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    Default Pokémon: Like No One Ever Was

    If @Legacy; will pardon the title.

    Welcome, friends, to my new fan fiction project. In these pages you will find a familiar story, though perhaps told differently than what you are used to. Please, do enjoy my reworking of Ash's story, and make sure to let me know what you think.

    Chapter One: Dawn of a New Era! Pokémon, I Choose You!


    “ASH BRYANT KETCHUM, YOU WAKE UP THIS INSTANT!”

    Ash Ketchum, a boy of sixteen, bolted upright in his bed, and promptly tumbled out of it. He sat up, rubbing the shoulder he landed on and blinked the sleep out of his eyes. He could just make out the silhouette of his mother standing in the doorway, with her arms, he guessed, crossed.

    “Ash, do you have any idea what time it is!?” she demanded, crossing her arms.

    “What do you mean? My alarm hasn't gone off yet,” Ash answered, turning to look at his alarm clock. Except it wasn't there. Not yet comprehending the full meaning of this, Ash began to look around the room for it, his gaze darting here and there, until he located the red and white remains of what once was an alarm clock in the shape of a Poké Ball. It was quite totally obliterated, apparently having been tossed across the room, shattering against the corner of the wooden dresser at the opposite end of the room.

    “Ash, I have been calling for you all morning long. I thought you'd already left for Professor Oak's! It's already ten o'clock!”

    “Ten o'clock!?” Ash said, leaping to his feet. “Oh man, I'm so late, so late! Gary's never gonna let me live this down!”

    While Delia Ketchum turned and shut the door, Ash hurriedly dressed himself and threw his backpack on. It had been packed the previous night; Delia had gone over and over the list she'd written up for her son, and Ash had had to endure her onslaught of questions. An extra set of clothes? Yes. Underwear? Yes. Toothbrush? Yes. Toothpaste? Yes. Toilet paper? Yes. Raincoat? Yes. Tent? Yes. Blanket? Yes. Food? Geez, Mom, yes.

    So it was when Ash hurtled down the stairs much faster than was wise, grabbed a few slices of toast and bacon, and wolfed those down, also much faster than was wise, and sprinted out the door and down the street.

    Despite Ash's physical preparations over the past few months, however, the weight of his backpack soon brought his sprint down to a run, then to a jog, and then to a slow, tired walk. “So this... is the result... of all that running,” he said to himself, panting. Step by step he continued, determined to make it to Professor Oak's laboratory, which, unfortunately for him, was located on the outskirts of Pallet Town.

    Though Pallet Town was rather small, especially compared to the nearby and massive Viridian City, where the school-age children of Pallet were bused to each day, the distance was rather daunting, especially at the late hour, with the sun rolling ever higher in its arc across the sky. It was late May, after all, and the weather had been rather warm as of late.

    That, of course, was when Delia pulled up alongside him in her car. “Get in the car, I'll drive you the rest of the way,” she said through the open window. So Ash climbed into the car, setting his backpack at his feet on the floorboard, and they passed the rest of the ride in a repetitive conversation, consisting of Delia asking if her son was sure he wanted to go through with this, and Ash insisting that he was.

    The ride was short, however, and they arrived at Oak Laboratories in a few minutes. Delia remained in the car, having decided that it was Ash's show now. It was his responsibility to choose his own Pokémon, and she would have no part in it.

    Ash, of course, was relieved that his mother would not be following him into the lab. That was, until he ran into a rather large crowd grouped around none other than Professor Oak's own grandson, Gary. Several of their schoolmates were gathered around him, tugging at his black button-up shirt in vain attempts to get his attention.

    Ash directed his own attention up the sidewalk toward the entrance to the laboratory. Of course, Gary caught sight of him above the crowd and called out, “Well, well, if it isn't old Ashy-boy. It's about time you got here! We've been waiting!”

    Ash huffed, stuck his hands in his pockets, and reluctantly turned toward Gary. “What do you want, Gary?”

    “I just wanted to see what Pokémon you pick! Of course,” Gary snickered, “that is, if you had a choice!” He began to laugh, and so did the rest of the crowd gathered around him.

    Ash growled, turned, and stormed up the sidewalk and into the labs.

    Upon entering, however, Ash entirely forgot about Gary, and instead, his mind was filled with wonder at the interior of the building. Oak Laboratories was, as usual, the most modern building in all of Pallet Town, though saying so did the facility little justice. The entry room resembled the waiting room of a doctor's office, with plain cushioned seats arranged in groups around coffee tables covered in various magazines, as well as a counter, behind which sat a secretary, with whom Ash signed in. The true wonders, however, were in the next room, Ash discovered as he was ushered through a door by the secretary.

    The building appeared much bigger on the inside, with high ceilings and scientists working at different stations. High-tech readouts displayed information such as the current weather, geological activity, and the locations of tagged Pokémon. Professor Oak, a rather stocky man from a wealthy family, approached Ash with a rather stern expression on his face.

    “You're very late, Mr. Ketchum,” he said.

    “I know, Professor,” Ash said, looking down at his feet. “I'm sorry.”

    Oak sighed. “Well, it cannot be helped at this point, I suppose. Come with me.” The Professor, wearing his white lab coat and khakis, led Ash between rows of tables and through a door to a smaller room with yellow walls. In the center of this room was a cylindrical object, about half a meter in diameter, and twice that in height. There were three domes spaced evenly around the top, each accompanied by a gray button.

    “All right, Professor, I've made my choice,” Ash said, reaching toward one of the buttons and pressing it. “I choose Char-”

    The dome split and retracted down inside the cylinder. There was enough space for a Poké Ball inside, but it was empty.

    Ash frowned. “Okay, then, I guess Gary took that one. I choose Squirt-”

    The next chamber was empty, too.

    Ash furrowed his brow. “I didn't realize there was another person helping you with your research, Professor. Well, I'll take B-”

    The last chamber was also empty.

    “Ash, do you see now the consequences of your irresponsibility? When your mother worked here, helping me around the lab, back before the funding came in, she woke up very early every morning to start her day. And you can't even be here by nine o'clock,” Oak said, crossing his arms.

    Ash looked flabbergasted. “You can't really mean- I mean, it's not- Professor, there's gotta be another way! I gotta do this!”

    Oak frowned. “I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I simply cannot tolerate such tardiness. Ash, I accepted your application as a favor to your mother. I know she's having a hard time right now, business is slow at the cafe, I understand, and she can hardly afford to keep you fed as it is right now. So I was willing to give you your own rare Pokémon to set out on a journey with, provide you with plenty of money for Poké Balls, lodging, and food in order to collect more Pokémon for my research, and you show up an hour late. Did you know Gary was wanting to start at the same time as you? My own grandson has been waiting for an entire hour, just for you, while the other two have been off and might be halfway to Viridian by now.”

    Ash looked down at his feet again. “I'm sorry, Professor. It wasn't my fault. My alarm broke, y'see, and-”

    “I wasn't done,” Oak continued, cutting Ash off. “As I was saying, it would be very hard for me to disappoint the two of them. Luckily for you, I have a fourth rare Pokémon that I may be willing to give you.”

    Ash's face immediately brightened. “Really? Thank you so much, Professor Oak!”

    “You're perfectly welcome, Ash. I'm warning you, though,” Oak said, as he reached into his pocket and produced a Poké Ball, of the regular red-and-white design except for a small yellow lightning bolt sticker, “this one is much harder to handle than the other three.”

    “That's no problem with me, Professor!” Ash said, taking the ball. “Come on out!”

    Ash pressed the white button on the front of the tiny metallic sphere with the tip of his middle finger and pointed it toward the floor. From the ensuing flash of light, a tiny yellow rodent Pokémon appeared, with large black-trimmed ears, a flag-shaped black tail, and pink cheeks. The tiny Pokémon pouted, crossing its arms and staring up at Ash with obvious disdain.

    “Ash, meet Pichu,” Oak said.

    “Oh, it's so cute, Professor!” Ash said, stooping to pick up his new companion. The moment Ash made contact with Pichu, however, a bright electric spark arced between his fingers, sending him sprawling backwards onto his backside.

    “Ow! Hey, little guy, that hurt!” Ash grumbled, picking himself up off the tiled floor. Pichu crossed its tiny arms and turned away. “Oh, come on, Pichu.”

    “Ash, I warned you. Maybe it'd be best to put it in its Poké Ball until you have your first battle. Maybe then Pichu will come to obey you,” Oak suggested.

    “Uh, right. Pichu, come back,” Ash said, pressing the button on Pichu's Poké Ball again. There was another flash of light, and Pichu disappeared again.

    Ash rose to his full height again. Professor Oak put his hand on the boy's shoulder. “Ash, I know it's been hard for you and Delia, but we're both proud of the man you're growing up to be. You're a lot like your father, you know.”

    Ash crossed his arms, frowned, and averted his eyes. “I don't want to be anything like him.”

    “Ash... I know why you're going out there. I sincerely do hope you find him. But don't forget your duty to me. I still need you to capture as many Pokémon as you can. With the four of you out there, maybe we can find and record every Pokémon that appears in the Kanto region. That's my dream, and it's something I've worked hard on since I was a young man. I want to know how they react to humans. How humans and Pokémon forge their intricate bonds. And I think that, with you four out there, we'll find out in no time at all. And, I hope, that while you're out there fulfilling my dream, you'll fulfill yours, too,” Oak said.

    “Thanks, Professor,” Ash said, still looking at the ground. “I'll be going now.”

    “Hold on a second,” Oak said, turning to a small side-table. He opened a drawer and produced a small, rectangular device made of some red plastic material. “This is your Pokédex, registered in your name. In it, you will find a wealth of information about almost all the Pokémon you will encounter on your journey, and maybe, you'll be able to record some new information to go into the next update. Anything you find will be transmitted to me automatically. It will also notify you when you enter close proximity to other Pokédexes, and serve as your official trainer's license.” He reached into the other pocket, and pulled out a small white card with blue lettering. “And this is your official Oak Laboratories company credit card. Remember only to buy necessities- you'll hardly need the extra in your travels. And this should be enough Poké Balls to keep you going for a while.” Oak held the card and Pokédex together in one hand and grabbed a small plastic bag full of Poké Balls and held them out as well.

    Ash looked the Professor in the eye, finally smiled, and took the items, placing the Poké Balls in his backpack and the other two objects in his pockets. “Thanks.”

    Ash turned and stepped through the door. “Good luck!” Oak called out from behind him.

    *****


    Much to Ash's chagrin, when he stepped outside of the building, he found Gary still waiting outside, with their classmates standing shoulder-to-shoulder behind him across the path. “Well, well. It's about time you picked something!” Gary began to laugh, and so did the rest of the teenagers behind him.

    “Oh, yeah, I picked something all right,” Ash said, glaring at Gary. He grabbed Pichu's Poké Ball from his waist and held it out straight.

    Gary leaned forward slightly, his eyes widening, before he leaned back into his regular posture, crossed his arms, and smirked. “So Gramps had a Pokémon for you after all? What is it, a Weedle?” This incited more laughter, causing Ash's face to turn red.

    “Well, since you did get one after all, why don't we show 'em off in a battle? Just you and me, Ashy-boy!” Gary had let his arms fall to his sides, and was holding one hand just over the single Poké Ball at his side.

    “You're on, Gary!” Ash said. He could feel his pulse quicken. He could see clearly Gary's fingers closing around the single Poké Ball at his waist, and then, in the blink of an eye, both trainers hurled their Poké Balls at the ground, Ash revealing his Pichu, and Gary a small blue Pokémon with short limbs, and round head, and a tough brown shell. Squirtle.

    “Oh, it's only a little Pichu!” one of the spectators cried. “Lame!” another responded.

    Ash gritted his teeth. “Let's show 'em! Pichu, use your shock attack!”

    Pichu crossed its arms and turned up its nose.

    Gary let out a laugh. “Ash, you can't even get a Pichu to obey you! Maybe you're not cut out for Pokémon.”

    “I'll make you regret that!” Ash shouted.

    “I'm just sayin',” Gary said, rolling his eyes. “Squirtle, use Bubble Maneuver!”

    Squirtle nodded, and expelled a cloud of large, shiny bubbles from its mouth, into which it disappeared. Pichu squeaked at this, and began to look around for any sign of its foe, but Squirtle tackled Pichu from behind. Pichu squealed and let loose a sharp jolt of electricity that sent Squirtle reeling back into the cloud.

    “All right, Pichu, keep it up!” Ash said. Pichu unleashed another jolt of electricity that arced through the bubble cloud, popping most of them.

    “Squirtle, quick, defend yourself,” Gary said. Squirtle, now uncovered, quickly withdrew its arms, legs, head, and tail into its shell. Pichu sent another jolt of electricity at Squirtle, but the shell insulated it from Pichu's attack.

    “All right, now, Squirtle, hit it with a Water Gun!” Squirtle popped out from its shell, sucked in a deep breath of air, and spewed a thin, concentrated stream of water from its mouth. The jet of water struck Pichu in the chest, sending it tumbling backward and soaking it. Pichu tried to discharge another bolt of electricity, but only managed to shock itself, giving a pained cry.

    Gary and the others laughed, and Gary returned his Squirtle to its Poké Ball and reattached the sphere to his belt. “Ash, I just think it's in your best interest to stay home and stay in school. Training just isn't your thing.” Gary thrust his hands into his pockets and, with his entourage, turned and began walking away.

    “Oh yeah?! Well, I'll show you! I'm gonna be the very best!”

    “You keep telling yourself that, Ash,” Gary said as he turned the corner onto the sidewalk and out of earshot.

    Ash sighed, defeated, and stepped over to Pichu. “All right, Pichu, let's get you dried up,” he said, bending over to pick up the tiny Pokémon. Pichu refrained from shocking Ash, but instead struggled with all of its might, wiggling and pushing against Ash's arms, and even biting him once or twice.

    At the end of the little path, Ash found his mother waiting for him with a group of a few of Ash's own friends, and they greeted him cheerfully.

    “Mom!” Ash said in surprise. “What are you all doing here?”

    “We came to see you off, of course!” Delia Ketchum said, as the cook from the Ketchums' cafe patted Ash on the back. “So this is your Pokémon, huh? I didn't expect a Pichu. Were the other three already taken?”

    “Yeah,” Ash said. “But I don't mind. Pichu and I are gonna get along just fine!” At this, Pichu delivered a particularly nasty bite to Ash's shoulder, causing him to drop Pichu. “Quit it!”

    “Oh, the poor thing's soaked! What happened to him?” Delia asked, carefully picking Pichu up and stroking the back of his head.

    “Gary happened,” Ash said, frowning.

    “Okay, well, let's get him dried up.”

    Luckily, one of the waiters, who were all on break for this moment, had brought along a towel, so Delia tenderly dried Pichu's fur with it. Pichu squealed in happiness, snuggling against Delia's bosom.

    “Aww,” Delia cooed. “Such a sweetheart.”

    Ash shrugged. “I don't get it.”

    *****


    Route One, which stretched between small Pallet Town on the coast, and Viridian City about five miles to the north, was a very scenic route, especially during the late spring. A stream wound back and forth between the hills on its journey from the mountains in the north to its mouth just east of Pallet. All colors of flowers grew in great numbers on the hillsides, attracting just as great numbers of Combee, who made honey in their hives hidden amongst the trees. This, in turn, attracted multitudes of other Pokémon. The result was considered to be one of the most beautiful countrysides in all of the Kanto region. Only the straight black road that cut through the hills and crossed the stream at times was an indication of human activity.

    It was this road that most trainers, Ash understood, followed to Viridian City. There was no real footpath, and walking on the road itself was dangerous, since it was rather narrow, so Ash simply padded along in the undulating sea of grass that grew along the edges.

    “I'd better catch some Pokémon here for Professor Oak,” Ash said aloud to himself. “I'd actually like a Pidgey, too, come to think of it.”

    And so, Ash set to work. The first several Pokémon he missed entirely with his Poké Balls, a few of which he was unable to recover. But, as the sun reached its zenith in the sky, and large round gray clouds drifted in from the mountains in the north, he began to hit his targets with steadily improving accuracy.

    The frustrating part, by this point in time, was that the Pokémon were simply too healthy for the Poké Balls to contain. He hesitated to unleash Pichu, but, after digging through his bag, located a string, and tied a knotted loop in it. He released Pichu from his Poké Ball, and quickly slipped the loop around the Pokémon's body, just below the armpits, so that it was not too uncomfortable, but was tight enough that Pichu could not slip away easily.

    And it was at that moment that a flurry of brown feathers took off from the grass nearby. The Pidgey squawked, flapping its wings rather wildly, apparently distracted by some other Pokémon still hidden in the grass.

    “All right, Pichu, all I need is for you to hit that Pidgey with a, uh- Thundershock. Yeah. Can you do that?” Ash whispered.

    Pichu let out a little sigh and then nodded reluctantly. The pink circles on his cheeks sparked, and a jolt of electricity arced in an erratic path, before finally hitting its mark. The Pidgey, taken unawares, tumbled from the sky. Ash then tossed a Poké Ball, and a flash of light erupted from inside it as it opened for a split-second, pulling the Pidgey inside. The ball bounced once and then wiggled a few times, before settling.

    Ash let out a gleeful shout, and threw his fists into the air. Pichu did as well, but when he noticed Ash looking at him, he crossed his arms and looked away again.

    Ash sighed, and kneeled down to pick up the Poké Ball containing his new team member. And, at that moment, Ash noticed the fluffy brown Raticate lying on the ground, glaring at him. The Raticate was moving very slowly, getting to its feet, having obviously been hit by Pichu's Thundershock.

    Ash very calmly attached Pidgey's Poké Ball to his belt. And then the Raticate let out a blood-curdling shriek, and the next thing Ash knew, a swarm of tiny purple Rattata were at the Raticate's side, baring their fangs and growling. Pichu let out a tiny frightened squeal.

    “Oh... Oh no...” Ash mumbled. His eyes widened as he began to take in the sheer number of Rattata. It had to be the entire pack. And Ash just had the bad luck to anger the leader.

    “Come on, Pichu,” Ash said, scooping the tiny electric-type in his arms and running in the opposite direction. The Rattata immediately gave chase, and Ash, running as fast as his legs could carry him, was just barely able to stay ahead of them. He huffed and huffed, his lungs screamed, but he didn't dare think of stopping.

    He came to the top of a hill, and saw a large pond, where the stream had pooled. The water was rough in the wind, which Ash realized had picked up. The sun had gone behind the thunderheads, which had gathered together in the sky. There was a low rumble of thunder.

    But the Rattata were on Ash's heels. One latched onto his leg, and reared its head back to sink its fangs into his calf, but a jolt from Pichu knocked it back down onto the ground. The others swarmed over it, still intent on Ash.

    Ash pulled his backpack off of his back with one arm, unzipped it, and stuffed Pichu into it, before replacing it. “You'll be safe and dry in there, Pichu!” Ash yelled. Then, reaching the edge of the pond, Ash dove in.

    The water was cold and dark under the gray sky, but it was clear enough for Ash to see. He chanced a glance back, and could see the Rattata hesitantly entering the water, paddling toward him on the surface. Ash swam as fast as he could toward the opposite bank, looking rather like a large frog, though not nearly as suited to the water.

    Halfway across, Ash surfaced, gasping for air, and continued, arm over arm, kicking as fast as his tired legs could manage. When he reached the other side, he felt a hand on his wrist and looked up to see a red-headed girl pulling him to his feet, with a fishing pole in her other hand. “Come on, stupid!” she yelled above the wind.

    Once Ash was on his feet again, she stood a bicycle up and hopped on. “Get on!” she called. Ash stumbled absently forward, planting himself on the bike rack behind the girl, who kicked the kickstand up and pedaled off.

    The girl couldn't have been much older than he was, but she certainly seemed to know what she was doing better than Ash did. But he could tell she had powerful legs, underneath her cut-off denim shorts. He clutched her shoulders as hard as he dared. He was freezing, shivering, his teeth chattering, but his fingers seemed to be frozen to her shoulders.

    “Thank you,” he managed.

    “Don't thank me yet,” the girl said, glancing back at the still-advancing line of Rattata.

    “Oh!” she gasped when she looked forward again and swerved to avoid a Rattata that had managed to get in front of them. The bike toppled over, sending Ash and the girl rolling onto the ground. Ash groaned, trying to push himself back to his feet.

    Pichu was standing there, sparking with electricity. There was dirt in matted to its fur, which itself was disheveled. It growled defiantly, clenching its little teeth.

    Then Ash's hair stood on end and Pichu leaped into the air, and there was an incredible boom of thunder as lightning struck Pichu, who screamed as he redirected it into many magnificent streaming arcs of electricity, which crackled and jumped from Rattata to Rattata, causing the whole pack to turn tail and run away.

    And then Pichu hit the ground hard, completely exhausted.

  2. #2
    Brock's Pikachu LightningTopaz's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Pokémon: Like No One Ever Was

    It's certainly interesting to see Ash start with a Pichu, and even more so to see him start at a much older age. It's details like these that make it clear that this isn't going to be a retelling of the show--it's more like a remix. Rattata seemed an interesting choice for the Pokemon Ash angers, as well

    Despite these new details, Ash and Misty are still, at their hearts, the same characters we know and love.

    I'm excited to see what you do with Team Rocket and Brock.

    (I've also given Ash a full name myself--only my full name is Ashton Grant Ketchum)
    My URPG stats: Maya's status

    SuBuWriMo status: 28,103 words in all!

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    CEO of the Monsters Lugion's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pokémon: Like No One Ever Was

    Thanks! One problem I always had with the anime characters is there's so much wasted potential in them. We know about Misty's sisters, Brock's family, and so on, but what hobbies do they have, outside of Water Pokémon and breeding? Those will be things we get to see here.

    One thing that never really made sense to me was Ash angering that Spearow flock, when Spearow don't even live on Route 1. If I recall correctly, they're supposed to inhabit mountainous areas, not the relatively flat Route 1, so that's why that was changed. I won't be following the story exactly, as you noticed, as I'm also making it an update of the old series, so you can expect to see several Johto Pokémon, and maybe a few from Hoenn and Sinnoh as well, and Ash, while he will be capturing the same key Pokémon, will be capturing them out of order, in a manner more consistent with the games.

    As for Team Rocket... Oh, that'll be fun.

  4. #4
    Raja of Pala VirtualAnomaly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pokémon: Like No One Ever Was

    Very nice. I like the fact that you used Rattata instead of Spearow, since Spearow can't be found on Route 1 anyway. And I actually think having Pichu first is better than Pikachu, since both Ash and Pichu can bond more thoroughly.

    Can't wait to see the first Gym battle against Brock! Keep it up!

  5. #5
    Let's get funky! Gama's Avatar Former Head Administrator
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    Default Re: Pokémon: Like No One Ever Was

    Great idea and you've done it well. You've really brought a level of realism to the anime that it's really lacked in the past.

    You have a slight tendency for run on sentences. This is a problem that I often have myself, I get so carried away with how great a sentence is that it ends up being a bit too twisty-turny, and although it's easy for me to understand it can take a reader two glances to get what I mean. That doesn't sound too bad, but it really interrupts the flow. Can be really hard to spot in your own work, but if you re-read your stuff 2-3 times before posting, carefully editing all ambiguous sentences, and splitting them where possible you can definitely sniff it out.

    Ash Ketchum, a boy of sixteen
    Interesting choice. Someone was bitching about people always using the age 16 some time ago, but I certainly prefer it to ten which is just stupid in my opinion. (And Ash in the anime is just obviously not ten too, which always annoyed me.)

    It was quite totally obliterated
    Really like this choice of words! xD

    Despite Ash's physical preparations over the past few months
    I like this subtle allusion (and his Mother’s checklist) to a more sensible prep for a journey than “I’m ten (or sixteen)! Let’s get cracking!”

    It was late May, after all, and the weather had been rather warm as of late.
    Not sure if this and chapter title are coincidental choice of language or intentional references. >.<

    Ash, I accepted your application as a favor to your mother. I know she's having a hard time right now, business is slow at the cafe, I understand, and she can hardly afford to keep you fed as it is right now.
    Good back story, but it’s a bit too much tell and not enough show. I think you’d have been better off cutting this bit off right when he said “I know she’s having a hard time right now.” It doesn’t seem natural that Professor Oak would explain Ash’s own situation to him, particularly as they don’t seem to know each other as well as they did in the anime, so it seems borderline rude. I always say you should know 100 times more about the background of your story than is actually directly shown in your fic. It’s great that you know that Delia owns a cafe or at least has some stake in the amount of business it gets, but at this point it feels a little forced in. Perhaps it will come up later it the story, perhaps it won’t: you won’t know until you’re actually writing it. Don’t worry though, I know sometimes it feels like if you don’t mention all the amazing back story you’ve created it’s wasted, but it’s not. Readers can tell when there’s a full world behind a story even if you don’t explicitly mention it: it’s obvious to a reader when there is more to a world than is on the page.

    So I was willing to give you your own rare Pokémon to set out on a journey with, provide you with plenty of money for Poké Balls, lodging, and food in order to collect more Pokémon for my research, and you show up an hour late.
    Same as above. I would have summarised this whole sentence into something like “I was generous enough to offer you not only the means to live cost free, but to do so while travelling Kanto with an extremely rare Pokémon for merely catching Pokémon for my research, and show up an hour late.” Or something like that. (Sentence not thought out for that long, so there may be issues with it, but I think it gets my point across.)

    “Ash, meet Pichu,” Oak said.
    DUN DUN DUN! I like it, though, it means he actually has a small first stager that although not equal in stats in the games can be made to be more equal in fanfiction, so Pikachu is more on par with Charmeleon, Wartortle etc.

    Ash... I know why you're going out there. I sincerely do hope you find him.
    Another good addition to the story. It’s also a good, subtle touch. This feels like something this Oak would actually say to this Ash, and doesn’t give an awkward amount way, while at the same time alluding to something that is presumably going to be important to the story later.

    It will also notify you when you enter close proximity to other Pokédexes
    You a fan of Adventures? Anyway, this is a nice touch, and I can see it being important to the story later.

    “Squirtle, use Bubble Maneuver!”
    Ooh! A “maneuver” already! I know you’ve read Brotherhood, so it shouldn’t surprise you that I like not only this style of battling, but also this method of giving orders. (Doesn’t make sense to me that trainers should yell out their tactics, giving them away to their opponents.)

    I'm gonna be the very best!
    Would have been good if you could have gotten not only a reference to the song but also the title of the fic into this line xD

    Combee
    Truly this is a cosmopolitan imagining of Kanto.

    Ash let out a gleeful shout, and threw his fists into the air. Pichu did as well, but when he noticed Ash looking at him, he crossed his arms and looked away again.
    Aww. Grumpy thing.

    The girl couldn't have been much older than he was, but she certainly seemed to know what she was doing better than Ash did. But he could tell she had powerful legs, underneath her cut-off denim shorts.
    These two sentences connect a bit weirdly. The second sentence starts with “but”, but doesn’t seem to actually be in opposition to anything in the preceding sentence.

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    Default Re: Pokémon: Like No One Ever Was

    Quote Originally Posted by G-Mama View Post
    Great idea and you've done it well. You've really brought a level of realism to the anime that it's really lacked in the past.
    Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. That's exactly what I'm aiming for.

    You have a slight tendency for run on sentences. This is a problem that I often have myself, I get so carried away with how great a sentence is that it ends up being a bit too twisty-turny, and although it's easy for me to understand it can take a reader two glances to get what I mean. That doesn't sound too bad, but it really interrupts the flow. Can be really hard to spot in your own work, but if you re-read your stuff 2-3 times before posting, carefully editing all ambiguous sentences, and splitting them where possible you can definitely sniff it out.
    You're right. I've realized that before, but I didn't catch it this time around. I was in a bit of a hurry to get this posted, too, so that probably, err, contributed.

    Interesting choice. Someone was bitching about people always using the age 16 some time ago, but I certainly prefer it to ten which is just stupid in my opinion. (And Ash in the anime is just obviously not ten too, which always annoyed me.)
    Yeah, that really always got to me, too. Especially when, in the actual anime, there's an episode celebrating the first anniversary of Ash and Pikachu's meeting... yet he's still ten in Black and White. As for 16, I kinda just chose it at random. I wanted something in the late teens, but leaving room for Brock and Misty to still be rather young as well.

    Not sure if this and chapter title are coincidental choice of language or intentional references. >.<
    I'm afraid I don't follow. The title is definitely an intentional reference to the title of the anime's first episode, but I'm not sure what May and warm weather have to do with anything, unless you're referring to May, Ash's companion. In which case it would be coincidental.

    Good back story, but it’s a bit too much tell and not enough show. I think you’d have been better off cutting this bit off right when he said “I know she’s having a hard time right now.” It doesn’t seem natural that Professor Oak would explain Ash’s own situation to him, particularly as they don’t seem to know each other as well as they did in the anime, so it seems borderline rude. I always say you should know 100 times more about the background of your story than is actually directly shown in your fic. It’s great that you know that Delia owns a cafe or at least has some stake in the amount of business it gets, but at this point it feels a little forced in. Perhaps it will come up later it the story, perhaps it won’t: you won’t know until you’re actually writing it. Don’t worry though, I know sometimes it feels like if you don’t mention all the amazing back story you’ve created it’s wasted, but it’s not. Readers can tell when there’s a full world behind a story even if you don’t explicitly mention it: it’s obvious to a reader when there is more to a world than is on the page.
    You're right. I guess I got caught up in that "make sure your character exists outside of the story" thing. >_<

    DUN DUN DUN! I like it, though, it means he actually has a small first stager that although not equal in stats in the games can be made to be more equal in fanfiction, so Pikachu is more on par with Charmeleon, Wartortle etc.
    Thanks. It's partly that, and also partly symbolic. You'll see pretty soon what I mean.

    You a fan of Adventures? Anyway, this is a nice touch, and I can see it being important to the story later.


    Ooh! A “maneuver” already! I know you’ve read Brotherhood, so it shouldn’t surprise you that I like not only this style of battling, but also this method of giving orders. (Doesn’t make sense to me that trainers should yell out their tactics, giving them away to their opponents.)
    That was actually the inspiration. Also, here, unlike in the usual media, Pokémon don't inherently know their techniques, hence training.

    I'm gonna be the very best!
    Would have been good if you could have gotten not only a reference to the song but also the title of the fic into this line xD
    I would have tried, but that would have been forced even for me. :P

    Truly this is a cosmopolitan imagining of Kanto.
    That was always something I thought the anime had generally the right idea in. I mean, real bees are very wide-spread, so why are Combee confined to a single region where they'd find it difficult to survive all winter long?

    These two sentences connect a bit weirdly. The second sentence starts with “but”, but doesn’t seem to actually be in opposition to anything in the preceding sentence.
    You're right about that as well. Not entirely sure what I was thinking. Probably my literal thoughts creeping in. Sneaky bastards.

    So thanks for getting to this so quickly. I was pretty surprised, actually. Glad you liked it, and I hope you'll like the second chapter as well. Which I'm almost finished with.

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    Default Re: Pokémon: Like No One Ever Was

    Speaking of which... Let me know if you want to be tagged in future chapters. I'm trying to release them on a weekly basis (Tuesdays, specifically), but life got in the way today, and well... yeah.

    Anyways, there's a lot going on in this chapter, but, well, I felt the original ending was anticlimactic, so I decided to go ahead and include the introduction of everyone's favorite Team Rocket duo. Which, in my opinion, works out better for the third chapter.

    Chapter Two: Arrival in Viridian City! Pichu Hangs in the Balance!


    Viridian City, in comparison to neighboring Pallet Town, was a very large, modern settlement. Nestled amongst the foothills of the Indigo Mountains, it boasted a mild, wet climate, and a very active social scene. Trails led up into the mountain forests, carved by traders in the old days, and were frequented by hikers. In the center of the city was a large botanical park, filled with many bright-colored plants and enchanting fragrances.

    Today, however, most of the population was inside. Ash and the red-haired girl were soaked through by the downpour, which was still showing no signs of letting up. Ash was carrying a shivering Pichu against his chest, wrapped up in his blue and white overshirt. There was a pained expression on Pichu's tiny face.

    Though the girl had covered a rather impressive distance on her bicycle even with the added weight of Ash and Pichu, there had been much distance yet to be covered, and the rain made going slower.

    The bicycle, unfortunately, and along with Pichu's Poké Ball, had accidentally been fried by a few of the stray bolts of lightning Pichu had managed to redirect, so the girl was having to walk her burnt transport alongside her.

    Regardless of the difficulty of their trek, however, they now found themselves on the outskirts of Viridian, passing a large white warehouse behind a high barbed-wire fence. A few cars passed by on the road, splashing through the puddles and soaking the two even more.

    “Oh! Look!” the girl said, pointing up the road. Ash looked up to see a black and white police car approaching. The girl waved at the officer, who slowed the car to a halt next to them.

    “What are you kids doing out here? And why isn't that Pokémon in its Poké Ball?” she demanded.

    “Well, y'see, ma'am-” Ash tried to say, before the red-headed girl interrupted.

    “Officer, we were attacked by an angry Rattata pack on Route One. His Pichu is hurt and its Poké Ball was damaged,” she explained.

    “Can I see some identification?” the officer said.

    Misty reached into her back pocket and pulled out a waterproof wallet, and flipped it open to the officer.

    The officer nodded. “Then hop in. I'll get you two to the Pokémon Center as quickly as I can,” she said, unlocking the doors.

    Ash slid into the backseat, and the girl hopped into the front passenger seat after stowing her fried bicycle in the trunk. “Sorry about the third-degree,” the officer said as she whirled her car around and activated her lights and siren. “You can call me Officer Jenny. I'm on a special assignment to investigate suspicious activity. There have been several reports of stolen Pokémon lately, and since you were carrying that Pichu...”

    “Who would steal Pokémon?” Ash said after a moment, frowning.

    “There are a few consistent elements in each report. They all have in common two people: a man and a red-haired woman, wearing the uniform of the Rocket Corporation. The two of you almost matched that description already, so I hope you can understand why I was suspicious at first,” Officer Jenny said.

    “Of course,” the redhead girl said.

    In the car, the journey passed much more quickly, and it was not long before the car pulled into the driveway in front of the Pokémon Center's emergency entrance. Ash and the redhead girl got out quickly. Before she pulled out, Officer Jenny shouted through an open window, “If you do see any suspicious activity, don't hesitate to let me know! Just call the police in whatever town you're in, and ask for me!”

    “Thank you, we definitely will!” the redhead girl shouted, pulling her bicycle from the trunk as Ash turned and hurried inside the automatic sliding glass doors.

    The Pokémon Center had been relatively unremarkable on the outside, boasting only a red roof and plain white siding. Inside, however, was a grander sight: chandeliers hung from the ceiling, casting their warm yellow lights on the shiny white-tiled floor, and well-trimmed plants inhabited the corners and side tables of the room. There was a green-haired nurse sitting behind the reception desk, and she stood and began walking toward Ash immediately when she saw him walk in.

    “Oh, dear, what happened?” she asked, grabbing Pichu and unwrapping Ash's shirt from around it.

    Ash explained to the nurse what had occurred, and she nodded and took Pichu out of sight through a set of free-swinging white double-doors.

    Ash and the girl retreated to a short row of padded chairs and sat down next to each other. Ash held his head in his hands, with his elbows tucked against his knees.

    “What on earth where you thinking back there!?” the girl said, frowning.

    Ash hesitated. “I... I guess I wasn't.”

    “Well, duh. Any trainer should know not to interrupt a Pokémon battle unless they're ready to take on both sides.”

    “I just...”

    “You didn't think. Yeah, I know. That was a rookie's mistake.”

    Ash sighed. “Well, I am a rookie.” He clenched his jaw, and laid one arm down the length of his thigh, letting his hand hang between his knees.

    “Oh,” the girl said, straightening up. She half-smiled. “Well, my name's Misty.”

    “I'm Ash.”

    “Oh, you must be one of the trainers Professor Oak is sponsoring!” Misty said.

    “Yeah.”

    “Well, Ash, it's nice to meet you,” Misty said, then added, “well, it would be under different circumstances.”

    Ash smiled, still holding his forehead in his hand. He glanced around the waiting room, finding it completely empty of other people. There were a few flowers among the plants in pots on some of the end tables, and they were giving off a rather pleasant scent.

    “Sir?” the nurse called, having returned to her desk.

    Ash stood and walked over to the counter. “Yes, ma'am?”

    “I need an ID. Your Pichu is already being treated, but it will be a little while before he is ready to leave again.”

    “Right,” Ash said, pulling his Pokédex from his pocket. Thankfully, the little red device was waterproof. The nurse took it, tapped a button on it, and it let out a ping.

    “Thank you,” the nurse said, returning it. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

    “Uh, yeah. I have a Pidgey, too, but it wasn't hit by lightning,” Ash said.

    “Okay. I'll take your Pidgey to Standard, then,” the nurse said, taking the Poké Ball and disappearing again. She reappeared a moment later, and returned that, as well. “Your Pidgey is fully healed.”

    “Thank you very much,” Ash said, taking the ball.

    “You're welcome,” the nurse said, smiling.

    *****


    The rain tapped on the roof of the car sitting in the back alleys of Viridian City. A man with shaggy blue hair sat in the driver's seat, and a woman with wild red hair was sitting in the passenger seat. They were both wearing black suits with white undershirts and a bright red “R” embroidered on their jacket pockets.

    The seats were a fragrant tan leather, with the floorboards upholstered in a similarly-colored fabric. The car idled, the radio off, and the windshield wipers repeating every few seconds.

    “It seems there are hardly any noteworthy Pokémon left in this city,” the man said. “Mister Giovanni will be most displeased if we are unable to fulfill our quota.”

    “Most of the stronger trainers have moved on by this point. The Pokémon League tournament is in just a few months, after all. November isn't that far off. Maybe Mister Giovanni will approve of our transfer to another city. I'm sure he, of all people, would understand the way it works,” the woman replied.

    “I say give it another night. We'll pull off something big, and then scram,” another voice piped in from the back seat. The man and woman turned to find their Meowth companion had awakened from his catnap.

    “What are you suggesting, Meowth?” the woman asked.

    “Well, we've got that officer lady tailing us, don't we? She'd never expect us to make as bold a move as, say, raiding the Pokémon Center,” Meowth said, licking one of his paws.

    “Hmm. If we could plant a virus in the Pokémon Automated Transfer System, it could give us better leverage when Mister Giovanni's plans come to fruition,” the woman said. “James, write a small program that will install a backdoor in the PATS.”

    “Okay. That won't take long,” the man said.

    “If we can force the Pokémon Center to switch to auxiliary power, it would disable the security systems and protocols. Meowth, can you do that?” the woman asked.

    “No problem,” Meowth said, extending his claws and then retracting them, making a “shink!” noise.

    “Good. I want to be ready to make our move tonight,” the woman said.

    *****


    Route Twenty-two wound up into the Indigo Mountains from Viridian City, consisting of a two-lane road swerving between hills and crossing a few mountain streams, one of which was the one that flowed down through Route One. At the very end of the route, there was a footpath that led into a gatehouse, through which only trainers who possessed certain Pokémon League Badges could pass. Pine trees reached up toward the clouds from higher up off the road.

    The rain, of course, was still pouring down in sheets, pelting the road, the rocks, the cliff sides, and, of course, Ash himself. Misty had suggested he find something to do to take his mind off of Pichu for a little while, and, seeing as the Viridian City Gym was currently closed, he had come searching, largely in vain, for his next Pokémon.

    The problem lied in the fact that most of the Pokémon were currently hiding, up in the trees, in caves up in the mountains, or dens dug out of the ground.

    And, of course, that was the moment, when Ash felt his hat being jerked from his head, and the cold drops of water assaulting his scalp.

    He whirled around, seeing a small round Pokémon with puffy white fur and a stubby flat nose. It almost looked like a ball of cotton, except for the thin arms, legs, and tail, and the large brown eyes looking out at Ash from under the bill of his cap.

    “Oh, come on. Can I please have my hat back?” Ash said, reaching forward. The Pokémon hopped backwards and frowned, a small vein bulging just over one eye.

    “All right, let's at least see what you are,” Ash said, flipping out his Pokédex.

    Upon scanning the creature, it beeped, and said in an electronic voice, “Mankey, the Pig Monkey Pokémon. Light and agile on its feet, and ferocious in temperament. When angered, it flies into an uncontrollable frenzy.”

    “Huh,” Ash said, replacing the device back in his pocket. “I think I'd like you to come with me.”

    The Mankey struck a defensive pose, as if challenging Ash to a fight. “Oh, all right,” Ash said. “Pidgey, come on out.” Ash tossed Pidgey's Poké Ball to the ground, releasing the tiny brown flying-type in a flash of light. Pidgey squawked, stretching its wings and taking flight.

    “All right, Pidgey, let's start off by tossing a little dirt!” Ash said. Pidgey cooed, and then rose high into the air before diving to the ground right in front of Mankey, and pulling up at the last second, tossing some mud into Mankey's face and snatching Ash's hat. Pidgey flapped over to Ash, who took his hat back.

    Mankey growled as it rubbed the mud out of its eyes, and then blinked the rest away. It looked up at Pidgey, who was now circling above, and then leapt into the air to an astonishing height for its size, and swiped at Pidgey, who just barely managed to avoid the attack.

    “All right, Pidgey, now flap your wings to whip up a gust and knock Mankey off its feet!” Ash said.

    Pidgey squawked in reply, and then began to flap its wings rapidly. Ash noticed the wind pick up, and then it suddenly gusted, sending Mankey tumbling backwards off its feet.

    “Okay,” Ash said, grabbing an empty Poké Ball out of his backpack and tossing it. The Mankey was enveloped in a flash of light, and the ball wiggled once... twice... thrice... before settling.

    Ash stepped forward, picked up the ball, and gave a shout of joy. “All right! We did it, Pidgey!”

    Pidgey squawked happily, alighting on Ash's shoulder. And then Ash's Pokédex began to beep.

    “Well, well, well. I was wondering what all that noise was.”

    Ash turned around to find Gary standing there. “I can't say I'm surprised, though. You never did know when to quit, Ashy-boy.”

    “Gary! You wanna go again!?” Ash growled, gritting his teeth.

    Gary sighed. “If it'll put you in your place.”

    Gary tossed down a Poké Ball, revealing his own Pidgey. “See, you're not the only one who's already been working on his Pokédex, Ashy-boy. This one's already had some training, too.”

    “All right, Gary, let's go!” Ash said. “Pidgey, start off with another of your mud-flinging attacks!”

    Ash's Pidgey repeated the same maneuver as with Mankey, but Gary's Pidgey easily avoided it. Gary couldn't help but laugh. “Ash, if you really think such amateur tactics will work on real trainers, you really should just go home!”

    “Just shut up and fight me!” Ash yelled.

    Gary sighed. “All right, all right. Pidgey, use your Gust attack.”

    Gary's Pidgey squawked and began to flap it's wings, much like Ash's Pidgey had just moments ago. The gust of wind hit Ash's Pidgey like a truck, knocking the little flying-type out of the air, crashing headfirst into the mud.

    Gary laughed. “Come on, Ash, you can't even teach your Pokémon to avoid others' attacks! Pidgey, finish it up with a Quick Attack.”

    Gary's Pidgey darted up into the air, and then propelled itself at Ash's Pidgey, tackling it and knocking it over. Ash's Pidgey struggled to rise, and eventually collapsed.

    “Pathetic,” Gary said as Ash returned his own Pidgey to its Poké Ball. “Ash, give up. You're only gonna hurt yourself and your Pokémon. And then where will your mom be, huh?”

    Ash clenched his fists. “You shut up, Gary! You know damn well I'm not going back home! I have too much to lose!”

    Gary laughed again. “Too much to lose? Ash, you've got more to lose if you keep going!”

    Gary started to walk around Ash, but Ash said, “Wait! I still have another Pokémon!”

    “You mean Pichu, or the one you just caught? Yeah, right. See ya around.”

    Ash just watched as Gary walked down the road, and disappeared from sight. He could die happy if he never saw him again, he thought.

    *****


    It was past dark when Ash arrived back at the Pokémon Center. His shirt and jeans were plastered to his skin, as was his hair. Water was dripping from him at every conceivable end: his fingers, his elbows, his nose, his eyebrows, his backside, and even the bill of his cap.

    “Ash!” Misty said, hurrying over to him.

    “I'm all right, Misty,” he muttered. The nurse stepped out from behind her counter holding in her hand a Poké Ball with a little yellow lightning bolt on it.

    “Your Pichu has been restored to full health,” she said smiling.

    “Thanks,” Ash said, taking Pichu's Poké Ball. Before the nurse could turn away, Ash detached the two other balls from his belt and handed them to her. “I need these guys healed... again...”

    “That's absolutely no problem,” the nurse said, turning and disappearing again. Ash half-expected her to curtsy before she walked through the door.

    Misty led Ash to a seat nearby and made him tell her about his experience on Route Twenty-two. When he got to the part with Gary, he almost had to stop, clenching his fists so hard his knuckles were turning white.

    And then the lights went out.

    “That can't be good,” Misty said. There was a roar somewhere inside the center, followed by an electrical humming, and the dim emergency lights flickered on.

    “Let's go to the main lobby. Maybe the nurse knows what's going on,” Misty said, standing.

    Ash hesitated, but rose to his feet anyway and followed Misty around the reception desk, through the door behind it, down a dark corridor, and through another door.

    The main lobby, like the emergency waiting room, was lit by dim fluorescent lights high in the ceiling. The nurse, along with a couple of doctors and a secretary, were all grouped around a computer console behind the large main reception desk.

    “The main power's cut off,” the secretary said. “The alarms are all out.”

    And then the glass sliding doors were shattered, and a small purple spherical Pokémon rolled in and began to belch volumes of smoke unthinkable for a creature of such diminutive size.

    “What's going on!?” “Who's there?” “What is that!?” the workers all cried.

    “Hohoh! You don't really expect us to go announcing our identities at every turn, do you?” a woman said from within the black cloud. “Quite simply put, we're trouble!”

    “And you can make that double,” a man echoed, also enshrouded within the smoke.

    The smoky veil began to fall, shrinking back to the white tiles of the floor, revealing the man and woman, who were both wearing black suits with a bright red “R” on them.

    “Now, nobody move, and nobody gets hurt, okay?” the woman said, smirking and running her fingers through her wild red hair. She grabbed a single Poké Ball from her waist and released from it a lengthy purple snake with yellow eyes and slitted pupils. It hissed and shook the rattle at the end of its tail menacingly, and coiled its long body into a striking position.

    Ash pulled out his Pokédex and scanned the creature. “Ekans, the Snake Pokémon. A very common sight in grasslands. It flicks its tongue in and out to sense danger in its surroundings.”

    “Huh? What's that you've got there, boy?” the man asked, taking a few steps forward.

    “James! The computer!” the woman barked. The man, James, nodded, and turned and headed toward one of the public computers lined up against the wall of the lobby.

    “But yes, do tell. What exactly is it?” the woman asked.

    Ash gulped and shoved the device back in his pocket. “It's a gift, and that's all I'm telling you!” he yelled.

    “A gift, huh?” the woman said. “That sounds valuable. I think I'll take it. Ekans.”

    The Ekans hissed and began uncoiling itself and slithering toward Ash. He looked into its big yellow eyes and found himself utterly transfixed. He couldn't move to toss Pichu's Poké Ball for a counterattack. The Ekans opened its jaws wide, baring its long white fangs dripping with venom.

    Then a golden Pokémon shaped like a star spin-tackled the Ekans from the side, sending them both tumbling over and over until they crashed against a row of seats.

    The woman growled. “Ekans, bite that Staryu!”

    “Staryu, watch out!” Misty called.

    The Ekans lunged at Staryu, clamping its jaws down on one of its limbs. Staryu screamed in pain, recoiling as the Ekans coiled itself again.

    “Staryu! Recover and then use our Rapid-fire Water Gun technique!” Misty said.

    The red jewel at the core of Staryu's body blinked, and Staryu barked with a renewed vigor, before hurling itself into the air, spinning at a high speed. Short bursts of water shot from the tips of its five limbs, pelting the Ekans, who hissed and retreated beneath the toppled chairs.

    “Use your Pichu, stupid!” Misty said, elbowing Ash hard in the ribs.

    Ash grunted, rubbing the spot where Misty's elbow had dug into him, and then released his Pichu. Pichu let out what was probably supposed to be a roar, but was more a shriek, and its cheek spots sparked.

    “Pichu-”

    “Oh, no you don't!” James said, jerking a thumb drive from a port on the computer. “Koffing, hit it with some sludge!”

    The purple ball Pokémon wheezed and then belched, before projective vomiting a vile black slime at Pichu.

    “Pichu, get out of the way!” Ash said. Pichu squeaked and hopped to its left, narrowly avoiding the attack. Ash pulled his undershirt up over his nose to combat the repulsive stench of the sludge.

    “Koffing, set up another smokescreen!” the man said.

    The Koffing belched again, and this time the belch was accompanied by another cloud of smoke pouring from Koffing's mouth.

    Misty, who had moved several steps away battling the woman's Ekans, along with the Pokémon Center staff, began to cough violently. The smoke thickened quickly, and very soon Ash was unable to see anything but Pichu, who was shuddering right in front of him.

    Pichu turned and looked up at him, concerned. Ash, whose lower face was still covered by his undershirt, gave the thumbs-up.

    “Get ready to attack as soon as we can see something, Pichu,” Ash said. Pichu nodded, and his cheeks crackled with small arcs of electricity.

    When the smoke cleared enough for Ash to see anything, he froze. James was holding one arm out to his side, clutching a pistol. The barrel was pressed against the nurse's head.

    “One wrong move, and I'll blow her head off,” he said.

    “We will be relieving you of your Pokémon,” the woman said. “Please return them to their Poké Balls, and then lie down on the ground on your stomachs, with your hands over your heads.”

    “Let her go, you bastards!” one of the doctors shouted.

    “Ah-ah-ah,” James said. “You really shouldn't go around making false accusations like that.”

    Ash looked at Misty, who nodded to him, and then returned her Staryu. She laid down on the ground, placed Staryu's Poké Ball an arm's length away, and then laced her fingers together behind her head.

    Ash looked to James, and then to his partner, who was stepping toward Misty. He looked down at Pichu, who was looking back up at him with a defiant expression. Pichu's cheeks were still crackling with electricity. Ash nodded as subtly as he could manage.

    Pichu shrieked, as the sparks on his cheeks multiplied into full-on thunderbolts, crackling and arcing through the air. It was less than an instant when one bolt reached James, who immediately dropped his gun and froze up, letting out a scream.

    The same happened to the woman when she was hit with a second bolt.

    A car burst through the remains of the front doors. A Meowth leaned through the driver's side window and shouted in a scratchy voice, “Jessie, James, let's get outta here!”

    James and the woman, apparently named Jessie, returned their Pokémon to their balls and limped into the car as the doctors rushed forward to check on the nurse and Ash helped Misty to her feet. The car backed up into the wet street, and peeled out as it sped away into the night.

    Ash and Misty rushed out after it, but, when they looked around, it was gone.

    The two collapsed into some of the still-standing chairs inside. Pichu hopped into Ash's lap and... smiled.

    “What?” Ash said. Pichu simply squeaked and nestled itself against Ash's stomach.

    “Why don't you two stay here for tonight? We'll be glad to offer you free lodging until you're ready to leave. It's the least we can do,” one of the doctors said.

    Ash let out a big yawn. “I guess so,” he said, looking over at Misty. “What do you think?”

    “I'm fine with that,” Misty said.

    “Okay, then. All of our rooms are empty, so choose whichever ones you like!” the doctor said, smiling.

    “Call the police, too. Ask for Officer Jenny, and tell her everything that happened. She'll want to know,” Misty said. The doctor nodded.

    Ash looked down at Pichu, who was snuggled in his shirt and looking back up at him. “Well, then, I guess I'll head back to Pallet Town tomorrow to take Pichu back to Professor Oak. Pidgey and Mankey should be good enough.”

    Pichu squealed, tugging at Ash's shirt and shaking his head. Ash furrowed his brow, and then Pichu began to glow with a bright white light, which grew and changed shape slightly, until a larger, darker-yellow Pokémon was sitting in Pichu's place.

    “Whoa... did you just... evolve?” Ash said. The Pokémon that had been Pichu smiled and nodded with an ecstatic squeak.

    “Well, duh, stupid!” Misty said, slapping Ash on the back of the head. “Pichu evolve into Pikachu when they grow to love their trainers. You two have been through a lot today, and you got through all of it together.”

    “Huh,” Ash said, looking back down at Pikachu. “I guess you trust me now, huh?” Pikachu smiled, showing off its little front teeth.

    “Okay, then,” Ash said, grabbing Pikachu in one arm, standing up, and pointing dramatically with the other arm, “tomorrow, we set off... for Pewter City!”

    “Sit down, you idiot, you're embarrassing me,” Misty said, pulling Ash back down by the back of his shirt.
    Last edited by Lugion; 12th September 2012 at 11:39 AM.

  8. #8
    Raja of Pala VirtualAnomaly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pokémon: Like No One Ever Was

    Good job on the second chapter. I like how Team Rocket is more serious.

  9. #9
    CEO of the Monsters Lugion's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pokémon: Like No One Ever Was

    Chapter 3: Catching Spree! Into the Viridian Forest!

    It was late the next morning when Ash and Misty finally decided to set out. They had slept wonderfully in separate rooms in the second-floor hostel, at least once the power had been restored. They had eaten a wonderful breakfast supplied, of course, free-of-charge by the Pokémon Center. Perhaps the only not-wonderful part of the morning had been their interview with Officer Jenny, which seemed to take hours, at least to Ash.

    Nevertheless, Ash and Misty were now heading north on a sidewalk in a very light mist. The clouds above had lightened almost to white, and the great disc of the sun was just visible through them.

    “Hey, Misty,” Ash said, “can I ask you a question?”

    Misty glanced over at Ash, who was carrying Pikachu on his shoulder. “Sure,” she said, shrugging.

    “Why are you following me?”

    This was followed by a prompt slap to the face.

    “Maybe you're the one who's following me!” Misty growled, sticking her nose in the air and walking past Ash, who had stopped and was rubbing his cheek tenderly. Pikachu had fallen off of Ash's shoulder and was rolling on the concrete, laughing.

    “I didn't mean it like that!” Ash said, picking Pikachu up off the ground and continuing forward.

    “But really,” Ash persisted, “it's not like you have to come with me.”

    “I wouldn't be too sure about that, Ash,” Misty said. “I just met you yesterday, and I've already saved your life twice, after all.”

    Ash just shrugged, and kept walking as Pikachu scampered up his arm to return to his perch on Ash's shoulder.

    “I'm going home, anyways,” Misty said, after a few minutes. “I was on a training trip in the Seafoam Islands. I just happened to decide to take the scenic route back home to Cerulean City, is all.”

    “Oh,” Ash said. “I guess I just got lucky, then.”

    “Extremely,” Misty said. “You seem to have a lot of it.”

    “What do you mean?” Ash said, furrowing his eyebrows.

    “Well, let's see. It just so happened you were given an electric-type that can redirect lightning. It just so happened that you met me, instead of an untimely end. It just so happened that a Mankey tried to steal your hat,” Misty said.

    “Whatever.”

    “No, seriously, a trainer can't rely on dumb luck forever,” Misty said.

    “But I don't!” Ash protested, frowning.

    “Look!” Misty gasped, pointing somewhere high in the sky.

    Ash looked along Misty's arm to where she was pointing, and just glimpsed a very fleeting figure. It almost looked like a dart, just sort of gliding below the clouds, leaving a sparkling trail behind it. Just as quickly as Ash had spotted it, it disappeared.

    “What was that?” Ash said, shielding his eyes from the sunlight.

    “I don't know,” Misty said, putting her hands on her hips. “It's no Pokémon I've ever seen.”

    Pikachu squeaked. “Do you know what it was, Pikachu?”

    Pikachu nodded.

    Ash waited for a few seconds. “Well?”

    “Pokémon can't talk, stupid!” Misty said, swatting Ash on the back of the head again.

    Pikachu had fallen from Ash's shoulder and was laughing on the ground again. “Well, tell that to that Meowth from last night,” Ash said, bending down and picking Pikachu up again.

    “Whatever. That was probably just a hallucination caused by Koffing,” Misty said, striding ahead.

    “If you say so,” Ash said, rolling his eyes.

    *****


    After stopping at a grocery store in northern Viridian City to buy supplies for a picnic dinner, and encountering a drunken old man who insisted on teaching them how to catch Pokémon, Ash and Misty reached the edge of the vast city, finding themselves on the outer fringes of an even vaster forest. The trees were thick and grew close together, their limbs linking together like intertwined fingers to form a nigh-impenetrable barrier. It was here that Route Two split into three separate paths- a highway on the west for vehicle traffic bound for Pewter City, a smaller country road on the east side, and a footpath winding through the forest for pedestrians.

    The gravel of the footpath crunched under their feet all the way up to the gatehouse, which was a large yellow-brick building. The evergreen trees grew right up to the walls, and their branches stretched out over the roof.

    There were a few trainers inside, warning them of an Ursaring who had come out of the mountains, as well as a map of the path through the forest pinned to a bulletin board, but Ash and Misty paid them no mind and headed through the opposite door into the forest itself.

    Almost immediately, it was apparent that they were going to be encountering more wild Pokémon inside the forest than outside. A red and black Ariados sat, waiting patiently for prey, at the edge of a massive spiderweb woven between the trunks of two trees. Above that, a Noctowl was sleeping in its nest on a high branch. A few Seedot hung by their caps from the limbs of a nearby oak tree. Above all, however, the chattering of many birds filled the air: Pidgey and Starly and Taillow, and even a few more-evolved Pokémon as well.

    Misty eyed the bugs warily and allowed Ash to take the lead. The path led downhill to a fork, but there were no signs to direct lost trainers.

    “Where do we go from here?” Misty asked.

    “Uhh,” Ash said. “Left.”

    And so they took the left path, trudging uphill in the gravelly mud, and then down, and then up again, and then down again.

    “Wait a minute,” Misty said, pointing at a fallen log. “We've passed that same log already!”

    “Huh,” Ash said, fumbling around in his pocket. Pikachu yawned. “Let me check my map.” He pulled out his cell phone, and tapped a few buttons on the screen, bringing up a color map of the forest.

    “And you had this the whole time?” Misty said.

    “Yeah,” Ash said. “My, err, friend, Gary's sister, Daisy, told me about the app.”

    Misty brought the palm of her hand up to her forehead, and then drug it down over her face.

    Thanks to Ash's map, it wasn't long before they had arrived back at the fork in the path, and took the right way. It also wasn't long before a Weedle crawled into their path. Misty whimpered, shuddering.

    “What's wrong?” Ash asked.

    Misty pointed at the Weedle. “It's so gross! Get it away from me!”

    Now it was Ash's turn to bring the palm of his hand to his forehead and let it slide down over his face. “It's only a bug.”

    “I know! I hate bugs! They're disgusting!”

    “Fine. I'll get rid of it,” Ash said. “Pikachu, give it a little shock, but not too much, okay? If I'm gonna get it out of our way, I at least wanna catch it.”

    Pikachu nodded and hopped down from Ash's shoulder, cheeks sparking. A weak jolt of electricity arced between the two Pokémon, and Weedle let out a shrill chirp, and began to retreat into the bushes.

    “Pikachu, don't let it get away!”

    Pikachu darted around the Weedle until he stood between it and the foliage. Weedle chirped again, and turned around.

    “Give it another little shock,” Ash said.

    Pikachu complied, and the Weedle curled up into a circle, shuddering.

    “All right,” Ash said, flipping his cap around and producing an empty Poké Ball from his backpack. The ball sailed through the air, bounced off the Weedle's head, and popped open, sucking the little bug inside. It hit the ground and clicked, indicating a successful capture.

    “Oh, thank God,” Misty said, striding forward as Ash attached Weedle's Poké Ball to his belt.

    They walked on, beneath the leafy green ceiling, along the winding muddy path, until Ash's stomach began to growl so loudly that he refused to take another step without dinner.

    “Okay, I guess we can camp here,” Misty said. She sat her backpack on the ground and pulled out a blanket, and spread it out on a level spot. She sat out their so-called options on this blanket, as well: a loaf of bread, some peanut butter and jelly, some mustard, and a little ham she'd placed in a small, cooled lunchbox.

    Ash immediately dropped to his backside, slathering a slice of bread in mustard and slapping down a few slices of meat. He ate the sandwich very quickly, leaving no time to savor it, but he could feel his stomach settling down. He fixed another sandwich, and made sure to actually taste that one.

    Not only did it feel good to eat, however; it also felt good to sit. Ash's calf muscles felt like they were ready to drip off of his bones. Now he could take in the forest as it really was. He could smell the fresh scent of the pine trees, and feel the cool wisps of wind that penetrated the thick foliage. He licked some of the tangy mustard off of his lips, and laid back, looking up at the birds frolicking in the trees. Ash and Misty let out their Pokémon for some relaxation time, and poured a few bowls full of Pokémon food, which didn't last terribly long.

    Some time later, the bits and pieces of the sky that Ash could see through the trees was beginning to grow dark.

    “Get up,” Misty said. “Take Mankey and grab some firewood. We don't want anything coming at us in the middle of the night.”

    “Okay,” Ash said, standing up and stretching. “Come on, Mankey.”

    Not long after, Ash returned with Mankey at his heels, carrying what may as well have been an entire tree chopped into short rectangular blocks. Misty had lined a circle with rocks to prevent the fire from spreading, and together, she and Ash placed some of the wooden blocks into a pyramid shape at the center of this circle.

    “Okay, now have Pikachu give it a little spark,” Misty said.

    Ash nodded, and Pikachu stepped forward and gave the pile of wood a jolt. A small amount of smoke issued from it, but it did not catch. Pikachu tried again, to the same result. A third attempt turned out no different.

    “Maybe it's too wet. Ash, have your Pidgey use Gust to dry the wood out,” Misty said.

    “Right,” Ash said. “Pidgey, do it!”

    Pidgey cooed, took to the air, and whipped up a gust of wind that knocked the pile of wood out of the circle, where they spontaneously ignited.

    “Oh crap,” Misty hissed. “Staryu, soak that wood down.”

    Staryu barked, and shot a jet of water from the tip of its highest limb, which quickly quenched the fire, leaving a burnt patch in the grass next to the path.

    “Let's try that again,” Misty said, a few moments later, after Pidgey had, once again, dried the firewood out. Pikachu gave the wood another jolt, and it successfully caught fire.

    By that time, the light had faded out of the sky, and the only light in the area was coming from the campfire. Misty laid out a blue sleeping bag on one side of the fire, and Ash laid his red one on the opposite side.

    He watched as the red flames danced and crackled and listened to the singing of the Kricketot and Kricketune as he slowly drifted off to sleep.

    Until Misty screamed. And so, Ash caught a Caterpie. And, a few hours later, a Spinarak. And, just as they were waking up, and the fire had dwindled to an ember, a Ledyba.

    “So much for keeping things away,” Ash yawned. The bits of visible sky were a light gray, and there was a chill in the air that brought goosebumps to Ash's skin.

    Breakfast was, well, more sandwiches, but Ash didn't complain. He was certainly hungry enough. Misty released her Staryu to dowse the campfire and then she and Ash began packing their meager campsite up.

    Ash was busy rolling his sleeping bag up and replacing it inside his backpack, when a Koffing rolled into the area and set up a smokescreen. Ash and Misty coughed, and then Misty growled. “What now?”

    “What now, you ask, well here's your answer!” a man's voice called.

    “Trouble's here, and we'll raise our banner!” a woman's voice answered.

    “Oh, not you again,” Misty said, rolling her eyes.

    “Oh, yes, us again,” the woman named Jessie said.

    “Indeed,” the man, James, agreed.

    “That's right!” their Meowth said.

    Misty sounded dumbfounded. “Well, what do you know? It really does talk.”

    Meowth hissed, and a “shink” indicated the extension of his claws. “Of course I talk, nitwit! And I'm a he, not an it, I'll have you know.”

    “Whatever,” Misty said. “Staryu, use Rapid Spin and clear this smoke up.”

    Misty's Staryu barked and began spinning very quickly, whipping up a wind that scattered the smoke, revealing Jessie and James blocking the path ahead. The two of them smirked.

    “You may have defeated us last time, but we've brought along a new weapon today,” James said, revealing a small metal box in his hand. He pressed a button on it, and spoke into a microphone attached to it. “Ursaring, attack them.”

    “What!?” Ash and Misty shouted together.

    There was a fierce roar from nearby. Ash could feel his pulse quicken, his heart pounding faster. The Ursaring burst from the bushes a few feet away, and Misty was suddenly in action, directing her Staryu to attack from behind. Ursaring roared and swiped at Staryu as it spun around the bear, but Staryu was quick and avoided the attack.

    Ash looked at Jessie and James. “Are you following us?” he shouted.

    Jessie, James and Meowth laughed. “Wouldn't you like to know?” Jessie said.

    Ash spat, and let out his Pidgey and Mankey. “All right. Pidgey, you distract that Ursaring. Don't let it get you. And if they use Smokescreen, use Gust to blow it away. Mankey, I need you to attack Ursaring's legs. Pikachu, you stay back a little and attack with your electric attacks whenever you get the chance.” The three Pokémon nodded and took off.

    Pidgey dove underneath Misty's Staryu and circled around the Ursaring's head. It growled and swiped at Pidgey, but Pidgey stopped itself with a Gust attack, and then climbed higher into the air, out of the Ursaring's reach.

    Mankey rolled between the Ursaring's legs as Pidgey circled its head, and delivered a karate chop to one of its ankles. Ursaring roared and punched at Mankey, but Mankey rolled out of the way, causing Ursaring to hit the ground instead.

    It was at this moment that Pikachu, seeing Ursaring's back wide open, used Thundershock, giving it a jolt. Ursaring cried out in pain and fell onto its back.

    “James, we're losing!” Jessie hissed.

    “Well, I don't see you doing anything!” James said.

    “Oh, fine! Ekans!” Jessie said, tossing a Poké Ball and releasing her Ekans.

    Ash watched warily as Ekans approached him, slithering through the grass and staring straight back into his eyes. Its forked tongue flicked in and out as it came nearer and nearer, but it never took its eyes off of him, even when Ursaring let out another loud roar as it continued to fight. Once again, Ash felt himself rooted to the spot. His arms were much too heavy to lift. He tried to cry out, but the words stuck in his throat. That tongue flicked in and out, in and out.

    It was at his feet, hissing and baring its fangs. It did not bite, though, instead climbing up his leg and wrapping itself around his waist. Ash felt like he might topple over any second. Finding his Poké Balls, the Ekans opened its jaws wide and placed them around one, only for them both to scream out in pain as jolts of electricity crackled up and down Ash's spine.

    Ekans fell away, rolling over and over until it managed to regain its bearings, coiling up into a striking position.

    But Pikachu was there, and another Thundershock sent it retreating to its owner.

    Pidgey, Mankey, and Staryu were both still in the battle with Ursaring, but, with Pikachu having left, were not faring as well as they had been just moments before. Ash seemed to recall a special attack most bug-types could utilize to restrict their enemies' movement, and decided on his next action.

    “Okay, Weedle, Caterpie, Spinarak!” Ash said, releasing the three new captures. “Use your silk strings to wrap that Ursaring up! But don't hit the other Pokémon.”

    Caterpie and Weedle nodded, and the three Pokémon disappeared into the grass.

    It was a few moments before the first String Shot came. Ash looked at the source, and found Spinarak hanging from beneath a tree branch. The next came from Caterpie, whose red horn Ash could see over the tips of the blades of grass. The third apparently came from Weedle, who was entirely hidden.

    Ash returned his attention to the Ursaring, and he noticed that there were several strings of very fine, yet very strong silk wrapped around its neck and shoulders. Ursaring grunted, frustrated, and swiped wildly in the air.

    One of these swipes got lucky, and cleaved Spinarak's branch from its tree. Spinarak squealed as the branch fell on top of it, and Ash quickly returned it to its Poké Ball before any further harm could befall it.

    It was obvious, though, that the Ursaring was tiring quickly. Caterpie and Weedle had kept up their silken assault, spraying rings around the flailing bear.

    “All right, everyone, get back!” Ash said. The Pokémon retreated, just as the Ursaring collapsed.

    James growled. “Damn, get up!”

    There was a silver glint on the back of Ursaring's neck as its mighty shoulders quivered. Ash squinted his eyes, trying to get a better look, and realized it was some sort of metal box with an antenna.

    “Oh!” Could it really be? Ash couldn't be sure, but he had to try. “Pidgey, grab Mankey and make a break for that metal box on Ursaring's back before it gets back up. Mankey, smash it.”

    Pidgey nodded and Mankey threw its fists in the air and shrieked gleefully. Then the two were off, with Pidgey's talons wrapped around Mankey's shoulders, until they were in range. Pidgey stopped itself with a Gust, and tossed Mankey right onto Ursaring's back. Mankey cracked its knuckles and karate chopped the metal box cleanly off of Ursaring's back, and then rolled away.

    Ursaring clambered to its feet, glancing around at its surroundings, and then lumbered off back into the foliage.

    “Koffing!” James shouted. Koffing belched, and more black smoke filled the area.

    “Pidgey!” “Staryu!”

    The two Pokémon worked together to clear the smoke, but Jessie, James, and Meowth had already disappeared.

    “We'll have to call Officer Jenny when we get to Pewter City,” Misty said. “I wonder why they came after us again. I have my suspicions, but...”

    “Yeah,” Ash said.

  10. #10
    CEO of the Monsters Lugion's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pokémon: Like No One Ever Was

    This week's chapter will be delayed, due to the Awards. I apologize, and hope to be able to make up for the lost time next week.

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    Default Re: Pokémon: Like No One Ever Was

    So Team Rocket is tops.

    Also, I'm calling this The Animu Redux from now on.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Pokémon: Like No One Ever Was

    Here's the next chapter! Don't forget to leave your thoughts, and let me know if you want to be tagged in future chapters!

    Chapter 4: The Rock-Solid Pokémon Trainer! Brock the Invincible!

    Ash breathed deeply, savoring the smell of pine needles that was in the air. The gravel of the footpath crunched under his and Misty's feet as they walked, heading up a gentle slope. Behind them was the Viridian Forest's second gatehouse, and the point where the footpath and highway rejoined. The sun was high in the sky, and had chased away the morning's chill, and wild Rattata scampered about in the grass on the sides of the road. Pikachu scowled at them, and his cheeks sparked, scaring them away.

    “Ash, why don't you put Pikachu back in his Poké Ball? Isn't he getting heavy?” Misty said.

    “I don't think Pikachu likes it in there,” Ash said, shrugging.

    Misty opened her mouth to respond, hesitated, and then shut it.

    Though their trek was uphill, it wasn't long before they arrived at a sign reading “Pewter City Limits”, at the top of the hill.

    Pewter City itself was nestled in a valley amongst the Indigo Mountains, rising up from the evergreen forests that stretched northward as far as the eye could see. Within the city limits, they could see many tall buildings, including the red roof of a Pokémon Center not far away.

    “We should stop there first. My Pokémon need some rest,” Ash said.

    “Yeah, and you're carrying too many,” Misty said.

    “Too many?”

    Misty rolled her eyes. “Don't you know anything? Official Pokémon League battles only allow six Pokémon per person.”

    Ash counted out on his fingers. “So what do I do with the seventh?”

    Misty sighed in exasperation. “Send it home,” she said, drawing out the last word as if it were a question.

    Ash shrugged. “I guess so. Oh, but wait, we don't have a Pokémon Center in Pallet Town to send it to!”

    “Then send it to Professor Oak, stupid!” Misty shouted.

    “Oh. Yeah,” Ash said.

    *****


    The elevator made a soft “ping” as it halted its own descent. The door slid open, and Jessie, James, and Meowth stepped out into a lamp-lit hallway with tan-painted walls and red, cream, and brown carpeting. The trio started right, turned a corner, and continued past a lounge where a few scientists typed away at their laptops, as well as humming machinery that gave off a slight warmth. At the end of the hallway, they nodded to a young man with shaggy purple hair and a burgeoning goatee, and stepped through the wooden door next to him.

    The next room was built in the shape of an octagon, and more brightly lit than the other parts of the floor. The carpet in here was completely red, as well. The color of this carpet had been the subject of much speculation among the grunts for a very long time. A few bookcases stood against the walls, their shelves full of tomes on a great number of subjects, from Gym Leaders to the geography of the Seafoam Islands in the south.

    The focus of the room, however, was the great wooden desk at the center, upon which sat a few short stacks of papers, a wired telephone, and a container of pens. Behind this desk was a black leather chair, and in that chair was a man, dressed in a formal suit with a red “R” on the pocket. His short-cropped hair was almost as black as his suit.

    Mister Giovanni looked at the trio with his hawk-eyes, his gaze traveling up and down, scrutinizing their every detail. After a rather uncomfortable moment of silence, he smiled. “Jessie, James. Welcome home.”

    Jessie and James bowed, thanking him.

    “I must say, the two of you look rather weary. If I may ask, did you encounter some trouble on your mission?”

    Jessie not-so-subtly nudged James, who gulped. A bead of sweat formed on his brow. “Uh, y- you see, s- sir,” he said, taking a shaky step forward, “we, uh, we did, sir.”

    Giovanni nodded slowly. “I see. And may I inquire... what, exactly, kind of trouble was it?”

    Jessie elbowed James fairly hard in the ribs this time. “Uh, w- well, sir, we, err, encountered a trainer.”

    “A trainer?” Giovanni repeated, his eyebrows raised. His Persian climbed up into his lap, and he began to stroke its fur.

    “Yes. Very powerful,” James said.

    “Strong,” Jessie added, nodding.

    “He, uh, he used a Raichu. A- attacked us directly. Very powerful,” James said.

    Giovanni leaned forward slightly, placing his elbows on the desk and putting his fingertips together. “I see.” He remained in this position for another uncomfortable moment before gesturing to the two seats on the opposite side of the desk. Jessie and James promptly sat down in them.

    “Petrel, a drink, please!” he called through the open door.

    The purple-haired man popped his head inside. “What kind, sir?”

    “Nero d'Avola, if you please,” Giovanni said. “Three glasses.”

    “At once, sir,” Petrel said, bowing out.

    It was a few moments before Petrel returned, carrying a tray, upon which sat the bottle and three long-stemmed glasses. Giovanni smiled gratefully as the boy popped the cork off the bottle, filled the glasses, and carefully handed them to their recipients. After this, Petrel gracefully retreated from the room.

    “Such a nice boy. Barely twenty, yet already on his way to an administrative position,” Giovanni commented.

    “Uh- oh, yes sir,” Jessie said, nodding.

    “Indeed,” James added.

    Persian silently dropped from Giovanni's lap, and rounded the desk, creeping low against the carpet. It peeked around the corner, spying Meowth sitting on the floor, listening intently to Giovanni's words. Then it pounced, leaping into the air, extending its claws, and baring its fangs. Meowth gasped as Persian sank its fangs into his shoulder, and the two rolled over and over, bumping into a side table against the wall and shaking the lamp on top of it.

    “Persian!” Giovanni barked. Persian immediately relinquished its grip, and returned to its owner's side. Meowth, much like his human counterparts, was unable to speak as he walked over to James and clambered up into the human's lap, and clutched his shoulder where he'd been bitten.

    “Now, where was I?” Giovanni asked to no one in particular. “Oh, yes. May I ask who this trainer was? Hearing that he used a Raichu, I assume it was Lieutenant Surge, or at least an acolyte of his.”

    James shook his head. “N- no sir. The boy-”

    “Boy?” Giovanni repeated, narrowing his eyes.

    James shuddered. “Uh, what I meant to say was, the trainer, he, uh...”

    “He was definitely not a Gym Leader,” Jessie said.

    James nodded. “Yes. Uh, whoever he was, he had to have been a rookie.”

    Giovanni seemed to relax, but his words were sharp. “So... what the two of you are telling me, is that two of my most trusted operatives were careless enough to allow themselves to be attacked directly... by a rookie, of all people?” In one hand, he gently swirled his wine, holding the stem between his ring and middle fingers.

    “Oh, no, sir. That's definitely not what he meant-” Jessie started.

    “Jessie, please, let your partner clarify for himself,” Giovanni said. Jessie's mouth immediately clamped shut.

    “Right,” James said. “He couldn't have been a new trainer, he saw right through our tactics, but... he's no one we've been following in the media.”

    Giovanni leaned back in his seat. After a moment, he said, “Please, drink. I do not enjoy wasting wine, especially when it comes from my own private stock.” Jessie and James looked at their glasses, then at each other, and quickly gulped down half a glass each.

    “Now, please tell me: what did this trainer look like? I already gather he is a young man, no older than our Petrel,” Giovanni said, folding his hands together in his lap.

    “He had black hair and, uh, brown eyes?” James said, looking at Jessie for confirmation, who nodded. “And he was wearing a black tee shirt and denim jeans.”

    “His clothing is not my concern. Facial features, physical qualities... those are important,” Giovanni said.

    “Well,” Jessie said, putting her index finger to her chin and gazing upward in recollection, “he was rather tall and thin. But not scrawny. He had high cheek-bones... and his hair stuck out to the sides from under his hat.”

    Giovanni nodded at this. “Good. Interesting. Was there any sort of identifying mark on this hat?”

    “Yes,” Jessie said, remembering. “It was shaped sort of like a triangle... open on one side, with a thin line on the bottom and a thicker line for the side.”

    Giovanni nodded again. “Oak Laboratories. Well, well,” he said. “Did you happen to catch the name of this trainer?”

    “No, sir,” Jessie said. Giovanni nodded.

    After a few moments, and a few more sips of wine, Giovanni finally spoke again. “I am sending you to Cerulean City. The Gym Leader is out, and I want you to make some ruckus again. If you please, do try and bring something good back while you're at it.”

    “But sir!” James said. Jessie's eyes widened. “Please, allow us to capture this trainer and bring him in. I believe what he could bring us would be much more valuable than anything Cerulean City holds.”

    Giovanni sat his glass down on the desk. “Jessie, James, the two of you have proven yourselves valuable to our business. My business. I am the leader of this business, after all. Tell me... do you know what happens when leaders allow their subordinates to disobey their orders?”

    Jessie and James glanced at each other, both sweating profusely at this point.

    “The entire group collapses into anarchy,” Giovanni continued, standing up and beginning to pace. “I simply cannot allow all of my work to be tossed by the wayside. It was a long and arduous climb up, but I became president because I showed that I was the best choice for leadership. As president, I simply cannot tolerate unruly employees.” He looked at them. “You two know what happens to unruly employees.”

    James gulped.

    “Now, I am a forgiving man. I can forgive your failure to retrieve any valuable assets from Viridian City. That was not the point of your mission there. I can forgive your failure to defeat the trainer who stood up to you. I cannot, however, forgive insubordination. You will go to Cerulean City.”

    “Y- yes, sir,” Jessie and James said together.

    Giovanni smiled, sitting down again. “Good. Then we have reached a mutual understanding. The two of you are dismissed.”

    Jessie and James rose quickly from their seats, but not too quickly, drained the rest of their wine, and stepped out of the door.

    Once they heard the door shut, Jessie punched James in the back of his head. “You idiot! You know better than that!”

    James frowned. “Yes, but... I can't let that little bastard get away with what he's done-”

    “Oh, forget your stupid pride! We have a job to do.”

    Meowth, however, didn't hear a thing from his companions. He was hugging himself tightly. “That was terrifyin'.”

    Meanwhile, in his office, Giovanni sipped away at the remains of his drink. “If this boy is who I think he is... things might become a little more interesting...” he said to himself. Persian purred in his lap.

    *****


    “Oh, Ash!” Delia Ketchum was saying, smiling at her son over the video phone in the Pokémon Center. “I can't believe you're already in Pewter City! And you've already met a girl!”

    “Mom...” Ash groaned.

    “Hi, Ms. Ketchum! It's nice to meet you! My name's Misty,” Misty said cheerfully, smiling and waving into the camera.

    “And she's so sweet! She's a keeper if I ever saw one!”

    “Mom! We're not dating!” Ash protested.

    “Oh, not yet,” Delia said. “But just wait and see. By the way, have you been changing your underwear?”

    “Mom!” Ash yelled. “Shut up!”

    “Oh, I'm just having a little fun, lighten up! Parents are supposed to embarrass their children!” Delia said. “Anyway... why didn't you call me when you were in Viridian City?”

    “Uh, well...” Ash said.

    “Ash had his hands full with Pokémon battles,” Misty answered for him.

    “Battles? Already? Oh, Ash, you're turning out to be so much like your father!” Delia said.

    Ash huffed. “Whatever.”

    “Ash, listen, your father had a good reason to leave-”

    “But that doesn't change the fact that he did, now, does it? He left you, and he sent money for a while, but what happened? Where did it go when he stopped sending it? Beer, maybe? Meth?”

    “Ash Bryant Ketchum, you watch your mouth when you talk about your father,” Delia snapped, pointing at Ash through the camera.

    There was a muffled sound on the other end of the camera. “Delia, who are you talking to- Oh!”

    Professor Oak smiled as he stepped into the video and Delia stepped out. “Ash, it's so good to hear from you! Where are you now?”

    “Pewter City,” Ash answered.

    “Really? Gary was just there earlier,” Oak said. “Of course, Reid and Leah already passed through yesterday. I figure they're already on the other side of Mount Moon by now.”

    Ash rolled his eyes. “Okay, Professor. Look, I've got too many Pokémon to take with me to fight the Gym Leader here. Can I send all my extras to you?”

    “Sure thing, Ash! How's Pichu?”

    At this Pikachu hopped up to his usual perch on Ash's shoulder and gave a cheerful squeak.

    “Wow! Already evolved, eh? I knew you had it in you! When did he evolve?”

    Patting Pikachu on the head, Ash said, “Uh, two days ago, when we were in Viridian City.”

    “On your first day? Well, you sure do know how to make friends! Just like-”

    “My father, yeah, I know,” Ash said. “I know.”

    “I'm sorry, Ash. You've got to face it, though, you really are a lot like he was when he was young,” Oak said. “Look, I've got a meeting with a colleague pretty soon, so I have to go. Just send your Pokémon along whenever you need. I've got an assistant watching the machine now.”

    “All right, Professor,” Ash said. Oak disappeared from view, and Delia reappeared.

    “Ash, take care. There's a Pokémon Center just before Mount Moon. Call me when you get there.”

    “I will, Mom,” Ash said.

    “I love you.”

    “I love you too.”

    The video went blank, and Ash stood to find Misty standing behind him, stifling a grin.

    “What?”

    “Nothing. Bryant.”

    “Oh, shut up,” Ash said, pulling Ledyba's Poké Ball out of his backpack.

    *****


    The Pewter Gym was a large, industrial-looking building, with the word “GYM” painted in black against the white stone wall. At the center of the south wall, which Ash was looking at, was a glass double-door, with a row of shrubs to either side. He looked down at the five Poké Balls attached to his belt, then at Pikachu on his shoulder, and started inside.

    Misty grabbed him by the wrist. “You can't seriously be planning on taking on Brock already!? He'll crush you! You need to train first!”

    Ash frowned at Misty and jerked his wrist free. “Then I'll train after I lose.”

    Misty sighed. “You're an idiot.”

    Ash shrugged. “If you say so. I say I'm ready.”

    As he stepped through the doors, Misty grumbled. “... stubborn...”

    After passing through a short entryway, Ash found himself in the main battlefield. Buzzing, fluorescent lights hung from the high ceiling, illuminating the wide, open, spacious field. Piles of rocks had been dropped haphazardly across it, a few large boulders mixed in with mostly pebbles. White lines marking the trainer's box and the boundaries of the field were painted on the ground.

    “Hold it! You're light-years away from Brock!” a kid said, stepping out from behind a pile of rocks and grabbing a Poké Ball.

    “Forrest!” another voice called, this time from a man wearing an orange v-neck shirt with long sleeves and brown cargo pants. “Ease down.”

    The man in the orange shirt turned his attention to Ash, who realized Misty hadn't followed him inside. “State your business here!”

    “I'm Ash, from Pallet Town, and I'm here to challenge the Gym Leader!” Ash said. Pikachu emphasized that with a few sparks from his cheeks.

    “Well, Ash, I'm Brock, and I'm the Gym Leader here,” the man said, pointing to himself with his thumb. “You're the fourth challenge I've had in the past two days. There aren't a lot of serious trainers in this city, so it's pretty exciting to find out what each new challenger brings to the table.”

    By that point, the boy had retreated to the sidelines, and a referee had appears on the opposite side. Ash realized Brock was standing in the trainer's box on his side, so he responded in kind.

    “Challenger, are you ready?” the referee shouted.

    Ash nodded. “Yeah.”

    “This will be a full-elimination match! The challenger may substitute his Pokémon, but the Gym Leader may not! The challenger may forfeit for any reason! Competitors, do you understand!”

    “Yes!” Brock said.

    “Yeah,” Ash said.

    “Then the match may commence!” the referee shouted, before blowing a whistle.

    “Ash, I can't wait to see what you've brought to the table today!” Brock shouted.

    For a moment, everything seemed to slow down. Ash could feel his heart pounding in his chest. He could see Brock reaching for his first Poké Ball, as he himself instinctively did the same. He could see Brock staring at him with his thin eyes, and the lights reflecting off of his messy brown hair. The boy on the sideline was almost the spitting image of Brock, who Ash guessed was his older brother. In fact, several even younger children had gathered on a catwalk high above the battlefield, each looking much like the Gym Leader.

    That was when Ash's attention was drawn back to the battle, when a Geodude appeared on the field from a flash of light, and smashed its fists together.

    Right, I've got just the thing, Ash thought to himself, grabbing a Poké Ball and hurling it at the ground.

    From the flash of light, Mankey leapt forward, screeching and waving its fists in the air.

    “Geodude, Evasive Maneuvers!” Brock commanded.

    Geodude gave out a gravelly cry, and then tensed its body, sending little spasms down its arms. Its rough, rocky skin smoothed slightly, and Geodude cried out again.

    “Mankey, punch that Geodude!” Ash said.

    Mankey snorted, stirring up some of the sand on the ground, and then charged at its opponent, leaping into the air and thrusting its fist forward, but Geodude slipped away, just out of reach, and responded with a jab to Mankey's back.

    Mankey landed on his feet hard, reached back to karate chop Geodude, but missed again.

    “Geodude, just like we practiced! Attack Run A!” Brock called.

    Geodude responded with its gravelly cry, and reached out and back-handed a pile of rocks, sending them flying toward Mankey.

    “Mankey! Watch out!” Ash cried.

    “Now, Geodude!” Brock said.

    Mankey crossed its arms in front of itself for protection from the barrage of stones, but Geodude was closing in fast just behind the rocks, and delived a solid punch to Mankey's arms. Geodude retreated as Mankey swiped at it in retaliation.

    “Again, Geodude!”

    Geodude darted to another pile of rocks, again smashing it.

    “Uh... Mankey, jump over it!” Ash said.

    Mankey gave a shrill screech, and leapt surprisingly high into the air, successfully avoiding all of the rocks. “Now, Mankey! Use your Karate Chop attack when it's under you!” Ash shouted.

    Before Brock could order Geodude to halt its attack, Mankey crashed down on top of it, delivering chop after chop to Geodude's thick, rocky hide, causing the rock-type to grunt and cry out in pain until it collapsed, unable to resist.

    “Geodude is unable to battle!” the referee said.

    Outside at the door, Misty couldn't help but hold up a fist. “Yes!” she cried. “He actually did it!”

    Inside, Brock held out Geodude's empty Poké Ball and returned the exhausted Pokémon. He grinned. “I'm just getting started. Onix!”

    Brock tossed his second, and last, Poké Ball, and as the flash of light faded, the cheers of Brock's brothers and sisters, or whoever they were, filled the air and then were quickly drowned out as the massive Pokémon bellowed.

  13. #13
    Vile Insect. RaccoonGoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pokémon: Like No One Ever Was

    Okay, go ahead and tag me.

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    See the King SetheKing's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pokémon: Like No One Ever Was

    Do me a huge favor and tag me, please? This story is already proving to be way more epic than the actual anime after only a few chapters.

  15. #15
    CEO of the Monsters Lugion's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pokémon: Like No One Ever Was

    @RaccoonGoon; @SetheKing;

    Sorry this took so long. Hope you guys are still reading and enjoying!

    Chapter 5: The Tables Turn! Ash, the Lucky One!

    Onix gave a mighty bellow as it burst forth from its Poké Ball, rising high into the air. The crest adorning its head banged against one of the lights hanging from the ceiling. Ash's eyes grew wide as his gaze traveled up, and up, and up... The Rock Snake Pokémon glared down at him, and at Mankey, who took a shaky step back.

    “Onix, use Tackle,” Brock said, crossing his arms.

    Ash stuttered, still staring at Onix, as it came crashing down on Mankey. Ash clapped his hands to his forehead, cursing himself. Onix began to coil itself up again, and, as the dust settled, Mankey stumbled to its feet, giving a weak cry.

    “Yes! We're not out of this yet! Mankey, use your speed to get in and hit low!” Ash said.

    Brock looked taken aback by Mankey's tenacity. “Onix, don't let it get too close!”

    Mankey darted to and fro, narrowly avoiding the swipes of Onix's tail. Onix roared, causing Mankey to flinch for an instant, and brought its tail down hard, but Mankey managed to roll out of the way just in time. Mankey vaulted up, over a coil of Onix's body, then ducked under the next, until it came to the point where most of Onix's weight met the concrete floor.

    Before Onix could counter, Mankey gave a shrill cry, dropped to one hand, and swept low with its feet. Onix groaned as the astonishing display of strength lifted it up a few inches, and then dropped it back to the ground, where it collapsed, landing right on top of Mankey.

    “No!” Ash cried, shielding his eyes from the dust.

    “Onix, get up,” Brock said.

    Onix groaned as it began to lift itself back off the ground, revealing Mankey, unconscious but intact. Ash grumbled as he returned Mankey. Unsure of what Pokémon to choose next, he let his fingers dance over the rest of his Poké Balls.

    “Pikachu couldn't even hurt it,” Ash said to himself, glancing down at the tiny electric-type, which was looking back up at him from his ankle. “Pidgey won't last ten seconds.”

    Finally, he tossed his next Poké Ball. “All right, Weedle, don't attack directly! We've got to restrict Onix's movements with String Shot!”

    Weedle chirped, and began to fire a string of silk that stuck to Onix's rocky hide. Onix roared again, swinging its head back and forth, trying to ward off the attack. Then it dove forward, crashing down right on top of Weedle, as it had Mankey.

    Ash clenched his teeth and took a deep breath. “Come on, I gotta win this one,” he muttered to himself.

    Next, Pidgey appeared on the field. “Pidgey, evade!” Ash said. Pidgey cooed, and then hopped out of the way of Onix's strike and took to the air.

    “Pidgey, remember our evasion strategy!” Ash yelled. Pidgey trilled in response.

    Onix struck, lunging at the airborne Pidgey with its full weight, but Pidgey rode the shifting air currents out of Onix's path. Pidgey flew up, just under the ceiling, and then dove to the ground before pulling up at the last second, tossing dust into Onix's eyes.

    Ash clenched a fist and his face lit up.

    “Onix! Attack Run B!” Brock commanded.

    Onix roared, and flicked its tail at Pidgey. The rock at the tip of the tail detached and flew at Pidgey, who just managed to dive under its trajectory. Then a second rock came sailing at Pidgey, clipping his tail and sending him plummeting to the ground. Pidgey struggled to stand, but collapsed. Ash returned him to his Poké Ball as the referee pronounced him unable to battle.

    Ash growled, watching Onix reattach the two rocks to the end of its tail. “Spinarak! Escape to the ceiling!”

    Spinarak screeched as it materialized, but before it could spit a string to climb up, Onix slapped it with the end of its tail, sending it tumbling across the battlefield. Ash quickly returned it and sent out his last Pokémon, other than Pikachu.

    Caterpie gazed up at the massive Onix, shaking. “Come on, Caterpie, String Shot!” Ash shouted, pointing emphatically.

    Caterpie complied, still shaking. Silk shot from its mouth and came down over Onix, wrapping around its head and protected joints.

    Onix roared, giving Caterpie a jolt and cutting off the silk string. The tail came down hard again, but Caterpie rolled to avoid the attack, and fired more string at Onix's tail. It dodged another strike, and then another. Ash realized soon that Onix's tail was moving very slowly, and, to his surprise, noticed that it was almost glued to the ground with string.

    “Keep it up, Caterpie! You're doing great!” Ash said, feeling a rush of elation flooding his veins.

    Onix hefted itself around to lunge at Caterpie, but Caterpie's deft movements allowed it to avoid that as well. Very soon, Onix was almost coated in silk, and was visibly struggling to move at all.

    And then Caterpie began to give off a bright light. Ash had to shield his eyes from the glow. What on earth was going on? The light faded as quickly as it had grown, and, in Caterpie's place stood a green crescent-shaped Pokémon, that just sort of laid there on the field.

    Ash flipped out his Pokédex and scanned this new creature. According to the device, it was Metapod, Caterpie's evolved form. Tough, but slow. Ash couldn't help but sigh. Slow wouldn't cut it.

    “Okay. It's tired, maybe Pikachu can-” Ash muttered to himself. There was a loud ripping sound, and Ash looked up to find that Onix had managed to sever much of the silk that had attached it to the ground. Before he could react, before Metapod could even move, Onix reared high into the air, smashing one of the lights hanging from the ceiling, and collapsed on top of Metapod.

    “Onix!” Brock cried.

    Then, even more to Ash's surprise, Metapod crawled out from beneath Onix's body.

    “Onix is unable to battle! Gym Leader Brock is out of Pokémon! The victory goes to the challenger!” the referee announced.

    Ash and Pikachu leaped into the air, both with one fist raised, and then quickly ran to Metapod's side as Brock returned his Onix to its Poké Ball. Ash grabbed Metapod and patted it on top of what he guessed was its head. Despite not having a mouth, Metapod seemed to be smiling, too.

    “You were great, Metapod,” Ash said, returning it to its Poké Ball.

    “Ash,” Brock said, walking over and offering his hand. Ash grabbed it firmly and shook.

    “Listen-” Brock began.

    “Wow, that was totally awesome!” the younger trainer, Forrest, interrupted.

    “Thanks,” Ash said.

    “All right, here's your official Boulder Badge,” Brock said, pushing Forrest away and handing Ash a tiny fiberglass octagon with little black lines that made it look like a rock. “As it hap-”

    “Ketchum, isn't it?” the referee asked. Brock sighed and, apparently, rolled his eyes.

    “Uhh, yes sir,” Ash said, nodding. The referee, who looked much like Brock, aside from the wrinkles and graying hair, held his hand out for Ash to shake as well.

    “You must be Chris's son, then,” he said.

    Ash glanced down at the ground. “Yeah.”

    The referee seemed pleasantly surprised by this. “Well, my name's Flint, and I used to be the Gym Leader here, before my son here took over,” he explained. “Your father battled me for the Boulder Badge years ago. How is he, by the way?”

    “I haven't seen him in ten years.”

    “Oh,” Flint said. “I'm sorry. I didn't realize.”

    Ash didn't reply.

    “Anyways, as I was trying to say, Ash, why don't you come to our house for dinner? Mom loves dinner guests,” Brock finally managed.

    Ash glanced down at Pikachu, who simply looked back up at him. He shrugged. “Well, why not?”

    Brock smiled. “Excellent. Let's go, then,” he said, patting Ash on the shoulder and turning toward the door.

    Outside, Misty jumped when she realized Brock was heading her way, and dove into the bushes next to the door. Not thirty seconds later, he led Ash, Flint, and Forrest outside, and turned his head to stare directly at Misty. He furrowed his brow, and said, “Misty? What on earth are you doing?”

    Misty sighed, and stepped out of her “hiding” place. “I was hoping you wouldn't see me. Well, Ash, congratulations on your big win. When are we leaving?”

    “You two know each other?” Brock said, looking back and forth between Ash and Misty.

    “You two know each other?” Ash said, looking back and forth between Misty and Brock.

    “Uhh, well, yeah, after all, Misty's-” Brock began. Misty made a cutting motion with her hand at her throat. “Misty's an old friend.”

    “Oh,” Ash said. “Well, she's traveling with me back to Cerulean City.”

    “Oh, I see,” Brock said, smirking. “Well, let's get going before it gets too late. We've got two extra mouths to feed today, after all.”

    “Oh great,” Misty muttered to herself.

    *****


    Brock's house, on the edge of Pewter City, was certainly not a mansion, as the Oaks owned, but it was, apparently, large enough to comfortably house a family of ten. Flint and Lola Peterson, apparently, had been very busy over the years, in a manner of speaking. The front yard was well-manicured and decorated with neatly-trimmed shrubbery. The interior, on the other hand, was rather messy, but that was to be expected, with eight children running about all day.

    The back yard, which was occupied by a bonsai garden and a circulating stream feeding into a large koi pond, was where Misty found herself right now. The Magikarp in the koi pond twisted and swirled around each other in a dance, as the current made their long yellow whiskers wave like treetops in a brisk wind.

    She took a deep breath, filling her lungs with the pine-scented mountain air, and let it out slowly. She barely registered the sound of laughing children inside the house. Instead, she gazed at the dancing Magikarp, and let her mind wander.

    The Magikarp slowly melted together in her vision, and she could see, as clearly as if it were happening right in front of her, a young woman, hardly any older than Misty was at present. Her red-violet hair, her thin-rimmed glasses, her icy, analytical stare... Her name was Lorelei, and, at the age of 18, she had taken the Kanto Pokémon League by storm. It had been that day, when Lorelei visited the Cerulean Gym, that Misty's passion had been ignited.

    The vision faded and Misty returned to the present, when Brock sat down in a chair next to Misty. “So,” he said, lacing his fingers together behind his head.

    Misty gave a sigh. “What?”

    “What's going on with you and Ash?”

    Misty scoffed and scowled. “There is absolutely nothing going on between the two of us,” she spat.

    Brock held his hands out and shook his head. “No, no, that's not what I meant! I just... Does he not know you're the Gym Leader of Cerulean City?”

    “Keep it down,” Misty said, checking the yard to make sure no one was eavesdropping. Satisfied that they were alone, she continued.

    “Ash is going to be my opponent, right? It's been a long time since I've seen anyone with his passion. He has no plan, barely made any sort of preparations, he even forgot he had a map on his phone, and yet... he refuses to give up. The idea of battling someone like that is exciting,” Misty said. She let her gaze travel up into the trees, watching the bird frolic and chatter amongst the branches.

    “Hm. I think I understand. You're afraid of how he'll react to finding out that you're his next opponent,” Brock said.

    “Well, yeah. I know that, in the end, it doesn't matter. He'll find out eventually, and if he's not gonna go all out, then he just won't. But I don't want to worry about that right now.” The wind blowing down from the mountains behind the house gently rustled Misty's hair and caressed her smooth, tanned skin. The sun was sinking slowly behind the mountains, and their shadow was slowly advancing.

    “Yeah,” Brock said, folding his hands behind his head again. “I understand.”

    *****


    Inside, the air was distinctly different. Mrs. Peterson had insisted that Ash allow his Pokémon some fresh air, and so he had. The house had already been, for all intents and purposes, destroyed by a game of hide-and-seek that both the Pokémon and the children had shared, and now further destruction was being wreaked by a game of tag.

    Flint Peterson was reclined in a rather comfortable-looking chair, with his feet resting on top of an ottoman, reading the day's Pewter Gazette. He seemed not to mind the children's game, so Ash sat on the couch and watched as first Suzie, in her orange dress, then Billy, the youngest boy, and then Spinarak took their turns being “it”. Spinarak managed to drop down from the ceiling and catch Mankey, before darting back out of reach.

    Brock, returning from the back yard, quickly restored order to the house, bringing the children back in line. Misty did not follow until Lola announced dinner a short while later.

    When everyone was seated around the table, Ash couldn't help but marvel at the meal Lola had prepared. There were fresh onion rings as an appetizer, sauteed tilapia for the first course, and they were now dining on sirloin steaks with sides of broccoli and carrots, and it seemed that there was more to come.

    “So,” Flint said, after swallowing a bite of his steak, “where are you two planning on heading next?”

    “We were planning on heading to Cerulean City via Mount Moon,” Misty answered, almost immediately.

    “Mount Moon?” Flint said, his eyes widening. It seemed like everyone in the dining room, even the children at their own table, was now staring at Ash and Misty.

    “Well, yeah. That's the foot route, isn't it?” Ash said.

    “Ash, Misty... There was a rock slide on the path over Mount Moon,” Brock said.

    “I can't believe you two didn't hear. It's been all over the news for the past two days,” Lola said.

    Misty nodded. “We've been traveling for the past two days. Come to think of it, I did see some people gathered around an electronics storefront when we left Viridian City, but I didn't think it meant anything,” she said.

    “Great,” Ash said, crossing his arms behind his head. “Now what are we going to do?”

    Flint cleared his throat. “Well, there are two alternative routes that you two could take. You could either head south all the way to Cinnabar Island, east to Fuchsia City, then north to Celadon City, east to Saffron, and then north to Cerulean.”

    Ash frowned. “That'll take forever.”

    “Yeah,” Misty said. “I should've just taken that route in the first place.”

    “What's the other one?” Ash said.

    Flint nodded. “The other route is the old Mount Moon caverns. That's what trainers used to take before the trail over the mountain was set up.”

    “Well, if it'll take us straight to Cerulean City, then we'll do it,” Misty said.

    “But, Misty dear,” Lola said, “the caverns are a natural maze. Flint and I got lost in them once, when we were young, and didn't make it out for days. People have actually died in them.”

    “Oh,” Misty said, turning red. “Ash?”

    Ash shrugged. “I mean, if we had a map or something...”

    Brock slammed his fist against the table, jarring everyone seated there. “I'll take them.”

    Flint and Lola looked at each other, and then at their oldest son. “You want to guide them through?” Flint said.

    Brock nodded. “Yeah. That was part of my training to take over the Gym, after all. I know those caverns pretty well. Well enough not to get lost in them, anyways.”

    “All right, son,” Flint said. “I'll sub for you at the Gym until you get back.”

    Lola frowned at her husband, but sighed with resignation anyway. “I'll go get the next course.”

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