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.