Traveler

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.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8466693/1/Traveler

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2. The Rookie Part 2

As it shrieked again, fluffing up its feathers and trying to look as intimidating as possible, his grin grew. He wanted the prideful creature. Ash decided to let Nidoran get one last battle in and pulled one of the empty pokeballs off his belt. He noticed that Jonathan had a hand clenched around Charmander's pokeball and another in a tight fist. Jonathan's face was pale and he was looking away from the bird.

He tapped the button to release Nidoran and laughed when the pidgey puffed up even more before it shrieked out another challenge. Nidoran instantly locked eyes with it and lowered his larger horn, extending his barbs with a small clicking sound.

Pidgey waited until Nidoran was ready before swooping down with another loud shriek. Ash let it get off its branch before giving an order to Nidoran, who was squared and more than ready for the bird pokemon.

"Use confusion." He commanded. Nidoran's eyes glowed an ethereal pink, and pidgey seemed to try to spin around in midair for a second. Ash grinned as the psychic attack took effect, but winced when the pidgey went careening into a small tree. It didn't look to be harmed from the impact, but it continued to stumble around as it clumsily stood up.

"Tackle it." He said. His pokemon charged at the pidgey quickly, covering the ground at a decent pace considering Nidoran's small legs. The pidgey turned to look at Nidoran just a moment before the poison type tackled it, knocking the bird unconscious.

"Great job!" Ash cheered as Nidoran walked over to his feet. He leaned down to pat him on the head before returning to the situation. A second later he hurled his pokeball at the pidgey and hit the bird in the wing. The ball bounced off before opening up and sucking the pidgey into it.

Pidgey was helpless to resist in its unconscious state and the pokeball clicked after rolling around a bit. Ash pumped his arm up into the air in victory and walked over to pick the newly occupied pokeball up, reverently attaching it to his belt.

"Is it gone yet?" Jonathan asked tightly through closed eyes. Ash just grinned.

"We've got a new traveling companion. Does that count as it being gone?"

Ash and Amelia laughed as Jonathan groaned. Amelia gave him a thumbs up, but they were interrupted by Jonathan dramatically groaning and throwing his hands in the air, although the other boy made sure to reattach the pokeball to his belt first.

"Why would you catch the feathered menace?" He lamented, falling to the ground and burying his face into his hands. "It's probably going to watch me at night with those cruel, beady little eyes…"

"Wait, since when did you use words like that?" Amelia asked. "I didn't even know you knew what menace meant."

"Ha, ha." Jonathan laughed sarcastically, standing up and glaring at her. "Of course I know what menace means. I'm not dumb. Whatever, let's just go. I don't want more of those monsters to find us."

The other two rolled their eyes, but followed him as he stalked down the path. Jonathan kept a close eye on all the trees they passed, searching for any bird pokemon.

"Why are you so scared of bird pokemon anyways?" Ash asked, recalling Nidoran. "There are a lot of pokemon a lot scarier than them."

"I'm not scared of them." The other boy said in a very high voice. "I just don't like them."

"Oh, here we go." Amelia groaned, apparently knowing what was about to happen. "You'll be sorry about asking him about that later."

"Shut up!" Jonathan growled, turning to face Amelia. "It's your sister's fault anyways."

"What happened?" He asked curiously. Ash had met Amelia's older sister a few times before, although he'd never talked to her very long. She'd seemed nice. Maybe she just liked messing with Jonathan.

Amelia laughed. "She was showing off her new murkrow after she got back from Johto while Jon was over a few years ago. Jon spent the night and –"

"And that stupid bird decided to watch me sleep." Jonathan said irritably. "I woke up and saw those creepy, glowing red eyes staring at me and freaked out. That stupid bird got scared and decided that I was dangerous so it used nightshade on me. That's when everyone woke up."

"Yeah, because you were screaming like a little girl." Amelia said, although there wasn't any bite to her words. "Besides, it's not like it hurt you that bad."

"Didn't hurt me that bad?" Jonathan asked incredulously. Ash noticed that they seemed to have forgotten about him. Apparently this was an old argument between them. "I was sick for a week and still have nightmares about that damn bird."

Amelia rolled her eyes and waved her finger at him disapprovingly. "Language," she said condescendingly. "What would your mom say if she heard you say that?"

"Don't remind me." Jonathan grumbled. "Remember that one time when –"

Ash decided to put an end to the conversation. He was tired, and there reminiscing was starting to get on his nerves. Even if the story about the murkrow was pretty funny…

"I see a place we could set up for the night." Ash interjected, pointing out a small area a few feet away from the trail. Several picnic tables and chairs were there, making it much nicer than the other places they'd stayed. Another pond was next to it and reflected the sunset.

Jonathan grinned and walked over, leaving Amelia behind and huffing in annoyance. Ash shrugged and followed sluggishly. They quickly delegated the responsibilities again, although Jonathan groaned when he realized he'd have to get the firewood again. Ash didn't envy his job, not if Jonathan was half as sore as he was.

Ash didn't focus on him too long, instead refilling everybody's water and releasing Nidoran. Pidgey stayed in the ball. It would probably be best to wait until morning before releasing the bird. By then it would be completely recovered.

Soon enough everyone had completed their routine and Jonathan came back with a much smaller pile of brush than usual. Ash knew that for once he wouldn't be the one putting out the fire. He just wanted to sleep.

He rolled out his sleeping bag and got in, feeling Nidoran burrow into his side. The last thing he heard was the muttered conversation between Amelia and Jonathan, filled with laughter and jokes.

XxXxXx

Ash practically leapt out of his sleeping bag as a sharp pain erupted throughout his side. All of his fatigue vanished as he glared down at Nidoran, whose ears were twitching. The small creature's eyes were nervously glancing around the campsite and Ash realized that something was wrong.

Jonathan and Amelia were still sleeping, but Ash resolved to change that. He quickly skirted around the small ring of stones and the smoldering remains of the fire and lightly kicked Jonathan in the back. The other boy groaned and turned over but didn't wake.

Ash groaned in annoyance and kicked him again, this time much harder. It wouldn't really hurt Jonathan, but it might give him a small bruise for a few days. This time it worked, and Jonathan snapped up and glared at Ash.

"Don't say anything." Ash said sternly. "Nidoran thinks something is wrong, so we should probably get out of here."

The other boy grumbled a bit but began to pack up his things. Ash walked over to Amelia and repeated the same process he had done with Jonathan. She was a much lighter sleeper than either of the boys and scrambled out of her sleeping bag on the first light kick.

"Is something wrong?" She asked once she'd awoken. Ash nodded and explained the situation. Amelia seemed alarmed – she always read about pokemon at school, so she probably knew that nidoran were good at sensing danger – and quickly packed her things.

Ash got all of his stuff packed pretty fast. He'd only taken out his sleeping bag and a small bag of food for Nidoran, so there wasn't much to do. By the time he was done Amelia and Jonathan were impatiently waiting next to the tables.

Just as he began to walk over – recalling Nidoran as he did so – he heard what seemed like dozens of loud, shrill cries. All of the trainers' eyes widened as they recognized the familiar call of a flock of spearow.

"Crap!" Jonathan exclaimed as he began running down the path. "Run!"

Ash and Amelia were only too happy to follow suit and ran down the path after their friend. Neither could run as fast as Jonathan – he was one of the fastest kids in Pallet Town – but they managed to keep up as they ran from the flock of spearow. Ash could hear the flocks' wings beating as they continued to cry out.

He took a chance and looked behind him for a moment. Ash instantly regretted that decision. Several dozen spearow were following the group and some had even begun to overtake them. He could see that several had managed to get in front of Jonathan.

The trainer hoped that they would get bored, but after what Amelia had said about them he doubted it. Spearow were notoriously fierce when protecting their territory, so the only way they would escape the flock was if they passed the unseen barrier that marked the end of the flocks' land. Of course, their territory might be too far to escape from, especially if they were led by a fearow.

As if to confirm his fear, he heard a deeper, more intimidating squawk that rose above the chorus of spearow. Ash cursed and focused on running, doing his best to ignore his sore muscles and the fatigue that was rapidly building up in his legs. He could see that his friends were slowing down as well, although both were still managing to keep ahead of him.

Even as his body began to slow down, the burst of adrenaline he'd received when he saw the flock chasing them fading, he focused on just running. The sound of air being displaced by the spearow just a few feet behind him kept him going.

Until he tripped, anyways. Ash cried out as he fell onto the rough path and skinned parts of his forearms. The others turned back to look at him in panic, but he tried to get them to move on. The spearow wouldn't kill him – very few people were killed by pokemon, and those that were killed using died due to an accident, their own negligence, or one of the powerful, raging pokemon like a gyarados – even if they would probably hurt him a bit. Jonathan and Amelia could just find help and come back to get him.

"Run!" He shouted at his friends, even as the caws of the spearow grew ever closer. "I'll be fine."

Jonathan was all too happy to follow his orders – probably too terrified of the birds to do anything helpful anyways – but Amelia hesitated for a moment before the rapidly approaching flock and their fierce cries got her to leave.

Ash closed his eyes and covered his head, anxiously awaiting the sharp beaks and claws that were sure to come. He waited for a moment, and was surprised when nothing happened, although he could still hear the spearow just behind him.

Suddenly, he heard a deep voice call something out. Ash began to look up just to be nearly blinded as a blindingly bright bolt of electricity arced through the air before striking the flock behind him. Ash hissed in pain as his vision went completely white and focused on what he was hearing.

The trainer could hear small thumps as the spearow hit by the bolt of lightning fell to the ground. Ash's vision was beginning to clear up, but he still couldn't see very well. He began to stand up when he noticed that almost every spearow seemed to have been knocked out, but went back down as he heard the fearow's annoyed shriek.

He looked back up and managed to see a glimpse of a massive, dull orange bird flying at a high speed towards the direction of the voice that had probably saved him a lot of pain. Ash's vision finally cleared aside from a few flashing spots and he managed to lock his eyes onto the fearow as it swooped downwards.

Ash saw a yellow, canine-like pokemon that was shooting small bolts of electricity off of its body as it casually dodged the large bird, who nearly face planted into the ground before pulling up at the last second with a loud call. He watched the pokemon – which he recognized as a jolteon – dodge another swoop before the voice called out another command.

His eyes focused on a tall teenager. The mystery trainer had a cap on that hid their eyes and had a wide grin on his face as he pointed at the wary fearow that circled above them. Jonathan and Amelia were standing next to the stranger with amazed looks as they watched the jolteon.

"Hyper beam!" The teenager shouted. Jolteon didn't show any sign of hearing it other than opening its jaws and tracking the fearow. Small orange particles of energy began to coalesce into a ball of fiery energy in the jolteon's mouth before a powerful beam erupted from the jolteon's maw.

Ash was awed by just how powerful the move was. It blasted through the air, narrowly missing fearow. He thought that it was over, but the jolteon swept its head to the side and caught the fearow in the beam.

Fearow shrieked in panic as the beam swept over its chest, singing feathers and blasting it away. The large bird managed to catch itself slightly before it slammed into the tree and collapsed to the ground in a state of unconsciousness.

Even if the bird had fainted in the end, Ash was more impressed that it had managed to withstand a hyper beam. He'd been reading up on some of the more advanced attacks on his pokedex, and hyper beam was definitely one of the most notorious moves in that regard.

His attention was soon drawn to the trainer again, who was ruffling the jolteon's ears in pride. Ash noticed that the small bolts of lightning that were still arcing off of the jolteon's fur didn't seem to bother him at all.

Ash stood up and began to walk towards the trainer and his friends, ignoring the dozens of unconscious spearow behind him. He already had a pidgey, so wasn't particularly interested in having another pokemon that was practically identical. Besides, spearow were pretty aggressive and he'd heard that a lot of them fought with their trainers' other pokemon.

"Are you all right?" Jonathan called out as he approached them. His face wasn't quite as pale as it had been when they'd first started running and he seemed to be back to normal.

"Yeah." Ash responded. Amelia looked concerned, but looked satisfied by his answer. He turned his attention to the mystery trainer. "Err, thanks for saving me from those spearow."

"No problem." The other trainer grinned. Ash could see that he had warm brown eyes and dark red hair, but was otherwise pretty average looking. "My name's Michael. What's yours?" He asked, sticking out his hand.

"Ash." He responded, shaking Michael's hand. The older trainer's eyes suddenly returned to the unconscious fearow and pulled out a pokeball. Michael carefully threw the pokeball and easily caught the fearow.

"Sorry about that." Michael said once he'd called the pokeball back to his hand. "But that fearow is the whole reason I'm down here. The League heard about the flock and hired me to capture it."

Amelia's eyes brightened. "You work for the League?"

"Not officially." Michael shrugged. "I do a few odd jobs for them, but it's on a pretty infrequent schedule. Mostly I just take care of aggressive pokemon and catch them. After that I either keep them or just give them to the League."

"What about those spearow?" Jonathan spoke up, saying the word spearow with distaste.

"Those little guys?" Michael asked, sending a glance to the small birds. "They won't be a problem. Most of them will just go back to their nests now that the fearow is gone. It's always the fearow that turns them aggressive."

Jonathan just nodded, but still glared at the fallen birds.

"Anyways," The older trainer continued, "are all of you okay?"

The group nodded. Ash's scrapes were just a small nuisance.

"Good. So, you guys are on your way to Viridian City, right?"

"Yeah." Amelia responded. "How far away is it? We've been travelling for a few days."

Michael thought for a moment. "Two hours, if you can keep up with me. I need to get back to Viridian anyways, so I might as well get you guys there too."

"We can keep up." Jonathan said resolutely, puffing out his chest in pride.

"Alright then." Michael grinned. "Let's get going."

XxXxXxXx

They arrived at Viridan two and a half hours later. The entire group - except for Michael - was sweaty, dirty, and tired and couldn't wait to get to Amelia's sister's house. From the way Amelia and Jonathan fondly recalled memories of the place it was rather nice.

Michael accompanied them through Viridan, saying that he could wait a while before heading to the Pokemon Center. That would be there next location after they dropped their things off and got cleaned up.

Ash was amazed at the size of Viridian and eagerly took in all of the sights that he could. He had never been to a city before, aside from a few visits to nearby cities when he was younger, and was amazed at how much bigger everything was than in Pallet Town.

His amazement soon ended, his fatigue winning out over the sights. Fortunately, Amelia's sister – a twenty year old named Jessica – lived close to the city's border. The Pokemon Center was only a few minutes away, so they wouldn't have to worry about getting lost.

As they walked towards the small home that Amelia and Jonathan pointed out, Ash decided to ask Jonathan what pokemon he had. Maybe he would have a fighting type. He still wasn't sure how he was supposed to teach Nidoran double kick.

"What other pokemon do you have?" He asked curiously. Michael perked up, clearly happy with this line of questioning.

"Aside from Jolteon, I've got a steelix, gyarados, arcanine, machamp, and alakazam." Michael grinned, aware of the awed looks on the group's faces.

Amelia spoke up first. "That's incredible!" She exclaimed. "Most of those are really hard to control. How long have you been a trainer?"

"Six years, give or take a few months." Michael shrugged. He turned his attention back to Ash. "Why did you want to know?"

"Well, I wanted to know if you had a fighting type." He admitted, nervously scratching the back of his hat. "I don't know how to teach my Nidoran double kick, and that's the only move he can learn that could hurt Brock."

"Brock, eh?" Michael said. "I remember him. Yeah, I can give you some pointers. The secret for a Nidoran is to just get it to jump and use the attack. Their legs aren't long or strong enough to do the kick by themselves, so you've just got to get gravity on your side and then just drop kick."

"How will I know if I've got it right?" Ash asked curiously. "I know that I've seen a lot of fighting moves glow, but I don't know if that's just a technique or not."

"In a way, it is. The glowing limb or area is the part that's going to be used in the attack, but the glowing itself is caused by complete mastery of the attack." Michael explained. "When your Nidoran evolves it'll take a bit of time and practice in order to get it used to the attack enough for it to glow."

"I get it." Ash nodded, noticing that both Amelia and Jonathan were listening intently in hopes of getting a few tips. "Thanks."

"No problem." Michael shrugged. He suddenly stopped in front of a small, grey house. Despite its drab color it looked rather happy looking and possessed a homely feel. The grass in front was slightly overgrown and he could see a massive Persian happily curled up on the small porch.

"This is it!" Amelia cried. She ran towards the house, closely followed by Jonathan. Their fatigue seemingly vanished in the face of hot food and showers. Michael and Ash trudged towards the thick wooden door, attempting to ignore the large Persian that stared at them as if they were nothing more than a rattata.

Ash noticed that Michael examined the Persian for a moment as they passed it. Amelia had given it a few scratches behind its ears as she and Jonathan had waited on the others and the feline was purring happily.

Once everyone had assembled on the small white porch, Amelia loudly knocked on the door. Ash could hear footsteps approaching a few moments before the door opened, revealing a happy looking teenager with a stark resemblance to Amelia. She looked to be about eighteen and her warm brown eyes widened when she saw the group.

"Hey, Amelia!" She said before grabbing her younger sister up in a hug and picking her up off the ground. Amelia coughed from the force and her sister blushed in embarrassment before putting Amelia back down.

"Hi, Jessica." Amelia wheezed out. "I don't know if Dad told you, but Ash is going to be staying with us. Is that guest room still there?"

"Yeah." Jessica said. She turned to look at Ash. "Sorry, I didn't recognize you. How long has it been? Three years?"

"That sounds about right." He responded. Jessica nodded before turning to Jonathan. The other boy grinned at her and held out his hand.

Jessica just smiled and wrapped him up in a hug. "Hey, Johnny. You need to come out here with Amelia more. It's been ages since I saw you."

"Only a few months." Jonathan grinned back as he stepped out of the hug. Now Jessica's eyes moved onto the last member of the group. When she saw Michael, her face twisted into distaste. Ash thought it was odd on the woman's perpetually smiling face.

"Oh, great." She said in annoyance. "It's you."

"I'm not particularly happy about this either." Michael responded with a roll of his eyes. "I thought that I wouldn't have to see you again after knocking you out of the Conference a few years ago. Anyways, I suppose I'll be leaving now. Good luck to all of you."

"Wait, wha—" Ash and Jonathan spoke in unison, only to be cut off by Michael practically fleeing the area. They looked at each other oddly, each regretting the fact that they wouldn't be able to grill the other trainer for more advice.

"Good riddance." Jessica growled before brightening up. "Anyways, come on in. Amelia, Jonathan, you can have your normal rooms. Ash, I've got a guest room that you can stay in. I'll have one of those two show you to it later."

They all nodded and obediently followed her into the home. It projected the same cheerful feeling as the outside of the house, and Ash noticed that several pokemon were idly laying about. The Persian that had been outside followed them in, butting its head into Jessica's leg. She absentmindedly scratched it as she showed them to a small room filled with couches and comfortable looking chairs.

"Have a seat." She said. "I'll be back in a few minutes with some food. I remember how hungry I was after going from Pallet to Viridian."

The group thanked her and picked out their seats. Amelia took an entire couch all to herself while Jonathan found a large recliner. Ash found a couch. He jumped when a small creature shaped like a exclamation point floated up from next to where he sat, earning a laugh from his companions.

"What is that thing!" He hissed, pointing at the strange creature that stared at him with its blank white eye. Amelia laughed for a second before calming down.

"That's an Unown." She said. "Jessica caught it in the Sevii Islands."

"An Unown?" Ash said, meeting the creature's stare with new interest. "Aren't those legendary in Johto? The Thousand Arms of Arceus, or something?"

"Yep." Amelia said smugly. "They're really rare. Jessica's gotten all kinds of people wanting to study it, but she won't let them. She's afraid they might hurt the little guy."

"Is it very strong?" He asked curiously. Legends were legends for a reason, and anyone who managed to catch them had to be really strong.

"No, it's not." A new voice said, breaking into the conversation. Ash looked over and saw Jessica carrying a tray of food. She handed it out to the hungry trainers before continuing. The Unown floated over to her and levitated next to her head.

"He's not very powerful at all, and is practically useless in battle." She continued. The Unown hummed in a tone that Ash construed as irritated, but quieted down when Jessica patted it calmingly. "But he's very intelligent. I don't know why he let himself be captured, but he's been a big help. He can get some of my pokemon that aren't very aggressive a lot more pumped for battles, so that's helped me out."

The Unown hummed again before levitating out of the room. They all looked at it leaving for a moment before digging into the hot food. Jessica watched them with a mix of disgust and bemusement.

"Is that how I ate at your age?" She asked. "No wonder all of my traveling partners left me. That's just appalling."

They ignored her, but by the time they'd finished eating Ash and Jonathan had some questions for her. Ash began to ask her about Michael, but Jonathan beat him to it.

"So, what's up with you and Michael?" He asked, swallowing the last mouthful of food. Surprisingly enough he had been the cleanest eater out of all three of them. "He seemed like a nice guy."

Jessica rolled her eyes and leaned back in her chair, petting the massive Persian that had just leapt up onto her lap. "I'm sure he is, but we have our share of distances. We didn't get along back when I still travelled, and he was what trainers would call my "rival". Neither of us liked each other very much, but were both similar in skill level and encountered each other a lot. I'm sure at least one of you will have one by the end of the year."

All three glanced each other. Jessica noticed it and smiled.

"Looks like you got started a bit early. Who is the lucky guy?"

"Gary." The group answered in unison. Jessica laughed but turned serious after a moment, turning back to Amelia.

"You sent me a message about an injured Bulbasaur. Can I see it?"

Amelia's eyes widened as she realized that she'd forgotten about the grass type and quickly released it. Bulbasaur took a fighting stance and looked at the Persian before charging it. Its trainer groaned as she realized that it thought it was in a battle and tried to call out a command to stop.

Persian lazily yawned and batted Bulbasaur away as it tried to tackle the great feline. Bulbasaur finally heard its trainer's commands to stop after it got back up and glared at the Persian.

"It looks fine to me." Jessica said with a grin. "A few scabs and bruises, but nothing to be concerned about. If a pokemon is that willing to fight it probably just has minor injuries. You shouldn't even bother going to the Pokemon Center."

That cheered them up, but their conversation soon fizzled out. The group's exhaustion had begun to catch up to them, and Amelia soon called dibs on the shower. Jonathan rolled his eyes but didn't say anything, content to wait his turn. He was less bothered by the grime and dirt of the road than the other two and continued talking to Jessica.

Several hours later everyone was full and clean. Amelia had showed him the bedroom he would be staying in before she went to her own room to sleep, but Jonathan and Ash stayed up quite a bit later. Eventually they too began to tire, but before they went to bed Ash realized that he had forgotten about his pokemon.

"Hey, Jessica." He said to the tired woman. She glanced up at him, clearly waiting for his question. "Can I release my pokemon? I've got a Nidoran and a pidgey and neither have been out in a while."

Jessica blinked. "Yeah, that's fine. There's a perch in your room that your pidgey can sleep on. Your Nidoran can just go wherever. None of mine will bother it, but Persian might want to play with it."

Ash shrugged and thanked her before heading back to his room. It was small and painted the same dull grey as the rest of the house, but the bed was rather comfortable looking and there was a small eevee curled up on it.

He pulled the sheets back so that he could get in, unintentionally antagonizing the eevee in the process. It growled at him in a spectacularly unintimidating manner and went back to sleep. Ash smiled and released his pokemon before he got into bed.

Nidoran instantly walked over to his feet and sat down, but Pidgey seemed to be more resistant. The proud bird puffed out its small chest and leveled a steely glare at him, seemingly attempting to challenge him. Ash rolled his eyes and walked closer to the small bird, his bulk making it back down a little. Nidoran followed and growled at Pidgey, lowering his horn.

"Listen." He said calmly, kneeling to the bird's level. "We can do this the easy way or we can do it the hard way. If you accept that I'm your trainer now everything will be fine. If you don't then I'm going to have train Nidoran on you. What's your answer?"

Pidgey tried to meet Ash's eyes but looked downwards. Its chest sunk down a little. Ash frowned at the disheartened bird, although he was glad that it had accepted him as its master. Maybe a real name would return its pride.

"So, do either of you want names?" He asked suddenly. Both of his pokemon stared up at him, although Pidgey nodded. Nidoran shook his head. Ash frowned in concentration as he thought of a suitable name for Pidgey. He'd heard that pidgeot had impressive plumage. "Alright. Pidgey, is Plume a decent name?"

Pidgey nodded and fluttered its wings. Ash almost jumped as the bird landed on his shoulder, digging its sharp talons into the covered flesh. The newly designated Plume nipped his ear, although it wasn't painful.

"Alright, you can sleep on that perch over there." Ash said, pointing out the small, gnarled branch that extended from the wall. Plume fluttered over to it and nuzzled her head into her wing as Ash flipped the light switch.

Ash had carefully picked Nidoran up before turning off the lights. He was careful to avoid the poisonous barbs covering his friend's back lest he accidently poison himself. Nidoran was completely still as Ash placed him onto the bed, right next to the sleeping eevee.

He yawned as he slipped into the bed and felt blackness begin to overtake him. The last thing he felt was the comforting weight and warmth of Nidoran and the eevee.

XxXx

The next morning, everyone was frantically trying to get ready. They wanted to make some progress into the Viridian Forest, but they had all overslept an hour or two. Luckily, Jessica had stayed up a bit later last night and prepared food and replaced their supplies for them. That cut nearly half an hour of waiting time out.

Eventually the group was completely ready, each in clean clothes and more than ready to tackle the Forest. It was just a twenty minute walk away, so they weren't in such a hurry once everything was packed. Jessica was giving them last minute tips, but Ash noticed something on the newspaper.

He curiously examined the photo of a grim looking Michael outside of the Pokemon Center – which seemed to be slightly damaged and covered with soot – with his jolteon standing next to him. Michael looked far more dangerous than Ash had thought the teenager could. The teen had a scowl on his face and his eyes – despite being nearly hidden beneath his hat – blazed with anger.

Above the large picture that covered nearly a quarter of the page the headlines read in massive print: Trainer Defends Pokemon Center! Team Rocket members still at large!"

Ash didn't have time to read it before Amelia walked over.

"What's holding you?" She asked. Ash looked up and realized everyone else was ready to go.

"Nothing much." He replied and held out the newspaper. Amelia took it and began to look at it. "Now check out the headlines."

"Wow." She muttered, her eyes growing wide as she looked at the scowling face of Michael. "He must be really strong to be able to beat Team Rocket. It says here that he almost captured them with just his Jolteon. They escaped in a…balloon?" Amelia said incredulously. "Who uses hot air balloons for anything?"

"I don't know." Jessica said, butting into the conversation. "But don't try to follow his example. Michael's not my favorite person, but I know that he's strong enough that Team Rocket won't want to bother him. They know their limits and will certainly limit their activities when he's in the area."

"How do you know all that?" Jonathan piped up. He didn't move from his position by the door.

"He was my rival." She shrugged, avoiding his real question. "It was my business to know how strong he was. And he was stronger than most trainers even a few years ago. Michael's probably only gotten stronger since then. But that's not important. What is important that you stay out of Team Rocket's way. Run if you can, only fight if you have no other choice."

They sighed and nodded. Even if they would rather fight the criminals, they realized that their pokemon wouldn't even be a challenge for hardened Rockets.

"Alright." Jessica smiled. "Now get going. By the way, Amelia, I'm planning on entering the Indigo Conference this year. I'll just fly around to get my badges."

"That's great!" Amelia exclaimed. "Maybe I'll get to battle you."

"Maybe." The older girl shrugged. "Now, you should go before it gets too late. The Viridian Forest isn't a fun place to be and you need to get as far in as possible. Good luck."

The group thanked her and finally left Viridian, all eager for what was to come.

XxXxXxXx

"It's getting dark. Should we find a place to stay for the night?" Jonathan said, breaking the comfortable silence. Ash and Amelia quickly agreed, both beginning to tire. They had been walking through the dense forest for nearly six hours, although there had been breaks in the constant battles with wandering pokemon and the "bug catchers" – new trainers that tried to catch the easily available bug types and train them into fighters.

As Plume had proved when she singlehandedly wiped out a full team of three caterpie, a weedle, and a beedrill, they weren't doing a very good job. Charmander had defeated the others just as easily and appeared to becoming far more skilled with his flames.

Amelia had seemed to take joy in beating the appallingly weak trainers. Bulbasaur had spent quite a bit of time mastering its grass moves before Amelia had told him to knock out the bugs, and Rattata had proved just how brutal it was when it used its sharp fangs to tear into the bugs.

They continued walking through the darkening forest for several minutes before finding a good spot. It was wide open and next to a small stream and would be easily defendable against any of the highly territorial pokemon that made their home in these woods.

Once their routine had been completed Ash released Nidoran. He had about two weeks before he would have to face Brock at Pewter City and he would need every second of spare time to teach Nidoran double kick. Focus energy was already mastered, so at least he could fall back on that if he needed to.

Amelia and Jonathan released their own pokemon that needed to learn moves. Jonathan had Charmander scratching at a rock, which was apparently one of the best ways to learn metal claw. Amelia had Rattata attacking a tree with its long fangs so it would learn hyper fang. Bulbasaur was strengthening its vines by holding up large rocks.

All of them made progress. Charmander's claws had begun to shine brightly and make thin gouges into the rock, although the lizard still had a bit more to go. Jonathan was quite pleased with his pokemon and gave it an extra bit of food, which Charmander happily ate before curling up and falling asleep next to his trainer.

Rattata's fangs had begun to glow a bright white whenever it lunged at the tree, and large chunks had been torn out of the wood. Amelia praised it and also gave it more food. Bulbasaur was exhausted by the effort from his own training and also received extra food.

Nidoran improved the most. Ash had managed to find a video of a Nidoran using double kick in the pokedex files and showed it to Nidoran. The small pokemon now had an idea of what to do, and had practiced jumping high into the air before drop kicking whatever he was told to. His small feet had begun to shine brightly whenever he did the move.

Everyone was tired by the time they were done and quickly fell asleep, putting out the fire before they got into their sleeping bags. The pokemon were left out in order to warn the trainers of any approaching bug types.

XxXx

The next two weeks passed in much the same manner. Trainers grew scarce as they ventured further into the massive forest, but their encounters with wild pokemon grew. Only the roving groups of pikachu could give them much trouble, but if the group managed to separate them they were easily fought off.

Most of the trainers they met now were much more powerful than the ones at the entrance of the forest and had teams full of beedrill and butterfree, although some had more exotic options such as a rare scyther or bugs from Hoenn and Sinnoh. Only a few trainers had a more varied team, which showed them as trainers that were in the same situation as the group.

All of their pokemon had grown much stronger from the constant battles and had toughened up a considerable amount. Bulbasaur's bulb was growing larger, showing that it was nearing evolution, and had learned razor leaf and had mastered poison powder.

Charmander had perfected metal claw and could easily tear boulders apart. His tail's flame had begun to glow brighter and his skin had taken on the slightest hint of red. His evolution was also nearing.

Nidoran had mastered double kick several nights ago and had taken to using it in combination with focus energy during battles. Ash was glad that Nidoran seemed to be quite skilled with the move and knew how to apply it to great effect.

According to their map they were only a few miles from Pewter City. The forest was already beginning to thin and everyone was anxious to finally return to civilization. Their clothes were dirty, their hair was matted, and tempers had begun to fray. There still wasn't any real conflict, just slightly acerbic comments and cutting criticism, but everyone could see where the situation was taking them.

As they walked down the path through the thinning forest they were all feeling extremely anxious. Civilization was a welcome thing right now and each of them couldn't wait to get clean and eat all that they could. The pokemon also seemed desperate to get out of the forest. None of them naturally lived in forests, so they were all uncomfortable with the trees.

Just as they walked out of the clearing, a long, shining blade sliced through the air in front of them. Ash jumped back in a panic, hurriedly releasing Nidoran. He jumped away – closely followed by his shocked companions – and looked at the source of the attack.

Ash rolled his eyes and sighed as he saw a determined looking kid garbed in fake looking samurai gear glaring at him. Unfortunately the sword was very real, as shown by the sharp edge. The kid looked at them proudly and buried his sword into the soft ground before speaking to them.

"Are you trainers from Pallet?" He asked, leaning on the sword. Ash noticed that his helmet was slipping to the side as if it hadn't been put on correctly.

"Yes." Amelia answered cautiously, a hand on Rattata's pokeball. "Why do you ask?"

A wide grin split across the kid's face and he released his grip on the sword and withdrew a pokeball. He tapped the button and released a large pincir that clicked its large horns ominously at Nidoran.

"I was defeated by a trainer from the town of Pallet!" The kid exclaimed. "Now I must regain my honor. Prepare to be defeated!"

"You want to take this?" Ash asked Jonathan. The other boy grinned widely with a gleam in his eye. Jonathan laughed at the expression on the kid's face when he saw Charmander.

"Your fire lizard shall not defeat my Pinsir!" The boy cried. "Pinsir, use hyper beam!"

The group's eyes widened and their jaws dropped as small particles of orange light began to gather in the gaping maw of the pinsir. Jonathan recovered from his shock quickly and began to command Charmander.

"Dodge it!" He shouted. Charmander barely jumped to the side before the hyper beam burst from the pinsir's mouth, the powerful beam missing Charmander by a great distance and blasting through the trees. It was clear that the pinsir wasn't very experienced with the powerful attack, as it only managed to keep the beam going for a single blast. The pinsir was tired from the attack and collapsed to the ground for a moment, although it began to pull itself up.

By the time it was ready to fight again, Jonathan had already acted.

"Ember." He said. Charmander reared his head back and released a small ball of flame that hit pinsir. The tired bug had no chance against the attack and fainted, leaving Jonathan with a pleased smirk and the Samurai Kid with a crushed expression.

"How did you beat my Pinsir?" The Samurai Kid shouted angrily. "Your pokemon shouldn't have been able to dodge the hyper beam!"

"Oh, calm down." Jonathan replied, patting Charmander's head before returning the lizard. "Maybe if you actually trained your pinsir with it you would have won."

The Kid's face turned red with anger. "How dare you insult me! I still have a pokemon left. Put your lizard back out."

"Fine, I just hope –" Jonathan ceased his talk when he began to hear dozens of wings beating and a low buzzing sound echo throughout the forest. Everyone looked around the clearing nervously as the buzzing grew louder.

Jonathan quickly released Charmander again. Ash and Amelia released all of their pokemon, afraid of whatever was causing the noise. The Samurai Kid just ran away as fast as he could, something that made them realize that the situation was very bad.

A few moments later a dozen beedrill burst through the trees, their stingers raised and dripping venom. They instantly zoned in on Jonathan and Charmander, although a powerful ember forced them to stay away.

Ash knew he wouldn't be able to help much with Nidoran, so he recalled the small pokemon. Plume was awaiting orders, her wings tensed and ready to launch her into the air at a moment's notice. Amelia had already acted, ordering Bulbasaur to use vine whip and razor leaf on the beedrill.

"Gust!" He shouted, his voice barely carrying above the loud buzzing. Plume's sharp hearing picked his words out, however, and the pidgey burst up into the air. With a few beats of her small, powerful wings Plume had thrown several beedrill onto the ground where they were easily knocked out by Rattata.

Unfortunately the rest of the beedrill realized the threat Plume posed and went after the bird. Ash called out a warning but Plume was too slow to dodge the numerous barbs that shot from the beedrill's stingers.

The poison stings hit their mark and Plume began to fall to the ground. Ash ran to catch her, but the remaining beedrill tried to do a similar attack on him. He saw the small, sharp barbs flying towards him and closed his eyes even as he attempted to jump away.

Ash prepared to feel the barbs injecting poison into him, but instead heard a loud gale of wind. He opened his eyes in wonder when he didn't feel any pain and saw that the beedrill were flying away. A magnificent bird flew after them, throwing them down to the ground for Rattata with a single flap of its powerful wings.

When all of the bugs had been defeated the bird swooped down onto Ash's shoulder. Ash buckled from the bird's weight but managed to keep from going to his knees. He was aware of the amazed stares coming from his companions and looked at the bird.

A proud pidgeotto stood perched on his shoulder. The body had grown and become more powerful, but the fierce glimmer in the black eyes of the bird marked her as Plume. Ash winced as she nipped at his cap – the bird now much too tall to nip at his neck as she had before – and the sharper beak penetrated his hat and drew a bit of blood. Nevertheless he raised a hand to pat Plume on the beak.

"Thanks for saving me." He whispered. Plume chirped – a rather disconcerting sound coming from such an incredibly massive bird – and took off of his shoulder and into the air. Ash winced as the sharp talons dug into his shoulders through his jacket and gouged into his flesh.

He returned Plume and turned back to his amazed companions.

"Let's get to Pewter." He said before walking back down the path. The others stared at his back for a moment before following.

XX

"What kind of idiot uses hyper beam in woods where beedrill are known to nest!" Jonathan exclaimed, dramatically throwing his hands into the air. "How did he even teach his pinsir that move anyways? There was no way someone that inexperienced actually managed to teach it."

"Probably a TM. That pinsir obviously had no idea what it was doing. Remember how fast Michael's Jolteon used it?" Amelia responded as they entered the Pewter City Pokemon Center.

They had arrived at the city roughly an hour after their spat with the beedrill and Jonathan had been speaking about the idiocy of the Samurai Kid the entire time. Both Ash and Amelia certainly agreed with him, but would be much happier if he would just drop the subject. Aside from a strange man attempting to get them to buy random rocks nothing interesting had happened since they left the forest.

"Sounds right." Jonathan shrugged. "So, who wants to fight Brock first? Our pokemon are fine aside from a few bruises and I want to get going again as soon as possible."

The group looked at each other, none willing to let the others go in front of them. No one said anything for a while until Amelia finally broke the silence.

"Rock-paper-scissors."

Everyone decided that that was fair. Ash ended up winning the most out of three rounds, so he would be the one to battle Brock today. He just hoped that Nidoran was ready.

After the order was decided – Amelia would go after Ash and Jonathan would go last – they got two spare rooms in the Pokemon Center – Amelia would be in one while the boys shared the other - and put their stuff in them. It was barely noon, so they had plenty of time to shower and change their clothes.

An hour later, when everyone felt refreshed, they got directions to the gym and made their way to it. The gym was just a short distance away in the small city, and when they finally got to it Ash was practically jumping in excitement.

The gym was much less imposing than he had imagined, Ash mused as he walked to the heavy wooden door. It had thick slabs of stone at the front, supported by massive wooden beams. The stone only covered the front, though. On the back and the sides it was just an ordinary looking building.

Ash and the others struggled to get the heavy door open, although a good push forced it inwards. The room was dark and he could feel hard stone underneath his feet as he slowly walked in. He saw that there was a thin path of flattened stone that led to a small, lit area.

A teenager with dark skin and a green vest on sat on a small pedestal. Ash assumed that it was Brock. The teenager stayed still as he saw them enter.

"What are you here for?" He asked in a deep voice. Ash took in a deep breath and ignored his nervousness.

"I'm here to battle you for the Boulder Badge." He replied. Brock nodded – Ash noticed that the teen's eyes were almost completely closed, strangely enough – and began to speak again.

"It will be a two-on-two battle. You can switch pokemon. The victory will only go to whoever knocks out all of their opponent's pokemon, although forfeit is allowed. Are you ready?"

Ash nodded. Brock stood up and led them to a massive room.

He looked at the massive chamber in awe as he stepped in and examined the landscape carefully. The gym's interior had been carefully molded into a rocky battlefield with a small flat area in the very center.

He looked around and saw that there were balconies far above the battlefield, presumably for spectators. Ash noticed that Brock had walked over to the opposite side of the massive battlefield and was patiently waiting for Ash to finish looking around. He saw Jonathan and Amelia up in a balcony.

"Are you ready?" Brock shouted. Ash nodded and sent out Nidoran. The small creature growled as it appeared in the center of the field.

"Your pokemon is cute." Brock called out. "But it's no match for me. Go, Geodude!"

A round rock with small, beady eyes and two powerful looking arms appeared in front of Nidoran. It crushed its stone fists together before glaring at the small pink creature. Nidoran growled at it and extended his barbs.

"Begin!" Shouted the gym trainer that would be supervising the match. Ash wasted no time.

"Focus kick!" He cried. Ash didn't want Brock to know what exactly he was doing, so he had changed the focus energy and double kick combo into focus kick. Nidoran instantly tensed up before leaping as high as it could.

"Tackle." Brock said lazily. Geodude tried to slam itself into Nidoran, but as it passed under the small creature Nidoran performed doublekick. Nidoran's glowing feet seemed to land in just the right spot and the geodude was knocked out.

"Impressive…" Brock muttered before grabbing another pokeball. "But that was just practice! Go, Onix!"

Ash blanched as the massive stone snake materialized in front of Nidoran, its crest lowered as it glared at Nidoran. His pokemon backed up a bit, his large ears twitching nervously, but Nidoran did not flee. Its barbs began to leak more poison as it growled at the onix.

"Body slam." Brock ordered. The onix roared and dropped its body on top of Nidoran. Ash didn't have to tell Nidoran to jump out of the way.

His thoughts raced as he attempted to find a way to defeat the onix. Onix weren't as powerful as they looked, but their massive bulk intimidated pokemon and made even a tackle ridiculously powerful. Their bodies weren't very hard, however, and they could be penetrated with the right attack.

"Focus kick." Ash repeated. Nidoran's ears twitched in confirmation and tensed before leaping up into the air. Onix didn't bother to dodge, confident in its defense.

Brock should have been more cautious. The attack got a lucky location – the soft skin in between the rocky segments – and onix roared in pain. Ash grinned and began to order a follow up attack, but Brock was faster.

"Dig."

Onix forced itself into the air before tearing into the ground. Its body quickly vanished into the hole made by its crest and Ash realized that this might be it for Nidoran. There was no way he could defend against an onix using dig. All he could do was capitalize on the opportunity in any way he could.

"Run around, Nidoran!" He shouted. Nidoran obeyed and ran in random patterns amongst the small rocky crags and the dirt floor. It did little, however. A few seconds afterwards onix burst up into the ground directly beneath Nidoran.

Ash gulped as Nidoran went flying into the air, propelled by onix's crest. If Nidoran just landed on the ground he would be badly hurt. But if he found a way to get rid of that energy…

"Focus kick!" Ash shouted in desperation. Brock's eyes widened and began to shout at his onix to dig again. The onix was too slow to avoid Nidoran's powerful attack.

Nidoran's feet glowed as it dropkicked the stone serpent. The massive amount of energy he had accumulated during the fall all went into the attack on onyx's large head. Nidoran's attack sent small cracks threading throughout onix's head and knocked the rock type unconscious.

As onix's massive body crumpled to the ground a great amount of dust was kicked up. Ash held his breath and silently hoped Nidoran was alright. He hadn't been able to see the small creature's body due to the dust and didn't know how badly he had been hurt by the fall.

There was nothing but silence in the chamber as they waited for the dust to clear. Ash released his breath when the dust cleared, revealing that Nidoran was slowly crawling off of onix's body.

Nidoran ran to Ash in excitement when he was safely off the onix. Ash praised him and patted the small pokemon on the head for a while before returning the tired pokemon. When he stood up from his kneeling position he became aware of a tall figure just a few feet away from him.

"You did good." Brock admitted, holding out a small badge shaped like a boulder. "Here's the Boulder Badge. Are your friends going to come back tomorrow?"

"Thanks. They'll be here tomorrow."

Brock nodded in satisfaction. Ash supposed that he needed some excitement. It couldn't be easy to just sit on that pedestal all day.

Ash soon found himself outside the gym with Amelia and Jonathan. They seemed rather impressed with his performance, although he was just glad that Nidoran hadn't gotten hurt and that he'd won the battle.

"That was awesome!" Amelia said loudly, attracting the attention of several passerby. "I thought that you would end up losing against the onix, but you actually pulled out a win without Nidoran fainting! Me and Jonathan are going to have to do really good to outdo you."

Jonathan just nodded, although he had a grin on his face. Ash expected both of his friends to win their battle.

XXX

Amelia's battle had just begun. It was a one on one battle and she had chosen Bulbasaur. Brock had used his onix again and it seemed warier than it had the previous day. It tried to dodge the worst of the attacks and was doing surprisingly well for such a bulky creature.

"Rock throw." Brock commanded. Onix tore a piece of one of the small mountains off with its powerful mouth and hurled it at Bulbasaur.

"Dodge." Amelia shouted. Bulbasaur used his vines to pick itself up and avoid the massive chunk of rock.

"Now, vine whip!" She cried. Her pokemon lashed out at the onix with its vines, the effective attack cutting into the thick stone of its body. Bulbasaur continued to use vine whip against the weakened onix, although Brock soon put an end to that.

"Dig." Onix performed the same maneuver as it had with Nidoran and tunneled through the earth until it was directly below Bulbasaur. Amelia fully expected that and had Bulbasaur push himself away with his vines.

Onix burst out of the ground, raining chunks of earth upon Bulbasaur and the two trainers and creating a massive cloud of dust. It seemed to know where Bulbasaur was, as it quickly snaked its way towards a specific location.

"Stun spore!" Amelia shouted, unwilling to let the onix get close to Bulbasaur. Ash could see just the barest hint of golden spores coating the massive stone serpent before the dust swallowed it back up.

"Slam." Brock said. Onix roared and reared up out of the dust cloud before falling down onto Bulbasaur. Its movements were slow and thick, proving that the stun spore had worked effectively. Amelia ordered Bulbasaur to dodge and Ash saw just the smallest hint of a small green body through the cloud.

"Now, razor leaf! Finish it off with vine whip." Amelia ordered. Bulbasaur – now out of the dust cloud – obeyed and fired dozens of sharp leaves at the stone snake. Onix roared in pain as the leaves cut into its stone body, but collapsed when Bulbasaur used vine whip one last time.

Brock sighed when onix fell to the ground, but handed Amelia the Boulder Badge anyways. Amelia grinned and ran out of the gym after praising Bulbasaur for his victory.

XxX

"Metal claw." Jonathan said. Charmander's claws grew metallic and shiny as they gouged into Brock's graveler. The rock type roared in pain and tried to use fight back but Charmander ignored its resistance and continued to tear into it.

After a few moments the graveler fainted and Brock sent out a rhyhorn. It dumbly looked around for a few seconds before focusing on the fire type. The rhyhorn charged at the lizard, fiercely roaring as it neared its target.

"Metal claw." Jonathan lazily repeated. Charmander nodded and casually sidestepped the charging rhyhorn, tearing into the stone body of its opponent as rhyhorn passed. The rhyhorn tried to turn and attack Charmander, but it ended up flipping over and slamming into one of the stone hills.

Ash and Amelia both blinked as the rhyhorn accidently knocked itself out. Jonathan's battle had been shorter than either of theirs and he and Charmander had proven to be powerful fighters. Charmander was surprisingly agile and fast, although it still barely managed to dodge the worst of the rock attacks.

Brock seemed just as dumbfounded as he stiffly walked over to Jonathan and gave him the Boulder Badge. He also seemed to be talking about something to the other boy and Ash saw the gym leader recall rhyhorn and hand the pokeball to Jonathan, who reverently took it from Brock's calloused hands.

"Did he just give Jonathan a rhyhorn?" Ash asked Amelia as they stood up and walked out of the balcony.

"It looks like it." Amelia responded, equally dumbfounded. Although Jonathan was a good guy, he wasn't someone that you would give a pokemon to. He could be rather irresponsible at times.

Ash just shrugged and walked out of the gym, closely followed by Amelia. Jonathan had a wide grin on his face as he waited for them. He was tossing the pokeball up and down in the air and didn't seem to notice them at first.

When Amelia tapped him on the shoulder he took his eyes off of the pokeball.

"Can you believe it?" He shouted excitedly. "Brock gave me a pokemon! And I got the Boulder Badge too!"

"Why did he give you that rhyhorn?" Amelia wondered. Jonathan brightened even more and seemed to be practically bouncing around in excitement.

"Brock said that it was causing trouble around Pewter so he had to go catch it. He doesn't want to put the time into training it when he has several good teams already and figured that I could use it. Brock saw that I only had Charmander, so he decided that I would be able to put the rhyhorn to better use than either of you."

"That makes sense." Ash shrugged. "Anyways, let's get ready. Do both of you have everything packed?"

"Yeah." Amelia replied. "Hopefully we'll be able to get to Mt. Moon within a week. I don't want to be out in the wilderness for so long ever again."

"Agreed." Jonathan said. "I'm completely ready. Let's just head back to the Pokemon Center and –"

All of a sudden the strange man that had been attempting to sell them rocks outside the city shoved past them, rushing into the gym. They all looked at the man oddly before shrugging and continuing on their way to the Pokemon Center. They'd been meeting a lot of weird people lately.

XxXxXX

Ash stood outside of Pewter with his friends. Plume was flying overhead, scouting out their path and reporting potential dangers. The road could be dangerous and treacherous at times, so every bit of safety helped.

Amelia and Jonathan stood next to him, both looking eager and determined to get past Mt. Moon and into Cerulean City. It would be a long journey, but by the time they finished they would be much, much stronger.

He grinned and started walking. They might have all the time in the world, but he didn't have all of the patience in the world. Ash wanted to be at Cerulean as fast as he could.

And then he would get to show just how good he was.

 
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