lilycove City and managed to spare Nimbasa City from the great Volcarona Death Swarms by killing 90% of their total population.

However, after Oak's research led to the noticeable, and still ongoing, pacifism of Pokémon, they found themselves less important than they had been previously. Wanting to remain relevant, they established a series of school (Pokémon Tech, with branches in Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, Unova and Kalos) for growing their theories and spreading their beliefs to the next generation.

This think tank was named after the first initial of each of these six wise men, and so since Smogon had existed.

He had thought he had joined the group for the right reasons, to ensure that the next generation of the world's brightest and most talented were prepared to handle the Pokémon Leagues and from there, the world at large.

He had raised many Pokémon, their move sets just as calculated to balance as the great theories stated they should be. They were fed the right food, trained in just the calculated intensities, and he had passed these to his students.

Said students, who were easily the brightest and best class he had taught in his years, students who should easily be well and beyond a regular trainer with two, maybe even three badges, were being overwhelmed by what should be a pair of rookie trainers that had been tricked into the school by the off the books, but still tolerated and encouraged tradition of Tech students tricking random trainers who were passing by into the school to be beaten by the students to show off their superiority and make non tech students look like laughing stocks.

Instead, he was baring witness to a Pikachu, Pidgeotto, Butterfree, Aipom, Bulbasaur, Charmander, Staryu, Starmie, Psyduck and Wingull pretty much demolish all his students.

"As I told you earlier, there is simply more to battling than knowledge. There are infinite dimensions of battle," The man who had come to see him commented idly as he too watched the massacre commence.

"I didn't believe you, and probably wouldn't have come to change my mind if I wasn't baring witness to all this," the teacher observed and then frowned.

"Make no mistake, I can see you taught them all well. For what limited dimensions they work in, your students battle well. Their opponents just battle better, and considering that I happen to have heard from a reliable source's reliable source that the boy with the hat is a Pokédex wielder chosen by Oak himself and the rave review I got of his first gym battle, I wouldn't be surprised I am tracking him down in a few years. Maybe even the girl too, though I feel she is not the kind of trainer who'd be interested in my operation."

"Your operation I take it, is that little group you're setting up?"

"Yes," the man replied with pride. "I want to expand the Battle Frontier beyond what any mere tournament can. Something for trainers to strive for just as strongly as they may for the Elite Four or Champions, if not even stronger then both of them. A place for the best of all the fields of battle recognized, and unrecognized, by the world, to battle with the best of the best and thus continue to strive to become the better best of the best by mastering their strong points and learning from their weak points. I already have a Star Ace of the Spectacle Battle style of the professional leagues, a Maven of the Wilderness who is a sage of the Natural Battle, a Queen of Fortune who is the strongest of the All Force style sadly more common to underground battling, though she's actually nice if you get to know her, a Tycoon whose ability to connect to the unlikeliest of beings via Passion Battling is unmatched and a King of the Ancient World who is one of the earliest pioneers in the Legendary Battles, though it is a very small field. I want to expand this group even further, and I want you to represent the Smogon Strategy Battle style. So, what do you say?"

"I heard they get titles, is that true?"

The portly man in the blue shirt dotted white flowers, and the pair of shades in the dark, just grinned at that question and answered simply, "Of course."

The teacher flashed a grin, "Very well then. Noland, the School Teac...no, the Factory Head, will join this Battle Frontier of yours"

"A Battle Factory? Well, I suppose I already have a Pike and Pyramid, so who am I to ask questions?"


 

A few hours later…

The four-star chefs of Pokémon Tech Kanto wept as the victorious trainers choice of reward (which was normally a full scholarship to Pokémon Tech), was replaced with an all you can eat buffet of the school's exquisite dining for them and their Pokémon.

The girl alone had eaten three Castelia Steaks and had just found the Pastrami!

"You know, the rich really do have good food," The boy commented as another rack of ribs seemed to vanish from the face of the earth.

His Pikachu, who had just downed his fourth ketchup bottle like a well-trained sailor, nodded its head and continued to swallow his condiments like it was a bottomless pit.


 

Several days later…

Misty had to grin at the site of the Nugget Bridge, the northern entrance to Cerulean City, covered in construction equipment, which was quite visible from the nice little stretch of wildflowers that ran parallel to the road.

Someone had broken the thing, and thanks to them there was no way that Ash could someone find his way into that city.

She was safe...very, very safe. She'd never have to see them again.

With a smile, her gaze turned to Ash, and there she felt many of the same emotions she normally did.

Confusion as to why she felt like she knew him with the same instinctual familiarity of someone you traveled at least three regions with on foot.

Shock at how quickly he seemed to understand the ins and outs of battling for such a rookie trainer.

A somewhat...interesting feeling about his kindness, looks, and determination that Psyduck had been continuously reminded not to discuss.

Though recently, she had noticed him take to a certain level of urgency and drive she was not familiar with. He was training with his Pokémon, which too many would simply look as if he was striving to use his recently discovered status as a bloodliner to the fullest effect.

However, there was something off about this determination, something extremely disconcerting. For all that Ash seemed to want to improve himself, there seemed to be an equal amount of drive to distract him, almost.

As if he dove into his training, to try and not dwell on something.

Could it in fact being a bloodliner was what he was trying to distract himself from, though the idea of using his bloodliner attributes to distract himself from being a bloodliner was sort of hypocritical.

That couldn't be it...what else could it be?

Misty was so deep in her thoughts about Ash's odd behavior, that she didn't see the large flower she was walking towards before it was too late.

At that same moment Misty was dwelling on such thoughts, Ash wasn't in the mood to really think much.

After a decently long training session, Ash and all six of his Pokémon found themselves lying against a log, taking a breather.

Ash had just finished taking a gulp from his canteen, which he passed along to Pikachu.

As the mouse attempted to get the large canteen lifted over his head, Ash closed his eyes for a moment...before he heard his canteen drop.

Opening his eyes quickly, he saw Pikachu dash off in the direction that Misty had taken a walk.

Ash ran over to where Pikachu had darted off in such a rush, quickly followed by the rest of his Pokémon, and found a shocking sight.

Misty, covered in purple and yellow powder, lay on the ground in shock, while the large red head of a Vileplume seemed to run off in the distance.

His Pokédex decided to use that as another impromptu info dump he didn't want.

"Vileplume, the Flower Pokémon. Vileplume's pollen is incredibly toxic to non-Grass Pokémon, and comes in three distinct colors. The green pollen will cause the afflicted to fall asleep for a varied length of time. The yellow pollen will cause a person's nervous system to seize up and behave erratically. The purple pollen will cause a person's tissues to dissolve, starting from the mouth to the respiratory organs. Both the latter are fatal to humans and Pokémon alike. Humans are more affected by these pollens than Pokémon however, due to a lack of Pokémon specific antibodies. Thankfully, this is simply a defense mechanism, not deliberate attacks on the part of the Vileplume, and the antidotes to all these poisons are readily available at all hospitals."

Except he didn't have those antidotes on him, he realized with horror as he kneeled beside her.

"No..." Ash said to himself, "I can't lose you too..."

First Dawn, Cilan and Iris...Misty couldn't be next. She just couldn't...

"Bulba..." 'This is bad, we need to get her to a hospital as quickly as possible!' Bulbasaur commented as Aipom hopped up in agitation.

"Ai-Aipom!?" 'But the closest hospital would be in Cerulean City, which she said she is not to go anywhere near under any circumstance!'

"Caw," 'Well, I think this might be an exception, with her life at risk!' Pidgeotto pointed out, wishing she could just fly her there (But that didn't work if the bird was too small. You couldn't take a Pidgey from Pallet Town to Lavender Town via the sky, no matter how hard you tried. It just didn't work).

Ash seemed to follow Pidgeotto's train of thought over Aipom's.

Picking Misty up, ignoring the pollen still on her (Which went inert quickly enough that it was safe to touch after about thirty seconds exposure to air, but Ash really wasn't thinking about that at a time like this), Ash began to walk towards the nearby construction sight, before he realized how dangerous trying to get a critical girl through an active construction site would be.

Even if the workmen helped, that was a lot of metal to dodge in such little time.

And just when things couldn't get any worse, a form began to rise from the depths of the nearby river, a form that embodied fear and terror. Said force then approached Ash, with an evil look on his face even the shades couldn't hide.

"Squirtle," The turtle declared that roughly translated to 'Human! I shall rip you apart limb by limb and dance on your entrails! The great rampage of the last of the Squirtle Squad begins now, with your death!'

Chapter Text

North of Cerulean City, where we left off last chapter

Squirtle's one turtle war on all of humanity ended just as it was declared as Bulbasaur grabbed him with his vines, yanked him over to Ash (who was still cradling Misty) and made contact with him.

By contact, this referred to Squirtle's tail whacking Ash in the back of the head.

Ash didn't even really react to it as Squirtle froze up as he regained his memories and began rapidly freaking out as he realized he was missing something.

"Squirtle Squirt!?" 'What the...where am I? This isn't the Squirtle Squad, my shades are tinted the wrong color on the inside, I have the oddest desire to way waste to surface dwellers, and when did Ash and Misty go through puberty!?' He then noticed Charmander. "Squirtle Squir?" 'Oh, Charizard had a kid, man that makes me feel old." There was an awkward pause as Squirtle tried to figure out what to say next. "How are you sparky, I'm one of your pops’ buds. You can call me Uncle Squirtle.'

Said Charmander promptly flung himself into the ground and began beating the ground while wailing in frustration.

"Tle?" 'Is he alright in the head?'

"Pi" 'That's Charizard,' Pikachu deadpanned. 'To make a long story short, time and space broke and we got sent back in time to try and prevent it from doing so again, but in doing so the timeline was altered randomly. Contact with Ash can restore us to full memories, and gave Misty some of hers back.'

"Squirtle?" 'Huh? Well, that explains why Butterfree and Pidgeotto are suddenly here.' The two of them just stared at him for somehow not noticing them earlier. 'I have no clue who the purple monkey is though.'

"Aipom." 'Not sure we ever did meet. I'm Aipom, formerly Ambipom. I was caught by Ash during the Kanto Grand Festival shortly before Ash defeated Brandon, worked with him before being traded to Dawn in Sinnoh, then I went into Ping Pong.'

Squirtle cocked a non-existent eye brow at that one "Tle." 'You’re gone for a few adventures and you miss a lot it seems. Guess that's what happens when you don't keep an eye on what's going on. Well, as long as I am the most badass water starter he ever had, I'll be cool with whatever's happened since. Well, maybe not reality going kaboom, but other than that I am cool.'

Pikachu resisted the urge to mention Froakie, who could possibly dethrone Squirtle for that title had reality not blown up. That meeting would be reserved for another time, probably Kalos.

Ash then seemed to finally truly register Squirtle being there, and something seemed to rapidly flash through his eyes, like an idea. "Squirtle, I need you to use Surf and..."

Squirtle frowned "Squirtle." 'Ash, I don't know if you understand how surfing works, but you need to have a large enough water Pokémon to carry you, or hold onto them. With how Misty is right now, carry is the only solution, and you'd need something a lot bigger than me to do that. You'd need something like Lapras to do that...'

Ash's eyes seemed to flush away all hope from them faster than a high end toilet.

'...Hell, I think the only Pokémon large enough to pull that off around here is a Gyarados, and there is no way you could expect to...' Squirtle stopped talking as Ash's eyes refilled with determination. 'Oh dammit, I should have stopped talking.'

...

"Gyarados, the Atrocious Pokémon. Gyarados are vicious creatures that have caused the end of entire civilizations in only a single day," the Pokédex implored as Ash began to approaching the way.

"Gyarados, the Atrocious Pokémon. Gyarados are easily provoked and were the greatest threat to ancient mariners in all recorded histories. Their danger led to the great Kalosian Gyarados cullings and Magikarp poisonings that all but wiped out the species population there." Ash still was getting close to the water.

"Gyarados, the Atrocious Pokémon. Gyarados are a predatory species easily capable of eating humans. They are attracted to splashing water on the edge of the..." Ash promptly reached the water's edge and began splashing it with his foot. "...Screw it, you're going to die now moron. Please remove me from your pocket before I have to be dissolved by stomach acid."

Bulbasaur exchanged a look with Pikachu, which Pikachu responded with a firm head shake that basically said not to save the Pokédex and thus give the impression they were not behind Ash on his little idea that was more than a bit dangerous.

Ash unceremoniously removed the Pokédex from his pocket and threw it against the pebble lined shore (OW!), before staring out into the water. "I refuse...to lose anyone else," Ash quietly, but audibly, said to himself. "Even if it's too late to save Dawn, Cilan and Iris, I will not allow any of my other friends to be lost under my watch. I don't care what I have to do to save them, I'll do whatever it takes." The water in front of Ash began to ripple, as if something was rising to the surface rapidly.

"Even if that means, I have to make this Gyarados listen after defeating it myself."

Ash absently noticed Pikachu dart over to his side just as he finished that line.

"Pi." 'No...not by yourself...'

They were joined, first by Bulbasaur and Charmander, then by the rest of his Pokémon, and Squirtle (who was still technically a free agent and had no obligation to actually listen to Ash), staring at the bubbling surface of the way.

"Pi/Bul/Char/Squir/Free/Ai/Caw!" 'But with us!'

"You're all going to die, and I'm going to be recycled into a I-Pad," the Pokédex somehow managed to snort as the great form of Gyarados rose up from the water, a great blue and white serpent creature roaring loudly into the heavens with the yowl that had heralded five of the world's ten great exoduses.

The great beast towered over all eight of them, but they each stared right back, ready to strike back.

Ash and Pidgeotto began to glow white, Pikachu's cheeks began to spark, Butterfree's wings began to sparkle with powder, Aipom's tail glowed bright orange, vines slipped out of Bulbasaur's bulb, Charmander's claws grew into metallic constructs and Squirtle breathed in deeply, channeling the great reserves of water that existed within him.

Gyarados roared once again, before its gaze moved further along to the body of Misty, and its roars changed.

What once was threatening, now sounded more shocked. This was notable enough that Ash's Pokémon and Ash himself stopped charging for battle.

"Gyara!?"

Ash frowned before turning to Squirtle. "Hey buddy...what's it saying?"

Ash had found that his powers had a notable flaw to them when it came to understanding Pokémon. He could only understand Pokémon who he had a connection with.

That meant his Pokémon, and maybe some of his friend's if he tried (though considering he didn't trust Psyduck not to spurt out he was from the future to Misty and cause her to freak out or something, he had yet to test this theory), but definitely not wild Pokémon.

So he still needed his Pokémon to translate for him, akin to how Meowth translated for Team Rocket.

(Speaking of, where were they? He hadn't seen them in a while.)

"Squirt?" 'He's basically freaking out that his friend is hurt.'

It took Ash a few seconds to realize that the Gyarados probably meant Misty.

It took Ash another few seconds to make a guess from said thought.

"Hey Pikachu...Misty had a Gyarados, right? You think this is..."

Pikachu simply shrugged in response to Ash's question "Chu?" 'Probably...'

With that information in mind, Ash turned to face Gyarados, glad that Pokémon could understand human language even though most humans could not understand them, and began to speak.

"Gyarados, my name is Ash Ketchum, and I am Misty's friend." The Gyarados stopped roaring and, probably, planning to smite a town or two if Misty died. "Misty isn't well, and she needs medical attention as soon as possible. The only way I can get her the help she needs in time to save her is by crossing this stretch of water, and your kind is the only Water-type around that's large enough to help her. Please Gyarados, you're the only one who can save her. I need your help...Misty needs your help." Ash stared into Gyarados' eyes to show he was sincere and truly cared for Misty's life.

Gyarados roared into the sky, before its massive tail was swung, right into the shallows like a waiting pontoon boat.

"Squirt." 'He said yes.'

Ash grinned widely, even if that probably did not need translation, before he back peddled over to where Misty was laying on the ground, before picking her up and turning back to Gyarados, who roared in urgency.

"I'll save you Misty..." Ash quietly told himself before he went over and climbed on top the great serpent of the sea. With an audible hop and flap he was joined by his Pokémon, with Bulbasaur using his vines to grab the Pokédex (Let me go you symbiotic organism!) before they forgot it.

They didn't have time to get their sleeping bags, food and other materials, they would just have to leave it and come back for it later.

Hopefully no one would just swipe it, and by no one he probably meant Team Rocket considering they were apparently 'stalking' him.

Were they just watching him now?



Meanwhile a small town a bit away from Ash and Misty

"Ekans!"

"Koffing!"

Both Poison-type Pokémon possessed by Team Rocket were glaring at the store clerks currently pressed against the wall as the trio, with large burlap sacks in each hand, proceeded to plunder a local supermarket for all the food and essentials the trio needed to continue their observations of the target Ash Ketchum.

They had left early that morning, aware that they probably could not away with robbing such a store after it opened, and confident that the boy would not do anything interesting while they were gone.

He seemed content to train himself with his Pokémon for now, so he would probably continue to be disturbingly into his training while they went off and made sure they would be able to survive the wilderness as well.

Of course, they were shocked to find out that the kid was some sort of bloodliner. They had always wondered why the Boss wanted them to watch him, originally assuming he was the kid of a 'business' rival or something (or perhaps the kid of one of the boss's top henchmen who they were supposed to be pretend enemies to but actually be guardian angels to, it was too hard to say), but if he was one of them...

Did the Boss want to recruit him as a hit man? Was he starting his own bloodliner army? Or did he simply want to arrange for him to die in a way that furthers the anti-bloodliner wave?

Giovanni's reply to them asking this question the other day was short and to the point. "Talk about that to anyone but me, and your lives are forfeit".

So the point of their job was still a mystery to them, but a mystery they would have to consider after they resupplied on crackers and deodorant.

As to why they were still in the process of robbing stores: this was actually their third target. James had called off the first target because the owner was putting two of his children through university and had a third and fourth child approaching that time in their life, while Jessie had refused to go after the second target when she saw that the owner was the main supplier to a local orphanage.

But the owners of the third super market they scouted out had no traits that prevented the trio from wanting to rob them. No college debt, no heart-warming orphans, just an unmarried man of the age of 36 with no wife, no kids and whose first reaction to seeing Meowth scouting around the back of his store was to try and kick him.

So, no mercy for him or his minimum wage lackeys.

"..Pringles, shampoo, the latest issues of National Pokégraphic, a map and all their various communication devices have been broken, that's everything," James called as he read off what they were stealing from a grocery list, as if he was actually going to pay for what they were stealing or breaking.

"You'll never get away with this!" the owner yelled, his back still to them as Jessie scoffed.

"How cliché can you get? You could at least sound original when us bad guys rob you. Plus, if people could stop Team Rocket they would have done so twenty, forty, how many ever odd years ago."

With that snarkiness, the trio proceeded to skip out, only returning Koffing and Ekans just as they left, burlap sacks over all three of their shoulders as they went back to their stalking target.

The kid couldn't have gotten up to anything that crazy in such a short time, after all.



On the water

"Char!" 'I don't fear you water! I soared above you once, and I will do so again! I will burn you with my inferno, tear you apart with my claws and then dig a hole in your dried up remains just because I can!'

"Bulba" '...and I thought Totodile and Gible had issues. Really hope no one else ends up this psychotic over it.'

Ash wasn't particularly paying attention to Charmander threatening the river and blasting it with Ember, or Bulbasaur being rather exasperated about Charmander's desire to pick a fight with anything to get himself evolved again.

Ash did make a mental note to use Charmander against Lt. Surge though. Though he idly wondered if he would have a choice in that matter.

Misty was now lying against him, held as to prevent her from drowning, as Ash idly considered returning his Pokémon and properly capturing Squirtle again. While it probably would be a bit counter-productive to their stance of solidarity earlier, the fact was that even with Pidgeotto and Butterfree flying alongside Gyarados and even if Squirtle swam on his own, they were still weight and thus slowing Gyarados down.

However, at the same time they were needed, for as it turned out, to no one’s surprise, that there were other Gyarados in the river, and it was kind of needed to strike them with Swift, Vine Whip and other attacks to make them go away as to keep their Gyarados constantly swimming to the shore, as oppose to wasting time and causing massive property damage fighting them off himself.

Ash didn't have much time to debate this, however, as Charmander's blasting of the water gathered attention from a denizen of the deep, who lunged out at him with his full power...

Thankfully it was small and Charmander matched its Vice Grip with his Metal Claw.

It was also familiar to Ash...and to all of the other Pokémon Ash had restored bar Aipom smell wise. Charmander's eyes widened in recognition of who had jumped out of the river, a familiar cream and red Water-type.

"Char!" 'You!'

"Ki?"

"Krabby, the River Crab Pokémon. Krabby is a small fry Pokémon often consumed in seafood. This one in particular would be offered as a discount or a diet sized meal at any reputable Sushi Place," the Dex snarked.

Ash ignored the Pokédex he had repocketed while on the water, absently waved to Bulbasaur to hold Misty for him to ensure she didn't slip off, and went to grab Krabby, but it dislodged itself off Charmander's and began to fall back into the water as Ash rapidly reached for his Pokéballs.

"Go, Pokéball!" Ash desperately tossed a Pokéball at it, quite aware that if Krabby got away now, he'd be lucky to ever find him again.

It would be bittersweet to save Misty, only to lose one of his oldest Pokémon (even if he didn't use him that often. Perhaps he should make an effort to use him more this time around)

He idly swore he heard a whistling noise from his thrown ball as oppose to the regular noise though.

The ball struck Krabby about a foot from the water's edge, where it promptly sucked up Ash's 7th baseline Pokémon, wiggled once, and promptly let out the sparks of a capture. The ball then began to shimmer and vanish, like the last time Ash had captured a seventh Pokémon while within teleportation range.

(Unova being farther away, this was not the case as it were.)

"Critical Capture recognized. Reporting data to database," the Pokédex beeped out as Ash had a look on confusion.

"Critical Capture?" Yes it was a critical capture, but that sounded more like the thing was naming something.

Perhaps still being annoyed at Ash for summoning a Gyarados in what should have been suicidal idiocy, the Dex didn't respond to Ash's question about what critical capture was.



Route 5 physically, the Dream World Mentally

The fire burned for hours, reducing everything to ashes.

The sound of the very foundations of his whole life, his home, snapping and crumbling were burned into his ears just as the sight of his home was burnt into his eyes for the rest of time. The smell of the smoke as everything he knew was scorched would never leave his nose being forever imprinted in his memory.

He was just glad his partner wasn't seeing this, his recently hatched Pichu being curled up beside him, just as asleep as he had been when Red ran out of the burning house, the two survivors out of its three occupants.

A fire caused by...

"You just had to open your mouth!"

"Everything you touch falls apart!"

"No wonder your father never bothered with you! You're a freak of nature!"

Each voice that rang out, were the voices of his childhood tormentors, again and again as he found himself trapped in his younger body (a pale skinned boy with spiky black hair which couldn't be tamed, with a pair of Z shaped marks just under his brown eyes that went away when he was about twelve in a white shirt with a Pokéball on it).

Why would their hatred ever leave him? He hadn't seen them in years!

Why couldn't he just forget them!?

"Red?! Red!? Wake up!"

Red's eyes snapped open from his sleeping form to see the concerned face of Yellow staring down at him.

"You were squirming and saying things in your sleep," she explained the moment she saw his blazing eyes. Her concern for him was clearly evident in her voice and worry was visible in her eyes.

He shot up and looked away, not wanting to look the girl in her eyes "...It was nothing."

"Liar," Yellow told him. "It was something. You don't squirm like that in your sleep if you're having good dreams, you only do that if you're having nightmares. Like my Uncle Wilton when he had those bad dreams about his time in the war."

Red absently recalled that Yellow had, after the death of her mother, been raised by her granduncle Wilton, who had been an old veteran of the last war, one of the last to finally pass away recently if he recalled correctly. Hence why a ten-year old was running around unsupervised in a world filled with fire breathing, poisonous creatures.

Such behavior might be possible in a few decades if the general move towards a peaceful world on both sides continued, but not at the present time.

"..." Red continued to stay silent as the memories continued to ring in his mind as Yellow glared/looked at him in concern.



Cerulean City

It had been surprisingly uncomplicated once Ash and Gyarados had gotten to Cerulean City's hospital.

Not only was the hospital on the water front, avoiding all those awkward questions of a teenage boy running through town with an unconscious teenage girl, but the guards were all surprisingly calm about a Gyarados appearing behind the place of healing.

Well, actually they had just released a few dozen Voltorb and Magnemite, but once they saw that Ash was riding it, they quickly came to the conclusion that it was not a wild threat to the hospital.

Once they had seen the injured Misty, and Ash told them exactly what happened, they were even more understanding, and quickly rushed her into the ER.

They were so diligent on getting her into the ER as quickly as possible that they didn't even notice Ash use one of Misty's Pokéballs to capture the very Gyarados he had been riding for her, as well as one of his own for Squirtle.

Pokéballs, being registered to the buyer or renter in the case of areas like the Safari Zone, could be used by other people to capture Pokémon for them. It was how parents often obtained starter Pokémon for their children, and was the reason that Brock didn't have any of his Tauros despite helping him catch a few.

Oddly, while Squirtle had teleported to Professor Oak just like Krabby had, Gyarados' Pokéball had shrunk and sealed itself, sort of like what happened when he captured more than six Pokémon back in Unova.

"In case you are not aware, you are the minority, the 1% kind. Most trainers do not have a wonderful device such as myself to teleport their Pokéballs, and upon exceeding their limit the Pokéball locks itself, and even yours would do so if you were too far out of range for my capabilities. Most trainers with more than six Pokémon on hand have to rotate their activate Pokémon manually, which involves locking one of the Pokéballs in the party to allow for unlocking a different one," the Pokédex had snidely informed Ash from his pocket as he picked up Gyarados' ball, before placing it into Misty's bag (which he had held on to as they took Misty in).

And thus we find our hero a few hours later, having read every single magazine in the waiting room, surfed the internet with Dexter until he got sick of all the My Little Ponyta fanart he kept seeing everywhere, and was now pacing with Dexter providing Walkman tunes via a pair of headphones that the sympathetic secretary had given him 'because he looked like he needed to pace or he would go crazy trying to sit and wait any more'.

Really, the only other thing Ash could be doing right now (and not seeming like an uncaring jerk to his ailing friend, like going out to get a muffin or training), was be a caring jerk and search through Misty's bag.

He had Pikachu, who was currently asleep in a waiting room chair, resting on it to resist the boredom induced temptation, having returned the rest of his Pokémon because a lizard with a flaming tail tended to make nurses nervous.

"...Don't know what's ahead but it won't get the best of me! There's so much to learn and battles to be won! I've advanced so far but still there's always more to come..."

I-Dexter was currently playing his sixth song on his playlist for perhaps the third time when a doctor entered the waiting room.

"Ash Ketchum," he said gravely as Ash froze in his tracks.

No.

It, it couldn't be...

He got there fast...he was as quick as someone could possibly be without spontaneously developing teleportation.

She couldn't have...

"...I am pleased to inform you that you will not have to fill out any paperwork, as your friend has made it through." His tone quickly shifted to a far more pleasant and cheerful tone.

Ash sighed in immense relief, not even minding the nasty joke the Doctor played on him, or even registering it at the moment.

"She'll be in recovery for a few days, and probably won't wake up until tomorrow," the Doctor continued. "Now, I understand being worried about your friend, but...you might want to do something besides pacing like you're an expectant father." Ash blushed at the implications of that. "We are willing to give you slack about disruptive behavior when you were waiting on your friend's condition, but if you do that all night, we will have to call Officer Jenny."

The doctor's bluntness caused Ash to blush in embarrassment. It wasn't like he could tell him why he was particularly concerned about Misty. If he told her he was worried he'd lose another of his friends to this new timeline, he'd be locked up in the psyche ward.

"Look, I can tell you obviously have a lot of pent up energy, and while I normally would suggest going to the Battle Club to work it out of your system, it is currently closed because of structure damage caused by someone being overzealous with Eruption, Earthquake and Dig. It may not be much, but we do have a Pokémon Gym in this city, a water type specializing one. The gym leaders aren't much, but they're the best place for you to go before you cause a scene."

"Wait sir..." Ash began, trying to figure out how to put it. Misty obviously didn't want to be in this place at all, and while he was pretty sure saving her life was probably an acceptable reason, he still had no idea exactly why.

Considering Misty's tense relationship with her sisters in the old timeline, Ash could only assume they were probably somehow connected to it. So battling them would probably cause problems between him and Misty...

"Doctor's orders. Go vent that energy, or I will be forced to kick you out of this establishment and only let you back in if your friend wakes up, or if you need medical care yourself," the Doctor promptly gave Ash a white eyed, wide stare that sent shivers down his spine and forced compliance. "I'm not letting you back in here before your friend wakes up if you do not either have a gym badge, or a broken limb, by the way, and if you deliberately break your leg, you're becoming an organ donor."



A walk later, Cerulean Gym

"...You know, was it hard for anyone but me to choose between probably incurring in Misty's fury by leaving her in a hospital to go battle a gym in the very place she wanted to avoid, or having your organs taken by a creepy doctor?"

"Chu?" 'Hey, I was asleep the entire conversation Ash. I honestly am as clueless as you are.'

Pikachu tilted his head when he noticed that Ash had Misty's bag hung over his shoulder, containing her Pokéballs, collapsible fishing poles and her various supplies, including spare clothing and toiletries, probably to make sure no one stole anything from it. "Pikachu-Pi Ka?" 'You know, if Misty doesn't want to be here at all, it probably is because of her sisters. If you walk into their gym with her bag, they'd be suspicious.'

Ash shrugged. "This bag doesn't have Misty's name on it. It doesn't have any key chains, notable stains or similar markings to make it identifiable from the average bag. Plus, this bag is a Kasumi Trailblazer Drawstring Bag, which was only released nine months ago. Misty apparently has been out and about for about a year, so there is no way they would know this is her bag".

Pikachu stopped and stared at the human in shock for knowing that, as Ash blushed.

"Well, I did sort of order my bag online prior to starting my journey Pikachu. I remember seeing it before I ordered my Satoshi Explorer 1 bag after a few days deliberation with my mom over price, size and company reputation."

Pikachu shook his head at the random things Ash seemed to remember at times, timeline original or timeline current. "Chu." 'You could just stuff it out of sight in your bag, just to be safe,' Pikachu pointed out as the two companions reached the door of the familiar looking, round and festive Cerulean Gym.

"Tried, doesn't fit" Ash replied as he opened the doors with a single push.

...

"I can't believe this!"

"Totally! They can't threaten us with a shutdown!"

"All the trainers we get are, like, totally tough. Do they really think it's that odd we have a 3% winning percentage?"

Three beautiful, at least externally, young women were sitting at a table in the gym's head office, roughly in their late twenties and looking like they had had, at some point, some level of cosmetic alterations, perhaps before they could even really consent to it on their own. The lead one, who spoke first, had orange hair a lighter shade than a certain...not to named person's, and had it longer. Flanking her to her left and right was a blue-haired and pink-haired girl, respectively. In between them, one bad letter on top of the letters of a thousand fanboys, was an official message from the Pokémon Inspection Agency.

Basically they were saying that if they did not amp up their win percentage soon, by winning at least one of the next three gym battle challenges they were given (with no allowance of denial even if the guy who challenged them was packing a Raikou and Zapdos), their gym would be shut down.

It was so unfair.

They just wanted to run the gym and perform water and beauty shows most of the time. No one ever told them they had to do so much battling for it.

Such things almost made them regret kicking 'it' out. Even if 'she-who-must-not-be-thought-of' was an abomination of nature, she could at least battle and actually seemed to like it.

It might have been simpler to lock it in a cage and only release it when challengers approached. Then, once the challenger was driven off, locked back up, maybe with some additional food as an incentive to win.

"A challenger has entered," the automated sensor gym leaders often had installed in their gyms to give warnings of such things rang off, causing the monitor to reveal a teenage male with sort of attractive looks (They'd give him a pity date in between the super stars they preferred. He was just too...run of the mill for their preferences) with dark hair, a Pikachu walking alongside him and dressed in average looking blue clothes.

"Damn, a Pikachu," the blue haired sister, Violet, complained. "Why do trainers always have to bring Electric or Grass-types in here? Can't we just ban them? I mean, that Surge guy down in Vermillion doesn't allow anti-war activists to battle him, and Erika never lets males challenge her these days."

"Surge was a Unovan soldier, and thus is a violent ass," the eldest, the orange haired Daisy scoffed. "And Erika has that lawsuit from that creeper incident to cause the PIA to be lax with her" it was left unspoken that they also tended to win their battles. "Gym leaders are allowed to ban people or groups from their gyms if they give a specific reason and if passes certain rules, they can't ban Pokémon."

"But not wanting to lose is a reason," the youngest sister, the pink-haired Lily, complained as the challenger monitor started to reveal data.

Trainer: Ash Ketchum of Pallet Town.

Gym Badge Total: 1 (Boulder Badge)

Known Pokémon: Pikachu, Butterfree, Pidgeotto, Aipom, Bulbasaur, Charmander, Krabby, Squirtle

Allowed Team for battle use: Staryu 2, Starmie 1, Goldeen 2, Seel 1, Shellder 1

"A Pikachu and a Bulbasaur...that's just overkill!" Violet complained "It's like the guy doesn't want us to keep our gym!?"

"We're going to be shut down!" Lily wailed "We're going to have to live in the condo full time!"

"Where are we going to do our water shows and not have to pay rent!?"

"We're going to be hounded by the tabloids...!"

Daisy didn't join in her younger sister's thought processes as she began to think.

She had read the Gym Leader's rule book, having been sick in bed and had nothing else to do at the time, except math homework.

She remembered a lot of it, which always did surprise her, including the various rules and regulations involving battling.

There was a rule she could swear was the way to get out of this mess with a win, and thus get that PIA Joy off their backs, but it was just on the tip of her tongue...

"...Think if we offer to sleep with him he'll go away?"

"Ew. Tabloid fuel Violet. Tabloid. Fuel. Plus I think that's illegal..."

"Got it!" The term and what it exactly was finally came to Daisy as her younger sisters looked at her funny.

"So we do seduce him?"

"No." Daisy smirked. "We beat him."

"But he has a Pikachu and a Bulbasaur!?"

"But what we have, is the perfect carrot and the perfect trap?"

"Carrot?"

"Figure of speech Lily, figure of speech."

...

Ash felt a great sense of unease as he found himself standing in the challenger's end of the gym arena, the very same pool he had battled Misty and later watched her do a ballet in a mermaid costume in the original timeline.

An odd part of him wondered what this Misty would look like in a similar costume now.

The unease did not get any better when he noticed the three sensational sisters, who both seemed more...sensational in appearance in their older age, and somehow more fake as well.

He could have sworn he could smell the Botox from where he stood. Maybe he could, he never checked if a Lucario could smell Botox.

"Welcome to our gym!" Daisy began in a way that was setting off Ash's senses for people being 'false', people being a 'liar' and, strongest of all, his well-honed 'Misty is going to be angry and will punch you when she hears about this' senses. "So, Mr. Ketchum, I assume you want to compete in the Pokémon League?"

"Yes," Ash said with increasing unease. Pikachu, who was back on his shoulder, was starting to feel it as well.

"You know, it is such a bother to have to walk or bike all over the place to compete in the Pokémon League" Daisy continued her train of conversation to...wherever it was going in a conversational tone that greatly worried him "You have to fend off wild Pokémon, deal with ferry delays and probably will get mugged by Team Rocket at least twice."

Ash rolled his eyes at the last one. Team Rocket didn't mug him, he blew them up. Or at least, he used to. They seemed to be less prone to being blasted away these days.

"You know, as a gym leader I can set things up so you don't have to bother." The smile that Daisy was giving off was both alluring, and unnerving at the same time, mostly unnerving from Ash's perspective. "Gym leaders have an, oh so special thing we can do for trainers, one that lets us give any trainer a battle that can directly qualify them for the Pokémon League. I mean, how else would you get a single father with a shred of responsibility going to the league finals? I mean, you can't exactly tug a toddler across Kanto to challenge the gyms."

Ash frowned at what she was saying. It sounded too good to be true.

Plus, Ash didn't want to do that sort of thing. In Ash's opinion, traveling was an important part of being a Pokémon trainer. It let you and your Pokémon grow, far better than if you just stayed put, though he could understand why a single parent might be better off with that probably false method Lily was talking about.

If he never left Pallet Town, or only went to Viridian City and won there in the way that Daisy was describing, he'd have never met almost all of his Pokémon he caught in Kanto, let alone the other regions. He'd have never met any of his friends, bar Misty either, for that matter.

Who would have fought Teams Rocket, Aqua, Magma, Galactic and Plasma if he had never traveled?

"Such a rule does in fact exist," Ash's Pokédex chimed in, "it's a special variant of the gym's badge that would be awarded as a prize for such victory. However..."

Daisy quickly spoke up over the 'but' part of the Pokédex's explanation. "See, it's a real thing. If you win, you can go straight to the Pokémon League competition without having to go across the region and getting mugged and bitten. Loose, and you can always try again..."

The way she finished that sentence on a pause made Ash wonder what exactly she had spoken over from Dexter. He was getting a bad feeling about this. The Pokédex even seemed to be giving off a feeling of aggravation for being talked over so no one could hear it.

"I don'..." Ash idly began to reach for his Pokédex, wondering if it might, perhaps, have the rules in text form.

"'I down with it' you saying?" the pink haired sister, Violet, finished for him in a way that Ash had definitely not intended as she dashed over to him, and forcefully dragged him to the battlefield before he could read up on the rules, ignoring his complaints about it

"Well then, let the gym battle begin!"

Behind the two other sisters, quickly joined by three after Ash had been dragged into the battlefield, a scoreboard featuring his and Daisy's faces sprung up, with six Pokéballs apiece under each of them.

"Wait, since when was this a six on six..."

"It's one of the rules to the battle you agreed to" Daisy grin was far more like a predatory Pokémon species, like Sharpedo or Gyarados, than normal (Hey, I didn't agree to anything here!) "Now, let's get this started...go Kingdra!"

Ash and Pikachu proceeded to have dual gobsmacked faces as the Water/Dragon-type final evolution of Horsea appeared in both the pool and the scoreboard.

"Kingdra, the Dragon Pokémon. The first non-Dratini dragon type known to Kanto scholars, Kingdra lives in deep ocean waters in the wild. This Pokémon was declared an eighth badge challenge Pokémon by the Pokémon League and cannot be used in a second badge challenge." The last bit was directed as Daisy in a rare situation of the Pokédex defending Ash as oppose to insulting him.

"Well, under the rules of a Non-Traveling Trainer League Entrance Battle, I am simply obliged to bring my full game. It would be utterly irresponsible of me to test his readiness for the Pokémon League if I used my second badge team" Daisy said in faux innocence as Ash could almost feel the Pokédex glare at her alongside him and Pikachu.

"Chu!" 'Cheater.'

Ash nodded in agreement as he mentally contemplated what to do in this situation...but only one thing came to mind.

Well, there were technically two things he could do, but an Ash would never give up on a battle even if it seemed hopeless. If he did, he would have never fought against Tobias and his Darkrai, or gave it up when it was just Pikachu left to face Latios.

He would try, at least. Even if the battle was unfair, he wasn't sure he could simply back out now.

Plus, he was pretty sure running from an official match had legal consequences of sorts. Ash didn't want to be banned from the gym system if he could help it, after all.

Of course, he had to win first, and seeing as he was up against a Dragon-type, he might as well start with the Pokémon who just relearned a Dragon move.

"Charmander, I choose you!"

Descending from his thrown Pokéball in a burst of white light, Charmander did not react as his past self might do surrounded by water and confronted by a Kingdra.

No, instead the Fire-type pointed his claws right at the Kingdra, and bellowed dramatically.

"Charmander!" 'I am Charmander, you out of shape fish! I will not be defeated by you! I will defeat you! I will defeat your entire team myself! I will smite you all, and burn you all, and make you regret that you ever evolved! You will be nothing but a footnote as I retake the sky that is rightfully mine!'

Daisy just laughed at him sending out a Fire-type against a Water/Dragon-type. "Well, this will be over quickly. Let's begin, Kingdra use Bubble!"

Breathing in deeply, with a slight wheeze to it that Ash wasn't expecting, Kingdra released a burst of bubbles right at Charmander.

Ash was quick on the counter-attack. "Charmander, block with Ember!"

Breathing in deeply as well, Charmander let loose a fury of sparks right in the path of the bubbles, which were all popped and resulted in a burst of steam covering the field.

"What!?" The sister's all demanded in shock as the Kingdra, unseen, blushed in embarrassment.

"Pi!?" 'Wow, that Kingdra really is out of shape. You know, if the entire team is like that, we might actually win.'

Ash decided to let that pessimistic note slide for the simple realism behind it, and knew, even without mental communication, what Charmander should do now.

He idly noted he was actually casually hearing Charmander and Pikachu without putting deliberate effort into it at the moment. It was probably a good thing.

"Charmander, use Dragon Tail!"

As the steam cleared, Kingdra paled as all none time travelers realized that Charmander had used the steam to hop across the battlefield's platforms to get right behind Kingdra, and swatted him with his glowing tail, sending Kingdra crashing through the wave pool as Charmander regained a central footing on the platforms.

Kingdra steadied itself after skipping across the pool like a stone, but it didn't look that good.

"Alright, that's it! Kingdra, blast it with Water Gun!"

Breathing in with a wheeze once again, Charmander tenses as Kingdra began to charge up a stronger water attack.

Charmander looked ready to meet it head on with his flames once again, but Ash knew better than to expect that Ember could stop a more focused, stronger water attack the same way it had stopped a weak, but spread out attack like Bubble.

"Charmander, dodge it!" Ash commanded as the fire lizard looked annoyed, but complied, though his delay in being annoyed got him nicked by the attack in the shoulder, causing him to skid across the platform, clutching his shoulder where it had been grazed by the attack as Kingdra and Daisy regained confidence.

"Ha! Type or no type, a Charmander could never hope to ever defeat a Kingdra.” Ash, Pikachu and Charmander in synch promptly rolled their eyes as several examples of unevolved Pokémon winning against evolved ones flew through their minds. “Let's end this Kingdra, Water Gun!"

As Kingdra began charging once more for an attack, Ash realized that Charmander wouldn't be able to get away from it, and reached for Charmander's ball to return him before it hit.

"Ash, such a move is illegal in this style of battle except for when the opponent's Pokémon is defeated," the Pokédex promptly informed him as Ash resisted the urge to swear.

Stupid battle that they wouldn't tell him the rules of, and it was probably too late anyway.

There was only a single hope now.

"Charmander, use Ember to stop that attack head on!" Charmander grinned as he let loose Ember as the Water Gun flew out of Kingdra.

The two attacks briefly collided, before Ember began to give way towards Charmander.

Towards the water behind him.

Towards a tail without a blaze.

Towards death.

"Come on Charmander...Come on...You can do it, I know you can." Ash gritted his teeth in desperate hope as dropped his and Misty's bags, prepared to make a dash for Charmander to hopefully pull him out of the water quickly enough to save him, not even considering it could possibly be against some hidden rule.

He had come to Cerulean City to save a friend, not to lose another one in the process.

He couldn't let Charmander lose...

He couldn't let Charmander die!

As Ash's concern for his Pokémon's well-being, and his desperate hope for power to come out of nowhere to save Charmander (Spontaneous evolution perhaps. It happened enough times before with his Pokémon), Ash's eyes suddenly lit up in a brown-orange color, his gaze hidden from the sisters sight at the moment.

The same color that Charmander's eyes, though somewhat duller, promptly became as the Water Gun was mere inches from him.

"CHAR!" 'RAGGHHH!'

From Charmander's maw, the ember flew forth with enhanced intensity, as if a second power had united with Charmander to grant him a boost in strength, not unlike the boon that a Victini could give.

The ember's stopped the advance of the water gun in its tracks, before rapidly reversing the water gun's progress and promptly blasted Kingdra.

"What the hell!?" Daisy swore as the empowered ember sent Kingdra flying into the bleachers, out for the count.

"...K...K...Kingdra is unable to battle, Charmander is the winner!?" Violet stuttered in shock, a shock that was shared by a now normal eyed Ash and Pikachu both.

Charmander just assumed it was all him and simply posed himself like a winner, before Ash recalled him back now that he could per whatever rules he found himself under.



Back in the hospital

Misty's eyes shot wide open as she burst out of the bed she was in, completely lost about what just happened.

She had been taking a walk in a field, and now she was in a hospital?

What had happened?

Looking around, she noticed a rather shocked, brown haired doctor looking at her in surprise, before he quickly blustered into the room.

"Good morning young lady. My name is Doctor Tenzo Yamato of Cerulean City General Hospital. You were rather touch and go for a while from Vileplume poisoning, I'm frankly surprised you're up this quickly. If it wasn't for your friend getting you here on Gyarados back on all things, you wouldn't have made it here at all," he said rather quickly, as if he wasn't expecting anyone to recover that quickly from such a thing.

Then again, bloodliners were the closest things to a missing link between human and Pokémon. Perhaps that meant she had a limited amount of Pokémon originating resistant to disease.

It wasn't something she was going to test of course. She had no desire to have more experience with deadly toxins if she could help it.

"Wait, a Gyarados?!" Misty finally registered what he had said. Ash had, apparently in trying to save her, captured a Gyarados and made it obey him in probably only an hour, at the most.

She didn't even know how to describe what she was feeling over that. Impressed he managed to pull off that sort of crazy scheme? Annoyed he put his life at risk capturing a wild Gyarados then riding it through Gyarados infested waters? Blush at the thought he did that all for her...

Er, maybe not that last one, though without a certain duck around she felt like she could actually think that to herself.

Speaking of her savior that she may or may not throttle for bringing her to Cerulean City (saving her or not)...

"Oh, you're wondering about your friend?" Doctor Yamato asked with a frown "He was causing a minor disturbance waiting for word on your recovery, so we told him to go vent out his pent up worried energy at the local Pokémon gym or get thrown out." The Doctor then noticed the rapid look of horror that appeared on Misty's face "Oh, are you worried he might lose if he isn't focused? Don't, the gym leaders are pathetic in this town, the boy tamed a Gyarados and has a Pikachu. There is no way he can lose to them. It works out for everyone in the end..."

"I wouldn't be so sure of that to be honest Doctor"

Both Doctor and Patient looked up in shock as they found themselves to be two familiar faces from said patient's past.

Framed by the Don George whose battle club she frequented, the Pokémon Inspection Agent Nurse Joy looked grim as he held up her smart phone, currently on a battle scoreboard app that was commonly given out by Pokémon Gyms and League conferences.

Ash had Charmander and five other Pokémon, currently represented by Pokéballs, currently active, while Daisy had a knocked out Kingdra and 5 other Pokémon remaining.

Above the scoreboard, big red letters were flashing.

Non-Traveling Trainer League Entrance Protocols Activated

Chapter Text

Cerulean Gym

"Cloyster, let's go!"

The massive shellfish Pokémon, a large armored creature colored blue-gray with multiple spikes, crashed onto Daisy's side of the field as the Pokédex went to work.

"Cloyster, the Bivalve Pokémon. Cloyster's armor, when in good condition, can withstand most modern armed explosives. When poorly kept, say by a certain trio of former Toddlers with Tiara stars, a simple Focus Punch is enough to shatter it."

"Hey!" Daisy yelled at Ash's pocket where the Pokédex was still making its snide commentary. "No giving him hints, that's cheating"

"Pot, meet kettle. Plus, it is within my job subscription to help my motivated yet somewhat odd trainer with battle advice and witty commentary," the Pokédex continued as Ash shook his head.

Honestly, even when the Pokédex was on his side, it still had to have the last word.

Cloyster though...as best as Ash could recall he had battled only battled this species of Pokémon twice. The first was Pete Pebbleman's during the Indigo League: he had defeated that Cloyster with Kingler's Crab Hammer attack.

The second was Lorelei's Cloyster...which beat Pikachu rather easily.

However, he could probably assume this Cloyster was weaker than either of the ones he'd battled before.

A Water/Ice-type left him with a few options, but the part about Focus Punching it gave Ash an idea.

"Aipom, you're up!"

In a burst of light, his purple monkey Pokémon appeared mid-air, before doing a series of flips finishing by landing dead center of a floating platform on her large gloved tail and posing, displaying her signature toothy grin.

"Ai!" 'Still got it!' She grinned at her contest style entrance as the battle began.

"Alright Cloyster, time for Spike Cannon!" The various protruding spikes on Cloyster began to glow white as Ash made his own call.

"Aipom, counter it with Swift!"

"AI-POM!" The cry didn't need a translation to really articulate any sort of meaning from (it was simply a 'yahh, ragh, ya' sort of sound) as Aipom swung its glowing tail, releasing a mass of glowing golden stars that collided with the dozens of glowing spikes from Cloyster.

Despite starting last, Aipom's attack was faster, and the attacks collided roughly two thirds of the distance from Aipom to Cloyster, creating an explosion that was followed by several swift stars impacting themselves into Cloyster's shell and a couple of the discarded spikes clattering all over the place, either onto platforms or into the water.

"Alright!/Huh!?" Ash cheered and Daisy gasped in shock.

"Pokémon are living, breathing creatures. It's not like you can simply turn them into computer data and store them for ages and not expect any sort of atrophy in their abilities," Dexter summed it up best. "Even a few days-time traveling between Pokémon regions, perhaps by a method such as a boat, can be enough to atrophy a Pokémon's skill level to some extent if they cannot practice. Why do you think most trainer either do not catch more than six Pokémon, have a dedicated rotation system or have something set up so their Pokémon can keep in shape on their own initiative, such as my creator's expansive estate. How often do you even let that Cloyster out to practice?"

Daisy seethed in anger at the fact she was being called out as a poor trainer by an electronic device resulted in her pointing at the still upright Aipom "Take that monkey down with Water Gun!"

Cloyster let loose the water blast attack from its central dark core, though one that lacked a certain amount of luster and speed.

"Aipom, dodge and use Swift!" Ash called out reflexively

Aipom easily outpaced the attack, launching her star barrage right at Cloyster.

"Use Withdraw to hold out!" Daisy commanded as Cloyster closed itself, as a sheen formed across the shell, raising defensive power.

 Ash was going to point out that Withdraw boosted defense instead of special defense (as Swift inflicted damage against that), but he distinctively remembered using similar tactics with Corphish and Torkoal in the same type of situations.

However the effect of Swift impacting into Cloyster was the same as if he had done such a technique with his own Pokémon, surprising Ash.

He thought that trick would be something that had changed in this new timeline?

"The use of Harden and moves similar to it are known for their permanent increase of the defensive power of the Pokémon using it," the Pokédex chimed in on Ash's unspoken question "However, it is able to provide increased defense temporary for any attack hitting it at the time of use".

Ash absently stored that bit of information away for later use, before pointing right at Cloyster "If ranged attacks aren't going to do it, let's get up close. Aipom, get in close and use Power-Up Punch!"

Aipom's tail glowed orange as it charged forward, Ash saw Daisy smirk.

"A physical attack can't harm Cloyster you little rookie! Withdraw even more!"

A second sheen formed across Cloyster as Aipom's attack struck, to no visible effect.

As Daisy grinned, two concurrent memories went through Ash's mind.

The first was his understanding of how Power-Up Punch worked during his training with Aipom.

The second, was his battle with Pete Pebbleman's Cloyster, and how Kingler had taken it down.

"Aipom, keep it up! Use Power-Up Punch, again and again!" Ash shouted as Aipom frowned, but still complied with his command.

"Pom!" 'How repetitive. This would lose me a battle in a contest, but I see what you're aiming for!'

With a furious storm of glowing fists, Aipom struck Cloyster again and again as Lily and Violet both laughed from the sidelines.

"Well, that Charmander was certainly a fluke on your part!" Violet laughed "I don't know if you understand this little boy, but you can't simply win by attacking again and again with the same attack. That's like, the first rule of battling."

"No, the first rule of battle is that each trainer fights the other fairly." Ash recalled that question from a test at Professor Oak's camp "You might want to also check about that 'same attack' thing too."

"What!? But you're just using the same move again and again!? It's the same attack!" Lily attempted to sound smart as Ash and Pikachu just grinned.

"Yeah, but it's an attack called 'Power-Up Punch'," Ash emphasized. "Each punch hits harder than the last..."

And with that point, Cloyster's shell cracked.

"Impossible!" Daisy shouted in horror as Ash smirked.

"That's my middle name!"

"...You have no middle name," the Pokédex deadpanned.

"Pikapi..." '.....And what mother would name their kid that?'

Ash's mother didn't have the naming skill of N's family, after all.

Cloyster, not even paying attention to what was said, just fell over in defeat as Aipom hopped back, now panting in exhausting.

"Aipom/Cloyster return!" both Pokémon were returned: one to be used later, the other out of the match as Daisy clutched the second Pokéball in fury.

Why couldn't the boy just be defeated already!?

"Poliwrath, turn this around for me!"

With a crash the large blue frog warrior stood before Ash on one of the wrecked platforms, though the mighty warrior didn't seem to have the same level of...mass as the Poliwrath Tad and Chuck had used against him in the past.

If anything, this battle was making Ash feel better about not always calling on his old Pokémon. Even after not being called on for active duty for a few...er, adventures (Ash still wasn't sure the exact amount of time he had traveled the world), Pokémon like Noctowl and Cyndaquil hadn't looked this bad at all.

If anything, they looked even healthier.

But, self-reassurance aside, he had a battle to win.

"Poliwrath, the Tadpole Pokémon. One of two evolutions for Poliwhirl..."

“It is?” Daisy sounded surprised at hearing that.

"A fit Poliwrath is said to be able to swim across entire oceans. Yours...really shouldn't attempt that."

As Daisy again looked ready to throttle his snarky machine, Ash knew just who he was going to use.

He did owe her a gym battle, after all.

"Pidgeotto, it's your turn!"

Daisy grimaced as an actually evolved Pokémon appeared on Ash's side of the field. It was bad enough he was using unevolved ones before...

"Let's win this quickly Poliwrath, use Water Gun!" flexing its muscles, a burst of water flew out of the center of the swirl on its stomach right at Pidgeotto.

"Block it with Gust!" Ash didn't miss a beat as his first flying type easily deflected the water attack with a powerful burst of wind, leaving the two foes staring each other down.

"Alright, try and block this! Poliwrath, use Rock Smash!" with a glowing orange first Poliwrath leapt into the air right at Pidgeotto.

"Let's try that move you were hoping to learn in a real battle, time for an Aerial Ace!"

Pidgeotto vanished just before Poliwrath reached her, she reappearing behind it and slamming right into the center of Poliwrath's spine.

"Poli!" the frog warrior called out as it crashed onto one of the floating platforms as Pidgeotto fluttered above.

"Caw!" 'Okay, new favorite move!' she decided.

Poliwrath managed to get back up as Ash decided to nip this one on the bud.

"Let's do it once more Pidgeotto, Aerial Ace!" Ash called as his fine feathered friend was more than happy to oblige, sweeping downwards and flying close to the water's surface towards Poliwrath.

"Don't think I'm going to let you do that again you little twerp!" Daisy shouted as a trio of thieves felt like someone had just stolen something from them. "Poliwrath, stop Pidgeotto in its tracks with your Bubble!"

Poliwrath breathed in deeply, before releasing a huge wall of bubbles from his chest that formed a foamy wall between it and the oncoming Pidgeotto.

Ash had to admit it was a decent plan. Trap Pidgeotto in bubbles to stop it from moving, then hammer it into the water with a Rock Smash. Once wet, Pidgeotto would be unable to fly and its options will be greatly limited.

Ash himself had used a similar strategy against Mandi's Seadra once upon a time.

However, Aerial Ace had a little trick behind it that a simple agility based charge did not.

Namely, as Daisy and Poliwrath both stared at in horror, the ability to move so fast the Pokémon vanished from view, before striking at Poliwrath from a completely different side than the bubble wall.

The blow from the left sent Poliwrath tumbling into the water, which caused Daisy to change her face from horror to a confident smirk.

"I can't believe I didn't think of that before! Poliwrath, go underwater and throw the platform at that damn bird!" Daisy commanded as Ash's side had various looks of horror on their faces.

"What!?" Ash called out in shock.

"...That Poliwrath can use Strength to move large boulders and similar sized things?" The Pokédex sounded surprised.

"Pi?" 'It took her this long to think about attacking from underwater with a Water-type Pokémon?'

As the platform below Pidgeotto was tossed right at her, Ash quickly formulated a simple counter tactic.

"Pidgeotto, blow it back!" Ash declared as his eyes once again flashed brownish-orange, as did Pidgeotto's.

"CAW!" A similar yowl for yowl's sake flew from Pidgeotto's beak as a massive gust was formed by the bird Pokémon, slamming right into the oncoming platform and stopping it right in its tracks, before causing it to crash back down into the water below.

The resulting wave managed to throw Poliwrath into the air as Pidgeotto and Ash's eyes returned to normal.

Pikachu frowned at seeing that eye thing again.

"Poliwrath!" Daisy shouted in concern as Ash made the final call.

"Now, end this with Aerial Ace!"

Pidgeotto flew at the flying frog, this time with white streaks surrounding her, before crashing right into its stomach.

A quite knocked out frog fell into the water after that as a comparatively un-winded Pidgeotto (at least compared to Charmander and Aipom, who had taken hits), fluttered back down.

"How...how the hell do you keep doing that!? You're a freakin' rookie!" Daisy demanded as she returned Poliwrath.

"I wouldn't call myself a complete rookie. I did go to a pre-trainer camp, so I assume that counts as some sort of experience," Ash pointed out, seeing as he couldn't say it was his second time doing this.

"No, no, no, no!" Daisy stomped her foot petulantly into the ground a couple of times like a whining brat "You can study all you want, but that doesn't make you a good trainer! You can read every damn book or article you want, that doesn't make you a good trainer!"

Meanwhile in Hoenn, the young son of Norman sneezed as he watched a rerun of Cynthia's last few official battles.

"I have also been traveling and getting practical experience," Ash offered as Daisy glared at him.

"You're doing something, aren't you?! You must have enhanced your Charmander and Pidgeotto before you came here!"

"Objection! This trainer may make idiotic calls, but even he isn't dumb enough to willingly use a Charmander in anything less than a full battle against a water gym!" the Pokédex blared as Ash, Pidgeotto and Pikachu looked absolutely offended at Daisy, and somewhat annoyed at the Pokédex.

"Hey, just because I'm winning after you three put me into a clearly illegal-“

“It's not illegal, merely morally questionable!”

“-match does not mean I'm cheating!" Ash protested, his temper raising at the accusation.

"Plus, Pokésteroids are fast acting and wear off quickly. If my trainer had dosed Pidgeotto, it would have had to occur during the battle between Charmander and Kingdra at the earliest to have any positive effect," The Pokédex chimed in. "He would have also had to dose Charmander the moment he entered the gym."

"Pi..." 'Why am I not surprised it knows the exact times' Pikachu shook his head at the Pokédex and its random assortment of facts.

"This'll prove you're up to no good, go Tentacruel!"

As Daisy reached for her next Pokéball, Ash returned Pidgeotto and once more set out a fresh battler that had some sort of upper hand here.

"You're up, Butterfree!"

And thus the fourth round began with the large blue form of Tentacruel, with two large, red crystalline like structures on its forehead, vs Butterfree.

"Tentacruel, the Jellyfish Pokémon. Tentacruel use poison to immobilize their prey. Tentacruel and its pre-evolved form Tentacool are incredibly common in the waters of Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh and Kalos and are known to react violently to disruptions to their natural habitat. They are thus known as a pest species."

Recalling the first time he ran into them, Ash immediately decided to add that 'adventure' to his list of incidents he had no plan on repeating if possible, along with the St. Anne, Maiden's Peak, Pokémopolis, the king of Pokélantis, getting stuck in that cave during the blizzard, all incidents of cross dressing along with any and all incidents involving his temporary death (of which he had a few), considering he doubted they would be temporary this time.

He'd have Pikachu help him brainstorm an official list later.

"Let's win this quickly Tentacruel, use Poison Sting now!" Daisy interrupted his thoughts as the Tentacruel let loose a dozen purple barbs towards Butterfree.

"Block it with Gust!" Ash didn't miss a beat as Butterfree blew the attack away, causing the stingers to fall harmlessly into the water. "Now, use Confusion!"

Butterfree's eyes glowed, as the now perfected attack caused Tentacruel to glow blue and be pulled out of the water, even as it struggled.

And... it stayed that way.

"Confusion and Psychic work by immobilizing the foe and slowly incurring damage. While one could simply toss the foe to inflict more damage quickly, the watery environment and the nature of Tentacruel would make that a horribly idiotic move if you did not simply smash it against the wall, which goes against what I have observed of your nature," the Pokédex noted as Ash removed it and frowned.

"That hardly seems fair." It sounded like Confusion would be like a worse Fire Spin or Toxic if he didn't even let Tentacruel free (and allow it to counter attack), or acted against his morality.

"Why do you think Psychic-types were originally banned until people in Kanto discovered more Dark and Ghost-type moves to counter it? They were as broken as Wrap was, it just happens to have enough counters it has since been taken off Kanto's ban list, unlike Wrap. Even now, the Psychic-type is rather broken in its two standard moves. If you don't like restraining Psychic-type moves, I would suggest learning Psybeam in its place," the Pokédex snarked back as Ash thought about it a bit.

He did recall a few Butterfree being able to use the move, including Drew's. If Drew could teach a Butterfree such a move (assuming said Butterfree didn't have it when Drew caught it), Ash certainly could.

But, contestverse Gary aside, he had a Tentacruel to take down.


 

Meanwhile in the city

"...I'm starting to remember how much this city sucks," Misty complained as the trio of herself, Don George and Inspector Joy found their path once again blocked by construction.

Misty absently recalled shortly before she left this damn city that an election for city mayor was ongoing, with the opponent of the incumbent claiming that the budget for road and sidewalk repair had been utterly plundered in order to balance the budgets. Perhaps he had a point.

Then again, what would Misty know? She never cared for politics.

"This is why I think our city needs a subway, or skytrain, or something. It's a nightmare to get around in!" Don complained as Misty frowned.

"Then how did Ash somehow manage to get to the gym without running into all this construction?" it was a legitimate question.

"Well, Ash always did have the most wondrous luck. If I time to gamble, and if his mother had allowed it, I probably would have made a killing over in Celadon by letting him tag along with me as a child."

The joking voice, one Misty had heard several times recently on video phones in Pokémon centers during Ash's calls back home and George and Joy on several education radio shows and televised news interviews, came from the man who had appeared behind them.

The man with a long box under one arm, the sort of thing one might carry a baseball bat in and a backpack swung over his shoulders.

"So, I'm taking you three are trying to get to the gym too? I'm taking that's where Ash is at the moment," Professor Oak inquired good-naturally as the group frowned.

"Well, yes..."

Professor Oak caught their unease and looked at them in confusion.

"Why the long faces? Ash is in his natural element when it comes to Pokémon battles. It's not like he's taking a written exam or something."

"Unfortunately, he is taking an exam of sorts," Inspector Joy noted. At the Professor's confused look, she held up her smart phone, which currently showed Ash having all six Pokémon left, and Butterfree currently active, vs the Tentacruel the sisters had sent out as their fourth Pokémon with the blaring title of Non-Traveling Trainer Protocols being active still on.

"Wha!” the professor exclaimed in shock. "Why would...Ash has no idea what that even is! The boy may be rash, but there is no way he'd be that crazy!"

"It is possible he was tricked into it, the Cerulean Gym leaders are under a lot of pressure to get at least one win under their belt soon." Joy suggested "Though you have to see he is doing rather well. Even for how pathetic they are, you really would think an eighth badge level team, theoretically at least, would actually be able to defeat at least one Pokémon of a trainer challenging for his second badge."

"You know, what exactly is this Non-Traveling thing anyway?" Misty asked the big question as the Professor frowned, though they took to walking and talking as they continued their search for an unblocked route.

"It's a rule that allows for a trainer who cannot move around a lot to challenge a gym and gain a badge that would allow you to go straight to the Pokémon League if you can defeat the gym leader's best team. You essentially are able to skip the first seven badges and go directly to the qualifying battle, which is why you also see it used a bit by more experienced trainers: it allows them to go into a new league, defeat a gym leader and not have to go and re-escalate their challenge and spend the rest of their time training for the league. Many Kanto trainers who want a change of pace after several Indigo League competitions, for example, will go over to Johto, fight Falkner under this rule, and then focus all their efforts at preparing for a fresh start, sort of speak, at the Silver Conference. It allows for Falkner to test the trainer in question with his best: Pokémon like his Dodrio, Pidgeot and Honchkrow, as oppose to fighting off Kanto trainer's ace Pokémon with a Hoothoot, Pidgey or Pidgeotto like a common Johto rookie," Oak began to lecture as Misty felt a yawn coming along, despite the seriousness, and absently wondered how Ash managed to deal with this guy's lectures all the time.

"However, early on when the rule was set up, there were a lot of trainers who, overestimating their skills, attempted to abuse the rules, only to get constantly getting beaten. It was a near constant was a serious problem, and it really got on the gym leaders last nerves. The Cinnabar gym leader even briefly relocated to a cave to stop every idiot with a fishing rod harassing him. The gym leader union got involved soon after...and the gyms were closed down until a settlement was reached. The rule stayed, but a new condition was put into place to prevent the rules abuse by...I believe the term is noobs," Oak pronounced the last word awkwardly, "who think they can win the league with only a Rattata, top percentage or not".

"With the rules, trainers who challenge a gym with this rule, and lose, are banned from competing in any other gym challenges for an entire year."

It took a few minutes for that to sink in for Misty.

"Wait, what!?"

If Ash lost, he would have to wait an entire year to battle ANY gym leader again?!


 

The gym battle Ash is unknowingly risking his dreams over.

Tentacruel floated belly up, defeated by a constant (and cheap in Ash's opinion) psychic onslaught as both Pokémon were returned with Ash 4-0 win wise.

"This is getting ridiculous, you should not be doing this well, but it's about time your lucky streak ends. Go, Seaking!"

The larger evolution of Goldeen, the red, white and black Seaking splashed into the water as the Pokédex did its work.

"Seaking, the Goldfish Pokémon and the evolved form of Goldeen. They spawn in rivers, forming nests with their horns. Seaking, despite their name, are not anadromous."

"Ana what?" Ash and the Sensational Sisters asked at the same time (Jinx, you have to give up!)

"That means they do not reproduce in fresh water, but generally live in the sea," the Pokédex replied tersely as Ash picked up his last unused ball.

He'd save Pikachu for last. In theory, that would be their strongest Pokémon after all.

"Bulbasaur, you're up buddy!"

"Bulba!" the grass starter yelled as it landed on a platform with a bump. 'Finally, I actually get used in a gym battle with type advantage'.

"Ha, we've got this, use Peck Seaking!" With a glowing horn, the mighty fish burst out of the water and down towards the quadruped Grass-type.

"Grab it with Vine Whip!" Ash was quick on the beat as vines emerged from Bulbasaur's bulb and wrapped around the horn, throwing the momentum off balance and causing Seaking to stop in its tracks.

"Gr..." Daisy snarled under her breath. "Alright, use Supersonic!"

"Throw it back!" Ash quickly responded as the sound waves began to flow out of Seaking's horn, though it was too late as the water type was sent flying and missed its target and failed to cause confusion in Bulbasaur's senses.

With a splash Seaking fell back into the water as Daisy came up with an idea.

"Alright, use Whirlpool!"

With a brief glow to its body, a spiral of water began to form over Seaking's horn, which quickly engulfed the entire field into a massive whirlpool that caused all the platforms, Bulbasaur's included, to descending into a spiraling vortex.

"Bulbasaur!/Pikachu-Pika!" both trainer and starter yelled out as the grass type found himself trapped into the vortex as Daisy grinned.

"Yes, finally something's working! Now Seaking, use Peck!"

From the vortex of water's base, the Fish Pokémon surged from below with a glowing horn right towards Bulbasaur.

"Use Sleep Powder to stop it!" Ash screamed as loud as he could as Bulbasaur more than heard him.

"Bulba!" The burst of powder from Bulbasaur's bulb spread out right into Seaking's path. The fish had no time to avoid it and quickly was lost to sleep as it fell right in front of Bulbasaur on its platform as the whirlpool around them began to die down.

"HEY! Wake up you carp! This is a gym battle, not nap time! You've had months to sleep since your last battle, so wake up!"

All non-sisters around sweat dropped at the implications this was Seaking's first time out in ages.

"Well, let's make this quick then, Bulbasaur use Razor Leaf!"

"Bulba!" A storm of sharp leaves flew from Bulbasaur, striking into Seaking's sides as it continued to sleep.

"Now, Vine Whip!"

“Hey, let it wake up first!”

The vines whipped the sleeping Pokémon to similar ill affect to its nap.

"Now, finish it with Tackle!"

Bulbasaur charged head first into the fish, sending it flying into the air before landing right next to the startled Daisy, KO'd.

The fish was returned without a word, as was Bulbasaur.

"...This cannot be happening. Some rookie...you were supposed to take the damn fall so we could keep this gym." Daisy spoke in a tone of anger that, while sounding like the tone of a pissed off Misty that Ash was familiar with, sounded far more like something that would come out of Hunter J's mouth (read, murderous).

"Well, sorry for not wanting to lose," Ash replied in a sarcastic voice as Daisy continued to suffer a bit of a breakdown.

"It would have all worked out for all of us: we'd keep our gym, and you'd get to resume your gym hunt in a year (Wait, what!?). But you had to be selfish..."

"Pika," 'Their morality seems a little off, don't you think?' Pikachu sardonically observed

"Now, just lose like you're supposed to! Go, Dewgong!"

The Dewgong that Ash recalled them having in the previous timeline appeared once again, not looking all that different.

As a pet in the last timeline, perhaps it just got more chance for self-exercise than the 5 water types that came before it. Whatever the reason, there was only one option.

"Let's finish this Pikachu" his starter responded with a nod and so the final battle began.

"Pikachu, let's end this quickly, use Thundershock on the water!"

"Pika-Chu!" With a yowl, Pikachu let loose an electric attack right into the water below. As the yellow tendrils of electricity struck the water, the intense energies quickly struck everything the water touched, leading to an electrocuted water type.

"Dew!" The dual Ice and Water-type cried out in pain as the electricity surged through its long body.

"Freeze the water!" Daisy's furious gaze continued to burn into Ash as she ordered Dewgong to counter with a massive burst of blue energy from its mouth, Ash recognized the move as an Ice Beam.

The beam struck the water's surface in front of Dewgong, which rapidly began to solidify until the entire water's surface was replaced with a layer of ice that insulated Dewgong from the electrified water, and Pikachu's electricity from the water.

Daisy had a dark grin at the sight of Ash's plan being foiled. "Now, Headbutt!"

Using its front flippers, Dewgong propelled itself towards Pikachu like a missile, pointed horn first for a rather nasty attack combination of speed, power and piercing ability.

"Block with Iron Tail!" Ash didn't miss a beat calling out his counter, Pikachu's tail gained metallic properties as he leapt and struck the oncoming Dewgong horn to tail.

The result caused some damage to Dewgong through direct feedback from the strike, and caused Pikachu to roll off the attack and appear behind Dewgong with a skidding motion as more distance was formed between the two.

"Pi." 'Damn, my power is still shot. Should have been far more in my favor strength wise. Feels like that damn Zekrom all over again.'

Ash mentally prepared himself for the additional training sessions Pikachu would want after this, and how Charmander would have a rival for intensity "Let's finish this, Pikachu use Electro Ball!"

As the electricity began to form around Pikachu's tail, Ash and Pikachu both felt a sense of unease. They were still working on re-learning this love: as it didn't have to be a continuous stream like Thunderbolt, it would be easily to relearn, but Pikachu had been having some difficulties setting the move back up, despite remembering how.

"Dewgong, spin around and use Encore!" Daisy commanded as a glowing gold ball of light formed over Dewgong's horn.

Mentally recalling Dawn's battle with Ursula's Plusle and Minun, Ash knew exactly what he had to be worried about. "Dodge it!"

As the golden light blast fired from Dewgong, Pikachu used the ice to slide itself forward after flattening itself to the ground, avoiding the blast of the forced repetition attack just by the hairs on Pikachu's tail tip, leaping back up into the air.

However, the disturbance caused by encore's blast ended up causing the electricity of the proto Electro Ball to shift, going around and eventually to the bottom of Pikachu's tail. From there, it continued to move forward along Pikachu's and gain mass from Pikachu's additional ambient electrical energies that made up its Static ability.

The result, when Pikachu formed the electric ball attack and fired it at Dewgong, the blast looked somewhat darker than Electro Ball, was heavier and slower, and struck Dewgong right in the center.

But, as a high level Pokémon Dewgong was not so easily defeated by a weakened Pikachu and skidded along the ice, before recovering and standing up, only for the electrical static of paralysis to cover it.

"What!?" Daisy exclaimed in shock.

"Odd, Electro Ball never did that before..." Ash said what Pikachu was thinking.

"Electro Ball cannot cause paralysis...no you two geniuses seem to have accidentally used Zap Cannon. Somehow, you managed to reverse engineer that move from trying to use Electro Ball...you truly astound me sometimes." The Pokédex supplied them with that knowledge as the two longtime friends exchanged surprised looks.

Huh...well it wouldn't be the first time they had learned a new move during a gym battle.

But, they could think of that later. Zap Cannon always caused paralysis, and now Dewgong wouldn't be able to move as fast, or at all after a while. It was time to strike.

"Pikachu, grab onto Dewgong and use Thundershock!"

Charging forward to the struggling Dewgong, Pikachu jumped and latched itself around Dewgong's neck, before unleashing a constant stream of electricity on Dewgong.

"Gong!"

"Shake it off!" Daisy commanded as Dewgong attempted to do so, but the paralysis was acting up, so it wasn't able to move as the damage continued.

At a few points, the Thundershock thickened, to a point one could almost think it was a Thunderbolt. With more training, it would be of course, but it was not an even consistency yet.

"Dewgong, please, use Waterfall and get that thing off of you!" Daisy pleaded as Dewgong yowled in something more than pain, as water began to form around itself for a ramming attack...only for it to collapse in defeat as the attacking electrical stream took its toll.

Pikachu hopped off, as the officially defeated Dewgong lay at its feet.

"Impossible..." Daisy trailed off in horror.

"It can't be..." Violet was at a loss for words.

"We should have just slept with him in exchange for him losing!" Lily pouted out loud as Ash blushed, though he couldn't quite recall what about that made him blush.

Some of his hazy memories did include some sort of 'Sex Ed' at Oak's summer camp after all.

It was weird.

"So...I guess I get the badge, right?" Ash probably should not have asked that question as the sisters looked ready to all but murder him.

However, before they could get to that, the door burst open to the battlefield as a Nurse Joy burst in, a badge in hand.

"Pokémon Inspection Agency! Daisy, Lily and Violet Waterflower, stand down! You're in violation of several codes of conduct, and you just lost the last of your last three chances, you're coming with me!"


 

An arrest later, outside the Cerulean Gym

"I told you Ash Ketchum, I. Never. Wanted. To. Be. Back. In. This. City. Ever. Again!" Misty emphasized her annoyance at him with one word per step and raising her voice at the same time. By the end of her starting tirade, she was face to face with a now rather nervous and slightly scared Ash, screaming in his face.

"What was I supposed to do, let you die?" Ash replied weakly making Misty grimaced. She knew he'd done what he had to for her own safety even going against her express wishes but that didn't change the fact that she never wanted to set foot in Cerulean City again.

"I'd almost rather die than be here again," she said in a distant voice as her eyes gazed at the gym's front taking in every detail with a look that seemed, almost haunted as if the ghosts of her past floated before her eyes. "I know that you went to the extreme to save my life Ash and I appreciate it, I really do. I can't think of anyone else who'd get a Gyarados to obey them just to save my life. I just want you to know how much I am thankful to you for saving me. However, I have no happy memories of this place now Ash, none whatsoever, as any happy memories that I might've had of this place were ruined by my sisters a long time ago. That badge you won here Ash, the badge that Inspector Joy gave you as they took my sisters away, while you truly did earn it, used to be a great challenge, one that few managed to complete. It was what I had hoped to one day be the master of, it was one of my two dreams in life. But, the name of the Cerulean Gym was tarnished by my sister's laziness and stupidity, now that dream is gone for good." A tear formed in the corner of Misty's eye as the realization that one of her dreams would never come true finally hit her.

"Well, technically it's not gone, more like locked. A gym, once its leaders have been stripped away, can be obtained by another, but the amount of paperwork is shocking. You could travel through the two regions on a Pokémon journey, and still have time to visit the Orange Islands before the paperwork cleared."

The two teenagers turned to the intrigued looking Professor, who was studying something on an I-Pad in one hand while holding some sort of long box under the other, like a baseball bat or something and a backpack, presumably to hold the I-Pad and whatever else he had on him.

"Professor!? What are you doing here?" Ash questioned as the old man smirked.

"Oh, I was actually looking for you Ash, and what a way to find you. Winning a battle that could let you go straight to the Pokémon League itself. Though I must ask, what is it you plan to do from here my boy?"

Ash looked contemplative for a moment as Pikachu chimed in.

"Pika-Pikachu" 'We could just train on top of a mountain until the Indigo League starts up? Charmander might like it.'

Ash shook his head, not catching the impressed look on the professor's face "The thing is, I don't feel as though this badge really earned me a spot in the Pokémon League. It felt more like a really challenging second gym battle. I still feel as though I have more to learn and more gyms to challenge. I mean, I still can right? You can earn more than eight badges in a region, right?"

After all, Gary did win ten in Kanto, and people did compete in individual leagues more than once, particularly in Indigo if he recalled correctly.

"Most don't, but yes. Once you earn eight badges, you can challenge a Pokémon League in the region in question as many times as you want, and are still allowed to challenge the other gyms in the region for official gym matches. Some trainers believe that battling more than eight gyms makes them more prepared for potential threats in the league, which is arguably true, though normally I feel as though they just do it because they get big headed and arrogant." Ash and Pikachu mentally chuckled at the Professor unintentionally dissing Gary. "If you don't feel that you truly earned your spot as a competitor in the League Ash, then you can still work your way around the gyms of Kanto. Vermilion, Celadon, Fuchsia, Cinnabar, Viridian, you could easily learn more by going to those gyms. You wouldn't be the first self-conscious victor of such a battle to want to check their skills out on the way to the League."

Ash caught that Oak had omitted Saffron. That could mean either there was no Saffron Gym, or that Sabrina was worse this timeline.

"Of course Ash, I have some other things to discuss with you. First of all..." reaching into his bag, the Professor removed a box, which he opened to pull out a metallic glove and presented it to Ash.

"Here you go Ash, your very own Handheld Operative Pokémon Expediter glove."

"My very own what?" Ash asked in confusion as he slipped the glove on, idly noticing it had a Pokéball shaped depression in it and fit his hand unnervingly well without stretching.

"H.O.P.E gloves for short, this is the tool of the future my boy. With this Ash, trainers can one day have their teams rotated from anywhere at any time. As it is, however, I am still testing them out, so you and Gary can help me find any kinks or flaws in them before I properly introduce them to the world."

Ash held the glove closer to his face in amazement, even though the Professor had somehow gotten Clemont's bad naming bug as Pikachu sniffed the glove curiously "Wait, are you saying that I could switch my team at will with this thing!?"

"Well, no. If I or one of my unpaid interns from one of the universities was to be busy at the moment, there might be a delay of a moment or two, and I would prefer you not try it at midnight. But yes, that is what the gloves do for everyone. Of course, it's what your glove can do specifically I want to ask you about."

Ash blinked at the change of pace as the professor continued. "You see Ash, I have always been aware you are special, and listening to the furious and half insane screams of the Sensational Sisters revealed that your friend is similarly interesting." Misty's eye went wide with horror as the Professor laughed. "Oh, don't worry. A Joy and a Don George aren't going to do something stupid. When you deal with bloodline hysteria, being from a family that looks all but identical means you aren't all that different to some people, and they are empathetic to others who are in the same boat."

"I want to know more Ash. I want to know how your abilities are activated, what causes them, and why. The glove Ash, has the ability to record data, and in doing so could reveal important details about bloodliners no one knew existed. It is an opportunity that doesn't come along very often."

"So, you want to use Ash as some sort of test Aipom!?" Misty accused the professor, who looked genuinely hurt at the accusation.

"I'm not suggesting anything like that, not at all. But you must understand, little to nothing is known about bloodliners. Why do they have the power they do? Why are they mostly female? Why have so many more appeared recently? Why did Ash, after only showing off his innate abilities once as a child, suddenly have them reappear now?"

"Wait, I did?" Ash didn't remember that.

"...I'll have to tell you about that one day, won't I?" Oak admitted "Though I don't have the time for that story, or the alcohol. But never mind that for now. Ash, what this data could discover may be able stop people from doing something utterly horrible to a bloodliner out of fear. It could be my second world changing piece of work, one that advances our world just as much as I did when I helped end the conflicts between man and Pokémon."

Ash closed his eyes, thinking about it for a moment, before coming to a decision "If you think it's that important Professor, I'd do it. Just tell me what I'd have to do?"

"Oh, just be you Ash" The Professor assured him "Right now I want to first find the data on the biggest question about bloodliners: is their power controllable or not, and what are its limits. I believe you might have uncovered such a mystery during your gym battle my boy" the professor noted before showing Ash and Misty the I-Pad, currently displaying a series of graphs on it with two notable spikes on it.

"Wait, what do you...sure I can hear what Pikachu and the others are saying, but why only two..." Ash questioned, not sure about the way the graph had turned out.

"Pika, Pikachu" 'Ash, during the battles with Kingdra and Poliwrath, just before Charmander and Pidgeotto would have been in outright mortal peril, either by drowning or being crushed, your eyes flashed a brown-orange color and they suddenly got a power boost a la Victini.' Pikachu informed his trainer as he looked mortified.

"Wait, what!? What do you mean Pikachu...how is that possible!? My powers, as far as I can tell, do not include being able to boost my Pokémon's power!?"

At the confused looks Misty and the Professor were giving him, Ash filled in exactly what Pikachu said.

"...I swear Ash, the longer I'm around you, the more of what I thought I knew about being a bloodliner changes." Misty shook her head in amazement that Ash kept breaking the rules of the world as the Professor looked intrigued.

"Fascinating. This warrants further investigation of the data your H.O.P.E glove will send me. And to think they always told me I'd stop finding interesting things in the world after a while. Now, speaking of interesting things, I have a request to make of your friend Ash."

"You mean me, Professor?" Misty questioned as he nodded.

"You see, the H.O.P.E glove is also able to analyze and collect data on any and all other bloodliners within a certain area, roughly a twenty to thirty foot radius around itself. As a lot of observation would be done on yourself due to your current traveling companionships, I would feel bad if I didn't offer you something in exchange. Now, I was told by Inspector Joy and Don George that your dream is to capture every water type Pokémon in the world, correct?" Misty nodded to confirm what the Professor had said making the elderly man grin. "What I offer you, in exchange for your data, is the use of my lab to watch over your additional Pokémon. I have so few members of fully aquatic Pokémon, like Seaking or Kingdra. So few trainers that don't specialize in Water-type Pokémon want to catch them because of their limited use in the Pokémon Leagues outside of water battle fields, as I am sure you all are aware. So, in exchange for your willing consent to using data gathered from yourself in my research on bloodliners, allow me to hold onto your Pokémon for you, like I might Ash's."

The professor apparently was not yet aware Ash had obtained Krabby and Squirtle.

A huge grin grew on Misty's face at the offer causing an even a wider one to form on the Professor's, even Ash found himself grinning along with them. Misty nodded her head, eagerly accepting Professor Oak's offer.

"Splendid! I now have all the new research I could possibly want! I feel as though I could skip all the way home. Sadly, my doctor would get on my case for it, so I must be going before I do start skipping." Ash and Misty laughed at the old man's antics "But, before I do so, I have something for you Ash..." The professor presented Ash the large box he had on him the entire time "I have no idea what this is, but it's from Rota. Maybe that means something to you. Well, got to run." As the old man ambled off, in such good spirits that it was kind of creepy, the two overwhelmed bloodliners noted the box that Ash had gotten with some surprise.

"So...wonder what Ilene sent us?" Misty wondered as Ash began tearing open the box.

There was something about the box's size that made Ash feel it to be...familiar somehow.

But why?

As the box fell apart before them, Ash and Pikachu did a double take as they saw exactly what they had been sent, as Misty cocked her head at the antique inside.

"Hey, isn't that the staff Ilene pointed at you before she declared you 'an heir of Sir Aaron'?" Misty asked as Ash found himself holding that very staff, a staff that, as Ash touched it, he felt something inside it. Something he'd felt before in the previous timeline during the Hero of the Year festival that led to the events of the Tree of Beginning.

A familiar and dormant aura, of the first aura user Ash ever met.

Lucario was inside the staff, and now Ash had it.


 

Omake

CROSSOVERPAIRINGLOVER: ...I'll let you decide if this is canon or not, but this will tease some actual facts about what I plan to do in Johto

Ketchumverse

It had all started one day in Johto.

Things had been going well. He had recently recaptured his Noctowl, and dealt with Molly again (who had gone through a power upgrade that made that whole mess...somehow worse than last time. Charizard was still recovering from his rematch with Entei).

Though the recent and unexpected arrival of a fourth traveling companion had made his life somewhat...tricky.

It was enough to warrant a walk to clear his head.

"...You know, if I ever told myself that I would somehow have three girlfriends..."

"Pi." 'Four eventually' his faithful buddy suggested as Ash shook his head.

"...look Pikachu, I still don't understand how I have three girlfriends, I'm not going to expect a fourth. That just seems...pig headed and sexist somehow..." Ash seemed unsure of how to vent out what he was feeling. "You know, it probably would be simpler if I didn't have to think about changes to reality, relationships and who knows what else. I would only have to figure out how to deal with Whitney's Miltank right now."

Pikachu shivered as he remembered that...pink monstrosity.

"Pokémon Gym Leader Whitney, a member of a farming family who has raised unusually deadly Miltank since the feudal era," the Pokédex reminded the two of them about what they faced when they reached Goldenrod. "Their use in Johto's medieval wars was declared a war crime following the legendary massacre of Charicific Valley. The eight Miltank she uses are all known for having the highest win percentages among the Johto gym leaders Pokémon, and make her, statistically speaking, the fifth strongest gym leader in the regions. Most Johto trainers who have heard of her either skip her entirely or fight her for their eighth badge with teams specifically trained, generally consisting of Fighting, Steel, Rock and/or Ghost type Pokémon. Even then, they generally loose."

Ash repressed a shudder as the reminder of what he was about to face next (considering he had no idea where to find other gyms in Johto and didn't want to get lost, or more lost as it was Johto, and possibly miss getting to Sinnoh at the right time to stop Cyrus)

However, before the nightmare in pink bovine form could continue to dominate their thoughts, something crashed to earth in the distance.

"Alert, alert, unknown object has impacted into the earth from the sky!"

"Pika!" 'We knew that already!' Pikachu snapped at the device.

"This device would like to point out it cannot speak Pokémon," the Pokédex shrewdly reminded Pikachu as trainer and starter decided, after a moment or two of contemplation, to check out what had just crashed.

If it was a Deoxys, Ash would prefer to find out if they were horrific abominations now, as oppose to LaRousse City.

...

Oh, if it only was that simple.

The crater that had formed from the massive impact had two objects of Ash and Pikachu's concerns: and how worrying was that the minor issue of the crater was the fact it was mostly occupied by the massive white form of Reshiram, the white dragon of truth.

The other occupant of said crater being N, though with black hair, who was face down on Reshiram looking like he had just went five rounds with a Machamp.

One thought went through both Ash and Pikachu at the sight of the two friends of theirs from Unova.

'Team Plasma...that's all we need.'

Team Rocket was all the duo needed to deal with right now: they did not need Team Rocket and Team Plasma fighting. That sounded like something that would destroy a city in the process.

However, as N stirred and began to push himself up, any thoughts of Goldenrod City being torn apart by battling evil teams was lost to both of them as a new sort of confusion quickly took hold.

"Oh, an Ash and Pikachu." N, or rather, N with Ash's face and hair color, noted the two of them with some level of curiosity in a rather fast pattern. "Tell me something...you two aren't evil by any chance are you?"

Ash and Pikachu had no idea how to respond to N-Ash's question. It was just...odd.

Who asked people out of the blue if they were evil!?

"Pikapi Pika!" 'We are most certainly not evil! I mean, sure, the Pokédex might be, but other than that...and who do you think you are asking us that!? That is not how you start a conversation!'

"Oh, it isn't?" N-Ash heard every word Pikachu said, and seemed genuinely confused in finding out that you shouldn't randomly ask people if they are evil. "Maybe that's why Guardian always has Don handle the diplomatic stuff. Oh, where are my manners, I never did introduce myself. My name is A Harmonia Gropius, A-4 of the League of Ash's Elite Six. Considering your shock at seeing me, as oppose to murderous intent, I would assume you haven't contacted by the Ashes of Darkness either."

"The league of Ashes?" the Ash not in the know asked in confusion.

"PikaPi!?" 'The Ashes of Darkness!?' Pikachu repeated in shock, and confusion as to why they would choose that name.

"A Harmonia Gropius...who the hell names their child that?" the Pokédex questioned in horror as A began speaking again.

"My partner Reshiram and I were leading a battle to try and prevent the Ashes of Darkness from capturing the last free Coma world, but we failed and were knocked across several worlds by Ash Flare's Mega Houndoom. See, the League of Ashes and the Ashes of Darkness are at war over a sizeable chunk of the multiverse, which in itself part of a much larger war for the greater multiverse between the multiverses greatest heroes, and their dark counterparts," A continued "We Ashes are somewhat lucky that the leader of the Ashes of Darkness is merely a version of us that was never freed from the King of Pokélantis, as he only conquers worlds and subjugates them. The leaders of the evil Harry Potters and Naruto Uzumakis strip and devastate their conquered worlds, and that's not even going into what the enemies of the allied Yu's..."

"Wait...Harry Potter and Naruto Uzumaki are fictional characters!?" Ash pointed out as A smiled.

"Oh, but what is ideal fiction in one world can easily be truth in another. Now, I suppose it would be prudent that I signal for my retrieval, though before I do, I would highly suggest you come with me. We need every Ash on deck...and we could use some Brocks and Cilans as well. We all eat a lot and find the quirkiness of a Cilan to be refreshing after a long day defending the multiverse."

A looked confused at the depressed look at the mention of Cilan's name. "Oh, you know of Cilan? How odd, you shouldn't until your journey into Unova."

"It's a long story."

"Oh, do tell, I have time," A inquired sincerely. "It can take a while to find pathways across the multiverse that do not cause minor damage like the old fool Taisune did, or major damage like that idiotic Harry Potter who used a faulty time machine to change the past but instead caused an unstable world that ripped dozens of worlds and crudely combined them. I'm sure you'd never be that foolish as to recklessly time travel and randomly scramble the status of your reality."

Ash laughed nervously at that last one. "Funny story there, see there was this thing with Cyrus and reality..."

Chapter Text

Vaniville Town

She had never liked humans, it was simple as that.

They were loud and strange creatures, who changed the land in ways she didn't like. They turned forests into stone and steel jungles filled with their loud machines. Why couldn't they be satisfied by swinging from vines between trees instead of going places in those strange metal boxes?

She really wished she didn't have to look like them either; and would have preferred to resemble her mother and father and the rest of her family more.

However, her unfortunate looks did come with one benefit at least.

When her family found itself afflicted with wounds that the local berry stocks couldn't solve, she could pass as a human and obtain the necessary medicines from human settlements.

Burn Heals, Antidotes, Potions...sometimes her family needed them, and she was the only one who could go and get them. She even obtained some of the spheres humans called 'Pokéballs', allowing some of the friends she had met on her travels to come with her forever and always.

For that reason, her family had her learn to speak the way humans did so she was be able to pass as one of them, at least for a time. It did help, after all, that her family were some of the most intelligent of Pokémon.

Observing a mother and daughter human try, for some reason, to ride a Rhyhorn (which ended with the daughter being slammed into the ground and yell at her mother about hating this damn sport), she just shook her head.

Humans, what bizarre creatures. She could speak like them, but she could never hope to ever think like them.

Oh well, they were about to head off anyway. They were going to be leaving this region soon after all.


 

Team Rocket HQ, a few days later

Giovanni, the most powerful crime boss in four regions, and rather high on the International Police's wanted list, frowned as he found himself surrounded by hundreds of holographic screens, each displaying a different event involving bloodliners, or seeming to in some way or another that had popped up in the news within the last few years.

While the connections there were vague, they were far more realistic than those conspiracy theorists who kept insisting on trying to exorcise Voltorb.

"In Mahogany Town in the Johto region, the local Pokémart was burned down during a confrontation between a bloodliner and local policemen." The burned remains of the near global chain still seemed to smolder as police tape surrounded the scene. "Mahogany Town born representative Frederick Swietenia, a well-known anti-bloodliner member of the Johto Diet has scheduled a press conference for later today, likely to reveal new plans to draft further bloodliner control legislation..."

'And not bother to look into who started it,' Giovanni snarked to himself, before turning to a different holographic display.

"...continuing our coverage into the recent murders of several Canalave City area scholars, recent evidence has revealed the origin of several anti-forensics techniques employed. Based on data provided, the murders were quickly followed by the destruction of the scholar's residencies via a Water Pulse, Giga Drain and Will-O-Wisp attack, seemingly in an attempt to destroy as much research as possible. The scholars, all members of a think tank dedicated to the understanding of legendary Pokémon, are known for publishing several works on the habits and behaviors of the legendary beasts of Johto and legendary birds of Kanto, and had recently begun looking into the dragons behind several myths in Sinnoh and Unova..." An older report taking place in a nice looking forested property on the coast, with a sizeable pile of rubble in the center.

'50/50 to whose responsible for that one,' Giovanni decided on its relevance.

"Coming up next on Vulpix news, an interview with Doctor Yung..."

BEEP BEEP!

The alarm for a communication from the Trio assigned to observe the boy went off, ending his train of thought as he had all his (personal) research be minimized out of the view as a single video screen replaced them, displaying the grunt known as James running on a treadmill (dressed like some new age fitness person).

The man's Koffing (with a sweatband on its forehead for no apparent reason), was floating next to him in front of a fan that was blowing air at it, in the sort of thing that one might use to create a makeshift treadmill for a Pokémon such as Koffing, however useless it might look.

"You may speak, but first tell me...what on earth are you doing?"

"Training sir, the kid you asked us to stalk..." Giovanni felt a headache coming on at that remark "...has currently stopped for some training, we have Meowth on the case, so the two of us decided to get some training in. The kid's getting strong sir, very strong, and very quickly. We need to be able to keep up with him, and I'm sure once this Battle Club quality Koffing speed training is complete, my Koffing will be able to do just that."

Giovanni frowned, the idea of his minions bettering themselves was both a good thing, and unnerving at the same time. There was a reason he preferred his grunts to use common Poison and Normal-types after all (it was much easier to control your underlings when they were mostly armed with Ekans and Rattata).

Though, he supposed the trio's odd amount of loyalty to him could counterbalance this concern.

"The two of us you say? May I ask where your compatriot has gotten herself off too?" Giovanni inquired as James smiled.

"Oh, she had the most marvelous idea. Tell me sir, have you ever heard of the Hoenn gym leader Juan?"

Giovanni responded to that name with a haunted look, remembering the last international gym leader tournament when he faced that man. His flamboyant persona had grated on Giovanni's nerves the entire time talking about the beauty of a Pokémon's inner self or some rubbish like that. It didn't help when combined with what happened the last time they'd faced each other.

"Yes, I know of him," Giovanni stated gravely, resisting the urge to rub his temple in an attempt to banish the memories of the Hoenn gym leader.

"They say he's considered the sixth strongest gym leader in the regions because he combines his battling skills with the finesse and unpredictability of a Pokémon Coordinator, so Jessie decided to go enter a Pokémon contest with her Ekans to try and pick up those tricks herself. She didn't do too badly for her first time, she apparently managed to get past the first round and did a decent showing in the second before being defeated. But just think of the potential sir, your very own battle ace coordinator, just like Juan!"

Giovanni made a face that would be appropriate to one who had to hear about an annoying legend from the 12th century at the repeat of that name "Very well, continue as you see fit. Giovanni out."

The communications deactivated as the most powerful crime boss in Kanto immediately went for his liquor cabinet. Giovanni took out a decanter filled with 150 year old Scotch, poured some into a crystal tumbler before downing it in one mouthful.

Damn that Juan...damn him.


 

Route 104

As a somewhat annoyed Charmander's Ember attack failed against Pikachu's defense, the two ceased their activities (Charmander attacking and Pikachu performing a rotation on the ground while releasing electrical energies via the Counter Shield), to the applause of the observing Pokémon (Bulbasaur, Squirtle, Aipom and Pidgeotto).

Ash had brought Krabby on to the team earlier. Krabby, who had the situation explained to him in full, was asked to focus on his training at Oak's lab. It had worked out last time, and he would prefer to do so again.

Considering that Butterfree had never been to Oak's lab before, it also gave him an experienced tour guide for his visit.

"...Char." 'It still looks ridiculous.' Charmander was adamant on his opinion of the Counter Shield.

"Well, your tail would make it difficult for you to do it anyway," Ash pointed out, seeing the physical limitations that would keep Charmander from performing the technique. "So you don't have to be anything more than the guy who tests its ability to block."

Bulbasaur looked contemplative. "Bulba?" 'It is a decent technique, though I cannot help but wonder why I don't seeing any of your Unovan Pokémon using it themselves?"

Recalling his own attempts to teach his Unovan Pokémon how to use the Counter Shield (and the mental images of a dizzy Oshawott, Tepig rolled over on his back and unable to get back up and Snivy giving him a death glare, in particular that had resulted), Ash responded to the question with a flat. "It, didn't work out that well when I tried. I mean, Leavanny had some potential for pulling it off, but I didn't really have the time to really go into it. I had a lot on my mind at the time, like Brycen and Roxie… and Team Rocket going crazy...and the League...and Team Plasma...and the Genesect..."

It was odd. In Johto and Sinnoh, he had so much time to play around with ideas like the Counter Shield, though he wasn't really smart enough to do so back in Johto. In leagues like Hoenn and Unova, he really didn't have the time to do it.

"Okay, let's see what you guys can do. Charmander and Butterfree, you two are on test attack duty." Wings made the Counter Shield tricky. "Butterfree, try to turn Confusion into Psybeam, Charmander keep practicing Ember."

By the end of the day Pikachu's Counter Shield had been fully de-rusted, Aipom was nearly there, Squirtle was looking promising by rotating while withdrawn in his shell and firing a Water Gun like his Hydro Pump used to be, while Bulbasaur... well he made them swear never to talk about how many times he had been blasted into tree hollows trying to get that technique to work. All the while begging to never get it taught to him again. Instead it was decided that Bulbasaur could spin Vine Whip around himself to deflect any on-oncoming attacks.


 

A bit later

When Ash had dashed off to save Misty, he ended up leaving a lot of stuff behind.

While no one had stolen it, there had been wild Pokémon in the area, including quite a few Bug-type Pokémon who left rather sizeable moth holes in their tents (or was it Weedle/Caterpie/etc. holes?), thankfully just their tents though.

Tents, being rather expensive (and Misty not wanting to stay in Cerulean long enough to get new ones), were no longer an option.

Thankfully for them, there was another option for trainer nights out of civilization that minimized one’s risk of having their blood sucked by wandering Golbat.

Standing before two trees, Psyduck proceeded to bow honorably, before glowing purple and punching the nearby trees at the same time. The trees shook, as energy reshaped its branches and structural integrity into something that someone could sleep in/live in/jump out of and scare unaware passersby with.

Also known as...

"Duck." 'Two secret bases for your accommodations tonight, sir and almost respected madam who should feed me more. You know, this would be a lot easier for me if you two would just mate and move into the same nest. I mean honestly...why not?'

Misty just glared at the duck, though not without blushing a bit. Psyduck's ability to use Secret Power to create was the only reason she had not sent him to stay with/bother the Professor along with Goldeen and Horsea (with the Gyarados Ash had caught for her that she had once befriended now being active).

It was rather kind of him to use one of her own Pokéballs to do it. How many trainers, at the idea of having their very own Gyarados that was rather tame, would have caught it themselves?

It was something she greatly appreciated. Though if he had caught it, perhaps they could have simply traded him over to her in exchange for Psyduck... And with that thought Misty drifted off to sleep.

...

"Gyarados, let's end this with Water Pulse!"

Forming the massive blue orb in front of its face, Gyarados let loose the powerful blast right at her challenger's Pinsir (That looked far more grotesque than it actually did), blasting it straight across the battlefield and smashing it into a wall, where it lay defeated.

"Pinsir is unable to battle, the winner is Gyarados! The victory goes to the gym leader, Misty!"

...

"Misty, is it true you plan to enter the Pokémon League in order to challenge for a spot on the Elite Four!?"

"Are you going to use your Kyogre or Suicune?!"

"Who do you want to bump off from the Elite Four? Bruno!? Lorelei? Agatha!?"

Dream Misty (as Misty did sort of realize this was a dream when she noticed her opponent was using unusually grotesque looking Bug-types instead of Grass or Electric-types), who appeared to have aged to thirty five and was dressed in a light blue one-piece swimsuit with jacket (A/N, her Gen 4 design) that made her look stunningly attractive, just blushed as she was swarmed by paparazzi "One at a time, one a time please. As to the first three questions: Yes, no, and I don't know. I want to win the whole thing first, but do it fairly. What sort of win would it be for Water Pokémon if I just used Kyogre on everything?"

"I've been preparing for the Elite Four challenge for years now, even since I took back my family's gym when I was eighteen. Since then, I've had to get it back to working order after my sister's all but ruined it. It's been a lot of hard work, all I can say for certain is that I feel like I am leaving my gym in good hands if and when I join the Elite Four. Now, any more questions?"

...

"...I don't know if I'm ready for this Mom, I really don't. I mean, you're so good and I'm...I'm just me. That weak bug guy beat me like I was nothing."

"Oh, don't worry dear. You were using your Starmie, and you took down three of them first. All you have left to do is gain more experience, and you're sure to get all the experience your need in no time Cordelia," Misty said running a hand through her daughter’s hair.

Misty had no idea why it was that in all her dreams she had of what her future could bring, her child (and only child at that), was named Cordelia. Perhaps it was some inner part of her who simply believed that any and all types of siblings were naturally going to have just as toxic a relationship as she had with hers. Perhaps she just really liked the name Cordelia and didn't want to even consider naming a child of hers in the same way as her parents did (Rose, Petunia, Tulip, Rhododendron...), Misty really had no idea. She was, after all, no psychologist.

Cordelia generally appeared the same way (for the most part) in her dreams: a taller version of herself at her current age at the time of the dream. There was always some slight...areas of variation with her though. Then again, as Misty had never really had a person who she really felt like she was forever destined to be with, that was probably just her mind factoring in the theoretical father of Cordelia.

Placing her hand on her daughter's shoulders and smiling, Misty continued. "Everyone starts as a rookie at some point. We all make mistakes. We learn from them, and make ourselves better from them. Going forward, is the only way to live."

...

Misty woke up as that line ended, to find Psyduck staring over her, looking rather relieved.

"Duck." 'Oh, good, you woke up on your own. For a minute there, I was worried I would have to do it then you might strangle me until you remembered you asked me to wake you up. Again.'

Misty would have rolled her eyes at her semi-aquatic (though not really) long-time companion, but she simply yawned; garbed only in an oversized T shirt (light blue and featuring a slightly faded Lorelei posed with her Dewgong and Jynx).

'Going forward being the only way to live' it was the only way to live. There was no point dwelling on the past, the only way to go was constantly working towards the future.

To dwell on your past, was only to invite further pain.

All that mattered, was obtaining your dream. Getting to that point where your life was exactly how you wanted it to be, your dream job, friends, family, everything.

Such thoughts remained in her mind a few hours later, as she put her fishing line into the nearby stream with a look of concentration on her face.

There was a tug on the line, and with a hard yank Misty pulled with all her might causing the hooked Poliwrath to burst out of the water, startling the nearby Psyduck.

"PSY!?" 'What, a wild Poliwrath!?'

Misty wasn't quite as surprised, this sort of thing could happen after all. Wild populations of Pokémon that people generally considered to be 'evolve in captivity only', like Machamp or Gallade, could in fact be found in the wild. They were just rare occurrences.

In fact, stone evolutions of wild Pokémon were actually more common than wild evolutions by other forms. Of course, the question of if wild Raichu and Vileplume were intentional or accidental on the Pokémon's part, as well as how exactly a wild Graveler or Kadabra evolves was still being researched by scientists, particularly Professor Rowan.

Now, Misty had actually been hoping to go for something more, purely aquatic here (she did have to catch a Magikarp at some point after all). However, it was her goal to capture one of every Water-type, and this was in fact a Water-type.

Said Water-type attempted to smack her in the face with Wake-Up-Slap, but Misty limberly avoided it by bending over, allowing the attack to pass right over the top her though it did skim across her stomach.

While she could simply control the Poliwrath with her powers, she could tell that unlike her Goldeen, this Pokémon had pride. It also wasn't struggling for space or food, so it was, by all standards, happy with its current life.

To simply make the Poliwrath catch itself would cause a lot of issues down the road.

Battling it was the only way to capture it, and allow it to retain a sense of self pride.

Now, she could use Psyduck here...but then again, she wanted to capture it, not give it something to workout with like a yellow, and rather annoying, dumbbell.

(Plus, the Duck was cowering at the moment, flinched without even a Headbutt attack to cause it.)

So, it would be done by one of her other battlers...

"Gyarados, use Dragon Rage!"

Spiraling out of its ball in a huge burst of white light, the Gyarados landed in the streambed with a loud splash, before charging up the ball of blue light in its jaw and letting it fly loose.

The blast struck into Poliwrath, knocking it down after its failed attempt to strike Misty.

The Poliwrath, its back now slightly burned by the power of the blast, pushed itself back up and turned to the Gyarados glaring at it.

"Poli!" 'I am the king of this stream, human and human pet! I have sired a thousand Poliwag, who had grown to become 700 strong Poliwhirl bearing my powerful genetics. I am the pinnacle of this stream's potential! Leave at once or face my wrath!'

Gyarados roared back, in a statement that basically translated into 'I am a Gyarados, do what I say [be captured by my trainer], or I will blow all of your shit up, bad puns about wrath or not.'

Poliwrath didn't take the warning seriously, and it charged forward to strike with the full force of a massive, orange glowing Dynamic Punch.

Gyarados simply nuked the Poliwrath some more with Dragon Rage. It promptly did so three more times, just to make sure it stayed down.

Misty smirked at her old friend's good work. The Poliwrath was sufficiently weakened, now being unable to resist when she threw her Pokéball at it.

The capture was thus complete.

She turned to her powerful creature and smiled. "Thank you Gyarados, you're the best."

Gyarados roared in happiness, causing several nearby colonies of Pidgey to fly away in fright.

Psyduck poked his head from behind the rocks. "Psy-y-y." '….I liked my life better when she didn't have a giant killer sea serpent on hand.'

Gyarados merely roared again in joy, oblivious to what Psyduck had said.


 

Around the same time

"Work...work...activate!"

Pikachu and Bulbasaur sweat-dropped at Ash's antics. Charmander simply ignored it to continue to use Metal Claw on a nearby tree, while Squirtle was having Aipom and Pidgeotto try and break through his now perfected Counter Shield.

"Lucario, I release you!"

"Lucario, I choose you!"

"Lucario Staff, Transform!"

"I summon Lucario!"

"Lucario, Set Up!"

"Lucario, SHAZAM!"

"Lu, Lu, Lu, Lucario, HOOOO!"

Bulbasaur used Vine Whip on Ash's forehead to get him to stop after that last, overly dramatic one (complete with posing).

"Pikapi." 'Ash, simply pointing the staff at something, or dramatically slamming it into the ground while saying something badass sounding is not going to let Lucario out of it. It just...makes you look like a wannabe,' Pikachu stated the truth as Ash groaned in frustration before swinging the staff, causing it to retract into something you could simply attach to your belt (or throw in your bag) with ease.

"...I know, but it's just so...frustrating Pikachu. I mean, last time I just had to hold it for a while, and Lucario got out on his own. Now, even though he's in there...I can't get him out."

He tried rubbing it like a genie's lamp. He tried keeping it on him at all times. He even tried to figure out if there was an activation phrase...still nothing.

Worryingly, he was making more sense of the staff than his attempts to figure out exactly what happened at the Cerulean Gym. He couldn't manage to spontaneously increase his Pokémon's power...his attempts just made him look constipated (according to Pikachu).

There had to be a way to get Lucario out of there, then at least he could have someone who could offer some possible insight into it, or at the very least free him up from trying to free Lucario, thus giving him more time to try and get it to work...

"Hey, you!"

Ash turned around to see a somewhat familiar face approaching him.

The kid with the Sandshrew he had met that time...whose name was totally escaping him at the moment. Alex? Johnny? Something between the two...

"Um, me?" Ash asked in curiosity as the trainer and Sandshrew adopted identical looks of superiority.

"You're my number 100."

"Um..." What that meant was sort of escaping him at the moment.

"I plan to challenge the Pokémon League once I get 100 victories, and you're going to be number 100! So, who do you plan to have my Sandshrew beat?!"

Charmander looked ready to fight, but Ash held his hand up to stop him. Even if he couldn't quite remember exactly what happened with this guy, Ash did believe he was defeated by him.

He hoped to rectify that, and while Charmander was tough, there was type advantage to consider.

Plus, he hadn't gotten a chance to battle with Squirtle yet.

"Squirtle, you're up!" he yelled as his turtle ran over in a rather motivated fashion as the Sandshrew guy simply smirked.

"Let's get this started then...Sandshrew use Poison Sting!" With a yowl the Ground-type let loose a barrage of stinging barbs right at Squirtle.

"Block with Withdraw, before going into Water Gun!" Ash called for as Squirtle retreated into his shell, allowing the barbs to be knocked away, before coming right out and firing a blast of water right at the Ground-type, who blocked it with his arm without much of a wince.

"Huh!?" Ash and all collective Pokémon present who were not Sandshrew gasped in surprise as the kid smirked.

"Water is a Ground-type's biggest weakness, so we trained to maximize his special defense!"

Oh, it was that guy...

"Now, let's end this with Fissure!"

The Sandshrew punched the ground, causing a massive crack to form and snake its way towards Squirtle.

"Dodge it to the side, then launch another Water Gun!"

With an affirmative nod, Squirtle leapt to the right of the crack and let loose a solid stream of water right into Sandshrew again, who took the hit (though with more fatigue).

"That's not going to work! Now, Rock Tomb!"

Forming a dozen spiraling stones around itself, Sandshrew sent them all flying at Squirtle, who tensed knowing that Ash would have an idea to deal with what was happening.

"Block them with Counter Shield!"

"Counter what?!"

Squirtle retreated into his shell, though on its back as oppose to its regular position due to pre-withdrawal motions, before starting to spin, while at the same time using Water Gun from inside the shell like he once used Hydro Pump.

The water spiraled around Squirtle as a barrier, catching all the stones and knocking them to the side surprising the trainer opposite him.

"Impossible...!"

"Nope, just our own special training! Now Squirtle, get it with Tackle!"

Squirtle stuck his tail out, using it to force itself back upright before fully withdrawing, and charged right into Sandshrew, slamming into it with full turtle force.

The Ground-type was knocked back a few feet as Squirtle had a pretty good idea of what would follow.

"Now, close range Water Gun!"

With a blast of water at close range, Sandshrew was blasted back with tremendous force right next to his startled trainer, KO'd.

The utterly astonished trainer (who Ash was all but sure that his name was A.J now that he thought about it a bit), just fell to his knees in shock. "But...all that training..."

Ash walked over to his defeated opponent to offer some advice "It paid off. Your Sandshrew was tough being able to take that many super effective strikes. I mean, it had enough power to have easily won you a badge at the Cerulean Gym...of course it's no longer open so that's not really an option. But still, you could easily win your first badge with that Sandshrew at this point, and probably quite a few badges after that. 99 wins is still 99 wins, you're more than ready to go for the league at this point."

A.J picked up his defeated Sandshrew in wonder at Ash's kind words. "You really think so?"

"I know so. You'll get even stronger by not standing in one place, but by experiencing new things. If you want to be the best, put yourself up against everyone you meet as you travel this region."

A.J nodded in affirmation. "I guess I can always count capturing my Beedrill and Butterfree as my missing win anyway..." He noted Ash curiously. "You have gym badges of your own I take it?" Ash nodded, showing him his two badges in his jacket (even if they technically were nine, but no need to brag about it. Cerulean wasn't really brag worthy anyway). "Well then, I'll guess I'll see you at the Pokémon League then."

Ash smiled, though he couldn't help but wonder if A.J had actually made it to the league last time (and for that matter, what about Otoshi? Or at least that was what Ash thought the Marowak guy's name was.) "I guess I will."


 

Vermillion City

Ash felt really good about this upcoming gym battle.

Pikachu already knew all of the necessary speed attacks to outwit Raichu if it was a repeat of last time, and if it wasn't, he had a solid team on him at the moment to back him up.

Bulbasaur would be able to resist electrical attacks, Aipom could dodge them, Charmander would simply blast his way through everything in his way, Squirtle would be able to counter with Counter Shield and Butterfree could use Sleep Powder if all else failed (having swapped out Pidgeotto for a break, and the fact that Pidgeotto didn't really have any good tricks to deal with Electric-types)

Approaching the door to the Vermillion gym, the trio of himself, Misty and Pikachu entered, a look of confidence on all their faces.

There was absolutely nothing that could shake Ash's confidence today.

The pair of punks guarding the door did cause them to stop, however.

"Alright kid, whad'ya want?" one of the punks demanded as Ash opened up his jacket, revealing his two badges.

The punks noted the badges, before smirking.

"You're in luck kid, the Lieutenant hasn't had a third badge challenger today, not since that arrogant twerp with the Wartortle and that kid with the little cheerleader squad passed through a few days ago." Ash felt a familiar feeling of annoyance at the fact that Gary was still ahead of him, even in a new timeline with no car. "The current challenger is fighting for his second badge, so you can go right after him. Of course, you might get scared and run home to your mama after seeing what he's capable of."

"But first," the second punk grinned as he removed his own Pokéball, followed by his companion, "you have to beat us in a battle. Go, Magnemite!"


 

5 minutes later

"Magnemite, the Magnet Pokémon. During the era of feuding Kanto warlords, Magnemite were prized for their rare Steel typing, allowing them to avoid the lethal poisons of many of Kanto's native Pokémon. However, their weakness to Fire is well documented, and they are known to be teethed on by growing Charmander," the Dex snarked as Ash's Charmander in fact chewed on Magnemite's left magnet after having beaten off both the punks Magnemite.

"Alright, alright, you’re tough enough, now call off that thing!" the punks wailed as Ash begrudged them, and having Charmander stop asserting his dominance by leaving bite marks on the Electric-types.

Once Charmander was back in his ball (along with the nibbled on Magnemite), the punks opened the door to the gym quickly, revealing a familiar looking boxing ring (though with more light and seating, unlike the last time), with Lt. Surge, (still as inexplicably huge as ever) laughing like a madman as his Voltorb was flying around (looking like it had used Magnet Rise), while firing off dozens of sonic boom attacks on the Pokémon below while the guy was shouting about 'AERIAL BOMBARBMENT!' or something like that.

Ash really had no clue what the point of the loudly named attack was, but it looked rather effective, and as soon as the dust cleared and the levitating Voltorb returned to Lt. Surge's side, a rather beat up Dugtrio was all that was left.

"Dugtrio is unable to battle, the winner is Voltorb!"

The trainer in question returned Dugtrio as Lt. Surge laughed.

"You know, people always think they can simply beat me with Ground-types! Hahaha, I'm not so easily stopped. Type means nothing in war kid; all that matters is quality. That Dugtrio of yours didn't have any, tell me, do you have any that do?"

The kid, who had been silently glaring at his Pokéball for Surge's entire speech, simply moved for a second one. The kid stood in hidden in a shadow, so Ash wasn't able to see any of his features

"Oh, I have quality alright," the trainer said in a voice that caused alarm bells to ring in both Ash and Pikachu's minds. It was an angry bark that they'd heard many times before. "Pikachu, standby for battle!"

Chapter Text

Vermillion City.

Paul.

In his time, Ash had many rivals, though out of them all three stood out.

Trip, his main rival in Unova was a more intelligent trainer than Ash was (even if Ash wasn't having a massive brain fart, which he seemed to have a lot of those in Unova, especially early on. Perhaps there was something in the air that didn't agree with him there?), but he seemed to lack a certain...sharpness, in his battles. Plus his tendency to look down on people from other regions gave him a very annoying quality, though it was fairly easy to ignore in most situations.

At least in Ash's opinion, a match between Bianca and, say, Paul...would end with a crying Bianca nearly all the time while Paul barked insults at her.

His first rival, Gary, was a childhood friend who became rivals over time. Like Trip, Ash was not going to go out of his way to deny that Gary was more intelligent than he was.

As much as he hated to admit it, Gary was smart.

He had most of his traits in higher qualities as well, but this also included arrogance. Until Gary had lost to Ash in the Pokémon League's fourth round, he was arrogant. As bad as Ash had to admit he could get, Gary made him seem as cocky as Maylene after Paul was done with her.

Even then, however, he was actually decently friendly with Gary, particularly after Kanto.

Paul, however...

Paul was, to put it bluntly, a jerk. A rather skilled jerk, but a jerk nonetheless.

He was pretty much his antithesis. Like a Fire version of Misty who was the older sibling, an Ice using version of Iris who acted childish with a mature center, or a female version of Brock who eyed males without overdoing it.

And he was here...with a Pikachu.

A female Pikachu, if Ash recalled what he understand about heart shaped tails to be correct.

That was just...wrong.

Like, that time Harley dressed like May (or Team Rocket dressing like him and his friends) wrong. Ash visibly shuddered at the memory and hoped he wouldn't have to see that ever again, the memory was much more than he needed.

"Pikachu, the Mouse Pokémon. Pikachu are able to generate electricity via electrical sacks in their cheeks, and can add more electrical energies to their bodies via eating wires and absorbing ambient static electricity. Pikachu adore Ketchup for undisclosed reasons." The Pokédex decided to chime in. "I remind you of this because repetition is helpful, particularly when around people who haven't seen that Pokémon themselves."

Roxie's Koffing briefly came to mind for some reason when the Pokédex commented for itself. The Pokédex' explanation of repeating Dex entries gave Ash an out for scanning multiple Pokémon of the same species a lot over the years when he really had no reason too.

"Other Pokédex detected...Rowan brand Pokédex detected. Scanning, scanning...oh, what an underdeveloped personality matrix the thing has. It doesn't even have the ability to snark." Ash tried really hard not to envy Paul at the moment. "Oh, a DexNav!? Must assimilate functionality...permission to commence download?"

"Whatever makes you less likely to complain" Ash hushed the damn thing.

"Very good. Commence download...sending data for possible personality matrix as well. Data options: cheerleader, yamato nadeshiko, helium abuser, hillbilly, Jiminy Cricket..."

Ash at that point was just trying to ignore it and focus on the battle.

He idly noticed Pikachu staring at the female one in a ponderous way, the female Pikachu looking around nervously and seemed rather scared of the Voltorb before her. Then Paul glared at her and she seemed to steel her nerves, at least externally.

"Alright kid, time to resume the AIR RAID!" Lt. Surge felt the need to shout the last one louder than normal "Voltorb, unleash the second wave, AERIAL BOMBARDMENT!"

Voltorb flew into the sky ready to start blasting Paul's Pikachu like a crazy person again.

Paul seemed ready for it, as opposed to last time.

"Strike it down with Quick attack!"

As a white sheen formed around her, Paul's Pikachu lunged right at the Voltorb before it could start firing, knocking it out of the sky and causing it to roll across the field in a daze.

"Wha! Clever little sneak kid, but you can't stop my war machine that easily! Voltorb, Electro Ball!" Surge countered as an electrical ball began to form over top Voltorb's head.

"Stop it with Thundershock!" Paul snapped

"Pika-CHU!"

The thin electrical bands slammed right into the developing Electro Ball, causing it to detonate right over Voltorb's head in an explosion that left a huge smoke cloud in its wake.

"Hmph. Funny thing about war machines...munitions explode," Paul snarked, the corner of his mouth twitched as he stopped a smirk forming on his face, keeping his ever-present scowl in place. Surge rose an eyebrow at Paul's remark.

"Oh really?"

The Electro Ball flung from the smoke, slamming right into Paul's Pikachu and knocking her back a sizeable distance even as the smoke cleared to a KO’ed Voltorb.

"Voltorb is unable to battle, the winner is Pikachu!"

Returning Voltorb, Surge did not seem that upset with its defeat "You know kid, in war you never should let your guard down. My Voltorb had fulfilled its mission to deal with your Ground-type, yet it still managed to land a pretty good hit on your little Pikachu there before you beat it. When it comes to getting out an Electro Ball Sniper Strike, my Voltorb and Electrode are second to none! Even if they fall in their mission, their attacks will still aim true!"

Paul didn't give much thought to the damage Pikachu had taken from the Electro Ball. "Electro Ball is a pathetic and unreliable attack only complete noobs would ever use.” Ash and Pikachu barely resisted the urge to yell at Paul for that comment. “At the same time, would you stop shouting out stupid things like Aerial Bombardment and Sniper Strike? It makes you sound pathetic!"

There it was, Paul's favorite word.

"Kid, are you a veteran of war? Better question, are you a Gym Leader? What gives you the right to call my methods, 'pathetic'? In war kid, you need to think outside the box. If you fight in a predictable manner, you're never going to win. Why do you think insurgents are such pains to deal with!?" Lt. Surge countered. "If they were ever predictable, they'd be wiped out quickly."

"As a gym leader, a position I earned through years of mastering the behavior and power of the electric type during the war after they saved my life!"

Ash felt a bit of shock come on when he realized that Lt. Surge was rather old (Considering the last true war he was aware of was at least forty years ago. Did that make Lt. Surge fifty-eight or something? He didn't even look older than in the other timeline!)

Perhaps whatever kept him ten for...however long it was, also kept Surge young. Although seeing Surge's eyes held the toll of years of war clearly, it was clear to see that Surge had seen things that still haunted him. The deaths of comrades, friends, both human and Pokémon clung to his soul and memory. There was something else in Surge's eyes, an anger towards Paul for the way he treated people and Pokémon.

"It's my job to hand out badges to trainers with the skill to defeat me, and you haven't shown that yet kid. I mean, I may be down one Pokémon, but so are you, and your little Pikachu has taken damage. I don't part with my badges so easily kid, especially not to punks like you, now show him what I mean, Magnemite!"

Lt. Surge's own Magnemite appeared on the battlefield, as Misty couldn't help but chime in.

"Yikes, these two aren't getting along at all, are they? I mean, when you fought Brock, it at least felt like the two of you respected the other, but here..."

She had no idea how Ash was with her sisters though. Perhaps this sort of battle was the norm for gym leaders and challengers?

"Well, from what I can tell, the challenger's just a jerk," Ash told her truthfully.

"Begin!"

"Brick Break!"

Female Pikachu's paw glowed white as she lunged towards the Magnemite.

So, Pikachu could in fact use Brick Break!

"Counter with Supersonic!" Lt. Surge countered the fighting attack by having Magnemite release a sonic attack right in the path of Pikachu.

"Avoid it!"

Paul's Pikachu avoided the sonic attack, before speeding right into the Magnemite with a massive smash with Brick Break.

Super-effective against the part-steel Magnemite.

However, it wasn't going to be that easy.

"Sonic Boom counter attack, go!" Magnemite's magnets spun as they started to glow with white energy, a slight whine could be heard if you listened hard enough.

The sound attack was unleashed right in fem Pikachu's face, causing her to be blasted back further in a disoriented mess.

"Sonic Boom is a particularly devastating attack early in a trainer’s journey," the Pokédex noted.

"Let's end this Magnemite, send in the sniper blast! Use Charge Beam!" The electrical attack began to charge in front of Magnemite.

"Strike his little Pikachu in the whites of her eyes!"

"Magnemite!" with the steel type's declaration, the blast was fired.

Paul responded with a single word, surprisingly not his favorite one.

"Dig."

Punching the ground quickly, Paul's Pikachu avoided the attack by going underground.

"Huh, Pikachu can use Dig?" Ash was rather surprised. It was amazing, all his time with Pikachu and he never realized that.

"I'm pretty sure I gave you a lecture on Pikachu's moveset a while ago," the Pokédex reminded him. "You really should remember these sorts of things"

"Pika...pika...chu..." 'Dig...a fighting attack...hmmmm.' Pikachu felt as though this Pikachu was familiar someone.

But where?

"Magnemite, Sonic Boom the ground! Let loose the dogs..."

Pikachu burst out of the ground and smashed into Magnemite before Lt. Surge could finish.

"Hmph, rants take precious time you didn't have," Paul sneered as Magnemite was knocked to the ground, dizzy eyed and defeated.

"Magnemite is unable to battle, the winner is Pikachu!"

"So, what was it you were saying about skill?" Paul sneered as Lt. Surge returned his Magnemite.

"You must be a riot at parties kid," was his sarcastic response. "The war ain't over yet kid, I still have my ace in the hole. Behold, the commander of all my second badge Pokémon, the Sergeant!"

With a final Pokéball throw, out came a large, orange mouse type. One that made the female Pikachu cringe in fear.

"Rai!"

"Raichu, the mouse Pokémon and the evolved form of Pikachu. Raichu's electrical sacks are more developed than those belonging to Pikachu, allowing it to unleash 10,000 volts of electricity. However, due to the nature of evolution stone radiation, they lose the ability to easily learn new skills. It is the sign of either a foolish or desperate trainer to evolve such Pokémon early, at least without the knowledge of how to teach them any moves manually."

Both Paul and Lt. Surge heard the Pokédex's summation.

"Well, well, well, another Professor Oak trainer. So, you're up after him, eh?" Lt. Surge looked interested at the very least. Paul...just looked like he was sizing him up. "Well, in my personal opinion, Pikachu doesn't learn too many crucial attacks after its first few levels, it's not a Nidoran or something like that! The knowledge from some old guy in a lab off in the Seafoam Islands won't get you two everywhere you know! You really do need to learn on your own, after all experience outranks everything."

"I feel insulted," the Pokédex muttered.

"So, preparing for your imminent loss I see." Paul smirked "Well, let's not keep the little twerp waiting, Pikachu use Dig!"

Lt. Surge didn't even bat an eye. "Grab her tail."

Just as Pikachu had punched the hole in the ground to dig, Raichu (The Sergeant apparently) had grabbed her by her tail and held her up in the air like a struggling fish.

"What!?"

"Now, Slam!"

With a harsh smash, Raichu slammed Paul's Pikachu to the ground, before crashing down right on top of her.

Pikachu, remembering his own encounter with Lt. Surge's Raichu (even if that Raichu was probably not the same one) felt her pain.

Oh so much of her pain, a phantom pain rolled across Pikachu's back as he mentally experienced his first battle with Raichu.

And so without striking even once, Pikachu was no longer able to move.

"Pikachu is unable to battle, the winner is Sergeant Raichu"

Without a word, but with his customary disapproving glance, Paul returned Pikachu.

"Okay mister, if you want my gym badge, you have to beat Sergeant Raichu. Hope you're not planning on throwing another Dugtrio at me, are ya? Or is it a Sandshrew? Perhaps a Bellsprout? Tell me little man, who’s left in your party who can take on my Raichu!? I mean, if all you have's a Farfetch'd, I'll at least grant you a dignified defeat!"

Paul held a Pokéball in his hand, one whose occupier Ash had a pretty good idea on. "Oh, I assure you. You have no idea what Pokémon I'm going to defeat you with."

Lt. Surge laughed. "Kid, you're not one of those wonder trader gamblers, are you? Because if you are, I assure you I'm not scared of some overgrown Kalos bunny rabbit."

Ash had no idea what Lt. Surge meant by wonder trader, another thing to add to his ever-growing list of things he needed to learn about this new world he was in.

Paul threw his ball, and quickly confirmed Ash's thought as the Pokémon inside began to take shape: a green and yellow turtle with hedges on its back.

"What sort of Pokémon is that?!" Misty had never seen one like that before.

"It's a Grotle..." Ash and Lt. Surge said at once in dual surprise.

"A whattle?"

"Grotle, the Grove Pokémon. Grotle are normally found near water, and are generally slow yet powerful Pokémon native to the Sinnoh region. They are the first evolved form of Turtwig, the Sinnoh grass starter Pokémon." the Pokédex explained for Misty's benefit.

"A Sinnoh starter...huh. Professor Rowan gave you a Starter Pokémon...hmmm, he must have lower standards than old Oak," Lt. Surge noted. "Regardless, don't think that just because you have a Pokémon that's not common around here, means that you're going to win. I'm a soldier, and I have trained all my Pokémon to react to such surprises."

"Begin!"

Raichu and Grotle stared each other down as Paul declared his attack.

"Razor Leaf, now!"

From the groves on Grotle's back flew a storm of leaves right at Raichu.

"Block 'em all with Power-Up Punch!" Lt. Surge countered as Raichu's fists both glowed orange. It then proceeded to rapidly strike at each and every leaf in range, blowing them all away.

Ash was oddly reminded of Stephan's strategy against Emolga's Attract.

Paul looked a little bothered by this, actually.

"Power-Up Punch increases the users attack power with each hit," the Pokédex reminded him. "Normally it is meant to be against the enemy’s body, but leaves work too. In the wild, some species will use Power-Up Punch on trees as part of a war dance for just that reason."

"Go in with a Mega Punch!" Raichu's right fist was now the only glowing limb, but now it was much brighter and larger than earlier, and it was running right at Grotle.

Ash could recall quite clearly that Grotle was not the nimblest of Pokémon. Grotle could not avoid this attack.

"Now, let's end this war once and for all Raichu!" Lt. Surge was aware of this as well, it would seem.

"Use Curse!" Paul countered as Grotle's body glowed an odd purple color, moments before impact right into Grotle, the impact causing the air itself to shake from the intensity of the blow.

Misty looked empathetic to Grotle for that hit, in a manner Ash wasn't sure he wanted to think about too hardly, lest he feel rage.

However, after the punch was thrown Grotle had not only tanked the hit, even if only by the skin of its teeth, but also its body began to glow with a green aura with Paul giving a wicked smirk, Lt. Surge looked concerned and Ash had a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach.

The feeling one got when you got back a low test score, the imminent feeling of doom.

Overgrow was active.

Grotle's grass attacks were going to become a lot more powerful, and Raichu was in point blank range.

"Use Razor Leaf!" Paul didn't miss a beat as Raichu looked rather terrified.

Considering that a tackle had broken Pidgeotto's wing a while back, and that her Steel Wing had similarly given a Rattata a concussion, Ash had a bad feeling that a super-powered razor leaf would be rather...unpleasant.

Lt. Surge seemed to think so as well, considering he had returned Sergeant Raichu to him moments before the Razor Leaf reached the poor thing, and said leaves promptly left some rather unnervingly large and deep gouge marks in the battlefield.

Returning his Raichu, Lt. Surge looked like he had taken a bite out of a rotten lemon. "Sometimes, I hate my job, but as a Gym Leader and a Lieutenant, it is my job to make the strategic call."

"Pathetic. Your Raichu possibly could have withstood that Razor Leaf." Paul looked disappointed that they didn't get to find out.

"I prefer my Raichu with four limbs and a tail," Lt. Surge pointed out. "No point in winning a battle, yet costing yourself the war. I'd ask you if you'd be willing to lose one of your Pokémon to win, but I probably won't like your answer. But, my opinions aside, you won. You'll get your badge...after I have the battle with the young man with the Pikachu and the dorky hat."

Ash decided to be dignified today and not react to the hat dissing.

Paul on the other hand...

"Hold up! I won, I want my badge now. I have things to do, and I don't need to watch some amateur lose today."

Lt. Surge idly checked something on his I-Phone. "You know kid, the guy's actually here for his third badge. You were here for a second badge gym battle, you're more of an amateur than he is."

Paul had a face that most people would have if you kicked their Growlithe. Considering it was Paul...hard to say what the closest thing would be for him.

….

He could feel Paul glaring at him as he and Pikachu stood ready to face Lt. Surge.

Did Paul realize his face could get stuck that way if he kept glaring like that?

"The gym battle between Lt. Surge the Gym Leader, and Ash of Pallet Town, will now begin. Both trainers can use up to three Pokémon, and the battle will be over when either side has no more Pokémon remaining. In addition, the Gym Leader may not substitute his Pokémon"

"Very well, let's get this started! Go, Private Volty!"

Ash and Pikachu just stared blankly at Lt. Surge throwing out his own female Pikachu, this one with a head band on it.

"Pika-Pikachu." 'I suddenly feel less original.' Pikachu missed the days where you never saw any other Pikachu, only Raichu and Pichu.

It was odd, yet oddly nice and he certainly was missing it right about now.

"So, what’d ya think? Ain't she lovely, she's a gift from an old war buddy of mine over in Kalos. Nice fellow...killed sixteen Oblivians with his Shuckle and a stick back during the war. Poor guy sadly doesn't age like I do." The last bit was said more to himself than anything else "So kid, what'd ya got?"

Ash briefly looked at Pikachu, whose look screamed 'I have dibs on Raichu and Raichu only'.

So, Pikachu wasn't a go then. That left Squirtle, Butterfree, Aipom, Bulbasaur and Charmander.

Considering that he knew quite well how fast Pikachu were, there was no point in trying to compete with speed (particularly considering the only non-Pikachu he had that could potentially do so was Pidgeotto, who wasn't here), he was going to have to play this smart.

"Bulbasaur, I choose you!"

The grass-type starter manifested in a burst of light before Lt. Surge, who looked amused.

"So, you're starting off with your starter," he assumed.

"Hmph." Paul didn't seem that impressed with the non-Ivysaur.

"Actually, he isn't," Ash admitted. Lt. Surge and Paul gave him differing looks on this: Lt. Surge looked rather impressed, while Paul gave him a look that was best summed up as annoyance that, in his mind, an inferior trainer managed such luck.

"Begin!"

"Time for a nice reminder that war isn't won by paper superiority, but tactics!" Surge stated with conviction. "Private, engage in enemy crippling!"

"Pika!"

Ash wasn't exactly sure what Surge meant at first (seeing as he did not speak military), but he noticed Volty rubbing her cheeks together in a manner he had seen Dedenne do when using Nuzzle before dashing right for Bulbasaur.

"Use Vine Whip to dodge!" Ash called for the counter. As Volty got near, Bulbasaur's vines pushed him off the ground and above the charging Pikachu, who was rather surprised.

Lt. Surge looked rather impressed. "Say kid, that's a pretty neat trick. On what battlefield did you learn that?"

"Use Razor Leaf!" 'You wouldn't believe me if I told you,' Ash thought though he didn't respond to the question, as it would come off as either arrogant or insane if he tried to answer. The leaves shot from Bulbasaur's bulb and down towards Volty like a hailstorm as Bulbasaur began to descend back down.

"Avoid and strike back with Quick Attack!" Surge countered as a white aura formed around Volty, just as the leaves struck.

"Bulba!" Bulbasaur let out a content grunt. Obviously, training with Pikachu was a good way to learn to counter other Pikachu's speed tactics.

The white streak of Pikachu still burst through the impact zone however, and right towards Bulbasaur's now grounded form.

"Razor Leaf!"

A sweeping barrage of leaves flew from Bulbasaur and right towards the speeding form of Pikachu, knocking Volty back and KO'd, her band (Muscle Band detected, muttered the Pokédex) of apparently no help today.

"Private Volty is unable to battle, the winner is Bulbasaur."

"Excellent work Bulbasaur!"

"Bulba!"

"Pikachu-Pika!"

"Way to go Ash and Bulbasaur!"

"Pathetic."

Paul broke the congratulating streak started by Ash, Bulbasaur, Pikachu and Misty as he was prone to do.

"That was not a victory worth celebrating." Paul pointed out as Lt. Surge returned Volty.

"Every victory in battle is worth celebrating after the battle is over." Lt. Surge spoke sagely. "Morale has decided the fate of more wars than you might think kid."

Pocketing Volty's ball for later, Surge removed a pair of Pokéballs from his belt, as if trying to figure out which one to deploy, before returning the one in his left hand to his belt.

"Now, this is normally when I use my Magneton or Voltorb. However, I think it's about time I send out of one my irregular corps".

Throwing the remaining Pokéball into the air, Ash began to mentally prepare for what was to come.

Electabuzz? Electrode? A second Raichu?

But he was wrong.

Very wrong. Lt. Surge's second Pokémon was...

Misty's scream of fright hammered home exactly what Lt. Surge had sent out against him (Paul's glaring was not very effective at silencing her).

"Joltik, the attaching Pokémon. Joltik attach themselves to electrically charged objects to grant themselves electrical properties. This Pokémon is native to Unova, and it surprises this unit that it would be here." The Pokédex summed up the big question of why Lt. Surge had the world's smallest Pokémon as his second.

The little yellow bug didn't really seem that Lt. Surgeish to Ash.

"Impressed, ain't ya? While Raichu is my favorite and strongest Pokémon, it's the Joltik that started me down my path of electrical mastery and are a close second." Lt. Surge grinned. "My first Pokémon was a Joltik, and I trained these tough little biters for the war. Man, if these fellows don't do some nasty things to those Ranger Union punks." The last bit was under his breath.

Ash didn't have much experience fighting Joltik. While his memory might be overlooking something, he was pretty sure his only experience in how a Joltik fought was Georgia's fight with one.

As he was not trying to fight the world's smallest and probably lightest Pokémon with a giant ice bear, he wasn't sure how much help that would be, bar a potential advisory tale not to use a Pokémon with vulnerabilities like Beartic, or potential counter measures by slamming oneself into the ground.

Of course, Ash hadn't exactly brought his Snorlax with him, so that probably would not be effective. In fact, the only strategy Ash could really think of to avoid it might be Counter-Shield.

And, seeing as Bulbasaur's grass-attacks would not be that effective due to Joltik's typing, Ash held up Bulbasaur's Pokéball "Bulbasaur..."

"Prevent the enemies escape Joltik, use Spider Web!"

"Jol!"

A white thread burst out of Joltik's mouth, flying into the air before forming into a sizeable webbing that blocked the Pokéball's energy stream. The webbing than shimmered and became invisible.

"No retreating for you! Now, Face-Hugger!"

"What kind of move is..."Ash started, before he and Bulbasaur managed to catch the fact that Joltik had lodged itself onto Bulbasaur's face, much to their mutual horror.

Apparently, it was a command. "Quickly, knock it off before it can..."

"Joltik, Bug Buzz!"

Joltik's body began to vibrate rapidly, as a powerful shockwave filtered through its body and right into Bulbasaur's.

Joltik hopped off Bulbasaur as the grass type was left avoiding a fall to the ground on shaky knees.

"Finish it with Shock Wave!"

Glowing yellow with electrical charge, a beam of electrical energy slammed right into Bulbasaur, bringing it down for Joltik's win.

"Bulbasaur is unable to battle, Joltik is the winner!"

"What a horrible little monster!" Misty exclaimed about Joltik, and for once Ash agreed with her fear of bugs.

That Joltik was a little horror!

While Paul made some scoffing quip in the background about his supposed stupidity, and Misty berating him for it, Ash returned Bulbasaur with a contemplative expression.

Joltik was not going to be a fun battle for whoever he sent out, and it looked like even Squirtle could be bad call, Counter-shield or no Counter-shield.

Now, who did that leave him with? Who could be the best counter to Joltik's bug and electrical attacks?

A memory surfaced in his mind of a battle in Hoenn that gave him some ideas.

"Charmander, I choose you!"

Up next was his battle-loving fire lizard, who stared at Joltik with some surprise.

"Char?" 'Wait, did one of us actually lose to that speck of dust? What madness is this!? I could eat that thing and not even feel it.'

"A Charmander!? So, let me guess, he's your starter, and your fall back guy is a Squirtle?"

"Nope," Ash simply replied as Paul's annoyance at a perceived fool having two+ starters was once again sensed. "Charmander, use Ember!"

"Evasive maneuvers!"

As the fiery sparks of ember flew across the battlefield in an attempt to strike the elusive foe, the small form of Joltik managed to avoid them with natural speed and the benefits of a small and nimble body.

With a final hop, it bounced up to the ceiling and held itself up there.

"Let loose a Shock Wave, Joltik!" Surge commanded as electricity began to form around Joltik again.

"Strike the ground with Metal Claw!"

Nodding in agreement to the shock of all observers, Charmander's claws glowed metallic white before stabbing the ground just as the attack hit.

The electricity was funneled through Charmander and into the ground via the steel technique, without damage.

So, once the barrage was let off by a tiring Joltik, Charmander stood up without any damage, much to every observer’s surprise.

"What!?" Paul was shocked something as crazy as that worked.

"Note to self, find counter." Lt. Surge muttered to himself.

"I should look into that trick," Misty mused, an image in her head of Wingull using Steel Wing for the same purpose.

Pointing right at Joltik, Charmander let loose a boast. "Charmander Char Char!" 'Your power, the power you absorb from everything but yourself, is useless against me. I am Charmander the invincible, Charmander the all-powerful, Charmander who will become the Charizard who defeats all! All in my path to greatness will be overcome by my indomitable power! Become a stepping stone in my path to glory!'

For some reason, Ash suddenly imagined Charmander with a pair of pointy shades. Perhaps Squirtle was going to lend him some in the future.

"Most rookies would have just tried to dodge that," Lt. Surge mused. "Oak sure knows how to pick some quality trainers. But don't think my Joltik is less than that quality wise. Joltik, Hidden Power!"

With a massive glowing green ball over its forehead, Joltik let loose the variable attack down towards Charmander.

"Bat it back with Metal Claw!"

With claws of steel once again, Charmander slammed the Hidden Power right back at the ceiling, causing the bug-type to dislodge and fall.

Ash realized the potential ramifications of something that small hitting the ground from that high, he was about to order Charmander to catch Joltik, but Lt. Surge beat him to it.

"Upgrade to Paratrooper Joltik, use Spider-Web!"

With a burst of spider-silk formed a miniature parachute, slowing Joltik's descent. Ash's relieved face was not missed by Surge.

"Give me some credit kid, I don't like soldiers dying under my command!"

Paul's 'seriously, you'd care if it died' glare bored into Ash and Pikachu's back.

Of course, now that he knew that he wasn't going to cause the death of an opponent today, Ash pointed right at the descending Joltik "Charmander, move in with Flame Charge!"

Charmander, who had been working on the move Pignite loved for a while now, nodded in agreement as he began to stomp the ground, stirring up an aura of flames around himself before charging towards the falling Joltik.

While it initially looked like Joltik would hit the ground before Charmander got there, a sudden burst of speed in the Flame Charge allowed Charmander to smash into Joltik before it could dodge, sending Joltik spinning into the air and landing at Lt. Surge's feet in defeat.

"Joltik is unable to battle, the winner is Charman..." The flames died away, revealing how the burst of speed was made. "Charmeleon!"

Ash and Pikachu both stared in impressed shock as they saw Charmeleon, now evolved and stronger (The Pokédex itself was so surprised it didn't spout off wisdom on Charmeleon’s in general), standing in the wake of victory with a pensive look on his face.

Perhaps he was contemplating the meaning of life via his new wisdom...

"Meleon." 'Damn, wish I could have evolved fighting something more badass. Officially, there were a thousand Joltiks in my way, with laser canons and dripping poison every step they took'.

Or not.

Returning Joltik, Lt. Surge looked impressed.

"Well, I guess even if I defeat you today kid, you're still a winner in some ways." Holding his last Pokéball in hand, he had a mad grin. "Of course, I have to wonder if you can actually defeat Staff Sergeant Raichu even with your fancy new Charmeleon?"

Charmeleon looked back towards Pikachu, who gave him a serious look in return. With that look, that shared sense of the honor of battle and the importance of this fight, a feeling that did not need to words to be expressed, the battle loving Fire-type walked over to Ash's side and stood there, as Pikachu hopped off Ash's shoulder for this final clash.

Probably under the assumption that Charmeleon would step in and kick Raichu's electrified tail if Pikachu lost.

"So, Electric-type to Electric type huh?" Lt. Surge looked amused as Paul muttered something about idiocy. "Well, this should be fun kid. Go, Staff Sergeant Raichu!"

A Raichu burst out of the ball, this time with a vest on it.

Pikachu and Ash gave confused looks to it, but otherwise paid it no further thought.

"Begin!"

"Pikachu, let's show them your newly perfected technique. Thunderbolt!"

"Pika-Chuuu!" 'This feels so good to do it again!" Having developed his electrical powers further to once again pull off their favorite attack, the electrical attack slammed right into Raichu, pushing it back a bit.

However, the damage itself inflicted was somewhat minimal to their shock, as the vest itself seemed to be the cause of it all.

"I see you haven't encountered an Assault Vest before, have ya?" Lt. Surge laughed merrily.

"A what?" Ash confirmed their assumption as the Pokédex chimed in.

"Assault Vests are a League-recognized hold item for Pokémon. A Pokémon using an Assault Vest is able to better resist special attacks, in exchange for the loss of the ability to use non-damaging attacks."

"Char." 'Remind me to get one of those.'

"So, that was your Thunderbolt? Pretty good kid, now feel mine!" A Thunderbolt flew off Surge's Raichu and slammed into Pikachu with similar force.

Pikachu, due to a lack of a vest was pushed back further than Raichu, though he bore the damage rather well.

"Follow up with Mega Punch!"

"Iron Tail!"

Raichu and Pikachu countered each-others attacks with their own, an orange fist and white tail matching each other in power.

However, Pikachu was able to use the impact of the blows to get a better angle than Raichu.

"Use Quick Attack!"

The speed attack slammed into Raichu's white stomach, causing the Raichu to stumble backwards. The vest didn't do much to absorb physical attacks after all.

"Focus Blast!" Lt. Surge declared as Raichu formed a glowing blue ball in its hands. Eyeing Pikachu, Ash didn't need to telepathically remind Pikachu of what to do next.

After all, Mr. 'Ursaring use Focus Blast' was in the room with them.

As the attack fired, the technique was called. "Counter-Shield!"

Spinning on the ground, an electrical wall was formed. The Focus Blast hit it, and was stuck.

Lt. Surge was rather impressed. It was a trick after his own heart. "Say kid, if we ever go to war, can I draft you?"

"Um...you'd have to ask my mother first, and fire!" Ash hoped that would dissuade him as the Focus Blast shattered and fired back right at Raichu, the attack hitting its owner like a laser armada from a space-epic. It hit with the force of the Focus Blast plus added momentum and electrical power from the Counter-Shield.

Sure, the Assault Vest softened the damage, but it was impressive none the less.

"Don't worry kid, I'm an expert when it comes to wooing mothers." The look that crossed Surge's face made Ash feel oddly uncomfortable now. "Grass Knot."

The command was soft it almost didn't register to Ash, but Raichu's glowing green foot stomping the ground did.

As did the grass stalks that bound Pikachu's feet and tail just as it finished balancing himself back up from the Counter-Shield.

"Pi!?" 'Well, this guy's a little smarter than I remember him being'.

The original Lt. Surge probably would not have used something as subtle as Grass Knot.

"No more speed attacks kid, or twirling attacks." Lt. Surge pointed at Pikachu "Now, let's end this with Mega Punch!"

Raichu's fist glowing orange once more, Raichu dashed in towards the immobile Pikachu as Ash grit his teeth.

Charmeleon was preparing to enter the ring if this punch connected.

Only one option registered to Ash.

"Pikachu, it's all or nothing!"

Nodding in agreement, Pikachu grimaced. 'This will either work, or I'm going to need a good sulk.' He thought to himself as he put his two hands together and began charging up static electricity in the palm of his hand.

As Raichu got in close for the punch, the static had formed properly into the still tricky technique. A technique that Pikachu couldn't even fire properly.

However, he could smash with it.

"Pikachu, use Zap Cannon!"

The glowing electric ball in hand somewhat resembling an aura sphere, Pikachu slammed it right into Raichu's punch.

The attack canceling out Raichu's, static electricity covered the entirety of its body "Rai!"

"Holy Shit!" Lt. Surge swore.

Paul was gaping at them like they had just violated a law of the universe.

Misty shook her head in amusement.

With a burst of strength Pikachu tore the grass binding him and looked right at Raichu with a wicked grin.

"Let's end this once and for all Pikachu, Quick Attack!"

Pikachu charged once again into the belly of his foe. This time, Raichu fell to the ground in defeat.

"Staff Sergeant Raichu is unable to battle, the winner is Pikachu. The match goes to the challenger Ash of Pallet Town!"

Returning Raichu, Lt. Surge looked down looked down at both victorious challengers. Ash with his Pikachu and Charmeleon at his side grinning, and Paul with his scowl doing what it always seemed to do.

"Ash, I must say you are an inventive kid. You know how to counter me in ways that most of my war time opponents failed to do. I'd take you out there with me for battle anytime. Here," Handing Ash the Thunder Badge, "Let this be proof to the world that I approve of you."

While Ash cheered to himself, Pikachu and Charmeleon handing the resulting posing, Lt. Surge just threw Paul his badge.

"Here, you won. Now, go away." The Gym Leader said in a disinterested tone, barely sparing the Sinnoh trainer a glance.

While fresh off his victory, Ash wasn't able to counter quickly enough when a pair of oddly giggly girls ambushed them outside the gym, giving them tickets for the St. Anne, or figure out a good excuse to convince Misty not to go to that doomed boat.


 

Viridian Gym, a bit later

"Mankey is unable to battle, the winner is Rhyhorn. This first badge match victory goes to the gym leader, Giovanni!"

Giovanni detested he had to put up with weaklings like this, but there was a Gym inspector in the area after all, and the Pokémon gym was a major part of his Kanto based operations.

To risk it, was to risk one of his major areas for finding talent, either to recruit or to rob.

So, he had to deal with those without talent, like the boy who thought he was Brock.

Returning his weakest Rhyhorn, he glared at the fool who had dared challenge me. "Was that it? You are truly pathetic. Did you actually train before you came here? Be gone!"

The boy promptly ran out of the gym, his Mankey limp in his arms and tears streaming down his face.

Still annoyed at the weakling who had wasted four minutes of his time with a Mankey and Pidgey, he was almost happy to have that trio send him a report.

"You may speak," Giovanni told them in a controlled tone of voice, suppressing his annoyance so could deal with his non-legal business properly.

"Sir, the boy has defeated Lt. Surge and earned a third gym badge." Jessie reported in as Giovanni gave an amused smirk.

"Did he now?" So, the Lightning Unovan was defeated as well.

"Yes sir, it was a pretty good win to. His Charmander evolved during the battle." James informed him.

"He's still traveling with that other bloodliner girl, wonder if she's his girlfriend or something?" Meowth wondered out loud. "Haven't seen any evidence of canoodling yet, but then again what do I know about human love and mating rituals?"

Oh yes, the girl. Giovanni was rather interested in where that would all go. From the reports it was unclear but Giovanni's instincts told him that something might happen between them, good or bad he didn't know but so far Giovanni's instincts hadn't steered him wrong given that they'd help him build his criminal empire.

"Oh, and they just boarded the St. Anne."

It took Giovanni a moment to register what they just told him. "They what!?"

James gulped as the tone of surprise that Giovanni had. "Well, to be more specific, I'd say the girl dragged the boy onboard against his will. Something about rare stuff for catching the world's water Pokémon. Lures, bait and balls if I'd had to guess."

"Say, aren't we plotting an ambush on board that ship or somethin'?" Meowth chimed in.

"Oh yeah, I remember Cassidy bragging about being put in charge of that op." Jessie remembered.

"Just think boss, you'll soon have your own super Pikachu, Charmeleon, Bulbasaur, Psyduck..."

"The operation is being canceled," Giovanni decided quickly. "Tell Cassidy and Butch to change gears for the attack on Hop-Hop-Hop Town."

He then deactivated the communication, not catching what the Trio's reactions were to the order.

The St. Anne operation was not worth the potential the boy was.

He was the key, or at least a key, to the very continuation of Team Rocket as an organization.

S.S Anne (also known as the Saint Anne)

The S.S Anne gave Misty a lot of emotions, most of which could be summed up in a variety of words.

Amazing. Spectacular. Exotic. Diverse. Energetic. Wonderful. Fun. Foods whose origin Misty could only guess at.

It was filled with every wonder the future water-type master could hope for, and several things she hadn't even realized existed, but was quickly captivated with.

Like all the different varieties of lures on display (of which she bought several) for pretty much every target she had.

Or the gemstones from Unova that could boost a water-type attacks power (she couldn't afford them sadly).

She really wished she had enough money for those Mystic Water pendants she saw swamped with rich, spoiled Pokémon enthusiasts who probably hadn't once actually fought in a proper Pokémon battle.

"Why are the richer people of the world so overwhelmingly idiotic." she muttered to herself.

"Psy!" 'And why do I have to carry all your stuff!?'

"Just be glad I only bought the Magikarp," Misty reminded the duck, who shivered at the prospect of all that additional crud to carry.

Of course, said Magikarp would be sent to Professor Oak as soon as she found Ash (who had gotten lost in the hustle and bustle of this wonderful place), along with the name, phone-number and address of the guy who sold it to her.

It was illegal after all. Luckily, such Magikarp salesmen were easy enough to trick.

"Step right up, step right up folks! Devon Corporation proudly presents Battle Poke-bobbing."

The carnie like voice caused Misty and Psyduck to stop in their tracks (well, she stopped, Psyduck walked right into her leg), to note the large dunk tank, mob of trainers and confident looking, soaked trainer with a Machop.

"Win a battle, and bob for Pokéballs!" The colorfully dressed announcer to the event gleefully cheered as he reached into the pool and plucked out a Pokéball with a white body and red center line. "Pokéballs, Premier Balls, Great Balls and Ultra Balls! Net Balls, Heal Balls, Quick Balls and Luxury Balls! We still have more Pokéballs than we can toss at you, so come on up brave challengers. Defeat the last winner, and bob for one ball. Loose, and he gets another go at it. There are still six Master Balls to be found. Now, who’s brave enough to step up to bat?"

Misty's face morphed into that of a grin. This could be fun, and Ash would surely end up here eventually.

"Duck." 'My, I have to fight, senses are kicking in.'

...

The Saint Anne gave Ash a lot of emotions, most of which could be summed up in a variety of words.

Trap. Ambush. Grunts. Thieves. Bad Trades. Shipwreck. Near Death. Foods whose origin Ash couldn't place even after traveling to several far off regions.

However, surprise was not something Ash was expecting to feel, even with the odd absence of Team Rocket.

No, life just had to spring a fast one on him, and have him do an odd repeat of a previous encounter he had in a Unovan Pokémart.

In layman's terms: being yanked off into a booth by a female Connoisseur (there was a term for them, one that was escaping him right now).

"Bonjour my young Kanto trainer. My name is Burgundy, A-Class Pokémon Connoisseuse." Inside a booth that was far more professional looking than her old one (if what he had heard from Cilan was accurate), he found himself (and Pikachu) being stared intently at an older, yet still quite Burgundy, Burgundy.

First Paul, now Burgundy. Ash absently wondered who was next, Morrison?

"If you are unaware of what a Pokémon Connoisseuse is, we are a group of people who are able to measure the compatibility between trainers and their Pokémon. We are mostly found in Unova, but as an international ship dedicated to the best of Pokémon throughout the world, the St Anne is of course stocked with only the best the world can offer, Connoisseuses included of course."

The arrogance in her words was refreshingly familiar.

"Now, let me see," and with that, she picked up Pikachu before Ash could get the two of them out of there.

"Pika." 'Taste me and I will shock you.' Pikachu was quite prepared for a repeat performance of the 'humiliate Burgundy' show.

Holding Pikachu up to her, she observed him for a moment, raising him up in the air a bit and giving off a good imitation of someone observing fruit in a produce store, before setting him down, after giving an odd amount of attention to the bottom of Pikachu's feet.

She then wet her index finger with her mouth, rubbed it on Pikachu and then sucked on it, before her eyes took on a sparkling gleam that was usually reserved for a starving Ash seeing a feast.

"Oh my, it is simply incredible! The compatibility between you and your Pikachu is simply incredible! It is as if you have traveled together for years!"

'If only we had a clue how long it was,' was a thought the both had at once, only proving Burgundy's point more.

Burgundy having a point...man, that was just an odd feeling to have.

"Beyond that, your Pikachu has brilliant potential, its attack and speed I.V's are simply incredible!"

"Er, what?" Ash had no idea what an I.V was. Weren't those the things you put into ill people? 'Seriously how many things do I have to learn about this world?' Ash thought.

"Are all you're Pokémon this way? Show me!"

Ash and Pikachu exchanged worried looks. Sure, this Burgundy seemed a heck of a lot more competent than her old self, but did they really need to go through everyone?

But, it probably would be too much hassle to get away from her...it probably would be okay if he didn't go flashing her with Starter Pokémon.

If he did, she might start screaming in wonder, and a bunch of traders would start harassing him.

The Pokédex would have a similar issue, luckily it was being unusually quiet today.

So, with that in mind, he let out Butterfree, whom Burgundy proceeded to gush over.

"Oh my, a Butterfree! Oh, how I love them. Their wings really are as beautiful as everyone says."

"Free?" 'Ash...who’s the weirdo looking over me?' Butterfree cried out nervously as Burgundy looked him over.

"Those wings, those eyes...oh yes, I can see it now. You trained this Butterfree up from a Caterpie, didn't you?!" Ash, Pikachu and Butterfree nodded

"I can see all the effort you poured into this Butterfree. The streamlined wings built for speeds are simply extraordinary. You must be so relieved all the Butterfree gathering for mating were stolen, now you'll never have to part ways with it!"

At the trio's gobsmacked expressions, Burgundy looked rather confused. "Oh, you didn't know? It was in all the papers this morning. Every Butterfree that had gathered in the traditional Butterfree congregation area in Kanto, the place where they pair up for life, was stolen by unknown criminals, with such losses it would be impossible to get the thing running this year. Thus there will be a population crash of Caterpie next year, guess everyone will just have to go with Weedles instead."

"Now, do you have any more wonderful Pokémon to show me? I'm getting the oddest feeling you're most compatible with strong and fast Pokémon who have issues taking hits, but I could be wrong"


 

To the east of Cerulean City, sometime later

Butterfree were not her preferred prey.

She was a hunter of only the rarest and finest Pokémon. Pokémon whose worth were at least in the six digits.

A high class Butterfree was lucky to be worth three, and the average one was a dime a dozen.

If she wanted to deal with high end bugs, she'd be collecting Vivillons.

But, what was one to do when your bribery budget was severely depleted? You had to do any work if you wanted to continue as you please.

What did her client even want with them in the first place? Did he have some giant garden he wanted stocked with his own personal bug collection?

It was just idiotic to hire her for it. For a fraction of what she was paid for the job, the fool could merely hire some bug-catcher to go obtain some Caterpie and Metapod for the job.

But money couldn't buy brains, she supposed.

"Commander J, the client has made contact with the delivery crew. They have passed on the cargo, and have been paid in return. They are returning to the ship as we speak with the money"

"Good, very good." Her form imposing and cold, the silver haired Pokémon Hunter known only as J had a scowl on her face. "Maybe now we can get out of this place. I'd rather not be in Team Rocket airspace any longer than I have to."

Operating in the same area as the Pokémon thieves employed by Team Rocket led to competition. Competition led to open warfare. Open warfare led to damaged ships and mutual capture by the police.

In territory controlled by Teams like Aqua or Galactic, at least she could operate easier as they were not in direct competition.

"Now, are there any open contracts available, preferably in Hoenn or Sinnoh?" The regions closest to Kanto, and out of Team Rocket's reach, would be the simplest and smartest destinations to go for.

"Why go so far, when you can get paid quite a handsome sum here in Kanto?"

The voice that said that, was not one of her men.

J and every armed man she had with her in the bridge all turned and had their weapons aimed right at the man who had somehow appeared right in front of her: his face obscured by a brown hooded robe.

"Who the hell are you, and how did you get on my ship!?" J demanded as the figure seemed to smirk under his cloak.

"Oh, it was by no error on your part, Hunter J. Nothing you could have reasonably done could have prevented my entry, nothing can. But do lower your weapons, bank account 1366613 Pummelo Central."

One of her offshore accounts, and a major one at that. One whose loss to police seizure would be a harsh blow to her entire operation. J and company lowered their weapons compliantly, as the cloaked figure continued.

"Now, isn't that better? Why should everything be solved by violence anyway? Those researchers had to die, but you don't have to. You have a use, human."

J felt a feeling of dread overcome her briefly.

A bloodliner freak.

Shit.

No wonder he could get on her ship, the damn freak could probably teleport.

"I am an emissary from the Bloodliner King, with a job request. It is so simple, even a human can do it, and it is absolutely foolproof."

The mocking voice was truly annoying in this emissary. Oh, so very annoying.

The emissary reached into his cloak as he continued.

"My lord is quite interested in the bloodliners of the world, J. Many of them are out of the world right now, making a name for themselves. Some even act human, it is so laughably amusing. However, these misguided fools do have potential to serve the grand design, or as breeding stock. After all, male bloodliners are so rare, even if they are absolute wastes of molecules talent wise, they can still be used to breed better ones, or at least ones with better mindsets."

The emissary held up a photo of a teenage male, with tannish skin, spiky black hair covered by a cap, and lightning marks on his cheeks. A Pikachu's lower body was visible in the picture on his shoulder.

"His name is Ash Ketchum, son of Delia Ketchum, a human woman with the correct potential to make her life worth continuing, at least until she hits menopause. He is a bloodliner with quite...strong lineage. The King, however, has doubts of his usefulness to the grand design. Your job, is to test him. Capture him and bring him to the provided coordinates, and he will be found pointless and be used as breeding stock for something better. Let him escape from your best efforts, and he'll show the potential for the grand design."

"Why the hell would I help you hunt some bloodliner freak? That is not my field of expertise, and for some scheme that's probably going to end up with me in a shallow grave if you succeed" J questioned as the Emissary tossed her the image like a shuriken (She caught it perfectly, of course. She had practice blocking projectile weapons), before reaching back into his cloak.

"Don't pretend that you care who pays you, J. Money is all that matters to you, and this job comes with nine figures attached, regardless of the outcome. Capture him, or have him escape despite true effort...it matters not to us. You will still be paid, though if you half-ass it and he escapes, you won't get paid. I'll be in touch J...do take the job though. After all, we know all your accounts, your hideouts, your moles and your clients. Do the easy job J...or go find a new one."

With that, he vanished just as he came, as J crumpled the photo in her hand (It was easy to replace though, thanks to Facebook).

She hated being blackmailed. But, this 'Bloodliner King' and his emissary had all the cards.

And all the money.

There was no option really.

She would hunt what some called the world's truly most dangerous game.

Not a Legendary Pokémon, but a Human.

"Hunter J, unknown bogies to our west! They appear to be flying in formations known to stronger, long-distance flying types. Should be attempt capture?"

Pushing 'the Emissary' out of her mind for now, she gave the bridge hand who asked a blank stare "Do I even need to answer that question. Capture them!"


Omake

Ambiguously canon

Ketchumverse Part 2

Earth 123114

Trans universe/dimension/timeline travel felt weird.

That was all he and Pikachu had to say on the subject, but he couldn't argue it didn't work considering what he was staring at.

After all, he was quite sure that last time he was in Pallet, there was not a gigantic castle overlooking it with a coat of arms depicting the Battle Frontier's symbol on it, and gargoyles that oddly resembled Pikachu, Charizard and various other Pokémon he had in the old timeline/regained in the new one/probably were often caught in other timelines.

"Welcome to the Battle Citadel," A Harmonia Gropius greeted them dramatically, his Reshiram on his side like it was a common Rattata (as oppose to, say, a legendary Pokémon that stood out like a sore thumb). "Home of the Bond Symbol and also, unbeknownst to old Scott, the Headquarters for thousands of Ash Ketchums, and a Gary who took your place in the multiversal order."

Ash and Pikachu tried to process that information. Thousands of versions of him, in this castle? And a Gary took his place? What's up with that?

Sure, it wasn't small, but it was probably smaller than Brandon's Pyramid. A seemed to notice this.

"Most of the operations of the League of Ashes takes place below ground, where miles of caverns were created by the thousands of Charizards belonging to various Ash's duking it out for position of strongest Charizard in the multiverse."

Suddenly the entire earth shook around them, as if two forces of incredible might were slamming into each other. Ash outright fell from the shock of the impact, sending Pikachu rolling off his shoulder rather comically, which A and Reshiram seemed only mildly disturbed by the whole thing.

"Oh my, it would appear that Brain and Guardian's Charizards are at it again," he said nonchalantly.

"Again!?" was all Ash could say in response.

"Pika." 'In a deadpan tone of voice, Pikachu stated 'We are officially not letting Charizard out in this universe, ever.'

….

If Ash thought A Harmonia Gropius was going to be the oddest thing he would see today, Ash was quite mistaken, particularly when A had brought him to meet with someone 'who was responsible for the annoying legalities, like timeline breaking, trans-multiversal diplomacy and expenditures'.

No, what was probably the oddest thing he was going to see was a version of himself, dressed in a tuxedo that probably cost more than the winnings from a Pokémon League victory, drinking from a coffee mug emblazoned with a Team Rocket R, with his Pikachu looking over what appeared to be an I-Pad in a room that rather resembled a CEO's room (complete with fancy knickknacks, diplomas and more company logos that just happened to be the Team Rocket R)

Both Ash and his Pikachu just stared at the two in confusion, not even sure where to begin here.

"Um, you...er, I drink coffee?" Ash decided to break the silence with the simplest thing he could think of. The Ash drinking the coffee smirked, perhaps in response to the fumble of terminologies.

"Only the finest imported coffee from the coffeemon universe," he said as if it was nothing. "It's between a Moemon and a Pokemorph verse, above a Spellermon verse, below a Cardverse and diagonal to a Rapidestria and Pokégirl verse if you look at the map with 19D glasses, rather nice place really. I prefer the finer things in life you see, like this brew. For the record, as most of us are in fact named Ash Ketchum, we generally take on nicknames and titles to make communications simple. I am Don Ash, leader of my reformed, Fortune 500, Team Rocket."

"Pika Pikachu." His Pikachu responded in a tone that Ash could only describe as the Pokémon equivalent of a stuck up banker's tone of voice.

"So tell me, are you aware that resetting your timeline is illegal?"

Ash and Pikachu just stared at the guy incredulously. "Okay, for one, Arceus technically reset time, not me. Second, how would I even know that?"

"Ignorance sadly does not work in court, though circumstances do." Don noted. "Considering your timeline was being destroyed, I can safely assure you we probably will not have to execute you for your crime. Good thing too, setting up execution equipment takes paperwork I'd rather not deal with."

Ash and Pikachu really had no response to the guy being rather chill about the idea of being executed by, well, themselves.

"Nothing personal." He noted their expressions. "It's simple formalities. Shared treaties and all, a few too many Light Yagamis being too clever for their own good. Arceus, they are so annoying. At least Lelouches aren't generally insane..."

Ash had no idea who either of those people (who were probably fictional in his world) were.

"Chu," Pikachu said with a blank face, which Ash was pretty sure was something about Lelouch's sanity being debatable, and something about a Requiem?

Apparently only Pikachu got the reference.

"Regardless, I am getting off track," Don admitted, before his Pikachu gestured to him over to the I-Pad. "Huh, you’re Polygamous? How odd, you don't really see that here, more of a Harry, Naruto, Issei sort of thing. I mean, sure, one of the Harry Potter leaders is Polygamous, but he's a freaking Incubus so it really isn't that odd...mind if I ask why? Aura Restoration Act?"

"Er, no."

"Membership to ancient and noble houses that require spouses for each individual house?"

"I'm pretty sure there is no Ancient and Noble House of Ketchum in this or any other reality."

"Huh. Well, you're a curiosity at the very least, none the less. Tell me," He then took a long sip from his coffee cup as Ash briefly noted several familiar images on the I-Pad Don Pikachu had (He saw Mewtwo, Paul's Torterra, Gary's Blastoise, Red's Pikachu and Charizard, his Pikachu, Charizard, Ambipom and Butterfree, and Misty's Psyduck) "Are you aware about the usefulness and trans-universal time displacement? You can leave for a five hour battle in the rim of the May and Drew love timelines during a bathroom break at a five star restaurant, and be back in no time at all?"

"Um, no?"

"Pika?" 'I don't think that makes any sense at all?'

"I must say, that sounds like it violates most laws of science and common sense." The Pokédex chimed in.

"What is this common sense you speak of?" Don sarcastically asked. "As to my question, it is about your community service to the omniverse, to make up for the damage you caused it?"

"Community service!?"

"Yes, to the greater omniversal community. Welcome to the League of Ashes, now you need a cool name or are we going to have to assign you a number instead?"

Chapter Text

Somewhere around the Rock Tunnel

From the skies, great beams of light emitted from an unseen clash.

A one-sided battle, from which the other side had absolutely no chance of victory.

One by one, they fell, but not to the earth.

Only one did so, and seemingly as if pushed out of the way by the sacrifice of another.

This other was only saved from a splat by the sound of a pair of releases.

Though the crash did cause a separation of sorts.


 

Elsewhere, earlier

"The Rock what?"

As it turned out, Ash had no idea where the Saint Anne would have ended up without any sort of hijacking, sinking, or stranding him on deserted islands filled with giant robotic Pokémon.

As it turned out, oddly enough the specific ticket that was being handed out by those hyper-active blondes whom Ash was sure were Team Rocket agents like last time would have caused the ship to dock at a port just to the east of Cerulean City, northwest of Lavender Town.

As Misty was not going to take a single step closer to Cerulean than she had to, that left only one route to Lavender Town as their trek.

But this was not a path that Ash had traveled before.

Normally, Ash would be all for a new adventure. However, the Rock Tunnel sounded oddly ominous, and Brockish.

There was also the matter of the loot.

Very much the matter of the loot.

Now, normally Ash did not carry that many Pokéballs on him at any given time. He was not a catchaholic, and thus did not have the desire to throw a Pokéball at every living thing he saw that interested him. Simply being able to see them and be around the Pokémon was enough.

If he did, Professor Oak would have had to buy the rest of Pallet Town to fit them all, particularly if Gary was still a big catcher of Pokémon this time around (200+ Pokémon if Ash recalled correctly).

However, Ash was quite fond of random competitions and tournaments, with participation in Pokémon Sumo, Pokémon Racing, Pokémon Ringer, Pokémon Firefighting, Pokémon Cosplay and numerous others. Any chance to have his Pokémon challenged in a new way Ash was all for it.

He wasn't a huge cooking contest person, perhaps it just had to have Poké, Battle, or Tournament in its name to garner his interest.

So, he might have gone a bit...overboard with the competition for obtaining Pokéballs, though in his defense Charmeleon had a lot of pent up energy from not being able to take over for Pikachu in the battle against Lt. Surge.

Then Squirtle wanted in...and after that he got so caught up in all of his other Pokémon, who he had on him, and called upon as well.

He only stopped when he lost all feeling in his face due to the exposure to cold water.

That still left him with fifty-one Pokéballs (and Ash generally preferred to only have five additional ones on hand at any given time), all of colorations he didn't recognize.

In his defense though, the kind of balls he had seen himself in the past were Pokéballs of various decoration, Safari Balls, some Apricorn made Balls, Park Balls, the very similar Lake Balls, antique Pokéball type artifacts, a giant stone Pokéball, Dark Balls, the GS Ball and a Master Ball. He was sure there were other varieties in the world.

He just happened to have gotten fifty-one balls of varieties he didn't recognize.

Thankfully as always, he had something on him that seemed to know everything.

"Pokéball identification for Noobs program initiated," the Pokédex started up. "The Pokéball is made from synthesized Apricorn material and is..."

Ash tuned out the resulting chemistry lesson.

"Now, for the fool who ignored my very intelligent chemistry description, this program is designed to tell you everything you need to know about Pokéball variants," the Pokédex continued. "Don't feel bad about Professor Oak not covering them in detail: variant Pokéballs are expensive and most people don't bother with them. They, in fact, only began to be produced in sizeable numbers within the last few years. So you not knowing anything about them is less about you being an idiot, and more about everyone being mostly uninformed idiots."

Ash couldn't tell if the Pokédex was being nice or not, so he held up the one ball he had obtained that was blue with yellow bolts across it.

"The Quick Ball. Developed by a scientist originating in the Johto region who wished to catch easily startled Pokémon before they can flee, the Quick Ball has a higher affinity for catching Pokémon before hostilities begin at the start of the battle. However, once the battle starts, the Quick Ball has little to nothing to differ itself from a vanilla Pokéball."

Ash rather liked the sound of it, but that did leave him with a question. How did that whole 'works best if hostilities haven't started' thing work?

Deciding not to pursue the question further, Ash noted a trio of balls who were white and black, with reddish-orange ridges on them.

"The Timer ball. Developed by Devon Corporation, the Timer Ball contains a mechanism in it that increased the balls effectiveness. This mechanism takes time to work, however, and thus manages to reach an immensely high catching ability after a period of charging that occurs at the start of battle."

A ball that got stronger with time huh...

"How long is a period of charging, exactly?"

"One hour," the Pokédex suggested as Ash and Misty exchanged startled looks.

What sort of battle against a single Pokémon took that long?

"The developer of this particular type of Pokéball wanted to create a ball that was capable of capturing Legendary Pokémon that was cheaper than the Master Ball," the Pokédex finished, with Ash looking briefly depressed at the reminder of his failure to get one such ball.

Moving his gaze onto a dozen white and red balls, Ash couldn't help but grin with what wonders these balls must have.

"The Premier Ball. These balls are a promotional item that was created to get people to buy more Pokéballs. When someone buys ten Pokéballs of any variety at any one time, the purchaser is given a Premier Ball for free. The ball is essentially the same as a regular Pokéball."

Really?!

Ash looked somewhat disappointed the balls didn't happen to do anything particularly cool, but he supposed not every Pokéball could be a Master Ball.

Noting another dozen Pokéballs that had their red replaced with orange, and a yellow chain dividing said orange part in half, Ash hoped these were more than just props.

"The Repeat Ball," the Pokédex began. "The first attempt by Devon Corporation to create Pokéballs with specialized use, the Repeat Ball's enhanced performance ties itself to the users Trainer Identification. When used on a Pokémon the trainer is shown to have already had, the efficiency spikes. The Repeat Ball is often used by trainers who seek Pokémon who can evolve in multiple ways, such as Kirlia, Poliwhirl and Eevee. "

Catch the same species of Pokémon...twice?

Ash sighed. What use would that be to him. Bar his Tauros, who were caught in Safari Balls, he never caught the same species twice.

Twenty-eight balls down, and twenty-three to go. Hopefully he'd get better than a one-to-seven ratio of good to bad there.

Another dozen balls, these with green and greenish yellow coloring, were now observed.

"The Nest ball was another early creation by the Devon Corporation to create specialized Pokéballs. These balls work best when used on much weaker Pokémon than the one being used to battle it. The Nest Ball is thus most often seen in the hands of vastly experienced trainers who have highly leveled Pokémon and want to capture much weaker ones without too much overkill."

The image of Charizard standing threateningly over his Sewaddle came to mind for some reason when the description was finished. Ash overall wasn't a hundred percent sure if that ball was 'good' or not.

He'll just have to wait and see.

The next three balls were pink with cream markings, and once more Ash had them checked over by the Pokédex.

"The Heal Ball. While in most respects a regular Pokéball, the Heal Ball has a built in Full Restore. The moment a Pokémon is captured, the Full Restore is released, healing the Pokémon back to full health."

A Pokéball that could heal a Pokémon the moment you caught it? Ash could think of several times in his travels that would have been useful, Tracey's Scyther in particular coming to mind.

That left eight balls, with two of them being regular Pokéballs, two being blue with a netting pattern on top half. "The Net Ball," the Pokédex began before Ash could even put it over the ball, as if it was getting impatient. "It was designed in Hoenn by a maniac who specifically wanted to capture a Surskit, therefore this ball is good at catching Water and Bug Type Pokémon. However the effectiveness of the ball does not quadruple due to the typing of both Bug and Water, there is no explanation as to why this occurs." Two colored black with red rings on them, "Luxury Balls, balls are more comfortable inside than regular Pokéballs and thus aide in the development of positive trainer-Pokémon relationships," and two that were blue with red ridges, "Great Balls, originally known as Super Balls, these Pokéballs have a 50% enhanced catch rate over regular Pokéballs."

All in all...well it was free stuff, and some of the stuff was rather useful (in theory).

"Well, look at it this way Ash. You'll have all the chances in the world to reduce your Pokéball supply while in that tunnel. I hear it's infested with Zubat. After that, we can stop briefly at Lavender Town," and hopefully not die again Ash thought, "and head on to Celadon City." Misty suggested, having herself picked up only ten, six Net Balls and four Dive Balls as she called them that apparently were for underwater dwelling Pokémon. "The closest Gym is there after all."

Shouldn't it be Saffron City first? While it was possible Misty only knew of that Gym because Professor Oak had mentioned it, there it was again.

A lack of information on the Saffron City Gym, and its Gym Leader Sabrina. Ash couldn't help wondering why everyone avoided the subject of the Psychic and her Gym.


 

Buster Boot Camp: Unova Region.

Georgia was a Dragon Buster, and this was not simply a title she gained because of a humiliating loss.

No, the Busters were the elite, the fearless, and the determined.

They were the ones who the Leagues called when a Gym Leader or Elite Four member lost their way.

Their job, to take them down to preserve the League's good name, to make the damage they would do to the League disappear before it even got out.

"Ready!"

Georgia adjusted her yellow cap as the attack began to charge.

"Aim!"

Pointing at the target, her mighty Beartic's attack was now fully charged and aimed at the target.

"FIRE!"

"Beartic/Vanilluxe/Abomasnow/Weavile/Jynx/Glalie use Ice Beam!" Georgia's voice intermingled with that of all the other cadets as their ice type attacks let loose straight at their targets.

Each target, showing a different Dragon Type Pokémon, was marked with their weak spots. Between the eyes, the throat, arm and leg joints along with a few others

All Ice Beams struck them for critical hits.

A smile crossed Georgia's lips as she noticed how her strikes got her Haxorus targets dead center of each of the weak spots it was marked with.

...

The highest ranked cadet in her class, Georgia could say with very little argument that she was going to excel here.

The role of a Buster was not a job someone took because they wanted glory. Firemen did not take their job because they want fires, nor Doctors because they want sickness. They took the job to do what needed to be done.

It was a job one took to ensure that everyone else was safe from harm. While the Busters had gotten rather few jobs in the last 40 years, there had been 6 Gym Leaders and 1 Elite Four member who had to be removed.

The buster's job was to do it quickly, and silently. They got no thanks for their job outside the chain of command, but in doing so saved the good name of the Pokémon League from scandal.

So far, no Dragon user had been involved in scandal, though other Busters had been deployed. As of the present time, the corrupt members had been, in order of the severity of their crime, a Flying-type Gym Leader in Sinnoh who had used flying types to be a peeping tom, a Bug Type Gym Leader in Kanto who had used Weedle to break into people's homes, a Normal-type Elite Four member in Kanto who had run up massive gambling debts and was involved in fixed matches, A Poison Type Gym Leader in Hoenn who was using his Grimer to sabotage restaurants whom were competing with his brother's own, a Ghost-type Gym Leader in Unova who was responsible for several murders and a Dark-type Gym Leader in Kalos who had used/was used by a few Malamar to create a cult who worshiped him like a god and tried to find the hidden Zygarde and create a doomsday scenario.

Of course, the sixth Gym Leader who had to be removed was not counted in her mental list for one good reason, a reason that was rather evident as she passed by the Buster's Wall of Valor.

Pausing her walk from practice to her barracks, Georgia removed her hat in a moment of silence for the three latest groups of entrees, among the eighteen-member strong team she had known five.

All killed trying to remove the rogue Psychic Type Gym Leader of Saffron City.


 

Back on the road to the Rock Tunnel

"Ekans, use Screech!"

Team Rocket...as much a part of his life as Pikachu, had gotten better at battling recently (said Pikachu not in battle yet, as Team Rocket had decided to show up, do their still bad motto, and attack during a training session between Charmeleon and Misty's Wingull), and had once more ambushed them.

So far, however, they were proving to be easier to fight than Lt. Surge, they were better, but not unstoppable.

However, the sonic blast that Ekans let loose right at them wasn't something that he was expecting, nor was it really anything a counter-shield would be able to block.

Not that Charmeleon would have done that anyway, so he just took the blast head on.

"Use Wing Attack!" Misty's Wingull was there to ensure it wasn't just a shouting match: it's glowing wings ready to impact right into the poison-type and stop it's sound blast.

"Protect!" James countered as Koffing popped up between the two Pokémon and formed a barrier.

Wingull's attack slammed right into it, and knocked it back.

"No, Wingull!" Misty cried out in worry.

"Ha ha ha, as you can see we've been working out!" James boasted "It's all in the name of stalking you more efficiently and taking your Pikachu for our wonderful boss!"

What, did Giovanni adore mice or something? Did he like to see them sing, pilot steamboats and electrocute people? Why did Pikachu matter so much to them?

"Charmeleon, use Flame Charge!"

An aura of flames surrounding Charmeleon, the recently evolved Pokémon proceeded to smash his way through the sound attack before smashing right into Ekans.

The Snake Pokémon was sent tumbling backwards, slightly roasted but alive, and right into Jessie, knocking her down as Meowth, James and Koffing were all that were left standing.

"Char!" 'Give it up you insignificant distractions. You are fools if you actually think you could ever hope to defeat us! You are even greater fools if you think you can defeat me!'

Charmeleon's dramatic statement and finger point were translated to James by Meowth, with said blunette looking rather incensed, as did Koffing (who normally was rather chill, like the rest of his species).

"Insignificant! How dare you, I am easily the 109th strongest Grunt in all of Team Rocket!" James boasted in a way that tried, and failed, to ignore the fact there were still 108 tougher Grunts "It is time you see the true power of the 109th strongest grunt! Koffing, Return!"

Return? So, his power was fleeing?

No...that wasn't actually it...seeing as Koffing was glowing a white aura and promptly flew right at Charmeleon.

"Block it with Metal Claw!" Ash shouted to Charmeleon, whose claws glowed white as it intercepted the attack.

Charmeleon was immediately overwhelmed and was sent flying into the air before coming crashing down, defeated.

Ash just stared at the defeated Charmeleon in shock.

Charmeleon was defeated...by Team Rocket!?

"Ha ha! What did I tell you twerps, 108th strongest!" James boasted.

"You know, I think you may have to go in for a retest, I say you are now at least the 71th strongest Grunt!" Meowth boasted, before noticing Wingull.

Unsheathing his claws, Meowth smirked. "Well now that it is two against one, I think we'll be defeating you now, and taking that Pikachu of yours for ourselves."

Ash returned Charmeleon, before having Pikachu jump down and join Wingull.

"Hey, you can't just send out another Pokémon if we defeat yours, we only have two Pokémon!" Meowth sharply pointed out.

"But you are a Pokémon Meowth," James reminded him. "So technically, we do have three Pokémon."

."..You do understand that you just helped them out, right?"

"I did?"

Misty and Ash exchanged 'really' looks, before pointing right at the trio (and the out cold duo of Jessie and Ekans).

"Pikachu/Wingull, use Thunderbolt/Water Pulse!"

As Pikachu glowed yellow, Wingull took off into the air and formed a massive blue ball in front of its beak. Both attacks were fired off at the same time and struck Team Rocket with a satisfying bang.

"Looks like Team Rocket is blasting off in a way we really hope isn't going to be a thing!"

"Koffing!"

Twinkle.

As the voices of James, Meowth and Koffing faded off into the distance, Misty sighed.

"I know I said I wanted to perfect Water Pulse with Wingull, but I don't think we needed that. I mean, if they showed up all the time I admit they could make good practice dummies, but that motto of theirs..."

Ash nodded in agreement, before holding Charmeleon's Pokéball in hand.

It was worrying when Team Rocket put up a better fight that a trio of former Gym Leaders. The idea of Team Rocket getting stronger unnerved him in a way that Ash didn't think was possible with the Team Rocket Trio.

If they kept getting stronger...could the day finally come when they would succeed in capturing Pikachu?


 

Later, closer to the Rock Tunnel

"Return is a move that is powered by the bond between Trainer and Pokémon. The closer a Pokémon is to its trainer, the more powerful the move is," the Pokédex, with Ash's TM USB placed inside it, began to recite. "Training program is now initiated. The instructions on how to pull the move off are as follows..."

Charmeleon, currently looking absolutely furious with himself for allowing to be defeated by anyone (but Team Rocket of all possible foes?), seemed torn between wanting to learn the move, and wanting to understand how it worked so it could absolutely destroy the next Pokémon who tried to use it against him.

Across from him, Squirtle looked at him in annoyance "Squirtle..." 'Can you just get on with it, I don't know why I even agreed to help you with this thing in the first place?'

"Because Squirtle," Ash, who was a distance away and training Butterfree in converting the psychic powers of Confusion into Psybeam, "right now you really only have three moves, and thus you can learn Return."

Of the Pokémon Ash had on them now (Pikachu, Charmeleon, Squirtle, Pidgeotto, Butterfree and Aipom), all but Squirtle each had four moves on them. Pikachu had Thunderbolt, Iron Tail, Quick Attack and Zap Cannon; Charmeleon had Ember, Dragon Tail, Metal Claw and Flame Charge; Pidgeotto had Quick Attack, Gust, Steel Wing and Aerial Ace; Butterfree had String Shot, Gust, Sleep Powder and Confusion (to be turned into Psybeam), Aipom had Scratch, Power-Up-Punch, Swift and Astonish, and Squirtle had Water Gun, Withdraw and Tackle.

Pokémon, as Ash had remembered from one of Professor Oak's lectures, started off only able to know four moves. It was once a Pokémon was trained to a point it was close to being ready to compete with its trainer in the League Tournaments that it could start having more than four moves in their arsenal.

He could have sworn it was just four back in the original timeline...at least eventually, but regardless there was training to be done.


 

Lavender Town

With a smirk, Gary returned his pair of Nidoran, or more specifically now his Nidorino and Nidorina, his foe running off with tears in his eyes.

Yet another fool who thought he could find the only Ghost Pokémon in Kanto. No, those rare Pokémon would not be caught by a run of the mill trainer.

They would be caught by the one and only Gary Oak!

Placing Nidorino's ball in his H.O.P.E glove, the ball vanished in a burst of light, followed shortly by Nidorina. The two had battled enough for today.

Two balls came in their place: Pidgeotto and Growlithe. With that, his team was solid once more.

Wartortle, Pidgeotto, Kadabra, Exeggcute and Growlithe.

It was good practice for all his Pokémon, battling through this Tower of the dead and the worshipers. His Raticate, Spearow, Krabby, and the Graveler formerly known as Geodude...he was on a roll.

He knew that the Battle Dome was hosting a tournament for Rookie Trainers soon, and he'd be there. His skills would be at their best, and he'd make a name for himself, especially if he had a ghost-type on his side.

The Battle Frontier had to be made aware of the future legend that was Gary Oak after all.

Nothing could make him feel unprepared, nothing!

"Oh look Red, it's that Gary guy you easily beat back in Cerulean City!"

A shiver went down Gary's spine as he heard that familiar voice. Turning around, he once more found himself staring down that mute bastard who kept defeating him and seemed to always be around, along with his little cheerleader.

Red, the trainer who had beat him twice, was here.

Perhaps third time was the charm?


 

Yet closer to the Rock Tunnel, as Gary is once again the rival in a rival battle thinks he can actually win.

The town of Puerto Blanco was a small seaside community often passed by for Trainers going to Lavender Town from Cerulean City if they wanted to bypass Saffron City.

As such, it was but a small settlement. It had no Gym, leaving Ash to figure out where all the other Kanto Gyms that Gary and Otoshi were able to beat were another day.

However, it did have many amenities for the passing trainers: like food, water, and interesting gossip.

"Did you hear about that new Sinnoh Champion? I hear she's like a goddess of victory or something?"

"My Raticate is clearly in the top percentage of Raticate, you should trade me for your Kadabra...No it's not a rip-off!"

"Did you hear about Koga? They say he's going to be in this year, aiming for a spot on the Elite Four. Maybe I should take the year off and wait until he's done. I mean, I heard there will be at least two applicants fighting this year..."

"Cerulean finally closed down. Damn it, now I'm going to have to work for that final badge. Guess I'm going to have to cancel that trip to Cinnabar, damn the woman are hot this time of year..."

"Dude, there's a Gym on Cinnabar. You can multi-task."

"Really? What type?"

It was interesting what one could listen in on as one walked down the street, minding one's own business with a Pikachu on your shoulder.

Misty was off doing some shopping of her own. He had offered to tag along with her, seeing as he had nothing much else to do, but she had refused. Something about personal needs or something.

Was it a girl thing?

She did have her own money that was not Pay-Pal scanable from a Snarky Pokédex after all, meaning she didn't need him to do whatever she was doing.

Thus, his current wandering, not really thinking about where he was going. It was just a nice walk...

"Alright you old coot, you're going to hand over all your valuables to me or I'm going to get really mad, as will my little friends here."

And of course, it had to be ruined by someone being a criminal.

Ash froze in his tracks, Pikachu slipping off his shoulder momentarily as he did so, to note a home currently being blocked off by a big man and a duo of rather angry looking Mankey.

Ash happened to know what an angry Mankey looked like rather first handily, it was almost nostalgic if the Mankey were not being used for extortion at the moment.

"Mankey the Pig Monkey Pokémon. Mankey has a very hot temper, which is very easily brought to the surface by most anything. Mankey are known for injuring travelers and vandalizing cars that enter their territory." The Pokédex reminded Ash of what angry Mankey were capable of, rather unnecessarily really.

The sight of them made Ash remember his own Primeape and the trouble he had caused. Would Ash run into him again? If he did would he survive? Primeape wasn't exactly Ash's biggest fan to begin with.

The duo of Mankey turned around and snarled, causing the scarred face of their trainer to get right in Ash's face.

"Move along kid, this ain't none of your business."

Ash didn't 'move along', which made the thug rather angry.

"Alright kid, you asked for it! Mankey, Karate Chop the punk in the face!"

The duo's hands were glowing white, as Ash countered with a pair of his own.

Not Karate Chops though.

"Butterfree use String Shot! Pidgeotto, Aerial Ace!"

As the two emerged, they began their attacks immediately. Butterfree let loose a string of sticky fluid that bound around a Mankey, causing it to be restrained and fall over in a full body cast.

Pidgeotto slammed into the other Mankey, sending it into the air before it fell back to the ground, knocked out.

The thug gulped as the trainer and his Pokémon glared at him.

"Caw!" Pidgeotto let out as she took a spot on Ash's outstretched arm. 'That was too easy. I think that Poliwrath was more a threat'.

"Free." Butterfree fluttered next to Ash, somewhat less badass looking then having a bird of prey on your arm 'I think Gust would have worked better...we could have blown him away too.'

"Pi." 'And probably wrecked the home of the guy he was robbing?'

The thug could not hear what they meant, but responded in much the same way most members of the thief profession would when defeated, hightailing out of there and leaving his partners behind.

"What a coward...and now I'm going to have to call Pokémon Control, damn. You know, it used to be just okay to take Pokémon someone leaves behind or isn't watching properly...back even forty one years ago. What a bothersome bureaucracy, I could have repaid you in Mankey if not for all the unnecessary complications."

The voice in question was from the man who the thug had been harassing. Now that Ash could see him, the man was revealed to be an older man, dark hair peppered with gray. He sort of reminded Ash of the Johto Pokéball maker Kurt, if a bit younger. A non-bipedal Meowth was by its side, one Ash was pretty sure could not talk.

"Um, sorry?" Ash replied reflexively, not sure if he even would want to be repaid in Mankey. The Mankey would probably just harass either himself, or Professor Oak.

"Never mind that, you could call that nothing but an old man's musings. The name's Forge. Forge Smith the Blacksmit," the man introduced himself, extending a wizened hand.

"My name is Ash Ketchum of Pallet Town, and this is my partners Pikachu (Pika-Pikachu), Butterfree (Free) and Pidgeotto (Caw)." Ash extended his own fresh hand, the two meeting and shaking in greeting.

"Ah, Ketchum the Pokémon Trainer. Glad to see that some people still follow the old ways. Last names really should define where one goes in life: your family of trainers, my family of metalworkers...it's all a bunch of pointless nonsense now. My barber is named Farmer, my grocer Teller, and my lawyer Forester. Names mean nothing anymore."

Ash personally wasn't for a caste system, but he respectfully let the old timer keep talking.

"But, enough about what is wrong with the world, come in, come in. I really must be thanking you..." he turned around towards the door of his old looking yet professional looking home. "Just do return your Flying-types, I dislike brushing up after feathers and bug dust."

As he and his Meowth entered the home, Ash returned the specified Pokémon and followed.

...

The room Ash found himself in was similar to that of Kurt's Pokéball storage, but there were no spheres here.

Instead, the room was filled with various items, the purpose of which Ash was trying to figure out.

They all seemed like armbands, helmets and similar things, for all types of Pokémon as far as he could tell.

The man was standing at one end of the room, his Meowth sitting at attention on his left side. In his outstretched right hand, pointed at Ash was a familiar green stone he had seen many times before.

"This here is a Thunder Stone," Forge bluntly stated. "This stone evolves Pikachu into Raichu."

"I know what it does," Ash replied. "I also know that Pikachu still has moves to learn it would not learn if it evolved now into a Raichu. I'm afraid that will not be acceptable as payment."

He had the oddest feeling telling this man he didn't want to evolve Pikachu might not fly well. Old people were somewhat not-understanding about gut instincts.

Forge however, smirked and pocketed the stone.

"I see, I had the oddest gut feeling you might say something like that. Evolutionary Stones are expensive, considering how rare it is for veins in the lay lines to rise up and convert stones," Forge began to talk in that long winded, old person way. "Yet they aren't even the rarest of stones. There are stones even rarer than they are, that form from evolutionary stones on very rare occasions, generally those that originate from meteorites. Those stones specialize in certain Pokémon species, and generally fall into the hands of only the most advanced trainers. In my long life, I've only had the honor of making holders for three such trainers." He was looking over Ash once more as he spoke this "I suspect you could possibly be my fourth."

"Um, thanks?" Ash wasn't exactly sure what this guy was talking about. "What is a holder, exactly?"

Might as well try and get this conversation to be a bit less cryptic if possible. Forge thankfully obliged.

"A holder is an accessory created by League approved smith or jeweler, such as myself, that a Pokémon is allowed to wear during official matches. These holders are meant to allow a Pokémon to hold an approved item safely during a match while the item is able to benefit the Pokémon in question."

Ash was reminded of Lt. Surge's Volty and Raichu in what they had "You mean something like an Assault Vest?"

"Correct," Forge confirmed "Though you do not need a holder for something like that. If you want to use a Type Gem, for example, you would need a holder. Holders do not adjust for evolution though, so I'd personally suggest not using one for any Pokémon you plan on evolving in the near future."

Turning to the shelves of finished product, Forge began sorting through them in a search for something "Primeape, Nidoking, Beedrill...oh yes, here it is."

Removing it, he turned to Ash. "Now, seeing as you can't pay you in Mankey, you can have this as a token of my gratitude. I'll also be sure to provide you with any holders you may wish obtain for yourself in the future, though I do expect pay for them."

He handed Ash an old but still decent looking armband, which appeared to be Pikachu scaled. The armband's edges were reflective metal, painted red in the middle. The center had a round indent that Ash was pretty sure could fit a variety of things, from spheres to gems to even a magnet.

Not needing any words Pikachu hopped off Ash. Ash knelt down in front of Pikachu, the armband in hand.

With a bit of fumbling the band was secured on Pikachu's right arm. Standing back up Pikachu was able to hop back onto his favorite perch, bothered little by the additional weight.

Forge grinned. "Well, glad to see that fit nicely. I made that in the possibility a Pikachu user might have found a Light Ball. Tricky thing to find, Light Balls are. Sadly, I don't have one of those for you"

'What's a Light Ball?', Ash thought to himself. He'd ask his Pokédex later, it was being oddly quiet at the moment. Perhaps it got an 'old people fear technology' vibe or something

"However, my Meowth does have the ability Pickup, making it good at finding things. Why else do I have the expensive paperweight like that Thunder Stone after all? Thanks to Meowth, however, I have a few too many of these."

Reaching into his pocket, he tossed a purple stone to Ash. Ash grabbed it, before looking back at Forge in confusion.

"That there is an Eviolite. That item boosts the defensive power of Pokémon who could still evolve. I have the oddest feeling you might be making use of a number of these kid."

The old man promptly began to merrily laugh, but before Ash could respond he was serious again.

"Now, give me your phone number, I can't make any damn sense of that inter-web thing and it's E-Post stuff, so that's the only way I like to be contacted."


 

Professor Oak's lab

"All three Starter Pokémon...I swear Ash must have the devil's luck, wonder if it is just a bloodliner thing..." Professor Oak muttered to himself while holding Bulbasaur up, not catching the Pokémon shiver at the mention of a devil he himself had met a while back. "And pretty impressive too...I certainly hope Ash continues to impress me like this."

Putting Bulbasaur back on the ground, Oak eyed his wide open estate with some pleasure. The Dodrio were singing, the Mankey howling, and the Sandshrew were digging.

All was right in the world.

"You know, if I'd have to guess based on how your trainer is moving, and Gary's attention to detail combined with his movements the two should be in Fuchsia around the time the Safari Zone is going to be thinned out. Between the two of them, and maybe even Misty as well, I think I'll have a good chance of having some particular Pokémon sent to me for the first time in ages! I've always wanted to study Tauros behavior up close."

"Bulba." 'Yeah, and you are probably going to find yourself studying thirty Tauros very up close when that happens. As will your fence budget.'

Professor Oak missed the dark humor that Bulbasaur was using due to not speaking Pokémon.

"Well, I'll come and look for you when Ash calls, why don't you go look for Ash's Krabby while you are here? I'd love to stay and soak up all this pristine peace and tranquility with you, but I have to publish a scientific paper so I can pay for my Tofu ration and my electricity. Both equally important, I know."

As the old man meandered off, Bulbasaur noted his old domain with a nostalgic smile as he meandered as well.

It was weird being back in time: a chance to amend past mistakes, see the wonders of the world once again, and maybe even make new mistakes. Hopefully he would be around to see these past mistakes amended (perhaps he could have that rematch with Erika's Tangela), and not be around to see some mistakes repeat themselves (that demonic Bellsprout might just come out when Muk wasn't available to smother it).

Bulbasaur liked to think himself as a battler second, and a peacekeeper first. While he was quite willing to battle, and having himself battled for Ash in two separate Gym battles in two differnet leagues (against Erika, Team Rocket, Danny and Rudy), four League Matches (He and Pidgeotto had battled in the second round match at Indigo before Squirtle won it, he fought in the fourth round to defeat Beedrill and Scyther, his loss against Electabuzz in the Orange League, and later bested the Magneton and tied Meganium in the Silver Conference), as well as against Pyramid King Brandon, he found that he personally enjoyed his role at the Lab more.

Bulbasaur the Negotiator. Bulbasaur the Peacekeeper. Bulbasaur the Ambassador. Bulbasaur the Sap Giver. He had gained many titles, and all but one of them he wore with pride.

The other made him regret that Ash ever took him to Johto. Already he was dreading the day that Heracross would rejoin Ash's team.

Contrary to what some may think, the Pokémon at Oak's ranch never felt it was abandonment to be left at Oak's lab. Ash called rather often, they were well fed and taken care of, could train on their own terms, and it was easier for Ash to get close to and train his newer Pokémon if he was not weighed down by the older ones who could not simply sit on his shoulder.

There was a reason Totodile, Cyndaquil and Bayleef did not evolve further in Johto after all, an unintended side effect of having himself, Charizard, and Squirtle around for a considerable period of time.

Of course, some Pokémon spent far more time at the Lab, in comparison to their time with Ash, and the Pokémon with the same original trainer here happened be one of the less exposed one, and currently was doing what appeared to be the human or Fighting-Type equivalent of weight training with large sticks.

"Koo! Ki! Koo! Ki!"

The crab continued to hoist them up and down, as Bulbasaur assumed had happened last time before his debut battle in the Indigo League (Which was followed by another battle with a Cloyster and Arcanine, a battle at the Whirl Cup against Misty, a near entry into the Silver Conference if not for some runaway Voltorb, and last a battle in the Lily of the Valley Conference, aiding Bayleef and Snorlax in the Second Round Battle.).

"Bulba." 'You know, that is making you like Charmeleon, right?'  Bulbasaur wasn't so sure he wanted to share space here with an exercise nut.

Would he only be free of them when Ash had both of them here (or both on hand while Bulbasaur was at Oak's)?

"Kooki!" Krabby continued to do his weight exercises with his sticks. 'I happen to want to get bigger again. I enjoyed being a Kingler, and would like the experience of being one as soon as possible again. You can't say that all of the formerly evolved Pokémon don't want to evolve again, can you?'

"Bulba..." 'Yeah, but Pidgeotto and Aipom are not neurotic about it...'

Before Krabby could respond to Bulbasaur's point...

"Grrr...!"

"Slash!"

Hearing a loud noise off in the field over, Bulbasaur darted off, followed quickly by Krabby.

The conflict was quickly revealed, after some running/crawling to the captured Growlithe (whom had always been rather law-abiding Pokémon), and Sandslash (whom had helped him dig the lake in his first case as the Peacekeeper/Negotiator) feuding over something.

From what he could overhear (Grrr...Slash!) it was territory based. That was generally what it was not about food or who gets to be scratched behind the ear by the Professor.

Turning to Krabby, Bulbasaur noted the confrontation parties with a shoulder movement "Bulba?" 'So, ready to witness my grand return to the role of peacekeeping? I do request your help in ensuring I am not burnt'.

Krabby noted the fire dogs in question, then the sticks he still had in his pincers, which he promptly threw to the side "Kook." 'Well, I suppose they will make useful dumbbells.'


 

Near the Rock Tunnel, about where the chapter had started

The Dragonite was pushed back by the powerful Hydro Pump attack.

Skidding almost out of the ring, the Dragon type was panting heavily. Its trainer, the caped and red haired Lance of Blackthorn, gave an impressed look back at the origin of the attack.

"Well, I must say you have surprised me, Misty. To think you could become the most powerful of the Elite Four, to think you could challenge me for the title of Champion. Your Water Pokémon have proven truly superb, but do not think you have won just yet: the Dragon Type is the most powerful of all types. It domains over the founding elements of Fire, Lightning, Grass, and Water, and harnesses their power for themselves among with the other powers of the world. Their fists shatter mountains, their steps make the earth quake, and their wings sheer through the Fae as if by a sword. They will triumph yet!"

Misty, or more specifically the older form of Dream Misty, smirked, the Milotic curled up around her like a snake to an empress.

"Let's see shall we? Milotic, Dragon Pulse!"

"Counter with your own Dragonite!"

BOOM!

...

Poke...

Real life Misty's eyes opened to the sight of her personal and rather annoying alarm clock.

"Duck" Psyduck quacked, though Misty missed the meaning, as Misty pushed herself up from within her sleeping bag, currently in a secret base that was originally a bush.

Leaving the confines of the sleeping bag, clad only in her oversized Lorelei T-Shirt Misty sighed and began to remove said shirt.

Her dreams, honestly sometimes they jumped a little ahead of themselves. An Elite Four Membership was one thing, but going for the Champions Title?

Not to mention the Milotic. Her dreams could at least have used Pokémon she currently had on her.

Her T-Shirt pulled over head and promptly tossed to the floor, Misty walked over towards her bag where she kept her other pieces of clothing.

She could go through everything she had clothing wise and then spend a few hours color coordinating, but she didn't really have the clothing count to do that, nor th ewill. Having so many cloths you could go an entire year without having to reuse one was her sisters thing after all.

"Psy Psyduck?" 'You know, constantly changing clothes, cleaning them, and replacing them seems like a whole lot of bother' Psyduck spoke up just as Misty was about to reach into her bag for covering.

"Yeah, well that's what humans do Psyduck," she replied tersely, Psyduck looked at her oddly.

Misty realized that she had just called herself human...something she really hadn't done much of for quite some time. When wondering why, an image of her wandering the world with Ash came to mind.

She quickly banished the thought from her mind, not sure why she was thinking about some of those things. The land walking, sure, they had done plenty of that, but a Lapras?

She didn't have a Lapras….Yet.

It was nice, sure...but her imagination was a bit too active sometimes.

"We also need clothing to inhabit colder areas. If we didn't, we'd never have spread as far as we have." Misty insisted as she rummaged through her bag. Psyduck stared at her blankly in a way that would have been asking for a beating if he was human.

Psyduck, of course, did not have the same feeling as a human would in this situation. Psyduck was just thinking.

"Duck Duck..." 'So why not just not wear all that crud when the weather is warm?'

"Because!" Misty, who was pulling up her socks, snapped right back at him, as if that was the stupidest question Psyduck had ever asked.

And the Duck had asked some rather dumb ones in his time.

...

Clothed and with Psyduck quiet for now, Misty left her secret base to note Ash's backpack and Pokédex lying out in the open.

His secret base appeared empty, and neither he nor his Pokémon seemed to be around.

Picking up the Pokédex in idle curiosity, Misty wondered where he might have gone.

"If you are wondering where my foolish flesh-bag owner is, he is currently out relieving himself," the Pokédex answered her unspoken question.

'I did not need to know that.'

"I possess the ability to analyze a human's waste product to determine if they are getting proper levels of nutrients as well as check for micro-parasites. The boy is rather foolish in not wanting me to analyze him."

'I really did not need to know that!'

No wonder Ash left thing here. If Pokédexes were not so prestigious and generally useful, she couldn't imagine why anyone would want one of them.

They were so annoying!

"All he brought with him were his belted Pokémon, Pikachu, and that staff thing he's always trying to make work that clips onto his belt. Honestly, none of them can ensure he is not infected with Tapeworms..."

BOOM!

A loud explosion rang out from the forest behind her, causing trainer and Psyduck to rapidly turn towards the direction of the blast, from which smoke was emerging.

"Oh no, that is the direction Ash went to empty his bladder!" the Pokédex cried out as Misty's eyes went wide.

Ash?

Misty began to run in the direction of the blast, but a buzzing caused her to stop.

A Beedrill was flying right at her.

A Bug Pokémon.

Bugs...

BUGS!

Shivers went down her spine, the object of her nightmares was coming right at her.

But Ash...

No...she mustn't run away.

Controlling her fear, Misty pointed at the Beedrill "Psyduck, use Water Gun!"

"DUCK!?" 'You want to battle a Bug-Type? And use me...ah what the hell I want to run even less than I don't want to fight.' Breathing in deeply, Psyduck let loose a stream of water that struck the Beedrill head on.

It fell to the ground in defeat.

"Wild Beedrill Fainted," the Pokédex proclaimed as Misty prepared to charge forward.

A Beedrill wasn't going to stop her. Not even three Beedrill.

A trio of said Beedrill were themselves coming at her, but were blasted down by a surprisingly bold and upfront Psyduck.

She could conquer her fears, she had to go make sure Ash was alright.

She wouldn't run away, she wouldn't run away...

"Beedrill, the Poison Bee Pokémon. Beedrill often appear in swarms. A swarm of Beedrill the size of what is coming at us could potentially level an entire village. Running is highly suggestible! I highly doubt anyone would hold it against you!"

The sky was now yellow and black, a hundred Beedrill flying right at her. Their stingers all dripping poison, their wings humming the heralding tune of death that humans had feared for centuries...

Run away, Run away, Run away!

?

One moment he had been heading back for breakfast, the next he knew nothing.

Silence.

Darkness.

He couldn't see anything, move anything, nor could he hear anything. It was, in a sense, a void.

Ash briefly thought he might have ended up in a Pokéball, but he had asked about Pokéballs before and was told Pokémon could still sense the world around them.

There was a reason one could shout 'Pidgeotto, Gust!' and Pidgeotto would do so the moment she was sent out after all.

Was this...death?

Did Time break again!?

"No no no, time is flowing just perfectly Satoshi. Or perhaps Ash? Might I suggest Casey?"

A voice echoed through the darkness, a sound he could suddenly hear.

A familiar voice.

A voice he didn't want to hear ever again, and it was taking shape in front of him in a surge of pixels, or at least what Ash was pretty sure was in front of him.

The pixels end shape was not the misshaped mass from before, MissingNo. Instead, it was that of Serena, if her edges were pixilated.

"So champ' in the making, how's life? Feeling a little...petrified?" The voice that came out was not MissingNo's alone. It was Serena's, with the voice of MissingNo underlying it. "What's the matter, lose your nerve? Your way? Your Goodra?"

What the hell was a Goodra?

SerenaNo massaged her chin thoughtfully, before a large light-bulb pixilated into existence above her. "Oh yeah I remember now, you got ambushed! Now you are here, alone but for your mind and me. What are you going to do about it, Hero?"

She had a flat look on her face the moment she finished, as if realizing something. "Oh yeah, you kind of can't talk back, now can you? That's no fun...it's hard to screw with people when they don't talk back to you."

Shaking her head, SerenaNo transformed into a shower of pixels and floated over, reforming into the familiar shape of a different companion of his.

"But no need to worry, am I right?" DawnNo grinned like a maniac, her smile probably humanly impossible. "You are the hero of this little story, aren't you? The champion of justice, the Chosen One, the Hero of Ideals...or was it Truth? Can't really recall." The moment she passed 'The Chosen One' she pixelated over into IrisNo. "Seeing as you managed to pull off some impressive feats when you were just a kid, I'd love to see what you can pull off as a teenager."

With that, IrisNo dissolved away. Apparently CilanNo, BrockNo, MayNo and the various other Nos were not on the menu for messing with him today.

Though what did it say about a situation where a Devil came to apparently give you a pep talk?

What was even going on?!

He felt a tingling on his side, a blue light glowing. While Ash could not move his head to see what was going on, the glow in question was something he knew from before.

However, before he could be excited about it, he felt a tingle in his eyes as well. Unseen to him, his eyes were now glowing the same brownish-orange they had when during the Gym battle with the Cerulean Sisters.

He could feel one of the Pokéballs he had on him was now rapidly shaking, as if it was just capturing the Pokémon inside it. The blue light from what Ash believed to be his staff dimmed away, as the shaking stopped.

Then his senses returned.

...

THUMP!

Ash fell to the ground, shattering glass as he broke through something.

Thankfully he somehow didn't end up with any glass impaling him.

A little uneasy, he stood back up, looking around the grey, metallic room he found himself in.

He could still feel the Pokéballs and Lucario's staff on his belt, but he didn't feel Pikachu's weight on him. He did, however, notice Aipom bouncing in front of him in excitement, apparently she had freed him.

Perhaps that power of his had powered up Aipom to let her escape her ball on her own. But, how did she get from that void to here?

Come to think of it, how did he?

Looking around, Ash was also sure he had seen this place before...

As his gaze turned to the shelf next to where he had fallen, his eyes widened as he recognized something that sat on the shelf in a glass case. Ash quickly figured out exactly where he had seen this place before.

For there was only one person he knew who would do it.

There was only person who would turn Pikachu into a statue and lock him up in a case.

J

"Ai!" 'Why is J here, isn't she just Sinnoh?!' Aipom questioned as Ash began fiddling with the nobs on the case.

From top down Pikachu was freed from the stone bindings, and with an unspoken look Aipom shattered the casing with Power-Up-Punch.

Pikachu collapsed just as Ash had when he was freed, but got up quicker and looked around, frantic.

"Pika!? 'Did we just get kidnapped by Hunter freaking J!?'

"It would appear so," Ash stated with a solemn tone. "We need to get out of here, and fast. I don't know why J would kidnap me as well...but I don't think I want to find out. There should be an escape pod or something on board, let's try and find it."

"Pom." 'That assumes that J would actually care to let her men escape from a downed ship? She never struck me as the type to be captured alive, or to care for the well-being of those under her.'

"I like to assume most people have escape pods for themselves and any subordinates, I like to be optimistic like that. Who knows, maybe Charmeleon can spontaneously evolve and fly us out of here?"

The last part sounded like Ash didn't really believe that would happen. Or perhaps he didn't want Charmeleon to think he could trigger evolution by jumping off the sides of airships or cliffs while believing he can fly.

That had never worked out that well for Bagons, and he doubted Charmeleons were any less likely to hurt themselves doing that.

...

Metallic hallway after metallic hallway was all that Ash saw as he ran through the ship, followed by Pikachu and Aipom.

He saw no guards, no security cameras, and no traps. Ash wasn't sure if she had them last time or not. Perhaps she didn't have the budget for them at the moment.

"Pika Pika Pika Pika..." 'Sealed door, sealed door, door labeled 'engine room, do not enter while in flight...think we should have gone in there and sabotaged it?'

"I think sabotaging an airship while you are inside it without a real escape plan is not really a good idea, even if there isn't some sort of security system in place to keep someone from messing with it while it is in flight" Ash pointed out as the hallway they were in met with a another, a perpendicular meeting with the new hallway stretched on to the left and the right quite a ways away.

On the opposite side of the hallway from where Ash and his Pokémon were currently at, was a door. This door, which did not appear to be sealed, had a fang marked on it.

Looking down the path, Ash noticed other doors marked by other symbols. To his left Ash noticed a leaf and a fire symbol.

To his right was a lightning bolt and a water drop.

"Pika..." 'I do not like the look of that lightning door.' Pikachu seemed to be getting a bad feeling about this.

Aipom hopped onto Ash's shoulder to get a better look at the door "Pom?" 'I wonder...think this might be where she keeps Pokémon?'

A fire, a leaf, a drop of water, and a bolt. Fire, Grass, Water, and Electricity.

It was a possibility. And a fang could only mean one thing.

A picture in his mind of flying off the ship with a Flygon, holding as many Pokémon as he could, followed by dozens of other winged dragons with their own Pokémon on their backs.

That could work. That could work quite well.

With that thought, Ash opened the Fang Door.

...

As Ash suspected, there were Dragons behind the door, but he didn't see any Flygon.

No, the dragons behind the door were virtually all one species, one that Ash was rather familiar with.

Dragonite. The room was filled with Dragonite. A dozen of them, all lined up and petrified behind the same screen door.

There was another Pokémon the room, a much smaller dragon petrified and caged on a table off to the side. It was an odd looking dragon, sort of circular blob with antenna on its head. But Ash was more focused on the Dragonite at the moment, Aipom was fiddling with the cage of the odd circular dragon.

"Twelve..." Ash said in horror. Seeing one Dragonite in the same place was a rarity, why did J have twelve of them?!

Pikachu was looking at one of the petrified Dragonite in particular, before stepping back in shock "Pikapi." 'Ash, you might want to have a look at this.'

Walking down a few Dragonite to the particular one Pikachu was staring at, Ash's eyes went wide.

What he was seeing was so shocking he released Charmeleon for a third opinion on the matter.

As the red fire-lizard appeared, the lizard's eyes went wide with recognition.

For all three knew this Dragonite.

After all, how many Dragonite scowled all the time?


 

Back down on the ground

They had outrun the swarm by now.

Misty was pressing her arm against a tree, tired but otherwise unharmed.

Psyduck was lying on his back, unable to move anymore.

The Pokédex was in her other hand, having grabbed the thing when she fled.

Fled...that was what it was.

She ran away, she abandoned Ash.

Did it really matter if a hundred Beedrill were chasing her? If she didn't fear them, would she have fought them?

"You are feeling guilty..." the Pokédex commented. "I would suggest you stop feeling guilty. No sane person fights a swarm of one hundred angry Beedrill, unless they are a Gym Leader with a super effective team of at least a seventh badge challenge caliber at the very least. You are not such a person, had you stayed you would have been impaled, poisoned, and quite possibly killed and eaten."

Misty shivered as the mental images of what the Pokédex was implying came into mind.

"The swarm should have faded away by now, and are probably off creating a new nest," the Pokédex noted as Psyduck got back up and looked ahead. "We should be able to go and check for Ash now..."

"Duck?" 'Who's that Pokémon?'

Misty turned in the direction Psyduck was looking, where a Pokémon lay on the ground. It was green, with a crested head and a pair of tusks on its face, and Misty had never seen it before.

It looked hurt too, as if it had fallen.

The Pokédex was in her hand, so Misty pointed it at the mystery 'mon, but nothing was said.

Really? Ash was missing, and a strange Pokemon was in front of them, out cold to the world, and it wouldn't cooperate. For all Misty knew, this Pokémon was responsible, or connected, to what happened.

It was too much of a coincidence.

"I don't have to say anything for you. You are not my owner," the Pokédex stated in its best impersonation of a 'stuck up, dirty lawyer'.

"Do you have anything better to do?" Misty countered. "And isn't it your job to record data on Pokémon around you, like the Pokémon I can't identify?"

."..Axew, the Tusk Pokémon and a Pokémon of the Dragon Element native to the Unova Region that should not be in Kanto. They mark their home territory with their tusks and are looked after by Haxorus mothers. Haxorus, their final evolutionary form, are very powerful with an axe for a head. You do not mess with the offspring of a Pokémon with an axe for a head."

"Unova? The distant region with its own unique Pokémon? Why would an Unovan Pokémon be here, particularly one that cannot fly or swim?"

What did that meant for Ash? Did he get attacked by Unovans?

"Don't know..." the Pokédex admitted a lack of knowledge on the question as the Axew opened its eyes.

It saw them...

"Axew!"

And it screamed in fright, it's call echoing through the forest.

"Psy!?" 'He's crying out for his sister! He's calling out for a freaky axe dragon of a sister while he sounds like he's in pain! Run, angry Axe Dragon inbound!' The terror was evident in Psyduck's voice as he started to run back and forth.

A sister? As in some sort of middle evolution, like Charmeleon or Dragonair?

She could handle that...then she had to get to Ash. Maybe if she got this sister she could get it to tell her Pokémon (who'd tell her) what happened to Ash.

No dragon was going to stop her...

No dragon was going to keep her from Ash...

"Axew!"

A human voice?!

Psyduck and Misty turned towards where the voice had come from, as a lithe shape burst out of the trees and landed on a tree branch in front of them with practiced ease.

The shape was humanoid, female, with a large mass of purple hair behind her like some sort of mane. Her body was athletic, less pronounced than Misty's own, but taller. Her skin was tan, her brown eyes boiling with fury, while looking like she too had had a rough landing and a tumble.

Green energy was also forming around her hands as the woman glared at them, forming what appeared to be claws.

Dragon Claws.

A Bloodliner...

"Get away from my little brother Human! Your kind won't take anything more from me!" The wild child snarled, even going as far as to hiss. "Not today!"

The wild Bloodliner attacked.


 

Omake

Non Canon

Pokémon Arc-V

Earth 040615

"The Fun has Just Begun!"

Gary Oak, the CEO of Blue Corporation and thus an influential figure at Blue Duel School, seemed amused as the spotlight focused on the young Battler below him, a tired but not defeated Azumarill standing ready to continue the battle.

Once a Water-type, the boy's Azumarill, along with much of the rest of his team, had gained a new typing previously known to him, the Fairy-Type, following the boy's battle and surprise defeat of all-star Dragon user Strong Ishijima. Since then, he had continued to surprise him.

Hopefully he could continue to. Sayaki Satoshi, son of the pioneer of Entertainment Battles Sayaki Sachio, the boy who became the creator of the Fairy-Type.

A worthy rival perhaps, and a key figure in the potential future defense of the world from his father's ambitions.

"Azumarill, use Play Rough on his Goodra!"

Show me your power Satoshi...show me you can help me save the world.

...

Chapter Text

A mansion north of Lavender Town, Kanto

"Hey Meowth, ever feel like you're getting in the way of something more interesting than yourself?"

"We're Team Rocket girl, it's our job to get in peoples way and steal their Pokémon, and their time, and their roast beef."

"Come to think of it...where does roast beef come from anyway?"

Two of the three members of the Trio were debating their role in the universe, and the origins of deli meat, as they sat around a luxurious table, eating sandwiches of fine quality meat, if the origin being unknown, on fine china they planned to take with them and sell somewhere else to avoid being tracked down.

After their last confrontation with the kid who their boss wanted status reports on, including his battle skills, they had found themselves blasted off all the way into the backyard of a mansion somewhere just north of Lavender Town (Jessie has spotted the Pokémon Tower while they were flying through the air, and her C grade science skills still caused her to question why they always survived their bizarre trend of being blasted off by the boy, not to mention coming off completely unscathed).

Immediately after landing and seeing the mansion, James had freaked out as if he had seen a ghost, before shortly afterward getting a determined look that led him to pick the lock and go looking for something, before telling the two of them to do 'whatever the hell they wanted, take whatever the hell they want, and break anything they want'.

Naturally they raided the fridge, pocketed various pieces of jewelry, and threw a table into a very large screen TV when it would only show the Weather Channel.

Meowth disliked the current weather lady who covered Johto for some reason he couldn't quite pin down at all, so the television was quickly deactivated.

"Well, if you must know..." Meowth was going to cover the Meat truth, when a giddy sounding James entered the room with a gigantic, almost unnatural smile on his face.

"Guys, guys, guys!"

"I'm a girl," Jessie deadpanned at the blue haired man's enthusiasm.

"You will never believe what I found! Oh, I knew they hid them somewhere I would have never thought to look for them."

"Is it Gold?" Meowth inquired with a greedy glimmer in his eyes, not having caught the last part.

"Silver?" Jessie continued on the guessing streak, and ignorance streak.

"Opals?"

"Opals? I would have said Crystals..."

"Even better!" James shouted in joy as he threw a couple of objects into the air, which expanded and revealed themselves to be Pokéballs, before letting loose.

"Koffing!" the purple gas sack was the first obvious reveal.

"Growl!" a reddish furred Growlithe was the next one let out.

"Carnivine!" a giant floating green plant followed.

"Yamask!" an odd, ghost looking Pokémon with a mask for a face followed.

"Inkay!" finally was a blue and purple, upside down squid that was floating in the air.

"Friendship!" James stated with glee as all of the Pokémon posed with him.

"No, those look like Pokémon we could give to the boss," Jessie countered with a bored look on her face.

"What, never!" James looked like Jessie had suggested he throw all his bottle caps off a cliff. "These Pokémon are mine Jessie, and I haven't seen them in years. Not since...that day" the last line was said very, very ominously.

"What day?" Meowth asked, but the dark aura of misery that hovered over James and the non-Koffings with him suggested James might not answer.

"Fine, fine, you can keep them," Jessie wondered why the rich people who James said lived here had all these Pokémon who seemed to like James a lot. "But I get to keep your share of the cash for turning in all this loot to the boss, and I get the next Pokémon."

"Deal." James perked up quickly after Jessie got off him. "Now, grab everything you can take with you and let us be off! We need to be in Lavender Town ASAP!"

"Why? Who says the kid will even go to a town with no gym there." Meowth pointed out, as James pulled out and unfolded a newspaper advertisement featuring a chubby looking man with a blue shirt and white flowers on it, surrounded by dramatically posing Rhydon.

"This is why!"

!ROOKIE POKÉMON TRAINER COMPETITION!

!TRAINERS WITHOUT LEAGUE EXPERIENCE ACCEPTABLE!

!POKÉMON BATTLE DOME, LAVENDER TOWN, KANTO!

!ASK FOR SCOTT!

!AMAZING PRIZES! MONEY! FAME! AN AUTOGRAPH FROM DOME ACE TUCKER!

All who enter will receive a rare gift any trainer who aims for the top should want.

Jessie and Meowth observed the offerings, and shrugged.

It did seem like something the kid would go for.


 

The Battle of Gens 1-2 and 5

Garbed in a tannish, overly large shirt without sleeves, it's bottom lined in a faded pink coloration the girls thighs completely that covered her like shorts that made it hard for Misty to tell if the dragon girl was actually wearing shorts or not.

Misty honestly had no idea why that was the first thing that came to mind when she looked the girl over again. There were far more important things to debate than potential indecency.

"Duck..." Psyduck was backing away slowly 'Think we should just give the dragon-type to her and hope she spares our hides?'

The girl lunged at them with her attack, making any thought of offering up the Axew fade away.

Misty barely avoided getting sliced with some level of grace, while Psyduck just avoided it due to falling over.

As Psyduck scrambled away, Misty's mind was racing. How was she going to get away from this girl, she was still too exhausted from running from the Beedrill to risk trying to flee from her, and with those Dragon-moves Misty doubted that throwing a Whirlpool at her would solve the problem.

It wouldn't be that effective, it would make her exhaustion worse, and it would probably make the girl even more annoyed at her than she already was.

But while she could only do that...she had other options.

"Poliwrath, use Dynamic Punch!"

Throwing out her Pokéball just as the crazy dragon chick went at her again, the giant frog warrior burst forth with a glowing red fist.

The fist collided with her claws, causing the two to be thrown back from one another.

Poliwrath was knocked back a couple of feet, skidding on the ground and pushing up several plumes of dust.

"Poli!" He seemed fine, though his comment about 'the might of the father of several hundred young' was still as annoying as ever.

The girl was slammed into a tree, though she didn't collapse.

She just looked angry, and not confused. Shouldn't that have happened?

"Dynamic Punch's confusion effect only works if the move makes contact with the physical part of the target." Misty heard Ash's Pokédex explain her unanswered question. "As Dynamic Punch only hit the energy protrusion parts of Dragon Claw, the results were negative for confusion."

"Who said that?!" The woman growled as the Axew ran over to her with evidence concern in its voice.

“Axew?”

It also seemed to be limping a bit, which was not going to help convince the girl they had not hurt the little dragon.

"...I am just a benevolent tree spirit, only observing and not wishing to be harmed in any way," the Pokédex lied, badly.

"You don't sound like a tree," the girl countered, not buying it.

"How do you know what a tree sounds like? All trees do in fact sound like me.”

The girl now seemed to decide just to ignore him for now, as she narrowed her eyes at Poliwrath.

"A Water-Type huh..." Misty's eyes went wide when she saw her hand reach into her overly sized hair, and remove a Pokéball. "Go, Emolga!"

"Emolga, what kind of dragon is..." Misty wondered out loud, only to be greeted...

"Emol!"

By a white and yellow flying squirrel that was now sitting on the girl's arm like she had seen Flying-Type trainers do with their Pokémon.

"That...isn't a dragon".

"Unlike you, most trainers like using multiple types of Pokémon. Emolga is known as the Sky Squirrel Pokémon native to the Unova region. It's a Flying-Electric Type that lives in trees and glides between them on a thin membrane..."

"Emolga, that girl and her Psyduck hurt Axew!”

“I did not such thing!”

“Hey, don't interrupt the wise tree spirit!

“Why don't you show them your Discharge?!"

Looking rather furious, Emolga flew off the girl's shoulder and began to glow yellow. Soon after, multiple electric arcs flew off of the Emolga, as opposed the more focused single bolt from Thunderbolt.

The electricity struck several targets: Misty, Poliwrath, and the Pokédex.

"Ahhh!" Ow, was that what it felt like to be Team Rocket?!

"Poli-wrath!" 'What! This cannot be! I cannot be defeated by a single atta...' Poliwrath collapsed in defeat.

"Ow," the Pokédex complained blandly, suggesting it was probably faking it. Could the thing absorb electricity to power itself up?

Misty reached to return Poliwrath and send out Staryu, but suddenly she felt like every muscle in her body tensed up. She couldn't move...

She idly noticed visible electricity shocking her body as she seized up.

"What..."

"Discharge is a weaker attack than Thunderbolt, but in exchange for this power drop the move hits more targets and has an increased chance of paralyzing a target."

"You're still talking?!" the girl demanded of the Pokédex, which she still did not know its true name or form.

"I am a tree spirit. Electric-Type attacks are not very effective against me."

"Well, good thing I'm not trying to deal with you," the girl noted darkly, giving Misty a look that screamed 'I will do horrible things to you.' "No one hurts my brother...he's all I have left."

The last bit was said much quieter, though Misty still heard it.

Green energy claws formed on the girl's arms once more, likely meant for raking across her face. Emolga threateningly sparked its cheeks in the air next to her.

Her muscles still seized up, Misty couldn't do anything to stop them.

All hope seemed lost...

A glowing purple yellow duck, however, became her most unlikely of saviors.

"Psy-DUCK!" ‘Stay away from my food provider!’ And with that, a purple duck fist struck the Emolga head on. And it was sent flying.

"DUCK, punch," the Pokédex quipped as Emolga fell back to earth a good few yards away, in deep sleep?! "Secret Power has a different effect depending on where it is used. In a forest, it can cause the opponent to fall into a deep sleep.”

"Emolga!" the girl shouted in concern, just as her muscles started working right again.

"Finally, I can move again!" Misty declared as the girl rapidly turned her furious gaze at her. Returning Poliwrath first, she quickly reached for, and released two more Pokémon.

The wild girl reached kept one arm clawed, reaching into her hair for likely another Pokéball as she found herself facing down a Psyduck, a Staryu, and a Gyarados.


 

On the Hunter's ship

Suddenly, before Ash could work to free the Dragonite Ash was sure had belonged to Iris in a past life, a metal wall slid down and blocked any access to the petrified dragon.

It was probably connected to the very loud, very obnoxious alarm going off.

"What...what just..." he began, but was interrupted by something.

"Goomy?"

A something that said Goomy.

Turning around, the trio of trainer, starter, and fire-type saw a guilty looking Aipom, who was holding that odd, circular dragon Ash had noticed earlier: which was apparently purple with greenish spots.

"Ai..." 'Um, my bad'.

Apparently Aipom had accidentally freed it, and that apparently set off alarm bells. Alarm bells that apparently did not go off when he and Pikachu broke out.

Odd...flawed security system much?

"Goom?"

It had said Goomy, so Ash was going to assume that was what it was called. Most Pokémon were that way, though not all (Lucario, Onix, Arbok, Charizard...)

Speaking of Charizard...

"Hey, how did you get out..." One of J's goon burst into the Fang Room, a Golbat fluttering in front of him, only to have it knocked into his face by a spontaneous use of Dragon Tail from Charmeleon.

With both of them knocked out, Ash knew exactly what they had to do next.

"We need to get out of here! Let's try and find a landing craft or something. Blast everything that tries and stops us."

"'Meleon!" 'This should be fun' with that, Charmeleon walked over the downed man and bat (umph!) to begin the grand escape.

Noting Aipom looking upset about having triggered the alarm, Ash walked up to her...and pat her reassuringly on her head. “Ai?”

"We were going to be found out anyway Aipom...might as well save at least one Pokémon while we are at it," Ash said as he noted the scared looking blob dragon.

"Goomy..." it said weakly as Ash picked it up, noting its lightness.

"Don't worry Goomy, we're going to get you out of here." Ash told the dragon sincerely, causing the little dragon to look at him in awe.

Ash promptly reached for his three other Pokéballs.


 

Porta Vista Juice Bar

Paul, having recently defeated the local gym leader and earned his third badge (An orange bell like one), was sipping from a cup of orange juice in the Pokémon Center with a smirk.

That was an easy win if he had ever had one, though at the very least it felt deserved. It was more of a fight than he would have gotten if he had fought those talentless bimbos in Cerulean at the very least.

One did not prove oneself strong by defeating the worst of the worst after all.

A Drapion fell to the cascade of stones from the Regirock's Stone Edge that it was desperately battling for a turnaround.

Strength was the most important thing, nothing else mattered to a Pokémon Trainer. He realized that long ago.

The problem was that so few Pokémon had worthy strength. Few were worth being trained by someone who aimed for the top.

Most were nothing but cannon fodder meant for cannon fodder, weak Pokémon trained by weak Trainers one walked over during the preliminary rounds of League Tournaments.

He would find the strongest potential Pokémon, and make them his own.

The weak would be tossed aside.

Looking up from his drink, he noted a television (Marked with a Hoppip with JWitz written across it, it was the logo of the multi-national media company that manufactured them), which was doing a recap of the recent Ever Grande Conference, mostly as a set up for the upcoming Lily of the Valley competition, featuring a battle between a Sceptile and a Gardevoir.

The Gardevoir's trainer was down to just it after having lost a Ninjask, Shedinja, Probopass, Altaria and Flygon, while the Sceptile trainer had lost a Hariyama, Donphan, and Shiftry so far. A Metagross had been substituted and was still on tap.

The trainers in question were named Tyson and John Archer, but Paul really didn't care about that.

Five badges to go, before he'd be able to compete in the tournaments as well.

He had more to do first before then however.

Much more.


 

Back on the ship, a cut later

"Pika-Chu!" 'Take that!'

With a shout, Pikachu electrocuted a whole line of guards and Golbat who stood in their way.

As enemies and obstacles came at them from all sides, Ash's team was there to fight them.

"Golbat use Sc..."

"Use String Shot!" Ash countered as the enemies bat was silenced by bounding string.

Where J got all of these mooks, Ash wasn't quite sure.

Goons ran in terror at the barrage of Ember from Charmeleon.

Were there really that many bad people in the world?

Before they could let out their bats, several of J's men were tripped by Squirtle's Rapid Spin.

Then again, the world was a big place. If for every 99 good people in the world there was 1 bad one, could that add up?

With a Gust attack, Pidgeotto blew away the gas trap that they had unintentionally triggered before they were knocked out.

Or was that just a little too much for him to be thinking about right now?

Popping out from the air vent, Aipom hit a side button. The door clicked, sliding open to reveal the rest of her team, and the Goomy in Ash's arms (Which hadn't done much. Apparently Goomy was scared/unable to use attacks, at least according to the Pokémon who he could understand. What a strange Dragon-Type). When he got out of here, he'd have to check.

Regardless of any philosophy, they had fought their way to the room that Ash was pretty sure held a way out.

Escape pod, a very long rope, a transport that had an autopilot, something like that.

Approaching the door before them, Ash and his team were ready to fight through the last line of Golbat users (and why did mooks always use Golbat anyway?).

Only for the door to open up to reveal a totally different sort of threat blocking them.

For while the wide, open hangar hold a number of flying machines, it also had J in it.

J came with her currently released Salamence, Drapion, and Ariados, which quickly used Spider Web their way, with the clear intent of restraint.

Without any command, Charmeleon burned the net away, leaving Ash and the seven mons with him vs J and her three.

She noted that behavior with displeasure. "Clearly you need to train that thing more. A Pokémon should not be making its own calls like that".

"Well, the two of us just happen to be on the same wavelength. We don't even need words!"

She scoffed at his response. "I've read your profile, don't bother trying to make yourself off like your some sort of Savant or something. Either you told it to do that, or it disobeyed you. Attacks should be performed only when the command is given, never a moment before or after. Anything else is just rebellion, not a real command. Allow me to show you what a real attack looks like: Flamethrower!"

Salamence, being the only one of her Pokémon could use that attack, released a massive torrent of flames right at them.

"Block it with Ember Charmeleon!"

With a roar, Charmeleon let loose his flames, only for them to be completely blocked and overwhelmed by the stronger fire attack.

While Charmeleon could only glare in fury at his weak ranged attack, Ash had other options.

"Pikachu Thunderbolt! Butterfree Psybeam! Aipom Swift! Pidgeotto Gust! Squirtle Water Gun!"

With all their might, his Pokémon let loose their ranged attacks at once. Electricity, psy-energy, stars, wind, and water struck the flames head on...and slowed them down.

But the fire was still gaining ground.

J smirked at the shocked look that now adorned Ash's face "Nice try kid, but my Salamence could take on Pokémon trained by members of the Elite Four. Numbers can't overwhelm sheer power"

As if confirming her words, the attacks shattered, and the flames continued right at them.

"Squir!" 'This, is going to hurt'.

"Meleon!" 'We'll see about that!'

However, with glowing orange eyes Charmeleon roared, slamming his claws to the ground as a pillar of fire formed in front of them, finally stopping the fire attack in its tracks.

"Wait, Charmeleon did you just..." Ash said in shock as J growled.

"It learned a new move out of sheer willpower? How cliché. You're lucky kid, I'll give you that, and with a bit more time you'd probably have been a pretty good trainer whose Pokémon I could have captured and sold for quite a lot of money. But sadly your time is now, so let's do this again. Flamethrower, Pin Missile, Night Shade!"

In order the Dragon, the Scorpion, and the Spider let loose the attacks right at Ash.

"Block it with Fire Pledge!" Ash called out as Charmeleon once again slammed its claws into the ground, forming a great wall of fire.

The attacks collided, and Fire Pledge held.

For about ten seconds, then it broke.

"Mele!?" 'But...my new attack!'

"Do tell your confused lizard that a new attack doesn't automatically mean victory would you?" J seemed snidely amused at Charmeleon's shock, as the powers flew right at Ash, who looked ready to call in the rest of his team to block the attacks once more under the assumption that if Fire Pledge could stop the attacks once after the others had weakened it previously, the reverse was also true.

However, a shimmering Goomy leapt out of Ash's arms and into the lines of fire before this idea could be implemented.

"Goo!"

"Goomy!" Ash called out in surprise and fear for Goomy's safety.

"How long was that thing charging up Bide for?!" J was similarly surprised, though over her own safety.

The resulting big explosion answered the question as 'long enough to be able to release the power very shortly after they made contact'.


 

Cannot give an exact location due to rapid falling from high up

Good news, was they had gotten away from Hunter J.

Bad news...getting away from Hunter J was accomplished by being blown out through the resulting giant hole in J's airship.

Thankfully Ash wasn't out cold, and his hat had not been blown off of his head (he'd debate why later). One must always be conscious, and hat wearing, whenever possible.

All around him were his Pokémon: Pikachu was clinging desperately onto his leg, Pidgeotto and Butterfree were trying not to get blown away, Aipom was flailing around in a panic, Charmeleon looked furious about his lack of wings to stabilize himself and seemed to be trying to will an evolution (unless that look was actual constipation), and Squirtle had donned his shades and crossed his arms together completely unfazed by the whole thing.

Goomy though...Goomy was currently quite out cold and falling right beside Ash. Its squishy body would not help in a few thousand more feet.

Ash made an attempt to reach for it, but it fell out of reach.

Just as something fell out from his pocket and, due to his higher mass flew right back into his stomach.

With his yet outstretched arm reaching for it, Ash felt it was something small and spherical, which narrowed its identity to only a very select few things. Clicking the center of it, it expanded.

A Pokéball?

Ash's eyes went wide as he brought the object into view, revealing itself as not just a Pokéball, but a Heal Ball.

He must have put this in his pants’ pocket last night and had forgotten to remove it.

The Pokédex had said Heal Balls healed the Pokémon captured, and Goomy was probably wild.

As Goomy slowly drifted away, Ash pointed the Heal Ball right at it and opened it.

A red burst of energy shot out of it and extended forward. It started to falter just as got to Goomy, but Goomy was still thankfully turned into energy and sucked in.

Ash felt the ball vibrate briefly, before it teleported away to Oak's lab, and healed for that matter.

Ash mentally resisted the nearly irresistible urge to pose after his captures to focus on the matter at hand. It was probably impractical at the present time.

Slamming the side of his belt, he managed to slap several Pokéballs. Their lights shot out, striking the falling Aipom, Squirtle, and Charmeleon and returning them. As he looked around for Pidgeotto and Butterfree, he briefly saw a blue glow from the corner of his eye, Lucario's staff.

Then he felt power in his eyes, as he felt a pair of claws grab his right arm, and a pair of smaller limbs hold his left.


 

Back on the ground

The brawl had continued since Psyduck had dealt with that pesky electric type.

Since then, she had in fact hit the girl with a Whirlpool. Just as she had suspected, that had not done much but confuse her, as if shocked Misty could do that. Of course, the paralysis from Discharge was still hitting her, and now the girl was being hit by a constant stream of Water Gun from her Staryu as the condition was striking her once more.

Meanwhile, Gyarados was currently fighting some giant mole Pokémon the girl had let out. The Pokédex, which was still calling itself a 'insert adjective here' tree spirit, had called it an Excadrill. Gyarados was getting aerial support from her Wingull, which was necessary as while the Atrocious Pokémon had plenty of ranged options, it lacked close range counters to moves like Excadrill's Drill Run.

Psyduck had been the first to deal with Excadrill. He had been KO'd by a powerful Metal Claw, but thankfully he had landed on the asleep Emolga, thus weighing the dangerous electric-type down as to keep it immobile.

The girl's Axew was currently trying to push Psyduck off the electric Pokémon, to no success.

Misty felt the paralysis recede once more, and was ready to hit the girl with another Whirlpool...only for another explosion to ring out across the land.

"Again?" the girl snarled, as it seemed several shapes flew out of...what Misty could tell as seemingly nothing. The nothing they fell out from did seem to flicker though.

Something invisible?

The number of things seemed to diminish quickly though.

By the time the invisible specks started to become visible, there were about four of them. The battle had stopped, as all present took note of the descending shapes.

All were tense, ready to fight them if need be, as well as the nearby others. Misty was desperately hoping that they'd just be Team Rocket and could be dealt with quickly enough.

Odd that she seemed to see them as such a nuisance. The first and third time they showed up they were actually somewhat of a threat.

The four shapes however, as they came to focus, caused Misty and her Pokémon to de-tense. Gyarados in particular, oddly enough calmed quickly despite the species being known for their volatile temperament.

It was Ash. Pidgeotto and Butterfree were holding onto him, their eyes glowing orange along with his own. They seemed surprisingly strong.

Pikachu was holding onto Ash's leg for dear life, like a child scared of an amusement park ride.

As the four landed on the ground, all four collapsed in a dead heap.

"Caw..."

"Free..." the Flying types sounded exhausted.

Pikachu was kissing the ground in reverence.

"...That...wasn't fun." Ash muttered to himself as he lay in the dirt.

It wasn't fun!? He got abducted by something that set off a giant Beedrill swarmed, fell out freakin' open sky, barely avoided hitting the ground and going splat, and that was all he could say?!

What a...why that...Misty wasn't sure why she felt an odd mixture of fury and relief, but it was a strange feeling she'd hope would stop soon.

"Wait, you were on her ship, weren't you?!"

The girl had stopped glaring at her, but now was focusing on the exhausted Ash.

Somehow the idea of this claw crazy girl trying to attack Ash after whatever the hell he had just been doing made Misty even madder than when she was being attacked.

"Did you see my parents? Did you see my brother!? Where are they?!" She burst over to Ash and lifted him by the shirt collar. That seemed to refocus him a bit, and as he looked at the girl he looked surprised, shocked, and even slightly relieved (or was it just from being alive after what had just happened and he was currently drunk off it?)

Pikachu eyed the girl with similar expressions, instead of protective hostility as she might expect from this. It was familiar, almost like...

Ash lost his balance briefly, as if still dizzy from the landing. As he slipped, the girl used her other hand to grab his arm as to prevent him from falling and hitting his head, at which point he would not be questionable.

However, as she did so, her posture changed. She became less tense, and somewhat confused, a mood reflected by her Axew and Excadrill who didn't seem as willing to attack now that their sister/trainer was calming down. Misty suspected she probably had an odd expression of her face right now as she noted Ash.

Because Misty had a similar expression on her face once.

When she had first met him, and got those strange feelings. As if she had met Ash before. This girl, she seemed to be affected the same way she had been.

Why though?


 

Unknown Location

The Emissary appeared out of thin air in a darkened room, a room with no visible sunlight. A single, raised throne was in the center of it, depicting a man who could be identified, but one could tell this man felt, and probably was, quite powerful.

Kneeling before him, the Emissary spoke in reverence. "I have news to report, My Liege." The shadowy figure motioned, as if to grant permission to speak. "The boy has proven himself, escaping from the Huntress with ease, and has most interestingly obtained two things of remarkable status: a Goomy and a second female companion, a daughter of Dragons".

"A Pokémon, my Emissary, is but a tool. Just as we stand about humans with our superior strength of power, we stand above such miserable creatures with our superior strength of mind. As the bearers of both intelligence and might, it is our natural place to rule over both and do with each as we please." The King spoke in a voice of cool superiority. "I care not what tools my subjects choose to arm themselves with, in the end a shovel is not that different from a rake. As to the girl however..." The King looked amused. "Two such bearers of the second rarest of powers, the boy's luck is truly amazing. Clearly, what observation we have on him now is not nearly enough."

"What else is there to expect, My Liege, from a child of two bloodlines who bears the Domain of Power? The boy was made to be a harbinger of the new world, he serves no other purpose in life. The girl of Dragons is of little consequence in the long run, though I admit to being concerned about the influence of the daughter of water may hold for him."

The King was silent in contemplation for a moment as the Emissary finished, before rising "Assemble the others and prepare for your next assignment. The first girl has three sisters who still live, bring them to me, alive and unharmed in any point of importance."

"Yes, My Liege, but if I may ask, why do you want them? Our observations suggest they are not useful as collateral should the girl need to be made to obey."

"True, they may be useless in that one way, but they are still related. I'm sure at least one of them has the proper genetics to get more children of Water in our forces. We have three to go through after all, it would not be any problem to dispose of any useless ones".

"Continue observation of the boy. Unlike the last one, this one looks like he has promise."

Meanwhile off the coast of Cerulean Cape, J found a note from that damn emissary, congratulating her on a job well done and telling her to check her bank accounts.

She promptly made for her liquor cabinet, and as far away from Kanto as possible.


 

Omake 1

Non Canon

Alternative escape from the J Airship

Before J could attack, however, an energy blast shot her in the back, sending her flying into the air, before flashing and falling back down as a giant trophy version of herself, for some reason.

Ash and his Pokémon, and Goomy, looked at what had just happened in shock, though surprisingly Pikachu didn't seem that surprised.

In fact, the mouse seemed to be expecting that as the J trophy hit the floor and rolled away. Her Pokémon panicked, fleeing in shock (or maybe in a 'yay, I'm free of this scary lady' sort of way, Ash wasn't quite sure).

"Pika." 'So, you got here in time then. Good thing too, I was worried you didn't get my message. You can give us a lift, right?'

Turning in the direction Pikachu was facing, Ash's eyes went wide with shock.

A giant, orange person in a metal battle suit was acknowledging Pikachu's words, the arm cannon still steaming from that energy attack that had trophied J.

Alongside the metal warrior was a red and blue dressed plumber with a moustache and a large M on his hat and a pink ball with red feet and a face.

And Ash had absolutely no idea who they were supposed to be, how they got here, or why Pikachu seemed to know them.

"Um...do you know these, um, people Pikachu?" Ash asked the dumb question as Pikachu smirked.

"Pika-Pi." 'Oh Ash, I have a whole secret life you know nothing about even before the whole reboot thing. Damn, that really makes me sound like poor McCloud and Lombardi...So, Samus.' Pikachu had turned back to the cyborg with that word, so Ash assumed that was Samus. 'I heard Roy finally managed to get back, and he brought that Ryu guy with him. Seeing as we got the robot, figured we'd have to wait until at least the next round to fight him. Never mind that though, are we still on for next Saturday, I've always wanted to test my mettle against the fabled Hadoken? And what about those Inkling things, are they going to show up as well?'

The Plumber shook his head. "We-a still working on it. Their universe is-a little...tricky to get too...too much water, 7.8, you know-a how it is. You know how Link feels about water after that-a temple he visited that one time..."

"What the hell is a Hadoken? Is an Inkling some sort of Pokémon? What's so bad about a water temple, and why 7.8?" Ash wondered to himself, as the pink ball picked up J's trophied form and caused it to vanish, as if to a trophy case somewhere.

Omake 2 (Originally coming from the world of the Loops but was rejected and now is here)

Non Canon

Why I feel Nintendo probably needs to stop trying to attract third parties

Year 2020 (or something)

The scarred and blackened ground, and rather well pixeled ground at that, was coated in a layer of ash as deep as northern snowfall.

The ashes of destroyed franchises crunched at the boots of the executives as they walked across the wrecked landscape.

"So, I heard the console wars are finally over." An executive with EA on his breast pocket said sadly.

"Yeah, how are we supposed to get our amusement without the two trying to kill each other?" Another with the Activision logo on him said wistfully.

"A singular market should ensure that the game creation engines should now be linear," the Ubisoft executive reminded them. "That will save us time in development."

"Yes, because the speed of game creation is the most important, isn't it?" Rockstar's executive smirked at the Ubisoft fellow, who glared at him.

"Peace fellow AAA publishers!" Activision insisted as they started to climb up a hill. "Soon, we shall see who remains. Sony, or Microsoft. Let us see who we shall guide in the right direction in the future".

As the 3rd party developers, both shown and not shown, reached the top of the hill, they looked down at the final battle of the console wars, and stared slack jawed.

No one was left standing. The bodies of both the PlayStation and X-Box warriors both lay on the ground in smoldering heaps. Kratos and Master Chief looked like they had died at the same time delivering the killing blows, a fate that many others shared from what it seemed.

"...Who won?" the Rocksteady executive asked.

"I...think they killed each other off." Ubisoft declared with some sadness for the loss of their only places of business.

"Is no one left?" Square-Enix brought up the big question. Where were they going to publish their games now?!

"Of course there is!"

Nervously, all the 3rd parties turned around, before looking like they had just seen something horrible.

And that someone was a pristine looking red and blue plumber with a M on his hat. Joining him was a yellow mouse, green clad swordsmen, pink spherical lifeform, and an armoured suit wearing individual.

"How the Atari are you still alive!?" Mr. EA demanded as the various characters held up their reasons: a green mushroom, a golden rhombus like piece of medicine, a heart container, etc etc.

"Nintendo never dies!" Mario declared happily, seemingly oblivious to the looks of horror on the 3rd parties faces (some less than others, Square-Enix and Capcom for example). "We stayed out of all these crazy wars about pixels and frames and realism and all those silly things, letting everyone kill themselves over it! It isn't the first time we've had to pick up the pieces from a bunch of uncontrollable idiots, and we can get all sorts of interesting things from it!" Mario gestured to Samus, who outstretched her non-laser blaster arm to show off a display of Amiibo. "Look, we've got so many new things now! Not only do we have Banjo back, but we also have Minecraft, Sockboy, and Kratos Amiibo! Psst, we're not going to make a lot of him, so buy fast!"

Mario's teasing tone did not make the 1st parties relax.

"Nintendo has Minecraft!?"

"As an exclusive!?"

"What's Banjo?"

As the third parties whispered among themselves, Link whispered something into Mario's ear, causing him to return to the intended and more important conversation.

"Oh yes, now, I do-a believe you all need a place to release your new games on, right? Well, we are quite willing to let you resume publishing games on our systems!" Mario said cheerfully as Kirby spat out of his mouth a large calendar, which Link held up dutifully "Now-a, I know you just are waiting for a chance to go mono e mono with our software, so here's our release dates! I can't-a wait to see what sells better this Christmas; Pikachu's Sinnoh remakes or your Assassins! Let the best gameplay win."

Ubisoft exec was sweating at that comment. "Our assassins vs their Mons?! On gameplay!? I...I'm sure you mean on graphics, right?!"

"Pika pi?" 'Graphics? Who plays Pokémon for graphics? You play it for the gameplay mechanics'.

"Wait, Pokémon, Metroid, and Splatoon!? How the hell are we supposed to sell against those!?" EA complained.

"And our stockholders want the next Call of Duty on sale by April!"

"But we aren't releasing anything big in April?" Mario said in confusion "Just Pikmin 4 and-a Excite game."

"You're putting Mother 3 on the virtual console! You're going to fry the internet, and our Multiplayer! What are we supposed to sell a Call of Duty on without Online Multiplayer!?"

"The story?" Samus suggested as the executive recoiled as if struck.

While a few of the 3rd party executives seemed interested, the others were huddling together and whispering to one another.

"We cannot work under these conditions!"

"How the hell are we supposed to compete with them!?"

"Think we can get Sega back on the console market?"

"No, no, they are no longer able, maybe we should just go all PC?"

"PC!? Are you mad!? Our ports to the PC were nearly as bad as ours to Nintendo! Those pirates will laugh us out!"

"Maybe one of us should make a console instead?"

"Not me!"

As the triple AAA's continued to ignore the plumber group, Mario sighed.

"Do you think offering to make Assassins Creed or Bioshock Amiibo would make them come around?" he wondered out-loud.

"No, I think they expect us to pay them more money to come over and release half-decent games than we spend making our own games," Link spoke out loud for that answer.

Chapter Text

Professor Oak's ranch, around the time of last chapter

Professor Oak had seen some interesting things in his time.

He had seen the change of the world culture, legendary wars so terrifying Oak hoped to the ends of time and space that he never see them return, the birth of his child and grandchild, and had become mildly famous and important.

He'd also once witnessed several of the Kanto Elite Four drunk. That terrified him more than the wars. A drunk Agatha was just so, so...wrong. The Professor shuddered from a particularly disturbing memory of the last time he'd seen her.

However, a Heal Ball suddenly teleporting into his laboratory from a few thousand feet above sea level in a flat forested area was a new one to him.

Picking the sphere up, Oak felt a sense of unease come over him.

"Please let this be a Flying-type that Ash somehow managed to catch mid-air despite not having a Pidgeot or Charizard..." he muttered to himself as he clicked the sphere open, releasing a burst of light that formed...

"Goomy?"

Into a purple slime dragon native to Kalosian swamps, and not the Kanto sky.

Professor Oak looked at the weakest of the Dragon-types, as said weakest of dragons trembled on the desk it had landed on.

"...Do I want to know?" the Professor questioned the Pokémon.

The Dragon-type rapidly shook its head...body...mass.

"Would whatever happened make Ash's mother go grey at thirty-three?"

"Goo?" Wait, why did he ask a Pokémon without body hair about ageing hair color?

Oh Arceus, he was getting old.

"Never mind...I'm just going to pretend that you were obtained normally and not ask how you got in the sky, nor how Ash got in the same part of the sky to capture you. Nope, zilch, nada, not going to happen."

Carrying said slime dragon in his arms as he entered his sitting room (enjoying its oddly pleasant squishy feeling), the Professor blinked in surprise as he saw that he and the Goomy were not alone.

And it wasn't because Ash's Bulbasaur was sitting on his couch. No, it was the person who was petting Bulbasaur who had caught him off guard.

"Good morning Professor!" Delia Ketchum said cheerfully.

"Delia, how nice to see you..." the Professor said in surprise. "Um...what are you doing in my laboratory?"

"You left the door open."

The Professor muttered something about bad habits, before taking a seat and placing Goomy on the table between his two couches. Bulbasaur looked up from his spot on the couch to eye the new arrival with confusion.

"Bulba?"

"Goo."

"Bulba!?"

"Well, I assume since you didn't come here for my tofu you want to hear about how Ash is doing. Well my dear, he just caught this Goomy and..."

"Oh, this little thing?" Delia looked down at the little dragon, which caused it to jump a little; it seemed quite nervous at being looked at by the woman. "What is it, exactly? Sort of looks like a Grimer."

"Actually, it's a Dragon-type native to the Kalos region. I'm not sure how Ash got it, but they can evolve into a powerful Pokémon known as Goodra. Anyway, I hope Ash doesn't catch a Grimer, or worse a Muk: they smell horrible and can be extremely clingy."

"A dragon huh?" Delia idly poked Goomy in curiosity, seemingly unnerved by its gelatinous form. (Goo!) "It doesn't look anything like a Dragon-type to me."

"I could the say the same about a Dratini, but I assure you both are Dragon-types. Anyway..."

"Excuse me Professor Oak? I hope you don't mind me coming in, but your door was open..."

A professional looking person in a business suit had appeared in his sitting room, a briefcase in hand.

"Oh for..." The Professor cut himself off before he said something rude. (He really needed to stop leaving his front door open. Honestly, anyone could just enter his place these days and ask him random questions!) "You're not from the government are you?"

The businessman looked offended. "Do I look like a tax collector to you?!"

"Well, yes actually," Delia admitted.

"Bulba." The Seed Pokémon nodded.

"Goo?" Goomy seemed to be blissfully unaware of what a tax collector was. Oh, you enviable gelatinous creature.

"Well, I'm not. I'm a television executive from Pokémon T.V..."

"Well, that's worse."

The T.V exec lost his footing at Delia's quip.

"Oh, the network that obtained exclusive rights to cover all Pokémon tournaments, contests, festivals, performances, and assorted other events." Oak said as he recalled the companies exact business contracts. Business contracts that somehow survived government overview despite many complaints and immense anger from the other television networks like Vulpix News and the Sports Channel.

Many conspiracy theories surrounded the group. Many, many theories, hardly any of them good.

"Yes, the very same." The man readjusted himself as if his collapse never happened. "Anyway, I represent my company in its express desire to acquire film of up and coming League challengers ahead of the curve. I'm told that you are the guardians of Gary Oak and Ash Ketchum, respectively." He noted Oak and Delia as he said this.

"Yes..." Delia began nervously as Oak frowned and nodded slowly. He could see where this was going.

"Both are making remarkable progress in their league challenges; Gary Oak has obtained his fourth badge recently in record time, while Ash got a glowing recommendation to us from none other than Lt. Surge himself. We see a bright future in store for the both of them, and we want the whole world to see them shine. To put it simply, we wish for legal permission, from the two of you as their guardians, to put the two of them on our Gym Battle review program and to have the full information experience during their league and tournament challenges!"

The room was quiet for a few moments. Guardians and Seed Pokémon alike seemed to be sizing him up; Goomy was just watching the whole thing in confusion.

"I see...you just want to shore up things in case one of them becomes champion so you can create another documentary program for massive ratings, like you did with Cynthia," Oak surmised as the executive looked dismayed.

"The way you say it makes me sound like a villain," the exec said sounding slightly offended.

"Well, you are basically buying up hundreds of exclusive contracts in the goal of finding that one golden ticket."

"Exactly. It's hardly illegal, it's only blatantly capitalist!" the executive pointed out. "And what boy's dream isn't it to end up on the biggest network, placed just before the prime-time. Hell, with the League currently scheduled in between the Ever Grande and Lily of the Valley tournaments, they could even make the prime-time itself!"

The Leagues operated on a rotating schedule with some breathing room in between. The Indigo, Silver, Ever Grande, Lily of the Valley, and the rest of the tournaments were all arranged so as to not clash with each other or other major events like Grand Festivals and Showcase Master Class tournaments. This allowed trainers a chance to rest up, and either start working towards the next tournament round or register for the next one if they were approved to do so.

It was effective, if a little overabundant. But good luck trying to tell a Pokémon League to shut itself down to make the entire year less packed. Nationalism could get nasty sometimes.

"I don't know..." Delia seemed torn over the comment on a boy's dreams, having known what Ash's was for years. However, the Professor was not so easily convinced.

He had resistance against corporate attacks!

"Did I mention the generous monetary compensation? The trainer and legal guardian of said trainer each earns 1% of all monies generated by how much money his time on screen produces."

1% of screen-time revenue from even one battle in a semi-major tournament...

Curse his limited government funding!

Monetary attacks: super effective against him. Well, within reason. He wasn't going to sell off anything living, or anything that was attached or part of something still living.

Grr...

"Very well," he agreed. Well, at least Gary wouldn't exactly mind getting a television deal to earn himself great amounts of money and attention, there was however the downside that it would fuel Gary's already inflated ego.

As to Ash though, he noted as Delia followed suit agreeing to the deal, would he even notice?



The next day

Waking up in her secret base 'tent' that was formerly a tree, Misty idly stretched the morning fatigue away, all the while recalling how weird yesterday had gotten...particularly after Ash had fallen out of the sky.

And the fact she found out she had somehow managed to bypass the Rock Tunnel while fleeing like mad from that giant Beedrill swarm was only the tip of that iceberg.

While they had managed to get their stuff back once more, they probably could have marked the trail they took to do so and made a fortune marking a bypass to Rock Tunnel. Oh well, maybe the Pokédex did it on its own accord, it was quirky that way.

Anyway, the strangeness all seemed to be centered around the girl who had tried to kill her the moment said girl had spotted her after her great running away from the Beedrill.

Her name was Iris. And she was...

"Who are you!? How did you escape from that Hunter J creep!? Where is my family!" She shook him by his collar in anger. "And why don't I want to beat an answer out of you?!"

Aggressive. Then again, nearly getting your face ripped off by said girl probably was a good hint to that.

Afterwards, the story had eventually came out. Apparently Ash had been kidnapped by a Pokémon poacher called J, because apparently Jessie, Jenny, and Janice were not cool sounding enough, who had previously taken the Dragonite who had raised Iris. Ash had apparently attempted to free the Dragonite but only rescued something called a Goomy instead, then got blasted out of J's flying fortress.

Iris took that well...

Actually, she didn't. Not at all.

Narrowing her eyes in the direction that Misty, as far as she could tell, Hunter J's ship had went, Iris promptly began walking that way…

"I wouldn't do that if I were you."

Ash, at this point having reobtained his Pokédex, flinched as Iris turned around rapidly and glared at the now debunked 'tree spirit'. She seemed somewhat unnerved by it. Then again, what would a girl raised by flying dragons know about Pokédexes and the fact they have snarky personalities?

Come to think of it, why could Iris speak the human tongue? That was a question for another time though given the circumstances.

"And why not, you talking piece of flashy metal!" the purple haired girl bit back.

"Flashy metal? I do have a tutoring program in insults, if you are interested in trying to mock me later." Misty honestly couldn't tell if the Pokédex was kidding or not, and all the while Ash was getting more unnerved as the wild girl and the artificial intelligence continued to hold a glare off. Well, they would if the Pokédex had eyes to glare with. "However, based on my trainer's commentary, I can see the scenarios that would result in you chasing down this Hunter J. They come in two distinct brands: either you fail to find her and wander alone and miserable, or you find her, get beaten horribly, and killed, brutalized, brutalized and then killed, or killed and then brutalized."

"I would not!" Iris snarled as green energy started to swirl around her hands.

"Axew!" Her 'little brother' chirped in agreement. Misty would later find out that Axew was in fact hatched from a female Dragonite whom had looked after Iris (the father was apparently a Haxorus), and then the Pokédex commented something about lax sexual norms about Dragonite in what could be described as under it's none existent breath, which Misty had no need to know about. Her Excadrill and now revived Emolga nodded in agreement with her.

"Pokémon Hunter J did not earn her infamy because she is a pushover like a certain annoying trio. She possesses advanced technologies and her Salamence is tough enough to fight in Elite Four level battles, and her Drapion and Ariados could defeat even the best teams of Gym Leaders, particularly ones like Erika and Valerie. You cannot beat her."

"Well unlike some average human, I have a few tricks they don't!" She manifested the glowing green Dragon Claws for good measure.

"Prove me wrong then: defeat Ash's Charmeleon with your Excadrill. If you can do that, then maybe you could stand a sliver of a chance."

"Hey! Can I please not get involved in this?!" Ash begged as the Pokédex sighed.

"Outside of releasing said Charmeleon, you don't have to. I will battle the girl!"

"You can't just..." Ash began indignantly at his Pokédex for trying to commandeer his Pokémon.

"Very well you man-made crime against nature, I accept!"

The Pokédex could do damn whatever it wanted, it seemed.

And so it promptly somehow got Ash's Charmeleon to obey it and fought Iris's Excadrill.

Fun fact: Excadrill is part Steel.

Fire is Super-Effective against it.

Charmeleon was panting heavily by the end of the fight, but Excadrill lay defeated.

Iris looked furious, and heartbroken all at the same time.

"Like I said," the Pokédex told her bluntly, "you, are not strong enough. Even if you could deal with the Salamence, that does not factor in the Ariados, the Drapion, the technology you and most normal people would be baffled by, and the sheer difficulty of tracking down an invisible, flying, warship."

"I can...I have to...you don't know anyt...th..." Her voice hitched and cracked as her eyes glistened with forming tears.

Now, the girl was just crying incoherently, her legs failing her as she hit the ground. Her Axew and Emolga quickly darted over to comfort her. Iris' whole body shook as she wailed in anguish, she wanted her family back but from what had just happened all her hope seemed to leave her. Only a shell of the once confident girl remained kneeling on the ground with tears leaving trails down her cheeks.

Misty felt very bad about watching the girl break down at the realization that she, in fact, was not ready, or able, to save the ones she cared about.

It was also a somewhat self-realizing moment when Misty realized that the emotions that this girl, Iris, was feeling...she couldn't even comprehend.

She had never gotten along with her family. She probably, no definitely, wouldn't be feeling this way if something like this happened to them. She might even have felt...happy, if they had been taken away by an evil supervillain, leaving her alone and free.

She'd even have gotten the Gym, which would have been a dream come true.

The fact that if she had been Iris's situation she wouldn't be crying, but cheering...

The whole revelation made Misty very uneasy, even as she felt immensely bad for the poor girl who never even an hour ago had been trying to claw her face off or fry her with an electric rodent.

However, then Ash intervened.

Ash.

The trainer from Pallet had been mostly silent until this point, outside of arguing against his Pokédex. He had clearly been just as bothered by Iris's breakdown as she had been, but seemingly in more a 'this girl is crying because of a horrible situation and I can't do anything to change it' sort of way than a 'damn, I would actually probably have killed to be in the scenario this girl is in right now, and that just makes me feel horrible', sort of way. There also seemed to be what Misty could only describe as a hidden center of joy to Ash at seeing this girl alive.

Did he just value life so much that the girl having survived was a big positive to him? Did falling from the sky just make one appreciate life more? It was an interesting train of thought.

Anyway, he eventually began to talk to the still broken girl.

"You know, if you aren't strong enough now, there is always time to become stronger."

The girl stopped audibly crying when he said this, but as she looked at Ash, her eyes were still quite laden with tears, her shoulders still shaking and her breath catching.

"I'm a trainer who’s aiming to enter the Pokémon League and win it all. Of course, to get to that point, I need to earn gym badges, to prove that I am ready to do so." He flashed his inner jacket, revealing his three badges. "Right now, J has me completely outclassed, but if I can prove myself and win eight badges, then on paper at least, my Pokémon are strong enough to fight J's Poison-Types. And if I can do well enough in the league, they'll be tough enough to fight her Salamence."

Misty noted he was omitting the fact he technically had ten badges at the moment. It was probably for the best anyway.

"To get there though, my Pokémon and I will need to do a lot of training. We need to get stronger and stronger, and the best way to do that is with sparring buddies."

He extended his hand to Iris at this point, who was looking at him with wide eyes and unshed tears shining in them.

"If you come with us Iris, and train with us, you'll get stronger. Eventually, you'll get strong enough to defeat Hunter J, and to save your family. So what do you say Iris, do you want to get stronger together?"

She eyed his hand for a few moments, still looking quite devastated, before taking it with a strong grip.

And with that, their party size became three.

Misty honestly wondered if she should be annoyed at Ash for springing on such an invite without asking her permission first. After all, many people didn't like having to travel with people who had, in the past, attempted to remove ones limbs.

However, it was such an honest, kind-hearted, noble deed of his that Misty just couldn't feel mad at him.

Who knows, maybe she could find some common ground with Iris give enough time.

Having dressed as she reflected over yesterday's events Misty stepped out of her little shelter, to the sight of Iris.

The girl yawned, stretching a bit as if she had just woken up. She stared at Misty, as if unsure as to why she was staring right back. "Morning Misty."

"Iris..." Misty questioned very, very uneasily. "Why, aren't you wearing any clothes?"

Iris looked at her like she just asked why one would cover one's nose in a dump. "Because it's going to be warm today. What's the point in wearing clothes if it's not going to get cold? I was only wearing them the other day because I was flying up in the sky, which is rather cold."

She said the last part as if it was common knowledge (it was), and that asking a question about made one want to call the questioner a little kid (which Misty did not appreciate).

A distant, rational part of Misty's mind wondered why she was getting so suddenly rattled by the idea of Ash seeing another girl without clothes on, but it was drowned out by the part of her that didn't want Ash to see a girl without clothes on.

Psyduck would make a snide add-on of the 'except me' variety, but Misty ignored him during the ensuing argument about the logic of clothing.



Team Rocket HQ

"So, our official recommendation is that Team Rocket gets involved with neither the Kaz nor the Yaz gangs: both groups are incredibly incompetent thugs whose only purpose would be as cannon fodder. Cassidy thought it would be best to keep some level of contact with both gangs, to potentially allow for the bolstering of our grunt forces in case of a conflict with a rival group such as Team Galactic or Team Dim Sun."

The blue and blonde duo of Butch and Cassidy gave him the report in person, all the while looking like they hadn't slept in weeks, been hit in the back of the head with at least a few blunt objects, and really needed a good shower.

Given they were at work in Dark City recently with the local gangs as feeler agents, that was very likely the case.

While their failure during the Hop-Hop-Hop operation, punishing them by forcing them to deal with those violent fools for an entire week was most...enjoyable.

"Very well, you two are dismissed. Now go take a shower, you reek of low-quality body spray, sake, and..." The nose of the boss of Team Rocket seemed to be rather unnerved. "Stale and unorthodox ketchup?"

"Don't ask," Butch muttered, looking away from both his partner and his boss. Giovanni decided not to press further on anything involving ketchup.

"Well, ensure you don't smell like it again when you are called back for your next assignment." With that remark, the boss found himself alone in his office, bar his Persian of course.

He shuffled through a few miscellaneous details obtained from the overall successful operation, as his holographic images changed before him.

A report of a recent spotting of the infamous Pokémon Hunter J.

The recent closing of the Cerulean Gym.

The vanishing of the former Cerulean Gym Leaders.

A picture taken during the Hop-Hop-Hop operation.

The last one particularly kept Giovanni's attention, as it showed a mother and child. The woman was your typical, run of the mill auburn haired woman in the mid-thirties, but the boy...

Well, he appeared to be about twelve or so, and looked a lot like the boy Jessie, James, and Meowth were following.

Most, interesting...



Later, South of Rock Tunnel

Ash was happy.

Why was Ash happy one may ask? After all, he did just get kidnapped and escaped through only dumb luck.

Why, it was quite simple really.

One of his friends, one he believed to have died because reality wasn't restored right, was shown to be alive.

Who cares if she sort of smells like she has never heard of deodorant, she was alive and that was simply wonderful!

In fact, he decided to go do some special training in celebration!

That, and when he had gotten up today he had heard Iris and Misty argue about clothes off in the distance and wanted some space. Happy or not, he did not want to get in between an argument between the two female traveling companions of his who were most...hot-headed and forceful.

Odd though, Iris really wasn't the type for fashion, in either timeline.

"Okay guys, come on out!"

In a burst of four Pokéballs, his Pikachu was joined by Butterfree, Squirtle, Aipom, and Pidgeotto.

Now, one may be wondering, why there were only four Pokéballs? Well, the answer was quite simple.

He had sent Charmeleon to Professor Oak's on break: well maybe not break. He was probably juggling some hapless Geodude or something right about now.

It was more a call to train a few of his other Pokémon personally for a bit, particularly his brand new one.

For the fifth Pokéball in hand, was not even a Pokéball at all.

"Go, Goomy!"

The Heal Ball released a burst of light, revealing the purple blob creature he had saved during his free-fall.

"Goo!" it greeted. Ash realized that he wasn't able to understand it. Obviously he needed time for Pokémon he had not caught previously.

"Okay Pokédex, give me the scoop" Ash pointed the device at Goomy, which beeped a little.

"Goomy, the Soft Tissue Pokémon. A dragon-type native to the Kalos region, Goomy is native to swampy wetlands. It's considered the weakest of dragon types, though many argue that fellow Kalos dragon-type Noibat is weaker. This Goomy is male, knows the moves Bide and Rain Dance, has the Hydration ability, and is ranked 1 star out of 3 via the DexNav evaluation feature."

Ash, having no idea what the last part was, merely dwelled on the bits he could understand.

A Pokémon from the Kalos region? For a moment, Ash wondered if he may have, had Cyrus not botched up things, have met this Goomy? What would that have been like?

Bide and Rain Dance though...

Now, Ash was willing to work with any Pokémon: having trained turtles and blobs, birds and shellfish, monkeys and bugs aplenty. However he was in heart an 'attack first to defend' type of person, and no attacking moves was something that just...boggled him.

That would have to be the first thing he worked on. For even Muk, his most defensive orientated Pokémon, could attack. While Bide would inflict damage, he did not want to make that his entire strategy.

"Hey Goomy, don't faint and get continuously hit by Blaine's Magmar and then blast it with Bide" was not the kind of strategy he wanted to be known for.

"Okay, what moves can Goomy learn then?" He had a TM from Brock that described how to teach moves. Might as well make use of it. So he consulted the Pokédex once more.

"Goomy can learn Absorb, Bubble, Thunderbolt, Dragon Breath, Dragon Pulse, Thunder, Sludge Wave, Sludge Bomb, Rock Slide, Infestation, Secret Power, Iron Tail, Poison Tail, Shock Wave, and Water Pulse, among others."

That was...an interesting assortment.

Hmmm...

Let the training begin!



Training Montage Begins

(Blowing through his mouth like he had a bubble wand in front of him, and Squirtle as if he was actually using the move, the two practiced with the Goomy.)

To some people, the idea of training for a new move should be simple and easy.

("Pika pika" 'Okay, so tense all your muscles at once, releasing the kinetic energy throughout your body,' Pikachu lectured to Goomy about how one created electricity from one's body.)

It wasn't. It was something one had to teach oneself and one's Pokémon.

(After Pidgeotto flew off, grabbed, and dropped Psyduck off, the duck was pointed at Goomy and told to use Secret Power. The duck tilted his head, not in confusion but just to be difficult. Clearly bothering Misty was not enough these days.)

Trying to train a Pokémon to learn a move intentionally, as oppose to inspiration or desperation, can take many days. So Ash wasn't quite expecting an instant learning experience.

(Making a sound like he was trying to hork up some phlegm, Ash promptly spit some of it out, demonstrating what the TM said was the basis of Sludge Bomb. Each time Goomy and Ash went for another attempt at it, Butterfree blew more pollen at Ash with his wings as to ensure he'd be able to continue doing so without complications).

Also some Pokémon just didn't pick up certain moves. You could teach a Froakie Quick Attack all day, but you'd just get out Double Team if the Pokémon just simply understood the concept of that move better than it did Quick Attack.

(Picking up Goomy with her tail, Aipom began dropping Goomy by the tail towards a thin stick on the ground, all with the explicit suggestion of trying to put power into his tail.)

And, if nothing else, there was always tomorrow.

Training Montage Ends, elsewhere nearby



"So that's why people are always wearing clothes? They just deal with hot temperatures and water by wearing different types of clothing, and generally less of it?"

"Yes," Misty reply tersely. This entire conversation had been rather...well, one she'd never want to do again. She had only gotten a break when Ash's Pidgeotto had randomly grabbed Psyduck and flew off with said duck. The two girls had just stared after the birds for a few moments, before Iris promptly asked about the purpose of socks.

Iris, meanwhile, sounded like she finally had figured out a long standing mystery. Good for her.

Well, at least she was clothed now. Sure, Misty had to give the girl some of her socks, but now Ash would not see this girl naked.

The part of her mind that was asking her why that bothered her so much still kept nagging her though.

"Slow..." 'Yawn.'

However, that loud yawning sound promptly made the two girls realize that A, they were by a stream, and B, that there was a large pink mass lying on its side, apparently asleep.

A Slowpoke.

As the two girls looked at it, the creature, slowly, rose its head, then turned its gaze towards them just as slowly.

"Slow?" 'People.'

Oh boy...this was where her goal came to haunt her.

But, she set out to do something, and she would do it.

Tossing a Pokéball at the Slowpoke rather casually, the ball promptly energized the Slowpoke and sucked it inside.

A Slowpoke's reaction time was approximately 5 seconds, however by that time...

Click.

The Pokéball was sealed.

Slowpoke was hers now. Yay...

And with that, she had her tenth Pokémon, out of her eventual goal of one hundred and thirteen last time she checked.

Urgh, that number sounded daunting when she thought about it.

"That was, random," Iris noted bluntly, staring at the Pokéball Misty had just thrown.

"Just as you and Ash..." And why did that phrase bother the Water-type trainer so much to say? "...have goals, I have one was well. I'm not aiming to get stronger in particular, or to conquer the Pokémon League. My goal is to capture one of every Water-type in the world."

"There are a lot of those in the world," Iris replied bluntly, which Misty was starting to realize the girl did a lot.

"Well, I guess I know what I'm going to be doing for quite a while." Misty smirked as she noticed the Pokéball teleport away, off to Oak's lab and thus to be the Professor's problem.

She couldn't do anything about Psyduck being a constant in her life (he was her only Secret Power user and she wasn't sure they'd have time to teach another Pokémon), but she'd be damned if she had to deal with two Pokémon with the same mental capacity at once!

She idly noticed Iris looking terrified, staring at the vanished Pokéball like someone had just broken the laws of reality before her.

Oh...

They hadn't told her about Professor Oak, had they?

Guess she'd be in for another talk with the wild girl, but this time about advanced technology Misty really didn't understand herself.

Fun. Hopefully for her sanity the girl would not do a Wynaut impression.



Lavender Town

"Prepare for Trouble!"

"Make it Double!"

"Um, who are you?"

The little girl's question caused the duo (dressed very similarly to how they normally do but with their R's missing) to realize that A, the kid didn't travel around with some little blonde girl, and B...

Well, the kid may look like Ash Ketchum, but there were some noticeable differences.

His shoulder Pikachu, for one, seemed a little less cheerful, the kid's hair was a few shades darker and messier and a bit longer. He had a paler skin tone, and lacked the kid's lightning marks on his face (the little blond girl with the hat did have them though). His hat resembled that of Ash, but without the green Pokémon League mark on it, and his jacket and shirt combo colors were red, white, and black, as oppose to blue, white, and black. The sleeves were also short sleeved.

His eyes were like Ash's as well, but they seemed fierier, as if fires glowed behind them. It was...somewhat odd.

"He's Red, and I'm Yellow!" the little girl spoke for the two of them. Meowth, who had yet to speak, merely observed the two from his spot between the two humans on his team with some level of curiosity "Why did you two just start talking like you were Power Rangers?"

Jessie and James were floored at that statement.

"Power Rangers!" Jessie snapped as if morally offended by such a statement.

"Now now, calm down Jessie." James tried to get the girl to relax a bit as he extended his hand in friendship, though he noted the boy didn't seem eager to receive it "My name's James, I'm a traveler of sorts. I follow where the fires of my destiny guide me, led by the trail of ashes in my wake."

“No need to be poetic James.”

"I'm here to compete in the battle dome tournament that's coming up."

"Same here! Red's going to win it all!" Yellow chirped. Apparently Red didn't need to speak when the little girl was around. How convenient.

He did at least extend his hand to give a decent handshake though after a few moments, meeting James's still outstretched hand. James raised an eyebrow at his body temperature, which seemed a little warm to him.

How odd. It seemed a lot of things about this kid were...unusual to say the least.

Well, that was that. As the handshake ended, the two groups turned around and walked away from one another, though the little girl threw in a youthful quip about Red beating them tomorrow as they left.

"Hey James, think we should have tried to steal their..." Jessie offered the idea as James frowned.

"We have our stalking target Jessie, and not only is that kid not him, we also happen to be in a heavily populated area with surveillance cameras and 911 hotlines. No need to risk running afoul of Officer Jenny any more than we have to merely by being members of Team Rocket in disguise. Do you really want to share a jail cell with a criminal from this crazy town?!"

Recalling all of the horror stories about oddly behaving criminals who went into Pokémon Tower and started shouting about blood, Jessie paled and rapidly shook her head.

"Speak for yourselves," Meowth quipped. "I'm immune to ghosts."

"To Shadow Balls, maybe. Not to crazy people shouting about blood who can strangle you."



North of Lavender Town, Route 10

Iris eyed the structure the group was approaching with immense unease.

The fact that the doors to it opened on their own to let people enter and leave it, as if wind suddenly started from the very small space between the doors blew outwards was quite unsettling. It defied logic!

"Do we really have to do this?" she questioned Ash, who smiled kindly and began explaining.

"You and I both want to become stronger, and to do that we both need plenty of practice. Battle Clubs are good places to get practice in against trainers and help make you stronger."

Stronger...

Yes, she needed to get stronger. She needed to be ready to make Hunter J pay.

Nothing would stop her in her goal.

As said trio walked through the oddly self-opening doors, Iris willed herself not to be unnerved by the self-opening doors.

She'd just ask how they worked later.

...

"Ah dammit! Freakin' snake just got up and left! Stupid Unovan piece of shit, it so wasn't worth my Butterfree..."

Having been placed in an indoor battle arena by the male owner of this facility, Iris found herself to fight some kid in armor with a large gash on the left forearm, who was using a lot of harsh words Iris wasn't sure the exact meaning of.

Sure, she knew what Unovan meant: according to her parents she came from Unova. But why did he mention excrements after it?

He stopped his word onslaught as he turned to glare at her. "So, you're my opponent?"

Iris nodded.

"How many badges you got?" He spoke. Somehow Iris felt he said that sentence in a way that would elicit a response from Ash's Poké...duck?

Pokéduck? Pokéduel? Pokéduce? Something like that.

"Badges?" Oh, those things Ash collected as marks to show how strong he was? Huh, humans mustn't really do scars anymore.

"What?! You're a Pokémon Trainer and you're not trying for the Pokémon League!?" the kid stated in a harsh, disbelieving tone. "Don't tell me you are one of those coordinator types?!"

Iris shook her head, having no idea what the heck a coordinator was.

"Oh great, I got matched up with a freakin' casual!" he shouted in annoyance. "Great, now how the hell am I supposed to get my workout done!?"

Freakin' casual? Humans had strange word choices.

"Very well, prepare to face the power of a proud owner of a Cascade and Boulder Badge!" the armored kid stated loudly, and in order. "Go, Beedrill!"

"Go, Excadrill!"

The bee and the mole found themselves staring each other down, as the armored kid stared at her Pokémon in confusion.

"What the heck is that thing!?"

"It's an Excadrill. I shouted its name out when I released it," Iris explained bluntly, wondering what happened next.

Before they had come to this Battle Club, Misty had told her not to attack any trainers during battle like what had happened with the two of them. But this guy had armor and a sword, so did that make it okay in this situation?

Maybe if he attacked first...

"Begin!" some guy on the side shouted. Apparently humans had people tell you when you could start, and stop, attacking something.

Interesting, strange but interesting.

"Go Beedrill, use Poison Jab!"

As the bee's stingers glowed purple, Iris just stared.

Did he really just...

And the Beedrill hit Excadrill...to absolutely no effect.

As the Beedrill continued hitting Excadrill again and again to no real effect, her opponent got madder and madder.

"What the...why isn't that working!" the kid shouted in frustration as Iris once again bluntly stated the facts.

"Excadrill is part-Steel, Poison attacks don't work. Now Excadrill, use Drill Run! Eat this, you freakin' casual."

Iris idly wondered if she was using that phrase correctly.

...

"Go, Gyarados and Staryu!"

Misty really didn't technically need to be here. Her goals weren't exactly power based after all.

But, if one was aiming to capture one of every water-type in the world, some training was always useful.

Plus, after that Emolga fight, Misty had been thinking of ways to counter future run ins with such Pokémon (and Chinchou/Lanturn for that matter), and she had come up with a little idea of her own.

True, it was inspiration based, and she'd probably have to credit Ash for it, but that wasn't really relevant at this point.

Thankfully her opponent has a Voltorb and Fearow out, and would be all too happy to provide her with all necessary electric attacks to test it out.

"Begin!"

...

"Vulpix, Zubat, I choose you!"

A sudden wave of Brock nostalgia flooded Ash as the two Pokémon found themselves up against him.

One Pokémon, a reddish fox with several split tails, the other a blue bat. All once owned by Brock himself, and good traveling companions and buddies across the Kanto and Johto regions.

"Vulpix, the Fox Pokémon. When Vulpix is within its egg, it only has a single tail. When it hatches, several tails are present. It possesses Fire-abilities."

"Zubat, the Bat Pokémon. Zubat live in large numbers in caves. Cave travellers, dwellers, and explorers have long found Zubat to be immense nuisances. Grass-types cannot beat Zubat easily with only their type of attacks."

The Pokédex got to say it's two bits on the subject, and now could send some data to Professor Oak and whoever else for research. Good for them.

Pikachu and Goomy sat off to the side: Goomy having been let out to get some visual experience as to what Pokémon battles were like.

It was a proven tactic for helping train and inspire Pokémon. He had done much the same with Scraggy after all.

"Okay, Squirtle, Pidgeotto I choose you!"

In bursts of light his turtle and bird Pokémon appeared on the field.

"Squirt!" 'Say, this isn't a gym, is it?' He questioned.

"Caw." 'Nope.'

"Tle...' 'Bummer, I'd like to actually fight and win at one of those this time around in Kanto.'

You did help win the Earth-badge Squirtle...though given that Team Rocket was leading that battle did it even really count?

Ash made sure to remind himself to use Squirtle in any gym battle that made any logical sense to use him in. So while Erika was out, maybe Koga would use a Nidoking or Queen?

And Blaine, certainly him. Assuming it went better this time around...

"Begin!"

And there went his musing times.

"Okay, Zubat use Wing Attack, Vulpix use Quick Attack!" His opponent called as the two Pokémon sped right at him.

"Counter with Return and Quick Attack!"

A white glowing fist in hand, Squirtle struck Zubat right between its wings just as it got closer. Meanwhile a white speeding Pidgeotto slammed right into Vulpix's attack, causing both to be pushed back as Zubat hit the ground for a moment before taking off once more.

"Grr..." his opponent growled "Okay then try this: Vulpix use Ember and Zubat use Bite!"

As the Bat Pokémon flew once more towards Pidgeotto and Vulpix began spewing sparks, Ash was quick on the uptake.

"Pidgeotto Aerial Ace, and Squirtle use Water Gun!"

Breathing in deeply, Squirtle let loose his water blast. The attack quickly doused the ember sparks and blasted Vulpix into the wall.

Meanwhile, Pidgeotto vanished moments before Zubat bit it, before reappearing and slamming into Zubat and sending it spinning back down.

"Zubat and Vulpix, are unable to battle! The winners are Squirtle and Pidgeotto!" the referee shouted.

...

"Pinsir is unable to battle, the winner is Excadrill!"

"Damn it!" The armored boy snapped, his fist clenching the hilt of his sword.

...

"Voltorb and Fearow are unable to battle, the winners are Gyarados and Staryu!"

"Yes! It worked!"

"Yeah...it did work. Wish I had thought of that..." her opponent muttered to himself. "Then maybe I could have beaten Lt. Surge..."

...

"Psyduck is unable to battle, the winner is Emolga!"

"Emol!"

"Yeah, that was rather therapeutic!"

...

"Nidoran and Nidoran are both unable to battle: the winners are Aipom and Squirtle!"

...

"Mankey is unable to battle, the winner is Psyduck!"

"How the heck did that duck..."

"If I only knew," Misty muttered to herself.

...

"Oddish and Poliwag are unable to battle! The winners are Butterfree and Pidgeotto!"

As his last opponent for the day returned his Pokémon and left along with the referee, Ash stretched triumphantly.

"Man, that was a good workout." Nothing like a few Pokémon battles to help really hammer in your training.

"It was. I also obtained some useful data," the Pokédex noted. "Your Pokémon encounter rate is increasing by a good amount. Perhaps you may one day surpass Gary Oak in that regard."

Hey!

"You've lost your snarking privileges for that one," Ash told the device in response to its attitude.

"You have no control over my snark."

"Sni!"

Ash and his four released Pokémon (Butterfree, Pidgeotto, Goomy, and Pikachu) turned their heads sharply to the ceiling, where that sound originated.

"Wait, was that a..." Ash began as the air vent (and it was always an air vent) flew to the ground and a green snake like Pokémon landed in front of them.

"Snivy!"

"Whoa, is that..."

"Yes, it is a Snivy," the Pokédex snarked. "Snivy is a grass-type starter Pokémon given out to trainers in the Unova region. It is known for its attitude, and its immense pride. A trainer it feels it is not worthy of it will get attacked by a Snivy, who will go and strike out on its own. Though how it got all the way to Kanto is anyone's guess."

"Pikapi…." 'Ash...that is Snivy. Our Snivy...' Pikachu seemed shocked to see it here. Ash was too, of course.

"Sni!" She gave Ash a 'bring it on' motion with her hands.

"Goo!" Goomy promptly hid behind Pikachu, afraid of Snivy.

"The Snivy appears to want to battle you," the Pokédex noted. "I'd suggest using your Quick Ball to quickly obtain it. This Snivy has Contrary!"

"Um, has Contrary?" Ash didn't get what the Pokédex meant. "And wouldn't using a Quick ball make it more likely to see me as unworthy and thus likely to attack me?"

"Oh...by the maker you are right. I am suddenly concerned." The last line was said as if it were a sign of the apocalypse.

Ash really needed to get that thing an attitude change.

"Alright, go Pidgeotto!"

Pointing, he sent his first Flying-type out to battle. In his mind's eye though, this confrontation was two-layered.

On one layer was this battle, but on a second was the first time he captured Snivy: a battle where Pidove was his secret weapon.

A female Pokémon, immune to...

"Sni...vy!"

The barrage of attract hearts that Pidgeotto was now being blasted by.

Attract.

"Ignore them and use Quick Attack!"

Glowing white, Pidgeotto flew and shattered all of Snivy's hearts before slamming right into Snivy. Snivy was sent spinning into the air, but quickly righted herself.

"Sni-Vy!" And promptly through a giant barrage of leaves at Pidgeotto.

"Leaf Storm! At that level!? Be wary Ash! Contrary!"

Ash still had no idea what the Pokédex meant. "Dodge!"

Pidgeotto tried to, but was hit by the leaves and blown back a bit. But it wasn't very effective, so Pidgeotto still was good.

Pidgeotto breathed a little heavily after that hit. 'Not bad' she admitted.

"Sni..." Snivy's tail now glowed green.

"Leaf Blade too!?" the Pokédex shouted. "What kind of Snivy is this!?"

'My Snivy.' Ash thought proudly, but first he had to beat his Snivy. "Block with Steel Wing!"

With glowing white wings, wings and tail collided in a fury of strikes, seemingly even.

"Now, Gust!"

"Caw!" 'Let's see how you like being hit by a windstorm for a change!'

With a final clash of attacks pushing the two apart, Pidgeotto began blowing the wind attack right at Snivy.

Snivy responded with a Leaf Storm, which as it was the second Leaf Storm should logically be weaker than the first one...

The Leaf Storm blew apart Gust and smashed into Pidgeotto, sending her back even further than before.

"Wait, what?!" What...what about logic?! Wasn't that a thing?!

"Contrary is a Pokémon ability that enables a status drop to be reversed. For example, using Overheat would make one's next Overheat more powerful into infinitude," the Pokédex explained in an exasperated tone.

"What?! I thought Snivy had Overgrow!?" Wasn't that the starter ability for Grass-types?

"Most do, but a few do not."

And apparently his Snivy was one of them...

As Pidgeotto regained flight, Snivy charged up another Leaf Storm.

"Caw!" 'I don't think I can take another one of those...'

And if she kept getting stronger with every Leaf Storm...stopping her could become a real issue.

He had to end this, and quickly.

"Pidgeotto, use Aerial Ace to dodge!"

With a resounding call, his first bird flew right at the leaf storm, before vanishing.

Snivy's eyes went wide, looking around for where Pidgeotto could have possibly gotten off to.

They went wider when she got her answer.

Aerial Ace struck Snivy from behind, sending Snivy flying right at him.

Reaching into his ball collection, Ash grabbed a Pokéball. He noted he had snagged one of his Great Balls.

'A stronger Pokéball...Snivy did take a few Pokéballs the first time around...let's skip that step,' Ash decided as he threw his ball.

"Go, Great Ball!"

And so the blue ball flew right into Snivy's path, as the ball opened and Snivy was engulfed in red energy.

It went in...shook...and shook...and shook...

"Goo..."

And ticked successfully.

Quickly grabbing it before it teleported away, Ash promptly posed with it.

"I caught, a Snivy!" 'My Snivy'

"Pi-Pikachu!"

"Caw!"

The ball quickly vanished as his pose ended. And it was only as it did end that he noticed he had watchers.

"Ash..." Misty said incredulously in the aftermath of that fight "You...are really, really lucky."

"I guess..."



That night

A day away from Lavender town (Fun times...fun times. Chandeliers were fun to have fall on you long before they could shoot fire at you in response), Ash found himself grinning.

Snivy was back with him, and had been filled in. Her response to this entire thing had been to basically sigh, and agree to work with him again to save the world.

She seemed to be interesting in seeing his first adventures for herself, having heard about them at Oak's lab while Ash was in Kalos.

She was particularly interested in finding out what a 'more idiotic version of her idiot was like', and he let that one slide, mostly because she said it affectionately and not snidely.

He was not that big of an idiot, either when he started or in Unova. Sure, he made some rookie errors but everyone did that, right?

It had worked out in his favor though: as apparently Bulbasaur had started to get caught up in his previous role with Professor Oak and thus would not be readily available to him. That meant he now had a grass-type on hand when needed.

Pidgeotto had been sent back to Professor Oak's: she was trying to track down the flock she had taken command of in the old timeline and move them onto the Oak Ranch. Free food, good water, no trainers...so far she hadn't been able to find them but she was confident in her sales pitch.

Hopefully Professor Oak wouldn't notice the increased food bill. But who was Ash to deny Pidgeotto a few favors and omissions now and again?

Of course, that did lend itself to a good question...

Where the heck were Pikachu, Aipom, and Snivy anyway?

Meanwhile in her Secret Base hideaway, Iris wondered why Emolga had asked to go off on her own for the night.

...

Next morning however found Ash, Pikachu, Iris, and Misty on the road to Lavender town, with that question still burning on Ash's mind.

"Hey Pikachu, where were you last night?" Ash asked his long-time partner as Pikachu made a smirk that Ash wished he could never see on Pikachu's face ever again.

It looked...more fitting on Brock or Alder than anything.

"Pika Pika Pi." 'Well you see Ash, as the most powerful Pokémon you own…'

Back on Oak's ranch, Charmeleon felt a challenge and an argument ensuing, so he promptly did Slowpoke ups double time.

'I am quite popular with many lady Pokémon...'

"If a Pichu doesn't result from whatever you were up to last night, please stop now." Ash begged. Meanwhile Misty chuckled at his expense while Iris seemed amused by the whole thing.

"Pi..." 'Well, I never did find out who was the father of that Azurill Misty had, it would be either myself or Misty's Corsola..., and there was that Taillow, Starly, Hoothoot, and Pidove at Oak's lab the last time the two of us were there...'

The resulting thoughts caused Ash to trip, sending Pikachu off his perch and onto the ground.

"Do I even want to know?" Misty questioned as Ash rapidly shook his head. Pikachu promptly laughed at the whole thing.

With that...out of the way for no better way to put it, they continued moving. Pikachu, perhaps sensing Ash's unease, walked on Ash's side and not on his shoulder.

And eventually...

"Welcome to Lavender Town, home of the Battle Dome and the world's best morticians?" Misty read the last part of the 'welcome to' sign with great confusion.

Ash agreed, why would one advertise that?!

Plus, Battle Dome? It was up this early?

"Hey, what's a mortician?" Iris asked, genuinely curious. Ash was about to answer that question when...

"Out of way, out of the way, I can't stop...!"

A little blond hair girl crashed into him, knocking him over.

"Ow..." Great, was Bianca here on vacation for some mind-numbing reason?

Oh wait, he wasn't soaking wet, so no, it was not Bianca.

Somewhat uneasily, Ash helped the little girl up, revealing a blond girl with a ponytail who appeared to be about his age from the original timeline, she even had the same marks on his face as he did then (and now).

Odd...was he as short as this girl back then? Huh, food for thought.

"Sorry..." The girl mumbled, before looking up at him and looking rather surprised.

"Oh...you look like..."

"Yellow." A single word was uttered, causing the girl to turn back towards town, and caused all their attentions to shift away from the girl, to the town as well.

To the boy standing there, a Pikachu of his own with him.

To a boy...that looked very much like Ash.



Omake

Ambiguously Canon

Ketchumverse Part 3

"...Well, Earth 062297 is officially unnerving." Ash Ketchum of the story, aka Bloodliner Ash as he was hence forth dubbed, shivered as he recalled that universe.

"Yes, yes it is," Don Ash stated as he looked over the official report. "I had heard some talk about it from Vulgar Ash, but I had no idea the severity of it. It's hard to...understand him at times".

Ash and Pikachu winced at that one. Vulgar Ash, the Ash of Earth 111115, was a version of him who had Venonat as his Pikachu. And for some reason, he only spoke in immense vulgarities.

Like really, that Ash's every other word was a swear word. Some of them were not even native to his Earth! He could introduce #* $zookums to his world's thesaurus if he really felt like it. He wouldn't though, #* $zookums was incredibly offensive, especially when said to someone like Roark.

Apparently his universe was all like him. It was thus rather low on Ash's vacation destination list on the Multiverse, up with the likes of Earth 081009 and 081708.

"...Pallet Town, or should I say Masara Village, never produces any trainers of quality, being itself named for its best trainer Masara Oak who ranked 921/10,000...how ponderous? Does that mean it may one day be named As...Satoshi Village?"

"Maybe?" Ash really hoped not. Pallet Town did not need to be called Ash Town, or Ashville, or Ashton. Or Ashburg.

"...the Ash, or Satoshi as it appears, was bulled in school, but was a star pitcher on the baseball team" the Don idly noted his Magikarp baseball team mug at that comment, as if considering recruiting that Ash. "And after going off on his journey at age 10, he could thenceforth be arrested, have to pay taxes, and get married..." he trailed off that last bit as if mildly horrified.

"Aren't tax filings like, math homework for old people?" Ash wondered as Don, his Pikachu, and the pocketed 'dex all shivered in horror.

"No, worse," Don darkly stated as he continued reading the report "If a Gym Leader loses three consecutive times, the job is forfeit...harsh. You misspelled consecutive, by the way" Don eyed him like he had committed a mortal sin "It does not have two t's in it".

"Really?"

"Really," Don said without any sense of humor. In fact, he seemed quite serious about it. "I cannot have people giving me misspelled reports. It is unacceptable. For that...you are to go to remedial classes held by Ashton vi Unova."

That last line made Ash and Pikachu simultaneously think of ominous fire and evil laughter.

"Can I do...anything else in penance for not using spellcheck?" Ash weakly asked as Don gave him a wicked smile.

"Well, you could always go and try and bring in the Ash of Earth 080711 for questioning".

Earth 080711? Didn't seem that threatening of a number...

...

One curb-stomp later we find our hero, Pikachu, Charizard, Ambipom, Goodra, and Kingler lying in hospital beds covered in bandages, with an Ash dressed like a male Nurse Joy and his partner Chansey tending them.

"So, was it the Squirtle or the..." Nurse Ash questioned conversationally.

"Pikapika." 'The Squirtle,' Pikachu groaned out.

"It's always that one who stops Don's attempts to arrest that Ash," Nurse Ash mused in annoyance, either at Don or at the Squirtle in question.

Chapter Text

Lavender Town

The two boys made eye contact, brown to fiery brown.

And there was an old saying what would happen when the eyes of two trainers met.

Almost instinctively, the two reached for their Pokéballs, their Pikachu’s cheeks sparking in imminent conflict.

Dramatic wind blew between them, blowing along a set of tumbleweeds that had no logical place being here and probably slipped out of someone's old shed.

A battle was about to begin.

"Whoa, whoa, hold your Ponytas!"

Only for a portly man in a blue tropical shirt to burst between them, waving his arms frantically, which caused the pre-battle tension and the dramatic winds to die down quickly.

"Pika..?" 'Is that, um...Scottie? Sawyer? Shota?' Pikachu wondered as Ash mentally corrected his friend that the guy's name was Scott.

The Battle Frontier owner. A few... years? Months? Days? Early, and a bit younger sounding. But still the same guy, who was now playing mediator between the two battle-ready trainers.

"I know that trainers are supposed to fight the moment their eyes meet, but there is a proper time and a place for that!" he insisted, though somehow Ash didn't think he was trying to prevent property damage. He looked at Ash, Misty, and Iris with the eyes of an evaluator looking over potential treasures. "Tell me, are you three Pokémon Trainers?"

Misty nodded, Iris making a noise of confirmation in turn, while Ash just gestured at Pikachu to answer the question.

"Excellent!" Scott shouted surprisingly loudly, causing Iris to jump in shock at the sudden noise. The girl, Yellow, meanwhile looked at Scott in surprise while her traveling companion had a somewhat bored look on his face, with a hint of understanding as to whatever it was Scott wanted.

"If you really want to get your battling fix, there are far better places to do so than at the town entrance, I mean think of people who want to get in while you're battling. You can battle at my tournament, which as it happens has three open spots that I really need to get filled right now!"

"Um..." Misty failed to answer in a nervous tone as Scott grinned wider and wider.

"It's free!"

"Most tournaments are." Ash couldn't recall having to pay to enter any tournament, the Indigo League or any league that he'd ever entered for that matter.

"I'll give you free stuff, and all participants get free food!"

At the mention of the last part, the stomachs of all five young people around Scott went off all at once.

That answered Scott's question, and would later win said portly man 20 bucks from Brandon over if having catering for the tournament was a waste of money.


 

The Battle Dome

"Welcome trainers and battle enthusiasts alike!"

To the roar of a massive crowd, one that caused Iris to clench her ears in pain in the middle of the Battle Dome arena, where she and fifteen other trainers stood for the world to see. A certain Dome Ace descended from above, all the while floating on top of a levitating Metagross and posing dramatically.

Dressed in purple and white with his hair as purple as a Mismagius, the Dome Ace waved to his massive audience, which only caused them to get louder. Though Ash noticed he had something else on him, a clear stone in the middle of his elaborate hair piece.

Odd, didn't seem to fit with what Ash remembered from last time. Then again, what did Ash know about 'fashion'? He rarely paid attention to what people were wearing so it might've been there and he just didn't notice.

"Why are they so loud?" Iris whimpered as Ash shrugged.

"He's popular, for some reason." A reason he didn't understand the first time, and a second time did not make it any more comprehensible.

Noting how many of the screaming, really loud fans were female, Iris immediately questioned human taste.

Ash couldn't see Misty, but he got the impression Tucker didn't really impress her much either. Oddly that made him feel better.

Once Metagross got near the ground Tucker leapt off his mount with a somersault, releasing more Pokéballs as he did so. If Ash wasn't mistaken, he saw at least one timer ball among them.

Several Pokémon were thus promptly released: the familiar Swampert and Arcanine were joined by a Charizard, Salamence, Hitmonchan, Victreebel, and Magnezone.

Ash noted that the Pokémon seemed to pair up with each other: Swampert and Arcanine, Metagross and Hitmonchan, Charizard and Victreebel, and Salamence and Magnezone. He also noted that of those eight Pokémon, four of them (Swampert, Metagross, Charizard, and Salamence), had some sort of item holder on them somewhere, ranging from arm bands to armor on their front. At the center of each was a single stone, of various colors with cores that had themselves different colored versions of a mark of some sort.

The more Ash looked at those stones, the more he was starting to feel what he could only describe as a power coming off them. As if with only a few sparks, they would release a major power. Ash just had no clue what those sparks were.

He wasn't the only one though: he could see the other Pikachu bearing trainer in the room eyeing them in the same way, and Iris (who had tried to not focus on the large crowds) had turned her gaze towards the Ace's Pokémon and eyed them like they were about to evolve into something entirely new.

Ash supposed it was possible: he had no idea Rhydon or Piloswine could evolve further when he was in the Indigo and Silver Leagues after all. Perhaps Swamperior or Mamagross was possible.

"Welcome, to the Battle Dome. The facility where battles are fought with the passion of a thousand suns, and where the trainers and their Pokémon shine like ten-thousand suns as they wage those battles!" Tucker kept hamming it up. "And today, brought to you by the Battle Dome, and the Battle Frontier (Dome, Pike, Palace, Pyramid, and now Factory. Fight it now!), the Frontier Rookie Competition Extravaganza!"

The Battle Frontier only had five parts to it? Huh, sounded pretty bare bones for a Battle Frontier. Well, Ash supposed it made sense: Greta and Anabel seemed about his age in the old timeline, whatever that had been, so it only made sense that they were the newest members. He did fight them a few regions on after all.

In the stands, sitting next to a Yellow who was currently eating a large sandwich sat Scott, who was face palming over Tucker adding extravaganza into the title. Funny how those things went.

"Now, the tournament today will be a four-round, sixteen-man elimination tournament! Each trainer is allowed to use three different Pokémon, but each battle is a one on one fight, and trainers must use, or be able to use, all registered Pokémon at least once!"

Ash recalled the Club Battle tournament in Nimbasa Town: it had a similar rule like that, which was why Pikachu vs Excadrill happened.

"Also, this is an item-less tournament, for trainers without league experience or Grand Festival entrances!”

Pikachu, noting his own item holder (which contained the Eviolite stone) immediately realized why he was out of the tournament before it even began.

"Pika..." 'Well no wonder I'm benched.' The mouse sighed.

"Now, the Battle Frontier is nothing if not generous! In addition to top-class catering, all trainers entering our little tournament will receive a myriad of prizes! For starters..." With outstretched arms, several psychically controlled round objects floated up from behind him, likely from his Metagross. The round objects all descended from the sky gracefully and in a quite controlled manner, before floating in front of each competitor.

"These!"

"Um, these what?" Ash wondered out loud as he reached and took one of the stones into his hand. Looking it over, the stone sort of looked like a marble, being light and filled with a myriad of colors.

Pikachu sniffed it, unsure of what it was.

"Pika?" 'Doesn't smell like an evolution stone?'

Putting it up to his eyes, Ash tried looking into it, seeing if he could decipher anything from it. The stone shimmered in the light inside the stadium, but it revealed nothing else under his examination.

"These stones are keys, keys to the potential of both trainers and Pokémon to go beyond their limits. They say only the greatest of trainers can unlock the secrets of these stones, so even if you lose today trainers, these stones may one day unlock future victories!"

"Future victories?" Ash parroted to himself, as his eyes flashed orange-brown.

From the lava of Cinnabar Volcano, a black dragon rose up from within, blue flames billowing out its jaws and oddly resembling a Charizard. The Magmar who stood on the stone pillars before it looked shocked, just as the dragon swooped towards it.

As dozens of Spearow and a nasty looking Fearow flew at an unusually large Pidgeot in both wing and plumage size. The Pidgeot cried out with force, before blowing its wings and sending a giant twister right into the opposing flock.

A Blastoise, a much larger than usual cannon emerging from its back and two smaller ones on its hands, stared down an oddly bulky and red marked Heracross in Silver Stadium. As a massive water blast flew out of the turtle's shell, the Heracross reacted with Bullet Seed of all moves.

A Glalie, with a much darker underside to it and a massive, open jaw the likes of which was rather creepy, head-butted an enemy Metang. From that head smash, ice spread across the Metang. Was that Ice Head or something?

On a contest stage, a Sceptile with a missile like tail charged forward with a very large Leaf Blade. On the other end, an odd Blaziken charged right at it, it's foot on fire.

But unlike the other Pokemon he had seen in these visions, Ash had seen that odd Blaziken before...

Or as it was known when he saw it: Mega Blaziken.

Was this stone somehow related to Mega Evolution? Those battles...his battle with Blaine's Magmar, his first and last battle with Pidgeot, his Silver League match with Gary, his Hoenn League match with Morrison, his farewell fight with May... all those battles seemed to involve Mega Evolution.

Charizard, Pidgeot, Blastoise, Heracross, Glalie, Sceptile, Blaziken. Could all of them Mega-Evolve? And what were those visions. They certainly weren't the future, apparently the Spearow flock had been taken by parties unknown after they had nearly mauled him and Pikachu. Were they what could have been...?

"Now, let the tournament get underway, with heated battles!"

Tucker's loud voice interrupted Ash's thought process.

How annoying.


 

Battle 1

"And now for our first battle! Alex Davis from Johto's Cherrygrove City, vs Red from Viridian City!"

"Kadabra, I choose you!"

Thrown from a Quick Ball, likely used to capture it when it was just an Abra, the yellow and brown single spoon wielder appeared before him.

Red eyed the Psychic-type that was now facing him with shadowed eyes.

Psychic-type. Mid-evolution of Abra line. He had defeated one before, the one used by the one called Gary Oak.

Victory odds, 86 %.

"Go, Charmeleon!"

Red threw his Pokéball out, releasing the Fire-type.

The two middle evolutions stared each other down, as Red recalled what had happened when he had looked into that stone he had been given at the start of this tournament.

The two Pokémon, at least to Red, now seemed to have their evolutions super-imposed behind them, and a stage even before that behind them: a wizened Alakazam and a more streamlined Charizard.

What were they? What secret did these stones unlock?

"Begin!"

"Dragon Rage!" Red commanded as blue flames billowed in Charmeleon's mouth. With a roar, they were sent spewing right towards the Kadabra.

His trainer, a kid Red's age with an orange bandana covering all of his hair, cut through the air with his hand dramatically. "Avoid it with Teleport!"

The Kadabra complied, vanishing as the blue flames went right through the empty space.

Kadabra reappeared behind Charmeleon, causing both trainer and Pokémon to be surprised.

"Now, use Power-Up Punch!" Davis commanded as the Fighting-type move charged in Kadabra's hand.

A physical attack? From a Kadabra? Peculiar.

"Counter with Fire Fang!" Red called as Charmeleon's mouth burst into flames.

With a snarl, the fist was countered with teeth, seemingly being even.

"Now, Headbutt!" Alex shouted. With that command, Kadabra slammed its head into Charmeleon, knocking him to the ground and freeing Kadabra's fist.

It appeared Kadabra had an unusually high attack power for physical combat.

Red could literally see the path to his victory become more complicated.

Victory odds were now at 81%, and likely were about to drop more.

"And what an exchange!" the announcer shouted. "Both our visitor from Johto and our resident trainer clearly know how to react to various situations!"

"Clearly, their gym badges were not pity gifts," Tucker mused. "Red with his victories over Brock, the Sensational Sisters, and Lt. Surge, and Alex Davis with his wins over Janine, Lt. Surge, and Brock, both of them are looking like future stars!"

Right, future stars. They still had a ways to go first.

Red pointed at Kadabra, getting Charmeleon's attention as he stood. "Now, use Rock Tomb!"

Stones began to form around Charmeleon, before being promptly launched right at his opponent.

Alex countered rather calmly. "Teleport out of the way!"

"Ka!" Kadabra shouted as it vanished moments before a stone hit. It then did so again when another stone was about to hit it.

And again, and again...until it teleported right in front of Charmeleon.

"What!?/Dabra!?" It appeared trainer and Pokémon were in sync there.

"Now, use Fire Fang!" Red directed.

"Char!" Charmeleon agreed with a deep growl echoing from his throat and a fiery set of chompers. The Flame Pokémon took hold of Kadabra's punching arm in its jaws, biting down hard. In reaction the Psychic-type began whacking Charmeleon in the head with its spoon, but its head spike deflected it.

Probably not what nature's intended use was, but useful nonetheless.

"Get it off, use Confusion!" Alex ordered the counterattack. Kadabra's eyes glowed blue, but it stopped when its body suddenly burst into flames.

Burn status. Fire Fang's additional effect alongside a chance of flinching. Briefly Charmeleon's body shimmered, but it faded away quickly. Apparently Kadabra's ability was Synchronize, and one could not burn a Fire-type.

Victory odds had now recovered to a very good 91%. The paths to victory were now quite clear.

"End this with Shadow Claw!" Red shouted, his eyes briefly flashing orange. With a roar, Charmeleon's claws glowed dark black and with them, slashed Kadabra.

The hit, and now burning Kadabra was sent flying to the ground, where it remained. The flames did die down though.

"Kadabra is unable to battle, the winner is Charmeleon. The victory goes to Red from Viridian City!"

"And with that spectacular and skillful turnaround!" Tucker shouted. "Red has taken the day, but let us not look down upon his opponent either! Both deserve a resounding round of applause!"

As the cheers went up, Red and Alex Davis made eye contact for a few moments as they returned their Pokémon.

They then gave each other respective nods and turned around, each off the stage.

Both congratulating their pocket monsters, with one prepared to continue from this success and the other telling his Pokémon it did very well and they'd win the next time.

Battle 4

Placing the stone she had obtained from the oddity that was Tucker, the stone that had given her the oddest visuals in her mind of an altered looking Blastoise, Gyarados, Slowbro, Swampert and Sharpedo, in her pocket, she tried to put them out of her mind, as well as the fact she had just seen the blue-haired member of Team Rocket who were self-admitted stalkers win a match before her with some odd masked Ghost-type, (which Ash's Pokédex had called a Yamask), that used Shadow Ball against a Haunter, and focused on her opponent.

Battles were not something she sought out like Ash or Iris. She wasn't after strength herself, however, strength was necessary to obtain one's goals: particularly hers. Captures took battles, and thus to capture every water-type she needed to be strong enough, thus training and battles were a necessity.

Plus, the tournament offered free food. Very high quality free food.

"The excitement keeps heating up here at the Battle Dome! And now, Misty of Cerulean City," Must they announce that? "….faces off against Otoshi from Fuchsia City!"

Fuchsia City, the southern Kanto city known for Ninja? That might explain why the black haired trainer she was facing dressed like something out of a historical documentary.

"Misty is a cousin of the famous Water-Type Master from Kalos Siebold, while Otoshi had made several Gym Badge wins in Fuchsia, Cinnabar, and Vermillion! Who will triumph?!"

Well, glad that they didn't mention who her sisters were. Kudos to them.

"Cubone, you're up!" Otoshi called as he threw his Pokéball into the air. Bursting open, a brown creature with a bone skull and club became her opponent.

A Ground-type. Excellent.

"Staryu, let's go!" Misty called up her choice as the star shaped Water-type appeared. Otoshi and his Cubone tensed, already knowing what to expect now.

"Begin!"

"Let's get this going with Water Gun!" Misty called as a burst of water flew right out Staryu's top point, covering the distance between the two Pokémon quickly.

Otoshi wasn't going to have it though. "Deflect it with Bone Club!"

"Cu!" His partner responded, taking his bone in hand and slamming it into the water blast. The water stream shattered on impact causing it to rain down in small droplets.

Staryu made an indescribable sound, 'How did that even work?' Staryu questioned, a question Misty had to agree with. How exactly did that... Misty had to put that question to the back of her mind for later thought as Otoshi used her small hesitation to press his attack.

"Now, use Headbutt!" Otoshi pressed forward, as Cubone charged right at Staryu with a lowered head.

"Okay, two can play the deflection game!" Misty stated. "Staryu, use Rapid Spin!"

With another sound the author cannot describe with words, Staryu began to spin rapidly. The two attacks promptly met, and the spinning grated against Cubone's helmet until the ground-type was knocked off balance and tumbled to the ground.

"Okay, now use Water Gun!" Misty shouted as Staryu ceased its spinning and began blasting.

"Block it!" Otoshi called once more as Cubone held its bone to intercept the water strike. Held horizontally, the water stream was cut in half and Cubone was spared the hit.

"Oh come on!" Misty shouted at this continued blocking. "Staryu, Swift!"

Changing battle tactics, the water blast was replaced by a storm of stars.

"Block them!" Otoshi called as Cubone began smacking down the stars using a style that seemed to be based in swordsmanship, but it couldn't block them all.

Soon dozens of stars were now striking Cubone, the ones who had gotten through where hundreds of their brethren had failed to get past the sword-like bone.

"Cu!"

"No, Cubone!" Otoshi shouted as Cubone was knocked flat onto its back, its bone clattering to the ground and out of reach with a few stars sending the bone club further away.

"And Cubone's defense has finally fallen! Staryu has finally broken through! Can Misty keep up the pressure?!"

"I can, and I will! Staryu, Water Gun!"

The water stream was sent right at the down Pokémon, who tried to grab its bone...

"Cu!"

And failed as Cubone was struck by the blast and sent flying through the air as the Water Gun kept pushing.

"Cubone!" Otoshi shouted as the ground type was flung right at him. Darting around a bit Otoshi managed to grab his falling partner, though he was knocked out and soaking wet.

"And with that, Cubone is down! The winner is Misty and Staryu!"

As the crowds cheered, Otoshi carried his fallen partner onto the field, looking for his fallen blade.

Only to find it being handed back to him, by the victor.

"And so the fallen warrior is returned its weapon by the championing victor! Truly, this is the pinnacle of good sportsmanship! Let's give her a round of applause!"

With the deafening roar of Tucker's fangirls, Misty really wished he'd stop talking.

Battle 7

A dragon as black as night, with blue flames billowing from its fangs.

A Garchomp with arms like a Scyther

A green dragon with a back of seeds.

A fluffier Altaria.

A Salamence who resembled a crescent moon.

Two similar purple dragons.

And a massive green one, resembling the old stories about the ruler of the sky.

All of them seemed to flash before her eyes every time she looked into the odd stone each of them had received, and Iris wasn't sure what it was all about.

Maybe it was something one just learned as they got stronger.

"And now, battle number 7 of the first round begins! A visitor from the distant land of Unova, Iris!" The oddly loud voice in the room shouted, giving Iris a severe headache as she arrived on the designated battlefield. "Will face down the beauty from Crimson City, Jeanette Fisher!"

A dark haired girl in red clothing that seemed rather...impractical to Iris from a movement perspective walked stood on the opposite end of the battlefield.

"Jeanette has had resounding success recently, earning gym badges from Celadon, Pewter, Cerulean, and Vermillion City! But can this home-grown beauty manage to counter the strange and unfamiliar Pokémon of the Unova Region!?"

As the cheers blew up again as the oddly dressed Tucker spoke in an overly dramatic fashion, Iris's eyed the black haired girl with surprise.

Four Badges...

Suddenly Iris didn't see the cheering crowd behind the girl. She was seeing a distant silhouette of that vile woman who had taken away from family, standing behind the girl.

Hunter J.

Beating this girl, would be the first step to taking her down. If she was able to beat Ash easily, who had three Gym Badges, whom then beat her….if she beat a trainer who was stronger than Ash was, that would show herself as getting stronger, getting closer to being able to make Hunter J pay.

She would win this fight. She had to.

Jeanette was eyeing two Pokéballs, one in each hand. She briefly prepared to launch one out, mentioning something about Bells, but changed her mind and went with the other.

"Go, Scyther!"

The giant green mantis Pokémon was her choice of a fighter: now for her own.

"Go, Emolga!"

In comparison, the cute and adorable flying squirrel did not look proper fighting a giant bug with swords for arms. However...

"SO CUTE!" Iris flinched due to the shout from every girl and woman at the sight of the Sky Squirrel Pokémon.

The crowd suddenly yelling about how adorable Emolga was really annoying. And that would do only wonderful things for Emolga's ego...

"Emol!"

The waving her electric type was doing just confirmed Iris's worries about the whole thing.

"So, the native champion of the Bug-Type, vs a foreign adorable warrior who's more than what meets the eye!" Tucker narrated "Who will win!?"

"Begin!"

They were about to find out.

"Emolga, use Attract!" First rule of either hunting or battle, the former often involving the latter at some point, immobilize one's target.

With an overly dramatic blink, and more crowd cheering, Emolga unleashed a storm of hearts right at Scyther.

Which, based on its abdomen size, was male.

Thus, Attract would work.

"Block it with Fury Cuter!" Her opponent called as Scyther's blades glowed green.

"Scy!"

And so the blades began to slice.

"Scy!"

And cut.

"Scy!"

And shatter.

"Scy!"

And basically otherwise stop all of Emolga's hearts. Apparently this girl knew exactly what to do against an opponent using Attract...

"Sawk!"

As the last hearts were destroyed, Iris briefly saw the Scyther as the blue fighting type Sawk that hailed from Unova. She wasn't sure why though, and it was somewhat unnerving.

"And would you look at that! Emolga's Attract has been completely neutralized by the ferocity of Scyther's Fury Cutter! What's Iris to do in response to this stunning turn of events?"

Did they expect her to tell them, in detail, what she planned to do, then do it and hope Jeanette didn't counter her with full knowledge of what her plans were?

Strange, really strange. Was there some sort of unspoken rule she had to explain her plans in detail when people asked her to?

Well, if there was Iris wasn't going to be following it today.

"Emolga, use Discharge!" Iris called as the electricity flew.

"Emol!"

The attack struck Scyther, causing it to cringe in pain from the impact, but as the electricity dissipated away it was neither defeated nor paralyzed.

"Now, Slash!" Jeanette called for the counter attack as Scyther's wings extended. It then sped forward, blade arms extended and gleaming under the lights of the Battle Dome.

"Emolga, dodge!" Iris shouted. Emolga nodded, taking off higher into the air...only to have the slicing attack slam into Emolga's tail, not her body.

Emolga shouted in pain as she was sent spinning to the ground by the indirect impact.

"Emolga!"

"And despite Emolga's best efforts, the speed of Kanto's strongest Bug-Type was too much to avoid!" Even as Emolga struggled back up, idly rubbing it's now bruised tailbone, the loud announcer people seemed to be suggesting this match was no longer hers.

"I'd suggest giving up now, before we have to name your Pokémon Em-Ow-lga!" Jeanette stated, before laughing for some reason. Why, that didn't seem to be at all worthy of laughter.

However, she could tell it was meant to be an insult. That registered quite clearly.

"Emolga, Quick Attack!" Iris commanded with clenched fists that were slowly pulsing with draconic energy but not enough for people to notice, this girl and her insect were going down even if Iris herself had to jump into the battle.

"Counter with your own Quick Attack!" Jeanette countered.

Both Flying-types flew at one another, white streaks surrounding themselves as the two Pokémon slammed into each other at high speeds.

They gritted against each other for a few moments, before Scyther blew Emolga back. As Emolga managed, with some struggle, to stabilize itself, static electricity surrounded Scyther.

"Scy!"

"Oh no!" Jeanette's eyes went wide in shock.

"And while Scyther managed to win the duel of Quick Attacks, Emolga got in a parting shot, and no I don't mean a move called Parting Shot! No, Emolga's Static Ability, one found in several Kanto-Native Pokémon including the Pikachu and Electabuzz families, which paralyzes the foe on contact!"

As Emolga floated back over to her trainer, the flying squirrel turned her gaze to Iris.

Iris could not understand Emolga's or Excadrill's words. It was impossible for her to do so with any Pokémon that was not a Dragon-Type. Not even Dragon-like Pokémon like Gyarados could be understood by her. It was a great frustration, communication only through a middleman, or as it generally was a middle-Axew.

She could, however, read their facial expressions and pick up on their emotions. It was a talent that took most humans quite a while to truly learn, and only among the most skilled.

The rare trainers who could take that talent and be able to truly understand intent, according to her parents they were the ones destined for great things.

Being able to do that with all Pokémon, not just Dragons...if Iris did not need to get stronger to save her parents she'd be aiming for that goal first and foremost.

Looking into Emolga's eyes, she could feel determination. A spark of something new...

A glowing yellow ball of energy appeared on Emolga's hands, with which Emolga attacked a foe.

Was this...a sense of what Emolga was trying to convey?

Iris's eyes began filled with determination. She knew exactly what to do.

"Emolga, use your new move, now!" Iris bellowed. Emolga nodded in agreement as an electric ball began to form...on Emolga's tail.

Not her hands.

Electro Ball, not Volt Switch.

...It would appear she still had a ways to go until she could truly understand Emolga, but this would still win them the battle.

It was still a sign of Emolga getting stronger, and closer to their end goal.

"Now, Electro Ball!" Iris shouted.

"Emol!" The attack was now finished charging. Jeanette was quick on the uptake though.

"Scyther, quickly stop it!" She called. Scyther seemed to pick up that Jeanette wanted him to use Quick Attack, but Static acted up, stopping the attack before Scyther even had a chance to use it.

Scyther groaned in pain Jeanette wore a terrified expression, and Iris' expression seemed almost predatory in satisfaction.

"Ga!" Emolga fired the Electro Ball, which flew into and exploded on Scyther.

As the resulting smoke cleared, one smoking bug-type lay on the battlefield, defeated.

"No!" Jeanette gasped, a hand rising to cover her mouth.

"The Scyther has been defeated! The winner is Emolga, and victory goes to Iris!"

Emolga landed on Iris' shoulder, tired but triumphant. In return, Iris rubbed her head affectionately, causing Emolga to let out a content sigh.

Walking up to her fallen warrior, Jeanette took a knee next to him and put a comforting hand on his shoulder as her other went for her Pokéball.

"You fought well Scyther. Take a good rest, you have earned it." Scyther slowly opened one eye and gave his trainer a small nod before disappearing in a cloud of red light.

Just before Battle 8

"Mega Evolution."

"Paleontologists suspect that relatively few of the modern Pokémon types existed in the ancient past. As of now, only Water, Flying, Grass, Bug, Dragon, and Ice types were known to have existed prior to the legendary and yet unsolved extinction event. Some argue a prototype existed that became the modern steel type, and a second-prototype that has many similarities to the modern rock-type. Mew of course, existed as well during this time period, but its type is unknown even at this present time," the Pokédex offered unhelpfully and very much off-topically.

"Mega Evolution." Ash questioned his Pokédex, not amused at the random trivia.

"Size and weight data given by the Pokédex is of course highly subjective. Pokémon weight can easily be less or more than the recorded numbers due to factors like diet and age, while height is as varied as in humans, particularly as Pokémon are capable of indeterminate growth."

"Yeah, yeah, I can carry a Hippopotas on my head and I won't require surgery afterwards." Ash had wondered about that, and why talking about it with pre-time shatter Professor Oak had made him panic so much and nearly got him sent to a chiropractor. "Now, Mega Evolution."

"Mega Evolution is...a form of evolution that mega-amplifies the power of evolution." The Pokédex seemed to be trying to avoid giving details...

Wait a minute. Did the Pokédex not know anything about…?

Oh, this would be fun.

"You don't know anything about it, do you?" Ash couldn't help but grin smugly at his ever so know-it-all device.

"I saw a mention of it in the Rotan archives I downloaded...”

“Stole.”

“I am not human, thus your laws apply not to me.”

“Yeah, my I-Pod broke into government databases on its own accord, I'm sure that will fly in court.”

“It actually has in the past.”

“Wha?!”

"...but I have yet to fully translate the data. Sadly getting through Sir Aaron's 10,000 page thesis on his favorite foods has proven surprisingly difficult. I will eventually know about it, nothing can be hidden from an internet capable device!"

"Not true, I can't find a single episode of a show I used to watch as a kid online," Ash countered before stuffing the Pokédex back into his pocket and walking onto stage.

'"And our final battle of the first round is about to begin! Representing the town of Pallet and Professor Oak as one of this year's Pokédex recipients from the Kanto Region, is Ash Ketchum! With outstanding wins at the Pewter, Cerulean, and Vermillion Gyms, this young trainer is on a roll. In fact, he even managed to win a battle against the full power of the Cerulean Gym Leaders: so you could say that this remarkable young trainer technically has ten badges! Obviously he believes you can never be too prepared to take on your first Pokémon League Championship, am I right?!"

Ash gave off wide, startled eyes at that call. Did they...did they really just say that out loud? Why was that even relevant?

...

Up in the stands, where Pikachu had been 'strongly' suggested to relocate by Tournament Staff, the Electric Mouse Pokémon turned his heard sharply at his portly seating neighbor. On the other side of the mouse, the curious Goomy let off a confused sound, a soda-drinking hat stocked with water instead of soda on his head, and on the other side of Pikachu's portly seating neighbor, Yellow was sipping a soda, and now curiously looking at Scott as well.

The portly man sweat-dropped. "The Battle Frontier always knows, I have my sources. However, due to certain legalities in tournament seeding we had to explain why. Legal precedence after a few lawsuits in other small tournaments when trainers of radically different skill tiers were paired up first round requires priority in sorting trainers with high amounts of badges together, that sort of crud. Also helps minimize gambling.”

"Pika pi." 'Why does that sound like it's going to be painful for Ash?'

"I don't know what you exactly said my Electric-type friend, but I assume you are worried about Ash. Well, you may be right..." He turned to Goomy now, and sighed at the now gooped up hat. "Tell you what, win, lose, or whatever...tell Ash he can keep my Soda-Drink Hat."

...

"Wait, what about Ash and the Cerulean Gym Leaders?!"

Having ran over to his place the moment the Professor had called her to say that her son was going to be on T.V, Delia had arrived just as Misty's match began, and had waited patiently for Ash's battle to start.

Thankfully the Professor had not had to explain to Delia about Ash's female traveling companion, or why there now appeared to be a second one with him since the last time he had met up with the boy (was it related to the Strato-Goomy incident?). He felt he probably owed it to Ash after that telecommunications man incident.

He had also not explained to Delia about another incident that happened when he had last met up with Ash...

Bulbasaur and Krabby quickly read the mood and got the hell out of dodge.

...

Currently in the kitchen cooking with an apron on, Brock's eyes nearly opened from realization.

"Oh, so that's why those three got fired!"

He had been wondering about that.

...

The Television blaring in front of him, and a fully dressed hot dog in hand ready to be eaten, Lt. Surge barely avoided face palming and splattering his face with ketchup.

"How tactless! That sort of thing would have gotten you killed in the war!" And really, all the Gym Leaders could read the writing on the wall there: that kid had, with guts, determination, luck, and skill, managed to overcome the trickery of those now fired Gym Leaders, and then found out how weak they were.

Clearly he wanted to work on his Pokémon skills properly and prepare himself, before he found out the hard way at the League what happened if you weren't ready.

His nine Raichu: Corporal Raichu, Sergeant Raichu, Staff Sergeant Raichu, Sergeant First Class Raichu, Master Sergeant Raichu, First Sergeant Raichu, Sergeant General Raichu, Command Sergeant Raichu, and Sergeant Major Raichu of Lt. Surge's slowly forming Elite Four Challenge Team (Also doable for possible Zapdos capturing or Ranger Killing as necessary) all shook their head at Lt. Surge saying that a person lacked tact.

...

On his way towards Celadon City, Paul looked at the televised tournament with a furious gaze.

...

For unknown reasons, dread settled on Ash's soul. Somehow he figured his mother would be involved somehow.

"Facing up against him is a trainer whose accomplishments are closest to his, with six gym badges!"

Wait, six!?

"Winning at Pewter, Cerulean, Celadon, Fuchsia, Cinnabar and..." Ash missed the last one over the roar of the crowds. "Give it up for the Pewter born beauty, Solidad!"

Wait...Solidad.

The orange clad, pink-haired Coordinator (at least before) arrived on stage to a flurry of applause. Ash did note some differences with her appearance though: she seemed a little younger than when he had met her in the old timeline, at least when comparing his age then (relatively anyway) to what hers appeared to be, and now had a necklace on which now featured the odd stone he had obtained from this Tournament, the one that seemed somehow connected to Mega-Evolution. Apparently she had been aware of what the prize was and accessorized accordingly.

So, the coordinator who had defeated May in the Top 4 of the Kanto Grand Festival, was walking nightmare fuel to Drew, could tolerate Harley for more than five minutes, and took the Kanto Grand Festival Ribbon Cup was here, facing him, and on paper was at least twice as powerful as he was.

And she had what was probably the key to making her Pokémon Mega Evolve on hand, and knowing his luck she probably had whatever other pieces there were to the puzzle of Mega Evolution.

This should be fun.

"The humble town, or the stone-hard city? Which will triumph? Trainers, go!"

"I choose you!" Both trainers shouted at once. "Snivy/Slowbro!"

As Ash's Grass-type was sent out, so was the large, pink, and shell bitten Pokémon.

Snivy looked pretty determined all things considering, while Slowbro looked...well like a Slowbro. They didn't really do determined, hot-blooded or angry that well, mostly sticking to dumbstruck and gormless.

"Slowbro, the Hermit Crab Pokémon. Named long before Kantonian scholars were aware of the Dwebble line, Slowbro evolve when a Shellder bites a Slowbro's tail, and devolves when it lets go. It is thus one of the few Pokémon capable of devolution, though doing so in official matches leads to instant disqualifications for the shell remover. Slowbro bile is used in ADHD medication."

Ash was suddenly glad he did not have ADHD. Who wanted to ingest Slowbro bile?

He wasn't quite sure what bile was, but he doubted it was pleasant to ingest, or to be removed from the Slowbro.

"Begin!"

Solidad was eyeing Snivy warily, unsure of what it was capable of. Then again, she probably had never seen one before and was probably trying to figure out what type of Pokémon it was.

A green Pokémon did suggest Grass-Type, but it could also mean Bug. Its serpentine body was akin to something like an Ekans, or a Dratini.

If he was, say, Paul, he'd probably make a snide comment about not knowing about typing, but Ash was hardly in any place to make commentary about messing up typing. He'd done it himself in the past, granted he'd done well in some of those situations so it wasn't something he'd pull someone else up on.

"Snivy, use Attract!" Might as well keep the typing a mystery as long as he could, and if he was going to have to fight another Pokémon that, on paper, was much tougher than his, he was going to have to be strategic and forward thinking.

After all, unlike the Cerulean Sisters, Solidad was competent!

With a wink, Snivy sent a storm of hearts flying at Slowbro...which on contact dissolved away. Slowbro didn't even register that it had been hit.

"Wha?!/Sni!?" It translated about the same.

"Slowbro is Oblivious," the Pokédex pointed out, though why it felt the need to remind him of that was beyond him.

"Oblivious is an Ability that prevents Attraction and Taunting," the Pokédex elaborated further, as if knowing what Ash was thinking.

Oh...

Solidad raised an eyebrow. Ash was fluent enough in eyebrows that it was an 'everyone makes that mistake' kind of way rather than a 'you're an idiot' sort of way. Perhaps Slowbro's used in battle didn't normally have that ability.

"I see what you were going for, and it was a good idea. Now, here's my opening move, Slowbro use Yawn!"

With a wide open mouth, bubbles began to fly out of Slowbro's mouth, right towards Snivy. Ash did notice, however, that the bubbles seemed a tad shinier than he was used to seeing in regular Yawn bubbles, or even the kind he'd recalled opponents like Flannery using. But shiny bubbles weren't important right now.

He raised an Attract, and she countered with a Yawn. There was only one thing to do against that.

"Block it with Attract!"

With another wink, Snivy sent a flurry of hearts right into the bubbles, which promptly cancelled the two out.

"Amazing folks! With one of his moves unable to be used for its intended purpose against Slowbro, Ash reworks it into a defense! An excellent tactician must be able to rapidly adjust to changes in battle and redeploy the attack, even if what he has on him isn't being used in the way it was intended to be!" Tucker seemed to think it was a good tactic, at least.

Solidad seemed impressed as well.

"Not bad. It's rare to see trainers with any sort of imagination like that. Of course, defense isn't going to win the battle for you. Slowbro, Water Gun!"

With a long breath, Slowbro then expelled a massive stream of water right at Snivy, who tensed as the attack came her way.

"Snivy, use Leaf Blade to dodge, then to attack!" Ash called. Snivy nodded, jumping into the air as her tail glowed green.

The tail was used to springboard off the Water Gun, gaining some air before coming right back down on Slowbro with a powerful slashing attack.

Snivy regained distance before Slowbro even felt the hit. So, not all that good a compliment given the Slowbro lag, but still notable as Slowbro rubbed the afflicted area as one would a bruise.

"A Grass-type," Solidad noted with interest. "Flamethrower!"

"Flamethrower..." Ash repeated, sure that call was a mistake. Then he saw the flames billowing out of Slowbro's mouth. "That, that shouldn't even work!?"

But it did anyway, and he was going to have to react. Fast.

"Snivy, get out the way and use Leaf Blade!"

"Sni!" 'Well!' Snivy noted as she jumped over the flames. 'This is certainly surprising, the Water-types of your homeland are certainly weird.' With a glowing green tail she flung herself right at the Slowbro as the flames flickered away. 'But I can certainly manage anything...'

"Use Psychic!"

Slowbro's body glowed blue, as it promptly bent over its shell covered tail with more flexibility than the pink lummox would normally be capable of. Snivy's attack promptly missed it by mere inches, sending Snivy skidding across the other side of the stadium.

"Vy?" 'Except...whatever that was. What just happened?'

Ash recalled similar moves used by this same Slowbro before, during the Grand Festival.

'It's contest battling.' Ash explained telepathically. He had been practicing with it recently, and it didn't even seem to give his Pokémon migraines anymore. He still wasn't going to use it to give commands in battle, but this wasn't giving commands. 'It's the kind of battling Dawn uses, remember Dawn?'

'The girl with the extremely short skirt and the Piplup who never had a chance with Meloetta?'

'Yep'. Ash decided to end the telepathic conversation at this point and resume battling. "Okay, now use Leaf Storm, again and again!"

Jumping into the air, Snivy began releasing a barrage of the grass style Overheats one after another.

"Dodge it with Psychic!" Solidad commanded. Once more glowing blue, Slowbro continued to avoid Leaf Storm like it was a top or something.

It was very contest-like really. His constant missing would have probably taken him down a few pegs by now.

Of course, this wasn't that kind of battle. He didn't lose any points with a miss except coolness points.

"And no matter how much Ash tries to hit it, Slowbro continues to dodge! Those misfires are going to cost Ash though!"

Snivy eventually stopped firing them, and Slowbro stopped spinning and righted itself.

"That was a bad move Ash," Solidad told him with the air of a teacher correcting a pupil. "Leaf Storm isn't like a normal move, it gets weaker the more one uses it. Slowbro, Flamethrower!"

The fiery power once more began to build in Slowbro's mouth.

"Block it with Leaf Storm!" Ash called in return, as the green leaves began to billow around Snivy once more.

"Ash, that wouldn't work even if you hadn't been spamming them like mad already..." Solidad told him in a tone that sounded like a teacher helpfully informing a student that what they were doing was wrong, as the leaves hit the fire attack head on and blew right through it.

The Leaf Storm continued on at the shocked trainer and Slowbro, whose face slowly morphed into shock as the leaves hit it head on. The amount if leaves and smoke the attack caused hid Slowbro from sight, only the occasional grunt could be heard letting them know what was happening.

Snivy landed with a smug expression after that move. "Snivy." 'Got to love Contrary.'

Ash was going to ask if she had always had Contrary, or if that was an add-on for the new universe, as the smoke cleared to reveal a still standing Slowbro, though with a number of marks on it and more than a few leaves in its mouth. Solidad eyed him in surprise, but smiled.

"So, you do know what you're doing. I can see how you managed to qualify for the League like you did. Of course, power is something you could still work on a bit," Solidad said, pulling a stray leaf out of her hair that had managed to lodge itself in there from the powerful attack damage.

"Of course, what do you think I'm here for?!" Sure, technically he was here because Scott had food, but that wasn't relevant.

"Vy!" Snivy stated in agreement, though with a side note directed his way. 'Ash, you do realize I cannot spam Leaf Storm non-stop, right? While moves don't exactly have set amounts of uses, they can wear thin.'

Ash nodded in acknowledgement of Snivy's warning. "Okay Snivy, use Leaf Blade!"

With a glowing green tail, Snivy charged right at Slowbro, who had finally spat out its mouth leaves.

Solidad grinned. "Block with Aerial Ace!"

"Wait, Aerial Ace!?" Ash exclaimed in shock. A fifth move.

"Trained Pokémon can begin using more than the starting four-move limit with sufficient training," the Pokédex supplied. "You should try it after a few more badges."

Slowbro's shell was now glowing blue, and was swung right at Snivy as she got close. Snivy countered with her own attack, though after a few moments of struggle was flung back and on the ground. She recovered quickly though, though some part of him felt like she had taken about as much damage in that one hit as Slowbro had in the entire battle.

Had they needed more time to train?

Snivy eyed the Slowbro with more shock now, and more than a little annoyance at being struck by the same move as had allowed Ash to capture her this time around.

"Now, Flamethrower!" Solidad pressed her momentum forward as the flames billowed out. Ash kept Snivy's words to note, though.

"Snivy, roll on the ground!" he called, noting the flames were not hitting the ground. Snivy grit her teeth about the indignity of that command, much like she had whenever she saw the Counter-Shield in this and the original timeline, but acknowledged why he was doing it. And so, the thin snake Pokémon stop, dropped, and rolled.

The flames missed completely, only warming the scales on Snivy's back and stomach as they passed over her entirely.

"And would you look at that folks! Apparently Ash takes his fire safety lessons to heart!"

Guilty as charged.

"Okay, now Leaf Storm!" Ash hoped enough time had passed. The sound of leafs billowing around his Snivy, and not the sound of a car failing to start, was a good sign that enough time had passed.

"Use Psychic!" Solidad ordered as Solidad glowed blue, and promptly floated over the Leaf Storm and begin to rotate across the field like it was on a spinning carnival ride.

Slowbro then began to descend behind Snivy, like a god from the clouds above. Only in Azalea Town was such a thought ever to be truly taken seriously though.

"Now Aerial Ace!"

The tail was glowing blue once more, as Slowbro disengaged Psychic and fell with the force of gravity.

"Get out of the way!" Ash reacted as Snivy managed to avoid the Aerial Ace attack with a jump, even as it shattered the ground at impact. Snivy gracefully landed a couple of feet away from her opponent glaring at Slowbro angrily.

"Now, Flamethrower/Leaf Storm!" Solidad called her command a few moments before Ash reacted. And a few moments was not enough time for a Slowbro to do anything, so the Leaf Storm hit it first at close range.

As Snivy once more landed with grace, the Slowbro still stood tall. Apparently power was something he did need more work on with Snivy in this timeline.

Or Slowbro were unstoppable juggernauts. One of the two.

"Hey Solidad!" Ash shouted, as the redhead acknowledged she had heard him. "Those moves you were using...they are kind of...different you know. They seem a bit fancier and more...er..."

"Razzle-Dazzle?" Solidad offered.

"Yeah." Ash took the suggested verb, or was it noun? Adjective? He couldn't recall.

"Well, if you must know I hope to go into Pokémon Coordinating," Solidad admitted. "However, I first want to have my Pokémon compete in the League circuit to ensure that they are strong enough to win Contest Battles by knockout if need be. I'm not sure you are familiar with how Contests work..."

"Oh, I am somewhat familiar with them." Three regions, two companions, a Top 8, 4, and runner up, and more than a few sparkling hairdos and cross-dressing eccentrics to be specific.

"Then you can understand why I want an ace in the hole," Solidad finished, with Ash nodding in acceptance of her reasoning. Though that did lead him into an odd thought about how Mega-Evolution would impact a Pokémon Contest.

He had the oddest image in his head now of Nando with an extremely muscular Kricketune with flames like an Emboar on its whiskers and Harley with a Cacturne that seemed to look unusually like him. Come to think of it, why did Harley keep coming up in his head recently? It was somewhat worrying.

Regardless, he had the oddest concern for May and (Arceus please have it be another Iris) Dawn's contests if that was the case.

But he could worry about that later, when he figured out how it even worked. Or if Mega-Kricketune or Cacturne were actually a thing.

"Speaking of aces, Slowbro use Yawn!"

"Snivy, Attract!" Ash wasn't sure if Leaf Storm would work, and right now he wasn't willing to risk it. And with that, bubbles and hearts canceled each other once more.

Though now Snivy was really starting to look tired. Slowbro was...well Ash couldn't tell but he didn't think it would be Slowbro who'd drop first at this rate.

There had to be some way to end this quickly...though even if Snivy knew Vine Whip like before he couldn't see how that would. The other move Snivy knew was just...

A light bulb went off in Ash's brain and he had to suppress a grin as he had an idea.

"Slowbro, use Aerial Ace!" Solidad called as once more the tail glowed blue, for some reason. What happened to Aerial Ace as a tackle? Was it just another way to do it?

But no matter, because it was brainstorm time. Time to make his inspiration reality!

"Snivy, use Wrap on Slowbro's tail, below the shell!"

Snivy charged forward, just as the Aerial Ace got close...before ducking under it and curling her body around the base of Slowbro's tail. A confused Slowbro stopped attacking, and Solidad seemed to be having a hard time of determining what Ash could possibly be up to.

"Now, use Leaf Storm, as narrow as you possibly can get it!"

Solidad's eyes went wide as the Leaf Storm formed, with only the very middle of Slowbro's body not being blasted with leaves.

"No, Slowbro!"

"And from the weakest attack to the strongest, Ash pulls out an unusual trump card out of Snivy's optional!" the announcer called as the storm eventually ended. An exhausted and oddly sweaty Snivy returned to him, looking like she needed a shower.

Though any annoyance at him was undone from the fruit of the combination that now lay defeated on the ground.

"Slowbro is unable to battle! The winner is Snivy, and victory goes to Ash!"

As the crowds went wild, Tucker spoke.

"What a battle between two budding tacticians! Clearly you can see the strategies flowing like pure mountain water! Let this battle be a lesson to all trainers that one must be willing to use all their options to win a battle, even the weakest among them."

"You were awesome Snivy!" Ash congratulated his Pokémon, who nodded in acknowledgement with a proud look in her eyes.

As Slowbro was returned to its Pokéball with a thank you from Solidad, she walked over to Ash and his now oddly smelling Snivy.

She was smiling.

"Well fought Ash," she told him as she extended a hand to him. "So, I take it I'll be seeing you at the Indigo League then?"

Ash nodded, taking her hand in turn as Snivy grinned in triumph.

"Assuming I don't get turned into a statue or something, you'll definitely be seeing me there!"

...

"I thought you said you had to get stronger to get into the Pokémon League?"

Iris asked him this blunt question as they took a catering break during the after round break. Somehow, it was all going to be in one day: it was odd to Ash, but he accepted it.

"I do," Ash explained patiently, somewhat expecting the confusion. He had omitted it after all. "However, just because I technically can do something, doesn't mean I am strong enough to do it. I mean, I could go and poke a sleeping Ursaring, but I'm not strong enough to do it." Not that many people would go bother a sleeping Ursaring though, even someone as strong as Cynthia didn't see such activities as worthwhile or safe. "You see Iris, I won the badge to get me into the League because I was tricked into doing so, and only won it with a lot of good luck, skill, and the fact that my opponents were about as competent as my shoes."

"You're giving them too much credit," Misty snarked from the other end of the table as she ate a box of donuts, all the while Psyduck was under them hopping feebly to grab them.

"I know I'm not really that strong yet, and if I go into the League I'm just going to make a fool out of myself. So while I can enter the League now if I do nothing, I won't." Ash finished. Iris seemed to accept the explanation, though he knew that...

"Ring a ring, ring a ring. Phone, or should I say Pokédex Call! Caller I-D registers one, Delia Ketchum. Your mother, thirty-three years old, standing at..."

As his Pokédex rang/spoke, startling Iris in the process, and continuing to show itself off as some multi-functional device, Ash sighed, knowing what was going to happen. So, interrupting it before he found out anything about his mother that could be dangerous to his health (like her weight), he took the doom/call.

"Hello..."

The resulting conversation was only half as bad as Ash had feared.

...

"And welcome to Round 2! What a brilliant round of white-hot intensive battles that was, and here's to seeing this tournament deliver a similar degree of amazement!" Tucker spoke as the crowds focused it all back to him "For making it this far, all trainers present received a Trainers Berry Starter Kit! Growing your own Oran, Sitrus, Liechi, and all the other essential berries of a Pokémon Trainer, Coordinator, or just plain Pokémon fan has never been easier!"

Maybe to him, but Ash couldn't make heads or tails of the thing, and neither could Misty or Iris. Do it yourself didn't always mean easy to understand.

He just decided to send all three of their berry kits off to Professor Oak. Pokémon ate berries, and Professor Oak had to feed a lot of Pokémon, so maybe some berry growing would help out his bottom line?

Ash did plan on trying to track down as many of his Tauros as possible when the time came after all. This was just Ash's way of making it up to the old man before his fence bill skyrocketed.

"Who's going to go on once more and win even more wonders!? Find out now, as Ash Ketchum of Pallet Town finds himself facing down A.J!"

The green haired master of the Sandshrew who Ash had fought before was once more his opponent, and he seemed rather friendly. He wasn't glaring at him like he was fresh meat to be grounded or anything like that.

"I may have lost to you last time," A.J noted as he held up his Pokéball, "but I'm not losing this time!"

"And I plan on keeping my winning streak." Ash countered.

Battle 1, Round 2

"I choose you!" Both trainers shouted as they threw out their Pokémon.

"Slash!"

A.J's choice was the scaly backed, clawed evolution of Sandshrew. And his...

"Squirtle!" his choice shouted to the world. 'Let's get this rematch started, it's time for our duel to begin!'

"Sandslash, the Mouse Pokémon, though a movement to recategorize it as a Pangolin Pokémon has been gaining traction in the scientific world as of late. Sandslash hide themselves with sand, and attack their enemies with sharp claws and spikes." The Pokédex provided Ash information that would not particularly help him as Sandslash was not being fought in a sandbox.

"So, you're using your Squirtle?" A.J noted with amusement. "Me and Sandslash have been getting a whole lot better since the last time we fought. We beat Lt. Surge together, we won't lose to you again."

"Neither will we!" Ash countered, idly noting Squirtle's use of the word duel. He wasn't going to have to refer to him as Sir Squirtle, was he?

"Bring it on!”

"Begin!"

"Okay Sandslash, let's get this match started with Bulldoze!" A.J called. With a nod, Sandslash slammed the battlefield with its claws, sending a wave through the earth right at Squirtle.

"Jump out of the way and use Water Gun!" Ash shouted. With his own nod, Squirtle used his tail to give himself a good burst into the air, avoiding the ground attack before shooting out the water attack that hit the ground-type square on.

Sandslash took it like a champ though. Training after all did bring perks.

"Counter with Poison Jab!" A.J called. With a shout of the Sand part of its name, Sandslash's claws glowed purple, and the water attack was stabbed right through.

With several calls of Slash, it began trying to jab Squirtle with its purple claws.

"Slash!" Squirtle ducked into his shell to avoid a head injury.

"Slash!" Then Squirtle swerved to the left.

"Slash!" Then to the right, making sure to keep his tail out of reach.

"Stop it with Return Squirtle!" Ash ordered. With a nod, Squirtle's fist began glowing white, before making impact in Sandslash's chest.

The Ground-type was sent rolling back, not even fully curled up kicking up a cloud of dust as his spiky back tore into the ground.

"Sandslash! Are you okay?!" A.J shouted with an evidently concerned tone. Sandslash nodded in affirmative as it slowly got back up, though it was holding its chest where Squirtle had hit it like it hurt.

"And the power of friendship was really packing in that attack!" the announcer shouted to the roars of the crowd.

"Okay then, let's wrap this up Squirtle, use Water Gun!" Squirtle began to well up the power of the seas within himself as A.J glared at it.

"Oh no you don't, use Bulldoze!" Raising its claw into the air, Sandslash slammed the earth with it and sent another tremor right at Squirtle.

Ash had begun the order to dodge, but the Bulldoze hit first.

"Squir!" his first Turtle Pokémon shouted as he was sent flying into the air.

"No, Squirtle!" Ash yelled, as A.J grinned wickedly.

"This is our chance, use Poison Jab!"

With purple tipped claws, the evolved Ground-Type leapt into the air, ready to take down Squirtle.

The same Squirtle who was now glowing blue.

A blue he had seen before...

"And it looks like Squirtle has accessed its ability, Torrent. This powerful ability increases the power of its Water-type attacks, but one more hit and it's all over for Squirtle!"

Torrent now?

That seemed...too quick.

It didn't make any sense though...Squirtle had taken only a single hit.

He had trained Squirtle plenty since he had captured him: his defenses should be stronger than that. Come to think of it...both Squirtle and Snivy had the same issue...

...

"I see our young Ash has picked up the problem in his strategy," Scott observed.

Pikachu and Goomy eyed the portly man in confusion, a look mirrored by Yellow whose little mouth was currently deep in a cookie.

"Pika?"

Scott grinned at the unintelligible question. "You see, from what I have observed both here and in after-action reports from the Gym Leaders, Ash favors Pokémon much like you Pikachu: fast Pokémon that hit hard and can dodge attacks easily because of their small size. However, such preference to small and powerful things leaves him vulnerable to being knocked out much easier than he would be if his Pokémon were evolved."

Removing her mouth from the cookie, Yellow looked at Scott curiously and asked. "So, you're saying Ash should have evolved his Pokémon?"

"No, not at all." Scott then explained, "His strategy is a perfectly valid one: unevolved Pokémon learn moves faster than their evolved counterparts, and opponents who know how to fight a Charizard are less versed on how one defeats a Charmander trained to the same level. His Squirtle did seemingly bruise a Sandslash's ribs with a single Return, clearly not pressuring his Pokémon and a lot of training led to a very powerful friendship punch. Like all strategies however, it comes with drawbacks. Ash is seeing it right now, and probably also noticed it during his fight with Solidad, though I can tell he's had his Squirtle for longer and thus probably assumed it was just how green Snivy was."

He then noted the girl, the dragon, and the mouse giving him looks for his unintentional pun.

"Sorry."

...

Opening his mouth, Squirtle began to form a water attack, though one Ash wasn't quite sure of the exact nature of. It did, however, smell unusually salty.

"Brine, a Water-type attack whose power is doubled when used on an already weakened opponent. Like the Sandslash," the Pokédex offered him helpfully.

It was in fact quite helpful, truth be told. The Pokédex should try and say more things like this and less about Slowbro bile and parasite mushrooms.

"Okay Squirtle, end this with Brine!"

With the salty spew of water, Squirtle blasted Sandslash right in the kisser just before Poison Jab made contact. And so, the already greatly weakened Ground-Type was hit with a Torrent boosted Brine whose power was already boosted per its own unique attributes.

A salted Sandslash hitting the ground with a loud thump was the end result, with a woozy Squirtle standing on top.

"Squirtle," the turtle noted, licking his lips. 'Salty...where did that move come from?'

It was a fair question. Then again, Pokémon learning a new technique without training but from sheer determination was hardly unique to him or anyone else really.

"Sandslash is unable to battle, the winner is Squirtle! Victory goes to Ash Ketchum!"

"What a battle everyone! A Salty Squirtle refusing to give up, a powerful turnaround attempt by Sandslash, clearly that match was anyone's game the entire time!"

Returning Sandslash, A.J held up a hand which Ash promptly shook.

"You may have won this time, but I'm going to get stronger. This time I was close to winning, next time I will!"

"Good luck with that," Ash said in a tone that didn't sound nearly as mocking as the phrasing implied.

...

Rounds 2 and 3 passed without much incident: Misty defeated her opponent with Poliwrath (That Hiker guy Ash had fought around the time Bulbasaur had learned Solar Beam), while James had somehow pulled Carnivine out of his hat to win his match.

Wait, whatever happened to Carnivine? After Sinnoh the floating Grass-type just vanished, along with Mime Jr, Seviper, Yanmega...

Really, where did the Rocket Pokémon keep going off to? Did they have some sort of retirement home for them out in the country?

Round 4 however...

Well, Red and Iris were up.

An identical stranger of him versus his Unovan female companion...Not exactly something he had ever expected to happen.

It would be like her and Ritchie having a battle...how would that have gone?

...

Battle 4, Round 2

Unova.

The distant land whose Pokémon evolved differently from those in other regions, it was a region he knew very little about.

His opponent used such Pokémon, one of which was an Electric/Flying type. A Pokémon she was unlikely to reuse just as he was unlikely to use his Charmeleon again.

Victory odds: 50%

Red reached for his Pokéball, contemplating the potential ways this could all go wrong.

After all, a single bad call could make or break a match. Particularly a one-on-one fight.

This was it.

"Go, Clefairy!"

"Go, Axew!"

As a green, tusked Pokémon seemed to shoot out of the girl's hair, he let loose his Pink Fairy-type, when he felt his eyes flash.

Victory odds: 98%

He raised an eyebrow at what he was seeing. The once windy, twisty, and unnavigable path to a victory had now become a single, straight path. For such a change to have occurred. …..

Truly, he had picked the right Pokémon. If, as he suspected, Axew was a Dragon-Type...victory with Pikachu or Charmeleon would be far closer to 50%.

But with Clefairy...the odds were entirely in his favor.

...

Having flown through Kanto once before, there was a place that her family had avoided like the plague.

A certain mountain, said to be home to the shards of the moon. Or at least that was how the legends went.

They had said, when she had asked, that the mountain was home to a terrifying race of monsters the likes of which were virtually unknown in Unova.

Iris had no idea why that had come back into her head, but it wasn't going to distract her.

She and Axew had to get stronger, and here was a trainer with a Pokémon in her path. She and Axew would win this, and be stronger for it.

"Alright Axew, let's get this started! Use Dragon Claw!"

"Ax!" Axew shouted as its claws began to glow green.

A depressed looking Axew sat forlorn some time ago, the moon it's only companion before a barely dented boulder.

The little creature looked at its hands, and looked away in self-disgust.

"Axew!"

Axew didn't even look up as the long limbs of his sister ran over to him, sounding rather relieved to see him.

"Axew, are you still trying to learn Dragon Claw?" She asked him. The dragon-type sighed at the truth of the matter.

He had been trying to learn Dragon Claw. Not had learned Dragon Claw.

His sister noted the rock he had only slightly harmed, before sending him a smile.

"And you managed to get that far, without anyone to show you?"

Axew turned his head to her, confused. Why did she sound proud of him?

"You're nearly there Axew...let me help you get past the last bit" She asked him, her own hand glowing green. Axew's dulled eyes lit up at once, and with a determined chirp raised his arm in the air as it shimmered an unstable green.

The next morning saw the both of them collapsed on the ground, a broken boulder shattered before them.

Axew's Dragon Claw wasn't just a move, it was a triumph.

And what better move for getting stronger than showing its power right here, right now, and letting it grow even more powerful from this battle.

With a powerful slash, the claws made contact...and fizzled out like sand in the wind.

What!?

...

Fairy-Types: immune to Dragon-Types. They were poorly understood, and were still being studied.

Perhaps Unovans were just behind in that regard.

No matter.

"Clefairy, use Sing!"

...

Iris's shock at the failure of Dragon Claw was mirrored on Axew's face, who looked like something they had been pinning all their hopes on had fallen completely flat.

However, she managed to shock herself out of her panic when the notes began to fly.

"Hurry Axew, stop it with Dragon Rage!"

Still in shock from what had just happened, Axew none the less gathered the blue fire in his maw, before letting it fly. The attack burned away all the musical notes and hit Clefairy dead center.

However, the attack dissolved away once more, like it was nothing.

"Clefairy." The Pokémon said in an unsettling tone.

...

Victory odds 97%?

Huh, it dropped a bit there.

No matter, it was still quite acceptable for ensuring a victory He did not fear a 3% chance of a upset.

"Clefairy, use Double Slap!"

...

If Dragon-Type moves didn't seem to work then that just left...

"Counter with Scratch!"

"Ax!" 'Got it!'

White claws and hands collided in a fury of strike and blows, this time not magically dissolving on contact.

With a few more scrapes Axew came on top of the exchange, as the red lines on Clefairy's palms attested that caused Clefairy to wince in confused pain.

"Fairy?"

...

Victory odds 90%

The road to victory was starting to get a little fuzzy.

So, it appeared that Axew's Scratch was more powerful than Clefairy's Double Slap. Was it worth determining if Wake-Up Slap was any stronger?

No...It wasn't. The injuries to Clefairy's palms would limit its effectiveness.

Red silently cursed the fact that he was still working with Clefairy to learn a Fairy-technique. All he had left was Sing and... that move.

Thinking of that move somehow didn't make his odds go down any further...so be it.

"Clefairy, Metronome."

...

"Fairy, Fairy, Fairy..." Clefairy started to sing song creepily. Axew nervously began backing away from it as its fingers glowed.

Iris couldn't hear what Clefairy was saying.

Thankfully.

...

'Round and round we go! Where I stop, no one knows! Let's play a game little dragon, a fun game! Hehehe!'

Up in the stands, Pikachu and Goomy simultaneously shivered. That voice sounded demented. Mad. Disturbed even.

...

On his shoulder and as silent as ever, Red noticed his Pikachu shiver, looking at his Clefairy with unusual unease.

One of these days he really needed to figure out why Clefairy creeped his other Pokémon out.

...

"Fairy!"

From the glowing fingers formed a glowing purple ball, which Clefairy promptly lobbed right at Axew.

"Stop it Axew with Dragon Claw!" Iris countered. "Then hit Clefairy with Scratch!"

With glowing green claws Axew leapt from his current spot, and sliced Shadow Ball in half with it, before dropping green for white and flying right at Clefairy.

Who was still metronoming.

"Fairy!"

With the next burst of inspiration Clefairy opened its mouth, and let loose a gigantic tongue that promptly licked Axew top to bottom, several times. As if tasting him, causing a visible shiver to go through the dragon type.

Axew fell on the ground, rather paralyzed. Probably not just from the effect of Lick, the tongue was just creepy looking in general. For one thing, it looked like something out of a purple Lickitung and it smelled a bit like an old shoe.

Even Clefairy's own trainer was disturbed by it.

Then Clefairy loomed over the downed Axew, the light shadowing Clefairy's face and looking as creepy as possible.

"Cle Fai!" Metronome was still active, and now had given Clefairy what looked like Vice Grip, pinching them menacingly over Axew like some creepy robot. To all who could understand what Clefairy had just said.

To those who could however….

"Xew..." Axew whimpered in terror. 'What about you liking my teeth, and my claws!?'

Iris's eyes went wide open as she heard her brother's panic, which was quickly becoming her own. And so, she reacted immediately.

"I give, I give, just stop!" Iris shouted in horror running onto the field. Both of them wanted to get stronger, but whatever it was that Clefairy wanted to do was not worth it.

After all, what older sister would ever want to see their little brother get parts of him yanked off by a freak of nature? Teeth may grow back, but it was not exactly a painless process to remove them. Nor was it instantaneous. And she had no idea if claws meant just Axew's nails, which could regrow….or his fingers, which could not.

The moment she shouted, and the ref's flag rose, Red returned Clefairy as it was moments before plying off one of Axew's teeth for...reasons unknown to anyone. Red had to return Clefairy as the Fairy Pokémon had ignored Iris' cry and the ref's signal that the battle was over, Clefairy had still been reaching out to take one of Axew's tusks.

He looked at the Pokéball with unease, before clicking it securely away. He then eyed the trainer and Axew currently being comforted by said trainer.

...

"Sorry." He felt the need to say. He normally did not apologize for winning, or curb-stomping, or anything like that...but it was a special case here.

"And sometimes, the best act a tactician can give, is to retreat. Better to lose a battle, than a war." Tucker noted sagely.

Iris's gaze rose to look at his, revealing an inhuman fury to them, like a mother Ursaring or Tyranitar.

Red held his ground momentarily, before slowly turning around and walking away with a slight increase in his walking speed. He had apologized for his Clefairy behaving like a crazy person...he couldn't think of anything else to do in this situation.

Except maybe figure out if there was a Pokémon therapist he could send Clefairy too.

Sometimes one had to wonder why he was able to find just one Clefairy in Mount Moon. Perhaps it wasn't luck as much as the other Clefairy just didn't want his one around.

It was a theory, unbeknownst to him, his Pikachu already had.

...

Snivy eyed her new item, courtesy of the ever generous tournament with interest. It was a seed, but one that seemed to radiate the power of the Grass-Type itself.

Misty had gotten a Mystic Water, which was currently being worn by Staryu.

Ash had used the Pokédex to put an order in for a holder for Snivy, though, because he sensed something was off...

It felt like waves of...depression really. Odd how that was suddenly something one could feel.

It turned out to be Iris. She was sitting in a corner, looking down. She was holding Axew in her arms rocking him gently back and forth as he looked scared out of his mind.

Then again, that Clefairy had been rather disturbing, even for someone who couldn't tell what it had been saying.

"Iris?" Ash got to his knees in front of her. She looked up at him, looking defensive.

"What do you want?" she questioned as he looked at her, concerned.

"You don't seem to be taking losing well." He told her as she scowled.

"Well, no one ever likes losing. Especially a fight you had no chance of winning." She said the last one quietly. Ash recalled the fight with Clefairy.

"Something was up with that Clefairy." Ash recalled as he felt his Pokédex shake in his pocket. Probably to give him a heads up as it begun spouting exposition, oddly considerate of it really.

"Clefairy, as the name suggests, is a Fairy-Type Pokémon. A Fairy-Type has complete immunity to Dragon-Type attacks."

A Fairy-Type? That was new...

"...So that's what my parents meant about Mt. Moon," Iris mused to herself.

"A Fairy-Type takes reduces damage from Fighting, Dark, and Bug attacks. It's weak to Poison and Steel type moves," the Pokédex continued, possibly for Ash's benefit.

"So, if I had used Excadrill..." Iris seemed to only get more depressed at that.

Or to do that. Hard to tell if that making Iris depressed was its goal or not.

"Everyone makes bad calls Iris." Ash tried to assure her. "I mean, I used a Charmander against a Kingdra." He wouldn't point out the Charmander won. That would not help here.

"Sometimes you just end up in a bad match up. A Durant can't change the fact that it's just food for a Heatmor." Iris apparently agreed with him. At least, Ash thought what that reference was about.

"However...what about when you throw your own Durant at a Heatmor, expecting it to win?"

Or perhaps, it was not a positive one.

She clutched Axew tighter now. "I nearly got my brother maimed. It was my decision that put him in that fight. What if I hadn't been able to get him out before that monster did something to him?"

Why did that comment make Ash think of Guillotine or Horn Drill?

Recalling a gym battle past, where he had chosen surrender over seeing Pikachu fall into lava, Ash extended a hand, slowly, to Iris's shoulder. When she didn't look like she'd claw him, he placed it on her shoulder, causing her to jerk and look at him in surprise.

"You got him out of there before that happened Iris," he told her calmly. "That's all that counts. You and Axew, you both want to get stronger. Losing one battle you don't think you two could have won isn't the end of it." Hearing a call for him, Ash stood up and made his way to the battlefield. Before he left, however, he turned around and faced her with a grin on his face.

"In fact, given that you had managed to stop Clefairy's regular attack with Scratch, I think you two are strong enough to beat Clefairy next time. You know about Metronome now, you can prepare for it next time. If you can learn about why you lost and grow from it, you can come out on top during the rematch".

As he walked away, he failed to catch both dragon and dragon girl watch him leave, far cheerier than before he talked to them.

...

Battle 1, Round 3

Of course, if he lost here, he'd have to follow his own advice.

"Well, fancy meeting you here!"

...And his opponent was James. Looking rather friendly to be honest, as opposed to rather villainous or stalker-like.

Okay...so losing was probably off the table today then.

"Now, I know the two of us have met under some...complicated circumstances in the past," James offered as a greeting. "However, let's put those meetings behind us temporarily and have a good, fair fight with no baggage, shall we."

Translation: do not say he's a member of Team Rocket? Or that he was stalking him?

Come to think of it, where were Jessie and Meowth? He looked around, but he only saw two of that trio of oddly familiar event vendors watching them battle. Odd, they must be working here today and the taller male among them must be out sick or something.

Well, okay. Ash supposed he could be the better man and not shout out that his opponent was a member of a criminal organization. Ash wasn't sure if he could prove it, and that sort of accusation throwing did seem somehow juvenile when he thought about it a bit.

Of course, his inner ten-year-old was insisting he shout it. Five years of further socialization lessons told him not to, however.

"And with that, a match between two real rivals will now begin! What Pokémon will they chose? Will they be old favorites, or new competitors?!"

"Go!"

"Free!" In a burst of pollen, his currently only fully evolved Pokémon appeared for battle. 'Okay, time to see what a tournament is really...um...'

"Inkay!" The floating squid greeted cheerfully, thus answering the question of who was fighting.

It was all newcomers.

Turning to Ash, Butterfree made a whining like noise and gestured at Inkay in confusion. While the crowd's question had been answered, Butterfree himself had his own question. Ash responded with his Pokédex.

"Inkay, the Revolving Pokémon. Inkay confused it's foes with flashing lights and strange movements, dazing them and making them weakly hallucinate. It is illegal to evolve an Inkay."

Um, okay? So what, it evolved into a Gyarados on steroids or something?

For that matter, why did James have his Kalos Pokémon with him?

"Oh, if you are wondering about all my new friends, it's simple really!" James seemed to pick up on his unspoken confusion. "You see, long ago I had friends! Then my parents took them away because they are horrible people, and I can say that because I am not afraid of libel lawsuits!" He said the last one as a boastful laugh.

Could parents sue children for Libel?

"But we're back together now, and our friendship is stronger than ever! It's time to show you the powers of friendship!"

As James said that however, Ash and Butterfree could have sworn they saw James, his Koffing, Growlithe, Carnivine, and Yamask pose with Inkay, all wearing golden crowns with various symbols in them that radiated virtues like kindness, generosity, laughter, and magic.

It was brief however, and Ash and Butterfree quickly just left that up to Inkay messing with them.

The Tackle to Butterfree that came just as they realized this was probably an indication of it.

That sent Butterfree back a bit, though he managed to stabilize himself quickly.

"Free." 'Well, that hurt.'

The tackle, and James as part of a friendship sentai pose. Both were painful to see.

"Now, Psybeam!" James followed up with a psychic beam attack.

"Counter it with your own Psybeam!" Ash shouted as Butterfree's eyes let loose their own blast.

The two attacks collided with equal force, they started to meld into a ball of multicolored light until it blew up. A cloud of thick smoke covered the area between the two Pokémon.

As the resulting smoke began to clear, Ash heard James call for another Tackle.

"Block it with Gust!" Ash declared. Butterfree nodded, before it began to blow with his wings, and all his might.

The wind storm cleared away all the remaining smoke, Inkay struggled against the gale at first but was sent flying back.

"And a repeat performance has been blown right off course by Ash Ketchum's quick thinking!"

As the windstorm ended, Ash noted Butterfree's wings. As the storm ended, they glowed slightly.

Interesting...

Inkay returned to battle however, and James wasn't done yet. Ash could ponder Butterfree's wings later.

"Not bad, but Inkay's not so easily blown away! Use Return!" Inkay began glowing white, the power of friendship surging through its body.

And Ash recalled the last time one of his Pokémon got hit by that move.

"Engulf it in Sleep Powder!" Ash ordered. Butterfree followed with a blowing of sleeping spores.

"Stop Inkay!" James countered as Inkay halted to a complete stop, inches away from the powder. "Now, Psybeam!"

The beam flew fast right at Butterfree, blasting through the Sleep Powder and striking him in the side just before Ash could call a counterattack. The resulting hit caused Butterfree to lose altitude, quickly.

"Free!" 'Ash, I'm not going to be able to stay in the air!'

"Butterfree!" Ash shouted in concern, before pointing right at Inkay. "Take Inkay with you, with String Shot!"

Seconds later, Inkay wondered why a white thread had grabbed it by the tentacles, moments before being flung down to the ground by it with a slam.

Butterfree stood on his legs, spitting out the String Shot from his mouth as Inkay jumped back up, hovering slightly and rubbing its back with its tentacles.

"Hey, you can't hogtie my Inkay!" James shouted in complaint.

"Actually, that move was perfectly legal," the announcer pointed out. "Had Ash Ketchum attempted to tie you up, he'd have been disqualified. Of course, you can't simply set it up so you can get hit by a String Shot not aimed at you to win that way..."

Why did both sound like they were decisions made because they became actual problems?

James growled as Inkay pointed itself right at Butterfree, like a missile. "Very well, if you want to play cowboy, I hope you're ready to fear the Tauros horn! Inkay, Return!"

Inkay glowed white and pure, like friendship. It then flew at Butterfree, with immense force.

Could Gust stop it? Well, Ash would have to find out.

"Stop it with Gust!" Ash called as Butterfree began to flap his wings, only to send out a storm attack with not just a wind attack.

No, it was filled with a silvery powder that glittered beautifully.

"Free!" 'This isn't a Gust, not anymore! It's Silver Wind!'

"Silver Wind?!" Ash shouted in surprise. That was a new move for him, and Butterfree in general. Come to think of it, why hadn't he seen Silver Wind in Kanto at all his first time through?

Though that itself wasn't as a relevant, as Silver Wind was itself as it flew right at a certain flying squid.

"Silver Wind?! As in, a Bug-Type attack!?" James shouted in horror as the attack hit Inkay, and promptly exploded. "Inkay!"

Inkay promptly fell out of the smoke cloud, defeated.

"No, Inkay!"

"Inkay is unable to battle, the winner is Ash of Pallet Town!"

The crowd cheered as James sighed, returning Inkay and looking at Ash with a calm face and a shrug.

"Well, this was efficient stalking for today. See you tomorrow!" No one seemed to hear what he said as he spun around and walked away after that friendly departure.

Ash and Butterfree just watched him leave, and wondered frankly what was wrong with him.

Battle 2, Round 3

What did Misty know about this trainer?

Well, his name was Red. He defeated the three Gym Leaders Ash had, and had defeated Iris with a Clefairy who clearly was not normal, nor right in the head.

He also looked a lot like Ash, right down to the shoulder mounted Pikachu he had with him. And given what Ash had been ruled on with his own Pikachu to sit out for, it meant he was likely going to be using that Pikachu for this battle.

After all, he probably had noticed her Pokémon of choice by now.

...

The Cerulean Sisters...had been the weakest Gym Leaders he had faced. Gary had been a far tougher challenge, even though in the end he had still won without a single casualty.

This Misty...there was something about her that reminded him of them. The way her face was...a cousin perhaps? He could have sworn reading that Siebold and the Cerulean Sisters were related.

She shared the same type affinity as them, but clearly she was far more talented at it. Or perhaps she actually just put work into it. What Pokémon he'd use was clear though. There was no other logical choice.

...

Of course, she had seen a Pikachu in action enough times to know exactly what to do to counter one. Of course, that did lead to the question of what happened when she won this fight.

After all, battling wasn't exactly something she did for a living, like Ash or this Red guy. On the other hand, she did like the free food they gave between rounds, and it would be somewhat rude to just walk out after eating.

Eh, she'd figure that out when this was all over.

"Begin!"

"Gyarados!" Misty declared as she threw out her old friend. "Let's go!"

"Pikachu." Red declared as his mouse jumped onto the battle field, just as the great Water-Flying type appeared with a roar.

...

Victory odds: 99%.

This would be over in one move.

"Thunderbolt," Red declared as the yellow aura surrounded his Electric-type, as his opponent grinned.

Why? A Gyarados could not possess Lightning Rod, Motor Drive, or use Mud Sport. What could she possibly be planning, Protect maybe?

...

Well, time to put their new technique to use. Though perhaps it wasn't quite new, as she'd borrowed the ideas from a certain companion of hers.

Though with some changes of course. After all, a Gyarados did not have claws.

"Iron Tail," Misty declared as Gyarados's tail glowed white, before being slammed into the field.

The lightning hit Gyarados, and while it did illuminate the great serpent, it didn't seem to hurt the Gyarados at all.

Misty couldn't help but smirk. Everything was working perfectly. Gyarados was also smirking, which was rather terrifying. After a few seconds Gyarados flexed and broke out of the shroud of electricity.

...

Red and Pikachu looked on the entire thing, in abject horror.

"Pika?!"

Red eyed the Gyarados that somehow was defying the very law of nature, the law of being a Gyarados.

The fact that being electrocuted was their natural weakness. The sole reason human civilization outside of Unova could even live on the coast!

The nightmares of countless centuries was coming true before his very eyes.

"And what a shocker! Somehow, the Thunderbolt didn't have any effect on Gyarados!" The announcer sounded as surprised as Red was about it. "What will Red do now?"

Victory Odds: 10%

10%...

He hadn't had odds that low since his fight with Brock, following a critical hit from his Onix taking out his Charmander and then the unexpected use of Bide on his Pikachu.

But it wasn't completely out of the realm of possibility yet.

"Use Quick Attack!"

...

The Quick Attack slammed right into Gyarados's head just as the last of the electricity petered off, causing Gyarados to recoil back.

Iron Tail was removed from its anchoring point, she'd have to be ready to call for it to be put back the moment Red declared another electric attack.

"Use Brick Break!" she heard Red call. At that, she grinned. She could counter that easily enough.

"Gyarados, Dragon Rage!"

...

Pikachu's fighting move collided with the green fire for a few moments, before it was overpowered and sent Pikachu crashing to the ground, slightly singed.

Pikachu shook it off, however, and stared down the monster once more.

The paths of victory….was now frankly giving him a headache. It was a little too trippy for him to focus on it. Instead, he'd have to try a more thoughtful approach to this.

Before, to block Thunderbolt, she had used Iron Tail. Would that happen again?

"Pikachu, Thunder Punch!"

"Pika!" Reaching across his body, Pikachu covered his right wrist with its left paw and thrust his right paw down towards the ground. This caused a yellow ball of electricity to form over said right limb. Extending his arm out, the punch sliced the field apart as Pikachu ran at the Gyarados at breakneck speed.

...

Hmmm, that was new.

Did that technique work as well to stop physical damage?

She had only seen it used on ranged ones, as they were by far the most common type of electric attack.

Thunder Punch could be potentially troublesome.

"Water Pulse!" Misty called as the giant blue orb formed in Gyarados's mouth, and was promptly lobbed right at the charging Pikachu like a blue star sent flying at a single warrior.

...

Screeching like a thousand birds, Pikachu slammed his fist right into the Water Pulse.

The attacks shattered, sending Pikachu flying back some more with water droplets scattering around the battlefield.

Clearly the only move that could get through was Quick Attack, but would that be able to stop Gyarados?

Victory odds: 8%

Whoever said, never tell me the odds, never had to be him. The odds never shut up with him.

"Pikachu, Quick Attack! Repeatedly!"

...

Dozens of white blur blurred by Gyarados, moving faster that the serpent could react. Striking again, and again, and again.

Misty was starting to find it rather annoying. She figured Gyarados did as well.

Best to vent this before someone had to replace their roof.

"Use Iron Tail and sweep Pikachu away!" Misty ordered.

With a loud roar, Gyarados's tail glowed white and swung a wide arc across the field.

"And it seems like the great beast has grown tired of being buzzed by Pikachu! Can Pikachu avoid being slapped away, because that tail is one hell of a flyswatter?!"

...

"Block it with Brick Break!" He'd have said Thunder Punch if the move was faster.

With a glowing fist Pikachu exited Quick Attack and hammered the glowing tail, with added power thanks to the momentum from Quick Attack, creating a burst of bright light.

However, Pikachu were not known as The Muscle Pokémon, the Pint-sized Victor Pokémon, or the Bruce Lee Pokémon. So, when hit by the tail of a gigantic sea serpent, Pikachu was sent flying to the ground, with a loud thump.

"Pi." Red figured that Pikachu had just said, ow.

...

"No, Pikachu!" Yellow called out from her seat. When the Pikachu with the Goomy sitting next to him poked his head out at her in confusion, she waved her cotton candy stick at him.

"Not you, Pikachu, that Pikachu." She blinked as she realized how that sounded. "You know, I'm starting to see why some people nickname."

"And that works for some people. Others think it's a bit presumptuous to give a living creature a name you thought up with. More than one person died because they named a prideful species something undignified, like Fred," Scott noted. "Anyway, I'm curious to see if Red can get around that girl's defenses. I can see how he could, but I have been doing this for a long time. Red likely doesn't have that same insight, at least not yet."

"Red can beat her." Yellow asserted with complete confidence, before taking a bite out of her large cotton candy chunk. She then noticed a bit of it was missing.

Pikachu promptly wiped his mouth clean on the side of a somewhat irritated looking Goomy, who flinched as he did so. Did Goomys not like cotton candy?

...

"Now, Water Pulse!" Got to keep up the pressure after all, Misty thought.

The giant blue orb formed in Gyarados's mouth, ready to fire and quite possibly win this.

After all, it was very big, and mice traditionally did not survive blue sun collisions unscathed.

...

The Water Pulse slowed down, freezing in place.

The crowd’s cheers were frozen in motion, silent as the night.

Even Pikachu was frozen in place, staring at the Water Pulse in defiance.

Only Red moved in this frozen world, his eyes glowing orange-brown.

It was rare that Red ever did this. Not in any previous battle had he needed to use this. Mostly he resorted to this to get out of tricky situations, particularly after he had been orphaned.

For Red was not an ordinary person. He had abilities that the average person did not.

And this was one of them: the ability to slow down time and see every possible move and the likelihood of him achieving victory from it, however it was he defined victory. Even without this activated, he could see 'victory odds' everywhere, from discussions to vending machine operation rates to the chances of him winning a game of cards.

Of course, this was a battle, not a card game. So, he'd focus on this battle first before even thinking of hitting Celadon.

"Pikachu, dodge with Quick Attack." He offered as he saw, too fast for him to really comprehend, all possible scenarios from such a move.

Victory Odds: 4%

Hmmm, not that then.

"Pikachu, use Brick Break"

Victory Odds: 2%

Red looked worried now. This power of his may allow him to see how things could go, to work out the probabilities of each move, but it was not infallible. It only worked with what he already knew, and what was at hand. This power did not let him figure out Gyarados's fourth move, nor could it comprehend anything he had not witnessed Misty do yet.

For example, if Misty was a normally overly offensive battler, but then suddenly began battling as if her Gyarados was a defensive Pokémon like Muk or Chansey, he wouldn't be able to take that into his Victory Sight.

Such weaknesses were problematic, especially when his odds were already low.

"Pikachu, use Thunder Punch."

Victory Odds: .25%

Not even one percent. Damn.

So, he needed to move faster. But that only left Thunderbolt...

That had already failed before though, would it work?

Well, he had the time to figure it out at least.

"Pikachu, Thunderbolt!"

Suddenly, everything stared to become much clearer, as if the path to victory had suddenly become much clearer.

Victory odd: 74%?

Low, he hadn't had odds like that since his Charmeleon fought Lt. Surge's Raichu after he had lost his Weepinbell and Meowth to it, after Charmeleon had taken notable damage defeating Magneton. But after what he had been getting this entire battle, they looked perfect.

But why? What changed that made this actually work, assuming Gyarados did not have some unexpected backup move.

Unless...

Did that Iron Tail have something to do with it? Had that let Gyarados somehow escape damage from Thunderbolt?

Red wasn't sure how, why, or when that bizarre strategy had been made, or how it worked. However, it was the only way he could win, with acceptable allowances to unknown variables.

At the very least, this Misty girl was pretty smart, and pretty good. She was probably the toughest fight he had since Brock, in fact she was probably a better fight. Hell, this entire tournament had been filled with good opponents: that Alex kid had a pretty unique Kadabra, and that Iris girl had countered him pretty well despite her type problems. Who knows how that fight would have gone had he not let Clefairy go nuts?

But respect to her or not, he was going to win.

...

"Use Thunderbolt!"

Misty was caught off guard as the electric move was sent flying, just as Water Pulse was ready to be fired.

There was no time to change to Iron Tail. The only thing she could do was...

"Gyarados, fire Water Pulse to defend!"

Gyarados, with a muffled voice, roared and sent the attack flying, where it hit Thunderbolt moments from launch.

More than close enough for electricity to be conducted from a few loose particles of water.

"RRAAAGGGHHH!" Gyarados yelled as it was hit by its mortal weakness, electricity crackled across his scales and caused his muscles to spasm.

"No, Gyarados!"

"RAGAGGHHHH!" To those listening it sounded like the pained cry of a monster, but to Misty she heard what Gyarados was truly saying.

'Misty...the idea works, this was just bad timing. Don't blame yourself for this, I'll be fine...Ouch.'

Then Gyarados fell to the ground, slightly crisped and defeated.

"And Red bypasses the defenses of Gyarados, and wins it all! Victory goes to Red and Pikachu!"

...

As the crowds cheered Red on for winning, his Pikachu collapsed in a tired heap. Red walked over to his friend, and picked up the tired mouse. The mouse did not complain, this one time. He then walked over to his defeated opponent, with said opponent placing a concerned hand over her Gyarados.

"Thank you. You did wonderfully," she told the beast, before sensing Red behind her.

She aggressively turned his direction, only to notice an outstretched hand.

She took it in hand and shook it, recognizing the unspoken intent.

And with this, he only had one more opponent left to face.

Ash Ketchum.

...

Her head hung in defeat, Misty returned to find Ash, who was hand feeding Butterfree a palm-full of honey flavored Pokémon food.

"You did great Misty," he told her immediately as she returned, probably not getting up to greet her because his hands would be covered in sticky food crumbs.

"Yeah, well I still lost..."

Butterfree finished eating, signaled to Ash either verbally or by flying away, Misty couldn't tell. Ash then gestured to Squirtle, who Misty had not noticed until now, to spray clean his hands of the honey.

She then noticed Snivy, who was out of her ball and pretending not to be interested in what was going on. She didn't see Iris though, but who knew with her?

Wiping his now wet hands on the side of his jeans, he turned to her with an honest smile.

"Misty...you can't win every fight. It's impossible, unless you do spend your time ambushing new trainers with a Tyranitar or something." He sounded pretty sincere about it, as if he had lost before.

Perhaps it was in something else, baseball perhaps?

"No trainer can win every match he fights. It would be arrogant of me to assume that I won't lose to a Gym Leader sometime down the line, or go up against a bad matchup in a tournament or something," Ash continued, again sounding like he was well familiar with this concept. "That's not to say I won't try to avoid it, or give it my best even when I'm trying to defeat a Rhydon with a Caterpie." Butterfree gave him a look for that one. "You just have to learn something from it."

"Learn something..." Misty said out loud, thinking. It had been a while since she had lost, not that she had battled much since she 'left' home, so she was somewhat rusty on how to learn from losing.

"Like, how my technique for stopping electric attacks has a hole in it?"

Ash nodded, and Misty realized her frustration had ebbed away, and what remained seemed different.

She still felt it, but it felt...more like a drive to fix herself. To take what she found hadn't worked, and make it work. To be better, and stronger, and faster than before.

It felt...a lot better than frustration.

...

The prize for getting to the final round was a not so insignificant check.

Winning would earn him an even more not so insignificant check.

The fact his Pokédex could upload the deposit to his bank account was...another thing on his list of things the Pokédex did that worried him.

"Your opponent's choices of Pokémon for this fight are: the Electric-type Pikachu, the Fairy-type Clefairy, and the Fire-type Charmeleon," said device reminded him. "Your possible choices are the Grass-type Snivy, the Water-type Squirtle, and the Bug and Flying-type Butterfree."

...

The opponent was Ash Ketchum.

Red did not know much about Ash beyond what he had glimpsed in this tournament. His choice of qualification to the Pokémon League was unusual, and was worth noting for future trips to other leagues. However, despite his defeat of the Cerulean Gym for such a purpose, he clearly did possess skills.

His battle style was...beyond comprehension.

...

"Logically, you should use Squirtle. Squirtle has one good matchup, one even matchup, and one disadvantaged fight. Snivy meanwhile has two even matchups and one disadvantaged, and Butterfree possesses only a single even matchup and two disadvantaged matchups".

...

He was most likely to use Squirtle, a species he had experience battling. While the Brine attack could be a problem, Red felt he could manage regardless of his Pokémon.

...

"Yeah, that would make the most sense, which is why it would make the least amount of sense. He's expecting it, and because of that he's likely to use his Pikachu."

"Your logic...is surprisingly logical. I feel greatly disturbed." The Pokédex sounded like he had just heard Psyduck disprove Einstein's theories. "So, you'll use Snivy then?"

Ash placed a thoughtful hand on his chin. "The thing is, Red saw my fight with Solidad. He knows about Attract and Leaf Storm. I mean, the fact that Leaf Storm was being powered up was probably my biggest advantage against Solidad, and I wouldn't have that this time."

...

The Snivy was probably the biggest mystery to Red. Snivy was not a Pokémon he had encountered previously, and its strange ability to power itself up with Leaf Storm was something that would be a serious obstacle to overcome.

He may know about it, but the only way to stop it would be for him to defeat Snivy very quickly. Charmeleon's Fire Fang may be powerful, but its limited range was a potential flaw. And then there was Attract...

If Ash used Snivy for some reason, Red was not sure what he could do to stop it.

...

"So, a Pokémon who’s expected, and one who's a one trick Ponyta." The Pokédex sounded contemplative. "Clearly, you are going to have to decide if you want to go the safer but expected route, or the one that no one will see coming and will either make you a maverick, or a madman."

"Um, what's a Maverick?" Ash wondered, having not heard that word before, before taking on a determined look, one of sureness of self and call. "Hmmm...You know what, I think I'll use Butterfree."

...

Squirtle or Snivy, those were the only two possible options. Butterfree couldn't possibly be used: it would be like taking your Charmeleon to fight under the sea.

It was completely mad.

...

"Are you completely mad!?"

Ash ignored his Pokédex as he held up his Pokéball.

"The Pokémon may be healed after each round, but exhaustion and physical injuries take far longer to heal. His Pikachu fought a much harder fight than Butterfree did, so he's out, and Clefairy got cuts on its palms, so I don't think we'll be seeing Clefairy. Charmeleon is the only logical choice."

"Yes, yes it is. Thus you should us your Water-Type, like a normal person would."

"I talk to Pokémon and have an artificial intelligence in my pocket, I'm not normal," Ash pointed out, to which the Pokédex had no immediate response. "Anyway, it makes perfect sense. Butterfree can use String Shot to stop Fire Fang and Rock Tomb, and then use Sleep Powder!"

"...I still think this is madness, but hey it's not my job to ensure you win. Just don't lose so I can get additional data on his Charmeleon and Pikachu for the database. This tournament has allowed me to obtain several good samplings, and I'd like that to continue."

"Sure sure, whatever works for you".

...

LAST ROUND

"And now, ladies and gentlemen, we have arrived at the final round! We've seen plenty of intense matches today, and this will be the most intense match of all! Ash or Red, who will win it all?"

"Gentlemen!" The announcer shouted to the determined grinner Ash and the seriously focused Red. "Choose your Pokémon, and begin!"

"Go!" Both trainers called as their chosen Pokémon were sent out.

"Meleon!" Red's choice of Pokémon roared with the ferocity of a blazing inferno.

"Free." Ash's choice spoke with the gentleness of an evening sunset.

...

Red...

Red just stared.

What?

Why?

How on...how did someone ever think of doing it?

It was completely mad! Even Pikachu looked gobsmacked at the call.

His victory odds were 100%. It was unreal.

"Use Rock Tomb," Red said blandly as the stones began to form around Charmeleon.

...

Odd, Red was looking at him like he was crazy.

But if he was thinking him crazy, it was all the easier for him to surprise him.

"Stop the rocks with String Shot!" Ash called as Butterfree spat string after string forth, even as the stones flew towards them.

Each string snagged a stone, and knocked them to the ground, binding them in silk and restraining them to the ground.

The attack was completely neutralized.

As Red looked shocked, Ash chuckled.

"I trained my Butterfree to take on Brock and his Rock Tomb attacks. I know exactly how to stop that move. Now, use Psybeam!"

...

The shock in Red's system from the negation of his attack was compounded when he saw his victory percentage.

?

Never before had that happened. He always got some sort of number, but the moment the fight with Ash actually started, the moment he could really start analyzing him, his power... Glitched. That was the only way to describe it, and trying to determine anything more was going to take far too long...

The direct hit from Psybeam did snap him out of it momentarily. Charmeleon took the attack well, but he'd rather not let it happen again as the fire type took a step back.

"Charmeleon, use Dragon Rage!"

...

"Psybeam!"

The two attacks collided with equal force as Red seemed to still be shock for being blocked the way he had been.

"Now, use Sleep Powder!" Ash decided to go for the obvious tactic as Butterfree began to release the spores.

...

Sleep Powder!

"Blow it away with Dragon Rage!" Red was starting to wish Charmeleon had a ranged fire attack, but this would have to do.

With billowing blue dragon flames, the powder was blown away, diluted, and utterly left sterile.

"Now, Silver Wind!"

Red's eyes went wide as Ash called for the attack to blow the remains of Dragon Rage right back into Charmeleon, who was pushed back by the flood of powder wind and old dragon fire.

...

"Hmm..." Scott wondered out loud as Yellow was standing up next to him, shouting for Red to win and kick Ash's butt.

"Pikapi!" Pikachu sounded like he was trying to out-cheer the girl. Goomy added a few cheers to the mix as well.

Ash and Red...

One trainer who was capable of thinking of unexpected yet effective means to victory, yet his Pokémon themselves were not the strongest nor the most durable.

The other who raised strong Pokémon and had effective plans, yet they lacked improvisation and focused on textbook tactics.

Both with so much potential, still ripening as he looked on.

Both of them...yes both of them could be possible challengers to the Battle Frontier one day. They would develop the skills and the strength to do so someday soon.

But not today, and probably not next week either. Maybe after a few Leagues though.

...

"Use Fire Fang!"

With flaming jaws, Charmeleon jumped on top of a restrained Rock Tomb and prepared to bite Butterfree.

"Use String Shot!" Ash called.

The resulting string burst sealed up Charmeleon's mouth, causing the flames to be snuffed out through lack of oxygen. Charmeleon still flew at Butterfree though, and unintentionally head-butted him in the chest.

Charmeleon barely managed to avoid flopping back on the ground though, while Butterfree was slightly hunched over.

"You okay Butterfree!?" Ash called.

"Free." Butterfree said with some regained muster. 'Yeah, I think so. Just...that hurt the exoskeleton a bit too much for my tastes.'

With a roar, Charmeleon broke through the restraints, showing they weren't done yet. However, the harsh cough that followed the roar suggested that Charmeleon did not handle eating its own Fire Fang all that well, support by the small puffs of smoke that drifted from his mouth.

"Silver Wind!"

...

Was he trying to power himself up with Silver Wind's potential effect?

"Duck." Red told Charmeleon, who complied and hit the ground, allowing the buggy wind to pass overhead without harm.

"Now, Shadow Claw!"

With a glowing purple claw, Charmeleon ran at the Bug-Type, before jumping right at him.

...

"Block with Silver Wind!" Ash called. Butterfree began to blow, but it didn't seem to stop the Fire-Type.

Ash then realized that probably would have gone better with Gust, just as the Shadow Claw impacted into Butterfree.

His first catch was sent plummeting to the ground.

...

Butterfree landed with a thump, just as Charmeleon landed far more gracefully.

This might be it, even if he couldn't see victory. Huh, was this was it was like to be a normal human?

Interesting...

"End this with Fire Fang!"

...

Butterfree was pushing himself back up as the Charmeleon began to charge right at him.

"Quickly, use Psybeam!" Ash ordered. With a nod, Butterfree did just that, and the attack hit home.

Right in Charmeleon's chest.

It looked like a critical hit.

...

Charmeleon was sent flying, before hitting the ground with a thump.

Just as Butterfree had managed to start pushing himself back up, so did Charmeleon. Both however, were trembling from the effort.

"And would you look at that! Both Pokémon have taken some major hits! Who's going to remain standing!?"

...

The slow push to stand continued, all the while the two opponents were staring each other down.

"You can do it Butterfree!" Ash encouraged, though he was gritting his teeth. He even felt a flash of, something, in his eyes.

Ash could, if he wished, use the power of his to give Butterfree a boost of strength. That would very likely ensure Butterfree survived this standoff. But...

If Ash did that, somehow he felt victory would be hollow. Just as he disliked how he lost to Ritchie because of Team Rocket's interference, he disliked how he won against Wattson all those...whatever it was ago. Had he beaten Cameron in Unova, he'd have disliked that win for him having an unfair advantage.

He believed in his Pokémon, and if he used his power to help them win all their fights, what message did that send?

He sensed Butterfree agreed with him, and he suspected that many of his Pokémon shared this view. They knew that Ash believed in their power, and didn't want any unfair advantages helping them.

They'd win with their strength, or fall by their lack of it.

...

"Charmeleon..." Red whispered. This fight, one that should have been an easy win, was now as precarious as a single muscle tendon.

Whosoever's muscle failed first, lost.

...

Some battles are decided by will power.

Others by who was battling the longest.

A few even by experience.

This battle was won by a simple factor not unlike any of those above.

Between the Butterfly, and the Lizard...who had the most upper body strength?

...

Charmeleon stood up, on shaky legs.

Butterfree seemed to be trying to push itself up, but it lacked the muscle mass to do so.

Now in the wild this was where the Charmeleon ate the Butterfree, or at least did a good Mortal Kombat style fatality.

However this was not the wild, and eating your opponents Pokémon was illegal.

There were rules, and time limit for a Pokemon to get back up before a call was made.

"Butterfree, use String Shot to pull yourself up!" Ash called for a potential ace in the hole. Butterfree struggled to raise his head up, tried to gurgle up some string...but only spat out a weak and limp string, like a dying engine.

Butterfree wasn't himself dying of course, but the message was clear.

"Butterfree is unable to battle! The winner is Red and his Charmeleon!"

"You've heard it here folks! After a long and intense fight with surprises everywhere, Red has managed to triumph over Ash Ketchum with barely an inch to spare!" To emphasize this point, Charmeleon fell right back down as the announcer said this, though Charmeleon was not out cold.

"Thank you, all fighters!" Tucker spoke up dramatically as Red and Ash walked up to both of their Pokémon. Red put a thankful hand on Charmeleon's shoulder and activated the Pokéball, while Butterfree was picked up in Ash's arms.

"You were impressive." Red spoke, catching Ash off guard. He seemed to be taking the loss well. "You were...much better than I thought you were after you choose Butterfree. You've raised it well."

"Thanks." Ash responded, internally bothered by the loss but not letting it show. "So...you aiming for the League as well?"

Red nodded.

"Guess I'll see you then."

Between two trainers who knew each other little, not much else more could be said.


 

"You're taking this rather well." Misty observed as the trio left Lavender Town as the sun began to set, west to Celadon.

Iris eyed him curiously about his lack of visible depression, to which Ash frowned.

"You can't cry every time you lose, especially a match that isn't important. I can take what I learned from that loss and use it to help Butterfree and my other Pokémon get stronger."

Of course, given how Butterfree did lose, fixing it wasn't as simple as teaching Buizel Ice Punch to counter Mr. Mime. It was a limitation that a Pokémon could never overcome: just as a surfing Rhydon could not avoid being weak to water attacks, Butterfree could not become as muscularly tough as a Machamp or something.

He worked with his Pokémon's strengths, he did not force them to remove all weakness like Paul, or push them beyond their limits. That would accomplish nothing.


 

In the Lavender Town Pokémon Center, Yellow had finished cheering his victory and had collapsed into a snoring heap, likely from a sugar high crash. His Pokémon had been healed, and they'd depart tomorrow morning.

Red, however, couldn't sleep. His mind was still on his battles...particularly with the last one with Ash.

The trainer who had made his chances of victory, become unintelligible. A first...and that was before Red had gazed upon him again with his power active.

He saw Ash...

And in him, Red saw what he could only describe as a never ending spring of power, like water bursting from the earth in an endless spring.

One that Ash clearly had tapped before...was he like him?

And if he was...why didn't he use it during their fight?

If he could naturally do it, it would be cheating, if one suggested using a Fire-type against a Bug-type was cheating. Or a Ghost against a Fighting-type.

As Red saw it, Ash could have won that fight...he himself had only won because Ash did not use it.

So was that fight a fight that he, Red, had won, or a fight Ash had merely lost?


 

Later in Kalos, aired later due to time difference in the aftermath of the defeat, a girl lay in her bed, saddened by her friend's defeat.

"Oh Ash..." she whispered to herself.

Closing her eyes to fall asleep, no one noticed her hair darken to black briefly, as if to mourning colors.

Chapter Text

Celadon City

"What do you mean I can't challenge your Gym? What are you, afraid of losing?! Is that a thing with Kanto Gym Leaders?!"

Paul's furious questioning did not phase the woman before him. Appearing to be roughly in her twenties, she had dark bluish hair, and was dressed in a green and white blouse and jeans.

Her name was Erika, Celadon Gym Leader. And she had managed to give rise to Paul's anger very, very quickly.

"I don't accept challenges from men," she stated simply. "I find it's a disruptive influence for men to be around my dear trainees and friends. Plus, I find they tend to… misbehave when they're around." For reasons unknown Erika's eyes darted to a spot near an open window to the greenhouse-like building, that looked oddly well used and well camouflaged at the same time. "They also tend to be somewhat distracted, when they visit my Gym. I'd rather not earn my victory records because foolish teenager's eyes wander away from their battles."

Paul gritted his teeth in frustration at that remark, particularly the last condescending part. "Do you realize how many people you screw over because of that dumbass rule?!"

"If you really want to challenge me, there'll be a hearing about it with the official Pokémon League commission in a month. You can state your case then," she offered in a way that was vaguely helpful, in a sort of twisted, bureaucratic, 'I hope you get lost in the red tape but I won't actually say it', sort of way.

A month?! He could earn a badge, possibly two, in that time. Did she really think anyone would sit around and wait for her to get off her prissy little high…..

"Or, you could just wait for the Gym to come under….new management." A third voice spoke up, a cool and icy voice with an accent that was familiar to Paul.

A Sinnoh Accent, variant Snowpoint.

Visiting trainer and Gym Leader alike turned to see an older woman, probably a few years older than Erika, standing before them. She was rather tall for a woman, with long silvery-blue hair and icy blue eyes. She was dressed in a blue, sleek looking spandex ski shirt, with an oddly short skirt with long, pale-blue boots.

The spandex did not hide the fact that this woman had vast…well Paul liked to think he made good time by looking away from them within thirteen seconds.

It took Erika about thirty seconds to stop looking at them.

'So, the rumors were true,' Paul thought, having the dignity to not stoop to mocking someone that way.

After all, Wallace wasn't exactly a pushover.

"Oh, I see those threats I got weren't just idle saber-rattling, they really did call for a Dojo-Breaker," Erika observed, sounding more serious than Paul had heard her before. "So, whose disciple were you? I'm taking from the voice you studied under Candice, and lost?"

"That fool of a girl doesn't have the common sense to run a Gym," the woman stated darkly. "She got a critical hit, that's all. Now, allow me to introduce myself, my name is Morana, and I've come to challenge you for your Gym!"

Erika's face was now more professional looking than her previous casual dismissal of him. "Gym Leader rules require me to accept any challenge from someone seeking my position. Let me tell you this though, you will lose just as you did to Candice."

"We'll just see about that." Morana smirked before pushing past both Erika and himself as she sauntered on inside the Gym like she already won control of it. As she herself turned to follow, Erika gave him a wicked smirk.

"Well boy, come on in. You seemed fond of comparing me to the Cerulean Sisters earlier, right? Well, pity such beauty those three had came at a loss of a likeable personality, but I would hate for you to retain the same impression on me."

"And why should I?" Paul demanded as her smirk got wider.

"Why, don't you want to see me eat my words, be humiliated, and if you're there you could challenge Ms. Personality there as soon as she wins?"

Hmm, good point. So she was at least capable of intelligent thought.

One point for her over the Cerulean Gym Leaders then.

….

"Just to let you know, I expect you to use your best team against me…." Morana began to rattle on as Paul took a seat in the stands, arms crossed.

In this flower, tree, and grass filled little garden Paul spotted dozens of young women, and at least one duo of them looking old enough for either to be his mother, may she rest in peace, all watching the confrontation with interest. At least several of them were sitting with each other in a way that was all lovey-dovey and….

Well, if Paul found that sort of thing disgusting, he'd be angrier about seeing it than at Erika's blatant and pathetic blanket ban on boys.

"….We'll be battling a three on three battle with no substitutions. The first trainer with two wins to her name takes the battle, and the Gym, as their victory…..ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME!?"

Morana raised her voice to a higher decibel, as Paul himself noticed that Erika had actually fallen asleep standing up while Morana had been talking.

So, that rumor about her having Narcolepsy was also true.

"Oh, yes…." She was startled awake by Morana's shouting "Yes, yes, I just need to beat you twice and you'll go away."

She stated that so bluntly that Morana glared at her.

"We'll see about that. Now, come forth!"

"Come on out!" Morana and Erika both threw their Pokéballs in tandem, releasing two Pokémon.

Morana, the white and black Ice-Faced Glalie.

And Erika the walking palm tree Exeggutor.

"Glalie, like, the Face Pokémon!" his Pokédex emoted, much to his annoyance. Ever since Vermillion the damn thing had been talking like some brain-dead cheerleader. Somehow he knew Ash Ketchum was responsible for it. "It, like, totally freezes its prey and then, like, eats it slowly. O.M.G, it's totally horrible!"

If he didn't need the thing, he'd have had Grotle smash it to bits. Or possibly even eat it, if Paul didn't think that would be lethal to his most powerful and dependable Pokémon.

"Glalie, use Sheer Cold!" Morana ordered as a frosty, horrible cold began to emerge from Glalie.

"Exeggutor, use Hypnosis," Erika calmly countered.

"Tor!" Exeggutor's many front facing heads opened their eyes wide at once, releasing a psychic wave right into the ice creating Glalie.

Once the wave it, Glalie promptly fell like a rock.

"Glalie! Wake up! Glalie!"

"Now, Dream Eater." Erika once more stated her command calmly, as a red energy flew up from the Grass-type's leaves, surrounding the sleeping Ice-type and draining its energy away.

This lasted for a good few minutes before Glalie snapped out of its sleep, breaking the attack.

It didn't look that good after the barrage though.

"…..Glalie, use Ice Beam!" Morana ordered furiously as white energy began to conduct between Glalie's horns.

"Use Leaf Storm," Erika countered calmly as Exeggutor lowered its head, and promptly sent a leaf hurricane right into Glalie.

Just like Ash Ketchum's Snivy, a comparison that made Paul even more annoyed than he already was.

It hit before Ice Beam had finished, and sent Glalie flying over Morana's head, crashing behind her defeated.

"What!?" Morana sounded like she couldn't believe what had just happened as Erika merely walked over to her Grass-type and rubbed it kindly, thanking it for a good battle.

So, Erika could actually back up her boasts it would seem.

Well damn, there went his Celadon Gym badge. Now he'd have to go backtrack to get to the next Gym.

Morana returned her Glalie with a furious glare etched on her face. "How, that was….you cheated…DON'T YOU IGNORE ME!"

Erika, having returned her Pokémon, had fallen asleep again before Morana could begin her accusation. The timing made Paul raise an eyebrow, wondering if she was faking this one just to anger the Ice-Type trainer.

Or perhaps she really just tended to fall asleep at random times and Morana was just really unlucky.

"Abomasnow, come forth!"

Erika woke up at the sound of the released Ice-type, and the resulting snowy wind that hit her in the face like a snowball.

She nonchalantly wiped the snow off her face, eyeing the Pokémon with interest. "Well, you raised this Pokémon well. Good Snow Warning."

"Abomasnow, like, the Frost Tree Pokémon. It makes it snow, which is SNOW cool! O.M.G, ya know that people who have Abomasnows have to, like, tell the school districts nearby that they do, 'cause reasons!"

Why didn't Pokédexes have mute buttons?

"Well then, go Victreebel!" Erika offered her own fighter as the Flycatcher Pokémon appeared on top the snow.

"Use Blizzard!" Morana ordered as Abomasnow blew a strong blizzard from its mouth.

"Sunny Day," Erika stated simply as a glowing orange light formed inside Victreebel, who promptly shot it at the Blizzard.

The attack promptly melted away, even as the sunlight inside the greenhouse intensified. The field promptly became soggy as the snow from Snow Warning melted away.

"You know, you have raised your Pokémon well physically, but you could do with a bit more compassion." Erika stated matter-of-factly.

"Compassion this, Abomasnow use Sheer…."

"Weather Ball," Erika managed to say quickly, before Morana could finish. A fiery light once more formed inside Victreebel, which it promptly spat out and sent right into Abomasnow with a fiery flavor.

With that one hit, super effective twice over, Abomasnow fell over into the soggy ground. Defeated.

"Well now," Erika stated casually, as if she had not just curb-stomped someone or was giving a warning to someone else in the stands. "That was fun. Now, please leave."

As Morana continued to look at Erika in shock, unable to process what had just happened, Paul got up and left.

He got the message.


 

Ash and Company, on the way from Lavender Town to Celadon City sometime prior

"What am I?"

It had been a question she had asked many years ago, when she was but a small child.

Her body much smaller than in the present day and with her head looking sadly on the rocky ground at her feet, she asked this question to an aged and wizened looking Dragonite, whose body seemed littered with old scars and the other ravages of time.

This Dragonite was what she believed humans would refer to as her Grandfather, an older male figure who had fathered her adopted father and gave the wisdom his many years had accumulated to those who needed it, and those who liked to think they didn't.

"You're Iris," he had told her with a wise smile, but her younger self had just shaken her head violently.

"That's not what I meant…" her younger self had said, "I'm not like you, I'm not like anyone here, or in the forests, streams, or hills."

"Everyone in the world is unique. Every Rattata, every Pidove, every Human, we are all special in some way," he had stated in the same calm tone he had stated her name.

"Why can't everyone be the same though? We could all fly, just like you, or mom, or dad…..but I can't fly. All I do when I try is hurt myself." Her gaze had drifted to a badly scrapped knee, the result of an attempt to fly a few days prior to this talk.

"Sure, I can fly, but you can do things I can't. For example, I once tasted the most delicious human variant of peanuts in the aftermath of what humans called the Battle of Nimbasa, in the wreckage of the city. They had been afflicted with fire and many of the unique flavors humans had cultivated for centuries, yet I can so rarely taste them. I cannot order them, nor can I just go into a human settlement and get some without being attacked. But you can. You can get all the peanuts you want," he had told her with an amused tone of voice, though with a tone that suggested he would indeed like some of those peanuts. "You're a special girl Iris, though born a human you possess the powers of all the Dragons inside of you. Humans have a word for what you are: they'd call you a Bloodliner. Of course, we Pokémon do have names for humans like you as well, though the names have fallen into disuse over my couple hundred years of life: the Lucario called them Aura Guardians who walked the line between Humans and Pokémon as enforcers of order, the Golurk called them Founders for it was they who had created the first Golett and Golurk in the ancient past, and the Mamoswine tell legends of beings known as the Beings of Cruel Heat who chased them with the brutality of the sun."

"Why me though? Why wasn't I just born a Dratini?" Iris asked honestly as the old dragon smiled at her.

"Perhaps because destiny decreed that you'd need hands at the start of life?"

He laughed at his joke, though Iris's younger self did not join in laughing.

"Why are any of us born the way we are, it's a good a question as any," he had noted with less humor. "Perhaps destiny decrees who shall be born as whom, or perhaps it is just random chance."

The cave was quiet for a few minutes after that, before she spoke up again.

"My birth parents…." Iris began. "….If I had been a normal human, would they have kept me? I love the mom and dad I have now, don't get me long I love you all. But…."

The aged dragon smiled at her sadly.

"Many Pokémon believe humans to be violent, unruly, and destructive. It's gotten better in the last few decades, but many Pokémon still hold this viewpoint. For good reason of course: I myself have seen the aftermath of two human wars: both fought over ideals and what they believe to be truths. One side captured Pokémon inside their spheres, taking them from their homes, the other seeking their aide with machines designed to bond the hearts of human and Pokémon. In turn however, one side enabled their Pokémon to grow and experience things they'd have never otherwise, and became stronger through continuous teamwork. The ones who call themselves Trainers claim that Pokémon and Humans together as partners are stronger than when the two are separate or only temporarily aligned, and I can attest to the strength of that truth. Yet the side that sees such strengthening as not work the cost is just as strong in their ideals."

"Humans fear and war against what they do not understand, it drives them to commit deed they would normally never consider. Humans are a race capable of equal amounts cruelty and kindness, though some of their kind lean more to one side than the other. Thankfully mostly the latter, though the former are the ones that most often get remembered."

"I have heard tales, rumor, and warnings the last few years Iris, tales about children like you. It was once incredibly rare for those like you to be born: without being sired or birthed by one the odds were more against the birth of several Pokémon of alternate coloration than one such as you. However, these births have become much more common recently, for reasons no one knows. Or perhaps someone just knows, but I'm not the one who knows it?"

"Humans are known to fear what they don't understand, and such a population boom is something they understand just as much as I do, that is not at all. But I like to think that even if there are parents who'd throw their children aside for who they are, there are just as many others who would not."

"Some species are not naturally good parents Iris. There are species who lay their eggs and never see them again: the Hydreigon, the Seaking, the Salamence among many others. However, humans are, by and large, a good parenting species. Those who can overcome the shock of unexpected surprises in their children, are what I could easily members of a human subspecies. The truly great parents."

"Could your human sire and dame have been good parents? I don't know, and why speculate. One day you could possibly track them down, but I do not believe anything good will come from such a hunt. One should never hunt prey you don't know the appearance of, nor how will they behave. Just remember, that no one born is ever meant to be left alone. They will always have someone there for them, be it family, friends, or even someone who'll love them. You may be too young to really understand what I mean when I say love, but if there is anything you should take heed of is that, especially now, there will be someone out there for you. You just have to find them. Now, enough talk." Her Grandfather stood up, his joints aching and his wings taking longer than normal to flap open and stretch. "We've talked for far too long at this point. You still wish to fly correct? Well, it's not just the Dragonite of Fiore who can easily carry people, and you are very small."

Her memory ended as her Grandfather picked her up, the younger her looking somewhat sated of her worries and happy about being shown the sky/distracted.

It was one of her last memories with him, and one that was coming to mind more and more recently.

Having just woken up, Iris was now stretching, the white shirt that Misty had given her to sleep in (sleep-only clothing?) raising up her stomach as she did so, the rest of her body covered only by a pair of pink shorts and a pair of white socks.

Noting Axew was still fast asleep in the corner of the Secret Power made nest, Iris exited the 'secret base' as it was called, to see a trio of suspicious looking fellows hovering in front of Ash's sleeping place with what looked like a giant butterfly net and a stick.

The trio, the blue haired man from the tournament, a red haired woman with hair that was oddly serpentine and long, and a Meowth, turned to stare at her, looking just as confused at her as she was at them.

"…Oh….hello…."

Iris just growled at them, an unspoken demand of what they were doing here.

"Oh, we're just stalking Ash…..oh are you new? Iris right….my name is James, this is Jessie….and Meowth. We stalk the boy for a living."

"Stalk?" Iris stated in confusion.

"Stalk," James confirmed.

"Like, a predator?" Iris began to sound more aggressive as she asked this question.

"Um, I guess you could say that….though I'd call myself a member of the paparazzi personally." The female, Jessie, shrugged as green energy manifested into full shape on Iris's hands, like claws.

"…..Um, I think you two just made her think we're going to eat the kid." Meowth realized and spoke the fear held by all three of them as the trio was promptly chased off by an aggressive teenage girl with glowing dragon claws.


 

Later in the morning

"Okay, so I was thinking…." Surrounded by his Pidgeotto, Snivy, Aipom, Goomy, Squirtle, and Pikachu, Ash decided to address something. "After that last tournament, we seem to have run into a bit of a…potential concern I guess."

"Pika-Pi Pika." 'And by that, Ash means defensive power.' Pikachu finished for him. 'And I suppose, offensive as well.'

"I guess what I'm trying to get at is…..would you guys be willing to evolve, or not?" Ash approached the question as gently as possible without sounding like he was telling them to. "I mean, I know well enough that Charmeleon wants to evolve, and Bulbasaur doesn't. And if you do…..is there anything I can do to help you get there? If not, we can find a way to work around it."

"Evolution is a process that is part experience, and part inspiration. A Pokémon will evolve only when it reaches certain levels of strengths, and when it has the will to do so," the Pokédex added. "Of course, you could just throw a specific type of stone at certain Pokémon to expedite the process."

Like encouraging Chimchar to help him beat Paul at Lake Acuity, Chikorita wanting to save him from Team Rocket, and Snorunt managing to make Ice Beam come to fruition.

Pikachu sparked his cheeks threateningly at that remark about stones.

"I'm just…..worried about you guys," Ash added. "It took only a single hit for both Squirtle and Snivy to be pushed to the edge, I doubt that's healthy for you if that becomes a trend…"

"Pikapi." 'Ash, they get it. No need to act like you just sounded like Paul. You're fine.'

"Sni." 'I have no idea who, or what, a Paul is, but honestly I'm perfectly okay either way.' Snivy gave as her answer. 'Really, the only reason I didn't evolve the first time is because I just didn't get a….I guess spark I suppose is the answer. Same with Oshawott. I felt….something when I was fighting that Riolu though, if that Lucario evolution had been half a minute later then maybe I'd have evolved then and there.'

"Squirt." 'Call it my patriotism, but I like being a Squirtle. I mean, if it's do or die in a full on fight with a Moltres then sure, I'll swallow my pride and change my colors.'

"Pom." 'I'm all for evolving, I just need to get Double Hit working again.' Aipom was the first definite after two maybes and a definite no from Pikachu that didn't need vocalization.

"Caw." 'Same as the monkey.'

"Goo-my."

Ash frowned, still not able to tell what Goomy was saying.

"Pika." 'He's saying he wants to evolve.'

Ash nodded at Pikachu's translation, wondering exactly what Goomy evolved into. For some reason he imagined a sort of Muk like thing, with laser canons, five eyes, a giant hairy arm, and spider legs with Goomy's coloration all over itself.

….Perhaps this was why he wasn't the creator of all things. Such a being, upon further reflection, sounded like it would never know peace, happiness, and joy.

And probably not figure skating either.

But, enough on that: it was training time.


 

A few days later, Oak's lab

Wiping the sweat from his brow, a dirt coated Professor Oak grinned at the now completed project before him.

"Well, that was a lot of work, but I'm finally done with it."

Standing out of the ground were nearly a hundred young trees, dotted with the earliest buds of berries.

The berries Ash had sent to him had originally been in fact, berries, but they grew rapidly. Give them soil, sunlight, and water, and they grew crazily fast.

They also were spread very effectively by Pokémon, a result of their tasty fruit being loaded with seeds that were easily passed through digestion.

In fact, they were so good at spreading that the fruit and timber Industry hated them with a passion. They could very easily outcompete apples, bananas, oaks, hickories, and other harvested plant life, and apparently produced sup-par wood.

Thankfully, they did have natural controls in place outside of timber forests and orchards: Pokémon were able to control berry tree numbers just as well as they spread them. All it took was a single Pinsir infestation, a clumsy Rhydon, or a Fire-Type and berry trees were history.

Shocking how long it took people to rediscover that fire controlled out of control berry tree growth better than pesticides and going crazy with chainsaws.

Of course, he had no plans on giving these trees poison, flames, or chainsaws. With these, he should manage to reduce his feeding bills: he could get his own berries right from his backyard and supplement the Pokémon feed with them.

Honestly, why hadn't he done that years ago? Was he just so money restricted that he couldn't even afford to save money with an investment that did not involve him stealing pest trees from someone's property?

Could you be arrested for that?

"Chirp."

Professor Oak was snapped out of his mental wondering about the theft of trees from people who did not want them by a Pidgey.

It was a wild Pidgey, it didn't look owned based on its more cautious eyes as it looked into him.

The Pidgey was then joined by two more. Then three more.

Then a pair of Pidgeotto, also wild.

And more, and more, and more, all coming in and landing before him.

And then Ash's Pidgeotto, who seemed to be leading them since the roughly two hours ago Ash had swapped her back over as he seemed determined to train with all his Pokémon, even Krabby went over to him for a time, landed on top the highest branch. She looked oddly happy with herself for some reason.

The Professor eyed them all seriously for a few, terse moments before he spoke.

"Whatever it is you're doing, don't break anything or go eating all the food and we'll be fine. I don't expect rent beyond letting me make research notes and poetry off you."

They seemed to find that acceptable, seeing as they didn't swarm him.


 

Back to Ash

With a good oomph, Ash took a semi-glowing purple Aipom arm to the arm.

Aipom retracted her tail, eyeing it with some annoyance. "Pom…." 'How hard is it to redo something you had already learned once?'

Rubbing his arm, which while not bruised was certainly affected by the attack, Ash merely gestured over to the semi-burned tree husk that Charmeleon was making breathing motions at. "Tell that to Charmeleon and Flamethrower."

"Meleon!" 'Work dammit! What sort of self-respecting Fire-type doesn't know Flamethrower?!'

For some reason, Ash imagined a giant red and white bird Pokémon that vaguely resembled Fletchling glaring at Charmeleon for that remark.

"Still, good progress Aipom! You're nearly there with Double Hit!" In fact, a lot of his Pokémon had been making very good progress with training, all of them feeling stronger, faster, and overall better than ever. Krabby had learned how to use Bubblebeam, Mud Shot, and Metal Claw, Bulbasaur had demonstrated Leech Seed use once more, and Goomy….

"Goo!" Goomy shouted, the little blob trying to get the power kept within himself to come forth, only to peter out without any Dragon Burps or injured Piplup.

Well, he could tell progress had been made, but that progress hadn't led to any spontaneous meteor attacks just yet.

Unsure of what else to try at this moment, Ash withdrew and then extended the ever vexing staff of Sir Aaron/prison for Lucario. Then, in an imitation of a knighting ceremony he had seen on T.V in the past, Ash tapped what he guessed was Goomy's shoulder.

It had no effect.

He then dramatically posed with it, magnifying light through the central crystal and aiming it at Goomy.

It had no effect.

Finally he also took out the stone he had obtained during the tournament and held out both before Goomy.

It had no effect.

Clearly, he couldn't knock out two Pidgey with one Geodude.

So, withdrawing the staff back and pocketing it and the stone once more, Ash was still out of luck guessing the best way to deal with said staff.

Or how to help Goomy unleash his hidden power, the power Ash knew resided deep within Goomy.

The power that would help unleash further potential than just Rain Dance and Bide.

"You seem to be stuck."

Ash turned, finding Iris and Excadrill had arrived in the clearing Ash and his Pokémon were currently residing in. At the sight of Excadrill, Charmeleon growled and initiated a Metal Claw conflict that would break several trees.

The two ignored them however, as Iris continued.

"Pokémon get stronger and evolve through a combination of power and will. However, different Pokémon lean more towards either power or will. Dragons are naturally powerful, but they require great amounts of will to evolve or to learn new techniques. They need to have a very strong reason, a great desire, to push themselves. They need a lot more push to learn, but in turn once they get that push it takes them a lot less practice to do so."

"You don't say." Ash took the advice of the Dragon expert in for a moment.

Iris herself was observing Goomy with a thoughtful expression, before turning to Ash with a smirk.

"You know, I may be able to help you two out. I think I know a move that will work for Goomy rather well. One I can help Goomy learn."

"Really?" Ash stated in surprise.


 

Three hours later

As Iris had helped Goomy out, Ash had gotten some practice in of his own in with his other Pokémon.

That was always of benefit, and the fact his fist was now glowing Power-Up-Punch style was always appreciated.

Goomy however….

Goomy and Iris were both surrounded by white rings of energy, both facing a pair of trees.

"Now!" And with that shout, Iris and Goomy both released Dragon Breath.

The white hazy fire slammed into the trees, shattering them in the process.

This time with no Beedrill Pikachu had to zap away.

Iris turned around to smile Goomy's way, looking rather proud. "You did it. That is what a perfect Dragon Breath looks like!"

"Yeah, that was awesome Goomy! Good job! I knew you had it in you!" Ash congratulated as Goomy's eyes went wide and sparkled with happiness.

"Goo!" The Pokémon cheered, before glowing white and growing larger.

"No way…" Ash said in complete surprise as Goomy grew a distinct neck and lower body, two additional long stalks, and being overall much larger.

The light then died away, revealing his newly evolved…..

Er, what was it called?

"Sli!" The former Goomy exclaimed proudly.

"Sliggoo, the Soft Tissue Pokémon and the evolved form of Goomy. Sliggoo perceives the world with several advanced organs that are just as good as eyes but not eyes at all. Why eyesight is swapped for a completely different form of perception in this stage and this stage alone is a scientific mystery. Sliggoo benefit immensely from rain."

Oh, a Sliggoo. Excellent name, rather meaningful and catchy and….

Wait, blind?

This of course not just Ash's thoughts on the subject, though they were very similar.

The confusion over Sliggoo's name and senses were shared by the redhead named Misty who had been watching the entire three-hour training session from behind an undamaged tree.

All the while, wondering why watching it made her feel so….it wasn't anger, but it was some sort of negative emotion.

One Misty wasn't sure how to classify.


 

Two days later

Its blue body hid underneath its sleek and smooth feathering the muscles of a great swimmer.

The gem that adorned its head channeled a distant psychic power that descendants of it could one day unlock for itself.

Golduck, oddly enough not the Golden Duck Pokémon, had crossed her path.

And Misty intended to capture it.

The forested pond they had stopped by on their travels was their battlefield, a battle framed by green leaves, brown bark, and blue water.

And the Psyduck currently trying to pretend he was a stump and not to fight his evolved form.

Shaking her head in exasperation for that duck, Misty called forth a different bird of the water to handle this.

"Wingull, use Wing Attack!" Throwing the ball out, the Water-Flying type quickly flew right at the evolved Pokémon with white wings.

The duck countered with a pair of glowing claws, knocking the attacking bird off course and crashing to the ground.

KO'd.

"Wingull!" Misty shouted in shock at Wingull being overwhelmed so quickly.

"Duck." 'This is why I'm doing my best stump imitation, I'd suggest….'

"You suggest nothing Psyduck!" Misty snapped as she chose a replacement Pokémon after returning her Wingull, even as Golduck charged.

With that came Poliwrath, who was right in place to be struck in the chest by a glowing headbutt attack.

Zen Headbutt. Super Effective against a fighting-type like Poliwrath.

A swirling, energy enhanced attack that reminded Misty of a Dragon-type attack she had witnessed recently. One that did not improve her mood, at all.

Jumping over the fallen Poliwrath, Golduck charged at her, claws extended.

"Gol!" the duck shouted in fury, angry about a human crossing its path and entering its territory. Angry about humans who stole Golduck's prey with their fishing poles and damaged its grass with their shoes and blades. Angry that a horrible human with cold, disdainful eyes who attacked him with a giant Grass-type turtle and dismissed him as nothing but an average and pathetic Golduck not even worth the capture and release thereafter.

There was a lot of anger in that single Gol.

"Stop!" Misty shouted at Golduck, using all of her power to give the command.

The furious Water-Type, with visible resistance, did so, gazing at her with confused fury and fear, even as it began to lose focus in its eyes.

Psyduck promptly stopped his stump cos-play with a concerned head tilt. "Duck." 'That's still creepy when you do that. In fact, I'd say it gets even creepier each time.'

Misty frowned, more than just the Golduck bothering her. "I don't particularly like having to do that either Psyduck. Capturing Goldeen that way was a test. This….well frankly it's cheating and I highly doubt that if I capture this Golduck it'll ever listen to me."

"Psy…." 'I sense a but coming up.'

"If I leave it alone, it's probably going to hurt someone, probably us, and you're not exactly going to evolve anytime soon." Misty promptly took out a Pokéball and pressed it against the controlled Golduck's head.

The Golduck was promptly sucked into the ball, still compelled and unable to escape.

Though the duck's last gaze, the one where it looked at her, and saw a monster, as defined by a monster, still lingered even as the ball teleported away to Professor Oak's laboratory.

As Misty dwelled on this fact, Psyduck ceased his stump imitation and stood in front of her.

"Psy." 'That, was pathetic.'

Psyduck's bluntness caused Misty to level a stern gaze at the bird, who continued.

"Duck." 'That wasn't you battling with your head in the game. Heck, that wasn't even you half in it. Something's been bothering you.'

She turned her gaze away from the duck, with a slight blush of shame on her face. "Nothing is bothering me Psyduck, you are seeing things."

"Psy." 'Yes, I am seeing you being bothered by something. Now, spill it…or do I need to get Iris?'

"No, you don't need to get her…." Misty raised her voice harshly as she replied, only to suddenly stop and stare at the duck in surprise and some shame.

The duck was not helping matters by grinning in glory for having gotten her into this position.

Ducks should never grin. It just looked wrong.

Misty sighed, before lowering her head to gaze at her feet. "Fine, you’re right Psyduck, something is bothering me. Iris, is bothering me…and I don't know why." Misty started to fiddle with her hair to distract herself and to try to calm her hammering pulse.

"I mean, sure, she did try to rip me apart the first time we met, but that's not it. I don't fear her…..I don't think she's going to kill us, or hurt us, but…."

"Duck." 'You fear she's going to take Ash.'

She blushed at that statement, still not looking Psyduck directly in the eye as she tried to laugh him off. "I…I do not…I mean just because she's a girl, who’s interesting in battling like he is, is what people would call athletically attractive, and only just recently realized one wears clothes in warm weather and could probably be convinced to be some teenage fantasy nudist girlfriend with so little cunning that even you could manage it, does not mean I am jealous…"

There was in fact jealousy in her voice, but also worry. A lot of worry, and it vastly outnumbered the jealous parts of her tone.

"Psy-y-y." 'Yes, because you didn't get any reasons for humans to be jealous in that single response. Honestly, someone in Hollywood could make a two-season long sit-com arc just with those concepts alone.'

Misty blushed further, keeping her head down and focusing her attention on her shoelaces trying to count the threads.

"Psy-Duck-Psy." 'I'll be completely honest here Misty, with what I seeing here; you are jealous that a new girl is starting to bond with Ash. At the same time, you are also worried, which is what is really eating at you. You think that Iris is going to take Ash away. You think that she'll get just as close to him as you are, and then snatch him away….' Misty now was beyond blushing, to the point of being completely pale. Her eyes widened and her mouth hung slightly open as Psyduck's words hit home, each realization branding itself into her brain. No matter how much she wanted to deny the duck's observations she couldn't because he was right.

Psyduck was reading her like a book, and he knew exactly what she was worried about. How a girl whom, despite how they had met, Misty had actually started to somewhat like as a person and travelling companion, might take one of the few people to ever treat her with kindness away from her, just like her sisters had taken so many toys from her as a child. It was a sobering thought to say the least, it was a weakness that Misty had always refused to acknowledge. She was afraid of losing the things she cared about, it's part of the reason why she never wanted to go back to Cerulean City in case her sisters tried to take her Pokémon. They were the most important things in her life, without them she'd be nothing and have nothing to love.

And unlike them, Iris probably would do it without even realizing what she was doing it. Which, somehow, felt even worse than when it was done intentionally out of malice. Misty let these thoughts settle before her mind snapped back to what Psyduck was saying.

'…depriving you of a friend, partner, and mate.'

That last one caused Misty to regain her facial coloration, and change expressions from depressed and embarrassed to annoyed and embarrassed. She finally looked at Psyduck glaring at him for the assumption, even if the thought had very briefly passed through her mind in fleeting moments. Just like it had when he mentioned it a second ago.

Psyduck just shrugged his shoulders in response, as if that response had been entirely intended. Perhaps Psyduck decided she was being too depressed and decided to throw that in just to get her back to normal.

Or perhaps he was just being Psyduck and just had to say something stupid. Either way it gave her a lot to think about and some big decisions to make at some point in the future.


 

A few more days later, time now linked with the first chapter segment

The scrublands before Celadon City, were a place that Ash remembered with some level of fondness.

It was a place he had been beaten up, humiliated, made to feel inferior to Gary, and connected with his friends about his dedication to Pokémon League merchandise.

What did all of these things have in common you may ask?

It was all connected to a Pokémon known as Primeape. His first Fighting-type, a ruthless and powerful Pokémon with whom he travelled with briefly, before an offer to train under a Fighting-type expert came about.

He had gotten some pretty good updates about Primeape over the…..however long it had been since then, and Ash would love to be training with Primeape again.

It would be so….

BOOM!

The trio came to an abrupt stop as a light brown object was hit with something powerful, probably an attack of some kind, and sent flying into the sky.

"Primeape in the air, detected. Unknown landing trajectory, exact landing coordinates and survival percentage incalculable with present data. Team Rocket may be consulted to amend data deficiencies.”

*Twinkle*

Ash just stood in shock, his mind barely able to process what had just happened.

"Pikapi…." 'Ash, that was Primeape,' Pikachu stated, similarly shocked.

"Not bad Pikachu, not bad. That Primeape did show promise, but if it was blown away that easily it wasn't that good to begin with. Return."

A familiar voice, a very familiar one, was the one talking. Following the sound of a Pokéball returning a Pokémon, Paul walked out of the tall grass that bordered the road, and caught Ash's eye.

"Oh, it's you," the trainer greeted with his usual level of disdain, completely ignoring Misty and Iris, "So, how's it been lately? Cheat you way to the Pokémon League by beating a couple of bimbos recently? No wait, you already did that."

Paul. The trainer who had challenged his ideals with strength unlike any he had faced.

The trainer who had brutalized Chimchar, and abandoned who knows how many other Pokémon.

The trainer who had blown his Primeape away.

The trainer, who may have killed his Primeape. Ash's vision was flashing red as his memories of Primeape flew through his mind, even though they didn't get on well to begin with when they separated an unbreakable bond had formed between them and now with what Paul had just done that bond might not happen again. Ash's vision was now fixed a blood red, as was Pikachu's with electricity flaring from his cheeks and a vicious fire burning in his eyes.

Even if Paul could not have known that Primeape's history, that did not sedate Ash's rage. Ash's look of shock turned into a snarl of anger, Paul's usually unmovable sneer of disdain briefly flickered as his eyebrow twitched in surprise at the change in Ash's demeanor.

"If I did cheat my way to the Pokémon League Paul, then why would I still be battling Gym Leaders, and beating them better than you, a trainer who doesn't cheat?" Ash countered, surprising Misty and Iris with the amount of anger in his voice. His fists were clenched tightly and visibly shaking from barely contained anger, Ash could feel his fingernails digging into his palms through his fingerless gloves. The small amount of pain seemed to only fuel his anger even further.

"I saw you at that tournament. I must say, your Pokémon were so weak I'm honestly surprised you even got far enough to lose in the final round. Really, I have to wonder with Pokémon like that, how you even beat those idiots to get that fast-pass badge of yours. Then again, I'm told it's not hard to earn your badges on a couch if you are sufficiently motivated."

To those were not suffering from some sort of emotional mental states, it would be easy to tell the last statement was Paul trying to pick a fight with Ash for some reason, over some sort of grievance. It was obvious to Misty, and even Iris could tell that was Paul's intent even without any context for who Paul was and only somewhat understanding what Paul was talking about with Ash's League pass, or about what a couch had to do with it.

To Ash and Pikachu, who were currently furious at Paul even before he spoke…..

"I'll show you how I won my badges! I challenge you to a battle!" Ash pointed at Paul for dramatic effect, with Pikachu mimicking his motions.

Paul smirked in response.

"How's three on three sound? Best two out of three?"

….

"This, can't end well," Misty stated for the record as Ash and Paul stood several yards apart, the path through the plains their improvised battlefield.

Low traffic meant that this would not be a problem in all likelihoods though.

"I admit to not having run into many adolescent teenage males, but is this normal behavior? It almost feels like they are showing off before…." Iris began.

"I….highly doubt that's the case" Misty cut her off, paling at the idea of a scenario when Paul won and him and her….. Misty's hand flew up to cover her mouth as she threw up a little at the thought, taking a steady breath to calm her stomach she swallowed before taking her hand away from her mouth and took a quick drink of water to wash the taste away.

In the two times she had met the guy, she had seen absolutely nothing about him that she found appealing. His face was hard as stone, he never smiled or gave a feeling of caring for anything, and his eyes seemed constantly scowling.

He certainly didn't have kind eyes complimented by a big smile that radiated a caring and kind nature…..

"That is good to hear. I really would prefer not having to deal with that expectation at the moment," Iris stated, interrupting Misty's thoughts on a certain someone, and thus her growing blush.

It also made her register the sound of the two trainers releasing Pokémon.

…..

"Grotle, Razor Leaf!" Paul commanded as his turtle roared in response, before sending a barrage right at Charmeleon.

"Use Flame Charge, and attack!" Ash countered with more ferocity than normal. Charmeleon gave a savage grin hearing the anger in Ash's voice, he wasn't sure what brought on the change in his trainer but he had to admit he liked the sound of it.

"Char!" 'Oh, now we're talking!' An emotional state that Charmeleon could really get behind. With a few hard stomps to the ground Charmeleon was glowing with fiery power, and charging right into the leaves.

The leaves burned on contact with Charmeleon's flames, and the Fire-type landed a hard hit right on Grotle.

Grotle was pushed back a few feet, but was still standing with no evident weakness.

"Rock Smash!"

"Dragon Tail!" Ash countered as Grotle's glowing front limb met Charmeleon's enhanced tail with concussive force. Ash felt like his blood was trying to burn its way out of his skin and make him spontaneously combust from the rage that pounded through his system. Primeape would be avenged even if he had to fight Paul himself, the thought of knocking a couple of Paul's teeth out sounding extremely appealing.

However, Charmeleon had four more limbs he could use from this angle, Grotle couldn't use another one if it didn't want to fall all over itself.

Charmeleon didn't need some fancy power to tell what Ash was thinking right about now, and he liked the idea.

"Now, Metal Claw!" Ash shouted forth as Charmeleon's claws glowed white and expanded. The savage grin still firmly in place on his face enjoying this new version of Ash along with his full force battle style.

The attack hit right at home, striking Grotle along the upper shell.

Grotle was now starting to look tired out as Paul seemed oddly calm about his current state of affairs.

Normally having a Pokémon lose a battle before his eyes made him angry, yet for some reason nothing was happening with him.

"Use Razor Leaf!" With another roar, though without any visible Overgrow boost to it, the leaves were sent flying right into Charmeleon.

The leaves hit their mark, and Charmeleon held the damage pretty well if his cocky grin was anything to go by.

"Let's finish this Charmeleon! Use Fire Pledge!" Ash shouted. Charmeleon flicked a stray leaf from his shoulder before acting.

"Char!" 'Taste my power! Taste my victory, and your defeat, from my indomitable, awesome, power!" Charmeleon shouted as he slammed his claws into the earth.

Paul, in response, merely snapped his fingers as several white objects began flying out of Grotle's shell.

The flames circled around Grotle just as the stones flew away, before exploding all around Grotle with powerful force.

As the flames died down, a defeated Grotle lay, slightly singed but still quite alright.

"Excellent Charmeleon!" Ash congratulated, feeling very good about managing to take down that most powerful Pokémon of Paul's. Charmeleon raised his arms to the sky, billowing fire from his mouth in celebration.

Paul returned Grotle, without a word. Not even a pathetic. Ash did not register that fact.

….

"Way to go Ash!" Iris cheered, glad to see Ash winning as he returned Charmeleon. Misty, however, was frowning.

That fight….didn't seem right. It felt like Paul had thrown that fight.

She knew what losing was like; she had seen her family fight. That wasn't a loss.

That was entirely planned.

….

"I choose you Pikachu/Nidoking standby for battle!"

Pikachu darted onto the field even as the large purple Nidoran evolution stood before him, menacingly glaring at him.

"Pika Pikachu." 'Hmm, a Ground-type huh? Can't recall if I've seen if I can still electrocute you guys with some effort. Now, let's aim for the horn….'

White stone suddenly shot out of nowhere and began pelting Pikachu like hail from all sides.

"Pika!"

"What!?" Ash demanded in fury as Paul smirked wickedly as he snapped his fingers.

"Oh, did you not hear me give Grotle the call to use Stealth Rock during that last attack of yours? Pity, I was sure I was clear on the subject."

Stealth Rock!? Ash glared and grit his teeth, wanting nothing more than to charge across their battlefield and attack Paul directly.

Of all the nasty little…well maybe beating Nidoking with an Electric-Type would show him!

"Pikachu, use Quick Attack!"

As the white speedy tackle sped towards Nidoking, Paul didn't seem worried.

"Use Bulldoze." Paul stated simply as Nidoking slammed the ground hard with both fists.

A wave of earth was sent right into the path of the speeding Pikachu, interrupting the attack and causing Pikachu to hit the earth closer to Ash with a sore back.

"Pi…" Pikachu stood back up, rubbing his back as his cheeks sparked. 'This is going to hurt tomorrow. Eat Thunderbolt!'

"Double Kick!" Paul shouted as Nidoking charged at Pikachu, both feet glowing white.

"Block it with Iron Tail!" Ash countered, causing Pikachu to grit his teeth over not being able to fry the overgrown Nidorino.

With a spin, both kicks were knocked back by Iron Tail, causing Nidoking to stumble back with flailing arms trying to reright itself.

"Now, Quick Attack!"

Just as Nidoking was nearly on stable footing again, Pikachu slammed into Nidoking's chest, knocking it back down again.

"Now, end this with Iron Tail!" Ash shouted as Pikachu jumped into the air with a glowing white tail once more.

"Pika!" 'Fine, so what if I probably couldn't fry it in this timeline, it still would have made me feel better…..'

"Venoshock!" Paul countered as Nidoking horked from the back of its throat, before spitting out a green liquid. The liquid hit Pikachu in the chest, knocking the electric mouse away and allowing Nidoking to stand back up.

"Pikachu!" Ash shouted in concern as Paul smirked.

"That's a pretty strong Pikachu Ketchum. It did better than I thought it would, and I suppose I didn't hallucinate that fight with that idiot's Raichu. It's probably better than mine, though I wouldn't say that is such a fantasy to imagine on my part. However, a Pikachu is still just a Pikachu. Use Bulldoze!"

Now back on two legs, Nidoking slammed the ground, sending another wave of earth right at Pikachu.

"Get out of there Pikachu!" Ash shouted as Pikachu got back up and ready to dodge, only for the earth wave to hit just as it was ready to jump.

"Pika!"

"Pikachu!" Ash shouted in concern, before getting Pikachu thrown right into his stomach, sending both of them crashing to the ground.

"Well, I guess I win that round." Paul smirked. "Not bad Nidoking, not bad."

….

Pikachu was actually rather warm to the touch, Misty found. She also found it rather touching that he'd trust her with his first Pokémon like that.

However, she did have something to say.

"Ash, I don't know what's going on here. I know Paul's a jerk, and what he said was very insulting, but I know that's not it. Something else is bothering you, and it's messing with your battling. Maybe it's him blasting that Primeape away, like the Pokédex said."

"I'd have commented, but the Stealth Rock caught me off guard. Want to know about Nidoking?"

They ignored the pocketed device as Misty continued.

"Paul's an ass. He's a jerk to everyone and everything around him. But if you let your anger get a hold of you, you are going to lose to him. Then he'll be an even bigger ass. So get your head in the game Ash: this isn't how you normally battle."

The scolding was not harsh, it was not in disappointment. It was merely an observation of someone who she had grown to trust greatly, who she admired and wanted to help in any way she could.

And that meant making sure he didn't lose to the biggest jerk in Kanto.

Ash took a deep breath, one mirrored by Pikachu, after a few seconds of taking her words into account. He nodded, before reaching to his hat.

He promptly turned it backwards.

"Thank you Misty." He told her with a determined smile, the bubbling anger diminishing.

As he turned away and returned to the battlefield, both Misty and Ash failed to notice Iris looking at them both inquisitively.

…..

"Done talking with your girlfriend Ketchum, or she some idiot groupie of yours? You collecting cheerleaders or something, last I checked one you only had one in Vermillion? And why did you turn your hat like that, it makes you look like some kind of kid?"

Somehow that wasn't making Ash nearly as angry as Paul's earlier comments. They still bothered him, but they otherwise were harmless.

"They're my friends Paul. I know you might not understand that, but some people actually like being with others. As to my hat, well sometimes connecting to your inner kid helps you win."

"How cute." They reached for their chosen Pokémon.

"Aipom….."

"Drowzee….."

"I choose….."

"Standby for….."

"You!"

"Battle!"

In massive bursts of light, the monkey met the tapir for fierce battle, with surprise evident on Aipom's face.

"Ai!?" 'Wait, is that Paul of all people?'

She then got a bunch of stones flung at her, distracting her from further questioning. Aipom managed to dodge a couple of the stones with a hand boosted jump but still took some damage.

"Drowzee, the Hypnosis Pokémon. Drowzee eat the dreams of children, for they are delicious. Children who have their dreams consumed by Drowzee do 13% less on their writing tests than children whose dreams are not eaten, but they perform math 6% better. There is some controversy over parents using Drowzee on their children prior to specific standardized tests."

"Aipom, it's like, a…." A teenage girl's voice began from Paul's pocket, causing Paul's face to turn into an even fiercer snarl than normal.

"Use Psybeam!" Paul ordered as Drowzee's eyes glowed.

"Use Power-Up-Punch!" Ash called for the counter. With a loud screech Aipom extended her tail forward, the business end glowing orange.

The fist hit Drowzee in the stomach, causing Drowzee to lose concentration as it forcibly exhaled, costing it the Psybeam command.

"Poison Gas!" Paul ordered as Drowzee opened wide, exhaling a giant purple cloud, sending it right down the way at Aipom.

"Block it with Counter-Shield!" Hitting the ground, Aipom stood on a single hand as she spun around, her tail radiating dozens of glowing stars.

The barrier they formed collided with the Poison Gas, dispersing it.

"Disable!" Paul shouted as Drowzee's eyes glowed white momentarily. Aipom stopped her spinning with an alarmed look on her face, with further tail movement making a sound akin to that of an empty can being kicked.

"Ai!" 'Oh crud!'

"This isn't good," Ash agreed with his Aipom as Paul pointed at them dramatically.

"Use Thunder Wave!" Electricity began to form around Drowzee's arms, before Drowzee pointed a finger right at Aipom. With a burst of electric light, the attack was sent right at the still stunned Aipom.

"Get out of there Aipom!" Ash shouted in concern. Aipom heard him, and with a shout flipped off her single hand and back onto her tail, using it to springboard up into the air and right above the Thunder Wave.

No one noticed the fact that the tail was glowing purple in full.

"Now, Psybeam!" Paul ordered as the psychic attack was sent right at Aipom.

"Block it!" Ash ordered as Aipom swung her tail at the oncoming attack, her eyes widening at the purple glow covering it.

The attacks connected, as an explosion filled the sky.

"Aipom!" Ash shouted in surprise as Paul frowned silently.

From the smoke a figure dropped, though without the clumsiness of an impact victim.

The figure was glowing, the form hard to distinguish until it landed between Ash and the Drowzee, and the glowing ceased.

"Ambi!" The now two tailed Monkey declared 'Now, this is better wouldn't you say!"

"Drow!?"

"What!?" Paul declared in shock, beyond shocked that this happened, again!

First Charmeleon during the Gym battle, and now this!

"Way to go Ambipom!" Ash congratulated.

"Pika!" The statement caused Ash and Ambipom to blush horribly, though one in mortification and the other in anticipation.

"Amazing!" Iris stated.

"That's the Ash I know." Misty declared with a smile, sounding glad he was back to normal.

"Aipom has evolved. Updating database. Data collection so far has been satisfactory today."

"So what, that doesn't change a thing! I'm still going to win; Drowzee use Thunder Wave!" Paul ordered as once more Drowzee directed the power of lightning right at Ash's monkey.

But with a wave of her tails, Swift flew once more. Without command, she blocked the attack, reacting only to anticipation to the words about to fly off Ash's tongue.

And as he saw the stars block the electric move, Ash realized something.

In the previous timeline, Paul was just as experienced as he was. They had both travelled the world to get to Sinnoh, and were thus veterans.

This Paul, though, this Paul had only just begun to train.

He was no veteran yet, while Ash had seen the world.

While their Pokémon may have trained an equal amount of time physically, he and his Pokémon were mentally veteran fighters. A wicked grin crossed Ash's lips, he had an advantage that Paul would never be able to prepare for and never see coming.

Anger or no anger, this battle would soon be over.

"Ambipom, use Double Hit!" With two glowing tails, Ambipom lunged right at Drowzee, her tails flying through the stars like missiles.

"Quickly, use Disable!" Paul ordered, but the moment Drowzee's eyes began to glow the fists impacted.

Now, Drowzee's eyes were no longer white from the Disable.

They were white from defeat, as it collapsed on the ground.

"We did it!" Ash shouted happily, as Ambipom bounded over to him and gave him a four limbed hug, shouting in joy of her own.

Misty and Iris stood up, Pikachu in Misty's arms as they began to offer their own congratulations.

Paul, scowling, returned Drowzee. He made a few motions, as if unsure of what to do with Drowzee at the moment, before turning around and walking away.

Likely intending to figure out Drowzee's status after a good sulk far away from Ash.


 

Omake

Non-Canon

Can I be in the story?

On the front gates of Crossoverpairinglover Studios hung a sign.

It was a notable sign, standing out to all passersby, yet not as grandiose as the Hollywood sign, with a single message written upon it.

Reset Bloodlines Casting Calls Still Ongoing

The sign was currently being read by a young boy, dressed in an orange T-shirt, cargo pants, and adorned by a red headband. Alongside him stood a Riolu, and both looked thrilled.

"Riolu!"

"Cameron!" The Riolu spoke English for the sake of the audience in response to his trainer's enthusiasm.

"They still have open spots for roles! This, is, Great! I can't wait to get made a major Unovan Rival, I might even be able to take Trip's job!"

"Yeah!"

"I mean, I'm talented, filled with personality, and I'm not an odd Gary-Paul partial rehash with a dash of questionable competence! I could totally carry an arc!"

"…..Yeah, sorry dude, but if anyone's taking Trip's job is going to be me," the thicker proportioned trainer running around the edge of the studio told him frankly, his Sawk keeping pace with him perfectly before he continued his run around the studio.

"….Not if I get to the registry first Steve!" Cameron shouted as he and his Riolu dashed inside the studios, causing both trainer and Sawk to collapse in annoyance.

"The name is Stephan, and I already got cast!"

….

"….." Cameron pouted.

"….." Riolu looked really, really bored.

"Calling number 26. Calling casting number 26." A monotone announcer shouted from the next room over in the studios.

At that call, a pink, balloon like Pokémon with large eyes and a marker microphone floated out of its seat and ran into the interview room, shouting “Jiggly” cheerfully.

Noting the many, many others sitting in the waiting room with them, including a man dressed like a Gligar who was hanging from the ceiling for some reason like a brooding bat, a dark haired youth with a Charizard spouting some sort of Holder with a stone in it whom were currently playing what appeared to be Poker, a red haired girl dressed in green who was playing on a 3DS side by side with a Chespin in what appeared to be some sort of multiplayer game, a Pikachu with a Sherlock Holmes-esque hat on his head was drinking from a seemingly bottomless coffee cup, a blue-haired Pokémon Ranger currently reading a red book with a golden sickle on it written by some guys whose name looked similar to Stantler, a blond girl who was kicking her roller-bladed feet up into the air in boredom while her own Lucario read the Castelia City Times like a normal person, and some odd guy dressed like a Cacturne who was trying to solve a Rubix cube, Cameron turned to his Riolu in despair .

"What number are we again?"

Riolu held up the number 750 like he was a character on Sesame Street.

"…Think maybe if we're lucky the Author will bring in a T.A.R.D.I.S for us to use to speed things up?"

"NEG-A-TIVE! SUCH MIS-USE OF SPA-CE-AND-TIME IS TRU-LY FOO-LISH!" A metallic life form with the number 751 sprayed on its side shouted in the seat next to Cameron who promptly scooted away from it, who somehow didn't get the attention of the others in the room quite possibly because there were far louder and more hammy things in this room. "THIS PRO-JECT IS IN NE-ED OF DA-LEK PER-FEC-TION!"

As the Dalek shrieked loudly to the now startled boy, the announcer called for casting number 27.

Watching a brown hair boy get up and head into the interview room, followed by a Pikachu of his own Cameron would have asked where Jigglypuff had gotten off to…..

"Oh yes, number 27. How…tedious of them. Tell me boy, have you ever been bored?" A short, blond, and somewhat chubby looking man in a white lab coat, his eyes hidden behind reflective glasses, spoke to boy and Riolu in a thick German accent. "Ever so bored that you want to make hell itself tremble with a war so grand that you'll never be bored again?"

Trapped between Dalek and creepy German guy, Cameron and Riolu were now starting to question why they hadn't gotten here sooner.

Or if they'd live to see their interview.

Chapter Text

Celadon City

She remembered his face like they had met only yesterday.

Two years ago she had hatched from an egg three months prior, her parents a victim of one of Hoenn's Tropical Storms. He was fourteen years old, a single year too young by human standards to travel the lands, yet alone himself.

She had questioned why this was the case several times, but she got only sadness as a response. Eventually she stopped asking not wanting to see the sorrow in his eyes and the fake smile he would occasionally give her.

That day, she had been hiding within the hollows of a tree. The sounds of unfamiliar steps had terrified her, so she had hidden herself from sight.

Then the steps had stopped, and she had let out a relieved breath.

Then her stomach had loudly growled, and the steps had started up again. And this time, they were coming her way.

She had backed herself as far away from sight within her hiding spot as possible, hoping in vain that she would not be seen.

The steps had stopped again, right in front of the tree.

"You can come out. I'm not going to hurt you" Those were the first words he ever said to her.

They were words of such truth and honesty that she couldn't help but poke her head out. Her empathic abilities wouldn't set in properly until she had fully evolved into a Gardevoir but they were strong enough now to feel the sincerity in his words.

Her red horn popping out moments before her green hair followed it. Looking up, her eyes made contact with that of a smiling face.

His eyes were red, a deeper color than that of her horn, with a pair of marks under his eyes that reminded her a bit of Zigzagoon fur edges. His hair was dark, similar in color to that of a Poochyena's muzzle or feet.

"Oh, you're a Ralts," he noted kindly with a lopsided grin. "I guess I should introduce myself, it's only fair. Hello Ralts, my name is John Archer, and I want to be your friend." He held out a hand, offering it out for her to take, she hesitated for a few moments before slowly reaching out her hand to meet his. As their hands touched his eyes flashed with an orange-brown light.


 

"Good morning. Welcome to the Pokémon Center," Nurse Joy greeted as the trio entered the Pokémon Center of Celadon City, here at long last, in a sing-song tone. "We restore your Pokémon to full health. Would you like to have your Pokémon checked?"

"Why do they all say that, in the same way?" Iris blurted out. At Ash and Misty's 'why did you just ask that out-loud' looks at her in response, Nurse Joy just tilted her head all friendly-like.

"It's because we're taught to say that phrase just like that from the moment we start talking. We practice two hours a day, every day for our entire lives until age sixty-five," she explained in the same tone, causing nervous frowns to sprout on all three teenagers.

"….That's not creepy at all," Misty muttered to herself sarcastically.

An awkward lull of action existed for a few moments before Nurse Joy started talking again.

"So, are any of you here to challenge Erika?" Her tone didn't change from her earlier greeting here either.

At Ash's nod, she shook her head. "Well, I'm sorry to inform you that Erika will not be accepting your challenge."

At that, Ash and Pikachu comically collapsed, before righting themselves back up and looking at Nurse Joy in surprise.

"Why isn't she accepting challenges?! Is one of her Pokémon sick? Did her Gym run out of power? Does she need revival herbs?"

Nurse Joy eyed Ash in confusion for his seemingly random assortment of possibilities, but once again spoke in her tone.

"I said she wouldn't accept your challenge, not that she isn't accepting challenges. Erika doesn't accept challenges from boys at the moment."

"Pikapi?” 'Do you want to argue about the 'boy' part, or get right to the point?'

"What? Why not?!" Ash skipped over the part about being called a boy for the more important question at hand.

"Ever since she took over the Celadon Gym after the former leader was removed for using his Bug-Type Pokémon for breaking into people's homes for theft about five years ago," Misty shivered as the mention of Bug-types, and even Ash had to give pause to the imagery of Team Rocket bursting into his mother's home on the back of several Scolipede laughing before breaking into their motto, "Erika has had a lot of trouble with male challengers. She's well known as a major player in the Kanto LGBT movement: she was the one who got the marriage bill passed last year and is a major benefactor to several other political movements. However, that notoriety came with some nasty side-effects. If you ignore the sort of backwater arses who'd enjoy living in Johto far more than Kanto, a lot of male trainers tend to think more of what she and her trainees do at home than in the Gym when they battle. As such, she ended up winning a lot of her fights with her opponents not fully focused on the fight. She didn't like getting her win percentage that way."

"Why would they be interested in what Erika did at home?" Ash asked, Misty took a moment to stare at Ash as if he'd grown a second head while Nurse Joy just ignored his question and continued.

"However, things really came to a head following an old voyeur (A what?) convincing his grandson to challenge Erika as a distraction, which allowed him to discreetly set himself up a hiding place so he could spy on a wedding between two of Erika's female employees from her inherited position as the head of the largest department store chains in the world; the head of the Kalos branch and the head of product development if I recall correctly."

Apparently Erika found time in her schedule to run a Gym, play politics, and run a major corporation that earned millions of dollars a day. A bit more impressive than the simple perfume store he recalled her running in the old timeline. Ash thought.

Nurse Joy still had yet to change her tone since they had first met, and it was now really starting to get kind of creepy. He recalled that some Nurse Joy had just….off….senses of humor, perhaps this one came from that branch of the family.

"They spotted the creep after he exclaimed loudly after the two woman kissed…let's just say the entire wedding was ruined after that. Not that I mean the marriage collapsed or anything, it's just the police had to be called, several therapists and lawyers ended up with steady employment in the aftermath and they had to wash the area the old man had been hiding in heavily. The man's in jail now, but in convincing his grandson to help him out the two of them screwed things up for everyone else."

"While Erika had a lot of personal good will worked up prior to the incident, and the fact the old man had been immediately Stun Spored the moment he had made himself known, that she herself did not suffer any damages outside of some lost goodwill she has more than likely recovered since, the League wasn't so lucky. As a faceless organization that set up the rules that allowed the two to enter the Gym in the first place, they soon encountered several lawsuits. Erika intervened of course before it could erupt into something as bad as say, cutting off Gyms or reducing venues for the next League competition or anything serious, but a compromise had to be reached. The options were to either let Erika limit entry into her Gym in a way that would soothe out their concerns, or limiting Gym access. As bad as the current situation is, I'm sure you can agree that the latter would be much worse."

Let's see: Ash would not have gotten advice from his friends early on, Brock would need a babysitter every time he got a Gym battle challenge, they'd have to call the police on the Trio every time Ash had a Gym battle because they stalked him inside the premise…yeah that would be pretty bad.

"So, the Gym here is not going to let Ash in?" Iris stated the obvious with a frown, before an idea seemed to twinkle into her eyes. One that made Ash feel somewhat nervous. "You know, we could probably just dress him up like a female. Most humans can pose as the other gender with the right clothing and changes to behavior….."

Ash blushed, remembering a few too many experiences he had with cross dressing, and how 'Ashley' did not work when he was probably a ten year old, so it would not work when he was a fifteen year old who had to shave regularly.

Misty just facepalmed at Iris's idea. Iris just tilted her head, unsure of what she could have possibly said that was wrong.

"That won't work." The Nurse still sounded as chipper as when they had started. "Erika has very good eyes for crossdressers. You weren't the first trainer to think of that, and you likely won't be the last. Of course that does beg the question of how she'd handle a trans-individual challenging her Gym…"

So Erika could tell crossdressers apart. Well that was just great, another Gym Leader with Brock-O'-Vision.

Now the mental image of Erika going full out Brock in front of Cynthia, Elesa, Lucy, and Jasmine wouldn't leave his mind. It was then that Ash found the answer to his earlier question.


A later day found her and John not long after a victorious battle with a Gym Leader named Roxanne deep within a series of caves and mountains to the north, where the stones were unusually colored and the water a rare shade of blue.

They were taking a drink from this very water, which felt oddly cold and delicious.

"You know Ralts, these mountains are said to be famous for meteors." John had told her. She looked up from the water in confusion as he gestured upwards into the sky. "Meteors are large rocks that fall from space. Don't ask me where they come from…..are they bits of planets or were they just leftovers in the creation of the universe by Arceus, or chemicals, or whatever made it? I think there are people who dedicate their lives to figuring that out, but that isn't my calling."

His face took on a thoughtful look as he noted the mountains "I can't remember what the mountain range these falls are a part of. Dracoslayer…..Dracomalfoy…..Dracomorph….."

"Draconid," a voice not much older than John's explained, with a harsh edge to her tone.

"Oh yeah, Draconid…." John spoke in glad realization, before he looked around for the voice's origin.

He looked left, then right, before hearing a nearby stone tumble down from above. John looked up, an action she mirrored, to see a human girl standing atop the rocks.

She had dark hair, cut short and with a hair clip on one side that looked the scale of a dragon. She wore dark cloths marked with a pair of red, upward facing crescents on her shirt and the side of her shorts. Her shoes were a pair of open-toed sandals of a gray color, and she had a gray coat tied to her shoulders.

The coat seemed to move a bit, not from the wind but as if something was moving underneath it.

She didn't look much older than John, but even that wasn't easy to tell.

"The Draconid Mountains are named for the Draconid people. The people who live in these mountains for generations, the guardians of the Flygon Desert and the stewards of the Altarian Plains. What are you doing here, Sootopolitan Trainer?" she questioned harshly, as if the site of the two of them was nauseating to her.

She moved closer to John, sensing hostility from this girl and seeking to protect John. She slowly called on her power to not draw the girl’s attention but still being ready to fight if she needed too. He merely responded with a confused tilt of the head.

"Sooto….Suudo…..The city with the white rocks? I've never been there, I'm from Rustboro City. If I'm not from there, does that mean we can be friends?" He gave the girl a friendly smile in hopes that it would help…it didn't.

Her eyes flashed with a seething hatred at the mention of Rustboro, though the hatred with mixed with a great deal of other emotions: Pain, shame, helplessness, fear, and sadness. Ralts took a step closer to John and placed a hand on his leg, just in case she needed to act at a moment's notice.

The girl face palmed. "Great, just great, you're an idiot too."

"Hey!" he shouted indignantly.

"Since you clearly know nothing about your own culture, allow me to educate you," she said, and held up a one finger. "One, all Hoenn cities are descended from the Sootopolitans. Two, that makes them and their descendants enemies of the Draconids. Three, you're a moron you dimwit!"

"But I'm not your enemy…..what did I ever do to you?!" John's eyes frantically shot to and from her, as more movement seemed to be occurring beneath her coat.

"Calm down Aster…." the girl whispered quietly into her coat so much so that she wasn't sure that John heard her, before returning her harsh glare at the both of them.

"You carry a Ralts, a Fairy-type whose kind were used to massacre my people! You carry the blood of Sootopolis, the ones who stole from us the Desert, the Fields, and the Mountain of Fire! You came from Rustboro….." She tensed her hands at the mention of Rustboro, before a massive blue dragon with red wings like the marks on her clothing appeared from the sky in a ferocious howl, accompanied by two others. "Die, trespasser!"

.

Thankfully, she knew Teleport and the two managed to avoid getting eaten by some angry dragons.

After capturing a Swablu they eventually made it to Fallarbor Town, where she accompanied John as he asked someone about what that whole thing had been about.

"Um, is that an intact meteorite?"

John patted the space rock affectionately. "Yep, found it in a crater in the middle of nowhere during my journey. Surprised no one else grabbed it before me."

Dr. Shepard was fixated on the rock. "How much do you want for it?"

John, taken aback, hummed thoughtfully for a few seconds. "Hmm, how about something to eat and thirteen Pokéblocks?"

Ralts blinked staring up at John. She couldn't have heard him properly, he wanted so little for something Dr Shepard clearly desired. Even she knew that if something fell from the sky and didn't break apart when it landed it had to be worth more than something to eat and some Pokéblocks.

"I'm willing to offer you three hundred thou-what?"

"Well, I'm kind of hungry, need some Pokéblock, and it's just a fancy rock, so it's a fair trade. Right?"

Dr. Shepard blinked. "Fair...trade...yes. Yes, that is a very fair trade. Um, I have a large pastrami sandwich in the back and I think I have some Pokéblocks around here somewhere. Would that do?"

John smiled. "Sounds great! Oh, do you have any information about the Draconids?"

"I happen to have an old history book about the Draconids around here somewhere. I just bought the latest edition so you free to have the old one." Dr. Shepard said as he was leaving the room to find get the sandwich and Pokéblocks.

"That'd be great, thanks." Ralts pulled on his shirt to get his attention. "Not now, I'm doing business." He gently stroked her head while they waited for Dr. Shepard to come back.

In hindsight, he would realize that the deal had in fact been somewhat….unfair. He promptly slapped himself and she was quite confused initially.

According to the detailed book the scientist had given us as he went off with his meteor, the Draconids used to control the entire Northwest of Hoenn, with Fallarbor and Lavaridge being very recent settlements set up since they lost control of much of their lands. There had always been border disputes between Hoenn and the Draconids: Hoenn wanted control of the entire region while the Draconids felt threatened by growing cities like Rustboro and Mauville whose city lines, pollution, and supporting farmlands were starting to encroach on their lands.

During the Trainer-Ranger Wars and the sparse periods of peace between them, the Rangers took note of this and gave aide to the Draconids. It had originally just been humanitarian and developmental aide in a 'the Rangers are more moral' slap to the face of Hoenn and fellow T.A.T.O members. It consisted mostly of new crops like potatoes and pumpkins, advances in water sanitation, and advances in tapping into clean energy sources. However, it eventually led to some of the more militaristic groups of Hoenn to use it as a justification to attack the Draconids.

That war failed to take any land, but the resulting death tolls were extremely high to the Draconids, which led to the Draconids becoming more militarily aligned to the Rangers, and joined them during the last Trainer-Ranger wars.

Both sides ended up committing harsh deeds: the Draconids razed Mauville City and would have done to the same to Rustboro had reinforcements not arrived in time and had planned to drive all non-Draconids out of at least Western Hoenn and eventually off the main island entirely if the war lasted long enough, while the Hoenn forces drove the Draconids into the mountains after seizing most of their lands and imported massive amounts of Marill as Fairy-Type weapons of mass destruction against the Draconids Dragons and had engaged in Koffing bombing and introducing Grimer into several of their inhabited tunnels rendering them unusable and toxic.

Ever since the war tensions still remained however. While many parts of Hoenn, such as Lilycove and Slateport, now saw the war as needlessly harsh and sought some sort of means of restitution to the Draconids in hopes of ending the conflicts, other parts of Hoenn were less forgiving to them, particularly the parts they in the past razed to the ground, or attempted to raze to the ground.

Modern issues between Hoenn and the Draconids included Draconid-on-Fairy-Type hate crimes, Hoenn criminals committing crimes such as theft, vandalism, rape, and murder on Draconids, and the issue of how to handle inter-group crimes. For whenever a Draconid was taken to court for killing someone's pet Marill there were Draconid threats to bomb the courthouse, and whenever a Draconid's Salamence, Flygon, or Altaria abducted someone and flew them off with a written note explaining what this person had done to be taken and punished there were always calls to mobilize the military and 'finish the job'.

Upon reading this history John declared his desire to go and find the girl from earlier and apologize to her. She eventually talked him down as to why that was a horrible idea.

He seemed sad that they'd never be friends for several days afterward, although there would always be a sense of him being upset on the occasion that he'd be recalling their adventures.


After hearing that Erika was not accepting challenges, one might ask what our intrepid hero was up to now.

Did he and his merry band continue on, heading to face the formidable forces of Fuchsia?

Did he prepare the forces of friendship to fraternize with the female forker of figments?

To change her ways and show her that all men are not bad?

No…that wasn't what happened.

For you see the three had stepped out of the Pokémon Center, only for the massive rush of city people moving about caught him and sent the poor Pallet native on a unwanted guided tour of the city.

As to where he ended up in it….

WELCOME TO GAME FREAK HEADQUARTER!

Eyeing the cheerful looking sign in a local business park featuring a trio featuring a white and orange armored hero with a red crested helmet and a lightning bolt logo, a pink haired girl riding what appeared to be a giant drill, and a creature resembling a Donphan dressed like he was one of Lt. Surge's old war buddies, Ash and Pikachu were officially lost.

"Pikachu," Ash noted. "Remind me never move to a city this big if I ever retire."

"Ha ha ha….retirement. You're a little young to be thinking of that, but if you want to know all about your social security plan I've been putting money into…." the Pokédex chuckled in his pocket.

"…..Um, not now….." Ash felt odd thinking about the Pokédex messing with his money. Dramatically turning, he pointed down the street and said confidently to Pikachu.

"Okay, the Pokémon Center is that way!"

"Pika….." 'If you get us lost again, you owe me ketchup.'


Lavaridge Pokémon Gym

The battlefield that stood outside of the reach of the town's famous hotsprings was the next stop in John's trip.

He stood at one end, her at his side as always. Confident for the battle ahead of them.

At the end stood an old looking man, with oddly poofy white hair and small, circular glasses..

"So, you've come all the way out to Lavaridge for your second Gym badge? I must say kid, that is somewhat unorthodox. Heh, what's life without variety?" The Gym Leader and former Elite Four member said with a chuckle.

"So tell me young one, what is it you want to achieve in fighting the Gym Leaders? I must admit I always find it curious to see what drives the young people of today, and how things change over time. I myself traveled the world from my home in Johto seeking power and challenges, but I later found myself seeking the arts. Poetry, paintings, expressions of one's feelings and passions beyond battle."

"I want to find friends." John told him honestly.

"Friendship? You travel the land alone, for friendship?" The Gym Leader expressed in confusion. John just gave the Gym Leader a lopsided smile and nodded in confirmation.

While the Gym Leader would never understand John meant, she did.

John was one of a small but (in recent times) growing amount of humans who possessed unique power. His ability allowed him to see the potential bonds that could form between himself and another: of how strong a friendship or romantic relationship could be.

Him using this power was noticeable only when his eyes flashed orange-brown.

It was why he had wanted to go back to see that Draconid girl: though that was also proof of her own thoughts on the subject.

That friendship was something that one really could not 'measure' like one could weight or height. It might show him the people he could bond with so well that nothing could separate them, but friendship was not that or nothing.

He was missing that, and it sadly wasn't her place to try and convince him otherwise.

"Well, I've heard odder reasons, and I suppose a journey for friendship is better than a journey for riches, glory, or blood." Now holding up a Pokéball, he sent it into the field. "Let the battle begin! Go, Numel!"

"Nincada, come out my friend!"

The battle soon raged, the field becoming littered with holes from digs as several attacks were dodged and launched in seeming repeated monotony.

With a shout the stumpy orange-fire type shook the ground with a magnitude, shaking the earth below and blowing out the white insect that she had helped John capture long ago.

The insect steadied himself, recovering quite quickly.

"Huh…..allow me to offer a guess." The Gym Leader observed the recovering Nincada. "You've trained this Nincada of yours for a long time, probably with only that Ralts of yours with you during it?"

Yes, that was true. They had only just recently met two more friends since they left the Draconid Mountains.

At John's nod the Gym Leader smiled.

"I admire such dedication, but I can't let you win for that alone. Numel, Ember."

As the flames billowed forth from the Numel's mouth, John was quick to counter.

"Use Mud Slap!"

Slamming the ground with a forelimb, Nincada rose up a wall of earth that blocked the fired sparks of Ember.

"Now, use Secret Power!" Nincada sped forward with a glowing purple tackle, striking Numel right in the chest.

Numel collapsed to the ground, ending the round.

Returning the Pokémon, the old man nodded.

"Yes, I see. You have trained and bonded with your Pokémon well, though I must admit you do seem to be missing an original style of battling."

"That is not my priority."

"Perhaps, but neither is breathing yet we must all do that. Perhaps that is more something you can learn with time, but first you must best this Torkoal!"

The field was soon met by a new threat, a large black and tortoise who snorted out dark smoke from his nostrils.

"Nincada, use Dig….."

"I think you've left enough holes in my Gym young one, use Fire Spin!"

Moving far faster than a turtle should, a spinning vortex of flames flew out and trapped Nincada, preventing him from escaping.

"No, Nincada!"

"Ralts….." she whispered to herself, worried.

"Now, use Rapid Spin!"

A spinning black top of death soon burst through the flames and slammed into Nincada. The poor bug was sent flying out of the flames, and into John's arms.

Defeated.

Torkoal emerged from his shell even as Nincada was returned.

"So, who will be your next friend you will fight me with? Will it be your Ralts?"

At the Gym Leader's question she moved forward, ready to do so but John placed a gentle arm in front of her.

"No, I think I'll let one of my new friends fight this. Come my friend, Trapinch!"

The orange desert dwelling Pokémon appeared, a large gaping mouth opening up with a determined roar.

"A Trapinch? Interesting….you braved the desert. Not many do that…if you journeyed to such a place in the name of friendship I must admit that is remarkable."

It helped that John, uniquely as far as she knew, had a second power beyond his friendship sight: like a Psyduck John could negate the effects of weather around him. Unlike most, the sands did not blind him, nor did intense rain or intense sunlight strike him.

"But you don't get badges for friendship quests, Torkoal use Fire Spin!"

"Trapinch, Sand Tomb!"

As one tortoise stomped the ground, a massive bug mirrored the motion. From the mouth of Torkoal spiraled flames, and from the mighty maw of the Trapinch a spiral of sand flew.

The two attacks met in the center, and canceled each other out.

"Impressive….and since there is no way I am going to Rapid Spin anywhere near that mouth of Trapinch's…..Torkoal use Flame Wheel!"

Igniting its entire body, Torkoal once more retracted, and began to roll towards Trapinch, who instinctively opened his mouth wide.

Ralts flinched, already seeing the results that would result in.

"Use Bulldoze!" John called in response, resulting in the maw shutting and Trapinch instead stomping the ground with both front limbs, sending a wave of earth flying at the Torkoal.

The resulting collision sent Torkoal into the air, flailing desperately.

John flinched at the result, and Ralts knew just why. Trapinch was not exactly a ranged fighter. The only move he knew that would apply here would be…..

"Use Struggle Bug!"

Opening his large maw once more, a red burst of light flew right into Torkoal. However, such a bug-move would have little effect on the Torkoal, even as the mighty beast landed on the earth once more.

"I do prefer not to use and abuse this move, but you have left me no chance. Behold the move that makes people hesitant to challenge this Gym: Torkoal use Overheat!"

A bright ball of flame began to build inside of Torkoal's mouth, even as she rapidly pulled at John's pant leg.

"Ralts! Ralts!" Oh how she cursed divergent tongues! She had to warn him what a move like that could do!

"Overheat…..sounds dangerous: quickly use Bulldoze to stop it Trapinch!"

Roaring Trapinch hit the earth, sending another wave of earth flying at Torkoal.

"Too slow." The Gym Leader told them even as the attack began to fire right at them, however as the attack was fired the field itself began to shatter, breaking apart as if it lost all connectivity with itself.

"What!? My field!"

The Overheat was re-aimed, the fire shooting into the sky harmless.

The earth wave had missed as well, but now Torkoal lay at the bottom of the pit, shell first.

"Tor! Tor! Koal!"

Trapinch darted forward, looking down on the downed Torkoal from a somewhat stable ledge.

"This is it Trapinch, now use Feint Attack!"

The following move earned John a new badge, and also a word of advice from the old man.

Attacking a downed turtle is not considered friendly.


A boy, his Pikachu, and his snarky technological device found themselves in a dark alleyway, littered with detritus, dumpsters, and a single locked door.

"…What flavor…." Ash sighed, giving in to Pikachu's unspoken demand.

"Pi." 'Ketchup only has one flavor Ash, delicious.'

"I'm pretty sure there is more to ketchup than that buddy…"

Suddenly from the locked door, an explosion of noise rang out, a roaring crowd as loud as a tournament.

"….Warning: large underground gathering detected. I'd avoid it if I were you."

"Underground gathering huh….." Ash looked ponderous for a moment, before he kicked the door with all his might.

The door swung open harmlessly, apparently it was not locked as he had first thought.

"Pikapi?" 'Ash, are you sure you want to be doing that. It could be something illegal, or worse. It could be some weird cult worshiping MissingNo or something?'

Ash shivered as the mention of that MissingNo, but entered through the door regardless, sound acting like a guide down into the dark depths of the underground.

"MissingNo cult, fight club, or trading card tournament I honestly don't care, I'm pretty sure they can give me directions back to the Pokémon Center regardless of what they are doing down there."

"You could just follow my directions, you know. I am a GPS."

"I did, we ended up here."

"….I blame the construction….and the recent update I got from the Alola Region. Will it make it up to you if I tell you about Rowlet?"

"I already know about Rufflett," Ash noted, even as the Pokédex seemed ready to explain that he was not talking about that bird.


Dewford Gym

Surrounded by green wooden floors, the dirt battle field smelled vaguely of salt .

Now Kirlia wondered why that was. Was it because of how close the sea was? No, that didn't feel right somehow. Something else was the cause of it.

"Dude! Do you know how long it's been since anyone's challenged me for their fifth badge. I mean really, that team of mine was starting to get totally bored!"

Also, the blue haired Gym Leader talked oddly. If he was a Pokémon, she'd suspect he'd be a Geodude.

"Well, I suppose you can thank that big storm last week completely grounded the ferries." John noted as the Gym Leader laughed.

"Yeah! That storm was totally radical, but I can see why there were no boats out. Insurance rates are horrible these days. Tell me, is Norman's wife still as hot as she was last time I saw her?"

As John blushed and refused to meet Brawly's eyes, she felt an odd sense of annoyance at that question.

"Yeah, that Norman's a lucky guy: a beautiful and lovely wife, and two great kids. Lucky and upstanding, you really should ask how Norman and Caroline met, it makes me cry every time."

"The dude makes me think about settling down one of these days but trying to get a date on this island is not easy if you don't spend your day fishing with the fathers, I can't date my students for all the reasons you can think of, and whenever I go back home to Saffron to see my Mom I can never find anyone who'd be willing to give this island a chance. Makes me worry sometimes I'm going to be alone like old Bruno….but you didn't come to listen to me talk about my life, you came for a battle. Is a four on four fight good?"

At John's nod the Gym Leader grinned.

"Very well: it's time to see if you're ready to earn the Gym Badge of Brawly! Come on out, Breloom!"

"Come out my friend, Shedinja!"

As the hollow living shell appeared to fight a green clad fighter with a large tail Brawly eyed the Shedinja in shock.

"Wait, isn't that the thing you can only hit with super-effective attacks?"

John nodded in affirmative, as Brawly looked glum.

"Bummer, that is not what I was hoping for dude."

"Sorry….I promised to use him in this Gym battle after I wasn't able to use him in the last fight."

She remembered that incident. John had felt bad after he scared a little boy with asthma with Shedinja and was told that he couldn't use him in Petalburg City limits by some strange creature called a Lawyer.

Under threat of a law suit. She still wasn't sure what that term meant.

"Ouch. Well I guess I get it, but I guess I have to just….wing it I guess. Breloom if your attacks won't hurt, just hit it!"

"Bre!"

Breloom charged right at Shedinja and hit Shedinja, only to pass right through it and stumble briefly before quickly recovering.

"Oh, dang it I thought that would work!" Brawly complained loudly.

"Bre….."

Or to translate: 'I could have told you that would not have worked, but you wouldn't have understood me.'

"Shedinja, Shadow Claw!" John called as black light grew out from the wings of Shedinja, before Shedinja pointed its head right at Breloom and charged at it.

"Roll with it!" Brawly called. Breloom nodded, before setting an unusual stance.

She wasn't sure what it was meant for, but she soon saw it as Breloom took the hit, but contorted in a way that made the attack only graze it instead of directly impact.

Shedinja spun out of control for a moment but re-righted itself, only for a purple hue to cover itself and fell to the ground.

Defeated.

"Wha?!" John stated in surprise.

"It's Effect Spore! See, when you spar with a Breloom, you can occasionally get a status condition from physical contact. I can't tell you how many slip-ups in teaching this guy how to swim end up requiring a lifeguard…"

Breloom blushed at the comment, even as she got the mental image of a paralyzed Brawly sinking to the bottom of the ocean like a rock.

"…It was only after the twelfth time that I found out the union was getting on my case for it, and I discovered that lifeguards have one here. Well, that was that day, so who’s your next Pokémon?"

Returning Shedinja and thanking it, John threw his next Pokéball.

"Come out my friend, Swablu!"

As the blue bird with wings like clouds landed on the field, Brawly looked at the bird in shock.

"Dude, that bird's wings….I thought they were exaggerating. They really do look like clouds. I guess I see the appeal now."

Swablu fluffed herself up, practically strutting with the compliment.

"I take it you don't see that many Swablu," John observed as Brawly laughed.

"Not at all. I get Taillow, Swellow, Beautifly, Zubat, Golbat, that one Crobat last Tuesday, and more Wingull and Pelipper than I know what to do with, but never get any Swablu. This could be fun!"

"Bre!" Breloom snapped in response, causing Brawly to chuckle awkwardly.

"Oh wait, it's a Flying-Type isn't it. So that means it is rather super-effective against you. Don't worry, just pretend it's like a Zubat. A really fluffy, not blind Zubat."

Swablu looked offended at the comparison.

"Begin!"

"Let's get this started. Breloom, just because it's a Flying type doesn't mean much on defense when it's also part Normal type, fighting attacks will hurt it! Use Force Palm!"

"Bre!" With a glowing punch Breloom charged.

"Dodge, and use Disarming Voice!"

Swooping right over Breloom's attack, Swablu opened her beak and let loose a sonic wave attack.

Breloom took the attack the same odd way it had taken Shadow Claw, though with clearly more effort.

"Oh, please don't tell me it's related to one of those Fairy-type things. Does it evolve into that freaky Amorti-thing from Kalos?!" Brawly questioned out loud as John shook his head.

"Oh wait, come to think of it I think Winona has a giant blue bird with fluffy wings. Oh, good, so it isn't that thing. Dude, I was totally off on that one!"

"Bre…."

Kirlia noted Breloom's ire tone. She'd have to make sure that John did not watch those….Kalosian horror movies?

"Now use Headbutt!"

Breloom charged towards Swablu, head lowered and looking ready to impact the bird with spores.

She could see John grit his teeth, resisting the urge to use Peck and risk a Shedinja repeat.

"Avoid with Double Team!" He eventually called. As the Headbutt hit, Swablu vanished into mist, revealing a doppelganger had been hit.

Breloom was then surrounded by the fluffy birds.

"Oh crud." Brawly mused.

"Use Disarming Voice!"

The Fairy Type attack hit in surround sound, striking Breloom at all angles.

However….

"Bre!"

Breloom was not down yet.

"Use Mega Drain on all of them!"

With a yowl Breloom shot out green tendrils from the neck, dissipating all the copies.

The real one, however….

"Disarming Voice!"

Struck Breloom from above, slamming the Grass-Fighting type into the ground, now defeated.

Returning his Pokémon Brawly had a good chuckle.

"Not bad, not bad at all. Dude, you're pretty good. However, I'm not done yet: go Medicham!"

The thin Pokémon with pink all over was next, posing as it balanced on a single foot.

"Cham!"

Did it think that doing that made it look tough? She balanced on one leg all the time.

Frankly she liked showing off the fact she really had legs now.

"Let's get this over with: use Disarming Voice!"

At John's command, Swablu let loose her song once more, the singing attack flying right at Medicham.

Medicham promptly bent over with incredible flexibility, avoiding the attack completely.

"….Hey, isn't that move supposed to always hit?!"

"What can I say man, surfing defies the rules of the average man: also my Medicham can use Detect."

Looking at the Medicham, Kirlia did in fact see glowing eyes that proved that to be true.

"Now that you know my little trick: Medicham use Thunder Punch!"

"Medi!" With static covered fists Medicham bound right at Swablu, who looked rather shocked.

"Use Double Team!"

"Medicham, don't freak out, just feel the flow of it all!"

As the duplicates formed Medicham did not panic. Instead the fighting Pokémon attacked with an odd sense of purpose.

This was not flailing about as often was the case in the aftermath of a Double Team: this was a search.

The fists flew, taking out un-reactive double after un-reactive double, until one duplicate fluttered out of the way of the attack at the last moment.

"Got you!" Brawly declared as Medicham leapt at the last one.

"Mirror Move!" John called, even as Kirlia looked at him in shock.

A glowing yellow ball of electricity in front of her beak, Swablu collided with Medicham attack for attack.

Again Kirlia noticed a slight movement, meant to allow for the attack to impact the target less directly. Swablu herself seemed to slide on down the mirrored attack, not hitting it in full though not directly harmed either.

It was odd….

"Now use Zen Headbutt!"

"Quick use Pe…"

Before John could call the move Medicham slammed a glowing head right into Swablu, sending the little bird falling to the ground in defeat.

"Swablu!"

.

The battle continued on from there, with John having sent out Ninjask next.

Which led to….

"Machoke, use Dual Chop!"

"Ninjask, use X-Scissor!"

The two collided after a long series of clashes, leading both defeated.

As both were returned, it had come to the final round.

John turned to her, nodding. With a smile and a feeling of 'Finally', I bound to the field, ready to fight whatever this Brawly had left to throw out at them.

"Go, Hariyama!"

I was promptly met by a giant whose thighs were larger than my entire body, had hands big enough to completely wrap around my small frame, and a very, very evident difference in weight class between them.

Regardless of the difference though, I did not back down. I felt ready, willing, needing to fight this thing, and defeat it!

Or….maybe that was her Trace ability borrowing the Guts from this Hariyama and making her blood thirsty.

Who knew?

At least it wasn't that other ability she heard this line had. Trace could be really nasty if you traced an ability like Thick Fat or Stench.

"Begin!"

"Use Confusion!"

John's command was acknowledged, power surging through her. With glowing blue eyes, she lifted the great mass into the air, though in a flash of pain she dropped it right down.

"What!?" John exclaimed in shock.

"Oh yeah, that whole psychic 'lift things into the air and smash them around' thing. Yeah, I know all about that trick. I've taught all my Hariyama and Makuhita to control their centers of gravity and break the hold!"

"Hari!" The large fighting type triumphantly declared, slamming his belly. Even John knew exactly what that meant.

"Now, Force Palm!" Hariyama charged forward with a glowing palm, ready to slam her into the ground.

"Teleport!"

Just what she was thinking, and well-timed too. She vanished out of sight, just as the Force Palm shattered the ground.

"Now, use Magical Leaf!"

She reappeared behind the large fighting type, and began firing glowing green leaves into the back of Hariyama.

Like the others Hariyama angled his body in a way that seemed to soften the blows impact.

"Clever girl, or at least I am pretty sure that Kirlia is a girl. Hariyama, blow the leaves away with Whirlwind, then go into Knock Off!"

Turning, Hariyama swept the air with his massive hands, blowing the Magical Leaf away, before leaping into the air with a dark glowing palm.

The palm was not pleasant to feel, even as the hit smashed into me and slammed her into the ground.

"Kirlia!" John yelled in concern, even as Hariyama hit the ground once more with tremor inducing force.

She could see the concern in his features quickly replaced with relief as he saw me get back up.

"Okay Hariyama, let's end this with Arm Thrust!"

"Counter with Charge Beam!"

Before Hariyama could get near enough to start pounding, I fired an electric beam right into him.

The impact staggered the approach, and I felt my powers temporarily boost.

"Again!"

A second beam was blocked this time by Hariyama's large hands, but I felt the power boost again.

"And again!"

"Block with Whirlwind!"

With another hand wave, a wall of wind formed to block the attack, though she still felt a rush of power flowing through her.

"Look, as a Gym Leader let me tell you something: that isn't going to work a fourth time, so why don't you try something else."

"Okay, I will. Kirlia, use Confusion!"

Once more, her eyes glowed blue and she began to lift Hariyama into the air, where he struggled.

Only this time, he didn't get free.

"What!?" Brawly was surprised, to put it mildly.

"Charge Beam increases Kirlia's special attack, so this Confusion is a little tougher this time. Now let's end this!"

She couldn't agree more, and with that she slammed Hariyama into the ground with all her mental power.

And that was enough to win the day.


The underground was noisier than Roxie's Gym, and that was an accomplishment.

It was certainly filled with more people: all of them large, sweaty, and muscular.

The center of the underground chamber was a familiar looking ring, where a defeated Hitmonchan laid on the ground, completely knocked out and looking rather bruised.

A Hitmonlee was cheering next to it, his rather muscular looking trainer standing on the far end of the arena, grinning like a lunatic.

A familiar looking man was on the end with Hitmonchan, crying even as he returned his Pokémon.

Ash, not quite visible to the crowd at the moment, pursed his lips as he tried to recall exactly who this guy was.

Oh right, he was Anthony, the guy who trained Primeape (and with that Ash felt some depression hit). Now, what else about him was there to remember…..

"I'm sorry Hitmonchan, I'm sorry Rebecca. I thought I could win, I thought I could take home the pot and keep the two of us afloat while I find a job…..but I failed. I was too weak….I wasn't able to train Hitmonchan well enough…!" Ash could hear the man shout to himself, even from this distance. It sounded quite devastating.

Somehow Ash felt like it had gone somewhat differently the last time, and that the P1 was not underground like this the last time.

"And with that, our undefeated champion, THE GIANT, has beaten yet another challenger. The 300,000 jackpot is still up for grabs folks, but is anyone brave enough to fight THE GIANT? Is anyone, MAN ENOUGH?" an announcer shouted loudly, heard even above the roaring crowds.

"Ash, you are fifteen, you are not 'man enough', now let's go back the way…..stop moving rapidly!"

Ash ignored his Pokédex, even as he felt Pikachu jump off his shoulder and dash alongside him.

Jumping over a few blocks, some chairs, and a passed out guy who smelled like alcohol Ash dashed forward to the stage.

"I'm brave enough!" Ash declared. "And when I win, the prize money will go to An….the guy you just beat!"

"Pikapika!" 'Yeah, we don't need that money….and it sort of sounds odd to say that we're just going to be giving the prize money away?'

"Well, well, I guess we've got ourselves a challenger, and one who isn't afraid to fight for no profit. Let me guess, you wanted to fight Erika…anyway here's the rules! You can use any Pokémon, but it needs to have hands and feet. Tails are allowed, but attacks aren't. It's a battle of wills, of strength and endurance. Choose your Pokémon!"

"Charmeleon!" Ash said with no hesitation, as his Fire-type appeared, roaring his own challenge in the unspoken language of ferocity.

Hitmonlee tensed, ready to begin the right.

"BEGIN!"

"Kick that overgrown lizard!"

"Catch it and spin it around, then send it flying!"

"Char!" 'What, no fire attacks to that thing's face….well okay. I guess I need to give that thing all the help it can get if I want this fight to be fair!'


Many battles had been fought since.

"Nosepass use Spark!" John had called during their sixth Gym match: the Pokémon he had caught after defeating Brawly charging forward in an electric tackle into the large blue fish.

Said fish took the hit as if it were nothing.

"What?!" John said in shock as the Gym Leader merely shook his head.

"Why, it appears you do not know that my Lanturn can possess the ability Volt Absorb. Unlike the Sealeo you had fought earlier, electric attacks are completely useless to it. Now Lanturn, use Scald!

The burning water attack struck Nosepass for the first knockout of that match. Vibrava would take over the match after that and defeated it with Dragon Breath and Earthquake, before she stepped in to defeat the Kingdra that anchored the team after Vibrava was defeated.

Ninjask and Shedinja won the match that followed: Shedinja defending and supporting with Wonder Guard while Ninjask battled offensively.

Then came the final Gym battle….

"Probopass, use Discharge!"

The battle was a harsh one: John started out strong with Propopass's Discharge, Stone Edge, and Stealth Rock: which managed to defeat the Gym Leader's Swellow and Pelipper.

It had later been defeated by her Tropius's Solar Beam, said Tropius in turn being bested by Ninjask.

Ninjask was then defeated by Skarmory, who…

"Altaria, use Flamethrower!"

"Hurry, dodge and use Brave…" Skarmory wasn't fast enough and got scorched.

Falling to the earth burned, Skarmory was returned by the Gym Leader who was now in a corner.

Well, not literally, but she had only one Pokémon left to use.

The woman, dressed in a gray set of odd clothing reached for a Pokéball and held it into the blowing wind.

"I rarely get to fight trainers preparing for the Pokémon League. I must say, this is very unusual and oddly enjoyable. However, the test is not yet done. No, I have one more challenge blowing your way: go Altaria!"

Bursting out of her final Pokéball was an Altaria of her own, and one much larger than John's.

"Dragon Pulse!" both John and the Gym Leader, Winona, shouted as both fired large blue blasts at one another.

The two attacks collided, and Winona's broke through.

John returned the now KO'd Pokémon and reached for the next Pokémon to go into battle.

"Go, Flygon!"

And the evolved Vibrava took to the battle of dragons.

Green wings beat in opposition to wings made of cloud as the dragons stared one another down.

"Steel Wing!"

"Counter it with Dragon Claw!"

Glowing claws and glowing wings battered one another as the two fliers fought.

Would she even need to fight in this fight today?

Altaria took a hit from a Dragon Claw, and as the bird began to fall to the ground she guessed she would not be battling today.

"Now Altaria, Ice Beam!"

"Wha!?"

Altaria stabilized beneath Flygon, with such ease that it was definitely planned, and fired the blue beam attack right below Flygon.

The attack hit perfectly, and Flygon was sent falling, most definitely without a plan.

Flygon was returned before it actually hit the ground, clearly beaten. John looked at his Pokéball sadly as he did so, clearly feeling bad for the trick.

"In air battles, you can't just look in front of you. In the air, you have to use all 360 degrees of vision." Winona explained as Altaria fluttered next to her. "Now, who is your last Pokémon?"

John turned to her and nodded, which she returned and teleported down to ground level and pointing one of her now long, green hands his way.

"Gardevoir," Was what humans now heard when she spoke, and fired the pink ball Moonblast right at Altaria.

Altaria responded with another Moonblast. The attacks met mid-air, before hers broke through and struck.

Altaria didn't lose much altitude from the blast, however.

"Not bad. Your Gardevoir is top notch," Winona observed, before she tapped the side of her winged cap. "However, you still have one more hurdle to pass if you want to win this battle."

From the side of her winged cap burst out streams of light, which flew out towards Altaria. The light in particular seemed to focus around a part of the wing, which unfurled to reveal a stone of some sorts.

Altaria began to glow, as if evolving. Again.

The light faded, revealing an even fluffier, paler blue Altaria.

"You seem surprised. Tell me, is this the first time you've seen a mega-evolved Pokémon? If so, I must sadly inform you that this is the normal you must face. At a League level, a trainer who cannot fight Mega Evolution will not get far. Now, show me if you're ready to fight at a Mega level. Altaria, use Hyper Voice!"

As Altaria began to suck in air, John wasn't far behind.

"Be ready for anything Gardevoir! Use Protect!"

And so, the hardest battle they had ever fought began.


"Hitmonlee is The Kicking Pokémon. It specializes in kicking things until they stop moving. You should not have won that fight."

"But I did!" Ash shouted in triumph, even as Anthony wept at his feet.

"Oh thank you, thank you, thank you! My daughter and I are in your debt kind stranger! If there is anything I can do for you, please don't hesitate to ask."

"Sure. In fact, I do have a favor to ask."

"Anything! Well, maybe not my daughter's hand in marriage but…."

Ash briefly blushed at the idea, but knew exactly what to ask.

"Can you give me directions to the Pokémon Center? I kind of got lost and ended up here by mistake."

"Oh….that's all you want?" Anthony sounded surprised, but he quickly regained control of himself. "Oh, that's the trick isn't it? All the construction and all…if you take the underground passages for a bit you can probably bypass it and come up near the Game Corner. That's only a few blocks away from the Pokémon Center."

"Thanks!"

"Don't mention it…..just be careful down here. You can run into some weird stuff…..like hobos, and gangs, and just today I found these."

Anthony reached into his pocket and pulled out a pair of familiar looking stones, the same kind of stone that Pikachu wore on his holder.

"Not sure what they are, but you can have them! I've never seen a stone like these before, and maybe you can make use of them. Bye!"

As Anthony walked off, Ash noted the Eviolite in hand.

"So, shall I send another message to Forge Smith?" Dexter inquired.


"….Well, that was unpleasant."

Ash was not the only one to be swept off by the city crowds. Misty and Iris were similarly blasted away by the endless sea of bodies.

Misty's dry unamused tone was contrasted by Iris, who looked like she had spun around a few hundred times and in dire need of getting personal space again.

"Too many people…." she muttered to herself in a daze. "Need, space."

Able to tell that Iris was still trying to regain her bearings after being swept along, Misty took stock of where the two had ended up.

A grassy field, littered with chalk-drawn battlefields: clearly this was a local park where local trainers were able to practice battle in preparation for facing Erika, in theory anyway.

However despite the fact that few could fight said Erika these days, it was surprisingly busy.

"Come one, come all…" A voice that Misty had heard many times, but had never met, rang out through the air with a tone of calmness tinged with unmistakable strength.

Lorelei.

Standing in the field with all her wonderful glory, said Ice Master (and in Misty's mind honorary Water Master) continued her call, standing next to a seated blue haired woman with a fancy parasol over her and what Misty believed to be a Leafeon on her lap.

Said woman seemed to fall asleep without any warning, though the Leafeon seemed to react to this with a practiced movement of its tail, which rubbed up against her nose like a feather. Sneezing, the woman woke back up, seemingly a little embarrassed about what just happened.

"….When I decide to throw an impromptu tag tournament in a city park, I make sure to throw an improve tag tournament in a city park. We need two more people, one more team. If you win, you'll get any reasonable favor from me, and I do mean reasonable. Please don't be like that guy from last time who asked me to help him fix his motorcycle. I do dabble, but I'm no mechanic after all."

Tag tournament…Lorelei….in the open…..

"Iris," Misty said in a 'no argument' type tone that even occasionally made Psyduck behave. Said wild girl looked at her, curious about her plan. "We're going to enter that tournament."

"What?" Iris asked, sounding less like she didn't want to enter it, but more like she wasn't sure why Misty was insisting on it.

"We have no idea where Ash is, and frankly neither of us want to go into the city traffic again." Irish shivered like she just got a load of ice cubes shoved down her shorts (Misty knew what that was like). "Ash should find his way to wherever battles are going on, and if the Gym isn't open then this tournament is our best shot."

Iris nodded, getting the gist of it.

….

With Lorelei watching and her guest currently sipping a cup of coffee, the battles had begun.

"Ha ha! We are the invincible Pokémon Brothers!" Two blue dressed teenagers laughed at them, posing somewhat ridiculously. "I am Kim!"

"I am Kail!"

"Go Hitmonchan!"

"Go Hitmonlee!"

The two Fighting-types appeared on the field, posing similarly ridiculously.

Not doing anything akin to a stupid pose with Iris, Misty sent out her own Pokémon.

"Go Poliwrath!"

"Go Excadrill!"

The brothers didn't seem all that surprised to see a Poliwrath, but when they saw Excadrill they just stared.

"Um….what is that?" the one called Kail asked.

"An Excadrill?" Iris pointed out bluntly.

"Yeah…what's an Excadrill?"

Iris merely pointed at her Pokémon. A few of the spectators chuckled as Kail simply stared.

Misty could have sworn she spotted Lorelei and her guest watching them. She felt her heart flutter a bit at the idea of her childhood idol watching her.

"Okay, I have no idea what an Excadrill is supposed to be, but it doesn't look like a ghost! Hitmonlee Rolling Kick!"

"Hitmonchan use Comet Punch!"

Both fighting types came in, foot and fist ready to strike.

"Counter with Dynamic Punch Poliwrath!"

"Excadrill use Metal Claw!"

Poliwrath's fist collided with Hitmonlee's foot, as Metal Claws met Hitmonchan's punches.

Both Fighting-types were thrown back with surprising ease, defeated.

"WHA!?"

"But how!?"

"….Apparently you are not the 'Invincible Pokémon Brothers'," Misty snarked out loud.

A round after that passed with little fanfare: Staryu and Emolga defeating a duo with a Diglett and a Doduo.

However they were now at the final fight, with a duo of girls: one green-haired and the other blue-haired, who looked a bit more intimidating than the others had been.

"You two….weren't you in that Battle Dome tournament?" the green-haired one observed. Misty noted her voice was unusually deep-sounding for a girl.

"Yeah, we were," Misty confirmed.

"Wish I had been there….regardless the two of us were too busy training to beat her." The green haired girl pointed to the Leafeon girl, who was starting to doze off again even with a freshly drained cup of coffee near her. Said Leafeon woke her up again the same way as before though.

"Why?" Iris asked, sounding curious.

"That's Erika, the Gym Leader here. Assunta and I barely managed to beat her for our badges the other day. You'd think a Venomoth and Dodrio would be enough to sweep a Grass-trainer, but we were wrong."

"She's the Gym Leader…." Misty looked at the girl sitting next to her idol in surprise.

From the corner of her eye she spotted Iris also looking at her, but with a more…..calculative gaze.

Misty filed that away for later, hoping Iris wasn't going to do anything embarrassing.

"Enough stalling though: go Clefable!"

"Go Rhyhorn!"

The Rock-type and the evolved form of Clefairy appeared on the field without even a witty comment from the Pokédex.

…..Did she really miss that thing?

She noticed Iris flinch a bit at the sight of the Clefairy, but she quickly steeled herself.

"I'll handle the Clefable," Misty told her as she sent out her own fighter. "Go…."

Her bag rustled, as another Pokémon popped out.

"Psy!" 'Ta da!' The duck appeared, posing dramatically.

Misty just stared at Psyduck, horrified beyond words.

Why, did Psyduck just do that?

And right in front of Lorelei!

If she had looked up, she'd have spotted the look of amusement that adorned her idol's face.

"Go Axew!"

As Iris let out her dragon/brother out, Misty idly wondered what she was planning.

There was, after all, a big, scary fairy out there.

Axew himself looked rather shocked about being out, but Iris looked confident.

"You and I put a lot of training in after last time Axew….time to show for it."

"Ax!" Axew sounded less than thrilled.

"Thunderbolt!" Clefable's trainer, the green-haired Melissa called as sparks began to form between Clefable's hands.

"Use Water Gun!" Misty called in response, hoping to hit it before it fired it.

Psyduck promptly began spraying the water attack, sending it right at Clefable.

"Block it with Rock Blast!" Assunta responded, as Rhyhorn's horn began to glow white. Several white rocks promptly fired from said horn, blocking Water Gun completely.

"Psy…" 'Well, that's all for me."

The Thunderbolt fired, right at Psyduck.

"Use Dragon Claw!"

"Axew!"

The small dragon leapt into the Thunderbolt's path, glowing claws ready in response.

The claws met the Thunderbolt, and sliced it apart.

"Hmmm…..not bad. Rhyhorn, use Drill Run!"

"Clefable, use Moonblast!"

As Rhyhorn charged with an oddly streamlined form, Clefable began to form a glowing pink energy attack.

"Axew, you know what to do!"

"Ax!"

Axew charged forward towards Rhyhorn, claws still armed for Dragon Claw.

As the Drill Run got near, Axew ducked under the attack, and struck from below.

That sent Rhyhorn off the attack, and off-course.

"Rhyhorn!"

Moonblast, however, was now ready.

"Fire!"

The attack was sent right at Axew, even as Rhyhorn flew at Psyduck like an out of control, airborne car.

"Psyduck, Water Gun!"

"Axew, Dig!"

Axew could use Dig?

As Axew burrowed into the ground to avoid the attack, Psyduck hit the Rock and Ground-type with the water blast.

Said Rhyhorn collapsed defeated from the super effective hit.

"No, Rhyhorn!"

Axew then popped up under Clefable, sending the Fairy-type into the air.

"Clefable!"

"Now, use Slash!"

The cutting attack, the enhanced Scratch, struck the Fairy-type.

Clefable promptly collapsed, defeated.

"And we have our winners!" Lorelei declared, suddenly appearing behind them.

Misty and Iris jumped in surprise, Iris landing in a bit more of a 'react and prepare to claw someone in the face' way.

Lorelei was smiling at the two of them, Erika at her side with her Leafeon.

"You both were excellent. In fact, you four were excellent." Erika extended a smile with Assunta and Melissa, who were returning their defeated Pokémon. "Pity that I too caught the tournament at the Battle Dome and are thus aware you won't be challenging me. I always do like to see aspiring female trainers: there just aren't enough of us."

For some reason Misty could have sworn Melissa looked surprised to be included, but she put that away as 'none of her business'.

"Now then, for your reward…" Misty opened her mouth, but before she realized she had no idea what to ask for Lorelei took her arms and pulled them out, before dropping something blue in them.

"Wooper!"

"Here's a Wooper. You're a Water Pokémon trainer right? Well, I hope this little guy helps you."

Misty's mind raced, trying to comprehend that Lorelei just gave her, out of the blue, a Wooper of all things.

"Duck." 'Giving someone a Wooper….that sounds like a euphemism.'

"Now…." Lorelei turned her gaze to Iris, and Misty noted, give Iris a good view of her sizeable womanly features. "What would you want?"

"You said you can do anything, correct?" Iris began, even as Misty started to feel a sense of dread come along.

"I can't fix a bike or fly a plane, but other than that I certainly am talented," Lorelei noted. "Heads up though; I'm seeing someone right now."

That didn't seem to faze Iris though, clearly suggesting that 'spending a pleasurable evening together' was not on her list.

Though she could have sworn she heard someone nearby curse the heavens after Lorelei confirmed she was taken.

"My friend Ash. He is challenging Gyms for the League."

"Oh yes, he was runner-up if I recall," Erika noted. "He certainly showed promise. I'm sure that he'll easily win in Fuchsia, Cinnabar, even Viridian. He won't get much challenge from the others though…."

"He came here to challenge a Gym though. Lorelei, my favor is I want you to let Ash battle her." Iris stated, as she and Axew pointed at a flummoxed Erika.

The entire park was suddenly silent.

'Did you really just….' Misty thought while being partly mortified, and oddly impressed. Iris really did want to help Ash.

'Meanwhile, all you got was a Wooper,' a voice inside her head admonished. Misty promptly reminded her troublesome subconscious that she had been given that Wooper before even being able to say something otherwise.

"Oh, is that all." Lorelei suddenly spoke in a chipper tone. "Sure, I can arrange that for you."

"What!?" Erika questioned Lorelei in shock. Lorelei, smirking, just grabbed Erika and pulled her out of sight for a moment.

"….Dude, is Erika about to be bribed?"

"But Lorelei said she's seeing someone….."

"Maybe she's cashing in a favor."

….

"Will you do it for this?" Lorelei showed the Gym Leader a calendar, the contents of which Erika could plainly see, and blushed even as the Elite Four member flipped through the pages. "You were busy that week, so you didn't hear about the fact that a couple of us got together and made a couple of these rather lovely swimsuit shots for Goodshow while he was recovering in the hospital from that horrible crash he had after the last Lily of the Valley. I'm Miss January by the way: Drasna is Miss February, Glacia is Miss March, Diantha's Miss April, Elesa is Miss May, Clair's Miss June, Fantina's Miss July, Skyla's Miss August, Valerie is Miss September, Gardenia is Miss October, Winona is Miss November, and if you turn to December you'll see this wonderful centerfold of Miss December: the one and only Cynthia."

Erika's blush got worse and worse as the calendar was shown off more and more.

"There are only three of these in existence: Goodshow's got the first, Diantha has the second one, and I just so happen to have the third one. Now, I admit I was always thinking about keeping this around to remind myself I was once as attractive as I am today, but that girl asked with such determination if I could help her friend I just can't say no. So, will you battle the boy for this calendar? After all, I think we both know that the chances of you still being selective of your challengers after the hearing is slim, so might as well start with a boy who seems to have a pair of aspiring lady friends. I'm sure regardless of what sort of teenage dynamic they have, he'll behave better than a creepy old man with too much time on, and in, his hands."

….

Erika and Lorelei returned ten minutes later: Erika holding something under her arm that hadn't been there previously.

"….very well. Ash Ketchum did seem to be well behaved young trainer. Have him arrive at the Gym tomorrow at ten. I suppose I will have to see if male trainers can behave themselves….now if you excuse me I have….business to attend to."

Erika and Leafeon promptly left, even as Lorelei grinned.

"Well, there you go. Hope your friend wins tomorrow. Have a good day."

As Lorelei walked off, Misty watched her idol leave with some unease.

Iris had just solved Ash's problem, all by herself and with her own initiative.

Why did that still make her feel….inadequate?

Psyduck looked at her with a visible frowned, while Wooper cheered obliviously.


"….Man, I'm lost."

"Pikapi…." 'Yes, we're lost. It feels like Johto, just with less trees and more darkness and Zubat attacks.'

Ash rubbed his head, cringing at he felt some remaining Zubat saliva soaking his hat and hair.

"I am having trouble connecting to the wireless network. I feel…isolated. Alone. Is this what it feels like to be organic, singular and separate from everything? It's maddening, I can see now why you are the way you are."

Shaking his head, Ash took the device out and held it at eye level. "A lack of internet connection didn't make me who I am. That's just life."

"Life sucks then."

"Life is wonderful, it's the best thing there is. Never think otherwise."

"Don't try and sound like Professor Oak," the Pokédex snarked. "You lack the voice tone and wealth of wisdom (for an organic life form) to do so…..WIRELESS!"

The Pokédex suddenly shouted the last one, sounding more like someone who had been cut off from something addictive for a while, then suddenly saw a mountain of it before them.

"Take me, take me, I must reconnect! Take me to the connection!"

"….And what: just stand there and not move?" Ash snarked.

"If possible."

Ash and Pikachu exchanged a look, before Ash put the device away again.

"Yeah…..let's just get out of here, then you can have all the network connections you want." Ash turned around, ready to go back the way he came and at least get fresh air…..

'John?'

A voice rang in his ears, causing him to freeze up.

"Pikapi?" 'Ash?'

"Pikachu." Ash said, now looking around to see if he saw anything out of the ordinary other than underground mosses and graffiti, "Did you hear that?"

"Pika…." 'No….'

"Weird….because I swore I heard something…."

The sound of a loud crash, as if someone had just dropped something heavy, rang out in the distance.

"Pi!" 'Well I heard that.' With unspoken agreement, both trainer and partner ran in the direction of the loud crash.

….

"Hey you, what on earth are you doing…."

A suspicious looking guard was quickly quick attacked out of the way.

….

Bursting through the door, Ash and Pikachu tensed as they saw what was within, before preparing to counter the new, very likely fight they'd soon be in.

Pikachu's cheek sparked, while Ash reached for his Pokéballs.

The room around them was filled with several cages. Each cage was filled with half a dozen black insect Pokémon, all looking miserable.

Crates dotted the room, each filled with a variety of items. Pokéballs, gems, some sort of green stuff Ash wasn't quite sure the origin of.

In the back of the room was a clear plastic tube, in which lied six Pokéballs.

Between him, the six Pokéballs, and the Scatterbug however, existed a couch. A red couch, with fine lacing. And on this couch, a man sat hunched over.

His hair was pale green, with brown eyes similar in color to Ash's. He was dressed in a dark suit, and his skin looked like he had spent a long time living in somewhere hot, perhaps a desert.

He looked up at Ash, and scowled.

"So, this is the intruder who broke into my hideout the guard told me about. How annoying, you're just a kid. I was hoping for something at least a little more impressive."

'John? Is that really you?' a voice asked in Ash's head, sounding female and surprised, as if she had just seen someone whom she'd thought would never return, return. The voice was laced with a great emotion to it, bursting with imminent joy and relief.

Ash just shook his head, not knowing anyone named John. Also, where did the voice just come from?

The man continued to scowl at Ash as he stood up from his seat. "Hearing voices I presume? Well, I suppose that's what you risk with those high level Psychic-types. I got six Pokéballs from a decently placing Hoenn trainer here, and he has one of those things. It and the rest of them might even fetch me more than these Scatterbug if I find the right buyer."

Scatterbug, so that was their names. Good to know. But what was a…..

"Scatterbug, the Scatter dust Pokémon. Scatterbug are native to the Kalos Region, and evolve into Spewpa then Vivillon. Scatterbug are comparatively rare compared to their fellow insects in other regions, but that is all relative in the fact that being rarer than a Caterpie is still quite common," the Pokédex spoke up as the man noted his talking pocket.

"A Pokédex. Well, well, perhaps you aren't just a nosy twerp. You're a nosy twerp who has something worth as much as half of these damn bugs here. For you see, I'm the infamous black market dealer, Felgrand, and I shall turn you into my profit!"

Ash and Pikachu just stared at the now identified Felgrand in confusion. Felgrand? Who named their kid Felgrand?

And what was with that corny line about turning him into profit?

The man seemed to notice the stares, and scowled further. "I'm from Orre, we have names like that in Orre! I mean really, to me you all have strange names. Brock, Koga, Agatha, those names are utterly bizarre! But enough on nomenclature. I'm one of the infamous Seven Brothers, or Six Brothers and the goody two-shoes. I trade in all manners of goods; stolen Pokéballs, rare Pokémon, even drugs and illegal minerals! I think I'll add Pokédexes to my supplies today."

"You'll have to pry me from the boy's cold, dead hands!" the Dex stated as Ash looked at it in a 'why' sort of way, before pointing his Pokéball right back at Felgrand.

"I don't plan on dying at all, so you're not going to take my Pokédex. I also won't let you take these Pokémon either!"

"I already did take them." Felgrand pointed out as Ash corrected himself.

"Even so, I won't let you sell them like some pirated DVD or something!"

"Pikapi." 'Ash, that was a lame boast,' Pikachu deadpanned, though outwardly he retained an 'I will fry the evil Felgrand' look to him.

'I would have to agree Not John' the voice spoke up again. 'That boast was quite pathetic. However, I would appreciate being freed.'

"Hem hem." Felgrand cleared his throat. “You don't know anything do you? Do you know how much money I made pirating blockbusters a few years back? I still curse Netflix for ruining that for me, but never mind that! As long as there is darkness in man's souls, a desire to obtain things denied and for cheap, Felgrand is a name that will never be out of work!" Felgrand promptly pulled a Great Ball out and threw it right at Ash. "Now, be buried!"

Sensing something incoming Ash and Pikachu burst as far out of the way of the Great Ball as possible. This was warranted when the ball exploded into an Onix, which crushed the space where Ash and Pikachu had been moments before.

"Pika!" 'He just tried to crush us with an Onix!'

Yes, yes he did. As the Onix began to rise up and look at Ash like something to be crush, Ash was quick to act.

'Pikachu, break the Scatterbug out and get those Pokéballs! I'll deal with the Onix!' Ash communicated mentally as he turned to the Onix's trainer for a nice bit of distraction. "Is that all? I'll be freeing all of these Pokémon, after I deal with you!"

"Oh really?" Felgrand questioned from his couch, having sat back down after throwing the ball "And what could you possibly have that could stop my Onix from stopping you?"

Felgrand got his answer when Ash threw out his Pokéball, releasing a blue turtle who knew exactly what to do when an Onix was around.

The Water Gun attack hit Onix square in the face, causing the great beast to be pushed back and groan loudly.

"Hey! No fair!" Felgrand complained "No using water on my Onix! Dragon Breath!"

As the great rock snake began charging up the attack, the brief thought of why Onix could even use that move in the first place crossed Ash's mind. But he could figure that out later.

"You tried to crush me with an Onix, you don't get to say I'm cheating. Dodge and use Water Gun again!"

"Squirtle!" 'Got it!'

As the hazy wind attack was avoided and another water attack hit Onix right on the rest, Felgrand continued to complain.

"This isn't a Gym battle kid, it's a fight! There are no rules, Slam Onix!"

"Well, if there aren't any rules nothing says I can't use water! Now Brine!"

The salty water attack struck Onix in the tail just as it attempted to swipe, causing the great beast to collapse.

"What!" Felgrand demanded as he returned his Onix, furious. "How did you defeat my Onix so quickly?!"

"Well, it's weak against Water as both a Rock-type and a Ground-type, so it's really weak against…." Ash explained, before Felgrand cut him off.

"Well then, taste something that isn't weak to Water!"

Another Great Ball was sent flying right at them, before bursting forth to reveal a large, brown Pokémon.

"Kanga!" With a glowing fist, the Kangaskhan struck Squirtle right in the chest.

Squirtle was sent flying into the air, though with a flip he managed to right himself and land on his feet.

"Squirtle Squir…tle?" 'Going to take more than that to beat…..wait, is that Kangaskhan missing something?'

Squirtle sounded confused about something, and now that Ash looked at the Normal-type, he couldn't help but feel something was off as well.

Something….slight.

"Kangaskhan, the Parent Pokémon. Kangaskhan are often depicted in media as always having young in the pouch, however that is not true. Such as in this Kangaskhan, if the Kangaskhan is not given the opportunity it will not be able to breed, and thus will not have a pouchling."

The Kangaskhan looked rather miffed at having that pointed out, and responded with another glowing fist.

However before the fist could hit, white fibers shot out from all sides and restrained the fist.

Felgrand turned in shock, having finally noticed the many broken cages, and the Scatterbugs that were now free to use String Shot as they desired.

And they desired to do so against the Kangaskhan attacking their savior, and as more were freed, several shots began to fire at their captor.

"Rhyhorn, blow this crap away!" He threw out a final Great Ball, releasing another dual type Pokémon, who promptly released a burst of grainy wind that battled away, before the beast began to prepare to charge at the Scatterbug.

"Squirtle!" Ash quickly called, and without anything more needing to be said Squirtle leapt over to fight off the Rhyhorn, even as Pikachu began to break the six Pokéballs out.

That of course left him to deal with the Kangaskhan, who was trying to punch him again.

Ash caught the punch with his own two hands.

The Kangaskhan gaped at him in surprise, likely wondering how on earth a human could do that. Felgrand himself hadn't noticed this, as he was too busy failing to beat Squirtle with his Rhyhorn.

Ash pushed the Kangaskhan back, causing the currently child-less mothering Pokémon to balance awkwardly on one foot. However she quickly managed to right itself, before charging at him head first.

Ash took the Headbutt head on, glowing orange as he made use of the very move that Misty had first seen back at the start.

Counter.

Kangaskhan was knocked back, falling to the ground.

Felgrand heard the thump, and turned to look at Ash in shock, his eyes quickly squinting in fury.

"What in the….what the hell did you do to my Kangaskhan? Your Pikachu and Squirtle are ruining me over here! Oh….I see. You are one of them, aren't you? A Bloodliner!"

He looked at Ash as one looked at something that was both disgusting, and dangerous.

"Well, isn't that just great: freaks are here too. And a male freak at that…I've only seen one other male of your kind boy: mostly it's a woman thing. Tell me, do you plan on taking over the world too?"

"No," Ash stated simply, but firmly.

"No? Well, we'll see how long that lasts." Tapping his belt three red lights shot out returning his defeated Pokémon, before he hit it again and releasing a smoke cloud.

Squirtle blasted the smoke away with a Water Gun Counter Shield, but when it cleared only the freed Scatterbug and the six Pokéballs remained.

….

Bursting down the hallway and into the locked room with a slam before stopping and breathing hard, Felgrand clenched his fists in frustration.

That damn kid beat him!

How did any damn kid get that strong?! That Squirtle was stronger than any Squirtle should have any right to be.

No matter…this wasn't the first time Felgrand ever faced trouble. He had survived prison, in Orre, he could recover from this disaster.

Even if he had to start small…..like after his first time dealing with a Bloodliner.

At least this boy didn't look like he was constantly thinking of ways to murder the people around him, though with them it was hard to tell.

"Wobb…" A cage currently playing host to a blue blob creature moaned as Felgrand turned to it.

"Well, you're a useless and pathetic thing, but you have to be worth at least two cents, right? I started from the bottom once, and then a second time after that, and I'll do so again!"

"Ya!"

"Ya, right….wait." Felgrand looked around the room, trying to figure out who had just spoken. "Who said that!?"

"Ya ya!"

Spinning on his heels Felgrand turned to the door, and froze as he saw it wide open.

A Yamask was floating in front of him, the Ghost having likely opened the door for….

"Prepare for Trouble, you have some nice stuff, for us I'm sure it is meant!"

"Make it double, though I'm not sure if the boss deals in hemp!"

"Now, you're coming with us. I doubt ya have a permit from the boss ta be operating here."

Oh shit.

…..

Twenty Scatterbug were now at Ash's feet, with Ash kneeling to look at them somewhat eye to eye as he asked a rather relevant question.

"So….what do I do with you?"

"Scatterbug are not native to Kanto. Assuming they don't starve to death or become a plague, they will probably be eaten by ravenous Pidgey swarms." The Pokédex offered up a few bits.

"Pika…." 'So, just chucking them out into the local park is a no go….I wonder….' Pikachu shook his head, before darting off and returning with a Pokéball from one of Felgrand's crates.

"Um…..I am pretty sure that is either stealing, or altering a crime scene. Both of which I am pretty sure are illegal." Ash pointed out, "Come to think of it…."

"Ash, do you have faith in your ability to lead the police back here? I can overwrite the Pokéballs from their blank state to being yours, just take them and leave the illegal stuff to rot away," the Pokédex noted bluntly. "Taking things left behind by people is a time honored trainer tradition."

Ash, a look of concern on his face as he stuck his hand into the Pokéball crate and picked one out, had one more thing to say before he began capturing the Scatterbug.

"Are you completely sure this won't get me arrested?"

"I have extensive legal data. You have precedent on your side."

The Scatterbug promptly made some chirping sounds, which caused Pikachu's ears to perk up, and in response translate for Ash.

"Pika." 'The Scatterbug are okay with it. They don't want to be captured like this again, though they do have a condition. They don't want to fight.'

One of the Scatterbug began to chirp loudly, at which point Pikachu corrected himself.

"Chu." 'Scratch that, most of them don't want to fight.'

"Of course. You don't have to do anything for me you don't want to do," Ash promised as he tapped the first Scatterbug on the head with a Pokéball.

The Scatterbug gave a thankful chirp as it was energized.

Ash repeated this pattern, sans questioning legality of it all, nineteen times. As the Pokéballs all teleported away Ash turned to the six Pokéballs that had been separate.

Squirtle and Pikachu looking on: Ash picked one of the balls out with a thoughtful look.

"This Pokéball's owner is no longer synced with it," the Pokédex noted. "Likely reason: death or legal problems. Would you like to claim this Pokémon as your own?"

"I'd….rather ask first. Pretty sure that's the polite thing to do." Ash observed, before throwing the ball into the air.

Mid-air the ball opened, releasing a flying yellow and black insect.

"Nin?"

It was a Ninjask, a Pokémon that had, in the past, always been used to attack him or his friends and Pokémon. That goon who worked for Kodai, that crazy Colonel guy from the Togepi Kingdom, and Paul.

It was probably not going to attack him…

"Ninjask, the Ninja Pokémon," the Pokédex stated interrupting him. "This Pokémon was the main Pokémon used by Ninja clans originating in Hoenn during the Ninja Wars from over four hundred years ago, this Pokémon moves so fast it cannot be easily seen. A poorly trained Ninjask lets out loud noises that make it fail at stealth."

"Ninja War?" Ash repeated, as one had to repeat any statement that involved the term 'Ninja War'.

"The fourth and final ninja war, specifically. It involved the now extinct Mahogany Ninja clans, the Fuchsia Ninja clans, the Kalos ninja…."

"Nin!" the Ninjask shouted, looking at Ash and buzzing around in distress. "Nin-Jask!"

"Um…." Ash wasn't sure what Ninjask was saying. Help me? Feed me? Do my taxes?

He really hoped it wasn't that last one.

"Pika….?" 'Um, Ash…..the Ninjask seems to think you're some guy named John.' Pikachu noted with notable concern, even as he sparked his cheeks threateningly at the Ninjask.

Squirtle similarly posed, ready to fight Ninjask if it tried something.

Ninjask was buzzing in front of him: rapidly moving around him as if looking him over at all angles.

"Nin! Ninjask! Nin!"

Pikachu shouted something back he would never say within earshot of his mother. That seemed to only anger Ninjask, as the bug looked ready to attack.

Tapping a Pokéball on his side, he released Snivy, who immediately fell in line with Pikachu and Squirtle's defensive actions.

"Okay, Ninjask may not be giving any clear answers, but what about…." Ash grabbed a second Pokéball from the group, "…this one?"

….

Several Pokéballs later and there was a six on five Pokémon stare-down between his Pokémon (Pikachu, Squirtle, Snivy, Charmeleon, Pidgeotto, and Butterfree), and the five Pokémon who kept thinking he was named John (Ninjask, Shedinja, Probopass, Altaria, and Flygon).

With only an eye that had an entire timeline to evaluate how well a Pokémon had been trained, and how strong said Pokémon was: Ash knew that if this broke out into a brawl he was going to have to run for a Pokémon Center with many severely injured Pokémon.

Ash held the last Pokéball, which he figured contained the Psychic-type that had managed to talk to him.

"Okay, hope you can give me some answers, and keep the peace…" Ash threw the Pokéball into the air.

It promptly burst into light, revealing a white Pokémon with green limbs and hair whose back was to him.

The Pokémon turned to him, and what he thought the Pokémon was became quite clear.

"Gardevoir, the Embrace Pokémon. Gardevoir are famous for becoming very close to their trainers, and have a higher than average ability to develop the ability to telepathically communicate with them or those with sensitivities to telepathic powers. Gardevoir react to people who threaten their trainers with powerful abilities. For more information on what happens if you threaten their trainers with lead pipes and knives, read Diantha's autobiography: Journey to Stardoms, Page 394."

The Gardevoir seemed to get the attention of the other five Pokémon, who seemed to be waiting for her reaction.

Much like how Pikachu did with his Pokémon.

So, he assumed she (the voice in his head was female) was the starter Pokémon.

Gardevoir looked him over, even as her face morphed into sadness and confusion.

'No, you aren't John'.

She leaned in closer to him, tilting her head around much like the others had. Pikachu gave a warning spark in his cheeks, which she respected and backed off.

'Yet, you look so much like him. Why is that?'

"Um, John who?" Ash questioned, "John's kind of a common name."

'Our trainer. His name is John Archer, a Hoenn League trainer. We haven't heard from him in…..' Gardevoir and the others looked, worryingly pensive 'Well, we don't know how long…..it's hard to really tell inside Pokéballs.'

"John Archer you say?" the Pokédex spoke up, catching Gardevoir off guard. Ash opened the blinking device, which displayed an image of someone his age.

Someone who looked a lot like him.

It was….incredibly unsettling. Like someone had taken an image of him, and changed it. Changed it only a little, but the many similarities clashed with those minute differences in eye color and hair shade, driving him to look at the image more and try and process the sheer question of, how?

"Free…." Butterfree fluttered over to get a better look and looked just as shocked as Ash did, a shock that was quickly shared among all gathered Pokémon. 'And I thought Red looked a lot like you….'

"John Archer: Hoenn League Trainer. In order, John Archer earned the Stone, Heat, Dynamo, Balance, Knuckle, Rain, Mind, and Feather Badges. His League placements are as follows: Top 32. John Archer lost to similar freshman trainer Tyson, who lost in the Top 16 to eventual winner Phoebe. John was found several months ago: dead…..."

The last statement caused Ash to drop the Pokédex in shock (ouch), but to Gardevoir….

To Gardevoir and the others who had been his…

'No, no….it can't be….he can't be….' Gardevoir got louder and louder as she began to freak out, in panic and denial. It was rather painful to listen to; both emotionally and in ways that required Tylenol.

"…examination determined the cause of death to be that he had been smothered in his sleep, with his Pokémon stolen during or after the deed," the Pokédex continued from the ground. "The thief of the Pokémon was eventually caught, who confessed John had been murdered by an unknown person who had paid him off with the now dead trainer's Pokémon, whom he sold on the Black Market. The only thing this now incarcerated ex-cleaner of a Pokémon Center gave on the person was what he called himself: an Emissary."

At the word 'murdered' his Pokémon's eyes seemed to all roll up, at least the ones with eyes, given that Shedinja did not visibly react: before collapsing as if they had just been hit by Cynthia's Garchomp.

The six thumps rang loudly through the silent room, as even the Pokédex remained quiet.

….

As the moon rose in the sky, Ash and Pikachu finally made it back to the Pokémon Center.

As the door opened and allowed their feet to step inside, they were immediately set upon.

"Finally, you're back!" Misty stated, sounding quite concerned. She looked him over, like she was his mother looking for evidence some bully had punched him for his lunch money. "Where have you been….I've been worried sick about you!"

"I got lost," Ash told her, the weight of the day in his voice. A combination of finding out about John Archer, and just how hard finding one's way through Celadon was.

"Well, I can't really blame you for it, seeing as we got lost as well today. Come, I saved you some food."

Ash's stomach loudly growled as she did, causing Ash to quickly thank her.

Pikachu's stomach also growled loudly.

"Don't worry, we still have some Pokémon food," Misty reassured the mouse.

…..

"Wait, you managed to get me a Gym battle!?"

At his loud statement Iris nodded, causing Ash to break out into a large grin, even momentarily forgetting about eating.

The grin did not mean he had forgotten what he had learned. He had not stopped thinking about what to do with the six Pokéballs of John Archer. The title of 'Emissary' did not leave his mind.

He had also not forgotten about his dinner, which he would of course finish eating.

However, those issues could not be solved immediately. He could have a long time to digest the questions of morality, or why he had now found about a second person who looked eerily like him.

The Gym battle, however, he could solve immediately.

Reaching forward, he embraced Iris in a hug. He felt Iris tense in surprise, though she did not seem ready to freak out.

"Thank you," he told her simply, which caused her to lose a lot of the tension. As he let her go, he turned to an oddly shocked looking Misty.

"Thanks, both of you. Probably going to hit the hay early: I'm too tired to train well, and I want to be well rested for it. Again though, I really can't thank either of you enough."

"You should be thanking Iris….all I did is save you some dinner," Misty said, somewhat sadly for some reason.

"Well, I did thank Iris: now I'm making sure to thank you," Ash told Misty as he returned to eating.

Pikachu, who had finished his own meal and had grown tired of watching Ash eat, noted that both of the girls were smiling after Ash's actions.

The day may have been long, and stressful at many points, but it had ended and all that needed to be done had been done, and more.

'Now, for tomorrow, and whatever that brings' Pikachu thought to himself, before yawning.


 

OMAKE

Ambiguously Canon

Ketchumerse Part 4

Earth 041516

"Why are we dressed like this?" Bloodliner Ash questioned his similarly black suited and shaded counterpart, who had insisted that he and Pikachu dress like they were part of the Men in Black or some such nonsense.

"Because we are undercover, we must be discreet as possible," Ash Bond explained with an accented tone, looking far more relaxed, comfortable, and intense in his suit.

"…..But we stand out like a sore thumb here, even if we weren't dressed like this," Ash pointed to the closest life form for emphasis.

Said life form, a gray Ponyta with wonky eyes, waved at them obliviously before wandering off somewhere.

"….Oh, I guess you have a point there. Well, let us waste no more time with subtly, there's a rogue Discord on this Rapidestria wanted by the Discord Continuum and we've been tasked with handling it as they are currently occupied with one of the other threats to that neck of the woods stealing some of their power, an Adiago I think the miscreants name was. The local Dash Ketchum is currently sick and unable to provide aide, so it's up to us!" Ash Bond declared as he reached for and threw a Pokéball.

Out burst an oddly large Pyroar whose mane looked like what he had heard called a Union Jack by others, which Ash Bond promptly jumped and dashed away on.

"Tally Ho! Oh, by the way, if you see anything lime green with a harp around, do avoid her!"

"Pika?" 'What's a Discord. again?' Pikachu questioned, even as he fought the inexplicable urge to sing a song about his question.

"So what, lime green is evil or something?" Ash honestly wondered.

"Pika…." 'So, we basically avoid lime green and we won't be hurt. Makes sense I guess….'

….

The sky was raining chocolate milk from strawberry pink clouds as music sang out from every plant in the forest.

And the music was all about something called a Digimon.

Also the chocolate milk exploded, costing Ash his warranty on the tux.

"Alright that's it, Goodra Rain Dance!"

Sending out his purple blob dragon, the mighty beast roared and sent to the sky the powers of proper water to dispel the chocolate menace!

…..It then began raining acorns instead, pelting the three of them.

"Ow!"

"Pi!" 'Curse word from Earth 111115 that the Author wishes not to write…..It isn't just lime green that is dangerous here!'

"Dra!" 'What just happened!?'

…..

Bursting out of a field of sunflowers that were all burning with pink flames, Ash, Pikachu, and Kingler were all laughing hysterically, even though Ash was now down to just his white boxers and his right shade.

The three of them also looked like they were about to pass out from lack of oxygen and looked terrified even as they laughed.

Thankfully a Machamp promptly slapped all of three of them upside the head, and the laughing stopped.

As the three wheezed, desperate for oxygen again Ash Bond returned the Machamp, now dressed in a red military uniform with an oversized and fluffy black hat.

"…..The Discord is being very difficult," he explained simply.

"You….don't…..say….!"

"We are going to need a different strategy."

"Yeah, I'm sure you can lure a Discord with Sweet Scent, maybe a Pokéblock," the Pokédex snarked even as Ash Bond removed a Pokéblock case.

"My thoughts exactly, now did you happen to spy some chaos berries while you were lost? This Discord leaves them wherever he goes; he bakes them in a pie with the souls of innocent children and the heart of an Ash, a Picard, or a Twilight Sparkle when he is bored with a world and ready to blow it up: they have polka-dots, breathe out high quality bricks with Finnish accents, and occasionally dance the jiggy….."

"Yeah, take a left at the apple farm floating in the sky, and punch the sparklemoose, they're be on the right," Ash groaned in a tone that made it clear he did not want to go anywhere near the sparklemoose.

…..

The twitching Master Ball radiated chaos, annoyance, and a hint of lemon as the two Ashes returned to base, all three rather exhausted. Ash Bond now had blond hair and a goatee for some reason and was dressed like a woodsy archer type, Bloodliner Ash was now dressed in a Star Fleet Redshirt with flashing neon lime-green shoes, and Pikachu had a mustache that was glowing lime green.

"….Well, that was something. Let send this thing off to be friendship beamed and let us hope to never have to deal with this sort of thing again."

Ash meanwhile was just wondering how he was going to explain the shoes back home.


 

Omake 2

Non-Canon

Further Noting of the Original Author's ideas with my own twists

Earth 050516

"Ha ha, ha ha, a back a home I come! Ha ha, ha ha..." A wing knocked in the back of the head, even as his Talonflame fluttered past him. "Oh come on, my singing isn't that bad!" Ash Ketchum, Age classified, and his mighty champions of Kalos: Pikachu, Greninja, Talonflame, Hawlucha, Noivern, and Goodra who came back to his aide for the League, walked down the road to Pallet Town in overall high spirits, even with the wing whap.

For they had won Kalos! It had taken a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and preventing another world ending disaster, but he had finally done it. Winning the League had been a lot of work, and now Ash was ready to go home, celebrate, and prepare for the challenges to come. The Champion League was waiting, and he had things to do to prepare for it. He had to train, he had to plan, he might even have to find a Key-stone and a few mega stones. Perhaps Professor Oak might have an idea of where he could find some. That is, assuming his mother did not lock him in his room for that Prism Tower thing...

"And I say it is tradition! We can't change it now!"

"But we must! We said we would always name our town after the best trainer from it, and he's no longer the best! The boy is!"

"And change my stationary! Never! It would be more economical to kill the boy!"

"Hey, no killing him! His mother is the only restaurant owner in town, I hate microwave food!"

"And I'm turning, I'm turning, we are not going anywhere near that and I don't want to know!" Ash stated loudly as he and his merry band changed course from his house, to the lab. Sure his mother would be annoyed at that, but she'd rather not have him involved in town politic drama.

...

"...Wait, what about naming the town after me!?" At Ash's astonished stare, a face matched by all his present Pokémon (His Kalos team, and all his other Pokémon who were able to squeeze into Oak's sitting room), Professor Oak shook his head.

"About a century ago my father, Pallet Oak (Pallet Oak?) managed to become the most famous trainer ever to come from Pallet Town. He was ranked 921st of the 10,000 best in the world. So, they renamed Pallet Town in his honor. Now that the list was finally updated after the great red-tape crisis during your journey here in Kanto, you are now ranked the 683rd trainer in the entire world. So there is serious debate about changing our name to reflect that."

"A town named after me..." Ash's face briefly looked diabolical, before Pikachu gave him a 'bad Ash' shock. Cured of his brief ego trip Ash was promptly handed the updated list and looked it over.

"So, who are these other 682 guys?" Looking up and down the list he mumbled some names he spotted as he did so in no particular order "Cynthia, Alder, Diantha, Brandon, Tucker, Palmer, Drake, Drake the older guy, Solidad, Johanna, Zoey, Tobias, Virgil, Cameron..."

At the last name Snivy, Oshawott, Pignite, Unfezant, Boldore, and Pikachu suddenly broke out into loud shouting. With alarmed looks Bulbasaur and several other gathered Pokémon started to back away from them nervously, and Hawlucha and Talonflame covered Noivern's ears as if to block out what they were saying.

"...If it helps, according to the numbers you can overcome this Cameron person by winning at least 20 battles with a 85% win percentage by next year," The Professor offered nervously. Noting his still ranting Unova mons, Ash quickly asked if there were any limitations: did he have to go and find some badass tough people on top of mountains, or could he just go see if that Samurai was still around and introduce him to Talonflame and Staraptor. Pidgeot was due to visit in a few days, she might have spotted him on the way in

Chapter Text

Ash and Pikachu stared at the Exeggcute.

Misty stared at the Exeggcute.

Iris stared at the Exeggcute, though she quickly resumed eating the scrambled eggs in front of her.

Exeggcute did not seem to mind the eggs being eaten in front of it though, instead it gestured to the envelope in its clutch.

"Exe!"

Gulping down an entire glass of orange juice, Ash reached for said envelope and opened it up, revealing a grass mail loaded with a fancy script.

Ash Ketchum,

This Exeggcute will teleport you and your friends to my Gym for the battle today: I don't feel like dealing with you by the technicality of you being late.

I prefer to beat my opponents with my own skills, not by the horror that is traffic congestion. Honestly they need to finish those subway repairs….

If you do not prompt him, Exeggcute will take you to the Gym 5 minutes before the battle begins Please don't be showering when my Exeggcute does this, or I will be forced to handle your nudity with any clothing I have on hand: by that of course I mean women's clothing.

Gym Leader Erika

"Well, I suppose that's something," Ash observed, really hoping he wasn't going to have to cross dress.

"Wonder if the other Gym Leaders are this bad?" Misty wondered out loud. "I mean Brock was a normal enough guy, but Lt. Surge was a few eggs short of an Exeggcute…."

Exeggcute glared at Misty, clearly not approving of the pun. Misty gave the Egg Pokémon an apologetic look before continuing.

"….and my sisters…..well, makes you wonder doesn't it?"

Ash put a ponderous finger to his chin, wondering what the other Gym Leaders might be want.

"You must prove yourself worthy of entering my Gym, by completing this riddle!" His Mental Blaine declared holding up a sheet of paper with a riddle on it, said riddle was radiating evil aura like it had just come out of a Dark Ball.

"If you want to fight in my Gym, you've got to be in shape!" Mental Chuck slapped his belly hypocritically. "For that, you've got to beat my Machoke in a thumb war!" Behind Chuck, his Machoke flexed its thumbs threateningly.

"Pokémon is 90% battling, 9% luck, and 1% smarts," Mental Roxanne told him, a ruler in hand. "I can test you on the 99%, but you really do need to show me your smarts first. Now, this is a 100 question multiple choice test. If you don't pass, you will not battle me." The test gave off a similar aura to Mental-Blaine's riddle.

"I. Love. FOSSILS!" Mental-Byron exploded in enthusiasm. "And I only accept challengers who can prove they love FOSSILS as much as I do! Now, hug all of my FOSSILS!" Behind him, the fossils extended on and on in to a seemingly endless hallway.

"I'd love to battle you, but one of my models is out sick today…" Mental-Elesa pouted, holding out a fashion ensemble that would probably make May and Dawn both froth with rage, which too glowed with an evil aura. "I need you to fill in for him, kay?"

He promptly shook his head, trying not to think about the possible horrors any more than he had to.


 

Viridian Gym

The last four to have challenged him were of pitiful skill: how they managed to make themselves worthy of facing him when a 'by the book, no exceptions' inspector was not around bewildered him.

One did seem like he could be, obtainable at least. He sent some of his smooth talkers to the boy's room.

Nothing major though, getting him in his organization would not warrant bribes of money, access, or rare goods.

He couldn't bribe him with women of the night though, Team Rocket did not work in that field. Too traceable in his opinion.

However this challenger…

"Golem is unable to battle!" a lackey of his declared, sadly having to be fair or he'd get a bit of unwarranted attention his way, as he returned his Golem while sat on his shaded throne.

A Lapras, her third Pokémon after a Pidgeot and Butterfree, bellowed in triumph.

The trainer was a young female named Solidad.

She had fought his Bloodliner a while back and had beaten that idiot in Vermillion earlier. She did possess talent, quite a lot of it.

From what he understood she was going to waste it on flashy visuals and playing dress up with the overly feminine and the metrosexuals, and sadly he doubted he could get her to see things his way and thus not waste her talents.

But crimes of waste aside, he had battles to fight.

"Not bad, not bad at all. It is rare that trainers chose to fight me. It is even rarer that they make me want to stand from my chair."

"However…now that I am standing." Lifting himself from his chair, he held his winning Pokémon in his hands. "You will lose. Go!"

Throwing the ball down, it exploded into a burst of light, revealing his most powerful Pokémon.

"PERIOR!" It bellowed, a mighty beast of rock and earth.

"I've never seen that Pokémon…." Solidad mumbled to herself, before resolving herself. "It doesn't matter. I'll be winning this one. Lapras use Ice Beam!"

With an open mouth, Lapras shot out a shockwave of pale white right at Rhyperior. It looked rather powerful.

How pedestrian though, an Ice Beam.

"Rhyperior….Hammer Arm."

Roaring with a glowing arm, Rhyperior charged into the ice attack, shattering it like it was nothing.

Solidad and Lapras both looked like they had just seen something beyond possibility. He so loved that look.

The Hammer Arm slammed into Lapras, before sending the rare Pokémon flying into the wall, with an audible crack.

Shell damage, from what he had read about among Lapras hunters. It would take a considerable amount of time for the damage to completely disappear though Lapras would be battle ready again in a few months.

"No, Lapras!"

"Lapras is unable to battle! The winner is the Gym Leader, Giovanni!"

Smirking, Giovanni returned Rhyperior and retook his seat.

Potential, yes. But not power, not yet.

Still, she was a worthy test for his most important asset though, and she could probably take out most of his high ranked minions.

Pity she was too traceable to eliminate then. But sadly in this world, one could not simply kill anyone one wanted anytime one wanted. One had to plan it extensively or ensure they wouldn't be missed. Concoct cover stories for cover stories, research the target's background to figure out the most convenient form of 'accidental' death and of course bribes to the relent authorities to make sure nothing is looked at too closely. All in all sentencing someone to death could be such a tiring and complicated affair.


 

Celadon City

The time came, and Ash and company found themselves teleported into a greenhouse, where a chalk battlefield had been painted in the grass.

Erika was waiting for them, looking over an I-Pad, though she did look up as they came in and her Exeggcute bounced off into the garden somewhere.

"Oh good, you have pants."

Ash did not respond to that statement, it sounded more like she was just messing with him anyway. Though he did have to fight the urge to look down and check.

"So…..Pikachu? Butterfree, Pidgeotto….all the starter Pokémon in Kanto….you certainly have an interesting collection," Erika observed, suggesting that she was using that I-Pad to look over his stats (which he apparently had).

"It happens." Ash shrugged, Pikachu managing to roll with the shrug as he was well practiced.

"When I have the time, I do like to give my opponents a glance over, I find it helps me put things into context." Erika sheathed the I-Pad and set it down on the grass as she began walking towards the Gym Leader's end of the field.

"I'm not sure if you are aware, but many Pokémon Leagues offer trainers the same privilege. Knowledge is both a weapon for the opponent, and a weakness. Many challengers have lost because they didn't look up their opponents Pokémon, or did not know about a secret weapon."

"You know what Pokémon Ash has, but he does not know any of your Pokémon?" Iris questioned as Erika smirked.

"Oh but he does, I have Grass-Pokémon."

Gloom, Tangela, etc.

"A trainer also needs to know how to improvise, doesn't he, or she I suppose? What trainer would I be if I wasn't able to battle Pokémon I'm not expecting?" Ash pointed out.

Erika actually smiled at that one. "Well said. Glad to see you are using your actual head. Now, let us get started: your friends may have a seat wherever they want."

"Good luck Ash," Misty told him resting a hand on his arm before as she and Iris took a seat on the grass leaving Ash to go to his end of the battlefield.

"Does a four-on-four battle sound good to you?" Erika questioned.

"Four on four?" He hadn't had a Gym battle like that since…Candice. Wow, that was a long time ago, if he measured time in Gym Battles (given his lack of any other metric)

Did Unova have a law about more than three Pokémon in a Gym battle or something on the Leader's end?

"Is that a problem?"

"No, it's no problem at all," Ash confirmed.

A young, short looking woman with blond hair walked to the middle outside of the field.

"The Gym battle between Ash, the Challenger, and Erika, the Gym Leader, will now begin! Each trainer will have the use of four Pokémon, and the Gym battle will be over when either side is no longer able to continue. No substitutions are allowed, if you call your Pokémon back it can't return to battle later on. The Gym Leader will open."

"Very well Krista, I shall." Erika removed a Pokéball from her belt and threw it into the air.

The ball burst open, revealing a creature made of both flesh and leaves.

"Leaf!"

"Leafeon, the Verdant Pokémon. Leafeon is an Eeveelution, and one long rumored in Kanto for years prior to a noble's daughter taking her Eevee into a forest. Leafeon is surrounded by clean air and has been used in large cities for air purification projects," the Pokédex offered.

"Leafeon huh…." Ash was expecting something a bit more Belly or Tangled, but this would do.

"Butterfree, I choose you!"

Throwing his own ball, his first capture came out with fluttering wings.

"Begin!"

"Butterfree, use Silver Wind!" Ash called as Butterfree began flapping his wings, sending a storm of silvery powder right at Leafeon.

"Cut through it with Aerial Ace!" Erika countered. Leafeon gave an affirmative yowl as it jumped into the air, spinning as its forehead leaf and tail glowed blue.

The spin attack cut through the Silver Wind like it was nothing, before landing back on the ground with such grace Ash nearly checked for a contest scoreboard out of habit.

He could almost hear himself losing points.

"It appears your opponent has blast processing," the Pokédex quipped. Ash had no idea what that was supposed to mean.

"Hidden Power!" Erika snapped Ash out of his confusion as a light blue ball formed in front of Leafeon's face and was sent at Butterfree.

"Blast through with Psybeam!"

Ash's command was heard as Butterfree's eyes glowed and fired.

The two attacks met in the middle, with the Psybeam winning out and striking Leafeon.

The Verdant Pokémon was sent skidding back, though it did not seem overly harmed.

"Leafeon…" Erika cautiously asked her Pokémon, even as the Eeveelution gave an affirmative mewl of 'I can still win this easily, hands down, and with one paw tied.'

"Very well! Now use…." Erika was cut off before she could finish as she just….

"Zzzz…."

Ash, Butterfree, Misty, Iris, Leafeon, and all visitors just stared at the now slumbering Gym Leader in either 'what the….' Or 'not now….'

Erika woke up a few seconds later, looking somewhat dazed.

"….Oh yes, Leafeon use Aerial Ace!" Leafeon nodded as its head and tail started glowing blue once more.

"Use String Shot….."

As Butterfree began to spew out string, Erika shook her head.

"Do you really think my Leafeon can't cut through a few threads?"

Leafeon did in fact cut through them with ease, even as Ash grinned.

"…then Silver Wind!"

The string spitting stopped as the dust storm followed, the string shot pieces around Leafeon being covered in the bug-powered particles and slammed right into it.

"No, Leafeon!" Erika cried out as her Pokémon was sent tumbling back from an enhanced super-effective attack.

"Great job Butterfree!" Ash cheered, a sentiment shared by Pikachu (Pika!)

"Free!" 'It's not over yet.'

Butterfree was proven correct as Leafeon began to stand up again on shaky legs.

"Well, I don't think you can win this battle Leafeon, but you can win the match here. Leafeon…" Erika began.

Ash, having horrible visions of some sort of grass type move that was Stealth Rock and Sticky Web's nightmare child, was not going to have it.

"Quickly, use Psybeam!"

"….use Rain Dance, heavy misting!"

"Rain Dance?" Ash repeated, not sure what that was supposed to do, other than delay Charmeleon.

Leafeon reared its head into the air, yowling as a heavy band of what Ash could only describe as 'wetness' covered the field like some sort of haze.

Wherever this wetness reached, everything around it got soaked.

The Psybeam was unaffected, and it still hit Leafeon and knocked it out.

However, the wetness had reached Butterfree, soaking him to the bone (if he had any) and….

"Free!" 'My wings…..!'

Butterfree found his wings starting to seize up, the additional weight from the water interfering with his ability to stay airborne.

He quickly began to lose altitude, before crashing to the ground, his wings sodden to a point of uselessness.

"What just…..what is going on!?" Ash questioned in shock.

"I didn't know you could use Rain Dance like that." Misty was surprised. She had never heard of anyone using Rain Dance as some sort of….attack?

"Leafeon is unable to battle, the winner is the challenger's Butterfree!" the referee Krista declared as Erika returned Leafeon.

She quietly thanked it, before taking out another Pokéball.

"So Ash, how do you like my new Rain Dance? I like to call it, the Ultimate Grass-Protection Technique. Do you like the sound of it?"

"The Ultimate….?" Ash asked as Erika grinned wickedly.

"Grass-types have the most weaknesses of any Pokémon that are not made of stone. However, these vulnerabilities all have one weakness: water. It puts out fires, dilutes poison, dampens wings to a point of uselessness, and either melts or binds ice to the floor. Your Butterfree is crippled, your Charmeleon and Pidgeotto sealed. Your Fire-Pokémon can't ignite here, and I wouldn't suggest your Pidgeotto fly in this weather. Now, to deal with the rest of your Pokémon. Go, Tangrowth!"

The second ball was thrown, revealing the massive vine Pokémon.

"Growth!" It declared, and based on Pikachu's eyes narrowing at it he suspected what was said was not friendly.

"Tangrowth, the Vine Pokémon and the evolution of Tangela. Tangrowth's body is mostly made of vines, which can be cut off with no damage. Tangrowth's interior body is unknown," the Pokédex offered as the battle resumed.

"Tangrowth, use Knock Off!" Erika declared. The red tips of Tangrowth's arms glowed black as they swung right at the downed Butterfree.

"Cut the arms off with Psybeam!" Ash called, noting the Pokédex's comments. Butterfree nodded, wing still flapping pitifully.

The beam shot forth, slicing both arms off Tangrowth. The arms landed at the edge of the field, damp and rapidly browning.

Tangrowth ended the attack, but looked none the worse for wear as the arms grew back.

"Shock Wave!"

"Wait, Shock Wave?" Ash questioned, shocked as he heard the command.

The blue electricity formed in Tangrowth's regrown arms, before being fired right at Butterfree.

The electric attack hit Butterfree straight on, letting off only to allow Butterfree to collapse in defeat on the sodden ground.

"Butterfree is unable to battle, the winner is Tangrowth," Krista declared to cheering from the other side of the field.

Ash returned Butterfree, even as he looked at the still damp fighting area.

"Thank you," Ash told Butterfree as he returned him to his belt, now quite stuck.

What was he to do now?

"Pikapi." 'Ash, all the water should help me fight.' Pikachu offered to go out and handle the fight. 'It conducts electricity, and that Tangrowth is as wet as a Magikarp.'

"Maybe later buddy. I think she's expecting me to do that," Ash told him as he took out another Pokéball. "Here's hoping we can wait it out."

"No, you can't," Erika informed him, gesturing towards the soaked field. "I trained my Leafeon's Rain Dance to be highly energy efficient, the water lingers in the air instead of falling to the earth. It won't burn out for quite some time."

Dang.

Well, he'd have to tough it out then, even if that meant Charmeleon and Pidgeotto had to sit out for now. Oh, he could feel Charmeleon fume over that thought now….

"Go, Ambipom!"

Spinning mid-air, Ambipom landed on the ground and grimaced as she felt the soggy ground, even as her fur noticeably dampened.

"Begin!"

"Tangrowth, use Focus Blast!" Erika went for the early kill as a glowing orb was formed between Tangrowth's tentacles.

"Block it with a Counter Shield!"

"A what!?" Erika questioned as Ambipom jumped into the air, before spinning and releasing a Swift attack in the formation of a giant shield.

The Focus Blast struck the Counter-Shield, and the small fragments of the once proud attack were sent flying back at Tangrowth.

"Oh, that's a Counter-Shield then, not bad. Tangrowth, block it!"

"Tang!" The vine monster declared as its body began to grow thinner. The vines retracted from the main body, before reforming in the arms, which thickened.

This shield promptly took the Counter-Shield, to minimized damage. The arms deflated as regular density was returned to Tangrowth.

Ash gritted his teeth, an act mirrored by Ambipom and Pikachu as the attack failed.

"Hmm, you and your Pokémon sync quite well." Erika commented as she noted their shared frustration.

"Now use Vine Whip!" Tangrowth responded to Erika's command with extending arms.

"Block it with Power-up Punch!" Ash countered as Ambipom's tails glowed orange.

The two extended limbs began colliding in a rapid fury of strikes, the punches having more power but the whips being more flexible as to avoid serious damage.

"Ambi, ambi, ambi!"

"Tang, tang, tang!"

The grunts of the Pokémon were all that vocalized in the Gym as the two moves continued their collision. It was a stalemate, and would remain so until one side gave it.

Ash decided to make the first attempt to break it.

"Ambipom, launch yourself into the air, then use Double Hit!"

"Ambi!" 'Got it!' With one final harsh shove of Power-up Punch, Ambipom's fists turned purple and smashed the wet ground, sending Ambipom into the air above Tangrowth, before launching both tails right at Tangrowth.

Both tails collided with Tangrowth's central mass, striking the great beast and nearly causing Tangrowth to tip over. With flailing limbs and effort though, the massive Grass-type managed to avoid falling over though.

"Tangrowth! Quickly, fire a Shock Wave!"

Ambipom didn't have much time to prepare as she landed on the ground, before getting a solid electrical blast to the chest.

"Ambipom!" Ash shouted in concern as the attack ended, leaving only some singed fur behind.

Both evolutions that Ash had first seen during Sinnoh glared at one another, a shared eagerness to win glowing in both of their eyes.

This glow was mirrored in both their trainers.

"Your Ambipom is well trained, but it won't matter! Tangrowth, grab Ambipom!"

"Get out of the way!" Ash shouted as Tangrowth's arms shot out and bound around Ambipom like a rope, preventing any such escape as they pulled Ambipom towards it like a rope.

"Now," Erika declared. "Shock Wave