Ash Ketchum has been determined to become the best since he was a toddler. He has his eyes set on a charmander, but a twist of fate led him to the humble Nidoran. Note: Mix between anime and the games.


1. The Rookie Part 1

Today, he reflected, was the most important day of his life. He had been eagerly waiting for this ever since he had been old enough to understand when he would get a pokemon of his very own. Ash had been weighing the pros and cons of the Kanto starters for months now, and he had decided that he wanted a charmander. Ever since he had seen a trainer win a tournament with a charizard on the television he had wanted one. The fire pokemon was strong even when it was young, and only got stronger as it aged and evolved.

He had made sure to bed early last night so he wouldn't be late to Professor Oak's lab. His alarm clock had been set an hour earlier than it needed to and he had made sure his mom knew to wake him up at the time his alarm was supposed to go off. There was no way that he would be late.

It turned out that his plan worked great. Ash was ready to go to the lab whenever his mom was done worrying over him. She was fussing over him and making him promise to stay safe, although she wished him luck just as much. He just let her worry since she might not see him for a long time. Instead of listening, he just envisioned himself becoming Champion with his future charizard at his side.

"Oh!" His mother suddenly exclaimed, looking past his shoulder at the clock. "You need to get going if you want to get to the lab in time! Make sure you come back here and say goodbye before you leave! I'll have your backpack ready."

Ash smiled at her and nodded, the excitement killing any words he might have said. He walked off in the direction of Oak's lab, and he smiled and waved to some of the people that wished him good luck on his journey. Pallet was such a small town that everybody knew that he and a few other kids would be starting today.

In no time at all he was at the large white building. Its windows looked shiny in the sunlight, and he saw that three other kids were standing in front of the doors. Ash walked up nervously, but before he could greet them a familiar, irritating voice broke out from them.

"Oh look!" Gary said arrogantly. "It's the loser. I'm surprised you even showed up – we all know that I'm going to beat you."

Ash gritted his teeth but said nothing. The other two kids – a rather short boy named Jonathan and a pretty girl named Amelia – looked uncomfortable with Gary's teasing but were too meek to protest against him.. They just looked down and kept their eyes away from Gary.

Finally, Ash snapped. "Shut up Gary! I'll beat you when we get our pokemon!"

"Yeah right." Gary smirked. "A loser like you doesn't have any chance against me! But let's do it. I'll show you what it means to be a real trainer."

Ash tightly nodded, glaring at Gary. He reigned in his temper, not wanting to start a fight the day he got his first pokemon. He would just have to beat him in their battle.

The next few minutes passed in silence. Gary dismissed them all, smiling cockily while he leaned against the lab's wall. Ash stood quietly for a moment before walking over to Jonathan and Amelia. They quietly began to chatter about what pokemon they wanted and how they would start off.

Jonathan and Amelia would be travelling together, and they invited Ash to go with them. Ash quickly accepted. He didn't want to be on his own yet and going with Gary wasn't likely to happen – not that either of them would want to travel together to begin with.

Finally, the glass doors neatly slid open. The soon-to-be trainers rushed in eagerly, wanting to be the first to get their pokemon. Gary pushed past the rest of them and Ash was forced to the back. As they entered the cold lab, a short woman in a pristine white lab coat greeted them.

"Hello!" She said warmly. "You must be the new trainers I was told about. Follow me and I'll take you to Professor Oak."

Gary chatted with her as she led them to the professor, but Ash was too nervous to listen. He and the other two kids shared anxious glances as they moved into a small room to the right of the main lab.

Inside was a small table that had three pokeballs on it. Professor Oak stood next to it and smiled reassuringly at them, and greeted them all by name. The familiarity loosened the tension they were feeling, although Gary didn't need it. He had an overabundance of confidence as it was.

Now that he didn't feel like he had a lump in his throat, Ash noticed a small problem.

"Professor Oak?" He asked quietly. Oak looked at him curiously, and despite knowing the man for years Ash found himself regretting speaking up. "There are only three pokeballs."

Oak looked confused for a moment before he realized the problem.

"Oh! I must have made a mistake." Oak said, cheeks turning red from embarrassment. Ash and the other two trainers looked at each other anxiously, not sure if they would get their starters today.

"Don't worry." Oak said as he saw the look they shared. "You'll all get a pokemon. One of you will just have to wait a few minutes for me to procure one."

They shared a sigh of relief. Oak smiled and continued.

"Now, who is willing to wait on their pokemon? I don't want the others to have to wait."

Everyone shared a moment of silence. Gary wasn't paying attention since he was sure to get one of the three pokemon no matter what. The other three trainers just looked at each other, silently hoping that one of the others would volunteer.

After a few moments passed and it became evident that no one was going to say anything, Ash spoke up. He felt a lump of disappointment in his throat as he realized he would have to wait but decided it didn't matter. As long as he got a starter it was fine.

"I'll wait." He said sadly. Oak looked impressed with him and smiled.

"Good. Just let the others get their pokemon and I'll see if I have any others ready." Oak turned away from him and addressed the others. "The pokeball to the left is bulbasaur, a grass type. The pokeball in the middle is charmander, a fire type. The pokeball to the right is squirtle, a water type. Each of them have their strengths and weaknesses, but a skilled trainer can use any of them very well."

Ash watched enviously as Gary pushed in front of the others and grabbed the squirtle's pokeball. Gary released the small blue turtle and sized it up. Apparently he found it to his liking because he smiled at it.

Jonathan chose the charmander and let it out of its ball as well. He looked at the orange lizard in awe, and laughed when the charmander curled up in a ball and tried to sleep. The other boy tried to pet it and the charmander lazily looked up at him.

Amelia picked the bulbasaur. The grass type looked pretty calm and began to investigate its surroundings. After Amelia started talking and petting it the Professor cleared his throat.

"Now that you have your pokemon, could you please return them? I have an important announcement."

Gary grumbled as he returned his squirtle and cockily stared at his grandfather. Amelia and Jonathan didn't say anything and just looked at the old professor. Ash followed their example.

"Now that I have your attention, I'm going to give you each a project to work on during your travels. You see, recently I invented a machine called the pokedex. It collects a detailed amount of information on pokemon, but I need someone else to search the world for me. I'm too old to gather them myself, so I'm entrusting each of you a pokedex to collect the information for me."

With that said he opened up a small bag on a table in the corner and withdrew four small red computers. He handed one to each of them, and Ash looked at curiously before wondering why he had four pokedexes ready but only three pokemon.

"Err, Professor Oak?" He asked. The old man looked at him after he had given Gary a pokedex. "Why did you have four pokedexes but only three pokemon?"

"I have lots of Pokedexes in that bag." Oak explained. He turned back to the new trainers. "Once you activate the pokedex and put your information in it will serve as your identity. Now, the pokedex gives you information on any pokemon you come across. For example, it will give you what type it is, what it likes to eat, what species it is, and will tell you what moves it knows."

Ash's eyes widened as he heard just how much the pokedex could do. Professor Oak continued to list its features, which revealed that it had information like the pokemon's habitat, gender, and a detailed description on the species. When he scanned something with it the pokedex it would give a basic summary of the pokemon, but to learn more about it he had to actually open it up and read.

"Now that you know what it can do, I suggest you all go outside and get ready for your journey. Make sure to activate the pokedex at your earliest opportunity. Ash, please stay in here."

Ash grudgingly nodded and waved Jonathan and Amelia goodbye. Oak said something to his grandson before Gary ran out of the lab. The professor left the area to get Ash's new pokemon. He hoped that Oak could find him a charmander.

"We'll wait for you, don't worry!" Jonathan said with a smile. "Just come meet us at the gate when you're ready. Amelia still has to get her bag anyways."

He grinned and thanked them. When they left he searched around the small room for a chair. After he found one he sat down and impatiently waited for Professor Oak, although he made sure to activate the pokedex while he was waiting. It was a simple process that began once he turned it on and all he had to do was put his name and other information into it.

Activating the pokedex only took a few minutes off of his wait. He tried to count down the time and keep himself from fidgeting too much, and by the time he'd counted to twenty minutes Ash thought he would go crazy.

Professor Oak finally came back holding a plain pokeball. Ash jumped out of his seat in excitement and anxiously waited for Oak to give him his new partner. When Oak held his hand out Ash practically snatched the small orb out of his hand and stared at it in awe.

He pressed the release button and eagerly watched as red energy shot out of the ball and coalesced into a small, pink creature. Ash was momentarily disappointed at not getting a charmander, but that was soon forgotten.

He'd finally gotten a pokemon! Ash crouched down next to the pink creature – a male nidoran, he remembered – and carefully examined him. The nidoran looked at him curiously and twitched its ears. The new trainer grinned, but didn't pet him. He remembered that they were supposed to have poisonous barbs on them.

Ash stood up and aimed the pokedex at Nidoran. The small creature looked up at him and its right ear twitched again. The pokedex scanned it and gave Ash the summary on Nidoran.

Nidoran, the Poison Pin Pokemon. It stiffens its ears to sense danger. The larger its horns, the more powerful its secreted venom.

This nidoran knows the moves: Peck, focus energy, confusion, and leer. Its ability is poison point, which poisons pokemon that use physical moves against it.

"How big are its horns compared to other nidoran?" He asked the professor. Oak looked closely at it for a moment before answering.

"Quite large." He admitted. "This is an impressive specimen of its breed. It will do quite well no matter what you use it for. I must admit that it has quite the advantage in knowing confusion. One of its parents must have been a psychic type."

Ash grinned at that and looked at Nidoran. "Do you want to be friends?"

The Nidoran just looked at him and twitched its ears before nervously looking around. Ash remembered that they were supposed to be one of the more nervous breeds of pokemon and kneeled down. Maybe if he looked smaller it would be more comfortable.

He held his hand out and the pink creature cautiously stepped forward. Nidoran sniffed his hand and didn't try to attack him and calmed down a bit. After Nidoran seemed to be calmed down Ash returned him to his pokeball and thanked Oak.

Ash could barely hold in his excitement at finally having a pokemon. Who needed a charmander? He had Nidoran, which evolved into pretty powerful pokemon.

As he walked out of the lab he noticed that Gary was waiting outside with a cocky smile on his face. Ash gritted his teeth as he saw Gary and withdrew his pokeball.

"What took you so long, Ashy-boy?" Gary asked as he released his squirtle. The turtle tried to mimic its owners pose, but fell over doing it. Ash had to hold back a laugh as the turtle got back up, but the squirtle still noticed.

"C'mon." Gary said, annoyed at Ash's laughter. "I bet squirtle can beat your pokemon easy."

Ash grinned and released Nidoran. The small pokemon scratched its large ear when it came out and looked at Ash.

"Hey, Nidoran. Can you beat that squirtle for me?" Ash said. Nidoran looked over at Gary's squirtle and growled, extending its large poisonous barbs. Squirtle shrunk back a little, clearly intimidated by the dripping beads of poison.

"Ha!" Gary said, clearly not as impressed as squirtle. "That's the pokemon Gramps gave you? It's not even a real starter. Go get him, squirtle. Use tackle!"

His face colored in anger, but he wouldn't let Gary talk like that to Nidoran. Nidoran growled loudly and his barbs began to drip more poison. The small creature squared itself as squirtle charged at him.

Ash thought fast, going over Nidoran's capabilities. He knew that Nidoran wouldn't be very durable, so he couldn't just let squirtle tackle Nidoran. The squirtle nearly tripped several times as it ran towards Nidoran, but Ash didn't laugh at it. He needed to focus.

"Dodge and peck!" He cried. Nidoran jumped out of the way at the last second and let the turtle run into the lab's wall. His pokemon lunged at the dazed turtle and rammed its vulnerable underbelly with his horn.

Squirtle cried out in pain, but at the insistence of its trainer it pulled itself up and continued fighting. The turtle tried another tackle, this time hitting Nidoran in the back before he or Ash could react. Even as Nidoran was knocked back a foot, squirtle began to fall over. Nidoran's barbs had injected the tired squirtle full of venom when it tackled Nidoran, and the turtle was unable to fight.

Ash cheered Nidoran on for a moment before taking a risk. He didn't pull his pokemon back into his ball, instead motioning for Nidoran to follow him. The pink creature cheerfully followed Ash as the new trainer went home.

Gary didn't give them any trouble. He was too shocked that he had lost to bother them. They left Gary with his unconscious squirtle and walked back to Ash's home in euphoria over their win. Ash grinned and jumped almost the entire way home.

His mom was watching TV when they entered the small house. When Ash and Nidoran walked in, she jumped up and squealed in excitement when she saw the small pokemon.

"Oh, Ash! It's so cute!" She cried before scooping Nidoran up. Ash tried to call out a warning before she pricked herself on one of the poisonous barbs. His mom just looked at him admonishingly. She was carrying Nidoran strangely, but Ash realized that it was a position that would keep Nidoran from accidently pricking her.

"Don't you remember?" She asked as she carried the happy Nidoran around with her to get Ash's backpack. "I studied under Professor Oak for a few years. He taught me a lot about pokemon."

Ash blushed in embarrassment as he remembered that. His mom set Nidoran down before going to get his backpack. Nidoran walked next to his feet and sat down. He seemed to be listening for something, although Ash thought the little creature was just paranoid.

After a few minutes his mom brought out his blue backpack and handed it to him. Ash unzipped and looked inside to make sure it had everything he would need.

Food for him and his pokemon? Check.

A map? Check.

Rope and potions? Check.

A few more things were in the bottom and side pockets, but he didn't look at those yet. He had all the necessities and anything else he could buy at Viridian City. Now all that was left was to say goodbye to his mom.

Ash turned to her, but before he could say anything she had wrapped him in a crushing hug. He sputtered and thought his ribs were going to crack, and when his mom finally let go he gasped for air.

"Stay safe." She said. Ash thought that he could see tears in her eyes, but she pushed him out of the door before he could check.

The new trainer waved her goodbye and when he was finally out of sight of the house he ran to the gate that separated Pallet Town from Route 1. Ash saw the others waiting on him and both of them looked at Nidoran in curiosity.

"Is that a Nidoran!" Amelia asked excitedly. "That's so cool. I didn't even know the Professor had one."

Nidoran looked uncomfortable under the attention and sat down on the soft dirt. He scratched his ear as an attempt to ignore the attention Amelia was giving him.

"So what moves does he know?" Jonathan asked. "Charmander knows growl, scratch, and ember. I'm going to try and teach him smokescreen later."

Ash told his new traveling partners Nidoran's move set, and both were surprised when they heard that the poison type knew confusion.

"Wow, you're really lucky." Jonathan said. "But I think we need to get going. My mom got to Viridian City in three days and I want to beat her record."

Ash and Amelia grinned and nodded their assent. They wanted to get their journey underway just as much as Jonathan did. With that they set off down the worn dirt road of Route 1, eager to venture out into the world.


Ash had to return Nidoran after a while. Although his starter was valiantly attempting to keep up with them, its stubby legs and slow speed caused it to be pretty tired after half an hour. He didn't want Nidoran to tire himself out before they could find something to battle.

"So," he began in attempt to revive the conversation, "did you guys see the battle between Bruno and that Marcus guy last night?"

"That was awesome!" Jonathan said loudly. Ash noticed that a few pidgey roosting in the tree above them fled due to Jonathan's loud voice. "Bruno actually lost! I think Marcus or whatever his name is lost to Agatha though."

"What happened?" Amelia asked curiously as they walked down the trail. "My parents made me go to bed before the battle came on. I only got to see the end of Lorelei's match."

"Oh it was great!" Jonathan said boisterously. "Marcus' Gengar beat all of Bruno's pokemon except for onix. I think Bruno got pretty mad over his loss."

Ash and Amelia listened intently, but eventually they got bored of Jonathan practically swooning over the Elite Four. Amelia diverted the conversation to something that neither Ash nor Jonathan had known about.

"So have either of you heard about the spearow flock that's been causing trouble around here?" She asked. Jonathan looked pretty nervous – everyone in their class at Pallet Town had known that he was terrified of bird pokemon – but Ash wanted to know more.

"I thought that Professor Oak had them driven off a few weeks ago?" Ash said, reflecting back to the day that Oak had left with his gigantic dragonite. Gary had been bragging about being taught by his grandfather all day after that.

"He did." Amelia confirmed. "But they came back. I heard they've been attacking trainers, so we should probably be on guard. My older sister in Viridian City told me that the Pokemon Center there has been getting a lot of hurt people in from them."

Jonathan groaned and kept a hand on his pokeball. Ash noticed that he was quickly glancing around at the trees as if he was trying to spot the flock.

"Too bad none of us have an electric type." Ash said. "Nidoran doesn't have any moves for a lot of pokemon at once. How about you guys?"

"Bulbasaur knows vine whip and sleep powder." Amelia said off the top of her head. "I'm going to teach him poison powder and razor leaf soon. But right now I don't think he could do very much against a flock of spearow. They would have way too good of a type advantage."

"Ember would be able to fight off a few of them." Jonathan whispered as he continued searching the area for birds. Both Ash and Amelia looked at him oddly. "But he would have to get closer before he could really do anything."

Ash shrugged. They would just have to run if they came across the flock. For now it seemed like the sun was about to set.

"Hey, guys, it's getting dark. Do either of you know how to set up a camp?"

Jonathan and Amelia shook their heads. Ash sighed, realizing that he probably should have asked someone to teach him before setting out on their journey. It looked like the first night would be pretty uncomfortable.

They continued on for a bit longer before reaching a place that would be comfortable to sleep in. It was a small clearing surrounded by trees. The clearing had decent cover from any surprise rainfall they might get and was out of the way enough to keep them out of trouble.

At least they had all remembered to bring their sleeping bags, Ash thought as he laid his out on the ground. Jonathan was out searching for logs or something to burn while Amelia had begun to divide up small portions of food for them. Ash had to find a place to get more water in case they ran out in the morning.

Their large, thick plastic water bottles still had plenty in them, but none of them were willing to just play around in the wilderness. They'd all heard too many horror stories of kids getting lost and being found after they'd died from the wild. None of them wanted to be like that.

Ash yawned and wondered where Jonathan was. He definitely wouldn't be in any trouble – the pokemon around Pallet Town tended to be young and weak and wouldn't want to mess with a charmander – but he wasn't the smartest guy in class and could get lost. Anyone could get lost when it was this dark, although charmander and its tail flame would come in handy.

Just as he and Amelia were beginning to get worried, they heard a rustling at the edge of the trees. Amelia released her bulbasaur and Ash was just about to release Nidoran when they realized it was Jonathan. Their friend stumbled into the dark campsite with his arms full of small branches and other foliage.

Both of them were in awe of how much Jonathan had managed to carry and didn't say anything as he threw the massive pile into the small circle of stones they had created and collapsed near his sleeping bag. He was barely visible in the dim light from charmander's tail, but Ash could see him tiredly point at the pile of fuel.

"Catch that on fire." He said with a yawn. Charmander shot a small stream of flame onto the brush before walking over next to his trainer and curling into a ball, although the lizard was careful to keep its tail flame away from Jonathan.

"Put that out before you guys fall asleep." Jonathan said tiredly. Ash nodded and got off of his sleeping bag so that he could scoot closer to the fire's warmth. He released Nidoran, who seemed rather happy with the small camp. The small creature sniffed around for a few moments before sitting next to Ash and staring at the fire.

Ash heard snores coming from his left, which meant that Amelia had fallen asleep. He smiled as he thought of his two new traveling partners. Jonathan and Amelia had been good friends at school, but they hadn't really associated with him very much. In fact, the only thing he had really known about them was that they would be leaving on their pokemon journies, just like him. The rest of the class had been either too young or deemed too irresponsible to leave Pallet Town.

He was pulled out of his thoughts by Nidoran, who seemed to be growling at something. Ash frowned in concern and stayed silent as Nidoran's ears twitched. If there was something out in the woods, it would definitely be Nidoran to realize it.

After a while Nidoran relaxed, but Ash was still on edge. He hadn't realized just how nervous sleeping in the wilderness could make him. Ash grew less tense, but he still tried to listen to the forest. The trainer grew tired after about half an hour of sitting next to the fire and decided to go to sleep.

Before he went to the sleeping bag he poured a pile of dirt they had gathered over the dwindling flame, extinguishing it. As he slid into his sleeping bag he looked at Nidoran, who had stayed close to him the entire time.

"Will you wake up if you hear something?" He asked slowly, unsure if Nidoran could understand him. Luckily, however, the small creature seemed to nod at him enthusiastically. Ash smiled at his starter. "If you hear something, make sure to wake us up."

Nidoran nodded and curled up next to him, although he kept his back and its poisonous barbs to the fire pit. The pink pokemon didn't want to hurt his trainer by accident.

Soon enough they were both asleep, tired after their first day on the road.


Ash yawned as he woke up and stretched his stiff muscles. He looked around and noticed that Nidoran was standing next to him. The small pokemon nipped him again to keep him from going back to sleep.

"I'm up." The trainer said, waving Nidoran and his sharp teeth away.

It looked to be almost noon if the powerful sun was any indication, and Ash realized that he needed to wake the others up. They all wanted to get to Viridian City as fast as they could, so every hour counted.

He walked over to Amelia since she was closer and shook her awake. She groaned and told him to go away, but he kept at it until she finally got up. Amelia rubbed her eyes and tried to smooth out her hair.

"What time is it?" She asked with bleary eyes.

"I think it's close to noon." He replied. "Do you want to wake up Jonathan? I'll go fill up our bottles."

"Sure." She shrugged. Amelia dug around in her backpack for a moment before handing her bottle to him. After he'd taken it she walked over to Jonathan's sleeping form and lightly kicked him in the back.

Jonathan just waved her away, obviously still trying to sleep. Amelia sighed and walked over to Charmander, shaking the lizard awake. It had the same reaction as its trainer, but snorted out a small cloud of smoke to keep her away.

Ash watched from a small distance away with Nidoran as Amelia sent out Bulbasaur. The grass type looked around before focusing its eyes on its trainer.

"Wake them up with vine whip." She commanded. Bulbasaur nodded in agreement and sent out small vines from around its bulb, which it when smacked the sleeping forms with. Jonathan shot up with wild eyes and Charmander had a similar reaction, although the lizard also tried to use ember on Bulbasaur. Amelia returned Bulbasaur before it could get hurt.

"What was that for?" Jonathan grumbled. He rubbed the red spot on his arm where the vine had hit him before returning the irate charmander.

"That's for not getting up." Amelia said with a smirk. "Come on, we need to get going. It's almost noon."

Jonathan sighed and got out of the sleeping bag. Ash walked over and picked up the water bottle that had been behind the other trainer.

"Can one of you get my sleeping bag while I fill these up?" He asked. Jonathan sighed and nodded to him and began to walk over to the blue bag.

Ash soon found himself at the small stream with Nidoran, who was carefully listening to their surroundings. He took the top off of the bottles and quickly filled the thick plastic containers up. Jonathan would probably need to have Charmander boil it for them – he'd remembered about the dangerous illnesses people got from drinking water from ponds, and the bottles were made to be nearly incapable of melting – but it should be fine.

By the time he'd gotten back to the campsite his companions had cleaned everything up. Amelia looked to have just finished packing up her things, while Jonathan was leaning against a tree. Jonathan looked like he was about to fall asleep again, but every time he closed his eyes Bulbasaur – who Amelia had released while he was gone – lightly whipped him again.

Suddenly, a horrible shriek broke the serene silence of the forest. Nidoran's ears twitched and turned toward the source – Amelia. Ash curiously looked for whatever had made the normally calm girl scream, and easily identified it.

A small purple rattata was pawing at her backpack and had completely ignored Amelia. She flushed from her embarrassment at screaming and turned to Bulbasaur.

"Use vine whip!" She commanded. The grass type nodded and released its vines, which brutally smashed into the small rodent. Rattata growled and ran towards Bulbasaur with its teeth bared. Bulbasaur tried to whip it again, but the rattata suddenly seemed to vanish before impacting the grass type.

Ash watched curiously as Bulbasaur was knocked onto its side by the quick attack. The rattata wasted no time in savagely biting and scratching Bulbasaur, and nearly bit one of Bulbasaur's vines when Bulbasaur used them to pull itself up.

Amelia was digging through her bag for something when the rattata used quick attack again, although this time Bulbasaur stood strong against the attack. The rattata tried to bite Bulbasaur again, but it was knocked over as Amelia threw a pokeball at it.

As the small ball bounced off of the rat, it opened up and shot a beam of red energy at the rattata. It sucked the pokemon into the ball and everyone was silent as it shook three times before finally clicking.

"YES!" Amelia exclaimed, pumping her arm into the air as she walked over to the pokeball. She reverently picked it up and stared at it for a moment, seemingly unable to believe that she had caught her second pokemon.

"Good job, Bulbasaur!" She said to the wounded pokemon. Amelia kneeled down and wrapped it in a tight hug, but drew away when Bulbasaur winced from its injuries. "Do any of you have a potion? My mom forgot to buy mine."

"Yeah." Jonathan said as he dug around in his bag. A few moments later he withdrew a small bottle. He tossed it to Amelia, who deftly caught it and unscrewed the cap. She sprayed it onto Bulbasaur's injuries, and the grass type closed its eyes happily as the potion healed the scratches and bites.

Amelia recalled Bulbasaur, who looked quite happy to be going into his ball. Ash did the same with Nidoran. Neither could keep up with them yet, and Ash didn't want Nidoran to get tired.

"Now that that's over," Jonathan said as he put his backpack on, "let's get going. I want to break my mom's time."

They all agreed and set off a few minutes later. Ash hoped that he would find a pokemon or another trainer to battle.


After about an hour of walking they found another trainer, a girl that was fishing next to the path. Ash grinned and the group walked over to her. He wanted Nidoran to get lots of experience before the first gym leader.

"Hey!" He called out. The girl looked over at him irritably, allowing Ash to get a better look at her. She had orange hair that was tied into a unique ponytail.

"What do you want?" She asked in annoyance, clearly not impressed with him. Apparently she expected that he wanted a battle as her pokeball was in her hand.

"Do you want to battle?"

"Sure." She grinned cockily. "Don't expect to win though. One on one?"

Ash just smiled and nodded before tapping the release button. Nidoran growled when it was released and extended his barbs to their full length. The girl looked surprised at the appearance of Nidoran but shrugged and released a pokemon that Ash recognized as a staryu.

He waited for her to make the first move. She was definitely more experienced than him, so he would give her a few seconds to act. Staryu wasn't something he knew a lot about, so an indication of its abilities would be nice.

The girl seemed to realize this and grinned. "Use harden and follow up with tackle!"

Ash responded quickly. "Confusion!"

Nidoran's eyes glowed a bright, ethereal purple as it stared at the rapidly approaching staryu. The staryu seemed to realize what was about to happen, but continued its charge. The psychic attack knocked the staryu onto the ground. It didn't get back up for a moment, and Ash hoped that he had gotten lucky and knocked it out with one hit.

Unfortunately the staryu pulled itself back up, but the girl seemed a bit more wary of him now.

"Use water gun!" She cried. "Then harden and tackle again."

The staryu seemed to nod at her before turning back to Nidoran, who warily watched its opponent. A second later a strong jet of water erupted from staryu's core, and although Nidoran tried to dodge he was too slow.

Nidoran was stunned for a second, giving staryu a chance to finish up its attack. It seemed to glow for a moment, becoming completely rigid, before launching into Nidoran. Ash frowned as Nidoran cried out in pain and tried to think of a way out of the situation. His frown vanished as he realized that the staryu's gem seemed slightly duller than it had before. It looked like poison point had come in handy yet again.

"Use peck on its gem." He said. Nidoran jumped at the slower staryu and lowered its head. Its sharp horn landed straight in the center of staryu's gem, sending cracks through it and causing a look of panic on the girl's face as her pokemon collapsed.

Ash grinned and congratulated Nidoran when he realized staryu had fainted. The girl returned her pokemon and grumbled in annoyance, but walked over to him and shook his hand.

"You did good." She admitted. A few seconds later she sighed and dug around in her pockets, pulling out a wallet. Ash watched curiously as she pulled out a few bills and handed it to him.

"What's this for?"

"If you've got more than a thousand pokedollars you have to give the winner of a battle a share." She explained. "It's a pretty new rule, but it's made to give trainers a reason to get better. No one wants to lose money just because they're bad at battling."

"Oh." Ash said. He frowned for a moment. "What happens if you lose all your money? How would you buy food and stuff?"

"If you have a thousand pokedollars or less you don't have to pay." She explained. "Now, could you please let me get back to fishing?"

Ash didn't say anything and left with his new spoils, returning Nidoran as he walked back to his friends with a grin on his face.

"Good job!" Jonathan said excitedly. "Why did the staryu get all weak and slow after it tackled Nidoran, though?"

"Nidoran has the poison point ability." Ash explained, still smiling at his victory. "If something hits him his barbs can poison them. That's how I beat Gary."

Jonathan instantly stopped walking and turned to look at Ash. "You beat Gary?" He asked incredulously. "Why didn't you tell us about it?"

"Yeah." Amelia added. "That would have been a great story to tell us yesterday."

"Well," Ash began, scratching his head in embarrassment, "remember how he wanted to battle me once we got our starters?"

His companions nodded.

"He waited for me outside the lab and challenged me once I left. His squirtle wasn't trained and just kept on trying to tackle Nidoran. Nidoran's poison point knocked it out after we made it run into the wall."

"Wish I could have seen it." Amelia sighed. "Gary's really been a jerk lately. Oh well, we probably won't have to see him until the Conference."

"Hopefully." Muttered Jonathan. Ash nodded in agreement. They were quiet as they continued on their journey.

Every hour or so they encountered another trainer, most of whom were beaten by Ash. Amelia didn't want to do anything until she could get Bulbasaur checked out and she didn't trust Rattata yet. Jonathan battled them once Nidoran began to get tired. He won all of his battles as well.

By sunset both of them were rather tired from battling and the road. Ash had begun to feel the soreness from the first day of walking and his feet were aching a lot. He was starting to wish that he could just get carried around in a pokeball. At least he could just sit down.

Finally they found a good place to spend the night. It was almost exactly like their first campsite, but this one had a small pond right next to it. Not even Nidoran could detect any pokemon living in it so they judged that it was safe.

Everyone took the same jobs they had before, although this time Jonathan got plenty of fuel for the fire very quickly. He wasn't quite as tired as Ash was and didn't have to search around in the dark. By the time Jonathan had gotten back Ash had filled up the bottles and he and Amelia were making a small ring of stones for the campfire.

"Could you guys hurry it up?" Jonathan panted as he struggled to hold up the huge amount of fallen branches and small plants.

"Almost done." Ash said distractedly, placing one of the last rocks in the small circle. Amelia just scoffed and looked up at Jonathan with an annoyed expression.

"It's your fault that you got so much wood. What you've got would be enough to keep it burning for a week."

"Oh, shut up." Jonathan grumbled. "Now hurry up and let me put this stuff down. My arms are starting to hurt."

Amelia rolled her eyes but finished up their small pile of stones. Jonathan threw the massive pile of brush into the ring and sat down, panting heavily. He pulled his pokeball off of his belt and released Charmander.

"Could you catch that on fire?" He asked the lizard. Charmander yawned and lazily touched its burning tail to the pile of vegetation, instantly catching it on fire. All three trainers sighed in relief as the heat began to warm them against the cold night air.

Charmander watched the dancing flames for a moment before walking over to Jonathan and curling up by his side. Jonathan idly patted his head as he began to talk to the others.

"So, the first gym leader is a rock trainer, right?" He asked as he continued petting Charmander. Ash and Amelia released their pokemon as well, although Amelia kept Rattata in its ball. Apparently she still didn't trust the rodent.

"Yeah. His name is Brock." Amelia replied, leaning onto Bulbasaur. "My sister met him two years ago when she started out. He's supposed to be the weakest gym leader, mostly thanks to inexperience. But Jessica said that he was still pretty tough."

"Of course he is." Jonathan snorted. "He's a gym leader. If he was weak the League would find a new one. But I've heard the Sensational Sisters at Cerulean are the weakest."

Ash raised a quizzical eyebrow. "The Sensational Sisters?" He interjected. "I thought those were just performers."

"Nope." Amelia said, shaking her head. "They do a lot of shows, but they're also gym leaders. But I've heard that they're actually pretty tough. My sister lost to one of them the first time. She said that they just didn't care much about the gym and would probably be some of the hardest gym leaders if they were more focused."

"Yeah, but who cares about that? I just want to see one of their shows." Jonathan said with a grin. Ash looked at him in confusion.

"Why would you want to do that? I just want to battle them and get the badge."

"Well," Jonathan said with an even wider grin, "let's just say that they're so popular for a reason. Not all of the people are there just because they're talented."

"I still don't get it." Ash said with a growing sense of confusion. Jonathan just sighed theatrically and looked at him condescendingly.

"I'll tell you when you're older."

Amelia rolled her eyes but barely held in a laugh. Ash just blinked and shrugged. Clearly he didn't get the joke. It wasn't like he understood half the things that came out of Jonathan's mouth anyways.

"What are you guys going to use against Brock?" Amelia asked, returning to their original subject. "I'm just going to use sleep powder on whatever he sends out and then use vine whip or razor leaf if I'm able to teach it to Bulbasaur."

"I'm about to look at Nidoran's entry on the pokedex and see what moves he learns." Ash said with a shrug. "If there's something that would be effective against Brock I'll try to teach it to him. If not I'll either find another way or catch a pokemon that can. How about you, Jonathan?"

"Oh, that's easy." Jonathan said slowly, putting down his pokedex. He had pulled it out and seemed to be looking at the information on Charmander. "It says that he can learn metal claw pretty easily. I'm going to wake up early and try to get him started on it. Of course," he said with a grin, "my dad says there's a loophole for fire types."

"Really?" Amelia asked with a suspicious tone. "What is it and why would he know about it?"

"I really don't know if I should tell you." The trainer said playfully. When he saw Ash's glare he relented. "Fine, fine. My dad says that he found it on accident back when he was a trainer and went to the gym. You see, Pewter City's gym hasn't been renovated in a really long time and still has a really sensitive sprinkler system in it."

Dawning looks of realization spread across Ash and Amelia's faces. Jonathan looked rather proud of himself, judging by the imperious smirk he wore.

"Wow." Ash whistled. "Looks like you'll have a pretty easy time with Brock if you use a fire attack. I'd have thought they'd get that fixed in a rock type gym."

"Well they didn't. But," Jonathan frowned, "I really don't want to take advantage of that unless I have to. It wouldn't really be a win, would it? Just me taking advantage of a loophole."

Ash and Amelia nodded their understanding. The conversation continued for a while, each getting to know each other and what their goals were. Last night they had been too tired to really talk to each other, so this was a nice change.

He learned that Jonathan didn't really have a set goal other than to be a good trainer and succeed. Amelia wanted to win the Indigo League, although she admitted that just getting to the Conference would be a great success in her first year as a trainer.

And he, of course, wanted to be a Pokemon Master. Surprisingly, they hadn't laughed at it. Most people did laugh at his dream, thinking that it was just a youthful fantasy that would go away in a few months. But Ash knew that he could do it. He could feel it in his heart.

The group didn't stop talking until late in the night, although as they grew more and more tired the conversation began to die down a bit. Eventually everyone but Ash went to bed, although Nidoran was still awake and keeping him company.

Ash was reading the detailed entry of Nidoran on the pokedex, carefully examining his moves. He'd picked out double kick, which would work well with focus energy, and Nidoran's confusion attack. There weren't many moves good against rock types, but he'd already begun to work out a strategy that should work against Brock. It would be better if he knew what pokemon the gym leader would use, but as long as it wasn't something too powerful Nidoran would at least be able to hold his own.

"Hey, Nidoran." He asked, carefully nudging the small pokemon on its barbless face. Nidoran sleepily looked up at him, his large ears twitching. "Do you think you could learn how to use double kick?"

Nidoran nodded before walking over next to the empty sleeping bag and curling up into a ball. Ash wasn't sure if the nod was to get him to shut up and let Nidoran sleep or if it was a real confirmation. It looked like he would have to find out tomorrow.

Ash got into his sleeping bag after putting out the fire. It had been a long day.


He was woken up by a stinging sensation on his face. Ash yelped and stood up, but got caught in his sleeping bag. When he had untangled himself and escaped it, he glared at the culprit.

Bulbasaur just stared back at him with unblinking eyes. Ash eventually broke the stare and grumbled as he stood up. Nidoran obediently stood next to him as Ash dug around in his backpack for food.

Nidoran quickly snapped up the pieces of food Ash put on the ground in front of him and looked at the trainer with begging eyes. Ash sighed and gave him a bit more, but put the food away after he'd gotten a sandwich.

"Why'd you have Bulbasaur whip me?" He complained to a smirking Amelia. "It was a lot funnier when I got to see it happen to Jonathan."

"Stop complaining." Amelia retorted. "The rest of us have been up since seven. You just stayed up too late."

"Wait, what time is it?" Ash asked in a panic. He didn't want to waste more time by oversleeping.

"Don't worry, it's just nine. We don't want to waste time any more than you do. We've got about another day or so of traveling."

He sighed in relief and recalled Nidoran before beginning to clean up his sleeping bag. Ash finished his sandwich as he shoved the highly compressed sleeping bag into the backpack. One thing he noticed was that he was much sorer than yesterday and every move brought aches and pains.

"So where's Jonathan?" He asked, not noticing the other boy anywhere. The entire camp was packed up and their water bottles had been filled again, but Jonathan wasn't even at the small pond. Maybe he was trying to teach Charmander metal claw.

"He's trying to teach Charmander that move he was talking about last night." Amelia explained as she recalled Bulbasaur. "It's actually pretty funny."

"How?" Ash asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Jon has no idea how to teach it." She said with a grin, sitting down on the soft dirt. "He's just been telling it to harden its claws or something like that. Charmander just looks up at him and tries to go back to sleep."

"So it's true that pokemon take after their trainers." Ash said with a grin, laughing at the image Amelia had painted. She laughed as well, but an annoyed voice broke it.

"Oh, shut up." Jonathan said as he stumbled into the camp, breathing heavily and covered with ash. Both of them stared at Jonathan, slowly taking in his disheveled appearance.

"I wish someone had told us how we're supposed to teach pokemon moves." He complained as he collapsed onto a rock. "After Charmander started trying he ended up concentrating so hard that he snorted out a bunch of fire."

"Did you put it out?" Amelia asked in alarm.

"Yes, mother, I put it out." He scoffed. "It got me covered with a bunch of soot and dirt though. And Charmander didn't help at all. He just went to sleep while I did all the work."

Ash grinned at the story. "Do you need to clean up?"

"Nah." Jonathan replied, although he flushed for some reason. "I actually only have one set of clothes, so I can't exactly wash them in the pond. It would hold us back too long anyways."

"Why do you only have one pair of clothes?" Amelia asked. "That's disgusting! You can't just wear one set the entire time we're on the road."

"Well, I sort of got in a rush when I was packing…" He said in embarrassment, scratching the back of his head. "But I left a few pairs with your sister and aunt last time we were flown to Viridian. If they threw them out I'll just buy a few other pairs with that money I won."

Amelia just sighed, clearly used to these sorts of things. Ash decided to get onto another subject before they headed out.

"Are you going to let your rattata out?" He asked curiously. "Bulbasaur is still hurt and you might need him to protect against wild pokemon."

Jonathan seemed to agree with him, judging by the vigorous nod he gave. Amelia flushed and looked down at the rodent's pokeball, lightly tapping it in apprehension.

"I'm still kind of scared of him." She admitted. "He hurt Bulbasaur pretty bad, and I'm afraid he's going to try and attack me if I let him out."

"Well, you've got to do it eventually." Jonathan said with a shrug. "Better to make friends with him now than later. I say you do it before we leave the camp. We've got some time to spare."

"Fine." She said. Amelia began to search in one of her backpack's pockets before pulling out a small piece of pokemon food. "Could one of you let your pokemon out?"

Both of them nodded. They tapped the button on their pokeball and the red energy soon coalesced into Charmander and Nidoran. Both looked around curiously, but seemed to understand what they were released for when Amelia released Rattata.

The rodent hissed when it was released and all the fur on its back stood up. It bared its sharp teeth at them all before growling at Amelia, who had kneeled to the ground and was holding out the food. Rattata looked like it might try to bite her when she began speaking, but a loud growl by Charmander and the sound of Nidoran's barbs extending rid it of that idea.

"Listen." Amelia said firmly. "You might not like me right now, but I want you to. And if you keep on like this you're never going to be released from your pokeball. If you act better we can be friends and you'll get stronger. So make your choice."

Rattata's ears drooped at the prospect of staying in the pokeball and it cautiously approached Amelia and took the food from her hand. Amelia smiled widely as the pokemon nibbled on the piece of food and spoke to it again.

"You're going to have to back into the ball now, but I promise to let you out as soon as I can. Is that all right?"

The rodent growled for a moment but cautiously nodded. It hissed as it was returned. Amelia smiled and shrunk the pokeball before placing it back on her belt. She was clearly pleased with the results she'd gotten and cockily glanced at Ash and Jonathan before walking onto the nearby path.

"C'mon!" She called back to them. "Let's get a move on."

Ash and Jonathan groaned before following her on their sore legs, although the pain began to lessen as their muscles were stretched. They caught up with Amelia pretty quickly and began their third day.

It progressed much the same as the last day. None of them were really concerned with getting to Viridian City very quickly, instead opting to enjoy the traveling and the frequent battles. Nidoran had recovered admirably from his battles the previous day and seemed to be itching for a fight against the other trainers.

Jonathan had his own good share of battles – winning most of them, more than making up for any losses – but eventually decided that Charmander had had enough. From that point on – about four hours after they'd started walking – it was just Amelia and Rattata and Ash and Nidoran's insatiably appetite for battling.

Amelia had proved to be pretty good as well – she was about the same level as Jonathan, and learned how to take advantage of Rattata's small size and surprisingly ferocious temperament rather quickly – and only lost two of her five battles. Ash kept his unbroken streak, much to the annoyance of his companions.

One thing that he had noticed was that there were a lot more trainers today, which he judged to be due to their proximity to Viridian City. They couldn't be more than a day away from the frontier city.

Still, by the end of the day he was extremely tired. Nidoran was still energetic – something that Ash didn't understand after all the fighting the small pokemon had done – and still wanted to fight. The last battle he had been in was an incredibly easy match against a younger trainer's caterpie. Needless to say, the caterpie was knocked out with a single confusion.

The tired group was looking for another campsite when a loud, piercing shriek split the air. Ash looked up and saw a pidgey perched high above them on a tall tree and grinned. One looked to be slightly larger than the others and looked down its beak at the group, apparently unimpressed with the trainers.

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