In a different life Ash Ketchum looks upon his world from an unique perspective.


7. 7

Green leaves softly rustled in the breeze that caressed the forest as gently as a lover. Overhead, the summer sun shone brightly down upon the Viridian forest. It was an open forest- the undergrowth was small, and the trees did not struggle against one another for space and light as they were apt to do in other forests. Flying pokémon could be heard chirping as they went about their business and the earth beneath was soft but firm, not yet dried and cracked by summer's heat.

In the forest there was a boy named Ash Ketchum, who carried a Pikachu on his shoulder, and was ready to wage battle upon the foe that stood before him. His gaze was determined and bespoke nothing of defeat, his stance was set to take on the world if he had to, and he held a pokéball in his hand with which he would smite the gods themselves if need be.

Oh hi Ash! Is it true you've become a pokémon trainer? Trilled the small green caterpie in front of him. Is that why you've got a pokéball there? Is it? Is it?

Ash deflated and Pikachu laughed at his trainer from his shoulder perch.

Yes Caterpie, I've become a pokémon trainer sighed Ash.

Cool! Can I come? Ple-e-ease!

Ash deflated even more.

Why do you seem so disappointed? Is it because you were hoping for a stronger pokémon? I'm sorry Ash, said Caterpie, eyes trembling with tears not shed. I'll go away now and quit bothering yo-

It's not that, said Ash hurriedly. I was just expecting an epic challenge and a pokémon battle first.

An epic challenge? Ooh! Right! Ahem, Caterpie cleared his throat. Have at thee, human! The pokémon you have been training is no match for my epic might! I challenge thee to a battle, with my service as the reward for thine victory! Let us begin, human!

Much better! Thanks Caterpie. Ash said with a smile.

You are welcomed!

Pikachu, I choose you!

The electric mouse gave his trainer a flat look.

Of course you choose me, Pikachu said. You don't have any other pokémon. Probably 'cause they wouldn't put up with your idiocy like I do.

Just go hit Caterpie with a Thundershock, would you, Ash sighed.

Oh, right, said Caterpie, watching Pikachu leap towards him with apprehension. I forgot about this bit.

There was a brief battle cry from Pikachu, a flash of yellow light, a crackling sound, and then Caterpie was lying on his back, small tendrils of smoke curling up off of his small green body.


Good job Pikachu! Now it's my turn! shouted Ash, hurling the pokeball at the fallen bug pokémon. The sphere hit the bug and bounced off, opening up in midflight. Caterpie turned into a mass of red light that was sucked up into the balls which then fell to the ground. The white button in the center turned red and the pokéball rocked a few times. Bits of grass curled away from the ball, smoking and dying from the heat.

Then the ball was still. For a moment the button was still red but it soon faded back into its original white.

Alright! I did it! I caught a pokémon! Ash cheered.

Excuse me? I think it should we caught a pokémon, Pikachu huffed, forelegs on his midsection.

No, we beat him, but only the trainer throws the pokéball to catch the beaten pokémon. So I caught him.

Oh fine. Have your moment, Pikachu rolled his eyes.

Thank you. I intend to. I CAUGHT CATERPIE!



Moment over?

Moment over.


Well, let's let him out, said Ash, pressing the release button on the pokéball.

Caterpie appeared in a flash of white light.

Ouch, the small green pokémon said. That was a good shot Pikachu.

Thank you, thank you. One does one's best, replied Pikachu bowing several times.

Caterpie turned to Ash, looking up at him with big round black eyes. Ash looked back. Silence followed.

So, uh, what now? Caterpie awkwardly asked, scuffing a bit of dirt with one of his many feet.

I guess we keep going. I think I'll start training you guys when we stop and make camp, since I'll have to stop then to cook anyway, Ash answered.

Okay. Should I get back in the pokeball? Caterpie asked.

Nah you're small enough that you can just ride with Pikachu, Ash said.

I call the top! Pikachu exclaimed.

Aww... sighed Caterpie.

You can have it next time said Pikachu, patting Caterpie. Then the yellow pokémon jumped on top of his trainer's head. Ash bent down and allowed Caterpie to crawl up his arm and onto his shoulder.

So how's the journey been so far? Did you get into any battles yet! Beat any strong trainers? Conquer the Elite Four! Didya? Didya? Didya! trilled Caterpie in excitement.

Ah, no, not yet, at least, Ash told his new pokémon. We had a bit of trouble with some spearow, a fearow, and Team Rocket.

I learned how to hurl lightning bolts at things! Pikachu stated proudly. Caterpie looked up at him with awe.

Really? Caterpie asked.

Yep, Pikachu said proudly, and it's all thanks to this idiot.

So you can hit your enemies with gigantic bolts of lighting? Caterpie trilled. Blow them to smithereens!

Nope, only works when there's already a storm, Pikachu answered. Fried myself a bit doing it too. Gonna have to train to take care of it.

Well, it's still cool, said Caterpie. Didya meet any nice people?

A nurse named Joy, an Officer named Jenny, answered Ash. And some red-haired girl named… what was it again?

Misty, Pikachu interrupted. If you don't at least try to remember the names of the people you rescue, then you'll be the rudest rescuer ever.

Well, it's easier to remember someone's name if you've actually talked to them, Ash said, stopping himself from shrugging. About the only conversation we've had was her telling me to run away.

You've already rescued someone? interjected Caterpie. Ash, you're awesome!

Thank you Caterpie, Ash said. We rescued her during that spearow and fearow business.

Idiot told me to run away and save myself at one point, Pikachu said grumpily. So, just remember we shouldn't always obey him during incidents like those.

It's not like we're going to run into a lot of stuff like that! said Ash, chuckling. …Right?

Yeah, probably not, agreed Pikachu. But I still felt that I should mention it. Anyway… the electric mouse continued, turning to Caterpie. What moves do you know?

Just Tackle and String Shot replied Caterpie hanging his head in shame.

String Shot. Perfect! exclaimed Ash. If we run into any psychic-types, it's your job to blind them. Actually, just how good are you with String Shot?

Nowhere near as good as Poison Lance, stated Caterpie.

Poison Lance puts out forest fires with his String Shot. It's a bit unfair to compare your String Shot to his, Pikachu pointed out.

You could give us a demonstration when we stop to camp for the night, Ash told his green pokémon. But I've already got a lot of ideas for training with String Shot.

Really? Caterpie perked up. Cool. Why don't we stop now then?

'Cause I'd like to put a bit of distance between us and Viridian City, Ash explained. Too many questions being asked, too much attention being put on that place, and if we need more training, we can do that by Pewter City, so we can get to the pokémon center easier.

Makes sense. So no dangerous training in the middle of nowhere? Caterpie asked, no meditating on the tops of mountains, breaking rocks in the middle of the desert, no climbing cliffs one handed deep in the wilderness, or anything like that?

If we do anything like that, it will be with easy access to advanced medical assistance, or not at all, Ash stated. I'm not stupid.

Coulda fooled me, said Pikachu.

Night fell and it dragged the temperature down with it. Ash almost forgot to start a fire. He still was not used to not having to stay hidden. No longer would he have to worry about being discovered if he started a fire; if anyone came they'd only find a pokémon trainer on their journey, one named Aaron Autumns, not the dead Ash Ketchum. He could have a hot meal every night the weather allowed for fire, not only when both he and Poison Lance were sure that no one would discover him.

Ash supposed that he should be happy. A bit of life had just opened up for him, but actually the realization made him feel strange. It was the fault of the geography. The Viridian Forest had been part of his limited world before he had started his journey, and so he still felt pavlovian shivers as he warmed up his (stolen) prepackaged camp dinner.

Still, at least he would sleep soundly tonight, and probably the next night. He was still sleeping in the area he considered to be his home, or perhaps more accurately, his house. The night in the Viridian City pokémon center had been like sleeping in the dark basement in a sense- he couldn't see the usual stars that shone in the clear night skies or the soft multicolored light that Poison Lance used when the small lights of night failed. The room seemed so claustrophobic in retrospect, compared to his usual shelters, but that had not bothered him. It wasn't any property of the room that had bothered him, but rather the absence of a property that had disturbed him. But Ash could not tell what had been missing.

The upcoming night would be no different than many that had come before. Ash had slept out in the open, curled up with several friends who had watched over him for Poison Lance when the weedle could not be there. And then they'd wake and play in the mornings and he'd tell Poison Lance all about their activities when he saw the weedle later in the morning as he always did after such nights...

Ash shook his head to clear out all the unnecessary thoughts, and served his food onto a metal camping dish. He sat on a stump and started to munch as he watched Pikachu and Caterpie frolic about the campsite.

He offered them a piece of meat.

Thanks, but we're both vegetarians, Pikachu told him. In fact I don't know if we can physically have meat.

Right. I'm pretty sure that I packed some fruit or vegetables in here... Ash began to search through his bag. No, that's not it... not it either... Ahah! Here they are!

Ash pulled out an apple and a bag of spinach. He offered the apple to Pikachu who took it with glee. Ash then opened the bag and offered Caterpie some spinach. The small green pokémon wasted no time in chomping down on the leaves.

The trio ate their dinner in companionable silence. When they were finished, Ash cleaned up and put away all the equipment. Then he stood up and clapped his hands together.

Alright, time for training! The boy declared.

Right after we ate? Nice timing idiot, Pikachu said to Ash, glaring.

Sorry, Ash scratched the back of his head. I'll have to remember to do this earlier from now on. But we can do a little training right now, right?

Sure Ash! Caterpie trilled. What should we start with?

Right now, can I just see a demonstration of your String Shot, on that tree right there? Let's go for widest coverage first.

The tree soon turned white.

That's excellent! Ash exclaimed. Your String Shot's the best I've seen besides Poison Lance's! You're a very talented Caterpie.

Thanks, Caterpie replied bashfully.

Now, let's check strength. Could you attach a nice thick rope to that branch there?

Caterpie missed. He tried again. He missed. He tried a couple more times, but missed each one.

Alright, so your accuracy needs some work, said Ash. That's what we'll do tonight, since we're taking it easy. Just practice trying to hit that branch for a while okay? Tomorrow we'll start on the cool stuff, but that'll require some accuracy anyway.

Sure, Ash! Caterpie trilled.

And Pikachu, Ash turned to his other pokémon, I already know what we should do with you.

Feed and pamper me! Pikachu smirked.

Ha ha ha.

It was worth a try.

Sure, Ash rolled his eyes. Now, anyway, if you want to do that lightning trick again, you're going to have to work on your ability to control the electricity's path. So, what we're going to do is this...

Ash searched around the campsite for a bit, looking for a stone. When he found one, he put it slightly behind and slightly to the side of a tree.

Okay, what you're going to do is stand in front of this tree and try to hit that rock there with Thunder, Ash explained. But you're not allowed to hit the tree. You're going to have to curve your attack around it. You can use Thundershock if using Thunder that much would tire you out too quickly, but the same rules apply.

Fine. What training are you going to be doing while we're doing this? Pikachu asked.

Huh? Ash tilted his head. Why would I be doing training?

'Cause it's too dark to read Pikachu told his trainer. 'cause we're not going to stand for you lazing about while we're working our tails off, and because you never know when you could need it. As yesterday proved.

Alright, I guess, Ash said, browsing through his memories for anything on humans training themselves. I guess I could do some pushups or something...

Guess nothing! A flash of yellow light and the crackle of electricity punctuated his words. A smoking branch fell to the ground, and Pikachu glared at it.

Ash chuckled and then went off to do his own exercises. It did seem fair, and it would give him something to do.

The three of them were curled up together- Ash in his sleeping bag by the stump, and the other two lay by his head.

I forgot to ask, Ash started. Caterpie, why'd you want to come with us? You do realize we'll be leaving the Viridian Forest and going to a lot of far away places that you may not like, right?

Yeah replied the bug pokemon. But that's okay. A lot of those places will be fun! Besides, going with a pokémon trainer is the best way to get strong. Everybody knows that.

But why do you want to get strong? Ash continued his inquiry. I can't really imagine you having much trouble from any flying-types or other predators with a String Shot like yours.

Caterpie mumbled something.

What did you say? I didn't catch that.

I want wings, muttered Caterpie, louder this time.

Wings? Oh, you mean you want to evolve.

Yeah, I want to become a Butterfree and fly, said Caterpie looking up wistfully at the moon. I mean being a Caterpie is okay and all, but we're stuck here on the ground, in this one forest the whole time we're in these forms, unless a trainer catches us. And there are a lot of things that eat us. I want to do more things than just eat and hide in this forest. But I'm afraid.

Of what? Ash asked.

...Of being a metapod.

What's so scary about being a Metapod? Pikachu asked, raising his head to look at Caterpie over Ash's body.

Well for one thing they can't move very well, Caterpie answered. And the only move they know is Harden. Most caterpies who try to become butterfrees don't make it past the metapod stage. They get eaten instead. And they say caterpies that aren't strong enough get stuck as metapods when they try to evolve.

Well you're plenty strong, Ash told his pokemon. I'm sure you'll be able to become a butterfree. And I promise that no one's going to eat you, okay?

Yeah, Pikachu piped in. I'll zap any flying-type who tries! And you're strong enough that you could just blast right through the Metapod stage in a flash.

Thanks guys, Caterpie said, somewhat embarrassed by their encouragement. But I'm not sure how strong is strong enough. I need to get stronger first, to be sure.

How strong is strong enough? Ash questioned, I think you're already strong enough. If you keep waiting, saying 'ater, when I'm stronger', you'll never take the chance.

Bu-But… But I could be stuck as a metapod, Caterpie replied, horrified. I'd almost rather be eaten.

I don't think it works like that, Ash stated. But even if it does, how do you know how strong 'strong enough' is? You're already a strong pokémon, your String Shot is plenty powerful, if lacking a bit in the accuracy department. You don't have to evolve unless you're comfortable with it, but since you want to become a butterfree, you'll want to think about what I said. Alright Caterpie?

...Okay Ash.

Alright, now let's all get some sleep, declared Pikachu, lying back down, foreleg splayed across Ash. I'm exhausted. I don't know how you two are still awake.

My stomach feels weird, Ash admitted. I am definitively not training right after dinner again.

Well, we'll help with the nightmares then, whenever you fall asleep, Caterpie said, snuggling up to his trainer.

I almost wish I had nightmares on an upset stomach. I get surreal dreams where everyone is talking food.

If I wake up to find you gnawing on me, I'm going to electrocute you.

They set out next morning, strolling through the familiar paths of the Viridian Forest during another fine sunny day. Caterpie got to ride on Ash's head that day, and Pikachu lounged on his trainer's shoulder. They chatted about various small pieces of nonsense as they traveled, trading the last bits of local pokémon gossip that they would be able to get for a long time. Pewter City was only a day or two away and after they reached the city they could no longer say that they were still home. Still, new lands, and new adventures awaited them, as did new pokémon, like that pidgeotto that was descending rapidly towards them.

The flying type alighted on a branch on a nearby tree and cawed at Ash.

Come on, trainer! It chirped. I'm right here! You know you want to try and catch me. Now send out that delicious looking caterpie to fight me...

I can hear that you know, Ash replied, looking the bird like Pokémon in the eye.

Pidgeotto peered at the human for a moment.

Oh, hi Ash, she said. Sorry I didn't recognize you, but I've been out of the area for a couple years. So you've become a pokémon trainer now?

Yep, and you just challenged me to a fight… when I have an electric pokémon on my shoulder, Ash pointed out.

Well I'm faster than most of the local pikachus, I was hoping to snag the caterpie and leave before you could recall him. He's really tasty-looking, Pidgeotto said, licking her beak.

Could you quit talking about eating me? Caterpie squeaked. It's going to be disturbing when we have to work together later.

Why would we be-… Oh right, I just challenged a pokémon trainer to a battle. This is going to hurt isn't it…

A bit, replied Ash. But it's your fault for both underestimating me and underestimating Pikachu. Pikachu, if you would do the honors with a Thunderbolt?

Of course, Pikachu said. He jumped off his trainer and at the flying-type. With a battle cry he let loose a Thunderbolt that knocked Pidgeotto out of the tree. She fell to the ground, small ribbons of electricity still crackling around her. Ash threw a pokeball at the downed pokemon and Pidgeotto turned to red light that was sucked into the ball.

The sphere rocked for a few moments and then went still.

I caught Pidgeotto! Ash exclaimed, holding up the pokéball.

Thanks Ash, Pikachu, said Caterpie. Now I won't have to worry about her eating me!

She'll probably still be hungry when we let her out, though. Let me find where I put the berries... Aha! Here they are. Let's let her out now, I've still got an open shoulder.

He hit the release button and Pidgeotto reappeared.

Ouch, she stated deadpan. Well that was an experience I never hope to repeat.

Just be glad that I didn't ask him to use Thunder, Ash told the singed flying pokémon. And that's what you get for trying to eat Caterpie here.

Alright. But I've traded in eating a Caterpie for being guaranteed regular meals by my trainer, so I think I've won in this situation. Speaking of which...

Ash handed his new pokémon some berries.

Thanks. And then Pidgeotto gleefully chowed down on the offered food. She finished a few seconds later and then looked up at Ash.

So what now? She asked.

Just hop on my free shoulder for now.

Pidgeotto complied. She then turned to the Caterpie on Ash's head.

No hard feelings, right? Pidgeotto said, turning to the bug type.

As long as you don't try and eat me again, Caterpie answered.

Of course not, we're comrades now. Anyway so how's the trip been?

Ash and Pikachu glanced at each.

Like you wouldn't believe they said in unison.

"Alright" James began. "Does everyone have the plan down?"

"Of course!" said Jessie. "Such a brilliant plan deserves no less than our full attention."

"This plan is perfect," Meowth added. "Even if the twerp has caught alot of new pokémon, they'll all be too weak to help now."

"And knowing the local distribution of pokémon we can be confident that he has a pidgey or a spearow" James explained. "And if he doesn't we've got counter measures ready for any other pokémon he could have caught and an alternative means of distributing the dust. Right, Koffing?"

Right James, Koffing answered, but only Meowth understood what he said.

"You know your part as well Ekans?" Jessie asked, turning to her purple poison pokémon.

Of course Jessie, Ekans replied, nodding.

"Now we just need to wait here," James said, indicating the main Viridian Forest path as he spoke. "And wait for him to come by. And keep an eye on our equipment, in cases he trips a sensor while taking a different path."

"And if he gets past us, we've got the Pewter City pokémon center bugged, so we can just get him there," Jessie said gleefully. "Of course, I'll have to make another batch of hors d'oeuvre for the presentation, but we can steal an auditorium if it's in Pewter."

"Yep. And once he hears about the career paths, promotion opportunities, job satisfaction, and our wonderful facilities, he'll join Team Rocket!" said James gleefully.

"I can't wait to see what the HR department gives us as a bonus for recruiting him!" Meowth stated, rubbing his paws together greedily.

Something in James's pocket beeped. He reached into his pocket and pulled out some gadget. The purple haired man studied it for a second. Then he turned to his comrades.

"Alright, I've got his position. Let's take our places and get our new member."

The quartet consisting of Ash, Pikachu, Caterpie and Pidgeotto were wandering down a path, idly chatting amongst themselves, and getting to know their new addition.

Pidgeotto had recently come back from the Fuschia City area, where she had been living for a while. Evidently, flying-type pokémon were well-liked in the area, and there was a nearby coast that was perfect for catching magikarp. She had decided to head back to the Pallet Town area to visit some old friends before striking out to new lands. It was for this reason that she had felt comfortable in challenging a beginning trainer, as, in the eventuality that she was caught, they would take her to these new lands. So, Pidgeotto had no regrets on how things turned out.

It was during this time that they unknowingly wandered by a small piece of machinery that noted their presence and sent that information along.

Ash and his pokémon were still talking amongst themselves, the noon day sun nearing the top of its arc- when there was a flash of light. Ash and company averted their eyes as bright rays assaulted their optic nerves.

"Well, well, well. Fancy running into you again twerp," a high pitched and haughty female voice said.

"Indeed," a man said airily. "Just after you made a mess of our operation in Viridian City."

"I know those voices," Ash said, feeling the light die down.

"Indeed you should," Jessie told him.

"After all," James continued. "You should."

"Prepare for trouble" Jessie exclaimed.

"Make it double" James declared.

"To protect the world from devastation!"

"To unite all peoples within our nation!"

"To denounce the evils of truth and love!"

"To extend our reach to the stars above!"



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

"Surrender now or prepare to fight!"

"Meowth, that's right!" Meowth finished, jumping up from between James and Jessie.

"You taught your Meowth to say a phrase to finish your motto instead of training him to battle?" Ash stated, deadpan. "What a waste of time."

"Not all of us can talk to pokémon like you, Ash," James told the boy, taking a sniff of his rose.

"And we didn't teach him to say that," Jessie said condescendingly.

"I taught myself to speak human a long time ago," Meowth told Ash, who had gone as white as a bed sheet.

"Y-… Y-You know?" Ash stuttered in a whisper, eyes dilating.

It is exceedingly difficult to describe what one feels when one of their and their loved ones worst fears is fully realized. The sensation of one's insides dropping into a bottomless, endless, cold, and absolutely black void. Imaginary walls closing in, squeezing one's heart into a frantic beat, and squashing one's mind into sheer panic. Life flees one's limbs and despite the awful bouncing energy within you, you cannot make a single move. You only stand because you were standing before, and you will fall soon. Your future is cut off from you now, shattering into pieces and following your insides into the void. Life becomes grey in an instant and what is left of your function mind has forgotten everything but the fear.

This is what happened to Ash when he found out that Team Rocket, the villains of Poison Lance's stories, had discovered his secrets. He took a step back. And then another. And one more. Team Rocket started to advance on the boy.

Pikachu, Caterpie, and Pidgeotto all leapt from Ash's shoulder and put themselves between him and his foes.

"Twerp call off your pokémon. We need you to come with us" James said, looking down at the boy.

"Yes. We have such nice plans for you" Jessie said, her evil smile betraying nothing of her thoughts about showing off her hors d'oeuvre, any more than James's haughty evil expression betrayed his pride at the power point presentation he had made earlier detailing the joys of Team Rocket membership.

I'm afraid... Pikachu stated, glaring at the trio, his cheeks sparking angrily. That he's not going anywhere with you.

"That's what you think," Meowth rebutted. "But you're nothing but cat food, mouse."

"That's right," James added, "You won't need your pokémon, not where you're going." He was thinking of the campsite where the presentation and the refreshments awaited.

"Oh, and won't headquarters be so thrilled to learn about you," Jessie said gleefully.

"You mean they haven't yet?" Ash's mind restarting at the slightest glimmer of hope.

"Of course not," James said, nose in his rose. "We wouldn't want anyone poaching you from us now, would we?"

Right. Then there was still hope. He had his friends with him, and he had the slightest possibility of victory. There was no way that he could lose now. He just needed to subdue these Rockets and then turn them into the Pewter City police.

Pikachu Thunder!

"Dodge!" shouted Meowth, and all of the Rockets vacated the area. Pikachu's column of electricity hammered the ground where they had stood, blasting up dust and debris.

"Koffing, Smokescreen!" James commanded from behind a tree. He reached down and grabbed a bag that he had stashed there.

Understood! replied Koffing, coming out from behind the tree that he had been hiding behind. The purple gasbag floated out and started belching out smoke.

Like that'll work. Pidgeotto, Gust!

Pidgeotto flapped her wings and took flight, soaring towards the smoke. She pulled up and came to an aerial stop before the smoke. With a final mighty flap of her wings, Pidgeotto unleashed a miniature tornado at the cloudbanks, winds catching dust and smoke in their greedy wrath.

"Now!" Jessie called out, throwing a bag at the tornado. James did likewise at her signal. Winds sucked the bags into the vortex and spilled their contents. Glittering dust was carried on the swirling air currents and scattered all over the forest and the skies above.

"Ha!" James exclaimed, returning to his previous position. Jessie and Meowth did likewise, and the three of them took up their usual poses once more.

Wow. They're weird. Pikachu, another Thunder if you please.

Of course. Taste my electricity, Rocket scum! A massive discharge of electricity surged from Pikachu and into the air. But instead of arcing towards the Rockets, it started to split into several bolts that randomly scattered into the air. The main bolt corkscrewed up for a moment before coming down someone in the forest to the side of the path.

Pikachu, what's wrong? Ash kept his eyes on the villains.

I don't know. What's that sparkly stuff in the air? It feels weird.

"What did you do to Pikachu," Ash demanded of the Rocket trio.

"Nothing at all," James replied. "We didn't do anything at all to your pokémon."

"Normally, it's bad form to explain your plans to your foe, but in this case I think its acceptable," Jessie began. "You see that glittering dust in the air? Well it is quite simply a collection of ionized conductive metal pieces ground into a fine powder. It's perfect for reducing the accuracy of your pikachu to nil."

"We had been counting on you having a flying-type pokémon" James continued. "So you could repeat the tactic that you used on poor Koffing last time. We would've had to have Koffing spread it instead, if it turned out that you didn't have one."

"But I must say, your pikachu is impressively strong. Either you got an unusual pokémon, or you're simply that good of a trainer." James picked up where Jessie left off. "It's lucky that we decided to take countermeasures against him ahead of time. But that pidgeotto is a bit of a surprise. We had been expecting a pidgey or a spearow. But it doesn't -

Pidgeotto Quick Attack Koffing! Ash shouted. Pikachu get an Agility and Quick Attack combo ready and engage Meowth. Be careful he's stronger than he looks. Caterpie, stay with me, they've also got an ekans and I don't know what else, so we'll have to watch out for that.

Pidgeotto blurred towards Koffing and impacted against the poison-type. Koffing tumbled through the air and Pidgeotto prepared to repeat the move.

Meanwhile Pikachu used the speed granted to him by his Agility to disappear from sight and launched a Quick Attack at Meowth from behind the Scratch Cat pokémon's head. But a second after Pikachu disappeared, Meowth ducked and Pikachu went right over his head.

"Nice try, but a mouse should never try and take an experienced cat by surprise!" Meowth taunted Pikachu, who had skidded to a halt only a inches away from hitting a tree.

Meanwhile Pidgeotto sped towards Koffing, who had not yet recovered from the initial assault. It was then Jessie made her move.

"Now Ekans!" she ordered the out of sight pokémon. Ground cracked and the earth spit out the snake pokémon. Ekans hit Pidgeotto, right under her chin, and sent the flying-type spinning out of control. Pidgeotto only managed to regain flight stability a second before crashing into the earth and had to bank sharply to avoid a tree. By this time Koffing had recovered and was chasing down Pidgeotto.

"Koffing, use Sludge!" James told his pokémon. Koffing began spit toxic sludge at Pidgeotto. Where the brown goo fell upon the grass, the grass withered and died. Pidgeotto was forced to go into a desperate climb to the left.

Pidgeotto counter his next attack with Gust and then Quick Attack through the eye as it fades!

Got it Ash! Pidgeotto shouted in reply. She unleashed another tornado to catch the blast of toxic sludge and then sped through the empty center of the dying attack.

"Ekans, stop Pidgeotto with Acid!" Jessie ordered her pokémon. Ekans hissed in acknowledgement and spewed a spray of green liquid between Koffing and Pidgeotto. The flying-type was forced to bank to avoid, and skimmed the grass as she fought to keep control of her flight.

Ash groaned and looked over at Pikachu and Meowth. Pikachu was using his Agility to avoid Meowth's attacks, but he couldn't get a clean hit in on Meowth. The normal-type had enough experience to guess where Pikachu would be attacking from, and knew how to roll off an impact. Pikachu on the other hand was sporting some small red scratches on various parts of his body from when Meowth had gotten in a counter-attack.

Pikachu, just keep him busy! Don't take any risks! Ash called out, cursing the situation. The meowth was too good for Pikachu to take on without his electricity. And Pidgeotto was busy being double teamed by Ekans and Koffing. She was forced to use evasive maneuvers to keep Sludge from hitting her, and any time she tried to attack Koffing, Ekans used Acid to drive her away.

Caterpie he needed to keep in reserve, the Bug Type wasn't fast enough for this sort of battle, and his String Shot was not accurate enough to reliably blind either of the purple poisonous pokémon... Wait... there was an idea.

Pidgeotto! Blind Ekans with a Sand-Attack! Ash cried out.

Right, replied Pidgeotto with a nod. She dived low, flipping over to her left to avoid a Sludge attack, and pulled out at the very last second. Like a dart, she rushed towards Ekans, the grass rippling in her wake. Closing her wings, and narrowing her profile, she picked up a bit of extra speed before landing right before Ekans, and skidding to a halt. Pidgeotto dug her talons into the ground as she stopped, and used her momentum to kick up alot of dirt and dust into Ekans' face.

The purple pokémon hissed in frustration as it spewed another Acid at the flying-type that did not come anywhere close to Pidgeotto.

Now, Gust and Quick Attack on Koffing again!

Once more winds caught the poisonous goo and Pidgeotto sped through the attacks. But James had been waiting for this.

"Quickly Koffing, use Smog" His pokémon began to belch out toxic smoke as Ash's pokémon neared it. Koffing took the Quick Attack, and was sent spinning like a levitating top, but Pidgeotto had inhaled some of the poison. She fell to the ground, coughing, and trying to recover from the attack.

"Koffing use Sludge to blind that bird!" James commanded, triumph in his voice. A spray of brown ooze finally hit Pidgeotto, covering her eyes.

Keep them closed! Ash ordered quickly. Don't let any of the poison in. Get back here now.

I can still fight Pidgeotto protested. She attempted to prove this by launching herself at Koffing. But Koffing bobbed up and then slammed down on Pidgeotto. She fell to the ground once more. Ekans then head-butted her from the side. Pidgeotto stumbled.

Pidgeotto get back here! Caterpie let out a gasp as the bird pokémon was hit with another attack, and Ash had an idea.

Pikachu, keep Meowth as busy as you can! Ash shouted. Pidgeotto, get back here, I've got an idea! Come to my voice!

Pidgeotto drunkenly flapped over towards Ash.

"Ekans! Finish off that bird!"

"Koffing! Take it down!"

The duo of purple poison pokémon rushed after the wounded Flying Type, just as Ash wanted. Meowth tried to shout a warning, but Pikachu had started to attack him ferociously, leaving him with no time to warn his comrades.

Ekans and Koffing both drew within striking distance of Pidgeotto, who was helpless against them in her current condition.

Pidgeotto down now! Ash ordered. Caterpie String Shot them both!

The flying-type dropped low to the ground as Caterpie jumped off of Ash's head and somersaulted between Pidgeotto and her attackers. His small body uncurled and he let loose a blast of sticky silk. Koffing and Ekans tried to dodge, but their own haste to finish off Pidgeotto had betrayed them. Ekans curled up into a ball to stop any of the silk from getting into its mouth and Koffing made sure to increase the gas pressure around every opening to avoid suffocation.

Caterpie's attack mummified both poison pokémon and they soared past Caterpie on either side of the small green pokémon.

Caterpie hit Koffing with a focused String Shot! And then use that to use Tackle!

At his trainer's command Caterpie spun around as he landed, and shot a silken rope at the out of control Koffing. Last night's accuracy training had come in handy and the sticky strands of string struck and stuck. When the string went taunt physics then took over, yanking Caterpie off the earth and reversing Koffing's uncontrolled flight.

Caterpie lowered his head and set his flying body in a determined posture. He slammed into Koffing and let go of the silk during that midair collision. Like a soccer ball, Koffing was sent through the air and into a tree.

A beam of red light touched upon the bound pokémon and then there was only a pile of silk left.

Ekans hit the ground to the right of Ash and immediately began to free itself using its fangs. As it thrashed and tore at its silken bonds, Ash picked up Pidgeotto and pointed her at Ekans.

Just use Gust straight in front of you, Ash gently told his newest pokémon, setting her down with care.

Alright. Pidgeotto's tone did not fit with the fury of her next attack. The miniature tornado furiously tore up the earth, gouging a wound in the forest floor, as it whirled towards Ekans. The purple poison pokémon just managed to break free when it was sucked up into the vortex and turned into a rag doll by Pidgeotto's winds. It was smashed into a tree and held their by the merciless winds that began to uproot the plant, before a beam of red light touched it and recalled it.

"Enough of this!" Meowth exploded, unleashing a maddeningly fast series of Fury Swipes, forcing Pikachu to take refuge in a tree branch. The cat pokémon then turned to Ash, Caterpie, and Pidgeotto. In the manner of a great cat he pounced towards the group, to claw and bite, and bring down them all down.

Caterpie moved himself between his friends and the attacking cat and unleashed another spray of String Shot. But in a flash of silver Meowth clawed through the silk and landed in front of the startled bug-type pokémon. Claws raised to unleash a devastating series of Fury Swipes on the Caterpie before him, Meowth paused for a second. Something was tugging on his tail.

Meowth turned around, and there was Pikachu, casually holding Meowth's tail and glaring at the normal-type pokémon.

I don't need to be accurate to do THIS! Pikachu exclaimed, letting loose an electric attack. There was no need to target and there was no way for the Rocket counter-measures to stop him from letting an electric attack flow into Meowth. The attack turned Meowth into a sentient puppet at the mercy of electric strings. Meowth jerked and twitched in a bizarre jig as yellow electricity covered him. Only when Pikachu was satisfied did he let Meowth collapse to the ground. Using Agility once more he disappeared from sight and reappeared just a good bit away from Meowth.

Pikachu grinned, and then used Quick Attack one more time. One second Meowth was sitting on the ground and Pikachu was standing on all four legs in another spot and then, in a time shorter than the time it takes to blink, Pikachu stood where Meowth had been and Meowth was flying towards the Rocket humans.

Jessie caught Meowth with one hand. She turned to James, who looked at her. They both nodded.

"Now are we going to have to do this the hard-" Ash started to taunt the Rockets, but they had taken off into the woods, dropping smoke bombs behind them.

Damnit, they got away Ash cursed. Still, from what they were saying earlier, they shouldn't spread word about me to the rest of the Rockets. We're still safe.

And from the looks of it, Pikachu added, they'll keep coming after you until they get what they want, so we're going to have more chances to stop them and turn them into the police. Course it'll give em more chances to get you.

Just to be sure, we'll have to try and avoid the spotlight, Ash grimaced. It'll make it harder for them to track us and I don't want to risk more people finding out about me. Anyway, good job everyone. I think we can skip training tonight that was enough of a work out. But there are some things we're going to have to work on. Pidgeotto-

I'm sorry, Pidgeotto said, not meeting Ash's eyes. I should have come back when you told me to. I just made things worse by trying to fight like that.

It's okay, you were just trying to help, Ash told her, patting the top of her head. But we're going to be training you on how to fight blind. I don't want any of those tricks working again, and we can probably use fighting blind to help with a new variation of Sand-Attack.

Caterpie the pokémon trainer said, turning to the bug-type. You were awesome back there! It was thanks to you that we were able to take out Ekans and you took out Koffing by yourself there at the end. You managed to beat a Poison Type by yourself, you should be feeling really good about yourself now!

You're right Ash, Caterpie said, and I've been thinking about what you said before. I know just how to celebrate this.

Caterpie looked up and let loose a fountain of String Shot. Silk rose up and then showered upon him, flowing around his body, and giving Caterpie a new shape, until Caterpie was Caterpie no longer.

In his place stood Metapod.

Like it? Metapod asked nervously.

Ash simply picked up the bug and hugged him.

"The twerp is very good," James reflected from the campsite, where he sat eating Jessie's refreshments. No use in letting them go to waste after all. "We definitely don't want the League getting this one. "

"Team Rocket deserves such a fine trainer, with an ability that could do so much evil, far more than the League does!" Jessie agreed, packing up the presentation equipment. "But we'll have more chances to recruit him."

"And that Pikachu is unusually strong," Meowth added. "When we recruit Ash we'll get that Pikachu as a bonus."

"If we every confront him in public we should probably use his fake name," James told the group. "Just to be safe. His real name might be important- we should keep an ear out for any information about an Ash."

"What did he go by again?" Jessie pondered, "'Arnold', 'Arthur', 'Adam'... right it was 'Aaron'!"

"And next time, if it looks like he's gaining the upper hand, we should try and stuff some pamphlets and brochures in his bag or something, so that it won't be a waste of time!" Meowth suggested. "And it'll mean we might not have to use force the time after that."

"You know, Jessie, these are pretty good" said James between snacks.

"Thanks, it's been a while and I wasn't sure if I could still make them right' Jessie admitted."So what are we going to try next?"

"Well I've got a few a ideas" James said slyly.

"And I've got some nasty inspiration" Jessie responded, smiling evilly.

"And I've got the cunning to make it work" Meowth added.

"The twerp better be prepared to fight!"

Ash and his pokémon were settling down for the night, Metapod and Pikachu taking the places they had taken last night, and Pidgeotto roosting on a nearby branch.

You sure you don't want to sleep in your pokeball? Ash asked the bird. Since you're not with me up there, it would be safer.

Nah. There's not much in the forest that would mess with a Pidgeotto the flying-type responded. When we get to some of the more dangerous areas, ask me again.

Alright Ash replied, and then crawled into his sleeping bag. He yawned. Just think -in two days we'll be in Pewter City and then we can try for our first gym badge. And then it's off through Mt. Moon and off to Cerulean City for another badge. This is really happening right?

Right, replied Pikachu. Don't worry my idiot, you aren't imagining things. Now let's all get some sleep, if we plan on trekking and training tomorrow we'll need the rest.

And so the group went to sleep, one of the last nights they would ever spend home for a long while.

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